Lessons by sidewinder

This story tales place sometime following the episode "Soul Mates"

(c) Copyright 1997 by sidewinder. All Rights Reserved.

Commander Susan Ivanova had simply not been having a good day. Not that it was unusual when you were second-in-command on Babylon 5, but today had certainly been a prime example of chaos in action.

It had gotten off to a bad start when she'd slept right through her 0600 alarm. She'd rushed to work without the benefit of a single cup of even bad imitation coffee and spent all morning arguing with enraged freighter captains after traffic had been temporarily halted due to a bomb threat. But no boom that morning, thankfully, except for the booms in her head from a pounding, caffeine-deprivation headache.

She'd then missed lunch and spent the afternoon uncomfortably stiff in her dress uniform, showing around a visiting EarthForce dignitary and doing her best to convince him of the importance of supporting the Babylon 5 project, despite growing doubts back home. She had thought everything was going well--until he'd decided it was necessary to make a pass at her. She'd almost wished the station had gone boom at that point--or at least the dignitary's transport shuttle. With him in it, preferably.

After that, a meeting with the League Ambassadors had gone equally poorly. Londo and G'Kar had continued to appear short inches from killing each other at the first possible chance and agreed on nothing, even if just for spite. Sheridan had huffed and puffed and could get through neither of their thick alien skulls. All the while, Delenn had said little and Kosh even less.

By 1900 hours, Susan couldn't wait to get back to her quarters for some peace and quiet. She thought of dropping by to see Talia, but it turned out the woman was unavailable due to a conference off-station. She wouldn't be back for another three days. Just Susan's luck. She contented herself instead with a quick dinner in the cafeteria and a browse through the station bookstore, looking for some other means of escape for a while.

A litany of messages waited for her in her quarters, all arriving between the time she'd gone off duty and grabbed her quick meal, and none of which she had the least desire to deal with. Maybe she should ask to be demoted back down to a lieutenant commander, she wondered, solely for her peace of mind. She skimmed the messages quickly and decided they could wait until tomorrow morning--EarthForce wasn't paying her enough to work overtime on diplomatic concerns.

With a sigh she dropped her link off on the coffee table and slipped out of her uniform and into something decidedly more comfortable. She settled down on her sofa with the book she'd purchased in one hand and a short shot of vodka in the other. A few hours of peace and quiet, that's all I want, she thought to herself, opening the book to the first page . . .

Just as her comlink went off.

She froze for a moment, wondering if she could just ignore it. It went off again.

Oh, go away, who ever you are, just go away. Don't make me have to hunt you down and kill you.

It went off a third time.

There is no God, she knew for certain at that moment. And duty finally won. She reached over to the table and barked into the device, "What is it?"

"Commander Ivanova, incoming personal message from Ambassador Delenn."

Susan blinked and wondered what was up. She supposed she really had better answer it--it wasn't good form to put off someone as important as the Minbari Ambassador. Getting up with no small effort, she stumbled towards the visual screen and ordered, "All right, patch it through." This had better be good . . .

A few seconds later, the Babcom logo on the screen was replaced by an image of Delenn's face. "Commander, I hope I am not disturbing you," the ambassador began politely.

Well, actually...Susan bit back her immediate response and replied with all the decorum she could muster, "No, not at all. Is something wrong, Ambassador?"
Delenn looked troubled; she wasn't very good at hiding emotional responses. "I...I'm not sure, actually. There is something I would like to discuss with you, if I could have a few minutes of your time."

"Uh, I'll need a few minutes to get dressed," Susan replied, glancing down at her well-worn slippers and simple pajamas.

"I can come by your quarters, if it is easier for you. I do not wish to disturb you. If it is a bad time, I will--"

"No, really, no problem," Susan found herself saying despite her weariness. She liked Delenn. The Minbari woman's recent transformation has revealed a new side to her personality--a softer, more vulnerable side. More...well, human. Susan didn't doubt this call must have something to do with that, some new "human problem" Delenn was hoping Susan could help explain. Maybe Delenn could provide a little bit of that company she had been hoping to find with Talia that evening.

Delenn managed a controlled smile and answered, "Thank you, Susan. I shall see you shortly." With that reply the screen returned to the BabCom logo.

Susan wondered what this new problem was and hoped it would be less awkward to explain than those "strange cramps" Delenn had first experienced a few weeks ago. That had made the hair-care crisis seem like child's play.

This could be worse than the cramps, though. Just in case, Susan decided she'd better go for a second shot of the vodka before Delenn arrived.

"Commander, thank you again for seeing me tonight." Delenn entered Susan's quarters, dressed in her traditional multi-layered, exquisitely tailored robes. Her appearance was, as usual, completely composed, almost regal. Absolutely perfect. Being in Delenn's presence always demanded a certain level of formality and precision in return.

Susan felt completely underdressed, still in just her simple pajamas. She hadn't felt the need to change, as Delenn had offered to come to her, but now she felt a little rude because of her lack of preparation. "Please, come in. Can I get you something to drink?"

Delenn primly sat at the far end of the sofa, hands folded in her lap. She glanced curiously at the glass in the commander's hand. "What is that, what you are drinking?"

"This?" Susan chuckled. "The old Russian standby--vodka, straight up. I usually save it for the end of a long day, and today certainly qualified. I'm not sure you'd appreciate it, but I do have some orange juice, makes it a little more palatable."

"Actually, thank you, but I do not require anything to drink. I appreciate your courtesy and your time. I know how busy you already are, and I do not like having to burden you with more...problems." Delenn's eyelids fluttered, and she looked across at Susan uncomfortably. Fussing with the sleeve of her robe, she continued speaking. "I fear, however, that you are the only person I feel comfortable talking to about certain...personal matters. There are few I can trust here, and even fewer whom I trust that are human and that I can discuss these matters with."

Susan appreciated the statement of trust and tried to lighten Delenn's mood. "Well, you know, every woman needs someone for girl talk."

"Girl talk?" Delenn questioned, her head cocked slightly.

Susan struggled to find a proper explanation. "You know...like, when you're young, you talk about all the boys you're interested in, the women you want to grow up and be like on the vidshows... And when you get older, you sit around and complain about what jerks all men are over a pint of double chocolate ice cream and...I don't suppose that's something that's part of Minbari culture, huh."

"I think, perhaps, Minbari women are some what more...reserved, less likely to indulge in this 'girl talk' as you describe it. But I do believe I understand what you are saying," Delenn finished with a soft smile.

"Good. Okay." Susan finished off the last of the vodka and wondered when Delenn was going to drop the big one. She looked about as uncomfortable and uptight as Susan had ever seen her. Much worse than the hair disaster. "So, what is it you wanted to talk to me about," Susan prodded gently.

Delenn looked back and forth between Susan and the table. Then Susan and the floor. She opened her mouth slightly to begin to speak, then stopped. She rose from the sofa, the folds of her long robe covering her delicate frame as she crossed her arms, walking about in obvious distress. "I...oh, I fear this is more trying than anything I have encountered so far since undergoing my transformation. And it is...terribly difficult to discuss." She brought her fist to her mouth with a frown, as if it were wrong to even speak of her problem.

Oh, boy, Susan thought. She was glad she'd gone for the second shot.

Delenn turned away and busied herself picking up a small glass sculpture from Susan's bookshelf, looking at it from different angles. Susan could see her hand trembling slightly with nervousness as her fingers followed the soft curves of the glass. "I am not even sure how to begin to describe this, because, for a Minbari, matters relating to...sexuality," the word came out barely above a whisper, "...are not spoken about freely. It is only something to discuss once a woman has chosen her mate, and studied and contemplated her choice carefully. Every step of the process is controlled, planned carefully. Rituals define each moment within well-established limits, until such time as a union is declared complete. And after such time, all problems relating to sexuality are considered the private affairs of a woman, her mate, and their Cul'c'ta."

"Cul'c'ta?" Susan tried to repeat.

"The Cul'c'ta is a member of a specific order of the Minbari religious caste, primarily devoted to aiding in the practices of spiritual bonding and understanding through..."

"...Sex," Susan supplied for her. "I think I get the idea." Minbari sex therapists, well, that was a new one. Who said you didn't learn something interesting every day on the job around here.

Delenn finally put the sculpture down and returned to the sofa. She managed to sit a little closer to Susan this time. "Susan...all my life, because of my calling to the religious caste and my related duties, such concerns have been as far from my thoughts as possible. I was content with the knowledge that someday, once I had completed my studies and obtained my final position in my caste, I would consider my choices for finding a mate.

"But now, since my transformation," Delenn looked down at the floor again, her cheeks flushed in embarrassment. "I find myself...thinking about such things, and with increasing frequency. These...strange urges and thoughts sometimes consume me; it is a most alien feeling, one that I can only put down to my current partially human condition. Even in my dreams, I find myself in situations that I do not understand...particularly my unwarranted reaction to them." Her cheeks grew even redder, very pronounced against her fair skin.

Oooooh, boy, Susan thought again, her eyes widening slightly as Delenn just continued.

"...I have tried deep meditation, tried to understand why sometimes I should be so preoccupied with strong, purely physical desires..."

"In other words, you're feeling horny," Susan interrupted bluntly, getting the point clear enough by now.

Delenn looked at Susan quizzically, obviously trying to assimilate the new word into her vocabulary. "'Horny?' I do not believe I have heard that word before. 'Horny'," she repeated with a slight frown.

"Basically it means you've got a bad case of sexual frustration," Susan supplied. "Just what you described--at least, I think that's what you described."

"Ah," Delenn nodded seriously. "Then, this is a well-known human condition?"

Susan couldn't help but laugh. "Oh, you could certainly say that."

"Then, there are ways I can deal with this condition?"

"Um...well, yeah," Susan stammered. I could really use another shot of that vodka right about now. "It's a, um...well, there are a few ways to deal with it, I guess. You could always, you know, take matters into your own hands..." Susan said, trying not to blush. This conversation could turn into a competition as to who could get more red in the face, she supposed.

Delenn just stared at her blankly, forcing her to continue. "As in . . . you could, you know..." Susan paused, hoping Delenn understood what she was saying. She obviously didn't. "It's sort of like...like a massage, but not quite. You do it to yourself, you know, where you feel the focus of the...the ah, tension."

"Massage," Delenn mused for a moment, nodding her head. "Yes, massage is a common technique among the Minbari for relieving various afflictions. Yet I do not believe we have anything specific for this frankly perplexing human condition. Could you demonstrate this technique for me?" Delenn asked eagerly.

Susan's eyes went even wider. Delenn finally seemed to sense just how uncomfortable Susan was growing with this situation. "I'm sorry, I probably have just asked you something very offensive."

"No, no," Susan tried to ease Delenn's thoughts. "It's all right, it's just our points of reference are completely different." She tried a smile to ease the ambassador's mind. Delenn gave a relieved smile back. Truth of the matter was, Delenn was an incredibly beautiful woman, and the whole situation and conversation were suddenly making her not the only one that evening feeling a little horny.

Daringly, Susan continued, "I could show you, Delenn...if you really want me to. If you feel comfortable with the idea, it might...I don't know if it would be considered a proper thing based on what you've told me of Minbari culture."

"If it is something you can share with me, yes, please. I think I...I think I would like that very much."

Well, this was certainly turning into an interesting evening, Susan thought, quickly trying to figure out the best way to handle the situation at hand. "Okay then, well." She stood up, took a deep breath, and suggested, "It's best if we--you--can get comfortable, so let's move to the bedroom, okay?" Delenn only paused for a second before rising and following behind Susan.

Susan's pulse was quickening. She had no idea how this was going to go, or how far. She sat down on the edge of the bed, and Delenn followed suit. Delenn looked at her expectantly and said, "Now you can demonstrate for me?"

"Well, ah, you're going to have to--it will be easiest if you undress first, I'm afraid."

"Ah." Delenn nodded, only looking briefly distressed. "Completely?"

"'Fraid so. Listen, if you're uncomfortable, maybe we should--"

"No. No, that is fine. As I said, I trust you, Susan." The last words were spoken as Delenn held Susan's gaze firmly for the first time that evening. Susan suddenly ached to reach out and kiss her; she felt the slightest hint in her mind that perhaps she was not alone in that response. But her psi abilities were not that well developed to be sure she was reading Delenn correctly.

Delenn finally looked away and got up from the bed, but she did not move away from it as she undressed. Slowly and very carefully, she undid the fastens on the first, outer garment. Susan watched the deliberate process in fascination and with increasing desire. The long vest-like piece was folded and placed neatly onto a chair next to the bed. Then Delenn began on the robe, the spacious, luminescent folds dropping slowly off the petite woman's body. Beneath it she wore just a simple, shear white slip that clung to her perfect frame. It somehow seemed a much racier garment than Susan would expect a Minbari to wear, even as lingerie.

Delenn was turned away from Susan as she first stepped out of her slippers, and then, finally, lifted the slip over her head, her pale body now fully revealed. Susan fully appreciated the rear view she was treated to--the elegant curve of Delenn's back, down to the gentle roundness of her cheeks. Her long brown hair fell over her shoulders and her back, pouring forth from the crown-like bone on her head. It was a stunning sight.

A moment's pause passed before she turned back to face Susan. Delenn's expression was of uncertainty, but Susan felt only growing lust. There was nothing alien about Delenn's body, except in its perfection. "Am I now ready to learn?" Delenn asked Susan.

Oh yeah, is she ever. Susan nodded and managed to find her voice long enough to say, "Just lie down, and I can show you."

Delenn did as she was told, her arms stiffly at her sides. "Just try to relax, close your eyes," Susan urged, and Delenn nodded. She was breathing deeply, rhythmically. Her chest rose and fell, and Susan could barely take her eyes off Delenn's lovely breasts. "Are you feeling that...that feeling now?" Susan asked. She knew she was.

Delenn exhaled a deep breath and nodded. Susan reached out now, gently, her hand falling lightly on Delenn's soft stomach. She felt muscles tense for a moment at the touch and then relaxing as her hand moved in gentle, caressing circles. Delenn's skin was so soft, pale, like a newborn. She was, in a sense, newly born into this half-human body. The skin felt like silk under Susan's fingertips. Susan smiled as her continued actions began to elicit a definite response from Delenn, particularly as her hand began to move slightly lower, just above Delenn's softly-furred mound. Delenn let out a muted, surprised moan and opened her eyes wide. "Susan...I am afraid that my condition is only growing more...severe under your attention."

"Don't worry, it will get better," Susan promised. "It just needs to be...stimulated a bit first." She let the tips of her fingers glide down and brush against the pink lips of Delenn's pussy. Delenn breathed in deeply, a definite shudder passing through her body. Susan's own excitement was only made worse as she parted the lips slightly and felt the warm, slick wetness awaiting her touch. She let her fingers glide gently into them as she soothed, "Just relax, give in to the feeling. Let yourself go..."

Her index finger slid just into Delenn's tight opening, eliciting a louder moan this time. But Susan was only teasing her, warming her up. Not that it seemed Delenn needed much coaxing at this point. Susan couldn't resist it now. She leaned down close so her mouth could close around one of Delenn's perfect, pink nipples. It stiffened quickly in her mouth as Delenn arched up, only causing Susan to allow her finger probe in deeper, to get all slick and warm with Delenn's juices. Her tongue flicked and circled around the delicious nipple as she sucked it tenderly. She let go only to taste the other one, to make sure it wasn't neglected any attention. Delenn's excitement was beginning to overpower Susan's even weak psi powers, making her own need worsen. She finally slid her finger up and right against Delenn's clit. Delenn cried out, calling Susan's name as she clutched at the woman, trying to escape the her demanding touch and presence. Within moments Delenn's body shook with a wave of convulsions. Susan could barely let go of the soft, wonderful mound in her mouth; she wanted it so badly herself as she felt an echo of Delenn's orgasm in her mind. But she finally released Delenn, who lay gasping, her pale skin flushed deeply, her face, even her chest.

"Oh...Susan..." Delenn turned to look at her now, eyes wide with wonder.

"Feeling better?" Susan asked, unable to contain a smile.

"Yes...yes, I think so..." Delenn replied softly, still trying to catch her breath. It took her a few minutes to begin to collect herself, to begin to try to analyze her reaction. "I certainly think so. I was not expecting such a strong...release. It was...is...very satisfying."

"Hm, no kidding," Susan mused. Delenn was still looking at her, oddly now. "What? Is something wrong?"

"No, I was just wondering if...perhaps...I could practice this new technique. I want to make sure I understand its...correct application. Would you be..."

"--Absolutely," Susan replied quickly, before Delenn might change her mind. With much less care and ritual than Delenn, she unbuttoned her top and tossed it aside. She stood up for a minute to yank down her bottoms, her underwear, and then she laid down on the bed next to Delenn.

Delenn sat up to take in the sight of Susan's body fully. She looked her up and down, obviously fascinated. She let Delenn take her time, even though the need and anticipation was almost too much. Delenn's hand came softly against Susan's stomach, caressing it lightly, then the hand came up to Susan's chest, fingertips brushing against her nipples with agonizing tenderness. Susan arched back and sighed.

"Am I pleasing you, Susan?" Delenn asked.

"Mmm..." Susan managed in response, closing her eyes and letting her mind tune out everything except Delenn's touch, her presence. She moaned deeply as Delenn suddenly leaned down and let her lips brush one of Susan's nipples. That long, soft hair fell against her bare skin as Delenn imitated Susan's previous actions.
Susan reached up to touch Delenn, to run her fingers along the hard curve of the alien headbone. That seemed to stimulate Delenn's actions, her hand gliding down between Susan's legs. Delenn's fingers explored the hot, wet area of Susan's sex, circling around her small but so very sensitive clit.

Susan was lost in the feelings, Delenn's exquisite touch. She came easily--too easily; she wanted to linger on the edge of the orgasm forever but its force could not be denied. She pulled Delenn to her wanting to finally feel her naked body pressed to her completely. Delenn did not resist, but merely looked expectantly into Susan's eyes. Susan pulled Delenn just a little bit closer, close enough to catch her mouth in a kiss. She needed to taste Delenn's mouth, to make the encounter complete, to show Delenn how well she had taken to her lesson in human "massage."

Delenn responded gently, her body beginning to relax against Susan, but then...something seemed to stop her, to cause her to draw away. She had that worried look on her face again, almost the same one she'd had when she first arrived at Susan's door than evening.

"Delenn?" Susan asked as the ambassador suddenly rolled off of Susan and got up from the bed.

"I...I think I should be leaving now, Susan," she replied, her voice tight. She quickly went to retrieve her clothes and began dressing, with much less care than she had removed the garments. She was rushing so badly she was fumbling with her clasps.

Susan wanted to say something to stop her but couldn't think of what to do. She could read Delenn's response, she believed--Delenn was frightened by what had happened, now that the heat of the moment was passed. "Delenn, I--" she began.

"Susan, thank you for the instruction, it was most...intriguing. Now, I do not wish to bother you any longer. Good evening."

Susan couldn't even catch Delenn's eyes before the ambassador had spun around and took off quickly to the other room. Seconds later Susan heard the door slide open and shut.

Susan scratched her head, and tried to digest what had just transpired. Minbari...Ivanova, you can't even keep your love-life together when you stick with humans--forget trying to figure out the Minbari!

With a long sigh she fell back on the bed and ordered the lights off. It took her a very long time to fall asleep.

The following day passed without incident for Susan, and without any encounters or word from Delenn. The commander grew worried she had seriously overstepped her bounds as an EarthForce officer supposedly learning the ropes of diplomacy--never mind taking advantage of Delenn's uncertainties about her current identity and needs. Damn her own horniness for overriding common sense!

The next day was equally quiet, with only some minor docking-order conflicts to be settled with some arriving Centauri and Drazi freighters in the morning. Susan was growing increasingly worried about Delenn and what had happened. Captain Sheridan seemed to catch notice of Susan's distraction by the afternoon, and he asked her if she was feeling all right. She answered him simply, "Just some personal matters on my mind. I'm sorry."

"That's all right, Susan. You know, why don't you take the rest of the afternoon off."

"Sir?" Susan blinked.

"Listen, it's a quiet day, and you look like you could use a little rest. My grandfather used to say, 'A good soldier is one who sits when told to stand, and lies down when told to sit'."

Susan thought about that and frowned. "If you don't mind me asking, what the hell does that mean, sir?"

"Erm, well...what I think it means--he never really explained--is that you should take advantage of a moment's pause when it comes your way. We might get another fiasco like two days ago tomorrow."

The captain grinned and Susan smiled in return. It still felt good having her old friend John stationed here now--they understood each other perfectly. "Understood. And thanks, I think I could use some time to sort this out."

"Anytime." The captain's eyes followed her as she left the bridge, then he returned to his post, still smiling.

Susan took advantage of her surprise holiday by indulging in a treat at the Zocalo's caffhouse--a double mochachino, without sparing the whipped cream. She was contemplating exactly how and if she should go talk to Delenn when the ambassador solved her problem for her. Sometimes it could be a very small station.

"Commander, I was hoping I might find you around here--Captain Sheridan informed me you were off-duty, and that you had a strong fondness for this 'coffee' beverage and often took your breaks here." Delenn stood before Susan's table, dressed in a deep blue robe with magenta and silver trim. She looked as beautiful as always. "May I join you?"

"Please." She waited until Delenn sat down to continue. "Actually, I was hoping to talk to you today as well." Susan stopped as Delenn looked to her, completely blanking now on what she should say. Then they both began speaking at once.


"Delenn, I--"

They both stopped, then Susan jumped in quickly to continue, "I wanted to apologize for the other night. I'm afraid I took advantage of your trust in me."

"Actually, Susan, I wanted to find you to apologize to you. I should not have run out so quickly, without explaining. I am afraid I gave you the wrong impression of how I was feeling. You cannot understand what it is like...when a lifetime of beliefs, of training, teaches you how you should feel... And then your mind, your spirit...suddenly everything is in conflict. Though I had not been able to admit as much to myself at the time, nothing happened the other night that...I did not desire to happen. And it only confirmed to me just how deeply changed I am from the person I used to be...the Minbari I used to be. That is what truly scared me. Not what happened with you."

A wave of relief flooded through Susan's mind. "I understand. No hard feelings?"

Delenn gave her that quizzical look again. "'Hard feelings'? As opposed to 'soft' feelings? I don't..."

"Another human phrase, I guess--it means, things are okay between us. No one has to apologize for anything now."

"Ah, I see. Yes, no 'hard feelings', Susan." Delenn smiled, and suddenly there was an almost mischievous twinkle in her eyes. "Now, did you have any particular plans this evening? I was wondering if we could share some more of this 'girl talk' as you described it--I am most curious to learn more about the social habits of human women. In return, perhaps I could share some Minbari...massage techniques, you might find them most...interesting."

Susan laughed. "I can't think of a better way to spend tonight, actually."

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