Gifts Of Courage, Faith, And Love

Disclaimer: Babylon 5 and its characters don't belong to me. The characters mentioned all belong to J. Michael Straczynski.

"Gifts Of Courage, Faith, And Love"
by Christine Anderson
aka Anla'shok Ivanova
Written for the Theatrical Muse 'gifts' challenge.
Isabelle's message is quoted from Book 2 of the Technomage Trilogy.

I have been given only a few material gifts in my life, and while many of them might seem unusual to others, they were not so for one of my kind. My staff would have been an unusual gift for a non-mage; likewise my ship. But they suit me well.

My father's ring was unusual, yes, but more inheritance than gift.

Finally I am left with Isabelle's scarf, with its message I was not able to unravel until months after her death.

But she would say that the scarf was a symbol only, that the gift was the message. And that was unusual, yes.

Her message. Love need not be spoken to be felt.

Her love, her message, was the gift, unusual because it was unique. Love was not given to me much then. My parents had not loved me much, if at all. Elric loved me as a son- this I know now, though I might have doubted it then- but he and I did not speak of such things or even express them much, not until just before his death. He, of course, understood that he was dying better, and sooner, than I did.

Isabelle's love was a gift unparalleled, and I did not answer it as I should have. I did not feel myself worthy of her love, nor capable of returning it as she deserved. By the time I learned differently, it was, of course, too late.

She found no fault in me for this, simply accepted me as I was. She understood, simply, absolutely, and without judgment.

Isabelle was truly the best of us, and her love the greatest gift I have been given.

And then there is Anna. Anna, who came into my life as if in a dream. Anna, who was kin and more than kin, who had once been one among so many whom I carried the guilt of not being able to save. The second chance I was given, with Anna- and the knowledge that perhaps this time it was within my power to help her- that, too, was an unusual gift, wondrous and unexpected.

From the first, I understood Anna. When the wounds of Isabelle's death were still so fresh and raw that I wondered if ever they would be healed, when no other woman would have caught my attention in any way, I knew Anna. Knew her to a depth and extent that I had not known Isabelle.

I knew Anna because the Shadows had made us kin. I used the spell I had found at the base of my progressions to destroy her ship, and in using the weapon the Shadows had planted within the tech against one of their own, I was drawn to Anna. Drawn into her pain until it became my own, drawn into the pain I had caused until she was wounded, and I bled.

The Shadows meant it as a failsafe, nothing more- they had not wanted the mages, their agents of chaos, to be able to destroy with impunity their other works. And so when one of us wounded another touched by Shadows, their agony became ours.

It was typical thinking for the Shadows, typical and even predictable. Chaos was to be encouraged in others, and the younger races in particular, but for themselves they desired control. Control above all else.

They never meant, I am sure, for things to occur as they did, for such a connection forged through the failsafe to endure, to become even something more. For myself I am grateful, and humbled, that something so pure and good could have come from such roots, that after all of the harm that seemed so inherent in what I am, good could be done, true good.

This, too, is among the best, the most unusual, and most valued gifts I have ever received. I feel myself unworthy of it at times, but I was given to understand by one who knows such things that I alone could have done this. That I alone possessed the unique combination of will, desire, and power- that I had the courage and the ability both, to make it happen.

I was honored by the faith placed in me, the trust. By the others, by Lorien, but most particularly by Anna. She of all of us had the most to lose, though she would tell you she had nothing left to lose. Anna does not believe that she is brave, or that she has courage, but that one simple act of trust may have been the bravest act I have ever seen.

If we had failed- if I had failed- she could have been, could have become...

But she knew what she asked, knew the risks, knew that what we would do, we had never done before.

She chose to place her faith, her trust, in me, and later to open her heart to me. When there would have been far less risk in turning away, she did not do it. When it would have been easier to cloister herself away, to never again expose her heart to harm, she did the difficult thing.

For her trust, her faith, her love, I will always be grateful. For these gifts, unique, priceless, I will always be grateful.