TO SAVE A LOST SOUL
To Save a Lost Soul This story takes place about 17 years after the Interstellar Alliance is established and Season 5's episodes. It started out dealing mostly w/Delenn and John, but as time progressed, it became also Susan and Marcus (I know, I know he is cryogenically frozen, but you'll understand when you read it), it also started as a story, but again as time progressed I think it became more of a novelette. My E-mail is email@example.com feel free to write me and tell me what you think, give constructive criticism, or to say hi, or whatever. I will ask that you not just tell me it stinks, because I am an aspiring writer, and I am very proud of my story, whether you like the work or not, so please be gentle.
As always anything pertaining to B5 is property of jms, Warner Bros. and whomever else has a claim. All except little Jade, as he exists in my mind alone.
Writing is what I love to do, so I hope this is adequate. Read and Enjoy.
The boy lay on the cold deck, in a tight ball, in the corner of cabin 12a of the star liner Enchantment. He could feel the bruises already beginning to form on his tender body. The beating father had given him had been horrible, but at least he wasn't bleeding this time. His eyes were shut tight so if father was awake he would think the boy unconscious, the boy didn't want him to know because he was afraid the beating would begin again. Sometimes it did, and sometimes it didn't. He knew he shouldn't have challenged father but he hated to call him that. The man was NOT his father, but for now it would be better if he didn't give the man cause to beat him again. Not so soon after the last one if he did it might be like last time and he didn't want to get sick again. Last time when he had tried to run away, the boy had been beaten so badly that he had been taken to the hospital after throwing up his own blood and his breathing had stopped. Father had made him lie to the doctors and say he'd gotten into a fight at school, even though he hadn't been to school since father had taken him from home. Suddenly the deck moved and caused him to wince in pain as he bumped the chair next to him. It was then he noticed that the ship wasn't moving anymore.
He wondered where father had taken them this time. He kept them on the move so much the boy had lost track of the places they had been. The last had been a planet he had never learned the name of, and had seen only a little of on the way to and from the spaceport. What he'd seen had been very beautiful. There had been one structure that stood out above all he'd seen though. It had been a crystalline building surrounded by waterfalls. He had been in awe of it as the car passed it. He wondered where it had been and if he might get the chance to see it again. He doubted that though father rarely returned to a place that they had been to before. He felt a sharp pain in his back as father kicked him.. The bruises had faded but the pain, physical and psychological, still remained. He held his eyes tightly shut in case father was watching him.
"We're here get changed out of those dirty clothes and do it fast. We're getting off."
The boy grabbed the offered clothing and began to change quickly. If he looked up and father caught him he was in for another beating. Neither did he look up at anyone they passed and watched his feet as they exited the cabin and made their way out into the customs area of wherever they were now. He followed submissively carrying both his bag and father's. They got into the line they were directed to and stood waiting for the rich and famous to get off and through customs. He was a small boy though and he was curious about the new place where he found himself. His name was Jade. He quickly lowered his eyes and stared at his shoes for a few minutes. Then keeping his head low, but up enough for him to see he moved his eyes around, and looked to one side of them. He saw many different peoples around him some were human, most were not. The one nearest him was a Pak' Ma' Ra, and he'd remembered seeing them almost every place they had been so far, and then there was another that looked like a metallic bee. He could only identify a few races by name and he was curious about the being he saw on the other side of the Pak'Ma'Ra. She looked Minbari, he knew what they were father hated them, and had shown him what they were telling him they should all be killed. Jade didn't think so, he thought they looked beautiful, especially the bonecrest around their heads it made them look regal to his way of thinking. The being he saw had a bonecrest, but she had hair, all the Minhey were through customs. Father grabbed his neck and dug his fingers into the tender flesh. He'd seen Jade looking around. Jade felt the fear inside seize him he knew what was coming as soon as they were alone in father's quarters.
Delenn stood beside John holding his hand as they waited for the customs officers on duty to process the I.D.s given to them. 'It is good to be visiting here again. Its been too long since the last time we were here.' Ahead of them in line Emperor Londo Mollari and G'kar, the Narn's latest religious icon, were arguing over the same old trivial things. Their attaches Vir Cotto and Na'toth stood resolutely silent near by. She looked around and her eyes fell on a small human boy who appeared to be watching them argue. Then as if sensing her eyes on him he snapped his head down to stare at the floor. She found that odd behavior for a human child and was about to walk over to see if anything was wrong when the man in front of him put a hand on his neck and pushed him past the customs officer. She leaned closer to John as their line moved on and it was their turn to hand over IDs. She searched the area outside customs looking for David. Ivanova had recently returned from commanding her own ship and been appointed to head the station after Lochley became an admiral and decided to go back to Earth. David was already on board had been for a month learning about and from all his parents closest and dearest friends. Well the ones who were here anyway. Those included Captain Susan Ivanova, Chief of Security Zack Allen, and the President of the Independent Telepath Government Lyta Alexander. Mr. Garibaldi was en route from Mars, and had been re-appointed Head of Covert Intelligence, where his former wife was Head of Edgar's industries. He had come to Minbar after his marriage had fallen apart because of his hatred of the planet, and his want to be 'in the thick of things.' Dr. Franklin had long ago become comfortable with his position on Earth and elected to stay out of the public eye as much as was warranted for the man who had saved the dying Hyak race. Delenn was jolted out of her reverie as they stepped through the customs exit and her son hugged her and greeted both his parents. John hugged his son briefly and left him to his mother as his attention was captured by a friend he hadn't seen in far to long. Captain Susan Ivanova, she had passed all other promotions by so she could come back to B5 one day, looked much the same as she had at the end of the war. Her hair was as raven black as ever, and in the ever- present pony-tail. She looked well compared with the last time anyone had seen her, right after Marcus had passed beyond. John seized her in a hug and smiled as she returned the favor. Ivanova stepped back and looked him over. He was just as tall and proud as he always had been but his eyes were haunted now and his hair was almost white as was the beard he wore neatly clipped. It was still John Sheridan though, smile and all.
Delenn and John were here not only for David's birthday surprise, but also for meetings with the Alliance world representatives. They planned on being on station at least two weeks. David's birthday party was a week and three days away, while his actual birthday was two days away. She shook her head in wonder. Her son was turning sixteen. The years had gone by too fast. Her thoughts were interrupted by her son's hugs and kisses. She hugged him back and let him go to his father. Ivanova stood near by, and when Delenn turned her attention to the Captain she received a stiff salute. "None of that, old friend, you are part of this family too." Then Ivanova found herself in the embrace of Entil'zha Delenn. She returned the smaller woman's greeting and noticed the gray in her elaborately, as always, styled hair. As well as the wrinkles of life in her face the ones of laughter at the corners of her eyes and mouth and the ones of worries on her forehead.
"Welcome back to Babylon 5 my friends. David has been a delight to have around." Delenn's eyes flicked to her son and filled with pride. He looked very much like John except for the eyes and hair. He had dark hair the same as Delenn and his eyes were the same penetrating green as hers. His build was like John's as well, and though he wasn't as tall as his father yet he was getting there, and had broad shoulders although the Minbari DNA hadn't been strong enough for him to support a bonecrest. It seemed he had grown a foot since she had last seen him. She hugged him again unable to help herself. She loved him as much as she loved John, and no mother was more proud of her son than was Delenn.
"How was your trip Mister President?" Susan asked them.
"Blissfully uneventful." Delenn smiled at that not entirely true statement, but these two didn't need the details. John caught her smile and returned it.
"Well, lets go and get settled in." John said, and they all walked to the lift talking of old times and catching up on what had happened in their lives.
Jade lay on the floor of the rooms father had rented. His small body ached all over and he was bleeding from several cuts and he couldn't touch anything or move because of the agony of the bruises, still in horrible pain from the beating father had given him for letting his eyes wander in customs. He lay very still even though father had left long ago. He was afraid that if he came back and Jade had moved he'd be beaten again. That was to be avoided at all costs. Jade did however open his eyes and look at his surroundings. The room was not all that impressive. A table in the center of the room, couch and a chair near one wall facing the babcom screen, bed at the back of the room, and a small refresher room off to the side of the bed. He shut his eyes and hoped that he would get a little sleep before father got back.
He didn't know how long he'd slept when the pain shot up his back. Father was home and he didn't look happy. The beating started once again. When finally it was over he drifted off into sleep in this new place and had no idea he was on the station that was a shining beacon for hopes and dreams. A place he had longed to see for many years.
Delenn sat at breakfast and watched her husband and son in the sitting area watching cartoons on the vid. She smiled at the memory of Mr. Garibaldi's attempt to explain the concept of the cartoon to her. At the time, the concept had escaped her, but after David started to watch them on a regular basis she'd finally caught on. Even began to enjoy them. She hated to break up their time together, but John had a meeting to attend. Luckily her own meetings didn't start until the next day, so she could spend some time with David. She got up from the table and walked over behind John, and kissed the back of his neck. He took her hands and guided her to sit on his lap, and he kissed her until she disengaged and said, "You have a meeting Mister President, and you don't want to be late for it."
He sighed, "I know, I just wish I could spend the day with you two. Its not fair you get to have all the fun."
"You will get your day of fun tomorrow while I am at meetings and you have the day off. One of us had to go first. The delegates just decided it should be you, have a good day, and don't lose your temper." They both chuckled at that. He'd learned long ago the fine art of diplomacy, but she still teased him about the meetings in the beginning when he'd lost his temper more than once. "I love you, and we'll see you at diner."
"Wouldn't miss it. And I love you too."
They stood and John gathered his things for the day told David goodbye and kissed Delenn once more. Then he was out the door, David turned off the screen and looked at his mother. "Well, what do we want to do now."
"Its your day David, you tell me."
"Oh no mom, I get days off all the time, you pick what you want and I will try not to complain about it." He gave her a stern look that she'd always associated with John when he wasn't taking no for an answer. "All right, all right. I think first I would like to go shopping in the Zocalo."
"Sounds good to me."
Jade found movement to be a major discouragement. He didn't even want to breathe because of the pain. He curled up on the mat in the corner near the entrance. He was asleep, his dreams were horrible, the remembered beatings, and other horrors he'd witnessed. Father was away again like everyday. Jade didn't know how long he'd been here, but he knew he didn't want to stay here much longer. If he didn't get away father would kill him. But he was afraid to run because he'd just be caught and brought back to father then he'd be beaten again. So he'd curled up tighter and cried himself into a deeper sleep.
Bishop was on his way to the Zen garden for a meeting with his contacts. He saw a woman and teenage boy when he entered the lift, but didn't pay them much attention. They didn't appear to be paying him any either, as they spoke in hushed tones. The woman looked Minbari but for the hair. 'Must be Councilor Delenn' he thought.
She and David noticed him as well. Delenn thought she'd seen him before but couldn't place him. She soon forgot about him though in anticipation of spending the day with her son, and doing things with him they hadn't done in a long time.
The lift stopped and the man exited, the lift moved on to the Zocalo. Delenn and David stepped out and she headed for her favorite stores, as David followed.
Jade slept fitfully on the mat tossing and turning. He dreamed of the last time he'd tried to run from father he'd been beaten so badly he'd almost died. Father had taken him to a hospital and told them he had been jumped by someone on his way home from school. Jade moved around on the mat, he crawled into the corner it was in and curled up into a ball, but soon he was moving again this time he headed for the door, and somehow, while still asleep, he cycled the door and left the room.
Delenn and David made their way into the Zen garden and maze on their way home. As they walked Delenn told David of the things that had happened in certain places in the garden. He liked to listen to her talk about her and Dad when they had fallen in love. To him it was almost magical. He was listening to her talk of the first time that she and John had met in the garden, but was listening only partially as a man walked into the garden with two other men. He watched them closely. He steered her toward the maze to try to hear what they were talking about, but Delenn said, "It is getting late in the day and we should have diner ready for your father when he gets home."
"Yeah, lets go." He watched the men until they were out of the garden and on the lift that took them to the level their quarters were on.
He had finished with business for the day and was on his way back to his place in Brown Sector when he saw that Kid wandering around like a drunken ambassador. Father grabbed the boy by the neck and pushed him into the rooms he'd rented. Once inside he put the boy on the deck and picked up a thin, metal rod. He landed the first swing in the center of Jade's back.
Jade woke in a blinding flash of pain as the first stroke hit him. He stood absolutely still, not knowing what was happening or why, but he knew that if he moved the beating would get worse. "I told you to stay in the rooms!" With every word the slaps got harder and then they were no longer slaps. They were punches. "Why can't you take orders like I give 'em?!" The blows were becoming harder and harder. The boy caught one of the punches in the nose and it began to bleed.
"I, I, I didn't, I didn't leave!! I, I, promise I didn't!!!!"
"Then why did I have to drag you back here when I got back!!!! Never talk back to me. Are you saying I am a liar!!!!"
"No, no, of course not, I, I, j j j just--" with that father began the full beating and grabbed a rod that was near the door to remind the boy what would happen if he left while father was gone. The rod left large angry welts on the boy where ever it landed and father didn't care where it landed so long as it was on the boy. His legs finally buckled and he found himself on the floor. He instinctively curled into a protective ball, and his arms were around his head to protect it as best he could. Still father hit and kicked him. He closed his eyes and through it all didn't mutter one sound. This only made Bishop madder and his blows more vicious. Then finally pain took over and Jade passed out. And a little while later the beating stopped, even though he wasn't conscious to appreciate it. Bishop pulled off his boots and shirt, and pants and climbed into bed. Soon he was unconscious too, although they were in two different states of unconsciousness.
That night Delenn and David had a wonderful meal ready for John when he got home. They ate and had a good time together then settled down to their own work and interests. Tomorrow Delenn had a meeting in the morning and would need to be up early. So she decided to call it a night relatively early and went to bed leaving the guys to do what they wanted.
Jade woke to the sound of father snoring. Then the rest of his senses kicked in, and he tasted blood in his mouth and he felt like he was laying in a puddle of what, he didn't want to know it could only be one of two things. Blood or urine both would hopefully be his. He uncurled from the tight ball he lay in and looked around as well as one can when one eye is swollen completely shut and the other is almost as bad. He looked around the room slowly, noticing the lights were out and the only illumination came from the bathroom. He let his eyes adjust as best they could and found he could see better if he didn't look right at what he wanted to see. He saw that father was asleep on the bed. Well, asleep was not exactly what he was, but it was close enough for Jade. He started to move and felt a blinding pain in his back and struggled to stifle his cry. He barely succeeded in letting out only a whimper.
I have to get out of here, he thought, I'll find a place to hide and he won't find me, and neither will anyone else.
He looked around again and his gaze lingered on the grate covering the airshaft above the chair. He looked again toward father to make sure he was still out, and then he moved ever so slowly and gingerly pulling his way across the floor. Every movement was a new sensation of agony. He kept at it though and soon he was by the chair. He stood up and pushed it over nearer the wall. Then he climbed on the back of the chair to pull the grate off the vent. Once he had it off he set it on the seat of the chair leaning against the arm. He climbed back on the back of the chair, and started trying to pull himself into the airshaft. He couldn't quite get there, so he jumped a little. He made it and pulled himself further in the shaft, but the jarring of his jump had knocked the cover off the chair it fell to the floor with a crash. He still had his legs dangling from the shaft and struggled to get them in quickly. He heard father moving in the room, and then a hand grabbed his left ankle, and pulled his grip slipped a little and he slid back a few inches. The pull grew hard harder and his shin banged the edge of the shaft. He felt a mind numbing pain sting its way up to his hip, and without knowing quite how he let all that pain flow into father's hand and he felt the grip loosen. He kicked at the hand and abruptly it was gone completely. He pulled the rest of the way into the shaft and tried to crawl down it, but when he put weight on the leg the pain was blinding, and this time he did scream out in agony. His left leg was a loss so he pulled himself through the shafts with his arms and unhurt right leg. Every movement was torment, and he had to stop and rest quite a few times. The process was slow, and sometimes it was to small to crawl through and he had to slither like a snake on his tummy to get through. He crawled and crawled until he heard music and voices and finally fell into a fitful and tormented sleep.
He was awakened by someone screaming it sounded like it was right outside the vent he was in though he was very far down it. Someone was yelling into the vent asking who was in there and telling them to come out.
Captain Susan Ivanova was having a rough day and it was only 0900 hours. She had a pile of paperwork taller than Earthdome, shipping was slowed due to an inexperienced pilot that had nearly blown up the docking bay, someone had reported a missing child and was fearful something awful had happened. The man who reported the child said he'd found the vent cover of the air recycling shaft on the floor of his rooms and discovered his son missing. He had given his name only as Bishop and signed off saying he was going to look for the boy himself and not wait around for paunchy security guards that took their sweet time. Then one of the arriving transports had had a malfunction in its engines and had collided with the docking port taking it off-line for at least ten hours that meant no shipments today since it would take at least that long for the bays to be repaired. She had finally given up after the reports of fighting in down below came to her desk. "This is going to be a long day," she muttered under her breath. As soon as she got the call about the missing boy she'd called Security and gotten the search ball rolling. She got maintenance down to the bays to start putting them back together, pulled a few files from the stack and decided it was time for an early lunch. She left Corwin in charge and went for a bite down in the Zocalo. She stepped out of the lift and ran into, Chief of Security Zack Allan who was speaking with, President of the Independent Telepath Society, Lyta Alexander about security for Lyta's quarters.
"You're not hearing me Zack. I mean if you are going to put me in the low rent sector you may as well give me a little protection. All I ask is that I get the same respect that you show the other ambassadors. They all have station security protecting them. Why not me?" Lyta spotted Ivanova, "Captain am I right I mean I am the President of the Independent Telepaths. I think I deserve a little respect."
He had the look of a man who'd been through this particular argument once too often in the last few days. "Well, we thought you would be able to protect yourself against the likes of us mundanes Madame President."
"Even a mundane can get in a lucky shot every once in a while." Lyta smiled. Ivanova and Zack broke into laughter.
He shook his hands in front of her, clearly tired of the argument, "All right, all right, you win Lyta. I'll have a couple of guards assigned to you. Okay."
Her smile did wonders for him and she said, "That's all I ask."
Ivanova chose that moment to speak up, "Zack, any news on the kid?"
He shook his head, "No not yet, I hope he isn't Downbelow somewhere that would be very bad." Lyta touched Zack's hand thanking him again and he smiled then took his leave. "Well you made his day. I think he still has a sort of a crush on you Lyta."
"Yeah well he's not such a bad guy, and once he got that uniform fixed to fit right he really does look good in it."
"I heard that. It fits really well in the buttocks doesn't it." Lyta raised her eyebrows and both women chuckled. "Join me for an early lunch?" Ivanova asked.
"Sure I could use a bite to eat."
"Lets go to Earheart's place. She's got a great Italian dish that you almost can't tell its synthesized."
"Sounds good to me." They headed off through the Zocalo proper to get to Earheart's. "What kid?" Lyta asked.
"When I came on duty this morning a man named Bishop called into C & C and reported his son missing."
"If there's anything I can do let me know."
"Sure security's on it though, so lets get caught up on about a decades worth of events."
They both chuckled at the statement, Ivanova had been gone since the death of Marcus, and Lyta had been consumed with finding a homeworld for Byron's people. "A lot has happened hasn't it."
Ivanova nodded, and they started toward the Earheart's entrance. When they passed one of the air vents both women were hit with waves of unbearable pain and nausea. Ivanova even stumbled, and Lyta caught her. Then they both went to the vent.
"There's someone in there." Lyta said. "I can feel them, but I can't get any farther than that. I think the anguish is preventing me."
Ivanova already had her link out and was calling for security and a med team. After she finished she called into the grate. "Hello down there, can you hear me whoever is in there hang on we are going to get you out. Can you come out on your own? Hello, can you hear me?" She looked over at Lyta. "I think we just found our missing child. No one larger than a child could fit in there." Security was beginning to arrive as was a maintenance crew with their equipment.
"--We're going to get you out. Can you come out on your own? Hello can you hear me?"
The boy's mind was in a frenzy of panic. They couldn't take him now if they did father would get a hold of him again and that would be that. He needed to get away but he could hardly move.
Delenn walked through the Zocalo after her meeting with the new Pak'ma'ra ambassador. Her thoughts were not on the work she knew was waiting in her office. They were on the evenings plans that she and John had discussed during breakfast. As she neared Earheart's she noticed a commotion near the air vent opposite the entrance of the officer's hangout. She saw security teams holding back gathered onlookers. She also saw a maintenance crew setting up a cutting machine near the vent. As she got closer she recognized Ivanova's voice shouting orders at the crew. Then she saw Ivanova and also Dr. Stephen Franklin, who was supposed to be back on Earth running the Interspecies research team. She walked over to Ivanova and Franklin and noticed Lyta kneeling with a hand on the wall and a distant look that Delenn remembered seeing when Lyta was trying to scan someone or thing that was not on a line of sight "Susan, what is going on here?"
"There is a child down the vent, and we can't get him out. We can't tell if he is hurt or stuck or what. He's not responding to any questions we've asked and we are now planning on cutting our way down to try and get him out."
Lyta stood looking drained. "I still can't get through either he is in too much pain or he is to frightened for me to perform a scan, and no one can forcefully keep me out. Not anymore." At that moment a man pushed his way through the crowd and was held by security.
"Hey, let me through that's my son in there!!!"
Ivanova signaled them to let him come over and they let him pass. "Mister Bishop?"
"Just Bishop." He said as he came up. "Where is my son?"
Ivanova motioned to the vent and said "He's still down there. We can't get to him and he won't respond to any of our questions. Maybe you can get him to come out."
"I doubt it." He looked ashamed, "See I don't know him well. His mother took him and disappeared after he was born. I haven't seen him since he was a newborn. I am a complete stranger to him."
"No wonder he is frightened." Franklin looked at Delenn. "Ambassador are you all right?"
Delenn felt a wave of pain and fear ripple through her. She clutched her stomach as it threatened to expel her morning meal. "Yes," she finally was able to say, "I felt frightened and there was unbearable pain. I don't understand it."
Jade lay still to forgo any more pain. He was exhausted and hungry, but still petrified of being given over to father if he left the shaft. He knew they couldn't reach him and he felt safe here. Jade had been here for a long time now and the voice had stopped talking to him sometime ago, but then he heard new voices. One was like the dulcet tones of a lullaby, although he didn't know what a lullaby was. He OPENED himself to see whose voice it was. As he felt deeper he realized that it was the woman he'd seen in customs when he first got here. He realized that he was letting her feel him too and it was hurting her so he BROKE away by thinking of something else. Then he heard the voice that he never wanted to hear ever again. His panic became full-blown terror, and he let out a soft whimper. Father was out there some where close by and he would get hold of him soon. He would be beaten again. Then without warning a piercing screech began and the low light coming from the end of the vent became a blinding flash. The boy lost all the self-control he still possessed and wet on himself.
Ivanova looked at Bishop, "Well this is your decision, should we start cutting through or do you want to try to talk him out."
"Cut him out. I think he would only become more frightened if I were to speak to him as I said I am a virtual stranger to him."
Ivanova shrugged and gave the order to start cutting, and the motors started up. As the crowd watched sparks began to fly and the light in the corridor increased. Delenn felt as if the world had crumbled as she felt a mind numbing terror. She realized that she was screaming at the workers to turn off the cutters and crying at the same time. Finally the motors died down and quit. Ivanova was at her side an arm around her supporting her.
"What? What's wrong? Delenn?"
"I don't know I just felt the most unimaginable terror when the cutters started. I felt as if the station were splitting in two. It was the most horrifying sense I have ever felt." She looked at Lyta who was shaking her head in disbelief. "What is it Lyta?"
Lyta shook her head knowingly. "That kid has to be a strong Telepath. I felt him in there as I was walking by earlier, so did Susan. For her to have felt it he would have to be telepathic because her ability is limited, but for you to be able to he has to be at least a P12. At the very least, he's not even on a line of sight." The others looked confused and Lyta filled them in on her suspicions. "I think, for some reason, he is letting us know how he feels through you, Delenn. How are we going to get him out of there?"
"I wonder why he is projecting to Delenn though." Franklin mused. "I mean you two are the ones who initially found him and have been here talking to him. He knows Bishop best, yet he is using Delenn. Do you know him maybe?"
Delenn looked at them, no she didn't think she knew the boy, but the father she had seen yesterday with David. First in the lift then again in the Zen garden. "I don't know, but maybe I can get him to calm down and come out if I talk to him." Bishop had moved over to the vent tiring of their inaction. She knew she would be successful, she didn't know how she knew, but she knew, so it seemed logical to try.
"Hey kid COME OUT HERE NOW!!!" Delenn felt the terror rise again and that caused her to have an idea.
" What is the boy's name?"
"Jade," came the reply.
"All right, Susan, or Lyta walk over there and talk to Jade I want to try something." They looked at her and shrugged then Lyta walked over and started talking to Jade. Delenn felt no emotion at all. Then Bishop started talking again and the terror returned. She turned to Ivanova and Franklin. "I think we should get that man away from here. When he speaks the terror returns, but when Lyta speaks there is no emotion. If he was afraid of strangers I would feel the terror no matter who was speaking. What if that man is from Psi-Corps and taking this child to Earth. He would be scared of him yes."
"I see where you are going with this, and I agree, but Bishop isn't wearing the standard Psi-Corps pin and black gloves." Delenn had no answer for that. She only knew that they needed to get the man away from here.
Ivanova shrugged "That doesn't mean he's not corps. They are pretty rare these days and they aren't above stooping to kidnapping to get new recruits. Can't hurt to try." She walked over to the tall man with dark thinning hair and put a hand on his shoulder. "Why don't you come over here and sit down I'll get you a cup of coffee I think the ambassador would like to try talking to your son." At first he resisted, but finally gave in, and went to sit. Ivanova went into Earheart's and grabbed a cup of coffee off a table and as she did she noticed it was well after the lunch hour and moving toward evening. When she returned she handed the cup to the man and went over closer to Delenn who knelt by the vent.
"--only want to help you. Please let me know if you are all right."
He lay there on his tummy and tried not to move every movement was agony.
The horrible noise had stopped, but then father had yelled at him he held a constant connection with the woman now and he knew she felt his fear. Then to his shock she began speaking to him. "Hello, I am Ambassador Delenn of Minbar. I don't want to harm you or frighten you. I only want to help you. Please let me know if you are all right." He felt his heart begin to slow from racing to rapid beats. He looked into her and showed her a memory that he hoped was pleasant to her.
Delenn saw a memory of herself holding an infant David and kissing his small forehead. She sighed relief. Ivanova had walked over and was looking at her.
"Any response?" Delenn nodded and went back to talking to him. As the time wore on she felt that the fear had subsided and that it was time to ask him one last question. "Will you come out of there now?"
Jade lay there for a long time and just listened to her talking to him, and letting her voice drive away his fears. Then she asked if he would come out now, and he felt a fluttering of the fear return. Still there was no where to go but out and he was tired and hungry. So he started to pull himself along the vent shaft. It took all of his will not to cry out in agony all that got out were whimpers. It felt as if his left side was on fire and the bruises on his body cried out with each tiny action he made.
Delenn's heart nearly stopped after asking him that question, as she felt his fear rise again. Then she felt more than heard him moving. She looked at Ivanova and Lyta, and nodded. Ivanova nodded back and started issuing orders to keep the crowds back and keep them quiet. Franklin told Ivanova to get a medical team here fast and asked her permission to take over the boy's care. She consented and called for the team.
Meanwhile Delenn was still looking into the vent and finally she saw a movement, she had heard the whimpers and moans in pain, but the movement had not yet stopped. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Bishop get up and move toward her and the vent opening. At that moment the forward movement became backward movement. She motioned Ivanova and the other woman came over. "He has stopped coming and is moving backwards. He started this when Bishop came near the vent. We need to get him out of here or the child will never come."
Ivanova wasted no time, "Security I said keep 'em back, that order now includes Mister Bishop here I want him with the crowd."
The motion returned to a forward one, and after long minutes of waiting she could have touched him. Though she did fear his moving away again.
Jade slithered forward little by little until he saw through her eyes father coming closer. Then he began moving away. Delenn had sent him away, and he started forward again. Once he got close enough to touch her he became wary and hesitated he looked out the end of the shaft and then he moved a little closer.
As his face came into the light when he looked out the end of the vent shaft Delenn gasped at the bruising she saw and his eyes were almost useless; one swollen shut completely. Cuts and dried blood and bruises were all she could see. She felt anger at whoever had done this, but then he moved a little more, and she felt she should say something, and she now knew from where she had seen him. He was the small child she had noticed in customs when she and John had arrived. "Its all right little one no one will hurt you. I will not let them." His eyes never lifted, but then he was moving to her.
He heard her say she wouldn't let anyone hurt him, and that drove away the lingering fears. He moved to her, and then was out of the vent and in her arms. He cried out as her hands came into contact with the bruises as she held him. He closed his hands on her clothes as other people moved close.
"Do not worry." she said to him. "They will help you. Don't be afraid. I've got you. It's all right now." His whole body was covered in blood and what she could see of him was traumatized in some way or another. If it wasn't a bruise it was a cut or a welt or a scar or a burn. She didn't see one tiny area of untouched skin. It sickened her to see it and to smell the urine and fear on him. Still she held him and promised him nothing would harm him. She noticed his hands holding her robes the knuckles were white even through the bruises. Then she felt a wetness against her and looked more closely she saw blood. He was bleeding. She called to Franklin "Stephen he is bleeding! Badly!"
"Okay no time to wait on a stretcher, and I doubt if he'd let go long enough for us to strap him into it. Come on lets get him to medlab." He helped her to stand and Security cleared them a path all the way to Medlab. Ivanova and Lyta followed close behind.
He felt different than he had in a long time he no longer recognized the feeling of safety, or of comfort, but Delenn felt it from him and was herself comforted by that.
John Sheridan was going out of his mind with worry. Delenn had been due home two hours ago and everyone he asked said they hadn't seen her. He was about to try to find her himself when the com beeped for attention. He answered and was relieved to see her on the screen, even though she looked like she'd been to hell and back again. Her face was white and she looked worried and tired. Then he saw the blood on her robes.
"Delenn what happened? Where are you? Are you hurt?" The worry turned to fear.
"I am fine John, I am in Medlab with Stephen, and I will be here for a while. You don't have to come if you don't--"
"What the hell do you mean by that I see you there in front of me two hours late getting back and with blood all over you and you say that. HOW THE HELL DO YOU THINK THAT MAKES ME FEEL!!" in the background he heard a cry of fear or pain he couldn't tell which, and Delenn looked away distracted by what was happening out of view. "David and I've been worried sick and now we find out your in Medlab. Of course we are coming to you."
"I am sorry John I have been distracted by something important the blood is not mine and if you are coming bring me a change of clothes. And see if you can find some of David's old outfits from when he was around say six years old, no make that from about when he was four or five. I find we have need of them here." Another cry and Delenn looked away again.
"Wait, stay there, I'll be right there. Don't move you will bleed again. If you continue to struggle the doctor will have to sedate you." There were frustrated squeals of pain and fear. She looked back to John, "I have to go John do not forget the clothes please."
"Delenn--" then the screen went blank. John went into the small storage closet and found a couple of David's old outfits and then went to his and Delenn's closet and pulled out one of her more casual outfits. Then he and David were on their way to medlab.
Delenn ended her call to John and returned to the side of the frightened boy. Stephen was attempting a cursory examination of him and the fear had returned when she had left his side. She shook her head with compassion. Ivanova and Lyta stood back from them so he wouldn't be more frightened than absolutely necessary. She took his hand and held it the fear subsided. She spoke softly to him, "What is your name little one? Will you tell me?" She already knew his name of course, but hoped he would speak to her.
He closed his eyes tighter, Stephen had given him an anti- inflammatory and while it hadn't taken the swelling down completely it had abated it enough that he could open both eyes once again, but he elected to keep them closed. She wondered at that. Then she felt his hand tighten around hers and in her mind she saw a woman calling to a toddler, "Jade come to mama my sweet little boy."
Delenn suddenly found herself fighting off tears, and she said, "Thank you Jade. Thank you for telling me that." The hand tightened again, and she squeezed back softly so as not to hurt his bruises.
"Well so far so good," said Stephen, "the swelling has gone down and the x-rays show only two fractured ribs no internal bleeding that I have detected so far and no other broken bones, besides the leg. The bleeding wasn't as bad as it seemed either, though he is weak from malnutrition and some blood loss." The doors to medlab whisked open and John and David came running in. John went to Delenn and hugged her to him tightly. When they parted he kissed her lips. David just looked at the quivering boy on the bed. "John let me go he is frightened again."
John looked puzzled and Delenn turned back to Jade. His breathing had become short gasps and his heart rate had hit the roof. "Its all right Jade they are my family, you are safe now remember." Still his heart raced and he let out little moans of fear. She laid a delicate hand on his head and stroked his hair. His heart began to slow.
John saw the child Delenn was speaking to and almost hit the floor in shock. This boy looked as though he'd been through a barroom brawl and a street fight and a gang beating all at once. He looked worse that John had when Earth Gov. had tortured him. He had blood both fresh and dried on him and staining what little clothing he had on, and that wasn't much. The clothes looked torn and raged as if they'd caught on something. It looked as if his small body were one massive bruise except on the arms and legs across them were straight lines of bruises as if struck by a thin metal object. John felt sick to his stomach and decided to sit down before he fell down.
Stephen spoke up "We really should get him cleaned up and do a more thorough examination. Then see if he can hold down any food, and get some rest." He looked at them when no one moved, "That was a nice way of saying 'get out.'" He saw Delenn's look of skepticism. "You of course can stay Delenn, and you too John, but everyone else I want out, especially you David."
"Because no one should have to see this least of all a fifteen year old."
"I can handle it."
"I didn't say you couldn't. Its just that this will be easier the less people there are in here because apparently your mom is the only person around that that little guy will respond to in any way at all. So do me a favor and spend some time with your Aunt Susan?"
"Sure Doc I'll see you both later Mom and Dad." With that he left the room and the three adults were left alone with the small frightened child. The one thing that really bothered all three of them was that Jade kept his eyes averted or closed completely refusing to look at any of them, even Delenn. They started to undress him and clean off the blood, as soon as Sheridan and Franklin moved toward him though he began to struggle and fight them. The fear was back as well as a sense of being overwhelmed with fatigue, but despite the feeling his fight became more intense.
"We may have to restrain him for this. I can't work if he won't hold still."
"No, the restraints would only traumatize him more." Franklin and Delenn looked at John in puzzlement. "When I was in Clark's custody what was more unnerving than the beatings and the poisonings was when they restrained my movements by strapping me into that chair." He took a deep calming breath. "It's not a good idea to restrain him like that."
Stephen nodded then gave him a light sedative that sent him into unconsciousness, and once Jade was out, started to clean him up. The clothes were stripped from him and discarded. Warm sanitized water and cloths were brought to them and they gently and meticulously cleaned every inch of Jade's body. After he was clean Franklin started an I.V. to get some nutrients into his depleted system. Delenn noticed that he curled into a ball; even when drugged he had fears while he slept. Then Stephen started to bandage the cuts and treat the broken bones. Jade's small leg was plastered in a cast, and would be in the cast for only about a week. The bone was not broken all the way through, it was only a crack, and easily cared for. His ribs were going to take longer, but they too would heal soon. The bruises were deep, some all the way to the bone, and Delenn felt sickened by the looks of the old yellowed bruises intermixed with the fresher purple ones and the even fresher angry red welts.
The next morning he ate all the food he was given as he snuggled against Delenn although he still would not look at her directly. Dr. Franklin had given him a shot for the pain. It was hard for him to understand all the things he was feeling. Delenn stayed with him all morning and spoke to him softly and held him gently. He had begun to drift off into another drugged sleep after lunch when he felt father near by. His eyes snapped open and his legs curled up to his chest as he clutched at Delenn's clothes. Then father walked through the door and Jade took flight letting go of Delenn he dove off the bed, in the process pulling the IV from his arm and setting off all sorts of alarms as diodes lost connection with either his body or the machines they were hooked into. He hit the floor, and tried to run, but the cast made an unstable footing and he fell across a low scanner as he did he felt another pop where Delenn had told him his ribs were broken then it felt as if someone had stabbed him in the chest. It became harder to breathe, but he got up and moved away as fast as he could. By then Franklin and scores of his aides were in the room and dragging a violent Bishop away as Delenn tried to get Jade to calm down. He still fought with all his might to get away. She saw through him all the physical pain that Bishop had caused him. The visions stopped and she pulled him to her hugging him tightly. He let out a shrill of pain and she saw blood frothing in the corners of his mouth Franklin pulled him over to a scanner and took some readings then.
"Damn," he turned to an aide, "Get the Isolab prepped for surgery, when he fell he broke another rib and this one punctured his left lung pretty bad by the looks. We'll need to get in there and stop the bleeding and stitch it up." Delenn felt herself pale with worry for Jade, he had been through so much already and then when in an environment that appeared to be safe this happens. Even though she had only known him for a night and a morning she felt connected to him.
Franklin saw her go pale and assured her, "He'll be fine Delenn we just need to get him stable and stop the bleeding before it becomes a problem, and there are probably fragments of the rib in the lung that we need to remove before they cause further damage." she nodded and calmed.
"All right now, Jade, I'm going to give you another shot to make you go to sleep. I am going to help you, but I need you to be very still while I give you the shot, okay?" Jade began to tremble all over and tried to scoot away from him. Delenn held him firmly and he began to hyperventilate. "It is all right," she soothed, "he will not harm you I am right here. Be calm you are safe." He stopped movement and Franklin gave him the shot. Jade slipped into unconsciousness.
Delenn watched through the window of the isolab as Franklin opened Jade's small chest. It sickened her to see such a small child have his rib cage pulled apart so a doctor could fix his lungs. No child should have to have surgery like this. She watched until she could no longer stand it. She decided to go and see Ivanova. She had a strong belief about how Jade had received the beatings. First his reaction to Bishop's approach to the vent and now the reaction when he entered medlab. She was almost positive.
She gave a final look toward the small unconscious boy, grimaced, and left for Ivanova's office. She got there to find that Ivanova was not alone. Zack was speaking with her, and not only Zack but John was there too. It sounded like a discussion about Jade and what had happened to him. Her presence had yet to be noticed so she cleared her throat and all three turned toward her.
"I have a sound opinion as to what happened to Jade, if you would like to hear it."
John spoke up, "I thought you weren't going to leave medlab until he was released."
"I wasn't, but since he has no knowledge of my being gone I thought it best to come tell all of you what I suspect."
"What do you mean 'has no knowledge'?" Ivanova asked.
"Jade had a bad fall earlier and one of his ribs punctured his left lung. Doctor Franklin is now performing surgery to stop the internal bleeding."
"What do you mean he fell?"
"The man Bishop entered the treatment room and Jade became hysterical, no worse more like primordial all he thought of was escape, and as he tried to run the cast startled him and he lost his footing. He fell into a scanner and once the man was taken from the room Dr. Franklin surmised that Jade needed surgery to fix his lung. I came because I could no longer watch as such a small child was cut open and I knew I could have prevented the injury from occurring." John stood and put his arms around her he knew she was thinking of the time David had to be operated on to prevent his appendix from bursting and making him sick. She couldn't take watching her son in an operating room knowing she couldn't help him.
He sighed and hugged her close. "How could you have prevented it Delenn?"
"I had suspicions yesterday that Bishop was the one who had hurt Jade. Today my suspicions became an almost certainty, why else would Jade react like that? Bishop is supposed to be Jade's father."
Ivanova spoke then, "I was thinking something like that too. Zack, I want you to keep that guy in your sights and I want him investigated fully. No one hurts a kid when they're on my station."
John smiled, "You sound like I used to."
Ivanova chuckled at the comment, "Well I took over your duties I figured that I shouldn't let all your lessons in diplomacy go to waste." They all laughed at that releasing some of the tension, and John released Delenn from his embrace. She kept hold of his hand though.
"I am going to contact medlab and ask that they inform me when Jade is out of surgery. Please excuse me." John squeezed her hand and let her go. "Delenn," he called before she could get out the door, "Don't forget to tell David happy birthday."
"I won't, actually I think that I will go and see him while Jade is in the surgery."
"Good idea, if you like I will go to medlab and stay until the surgery is finished, I'll call you when he is back in his room."
"I would like that very much John, thank you." Her eyes beamed at him, he knew she meant thank you for more than the offer to contact her when Jade was out of surgery. She was saying thank you for letting me do this, for letting me care about a child that I don't even know. For understanding why he needs me, and for not being angry that I haven't spent a lot of time with you and David since yesterday. John smiled at his soulmate and said, "You're welcome, love. I'll talk to you soon."
John entered Medlab and walked over to peer into the Isolab window. Franklin was still at work on Jade's small body. He watched as the doctor and his assistants pulled out fragments of bone from Jade's lung and then as they sewed it up and reset the rib to where it was supposed to be. Franklin looked tired after the six hour surgery. John hoped Delenn had gotten some sleep in that time. She had been spending all her time here and hadn't slept at all last night. The Doctor and assistants were finished now and Franklin had Jade moved into a different room for observation. John walked over to Franklin as he washed his hands and arms. "How's he doing Stephen?"
Franklin looked up at him, "Just fine John. He is still sedated and should wake up in about two hours. The rib was no problem we have boneknitters working on that break actually since we were already in I set the knitters to all the broken ribs that'll heal them faster, and he should be fine when he wakes up. The lung was damaged badly but I think we fixed it up good. He lost a lot of blood though, so he'll be weak for a while."
"Can I go and see him?"
"Yeah I better go contact Delenn she said she wanted to be informed as soon as he was out of surgery."
"Wait a minute, he's still out and she needs to rest. I'll stay here and wait until he wakes to contact her."
"Okay, but its your neck when she finds out."
Sheridan grinned and said "I will take full responsibility." Both men chuckled.
"I'll go in now and sit with Jade see you later Stephen."
John entered the room containing Jade and pulled a chair over near the bed. Jade's small chest had been stitched up and John grimaced at the sight of it. He reached out to caress Jade's forehead and pulled back hurriedly when Jade flinched at the touch. Which was odd considering he was still under sedation. John resigned to sit and wait for the boy to waken, so he got comfortable and waited.
Delenn had gone home and hugged her son and told him Happy Birthday. He had said thanks then promptly pushed her into the kitchen and warmed a meal for her. He then told her to eat all of the food and take herself a shower and get some rest. That had been hours ago and she felt little better than she had when she had lain down. She wondered how long the surgery would last. When she had left it had been early afternoon now it was night and still she had heard nothing from either John or Stephen. She knew that John would wait until Jade was awake to call her. She understood his concern for her, and appreciated the way he tried to care for her, but what she wanted was to be in medlab with Jade. She drifted off once more into sleep and was awakened by the babcom wall unit.
"Yes," she answered as John appeared on screen, "how is he John?"
"He's fine, but I think you better get down here. He's not happy that he is strapped to the bed, and he's becoming hysterical."
"I'll be right there John. And John," she called before he terminated the call.
"Thank you my love."
He smiled and ended the call. Delenn hurried to medlab.
When Delenn got to medlab she heard the shrieks of panic coming from the private room where Jade was supposed to be. She sighed and entered the room. Jade lay on the bed trying to pull all the monitor diodes from his small body and the IV out of his arm. John and Franklin pushed his hands back to his sides each time he tried to remove them and he let out a scream each time they came into contact with him. Delenn moved closer and gently pulled John away from the bed. She then took Jade's hand in her own. He stopped pawing at the IV and diodes and looked straight at the ceiling his eyes fixed on one spot not moving one bit. She then smoothed the hair off his face and caressed his cheek softly, as she had with David when he was small and had gone through the appendectomy. Jade seemed to calm and she spoke softly to him as John and Franklin left the room for a few minutes.
They stood outside the room conversing in hushed tones when the shrieking started once more. Both men ran into the room, Delenn had a look of confusion on her face and was trying to calm Jade once more. Although her ministrations seemed to have little effect on him. He appeared to be afraid or maybe fighting something would better describe the look John saw on the boy's face. Jade stopped screaming only long enough to take a breath. He then started again in full force. Delenn seemed to lose focus and John became worried.
Delenn didn't understand Jade's sudden attack as she tried to console him to silence. John and Dr. Franklin entered and after Jade took a breath and began to scream again Delenn began to understand. Jade opened his mind to her and showed her what was happening to him. He let her see a memory of a man in black and father standing over him while two others held him down so he was unable to move. The man in black seemed to get a reaction from her.
Delenn saw a Psicop but didn't feel the undertone of the message Jade sent her. Then Lyta broke into the room and pushed Delenn away from Jade's side. She grabbed his hand and concentrated. He seemed to calm after that and he quieted down. Lyta opened her eyes and stroked his hair and spoke soothingly to him. He opened his eyes and focused on the ceiling once more.
"Its all right to block them Jade you have to protect yourself. No one will harm you like that ever again. I have made arrangements that place you in my custody so that what is left of the Psicorps can't get their cold-blooded hands on you." He squirmed until her hand no longer stroked his hair and then pulled his hand out of hers and let his thoughts enter Delenn's mind calling her to his side. She moved forward as Lyta got out of the way. Jade took her hand and held it tightly as a familiar black clad psicop entered the room.
"Bester," John hissed, "I should have known."
"Hello Mister President. So nice to see you again after all these years."
Lyta snorted and rolled her eyes at the comment. "Nice to see you too, Lyta, or is it now Madame President. I hear you and your Narn have pouchlings, wonderful to hear you found a mate that meets your standards."
Lyta did not rise to the bait. She calmly rejoined, "How's your shadow Bester. Still frozen." Bester seemed to darken at the remark. Lyta smiled and moved between Jade and Bester as John moved to stand at Delenn's side. He noticed that Jade's knuckles were white as he griped Delenn's hands. He resisted the urge to reach out to comfort him. She calmed him as best she could.
"I am here to take the boy back to earth with me." Bester stated matter of factly.
"Wow Bester you almost sound as sure of yourself as you did when the Psicorps was still a faction to be reckoned with. I'll have you know that this child is under the jurisdiction of the Independent Telepaths. We will worry about his training. You should worry that Mister Garibaldi is due on the station in a few hours, and that little block you set up in his mind disappeared a long time ago. If I were you I'd be leaving the station as soon as I could."
Bester paled a bit and rubbed a spot on his shoulder where it was reported he took a bullet several years ago. "So I've heard. You understand that your set up is only a temporary solution though, and I'll have my hands on him the moment your time runs out."
"I don't think so." A new voice broke into the conversation. "See Jade there is a witness in a case we're working on and he has to remain on the station until we are finished with the investigation and trial." Zack Allen walked into the room which was by now becoming a little crowded.
"Well then I guess I will just have to wait to get him until you finish your work."
"Not likely." Another voice broke in from behind Bester. "See after the investigation we are going to have to search for his parents, and if they can't be found we'll have to find a foster home for him. That I am sure won't be to hard. The command staff and others in high places in this little part of the galaxy have taken an interest in Jade's well being. Hell, I might even adopt the cute little guy myself." Ivanova smiled when Bester turned around. "I suggest that you get off my station though. And get off it fast, or I will detain you until Mister Garibaldi can get to you. I know for a fact that he still has a grudge against you for that little stunt you pulled during the civil war back home."
"I see your point Captain. I will leave for now, but understand that we will get that boy one way or another." Bester pushed past Ivanova and disappeared.
"Well that was interesting. I wonder what will happen next." Sheridan said to no one in particular.
Zack cleared his throat, "Well that I can answer, I finished a check I did on the kid's parents. I'd like to talk to President Sheridan and the Captain, and Delenn if you'll come."
"No," Delenn replied, "I'm staying here with Jade. He needs someone."
"Right, I understand. Lyta I guess that with your current interest in the kid you'll want to see this too."
"Yes, but wait for a moment I am not finished speaking to him."
"Okay I'll wait outside."
"Fine. Join you in a minute." Her eyes clouded over and she turned to look toward Jade.
Zack and the others left Lyta and Delenn alone with Jade. After they were gone Delenn asked, "What happened to Jade? He showed me a Psicop, but I don't understand why."
"The vision he sent to you I saw too, as I was passing in the hall. There was a telepathic undertone that you didn't feel. He's been probed before and not politely. They strapped him to a medbed like this one and every time he tried to resist the scan they beat him or sent electric shocks into a nerve center at the base of his spine. He was being scanned by Bester and was too afraid to resist. The room I saw was not unlike this room. The walls were bare and there were not any chairs in that room but those are the only real differences."
"That is horrible. Why this child? Why are they doing this to him?"
"I am as perplexed as you, but leave it to Zack. He'll find out one way or another."
Delenn nodded and went back to watching Jade. "After all he already found out something about Jade's parents, and Jade has only been in our custody for two days." When Lyta mentioned his parents Jade looked directly at Delenn for the first time since she had talked him out of the vent. She took his hand and held it, somehow she knew that he knew what Zack had found out, and somehow she knew that whatever that was it was not good."
Lyta followed Zack and the others into security and sat with them where Zack gestured to the empty seats. "Okay I was digging for information on that Bishop guy and I found the names Drake Mason, Tyna Mason, and Zara Mason. I ran a check on the names and I found a family history and a newscast that will make you sick. Drake, Tyna, and Zara are Jade's father, mother and sister. In the newscast it is stated that they were all murdered and that Jade was missing. I dug a little deeper and found out that Jade had both sets of grandparents still living and a score of aunts and uncles on both sides. Turns out that of all those people Jade is the only one left alive. They all were brutally killed, and Earthforce investigators feel that they were all killed by the same man or men. It is detestable what they did to the immediate family." He looked from face to face. All were perplexed by the news. "Would you like to see the 'cast?"
John spoke quickly "No, I don't want to see it. That solves one problem though. Now we know we have to find him a suitable home." He sounded as though he had just lost his best friend. The news had affected him so profoundly. "And if I have anything to say about it Delenn and I will give him that home. For one he still only communicates through her, and we need to find out if this Bishop guy is the killer and why he did this if he is."
"Also," Ivanova joined, "we need proof that Bishop was the one beating Jade. As you all know, the penalty for child abuse is spacing, at least on this station. I'd be willing to bet the station that that guy is the one who beat Jade and killed his family."
"I agree." John said. "But how can we get that information. Jade still won't talk, and we can't hold Bishop indefinitely."
"Well if you can find something that might have been used to beat Jade with I'll run some tests and get Delenn to help me question Jade about Bishop." Franklin said.
"I think that's a good plan Doc. John I guess you'll want to be present during all this, yes?"
"Yeah, and I want a little time to speak with Delenn first. I have to tell her what we know about him. And I have to start the adoption ball rolling. I won't wait for the Earth Alliance to decide where the best place for Jade is."
"Okay lets say we meet again for the questioning in... How long 'til you discharge the kid Doc?"
"After tomorrow if nothing happens to make me feel I should keep him longer. I will release him into the care of John and Delenn only."
"Okay then lets say four days from today. We'll give the kid about a day to adjust as best he can in that time."
The meeting had long ago broken up and John had returned to speak with Delenn about what they had learned and what he had decided about Jade's fate. Delenn agreed with the adoption idea readily, and John smiled when he saw Jade actually watching Delenn through the doorway. It was a good sign. He was coming out of the shock and fear. It was also heartrending to see the look in his eyes as they gazed at Delenn. He held onto her like a lifeline and yet his eyes were still full of fear. She was gentle and calming, and yet he still feared her. The next day Franklin discharged Jade into John and Delenn's care. Franklin then relinquished control of Medlab back to Dr. Hobbs.
Delenn carried Jade into their quarters and took him into hers and John's bedroom. She sat him on the bed and changed his clothes he did not fight her but he did fear that she would strike him if he moved so he sat rigidly still. Delenn hurt to see him sitting so, and told him, "It is all right you can relax. No one will hurt you."
'Thank you,' she looked at him. It hadn't been a voice she heard but he had used mental words instead of a mental image. She smiled and on impulse kissed his forehead. His eyes strayed to hers and she, for once, didn't see fear in them. She finished dressing him and disposed of the medical garments. Then she carried him out to meet David and properly introduce him to John. He was still so scared of John, and she saw that it frustrated her husband to want to hold and comfort the boy and not be able to because every time he got too close the boy tried to run and hide, or flinched away. John and David were preparing a light meal for them all. They stopped what they were doing when she and Jade entered, "Hi there," John walked over and tried to get Jade to look at him, to no avail. He hid his face in Delenn's shoulder. "It's all right Jade. I want you to meet these two people, but you will have to look at them if you are going to know them."
'No I won't I will know their feeling.' She found him gazing at her.
"What do you mean their feeling?"
'The way I knew that you were the one I felt in the entering place when I got here. That's why I trusted you I felt you before and I felt that you were good.'
Delenn smiled a little and hugged him closer though not too hard so she wouldn't hurt his ribs. "I understand now, but you don't need to be scared of them. They are my family." She motioned John closer and said, "This is John Sheridan, my husband."
John took a step closer and said hello. "And this," she motioned to David, "is my son David."
"Hi," David answered.
The next thing they needed to talk about was not so pleasant. It was time to tell him about his family. She looked to John for strength.
'Its okay Delenn, I know about my mom and dad and ... and the rest.' Delenn while happy he had used her name she could see that there was a deep well of pain worse than that of his physical pain. She wondered what had happened and how he'd found out about them.
"How did you know about them Jade?"
He looked away from her and stared at the wall. 'I saw them.'
Delenn felt herself become nauseated. "What do you mean 'you saw them'?"
'I saw this.' And he opened his mind to her, and to John.
John opened his eyes as told and saw his momma and daddy. They were tied back to back and little Zara off to one side of them. Bishop stood over him and held his eyes open as the other men began cutting his mother and sister. The blood was dark crimson and he felt like throwing up, and he was crying. "Daddy," he called "daddy make um stop. Daddy." But Daddy was throwing up and he was trying to get loose then Daddy yelled at them to stop "Stop you Bastards, its me you want not them leave them alone. I am the one who betrayed you, not them. Damn it, let them go." Too late, Zara was no longer breathing and Momma wasn't hardly breathing either. Then Bishop struck Daddy in the face and Daddy's nose bled. "No you and your family will be a warning to all those who betray us. They will know that no one betrays Nightwatch, no one. Ever. And if this is the only way to make people understand then that's what we'll do to get through to them." Bishop's hand held a knife and moved toward his neck. He tried to squirm out of his grip, but only succeeded slightly and the knife came closer. Then a hand covered his mouth and tilted his head up. He bit into the hand hard. He tasted salty blood in his mouth, and then he felt the hand strike him down. "Maybe we'll just keep him alive and see if he can be any use to us."
"Just remember that you won't miss your family for too long. They'll all be joining you shortly." Then the knife went through Daddy's throat and the crimson flowed out of him to intermingle with the crimson already on the cold stone floor.
After that all he remembered were the beatings and the killings of his other family and the beatings and the running. Moving from place to place to place.
John's vision cleared and he saw Delenn sitting and rocking Jade back and forth, tears streaming down her face. He moved closer and hugged them both and Jade did not try to get away. John rocked with them and then pulled David into the embrace when he came nearer. He hadn't seen the vision, John was sure of it, but he sensed the distress in his mother and father, and wanted to comfort them too. They sat like that for a long time, until Jade slept in Delenn's arms and they had calmed down. John no longer felt like eating nor did Delenn, but they sat at the table as David ate, and then they decided to call it a night early. David went to his room to study and John went to shower before turning in. Delenn sat on their bed and held Jade's limp sleeping body tightly to her. She vowed that she would see Bishop properly punished for all his crimes. She was asleep when John came out of the bathroom, and he pulled the covers up over her and Jade. He then lay down beside them and after a while he too was asleep.
The next morning John awoke to an empty bed. The spot where Delenn and Jade had been was still warm though and as he woke further he heard talking in the outer room. It was Delenn's voice and intermittently David's as well. They seemed to be having a conversation with each other, but there were times when Delenn would speak for Jade. John took this as a sign of what was to come at the inquisition this afternoon. He got out of bed and took a shower and got dressed. Then he went out to breakfast. Delenn stood in the kitchenette and was cooking and speaking with her son. Jade stood near her and held onto her robes. Every so often she would lay a hand atop his head and stroke his hair. John stood watching for some minutes before he was noticed. Delenn started when she did finally see him.
"John Sheridan, you are going to give me a heart attack if you keep sneaking up like that." she smiled at him to take the sting out of her words. "Come sit and have your breakfast. You have a short meeting this morning before we start the inquisition. If Jade will cooperate." Her voice held worry. John walked over and hugged her. He tried to hug Jade too, but the lithe little boy slipped away from his hands without letting go of Delenn. John let go of Delenn and went to sit at the table. Delenn brought the food out and David joined them. Jade sat on Delenn's lap, but he still ate very little. He was still frightened to be in close proximity to anyone but Delenn. John sighed and finished eating then got his things together, and went to the meeting that would turn out to be in no manner a short meeting. David finished and went to begin his studies for the day leaving Delenn and Jade alone at the table. After the others were gone Jade ate readily.
"Why are you so afraid of them? I am more dangerous than they are." she wondered aloud.
He told her that she had never hurt him.
"Neither have they Jade. John would never ever hurt anyone."
'No not him but him all the ones that hurt me were him.'
"Oh I see now. Only men hurt you not any women, and the only women you knew were family before all the things that happened. I understand, but you must know not all men will hurt you. Not all are like Bishop."
Jade's face twisted into a look that Delenn interpreted to mean I am not yet sure if I can trust anyone but you, but I will try not to be so scared anymore. Then he slid out of his chair and stepped closer to her. She put her arms around him and held him tightly.
"Well," she said after a few minutes, "we'd better get things cleaned up and you too. We will have to see Zack and the others later today. Will you answer the questions they ask you later?"
He nodded tentatively. Slowly as though not sure if he could or not. Still it was a nod. Delenn cleaned the table and set the dish- washer to washing the dishes then took Jade into the bathroom for a bath.
John sat and moderated the debate between the Giam and the Drazi for the proper claim to a stretch of a space lane and which of the two species would be allowed to tax the stretch in question. He was bored out of his mind, when he wasn't worried about the inquisition later that day. He checked the time for the millionth time that day and saw that the time had gone faster than he'd imagined. It was almost sixteen hundred -- the time he and Zack had agreed upon. He tapped the gavel onto the desk and suggested a break to last two hours. All but the Giam and Drazi agreed readily. He gathered his notes into his briefcase and moved toward the conference room where the inquisition was to take place.
He rounded the corner and saw Delenn and Jade sitting on a bench outside the door, she was speaking to him in hushed tones to comfort him. "...not worry this is to help you. We need you to tell us of what Bishop did to you and your family so that he may be punished for his crimes."
Jade felt scared again, but it was different than the other times he was scared. He didn't fear being hit or hurt in any way. He couldn't understand this feeling. Delenn must have felt his unease and understood what it was for she told him that it was all right.
"It is normal to be nervous at a time like this, but do not worry this is to help you. We need you to tell us of what Bishop did to you and your family so that he may be punished for his crimes."
She noticed John coming toward them, and smiled at him then went back to Jade. "I will be there and you won't have to look at anyone if you don't feel comfortable they will understand. I will help you." He nodded and seemed to calm. Then the others arrived and they went into the room.
"Okay Jade," began Zack only to be cut off by John.
"Hold on for a moment Zack. Before you all start questioning, I'd like to say that this man Bishop is exactly as we thought; behind the deaths of Jade's family and has been beating him. Last night when we attempted to tell him about his family he showed us mental images that proved he watched as his family was killed in front of him and he has shown Delenn the beating he sustained while in the hands of that man. So unless there is other evidence you need I think that we can call this a casual meeting not an inquisition. Jade doesn't need the stress of being here and being grilled and neither do any of the rest of us. However I know we need the answers on record so keep it calm people, and don't be surprised if Delenn or I answer the questions. I will not make Jade relive those memories ever again. If you don't like it then deal with it the best you can."
Zack cleared his throat, and nodded in understanding. "Well, then I can assure you that I meant this as only a formality anyway. I found some more on our mutual acquaintance that pretty much seals his fate, but if we want to bring charges on him for his treatment of Jade then we had to do this. It kinda seems like a waste of time though." He chuckled.
The entire room seemed to relax this was no longer a formal professional meeting it was just a formality. Jade looked up at Delenn and she smiled down at him, and squeezed his hand to reassure him that he could relax again. Once he had calmed again he climbed into her lap and rested his head on her shoulder. She stroked his hair absently as they began the questions.
Two hours later John was back in the incredibly boring meeting and Delenn and Jade were wandering around in the gardens. Ivanova found them there and sat next to Delenn on the seat to talk. Jade had stiffened at her approach, but Delenn had held him tighter and he had soon fallen into a deep sleep that was not terror or pain or drug induced as the two women talked about everything and nothing all at once.
Michael Garibaldi disembarked from the shuttle that had brought him to the station and gathered his bags and looked around what was once his home. It hadn't changed much that he could tell. Well it had actually, it felt like home again. When Lochley had been running things the place had felt different. But with Ivanova back in command it felt right again. Like home again. He noticed these things even though he was in one of his darker moods. He'd just come from Mars felt horrible and betrayed. But he was happy to be away from that place and back to normal good old life as the Head of Intelligence for the Interstellar Alliance.
He made it past the security guards and found the delegation waiting for him. John and David and Delenn and a small child he didn't know. Also Ivanova and Zack, and surprisingly, Franklin too. He smiled at them and there were hugs all around. Ah, family. He had a bit of difficulty getting to Delenn though. The child he'd noticed went into spasms when he came too near and Garibaldi didn't know how to react to that. But eventually Delenn was able to calm the boy enough for him to give her a hug too. They moved off to get him settled and have diner together. He was cooking, of course.
The figure moved silently as he trailed the informant to their meeting. The figure was tall with broad shoulders and was covered in a cloak with a large hood. So it was impossible to determine if the figure was male or female. The hood bulged at odd angles as if the head concealed within were shaped different than a human's or the figure was wearing a crown. An observant person might think the individual were a Minbari, but in this darkness there were no observant watchers. Nor should there be this was a meeting of the utmost importance and secrecy. The informant turned into another side alley and the figure followed silently. The alley was darkness not interrupted by a street light and what could be seen was littered with weather beaten paper and refuse. The informant stopped in an alcove and the figure followed. At the back of the alcove was a door leading to a stairway going down.
The figure followed the informant down the stair and into a room that held one other person. A ranger by the look of the clothing. A Pak'Ma'Ra by the look of the race. The figure was waved to a seat and the informant disappeared out the door to, presumably, stand guard. The Ranger sat then and pulled out a data crystal. This was presented to the aforementioned figure and the Ranger said, "this contains the information you will need to save the One Who Is To Come from certain death and the home from destruction."
The figure accepted the crystal and pulled the hand that received the crystal into the robe and when it reemerged the crystal was gone. "Thank you." was the gentle reply, gentle, but with underlying strength.
The Ranger nodded and the Figure stood and turned. At that moment the door was blown in off its hinges and four men strode into the room PPG's blazing. The figure ducked as the door flew past and then in a hand appeared a Minbari fighting pike. The first sweep of the pike took down the first two attackers and then the others were firing in the figure's direction, but the figure was gone. The attackers crumpled from behind as the figure rose and swung the pike once more. Then the figure moved to the downed Ranger, felt at its neck and then took the broach off of the lapel of its vest. There were three tears down the sides of the broach and then the figure lay the broach atop the Ranger and covered its face with a cloth and said a soft prayer for the fallen warrior. Then the figure was gone.
Things on Babylon 5 were running smoothly once more and the honored guests and the command staff were readying the station for David's birthday party the next day. John and Delenn were through with the meetings for now and spent as much time with David and Jade as a day would allow. Jade was becoming more used to John and David though he still flinched away sometimes when John touched him and had yet to speak aloud or look at anyone but Delenn. David was happy that Jade was going to stay with them from now on. He knew his mother always had wanted more children. He also liked the little guy, however hard it was to get close to him. Ivanova ran the station and stopped by to see and talk to Jade at least once a day and he was warming to her as much as he was to John and David. He and Lyta had no troubles at all for a wonder so long as she didn't touch him. Delenn was still the only one that he would communicate through and he wanted nothing what so ever to do with Mr. Garibaldi. The cast came off his leg the day of David's party and he showed more improvement, and the bruises were almost gone. Only the deepest ones remained and in a few days those too would be gone.
The party began around sixteen hundred --, and it was a grand looking party. Every kind of food one could wish to try was present, and the decorations were beautiful and amusing at the same time. There was cake and many, many guests. Which made Jade nervous and he never strayed from Delenn's side, always holding tightly to her dress. David and John spoke to friends and family members who had arrived for the party including John's sister and her family. His parents had not been able to make the trip, but John was scheduling a trip to earth soon anyway and would see them then. John, at one point, called Delenn over to him and she came with Jade closely behind.
"Lizzi, Dan I'd like you both to meet Jade." He indicated the child who looked to be carbon bonded to Delenn's dress.
"Hi there." Liz said to him. "Hello." said her husband.
"Jade is going to be your nephew soon. We are adopting him."
Liz and Dan were happy and hugged John and Delenn. When Liz moved to hug Jade John stopped her and explained the situation. She looked sympathetic and smiled down at Jade. "I hope you will get better soon and I am glad you are going to be a part of our family." Jade hid his face in Delenn's back, but told Delenn to thank her.
"He thanks you Liz, but he will not speak aloud. Its all right though we are helping him to heal." Liz nodded and smiled both happily and sadly at the same time. Delenn pulled Jade in front of her and lifted him off the floor. David was sitting at his place of honor at the table and being served the meal so Delenn and John joined him as the other guests sat as well. They sat and ate speaking softly to their neighbors and enjoying the party. They were served cake and ice cream for desert and then David was to open his many presents.
The first from his parents was a slip of paper declaring he was to start pilots lessons when he returned home. The second was also from John and Delenn, and was the cause of the pilots lessons. It was a personal transport for David to fly where he needed to go. The third from Garibaldi was a recipe that he promised David he would teach how to prepare, then Ivanova's gift and so on until they were through.
"Wait, wait," said John, "one more." He handed a small urn looking thing to Londo. "You told me that this should be opened on my child's sixteenth birthday. I thought that since you gave it to me you should be the one to present it to David."
"Yes I would thank you." Londo looked torn, but took the urn and presented it to David.
David took the urn and started to open the top of it. A Figure shot out of the crowd, "No don't open it." But too late the lid popped free. The Figure shot forward still faster and knocked the urn away from David and covered him with his own form.
Out of the urn a spider-looking creature shot and began searching for the one he was sent to infect.
Franklin recognized the creature immediately from Mars, and poor Captain Jack. He yelled a warning and made a grab for the creature. Missed and called for a gun. A security guard arrived instantly and took aim at the figure covering David. "No, no, no, he's protecting David..." too late the security guard fired and a burn formed on the figure's right side. "Hey stop that you might hit the boy. I didn't mean fire at them anyway. There is a creature in here some where it is large and black and it looks like a spider. I saw an eye on it. Find it and kill it. They're dangerous."
Delenn and John had gone to David's side and were helping the robed figure to sit in a chair. David looked to be okay and Delenn sighed in relief, then an intake of breath by a guest behind her and a PPG shot rang out and caught the creature in mid-leap it fell and skidded to a halt a few feet from Delenn, Jade, David, and John. She checked David once more to make sure her son was safe, and when satisfied he was, she turned to thank the figure who had saved him.
He sat rigidly still and held the spot where he'd been shot. Delenn moved closer and said thank you. The figure removed the hood to reveal a familiar and sorely missed face. Delenn gasped as she recognized Lennier, and John was at her side in an instant. "Lennier...how?"
"I told you I would come back when I could earn your forgiveness for what I had done. I told you I would come back when I could be worthy of your trust once more. I have saved your son, and I now am ready to accept the forgiveness you expressed to me the last time we spoke. I would now ask for your leave as I would like to visit medlab."
"Of course, Lennier, of course. I am sorry you were injured like that when only trying to protect David from harm."
"No I am honored to have protected him from an incompetent man such as the guard who would shoot into a crowded room full of dignitaries and especially one who would forget that that boy is the son of the One and the One who will be, and fire a weapon in his direction. I am glad I was hit instead of him." Lennier then stood and walked out of the room. Delenn looked at John and he nodded to her to go on and not worry. She lifted Jade to her hip and took off after Lennier.
David looked fine to John, and the crowd had dispersed to only their closest friends and family members. Ivanova told him that she'd alerted security to detain Londo. John didn't know what good that would do since Londo was Emperor and had diplomatic immunity. He didn't even know if Londo was guilty of anything. David looked at them and asked where Delenn had gone to.
"She followed Lennier to medlab. She wants to talk to him alone, and I will give her the time she needs." He looked back over David. "Are you sure you're okay."
He nodded and answered, "Yeah I think I may have a bruise or two but nothing serious."
"Good. Lets get these things cleaned up and to our quarters then if moms not home we'll go to medlab too." They started to work.
Delenn caught up to Lennier as he was getting on the lift to go to medlab. "Lennier," She stopped as though seeking reassurance from him.
"Lennier has it been so long for you to be so formal? I am still Delenn, and you still Lennier."
"Yes it has been so long Entil'Zha that I no longer have a right to use your name casually. I destroyed that right to have you call me friend when I left President Sheridan to die."
"Yet I still think of you as friend. And you went back. You would not have left him. Your heart is too good for so horrible a deed." The lift opened on Medlab and they entered the room. A med tech came and assessed what they would need to do and called a doctor when he saw the PPG burn. Lennier was bade sit on a medbed and be still while the doctor and techs worked on him. In the end it wasn't bad and he was bandaged up and released.
"Lennier would you please come to our quarters for some tea or something to eat. We can talk and get reacquainted with you."
"I would love to have tea with you and your mate and son," he looked at Jade as if just noticing him, "or is it now sons?"
"Not officially, but soon."
"Then sons, but I am afraid that the getting reacquainted will not be possible I am not staying long I leave in the morning, in fact, to rendezvous with my partner. I will not take too much of your life up."
Delenn felt awful as he said that, but didn't let it show. "Then I would invite you to have tea as my thanks to you for saving the life of my son."
"I accept the offer."
John and David had just finished lugging the gifts and left over party cake to their quarters when Delenn and Jade entered the living area with Lennier not far behind them. "Hello, Lennier." John was trying he really was and he was almost succeeding, but Delenn still felt the tension between them.
"Hello, Mister President."
"How is your injury not too serious I hope."
"No not serious."
David came out of his room and took in the visitor. "Hello, sir. Are you the man who saved my life earlier. I didn't see your face clearly."
"Yes I saved you."
"Thank you. I see that mother has offered her wonderful tea as a thanks. I too wish to give you something as thanks." He pulled out a small chain and held it out on the chain was a crystal likeness of a Triluminary. Lennier took it graciously, and saying that the thanks was unnecessary.
"Oh, but it is sir. I would be controlled by that thing now if it were not for you. I owe you my freedom."
"No I am merely making amends for a long ago harm I caused."
"Still, sir, I would like you to have it."
"Then I accept it." David relaxed with a sigh and smiled.
John felt uncomfortable at the mention of the long ago incident, and shifted positions on the couch. Abruptly he stood. "You know I think I'll go help Delenn in the kitchen." David nodded as did Lennier, and John disappeared into the kitchenette.
Jade didn't understand what had happened. At one moment Delenn had been as happy as he'd seen her. Then she was confused and in turmoil. He knew it had something to do with the man in the other room. He didn't know what, but he knew that the man was the cause of it.
John came into the kitchen and Jade turned his eyes to the floor.
"Hey love, how is the tea coming? Need any help?"
"No John, but you are welcome to stay here with us. I know it is hard for you to be around him, but I still think he would do you no harm. He is not staying long."
"But you want him to don't you Delenn."
"Yes, I would like to know him as my friend again."
John's arms enfolded her and Jade felt peace wash over her. He slowly lifted his eyes to look at them. John stood behind her his arms around her waist and his chin resting on her shoulder nuzzling her hair. He remembered his own father doing that to calm his mother. He then stepped closer and tugged on John's pant leg. He looked down sharply in surprise. Jade looked down quickly, then slowly lifted his eyes back to look up at John's own eyes.
"Delenn look at him." His voice was oddly breathless and Delenn looked down at Jade staring into John's eyes. She felt the elation rise inside. Finally a connection. After so long.
John stood still and waited for Jade to break the connection of their eyes. When the tea kettle signaled it was ready Jade lowered his eyes and went to Delenn's side once more and held onto her dress. He did not look back up at John again, and when John tried to touch his head Jade flinched away. He nodded in understanding and left the child alone with Delenn.
"I'll go back in there and make conversation."
"We'll be there in a moment." She said and turned back to the tea. When he had gone she knelt beside Jade and looked into his eyes. She was full of questions, and wanted to ask them now, but her guest was waiting. So, she enveloped him in a hug and again ventured to kiss his forehead and thanked him for helping John. He looked into her eyes, and though he didn't smile she saw a smile in his eyes.
She carried the tea and cups into the sitting room and poured a cup for them all starting with Lennier. She bowed formally to him and said a prayer of thanks to Valen and gave forgiveness once more to Lennier. After everyone was seated and calmed down they had a pleasant conversation. Mostly they spoke of David and how he had come so far and what his future plans were. Then David retired to his room to rest and ready himself for his journey back to Minbar the next day. He would begin Ranger training as soon as he got home.
The conversation turned to Jade for a time and then to Lennier, and his life of the past years. He told them as much of his life as he thought would be acceptable; including the fact that he had recently found a lifemate, and then also retired for the night he decided to stay until the day after David left for Minbar. He would spend much of the time with Delenn, John, and Jade.
One significant thing happened before David left that next day. Actually as he was leaving that day. Jade had gone with Delenn and John to say goodbye and good luck. It happened as David turned to leave. Jade mastered his fear of the older boy and stepped over to him as he turned. He then pulled on David's travel jacket and when David turned and looked at him Jade entered his mind. 'Good bye, David. Come back soon. I want to see you again.' Then Jade put his arms around David's legs and hugged him. Delenn and John stood by stunned at his actions but David set his things on the ground and hugged the little one back saying, "I will see you again when you get home to Minbar and I have time off from my training. Until then watch over our mother and father for me. You are a part of this family now little one, and I will see you soon. Take care of yourself too. Good bye." Jade disengaged and stepped back David lifted his things once more and kissed his parents one more time then boarded the shuttle that would take him to a White Star and then on to Minbar.
John and Delenn stood for a long time as the transport took off. Delenn lifted Jade into her arms and held him closely. He lay his head on her shoulder and hugged her as she cried. He didn't understand why she cried only that she was sad about David, and he hoped that she felt better soon. He did not even flinch when John stepped closer to them and put his arms around his wife. They left the docking bay and proceeded to their quarters. Lennier and the Captain and Dr. Franklin were to have diner with them in their quarters. Lyta and Zack had been invited, but both had declined for reasons that had sounded suspiciously false. No one said anything though and left speculation to the winds.
The meal was good (Delenn had cooked), and the company even better. Jade had even calmed soon after the others had introduced themselves once more. He seemed to like Ivanova, or so Delenn thought. He was still afraid of Franklin, but that didn't sour the evening. As he left Franklin said he wanted to see Jade for a checkup on his leg and ribs; just to make sure they were properly healed and nothing manifested that he might have missed in the initial craziness when he'd just been found.
Lennier had left not long after Franklin stating that he'd need rest for his trip in the morning. Susan stayed and helped Delenn clean up the dishes and uneaten food. John was left with Jade and felt rather awkward since he couldn't go near the boy or speak with him. Jade wouldn't even look at him again. John didn't blame him though, seeing that he'd been through what he had. So, he put in an old cartoon vid of David's and let Jade watch it in peace. He sat in his chair and watched Jade as the boy watched the show. He smiled at Jade's reaction to the funny characters on the screen.
Delenn and Susan in the kitchenette were having a conversation about the small boy who watched the ages old cartoon.
"Has he responded at all to anyone but you Delenn?"
"On the night of David's party he looked John in the eye for the first time. He hasn't since and I don't understand why he did it in the first place. He spoke telepathically with David when he left this morning and even hugged him good bye. Since then he has done nothing. He did seem to be paying a lot of attention to you during the meal this evening. I caught him looking at you quite often, but he would look at no one else, save myself."
"I didn't even notice. Its nice to know though."
"I wish he could get over his fear of John. It pains John greatly that he can not get a response from Jade."
"Give him time Delenn. He will come around." She peaked out the door at the two of them. John had fallen asleep in his chair and Jade sat on the couch watching a cartoon. The little boy looked like any other child one would see watching a cartoon. He had that special detached look that all children have when totally enamored in an interesting show. She smiled at the picture, and was shocked when Jade turned and looked directly at her. It was as though he'd known that she was watching him. He got up and walked toward her. When he reached her side he took her hand and pulled her back to the couch with him. After he got there he let go of her and sat on the couch, and watched her as if expecting her to sit as well. She did so and he turned back to the cartoon.
Delenn had watched this in silence and was touched by the scene. Tears filled her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. Maybe, just maybe, Susan was right and he would come around. She went and finished the dishes and reentered the sitting room. Jade still sat where she'd last seen him and Susan sat as she'd been, but Susan looked more relaxed than Delenn had seen her look in a long time. She joined them on the long couch and Jade climbed into her lap, looked to make sure Susan was still there, and then turned back to the cartoon. Eventually the vid ended, Jade was curled into a ball in Delenn's lap asleep. Susan and Delenn had been conversing in hushed tones since he'd fallen asleep, and were surprised at the time that had past. Susan stood to leave and Delenn carefully followed suit. Jade hardly stirred as Delenn walked Susan out. "You will have to come again Susan, soon. Jade, I think, enjoys your company."
"I'd love to do this more often Delenn. He is a special little boy isn't he?" She reached out to caress his cheek and both were surprised once more that he lifted his head into her hand when she pulled away.
"Yes, he is a very special little boy." Susan left then, and Delenn returned inside to tell John it was time to retire to their own bed. He roused and followed her into the room. As he readied for bed, Delenn got Jade into pajamas and lay him in the small bed that stood in the corner of the room near her side of the bed. Next to it on a small night stand was a small Minbari crystal used as a nightlight for small children. David had had one similar to it when he was Jade's age. She then readied herself for bed and climbed in next to John who was already asleep again. She soon fell into a contented sleep herself.
She awakened some time later to an empty bed. She looked at the clock on John's side of the bed and noted that it was oh three thirty EST. She then sat up and turned to slip out of bed to go in search of John. She stopped when she saw him sitting by Jade's small bed. He hadn't noticed her yet and she took a moment to watch him as he sat there. He reached a hand up to Jade and caressed the small face. He did this with such caution and compassion it brought a tear to her eye. She then noticed he was talking softly to the boy.
"--wish you could understand how sorry I am that all those things happened to you. I know it wasn't my doing, but I feel as though I should have been able to do something earlier. I had noticed you in customs that first day. If I had been paying more attention I would have noticed how afraid you were of that man. I won't say his name, never will you hear of him again. If they ask for you to take part in the trial I will not let them have you there. You should be happy like David was at your age. No one should have to see the things you have, or feel the pain you've endured. I wish you were as any other child is at your age. All smiles and sticky candy faced.
You deserve to be happy like that. You will be from now on if I have any say in it. Which I will. I don't want to pressure you into trusting me either. When you feel ready I will be here for you. Delenn will too. We both love you as our own already and you haven't been here that long. I also wish I didn't have to leave you so soon. I won't be here but a few more years. I hope you will understand when I do have to go. I want you to understand that I love you so much I hate to think of what was done to you. I want you to feel safe with me. I understand that you trust Delenn more she is a very loving and special woman. I know she loves you as much as I do. I also figured out why it is easier for you to trust strange women, and harder to trust men. There were no women there when you were hurt and your family taken from you. I want you to know that I will do everything in my power to keep you safe from now until the end of time. I want to give you the right to be a happy little kid that likes to go swimming and fishing and staying up past your bedtime. I know its hard now but I am going to make it better, and Delenn will to. You have my word on that. My word as President of the Interstellar Alliance and as your father. You sleep well little love." With that he kissed Jade's small forehead and returned to bed.
Delenn had listened in silence and hadn't realized she was crying until John had returned and held her in his arms and let her cry into his chest. When she calmed he kissed her softly and said, "I'm sorry I disturbed you. I just had to tell him how I felt and I figured that this was the only time I would have to tell him since I can't get near him when he's awake."
"You did not disturb me. I hadn't even noticed you there until I was about to get up an go check your desk for you. Then I listened to what you said and I was touched John. You are a wonderful speaker. Better even than G'kar. I love you so much sometimes I do not know what I would do with out you here with me. I think that Jade is a very lucky child to have you care so much for him, and David too to have you as a father, and I to have you love me the way you do. Jade will love you and trust you I know he will and I hope that it will be soon that he learns how to." He held her close to him and kissed the top of her head. She kissed his neck and they fell into a calm sleep in each other's arms.
It was sometime later that Jade awoke in fright from another nightmare. He screamed and screamed and for a wonder John was at his side before Delenn got there. John took the boy in his arms and held him to calm him. Rocking and soothing him in anyway he could. Jade held tightly to him and didn't let go even when Delenn sat near them and put her hand on his back. Jade cried and cried into John, Delenn stood and walked into the kitchen to make some warm milk for Jade to drink. When she returned with it Jade was still holding tightly to John's shirt. John was humming a lullaby to him that he'd sung to David when he'd wakened from a scary dream. Jade was calming somewhat, but Delenn still thought that the milk was a good idea, and John stopped rocking Jade as she brought it to them. She sat on the floor with John and helped Jade to drink it. Still he held onto John.
John hadn't quit humming the whole time Jade was drinking and began rocking as soon as he was done with the milk. Jade had stopped crying and was now calm again, but still he held tightly to John. "Are you all right Jade?" He asked.
Jade nodded his head into John's chest and hugged tighter. 'Don't let me go John, please.' The mental voice was a shock, but the insistence of it wouldn't allow John to let him go.
"I won't let go I promise Jade. Not until you want me to." He looked up at Delenn and she saw tears in her husband's eyes. She then understood, Jade had asked John to hold him. Her own eyes filled and she shook with relief. She turned and took the glass back to the kitchen and then returned to John and Jade's side. She stroked Jade's hair to let him know she was there too. He responded in her mind and hugged John more tightly still. John rubbed his back soothingly and Jade soon was relaxed and almost asleep once again. John stood as did Delenn and they walked back to their bed. John sat on the edge and rocked until Jade was fully asleep. He then carefully pulled his legs onto the bed and scooted down under the covers with Jade atop him. Delenn helped him pull the covers more tightly around them and then lie close beside them her hand resting on Jade's back she patted him softly and could hear his deep breathing. They fell asleep like that and didn't wake again until morning.
John woke first. Jade was now between them and snuggled up against Delenn's stomach as she lay on her side an arm holding him closely and protectively. John slipped out of bed and tucked the covers around them giving Jade another soft kiss on the temple. He went out into the kitchen and began cooking breakfast.
Delenn woke to a delicious smell. She knew that smell well, John had cooked his specialty breakfast of French toast and bacon and scrambled eggs. She savored the smell for a bit then turned her attention to the small form tucked snugly against her. He looked so peaceful. She noticed the ball that he normally slept in was not so tight as usual. He looked calm for the first time in his sleep. Like he was getting the rest he needed, unafraid to be woken by pain. She lay with him for several minutes just watching him sleep peacefully.
John walked into the bedroom to get cleaned up for the day ahead. He noticed Delenn lying in the bed watching Jade sleep. John too noticed that his sleep was more relaxed than the nights before. Delenn looked up as he neared the bed. "Good morning, Mister President."
"Good morning love, sleep well?"
"Very, but I am more rested to know that Jade slept peacefully."
"Me too. I made my special breakfast. Its in the warmer and I have to get ready to go to my morning meeting. I'm going to take a shower then I'll be back."
"All right, we'll be here if not in the bed then out there eating breakfast. I assume you did not wait for us to awaken."
"No I didn't. I figured that if I didn't eat before you got in there I wouldn't get anything." He smiled at the look she gave him.
"I would not have wolfed down my food the way David does." She was smiling now too.
"I know." He looked at Jade as the little one began to stir. The small, dark eyes opened and took in the two of them near him.
"Good morning little one."
'Good morning Delenn.'
"Hi there kiddo."
'Good morning John. Thank you for not letting me go.'
"Just doing what any father would do." Jade smiled at that. "Well I have to get ready for work. You two need to go eat breakfast."
Jade nodded and sat up. He climbed over Delenn and down onto the floor. He went to stand near the closet where his clothes were neatly put away. Delenn got up also and went to pick out a set for Jade to wear today. He got himself dressed and went into the other room while she changed herself. Then they sat down to eat breakfast. John reappeared from the shower a short time later and he sat down with them while they finished eating. Jade took his dishes to the kitchen for Delenn then came back to sit on John's lap. He held tightly once more, but he held no fear as he had the night before.
John smiled to himself and hugged Jade. Then it was time for him to go. He stood and set Jade into Delenn's arms. He gathered his notes and things then kissed them both and was out the door.
Delenn and Jade cleaned off the table and he helped her with the dishes. When they were done Delenn asked him what he would like to do now.
He pursed his lips in thought and looked up at the ceiling, "C-can w-we watch another of th-those videos?" His voice was small, the pitch was high, but it was like a songbird soft and delicate, and he seemed to be afraid to speak. Delenn stood shocked for a few moments then snapped out of her surprise.
"How about going for a walk with me I will show you around the station. Then we can watch that cartoon when we get back. I have felt your curiosity before when we walked to David's party."
"I didn't know where I was I had always wanted to come here to Babylon 5. I always thought it would be a safe place."
"Is it a safe place, Jade."
He thought it over and said in a small hesitant voice. "Now it is. It wasn't before, but I like it here now. I like to be with you and John."
"We like having you here with us. Come on lets wander around." He smiled at her and they left.
Delenn walked with Jade and showed him all the different ambassador wings, then they went to the Zocalo and looked at things. While there she also pointed out different species that he asked about and told him their names. Some she knew and introduced them, but he was shy when they looked down at him he hid in Delenn's dress. She only introduced him to a few ambassadors and the two of them moved on. A little after lunch they ran into Lennier. He was readying for his journey away. He bowed to Delenn and she returned the bow.
"I came to bid you farewell Entil'zha. I am leaving soon."
"What time are you leaving? Can Jade and I walk you to your ship?"
"As soon as I can get to the bay holding my shuttle. And yes I would be honored to have you walk with me."
"Then shall we proceed."
Lennier led the way Delenn and Jade followed. Delenn and Lennier had another conversation. She was trying to get him to stay longer even go back to Minbar with them when they went, but Lennier declined saying he needed to get back to what he was meant to be doing at this time. That he had unfinished business to attend to, and missed his love.
They reached the docking bay where Lennier's shuttle was and began their final good-byes. "You will call from now on, yes? At least occasionally."
"Yes, Entil'Zha I will. Occasionally."
"Good." She made the formal bow and Lennier bent to return it.
The docking bay doors shut behind them and from the sides of the bay four figures came rushing at them. Jade became instantly glued to Delenn and she in turn moved into a fighting stance, and pushed him away ever so softly. "Jade go and find a way to John. Tell him what is happening."
"No Delenn I won't go. I want to stay with you."
"No I do not want you harmed go hide if you can not get away. Hurry my little one. Go."
"Delenn they are not here for you go with the boy I will hold them off. Go now."
Delenn hesitated and then flat out refused to go. "I will stay and help you my friend. It is the least I owe you for saving David."
But the men coming at them were not there for Lennier. They were indeed after Delenn. When she finally figured this out she pushed Jade, who had stayed after all, into Lennier's arms. "Get him to safety, now." The men had PPGs out by this time and the largest of them was readying himself to fire. Delenn rushed him and in the scuffle he lost the gun. Lennier had opened his Denn'bok and now he fought with another of the men. All were hooded and cloaked and he didn't recognize any of them. Jade however did catch a glimpse of one man before he was bowled over by Lennier. The ranger had seen a third man bearing his PPG down on the small figure and had tackled Jade taking the shot himself. The last three men, two armed and unmoving, and a third still with his hands full of Delenn's attack finally subdued, grabbed the unconscious Minbari woman and left the other two to be found and their bodies to be a testament to their accomplishment. The ship that Lennier would have used was now stolen by those same men and they were cleared without any trouble, since C&C was expecting the departing shuttle to belong to Lennier.
Jade woke in a haze, as senses returned he felt a great weight pressing him down into the deck. He opened his eyes to find Lennier laying half on top of him. He felt the Minbari's blood staining his clothing. The little boy pushed at Lennier's crumpled form and was only partially successful in escaping the weight pinning him down. He couldn't tell if Lennier was alive or not and started to squirm around trying to get out from under the large man. Finally he did get out and looked around; the bay was peaceful as if nothing had happened. He limped over to the door leading into the station and tried to get it to open. It did open and he left the bay to find John.
People shied away from him as he ran down the corridors. He finally found the chambers where John's meeting was in progress. There were Rangers outside the doors and they stopped him as he tried to enter.
"What has happened small one?" He fought the arms that restrained him.
"He is covered in blood. Look at his back."
"In Valen's name! What has happened child."
He fought harder still and cried out with his mind to John. Moments later John Sheridan rushed out into the hall and ordered them to let go of the child. Jade ran to him and John caught him up in his arms. "What happened Jade? Where's Delenn?"
"Gone, they took her. Gone." Jade was sobbing now and could say no more at the moment. The others ambassadors had followed John out into the hallway and were looking on in shocked silence.
"What do you mean gone Jade, where. Who took her?"
Jade just pointed at a figure behind John. When John turned to see who Jade was pointing at, he was shocked when Emperor Mollari was the object of Jade's accusation.
"No Jade he couldn't have taken Delenn he was here."
Jade shook his head, 'Not him but like him. They looked like him.'
"You mean Centauri. They were Centauri like him." Jade nodded. Then buried his face in John's chest and went into hysterics. Screaming and crying with the agony of loss.
John carried Jade to medlab and had Dr. Hobbs check him over. "Nothing is wrong with him he has no cuts that would produce that much blood. John paled at the observation. It made him sick to think that Delenn was bleeding like that.
'No not Delenn. The man he saved me. Got shot. Don't think Delenn was hurt bad, but the man he's there. We have to get him.'
"What man Jade?"
'The one that helped David.'
"Lennier. He was there."
'Yes Delenn walked him to his ship to say good bye. The door closed and the men came. They shot at me and the man jumped in front of me. He is hurt bad, didn't wake up when I tried to get out from under him.'
"Okay Jade we'll help him. Doctor Hobbs, I want you to get a medteam down to docking bay 19. Move fast, Jade says there is another man down there who tried to help. I want him brought back and I want you to do everything you can for him." He looked back at Jade, "Come on lets get you home and cleaned up." Jade hesitated and finally took John's hand. John led him to their quarters, cleaned him up and put him in clean clothes. Jade then curled up in Delenn's chair and lay in a ball and didn't move again.
'Great,' thought John, 'Delenn is missing and he is going to turn into a vegetable. Just absofragginlutely great.' And then John cried. He knew that the security team would find just what Jade had described. Lennier shot and left and Delenn no where to be found, at least not on the station. He didn't stop crying for a long time. When he did look up he saw Jade staring at nothing and noticed he hadn't moved one bit. Jade was going to have a hard time until they found her. They all were.
John woke to the trill of the babcom unit. He looked over at Jade and was disheartened to see that the small child still had not moved even in the slightest. He then stood and answered the call. "Yes, what is it?"
"Ivanova here, I just wanted to tell you that the team has Lennier in Medlab. He is critical John and he was only conscious for a moment. In that moment he asked about Jade. How he was doing, that sort of thing. We told him that he was unharmed. But, sir, I would like to know how he is handling the situation."
John's eyes flicked to Jade once more. Still nothing, no reaction to his name, or the mention of Lennier. "I think you should come see that for yourself, Susan. And Susan,"
"Yes sir. When would be a good time to stop by?"
"ASAP, Captain, ASAP. He hasn't moved since we got here he just lays in a ball in Delenn's chair. I haven't tried to reach him. I'm afraid I'll send him deeper into shock."
"Yeah I know what you mean. I'll get Corwin to take over here and be there as soon as the lift will get me there."
He nodded and disconnected. He walked the last bit of distance to where Jade lay, and tried to get a response out of him without making physical contact.
Jade had no reaction to any thing John tried. The door signaled a short time later and John abandoned the attempts. He called for the person to enter and the door swung open to reveal Susan Ivanova.
Ivanova walked in and took in the scene. John looked like hell. Like he'd been crying. Jade looked catatonic. He stared at nothing and didn't move it didn't even look like he was breathing. She walked closer and saw a small rise and fall as he gasped short quick breaths. He was in bad shape and it was obvious that John couldn't get the kid to respond. He looked like he was dying with grief. He looked confused, as if he didn't know what to be more worried about; Delenn being taken or Jade not responding to anything.
"Have you tried to move him John?"
John shook his head "No, I've been afraid to touch him. Last night was the first time he let me touch him. I was so happy that he'd finally decided to trust me. Now I am scared to send him back into that distrust."
"Still John you should try. He did come to you after all."
"Okay." He moved closer and kneeled in front of Jade. "I am going to touch you Jade I need you to respond to tell me something. You're scarring us Jade. You have to get up. Do something." Nothing still. John put his hand on Jade's shoulder and still nothing. He slid his other hand under Jade and lifted him off the chair. Jade's arms snaked around John and he held on desperately. John sighed in relief, at least it was something. He still did not speak. John felt a hot dampness against his shoulder and realized Jade was crying again. "He's crying, Susan, but he isn't I, I, I can't hear him."
"I'd guess that he doesn't want to talk anymore John. I mean with what he went through and then this so soon after he started to feel safe. I doubt if he speaks again to anyone. Even when Delenn gets back." Neither would believe that Delenn wasn't coming back.
"What now?" John looked stricken, about to break down again.
"I don't know, other than hold him and try to comfort him John. And you need to get down to Medlab, on the way here Franklin linked in. It appears that he's taken control of Medlab again. He says that if you're going to talk to Lennier that you need to get there because he doesn't think Lennier will last much longer."
John nodded again and stood. "Lets get there then."
They arrived in Medlab and were shown into a room where Lennier lay in among all kinds of medical monitors. Franklin was running a scanner over a nasty looking hole in Lennier's side.
"Sheridan," Lennier's voice was tight and raspy with pain and weakness. "I am sorry I couldn't stop them. I thought they were here for me. I tried, but she ordered me to protect the child. I am sorry."
"Don't be Lennier. I thank you for saving Jade. Delenn would have given her own life to protect him. Do not be sorry that they took her, at least there is hope she is alive. I think you did well."
"I don't have long. But I did see them. They were Centauri. They looked like guards of some sort. I couldn't tell though, but I know for certain they were Centauri." He paled slightly and sank farther into the medbed.
"Don't Lennier, fight for life, we will need you to be here when Delenn gets back. We will find her. Don't die, she will miss you too much."
"I am afraid that I have no choice Mister-- ahh."
"John, call me John you have earned that much. More than just that. You have earned forgiveness Lennier. I forgive you for your lapse of good judgment. I am sorry I kept you away from us for so long. I wish I could have just realized then what it was. I am sorry."
"It was not your error John. I would not have come back even with forgiveness," he stopped to breathe, "because I could not forgive myself for my actions. Only in the recent past have I learned that."
Ivanova seeing that this was something that she and the Doctor should not be present for she motioned him over to her and pointed at the door. He nodded and motioned Jade still in John's arms. She moved closer and touched John on the shoulder, "Doctor Franklin wants to have a look at Jade. We'll take him next door, take all the time you need." He again nodded and handed Jade over. Jade himself made no protest, only holding on to Ivanova as desperately as he had Delenn that first night. The three of them left the room.
Jade was placed on the medbed the room over from Lennier and Franklin examined him.
"Well I don't see anything that wasn't already there." He looked at Ivanova who was watching with interest. She moved to sit beside him near Jade and took the boy's hand in her own. He looked at her, directly and moved so his head was in her lap.
"Well. I think he likes you Susan."
"Thank God. When I got to the house he was curled into a ball in Delenn's rocker and he wouldn't focus on anything. He looked to be in catatonic shock to me. I could barely tell he was breathing. It scared the hell out of me."
"Well I am surprised he isn't catatonic really. I was surprised by that the first time I examined him. How he could sustain that much and not be was amazing."
"Do you know what the President was talking about in there?"
"What you didn't hear? No, of course you didn't, you were on the cruiser when it happened."
"Well, when John and Delenn moved to Minbar; Lennier had shown up to escort them on a WhiteStar. John told me that he had gone for a walk and found a leak in the weapons system. A Ranger was trying to get it under control, but the doors were closing to prevent further contamination. John went in to get the ranger out and the doors shut trapping them inside. Lennier was standing on the other side and when John told him to open the door he left. Well John used one of the pikes to break the door and by that time others were arriving Lennier had come back as well, but when confronted he fled and took a fighter out into space. That's all I know except Delenn believed that Lennier had come back to let them out when he began thinking clearly. Lennier was in love with her and jealous of John, that's why he joined the Rangers in the first place."
"Damn, that's incredible." Franklin nodded his agreement. Then John entered the room.
"He's gone. He told me about the attack as much as he could and from what he said Delenn was unconscious but alive when they left."
"That's a relief. Doc says Jade is fine and healing well."
"Yeah I had him checked out before we went home. He was covered in Lennier's blood. Also Doctor I need to have his body preserved. Lennier said that a woman who knows what to do will arrive in a few weeks in search of him."
"Okay, I'll get right on it. How are you holding up?" said Franklin.
"Okay I guess. I think I am still in shock. But....I miss her already." The others understood that. "I don't know what to do with Jade. I mean he was only just starting to trust me. Now I don't know what is going through his head." He chuckled a little. "Like I knew before, what he was thinking."
"I know what you mean. I feel like I need to tread softly around him. And the Doc well he knows better than all of us how hard it is with Jade. He was the one who had to examine him that night. I was there and without Delenn's help Jade would still be out. Franklin would have kept him sedated."
"It was that bad?"
"Worse, by the time you got here Jade was already slightly sedated."
John shook his head and gazed down at the little boy lying with his head in Ivanova's lap. He reached out a hand to run through his hair and Jade pulled away and hid in Ivanova's stomach. John's eyebrows came together in concentration. He then moved to pick Jade back up. Jade's arms shot around Susan's waist and held on tight.
"It's okay Susan, I thought that might happen. Seems he doesn't want me to touch him anymore. I understand Jade. You just let me know when you need me."
"Wait I don't get it. Now I am the one he trusts?"
"I guess so, Delenn told me what he did the other night when you were there. I guess he likes you more than she thought."
"What do I do with him. I mean I have to get back on duty soon."
"Take him with you its not like he makes a lot of noise. Hell, for that matter its not like he'll get into anything either. He doesn't move around."
She looked down at the boy hugging her waist. Her eyes softened for an instant and she lifted him to a sitting position. "All right I'll take him, but once I'm off duty I'm bringing him back to you."
"Sure, what time does your shift end?"
"Around eighteen hundred. Why?"
"I am going to have a little meeting with Londo see if he knows who did this. Lennier said that the Centauri looked like guards. The only person around here with Centauri guards is Londo."
"Good luck with that. Londo doesn't exactly cooperate well anymore, not that he ever did, but I hope you can get something out of him."
"Thanks somehow I think I'll need that luck."
Susan stood and hoisted Jade onto a hip. They departed the medlab. John gave Hobbs a description of the woman Lennier had described, as well as giving one to security, and then contacted Mollari.
Susan Ivanova entered C&C with Jade still on her hip. The sight drew some curious looks that were averted before Ivanova could say anything. She went to her office and sat with Jade on her lap. "Well, here we are kid. I hope it stays quiet in here then I can spend time getting to know you. How are you feeling now Jade?"
She got no reply. "Will you talk to me just a little?"
Still nothing. "Okay, but I won't be going anywhere so you just speak up when you feel like it." Jade just nuzzled closer into her lap and closed his eyes. She shook her head sadly and busied herself with the endless paper work she had to do.
John, meanwhile was having little luck with Emperor Mollari. "Lennier identified his attackers as Centauri guards. Londo, excuse me, Emperor Mollari, I thought that since you are the only person on board with guards you might know who or suspect who might have done this."
"I am sorry Mister President, but I have not a clue as to who might have done such a thing. I am however going back to Centauri Prime to try and find out who did this. There is little chance that whoever did this has gone back there, but I can try. After all you both are dear friends. I was shocked to hear that a Centauri had been a part in this horrible affair."
"Thank you, but I am sure Delenn will come out of this fine. It is the boy we are adopting that I fear most for. Don't get me wrong I am crushed about Delenn's abduction, but Jade I just don't know if he will make it through all this. He is very fragile right now."
"Well, I understand, I had heard a little of this boy and you have my highest wishes that he will recover. It is hard to completely crush a child's spirit."
"After all Jade has been through I think with him it won't be too hard."
"Of course you know more, as I said I have only heard a small bit about him. Now though I would like to get on my way and start my investigation."
"Of course I won't keep you. I'll also let C&C know you are ready to depart."
Ivanova was thankful that nothing pressing happened while she finished her shift. She was heading to John's to drop Jade off when she made a last minute decision to take Jade to dinner with her.
John sat at his desk and waited as eighteen hundred came and went. Finally at around twenty thirty hours the door chimed and Susan walked in with a sleeping Jade in her arms.
"I was starting to worry. How was everything?"
"Fine, sorry to worry you, but I decided to take him to eat something and then figured it would be easier on you if I let him fall asleep before bringing him to you."
"Thanks it will help. I didn't know what I was going to do with him when it was time to go to bed. Now it looks like I won't have any problems."
"Well where do you want me to put him?"
"In the big bed on Delenn's side. I think he'll sleep better there."
"Okay, lead the way." She followed him into his and Delenn's bedroom and lay Jade where she was bidden. John undressed him and put him in pajamas and then walked Susan to the door.
"If you two need anything call me John. I'm not too far away and all day I found I kinda like having him around."
"No problem. When I need help I'll call. It will most likely be at breakfast when he wakes up. So be prepared."
"I understand, John. Just call everything will be okay."
"Right, good night Susan."
She left with a good night to him as well. The door closed behind her and John got himself ready and into bed next to Jade. For a long time he just lay there and watched the boy sleep. The way he slept was not the normal, peaceful sleep of a child, or even the loose ball it had been the night before. Instead Jade curled into a ball under the blankets and moaned and whimpered in his dreams. Finally John fell asleep too.
Susan Ivanova slept peacefully until she heard someone scream her name. She came fully awake in milliseconds, as the military will teach, and had a robe on and was out the door heading for John's before she knew what had happened. She knew only that she had to get to Jade.
The door chime woke John from a dark dream and he felt grateful. He saw that Jade was in a ball still and his sleep seemed somehow more troubled than before. He replaced the blanket that Jade had discarded and went to the door. As soon as it opened she was through it and halfway to the bedroom before John realized it was Ivanova.
He heard a slight start and went into the room Susan sat on the bed holding Jade who was obviously hysterical once again. He fought in her arms for a minute before subsiding and letting her rock him into a calm. She began humming a tune John didn't recognize. "What are you doing? Susan its oh three hundred in the morning."
"Shhh." She continued to rock and hum to Jade and he was finally asleep again though he was not letting go of her. His knuckles were white where he held onto her robe.
"Now, will you tell me what's going on?"
"I don't know I just heard a scream and knew I had to get here fast. Sorry for barging in. It was just such an odd and urgent feeling, I had to get to him, John."
"Hmm," John frowned, "I thought he looked more troubled when I got up to answer the door but it didn't look like it was that bad."
"It was worse most likely, I think I need to stay with him John or none of us will get any sleep."
"Well if it's like that you may as well just take him back to your quarters with you."
"No, John you and Delenn are adopting him, he can't get too attached to me. I think that with Delenn gone he just needs someone to latch onto. I don't understand it, but he picked me to be that individual."
"Well then you should get comfortable I can go to your quarters and get you something for tomorrow. Just tell me what you want you guys take the bed I'll sleep on the couch."
Susan outlined what she needed for the next day and John went to get it. When he returned Susan was asleep with Jade lying atop her stomach still holding on for dear life to her robe. He smiled sadly and covered them up with an extra blanket and took another to go to sleep on the couch.
Susan woke with Jade still lying atop her and holding desperately to her robe. She shifted him slightly so she could sit up. Her uniform was hanging on the door of the closet near her and she noticed the extra blanket that had been pulled up over them. Jade woke at her movements and looked up at her. She smiled down and he frowned at her. She wondered at his expression, but not expecting an answer didn't ask him about it either. She heard movement in the other room and stood setting Jade on the bed. She stepped over to the closet and grabbed her clothing and disappeared into the bathroom to change. When she came out Jade sat on the bed where she'd left him dressed in a jumpsuit made for play, though on him it didn't look like a play garment; it looked more like a uniform from some drab, boring academy school. She went and held out her hand to him. He slipped off the bed and took her hand, and she led him out of the room.
John stood in the kitchen making a meal for breakfast. He looked up when they came into the room. "Morning, want some breakfast."
"Sure, bedrooms all yours. I have to get going soon."
"Okay foods ready I was just keeping it warm. Jade good morning, I see you're all ready for the day ahead."
Jade only looked away from him. John sighed and went to change. When he returned Susan asked, "What are you going to do with him today?"
"I really don't know. I guess I'll let him tag along with me to meetings. He most likely won't be in the way."
She battled with herself for a moment and finally decided, "If you like I'll take him to C&C again. I don't know about tonight, but I'll take care of him during the day for you."
"That's great Susan, I think he'd like that. Thanks." And they all went off to work after the dishes were cleared and everything settled as it should be.
We all know what is happening to Delenn on Centauri Prime and I am not going to write about that. I will say that I don't know exactly how long Delenn was there so I am going to make it about a month. The story resumes with her return.
Delenn stepped off the shuttle she and the young John had left on. Waiting to meet her were John and Susan, with Jade in her arms, and Franklin near by. John came to her and enveloped her in a tight hug and didn't let go even when they disengaged the embrace. "God I am relieved to see you. We were searching and searching. We sent Rangers to Centauri Prime and they never returned. Are you all right? They didn't hurt you did they."
"No, love I am fine now that I am here."
"Thank God you're safe." He held her close once more and kissed her forehead softly.
"How is Jade?" She pulled him with her since he wouldn't let go. She stepped closer to Susan. "Hello little one."
He held more tightly to Susan. Susan's face colored and she looked apologetic.
"No Susan do not feel bad. He needed someone to connect with and when I was no longer here he found someone else to trust. I am glad it is you. I am sad that I was not here for him. I hope that he will again come to trust me and that I can get the connection with him back. It will take some time though I fear." She reached out to caress Jade's hair softly. He didn't for a wonder flinch even a little.
"Wow," Susan said breathlessly, "He hasn't let anyone but me touch him since your abduction. Even John. We finally had to move him into my quarters. He wouldn't sleep in yours."
Delenn smiled understandingly. "Maybe with my return he will be more receptive."
"I hope so, but come on, lets get somewhere comfortable. We can't stand around all day in here."
"Yes," Franklin joined, "Lets go somewhere that I can take a look at you Delenn."
She nodded and they headed for Medlab. Once there and Franklin was satisfied that she was okay she asked about Lennier.
John looked pained, "I had hoped to wait for a few days to speak of this. But since you ask I can't deflect your questions. This will be hard Delenn."
"Tell me John, please." Her eyes held the knowledge.
"He passed beyond Delenn. Shortly after we found him that day. He'd been shot protecting Jade. We didn't get there fast enough to save him. I'm sorry." He went to her and held her to him. Her arms came to encircle his body and she grieved for her friend lost then redeemed only to be lost forever.
Jade did not go to her, but he clutched Susan more tightly and wept with Delenn.
When Delenn calmed she asked what they had done with his body.
"Well, he did tell me that someone would come looking for him and they knew what to do. So we put his body into cryogenic suspension." Delenn looked heartened at his words.
"Thank you, John, I am glad you honored his wishes."
"I want you to know that I forgave him. I told him that I did and I was sorry for keeping him away from us for so long." John neglected to tell her what Lennier's answer to that was for he felt she already knew what it was.
"Knowing that you told him fills me with peace, John. And now I would like to know more about Jade. How he is, and how he reacted after I was taken. Maybe if I knew I will be able to connect with him sooner."
Ivanova stepped up and began to tell her about Jade. What had happened that first night and in the following days when she and John had decided he would be better off with her, rather that staying with John at night. How he'd verbally spoken to no one after telling John what had happened, and after that speaking mentally only with Ivanova. Even going so far as to block Lyta completely after the one time she tried to get him to open up.
"He never asked me for anything either. If he wanted something he got it himself, and I was the one who had to instigate a conversation with him. He only contacted me at night when he woke mentally screaming for me. Then I would hold and rock him and sing Russian lullabies to him until he went back to sleep. I would lay him in the bed beside me and then fall asleep to. Until I figured out that if he started in the bed with me that he wouldn't waken. That was when I just started letting him stay there all the time." She looked sad telling her tale.
"I won't lie though, I liked waking up to help him in the night. I like taking care of him. It has helped my heart heal I think."
"Maybe this was for a higher purpose then. My being taken. Before he died Londo told," she hesitated trying to decide if she would tell them that she had seen the younger John. Finally she decided not and continued, "me that the Drakh still had a hold on Centauri Prime. He asked me to help free his people from them. They had him under their influence. One of those monsters that attacked David was bonded with him somehow. It was horrible." John moved to comfort her. "Then he sent me to a shuttle to escape before it took control of him again. He'd put it to sleep by drinking himself into a stupor. I heard him speaking with G'kar for a moment before I was too far away and I heard him asking G'kar to end his life so that I may go free. After that I was too far away to hear more, and then I was on the shuttle coming here."
"We heard from Vir about six hours ago. He said that the Emperor and his Bodyguard were found dead in the Imperial Throne Room." There didn't seem to be anything more to say after that and they all sat in silence with their own thoughts.
Finally Delenn asked to see Lennier's body. They took her to him. As they reached the cryogenic chamber Susan hesitated in the doorway.
"What's up Susan?" asked Franklin.
"Are the tubes covered Stephen?"
"He's in there. I don't think I can see him again. It still hurts so much."
"Would you like me to wait out here with you?"
"No go ahead. I'll have Jade with me." Jade actually had other plans though. He felt her anguish and wanted to see the cause of it. So he wriggled out of her grip and followed the path of her thoughts to the man frozen in a tube on the wall. He was tall and had dark hair that framed his face. He looked like a kind man to Jade. Noble, he thought, and caring. His face held the expression of one content to have given life up. Although, Jade found that when he compared the man with Lennier. Whose body was next to him there were differences in their appearance.
John had noticed him by now, and wondered why he was so entranced with Marcus. He didn't move to the boy though just watched him.
Jade leaned his head to one side, eyebrows furrowed, and a strange expression on his face. He reached out to Susan's thoughts again and looked for this man's name. Once he had it he pulled out completely. Then he walked forward and touched Marcus tube.
John watched as he reached out and touched the tube and closed his eyes. He took a deep breath and looked more peaceful than he ever had since they'd met. John lightly tapped Delenn's shoulder and held a finger up to his mouth when she turned to ask what he wanted. Then he pointed to Jade and her eyes followed his gesture to rest on the boy.
Jade stood and reached out to Marcus' mind. He went slowly so he didn't miss anything that might be important to his task. He had no sense of time as he stood there he only knew that this would take a long time and he would be very tired when he was finished. He kept looking and found that the man's mind was a jumble. Memories were mixed up and had no order. He began to put them back the way they belonged. He looked for the earliest ones to put in order first then he put the later ones in order. He found out that the man had loved Susan enough to give his life to let her continue living. He looked for anything that might keep this man in a coma and found many things in his mind to be jumbled and confused. His motor functions were a mess once Jade had put those back into order he found that the part of the brain that controlled involuntary actions, like breathing, had shut down completely. He looked for a reason why and found a center of the brain as yet unexplored by telepaths and scientists. It was a center for the brain to help replenish the bodies lost strength and life force. He entered the area and began to repair it. Once done he had an easier time helping the body heal itself rather than doing it himself. He helped the nervous system to work properly, and made sure that the involuntary control center was doing its job properly. He checked all the organs for damage and repaired what he could.
John and Delenn watched as Jade's breathing deepened and slowed until they could hardly tell he was breathing any more. John went to fetch Doctor Franklin and Susan. They returned and John told Franklin what he'd seen Jade do. Susan was reluctant to come in, but was finally persuaded by the others. She walked in and saw Marcus for the first time in seventeen years. Her eyes filled with tears and she went to stand near him. Jade she didn't even notice for some minutes. When she did she didn't know what to make of it. She reached out to touch him and was stopped by Lyta entering the chamber.
"Don't he's in a telepathic trance for some reason or another. If you touch him you might disturb his concentration. Let me do a light scan and see if I can figure out anything." She looked at Jade and seemed far away, and abruptly was thrown back against Franklin who stood behind her. Both were then knocked into the wall. The others were there next to them in an instant asking what had happened.
"As soon as I entered his mind I knew it was a mistake. There was this feeling of supreme anger and then he literally propelled me out of his mind. I was already trying to pull out though and when he bulldozed into me the physical effect was a bit stronger than it would have been." She chuckled softly. "I guess that's what I get for poking my nose in where I shouldn't have."
"Did you see anything at all?"
"Well not anything that you want to know about. I did see every kind of barrier I know about and a heck of a lot that I have never seen before close around his mind, on my way out." Jade felt a light presence enter his mind and flung it out and shut all the doors and barriers he could to keep it out again. He then went back to his self- appointed task.
A young human woman entered medlab as Franklin and John stood looking over some charts. She had russet hair that was cropped short, and dark brown eyes. John recognized her from Lennier's description. He stepped closer and asked, "Can I help you ma'am?"
"Yes I am looking for Lennier, a Minbari male, I am his partner. We had planned to meet here if he had not returned to base within the allotted two weeks. I thought that the medical facilities would be the smartest place to start looking since he would have returned unless he was hurt or MIA."
"You have definitely found the right place. I have to tell you though that he was killed during a fight in which he saved my son's life. He told me to look for you in a month or so. He also said you would know what to do with his remains."
"I do know. Thank you." He voice he noticed sounded strained. "I would like for you to sign him over to me so that I may carry out his wishes."
"Sure, it will only take a minute."
She followed him to the cryochamber and took possession of Lennier's body. She then departed and John didn't have the chance to speak with her again.
Susan did not leave the whole time Jade stood there unmoving, his hand on the cryotube that held Marcus. The others came in and out going about their business. John took Delenn to their quarters to rest and eat. Franklin went to talk with old friends and spend time with Garibaldi the renewed Head of Alliance intelligence and the former Number One of the Mars Resistance, who would be Garibaldi's second now that he was back.
Susan never moved she sat behind Jade leaning against the wall and watched in fascination as the color returned to Marcus' features. The luster came back into his hair and he seemed to fill his Ranger clothing once more. He no longer looked like death warmed over. He looked as if he were asleep. Finally during some ungodly hour of the night she drifted off into slumber. When she awoke she found that she'd been wrapped in a blanket and stretched out flat on her back. Jade still stood where he'd been when she'd fallen asleep. Marcus' continued to look better and better as well. She began to feel hope that this boy could do something to help her regain a chance she'd thought lost. All through that day and that night and the next day, Jade stood and did not move. Some time during the third night very late, as Susan sat watching, Jade lowered his hand and opened his tired eyes. His whole body shivered with fatigue, and still he moved closer to the tube. He found a purchase to climb up and reached for the controls. He keyed in a sequence and the tube began to waken its occupant. Jade watched for some minutes as the tube hummed and at length opened slowly. By the time it was completely open Franklin was in the room and looked upset.
"What are you doing kid? He's been dead for seventeen years."
Jade did not seem to hear him, and stood watching as Marcus eyes fluttered open and then closed once more. He then smiled as if appeased only then did he turn to Franklin. "Put him somewhere to recuperate, I need rest." He then backed up until he contacted the wall. His eyes closed and he was instantly asleep. His unconscious body slid slowly down the wall, and came to rest in a sitting position with his chin resting on his chest.
Susan rushed to the child and lifted him off the floor. "Do what he said Doctor. I'm taking him to Delenn and John's place to put him to bed."
"Make sure to tell them to see that he eats when he wakes up."
"Somehow I don't think we'll have to worry too much about that." She stayed long enough to see Marcus lifted onto a gurney and wheeled into an examination room. Then she left Medlab and took Jade where he wanted to go. She didn't know how she knew it, but she didn't question her instincts no matter how late at night it was.
The door opened and John stood in a robe. He took one look at the child in Susan's arms and ushered them inside. "Its oh four hundred Susan, why bring him here?"
"Apparently he was finished with whatever he was doing and needed rest. I don't exactly know why I am here only that it seemed right to bring him here."
"He's finished, what did he do?"
"I'm not quite sure, but John he woke himself and then opened Marcus tube. I knew he was completely exhausted. Just by the way he stood there watching as it opened I knew he could collapse any moment. John when the tube opened Marcus opened his eyes. It was just for an instant but he opened them. Then Jade told us to put him somewhere to recover and let him rest. Then he slid down the wall and was sleeping like he is now."
John looked nonplused and excited all at the same time. "Do you think Jade might have healed him?"
"I don't know, but I want to get back and see what is happening."
"Okay keep me posted, I won't be able to look in until late tomorrow. I'm due in court the trial started yesterday."
"How do you think its going?"
"Oh its great. I mean we have solid evidence that he did all those things. Really the only thing left is to pass sentencing, but the judge does want to talk to Jade."
"Are you going to take him?"
"No I told the judge that he could stop by and see him after the trial, but that I wasn't letting that man to be within sight of Jade ever again."
"Good for you John. I need to get back. I want to be there when Marcus wakes up. I know he will. Oh, and Franklin wants you to be sure that Jade eats when he awakens." She relinquished Jade's sleeping form to John's strong arms and left the room. John looked down at Jade and smiled. "You did good buddy. There is a light in her eyes that I haven't seen in too long." He smiled again and carried Jade into the bedroom. He lay the small body on the bed and disrobed himself. Then climbed in next to Jade. He noticed that the small body was not wound into a tight ball ready to spring from sleep at the first sign of anyone entering the room. His diminutive form was relaxed and sprawled like a child's body should be in sleep. He lay there and watched Jade sleep for a long time. Eventually Delenn's sleeping body gravitated toward Jade's and she curled around him protectively. Jade didn't even move to curl into her embrace. He looked spent. His skin was pale with fatigue. John curled around both of them and fell asleep soon after.
Susan sat in the private recovery room that Franklin and Hobbs had assigned to Marcus. He lay peacefully sleeping and Franklin had said that he should make a full recovery. He still didn't know what Jade had done, but what ever it was it had worked. And Susan was thankful for that.
Night turned into day and morning turned into midday, and a short while after the noon hour Marcus opened his eyes and focused on Susan.
"Hello," his voice was a soft raspy whisper Susan had to lean close to hear it, "How are you Susan?"
"I am fine, love." His eyes lit on her use of the word.
"So you heard me. I didn't think you would."
"I did, and I realized that I wanted nothing more than to say it back to you, and for you to hear it."
"So how long have I been out of it, from what that little one told me, and the changes in you, its been quite a while."
"Yes Marcus," her voice took on a reverent tone when she said his name, "its been many years. Marcus,"
"I love you too."
His smile sent tingles of delight down Susan's spine. She felt elated like she was walking in the clouds. Then Franklin walked in and had Marcus eat some food and drink some rehydration solution that was needed after a person has been in suspension. After he'd finished he spoke again.
"I'd like to see the little chap who woke me up and put my head back in order. I'd like to thank him for giving me some time to love you again." he said it to Susan.
"I can take you to him, but I don't think that speaking to him will do you any good. John stopped by on his way to the trial this morning and said that Jade was still in a deep sleep. Franklin went over there to have a look at him and said that his system is rebuilding the strength that he lost. He didn't know when Jade would wake up again.
"I guess I can wait then until I'm let out of here." After drinking the solution his voice was more normal, though there were bound to be side effects from his having not used it for so long in cryogenics. "When can I leave by the way?"
"Well you're going to have to take that up with Doctors Franklin and Hobbs."
Susan then proceeded to bring him up to speed on the last seventeen years and the events during that time. He was interested in hearing about David and Jade, and about Garibaldi's family and newly reacquired position, and to hear about Lennier and the Rangers. They talked until late in the night, and Marcus seemed to regain strength with every passing hour.
Jade slept for two days and nights and woke late in the third day. He proceeded to wolf down the meal Delenn fixed for him and then went to wash himself and change into something clean. When he returned he asked to be taken to medlab to see Marcus and Susan. John lifted him off the floor (Jade made no protest, though he spoke to them only telepathically), and they took him to see Marcus.
Marcus lay on the medbed dozing when they entered the room. Susan had just come off shift when they came. She sat watching him sleep, and didn't notice them until Jade climbed into her lap. She smiled widely at him and he noticed a light in her eyes that had not been there before. He hugged her and clambered up onto the bed next to Marcus. For a wonder Marcus did not stir as the small body climbed up and shook the bed. Jade closed his eyes and lay a hand on the Ranger's arm. Marcus seemed to gain more color and strength and opened his eyes as Jade's hand left his arm. Jade took a deep soothing breath and opened his own eyes to look at the Ranger.
"Hello there, little savior, I don't believe we have formally met. I am Marcus Cole, a human Ranger dedicated to the side of light."
Jade smiled and said aloud to Marcus. "I'm just Jade, but I am glad I could help you and Susan." He added the last in a small voice.
"Why did you help him, Jade?" Asked Susan.
"Well, it was time for me to go home to Delenn and John, but I couldn't leave you alone again. When you wouldn't go with them to see the man that saved me, I followed your thoughts to the one who kept you away. I felt a deep sadness in you for him, and a deep love. When I saw him he looked different from the dead man in the next tube. So I thought I would help him. He was confused and his mental strength depleted. It wasn't working to heal his drained life force so I helped it to heal itself. Then it began to heal his life force and I helped with that too as much as I could. I did other things too, but they are not as important."
"How did you heal it?" That came from John.
"I can't explain it. I can just do it. I always have been able to."
"Then why didn't you save yourself or your family."
Jade did not answer that question, just looked toward Susan. Then to the floor. When he looked up again there were tears in his eyes.
"Jade I'm sorry I didn't mean to upset you."
"Its okay John, I just don't want to remember that anymore." He hopped off the bed and went back to Susan's lap. She hugged him and thanked him for caring so much about her. He smiled the first genuine smile any of them had seen from him, and she hugged him once more.
"We won't talk about those things anymore then. I'll tell the judge not to come to see you, and he'll just have to deal with that." John lifted him off Susan's lap and held him close. Delenn stepped forward to speak to Marcus.
"It is good to see you healthy again Marcus. How do you feel?"
"Like I just ran a marathon, fought the shadow war alone, and took care of the earth's problems all at the same time, but I am getting better and I am getting sick of being confined to medlab and this bed. I want to move around I have been lying still for seventeen years its time I got up and went to work for a change. I have had enough of this forced vacation."
The other adults laughed at this exclamation, but Jade simply stated, "Why don't you get up then. You are healed and though you may be a little weak on your feet for a while you are capable of everything you once were."
Everyone became serious at that and Marcus pulled the diodes off his person and swung his legs over the bed. He eased himself onto the floor and stood, shakily at first, but with increasing stability. Susan stood near incase he needed help. Franklin rushed into the room and demanded to know what was going on.
"Jade basically told me to get off my lazy ass and get back to living. I decided to take his advice. Sorry Doctor, but whatever protests you make I am leaving this room and medlab right now."
Franklin was speechless and decided that at the tone of voice Marcus used, not to mention the look Susan was giving him, it would be unwise to make too big a fuss.
"Well since when did that young man go through a medical residency."
"I haven't but I know what is best for this patient in this specific case so butt out."
All were silent after that for a time shock at the statement shock evident on a couple faces, but Franklin couldn't resist. "Well after what happened to Lyta when she tried to interfere I won't cross you."
Jade's eyes furrowed, "What happened to Miss Lyta?"
"You don't remember knocking her halfway across the room into me and both of us into the wall?"
Jade shook his head. A look of astonishment on his face. "I guess I need to apologize for that. But I don't understand why I would do something like that."
"She was trying to scan you to see what you were doing to Marcus. Apparently you didn't like the intrusion."
"I didn't know I had done anything like that. I sure don't remember it."
"Well, Lyta didn't come back after that."
"Do you know where she is now. I want to apologize."
"She's kinda busy. She and Zack have been spending a lot of time together."
"I guess I'll just leave her a message then."
The group slowly made their way out of medlab and to John and Delenn's quarters. They had invited Marcus and Susan to diner, but they declined diner saying that they would rather just converse with friends and grab some food later. Jade left a message for Lyta saying he was sorry for pushing her out so hard and that he wasn't mad or anything. He then joined the group of adults sitting in the living room. John sat at his desk going over some paper work that needed to be done before his meetings the next day. Delenn and Susan were talking about David and politics and the Alliance. Susan had been offered a General's position by Earthgov, and was trying to decide whether to take it or not. Marcus sat speaking to Garibaldi, whom Jade hadn't met formally, and Franklin, ever the doting doctor. Jade elected to go and see what John was doing. He saw John make a funny face and wondered what it was about. When he drew nearer he found that John was not, in fact, doing paperwork, but instead was playing a game on his desktop monitor. Jade stood behind and watched for a few minutes and looked around the room at the others and soon found that he was crying. John noticed and pulled him up onto his lap.
"What's the matter?" He asked softly so as not to worry Delenn and Susan.
"I was just wondering if this is what a family is like. And if it is that my family will never be this way."
"Yes," John's voice was strained with emotion, "this is what a family is like. Even though your old family will never get the chance to be this way, we can be your family now. Would you like for us to be your family Jade?"
"Oh yes very much John. I would love to have a family like this. I want Delenn to be my mother and you to be my..." He hesitated, "f...f...f...father, and I want Susan to be my family too."
John looked around him at his friends and sighed. They did look just like a family. "I'm pleased to hear you say that. I've already started working on an adoption. Delenn and I are going to adopt you as our own son. Do you remember the woman that I introduced you to at David's party?" Jade nodded, "She is my sister, I have a mother and father as well living back on Earth. We'll go see them soon. They will be your grandparents. I have a picture of them if you'd like to see it." Again Jade nodded. John pulled out the picture of his parents that he carried with him. Jade looked at it for a moment.
"They look nice, John. What about Delenn? Does she have any family?"
"Yes her mother is still living, but I doubt we will ever see her. Delenn herself has only seen her a few times in her life." "Oh, will it make her sad if she hears us talkin' about it?"
"No, no I don't think so. Her mother is a part of a highly regarded religious group. It is a great honor for her to be a part of them."
Jade nodded even though it was clear he didn't understand. "How about your mom and dad, are they nice, they look nice in the picture." he looked back down at the picture he was holding. His voice held a tremor when he next spoke. "Are we gonna see them?"
"Yes I was thinking of going to Earth soon to visit them, before its too late. I'd like you to meet my dad especially. I think you'll like him a lot. Do you want to meet them?"
Jade looked away for a moment and then said in a small voice, "Yes, I guess so. Even if I am scared."
John understood his hesitation. "If you are scared remember that Delenn and I are there."
"But I don't want to be scared of them, or of you anymore, but I am. I'm sorry."
"Don't be kiddo. We all understand why you are scared and it is a very good reason. We are going to make all that go away though. Delenn and Susan and I we are going to give you so much love that you won't ever be scared again."
Jade leaned back against John and nodded slowly. He handed the picture back to John and asked about the game he'd been playing. "I've never seen a game like that."
"Here let me show you what its all about. Then we can play together."
Delenn and Susan, sitting on the couch, were speaking about Susan's new promotion to Generalship. Susan was having a hard time deciding to take it or not.
"You should take the promotion. We are not going to stay on the station forever. John and I are heading back to Minbar after we go to see his parents on Earth in a few weeks when all the adoption and trial mess is over."
"Jade is one reason why I don't want to go to Earth, Marcus is the other. I don't know if he'll want to go with me. He's never had a great love of Earth and after everything that happened I wouldn't blame him if he never wanted to see the planet again."
"He loves you Susan, he will go with you where ever you are, even if he is not with you. He will be inside your heart."
"It sounds like you have a lot of experience dealing with that."
"I do. My mother has been separated from me my entire life, I have only seen her a few times, but her spirit and memory are within and I can feel her love even at a great distance. It will be the same when the time comes for John to go."
"What do you mean by that?" Her voice had risen at the last and all eyes turned toward them. Susan blushed and looked at the floor.
"I --" at that precise moment the door chime rang loudly and interrupted her.
"Come," John called toward the door.
Lyta and Zack walked in and Jade paled a little as Lyta's eyes came to rest on him. He averted his gaze back to the screen in front of him. She left Zack's side and walked to where Jade was sitting in John's lap. Zack said hello as he entered the room and let the door close behind. "She just got that message from Jade." He said softly to Garibaldi and Franklin.
Lyta meanwhile was now crouched down near Jade. "Hey there, can I talk to you for a bit?"
Jade looked to Delenn and Susan then nodded and preceded Lyta into a different room to talk in private. Delenn looked a little frightened to leave them alone, but Susan told her that he could take care of himself.
Jade sat on David's bed and waited for Lyta to close the door. When she turned around his eyes rested on the floor.
"Jade do you think I am angry with you?"
He pursed his lips and stiffened, then he nodded so slightly it was almost imperceptible.
"I'm not mad at you, I am a little amazed that you could do that. But I am not mad, I shouldn't have intruded without invitation. I'm also a little proud that you were able to put up the barriers without fear."
"I didn't mean to hurt you. I didn't even know I did it until Doctor Franklin said something about it. I guess I was so busy helping Marcus that I didn't realize how hard I pushed you."
"You don't have to be sorry, but I was wondering, what did you do in his head? How did you help him? I didn't see anything before you pushed me out."
"I helped his brain heal itself. I just looked for things that didn't seem right and put them back the way they belonged."
"Can you show me how?"
"I don't know," he thought for a minute and then Lyta felt his mind reach into hers, he pulled out after a few moments and said, "I don't think so. You are already very talented and it looks like someone helped you get those talents, at least some of the more advanced ones. But its hard to say what I did and even harder to try to mentally explain it. Sorry. I wish I could help you."
"That's okay Jade. Come on lets get back out there with the others."
Jade nodded and left the room. Lyta followed and closed the door behind her.
Jade reentered the room and climbed up between Delenn and Susan on the couch. He leaned his head on Susan's shoulder, and listened to them talk. Lyta entered the room moments later and Susan asked Delenn what she had meant again.
Delenn looked to John for support and he came over to her. "What's going on between you two?"
"Susan still does not know John, about the limited time we have. I do not know how to tell her either, especially now." She indicated Jade. John signaled his understanding with a small nod. Jade's brow furrowed in confusion. John lifted him off the couch and held him in his arms.
"I guess now is as good a time as any to tell them both, while they have each other to hold onto when they find out. And Marcus too, I believe the rest know about it already."
"Know what John?" Jade asked him. He felt John's sadness and was getting twitchy. He squirmed until John set him on the floor. He promptly climbed into Susan's lap and held onto her. She, sensing a big boom on the horizon, held him as well. John sat behind Delenn and put his arms around her. The others stopped talking and sat in silence. All except Marcus, he left his spot near Garibaldi and went to sit near Susan, and put a hand on her knee.
John took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He then proceeded to tell them everything that Lorien had done to give him what time he could. When he started Jade was in Susan's lap and Marcus on the floor beside her. By the time he finished Jade had moved to sit in John's own lap and grasped him tightly, Ivanova had slid off the couch and was being held by Marcus who had paled with shock.
"Why didn't you call me on my ship? I would have come back. How could I have stayed away had I known you only had twenty years left. I couldn't have, John, I wouldn't have been able to. It feels like I have thrown away precious time." She was near to tears as she said this and when she fell silent she turned in Marcus' grip to rest her face in his chest.
"No Susan its not wasted, I didn't tell you for precisely that reason. I knew you would have given up your ship to be my friend. I couldn't allow you to do that. Then it would have been a waste of time. I knew you were my friend. I was happy that you were where you might be happy again. Seeing you the way that you were after everything, I really was contented that you were there instead of here being my friend and drowning in grief. As for Marcus well he wasn't around to worry about, and Jade. Well, I am just happy that I have what little time I do to be a father to him. Its hard yes, but its not the end of the world. I was worried how you would take the news too. After Marcus, well, I was afraid it might be too much bad all at one time. So I didn't tell you. Now I see you happy and contented and I didn't want to mar that with this. I just wanted to see that spark of Ivanova Fire in your eyes again. And now its there."
Jade sniffled and trembled in John's arms trying to hold all the information in and understand it. He didn't know how to feel about all this. He was sad and scared, but he was also mad at the man Lorien for not giving John more time. Jade didn't know how to express all that though so he held it in. Delenn noticed it and took him from John. She looked around her at her friends who had somewhere along the line become family. They were all pallid, even though all but Ivanova and Marcus and Jade had known about it for some time. No one wanted to think about it. She held her small son firmly to her and rocked him gently soothing them both a little.
"It is no use dwelling on it we should be grateful that I have the time I do. If not for Lorien I wouldn't have had any time at all. I wouldn't have David or Jade. I would never have married Delenn. I am deliriously happy with the life I am leading. Yes, in a few years it will be over, but so what, what counts is that it was and is still a good life."
"Yeah, your right John. I am happy that you are able to have the time you do, but I don't know how to think of the world without your sense of humor to keep us all going in the hardest times."
"I understand, but lets not let it ruin the evening." He kissed Jade on the top of the head and Delenn on the cheek. She held his hand.
"Why don't we make some dinner that will help to take everyone's mind off of things."
All the guests agreed readily and Delenn and John led the way into the kitchen. Things were crowded and after the second mishap ended with an egg on the floor Garibaldi banished everyone from the kitchen saying he would cook or take it as an insult. Everyone left him alone, and by that time the mood had calmed and was almost back to normal. Jade was the only exception, he was more reserved and still didn't know how to stop feeling like he was about to explode. All through the evening he sat with John even during the meal.
Finally the guests decided it was time to go home and get ready for the day ahead. John and Delenn said their goodnights and walked their guests to the door. Then they were alone with Jade. John noticed the hunched shoulders and straining muscles under Jade's skin and asked what was wrong. Jade couldn't describe it, and John hugged him tighter as they walked to the bedroom to get ready for bed. Jade sat in John's spot until John was finished in the bathroom. Then he curled up between them as they lay down. John rolled over so that he was facing Jade and Delenn. Jade curled up near him and John was heartened by his actions. John and Delenn soon fell asleep. Jade lay awake trying to understand his feelings and he began to tremble with the effort. John awoke at his tremors.
"What's wrong?" He whispered, "Are you cold?"
Jade shook his head. "No" he whispered back.
"Did you have a nightmare?"
"Then what is wrong? Tell me how I can help you."
"I was thinking about what you told us and I don't know how to feel it. I mean I know what I feel, but I don't know what to do about it, and it hurts me. I just don't know what to do. I was trying to figure it out, but that gave me a headache."
"Well can you show me how you feel then maybe I can help you figure it out."
Jade nodded and opened to John. John felt the things Jade was feeling and couldn't speak for some time. When he did he said, "It will help you feel better to cry Jade. I felt sadness in you. Do you want me to hold you?"
Jade nodded again, and John put his arms around Jade holding fast to the trembling child. Jade let a few tears escape and found he couldn't stop them. He soon was sobbing uncontrollably. John hugged him close and cried with him.
Jade cried for a long time; finally he cried himself to sleep his face buried in his father's chest.
Jade woke the next morning in a bed devoid of his new parents. He heard them out in the sitting room and wandered in to find them relaxing on the couch in each other's embrace. He left again before they noticed him and went to put on clean clothes. When he entered the sitting room this time they were as he'd left them. John saw him this time. "Come on out I see you standing there." Jade walked closer and John smiled a good morning at him. "Good news just came in, kiddo, Bishop has been convicted for treason against the government. Nightwatch will soon be disbanded once more and the members will be tried as well for their involvement in your family's murders. You have been placed in our home until we adopt you formally. It looks like we can head to Earth whenever we feel ready to go. My last meeting today was canceled. For a wonder the two sides seemed to come to an agreement on their own."
"Come over here and join us." Delenn sat up and held her arms out to him. "Are you all right, Jade."
"Yes, but I don't want to see him again."
"We know Jade, you won't have to. If you don't want to be there when sentencing is carried out. We won't go."
"I don't want to go."
"That's settled then, we won't go." Jade sighed in relief, as Delenn and John lifted him onto the couch with them. "We can go to Earth with Susan and Marcus. Susan is accepting a promotion that will make her a General. She will be stationed on Earth. Marcus called earlier and told us that he will be going with her and they are going to be living together there."
Jade smiled, "I'm glad I helped her."
"We are glad also Jade."
They sat together for a while then began packing their things to leave Babylon 5.
In Susan Ivanova's quarters there was complete mayhem as she packed her things and Marcus got in the way. She would get maybe two items packed and then Marcus would pin her down and kiss her until they both were breathless. He loved the way she looked after the kiss, with her cheeks flushed and her lips swollen and her breathing ragged.
After one such occurrence he asked, "Why don't you marry me, love. Then we'll have a grand time on Earth. The most famous General in EarthForce married to a Ranger." He smiled mischievously.
Susan ran her hand along his jaw line and kissed him softly. "I think its a great idea, Marcus."
He looked down right pleased with himself, "If I'd have known it was that easy I would have done it a long time before now."
She chuckled and answered, "But if you'd done it before now, I would have turned you down."
He kissed her again more demanding and passionately, and for a time all things were forgotten.
John called Lyta and Zack and asked them to be at the Fresh Air around eighteen hundred, as well as Franklin, who asked if he could bring a friend, Garibaldi and Susan and Marcus. Though he had to leave a message for those two. Briefly he wondered where they were, but decided it best not to inquire to deeply. Eventually he got affirmative responses from all of them.
John and his family entered the restaurant to find Franklin and Garibaldi seated at the table with Margret Halloran, former Number One of the Mars Resistance and current second to Garibaldi, sitting at their table conversing quietly. The other guests were no where to be seen. The three of them made their way over to the table and sat down; Greeting the three who were already seated as they did so.
"So any of you know what is keeping the others?" John asked with a smug grin on his face.
Garibaldi and Franklin both chuckled. Halloran smiled, but seemed nervous.
"Well, here come Zack and Lyta. They look tired. I wonder why?" Garibaldi said in a light tone.
Lyta picked up on them and decided to have a little fun. "Well working out all night will make you tired in the morning, so I guess working out all day would do the same to you at night." Zack blushed at that and the others laughed.
Marcus and Ivanova arrived a little later and John swore that if the station lights went out they wouldn't have any problems seeing because the pair absolutely glowed.
Dinner was lively and the guests all had a great time. During desert Garibaldi finally ribbed Susan enough to get her to spill the beans.
"Well, Marcus asked me to marry him and I decided that in the face of recent events it was beneficial to accept."
There was a round of congratulations and a toast to their happiness. Then John explained that this diner was probably the last that they were going to be able to share with everyone. "The next few days are going to be spent hurrying the adoption, and packing. After all that is taken care of we are going to head to Earth and pay a visit to my folks. Hopefully we'll at the ceremony of Ivanova's promotion."
Everyone understood that John and Delenn were saying their goodbyes now instead of waiting until they left so they could catch all of the people that they wanted to say goodbye to.
After that they all sat talking for some time. Jade, by now sleeping in Susan's arms, was a large topic of the conversation, as well as Bishop. Lyta wanted to know what was going to happen to him, and John explained that the judge had found Bishop guilty of treason against the organized government for being a part of Nightwatch. They all knew that the penalty for treason was spacing so no one said it aloud.
Eventually everyone noticed that the other customers had long since departed and decided it was time to call it a night. Delenn took Jade from Susan and they all departed with hugs and well wishes all around.
The next few days were just as John had said. He and Delenn were packing and making arrangements with one of the White Stars to take them to Earth. Susan and Marcus were finalizing all of their own arrangements with the same White Star. John and Delenn Insisted that they all go together. Franklin checked Jade over one last time to make sure his ribs were healed properly and then the day came for them to leave.
As expected most of their close friends were busy and didn't get the time to see them before they left. Susan relinquished control of C&C to Commander Corwin permanently. She left him with a compliment even.
"Have a safe journey Captain, or a should I say General."
"Thanks Commander Corwin. I think you're going to do a great job. You've certainly had some of the best teachers. And just let me say that I hope your crew is as good as mine was."
He saluted her as she left Command & Control for the last time.
Once on the ship and under way the four adults and one Jade sat in one of the bunk rooms relaxing and enjoying each others company. Delenn and John were talking about things in the alliance that couldn't wait for them to get back from Earth so that left Jade with Susan and Marcus. Jade was listening to Marcus tell a story from his ranger training on Minbar as was Susan. The com beeped and a voice informed them of a call for John and Delenn. It was David.
When his face appeared on screen he looked older to Delenn. "Hello Mother, Dad. How are you both. Mom I just heard about well everything. Why didn't you call me Dad? I had a right to know."
"I didn't want to distract you from your training, David. We agreed that you would get no special rights while you are training. Well other than the fact that you are getting to train at such an early age."
"David, I agree with your father. If it had been him instead of myself I would not have informed you so that the training would not be interrupted."
David considered this and finally conceded. "I know, I was just worried that's all. But you're okay right?"
"Yes, I am fine now. We all are well."
"Yeah, actually we are on our way to Earth. Susan has accepted a promotion to General and I wanted Jade to meet his Grandparents. Now it looks like he'll have the chance to meet your cousins too. Both Stevie and Matt are at the farm, so are Danny and Liz and Jessie Ann."
"Hey I'll be sorry I missed it. So, its official then. I have a little brother now."
Jade piped up from where he sat in Susan's lap. "Yep."
"I'll have to get him a night crystal like I had in my room then."
"I'd like that David. Thank you."
"Well, it seems I have to be going. My transmission time is limited so that other trainees may contact their own families. Have fun at Grandma and Grandpa's. See you when you get home. Love you both, and you too Jade."
They all said goodbye and the monitor went dead. John and Delenn went back to the Alliance business, and Marcus resumed his story. The whole trip to Earth was smooth for once.
They all took a shuttle down to the surface and dropped Susan and Marcus off in Geneva. It took a while for them to get on the move again because Jade made Susan promise and swear upon every item she held dear to her that he would see her again before they left for John and Delenn's home. Susan was just as reluctant to let him go, but eventually duty called and she had to bid them a safe journey to John's parents and then with one last hug for Jade she and Marcus entered Earthdome.
John piloted the shuttle in to New York and set them down. There he rented a car to drive them to his family's farm even though it would have been faster to take the shuttle he wanted Jade to see everything. Jade did not disappoint. His eyes were as big as the Station all the way to the farm. He took in all the different scenery as it changed. Finally they arrived at the Sheridan farm and John drove down the lane to his old home. As they drove Jade noticed the trees lining the road. On one side the brush and trees and undergrowth were thicker than the other. He asked John about it and John explained that there was a stream on the side with more growth. That the stream replenished the nutrients that the plants needed, while the other side had to make it without the benefits of the stream. He would have gone into detail on how the Alliance was like that, but to not only Jade's but also Delenn's relief they arrived at the house. They were greeted by the whole family out on the porch as the car came to a stop.
Jade felt the fear rise, as did Delenn, she squeezed his hand. He took a deep breath and braced himself. Then he exited the car. David Sheridan, the senior, and his wife came to the car and gave John a huge sandwich hug. John returned their hugs and kisses and then was hit with the next wave. Danny and Liz came and after them their two older children, and finally Jessie Ann, John's eight year old niece.
Meanwhile Delenn had been next in line and Jade had escaped back into the car. John once freed coaxed him back out and held him in his arms. "Jade this is my family, that," he indicated David, "is my dad and with him my mom. You remember Liz and Danny." Jade nodded quickly, John noticed that his breathing was uneven. He whispered to Jade before continuing introductions, "Calm down take deep breaths and hold onto me. You'll be okay, and eventually you'll get used to them all being so rowdy and loud." Jade took his advice and took deep breaths until he had calmed. John then continued. "That is Stevie, and that is Matt. My nephews, and the little girl there is Jessie Ann, my niece." Jade managed a small "Hi." And John's mother decided they had stood outside long enough.
"Lets all go in and get some supper." The bunch agreed and John handed Jade to Delenn as he got their bags.
Inside it was neat and well kept even though it appeared that the bunch of visitors could make it total chaos. John's mother prided herself on her house, and even when the children had strewn toys and things all over it looked tidy. Jade relaxed a little as they entered the house. Everyone had lowered their voices and were calming down after the initial excitement of their arrival. Delenn followed Liz and John's mother into the kitchen out of which there were enticing aromas flowing. Jade being carried had little choice but to go along with her. Once they were in the kitchen and it was just the three women he clamed completely.
"I see you two have made a lot of progress with Jade there. He doesn't seem so scared as he did at the party a month ago."
"Yes we have made progress healing him, but I think that his healing Marcus Cole helped him more than John and I did. Although it could have been the time he spent with Susan Ivanova while I was away."
John's mother shook her head, "I never would have thought Susan Ivanova could have a calming effect on anyone. Let alone a child scared to death of everyone around him."
"Oh, Susan has hidden facets that she doesn't show often. She is wonderful with children. Jade actually connected with her before he did with John. I think that if John and I had not already decided to adopt him Susan would have ended up doing so. She is the reason we were so late as a matter of fact. Jade did not want to leave her, nor did she want to let him go."
"Its amazing. Marcus Cole, hmm, I don't think I have heard of him before."
"He is one of my rangers. He has been indisposed for quite a few years in a cryogenics tube. Jade helped him to heal."
Liz looked down at the small boy with incredulity, "What was wrong with him?"
"He had used a little know alien device that is able to heal a person. Even one who is close to death. It was used by whomever created it as a capitol punishment. Marcus used it to heal Susan at the end of the civil war here. He was then put into cryonics to preserve his body and what little life we still found in him."
"Wow, that sounds like quite a feat."
"It was, Jade healed him telepathically, he slept for days afterward from sheer exhaustion."
Both of the other women shook their heads in awe. John entered the kitchen then and asked Delenn if she needed Jade for anything. She replied in the negative. "Well Jade would you like to come with me I'll take you out and show you the horses and other animals."
Jade nodded silently, slid off of Delenn's lap, and took hold of John's offered hand. The pair left and the ladies began their conversation anew.
John and Jade walked back through the house and exited by way of the front door. David followed them out. "Have you ever seen a horse Jade?" Jade shook his head no.
David spoke, "Well, you're in for a treat. We have currently ten horses in the barn and on the place. They're beautiful animals."
Jade smiled meekly and glanced up at John for reassurance. John smiled at him and Jade calmed again.
Once in the barn Jade noted a difference in smell. He smelled hay, and feed, and the different animal smells that are associated with a barn. John led him to one of the stalls and lifted him up to look over the gate. "That is a horse. I call her tranquil moon. because she is the color of the moon and she is very easy-going." The horse wandered over hoping for a bit of grain or a carrot. The action gave David an idea.
"Would you like to touch her Jade." Jade nodded eagerly, "I'll get you a carrot to feed her and you can pet her while she eats it."
David walked into an adjoining room to get the horsy treat. Jade, John noticed, looked peacefully excited as David returned with the carrot. He handed the orange cone to the boy and instructed him on what to do. "Hold it out in front o her and let her take it, she won't bite you." Jade did so and reached out to touch the smooth nose. His eyes beamed with curiosity.
"What do you do with horses John?"
"Well, you ride them mostly."
Jade's eyes grew big around, "Can we ride her now?"
"Not right now, but we will before we leave if you'd like to. Right now we are getting ready to eat supper."
"Okay. When can we ride her?"
"How about tomorrow. Is that soon enough for you?"
He nodded again and hugged John. David and John showed him other farm animals like sheep and chickens and the one pig that David had. Jade liked the other animals but most enjoyed the horses. He went back to Tranquil moon's stall and just looked at the magnificent animal. Her mane was long and well groomed the color of a star. the rest of her body was a beautiful, moon beam white. They soon heard John's mother call for diner and they left the barn. Jade said goodbye to the horse as they left. "See you tomorrow."
They entered the house as everyone was sitting down at the table. It was what was on the table that Jade and John found enticing though. There was a large roast garnished with onions and potatoes. In smaller dishes around the roast there were green beans, corn-on-the-cobb, a light gravy, and some mashed potatoes for those who didn't want the whole ones in the roast. There were two large pans, one held rolls the other homemade buttermilk biscuits. John sat Jade at the smaller table off to one side with Jessie Ann John took his place beside Delenn and the blessing was said and then the group began to eat. Diner was not as loud as Jade would have expected after the welcome. He ate what he was given and then went to stand near Delenn. After she finished her meal she pulled Jade onto her lap. He sat there listening to her and John talk with their family until the last person could eat no more. Then Delenn and John's mother and sister began to clean off the table.
Delenn insisted on helping. Long years ago it had surprised Ellen Sheridan that an ambassador would insist on helping to clear away dirty dishes and left over food, but Delenn did and they had learned to accept it. John took Jade into the living room to sit and talk with his father, brother-in-law, nephews, and Jessie Ann.
"So, how's David doing?" Matt asked.
"Fine he sends his love and regards. He wishes he could be here, but training is his top priority."
"I can understand that, you used to put your studies before everything, even sleep."
"That's not true."
"Oh really, I seem to remember standing outside in the middle of the night-before your exit exam from high school, and spraying a water hose onto the roof so you would fall asleep at your desk."
John chuckled, "I'd forgotten about that time. I told Delenn of the time before my exams in the Academy, when I couldn't sleep and you sprayed the roof to help me. That was the time on the WhiteStar when she made it rain. When we came into Earth space near Jupiter, the shadows had a ship on Ganymede. I was tired and thinking of my family and how long it was going to be before I would see them again. We had just broken away from Earth. She gave a command to the ship's computer and it rained, or at least it sounded like it."
"What about the little guy? What's his story?"
"Well, Jade's story is a long one, and I am not going to talk about things that will bring up bad memories for him. Maybe some other time. How about yourself Stevie, aren't you about to become a father. I mean, where is Cyndi?"
"She decided to stay and take care of her mother. Maxine became ill about two weeks before we decided to come, and she hadn't gotten better by the time we began to pack so Cyn decided she better stay just in case Max needed anything."
John nodded in understanding. "How long 'til the baby comes anyway?"
"Three more months."
"Did you two find out what it was going to be?"
"Nah, we didn't want to ruin any surprises. We just decided to use a lot of neutral colors on the nursery."
David sitting near John noticed that Jade looked a little jumpy. "Hey, John, have you given Jade the tour of the house yet?"
"No not yet, why?"
"Well there are certain rooms one needs to know about. Like the bathrooms, and the bedroom where he'll be sleeping things like that."
John looked down at Jade and noticed the tension as well, he wondered where the tension had come from, but dismissed it. Jade didn't exactly need a good reason to be jumpy. "I guess I better do that then. We wouldn't want you stumbling around later on trying to find a bathroom. Come on."
Jade stood quickly and he and John ascended the stairs to the second floor.
"This is my old room Jade." John opened a door on the left side of a long hallway. He let Jade enter first and then followed.
"Nice. I never had a room like this one." The room was filled with things interesting to a boy, as well as things interesting to a young man, and then things for an officer in training. There were bookshelves lining one wall. The books stocked therein ranged from The Nursery Rhymes of The Brothers Grimm to The Jungle Book by Kipling to Hamlet and other works of Shakespeare.
"So why were you nervous down there?"
Jade only shrugged and walked around the room looking at the things John had collected over the span of his life. "I don't know. I guess I just started to think about everything when he asked. You may as well have told them some of it. I was thinking about it anyway."
"I'm sorry Jade I should have called ahead and warned them not to ask about it."
"That's okay John. Its not your fault that I was hurt." John sat in silence for a bit, and Jade continued to wander around the room. Every now and then he'd pick up an item and study it then put it meticulously back where he'd gotten it. "What's this?" He asked when he came to John's baseball collection.
"That is my collection of all things baseball. I have balls signed by some of the greats. Muller, DeSalle, even one dating back to the nineteen hundreds. It was signed by both Mark Maguire and Sammy Sosa. They had a battle to make the most homeruns in a season. I have caps I got from games I went to as a kid, and caps from my school teams. Here," he said lifting a cap that had the name Trojans embroidered on the front, "I want you to have this one. It was my high school team cap." John placed the cap on Jade's head. "There now you look like a ball player."
"Thanks John." Jade smiled up at him. "You know, John, I like your dad. He's nice." "I told you that you would. Come on lets get back. Delenn and the others should be finished with the dishes by now." Jade nodded. He and John made their way back into the living room.
Sure enough Delenn and Liz and Ellen sat with the others. Jade went to Delenn and showed her the hat. "Look at what John gave me." She smiled and made a show of the gift being a big deal. She knew that to Jade it was a big deal. He'd never been given anything in his life; nothing like this anyway. "Its lovely Jade." He climbed up onto the couch next to her, and John scooted them both over so that he could sit on the end with Delenn between them.
They sat talking a long time. Jade fell asleep, his head pillowed on Delenn's lap with his legs spread out to the arm of the couch. When Ellen noticed the child sleeping she said, "You can put him in Lizzie's old room that's where Jessie Ann is sleeping."
"No that's all right Jade will stay with us. Thank you for the offer though."
"Nonsense, you two need time alone. He'll just have to deal with it."
"Not at this point he won't, Mom. Jade is a special case and he needs Delenn's presence to sleep. We have tried putting him in a different room before it just doesn't work."
"For heaven's sake why not. He's a child like any other."
"No he is not like other children." Delenn's voice held no anger only a great sadness. This peaked Ellen Sheridan's interest.
"Why won't you tell us about our newest member of the family?"
"Because his story is very sad, and very brutal, and none of you need the whole story. Lets just leave it that he has severe nightmares if Delenn is not in the room with him."
"Well I still don't see why you can't or won't tell us the whole story."
"That's because for you to understand I'd have to tell you all the horrors he's had to live through, and you don't need that on your minds."
"All right, we'll leave it alone." David said in a tone that told his wife to drop it.
"I think its time to head to the bed." Liz said from the other couch where she sat with Dan and Jessie Ann. Jessie Ann was asleep in her father's arms.
They all headed upstairs to bed.
Delenn entered their room and settled Jade on his pallet beside the bed. She noticed that he still wore the baseball cap. She eased it off his head and set it beside him. He sighed in his sleep and rolled over to place his hand on it. She smiled down at him and readied herself for bed. She then crawled into the bed next to John. She snuggled up close to him relishing in the feel of just the two of them in the bed though she'd already become used to Jade's small form between them.
John felt her sidle closer and put an arm around her. They fell asleep listening to Jade's even untroubled breathing.
Jade opened his eyes to a darkened room. Surrounding him were men and women dressed in black. He looked on wide eyed as one of them moved closer with an instrument until she passed out of his field of view behind him. Then he felt someone enter his mind and there was a flash of pain. He screamed. Then someone hit him in the stomach to silence him. He doubled over in pain, and noticed that he was on an inclined table with straps around his legs to hold him in place. Something small and hard whipped him across the back and he opened his eyes once more.
Father was beating him again. He felt every blow land with a crunch. He felt the blood flow freely out of the cuts. He screamed again and again.
Delenn woke to Jade's whimpers. She sat up in bed and swung her feet over the side, slid off the bed to sit near him. She reached out to rub his back soothingly. Then he screamed. It was a shrill and despondent scream. She lightly shook him awake, and held him to her as he fought to get free. After a few seconds Jade woke enough to realize where he was and sagged in her arms sobbing bitterly. She stood and walked to the door grabbing her robe off of the bed as she did so.
"What's wrong?" John asked drowsily.
"I am going down stairs to get Jade a glass of warm milk, and rock him back to sleep. Don't worry we'll be fine go back to sleep yourself."
"Okay. Love you."
"Love you too." She put the robe on by alternating Jade from one arm to the other. Then she descended into the kitchen. Once the milk was done, and Jade had drank some of it, she took him into the den to rock him. She found David sitting near the fireplace reading with a small light.
"Everything all right, Delenn?" He asked looking up.
"Yes, fine, Jade had a nightmare and I wanted to rock him back to sleep."
"Oh, I understand."
"Do not let us bother you."
He smiled and went back to his reading.
Delenn sat in the rocker across from him and began a lullaby in Minbari. Jade snuggled in her lap and listened for a few minutes sipping the rest of the milk. When Delenn finished Jade asked, "what does it mean?"
"What, little one?"
"It is a lullaby that Valen sang to his children long ago, of battles that happened in the future. Of a dark haired blue eyed woman that was as strong as the ground they walked on, yet as fragile as a crystal. Of a man blue eyed and balding, who with their friendship saved his life. Of alien races and kind words and battles between life and death and light and dark, and of a love strong enough to mend time. I will teach you Minbari someday so that you may understand it. For it is forbidden to sing it in any other language."
"Okay." He sighed shakily.
"Are you still thinking of the dream Jade?" He nodded. "Do you want to talk about it." He lowered his eyes for a moment then looked back to hers, and shook his head slowly, no.
"I want them to go away. I want to forget him. But, I can't, can I?"
"No sweet one you can not. For if you forget it you may repeat it."
"Not that ever. I would never do that."
"I know you wouldn't, my love."
Jade clasped his arms around her, and held on tightly. She began rocking again, and soon his breathing was deep and even.
"What was he talking about?" whispered David.
"Things that have happened to him, and things he has seen."
"John already explained why we will not tell you. If it makes you feel better even David does not know. Jade doesn't need the reminder of those things, and if all of you knew you would want to comfort him. By doing so you would be making him dwell on those bad things. John and I are finding it hard not to do just that. He just needs a safe stable environment now."
David nodded resigned. "Okay, we won't pressure you any more. Remember though that if there is anything that you need to talk about we are here to listen and not to pass judgement."
"We know, and we don't feel that you would judge, either him nor us for these things. We only wish to spare you from the pain these atrocities would bring."
David nodded and went back to his book as Delenn went back to bed. She lay down with her back to John and spooned around Jade. She soon slept peacefully.
Jade awoke the next morning and found that John and Delenn both still slept. He decided he didn't want to waken them yet. So, he dressed himself quietly and left the room. He intended to go back out to the barn to see Tranquil Moon. He got only as far as the kitchen though. Liz was sitting at the table reading a newspaper and drinking coffee.
He stopped dead in his tracks. To Liz he looked like a trapped animal. "Its okay, I just wanted to say hi." His eyes flicked back to the stairs and then to the table she sat at. He nodded and went on his way.
He entered the stable and crossed to Tranquil Moon's stall. "Good morning Tranquil Moon. Can I ride you today? John said that horses were for riding. I never rode one before though. Will you teach me how to ride you?" The horse whinnied and trotted over shaking its head like it understood him. He reached out to pet her and smiled as she leaned against his hand. He scratched her shoulder. "I better get back before Delenn wakes up and worries. See you later." He exited the barn and reentered the house. In addition to Liz, Ellen and David and John were sitting around the table all drinking coffee.
He whispered, "Morning John."
Then came to stand near at hand. John lifted him onto his lap and asked, "How's Tranquil Moon?"
"She said she was okay this morning, and that she would teach me how to ride her."
"Well I told Delenn that as soon as you and I had eaten breakfast we were going riding and not to expect us back for quite a while." John decided not to comment on Jade's statement. Jade smiled at this and hugged John.
"I'm not that hungry John."
John chuckled and said, "You should eat anyway we'll be gone most of the day. I'll pack us a lunch while you grab a bite."
Jade watched John saddle the horses. Once he finished John tied the second horse to Tranquil Moon's saddle. Then he helped Jade to mount up and then climbed up behind him. John took the reins and got them moving out of the barn and into the pasture behind. He lightly kicked and the horse began to canter. John headed for a line of trees off to the left of the house.
"Where are we going?"
"Well, right now, I'm gonna take you and show you the stream that runs across Dad's land. Later we'll circle around the house and come up on the pond Danny and Dad and the boys are going fishing later."
"I'll show you later buddy. Right now lets concentrate on teaching you how to ride. Now, take the reins--" John showed Jade how to get the horse to move and how to get her to stop. Then he got off Tranquil Moon and mounted his own steed. His was a large grey horse with dark spots. "Follow me champ."
Jade watched John for a moment then got moving and followed John. John showed him the stream and they stopped in the shade to eat lunch. "Are you having fun Jade?"
"Yeah lots of fun. I like riding horses with you." He answered around a mouthful of tuna fish sandwich. They finished and lounged under the shade for a minute.
"Are you ready to get back to the house and learn to fish?"
"Yep. Sure." They mounted up and headed back toward the house.
They neared the lake and heard laughter and talking.
"Follow me Jade." John then headed toward the lake. They topped a rise, and below them was the sparkling water of the lake. Really it was too small to be a lake, but it was too large to be a pond or a tank, so they called it a lake. On the near bank stood Dan, Stevie and Matt, and lounging in a chair was David. A little farther down, a small dock went out into the water. Sitting on the end of the dock were Delenn, Liz, Ellen and Jessie Ann. Delenn had her shoes off and her feet in the water, as did the other women. Jessie Ann was laying on her stomach, and had her hands in the water.
Delenn looked back and waved. Jade waved back and John led them down to the water. "Have you guys caught any yet?"
"Yeah Grampa caught a big bass." Matt informed. "Dad, got a catfish, and we haven't even gotten a bite yet."
"Where are they?" Danny indicated a line anchored not far away leading into the water.
"Come here, Jade." John led him over and pulled the line in. On it were two fish.
"Wow. That's a fish?"
"Yep, that one is a bass." He showed Jade the large mouthed fish, "And this one is a catfish."
Jades eye brows came together in a frown. "Why is it called a catfish, John?"
John laughed. "Because of the whiskers on its face. They make it look like a cat."
John chuckled again. "Come on, lets get you set up here."
He re-anchored the line and grabbed the extra pole that David had brought. "Now at first I'll just help you and teach you. If you like it I'll let you take over and I'll go to the house and get my own pole."
Jade was a quick learner, John would give him that. Within about twenty minutes, Jade looked like a master fisherman. He'd caught two bass and countless pirch, (for twenty minutes worth of fishing). "You're doing great buddy. Are you having fun still?"
Matt uttered, "Great he's putting us to shame."
"I'll agree with that. Hey, Matt, lets go for a swim."
They pulled their shirts over their heads and dove in. "Wooo hooooo!!!!!"
"Its freezing, but it feels good."
"You guys. You're going to scare the fish."
"So he's catching them all anyway. This is fun."
Resigned Dan stripped his own shirt off and joined them.
David looked annoyed, "Dern kids, always ruining a good fishing trip." He shook his head in mock disgust. "Oh well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." He followed his son-in-law and grandsons into the water.
"Why'd they do that John?"
"I think they are jealous of your beginner's luck." John hit on an idea. "Would you like to go swimming?"
"I don't know how John."
"That's okay I'll go back to the house and get some trunks for us, and then I'll teach you how." Jade nodded vigorously. "Okay then I'll be right back."
"Can I go in now? It looks fun." He looked to the ground as if waiting for punishment. John lifted his face, and smiled.
"Of course you can, but stay close to the shore. It will get deep."
"HEY, DELENN," she looked up from her conversation with Liz, "I'M GOING UP TO THE HOUSE FOR A BIT. BE RIGHT BACK, OKAY.
David also yelled from a ways out in the water, "TAKE THE HORSES."
John departed with the horses. Jade removed his shoes and socks, and walked a little ways out into the water. Moments later Jessie Ann splashed past on her way toward her father. "Daddy, catch me."
"Jessie Ann get out of the water. You were sick with fever two days ago I don't want you to get sick again."
"But Daddy why?" Her eight year old voice held disappointment.
"Because I'm the father and you do what I say!"
From behind him Jade heard, "Because I'm the father and you do what I say."
He froze for an instant of a second and then splashed his way to shore and headed for the house.
"Oh, Damn!!! Not again!"
Liz was taken aback for a second. "What?"
"Something has frightened him. Excuse me."
"Who?" But as she turned she saw the small form running away from the water, in the direction of the house. Delenn ran down the dock after Jade.
Jade ran as fast as his legs would go. He had to find a place to hide a safe place. He ran for the barn.
Delenn hadn't caught up to him by the time she reached the house. He was no where in sight as she rounded a corner. She entered the house, "John, John--"
"What!?" He came running down the stairs.
"Something frightened Jade; he took off and I couldn't catch him. Is he with you?"
"No I haven't seen him."
"We have to find him, John. Bester is still looking for him."
"Don't worry we'll find him, and Bester can't get anywhere near here neither can his operatives." She seemed to calm a little, but not much.
"You look around in here, and I'll go look around outside."
"All right." She walked off calling out to Jade.
John went outside and circled the house calling for the boy. "Jade come on, where are you?"
Ellen and Liz ran up, "Where is he?"
"I don't know, Delenn couldn't catch him. She is inside looking for him."
"Can we help?"
"Yeah, but if you find him call me or Delenn. Do not approach him." His voice held an edge that startled both women.
"You could make him panic, and run again. Just find one of us."
"No need," Stevie walked up, "I saw him take off and followed. He's in the barn." John started that way, "Uncle John, he's in the stall with Moon. You won't be able to get to him. I tried and nearly got trampled."
"What, what do you mean?"
"Its like she's protecting him or something. As soon as I got near the gate she went nuts. Kicking the gate and rearing back on her hind legs and making an awful racket. I never heard a horse make that noise."
Now John was running to the barn, and to Tranquil Moon's stall. When he walked up to the gate it was exactly as Stevie had said. John backed off a little and the horse quieted. He peered into the stall, and could just make out Jade in the farthest corner. He was crouched in a ball and shivering violently.
Stevie had followed him in and John motioned him over closer. He whispered in Stevie's ear, "Go get Delenn. Tell her that Jade's here and that we need her to talk him out again. Go, fast." Stevie bolted for the house.
Delenn entered the barn, "Where is he, John?"
"He's in the stall with Tranquil Moon." She moved toward the stall. When she neared the gate the horse screamed and reared back to paw the air with her front hooves. John grimaced, "I should have warned you, but I really had hoped she wouldn't do that. Damn it!"
"Let me talk to him John. It will be all right."
Jade hunched in the corner of the stall. His mind was in a frenzy. The confusion and fear was so overpowering that he didn't, at first, hear Delenn speaking to him. "What happened, Jade? Tell me, little one, please let John and I help you." He curled tighter in a ball and stared at the wall.
"It's not working; why? He seems more frightened now than he did the night I talked him out of the vent."
"I don't know Delenn. I'll go talk to everyone maybe they noticed something. Stay with him, and keep talking to him, maybe he'll calm enough that the horses won't pick up on his fear, and we can get to him."
Jade shivered, and instinctually sent out his distress as he had when Delenn had been taken.
John rushed out of the barn intending to head for the house. He didn't have to go far the whole family stood a few feet from the barn door. Dan and David and the boys were still dripping from their swim.
David stepped closer, "What's going on, John?"
"Jade is frightened, it happens. Look I need to ask you all to tell me what happened back there. If any of you noticed anything that might have scared him."
A chorus of no's sounded. John shook his head. "Damn. Okay then I'll need you to tell me everything that happened from the moment I left to the moment he took off."
Dan began, "Well, he was wading around near the shore, and then Jessie came out to me. She was sick a couple of days ago, and I didn't want to risk her getting chilled enough to catch a fever again. I told her to leave the water, and she put up the normal why's and pleases. I told her that she was to do it because I was her father and she did what I told her to. Then--"
"Shit!!! That's enough, thanks." He turned as Delenn walked out.
"John, when you left I picked up something from his mind. He let me see just a bit, but it was enough. He's distressed and calling for Susan."
"Great. If he can send that far and she can hear it she will be able to get him out of there by this evening. I don't doubt that she will take the first available shuttle to get here fast."
"Yes, but can he send that far."
"I wouldn't put it past him. I mean, you saw what he did to Lyta." She nodded hopefully. "What will we do if he can not though?"
"Go call Susan, and tell her we've had a problem with him. That he's calling for her. That should take care of it." Delenn took off for the house.
"John," David's voice was stern and filled with apprehension and anger, "What the hell is going on here?" The last was asked with slow and measured grace, that it was apparent he did not posses at the time.
John sighed resigned. "Okay, I'll tell the adults only what has happened. Guys," he indicated Stevie and Matt, "take Jessie Ann inside and keep her there. And tell Delenn to stay inside for a bit too."
Both nodded; even though they were adults they knew by the look on John's face that he didn't want them to hear this for their own peace of mind. Matt lifted Jessie Ann, and they trotted off to the house.
"This is the extremely short version because I don't want to leave him in there alone for too long. I am also leaving out the effects of the actions committed against him." He got nods from all and continued. "Jade was captured with his family when he was three. The men who had them brutally murdered his entire family. Parents, a younger sibling, grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles I mean the entire family. They made him watch as they were killed. Then the man that led them kidnapped Jade. This man, who has been amply punished, was not a nice man. He beat Jade for any reason that he felt was justifiable. It didn't matter what Jade had done. He made Jade call him father. That is why he ran from the lake. The day Delenn found him he was so frightened that she had to coax him out of an air shaft. And this I will tell you, he was covered with blood, his eyes were swollen shut, there were bruises old and new intermingled on his body. All of his body, there were thin lines that were still more welts than bruises, his leg was broken, his ribs were broken, he kept his eyes averted and wouldn't look anyone in the face, he would go into hysterics if anyone but Delenn approached him, it was the most horrible thing I have ever seen. We got him cleaned up and comfortable. We didn't know that the man claiming to be the father was the one who'd done that.
We found out the next morning though. Delenn had stayed with Jade the entire night, and he was getting ready to sleep again after his midday meal when that son-of-a-bitch walked in, and Jade, still drugged mind you, leapt off the bed to get away. He fell when he tried to run in the cast. When he hit the low scanner it snapped another rib and that in turn ripped into a lung. Jade was in surgery for six of the longest hours of my life. When he woke up Delenn wasn't there yet and he didn't like being alone with Doctor Franklin or myself. I called her and when she got there and had calmed him we figured everything was okay. Then Bester scanned him, and Jade freaked. He was afraid to block it, but he was afraid to let it happen. Lyta had to assure him it was all right because Delenn couldn't understand the telepathic aspect at work. We knocked Bester on his ass and killed his intention to take Jade to what is left of the Corps. We thought that everything would get better after all that, but we learn things almost daily that are just as horrible.
Today for instance: he didn't know what a fish was let alone how to fish, he doesn't know what baseball is. What six year old doesn't know what fishing and baseball are?" John was near to tears. "But we don't let these things overpower us. Delenn and I just want to show him how happy life is. And if we have to deal with grievous things like this all the better. Then we can let him know about things that he doesn't need to worry about anymore. And there are times that I want Bishop to still be alive so that I could beat him to a pulp for the things he's caused. There are days that we feel that we've made so much progress, and then something like this happens and we've lost ten miles for every foot that we gained." He was overcome and couldn't speak any longer. Then he felt Delenn's arms encircle him.
"But we still do not give up, I believe that having Jade in our life is a blessing. It gives us a chance to give love that would be wasted were he not here."
"Come John. Let us go sit near him until Susan and Marcus arrive. It appears that my fears were for naught. She left Earthdome at approximately the same time that Jade bolted from the water here." They walked away from the four silent, stunned members of the Sheridan family.
Susan sat fidgeting in the passenger seat of the shuttle she had commandeered. Marcus had insisted on piloting. She saw the shoreline of North America ahead finally. "Hurry Marcus, Jade needs me."
John heard the shuttle land outside, and bolted for the sound. He met Susan halfway. She was running full tilt toward the barn. "What happened?"
"Dan was disciplining Jessie Ann and he said something that set Jade off. He won't let us get to him, and Delenn said she heard him briefly call out to you."
"He was calling me. Lead the way."
John led her into the barn and showed her which stall he was in. She stepped up to the gate, "Jade? Will you talk to me? Jade? I wan- -"
Jade bounded around Tranquil Moon and climbed the gate until Susan reached out and pulled him to her. "Its okay Dushenke. He's gone remember. He can't hurt you again."
"I heard him!" The small voice was panicked.
"No sweetie, it wasn't him he is dead, he can't be here."
"No! I heard him! He said that he was father, and I had to do it! I heard him Susan, I did!!!"
"NO! Jade, Bishop will never hurt you again. He no longer exists in this life. You need to understand that. He is gone now."
Jade cried now, "But I heard him say it again."
John's eyes lit with inspiration. "I understand now. He said that to you before didn't he Jade."
Jade nodded into Susan's shoulder, "He told me that. And he hurt me John. I don't want him to hurt me again."
"He won't Jade. It wasn't him. Dan was telling Jessie to get out of the water so she wouldn't get sick. All parents say that sometimes."
"Don't say it! Please no more!" He was still hysterical.
John sighed. "Do you think it would make you feel better if we went inside?"
"Is Susan coming?"
"Yes, Jade I'll stay for a while."
Marcus walked up as they left the barn. "How's the little chap doing?"
"Still scared, but at least he came out."
They walked to the house. Jade, still in Susan's arms, had reached out for, and now held onto Delenn's hand with one of his own. The other arm was still wrapped around Susan's neck. As they entered Dan came up, "I'm really sorry for scaring you Jade. I feel awful about it."
"Its okay Danny." John said, "No one knew it would happen. We don't know what might set him off. It could have been any of us. Both Delenn and I have had this happen before after we said or did the wrong thing. He just needs a little quality time alone with Susan and Delenn, then he'll be good as new."
Susan and Delenn passed by and went up to John's old room. Jade gripped Delenn's hand until they entered. He let her go and clutched Susan more tightly.
"Its okay Dushenke. You are very safe here. Delenn won't let anything happen to you, and neither would John. Neither would Marcus or I. I promise you."
"I know, but I can't help it." His voice was small and constricted with guarded emotion. "I don't like being scared all the time, but I don't know how not to be." The last word came as a strained moan. Then Jade noticed the tears on Susan's face, and he couldn't hold in the emotion any longer. He keened long low sobs. Delenn sat near them and the two women enfolded him in a supportive hug. They all cried for a while and finally Jade quieted.
"Better now?" Delenn asked.
"Not really. I'm sick of crying. I hate it."
"I know how you feel, Dushenke, I was the same way for a long time, but it is good to cry and get the hurt out. If you keep it inside it will kill you."
He took a deep breath and seemed to consider it. "I guess you're probably right." Jade yawned, and before long he had climbed off Susan's lap to lie between them, his head pillowed on Susan's leg and holding Delenn's robe. The two sat in silence for a bit, and then Delenn stood gently removing Jade's hand from her robe.
"I need to assure John that he will be okay now. You don't have to stay if you don't want to he'll sleep for a while now."
"That's okay I want to. You guys are going back to Minbar in a few days right." She got a nod, "I want to spend as much time as I can with him then, even if he's asleep. There's no telling when I'll get another chance after you leave. Speaking of which I'd like to set up a schedule for him to come and visit every once in a while. If you don't mind it." She looked down at Jade with a mother's compassion in her eyes. Delenn knew how she felt. She suspected her own face had held that expression more than once since Jade came into her life.
"Of course I don't mind. I will tell John not to disturb you. He shouldn't sleep for more that an hour. If he does wake him so that he will sleep later." Susan nodded, and Delenn left the room closing the door as she did.
As she entered the sitting room she heard Marcus speaking with John and his family. John seemed to be trying to explain things between Susan and Marcus to Liz and Ellen. The guys, as John called them, were more interested in the tales of Marcus' adventures.
John looked up questioningly. "He's sleeping. Susan wants to stay with him."
"Okay, good." He motioned her over and she sat beside him. He put an arm around her and held her close. He held her as much to comfort her as to comfort himself. She leaned against him and listened to Marcus speak of his travels.
Susan watched the small face relax in slumber. She realized that this was the only time she had actually seen him relax. That fact saddened her. She wondered if he would ever truly know happiness. She suspected not because of the things that he'd been through. She didn't know what those exact feelings were, but she knew how hard he'd have things from her own experiences. She had lost loved ones and been betrayed. She hadn't seen anyone die like Jade had, except for Marcus, and Jade had returned him to her. She was grateful to him for that, and yet a small part of her wished that he'd connected with her that first day. She didn't begrudge Delenn any of this child's trust or love, but she did envy it. She would almost give Marcus for what Delenn had shared with him. She felt love for Jade that she had never even hoped to feel for a child. She had wanted children, but after Marcus, it hadn't seemed right to have a child with anyone else. She loved Marcus with all her being, and she loved Jade as much as she did Marcus. She wondered why Jade had called to her today. It had taken her by surprise to get that calling. He should have turned to Delenn, but he hadn't he'd held Delenn at bay until she had gotten there. It puzzled her even more that she hadn't had to work on getting Jade to come out. It was at that moment that she realized that she did have that same trust that Jade shared with Delenn. He had shown her that by calling to her.
Jade shivered and groaned holding more tightly to her. Absently she stroked his hair to soothe him, and began softly singing a Russian lullaby that her mother had sung to calm her after a nightmare. She had an insight that he needed her as much as he needed Delenn and John.
Delenn and John walked in the peaceful afternoon breeze. Jade had been asleep for half an hour, and they had seized the opportunity to spend some time alone. They spoke little, and when they did it was of little concern. John had decided that for this time they would not worry about Jade or anything else. They would simply be together. He had his arms around her as they walked the trail down by the river. She leaned into him intimately. To an onlooker they were just a couple out for a stroll. They weren't the President of the Interstellar Alliance, or the Entil'Zha of the Anla'shok. They were two regular people in love and enjoying each other's company. Eventually they settled in the shade of a giant oak and spoke of their love for each other, and before long things in the world centered on their pleasure alone.
Jade woke an hour and a half after John and Delenn left on their walk. They still had not returned. He awoke with his head pillowed on Susan's lap and his hands gripping her uniform; he noticed the crinkles his grip had created and let go to smooth them.
Susan had been dozing lightly and at his movement she opened her eyes careful not to move to suddenly so she wouldn't scare him. "Hi there. How do you feel?"
"Not scared anymore." His voice was small.
"You don't need to be embarrassed, Dushenke, we understand. Just be happy."
"Okay," he tilted his head and studied her face. "Susan, what does du, du,"
"Yeah, what does that mean?"
"It means, little soul. My father used to call me that when I was a little girl." She saw him cringe at her use of the word father. "Not all fathers hurt children Jade. In fact I bet if you thought really hard you would remember your own father and how he was with you."
He concurred, "Yes, I member him. But father he got mad when I thought about him. I don't want another one ever."
"But what about John. I know that he wants to be your father, and to show you that a father is a good thing."
He thought that over for a bit, "John can be my f f f f father," he stumbled over the word, "but I don't want to ever call him that."
"You could call him dad. I'm sure he won't mind. I bet he'd be thrilled."
"I hope so." He looked solemn for a moment as if gathering his resolve, "But I don't know what to call Delenn. I mean I want her to be my mother, but I want you to be my mother too. I don't know what to do about that. I want both of you to be my mother. But I don't want to hurt either of you by calling the other mother."
Susan was overcome for a moment. She had to blink back the tears of joy that threatened to spill down. "Well, I don't know for sure, but I doubt that Delenn would have a problem if you called us both mother. Maybe you could just use different forms of the word for both of us. You could call one of us mother and the other mom or mama or something like that."
"That would be okay, but I think that it would feel too funny."
"You could call her mother, and have some other name to call me. Some special name. I know, how about Susochke. My family and close friends called me that."
Jade's face lit up at the suggestion. He nodded, "I like that name. Susochke. It sounds pretty. Like you." He was trying it out.
"I like to hear you call me that. Its been a long time since anyone has been close enough to me to use that name."
"My mama died when I was a little girl, and my brother was killed in the Earth Minbari War. My papa died in 2257. That was right after I started working on Babylon 5."
Jade's eyes had filled with tears as she spoke, and now they ran freely down his small face. "I'm so sorry, Susochke, I know how it is to not have a mama, or a daddy, or a little sister any more."
"Oh don't you be sorry. I loved them very much, yes, but they will never be gone. Not as long as they are in my heart. And neither will yours as long as you remember them."
"Yeah I guess so." Susan let out an amused sigh at his tone. "Come on, lets go find your mama and papa."
"Okay, but do you think that John and Delenn really want me to call them mama and papa."
"I know for a fact that they'd like nothing more than just that."
"Okay." She stood and lifted him off the bed, and they descended into the sitting room.
Marcus sat with David, Dan, Liz, Ellen and Jessie Ann they were talking of the recent elections and the changes that had occurred in the past few months within the governments. David noticed them first since the rest either had their backs to the stairs or were sitting sideways to it. "Hey there," he addressed them, "come join us." Susan walked over and sat near Marcus. "How are you young man?" David asked.
"Okay." His voice was barely a whisper.
"Jade what did I say upstairs. Don't be embarrassed, we all understand."
He nodded, but Susan got the feeling that Jade wasn't so much embarrassed as apprehensive. He wasn't quite comfortable around John's family.
Marcus took the focus off of Jade's apprehension by asking him how he'd been enjoying his stay.
"I like it." He lost his fear when speaking to Marcus. To Susan it was no surprise, but to the rest, who'd assumed that Jade hadn't met Marcus before, it was unexpected. "John taught me to ride a horse, and to fish and he was gonna teach me to swim, but I got scared."
"Well, I'm sure that there'll be time to learn to swim tomorrow. They went for a walk by the way. I noticed that you were looking for them."
Liz shook her head, "Do you two know each other?"
"Yes, I should say so." Marcus tone was light and conversational. "Little chap saved my life, I guess you could say. Why don't you tell them how young man." He lifted Jade off of Susan's lap and placed him on his own.
"Okay Marcus." Jade started reserved to tell them how he'd brought Marcus out of the coma. His voice gained strength as he moved on though the story, and Susan was amazed that her fiance could be so subtle. He'd gotten Jade to open up a little and that was all that he needed. She knew that now he would have little fear of these people who had become his family.
John and Delenn returned a short time later. As they approached the house they heard laughter. John opened and held the door for Delenn. She went in and he followed; they entered into the sitting room and heard Jade's soft voice telling a story. They stood a the back of the room as he was finishing the story. He began describing a building made of crystal, and surrounded by waterfalls on all sides. Delenn and John instantly knew which building he was speaking of. Jade finished the story with his boarding a passenger shuttle, and taking off. Then he noticed John and Delenn standing behind Liz and Danny.
"Hi mama! Hi Dad!" He said, his face alight with joy at seeing them.
Delenn sighed, 'Finally, he realizes he is our son.' She threw her arms around him as he stepped over to her. She looked behind her at John and saw tears on his face. He wrapped them both in a hug.
"Hey there, sport, feel better?"
"Mmm hmm. I was telling Aunt Lizzie and Grandma, an' Grandpa an' Susochke an' Marcus an' Uncle Danny about the world I saw before I went to Babylon 5. The one that has the pretty building on it."
"I heard, I know that building very well. It is one of my favorite sights at home on Minbar." They both chose not to make a big deal of Jade acknowledging his family as family. Just happy that he had.
For the next few days Jade became more and more comfortable with his new family. Susan and Delenn and John sat down and discussed a schedule for Jade to spend time with Susan and Marcus throughout the years. John taught Jade to swim and play Baseball. Things still were not easy and they had to coax him out of the stables twice more before they went home to Minbar a week later.
As the shuttle landed near the Alliance offices Jade sat in Delenn's lap and looked out the windows in wide eyed wonder. "Look there is the building I told you about." He pointed to the Temple of Valen.
"Yes I will take you there in a few days and give you a tour if you would like." He smiled at her and nodded vigorously. "First, though, we must get you settled in at the house."
"Okay mommy." Delenn still hadn't gotten over the wonder of hearing him call her that, and hugged him to her planting a kiss on his cheek. He returned the favor. John came in from the cockpit and announced that landing would be occurring in five minutes so they all had better strap in. Jade climbed off of Delenn's lap into his seat and John helped him to strap in. John then settled himself next to Jade. Jade took hold of John's hand as they descended.
This next section is a collection of different scenes over the three years until John went beyond the rim. How things would have changed because of my story. That kind of thing. Enjoy.
Susan still sat at the front of the room. The atmosphere was despondent and filled with sorrowful undertones. Jade walked into the room and saw Susan. He walked quietly to her and stood in front of her. He noticed that her mind was elsewhere. He tilted his head to one side and looked at her with compassion filling his expression. He reached out and took her hand. "I'm sorry, Susochke, I did the best I could. I'm sorry."
She looked at him sharply. "For what Dushenke?"
"Because I didn't heal him good enough. I didn't know he would die so soon. I'm sorry."
She pulled him to her and looked him straight in the eye, "It is not your fault that he died Jade. You healed him perfectly. His body was just tired. Marcus would be upset with you if he were here. You shouldn't blame yourself for the twists of fate that come our way."
"But now you won't have anyone to be with all the time."
"That's okay Jade. I have mastered the art of living alone, and I will still have you coming to stay with me."
"Of course, I like coming to stay with you Susochke. I miss you when I'm on Minbar with mommy and dad. I wish I could see you all the time."
"I know you do, but I have to stay here, and you belong with your mama and papa."
"Yeah, come on Susochke lets leave its too sad in here."
"Yes it is," she stood and held out her hand to the seven year old, "lets head back to my house with everyone."
He took her hand and they left the room and all its sadness.
Nine year old Jade stood behind Susan as she told her secretary to cancel her appointments. After she had and the others had left she turned to him. She did not get the chance to speak as he said, "Its dad isn't it. He has to leave soon."
The grief in his voice about toppled her. "Come here love." He ran across the room to her and she gathered him in a comforting hug.
"I don't want him to leave Susochke."
"I know, I know. I don't want him to go either, but Delenn and I will still be here."
"But I want my daddy. Mom doesn't know how to play ball or fish or any of the things that dad and I do together. I don't want him to go." He sobbed onto her uniform shoulder.
She comforted him and held him close and finally he calmed. "Lets go pack my Dushenke. We will be going to Minbar on the WhiteStar as soon as we can get on board."
Jade sat in John's lap and listened to the stories being told. As he looked around at all the happiness and mirth he thought that he could almost forget that everyone was here to say goodbye to his father. Jade leaned back against John and closed his eyes against reality. He wanted to stay in this moment for the rest of his life. But alas, he was jostled as John shifted him to raise his glass in the toast.
Diner was over and Jade was sitting with the guys listening to them reminisce. He didn't notice Susan, standing in the door, turn and leave. Mr. Garibaldi was describing how his daughter had played a tennis match, and how much he loved being back with his family on Mars. Then Dad yawned and decided it was time to turn in for the evening. The two other men agreed and offered to take the Emperor to his room. John stood and lifted Jade into his arms. "How are you feeling Jade? You've been awfully quiet."
"I don't want you to go dad. Who'll take me fishing? Who'll I call father now? I don't want another father. I want you."
"I know Jade. I want to stay with you, but I can't stay." Jade's lower lip trembled and his eyes filled with tears.
"Please don't go dad." He whispered it.
"I wish we had more time. You're my little partner."
Jade hugged John tight, "You're my father. I'm not afraid of him anymore because you are my father. I love you dad."
"I love you too buddy. More than you know."
"Can I sleep with Susochke?" His voice was still strained. John wanted him to stay with Delenn and himself, but Jade needed to feel secure and at the moment Susan was the one he was depending on. So, John couldn't tell him no.
"Of course you can pal. Take good care of her for me. And take good care of your mom too."
"I will," his voice cracked in mid word, "I will take care of them. You take care of yourself 'cuz I'm gonna want to see you again sometime."
"I will and I'll check in on you sometimes."
Jade nodded, and hugged him again planting a kiss on his father's cheek. Susan walked past after they had let go of one another, and Jade ran to catch up with her. John watched the two of them. He feared that Jade was becoming too dependant on Susan. He feared that after he was gone Jade would spend more time with her than with Delenn. Delenn would need him. She would need a lot of things.
Jade sat at breakfast with the others. The atmosphere was subdued and thick with grief. He sat between Susochke and Mom. Closer to Mom. He felt that they needed each other now. She wasn't eating and didn't pretend to try, neither did Jade. He finally leaned over and lay his head in her lap and sobbed. Delenn let him grieve, and ran her hands through his hair while he cried. It seemed then that Everyone had been waiting for a sign to begin grieving. Susan leaned her head into her hands and let a long sigh escape before she began to cry. Garibaldi stopped eating and moved to comfort her, by taking hold of her hand across the table. Emperor Vir had silent tears streaming down his face, as did Dr. Franklin.
Jade slipped his arms around his mother and it was a long time before he stopped crying. When he did he asked, "Where did he go mom?"
"He wanted to feel the stars beneath him once more. I suspect he wanted to go and say goodbye to his station also."
"He won't be back will he?"
She shook her head slowly, "No my little love, he will not be coming home again. He is going to meet Valen."
This set Jade to crying again, and she held him until he finished. The only sounds in the room after that were the sniffles and muted sobs of grief.
A few weeks later Babylon 5 went off line. The sign off was the first time the group had been back together since John's passing. Jade stood with Susan Ivanova. He spent most of his time with her these days. Delenn had things to keep her busy with the Alliance Presidency, and didn't mind all that much. She was glad he spent the time with Susan instead of spending it all alone. They were closer since Susan had moved to Minbar. The three of them often ate their meals together. Jade took turns staying with each of them.
He stood near Susan now as they looked around the empty Zocalo for the last time. Delenn felt a rush of memories that had taken place here. She could see the same rush on the faces of the others. Susan lifted Jade from the floor and entered the lift. The others followed suit. Garibaldi, the first of them to enter the station, was the last to leave.
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