the pearl

Lost Chances

Susan Ivanova's eyes brightened when she saw who came into the room. "David!" she said happily. "Come over here and let me see you!"

David Sheridan made his way over. "Hi, Aunt Susan," he said quietly.

"Oh David," she said, enveloping him in a hug. "How are you doing? My God, it's been..." she paused. "Three years since I last saw you. How is everything?"

"Fine, Aunt Susan. It's been hard ever since Mom died, but it's slowly getting better."

She nodded. "Your mother was an amazing woman, David." She paused again, looking serious. "And she's why I asked you to visit."

David frowned slightly, his brow crinkling. "Why, Aunt Susan?" he asked, his voice low.

Susan pointed to the nearby couch. "First, sit down. I have a lot to tell you."

David sat. "Aunt Susan," he said, his voice filled with concern. "What does this have to do with my mother?"

Susan looked down at her tightly clenched together hands. C'mon, Susan, she said to herself, it's been twenty years. Surely he can handle this. She took a deep breath. "David, did you ever wonder why you were an only child?"

David frowned, then shrugged. "No more than any other only child. Sunita and I used to complain together, but it was nothing big. Why?"

She sighed. "David...I didn't want to be the one to tell you this...I thought you mother would eventually tell you. But I guess she had her own way of dealing with grief."

"What grief? What are you talking about, Aunt Susan?"

Susan sighed again. "It happened when you were two years old..."


John Sheridan walked into his quarters, carrying David. "Here we are, boy. Safe and sound." He looked towards the bedroom. "Delenn!" he said, raising his voice slightly. "We're home!"

Delenn appeared in the doorway, smiling wanly. "Hello, David," she said to her son. "Did you have fun today?"

David beamed at his mother. "Toys!" he said enthusiatically.

John laughed. "I guess he thought the entire hangar was just a big toy box." He set David down in his play pen, and turned to his wife. "And how were you today?" He wrapped his arms around her.

She smiled again, trying to look strong. "I saw Dr. Franklin today."

John stepped back and looked at his wife, concern etched on his face. "Is everything okay?" he asked.

She smiled wider. "Well, I'm going to be nauseous for the next eight months, but everything will turn out all right. I just hope David can handle having a baby sister."

John looked confused for a second, then broke out into a grin. "Delenn, that's great!" He lifted her off her feet and whirled her around, much to the amusement of his son. He set her down and kissed her deeply.

Delenn stepped away from him. "John, you shouldn't have done that," she said, looking greenish. She rushed away from him into the bathroom.

John looked towards the bathroom sheepishly. "Sorry!" he yelled in that direction. He grinned again. "A daughter..." he said to himself. "Wow..."


Lennier came over to Delenn, looking concerned. "Do you need help, Delenn?" he asked.

She waved him off. "Lennier, I am fine. It does not take two people to get myself into a chair." She smiled. "Besides, a month from now, I am sure you will have quite enough to do."

Lennier nodded. "Of course." He held up a small container of data crystals. "The latest reports from the Rangers, Delenn."

She nodded. "Any news on a cure for Earth?"

Lennier shook his head. "They have continued to look." He walked over to the display and brought up a map of the Rim. "As you can see, they have searched through these planets, but there are still many more to explore. We still have three years in which to find a cure, Delenn, and..." His voice trailed off as he turned to face Delenn. "Delenn!"

She hunched over her protruding stomach, her face grimaced in pain. "Lennier..." she said, her voice tight. "John!" she shouted.

"MedLab to Sheridan's quarters — Emergency!" Lennier spoke into the console. "We need medical assistance!"


John Sheridan ran into MedLab, only to see his wife surrounded by doctors. "Delenn!" he said, his voice frantic.

Stephen Franklin came over to him. "She's going to be fine, John," he said, his voice cautious.

John looked at the doctor. "And the baby?" he asked, his voice grim.

Stephen placed a hand on his friend's shoulder. "I'm sorry, John."

John fell into the nearest chair. "Do we..." his voice broke. "Do we know what happened?"

Stephen shook his head. "Not yet. But we'll give you the results of the autopsy the second we get them in."

John nodded, then looked at his wife. "It was going to be a girl," he said. "Right?"

Stephen nodded. "I'm...I'm sorry, John."

John looked up at Stephen, his eyes filled with tears. "Can I see my wife?" he asked.

Stephen nodded. "Of course."

John walked into the room and went to her side. Delenn opened her eyes at his presence. "John?" she said, in a near whisper.

He nodded. "Oh Delenn..." he said.

Delenn burst into tears. "The baby..." she said between sobs. "The baby..."

John held his wife, crying as well.


John stared numbly at the tiny coffin. My daughter, he thought to himself. My daughter is in there.

It had taken the final ounces of strength he had left in his body to bring Delenn to the funeral. She, or what was left of her, sat next to him now, also staring numbly at the coffin. For the past three days, it was as if he was living with a doll, unable to do anything. She would just sit and stare at things. The crib they bought in the Zocalo last week. The stuffed animal Susan had bought. David. And now the coffin.

The funeral ended solemnly. The mourners left the observation dome and walked quietly to their quarters. John supported Delenn and led her back home.

Their apartment was too quiet. David was staying over in Franklin's for the time being, and it didn't seem the same without his enthusiastic chatter. It was like they were dead, and the station a giant coffin...

John shook himself. He couldn't let himself collapse like this. The station needed him. He walked over to the kitchen and poured himself a glass of orange juice. "Delenn," he said, his voice low. "We have to get through this."

Delenn sat there, unresponsive.

"Delenn..." John said again. He sighed. "Delenn, damnit! Don't do this to me!" He walked over to her. "Don't do this!"

Delenn still sat there. John grabbed her shoulders and shook her. "Delenn! Don't leave me!"

Delenn blinked and looked into John's eyes. "John?" she said quietly, her voice distracted.

John nodded. "Yes, Delenn, it's me. Don't leave me like this."

Delenn began to sob. "Oh John...the baby..."

He wrapped his arms around her. "Just let it all out, Delenn...just let it all out..." He escorted her to the bedroom and laid her on the bed.

She continued to cry, punctuating her tears every once in awhile with words. "The daughter...your daughter...David's sister...the baby...gone...gone...gone....gone...."

John continued to hold his wife, rocking her ever so slightly. "Delenn..." he said, almost as a mantra. "Delenn..."

Her tears eventually subsided and she fell into a deep, restful sleep. John arranged the blankets around her and left the room. It was good that she was getting sleep. She needed it.

He moved around the living room, randomly picking up stuff, then putting it back down. Why hadn't Stephen told him what had happened yet? What was keeping him? John continued to pace around the room. He had to know, damnit, he had to...

His comm badge beeped. He sit the side of his hand instinctively. "Sheridan, go."

"Captain, I have the results of the autopsy," said Franklin, his voice solemn.

"I'll be right down," said John. He took one final look at his wife, then left their quarters.


Franklin was waiting for him in Medlab. "John," he said grimly, "the results aren't too good."

John straightened up. "I can handle it, Doctor," he said, his voice betraying no emotion. "Why did Delenn lose the baby?"

Franklin called up the report on the terminal. "It appears to be genetic problems. Your DNA and Delenn's DNA didn't mix properly, and, well..." he paused for a few seconds. "John, this baby could have never survived."

John frowned. "What?" he asked.

Franklin called up a graphic of the baby's DNA. "See? The baby had several genetic anomalies, many of which I've only heard of in textbooks."

John looked at the graphic for a long time. "Doctor," he said, "what does this mean?"

Franklin frowned. "Imagine that you're baking two cakes. You have the exact same ingredients. But you put them into your separate bowls in different amounts. The results turn out very differently. The cake that has the right amounts is a perfect cake. The cake with the different amounts doesn't become a cake at all." He paused again. "Now, David is a healthy young boy. Somehow, your genes and Delenn's genes perfectly matched together. The baby, however..." His voice trailed off.

John looked at Franklin in shock. "Stephen..." he said slowly. "Do you mean that our genes are incompatible?"

Franklin shook his head. "They are compatible. If they weren't, you wouldn't have David. But it appears that compatibilty is a very rare occurrence." He pointed to the graphic on the terminal. "The baby, if it had lived, would have had several human disorders, as well as a few Minbari ones."

John nodded. "What would you say the probability of compatibility is, Doctor?"

Franklin sighed. "Given the data I have, I would guess at around...ten percent."

John nodded again. "Ten percent," he said quietly. "Doctor, I need you to do something for me."

Franklin nodded. "Sure...what?"

"I need sterilization."

Franklin stepped back. "Whoa...wait a second...there are plenty of other alternatives..."

John shook his head. "No, there aren't."

Franklin looked at him in shock. "Birth control."

John shook his head again. "No. There's still the possibility of Delenn getting pregnant."

Franklin still stared at him. "We can abort it!" he said strongly. "There are other options, John."

John shook his head for a third time. "Stephen," he said quietly. "I can't put Delenn through this again. I have to make sure that there isn't the slightest chance that she is going to get pregnant again. I need to be sterilized."

"No!" a third voice cried out.

John and Franklin turned to the sound of the voice. There stood Delenn, looking haggard. She walked to John. "I will not let you be sterilized!"

John sighed. "'s the only way."

She stood there defiantly. "I will not let you do this, John! It goes against Minbari tradition!"

"Delenn!" he said, his voice harsh. "I will not fight about this here."

She narrowed her eyes. "Then I suggest we take it to our quarters." She turned towards Franklin. "Excuse us, Doctor," she said to him politely.

Franklin nodded. "You're quite excused," he said kindly. "Oh Delenn," he said before they left. "David's been asking for you."

Delenn smiled tiredly. "I will come for him soon, Stephen," she said, her voice soft. "Thank you." The couple left Medlab.


As soon as they reached their quarters, John turned to Delenn angrily. "You had no right to cause a scene in there!" he said to her.

Delenn looked at him in shock. "And you had no right to decide to sterilize yourself!"

"It was the only way, Delenn! We can't have any more chlidren!"

"No!" she shouted. "No!"

"Our genes aren't compatible. David was a fluke. We can't have any more children!"

"No..." she said in shock. She sat down on the couch. "John..." she said, her voice quiet. "I can't let you sterilize yourself."

John looked at her, his anger subsiding. She looked so fragile.... He sat down on the couch next to her. "Delenn," he said quietly. "What is it?"

She picked up a small toy David had left on the table. She turned it around in her hands. "Lennier once told you about how fewer and fewer Minbari are being born every generation, correct?"

John nodded. "Yes, when you were still in the chrysalis."

Delenn looked down at the toy again. "Because of this, the Grey Council issued a series of laws concerning birth rate and reporduction." She turned to him. "One of the first laws was that anyone who was sterilized could not be married. Any marriages had to be dissolved so that the still-fertile partner would be able to reproduce."

John looked at her in shock. "But that was years ago!" he said strongly.

Delenn nodded. "And it is still in effect. With fewer and fewer Minbari being born, it is all they can do." She looked down at the toy again. "I cannot let you be sterilized, John, because I do not want to live without you."

John stared at her. "Delenn..." he said. He picked up her hand. "I can't put you through that again. I..." he paused for a second. "I can't spend my life worrying every day whether or not you're pregnant. I can't put you through that pain."

Delenn removed her hand and stood. "And because of this you decide how to run my life? John, I will not let you tell me what to do!" She left their quarters.

"Delenn!" he shouted to the closing door.


The door chimed. Stephen Franklin sighed, put both of the wild toddlers into the playpen, turned to the door, and said "Enter!"

Delenn walked in, much to the happiness of her young son. "Mommy!" he exclaimed.

Delenn walked over to him and hugged him tightly, picking him up. "Hello, David," she said quietly, holding him tight. "I missed you."

Stephen looked at Delenn, a sympathetic expression on his face. "Delenn, do you want to talk?" He pointed to a nearby chair.

Delenn sat down, still holding her son close. "John told me about the results of the autopsy." She paused for a second. "It came as no surprise to me."

Stephen looked at her in shock.

Delenn nodded. "I knew that Minbari and human DNA could not mix properly. I knew this, and yet I still wanted to try to have children. When David was born, I thought that I had been wrong, that human and Minbari DNA could mix. However, with Shaal..."

Stephen looked up. "Shaal?" he said.

Delenn nodded. "It was what I called her. My Shaal." She looked down at her son for a second, then looked back at Stephen. "Raelinn was bound to happen. It was just a matter of time."

Stephen looked at the fragile woman before him. "Delenn..." he said quietly. "John can be sterilized. You won't have to go through this again."

She shook her head vehemently. "No! it is against all Minbari law! If one partner was to become infertile, the couple separates so that the fertile partner is able to reproduce! If John were to undergo sterilization..." She stood up and placed David back in the playpen.

Stephen stood up as well. "Delenn..." he said, his voice calm. "There has to be other options..."

She looked at her son. "None that would be fully effective. If they are not effective, then there is the possibility that I will conceive again. If John sterilizes himself, then I will be forced to find another..." She paused for a second. "There is only one option..." She turned to Stephen. "I need you to sterilize me."

Stephen looked at Delenn in shock. "Delenn, didn't you just say that if one partner in a Minbari relationship becomes sterile, the other one has to leave?"

Delenn nodded. "Yes, in a Minbari relationship. Since John is human, the law does not apply. I can be sterilized and he can still stay with me." She looked at Stephen. "It is the only way."

Stephen looked at her, then at the ground and sighed. "All right, Delenn. Come to Medlab tomorrow."

"No, it has to be tonight, before John knows about it," she said determinedly.

Stephen looked at the clock. "Delenn..." he said, his thoughts overpowering his language. Finally, he said the one thing he could think of. "Where are the kids going to go?"

Delenn looked at the play pen. There, playing happily, were David and Sunita. She turned back to Franklin. "They can come with us. The operation should not take more than a half-hour, am I correct?"

Stephen sighed and nodded. "That's right..." He sighed again. "Okay, grab David." he picked up Sunita.


Stephen yanked off his latex gloves and threw them into the recycler. He looked down at the children. Both of them were asleep on a blanket, looking very peaceful and very happy. He stroked a stray curl from Sunita's eyes. He was so lucky to have found her...

He heard someone come in. "Yes?" he said, without turning around.

"I was wondering if you had seen Delenn," said the person.

Stephen looked up, saw John, and nodded. "Yes," he said quietly. "She's in there." He pointed to the surgical room where Delenn laid resting.

John looked at her, a frantic look coming over his face. "What happened?" he asked urgently.

"Nothing serious, I can assure you, Captain," said Stephen cooly. "She simply came in for a tubal ligation."

John stared at Stephen in shock. "Tubal..." he paused for a second. "You mean she...?"

Stephen nodded. "She asked me if I would perform the surgery, and I agreed." He looked at John. "She said it was the only way."

John looked at his wife through the window. "The only way..." he said quietly, watching his wife sleep. He turned back to Stephen. "I have to see her."

Stephen held up his hands. "Be my guest. She should just be naturally sleeping now."

John walked into the surgical area. He sat by her bedside, and picked up her hand. "Delenn?" he said quietly.

She roused and looked at him. "John..." she said, her voice still hazy from sleep. "It...was...the...only...way..." she said quietly. "The only way I could..."

John held her hand tightly. "I know, Delenn," he said, trying not to cry. "I know."


Susan turned back to David, a drink in each hand. "After that, your parents seemed to be apart more often than they were together. Your mother started doing more work on Minbar, your father spent a lot of time on the whole Earth situation and it seemed like we never really saw them together again." She sighed, handed David his glass, and took a drink of hers. "They still loved each other, that much was for certain, but it seemed like..." She paused for a second. "I don't they couldn't stand to be around each other. And then your father died, and your mother spent all her time on Minbar..." She paused again. "David, I'm telling you this now because I know you grew up wondering why your mother was always gone. And I wanted you to know what happened."

David looked at Susan, a confused look on his face. "Aunt Susan..." he said, then paused. "Why didn't they tell me?"

Susan took another drink. "I don't know, David. Maybe they thought you were too young, maybe they still weren't able to handle it, I don't know."

David looked at his feet for awhile, then looked up at Susan. "Thank you," he said, his voice wooden. He gulped his drink quickly and stood up. "I'll talk to you later, okay, Aunt Susan?" He began to make his way to the door.

"David!" Susan said. David turned to look at her. Susan held out her arms. "Come here..." she said softly.

David went to his aunt's arms and began crying. Susan held him tightly, rocking him back and forth slightly. "It'll be okay..." she whispered, almost as a mantra. "It'll be okay..."

This Babylon 5 story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at