FROM NOW ON
By Lynne Levine
Dec. 7, 1996
Warning #1: This story is rated NC-17 for sexual situations. If you do not like stories with graphic depictions of sex, do not read this story. Don't say I didn't warn you!
Warning #2: This story contains spoilers for fourth season, especially episode 404, "Falling from Apotheosis".
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me, and I don't mean to infringe on copyrights held by Babylonian Productions or anyone else.
John Sheridan was in the middle of brushing his teeth when the doorbell to his quarters chimed. "Come in," he called through a mouth full of foamy toothpaste. He rinsed his mouth quickly and went to see who was calling on him at this late hour, bracing himself for whatever crisis he would undoubtedly have to face. Not that he could take much more. Earlier today he had lost Kosh for good, and had needed to be revived by Lorien once again. And he'd had to break the news to Delenn that he was living on borrowed time. John was beyond exhausted.
He relaxed, though, as soon as he saw his visitor. "Delenn," he breathed.
"I apologize for coming by so late."
"Please, don't apologize." He held out his hands to her. "I'm glad to see you, Delenn, especially right now. I don't like being away from you, even for a moment."
Her face lit up, and she glided into his arms. "I wasn't sure if tonight was a good time. You must be exhausted after today," she said, looking into his eyes. She wished she could look into those eyes forever, but now time was so short.... She swallowed a lump in her throat and forced a smile.
"Exhausted is an understatement," John agreed.
"Then you must sleep," Delenn told him. "And, as I recall, we have some unfinished business." At John's quizzical look, Delenn continued, "I have watched you sleep for one night. There are still two more to come."
"Does that first night count? We were interrupted." John shuddered, remembering the awful night that had heralded Anna's arrival, and he could see the pain in Delenn's eyes as she remembered too.
"Yes, John, that night counts. I *did* get to see you sleep, after all." She reached a hand out--the hand now wearing the engagement ring--and stroked his face, then pulled him in for a soft, gentle kiss. "Come, it is late. You must rest."
At Delenn's insistence, John finished preparing for bed, removing his shoes and pants but leaving on his underwear and long-sleeved t-shirt out of modesty. He climbed into bed. Delenn smoothed the covers up around him, then leaned over to kiss him again, a quick kiss on the forehead like a mother might kiss a child goodnight. "Lights out," she commanded, and the lights grew dim. As John closed his eyes, Delenn settled onto a corner of the bed to begin the long vigil through the night.
With Delenn's presence to soothe him, John fell asleep quickly and easily. Delenn smiled as she watched him. Such beauty, such honesty, even after all he'd been through. She'd been afraid she would see bitterness, hardness, even hatred on his true face. Yes, some of the innocence was gone but, incredibly, a little still remained. He had really returned! But she would lose him again. Twenty years would pass in the blink of an eye. And he might not even survive that long. How long did they really have? She stroked the blanket, its fine texture soft beneath her fingertips.
"John...my precious John...I cannot bear to lose you again," she whispered, her eyes filling. She watched as he breathed in and out, softly, rhythmically, proof that he was still alive. But for how long? Tears streamed down her cheeks, and she held herself around the waist as the pain filled her; she couldn't possibly survive losing him again. Delenn was careful not to cry out loud or make any quick motions. John needed his rest. But she could not stop the tears from coming, flowing so hard she felt as if she would drown in them.
And then John was awake, his arms around her. "What is it, Delenn," he asked as he pulled her close.
"Oh no, I have disturbed you. I'm so sorry," she managed between sobs.
"Shhh.. Don't be sorry." He pressed her close to him, and she sobbed into him. She felt him stroking her hair, rocking her gently. Slowly, Delenn relaxed, her tears slowing. At last she took a few deep breaths, forcing herself to calm.
"I just can't bear the thought of ever losing you again," she said, looking at him.
"Like I said earlier today, when I was at Z'ha'dum, you gave me a reason to live. The thought of never seeing you again..." He shook his head. "I can only imagine the pain you must have gone through thinking I was gone."
Delenn nodded, biting her lip to keep the tears from falling yet again.
"But I'm here now, Delenn. And we must appreciate every moment we have together from now on."
"I agree," Delenn said. She hugged him tightly, pressing her face against his chest again. His shirt was soaked with her tears. "This must be uncomfortable," she said, touching the front of the shirt.
John agreed, and pulled it over his head in one smooth motion, tossing the shirt across the room.
Delenn smiled at the sight of his bare chest. Clothed or unclothed, he was beautiful. "While you were away I came to a decision," she told him, a twinkle now appearing in her eyes.
"What sort of decision?" he asked with a smile of his own, putting his arms around her again as she sat in front of him on the bed.
"I realized that although my body had made the transition from Minbari to mostly human, I had continued to think of myself as Minbari. I decided that I need to become more human, to behave more like a human. Therefore, I think it is time for me to bend a few Minbari rules. I have watched you sleep -- at least for a little while -- for two nights now. And I think I have seen enough."
"I hope this means I've passed the test," John grinned.
In answer, Delenn reached for him, pulling him in for a kiss. Not just a quick kiss this time, a long slow kiss. She opened her mouth and slid her tongue over his, then felt a now familiar excitement come over her as he returned the kiss, deeply, insistently. She ran her fingers up the coarse texture of his face and into his short hair as she continued to kiss him, savoring his taste, his saliva, his warmth. She explored his lips, his teeth, the depths of his mouth, and delighted as he did the same.
When at last she came up for air, Delenn looked into John's eyes. "I don't want to waste any more time," she said. "Earlier today you said you didn't know if we would survive the next two weeks. There may be no time for human marriage rituals, for Minbari mating rituals. And if now is all we have...I want you now, John." Then, to make sure he understood her intentions completely, she added, "I want to consummate our relationship."
John looked at her for a moment, reflecting on what she had just said. "Are you sure, Delenn? Is this really what you want?"
"I have never been more sure of anything in all my life," Delenn answered, and John knew she was telling the truth.
"Under normal circumstances, I would wait. Make our wedding night special," John said. "But these are not normal circumstances."
"Our wedding night will still be special," Delenn insisted. "Every night we get to spend together will be special." She pulled him close for another embrace--if she didn't kiss him she was going to cry again.
And then his mouth was on hers, his hands on her face, in her hair, stroking the soft ridges of her crest, that last visible reminder that she wasn't wholly human. His hands moved down her neck to her back, gliding smoothly over her silk robe.
Delenn, meanwhile, was enjoying the warmth of his smooth skin as she ran her hands down his back. She moved her hands up over his shoulders and down his chest and marveled at the soft hair, and the contours of his musculature. Tears glistened in her eyes again as she wondered at the miracle that he was really with her, that she was really touching him.
"I love you, John," she whispered, allowing the tears to fall. John kissed her face, tasting her salty tears.
"I love you, too," John whispered in return, and Delenn was astonished to see tears in his eyes too. She touched a single tear that slid down his face, then took the finger holding the glistening tear and put it in her mouth. John smiled and took her hand, gently stroking her finger--still wet with her saliva--and put her finger in his mouth. She gasped, feeling the warmth of his mouth and his tongue as he took her finger deep into his mouth. Slowly, he lavished the same attention one by one on each of her fingers. Delenn had never imagined that fingers could provide such pleasure. After he finished paying such careful attention to her fingers, he caressed her small hands, kissing the backs and then the palms of her hands.
When he was done with her hands, he moved his attention up both her arms, the silk of her gown so smooth beneath his fingertips. From her shoulders, he slid his hands down to her belly and up again, his hands tentatively seeking her breasts, passing quickly over them at first, then giving them more attention as he felt the nipples harden beneath the fabric. Delenn's eyes were closed, her head tilted slightly back as she welcomed his touch. He rubbed fingertips over one nipple, then the other, and Delenn moaned softly.
"Help me undress," she said suddenly, opening her eyes. The intensity was becoming too much, too soon. She needed a brief diversion. They both stood. Delenn started undoing the first layer of cloth, her hands trembling slightly. John took both her hands in his for a moment, steadying her, then took over the task of undressing her. She stood very still, scarcely breathing. When he reached the last silk layer, the layer touching her skin, he removed it very slowly, reverently, as if he were unwrapping a precious gift. He smiled, a little flustered, as the robe came loose in his hand, then turned and draped it over a chair. Delenn now stood before him, nude. He reached out to touch her arms--a bit awkwardly--and felt her shiver.
"You'll be warmer in bed," he advised, taking a step back toward the bed. He held the blanket up for her, and she slid in beneath it. John climbed in next to her, and discreetly pulled his briefs off under the covers, tossing that last bit of clothing aside.
Delenn propped two pillows behind each of their heads. "Now, where were we?" she said with a smile as her mouth sought his once again. As they kissed, mouths open, tongues finding one another again, Delenn delighted at the new sensation of skin against skin. Then he was exploring her body again, only this time without fabric to get in the way. Delenn kept her eyes open, smiling as she watched him caress the sensitive insides of her arms, fingers moving slowly to her arm pits, her sides, her belly, and back up to the breasts where he paused to give them attention. He stroked one nipple with his fingers. Delenn moaned with delight as his mouth closed over the other nipple, licking and then sucking, pulling it into his mouth. She stroked his hair, ran her fingernails gently down his back, then lay still, the sensations consuming her, taking her full attention.
With his free hand, John stroked her belly then moved lower, finding her mound with its baby soft hair. He slid a finger into her silken warmth and heard her gasp sharply. He stopped abruptly and came back up to face her, pulling the covers up around her.
"Is everything okay?" he asked.
"Yes...oh, yes," she breathed in response.
"You'll tell me if anything isn't okay. I don't want to do anything that isn't okay," he repeated, his expression serious.
"Is it because I am not entirely human? Is that what concerns you?" she asked.
He nodded. "I just don't want to do anything you don't like."
"Do not worry, John. I am fully confident in your abilities. Oh, and John, I trust that if I do anything you do not like, you will also inform me?"
"Of course," he agreed, although it was hard to imagine such a thing could be possible.
"Good," she said, and then she was on him again, leaning over him, kissing him with even more intensity than before, while her hands explored his body, starting with his face, the slight roughness of the beard that she loved to touch, to his neck, where she could feel his pulse, so strong, so alive. Then she moved her hands slowly down his chest, stopping to tease both nipples with her fingers, and finally reaching down past taut belly muscles to feel his hardness for the first time, her hand boldly caressing the length of it. Now it was his turn to moan.
"Delenn, you're driving me insane," he said after a few minutes. His hands were all over her, his mouth pressing hard against her, kissing her mouth, her earlobes, her neck, her breasts, his hands reaching under her, squeezing her buttocks.
"Good," she responded, kissing his neck, his chest, tasting the sweat on his body.
"I don't know how much longer I can wait," he panted a few minutes later.
"Then do not wait."
He did not need any further encouragement. Her legs were already open, inviting him. He positioned himself over her and pushed in as gently as possible...and saw her gasp in pain. John froze.
"I'm hurting you."
"No. I'm okay," Delenn lied. "I just need you to stay still for a moment." The pain had torn through her as he'd entered her. But now she knew what to expect. She could handle this.
"Are you sure?" John's eyes were narrow with concern. The last thing he'd wanted to do was hurt her.
"Yes," she answered, gripping him tightly. She could feel him inside her and that excited her. "I am ready now," she added, moving her hips slightly to let him know she meant it.
John moved slowly...very slowly. Although the pain was still there, Delenn was able to block most of it, relegating it to the outer reaches of her consciousness. Beyond the pain, there was pleasure. She moved with him, encouraging him, wrapping her legs and arms around him, kissing him, her mouth open, taking him in.
John moved faster, and Delenn held on tightly as her rhythms matched his. Sensations were building, faster and faster, till neither of them could hold back any longer. John cried out first, shuddering deep within her, and then Delenn felt wave after wave overtake her, relentlessly, till she felt as if she would die if she had to endure any more pleasure. She could hear her own voice calling his name--almost as if calling from a distance. She shuddered as he pulled out of her. Then his arms were around her, and he tugged the blankets up over both of them.
Delenn buried herself in his arms and sobbed once again. "I love you so much," she gasped a few minutes later as she tried to calm herself. Once again, he kissed her tears away.
"And I love you," he told her. "This is just the first of many, many nights we will spend in each other's arms. I promise you that, Delenn."
"Yes," she whispered in response. They were silent for several minutes, just holding one another. Suddenly Delenn realized she was exhausted. And she couldn't even imagine how tired John must be. "Let's try to get a little sleep now," she suggested.
John wasn't about to argue. He already felt his muscles relaxing, fatigue overtaking him. Soon, with Delenn snuggled close to him, safe within his arms, John fell asleep. Delenn smiled, listening to the funny little noises he made while he slept. Eventually, her own exhaustion took over, and despite his snoring, even she was able to sleep.
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