“Great Maker.” Londo pinched the bridge of his nose. “Someone refresh my memory; who came up with this whole Alliance business? Did we not think an Alliance would make it easier to come to agreements, instead of a hundred times as hard?” He had to shout to be heard over the din. The other ambassadors were filing out of the council room, a chaotic mass of Gaim and Drazi and Brakiri and a dozen other races shouting and bickering and elbowing each other in frustration as they made their way outside. Once they were gone, Londo was left with Delenn, Sheridan and G'Kar. Strangely, he seemed to be the only one of them who was losing his patience. Delenn and Sheridan were talking quietly in a corner, but while they looked as tired as he felt, the only emotion he saw in their faces was pride.
They were proud of this squabbling bunch? Pah! What sense was there in building an Alliance when every race that joined it was only capable of acting like a throng of spoiled children? That included the Centauri, although he would never say that out loud. Something was going on his Homeworld, and he did not like the feel of it at all.
And then there was G’Kar, unperturbed by anything except this... what was it called? This 'Declaration of Principles'he was writing. He was working on it even now, filling page after page with those vague, cloying scribbles of his. What was the point? What would it even change? They were merely words, and words were lies; the Centauri had perfected lying to an art, so Londo could know.
“This is pointless.” His voice came out embarrassingly loud, which did nothing to ease the pounding in his head. “If you have any clue as to what you are hoping to accomplish with these – these – inane writings, please, enlighten me, G’Kar. Because I truly do not know.” He picked up a page at random and squinted at it.
That drew a reaction, at least. G’Kar’s head snapped up, and he snatched the page from Londo’s hands. He put it down almost lovingly, smoothing the page with gloved fingers. “Mollari, we have talked about this. Words are never pointless. Effort is never pointless! In themselves those two things are not sufficient, no, but they are a start, which is precisely what we need.”
“Yes, yes.” Londo waved him off, swallowing down a surge of anger that he knew was irrational, but couldn’t fight down if he wanted to. It would help if he had slept, but between the nightmares and G’Kar sharing his bed these days – a fact they had prudently hidden from anyone but Vir – sleep felt like something from another life. “With every ambassador on the Alliance acting like a bad-tempered infant, I am sure writing a fairy tale to tell to them will help set things right, hmm?” In an impulse, he snatched up another paper. G’Kar tried to take it back, but this time Londo was prepared and G’Kar ended up grabbing at air.
“Mollari…” G’Kar said. He hadn’t raised his voice, but there was something in his tone that sounded threatening. Good. Londo didn’t like being the only one to feel angry. What was it they said on Earth: ‘misery loves company’? That was certainly true. And if G’Kar had any weakness these days, it was his precious writing, so…
“Ah, but is a fairy tale, is it not?” Londo taunted, waving the paper over his head as he got to his feet. In their corner, Delenn and Sheridan had turned to look at them, but he could not care less. Not when G’Kar’s jaw was clenching so gratifyingly. Londo took another few steps, which brought him to the other side of the table, then lowered the paper and read a random sentence. “ ‘We speak in one voice, the voice of the universe. We are one’. Great Maker, G’Kar, are you this naïve!? Any one of these races would destroy the others given a chance. ‘We are one’!? I cannot believe this!” His own voice was edging dangerously close to hysteria, but he did not care about that either; all that mattered was getting rid of this heavy, all-encompassing, paralyzing fear that everything, everything they were doing here was pointless and things would soon be going to hell anyway.
G’Kar was on his feet, breathing hard. “Do you think I do not know that? Your people laid waste to my home, Mollari. Your people murdered mine by the millions, enslaved them by the billions, and you call me naïve!? No one ever said this would be easy. But with the Alliance, we have promised each other to try, and a promise is that much stronger when it is made tangible! That is what this –” He slammed the table, scattering the pages spread across it. ” – what this is, what this means, and if it sounds naïve now, that is only because it is not yet ready. Now…” His voice dropped to a growl. “Give… that… to… me.”
For one split instant, Londo almost believed him. Almost. Then he glanced down at the page again, reading the words – we are one. But they would never be one, never. If G’Kar believed that, it could only end in pain for all of them, and he did not know if he could bear that thought. Shaking, barely even aware of what he was doing, he took the page and tore it right down the middle.
He heard Delenn gasp –
– and then, somehow, G’Kar was across the table and grabbing him by the collar with one hand and wrenching the torn page away from him with the other. Londo couldn’t even react; all he could do was lift his head as G’Kar forced their faces close, closer, those hard, garnet eyes glittering with rage and astonishment, and something like disappointment as well. “By G’Quan…” G’Kar said, softly, but quite loud enough for everyone left in the room to hear. “If I did not love you, Mollari, I would kill you now.”
There was a heartbeat, two, three heartbeats of silence, and then Sheridan made a noise that sounded like someone choking. Delenn only breathed in sharply. G’Kar flinched, his face flooding with an emotion Londo couldn’t place; his hearts were racing, and G’Kar still hadn’t let go of his collar, which might be for the best, because he felt so unsteady he might have fallen.
“So,” Londo said, hoarse. “How do the Humans say it? I suppose… ‘the duck is out of the bag now’?” He did not know whether to laugh or cry.
No one else laughed either, which was probably a good thing.