"EMPTINESS"

By Castor

 

 

 

This has spoilers up to and including Sleeping in Light. I needed some closure so, as usual, I decided to write it myself. I apologise if this isnít what others imagine, but encourage them to do their own versions <g>

   As usual, the characters are Joeís, as is some of the plot (well, you have to start somewhere, donít you?). The rest is mine. All comments welcome. This may need a handkerchief. Not sure.

 

 

 

 

*****

Blackness. Immense, and unrelenting. The space between the galaxies. But, like all the universe, there is thought there. A vast consciousness. Self aware, unified in a single purpose to discover the truth. For it is here, without distraction, that the nature of the universe can be discovered. So many thoughts, so many minds unified.

   And yet, there is dissension. One voice, one mind cannot remain part of the song any more.

   *You cannot go.*

   *I must.*

   *You cannot return.*

   *I cannot stay.*

   *You have the truth.*

   *It's not enough.*

   *There is nothing more.*

   *Oh yes there is.*

   The blackness continues unabated, but there is tension in the silence.

   *Do you know what you are doing?*

   *I do.*

   *It may not work.*

   *But I can hope.*

   A change. Sadness, sorrow, loss.

   *Hope, is all we have.*

-----

It's over.

   "Delenn. It is time to go."

   "In a little while, Sholann. I wish to watch the sunrise."

   "This is not Minbar, Delenn."

   "It is enough. Please, leave me for a little while."

   "Yes, Delenn."

   The aide bowed and left, silently. Delenn sat on the bench in the quiet parkland awaiting the sunrise. Her journey to Earth from Minbar had been a long one. She was tired, but she could not allow those who were presenting the lecture to say those things about John without responding. They spoke so much, but said so little. She had said so little, but her eyes and her presence had spoken volumes. As academics they were trained to analyse, to question and to doubt. They had doubted the claim that she was still alive, and with that doubt had come others. But she had come, had stood there before them, an undeniable proof that at least one of their theories was wrong. They might dismiss it as the exception that proved the rule, but if one seed of doubt -- one grain of hope that the world was far more than could be fitted into some erudite paper could be planted -- then her task was done.

   The sun rose through the cloud strewn sky. As ever, she sensed him beside her.

   //It's called a mackerel sky, Delenn. Isn't it beautiful?//

   "Yes John. So beautiful."

   //I'm glad you came. Maybe it'll keep the dream alive a little longer.//

   "For how long?"

   //A little while, perhaps. Every minute is worth the battle.//

   A pause. She sighs.

   //Don't lose hope, Delenn. It's all we have.//

   She stared at the sky, watching the fiery red slowly pale through the spectrum until the clouds became white and the sky a rich, dark blue. It was going to be a beautiful day.

   There was a soft step behind her. "Are you ready to leave, Delenn?"

   "Yes, Sholann. I am ready."

   She rose slowly and, leaning on her stick, carefully made her way to the shuttle that would carry her back to the White Star for the journey home to Minbar.

   Aboard the White Star Delenn took one last look from the windows of the command deck onto the planet below.

   "His world is beautiful, isn't it Sholann?"

   "Earth is beautiful, Delenn, but I do not think it is his world. His world is among the stars." He paused. "And with you."

   She looked at the young aide and smiled a little sadly. "I miss him, Sholann."

   "I know."

   "It has been so long, and I am tired."

   "You should rest."

   "Yes mother, you should."

   She turned around to see David's concerned face. Her son walked over to her, strong and proud in his Anlashok uniform, the cloak of Entil'zha billowing behind him as he walked. She reached up and stroked his cheek before turning once more to take a last look at Earth. Then the White Star swung around and she saw the stars shining before her.

   "So tired." It was a whisper.

   "Come on. It's time you got some rest. It's a long journey back to Minbar."

   She smiled. "You are so like your father. Always protecting me!"

   "He'd be angry with me if I didn't." There was a gentle admonition in his voice and he gently placed his hand on her arm, guiding her back to her cabin.

   Once there she removed her cloak and lay on the bed. He took her staff, carefully placing it nearby where she could reach it when she woke.

   "You watch over me like a mother-hen, David. Don't you have other duties?"

   "Many," he smiled, "but none so important as this right now." He took a blanket and laid it over her, smoothing it and making sure it covered her. "I have some paperwork to deal with. Will you be all right?"

   She nodded. "I'll be fine. I just need to rest for a little while."

   "You're sure?" She nodded and he leaned forward and kissed her forehead. "I love you."

   "I love you, David. More than you will ever know."

   He smiled and, with a last touch, turned to leave.

   "David."

   "Mother?"

   "I will call when I am awake. I think I will lie in a little."

   He nodded. "I think you've earned that. Sleep well." The door closed quietly behind him.

She lay there for some time. Tired, but somehow not able to sleep. She turned on her side and gazed at the picture beside her bed. It was one of herself and John, taken shortly after he became President of the Alliance. She had many pictures of him, but that one, taken while the glow of victory still buoyed him, was one of her favourites. Beside it was one of them together, holding David shortly after he was born. The proud parents with the son they never thought they could have. Between then and now were so many memories and she found herself going over them in her mind.

   There was the look on John's face when he learned he was to be a father. His first few weeks on Minbar, trying to get used to his new home. The day she had gone into labour and the Minbari doctors, afraid for her, had refused him entry to the room. Garibaldi had come to stay for a few days, and she remembered some acolyte complaining about the smell which permeated the building shortly after David was born. Apparently, Garibaldi had given John one of those cigars to which he had become attached. John had dismissed it to her later as an old Earth custom, but he'd had a sore throat for a week. She remembered coming into the house one day to find the floor strewn with toys and David and John sound asleep on the settee, the son wrapped in his father's arms, curled up on his chest. She remembered their fear when David had contracted a common Human children's disease which upset his part-Minbari system. How they'd cried with fear and held each other as the doctor's fought for his life, and how Dr Franklin had come and helped them find a cure.

   She remembered the horror of the Keeper, and Lennier's final act of redemption. How he had discovered Londo's lie and decided to investigate without their knowing. John had caught him in their quarters and she had come in to find the two facing a stand-off. As they fought over the urn it had been dropped and the Keeper released. It had gone immediately for John and Lennier had thrown himself in it's path. Finding another host so close to hand the Keeper had fastened on. But Lennier still had the mental discipline of the Anlashok. Knowing he would eventually succumb, but still in command of himself for the moment, he had run out of the room to his flyer, taken off and then activated the self-destruct, taking the Keeper with him. The Shadow allies discovered what had happened and tried to kidnap David. John had been captured in the chase and it was only in the cell on Centauri Prime when they were reunited that he had learned Delenn had managed to hand David over to another Ranger for safe-keeping before she herself had been captured. She remembered how, once Londo had released them, she had warned John's younger spirit not to go to Z'ha'dum. It was a selfish act, she knew that now. But it was only three years until he would be taken from her. No one could blame her for that moment of weakness, even if it had made no difference.

   She remembered when they returned to Minbar and saw the Ranger standing proudly before them, his hands on their son's shoulders. How David had run to them before they had managed to get more than a foot from the ship which had brought them home. How they had knelt on the floor and hugged each other, tears of joy streaming down their faces. And how for the next few days neither she nor John could bear to be apart from David and kept looking in on him as he slept.

   She remembered when David had joined the Anlashok, and how he had made a request that he be given no special treatment. Even so he had proved the best of his class. Telenn, Durhan's successor as instructor in the Dennbok, had said David was the finest student he had ever had, and that he had no doubt the boy would one day surpass even Durhan himself in skill. David had combined his mother's patience and diligence with his father's courage and ingenuity. Not to mention sheer stubbornness of will.

   And she remembered the day John left her. How she had gone to her room that night to find the bed cold. How she had drawn the pillow to herself to breathe again his scent and feel what little warmth there was left to her. She remembered how they had found his ship, but no sign of his body or that he had left the ship by normal means.

   She cried. They were soft tears, not the racking sobs that had torn her apart when she had said goodbye for the last time, but they would not stop.

   "Oh John!" she cried into the darkness, "I miss you so much. How could you leave me? I want to feel you again. Hold you again." Each sentence was punctuated with tears.

-----

She didn't know when she finally fell asleep, or how long she had lain there when she felt a change. It seemed like a warmth flooding the room. Her heart soared in her chest. She opened her eyes.

   *Delenn?*

   "John?" She looked around the room. It was silent and dark. He was not there. It was another dream. She had had so many dreams like this.

   *I am here, Delenn.*

   She stared into the darkness and it resolved itself into a ball of light, glowing deep and bright. As she watched it elongated and formed the outline of a figure, one she knew so well.

   "It's time, Delenn."

   There he was before her, tall and strong and young, as he had been when he first became President.

   He reached down to her and as his young hand touched her old one she saw a light spread from his fingers and slowly pass across her skin. As it did so, the wrinkles disappeared, the joints repaired, and the years dropped from her. It touched her heart and she felt a surge and then, suddenly, the body which had felt so old and tired and heavy seemed to fall away.

   She stood up. There was no pain, no dull aches or tiredness. She looked down and saw herself renewed. Her eyes misted over with tears, but not of sadness this time. She ran to him and he scooped her up in his arms and held her. He pulled away for a moment and then kissed her, his arms tightening around her as the kiss deepened. When finally he pulled back again his eyes were sparkling with happiness.

   "I've missed you Delenn! I've wanted to be with you again so much." He hugged her to him once more. "So much."

   She struggled to find the words. "How...?" her voice caught before she could master it once more. "How is this possible? Is this a dream?"

   She turned in his arms and looked at the bed. There, lying still and cold was herself. The shell that was her body lay there bereft of life. She gasped.

   "Is this the end?"

   He turned her in his arms, denying her the sight. He shook his head and smiled. "It's the beginning."

   She stroked his chest, pressing her hand to him as though she were afraid he would disappear, only to find he was as solid as she. "You came back."

   "They couldn't stop me."

   "How is this possible?"

   "I don't know!" His voice was filled with laughter and he stroked her hair back and gazed at her. "I honestly don't know. Maybe I was right. Lorien wasn't sure it would work."

   "What would work?"

   "That I could come back to you. That you could join me. I couldn't stay, Delenn. Not any more. Not without you. If it meant I could not return, it was worth it. I had to be with you."

   "Could not return?"

   "Beyond the Rim, Delenn. I've been beyond the Rim. And I found I was right. Out there is the truth." He caressed her face, "But I learned it's not enough. Not without you."

   He held her once more and whispered in her ear. "Will you come with me?"

   "Oh yes! Wherever you want to go."

   He released her and took her hand but she hesitated, looking past his shoulder to the door that led to the rest of the ship.

   "What?"

   "Can I see him again, before we go?"

   He smiled and, putting his arm around her waist, they left the room, passing through the door like mist. They found David's room and watched him as he pored over his reports. At one point he looked up as though he sensed them. There was a curious look on his face and he turned in the direction of her room as though trying to work out what he was feeling.

   "Can he see us?"

   "No."

   "Will he be all right?"

   "You've taught him well. He'll do just fine."

   They stood there watching him for a while until finally Sheridan hugged her once more. "It's time to go."

   They left the ship which now seemed insubstantial to her. Delenn gasped as they passed through a veil and stood among the stars. The White Star flowed away from them, lost in the mists of hyperspace. She could see it glowing with light and life and she followed its course until, far beyond normal reach, it was lost to her sight, yet still she could sense it and those aboard. He smiled.

   "You'll always be able to feel them and know where they are. And you can watch over them as I watched over you."

   They were alone together in the void. She looked around, her eyes shining with joy as she gazed upon stars and nebulae now revealed in all their glory to her naked sight. She turned back to him.

   "Did we make a difference?"

   "Yes."

   "I'm glad." She turned once more and looked beyond the stars. "Can we go there?"

   He began to glow with light, but where his hand touched hers the light faltered. He raised her face to his.

   "I love you. I will never leave you, Delenn. Not if the whole universe stood between us."

   Those words. He'd spoken them to her when he first returned from Z'ha'dum. "I don't want you to leave me. I never did. Take me with you, John. Show me the way." As she spoke the light from his hand strengthened until it was a fire which exploded, flooding her with light. Kindled by the love they shared it engulfed them both.

   *Lorien was almost right.*

   *About what?*

   *Love isn't an illusion. It goes hand in hand with hope and the truth. It makes them real.*

   The two lights merged into one, burning like a star. There was a last thought before the light began it's journey to the rim.

   *And we will bring them the truth.*

 

 

THE END



 

*****

 

 

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