Now that he wasn't dead, Vila didn't want to go back to his cabin.
Funny thing, that. He hadn't believed he would die when he was dying. Now that he was alive, he kept having to remind himself that he wasn't dying anymore. He had to remind himself that the pills were taking care of the radiation, and soon it’d be gone altogether, but all the same... There was no comfort to be found in his room, where he'd been lying for hours waiting to stop breathing even as he didn't believe he could really die.
Oh well. It wasn't as if he ever claimed to be rational.
Just, it was getting late, and he'd been padding around the corridors so long his legs were cramping. Maybe he could sleep on one of the cots in the rest room, at least for a while.
"Vila." Cally's voice nearly startled him out of his skin, but he grinned when he saw her. The others had scattered after they had their first dose of decontaminants and heard Orac's prediction of their future explosion. Well, aside from Blake, who was still on the flight deck, but he seemed to want to be alone. "I thought I told you to get rest after taking the medicine."
He raised his palms in surrender. "Sorry. Don't hit me again."
Cally rolled her eyes. "Well, I was just looking for you at your cabin. Did you take some of those... energy pills Avon had before you teleported to the planet?"
"Only two," Vila said, his smile drooping. "Why?"
"Good. Two shouldn't hurt anything." She took one of Vila's hands and pressed the decontaminant pill box into his palm. "Avon's in the rest room. He took so many of those idiotic pills that the decontaminants aren't working as well as they should be. He needs another dose and someone to stay up with him."
Vila raised his eyebrows. "Me?"
"It's nearly my watch on the flight deck."
"Well, I'll take that, then. Do you know what Avon's like when he's sick?" Vila shook his head. "He'd rather have you in there coddling him than me."
Cally gave him that look that made Vila wonder if she was a little more telepathic than she was letting on. "Go on. You don't have to coddle him. Just give him his dose and stay in there with him."
This time, she didn't give Vila a chance to argue. She simply walked past him toward the flight deck and left him there with a box of pills in his hand and nothing to do but go give them to Avon.
Though... standing in the corridor, alone yet again, made the idea of spending the night with an irritable Avon not seem so horrible.
He really was losing it, wasn't he?
Vila peeked into the rest room to find Avon lying on a cot with his arm crooked over his eyes. He stood there for a long moment, just watching him. Looked a bit pitiful, all pale and clammy the way he had been when he dragged Vila out of his cabin to teleport down to the surface. Of course he'd make himself worse taking a bunch of pills, just so he could keep functional a while longer. Why did Avon always have to fight so hard? Certainly didn’t make any sense to Vila, but then again, he’d never been much of a fighter.
Avon hadn’t gotten much thanks for it either, even though he'd saved the day and all. Vila knew how that was, although he was sure he didn't understand anything else about the haughty Alpha bastard.
He found himself smiling a little. "Cally sent me in."
Avon didn't move right away, not properly, but Vila saw his muscles tense suddenly at the sound of the unexpected voice. Deliberately, he drew his arm away from his eyes and pushed himself up so that he was sitting straighter in the cot.
"I'd had a feeling she was cross with me." Avon was enunciating too much, probably trying to avoid slurring. "Perhaps more than I anticipated."
"She had better things to do than look after you," Vila said simply, sitting himself down sideways on the cot next to Avon's. He held out the box of decontamination drugs.
Avon snatched the box from him and opened it.
"Just one dose, mind."
"You may go now."
Vila snorted. "That's thanks for you. Anyway, no I can't. Cally told me to stay, keep an eye on you."
"And you always do as you're told."
"More like to do what she tells me than what you do." Vila shrugged. "And I was coming here anyway."
Avon quirked an eyebrow, but didn't say whatever was on his mind. Instead, he put a tablet on his tongue and drank down one of the vials. Even he couldn't keep himself from frowning at the taste and the sensation of the tablet and liquid reacted to each other as they drained down his throat.
"Bit wretched isn't it? Not looking forward to my second dose tomorrow. How many are you going to have to take in the end?"
"Cally expects it will be five total." Avon set the box aside, but he didn't lie back again. Just sat there with his arms crossed looking angry at nothing in particular.
Vila furrowed his brow. "She seemed a bit sure the ones I took didn't cause any trouble."
"You had a good deal fewer. As did Jenna."
"Ah." It was a peculiar feeling. He was feeling well, and Avon was still feeling ill. It was easier to feel sympathetic to him this way, even if he was trying to look as intimidating as usual. "Might all be dead if you hadn't done it, though."
Slowly, Avon turned his head to look directly at Vila.
"I certainly wasn't going anywhere on my own. Jenna and Gan looked happy enough just to sleep until it was over when you called me out. Figure we'd all be dead--Blake and Cally too probably--if you hadn't taken all those pills and put yourself at risk."
"I put myself at risk to save myself," Avon growled through his teeth. "That the rest of you were saved is merely an inconvenient side-effect."
Vila nodded, considering the information. "Right. Except you wouldn't have been in that state if you'd not gone back down to save Jenna. You didn't even argue!" He suppressed a smile when he saw Avon's jaw clench. "Not to mention, you came back to Liberator to save the day when Gan was sick and that surgeon was gonna let him die... No, I figure you saving us isn't a side-effect at all. Seems more like a long term goal, if you lay it all out like that doesn't it? "
Avon's smoldering glare had slowly redirected from the empty space directly in front of him to directly on Vila. If he didn't look so bedraggled, Vila might've even shut up about it to avoid repercussion.
"Kerr Avon I begin to think you're all talk. Just a cuddly toy underneath, eh?"
"If that is the case," Avon spoke deliberately. "You have participated in all of the events you have listed, and various others I had no part in."
"What's your point?"
Avon arched an eyebrow. "Obviously, your cowardice -- and I suspect your ignorance -- are all talk as well. But that it's all talk is simple to understand. Why is the more difficult question."
Now, Vila was unsettled. And quite annoyed that Avon, even half-dead, was able to unsettle him.
On the other hand, he suspected from the way Avon was acting that he had also managed to get under Avon's skin. It was enough of a victory that Vila could hardly be disheartened by this turn of events.
"How about this," Vila said smoothly. "I won't let on you're a hero if you won't let on I am."
Avon's lips gradually curved into a smile. The kind of smile he'd given Vila just before he'd teleported over to XK seventy-two. The only kind of smile Avon gave that didn't make Vila's skin crawl.
It just warmed him inside. A bit more than he'd admit.
"You ought to get some sleep. Cally'll kill me if she pops in and you're still awake," Vila said, turning in the lounge chair and stretching himself out.
"Mm." Avon didn't look away from Vila for a long moment. Slowly, he rested back in his chair and turned his gaze up to the ceiling. "It will be our secret."
"I have to say, not an entirely terrible thing to know someone around here realizes."
Avon breathed a laugh. "It would be you."
"I could say the same!" Vila protested.
"I suppose you could."
Vila looked at him again, his mouth open and ready to argue, but found that Avon's eyes had closed. He watched Avon's chest rise and fall, rise and fall. Just to be sure. He watched for a long time until, eventually, he too slipped into a restful sleep.