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|You know it really wasn't meant to turn out like this.|
Well I blame myself. I suppose we could all sit and do that, all find ways to share out the guilt to ourselves. And then to each other so we can pretend it wasn't us for a while. But you see, I have reasons they'll never know about. Maybe not any better or worse reasons than them, but still, they 're mine, and they worry me.
So here we are, stuck on another planet. Terminal, Kairos, it doesn't really make a difference any more.
Dayna's not really on form - she's making mistakes already. Avon's only just holding it together. Tarrant's passing out all over the place, I don't know if he's going to make it this time.
So you see, you're really the only one I can talk to. And I need to talk otherwise I'll go mad. You don't have to say anything, just listen. Maybe I am mad. Yes, I know I'm prattling.
It's not my fault really. Well, it is and it isn't. It feels like it is, or it could be.
Well look. I'll explain, and you tell me what you think.
You know how it is - maybe you don't - when you haven't had - well, a shag - in ages, and then you do, and even though you've hardly thought about it at all in months and months, it's the *only* thing you can think about? Like flicking a switch. Turning on a tap. You just want more and more and you have to do something before the bulb blows or the bath overflows.
Well, that's why I did it.
He's always telling me I'm stupid. I should listen. Well of course I don't, that would be clever. One of the girls, you see... it's hard, all living together. They can't just - y'know. Have a nice time and forget about it. Never mind a few nice times. They always want to dissect it. What does it *mean*, Vila?
I tell them. Just meant we both fancied a bit, doesn't it. Well, sometimes it's a bit more, but you can't tell them that. Asking for trouble.
So that only left the men. Tarrant - well, he'd just about got me killed that day. I know he didn't mean to, an honest mistake. Nice that someone else could be stupid too. He just handled it wrong, and Avon - well, Avon had just given up, was letting him boss everyone about, not really paying attention. Thinking about Blake, I suppose. It wasn't that long after.
It wasn't all bad. I met Kerril.
Anyway, Tarrant - I think he'd have let me. Guilt does strange things to a man. And he'd have tried hard. But... it just wouldn't have felt right. All the wrong reasons. I don't know if I thought about all that beforehand, by the way. I could just be trying to explain it all away. 'Justification is the refuge of a man in the wrong.' I heard Avon say that to Blake once, when they were arguing. Another fight. When they thought no one was listening.
I knew he missed Blake, well we all did, me and Avon and Cally. But it was different for Avon.
It was awkward. Not because they were blokes - not like I'd never seen that before, although the Federation frowned on it publicly. Worst thing you can do, I reckon. Makes it more attractive, more of a risk. Men I knew who'd never even considered that sort of thing started chasing boys all over the place. Me? I liked girls. I've always liked girls. But Avon...
I'd never thought of him that way before, not until I caught him and Blake at it in the rec room, mouths glued together.
Well I say caught. It's not like they knew I was there. I'm stupid, but I'm not that stupid. I couldn't believe I hadn't worked it out. But then Blake was so masculine, I suppose. Maybe that's why I could never really go for him myself. No, that's not true. I just...like girls. Spent most of my time, when I thought about that sort of thing at all, and it's easier not to, thinking about the girls back home. Not that I would be seeing them again. Probably won't, now.
But there was something in Blake. Passion, I suppose you'd call it, as he closed in on Avon. Well I know you wouldn't call it that. It was like Avon just.. surrendered under the force of it. All the fight went out of him. His eyes closed and he let Blake take his weight.
Then Blake started to peel off Avon's clothes, and his hands and his mouth were everywhere at once and I started to understand why Avon fought against him so much, because it would be so easy for him to become absorbed, just to lose himself and become a part of Blake.
So it started to make me sad, and I left. I might have been jealous, I'm not sure. I don't think so. I didn't want Blake, and I didn't want Avon. But they both had someone, and it's a cold lonely galaxy to be in on your own.
But then, that's just me. I never know what I want. Usually pretty good on what I don't want though. I just kind of drift along. I like to be useful. I suppose I like a bit of risk. Well, it goes with the job. Went with the job. My old job. Not fatal risk, if I can avoid it. Not very useful if you're dead, are you?
See, I start to think I'd like someone, and along comes Kerril. Beautiful girl, all starry and romantic and leggy. And she liked me - I mean, she actually liked me. A lot. But then I wasn't sure, not really and.. well, it wouldn't have been fair on her, would it?
So anyway, that was on my mind. And what Dayna had told me, about him coming down to get me, him and Cally, and he wouldn't let Tarrant go. And about me being hard to replace. That was really nice. Especially as I was never much cop on the whole political side of things. I keep well out of that if I can, it's only trouble. But he, they, still wanted me. It's not like he hasn't wanted to leave the others behind at times. Even Blake.
And the thing about Avon - I noticed this, with Blake. The thing about Avon is, ask him if he wants to do something, anything, explode a planet or make a cup of tea, it doesn't really matter what. He'll kick and shout and scream, and you'll have a hell of a job getting him to agree. Whatever he really thinks. Whereas, if he knows it's happening anyway, that's different. He'll still kick and shout a bit, but after he's got that out of his system, once he knows you're going ahead anyway, he'll go along with it, try and make it work as best he can.
Or at least, that was the gamble.
So - the other thing I haven't told you. Maybe you know anyway, I don't know if you've been with him while he's asleep. But when he's tired, really tired, it's like waking the dead. Once you've stirred him he's up and ready in minutes. But it's like he's got some sort of shut down switch; he can just turn all the systems off and nothing'll wake him, unless it's something very loud and persistent. Or something shaking him hard.
So. Well. This is the difficult bit. I'm not sure why I did it.
Look, it wasn't going to hurt anyone. I just .. let myself in. Slipped in beside him, quietly. And he was all warm and dozey as I cuddled up to his back, and he wriggled against me in his sleep, settling in, and it was lovely. So there I was, you know, or maybe you don't, nestled firmly into his bum, kind of creeping my hand forward without really touching him, except there, you know. And he got kind of.. well, you know, in my hand, so I wriggled into him a bit closer and I might have, a little, started in on his neck, or that bit where it stops being neck but hasn't become a shoulder yet. And I moved my hand a bit more, and his breathing went sort of out of rhythm and he started to wake up a bit.
Of course he couldn't see me, so he wasn't sure, and there was a moment where his back stiffened, just a bit, and I thought he might wake up a bit too much. Actually I thought he might say his name, Blake's name. But maybe he wanted to believe it was him. Maybe he didn't care. Maybe he was pleased, he doesn't give much away. Anyway, he just let me carry on, and he had a nice time and I had a nice time. Then he fell asleep again, or maybe he didn 't really, but when I thought he might have or wanted me to think he had, I just slipped away again.
How was I to know? It was just a bit of fun, I thought.
Anyway, the next thing I know we're heading for Earth. Well, there was that thing for Cally in-between, but ...
And he asked me to sort it all out, the cave and everything, well you know about that already, and it was really creepy, but I sort of understood why. It had to be me, that was the whole damn T-word again, wasn't it. And it was good to see - good to see something driving him again, at last. And the strangest thing was after.. Not right after, but a few days after, when I woke up, and I woke up in the middle of the night, he was there. He picks locks better than he lets on. So... I let him. I suppose I wanted him to. Needed, useful, you see. Don't look at me like that. Look, he had his reasons. I was just glad of the company. It's been lonely, since Gan. Not that me and Gan ever. But I miss him.
And then, every once in a while, I'd be asleep, and he'd just appear. I don' t know why, or even why me. I know why not Tarrant - looks too much like him. Curly hair. Prone to arguments. And it seemed to help him a bit, he started taking charge again. Maybe I'm flattering myself there. Probably.
But you see, if I hadn't, if I hadn't gone the first time, well, maybe he'd have got back to his old self anyway. And maybe he wouldn't have gone running after Shrinker, and maybe lots of things.
But I suppose the main one is, maybe he could have forgotten about Blake. Forgotten a bit. Forgotten enough not to come here.
Or maybe he'd have let Tarrant or Cally or Dayna know what was going on. Maybe even me.
So now we're stuck here on another planet. Terminal. It might be. It was for Cally.
They're coming back, Orac. I'm glad you're not working, in a way. I know I can trust you to keep this our secret. Thanks for listening, old friend.
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