Garett had been studying the rebel leader carefully while they talked together in Argus's cabin. He had worked with military men for most of his time as a healer; Argus was both a typical and atypical example of one. The decision Argus had made down on Zirgon was definitely not typical. It had made Garett curious about this man.
Since Garett could not administer the therapy required, he wanted to make certain the Avon would still receive the care needed. In order for that to happen, Avon needed Argus.
"In order for Avon to recover, he has to be encouraged to talk about what happened to him. That is the only way for him to work through it. That responsibility will fall to you," said Garett.
"I am not a therapist," said Argus. He did not like this idea.
"None of you are," Garett pointed out. "But since you refuse to allow the others access to his files, then you are the only one who can do it."
"I have a good reason for keeping the files locked. But I am the last person you should ask to do this," said Argus.
"I agree with your reasons for doing so. Avon feels vulnerable enough already. He does not need the additional stress of feeling exposed. But that means you have no choice, Commander. The others can help in his treatment but you are the one who has to draw him out."
Argus reflected how odd it was to think of Avon as being vulnerable.
"This is a very bad idea. Avon doesn't even trust me. The others have known him much longer than I have," said Argus.
"On the contrary, you have already told me that you are the one he went to for help in breaking the conditioning," said Garett.
"He thought that the others would be sensitive enough about his pain; to not be able to do what was required. He knew I did not have that problem."
"You are underestimating yourself Commander. He went to you because he knew he could trust you to be strong enough to remain detached. There is another reason why it must be you."
Argus wasn't sure there were even a good first reason, never mind another one.
Garett continued, "Other than Vila, you are the only other person who has experienced torture and confinement."
"Then why can't Vila do this?" asked Argus. He was still not convinced it had to be him.
"Commander, do you realistically think that Avon would accept Vila in that role?" asked Garett. "Avon will be very resistant to this. You will need to push him to do it. Do you think Vila would be capable of that?"
Vila was mumbling to himself as he came down the steps to the flight deck for his shift.
"It's not fair," he said.
"What's wrong now, Vila," asked Jenna.
"It's not fair," repeated Vila. "I thought it I was supposed to be helping Avon but Argus has got me sorting and moving clothes."
"Clothes?" asked Jenna. This sounded like a strange request.
"Yes, he has me moving some of the clothes that fit Avon into one of the smaller storage rooms.
Specifically Vila was moving all of the grey coloured clothing which would fit Avon and did not resemble Avon's previous prison coveralls.
Vila didn't mention that it was his own idea which had led to this course of action. He had made the suggestion just before he had teleported Garett back down to Zirgon. The healer had thought it an excellent idea to help Avon through the transition.
When Vila had told Argus his suggestion, he had not expected to be the one asked to do it. Vila had thought that since he was the one who had made the suggestion; it was only fair that someone else would do the actual work. Argus didn't seem to have the same idea.
Until he got to the point where they were confident he was not going to harm himself; Avon was being restrained in the medical bay when he slept. During the rest of the day, he was always followed by one of the crew. Even Commander Reve had been recruited to provide escort duties.
"This is not necessary," Avon had protested.
"Humour me," was Argus's response.
"I didn't think you cared," said Avon sarcastically.
"I don't," said Argus. "But you are too useful to lose." His manner was cool and matter of fact; something which Avon appreciated about Argus.
"You do care," said Avon, trying to goad the rebel leader.
"So long as you are useful, yes," said Argus evenly. He was not going to be baited.
So despite his protests, Avon continued to be restrained in the medical bay when it came time for him to sleep; even though it sometimes took the two commanders to persuade him to go.
"It's going to be alright," Vila said to Avon. They were both outside the storage room which Vila had moved Avon's clothes to the day before.
"This'll be easy," he assured the analyst. "All you have to do is…"
"Vila," Avon interrupted the thief.
"Yes?" asked Vila.
"Shut up," Avon told him. Vila nodded and smiled encouragingly.
"And stop smiling at me," Avon told him. "It is not encouraging. The opposite in fact. Now open the door," Avon told Vila.
Vila waved his hand across the door panel; the door slid open.
Avon took a deep breath and entered, followed by the thief.
The small storage room was considerably smaller than the wardrobe room. This helped.
For a few moments Avon was feeling nothing different. But as he began to think about why he was in the room, the unreasoning feelings of panic were beginning to return.
Avon closed his eyes and tried to push down the panic.
Vila watched quietly. He knew what Avon was trying to do; and he knew that Avon had to be left alone as long is it appeared that he was still in control.
Avon's mind was working, trying to apply logic to his situation.
"What colour do you see?" Avon asked. His eyes were still closed and his voice was calm.
"What do you mean?" asked Vila confused.
"The clothes. What colour are they?"
"Oh. They're grey," said Vila.
"All of them?"
Well, at least there is nothing wrong with my vision. For a few moments Avon had thought that his eyes had lost the ability to see in the colour spectrum.
"Why?" Avon asked. As long as he had something to reason out, it helped to distract his mind. During this exchange he was still the old Avon; impassive, unemotional, and analytical.
"I thought it would help you," said Vila explaining.
"Why would you think that?" asked Avon.
"Look at what you're wearing," Vila told him.
Avon opened his eyes and looked down at himself. With shock he realized how similar his clothes looked to the prison coveralls which were his only clothing at the Detention Centre. He had never noticed before. I picked these.
Avon closed his eyes again, the feelings of panic were returning as this fact registered. He struggled to maintain coherent thought.
"Have all the clothes I picked since coming back looked like this?" he asked.
Vila hesitated. He had not expected to be answering questions like this. The thief wasn't sure if it was a good idea to verify this information or not.
Where is Argus? thought Vila. He's supposed to be the one doing this. Moving and sorting clothes didn't seem that bad to him now.
"Yes," answered Vila.
As Vila had feared, this caused more feelings of panic for Avon. Avon had not realized what bad a state he was in.
Need logic. Need something logical to think about. Avon's mind struggled to find something to concentrate on. His eyes remained closed. It helped not seeing the shelves of clothing waiting to be chosen.
How could there possibly be this many grey clothes in my size in the wardrobe room? He wondered if Vila had deliberately coloured them that way.
I can't do this. Not yet, he realized. The panic was still growing; he was just not paying any attention to it.
Avon reached out his hands towards one of the shelves, nearly hitting Vila in the eye.
"Ow." Vila reacted in surprise and pain. "Watch it."
"You're the one with your eyes open," pointed out Avon. He was almost certain that he hadn't done it intentionally; but with the state of his mind, he couldn't be certain of anything.
Avon's hands found what he was searching for. He grabbed the item of clothing and bolted out the door without waiting to see if Vila was following. Just outside the door Avon stopped. He took a deep breath and looked at what his hands were holding. The panic was subsiding.
The door to the small storage room slid open again. Vila came out.
"Vila," Avon said. "Can you go back inside?"
"Why?" asked Vila. He was still rubbing the spot where Avon had accidentally hit him.
Avon lifted the item in his hands, it was just a shirt. "I think I might need more than this."
The Justice was making its way towards quadrant eight at standard by three. At this speed, it would give them some time to concentrate on helping Avon before they reached their destination.
These days the leader of the crew was looking increasingly tired and strained; while Avon was looking much better.
Avon was aware that for Argus, the sessions between them were an exercise in frustration.
At first it had been extremely difficult for Avon. Reliving the events of the past three years was something Avon wanted to avoid at all costs. Argus had persisted while Avon did everything to make the man's life miserable. After awhile Avon realized that his own concentration was slowly improving. The exercise of avoiding Argus's questions was having a beneficial side effect.
Avon had not told Argus yet.
Avon was finding it increasingly easier to direct the conversation away from what Argus wanted; he was finding it quite entertaining frustrating the poor rebel leader.
"We may be trying to help Avon regain his mind, but I'm losing mine," Argus said to Reya. "Avon is driving me insane. If he weren't in such bad shape, I'd say he was doing it deliberately."
The two commanders were sharing an early breakfast during the ship's morning cycle. They were alone.
Vila was with Avon. Cally was on the flight deck and Jenna was sleeping.
Argus and Reya had spent most of their time together discussing the phenomenon in quadrant and planning strategy.
Reya, Jenna and Cally were spending a lot of time together in the exercise facility. Finding out that the commander was an expert in many types of unarmed combat, Jenna had asked for some training.
At other times, Reya spent a lot of time talking with the Jenna. The two women seemed to have hit it off. It made Argus nervous; one was his lover, the other an old friend; the only two women who knew him.
"Are we talking about something personal now?" asked Reya. They were still trying to avoid the complications that a closer interaction would cause on the ship.
"Avon has someone to talk to," said Argus.
Argus rarely shared anything regarding personal feelings or problems; except with Reya. Even with Jenna he was very guarded about his past.
Reya regarded him with interest. When she had first found out what Healer Garett had asked Argus to do; like Argus himself, she had not thought it a good idea. Afterwards, she considered it interesting to see how he would handle it.
Have you reached the end of your patience finally? thought Reya.
"Why don't you find Jenna, Vila or Cally and talk to them" said Reya. "They might find it odd that you were coming to me."
"I don't need them," said Argus. "I need you."
Reya asked, "Are you sure that talking is the only thing you're after?"
Argus smiled wryly. "This time, yes."
He tried not to think about anything else he could need from her.