londo_mollari: (Default)
Our good Captain Sheridan once accused me of being unable to spend five minutes without either yelling or laughing. (Of course, he never saw me attend a public function at the Emperor's court; believe me, I was quite capable of remaining entirely silent during those occasions, either due to blessed sleep - any member of a Noble House knows how to sleep standing, for how would we survive our Emperor's speeches, eh? - or for reasons of survival, as under the late Cartagia.) Now I will admit that I never saw any reason not to reveal to the universe at large when something annoyed me, yes. But there is a difference between this and the kind of fury I only felt twice in my life.

When I saw her poor, dead body covered by sheets, the flowers I had picked for her still in my hands, I fell silent. I did not yell, I did not curse, and I do not believe that there were words in my mind at all. Later, I held the broche I had given her in my hand, knew that she had loved me, truly, and that I might as well have signed her death warrant. The fury in me still was not loud, but it consumed me utterly. It was then that I discovered one could make very elaborate plans indeed in this state, yes? It was not divorced from calculation at all, which made it different from all my other occasions of anger. I came up with a scheme to destroy the man I believed responsible for her death, and it required patience, minute precision, and the deception and use of the one being who had never deserted me. I did not care, not then. All I cared about was my rage, and it demanded more than death. I could have poisoned Refa at any time. In fact, I had already done so; one more ingredient to make the dose lethal would have been easy to accomplish. But I wanted to see him humiliated first, I wanted him to die as slowly and painfully as possible - I wanted to destroy him.

A little less than six months later, I found out that Refa had not murdered Adira. Her killer had been Mr. Morden, and he had played me like a puppet. The rage came back, and again, it demanded far more than death. Though there was death that day, so much of it, and thankfully for far better reasons than one man's vengeance. Every one who stayed on the island of Celini did so for love of his people. They were the ones who saved Centauri Prime, and each of their names is burned in my memory.

But to return to Mr. Morden, who when he realized what was happening for the first time since I had the doubtful pleasure of meeting him lost his composure entirely and screamed at me: "You don't know what you've done, Londo!"

"What I have done," I repeated. "Oh, Mr. Morden, I have not even started with you yet."

Eventually, his head was put on a pike, as a gift for Vir. About the previous hours, I shall only say that he might have envied Refa, in the end. I am not proud of this. My father used to say that a man who does not offer his enemies a clean death does, in the end, become the dirt under their feet, and I believe this is true. But then, I do not believe I would act differently if I had the choice again but only the same information, except for one particular method in dealing with Refa, which I shall never stop to regret. At any event, what made that all consuming ice fill my veins after Adira had died was not rage at Refa, or Morden, oh no. They were guilty, but there was one far guiltier than they, the one who had made it possible for them to murder my beloved, and it was my utter loathing for him that made me conceive the deaths I did for Refa and Morden both.

Who makes me angriest? Why, myself.
londo_mollari: (Default)
Talk about a time you realized that someone close to you wasn't the person you thought you knew.

That, my friends, is a harder question than is apparent at first glance. I certainly misjudged a number of people - Mr. Morden, for example, when I mistook him for a relatively harmless entrepeneur, though that particular illusion did not last beyond our third encounter - but then Mr. Morden was never what you could term "close", yes? Vir, on the other hand, most certainly is, but while he surprised me repeatedly, it never was in this particular fashion. Let me put it like this: when we first met, I was suffering from the aftermath of a tribute to the gods in our usual Centauri fashion and was not very pleasant - I believe our encounter included me shouting "will you stop apologizing, you dimunitive irritant of doom?" or something like that - but I also thought "Great Maker, they sent me an innocent, good hearted child!" Now over the years I saw Vir grew up. I also saw him display amounts of courage and loyalty I had, during those early days, not realized he possessed. But I never had reason to reverse my initial impression of "innocent and good-hearted", and thus I cannot say he was not "the person I thought I knew".

Perhaps the answer lies elsewhere. When Trakis, that foul excrement of dirt, tried to force Adira to betray me and deliver my purple files into his hands, he also tried to turn me against her after she had hid herself instead of handing over the files. He told me: "She was just using you, just as she has used every man in her life." Coming from a slave owner, this was hypocrisy worthy of the Royal Court itself.

I will not deny I was hurt when discovering Adira had stolen the files. Maybe there were moments when I doubted her. But once Trakis started to speak, he unwittingly made something very important clear to me. For aside from that heavy-handed insult quoted above, he told me she was a slave, which I had not known before, doubtlessly expecting me to assume this to besmirch her further in my eyes. Indeed I concluded that Adira was not who I had first thought her to be. I had believed her to be a free dancer, a beautiful and passionate woman who could have chosen any of her admirers but for some reason picked a tired old Republican dreaming of better days. But now, I knew she must have gone through hell, for a slave's lot is not an easy one in the best of circumstances, and if Trakis was her owner, then her circumstances were rather the worst. For Adira to have gone through this and still be able to feel joy in life, to make her own choices, as she clearly had done when turning against her owner, to risk her life making those choice... it meant she possessed amounts of courage and strength I had previously not seen. Indeed she was not the woman I thought I knew; she was far more. And once I realized this, I also understood any anger I had about her actions was gone.

(Any anger towards Adira, that is; naturally, I found it very satisfying to deliver that punch to Trakis. Not the most civilized form of sparring, to be sure, but then Trakis is not a civilized man, yes?)

I had loved the woman I believed Adira to be, enough not to care whether people thought I was making a fool out of myself, but then, most of them thought I was a fool anyway. The woman I learned she was, I loved enough to let go, for to insist on her staying on the station would have meant to be just another owner, not the man she gave her affection to. And thus, she was able to gave me a last present, one only the woman she really was could have made; she returned out of her own free will. Even from beyond the grave, she came back to me, for one precious night.

Sometimes, discovering who people really are can be a blessing.


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July 2010

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