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Sticks and Stones

By Kathy Hintze
Page 3 of 8

It took Cally and Blake close to an hour just to remove the dirt and foreign matter from Avon's leg before any actual reconstruction could begin. Then under the computer's instructions, Cally made several lengthy incisions on the right leg and clamped them open.

Vila blanched at the sight and kept his eyes locked on the monitor, trying to ignore the grinding noise as the bones were realigned. Then the horrible odor as Blake fused the broken ends together threatened to overpower Vila, but he forced the nausea down. Later, he told himself, I can be sick later. Right now, Blake and Cally need me. Avon needs me.

After two hours, Cally sighed and looked up at Blake. "That's the last, Blake. Everything is as it should be. Vila, how is...."

"Readings are holding steady, Cally," he answered. "No sign of shock, either." The relief in his voice was shared by his companions.

"Good," Blake murmured, using an epidermal regenerator to seal the incisions and the wound. "Cally, how's the left leg?"

The Auron carefully checked the swollen appendage, noting the purplish blotches which covered it from thigh to calf. "Nothing broken. Just badly bruised, Blake. It should heal within 24 hours."

"And this one?" Blake questioned as she bandaged the right leg. "I know we did everything the computer said, but...."

"Everything is as it should be, Blake," she repeated. "We'll know for certain in a few days." She looked up at him and smiled. "I think you need some rest."

He glanced at her and nodded. "Very probably. And you and Vila need..." He looked around. The thief was nowhere in sight. "Now where do you suppose he went?"

"His cabin probably," she murmured. "I was not surprised he offered to help, Blake. He is very fond of Avon, and I think Avon feels the same toward him."

"Yes, I feel that too," Blake replied, then yawned. "Sorry."

"Get some rest, Blake. I will stay with him."

"You're certain?"

"Yes."

"If he comes round, I'll be in my cabin," he replied, stifling another yawn.

"I will call."

Blake went to his cabin, but knew he would not be able to rest. Not until he knew that Avon would be all right.

#

No pressure, no pain, Avon mused as his mind approached consciousness two hours later. In fact, there was no sensation at all. Perhaps he was wrong and they weren't broken after all. Then an unbidden thought crept in. Maybe there was no pain because they were no longer there. Not there? Avon screamed in terror. A hand touched his forehead while others tried to hold him still.

Then a voice penetrated his fear and spoke to his mind. *Avon, It's all right. You're on the Liberator. You're safe, Avon.*

"Cally?" Had he said that aloud? He couldn't be sure. His mind refused to function and he felt so damnably weak. But weak or not, there was something he had to do...something he had to confirm for himself. Avon willed his body to wake up from its lethargy.

"Blake," Jenna's voice echoed from the wall comm. "Zen has picked up another Federation patrol coming this way."

"All right, Jenna," Blake answered. Damn, he wanted to be there when Avon came around.

"Avon, lie still," Cally scolded as he opened his eyes and tried to move.

The rebel leader turned in time to see Avon struggling to sit up. "No, Cally, I have to see," Avon muttered in a faint but insistent voice. With Cally supporting him, he managed a makeshift sitting position. Though his legs were plainly outlined under the sheet, Avon was not satisfied and pulled the sheet off. His face was expressionless as he stared at the bandaged appendages, then slumped back down on the couch and closed his eyes.

"Avon?" Blake grabbed his shoulder and squeezed gently. But there was no reaction. Avon had slipped back to unconsciousness.

"Blake," Cally interrupted in a soft voice. "Jenna may need you."

She was right, of course, but he was still worried about Avon. He glanced up to find understanding in Cally's eyes. "I'll be on the flight deck."

Cally nodded, knowing how worried he was. She felt much the same, and so did Vila.

The thief had returned shortly before Avon regained consciousness, a change of clothing indicating where he had disappeared to, and the pallor of his face, the reason why. Since then, Vila had done nothing but wait and watch. Cally put an arm around his shoulders and smiled. Vila tried to smile back but couldn't. "I...I probably should go, too, Cally," he stammered, getting to his feet. "Unless you think I..."

"Go on, Vila. I will stay with him." There was fear in his eyes as he left for the flight deck, fear for Avon that Cally pretended not to notice.

#

On the flight deck, Jenna looked up as Blake came in, his face mirroring his concern. "Have they picked us up yet?" he inquired.

"No," she responded, still watching him.

It was Gan who finally asked the question. "How's Avon?"

"Alive, Gan. He's alive."

Vila walked in then, moving silently to his place, eyes averted. Gan looked at him and murmured a greeting. The thief nodded absent-mindedly and concentrated on his console.

Blake looked toward Zen's flashing lights. "Any indication that the Federation ships have spotted us, Zen?"

"Negative."

"Good. Maintain this course."

"Confirmed."

Vila looked up then. "Blake, what about Avon?"

"What about him?"

"Will he...will he be all right?" Vila asked.

Blake seemed a long time answering. "I don't know, Vila. We rebuilt the leg as the computer instructed. The rest is up to him."

#

Cally was involved in analyzing some blood samples when Avon opened his eyes again. "Cally?"

The Auron turned and smiled. "I am here. Are you in pain?"

"No," he lied. The waves of pain had begun again but this time he welcomed them. It meant the nerves were still alive and recovery was not beyond hope. "How long have I been out?"

"About four hours," she replied, watching his face. From time to time, his eyes would cloud over, revealing just how intense the pain was. But only someone who knew him would have detected it. "Avon, you are in pain."

He looked up, taking in her worried features and smiled. He could not fool her and they both knew it. "Pain is something I can deal with, Cally."

The door opened then and Vila entered carrying a tray. "I thought you might be hungry, Avon, so I brought you something."

"And enough for yourself as well, it seems," Avon commented as he viewed the large selection.

"Well, Cally might want something, too, you know," Vila shot back with a grin.

Avon admitted to himself he was hungry, but as he viewed the array of edibles, a sudden nausea swept through him. Consciousness receded so fast that Cally's voice was only a faint echo as white hot nails of pain pierced him, shattering his control. Wave after wave passed through his mind, threatening to drown him in their intensity.

As soon as Avon lost consciousness, Vila called Blake, who ran to the medical unit. Avon's body was trembling so badly that Cally had to strap him down and the medical computer registered a sharp increase in body temperature to nearly 107 degrees F, pulse rate well over 150.

"Blake, we've got to do something," Vila wailed. "Cally, can't you give him anything?"

Cally took in Vila's fearful face, and shook her head. "With his temperature this high, any medication I give him could kill him."

Abruptly, the tremors stopped, and Avon's body fell limp. Cally checked the monitor and relaxed. His temperature and pulse rate were dropping back to normal.

A few minutes later, Avon's eyes fluttered open, confusion visible on his face until his mind cleared. He saw Cally and Blake exchange worried looks and then Vila's frightened face. "What...." he began and found his mouth parched. Blake held him steady while Cally gave him some water.

"How do you feel?" Vila asked anxiously after Avon had taken a swallow.

Avon paused before answering. "As well as can be expected." His eyes asked a question.

Cally nodded. "We had to take the chance, Avon. You were losing blood too fast and the drug seemed the only way."

"Whether I wanted it or not, it seems." Avon stared coldly at Blake. "My legs, how bad?"

"You were lucky. According to the medical computer, the left one is only bruised. Painful, but only bruised."

"And the other?" Avon queried, noting how Blake's express ion changed.

Blake hesitated. "It was broken, Avon, badly broken. But we've set it and followed the computer's instructions to the letter. There's no reason it shouldn't heal cleanly."

"Have you tried to move them?" Vila asked.

"No," came the quiet response. "I'm tired now. Leave me." Avon closed his eyes, willing them to leave.

*Would you like....* Cally telepathed. Avon shook his head in answer to her unspoken question.

After the door closed, Avon ventured a look and was startled to find Vila still there. "Well?" he snapped. But Vila's eyes reflected such misery that Avon's anger faded. "I'm all right, Vila," he said gently. "Leave me, please." The thief stared at his companion for a moment, then withdrew.

Avon closed his eyes and took a deep breath, dreading what was to come. Concentrating, he tried to move his legs. Pain shook his body and nearly made him cry out. Move, damn you, he raged. Move. Tears ran unchecked down his cheeks as each effort failed. After an hour, thoroughly exhausted, he collapsed into a deep sleep and in his dreams, Servalan and Travis laughed at his helplessness.

#


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