The Emperor's New Clothes
Fandom: Babylon 5
Warnings: This spans a very long time _ and gets really, really mushy. REALLY
Spoilers: Begins with 3rd Season _ Point of No Return and just goes on.
Archives: BTR - anyone else, must ask
Summary: Vir remembers his life and how he finally became emperor.
Disclaimer: Characters are property of JMS and Babylonian
Productions. Not mine. If I were making money, this wouldn't be a
short story. So don't sue me.
The Centauri Republic was finally going through a change for the better.
After a long twilight and an even longer night, the Centauri Republic was
finally looking at a new dawn. Newly installed Emperor, Vir Cotto looked out the
windows and looked out over the capital. Sunlight streamed through the windows
and glittered off rebuilt roofs.
One of Vir's first Imperial Orders had been to have all the windows in the
Residence unblocked. A brief shadow passed over Vir's face as he remembered
Londo Mollari. He missed Londo. Mollari had been many things, but most of them
unspeakable and even, at times, unthinkable, but he had also been a long time
friend. Vir knew Londo did the best he could, especially at the end. Londo came
through in the end, and now Vir had a new world to lead. A new vision to
encourage. Londo had taken the darkness with him and left the light for someone
who would appreciate it for what it was.
"Your Majesty," a servant said hesitantly, bowing low.
"Yes, what is it?" Vir asked absently, still looking out the window.
"The tailor is here, Majesty," the servant said even more hesitantly, almost
mumbling into the exquisite carpeting.
Vir finally turned, and saw the servant all but cowering. He was struck by
the image. "Oh, no, no, no. Please, get up."
"It wouldn't be seemly, Majesty," the servant said, addressing Vir's shoes.
The servant was old, old enough to have been a young, nubile young woman during
Cartagia's reign. She'd seen the worst of the Centauri Republic.
Vir shook his head. He understood the necessity of servants in the Imperial
Residence, but this sense of being less than sentient was something he was going
to have to overcome.. He reached out to draw the servant to her feet. "Please,
tell the tailor that I'm ready whenever he is."
"Yes, Majesty," the servant said, still not looking at him.
Vir raised her chin gently, making her meet his eyes. "No one will misuse
you. Not while I am Emperor."
"Yes, Majesty." The servant slipped adroitly away, as if she had many years
of practice, which, of course, she did.
Vir shook his head. There was so much to overcome. So much to change, and so
little time. Before he could contrive the thought, the tailor came in with a
bustle of material and assistants. "Now, Majesty, let's finish off this
# # #
Vir Cotto's star hadn't so much risen through Centaur politics and society as
oozed. He'd been of a good House, but not a great one. His appointment as
Ambassador Mollari's attache had been intended as more an insult to Mollari than
a reward for him. Not that Vir had ever seen it as such. Then he'd been packed
off to Minbar at the beginning of the Shadow War. Again, a post meant for one
purpose, but Vir turned it into another.
The Minbari had changed his life. He'd tried to tell Londo, but Mollari would
never listen, or had he? Vir had come to realize over the decades that Londo had
known more and endured more than anyone had ever guessed. Now Vir knew the whole
story. It had all begun with Lady Morella's visit and her Prophesy. The one
which told both Londo and Vir that they'd both be Emperor. One after the other
"I never wanted this," Vir told Londo's image every morning when he awoke.
Londo continued to smirk at him, even from beyond the grave, but the former...
well, everything the Centauri had to offer, was entitled. He'd lived with all
# # #
This is a bold new design, Majesty," the tailor was saying. He, too, was old
enough to have been through the reigns of Cartagia and Mollari. "It isn't at all
Vir looked down, as much as he was able. Gone were the white and gold
brocades with scarlet undertones. They held too much memory of what had been.
Besides, Vir knew he could never keep white clean. Gone also were the fitted
trousers. Emperor Cotto required a more generous cut. A notion, which spoken
aloud in the past, had permanently retired former Imperial Tailors, was now
Vir was being outfitted in a more Minbari style. The cloth was a gold based
brocade, darker and richer than anything the other Emperor's had ever worn. It
suited Vir. Many thought the Imperial Seal would be lost against the darker
background, but amazingly enough, the background made the seal seem to glow with
a more inward light, as if it had a heart of its own. The brocade itself was
picked out in silver and opalescent accents, making the cloth shimmer as the
Emperor moved. The cut, too, was fuller, more flowing, though not quite robes,
the longer coat and fuller trousers gave Vir an ease of movement that reflected
a new found confidence, and thus radiating power.
"Thank you," he finally told the tailor. "You've done well, adapting my ideas
The tailor bobbed his head. "The Emperor is too kind," he replied. "It is an
honor to serve, and if I may speak frankly, I think the Empress will be pleased
"Yes, I"m sure she will."
# # #
Vir never thought to have an Empress. During his years on Babylon 5, he never
thought to have a wife, much less an Empress, not that Lady Analise hadn't
stepped into her role beautifully. It hadn't even been an arranged marriage, not
like with Londo's three wives, Analise had actually chosen him.
She'd come to Babylon 5 not long after Lady Morella had been on board. She'd
been the youngest of four daughters in a House much like Vir's. She'd left
Centauri Prime to see more of the universe before settling down. She ended up
seeing much more than she'd ever imagined.
Vir met her by accident one day while on the station in from Minbar. He'd
taken a possibly unwise short cut through Brown Sector. He wanted a few minutes
alone before handing his report over to Londo. No matter what, the ambassador
was going to rewrite it to scare the people back home. A practice Vir never
understood. For one, just once, he wished he could send his report his way.
"Hey! No! What are you doing? Stop! Leave me alone!" a clearly female voice
cried out. "Help!"
The cry was cut off by the sound of a ringing blow, and a male grunt of
satisfaction. Before he knew what he was doing, Vir went charging into the fray.
The girl was dropped from mere surprise of Vir's appearance. They turned on him,
and one went down by a freak blow of Vir's elbow connecting with, what on most
humanoids would be a nose. A bodily fluid erupted as the male went down. The
"Thank you. Thank you," the girl repeated over and over, as Vir helped her to
"You shouldn't be down here alone," Vir found himself saying, without really
looking at her.
"I know, I know," she replied, not really looking at him. "But I had
a...mission...down here." She seemed to be looking for something.
"What?" Vir was making sure he still had his diplomatic pouch and trying to
figure out what to do next. He should probably call Security, but with half the
Security force these days being Narn, he wasn't sure that was wise. "We should
get out of here before the come back."
"Fine by me," she replied, picking up a small handbag and turning. "I don't
even know the name of my rescuer."
"I'm sorry, I'm Vir," he also turned and stopped suddenly. Before him were
the most captivating green eyes belonging to the most beautiful Centauri woman
he'd ever seen. "Uh...um...Cotto. Vir. Cotto. My name. Lady..."
She smiled, and Vir thought he'd been hit by the rays of several suns. Even
though she winced from the red mark on her cheek. He immediately asked after her
injury. She waved him off. "I'm fine, but please, let me repay you for your
heroism. Come on." She took his hand. "You're right, we shouldn't stay
Vir let himself be dragged along, dumbfounded. "But...but...who ARE you?"
# # #
Two hours later, Ambassador Londo Mollari found Vir and Analise in a cozy
booth in the Zocalo. He didn't care what he was interrupting. He stormed over.
"VIR! There you are! I've been waiting for your report for the last two hours!
Where have you been?"
Vir barely took his eyes off Analise. He absently pulled out his report. "Oh,
Londo, right. Here's my report. Have you met Lady Analise?"
Londo, in his agitation, barely acknowledged her. "Vir, this isn't like you.
Come at one, I have need of you while you're on the station."
Only Analise saw Vir's crushed look. She smiled gently and pat his hand.
"It's all right, Vir. You have work to do. We will talk again."
"Are you sure?" Vir asked, utterly amazed.
"Go on. The Ambassador needs you."
"Yes, Vir," Londo mimicked impatiently. "The Ambassador needs you."
Vir tore himself away from Analise with great difficulty.
# # #
A week or so later, Vir was once more bound for Minbar. Londo was tied up in
political meetings and hadn't come with him to the docking bay. Vir didn't mind.
He had a lot to think about.
"Vir!" a familiar voice called out as he walked.
He turned and nearly dropped everything to see Citizen G'Kar hurrying toward
him. Of all the people he hoped to run into, G'Kar was the last one he expected
to see. "G'Kar?"
"May I walk with you a bit?" the Narn leader in exile asked as he fell into
They walked along a few moments in silence before G'Kar stopped them. "You
once tried to apologize to me for the acts of your people. I
was...ungracious...at the time."
"I remember." In fact, Vir still had the occasional nightmare of the blood
dripping from G'Kar's palm as he intoned the words, "Dead, dead, dead,
"And then there was my ill_advised encounter with Dust."
"You weren't yourself," Vir said, waving it off.
"No. While I was serving my sentence, I had to face myself and my actions. It
is I who should apologize to YOU, Vir. I think many people have underestimated
you, and the strength of your heart. If more Centauri had hears like yours,
maybe we wouldn't be in this mess. Good luck to you, Vir. You keep learning from
the Minbari. Then, when the darkness comes, you'll remember the light and strive
for it." Without waiting for a reply, G'Kar walked away.
Vir was speechless. He stood and stared a moment. Then had to hurry to check
in for his flight.
# # #
The universe wasn't through with Vir yet. Just as he settled down to wait for
boarding, another familiar voice interrupted him. This time he was pleasantly
surprised to see Analise hurrying toward him, a bag slung over her shoulder, and
wearing something rather un_Centauri_like. She slipped into a chair next to
"I was afraid I'd miss you and the flight," she said without acknowledging
"Wha...wha...?" Vir stuttered, unable to make a complete coherent
"I'm going with you."
"I'm going to Minbar, too."
Just then their flight was called.
# # #
Then the Shadow War came upon them all. Vir was recalled to Babylon 5. He
managed to convince Analise to stay on Minbar and out of harm's way. For once,
since she blew into his life, she listened to him.
"Just promise you'll come back for me, Vir Cotto," she whispered, urgently in
his ear just before he boarded his ship. "I'll wait for you."
She started to go, but only got a few feet away when she came back and
planted a passionate kiss on the very surprised Vir. She left then, nodding
pleasantly to Delenn and Lennier as she passed. The Minbari Ambassador to
Babylon 5 and her attache joined Vir, smiling benignly on the stunned
"She is a lovely girl, Vir," Delenn said, glancing back the way Analise had
gone. Her smile and expression took on a knowing look. "I have enjoyed getting
to know her."
"You...you, Ambassador..." Vir still couldn't make a coherent sentence.
"The lady Analise has made herself quite useful among us in the Religious
Caste," Lennier explained. "She has an insatiable desire to learn."
"I find her quite refreshing," Delenn finished. "She has a good heart."
Vir stared off beyond the two Minbari. "Yes, yes she does."
# # #
The Shadow War heated up, and Vir found himself caught up in the middle of
the worst of it in the heart of the Centauri Republic. Londo kept Vir close to
him because Mollari knew of anyone, Vir was the one he could trust. Vir was the
one on one would suspect to know anything. In the end it had been Vir who'd
taken the life of Emperor Cartagia.
In a way, it had been an accident, Vir's involvement. Londo was supposed to
inject the emperor, but Cartagia had gone into one of his psychotic rages. He
knocked the needle out of Londo's hand. Vir had seen it, picked it up and meant
to pass it on to Londo, but Cartagia turned unexpectedly. The needle almost
impaled the emperor on its own.
No one had ever known except him and Londo. No one but Analise. She'd met
them at Babylon 5 and took him from Londo. She held him for three days until
he'd wept, drunk and finally slept himself out. When he awoke, she was still
there. He slowly focused on her.
"Yes, Vir, I'm here. I'm still here."
"You...know," he said, burying his head in his hands.
There was something unexpected in her voice. He looked up. There was no hate
in her face. No fear. No condemnation. But there was something there. Something
that made him say what he thought was the most stupid thing he could, but would
have the greatest impact on his life. "Well, now that you know, I should either
kill you or marry you."
She smiled an enigmatic half smile. "Well, if those are my only two options,
I chose marriage."
That got Vir's attention. He looked up in amazement. "What?"
"If that was a marriage proposal, then I accept." She sat down next to him
and took his hand. "Vir, haven't you ever wondered WHY I'm not already married?
I mean besides the fact I'm too brazen, opinionated, stubborn and
"No, Vir, it's true, and let me finish," she scolded gently. "There are
reasons I'm here and not back on homeworld. I WAS looking for a husband, not an
arrangement to some old Lord Fuddy Duddy with political connections and money. I
wanted someone with a good heart. Someone who would do something worthwhile with
his life, the best he could. Someone I could love unconditionally. That's not
possible on homeworld."
"But...but...but" Vir sputtered.
"I also didn't want to be the youngest wife of some pompous cretin in court.
I know it sounds selfish and very un_Centauri, but I never wanted to be A wife,
I want to be THE wife. The only one, like the Humans and Minbari. I wanted a
"Oh, for heaven's sake, Vir! I've stopped looking, haven't you realized that?
I love you, but if you don't want me..."
"NO!" Vir protested. "No, no, no, no." He finally came to grips with what she
was saying. "You...you love ME?"
"Yes, Vir, I love YOU. Why do you sound so surprised? You're a good man, Vir.
I'm just surprised no one else has realized it before me." There was laughter in
her voice, but genuine amusement and affection, without a hint of derision.
"Because, because, I love YOU," Vir said, as if by saying it out loud now
would make it any less untrue or make her leave. "I have ever since I met
"I know, Vir. I know. I've just been waiting for you to say it."
"But how? How can you...after what I've done?"
Analise took his face in both her hands and made him look at her. He had to
see the truth in what she was about to say. "You did what you had to do, Vir.
What was necessary. You were protecting your own, the Empire, your family...
I've heard about what Cartagia's done to the Empire. I've also heard your heart
these last few days. You're NOT the monster you think you are, Vir. You're a
good man who had to make a difficult choice. You didn't enjoy it, and you won't
do it again..."
"What if I did?"
"You're thinking of Mr. Morden."
Vir was surprised. "How did you...?
"You talked about more than just the Emperor in the last few days, Vir,"
Analise said gently. "Mr. Morden is another problem for another time. The
universe might take care of Mr. Morden for us, Vir. You're not a killer."
"We can hope."
"So, what's it going to be Vir? Are you going to kill me or marry me?"
"Well, you just said I wasn't a killer..." Then Vir did something he had
usually only dreamed about. He pulled Analise to him and kissed her
passionately. His hands suddenly finding a life of their own. Analise giggled,
but didn't push away.
# # #
The news of their impending nuptials spread quickly and with mostly happy
wishes. Londo's reaction was simply, "Well, if you must. You must." Though deep
down, Londo was jealous. Vir had found love. The rest of the ambassadors and
attaches were a bit more excited for him. Delenn most of all, given her own
upcoming wedding to Captain John Sheridan, once things returned to something
"I knew I liked the girl, Vir," Delenn told him privately. "She has a good
heart, and very good taste in men. She is a very lucky woman."
"Ambassador, I think I am the lucky one."
# # #
Vir indeed proved lucky. Londo had the Shadows removed from Centauri Prime
and eliminated Morden. Vir had been able to wave at Morden's head on a pike
without getting more blood on his hands. He and Analise were married in a
modest, quiet ceremony in the capital before Vir was installed as the new
Ambassador to Babylon 5.
On the trip back to the station, Analise squeezed his hand and whispered in
his ear. "I wouldn't be surprised if you became Emperor someday."
It was all Vir could do not to choke. He'd never told her about Lady
# # #
That had been a very long time ago. Vir and Analise had had a good life on
Babylon 5. During the course of his tenure, they'd both become aware of the
secret the Emperors of the Centauri Republic, and had helped Londo destroy the
darkness and restore the light. It had been Londo's last request of Vir, for
destroying the darkness had cost Londo his life. Londo accepted the price
willingly. It was the last gift he could give his people.
Vir and Analise had wept real tears at Londo's funeral. Even G'Kar had put in
a brief appearance, arriving and departing mysteriously and unexpectedly, but
that had defined the nature of G'Kar and Londo's relationship. Then Vir had to
take on the mantle of Emperor. Londo had named him successor, finally fulfilling
Lady Morella's prophesy.
Vir had promised to do his best.
# # #
"We're about finished here, Majesty," the tailor was saying.
"It's about time."
Vir and the tailor turned to see Analise leaning in the doorway. She wore a
flowing gown of the same material Vir wore. Except on her, the whole thing
glowed. She came in and looked Vir up and down and all around.
"Empress?" the tailor asked nervously.
"I do believe I have the most handsome husband in the universe."
"You flatter me, Lady," Vir answered, climbing down from the stool he was
standing on to embrace his wife, careful not to muss anything "You, on the other
hand, have always been more beautiful than a sunrise."
"Come, Vir, the people are expecting us. It's been a year. They've seen the
changes you've made..."
"We've made," Vir corrected.
She smiled one of her radiant smiles that warmed his soul. "We've made," she
corrected. "Now let's show them the handsome man I fell in love with. It would
be a shame to waste such a fine outfit."
Vir took her hand, and they swept out of the room. A moment later the tailor
nearly wept with joy when he heard the roar of approval from the crowds outside
the residence. The tail was vain enough to think it was for the clothes. He
never realized it was the man who made the clothes and never the other way