Author's Note: This story was originally written & published in Neil Faulkner's excellent print zine, "Trooper Orac's Fantastic Plastic Army" which came out in 2001 but is still available through Judith Proctor's fantastic web site. I know a URL will be blocked if I list it here, but suffice to say if you search on Judith Proctor and Blakes 7 you will find a URL that contains both hermit and org in it, otherwise knows as the Holy Grail for outstanding B7 writing.

Though the zine is still available, it's been 8 years so I hope Neil will forgive me for posting this online, which I am doing at the request of glenavon.

Oh, and for those of you who catch spelling mistakes, this was deliberately written with UK English spelling since Blakes 7 is a British fandom and the zine was a British publication.


"Why did he do it, Vila?"

The voice is hoarse but it's Blake's voice. If I close my eyes, I might be able to pretend that it's more than two years ago, that Avon has done something particularly infuriating. I slip with ease onto the flight deck of Liberator where the argument rages. All of us safe, whole, sane. No, even I can't maintain that illusion. Blake's voice is hoarse and full of pain, physical pain, not the frustration of years past. It's now all right and none of us are who we were before.

I tell him the truth; it's as if he doesn't want to hear it. What does Blake want to hear? It's obvious that he'll ask the question until he gets the answer he wants. Bloody hell, everything has changed but Blake's stubbornness. This man lying in the bed isn't even Blake: he's a hard man, suspicious and angry, more bitter than believer.

"He's mad. Is that what you want me to say?"

Yes, that might be it. I watch him, watch his eyes -- or should I say eye -- and how it narrows as he glances away.

"I've told you already! Tarrant said you sold us; Avon practically begged you to tell him that wasn't true, and what did you do? I don't know what game you were playing or who you thought Avon was, but he's not a man to play with. Not about betrayal anyways. Tarrant told you that as did Dayna and Soolin. Why is it so hard to believe? Yes, Avon's been going mad." Shrinker. Anna Grant. Terminal. Cally. Losing the Liberator. Malodaar. I close my eyes as, unbidden, I relive them all. "We all have, Blake. When you've lost any reason to stay alive and do it only out of habit, it's easier to be slightly insane."

"Do you really expect me to believe that?"

Yeah, I did, but I'm starting not to. If you're who we thought you were, you would stop asking questions and understand what we've been through. I wished so hard to find you that it never occurred to me that you might not be who you were. I suppose Avon did too. It's worse than being with Avon. At least I saw him change and became used to it.

"No, Blake, I don't, because you weren't there. You didn't go through what we did. You expected Avon to be how you remembered and you conveniently forgot that he never took anyone on trust, even before…"


I suppose you expect me to be what you remember as well, the chatty, happy little distraction. I was there! I lost them too! Where were you? We looked for you for two years. It's as if you didn't want us back.

"Why, Blake? If you don't want to know, you shouldn't ask and if you want to know, why ask me? Ask Avon, if he's still alive."

"I said that's enough, Vila. You can go now."

Go now and return again tomorrow to be asked the same questions, endlessly and repetitively, as if reliving the previous two years again and again. Enough is right.

"I'll leave, Blake, but I'm not coming back again." Liar. "You don't want to hear what I have to say and it hurts to keep telling you." Pause. Insight. "That's it, isn't it? It's your way of punishing me, isn't it? What did I ever to do you?"

Blake won't meet my eyes. You bastard.

"Haven't you played enough games with us? Are you going to kill us too, because we were Avon's crew? At least you gave him a trial, what will you charge the rest of us with?"

Blake keys a button at his bedside. The guard's only waiting outside the medical unit and I know I'll have only seconds to get in a few last words.

"I wish we had never found you! You aren't worth it. We spent two years looking for you and you're not the man you were. Maybe that's why Avon shot you. Did'ya ever think of that, Blake?"


"I didn't get anything new out of him."

"Damn it, Vila! You were there more than an hour! What did you talk about?"

Tarrant's pacing sets me on edge, as if I don't already have enough on my plate. He thinks he's in charge now. Some leader. Leadership of two since the girls are in a separate room and it's not like we even see them, well not regularly.

"It's the same thing every day, Tarrant. I told you! He asks me questions about us, the Liberator, Scorpio, what happened in the last two years and we always end up at the same place. I could tell him the same answer over and over again. I don't think he wants to hear it. I think he's doing this as punishment."

Tarrant snorts. "So you don't know what he plans to do with us?"

Stupid question, Tarrant, since I just told you I didn't get anything new. I just shake my head, save my breath.

"You don't know if they've executed Avon yet?"

"Don't you think I'd tell you if I knew any of that? Why are you asking? Just to show you're in charge, I'll bet. Well, I'm sick of you in-charge bastards ordering me around! First Blake, then Avon, and now you. I don't follow orders from you, Tarrant!"

I look for something to kick on my way to my cot. Nothing at all. Damn empty room. I hate small, cramped places – it's a medical condition, you know -- and they stick me in this tiny little empty room, with Tarrant of all people. I throw myself onto the cot, turn my back on Tarrant. Following you in-charge bastards brought me here. No more of that. I can do better myself.


Tarrant's hands grab at my shirt. It's not much but I've not much of my own left and the bastard's ripping it, pulling me up. I smell the sharp dank smell of sweat and rage. He pulls me close to his face, close enough that I can see every pore of his skin, see the sheen of perspiration, and the fury in those blue eyes. His teeth are bared in an Avon-like grin, an attempt at a threat I guess. His breath stinks, unwashed teeth and gums. I wince. From the smell, of course.

Tarrant, you're too clean for this lot. You're too used to having things nice, keeping clean and presentable. There's no one here who respects your FSA training or your pretty looks so you take it out on me. You want to be in charge even if I'm the only one left to follow your orders. Well, since I know that, and you don't, I suppose it shows which of us is really stronger.

"Leave me alone, Tarrant. If you want information from Blake, why don't you go talk to him tomorrow? I'm not going anymore."

Tarrant drops me, letting me fall hard onto the cot. Bastards, all of you, the whole lot. I wish they'd lock me up with the girls! Neither of them tries to push me around – normally -- though if they did, I might let them.

"You know Blake won't speak to me, Vila. He blames me for what happened, as if it's my fault that Avon believed me when Blake was the one who lied."

Not for that Tarrant, he blames you for the fact that Avon believed you instead of trusting him. The Blake I knew would have realised why Avon didn't trust him and how he himself had mucked it up.

"Yeah, well, this Blake's a different man than the one I knew."


"Tell me about the pylene-50 pacification program."

It's worse than the bloody Federation. At least there no one bothers to pretend that they're your mate. They at least are honest, as Avon might say. On the other hand, it's easier to be brave when you know they're not going to hit you and Blake's not up to hitting anyone yet.

"Well, while you were sitting on this god-forsaken planet playing bounty hunter games, we were trying to distribute the antidote formula to pylene-50."

"Not too successfully, or so I hear."

"At least we tried which is a lot more than you've done!"

It might have been our only real success against the Federation. Two long years we tried this and that, in between searching for you. One bloody disaster after another, though truth be told, at the time they all seemed like good ideas. Or most of them anyway.

"Vila," Blake says between his teeth, "tell me about the pylene-50 pacification program. Without editorialising."

"I don't know much," I lie. "You should ask Avon if you want the details on how it works and all that. All I know is that we went to Heleotrix to find out how it had been retaken and so quickly. Dayna and Tarrant went down and found out that the Federation was using this drug. They talked to the fella who designed it and got the written formula and some pills of the antidote."

"That's it?" Blake's frowning, radiating scepticism.

"No." I sigh. "Avon tried to pull together an alliance to produce enough of the antidote but he was betrayed and our base was destroyed. But you know all of that, so why bother asking?"

"Who has the formula for the antidote?"

"Avon and Orac, of course."

Stupid question, Blake, but then again you won't talk to one and don't have the other. Avon's revenge, I suppose.

"You said Tarrant and Dayna obtained it." Suspicious doubt colours Blake's voice.

"You don't expect either of them to remember it, do you? I suppose you better find out from Avon before you kill him."

Blake scowls. Oh, come on, Blake. I don't think Avon will keep it a secret if you ask him for it. I doubt he cares one way or the other, but you'll have to ask for it, he won't volunteer anything.

"Where's Orac, Vila?"

"No idea. Avon hid him before we entered your base."

"How long was Avon gone when he went to hide Orac?"

"I didn't pay attention. I was too narked about everything that was going on. It could have been minutes; it seemed like hours."

Blake's glare is just as piercing as before, it rakes my face and probes under the half-truths I'm telling him. Maybe I should… Hang on, this isn't my Blake, our Blake. I can't trust this man. It's a sad state of affairs but I can't trust anyone anymore. No one's looking out for Vila Restal except Vila Restal, certainly not Kerr Avon or Roj Blake.

"I don't believe you, Vila."

Hmph. A challenge from Blake like that might have once left me scrambling, back peddling for a better answer. I'm not that Vila anymore. I shrug. Let Blake draw whatever interpretation he wants.

"How come you get to ask all the questions, Blake? Why won't you tell me what you're planning to do?"

"It's my base and your leader tried to kill me. He managed to kill one of my people!"

Klyn, they mentioned her name at his trial. A lovely pretence, that was: all prosecution, little defence. I suppose they consider allowing Tarrant and me to speak as something of a defence. Wait a minute, Blake just answered one of my questions.

"Are you going to kill all of us? What did you do to Avon?"

Blake's eye flickers, angry and contemptuous.

"Why would I kill any of you, Vila? Don't you trust me either?"

"Ahh, well now that you mention it, Blake, I don't. Trust you that is. You, or your people -- not that there's much difference since they jump when you just fart -- have kept me and the others prisoners for the last six weeks. For all I know, you've killed Avon. You might think that's your right, but he's still my friend!" And if he's not, I won't tell you now, will I? "You can't have it both ways, Blake. You want us to trust you without you trusting us, don't you? That's what caused all the trouble in the first place."

"Get out, Vila." Blake turns his head away with indifference. "Clearly you've became as bad as Avon."

What happened to the Blake I knew? I can't imagine anyone following you the way you are now, surly and vicious.

"Is he dead?"

Blake ignores me. His hand moves to the button that summons the guard.

"Damn you, Blake! He shot you because you were a threat! If you kill him, it's in cold blood. That makes you a murderer, no better than Servalan or Travis!"

Button pressed, guard enters.

"It's a good thing Gan, Jenna, and Cally are dead so they couldn't see what they died for!" I shout as I'm pulled from the room. I doubt he hears me; he doesn't want to.


"I've been chatting up the guards," Dayna says in a conspiratorial whisper, "and I learned that he's still alive."

Pointless asking who "he" is.

Maybe Blake did hear me, at least a little. At least we can eat together now. In a separate room than the dining hall, of course, and under guard, but it's progress nonetheless.

"We've got to get out of here," Tarrant murmurs.

Right. As if Blake doesn't know almost every trick we've ever done. We don't even have locks on our doors since he knows I'd be through them faster than a bottle of Derovian blood wine. Armed guards round the clock and security vis cameras in the rooms and in the outside corridor. Force of habit to notice those things.

"Any ideas?"

Damn it, Dayna's all excited, as if planning an escape makes everything all right, as if we're not prisoners of the Resistance, as if we have any place to go.

"If we do get out," Soolin says cautiously, "do we go alone or do we try to get him out?"

"Don't be ridiculous! We can't leave him here!"

Dayna's voice is slightly louder than a whisper, enough to draw the guard's attention. Damn it to hell, these kids have no idea of what they're playing at.

"Come on, Tarrant. You can't leave yet, I'm still eating!" I speak loudly; the guard would have to be deaf or dead not to hear me.

Tarrant leans over, patting my arm. I've not many kind words for him but at least he's not stupid. "Now, now, Vila. I won't run off yet," he says firmly, with a glare at Dayna.

I can't watch the guard, too obvious, so I watch Tarrant's eyes instead. When the guard seems to return to a bored stare, Tarrant's hand grips my arm, tight like, as if he doesn't already have my attention.

"We'll need a layout of this place. How fast can you do one?"

Layout? "Wait a minute, I don't know where we are any better than you do."

"But you're the one who gets to see Blake every day. Try and pay attention. Perhaps you'll actually learn something valuable."


"Tell me about Sleer."

Blake seems more like Blake these days. He's sitting up and has his colour back, though he still wears that ugly scar on his face. Left eye, just like Travis. Odd how things turn out, isn't it. Still, it's unsettling; it's as if he's trying to be the Blake from before, the one I knew, but failing.

"Not much to tell. She's Servalan, except for the name."

"I hear she and Avon knew each other fairly well."

Knew? Past tense? Dayna just said…

"After Star One, she was President you know and hell bent on catching Liberator and all of us. I think it got personal between them; their own private little war."

"That's it?"

So much scepticism, so unlike my Blake. That's it really, the difference between the two is that loss of trust. He's no faith in me, nor I in him.

"I think she was obsessed with him, if you want the whole truth. She set him up at Terminal, offered you as bait and in exchange she wanted him and Liberator."

Blake looks impatient. Anytime I mention something about Avon trying to find him or doing anything of value he wants to skip right over it. He can't stand to hear anything positive about Avon, might stop him from hating Avon so much. Well, Vila Restal, you might have found a way around this lock.

"Of course, she really wanted Liberator. When she told Avon you were dead, he went after her. If Tarrant hadn't stopped him, she would have shot Avon right there so I guess she didn't want him all that much." I pause to let that brew a little and then continue. "I suppose from your perspective that was another of Tarrant's mistakes, wasn't it."

"Perhaps I should be impressed by your loyalty, Vila, but I'm not. It must be cheap to give it that easily."

"Cheap? It costs me dearly enough."

"Yes, Avon exacts a price for loyalty given to him, doesn't he?"

"How the hell would you know?"

Silence, nearly as cold as Exbar and twice as frigid.

"So Avon walked into a trap at Terminal and got Cally killed. How did Servalan escape?"

You bastard.

"No idea. Tarrant and Dayna saw her on Heleotrix but she was calling herself Sleer. Created a new identity after she lost the presidency, or maybe she had one already prepared. All I know is that she was behind the pylene-50 project and twice as bent on killing us."

"Commissioner Sleer. A rather low rank for a person of her ambitions."

"Clever, she is. High enough to get things done but not high enough to draw the wrong attention. Avon thinks she instituted the pacification program as a bid to regain Supreme Commander or the Presidency."

"Does he now?"

Yes, he does, and your snarl is twice as caustic as Avon pre-Star One and still worse than he became after.

"Yes, but then he's a good judge of character."

Calm down Vila, my boy. It's one thing to push Blake a bit hoping he'll realise what's what, but there's no point in pushing him too far. Blake's in charge here and you'll do well to remember that.

"A good judge of ambition, I'll grant him that."

Was that a compliment from Blake? Hardly. It's meant as a slur, isn't it?

"You know I always thought you were supposed to be the believer in the common man, Blake. Doesn't look like it, or feel like it now, though. You call us Avon's crew as if that's all we are. You haven't made a damn attempt to even learn about the others."

"Vila," Blake begins in a warning tone.

"Take Tarrant. Now he and Avon barely got along. He's a pilot, not as good as Jenna of course, and not as good as he think he is, but still and all, how many pilots do you have?"

"More than enough, thank you, considering the ships…"

"And Dayna. She builds weapons. Did you know her father? Hal Mellanby. Yes, I thought you might have known him, or at least his name. Soolin's our hired hand and the best shot you'll ever see. All that talent sitting as prisoners."

"You've made your point, Vila."

"All that talent going to waste."

"Vila, they are Avon's crew! What makes you think any of them would want to work for me?"

"They signed on to fight the Federation, well except for Soolin, but she hasn't ever been paid as far as I know so I really haven't figured why she stays. I can't speak for them, Blake. They might be interested, they might not, but they certainly haven't been fighting the Federation for the last six weeks."

Blake sighs. "What about you, Vila? Are you interested?"

"No," I say as a voice inside my head shrieks 'yes, yes, you idiot, what are you saying?' "You see, I knew you before. Every time I look at you, I keep hoping to see the Blake I knew, and of course, he doesn't exist any more. At least not that I can see. Besides, I could never work for you after you kill Avon. I don't know about the others, but I wouldn't turn my back on Dayna after Avon's dead, if I were you."

"That's a shame, Vila. I'd like to have you back with me. I missed you, you know."

"I missed you too, Blake." I suck up every bit of courage that I have. "I still do."


"I thought these sessions were through."

Blake glances up from the vis display, brows knotted in review of something.

"Sorry, Vila, I've been a bit busy lately. I've a lot to catch up on." He narrows his gaze. "I wasn't planning on being shot and it seems that much of what I would have accomplished in the last two months is rather backed up."

"Well, as you don't have time…" I turn to leave Blake's office, which isn't difficult as I never ventured further than a step inside the door.

"Sit down, Vila."

There's no objecting when he uses that tone of voice. I sit. I fidget.

Blake stands and walks around the front of his desk. He leans against the corner of the desk and fixes his eye on me. Compelling eyes he has, always did, and he knows how to use them. The scar just makes it even more compelling.

"Vila, you know that Tarrant, Dayna, and Soolin have begun working within my group. I want you with me as well. It would mean a great deal to me. We're the only ones left of the original crew, you know. Tell me what I need to do to have you with me."

Oh God, I can't continue on. These last eight weeks have been awful. Nothing to do but sit in my room and think about everything that went wrong over the last four years. The only ones from the original crew; I suppose that's true enough or it will be soon.

Can't blame the others for staying of course. Tarrant was all twitchy being grounded so long and Dayna was practically building bombs out of bathroom supplies. Just kids really, need an outlet for all that energy and Blake is giving them one. Of course he fascinates them, he's still compelling. I suppose it's best that they don't know what he was like before. Soolin, well I don't know. I think she's biding her time; she'll stay just as long as she wants and no more.

"There's nothing for me here, Blake. You don't need locks picked or things nicked. I'd rather go where I can be free to ply my trade."

"Vila, I do very much need you. No, not on this base, but on raids, the type we did in the past that I couldn't have done without you."

Or without Orac, or Avon, but you'll manage without them now, won't you.

"As you said, Blake, that's in the past. I've done my part."

"Are you sure?" Blake turns up that gaze a few degrees. "Is that it, Vila, or is it still Avon?"

"For Avon? Why would I do that? Don't credit me with doing this for Avon. Not that what I do makes a difference anyway. I hear you scheduled it for next week. Who's going to pull the trigger? You?"

Blake inhales as he stands and paces away, returning behind the desk. "I haven't decided that yet. Don't think that this has been an easy decision."

"No," I whisper, partly to myself, partly to Blake. "It shouldn't be easy to kill the man who spent years trying to find you, should it."

"Yes, well so did Travis. Is that why you won't stay?"

"Travis hated you, Blake. Avon never hated you. Far from it." If I close my eyes, this won't be happening. "How will you do it?"

With my eyes closed I can imagine a tremor running across Blake's face. It probably only exists in my imagination; this Blake won't feel the pain.

"In the tracking gallery, just as he shot me. Three shots, same gun. It was the recommendation of the trial judges."

No, I definitely won't stay. These aren't my kind of people. Give me the basic honesty and values of the criminal class rather than these fanatics who kill more easily and for less reason. It was different before; I was among friends and we looked out for each other, or at least that was what I believed. Gan was the luckiest really; he died before he could see what we'd become. Poor Cally saw the slide, the loss of purpose, but at least she didn't see what happened when we hit rock bottom. Gauda Prime; rock bottom for Blake's crew, at least the original crew.

"So then you'll kill him is what you're saying, isn't it?" I keep my eyes shut, as if that way I won't have to see who Blake has become. "I suppose you'll have witnesses there, just as the Federation does at their executions. I'd like to be there, if you don't mind."

I do? Where the hell did that come from? Blake doesn't respond so I keep my eyes shuttered. I can't see out and he can't see in this way.

"I don't think that's a good idea, Vila."

The hell with him. I open my eyes and give him an Avon glare. So what if it's ruined by the tears that slide down my face.

"I was the one who introduced you to Avon on The London. I have the right to be there, damn you."


The tracking gallery really isn't anymore. Well, they don't use it for that purpose. For all intents, it has been abandoned. Thank God they cleaned it though; I couldn't stand it if it was still covered in blood. Why am I here? Why did I insist when Blake told me that it was a bad idea? Avon, I owe it to Avon. The hell I do! He tried to kill me over Malodaar. I don't owe him a damn thing.

Maybe it's that then. He's going to die and I survived. This is my revenge for Malodaar. I don't want this, if that's what it is. No, it's not. This is between Avon and Blake. It was always about them all along, wasn't it? The rest of us were secondary, are secondary.

I don't like the place; it's as if I'm in a tomb. There are ghosts here, I feel their breath on my neck. I want this over and I don't want it to happen at all.

Oh God, what have they been doing to you, Avon?

Avon's escorted/pushed through the door. Staggering slightly, his face twists in an ironic grin as he realises his location. Two months and a loss of at least 10 kg hasn't rid Avon of his attitude. He glances around the room proprietarily and his eyes widen when he sees me.

"Vila." Avon's voice is ragged. His one word is both salutation and answer to a private question. He raises an eyebrow. "The others?"

Didn't they tell him anything?

"They're fine, Avon. Tarrant, Dayna, and Soolin are staying with Blake."

Avon nods again, though his eyes are less clear. I can never figure out what Avon's thinking when he shuts down like that.

"You're not."

The way he says it is both question and statement. He doesn't understand, or maybe he does and is just checking.

"I can't."

Avon nods again, with another distant look in his eyes, and then tries a smile, as close as he's come to a real smile in years, but it's too sad to qualify as one in my books.

"I'm sorry, Vila. I hope things look up for you."

Blake enters the room, with his coterie. The only time I see him alone was in the medical unit or in his office. Are they his bodyguard? Is it that he can't stand to be alone with himself or that they can't stand to be far from him?

Blake's staring at Avon, who returns his stare fully. I wonder if Blake has even seen Avon since…since that last time here. Probably not. What is it that they want from each other? The room's tensely silent. These men, so powerful alone, practically double in energy when they're together. Everyone else seems duller; less distinctive compared to Blake and Avon.

Avon's eyes look hungry, but he winces. Pain, or maybe rejection. Then again, maybe it is physical pain. He looks as if they haven't fed him; I doubt Blake's people are treating him lightly. He's probably bruised and battered under that jumpsuit. Still, it's not like Avon to show pain. He'll keep standing out of arrogance alone if he thinks it's necessary.

Blake, now he's the more interesting of the two. I watch his face like it's a vid player. Maybe Avon dealt with his demons but it seems Blake is seeing all of them at once in Avon's face, old friend, new foe. Blake's eyes seem full of all emotions, every emotion vying for space on his face. Love, hate, bitterness, betrayal, forgiveness, anger, compassion. Please let forgiveness win, or compassion. Remember that you loved him once, probably still do. No, I realise suddenly, Blake knows that already and that's why he won't back down.

"Tarrant didn't understand," Blake whispers.

Avon face twitches as if he understands, and he shifts his weight.

"I was waiting for you, Avon."

Blake, please don't do this.

"I set this up," Blake says ominously.

"Get on with it, Blake," Avon snaps.

"Oh no, Avon," Blake snarls, "you don't call the shots anymore. This is my base, my show."

"Always the exhibitionist."

"I waited for you, Avon. I loved you and trusted you…" Blake paces until he stands only a metre from Avon. "And you shot me."

Avon's face is tilted slightly upward; his eyes watch Blake's steadily.

"Blake, please don't do this," I hear myself whisper.

I'm watching their faces and don't see who passes the gun to Blake. I see Blake's eyes flicker slightly; he swallows and clenches his jaw as the roar of the gun fills the room.

Avon's head jerks backward, his neck arches, then he steps forward, staggers really, and then another step to the left before his knees buckle. I watch Blake drop the gun and catch Avon as he falls. Maybe it's the tears but suddenly I'm seeing Avon catching Blake, after that third shot. Avon with the tormented eyes wearing an expression of horrified remorse. I had never seen Blake's face, not then.

I blink hard and come back but I can still only see Avon's face, only now it's colourless and very still. Blake's on his knees, cradling Avon's body against him. One shot. The first shot didn't even knock Blake to his knees, but Blake was a bigger man, healthy and strong when it happened. Avon wasn't that much smaller then, but now he's gaunt.

Blake's crying, goddamn him. He's holding Avon as if he's just lost his best friend, which probably he has.

I can't look at Blake anymore so I look at his crowd of followers. They seem confused, diminished. I suppose they were prepared to celebrate, to regard this as the execution of a traitor to their cause. It's Cause, you fools, spelled with a capital C because it consumes you and everything you ever loved or might ever love.

Blake's sobs are heartrending, or might be if he wasn't the one that just killed Avon. One shot. No time for regrets or to rethink what he had done. Did Blake think he had until the third shot to change his mind, to let forgiveness win?

I walk forward slowly, angrily. I've been caught in their power games for the last four years. Now it's over. They've destroyed each other but I'm getting out.

I kneel next to Blake; I won't look at him. Blake is cradling Avon's head against his own heart. Still ignoring Blake, I touch Avon's face. His skin is rough and cool. I let my hand drift down to the pulse point under Avon's left jaw and I wait until I'm sure. Then I close his eyes.

"I took care of the others, Avon. I know it's what you would have wanted."

I stand and start to step away but Blake's hand grabs my wrist in a fierce grasp.

"I loved him. I wanted him with me."

You poor bastard, you'll have him with you for the rest of your life now, won't you? I'm glad I won't be here to watch you deteriorate as I watched Avon.

I shake his hand off roughly and pull away, then push through Blake's little band of rebels. What a pathetic bunch he's assembled: no one to compare to Jenna, Cally, or Avon in this group. I stayed with Avon until the end and I made sure the others were all right. It's time for me to begin the rest of my life. Oh, I might get lonely, but then again, Avon always thought Orac was good company. I'll dig him up and see if Avon was right.