Before Argus could return to Reya, he had one final thing to do. He was now on the flight deck after giving Vila a break.
"Zen, contact Servalan's command ship. Frequency 6982.1. Use access code A5428. Log all communications under my personal security code tied to my voiceprint."
"Confirmed. Communications channel open."
Servalan's face immediately appeared on the main viewscreen.
"Commander. You broke our agreement."
"No. Servalan. I had already told you, I will not force my crew to work with you. That includes Avon. He is not just a pawn for you to move around."
Servalan smiled. Argus was starting to get very irritated by her smile. He had never seen one so genuine in its insincerity.
"Yes, you did say that. And you're a man of your word."
"It still remains to be seen whether you're a woman of yours," said Argus cynically.
"Now, Argus. After all I've done to prove my sincerity? I returned Avon. In fact he is in better condition now than he has been in along time."
"You removed the implant," remarked Argus.
"Yes. That was not one of the conditions but I did it to prove my good faith." Servalan was trying to sound sincere. It had variable results.
"I'm sure you had other motivations," said Argus with strong sarcasm.
"You are very irritable today," said Servalan.
"Stop with the fun and games, Servalan. I'm not in the mood. What do you want me to do?"
Avon was trying to rest but he was restless and uncomfortable. After congratulations from everyone on the removal of the implant, they had all left him alone.
He hadn't taken the sedatives; Avon wanted to think.
Many things had happened since they first arrived at Papos. There were many things he needed to sort out; needed to understand.
Being alone was having an adverse effect that he had not considered. Avon had always told himself he wanted to be alone. He could only take people in small, controlled doses; he was a man who normally preferred the solitude of his own company.
Sometimes he did miss people. Missed the interaction and the energy. That was what he had discovered on the Liberator and the Scorpio; though he would never admit it to them, or even to himself.
The years of being imprisoned had taught him what being alone truly meant. Servalan had taught him that. Avon reacted angrily at the thought. All the days in isolation. He had felt very alone.
Avon's jaw tightened, his fists clenched in rage. He could feel his control slipping. The flood of memories and the aching loneliness that came with them threatened to overwhelm him.
That made him even angrier.
I can't let this happen. Avon's eyes closed in concentration. The tide of feelings and the memories came under control. Just.
I don't want to be alone. I can't be alone.
Sester looked at the woman sitting across from him. He had mixed feelings about being here but there was no turning back.
"Welcome back," said the woman.
"Thank you, Madame President."
The door buzzer sounded in Cally's cabin.
Cally rolled to face the door. She had been asleep.
She said groggily, "Who is it?"
There was a pause then through the door she heard the answering reply, "Its Avon."
Cally immediately sat upright and got out of bed. She pulled on a robe and went to open the door for him.
Avon stood in the doorway. Seeing what she had on, Avon said, "I'm sorry. I should have known you would be asleep. I'll come back some other time." He turned to go.
Cally touched his arm to stop him. She knew that he would not be disturbing her at this hour without a good reason. She didn't want him to leave.
"No. It's alright. Come in." She moved aside to let him in.
Avon stood poised at the threshold of her cabin. For some reason, he was nervous. This was not the first time he had been to Cally's cabin, either here or on the Liberator. But in the past it had always been for practical reasons; to inform her of something, to ask her something, or to work on something.
He had never come for purely personal reasons before.
"Avon?" She looked at him questioningly.
Avon entered the cabin. He stood awkwardly in the middle of the room, not sure what to do next; he hadn't thought what he was going to do once he arrived. All he knew was that he didn't want to be alone.
Cally was puzzled. He had obviously come there for a reason, but he only stood there, not moving.
"Do you want to sit down?" Cally gestured to a chair.
He looked down at the indicated object. For a moment Cally wasn't sure if he was going to sit down, or just stare at it. Avon sat down while Cally pulled up a chair next to him.
"What is it, Avon? Why are you here?" she asked him gently.
As Avon sat looking at her, he was suddenly afraid. The feelings of guilt were never far away.
I've done so many things, Cally. What would you think of me if you found out? Would I disgust you? Would you push me away?
Avon needed her but he was afraid she wouldn't want him. He suddenly felt tired and ill. It was the kind of tiredness which no amount of sleep would ever cure.
After his continued silence, Cally asked, "Are the nightmares bothering you? Are the drugs not working?" There was quiet concern in her voice.
"I didn't take them. I needed to think," Avon told her.
"And that thinking brought you here?"
His eyes searched hers.There was intenseness to his gaze that was disconcerting.
"Can I stay here tonight?" he asked her.
"What are you asking, Avon?" Cally was shocked. She didn't know what to think. A moment like this was not what she had been expecting at this hour.
"I don't want to be alone," he told her.
Cally realized what he was really asking. "You just want to be here? With me? Nothing else?"
"I know what you want, Cally. But I can't give it to you. Not yet."
Cally knew that if she pressed him, he would likely leave.
It was already a big step for him to come to her tonight; to admit that he needed her. She was not going to let him down. If this was what he needed, then she would give it to him.
She had been aware of the increasing tides of fear emanating from him. It seemed to be making him feel ill.
"Alright," she told him. "I'll prepare something for you to sleep on."
Avon gave a sigh of relief. He had been afraid that she would insist on more than he was capable of giving her now.
You always understood me. That's never changed.
"Thank you, Cally. One day, I will be ready. I promise you."
He stretched out and took one of her hands in his. It was such an unexpected and intimate gesture that it caught her breath.
"Are you sure you're not ready now?" she asked softly.
Avon closed his eyes as if he was in pain. His head bowed and his hand tightened around hers. "Yes," he said in an anguished voice. "I wish it was different."
Hesitantly, she reached out and touched his face. Avon almost flinched. In his mind, he remembered another touch, with the barrel of a gun, a cold cellar and an enemy.
His every instinct was causing him to recoil from her touch.
Avon willed himself to stay still. He had come to her tonight out of his own need but he realized it wasn't just about him. He knew what she wanted; he had known for along time.
When Cally felt his reaction, she drew her hand away. "I'm sorry."
"It's not your fault," said Avon in a choked voice. He lifted his head to look at her. Cally could see the misery on his face; the pain and anguish in his eyes. "It's mine," he told her.
She could sense so much internal agony in Avon that she wanted to cry for him; because he couldn't.
What did they do to you, Avon? What did Servalan do? Is that why you wouldn't let me touch you before?
Cally wanted to put her arms around him and comfort him but she knew that it would cause him more distress. She didn't want him to run. He had come to her tonight, admitting weakness and a need for companionship.
Instead she said, "Do you remember what you asked me on the planet, Avon?"
"Will you wait?"
"Yes. I will, Avon. For as long as you need."