A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS
Hi, all! Hope you enjoy this story...it's set from Delenn's POV with a nice twist added onto it! Many thanks to Nightwatch censor Heather RaeLynn for her 'stamp of disapproval' on this...she actually said that this story was good enough to be included in the monthly Nightwatch book burning contest. What an honor! Before I go on, however, here's an advertisement for you...:-)
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The aroma of freshly cut grass drifted into her nostrils as a breeze gently puffed its way around her. Overhead, a bright noonday sun shined down on her, warming her skin. To most people, the scene would have been a beautiful one. That is, if you could see it. Delenn was blind. Her sightless green eyes unknowingly gazed over to a row of headstones fifteen feet away. Perhaps to one in particular.
A disease called Ch'ins'ma had nearly robbed her of her life several cycles ago. Before the disease receded, it managed to attack her optic nerves, rendering them useless despite the best that Minbari medicine had to offer.
Prosthetic eyes would have been the solution; however, in her case the optic nerves in both of her eyes had been totally destroyed, making the prosthetic eyepieces unusable. Despite her handicap, being blind still amused Delenn at times; after all, she had spent a major part of her life fighting the darkness, and now that was all she would see until she died.
Not that she needed her sight to do her work - that had been done a long time ago. She was what the humans referred to as 'retired', being called into service only to attend engagements and ceremonial functions. Her son, David, had taken his place as leader of the Alliance nearly a decade ago, and she still served the religious caste - though not as a leader of it - as a teacher and mentor to the younger members of the caste. A life that she was more content with. Almost.
Every so often, her thoughts would turn back to memories of memorable days long gone, such as her ascension to the Grey Council or the victory in the Great War. Still other thoughts dealt with the lower points in her life, such as the Earth / Minbari War, or the civil war on Minbar. Even after so many years, Delenn still felt guilty for the lives lost in those two conflicts. The fact that she helped save billions of lives during the Great War made no difference on that guilt; if anything, it made her think more and more about it. Then, of course, there were her memories of John, her friend, husband, confidant, and lover. She really didn't have to think to see his face - she saw it when she got up in the morning, throughout the day, and before she went to bed at night.
A smile crossed Delenn's face as she recalled the first time she met him. It was just after she had emerged from chryalsis as a half Minbari - half Human. Lennier had informed her that Commander Sinclair had been replaced by Captain Sheridan as the new commander of Babylon 5. Sheridan's other unofficial title among the Minbari was Starkiller, so she was more than a little apprehensive about meeting him. Instead of meeting a bloodthirsty murderer as she expected she found herself facing a tall, dignified, and smiling human. What really shocked Delenn was that she found him attractive - something that she didn't expect. Even then, she mused, my body - no, my soul - was trying to tell me what my mind couldn't accept. Interesting...
After that, there were times when they would meet each other, outside of official business. Sometimes it would be just to talk or, on rare occasions, to have dinner together. Gradually, over time, a small part of her began to wish that she could, as the humans say 'bump' into him more often...and that part grew larger and larger. 'I wonder,' she thought 'when did I start loving him?' A question that she had been asking herself for many years, and one for which she had no answer. With John, there had been feelings and emotions that she had felt for no other person. It was if their souls were somehow interconnected, in a way; each one understood how the other felt without words. Being with him opened the doorway to a new part of herself...sometimes confusing, other times exhilarating. Particularly during sex, she thought, grinning. At first, Delenn didn't really know how to handle her feelings - she had expected the price of her change to be loneliness. No Minbari had ever taken an offworlder as mate, and she wasn't about to start now. To make matters worse, both Minbari and the Humans looked upon her with contempt, calling her a freak...among other choice names. John didn't, though. He gave her two of the greatest gifts anyone had ever given her: himself and his love, both of which she treasured highly...even if, at times, he was a grouch.
She had nearly lost them both when John had gone with Anna to Z'ha'dum, and her first reaction was simple: to die. It was bad enough to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of humans - that was war - but to lose the man that had brought her so much happiness was more than she could stand. They weren't even mates, or even lovers then - they had only kissed once - but Delenn knew that in a small corner of her heart they were, in a way. If it hadn't been for the data crystal that John had left behind, would she even be here? Probably not, but she had, at least, gotten him back alive - even if it was for only twenty years, that was enough. Delenn sat reliving her memories, unaware of the eyes upon her...
The man behind those eyes gazed at the woman on the bench, silently wishing that he could be with her, but knowing that was impossible. For the moment, anyway. He started to whistle an old childhood tune, not caring if anyone heard him...which they wouldn't anyway. Not unless you could see ghosts. John Sheridan shifted uncomfortably under the old oak tree as the wind rustled the leaves above him into soft music. 'Who knew that being dead could be so damned uncomfortable?', he thought. Not that it wasn't - he had a number of advantages, now. Like being able to read minds, for instance. Even without reading her mind, however, it wasn't too hard to see what she was thinking about. Z'ha'dum. He grimaced as the name of the place floated through his mind. He didn't have any regrets about going - after all, it had helped eventually end the Great War - but there were times when he wished that he had listened to the Delenn from the future. Seeing Delenn, now and before he died, made that thought run through his mind more and more.
Not that he didn't have a good life, of course - after all, how many people can say that they helped save the universe? Damned few, he decided. On top of that, he had managed to get rid of President Clark, set up a new government on Earth, become the co-leader of the Grand Alliance, and marry a beautiful and intelligent Ambassador. Not bad for a guy whose chief goal in life before Babylon Five was to make Admiral or better in Earthforce. He smiled as he recalled the day that he got married to Delenn, soon after the crisis on Earth and Minbar had ended. *That* had been one hell of a ceremony - Lennier had been so nervous that you might have thought he was the one tying the knot. Getting anyone to officiate at the ceremony, as well as the intense security measures put up by Zack and Ivanova, had been a real pain in the ass. Sheridan had half expected that there would be more security people at the ceremony than actual attendees. Then, of course, there were the usual threats from extremist groups on Earth promising to shorten the life expectancies of the new couple drastically. Sheridan joked in later years that they were the only honeymooning couple on Babylon 5 that were protected by station security, Minbari Warships, Narn War Cruisers, and various League Warships.
Still, though, they had had a pretty good marriage...even if it would last only twenty years. Not that he had had any complaints, though - it was still one of the best times of his life, by a long shot. What they had lost in time they more than made up for in love and companionship, treating each day as if it were their last and keeping the love intact that had blossomed so long ago. Of course there had been the usual arguments, but it was the way they made up that was more interesting - first with words, then with a touch here and a touch there - and eventually both of them would wind up in bed trying to catch their breath after several hours of lovemaking and with neither one willing to recall what the argument had been about in the first place. Even with the demands of paperwork, running the Alliance, and their son, David, they had still managed to keep their hearts, souls, and minds in tune with one another. More importantly, neither had forgotten to say those three little words to each other at least once a day: "I love you."
When he had died - stopped was more the word for it - a beautiful, swirling vortex of Light had appeared and tried to take him to another place, another level of existence. For an instant - a long instant - he heard the voices and saw the faces of friends and relatives long dead and gone. His parents. Marcus. Some of the Agnemmenon crew. Ivanova. Tendrils of light had come out of the glowing whirlpool, gently pulling him, teasing him, closer to it. He wanted so very much to go, to be a part of the Light...but he couldn't do it. He could see the pain on Delenn's face as she leaned over his body, crying, and it nearly tore his heart out to see her like that. No matter how much he wanted to go, he couldn't leave her alone. Without another thought he turned his back on the Light and felt, more than saw, it close. Not that he couldn't call it back, of course - it would always be just a thought away if and when he needed it. Speaking of which...
Sheridan got up, unconsciously brushed imagined dirt and leaves off of his uniform, and walked over to the silent Delenn. He placed his hand in front of her face and closed his eyes...
Delenn was still thinking about John when she imagined that she could see a glowing light - faint, but getting stronger. Not that she was surprised about it, of course - her doctor had warned her that her brain would sometimes - what was that human phrase? 'get its wires crossed' - and she would see occasional patches of light or colors. These episodes had happened very rarely, and almost always faded out after several seconds. This one, though, was getting stronger. Delenn closed her eyes, returning to the familiar darkness, before she opened them again. This time, however, she could see.
The young diplomatic aide to the Minbari Embassy stood among the alien trees, marveling at the beauty of Earth while waiting for Delenn to return.
Like many in the religious caste, she was saddened at the thought that all this life could have been reduced to ash over a simple misunderstanding. She had only arrived on Earth a month ago, yet...it was almost like she had been here before. Strange. Shalenn leaned down to smell the fragrant scent of a nearby flower while wondering where Delenn was. From what her friends had said, Delenn came to this planet once a year, came out to this holy resting place - Shalenn thought the name for it was 'cemetery' - stayed a few days in the capital, then returned to Minbar. Like clockwork, as the humans said. Of course, Shalenn knew who Delenn was. Everyone did.
She was the woman who had broken, then reformed the Grey Council, helped end the Great War, and who took a human as her mate. An accomplished and honored life, even if the events had taken place cycles before Shalenn was born. It was a privilege to escort her wherever she went - even if she was, by looking at her chrono, late. She stood up and began to look for her. It didn't take her long.
She found Delenn sitting on a bench, motionless. Shalenn smiled, releasing the breath that she had been holding. Meditating, she decided. A gentle breeze caressed Shalenn's skin as she pondered what to do next. She didn't want to disturb Delenn, but knew she had to, sooner or later. Shalenn called out Delenn's name once, then twice. No reaction She tried twice more, with the same results. Hesitatingly, Shalenn reached out to gently shake her shoulder and jumped back in fright when Delenn toppled backward onto the ground, dead, with a smile upon her face. As Shalenn pondered what to do next, her eyes were mysteriously drawn to a row of nearby headstones. Despite her religious training, she couldn't stop herself from shivering as she read the inscription on one of the markers:
August 20, 2218
September 8, 2280
I love you, John
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