NIGHT OUT

By Pam Buck

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: All characters owned and trademarked by PTEN, Turner, Warner Bros., Babylonian Productions, are obviously theirs. I have just borrowed John Sheridan, Delenn, and the others briefly. This is my first foray into John and Delenn fan fiction. All feed back is welcome. This story takes place between 404- Falling Toward Apotheosis and 405 -- The Long Night.

 

 

 

 

 *****

   Chapter One

   John Sheridan, the last, good looking captain of Babylon 5, sorted through his dirty laundry for the week. It was nice to be able to do something that was so mundane as laundry after the last few days. He had just unpacked all the stuff Commander Ivanova had packed to send back to his family. Fortunately, he had come back from the dead before she could tell his parents of his untimely death. Ditching Lorien for the night, he had decided he should get his living quarters back in shape. Standing only in his boxer shorts, he made small piles of clothing on the bed, each pile a different color. Darks on one side of the bed, lights on the other, uniforms in the middle. He held up his cherished pair of Joe Boxer boxer shorts, the ones with the little yellow happy faces and sighed. He sighed, knowing the new "little woman" probably won't approve of his unorthodox underwear. "Oh well, maybe she won't see them," Sheridan said out loud as he crumpled them up and threw them on top of the heap. Almost as an omen of things to come, the door bell chimed.

   "Open," Sheridan shouted from the partitioned off bedroom area. He didn't bother to greet his guest at the door. He knew it was Delenn, right on time for their dinner date. She could linger a little while in the living area while he finished the last minute touches on his hair. He didn't want it to stand up too much, since his last unfortunate trip to the barber. All the hair mousse in the world wasn't going to tame his unruly cowlick now. "I'll be out in just a second, Delenn." He rummaged around in his closet, looking for something to wear other than his uniform. It was to be a casual night now, just the two of them, without a lot of "work talk". Every other sentence lately between the two of them seemed to have either the word 'Shadow' or 'Vorlon' in it.

   Delenn had been standing in the living area, just outside the bedroom area. Oh sure, she could have rushed right in and threw Sheridan down on the bed, and done him right there, but she was more reserved than that. Besides, she didn't want to get her new dress thrashed in the throes of love making. She had gone for the casual, non-Minbari ambassador look, instead choosing a practical human style of dress.

   "All right, John, but remember, dinner reservation are at eight Earth standard time!" Delenn shouted back.

   "All time on Babylon 5 is Earth standard time, Delenn. You don't need to add that." John stuck his head around the partition, keeping the rest of his body hidden, "Could you throw me that shirt over there on the back of that chair?" he asked, pointing to a blue shirt across the room. Delenn walked over and grabbed it.

   "Come and get it," she said, teasing him by not moving an inch closer to where he was half hidden by the small wall. She held it up for inspection.

   "I can't. I'm just wearing my boxer shorts," John called back.

   "So? I've seen your boxer shorts before."

   "When!?" John shouted, shocked and amazed at this come back.

   Delenn wanted to make the customary human remark, "D'Uh," but she thought better of it and said, "Ritual number forty seven...remember? The three nights I watch you sleep ritual? Remember how we were rudely interrupted by some bitch (Writer's note: I highly doubt Delenn would use the phrase 'bitch' but I bet it would have sounded really good with the accent) with red hair claiming to be your wife? You throw the covers off...a lot. I've seen those smiling face shorts you wear." John blushed three shades of red before settling in on a deep burgundy. Finally, with a quick sigh, he boldly marched up to Delenn and snatched away his shirt. "Nice shorts," she added, noticing he had on Winnie the Pooh boxer shorts.

   "Yeah, well," he stammered, "they were a gift from Garibaldi. I made fun of his Daffy Duck boxers one day, and I ended up with these. It's laundry day! The rest of my stuff is in the wash." John went back in to his bedroom area to finish dressing.

   "Why would they name a bear Winnie the Pooh? Isn't a "pooh"..."

   "YES, yes it is and lets just leave it at that, " John yelled cutting Delenn off in mid-sentence. Just a quick brush across the pearly white teeth and they would be out there, thus avoiding any more potentially embarrassing questions.

   "John?" Delenn called out again from the living area. John had just started brushing his teeth.

   "Whhabbb?" he garbled back. He could just barely hear her over the running water.

   "What's this?" Delenn asked. John sighed. How could he know exactly what she was concerned with if he was in the other room? He emerged, toothbrush still sticking out of his mouth. In the other room, Delenn held a crumpled metallic heap, about the size of a really large paper weight.

   "OH shitbb," he sputtered, toothpaste flying everywhere including on the front of his nice clean blue shirt. "Damnit!" he said, taking the toothbrush out of his mouth and lying on the countertop. Delenn looked quite concerned. Not so much because he was spewing forth toothpaste, but because of the object she held in her hand. John stopped a moment, collected his thoughts and said, "It's burnt Flarn. Yeah, it's an experiment in cooking. I was just going to whip you up some Flarn, you know, as a surprise, but things went terribly wrong. Come on, honey, lets go." He looked down at his bare wrist, "It's almost eight." Delenn wasn't budging.

   "This is not Flarn, Mister!" Delenn said. "This is a piece of Minbari war ship."

   "No, no...now why would I have a piece of Minbari warship here in my quarters." John looked everywhere around the room except directly at Delenn.

   "John Sheridan....is this or is this not a piece of the Minbari warship The Blackstar?" Delenn put the object back on the countertop, next to the bowl of oranges.

   "Uhh...."

   "You will answer the question, Captain...."

   "Uhhrr....No?"

   "Then why does it say 'Blackstar' right here in Minbari?" Delenn said, pointing to some very small writing in Minbari script on one of the crumpled folds of metal.

   "All right, yes. Yes, it is a piece of the Blackstar. Ivanova gave it to me over two years ago, and you are just now noticing it?"

   "You've always had it hidden until now. I found it amongst the oranges. That's not exactly what I would call out in the open now is it?" Delenn stalked around the room. "Maybe I should just leave now?" Delenn made her way to the door. These conflicting emotions were all new to Delenn. The feelings of anger because John had lied to her confused her. She wasn't sure what the 'human' response should have been. The Minbari side of her said, 'reflect and meditate on the problem' and the 'human' side said, 'be angry and walk out.'

   John picked up the piece of the Blackstar, looked it over then set it back down on the counter top. "You know, it wasn't my vote that caused the Earth-Minbari War." The gloves had been thrown down; the referee was no where to be found; the fighting had begun. Off in the other room, the muffled chirping of John's comlink could be heard. "Great...now what?" he asked himself. Delenn was still standing by the door, deciding if she should walk out, or wait it out. She decided to wait until John came back from the bedroom. Muffled cussing could be heard as John rustled around looking for the elusive comlink. Finally he found it, under the pillow.

   "Sheridan, go." he said into the comlink. "What is it this time? Raiders? Earth-Force? Second Coming of God? Been there, done that."

   "No, nothing like that all, Captain," the voice on the other end said. "I was just wondering if you were going to play baseball tonight." The voice on the other end was that of Garibaldi. "Tonight is baseball night, you know. Can't get enough of those left-handed hitters."

   "Damn. I forgot. No, I'll have to pass tonight. It's date night and things aren't going all that well."

   "I see... Something I can help you with, Captain?" Garibaldi asked.

   "Yeah, like you are so smooth with the women. No, I think I can figure this out for myself. Just a little cultural difference."

   "You should have listened to me, John. Don't date aliens. Garibaldi out." John collected his thoughts. He could go an apologize to Delenn. After all, he had thrown a few low punches. It was looking like an old fashioned Mexican stand-off. Who was going to apologize first? John thought it would be best just to grab his baseball hat and go play baseball with Garibaldi. In fact, he snatched his hat off the back of the chair in his room and marched out of his bedroom area back into the living area. Delenn was still there, looking radiant. John realized in an instant he was being a fool.

   "Where are you going, John?" Delenn asked, looking at his crumpled baseball hat in his hand. "You aren't exactly dressed to go anywhere. Unless you are playing, what's that called, strip baseball?" John looked down at himself, still dressed only in his Winnie the Pooh boxers, clutching only his Agamemnon baseball hat.

   "Nowhere," he answered. "I just came out here to collect some things." He grabbed the chunk of the Blackstar off the counter top, and dropped it into his hat. "I'm sorry, Delenn. I just didn't think about it. You and I are different."

   "John, I don't want this to come as a complete shock to you, but, I am Minbari," Delenn said sarcastically. She had been working on her sarcasm skills. "We are always going to be different."

   "I realize that. You know, I have been busy. It's not easy to remember to hide incriminating relics from the Earth-Minbari War, when you are busy coming back from the dead, fighting the war with the Shadows, and trying to cultivate a relationship," John said angrily.

   "You don't have to shout. When you shout, it sounds like you have been gargling with rocks. We both have our skeletons in the closet, John. There will be other startling revelations yet to come as we grow more comfortable with each other."

   "Does it really sound like I gargle with rocks?" John asked.

   "Yes," Delenn said, "Now, why don't we try to go to dinner now? It's probably way past eight Earth standard...just eight." John looked down at his shirt. It now had dried toothpaste all over it.

   "I have to find another shirt," John said, wondering where he was going to find yet another clean shirt. Back in to the bedroom again. This time Delenn followed him.

   "I'll help you look," she said. She noticed all the laundry piled on top of the bed. "I see you have a great deal of creative underwear here." She held up another pair of Joe Boxers. This time, the boxer shorts had giant robots on them.

   "I keep them for sentimental value. I liked robots when I was a kid, okay? I also have a pair with horseys on them, so stop rummaging through my dirty laundry." John yanked down the last shirt hanging in the closet and put it on. "Do you mind? I'm nearly naked here." Delenn didn't turn away.

   "Again, nothing I haven't seen before. Or won't see again," she said, smiling. "From the looks of things here, I guess it's sleep over night at my quarters tonight."

   "Hummm...sounds good to me," John said, buttoning the last of the buttons on his shirt. Delenn threw the boxers she was still holding on top of the heap.

   "You won't be needing those," she said, with a sly smile, "Although, I eagerly await seeing those 'horsey' shorts. That could be a whole new ritual right there."

   -----

   Chapter Two

   "Out," John said, shooing Delenn out of the bedroom, "I'll be ready in a minute. We can talk about 'horsey shorts' later." John threw on his shirt, pants and shoes. He grabbed his link off the night stand and adhered it to the back of his right hand. He hesitated at first to even grab the link and take it with him. He had left instructions with Commander Ivanova to contact him only if Babylon 5 was threatened by some sort of unstoppable, indestructible, alien presence, hell bent on destroying the station. Anything short of that, there was going to be trouble. Just the same, John couldn't be out of touch with Command and Control. It made him feel uncomfortable. He took one last look around the room, then shut off the light. He meet Delenn out in the living room. She appraised his attire, shopping him up and down with a glance of her eyes. She nodded approvingly. Taking her arm, he said, "Let's get out of here before anything else happens."

   As they waited for the central transport tube, Garibaldi met up with them. He had on his sweats and baseball hat, toting his gym bag.

   "Captain..." Garibaldi said, "The team is going to miss you tonight."

   "The team has more than one catcher, Michael. It's only one game, and not exactly the World Series," John said, as the entered the transport tube. Delenn shot a glance at John. Michael seemed more than a little angry with John's decision to go out to dinner rather than play ball. It had been John's idea to play baseball in the first place. He thought everyone needed a bit of a recreational break from all the war strategy meetings. Everyone on the command staff was tired and stressed from the last week's activities. Baseball seemed like a good idea, until John decided he wanted to put his personal life back on track as well.

   "John, if you want to play baseball, you can. We could always do this another night," Delenn said, taking a seat between Garibaldi and John. Delenn knew the friendship between Michael and John had been strained since John's return from Z'Ha'Dum and Michael's return from God knew where.

   "No, Delenn. There might not be 'another night'. We are going to dinner, and that's that," John said angrily. He was angry that Garibaldi was baiting him into an argument over baseball. Lately it seemed like Garibaldi had been baiting him in to several small petty arguments. Luckily, the next stop was Garibaldi's. John stood up, despite the low gravity within the confines of the transport tube, so he could use his squinty-eyed glare on Garibaldi. The kind of threatening glare that burns through you forehead and comes out the back of your head.

   "See ya, Captain. Zack can play catcher tonight," Garibaldi said, standing and exiting the tube. "Hope you have a real good time," he said, dripping with bitterness. The doors closed behind him, and John slumped down in the seat across from Delenn.

   "That probably could have gone better," John said, "I don't know what been going on Garibaldi's head lately. He just seems like a changed person since he came back."

   "And what do you think they say about you, John?" Delenn asked. She looked at him, making sure his eyes met hers. "Nobody has been the same since you went to Z'Ha'Dum."

   "I suppose you are right as always, Delenn," John said, leaning his head against the window. He looked up at the ceiling, "It just seems like he hates me, just because I'm alive."

   "There is nothing you can do about it tonight, John. We are going to dinner and as you said, that's that." The transport tube had arrived at their stop. Delenn stood and offered her hand to John to help him up. "There will be other baseball games and other times to talk to Michael. We will get through this coming storm."

   "Yes, but Zack is a lousy catcher," John said, smiling as he took Delenn's hand.

   The Eclipse Cafe (I had to work that in somehow) wasn't the best restaurant in the Zocalo, but it was a nice change from eating in the Officer's Mess hall. John hadn't been out to dinner since he could remember. Most of the time he caught lunch or dinner in the officer's mess or whatever he could nuke (and no, that doesn't mean his deceased wife) in his quarters at home. He had experimented with cooking for Delenn, but that incident soon became legendary and painful. He hadn't experimented with Flarn since. And if Delenn was left to prepare the meal, it would be a two-day, ritual filled ceremony with very little eating. Besides, John hadn't taken Delenn out to really celebrate their engagement. Word had gotten around already about their engagement; people were talking through-out Babylon 5. That kind of announcement got around quick in an enclosed environment such as Babylon 5. The general public probably knew when John had bought the ring in the Zocalo. And as always, the general public had their opinions about their engagement. In the Babylon 5 Free Press, a conservative editor had proclaimed John and Delenn's relationship as "An abomination to the human race. The human race will be diluted with the inferior genetics of aliens." John had wanted to smack the editor, to beat him within an inch of his life, but what would that have accomplished? It would have looked as if he was repressing the free speech of Babylon 5. Then there would be more heated arguments, and more commentary, and so on. Delenn was right; there would always be differences between the two of them.

   The waitress who met them, led them to a waiting table near the back of the restaurant.

   "Your usual table, sir?" the waitress asked.

   "No, I want a good table this time," John said, smiling. The waitress just stared blankly at him, obviously not getting John's private joke.

   "What, sir?" she asked.

   "Part of the new cruelty?" John asked. The waitress continued to stare blankly at John but now Delenn had joined her in staring. John realized the joke was lost and just motioned with his hand to have her lead on. It was a fairly secluded booth, with only two other tables near by, which were occupied by other small parties. A group of four men sat directly to the left of the John and Delenn's booth, and a guy and girl couple sat directly behind them. John took the offered menu, and started browsing. He noted there were many strange foods on the menu. 'It must be hard to find food that appeals to most of the races represented on Babylon 5,' John thought. There were North American Earth standards such as steak and potatoes, followed on the menu by Flarn Ala Orange and something called Spooforewe. John thought he might go with something different on the menu, but Flarn was out of the question. He hadn't brought himself to tell Delenn he hated Flarn, but eventually it was going to come up. Delenn sized up the menu as well. She hadn't exactly been restaurant hopping since their first dinner together almost two years ago. Delenn had thought about that first date just before she had met John at his quarters. She couldn't believe it was over two years ago Captain John Sheridan had come to Babylon 5. So much had happened, it seemed like just 48 hours ago.

   "John?" Delenn asked. John looked up from his menu. Delenn looked resplendent in the low light of the Eclipse Café. John had to wonder why he was so lucky to have the only good looking ambassador on Babylon 5 as his fiancee. "What are you going to order?" John looked the menu over, while he wondered to himself, 'Why do people always ask that when you go out to dinner?'

   "Steak. A nice, big, fat, juicy steak. Medium raw," John said, putting his menu down in front of him.

   "Do you think that is wise, John? I do not want to have to take out the waist in your uniform later," Delenn said, smiling. John frowned, knowing what she was insinuating.

   "What!? I'll have you know, Delenn, I'm not fat."

   "I did not say 'fat' now did I?"

   "No, but I know what you're were thinking."

   "Well then I better call the Psi Corp and let them know I have a rogue telepath with me."

   "Very funny, Delenn. You have to get steak when you can get it. It's not easy getting real beef up here with President Clark's embargo on Babylon 5. Fortunately, we've been doing a lot of trading with one of the break away colony worlds, Bandini Prime, whose sole export is cow."

   Delenn made a strange face. "Cows, John?"

   "Yes, Delenn," John said, looking at her curiously. "That's where steaks come from."

   "I might be naive about a few Earth customs, but I did not just fall off the first Minbari cruiser passing by. I do know what a cow is. I just never thought about eating them. It just seems wrong, somehow."

   "They are delicious. Sliced, cooked, then smothered in mushrooms. Just perfect," John said. He started looking around the small area for their waitress, but she was no where to found. 'Typical,' John thought. Only then did he realize they were being watched by the table of four men across from them. John noticed they were openly staring at the two of them.

   "Can I help you gentlemen," John asked.

   "We were just trying to figure out what the attraction is. What do you see in that half whatever she is?" the first guy said, standing to move closer to John and Delenn's table.

   "Hey Kenny!" one of the other guys said, still sitting at the table. "Don't start nothing, okay? Don't you know who he is?!" The guy questioning Kenny's motives looked positively ashen, and he was sweating bullets. Whispering now, but still loud enough to be heard by everyone in the small section, he said, "It's Captain Sheridan, Kenny! He is back from the dead!" Kenny turned to the guy and raised his fist at him. Kenny stood about six feet six inches, and weighed about 260 pounds. He was a big hulking man who was probably one of the dockers from the docking guild. A disgruntled dock worker at that, from what John could tell. He was probably one of the dockers who had lost his job when President Clark declared Babylon 5 off limits. Since the break away from Earth Gov. shipments of goods had nearly stopped. Several hundred dock workers had lost their jobs. Many believed Captain Sheridan was solely responsible for the break away, and they were angry. They believed it was Captain Sheridan's personal vendetta against Earth, and it didn't have anything to do with the dockers.

   "Don't tell me what I can and can't do, Stan. This is between me and him. He isn't God ya know. He needs to know what's really going on!" Turning back to John, Kenny brought his fist down on the table, causing the silverware and glasses to jump. Turning to Delenn, Kenny said, "What are you anyway? Minbari? Human?" Delenn just stared him down, not moving an inch from where she sat. "We wouldn't be in this situation now if it weren't for these aliens trying to subvert our Earth government. Always trying to influence us, then trying to change to be more like us! President Clark is right! Aliens will be the undoing of the human race!"

   "That's enough!" John shouted. He stood to face his aggressor. Surreptitiously, he took his link off the back of his hand and slid it under the table to Delenn. She took it from him under the table, and kept her thumb near the button to activate it if things were not going to be worked out diplomatically. Reason didn't seem to be high on this man list. "Get over, man. The war is over. Can't you see what President Clark is doing is wrong? There are far greater threats in the galaxy right now than President Clark!" You could see the light behind Kenny's eyes change to a fiery red. John tried to reach out to placate the man, but that only lowered John's guard. With a yell of angry and anguish, Kenny brought his right fist up off the table and landed a sucker punch square on John's left eye. Knocked off balance by the blow, he fell, slamming his jaw on the table as he went down. The couple who were sitting directly in back of their table took this opportunity to leave, stepping around the fallen John Sheridan. Delenn had the link activated and was calling into it, asking for Garibaldi. Only on the second time after reaching the recording, "Garibaldi is not on-line" did she remember the baseball game. The three other guys from the table jumped up to restrain their friend Kenny from throwing any more blows, but John was still on the floor.

   "Oh my god, Kenny! You killed him!" the scared guy from the table said, as he held Kenny's arms behind his back. He looked at the fallen Sheridan on the floor. Delenn finally managed to reach Security Central, who said they would dispatch someone right away to the disturbance. Delenn slid out from the booth and knelt down to see if John had been knocked out cold by the blow. He was still on floor, but he wasn't unconscious, just doubled over covering his left side of his face. Delenn offered her hand to him, and helped him sit back into the booth. By this time, Zack had arrived.

   "I thought you were going to play baseball tonight, Zack," Delenn asked, momentarily forgetting John who still had his head in his hands.

   "Mr. G. didn't want me to play. He said I was a lousy catcher so he made the team forfeit the game instead," Zack said. He handcuffed Kenny and motioned to his three other $5.15 an hour security drones to handcuff Kenny's friends and take them as well. The friends all began to protest stating they didn't have anything to do with it but Zack pointed his P.P.G. at them and said, "Guilty by association." Zack turned his attention back to John. "Captain...are you all right?" John looked up at him, still covering his left side with his hand. Zack noticed the trickle of blood running down John wrist where his palm was holding his jaw.

   "I think so," John mumbled. At least that's what Zack thought the captain had said. It came out slurred, through John's clenched teeth.

   "Captain, I think you should get checked out in Med-Lab. It looks pretty bad," Zack said, finishing up with his prisoners. Delenn was looking at John with concern in her eyes. She reached over to gently pull his hand away from his face.

   "Let me see, John," Delenn said. John pulled away from her, repeating his 'I'm fine' slur. "Please John." John slowly took his hand away from his face. His eye was beginning to swell quickly, and the blow had ruptured the small capillaries in the white of his eye. The cut on the side of his chin was bleeding profusely and there was a bruise starting to form around the cut. Delenn winced just looking at the side of his face.

   "That bad, huh?" John asked. Delenn handed him a napkin off the table to put over the cut to stop the flow of blood. 'Yet another shirt ruined,' John thought, noticing the blood dripped down the front of it.

   "Zack is right. Doctor Franklin should look at your jaw and your eye, John. What if it's broken? There is much too much a stake here. You have a fleet of ships massed outside Babylon 5 waiting on your command to move out. There are billions of people depending on you and your ability to make profound speeches. You can't be struggling in pain," Delenn said, helping him back on to his feet. The waitress, who had strangely been absent through the whole altercation, appeared with a plastic sack of ice and handed it to John. He held it to his face, but it seemed to only make the pain worse. Little flashes of light danced in front of his eyes, and he thought he might pass out, but Delenn held him firmly by the arm. She led him out of the restaurant and down the corridors to Med-lab. Luckily for John, it was quite late in the evening now, and the corridors were barren. He didn't want to explain to subordinates why his face had been knocked in during dinner.

   They reached Med-lab without incident, and fortunately Doctor Franklin was still on duty. It would be easier to explain the situation to the chief of staff rather than some med-tech. Doctor Franklin took one look at John and just shook his head sadly. He motioned for Delenn to have him take a seat on the exam table.

   "Weren't you just in here earlier in the week? Got another Vorlon stuck inside you?" Doctor Franklin said.

   "If that is your idea of humor, Stephen, it needs work. It was a drunk dock worker with a chip on his shoulder and a President Clark is God pin," John said. He laid the bag of ice down beside him so Doctor Franklin could take a closer look at his eye.

   "How many fingers do you see, Captain?" Stephen held up two fingers.

   "Two. Can I go now?"

   "No. Open your mouth." Stephen grabbed his pen light out of his jacket. "I want to see if your jaw is all right." John looked over to Delenn who had taken a seat outside the examination area and then back to Stephen. He managed to open his mouth about a quarter of an inch. "That's the best you can do, Captain?"

   "Yes..." John said. Stephen reached up to turn John's head to the right, but John flinched away before Stephen could touch his face.

   "If you aren't going to cooperate I'm going to tie you to that table. Now, let me take a closer look." John let Stephen manipulate his jaw ever so slightly, wincing with each movement. "It's not broken, Captain, but it's going to be pretty sore in the morning." He poked around John's mouth his pen light, trying to see if any damage had been done to his teeth. "I can heal up the cut with some butterfly closures, so you don't have to worry about stitches. It should heal up without leaving a scar. The eye injury is minor, but if you have any trouble seeing or the swelling doesn't go down, you will report back to me immediately. Oh, and you may want to eat soft food for awhile. It looks like you broke a molar," Stephen went over to get a tray of bandages and a hypo.

   "Hey, what's that for?" John asked, immediately leery of any sort of medication in a hypo.

   "Roll up your sleeve, Captain."

   "That's okay. I don't need anything. Just close up the cut, give me some ice, and I'm good to go." John looked like he was going to bolt for the door, but Stephen brought the tray with his supplies on it back over to the exam table.

   "Don't be such a baby, Captain. What would Delenn say? Don't make me go out there and get her so she can hold you down while I give you this shot."

   "You don't play fair, do you, Stephen?"

   "No, now roll up your sleeve." John still hesitated to unbutton the cuffs of his shirt, eyeing the hypo next to him the whole time. "Captain, there are so many other places I can put this hypo. Please make it easier for me and less embarrassing for you, and roll up your sleeve." John saw that this was one fight he wasn't going to win. He unbuttoned the cuff of his right sleeve and rolled it up past his biceps. Stephen put the finishing closures on John's chin, leaving him with a row of six little white strips across his jaw line. John winced and looked away when Stephen gave him the injection.

   "What was in that?" John asked, rubbing at the spot when the medication had gone in.

   "Something to help the swelling go down, to fight off any infection, and a pain killer. This way the swelling and bruising should be gone in a couple of days rather than a week without the medication. Go back to your quarters and lay down and put some ice on your face. The ice will help with the swelling too." John jumped down from the exam table, and Stephen led him out to where Delenn was waiting. Speaking to Delenn, Stephen said, "Take him straight back to his quarters and make sure he lies down. I gave him something for the pain that should be knocking him on his butt in about 20 minutes." He handed Delenn a chemical ice pack. "Make sure he uses this."

   "He's already been knocked on his butt once tonight, Dr. Franklin," Delenn said. She took John by the hand.

   "It's a figure of speech, Delenn," John said. "Thanks Stephen, and try not to let this get around, huh?"

   "Remember, if it doesn't get better in few days, I want you back here. Don't make me come looking for you," Stephen called out after them as John and Delenn left the Med-lab.

   Back at John's quarters, Delenn moved the dirty clothes piles off the bed and placed them in the laundry basket. John rummaged around the kitchen looking for something to eat. 'Some dinner', he thought. He finally found a jar of apple sauce he didn't really remember buying. He silently prayed it hadn't been there since before he moved in. He sat down at the counter, dug in to with a spoon not even bothering to pour it into a bowl. However, he found getting into his clenched jaw was an another problem all together. He finally just gave up on dinner for the night. He tossed the applesauce aside, and looked down at his hat still sitting on the counter top. He picked up the chunk of the Blackstar and thought back to how the night had begun. It should have been an omen to him not to leave his quarters. He should have just order Chinese take-out and had it delivered. It would have been a nice quiet evening, just Delenn and himself. The medication was starting to take effect, and suddenly he was terribly sleepy. He grabbed his ice pack and headed for the bedroom. Delenn had straightened up his bed, and turned down the covers. He sat on the bed and Delenn sat down next to him.

   "You sure do know how to show a girl a good time, John," Delenn said, taking his hand in hers. John looked at her incredulously.

   "Where did you learn that phrase?" John asked.

   "Commander Ivanova, I think."

   "Ha! Funny. I guess this wasn't a very good celebration. I don't want you to think this foreshadows all that is to come."

   "No, I think what is to come will be far worse than a black eye and a sore chin. The war is nearly upon us, John. There is still so much to do."

   "Yes, but after the war, there will be time between us, and there will be those who try to drive us apart. There are those who don't understand what we have together. It will seem like we never get a break, or a time to be alone." John started to take off his bloodied shirt. (AAHH...don't get excited. It's not that kind of story!) Delenn helped him get his shirt off and tossed in the laundry basket with the rest of the clothes. His eye and chin were starting to feel very far off, and he was nodding off even as he tried to take his shoes off. She helped him untie his shoe laces and he kicked off his shoes and pulled off his slacks. Delenn laughed again at his Winnie the Pooh boxers. She helped him slide between the covers on the bed, and placed the ice pack on the side of his face. She could tell he was nearly asleep.

   "This is just the start of things to come. We will deal with those individuals who do not care for our relationship when the time comes. Until then, we have each other. Now go to sleep." She gently kissed him on his forehead, but he was out cold. 'Knocked on his butt', Delenn mused. She told the computer to shut off the light in the bedroom and showed herself to the door. "Lights out," she said as she exited his quarters.

 

 *****

 

 

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