The Red and the Black

(J/D implied heavily and not subtly, Londo, G'Kar, Lennier)

Standard disclaimer applies; not my characters or settings or backgrounds. But they are my words.

With apologies to Stendhal




The words echoed down the hallways of the White Star. Lennier was trapped in the room between the two obsessed ambassadors, and wished fervently he was anywhere else but there. He started to divorce his mind from the awful reality he was experiencing, trying to enter a meditative state even as the argument raged around him. His task was difficult enough without the 'assistance' he had been offered by Londo and G'Kar.

"Red is the color of fire, of love, of passion!" argued Londo.

"Red is the color of blood!" snapped G'Kar. "Black," he added, his tone changing to a languid bass tone, "Black is the color of night, of star-filled skies, of romance." He drew out the last word, lowering his voice even further, trying to persuade the Centauri to his opinion.

"Black is the color of death! What is wrong with you? Do you want them to start out with all sorts of dire omens, even to the bedclothes?"

"Red! You bloodthirsty Centauri reek of decadence with your gilt and tassels and fripperies!"

"Fripperies? Is that even a word? Lennier, what do you think?"

The moment the Minbari had been dreading had arrived. "I was thinking of white actually."

Both ambassadors stared at him in disbelief. Londo said, "White is the worst so far! White is cold, and icy, almost virginal…" he looked lost in thought for a moment, then asked G'Kar, "Is Delenn a virgin, do you think?"

G'Kar looked disgusted, and Lennier looked sick. G'Kar said, "I hardly think it is any of our business, Mollari. We are here to help with decorating their wedding bedchamber, not to speculate on their respective histories!" He paced about the room, which they had been working on all afternoon. "They will be here soon, and we've still got a lot to do! The bedside lights that Lennier found are quite suitable, very romantic with that dimmer switch…the remote was an excellent touch, by the way, Lennier. Make sure it is placed on Sheridan's night table; the male likes to take his prerogatives in lighting."

Lennier tried to point out the lights came with a remote; that it was not his idea, but G'Kar steamrolled over him.

"Candles we have in abundance, of course. Little furniture and lots of room in case they decide to become athletic…"

Lennier was alternately turning red and pale at this litany, trying hard not to think in images. Words only, they are only words, they cannot hurt me, he recited the Minbari childhood comfort ritual to himself.

"No wine or liquers unfortunately, but there is a small supply of chocolate, and the means of making that special tea if they wish. No accounting for tastes there." He mused on the vagaries of other species' food choices when it came to stimulating other appetites. He continued, "Scented oils, warmed towels and soothing lotions, hmm. What was that stuff you brought, Mollari? For the bath?"

"Bubbles! Yes, one of the human's more interesting inventions. It makes playing hide and seek in the bathing pool much more interesting."

"I would imagine. They are an inventive people, with many varied traditions. I cannot wait to observe the ceremony!"

"Yesss." Londo had a fond smile on his face. "Although wedding are always rather grim, I think I am almost looking forward to this one. At least it will be short, or so I am assured."

G'Kar looked exasperated, "Your people can make the most joyous ceremony an occasion of gloom and despair, can't they? We still have to decide on the bedding!"

Looking around, he saw that Lennier had left the room. "Where did he go?" He shook his head, "It doesn't matter. What about the rhyme?"

"What rhyme? You are not making any sense, G'Kar!"

"You know, the one about something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue."

"Is that a Vorlon saying? It's almost obscure enough…what does it mean?"

"It's a human custom…you have to provide these things to the newly wedded couple. They say it brings them luck."

"Luck!" Londo muttered under his breath, "They will need more than luck with their chosen avocation."

Lennier re-entered the room; his arms full of material. He placed it on the bed, and said, "This is what we are going to use."

The two ambassadors looked at him, then at the bedding he had brought in. A Ranger followed him with an armload of pillows and bolsters of various shapes and sizes, and dumped them onto the bed. The sheets were dark, almost wine-colored, and the coverlet was black with patterns in the same color of the sheet embossed on it.

Londo fingered the coverlet, "Very nice. Soft, yet suitably ornate…and the pattern is almost red, if you look at it in a certain light."

"The coverlet is black and…that other color. It is a good choice, Lennier! One would think you had done this sort of thing before!" He looked at the Minbari speculatively, as he and the Ranger made up the bed and arranged the pillows. Standing back by the door, he said, "It looks quite nice. Is it complete? They should be arriving soon, and we have to get ready for the ceremony."

Londo nodded, "I think our work here is done." He clapped Lennier on the back, "An excellent job, Lennier! Good thing you had us here to help, eh?"

Lennier smiled slightly, and bowed his head in acknowledgement. "I think we had best leave now, and make our way to the Meditation Room. That is where the ceremony is to be held. Their flyer has just docked with the ship. I have a few more things to do, but I will meet you there." He bowed again to them both, and left the room with the Ranger close behind him.

Londo and G'Kar took one last look around, and left together. One their way down the hall, G'Kar excused himself and ran back into the couple's room. He came back without explanation. Londo looked at him quizzically, then asked, "What about the new and old things, and the others?"

"Oh, I think we are covered there. The bedding was borrowed, the lights were purchased new for the guest quarters and never used, the candles are both new and old…"

Londo nodded, then asked abruptly, "What about the something blue?"

G'Kar looked at him enigmatically and said, "I have seen to that, personally."

Londo did not notice that G'Kar's artificial eye was missing until much, much later.