TOMORROW

By Walter Kingston

 

 

 

(This story takes place the day after the night in "First Third.")

 

 

 

 

*****

John awoke suddenly and stared at the ceiling as he let his eyes focus. "What was that," he wondered to himself. "A dream? That was the most incredible dream I've ever had. Delenn," he continued with a smile on his face as he thought of the passion and tenderness he felt in the dream. But no dreams had ever felt this real. And he'd never remembered so much detail about any normal dream before.

   Then he felt something brush against his leg and he turned his head with a start and saw her lying there, sleeping just inches from his body. Her face so calm, so beautiful and her breathing so slow and steady. It was no dream. It was all coming back now. He had made love to his new wife the night before after she completed the last required portion of her own culture's Sleeping Ritual.

   He laid there, carefully watching her small, sweet face, and he couldn't help but smile as he recalled what had happened the day before. They decided to take what little time they were offered by the recent victory over the First Ones and get married -- there was much work ahead to clean up the mess they left behind. It was a small, mixed ceremony witnessed only by close friends, but it was enough for both of them. They had wanted to "make it official," as he told her two days before the wedding. She agreed and they arranged for a quick, but very special ceremony that honored both of their traditions. They would have a much more public ceremony later. John insisted on it. He wanted the entire galaxy to know how much he loved this woman now sleeping soundly in his bed. "Our bed," he corrected himself.

   After a few more minutes of silent worship, he carefully slipped out from under the covers of the bed and made his way silently to the bathroom. The chronometer on the wall told him it was passed time to start the day. He had made a point of turning off his regular wake up alarm. And Susan had insisted that no one would bother them. He smiled as he recalled her insistence that he and Delenn take the day off. Lennier assured Delenn that he could manage without her. It didn't take much on the part of their friends to get them to agree to it. Afterall, this would be the only honeymoon they might have for some time.

   He got a couple towels ready and started the shower, hoping the gentle sounds of falling water would help Delenn sleep and not wake her. He stepped into the hot, soothing water and let out a deep moan as he let the water flow over his body. It was so relaxing.

   Delenn's eyes slowly opened and, for a moment, she was confused. She knew she wasn't sleeping in her bed. Something was different. The smells, the sounds . . . what was that sound? It dawned on her all at once that she was in John's bed. "Our bed," she corrected herself. She recalled the wedding the day before -- the small reception given to them by their friends, the gifts, the fond wishes, the late return to their new home, the awkward smiles, the kisses . . . A healthy smile grew on her face as she replayed the entire last twenty four hours in her mind.

   The sound. "Water. A shower," she thought, remembering the sound now. She'd become used to it since she began taking them daily on the advice of Commander Ivanova. Suddenly, she realized John wasn't in the bed. She'd been so wrapped up in the warm feelings and happy memories that she failed to realize the thing she loved more than anything else in the universe was missing from her side. She could have hit herself for not realizing earlier. "He must be showering," she realized just as the sounds of the water stopped.

   She remained still on the bed as she saw the door open and light stream in from the bathroom. John emerged, drying his hair with a towel as he walked toward a chair. Delenn smiled again as she observed his thin, muscular body that had given her so much pleasure the night before. She had casually wondered a few times before what he might look like without his clothing. The thoughts, while alarming to her at first, later amused her. She even imagined him without clothing a couple of times while she was with him. She got a kick out of his puzzlement at her sudden smiles and strange looks. She would never have allowed herself such thoughts before meeting John and going through everything that had happened to them. But it was different now. He was hers. They were man and wife. And they were lovers in a physical sense now as well.

   As John put the towel down and reached for his underpants, he casually looked at the bed and could see, in the dim light that the open bathroom door washed over their bed, that Delenn was awake. Her eyes sparkling in the light as she watched him carefully. He caught her gaze and smiled. "Good morning, Mrs. Sheridan," he spoke with a chuckle.

   Delenn broadened her smile and responded softly, "Hello, John." John slipped his legs into his underpants and slid them up to cover his nakedness. "Awww," Delenn sighed, "don't do that. I enjoy watching you, my love."

   John laughed softly. "Lights," he commanded. Delenn squinted as the bright light invaded her gentle darkness. "Sorry, honey, but it's too damned cold out here after a shower. I'm freezing to death!" He pulled his undershirt over his head and down his body. As he opened his dresser to remove articles of casual clothing, his face turned a bit more serious. "I still can't believe it, Delenn." Her smile dropped as well as she listened to him. "I can't believe that I love you so much it hurts inside. I can't believe that you love me too. And I can't believe that you agreed to become my wife. I'm the luckiest man in the whole universe right now, and . . ." He turned back to face her, "And I love you, dear. More than I can possibly describe. I'm so happy." He smiled again as he set down his clothes selection and sprang over to the bed to lay beside his wife.

   Delenn smiled as he approached, and she pulled back the covers, inviting him in to share her warmth. As his leg brushed up against her thigh, she sharply sucked in a breath and jerked back. "You're so cold, John," she said quickly.

   "I'm sorry." John eased his leg back and leaned over to kiss Delenn's forehead gently.

   She smiled. "You can kiss me on the lips now, John. We're married."

   He smiled back. "If you insist," he said quietly as he placed his lips on hers and they exchanged a slow, warm kiss.

   John turned onto his back and Delenn took it upon herself to warm him by laying her leg and arm across his body and gently rubbing him as she buried her face in his shoulder.

   They laid there for several minutes, just taking in the closeness of one another. And then John's stomach growled much to Delenn's surprise. "John?"

   "Yes, dear?"

   "I think there's something making noise in your stomach," she said curiously. John was unsure if she was kidding or if she seriously didn't know what it was.

   "I'm just hungry," he finally replied with a smile. "I better go make some breakfast." He turned and kissed her gently on the lips and then slipped out of her embrace and out from under the covers, to her obvious displeasure. "You better get ready, it's already ten." He moved back to the dresser to complete the donning of his clothes.

   Delenn rolled onto her back and pulled the covers tightly up around her. "I don't want to get up," she pleaded, almost like a young child. "It's so warm in here and I can smell you," she said as she turned her head toward his pillow and pulled it to her face to take a deep breath through her nose.

   John laughed. "As much as I'd like to sleep through our honeymoon, I also want to show the whole world how much I love you. And," he said as he turned to her with a wry smile, "I have a few surprises for you. So get up, lazy."

   Delenn groaned. "All right." She threw the covers aside and slipped to her feet. John's jaw dropped as he examined her sleek, naked body in the full light of the day.

   "My God, Delenn. You're even more beautiful in the light," he said in awe as he looked up to meet her eyes. Delenn blushed and grabbed for the robe which was still on the floor where she had dropped it the night before. She quickly put it on, averting her eyes from her husband. "You're not shy all of a sudden, are you," he asked with a chuckle.

   She smiled but didn't reply as she glanced at him and walked passed, into the bathroom. "Breakfast'll be waiting for you when you're done, okay," he asked through the door as he buttoned his shirt.

   "Okay," she replied. He walked to the bedroom door and paused. "I don't remember closing these," he thought. Then he shook his head, opened the doors and walked, barefoot, into the kitchen.

   He heard the water of the shower start and smiled. "Imagine. Delenn. My wife. In my . . . our home, taking a shower. God, I am so, so happy. Nothing is going to spoil this day. Nothing." He turned with a new sense of purpose, knelt down to open the refrigerator and slid open the freezer compartment. He removed a package wrapped in white paper and set it on the counter, then leaned down to remove more items.

   Delenn, too, had learned to love the feeling of the hot water running down her body. So many human things had given her a strange sense of relaxation. She almost fell asleep in the hot water before remembering that she had to wash herself and prepare for the breakfast that John was busy making for them.

   She emerged from the bathroom and made her way to the small bag of clothes she brought with her the night before. She removed a casual brown and gray dress which John had never seen her wear before. He'd always seen her wearing her "business" clothes, whether they be the robes she wore as ambassador or the robe she wore as Entil'Zha. She slipped into her garments and went back into the bathroom to get her hair just right.

   John hummed an unrecognizable tune as he continued to prepare a meal for their first breakfast as a married couple. "Now, this I know how to make," he thought with a smile, remembering the disastrous attempt at flarn he had made the year before. He had been trying to honor and impress Delenn, but he knew it didn't taste quite right. She was much too polite to tell him, but he knew.

   Delenn walked from the bedroom and paused to look over at John, in the kitchen, working his magic. The aroma was new to her. She tried to place it, but couldn't. It was a deep, meaty smell -- that much she knew, but she couldn't identify the source.

   John looked up, sensing that she was in the room and met her eyes with his. And then he observed what she was wearing. A sudden shock of recognition ran down his spine as he realized where he had seen that dark dress before. Delenn had been wearing it, or one like it, in the future when they were on Centauri Prime. His eyes drifted away from her and his mind wandered from the present as he remembered more of that experience. It all seemed so vague now. But he smiled when he again remembered David. He snapped back to the present and looked up for Delenn, but she had moved and was sitting opposite him at the counter now, watching him carefully with a smile on her face.

   "What are you making," she asked.

   He grinned. "A special surprise," he said as he continued to flip the contents of the small frying pan. "It's some bacon I managed to get a few months ago. I forced Marcus to tell me how he managed to get some on the station for Susan. I decided to save it for a special occasion. I think this is as special as they get."

   "What is bacon?"

   The question threw John for a moment. "What is bacon," he thought. "What do you mean, 'What is bacon?' Bacon is bacon!" And then he realized that, of course, she wouldn't know. She didn't wake up Sunday mornings as a kid to the smell of bacon, sausage, eggs, and French toast coming from her mother's kitchen. She'd have no way of knowing.

   "It's meat from a pig," he said as he looked into her eyes. "I wish I could do the whole thing and make some sausage, French toast, eggs, hash browns . . . but this is all I could get." He looked at her with sudden concern. "I hope you like it." He lowered his face and continued working on the meal as he continued, "I'll make up some toast and pour some orange juice too. It's not much, but anything would be special so long as I get to wake up to your sweet face."

   Delenn wasn't sure she wanted to know exactly what a pig was. Maybe it was best to leave some things unknown for now. "I'm sure I'll love it, . . . honey," she said, uncertain if she'd used the right term of endearment for that context.

   "Well, if you . . ." John started before realizing what she'd just said. He snapped his head up and stared at her, his mouth still open in mid-sentence. She still wasn't sure if she'd said the right thing and her questioning expression cued him to that fact. He smiled. "Thank you, Delenn."

   They stared at each other for a moment until Delenn looked down at the smoking pan and cleared her throat to get his attention. "Oh!" John quickly removed the bacon from the pan and set it on the paper towel. "Well, I hope you like it crunchy. We can eat it here, if you like," John said, indicating the counter at which Delenn was already sitting. Delenn nodded her approval as she rested her elbows on the counter and used her hands to cradle her head and watch him.

   He patted the bacon dry of the grease that covered it as he placed some slices of bread into a small toaster. Then he reached into the refrigerator and brought out a pitcher of orange juice. Reaching into the cabinet above the counter, he removed two glasses and poured some juice. He set a glass down in front of Delenn and she took it and sipped the juice. He looked at her as if for approval and she smiled and nodded. "It's good," she said finally.

   "I'm glad. If you didn't like orange juice, I'm afraid the marriage would be off," he said with mock seriousness with didn't last as he smiled and laughed softly. He prepared a plate with two strips of bacon and buttered toast for Delenn and set it down in front of her as he made an identical plate for himself. Then he turned everything off, pulled up a stool and sat down opposite her.

   Delenn watched how John ate the bacon and then she took a piece in her fingers and lifted it to her mouth to taste a small bite. She chewed it for a moment and savored the taste. "This is quite good," she said as she took a larger bite. "Ummmm," was the only sound she could make as she finished the first piece. "Yes, I like this."

   "Glad to hear it," John said as he took a sip of orange juice.

   Before John could finish half of his meal, Delenn's plate was clean. "I didn't know I was so hungry," she said, startled that she had eaten so much so quickly.

   "Well, you did have quite a workout last night," he responded with a grin.

   Delenn frowned at him and then smiled. "Any more," she asked, looking at the left over bacon.

   "Help yourself," he said, offering her the towel. She quickly consumed the remaining three pieces of bacon.

   As she drank the rest of her orange juice and John finished his meal, they chatted. "So, what do you want to do today, Mrs. Sheridan?"

   "I don't know," she said absently as she studied his features. A look a concern suddenly appeared on her face when she noticed a small, fresh scab on his cheek. "What happened to you? How were you hurt?"

   John looked confused and then suddenly realized what she was referring to and reached his hand up to nearly touch the wound. "Oh, nothing. I just need to learn to watch your head when you turn over at night, that's all."

   Delenn, realizing what he meant took a sudden breath and sadness replaced her look of concern. "Oh, John, I'm so sorry. I should have been more careful."

   "It's not your fault," he chuckled. "I just have a dangerous wife. It's a challenge, sleeping with a well armed woman," he joked.

   John gathered the dishes from the breakfast and placed them in the sink as Delenn watched him carefully. "It was a lovely breakfast, John. Thank you very much."

   "Any time, honey. Any time." He set the dishes in the sink and moved around the counter and up behind Delenn, who was still sitting in her stool. He reached around and embraced her from behind, hugging her and smelling the scent of her newly washed hair. He released her from his embrace and took her by the elbow, encouraging her to spin around on the stool. Then he kissed her gently, but firmly on the lips.

   "So, as I was asking, what do you want to do today? They did make us promise to take the day off, you know," John reminded her.

   "As long as I can be with you, John, I don't mind what we do. How about a walk through the gardens?"

   "That'll work. And then I want to take you shopping."

   "What for?"

   "It's a surprise," he said with a devious grin.

   

   

   They had been walking down the path for nearly two hours since it departed from the Zen Garden. This particular path wound its way from the Green Sector, through most of the central gardens, and then back. They'd been talking and looking and holding each other's hand the entire time. Most of the discussion had surrounded life in general, but some drifted to work related topics. When that happened, they both changed the subject quickly. This way their day, and they wouldn't ruin it with work.

   "Look," Delenn whispered to John, pointing her eyes inconspicuously toward a pair of minbari, one male and one female, walking toward them on the path. John looked in their direction and studied them. Their dress made it clear to him that the male was worker caste and the female, religious. But, apart from them walking together and talking quietly, he couldn't see anything unusual about them.

   "What about them," he asked her softly.

   "They're in love," she replied.

   John looked again, but couldn't for the life of him tell how she would know that just by looking at them. "How can you tell," he asked, puzzled. "The way they're walking," Delenn replied, amused. She could see the perplexed look on his face grow worse. She let out a little giggle and continued, "I suppose it's a minbari thing," she said, more serious now. "We do not walk together just like that with one of the opposite gender, especially when in another caste, unless we are close -- unless we think we are in love."

   "Why don't you just hold hands, like we're doing?"

   "Hands, and the act of touching, have very specific meaning in our culture. The simple, and very pleasurable," she smiled at him, "act of holding hands while walking is something we don't have in our culture." She returned her gaze down the path as she continued, "They may not hold hands as we do, John, but I can tell that they are in love." She turned back to him and smiled. "Can you not see it?"

   John turned his eyes back down the path and studied them more carefully. There was a spring in their walk, a closeness in their distance and a symmetry in their gate which he hadn't quite noticed before. "Yeah, I suppose I can."

   As the two couples passed, John caught the gaze of the female and gave her a quick wink and a smile, which confused her as she turned her head around in an attempt to figure out the meaning behind the gesture. But it was quickly forgotten as she turned back and continued her walk with her love.

   "You know, Delenn, the whole aspect of minbari courtship has stumped me ever since you told me about your parents." Delenn's smile faded slightly as she looked down at the path they were continuing to walk. "I mean, why did your mother and father have you if she knew she wanted to join the Sisters of Valeria?"

   "It's . . .," she paused. She was going to say it would be difficult for a non-minbari, but that was a poor excuse. John had been open with her and, while her training and upbringing in a culture that taught a strict rationing of knowledge had played well in the past, it had been nothing but trouble in her dealings with John and she had made a promise in her heart that she would never keep things from him again.

   "They did love each other," she continued. "My father never stopped talking about how much he loved my mother until the day he went away. But my mother had a calling of her heart. To a minbari, a calling of the heart cannot be ignored. It was a calling of my heart that led me here to Babylon Five. And I'm very, very glad that I did not ignore it." She smiled up at him, and he returned the expression of joy.

   "But they did love each other. My mother couldn't bear to leave my father alone, " she laughed, "so she insisted they have a child so that he would not be alone when she went off to the Sisters. And that's where I come in," she said as if John didn't get the implication. "It also didn't hurt that with our declining population, children were greatly desired by our society."

   She took a quick breath and cocked her head as she remembered her younger days. "You know, I was actually very rare."

   "That I know," John interjected with a smile.

   Delenn grinned. "No, I mean that an only child is very rare on Minbar these days. Most families try to have as many children as they can handle in an attempt to bring the population back up."

   "Then why are your people still declining in number," John asked.

   "We don't know for certain. A larger and larger number of minbari are incapable of having children." She looked sad for a moment. "In fact, John, I may not be able to give you any children either."

   John could see the sorrow on Delenn's face as a tear seemed to well up in her eye. He stopped, took her shoulders and turned her toward him. "I don't care, Delenn. I love you and like I told you before: I want to spend every moment of the rest of my life with you. If we can have children, then that would be wonderful, and I couldn't think of a better way for you to have a piece of me once I'm gone." The meaning and reality of those words hit home as John realized that fate was also going to take him from the one he loved some day. "But if we don't, it won't lessen my love for you, nor will it lessen what we have here and now . . . and later, in that place you've spoken of before -- that place beyond all of this, 'Where no shadows fall,' you said -- I'll be there for you when you come. With or without children. I adore you, Delenn. I love you and nothing will ever change that."

   Delenn was clearly and solidly weeping now, her tears streaking down her cheeks as she listened to John's admission of undying love for her. "I . . . I honestly don't think I deserve you, John. I love you so much it hurts me too. And whenever I've had my doubts about my choices in my life, all I have to do is think about you and all my fears, all my worries go away. How have I been so blessed with the love of someone so special in the universe? How?"

   "Hey, anyone who likes my bacon can't be all bad," he smiled.

   Delenn laughed and John wiped the tears from her face. "Let's get going," he said as he turned around and spied a nearby food stand. "I'm starving, how about you?"

   Delenn regained her composure and responded, "Yes. I could . . . how do you say? 'Eat a horse'?"

   John laughed. "Yup, that's how we say it. Come over here," he continued as he led her to the stand. "Ahh . . . I haven't had a good dog in ages."

   "Dog? Isn't that a human pet?"

   "Uhh, yeah, but these are hot dogs and they aren't made from real dogs. They just call 'em that."

   "What are they made from?"

   "Uhh . . . good question. I don't really know. But they're really good," he grinned. "Come on."

   They approached the stand and walked up to the attendant. "Two foot longs," he said eagerly as he readied his credit chit. "You're gonna love these," he explained to Delenn as the man placed two very long hot dogs into buns, wrapped them in napkins and handed them to John. John handed his chit to the attendant and, after the correct sum was charged to his account, returned it to his pocket. He handed one to Delenn and moved over to the condiment counter. A bit lost, Delenn followed him, studying the unfamiliar food product she now held.

   John set his down and took Delenn's from her. "What do you want on yours," he asked.

   "Umm . . . I'm not sure. What do they have?"

   "Let's see . . . You've got relish, onions, pickles, mustard, ketchup, some green stuff, . . . uhh . . . I don't know what this is, artichoke hearts, chili, cheese . . . you name it."

   "What do you recommend?"

   "I love a good chili cheese dog, myself. Do you like spicy food?"

   "I suppose. Make me a chili cheese dog then, honey," Delenn calmly said as she looked down at the row of hot dog decorations before her.

   With a big grin, John quickly prepared two chili cheese dogs and handed one back to Delenn. She smelled it carefully and, again, waited for John to take the first bite before taking a chance with her own. She carefully bit off a small piece of the meat that stuck out from beyond the bun. It was a bit chewy, but it seemed tasty.

   "Erm, let's keep walking," John suggested as he chewed on a bite. Delenn nodded and they continued walking down the path, Delenn quickly devouring the new delicacy.

   Again, she finished before John, to his amazement. "God, you eat fast, Delenn."

   "I'm just very hungry today for some reason. And it's not that, John Sheridan!" She smiled as she anticipated that his reply might echo the one from breakfast.

   "Well, how'd you like it?"

   "It was . . . interesting."

   Soon John had finished his lunch as well and they discarded the remains in one of the many refuse slots along the path. As they continued their walk, they once again held hands and talked.

   "I wish I could get in touch with my folks, Delenn," John said with a sad smile. "I want them to know about us."

   Delenn looked upon her husband's face and felt the sadness he must have felt at not being able to communicate with his family. "I'm sorry, John. Maybe someday soon we'll be able to see them in person."

   "I hope so. But, you know what? I can get in touch with Liz."

   "Liz," Delenn asked, confused by the casual mention of a name she had not heard before.

   John turned to her and realized that he had never mentioned his sister to Delenn before. "I'm sorry, I guess I never told you about Liz. She's my kid sister."

   Delenn smiled broadly. "You have a sister?"

   "Yup. She's married with children of her own. She's not on Earth, so I should be able to get in touch with her. Tell ya what: Let's give her a call when we get back tonight, okay?"

   "All right. I think I'd like to meet your sister."

   ----------

   It was late afternoon by the time they neared the Zocalo. They walked through the crowd toward the entrance to the marketplace, John tugging a tired Delenn along as quickly as she could move.

   "I'm quite hungry again, John. Can't we please stop and eat?"

   "Not yet. We have a little Sheridan family tradition to carry out first."

   "Is that what the surprise is, Mr. Sheridan?"

   "You'll find out in good time, Mrs. Sheridan. All in good time."

   It took some doing, but they finally found their way to the exact center of the Zocalo. And then they stopped. John released Delenn and turned around in a complete circle before stopping to gaze upon his wife. "Here we are."

   "Yes, here we are. But what are we doing here?"

   "Shopping," he said with a wry smile. He wanted to play this game as long as he could. He just loved teasing Delenn. The very thought of an ex-Earthforce officer teasing an ex-Grey Council member made him laugh inside.

   "For what?" She was getting wise to his game.

   John laughed. He couldn't stand it anymore. "It's a tradition in my family -- going back as far as anyone can remember -- that a new couple go shopping on the first day of their new life together and purchase something that is theirs and theirs alone. We both came into this marriage with possessions of our own, but we don't have anything that belongs to both of us."

   He reached down and took her hands in his and looked her straight in the eye. "Now is the time to buy something for our home, Delenn Sheridan. Where do you want to start shopping?"

   She smiled as she stared into his eyes. She was touched at his family's tradition that acted to bond a new couple together and she was even more touched that he wished so much to share that tradition with her. "Anywhere you want, darling." Then she added, "But let's hurry, please? I'm still starving!"

   ----------

   As they walked toward home down, John noticed that every station crewmember they neared seemed to notice them and change direction. It was beginning to annoy him. Then he saw a member of his flight crew leaning against a wall, reading a copy of Universe Today. He decided to approach her cautiously.

   They stopped just behind Ericson and John spoke, "Well, hello, Ericson."

   The crewman turned with a start and a look of nervousness flashed across her face as she recognized the Captain. "Uhh, yes, Sir . . . I'm . . . a . . . sorry. Am I blocking your way?"

   "No, but I would like to know why everyone is avoiding me today," he asked with a stern face. She knew she couldn't weasel her way out of a direct question like that, so with a deep breath, she spilled the beans.

   "Commander Ivanova threat . . . errr, told us all to leave you two alone today, Sir."

   "I see," he replied, his face still stern. "Very well. Thank you, Ericson."

   "You're welcome, Sir. Umm, may I go now?"

   "Yes." And with that, Ericson was gone, dashing around a corner faster than John thought he'd ever seen her move before. He couldn't help but chuckle and smile as he thought of the poor station personnel that had to live in fear of Ivanova whenever they saw him coming down the hall.

   "Remind me to thank Susan," Delenn said lightly.

   "Yes, ma'am," he replied as they resumed their walk to their home, which was just a few corridors away.

   The door opened to reveal their quarters, but not just as they had left them. Out of place items had been put into place, the sink was clear of dishes, and the air smelled of a thorough cleaning. And there were several small boxes sitting in a neat pile in one corner.

   "Susan," John grumbled as he moved to the kitchen counter and set down the small, ceramic dog that he'd been carrying ever since they purchased it at a shop in the Zocalo.

   "Yes, definitely remind me to thank her," Delenn added as she moved behind him. "I'll place the leftover food in the kitchen for later. Somehow, I think I'll be hungry again soon."

   "I wonder what's in those boxes," John asked, moving toward them.

   "That would be my things," Delenn replied. "I asked Lennier to bring them over today. It's not everything I have, obviously, but it's some of my more precious things. I wanted to share them with you."

   "Oh." John seemed a bit surprised, which alarmed Delenn.

   "I'm sorry, John. Maybe that was presumptuous of me. I just thought . . ."

   "Oh, no, Delenn. No, that's fine. This is your home too. I just didn't bother to think about your things, that's all. I'm the one who should be apologizing. That was pretty selfish of me. Please, please bring over as much stuff as you want." He smiled and moved over to her, taking her into a soft embrace. "I'd love to go through it all with you. I really want to learn everything there is to know about you, Delenn. Everything."

   "You already know some things that no one else knows, John," she replied with a smile as she leaned up and kissed him lovingly. They simply stood there, hugging for several minutes. Just breathing and listening to each other, eyes closed, not wanting to part for anything in the world.

   When they finally separated, Delenn moved to the bedroom. "I need to freshen up a bit. I'll be out in a minute."

   "That's fine," said John. "I'm going to place that call to Liz now. I'll let you know when she's on-line."

   "Okay, darling," shot Delenn as she disappeared into the sleeping chambers. As Delenn headed for the bathroom, something caught her eye. She turned and looked at the nightstand. There, sparkling from the light of the front room, she saw a crystal gok that had been given to her by her father when she was just a child. She moved to the bed and touched it reverently. She'd taken the figurine everywhere she called home -- temple, the Council, her quarters on Babylon Five. And now it was here. "Lennier must have brought it," she thought. "I have to thank a lot of people," she reminded herself silently.

   *BLIP* The display sparked to life with an image of Liz's husband, Dan. "Well, John," Dan smiled in recognition of his brother-in-law. "Hey, man, how are ya?"

   John smiled. "Fine, Dan, just fine. It's been a long time since I've spoken with you guys. Hey, is Liz around?"

   "She sure is. Let me go grab her. Hang on." Dan disappeared from view and John could make out distant calls and Liz's voice scream, "Johnny?!"

   John turned around to see Delenn approaching from the bedroom. "Just in time, honey. Liz's husband is getting her." He welcomed her by stretching his arm out to wrap around her waist as she took up a position next to him. Then he turned his attention back to the display.

   The young face of a girl popped into view. "Hello, Uncle John," the girl yelled and then ducked out of view before John could reply. John chuckled and Delenn smiled. They heard her call in the distance, "Mommy, Uncle John has a girlfriend!" And he could hear Liz reply, "What?" And then she yelled, "I'm coming, John, hang on!"

   They looked at each other and couldn't help but laugh at his niece's pronouncement. They looked back as Liz popped into view. Her eyes wide and her smile from ear to ear. He eyebrows fell slightly when she saw Delenn, but she quickly got over it. "Johnny! Why on Earth haven't you called before now?"

   "I'm sorry, Sis. Things have been really crazy around here lately."

   "I know, I've heard." Her eyes turned as if looking toward Delenn. "My rude brother probably isn't going to introduce us. I'm Liz, his little sister. You must be Delenn." Delenn's smile turned to surprise upon hearing her name before introducing herself.

   John looked a bit stunned himself. "Liz, how did you know?"

   "Well, she matches the description you gave me when I was there last time, remember? Remember when your jaw dropped to the floor when you first saw her," she said with a twinkle in her eye. Delenn turned to John with a mock stern face and John blushed. "I'm not stupid. I could tell then that you found her attractive, John," she continued, knowing it would increase his level of discomfort.

   "Uhh," was all John could muster as he looked sheepishly at Delenn.

   Delenn turned to the display and addressed Liz, "Thank you, Liz. That made my day."

   "You're welcome," Liz replied as she chuckled outloud. "Anyway, why did you call, John? Knowing you, it wasn't just to say hello."

   John calmed down a bit, and the redness of his face started to diminish. "Well, I wanted to tell you, personally, that . . . well, that . . ."

   "Come on, John, spit it out," Liz urged.

   Delenn turned toward Liz and spoke bluntly, "That John and I were married yesterday." John turned toward her in surprise and she gave him an expression that almost said, "Well? You sure weren't going to say it this century."

   Liz's jaw dropped open and a excited scream emerged from the depths of her lungs. "Yes! Oh, John . . . Delenn, I'm so happy for you two!" She turned off-camera and spoke, "Did you hear that? They're married!"

   Dan's head popped in from the side, "Congratulations, you two!"

   "Thanks," said John. "I really wanted to be able to tell Mom and Dad as well, but, you know how things are between us and Earth right now." His face dropped and sadness traced upon his features.

   Liz too became saddened. "I know, John. I know they'd both be crazy about this. Well, Mom might . . . well, you know."

   "Yeah, I know," he replied with a sigh. "Anyway, I wanted to be sure to call and let you know." He turned to Delenn and continued, "I asked her to marry me a few weeks ago." Their eyes locked and the smiles they shared spoke volumes to Liz who was sucking up every moment and every detail.

   "If you two keep that up, I think my vid unit's gonna melt," Liz joked. "Anyway, Delenn?"

   Delenn slowly and reluctantly turned away from John. "Yes, Liz?"

   "Let me see 'em."

   Delenn was confused. "See what?"

   "The rings, the rings!"

   Delenn smiled as she held up her left hand close to the camera so that Liz could see the detail on the engagement ring and wedding band that she now wore.

   "I'm gonna get her a better engagement ring someday," John interjected.

   "You most certainly are not," Delenn stated firmly, causing John to chuckle quietly. "Nothing can be better than that which was given out of love, John. I don't want another. I have all that I want." Delenn's hand slipped down from the camera and they faced each other again, eyes and hands touching, roaming each other completely.

   "Okay, we better call this off. You two seem to have other things on your mind right now. I'll talk to you later, John."

   John tried to turn his head from Delenn but barely managed a slight nod in the direction of the video display. "Yeah, okay. Talk to you later, Liz. Bye."

   Liz laughed. "You two! Bye, big brother." The display switched off and the two lovers closed into a tight embrace. They stared deep into each other's eyes for several moments before the attraction became too much to resist and they locked their mouths in a hungry, passionate kiss.

   When the kiss finally ended, they stayed in the embrace and Delenn rested her head on John's chest. As John gently stroked her hair and she tenderly rubbed his back, his thoughts returned to his parents. He wished more than anything to be able to speak with them again -- to show them his new wife and, for some reason, he needed to get their approval. He new it was childish to want his parents' approval, and he knew he'd love Delenn just the same without it, but he really wanted it.

   He gently pushed them apart and looked down at Delenn with a smile. "I'm beat. I'm gonna go change. Maybe we can go through some of your things before bed tonight?"

   "I'd like that."

   John kissed her gently on the cheek and then moved to the bedroom. Delenn glided over to the pile of boxes, taking the top one and returning to the sofa, setting the box on the coffee table. As she opened it and started to examine the contents, she spoke to John in the other room. "Liz certainly seems to be a very nice lady, John."

   From the bedroom, John responded, "Yes. She's the good one of the litter." Delenn smiled at his false modesty.

   "What did she mean about your mother?"

   She waited for his response, but none came. "John?"

   Still nothing. Concerned, she got up from the sofa and walked slowly toward the bedroom door. As she got nearer, she could hear something. It was John. And he was crying. She quickened her pace and then paused when she reached the doorway. She saw John sitting on the edge of the bed in his underclothes, his elbows resting on his knees and his face resting in his hands, sobbing.

   "John," she asked softly. His tears continued and he didn't raise his head. She was very worried now and swiftly moved to the bed and sat down beside him, reaching her arms around him. "John, please don't cry. Please."

   He reached one arm out and pulled her into an embrace, burying his face into her shoulder as his tears slowed and he took a deep breath. "Oh, God, Delenn, I miss them. And, the really crappy part is . . . I may never see them again. Doing what I did may have put their lives in jeopardy. I could never live with myself if anything happened to them because of what I did."

   "I know, John. I know. It's okay. They'll be all right. We have to believe."

   "I still wish I had your faith, Delenn."

   She took his head in her hands and lifted it up to hers. "You have my faith now and more, John; You have me. No matter what happens, we'll handle it. Together."

   She carefully wiped the tears from his face as he looked warmly upon her. "I love you, Delenn Sheridan."

   She grabbed his head again and pulled it toward her and they kissed tenderly. The kiss grew more heated and soon John found himself reaching for the fastener of her dress. With seeming expertise, he quickly loosened the top of her dress and gently pushed her back onto the bed as their kisses continued.

   Delenn broke away, gasping for breath as she asked, "John, what about my things?"

   "Tomorrow," John mumbled as he nibbled at her neck. "Lights off."

 

*****

 

 

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