THE END (OR, THE BEGINNING)
This is a little baby to pass the time between huge scenes of debauchery in my other stuff, so expect slush and lots of sweetness-and-light stuff. I'll get back to the depraved sex soon, don't fret. Just thought you'd enjoy a change of pace.
Nothing is mine. At all. That's all I have to say.
Sheridan wandered into MedLab with a tired smile, tugging at the hem of his jacket; he'd been wearing the new uniform for a couple of days now, but he was still unused to the softer black material rather than his usual blue Earthforce garb. His day was over: he'd just come off shift, but something - someone - had drawn him to the darkened MedLab without bothering to change into civilian clothes. It was the first time, since the station had come back online, that he had managed to find time to see her - even just to reassure himself that she was healing, however slowly. He found the room he wanted easily enough; the duty nurse held up a hand to restrain him, but relaxed when she saw who he was and simply put a finger on her lips, pointing to the door. He nodded silently in understanding, entering the room as softly as he could.
Delenn lay sleeping quietly, showing no sign of how close she had come to fatal injury just a few days before. He looked down at her with that tender smile he had never allowed her to see, one hand hovering over hers. Awake, it was her eyes that revealed the strength and beauty in her soul; asleep so peacefully, she had the innocence of a child. He watched her tenderly for a long moment, reaching out absently to touch her hair, smoothing it back from her cheek.
Her eyelids fluttered; he withdrew his hand, not wanting to disturb her so late in the evening, but her eyes opened and she looked up at him with a half-awake smile.
"John..." "Hey." He smiled apologetically. "I didn't mean to wake you." He kept his voice low, running his hands down the new uniform he now wore. "I just... I thought you should see how it looks." Delenn smiled, and he didn't disguise his own grin as she took in the sight of him in what was, for all intents and purposes, Minbari uniform. He wondered if she liked what she saw.
"Thank you." There seemed to be some subtext to her quiet words that he didn't quite grasp. Her voice was weak, subdued, but her smile was genuinely pleased; at least until she tried to move, unable to cover the sharp wince of pain that accompanied it. Sheridan frowned, concerned, taking her hand soothingly in his.
"Does it still hurt? Do you want me to get a doctor?"
"No." She winced again, trying to settle into a comfortable position after sleeping since the early afternoon. "I - will be all right. It is only... sometimes."
"I'm sorry," he said contritely, sinking onto the chair beside her bed where he presumed Lennier had been sitting earlier. "How long are they keeping you in here?"
"I don't know." She held onto his hand as he tried to move it away, but he didn't put up much resistance. Sheridan smiled gently, looking down at her fingers clasped firmly around his. When he looked back up at her, a light blush coloured her cheeks: his smile became tender, wrapping his other hand warmly around hers.
"You didn't have to do it, you know." His tone was halfway to a reprimand, but he couldn't make himself angry at her when she looked at him with those gentle, tired eyes. She was quiet, unable to answer; he sighed ruefully, threading his fingers through hers and resting both hands lightly on the bed.
"I would never ask you to protect me," he pressed gently. She looked up at him, and he saw in her face that she didn't want to talk about this. "God knows I don't want you hurt either, Delenn."
"I was... afraid for you." Her voice was quiet.
"I know." He reached out a tentative hand to touch her hair, smoothing it lightly from her cheek. "When I heard those bastards had you..." He shook his head. "It terrified me. I just felt so helpless - I didn't realise how much I cared about you until I thought I might lose you."
"John." She smiled gently, squeezing his hand. "You will not lose me. No matter what happens." He was surprised by the confidence in her tone, although her voice was still weak. He put his hand gently to her face, his fingertips brushing her cheek, and she ached suddenly to be in his arms. She remembered vividly the few, bittersweet times he had held her close: in her grief after the Markab plague, longing for any living touch and glad it was his; in her relief and amazement when Sebastian had released her, so sure she was about to die; and vaguely, through a haze of shock and pain, the new memory of his strong hands catching her as she fell, panic in his voice as he called her name. Would there ever be a time when he would simply put his arms around her, for love of doing so and nothing else?
She felt hesitation and pain in his touch, then, as she looked up at him and wondered if her thoughts were clear enough for him to read in her features. Did he long to hold her as much, perhaps? Did he remember as clearly how it felt to have his arms around her?
The pain reached his eyes, and she saw that he did, at least, remember the last time his hands had touched her - was painfully more aware of it than she had been.
"When you were in my arms..." He seemed almost unaware that he was speaking, his voice sounding hollow. "I wanted to kill that guy. I nearly did."
"John." Even now, her tone was reprimanding.
"If you had-" He swallowed and looked down. "I would have done it."
"Not for me." The protest had something of horror inside it.
He looked suddenly guilty. "I don't know if it would have been..." His hand tightened momentarily around hers. "I guess so, yeah."
"You would not do such a thing for me." She sounded as if she were trying to convince them both. He saw how that idea shocked her, suddenly understanding how primitive he probably sounded.
"Delenn, I'm sorry. I didn't want - I didn't mean -" He sighed. "When I saw you - and the knife, and the look on that guy's face..." He shook his head ruefully. "I guess I just lost it for a while. I'm sorry?" She looked almost hurt by the sudden revelation; he reached out to stroke her cheek, wanting to soothe that painful expression. "I don't want anything to happen to you, Delenn. I care about you."
"Promise me." Her voice was suddenly fierce, almost desperate. "Promise me you would never do that. Please."
He blinked, surprised at the vehemence in her tone. "Okay." Anything to take away that distress from her gentle eyes. "I promise. Really. If it's what you want, I promise."
She looked relieved, and he made a mental note to one day find out what it was that bothered her so desperately. But not tonight, he reminded himself as she smiled thankfully at him again. He couldn't bear, after everything she had been through in the past few days, to bring that pain back to her features.
Instead he wracked his brain to find something he could say that would make her smile again, in that gentle way that made his day light up whenever she turned it on him. He still remembered, every somewhat schmaltzy instant echoing endlessly in the back - and sometimes front - of his mind, the way she had looked earlier: so calm and in control, so peaceful with no hint of the pain she had to have been feeling. His heart had jumped at the sight of her, and he knew that wasn't entirely due to her sudden injury. He'd been feeling that way about her for a while now.
And he'd finally told her. Finally, irrevocably changed their relationship forever with one simple grasp on her hand and the most sincerity he had ever managed to put into words in his life. Her fingers had tightened around his just the way they did now; holding onto him, reluctant to let go even as he stepped back and unwillingly broke the moment to allow her to complete the ceremony. Still, for all that it had been cut short, he didn't remember another time when he'd felt so wonderfully free of everything. Even, for just a moment, he'd forgotten why she was lying there: just understood that she was there with him, not needing to speak to tell him she felt the same as he did. A curious thought came to him and he smiled, glad to find something to say that would keep that warm sparkle in her eyes.
"I wanted to know... about earlier." He raised his eyebrows slightly in question, his smile widening as her expression echoed his own thoughts. "If you didn't say anything because of the ceremony, or..." He let the implication hang in the air, intrigued by her slight smile. "Something else."
"It is not forbidden to speak during the Nafak'cha." She smiled. "But there were others waiting, after all, and there was not much time left."
He flashed her a grin. "Next time can we arrange a private ceremony?"
She blushed deeply for some reason, her voice almost coy - so different from only a few moments before. "I could arrange it, if you wish. After I am released from here."
A private ceremony with Delenn? He dragged his Human mind away from any number of connotations it found in that idea. She was Minbari, for God's sake - she probably had some kind of religious observance in mind. *But at least it's the two of you alone,* he reminded himself. Time alone with Delenn - just what he was looking for in all this madness lately. "Sure." He found himself grinning at her. "I'd like that."
"As would I. I will see what I can do, if you really would like to-"
"Whenever you want," he assured her. "Just let me know as soon as you're well enough and we'll get right on it, okay?"
"Yes." Her smile looked oddly pleased for such a small thing. Did she want to see him alone as badly as he wanted it? "Although there are some preparations I may have to make first..." She yawned suddenly, trying to cover it: she failed and he grinned warmly.
"Anything you need. And right now, *that* is sleep." He shook his head at her protest, and before she could try to stop him stood up. "I'll try and come by in the morning, if you like."
"I would like that." Her voice was tired, her eyes closing. He slipped his hand out of hers, laying it comfortably on the bed before reaching over to stroke her hair.
"If you're awake." He smiled, reminding himself gratefully that her exhaustion at least meant she was healing. Brushing her hair back, he leaned over and kissed her softly on the forehead for a long moment. He could tell from her regular breathing and the way she jumped very slightly under his touch that she was still awake, but her eyes didn't open. He smiled and straightened up, reaching out once more to smooth her hair back into place. "Sweet dreams, Delenn."
There was no reply, but her eyelids flickered slightly. He grinned and turned for the door, leaving her to rest. A thought came to him: thinking her still awake he turned, keeping his voice light.
"Delenn? What's this ceremony called?"
There was no reply; from the door he could see her relax as she fell properly into sleep. With a fond smile and a nonchalant shrug, he turned and left the room, flicking the light off behind him. It would wait.
Delenn smiled to herself in the darkness.
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