Avon’s mind slowly returned to consciousness. He spent a few minutes getting his bearings before he opened his eyes. The last few days had been a confusion of memories, real and implanted; and one of his own making.
I didn’t try to kill Vila. That was the only thing he wanted to remember of the last few days. But it wasn’t that simple. He had lived so long with something that wasn’t real; he found that it was hard to accept anything else. His image of himself had been twisted by an enemy. He felt lost. The problem was the insidiousness of what Servalan had done. What she had made him believe was a distortion of the truth.
Avon knew the elements of his own personality which made what she had done so convincing. She had been right. In many ways, he was responsible for what she had been able to achieve. He knew that in order to survive, he could no longer allow her that advantage. He had to overcome his own weaknesses; the things he once thought were strengths.
For now, he could allow himself to experience a little happiness; but not too much. His tortured mind would never let him go for long. There was one fewer nightmare to haunt him; but there were still many others.
Before he opened his eyes, Avon directed his thoughts outwards. There was a voice he wanted to hear first. Cally.
Avon! The response was immediate. Her voice projected into his mind was a welcome presence. It radiated warmth, relief and joy.
Avon remembered saying something to Vila. I have to tell her first.
His tired mind gathered itself and sent her a clear thought; one of warmth and light, something not tainted by darkness. * I love you. *
Her reaction of surprise was very clear. * What did you just say? *
Avon opened his eyes and smiled. "You heard me."
Cally was shocked, confused and filled with an indescribable joy. This was something she had been hoping to hear for a long time. But not now. Just when she had thought she had lost him; when she didn’t know whether to cry or be angry that he had nearly killed himself, he said the one thing she least suspected.
* You’re surprised? * asked Avon when she didn’t respond.
* I’m trying to decide, * she projected to him.
His eyebrows lifted in puzzlement. This was not the response he had been expecting. * Deciding about what? *
* Whether to kiss you or be angry at you for scaring me. *
* Do I get a choice? * he asked teasingly.
* I thought you had died! *
Avon could see she was upset. He realized that he should have checked if it was the right time to express how he felt about her. His eyes expressed his regret. * I’m sorry, Cally. I knew it would upset you but I had to do it. *
* You should have told me, * she projected to him.
He reached out and took her hand in his. * I couldn’t. You would have stopped me. I had to find out what I was capable of. I could not tell you how I felt until I knew. *
* But Avon, you already showed what kind of man you were when you came down to save me. Wasn't that enough? Why couldn't you trust yourself? *
* That was different. I thought I had a chance then. I misjudged Servalan and Sester, * explained Avon.
* Are you saying that you wouldn't have come for me if you had known? *
He squeezed her hand tightly. * I would have come. Even if there was no chance. *
* Then why did you still have to prove it? *
* Because it is only an expression of sentiment. With this. Now I know. *
* Oh, Avon. *
Avon knew that she would have taken him on trust, but unfortunately, he couldn't. He had lived with this memory for so long, it had been like a poison that sickened everything it touched. Despite what he had done for her, it was still there. Confronting it head on, leaving no shadow of a doubt was the only way he could defeat it.
Now it was finished; he had overcome it. He could finally close his eyes to these memories. Avon was no longer afraid of having Cally care about him.
He let go of her hand and reached up to touch her face lightly. There was a light mischievous twinkle in his eyes as he thought towards her * Have you decided? *
* Decided what? *
* Whether to kiss me or to be angry with me. * The corners of his lips curled slightly.
She projected, * You’re getting as bad as Argus. *
* I could not possibly be as bad as he is. * He sent her a lightly affronted tone, but there was a barely suppressed smile on his face now. He sent her, * Kiss me. *
* But there are people here. *
Avon lifted his head slightly and looked around. Argus, Reya and Vila were at the other end of the room, talking to Garett. * So there are. * He looked at her. * Does it matter? *
She bent down to kiss him. It was a kiss full of love, passion and desire; and it was reciprocated.
Argus, Reya and Vila had come to the medical unit in the morning to check in on Avon. Avon had been unconscious since being revived and despite Garett's assurances, they were all worried.
"You're sure he's fine? No brain damage?" asked Argus.
"Yes, Commander. We got to him in time. We were able to revive him without incident," explained Garett with great patience. This was the third time he had been asked this since they came in but Garett was used to this kind of concern.
"When can we see him?" asked Vila.
Garett replied, "He's still unconscious. You can see him briefly but it's best that he gets as much rest as possible. So try not to wake him."
"Do you know when he's going to wake up?" asked Argus.
"I think he's awake," said Vila. His eyes were wide and he was staring at something behind Argus. They all turned to look and saw Cally and Avon kissing.
"Maybe Cally is trying to wake him?" suggested Argus.
Reya said, "I think you need your eyes checked."
"Well, if he's still unconscious then he's doing a good imitation of being awake," said Vila with a smirk.
"I think we should all be leaving now," said Reya. She took the two men firmly by the elbows and pushed them towards the exit. Garett directed his assistants to do the same.
Servalan sat at her desk after Sester had given his report and signed off. She knew her psychostrategist. Though he had never revealed what he was thinking or feeling, she knew he had not been happy at what had been done to Avon. If she had bothered to be honest with him, she would have told him the truth, she had not been happy either.
The Federation President got up and walked over to the window overlooking the gardens. She remembered being angry after discovering that Avon had been able to warp the carefully scripted memories she had prepared for him. Servalan never liked being thwarted by anyone, not even someone she respected and wanted for herself. She realized that she had over-reacted when she had him repeatedly tortured and then subjected to the implanting process again. But his stubbornness had made her angry. In the end she had to give up; each time they had him recall the memories, he kept finding that damned box earlier and earlier. Eventually he would be finding it before he even went to hunt Vila. So she had the blocks placed and left him with the flawed memories; the ones which made him question his own sanity.
She had not realized what that would do to him. He had fallen into a deep depression afterwards and stopped responding to anything, no matter what they did to him. It was as if his mind and heart had died and only left a body. That was why she had sent for Sester, though she never told the psychostrategist this. Sester thought he was there to break Avon for her, and to an extent, that was her purpose. But it had not been her primary reason. She needed to draw Avon out, to give his mind a reason to fight and to think again; she needed someone who would challenge him mentally. And what better one than one of the most gifted psychostrategists of his generation. She gave Avon a playmate. Sester fulfilled her purposes even more than she had hoped. She knew that it would take patience on her part, but Avon was becoming himself again. His sneaky and clever strategy at Pleasure City, had surprised and delighted her; even though it had gone against her own plans.
Servalan realized that Avon had to be given time to recover from what she had done to him. She did not want him destroyed; she needed him to be dangerous again, to be whole again: physically, mentally, psychologically and emotionally.
Emotionally. She wanted him to be able to feel again. That was why she had the damage the Federation had done to him as a child, repaired as much as she could; calling in a favour which had cost her a lot. It had made her angry to know what had been done to him then. There had been no one there to protect him then but she was determined to protect him now. The only one who would be able to hurt him now would be her and no one else.
For now she was surrounding him with people who loved him and would protect him so that he would heal and recover; so that they could prepare him for her. Adding Sester to the group would complete the team she wanted for him.
Servalan smiled conspiratorially. Sester. She knew he suspected her reasons for placing him on the ship but she knew he would do what she ordered him to do. In the end, she might be generous enough to give him the person he wanted; the woman he was trying not to be obsessed with. Cally, of course, had to die. Servalan would not allow any rivals; she was already fuming that she had to tolerate Avon’s obvious affection for her. Argus. She smiled as she thought about Avon's protector and her reluctant assassin. He had too many people that he cared enough about, that he was very vulnerable to her control. She might keep him, if she could continue controlling him. Vila. Servalan was a bit puzzled by Sester’s comments about Vila. She would have to have the thief watched closely.
All in all, Servalan was content. Everything was still working perfectly.