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Change of Direction

By Mjo
Page 3 of 6

She hurried on.

Avon's door was open, "Vila, what's wrong?"

He looked up at her, tears streaking down his face. She moved forward and put her arm round him. He shook uncontrollably

"I I didn't m m mean t to" he stuttered and then burst out which another wailing sob

"Mean to what?" she said, then noticed the soggy desk

"It'll be alright Vila. It'll be all right"

"Blake, come to Avon's cabin a moment please"

"I'm working on some figures that Orac's just produced"

"Is it important?"

"Well, we won't be able to do anything with them until Orac comes up with something else, so I suppose I can spare a few moments"

As Blake entered Avon's cabin, Cally left Vila, and took Blake to one side.

"He's inconsolable. It seems he accidentally spilt the bottle that Avon wanted"

"What does he think Avon will do to him?" "Vila, come on, there's nothing you can do about it. We'll find Avon something else to drink"

Vila looked up at Blake

"Avon doesn't want anything else" he said hysterically, "he wants that" he said pointing to the remains of the cognac. "It'll probably be the last chance he'll get, and now I've ruined it"

Blake ran his fingers through his hair. "We'll find a cure Vila, I promise you. Avon is going to be all right"

"I don't believe you" Vila shouted, the burst into another spate of sobbing

Cally put her arms round Vila again

*Do something* she telepathed Blake.

"Maybe I can find another bottle" said Blake, though not with any conviction. "Wait here"

Blake knew he didn't have anything as sophisticated as Cognac. Perhaps Jenna? He went to the flight deck

"How is he?" asked Jenna

"Stable for now. I don't suppose you have any Cognac?"

"What type?"

"You mean you have?" surprised "Good, where?" "Of course in your cabin" he muttered to himself.

"Blake, what do you need Cognac for?"

"Vila dropped Avon's bottle and he's very upset about it. I said I'd find some more"

"So you want to give Avon my Cognac?"

"It's the least we can give a dying man" he snapped, then slumped in the chair.

"Sorry" said Jenna, "That bad, eh?"

"I won't give up Jenna. Dammit. Avon's not going to die"

"Wait here. I'll get the Cognac"

She reappeared a short time later with four bottles

"These must be worth a fortune" said Blake

"That one is" she said, pointing to a squat bottle with a faded brown label.

Blake pushed the intercom "Cally, What type of cognac did Avon have?"

"Vila" Cally said quietly "What type of Cognac did Avon have?"

Vila shrugged, "what does it matter now"

"This is the bottle, isn't it?"

Vila nodded

"Blake it says 'Cognac Frapin', there's a date on the back 134

"God's where did he get that?" said Jenna

"I take it you don't have it" Blake said

"I doubt if there are more than half a dozen bottles of that left in the entire universe" she said. "and Vila dropped it" she said disgustedly


"Here" she said handing him a bottle, "It's a 158, not a 134, but it'll probably do."

"Thank you Jenna" he said pecking her on the cheek, and rushed off.

One of these days, thought Jenna, you'll give me more that just a peck on the cheek. She sighed, looked at her reduced stock of bottles, and turned her attention back to the console.

Blake found the situation in Avon's cabin much as he had left it, Vila's sobs having quietened only slightly.

"Here" said Blake, handing a bottle to Cally. He didn't trust Vila not to drop another one, the state he was in.

"It's not quite the same as Avon's, but Jenna says its good enough"

"Vila, come on let's take Avon his drink" she said gently, "He'll be wondering where we've got to"

He didn't move. She passed the bottle back to Blake, and took Vila's arm

"Come on" she said "It's all right now; let's go and see Avon"

He stood up slowly, "You really think it'll be all right?"

"Yes" both Cally and Blake said simultaneously

*I hope*

Back in the medical centre, Cally looked at Avon on the monitor. He was lying on the couch, obviously fighting to control the pain that engulfed him. The spasm subsided, then almost immediately another one started up again. Avon screamed. Even with the volume turned down, it made her shudder. But there was nothing she could do. No amount of painkillers or tranquillisers would have any effect now.

"We'll go in in a minute" she said to Vila, as brightly as she could. She was glad that Vila had been too busy putting on his environment suit to notice the monitor.

She suited up. Blake was already in his.

She glanced back at the screen. Avon appeared to be more settled now.

They walked into the glass fronted sterilisation chamber. Avon noticed their approach, and swung his feet over the couch. He carefully got to his feet, staggered slightly, moved forward a couple of steps, grabbed the back of the chair, then manoeuvred himself into the seat.

"About time" he said, as they entered the unit

Vila started to back out. Cally shoved him forward

Blake put the bottle down on the table

Avon looked at it, then back at Blake, with a questioning look.

"There was an accident" Blake said, in a tone that dared Avon to say anything

Avon picked up the bottle and studied it. Cally noticed a slight tremor in his hand. She went to take the bottle, but stopped when Avon glared at her.

He glanced quickly at Vila, noticing the tear-stained eyes, then back at the bottle. "It'll do" he said. Then poured himself a glass.

"I'm going to enjoy this" he said, relaxing back in the chair. "I would have offered to share it with you, but that's not practicable given the circumstances"

He closed his eyes, relishing the taste of the drink.

No one spoke for a moment.

"Where did you get this?" he said, raising the glass

"Jenna" said Blake

"A woman of discerning taste" he said

"I'm not sure if she was going to drink it or sell it" chuckled Blake

"No, I wasn't sure either" said Avon. "But as the saying goes, you can't take it with you"

There was another morbid silence.

"Orac's still working on a solution" said Blake

"The sooner everyone accepts that I'm dying the better" Avon said, then gasped, clenching the glass, as another spasm wracked his body. "What I object to" he said between gritted teeth "is dying in such damned agony". He collapsed off the chair, curling up into the foetal position, still clutching the glass, which fortunately had already been drained.

The door they had come into opened, and Cally turned to see Vila rushing out.

She glanced down at Avon, who was slowing uncurling, the rushed after Vila.

She stopped him, just before he was about to open the door into the medical lab. She pulled him back

"Vila, you idiot you haven't been through the decontamination cycle. Do you want to get us all killed"

Vila looked down at his suit, as if in a daze

"I'm sorry" he stammered "I just can't stand to see him like that. I was going to get something .. to end it once and for all" he finished


"Orac's not going to find a cure is he... .and Avon's in there suffering. You can't let him go on like that. You can't" Vila started sobbing again

Cally shook him

"Listen Vila, there's still a chance. A small one I'll admit, but still a chance. And as long as there is a chance, Avon will remain alive. Is that understood."

"Is that understood" she said, shaking him

"Yes, yes" said Vila "but when there's no hope?"

"Then we'll deal with that when it happens. Avon won't suffer any longer than necessary. I promise you that Vila"

"Now I'm going back to check on Avon. Are you sure you can manage the decontamination sequence by yourself?"

Vila nodded


Cally returned to the Isolation unit, where Blake was carrying Avon back onto the couch.

"He can't move his legs" said Blake.

"I could have crawled" said Avon

"and I suppose you could have hoisted yourself up here as well" Blake said laying Avon down

"I would have managed"

"Is there anything you want?"

"You know what I want"

"stage 3 hasn't started yet" said Cally

"No. But hopefully it won't be much longer"

Blake looked from Avon to Cally and back again

"I feel I'm missing something here"

"Cally has deigned to put me out of my misery as soon as stage 3 begins"

"No!" Blake said, whirling round to face Cally. "I won't permit it"

"You won't permit it!" said Avon incredulously. "You have been trying to manipulate my life ever since we came on this ship. Now you want to manipulate my death as well. Well it's my death, and I'll damn well choose when it will happen!"

"You're in no position to choose anything" yelled Blake. Then stopped as he realised what he'd said "Avon.. I'm sorry"

"Get out" Avon said, reaching out to push Blake. He toppled over and nearly fell off the couch. Blake caught him just in time. Avon struggled, trying to push him away, but Blake's strength prevailed. Avon was being manoeuvred back down onto the couch, when he was wracked by another wave of spasms. Screaming, eyes wild he clung desperately to Blake. When it was over he pushed himself away and flopped back onto the covers. He looked directly into Blake's eyes. "Don't come in here again Blake"

"Avon.. I.."

"You're worse than Servalan. Servalan couldn't give me quick death, it wasn't in her nature. I can hate her, but I can't despise her. I despise you Blake. You're a hypocrite. You preach about the rights of man, freedom of choice, yet you deny me MY right to choose"

Avon turned his head away,


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