londo_mollari: (Playful by camelwithbrush)
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When I first laid eyes on him, my head ached from the previous night, and I was simply appalled: he was so very young. Not in years; in fact, that made it worse. If he had been an adolescent, all that youthful innocence and lack of calculation would have been understandable, but though young, he was a man and had been for a while, and yet, there they were: the eyes of a child. I yelled at him for the intrusion, and he kept apologizing, despite the fact that his imminent arrival had been announced.

Great Maker, I thought. Whoever let this boy enter the diplomatic service deserves to be fed to starving reptiles.

(Years later, I had the dubious pleasure of meeting Vir's uncle. If anything, this confirmed my opinion on the matter, but alas, the reptiles shall go unfed.)

I had requested an aide, and though my position was considered as little more than a jest at my expense at the time, my request had been granted; after all, it looked like the fifth Babylon station would, after all, survive its first year in service. One I had quenched the impulse to tell Vir his place should be at some school, teaching young ladies how to compose poetry, not in a gigantic capsule of steel where nobody was what they appeared, I discovered that he was, in fact, not just competent but excellent at his job. He could organize my daily schedule, find out the way I preferred my hot jaala and prepare said hot jaala; in fact, he somehow found the time to go shopping and make sure the food in my quarters was always fresh, or as fresh as it was possible to be on a space station and with a limited budget. He still had the irritating tendeny to apologize far too often; I thought of my nephew, Karn, who was as old as Vir and stationed on one of our most remote outposts and imagined how a jaded superior would take advantage of him. This thought annoyed me, and I resolved to school Vir in the art of politics, which included the art of blaming others. Somehow, this did not happen, perhaps because we ended up debating operas and the value of human food instead. But at least he started to offer his own opinions, and at some point I realized enjoyed spending time with him; indeed I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Then I met Mr. Morden, and my life changed, with the delay of a few months between the first and second encounter. Not too long after the third meeting with Mr. Morden, it occured to me my relationship with my young aide had changed as well. It was no longer a composer or the place of love in the matter of marriage we disagreed upon; Vir disliked and distrusted the new path I had chosen, and said so from the start. And yet he kept my secrets, and I never even considered he might choose to reveal them, either in order to enhance his own position or in order to stop me from pursuing my goals; neither way would have been in his nature.

Somehow, he also seemed to believe that I would change into whatever he wished me to be.

It is a strange thing to discover a person has faith in you, and not because that person does not know you. I am well advanced in years and spirit, and yet I do not believe it ever happened to me before. At times it made me furious; at times it still does. At other times, and far more often, it became a light in an increasing darkness. Now four and a half years have passed since that first encounter, and I have long since faced the truth: Vir Cotto has become the best friend I, or indeed anyone, could hope to possess. (Though his fondness for non-Centauri delicacies which make him sick is something I really must try to rid him of.) I had a dream the other night; not one of the dreams that we Centauri do prefer not to talk about, as they show us our demise, but a dream with the taste of truth nonetheless. In my dream, that technomage who told me millions of voices would curse my name asked me, with that same boundless exercise in self rightousness he evidenced when last we talked: "Tell me, Mollari, why should the Centauri not pay for what they did? You and your people doomed yourselves."

"I know my fate," I said. "I have always known. But I am not my people. If you really wish to give a face to the Centauri, a single face, I shall tell you which one I choose whenever I think of my people." I pointed towards Vir, who was suddenly there, at my side, as he always is, whether I wish him to be or not. "He is Centauri, the best of the Centauri," I said. "And this is why the Centauri will be saved."
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July 2010

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