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Neutral Ground

by Andraste

[Story Headers]

Londo heard rather than saw G'Kar slide into the empty chair opposite him. The girl on stage was only human, but she bent backwards in such a way as to make him wonder if she'd been genetically engineered for the purpose. He was almost certain human joints were not meant to rotate like that.

By the time she was finished, the Narn had purloined Londo's half-empty bottle of wine and was pouring the last of it down his throat. "Please, G'Kar, make yourself at home," he said, not bothering to be angry.

"Done," G'Kar replied cheerfully.

Londo had only come here because the best cure he knew for a hangover was another drink, and he had thought the same principle might apply to women. He didn't want company, let alone company that seldom paid for its own drinks. Then again, getting upset would only encourage G'Kar.

Instead he simply gestured at the waitress to bring another bottle. The proprietors of the club had made it clear that - diplomatic immunity or no - both of them would be banned if they turned it into a battlefield. Babylon 5 was not so well-supplied with entertainment that either of them relished being thrown out, so they had managed to come to an agreement.

It had been some weeks since they had been here together, but given the gossip of the day, Londo was unsurprised that the Narn had returned now. The obstacle to his enjoying himself without censure had been ... removed.

"You seem remarkably composed for a man who has just suffered the loss of a valued employee," he said.

"A most tragic accident." G'Kar shook his head. "Yet life goes on. I am certain Ko'Dath would not have wished anyone upset on her account."

Londo thought G'Kar might have been less openly gleeful at being rid of his dour aide if he'd had a hand in her demise. He would have remained suspicious, however, had he formed any opinion at all. Narns were forever doing each other in, and which of them in particular had gotten rid of that humourless creature was no concern of his. Compared with Ko'Dath, G'Kar was almost a civilised being. Even if he did drink from the bottle and eat with his fingers.

Both of them fell silent as the next dancer took the stage. A Centauri girl he hadn't seen before. No doubt freshly hired, as a replacement.

It was something of a relief that she was blonde - out of a bottle, if Londo was any judge - and more G'Kar's style than his. He was also glad that her eyes remained fixed on the back wall as she danced, not seeking out his own. She might as well have been alone in the room.

"She has better legs than the last one," G'Kar said idly. Londo only grunted in reply.

It had taken some time for the Narn to express any opinion at all on the Centauri girls - he seemed to think his attraction to them was some sort of secret. Although it might not be circulated as gossip to the same extent as his strange thing for humans, one only had to watch him watching them to see where his desires lay. After years of dealing with Centauri nobility, trained from birth to hide their true selves beneath masks, G'Kar was as easy to read as a child's primer.

It wasn't as if Londo could blame him for his appreciation of Centauri beauty - the females of his own species were, after all, the loveliest in all the galaxy. If the girls back home looked like Narns, no doubt he would have become besotted with those of some other species too.

The girl on stage had an adequately beautiful form, but there was no true grace to her movements. For all the eroticism she managed to display while removing her clothes, she might as well have been taking off her coat upon coming indoors. G'Kar shifted in his seat and leaned forward regardless, but Londo found himself unmoved in any sense. Where on previous occasions his senses had been swept away, he felt relentlessly sober.

It had amused Londo to draw G'Kar out on the subject by comparing one dancer with another and inviting him to do the same until he eventually slipped up and admitted that one of the Centauri girls was the best looking in the place. His tastes, revealed slowly, were woefully unrefined. Yet at least he was somewhat qualified to discuss that most fascinating of subjects.

"Yes," G'Kar murmured, "and improvement in several respects."

"She does not dance well," he said, unable to let the implied insult pass, "and she looks approximately as bored as I am."

"I take it you preferred the other one," G'Kar said lightly.

Londo finally gave up watching the stage at all. "I don't think that's any of your business."

"On the contrary," G'Kar continued, smiling as he sensed a weakness in his opponent, "I helped you to find her, did I not? What I fail to understand is why you let her get away after she almost ruined your reputation."

"I would hardly expect you to understand."

"That's just as well, since I find it incomprehensible. Even distracted by her admittedly considerable charms, you must have known it couldn't end well. They're never worth it, Mollari."

The barest hint of sympathy in G'Kar's voice alone was enough to make Londo wish he could take the bottle from the table and smash it across the Narn's smirking face, but he had enough self-control to get to his feet instead, blood boiling.

"If that is truly what you believe, then I can only pity you," he said.

Londo saw a flicker of surprise cross G'Kar's face before it went carefully blank, and wondered if he had scored a point without meaning to. He hardly cared as he took the bottle off the table and turned to take it back to his quarters.

The End

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Fandom:  Other (Babylon 5)
Title:  Neutral Ground
Author:  Andraste   [email]   [website]
Details:  Standalone  |  PG  |  gen  |  5k  |  02/10/04
Characters:  Londo Mollari, G'Kar
Summary:  Londo attempts to drown his sorrows. G'Kar doesn't help.
Notes:  Disclaimer: I don't own Babylon 5, and I make no money by writing about it.
Continuity: Set between 'Born to the Purple' and 'Parliament of Dreams'.

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