9th Story of Perceptions
Sequel to Pursuing Truth
Introduction: Sester has visitors.
Through a haze of pain, Sester tried to think. Whoever had been at his door before had obviously given up. Either the person thought he was not in his cabin or…
It was too hard to think coherently for any length of time.
Need to relax. Stop thinking about...ahhh. He clutched his head. Have to stop thinking about…ahhh. Sester struck the heel of his hand against head. He would have laughed if it didn't hurt so much. Need something stronger to occupy my head.
Reya. Lips stretched in pain, twitched. Yes, Reya. The way she looks. The pain in his head was starting to ease. Her laughter. The annoyed look she gets. Yes, think about Reya. The feel of her… He had a body now. Not just a head. Nothing but thoughts of Reya. Her honesty. The way she made him feel. He was aware of his breathing again. Muscles clenched tight in his neck and shoulders began to loosen. He slowly tried to straighten up.
At that moment the door to his cabin slid open announcing he was no longer alone. Whoever it was before must not have left. Sester brought his hands to his eyes to block out the light. He couldn't see who it was.
"Sester, are you alright?" Vila's concerned voice reached him from the doorway. "Why is it so dark in here?" For some reason, the darkness of the cabin encouraged low voices.
Sester tried to keep his voice even and light. "Just thinking."
"You do your thinking in the dark?" Vila stayed in the doorway.
Sester chuckled and nearly grimaced. The pain hadn't entirely gone away. It was a good thing it was still dark enough that Vila couldn't see his face. "I thought I'd try something new."
"Is it working?" Vila asked. There were equal parts of curiosity and worry in his voice.
"The verdict is still out. Did you unlock my door?"
"Oh. Yeah. Sorry about that. You weren't answering your door. I got worried. Didn't you hear me call you?"
Sester hadn't. The pain must have blocked out everything else. "I suppose I didn't. I was too busy…trying to think." That part of it is true enough.
There was silence and then Vila offered, "Do you want me to turn the light on but real low?"
It was Sester's turn to be curious. "Why do you think I'd want that?" He was definitely feeling much better.
"Because you left in a hurry. Didn't even come back out. I thought something might be wrong."
"So you came up to check on me?"
"You make it sound like I'm spying on you," protested Vila.
Sester smiled into the darkness. "We both know that's what you've been doing. Why deny it? I don't mind that you've been spying on me."
"You don't? If it were me, I'd be mad," said Vila.
"In my line of work, you become used to many things. Besides, you've been good company. It's not often I can say that about people and mean it."
"Thank you. I think."
Sester chuckled. "It was meant to be a compliment."
Sester could envision Vila trying to decide what to do. His head was definitely feeling much better. This interaction with Vila was helping the rest of the pain to disappear.
Vila said, "You were wrong."
Sester found this interesting. He said with amusement, "It's not often people say that to me."
"You were wrong before when you thought I was spying on you."
"Oh?" Eyebrows lifted in the darkness. Sester wondered what game the others were playing now.
"I'm not sure Avon wants me to watch you anymore. I told them they were wrong about you."
There was a long pause. "Why did you do that?"
"Because I think they are. Wrong I mean."
Sester sat slowly back in his seat. It was time to see faces. "You can turn on the lights. But keep it low."
"Oh. Right." Vila stepped inside, letting the door slide closed behind him. Knowledgeable fingers felt for the familiar panel to the right of the door. Light seemed to steal into the room as Vila slid the light switch slowly until it was bright enough to see shapes and shadows. Then a little more to reveal Sester sitting back casually on a chair with one hand resting on the table. A light, friendly expression was on his face. Not much different from other times Vila had seen him. He could almost convince himself that nothing could be wrong. Except that he knew there was.
Sester asked, "Why are you here, Vila?"
"I thought you might need a friend."
Argus was amazed how someone could convey so much disapproval without saying anything. It was in the stony silence and the unassailable way Reya stood, with her back to him, her arms crossed like a barrier over her chest. Their cabin had become a battlefield.
Argus asked anxiously, "You're mad at me, aren't you?"
He was afraid that she might not answer him. Instead, without turning around, Reya said acidly, "What gave you that idea?"
It was never pleasant feeling as if someone had just shut the door on your face. Argus said, "Because you won't even look at me."
"I don't think you would want me to right now."
Argus swallowed hard. He hated having fights with Reya. He wished that he were better at relationships. "Can we talk about it?"
Reya said with sharp sarcasm, "You? Want to talk? Have you run out of other options?"
Argus winced. He hadn't heard this tone from her since before they finally decided they liked each other. Her remarks could cut like a knife. "You're right. I'm an insensitive idiot."
"It's too bad that you never realize until afterwards."
"I'll try harder." He wondered if falling on his knees or perhaps a knife would help at this point.
"You always promise that afterwards too." Reya headed towards the door.
Argus asked with trepidation, "Are you going to him?"
Reya turned around and stared at him with disbelief and anger on her face. "Why would you say that? Don't you have any faith in me?"
Argus's face fell and his shoulders slumped. He'd made another mistake. Why did he keep doing this?
"I'm sorry. I…didn't mean it that way. Of course I have faith in you." He wanted to hug her, to let her know how he felt about her but he was afraid that she wouldn't let him. His hand felt useless at his sides. "I just thought that you might want to…help him. He didn't look very well. And I was being terrible to him."
"Yes, you were."
"I could go and apologize."
"Would you mean it? Or would you just be doing it for me?"
Argus felt a stab of guilt. She always knew how to reach inside him. "Both. I did mean it before. I am willing to give him a chance and I do owe him for saving our lives. If he is being sincere in helping Avon then I…will be nicer to him."
Reya said accusingly, "You want to use him against Servalan. You said so."
"Yes, that's true. It's an opportunity we can't pass up. But I promise you, Reya I will not take advantage of him."
"You will try being nicer to him?"
"Yes. I promise. I will go and apologize to him now."
Argus stopped just outside Sester's door and gathered himself. He took a deep breath and slowly let it out before he pressed the door buzzer. There was no response. He knew that Sester was in his cabin. He'd checked with Zen.
His hand reached for the buzzer again when the door slid open revealing Vila. "Oh. I wasn't expecting…" A look into the room showed Sester sitting by a table. "I can come back later."
Sester said, "Let him in, Vila."
Argus stepped into the room apprehensively. He wasn't expecting an audience for this apology.
Vila said, "I'd better leave then. You probably want to talk."
Sester said immediately, "No, Vila. I'd like you to stay." From the way Argus was standing, he could tell the man was about to do something that made him uncomfortable. He was in no mood to make him feel one bit less uncomfortable.
Vila looked between Sester and Argus and asked uncertainly, "Are you sure?"
"I'm very sure."
"Alright." Vila sat down again, leaving Argus the only one standing.
Sester smiled at Argus. "You don't mind do you?"
Argus glared at him but he was resolved to do this. He had promised and Sester did have every reason to be wary of him. He forced himself to stop glaring and said, "I came to apologize."
Sester casually ran his fingers along the side of the table. "Did Reya tell you to come and say that?"
Argus took a deep breath. He tried to push down that part of him that was a jealous idiot. He wanted to be sincere in this apology. "No. It was my idea. I'm sorry for playing such a dangerous game with your life. It was wrong of me. You saved my life and Reya's. You did not deserve to be treated like that."
Sester looked at him but didn't say anything. There was a way that the body had to communicate even without benefit of words. In its shape and movements, a psychostrategist could read a lot about a person. It was something they practiced until it became instinctive, a part of their unconscious perceptions. Some people were harder to read than others were. It depended on how internal their thinking was or if they were trying to deceive. Argus was being sincere. Not to mention, the man tended to be transparent.
Sester knew that he could play some not very nice games. Argus was making himself vulnerable to all kinds of possibilities but for some reason, Sester didn't feel like it. "Apology accepted. Was there anything else?"
Argus seemed to think about this. "I will try to be nicer to you."
"I wouldn't want you to force yourself," Sester said with amused sarcasm.
Argus was committed. "I…can't say that it won't be hard. But I want to do this. We both want Avon to get better. I can put aside my differences for him."
Sester regarded him curiously. Argus had said the one thing that meant a great deal to him. Despite their antagonism towards each other, they could agree on this one thing. He stood up and held out his hand. "We both can."
Argus looked down at the gesture and then he grasped Sester's offered hand in a firm shake.
Sester and Vila continued looking at the door after Argus left. Sester asked, "What do you think, Vila? Do you believe him?"
Vila said, "It doesn't matter what I think, does it? The apology wasn't to me."
Sester laughed. "True. But I'd like to know what you think."
"Well, he seems sincere," Vila said hesitantly. It was hard to tell what was on Sester's mind.
"But what does your instinct tell you?"
Vila wasn't sure if Sester wanted to hear this. "I believe him. I think he wants to do it for Avon."
Sester grinned. "Yes, I do believe that too."
Vila asked, "Are you going to?"
Sester turned questioningly towards him. "Going to do what?"
"Try to be nicer to him too."
Sester laughed. "That wasn't the agreement."
Vila asked again, "But are you?"
Sester was full of curiosity at Vila's boldness. "Would you like me to be?"
"Do you need an excuse to?"
Sester burst into laughter. "Very well, Vila. I accept your excuse. I will try to be nicer to him."
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