Today GoodbyeBy Sarah Maggs
Page 1 of 1
Wish me luck, the same to you ...
She could hear the dying of the ship around her. The others were gone: Cally with a last, almost wistful smile, Avon with that dark, searching stare. A pity that neither look had been for her... but then her last thoughts were not for them. Not quite. Not quite.
Her escape capsule was nearly ready. She's seen this coming, seen it before they'd reached what had become their final battlefield, long before... too long ago, really.
"We'll finish what we set out to do. Nothing else is settled."
But it had been, hadn't it? She'd known it even before he chose to go, that she would too. Just not that it would be in another direction. Away from them all, and away from...
Blake's pod was closed - suddenly, feverishly, she thumbed it open again. He was still unconscious, he had passed out as Avon had almost manhandled him into the capsule; his face was half-turned towards the light, with shadows under the eyes and around the mouth, but when she checked the bandage for the fourth, fifth (tenth if she included Avon and Cally) time, it was still clean, the wound hadn't broken open again. He would be all right, he'd come back to the ship and then -
Avon would take him back to Earth, as they had agreed.
And leave him there. Oh yes, really. Really. We believe you, Avon.
She almost wished she'd be there to see it.
Blake shifted slightly, breath catching; she put a hand to his shoulder, and he stilled again. She lifted the hand to his forehead, brushed the curls back, felt for a fever. None, though her hand lingered a moment.
No regrets, she told herself. While it lasted, it was worth it. What more can you ask of anyone?
With a sigh, she turned back to her own escape pod, and the small bag beside it.
Avon had noticed the bag, and given her one level, mildly questioning look, but he hadn't time to ask. He'd think of it later, realise that she hadn't meant to come back, and be somewhat relieved not to have that battle on his hands. But she wouldn't fight him for the ship; she couldn't win, she'd known that for far too long. The others leaned more his way than hers, and Blake had agreed... she would have liked to ask Blake why he had agreed, it had hurt (then, not now), but there had been no time, and now she'd never know.
It didn't matter now. Maybe it never did. The other battle had mattered more, and she'd lost that one to Avon as well.
Quickly, quickly, she checked over the contents. Not that there was much; a few clothes, her data-cubes of starcharts copied from Zen, a stash of credits, a bag of jewels and assorted valuables from the Treasure Room - more than enough to get her started, wherever she ended. She's come onto the ship as a criminal among crooks, with little more than the clothes on her back, and had always half-expected to leave the same way.
It was a pity that her fellow felons had such little use for possessions they couldn't use, sell or pawn. It made collecting those few last things she'd wanted that much harder; but then again, a good thing Vila had given them all those lessons in lock-picking - and they would come in handy when she was alone. And given how many of the 'missing' items of the last year had been in his cabin when she'd searched, he wouldn't begrudge one of his, surely.
A smile quirked one edge of her mouth. Yes he would, and she knew it.
She was going to miss him, though. Carefully, she tucked the pack of playing cards - special, gilt-embossed and painted with scenes from the Lindoran Sutra that he'd 'borrowed' from President Sarkoff one time - into her bag, along with a bottle of real Earth brandy that he'd probably forgotten he'd filched from her in the first place. And the watch he'd stolen from Blake the day they'd met, been made to give back... and which she'd found back in his room.
Next, the packet of drawings that Cally had given her, months ago, in one of their 'friend-ish' times. Cally's love of drawing had affected even Avon, who'd allowed her to sketch him a whole three times; Vila had loved being drawn, as had Gan, and Jenna herself had smiled, shrugged and pretended not to notice how really, really dreadful they'd been. And grown to like the odd stick pictures for their own sake, and because each one reminded her of Cally, even if she couldn't work out who the picture was of.
The packet had pictures of them all... well, she thought it did. She'd popped in a few extras to be sure. With it, a tiny bottle of the spiky, sweet perfume Cally had used this last year.
Avon... she hesitated, fingers just touching cool, smooth plastic. Avon had been more difficult, because of their history and their mutual dislike and mutual - totally conflicting - interest. When she'd slipped into his room - nervous, in spite of herself, though she'd timed it during one of his lengthier and more inspired fights with Blake - she'd found a small, worn medallion on a leatherette thong by his bed. And nearly, nearly, so nearly had picked it up and taken it... not only to have it, but so that he didn't have it. Petty, maybe, but so hard to resist.
It had been Blake's, of course. She neither knew, nor wanted to know, when he'd given it to Avon, nor why. Nor if they'd actually become lovers, nor, if they were, why they still fought so hard, so fiercely and so bitterly. And she had known for a long time that there was love of some sort amongst the thorns and laser-bolts, so she wasn't surprised, either.
She'd left it there. She'd understood. Later she had ever-so-politely asked Avon to lend her one of his downloaded books, a vitriolic pre-Atomic set of stories by a long dead author called Bierce. The print-out, in its thin plastic sleeve, was impersonal and unfriendly, and the prose stung like the lash of his wit: perfect.
A teleport bracelet next, and a stylus set she'd once given Gan.
And finally a small package, a pair of dark leather gloves, several badly scrawled notes, a favourite mug. Not much to remember two years by - not even a picture, they were too dangerous wherever she was going. But at least Blake had given her each of them at one time or another. And finally - in a fit of sentimentality, her first in years and probably her last - a crumpled piece of printout, wrapped around a single, untidy, clipped curl.
He'd never loved her, but that was no one's fault, not his, not Avon's, no one's. And she wasn't sorry that she had known them, known him. It had been worth it. It had been worth it. Fighting the Federation, fighting Avon, fighting to save the galaxy.
She picked up the bag and went to throw it into her pod. She could hear Zen's voice, faintly but doggedly urging them to 'evacuate by life capsule'. Turning back, she looked down at Blake again. She undid her diamond necklace and slipped it into the bag of jewels - hesitated, then dropped it into the capsule beside him.
"No regrets, Roj."
She didn't regret it, any of it, not begrudge a moment. She found a hope that he didn't, either.
Her eyes were dry as she touched a finger to her lips, then to his, and slid the door closed.
Sent his capsule on its way.
Settled into her own, and hit the switch to leave.
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