RoguesBy Teri White
Page 4 of 4
|Avon swallowed hard, feeling dizzy. He reached out a hand and gripped Blake's arm. "She told me you were never there...that it was all a trick. Servalan told me you were dead," he said in a shattered voice. He closed his eyes and shook his head. "Gods, you were there all the time."
"I was there. Some kindly and guilt-ridden Federation doctor finally released me. That was when I set out on the path that led to Gauda Prime."
Avon looked at him again. "I didn't know."
Blake's gaze was bleak. "Perhaps now you understand why it took me so long to attempt another contact."
"I'm sorry," Avon said.
"As am I." Blake put a hand over Avon's where it still gripped his arm. "Neither one of us has come through this unscarred."
"I looked for you. I was always looking for you. None of the rest of it mattered."
Blake nodded. "I know that. Once I got over my bewilderment and sense of betrayal about Terminal, I understood that. What I said on the Liberator that day was true. I always trusted you. I still trust you."
Avon had nothing more to say. He pulled his hand away sharply and turned back to the computer. "So we go to Gryphon," he said in a tired voice. "And do what?"
"Hope for some peace," Blake replied.
"Have you given up, then, on your ambition of saving the galaxy?" Avon asked, keeping his eyes on the console.
He heard Blake's sigh. "I have discovered that much of the galaxy would as soon I not bother."
"That must have been a painful revelation for you," Avon said crisply.
"It very nearly killed me," Blake replied in a flat voice. "These last many weeks, I have simply been going through the motions. Which was why someone like Arlen was able to slip through." He was quiet for a moment. "I am sorry about your people."
"Well, so am I. But I did my best for them. I did what I could." His fingers moved quickly over the computer keyboard. "Possibly Tarrant and Vila survived. And they do have Orac." He glanced up at Blake finally.
Blake, in return, experimented with a smile. "Perhaps they will save the galaxy."
Avon snorted. "Rob it blind, more likely."
"Whilst we live as paupers on Gryphon."
"There is that." Avon looked away and then at Blake again. "Now that we are away safely, you needn't continue to feel responsible for me. I will be a burden."
Blake's face took on an old and familiar stubbornness. "You are my friend. There has been enough abandonment and betrayal in both our lives. Whatever happens, we will face it together."
Avon didn't try to stop the small smirk that crossed his face. "Perhaps you still carry around an excess of nobility, Blake, whether or not you lead a rebellion."
After a moment, Avon shrugged. "In any event, I have no real choice, do I? I can scarcely run."
Blake looked stricken. "I am not holding you captive, Avon. If you still want, as you once proclaimed, to be free of me, we can make some other arrangements."
There was a long silence.
"Avon?" Blake finally said.
Avon looked at him. "I have no wish to be free of you," he said quietly. "Those words were a lie, even as I spoke them."
Blake seemed to relax. "I suppose that happiness is too much to hope for," he said in a wistful voice.
"I suppose," Avon agreed sarcastically. "But I seriously doubt that fact will keep you from trying."
Blake only smiled.
Avon shook his head and turned his attention back to the computer. It was a fortunate circumstance that Blake was such a foolish optimist. He could harbor hope for both of them.
* * *
Blake was alone on the flight deck.
Oh, not really alone, because Avon was there. It was, after all, a small ship, and there were few other places to go. But he was asleep, stretched out on the narrow couch again. The drugs and weariness had finally caught up with him.
Blake was not tired. He was filled with boundless energy now that life seemed to have a purpose again. He watched Avon sleep for a time, then sat down at the computer. There was a new bit of programming he needed to feed into the memory.
"Computer," he said softly.
"If you receive any incoming data from a computer named Orac, you are not to respond in any way. Do you understand?"
"If I receive incoming data from a computer bearing the designation Orac, I am not to respond," the computer voice said.
Another thought occurred to Blake. "And, computer---"
"Any outgoing messages sent to Orac are not to be transmitted. Understood?"
Blake nodded and got up. Now they would be safe.
He took a blanket from the storage cupboard and covered Avon, who stirred a little, but did not awaken. Blake smiled down at the sleeping man.
Then he turned around and returned to the navigation console.
These cuts I have,
They need love to help them heal...
Too late to save myself from falling,
I took a chance and changed your way of life.
Don't let the sun go down on me.
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