As you read this letter it should be Friday evening, and by your reckoning I've been gone barely a week from our native time. But as I sit here writing to you, it has been nearly a century since I watched the White Star disappear into the rift. I can still close my eyes, cast my mind back, and the events of those last few hours are as clear in my mind as if it were yesterday.
I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I betrayed our friendship by the way I ran out on you. I did it deliberately. If you'd known what I was planning, you would have found a way to come along and I couldn't let that happen. But I told you that already. What I didn't tell you was how desperately I wanted to bring you with me. I'm sorry, but I couldn't. I instinctively knew that you, the most human of all human beings I have ever known, never belonged here; could never have survived here. Please believe me when I tell you that I made the right decision and that my greatest regret has always been not having you with me on this incredible adventure.
Next to that, my greatest pain has been in contemplating the aftermath of my departure. I manipulated all of you, from here in the past as well as in the present. Susan and Marcus knew nothing until it was too late. Delenn and Lennier followed Valen's instructions; they would never, ever have disobeyed. I hope they have forgiven me. However, I fear what I did to Sheridan is beyond forgiveness. By convincing him to send you back without disclosing the consequences, I forced him into unknowingly betraying your trust. I know this must have driven a wedge between you, but he is your friend, and he needs you there beside him. My war is over. But his war, your war, is only just beginning.
I was truly a 'stranger in a strange land' when I first arrived in this time. There was no one to confide in except Zathras. I needed so badly to talk to you then, bounce wild ideas off you, share my secrets, my fears, my doubts. So I did. I was so used to writing my weekly reports to you that I just kept on. Later, as I became comfortable in my new self, I still felt that need, but it was transformed into an obligation to explain myself to you, to crystallize in a human context all that I believed and had learned, all my dreams and philosophies, all the things that I have done--and have not done.
All my Fridays are here, all my conversations with you (and I hope these printouts will stand the test of time the way data crystals and vids will not). As I wrote each one, printing and setting it aside, I imagined transmitting it to you; and how, when you came in from a late Friday shift, there it would be, waiting for you. I guess I wanted to feel that we were somehow connected still, despite the centuries.
Until now I always told myself I was writing these for myself alone, to keep alive in some small corner of my soul that part of me which is not of Minbar. But in my heart I think I always meant to send them forward. I know that this is the right thing to do, because as much as I needed to write them, you need to read them. I deprived you of a friendship that was a very important anchor in your life. This is the only way I can think of to make amends and give you back some of what I took from you. I want you to feel as I have always felt, to imagine that I am somehow still with you, still there to talk to. It didn't matter to me that my now and yours were a thousand years apart. Don't let it matter to you. I spent all my Friday evenings with you, now spend all of yours with me.
One more thing, Michael; if Lennier has carried out my instructions, he is still with you. Even before I left I knew how hard all this would be for you to accept, and during my second long trip to Babylon 4 I could see that same half-conscious struggle in Lennier every time he looked at me. What I have left to say needs to be said to you both.
Believe that I am who I have always been--for both of you. I never changed in those things that truly counted--in my mind and in my heart and in my spirit. I am Sinclair and I am Valen. I always have been.
Michael, while the contents of the box belongs to you and you alone, I urge you to share this gift with Lennier (and perhaps others) and I hope someday you both can understand, believe, and accept in your hearts that what I have told you here is no more than simple truth.
I must go now, there is still so much for me to do and so little time. May this ancient Gaelic blessing of my childhood always travel with you both as my final benediction,
Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the shining stars to you,
Deep peace of the gentle night to you,
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.
Deep peace of the Light of the World to you.
Good-bye, Michael. I've missed you,
He sat, just staring down at the letter. Its final words reverberated through his mind as the world slowly came back into focus around him. "I'll miss you too," he murmured in reply. He was surprised to find that his face was wet; so he wiped it dry with the back of his free hand. Then he turned to Lennier.
"Letters," he said softly. "He wrote me letters--every Friday."
"Letters?" Lennier returned in bewilderment. He hadn't moved. He sat, hands folded, still gazing at the open box with equal parts longing and apprehension. "But Michael, there must be hundreds of pages here!"
Garibaldi swallowed, finding it hard to speak. "Letters..." He stretched out his hand offering the page he was holding to Lennier. "Here, read this."
Stammering, Lennier jerked backwards, "No... no Michael, these are meant for you... I can't..."
"Read the letter, Lennier," Michael pressed. "He said I'd know what to do, didn't he? Well, I do. He wasn't blind. He understood me and he understood you. He wanted..." He stopped himself and smiled in secret satisfaction. "He wants us to share these. Don't tell me you don't want to, I wouldn't believe it."
An expression of incredulous delight lit Lennier's face as he carefully took the proffered sheet. Garibaldi watched closely as the nervy tenseness slowly drained from his friend's body and nodded to himself as he settled back on the couch contentedly.
After a while Lennier leaned back dumbfounded. Then he spoke so softly Garibaldi had to strain to hear him clearly. "There are so many stories of Valen recorded in the Holy Books," he mused, staring past Michael. "When I was in the temple... there was one... it was my favorite... I read it again and again... somehow I was certain that it must have some deep hidden meaning."
He looked back down at the letter and a strange expression passed across his face. "It was said that every seventh evening Valen locked himself away in his quarters. When his followers finally raised enough courage among themselves to ask what he did during those evenings, he laughed and replied that he was not doing anything important, just writing letters to an old friend." Lennier's voice faded away and he looked up from the letter in his hand.
Garibaldi continued to regarded him solemnly, but his eyes glinted wickedly in the flickering light of the vid. As he took in the pole-axed expression on his friend's face, his lips began to twitch uncontrollably. A chuckle leaked out, to be followed by what could only be described as a snicker. Then, unable to contain himself any longer, he was convulsed, roaring with laughter.
Lennier fixed him with an affronted stare, but his mirth was infectious. Before long they were both totally incapacitated. Every time one of them seemed to regain control the other would catch his eye or look at the letter or the box and they both would collapse back into helpless mirth.
Finally, exhausted, tears streaming down their faces, sobriety managed to gain the upper hand in between recurring fits of hiccuping giggles.
Wiping tears from his eyes for the second time that evening, Garibaldi gently removed the letter from Lennier's unresisting grasp and carefully put it back in the box. He started to close it, then hesitated.
"You know, it's still Friday." He glanced swiftly down at his chronometer. "Well--not quite anymore... but... do you think...?"
Speechless, Lennier nodded, wide-eyed, as Garibaldi lifted the lid back up with a flourish. "How about you doing the honors this time?"
As Lennier bent forward to reverently lift out the next document, Garibaldi found his attention reclaimed by the click and whir of the vid. The tape had rewound itself again. The old Minbari walked slowly to the podium and began addressing the crowd. For a moment he watched the familiar gestures and postures in the unfamiliar body. Then, he stood and stepping quietly over to the screen, raised his hand, and carefully placed his palm over the picture. <I still don't understand,> he thought, <but maybe one Friday... who knows?>
He smiled as he flipped the switch and the screen went blank. Then he turned and hurried eagerly back to the couch, settling back comfortably and leaning close to Lennier. In perfect accord, human and Minbari began to read together in companionable silence.
"Hello, old friend..."