An Evening Out Can Be A Terrible ThingBy Alicia Ann Fox
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|Cally tapped her fingers on the teleport console, impatiently awaiting Blake's signal. He, Vila, and Avon had attended a state dinner with the Sardasians, a warlike race who had no love for the Federation. Blake hoped to enlist their aid in the rebellion.|
"Blake to Liberator," she heard.
She activated the teleport and watched as the three men materialized; then she half-rose in shock as Avon swayed gently into the right-hand wall and smiled dreamily.
"Oh, no," she whispered. Blake took a few steps toward her and she caught the aroma of Firian whiskey. "Blake, he's drunk!" //And you, too,// she sent, furious.
"I told him not to chug it," said Vila, who was amazingly steady on his feet. "He said that was the only way to cover the taste." Avon turned, still leaning on the wall, and gazed at Vila as if he were feeling very, very mellow.
Blake looked back at Avon. "Maybe we'd better get him to his cabin," he said, and chuckled, taking an unsteady step towards the computer expert.
"Blake, can you walk?" Cally asked.
"He's got more body-weight," added Vila. "Avon is the one who's soused." The soused crew member suddenly reached out and ruffled Vila's hair, snorting as though this were very funny. Vila grinned. "I kind of like him better this way."
Jenna entered, told Blake the course was set, then did a double-take at Avon, who had managed to get to the teleport console bench and suddenly broken into a rambunctious rendition of "The Troopers' Federation March," an extremely bawdy tune, to which he unfortunately remembered all of the words. Jenna burst out laughing. Blake tried to leave, but Avon broke off singing long enough to grab Blake's arm and slur something to the effect of "Roj old buddy why don't we blow something up" before the rebel leader could get out of reach. Blake carefully removed the hand and walked out, propped up by Jenna.
"This is too much," called back Jenna. "No wonder Avon never has wine with dinner," and burst into another fit of laughter.
Cally straightened from examining the now-quiet computer expert's pupils. He watched her with the same quizzically pleased look he had earlier directed at Vila.
"Vila, help me," she said.
"What if he tries to hit me?"
"He's not going to be hitting anyone for a while. I think we need to get him in his cabin before he passes out in the corridor."
Vila had to be coerced, but at last they got his arms and began to carry him to his cabin. "Weighs a ton," commented Vila. Their task was made more difficult by Avon's occasional attempts at conversation, which made very little sense. At one point, while they were maneuvering him into his bathrobe, he looked earnestly into Vila's eyes and called him 'Anna my love'. At Cally's questioning look, Vila shrugged. "He's never mentioned anyone by that name-but then, he wouldn't."
Unfortunately by this time Avon was not approaching unconsciousness as they had hoped, only becoming more talkative. He insisted on giving them disjointed instructions on writing software with such intriguing titles as "The Egrorian Entendre Worm," and "Tarial Mole."
Much later, Cally noted that Avon's voice was beginning to grow more slurred, and his mood increasingly morose. Suddenly he focused on Vila again. "He's a fool, you know," he said. "An utter, idealistic fool."
"Blake?" Vila asked.
"Fearless Leader. Never asks, just tells. Don't know why I bother to save his skin. We'll die together, you know," and passed out.
Morning. 0530, Liberator time, and they were under attack, again. Avon awoke to pitch blackness and a series of bone-shuddering crashes. Go away, he thought. Go away. Stop that. Confused pause. There was another crash-he felt this one in his toenails. "Stop that," he muttered softly, and tried to push his eyeballs back in with his forearm-they felt coated with emery powder and with a moan he let his arm fall back on the sheet.
In my bed. Where? Familiar, but- Crash. Groan. Liberator. That ass Blake. Damn, he was cold. And thirsty. He staggered weakly to the bathroom, not turning on the lights, and was promptly sick. This helped his stomach but redoubled the pain in his head. After sitting on the floor for a while, wondering what the banging was, he rose and, still in the dark, attempted to take a hot shower, ending up on the floor with the water pounding on his head. For a moment the question "Where have all my clothes gone?" hovered on the edge of his befuzzed brain, but he dismissed the question without any real urge to know. His brain activity subsided again, and he simply waited for the hot water to warm him up. This is nice. He thought that several times. When he had recovered enough to stand, he decided that going back to bed would also be nice, so this he did. Shortly after he had gotten comfortably settled with lots of warm blankets and covered his head with his pillow, someone knocked on the door. Very softly, but to Avon it sounded like the chimes of Big Ben. "Go away," he breathed. "Let me die."
The door opened instead, and Cally stepped in, calling his name. A muffled moan answered her. She sighed, turned on the light, then hastily dimmed it at his protesting noise. Though how he can see through that pillow.... "How do you feel?"
Avon thought about this for a while. "Wretched," he croaked. "My tongue is asleep and my teeth itch."
"Worse than Blake, then. He only has a splitting headache."
"He told me he poured most of his into the flower vase."
"Marvelous." There was a long pause. "The crashes stopped."
"That was a battle, Avon. Blake needs you to fix the number two shield reserve."
The door opened again, and Blake's voice, sounding pained, said, "Come on, Avon. It won't take long."
"About five hours, minimum. No."
"But it needs-" Blake said loudly, then grasped his head as his own voice reverberated in it. He and Avon groaned simultaneously.
Cally sighed. "Leave, Blake. I will try to convince him." The rebel leader exited, leaving them alone. "Now, Avon, take that pillow off of your head."
Gingerly, he did so.
"Open your eyes."
"Vila said eyedrops would help." For once, Avon didn't have enough energy to make a sarcastic comment. Cautiously he screwed open one eye and then the other. The light did not appear to agree with him. She put the drops in and convinced him to sit up and swallow painkillers.
After a few moments Avon croaked, "Tea."
"I'll be right back," Cally promised. Soon she returned with the tea, and after brief consideration, dumped a slug of soma into it before giving it to Avon.
He stared into the mug. "I don't want the soma."
"Yes, you do."
He closed his eyes again and drank the tea in three gulps. "Blake can go to hell."
"He didn't know that the Sardasians toast their king between every course."
"What exactly did I do, last night?"
"For a while you were very cheerful. You sang a song, pretty well when I think of it, and called Blake 'Roj old buddy' and--"
"And then?" he asked, to avoid hearing the rest.
"You stopped talking and passed out."
"Would you like anything else?"
"Sleep. Lots of money. Blake locked away. Cally, where are my clothes?" He finished in a rush.
"Vila and I--"
"Never mind,' Avon said quickly. "I'll be on the flight deck in ten minutes. And tell Blake I'm never going out to dinner with him again."
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