Jenna punched the numbers into the keypad, imagining all manner of unpleasant things for the man who seemed to be staring at what she was doing, but couldn't possibly be. "Stop staring at me!"
Avon cocked his head. "Who are you talking to?" He hadn't heard anyone enter his lab.
"You!" She entered the last number with a stab of viciousness. "And yes, I know you're blind! And yes, I know it's my fault!"
"You're tired." He felt the panel in front of him and flicked a switch.
"Stop pretending!" She didn't know why she was yelling but it felt good.
"There is nothing wrong with my ears." He noticed people had a tendency to speak louder to him even though he was only blinded. It had been amusing at first, then annoying but now he generally ignored it. Jenna's outburst was different.
"Stop pretending you care."
"It's a matter of self-interest." Avon's sightless eyes turned to her. "If you make a mistake, I would have to start over."
"I knew it!" It was annoying that he couldn't benefit from her glare.
"It must be comforting." Sarcasm briefly curled Avon's lips. "Have you finished?"
"Yes, I've bloody well finished!" She lifted the data pad to throw it at him but slammed it down on the table instead.
"Good. Once you've had some rest, I have another file for you to input."
"You…" She was feeling hot under the collar.
"Yes?" Avon's face was impassive but she imagined he was being insufferably smug underneath.
She shoved back on her chair and got up. "Nothing! I'll be back."
"Don't take too long." He bent over his task again. "Computer. Bring the last data model online."
Jenna glared at him but Avon no longer seemed to be paying attention to her.
"Fine!" She stalked towards the door and crashed into Vila. "Ahh! Why don't you look where you're going?" The whole world seemed to be against her today.
Vila rubbed his forehead. "What did I do?"
"Nothing!" Jenna's look dared him to say something before she clomped out loudly.
"What's with her?" Vila asked as he came over to where Avon sat in front of the computer. "Did you do something?"
Avon straightened up, his face blank but tension crinkling the corner of his eyes at the new interruption. "We were working."
"That would put me in a bad mood too," Vila chuckled good naturedly. Not even a huge bruise on his forehead - he could feel it growing as they spoke, a big red one - could dampen his spirits today.
"Are you here for a useful reason?"
"Oh, yeah. Are you coming tonight?" The event being Argus's pre-bonding party, though Vila liked the old name, a bachelor party. He wasn't sure why they used to call it a 'stag' party.
"Yes." Avon turned towards the computer again.
Vila beamed. "That's alright then, see you tonight." He turned to go and then whirled around and stared at Avon.
Avon was becoming quite good at interpreting sounds and before Vila could get a question out, he said, "You want to know why?"
"You're…" Vila's face scrunched up at Avon's oddly social behaviour. His eyes brightened. "You're curious about the wolf?"
A smile pulled at the corner of Avon's lips but his voice was expressionless. "A scientific curiosity."
The small movement did not escape Vila's sharp eyes. "You don't fool me, Avon."
"I wasn't trying to." He turned to his work. "Computer, run tests…"
"Why do you do that?" Vila pulled up a chair and studied him. He found that without his eyes, Avon wasn't as careful about keeping his emotions from appearing on his face. Maybe it was easy to forget if you couldn't see anyone else's reactions either.
Avon's jaw tightened when he heard the movement of the chair. "I'm trying to test a different algorithm for the Shade antidote."
It didn't answer Vila's question but the mentioned of Shade robbed some of the wind from his sails. "Oh." He leaned over to look at the data model. "You found anything yet?"
Avon turned dim eyes to stare at him. "I might if you stop interrupting."
"Alright, alright. I know when I'm not wanted." Vila got up from the chair with a sniff. Before he left, he said, "You know, it wouldn't kill you to admit you're coming because Argus is your friend. I wouldn't tell anyone."
Jenna stalked the corridors like a predator, determined to pick a fight with the next person who was unfortunate enough to cross her path. The Thaarn's machine had brought out some unpleasant truths about herself. She had nothing, no one on this ship liked her and her position as Avon's assistant - more like personal slave - was irritating and demeaning.
She was older than any of the women on the ship, and she looked it. And those damned soldiers still insisted on calling her "ma'am"!
Lt. Dain appeared at the end of the corridor, walking with the confidence of a young man in his prime. His head nodded politely as he passed her, "Ma'am."
Jenna rounded on him like a panther pouncing on a prey. "Don't you dare call me that!"
Dain's eyebrows rose high on his head. "Ma…I didn't mean to offend. My apologies."
"You don't have to be so excruciatingly polite, if you don't like me say so!"
The level-headed young man stared at Jenna's wildly flashing eyes. His manner was calm and firm, like the competent lieutenant he was. "You're upset."
"And don't be so damned patronizing!" She planted her hands at her waist, dug in her feet and glared at him.
He took in her posture at a glance. There were many ways to deal with this kind of situation but Jenna was a civilian who was not under his command. Not to mention she was a woman who seemed intent on taking a bite of someone.
Dain glanced at his black-strapped chronometer. "I can meet you in the gym in an hour. I have something to do right now."
Jenna was almost screaming at him. "And why would I want to do that?" She needed to explode at someone but the lieutenant refused to rise to her bait.
His voice was calm. "You need to work out your aggressions."
Her voice dripped sarcasm. "And you think a workout will help?"
"A workout with me."
"And what's so special about you?"
"Nothing at all, Jenna. But I'm offering. I suggest you accept."
He was being so helpful that it was deflating her anger. "This had better be good."
"That depends on how hard you can punch."
Argus prowled the empty flight deck, like a sinewy beast on silent padded feet.
Zen reported, "Communication channel established."
"Put it onscreen, Zen."
The Federation President's eyes shone with anticipation. "Commander. How good of you to call."
Argus was in a growling mood. "You wanted this meeting."
"So I did, but it's always a pleasure talking to you."
"Don’t expect me to return the sentiment."
One does not like this woman, growled the Wolf.
That makes two of us.
"What deviousness are you up to now, Servalan?"
The screen flashed. There was a howl of pain in his head as he put his hand to his eyes. His mind opened up to the memories that had been denied to him.
The Wolf snarled at the screen. "One will not do that again."
A cold - very unfamiliar - shiver ran up Servalan's spine. She backed away from the screen before she realized what she was doing. Argus had been menacing before but this was different. "I don't know what you mean."
The amber eyes flashed. "One will not make fire on the screen."
"Fire?" The eyes seemed to bore straight into her soul. Anger rose up. Servalan was not used to being intimidated. "Don’t forget yourself, Commander."
Argus blinked and his eyes closed for a second. When he opened them again, there was undisguised anger. "You've been playing with my mind."
"I don't know what you…"
"Skip it, Servalan. You can't fool me anymore. I know what you've been doing."
"Do you, now?" Her voice was smooth.
"You've been using me. Controlling me." Fiery eyes glared at her, the slightly amber glow was disturbing. "I was a fool to make an agreement with you. That is now over."
It was Servalan's turn to be angry. "You don't know what you're saying. I can take Avon back any time I want. The only way to keep him safe is…"
The Wolf's growl started at the base of Argus's throat and burst into a roar. "I will keep Avon safe!" His voice lowered to a deadly rumble that seemed to rock the walls. "If you touch him, we will kill you."
"Don't try to threaten me."
Argus's eyes were like fire. "You know it was not a threat."
Servalan was like ice to his fire as she pushed down an involuntary shiver. "You're making a serious mistake, Commander. There is still an alien incursion to deal with."
There was a pause.
What do you think, Wolf?
One must kill the enemy.
I agree, but there are still the aliens to deal with.
"Very well," said Argus. "That is the only part of the agreement that will remain."
Servalan was confused by the unexpected turn of events, a state she did not like. "It would be interesting if Avon discovered our little agreement."
Grrr. "Forget it, Servalan. You no longer have any control over me. I will tell Avon myself."
Servalan stared at him across the screen, her eyes mystified. "It appears you won this round, Commander."
Argus's eyes narrowed at her choice of words.
"You will regret it." She reached forward and the screen went black.
She must be killed, stressed the Wolf.
Argus's fists were clenched. "I know."