22. You are a fever I am learning to live with. (Blake's 7, Avon/Vila) @foreignobjecticus
A/N: Not as shippy as I'd hoped but not bad for my first time writing Vila in forever. A bit longer than my standard prompt fill and normally I'd post this to AO3 as a standalone fic, but I'm not quite done with this one yet... need to come back to it.
"So," Vila ventured, glancing around the featureless stone walls of their prison, "what was that stuff they gave us, some kind of truth drug?" His hands roamed over the walls idly, looking for any weak points in the stones or cracks in the mortar.
Avon was doing the same. "Not a drug. A virus."
"A truth virus? That's new."
"New and... v-very fast acting," Avon replied. His hands slipped on the stone; he lost his balance and sat down hard. "I feel sick."
"There's a nice convenient corner to throw up in, if you need it." Vila got a dark glare for his solicitude. He shrugged and sat down, a safe few feet away from Avon, who was looking quite a bit paler than usual. "I guess we just... wait for them to come and question us, then."
"I suppose so. Yes."
They waited. And waited.
"How're you feeling?"
"Like my insides are liquefying, and I'm running a fever. You?"
"Honestly?" said Vila vaguely. "I feel fine. You must be having some weird allergic reaction, because this... this is good stuff. I don't even feel sick. Just... nice and light. Makes me feel all sorts of... confessional. Y'know?"
"No, you moron, I don't," replied Avon through gritted teeth.
"Mm, there's that Alpha arrogance. Y'know, for someone who doesn't have much use for emotions, you sure do enjoy feeling superior."
"That's hardly my fault, when you make superiority so easy for me."
"That's right, just go swanning about the ship, high an' mighty... makes you very easy to fool."
"Oh, not just you. Tarrant, Dayna... Blake... Jenna... but mostly you."
"Why 'mostly' me?"
"Because you're the most fun to bait," Vila replied, with a dreamy smile. "And because you've got the most to hide. The others all wear their histories on their faces. They're all angry but it's all on the surface. But you, you don't even want people to know you're angry, let alone... well, all the other stuff."
Avon swallowed. It was getting warm. "And what about Cally?"
"Oh, I don't need to fool her."
"B'cause she doesn't care, Avon! She's not human, she doesn't need to bother about human social distinctions and grade classifications. I don't really mind when she teases me, because it's always about what I'm doing. Not about what I am."
"And what you are is a Delta-grade service drone turned thief, with very light fingers and a highly developed sense of self-preservation, and not much else."
"You forgot the complete aversion to responsibility."
"Also that," Avon muttered, "yes." His head was beginning to swim.
"You're the same way. You don't like being in charge."
"You're an idiot, Vila."
"Idiots aren't blind, though. And you hate that you've got us all relying on you now." Vila put out a hand to Avon's shoulder, and was both surprised and flustered when Avon didn't shake him off. "Why don't you lie down?"
"It's a stone floor."
"I've got a lap."
"I won't tell. Just don't puke on me."
Avon looked at him with unreadable, feverish eyes, and then capitulated. There was silence for a time. Avon, growing sicker by the minute, shivered uncontrollable. So did Vila, though for a different reason.
"I had a chance once, you know," Vila murmured, stroking Avon's hair. "To rise up through the grade system. Be an Alpha." He wasn't exactly sure why he was stroking Avon's hair, except that it seemed like the sort of thing you did for a sick... whatever Avon was to him. "Had a teacher at the juvenile penal colony who thought I showed promise, tried to get me to go straight. Almost convinced me to accept a spot at the Academy."
"You could've passed that examination easily. You're one of the most intelligent people I've ever met."
Shocked, Vila looked down at the back of Avon's head. "Oh, one of us must be delirious. Either I didn't hear that or you didn't say it."
"We both know you only act brainless to avoid conflict, and so no one takes you quite seriously. You like it when people underestimate you. So... What happened? Was the thought of picking pockets just too great a temptation to withstand?"
"Partly. Mostly I was scared. Juvie colonies are almost preferable to what they put you through at Space Academy. And you ought to know."
"I never went to the Academy," said Avon sleepily. And then he swore.
"What? But your file, all the court records--"
"I know what they say. It's all fake. All forgeries. Everything about my official life before I was twenty... all of it, completely fabricated."
"But... why? What happened when you were a kid? Is Kerr Avon even your real name?"
"Yes, it's my real name. It's the only thing I kept of my former life. The rankest sort of sentiment, I suppose... but practical. I couldn't be sure of my own responses to an alias... and it's not as though anyone remembers what my father was executed for." Avon dragged his sleeve across his sweating face. "I made sure of that," he muttered.
Vila gulped. "What, uh... actually, I'm not sure I want to know what you mean."
"You don't. Not really... God, my head's swimming." Grimacing, Avon curled up into a ball. His head was still on Vila's thigh. "If you're lowborn and clever, you can rise up. But if you're born into privilege and squander it, you get knocked down the ladder, and there's no getting back up. And if you happen to be the son of someone who attracts the wrong sort of attention, you get kicked so far down the food chain that you end up cannibalizing yourself to stay alive."
"That what happened to you?"
Avon didn't answer. In fact, he didn't say another word until well after they were rescued from their mysterious captors, and after the virus had been purged from their immune systems.
When he did speak to Vila again, they were alone in the mess hall; they both had strict orders from Cally to eat and then go to bed. Cally didn't swear, but the "damn it" at the end of her directive was implied. The two men picked unenthusiastically at their plates.
"I trust you."
Vila looked up from his meal. "Hm?"
"I said," Avon repeated, very pointedly not looking up, "I trust you."
"Huh. Well... likewise." Vila smiled. "We keep this up and we just might be able to live together."
the Fandom has been severely lacking in pd/Vestal content if I do say so myself