Disclaimer: All of the usual stuff - all the characters in this piece are owned by J Michael Straczynski, Babylonian Productions™ and Warners™.
Author’s Note: This is so short it barely deserves the name of ‘fic’ – just an idea that I liked so I thought I’d spread it around. Set during the party in Deconstruction of Falling Stars, with reference to Z’ha’dum.
Yet quietly my captain awaits my silence.
‘You were right – this really is one hell of a party.’
The voice isn’t entirely unexpected but somehow it still comes as a surprise to hear it so close to his ear. Michael turns in his seat, looks at the face smiling back at him and can’t decide if the smile is forced or not. The still unfamiliar beard hides part of his face – but the eyes seem warm enough.
‘Only the best,’ he replies and he means it even if the intention behind the words doesn’t quite seem to make it to the air. It had been his idea, the celebration of victory. Of many victories. Of reclaiming things that had been lost. And he’s been lost for a long time. But now that it’s come to it he can’t get himself into the spirit of it. It’s been a long time since he’s needed a drink this badly.
John hands him one of the glasses he’s carrying, takes the stool next to him. ‘Here – orange juice.’
‘Of course – how else?’
They share a smile. It’s a nice feeling – something familiar, something easy... Not easy, maybe, not quite. Not yet. Out of the corners of his eyes he examines his friend’s face. John still looks a little thinner than before, the lines harsher, more angular; there is something guarded in the depths of his eyes, not all that noticeable unless you look for it and Michael is looking for it.
There are no roads back, he thinks; he knows this because he’s tried it before and it hasn’t worked. But he still can’t stop himself from going over all the things that led to this moment. He remembers the first time he shared a drink with John Sheridan. Those first weeks when they had watched each other, uncertainty almost bordering on hostility at times, on both sides; and then had come the respect, the admiration – and then friendship, without him even noticing it. And at some point, he thinks, at some point John Sheridan had become the man that he would have followed all the way into hell. Probably asking all the awkward questions on the way there, but he would have gone.
It had ended up that he’d gone into a different hell, all on his own.
And now he can’t decide which is worse – John’s anger or his forgiveness.
He needs a drink. He takes the orange juice instead and thinks that there isn’t enough alcohol in the world to numb him anyway.
The party has reached the cheerful, raucous point. Voices raised in song, joining in with the music and not quite keeping in time or in key. He shifts on his stool, angles himself more towards his companion.
‘Don’t.’ He has both hands around his glass and has been staring vaguely at its contents; but he raises his head and then raises a hand. ‘It’s... Just don’t. It’s over, okay? Finished. Let’s- Let’s just leave it at that.’
Michael stares at him a moment, draws a breath. ‘So, what? We don’t talk about it?’
‘No. Not now.’
There is silence again, blotting out the sounds around them. It is neither an easy nor an uneasy one, it simply is. Like it’s waiting, holding its breath.
Michael takes another pull on the juice, addresses the patch of air in front of his mouth. ‘I hear they’ve been having good weather back on Earth.’
John is still and then smiles a little. ‘I heard that too – but it’s snowing in New York.’
There is another look, another smile. There are no roads back, but there are still roads.
For what is your friend that you should seek him
with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be
laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its
morning and is refreshed.
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