Reviewing the SituationBy Rebecca Ann Brothers
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|Nobody had to tell Vila Restal twice, he knew when he wasn't wanted. It was past time for him to cut out on his own anyway. He'd only ever been along for the ride, until something better came his way. So what if he didn't actually have any prospects at the moment? A resilient and resourceful person made an opportunity happen, and his second best talent had always been looking out for himself. It might take a little extra effort, and there might not be instant results, but whatever befell him, at least it would be a result of his actions, his choices.
That had become a lot more important to him just lately, since Malodaar.
It wasn't that he was harboring a grudge, exactly; he couldn't see much sense in carrying that kind of anger and resentment around, letting it fester inside of you. When it came right down to it, he didn't even really blame Avon. Sure, in hindsight a person could see that maybe there had been other alternatives, and that if Avon had really been sharp it would not have reached a point where he'd contemplated chucking Vila out the airlock. Had their roles been reversed though, Vila supposed he might well have done the very same thing.
That was the point though: if the truth of it was that his life was held in no particular regard by Avon or the others, and that his own skin was what mattered most to him, then it was time to get out. A nice clean break, and no hard feelings, and here's hoping someone to lived to tell about it.
Glancing at a wall chrono in this crowded tavern he'd found, Vila considered that his future was just about free and clear. From what he'd overheard, this rendezvous Avon and Tarrant were headed for, with Zukan, was under the strictest timing. This stopover would be brief, long enough to repair some very minor damage. At least, Orac had told Vila it was a simple means of sabotaging Scorpio so the ship would have to make an unscheduled stop--but not serious enough to throw a real spanner in the works. Of course, that was always assuming he'd done the tampering correctly....
Well, he wouldn't worry about that. Even if Avon missed his meeting with Zukan, it didn't impact on Vila's plans. Since neither he or Tarrant knew the thief had stowed away, they could hardly notice if he'd gone missing now. And Vila couldn't help a sour reflection that they might not have noticed in any case--or given a damn one way or another.
Straightening up a little, Vila reached for his beer, firmly telling himself that it was too late in the day to start feeling sorry for himself. He'd burnt his bridges, passed the point of no return, all that stuff.
A hand fell on his shoulder and, suspecting Avon or Tarrant, he looked up and choked on his beer. "Blake?" he squeaked, sputtering and coughing as the rebel thumped him, unhelpfully, on the back.
"Are you all right?" Blake asked, looking anxiously into his face.
Nodding, Vila dragged his sleeve over his mouth and chin, eyes never leaving Blake's face. He hadn't changed much, aside from the scar, and maybe looking a little scruffier than Vila remembered. Still, sometimes a person didn't have a lot of time for things like that, and then Blake never had seemed much interested in his appearance, not like those preening peacocks, Tarrant and Avon.
"You gave me such a shock!" he exclaimed, which was putting it mildly. This was just about the last place in the galaxy he would have expected to come across Blake, especially considering what Servalan had said about him. Laying a hand on the man's sleeve, he asked, "How come you're not dead?" Then pulled a face, deciding that hadn't come too well.
Blake cocked an eyebrow, and Vila found a deal of comfort in that simple familiar gesture. "Am I supposed to be?" the rebel asked, the baritone voice rich with wry amusement.
"Well, Servalan said you were."
"Ah, and she is noted for her honesty."
Now that he thought of it, it was peculiar that they had all taken Servalan at her word. Of course, Vila gathered Avon had been pretty well knocked for a loop at the time, because of believing he'd actually seen and spoken with the missing rebel leader. Vila wondered if he should tell Blake about that. For that matter, should he let the rebel know that Avon was very nearby? It was hard to miss the way the other man kept looking around--even less difficult to work out who he was looking for. Glancing over at the chrono again though, the thief had to wonder if it might already be too late.
"Vila," Blake caught and held his gaze, "where is he?"
"At the spaceport, maybe, if you hurry."
Blake quirked an eyebrow. "Then why are you sitting here?"
"Long story." And best left for much later. "Come on." One of the main elements of being a survivor was the ability to roll with the punches life threw at you. This wasn't at all what Vila'd had in mind, but who knew, maybe having Blake back would make all the difference; maybe it would take some of the pressure off Avon, bring back the feeling that had been there at the beginning.
He wasn't going to hold his breath though.
Funny how much he had thought he was looking forward to this moment, to watch Scorpio vanish into the night sky, with him left behind to make his own way from now on. Actually standing on the tarmac and seeing the ship take off, however, was proving to be rather different in reality. And it wasn't only because Vila was aware of Blake at his side, of the rebel's disappointment in getting here too late.
"Well," he began, then stopped, unable to think of anything to say.
Blake finally broke the silence, still watching the sky, though Scorpio was long since lost to sight. "Why would Avon leave you behind, Vila?"
"Probably because he didn't know I'd come along for the ride. I told you, Blake, it's a long story."
"Well, it looks like we're going to have time for long stories."
Risking a look at Blake, Vila was disturbed by the expression on the other man's face. He hadn't seen anyone looking that upset since...well, since Avon, on Terminal, just before he'd locked everything away behind that stone mask once and for all. "You were really looking forward to seeing him, weren't you?" Vila said, a note of puzzled wonder in his voice.
A corner of Blake's mouth twitched with a half-hearted smile. "Yes, Vila, I was. Why should that be a surprise to you?"
Vila shrugged, toed at some gravel. "Dunno. Never could figure you two out--at each other's throat one minute, then risking your lives for each other the next time I looked."
"I don't think we ever understand it ourselves." Broad shoulders lifted in a shrug. "He's all right though?"
"More or less."
"That's no answer."
No, but Vila wasn't sure how to put it all into words. "I've seen him better," he admitted. Then, "One of the reasons I stowed away and got off here was because of not wanting to see him any worse."
"I see," Blake said, and Vila wondered if maybe he really did. If anyone had ever sussed out Kerr Avon--and liked what he found--it was Roj Blake. "Well," it was starting to rain now, "I think we should find somewhere warm and dry and start swapping long stories. What do you think?"
A drop of rain rolled off Vila's nose. "I think it's a pity Avon's not here to discover you do have the sense to come in out of the rain."
That won a smile from Blake, lightening the atmosphere just a bit. "Would it be assuming too much if I asked you to help me find him again?"
"Do I have a choice?"
Blake canted a curious look at him, as if sensing there was something very important behind those words. "Of course."
"And if I tell you where to find Avon, and then choose to go my own merry way, you'll let me?"
"If that's what you want."
And pigs'd fly. Still, it wasn't like he had an urgently pressing engagement elsewhere. "Okay, I can tell you where he is at least--after that it's up to you though. I'm not playing matchmaker."
"Yes, well, I wasn't planning to ask him to kiss and make up."
A grin split Vila's face at the image that conjured. "I dunno.... If you sold tickets, you could make a fortune."
"I'll take it into consideration," Blake told him, voice and expression solemn, steering Vila towards a flyer.
"Where're we going?" Vila asked, climbing inside.
"My base. It's not too far," Blake said, climbing behind the controls.
"Your base? Sounds like you've made some progress." Vila also hoped he'd had some flying lessons. "You know, I never did find out what this place is called," he commented, looking out the window to watch the lights of the town fade, replaced by a seemingly endless vista of trees.
"It's called Gauda Prime." Blake shot him a look, a smile playing at his eyes and mouth. "Welcome back to the revolution, Vila."
Vila chose not to reply with the rude remark that leapt to his lips.
"...I think I better think it out again!"
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