Never To Be Alone In The Dark

Disclaimer: Babylon 5 and its characters don't belong to me. The characters mentioned all belong to J. Michael Straczynski, and my amateur efforts probably can't do justice to his work.

"Never to Be Alone in the Dark" (3/?)
by Christine Anderson
aka Anla'shok Ivanova

Jeffrey Sinclair paused with one foot on the path to elsewhere, and turned back. After all this, after they had come so far and accomplished so much, he was not going to see the love his friends had at last found in one another haunted by the specter of Death, not again.

"Not again," Sinclair said aloud, and he was gone back the way he had come before Lorien's sigh escaped the First One's lips.

* * *

Marcus drew another agonized breath, and was almost certain he could hear his cracked ribs shifting as he did so. He was just as sure that at least one of those had pierced his lung, which might explain why he couldn't seem to catch his breath as well as why it hurt so bloody much to try. There wasn't much he could do about it, however, and so he concentrated on other things- like a rather futile effort to throw off whatever had collapsed atop him and stand.

He thought he saw Ivanova open her eyes and blink, and then she seemed to be able to focus again, at something that stood just over his shoulder... Marcus looked back, and saw Sinclair standing there, shaking his head.

"I can't leave the two of you alone for a minute, can I?" he asked with a smile.

"Wasn't our fault this time, Jeff," Ivanova said.

"I know," he replied, and knelt down beside them. "I'd imagine you both hurt like hell, but I think you'll be alright if they can dig you out of here..."

"But no one's coming, are they?" Marcus asked.

"Probably not in time, no," Sinclair said. He sighed. "I'm going to have to interfere again, old friend."

"Do what you must, Entil'Zha Valen," Lorien's voice said. "You will anyway."

"He's got that right," Sinclair muttered. "Hold on, Marcus." And to the Ranger's amazement, though he should have been expecting something of the sort, Sinclair took hold of the crystal and metal that had fallen upon him and lifted it aside, one piece at a time. "The problem is that this time you can't remember this, because there are rules I'm bound to follow. So hold tight, my friends, and remember this instead- that I love you both, my Rangers, my own." Sinclair placed one hand on Marcus's forehead, the other on Ivanova's, and they fell into unconsciousness again. Sinclair faded from sight before they awoke, and with him went the greater portion of the wreckage he'd cleared away from the two of them.

Hands reached out while still they lay unmoving, and when the Rangers spilled forth into the room several long minutes later, they found the pair within each other's arms and holding tight, and they could not separate them. Lennier and Delenn were in the lead, and as they looked at one another in silence they had one moment of perfect understanding. They did not speak, but directed the others to sweep the last of the wreckage clear before they lifted the injured pair and bore them away.

Alone in the chapel now amidst the shattered crystal, Delenn thought for just a moment she saw the ghost of Jeffrey Sinclair walking alongside them, one hand each touching Marcus and Ivanova. She shook her head and closed her eyes, and when she opened them again, he was gone.

* * *

Dr. Stephen Franklin dropped down into a rough-hewn chair in the underground headquarters of the Mars Resistance, propped his aching feet up on a nearby rock, and sighed. He was just about through the thought that a drink of water was all he needed to make this moment perfect, when one of the members of the resistance tossed a canteen at him.

"Hey, man, nice work," the other man said as Stephen took a long drink from the canteen and tossed it back. "Spotters just called it in- looks like the fight upstairs is over. Had a pair of Earth destroyers show up just now and get themselves toasted by your friends up there, too."

"Thanks," Stephen said. "I'm just as glad my part's over, though."

"You and me both," said the resistance fighter. "Keep the canteen, you look like you could use it."

"Yeah," Franklin said. "Kinda dry out there."

"Dry and cold, that's Mars for ya," the other man said. He vanished into one of the tunnels and reappeared a few minutes later. "Hey, Doc- sorry to bother you when you just got in, but I think you'd better get out here."

"What is it?" Stephen asked.

"There's a bunch out front, dressed like your friend, Marcus. Say they're Rangers, and they need you."

"Damn," Stephen said, heaving himself onto his feet, reaching for his breather with one hand and his coat with the other. "No rest for the weary. Okay, let's go."

Stephen found himself swept up by the group of Human and Minbari Rangers and stuffed almost bodily onto a shuttle, which then raced towards one of the White Stars.

"Look," Stephen said, "I can see you're in a hurry, but what is going on?"

"Anla'shok Cole and Commander Ivanova were injured when the straggler ships arrived," one of the Humans said. "The Minbari healers are doing what they can, but-"

"Oh, hell," said Stephen. With those words he forgot how exhausted, how weary, he was, how many hours he had already worked and how much he wanted to go back to his quarters on Babylon 5 and sleep for a year. He forgot everything except the fact that he was needed once again, everything save the thought that Marcus and Ivanova needed his help.

When the shuttle docked, Stephen was the first one off, and no one said a word, let alone tried to stop him. As he raced through the halls of the ship, Rangers and crew members pointed the way wordlessly. Stephen skidded to a stop in the Medlab, and gasped. He couldn't help it; Stephen didn't know what he'd expected, but this wasn't it. It seemed fully half the ship's crew was gathered around the beds, and he shooed them away to approach his patients, certain he'd seen something that wasn't there, that the way the others had stood had only made it look like- but they hadn't, and he shook his head.

"What happened?" Stephen asked, trying to ignore the fact that the way his patients were holding on to one another was not at all normal behavior for the unconscious and seriously wounded.

"After the battle was over- or so we thought," Lennier spoke up, "Marcus and Commander Ivanova had gone into the chapel to remember. It is something the Rangers learn of during the course of their training, and sometimes those who are close to them wish to share it. That was where we found them after the other ships had come. They fired upon us, and because we did not see them coming, they got off several shots which we could not attempt to doge."

Delenn took up the thread of the tale then, as Lennier stepped back. "We assume that the fixtures of crystal in the chapel shattered or perhaps even fell when the White Star was struck, and somehow Marcus must have moved to protect Commander Ivanova."

"You assume?" Stephen asked. "Didn't one of you dig them out?"

"No," Delenn said. "We did not have to. I cannot explain it. We found them nearly as you see them now, and we could not get them apart. Neither has regained consciousness, but they seem to know at some level that we are trying to help them. They are not fighting any longer, at least."

Someone had pushed two of the beds together, and it was there that the injured pair lay. As Stephen approached the beds, Marcus and Ivanova drew apart, holding hands for a moment over the space between their beds before letting go. It wasn't, quite, the strangest thing Stephen had ever seen, but it was close.

"Alright," Stephen said, "let's get Marcus onto his back; He's probably worse off."

Several moments later, Stephen had shooed the majority of the crew out of the room, allowing Delenn and Lennier to stay only because he didn't think he could have thrown them out even if he had tried. Lennier carried periodic status reports out to the others, but Delenn remained in place near them, keeping vigil, and though none of them knew it, she was not alone.

Jeffrey Sinclair stood with them as well, and he gazed down upon his friends with an expression upon his face that was both tender and sad. Beside him stood Catherine Sakai, the Isil'Zha brooch sparkling upon her cloak. She touched Sinclair's arm, and he nodded slowly.

"They'll be alright," he said quietly. "I know that. I just don't really want to leave them."

"I know," Catherine told him, "but they have their own paths to follow now, and so do we." She smiled down at the pair. "Luck, my friends- and our thanks."

Sinclair held out his hand to her, Catherine took it, and they departed. As soon as they'd gone, Delenn looked up as if she had sensed some change within the room. After a moment she nodded to herself and resumed her vigil.

* * *

Though he was badly injured, and, as Stephen had thought, far worse off, it was Marcus who regained consciousness first, and the doctor knew with one look at the Ranger's face that this was going to be a bit of a problem.

"Is she alright?" Marcus asked.

"She should be. I'm pretty sure she has a concussion, but we'll have to wait till she wakes up to know for sure. Aside from that, her right hand is sprained, and she's got a broken ankle. You saved her life, you know."

"I know," Marcus replied. "The concussion's rather obvious, but how did she break her ankle?"

"I think," Stephen said, "you fell on it."

"Oh, bloody hell," Marcus said. "She's going to kill me."

"Not here," Stephen said. "Too many witnesses."

"Point," Marcus agreed. "What about me?"

"You'll live, provided she doesn't kill you."

"That settles it, then," Marcus said. "Make certain my funeral's a nice one, won't you?"

"You," Stephen said with a laugh and a shake of his head, "are a mess. Six broken ribs, one of which punctured your lung- I fixed that while you were out, by the way, but it's still going to hurt to breathe for a couple days, and you can forget moving around a heck of a lot- twisted ankle, sprained wrist, which you're lucky to not have broken, a mild concussion of your very own, and a collection of cuts and bruises that are going to be very pretty for the next couple weeks."

The Ranger nodded slowly. "What about my back?"

"Well," Stephen said lightly, "I'm pretty sure your cloak is ruined, unless there's some mystical Ranger trick for fixing that many tears and soaking out that much blood..."


"Alright, alright. You lost a hell of a lot of blood- thankfully, you have a pretty common blood type, and when we used up most of the stores here, I was able to get the rest from donors. I must've pulled a hundred shards of glass out of your back-"

"Crystal," Marcus corrected him.

"You want the rest of the list, or not?"

"Oh, by all means. Do go on."

"Thank you. You've got a couple hundred stitches in your back, and some of those wounds cut pretty deep. Some of them also cut muscle, and you'll have to take it easy- and I mean easy, Marcus. If you don't, you'll lose half the stitches in a way I can guarantee you won't enjoy."

"I'm not arguing," Marcus said. "But, Stephen, I need to know. Will she really, honestly, be alright?"

"I don't know," Stephen admitted with a sigh. "I'm doing everything I can, but I just don't know. If she comes to, she'll have a chance, and if she doesn't-"

"No," Marcus whispered. "No! I've only just found her, Stephen, I won't lose her now, I won't."

"Marcus- I know how you feel, but there's only so much we can do. And if you don't calm down, I'm going to have to throw you out."

"You can't be serious."

"Oh, I'm serious, alright. You can recover just as well in any Medlab, it doesn't have to be this one, and if you don't settle down, I will send you somewhere else."

"You'll try," Marcus said, one hand fingering his Minbari pike. "But as long as Susan's here, here is where I intend to stay."

Stephen threw up his hands. "Alright, alright- but you've got to calm down a little. I know you're worried-"

"Worried?" exclaimed the Ranger. "Worried? Stephen, you have no idea. Did they tell you half the bridge collapsed during the fighting? Another moment and she'd have been there. Don't you see? I've nearly lost her twice in one day, and I don't think I could bear it if anything else happened to her."

Stephen nodded. "You know I can take care of her, Marcus. I am a doctor."

"And a bloody good one, at that," the Ranger agreed. "I'll be still, I'll even try to shut up if you insist on it, but I'm not going anywhere without Susan."

Stephen looked to Delenn, but she only shook her head. "Did you expect anything else of him, Stephen?" she asked.

"No, but I guess I can dream. Alright, Marcus, you win this round. But you've got to lie still, and-"

Marcus lay back, or tried to. Unfortunately, he did it on his back, and it was all he could do to clench his teeth against the pain instead of crying out. Stephen shook his head, but wordlessly helped him onto his stomach.

"I was going to say," the doctor added, "that you're not going to be lying down that way for a while. You're not going to be sitting back against anything, either."

"I see that now, thank you," Marcus said. He was silent for a moment, then, "Stephen? If I was hurt worse, why is she still unconscious?"

"Overall you are worse," Stephen told him, "but her head injury is worse than yours, and it's going to take her a while to come back from it. I wanted to keep her sedated until the swelling goes down a bit."

"Hmm." Marcus nodded. "And the sedatives should be wearing off when, exactly?"

"Soon," Stephen said. "After that, it's up to her." He turned to Delenn. "You, at least, should go and get some rest."

Delenn nodded. "I will do so, as soon as I've updated the others on their condition." She turned to the injured Ranger. "Marcus, keep an eye on Commander Ivanova, please. If she decides she has recovered enough to return to duty- and I think she will, as soon as she is awake -we will need someone to pick her up and put her back to bed without wounding her pride too badly. Can you do that?"

"If I can't, what's one more bruise?" Marcus quipped.

"Depends how hard she hits you," was Stephen's reply, as Delenn rose and headed towards the door. "But listen, as long as you're here and being stubborn as usual, you can make yourself useful, too."

"How?" Marcus asked.

"Talk to her. She can probably hear you, and sometimes it helps. If she thinks she's got something to come back for..."

"She does," Marcus snapped. There were times when he found Stephen's bedside manner singularly lacking, and this was one of them.

The doctor held up his hands in surrender. "Which reminds me, I guess I owe you a couple credits."

"Never mention that again," Marcus said. "Please. I'm damaged enough as is today."

Before Stephen could reply, if he'd been of a mind to, Marcus turned carefully on his side, reached for Ivanova's hand, and began to speak quietly to her. Later, he was not able to recall his words, or the order in which he spoke them; Marcus knew only that he had told her, again and again, of his love for her, and of the fact that he was there, watching over her and waiting for her to wake up. For a time he didn't think that it would ever work, but then he was almost certain that he'd felt her squeeze his hand. When she did it again he was sure, and Marcus smiled.

"Welcome back, Susan," he said as her eyes opened and she looked over at him.

"Hi," she said. "What the hell happened to you?"

"Oh, nothing much. The chapel's a bit of a mess, I'm afraid, and we were standing in the middle of it when it got that way. Something about a couple of Earth destroyers who arrived rather late and still thought they could take us on and win. Clark's not hiring too many sharp ones these days, and his on-the-job training program doesn't seem to be going very well, either. How do you feel?"

"I hurt," Ivanova said. Then, "Marcus?"


"Why is the room spinning?"

"Concussion, Stephen says. We're a matched set as far as that goes."

"Charming. What else is wrong with you?"

"Let me see...Broken ribs, punctured lung, sprained wrist, twisted ankle- oh yes, and I'm entirely mad, but Stephen couldn't do much about that last."

Ivanova laughed. "I've got news for you, sweetheart. You were crazy before half the world fell on you." She shook her head, then winced as her headache grew. "Ow. Remind me not to do that again... I swear, though, only the Minbari would use real crystal on a warship. I'm sure it's traditional, but it's also really impractical."

"Yes, and it's a good thing you have such a hard head, isn't it?" Stephen asked.

"Argh- Stephen, as soon as I can stand on my own two feet-"

"Which thankfully won't be for a while," he said with a laugh. "Your ankle is broken. You owe Marcus for that, by the way."

"Oh, thank you very much, Doctor Franklin," Marcus said with a sigh. "Why don't you just paint a giant target on me while you're at it? Something bright red, I think, with the words 'shoot me now' in large letters?"

"Be nice, Stephen," Ivanova said. "I could've done without any broken bones, but yelling at Marcus for saving my life would send the wrong message."

"And he might not do it again next time if you hurt him too much," Stephen added.

"You," Ivanova said, "are insufferable. When can I go home?"

"We," Marcus corrected. "You're not going anywhere without me."

"Well," Stephen said, "the Captain's still got Earth to deal with, and we're not going back to Babylon 5 until that's taken care of. You two, however, will still be right here when we get to B5."

Ivanova and Marcus traded looks, and it was nearly all Stephen could do not to throw up his hands and sigh. He knew that look, and it meant trouble. The two worst patients he'd ever known had just combined into one patient who was far, far worse, and he wasn't sure anybody was up to that challenge, let alone him.

"Damnit, Stephen," Ivanova said. "We're injured, not dead, and we're sure as hell not useless!"

"No, what you are is very badly hurt," Franklin said, "and since neither of you seems to be able to stay conscious for more than five minutes at a time-"

"Can you least tell us what's going on?" Marcus asked.

"Captain Sheridan's going the rest of the way on the Agamemnon, with the other White Stars and our EarthForce ships following behind," Stephen told them, knowing the fight wasn't over just yet but willing to accept the change of subject rather than continue to lose said fight. "Delenn's taken command of one of the Minbari war cruisers, and believe me when I tell you, it was about all I could do to convince them to let you stay here instead of sending you straight back to B5, which is what they wanted to do in the first place."

"What?" Ivanova demanded.

Stephen winced. "Fortunately, I was able to convince them that they might just need me-"

"And," Michael Garibaldi added from the doorway, "Stephen figures, even as much of a wreck as you guys are, you'd still be able to beat the crap out of him if you really wanted to."

"We still might," Marcus said quietly.

"Nothing else to do," Ivanova agreed, and Garibaldi and Franklin traded troubled looks.

Garibaldi held up his hands. "Hey, I'm out of here- just wanted to come see how you guys were doing."

"Fine," Ivanova said shortly. "When the hell did you get here, and why didn't anyone tell me?"

"About a half-hour ago, and because I think you were unconscious at the time," Garibaldi replied.

Ivanova rolled over onto her other side so that she wouldn't have to look at him. "Get out, Michael."

"Damnit, Susan- Look, I'm the one who helped get Sheridan out, alright?"

"You're also the one who got him captured in the first place," Marcus pointed out. "Go away."

Garibaldi sighed. "Fine. Just forget it. I'll go. It doesn't matter, of course, that I nearly got myself killed rescuing Sheridan, or that all of this was Bester's fault, not mine."

"I swear to God, Garibaldi, one more word and-"

"And what, Susan? You think there's anything you could do to me that would be any worse than knowing I betrayed my friends because Bester messed with my mind, and that he probably got his rocks off in the process of screwing with me or watching the after effects? Or both? Huh? Give me a break. You couldn't possibly make my life any worse than it is right now, trust me."

"Michael-" Stephen began.

And, "Mister Garibaldi, if I were you, I'd leave, right now," Marcus said.

Almost before they'd finished speaking, however, Ivanova rolled back to face Garibaldi, and her good leg shot out in a snap-kick that sent him reeling back from her bedside. He'd hardly recovered from that when she launched herself from the bed towards him, and though there was a depth of anger and betrayal in her eyes he'd never seen before, her every motion was precise and controlled, allowing for her own injuries. And Michael Garibaldi knew that it wouldn't matter that he was stronger than her, or that his weight was greater. She could, and would, kill him with her bare hands before he could even begin to use any of that in his favor.

"Susan!" Stephen was screaming. "Susan, listen to me- I know it sounds crazy, but it's true- Lyta scanned him, and it's true!"

Garibaldi felt the fingers of her good hand digging into his throat, and closed his eyes. This was it. At least he wouldn't have to live like this anymore-

And suddenly, the pressure eased. Ivanova sat back and withdrew her hand.

"Susan?" Stephen asked.

"Feel better now?" Garibaldi quipped. He had just enough time to see Marcus mouth the word "Don't" at him before her fist came hurtling towards his face and connected none too gently. "Okay...guess I earned that one."

"Yeah. Guess you did," Ivanova said dully.

Marcus hopped off his bed, and Stephen was too busy watching Garibaldi and Ivanova to notice until the Ranger stood at her side. He held out his good hand, and she took it in hers, climbing to her feet with hesitant, jerky movements.

"I think that's enough for a bit, don't you?" the Ranger asked lightly as he helped her back to bed. "You can always beat him up again later if you'd like."

"Thanks, Marcus," Garibaldi said, sounding offended.

Marcus turned and pointed a finger at him. "You. Be quiet. You brought that on yourself, you know. If you had started from the beginning and not made an ass of yourself when she was close enough to make you pay for it-"

"I hate to say it, but he's right," Stephen said. "You want some ice, Michael?"

"Nah," said Garibaldi. "I think I'm gonna go find Lennier and pass the word."

"What word?" Stephen asked.

"I'm not sure about Marcus yet, but I think Ivanova's gonna be just fine."


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