By Coucher de Soleil




"Then she, with earnest kiss, sufficiently did prove
That more than by the fear of death she was attaint
by love."

from 'The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet', by Arthur Brooke.



   The snow crackled under their feet as they made their way along the frozen path, the sound like a strange chatter in their ears.

   Sheridan looked at Delenn, who was walking beside him. They had not spoken since their shuttle had set them down on the American continent only two hours before.

   *Not in words, that is.* He thought to himself as he felt the warmth or her hand against his own, and as their glances met yet again.

   It had been three hours ago that he had finally talked to his family. They were all right, and had been anxious to hear about him. As it turned out, they had gone into hiding shortly after Babylon 5 had seceded, finding shelter in the farmhouses of courageous neighbors. Upon hearing of Clark's demise, they had decided to return home to his parent's farmhouse, but had been careful not to make their presence too visible, just in case.

   When John had pointed out that the political situation was still quite unstable, and that it might be prudent to remain in hiding some time longer, David Sheridan had been adamant.

   "After a whole year of running around and sleeping God knows where, we've had enough! The kids are tired, your mother's tired... We've had enough John. We want to go home."

   And that had been the end of that, as well as the conversation.

   And now, he was walking home, Delenn by his side. Ivanova had not been happy with the idea of them coming down here, but then, she was hardly ever happy about anything these days, and *he* had been adamant. At this point, an extended turn brought a large farmhouse into view. Stopping for an instant, he took her into his arms, and pointed to it. They set off.



   The door opened almost instantly when he knocked. They had been expecting him. "John!" His mother, followed by his sister, rushed into his arms. Gratefully he held all of them in turn, heart full.

   After a time, they noticed the stranger in their midst. Stepping back, John drew Delenn into the house as they looked on, curious. Their curiosity increased even more as, once inside the heated front room, she removed the cloak which covered her crest.

   John cut in as the moment threatened to grow awkward.

   "Everyone, I'd like you to meet Ambassador Delenn of the Minbari." He paused for a moment. "I...really wanted you to meet her, because...We got married a few days ago."

   He continued on, plowing into the stunned silence surrounding him. "Delenn, this is my family." And he pointed each of them out, from his parents, to Liz and Dan, and the two boys. Delenn, suddenly shy, smiled at each of them in turn.

   "Maybe we should sit," John's mother said after a further silence had laid itself out.

   They sat, and the conversation began, subdued at first, as John's family tried to grasp what had happened to him in the past year. Subdued, because of the strange person by John's side. For his sake, they were gently polite as they attempted to understand him and his choices.

   Then the feeling became warmer as Delenn, with her gentle and earnest manner, gave them some inkling of the reason behind this particular choice, of why his eyes drifted to her so very often, of why they shone so brightly as they beheld her...Of why there was a joy in his expression which had been lacking for some years.

   There was a short awkward pause again as Sean, the youngest of John's two nephews, innocently asked Delenn why she wasn't bald like she'd been when they'd seen her on ISN a few years ago, a bit after Babylon 5 came online. Delenn, for her part, burst out laughing, jokingly answering that she had had enough of her head always being cold, and had therefore opted for a head of hair.

   And so the day came to an end, as they became acquainted with one another.



   Graceful trees covered with ice bowed towards the farmhouse window, surrounded by new snow.

   "Delenn?" Smiling, she turned away from the sitting-room window. It was so lovely and peaceful here...

   "Yes, John?" She whispered back. It was late and John's nephews had been given a room down the hall.

   "Are you tired?" He asked as he moved towards her, putting his arms about her.

   She shook her head. "No. Not really. I was just looking... This is a beautiful place. Such a beautiful place."

   "Delenn?" She seemed so far away. Smiling, she turned in his arms, putting her head on his shoulder. "I love you," she said softly, her voice strange. A bit worried, he brought her head up to look at him. "Is everything all right?"

   She merely nodded in reply.

   "Come on." He began, "You must be tired." And he brought her upstairs.

   It was when they reached his old room that he realized the slight awkwardness of the situation. Stepping inside, he closed the door. Holding her gently, he said, "Why don't you get some sleep. I'm sure it'll seem better in the morning." Nodding, she stepped into the bathroom which adjoined the room they were in. Sighing tiredly, he laid himself down on the bed sheets, intending to be awake when she returned.

   When she stepped out, however, he was fast asleep. Loathe to disturb him, she removed his shoes and covered him with a blanket, before slipping into the bed and drifting off to sleep as well.



   When he awoke, the sun had turned the curtains on the window into gold. Raising his head, he realized he had fallen asleep, and took in Delenn next to him. Turning and raising himself on his elbow, he gently brushed a lock of hair away from her face. To his surprise, she opened her eyes, smiling. "I was awake," she said, laughter in her voice.

   As an errant ray of sun stole into the room, she was momentarily surrounded by its fire. His breath caught at the sight.

   Without thinking, he bent down and caught her lips with his own. She responded, putting her arms about him and drawing him to her. An eternity seemed to brush by them, to the sound of their rapidly beating hearts. They finally parted, breathless, eyes full of passion. Drawing him to her, all else was, for a time, forgotten.



   When they finally stirred, it was late afternoon.

   "Will they not be wondering where we are?" Delenn asked softly.

   "I think they'll understand." He said into her hair, "But maybe we should go down anyway... You must be hungry."

   "Yes, I suppose we...should."

   "We could also stay here."

   "Yes, I suppose we...could."

   And they decided.



   "John! We were beginning to think you'd never come down." His mother looked at him sideways as she spoke the words. He blushed.

   "Yes, well..." Grinning, she hugged him before walking away.

   Turning, he headed into the dining room and sat down to supper.



   He watched the landscape diminish as he operated the shuttle controls.

   He looked towards Delenn, beside him. Last night they had sat with his family, reveling in simple joy... He turned back to the controls.

   He had contacted Ivanova, and had learned that the repairs, although not complete, were almost finished.

   The shuttle headed up towards the stars.







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