ARE THINGS THAT ENCLOSE ME

By Lee B

 

 

 

John Sheridan stood looking at his wife, lying still, and unconscious in Medlab. Stephen, and his staff were moving around her in a flurry of activity. Sheridan was mentally kicking himself now, he knew he should have insisted that she make an appointment to see Stephen last week.

   His mind drifted back to the evening last week when..........

    Delenn seated on the sofa surrounded by sorted piles of flimsies, was hastily working through the stack of reports for the day, hoping to tie up her paperwork before their dinner arrived. She and John were hoping to enjoy the evening just being together, with no work to do. Glancing up briefly, her eyes rested on John, doing the same. He had pulled one of the chairs closer to the sofa, so they were at least near each other. He was oblivious to her scrutiny, as determined as she, to finish and put all work to rest for the evening. They had both had an unusually frenetic day, and the last several weeks in general had been difficult.

   Delenn returned to the task at hand with a sigh, at least, she thought to herself, she was almost finished. Thank goodness, she was very, very tired of paperwork, especially of late. Delenn of the family Mir, ambassador from Minbar, member of the Advisory Council for the Interstellar Alliance, diplomat extraordinaire, was sick and tired of politics.

   John heard her deep sigh, and he placed the last report that needed his signature on his finished pile. He looked over at her in curiosity, it was such a deep sigh. He smiled at her, but she was clearly lost in her thoughts, somewhere in another realm. He watched the shadows of thoughts and emotions play over her face, she looked tired. She had good reason to be he knew, they were both tired. At times it seemed as though from the day they met, they were destined to fall in love and be together, and then to forever fight the threat of being pulled apart by duty and obligation. He had told her once, that at times he felt like he carried Babylon 5 on his back while he crawled, on his knees, through broken glass. Now he had similar thoughts regarding the Interstellar Alliance, he believed in it deeply, they had conceptualized it together, it was his life's work, but it had also become his life's burden.

   The last six weeks had seen the fate of the very new Interstellar Alliance hanging in the balance. Could the Alliance weather the threat of war, the invitation and pressure to use overwhelming force to solve it difficulties? It could and it had survived one of its first and most difficult tests, but that hadn't lessened the daily mountain of paperwork it took to run the Alliance in the least.

   John again focused his eyes on Delenn, her life had hung in the balance when her White Star had been fired on, and Lennier's life as well. Michael was not acting himself, nor was Lyta. The Narns were trying to turn G'Kar into a virtual god. Nothing ever exactly slowed down or let up. He was learning that he could no longer wait for life to become peaceful, that wasn't going to happen, no, he needed to take time from it all if he wanted to be with his wife, and just enjoy doing normal things. They had learned to build in time for reading poetry, taking bubble baths, watching a vid. Their private time seemed always to be competing with fighting wars, negotiating treaties and generally having to save the galaxy or something. Whoa, he thought to himself, was his ego getting too big or was he getting morbid, he wasn't sure.

   Delenn too, placed her last finished report on its respective pile. She leaned back, closing her eyes, thinking of how tired she was at the moment, of the Interstellar Alliance. Her mind went back to the moment Lennier had returned to Babylon 5 from his intelligence gathering mission in Centauri space. She felt her stomach, once again, tie in knots as Lennier had handed over proof of the Centauri's responsibility for the attacks on Alliance ships, knowing that a declaration of war would follow.

   She recalled that evening, being unable to sleep or even go to bed, she had spent the night in meditation, trying to disturb John as little as possible. Her heart had ached for those that would lose their lives in the coming conflict. Her heart also ached, so incredibly, for her husband. John had risked so much, given so much; he had given up almost half of his life span for what he believed in, for what the Alliance stood for, it had all been in jeopardy, for what? Even now that it was over, no one knew with certainty what had prompted the Centauri Regent to declare war on the Alliance. Power, wealth, territory, none of those had been gained, though so much had been lost.

   Her own near fatal encounter with the Centauri, or what she thought had been the Centauri, came to mind, as her memories went over these last weeks. She had not believed she would live to see her beloved husband again. Her eyes started to well up as she remembered those hours, hoping desperately to be found, yet not believing it likely. She shrugged slightly in discomfort as she recalled Lennier's words to her when he believed they would be blown to the four corners of the galaxy, then his dismay, when they had not been. Her mouth tightened unconsciously. Lennier, Lennier, it was such a puzzle to sort out how to help him get beyond his feelings for her, and help him follow the calling of his heart toward his own future.

   Delenn sighed deeply again, feeling suddenly, overwhelmingly exhausted. She heard soft and soothing music begin playing in the room, smiling she knew John had started it. She listened closely and her smile grew, as her thoughts winged back to one of the few bright spots in the last couple of months.

   She saw images, etched in memory, of the evening she and John had spent together before Lennier's return, and before the declaration of war. He had played music that evening as well. He had planned a special dinner, a special dessert, they had danced holding each other close. When they had finished dancing, they had retired to the bedroom, and made love into the wee small hours of the morning.

    Delenn's smile deepened, she counted herself lucky to have such a romantic and thoughtful husband. Despite having a job that would bring most men to their knees, with the burden of it, he never let time slide away from them without finding ways to remind her how much he loved and cherished her. She had certainly felt both that evening. She loved him in return, so very much, at times it took her breath away.

   Delenn opened her eyes, and sought him out, finding him still sitting across from her, his own thoughts seeming to have gone far a field. As she watched the slow sensual smile steal across his face, she suspected his thoughts had landed exactly where hers had. As if sensing her scrutiny this time, his eyes focused, seeking hers. John noted her smile, and wondered if she were replaying the same memories he was. He winked at her and she flushed, he chuckled at that. She was such a provocative, bemusing mix of qualities. She was wise beyond her years, compassionate as a saint, fiery as a warrior, a passionate woman and innocent girl all wrapped up in one rather petite package, and oh, how he loved her.

   They were both startled out of their mutual reverie, when the door chimed. John grinned, and gestured for her to stay seated as she began to rise and answer the door.

   "Sit and relax, Delenn, I'll get it."

   He took the food from the boy, told him to put it on his account and sent him on his way. John was beginning to have thoughts about perhaps recreating, on a more modest scale, the evening he was sure both he and Delenn had been reminiscing about only moments earlier. Delenn was retrieving plates, glasses and silver in the kitchen.

   "Delenn, sit and let me get the rest, you have had a long day." She arched her brow at him.

   "And have you not also, had a long day, John?"

   "Yeah, but I didn't have to talk to the Narns or the Drazi or the Gaim today, and you had to meet with all of them." He grinned and gave a mock shudder. "I only had to do lots of paperwork and try to get through to Londo, which I never did, so I didn't even have to talk to him."

   She knew he had done a great deal more today, as well as having presided over his own share of frustrating diplomatic meetings. She gave him her trademark look of disapproval, the look one would think to bestow on small, mischievous boys. For one, she knew he was only trying to contact Londo at her insistence. John was still angry and irritated with the new Centuari emperor, and wanted to leave him "stewing in his own juices" as he had called it, for a bit longer. She knew he was only too happy that he hadn't been able to get through to Londo. She also gave him that look because she knew he was teasing her just so she would. But she would never let him know that.

   He laughed at her lovingly, sometimes he just couldn't resist "misbehaving" to get a reaction from her. She often chided him, though gently, about what seemed to her as lapses in proper protocol she felt he sometimes displayed regarding work; she felt this was not always appropriate given his position. He often teased that she was too serious, that she wasn't at temple anymore. She would just shake her head at him, but eventually he would always catch her smiling. He brought everything else they needed and sat on the corner near her. He grasped her hand in his and brought her fingers to his lips. Kissing them each, one by one.

   "I love you." She flushed again and he laughed at her. She batted at him with her hand, his dodge was more than successful.

   "Enough, John Sheridan, I am hungry."

   "Mmmmm, so am I," he arched his brows at her suggestively.

   She very pointedly, ignored him.

   "Oh, me too, I'm hungry too," he replied with a mischievous grin, as he turned his attention to the food not in the least deflated. The evening was still young. They had ordered food from another of the new vendors that had come to Babylon 5 in the last year or so. The food was a sort of Thai, Hunan mix, some of the dishes purported to be quite spicy. His first bite of the noodles had practically choked him.

   "Ah, Delenn, you might not want to try those." He pointed to the noodles on her plate, which she hadn't yet tasted. He knew from experience that most Minbari food was rather bland, and that Delenn didn't care for things that were too spicy.

   "I think I agree with you."

   She smiled as he continued to gulp down water after his own first mouthful. They had selected a variety of dishes, to be sure she would have something palatable for her tastes. She was enjoying their recent foray into trying dishes with different ethnic flavors, and she discovered that she did like more flavorful foods. She had, however, watched Michael eat something he had called a jalapeno pepper, and had ended up treating the blister that the vegetable had raised on his tongue with a special Minbari tea. That flavorful she was definitely not interested in.

   Delenn sampled the dishes that were milder, and found the rice and vegetable preparations to be quite good. She had taken only a few bites, however, when she began to feel a most distressing sensation in her stomach. Her throat began to feel constricted, she felt herself begin to sweat and salivate profusely. Her stomach felt as though it were convulsing. She had never felt anything like this in her life. She glanced up through eyes that seemed unfocussed, to see John's face grow immediately concerned.

   Delenn stood abruptly, and rushed toward the bathroom, desperate to splash some cool water on her face and neck, and feeling the overwhelming need to spit. She barely made it to the basin when the contents of her stomach were forcefully expelled into it. She found herself sinking to the floor, shaking and dizzy.

   "Delenn, are you ok, was it the food, was it too spicy?" John had rushed to her side and was pulling the hair back from her face, reaching for a cloth. He wet the cloth with cold water, wiped her mouth for her, then reached for another, soaked it in cold water, and placed in around the back of her neck.

   Delenn suddenly bolted upright as she felt her stomach revolt again, this time her stomach heaved but there was little left in it. She had eaten very little for lunch and Minbari metabolisms being very efficient and rapid, there was little else to expel. She sank back down into John's waiting arms. He got her some water to rinse her mouth and held her gently, rubbing her back, soothing her. The trembling in her body lessened and she tried to stand, suddenly feeling clammy and completely drained.

   "Delenn, maybe you should just sit for a minute." His voice was tinged with concern, as he noted her pallor, and that she had been shaking considerably when he held her.

   "I think I would feel better lying down." She rinsed out her mouth again and brushed her teeth trying to rid her mouth of the foul taste. "John, I am very unfamiliar with this....," she stumbled over how exactly to refer to what had happened. "Is this something common, to humans?" She questioned him, in a mildly dazed voice. He smiled in sympathy.

   "Yes, it is called vomiting and it is decidedly unpleasant."

   "To say the least," she whispered somewhat dryly. "Why is it that humans do this?"

   He couldn't help laughing out loud at the way she phrased the question, as though one would do it intentionally, or for a specific purpose. She gave him such a dejected look, he felt bad for laughing.

   "I'm sorry, Delenn, I'm not laughing at you, really. Humans don't do it intentionally. It usually happens when you have caught a bug or eaten food that is spoiled."

   "That must be it then," she nodded, "the food must be spoiled."

   "I don't think so, honey, I ate some and I feel fine. You must have picked up something around the station."

   "Picked up something? A bug as in insect, John, I do not understand."

   "No, bug is just a euphemism used for a germ, a bacteria or a virus, that causes sickness. It is often called the twenty four hour bug, meaning it usually only lasts for about a day then it goes away and you feel better. Look, Delenn, I'm going to call Stephen, and have him come take a look at you."

   "No, John, I am feeling much better now." She was walking slowly to the bedroom, John was walking right beside her, his hand on the small of her back, when she suddenly collapsed. He was taken by surprise, but still managed to catch her. He carried her to the bed, and was relieved to see her eyes open and looking at him. He smoothed the hair away from her face, concerned that she was still so pale.

   "That settles it, I am calling Stephen, right now. You are vomiting, which you've never done, and fainting......."

   "John, I do not believe we need to disturb Stephen, I am just weak, I am sure from the vomiting, I could feel every muscle in my body tense and lock, it is a very exhausting experience."

   "But if you have never vomited before, it can't be a good thing that you are doing it now."

   "John, you must remember," she gave him an indulgent smile, "I have only been, even partially human for a few years, it wouldn't be that unusual that I hadn't "picked up something", as you called it before this."

   "Delenn, it is better to be safe than sorry, what is the big deal to just have him come and take a quick look at you?"

   "John, I just want to sleep," as if on cue, she stifled a yawn. "I do not feel any pain, my heart and breathing feel normal, I do not believe this is serious, just unpleasant. Besides, Stephen works very hard and I do not wish to disturb his evening for a twenty four hour bug that is not serious, and will go away on its own." She noted the lines in his face expressing his tension and worry.

   "John, if I do not feel better in a short time, then you may call Stephen," she relented a bit. "But for now, would you help me into my nightgown, make me some tea, and sit; perhaps read me some poetry while I rest." She used her wheedling, pleading eyes and smile, and she knew he would do as she asked.

   "Oh, alright," he growled, "but I don't like it, and I mean it," he insisted, in the sternest voice he could manage through his concern, "if you aren't feeling better in an hour, then I am calling Stephen, and I think you should set up a time to see him tomorrow anyway."

   "John, let us see what tomorrow brings before we borrow its troubles, shall we?" She smiled and cupped his face in her hand. He leaned over her and kissed her forehead.

   "Okay, I'm just worried. I love you and don't want anything to happen to you, and I don't like seeing you not feeling well." She laughed softly at his expression and again moved her hand to his face.

   "My shining knight," she whispered, "I will be fine, I promise........................"

   She had promised and overridden his concerns. She had remained insistent that it was perhaps nothing more than her trying a variety of foods that were less than compatible with her digestive system. He had relented, put her to bed, fixed her some tea and read poetry to her. Within an hour she had fallen peacefully asleep. Any thoughts he'd had of reliving their previous romantic evening, forgotten, in his worry for her.

   The next morning she had awakened, adamant that she was fine. She had looked much better. He had watched her closely over the next couple of days, but she had seemed her typical, energetic self. Now he was kicking himself for not insisting she see Stephen anyway. She had promised him that she would be fine, she had promised and now..........

    Sheridan shook himself, shifting his thoughts from the memories of that evening back to this morning. She had stormed into his office, very definitely not herself. He and Stephen had been discussing what Sheridan was beginning to see as a conspiracy to drive him over the edge. He had just voiced to Stephen that the recent increase in irrational behavior was getting to him. First there had been Londo, then Michael's drinking, then Lyta and her unusual behavior. He had sworn to Stephen that if one more person were seen to be acting irrationally, he would shoot himself in the head. It was then that Delenn had stormed into his office, fuming and spouting obscenities. He and Stephen had both been taken off-guard, Sheridan didn't think he had ever heard Delenn swear.

   "Did she just.................?" Stephen had asked.

   "She did." Sheridan replied.

   "I'll get the gun." Franklin commented, oblivious to Sheridan's scowl.

   "Delenn? Are you......?"

   "Bastards!"

   "Yeah, we got that part." She was more incensed than he could recall ever having seen her.

   "The Narn government says they are going to boycott all of our ships until G'Kar comes home."

   "Well, that's not our choice, if he doesn't want to go." Stephen interjected.

   "They say, he's staying out of a sense of obligation, that if we tell him to go home, he will." She fumed some more.

   "They're insane." Sheridan blurted in exasperation, "here we go again" he thought, "just one more thing to drive me over the edge."

   "I know......," Delenn was practically tongue tied in her frustration, still pacing and gesticulating, she moved closer to Sheridan and Franklin. "And I just.....I don't think I can..........I......" And with that she had collapsed.

    He and Stephen had been so caught off guard they had barely managed to catch her before she hit the floor.

   From that moment to the present was mostly a blur, he had heard Stephen yelling into his link for a trauma team. He had tried to rouse her, while they were waiting, calling her name, stroking her cheek but to no avail. That had been over two hours ago. Stephen and his team had all been gathered around her, performing one test after another, then shaking their heads. They had started infusing fluids and something else. It looked as though something was seriously wrong. Delenn had still not regained consciousness. He groaned in frustration, he should have demanded that she see Stephen. He kept repeating to himself over and over, "she promised she would be fine, she promised she would be fine."

   John was about to go out of his mind. He wanted nothing more at the moment, than to storm in there and demand that someone tell him what was wrong with his wife. He knew such an action might make him feel less helpless, but it wouldn't help Delenn ---so he held himself in check, pacing and swearing under his breath.

   Another twenty minutes had dragged excruciatingly by, before Stephen emerged from the room behind the Plexiglas, and approached him. Stephen appeared pretty well wound himself.

   "Well, how is she?" Sheridan's voice was edged with his growing fear.

   "She's stable for now, only time will tell if her system can adjust to handle the stress she's putting on it. That's why she just shut down like that. Look you have to understand she's a Minbari-Human hybrid, things aren't gonna work the same."

   "Wait a minute. What are you talking about? What is wrong with her?" Sheridan's voice now registered exasperation and confusion to accompany his fear. He gave Franklin a questioning look. Stephen looked at him as though he was a little dense, then realized he hadn't told Sheridan his diagnosis.

   "She's pregnant."

   Sheridan's draw dropped, and his eyes widened, he was rendered momentarily speechless.

   "Pregnant!" His shock, disbelief, and concern chased each other across his tired features, as he digested Stephen's words.

   "I didn't even know if she could. I thought you said the blood tests were inconclusive." John's voice was shocked and bewildered not yet allowing the truth of Stephen's words to sink in.

   "No, I said I didn't know if the two of you could ever have children. We are in uncharted terrain, John." Franklin was running his hands over the back of his neck, gesturing toward Delenn in the other room. "I figured the odds were one hundred to one against. Which I guess just goes to show, I wasn't born to gamble." Stephen replied.

   "Do you want the child?"

   Sheridan was still in shock, he wanted to be overjoyed, but there were now too many unknowns that were part and parcel of the news that Stephen had just dropped in his lap.

   Sheridan turned to look again at Delenn, still lying unconscious in the room beyond the observation window. She looked pale and tired suddenly. How was it he had he missed that?

   "Will she be ok? You said this is putting a terrible strain on her system, will she be able to carry it full term and survive?" His voice full of fear and worry, warring with hope and joy.

   "I don't know. She's young, she's in good shape, she's strong willed that's for sure. If you're looking for a yes or no answer, I can't give you one. The odds are good, but as you've just seen, I have been wrong before."

   Sheridan turned away from Franklin, looking again at his wife, she was pregnant, carrying his baby, he felt suddenly overwhelmed and inadequate. They had talked about having children a lot, during their honeymoon, and in the early days of their marriage. They both very much wanted a child. He knew that part of his desire for a child stemmed from wanting to leave behind a part of himself, more than just what he had done in his life. He knew Delenn very much wanted to be a mother, and that she also wanted something tangible to hold onto when he was taken from her all too soon. The both wanted to share the joys, the burdens, the entire experience of parenting, of being a family.

   Those hopes had dimmed when they had talked with Stephen, shortly after returning to Babylon 5. Stephen had tried to be kind, but had let them know that he didn't think it would be likely that they would be able to conceive because of their genetic differences, he had done tests to be sure. The tests had not been encouraging. They had both been disappointed. They knew, however, that their love for each other would enable them to deal with knowing their family would begin and end with themselves. Now,.... perhaps.....would their dream come true?

   "If I have to choose between her and the baby; its her, Stephen. But if I can have both........" He turned to look at Franklin. "I want both." His voice was full of emotions he couldn't begin to sort out. His gaze shifted to his wife.

   "I know she would want it too."

    She was stirring now. Her eyes opened, she looked around, and realizing where she was, looked for him. She knew he would be here, somewhere not far away. Her head turned toward the window, and she saw him there looking at her, the look on his face one she had never seen. The love and tenderness so compelling, yet also fear and something else. His hand reached out unconsciously toward her ...........to touch her, but came only in contact with the window.

   His eyes locked and held hers. "What happened?" He saw her lips form the question.

   Sheridan glanced at Franklin, his hand still reaching out toward his wife. Franklin left John standing there and immediately went to talk with Delenn. Sheridan rushed in behind him.

   "Stephen, could I have a word with you for a moment?" Franklin looked at him in frustration.

   "Look, John, what is it? I want to check her over, ask her some questions, determine what we are dealing with here. I can't give you any more information until I talk to her and see how the fluids and electrolytes are working."

   Sheridan pulled him back out of the room keeping their backs to Delenn.

   "Yeah, okay, but, Stephen if you don't mind, I would like to share this news with my wife in private, not have her find out as part of your medical exam." His voice rose more than a little at the end. "And, Stephen, no offense to your medlab or your staff, but this is not exactly where I would choose to have that conversation," he gestured to all the people coming and going, bustling about. There was absolutely no privacy. Understanding dawned on Franklin's face.

   "Oh,..... ah,...... yeah I guess you're right",* Franklin grinned ruefully. "This is a first John, if Delenn does carry this child to term it could mean breakthroughs in genetics, infertility, who knows. As I said, this is not typical, I guess I'm a little excited and worried at the same time."

   "Fine, great, Stephen, but you need to remember that this is very personal and private for us, this isn't biology lab101, and my wife and child are not a lab experiment!"

   "John, you're right, I apologize, its just......well, like I said, this is a first, and, well, ........." Franklin's voice trailed off. "Sorry." Franklin gestured in apology, then rubbing his face in thought.

   "Okay John, I hear you, let me ask her some questions, I want to examine her again now that she is conscious and we have gotten some fluids, electrolytes and things into her. However, I want her under as little stress as possible until we know more about how her body is going to handle this. She will probably be the most comfortable home with you, if she remains stable there is no reason she should stay here."

   "She's only just regained consciousness? Will it be safe for her to come home?"

   "John, as I said this won't be completely typical but on the other hand pregnancy isn't a disease, it is a perfectly natural thing. We found that she was significantly dehydrated, her electrolytes were out of whack and she is pretty anemic, all common in early pregnancy, especially if she's been vomiting a lot. As I said we have had a chance to replace some fluids and electrolytes, we'll start her on some prenatal supplements and she should begin to gain some energy within the next day or so."

   "Well, if that is all it is, then why were you all running around, doing all those tests, shaking your heads? God you were scaring the hell out of me, out here." Stephen shook his head looking chagrined.

   "We couldn't figure out what the hell was wrong, it never occurred to me that she was pregnant, we were looking for everything else. It wasn't till I looked at the blood work more closely that I began to suspect."

   "Yeah, well, I didn't have a clue either, obviously. Stephen how many weeks?"

   "At this point my guess is five or six weeks. Now, as I was saying, the less physical and emotional stress the better. I will want to monitor her very closely, to see how she is doing, how her body is handling the increased demands, but I know she's not going to want to stay here if she doesn't have to. If you do take her home tonight, it is with orders for strict bed rest for the next couple of days." Franklin looked at him pointedly.

   "Hey Doc, you won't get any argument from me on that point." Sheridan looked at him puzzled. Franklin cleared his throat.

    " I mean strict bed rest, no unnecessary physical exertion."

   "Stephen, I have the feeling I am being just a little dense here, but I agree that all meetings and duties everything should be cancelled. I know she can be stubborn, but I can see to it that in this instance she follows your orders." Sheridan's demeanor was once again disintegrating into pure irritation.

   "John," Stephen was a little embarrassed. "At least for the next few days, until we have a little more information, it wouldn't be a good idea for the two of you to....to have intercourse." The light dawned for Sheridan. He eyes bored into Franklins, and then he opened his mouth.

    "Stephen, are you insane! For god's sake she's been laying in there unconscious for hours and I have been worried sick about her, and we still don't know if she is in danger or not! I can control myself, it wasn't my first thought to get her home and ....... and........" Sheridan was practically yelling. "John, just calm down." Stephen held his hands in front of him, as if to ward off the barrage of words coming from his friend.

   "It's just that this is a very emotional time for couples, and a strong sense of bonding begins to happen, its the most natural thing in the world to express that physically. At this point we just don't know how fragile this pregnancy is, so we need to be cautious."

   "Alright, alright, point taken. Now rather than discussing my sex life here in the corridor of your lovely facility, can we move on?" Sheridan's was getting more crotchety and cranky by the moment. "Sure, I won't tell her anything, which I'll have you know isn't going to be easy," Franklin scowled. "Give me a few minutes and let me see how things look." Sheridan nodded.

   "Look, Stephen, I am sorry for losing it, I'm just a little overwhelmed here. We are not going to take any chances, none, nothing can happen to her do you understand me, nothing." Stephen's eyes met his and Stephen noted the worry and concern overriding all other emotions. He gripped Sheridan's shoulder tightly, in a comforting gesture, and nodded.

   John knew he was trying by force of will to protect the woman he loved, and now his child. He knew intrinsically that Stephen would take the best care possible, the rest was out of either of their hands. He just could not bear the thought of losing her, he couldn't bear it, not like this.

   Stephen walked into the room and Delenn immediately began to sit up. Franklin rushed to her side.

   "Slowly now, Delenn, take it easy. How are you feeling?"

   "Tired and a bit weak. What happened Stephen?" She looked at him steadily, clearly wanting some answers. Stephen had pulled a curtain around the bed for privacy, and Delenn was looking around for Sheridan.

   "You fainted. Are you feeling any pain, anywhere, any discomfort?" Franklin asked.

   "No, not at all. What is wrong?"

   "We are still running some tests and gathering some information." Franklin replied noncommittally.

   "Stephen, where is John?"

   "He's waiting right outside."

   "I would like him to be here."

   "Okay, frankly, I think that is not a bad idea, he has been very difficult to deal with this afternoon, I'll have you know." Stephen's words came out more vehemently than he had intended, and Delenn smiled in sympathy for him.

   "I'll be right back." She nodded at his back as he left. Franklin was only too happy to have Sheridan participate in this cross examination, he knew Delenn had a lot of questions, and she was going to want some real answers soon.

   "What happened John, Stephen?" She repeated her question looking from one to the other as they walked back in together. "What is wrong?" Her voice was rising now, and she was getting very frustrated with both of them. Sheridan and Franklin exchanged glances.

   "As I said, Delenn, we are still running some tests, we need more information."

   Delenn was looking puzzled. She kept glancing from Sheridan to Franklin and catching them, each looking at the other, clearly not thinking that she noticed. She swung her legs off the bed and Sheridan was there instantly, solicitously taking her hand. As she held his hand she could feel it trembling. She looked deeply into his eyes with a question in hers, but could not read him.

   "John?" He smiled reassuringly at her.

   "Its okay, Delenn, Stephen thinks that I can take you home tonight, and you can come back for him to check on you tomorrow." Franklin's brow furrowed.

   "Delenn, have you been experiencing nausea or vomiting, particularly in the mornings?" Delenn gave Sheridan a guilty look.

   "Well, no, not exactly. Once last week at dinner, and again for the last few days I have felt very ill during the afternoon hours, I would not be able to eat, nor hold it down if I did, then by evening I felt fine. The nausea would simply go away, and I would think it had passed. I was going to come and see you, Stephen, if it continued." She looked over at Sheridan who was glowering at her.

   "Delenn, why didn't you tell me?" He was indignant.

   "I did not want to worry you, John, really. It was just that when I would decide I should talk to Stephen about it, I would feel better." She shrugged her shoulders somewhat meekly looking at the two of them frowning at her.

   "That would help to explain the weakness and the fainting." Franklin added. "For now it looks like it will be okay to take her home. Try to get her to eat; something light, and as many fluids and she can take." "And," he turned to Delenn, "I want to see you in here, in the morning."

   "John, Stephen! Do not continue to talk about me as though I were not here, I want to know what is wrong." She was beyond frustrated, she was becoming angry. Something about the way they were acting did not fit. They were acting as though something was seriously wrong, yet they were not acting as though she was in any real danger.

   Franklin looked at Sheridan, and grinned, as if to say now its your turn. He had dealt with a cranky Sheridan all afternoon, now it was Sheridan's turn to deal with his wife, as she became increasingly frustrated with their vagueness.

   "Right, I'll let you two go home now. Remember any discomfort, or anymore fainting, and I want her back here immediately, and call a team, don't have her walk. Goodnight, John, Delenn." Stephen nodded to both of them, and left them alone.

   "Delenn, lets go home and I will fill you in." His voice was low and tender. He was trying to forestall the questions and the frustration that was ready to boil over into anger.

   "John, you are not a doctor."

   "Delenn, it will be okay. I want to take you home now. Please, can we finish this discussion there." He put his arm around her and bent to gently brush her mouth with his lips. His eyes begging her to follow his lead on this one. He held her tightly and yet, as though she were infinitely precious and fragile.

   Delenn looked in his face, and discerned she would get no answers here. It was abundantly clear to her that John wanted to talk with her in private, and not in the rather public setting of the medlab. She smiled up at him and acquiesced.

    "Alright then, John, take me home. I want some answers and soon."

   They got in the transport tube just outside medlab, and John gave green 17 as the destination. Those were her quarters, it should have been John's quarters they were staying in tonight. He then pulled her to him, so tightly that he was bearing her weight almost entirely. He held his arms around her the whole time, but said nothing. She could only wonder at what he had to tell her. The transport tube stopped, and before she took a step, John swept her up in his arms, carrying her down the corridor to her door. He punched in her code with one hand, carrying her straight to her bed, where he set her down, very gently.

   "John Sheridan, what is going on? I want you to tell me immediately." She demanded. She took his face in her hands and locked her gaze with his, not allowing him to break eye contact with her.

   He smiled, a smile that spread across his whole face, and lighted his eyes. He was fairly beaming. He took her hands in his.

   "Delenn, we are going to have a baby. You are going to have a baby, you are pregnant, that is why you fainted." He paused to let the information sink in.

   Delenn's face expressed her unpreparedness for what she had heard him say. Then as the rising of the morning sun, her face lit up, and her eyes filled with tears. She said nothing, but pulled him fiercely to her, and they held each other, with no words, for a long time.

    "I didn't know, I didn't have any idea." She gasped through her tears.

   Sheridan laughed in his joy, reaching toward her face and using his thumbs to gently and tenderly wipe away her tears.

    "Obviously, Delenn, because I have to tell you when most couples have this conversation the tables are turned."

   "How do you mean?" She asked and sniffling, and crying.

   "Well it is usually the mother to be that knows these things first. You probably would have suspected, if you had been born half human, half minbari, but since you weren't, there are still apparently some gaps in your knowledge of human anatomy and physiology."

   "I do not understand what you are talking about."

   "Well, for one, now that I think about it, how long has it been since the last time you had a period? And the vomiting is called morning sickness."

   "But I was not sick in the morning." He laughed.

   "Its called morning sickness because most women experience it in the morning, but it can happen anytime. When Lizzie was pregnant the first time she was always sick at night. The thing is, Delenn, most women, if they miss a period and get queasy, soon begin to wonder if they might not be pregnant."

   "And how is it that you know all of this, Mr. President?" She teased him gently.

   "Well, even us guys tend to pick up that bit of cultural knowledge as we go along. If I had been paying closer attention, and if I had known about your being sick several days in a row.........." He gave her a disapproving look for having kept that from him. "I might have suspected myself. But neither of us thought this was a possibility so we didn't even consider it."

   "I don't know why I am crying, I am very happy." She gave him a watery smile as her tears continued to fall.

   "Oh, that is probably just hormones." He shrugged off her concern over the tears.

   "But John, why is Stephen running more tests, he is worried, what is he worried about?" Sheridan's face became more serious.

   "Stephen is not sure that you will be able to carry the baby to term. He said that the pregnancy is creating a significant strain on your system. Delenn, he can't tell us what will happen and we need to take one day at a time, but............" He hesitated. "As much as I want this baby and love this child, our child already, I need you to know that I cannot, will not trade your life, for the life of this child."

   "John, what are you saying, what are you asking me?" She placed her hands on his face, looking deeply into his eyes, seeing his worry and his fear there.

   "If there is any danger to you, I want to terminate the pregnancy." His eyes held hers, and he watched the look of wonderment and joy fade and her face grow ashen. It was killing him inside, to have had to dampen the mood of joy and excitement they had shared only moments before, but he could not be less than truthful with her, no matter how much he wanted to protect her.

    "I don't know what Minbari beliefs are around pregnancy and the sanctity of life, when a life is considered to begin, but, Delenn, I cannot lose you this way." His voice was shaking with emotion, and his hands tightened on hers almost painfully, as if he were unconsciously emphasizing his feelings. She smiled her beautiful, patient and wise smile at him, moving her hand to smooth his hair, to trace his cheek his, brow, his mouth.

   "John, it will be alright, our baby will be fine, and I will be fine."

   "But what if you are not, what if the baby is not? Delenn, I need to know the decision you would make, if things do not go as we expect."

   "John, Minbari believe that all life is sacred, this you know. We also believe that we are all fragments of the universe attempting to learn about and understand itself, this you also know. We believe that all souls live many lifetimes, often connecting with other souls that we have journeyed with before."

   "Delenn, I............" She interrupted him.

   "If this soul is meant to join us now, it will, if not now, perhaps another time. If we remain open to the unfolding of the universe as it is meant to be, there will be no need for us to make the decision that is torturing you so. Minbari believe that there is only danger if I would be so determined to have this happen my way. If I were to be determined to use my life energy to force the universe to do my bidding, then complications might arise to put my life in jeopardy. If we remain open to this new life choosing for itself, to stay or to go, all will be well. Relax, my beloved, and enjoy the news that you are going to be a father." He shook his head at her way of looking at the universe. He knew that she believed this without question, that she was at peace about it. Well, then, for the moment it would be enough for him as well. And tomorrow.........for tonight at least, he decided, he would leave tomorrow to take care of itself.

   Sheridan smiled as he pulled her mouth to his, bringing her into his lap. He held her so gently and tenderly, his whole body conveying to her how much he loved her, and how excited and happy he was that they were going to have a baby. He held her for several moments while they dreamed of the future they would have with their child. Eventually he released her, and laid her back down on the bed while he stood.

   "I almost forgot, Stephen said to get some nourishment into you, and fluids, especially since you haven't been keeping much down lately."

   "John, I am really not very hungry."

   "How about just some broth and some juice then, please try to eat something for my peace of mind?" He cajoled her. " I don't want Stephen to order you back to medlab because he thinks I can't take good care of you. And just so you know, Stephen has ordered complete bed rest for the next couple of days. I cancelled all your meetings and everything until we hear otherwise."

   "Joooohhhhnn," she dragged out the pronunciation of his name. "I really don't think that it will be necessary to go to that extreme." He bent down and kissed her again.

   "I am not going to take any chances, you are going to follow the doctors orders to the letter, and I have the authority to see that you do. Now don't argue with me for a minute while I fix something for you to eat."

   "What are you going to eat?"

   "Oh right, I am not very hungry either, but I will find something. You just lie back and relax, and take care of yourself and our baby." His eyes shone so bright as he gently caressed his hand over her abdomen.

   Her hand joined his and her eyes again filled with happy tears. She pulled him back down beside her on the bed, and they lay there for a long while, talking softly, teasing about whether the baby would be a boy or a girl, thinking what he or she might look like, whose, eyes, mouth, chin, it would have. They had both lapsed into a momentary silence, lost in their own thoughts, as they lay holding each other.

   John began to chuckle, the sound vibrating through his chest against Delenn's cheek as she rested against him.

   "What?" She asked in amusement.

   "I bet it was our romantic little evening with the chocolate strawberries," he laughed.

   She looked at him, bemused.

   "I'm sure that is when our little guest decided to join us," he smiled as he again rested his hand on her abdomen. Comprehension dawned on her face, and she too smiled.

   "I believe you are right." She giggled. That had been a very wonderful evening and they had certainly provided many opportunities for conception before the night was over. She laughed with him, and leaned over kissing him deeply as she recalled their night of passionate love making.

   John returned her kiss full measure, their mouths together suddenly felt intoxicating, an incredibly powerful pull towards one another. Their kisses deepened, their mouths opening, as their tongues explored each other. The kiss becoming more passionate and arousing. John felt himself beginning to go over the edge of control. He pulled back abruptly, gasping for air, though not releasing his hold on her.

   "John?" Delenn's voice registered her confusion, and her surprise at his abrupt interruption, she felt his arousal pressing into her, and couldn't believe he didn't want this to continue where it was going.

   "Delenn......" his voice had that low, sensual, gravelly quality, that it took on when he was aroused. "You've only just gotten out of medlab, and aaaah......, Stephen said it wouldn't be a good idea for us to ..............."

   "You discussed this with Stephen!" Her incredulous voice interrupted him.

   "Well, no, not exactly, he brought it up. He said that this is a very emotional time for most couples, and finding out you are having a baby is a powerfully bonding experience. He said that couples often express that physically, but he said that until we know more about how fragile this pregnancy is we should abstain, to be on the safe side."

   "Oh," Her voice carried a mixture of understanding and disappointment. She looked over at her husband and noted his sheepish look.

   "John, what?"

   "Well," he grinned at her a little ruefully, "its just that when Stephen brought it up, I yelled at him and asked him if he was insane, thinking that I was going to get you out of medlab, rush you home and ravish you, there was nothing further from my mind at the time, I was so worried about you. Must be he was right though," his eyes traveled over her face and body wolfishly, "there is nothing I want more, right now, than to make love with you all night long."

   She laughed at the longing in his voice. Though she had to admit that she herself was feeling very aroused and wanted very much to follow through on those feelings.

   "Well, I am certain we will find tomorrow that everything is fine, and I believe I will take a rain check on that ravishing, Mr. President." She smiled seductively at him, as she recalled how she learned the meaning of that particular phrase. His face lit up in a devilish grin.

   "I believe you may still have my I. O. U., Ambassador."

   "I believe I do at that." She leaned over and placed her mouth on his, instantly the kiss deepened, and almost without realizing it he had shifted himself over her, covering her body with his, again they were rapidly losing control. John moaned into her mouth, pulling away. Delenn, by now, very flustered.

   "John, I am sorry, I did not mean to tease you. I ......I......." She looked up into his eyes, her face flushed adorably. John groaned and rolled away from her, resting beside her. He took several deep breaths, trying to regain his composure, and bring certain parts of his anatomy at ease.

   "That's probably the hormones too," He answered still somewhat breathless.

   "Hormones, what do you mean?"

   "Well, when a woman is pregnant, there are a lot more hormones in her body, the increased hormones cause emotional ups and downs, like crying and stuff, and some women, or so I have heard, feel an increase in their sexuality."

   Their eyes locked and he knew they were thinking the same thing. Delenn had always been as interested as he when it came to their physical relationship, if her interest got turned up a notch or two?

   "I could be in trouble here," he thought out loud with a big grin on his face.

   "I will try to be very gentle with you my beloved." Her hand moved to caress his face. He laughed out loud. He wasn't sure how serious, or how tongue in cheek she meant those words, either way the predicament seemed quite amusing. He was certain he would be up to the challenge, glancing in the general direction of his fly, he sighed, yeah he thought, he would definitely be "up" to the challenge.

   As he was lost in his thoughts, her hands were continuing to move over his face, she bent again to kiss him, placing small kisses on his face, the line of his jaw, she moved lower to his neck.

   "DELENN," his voice was slightly strangled, "I am only human, here." She giggled for a moment then started to cry.

   "John, I do not know what is happening, I feel that I am not entirely in control of my actions or emotions."

   "Shhhhh, honey, its okay, it has been an overwhelming day, it is probably part pregnancy hormones, and adrenaline and emotional overload. And Stephen was right, I feel it too, this overwhelming depth of connection to you. I would not have thought I could have felt any more bonded to you than I did on our wedding night and since, but knowing that we are having a baby, that inside your body you carry a life that is both of us, that we created together, it is such an incredible feeling. It makes me want to hold you so close, to be part of you." He offered her his sleeve and helped her wipe away her tears.

   He grinned and winked at her trying to lighten the mood a little, "we could call Stephen and have him check you back into medlab."

   "What are you saying? I don't want to go back to medlab."

   "We could tell Stephen that you keep making advances toward me and he has to help protect my virtue. After all I am the President of the Alliance, and it wouldn't do to have an ambassador expect special considerations in exchange for sexual favors." She smacked him hard.

   "Owwwww, I was just kidding," he pouted. "Be careful, or you are going to maim your baby's father before it is ever born. Now, before things really get out of hand, I had better get you something to eat, Stephen will kill me if I don't feed you. Then I am going to grab a shower," he looked at her wistfully, "probably a cold one, and then we need to gets some sleep."

   He got her to take some broth and juice, and went for his shower. He found her sound asleep, when he came out of the bathroom, still toweling his hair, she really had been exhausted, despite the emotional high they had been on. It had indeed, been an exhausting day for both of them. Sheridan finished drying off, and climbed into the bed carefully, so as not to disturb her. He moved his body close to hers, and settled himself to try and sleep.

   Sleep did not immediately come, he was too wound up, too excited. As he had told her earlier, the love that always welled up inside him for her, was infinitely more powerful than he had ever experienced. He would not have believed that possible. He felt overwhelmed with the emotions evoked by this new life that was growing inside her, even now, as he watched her sleep. A child, whose life was begun out of the expression of their love and commitment to one another, that joined their hearts, and their blood, and the very essence of who they were, their child. It was truly astonishing. He couldn't take his eyes off her, watching her as she lay there quietly. He fought the urge to reach out and touch her, not wanting to awaken her. Gradually he relaxed as he watched her breathe, his hand coming to rest lightly on her belly, falling into a deep and peaceful sleep, he dreamed. Dreams of his wife, the future and their family.

 

*****

 

 

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