Lost in the peaceful land of slumber, snuggled warmly
beneath the thick comforter, John Sheridan had not a
care in the world until his bed was jostled roughly
and he felt a weight press down upon his chest. A
moment later the small, chipper, cheery voice of his
four-year-old son drew him out of his dreams and into
the harsh reality of parenthood. "Daddy I hungry,
what's for breakfast?"
He groaned trying to force his eyes open despite the
weariness pulling at his frame. Rubbing his hand
across his face, he blinked, seeing the smiling tow
haired boy watching him with an inquisitive stare.
"Breakfast?" he mumbled as his brain tried to remember
exactly what the definition of that word was.
"Uh-huh, I hungry," David repeated as if that
"Hmmm… what time is it?" John grunted turning his
head toward the clock as David proceeded to sit his
small frame across his father's stomach.
"Morning," David responded reaching out and taking
his cheeks between his hands. "I hungry," he said yet
again as he forced his father to focus on him and him
alone. "Fix me breakfast."
As his eyes registered the clock blinking 0645, John
couldn't help but grin as his young son yet again
demanded his attention and food. "I don't suppose it
matters that I just fell asleep two hours ago, huh?"
he asked the small boy absently. "Breakfast… okay, I
can do this…"
Grabbing his son up, John rolled over quickly,
pinning him to the bed as he started tickling, chewing
on David's belly where it stuck out from the shirt of
his pajama's riding up. "I'm going to have you for
breakfast!" he growled laughing.
"No, no, no!" David shrieked pushing his face away.
Laughing they tousled around for several minutes until
the boy was laughing so hard John didn't think he was
ever going to stop, and the bedcovers had found their
way to the floor, pooled in a puddle along the side.
"How did you get out of your bed?" John asked smiling
when he finally allowed David to come up for air and
scurry away to the other side of the bed out of his
"Climbed," David said proudly, jumping to his feet
and proceeding to use the mattress of his father's bed
like a trampoline.
John smiled allowing him to pounce upon the mattress
for a few moments before his parental instincts kicked
in. "Stop that before you land wrong and end up on
your head in the floor," he scolded lightly. "You know
what your mother said about jumping on the bed."
"She says no, no, no," David answered, continuing his
jumping throughout his comment. "I not suppose to jump
on the bed."
"Then stop doing it son," John pressed with a sigh,
holding out his hand.
"Mommy not here," David protested vaulting out of his
father's reach as John tried to physically still his
"What am I, chop liver? Stop bouncing," his father
commanded sternly. "Good lord, it's too early in the
morning for calisthenics."
"You make breakfast now?" David asked plopping down
on the bed as John leaned forward, placing his feet on
the floor and rubbed his face roughly.
"Yes, I'll make breakfast now," he agreed, nodding
his head though he didn't raise it from the cradle of
his hands. "Let me go to the bathroom and I'll be in
there in just a second. I need to wake up here."
David grinned, pouncing on his unsuspecting father's
back, catching John off guard for a moment and
producing a hearty grunt from his body as the boy
wrapped his arms around his neck. "Piggy back ride
Daddy! Give me piggy back ride!"
John shifted upright; snaking his arm behind him to
catch the boy's weight and keep him from tumbling head
over heels across his shoulder onto the floor beneath
from his momentum. "Good lord DJ, you trying to kill
me this morning?" he asked smiling as he held the boy
in place. "Let Daddy wake up before you attack me like
"You started it," David said nearly choking him with
his grip. "You tickled first."
"Yeah, I did," John conceded, trying to release the
death grip David had on his throat with one hand,
while the other kept the boy close to his back when he
stood. "You paid me back. We're even. Hell with your
chipper attitude this morning, I say you win in my
books, how's that?" he asked teasingly as he moved
toward the bathroom.
"I win!" David yelled triumphantly, causing John's
ears to ring.
"And now Daddy's deaf," he muttered bending at the
waist to deposit the small boy on the floor beside
him, before running a quick finger into his ear and
giving it a shake. "Do you need to go to the
bathroom?" he asked.
"Are you sure?" he repeated, knowing that despite the
fact that David had been potty trained for over a
year, he still had early morning accidents if they
didn't remind him to go.
"Sure," he answered with a nod.
"Okay," John said with a bit of trepidation as he
gave the young boy one more look before turning to the
mirror and sink below it. "Just remember if you feel
the urge, don't hesitate to come in here. We don't
want an accident like the other morning, right?" He
asked turning on the water and cupping his hands
"Right, no accidents," David agreed, applying his
weight to the short stool that sat across the room and
quickly began to push it to the sink. It's scraping
and grinding across the floor echoed through the room
before he reached his destination. He scampered up the
two small steps and planted himself on the large top
section, leaning his belly across the sink basin
mimicking John's actions by cupping his hands and
filling them with water.
John watched him out of the corner of his eyes,
fighting the smile that crept to his features as he
brought the water up and splashed it on his face, then
repeated the process twice more, rubbing his face
briskly. David did the same, closing his eyes at the
last minute, the trivial amount he was able to keep in
his palms kissing the tip of his chin and lower lip
before he dropped his hands to follow his father's
movements to a tee.
John grinned then coughed to cover his expression as
he reached out and handed David his toothbrush and
carefully applied a bit of paste on the end before
preparing his as well. "Remember the back teeth," he
said simply, nodding to his son as he began to brush
his own teeth.
"Uuukay," David managed around the paste as he worked
diligently into his mouth with the brush, eyes locked
on the tall form of his father.
John leaned forward after a moment and gently
spit into the sink when he saw his son's mouth
starting to look like a rapid dog's on the last leg of
it's journey. David had white paste drooling down his
chin and lips, threatening to splatter across his
pajama shirt if something wasn't soon done with it
other than it hanging like an icicle from his mouth.
Mirroring his father as John knew he would, David
leaned forward and did the same, smiling his toothy,
white gooey smile.
John nodded his approval and continued for a few
moments more before he washed off his toothbrush and
reached for the cup sitting near the faucet. He
quickly cleaned his mouth out then handed the cup to
his son and retrieved the sticky toothbrush from
David's grasp. Wiping his mouth with the towel, he
smiled as David leaned over the sink, precariously
balancing his form on the edge to drool the water from
him mouth into the small drain hole, giggling as it
"All rinsed?" he asked after a moment.
David nodded, sliding his feet back to the stool, his
small hands fumbling with the cup to place it back in
its spot. "Uh-huh, see…" He proudly displayed his now
clean, sparkling teeth to his father with a big, over
"Good job." Wiping David's face with the end of the
towel, John reached over and opened the small linen
closet and drew out a washcloth, wetting it until the
stream of water. "Now let's see about getting that
face of yours washed."
"How come?" David asked cocking his head.
John frowned as he wrung out the rag. "How come what?
You always wash your face in the morning."
"Already did," David protested.
This made John smile. "Well I think you might have
missed a spot or two," he commented, reaching out to
pick the boy up and deposit him on his butt on the
edge of the sink.
"How can you tell? Tal'maulk make me take a bath fore
I go to bed, I not dirty," he stated innocently.
"It helps to wake you up," John returned wiping his
"I'm already awake," David retorted from beneath the
cloth, squirming slightly against his father's
"How about because Mommy said so?" John suggested.
This stilled David for a moment. He blinked and
looked up at his father as John quickly finished his
task. "How she gonna know? She not here. I not tell
her," he said smiling.
John grunted. "Trust me little man, she'll know.
Mommy knows everything."
"Yep, she does. She knows everything," he agreed.
John laughed, dropping the wash rag into the sink as
he bent and delivered a soft kiss on his son's
forehead. "All done," he announced, picking him up and
sliding him to the floor.
"You not shave this morning?" David asked in
surprise, pointing to John's face as Sheridan reached
for his robe hanging on the hook beside the door.
"Not this morning little man. I thought we'd just
spend the day together doing whatever you want to do.
I don't have to shave for that do I?" he questioned
giving David a smile as he drew the robe around his
"No… I wanted to shave," David pouted, crossing his
arms over his chest.
John laughed, ruffling his hair. After David had
turned three, they had started their morning ritual of
sharing the bathroom. Everything John did, his son
thought he should do as well and so John had hunted
down a small plastic razor that looked very similar to
what he used and presented it to David so they could
share that task as well. It always tickled him to
watch David smear the tiny bit of cream across his
puffy baby cheeks and look so intently into the mirror
as he scraped it off. "You can shave tomorrow big man,
I thought you were hungry."
"Breakfast!" David announced, quickly pulled from his
displeasure into delight at the mention of food. He
bolted from the room and tore through the bedroom and
out the door, disappearing down the long hallway even
before John realized what had happened.
Laughing John followed in his wake at a slower pace,
one more dignified for that of the President of the
Alliance and found his son crawling into a chair in
the large kitchen area of the complex. "I want
Kal'main," David announced loudly.
"You do?" John said in surprise.
"Uh-huh, that's my favorite."
He frowned, reaching into the cabinet nearby and drew
down a small container and bowl. "How about cereal?"
he suggested hopefully, opening the container and
pouring the bowl full.
David wrinkled up his nose. "That's not what mom
"Well mom's not here. You're stuck with dad and dad
makes cereal." A quick step to the cold unit and John
reappeared at the table and poured a good helping of
milk over the dull brown contents.
"That's gross," David protested shaking his head.
"Call Tal'maulk. I want breakfast."
He sighed, eyeing his son. "I'm not calling
Tal'maulk, he has the day off. It's just us today
David. Is it going to kill you to eat this just once?"
"I don't want it," he complained pushing the bowl
away from him.
"Why not? You haven't even tried it. For all you know
it might taste better than Kal'main," John tried
"No, it nasty." The young boy shook his head, giving
his father a look that clearly said there was no way
in hell he was touching the stuff.
"Have you ever tried it?" John questioned dropping
the spoon into the bowl.
David gave him a hard look. "Have you?"
"I'm not the one eating breakfast," John shot back.
"I not eat it," David returned, sticking to his guns
with a firm shake of his head.
"Oh good lord," he groaned frustrated. "It's just
cereal. It's good for you."
"You eat it," David announced pointing to the bowl.
"I don't want it."
"I not want it either."
"Okay look," John said sinking down in the chair
beside him. "If I eat a couple of bites, will you at
least try it?" he asked skeptically.
David eyed him silently then glanced to the waiting
bowl a moment before looking back at his father.
"Maybe…" he muttered in a tone that clearly left
question as to his intent.
"Fine. I'll eat it," John growled, taking a big
spoonful and shoving it into his mouth with flourish
as if to say, 'see it didn't kill me to take a bite.'
David watched him closely as he chewed hard,
then slowed as the dry, bitter flavor of the cereal
began penetrating his taste buds. Trying to keep his
face neutral John glanced quickly toward the sink,
wondering if it would be considered a valiant retreat
to bolt and spit the offensive food out, or if his
best bet was to force a swallow.
"Taste good Daddy?" David asked smiling as his
voice drew him back from his thoughts.
Determined to follow through with what he had
begun, John took a deep breath and swallowed the
contents of his mouth quickly. "Ahhh… that's nasty,"
he complained shaking his head as he picked up the
container. "Why in Valen's name does your mother even
have this stuff?" he wondered out loud as he scanned
"Told you so," David laughed.
Rising quickly he deposited the bowl with it's
ghastly contents into the sink and drew a fast drink
of water, downing it without thought to try and wash
away the taste in his mouth. "Okay, no cereal," he
announced, taking the container and shoving it back as
far as he could into the cabinet.
"Then what we have?" David asked.
"We have something from the market," John
said, scooping the young boy out of his chair. "On
Earth it's called going out to eat. Now let's get you
dressed and fill that tummy."
"Going out to eat?" David repeated skeptically
as he wrapped his arms around John's shoulders.
John nodded heading back down the hall toward
the boy's room. "Yes and don't tell your mother or
I'll never hear the end of it. I told her I could take
care of you while she was gone," he stated.
David laughed, "You're funny."
* * *
Moving through the small crowd of Minbari that
surrounded them, John lifted David a bit higher onto
his side, adjust the small boy's weight as they
walked. David had one arm wrapped around his shoulder
the other hand occupied with long piece of Saum'ioka,
which he was devouring faster than John had fear of it
falling on his jacket.
He had tried the long spicy bread before and
found it quite pleasurable. From the way David was
going at it, it was apparent that his son too enjoyed
its taste. The flavor made his taste buds water just
thinking about it. Not overpowering, but distinctive
enough to leave a pleasant twang in his mouth long
after he had finished it. Which this morning hadn't
taken any time at all as he realized that he too was
hungrier than he had thought.
But the taste was not the only thing that had drawn
him to the bread after the first time. It was what he
had found inside. The bread was layered and rolled
together in a small log. Inside, baked neatly in the
center of each pastry section was a triangular peace
of parchment The parchment held what reminded him of a
'fortune' inside a fortune cookie or ‘the thought for
the day', in Minbari terms. After his first encounter
with the small object, he had sat long into the
afternoon contemplating the meanings behind the
These little pastry treasures were unique to that
bakery and that bakery alone. He assumed it was the
confectioner way of introducing the children to
philosophy through enchantment and wonder. With the
culture being still new to him despite the four years
he had been graced with its surrounds, John too
enjoyed the insight of the parchments and had his as
well as David's tucked safely away in his pocket for
To his delight he had noticed that all the children
seemed to frequent the bakery for the small pastry
breads he knew as Saum'ioka. They were distributed
generously and freely to each child, one per day. This
made him wonder if the confectioner wasn’t working
along side the elders of the temple. Setting the
children’s minds for what was to come later in life.
It made sense to him.
He had discovered through his years of
association with Delenn and the other Minbari that the
elders held philosophical thinking reverent above all.
'Teaching the children without teaching the children.'
At this thought, he smiled looking toward his son. The
elders were wise. They knew how to benefit the younger
generations without appearing to do so.
"Is that good?" he asked the young boy in his
"Uh-huh," was the only reply he received from
David as he continued to stuff his face.
John turned his attention to the city around
him, distinctively aware of the four rangers that
trailed after them at a safe distance. He frequently
took strolls through the city, but in all the time he
spent here, never had he come alone. It was common
place for his bodyguards to shadow him, giving him the
space he needed on days when meetings and his
presidential duties became almost too much to bare,
but always close and within striking distance if they
were ever required. Thankfully that had yet to happen.
Tall crystalline buildings, geometrically
forged by the abundance of minerals the planet was
known bountiful in, filled the expanse around him. His
view floated from one beautiful edifice to the next,
drinking in the simplistic majesty.
It was the equivalent of spring on Minbar and
John loved this time of year most of all. For it was
during this season, the true beauty of the cities
could be observed. Breathtaking patterns of light
formed and danced across the crystals in the spring,
causing them to appear to come alive before his eyes.
Though he had beheld such awe-inspiring magnificence
several times, he never could seem to get over the
delight he felt when he witnessed this phenomenon.
Letting his eyes trail along the cityscape,
they stopped again on the central fountain as he and
David approached it. The water bubbled joyously around
the stone structure. Its clear brilliancy dancing with
glittering enchantment as the sun's rays gleamed
across the surface. He could see several children
sitting around the picturesque fountain, listening in
rapture to one of the elders and their stories of the
'Someday you will be among them David,' he
thought happily, more than willing to allow his son to
know all aspects of both sides of his heritage.
"Daddy, I want to go to the waterfall," David
exclaimed pointing in the opposite direction along the
small town square in which John had stopped. Engrossed
in trying to translate the story he was hearing, it
took a sharp tug on his ear and another exclamation
from his son to draw him back to the present. "I wanna
go to the waterfall," David repeated as patiently as a
"Hmmm… don't you want to hear the story?" John
asked, adjusting his son's weight again as he flexed
his hand. David was getting almost too big to carry
for a long period of time and though John hated to
admit it, their days of walking the market place in
this manner were numbered.
(No, I wanna go to the waterfall,) David
commanded hitting him on the back to press his point
as he switched to Minbari.
"All right, the waterfall," John muttered
shaking his head as he turned away from the elder and
his audience. Despite David's insistence, John would
have loved to sit and listen to what the elder had
It wasn't often he had the time to just come
down and enjoy the surrounds and he needed to polish
up on his Minbari as well. Delenn had been working
with him endlessly since their arrival four and a half
years ago and still to this day he stumbled over many
of the pronunciations. He hadn't realized how poorly
he had actually been doing until David started talking
and he had found himself stumped and frustrated when
the boy began speaking Minbari to him. In the past
couple of years he had improved, but he was by no
means fluent in any form of the language. He managed
to squeak by without embarrassing himself in front of
his son and little else. That was something he clearly
needed to work on before David caught onto the fact
that his father couldn't follow him well if he
David squirmed in John's arms, trying to get
down as they neared the entrance to the park, but John
held him fast, shaking his head. "Not so quick young
man, let's wipe those hands off first."
"Wanna play," he protested as John dragged a
handkerchief out of his pocket and began to clean him
"I'm sure you do, but I want you clean and I'm
bigger so I win," John grunted, giving his face a
quick wipe as well before depositing him onto the
ground. "Be good. I'm just over here."
"K," came the reply as David shot off as fast
as his small legs would carry him and met up with two
other Minbari children under the shade of a squatty
tree near the center.
Just off to the side of the tree was a tall
crystalline structure that reminded John of a cliff
side back on Earth. It towered over the park-like
setting by nearly fifteen feet and drew the eye of all
that passed by. Still to this day he couldn't
determine if it was natural or manmade. Sheet after
sheet of clear, sparkling water cascaded down the
center, splashing away into a small pool that
encircled the entire structure around the base.
David had dubbed it 'the waterfall' after
their first trip passed when he was two. He loved this
place, asking to go nearly every single time John or
Delenn took him from the compound. Sinking down on a
small bench nearby John relaxed his long form and
watched smiling as his son interacted with the two
other children, all lost in their world of delight.
It was times like this that he missed Delenn
the most. He so loved to spend time with her and
David, just walking the city and listening to her
share all she knew. She had only been gone for two
days and he felt as if a piece of his soul was
missing. It seemed as of late her trips were becoming
more frequent and drawn out. He knew her position as
head of the Rangers was important and he wasn't about
to say a word otherwise. However during her absent,
sitting in his office, he had begun to feel alone and
That had been the main thrust behind giving
Tal'maulk a few days off. He needed to spend time with
his son other than just in the evenings. He wanted to
be a father for a while instead of the President.
Luckily affairs of state allowed him the time away and
he was able to turn his back on the office, even if it
was just for a few days, without guilt. By spending
most of last night finishing up what paperwork was
required of him, John had managed to free up the next
three days to spend with his son uninterrupted.
He was drawn from his musings by a quiet and
shook himself to find a small petite Minbari female
sitting beside him and looking at him as if she
expected a response. (I'm sorry,) he said prompting
her to repeat herself.
(The small one, he is your son,) she said,
indicating David in the distance.
(Yes, his name is David,) John returned.
She nodded. (Jualenn is my daughter.) Again
she motioned and John determined that she was
referring to one of the small girls sitting beside
(She is…) he paused trying to think of the
word to describe what he meant.
The woman seemed to understand his dilemma and
smiled. "I speak standard," she said softly.
"Thank you," he acknowledged. "She is
She bowed her head toward him at the
compliment. Then she looked up again, meeting his
gaze. "You are the mate of Delenn."
"Yes, I am John Sheridan, pleased to meet
you," he said lowering his head as he placed his hands
together in a triangle and gave her the traditional
"I am Niamon, Mr. President," she replied,
returning his gesture.
"Please, right now I'm just a dad out for a
morning stroll with his son," he corrected shaking his
head. "No titles today."
"As you wish," she agreed.
He smiled glancing back toward David then
looked at his companion. "Does your daughter love it
here as much as David? I swear I don't think that boy
would ever get tired of coming here if he had a say in
"She finds the atmosphere agreeable," Niamon
"He loves the waterfall. Talks about it all
She looked at him as if unsure of his meaning.
John frowned trying to come up with the correct
Minbari word. "Zaun'dra?" he tried skeptically
motioning toward the structure.
She smiled. "It is pronounced, Zaun'draulth,"
she said helpfully.
"Zaun'draulth," he repeated slowly, then shook
his head. "I don't know if I'm ever going to get this
down," he muttered to himself.
"You do quite well for an off-worlder," she
offered in her own form of compliment. "How long have
you been attempting our language?"
John sighed. "Four years," he grunted. "My
mate Delenn… she tries very hard to teach me but I
think sometimes I frustrate her more than myself."
"It will come in time," she assured him.
"May I ask you a question?" he inquired. She
nodded her head a fraction in response. "You seem to
speak standard well, how did you learn and how long
did it take?"
"Several years," she admitted. "I was taught
in temple as I grew. The aides to off world
Ambassadors are required to learn several languages,
standard being predominate."
John eyed her a moment wondering just how
young she was. She looked younger than Delenn, but not
by much, and with the way Minbari aged, that left a
huge gap between how old he thought she was and what
her actual age could be. "You are the aid to an
Ambassador?" he questioned in surprise.
"I trained but never achieved my goal," she
responded not bothering to add to her explanation.
He nodded knowing better than to pry into
something that was none of his concern. Minbari held
their privacy above all else and he wasn't about to
overstep himself with someone he'd just met. "I see."
Turning his attention back to his son, he watched the
three small children move around the railing of the
waterfall, dipping their fingers into the pool
So many things were different here than from
the way he had grown up on Earth, he hoped his son
would see the benefit of his surrounds as he grew
older. He hadn't seen much of a difference in David's
personality from that of other human children he'd had
the privilege of being around at that age. Though now,
watching him interact with the two Minbari children,
John could tell David was more calm and reserved than
he had been in his presence alone.
It was almost as if he knew, even at four that
the rambunctious attitude he shared with his father
wouldn't wash with his peers. John had noticed this
behavior alteration used between him and Delenn over
the last few months as well. David seemed to know what
he could and couldn't get away with when it came to
his mother and he never pushed. With John however, the
small boy tried his damnedest to be a young hellion.
But John couldn't fault him for that. He was part
human after all and had the Sheridan genes flowing
through his system. The boy had to let go and just be
a kid from time to time.
Hearing the deep resounding chime of bells
echoing throughout the area, John looked up to see the
two young children moving quickly back toward their
parents, leaving David alone at the fountain with a
small nod. He rose as well, knowing what the bells
represented. It was time for Temple. "It was a
pleasure meeting you Niamon," he said simply, bowing
toward the small woman beside him.
"You as well John Sheridan," she responded
with a smile as she gathered Jualenn up. "Perhaps we
will see one another again."
"Perhaps," he agreed watching the two move off
through the entranceway. He sighed, running his hand
through his hair and stepped over to where David was
still eyeing the water. "Hey small one, whatch'a
doing?" he asked squatting down.
"Pretty," David said flashing him a smile.
"Yes it is."
As David leaned against his father's knee,
John wrapped his arm around him, drawing him closer to
his body and laid his head atop David's smaller one.
"Why we not go to temple too?" he asked
looking up at him.
John took a breath, debating how to answer
this. "Well, to tell you the truth, your mother and I
have taken you to Temple, twice," he informed him.
"But I doubt you remember because you were much
younger," he teased smiling.
"Then why we not go with Jualenn and her
mommy?" he asked seriously. "I heard the bells."
"Jualenn and her mother are of the religious
caste David. A good portion of their lives are spent
in Temple," he tried to explain.
David nodded. "Mommy is religious caste too."
"Yes she is," John agreed looking at him.
"We not?" he asked in confusion.
"Not directly, no," he admitted slowly. "I'm a
human David. I have no caste," he whispered softly.
"How come? Tal'maulk says we all have caste,"
"Tal'maulk is correct in terms of Minbari son,
but with me being human…" he took a breath. "We just
do things differently."
"I not understand."
"I know," John breathed, laying his head back
against his son's. "And I'm sorry I can't explain it
better. It's just that sometimes the things Minbari do
and the things Human's do, are different. Being in a
caste is one of those things."
"I am both," David said as John pulled back
and picked him up in his arms. "Feel my crest."
Snaking his little hand over he drew John's bigger one
to his head and followed the small ridge along the top
with his fingers. "See, I have mommy's crest."
"Yes you do," John agreed smiling. "And I
think it looks wonderful on you. You are a bit of me
and a bit of mommy combined. That gives you the best
of both worlds," he said affectionately.
"I like both worlds," David exclaimed hugging
him hard around the neck. "I can play with you," he
"You sure can."
"Can we go for a walk down by the river next?"
David inquired as John proceeded to carry him out of
the small park.
John nodded, "If that is what you would like."
"With my ball?" he asked, his eyes sparkling.
John grinned, "Yes with your ball."
David screeched with glee, grabbing his
father's face between his hands. "I like playing ball
with you Daddy. It fun."
"I enjoy it myself small one," John returned
kissing him on the cheek. "Come on, let's you and me
go and get down and dirty in the grass, what do you
say? We have the next few days together, let's go have
* * *