At first he had been expecting to be tortured. But there was nothing. He seemed to have been left in the cell and forgotten.
If the daily routine was correct, then he counted eighteen days so far. Of course, there was no guarantee that the daily routines actually reflected a real day. He knew that in a prison such as this, the security people were more than capable of playing with his sense of time and reality. He could have been here for only a couple of days or even several months. But regardless, the effect on the mind was still the same.
The first couple of days he had spent thinking and planning and waiting for the torture which never came. Then he found himself running through works of poetry and literature, anything to keep his mind occupied. But time seemed accelerated in this place. No matter what he found to occupy his mind, it seemed that it was over much too quickly; and then his mind needed something else. Even though he had an exceptional memory and could recall scores of material, it was still not enough. He was already running through everything two and three times.
By the fifteenth day the boredom was starting to drive him crazy. He was restless and found himself pacing the cell; but because he had barely been eating, he found it tired him out quickly.
This is worse than torture, he thought. The man never thought that he would miss so many things. He even missed the darkness.
He wondered how the previous occupant of this cell had been able to bear it.
Avon re-read the file which Argus had copied to his datapad. He put the pad down. I need to consult ORAC. Though the crew tried to treat him as if he was not an invalid, there were still things they had not allowed him to do. One was to take a shift on the flight deck alone.
Apart from the fact that he did not yet have the endurance to take a full shift; was the fear that he would not be able to accept any incoming communications. It was Argus's precautions which did not allow him to. Avon did not disagree. Servalan may have let him go in a moment of weakness but there was no guarantee that she would not change her mind. It was too much of a risk.
Argus had not told the others about the conditioning and Avon had been grateful for that. Argus had not brought up the issue yet but as long as the conditioning was in place, Avon could never be allowed to accept any incoming communications or be present during any communications. This also meant that he could never leave the ship. The risk was too high.
So far it had not concerned him. Avon had been comfortable on the ship and had no desire for any change in his environment. He suspected that it was one of the psychological effects of being tortured for so long; the desire for stability and familiar things.
He still did not have to do anything for himself yet. Cally was concerned about the injury to his knee, which did not appear to be getting better. She had Vila continue to bring him changes of clothing and his meals.
But Avon had become increasingly restless. He needed to feel useful again and not used. So he had sought out Argus.
"The file that Sester sent regarding the conditioning, I want to see it," Avon had asked the moment Argus answered his door. The poor man had just finished a double shift and was just about to collapse into bed. Jenna had fallen ill and was currently in the medical wing attended to by Cally.
Argus was about to say "Can't this wait?" but decided against it. He sighed. "Come in." He accessed the secured files on his terminal and uploaded a copy to a datapad. "Here. Now let me sleep." He handed the pad to Avon and almost pushed him out the door.
After Avon left with the information, Argus lay thinking for a few moments. He knew what was on the file he had just given Avon. It was going to be difficult. Argus knew the others would not like it if they knew. He also knew that Avon would feel he had no choice but to do it.
Best to keep this from the rest of the crew. Maybe just ORAC will be enough. Will have to consult with it when I wake up.
The tired leader rolled onto his side and went to sleep. He hoped there would be no nightmares tonight; he needed rest.
A message came in during Jenna's shift on the flight deck from General Borel Reve's command ship out in Sector Ten. It requested a personal communication with Argus. Everyone cleared the flight deck.
"Zen, patch the communication to the main viewscreen."
Shortly a face appeared on the viewer.
"Reya," Argus reacted in surprise. With her appearance, all tension seemed to lift from his shoulders. His restlessness instantly disappeared, along with the melancholy. He smiled.
"You remember my name," she remarked dryly.
"Why wouldn't I?"
"It has been weeks and I haven't received any communications from you."
"I was supposed to call? I don’t remember making any arrangements like that."
"Are you being deliberately dense?" At the confused look on his face, she sighed and said, "You're going to be the death of me one of these days."
At that Argus was even more confused. In a way it contributed to his increased feeling of well-being. He had often found himself confused by her. This was something familiar.
"You're going to have to explain it to me."
"Obviously. The next time you go off, can you arrange to send me at least one message to tell me that you're alright? You still hadn't recovered fully when you left and you're off to battle the aliens."
"You were worried about me?" he asked. I should be annoyed, he thought. But for some reason, the idea that she worried about him made him feel even better.
Did my following you around for days after your injuries not tell you anything? she thought.
"Argus, stop grinning and please focus. I don’t have that much time."
"What's wrong?" His mind instantly became focussed.
"There's nothing wrong. Borel is sending me out to quadrant eight to check out something. I won't have access to the long range communications array for awhile. It's in an isolated region of the Sector."
"So the reason you contacted me is just to tell me that I should have contacted you?"
Reya shifted restlessly. She wasn't about to tell him that she missed him; that she had not had a decent night's sleep since he left. For the first time since she appeared on the screen, she was at a loss for words.
You're like a drug, she thought. And I'm suffering from withdrawal symptoms.
"Well, I don't have the same problem as you," she told him. "I actually do try to tell people if I'm going to disappear for awhile."
"I miss your insults," he told her.
This admission completely disarmed her. For some reason, all of the built up tension in the past few weeks had flowed out of her. She could see that he wanted to say something else.
We can't afford to do this to each other, she thought.
"Don't say anything more Argus, it's just going to make things harder."
"I don't care."
"I should never have contacted you."
"You don't really think that."
"No. I don't," she admitted. Her voice had become quiet. He could barely hear her over the ship's comm. "We haven't yet reached the point where our personal concerns are more than a distant second in our priorities," she told him.
"Am I your personal concern?" he asked, trying to provoke a reaction from her.
"Am I yours?"
"Don’t answer my question with your own question."
"You want me to say that I miss you?"
"Is that what you want to say?"
"I don't know."
Argus opened his mouth to make a comment and then closed it. He was confused again. He sighed. It seemed that they weren't going to get any further in this communication.
"I will try to remember to contact you periodically," he told her.
"Good," said Reya in a tone which indicated that her task had been accomplished.
"Be careful out there," he told her.
"I can take care of myself."
"I know you can."
"Reya, out." Her image disappeared from the screen, replaced by the starfield.
If Borel had been here, he would have had something very sarcastic to say, thought Argus.
There was one thing which was accomplished. They could both now sleep in peace.
"Those two have been very strange since they came back," said Jenna.
She and Cally were sharing a meal in the dining area.
"They have both been through a lot," said Cally.
"Avon, I can understand," said Jenna. "But Argus?"
"He also sustained injuries and was tortured." It is odd that Avon still refuses to let me examine his knee. Perhaps I should consult with Argus about this.
"You think that's all it is? I thought he had already healed." And I thought Argus was stronger than this.
Cally was about to say, "That is not what I was referring to." But she decided against it. She couldn’t tell Jenna that she sensed something else was going on with Argus. It was none of their business, not unless Argus wished to talk about it.
Addendum: Some comments by the characters.
Reya: Why are we not together in this story?
Writer: Well Argus left you at the end of the last story remember?
Reya: This is not acceptable.
Argus: I agree with Reya.
Reya: You don't have to agree with me.
Argus: I know I don't have to. I want to.
Reya: I'm not finished being mad at you yet.
Argus: What did I do?
Reya: YOU LEFT ME!!!
Writer: Oh no.
Servalan: They're amusing
Avon: If you like that kind of thing
Writer: Stay in your corner you two.
Servalan: Let's see how she manages this.
Writer: Shut up!
Writer: Alright Argus and Reya...how about if the two of you get to talk to each other?
Reya: Can I continue giving him a hard time?
Reya: It's not ideal but I can accept that, for now.
Argus: Do I have a say in this?
Servalan: She has him wrapped around her little finger, doesn't she. I like strong females.
Avon: This is inhuman.
Writer: This is not a spectator sport you two!