"Is that it?" asked Vila.
The Justice had just achieved stationary orbit over a small moon. The crew and Commander Reve were on the flight deck again, looking at the main viewscreen. The screen showed a small unremarkable dull grey-coloured moon.
"As usual Vila, your description is childishly simple but accurate," said Avon.
Vila wasn't sure he had given a description; and all of them were not sure if it was meant to be a compliment or not; though considering the source, it was probably supposed to be a sarcastic remark. This was unfortunate since Avon had intended it to be a compliment.
Avon had been making rare gestures like this since Vila had helped him with the clothing storage room. He found it amusing that it seemed to confuse them all and not once did it produce the intended result.
"What do we do now?" asked Jenna. "Just wait?"
"Yes. We wait," said Argus. "Commander Reve and I will take turns being on the flight deck at all times. You, Cally and Vila will continue your normal shifts."
"You're both going to be very tired if the object doesn't show up soon," said Jenna.
"That can't be helped," said Argus. "Why don't you get some rest Commander," Argus told Reya. "I will take the first shift."
"Very well Commander," said Reya. No other discussion was required; Argus and Reya had been planning this for the past week. Reya nodded and left the flight deck without another word.
Jenna watched with interest as the female commander left. She had not thought it possible for two people to be as deeply in love as Argus and Reya clearly were; to be so cold and professional with each other.
You definitely hide it well, thought Jenna. You probably don't realize that the longer you do that, the harder it becomes for you.
"We don't need to do this Argus," said Avon, blocking his doorway. "Not until after this mission."
Argus had appeared at Avon's door after Reya had relieved him on the flight deck. He was carrying a decanter and two glasses.
"You agreed to continue talking about the Detention Centre in our last session," said Argus. "I am not letting you off that easily. You might as well let me in Avon. Or would you prefer we do this out in the corridor."
Avon stepped aside and let him in.
Argus put the decanter and the two glasses on the table they normally sat at.
"Do you think that will help?" asked Avon.
"It's for me," said Argus. He poured two glasses and pushed one over to Avon's side of the table.
The two men took a stiff drink from their respective glasses. They both needed it.
"I want you to tell me what happened on Terrus, when Servalan captured you," said Argus. He thought it reasonable to start at the beginning.
Avon's mind went back to the neutral trading centre and what happened at the warehouse when he first exchanged himself for Cally. Avon allowed the memories to surface.
His mind immediately jumped to what happened afterwards; when Servalan had used the nightmares to break him down; until his sanity hung on a balance and he had been forced to accept a compromise.
You were very clever, Servalan. Both you and Sester. He shivered. It was the first time he had realized what a dangerous position he was in.
For the next three years, it had been a desperate struggle against two opponents who together, had outmatched him. They had crushed him repeatedly and made sure he knew that he was completely helpless against them.
He still remembered being in a chair in the lab with his hands restrained behind him; as the two of them toyed with him, torturing him until he lost consciousness. The pleasure on Servalan's face brought feelings of hatred.
Avon was breathing heavily now as the memories filled his mind. He winced at the recollections of a pain long past. His hands clenched involuntarily. He could feel the pain.
No. I'm not ready for this yet, thought Avon. He was shivering. His body was reacting to something his mind told him was not happening.
This is not real. It was in the past, he told himself. He tried to push back against the flood of memories. Once his mind unleashed them; the drugs no longer helped. The memories overwhelmed him.
"Avon!" Argus shouted as he shook the analyst by the shoulders. He had watched with alarm as Avon had lost control over the memories. Argus slapped Avon, trying to bring him back from where his mind had carried him.
The pain and the shout broke through Avon's consciousness; but his mind was disoriented. Argus slapped him again and shouted, "Avon!" He lifted his hand to strike him again, this time Avon grabbed his hand. "Enough, Argus. I'm fine now."
Argus let Avon go and stepped back. "No. You're not fine. I shouldn't have pushed you."
Avon rubbed his face where Argus had hit him; it still stung. Red marks were beginning to appear.
"Can you not hit me so hard next time?" said Avon. His voice reflected how tired he was. He felt drained.
"You want to keep doing this?" asked Argus incredulously. It was obvious to him that Avon was not ready yet.
"I need to do this," said Avon. There was a grim determination in his voice.
Avon hated the loss of control which he just experienced.
Argus understood Avon's determination and respected his desire to regain control over his own life. He nodded. "Alright," he said in agreement. "But we will have to do this differently."
"Agreed." Avon hated giving up control to anyone but he realized that if he allowed his own mind to control the memories, he would be lost again.
"You will have to direct me," said Avon. I hate this. "I will have to talk to you while I recall the memories. Keep me within a narrow window of recall. It will be easier to handle. Don't let me jump ahead." Don't let me lose control again.
One thing which encouraged Avon to continue was Argus's reaction; or rather his lack of emotional reaction. It made things much easier for Avon. Any show of sympathy or pity and it would have made it impossible for him to go on.
Avon saw the looks of concern and compassion from the crew; though no one ever spoke to him about it. They didn't need to. It hung in the air like an unpleasant odour which refused to dissipate whenever one of the others was present.
Avon hated it; hated that they thought they understood his pain; hated the pity they felt for someone who was nothing but a burned-out shell, because that shell was him. He hated that he could not even chose his own clothing without needing someone else's assistance. He hated that his mind had failed him.
"You should get some rest now," directed Argus.
"You can't continue today, Avon. I will get something for your face from the medical bay. I shouldn't have hit you so hard."
"Not yet," Avon said again. "It's your turn."
"Not again. That was only a one time thing," said Argus. "So that you would not feel like the only one exposed."
"I told you that was my condition and you agreed."
"You didn't say that I was supposed to do this every time," protested Argus. With dismay he realized that Avon had not said that the last time would be the only time either.
"Are you going to do it?" asked Avon.
Argus hated being forced to do this; again he hoped that he would not regret it later.
Argus did what Avon asked. He told him more about his relationship with Reya. The more he talked, the more exposed he felt. What was between Reya and himself had always been private; even their arguments.
There was no reason for the entire crew to be on the flight deck. They were all still waiting for something to happen. For some illogical reason, it seemed to be easier to wait together. When they were not asleep, everyone was on the flight deck; waiting.
Reya had just finished her shift but was hanging around because she wanted to be near Argus. They were both careful not to stand anywhere near each other.
"Alright, I can't stand this anymore," declared Jenna.
"We have to be patient," said Argus.
"That's not what I'm talking about," said Jenna. "Either one of you leave the room, or stop staring at each other when you don't think anyone's looking."
Argus and Reya glanced guiltily at each. Damn. I didn't know I was doing that, thought Argus.He wondered if Jenna had guessed.
"Who are you talking about?" asked Argus, looking directly at Jenna; who was at the pilot's station next to his. His best defence was always to go on the offensive.
"She already knows Argus," said Reya. Reya wished she had left earlier but it had become increasingly harder to both be with Argus and at the same time not really be with him.
Argus turned to look at her.
"I do as well," said Cally. Argus now turned and looked at Cally in astonishment. "I have known for quite some time," the Auron told him.
Argus felt as if he had suddenly been stripped and was standing naked on the flight deck. He wanted to fight someone.
Argus looked at Avon, his eyes daring him to say something, anything.
Avon refrained from saying anything; but there was an expression of amusement on his face. From their conversations, he knew how uncomfortable Argus was when faced with having his private life exposed.
"Is there anyone who doesn't know?" Argus asked in irritation.
"Will someone tell me what I'm missing?" asked Vila. He was confused by the strange exchange which was taking place.
Even Avon knows, thought Vila. I bet even ORAC knows. Why don't I know?
"Argus? Reya? Do you want to explain?" asked Jenna.
Even Reya had an amused expression on her face now.
Argus sighed. There was no point in hiding it any longer.
"The commander and I are more closely acquainted than we appear to be," he told Vila.
"Oh." Vila's jaw dropped. He had been so preoccupied with helping Avon that he had not noticed.
Is there anything else am I missing, wondered VIla.
"Your crew is amusing," Reya said to Argus. They were both alone, in Argus's cabin.
"And sweet," she added.
Jenna, with the full backing of the others, had insisted that Argus and Reya leave the flight deck and spend some time together. They all insisted that between four of them, they could handle things for a few hours without them. They had all even threatened to leave the flight deck; leaving Argus and Reya alone.
"I'm glad you find it amusing."
She smiled. "It's not that bad Argus."
"They're interfering in things they don't understand." He wasn't sure he understood it himself. His relationship with Reya was a constant amazement and source of mystery for him.
"I think they understand too well," said Reya.
"They seem to think we need this," said Argus.
Reya thought, I should have realized what Jenna was planning after she revealed that she knew about us. Should have realized she wasn't going to let it go.
Argus and Reya had stopped talking. They just stood looking each other; drinking in each other's presence. The energy between them was so strong they were almost afraid to touch each other.
One minute they were looking deeply into each other's eyes; the next, they were locked in a passionate embrace and Reya already had Argus out of his shirt and jacket.
She was caressing his muscled body as their kisses became deeper and more insistent. They were so lost in the sensation of each other that they almost forgot to breathe.
"I need some oxygen," gasped Argus as he broke off their kiss. They were both breathing heavily, trying to fill oxygen-starved lungs as they continued to hold each other.
"How do you do that?" he asked her.
"Do what?" asked Reya as her lips trailed down his neck and then to his bare chest.
"I didn't even notice you taking off my jacket and shirt before."
"You were busy at the time."
He took a sharp breath in as she lightly bit him and then continued teasing him with her lips.
"You're very good at that," he remarked, trying to control himself. He knew she preferred to take her time. But it has been along time, he thought. Maybe the others were right.
For the two of them that meant over a week. Although to be fair, they had not been sleeping together very long; and a week in that context was a very long time.
"I'm good at many things." I miss this, thought Reya.
"Can you be good at them a little faster?" he asked. Argus was finding it very difficult now.
Reya laughed. "Depends on how fast you can get my clothes off." I miss our exchanges, thought Reya. Dealing with each other on a professional had not fulfilled their deep need for each other.
"Is that a challenge?"
"I'm still waiting." I miss that we are not there to challenge each other.
It didn't take much longer after that. He was almost as fast as she had been.
Soon they were on the bed, flesh pressed tightly against flesh and moving in rhythm to each other's passion. I had almost forgotten how perfectly we fit into each other, thought Argus. So soft and so hard.
He lightly raked his fingernails down the length of her back; increasing the pressure as he reached her lower back. It was her turn to take a sharp breath; she moaned softly and arched her body against his. He covered her mouth with his and kissed her deeply again.
He rolled slightly. And hit his head." Ouch," said Argus. "This is not working. These beds are not designed for anything more active than sleeping." He stopped moving.
Reya did not want him to stop but she had also been finding the bunk restrictive. "They're not much for space either," she said. The narrowness of the bed had limited their options considerably. They had both been afraid of knocking each other off the bed. She wondered what kind of people the Altans were.
"The floor has a lot of space," she suggested.
"What would I do without you?" he said teasingly.
"Floor. Now Argus."
"Yes, Commander," said Argus as he bore her to the ground; then they did the things they had wanted to do but had not been able to on the bed.