Avon sat on a chair in a dimly lit room, he was restrained with his hands behind him to the chair; it was Servalan's private office at Residence One. The Federation President was not present and he was alone. What is she up to now?
Back in his cell, he had just been administered a counter-agent to the sedative when the black-hooded presidential guards entered his cell. Groggy and still exhausted after only two hours of rest, he had been conveyed to Residence One and entered via the secret underground passage. The guards had brought him to Servalan's empty office, restrained him to the chair and left; but not before turning out the lights.
In the near dark, the mind he could no longer control, began playing tricks on him. He knew there was an approaching madness he could not prevent.
He remembered the last time he was here and what he had done. He had resolved never to give her that satisfaction again. With what they had subjected him to in the past two months, he had doubted that there was anything else she could threaten him with which would force him to give in to her demands again.
They had not used his mind against him in this way in along time, not since Gauda Prime, not since they had partially broken him there.
He had to admit that. At Gauda Prime, they had crushed him to the point where he had accepted a compromise, had chosen to give in rather than to face the nightmares again. They had always had this as their ultimate weapon against him.
Torture he could face, had proven he could face for over a year; the worst that the Centre's specialists could subject him to; drugs, physical torture, psych treatments, induced visions, everything in their arsenal of torture and control. He had endured it all.
But the nightmares… The man whom most people did not think possessed a soul, discovered the destruction of it was killing him in a way the none of the other tortures had been able to.
It's not a matter of revenge, it's a matter of getting what I want. Servalan had said that to him.
And what do you want this time Servalan he thought to himself. From his vantage point, seated a distance in front of her desk, he could see something familiar, ORAC's activation key.
No, he thought, they could not be after ORAC, not without break the agreement. Was it an accident they had seated him here in front of the activation key or could they have guessed? Even though he could not see them, he knew there had to be security cameras somewhere, watching him. It would not make sense that they would leave him completely unobserved.
I know that you did do something and I will find out what it is. The psychostrategist's voice reminded him.
Has Sester guessed? Or are they manipulating my mind in order to find out the truth? He couldn't allow that to happen but once focussed, his mind began preying on these thoughts.
Avon continued trying to fight the nightmares but it was no good; he had never been able to fight them before and now was no different. He was sweating from the effort; he was breathing as if he was running a desperate race.
"No!" It's not real, he told himself.
ORAC would find the antidote, he had to believe that. He did not believe in human beings but he did believe in the implacability of computers to achieve their directives; his directives, even ORAC. His mind could not make him doubt that but regardless of whether it was ORAC or the ASP which found the antidote first, he still needed the crew in order to escape, and it had always been the human element which let him down.
You've made a deal, haven't you? Argus accused him as he lay on the ground bleeding after Avon shot him. I knew you couldn't be trusted.
Avon the Betrayer. Vila had accused him, on his face was hurt, anger, disappointment, hatred, eyes full of burning hatred; Avon could feel it like a fire burning him alive. He tried to run but he couldn't move, he tried to scream but he couldn't make a sound.
Why are you doing this? I thought you had changed Cally had said. The only one left who understood him, did not understand. Are you a lost cause Avon? Her soft voice cut him like a knife.
I am no one's cause thought Avon. There was a tearing loneliness inside him, a painful emptiness he had never allowed anyone to fill; no one except Anna, the woman who had then turned on him and cut out his heart. Pain. He looked down at his chest; he could see the knife she had stabbed him with. It was twisting around and around.
He moaned in pain.
They were not coming for him; none of them would come for him. He had made a serious mistake; he would be trapped here forever, never able to escape the ghosts.
Run Avon! There's nowhere you can hide from us. We're not coming to rescue you, we're coming to kill you. Argus, Vila, Jenna, and Cally chased him with guns lifted to fire.
"No!" he shouted into the empty room but the emptiness would not leave him alone.
A light turned on suddenly, bright and insistent, chasing away the apparitions of his mind. His mind relaxed.
"Who turned the lights off?" Servalan sounded mildly annoyed, as if commenting on a breach of etiquette. "That was bad manners. I'm terribly sorry." She had entered from the door behind him and now stood beside his chair. He looked at her expressionlessly; the exhaustion was clearly etched on his face as was the strain from the last few hours, he was still breathing heavily.
"Do you know why you're here?" Servalan asked him.
"You haven't filled your quota of people to torture?"
She laughed and caressed his face. "I missed you, specifically I missed your talents. You should be flattered."
He knew he could not afford another session like this in her office, not even if it was by accident. He had not given anything away yet but he knew it was only a matter of time. Eventually the mind he could no longer control, would betray him. He could not risk giving them any indication that he had found a loophole in their agreement; could not give her any reason to keep him here, in the dark.
"I am giving you a choice, you can give me what I want tonight or you can stay here alone, until tomorrow."
"I don't suppose there's a third option."
"I could keep you here for two days."
He had no choice, his head bowed in resignation. "Release me."
He could feel her removing his restraints from the chair, and then came around in front of him and re-attached them to his wrists. Servalan took his elbow and helped him up; he grimaced at the shooting pains from his knee, every movement caused fresh agonies. Standing unsteadily, holding onto her for support, he put his arms around her as far as the chains allowed and kissed her.
As they embraced, Servalan felt both his passion and the anger which always lay beneath, as well as his reluctant willingness to give her what she wanted, at least what he thought she wanted. After a few moments, she pushed him away and put her finger on his lips. "That's a good start."
She knew that the last time she had put him in this position, despite his hatred of her, there had still been an unmistakable element of intense physical pleasure, even for him. It will be very different this time she thought.
"Let's go upstairs where it's more comfortable."
You mean comfortable for you, Avon thought. She took a few steps back and waited. He looked at her. "So that's how it's going to be.
He was tired of playing her games but for now, he had no choice. Let her believe what she wants, that I am willing to do this because I can't face the nightmares. She can never find out the true reason.
He took a tentative step forward, he gritted his teeth at the agony that came from his injured knee.
You will have your fun tonight but one day I will kill you with my own hands.
Another step forward, his knee almost buckled from the pain.
You had better come through ORAC.
Another step, he stumbled and fell, the sensation was like hundreds of tiny daggers moving inside the knee. He tried to get up but his knee would not cooperate.
"How clumsy you are," Servalan said as she helped him up. She spoke to him like a mother speaking to an awkward child.
He stood unsteadily on his feet, holding onto her.
"Come Avon." She led the way forward slowly.
By the time they finally made it upstairs, the pain was excruciating and he was breathing heavily. She lowered him down so that he could sit on the edge of the bed. He bent over with his eyes closed, trying to control the pain.
"Would you like something to drink?" she asked.
"Some arsenic?" he asked with a strained voice.
She chuckled. "Sorry none of that, how about your favourite drink? I obtained another supply since you finished my last bottle."
"So this is revenge for drinking your best brandy?" he asked as she went to pour them both drinks.
She laughed and did not answer him, she brought the drinks over. He was still partially bent over, it was clear that the pain had not gone away; the Centre interrogators were very good at their job as were the medical division. Servalan handed him the glass but he did not take it, he remembered the last time she had handed him a drink, it had been drugged.
"Don't worry, I would never spoil good alcohol; coffee maybe, never the brandy."
He straightened up, took the glass and drank it without another word; there was a familiar warmth, it helped with the pain. She took the glass when he was finished, put it beside hers on the night table and sat down beside him. She traced his lips with her fingers. "Now where were we?"
With his knee still in agony, he kissed her again: hatred, passion, pain and exhaustion, blending together.
That night he met her demands of him until he had nothing left to give. It was not difficult considering he was always kept weakened by the Centre drugs and was perpetually in various stages of healing from injuries designed to physically incapacitate him and to maintain a constant level of pain.
In addition, Sester had made sure that Avon was not brought to Servalan until he was at the point of near collapse.
Two hours later Avon was gasping for breath, he was in agony. Servalan had her arms around him, not allowing him to pull away from her.
It seemed months ago that they had first spent the night together; then, in order to do what Servalan wanted of him, he had allowed the passion to overcome his hatred. This time, he had used the passion to fight the pain; focusing his mind and his body on his desire for her in order to block out the agony.
He should have known that forcing him to sleep with her was not enough for Servalan; she had to humiliate and control him. Her pleasure when causing him pain was even greater than any other physical enjoyment she could derive from him; and having both together must have been intoxicating for her.
He did not want to be reduced to this but he had no choice; it was either this or run the risk the of having them finding out about ORAC.
The bruises and the barely healed ribs from the interrogation sessions were little more than mild annoyances compared to the pain from his knee, every movement now was unbearable.
Servalan stroked her hand across his bare chest and caressed him gently as he struggled with the pain. She had pushed him as far as he could go and he had given her great pleasure but she knew it had been torture for him.
It had been planned that way. The inflicting of the injuries had been very deliberate, the reason was to reinforce that serving her in this way, as a punishment, was only meant as pleasure for her, that had been at Sester's insistence; so she had pushed her captive until there was nothing left but the pain.
She leaned forward and kissed him, he responded; Servalan was pleased. Tonight, at the height of her own passion, she could almost feel his pain and suffering, it had been exhilarating, even more enjoyable than their first night together. In a way it reflected her relationship with him over the years; she both desired him and wanted to destroy him.
Avon's body stiffened as fresh stabs of pain came from his knee. He moaned and gripped her arm for support; she held him until it was over. It was a rare act of kindness in almost two years of abuse and torment. It was an unfamiliar gentleness, something he had not experienced since Anna.
Anna….the woman who betrayed him and had torn out what little there was of his heart. Treacherous, dangerous Anna. His enemy; his lover and Servalan, who left no kindness unpunished and wanted to use and control him.
With his mind full of these thoughts, he tried to push Servalan's arm away from him, tried to free himself from her. He only succeeded in aggravating his knee; more piercing hot daggers. He groaned as he fought against her hold, but with the weakness and the pain, she easily overpowered him.
"Stop fighting me Avon, you're hurting yourself." He stopped, his struggle must have aggravated one of his broken ribs, he was breathing in short agonized gasps.
"Why must you always make it hard for yourself?"
There was no answer, only the pained laboured breathing. Servalan was still holding him.
"Talk to me Avon."
He was so tired. The constant pain sapped what little strength remained but he had no choice, he tried to focus, tried to answer her; he did not want to go back to the darkness.
Without warning, she had reached down between them and pressed down on his injured knee, his body stiffened in pain. She held him and pushed harder, he cried out involuntarily. The sensation of daggers in his knee seemed to pierce directly into his brain.
"Stop," he told her in a weak voice.
She continued pressing.
She did not stop.
He tried to move away from her but she was still holding him with her other arm. She pushed down harder.
"Stop," a strangled shout stifled by a cry of pain.
The pressure stopped but her hand stayed touching his knee.
"Are you going to talk to me now?"
"If you had said that earlier, you would have saved yourself some pain."
"Only some?" he said in a voice dripping with sarcasm.
"You made me very angry when you disappeared; but you've pleased me tonight, so your punishment for that is over."
He looked at her, waiting, he knew that she wasn't finished. She was like a beautiful snake, poised to strike but only taking small bites at a time, cruelly delaying the final strike because it amused her.
She continued, "Unfortunately the treatments will continue. I know that you did not break our agreement, but I know you Avon, I know that you did something in the two days you disappeared; you put something into action, something you won't tell us. I am setting Sester to find out what it is, and until you reveal it to us, your suffering will not end, it will only get worse."
There was nothing he could say.
"You may sleep now Avon."
Servalan released her hold on him and depressed a button in her nightstand, a drawer slid open. She reached inside and took out a bio-injector which she had obtained from the Detention Centre, it was already set to the mix of sedatives and drugs normally used on him. She injected the contents into his neck. Placing an arm across his chest again, she held him as the drugs took effect and he slept.
She regarded him with fondness as she watched him sleeping, it had been a very good night. He had still been able to give her great pleasure despite the pain; she had not thought it possible but this was one of his remarkable talents which was now at her disposal.
She had many conflicting feelings for the man beside her. She enjoyed the feel of his body as she caressed him. A part of her derived great enjoyment from hurting him but another part ached with him when he was in pain; a part which did not serve her purposes.
These past two years of controlling, torturing and using him had been immensely satisfying. The ability to be able to visit him whenever she wanted, even if it had only been to hurt him, had fulfilled a need in her that she was afraid to admit to anyone else.
One day I am going to have to kill you she thought.