Disclaimer: All characters owned by JMS and Babylonian Productions.
Timeline: Season 1, episode "Midnight on the Firing Lane".
Thanks to: Kathy, for beta-reading.
Author's note: Challenge fic; the request was for a story with less than
1000 words inspired by the first episode.
"I am, Ambassador."
"You are what?" the other asks slowly.
Vir has never felt so humiliated in his life, which is saying a lot. His
uncle had referred to the newly appointed Ambassador to Babylon 5 as a
"lightweight", or "that drunken failure Mollari". Or as "finally someone
who deserves such an incompetent fool like you". Somehow, these
designations failed to conjure up the reality standing in front of him now,
getting more incensed by the minute. The Ambassador is not really that much
taller than Vir, but he has such a booming, loud voice that he seems to
fill the room with it, and he doesn't duck or slouch the way Vir does, he
"Your staff," Vir whispers and wishes he could become invisible. It never
was a problem at home, where the only times anybody noticed him was when he
stumbled against something or stood in the way.
"I see," the Ambassador says, and Vir has barely opened his mouth to add
that he is, in fact, qualified, has learned how to organize data files,
schedules, can speak some Minbari and Narn in addition to the human
language more and more used in intergalactic trade, when he is cut off
before he can list even one his skills.
"And what am I to do with you, hm? Start a nursery? I suppose someone at
home thinks this is very funny. Well, why not. Send me your children, your
fools and your hopeless, and let's all get blown up together!"
This series of insults is more familiar, and Vir reacts like he always
does. He raises his hands as if to ward off the inevitable continuation and
mumbles: "I'm sorry."
The Ambassador, however, does not react the way everyone in his family
does. He stares at Vir in disbelief. There is anger in his dark eyes, but
also something Vir cannot name or understand.
"Did I ask you to be?"
Bewildered and feeling more frightened by the minute, Vir shakes his head.
"Then why are you? Never mind. Here," says the Ambassador brusquely and
points towards the corner of his suite which is obviously used for drinks
and meals, though Vir spots more bottles then anything else. "You know how
to prepare hot jaala, yes?"
"Yes," Vir confirms, glad to be finally able to reply in the positive to
just what is being asked.
"Then start making it," the Ambassador grumbles.
It's not a day later, and Vir finds the Ambassador drunk on his couch.
Approaching him turns out to be a huge mistake. Between all the shouting
and raving, Vir for a moment forgets to be afraid and at last is desperate
enough to cry out:
"Londo, Londo, why are you doing this?"
Only then does he realize he has called the Ambassador by his first name,
something the Ambassador has not given him leave to do, even if he has
called Vir "Vir", and not "Cotto" from the moment he learned Vir's name.
Londo Mollari doesn't pay any attention to the disrespect, however. In
between more angry shouting, Vir gets told about the government's
unwillingness to do anything about the Narn attack on Ragesh III.
"By the time our ships got there... By the time our ships got there,
everyone would be dead anyways," the Ambassador finishes, and the utter
despair in his voice sounds startlingly familiar. Vir knows all about
despair. But he never expected to hear it from such a person as the
Ambassador. Nobody could possibly ignore Londo Mollari, not even the
frightening Narn who regards Mollari with a mixture of hostility and
malicious triumph whenever he is present.
"Damn all of them," the Ambassador yells, and as Vir ducks to avoid the
bottle Londo Mollari throws, it occurs to him it wasn't even thrown his
way. It is an insight, sudden and startling in its clarity: all this fury
is not directed at him.
Then Vir has his second insight: Londo Mollari is worried about his nephew
on Ragesh III. Worried about his nephew's life, not worried about any
possible shame his nephew could bring on House Mollari. This is so
different from anything Vir has ever experienced that for a moment he can
do nothing but stare and gape. Then he feels something new, something he
does not know how to express. After all, nobody has ever taken comfort
from him before. Nobody has ever wanted it.
At last, he busies himself and makes some more jaala. Judging by how drunk
the Ambassador appears to be, he'll need it.
"So that is settled," Londo Mollari says, and unceremoniously throws the
cloak he wears for council meetings into Vir's waiting hands. There is
satisfaction in his voice, which doesn't surprise Vir, considering
Commander Sinclair managed to force G'Kar and the Narn Regime to back down,
but also weariness, which does surprise him. Vir tries to think about a
"Your nephew is still alive," he ventures timidly, and doesn't know
whether he means it as a question or as a statement.
"Well, yes," Londo replies, and oddly enough stares at his hands for a
moment. "Though his career is finished, of course. They'll never forgive
him for this at home, even though they weren't prepared to do anything to
help him. I hope," he continues, and his voice grows sharp, "you have been
paying attention, Vir."
Vir doesn't ask at what, but Londo must have guessed the question from his
face. Which is another amazing thing: Londo actually sees him when he looks
"We are alone in this universe, Vir. Utterly and completely alone."
Whether Londo means the Centauri, or just the two of them, Vir doesn't
know. But he thinks Londo is wrong in any case. He just doesn't know how
express that, either. Not yet.