Disclaimer: All characters owned by JMS and various cooperations.

Timeline: Third season, after "And The Rocks Cried out, No Hiding Place" and before "Z'ha'dum"

Thanks to: Kathy, for beta-reading.

Dedicated to: Hobsonphile, who inspired it by bringing up the challenge.

* * *

And *then* do you celebrate your God by eating him in chocolate eggs?" Londo asked, unimpressed.

Brother Theo briefly closed his eyes. "You are thinking of Easter, Ambassador," he explained patiently.

In truth Londo was doing no such thing. He had been on Earth for long enough before the Minbari War to know the difference. Privately, he thought that some Earth religious festivals were at least more fun than Minbari festivals, given the amount of alcohol involved. But when Brother Theo had invited him to attend this year's "Babylon 5 Christmas Gathering", it had reminded Londo unpleasantly of Delenn's invitation a few months ago, and he immediately suspected Theo of similar motives. Better, though, to play the ignorant fool than to endure another lecture on his severe need for spiritual renewal.

"Well, eggs or no eggs," he declared, "my interest in human religious festivals ran out several years ago."

"Come now, Ambassador," Brother Theo countered. "It's a time of joy, of celebrating our ability to love and forgive each other. Surely you can relate to that?"

I knew it, Londo thought.

"The last thing I celebrated," he said distinctily, "was a death I arranged for an enemy of mine. I was quite inventive about it."

Brother Theo looked sad but not shocked or surprised, which was all the comment Londo needed on the state of his reputation on the station. Not that he cared.

"But did it make you happy?" Brother Theo asked quietly.

"It was satisfying," Londo returned, and proceeded to rush the human out of his quarters by promising a huge donation to some charity or the other, which in his experience was the last resort in getting rid of clerics who tried to get one to examine one's soul. Unfortunately he did not believe it would work on Delenn, but it did the trick with Brother Theo who merely threatened to return with something or someone called "carollers".

His quarters felt very empty once the monk was gone. This had nothing to do with the pesky Brother Theo and everything with Vir, who had been prominent by his absence ever since Refa had died. He only showed up for work and didn't talk with Londo except to relate professional matters. Somehow this was worse than Vir not being on the station at all. Before Vir had left for Minbar, Londo had not realised how much time he had started to spend with Vir outside of ambassadorial duties. But with Vir on Minbar, he could tell himself he had done the right thing in sending the boy away, the right thing for Vir, at any rate. Vir's visits had become some of the very rare things he still looked forward to. Now, though.

If Refa's death had been less than a triumph, had not given him the measure of peace as Londo had thought it would, it was because of Vir. He really had not anticipated Vir's reaction. Vir had always destested Refa; once he learned the truth, Londo had assumed, once Vir realised that not only was G'Kar safe, but Refa dead, they'd laugh about the whole thing and put it behind them.

There had been nothing to laugh about in Vir's frightened, tortured face when Londo had found him. And the cold fury once Vir knew had been very different from his angry, concerned outbursts previously whenever Londo had done something he disaproved of.

*I thought I knew you.*

Well, now he does, Londo thought. And wasn't it better this way?

A voice in his head, sounding suspiciously like G'Kar's, told him that he didn't deserve Vir's loyalty anyway. That Vir was better off not caring anymore. Then he recalled the visit from Vir's family he had arranged in the previous year. It had been the most awkward occasion. There had been an utter lack of connection between Vir and his relations; they literally didn't touch each other, not even the usual clasping of arms as a greeting. When Londo had praised Vir's work as an aide and had called him indispensible, Vir's uncle had looked more embarrassed than proud and replied: "Ah. Well. You did not have a previous aide, did you, Ambassador?"

It suddenly occurred to Londo that given that family, and the debĂ cle that had been Lyndisti's visit, Vir had no one else to care about. No lover, no family, no friend, and Vir had definitely not done anything to deserve such loneliness.

Londo found himself still staring at the door through which Brother Theo had left. Our ability to love and forgive each other. That unwanted visit might have had its use after all. At least it gave him an idea. He turned to the viewscreen and asked the station's computer for a connection to Centauri Prime. An hour later he was yelling at someone at the top of his voice. He hadn't felt that good since first seeing Ursa again.

***

Vir sat in his quarters and felt nothing but the dull, aching misery which was all too familiar these days. For a while he had even considered going to the gathering Brother Theo had invited him to some days ago. Maybe it would have been a distraction at least. But then he imagined the half- pitying, half scornful looks on everyone's faces. Looks like the ones from Commander Ivanova whenever he talked to her. She hadn't even thought of asking him first about the supposedly dead Narn; she had immediately assumed Londo had been responsible, and that Vir had helped him.

The horrible thing was, he couldn't even blame her for the assumption.

After Refa's death, Vir had seriously considered asking for reassignment, but the thought of going home was even worse than staying. He couldn't share in the general cheer about the renewed might of the Centauri Republic, not without hearing G'Kar's harsh voice hiss "dead.dead..dead..dead." in his mind. And going elsewhere, as a Centauri, he'd be hated on sight anyway.

Besides, some part of himself was still stupid enough to believe he made a difference here. That he couldn't, shouldn't leave Londo, even when he could hardly bear to look at Londo these days. Sometimes he fervently wished it was the past, when he had thought they had become friends, and sometimes he wished it was the future when Londo would be gone beyond all hope and caring, and hated himself for it more than he could hate Londo.

As if in an echo to his thoughts, he heard a voice. Not Londo's; it was a female voice, singing one of Vir's favourite arias, in fact the very aria he had once sung to convince Londo of the superiority of its composer. Not any female voice, either; that timbre, that pitch was unmistakable; this was the voice of Irama Sallac, the most famous soprano in the entire Centauri Republic. She had retired a while ago from public performances after a long and glorious career, only making an exception for Emperor Turhan's funeral rites. When Vir had been a boy, one of his cousins had paid a small fortune for one of her discarded stockings and had been soundly beaten by his father for it, though Vir's uncle kept the stocking. It was Irama Sallac's, after all.

Obviously, someone was playing a recording somewhere, somewhere nearby. When a second voice fell in, Vir began to feel more than idle curiosity. He recognised the second voice as well; this was Cido Plagomondi, almost an equal legend among tenors. But Cido and Irama had never sung together; their feud was legendary. Neither of them belonged to a noble House, and both of them had at various points accused each other of compromising musical demands to cater to the tastes of the nobility. In fact, various Houses had started feuds of their own, depending on whether they prefered Irama or Cido. The majority of the Centauri, though, in rare unison, had always regretted the feud considering it meant the two would never join their voices. It had even become proverbial: "I wish Irama and Cido would sing together" was what a Centauri said when he longed for the impossible.

It had to be an artificial mixing of two seperately made recordings; still, Vir wanted to find out how it was done, and who had done it. And he wanted the crystal on which it was recorded. It had been so long since he had wanted something that he rose at once, and rushed out of the door to find out where exactly the music came from.

He didn't get far. There, standing not too far away, was Irama Sallac, dressed in robes that would not have been beneath the Empress. The veil around her head fell back as she lifted her chin for the final, triumphant verse. Next to her, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, stood Cido, no less magnificently attired, a bottle of brivari in one hand, his other arm around Irama's shoulder, supporting her with his glorious voice.

And behind them, looking downright modest in comparison, was Londo.

Londo looked at him with a wistful, hopeful expression that Vir, who had experienced Londo in all kind of moods, was not very familiar with. In fact, he recalled seeing that particular expression only once, when they had both waited for Adira to come out of the transport. As the aria soared to its last notes, something oppressive and heavy in Vir melted. He had no idea how Londo had accomplished this miracle, whom he had bullied, blackmailed or bribed. And for once, Vir didn't care.

Suddenly, he realised that he had tears in his eyes and was about to cry in front of the two most famous singers of Centauri Prime; that they had stopped singing and that he hadn't even applauded once.

"I'm sorry," Vir said hastily and found his voice croaked, "it was wonderful, I mean perfect, I mean. I'm sorry."

The two regarded him with unreadable expressions and he wished he could hide in the bowels of the station at once.

"A miracle," Londo suggested, and his voice was somewhat hoarse as well.

Vir swallowed, and the embarrassment seemed curiously light in comparison to everything else he felt. It wasn't that he had any illusions about Londo becoming suddenly a different person from now on, or that he thought Londo would apologize. This was as close to an apology as Londo could get, and in its way, it was something more.

"Yes," he said, and smiled at the two singers, a relieved smile so sweet that they couldn't help but return it. "A miracle."