They walked him to the quarters he’d picked for himself: a stark room with a desk and a bed, special in nothing except for one large window looking out into space. He’d never fly a Starfury again, but at least he had the stars, unfamiliar as they were. All around him, Babylon 4 thrummed with life. It had been a long day and an even longer night, but he’d lived through enough of those that holding back exhaustion had become a habit. Only when the last Minbari had left, murmuring a farewell in tones so awed it set his teeth on edge, did he allow himself to feel the strain.
Jeff lowered himself onto the edge of the bed, stripping off his robe and tunic and folding them with slow, mechanical movements. His head was throbbing. The Minbari had sharper eyesight than humans, and ever since he’d stepped out of the Chrysalis, he’d been struggling not to be distracted by the multitude of textures and colors, all of which seemed slightly off. Then there was the headbone, which felt no less heavy for being a part of him, not to mention everything else about his body that had changed. It was making for an interesting ride.
He’d asked Delenn before they said their goodbyes: what was the change that had most surprised her? He wasn’t sure what answer he’d expected. Something innocuous, like the hair, or something abstract, like the way humans perceived the world. Instead she’d given him an almost brazen smile and said: “You will find out soon enough. Suffice it to say that … arousal, in humans and Minbari, works in fascinatingly different ways. Though of course there are similarities too.” The gleam in her eyes had been half earnestness, half teasing, and Jeff stifled a grin at the memory. Delenn. He’d never see her again, that much was certain. Just like he’d never see Michael again, or Susan, or… Catherine.
There was a faint tingling sensation, a stirring of warmth between his legs. Jeff glanced down, shaking his head to clear it. So… It seemed arousal didn’t work that differently, then. He wasn’t sure if that was cause for concern or relief. As Valen, the fewer distractions his body provided, the better he could focus on what had to be done. Then again, he was exhausted, and cranky, and his head hurt. And back home, when he had trouble sleeping, the one thing that had always helped was…
Well. It was his body, and he’d never know what was under these damn pants unless he took them off.
He’d studied Minbari anatomical drawings. It had seemed like the sensible thing to do. But just like drawings of humans and probably every other species in the universe (with the possible exception of the Centauri) they turned out to be a poor match for reality. For one thing, they had been ink drawings: clean, clinical black and white. Reality was blue. Not the dull, mottled blue of human bruises, but a vivid splash of color that started out pale on his lower stomach and gradually darkened lower down. Jeff pushed down his underpants with a certain trepidation. He’d been prepared for the lack of external organ; the rumor of the Minbari retractable penis had already been old back on Babylon 5. But to see it on himself was surreal beyond words. He took a deep breath and let it out again, trying to still the sudden hammering of his heart. His body was just that: a body. Jeff Sinclair hadn’t changed, except for the packaging. Steeling himself, he slid a hand between his thighs.
Smooth. Smooth skin all the way down, apart from the narrow slit that yielded ever so slightly under his touch. A mound not unlike that of a human woman – the thought of Catherine, soft and wet and eager, came niggling at his mind again – but tighter. Not all that sensitive either, which was strange, given what he’d heard. Then again, chances were he was doing this wrong. Jeff bit his lip in frustration. But the memory of Delenn’s teasing smile made him continue, circling the slit with a probing finger. Back home, none of this had ever taken much effort. Jerking off was just a habit like another, a relaxation technique that he barely even had to think about. It seemed that in this body, he’d have to learn it all over again.
He forced himself to slow his breathing, following the thread of memory until he found one that brought back that vague, odd tingle from before: the last time he’d made love to Catherine, his mouth on her breast, her hands on his cock and on her face that expression he’d give anything to see again. The expression that said: “I know what you want, and I know you know it, so let’s not waste time.” If Catherine was here, she’d waste no time on feeling sorry for him. She’d put her hands on him, like this, firm and eager and… Yes. There it was, when he moved his fingers just right: a rush of warmth, like a bottle spilling over, centered around that tight spot between his legs but spreading, both upwards towards his stomach and further down. He breathed out, thrown off balance by the strangeness of the sensation. Catherine. Like a mantra, he held on to it. She wasn’t here, but her memory was. He imagined her eyes on him as he relaxed and slid his finger deeper, the cheeky grin that would light up her face.
He gasped when he brushed the tip of his … cock, his mind supplied, even as another part of him recalled the Minbari term, melodious and almost poetic. Visil’rahan, they called it. He wondered if they had other names too, coarser ones, like humans had so many. For a brief, treacherous moment he thought of Michael, all those years ago on Mars: Michael stark naked and grinning and telling him, with a relish that bordered on mutinous, “Want me to suck your cock, sir?” Sheer instinct made him press the memory away. Then he stopped himself. He and Mike had history - so what? Mike was several lifetimes away, and ignoring what had happened might have been useful on Babylon 5, but it sure as hell wasn’t here.
And Michael was right. Cock was as good a word as any.
It was throbbing when he caught it between two fingers, and as he tugged it out of its sheath, a spasm shuddered through him. Narrower than a human penis, it nonetheless fit in his palm as if he’d been born with it. Jeff closed his eyes and moved his hand. Slow, deliberate, he let it wash over him: the deepening tingle in his stomach, the way his sheath tightened spasmodically, his breath catching with every stroke. With his free hand, he circled the edge of the now-empty sheath, biting his lip at the flood of sensation. What would Catherine say if she saw this? A jolt of fire coursed through him when he increased the pressure, and he clamped his lips shut on a groan. He didn’t know what Catherine would say, but he could take a good guess she’d have enjoyed this. As for Michael… Jeff shook his head and picked up the pace. Mike would say something rude and outrageous, with that impossible smile tugging at his face. Jeff both loved and hated that smile; at one time it had been his greatest weakness. Catherine knew, of course, and her reaction when he’d told her had been amused enough that Jeff had actually considered asking if Michael couldn’t… just once, the three of them together…? But in the end, he never did ask. And now it was too late. Lost chances. No way to go back.
His cock twitched in his grip, catching him by surprise. He came with a rush of blood to his head that made him see stars, his free hand tightening on the edge of the bed. When he could breathe again, there was wetness on his thighs and fingers, and not a trace of it on his cheeks.
On Minbar, three was sacred. Here and now, he was one, and he’d have to make do.