Fandom: Babylon 5
Characters: Adira Tyree, Trakis, Londo Mollari.
Word Count: 1311
Spoilers: Born To The Purple.
Summary: Adira didn’t want to be a thief, but Trakis gave her no choice.
Written For: Challenge 196: Thief at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Babylon 5, or the characters. They belong to J. Michael Straczynski.
Adira Tyree had never wanted to be a thief; it wasn’t her chosen career path, or something that ever so much as crossed her mind before now. She was a dancer; dancing fulfilled her in ways that little else could, but she also had the misfortune of being a slave.
She had no family, no prestige, no power, none of the things that meant so much in Centauri society. Destitute and alone, she had no choice either, sold to Trakis, his property to do with as he wished. He commanded; she obeyed.
Her task was supposed to be a straightforward one, at least the way Trakis described it; get close to Ambassador Mollari, get invited into his quarters, use the mind probe to obtain the access codes to his data logs, and steal his purple files. A simple series of steps, much like a dance.
The information in those files would be enough for Trakis to blackmail some of the most powerful families in the Centauri Empire for anything he wanted. Money, property, power; they’d withhold nothing, knowing he could ruin them all in an instant if they refused. It sickened her; she had no position on her home world, it was true, but she was still Centauri through and through, and proud to be. Nevertheless, what choice did she have? If she didn’t do as Trakis ordered, he would kill her, and if she did… He’d promised Adira what she longed for most, her freedom, if she did this one thing for him, and freedom was something a slave would do anything to regain.
And yet… following Trakis’s orders was proving more complicated than she’d expected. Getting close to Londo had been the easiest thing in the world for her to do. He was as lonely as she, and had an eye for the ladies. Although no more vain than any Centauri woman, Adira knew herself to be beautiful and it took almost no effort on her part to capture the Ambassador’s attention. What Adira hadn’t expected was the way Londo made her feel.
He treated her with respect, as if she still had the social standing she’d lost so long ago. Being with him made her happy in ways she thought she’d never experience again, or at least not until she was a free woman. She felt cherished, admired, as is she was someone important, and when she was with him, the Centauri Ambassador no less, it thrilled her. Surely none but the Emperor himself held more power than Londo.
She loved her Ambassador, for what he was as well as for who he was, and Trakis wanted her to ruin him. It wasn’t fair, but how could she disobey? She had no desire to die. So she hesitated, put off what she knew she must do again and again.
Tired of waiting, knowing she was stalling, Trakis forced her hand, and like a good slave, she obeyed. She drugged Londo, used the mind probe on him to get his codes. Three words: Wine. Women. Song. The cipher was so wholly Londo the words made her heart ache. Pushing her feelings down, she transferred his purple files to a data crystal and slipped it from its port. All she had to do now was give it to Trakis, and so she contacted him, arranged the handoff.
But doubts started to seep into her mind, thoughts she’d buried before, refusing to consider them. Would he keep his end of the bargain? Now that she had the files in her hand, it seemed unlikely. She was the only person who could link Trakis to the theft, a loose end, and he hadn’t survived this long by leaving alive people who could implicate him in the crimes and schemes he masterminded. All she’d gone through, and he would almost certainly kill her.
If he could find her.
Adira didn’t meet Trakis as she’d arranged; instead she hid, trying to decide what to do. She was a thief now, so turning herself in to station security and begging their protection wasn’t an option. At the very least they would be duty bound to lock her up, and perhaps even to hand her over to her owner. That was a risk she couldn’t take, but what possibilities did that leave? How long could she remain hidden on Babylon 5 with no job and no money? She had no way off the station either. As Trakis’s property, it was his right to hold on to all her travel documentation. Besides, passage aboard any ship cost credits she didn’t have.
When Trakis found her, she thought that would be the end of everything, but once again things didn’t turn out the way she expected them to.
Who would have thought that after all she had done to him, Londo would still treat her with such kindness? He had his purple files back, both his career and the Empire as a whole were unharmed, but surely he should be angry over the way she’d tricked him, shouldn’t he? Even though it hadn’t all been a lie. Far from it. What she’d felt for him had been only too real.
Yet here they were, as Adira waited to board a transport bound for Davo, and there was something akin to affection in Londo’s eyes.
“I never wanted to hurt you.” It was the truth, and she could only hope he believed her. He’d made her so happy she’d almost dared to dream of a future with him. Not as one of his wives, she could never have aspired to such a position; there would have been no political advantage to gain on Londo’s part. But as his lover, perhaps. That would have been more than enough for her, but it would never happen now.
“Adira, I am an old man. I’ve been in love many times, and hurt many times. I’ll survive.”
In love? Did that mean he’d felt as much for her as she’d felt for him? Was that possible? She’d probably never know for sure.
The boarding call for her flight came through the loudspeakers. They were out of time.
“That’s my ship.” She made to leave, but Londo stopped her.
“Adira, you could stay. Now that we have seen beneath our masks. We can have great times together.”
Oh, how she wanted to say yes to him. Her heart trembled with longing inside her, but she knew it was too soon to consider, even if moments before she’d been wishing she could do just that, erase the deceit of the past few days and start over anew.
It took every ounce of strength she had to turn his offer down. “You’re sweet, but the wounds are too fresh.” For both of us, she silently added.
“All right, then take this.” He gave her the exquisite and oh so valuable brooch once more, the one he’d gifted her with the night she’d committed her act of theft. “And wear it,” he insisted, “proudly, as a free woman.”
Perhaps she should have said no to that as well, but she shouldn’t bring herself to. The brooch would serve as a tangible if bittersweet reminder of the time she’d spent with him, and besides, it was so beautiful. What woman could resist such a gift?
But Londo hadn’t finished.
“And someday, come back to me.”
So there was hope, after all. Some day in the future, when they’d had time to heal, he’d be here, waiting to take her back. It was so much more than she deserved, but she knew she would return. How could she not?
“Goodbye, my Ambassador.”
But not forever, because like her there was a bit of the thief inside Londo too. She’d stolen his files, yes, but in turn, he’d stolen her heart, and that was one theft she would never regret.