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Second Chance ( Conclude )

By Xavier

 

Ivanova was nervous, very nervous.

"Relax, Susan." Talia coaxed her gently. "I wonít hurt you, and I wonít go where you donít want me to."

She nodded at the soft words and took a deep breath, one after another. She was trying to calm down as Talia instructed, but it was a difficult task for her. Ivanova had been living with one notion in her mind for over twenty years of her life. Never let any telepath get too close, and now not only she was involved with one, she was about to be scanned by one.

She felt a hand on her cheek, soft and warm. She looked up, meeting the deep blue gazes that were Taliaís eyes. Her eyes were soft, and filled with compassion.

"Do you need more time?" The telepath asked softly, understanding her completely.

She understood that after Ivanova had been hiding a long time, staying as far away from telepaths as she could. And that she put up walls, so that when she actually had to face one they would not be able to casually scan her, to find whatever it was that she was hiding.

But Talia did not want to know her secrets, though. She did not want to know what it was that she was hiding. Everybody had secrets, she knew, some were more important than others, but they still were secret and no one wanted their secrets to be known.

Susan kissed the palm that was holding her cheek, and she decided that she trusted her. And she would like to get this over with as soon as possible, so that she wouldnít have to feel like a wreck for too long. One more deep breath.

"Iím ready," she murmured finally, still a little scared at the prospect of having someone walking through her mind.

The telepath nodded, looking into her eyes she smiled softly, trying to be as reassuring as possible.

"Relax," she said again, and sat back slightly. "Give me your hands."

Ivanova reached out and clasped both soft hands, now without the Psi dampening gloves. She watched as the telepath closed her eyes briefly, preparing herself for the scan, then she opened them. She was as calm and as cool as ever, but instead of that impersonal look in her eyes there was something else, something entirely different.

"Please, try not to resist my presence in your mind, relaxÖ" She told her.

Ivanova closed her eyes and tried to relax as she was instructed. Still, after a lifetime of hiding and fear it was a hard thing to do. Her mother had drilled three words in her head: ĎTell No Oneí, and told her how she could not risk having a telepath scan her, what she might have to face when they found out. But she didnít think she was a telepath though, she had never been able to read anyone but her mother, but that was something to be expected, they were, after all, blood, and they bonded in the way that only mother and daughter could.

SusanÖ the soft, smoky voice echoed in her head. Please, relaxÖ I canít get through if you are fighting me.

Talia tried again, she gently pushed her way through, trying to get inside, but it was still hard, Susanís thoughts were a mangle of images, no focus and unorganized. She would never be able to find anything in here. So, she spoke to her again, to give her direction and focus.

Focus on one thing, Susan. You donít have to think about the mission, think of other things, Susan. Anything that would relax you.

Slowly, she felt the other woman came into focus and she smiled a little. It was easier to do this while the Commander was not fighting with her. She went through the memories carefully, trying not to touch anything that was too personal. Then she found it.

A big, black object, so big that it practically blocked everything else out of her view. It came straight at her so fast that even the computer could not warn her in time. When she turned and saw it, it was already too late to react. The last memory was of the Starfury being pulled along with the object, while the others were being crushed to pieces.

Then it all went blank.

Ivanova opened her eyes as Talia slowly traveled back up from her mind. She saw sweat slowly dripping down the telepathís beautiful face, her breathing labored; she could practically feel her heartbeat through her skin. She herself was no better off. She was also gasping for breath, her heart pounding in her chest; beads of sweat appearing on her forehead.

Then she felt a stinging feeling on her hands as the telepath clung to her. She ignored it and tried to catch her own breath.

"Oh my god," was all that Talia said after a long while.

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"How did you remember that?"

Garibaldi leaned against the desk in the Captainís office, curiosity clear on his face. He crossed his arms across his chest, his thick eyebrows raised up high on his forehead.

Ivanova leaned against the back of the chair as she tried to answer all the questions that had been thrown her way. After going through the deep scan, she came here to tell Sheridan what she had found out. Talia didnít agree with her when she told her that she would report back right then, but then she told her something that the telepath couldnít argue with. So, here she was, telling them what she remembered.

"How do you know all this? I thought you couldnít remember anything."

"I couldnít. I didnít." Ivanova said quickly, still trying to decide if she should tell them how she found out.

"Then, how?" Garibaldi prompted.

The Commander looked at her Commanding Officer and then back at the Security Chief. Finally, she decided to answer them.

"All right, I consulted Ms. Winters. I asked her to help me."

Garibaldi looked surprised and for a moment there, he seemed flustered at her answer. Sheridan simply nodded, accepting it as it was. He had been considering the idea of having her consult the telepath for a while now. He was waiting to exhaust all the other possibilities before suggesting that to her. Now she went ahead and consulted the telepath on her own, which was good for the investigation.

Now the problem was they had no idea what the object was that had hit the Starfuries was.

"Do you have any idea what the object was?"

"No, I donít." Ivanova said, she was frowning, trying to think back to the list of things that she had seen, all the strange occurrences that had happened. None, however, fitted the description.

Garibaldi took a seat, his arms still crossed over his chest, deep in thought. He forgot about all the hostilities for the time being. "Well, we could go and ask around." He offered finally.

"Ask who?" Sheridan queried.

"Yes, we could ask the Ambassadors. Those races were traveling in space before humans, there is bound to be something that they encountered and we didnít." Ivanova said in a rush, there was some resolved excitement in her face.

"Good idea, Commander, Chief. Letís start tomorrow morning."

They both nodded and got up, knowing that they had been dismissed. As Ivanova followed the Security Chief out the door, the Captain called out to her.

"Commander, can I talk to you for a minute?"

She turned around and waited until the Security Chief left the room.

"Captain?"

Sheridan got up from his seat and came around the desk. He leaned against it, looking at her with a curious expression on his face. He was quiet for a minute, trying to rearrange his thoughts. Ivanova was watching the Captain, she stood at attention, her hands clasped behind her back, waiting.

"Iím surprised you went to Ms. Winters for help." He started.

"WellÖ"

"Iíll take it that your relationship has taken a turn for the better."

She didnít say anything to that, her face was expressionless.

"Do I have to tell them to search for a body outside the airlock?" He joked.

"No, sir. Sheís fine, in fact sheís probably sound asleep in her quarters right now."

Well, mine actually, she thought.

Sheridan looked at the chrono-display on the wall. Realizing that it was fairly late and that his Executive Officer was still in the recovering. "Oh, sorry," he apologized. "I think you should get some more rest, and take another day off, too."

"Thank you, sirÖ is there anything else, sir?"

"No, dismissed Commander. Good night."

"Good night."

He watched as she started to leave the room, but then she stopped and turned back to face him.

"Captain," she started. "How did you find me? I mean how did you find me so fast? Garibaldi didnít mention anything about the beacon that I launched."

Sheridan looked startled for a minute, he thought that someone had told her about the rescue mission, and who made it possible. He frowned as he thought back of how the telepath and Ivanova had spent so much time together lately. Wondering why she did not know about this yet.

"Didnít anyone tell you?"

"Tell me what?" Ivanovaís frown got deeper as she starred at him, a puzzled expression on her face. She crossed her arms over her chest, waiting for an explanation.

"Garibaldi got the information from Ms. Winters. He said she felt you, she saw you in her dream."

"She did?"

"Yes, he got the coordinates from her. At first I thought that maybe she was just guessing, you know." He explained. "After all she is a commercial telepath, not trained in search and recovery."

Ivanova felt something that she could not describe. She wondered why Talia had never mentioned anything about it to her. She knew that if it had been someone else, whoever it was, would quickly have asked for the credit that they deserved.

"Thank you, Captain."

Sheridan nodded slightly. Ivanova turned around and walked out of the room.

Well, maybe itís time to check the temperature in hell.

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Walking into the dark room, Ivanova turned and locked her door. She called for lights, dim. The sliding doors that led to her bedroom were slightly opened, she could see the slim figure on her double bed, could even see the light cast shadow on her.

Talia was asleep.

She stepped up to the entrance to the room and leaned against the doorframe, watching. The telepath was lying on her stomach, her hand resting on the pillow next to her face. Her golden blond hair flung across the pillow like a river of gold. Ivanova stood there and watched her savior sleeping peacefully.

My angelÖ

She tiptoed inside and passed the bed, heading straight into the bathroom. She quickly stripped off her clothes and changed into her nightshirt. Brushing her hair out and cleaning her teeth, Ivanova was ready for bed. She quietly moved to her bed that sat off to the side of the room. The dark color of the blanket contrasted to ever-so-pale complexion of her companion, her face half turned in her direction, a hand curled into a fist. Ivanova pulled back the cover slightly, and slipped under it.

Her bedmate stirred slightly, and with a sigh she opened her eyes.

"UmÖ youíre back." She murmured; her words slurred slightly from sleep. She pushed herself up into a sitting position and rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand. "How did it go?"

Ivanova flopped down on her back, she supported her head with both hands, looking up at the ceiling. "Oh, it was nothing much, they wanted to know how did I remember and I told them that I requested your help." Then she turned to look at her. "They were a little surprised when I told them that I asked you to help."

"I thought as much," Talia said softly, looking down at her. "Are you OK?"

"Yeah, Captain Sheridan ordered me to take another day off, and theyíll try to find out what that thing was."

"What do you think it was?" The telepath queried, still a little shaken at the images from the memories.

"I donít know Talia. We will find out though." She smiled at her, trying to look reassuring, but her smile was a little weary.

Talia caressed her cheek gently, and Ivanova rolled over, resting her head in her lap. She threw an arm around her waist, hugging her.

"At least now we got something to work on," she said. "All thanks to you."

The telepath stroked her hair soothingly; she was quiet for a moment. "No, I did not do anything, I just found it from your existing memories." She stated simply.

Ivanova reached up and kissed her. "Still, I want to thank you anyway for...everything, forÖ saving my life."

"You are welcomeÖ"

The telepath returned the kiss, the Commander guided her over her lap as she sat up and threw the cover off of them. Talia wrapped her arms around her neck, tangled her fingers in the thick mat of chestnut brown hair. She shivered slightly as a hand ran up her thigh, underneath her nightshirt and rested at the small of her back.

"TaliaÖ"

"Yes?"

"May I?" Susan asked in a soft voice, looking into her eyes.

She wanted her so much at this moment, more than any other. She wanted to make the connection with her, wanted to be with her. All doubt was far away from her mind; it felt right. She owed Talia her life, without her she would have been dead by now.

All her fears about Psi-Corps and her self-preservation were gone; all that left was the trust that she placed in the woman who was straddling her lap right now. The woman she knew with all she was that loved her and cared for her. Perhaps, she was the only person that cared more for her than anyone else.

"Yes," the reply was barely a soft whisper.

Ivanova kissed the dimple of her chin gently; her hands reached for the hem of her shirt. Slowly, she pulled it up, over her head and tossed it aside, leaving the telepath in her silk underwear. The light from the small lamp created a shadowy outline of her body, hiding the perfect details.

She looked at her for a long moment, feeling as if she had been hypnotized, unable to take her eyes away. Perfect, the word came to her mind, but it seemed to lack in describe her lover. Her face was beautiful, her hair felt like silk and smelled so sweet. Her figure usually wrapped in a formfitting but conservative tailored suit was now in front of her in all her glorious details.

Her full breasts were milky white, tipped with rosy nipples, which were now stiffened with arousal. Her sleek torso showed the ribcage just beneath the surface, taut stomach and the slight indentation in the middle.

Talia sat back on her heels. She saw the desire in the Commanderís eyes, the desire to explore her body, to remember every little detail. She felt shy as if it was the first time that another person looked at her this way. But this was the first time that the feelings of need were mutual; she had never wanted anyone to this extent before, wanted to be explored by her, to be touched by her.

Then, their eyes met as Ivanova looked up; the desire hung heavily in the air. She used both her hands to trace the contours of the telepathís body. She ran her fingertips over her forehead down to her nose, thumbs tracing the outline of her lips, and she kissed her.

Her hands never stop exploring as she traced her way down, rubbing lightly over her shoulders, collarbone, touching, learning. They came to stop at the gentle slopes of her breasts, the kiss still continuing on as she cupped them in her palms as if to weigh them; for a long moment she let her hands rest there.

Slowly, without losing the touch of their lips she eased the telepath on her back, her head almost hanging off the edge of the mattress. She savored the sight of the most beautiful woman she had ever seen stretched out like some sacrificial offering, the porcelain skin glowing against the dark blue sheets.

Ivanova hovered over her, placing kisses on her face and neck, soft tiny kisses like touches of gentle droplets of rain. Talia sighed softly; she tried to concentrate hard on her block, so that she would not pull the Commander into her mind, knowing that it wouldnít be too long before she lost the control over her telepathic ability completely.

She felt hands holding her waist then caressing down to her hips, so slow and gentle that it was almost like a touch of a feature. Ivanova took a hold on her silk panties and pulled them down her thighs, passing her knees while she placed kisses down her chest, she paused for a moment, taking a nipple into her mouth and sucked. The telepathís breaths now came out in rapid, short gasps.

The Commander alternated between the two, paying equal attention. She did not want to neglect any of them. She moved herself out of the way and the telepath bent her knees, pulling them up. Ivanova pulled the panties down and off her ankles. She held them in her hand for a moment and felt the crotch was damp with moisture. Then she tossed them aside.

She ran her hand up inside of her leg and caressed her inner thigh, concentrated solely on the sensitive areas, intending to drive her crazy with need.

"SusanÖ I canítÖ oh, pleaseÖ"

Talia felt like she was going to drown in all the sensations that the Commander created within her, she felt overwhelmed. Her control was wearing a little thin right now, and she held on to the block as tight as she could. She could feel how focused Susan was, her determination to pleasure her.

"Do you want me?" The Commander asked teasingly. "Do you want me, Talia?"

"Oh, yesÖ I want youÖ please, Susan, I want you so muchÖ"

Ivanova felt the desire shoot through her body in response to the need that was so plain in the answer. She left her breasts and moved down to her belly, kissing her, tasting the sweat. She brought her hand up and gently touched the inside of her thigh and moved it higher to where the moisture was gathering.

Talia tensed at the penetration; her stomach contracted at the sensation of being filled. Ivanova brought her thumb into play and the telepath lost it, all the control that she had, the very last bit of it dissipated. For a moment she felt overwhelmed at all the voices in her head, but they soon faded away and were replaced with only one voice, the voice so close to her.

Susan.

Then panic filled her mind as Ivanova realized what was happening. She pulled back immediately, nearly falling off her bed. The telepath opened her eyes and she knew what the Commander was feeling, she didnít need to read her mind for that. It was so clear on her face now; panic, fear, and hate were mixed into one.

Talia pulled the blanket over her, held it to her chest and she backed away from her. The rapid breathing turned into sobs and she started to cry. Ivanova stared at her for a long moment and she stood up and walked out to the living area.

The telepath wanted to follow her out, to talk to her, but that would be a futile attempt on her part. She knew that once the Commander shut her out, there was no way she could ever get her to open up again.

Ivanova sank down in the overstuffed chair, she was so confused and scared. She was almost there, she had almost let her in. She sat there for a long time, head in her hands. The room was quiet, the only sound was her breathing. She squeezed her eyes shut, as she heard another sob come from the bedroom. Talia was still crying. She did not know what to do now. She couldnít remember being in this sort of situation, this was too personal, she had never let anyone get this close before.

Hundred different thoughts ran through her mind; what would she do now, what would she say. Just the night before she felt so happy to know that their feelings had been mutual, to know that her affection was returned in kind. She hadnít thought of this aspect before, the fact that when they got as close as making love the walls that the telepath put up would be taken down in the heat of moment.

She cursed silently, she should have known, should have been prepared for this.

Talia was crying uncontrollably, did not know what to do next, she shouldíve been prepared, and shouldnít have assumed that Ivanovaís reaction to deep scan she performed would be the indication of her comfort level. After all when she performed deep scan she was able to separate a part of herself from the other person, her block was in place; she was totally in control.

The telepath bit her lower lip, silencing her crying and then she threw the blanket off of her, she got up from between the crumpled and tangled sheets and started to hunt for her clothes that had been thrown all over the room. She knew that she should just leave the place, and leave Ivanova by herself. The Commander would need some time to think this through, and she was sure that her help would not be welcome.

She got dressed quietly, as silence as she could manage and wiped her tears off her cheeks with the long sleeve of her shirt, straightening her appearance.

At the same time Ivanova decided that she should talk to her, to straighten things out. So, she got up from the chair and took a deep breath, she reminded herself that Talia was important to her, she had saved her life and brought her out from wherever she was in her dream.

And she could trust her.

She walked back in the room as the telepath did up her last button.

"What are you doing?"

Taliaís head snapped up at the exclamation, on her face was a look of pain and sorrow. "IÖ I justÖ I have to leave." She stammered. "I donít think you would need me here right nowÖ"

Ivanova quickly crossed the distance between them; she stopped a mere breath away from her. She wanted to hold her hand, but felt a little tentative, so she dropped both hands at her sides.

"IÖ I know youíll need time to think about what just happenedÖ" Talia continued. "I shouldÖ should leave you to it." She choked on her words.

Ivanova nearly let her do just that, leave her alone to think, but she wasnít sure if that happened she would ever get things back together the way they were.

"NoÖ I need to talk to you." She said firmly. It took all her training and courage to get over this fear; she could do this, she told herself. "I need you to stay and talk to me, Talia."

The telepath looked into her eyes; there was sadness and confusion in their depths. Ivanova winced internally as she saw those beautiful blue eyes reddened and starting to swell. "I want you to explain things to me. I canít work this out on my own, Talia. I need you."

Talia nodded half-heartedly and sniffed lightly as a child would. Susan took her by the elbow, leading her to sit on the crumpled bed. She watched the telepath wipe away another round of tears and she put a comforting hand on her shoulder, still feeling a little tentative about touching her.

"Talk to me, love." She said softly, "explain it to me."

Ivanova gave her a few more minutes to gather her thoughts and put them into words. She swore that she would not blow this chance, not this time, never again. She had wasted so many chances with this woman, and now, when they had finally found out how deep their feelings ran, she would not turn away, or let her fear get into the way of how she should handle this.

Talia was a member of Psi-Corps; she believed in them, trusted them until she came to this place. Before now she would have laughed in their faces if someone had told her that the Corps was willing to kill one of their own for their own benefit. But now she knew better, this place had taught her that, this place had shown her the real agenda of the Corps. The organization that she was a part of.

So many years of self-preservation made Ivanova think long and hard before placing trust in someone. And now she trusted Talia and believed that it was time she dropped that self-preservation and opened up to her.

Or she was going to lose this wonderful relationship that had just started.

Finally, Talia started speaking, explaining to her how the ability worked, and its limit. She told her all about the proximity and what actually happened when two telepaths joined.

"But you are not a telepath, Susan. I understand that it was scary for you."

Ivanova looked down at the carpet, she took a deep breath, she did not know if that was true. Her mother was a telepath and it was entirely possible that she, herself, was also a telepath. Though not a strong one.

"Iím not sure thatís true Talia."

"What?"

"I donít knowÖ" She looked at her, "remember I told you about my mother? And how she got inside my mind when I was little, and I learned to block her out."

Talia nodded.

"I didnít Ö I didnít tell you that sometimes it was me that got inside her mindÖ" She trailed off, not certain how Talia would take this little piece of information about her. "I think I might be a latent telepathÖ" Her last sentence was barely above a whisper.

Realization dawned on Taliaís face; her beautiful features lit up with understanding. She had never understood why Ivanova was very closed off with her. She didnít think much of it, since most people were afraid of telepaths. But the Commanderís reaction was totally unreasonable and violent at times. It was far too much fear to be indulged in for a long time, and it seemed to get to her.

She has been very afraid of me finding outÖ all these timesÖ. Talia thought sadly.

"I mean, I can sense what people are thinking sometimes, and I know the instant that someone is scanning me." Ivanova continued.

"Susan," Talia started.

"It could just be an intuition right? Like instinctÖ"

"Susan, listen to me. This means that you might be one, or you might not. OrÖ"

"Or, what?"

"Or it just meant that all your encounter with your mother had made you sensitive, thatís all."

Ivanova let out a rush of breath she did not know she had been holding. Somehow those words made her feel lighter, like something was lifted off her shoulders, something heavy. And guilt appeared in its place. She folded her hands on her lap and looked down at them.

"Iím sorry about the way I acted. I meanÖ"

"You were panicked, Susan. There is nothing to be sorry about." Talia finished for her. She understood her feelings; after all they were all pouring into her mind quite strongly.

Susan reached out and rubbed the tear stained cheek with the back of her hand; then she brought her mouth to hers and gently kissed her.

"Maybe we should take this slow." Talia offered softly. "Let you get used to the idea before we actually do anything elseÖ orÖ forget about the whole thing if you wantÖ"

"No," Susan said in a rush. "I want to, Talia. I want to make love to you, but I think youíre right, I do need some time to get used to the idea." She gave her a crooked smile. "Can you at least stay here? I want to feel you next to me when I go to sleep."

The telepath was more than happy to comply.

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They had spent the day in each otherís company as they had the previous day, though the telepath had to sit in another negotiation that day. She offered to cancel and reschedule it for some other day, Ivanova told her that it was all right, that she would just spend her time reading while she was out.

The telepath had half-heartedly agreed, and had gotten dressed in her suit. Now, Ivanova was reading the book that she hadnít had time to finish. She rarely had time by herself to do these idle things; most of the time she would be running around and trying to fix so many problems at once. Usually by the time she usually got back to her quarters she was too tired to do anything else.

She glanced up at the computer screen on the far wall; the corner of the screen displayed the time. Unconsciously she was counting the minutes for the telepath to return. Occasionally she caught herself doing it and she felt a little amused.

She looked up from her book at the hissing sound of the door opening, and found the telepath walking in, looking a little drained. She had told her that she could just walk in without announcing herself and that it would be all right. After all they were, now, lovers.

"Hello," Susan greeted her. "Are you all right? You look a little tired."

"Oh, itís nothing, Susan." The telepath came over to her and sat next to her.

Ivanova was practically sprawled out on the large couch, and she pulled herself up in a half sitting position.

"Tough clients?"

Talia let out a snort and she opened her mouth to say something when the door chime interrupted them.

"Who could that be?" Ivanova wondered briefly and called out. "Yes."

The door slid open and there was the Captain and the Security Chief standing at the entrance to her quarters. Ivanova sat up from her position.

"Come on in, Captain, Chief."

They nodded at her and walked in, then their eyes fell on the telepath. Talia was looking a little out of sorts, and pale.

"Commander, Ms. Winters." Sheridan said in a way of greeting.

"Captain," Talia replied, straightening herself a little, trying not to look like she was half-awake. "Mr. Garibaldi."

"Ms. Winters," Garibaldi replied. "Iím surprised to see you here."

"Sheís here to keep me company," Ivanova quickly answered for her. "Is there a problem?"

"No," he stammered. "No problem at all."

Then she looked back and fort between the both of them, "is there any reason you came to see me?"

"Yes, about that thing that you saw." Sheridan started, looking at her and then at Talia.

Ivanova nodded, giving him the go-ahead. After all, Talia had helped her, and then found that little piece of information buried in her mind, so she had the right to know what it was.

"Well, we didnít find anything yet." Garibaldi told her. "But I made an appointment with Ambassador GíKar and heíll be available tomorrow afternoon. He might know something."

"All right." Then, she turned to the telepath, who was now actually half-asleep. "You OK?" She asked her gently. She reached across her lap and rested a hand on the telepathís thigh.

"Just tired." Talia whispered, blinking her eyes a few times, trying to wake herself up.

Garibaldi watched the exchange, speechless. His eyes were on the Commanderís hand, where it rested on the telepathís slim thigh. He felt like someone had punched him in his stomach as he realized how far their relationship had developed. Suddenly, he wanted to leave the room as quickly and quietly as possible. There was no need for him to be here and see this.

He turned his gaze to the Captain, hoping that the man might understand what he was going through. He didnít see disapproval in his Commanding Officerís eyes, however. And he felt his heart sinking even deeper.

"Shouldnít you get some rest, Ms Winters?" Sheridan voiced his concern.

The telepath looked very pale to him right now, she seemed to be leaning heavily on the back of the couch. He saw all the little looks the Commander exchanged with her, the worry in her eyes that showed more concern than a mere friend should. The hand that rested on the slim thigh squeezed gently, the touch was not exactly what a friend would give each other.

Talia looked at him and smiled and thanked him for his concern.

"So, thereís nothing else." Sheridan said and stood up. "I think we better get going."

"Ah, yes." Garibaldi responded and quickly straightened up. "Good night, Ivanova." Then he turned to the telepath, longing in his eyes. "Good night Ms. Winters."

Ivanova walked them to the door and said good night. The look on the Security Chiefís face did not pass her. She was aware of it, she saw how his face fell when she rested a hand on the telepathís thigh, and Talia did not object to the touch, or move away.

Sorry, Michael, thereís nothing I can do, she apologized silently. If she had anything to say in this she would never want the woman that she loved to be the same as the woman that her friend had strong feelings for.

She came back to the couch after keying in the lock.

"You are tired, maybe you should take a nap." Ivanova suggested.

"I guess," Talia replied softly. "ButÖ"

"Come on."

The Commander pulled her up and led to her bedroom, Talia was thinking that she would go back to her own place, get a little sleep and maybe come back afterward. She hadnít gotten much sleep the previous night and the difficult clients had worn her out. Nothing worse than doing a Darzi negotiation when she was already tired.

Talia stood at the edge of the mattress, took her jacket off and folded it neatly.

"Here, let me put that away." Ivanova took the jacket from her and handed her a midnight blue, silk nightshirt. She hung the jacket up in the closet, next to a line of her white, long sleeved uniform shirts. She turned to look at the telepath, who was now slipping the silk shirt on.

She crawled under the sheet and Ivanova turned the lights off, so that she could sleep. But before she could step out of the room the telepath called out to her.

"Susan."

"Yes, Talia?" She stopped and turned back to her, hand resting on the sliding door.

"What were you reading before I came?"

"Oh, it was just a book I was meaning to read, but never had the time."

"Oh," the telepath said. "Could you come read here?" She patted the spot next to her, and she saw that the Commander was a little hesitant. "Please."

"All right, but I might annoy you with turning the pages though." Susan warned as she went to the living area and picked up the book from where she left it on the low coffee table.

Coming back to where the telepath was lying on her side, Ivanova climbed up to the empty spot beside her and rested on her stomach, the book held in front of her. "Are you sure I wonít bother you?"

Talia reached out and rested her hand on the small of her back, feeling the muscle ripping beneath her touch and smiled. "No, I like having you nearby."

Soon, she fell asleep and Ivanova completely forgot about her half-read book. She was too busy observing the sleeping woman beside her. She reached out with her left hand, stroking the soft cheek with the back of her hand.

A flash of image came to her, two small hands tracing the curves of high cheekbones down to her lips and chin. Flashes of images, the telepath, a green field dotted with yellow and white flowers and gentle breeze. Ivanova shook her head lightly; she closed her eyes and sighed.

She felt a little frightened as the thoughts came to her mind. If Talia hadnít been there, would she still be stuck in that place, or would she have woken up on her own anyway. While the place itself was not terrible, in fact it was quite peaceful and beautiful, but the thought of spending her life in there scared her.

Or would she even notice it at all?

Pulling herself away from the depressing thoughts she focused her attention to the woman in front of her instead. The previous night had been fairly hard on herÖ and she was sure that Talia felt it even more. She did not mean to be so narrow-minded toward her. Still, she was scared. She sighed softly; this was harder than she had originally thought. Actually, she hadnít thought about any of the problems that she might have if she ever confessed her feelings for Talia, she just sort ofÖ dove into it.

Oh well, Iíll figure this out eventually.

Ivanova rolled onto her back; the abrupt movement caused the telepath to stir. The clear blue eyes fluttered opened. Slowly, Talia pushed herself up into a half sitting position. She looked down at the Commander, who was still lying on her back.

"Sorry," said Ivanova, and she grinned sheepishly at her. "I didnít mean to wake you up."

Talia blinked a few times as she came into focus and the words registered. She took a few moments to rub her eyes, trying to look awake.

"Itís all right. I shouldnít take a nap for too long anyway." She smiled down at her newfound love.

"See," Susan pushed herself up beside her, her back leaning against the headboard. "I told you that Iíd wake you up if I stay here with you."

She stroked her cheek with the back of her hand, the smooth skin felt soft and cool at the back of her hand. She tucked the strands of blond hair behind her ear and traced the gentle curve of her cheeks down to her chin

"What time is it?" Talia asked after letting the Commander stroke her face for a few moments.

"UmÖtwenty-hundred, do you want to go out for a late dinner?"

"Sure." The telepath nodded, although not very enthusiastic.

Ivanova chuckled low in her throat; she had almost expected that reaction from Talia. The telepath seemed to have something against food for some reason, but then if one had to eat in the messhall most of the time, one would quite possibly grow to hate food.

"Come on, Iíll take you to one of my favorite places." The Commander pulled the telepath up after her.

"Oh," said, Talia as she allowed herself to be pulled up.

"You want to use the bathroom first?" Ivanova asked as she pulled out some clothes from the closet. "Or should I?"

-----------------------------------------------------------

They finally settled into the nice comfortable environment of the restaurant. The piano was playing in the background; lights were dim, creating an intimate setting. The Commander leaned back in her chair, pushing the dinner plate away from her, making room for the wineglass.

"That was good." Talia mumbled as she touched the rim of the glass to her lips; she took a few sips, then lowered it. The ruby red liquid swirled around in the glass as she set it back down.

Ivanova grinned at the comment; she was pleased that the telepath liked the place. She didnít get a chance to come to this place often, for she was normally quite busy. By the end of the day after work, she was usually too tired to do anything else, let alone getting dressed and come to a place like this.

Talia was a little surprised that Susan would bring her to this place. It was late in the evening and she didnít think that the Commander would go through all the trouble. She wasnít about to complain, though, the food was fabulous and the wine was excellent.

"I canít believe youíve never been to this place before." Ivanova started, toying with her glass.

"Well," the telepath said. "I have my favorite place as well, and most of the time I just go to some place that is a little quicker than this." She paused, "and I cook." She said shyly.

"You cook?" Ivanova sounded surprise.

Talia blushed; her cheeks flushed pink as she looked down. Ivanova thought that she looked so adorable with that shy expression on her face.

"Well, I didnít think you would have time to go through all that trouble."

Talia smiled at her. "It is the process that relaxes me, and there is something about eating the home cooked meal that is very satisfying."

Ivanova reached over, across the table and stroked the back of her gloved hand lightly. "I understand," she said. "I like that as well, though I donít like to cook." And she laughed.

The telepath chuckled and added. "Well, now you donít have to."

"Yeah, lucky me." Ivanova sipped her wine. "Do you want some dessert? The strawberry cheesecake is excellent here."

"UmÖ as wonderful as that may sound. I donít think I can eat anymore."

Ivanova nodded, "OK, then we should get going then."

The Commander lifted her hand, attracting the attention from the waiter that was standing around. From the corner of her eye she saw Talia pulling out a credit chit from her suit pocket and she stopped her as the waiter came over, Ivanova gave him her card and she gave the telepath a stern look.

"Letís go." She said and got up after her card was returned to her. She led the telepath out of the place, right before closing time.

-----------------------------------------------------------

GíKar was listening to the description that Ivanova described, he got an odd expression on his face.

The Narn Ambassador was in his quarters, the rooms were dark and decorated in Narnish, red dominating the whole room. GíKar was dressed in his traditional clothes, his gloved hands clasped together on the desktop. His pupils dilated in the dark room to such an extend that Ivanova could only see the rims of red around the large black pools.

When the Commander finished her description of the thing, or what she could recall of it with the help of Babylon 5ís resident telepath, the Narn Ambassador leaned back in his leather chair.

"Honestly, Commander Ivanova." He started in his deep voice. "I do not know what it could have been."

Disappointment showed on fine feature of the Second in Command, she was hoping that GíKar could help, even a little. Garibaldi had already gone around with her description and talked to almost every single Ambassador. Londo had been fairly cooperative, considering his usual too-formal way of doing things. She knew about the rescue of Katherine Sakai, CommanderÖ Ambassador Sinclairís girlfriend.

He knew what was there then, even though he could not explain what it was; now she was hoping that he could identify this one as well.

"Well, thank you for your help, Ambassador" said Ivanova and she got up, preparing to leave.

As the door slid open and she was about to step out, GíKar called out. "Commander Ivanova."

Ivanova turned around, she was standing between the sensors that activated the door, keeping them open.

"You cannot find them, you were just in their way."

Ivanova opened her mouth to ask an obvious question when he added: "Have a pleasant day, Commander."

She knew when she had been dismissed, and it was clear that GíKar would not give anymore information than he already had.

What the hell is that supposed to mean? We were just in their way?

Now, she could only go back to the Captain and tell him what the Narn Ambassador told her. Sheridan would be very disappointed, no doubt about that. She sighed with annoyance, there was only Delenn left for them to question. She was not sure that she would get anything more out of her either. Minbari never told anyone the whole truth, only what one needed to know and no more.

The Minbari Ambassador had left the station the day before, right after they met her in the garden. She was on Minbar right now; Ivanova hoped that she would be back soon, they really needed to talk to her. Personally, sheíd like to get this over with as soon as possible. If they could not find out what it was then, they could move on to the next problem.

Captain Sheridan will probably list this as something else to look out for.

The Commander headed toward the transporter tube, she needed to be in C&C. Actually, she did not have to talk to GíKar directly. The Security Chief had been doing that since the idea was suggested, but she had thought that the Narn Ambassador actually knew something, and she wanted to hear it first hand. Now it had proven itself to be just a waste of time.

However, she still wanted to talk to Delenn herself.

-----------------------------------------------------------

"So, how did it go, Commander?"

Sheridan looked up from a stack of transparencies in front of him as Ivanova stepped through the door of his office. He waited for the answer as his Executive Officer crossed the distance between the entrance and the chair in front of his desk.

He lifted his eyebrows up high as she sank into the chair and sighed. Definitely not good, he thought with some amusement.

"So?" He prompted.

"He didnít know what it was." She replied, the frown on her face just getting deeper. "He sat there, listened to me talking and then just like that, he told me he didnít know what it was."

"Take it easy, Commander." Sheridan said calmly. He knew what her temper was like, having working with her for quite some time before she was transferred from Io. "Maybe no one knows what it was, maybe it was something that no one knows exists."

"I doubt that." Ivanova snorted.

"You think he knew what it was?"

She stared at him for a moment and then decided to tell him what the Narn Ambassador told her just before she stepped through his door on her way out.

"He said that we cannot find them, that we just happened to be in their way."

"So, you think that he has an idea as to what it was that hit the squadron." He stated.

"Yeah, or at the very least, he has heard of them before."

Sheridan leaned back into his leather chair, crossing his arms over his chest. His eyes narrowed as he mused over the course of action that they should be taking next.

"Well, did Garibaldi get anything from the other Ambassadors?" He asked finally, having exhausted his other ideas. They couldnít send another squadron out there to find it, whatever it was. He would not risk sending anyone out there if the most possible outcome was destruction and loss of lives.

"Well, thereís Ambassador Delenn."

Sheridanís head snapped up at the mention of the name. "What about her?"

Ivanova lifted an eyebrow in wry amusement, she knew that something was going on between the two, his reaction only confirmed the suspicion.

"Sheís still on Minbar and we havenít met with her yet. Garibaldi thinks she might know something." She explained to him, "but then Minbari never tell you the whole truth." She shrugged.

"Iíll let Garibaldi talk to her when she gets back."

"No, Iíll talk to her myself." Ivanova shook her head. "I need to ask her about some other things, too."

"All right," the Captain said finally. "If thereís nothing else. Dismissed Commander."

"Captain." Ivanova gave him a nod and left.

Sheridan wondered what the Commander could possibly want to talk to the Minbari about.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Ivanova was debating in her head if she should go find the Security Chief and tell him about the information that she got from GíKar, which was nothing. Then, she decided that it could wait, Garibaldi would already be in the Captainís office if he really wanted to know about it.

She replayed the events from the previous evening in her head. The way her friend looked when he noticed her gestures toward the telepath, and the way Winters did not object to those overly personal touches. She assumed that Garibaldi might still be a little resentful over that. Ivanova knew that she needed to explain the situation to him.

She would not lie to him, or try to deceive him in any way, though. When she told him that she did not know what it was that was between her and Winters, she was telling the truth. She could not tell him what she thought it was, because she didnít know if Talia was feeling the same thing as she did. Why make things complicated when she didnít have to. Now, she knew, but she couldnít explain it to anyone else.

How could she, when she couldnít even explain to herself?

She looked up when a massive figure of exotic fabric came onto her path. Kosh. They had requested his time to talk to him, but he did not respond, and as usual, it meant that the Vorlon Ambassador was not going to talk to them. The Vorlon came to stop in front of her, the lights on his chest plate flickering as he spoke.

"Commander Ivanova."

"Ambassador," Ivanova gave him a nod. "May I help you?" She asked politely.

The headgear inclined toward her, Ivanovaís eyes were on the translator as the lights flickered.

"Yes," he said.

Her head snapped up from where she was looking, her brows lifted as she repeated after him, "yes?"

"Shadows in the past, it is not the time."

Then the massive figure moved away down the corridor. Leaving the confused Commander to stand by herself in the middle of the hallway.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" She muttered, asking no one in particular, for there was no one around her at the moment. Even if there was someone, she didnít think they would understand what Kosh was saying to her either.

She filed that one away for future reference, tucked away with the rest of those weird conversations that she had had on this job.

"God, this has got to be the weirdest conversation yet."

Finally, she shook her head and continued on her way.

-----------------------------------------------------------

"Did he tell you anything?"

"No," Ivanova shook her head as she swallowed her food. "I think he knew something, but he wouldnít tell."

"What are you going to do now?" Her companion asked, putting the fork down and leaning back in her chair.

The Commander shrugged. "Thereís Delenn, she might tell me something." Then she looked up and gave the telepath a smile. "Why are you so worried?", she asked her gently.

"I donít know, I couldnít help rememberingÖ" She trailed off.

Ivanova reached across the table, touched the gloved hand and took it in a warm grip. "Hey." She said softly. "You saved me."

Talia gave her a small, gentle smile. Another flash of images came to her mind; Ivanova closed her eyes briefly, feeling a little disoriented.

"Susan," Talia called her. "Susan, are you all right?"

Ivanova looked up, "Iím OK," she murmured, shaking her head slightly, trying to get rid of the feeling. "Just a little dizzy, nothing to worry about."

The telepath was looking a little more than just a bit worried now. Her assuring words did not have the desired effect, Ivanova thought.

"Maybe you should get some rest then," Talia suggested. "Youíve been running around all day, and it was only your first day back to work afterÖ after being hospitalized."

Ivanova squeezed her hand gently, reassuringly. "Hey, Iím all right. Iím a Russian, this wonít kill me." She said and added the last part with her usual humor. "Donít worry about it."

Talia gave her a smile, which Ivanova quickly returned in kind. She could tell that the telepath was not actually convinced, but she dropped the subject because she did not want to bother her anymore. They continued to dine in comfortable silence.

-----------------------------------------------------------

"TaliaÖ"

"Yes?"

"Do you think theyíll figure this out? Us, I mean."

The telepath looked up from where she was staring for the last few minutes; she raised her eye up to the bright blue eyes that were looking at her. She felt a gentle touch on her head, then fingers running through her hair.

After dinner they came back here and spent their time talking and cuddling. They were quite happy, even with the confusion and questions that hung about in the background Questions that did not stem from their budding relationship, however. Most were caused by the situation that the command staff found themselves in. The questions that seemingly had no answer.

Talia lifted her head from where it was resting for the last hour or so, on the Commanderís arm, her perfectly curved eyebrows raised up slightly.

"Do you what them to know about us?" She queried.

Ivanova smiled at her as she tucked a strand of blond hair behind one delicate ear, then she caressed it with her thumb and forefinger.

"Theyíll find out, Talia. Sooner or later they will find out."

"Do you think theyíll have a problem? You being with meÖ"

Ivanova looked into her eyes and gave her another smile, a half grin. "Who caresÖ" She told her.

Talia laid her head back down and threw her arm over her chest. She knew that Ivanova did indeed care about what her friends would think. Though she very much doubted that their opinion would be an influence on her. Her new love seemed to be very much living her own life.

The telepath reached underneath the nightshirt and gently stroked her back; the soothing gesture soon relaxed her. Ivanova closed her eyes, she didnít even know that she was tense until the soothing hand stroking her back. She pulled the lithe body closer to her, infinitely closer.

"Garibaldi will be heartbroken." Ivanova murmured as she placed a kiss at the tip of her nose. "Heís really got it bad for you."

"So, Iíve noticed." Talia replied, apparently not caring much. "Iíve tried to let him know that Iím not interested, but he just doesnít seem to get it."

"Well, thatís Garibaldi, he doesnít give up."

Talia buried her face in the nook of her broad shoulder, even through the silky fabric Ivanova could feel the kiss that the telepath placed there.

"I just wish that he would understand. That I just want to be friends, nothing more."

Susan simply kissed the top of her head, stroking her hair. Flashes of images came to her, a field, a gentle breeze, and TaliaÖ She didnít really understand what all that meant. She knew one thing, though, something, or someone tied them together.

They were meant to be together.

She wanted so much to be with her, emotionally, physically. She wanted their relationship to be complete, if only she could get over her own fearsÖ She was lost in her own thoughts, just long enough for the telepath to worry about her.

"Are you all right?" She asked finally, after waiting for a while. She sensed the conflict in the Commanderís mind, the content of the conflict was not clear to her. She was being very careful not to read into her thoughts. She felt them, of course, being this close to a person made her unable to stop her talent from working. And when she was emotionally tied to the person her talent seemed to be stronger.

"I justÖ" Susan trailed off. "IÖ I want to be with you."

Talia looked up; "you are with me." She told her firmly.

"No, I meanÖ I want youÖ I want to make love to youÖ"

"Öbut youíre still afraid." The telepath finished for her.

Ivanova bent her head, feeling a little ashamed at her own irrational behavior.

"We will, Susan." Talia whispered in her ear softly, her deep, smoky voice was like a soft caress. "We will make love when you are ready."

Ivanova sighed softly; she bent her head, her forehead touching the telepathís. Looking into the deep blue eyes. "Thank you," she said. "For being patient with me."

Talia smiled at her, her full, lush lips curled up at the corners, her soft smile reaching her eyes and making them sparkle. That little smile set the Commanderís heart pounding, threatening to jump out of her chest. And she kissed her. The telepath reciprocated the kiss, caressing the back of her neck with one hand, while she rested the other at the warm hollow of the Commanderís throat, the tip of her finger touching at her pulse point, feeling the flutters of her frantic heartbeat.

Ivanova closed her eyes tight, feeling the world around them narrowed down to the feel of the soft lips that touched hers, the warmth in her arms, the sweet scent of her beautiful lover. Then Talia ran the tip of her tongue along her upper lip; the touch sent her head spinning.

Unconsciously, she ran her hand down to the small of Taliaís back, she stilled for a moment and then moved her hand downward, reaching the hem of her nightshirt and slipped it underneath the silky material. She ran her hand over the slim thigh, and up to her buttocks. The only thing that prevented her from feeling the firm globes with her palm were the silk panties that she wore.

Her hand moved up higher now, caressing the soft skin, leaving a trail of fire in its wake. Her lips curled into a small grin as she felt the soft body in her arms shiver. She felt the telepath press up against her even more tightly, and she, in turn, tightened her hold. She wanted so much to make love to her, but that little notion at the back of her mind kept popping up and prevented her to do just that.

ĎTell No One, Trust No Oneí Her mother used to tell her that when she was not under the influence of the sleeper drug. It had served her quite well for over twenty years, but right nowÖ Right now she just wanted to forget about that notion, all she wanted was to make love to her, to make love to the woman in her arms.

Ivanova felt Talia pull away slightly and she realized that her body must have shown what she was thinking, or most likely, she must have picked up the emotions.

"TaliaÖ"

"Itís all right," she kissed her again. "You are not ready."

"Iím sorry." Ivanova murmured apologetically. "Iím such a pain in the ass, I know."

The remark rewarded her with a deep chuckle from Talia.

-----------------------------------------------------------

"So, Ambassador Delenn coming back today, right?" Sheridan asked his Executive Officer as he stood at his console, looking through a stack of transparencies.

"Yes," Ivanova looked up from her own console. "Her transporter listed here," she indicated at the schedule padd in her hand. "Sheíll arrive here at thirteen-hundred."

Sheridan dropped the transparencies on the desk and came to her. He tugged his uniform jacket slightly, smoothing it down, his gold bar glinted in the dim lights. Ivanova looked up from her work, waiting for him to say something. He came to stop next to her, and leaned down.

"So, did youÖ"

"I requested her time with Lennier, he said that he would arrange it for me as soon as she gets her rest and settle in."

"Well, you are more prepare than I thought." Sheridan said in approval and walked away.

"More prepare than you thought?" Ivanova queried. "What the hell is that suppose to mean? That Iím not prepare?" She said after him, the only answer sheíd got was the laughter from her Commanding Officer as he disappeared out the door.

Every eye in C&C turned to her as soon as she said that out loud. The look of confusion and discrete amusement directed at the Second in Command.

"You better take your eyes elsewhere if you still want to keep them." She hissed as she felt her subordinates staring at her.

The reaction was immediate as all of them suddenly more interested in their own consoles and busily tapped in the commands needed to get the jobs done.

A smirk appeared on the Commanderís face, her eyes swept across the room, looking for anyone that would still be staring at her, which there was none. She had been fairly frustrated when she left for work this morning; somehow she wasnít surprise at the level of understanding the telepath displayed, though she should be. She knew that she, herself would be mad as hell if someone initiated things like that with her and suddenly pulled away, no matter how good the reason for doing so.

The breakfast in messhall had been nothing less than annoying, Garibaldi gave her the suspicious look all morning, if she didnít know better she would say that he was bitching about something. Then, again he was probably doing just that to her, she knew that if she was in his position she would. Or maybe not.

She would never do that to her friend, to be interested in the same woman, it was all depended on the middle person. It was no oneís fault if the woman picked on over the other. She thought that she would probably be a sport about it.

Sighing quietly to herself, she hoped that Garibaldi would not take this so personally. It would hurt their friendships, or worse, their working relationships, and she did not want that to happen, ever. Then, she thought back of how the telepath lay in her arms, pressing against her body and another smile crept upon her face. She couldnít get over how soft the body felt in her embrace, how perfectly their bodies fitted together.

When she woke up and found that body stayed in the same position, the tall, slim body, which was the telepath curled up like a child in her arms, beautiful face relaxed. She could see the innocence shone through, the innocence that usually masked by the professionalism and the cool manner. She had never felt so lucky like she did that moment. Unlike any other morning that she would get up and get dress as quick as she could, she was willing to let the universe gone by if only she could watching her lover for another moment longer.

She had never felt so at peace.

Suddenly she felt something pulling her out of her train of thoughts, then she realized it was the warning sound of the opening vortex. Quickly, she stood up and demanded the information from her crew.

"Jumpgateís opening, the Centauri cargo liner is coming through." Lt. Corwin announced to the Commander.

"Good," she said. "On time for change." She inputted the necessary clearance for the liner cargo to dock.

"Babylon control to Centauri cargo liner, Docking by 6 is clear for dock."

"Thank you Babylon control." Came back the short response.

Ivanova grinned, at least someone had a nice manner for once.

A few minutes later as the Commander settled back into her seat a sound from the captain of the cargo liner came back through the communication system.

"Babylon control, this is the cargo liner."

"Is there a problem?" She asked, puzzled.

"Thereís a Narn Transport next to us!" He shouted through the communication system. "We demand a new docking bay."

The Commander roller her eyes in respond to that demand. And she thought that thing was going to go nicely once for change, now she knew it was just a futile wish. The fact that she felt pretty good in the morning was not the indication of what to come during the day.

Canít they just get along, for once in the lifetime? She thought irritably.

"Yes," she said through gritted teeth. "You can certainly park next to the Fusion reactor." She hissed.

There was no answer from the annoying captain since everyone knew what parking next to fusion reactor could lead to and from the serious tone from the Commander, they could guess that he understood what she meant.

"If thereís nothing else. Babylon control out!" She shut off the communication.

"What a pain in the ass." Ivanova muttered to herself.

-----------------------------------------------------------

The messhall was, as usual, busy. Ivanova holding a tray in her hands, her eyes swept the room for some empty tables. And in the middle of the crowd she saw the Security Chief sitting by himself at the table in the corner. There was no other empty table at the moment, so she headed toward him.

"Garibaldi."

The Security Chief looked up from his meal. He hadnít had much appetite lately. He couldnít believe, after all the disappointment he went through with everything else in life, now the only thing that could make his day seem not so dull had turned out to be another disappointment.

From the first moment he saw the stationís commercial telepath he knew that she was the woman of his dream. Even with the cold manner in which she regarded him, he still thought that he got a shot in this. Mostly because she did not seem to be interest in anyone on the station, he thought he knew that for a certain.

Most people afraid of telepaths and the telepaths themselves seemed to be keeping away from people. As little as he knew about telepaths and how telepathic abilities work he understood that being with a lot of people while you could hear them talked as well as what they thought had got to be the most scariest thing anyone could ever face.

With that he thought he understood why Talia Winters was so reluctant to get into a relationship with him. He felt bad for her when Ivanova was so clearly did not want to talk to her. He wanted to be friend with her first, and he knew that he could work his way up from there. NowÖ

Now he knew why she was so reluctant with him, why she always declined his offers to go out for dinner, or anything else for that matter. Thought back to all the encounters he had with Winters, every time something happened, every time he mentioned Ivanova the telepath seemed to be very interested in what he had to say, and as for the restÖ she couldnít care less.

"Commander." He greeted with the manner less than enthusiastic.

Ivanova gave him the usual grim smile, which was characteristic to her. "The seat taken?"

"No," he said quickly. "Have a seat."

He waited until she settled in her seat and picked up the fork to speak. "So, the talk with GíKar was useless, huh?"

"Yeah, he wasnít cooperating, but Iím sure he knew something."

"Thatís GíKar." Garibaldi said knowingly. He went around long enough and often enough to know all the Ambassadors personally, just like other command staffs. Though, Ivanova was more reserve than he was about these things, after all she couldnít go into those clubs with exotic dance like Londo, and GíKar seemed to like without raising a few eyebrows in the process.

"So, how are things between you and Ms. Winters?" He asked suddenly, decided that if there were something that going on he would like to know now and except it. It seemed that he was trying to catch the last straw.

Ivanovaís head snapped up at the question, she looked at him for a moment. He was earnest and clearly wanted to know, needed to know the truth. She decided that this was as good time as any to tell him.

"Weíre fine, Michael." She told him. "Excellent in fact."

"Does that mean that I donít have to worry about you throwing Ms. Winters out of the airlock?" He joked, then laughed, though his laughter sounded shallow.

"No, I can assure you that the patrol around every airlock is not necessary."

He nodded and dark cloud came over his face. "Is this mean that I donít got a chance?"

Ivanova saw his face fell, she felt terrible about this, but there was nothing she could do, she knew that words of comfort was not her strongest point, words of discouragement was more like it.

"Hey, for what it worth, Iím sorry." She said, trying to put as much compassion into her tone as she could.

Michael Garibaldi looked down at his food for a long moment. He felt jealousy came over him for a moment, then he calmed himself down, it wasnít her fault, he knew it as well as anyone. It was his fault really; that he didnít acknowledge all the signs that was so clear to him.

"No, it wasnít your fault, but damn it, Susan why didnít she tell me?" He said, the last part was more to himself. "She couldíve just told me that herself."

Ivanova was a little startled at the out bust. "Hey! She didnít want to hurt your feelings." She retorted. "And you know how damn persistence you, yourself are. Donít blame her for that."

He stared at her, as if he hadnít seen her before in his life, then he looked down after a long moment. "SorryÖ" He apologized. "Actually, now, when I come to think about it, she did everything short of said it out loud to me to let me know that she wasnít interested." He kept his eyes on the tray until he thought he could bear looking at her, then he looked up. "And I can see that she makes you happy, Susan. If thereís anyone deserve to be happy, itís you." He said sincerely.

"Thanks, Michael." She smiled at him, the most radiate smile he could remember seeing from her. "She said she wants to be friend with you, though."

"Iíll settle for that." He said finally, then a wicked grin came over his face. "Now, I can include her into the little prank I had planned for you."

The startled look came over her face and he laughed; a full belly laugh that made everyone in the room turned to look at them.

"What?" She exclaimed loudly. "You have got to be kidding, she would never go for it."

It took him a minute to calm down enough to talk to her.

"Weíll see Commander Susan Ivanova." He told her. "Weíll see."

She frowned at him, then down at her food. This stating to scare her, but then she shook the thought away as she thought of Talia. The telepath would never do anything like that, she assured herself with absolute certainty. In the mean time even if Talia didnít agree to help him with his plan did not mean that Garibaldi would not do it. She had fell victim to his pranks once or twice, mostly in the morning. She was rarely at her best in the morning, especially when she had a rough night.

Even with that little threat he made out of his old wicked-self, she felt relieved, he had taken it very well, considered how much effort he had put into following Talia around, trying to talk to her, trying to ask her out to dinner.

She was glad that this conversation hadnít turned out to be a total disaster as she thought it would.

-----------------------------------------------------------

The afternoon had turned out to be as busy as always, the Minbari transporter came back on time and that was six hours ago. She hadnít heard anything about her request yet. She hoped that she would get the answer as to when she could talk to the Ambassador by tomorrow afternoon at the very least.

Even with everything that went wrong or plain difficult she still feeling fairly good. The talk with Garibaldi had been a little too soon than she had anticipated but it went well, she couldnít wait to tell Talia about it. Her lover would be happy, she thought, to know that her friend did not have a problem with them being together.

Now, if they could only figure that one question that had been hung above her head for the past week or so, she could really say that she was happy. And then she could put it all behind her, and continued on with the rest of her life.

She came to stop in front of her quarters, fishing the identicard out of her pocket she inserted it into the slot. The line of lights at the slot lit up as the computer gave her the clearance to enter she pulled it out. The door gave out a signal and she heard footsteps coming down the corridor.

She did not need to turn to know whom it was coming toward her. The sweet smelling was pleasant and familiar to her; she could identify that scent even in her sleep.

It was Talia.

Ivanova stepped in between the sensors that activate the door and waited. She didnít have to wait long as the telepath rounded the corner, her tall, slim figure moved gracefully down the empty corridor. She took in the sight, her eyes swept up slow from those feet in black heels, her slim, long legs clad in black stocking that seemed to run on forever up to the gentle curve of her hips and slim waist. Her dark color suit was conservative and appropriated for the kind of work she had.

Beautiful, she thought as the woman came closer to her.

Taliaís beautiful face broke out into a bright smile as she saw the Commander stood at the door, waiting for her. She did not want to look too eager but couldnít help herself as she felt her feet moved faster and her casual stride turned into a run. She was close enough to feel the thoughts that Ivanova was thinking, and her cheek flushed, feeling embarrassed and a little pleased.

"Hi," Ivanova greeted, countered her lover bright smile with one of her own.

"Hi."

The telepath stepped inside and Ivanova followed. Once they stood inside the dark quarters Ivanova called for lights and her whole quarters lit up with the exception of her bedroom area. She saw Talia blinked as her eyes adjusting and she pulled her into an intimate embrace.

The telepath worked her hands into the opened jacket; she wrapped both arms around her torso and felt the strong arms holding her tight. A hand came up to the back of her head caressed her hair. Talia rested her cheek against the broad shoulder.

"Did you have a good day?" Talia asked, not letting go.

"NoÖ everybodyís a lunatic. I swear there are days that I wouldnít mind seeing them floating outside the airlocks."

Ivanova kissed her cheek and let go of her. She took her jacket off and hung it up in her closet. Her top button undone and sleeves rolled up to her elbow, she pulled out a bottle of red wine. Talia settle on the high stool at the counter, watching her.

"I know you like white better, but Iím out." Ivanova said apologetically. "Unless you want vodka instead."

She laughed as she saw Talia made a face.

"I donít think you want me running around drunk." The telepath told her firmly.

Ivanova went quiet as she tried to open the bottle. The cork came out with a loud pop, she put the slender bottle on the counter top and picked up two wineglasses.

"UmÖ I donít know." She said as she poured the ruby red liquid in the crystal glasses. "It might be fun." She added and handed a glass to her companion.

"Of course," Talia quipped, holding the glass in her gloved hands.

Ivanova came around the counter and took another stool beside her; she took the telepathís gloved hand in her own. "Iím just kidding." She murmured and took the slim wrist in a gentle grip, slowly the Commander pulled each finger loose until the Psi-dampening glove came off. She placed the black leather glove on the counter top and she repeated the same process with the other hand.

Talia watched her, feeling her breath caught in her chest at the soft expression on the Commanderís face. Her hands were slightly damped from being confined for too long.

"So?" Ivanova turned to pick up her glass. After taking a few sips she set it back down and looked at the telepath in the eyes. "What would mí lady like to do this evening?"

Talia taking a sip from her own glass, her eyebrows furrowed slightly. There were so many things she would like to do with Susan, too many, she didnít know what to choose.

"UmÖ" She bit her lower lip gently. "I donít know, what would you like to do?"

"Are you sure you want me to choose?" Ivanova queried teasingly, a wicked smile appeared on her face and Talia knew that the Commander had something in mind, something that she might not like.

"No, baseball. I had enough of that." She told her firmly.

"AhÖ" Ivanova whined softly, "spoilsport."

Talia giggled softly, "Iíll settle for a dinner under candlelight and a dance."

Ivanova stood up and salute smartly. "Aye, aye maíam." She said and they both broke out into a hysterical laughter.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Garibaldi stepped into his dark quarters. "Lights"

The computer gave out a signal and the room lit up, he stood at the foot of his bed, looking at the image of Daffy Duck he hung on the wall. His favorite cartoon character looked irritatingly cheerful at the moment. He took off his jacket and threw it over the couch.

This, he thought. Had got to be the worse day of my life.

After the conversation with Ivanova he sat there in the messhall long after the Commander left. He meant what he said when he told her that she deserved to be happy. She was his friend, one of not so many that he had, he wanted her to be happy. But Talia Winters. He suspected that everyone knew that he was interested in her, even Ivanova.

He didnít think that Ivanova would ever be the one that he had to compete with. He didnít even know that Ivanova interested in the woman as well as men. She had always reacted strongly when it came to telepaths and Psi-Corps, but he thought that it was all because of hatred. It probably was, as far as he knew.

He also knew that the antagonistic relationship that the pair had for over a year had turned a little more friendly after that incident with the telepath, Alisa Beldon. The two had crashed over the future of the girl and at the end she had chosen to go with the Minbari, and afterward they were able to talk things through and befriend.

Ivanova reactions to that were still reluctant, however, he would never thought that they could get together like this. Actually when he came to think about it, they really came close over the recent incident. If that did not happen he very much doubt Ivanova would get over her fear, or whatever it was that she had in her mind about the stationís resident telepath and get closer to her.

He stubbornly wished it never happened, and Talia Winters would still be in his reach. It did not occur to him that even if the accident did not happen they would still get together sooner or later. It was clear to whomever who cared to look that they had deep feelings for each other.

The Security Chief sat heavily on the mattress; he looked around his small quarters gloomily. Wondering when would he had a chance in normal life like other people. All his life everything had turned out to be a failure, he was a drunk on Mars and with that when Sinclair asked him to take this job he quickly accepted the offer, figured that he had something to prove. And his stubbornness caused him his girlfriend, Liz.

He wondered what happened to her now. What would she be doing at this moment. He regretted what he said to her, wanted to call her, but every time he thought about it he couldnít, he didnít have the courage to do it. Then, he figured that she moved on, no point of trying to make a contact.

"Damn! If only she gives me a chance." He muttered bitterly.

Tried as he might, he couldnít resign to the thought that it wasnít meant to be, between him and Talia Winters. He fell back on the firm mattress, turning his head to look around his living quarters. It was small, like other standard crew quarters with one room and one bathroom. It wasnít exactly tidied but it wasnít messy either, which was more than what he could say about other people he knew.

He let his thoughts wandered and he got a sudden urge for a drink. When he realized what he craved he clamped down on the thought, hard. He swore to himself that he would not touch another glass of alcohol and he would not, he remembered what it did to him, what happened to his job, his friends and he wasnít going to go back there again.

Never againÖ

He groaned out loud as he felt the tension in her neck. He would rather get into a fight than having to face this kind of emotional problem.

After a long while he told himself to accept it, told himself that there was nothing he could do to change what happened between Ivanova and Talia.

He didnít like it, but that did not mean anything.

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Ivanova held her companionís lithe form in her arms, they swayed together with the music that was playing. With her wearing a pair of boots and the telepath in a pair of heels, their height were the same, for Ivanova was slightly taller than Talia.

Talia closed her eyes, enjoyed the feeling of the warm body, strong arms holding her. She rested her chin on one broad shoulder. Ivanova was nuzzling her shimmering blond hair and occasionally kissed her temple. She could vaguely feel the attentions that they both got from other patrons in the room some were curios, some were envied.

But she didnít careÖ

Forever love, forever dream
Kono mama soba ni ite
Yoake ni furueru kokoro wo dakishimete
Ah, will you stay with me
Kaze ga sugisaru made
Moudare yori mo soba niÖ

The telepath smiled as the singer sang, his voice deep and smooth. She didnít know the language well, but she could easily translate from his thoughts, as they focused on the lyric of the song. She loved the sound of piano and violin vibrating in the air. And her companion was making it all the more precious memory to remember.

They had spent their evening exactly as she wanted, dinner, candlelight, dancing. Talia tightened her hold about the Commanderís neck as she worked one hand into the thick mat of chestnut brown hair, she couldnít feel the silky texture through her glove, which was one thing she regretted.

"You are so beautiful," Ivanova whispered in her ear and placed a soft kiss there.

She, too, could feel the eyes from other people around them centered on her beautiful companion and herself. She was certain that if she could feel it, Talia could feel it even more, after all, she was a telepath. Ivanova allowed herself to forget about everything else, not her station, not her friends, not what would happen in the future. She focused all her thoughts on this, only this, this moment in time, when she could simply be happy.

Forever love, forever dream
Kore ijou arukenai
Oh, tell me why, oh, tell me true
Oshiete ikiru imi wo
Forever love, forever dream
Afureru namida no naka
Kagayaku kisetsu ga eien ni kawaru made
Forever loveÖ

The song finally ended and the pair reluctantly broke apart and drifted back to their table. Ivanova held the gloved hand in a warm grip, she wished that she could touch her hand without them, but the rules were there, and Talia respected them. It was not as much for normal as for herself, she didnít want to accidentally scanning anyone, she didnít want to know what they were thinking.

Ivanova sat down in her seat and picked up her wineglass. She smiled at the delighted expression on the telepathís face, her deep blue eyes sparkling, reflecting the candlelight. As she gazed deep into them, she felt as if she had fallen into a deep pool, comfortable and warm.

If only I could dive into them, she thought.

Her fascination was obvious as the telepath looked at her, a delighted smile turned into a shy one. She felt the heat rising up to her cheeks and she looked down at the dark red liquid in her crystal glass. Taking a sip, she stared back into those piecing blue eyes, remembering the first day they met, and how she had fallen for her, hard. After all that aggravating and less than successful encounters, finally, she was right where she wanted to be.

Right here, right now, with herÖ

Their meal had long finished, but they were too busy looking at each other to care, the Commander reached out and covered the gloved hand with her strong grip. They held hand like that until the last of the music died down, and it was time for them to go back, to leave the place.

-----------------------------------------------------------

"Thank you for the lovely evening."

The telepath leaned over and kissed her softly, slowly, without any urgency.

"You are welcomeÖ" Ivanova murmured against the soft lips. "I love spending time with you."

"And I love spending time with you." Talia echoed, smiling.

She pulled the Commander into her cabin after her. The small quarters were as tidied as ever, considered she didnít have enough time to take care of it lately. They both kicked off their shoes and laughing as they noticed the other doing the same.

"I talked to Garibaldi earlier today." Ivanova started, out of nowhere.

"Really? What were you talking about?" Talia asked, walking over to the couch, which set against on side of the room.

"Well, he asked about us and I told him that we are together." Ivanova explained further.

The telepath winced as she sat down on the couch. She tucked one leg up, under her knee. "He didnít take it too hard I hope."

Ivanova followed her and sat down, her brows furrowed as she recalled her friendís reactions to that piece of information he asked for. He was upset but not overly so that she would have to be worry, he made a joke afterward, which should be a good sign.

"NoÖ he looked all right to me." She shook her head finally.

"Oh," said, Talia and she leaned back against the backrest of the couch, she pulled the Psi-dampening gloves off. Ivanova took that chance to lay her head down on her lap and popped her feet up on the far side armrest.

The telepath looked down at her with an adoring gaze, "comfortable?" A smiled adorned her face and rested a hand on her chest, feeling it rose and fell with each breath she took.

"Yes," the Commander replied, "very."

"Good, I would hate to think that you are not comfortable." Talia told her with a smile, she leaned over and put the leather gloves on the low coffee table.

The telepath absently stroke the thick mat of hair, the silky texture felt good with her bare hand.

"Talia," Ivanova started after a long moment.

"Yes?"

Ivanova looked right in her eyes, a puzzle expression on her face. That day that they encountered Delenn in the Zen garden, she saw the Ambassadorís expression regarded their proximity and she knew that something was up, but she couldnít really put her finger on it.

"DoesÖ how do I put thisÖ" She muttered, unsure of how she could say that the telepath wouldnít get confuse with her. "That day in the garden, after we went to the field, I saw the way Delennn looked at us and I couldíve sworn that she knew something."

Talia smiled down at her, fingers traced a dimple on her chin gently. "Maybe she does."

Ivanova raised a thick, dark eyebrow at her. She blinked a few times, not quite understand how the Minbari Ambassador who could not understand humanís emotions and reactions at the best of time knew what was going on between them even before her friends did.

"I think she knows more about humanís feelings than she let on, Susan."

"You think so?" Ivanova asked, her eyebrows rose high on her forehead. "And how would you know that?"

Talia gave her a small, mischievous grin and she bent down until her face was mere inches away from her. The Commander felt her heart pounding in her chest; she could feel the soft breath against her cheek, the silky, golden blond hair about her face and brushing her skin.

"Ah," Talia said. "I work with her at one time or another, you see. I pick a few things up."

Ivanova quirked her eyebrow, she wasnít sure that she actually believe what Talia was saying. Those mischievous glints in her eyes were telling her that the telepath actually meant something else, then the thought totally lost as Talia kissed her, taking her breath away.

A few moments later the telepath released her; a smile touched her lips, which brought the Commanderís attention to focus on her mouth, its color and soft texture fascinated her. She wondered if there was anything about the telepath that did not fascinate or captivate her.

Talia Winters, she thought, not for the first time. Is the most beautiful woman Iíve ever or will ever seen on this side of the galaxy.

She reached up and placed a hand on the back of her neck, and delicately pulled her head down, her impossibly soft lips pressed against her. She felt the tip of her tongue flicked over her lower lip then invaded her mouth. They were in a somewhat awkward position, but neither noticed, nor cared.

They broke apart, came up for air a few long moments later. The telepath had a wicked smile on her beautiful feature while the Commander was simplyÖ speechless. She wanted to do more, infinitely more than just a few kisses and caresses, but the incident from the previous night and even the night before that made her think twice. She didnít want to hurt Taliaís feelings by initiated the physical intimacy again and pulled out at the last minuteÖ again.

"I think we should slow down." Talia decided for her, finally.

Ivanova nodded in agreement, she didnít trust her voice to speak, or any of her wise comments. They looked at each other for a long moment, she was surprised that Talia didnít seem to be dismay at her indecision.

"Itís late." She murmured, "maybe we should get clean up and go to bed." But she didnít make any move indicate that she would get up anytime soon.

Talia grinned with amusement swirled inside of her. The Commanderís suggestion was sounded and logical, but the woman didnít seem to want to do what she had just suggested. So, she shoved her off of her lap playfully.

"Then, you should get up."

"Hey!"

With quick reflex, Ivanova rolled over and got her feet under her on time for her not to fell face first onto the carpet floor. She stood up and wiggled her index finger at her lover warningly. Talia only laughed and headed toward the small bathroom unperturbed.

-----------------------------------------------------------

"Thank you for seeing me, Ambassador." Ivanova started as she walked inside the Minbari Ambassadorís quarters, not for the first time. She had been here before, once or twice. The first time after Delennís transition. Minbari had no concept of hair, or how to take care of it and she called on the Second in Command of the station to help her with this seemingly personal issue.

Ivanova came in to find the Ambassador battling with her own, newly grown hair. She couldnít explain how embarrassed she was to find herself in that position. She wasnít going to help her at first, but after a few pleading comments, she eventually did.

"Commander," Delenn said, obvious delight showing on her exotic features. Her dark, shiny hair tumbled down her shoulders and back, while the Minbari bone-ceases still adorned her head like a crown.

"Please, sit." She gestured at the couch and Ivanova sat down.

"Iím sorry to have to bother you, but we need a few things answered and I thought that you might be able to help us." The Commander said, not bothering to beat around the bush.

Delenn stood at the small kitchenette, pouring some sort of tea into two mugs. She was quiet for a moment as she concentrated on the task. Then, she picked up the mugs and came over to the couch, setting them down on the low coffee table.

Ivanova waited until the Ambassador sat in the empty chair. She looked at the drink curiously.

"Itís completely safe for human physiology, Commander Ivanova." She told her, "you do not have to be worried."

"Well," Ivanova mumbled and took a sip, just to be polite. She was a little surprised to find its taste was quite pleasant; bland and sweet.

"So, what is this that you wanted my help with?"

"Well, Iím sure youíve heard from Lennier or the other Ambassadors about the incident that happened a few weeks ago in Sector 305. We are trying to find out what it was."

Delenn stared at her for a moment longer than necessary and looked down at her tea. She obviously knew something, but was still trying to decide if she should tell her or not. There were still things that the younger races such as humans should not know about, and she wasnít at the liberty to say anything about it. But there was something that would be very helpful to have them know when the time came.

She knew that it would not be long before they had to tell the humans about what was to come. Since the last war, the Shadowís activities had been fairly quiet, but it would not be long before that would change. When that happened they would need the help from younger races in the war. The last war.

"Yes, I heard." Delenn said finally. "Whom have you been talking to so far, Commander?"

"Virtually every single Ambassador on this station." Ivanova replied, frustration quite clear in her voice. All their efforts so far had been wasted, for most of them did not know anything, and those that they expected to know, or had some idea to their answer, were refusing to say anything about it.

"And none of them have been very cooperative." She added.

"Ah," was all Delenn said and she went quiet.

"So?" Ivanova prompted.

"Commander," Delenn started not quite sure if she should give her any information. It was true that she had told Captain Sheridan about the Shadows, but that was because he was on the verge of forcing Morden to speak of them, and then their plan would all be in vain. "I cannot confirm that what you saw out there and what I am about to tell you is the same thing, and I would like you to keep any information that Iíll give you today classified."

"Of course, Ambassador, but I do have to tell the Captain about it."

"Yes, I understand, but I would like you toÖ keep it out of the record."

The Minbari stared at the stationís Executive Officer expectantly, Ivanova frowned a little, then she decided that if she did not agree with her condition, Delenn would not tell her anything and all that was going to get in records was blank anyway. If she agreed to this she would at least get something, even though the records would still have to be mark unsolved.

"Yes, this entire conversation would be off of the record." Ivanova agreed finally.

Delenn nodded, she settled back in her chair, hands folded in her lap. If Ivanova did not know better she would say that the usually so calm Minbari woman was nervous. She put her tea down and rested both her elbows on her knees, listening keenly to whatever information the Ambassador would give.

Delenn focused on her tea, which was sitting on the low table. She gathered all her thought, she could of course, just tell her what she thought the thing that hit Ivanovaís squadron was, but that would have brought too many questions from the usually thorough Commander.

So, she started from the beginning, telling her the brief history of the universe before any races could travel in space. She told the wide-eyed commander about the First Ones. Those races that came long before them, those that traveled in space long before the Minbari and Centauri had the technologies sufficient enough to even think about space travel.

Ivanova listened to all this with some frustration and curiosity. She wondered why she hadnít heard about them before, and realized, not for the fist time, how young human race was, compared to all the races out there.

Then Delenn told her about the Shadows and the Great War a thousand years ago, when all the fist ones and the Minbari battled the Shadows and were finally able to drive them out.

"You see, Commander, when the war was over, the First Ones went away but some stayed behind to watch over the younger races, and some were traveling among the stars."

Ivanova blinked, trying to process that one.

"You meanÖ it was one of those First Ones that stayed behind that hit us and ran away?"

A smile broke out over the alienís exotic features, the Commanderís expression was almost a childlike wonder. She had seen Susan Ivanova in so many stages before, but rarely had she ever seen her like this.

"I do not believe that they saw you. You should know that most of the First Ones are of massive size, some were so big that we are but an insect in their point of view." Delenn told her.

"So, we were just in the way." She said, echoing GíKarís words.

Delenn nodded, agreeing with her. She knew that Ivanova must have felt very guilty about the loss of lives and probably blamed herself for it, because she was the only one that survived. For Ivanova to say this meant that she started to let go of that guilty notion and understood that there was nothing she could have done to prevent that.

"Thank you, Ambassador." Said, Ivanova, after a long while.

The Minbari simply gave her a smile, expecting her to leave the room, but Ivanova was clearly not finish yet. She leaned forward a little more, her brows furrowed in concentration. She wanted to ask the Ambassador something about Talia.

She had gone to see Doctor Franklin and asked him about those that came to visit her while she was in the coma. He told her a list of people that she expected to hear, when he told her that Delenn had visited her a few times and that had been coaxing the telepath to take care of herself and how she had looked afterward.

Franklin said that he thought they were having a little talk, but he didnít know what it was about, and now she wanted to know.

"Delenn," she started, to be on first name basis indicated to the Minbari that this was not official business, but a rather personal one.

"Yes, Susan." Delennís smile softened.

"Stephen said that you came to see me when I was in comaÖ thank you."

The Ambassador reached out and placed a gentle hand on her knee, then squeezed gently, a smile prominently displayed on her face. The smile made Ivanova offer one of her own in return.

"You are my friend." She said simply.

"AndÖ thank you for looking after Talia while I was unconsciousÖ" She continued, looking down, a flush rising to her cheeks. It was an admission in itself to her relationship with the resident telepath of Babylon 5.

"She was rather delightful company, Susan." Delenn told her, "as you are finding out right now."

Wait a minute, did I just hear Delenn teasing me? Ivanova thought. Am I talking to the right Delenn, the Minbari one?

"How did you know?" Ivanova asked in shock. "I mean, Iím sure you donít hang out with Garibaldi or anything."

The Ambassador laughed in good humor, showing a relaxing image, the part of her that no one had ever seen before, the more down to earth Delenn.

"We, Minbari believe in fate, Susan. We believe in soul mates, that we will find the other half of our souls and unite, together we are complete. Fate has tied the two of you together, she is the other half of your soul" Delenn told her, smile never leave her face. "And together you will be able to do the impossible."

Ivanova was sure that she looked more like a beached fish at the moment as she opened her mouth then closed, and opened it again, unable to speak intelligibly.

She was stunned.

She wasnít sure if she believed in fate or anything like that, to believe that people were born with a destiny and no matter what they did they would end up the way that had been decided for them. To believe that there was someone or something already decided what she would do and how she would end up in the future did not sit well with her. Ivanova had always been in change of her own life, she did everything as she saw fit and to believe that she was not in control of her life was not a good thought.

But if the destiny that lied ahead had Talia as a part of it, then she might consider believing in it, but just that partÖ

"I didnít know that you knew so much about us." Ivanova said, for lacked of a better thing to say; her brain wasnít up to speed at the moment.

"If you open your heart and listen, you will know."

"Ah, Iíll do that sometime." The Commander said lamely, well aware of how stupid that sounded. She stood up from her seat, smoothing out the wrinkles that did not exist on her uniform.

"Thank you, Delenn." She told her sincerely. "For everything."

"You are welcome." The Ambassador smiled at the much younger human. "Have a good day."

Ivanova gave her a departing nod and left.

-----------------------------------------------------------

"She said she wanted this off the record?" Garibaldi asked, his thick eyebrows rising up toward his retreating hairline.

"Yes, and I told her that it will not be in the file." Ivanova confirmed.

She came to the Captainís office right after talking to Delenn and told them what she told her. Captain Sheridan had been quiet the entire time she was speaking. To her, he did not seem surprised at what she was saying for the slightest bit. It was as if he knew what to expect beforehand.

"Captain?" Garibaldi turned to him, for some reason he seemed unsatisfied with the information and even more irritated at the fact that they could not put it in the record.

"All right, so one mystery is solved." Sheridan said, almost too cheerfully. "Weíre moving on to the next one when it comes up."

"Thatís it?" The Security Chief exclaimed.

"Why, Garibaldi? What more do you want?" Ivanova responded curtly, starting to feel annoyed.

"Ah, I donít know." He stammered, picking up on his friendís annoyance.

"Of course, you can go out there and wait, maybe itíll come out and hit you, so you could take a closer look for yourself." Ivanova said sarcastically. She crossed her arms and leaned against the backrest of the chair, all the while glaring at her friend. She wondered what his problem was; he seemed to be unsatisfied with everything she had done today.

The Security Chief stared back at her. Sheridan frowned at his Chief of Securityís behavior and he wondered what was going on between them. While Ivanova was being her usual, dark self, Garibaldi seemed a little off, even his responses to what the Commander was saying were quite harsh, totally unlike him.

A signal from the link interrupted any chance of continuing; it was for Ivanova.

"Ivanova," she spoke into the link at the back of her hand.

"Commander," Corwinís voice came through the communication system. "We need your present in C&C maíam."

Ivanova frowned. "Iím on my way." She said finally, and left out an exasperated sigh and made an exit.

Garibaldi remained in his seat, watching the Second in Command of the station walk out the door. Sheridan leaned back into his chair and pushed a stack of transparencies from the middle of his desk to the side.

"So, whatís the matter with you today, Garibaldi?" He asked, wanting an answer.

The Security Chief turned to him, giving him his full attention. "Why do you ask that?"

"You looked like you were going to jump on Ivanova a few minutes ago. Whatís the problem?"

Garibaldi looked down at his hands, which were folded on his lap. He tightened the grip, just enough to hurt.

"Did you know that she and Ms. Winters are together?" He offered.

"Ah, that." Sheridan said, not surprised.

Garibaldi stared at him in disbelief. He couldnít believe that the Captain knew about that before he did; after all, Sheridan had been pretty much doing the diplomatic thing and was not going out and about as much as he was. Was he the last one to know about this?

"You mean you knew about this?"

"Not really," Sheridan clarified, "but it was clear enough if you were paying attention." He smiled at his friend. "And I saw them dancing together last night."

Garibaldiís face fell, he didnít know what he was hoping to hear from the Captain, some disapproval for Ivanovaís behavior? There was nothing wrong with what she was doing, and he knew it.

"Maybe Iím not as good a security officer as I thought I was." He muttered under his breath.

"Hey, this is not stationís business, you have no need to look into it." Sheridan said breezily. "I know youíve beenÖ wanting to get to know Ms. Winters."

"Yeah, well, obviously being nice to her is not enough."

"They seem like they are in love though. If they are happy, we should be happy for them." The Captain said finally. He had no opinion about this whatsoever. He had seen the couple in the restaurant because he was there with Delenn. The Minbari Ambassador pointed them out to him.

He had been quite startled when he saw them holding each other close and dancing with the music, but then all the puzzles seemed to fit in place, and the most important of all was the fact that the Minbari seemed to be very approving of their relationship.

It seems, she said to him, that the souls are reunited.

And when the Minbari saw a puzzled look on his face she went in and explained the Minbariís concepts and beliefs about soul mates to him. He came out of his musings as he noticed the Security Chiefís silence.

"Garibaldi?"

"Yeah, you are right. Actually I had a talk with Ivanova yesterday in the messhall, I just couldnít really get over it, but youíre right if they are happy then we should be happy for them." He smiled up at his Commanding Officer sheepishly, and cleared his throat. "Like I told her yesterday, I could include Ms. Winters in the prank I had planned for her."

"A prank?" Sheridan queried; he was clearly interest.

Michael Garibaldi pulled his chair closer and proceeded to tell him all about his plan.

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"All right, Commander." Doctor Franklin looked at his medical padd. "You are free to go."

Ivanova quickly slid down from the diagnostic bed and pulled her jacket down, smoothing out the fabric.

"Oh and I heard about you and Ms. Winters. Congratulation."

Ivanova tried not to roll her eyes in annoyance. She didnít think the news would travel this far and fast, but what else did she expect? That it would take a month for everyone to know? It was not possible and she knew that very well. Nothing traveled faster in the close community than news, especially about someoneís love life.

"Why is it that when Iím nearly dead no one knows, but when I go out with someone everyone knows in a second."

Franklin laughed out loud at her comment. He didnít need to actually go out and look for them, he could just sit at his console and his medical staff would come in and tell him about all the news that they had heard around the station.

"Itís life, Commander."

"Yeah, Iím starting to learn that."

He grinned to himself as the Commander made an exit from the MedLab. She didnít seem agitated like he thought she would be. In fact, she seemed sort of happy and he was happy for her. Franklin was one of the first people that actually saw the attraction between the two of them.

Most people were not able to look through the antagonistic relationship that they had, including the Commander herself, but he could. He had learned to read people, trying to know them better than they knew themselves: as a Doctor, sometimes he had to do what was best for the patient even when they didnít agree with him.

It wasnít easy for him to read both women; one was a telepath, who kept herself away from the other, hiding underneath the mask of professionalism, the other was a stubborn Commander that chased away everyone that got too close.

He whistled to himself and cleared away the equipment.

Ivanova strode through the corridor, her posture relaxed, her hands clasped behind her back. She wasnít upset that everyone knew about her relationship with the telepath. She felt sort of relieved, in fact, she would hate to tell them one by one. Having to tell Garibaldi was bad enough, she didnít think she would survive trying to explain this to Stephen, too. Then, it occurred to her that it would not be so hard telling the Doctor anything.

Stephen Franklin was one of the most accepting people; he did not have racial prejudices against anyone or anything. Everyone that stepped through the MedLabís entrance was his patient regardless. She suspected that he might be on of the first to be suspicious about their relationship.

With all the mysteries solved, and the station free of crisis, now, all she had to do was get through her duty shift and then she could get back to be with her lover.

A maintenance crew was walking down the corridor when he heard whistling sound; he turned to see Commander Ivanova walking from the other way. At first he thought he was dreaming as the dark Commander walked by. This was going to make some conversation piece, he thought, then wondered if anyone would believe what he was going to tell them.

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Talia sat in the Eclipse café, feeling as if every single person in the place centered their attention on her, especially the EartForce personnel. She wondered what was going on. All the attention was starting to give her a headache.

It had been such a busy day that she barely had had times to stop and breathe, this was her first break all day. A cup of hot tea sat in front of her, the steam rising from the cup. The telepath sighed softly and took a sip. Tea tasted better today than any other day, it made her feel a little better. Tea had always been her favorite drink and it helped to soothe her nerves.

She wished Susan was here with her, at the very least the Commander could keep away their staring. Just imagining what she would do now made her smile. Ivanova would give them a dark look and they would certainly leave the place before the Second in Command decided that she wanted to pluck their eyeballs out.

Or she would only serve to make them look a little more discretely. It was not a secret that a lot of people on the station also thought that the Commander Susan Ivanova was one of the most beautiful women on the station. Ivanova tended to be oblivious to the attentions her looks had gotten her, or maybe she was just ignoring them.

"Ms. Winters."

Talia looked up to meet the dark, mysterious eyes of the Minbari Ambassador. Quickly, she stood up. "Ambassador, may I help you?"

The Minbari gave her a soft smile and gestured her to sit back. "MaybeÖ a Ö girl talk?"

Talia chuckled deep in her throat and invited the Ambassador to join her and dropped the title. "Something you wanted to talk about, Delenn?"

The telepath leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs; her gloved hand rested on the tabletop. She hadnít talked to Delenn since the day Ivanova came out of a coma. She had been very busy indulging the Commander, who was immobilized at the time. She would have enjoyed the talk she had with her a lot more if she hadnít been so worried about Ivanova.

"I believe your relationship has been improving over the past week." The Minbari offered with a soft smile.

Talia blushed then looked down at her teacup. "Yes, you could say that." She didnít expect her to mention anything about any of this, though Ivanova had been their topic of conversation most of the time when they talked. It was strange to listen to the Minbariís point of view on the dark Commander, what she thought of her. Delenn had been quite impressed at the way Ivanova could literally scare anyone running.

"Since that day I saw you and the Commander at the garden."

"We were hitting a few balls in the park." Talia told her, chuckling at the image of herself trying to hit the ball. "Iím still hoping that sheís not going to do that again anytime soon."

"You did not like it?" Delenn queried, puzzling. She thought that the telepath looked rather like she was enjoying herself that day.

"No, Delenn." Talia giggled softly, "I did like it, and I do love spending time with Susan, but the prospect of embarrassing myself in front of her is something that I donít want to do."

"I understand."

"So, howís the Captain doing?" Talia asked with a mischievous grin. "I saw you at Fresh Air the other night."

"Yes, he is a very nice, and interesting man." She paused, "we talked about culture, religion and everything else other than official business."

"Official business can be very boring. I have my share of that, and nothing is more boring than to listen to them all day and still have to talk about it when you go out on a date." Taking another sip. "Iím glad Susan is as bored of them as I am."

Though with the company of the beautiful Commander and her attention the most boring subject would turn into a pleasure to talk about rather than a pain, she thought. Provided that the Commander was not in the mood to break something.

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Sheridan sat at his console, looking at the front of the room where his Executive Officer stood, handling the departure of another ship. He hoped that nothing would go wrong today, he had another dinner meeting with the Ambassador, a Minbari Ambassador to be exact and he didnít want anything to ruin that.

He wondered if his relationship was also a talk in the messhall, or Earhart like the Commanderís right now. He snickered to himself at the thought of Ivanovaís reaction if she overheard when people were talking about her love life.

She probably trashes the whole place.

"Captain."

Sheridanís head snapped up to find the Commander standing in front of his console. He was so deep in thought that he didnít know she had walked from the front her console down to his. She had a puzzled expression on her face, her thick, dark eyebrow rose up slightly.

"What is it Commander?" He said quickly.

"Thereís some development in the Sector 305, do you want to send someone out to investigate?"

He stared at her, for a moment there he didnít know what she was talking about, then it occurred to him that it was some old investigation and it needed to be followed up.

"UmÖ sure send Garibaldi out to see if thereís something going on."

Ivanova simply nodded and turned back to her console, stopping at the junior officer, telling him to contact the Security Chief. Personally she would like to go out herself, she liked hyperspace, it seemed to have a calming effect on her. She hadnít been able to get out in a Starfury for a while now, and the last time she did, it wasnít exactly quality time.

Maybe that was why she didnít think of asking to go investigate herself, and she didnít think the captain would let her.

She sat on her chair and swirled herself around to face the console, making sure everything was in order so that nothing would go wrong. A few minutes later Garibaldi linked in and told them that he was ready to launch and Ivanova gave him the go-ahead.

He had taken the Zeta Squadron with him, he assured them that he would be back as soon as he got something to report.

"Good luck and be careful." Ivanova told him.

He gave her a mock-salute and cut the communication as the vortex activated.

Ivanova watched her friendís Starfury enter hyperspace with a group of Zeta Squadron then returned to her load of work, counting the hours until she could get out of C&C and meet with the object of her affection.

And she wondered what Talia was doing right now.

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"Oh, itís been two hours already," Delenn exclaimed. "I have a meeting with the league of Non-Aligned worlds in ten minutes."

Talia raised her perfectly curved eyebrows and nodded in understanding. She stood up the same time as the Ambassador. "I hope we can do this again sometime." She said softly.

"Yes, we will do this again." Delenn promised and turned away.

"Delenn," Talia called out.

"Yes?"

"Would you like to come by for dinner sometimes?" Talia invited. "Iíll ask Susan."

Delenn gave her a delighted smile. "Yes, I would like that very much. When?"

"Iíll get back to you on that." Talia smiled back. "Have a good meeting."

"Have a good day, Talia."

The telepath watched Delenn walk away and get swallowed up by the crowd of aliens and humans in the Zocalo. Then she gathered up all her papers and information that she had placed on the table and stuffed them back in her briefcase.

It was time for her to get back home.

The word came to her mind, making her smile. Yes, HomeÖ she thought.

The prospect of seeing the beautiful Commander lightened her mood considerably. Quickly, she paid for her drinks and headed out of the place with a big smile on her face. She wanted to be home soon, be away from all these noises, both physically and mentally.

MentallyÖ yes, she wouldnít be thinking about anything else when in the Commanderís presence, all the voices wouldnít matter to her, no matter how loud. Ivanova had that kind of effect on her, she helped quiet all the voices in her mind, kept her focused and nothing else in the world mattered.

Talia ran into the transporter tube without even looking if someone was already in there. She gave the computer a command, wanting to get back as fast as possible and the tube seemed to be traveling slower than any other day today.

"In a hurry?"

A voice asking made her jump and the telepath swirled around on her heels to find Captain Sheridan standing behind her.

"Ah, yes, I have something I have to attend to." She said quickly, trying to cover up the look of excitement on her face.

Sheridan smiled at her, he was surprised to see the usually so cool and composed resident telepath actually ran into the tube. He knew that something was going on from the barely contain excitement on her face. He had never seen that look on her face before, he thought that she actually looked very happy.

Talia tried to stop herself from bouncing on her heels; she did not like to look any less than professional to anyone else on the station. The tube traveled too slowly in her mind that she wondered if something was wrong with it, but with the feeling of calm from the Captain she decided that it was only herself that felt that way.

The tube came to a stop, the computer announced the destination and the doors slid open. And as Talia stepped out Sheridan called out to her.

"Ms. Winters."

Talia turned around to look at him.

"Thank you for your help with the Commander."

"You are welcome, Captain." Talia gave him a small smile and started for her own destination.

As the doors slid shut again, he had hundred different thoughts running around in his head, mostly as to where the telepath would be going and who would be meeting her.

Ivanova, no doubt, and he chuckled deep in his throat.

His Executive Officer seemed to be as hurried as the telepath was a few minutes ago. He actually had to shout to get her attention as she left C&C at the end of her shift. He did catch her and talked to her a little about the little incident in Sector 305. She told him that she had to meet someone, but would like him to keep her inform when Garibaldi had something. He promised her that he would, though it was very likely that she would not be in any mood to be interested in the information by the time he had something from the Security Chief.

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Ivanova stood in her quarters fumbling with her link, debating if she should turn it off, or leave it on, in case Garibaldi came back with some information. Finally, after a long moment, she dropped her link on the console in her room, the link was on.

She hoped that the Security Chief would come back with something for them to work on, she hated to have any case file still remaining open because they had nothing to work with. She had enough to do without having to worry about the old cases that were not solved. It was annoying to say the least.

Looking at the time on the computer terminal, she wished that Talia were there with her right now. It had been a hard day and painfully long to go without seeing or talking to her. Ivanova didnít stop and think about how she sounded. Before this, before she realized that she wanted her, Ivanova had never really known what love felt like, and now, for the first time in her life, she was in love.

She could only hope that Talia felt the same way. That Talia loved her as much as she loved her.

She turned as she heard the door hiss open. The graceful figure of the stationís resident telepath walked in, for a moment she let her eyes roam over the slim body as the telepath approached her. Then, she saw a tall, slim bottle in her hand, and she looked up, her eyes questioning.

Talia smiled at her and came closer, lifting the object in question up to the light: a bottle of white wine. "You said you were out of white." She explained.

"Ah," was all Ivanova said as she took the bottle from her.

She put the bottle down on the table for the time being and pulled the telepath in her arms, hugging her tightly, nuzzling her hair and cheek. Talia smelled like flowers and spice and she inhaled deeply, loving the unique scent that was her loverís. Ivanova pulled back slightly after a while and kissed her, deep and sweet.

"Iíve been thinking about you all dayÖ" Talia whispered in her ear after they broke apart.

Ivanova chuckled deep in her throat and gave her another kiss before she took her by the hand and led her to the couch. She let her sit down and get comfortable while she went to retrieve the bottle that Talia had brought and opened it. The telepath watched her as she pulled her gloves off, letting her hands come free and she tossed them onto the end table. With two wineglasses Ivanova came back to the couch.

"Thank you," Talia murmured and took the glass that Ivanova handed her. She laughed as her lover sank down beside her; the weight of the Commander made her lighter form bounce up from the cushion. She snuggled closer to her, taking comfort from her warm body as the tall woman draped an arm over her shoulder.

Ivanova put her glass down on the coffee table, leaving it untouched. She waited until Talia took another sip from her own glass and she took her chin between her thumb and forefinger, turning her face and pressed her lips against her, parting them with the tip of her tongue, drinking the sweet liquid from an even sweeter mouth.

Talia was a little startled as Susan suddenly turned her face, her eyes widened for a moment, then she closed her eyes when she understood what her lover wanted. She allowed the wine to flow past her lips and the Commander drank it till the last drop. She ran the tip of her tongue over her teeth and tongue then pulled herself away.

She heard the telepath sigh, regretting the loss of contact and she grinned, a small, wicked grin. Ivanova reached for her own glass and took a mouthful before leaning closer to the telepath, captured her lips and let her drink from her just as she did.

Talia let the wine pass her tongue, not caring to taste any of it as she let herself revel in the taste of the Commander instead. Once they parted both were a little breathless.

"You taste so good." The Commander whispered as she nuzzled her hair and cheek.

Talia felt the heat rising within her, she had been able to slow things down and calm herself for the past few nights when Susan seemed to want to make love but was not ready, but tonightÖ She didnít think she had enough strength to do that.

"Susan," she warned softly as the Commander continued to nuzzle her cheek and finally found a sensitive spot just behind her ear and placed a kiss there. She felt her breath catch in her throat as her lips caressed her ear.

Oh, godÖ

She tried to push her away, but when the lips returned, pressing to her own, she felt herself weaken, her resistance started to crumble. Finally, with great difficulty she pushed her away gently.

"Susan."

"What is it, Talia?" Ivanova asked, puzzled at her loverís reaction.

"Are you sure?" Talia asked a little breathlessly.

She gave her a reassuring smile, indicating that she knew what she was talking about and understood her meaning perfectly.

"More than Iíve ever been in my life." She stated firmly and kissed her again.

Talia relaxed and wrapped both arms around her neck as Susan gently coaxed her jacket off of her then worked her hands underneath the silk tank top. She felt her lover shiver in her arms as she roamed her hands over the sleek torso, feeling the silky soft skin beneath her touch and hard ridges of her ribs.

Talia let her arms fall as the Commander pushed her suit jacket down her shoulders then off of her, all the while keeping contact at her lips. Ivanova took a hold of the hem of her silk top and lifted it up, she was stymied as they were kissing. Reluctantly, the pair broke apart and the top finally came off.

Ivanova leaned back, took her time to admire her companion beauty, Talia was the most beautiful woman she had ever seen in her life, she thought that so many times. Every time she saw her it was the first thought that came into her mind, before anything else. She would find herself at a loss of words in the presence of the beautiful telepath.

Talia breathed deeply, letting her lover inspect her, she knew that if she had a mirror right now her face and chest would be flushed crimson. Reaching out, her bare hands touched the soft cheeks, looking into a pair of bright piercing blue eyes, finding them reflecting back her own feelings and desire.

Susan was lostÖ she was lost in those deep blue eyes, lost in the feel of soft, silky smooth skin. She took a hold of the telepathís slim waist, her thumbs pressing on the soft skin. She felt the muscles underneath her fingertips contract as she breathed. Running her hands upward, sliding to touch her back past her shoulder blades up to her shoulders and down her arms. Her hands came to a stop as their fingers laced together.

She leaned over to kiss her again, wrapping both arms possessively around her. The need to breathe broke them apart again, this time the Commander pulled back and picked the lighter form up in her arms. With a startled cry, Talia wrapped both arms around her neck, preventing herself from falling.

"Susan!" She exclaimed.

Ivanova chuckled softly and headed into the bedroom. Her bed was in ordered and neatly arranged. She laid her lover down and straightened up. She undid the buttons on her white sleeved shirt, pulling it free from her trousers. Her jacket was already hung up in the closest; she took it off as soon as she got into her quarters. Her eyes were on Talia, who was watching her, leaning back on her elbows. The telepath was clad in her tight skirt, black stockings and white lacy bra, her face and chest flushed; she swallowed as the Commanderís skin came exposed to her appreciative gaze.

Ivanova finally shed the last piece of her clothing and approached the bed; her eyes never left the telepath. Talia felt her breath caught in her chest, watching her. The light from the living area lightened her chestnut brown hair as it cascaded down her shoulders and back, long thick hair.

"Beautiful." Talia murmured.

She watched as the Commander climbed onto the mattress, looking for all the world like a panther, her movements were athletic and graceful. She hovered over Talia, looking down at her, her eyes darkened with desire, pushing her down on the mattress, kissing her. Her hands wandered down, she caught the waistband of her skirt and Talia arched her back, letting her hands slip underneath to the zipper, and Susan unzipped her skirt slowly and pulled it down.

Talia kicked it off and Susan kissed her cheeks and chin, tracing her collarbone with the tip of her tongue. Her bra was unhooked and tossed aside, her panties and stockings followed soon after. Susan closed her eyes, taking all that she felt from touching her, tasting the salty sweetness of her skin, inhaling her unique scent, wanting to touch every square inch of her body.

Talia giggled softly as Susan touched her sensitive side where it tickled. The Commander grinned and reached up to capture the soft lips with a deep, passionate kiss, pressing her body down. The telepath moaned softly, running her hands down to the small of her back, feeling so close to this woman, more than she ever had with anyone else. Her block crumbled, it wouldnít be too long before she lost control of her talent. Already she felt every move Susan made, and was going to make.

Another soft moan escaped her lips as two long digits reached down between her legs and pressed down. Spreading her legs apart Susan entered her, slipping inside her. Her whole world stopped; she couldnít help herself but pulling Susanís mind into hers. Saw what the Commander saw, felt what she was feeling keenly, and she pulled her deeper when her lover indicated that she was comfortable with what was happening.

Talia felt her belovedís wonder, desire, her thoughts centered on her, her blood roaring in her ears, her heart beating wild. She felt every heartbeat; every rapid breathe and their bodies fell into a matching rhythm. Their bodies shuddered, Talia pulled her even deeper, into her core, taking the Commanderís love and desire inside her and reflected them all back to her in twofolds only to feel it reflected back at her again.

Susan shut her eyes tightly, feeling herself sinking deeper and deeper inside TaliaÖ her Talia. She saw her wonder, her flaws, saw inside of her, what made up the woman she loved. Finally, she knew that she was in her deepest, most intimate part of her mind. Millions of mirrors reflecting the feelings that she projected, and she reflected them back, intensified.

It was unlike any other experience that she had ever had, Talia was inside of her, and she was inside Talia. She saw the way Talia saw her, the way Talia looked at her, felt for her. A tear slipped from behind closed eyelids and trailed down her cheek, wetting Taliaís cheek also. And their whole universe narrowed down to only them. Time stood still, and the universe exploded.

Riding the high tide of their release, holding on to each other, Susan heard Taliaís voice in her head, professing her love and she was not surprised to hear her own voice echoing back the same words, with as much intensity and sincerity. Slowly, they came down, together, holding onÖ

Susan rolled onto her side, her cheek pressed against the soft cheek of the telepath which was wet with her tears. She took the lithe form in her arms and pulled the discarded blanket up over them both. Their sweat slick bodies started to cool down, their minds still intertwined together, contact so strong, their hearts beating with the same rhythm, their breathing in sync.

Their souls as oneÖ

Later, cuddled in the warmth of the strong arms, Talia sighed contentedly; she buried her face in the warm hollow of Susanís throat, listening to her heartbeat, her breathing. She pressed her lips against her chest, murmuring something.

"What was that?" The Commander asked drowsily.

"I said," Talia responded. "I love you."

Ivanova smiled, kissing the top of the golden blond hair, her fingers tangling in the fine strands, caressing.

"I love you, too." She kissed her again. "Thank you for the second chance you gave me."

Talia kissed the pulse point at her throat and Susan held her tighter.

"Thank you."

The End

"Delta leader to delta wing, showís over. Letís collect the stragglers and return to base." ( Signs and Portents )