DISCLAIMER:  John Sheridan, Delenn, and the B5 universe belong to J. Michael Straczynski (the Great Maker himself), Warner Brothers, Babylonian Productions, and TNT.  No copyright infringement is intended as this story is solely for the author's entertainment and the reader's enjoyment.  Please don't sue me, I don't have any money.

Dedicated to my baby brother, whom I've adored since the day he was born.

Face of a Human Soul (BABYLON 5)

copyright 1999 by Conner McBride

 "I do not associate with freaks."
 Delenn's eyes widened.  She had expected prejudice, but never from her own people, those who knew of the Great Prophecy and the coming Darkness.
 The Minbari walked off, not so much as throwing a second glance over his shoulder.  Delenn bit her lip and turned to flee back to her quarters, to find some comfort in her meditations, only to crash into another warm body.
 "Whoa, Ambassador!  Where's the fire?"
 She froze.  The deep, cheerful bariton was unmistakable.  Delenn gazed up into the hazel eyes of Captain John Sheridan.  Drawing herself up to her full height with as much dignity as possible, she attempted to avoid any reference to her previous conversation.  "What fire, Captain?  And why would one wish to run to see something burn?"
 Delenn spoke hurriedly, avoiding the sympathetic look on John Sheridan's face, hoping against hope that he had not heard the insults of her fellow Minbari.
 John had to literally run to catch up to the small woman.  He had heard what the other Minbari had called her.  Secretly, John had wanted to go after the guy, but he knew Delenn would never have forgiven him for it.  She was still rattling on about her misunderstanding of his language.  Enough was enough.  He put his hand on her shoulder.  Delenn looked up, the embarrassment plain on her face.
 Taking a deep breath, John said, "Delenn, it's okay.  He was wrong anyway."
 The Minbari ambassador exhaled sharply.  Sheridan did not think less of her because of the words of another of her own kind.  Curious thing about humans, that; they were neither angry nor surprised at differences.  In fact, they readily seeked out that which was unique, for the most part.
 /Except for me, the one between two worlds and wanted by neither./  Except by John Sheridan.  He had never questioned why she looked different from other Minbari, never held her up to any ridicule or judgement.  To Delenn's great surprise, Starkiller had been more than kind.  He had been friendly and compassionate, even going out of his way to talk with her.
 Delenn bowed slightly, her eyes locked with Sheridan's.  "Thank you John, for not seeing me as an outcast."
 Her face was once again that of the impassive Satai.  "Now, is there anything you wish to see me about?"
 John smiled.  /She's gonna be okay./  "Actually, I was coming to find you for our meeting."
 Smiling, Delenn asked, "Would you prefer my quarters or your office?"
 "My quarters, actually."  /Where the hell did that come from?/  "Uh-less chances for interruption."
 "That would be fine."
 "Good.  Great."  /Do I look as goofy as I feel?/  Delenn just seemed to have that effect on him.  Her brilliant green eyes, her musical voice, the remaining part of her crest, which sat upon her mahogany hair like a tiara---/Good God, I'm spouting poetry!/
 The lift opened.  In a fit of courtliness he would probably be embarrassed about later, John held out his hand.  "Madame Ambassador, may I?"
 It was rare that Delenn was left speechless.  "I--"  For one brief moment, she wondered if Sheridan was holding her in contempt, as others did.  The smile on his face said otherwise.  Her hand slid into his, electrifying in its gentle touch, adorning his senses in a haze of falling rain and citrus.
 Taking her hand under his arm, John glanced down at the petite woman who was the object of so much prurient curiousity and scorn.  John wondered how much of it got to Delenn, how much hurt stabbed through her heart.  He wanted to scream at the Universe Delenn held so much faith in for allowing someone so giving and hopeful to be the object of so much hate.
 He wondered at her inner strength to hide it; and he found himself both admiring of Delenn and entranced by her.  They walked to his quarters in comfortable silence.

 Sheridan poured himself some orange juice.  "Can I get you anything to drink Delenn?  Tea, juice?"
 "What?  Uhhmm...yes, juice would be fine."  His voice had startled her out of her meditative revery.
 John watched the gentle woman out of the corner of his eye.  Delenn seemed a little out of sorts.  He knew the other Minbari's comments had hurt her deeply, despite her best efforts to hide it.  Studying her was like admiring the ancient, serene beauty of a Grecian sculpture.  Delenn was unique, of that there was no question, but she was not a freak.  Delenn was music personified, her movements as liquid and graceful as a waltz.  She was the Universe in all its mysteries and brilliance, her  seascape eyes as luminous as the blazing stars in the vacuum of space.
 He smiled as his thoughts.  He could almost hear Susan gagging over his poetic musings.  Romance had never been big with her.  Bringing out the two glasses of orange juice, John stopped in his tracks, watching her slender form in painful, perfect stillness.  Delenn's small hand brushed over her dark locks, grabbing the thick tresses between her fingers.  Her emerald eyes were too vivid, too bright.
 Placing the cups on the table, John moved across the room.  "Delenn?"
 The half-human/ half-Minbari hybrid was as still as a statue, so still that John thought she hadn't heard him.  "Delenn?  Ambassador?"
 Not once did she look at him.  "Am I so hideous to look at, John?"
 "What?"  Surely he had heard her wrong.
 "Do not lie to me John.  Am I so very ugly?"
 Unable to help himself, John let out a laugh.  Delenn turned around to face him, anger evident in her large eyes.  "This is funny to you, Captain?"
 Seeing the hurt on her face, Sheridan walked up to her, grabbing her hands.  "No! No, not at all.  That's not why I laughed.  I just can't believe you're asking that."
 "Then why do people hate me so?  What is so wrong with me that people cannot even look me in my eyes?  Because I follow Prophecy, I am a freak, they say!  An outcast!  Even my own people call me an insane fanatic!  I ask you again John; am I so horrible that YOU cannot look at me?  Is that why you laugh?"
 Hot tears of anger ran in saline rivers down her cheeks.  All the hurt and anger she had bottled up and hidden behind her precious faith spewed out with the force of a volcano.  "Am I a freak?!"
 Her anguished shout shook John out of his amazement.  He grabbed Delenn's wrist roughly, without his usual gentleness.  Dragging her to his bathroom, he shoved her in front of the mirror, causing Delenn to stumble.  John jerked her chin up, forcing Delenn to look at the ethreal beauty that was her reflection, forcing her to confront her uniqueness.  "Look at yourself."
 "Damn you Delenn!  Look in the mirror!  Open your eyes!"  John's fingers pressed into her creamy skin.  "Look at yourself!  Do you call this the face of a freak?"
 "I am a freak!"
 His grip tightened.  "If I hear you say that again, I will personally kill you!"  Seeing the fear in her eyes, John loosened his grip.  Softly, he slid his hands down her slender throat over her fine-boned.  "I see the most beautiful woman I've ever had the honor of knowing.  Beautiful face, beautiful mouth.  Beautiful.  And your eyes, Delenn."
 God, her eyes!  They were Delenn's ultimate beauty.  Vivid, green, sparkling with compassion and intelligence, showing her soul in all its wonder.  John bent close to her ear.  "Your eyes, Delenn.  They are the windows to your soul.  Delenn, I wish you could see what I see.  I see beauty. Pure, magnificent beauty.  For once, LOOK at yourself and see what I see."
 Delenn's reflection stared back at her.  For once, under John Sheridan's brutal assault on the hate of others, words like "freak" and "hafling bitch" disappeared.  The veil was lifted from her eyes as Delenn gazed upon the creature of the Chrysalis, the daughter of Prophecy, and the child of Valen.
 Her shaking hand reached out to touch her twin's image, tracing each line and plane, touching her face face, her very HUMAN face; a face that looked exactly like John's, the same, yet different.  Her hand moved to trace his reflection, his boyish features in all their human beauty.  "Beautiful."
 His hand was sliding across her cheek.  "Yes.  Beautiful."
 His hand joined hers on the mirror to trace her face.  The faith came back into her heart; the faith of hope and love.  John Sheridan's beautiful human face smiled down at her.