“All Love is unrequited.”
TIME LOST AND FOUND
A Private Medical Facility
Dr. Stephen Franklin had never been as nervous as he was right now. He had been through decontamination and he had scrubbed and he had fretted and figured and worried and walked. Now it was time. His assistant suited him up and he went into the isobay where his patient waited. He checked and rechecked all the instruments and all the tubes one last time. The rest of this team filed into the room. The patient was hooked up to all manner of machines. There were more monitors and pumps and computers in this room than were needed to power a small city.
Had he forgotten anything? He ran through everything in his head again and again. This procedure had worked well during testing but this was more than testing, at least to Dr. Franklin it was. He realized it was time. All eyes were on him.
The patient’s body temperature was raised slowly. When it reached a certain level, oxygenated blood was pumped into the body to warm it further. This process seemed to take forever. Stephen felt sweat run down under his surgical gown. The patient was already looking a bit better. The deadly pallor was changing to a more normal hue. Time passed and it was time for the injection. Stephen could have let one of the others do it but he felt it was his duty. He used a syringe and introduced the medication into the patient’s intravenous fluids.
The medicine was one of the wonders that came from Sarah Chambers' research on board the Excalibur. She was a brilliant and brave woman who had done more for mankind than anyone would ever know, but Stephen knew. He had been thrilled to finally meet her and be able to shake her hand after the quarantine on Earth was lifted. She had impressed him with her strength years ago when he had gone up to the ship to introduce the Plague into one Mr. Williams who wanted to go home and get married so badly that he was willing to die to do so. Sarah had pulled the switch when the automated machine had failed. He was grateful she had allowed him the first use of this medication.
It was time to wait again. Stephen asked himself the questions he hadn’t allowed himself to ask. What if it didn’t work? What if the patient died? What if it only partially worked, leaving the patient a living vegetable or too handicapped to live a normal life? He knew that it would be almost more than he could bear if he lost this patient.
“Dr. Franklin…” the sound of his name brought him out of his reverie. “It’s time, Dr. Franklin.”
Stephen stepped up to the operating table again and looked down at his patient. He drew in a deep breath and prepared the defibrillators. He placed them on the patient’s chest. “Clear.” The current ran through the body.
He did it again.
“I’ve got a heartbeat, Dr. Franklin.”
Stephen allowed himself to breathe.
“The patient is breathing on his own.”
“Blood pressure 110 / 50…. 120 /70.”
Now was the hard part. He had to wait for the patient to regain consciousness, if he ever did. He sat by the bed and watched and waited. Time passed, seconds, minutes and finally hours. Stephen kept vigil by the bedside. He was so tired that he finally lay his head down on the edge of the bed and slept.
Something touching his head woke him. He jerked his head up. There was no one here but him and his patient. He looked down and saw the fingers on the right hand of the patient flexing and stretching! His heart pounded so hard it felt like it would burst out of his chest. He stood up. Only the hand was moving so far. He got his light out and opened the patient’s eye to see if there was any response.
Blue eyes popped open suddenly when Stephen touched him. The patient seemed to be struggling. Stephen thought he was choking but then realized that he was trying to speak!!!!
“You want to tell me something?” he asked incredulously. The patient blinked. He leaned his head down close to the man’s mouth. In a voice that really was not even quite a whisper the patient said, “I …….. spy……w…ith ….my….eye…”
Tears of joy fell from Stephen’s eyes onto the man’s cheeks.
“Marcus, welcome home.”
Somewhere between Earth and Minbar
on a Whitestar ship
Marcus Cole sat in his seat aboard the Whitestar. This one was captained by a Minabri Ranger and was headed for the Minbari homeworld. Marcus looked calm, as he usually did. Inside, he was scared to death. He had been mostly alone since his awakening two years ago. Stephen Franklin had been his only real friend through the rehab process. A body that has been cryogenically frozen for ten years doesn’t just pick up where it left off. It had been a long process to rebuild his strength and his skills. His mind even had to be retrained somewhat. He had a lot to catch up on too. Much had happened in ten years.
The war had ended. John Sheridan and Delenn had a son and moved to Minbar, to a home in the City of Sorrows, Tuzanor. The Drakh had dropped a plague on Earth, and Sheridan and Earthforce had sent out a ship to find a cure. They had. And Ivanova….Susan had her own command, and she was moving up through Earthforce. Thinking of Susan gave Marcus an almost physical pain. If only he had done things different, perhaps she’d have given him a chance. Perhaps not.
Oh well, this was not a time for regrets. It was a time to move on, to pick up his life and go on. Stephen had given him a great gift by returning his life to him, and he meant to live it well. To do otherwise was to insult the miracle. He was heading to Minbar because it was his spiritual home. He hoped to find direction there. He was, after all, Anla-shok.
As the ship neared Minbar, he thought of Jeffrey Sinclair. Marcus had never known a better man than him. He would have gladly followed Ranger One back a thousand years. He had, in fact, offered to go back in Sinclair’s place. He often wondered if the destiny Sinclair had embraced had brought him any happiness. He hoped so. If anyone deserved happiness, it was Sinclair. Marcus still missed him, after all these years.
He idly wiped a tear from his eye as one of the young Minbari crew let him know that it was time to land. He pulled himself together and got ready to embark on his new life. He was surprised to find that he was excited about it! A young Ranger student met him and escorted him to the Chapel, as the human students had called it. It had been heavily damaged in the war, but had been rebuilt to look exactly like it had when he had studied to be a Ranger all those years ago. He went inside and sat. It still felt like home. The statue of Valen was still there. He closed his eyes.
He felt rather than heard someone sit down beside him. He opened his eyes and looked to his left. She hadn’t aged a day. In fact, she was more beautiful than before. She didn’t say anything, just smiled that wonderful smile. Marcus slowly fell to his knees in front of her.
“I am a Ranger. We walk in the dark places no others will enter. We stand on the bridge and no one may pass. We live for the One. We die for the One.” He whispered in a voice so low that it barely disturbed the silence of the temple.
“Welcome home, Marcus. We have missed you so much,” Delenn said she motioned for him to rise. She gave him a hug and looked at him closely. “I will leave you to your meditations. Will you have dinner with John and myself tonight? It would please both of us.”
Marcus smiled and nodded. Delenn was, after all, the One.
Marcus enjoyed being with two of the people who had been so important in his life again. John was a little quieter than he used to be, but Delenn sparkled.
“So what are you planning on doing, Marcus?” John asked as they had dessert. “I assume you want to resume being a Ranger. Am I mistaken?”
“No, you’re quite right. I came back here to ask Delenn if she would have me back as a Ranger. And Minbar is my home. When my brother died, and I came here all those years ago, the Minbari and Jeffrey Sinclair gave me a home and a purpose.”
Delenn smiled at him again. “I would be honored to have you return to us, Marcus.”
The three of them sat and talked about old times and about the future long into the night. Every one of them shed a tear or two during the course of the evening. They finally got around to serious discussion of the future.
“One question: do you want Susan to know you’re here?” This one came from John too.
A look of pain crossed Marcus’ face. “No, not yet. Susan has made her own life. I have no place there.”
When the evening ended, Delenn asked Marcus to return the next morning. “You must meet David, and I think I may have an assignment for you, if you agree.”
Marcus was afraid he wouldn’t sleep at all. He was nervous and excited about what Delenn would propose. He went to the small room provided for him in the Ranger barracks. He smiled when he saw the slanted Minbari bed. He lay down without even bothering to undress. The next thing he knew, it was sunrise. He had slept like a child.
Delenn sent someone for him. He was to share breakfast with her and John again and to meet David. David was fine looking young man of ten and very polite to Marcus. Marcus smiled when David left the room, wondering aloud if he had ever been so young. This brought a chuckle from both proud parents.
“Marcus, I have a proposal for you. If you do not wish to do this, it is fine with me. We will figure out something.” Delenn said in her oddly formal English. “You are one of the finest denn’ bok fighters I have ever encountered, native Minbari or not. I would like to invite you to be the denn’ bok instructor at the Ranger training facility.”
Marcus was taken aback. Denn’ bok trainers were almost always Minbari. When he had first come to the facility himself, humans were not even allowed to own a fighting pike. Sinclair had changed all that. Sinclair had changed everything. Now Delenn honored him with the opportunity to teach there.
“I know that Susan has the denn’bok Sinclair gave to you, so I offer you Neroon’s.” She smiled, remembering Marcus was sure, when he had fought Neroon to save her life. But in the end, Neroon had sacrificed his own life to save Delenn.
Marcus graciously accepted her gift. “I would be honored.”
Thus Marcus began his life again.
TIME IN A BOTTLE
TIME IN A BOTTLE
If I could save Time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day
'Til Eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you
John Sheridan had gone. He said goodbye to all his friends and flew off for a Sunday afternoon drive that lasted forever. The galaxy mourned. But on Minbar, life went on. Delenn had chosen Susan Ivanova to be Ranger One at John’s passing, and Susan had accepted. Marcus Cole had known this was going to happen. Delenn and John had asked him if he approved. He could think of no one better than Susan.
Marcus was, however, terrified that Susan would ask him to step down and leave Minbar once she found out he was still alive. Stephen had stayed on to support Marcus and to see the ceremony that made Susan Ranger One. The ceremony itself would be attended by only Rangers, but there would be a small gathering after for friends. Marcus dressed in his formal Rangers dress and went to the ceremony. He knew the very second that Susan saw him. He hadn’t taken his eyes off of her all evening. She was still so very beautiful. She had a few wrinkles and a little gray hair, but she was still the same. He saw her look his way and then look back again. He saw her falter, and her smile froze for just a second and then Delenn put a hand to her back and said something. Susan smiled his way and continued with the ceremony.
Later, at the gathering, Marcus saw her again. She was talking to Delenn and Franklin. Oh no! They were headed this way! He wondered if he might duck out…. But no, they were looking right at him.
“Marcus, there you are!” Delenn said as if she hadn’t know all along.
“Hello, Delenn, Stephen.” He hadn’t taken his eyes from Susan’s. “Hello, Susan.”
She smiled her warmest smile. Even those eyes that could reflect steel seemed warm. “Hello, Marcus.” It came out a whisper. She cleared her throat, and finally managed to say hello in an almost normal voice. He was never able to remember later a single word that was said after she said hello.
The evening was almost over, and it was getting late when Susan came up to Marcus. “I like the braid. It looks good on you.” Marcus wore his hair in a single braid down his back, but some of the hair in the front always managed to slide out and fall in his face like it always had. His hair, like Susan’s, had a streak or two of gray also.
He turned quickly at the sound of her voice.
“Hello again.” Man, that was smart! But, then she always did inspire him to say stupid things!
“This has been almost too much to take in, but the one thing I’m glad about is that you are here. I never imagined I’d see you again, Marcus. I don’t even know what to say.”
“I know. It is rather awkward, isn’t it?”
Susan laughed out loud. Heads turned but then turned back. “That’s not even close. I should be furious with you! You’ve been here for all these years… and you never told me.”
“I didn’t know how, Susan. Was I supposed to show up and say here I am?”
“I’m not angry. I SHOULD be but I’m not! I’m just glad you are alive.”
“I’m glad I’m alive too. Being dead for a dozen years makes you appreciate every day you are alive.”
Susan looked at him, but she wasn’t really seeing him. She was seeing him in the past. Seeing the dashing Ranger making a fool out of himself over her, seeing herself ignore him again and again. She saw the love in his eyes when he’d confessed his own inexperience to her. She remembered how she blew him off like he was a fool. Unrequited love… She had learned after so many years, that his love had not gone unrequited. She had loved him when it was too late, when she had truly realized what he had sacrificed for her.
Here he was, still behaving like an idiot over her! She reached out a hand to touch his face. He went still.
“Marcus, come back to my quarters with me. We have twenty years, well ten for you, to catch up on. I don’t feel like being alone tonight.”
Marcus walked beside her. She still had the same purposeful stride she had always had, back straight and head held high like the good soldier she was. He knew that he loved her still, had never stopped. She would make a good Ranger One. She would dedicate herself to being the best. That was his Susan.
When they reached her door, he prepared to beg off, but Susan practically shoved him in the door. She found a bottle of vodka she’d brought with her from Earth and some glasses and poured them both a healthy glassful. She sat on the sofa at the opposite end of Marcus.
“You know, it’s hard to believe that Jeffrey Sinclair once lived in these very quarters.” Susan looked around at the fairly plain little house.
“I met him when I came here to become a Ranger after William’s death. I had no desire to be a Ranger, but I had foolishly promised William I’d look into it. When he died, I felt compelled to come here. Jeffrey Sinclair made me want to be a Ranger. I never met another man like him, not even John Sheridan.”
They talked about the others they had known: Londo, G’kar, Lennier, and too many others to remember after all these years. They drank to the memory of Jeffrey Sinclair and John Sheridan.
The night passed in a blur of conversation and memories. Both of them had cried and laughed over the old days. Marcus noticed that the sky was getting a little light outside. It would be dawn soon. Marcus loved the dawn here on Minbar. He rose from the sofa and started to go back to his own quarters.
Susan rose and took his hand. She lead him back to the back of the little house and into her small bedroom. She moved close to him, after she closed the door. She put her arms around his neck and kissed him. For a second, Marcus was taken aback but this was Susan, the woman he’d loved since he first saw her 20 years before. He returned her kiss.
She lead him across the room to a bed that had been fixed so it was flat instead of tilted in the Minbari fashion. He smiled and joined her.
As the dawn broke and a new day began in the City of Sorrows, Marcus was finally able to give Susan the love he’d saved for her. It was everything he had ever hoped and more.
Marcus nor Susan ever had to face another dawn alone.