BABYLON 5, Ivanova, Talia, and all characters and situations thereof, are all rights and © J. Michael Straczynski and Bablyonian Productions. This is a not-for-profit effort for the purpose of fan-to-fan appreciation of some wonderful characters :).
further notes: B5 second season. A stand-alone station story. Sexual content. Violence. This is not hardware sci-fi, it's romance fiction, depicting a love relationship between two women. If this sensibility disturbs/does not interest you, please read no further.
Beta-read by calliope2000, who has my most sincere thanks for her time :).
Thank you, and enjoy. :)
NIGHT: FLIGHT TIME
The flight glove gave a muffled thud as Commander Susan Ivanova pensively tossed it within the padded interior of her helmet, her bare hand now coming to a rest on the metal rail of the catwalk above the alien vessel. Ambassador Kosh's ship--the Vorlon ship. Bright blue eyes surveyed the organic surfaces of its shimmering exterior, the colors seeming to shift and change like the rhythm of breath. Here in docking bay 13, not a soul could be found--not even the night crew who should be present to service the dock. When Kosh's ship was in its berth, no one remained in the bay. Ivanova understood why. She breathed deeply, the crinkle of her flight suit the only audible sound in the vast, empty hangar. Those sounds were for the physical ears; an aural sensation. Other 'sounds' however, that were sensed by the mind, unconsciously disturbed humans without the gift to recognize them. Only the telepathic could handle such mental sensations. Ivanova opened up her thoughts, her eyes contemplating the serene, shifting colors of the vessel's surface below her, and listened for the ship's haunting, psychic whispers...
It was late night on Babylon 5, or the semblance thereof, considering that it was always dark in deep space. 250,000 sentient beings were retired, asleep, ceasing their activity thanks to the universal consensus of all life forms for the need of rest. It also helped that, tonight, a station wide curfew was also in effect, due to recent terrorist bombings. Ivanova was always grateful for that period when corridors and tubes emptied, and station lights dimmed. It meant quiet. It meant that, like the fairy tale kingdom that had fallen under a spell, all things came to an encompassing stop, and slept. However, night was also that time when, while surface concerns safely went to their rest in Ivanova's mind, the nagging matters of the unconscious chose to rise, unbidden.
Ivanova stood, a silent sentinel, her dark head bent down to regard with intense, contemplative eyes, the Vorlon ship, and listened to its soothing, eerie, melody...
She had taken her starfury out tonight; a solo flight for the stars. She had hung her fighter at that place where the deep vast black of the universe met the inked shadowed surface of Epsilon, and had sat cradled in that infinity until the very edge of Epsilon flared into brightness, crested by the planet's sun. She had witnessed that sunrise for Ganya. Tonight, her communion with her dead brother had not brought solace.
"I miss him," came the words, clear and deep as the brow of Ivanova's lidded eyes furrowed in that sad, pained expression reflective of one too many such hurts from the universe. Ganya, her father... mother. All gone. And though her own steadfast Russian sensibility and practical attitude helped to assuage the familiar sadnesses of her soul, there would still surface, unexpected, such piercing moments as these: When those under her care will have gone to their rest, and a vast rotating space station under her watchful command will have entered its silent time, Ivanova would feel, acutely, most alone.
Mama's passing had been the worst, and still was. More than missing her older brother's familial assurance, more than his lovingly dependable support, Susan missed the touch of her telepathic mother in her mind. And if I would admit it to myself--she thought fiercely, facing once again, that deep secret she had faithfully kept imprisoned within her since Sofie Ivanov's death--What I miss most of all, is responding in kind.
Susan hung her head, and listened as the Vorlon ship sang softly of flight and stars...
Gold hair shimmered in a soft cascade as Talia bowed her head before the passing of rustling silk garments and slippered feet in Babylon 5's departure terminal. Fingers brushed lightly upon her forehead. Talia smiled, sensing the warm blessing inherent in the touch. As the Abbai ambassador and her entourage entered the boarding gate for their shuttle flight, Talia straightened, her eyes following with a familiar, forlorn tug at her heart. Alone again. She will truly miss Ambassador Kalika Qual' Mizra.
Black gloved fingers rose to wave, but there was no longer anyone present to see the gesture. Talia dropped her hand. She didn't have to look around to know that at this time of night on the station, when scheduled flights were few, not a soul would be found in the departure area. Thanks to a station-wide curfew, Talia was not supposed to be present in Blue sector's departure lobby either, but she had gotten the clearance from Mr. Garibaldi. The security chief had warned her on another matter as well.
"That perp who's been attacking human women--well, we haven't caught the scumbag yet, so once you see your client to her flight I want you to call security for an escort, Ms. Winters," Garibaldi advised, an earnest seriousness threading his voice.
"And I'll be sure to answer the call personally," he added, flashing his patented Garibaldi grin of charm.
Talia paused in her approach of a Babcon unit. Oh, the man could be infuriating, she noted with a frustrated stamp of her heeled shoe. She glanced about the empty terminal again. She didn't look forward to crossing a deserted Zocalo for Red sector's habitat ring at this hour. However, she didn't look forward to giving her ever-persistent 'suitor'--to put it kindly-- Michael Garibaldi, the excuse to see her to her quarters either.
The B5 station logo stared impassively back at the telepath from the Babcon screen as Talia wavered....
Beyond the unit, Talia's eyes fell upon an access door; 'Authorized Personnel', only. Before she could dissuade herself, she approached the door and passed her identicard through the security lock. A giddy excitement fluttered in her stomach as the temporary security clearances Garibaldi had place on her card activated the entrance. With a deep breath of anticipation, Talia quickly stepped through, her slim figure disappearing behind the closing door. The flight lobby became bereft of living presence once again....
Her heeled shoes clicked, audibly echoing in the empty hall and bringing a self-conscious bite to Talia's lower lip. Strange that she hadn't encountered anyone yet; this part of Blue sector was where Earthforce personnel and maintenance crews worked. Even at this late hour, the telepath was certain someone would be on patrol, curfew or no curfew. Her plan to shortcut through Blue to Green sector, then access a transport tube from there straight to Red's habitat ring, wasn't looking too bright at the moment, especially if she couldn't find someone to ask for further directions. The steady disturbance of her heels in the empty quiet of the corridor was having a jittery effect on her nerves. Garibaldi had said that the last attacks had occurred solely in Red sector, didn't he? Talia cast her emphatic range behind her as she glanced back down the corridor, hurrying ahead--
She impacted hard with another body, a surprised cry escaping as she felt a strong hand grip her gloved one firmly. The sensation--stars, deep black--the STARS--an infinity that swept past her as she gazed upon the flaring sunrise on a planet's black surface, and a young man's broad face, his dark browed, blue eyes--Warm--
Blue eyes gazed into hers, bright, and questioning.
"Space...." Talia breathed huskily. "You smell like space...."
Susan Ivanova slowly released the telepath's hand.
"Ms. Winters...." Susan finally spoke. The fine, melodious quality of the commander's voice rang in the empty corridor. "This is a restricted area."
"I know, " Talia replied hastily, in her own, deep husky tone. "I'm sorry."
She gestured apologetically, a wave of elegant, black gloved hands, before clasping them behind her. Even in her flight suit, the commander maintained her professional, distant demeanor, regarding the telepath impassively, but courteously. Talia thought Ivanova looked like a warrior--mythical...knightly, with her flight helmet tucked under her arm like that.
"I was trying for a short cut--to Green sector. I'm sorry about running into you," Talia explained. She allowed a slight rueful grin. "You spooked me."
"Because of the attacks," Susan further clarified, looking directly in Talia's eyes for confirmation. Talia's blue eyes dropped in embarrassment--she was surprised at the commander's astute deduction. Her eyes flicked up again as Ivanova took a breath.
"I'll walk you to your quarters," she stated. It sounded more like an order than an offer.
Ivanova raised one hand, effectively pausing the telepath's protest.
"If I don't see to this personally, and something happens to you--I'd never forgive myself, Ms. Winters," she quietly declared.
Talia tampered down her instinctive, warm reaction; she knew those were only polite words.
A wry, humorous gleam flashed in the commander's bright eyes as her wide mouth quirked slightly.
"Besides," Ivanova added. "I'd be the first suspect Garibaldi would arrest."
Talia's own full mouth broadened in mirth at that remark. It was no secret that Commander Susan Ivanova hated Psi-Corps telepaths with a passion. The organization that controlled and trained all human telepaths were the reason Susan's mother was dead. Talia's responsive smile faded. Her own recent experiences with the Corps had proven that the Family she had trusted and known all her life was as capable of evil as Ivanova had claimed. This understanding had not bridged the gap between them, as much as Talia wished otherwise. She caught her breath as Ivanova inclined her head slightly, the dim corridor lights catching the outline of her jaw. Yes, the telepath mused, futilely ignoring that well-known flash of attraction racing her heart. She wished very much, otherwise.
Large, expressive eyes beneath dark, sharp eyebrows regarded her coolly.
At least tonight, the commander seemed tolerant enough of her company.
"I have to change out of my flight suit," Ivanova added. "Then I'll see you to your quarters."
The blonde woman gazed about the row of lockers and benches and 'read' the psychic acoustics of the room... the residual sensations of adrenaline, excitement, anticipation--and fear. Whenever the station launched its fighter squads, Talia always experienced a sick trepidation, wondering if Susan Ivanova was heading the mission. She had never understood what motivated the EA fighter pilots to do what they do--even if it was their job to fight for and protect Babylon 5. Now, standing in the room where the pilots readied for space and battle, Talia could vicariously gain an inkling of some of that martial spirit and energy....
The brisk, clean sound of a zipper brought Talia's attention back to the commander. Susan stood before her open locker, slipping the heavy flight suit off her bare shoulders, her unlaced boots already resting neatly on the bench beside her. Talia turned away politely, but even as she turned she could not help one furtive, covetous glance over the sleeveless, white tee that outlined the attractive curves of the commander's torso....
The telepath averted her eyes and waited patiently as she heard the sound of the flight suit being hung and then the snap of a garment being whipped out by firm hands.
Talia decided to turn back.
Her anticipating eyes caught dark blue slacks being pulled up over the shapely delineation of Ivanova's buttocks. The commander left the pants resting on her hips, not bothering to zip up. She reached for her white dress shirt, the metal EarthForce buckle bumping heavily against her flexed thigh.
The fighter pilots' dressing area was apparently as much Ivanova's domain as Command and Control was; the dignified air with which the commander carried herself when executing her duties was as present here even while undressing and changing into her uniform. Talia felt the resonance of that cool self-assurance radiate from the commander like armor. If the telepath had felt any shame about staring at Ivanova openly, it evaporated before the commander's calm, un-self-conscious energy....
Talia watched as Ivanova shrugged into her crisp, cotton dress shirt. The fabric slid over broad, bare shoulders lightly dusted with freckles. Long fingers nimbly buttoned the front; first the middle one, to follow down; then up, to flick the rest into place.
Growing up in the Corps, there were no secrets... about one's appearance or otherwise. Memory of another time, came unbidden, to Talia, of when she was a little girl, just approaching her twelfth year. She had been watching the older girls change in the Academy dressing area. One had sensed her thoughts, and turned.
"Do you like what you see, Talia?" She had sent, smiling.
The older girl had laughed out loud then, delighted by Talia's unabashed sincerity. Fulfilling the younger girl's curiosity, she had taken Talia's hand, and placed it at the soft swell of her breast.....
A bemused smile tugged at Ivanova's lips as her eyes caught the telepath's expression in her locker door mirror. Talia's own blue eyes were lidded, smoky in their deepness. Her rouged mouth was parted, as if mesmerized by the commander's sure, deft movements.
"What's the matter," Susan asked, the deep melodious tone of her voice light in its intent. "Never seen a woman dress before?"
Heat hit Talia's cheeks and her eyes dropped, only to rise quickly beneath her lids to watch Susan's hands tuck the tails of her shirt into the dark blue slacks.
"Not a woman in uniform," Talia murmured huskily.
Ivanova apparently accepted the explanation. She zipped, then buttoned her trousers, quickly running the belt through its buckle. Fingers at her wrists buttoned the cuffs, then the tab collar, effectively covering from view, the flowing, naked line of her throat. She shrugged her shoulders then, getting the fit of the cotton fabric to settle comfortably at her arms, and upon the breadth of her back.
No, Talia confirmed privately, as the commander then reached up to loosen her braid, shaking loose her long, dark mane. I've never had the opportunity to wake up and watch a woman dress in EarthForce blue....
Ivanova removed her brush from the locker shelf and ran it through her thick tresses. She watched the telepath's reflection in the small mirror. Talia Winters looked immaculate--but then she always did, her shining, straight hair without a strand out of place; the bright red, lipstick she wore--perfect. She was wearing her muted green business suit; the one with the conservative cut, yet with a line that hugged the telepath's curvaceous body. Tonight, across that body, from shoulder to hip, the telepath wore the stiff, golden sash the Abbai ambassador had given her; an accessory meant to signify Talia's service to the Abbai Matriarchate while she was monitoring their negotiations. The telepath often had a professional manner about her as cool as the commander utilized, but for the past few days, whenever Susan had caught sight of Ms. Winters around the station, her bright sash worn across her dress, Ivanova could sense that the telepath was happier than she had ever been since coming to Babylon 5.
"She and the Abbai ambassador are bonding," Garibaldi had confided over a messhall meal when Ivanova had mentioned it. "It's some matriarchal, Abba-cultural thing."
The telepath had been near the departure docks tonight--possibly seeing the ambassador off. That meant that Talia was less one friend, once again. Susan paused briefly in her brushing.
Not long ago, Talia had lost loved ones--Jason, her former lover; Taro, her old friend and mentor. And her trust in the Psi-Corps, the only family she knew, had been shakened. It was doubtful if she had made any other friends on Babylon 5. Ordinary humans generally feared the telepathic, and Ivanova's own hatred of Psi-Corps had not helped either.
Susan had her reasons, and it wasn't just her long-standing prejudice. Talia Winters had only to scan her, even by accident, to know what Susan Ivanova has never told anyone. Not even her own father and brother had known. If she had caused the telepath pain by her belligerent animosity, Susan had felt its ironic cruelty as well.
In the reflection of the small, locker mirror, Susan gazed upon the shine of gold hair she had spent long nights fantasizing of touching....
Ivanova had never even allowed a friendship to develop between she and Ms. Winters.
And that left the wolves for Beauty, Susan mused.
She dropped the brush into the locker and removed her EF jacket, slipping her arms into the sleeves.
"That sash becomes you," she remarked quietly, watching the telepath's head rise in surprise, in the reflection of the mirror. "It's the color of your hair, and very pretty."
A warm, appreciative smile lit Talia's face as the blonde woman shyly glanced down.
"Thank you," she responded softly, her voice deep. "It's kind of you to notice."
Susan hooked up the front of her uniform jacket, grinning to see the happiness her words had brought the telepath.
"When pretty girls are paid a compliment, it only makes them prettier," Ganya's warm voice suddenly echoed in Susan's mind.
The sudden impact of the locker being shut abruptly startled Talia. She gazed quizzically at the commander's back, noticing that the comfortable, calm vibrations that had been present earlier were now gone. Ivanova hooked the breast flap of the jacket closed, completing the professional soldierly appearance of her attire. She turned to the telepath, her demeanor now one hundred percent, incontestably, EarthForce.
"Let's go," Ivanova stated.
Talia did not take that as a suggestion. Obediently, she followed the commander out of the dressing area.
"We can't access this tube," Ivanova repeated flatly, making her question sound more like a statement that she wanted the security officer to refute.
"No Ma'am," the officer replied earnestly, his face a little flushed. "I mean--yes Ma'am, nor can you access any of the corridors from Blue direct to Red sector. We're conducting repairs from the bomb damages and running maintenance diagnostics on the working transport tubes--that is why we've got a curfew in effect."
Ivanova raised an incredulous, dark eyebrow at the young man, leaning in slightly as if to invite the officer to attempt to explain more of what the commander already knew about the current operation procedures of her space station.
"R-right," he suddenly realized.
"We'll take the Central Corridor," Ivanova decided, turning away. The blonde woman with her matched her move.
"That's off-limits too!" The young officer added hastily. Before the commander could unsettle him with another glare, he continued.
"The Chief's running a sting in the Central Corridor, hoping to snag that perp tonight--the one who hurt those women. The last one's still in a coma in Med-lab."
Ivanova heard Talia's quick intake of breath beside her. Obviously, the telepath had not known about that.
"Can we take the core shuttle?" Ivanova patiently asked, hoping that in the next two seconds she and Talia would be gone and security would not be finding one of their own, floating outside an airlock in the morning.
"Why yes, you can!" The man affirmed brightly. "Monorail access is a go for the entire station length and when you reach your destination you can ask the officer in your location for the nearest available tube that's not being repaired--Ma'am!"
Ivanova reluctantly turned, barely making it five paces.
"Are you escorting--" The young man peered at the blonde woman, realizing finally who she was from the glint of the bronze Psi-Corps pin at her collar. "--Ms. Winters to Red's habitat ring?"
Ivanova took the time to count to six.
"Yes," she finally affirmed, her tone deep and deadly. She wasn't sure if she really wanted to retrace her five paces just to deck the young man one.
"Will you be needing an escort back?" He asked helpfully.
The commander took only one step back just so the young man could get a good look at the intent in her eyes.
"Have--have a nice night," the officer stuttered to the commander's retreating back.
"He's in security and you're the station's resident commercial telepath--he's supposed to know who you are," Susan muttered to Talia, aggravated. She placed a hand at the small of the telepath's back, guiding her down an alternate blue corridor that was a shorter route.
"His interest is in men," Talia replied wryly, sharing what she had sensed from the young security officer. She smiled. "He doesn't have a need to remember my type."
It was night; the time of contemplation. A hush lay all through the slumbering, giant station. The pervading stillness reverberated in the dimmed corridors and tubes, prompting silence even from those who still moved about their duties, like ghosts. Talia stood with the commander on the monorail platform overlooking the vast interior of Babylon 5's rotating core, and watched the few red maintenance lights wink randomly in the distant dark of the station's artificial night. She shivered slightly.
She had noticed how the commander had foregone her usual sarcastic responses to the misguidedly helpful security officer. Ivanova had been uncharacteristically terse. A quiet surrounded the dark woman like an impenetrable blanket, as she stood shadowed and away from the telepath, deep in her own, private thoughts.
It was always like this between them; separation. Since that first, fateful meeting in C&C, Talia had found the enigmatic, dark Russian irresistibly present in her thoughts and dreams...and though she would often argue herself out of this silly, supposedly temporary infatuation, fed up with Ivanova's steadfast animosity, she had discovered that, against all reason, this beautiful woman had become a desirable prize in her heart and mind.
You are a prince I cannot touch, Talia thought silently to the straight, strong back. But despite what you think of me, I want to invite you to stay, tonight.
Her heart hammered painfully in her chest; a nervousness jumped in her stomach. She needed something to do. Talia's gloved hands found the lipstick case in her dress pocket. She stepped closer to the reflective surface of a display panel and removed the cap from the stick, placing the waxy rouge carefully to her lips....
Ivanova turned her head, staring at the telepath.
The commander's gaze was reflected in the display panel. Talia paused, catching the reflection. Gently, she applied the lipstick, moving it slowly along her mouth. Her lips pursed together, glistening red as she finished, a gloved finger touching up a corner near her glossy, bottom lip.
She straightened slowly and recapped the cosmetic. She chanced a glance sideways.
Blue eyes now deepened to black, regarded her, half closed, as if dreaming desirous, smoldering thoughts. As Talia's eyes fully caught the intense gaze, Ivanova deliberately turned her head away.
Beyond the commander, the white, gleaming face of a core shuttle car appeared, humming in its approach along the track. It slid smoothly to a stop before the two women on the platform.
"Commander," came Talia's deep, husky tone.
Ivanova turned her head once again; impassive.
"Thank you for doing this," the telepath said softly.
The commander said nothing, only inclining her head formally in acceptance. As the shuttle door hissed open, she stepped aside, and with carefully averted eyes, motioned the telepath in.
Lights flashed into the car's interior, illuminating Susan's face in rapid bursts as she gazed out upon the arched rotating expanse that sped pass. Her station was a splendid behemoth; silent, serene, and cold. It stretched around and about the tiny, speeding car, an encircling fortress of solitude. Tonight, its paneled walls felt like a prison.
She did not have to look behind her, to affirm the warmth of the presence standing alone at the other side of the car....
A memory arose, of a time when she had been aware of their presence even before her brother had cursed derisively in Russian in their direction: Psi-Corps members. They had hurried past, a small girl between them, giving the glowering EF pilot and the young dark-haired woman with him, only a surreptious glance. The girl had glanced back, looking for the parents she would never see again. Her small hands had been covered in the regulation, black psi-dampening gloves. On her chest had been a shiny, new Psi-Corps badge. Another inductee.
"Bastards," Susan had cursed as well.
Fear had hammered hard in her throat.
"Brown sector," the computer chimed pleasantly.
Ivanova became aware of the car sliding to its smooth, oily stop, automatic doors hissing apart to a deserted platform. Even without a glance to confirm it, she knew there was no one.
Not a living sound could be heard, except the soft, near intangible, exhale behind her....
Fear; whenever she saw the psi symbol, the badge, the black-gloved members who represented those responsible for Sofie Ivanov's suicide--fear mastered her. She was sick of it, of hiding and of keeping secrets. She had told John Sheridan that he could trust Ms. Winters, but with this--with this which could cost Ivanova her career, her freedom, and possibly her life
Susan breathed deeply, trying to clear her mind.
She could smell her scent....
Susan heard the near inaudible rustle of movement behind her; the soft sound of a muted green dress adjusting against a body shifting its weight....
The car slowed to another stop.
"Green sector," the computer intoned.
Once, Ganya had touched her on the forehead, unexpectedly; a quick, firm contact of the fingers, acknowledging the unspokened.
"Someday you will be happy the way you should be, Susachka," he had mused softly. "You must".
Ganya had known.
The car sped up.
Military secrets; diplomatic agendas; the protecting and insuring of an Alliance's interstellar security; such concerns have been compromised, time and time again, for just this centuries old reason, Susan reflected cynically, closing her eyes to savor the delicate, elusive tendrils of a familiar, beloved scent. What better bribe...what better betrayal to her own self-preservation than this which now tempted her beyond all reason and a mother's final caution.... She remembered the nights she and Ganya had spent--young wolves--scoping out the pretty blondes in St. Petersburg....
Talia stood, resting against the support of a steel pole with her gloved hands clasped around its smooth surface behind her. As the shuttle entered a tunnel, flashing strobes of reflected light patterned the telepath's body, traveling up and down the soft, prominent curves like a rapid, caress of colors. Susan watched one band of blue move up over Talia's dreaming, pale features, her smoky eyes faraway.
Sensing eyes upon her, the telepath slowly turned her head.
There was such a soft, sad quality to the full, red mouth.
"The lights look beautiful on you," Susan spoke, her tone in the car's silence, rich and deep.
Talia's mouth parted, startled by the words. She remained still.
The commander stood at her side of the car, dark and tall in the black shadows broken only by the cool blue station lights they sped pass. Each brief, pale illumination revealed the naked intensity in Ivanova's large, blue eyes.
"You...look beautiful to me," came the husky tones, barely audible in the hush of the shuttle's pregnant air. "Susan."
She watched as the dark-haired woman silently, deliberately approached, her steps bringing her within inches of the telepath. Talia dared not breath, her eyes hooding to watch Susan's mouth. Ivanova realized now why the golden sash draped across Talia's body had seemed so alluring when she had been watching her about the station. It made the telepath look like a prize.
Susan bent her head, as Talia moved to meet her....
Mouth met mouth, lips touching, brushing softly. As contact broke, they moved to kiss again, then again; slow, sweet contacts. Susan's hands, resting lightly on Talia's arms, began to encircle the slim limbs in her firm fingers....
As their mouths touched, Talia could already feel her mental shields being bypassed--Susan's thoughts and emotions somehow intense enough to slip through her mental defenses. She knew Ivanova would not want to be scanned. Briefly, she ceased responding to Susan's mouth, taking a ragged breath to reinforce her telepathic blocks....
Susan could feel Talia withdrawing from her--not physically, but mentally. Her latent awareness was already able to sense, at least at the very fringes, the beautifully warm and vibrant psychic presence of Talia's consciousness. She desired this 'touch'. She wanted more. She wanted the telepath like this--
Susan's mouth fell upon Talia's--insistent, suddenly desperate. Talia's lips parted in an abrupt gasp as she felt Susan's mind actually thrust against hers, demanding acceptance--she instinctively dropped her blocks and opened her mind to Ivanova's, receiving the bright, fiery, untrained presence--
SUSAN-- vibrated the telepath's voice in Ivanova's head. The commander was telepathic--Telepathic--all of Susan's longing and voracious desire rushed in and flooded Talia's senses, intoxicating and inflaming her own responses. Already the telepath could experience their minds sharing their erotic thoughts--see the desirous woman she represented in Ivanova's mind just as Susan now experienced the hot vision of herself in Talia's own. She felt Susan's hands push the sash down; reach across her front to rip her dress open, breaking the zipper with a loud snap.
"Red sector," the computer's voice intoned pleasantly.
A loud, ringing clang met the hiss of the shuttle doors opening, as Talia's head impacted with the metal pole behind her, the telepath reacting to the bruising of Susan's teeth on her flesh through the satin chemise. The sharp pain from the blow echoed in Ivanova's own head, but she ignored it, one intense, quick eye affirming that no one was present on the platform to enter the parted doors. She felt Talia's hand struggle at her breast--the cuff of her leather glove caught on her EA badge. She gripped the wrist firmly and ripped it off, the pin clattering to the shuttle floor. She could think of nothing but the scent and the feel and the mind of the beautiful and desirable woman beneath her mouth. God-- screamed the realization in her own mind, as Talia's hunger for her reverberated within her consciousness--how she had always wanted it like this--
She ferociously cradled the presence of Talia in her mind as she sent forth sexual sensations--pushing the telepath's body off the steel pole and backwards...
Talia was only dimly aware of the shuttle car accelerating as her back struck the paneled wall with a dull thud. She was gasping, wanting to find Susan's mouth as she felt the commander's firm grip pull her hips closer, but unable to do so. She couldn't see anything; Susan's powerfully, arousing projections blinded her physical eyes. So untrained--so wild. Susan was a primal presence flaring lustfully across the landscape of her consciousness--a flaming, carnal trigger--
Talia felt physical pleasure mounting--her body reacting. Her head snapped back again, striking the metal panel behind her and shattering the reflective quality of its surface into a million, shimmering sensations. Her gloved hand grasped wildly, swinging back as pleasure peaked and released convulsively within her once again, the back of her hand smacking the metal panel to cause it to shimmer once more....
Talia saw herself lovingly reflected a million times in Susan's consciousness just as Susan saw herself exist in endless, beloved qualities in Talia's mind....
Susan sobbed aloud--shaking, and felt Talia's intense pleasure as her own...
The last of the distant core walls panned pass Talia's defocused sight as the car deaccelerated to its final stop. Slowly, her arm slid down from beside her head and came to a gentle rest on Susan's back, feeling the silent shuddering of the commander's shoulders as Ivanova wept at her breast.
Talia closed her eyes.
Through her misery, Susan sensed a knowing, protective assurance cascade softly and warmly through her mind. It vibrated through her consciousness like a pure sound in the dark, soothing her fears.
She saw herself held precious and safe in Talia's soul as if she were her most beloved treasure....
...one the Corps, could never claim.
"Thank...." came Susan's rough, deep whisper.
You.... she finished in Talia's mind, and the large, bright eyes, brimmed with tears, which she had raised to regard the telepath, now shut tightly, concentrating.....
"Ah--Susan--" Talia suddenly gasped aloud, feeling the sensual mental stroke. She felt her hips respond--clutched the commander across her back as Susan held her firmly. Susan--
--her mind was suffused with delirious, erotic sensations--pleasuring--
Susan felt Talia shudder against her once again, hearing the low, throaty cry of release next to her ear as she held the telepath tight. Finally Talia relaxed, limp, against her, and she put her lips to the pale neck, nuzzling the silky blonde hair and breathing her musky, sweat-tinged scent deeply. After nearly two years of wanting her, it was possible that she would never get enough of this woman...
"Come to my quarters," Susan whispered hoarsely.
She felt Talia's nod against her cheek.
Ivanova laughed out loud abruptly then--a short almost hysterical reaction, to Talia's thought in her mind.
"Yes," she agreed, feeling a sob shake her breath and what remained of her emotional composure. She sniffed, rocking Talia a bit in her arms. "This time... your way."
She felt the telepath's warm body shift languidly against her as soft blue eyes regarded her own. Talia slowly reached up, and reverently, kissed Susan upon her forehead.
Beauty had her wolf.
"Computer," came Ivanova's roughened voice, as she spoke into her comlink. "Command override. Core shuttle controls, car 4. Emergency access code L5E315007. Proceed non-stop, Blue sector."
Smoothly the car accelerated from its rest for the opposite direction, the station interior now flashing rapidly by its windows. As lights strobed across their faces, Susan gazed into Talia's warm eyes and felt as if the car was rushing, not to its end, but to a destination of no end....that this speeding box in which they stood had the power to jump its final barrier and hurtle them into the universe of possibilities....giving them Flight.
Talia saw the stars in Susan's eyes.
"I've been awakened," Susan breathed softly, and it was a truth that rang sweet in the air. Her very awareness was more alive now than her understandings and senses had ever been in space, combat, or under threat of death. She was now, everything she should be, and all because of the beautiful woman before her... her thumb lightly caressed Talia's mouth, desiring to kiss it....
....And then noticed the swollen, bruised quality of the telepath's lower lip.
Eyes wide, Susan reached up quickly and tenderly searched the back of Talia's head, finding the slight bump there and wincing in reaction as she experienced the painful twinge the telepath felt. Susan swallowed, her hands trembling slightly as she sought quickly to close Talia's dress front; the soft swell of her chest spilled from the opening. Already an angry, dark bruise was forming on Talia's pale skin beneath the thin fabric of the chemise. She had broken the zipper to pieces.
"I'm sorry, baby," Susan hoarsely groaned, her brow furrowing in deep dismay and shame. An answering shiver ran up Talia's back at hearing the soft endearment. She shook her head, her gloved hands covering Ivanova's own as they held the dress closed.
A sharp chime from the handlink under Talia's fingers startled them both. Slowly, the commander removed her hand and raised it to her mouth.
"Ivanova," Susan finally rasped into the comlink.
"Ivanova--Garibaldi here," Came the chief of security's eager, focused voice. "Heard you escorted Ms. Winters back to Red sector. How'd that go?"
A gentle, sorrowful thumb passed once again over the telepath's bruised mouth.
"She's all right," Ivanova replied softly.
"Glad to hear that. Hey, just so you know, we snagged that attacker tonight. He didn't put up much of a fight, the scumbag. Was hoping to have an excuse to smack him a few. He won't be hurting anyone anymore."
"Good work, Garibaldi," Susan murmured.
"Yeah. And thanks again for taking care of Ms. Winters. You two may not get along, but I know she was in safe hands."
"You're a prince, Susan."
"Get some sleep, Garibaldi. Ivanova out."
She hit her link, shutting it off. Tentatively, she reached for the Psi-Corps pin at Talia's collar, unable to meet the telepath's eyes. She undid the clasp and then quickly pinned the torn dress closed. Kneeling, she gathered up their belongings from the shuttle floor; her EA badge, Talia's gold Abbai sash. She pocketed the broken badge and with hands that shook a little, slowly placed the sash across the telepath's body. She felt the car arrive to a halt. Blue sector.
"I'll take you back, " Susan spoke, her voice serious with remorse. "I didn't intend to give you no choic--"
She gasped in surprise, feeling Talia's presence reenter her thoughts and bestow the beautiful sensation of a single, loving communication.
"All right," Susan agreed, and felt the dismay dissipate from her brow as a self-conscious, relieved smile broke on her face. She laughed slightly, looking down.
A leather gloved hand came up to softly cup her cheek.
"If that's the worst you can do," Talia whispered, huskily. "I won't press charges....commander."
Susan turned her head to gratefully kiss the precious hand.
How Ivanova loved the feel of this woman's thoughts.... how she loved returning the communication in kind. Talia's eyes nearly shut, half-closed, in feeling Susan's responding, mental caress. The commander quickly unhooked her EF uniform and placed the warm jacket around Talia's shoulders. She bent to kiss her mouth gently.
Ganya would have liked Talia, Susan realized, hugging the telepath close.
She felt a soft kiss upon her single, stud earring; the one she wore in remembrance of her brother. A poignant pain jerked in Susan's heart and she squeezed Talia tight.
"Let's go," she finally spoke, low and rough. As they pulled apart, a brilliant, warm smile lit Talia's face, causing Ivanova to respond with a tremulous one of her own. She took hold of the telepath's hand firmly and they exited the car. As they hurried deep into the recesses of the slumbering station, one no longer led the other; they moved as one. They sped with anticipation into the dark night and into the possibility that had opened to them; of flight.
"Delta leader to delta wing, shows over. Lets collect the stragglers and return to base." ( Sighs and Portents )