Apologies for the incredibly long delay. A few weeks ago when I noticed that it had almost been A YEAR I decided that the 1 year anniversary of the last update of this story had to be the date I updated it again. And here we are, exactly one year after chapter 25! Enjoy!
Setting of the next scene: season 5, episode 2 ("The Long Night of Londo Mollari"). This was, in my opinion, and incredibly well written episode, centered around Londo - but this story isn't about him so I will just take the bits I need from this episode and move on.
They are back on Babylon 5, and while they will both miss the place once they move to Minbar, it has been hectic to say the least. An assassin had tried to kill John before he'd even taken the oath to become president of the Interstellar Alliance. The incident has stressed that the war may be over, but not all disagreements have been settled yet. Still, the newlyweds are finding a routine, alternating between his quarters and hers for as long as they will remain on the station. Delenn is getting used to John's wet socks in the bathroom, knowing that this ritual will be coming along with them to Minbar once the new headquarters for the Interstellar Alliance are ready to receive them. John is getting used to not being in charge of the station anymore, now that Captain Elizabeth Lochley has been assigned Commander of Babylon 5. And although he had specifically asked for her to be given the command, now that Susan Ivanova has taken a year off, it's still an adjustment not to know every single thing that goes on on the station anymore.
And then Delenn receives word that Lennier plans to leave. He hasn't said anything to her, she has to hear it from Ruell, who calls her to offer to arrange a replacement quickly. It puzzles her and she confronts her long-time aid the next morning, when he enters her quarters and sits with her to go over her day, as if nothing at all is the matter.
Lennier tells her that he didn't know that they would move so quickly, and that he had planned to tell her tonight, after dinner. She isn't sure if she should believe him. She senses his reluctance to explain his reasons for wanting to leave, and in all fairness, she has an idea about them.
"I feel that you don't need me here anymore, Delenn," Lennier starts.
"That is not true, Lennier," she tells him quickly, but Lennier maintains that it is true.
"You have Sheridan now. He is now your other half, and … I'm … in the way."
Lennier's words confirm what she had feared and she knows she is being selfish by wanting him to stay. But then Lennier adds,
"I'm not comfortable here anymore, Delenn," and it is probably the most honest he has ever been with her. "It's not your fault, and it's not his fault. I can't explain it anymore than that but …"
When he falls silent, his eyes looking anywhere but at her, Delenn whispers,
"I know why."
Lennier stills completely then, and the admission is clear in his eyes and his nervous smile. After a few beats, he stands up and takes a few steps away from Delenn before telling her,
"So, I think it would be best for both of us if I were elsewhere."
She reminds him that he swore himself to her side and Lennier's passionate response confirms that she is wading into dangerous territory.
"I will be there, Delenn, when you need me! Or if you …"
He stops himself but she knows what he is thinking. She also knows that day will never come. She can never have those feelings for the man, but she can't bring herself to say it out loud. Lennier continues to tell her that he will be joining the Rangers and Delenn is shocked. Lennier says it has to do with Marcus's death but when he adds that he aims to earn her respect, too, she knows his motives are not pure. And while he acknowledges that she already respects him, he adds nervously that he wishes her to respect him in more ways. He has to stop himself from saying too much again and Delenn knows that if Minbari blushed, Lennier's face would have turned beet-red by now. Basically, he wants to prove to her that he can be the kind of man she could love. She knows it is wrong to ask him to stay, knowing for certain now how he feels about her, and so she accepts his decision.
Later, when she is alone with John and her husband asks her if there is anything he can do, she all but snaps at him and John's eyes widen in surprise.
"Is it because of me?" he asks.
Delenn hesitates, but then admits,
"In part … I think so."
"Yeah, I was afraid of that," John sighs.
He hasn't missed how his wife's aide dotes on her and he has wanted him out of the way a few times. He remembers wondering if there was anything going on between the two of them long before he admitted his own feelings for the Ambassador. It seems like ages ago now, but if Lennier does have romantic feelings for Delenn, maybe his suspicions back then had been warranted after all.
"Well, as we say back on earth, three is a crowd," he tells Delenn, who mumbles back,
"On Minbar, three is sacred."
"Well, I don't think I'm ready to handle that one, Delenn."
His smile fades when Delenn stares up at him, clearly not appreciating his attempt at humor. They agree that Lennier needs to follow the calling of his heart, but John questions Lennier's motives, just like Delenn has. The universe will teach him what he needs to know, she concludes, and they drop the subject after that.
When Lennier is ready to leave with the other Rangers who have come to take him to their training facility, Delenn is there too, to see him off.
"I'm yours, heart, body and soul," Lennier vows. "I will see you again in a little while. And with luck, I will perhaps be a better person."
"That is not possible Lennier," Delenn tells him, tears filling her eyes. "But you're welcome to try."
When he marches off with his new team, Delenn feels alone for a few moments, until John joins her. He wraps an arm around her and pulls her close and she knows it's for the best. She belongs to John, heart, body and soul, and she knows she will never belong to another, not now and not after John is gone. She will miss Lennier but she needs to let him find his own way.
John guides her back to his quarters gently, without speaking. There is a quiet understanding between her and her husband, that grounds her and strengthens her. She is where she belongs and in the end, there isn't much she can do for Lennier. He needs to find peace for himself and part of her hopes he will find another woman to love while he is away.
It is still early and their first meeting is still a few hours away. John suggests sitting together for a while. Looking at her handsome husband with his newly grown beard makes her feel warm inside despite the fact that she will miss her loyal aide. Maybe Lennier is right, that he would get in the way - but he would mostly be in his own way because her heart cannot be distracted. She leans into her husband, taking him by surprise, and kisses him passionately. She can feel him relax and give in to the moment within a second. She needs his closeness now and she knows she will need it always, before facing a new day. John's arms wrap around her like a cocoon and she holds him close to her.
"Are you alright?" John whispers after a few minutes of holding her.
"Yes," she whispers against the soft, warm skin of his neck. "I love you so much."
His arms tighten around her and he kisses her cheek.
"Just let me know if there's anything I can do for you," he mumbles against her skin.
She smiles and closes her eyes.
"You are already doing it."
Setting of the next scenes: season 5, episode 5 ("Learning Curve") - adding a missing scene that I really wished we had been allowed to witness!
A while later, a delegation of the Rangers comes to visit Delenn, all four of them Minbari. At one point, Sech Turval - Delenn's old teacher and a former Anla'Shok - pulls her aside to talk to her about one of his newer recruits. Lennier. He is very concerned about him and explains,
"He is training much harder than he should. He's taking on too much, pushing himself to the limit in combat training. Sometimes he's reckless. I … I wonder if he is trying to prove something. Maybe to me, maybe to himself or … maybe to someone else?"
Delenn sighs when she glances at her old friend.
"Let us say only that uh .. I'm also concerned. Watch him for me, Turval. If he continues in this way, let me know."
"Of course," Turval says with a smile. "And if you should ever need somebody to talk to, Delenn, I hope you'll remember your old teacher from time to time."
It is her turn to smile when she tells him,
"I will. Thank you, Turval."
They greet each other formally, and then the older man leaves Delenn alone with her thoughts. She had been afraid that this might happen. Her mild-mannered aide is trying to become more like a warrior because John is from the Human equivalent of the warrior caste. His motive to join the Rangers is indeed impure, and she can only hope he will come to realize this before something goes wrong and he gets hurt.
But there is not much time to worry about Lennier when she finds out something that throws her off completely.
The newlyweds are in John's quarters. Delenn is sitting in bed while John is still in the main room, and they are each going over a few documents before going to sleep. Then Delenn remembers a conversation she had earlier with Captain Elizabeth Lochley, the station Commander. They were discussing a decision made by John that apparently surprised the Captain. Delenn brings it up with John.
"She said, it's not like you. What did she mean by that, John?"
John joins her in the bedroom and closes the sliding doors before turning to face her. The expression on his face puzzles her and she puts her papers away.
"I mean, that is something someone would say who knows another person very well, is it not?" she questions further.
John takes a deep breath and sits down on his side of the bed, not quite facing his wife. He clears his throat and admits,
"Yes. Yes, it is."
Delenn tilts her head and watches her husband's profile. He is clearly not at ease and she doesn't understand. Then she feels something tighten in her stomach. It's not that feeling of tiny fluttering insects that she's had many times when she looks at John. No. That is a pleasant feeling, one that makes her smile and feel love and desire for him. This is a very different feeling and she chews on her lower lip.
"So why would the Captain say it, then. Have you worked with her before?"
She can't imagine it, since John would have told her if he had worked with the Captain before. They had discussed appointing a replacement for Ivanova together after all. John had said that he would ask the Earth government to send someone from Earth Force who had been on the other side of the war, to hopefully bring the folks back home together. Nothing so far has indicated that they knew each other before Lochley came on board.
John clears his throat.
"Actually …," he begins and Delenn feels her stomach tighten further. "Yes, we met fresh out of officer training school many years ago and we uh … got to know each other."
"Got to know each other?"
John nods and because he still won't look at her, Delenn is getting restless.
"John. Look at me."
He turns then, until he can meet her eyes and she sees a guilt in his eyes that makes her stomach roll. She blinks a few times and then John reaches for her hand. He must see the confusion on her face because he begins rubbing her hand reassuringly.
He sighs and then suddenly speaks very fast when he tells her,
"We fell in love and got married on a whim. It all went very fast and it didn't take us long to realize that we had made a terrible mistake and we split up. And we haven't seen each other in years and years but … well, that's why she knows me quite well."
Delenn pulls her hand out of John's grasp.
Married? He was married to Captain Lochley? She was his wife?
Delenn is overcome with a feeling she has never felt before, ever; and it's not a pleasant feeling. It is dark. Angry. Possessive. It is red hot jealousy. She jumps up and takes a few steps away from the bed. Their marital bed.
Competing with the memory of Anna had been one thing, but this? A beautiful, fierce and very much alive Captain who works with her husband on a daily basis?
John has stood up as well and walks up to her, his arms stretched out to take her in his arms. But she shakes her head. She needs a moment. Maybe a lot of moments. She turns her back on him and John stands behind her, not touching her. But when he speaks again, she listens.
"It only lasted for three months. We were doomed from the start, Delenn, and we fell out of love as quickly as we fell in love. There's nothing there anymore."
She remains silent and after a few seconds, John continues.
"Well, there's a trust there. And honesty. And that's why I wanted her to be Captain here. I need someone I can trust implicitly and Lochley's the closest thing to Suzan I could find. That's all there is to it, Delenn. We've both moved on years ago. You know I did. I married Anna. And now I'm with you and you know I love you with all my heart. You're my sun, Delenn. You complete me in ways I didn't know I needed completing. With Lochley, it was the opposite. All we did was damage each other because we couldn't take turns being in charge. We both wanted to be in charge all the time."
He chuckles, then adds,
"We had arguments that could peel paint off the wall."
Delenn pulls her shoulders up and then drops them, sighing.
"I'm going to bed," she says curtly.
John watches her as she sheds her robe and climbs into bed, turning on her side so she is facing the wall. He knows better than to touch her right now. She's angry and hurt and she has every right to be both. He isn't sure what he should do right now; speak or be quiet and let her process what she's just learned. He decides to get into bed as well. Not that either of them is actually going to sleep, but at least they are together. He braces himself for what is sure to come. Delenn isn't going to drop this. She maybe a pragmatic Minbari diplomat at heart, but she is also very much a woman, and his wife.
After a few long minutes of deadly silence, she finally speaks.
"I'm going to pretend that you were going to tell me this sooner or later."
Her voice sounds calm but he knows she's hurting, and he doesn't want that for her.
"I was just … looking for the right time," he tells her.
"Ten seconds after you thought of it would have been good," Delenn responds dryly, and he knows she's right.
He turns after a moment and watches the back of her head. She is still stubbornly turned away from him.
"Are you alright?" he asks her.
Delenn pulls the covers over her shoulder and settles in even further away from him.
"I think so," she says quietly. "It will just … take some getting used to."
She switches off the lamp on her nightstand and John breathes out slowly. He switches his own lamp off as well and tries to relax, but he can't. He can't go to sleep like this. The love of his life is hurting and he is the cause. The guilt won't let him sleep. And he isn't sure if he should hope she won't be able to sleep either or not. He doesn't even know now why he hadn't told her right away. Maybe he thought she would object to Lochley's appointment. Even so, he owed her nothing but the truth. He'd been livid with her in the past for holding back information and now he had done the same. They were supposed to be past this and he'd screwed up.
Finally, he turns on his side as well, scooting closer to Delenn until he is almost spooning her, but their bodies aren't actually touching.
"Delenn," he whispers.
She doesn't answer him but he knows she's listening. He's getting to know her body language better and better.
She doesn't stir.
"I should have told you right away. Maybe even before we got married. I was just … I guess I was ashamed."
There is a slight movement now and he can't help smiling in the dark. But he means what he's just said. What he and Lochley did all those years ago is a little embarrassing.
"I mean, how was I going to explain that I had another wife? And it was a mess. It's really nothing to be proud of. A huge error in judgement."
John hears Delenn swallow and he continues, hoping to eventually make her turn around.
"We work well together but that's not the same thing as being in a relationship. Far from it."
"You and I work together well too."
Her voice is quiet, a little dejected but he's relieved that she's responding at all.
"We do. And that's the beauty of you and me, Delenn. I don't want to make any comparisons because each person is unique, but if I make a comparison just this once, you are, on all counts, the best thing that's ever happened to me. With Lochley, I can work well but a relationship is out of the question. With Anna, I had a good relationship but we actually needed time away from each other to make it work. But with you …"
He takes a chance and touches his wife then, putting a warm hand on her bare shoulder. Delenn finally turns on her back to look at him in the darkened room.
"With you, I finally have it all," he says warmly. "You're my greatest ally, on the battlefield and in council meetings. And you're the warmest, most loving and passionate woman I know. I would be incomplete without you, and knowing I get to see you again at night gives me strength throughout the day, no matter what the universe throws at me."
John moves even closer to his wife, and now their bodies are touching. He lifts his head to place a careful kiss on Delenn's shoulder. And then she speaks.
"When I stepped into the chrysalis, I had no idea what the universe would be throwing at me," Delenn says and he loves how balanced her voice is again. She is finding her bearings already and he admires her for adapting so quickly. "And I have to say, all these Human characteristics that I now have, can be very confusing."
"What characteristics do you mean?"
"I never knew what it felt like to be absolutely possessive of another being. I mean, I thought I knew what it was to love somebody, but …"
She sighs and it's John's turn to swallow when she suddenly turns into him and wraps an arm around him.
"So you're feeling possessive of me?" he mumbles against her forehead.
"Yes. Very much so."
She doesn't sugarcoat the truth and he should learn that more from her.
"I am all yours, Delenn. Completely."
She reaches up and rubs his neck gently and then finds his lips with her own. John hums when she kisses him, hoping to deepen the kiss, but Delenn pulls back.
"I did not want to know that there are more women who have kissed you and … who have been intimate with you."
John pulls her closer against him, and their legs tangle underneath the covers. He breathes out contently now that Delenn is in his arms again.
"I don't want to know these things about you either," John admits. "We all have a past, but that's exactly what it is. The past. This …" He kisses her forehead. "This is the present. And in the present, I am happy. I don't ever want to go back, Delenn. Only forward. With you."
"I am happy too," Delenn whispers. "But next time, just tell me right away."
"I swear I have nothing left to confess to you," John chuckles. "No more wives, I promise."
When he moves in to kiss her again, Delenn gives in and lets him deepen the kiss. She isn't ready to take things further, needing some more time to digest what she's just learned, but safe in her husband's arms, she falls asleep after just a short while and John soon follows her, grateful for his wife's strength and forgiveness.
To be continued (eventually, I promise) ...