EMPTY PLACES

By A. J. Breton

 

 

 

Spoilers: up to and including: Messages from Earth; Ceremonies of Light and Dark; And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place; Shadow Dancing; Z'Ha'Dum

Rating: Johnny-Angst, Adult Content, Sexual Situations

Author's Note: This is my first B5 fan fiction, feedback please!

Author's Favorite Quote: "I'll be in the car."

Postings: Ask me nicely and you can post it anywhere appropriate.

Summery: Sheridan's thoughts and feelings approaching the events in "Z'Ha'Dum"

Obligatory Disclaimer: They aren't mine, they belong to JMS and WB, yadda yadda yadda.

"May the Gods stand between you and harm, in all the empty places you must walk."

--Egyptian Blessing--

"There's a little black spot on the sun today. That's my soul up there."

--"King of Pain" The Police--

 

 

 

 

*****

   John watched the stars hanging dully in the colorless sky. The magnificence that usually captivated him seemed lost today. He knew what it was. He was bothered more by the fact that he was bothered than by the day. Today. All those years ago the stars had seemed insignificant, too. The day he had married his true love. Anna had stood before him looking even more incredible than usual, dulling the sun with her beauty. The memories of that night were forever burned into his mind and her image tortured him in dreams where she lingered in front of him, reaching out, but forever out of reach. The dream he had had last night still floated in his mind. The dream that had made him cry her name out in the night only to awaken and discover he was alone. There was nothing worse than being all alone in the night.

   Anna.

   The sound of her name was sometimes enough to make his heart break. Today would have been their anniversary. He looked out at the stars and wished he could be with them. Actually, not with them, between them. He wanted to float in the empty vastness of space. He wanted to wrap the deadly, cold, silence of space around him like Anna's arms had been that night. Sometimes he thought he could feel her watching him as he watched the stars. Today, though, the stars were empty. He felt no one watching. He felt only loneliness.

   He tore himself away from the portal in C&C. He wasn't sure how long he had been spaced out but a concerned look form Ivanova told him it had been too long. He offered her a smile that was supposed to be reassuring and was not successful. Of course, she wasn't about to bring it up there, but John knew she would bring it up, sooner or later. He hoped he could avoid her. He didn't like to talk to anyone about Anna. Things were complicated enough trying to reconcile his growing affection for Delenn with his feelings about Anna without bringing Susan into the mix.

   Delenn.

   With the thought of her name came the unbidden image of her face in his mind's eye. John was not a bigot, but never, ever, had he thought he could possibly fall in love with a Minbari, never. "Fate is a strange lady," he thought. Fate had to be a woman, because only a woman could successfully play all these games with his heart and mind. Delenn's and Anna's images refused to leave his mind and he had a very hard time concentrating on anything for the rest of his shift. After the shift was finally over he quickly excused himself to his quarters before Susan could ask him anything. He just hoped she wouldn't come to him.

   An hour had passed and John was dozing lightly in front of a Rebo and Zooty vid when the BabCom system beeped loudly, waking him. He ran his hands over his face roughly. His hair was mussed from lying on the couch (though he didn't remember lying down). He got up and walked to the monitor that flashed impatiently, stopping briefly to turn off the vid. He answered it in a voice made rough from sleep.

   "Sheridan, here. Go."

   Delenn's face filled the screen. The usually beautiful visage was marred by a frown and concern darkened her eyes.

   "John, are you all right?"

   "Huh? Yes. What can I do for you, Delenn?" His tone was a little colder than he had wanted it to be. He saw her eyes barely flinch at it.

   "It is just that we were supposed to meet for dinner, and when you did not arrive I thought that perhaps..." her voice was quite concerned.

   John suddenly understood and resisted the urge to smack his forehead.

   "Oh, of course! Dinner! Delenn, I am so sorry. Today was such a horrid day, I completely forgot! I am really sorry. I'll try to make it up to you." He felt like such an idiot. He had been so preoccupied with his past he had forgotten his date with Delenn. Her eyes lightened and she offered him one of those stunning smiles that made him forget his middle name. Despite himself, he found he was smiling too.

   "It is all right, John." God, he loved hearing her say his name like that. Soft and low from the throat. "We can try again soon. I hope your evening is more satisfying than your day was." He heard the conversation ending and did not want her face to disappear.

   "Delenn," he cut off her goodbye.

   "Yes, John?" she looked slightly surprised.

   "Since it's kind of late for dinner," he hesitated, she smiled and nodded slightly, "would you like to take a walk through the garden with me?" She beamed at him.

   "Yes, I would." There was that voice again.

   "I can be there shortly."

   "I will meet you there." The after image of her face lingered on the blank monitor for a moment and her musical voice hung in the air around him, teasing his ears. He quickly tucked in his shirt and ran a hand through his hair. He decided he could be casual tonight and left his collar unbuttoned. He left with a quick step and for the first time all day, he wasn't thinking of Anna.

    ----------

   The garden was in full bloom. The air here was as fresh as it could be in a space station and John swore he could feel a lightly gusting breeze across his skin. It was also slightly cooler here, which was quite a refreshing change from the constantly maintained environment of the rest of the station's public areas. He saw Delenn before she saw him. She was sitting on a bench looking out at the rose bushes. He came up behind her quietly and put a hand on her shoulder softly. She turned around, smiling up at him. He smiled back at her and came around to sit next to her. He was slightly surprised as she snuggled closer to him.

   She gave him another one of those smiles. Twice in one night, he thought, I'm a very lucky man.

   "The garden is quite beautiful tonight." She swept her gaze across the greenery.

   "Yes it is." John's voice was low. He never took his eyes off of Delenn.

   "Besides the stars, I believe a few of these flowers to be the most beautiful things I have ever seen." John smiled. Her voice had been quite sincere, but he wondered if she wasn't fishing a little bit. He certainly couldn't pass up the opening.

   "I've seen more beautiful things." He was looking directly at her. She bowed her head slightly in that way she did when she blushed. He put a finger under her chin and lifted her face towards him. God, she was beautiful. There was something in those incredible, green eyes that made him lean forward before he was even fully aware of what he was doing. He could smell her fragrance and felt her hand slide slowly up his arm, to his neck. Their lips brushed lightly. He wanted to wrap her in his arms and kiss her forever. He wanted to taste every part of her lips, her face, neck, chest, and on downward. He feared moving to quickly, though, it was like knowing he was in a dream and not wanting to do anything that would make him wake up. Slowly the dream unfolded and they started kissing more passionately. Their hands started slowly moving. John started a slow trail of kisses down her neck.

   Then that mean bitch, Fate, slapped him in the face.

    ----------

   "I've never seen anything so beautiful." Anna's voice drifted to him from the back of his mind. Her eyes were overflowing with tears as she held the ring in her hand like it was a fragile snowflake that could melt away any moment.

   "I have." He was still on his knee, still holding his lover's hand.

   "John...I..." She was speechless, for the first time since John had known her. "I...yes. Yes, John, I will. I will." She practically fell into his arms, almost knocking him down to the garden's lawn. He felt tears in his own eyes as he was buried in her kisses. He could barely hear anything outside of the overly rapid beating of his heart.

   "I love you, Anna. I always will."

    ----------

   Anna. He didn't realize he was saying it out loud until both syllables had already escaped his mouth, by then it was too late. Delenn pulled away from him. Her eyes were confused for a second and then hurt. He felt his own heart ache as he saw her face collapse into an expression of rejection and pain.

   She tried to gather herself, but was having a hard time with it. John was stunned. He couldn't believe that he had said that name. Another part of him felt guilty that he hadn't thought of Anna before now. Delenn stood, clearly distraught, and hurriedly excused herself. The movement spurred John to movement.

   "Delenn, wait." He stood up and moved toward her fleeing figure. She stopped suddenly, but did not turn around. "Delenn, I am sorry." The apology sounded weak even to his own ears, but he did not know what else to say to her. When she spoke he could hear the tears in her voice.

   "You are preoccupied, it is all right." It obviously was most certainly not all right. John said as much to her. He didn't know what to do. He couldn't tell her what he was feeling. He couldn't tell her that he had been thinking of Anna all day and dreaming of her for weeks. Couldn't tell her that today would have been their anniversary. That this garden reminded him of the garden on Earth where he had proposed to her under the stars. Even though he desperately wanted to. That would have broken what was left of her heart. So he stood their like the biggest asshole in the galaxy not saying anything more, just stammering non-sensibly as Delenn fought to keep from running away as fast as she could.

   "Delenn, I...please, I'm so...Anna..." He was cut off by the sob from Delenn. He put a hand softly on her shoulder.

   "I, I have to go." She started for the door again. "Goodbye." Then she was gone. John stood staring at the empty space where she had been.

   "What the hell just happened?" he asked himself. He had been sitting there kissing Delenn. It wasn't their first kiss, but it had been a real, honest-to-god, passionate, make-you-lose-your-mind kiss. She had even moaned a little as he had begun kissing down the side of her neck. He had felt himself getting aroused as the kisses became more and more ardent. Then he had moaned Anna's name. Why? Well he was no psychologist but he knew the answer to that one. This time he did smack his forehead.

   "Damnit!" he cursed out loud. He was so bad at these things. Should he go after her, or should he let her have some time alone? He stood there, uncertain. He was in love with her. He knew that. Why the hell was this so fucking difficult?

   "Anna is dead." He said quietly. He repeated it several times. "You have to move forward." He didn't move. He stood rooted to the spot repeating his frustrated mantra and looking at the empty place in front of him. He stood there for a long time before he got his feet to move again. He went to bed. Alone again.

    ----------

   She moved around him like the mist moves around the night. He heard her voice just as he felt her hands running over his chest. She pinched his nipples. She was saying his name. She moaned it, whispered it, cried it, shouted it, screamed it. The moonlight from the window highlighted her body as it moved beneath him. It made her appear as if she were glowing, like an angel. Her skin was silky and pale against the dark sheets. She pulled his head down to her and ran her tongue up his neck and across his jaw line to his mouth. It was a brutal kiss. They licked and bit and sucked each others tongues and lips and faces moving at the same fierce rhythm as their lovemaking. They broke the engagement only to breathe, and even then they only gasped and gulped at the air before plunging back into each other. Her nails clawed at his back as she thrust upward to meet him. She was screaming again. His name, over and over. It was the most beautiful sound. He tried to say her name, but it caught in his throat. His mouth was dry and sweat dripped off of him. Her name filled his entire being and he forced a harsh, rough shout across his vocal cords which were already sore from the shouting he had done earlier.

   It was coming on fast and hard, there was no holding it back. She tightened around him and dug her nails into the flesh between his shoulders. It hurt, but the pain made love with the pleasure, and intensified it. She bit his neck where it connected with his shoulder. She bit it hard. He cried out again. He started shaking. She knew exactly how to hurt him. He soared over the edge when she sank her teeth into him again, drawing a thin line of blood.

   He felt her floating away from him. Her hands clung to him desperately and he tried to grab hold of her. She pleaded with him not to let her go. He tried but she seemed to dissolve in his hands and float away into the night. Without her arms around him, he felt like he was falling. He could see the ground rush up to him, and no one was there to catch him.

   "If you should fall, I will catch you."

   But her voice was just an echo, nothing more.

    ----------

   John woke that morning tired and miserable. The dream about Anna had left him feeling cold and sweating. He laid there until his alarm went off, whether that was minutes or hours, he didn't know. The Day was past. He wouldn't have to deal with it again for another year. He knew it wasn't over, though. He had to tell Delenn what was going on. He had to at least try to make her understand what he was feeling. He remembered their kiss and hoped to God he'd have a chance to redeem himself. Yesterday's fiasco had shaken him badly. He had thought he was mostly over Anna's death; thought he had healed at least some. He still missed her and dreamt about her occasionally, but he had not experienced grief this badly or dreams this vivid since he had first learned of her disappearance.

   Why now? Of course the answer was Delenn. John would go to the end of the universe for her. He would fight every demon in the dark, bare fisted, if she wanted him to. A few years ago, he would have said the exact same thing about Anna. Actually, he thought, he wouldn't have said it. He would have thought and felt it, and just assumed that Anna knew it. No more assumptions, he determined. He would make for damned sure Delenn never doubted how he felt. He didn't know how to deal with this new-found guilt over Anna, but he wasn't about to let Delenn go as well.

   The decision gave him the energy that the night had not. He dressed quickly and made his way to C&C before trying to find Delenn.

    ----------

   The morning, as usual, had been a wreck. There were a hundred things that needed to be done in half the time it took to do a quarter of them. C&C had been swamped. Calls, never ending complaints, and requests had besieged the Captain as soon as he stepped on deck. Susan was already there, and John sometimes wondered if she ever left the command center. Fortunately there were no major incidents, though a power outage disabled half of the command deck for over three hours. Ivanova had had to go down to the maintenance center personally to get a crew up to work on the effected controls. John did not envy the poor Joe that was heading the department. John didn't know the man's name but he saw the pale, petrified look on his face and knew he had received the brunt of Susan's rage. To his credit, the controls were fixed in twenty minutes and docking procedures continued without any further delay. Someway, somehow, they managed to get mostly caught up by noon. Sheridan was convinced Susan knew some sort of witchcraft or magic that allowed her to accomplish these things, he didn't know how else it was possible. He still had mounds of paperwork to do, but that was par for course. He made sure Susan left for lunch, practically ordering her to do so, before leaving himself.

   He found himself in the corridor in front of Delenn's room. He stood there for a long while before ringing the chime. The door opened and Lennier bowed his head to the human, looking as though he was going to approach him. John's heart froze. Oh, no, what if she told Lennier, he thought. He stepped into the room cautiously watching to see if the young Minbari made any movement. He didn't. Maybe she hadn't told him. She probably hadn't. He hoped she hadn't. He had seen Lennier fight, and did not want to be counted as an enemy in his eyes. He knew that any physical confrontation against the well-trained Minbari would end with his own unconscious body crumpled on the floor. The younger man stepped around him into the doorway and bowed again to Sheridan.

   "I must see to urgent business, Captain, please excuse me." John nodded and watched the robed figure hurry down the hallway. He expelled the breath he hadn't realized he had been holding. He heard a rustling behind him and turned. Delenn stood in the doorway of the bedroom and looked at him quietly. Her face was the picture of sad stoicism. Now the hard part, he thought.

   "Captain." It was her only greeting.

   "Delenn." He stood with his mouth open for a minute trying to bring the words he wanted to say up and out of his mouth. This was getting worse. He turned away from her, not able to meet her eyes just yet. He said her name again and motioned helplessly to the couch. "Can we sit and talk for awhile?"

   She just stood there looking at him, and for a moment, he thought she might actually say no and then ask him to leave. Then something in her eyes changed and she moved silently to the couch and sat.

   "Delenn, this is very hard for me. I am sorry about yesterday." She opened her mouth to speak, probably wanting to assure him it was nothing, but John stopped her. "Delenn, I hurt you, and I'll never forgive myself for that." He took a deep breath. "Yesterday would have been Anna's and my wedding anniversary." He looked at the floor. "I had been thinking about her all day, missing her. When we were together in the garden, you were so beautiful, and I wanted to be with you so badly, and then the garden reminded me of the night I had proposed to Anna. I...I don't know why I said her name, Delenn, I didn't mean too." He felt like he was blubbering, like he wasn't making any sense. "I just wanted to be with you, that's all I want."

   He felt her hands on his shoulders as she pulled him closer to her. He still didn't look at her face. She pulled his hands onto her lap and held them. She put a finger under his chin and turned his face to hers. Her eyes were a clear, gorgeous sea-foam green. She caressed his cheek softly, he could see the slight darkening of sadness and pain still in her eyes. When she spoke, John thought her voice sounded like music.

   "John, do not torture yourself over this. It is past. I wish I could help you with your feelings for Anna, but I do not know what to do. I hate seeing you in this much pain."

   "I need to work this out myself, Delenn. I need to put her behind me before I can go forward." He kissed her softly on the lips. "Forward with you." She smiled and put her arms around his neck tightly.

    ----------

   It was two days later that Delenn told John they would spend the night together. As soon as the words left her mouth, his heart stopped. Her smile at his reaction had nearly stopped it again. She explained the ritual and John still was thrilled with the prospect, but a little disappointed that it was just watching. He could try to change that... Her face was teasingly seductive when he asked what happened if the female liked what she saw. Her finger was electric as it traced a soft line down his chin.

   "Later. History awaits."

   John watched her watching him. He snaked his hand out from the covers and touched her knee. She swatted it teasingly.

   "John, go to sleep. I cannot watch if you do not."

   "I can't sleep. Not with you so close."

   "You have done it before, on the White Star."

   "This is different." He started tracing circles on the inside of her knee, then slowly moved it up her thigh . She put her hand on his to stop it. He grabbed it and sat up to kiss it. She leaned forward and caressed his face softly.

   "John, please..."

   He ended her sentence by kissing her passionately. She struggled for a few seconds before kissing him back. Slowly he pulled her forward onto the bed, on top of him. She relaxed against him. She let herself respond to his hands roaming over her body. She raked her own hands across his chest and neck. He rolled her over onto her back and moved his hands over her body, finding the fastenings to her robes.

   She tried again to stop him, though only half-heartedly. His lips on her breasts dissolved those thoughts from her mind.

   Never-ending kisses swallowed them as they rolled on the bed, touching and caressing. John wasn't sure what happened to his boxers, but they were soon lost in the heap of clothing on the floor. He was trailing a very slow line of kisses down her abdomen. He mind was on overdrive reliving every fantasy he'd ever had about Delenn, which was a considerable number. She was moaning his name, whispering it like a sacred prayer. John's language skills were reduced to grunts, moans and mumbles as he worked lower and lower on her body. He didn't think he could ever get enough of her gorgeous body. He wanted to savor every inch of it. Her hands were in his hair, pulling and stroking. She made some sort of sighing noise that was half way between a shout and a groan, it was the single most erotic noise he had ever heard.

   When he had finally tasted every inch of her, she was nearly insane with craving for him. She clawed at him. Her nails dug into his neck as he kissed her brutally. It hurt wonderfully. He whispered her name every time her nails dug into that sensitive spot in reaction to his hands which rubbed and stroked her breasts and abdomen. She writhed beneath him, trying to hurry him. This time, he was in control. He had waited a long time for this, and he wanted to make it last. He played with her, toyed with her, brought her close to the edge and stopped, waited for her to come down and then did it again. Over and over he played this game with her until she was finally whimpering for him to take her. She cried for him to. With another brutal kiss he climbed on top of her and slid himself, ever-so-slowly, inside.

   She gripped him and he shuddered violently. He didn't think he'd last long. Delenn was already at the edge too. He started to move slowly. Soon all his intentions to make it last longer were banished along with every other rational thought. They moved wildly together. He wasn't sure if he was hurting her or not, even he was, he didn't think he could stop. Delenn was panting and moaning loudly. They came together suddenly and violently. He held her and kissed her as he felt his strength slip away from him. Delenn buried his face in kisses and held him tightly against her body.

   John felt himself drifting off and snuggled against her, burying his face in her neck and hair. He felt like he was floating. It was a warm, beautiful place, wrapped in the arms of his love. He was between the stars, basking in their glory and warmth. He could look at the sun and see it in all its glory and beauty. He drifted into deeper sleep, into the place where dreams command the soul. The stars were beautiful, they were alive and singing just for him. Slowly he saw a small black spot coming toward him. He floated blissfully and watched the dot take form as it got closer. Not understanding, not wanting to, the dot screamed toward him taking the form that plagued his waking hours and nightmares and made his blood turn cold.

   "If you go to Z'Ha'Dum..."

   The voice was cold and disconnected, unfamiliar. He saw Delenn's face floating in the stars around him, aged with the years, but still gorgeous enough to dim the stars that framed it.

   It was a kiss that transcended time.

   "Our son is safe..."

   They rushed down the hallways hand in hand, following the Centauri guard, he was aware of a slight pain in his chest, his heart wasn't beating right, when time began to shatter again...slipping away...

   "Do not go..."

   "I can't imagine my life without you in it.."

   "..you will die."

   The black dot was now looming before him, larger than life. The Shadow vessel seemed to glow from the inside, a chilling crimson that burned his skin as it came in contact with him.

   It screamed at him in a language only he could understand.

   "Who ARE you?"

   He was falling again. He could see the ground rushing up toward him. Would someone catch him? Who was he? He saw Delenn sitting on the Minbari bed next to him, watching him sleep.

   "If I should die before I wake..."

   "I will catch you..."

   "Then I shall see you in a place..."

   He saw Anna's tears stream down her face as he opened the little black box with the ring in it. She was so beautiful under the bright moonlight.

   "Until death, do you part..."

   "...where no shadows fall."

   The vessel swallowed him whole. The cold crimson began to tear at his flesh slowly. He screamed. The sound died before it left his throat. He felt the empty space around him ignite and consume him. "Ashes to ashes.."

   Anna's memorial service was cold and rainy. He stood in the pouring rain listening to the minister, but only hearing the thunder breaking the sky. The water pulled at his clothing making them heavy. There was a lake not far from this garden...he thought of going there and wading in over his head, letting his heavy clothes hold him under as he breathed in the cold liquid...He wanted to float there....He was Fate's Ophelia, driven mad with confusion, love and loss....

   "....you will die."

   John felt he could fall forever, it was an endless sea of crimson. He was in a place of fear and suffering and wanted to just hit bottom and have it all end.

   "the right place at the right time"

   "...dust to dust."

   He didn't know what woke him, perhaps the sound of glass breaking or the door opening. Perhaps it was the sound of a voice he thought he'd never hear again outside his dreams. He woke and slipped into a robe before moving into the front room.

   Everything John J. Sheridan knew about his life was shattered that moment he saw her. His heart stopped beating and his hopes flew out the door as Delenn rushed away.

   "Delenn..."

   "Let her go, John."

   Her voice was the same, and yet there was an undertone to it that he couldn't place. There was a coldness that he had heard only in one other voice before. The voice from the man in the interrogation room, who had also been on the Icarus....

   "I thought.....you....were dead." His mouth hung open as his body threatened to collapse. His eyes were already stinging from the tears that were welling there. She rushed to him, with a comforting look that cut a hole in his heart. She reached out to him and touched his arms. He wanted to feel her touch, to be certain that this was his Anna and not another heart-breaking nightmare. Her fingers grazed his arms and it hurt like fire on his skin. He jerked away from her, stepping back.

   Anna said something about proving who she was, about answering any question, taking any test, but his mind was too fragmented to make any sense of anything. Part of him wanted to rush to her and take her in his arms and kiss her like he had been dreaming of for so long. Another part wanted to run to Delenn and find answers. Still another part urged him to run and hide, warned that there was danger here that he shouldn't face. But this was Anna....his beloved Anna....she would never hurt him. Her eyes pleaded with him to believe her, and yet contained a cold confidence that he would. She smiled, and his heart melted immediately. This was his Anna, wasn't it?

   He left her in the Medlab and stormed down the hall. Steven had confirmed what his heart had said immediately. Anna was very much alive and well. He found Delenn sitting in the room staring into space. Delenn had known. All this time, she had known. He saw her and felt his rage boiling over, threatening to overwhelm him.

   You knew I loved you, he thought, and yet you'd betray me like this?

   The confrontation was quick and harsh, it was mostly a blur to him, all he could really see was his rage, all he could really hear was his anger. He found himself actually shaking her at one point. He was physically hurting her. He let go as soon as he realized what he was doing. A part of him was horrified that he had done it, another part wanted to smack her into a wall for what she had done to him.

   "All this time YOU KNEW Anna might still be alive, and you didn't tell me?"

   He could see his every word strike her face like a slap. And then she actually accused Anna of working with the Shadows.

   "ANNA WOULD NEVER WORK FOR THEM.." He was shouting. He had to calm down before he did something...He made himself sit. He made himself tell her.

   "Do you know how hard it was for me? To think of you, being with you.....loving you, making a life with you?" Do you have any idea what kind of hell it is to love you more than life itself, he thought.

   How can you ever expect me to trust you again....He saw the words break her heart. His had already been smashed. He started for the door. He couldn't stand to look at her anymore, couldn't stand to hear her voice anymore. Too many secrets. Too many half-truths. It was over.

   "John, I love you. If you never believe another thing I say, believe that." The words had stopped him, although only briefly.

   I love you, he thought, but can I forgive you?

   Without looking back he left her there alone.

    ----------

   The stars streaked past in soft lines of bluish white. Anna looked silently at the view screen of the White Star watching the spectacle with quiet confidence. John looked at her, took in every sight of her and noted the time absently. Delenn would be receiving the message he had recorded for her by now. He tried not to think about her reaction. He had to do this. Not for himself, not for Delenn, for everyone and everything else. For life itself.

   John J. Sheridan, universal savior, who would of thought?

   He had told Delenn he loved her. He knew he wasn't likely to leave Z'Ha'Dum alive, he knew it was a trap, and he had just wished he could have told her face to face. He wished he could have held her one last time, kissed her one last time. There hadn't been opportunity. After he had found out what "Anna" really was, he had had to move quickly. The real reason, though, was that he knew that if he had seen Delenn again, he wouldn't have left Babylon 5. He had to do this. He had not even really had a choice. His actions had chosen him. Fate was leading him now.

   He looked at Anna. From his command chair looking at her back, it was easy to forget what Steven's findings had told him. It was easy to accept that this really was Anna, and that she was really leading him to the truth. She turned and smiled at him. Her eyes told the truth. Her eyes were as cold and empty as the space they traveled through, and looked twice as deadly. His Anna was gone. What wicked things they had done to her, John didn't want to guess, but he couldn't find even a spark of the woman he loved in those cold, devious eyes. This was his last chance, his best chance, to turn the war in his favor. This was his best hope....his only hope...

   She put her hand on his arm. Her skin was a little too warm...it reminded him of the dream he had had, the fiery crimson swallowing him whole...She was one of them. His first love made into his worst enemy. It was a plot twist of Shakespearean proportions.

   Z'Ha'Dum loomed before them. It rushed toward them on the screen.

   Soon. John thought. Soon this torment will be over. One way or another, this ends here.

   He sent one last thought out as they entered the shuttle and John mentally went over his plan.

   "Delenn, I'll wait for you. Where no Shadows fall."

    ----------

   And So It Begins.....

 

*****

 

 

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