Party PeaceBy Sally M
Page 2 of 2
Avon was silent for a moment, then spoke quietly. "Yes." |
"How simply fascinating. Why?"
"I don't know."
"Oh come, Avon -"
"It's the truth - not that I insist on your understanding that term, Servalan. I shot Blake, and I do not know why." And would never know why, though he would not say that to her. It didn't matter. Knowing wouldn't change anything.
"You really did hate him, didn't you?" Almost breathlessly eager. "I would have sworn - but you really did hate him."
"At times," he sighed, "but that was not one of them."
"And yet you are still with his people. Why?"
"Why not? I am still of use, even now." He looked up into her large, brilliant, uncompre-hending eyes. "And do you care?"
"Not really. I have more important matters to think of -"
"Such as your own survival," he mocked.
"Such as finally killing you." Servalan smiled again, that poisonous, jagged-edged smile that matched the deadness in her once-lovely eyes. "I may have little left, but I have survived your Blake, and will survive you." She lifted the gun. "Stand up."
Avon looked at it, and at her ravaged face, and shook his head slowly.
"I would have thought you'd prefer to die on your feet," she said. "For the sake of your pride if nothing else."
"Why?" he said calmly. "Pride is overrated."
"You have changed." She lifted an eyebrow, then lifted and aimed the gun. "Stand up," she said coldly, "or I will kill you where you are."
"I've no doubt you can, but -" his eyes slid past her, "- not today, I think."
"Avon, you don't expect me to fall for that stale trick, do you?"
"No, Servalan," the voice came from behind her, and she whirled, unbelieving, unwilling to believe, "but you were never quite as bright as you believed yourself."
Tall and unbowed, scarred and harsh-faced and as cold as the grave, Blake stared at her with that one good eye, his own gun trained on her.
"Oh, Avon told the truth," Blake went on in that flat, soft, unemotional voice that gave even Servalan pause. "He did shoot me on Gauda Prime - but didn't manage to kill me."
Avon stirred, staring up at him with overlarge eyes. "Blake -"
"Come on, Avon," quietly, without rancour, the malformed gaze turning on him coolly, "we both recall it well enough. Once would have been careless. Three times strikes me as serious intent."
"Serious, yes. Intent..."
"But that was then, and this is now." Blake paused, then went on softly. "The past... we did things differently there."
Servalan didn't understand, that Avon could see, and cared less. She had edged a little closer to where he sat on the steps, and he was still all too aware of her own gun, still pointed, if not at his heart, too generally in his direction for comfort. "Blake -"
"Did you hear us?" Servalan overbore him, her attention seemingly fixed on Blake, her hand loosely curled around the gun. "He hates you sometimes -"
"I've always known that. Though I'll admit," Blake glanced across at Avon, "I did think that was one of the times, Avon."
"He hates you. He tried to kill you." Servalan smiled and shrugged, using the movement to half-turn back towards Avon, her eyes glittering, voice delicately persuasive. Avon could only marvel at her, still scheming, still trying to twist people. "And you still pretend to trust him?"
Blake was still looking at Avon, and his answer was not for her. "No, Servalan. Not that you would understand," his deep voice traced with the same contempt he had always shown her, "but for what it is worth, I've never pretended -"
From far below them, a cheer and a burst of multi-coloured light exploded into the sky. It was half a second's distraction, and snake-swift, she struck, her hand lifting and tightening on the trigger aimed at Avon.
The roar caught him by surprise - reeling back a little, he stared blindly at the place where the gun had been, at Servalan's hand - or what was left of it. Shock held them both for a minute, then she screamed.
Blake had barely moved, but to fire. "Avon?"
"I'm all right."
"Get out of here, Servalan. The next one will take your head." His voice was still cold and detached, uncaring. "Crawl back into your ruins and wait for death."
She took a step back. "You're still a fool, Blake," and her honeyed voice rasped a little with the pain and the hatred. Avon was oddly glad for the pain; she had given so much, it was only right that she be given some back. But he wasn't sure he wanted Blake to be the one to kill her.
Blake smiled - a cool smile, not quite real but not quite the cold simulation too many people had seen in the past year - and flipped open his communicator. "Blake here," he said clearly, as much to Servalan as to the people receiving. "Tell security there's an intruder on the grounds."
"You mean besides us," Avon added sardonically.
"Get rid of her. Oh - and tell Dayna Mellanby it's the prize she's been waiting for."
Servalan choked, a horrible, hissing noise of despair. "Avon -"
"Everyone has to pay, Servalan," he said softly, recalling as in a dream the attraction he'd once felt for her, the lust/loathing/whatever it had been. It had hurt - but as Blake had said, that was then. "I already have. Now it's your turn. Goodbye."
She took another step back - stared at Avon for a minute - then turned and ran, away from the palace, towards the tangled growth of overgrown forest, that was the only place left to run.
"Blake, she could still be dangerous."
"I doubt it, but we won't take the chance." He spoke into the communicator again. "Party's over, Deva, get our people back to the ships." He cut the link. "Dayna still disapproves of me," he said calmly, "but that might bring her round a little. The woman won't get away."
"Don't under-estimate -"
"I don't," Blake said, "but she has nowhere to go."
"I know the feeling."
Blake holstered his gun, and sat on his heels beside Avon. "She doesn't matter any more. She never did, really." He sighed. "You shouldn't have come, you know."
"It seemed like a good idea." Avon looked up and met his gaze, still a little distant, as it was to everyone these days, but gentler. Blake would never be what he was, he'd been hurt too badly and too often, and Avon knew he had done more than his share of that. "I should have known that if it seemed like a good idea, it wasn't."
"Oh, I don't know," Blake said thoughtfully. "It was quite interesting. No wonder you wouldn't tell me why."
"You managed to forgive me quite well without it."
"Didn't have a choice, did I?"
"Don't be a fool. You could have -"
"Maybe I didn't want to."
There was a silence. "Still," Blake said finally, oddly inconsequential, "it was quite a good party."
"Until she turned up," Avon agreed, sitting up with difficulty. "And at least you finally -" his lips twisted, "- came back."
"Yes... well, I did say I would."
"That was a long time ago."
"To be honest, I don't think I believed it myself then, or afterwards." He reached out and pushed Avon's hair from his forehead, his touch more tentative than usual. "I left too much of myself out there for it to mean much anymore. And you?"
Avon didn't want to think about that. "I still want it finished, Blake," he said quietly. "I always did."
"And you still wish to be free of me?"
"That - no. But I do want it finished. And," voice dropping, "it will never be, will it?"
"Yes, it will."
"We just won't live to see it."
"No." Avon paused, then gave a clumsy half-shrug. "You know, I can't help wishing you'd told me that at the start."
"I can't help sometimes wishing I'd known." Blake stood and looked down at him, an odd expression on his face. "So at what point would it have made a difference to you?"
Avon pretended to consider. "At the start," he said finally.
Blake laughed - not much of a laugh, true, but close enough, the first time Avon had heard that laugh in months, years. "We'd better go." He bent and lifted Avon up, carrying him as easily as a child, careful for the shattered spine despite the fact that Avon would never feel any clumsy move, would never - in the wake of his injuries from Gauda Prime - feel anything there again.
His payment, if not yet in full.
"Avon?" And the sound of Blake's voice, calm, concerned - aloof if not unkind, forgiving if not quite forgetting - and above all alive, was his redemption.
He still wasn't sure which was going to be harder to live with.
"Are you all right, Avon?"
"No," he said wearily. "I'm not. But I will be."
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