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[B5] Delenn Susan hug
Title: Later Stars of Dawn
Pairing: Ivanova/Delenn
Rating: G/PG
Word Count: 1890
Summary: A year after the events of "Sleeping in Light," Delenn takes Susan stargazing. As always, she has an ulterior motive.

*


It was the first really warm night of summer the year after John died. Fourteen months ago, Susan had moved to Minbar, promising herself that her residence in Delenn's home would be just until she could find a place of her own in Tuzanor. With one thing and another, and a job that kept her almost too busy to think, weeks had turned into months, and when she'd finally made time to seriously look, Delenn had confessed that she liked having someone else around the house, that she liked that Susan was that someone, and asked her to stay.

So she had stayed. And because she had stayed, a little after ten o'clock on this particular summer night, Delenn was able to knock on her door and ask if she would join her in the garden.

Susan wondered what her friend could possibly want out in the dark. Delenn smiled almost shyly when she asked. "Tonight is the last night of the Perzooith," she said. At Susan's quirked eyebrow, she continued, "The Perzooith are a meteor shower, created by a comet which Minbar passes through every two years. They only last three days, so if we are to see them, we must do so tonight."

She hadn't even known a meteor shower was going on, much less that it was almost over. In fact, she couldn't think of a night when she had given the Minbari sky more than a passing glance. She had a nagging feeling that they were both too old for this, but Delenn looked almost anxious, and Susan deduced that for whatever reason, this was important to her. So with the tiniest of sighs, she gave in, and put down the report she was reading.

Delenn smiled at her once more as they walked into the hall. "One moment," she said when they passed her bedroom; ducking inside briefly, she returned with a thick blanket. "Now we are ready," she said. Shifting the blanket so that the held it with her right arm, she took Susan's hand with her left. This was unusual, if not entirely unprecedented—Delenn was very tactile for a Minbari—and Susan wondered again what had gotten into her friend.

Behind the house, they walked to the large patch of grass in between two ornamental gardens, the flowers in which delicately scented the night air. Delenn spread the blanket over the grass and stretched out on one side. It was narrow enough that their shoulders touched when Susan did the same.

She looked up at the sky, willing her eyes to adapt to the darkness. As the seconds passed, she was able to see ever-fainter stars fill in the gaps between the brighter ones. After a long moment, she asked, "Where should I be watching?"

"They appear to come from Aklana."

"Uh..." Minbari constellations had not exactly been high on her list of things to learn about her adopted home.

"Look straight up, and just a little bit to your left. Aklana is a mythological beast of burden. You can see her spine and four legs, and a bright red star for her head."

Susan stared at the sky, and eventually saw the configuration of eight stars Delenn was talking about. As soon as she said, "I see it," a bright light streaked between two of Aklana's stars, followed quickly by another. "Oh, wow," she breathed.

"They are magnificent, aren't they?"

They spent the next hour watching pieces of rock and metal burn up in the atmosphere. In between the brightest ones, Delenn pointed out other constellations, telling her the stories behind them. They had all been named long before Valen, or rather Jeffrey Sinclair, had brought peace to the warring castes, and many of them, like the sword or the mourning widow, reflected the Minbaris' tumultuous history.

As Delenn named each of the constellations, Susan began to piece together how some of the words related to the current Minbari langauges. But she was stumped by the origin of Perzooith. She asked what it meant, expecting the answer to be that when the meteors were named, they had appeared to originate from a constellation whose stars had been repurposed into other configurations, or which Minbar's axial precession had rendered invisible in this hemisphere.

"Roughly, it means 'Blessings of Per,' who was worshiped as the goddess of love by a long-dead civilization." Delenn shifted, and she could feel the other woman's gaze on her. "I'm afraid I have not been entirely forthcoming with you."

Now she moved, turning so that she lay on her side and faced her friend. Delenn's features were just visible in the starlight, a collection of angles and deep shadows. "What do you mean?"

"This civilization, the Morabari, had a religious ritual that has been passed down to modern Minbari as a kind of...good luck tradition, I suppose you could say. No one takes it seriously, but most feel that, as you say, it can't hurt."

She was still lost. "What does this have to do with the meteors?"

Delenn placed her fingertip on Susan's lips, and Susan couldn't quite restrain a little gasp at the touch. Something weird was definitely going on with Delenn tonight.

"I'm getting to that," Delenn said, sliding her finger rather slower than necessary—if anything about it could be called necessary—off her mouth. "Each of the three nights is supposed to bring good luck to a particular group. Since it is a blessing from the goddess of love, the ritual is to kiss one's partner, or intended partner, three times under the meteor shower."

Who knew the Minbari were such romantics? Susan thought with some amusement. Though she wondered why Delenn was telling her this; her friend knew, given her history with relationships, that she was hardly going to be making use of this tradition any time soon, or ever.

Delenn continued. "The first night is for the young, those who are entering the first serious relationship of their lives. The second is for those who want to reaffirm their commitment to a loved one. Expectant parents often perform the ritual." Something in Delenn's voice told her that she and John had done this. "The third night is for those who have lost someone, but hope...that they have found another just as dear."

...Oh.

Susan would be lying if she said she hadn't wondered, occasionally, in idle moments, both a lifetime ago on Babylon 5 and over the past year on Minbar. She had just never imagined Delenn might wonder too.

Seconds ticked by as she tried to come up with a response to what she had to admit was one hell of an invitation, delivered in Delenn's inimitable style.

"Have I offended you?" Delenn finally asked. What Susan could see of her expression in the dark—and perhaps Delenn had planned it this way—was hesitant, and perhaps just a little scared. The only other time Susan had seen her look at all unsure of herself was more than twenty years ago, when she'd asked for help with her new human hair.

"No. Surprised, maybe," she answered truthfully. "I..." None of the words in any of their languages were adequate right now. So she leaned across the few inches between them and kissed her.

It was soft and exploratory, and over almost too quickly. Delenn tasted like the herbal tea she preferred, bitter and sweet at the same time. Susan had never been fond of the flavor, but she thought she could come to like it this way. "That's one," she said when they parted.

Delenn smiled, her teeth glinting in the darkness, and placed her hand on the back of Susan's neck, pulling her into another kiss, this one more forceful than the last. This time she let her hand wander up to Delenn's bone crest, which she'd always been curious about, and fitted her fingers into some of the fluted ridges before drawing them down to the spot at her temple where the bone protruded from her skin. She felt Delenn hum lightly against her mouth, and was pleased that she'd managed to discover such a sensitive spot.

"Two," Delenn whispered.

By some unspoken mutual accord, they paused before the third kiss, silently acknowledging all that was irrevocably changing between them at that moment, and the greater part that was staying the same. Delenn traced a finger down the line of her jaw, while Susan drew her knuckle across Delenn's cheek. She wasn't sure who finally kissed whom first, but she quickly found that it didn't matter.

Some time later—moments, ages, she didn't know—she asked, "Is that all there is to the ritual?"

Delenn propped herself up on her elbow and grinned almost devilishly. Susan had never seen an expression quite like that on her face before, but she thought she could definitely get used to it. "Officially, yes," Delenn said, "but most who perform it make certain additions." No prizes for guessing what they were, Susan supposed. "Though I would suggest we retreat somewhere less public before trying any of our own."

Laughter bubbled out of her then, only stopping when Delenn, with surprising strength, took her hands and pulled her upright, then kissed her again.

*


It was still dark when she woke to the slight rocking of the bed as Delenn got up. Susan reached out, intending to pull her back to the bed because there was at least an hour before even the president of the ISA's alarm could possibly be scheduled to go off, but then she remembered—the sunrise.

Despite her attempt to pull her arm back, their hands brushed, and Delenn turned back to face her. "Come with me," she said.

"I will. In a minute." She wasn't quite ready to leave the warm softness of the bed; she never had been eager to get up when it was dark.

Delenn called for lights at twenty percent, and Susan watched, sleepily appreciative, as she dressed. She finally dragged herself from under the covers when Delenn was done, and began gathering her clothes from last night. Feeling oddly exposed, though they were the only inhabitants of the house, Susan crept down the hall to her bedroom, and quickly wrapped herself in a robe that would ward off the pre-dawn chill which remained in Tuzanor even on the warmest summer mornings. Nowadays, her joints protested the cold early in the morning.

With uncharacteristic hesitation, she made her way to the back of the house and stood for a moment at the open door. It led out to what she had privately come to call Delenn and John's bench. Every morning, Delenn sat there, watching the sun rise and, Susan assumed, remembering her husband. She had joined her occasionally over the past year, but it had always been as a friend. Now it would be different.

Sensing her presence, Delenn looked at her, smiling gently. "Come. Sit," she said, patting the spot on the bench beside her. Slowly, she did as she was bade. Delenn took her hand, lacing their fingers together. In silence, they watched the sun climb over the distant mountains.

Eventually, Delenn released a soft breath and tightened her fingers around Susan's. "It's going to be a beautiful day, don't you think?"

She could only agree.

This entry was originally posted at http://icepixie.dreamwidth.org/732242.html. It has comment count unavailable comments over there.

Comments

( 10 danced — Shall we dance? )
padawanpooh
Oct. 10th, 2010 07:30 pm (UTC)
Aww! A lovely coda to Sleeping in Light. Delenn & Ivanova make a great pairing :-)
icepixie
Oct. 10th, 2010 10:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :D SiL is what made me ship them. It's my personal canon that after that episode, they wind up together somehow. It would be too perfect.
rivendellrose
Oct. 10th, 2010 09:39 pm (UTC)
This is so pretty. ♥ I love the story of the perzooith and all the detail you wove into that, and the tricky way Delenn accomplishes everything she wants, and the idea of her bringing Susan with her to watch the sunrise the next morning. All so lovely.
icepixie
Oct. 10th, 2010 10:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I thought you would enjoy the Perzooith ritual. ;) Delenn being sneaky and a crazy Minbari ritual was a combination I could not resist.
nhpw
Oct. 10th, 2010 10:29 pm (UTC)
This is beautiful. Just beautiful. Thanks for sharing. :)
icepixie
Oct. 10th, 2010 10:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)
radak
Oct. 11th, 2010 12:17 am (UTC)
like it very much!
icepixie
Oct. 11th, 2010 02:37 am (UTC)
Thanks!
celievamp
Oct. 15th, 2010 06:26 pm (UTC)
ah, loved it
icepixie
Oct. 15th, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
( 10 danced — Shall we dance? )

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