Fandoms: Babylon 5/Scarecrow & Mrs. King
Warnings: Death of Major Character
Spoilers: 1st Half of 3rd Season Babylon 5
Archives: BTR, anyone else, please ask.
Summary: Sheridan comes to understand one of Kosh's statements a little better.
"I have always been." The words echoed in Captain John Sheridan's mind. Kosh had said those words to him not long after saving his life dramatically over the Japanese gardens at the end of 2259, before all hell broke loose with the Shadows. Sheridan reminded the Vorlon ambassador that he'd once said the same thing about Sheridan. All he'd received for his efforts was a typically cryptic and Vorlon answer, "Yes."
John Sheridan wasn't sure what to make of the Vorlons and their mysteries. Even though he'd finally been brought into the fold, as it were, regarding the Rangers and the coming Shadow War, he still heard the words Kosh had said. He couldn't help wondering what it meant that he'd always been. He'd always been...what? The Minbari believed the soul was reborn into future generations and was, for all intents and purposes, immortal and everlasting. It was why they had suddenly surrendered at the Battle of the Line.
They believed Minbari souls were being reborn into human bodies, and Minbari do not kill Minbari. It is their greatest law. Sheridan wasn't sure if he believed that or not. He didn't feel like he was a reborn Minbari soul, whatever that might feel like. He wasn't sure what he believed at the moment - at least where souls were concerned.
"Captain?" A voice broke into his thoughts. "Captain, are you all right?"
Sheridan shook himself out of his thoughts and focused on the voice. "I'm sorry, Susan. What were you saying?"
Commander Susan Ivanova raised an eyebrow at her commanding officer. This wasn't the first time Sheridan's mind had gone wandering. At least this time it was ONLY his mind, and he hadn't taken his body with it. "You want to talk about it?"
"It's nothing, really. Just thinking about something Kosh said."
"Well, that could take a while," Ivanova said with an understanding sigh. "Good luck figuring out the Vorlons."
"Tell me about it." Sheridan's link chimed. He and Ivanova exchanged "what now" looks as the captain tapped his link. "Sheridan. Go."
"Captain, you and Commander Ivanova better get up to CNC quick," the voice of Lieutenant Corwin came. "We've got a problem."
"We're on our way. Sheridan out."
"So what else is new," Ivanova commented as they were on their feet and out the door. Sheridan merely shook his head.
They entered the command center of Babylon 5 to barely controlled chaos. Neither was surprised; that was the way CNC normally ran. Corwin came toward them with a slightly manic look to him that wasn't typical of the young lieutenant. Sheridan and Ivanova went into immediate crisis prevention mode.
"What've we got?"
"Distress call, Captain," Corwin told him. "Sounds bad."
"Let's hear it," Ivanova said, going over to the lip of the communications and sensor pit. She looked down into the competent face of the new com officer. The Earth Force officer met her gaze with level but soulful brown eyes. She'd not had a chance to talk with him much, but he'd proven himself steady in a crisis. He nodded once and pressed a series of commands.
"Please! If anyone can hear us..." The plea was little more than an urgent whisper. "This is Rippy Station. They're killing everyone. We don't know why. We don't have any offensive weapons to speak of. We're not a military base. We don't know how long we can hold out. Help us. Please!"
The transmission ended abruptly. The officer looked at Ivanova and then at Sheridan. "That's all there is. It repeats automatically."
"Rippy Station?" Ivanova asked puzzledly. "Never heard of it."
"It's a listening post and mining facility in Sector 857," Corwin answered. At Ivanova's look, he shrugged. "I looked it up before you got here."
Sheridan was already moving. "Who's closest?"
"We are, Captain," Corwin said, nodding to another officer. "There's no one out that direction. They're on their own."
Sheridan looked over the tactical display and nodded resolutely. "Not anymore. Get Garibaldi and Ambassador Delenn on the link. I want to see them in my office ASAP. Commander, scramble Zeta Squadron. Send them on ahead. We have to know what we're up against."
Ivanova thought she knew where the captain was going with this, but she had to make a point for the benefit of the others. "Captain, Sector 857 is going to be on the edge of Zeta Squadron's resources. They won't have much power left for a fire fight."
"I'm aware of that, Commander," Sheridan answered. "They'll have their reinforcements. They won't be alone, just on site first. Have Delta and Theta Squadrons stand by just in case, but I think we can handle this."
Ivanova nodded once. She didn't have to look to know the orders were already being carried out. She could hear the com officer on the line. Sheridan was already back out the door. Ivanova delayed only long enough to know everything was well in hand.
# # #
Minbari Ambassador Delenn and Security Chief Michael Garibaldi were already waiting when Sheridan blew into his office. Both stopped their respective pacing and turned their attention to the captain. Delenn took a step toward him, starting to reach out.
"John, what is it?"
"How fast is the White Star?"
Delenn was a little taken off guard by the abrupt question. Garibaldi was not. "Faster than anything we've got at the station."
"Then I need her, Delenn, and any and all of the Rangers in the area."
"They're yours, Captain," Delenn answered immediately. She searched his eyes a moment. "But why?"
"A station in Sector 857 is being attacked by unknown hostiles. They've called for help. We're going to give it to them. I've already got Zeta Squadron launching, but they won't be able to stand and fight for long."
"I'll call the Rangers," Garibaldi said, already halfway out the door.
"The White Star is at your disposal, Captain," Delenn told him. "Lennier and I will go with you."
Sheridan pulled up short. "Delenn...no..."
Delenn stopped and looked him squarely in the eye. "You still do not know the Minbari language, John. And though our crew is learning quickly, do you really want to risk a miscommunication in a battle situation?"
Sheridan knew she was right. He'd lost the argument, and he didn't have the time or the heart to pursue it. He nodded and followed her out of the office.
# # #
Ivanova met Delenn's aide, Lennier, on the way to the White Star's bridge. They barely acknowledged each other as they approached. Both knew the importance in hurrying. Sheridan and Delenn were just outside, issuing the last orders. They entered together.
"Zeta Squadron is already launched and in Hyperspace. They could reach Sector 857 within the our. Delta and Theta Squadrons are standing by."
"Any further word from Rippy Station?" Sheridan asked.
"None. We're still trying to get through to them to let them know help is on the way. But nothing. I've left any orders for any contact to be put through to us."
"Thank you, Commander." Sheridan looked around the bridge of the White Star. The crew consisted entirely of Minbari Religious Caste. "Let's do this. Best speed."
Sheridan took the center command seat. Delenn took up a spot on Sheridan's right hand, while Ivanova paced somewhere to the left. Lennier translated his orders almost before they were out of his mouth. Sheridan sat back, content that everything that could be done was being done.
"Bring jump engines on line." Sheridan waited a moment. "Jump."
The White Star leapt into Hyperspace and was gone.
# # #
Ivanova was antsy. There wasn't much for her to do. She wanted to learn more about the White Star, but she'd never had the time or opportunity to learn Minbari. She couldn't even ask to be shown the controls.
On of the Minbari crew noticed her look. He looked around at the rest of the crew going about their business. No one else seemed to notice her longing looks. He gestured to his console. "You want...show you?"
Ivanova was startled. None of the crew had ever spoken to her before, but here was an offer she couldn't, wouldn't, refuse. "Yes. Please."
She came over to the station and met the Minbari's eyes, level but soulful brown eyes. She was struck by not only the strength and compassion in his face, but also the uncanny similarities between him and the com officer in CNC. Maybe Humans and Minbari did have more in common than people thought. She shook herself out of the thought and took a seat by the Minbari.
He looked at her. "You wish...to learn."
"Yes. You know our language?"
"I also...wish to learn. We help...other."
His speech was slow and halting as he struggled to translate his thoughts into a language Ivanova would understand. For her part, Ivanova tried to phrase her questions as simply and carefully as possible, and dutifully repeated the Minbari words that couldn't be translated. It seemed like only a moment had gone by when they were transiting back to normal space and the lesson was over. They'd jumped straight into a war zone.
# # #
The raiders attacking the station were like none they'd ever seen or encountered, nor had they given up. Zeta Squadron was on its last legs. They had only enough power left for another couple minutes of battle and to get home. The White Star was a major relief when they burst from Hyperspace with a contingent of Ranger ships flanking them.
"Captain Sheridan to Zeta Squadron. Good work, guys. Head back to the barn. Repeat. Head back to the barn. You've done enough. We'll take it from here. See you back at home."
"Roger that. Zeta Squadron heading back to the barn."
The Star Furies immediately broke off and headed for the jump gate and home. Sheridan turned his attention back to the battle. "White Star to all ships. Let's clean up this mess."
# # #
The subsequent battle was short, sweet, and definitive. The raiders who survived ran very fast and very far away. They were few and far between. But something puzzled Sheridan. Something wasn't right, and Delenn noticed it.
"What is it, John?"
"They fought this long only to run away now? Why is that?"
"Is it not enough that they are gone?" Delenn asked, knowing the answer.
Sheridan let it go, for now. There were survivors to check for. He left several Ranger ships to patrol the area in case the raiders double backed. The rest went to the surface.
# # #
Rippy Station resembled more a Narn city once the Centauri had gotten through with it than any outpost Sheridan had ever seen.
"Why?" Delenn asked for them all. "What purpose did this destruction serve?"
Sheridan stopped abruptly and held up a hand. "Wait. Listen."
Very, very faintly, they all heard it. A call for help. "There!" Lennier cried, pointing. "It's coming from other there!"
They all hurried across the compound and started moving rubble out of the way. In a moment, they helped two people crawl out of the debris. Delenn and Lennier helped them move out of the way.
"There are others..." one of them gasped.
Before Sheridan could ask where, and ominous sounding rumble gave them just enough warning for most to get out of the way. Sheridan was the last one out and not so lucky. The piece of ceiling caught him just below the base of the neck. The world went dark.
# # #
"Lee? Lee, can you hear me?"
He slowly opened his eyes, wondering who Lee was. Confusion roared in his mind as sound assaulted his ears.
"He's coming around," said another voice.
Bright light was suddenly shined in his eyes. He flinched, trying to get away from the light.
"Good response. He's going to be all right." The speaker was a vaguely familiar looking African American man in a white coat.
"Stephen?" But the man in the white coat didn't respond.
"Shh, Lee, don't try to talk." A woman replaced the man in the white coat. She very thin, dark haired and very, very worried. He felt like he should know her, but when she took his hand, nothing came.
"Delenn?" he asked in a nearly unintelligible mumble, knowing the name wasn't right even as he said it, but not knowing why.
"Lee, it's me, Amanda."
"Amanda." That sounded right, but he still didn't know why.
"Yeah, Lee, I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere," Amanda King said, trying to fight back the tears welling up in her eyes. "Just rest now. You're going to be all right."
"Feels like a building fell on me," he said around a thick, fuzzy tongue.
"It did. The KGB found out about the contact with the defector. They blew up the warehouse. Don't you remember?"
He looked into her dark eyes and wondered about the pain he saw there. Directed at him, why? She knew him. Kept calling him Lee. But something didn't add up, but his brain felt two sizes too big for his skull. It was hard to concentrate.
"It's okay, Lee. It's okay," Amanda repeated over and over. Whether to reassure him or herself, he couldn't tell. "You're going to be all right."
He looked at her again. "You look tired," he managed to say. "Should rest."
"I will. I promise."
Just as he drifted off to sleep, Amanda kissed his hand and laid it down by his side. She waited until he was breathing slowly and regularly before getting up. Just outside the room she ran into Billy Melrose and Francine Desmond.
"Amanda, how's Lee?" Billy asked almost immediately.
"He's regained consciousness. The doctor says he'll be all right now. He's sleeping." Amanda tried hard to control her emotions. She didn't want to break down in front of Billy and Francine, but it was getting harder and harder. She was worn out, and too many emotions rose too quickly. "He doesn't...he doesn't...seem to remember." It was suddenly all too much for her. Nearly uncontrollable sobs racked her frame. Billy turned to Francine, but didn't have to say anything. Even though Francine had had her problems with Amanda in the past, the two women had worked together well in the past couple of years.
Francine put a supportive arm around Amanda and led her away. "Come on, Amanda, let's go get some coffee and talk a bit. Then you're going to get some rest. You're exhausted."
# # #
Over the next weeks, Lee Stetson stepped slowly back into his life. His memory came back fairly quickly. He was able to recognize the people around him and could come up with the right things to say and do at the Agency, but something wasn't quite all there. He noticed Amanda watching him when she thought he wasn't looking. He didn't blame her. There was part of him mind that said he was something more than a secret federal agent. Those were thought and images he kept well hidden, because he was sure on one would understand.
He and Amanda were back at their desks, going over files when Billy called them to his office. He didn't even wait for them to have a seat on the sofa before launching into his news. "We've gotten a solid lead on the guy hired to blow up the warehouse. As we suspected, the KGB couldn't get their hands dirty directly. They hired out." Billy handed them a folder. "Francine is already moving on this with a team. I thought you'd want to be in on this. If you're ready."
"More than ready," Lee responded, going through the minimal information in the folder. There was a bad photo reminiscent of a mug shot and a short list of data. "Morden? Why does that name sound familiar?"
Billy shrugged. "Don't know. He's a new player. Supposed to be from some kind of fringe group. A hired gun. Though he's supposed to have some kind of fanatic ties. Normally hires out the biggest bank account. Seems you were a special case."
"Why? Why would he be after Lee?" Amanda wanted to know.
"That's what we're still trying to figure out," Billy answered. "But it's safe to assume that if we know who this Morden is, then he knows you're still alive. He'll probably come after you again. I don't want you left alone..."
"Oh, come on, Billy," he protested. "I don't need baby sitters. I can take care of myself..."
"No arguments, Scarecrow," Billy replied in his best directorial tone. "You may be one of the best agents I've got, but I'm not going to let your stubborn pride get you killed. We're putting a team on you, and that's that. For some reason this guy is coming after you, and I'm not going to let him have you. We've got a safehouse set up for you. Take Amanda with you. If you're a target, she may be, too."
That simple statement brought them both up short. Lee and Amanda looked at each other in shock. Neither had considered the possibility of Amanda being a target. Billy knew it was the right card to play to get Lee to cooperate. They'd kept it very quiet, but he saw the relationship brewing there, and wished them all the luck with it.
"We'll go," Lee replied, almost like a surrender.
"The sooner the better," Bill agreed.
Lee and Amanda nodded resolutely before leaving. Lee took the folder with him. Billy watched them go. "Good luck."
# # #
Lee paced the safehouse. It wasn't much. A modest, anonymous tract house in a modest, anonymous housing development. Amanda came out of the kitchen with a tray.
"I made sandwiches. I thought you might be hungry," she said, setting the tray on a coffee table and retreating a few feet away. "And before you say you're not hungry, I know you haven't eaten all day, and if you don't eat, how do you expect to figure out what this Morden guy is up to?"
Amanda stopped to take a breath. Lee held up a hand to stop her. His other hand snagged a sandwich. "You're right, Amanda. All right? You're right."
"Okay, then." Amanda stood there, arms crossed and waited until Lee had eaten most of the sandwich. It was the maternal instinct combined with the suspicion of being a federal agent that wanted to make sure he actually ate. Lee grinned at her. One of the first in a long time. Amanda visibly relaxed and smiled shyly back.
"You should eat, too, Amanda," he told her, holding out another sandwich.
She came across the room slowly and reached out for the sandwich. Lee had other ideas. He grabbed her hand and pulled her to him. "I'm sorry," he whispered in her hair. "I'm so sorry."
Amanda didn't answer right away, but when she did, it was to say, "I was so scared."
He stroked her hair and realized she was trembling, and commented on it.
"I can't help it," she said into his chest. "First that strange call. Then the explosion. You were unconscious for so long. Then when you came to, you didn't seem to remember anything... or me."
"I could never forget you, Amanda. Never you. I'm sorry I frightened you..."
"How very touching," another voice sneered.
Lee and Amanda turned to see a dark haired, dark suited man standing in the doorway. There was something sinister and slimy about him. Lee pushed Amanda behind him. "Mr. Morden, I presume."
"You're a very hard man to track down, Mr Stetson," the other man replied. "In any lifetime."
"How did you find us?"
"I have some very resourceful...associates." Morden pulled out a small electronic device. "But this time, *I* win. And no one will be the wiser, I'll just fade into the shadows."
"Freeze, Morden!" Francine's voice cut across the silence following his statement.
"Francine, no!" Lee countered. "He's wired!"
Morden smiled a slow, lazy, smile as he half turned and spread his hands, revealing the device.
"He won't blow himself up," Francine snorted.
"Why are you doing this?" Amanda demanded. "What has Lee done to you?"
"He has always been," Morden replied with a dramatic pause. "A pain in my associates' butts. That is enough." He looked straight into Lee's eyes. "You can't have light without darkness."
Lee saw Morden's thumb move on the device. He shoved Amanda down on the floor and shouted a warning to Francine. She and her team dove for cover. Lee leapt for Morden. His eyes flared briefly. "Boom."
There was no explosion, at least not like they were expecting. Just a small pop. Lee Stetson looked down and saw holes in both his and Morden's abdomens. They both slid to the floor. Amanda scrambled to Lee's side, screaming his name. Francine called frantically for a medical team.
He looked up into her eyes. "I love you, Amanda. I've always loved you."
"I love you, too, Scarecrow," Amanda choked out. "Hold on, Lee, help's on the way. Hold on."
"I have. I have held the line... against the darkness." He coughed, and blood spurted from his wound. He grabbed Amanda's hand. "He...he was...wrong."
"What?" Amanda asked through freely flowing tears. "What was he wrong about?"
Lee struggled for breath. "You can...have light....without...darkness..." He gasped. "Fight...the darkness...Amanda..."
Then the lights went out in Lee Stetson's eyes.
# # #
John Sheridan was nearly blinded by the light shining his eyes.
"Welcome back, Captain," Doctor Stephen Franklin said, coming into his line of vision. "You had us all pretty worried."
"A building fell on you," Franklin answered. He glanced to the side. "He's going to be all right now."
Sheridan looked where Franklin did and saw a very worried looking Delenn. Though for a moment, another woman's imaged seemed superimposed on hers. The name Amanda floated through his mind, but he knew it wasn't right.
Delenn came over and took Sheridan's hand. "I'm here, John."
"Delenn. You can have light...without...the darkness." He said it without knowing why.
"Yes." The word came with the musical chimes associated with Kosh's translator.
Sheridan turned his head to see the familiar encounter suit. "It wasn't a dream."
"I have always been."
"I still don't fully understand."
Sheridan and Delenn watched Kosh leave. Delenn looked at Sheridan, puzzlement replacing fear and worry. "What was that all about?"
"I'll tell you when I've figure it out. Did we get them all?"
Delenn smiled. "Yes, John. We have all the survivors, and a few surviving raiders. But that too can wait until you're better." Delenn pulled up a chair and sat, never once relinquishing her hold on his hand. "Now who exactly is this Amanda person?"