Vila looked a lot better than when Avon had last seen him in the medical unit at Avalon's base, and in fact a lot better than he had looked for a long time before that mess at Gauda Prime. He was tanned and healthy and had lost that expression of defeat and hopelessness.
He looked wary and sullen though. "What d'you want, Avon?"
Avon shrugged, trying to sound casual. "I was passing by and wanted to see how you were."
"Oh, yes? Several sectors away from base? Don't give me that. You want something from me."
Avon looked away. He picked up a vase on the sideboard and pretended to be interested in the Lindorian design.
"Want something opened? Want some live bait? Or perhaps some shuttle ballast?"
He sounded so bitter, Avon couldn't look at him. "Vila..." He hesitated. "Look, if you're expecting an apology--"
"Not from you, no."
Avon closed his eyes briefly. "Under the same circumstances I would do the same thing again. It was logical. And what good would saying I was sorry do? Words can't change the past."
"No, but they can change the future."
Avon blinked and looked at Vila, seeing the anger and hurt on his face. Once they had been friends, but not since Cally died. He hadn't wanted anyone to get close after that, but it was only now that he realised just how much they had both changed in that year, how he had hardened himself and withdrawn from them all, how Vila had lost all his resilience and humour and hope. "Vila," he said wearily, "I realise I may have caused you pain. If there was anything I could do to change that, I would." An empty gesture. Just words.
Vila stared at him in wonder. "I think you just did," he said. Then he suddenly grinned. "Anyway, I'd never have thrown myself out for you."
A heaviness lifted from Avon and he smiled back.