The cold metallic floor pressed hard against his body as Argus slept. Barely awake, he shifted, trying to find a more comfortable position.
Vague thoughts. Back in the gym again? A sleepy sigh. Currents of air moving over his body, gently grazing the skin. His tongue moved, tasting a metallic flavour. Lip twisted in disgust at the familiar flavour.
Blood! Argus popped up, his eyes wide and his spitting out saliva mixed with blood. He looked around wildly.
The...dining hall! It wasn’t the gym. A large, half-eaten leg lay discarded by his hand, blood dripping on its raw surface. He pushed it away in horror. A disturbingly full stomach threatened rebellion. Nausea made him dizzy.
“Wolf! What did you do?” he shouted.
Oh, god! There wasn’t any fresh meat onboard. What did he eat? Nervous eyes looked with trepidation at the gnawed bone, teeth marks clearly visible. His teeth!
A large bone. One of... the wolves? No! Can’t be. Wolf wouldn’t eat another wolf. What am I saying? He’s not even real!
He thought to the creature that shared his mind, * Wolf! What did you eat? *
Firm hands shook his shoulder urgently. “Argus, wake up!”
He grunted and rolled over, his eyes opening. “R-Reya?” Her concerned face looked down at him, her hand resting on his shoulder.
“You were having a nightmare. You kept calling wolf. Were you dreaming about the wolves?”
This was his cabin, not the dining hall, and he was lying on his bunk. His tongue explored his mouth. No blood. It was all a dream. Argus breathed a sigh of relief.
“I dreamed...” How do you explain dreaming about cannibalism? “...nothing worth remembering.”
She looked at him, curiosity in her eyes.
“Really, it was nothing.” He drew her closer, feeling her warm body and delightful curves nestling into him. His fingers traced gentle lines down her spine and teasing circles along her lower back. He heard her draw in a hissed breath, and a sigh of desire as she released it.
“It must have been something,” she said, rolling on top of him. There was time later for questions.
"I think, if you don't mind, I would prefer my slave to address me as `mistress'," Servalan purred behind his left ear. Avon snarled, refusing to play her games, and pulled against chains lifting him spread-eagled a few inches above the floor. The hard metal shackles dug into his scarred wrists and ankles.
Avon's eyes flashed with anger as Servalan hand brushed lightly along his cheek as she circled him. She enjoyed reminding him of Domo and the slave auction where she had bought him for the unprecedented amount of two thousand vems. Five million credits, the equivalent of the Federation bounty on his head.
"Do you remember, Avon?" The coldly civil snake whispered into his ear and he turned away. "It's too bad you escaped. I had the opportunity to learn many…interesting training methods for slaves. As a man of science, you should appreciate the opportunity for personal exploration."
"Your threats don't scare me, Servalan."
"Oh, but they should, Avon." Her eyes had a predatory glint. Perfectly manicured fingers, cold digits, traced a determined path down his chest, caressing the curve down to his hip. Avon twisted away but the cold metal held him in place. He growled in defiance, "Never."
* Avon. * A gentle, familiar whisper touched the barriers of his mind. Something pressed against his neck. A hiss and moments later a veil lifted from his mind, and Servalan's face disappeared in a swirling pool of fading memories. Avon opened his eyes, to darkness. Eyes strained before reality came crashing into his consciousness and he groaned. "Cally." Her presence anchored him amidst the chaos and darkness.
"It's alright, Avon. Are the nightmares fading?"
He took hold of the arm that was helping him and sat up. "Yes." Straining lungs calmed as he breathed in her comforting scent. He turned his head in her direction when he heard the snap of the medicine case. Time for his daily injections. Lips thinned and jaw tensed at the reminder as he lay back against the wall, his back rigid. With little fuss, she began injecting the drugs into his system.
"How do you feel?" Cally's voice was always impassive and clinical during this unwanted routine, something he appreciated. "Any difference?"
Senses sharpened by the loss of his sight were particularly sensitive. Avon became aware of his body. The rush of blood through his veins, like a fast moving stream. The beat of his heart, slowing to a regular beat. The coldness of a body requiring chemical aids to maintain the temperature of the living. He registered vaguely familiar aches that his conscious mind had learned to ignore. "No."
Cally looked at him with sympathy, glad she didn't have to hide her concerns. His terse answers were factual, but not very informative. Cally knew they were his attempt to distance himself from his physical weaknesses. She returned the injectors to the case and snapped it close. Picking up a medical scanner, she passed it across his chest and made a quick survey. "Avon, there is marked improvement. Your temperature is back to normal. Well, slightly elevated but that's normal for your condition. And…"
"Exactly," Avon said curtly. "There is no change in my abnormal condition."
She sat at the edge of the bed and put her hand on his shoulder, feeling him flinch but immediately forcing himself to relax. "Avon, the new antidote worked."
Is no comfort at all. The unspoken words were on his face. Avon would not be satisfied until every weakness was erased and he no longer had to depend on anyone.
"Avon…" The tension in his body boiled beneath her fingers. Her voice had the seriousness of an open grave. "Will you need me when you're fully healed?"
There was a catch of breath when Avon heard the tone in her voice, a strong tug at a heart that he normally kept unmovable. He placed his hand over the comforting one on his shoulder. His voice was impassive but there was energy in it, seriousness; like a soothing caress rendered in sound. "Cally. I gave my life to save yours. It was my choice, not because of personal need." He took her hand in his, rubbing her palm lightly, sending currents of electricity through her body. "But I will always need you. That is also my choice."
He bent his head forward unerringly, with his hand on hers, he could visualize her in his mind. Avon kissed her, his arms enveloping her body, pulling her closer.
Argus opened the door, heading to check on the clones. "You! What are you doing here? And…why aren't you dressed?"
Sester stood, a sheepish smile on his face and only a towel around his waist. "I have a request."
"Get dressed like a normal human being and come back," growled Argus.
"Well, about that…I can't." He wrapped his arms self-consciously over his bare chest. Sester angled his head to look past Argus's shoulder. "Is Reya in?"
"Why do you want to know?" asked Argus, suspicion painting his tone with a large brush, not just a twinge.
"Well, I thought…" Feeling awkward suddenly, Sester cleared his throat. "Since she made those silk underwear for you. And they look good on you, by the way… And all the spare clothes seem to have been commandeered for the clones. I thought…she might make something for me. Even a pair of boxers would be appreciated." His slight grin became a wide one as Argus's face hardened with each sentence.
"You're not serious?"
"Yes, well…I know it's hard to take me seriously since…I'm only wearing a towel. But I assure you, even without the towel…"
"Let him in, Argus," Reya's firm voice filtered past Argus's broad back.
Argus snarled and moved out of the way while Sester grinned and stepped in lightly. The sight of the woman who had been his obsession for so long, caused an instant physical reaction and the traitorous towel chose at that moment to slip its bonds and flutter gracefully to the ground past his slow fingers, revealing his rising interest.
"Oh, I…" Sester's face flushed.
A charging bull rammed him from behind. "Oomph!"
Sester's eyes flew open as the impact jerked him awake. With shock he moved his arm. "Ow," he exclaimed as unyielding metal stopped his hand. Handcuffs. He raised his head and yelled, "Kirsten!"
Argus stepped out of his cabin, fully dressed. The Wolf, still enjoying the feel of the silk boxers, wriggled his hips. * Stop that! * said Argus.
* One likes this material. *
* I know, * grumbled Argus. * But I would appreciate if you kept your appreciation to yourself. *
The Wolf sighed, * Very well. But one is grateful. *
* You're welcome. *
Boisterous shouts drifted towards them. Young boys having fun. Argus grinned, "Sounds like Vila's doing well with the clones." He headed off in the direction of the noise, rounded a corner, and stopped.
A rainbow of wet colours smudged in haphazard glee, decorated the corridor. Paw prints and bare feet. Young bare feet. "Vila!"
This had better be a dream, thought Argus as he ran, nimbly avoiding the still glistening paint.