DISCLAIMER: I don't own Babylon 5 or any of the characters represented in the show. They're owned by JMS and other people who aren't me. I'm doing this for fun - I'm not making a profit, monetary or otherwise off of this. No copyright infringement is implied/meant/deliberate in any way, shape or form. If I've forgotten something, insert the usual disclaimer stuff here.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

I Hear the Secrets That You Keep
By Del Robertson


Relentlessly searching, I stalk the corridors of Babylon 5. Deep in the shadows of the night, I hunt undetected, unbothered by the random security patrols. I've observed the guards on their rounds. I know which areas to avoid and when. I proceed unimpeded while my prey slumbers in quarters, tossing upon silk sheets, restless, but unable to discern the reason why.

My name is Talia Winters. I'm the licensed commercial telepath assigned to the last of the Babylon stations. By Psi Corps records, I am classified as a P5. To those unfamiliar with the ranking system, that indicates I am a close-proximity telepath.

Close-proximity. Interesting term, that. By Psi Corps regulations, I'm bound to wear gloves in public to limit the possibility of scanning through skin-to-skin contact. Part of Psi Corps' contract with Earth Alliance to appease those that may be somewhat disturbed by my 'talents'. Contact isn't exactly close proximity, though, is it?

There are those who suspect. They've dealt with Psi Corps and telepaths enough to know when they're being scanned. And, some among the command staff are even aware that we can pick up on strong thoughts and emotions without having to scan.

I doubt if any of them have pursued that train of thought to its next logical destination. Truth be told, I never entertained the possibility until after I received my 'gift' from Jason Ironheart. I wonder if even he suspected the potential he bequethed me.

In the R.E.M. state, when the subconscious mind takes over, dreams come to the forefront. Unguarded thoughts, desires, dreams run rampant through the minds of the sleeping. When they surface, I'm there, ready to snare them in my net. I carefully sort through my catch, taking what I want, discarding the rest.

Memories, unspoken words, thoughts buried deep during the waking hours - when night comes, they're mine. I'm an eavesdropper, a thief in the mind. My name is Talia Winters - and I hear the secrets that you keep.

I furtively glance up and down the deserted corridor. Out of cautious habit, really. As I stated before, I know the patrols' schedule. One can never be too careful, though. Especially when dealing with Michael Garibaldi. He tries to be unpredictable, popping up in the strangest places at the oddest times. He's practically waiting in every turbo lift I try to enter these days. He thinks he's charming. I think he's nothing short of annoying.

I slip off my black, leather glove; the metal wall feels cool against my bare flesh. My fingertips lightly caress the painted line. The emerald hue indicates I'm in Green Sector, home to the diplomats stationed aboard Babylon 5. The pads of my fingers glide along the wall, finally settling upon a door at the end of the corridor. A slow smile plays over my lips. What better place to begin than the Ambassadorial Wing?

Closing my eyes, I reach out with my mind, tentatively searching. My mind skims the surface, barely creating a ripple. Confident my prey is deep in sleep, I press in further.

My lips part, my breathing shallows. It's always disconcerting when I first enter another's mind. I'm not actively scanning, so it's like going in blind. The best analogy to describe the sensation is to imagine you're at the edge of a pool of water. A blindfold is over your eyes. You know the pool is in front of you, and you tentatively stretch out your toes, reaching for the edge. But, no matter how cautious you are, you never know for sure whether you're in the shallow or the deep end. The leap may be only three feet - or it could just as easily be nine.

Mind-walking is like that. In the daylight, with your eyes open, it's relatively safe. At night, it's like tight-rope walking with your eyes closed. You never know when you're going to step off into the abyss. It's foolish and dangerous - and thrilling beyond belief.

My breathing evens out, a feeling of ease washes over me. I've been here before. Numerous times. The feeling of familiarity is comforting. Ambassador Mollari is a creature of habit, even in his dreams. The first time I entered his dreams, I expected to be bombarded with plans and schemes of how he intended to conquer the Narn Regime and restore the honor of the Old Empire.

I wasn't disappointed. But, I was pleasantly surprised when his dreams morphed into another fantasy. In time, I came to realize that all his dreams start out the same. They all begin with blood and gore and war, then gradually change as he slips farther into the realm of sleep. I knew the Centauri Ambassador had a healthy libido, I just hadn't realized how active it really was. Amused, I patiently await until his sexual appetite has been satiated - then, predictably, he reveals what I've been waiting for. As his mind slips farther away, he reveals another secret buried deep in The Purple Files.

He panicked when his mistress seduced him, drugged him and downloaded all his files into a data crystal. He claimed the knowledge she'd stolen was enough to bring about the fall of the Centauri Republic. That theft was brazenly committed during the day, all the files stolen at once - it was painfully obvious that Londo had been robbed - and it was a simple matter to reclaim what had been taken from him. He'd returned his files to his computer, secure in the knowledge that they were protected with new, improved passwords and anti-theft devices created expressly for him by the Chief of Security. But, how do you protect against an unseen thief that steals the secrets of your mind, one-by-one, without leaving so much as a fingerprint?

I make my way throughout the station, stealing into the minds of the sleeping, taking bits and snippets of dreams, fantasies, and memories as I go along. Privy to the most private of thoughts and desires; I briefly wonder what the others would think if they only knew? If they only knew everything that I did -

G'Kar spends his nights in restless slumber, dreaming of overthrowing the Centauri Republic, planning the demise of Londo Mollari at his own hands, cultivating ideas in his mind for a new weapon to launch against the Centauri. Lennier fancies himself as a swashbuckling hero, romancing Delenn, sweeping her off her feet, whisking her away from the Minbari religious caste.

What would Captain Sheridan say if he knew the secrets that danced in Delenn's mind at night? I doubt if he'd ever suspect the things she'd had to do while in the grey council - her part in the battle between the Earthers and the Minbari - the secrets that she keeps even now. Just as she would be shocked to know he still dreams about his dead wife each night, haunted by the memory of her death.

Also disturbing are the recurring thoughts Dr. Franklin has about stims. These are much more than just random dreams. I can feel his body's craving, his mind calling out for the drugs. I wouldn't be surprised if he soon succumbs to his addiction during his waking hours.

There are those that I do not bother while they slumber. Minds that I do not walk through. Kosh is one of those. So little is known about the Vorlons. Do they sleep? If so, could I enter one of their minds undetected? The cost is too great; I can not afford to risk it at this time.

Michael Garibaldi. I shudder to think of the dreams that run through his mind. The man is a lunatic. His obsessive need to stake out turbo lifts, drive Minbari-fueled motorcycles in the corridors and watch Daffy Duck cartoons are evidence enough of that. I'm almost positive his dreams would be in technicolor animation.

Approaching on hesitant feet, I slowly come to a stop in front of the metal door in Blue Sector. I take a deep, shuddering breath, steadying myself before removing my glove. Almost reverently, I place my palm against the door, my fingers splaying out over the cool metal. Exhaling, I work to calm my nerves. Tentatively, I reach out with my mind.

My mind collides with something akin to a brick wall. I'm rebuffed, sent spiraling away, out of control. I abruptly open my eyes, finding myself still standing in the corridor, my bare palm braced against the door. My pulse is quick, my heartbeat thundering in my ears.

This has happened before. The first time, it scared the hell out of me. I thought that she'd somehow sensed what I was doing, that she was actually awake when I'd made the attempt. I was terrified, spending the whole next two days in a state of panic, waiting for her retaliation.

I'd eventually realized that if she'd known what I'd done, she'd wouldn't have waited to take her vengeance. It would come swiftly and deadly - and I'm quite certain my corpse would have been floating outside the station if she'd had an inkling of what I'd been up to.

As my fear dissipated, I began to look at the problem logically. Judging from her inaction, it was safe to assume that she had not detected my presence. She was no more aware of my foray into her dream-state than any of the others had been. No, it was something else. Something different.

It's as if she somehow has the innate ability to block me. Her mother. Of course. She was a latent telepath, fed sleepers by Psi Corps when she refused to join the organization. No doubt, she'd been in her mind countless times before the Corps administered the drugs. That's where she gained her instinct from. She could sense me and block me - even in her sleep.

I would have to take care, be extra-cautious with her. And, I have been. I've left her alone. I've been practicing with the others, honing my skills each night for over a month. They've proven invaluable, if unwitting, subjects in my experiments. I've learned different techniques, mastered the complexities of my new-found abilities.

I'm ready now. I take several steadying breaths, willing my heart rate and pulse to slow. Resolutely, I remove my other glove. Placing both palms against the metal wall, I close my eyes. A thin line of perspiration breaks out on my forehead. My bottom lip quivers. Shoulders heave. My head tips forward, my forehead bracing against the door. I close out all thoughts, block all the bodily sensations that I'm keenly aware of, concentrate only on what lays beyond this door.

I sense her. Laying in bed on blue, silken sheets. She's on her back, the top sheet kicked off, half on and off the end of the bed. Her hair is loose, falling about her shoulders in silken disarray. Her usually starched white Earthforce shirt is rumpled beyond repair, the tab collar open, revealing the delicate lines of her throat. The top three buttons are undone, tantalizingly inviting, yet revealing nothing. The sleeves of both arms are rolled up to her elbows, emphasizing strong forearms and wrists. One hand lays across her flat stomach, fingers twitching upon strong abdominal muscles.

The belt of her trousers are undone, the ends hanging loosely through the beltloops. Likewise, her button and zipper are undone, the material draped carelessly open. More than a hint of navy blue boxers are revealed at the opening of her trousers. Her shoes are gone, her feet bare, toes tangled in the expanse of sheet hanging off the end of the bed.

Poor baby. Must have had a hell of a day in C & C. She looks utterly and completely exhausted. Good. Maybe tonight will be the night I finally get into Commander Ivanova's head.

There's a young girl, a brunette, standing against a brick wall. Beside her is a teenage boy, leaning nonchalantly against the same wall, a sly smirk on his face. They have the same eyes, the same smile. They're obviously related. I suddenly recognize them as a young Susan and her brother, Ganya. They continue to lean against the wall, oblivious to my presence, watching the older girls in the school yard. A petite blonde goes by, and both Ganya's and Susan's eyes follow her. I smile as I realize that even at such an early age, Susan's head was turned by the pretty girls.

The images fade, a swirling snowstorm seems to come from nowhere. I brace myself against the biting cold. Even though I know my physical body is safe in the corridor outside, my mental body still feels every sensation as if it were actually happening. Because, even though this is a dream, it's still real on a subconscious level.

My entire world shifts, and suddenly she is standing before me. Not the little girl from earlier, but rather the woman - the officer she has grown into. She's in C&C, on the upper level, her back to me as I sweep into the room, announcing myself with all the confidence in the world. I feel her bristle as she takes in my appearance, sense her annoyance turning into blatant irritation. And, suddenly, she's behaving incredibly rude, telling me she has fifteen other things to do, all of them annoying, and my entire world tilts beneath me as she turns her back on me once again, effectively dismissing me.

Time shifts. And, that same young girl is standing outside a house, the door open behind her. Her clothes are tattered, her feet bare as she stands on packed-down snow lining the sidewalk. She clutches a teddy bear with one hand, keeping it safely tucked beneath her arm. Her other hand desperately reaches out. Hands are restraining her, even as she struggles to free herself. Tears are flowing freely from agonized blue eyes, falling over tender cheeks. I strain to see who she's reaching for. Then, as if I can see through her eyes, I focus on the retreating black uniforms, the woman being dragged from her house, down the sidewalk, and into a waiting vehicle. She barely has the strength to raise her head, to turn to look back once more --- and as I hear the cries of "Mama!" in my head, it suddenly hits me. This is Susan's mother. And, to her this is more than just a random dream; this is her reality.

Before I can break contact, I'm yanked into another stream of thought. Her dreams carry me along, forcing me to feel through her. My chest swells with pride at the sight of Ganya in his uniform, freshly graduated from the academy. Susan teases him mercilessly about how handsome he looks in his Earthforce uniform. Then, the joyous occasion shifts, and the next time I see Ganya through Susan's eyes is when they bring his body home from the war.

I'm pulled into her dream once again. It feels odd to go from seeing one of her dreams to actively participating in them. We're sitting in a cafe. The lighting is dim, a single rose on the table. A bottle is in a bucket nearby, two glasses of a white wine are waiting. The soft strains of music reach my ears, and I turn to see a violin player in the background. I turn back to find Commander Ivanova intently watching me, a smile on her face, blue eyes crinkling with amusement in the dim candlelight.

"And, just what are you looking so smug about?" I question around a forkful of the juiciest steak I've ever tasted.

"You had no idea what I'd planned for tonight, had you?" she asked, not waiting for a response before plowing ahead. "That's why I'm smug. It's not every day you can surprise a telepath."

"Oh, Susan," I smile brilliantly, "You are such a romantic."

I feel her despair at the funeral of her brother, the ceremony her father refuses to attend because he disapproved of the war. I bear silent witness as she takes one of his earrings and wears it as her own in remembrance. And, when her father learns of her decision to join Earthforce in honor of her brother, I feel the stinging slap across her face. Then, I clearly see the walls go up around her heart. Everyone she has ever loved in her short life has either been taken from her or abandoned her.

"Susan. Susan." Against my better judgment, I mentally call out to her. I should know better than to take such risks. Surely hearing my voice in her mind will cause her to bolt. I risk all by reaching out to her; but I can not stand idly by and watch her suffer alone.

"Talia." I hear her voice - and my heart sinks beneath a wave of impending dread.

After several moments, she says nothing farther - and I mentally breath a sigh of relief. If I was smart, I'd retreat out of her mind now. If I was cautious, I'd carefully creep out of her quarters and back to my physical body. If I was sensible, I'd never, ever think of attempting this stunt again.

I'm none of those things.

My mental self retreats only a small portion. I can't bear to break off all contact with her at this point. Instead, my stubborn and foolishly reckless mental self lays down on the bed beside my sweet Commander. And suddenly, I see my bare fingertips stroking through brunette locks, tenderly pushing them off a perspiring brow.

I feel it coming this time; the tingling sensation signaling I'm about to be pulled into another one of her dreams. No longer am I a casual observer in the background; I've become an unwitting participant. We're in Med Lab 1. The smell of sterility and hospital scents assault my nostrils. A teenage girl is laying stretched out on a bed in front of us.

Alisa Beldon. I remember her. The young telepath whose future Susan and I argued so adamantly about. Dr. Franklin has examined her, found her to be stable. He turns to us and in an eerie, disembodied voice, suggests we fight it out.

Suddenly, she's yelling at me. Her face is red, the corded muscles of her neck bulging with each syllable she bellows at me. She's so close, I can feel her hot breath upon me as she barks out her commands, demanding I surrender the prisoner to her custody. I scream back just as loudly, reminding her that she's not Michael Garibaldi. I see the dangerous spark flash in her eyes as she growls out that she's certainly not Garibaldi and I would do well to be reminded of that fact. Then, before I can even process what that means, she's on me, her lips closing on mine, her tongue thrusting into my mouth as she grabs my hips, pulling me into her embrace.

This kiss ends, and we're both left panting for breath. Speechless, Dr. Franklin is staring at us, his jaw threatening to hit the floor in shock. Heart hammering wildly in my chest, pounding in my ears, I can scarcely believe it myself as my arm comes up. And, before I even realize what I'm doing, I've slapped her across the face. Once. Twice. She catches my wrist on the third attempt, brutally twists it behind my back. I bite down on my bottom lip to keep from crying out in pain.

"You want to play, little girl?" she hisses in my ear, applying pressure to my arm, forcing me onto the toes of my feet as she marches me in front of her. "Striking an Earthforce officer is a serious offense." I shiver in anticipation at the tone in her voice. "A very serious, punishable offense." She laughs raucously, her tongue licking my ear, one hand caressing, then slapping my posterior.

Before I can adjust, I'm tossed out of her dream again, landing rather roughly back in my mental body beside that of the sleeping Commander. Surreptitiously, I check to make sure she is indeed still sleeping. It wouldn't do to be caught in her quarters now, astral projection or not.

To my relief, she's still blissfully lost in slumber. I lay there for long moments, watching the rise and fall of her chest with each breath. Fingers reach out, stretching, impulsively working loose one of the buttons on her shirt. As I idly open her shirt farther, I reflect upon the last dream I shared with Susan. Who would have thought one of the elusive Commander's dreams would involve her in such a blatantly sexual innuendo-based fantasy. With me. Intrigued, and more than a bit aroused, I make the decision to slip into her mind again.

I got more than I bargained for. Or, should I say, something entirely different than I was hoping for? I should have known. If I've learned anything from my time slipping in and out of dreams, it's that they can change instantly, with no rhyme nor reason. It should have come as no surprise, then, to find that I had stepped back into a dream that was completely unlike the previous.

C & C was under heavy-fire. The blast doors had been lowered, the doors leading to the corridor effectively sealed. Burned out terminals and relays dotted the work stations. There was a loud hiss, then a pop before a console in front of Corwin spontaneously burst into flames, searing a hole right through his chest. Calmly, the officer seated nearest him grabbed an extinguisher, doused the flames before they could spread farther along the consoles. Then, she returned to her work station, as if there was nothing out of the ordinary about her coworker laying dead on the deck.

Acrid smoke burned my nostrils, causing my eyes to tear up. Wiping the moisture from my cheeks, I continued to survey the damage. Corwin wasn't the only dead officer. Death was everywhere. Officers lay scattered indiscriminately around the perimeter of C & C. Some had died at their consoles, hands still on their controls. Others, like Corwin, had been hurtled backwards by the blast that killed them and had died upon the metal deck. The lieutenant that had used the fire extinguisher and an ensign looked to be the only two officers still left at their stations. Both worked frantically, attempting to control their stations as well as those in their immediate vicinity.

The smoke grew thicker, burning my eyes, assaulting my nose. Covering my nose with one hand, I crept forward through the wreckage. Instinctively, I knew where Susan must be. I paused, one heel on the stairs leading up to the main bridge. A body was sprawled on the staircase, hanging upside down at an awkwardly impossible angle, making passage extremely difficult. I stepped over a burned and charred torso, doing my best not to look down.

A hand grabbed my ankle, fingers closing about the delicate flesh above my shoe. Shocked, I glanced down, fighting to control my scream. The ruined face of Captain Sheridan stared up at me, his mouth working, but no sound coming out. His eyes closed, his hand went slack, his head falling back against the deck. And, as gently as I could, I stepped over him, fearing what I might find when I reached the bridge.

She was standing in the center of the bridge, looking as proud and defiant as one could while their entire world collapsed around them. Her face was covered in grime, a three-inch gash running across her forehead, dripping blood sporadically onto the collar of her white uniform shirt. She was breathing heavily through her mouth, a thin line of blood running from the corner of her lips down to her chin. Her normally pressed, white shirt was rumpled, torn, charred black in spots. Her right sleeve was gone, torn off near her shoulder, her hand clutching a PPG in her grasp.

Her other arm was stretched behind her body, as if protecting something valuable, shielding it from danger. Intrigued, I edged my way around the Commander, wondering what - or who - she could be defending. If the Commander even sensed my presence, she didn't acknowledge it as I brushed past her.

She was dressed in black high heels with a red and black skirt. The knees of both legs were skinned raw. A blue Earthforce jacket covered her torso, hanging open around her midsection, revealing the rest of her dress. It was bloodied and torn, a rip stretching from the right shoulder down to almost the waist. She turned, the material of the uniform shifted, revealing a pale breast to my gaze. Instantly, I looked away, my glance falling on the uniform jacket. The ranking designated it as the Commander's jacket, as I knew it would. Her arms went about Ivanova's waist, fingers settling on her abdomen. Blonde hair wisped around dark brown as she lay her head on the Commander's strong back.

The Commander's hand came around, her fingers intertwining with the ones splayed across her midsection. The pads of her fingers stroked reassuringly over delicate flesh in a familiar pattern. Unexpectedly jealous at this hint of possessiveness, I moved in, hand closing upon the blonde's upper arm, spinning her around to face me. My mouth dropped open in shock, a gasp escaping my throat. She was me.

My world went into hyper-drive as I was literally yanked off my feet and flung into her body. And, suddenly, I was the one standing on the bridge with the Commander, my dress torn and ruined as she shielded me from whatever was beating at the corridor doors with increasing ferocity.

She turned, one hand possessively circling my waist, the other going to my chin. Fingers delicately stroked, applying subtle pressure, forcing me to look up. Her blue eyes looked like a frozen lake, calm and reassuring. I became lost in her gaze as fingers stroked delicately over my cheek.

"Don't worry, little one." Her voice was thick from the smoke. "I will let no harm befall you."

"Very touching, Commander." I gasped sharply at the voice. Bester. He was suddenly before us, a squad of Psi Corps officers flanking him. "Too bad that is one promise you will not be keeping."

He laughed evilly, showing his teeth. Susan pushed me behind her, brought her PPG up. Before she could fire, three shots hit her in the midsection. I screamed as she fell, doing my best to catch her, ease her descent as she slumped onto the deck. I held her in my embrace, head propped against my upper chest as she lay in my arms, blood running profusely from her mouth.

"Take her." Bester commanded, signaling two officers forward. They grasped me by the upper arms, roughly pulling me away from the fallen Commander.

As I was hauled to my feet to stand in front of Bester, he reached out a gloved hand, fingers closing roughly about my jaw. "You should have known I'd come for you, Ms. Winters," he smiled cruelly. "After all, the Corps is mother. The Corps is father. You're family."

I struggled, attempting to break free. The guards held me fast, though, and I was unable to break their hold no matter how desperately I struggled. With a lingering smile, Bester left my side, coming to stand beside Ivanova. Her eyes were closed, her breathing shallow. He prodded her roughly with the toe of his boot. Her eyes flew open, pain-filled gaze focusing on his cruel visage.

"And, you, my dear Commander Ivanova," the sentiment rolled off his tongue like a snake's venom, "You would have done well to remember that she is Psi Corps. She will always be Psi Corps. And, nothing you could have ever said or done would have ever changed that." A frown flittered across his features. "You've had her for far too long. And, she belongs to me."

The PPG was in his hand instantly, aiming, firing mercilessly, the electric discharge filling the air.

"Susan!" I shouted, straining against the restraining arms holding me back. "Susan!"

My eyes flew open, her name still reverberating from my lips. I was sitting up in her bed, clutching my knees to my chest. Tears streamed from my eyes, over my cheeks. My scream died in my throat.


"Shush." A warm hand rubbed reassuring circles over my lower back. "It was only a dream."

I stiffened at that. Only a dream. My heart beat faster in my chest, threatening to explode from my ribcage. Only a dream. And, here I was, back in my mental body in her bed, beside her, the palm of her hand stroking over my back.

With a feeling of dread, I slowly turned my head to look at her. She was laying on the mattress, in the exact manner she had fallen asleep. Her hair loose about her shoulders, her white shirt partially opened at her breasts. Her belt unbuckled, her pants unfastened and unzipped. My gaze landed on her bare feet, toes subtly flexing against the top sheet.

"Hey," her voice drifted up to my ears. "You okay?"

Slowly, I turned to meet her gaze, dreading what I would find. I expected shock and rage and disgust when she discovered what I'd been doing, but instead, I found only understanding and concern etched deep into her blue eyes.

"It's okay," she reiterated, "It was only a dream."

"A dream," I whispered.

"Uh-huh." She reached out, strong fingers closing about my wrist, pulling me down to her level. I landed with my hand splayed over her chest, my fingers lightly brushing at downy locks splayed over her shirt. "Third one this week," she murmured, using both hands now to soothe over my back. "You've been working too hard." She leaned back a little, careful to not end our embrace, looking down my lithe body. "And, you've not been eating enough." One hand moved over my waist as if to emphasize how skinny I'd become. "You need something to take your mind off work, help you relax, ease the tension of the day."

"A dream." I whispered the words once again. She'd been awakened by my screams. This was no dream. This was real, I could feel it. But, Susan - she must still be living out her fantasy. Of course she is. She had no reason to suspect she'd find me in her quarters, in her bed. Astral projection, or otherwise. So, her mind must be convinced that this is still part of her dream realm.

She abruptly rolled us over, effectively switching our positions. I was now lying beneath her, her weight pinning me to the mattress. A tongue licked at my ear, tracing over every ridge, teeth delicately pulling at my earlobe. Her tongue left my ear, moving over my flesh, along my jaw, down the curve of my neck. I gasped out loud as teeth sunk into the tender flesh of my shoulder.

"Susan!" I hissed sharply between clenched teeth.

"Talia." She pulled back enough to look me in the eyes. A smile tugged at the corner of her lips. "What is wrong, little one?" she asked, "You no longer desire my touch upon you?"

"Oh, God," I managed to groan out as her hands worked deftly, swiftly divesting me of my clothing, her touch briefly touching here and there, then quickly moving on as she stripped me of my dress. "If you only knew how much I want your touch."

Her smile exploded into a full-on grin. "Then, you shall have what you want, my love."

She sat up, sitting astride my midsection, fingers working the front closure of my bra. Before I could think, she had it open, moving the lace demi-cups away with impatient hands, palms settling upon creamy flesh. My nipples hastily stiffened beneath her touch, my back arching, offering my breasts up for her approval. Fingers closed upon hard buds, gently pulling. Then, in the next breath, she was upon me, her mouth closing upon my breast, her tongue generously laving, then demandingly sucking my nipple into her mouth.

My fingers curled in her hair tugged her locks just enough to make her stop. Her mouth left my breast, the cool air of her quarters assaulting my wet flesh as the warmth of her hot mouth quickly faded. Brows furrowed, eyes questioning, she looked up at me.

"I want you. Oh, how I want you." Her smile only half-formed as she sensed I was going to add a but - . And, there were lots of buts that needed to be voiced. But, I'm an astral projection and you're real. My body is in the corridor outside your door and if you knew the truth about tonight, you would never speak to me again. I want so desperately for this to happen. But, I want it to be in our own time at our own pace. I want it to be real. Instead, I say, "You've had a long day and little sleep. You need to be well rested for the morning shift."

"Do not worry," This time, a broad smile did grace her features, sparkling all the way up to her eyes, "After making love with you, I always sleep like a baby."

Her smile was endearing, her words charming. How could I ever hope to argue with logic like that? "But - "

She silenced me with a kiss. "The only talk of butts to be going on in this bedroom is how much I love yours," she admonished, hands going swiftly to my derriere, quickly divesting me of the last of my underwear.

In the end, it was a war that I could not hope to win. Her hands were everywhere upon my flesh, her lips, her tongue laying claim to my body at every turn. I had no defenses against her. And, despite my initial desire to do the right thing morally, I found I had no strength to resist her onslaught.

I surrendered.

There in her cabin, naked, flat on my back, her still partially clothed, I gave in. Her lips closed about mine, her tongue intertwining with mine. As her body moved over me, I felt the ends of her open shirt to either side, engulfing me. And, I felt her bare flesh as she lowered her body onto mine, her breasts finally touching mine, her nipples brushing over mine. Desperate fingers clutched at the shoulders of her shirt as she lifted on strong forearms, moving so that our hardened buds repeatedly connected.

A strong hand ran over my midsection, across my thigh. And, as I felt myself open farther, her hand settled between my legs. Fingers stroked over downy-fine curls, tangling in their warmth.

"You are so wet for me," the words were whispered into my ear, "How long have you wanted me?" she pressed in, fingers sliding between my lips, coating themselves in my moisture.

"Since forever," I gasped out, admitting the truth as her fingers closed over my bundle of nerves.

Digits slipped between my lips, sliding into me. Muscles tightened reflexively, closing about her, keeping her trapped inside my body. Intense blue eyes bore into my gaze, demanding I keep eye-contact even as the pad of her thumb moved over my clitoris in electric strokes.

"I have wanted you since the first time I saw you," she admitted in hushed tones.

My body arced uncontrollably, an electric shock reverberating through me. Every sensation echoed ten-fold, centering between my legs. Muscles clamped down impossibly tighter as I desperately clutched at strong forearms. And, despite every effort to keep my eyes open, to keep my gaze fixed on hers, my eyes slammed shut as the waves of my orgasm came over me like a tsunami.

I blink my eyes slowly open. My head is resting against cool metal, my arms aching from maintaining my open-palmed position for so long. My breathing is erratic, my heartbeat a cadence of horses' hoofs, a thin sheen of perspiration coating my skin.

With concentrated effort, I slow my breathing. Each exhalation is shallower than the last, allowing me to slowly steady my breaths. With a satisfied smile, I lean my full body against the metal door. Fingertips idly trace the name of Commander Ivanova on the raised nameplate located on the wall. With a sigh, I close my eyes once again.

Words whispered in a soft voice echo repeatedly in my mind.


When I come back to myself, I tug on my gloves, straighten the hem of my dress. And, with as much dignity as I can muster, I march on trembling, exhausted legs back towards my own quarters, praying an observant security patrol will not question my unsteady, staggering gait.

Next morning found me uncharacteristically in the mess hall, observing Earthforce officers coming in for their morning supplements. I was strategically positioned so that I could see the captain's table, confident they could not observe me. Captain Sheridan and Garibaldi were already seated. Sheridan idly poked at his synthesized eggs with a fork, cautiously lifting the first bite hesitatingly to his lips. Chief Garibalidi tore into his meal, ravenously wolfing down the contents of his plate. Idly sipping my tea, I settled back to wait.

She rushed in, hurriedly grabbing a cup of coffee. Sitting down at the table, she reached out, grabbing a slice of toast off Garibaldi's plate. The glare he shot her suggested he was tempted to stab her arm with his fork as she reached across for the strawberry preserves.

"Running a bit late, Commander?" Sheridan asked.

"Overslept," she grumbled, taking a long draw from her cup of coffee.

"I thought we agreed when you went off-shift last night, you were to go straight home and right to bed," he scolded.

"I know, I know." She sounded almost irritated at his show of concern. "And, I did." She took another long draw of coffee, "But, have you ever had one of those nights where you just felt like someone's been running through your dreams all night?"

Behind my teacup, a smile plays over my lips. Gingerly, I reach for my shoulder, the fingers of one gloved hand idly caressing the aching bite marks etched firmly into supple flesh. I look over the rim of my cup, my eyes meeting, holding her gaze as ice blue eyes intently stare at me. I lower my cup, smiling demurely at the Commander. To my surprise, she arches one supple eyebrow, graces me with a smile of her own before lifting her mug to her lips, effectively blocking her smile from my view. Unbidden, memories of a dream come flooding back through my senses.

My name is Talia Winters.

I'm the licensed commercial telepath assigned to the last of the Babylon stations.

And, I hear the secrets that you keep.

The End

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