NIGHTMARE

By Danielle Hart

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER : All things established on Babylon 5 belong to WB and JMS. All other things belong to me. Congratulations to the Class of 1997! Also, the email address above will be good until August 17, 1996.

 

 

 

 

*****

   John Sheridan, captain of Babylon 5, walked down the hallway in Blue Sector towards his quarters. He was whistling, a unidentifiable but happy tune, as he moved, a parcel cradled under one arm. It was wrapped in a pretty rose and lavender paper, topped with a rose-colored bow. Then, he mentally corrected himself: he was headed towards *their* quarters. Theirs, as in his and Delenn's quarters. She had finished moving the majority of her things over the evening before, and they'd planned to go through it all that night.

   Moving in together had seemed like the logical progression. They planned to have the wedding in five months, after their child was born. But until then, he wanted to be close to the woman he loved, and if they were in the same quarters, he would be able to give her some help. Delenn was five months pregnant, and finding the whole concept of childbearing slightly annoying. He gathered that the Minbari reproductive cycle worked a little differently. Due to her unique biochemistry, she had particularly violent morning sickness, making her unable to keep any meals but dinner down. Franklin had her on vitamins, and was closely monitoring the baby and mother. The added weight made her awkward, and sleeping on her back was a thing of the past. She had set aside her reservations about sleeping on a horizontal bed once John introduced her to the comfort of a waterbed, with soft pillows and, as she jokingly called him, her very own personal heater. To top it off, her usually calm temper was becoming erratic, and blowups over tiny little things were becoming more common. John usually bore the brunt of these, since Delenn had to remain professional and composed in public. Add the inexplicable crying fits, and it was often a very interesting evening.

   The pregnancy was having its bad moments, but there were also the wonderful moments that could make John see why people had children. He and Anna had never really given the subject any thought - they had each other, and their careers. That had been enough. But, with Delenn, he knew it could never be. Last night, they'd sat on the couch, John massaging her sore abdomen. Then, against his hand, he had felt the baby's first strong kick, and then twice more. It had been such a -- meaningful moment for him, tangible proof that he was indeed going to be a father. He couldn't wait.

   And the look on Delenn's face - a look of wondering joy at this newest development. It made all of the inconveniences worth it.

   His parcel was tied to that. He knew that Delenn was self-conscious about her appearance, with the awkwardness, the added weight, and her swelling. While she wasn't given to typical feminine vanities, she did like to look nice. He'd had a special dress tailored for her, with a high waist that would fit over her swollen midsection, made of a deep maroon velvet that would look fabulous on her, and that he hoped would ease her fears about her looks. He still thought that she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen.

   His good mood lasted until he entered his quarters. They were quiet, too quiet. When she could, Delenn tried to grab a little afternoon nap. He'd teased her at first, but had come to realize what a strain the pregnancy was on her. Then, as he set the package down on the counter, he noticed small things out of order, including a spilled-out box. When he went to look closer at it, a chill went up his spine. Some of Delenn's delicate ornaments lay there - crushed, destroyed. Deliberately destroyed. His alertness took on a tinge of anxiety, and his hand covered his PPG cautiously.

   He stepped into his bedroom, the bedroom he had hoped to share with Delenn permanently. It was a disaster area. Things had been tossed around, and his waterbed was flattened. The water had spilled onto the entire floor, and as he came around it he saw her. She lay, still and quiet, her clothing - what little she had on - soaked. Battered and bruised, she lay unconscious, and he was all too aware of the blood that seemed to be everywhere.

    ----------

   In Medlab, Sheridan stared into the Isolab, watching Franklin and Hobbs work over the body of the woman he loved. Dimly, he heard Susan come up behind him. She didn't say anything, quietly remembering her own vigil kept here in Medlab for Garibaldi. Had the captain turned around, he would have seen the tears in his hard-as- nails first officer's eyes. Susan and Delenn were friends, two women in positions that tended to set them apart from others. She thought of all of the questions she had patiently answered, the experiences she had had to deal with, and when Delenn had told her about the pregnancy. Now, for this to happen -- Franklin emerged from the isolation suite, and Sheridan pounced on him.

   "How is she?" The edge on his question was tangible.

   "I think you'll want to discuss this in private." Franklin's tone was quiet, and it carried with it a sadness that Susan had heard before when he lost patients. She moved towards the Isolab, and Lillian Hobbs motioned her in. The commander took the ambassador's hand, and sat there wishing she knew what to say to the sleeping woman.

    ----------

   "How is she?" Sheridan's voice was low, but carried with it a hint of danger. Franklin could understand it. He just wished that he had better news to deliver to this man whom he respected and liked.

   "She'll recover. She's suffering from blood loss, trauma, and having lain in cold water for almost two hours. When she wakes up, I'm afraid she's going to be in considerable pain."

   He almost couldn't make himself ask the next question. "What about the baby?"

   Franklin's moment of silence made him feel truly cold inside. "I couldn't save the baby." The doctor breathed in, breathed out into the silent room. "I tried everything I could, but it had just been too long. From what I can tell, Captain, Delenn was asleep when these people broke in. They beat her viciously, they broke her right wrist, and raped her. At least twice." John turned away from him, killing anger in his eyes. Killing anger and tears.

   "Can I see her?"

   Franklin led him in, and Susan followed the doctor out. She'd seen the look on the captain's face, and it was enough to tell her that something very, very bad had gone on in his bedroom. The doctor filled her in on what he had told their commanding officer, and he saw the reaction he had expected from Ivanova : white-hot fury. He pitied, for one moment, the perpetrators. Then, a heartbeat later, he decided that death would be too good for them. She left to find Zack Allan, and he went back to his office to work on the blood Delenn was going to need.

    ----------

   Alone in the room with her, John gave into the tears that had been building. At that point, it was either cry or hit something. He knew without it being said that Ivanova was going to be tracking these people down, handling station problems. For one of the few times in his life, he felt sick at heart. They'd known that there were people who strongly disapproved of the ambassador, and even more so of the relationship they had. But until now, it had only been nasty rumors.

   These animals - to call them people would have been a stretch - had broken into his quarters, attacked while she was asleep and unable to defend herself, broken her wrist, raped her, killed the life growing inside of her -- the more he thought of it, the more he wanted to hurt something. Badly. But a tiny piece of reason prevailed, and he took her bruised, marred hand in both of his, protecting it. He had failed to protect her earlier.

   He would not do so again.

    ----------

   Delenn slept through that day and the next. When she regained her consciousness, the first thing that she saw was John sitting next to her bedside, asleep. One of his hands was curled around one of hers. She was aware next of the pain that was in every part of her body, and a small whimper escaped. It was enough to awaken the captain, and he smiled at her sleepily. For a moment, she was confused about why she was in Medlab. Then it came back to her, horribly rushing over her, and she collapsed back against the bed. A moment after he pulled her to him, she began sobbing uncontrollably. She remembered every detail of it perfectly, the pain, fright, shame, every emotion. The men had made crude remarks about her naked body, taking turns hitting her, violating her. The last thing she remembered was screaming.

   When she stopped crying, she realized that he had been doing his share of it as well. They clung to each other desperately.

   "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I couldn't protect you, so sorry." His face was buried in her hair, and he was crying. She could feel the hot wetness, and she realized that he was suffering as much as she was.

   "It is not your fault. You did not -- "

   "I didn't protect you, or our child. I should have.."

   "There is nothing that can change what happened. How could you have stopped it? How could you know?" She touched his cheek lightly, comforting him. "You could not have known."

   "Delenn.."

   "I do not want to talk about it now."

   "I promise you, they will be caught and dealt with."

   "What has Dr. Franklin told you?" She looked down at herself for the first time. Delenn knew from his eyes that it wasn't good, but until she saw her midsection, she didn't quite grasp what had happened.

   "You had a miscarriage." He whispered it, as if the words hurt. "They killed our baby."

   "Nooooo!" Her scream filled his ears, as she collapsed against him in tears. And while he held her, felt her sobs and shakes and pain, he had never felt more helpless or enraged in his life.

    ----------

   Zack Allan was feeling pretty enraged himself. The scene in the captain's quarters was like something out of a nightmare. Luckily, the criminals had left some evidence, both on Delenn and in the rooms. The station had been locked down as soon as she had been discovered, and only one ship had left in the interim, Minbari war cruiser *Dur'iie*. On the off-chance that these people might have had the colossal stupidity to stow away on a Minbari war cruiser, he placed a call and had them check their ship.

   No luck. But then, he hadn't really expected that they would have any there.

   Ivanova sat on the desk in his office, watching him pace.

   "What are you going to do?"

   "I'm going to find them." Zack paused, thinking of the things he would like to do when he caught the animals. "In the meantime, how do you think the captain would take us assigning Delenn a bodyguard?"

   "I can't see why he'd complain. Hell, he'd probably volunteer to do it himself." Susan laughed a little, and the sound seemed out-of-place in the situation. "Delenn might complain, but I'm sure she can be talked into it."

   "Well, I have a couple of people in mind as possibilities." Then, he started his analysis of the evidence found, and they continued waiting for the computer to spit out any matching identities. There was also the possibility that the criminals might have come in from Earth. But they had to find these people soon, because Babylon 5 could not stay locked down forever. Ivanova was already beginning to get calls from irate captains, but she knew that she had to keep the ships in dock until every ship had been searched by security.

    ----------

   Franklin had kicked Sheridan out of Medlab with orders to get some sleep, and Ivanova had offered him her bed, since she knew he would not want to go back to his quarters yet. To his surprise, he actually slept. When he woke up, after having been assured by Susan that everything was under control, as well as the fact that she had had to reopen the station but that security had been increased, he knew he had to do a task he had been dreading.

   Security had taken care of the cleanup, but his quarters were still a shambles. Franklin had decided he would release Delenn the next day, and he planned to bring her home. He would not leave her alone to deal with this. When they were finally neatened up, and his gift for her stashed away safely, he headed down to Medlab.

   Lennier was sitting with her, talking. Sheridan hadn't really thought about how the aide would feel, but he imagined he was outraged as well. Thanks to the medicines Franklin was giving her, the bruises and swelling had begun to go down. Her face still sported a blackened eye and various bruises, and a bandage covered the long cut across her cheek. The rest of her body was similarly bruised, and her right wrist was in a small cast. Delenn's life had been in danger before, but this was the first time she had been so battered. He hoped it would be the last time.

   "Thank you, Lennier, for coming to see me." Delenn was saying as he walked in. "I trust you area able to handle all of the diplomatic matters."

   "Yes. Also, Ranger Nirashonn sends her regards." Nirashonn had really sent her congratulations on the coming child, but Lennier did not think that telling her that would be a good idea.

   "Tell her thank you." Delenn looked up and saw him standing there. "Hello, John."

   Lennier took his leave, and Sheridan took the seat he had vacated.

   "How are you today?"

   "Better. The pain still has not gone away."

   "Doctor Franklin says you can come home tonight. They've been cleaned up. The only thing is, they broke a few of your things."

   "Do you want me to come back to your quarters?"

   "Why wouldn't I?"

   "We had agreed on it because of the baby -- "

   John hugged her as tightly as he dared. "Honey, I would have taken any excuse to move you in with me."

   "I do not want to be alone, John."

   "You won't be. This won't happen again. I promise you."

   "Thank you." She whispered it against him.

   Susan Ivanova and Zack Allan appeared in the doorway as well. Allan looked uncomfortable, but the commander smiled at Delenn.

   "Hello, Commander, Mr. Allan." Delenn still had a death grip on the captain's hand as she settled back.

   "Hello, ma'am. I thought you might like to know where we stand from Security's standpoint." Allan shifted back and forth. "We've positively identified four assailants, and we're in the process of getting them found and picked up. Do you remember how many men were there?"

   "Four. Just four." Delenn closed her eyes briefly.

   "After they're picked up, we'll want you to identify them. Then, we can deal with them."

   "Have you decided how you'll do that?" Sheridan interrupted.

   Zack smiled. "I'm open to suggestion. I know that Security could use some target practice. According to Intergalactic Code, rape is not a crime punishable by spacing. I'm up for a change in that."

   "I do not -- I just do not know how -- " Delenn wasn't sure how she wanted to see these men punished.

   "There's no rush, Ambassador." Susan broke into the conversation. "We just received a signal from Marcus. White Star 18 is on its way home." She paused, trying to think of how to approach this. "Ambassador, we'd like to assign you a bodyguard."

   "That sounds like a good idea." The captain looked at Delenn, hoping she wouldn't put up a fight.

   "Do you really -- "

   "I really think you should, Delenn." Ivanova's voice was gentle. Delenn looked at John, and knew that he would feel much safer knowing she was protected.

   "Go ahead, then." She watched the two officers leave, then looked back up at John.

   "It's going to be okay, Delenn. It really is."

   "Doctor Franklin came and talked to me today about the miscarriage." It was such an odd term, so nice and neat. She hated it. "He said he didn't see any reason why we couldn't try again. The baby," she swallowed a sob, "There weren't any problems with the baby."

   "Are you ready to try again, Delenn?"

   She shook her head, closing her eyes.

   He took her hand. "Don't worry. We'll take as much time as you need."

    ----------

   Lieutenant Alexandra Chantale Michaud, "Alexie" to her friends and "A.C." to her coworkers, entered Zack Allan's office. She was a young woman - only 24 - with an athletically slender body, coffee colored hair that fell below her shoulders, and dark brown eyes with tints of gold.

   "Hey, Zack. I mean, Yes Chief."

   "I'm assigning you to special duty. Personal bodyguard to Ambassador Delenn. The captain wants to meet you first, check you out."

   "Understandable. When?"

   "Now. He's down in Medlab."

   "On my way." He watched Michaud leave, then got Lyta on the link. He'd not seen her in a week, and felt like he needed to see her.

   Michaud, meanwhile, was in Medlab, outside of the suite that Delenn was in. When she stepped inside, they looked up at her, ending their conversation.

   "Lieutenant Alexandra Chantale Michaud, sir. Chief said you needed a personal bodyguard for the Ambassador."

   "You're his choice for that?"

   "Well, he felt that perhaps the Ambassador would like a bodyguard who is more than a muscle-bound, gun-toting enforcer."

   "Michaud sounds like a familiar name," Delenn commented.

   "My father is - was - General Jean-Michel Michaud. My mother is Chantal Alexander Michaud, a chief diplomat. Last I checked, she was on Proxima. And my brothers." Alexie smiled. "Matt and J.P. are both running around as part of the Resistance. I'm their little sister."

   "Quite a family."

   "I also speak a little Minbari, fluent French, play the cello, and can kill armed or unarmed." She paused. This was hard for her to say, and it was something that she rarely shared with anyone. "When I was fifteen, I was raped. They never caught him. My brothers would have killed him. Since they couldn't do that, they taught me every way they could think of to protect myself."

   "It sounds like Zack made the right choice," said Sheridan.

   "I promise sir, you won't be let down. The chief wants me to sleep in your quarters, but I told him that might be a bit of overkill."

   "Yes, I think that is. I can protect her."

   "Well, then. Tomorrow morning, give me a call when you are ready to leave for work." Michaud turned and left.

   "Are you ready to go home?" She nodded. "I'm going to arrange some food, and then we'll get Stephen to release you."

   "I'm not hungry."

   "You need to eat." It was a gently chiding statement. "You need the food. It'll help you heal. What would you like?"

   "You're not cooking, are you?"

   He laughed at the pitiful tone. "No. I thought maybe some Chinese food -- ."

   "That sounds fine."

   "I'll be right back."

    ----------

   They sat on the couch, eating. When they were finished, he could sense she wasn't ready to go to sleep.

   "Would you like to see some embarrassing pictures?"

   "Of what?"

   "Well, when you brought your things over, I pulled out some of my things. Baby pictures, keepsakes, the like."

   "Baby pictures?" It hurt for a moment, thinking of the child who would never have a picture taken.

   "They're a habit of human parents, especially with their first child. They record moments on film, to drag out later when the children are grown. Luckily for me, Liz came along three years later, so they had two of us to embarrass." He got up and got the box, pulled out a thick book. His mother had taken a formal portrait of him every year, and the front of the book was devoted to them.

   "Your hair is so much lighter here." Delenn pointed at some of the younger pictures.

   "That's pretty common. Most people are born with lighter hair than they will have as adults. You wouldn't know that, because of how you got yours. I would assume, though, that the Minbari headbone is the same way."

   "Of course. We are not born with them." They continued with the pictures. While she still did not laugh, he did see her crack a smile at some of them. Including the picture of two-year old John Sheridan in a huge cowboy hat and nothing else.

   "Minbari parents do not do this."

   "I think Minbari parents have a good idea. I remember the first time Anna saw that picture. She teased me for two weeks straight." They went back to the album, and she saw all sorts of pictures. There were pictures of John and Liz together at various ages, baseball pictures, a picture of John and Cathy Jensen, his senior prom date, and a picture of him in his Academy uniform. Family portraits, and a picture of him on horseback.

   "What is that?"

   "A horse. Earth animals. We ride on them, and they pull things. This was my horse, Ghostly." She yawned a little.

   "Come on. Let me take you to bed." He picked her up, feeling her light weight. In their bedroom, he turned around while she undressed and put on one of the silk sleepshirts Susan had given her as a gift. After he'd stripped down to his boxers, he joined her in the bed. She cuddled close to him, so close that he could feel her body heat burning him. They slept like that, his arms wrapped protectively around her

    ----------

   The screams woke him up quickly. She was obviously having a nightmare. He shook her awake, sitting up in bed to hold her while she cried. John knew it was too soon to talk to her about what had happened, but he wanted to do something for her. Finally, she slipped back into sleep. It took him longer.

   The morning came, and he slipped out of bed and into the shower. When he came back, Delenn was awake, staring at the bathroom door.

   "Good morning."

   "Good morning, Delenn." He remembered the morning after the night they had first made love. He'd gotten into the shower, and a minute into it, he'd turned around and seen her opening the door. It had been a good start to the day. "Are you going to take a shower?"

   She nodded.

   "I'm going to go call Lieutenant Michaud. Susan's been covering for me, and I need to get back to work."

   "Of course."

   "What are you going to do?"

   "I do not know. I do not want to be seen by anyone -- while I look like this."

   "Maybe you could have Lennier bring over the diplomatic stuff you've missed. That way you could stay here and catch up."

   "That sounds like a good idea."

   He finished dressing. "Are you going to get in the shower?"

   "I do not want you to see me." It was a whispered confession. "I do not want you to see what they did to me."

   "It's all right. You don't have to anything you don't want to do." He gave her a hug, as tight as he dared, and then went out into the living room.

    ----------

   The door chimed, and he answered it. It was Lieutenant Michaud.

   "Delenn's in the shower. She knows I'm leaving."

   "Good luck, Captain. We'll be fine."

   When he had gone, Alexie sat down to wait. Delenn finally came out, and she shyly greeted her bodyguard.

   "Good morning, Lieutenant."

   "Good morning, Ambassador. I insist that you call me Alexie, however. After all, we're going to be together a lot."

   "Then you should call me Delenn." She went and took some of the *hil'elo* that John kept in the quarters for her. A traditional breakfast food, it was one of her favorites. Alexie took a bag out of the purse she carried, and extracted two crescent shaped pastries.

   "Croissants." Alexie replied, in response to Delenn's curious look. "They are French breakfast pastries. Mama used to make them every morning. Matt and J.P. would eat them all if I didn't hurry up and get down to breakfast. But, they're good brothers."

   After they'd finished eating, Lennier brought the dispatches from the past week, and Delenn tackled them. Alexie read a few, chuckling. Chantal Michaud had tried to interest her children in the vagaries of diplomacy, and Alexie had taken to it with some interest. But what she had really wanted to do was help keep the peace in a more physical form. Then she had been raped, and self-defense had become a little bit of an obsession. When they were alone, that afternoon, Delenn found the nerve to ask the question that had been nibbling at her since her attack.

   "How did you deal with it?"

   "With what?" Alexie's tone was casual, but she knew what the other woman was trying to ask.

   "What he did to you. When you were raped." It was whispered, timid.

   "I was beaten, raped by a total stranger while I was horseback riding on the family estate. My brother was riding with a friend when they found my horse, and then me. Danielle told me once, after, that Matt went a little crazy then. When I woke up in the hospital, everything hurt. I didn't really remember for a few days, and then I had screaming nightmares. My brothers helped me the most, by teaching me self-defense. It made me feel better, safer. It's different for every woman. Every rape is different. I learned that when I started volunteering as a rape counselor."

   "I..I had a nightmare last night, seeing it all again."

   "Sooner or later, you have to talk about it. Rape hurts you, and it hurts the people around you. Especially when you're in a relationship. It hurts the men who love you. They feel they should have protected you better, done something. When I had nightmares, J.P. would come sit with me for hours, until I felt safe enough to fall back asleep again. Matt looked at every male who came near me like he was a potential attacker."

   "I know I have to talk about it. I just -- I know what it will do to John to have to listen to what they did to me. Is it not enough that one of us has to suffer?"

   "Eventually, you manage to put it behind you. You have to. Or else, they win." Alexie reached out and touched Delenn's arm. "Rape isn't about sex. That's the mistake a lot of people make."

   "What is it about?"

   "Power. They have the power to degrade you, humiliate you. It's a way to prove that they can control you. If you allow the fear and shame to control your life, they win."

   The women fell silent as Delenn thought about what Alexie had said. A few moments later, Delenn had to ask one thing.

   "Is this why Mr. Allan sent you?"

   Alexie shook her head. "He doesn't know. Very few people do. It was their opinion that you would feel better with a female bodyguard."

   The door gave the unlock-tone, indicating that someone who knew the lockcode was opening the door. Alexie had her PPG out, pointed at the door. It was, of course, the captain, and so Alexie relaxed her guard.

   "Will you be needing me tomorrow?" Alexie asked as she gathered her things.

   "Yes."

   "I'll see you then."

    ----------

   "How are you?" John asked the question as he took the bag of food he had brought home into the kitchen.

   "I like Alexie. She and I had a long talk." She sniffed the air. "Is that what I think it is?"

   "If you think it is *fvai*, *h'sina*, and *grelti*, then it is."

   "Where did you -- "

   "Lennier helped me get it. He wanted to do something for you." He watched her start in on the dishes, even tasting a little of them. Sheridan had taken the precaution of eating earlier. After she'd eaten, the two of them sat curled together on the couch. She told him about the diplomatic dispatches she'd dealt with, he told her about the problems he'd dealt with. Soon, it was time for bed. She made him turn around again, not wanting him to see the ugly marks. Again, the nightmares and her screams woke him, and again he held her while she cried.

    ----------

   A week passed in this fashion. People began to notice the dark circles under the captain's eyes, the frustration. He had finally decided that he had to do something. He couldn't allow her to suffer this alone. They followed the bedtime ritual, and he fell asleep, waiting for the dreams to come. When he had shaken her awake, he held her.

   "Tell me -- ."

   "No." The vehement tone in her voice shocked him.

   "Tell me. You have to talk about it. It's the only way to make the dreams go away."

   "I do not want to hurt you." She whispered it, and he knew that she did mean well.

   "I know you don't. But it is hurting me, holding you while you cry like your heart is breaking. Listening to you scream like a Shadow is chasing you. Wondering what they could have done to you. Knowing would be better."

   They lay there in silence for awhile.

   "Remember," he whispered, "the mission to Ganymede." She nodded against him. "You told me that you would watch while I slept, and catch me if I should fall." He paused, listening to her heart beating. "Let me catch you. Please, Delenn."

   "I -- I was asleep. I woke up when I felt hands -- on me. They put a hand over my mouth, told me not to scream or else. They started hitting me, all over. Then one of them started -- squeezing me. It hurt. Two of them held me down, and two -- two of them started stripping my clothes off. When I was naked, they -- they kept saying things, about my body. They said it was easy to see how I could have gotten you under control, that for a half-breed Minbari whore I had a nice body. Their remarks kept getting cruder, more embarrassing. Then one of them started undoing his pants." He could feel her shivering in his arms, and felt guilty for having to do this to her. "It hurt so badly, I thought I was going to die. It felt like it went on forever. Then he finished. I thought they were finally done with me, but the other man who hadn't held me down said he wanted his turn. I tried harder to fight this time, but when he got inside me, it hurt too much to struggle. So I just lay there and prayed for it to be over. He kept squeezing, twisting, biting me. He finished, and then they started hitting me again. I tried to fight back, and one grabbed my wrist and just -- snapped it. I screamed, I could not help it. Then they slammed my head against something, and -- the I woke up in Medlab. Everything hurt, and -- our baby was dead." She started crying again, and he held her, trying to soothe her. "Why? How can they be so cruel?"

   "I don't know, Delenn. I really don't." He kept on holding her, feeling her heart racing against his. After what seemed like an eternity, he lay her back down against the pillow, started unbuttoning the shirt.

   "No, John, I -- "

   "I won't hurt you, Delenn."

   "I do not want you to see what they did to me. It is -- ugly."

   "Please." She responded to the plea and lay still. He finished unbuttoning the shirt, slid it off of her. The sight of her body brought back extremely pleasant memories, memories of the first time he had seen her fully naked, the first time they had made love. He'd marveled at her beauty, but now he had to hold back rage as he looked at her. Bruises, fading but ugly, marred her slender body, a few scattered bite marks, even a few cuts. He slid a hand gently over her body, wishing there was some way that he could make all this go away. He kissed each and every mark softly, wishing that a kiss could make it all better. He got out of bed then, whispering that he'd be right back. When he returned, she was back under the covers, but the sleepshirt sat at the end of the bed. John crawled back into bed, then pulled her against him. They fell asleep that way, curled together.

    ----------

   She woke up first, with him curled around her. Delenn wondered if perhaps she had slept less than she'd thought. Then, she saw the chronometer, which clearly read 1000 hours.

   "John! Wake up." He shook off sleep, and looked at her.

   "Is something wrong?"

   She pointed at the chrono. "You overslept. It is 1000 hours."

   "I know."

   "But -- "

   "Susan has it under control. I thought you were more important. Besides, I'm not getting any decent sleep while you suffer."

   "So what are we going to do?"

   "Right now? Lie here and sleep some more. Then we're going to shower, and have breakfast, and go through your things. Unless you have a better idea."

   "That sounds fine." The last time they had slept in late together had been the first time they'd made love. It was one of her most treasured moments. She'd been nervous and shy, but in the end she had enjoyed it -- all three times. She allowed herself to fall asleep again, snuggled against him.

   He woke up first, two hours later. John watched her sleep, enjoying her peaceful expression. It was an expression he had missed in the past week. Then she stirred, green eyes opening to gaze into his dark eyes.

   "I love you, John."

   "Did you think I didn't know?" His smile brightened his entire face. "I love you, Delenn, with all my heart and soul. If I could, I would make your pain go away. And when we find these -- "

   "I do not want to talk about it. Not today. There will be time later."

   He stepped out of bed. "I'm going to take that shower. Care to join me?"

   Delenn hesitated.

   "You don't have to if you don't want to."

   She stepped out of bed, following him into the shower. She flinched when the water hit her bruises, but the moment of pain passed quickly. They washed each other, and then he started on her hair. Even tangled from a night's sleep, it was still beautiful. After, he dried her off gently, then watched her dress and deal with the mass of hair. It was definitely not a wash-and-wear style.

    ----------

   After eating lunch, they settled down with the boxes. One was full of clothes, and John lifted out "the" black dress.

   "I remember the dinner when you wore this. You looked -- well, you didn't look like a Minbari or an ambassador."

   "Oh, what did I look like?"

   He kissed the top of her head. "The most beautiful woman I have ever seen."

   There were boxes with diplomatic materials, Minbari foods, some dishes. Finally, they came to the box that had been opened during the attack. It was full of personal things. At the bottom, carefully wrapped in protective covering, was Delenn's personal collection of pictures.

   "Minbari do not ‘take pictures' as often as humans do. And, there are no pictures of me in just a floppy hat, "she said with a smile. There were a few pictures of Delenn as a little girl, with an almost oversized crest and big serious eyes. A picture of her and her father. There were a few more showing as a young woman, one of her with her mother. A few more as a teenager with her father. A picture of Delenn in acolyte robes, with an older Minbari man. Two more of her in the robes of a Satai, one with her father, one with the older man. And finally, a picture of Delenn as a teenager with Draal and her father.

   "Who is this?" He pointed at the older man.

   "Dukhat." There was an almost reverent tone to her voice, laced with affection and respect. "A good man. If he had known what ensued because of his accidental death, I think he would have been saddened. No, I know he would have been saddened."

   "There is only one picture of you with your mother?"

   "Yes. My mother left soon after my birth to follow her religious calling in the Sisters of Valeria. She loved my father, and myself, but the calling was stronger. When I was old enough to understand, my father explained it to me. I have seen her only eight times in my life. The last was before I was posted to Babylon 5." She smiled softly. "My father spoiled me, I think you would say. Between him and Draal, there were very few things that I did not have."

   "Somehow I can't see you as spoiled. Mom and Dad gave us a lot of things, but Liz and I worked for them."

   It was a return to normalcy that afternoon. Sheridan arranged to have dinner delivered from a restaurant in the Zocalo, and they went to bed early, since it would be back to business as usual the next day.

   They slept through the entire night.

    ----------

   Alexie Michaud was Delenn's shadow as the ambassador returned to her normal duties. As a pleasant-looking young woman, who wore a tight black jumpsuit and boots, Alexie didn't appear to be someone who could quite easily, quickly disable someone. Delenn was never alone.

   Two weeks passed, without incidents. Delenn had pretty much put the rape, the attack, the miscarriage behind her. The miscarriage was what haunted her. Luckily, there weren't many people on Babylon 5 with children or babies. Then, a call from Zack Allan, saying that he had four suspects in custody, brought back the nightmare for two nights. She had identified them, and it was during the identification that she got quite a shock. Alexie was there, even though John was, watching the lineup. One man, Delenn's second rapist stood there with four other men. When Delenn had identified her assailant, Alexie took a closer look, and her memory flashed back to nine years ago. As the realization of who it was struck her, she swore in French.

   "Is something wrong?" Delenn was worried, for she genuinely liked her bodyguard.

   "That -- that *cochon*, that *fils de la vache*. Nine years ago, he committed a similar crime. Mine." She looked up, her eyes blazing. "What are you going to with him?"

   "We're not sure yet. The Babylon 5 Ombuds really isn't the place for this, since Delenn doesn't want to testify about it."

   Zack Allan joined the group. "Well, the security people are in favor of us ‘losing' these prisoners, and having a little ‘practice' on them."

   "Sounds like a good idea," John growled. "I get first shot."

    ----------

   In the Sheridan quarters, the captain, Delenn, and Alexie sat quietly. Alexie was dealing with her own turbulent feelings. Delenn was considering what the men had offered to do: kill these men for attacking her. While part of her was upset, part of her was happy to see it done. The lieutenant stood to leave the couple alone.

   "Captain." He looked up to see her, almost trembling. "Are you going to punish him, as the chief suggested?"

   He nodded.

   "I told you that my older brothers would gladly have killed him. They still feel that way. I know there's no way my oldest brother can get here, but I know Matt probably can. Can you give me time to let him get here?"

   "How long do you need?"

   "If I can use the com channel -- " Sheridan nodded, and she moved to it.

   "Computer, this is Lieutenant AC Michaud. Find a comsignal for Commander Matthew Charleston Michaud. Codesignal is Swamp Fox."

   "Searching." Five minutes passed. "Connection made." The picture resolved itself into one of a handsome young man, with dark hair, dark eyes. "Hi, Alexie. What can I do for you?" The two fell to conversing in French, but the couple could tell from, facial expressions that the commander was definitely pleased at this surprise.

   "Give him five days, Captain. He'll get here, as fast as he can."

   "That is acceptable. Now, if you two will excuse me, I'm going to head back. Delenn?"

   "I'll stay. Alexie?'

   "I'll stay, of course." When the captain had gone, Delenn came back to her desk. Alexie settled herself on the couch.

   "Your family does not speak English at home, amongst each other?"

   "We speak both. It depends. Matt and I speak French as an exercise. J.P. and his wife speak it so my nieces will learn to speak it. Mother expects us to speak French to her at home, but to speak English other places."

   "What is it like, having siblings? I am afraid John does not speak of it, much."

   "Having older siblings can be a pain. But I knew that I always had someone to protect me. Of course those someones could also be damned annoying. I never had a date that they didn't pick apart. Heaven help me if I tried to leave the house in sexy clothes. Matt is four years older, J.P. is six. Now that we're adults, we get along okay."

   They chatted while Delenn looked at diplomatic dispatches. Then Sheridan was home, and Alexie left. And things progressed ‘normally', as normally as they had since the attack.

    ----------

   Four days later, Delenn was sitting in a meeting with G'Kar, Alexie standing vigilantly outside the door, when she saw him.

   "Matt!" She screamed his name, waving to get his attention. When he reached her, he swung her into the air, listening to her laugh. He remembered when it had been rare to hear her laugh like that, when it was more common to hear her scream in terror.

   "Alexie!" At that point, Delenn came out of the meeting to witness the reunion. Alexie snapped back to her proper military self.

   "Ambassador Delenn, this is my brother, Commander Matthew Charleston Michaud. Matt, this is Ambassador Delenn."

   "Greetings, ma'am. I was sorry to hear what happened to you." Michaud was a pleasant enough young man. "I was sort of on my way here to start. I hear Babylon 5 can use some more dedicated officers." He squeezed his sister again.

   "Hey," Alexie said as it dawned on her, "where's Adriane?"

   "With friends. I didn't want to bring my baby here, until I was settled. Listen, I'm going to go check in and get a place to sleep. Give me a call when it's time. Or when you want to have dinner."

   "I will, Matt."

   He kissed her cheek. "'Bye." Then he was gone again.

   "So," Delenn remarked, "that was your brother."

   "Yes, that was him." They began walking back to the Sheridan quarters. They were in one of the Blue sector hallways when it happened. A man jumped out in front of them, brandishing a weapon. Practically before Delenn knew what was happening, the man was on the ground, a hole burning in his shoulder. His weapon - a heavy lead sap - Alexie picked up, ready to counter any move.

   "AC to Security. I've got a present for you." She was continually looking around, watching for another threat. One did not present itself, however, and after Security had taken the would-be mugger into custody, the women continued. Inside the quarters, Delenn looked a little shaken as she made tea.

   "Would you like some?" Alexie nodded, her mind not really on the attack.

   "That was -- very fast." Delenn made the remark as she handed out the tea.

   "That's what Chief Allan liked about me. That's what they taught me to do."

   Seating herself, Delenn moved away from the subject at hand. "Who is Adriane?"

   Alexie smiled. "My five year old niece, Matt's daughter. His wife, I'm afraid, deserted them."

   "Does he think it will be safer for her here?'

   "It may not be safer. But it is better than what is at home. Our relatives, during the 1700's, were French aristocrats, executed because they were aristocrats. Never mind that they were not evil. They were simply wrong for the times."

   "Aristocrats?"

   "Nobility. A step below royalty. Any power the titles had was really abolished ages ago. We own the land, and the memories. A few relatives escaped to America, to South Carolina. That is where the Michaud heritage is now. It is those lands and their freedom which we are willing to die for. I want to see my home free. Until it is so, we are safer in space."

    ----------

   That night, at midnight, four men were led into a room in Gray sector. A few hours later, their bruised, bleeding bodies were led out by triumphant men. The four were spaced. Babylon 5 was free of four more people loyal to a twisted Earth, a twisted man, and was ready to look for more. And while it was not able to right the wrong inflicted on a young woman and a mother-to-be, it was all that could be done.

   Delenn didn't really care for the details. She had her own way planned to celebrate putting the event behind her. The next evening, when John came home, he found Alexie leaving with a grin on her face.

   "Have fun, Captain." Then she was gone.

   "Hello, John." He could see Delenn standing in the doorway to the bedroom, wearing -- well, nothing.

   "Are you sure?" It was a whisper, as if he was afraid he would break the mood.

   She nodded, smiled, and led him away.

   The next morning, those who greeted Sheridan greeted a man with a blinding smile on his face. Things in his life were back to normal. As normal as things ever got on Babylon 5. While the pain was still there, they were moving past it, into the future that would hopefully, bring joy along with the pain that was sure to come.

   fini

   [END]

 

*****

 

 

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