RAIN CHECK (II)

By Lee B

 

 

 

He laughed, there were still some human phrases that she did not yet understand. "A rain check is like an IOU."

   "I ......O......U....."? Another questioning glance.

   "Yes, it's ah well when you ....... Well a rain check is when you don't have the time to do something, or you are sick or something, so you get a "rain check" and pick up where you left off, so to speak, at another time". Her face was clearly puzzled.

   "John, I understand what it means to reschedule or postpone something, but what does rain have to do with us needing to resume our duties now and continue this.........". With that statement she reached up and brought his mouth to hers. Her lips started at the corner of his mouth and moved over his lips her tongue gliding along his lower lip, pressing against it. Knowing better, he opened his mouth to her anyway and their tongues met and tangled till they both needed more air. ".........later," she breathed.

   "Delenn, you are not playing fair." He was flustered and trying to get some distance from her. After all, they were still newly weds and had waited a long time before becoming intimate; it was difficult some times to maintain their professional decorum just now when all they wanted was to be with each other, with no one else around. Sheridan was thinking to himself that after all, he was only human. "Ah, wha.....what was the question?" She laughed.

   "We were discussing rain checks and IOU's."

   "Oh, yeah right. Well it had to do with rain because in earth history some things that would have taken place outside would have to be postponed because it would be raining."

   "Oh." Her expression told him that she understood but still didn't really understand. "It is not raining now John." She smiled flirtatiously. He somehow felt as though the collar of his shirt was becoming tighter. "And what is an IOU?" He cleared his throat.

   "Well .......ah......an IOU is when, say for instance, I owed you something that I couldn't deliver right now, so I would write out a piece of paper that said I owed you whatever, and that I agreed to deliver at a stated time. Then I would put my signature to the paper and give it to you to hold as proof of the agreement, and you present the IOU and I'm supposed to come across with the goods." She smiled at him a little wickedly.

   "Well, Mister. President, since you refuse to "deliver" now, I will give you a rain check if you will give me an IOU. And I hope you realize the seriousness of being indebted to one of the most influential ambassadors in the Alliance." He grinned and moved closer to her again. He tilted his head and raised his right hand as if swearing an oath.

   "Oh trust me, Ambassador, I realize the enormity of the diplomatic ramifications if I were to not honor this debt. And may I say I have never been more happily indebted to anyone." He bent his head for a brief kiss this time, knowing better than to press fate too closely.

   "Rain check." As always, she repeated a new phrase to begin to incorporate it into her repertoire. "By all means then, Mr. President, you may have your rain check, when I get my IOU." Her face then grew serious. "But now I am going to talk to Mr. Allen about your security detail." She kept her hand in his, her eyes locked with his, as long as possible as she moved away from him and left the room.

   He shook his head. She was ............she was more than all of his words could define, and he thanked the universe for bringing her into his life. He would not have been nor would he continue to be, able to walk the path that he walked, without her strength, courage and support. The role that life had handed to him, and that he had accepted, was a very heavy one indeed, as was hers. They both needed the person that the other one was, to continue to walk the path that was shaping a galaxy, and the future.

   Sheridan triggered his link. "Sheridan to C&C."

   "C&C, go ahead Mister President."

   He still always was expecting to hear Captain at the other end of their sentences; it took him a minute to respond.

   "Yes, patch me through to Mr. Allen."

   "Yes, sir."

   Sheridan heard Zach's voice--------"Security."

   "Zach, it's me, I want a guard stationed outside my office until further notice, or until we get this guy. The detail goes where I go, at least until after the ceremony this afternoon."

   "Ah, yes.......yes, sir." Zach's voice sounded startled and unbelieving.

   Was he really that predictable, he thought to himself. "Yeah, I know Zach, but I promised someone, besides it is the smart thing to do, and sometimes....... well sometimes, she outranks me." His voice had a laugh in it.

   Zach looked up, his mouth open, as he saw Ambassador Delenn standing in front of his desk with a small slightly triumphant smile on her face. She had walked into his office just in time to hear Sheridan's last sentence.

   "Any leads yet, Zach?" Zach's attention was drawn back to his link.

   "No sir, but every available person is working on it, and we are working out the details for securing the ceremony as we speak."

   "Good, but don't go overboard, Zach .........." Zach looked at Delenn to see the smile leave her face, her mouth opened to interrupt Sheridan in protest.

   "More isn't always better, Zach, just get this guy so we can get on with business. I have a new Alliance to run, and this guy is getting in my way." His voice was hard and impatient now. "Sheridan out."

   "Yes, sir." Zach responded reflexively, even though he knew that Sheridan had already terminated the conversation.

   He looked at Delenn. "Ambassador, I assume you are here to help arrange for the security for the ceremony."

   "Yes, Mr. Allen."

   Zach started to say something but she interrupted him.

   "And remember you heard him say that sometimes I outrank him. This is one of those times; are we absolutely, crystal, clear on this matter, Mr. Allen?" She emphasized, using a phrase she had often heard John use.

   "Yes, Ambassador, crystal clear."

   "Good, see to it that a guard is placed outside John's office and goes with him everywhere, and I do mean everywhere, until this man is caught.--" "-And, Mr. Allen, I want to be the one to brief the guard, as well as the security detail, and I will also be assigning a detail of rangers, as well."

   "Ah...." He knew from the look on her face that he might as well just agree, she wasn't going to take no for an answer, and she would figure out some way to pull rank on him to see that it was done the way she wanted it. "Sure, Ambassador. I'll send the detail to you for briefing within the next 30 minutes."

   "Thank you, Zach." She touched his arm, and her smile reflected her gratitude.

   "Yes, ma'am."

   Sheridan had worked in his office most of the remaining time before the ceremony; he hadn't really noticed the presence of security until he left for his quarters to shower and change . The guard followed him the whole way, staying a pace or two behind and saying nothing. Sheridan was reminded just why he hated this sort of thing. He was already inwardly seething at the necessity of having a guard with him by the time they reached his door. And he was starting to wish he could think of any way to change his mind, without his wife divorcing him immediately, or who knew, she might even resort to bodily harm if she was angry enough with him. When the guard started to follow him into his quarters, however, that was where he drew the line.

   Sheridan held up a hand. "You can wait right outside the door here, that will be fine."

   "But, sir, I had strict instructions not to leave you alone in any place, anywhere."

   "Instructions from whom?" Sheridan asked.

   "Ambassador Delenn, sir, she briefed me herself. She was very clear, sir." Sheridan wasn't sure, but he thought the guard's voice almost squeaked out of nervousness.

   Sheridan could swear he saw beads of sweat forming on the security guard's face. He grinned a little. He could just about imagine the look that Delenn had given this guy when briefing him. He wouldn't want to be on the bad side of that look either. She was definitely being very thorough.

   "Yes, well, you can wait right out here, and I will call you if I need anything."

   "Sir, Ambassador Delenn was very specific, sir, she said not to leave you alone anywhere." His voice was sounding more and more nervous.

   Sheridan was beginning to rub the back of his neck, a sure sign that he was beginning to get really aggravated. "Look, Thompson, I know the ambassador wanted someone with me at all times today, but there is only one entrance to my quarters, so if you're out here, nobody can get in there." Sheridan emphasized with his finger. "And I draw the line at needing someone to nursemaid me through a shower and change of clothing. You will wait out here while I prepare for the ceremony in there. Is that perfectly clear to you, Thompson?" Sheridan thought he heard the man gulp.

   "Yes, Mr. President, perfectly clear, sir."

   "Thank you."

   Sheridan walked into his quarters, expelling a frustrated breath through pursed lips. He was getting more frustrated and angry with this whole turn of events. He hadn't even wanted this damned inauguration in the first place, but now was all but forced to go through with it, or make the Alliance appear weak and unprepared. Welcome to your new life, he thought to himself. He was removing his jacket and unbuttoning his shirt as he moved toward his bedroom. In an instant he froze, as he heard a noise from the bedroom. Odd the doors were closed, he knew he hadn't closed them when he had left this morning. He reached into the desk in the living room, and pulled out a PPG he kept for emergencies. As the president of the Alliance, he no longer wore a side arm; but he just didn't feel comfortable not having one around in case he needed it, especially after so many years of wearing one. He pressed the energy cap into the charged position. He walked quietly across the room,and silently slid open the bedroom doors. There was definitely someone moving around in the bathroom. Footsteps were moving closer to the door leading to the bedroom. Sheridan quickly crossed the bedroom and backed up against the far wall to the left of the bathroom door. He waited as the steps drew closer and closer to his position. As the person stepped into the door frame he placed the PPG to their temple, then immediately dropped it to the floor as though it had burned through his hand.

   "My God! Delenn, what are you doing here?" His face was ashen and he was yelling loudly.

   "John!" Delenn's face was also deathly white. She had been in the process of knotting her bathrobe around her waist, but when he had startled her she had dropped the belt; she was standing there, frozen and aghast, naked underneath the bathrobe. "I was getting ready for the ceremony...........!!"

   Her explanation was interrupted by a PPG blast as Thompson, and a whole security detail, burst through the door. Sheridan reflexively spun Delenn around and pushed her back into the bathroom, then bent and picked up the PPG.

   Thompson, on high alert, took in the scene before him. Delenn with a robe wide open without anything on beneath it; Sheridan pushing her out of the line of fire back through the bathroom door, and Sheridan picking up a PPG off the floor.

   "Sir, we heard voices and yelling, you were supposed to be the only one in here." The rest of the guards were getting ready to do a thorough search of the place.

   Sheridan waved off the detail. "It is okay, Thompson, everything is fine." His voice had begun to take on that gravely, rough quality that indicated he was getting very irritated.

   Thompson's eyes once again went to the PPG that the president was holding, and to the sounds coming from the bathroom. He wasn't sure exactly what was happening here, but it was clear to him that Sheridan was exerting an enormous amount of effort to control his temper. It was just registering that they had blasted their way into Sheridan's quarters, pretty much most of the detail had gotten the view of Ambassador Delenn with out her clothing, and there was no intruder. Thompson's adam's apple was moving up and down rapidly as he gulped in air trying to slow down his breathing. Today was most definitely not his day. He respected Sheridan immensely, and would lay down his life for him, but never again in his life did he want to be closer than 50 feet from him.

   "Thompson, you and your men can take it back outside." Sheridan's voice was tight and terse.

   "Sir, I ........it sounded like there was an intruder, sir. Mister President, I apologize for our mistake." Sheridan opened his mouth then stopped. He shook his head and relaxed just slightly.

   "Thompson.....", his voice trailed off. "Ah, look, Ambassador Delenn......... I was not expecting her to be here until a bit later, we both kind of surprised each other. Everything is okay, and you can go back outside the door, we'll let you know if we need anything." His smile was tight-lipped and pasted on, as he guided Thompson out of his quarters. Thompson turned and surveyed the room once more as he was being escorted out, he saw ambassador Delenn step out of the bathroom, this time the robe she was wearing belted securely. Thompson looked at Sheridan's expression and didn't even bother to think about arguing.

   "Yes, sir."

   "John!" Delenn's voice was raised as she began.

   "Delenn!!" He interrupted. "What are you doing here? I could have killed you, damnit!" His voice wasn't just raised, he was yelling. He felt as though he wanted to grab someone by the throat and choke the life out of them.

   Delenn began to get indignant, he was yelling at her and she had done nothing to deserve it. Before she opened her mouth to begin yelling back, however, she realized that it was simply his way, pretty much the way all humans and particularly males coped with their intense fears, by turning them into intense angers. Once he had a moment to realize they were both all right he would calm down a bit. No good would come of turning this into an argument that would have nothing to do with whatever they ended up arguing about. After all, that fight or flight mechanism, as the humans called it, had served them well as a species, in evolutionary terms, but it played havoc with their interpersonal relationships.

   "John......." Her voice was calm, much calmer than she felt. "I came to prepare for the ceremony, I did not expect that you would be here for another while yet. And I did not expect you would be walking about with a weapon drawn. I didn't think you even carried one anymore." Her voice did rise just a bit at the end.

   Sheridan was starting to calm down a bit, his heart was not racing so madly and feeling as though it were skipping beats. "I don't carry one anymore, but I have one here in case we need it. And damn, I just didn't think about you coming here instead of your place to get ready. With having guards with me everywhere, and this whole assassination threat, I guess I am getting just a little paranoid. I had just argued with Thompson to get him to wait outside, and then I walk in here and there was clearly someone in here. It just did not even cross my mind that it would be you." He looked at her sheepishly. "All I thought of was that it was an intruder. I guess I am not entirely used to the fact that I am now not living alone anymore, especially with the way we are alternating quarters and neither of us being really here or there." He went to her and pulled her into his arms and held her tightly. "If anything had happened to you.......... I want this guy off my station and out of our lives. Right now, I swear, if I could get my hands on him, I would have all I could do to keep myself from killing him with my bare hands." His jaw clenched and he was almost hurting her, he was holding on so tight.

   She held to him tightly in return. This was beginning to seem like a nightmare from which they could not wake themselves. She stepped back from him slightly, and ran her hands from his chest to his face. She needed to touch him, she always felt when she was near him that pull for physical contact. She often had to restrain herself in public; in the council chambers, to keep from touching his face, his arm, reaching for his hand. It was an intense and powerful bond that they shared, and situations such as this only seemed to intensify it.

   "I am fine, and we will get through this. And we both need to get dressed for the ceremony, it is now less than an hour away", she reminded.

   He nodded, "I'm going to shower really quickly and I will be right with you. Wait for me, okay?" He bent and gently kissed her lips.

   She smiled. "Of course I will wait for you; you are after all my escort, it wouldn't do to appear at such an affair without an escort." She flirted.

   She saw his eyes darken as he turned and looked at her and stepped closer. She knew what that look meant, and what he had on his mind. "John Sheridan, we have to go; go get in the shower, now."

   "You could always join me, help me wash up; it would go faster." He grinned back, seductively continuing their flirting.

   She felt herself flushing with the intensity of his gaze, and the thought of what he had on his mind. "John, you know we cannot be late, and we do not have time for this now." She smiled at him. "If you wish to claim your rain check later you had better hurry now." She kissed him quickly as she now pushed him through the door and closed it behind him.

   "Hey!" She heard him protest half-heartedly. "What's the universe coming to when a guy can't even proposition his own wife! I think you're going to owe me two rain checks, Ambassador!", he stated loudly. She could hear him continuing to mutter as he went about getting ready.

   John stepped out of the bathroom about thirty minutes later, showered, his beard neatly trimmed and dressed in a very attractive looking dark suit. Delenn had finished dressing a few minutes earlier, and was checking in with security and Michael from the living room. She turned as she heard John's step behind her. He stopped in his tracks.

   "Wow, you look absolutely beautiful, Delenn. Is that a new outfit?"

   Delenn blushed, she enjoyed his admiration and his appreciation. "Yes, it is, I had it made specifically for this occasion. It seems that I have married a very important man, and this is a very important day for him. I wanted to wear something special for the occasion." Her garments were all gold. All the layers that she typically wore in contrasting colors, were all gold. It was a color that was very well suited to her. She took his breath away sometimes, with her beauty, and this was one of them.

   " I shall be very honored to escort you to this fiasco, Ambassador, and may I say, that I believe that my wife will be the most beautiful woman in attendance." His glance traveled her frame from head to toe, and he let out a low whistle. "Have I told you today, how much I love you, my beautiful wife?And how very much I am looking forward to that rain check after all this nonsense is over with," he asked, his voice husky with emotion.

   "Yes." She held out her hands to him, and he took them in his. "But you may tell me as often as you like." She smiled up at him with shining eyes full of love, and yet there was also the lingering apprehension for what was ahead. They both knew that the most likely time for B5's would-be assassin to strike, would be at the ceremony. He put his hand on her cheek and rubbed at the lines of worry that had formed there just since this morning.

   "It is going to be all right, Delenn." He bent close and whispered to her, kissing her lightly. She knew he was trying to comfort her, and was speaking with a certainty that he himself did not feel.

   She smiled back, willing herself to keep up with his pretense. "Shall we go then, Mr. President? Being the guest of honor does not entitle one to be late for events such as these. Besides, if we don't go soon I will find it very difficult to refrain from .....how is it you say......cashing in my IOU". Her fingers went to his face, tracing his jaw, then his mouth, seductively.

   He growled low in his throat, then smiled his most reassuring smile, and tucked her hand into the crook of his arm, and led her out into the corridor. Thompson was there with a full security detail. Sheridan clenched his jaw, and Delenn felt him tense in irritation. She looked up at him and stroked his arm with a calming motion.

   At least, he thought to himself, they were in dress uniforms, making it look somewhat like an honor guard escort and not his being surrounded by body guards. Either way, it wasn't exactly his style, but for now it would have to do. He had made a promise to the most beautiful woman in his universe and he wouldn't break it now.

   Shortly after entering the rotunda, he and Delenn became separated as they went around the room, making small talk, shaking hands, working the room as the politicians call it. They met up some minutes later in the middle.

   "I thought that we talked about an inconspicuous presence from security, they are everywhere," he complained.

   "Compared with what Michael wanted, this is inconspicuous." She commented as she went on waving and smiling at people. "Michael wanted to strip search everyone at the door." She smiled up at him.

   He shook his head and laughed slightly. "Well then thank god you talked him out of that. I have no desire to be struck blind by the sight of Londo naked." She gave him a disapproving look but found that she couldn't help but smile at the image that presented.

   They made small talk and shook hands and smiled till his hand hurt and his mouth was so tight he didn't think it would ever fully open again. He was impatient to start this ceremony and get it over with, but apparently G'Kar was still working on the finer points of the Declaration of Principles or something. Sheridan noticed a disturbance to his right at the only door security was allowing as access to the inaugural reception. He saw Stephen move across the room toward what appeared to be a boy, disheveled and bleeding. Security was trying to hold him back and bar his entry into the room. Stephen intervened, insisting they let him go. He was trying to say something to Stephen, his mouth was moving, but no words were coming out. He kept trying, but nothing. Suddenly, Franklin's whole body stiffened and his hand went to his forehead as a pained look crossed his face. Sheridan was now half crouched behind Franklin, Delenn was moving toward her knees to assist the doctor with the injured boy. Like a jolt of lightening, an image cascaded across Sheridan's vision. He both saw, and felt, himself staring at the Gaim ambassador; as in slow motion, the ambassador pulled a PPG out of no where, and fired almost point blank into the chest of the President of the Interstellar Alliance.

   Sheridan both saw and felt his chest explode in pain and blood, as his body jerked and began to fall.

   

   TBC

 

*****

 

 

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