By Kimberley Junius






   She wasn't there when he arrived at his quarters and John Sheridan wondered why he'd expected her to be, anyway -- except it had been a long, eventful day and he didn't want any more surprises. Or disappointments. He only wanted what few hours of peace that might remain before it hit the fan to be simple and straightforward. He kicked off his shoes and headed for his bedroom, undoing the collar of his uniform as he went. The door signal sounded. That would be Delenn. A wave of heat went through him that staggered him, but he recovered quickly and bid his visitor to enter.

   She entered the way she entered any room -- as if accompanied by an entourage, even when she was alone, as she was now. The door slid shut and he noticed that she had a very pleased expression on her face... and one hand behind her back.

   "Hi," was all he could manage. She smiled and the ability to form even monosyllabic words left him. She moved toward him, revealing the hand she'd been hiding. It held a single, pink, long-stemmed rose.

   John gasped. A look of delighted surprise washed every trace of weariness from his boyish features. "Where did you get that?"

   "I have my resources," Delenn said, offering him the rose. He took it.

   "Is it real... OWW!!" He snatched his hand away.

   "Right down to the thorns, the merchant told me," Delenn said. She took his injured hand and peered at the offended digit. Her ironic tone changed immediately to one of concern. "Your finger is bleeding."

   "Perfect way to end a perfect day..." John muttered, then fell silent as Delenn impulsively put his finger into her mouth. She began to suck it and he closed his eyes, instantly aroused by the unexpected sensation. It's been too long, he thought, if this is all it takes. He gently retrieved his finger.

   "Are you here to watch me sleep," he asked softly, "or to put me to sleep?"

   "The one does not preclude the other," Delenn said.

   "That had occurred to me," John admitted.

   She took his hand again and brought it to her lips. "So much has happened since I told you of our tradition," she said, holding his hand against the curve of her cheek. John grasped her shoulder, as much to steady himself as to complete the circle of contact. "I am certain that the true face of John Sheridan is the one that I see in my dreams. I have no real need to follow this tradition... only to be with you."

   "'For tomorrow we die'," he mused.

   "Yes," she whispered. She turned her face into his palm and kissed it. Pleasure surged through him again.

   He took the rose from her, this time being careful of the thorns. It was half-blown and he buried his nose in the center of it, inhaling its fragrance, loving the softness of its petals. Delenn's rose. For tomorrow we die... came the thought again, unbidden. He laid the rose on the counter and took her into his arms.

   John kissed her deeply, holding her so close that nothing that came between them could possibly survive. He caressed her back, clasping her waist then sliding his hands lower, cupping her behind and pulling her up and against his erection. She made a noise that was halfway between a moan and a sigh as she instinctively began to move against him.

   His lips left hers and wandered down to the soft flesh of her neck. Delenn made that noise again as her hips continued their rhythm, drawing him in, drawing them closer to the physical union that became more and more inevitable with each passing second.

   There comes a time in every journey when the point of no return is passed. An inch or a mile beyond, it doesn't matter: once passed there is no turning back. The woman in his arms had reached that point; John hadn't quite yet. He came up for air, his only other thought to protect her, and he spoke her name. Delenn looked into his eyes and he was caught up in her crystal gaze, that light in her eyes, all for him. With those eyes she drew him over the border to where she was, and all hesitation died in him. He swung her up into his arms and carried her to his bed.

   He sat down on the edge of it, Delenn in his lap. John stared at his armful in wonder, trying to decide just where to begin. She tipped his chin up with a forefinger. Before he could completely register the brilliant fact of her smile, she took possession of his mouth again. Kissing, their hands wandered over each other's bodies, touching, squeezing, slipping beneath clothing, each finding and caressing spots that made the other quiver. He took her shoes off, slid his hand up her legs to the place where her stockings ended and removed those, too.

   She climbed off his lap and onto the bed beside him. She unfastened his uniform jacket, easing the garment off his shoulders and onto the floor. Then she unbuttoned his shirt as he unfastened the cuffs. Together they pulled his shirt free of his pants and Delenn pulled it off over his head, grinning as she did so. She playfully tossed it over the side of the bed.

   John frowned fiercely at this lapse in decorum. "Get over here," he growled, and pulled her back onto his lap. He began to fumble with the jeweled fastener that held her overtunic closed. She guided his hands to the proper clasp and together they loosed it. The overtunic joined his jacket and shirt on the floor. The dress was next and then she was before him, astride his lap clad only in a one-piece sand colored underthing that was as alien as any woman's undergarment is to a man. He studied it for a second, then looked up to find Delenn staring at him, waiting to see what he would do next and looking very amused.

   "You think this is funny?" he asked.

   "I am the inexperienced one," she teased. "You should know your way around a woman's body."

   "Body, yes," John told her. "Underwear, no." He paused. "So, are you going to show me how to get you out of this thing, or am I going to have to go looking for a tech manual?" Delenn smiled smugly. "That's what I thought," he muttered.

   "Here," she said, placing a ribbon tie into his hand. He stared at it, bemused, for a long second until... "Oh!" he said, and pulled. The ribbon slipped free of the fabric and the top of the thing simply fell off her. She took his other hand and placed it on her breast, then leaned forward and whispered in his ear. "We can search for that tech manual now, if you really need it."

   "That won't be necessary," John said, and replaced the hand on her breast with his mouth.

   Delenn gasped as he suckled her, more in surprise that he'd do such a thing than in pleasure. "Are you hungry?" she asked.

   "Um-hmm," John said, transferring his attention to her other breast. He seemed to enjoy this, so she let him continue, even though nursing at a dry breast made little sense to her. After about a minute, however, it started to make more sense and she pulled him closer to her, kissing the top of his head, caressing his ears. After another minute he lay back and rolled her over onto the bed. He peeled the rest of the undergarment away, kissing her body as he went and, when he finally had the thing off her, he parted her legs to reveal the rose. Delenn's rose. He buried his nose in the center of it, inhaling its fragrance, loving the softness of it. He separated the petals, exposing the bud which he gently teased with his tongue before he suckled that, too.

   Delenn struggled up onto her elbows, the better to see what he was doing. Feeling what he was doing affected her more. She tried and failed utterly to still her restless pelvis; her eyes slipped blissfully closed several times before she was able to compose her thoughts enough to ask

   "Is that what that is for?"

   He looked up at her, not sure she was serious until he saw her face. He grinned. "This is all that is for," he told her, then returned to the task at hand.



   "I touch it and it gives so much delight," she said breathlessly. "Now you touch it and I think I may die from the pleasure."

   John looked up at her again. There wasn't a trace of amusement on his face, now. "You won't die, honey," he said softly and kissed the silken inside of one thigh. "I won't let you."

   He moved up until they were face to face and he nuzzled her, letting her taste and smell her wetness on his mouth. Delenn accepted this as she accepted everything he brought her: with a calm joy that glowed like late summer evening light and touched him like the cool, soothing breeze that wiped away the season's frantic heat with a lover's caress. He took her hand and her fingers twined in his, meshed with his and he knew that the time to make her ready for him was at an end.

   Together they removed the rest of his clothing, then they caressed each other -- his hands weighing her breasts, her hands wandering the expanse of his chest, her fingers tickling his nipples, sending shivers up and down his spine. His hands trailed across her satin belly to the damp heat between her legs. She sighed as he cupped her swollen vulva. Her hands continued to wander, downward to explore that which made him male. She drew a moan from him as she gripped his rigid penis. He nudged her legs apart, then moved on top of her.

   The play of her fingers on his chest maddened him; he wrapped the cords of control tightly around his need to join his body to hers now and took her face in his hands. He stared deeply into her eyes, caressed the planes of her face. John's heart moved him -- literally. It was beating so hard his body swayed in imitation of the lovemaking to come.

   He reached between them and guided his cock to her waiting womanhood. She gasped, then arched her back as that part of him touched her sensitive center.

   "This is going to hurt," he said softly, still staring into her eyes.

   Delenn said, "It hurt long before we ever came to this place."

   Understanding her meaning without quite knowing how or why, he said, "I don't want to hurt you..."

   "I accept whatever you give me, John, even if it causes me pain." She touched his mouth, briefly. "It is what I want," she said and pulled his head down for her kiss.

   As her tongue slid between his parted lips he began to penetrate her, slowly, gently. He opened his mouth to hers and she spread her thighs wider, to receive him. The soft tip of him popped past her entrance and she tensed. He didn't know if it was from pleasure or pain, only that she was hot, and slippery, and almost unbearably tight. She broke the kiss and her fingers spasmed against his neck, short nails digging in. The sensation went through him like a saber and he unintentionally thrust into her. She cried out and this time he knew it was in pain. He forced himself to relax, feeling those cords binding now. His control was slipping, slipping, as she moaned beneath him.

   "I can stop," he said raggedly, not entirely sure he was telling the truth. "Do you want me to stop?"

   "No." She shook her head. "No..."

   "All right," he said, nuzzling her neck as he resumed his slow, easy thrusting. Her hips began to rise and fall in answer to his movements. Tentative at first, her rocking became stronger as her arousal increased and her body adjusted to his size.

   "That's it," he whispered into her ear. "That's the way..." She shivered as he thrust the tip of his tongue into her ear. She slid her hands around his waist and down to grasp his behind.

   "Oh, yes!" he gasped. "That's exactly the way..." Unable to hold back any longer, John slipped his hands beneath her and, with one strong thrust, penetrated her completely.

   Delenn cried out again, her nails digging into him so hard his skin stung for hours afterwards. She pressed the back of her hand against her mouth, trying to muffle her moans of pain. "I'm sorry, honey," he said. He pulled her hand away from her mouth and kissed it. "I'm so sorry. I didn't want to hurt you... oh, no, don't..." he said, as a sob escaped her. "Don't do that..." He trailed off as his body suddenly and forcibly reminded him of precisely where he was.

   "I'm all right, John," she said, beginning to be moved by what he was beginning to do to her.

   "You sure?" he asked, gently kissing her parted lips.

   "Yes," she whispered. She brought her legs up and he slid farther inside her. She moaned again, but this time there was no pain in the sound.

   The heat, the energy was growing, glowing, starting in the small of her back and streaking up her spine, surging down her arms, radiating from her fingers. She forgot the pain of her breaking, forgot everything as her body suddenly and forcibly reminded her of precisely where she was: exactly where she wanted to be. Amorphous until the day she met him, the want had become clearer, stronger each time they'd come together. Now they were together, they were One, and the simple fact of it rocked her like a shout in Temple.

   "Better?" John said, moving gently, stroking deep inside her.

   "Yes," she replied.

   "Good," he whispered. He closed his eyes. "So good, Delenn..."

   "Yes," she said again. The feeling ebbed and flowed in her veins like the tide, an elemental force she could neither define nor deny. "Yes," she said, again, and the word was the affirmation and acceptance of her humanity, that which had pushed its way into her, utterly certain of its right to be there because she loved it and had invited it in. It tore at her former self, painful as any revelation is bound to be. Yet this was what she wanted. This was what she had been born to do, born to feel. "Yes..."

   His movements slowed, then stopped as he sounded her depths. Silent. Still. He covered her, letting her feel how much he loved her in this joining. "Oh..." she said faintly. Her inner muscles clasped his maleness and a wave of ecstasy threatened to engulf him. He grasped the remainder of his control and continued to stay moveless inside her, waiting for her fire.

   He was rewarded much sooner than he expected to be.

   The fire blossomed within her. She squirmed, then began to rock her hips, pulling him to her with strong, desperate hands. "All right... It's all right," he told her. John tried to catch her, to hold her, but she was in her extremity now, fucking against him so hard she nearly threw him off. Oh, this was joy. To be with her, inside her. It was like nothing he'd ever known, ever dreamed of. She was coming. He could feel it. He was making her come, talking to her, telling her how much he loved her, how much he wanted her, how much he needed her, how much a part of him she was, and she went over the edge and into the eternity of the little death. She lay frozen, rigid in his arms, her expression that of astonished ecstasy. "Let it go, Delenn," he said gently, and she did, falling, dying, crying out his name. Her exquisitely violent climax triggered his own, and he gave himself over to the release, gave himself over to her, calling her name in his turn as he filled her with his love, his seed, with his own fire.

   It took a long time ending. Aftershocks follow any cataclysmic disturbance -- the universe itself had stilled, if only for a nanosecond, at the coming together of the One. She climaxed twice more in that time. Deep inside her John felt her body clasp his manhood over and over, and he marveled at her strength and her passion, even as he shared it, drowned in the pleasure of it. But finally end it did, and he uncoupled them -- not really surprised by the deep sense of loss this separation produced -- and lay down by her side.

   "There is no more pain," Delenn whispered, after a moment of silence that spun out as soft as silken thread.

   He looked down at himself. Slightly gory. He rolled over and laid his hand on her belly. "You bled."

   "Is that supposed to happen?" she asked. She sounded faint and far away.

   "Only the first time... we used to consider it proof of something."

   "Proof of what?"

   "I dunno," John waved it away. "Inexperience."

   Delenn smiled. "I am no longer inexperienced."

   "No," John said fervently. "You most certainly are not." He caressed her and as he did so, suddenly remembered something he had learned of the future, something he had been meaning to tell her.

   "A son?" she repeated, a look of wonder replacing the lassitude on her face.

   "That's what you told me," he said.

   "Then it must be true, if that is what I told you..." Her hand came to rest on the hand that rested on her belly. She wove her fingers into his. "Do you think it happens now?"

   "I guess it's possible," John said, then laughed a little and drew her closer.

   "I must think on this," Delenn said. She kissed him deeply. "You sleep. I am still interested in seeing your true face."

   John looked dubious. "You never did tell me what would happen if you liked what you saw."

   "I also did not tell you that the real test is the lovemaking. And that... what is that human expression? You passed with falling colors."

   "Flying colors," John corrected her, chuckling.

   "Hmmm..." Delenn said. "'Flying' is a good word."

   "It definitely applies," he agreed. A sudden yawn nearly split his face in half.

   "Sleep," she urged.

   He didn't argue. He was out like a light in seconds and as she watched, his true face did indeed emerge. It was the face she had seen in her dreams, of her beloved, the father of her child to be. The thought of the child made her happy, then excited, then restless. She got out of bed, forgetting her soreness, forgetting her own weariness, forgetting everything but a promise of the future. She and John would make a baby... perhaps it was happening inside her already.

   He will look like John, she decided, as she gazed at his handsome sleeping face. And he will belong to the Universe.

   She wandered through his rooms, touching the things that he touched, things that belonged to him as surely and completely as she belonged to him now. Delenn smiled at the silliness of her thoughts, thoughts which completely obliterated her own vision of the future: a vision that involved the snow-filled glass ball she held in her hand.





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