DISCLAIMER: Babylon 5 and its characters are the property of J. Michael Straczynski, Warner Brothers, PTEN, and/or TNT. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Susan Ivanova walked down the long corridor to her quarters. She longed to loosen her collar and let her hair down but knew she should wait until she was inside her quarters. After all one had an image to maintain. None the less as soon as the door to her quarters had closed she pulled her hair free and started unfastening her new uniform. She had no more than loosened the collar, when the chime from her door sounded. Susan considered ignoring it, but as it sounded again she called for whoever it was to come in.
The door opened to admit Marcus and a blonde, green eyed woman, who carried herself as if she had the weight of the universe on her shoulders and didn't mind one bit. "Ah Commander Ivanova, I would like to introduce you to Krista. She is a fellow ranger and will be taking my place for a short while. I have business to attend to off station and I thought that Krista here could fill in for me. Well I must be off. I'll leave you two to get acquainted," Marcus said in a rush. He smiled and made his exit before Susan had truly registered his presence.
"Nice of him to ask if I had any questions. Well Krista of the Minbari rangers I'm Susan Ivanova and I guess we'll be working together."
"It is a pleasure to meet you. I am Krista Petroven, I'm originally from the Russian enclave on Mars. My parents moved us to Proxima Alpha when I was a kid. They were killed in an explosion in one of the fuel mines. A Minbari ship was the first on the scene, they took care of those of us that were left until help arrived. I joined the rangers to repay some of the debt I felt I owed them. Does that answer your questions, Commander?" The lithe young woman spoke as if from far away. Susan could feel the pain in her words.
"Actually that's more than you needed to tell me. Let's start over okay? I'm Susan and I'm sure we'll work well together."
Krista smiled a trifle sheepishly and nodded her understanding. "I'm Krista. As you know. So, since Marcus was his usual vague self, could you fill me in on what my job is?"
Ivanova nodded and began explaining that what Marcus did was as much a mystery to her now as when he had first come aboard. "I guess you could say that he is our contact for grey market information as well as being the liaison between Babylon Five and the Rangers. Look I just got off duty and I need to eat, would you like to join me for some dinner?"
"Thank you Susan. I would like that, should I go get us something while you change?" Krista asked noting the open collar of Susan's uniform.
"I'll call in an order at one of the nearby restaurants if you don't mind picking it up. Then we can talk some more," Ivanova said, strangely willing to spend more time with the female ranger.
And so went the next several weeks, with Susan Ivanova arriving home and half an hour later Krista would arrive with dinner. They would spend the rest of the evening talking or watching some of the old Earth holo flicks that Krista managed to obtain. Some were funny and some were serious, like sappy romances and spy thrillers with amazing gadgets. Some of the movies were very old dating to the late twentieth century. Most of these had some point to convey. One was about a woman who tries to teach impoverished children about poetry, and succeeds by bribing them with fancy dinners and candy bars. While others made Susan uneasy because they dealt with same sex couples trying to find their ways in various relationships. She was reminded of Talia and the feelings she had tried her best to forget.
On the occasions when Susan returned home to find a message that Krista was away, she felt oddly bereft and lonely. These feelings began to grow each time Krista left for a time. Susan did her best not to think about the ranger and sometimes she succeeded, while other times she could not stop thinking about Krista's green eyes or her fine blonde hair.
Ivanova decided that she was being silly as Krista showed no overt interest in entering into a different relationship with Susan. She might have had a chance at forgetting if the maintenance staff had not decided to invade her quarters to fix a leek of some noxious gas.
"What do you mean I have to find somewhere else to live for the next three days. Why can't I just stay in my quarters. I won't move your tools or open any sealed pipes you expose," Commander Ivanova nearly shouted at the tech on the screen.
"Commander I understand that this is a pain for you but the gas that has leaked into your quarters and the eighteen others near you smells incredibly bad," seeing her about to protest he rushed on. "Not to mention that lengthy exposure can be toxic. I'm sorry but you need to find some other quarters for at least three days maybe a week," Before Susan could say another word the tech cut the connection on his end. Ivanova sighed and refrained from hitting the disconnect panel only by a sheer force of will. She looked at her chronometer and decided that she should call Krista and cancel dinner, since she had to find temporary quarters that wouldn't deplete her credit balance.
The screen lit with the blonde ranger's features. Her normal bland expression brightened when she saw who her caller was. "Commander, it's good to see you, what can I do for you today," The ranger's formal greeting was not unexpected. Except in private she never called anyone by their given name no matter how much they insisted she do so.
"Ah yes, good to see you to Ranger Petroven. I just wanted you to know that dinner is off tonight, my quarters have been contaminated by some kind of gas and I've got to find somewhere else to sleep for the next week or so. Sorry I couldn't give you more notice," Susan explained, seeing the look of disappointment on Krista's face. She hoped that the ranger hadn't gone to a lot of trouble for their dinner and entertainment.
"Not a problem, you can sleep here tonight and if you're not comfortable we'll find you a room elsewhere tomorrow. Will that be alright?" the blonde ranger asked.
"Are you sure? I mean it would be great not to have to pay the fees some of the hotels want but it's a huge inconvenience on you."
Krista smiled and gestured behind her. "My home is your home, as my mother would say. I would be honored if you would stay here. I'm in green 21. I trust you know the area? Good, it's settled. I'll see you after your shift," Petroven closed the connection. Once again Ivanova was left staring at the station logo. She smiled, it was good to have friends.
"So then the tech says 'I'm sorry ma'am but even your clothes have to be decontaminated. We'll get this done as fast as possible but there are several other people with the same problems.' I guess I'll just have to have this uniformed cleaned every night," Susan sighed, and sipped at her drink. It was Russian vodka, yet another surprise from the woman who sat across from her. The first had been the way her quarters were decorated. In the weeks they had known one another Susan had never been to Krista's quarters. The walls were hung with light gauzy material that made the room seem brighter and nothing like a typical station room.
"Come on, you can finish your drink after you change into the clothes I laid out for you. I'll put your uniform through the cleaner and then we can watch the vid I got ahold of. It is an old one from earth. The title is The Hunger, it's about what the Earthers called vampires. It sounded interesting," Krista gestured towards the bedroom and began clearing their dinner dishes.
As Susan entered Krista's bedroom she had the feeling that the young woman she had come to call a friend was a very good decorator. The bed was standard issue but there was more of the gauzy material hanging from the ceiling and it made a sort of tent around the bed. On the bed was a night shirt that fell to Susan's knees and a robe that looked like an old earth style kimono. Both felt like they were made of silk. Susan wondered where Krista had found all of the material she'd used to decorate her rooms.
"Okay. Where is your laundry unit?" Ivanova asked, as she exited the bedroom.
"I'll take care of that, you just sit over there, I'll be right back," Krista said, taking Ivanova's uniform. She didn't need to change as she was already wearing soft pants and a loose shirt, instead of her usual dark combat clothing.
Susan sat down among the pile of soft pillows folding her self into a comfortable position. Krista returned and dropped down next to her. She pointed a remote at the view screen and the promised movie began.
As the vid ended, Susan found herself feeling sorry for the woman who had wanted nothing more than to understand an illness and help the people who were afflicted by it. In the end she had ended up a copy of the lonely woman who had made her a vampire.
"I've never seen a vid about these type of creatures before. Are there others?" Susan asked her hostess.
"Yes I've seen a few, but usually the vampire is male, and he lures well built young women to their doom. Not my idea of fun viewing," Krista replied. She was laying facing Susan who was also reclining among the pillows. The dim light made their features seem almost ghostly.
"I guess we should get to sleep, do you have extra blankets?"
"Why, do you steal them in the middle of the night?" Asked Krista with a mischievous grin.
"No, but I may need them unless I'm to burrow under all these pillows to keep warm," Susan replied.
"Ah, now I see the problem, I assumed we would just share my bed. If that's a problem I'll sleep out here."
"No problem, but you have a standard issue bed and I didn't want to crowd you out of it," Susan said, wondering at the way she felt. After all it was just sleeping, Krista had made no move to indicate she expected anything more.
"Don't worry, I don't crowd easily. Besides, how else will I get to find out if you steal the covers," Both women laughed as they headed for the bedroom. "Susan you can have the bathroom first, there's an extra toothbrush on the sink." Krista grabbed a bag and handed it to Susan. Inside was everything a house guest could want, a comb, wash cloth and even a small bottle of shampoo.
"Thanks Krista, I really appreciate all you've done for me." She smiled and walked into the bathroom.
The blonde ranger slipped into her own night gear and pulled out extra pillows and another blanket just to be safe. When the bathroom door open Krista said, "I don't care which side I sleep on so pick the one you prefer. I'll be right back."
A few minutes later the door opened and Krista climbed into the bed from the foot. She adjusted her position to face Susan. "Anything you need before I turn the lights out?"
"No, I'm fine," Susan replied, squirming her shoulders to settle the pillow beneath them.
"Lights out," Krista called, the room dimmed so that there was still a tiny amount of light coming from the wall panel above their heads. "I hope you don't mind but I hate tripping if I have to get up in the middle of the night. Plus I can never seem to sleep in complete darkness it reminds me of the blackout that followed the explosion that killed my parents."
"I always keep a three percent glow in my quarters too. It comes from growing up in a city where no matter what time it is there is always some light from something. Well goodnight, Krista. Pleasant dreams," Susan said, closing her eyes and relaxing for sleep.
"Sleep well, Susan."
The two women fell asleep at almost the same instant, it was nearly four hours later that Susan woke to find her head resting on the still sleeping Krista's chest. Their fingers were intertwined which was what had awakened Ivanova. She had been linked telepathically before, to her mother and possibly to Talia, now she found herself inside Krista's dream. Susan tried to break the contact by letting go of the other woman's hand but she needed to move completely away from the slumbering ranger. Doing so awakened Krista.
"What... how... I thought I was dreaming that we were lying together in my bed but I guess I wasn't."
"I'm sorry I didn't mean to wake you. You looked so peaceful. Sorry," Susan answered lamely, sitting up facing Krista.
"Don't apologize. I did feel peaceful, after all I had a beautiful woman in my arms and in my dreams. I just wish I was still there," Krista replied, looking directly into Susan's eyes. Ivanova caught her meaning and blushed. She wondered if Krista had seen any of her own dreams.
"I guess I should move to the other room," Krista murmured.
"Don't," Susan said, putting a restraining hand on Krista's shoulder. The two women spent the next few moments lost in one another's eyes, until Susan lowered her own brown orbs and let her hand fall to the bed. Krista slipped her own hand under Susan's and brought it to her lips. Susan looked up abruptly and once again met the blonde's gaze. Neither could remember later who had moved first but the next thing either of them remembered, they were locked in a passionate embrace.
Several minutes later Krista came up for air and switched from kissing Susan's lips to nibbling on her neck. "I have wanted to kiss you from the day we first met. I've imagined how wonderful it would be, but never did I think it would be this good," Krista murmured against Susan's neck.
"I've been thinking about you a lot lately too. Especially when you're off station, I find myself wondering what you're doing and who with. All together I just can't stop thinking about you," Susan replied, pulling Krista up to face her. She kissed the ranger fiercely and allowed herself to be pulled back into a prone position. The two women rolled onto their sides, each exploring the others body with inexperienced hands and lips. An exploration that lasted well into the early morning.
"Must you leave?" Krista asked. She stood behind Susan, running her lips over the other woman's back.
"Afraid so. And I'll be late if you don't let me put my shirt on." With a sigh, Krista stopped nuzzling Susan and allowed her to finish dressing unmolested.
"I'll see you after work?"
"Unless you're planning on throwing me out. I still can't go back to my quarters," Ivanova said, as she tilted her head back to give Krista a farewell kiss. The kiss grew in intensity until the blonde ranger broke it, before either of them went any further.
"See you tonight," Susan waved as the door dropped shut behind her. She walked briskly to the station bridge with a bounce in her step and a smile for those she passed.
The next week was a time of discovery and bliss for Susan, she had never been truly close to anyone before. Now she found herself longing for the end of her shift, so that she could rush back to her lover's rooms and be enfolded in Krista's embrace. Just as Ivanova was about to go off duty a message came through on her private channel.
"Commander, I regret to say that I'll be away for the next six to ten days. There is a matter that I must attend to. Delenn will know where I've gone. I will miss you," Krista's green eyes conveyed what she could not express on an open channel.
"I understand, and I'll miss you too. Krista...be careful. See you soon." Ivanova reached up to clear the screen as Krista smiled and winked at her. The station logo appeared but Susan had already turned away. She signed out and headed for her decontaminated quarters. Knowing that the next week would one of the longest in her young life.
On the eighth day after Krista Petroven had left Babylon Five a small Minbari scout ship came through the jump gate. As soon as the ship was clear the pilot was asking for Commander Ivanova.
"I'm Commander Ivanova, what can I do for you."
"I have a private message for you from a friend, will you meet me at the docking bay? I have only a short time here and then I must return to my post," the Minbari pilot asked. The look on his face gave Susan chills but she agreed to meet him at slip 14.
As Ivanova walked into the cargo bay, she caught sight of the emerging Minbari. He carried a small package against his chest, Susan began to dread what he might have to say.
"Commander Ivanova, I am Lorym. It is with great sadness that I must inform you of Krista Petroven's death. I gave her my word that if anything happened to her, I would deliver this to you," The tall Minbari said extending the small package to Susan. She found it odd that no tears came, surely Krista deserved some show of emotion. But all Susan could do was stammer out her thanks to the pilot.
"I was only honoring my promise. Commander...I was with Krista when she died, she asked me to tell you that she loved you and also to ask you to say a prayer for her. I'm very sorry she was a fine ranger and a good friend. I must go now or I'll miss my rendezvous. Do you have someone to grieve with?"
"No. No, it's all right. I'll be fine. Thank you for coming," The words were hollow and yet they were all she could manage. Susan turned and walked back to C&C. She finished her shift and asked Captain Sheridan for the next day off.
"Sure Commander. Susan...Is something wrong? Are you all right?" John asked.
"Fine Captain. I'll see you day after tomorrow." With a final nod she picked up the package and left the bridge.
Once in her quarters Susan opened the gold and black box. Inside was a small packet of data crystals, labeled movies. A picture of the two of them in the station arboretum and a single loose crystal. Ivanova stood and walked over to her vid console. She slipped the crystal into the proper slot and walked back to the couch. Just as she sat down Krista's image appeared.
"Well, Susan, if you're seeing this it means that I won't be coming back. I'm sorry. There were times that I wondered if our relationship was fair to you, and then there were times when I didn't care, because I loved you so much. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you only I didn't know it would end so soon. I wish that I had told you how I felt the first time we had dinner together. Alas though, we humans don't normally move that fast. The one thing I never regretted was loving you, and I hope you don't regret the time we had together. I love you Susan and I'll look for you on the other side. Be strong Susan, Delenn will help you if you let her. I love you." The screen went blank. Susan stared at it for most of the night, finally she stood and retrieved the crystal. Clutching it in her hand she lay down and cried herself to sleep.
The next morning found her at one of the jeweler's shops. The man inside felt that something was wrong with the Commander but he only asked how he could be of service.
"I want a necklace made that will hold this safe. Something I can wear under my uniform. Can you do that?"
The jeweler picked up the data crystal and turned to pick up his tape measure. "Yes I can make you something. Do you prefer gold or silver?"
"Gold, but the crystal must still be able to be used," Ivanova said, her voice rusty and thick.
"No problem, I can do it in about two hours. It'll cost about forty credits. Okay?"
"I'll pick it up in two hours, here are half the credits, I'll pay you the rest when I pick it up."
Susan walked out of his shop and crossed to a small cafe. There she waited the two hours, she didn't speak to anyone nor did she take her eyes off of the jewelers shop. At the allotted time she entered the store, paid the balance and slipped the chain around her neck. Where it would remain for a very long time.
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