To Memories, Committed

By Leyenn

RATING: PG-13

PAIRING: Susan/Lyta, (previous Susan/Talia)

CATEGORY: For the Christmas 2003 GiftFic challenge.

SUMMARY: Susan, a bar and a one night stand.

DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Fifteen fandoms and you'd think I'd get lucky at least once...

ARCHIVE: Want, Take, Tell.

******

She liked to call this place B5's gay bar. Not that B5 didn't have more than one, in various areas for various types and species, but this was as close as she'd ever found to that first, poky little underground club in St. Petersburg she remembered from her holidays home at seventeen. Her hunt for Stephen, years ago, had brought the place to her attention; now it was the easiest place to find and not be recognised, and she really didn't want to be tonight.

Equal rights, of course, meant that segregated bars were completely unnecessary. Politically speaking. For anyone with an ounce of common sense and some trace of decency that didn't relish the idea of approaching dyed-straight women at every turn, that was quite obviously a pile of bullshit. On the rare occasions that Captain Susan Ivanova honestly wanted company, it helped to know she wasn't spending the night with spoo on the menu when she was hunting a nice roast duck.

Besides, the vodka was always cheap.

Hence, bored with the details of a resupply she could have run in her sleep and yet still seemed to take forever, she found herself perched on a bar stool nursing a straight vodka on the rocks and trying to block out the droning of whoever this woman was standing to her left.

Ten minutes of her life being about all she was willing to give someone who thought chat-up lines came in packs of five, she was about to think up a satisfyingly cutting brush-off when tanned hands dropped onto the bar at her other side and a swathe of red hair intruded on her vision.

"I'm don't think she's interested."

She tried not to look round; not that she had to, to recognise a voice so ingrained into her memory of past years.

Her admirer had no such qualms, obviously, and a glare she almost admired. "I don't think you're her keeper."

Red hair, and a red-lipped smile. "I'm her lover."

The look that passed over her head obviously did the job it had always been able to do, since the woman finally gave up with a wave of her hand and a snort as she walked away. Ivanova grit her teeth and swirled her drink.

"That was completely unnecessary." And she wasn't the slightest bit relieved. Or amused. Not in the slightest.

"You wanted her?" Lyta shrugged and turned around to lean against the bar, throwing out a negligent hand with her fingers stiff, as if ready to grab-

"Don't!"

Lyta looked back to her and dropped her hand, suddenly smiling. "You don't want her after all?"

Ivanova swallowed. Her hand was at Lyta's elbow and she drew it back quickly, more afraid to not have noticed the touch than wondering what it might do. If Lyta wanted to get at her mind, one hand through light cloth wasn't going to make the difference. "Just don't. Don't do... that."

Lyta met her gaze so solidly for a moment, she wasn't sure if it was anger or amusement in the look. Then she shrugged.

"She didn't know who you are, you know. I don't think I'm in any danger of being recognised."

"What made you think I was worried about that?"

Lyta raised an eyebrow without looking at her.

She shot back a hardened glance. "I'd know. And I'm not in the mood for games - especially not with you."

"I thought you liked playing games with teeps." There was a gentle amusement in Lyta's voice, strangely, when she said that. Almost sympathy.

Ivanova tossed back the rest of her vodka and tapped the bar to get attention.

"Another one." She waited for the order a long minute; Lyta stood, watching the room, holding her drink without another word. Not really knowing why, when Ivanova had the comfort of another vodka back in her hand, she filled in the silence herself.

"Talia wasn't a game."

"She never was much for places like this."

Ivanova kept herself staring at the bar, remembering. Lyta had known Talia, the same way she had. And Lyta had been the one to take that away.

And then Lyta had gone through some shit herself, a traitorously fair part of her recalled. In the end they were all just damned pawns in a game they weren't about to win.

"So." She took another slow sip of vodka, rolling the last of an ice cube over her tongue. "What brings you back here?"

"G'Kar." Lyta looked over at her, obviously catching her surprise. "You didn't hear?"

Ivanova shrugged. "I never asked."

"He offered to take me with him. Earth wanted me missing. It seemed to be a fair deal." She pointed at the dance floor huddled away at one end of the bar. "Interested?"

"I don't dance."

Lyta blinked at her flat tone; a moment later she returned the look with one of almost sympathy. "With telepaths."

"No." She shrugged. "I don't dance. Never have." And Lord, did the girls back home try making her, usually to the detriment of their own health.

"That's too bad." Lyta threw a quick look over her with frighteningly normal eyes and a quirked little smile. "You look like you'd be quite the mover."

It slipped out before she could catch it. Maybe the vodka here was too cheap. "Who says I'm not?"

Lyta settled her glass back onto the bar and for the first time in years, actually turned to face her head on. Smiling. Almost laughing, in fact. Uh oh.

She didn't believe in lines, but apparently she'd just given one.

And she wanted company, damn it, someone who saw more to the galaxy than damned resupply lists and polishing jumpgates. Someone she could fuck over the way life seemed to make a point of doing to her, and not really give a shit about never seeing again.

It was Lyta who took the glass from her fingers. "Sounds like we're a good match... Captain."

Lyta had quarters; Brown Sector, untraceable, not even under her real name. Lochley didn't like her, apparently; Ivanova smirked as she tossed her jacket away, remarking that they had something in common. She didn't mention who she meant. Lyta didn't ask.

It wasn't the way Talia had been, and she was ruthlessly glad of it. Talia had been love of the worst kind, the kind that got under her skin and gnawed at her heart until there was nothing left. Lyta was firm muscle working under her hands, a body tanned by a dozen suns pressed to hers, deft fingers inside her in the darkness over and over until for a brief moment, nothing of her life remained.

If she slept, she didn't remember it.

She woke up in an empty bed, showered in a grimy bathroom stall, dressed in silence until she remembered where she'd thrown her jacket and edged out to find Lyta in what passed for the kitchen.

Something in her refused to keep from speaking, even something useless. "Where are you-"

"No idea." Lyta shrugged pleasantly. "I never know. It's actually starting to be part of the fun."

"I envy you."

"That's up to you." A smile tugged at her. "I'll bet your pert young officers don't smell as bad as G'Kar after five days of his 'muse' talking. Mostly telling him not to bother with little things like food and the shower."

She managed a smile in return, a small effort but a smile nonetheless. "Maybe I don't envy you."

"Give it a few more years, and you will."

Ivanova looked at her sharply: Lyta gazed back, unfazed, sympathy back in her eyes. "People like us, Susan - you, me, G'Kar, we changed the world. Too much to go back and live in it."

She shrugged into the jacket with a snap of her shoulders. "You should stay out of G'Kar's head. I think it's doing things to you."

"You wouldn't know if it was, would you. We were never friends." There was nothing of disappointment, nothing of anger in Lyta's voice. Somehow that made it worse. "I don't think I'd miss you, Susan. If you fade away into your job and I never see you again, I really wouldn't be concerned."

She fastened the last clasp roughly and glared. "Glad to know I'm such a memorable lay, after all that."

Lyta smiled as if she hadn't heard and went back to making breakfast for one. "Just make sure someone does remember you, Captain. It's a terrible thing to be extraordinary and forgotten."

Not knowing what to say to that, Susan Ivanova turned and left the room. Left the room, left the level, found the first shuttle she could, bullied a dock worker and made it out before her exec could even get out of bed. The resupply finished under her watchful eye before midnight: they were past Babylon 5 space before she even thought of where they were going.

It came a year and a half later. Nothing fancy; a time stamp in Centauri on a few simple words.

You will have word of the destruction by now. She learnt well. She wanted you to know. Remember her. G'Kar.

Captain Ivanova filed it away and flicked on the news.

******

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