UNSPOKEN WORDS

By Leyenn

 

 

 

I hesitate to point out a flaw any author's scenery, especially in light of the amazingness of Babylon 5, but I often wondered about this scene and as the series is now finished I felt I'd have a go at rectifying a small oversight in 'Sic Transit Vir' - that being *finish what you started!* I don't know about anyone else but speaking for me, if I'd been about to do the dirty with John Sheridan/Delenn (whoever floats your boat) then I sure as hell wouldn't have left in another couple of months if *I* was interrupted. Maybe that's my libido talking, but never mind. Personal feelings aside, I thought it was a little silly - not that I'm critising, you understand. :)

    On with the show.

 

 

 

 

*****

It had been a tiring day, and now John Sheridan was inordinately looking forward to going home, eating something outrageously filling and getting an early - for him - night's sleep. *Besides,* he reminded himself wryly, *I probably won't get a full night in anyhow.* Ivanova had solved the crisis with 'Abrahamo Lincolni', and although a fairly large docking dispute had arisen - yet again - it had finally been sorted that morning. That made two big crises in three days, and another one sure to crawl out of the woodwork. It was like he'd said to Delenn a few days ago: they'd had a break, but it hadn't lasted. He sighed and turned the corner to his quarters. He still felt bad about running out on her that way the other morning: he didn't like cutting their time together short for any reason, but given the rather... complicated... situation they'd been in he felt even worse. He hadn't had time to see her at all since then, and he wondered if maybe she was avoiding him, embarrassed to see him after what had happened. What had almost happened. What they had wanted to happen.

    His opinion altered somewhat when he opened his door. He strode through to the bedroom, really not paying attention to the room, then stopped and slowly backed up the few steps until he was level with the couch.

    "Did Ivanova let you in here?"

    The half-Human, half-Minbari Ambassador smiled, a little amused.

    "She wished to make up for her... indiscretion, or so she told me." Her eyes sparkled with laughter. "She said it would be a 'nice surprise'."

    Sheridan opened his mouth, closed it again. "I- Well, i-it is. I just, uh, wasn't expecting it, that's all."

    Delenn laughed then. "That is the object of a surprise, is it not?" He looked embarrassed, suddenly incapable of speech, and she took pity on him. "I was looking for you, but Ivanova told me you had already left your office. She gave me your access code. She said I should talk to you, after what happened between us." She smiled coyly as she gracefully rose from her seat. "She also informed me that there would be no interruptions this time."

    He couldn't help but smile back. "Well, good. I was beginning to think the whole galaxy was in league against us." She was quite close now, he realised, had stood up almost directly into his arms where he stood over the couch. He didn't move back: he wasn't about to waste this opportunity; but he made no other move, aware that Delenn was controlling this encounter. There were no excuses now: intent evident in her features, she looked up, and their eyes met as she placed her hands flat on his chest. He smiled encouragingly and slipped his fingers under hers, holding her hand gently and stroking it with his thumb. His voice was gentle, and very quiet when he spoke.

    "Think we should finish what we started?"

    Delenn smiled into his eyes. "I do not like leaving a task incomplete," she replied softly. "It is... annoying."

    "Very," he breathed in agreement, his mouth scant millimeters from hers. Her lips were parted slightly, as if she were about to speak again, but she never got the chance. He tilted his head slightly, lowering his mouth to touch hers, and she closed her eyes and reached up to him. The first moment their lips met was hesitant, exploring, but that didn't last long as both became more certain of each other; he tightened his grasp on her hand, holding her close to him, and Delenn responded in kind, leaning into his body.

    He smiled into the kiss, and Delenn couldn't help but break it to smile back up at him. He was head and shoulders above her, but it was obvious that physical differences aside, they would be equals in this. Sheridan looked down at her, holding her gaze in his, watching her reaction as he released her hand and put both arms around her waist, pressing her lightly against him. Her eyes widened slightly, a little surprised at the movement: then she smiled and reached up to put her arms around his neck. His gentle approval encouraged her, taking the uncertainty from her expression as she met his kiss again. She felt the warmth of his body held up against hers; the way his arms tightened around her as she parted her lips and he deepened the kiss; the welcoming touch of his hands on her hair, finding the edge of her crown.

    He pulled back, and she was afraid for an instant. "I'd forgotten..." His voice was tender but unsure. "It felt so natural to - to hold you, to kiss you... I'd forgotten how new this probably is to you. I'm sorry," he apologised sincerely. Delenn smiled.

    "There are... things... that we do differently," she admitted, her hands flitting delightfully over the back of his neck. "But this really isn't all that new to me, John." Her eyes were filled with merriment as she added, "We are the same in the ways that matter. It is not as if I have never kissed anyone before. I only..." She smiled shyly, almost sheepishly. "I thought you were going slowly with this because it has never been done before, because of who we are, not because you didn't know what to expect from me." She blushed contritely. "Now I am the one who must apologise. If I had realised, it would have been nothing at all to 'set the record straight,' as you say. I'm sorry."

    Sheridan laughed in relief, amazed. "There's no need to apologise, Delenn, really. It's my own damn fault - if I'd bothered to do some research, there wouldn't have been a problem."

    Delenn shrugged and smiled. "There is no problem now."

    A knowing smile spread across his features. "No, there isn't..." He leaned forward and caught her mouth with his, wrapping his arms tighter around her waist, drawing her to him. The kiss this time was deep and slow and intense, something indescribably passionate in his gentleness as he held her in the circle of his arms. Delenn adjusted her arms around his neck, running her fingers through his hair. It was strange, but definitely not unpleasant; soft, almost silky in texture, and smoother than the little bodily hair some Minbari possessed. She explored it curiously as her mouth explored his, probing lightly with her tongue. This she knew: this came easily, so easily when she was with John. From the moment she had first seen and spoken to him there had been an attraction there, a connection that could not be ignored. Many times she had wanted to let it free: after the Markabs; when he had held her after her ordeal with Sebastian; when he had taken her hand on the White Star with the 'rain' pouring down around them - and more recently when he had told her in MedLab, with his eyes if not his words, that he loved her. He was telling her now, too, she thought with an inward smile: no one could feel such passion and deny that he loved her, that they loved each other, even if no words had been spoken.

    She brushed her fingertips over the nape of his neck; delighted when he shivered and tightened his hands on her back, she began to trace feather-light patterns there. He pulled away, and her expression faded briefly into concern.

    "Did I hurt you?" He seemed to think for a moment that she wasn't serious; when he realised she was, his eyes shone with love for her. He chuckled and shook his head.

    "No, Delenn, you didn't hurt me. You are in the process of suffocating me, however."

    She laughed, only a little embarrassed. "I'm sorry."

    Sheridan laughed outright and shook his head again. "Don't be. If I have to die, I can't think of a better way to go." He grinned and stepped back to look at her, making sure he kept his hands on her waist. "I was going to get something to eat. Did you want something?"

    Delenn opened her mouth for a second, obviously trying to find some tactful words. "John, perhaps - it might be easier if I were to cook. If only to save us the cleaning up afterwards," she teased, unable to resist. He looked slightly affronted.

    "Is there something wrong with my cooking?"

    Delenn smiled, trying to placate him. "No, no, of course not. I just thought - it has been a long day, and you must be tired, and your arm has not fully healed yet-"

    "It's all right," he interrupted. He smiled sheepishly at her apologetic expression. "I know I'm a bad cook, okay? You don't have to make excuses. If you want to make something, that would be great - and certainly more edible than whatever I try to rustle up."

    Delenn smiled and slipped reluctantly out of his arms. He stood watching her as she went to the kitchen, and the sensation of his eyes on her brought a rush of heat to her cheeks. She smiled at him - then turned purposefully away, or they would certainly have nothing to eat that night. Judging the work surface to be clear enough for a simple meal, she began to explore for ingredients. Closing a low cupboard, she started in surprise as John came up behind her.

    "It's a bit of a mess," he explained apologetically, his arms sliding easily around her waist. She leaned back against his chest, unable to move while he held her but unwilling to make him let go.

    "I am curious," she teased. "You tell me that you only - what was it? That you simply 'grab' food on your way in. How do you manage to turn you kitchen into such a mess?"

    He shrugged. "Skill, I guess." He grinned and nuzzled her hair. "It needs a woman's touch."

    Delenn smiled, tilting her head slightly in approval as he kissed the edge of her crown. "Do not think that I..." She laughed. "I am hardly a 'gourmet cook' either, John. Being tidy does not equate with being talented."

    Sheridan shrugged, unfazed. "You're talented in a few other areas that matter much more," he said as he worked his way carefully along her crown, placing exploring kisses wherever he could reach.

    "John," she said lightly. He hummed against her crown and she closed her eyes briefly, lost in the sensation. Catching her breath, she opened her eyes and said in a soft, sensual voice, "If you do not stop doing that, neither of us will be eating for a very long while."

    He kissed the tip of her crown and lifted his head. "Sorry," he whispered, and she heard a mixture of amusement and pleasure in his tone.

    "I do not mind," she assured him. "It is just that if you do wish to eat, then it might be easier if you didn't..." She coloured slightly. "There are certain things that we do differently, as I told you."

    "Ah." He winced and let her go, hoisting himself onto a bar stool to watch her. She was torn between gratitude and annoyance, but she tried to push her attraction to the side for a moment. It was no use: when she saw him looking at her, her heartbeat began pounding relentlessly in her ears. She blushed, looking away, and with his help managed to find the ingredients for a relatively decent meal. Directing her from his stool, he went silent as she started to prepare the food: finally, he couldn't be patient any longer - he had to ask.

    "So... what do you do differently, exactly? I mean, is it, you know, compatible, or what? Do you, um..." he made a vague gesture that couldn't possibly be representative of anything.

    Delenn smiled, knowing she had the upper hand in this situation. As a Minbari learning to be Human, she had done extensive research into everything she could lay her hands on - apart from John, of course. As such, she knew the details of such intimate rituals: he, on the other hand, had had no cause but his own curiosity to research her people's customs or physiology. From the look on his face, she concluded safely that he had not indulged that curiosity.

    "It really isn't very different at all," she assured him. "There are just certain... biological variations. Obvious ones," she added quickly. He nodded, smiling and a little relieved.

    "So that's it? It's all basically the same?"

    Her eyes danced with amusement. "Basically, yes. We are physically very similar, John, given the wide variety of species in this galaxy," she reminded him. "We have the same principle makeup: it isn't surprising that we do many things the same way." Smiling, she leaned briefly over the bar to look into his eyes. "It does depend somewhat on the body's structure, after all. There are only so many ways to procreate." He choked and she laughed. "Do you expect that I am totally innocent? I have had a life before you, John. This is not the first relationship I have ever experienced..." she leaned across and kissed him. "Although it will be the last, I promise you." There was a moment of tenderness that she allowed, enjoyed, before the warmer squealed and she turned her attention back to their meal. "But that does not alter the fact that I do know what I'm doing, despite the... changes I have made."

    "That doesn't worry you?"

    "No." She looked surprised. "Do you think it should?"

    He shrugged, uncertain how to phrase his words. "Well, I mean, I don't want you to worry unnecessarily, but - well, it's a big jump for you. Are you sure you're ready to be in a relationship with someone from another species?"

    Her gaze was steady as she looked at him. "Is this your way of telling me that you are not ready?"

    "No!" He reached across and grabbed her hand, making her look him in the eyes, see the truth of what he told her. "I am ready, Delenn. I have been almost since I met you. I just don't want you to take such a big step without being certain you're ready. I worry about you," he admitted. "I know, I shouldn't, you're a grown woman and you can take care of yourself, but I can't help it. I want everything to go right with us."

    "Nothing ever goes right all of the time," she admonished gently. "It is the things that go wrong which prove everything else worthwhile."

    "I don't need anything to prove to me that you're worthwhile, Delenn," he said earnestly. "I know that already."

    She smiled. "Then it is others we need to convince." At his saddened expression she reached across and touched his cheek. "Do not worry about this now, John. Tomorrow, perhaps, but not tonight." With a smile, she kissed him on the cheek. "Tonight, we will have a quiet dinner and think of other things."

    He smiled, noticing her subtle emphasis on a quiet meal. "Okay."

    "Good." Delenn slid her hand out of his. "Dinner is ready." She busied herself finishing the meal and carried it to the table, and Sheridan joined her. It was a simple dinner - Delenn was by her own admittance not an especially talented cook - but one enjoyed by both. They ate at a Human-style table rather than the ceremonial table Sheridan had obtained for their last evening together, but Delenn assured him that Minbari did not eat so low to the floor all the time. Such tables were only used at special occasions, which made Sheridan slightly embarrassed. He was even more embarrassed at her reply, however.

    "It was a special occassion, John," she assured him. "I was honoured that you followed my traditions. Although, as with many things, we have more in common than you think."

    Sheridan smiled, stood and cleared the table quickly, putting their empty plates in the cleaner. Delenn moved gracefully over to the couch and he joined her a few moments later. He wasn't aware of their physical closeness until she shifted up to him and he realised he'd put his arms around her - it was so easy, so natural, he hadn't even noticed the motion. Delenn laughed softly and slipped her hand into his. It felt like the thousandth time rather than the first, and her slightly wondrous expression qualified the sensation.

    "How..." she looked up at him, tracing the profile of his features. "I don't understand how it could be..."

    "Neither do I," he replied in an equally soft voice. "Maybe we don't have to. Maybe it's just enough..." something in her eyes made him silent, so instead he turned slightly and kissed her. It seemed to mean the same.

    She was reluctant to let him go, but when she did he looked down at her, tender, serious eyes exploring her face. "Delenn..." He took a deep breath and paused. She smiled but waited patiently, and finally he spoke again.

    "You know that I love you, Delenn, don't you?"

    She gave him that expression that was half-frown, half beautiful smile. "I thought you were about to ask something else, then."

    He frowned now. "You did? What?" Before she could answer, he repeated urgently, "You do know that I love you, don't you?"

    She smiled and took his face in her hands. "Yes, John, I know. I've known for a long time." She stroked his cheek lightly: for a moment he was back in time, begging her with his heart if not his words to stay with him, to leave the Markab alone and yet knowing that he loved her more for the fact that she could never do so.

    Delenn smiled tenderly, seeing the memory in his eyes. "You know that I love you too, yes?"

    He smiled and nodded, pressing her palm to his face. "Of course I do."

    He'd expected her to be at least a little relieved: but she looked proud, if anything. It unnerved him slightly that she had been so confident of his feelings for her - could she really see into him so clearly?

    Seeing his incredulous response to her seeming certainty, Delenn smiled and looked slightly shy. "John," she said in a lightly teasing voice, "do not assume that simply because I do not show everything I feel, I am oblivious to certain feelings. I have always been... uncertain... about us. About everything, perhaps, since I became what I am now." She blushed and now looked very relieved; for his benefit, perhaps. "It is a relief to know that my feelings are justified."

    Sheridan frowned lightly. "Did you ever think they wouldn't be?"

    Her eyes shone in that way that said she was teasing him now. "I might have entertained the notion..." At his reproving frown she laughed. "For a little while, yes," she admitted. "But... well, it became quite obvious soon after." She smiled and he did his best not to look too affected by her blatant teasing. Delenn shrugged and settled into his arms. "Now, are you going to ask what I imagined you would ask me?"

    "That depends..." he had a pretty good idea what she meant, but he wasn't about to dive headlong into anything, "...on what your likely answer would be." She kept silent, but her ever-expressive green eyes gave her away. "In that case, Ambassador, would you be so kind as to spend the night with me?"

    Delenn smiled and sat back to look up into his eyes. "I would be honoured," she said in a mock-formal tone with a little bow. Sheridan laughed.

    "I am the one honoured, Ambassador," he answered with a grin. Delenn laughed.

    "Thank you for the compliment," she said with a demure smile.

    "The first of many," he replied gallantly.

    Delenn laughed delightedly and wrapped her arms around his neck as he pulled her up from the couch. Smiling in anticipation, she grasped his hand and let him lead her to the bedroom. Inside, he turned to her and smiled as she came naturally into his arms.

    "I want you to know, I don't usually do this on a first date," he assured her with a hint of bemusement.

    "I will take that as another compliment," Delenn laughed. "And no, I am not in the habit of bedding every male I happen to find pleasing, so do not look at me that way."

    "What way?" He was trying to be defensive, but it came out as sheepishness. She smiled and ran a fingertip along his jaw.

    "That way." She kissed him lightly and sighed, shaking her head at him with a smile. "The look that says you expect me to be completely new to this situation. I admit, I have never taken advantage of this body in that way, but even religious caste Minbari are not completely chaste." At his shocked expression, she laughed gently. "Take me for what I am, John. I am Minbari, I am experienced, but I am also yours." She lifted her head confidently, her face alight with amusement and her eyes sparkling. "Do what you want with me."

    He grinned and, catching her gaze, laughed. "You're going to regret you said that."

    "I doubt it very much," Delenn returned, allowing him to pull her down onto the bed. "You may, however..."

    * * * * *

    "Regrets are strange things," he said philosophically, gingerly combing out a tangle in her hair with his fingers. Delenn lay comfortably in the crook of his shoulder, her arms wrapped about him, one hand lightly on his chest. She was smiling, her eyes sparkling with laughter and affection in the aftermath of their recent lovemaking. Her dark hair was slightly mussed, her crown half obscured in a forest of long tresses. Her clothing, however, was meticulously neat - the only difference being that it now adorned a chair in John Sheridan's bedroom rather than her half-Human form.

    "Why do you say that?" She tilted her chin up, rubbing her cheek affectionately against his shoulder.

    "I don't know, really. I was just thinking about what we were talking about earlier - about regretting tonight. It's strange how the things you really should regret, you never do."

    Delenn gave him a speculative expression. "Should we regret this?" she asked innocently. He scowled playfully at her.

    "Come on, now, you don't think the rest of the galaxy is gonna take this lying down."

    "Why not?" She shrugged. "We are."

    He looked at her, and laughed. "Why do I even try?"

    Delenn shrugged again. "I do not know why you're asking me. I am not the slightest bit interested in the rest of the galaxy right at this moment."

    "That makes a change," he teased. She shot him a glare that evaporated quickly under his gaze.

    "Am I really so..."

    "Focused? Stoic? Determined? Yeah, really." He chuckled, and she smiled at the warm feeling of his laughter vibrating against her hand on his chest. "You're so damned selfless, Delenn. It's like no one can touch you - you're out on a crusade to save the universe, and God help anyone who gets in the way. It's a noble idea, but sometimes it seems like you forget you can't do everything alone." He traced her cheek meaningfully, and she was surprised, even after what had happened between them, by the tenderness in his touch.

    "Is that really how you see me?"

    He smiled. "Yes. But I love you anyway, if you don't mind having me tag along on your little crusade."

    Looking slightly abashed, Delenn shook her head. "I do not mind. I hadn't realised... do others see me that way as well? So... mysterious?" When he nodded, she ducked her head shyly. "I don't mean to be. I just - have things I can't tell anyone else. Things I know, that no one else should."

    "We all have secrets," he shrugged off her words, content that she had opened up that little way for him. "Maybe one day we could trade a few."

    Delenn sighed, and he sensed his feet on a path they weren't quite ready for yet. "One day," he added firmly. "Not tonight."

    She smiled. "Then what should we do instead?"

    Sheridan grinned and slid down to her level. "I have just the thing..."

   

    It was late, very late, when Sheridan awoke to the sound and sensation of soft breathing against his neck. He tried to move, and found he couldn't: opening his eyes he looked down to find the cause of his restriction. The Ambassador for Minbar lay snuggled up at his side, her head resting on the pillow next to him and effectively locking his now-dead arm under her shoulders. He sighed and lay back, trying to ignore the throbbing in his arm, at least thankful it wasn't the injured one.

    "Damn." His voice sounded loud in the silent room: for a moment he was afraid he'd woken her. He looked across the check the time: it was barely past three in the morning. He wouldn't be working until the afternoon; Ivanova and Franklin had press-ganged him into taking the morning off to 'rest his arm'. "To get me away from C and C, you mean," he muttered to himself. Soft laughter echoed from the region of his shoulder.

    "Do you often talk with yourself in the middle of the night?" Delenn's smile sparkled even in the darkness as she lifted her head.

    "Not usually," he admitted. "Generally I'm asleep if I do."

    Delenn laughed again. "If you are asleep, how do you know you are talking to yourself? Would that not cause the conversation to be somewhat pointless?"

    He grinned, chuckling. "I know because people tell me I talk in my sleep. And I guess it is kind of pointless, but it's not usually up to me. It just happens."

    "Have you ever spoken to someone else while you were asleep?" Delenn was fascinated now.

    "A few times," he admitted. "Any reason why you're quizzing me about this?"

    She shrugged and lay down again. "I was just wondering if I should ever expect you to speak to me in that fashion."

    "Well now." He grinned and drew her close again, ignoring the tingling in his arm, and pulled the covers up tightly around them. "That all depends on how many chances you give me. It might take a while before it happens again. You'd have to spend a lot of time watching me sleep."

    "I do not see a problem with that," Delenn returned with a smile. "I hope you are going to provide entertainment, however."

    Sheridan grinned. "Oh, you bet."

    Delenn smiled, reached up and encircled his head with her hand, pulling him down to her for a long, intense kiss. "Good," she whispered back. "I was afraid I might have to provide my own amusement."

    He held her lightly, his hands playing over her naked body under the warm covers, his mouth only a short distance from hers. "I don't think that will be necessary," he murmured in a voice that was almost pure passion. "I'm sure we can find enough here to occupy us both for a long, long time."

    "I am sure we can," she echoed in reply, her lips finding his.

    * * * * *

    Delenn was the first to wake that morning, and it took only a few moments for the enormity of her naivete to strike her mind. In her haste to complete what she and John had so nearly started those few days ago, she had given no thought at all to the future - in particular, what Humans called 'the morning after'. She had planned everything up to that point with meticulous care, should it be necessary to fall back on a pre-ordained plan: however, the realisation that life went on after her first and most memorable night with the man she loved had only just begun to dawn. She checked the time, even though it meant sitting up in bed to look over John's still inert form. It was a little past eight thirty, and although she had no appointments until three o'clock she wasn't sure about John, or even if she might outstay her welcome by remaining. She knew so much about Human practices, but such simple things as 'morning after' protocol seemed to be inbred and she had never had cause to ask anyone's opinion until now. Now, the only option was to ask John, or to wait until he made it clear she was overstepping a boundary - which knowing John, she thought fondly, he would not do. He would rather let her get in the way than tell her to go. She wondered what she should do.

    Lifting her head again, she regarded her sleeping partner. They had always been partners, even before they were lovers or had even begun on the path towards that inevitable destination. Sheridan's face was relaxed in sleep, obviously tired and not just from his exhausting activities that night. Delicately, she reached across him and examined the dressing on his injured arm. The knife had slashed quite deep, cutting through muscle and only narrowly missing the tendon. It was obviously painful: when she touched the dressing he flinched and stirred.

    "Shh," she stroked his face, trying to still him, but her touch made him search for her in his sleep and he shifted heavily, rolling over towards her and pushing himself with his injured arm. The pressure made it collapse under his weight and he woke with a groan.

    "Try not to move," Delenn suggested softly, her voice low, as if she were almost afraid to speak. "Here, let me see." He fell onto his back again and she sat up, leaning over him. "John, you're bleeding. I think you should see Doctor Franklin."

    "It's okay," he assured her. "Stephen said it would bleed a little if I moved too fast and broke the sealant. Don't worry," he said firmly, reaching up to caress her cheek. "I'm okay, Delenn. It's just a scratch."

    "Then why are you bleeding?" she demanded.

    "I worried you, going out there, didn't I?" She blinked at the switch in subject.

    "Yes. I was afraid - that something might happen to you, that you would try to do what Security should have done and get yourself badly injured, or even worse." She blushed and looked away for a moment. "I felt strange, being in your quarters without you. Worrying about you. I felt - that I had no right to be here, to worry about your safety that way."

    "Of course you did," he assured her fondly. "You have more right than anyone to be here. And to worry about me," he admitted. "I'm sorry I was so foolhardy. I guess I've just gotten used to there being no one worrying about me; it's kind of hard to adapt again."

    "I am not the only one who worries about you," Delenn reprimanded him. "Everyone on this station worries for your safety when you do these things, John."

    He grinned. "But no one worries quite the way you do."

    "I hope not," she replied seriously. "I do not want to lose you, John Sheridan, and one day I know that will happen if you continue as you do now."

    He saw how much she really meant those words: how much she had been concerned that he would not come back to her. When he hadn't, when she had gotten the call from MedLab, he hated to think of her reaction.

    "I'm sorry, Delenn," he said honestly. "I didn't realise how much it bothered you. Like I said; I guess I'm not used to having someone else worrying whether I come home at night. It's been a long time since I've had a serious relationship, and even with Anna we were hardly ever together for long enough to start worrying about each other. I mean, I worried when she went on long trips, and I guess she worried about me too, but we never talked much about it. When you work they way we did, you don't. It's easier not to."

    "I know that what you do is dangerous, John." She smiled and touched his face. "You may not realise it, but my work is equally as hazardous."

    "I realise," he interrupted, trying to push away the memory of her limp body in his arms, her blood on the deck beneath his hands. Delenn smiled, obviously remembering with him.

    "Then it is better to do as you did - to let each other know that we care for each other, that we are concerned for each other. Otherwise there may come a day when we never have another chance, and I do not want to die knowing that I never told you how much I love you."

    Tears filled his eyes, and he wordlessly held her close, hoping she didn't see the wellspring of emotions swirling in his features. Delenn, however, was more observant and after a moment pushed him away.

    "John?" She stroked his face, searching for the source of his pain. "John, I'm sorry. I didn't mean-"

    "It's all right." He swallowed. It was amazing how much it still affected him, after all this time, even now he was with Delenn. "It's just that... the last time I saw Anna... we would always say that we loved each other before we left and the last time I - I was so busy, I wasn't supposed to have been talking to her then and..." *Oh, just spit it out, man.* "I forgot to tell her I loved her and I figured oh, it'll be okay, I can tell her next time I see her..."

    "Ohhh..." Delenn's eyes filled with tears at his loss. "I didn't realise... I'm so sorry, John, I didn't mean to remind you. I didn't know..."

    "It's okay. Really. It doesn't hurt anymore."

    She wiped his eyes gently and gathered him to her. "You are not telling me the truth, John, and you owe her that."

    He was surprised that such a simple sentence could bring about the reaction it did just then. He put his arms around her, pressing his face tightly into her neck. He'd carried the pain of Anna's death with him for four years, and now all that was left were the regrets: of time together lost, of words he could never say to her. He shifted around, still held in Delenn's comforting embrace, and cried very softly into her shoulder.

    She held him in silence, and when he had finished she let him lift his head and brushed his hand away, tenderly wiping his tears away. Her touch only brought more memories, more pain, making his eyes fill up again.

    "I'm sorry for this, Delenn," he said contritely. "I know this isn't what I should be doing right now, after we... I just need to, sometimes. I'm sorry."

    "It's all right." She smiled and kissed him tenderly on the cheek, running her fingertips lightly through his hair. "I do not mind, John. I am always here for you, you should know that."

    "I know." He took her hand and kissed her fingers. "But just... not now. You shouldn't have to watch me cry over my ex-wife the morning after we made love for the first time. It's isn't fair on you."

    "I am not *watching,*" Delenn argued. "I could never watch you go through so much pain alone, John. I love you too much. I am here to help you, to comfort you where she cannot.. and I hope, to take away at least some of the suffering you feel."

    The words he wanted to say just wouldn't come after that. "I love you so much, Delenn," he told her in a whisper.

    She smiled and took his face in her hands. "I know, John. I know." She gently caught an errant tear with her fingertip. "Anna would have known how much you loved her, John, even if you did not say the words. I know this, even more so than you could. I know how it feels to be loved by you; I know how easily I see your feelings in your eyes, how obvious it is that you love me. I know how you can make me feel by looking at me, by smiling at me or touching me; how special it is when you make time for me, when we spend time together. I *know* how much you love me, John, even without the words. And I know Anna would have known those things as well."

    His eyes shone with tears again, but before she could reprimand him he put a finger on her lips. "Thank you." His voice was barely above a whisper. She smiled tenderly and ran her fingers through his hair.

    "I love you, John, and I am sure that if Anna had ever loved you, she would have known how you felt about her. Words change nothing: it is what your heart says that matters. You will realise completely when you see how easily I see your feelings for me and how much I love you - you will know that she understood, just as I understand. Trust me." Her touch was comforting, gentle, her smile a little teasing. "Even if simply because Minbari do not lie."

    He smiled. "I guess there is that." Catching her hand in his, he pressed her palm to his lips and held it there, almost hiding behind her hand. Delenn waited, understanding he was reclaiming the last of his control and knowing that perhaps, at long last, he had let go of the regrets. Eventually he let go, but she kept her hand on his face, trailing her fingertips across his cheek, brushing his lips, toying with a lock of hair falling into his eyes.

    He sat quietly, rapt, as she continued her tender exploration. Her fingers almost lazily caressed his temple, the line of his jaw and down to his chin before she smiled and touched one fingertip to his lips. He opened his mouth slightly and enveloped her exploring finger, kissing it gently, sensually. Seeing her plainly reacting to his movements, he paused and held her hand in both of his.

    "Delenn, I'm sorry that I lost control just now. I know you don't mind, you want to help, but it wasn't right after such a special night for us." He kissed the back of her hand. "I'd like to make it up to you, if I may."

    Delenn smiled warmly and put her arms around him again. "In that case, Captain Sheridan, I'm all yours."

    He smiled and enveloped his new lover, his gentle, caring Minbari, in his arms again, finally content. No regrets.

    "What more could I want from life?"

 

 *****

 

 

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