DISCLAIMER: Babylon 5 and all its characters are the property of J. Michael Straczynski and Babylonian Productions. No infringement intended.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: First of all I have to thank ChicaFrom3, my amazingly talented beta, for coming to my rescue at the last minute so that I could submit a proper story. Somehow she managed to make sense of my wandering tense. Secondly, I am ever so grateful for the Lurkers Guide to Babylon 5, an invaluable tool for researching everything B5. Last but not least, thanks to femslash_today for their sweet dreams and flying machines ficathon. I enjoyed it so much that 800 words somehow turned into 6,576 words!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Annette


The process whereby emotions are passed on or displaced from one person to another.

Part 1

Babylon 5: Decommission and Scuttling - 2281

It was the dawn of the third age of mankind; the Babylon Project was a dream given form. Humans and aliens wrapped in two million, five hundred thousand tons of spinning metal, all alone in the night. It was a dangerous place, and it was our last best hope for peace. This is the end of the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2281.

It had been twenty years since Susan Ivanova walked the halls of Babylon 5. Twenty years since the best and worst times of her life.

"Who am I? I am Susan Ivanova. Commander. Daughter of Andrei and Sofie Ivanov. I am the right hand of vengeance, and the boot that is going to kick your sorry ass all the way back to Earth, sweetheart! I am death incarnate, and the last living thing that you are ever going to see. God sent me."

That bravado had long since been replaced with an inner peace – a constant devotion to duty the only sure thing in her life. Revisiting the station reminded her of a time when she once again allowed someone in, a time when love existed for her. It also brought back the pain of loss associated with that love and the promise she made to herself to never allow anyone else to get that close again.

"General, are you alright?"

Clutching at her chest, Susan willed the pain away as she'd done countless times. "Yes, I'm perfectly fine. Where are the mission reports? I wanted them on my desk as soon as they became available."

"There's been a delay in transmitting them. It seems there's a minor uprising on Earth, some rogue telepaths I believe."

Wincing slightly at the mention of telepaths, Susan motioned towards the door. "Well, go see if you can expedite the transfer. In the meantime I don't wish to be disturbed." As soon as the door closed Susan once again placed a hand over her heart. After all this time I still feel that same pain…

Talia Winters' Quarters on Babylon 5 - 2259

"I wanted to see you before you left. I know this isn't your fault, and I hope somewhere there's a part of you that can still hear me?"

"Always the romantic. The program is complete; the Talia you knew no longer exists. There's just me," the blonde intoned coldly as she sauntered over to the devastated woman.

"You don't know what it's like, living only in the shadows of her mind, watching, laughing at all of you out here. Foolish, petty, stupid. There I was, trapped inside, able to come out only at night when she was asleep. Her invisible sister." Talia was almost upon her now and it was all Susan could do not to flinch at the coldness in those beautiful blue eyes.

"And you believed everything she said to you. All the things you wanted to hear. All the words I whispered in her thoughts while she lay sleeping. The words that would get her closer to you and to what you knew." Long, strong fingers caressed the brunette's cheek, sliding down her neck and over her shoulder, coming to rest over her heart.

"You should see the look on your face, my good, and dear, friend Susan." And with those words Susan felt a searing heat permeating her chest, emanating from Talia's hand. She pushed away from the blonde and looked up, hand over her aching heart, right into eyes so cold she shivered.

"You're right. The Talia I knew is dead. Goodbye." Turning on her heel Susan retreated – ran from the pain of seeing this woman, one she trusted who knew her so well. She ran, clutching at her chest as if it were about to burst open. She ran, ran until she could run no more, and found herself in the garden. In the garden, under the tree – our favorite spot…

The Garden on Babylon 5 - 2259

"Oh, Susan, you can't be serious!" a laughing blonde said between gasps for breath. "Are you telling me that you kicked Garibaldi in the head – accidentally – just because he commented on my figure?"

"Well, actually," Susan chuckled, "he, um, commented on a certain part of your anatomy. But when he bent over to get a better look at that particular asset, I got a little crick in my leg."

"Defending my honor Commander?"

"Actually I was defending your honor as well as my turf." A well-groomed brunette eyebrow rose toward an equally brunette hairline.

"Your turf, huh. I'm not sure how I feel about being considered your turf Commander."

"Well, Miss Winters," Susan leaned in close and whispered, "I may not have conquered the territory yet, but I am staking my claim." Feeling the reaction her whisper caused Susan placed her lips at the pulse point of Talia's throat. Feeling the increase in blood flow against her lips she opened her mouth and bit down lightly and then soothed the bite with her tongue.


"No, no, no, no…" Lifting her hand toward her mouth Susan took a calming breath before activating the com link. "Ivanova here."

Transport Shuttle on course for Minbar - 2282

"General, we are approximately 2 hours from making port on Minbar. President Delenn has requested your presence upon arrival."

A tired looking and somber Susan Ivanova looked up and nodded at the attendant. "Thank you. Just make sure my belongings are transferred to my quarters. I do not want to return this evening and find anything is missing."

"Of course General, I'll see to it personally." Giving a crisp salute, the attendant turned away and saw to the arrangements.

And so another chapter begins as another ends… from Earth Force General to Commander of the Rangers. A desk job! I am tired, it's time to take it easy and enjoy what's left of this so-called life of mine. It will be good to see Delenn again.

As Susan drifted off, her thoughts turned to the time when she began to become disillusioned with Earth Force.

The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven. – John Milton

Babylon 5 - 2261

"It was the year of fire… the year of destruction… the year we took back what was ours. It was the year of rebirth… the year of great sadness… the year of pain… and the year of joy. It was a new age. It was the end of history. It was the year everything changed."

There she was, in the "hour of the wolf." It was that 3-4 o'clock in the morning time when fears and regrets and worries seized her mind so she couldn't sleep. It was where she dwelt on everything that had happened that past year.

It all started when the Captain went to Z'ha'dum. They tried to rescue him and failed, and they were forced to admit that he was most likely dead. As 2IC it fell to Ivanova to take over command of the station. She should have been thrilled to have command, but instead she stalked the station lost in another world and spent countless sleepless nights regretting the circumstances that brought her there.

She tried to talk members of the League into an attack on Z'ha'dum in the Shadows' hour of weakness, or at the very least, to convince them not to abandon the defense of Babylon 5. The League thought all they wanted was to get their Captain back, and although that was true, they also wanted to safeguard the future of Babylon 5 and all the races that looked to her as a safe haven. Their refusal would not stop Ivanova, even Vir's intelligence report of the Captain's actions on Z'ha'dum and his final, presumably fatal, plunge would not keep her from a rescue attempt. She would not lose hope.

But now there was hope, or at least a plan for action. If Lyta and Ivanova took the new White Star to Z'ha'dum, she could scan for Sheridan's signal while Lyta blocked the Shadows and scanned for the piece of Kosh still alive in him. With Delenn and Lennier, aboard they hopped out of hyperspace near Z'ha'dum.

They failed in the mission… the captain did not respond, but something else did. The Eye appeared and mesmerized them all. Ivanova ordered the ship down to the planet, but the White Star flipped around instead and jumped into hyperspace. Lennier had set a failsafe to escape in case he was unable to hit a trigger once every two minutes. They snapped out of it, but they were all deeply moved. The Eye spoke to them in the voices of their fathers.

Back on the station Susan was distraught, she needed to vent and so she decided to make an entry in her personal log. Biting back tears she finally admitted that the captain was dead and now she must continue his work. She needed some help, and she knew just where to find it.

She came to Delenn to request a favor, she wanted to borrow a White Star ship to go in search of First Ones like the ones found at Sigma 957 in hopes that they might assist in the mission against Z'ha'dum.

Marcus and Ivanova were having no success in their search, which was no wonder considering that they were relying on wild stories that travelers had told of godlike beings or ancient civilizations. So far, they all led only to dead ends.

With a couple of hours to kill, Marcus asked Susan about her plans if she lived through this war. This was something she'd begun thinking about, if for no other reason then just to help her believe she would survive. She told him she wanted to return home, travel some, pay her respects to her dead father, but there was no one special waiting. As those words left her mouth she felt the now-familiar tightening in her chest, Talia. Marcus had someone special, he said, but she didn't know it yet. He'd never actually had relations with a woman, it turned out.

"I thought First Ones were rare," Susan muttered. Just then, the ship's controls picked up some odd signals which appeared to indicate a pocket in hyperspace hidden by a distortion field. They switched course to investigate. As they entered the pocket, they could see from the forward windows a vast fleet including some absolutely enormous ships. The smaller vessels shooting around the edges revealed that this was a Vorlon fleet on the move.

Jumping into B5 space, she returned to the station and ordered an immediate meeting with Lyta Alexander and a thorough scan of sector 70x10x53.

The huge birdlike ship exited the jump gate and initiated docking procedures without the station's approval. Ivanova ordered a security red alert.


From a catwalk above the Zocolo, the Drazi leader began to stir up the crowd with anti-Minbari rhetoric.

The crowd in the Zocalo began to grow more rowdy as the Drazi continues. He claimed that they would all be destroyed if anyone attacked Z'ha'dum, just as Sheridan was. To the astonishment of them all, the dead man himself stepped up onto their platform.

"Captain. We're sorry. We thought you were dead."

"I was. I'm better now," Sheridan said ironically.

The Captain began to address the crowd. No more hesitation. They must assemble the greatest fleet in the history of the galaxy. The only man to have survived Z'ha'dum called on them and their governments to end this war once and forever, not just until next time. The crowd cheered their support.

Delenn rushed to his side, and as they embraced, John promised never to leave her again.

Susan still couldn't believe he was alive! But her joy had to be set aside for now, there was a feeling of darkness and dread surrounding her as she rushed to find the telepath.

She found Lyta collapsed in her quarters. "You know, don't you," Lyta said. "It's started."

The war council gathered in Sheridan's office for a briefing. He explained what he had learned about the Vorlon and Shadow objectives, and how the balance between them had been lost.

Ivanova entered with Marcus and Lyta, but the joy of reunion was quickly overshadowed by the report of the vast Vorlon fleet followed by the telepath's news. To everyone's horror it appeared that fleet has just destroyed an inhabited planet because it had harbored a Shadow force. The Vorlons had decided that it was time to destroy everything that had been touched by the Shadows. Now the Army of Light had to stop both the Shadows and the Vorlons if anyone hoped to survive this struggle.

Meanwhile, the Vorlon planet-killer ship cruised towards its next target.

Clark and his cronies continued to turn the people against them, making them appear to be traitors when truth be told they were the ones conspiring with the Shadows and Psi-Corps. Things got considerably worse when an ISN report full of twisted versions of the truth, and a large dose of lies, was broadcast to the galaxy at large. A new battlefield was drawn and Captain Sheridan knew just who would lead that attack.

"You have a face people trust," he said. "When you were giving status reports during the war, you provided everyone with solid, reliable information. Now it's time to do it again, but on a larger scale." This time, the War Room would become the Voice of the Resistance, broadcasting live to ships, to colonies, and to Earth, competing directly with ISN for ownership of the truth.

There was a brief flash of static, and then a test pattern appeared on the screen, followed by Ivanova's face, in the war room.

"This is Commander Susan Ivanova of Babylon 5, and this is the first official broadcast of the new Voice of the Resistance. We're sending this signal out to every ship that wants to hear the truth, to our fallen comrades and freedom fighters on Mars and Proxima III, and to Earth, which, despite what you may have heard, is still our home, and still the one dream that we're as loyal to now as we ever have been. Over the last three years, ever since President Clark took over, after arranging the assassination of President Santiago, you have been hearing nothing but misinformation, propaganda, and outright lies. Now, we're going to tell you the truth. And we're going to keep telling it until they shut us down, or until President Clark steps down and returns Earth to the hands of its people. You can kill us. You can bomb our colonies, destroy our ships, murder innocent civilians. But you cannot kill the truth. And the truth is back in business."

"Commander's Personal Log. We're still searching for First Ones to use in our war with the Vorlons and the Shadows. There's less than twenty-four hours left before everything hits the fan. We can't afford to waste any more time. We have to get back to Babylon 5 and catch up with the fleet."

And so began the battle of their lives against unbelievable odds – EarthGov, Psi-Corp, the Shadows, and now the Vorlons. In the rare few moments of private time Susan had she found herself wondering about her, about where she was. She didn't believe she was dissected like Bester said, she wouldn't believe that. My Talia… every time she thought of her, her heart ached.

Hatred is associated with stupidity, forgiveness is associated with pragmatism, and wisdom follows conflict.


Part 2

Minbari Home world - 2281

Sheridan was dying. He couldn't really tell much, but his best guess was that he had 4 or 5 days left, a week at most, and he wanted laughs, a celebration, not a wake. He'd planned for this day for some time now and, with Delenn's assistance, his request was sent to all who shared his life.

At dinner, Garibaldi was telling a story involving a Pak'ma'ra, a dead cat, and a data crystal; Franklin, Delenn, and Sheridan were laughing, while Vir listened intently. Ivanova sat silently, absorbed in her own thoughts.

When the story was over, Vir recalls another incident. Once, on Babylon 5, he and Londo happened to hear a group of Pak'ma'ra singing; a very rare occasion, done for religious reasons but a couple of times a year. It was, Vir said, the most beautiful sound he had ever heard, full of sadness, and hope, wonder, and a terrible sense of loss. Even Londo was moved, a tear running down his face at the sound. "When it was over," Vir continued, "Londo turned to me and said 'There are forty-nine gods in our pantheon, Vir; to tell you the truth I never believed in any of them. But if only one of them exists, then God sings with that voice.' It's funny. After everything we have been through, all he did... I miss him."

Sheridan proposed a toast: "To absent friends, in memory still bright."

They raised their glasses. Garibaldi: "G'Kar."

Vir: "Londo."

Delenn: "Lennier."

Franklin: "Ma..." but Ivanova interrupted: "Marcus. And Talia."

Later that night, Vir was fast asleep on the balcony, as Franklin, Sheridan, and Garibaldi talked. Ivanova looked at them, still silent, and moved away. Delenn followed her, and asked if she was all right. Ivanova claimed she was, but then asked Delenn how she handled it; Delenn had twenty years to prepare. As much as anybody could be ready, she was ready. "But I'm going to miss him terribly, Susan."

"So will I," Ivanova said. "I've buried so many friends, Delenn. I'm beginning to resent it, and I don't want to. It seems like, some days, there's no one left to play with. There's no joy any more."

Ivanova tried to change the subject, asked where David is. Sheridan and Delenn's son was away on a Ranger training mission, and they made it clear when he joined that he would not receive special treatment. Besides, Sheridan wanted to see his old friends, and wanted David to remember his father the way he was.

There was something else Delenn wanted to talk with Ivanova about. When Sheridan refused to accept re-election as the President of the Interstellar Alliance two years ago, Delenn was elected. Unable to devote her attention to the Rangers, she passed the mantle of Ranger One to Sheridan. When he left, she would have to choose a new leader for the Rangers, and she would like a human to maintain the sense of balance she and Sheridan have achieved. In fact, she would like Ivanova to take the job. Delenn knew Ivanova was not happy with her responsibilities at home, and here there would be no politics or bureaucracy in her way. She could create something new, answering only to Delenn. Ivanova thanked Delenn for the offer, but said she'd have to think about it for a while. She thanked Delenn for everything, and went off to bed.

A few months later, shortly after the destruction of Babylon 5, Susan reflected on her past and the people who shared it and looked toward her future.

"Babylon 5 was the last of the Babylon stations. There would never be another. It changed the future, and it changed us. It taught us that we had to create the future, or others will do it for us. It showed us that we have to care for each other, because if we don't, who will? And that strength sometimes comes from the most unlikely of places. Mostly, though, I think it gave us hope that there can always be new beginnings, even for people like us."

Ivanova informed Interstellar Alliance President Delenn that, if it were still available, she would like to officially accept the position of leader of the Rangers. Her message was greeted with an immediate request for her to come to Minbar to be sworn in. So, she made plans to pack up and leave – not only her home – but also her career with Earth Force. A quick check up and she would be on her way to begin a new chapter in her life.

"Well, General," Doctor Franklin said to the currently dressing brunette, "You're as healthy as you've ever been. The only thing I might recommend is removing the grey from your hair."

"No, thank you, Doctor," Susan replied as she touched the streaks in question, "Medical advances might keep my body healthy and strong but in my mind I know… I want to remember every day, week, month, and year. This is my way of acknowledging the passing of time."

Minbari Home world - 2282

Upon her arrival Ivanova was escorted directly to the President's quarters. The two women embraced and began the process of catching up – a process that involved an equal amount of laughter and tears.

"Susan, what is wrong?"

Clutching at her chest, Susan turned to Delenn. "Oh, it's nothing really."

"You seem to be in some pain, how can this be nothing?"

"It's not really a physical pain as much as an emotional pain that manifests itself physically. At least that's what I've been told by every physician I've seen about it."

"How long has this been so?"

"It's been almost twenty years, can you believe it! I should have forgotten all about it after all this time." Running a hand through her hair, Susan went on. "It's not as if I haven't experienced any other great physical and emotional upheaval in these past two decades."

"Perhaps if you speak of it, it will lessen the pain."

"I'm not sure… I try not to think about it."

"Perhaps the pain is a way of making you remember? Perhaps you really do not wish to forget, or perhaps the person who caused this wishes you to not forget."

The pain intensified and Susan grimaced. "Perhaps you are right." Deciding to take a chance, Susan began to tell Delenn of the events of the best and worst day of her life.

"Do you remember when Lyta Alexander contacted you to get your assistance in arranging a meeting with Babylon Command?" At Delenn's nod, she continued. "And you are familiar with what took place afterward?" Once again Delenn nodded.

Blowing out a breath, Susan gathered the courage to continue. "What you may not know is that T… Talia and I were close. We'd overcome so much – mostly me and my distrust of telepaths – and we were just at the point…" Susan's voice broke and her eyes welled up.

Delenn placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. "I was aware of your feelings for Miss Winters." Delenn smiled at Susan's incredulous look. "During the rebirth ceremony you told me you thought you loved Talia, I was also newly in love at the time Susan, I recognized the signs in you as well." The tears fell freely now and Delenn gathered Susan into her arms. "You do not have to continue if you do not wish to."

"No, I think it actually may help to say it out loud. I think you will understand and I know you will keep my confidence."

"Of course."

"We'd spent the night together and we'd confessed our love for one another for the first time. It was the most wonderful and most frightening evening of my life." Taking a few deep breaths to compose herself, she went on. "We made love and I opened up to her, let her feel what was in my heart and mind. She did the same, and all I felt was pure love, no darkness lurking in the corner."

Angry now, Susan stood and began to pace. "I should have seen it, sensed it, but I didn't. I couldn't sleep that night and I always thought it was because I was so emotional. Earlier that evening Talia told me that I was the one person she trusted completely. I believed her, and I gave her my trust in return. How foolish was I, after everything that had happened to me, to trust again? "

"Were you aware of Miss Winters' activities once she left Babylon 5?"

The question brought Ivanova's pacing to a halt as she answered, "At first I didn't want to know, I wanted to forget, but that wasn't working. When I made some inquiries I was informed that they'd retrieved all the Intel from the control and that they planned to dissect her to study the effects of the mind switch." Shuddering slightly at this recollection, she continued, "After that I didn't want to know anymore, I wanted to grieve and move on. I swore I would never speak with my heart again."

"But you were not successful?"

"At moving on? Not even close. I don't think I realized just how much I loved Talia until she was gone. I never gave my heart to anyone again, because it was no longer mine to give. Oh, Delenn, why didn't I see all of this happening… why didn't I stop it before…" Sighing in exasperation, Susan collapsed into a chair.

"You could not stop what was set in motion that day. What began that day would bring about the end of the tyranny known as Psi-Corp."

"I don't understand… what do you mean?"

"It was becoming evident that Psi-Corp had begun to overstep their original purpose. They controlled the telepaths, but they'd managed to wrest control of the economy, the courts, over matter, over thought itself. They needed to be… oh what is that saying? Ah, yes, knocked down a peg."

"And Talia was involved in this plan?"

"Talia was an integral part of the plan. She had been working with a group of people to bring down Psi-Corps. They had planned to have someone feed false information to the Corps in hopes of weakening them enough to allow other efforts to work at keeping them from regaining their strength. Talia was selected to work on Babylon 5 for a reason, as you now know. What you were not aware of was the fact that counter-measures were in place to foil Psi-Corps plans. Talia was implanted with the 'Control' personality, which did in fact take over and erase her original mind. Or at least 90% of it… she was able to retain enough, through Ironheart's gift, to be able to keep a foothold in her mind."

"Are you saying Ironheart was involved? Exactly how long was this plan in place?"

"Many people in many places had been working for many years – keeping their eyes on Psi-Corp – ensuring they did not overstep their bounds. A number of alternative plans existed, Talia's scenario was the most viable."

"But she changed, she became someone else, someone cruel, I saw it – felt it."

"Yes, it had to be realistic, she truly underwent the change. The Talia you knew was no more, or so it seemed."

Rubbing at her eyes, Susan looked up at the woman telling this story. "Delenn, I'm sorry, but it's been a long day and this story is bringing back some rather unpleasant memories."

"Please Susan, I will attempt to be brief, but I believe you should hear the remainder of this tale." At Susan's tired nod, Delenn went on. "Lyta Alexander was selected to send the trigger for the alternate personality, as you know she went rouge but her connections to Psi-Corp allowed her to get the trigger. When we became aware that Garibaldi and Sheridan had decided to bring Talia into their secret council we knew we had to act quickly. Psi-Corp would never admit to being outsmarted so we knew they would act as if they had no idea how Miss Winters was compromised but they would investigate. Even though Talia was not completely under the alternate personalities control she would still report back some valid information so as not to raise suspicion. At that point what she did know was not very dangerous."

"Wait. You said we. You were a part of this?"

"Yes, Susan. There were many who played small and large parts in bringing about the demise of Psi-Corp. Many who were willing to pay dearly to see the plan through to a successful conclusion. Many who gave all so that things would be different."

Sighing tiredly, Susan looked to Delenn. "I wish things could be different."

"Perhaps things can be different now." And with that cryptic statement hanging in the air the door to Delenn's quarter's opened.


Part 3

Susan turned to see who was entering and gasped in recognition of the phantasm before her. "It… it can't be!"


Oh God, that voice. No, this is some sort of trick! Susan stood and moved away from the apparition in front of her. Still she could not believe what her eyes saw, what her ears heard, what her mind heard…

Susan, it's me. I am alive. Please, can't you feel me?

The pain in Susan's heart intensified once again, only this time it was even stronger. Gasping against the agony, Susan stumbled and was captured by two long, pale arms. She was cradled against a body at once foreign and so achingly familiar. As a voice from a lifetime ago once again echoed in her ear: "Please, I know this is difficult, but I can explain." Feeling the body in her arms begin to relax, she continued. "You must try to remain calm, Susan. I have so much to tell you… let me help you into this chair."

Maneuvering the brunette into the chair Talia took a seat across from her. Seeing the shock, pain and small glimmer of hope in the other woman's eyes, Talia quickly began to tell the rest of her story. "Ambassador Kosh had a ViCaR make a copy of my mind shortly before I was to be taken over by the 'Control'. I didn't have time to explain any of this to you, and you don't know how sorry I am to have made you suffer so."

Susan closed her eyes as she attempted to digest all of this new information. "So, you're telling me that you are switched back to the original Talia?" At the blonde's affirmative nod she continued: "You said Kosh copied your original personality, what happened to the other?"

"It was destroyed, I went through a mind wipe and then my original mind was restored… up to the point of the recording."

"That was before… so, you don't really remember us?"

Sighing at what she knew she must say, Talia closed her eyes. "I'm sorry, it's true I don't remember anything after that day, but I do know that I must have cared for you a great deal to do what I did."

Confused by that statement, Susan asked, "What do you mean what you did? Did to who?"

"You, Susan, I did something to you the day I left Babylon 5. Do you remember?"

"I've replayed that day many times in the past 20 years and I know you broke my heart, as for anything else…" Susan's eyes suddenly went wide. "Wait! You placed your hand over my heart and I felt this searing pain, a pain I've felt many times since that day. Is that what you mean?"

"Yes, Susan." Talia looked deeply into Ivanova's eyes as she continued. "I gave you the missing pieces. It was one of my last conscious actions as the Talia you knew. I held on to her long enough to give you the memories of our love. Lyta Alexander had enhanced abilities, far beyond what anyone knew, and she taught me how to use those abilities – and the gift Ironheart gave me – to gather and store those memories, and how to push them into you without your being aware. I'm sorry for the pain this caused, I wasn't perfect in my execution."

"But, I don't understand, if I've had these memories – your memories – all this time, why didn't I know it?" Suddenly the look of confusion morphed into a wide-eyed look of disbelief. "Can I… can I give them back to you?"

Talia, unable to speak around the lump in her throat, simply nodded.

"Oh God, Talia, how, when…" Reaching for the blonde, Susan crushed her to her chest. "I'll do whatever it takes, just tell me."

"I'm not sure what will happen, if anything." Pulling away from Susan, Talia gave her a somber look. "You must be prepared for that possibility."

Brushing away the comment, Susan grabbed Talia's arms and told her, "I understand, but I want to do this – try this – as soon as we can."

Smiling, Talia reached up and caressed Susan's cheek. "Then let's try." Sliding her hand down her face, over her shoulder and down until it covered Susan's heart, Talia traced the same path she had those twenty years ago. Only this time the intention was to take back what she had given the unknowing brunette.

Susan held her breath in anticipation as she waited for something, anything, to happen. And then that old familiar pain returned and she gasped at the intensity. Then suddenly it began to lessen, seemingly pouring out of her and into Talia's hand. Susan watched as a look of pain appeared on the telepath's face, but she continued on until finally, she collapsed into the brunette's arms.

Ivanova pulled Talia to her and carried her over to the sofa, cradling her in her arms and rocking her, whispering to her. "Come on, sweetheart, come back to me." Pressing gentle kisses to the telepath's forehead, Susan continued to coax her to wakefulness.

Then suddenly, an eyelid fluttered open, revealing bloodshot grey. "Susan?" Talia whispered.

Ivanova's heart jumped. She brushed a strand of golden hair behind Talia's ear and smiled a small, tentative smile. "Yeah. Are you ok?"

"Yes." Talia stretched as if testing her limbs. "I feel a bit weak but otherwise..." Looking up into the brunette's eyes, Talia's face broke into a bright, beaming smile. "I remember! Oh, Susan, I remember us!"

Sensing the reticence in the woman before her, Talia knew she had to make Susan believe, make her know that everything was as it should be again – she was once again complete. "Susan, look into my mind and see for yourself. I have nothing to hide, all that I am is open to you."

Gently she probed Talia's mind, feeling the telepath's joy at once again realizing the love she had for the enigmatic soldier. Nowhere could she find a trace of subterfuge – no evil lurking, waiting to torment her and dash her dreams again. "Oh, Talia," she sobbed, "It's really you – I couldn't bear it if this turns out to be a trick."

It's not a trick, my love. I remember everything, the good, the not so good and especially the very good, Talia purred in Susan's mind.

Susan closed her eyes and reveled in the sound of the telepath in her mind. She wanted this so much, and she was trying desperately to believe. She touched and traced the familiar landscape, feeling the love emanating from the woman in her arms.

I love you, and I've missed you. It's been so long, so long since I've held you and touched you… Cupping Talia's face, Susan lowered her head and pressed her lips to the blonde's. …Kissed you and joined with your mind. "I want you, Talia, I want to make love to you like I have in my dreams all these years."

Please, Susan, touch me.

"I missed you so much," Ivanova repeated as she once again kissed those lips she'd only dreamed of. "Missed how you feel. How you taste." Trailing her hands down the telepath's body, Susan deepened the kiss, pouring everything into it, leaving both women breathless.

Extracting herself from Susan's arms and rising from the sofa, Talia extended her hand to the brunette and led her toward the door. "I think perhaps we should continue this in my quarters." A sudden wave of uncertainty flowed through the blonde as she asked, "That is, if you want to?"

"I don't have the words to tell you how much I want this, how many nights I've dreamed of holding you again."

A radiant smile broke out on the telepath's face as she once again took Susan's hand. "Then show me…"

Ivanova thanked her lucky stars that Talia's quarters were in close proximity to Delenn's. She wasn't sure she could wait much longer to make her dreams reality once again. She never even noticed the apartment as she instantly began to undress the woman by her side. Instinctively she made her way toward the bedroom, hands and lips busily moving over the silken body of the telepath.

God, Susan, please! Talia moaned as she was lowered to the bed and the last barrier of clothing was removed from her body.

Kissing her way down a porcelain neck and across to a pebbled pink areola Susan began to reacquaint herself with every inch of the woman beneath her. So sweet, so responsive… moving over the quivering abdomen and across to Talia's mound, Ivanova breathed in the musky fragrance of her lover. Her skilful tongue traced every fold, making Talia writhe uncontrollably.

"How you respond," Ivanova continued and nuzzled into the softness, her own arousal rising a significant. Ivanova wrapped her lips around the small bundle of nerves, and Talia's hips arched as she let out a low, incomprehensible groan. Her release was violent and sudden, her back lifting off the mattress as she screamed out Ivanova's name. She felt Talia's climax as if it were her own, the aftershocks resonating within her.

It felt wonderful, just to be there and have Talia near her, taste the salty sweat on her hot skin and know she put it there. If I am dreaming, please don't wake me.

Talia's telepathic laugh was bubbly and contagious and her hand was drawing small, lazy circles on Susan's lower back. This is a dream… it's our dream made real.

I'm so glad, Ivanova replied and kissed the hollow of Talia's throat, licking away the perspiration there.

As am I, Talia responded as she touched Susan's face. Staring deeply into pools of blue she watched as a bit of darkness passed over them.

"Twenty years, Talia… twenty years I've longed for this, and I should just accept my good fortune." Placing a gentle kiss on her lover's brow, Susan continued, "I need to know, Talia, as much as you can tell me about these past twenty years."

A look of intense pain clouded the telepath's face as she worked to compose herself. "There is much I can not recall, and much that is not completely clear." Closing her eyes and willing the memories back into a corner of her mind, she continued, "I promise I will tell you all that I can, and listen to your account of events as well, but not tonight." Tonight I want to relive my newly accessed memories of us and create new ones. Tonight I want to begin again with the woman I love…

Transference: the process whereby emotions are passed on or displaced from one person to another.

Love and boundless joy… from the soldier to the telepath – from the telepath to the soldier, no longer all alone in the night.

The End

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