Humans have a phrase: What is past is prologue.
The elation after a battle won had yet to wear off, and the entire station was in high spirits. Him most of all, perhaps, and the reason for that wasn’t even that they had driven away the Shadows this once. No, the joy of the victory had been dampened by the losses they had taken, the people that had died. But there was something else to look forward to, or rather someone else, Sheridan thought with a grin. How he had gotten himself into that particular situation, he’d never know, but he planned on making the most of it.
He would sleep, and she would watch. Sheridan would be lying if he said he understood the ritual beyond the basic logistics, but it was obviously important to Delenn, which made it important to him now, too. Not to mention that there was nothing better than spending some time with the woman he loved. And he did love her. He hadn’t said the words yet, not directly, but he loved her, and he was fairly certain she loved him, too.
The thought added a spring to his step that he hadn’t felt since his early months with Anna, and for the first time, he smiled at the memory instead of trying not to succumb to grief. Sure, there were still days when he missed her as much as he ever had, as much as the first few weeks after the reality of her death had sunken in, but those days were few and far between now.
Walking from Medlab to his quarters didn’t take long on a slow day, and today he was anything but slow, trying not to appear in too much of a rush to turn in, while at the same time trying to force down the slight nervousness that had settled in the pit of his stomach. What if Delenn didn’t like what she saw? What if she decided she no longer wanted to continue on this path with him? He flexed his hands, then scolded himself silently. What would happen, would happen, and there was nothing he could do to stop it anyway.
The door to his quarters opened and revealed Delenn sitting on his couch, still going over a file despite the late hour. Whatever anxiety he had still harboured fell off him at the sight of her, looking completely at home in his quarters. Looking as if she had never belonged anywhere else.
She abandoned her file and the couch, covering the distance between them with three short strides. And then she was in front of him, smiling that smile that he knew now was only for him, and he hadn’t kissed her in far too long. She all but melted into him, arms going around his neck just like they had done on the White Star, and tugging him as close as physically possible. For a moment, he considered trying to push this, see how much he could get away with before she stopped him, but then Delenn did something with her tongue, a quick swipe against the roof of his mouth, and he was lost. Lost in the sensation of holding her in his arms just the way he had wanted to for so long it felt like he’d wanted it forever.
There was no need to rush anything, he thought long after she had released his mouth and once he was able to think again, no need at all. They had all the time in the world.
Minbari also have a phrase: What is past is also sometimes future.
John had been more difficult to put to bed than a young child would be, or so Delenn imagined fondly. At first he had kept asking her questions and offering her food and drink—even the other half of his bed, in a moment of weakness, and oh, how she had wanted to take him up on that offer—, then he had been unable to stay still, shifting from one side to the other, and eventually, he had just looked at her, as though he was afraid she would disappear come morning and was learning the lines of her face just in case.
After a while, though, the torments of the last few days had caught up with him, and his eyes had fallen shut, and as his breathing had evened out, his soul had been revealed. It had told her everything she already knew, and so much more.
It was impossible to put into words what she saw on his face during that night. It was no different from what she had seen aboard the White Star en route to Ganymede, only transformed by his knowledge of her intent. He knew she was watching, and why, and even in sleep, she could tell he felt her presence.
Hours passed, or maybe just minutes, Delenn’s mind clear of everything but John’s face, with the occasional dream of the future sneaking in. When she caught herself thinking about the rituals that would follow—in particular about the shan’fal—for what must have been the third of fourth time, she chided herself inwardly for her lack of discipline and decided a break was in order. She turned around at the doors separating the bedroom from the rest of John’s quarters to catch one last look at his face for the next while, and then made her way into the living area.
Everything here was his, but she hoped with all her heart that one day, that would change; that one day, her things would mingle with his in their shared quarters. Two nights were enough, she was already certain about her choice, but they would go through the rituals one by one. If she was to take a Human as a mate, this would have to be done right. Even if her body and maybe her mind also were no longer fully Minbari, the traditions still mattered to her, just like John’s traditions meant something to him.
She let her fingers glide over the smooth surface of the snow globe that he had shown her earlier, then picked it up and turned it around, enjoying once again the sight of the little white specks floating in the liquid. This simple trinket had shown them yet another thing they had in common, even coming from completely different worlds. But snow looked more or less the same on any planet she had seen so far, and while Minbar was colder than Earth, from this day on, falling snow would always remind her more of John than of home.
A noise startled her out of her thoughts. For a split second, she could not place the sound of the door opening, was too distracted by the sudden feeling of familiarity, of having lived this moment before. And then she saw a woman enter the room, a woman she had never seen before, but she instinctively knew that this woman could only be a bearer of bad news.
“Hello. You must be Delenn. I am Anna Sheridan. John’s wife.”
Her mind did not believe yet what she was hearing, but her heart already knew and turned cold at the sight of John’s dead wife standing in front of her, and in the moment it took her mind to catch up, she saw her own future shatter just as surely as the snow globe shattered on the floor.