Rating: PG 13, I suppose.
Disclaimer: All owned by JMS and Babylonian productions.
Spoilers: For "Born to the Purple".
Summary: "These are my better days, Londo."
Archive: Tell me and feel free.
Her body had never belonged to herself. Adira had not been free since her early childhood, since her father, after his last attempt to make his fortune on a colony world failed, had sold himself and his family into bondage. Back then, he had told them they would be able to buy their own freedom back, which was certainly legally possible, and Adira had believed him. She did not realise that it had been as empty a promise as all his schemes until her breasts started to bud, and it had been time to shave her skull. It was only then that she truly understood what it meant to be a slave.
For a while, during her training as a dancer, she entertained hopes that she would still be able to earn enough money to buy her freedom, even if marriage and children were now out of the question. She didn't want children anymore, anyway. Not knowing what would wait for them in the end. But Trakis, who bought her contract from her previous owner, made it clear he expected her to deliver all her earnings, in full, and besides, she was not to believe that he'd ever let her go. Trakis hated all Centauri. He had been a slave himself once.
It wasn't as if Adira had much love for her people left in her either. The laws of the Republic had not saved her, or the siblings she had not seen since her fifth year. Still, when Trakis told her she was to seduce the Centauri Ambassador on Babylon 5, something in her balked. At this point she did not know the Ambassador. The other girls said he was generous with his tips, even if they did not always come from his own money, and good company to be with, but that was true of a lot of men. No, what disturbed Adira was the idea of putting anyone else into Trakis' power.
Then the Ambassador started to notice her, as Trakis had foreseen, and began to court her, which was completely unanticipated. Both Trakis and Adira had expected the Ambassador simply to summon her to his quarters and be done with it. True, he did not know she was a slave and thus had no right to refuse anyone's attentions, but a free dancer's status wasn't that much higher.
It was bewildering and strange to be exposed to flattery, gifts, and endless attempts to make her smile. Which she did, and soon she found she did not even have to pretend. The other girls had been right; Londo Mollari was good company. Adira began to remember bits and pieces of her childhood she had tried to forget; the tales her mother had told her, the romances, the songs. He never stopped behaving as if she had a choice in the matter, and it took all her energy to recall that she did not.
When they ultimately did have sex together, he continued to surprise her. It wasn't as if she had been lacking in experience, despite her youth. But the other Centauri she had slept with usually didn't bother to take their time between one and four, and once they got to six, that was that. It was so new for her to enjoy herself at all stages that she did not now what to say, how to look. All the practised expressions were gone.
But what broke her was that he wanted her to remain afterwards. When he fell asleep, she regarded him and tried to understand what she felt. It wasn't that he was particularly handsome. He wasn't young anymore, far from it, and he drank too much; she could smell it on his skin. And it wasn't as if they actually had something in common. He was a noble, the head of one of the great Houses; poverty was as alien to him as, she imagined, helplessness. Moreover, his kindness to her would surely end as soon as he found out what Trakis intended. Romances weren't the only tales she recalled now; a noble had the right to whip a commoner through the streets if the commoner had offended him.
And yet. And yet. Right now, she did not want to be anywhere else than here, in this room, with this man. Reality would catch up with her soon enough, she knew that; and ultimately she would betray him, or he would find out and turn against her. The past was a nightmare, and every experience she ever had told her there was no future. But there was the present.
He had told her to call him by his name, which she hadn't dared yet. Now that he was sleeping, though, she whispered it, just his name, because she still didn't know what to make of the bewildering confusion that refused to let her go. Then she told the computer to lower the lights, and tried to sleep as well.
Around them, the shadows crept closer.