"Cally," said Argus, calling her attention away from cataloguing the medical stores.
Since the Liberator had not been stocked with something as essential as radiation meds, Cally was determined that the Justice would not be as ill-equipped. Since Avon had been well enough to be allowed to go back to his cabin, she decided it was a good time to deal with this often put off task.
"Yes, Argus? Is there something I can do for you?" Cally wondered if the man's shoulder was bothering him again. She knew that he had been stressed lately and this tended to cause him pain in his shoulders. It had irritated him to no end to know that even though the injuries to his shoulders were completely healed, it would still bother him occasionally.
"Uh…" said Argus. He wasn't quite sure how to proceed.
From the way the rebel leader was hesitating when faced with such a simple question, Cally determined that it was not a simple medical ailment.
Whatever you want to say, is making you very uncomfortable, identified Cally. She could sense his tension. She guessed that his shoulder was probably bothering him again but that it was not his immediate concern. Cally had to carefully watch Argus during his recovery because he tended to work through pain rather than acknowledge it.
Cally recognized that if she were to ask him about his shoulder, he would probably grab it as a welcome distraction to avoid doing what he came to the medical bay to do. She decided to help him by not saying anything.
Argus was a man who did not normally fidget or pace. He did not fidget now; but he had an overwhelming desire to attack something. Argus found himself wondering how good a fighter Cally was. He knew that she and Jenna had been receiving unarmed combat lessons from Reya.
The thought of Reya pulled his mind back to the reason why he had come to the medical bay to consult with Cally.
I have to do this for Reya.
He took a deep breath and said, "You're a woman."
At the amused look on her face, he thought, Of course she's a woman. She didn't need me to state the obvious. Damn. This is not starting out well.
He had been determined not to come out of this sounding like an idiot.
It's probably too late for that now, thought Argus. Normally he would never mix his personal life with his professional one but Reya was more important than his own reputation. On the ship, there were few alternatives for him if he wanted advice about certain things.
The idea of soliciting ORAC's had not seemed right. Besides he doubted if the supercomputer would consider such human pursuits as an appropriate use of its time and resources.
By now Cally had guessed that the rebel leader's source of anxiety had something to do with the female commander. Cally had been one of the first ones to identify that there was more to their relationship than appeared on the surface. She also knew that something had happened between them during the incident with the Investigator; though neither one of them had said anything. They were still very private about their relationship.
Cally knew that the commander had been avoiding being alone with Argus and deliberately frustrated him at every turn. She also appeared to be very cold with him. Cally could see that Argus thought that Reya was angry with him. The Auron knew differently; that was not what she had been sensing from the commander.
"I was wondering. Hypothetically speaking of course," said Argus. He paused. That's a better start; though very cliché. But where to I go from here?
You really are very inexperienced at this, thought Cally.
"If someone were to do something which was insensitive. Without knowing it was insensitive. And not intending it to be insensitive but only wanted the best for the other person he was being insensitive to. But ended up hurting the person instead. And that person was a female. What could the someone do to fix things with that person?" asked Argus. His thoughts came out all in a jumble; which reflected the confusion in his own mind when it came to feelings and personal matters.
Cally had almost laughed on hearing his description of the problem. What Argus said was almost completely incomprehensible. But knowing who the various someones were, she could guess what he was talking about.
"What was this hypothetical something which was done?" asked Cally.
The question shocked him. Argus wasn't sure he wanted to go into that much detail. He suddenly discovered that he had something more urgent to do on the flight deck.
"I've got to go," said Argus. "I'll talk about this later." Much later, he thought as he bolted out of the medical bay.
"This is not going to be easy," remarked Cally to the medical stores.
"I have no desire to go shopping, Cally" said Avon as he lay on a bio-bed in the medical bay. He had come for his daily injections. As Cally administered them, she had suggested that he go down with her to the nearby trading post to pick up some supplies.
"It is not a shopping trip, Avon. The medical supplies on this ship appear to be as inadequate as the ones on the Liberator were. I am endeavouring to be prepared for any possible contingencies," said Cally. "You should appreciate that."
Avon did appreciate it. He remembered very clearly how Vila, Jenna, Gan and himself had nearly died because the Liberator's medical supplies did not include radiation meds.
"I still do not hear a compelling reason for me to be present. I have limited knowledge of pharmacology," said Avon. "I am sure you are more than capable of acquiring the appropriate supplies without my help. And if you need someone to carry things for you, I am certain that Argus would fill that role quite adequately."
"You must be feeling much better," said Cally as she gave him his last injection.
"I do not see how that observation follows from our conversation," said Avon. He closed his eyes to the dizziness as his body adjusted to the drugs. This was such a familiar routine now that he did it without even thinking about.
"I have discovered that your general health is best determined by how difficult you become when being asked to do something you would prefer not doing," said Cally as she put the injector back into the drawer.
Avon smiled. "Isn't that a more accurate description of Vila?" he asked. Physically, Avon stlll felt weak and ill; but mentally he was definitely more like himself.
"Vila is resistant regardless of the state of his health," retorted Cally.
"What is the real reason you want me to go down with you?" asked Avon. He opened his eyes and turned his head to look directly at her.
"I could use the company," said Cally. He could see that she was being sincere.
Avon remembered that they used to work well together. She did not manipulate him or constantly make demands on him like Blake did. Any mistrust she may have had was not always as blatant as Jenna's. She was more reliable than Vila. She appreciated his abilities and she had even expressed interest in his work on occasion. Neither of them felt the necessity to hide who they were.
They used to be comfortable together. Avon wondered if he could ever have that level of comfort with anyone again.
It may be interesting to find out, thought Avon.
At the Detention Centre, Servalan and Sester were his only points of human contact. Avon knew it had been a deliberate attempt to make him dependent on them. To a certain extent it had worked; even though he knew what they were doing and hated them for it. They had used, tortured and humiliated him; but he had needed them. They were the only ones who had talked to him as if he were a human being. It had been so hard at the Detention Centre. Everything they did to him there, stripped him of his humanity; made him feel like an object. Sometimes he still found that he missed the conversations with Sester and the interactions with Servalan.
I need to make other points of human contact, thought Avon. He needed them in order to erase the memories of the ones he had been forced to have.
The dizziness from the drugs had passed. He was feeling a bit stronger. Avon sat up slowly and swung his legs over the edge of the bed.
"Well Cally, what are we waiting for?" asked Avon.
"I don't think that is a good idea," Argus said to Cally and Avon when they approached him with the request the Avon be allowed to go down to the trading post.
"Am I a prisoner on this ship?" asked Avon. His tone was clearly a challenge.
"You know I don’t mean that Avon," said Argus. He sighed. Avon was going to be difficult again. He wondered if Avon had always been like this with Blake.
"You have not left the ship since you came back. Except for going down to Zirgon. You had a lot of problems with being in a strange environment there, as I recall. And I highly doubt they allowed you any time outside, at the Detention Centre," Argus pointed out. "Are you sure you're not going to have any problems now?"
"We will never find out by keeping me up here," said Avon. Actually it had not occurred to him that "being outside" might be a problem; but he was not going to admit that to Argus. He did vaguely remember the infirmary at Zirgon but he was in much worse shape then.
I have better control now. I should be able to handle this. His progress recently had made him more confident.
"I will be with him, Argus," said Cally. "We will teleport back immediately if there are any problems."
Cally could sense that Avon really wanted to try this. She knew that for him to function again, he had to regain control over his own life.
"If I collapse, you can say that 'I told you so' later," said Avon. "Papos is a safe enough place to try this. There is a Federation presence. But not enough of one to present any difficulties. "
I need you to trust me, thought Avon.
Argus looked at Avon. They needed this man to be functional again. From his conversations with Avon, Argus knew how it galled him to be unable to do even the simplest things without aid.
You have made progress, thought Argus. Vila had made some significant breakthroughs in helping Avon regain some independence. That must be making you feel much more confident. And Cally will be with you. I hope none of us will regret this.
"Very well," said Argus. "As you said, you are not a prisoner on this ship. The choice is yours."
"Then I choose this," said Avon. He hoped that he had not made a mistake. "I will consult with ORAC on a quiet location to teleport down."
Argus nodded. No further words were needed; they both knew it would be an important test. Avon left.
As Cally followed Avon out, Argus said, "Cally. Give him the time he needs."
Cally paused and looked at him. "You are anticipating he will have trouble?"
"Then why are you letting him go down?"
"He needs this. But if you determine that he can't, bring him back. I don't care if you have to tie him up first. Sometimes his pride gets in the way of his famous rationality and he refuses to accept that he can't do everything himself."
"That appears to be a common problem," remarked Cally.
Argus managed to look embarrassed.
"You just had to provoke the interrogator, didn't you?" said Allren in disgust to his tech friend. They were currently languishing in one of the many depressingly grey holding cells in the main Federation Security building on Papos. They were both possessors of numerous fresh bruises because Ture had made the mistake of remarking that even dead, Avon got more action than the interrogator could possibly be getting.
"Did you lose your mind while I wasn't looking," asked Allren. His friend rarely spoke, but when he did it was usually for a good reason. Not in this case, thought Allren.
"He was maligning Avon and Blake's reputation. I could not stay silent," said Ture.
"Well of course he did, he's Federation! What did you think he was going to say when he found out we had been arrested for having Blake and the Space Princess in our possession? Couldn't you have at least found a less embarrassing title?" pointed out Allren. The bruise over his right eye was causing vision problems. He tried to blink but it hurt to do so. "Now instead of holding us for twenty-four hours as a lesson for a minor misdemeanour, they're going to investigate us for possible rebel leanings. Who knows what they'll find."
"They won't find anything in the records," said Ture.
"They'd better not."
"I'm sorry. But I couldn't let them say those things about Avon."
"Yeah well, next time warn me in advance so that I can get a couple of punches in too," said Allren as he rubbed his eye. This did not appear to help.
Ture had not only provoked the interrogator, he had also decked him with a punch to the face. That was why they had both been beaten up by the guards.
Ture smiled. "I'll try to remember that."
"Now let's see about getting out of here. I don't think it's healthy for us to be here, even if they don't find anything in the records about us." They both knew that the Federation could find anything it wanted to; facts had never been a barrier to determination and imagination.
As they checked out the walls and door, Ture asked, "What do you suppose that psychostrategist is here for?"
"I don't know," said Allren. "Psychostrategists make me nervous. Having one here means the Federation has more of an interest here than it did before. It's a good reason to leave here as soon as possible."
"I know what you mean."
They both increased their efforts to find a way out.