Until It's GoneBy Betty Ragan
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In his dreams, he was always on the Liberator. Sometimes they were bad
dreams: Hairy aliens had boarded the ship and were chasing him through
endless corridors, but when he called for help the aliens were nowhere to be
seen, and his shipmates stood there, laughing at his fear, until the
creatures dropped from the ceiling and devoured them as Vila watched in
helpless terror. Or the one where he was alone on the ship, looking for
something. He never knew just what it was, only that if he didn't find it,
the others would never, ever come back, and that he never seemed to find it,
no matter how hard and how desperately he looked.|
Often, though -- surprisingly often -- they were happy. He would be sprawled on the flight deck couch, a glass of soma in his hand, and all the others would be there with him: Blake, Jenna, Cally, Gan, a much younger and happier-looking Avon. He would just sit there, listening to Blake talk. He could never remember about what, afterwards, but it hardly mattered. Just the sound of Blake's voice made him feel oddly safe and secure and... hopeful. Then Vila would say something clever and witty, and the others would laugh -- with him -- and Avon would say something affectionately insulting, and he would be suffused in a wonderful warm glow that felt like it could go on forever.
Those were always the worst. He'd wake from them afterward and stare at the blank, undecorated walls of his cabin on Xenon, or at the dull gray bleakness of Scorpio with the lights turned down for the sleep shift, and muse bitterly on the cruelty of Fate. Who would have ever thought that he would someday look back on those dangerous, fear-filled, frustrating times as the good days? You never know what you've got until it's gone, someone had told him once, and that sentence would echo around and around in his head until he wanted to rip it out of his mind with his fingernails.
As time went on and things got worse the happy dreams, perversely, grew more frequent, until he was almost afraid to go to sleep, knowing that eventually he'd have to wake up.
Then came Gauda Prime, and a sleep he thought he never would awaken from. But wake he did, at least a little. And in those however many drug- and pain- and sleep-filled days after, his dreams were all of goo oozing from walls, and of Servalan, and of snow.
Eventually they deemed him healed enough for interrogation. That first night, after a day of humiliation and pain, he fell into exhausted sleep in his tiny, dirty, new cell, and for the first time in many months, he did not dream of Liberator. He dreamed instead of the flight deck of Scorpio, of Tarrant's flashing grin, of Dayna's youthful laugh, of Avon's rare and precious genuine smile, of a happy homeward flight to Xenon.
And he woke with tears in his eyes and wondered how bad things would be when he finally began to dream of his cell.
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