Kerr Avon/Roj BlakeRating:
After the awkward end to his brief liaison with Avon, Blake tries to put the whole thing out of his mind. Avon doesn't make it all that easy.
Sequel to Odd One OutNotes:
It's split into sections for ease of reading. The length is entirely the characters' fault.1.Morning After
There were responsibilities attached to being in command. Blake had seldom felt them as acutely as when he made his way to the laboratory that morning.
The room was lit only by the green glow from a screen at the far end of the bench. It was tempting to do this in the half darkness where he needn't feel so exposed but it wouldn't have been right; he reached for the light switch.
"Turn that off. I can't see any contrast at all."
"This will only take a minute." As he closed the door behind him Avon had turned to face him. He looked tired and bad tempered, Blake thought, but that wasn't so unusual.
He'd rehearsed what he was going to say but he still stumbled a little. " I - when I spoke hastily last night... it would be immature and unproductive to allow our relationship - our working relationship - to be affected by a trivial quarrel."
He'd not been sure whether to say trivial and when he did it sounded wrong. It probably didn't make any difference. The emotion had gone from Avon's face.
"Agreed," he said, turning back to the screen. "Turn off the lights as you go."
Blake contemplated the back of the man's head. He'd had more to say but Avon clearly didn't want to talk about it right now. Maybe there would be another occasion.2. All in his Mind
In the next few weeks another occasion didn't occur. True to his word, Avon acted as if nothing had happened between them. He was as critical and dark humoured as ever. Blake had rather more trouble putting the incident out of his mind. At odd times Avon would say something or even just walk across the room in that stiff legged way of his and Blake would recall the tiny noises Avon had made during sex, the strength in his hands, the alert, amused look in his eyes that night. Each time he'd been tempted, momentarily at least, to do or say something, just to let Avon know that he remembered. And then, inevitably, he'd hear again the scorn in Avon's voice when he'd said "We're done." and he'd know that the thing was dead beyond resurrection.
Blake had gone off sleeping alone, but after a while Jenna had made it clear that his welcome was wearing thin and, remembering what Avon had thought about the way he took his people for granted, he resolved to give the whole thing up and stay as celibate as the other man seemed to manage so effortlessly. For supposed celibacy it involved rather a lot of sexual activity, but he didn't think that counted if the other party was several rooms away and entirely oblivious of his pivotal role in Blake's solitary exertions.
It was about three weeks into this latest resolution that someone knocked on his door shortly before he usually went to bed. Avon, he thought without reason, heartbeat quickening and glanced into the mirror before opening by the door. But it was Cally, looking worried. He'd thought she'd been pale and quiet for a while now but she'd refused any explanation.
"Can I talk to you? "
"Of course." He gestured her to a chair. "Is there something wrong?"
"I'm not sure how to say this." she told him. "I really don't want to pry at all, but... " He could see her taking a deep breath. "Do you know that you're in love with Avon? "
" No." There was a cold feeling deep down in his gut. She was wrong. She had to be. "There's nothing - there was something but it's over - it was never really a thing at all." And accusingly, "You always said you don't read our minds!"
"I don't." She folded her hands in her lap, defensive. "I can't, not like that. But the way you feel about him - it's like artillery fire, Blake. It's so loud that I can't keep it out of my head. "
Damn." I suppose Avon doesn't ...?" he said without much hope.
She shook her head slightly. "Avon's emotions don't leak. I'd have to look deliberately and even if I could I wouldn't. It doesn't take a telepath to see that he's not happy, but then I don't think he ever has been."
"So why come and tell me at all? What am I meant to do? "
" I came to tell you because it hurts and it's exhausting." She sighed. "I'm sorry, Blake. I know how hard this must be for you, and I don't know what you can do about Avon, but if you don't find some way to deal with all this emotion... it's too much for any telepath to stand, day in, day out."
She was paler than ever as she looked at him. "I have to go now," and she was nearly running down the corridor away from his room.
Blake spent a couple of hours alone being furious at Cally, but he couldn't keep that up forever. She couldn't help being what she was. He imagined that she must have been in extreme distress to come to him like that and that his reaction must have made things worse.
He had responsibilities. She was wrong about how he felt about Avon: this wasn't anything like love, just a temporary obsession, but he'd clearly been indulging fantasy and memory too much and it was bad for Cally and him and probably the rest of Liberator as well. It was long past time to put the whole episode behind him and get on with the mission.
This resolution worked surprisingly well. Whenever Blake started to drift into the wrong sort of thoughts about Avon he reminded himself of Cally's pale face and pulled his mind firmly back into logistics and planning. It seemed to be having the right effect. Cally looked brighter again, started smiling. It had been no more than a crush, as he'd thought, one of those things that could happen when you slept with the wrong person. And it wasn't hard to see now that poor old Avon had been very much the wrong person, emotionally stunted and inflexible with obvious hang ups about the more physical side of sex.3. Kiss On Calypso
Blake stopped to catch his breath. They seem to have shaken their pursuers at last, and they were out from under the metallic layer in the rock that had been blocking communication with the ship.
"I'll call in for teleport." He lifted his wrist.
"Not yet." Avon's hand clamped over the bracelet. "One minute ."
"For what? "
"You might not have noticed but I was nearly shot back there, and we're coming away empty handed, again."
It hadn't been a success by anyone's standards. "We were unlucky. "
"No. You were stupid. This is the third time in a row that you've overridden my expert assessment and the third time that things have gone wrong as a result. I want to know what you think you're doing and I want it to stop now before any of us get killed."
Another lecture from Avon? Blake's temper snapped. "As if you care what happens to any of the rest of us! Do you want to know why I don't trust your 'expert' judgement, Avon? Because it's self serving and unreliable, like you. "
" Ah." Avon said, letting go of the bracelet. " You're still sulking about our trivial quarrel, then. "
"I am not... " Blake got no further because Avon kissed him.
Everything was something of a blur after that. He was kissing back, certainly, one hand clenched in Avon’s hair, the other burying deep under the man’s jacket, and Avon was pulling him close to kiss him harder. At some point Avon pulled his mouth away just long enough to murmur something. Blake only realised what it must have been when Avon pushed him lightly backward, tugged his head free and stepped off the teleport deck, sliding his bracelet off and dropping it into an empty slot as he walked out.
All three of the others were staring at Blake. He forced down the impulse to go straight after the bastard; there was still a situation to handle.
"Did you get any?" Jenna asked.
"Otherwise occupied, perhaps?" That was Vila.
"Stations," he snapped at them. "There's three Federation pursuit ships coming around that moon any moment now. We need to get out of here. "
Avon was already on the flight deck talking urgently to Zen. "Degas," he said as Blake came up to him. “It's the only other rational prospect, but we have to move fast. Someone in the Federation must have figured out by now what all these raids are after. I've put in a course and we’re past the range of pursuit.. Unless you think I'm being self serving and unreliable, of course."
"What I think about you right now doesn't bear repeating," Blake said through gritted teeth. "But Degas it will have to be. Time to arrival?"
"Good. The rest of you get some food and sleep. Kerr Avon, I'd like to speak to you in my quarters, please."
"I am also hungry and tired. Whatever you have to say will have to wait until later. "
"No," Blake said. "Now." He stalked off towards his room without looking back.
Avon followed him, as he'd known the man would. "We're going to get ourselves a reputation at this rate. Or was that the idea?"
Blake turned on him, furious. "What the hell did you think you were doing back there?"
"Testing a theory. "Avon slid into a chair. "Do you have any food in here?"
"You deliberately set me up in a compromising position! "
" It would have been easily avoided if you'd been paying attention. You weren't. Don't you find that interesting? "
"Just tell me why you did it!"
"Do I really have to explain?" A sigh. "Despite your noble words it has become clear that our 'working relationship' has in fact been impaired by your reaction to our brief liaison. Either your feelings had been hurt to a rather unlikely degree or your problems were of a rather different kind. Since I didn't know which I put the matter to a test."
Anger surged stronger. "You are utterly despicable, Avon. It didn't occur to you to talk to me about any of this rather than playing your games?"
Avon shrugged. "I doubted that you'd know what you felt. Your capacity for self delusion is remarkable." He gave Blake a brief, cool smile. "We both know now though, don't we?"
Blake couldn't stand the sight of him any longer. "Get out!"
Avon nodded as if Blake's temper had confirmed something. "You will stop overriding my assessments?"
"Just get out! "
4. Covert Surveillance
Blake paced up and down for hours, too agitated to rest. It was like ... It was like when he'd found out that his memories weren't real, only this time it was the feel of Avon's mouth on his, the warmth of his body as he pulled Blake close that was nothing but lies and manipulation. Never mind dumping the man at the next planetfall, this time Blake was angry enough to throw him out of the airlock.
He couldn't do either. The Liberator needed Avon; the last few days had proved as much. What Blake could do - he honestly didn't know. He was no wiser when the long hours had passed and they were all back on the flight deck watching the tiny asteroid of Degas turn slowly beneath them on the scanners, the lights of the mining complex showing across nearly half its surface.
Degas was rich in the rare element candite. They had no use for that, but the catalyst used to extract it from the rest of the metallic mix also acted as a catalyst for part of Liberator’s drive system, half of which had been evaporated in a stray meteor strike. Only a handful of accessible places in this part of the galaxy held any significant supplies and they’d failed to liberate any from three of those already.
"Put me down just inside the perimeter. I'll report on the hour. "
"You're not going." Avon said. "I am."
"Don't be ridiculous," Blake snapped.
"Zen. How many hours did Blake spend asleep in the last ten hour period?"
"Zero hours and zero minutes." Zen's dispassionate voice replied.
"And how long did I sleep for in the same period? "
"Seven hours and eighteen minutes."
"We were up for nearly twenty six hours straight on Caligula, Blake. That makes thirty six hours without sleep for you. I'm rested and clear headed." He glanced around at the others. " Shall we put it to the vote?"
"No," Blake's voice was harsh. "I'm fine. I can do this. Avon does not make command decisions on this ship. I do." Avon had just told them all that he wasn't sleeping. The man had probably even told them why; he'd seemed eager enough to make a spectacle of both of them yesterday. Blake was not going let Avon scheme to undermine him.
"Why don't you both go?" Jenna suggested. Her tone was that of sometime merely making a practical suggestion but Blake didn't like the worried way she was looking at him.
"I don't need him." That came out louder than he'd intended. He tried to moderate his tone. "I'm not tired. I've been resting."
"Really?" Avon said, sceptically. "Zen, how much... "
"Stop that now! Zen, no information about the activities of crew members in their quarters is to be released to anyone unless it is a medical or other life threatening emergency. This command cannot be countermanded. Confirm."
Avon's mouth twisted in amusement. "Now you sound as if you've something to hide. Take someone else, by all means, if you find my company that uncongenial. Just don't go alone in your current state."
Blake glared at him. That about turn had been a little too fast. Did Avon really want to be left on Liberator? What would he say to the others while Blake was absent?
"You can come. Just don't talk to me. "
"You're in luck. I'm not feeling particularly chatty today. "
Neither of them said anything but the bare minimum until they had broken into the crew’s quarters and were waiting for their target to come off shift. There wasn't much room in the space beside the bed. It involved far too much close proximity but at least it meant that Blake could demand an answer to the question that had been burning in his brain for the last couple of hours.
“How long have you been using Zen to spy on me?”
Avon snorted. “Don't flatter yourself that you’re special. Zen is programmed to report to me if any human activity on Liberator exceeds certain parameters. Acute insomnia during designated sleep periods is one of the triggers.”
Report to Avon? On what they did in private? “What are the others?”
“Increased drink or drug use. Significant change in sexual activity. Restlessness. Talking aloud when there's no one there. Religious observance. I would have added political fanaticism but that’s almost compulsory on this ship, it seems.”
“What the hell does any of that have to do with you?” What did significant change in sexual activity mean? It had never occurred to Blake before that Zen might be observing and cataloguing his late night fantasies. He didn't know whether to feel more angry or sick.
“My life is frequently dependent on everyone on this ship carrying out their tasks efficiently. If anyone's going crazy I want to know about it at soon as possible. The significance level required is high enough to exclude 99.5% of normal human variation in behaviour; I don't want to be bothered with everyone's trivia. Normally weeks go by without Zen reporting anything and what there is has obvious and relatively harmless explanations.”
He looked straight at Blake. “But recently I've been getting a lot of reports and they're all headed Roj Blake.”
“I am not going insane!”
“Possibly not, but you are dangerously distracted. Here she comes.”5. A Long Wait On Degas
Blake stepped out in front of the woman, opened his mouth and realised that his mind was still on the argument and he’d forgotten her name. He stood for a second, helpless.
“Jaye Bight.” Avon said from beside him. “We have a proposition for you.”
Fourth time lucky, it appeared. Their information was reliable; Jaye would let them into the catalyst store in exchange for a hefty bribe. She hustled them into a chilly disused dormitory to wait the eight hours until she went back on shift. Avon wasn’t happy about that.
“Another eight hours in orbit increases the chances of a ship coming in or out that might spot the Liberator. We're not in a star system; there's nowhere to hide out there.”
“So we send the ship away for a few hours. It can come back and pick us up later.”
“That means that we’re stuck down here if something goes wrong.”
Blake shrugged. He wasn't inclined to pay regard to anything Kerr Avon said right now. “If you’re worried, wait on the ship. The only thing that would please me more would be if you were to vanish altogether. "
“You’re the one who should go back. Get some sleep. You nearly screwed up the initial contact, you’re so tired.”
“No,” he said, definitely. “I’m staying down here.”
“Very well. Stay here, don’t do anything. I’ll be no more than ten minutes.” Avon called for a teleport and vanished.
Blake sat down on one of the bare beds. He felt absolutely exhausted. Eight hours to wait. Eight hours with that spying, cheating bastard... This really was hell, but what else could he have done?
Avon reappeared in considerably less than ten minutes, his arms full of blankets. He tossed them all on the bed next to Blake. “Get under that and get some sleep. I’ll keep watch.” He raised a hand as Blake started to protest. “There is no sane reason for you not to amend your sleep deficit unless you are deliberately sabotaging your judgement and this mission, in which case I take you back to the Liberator by force if necessary.”
Blake wasn’t impressed by the threat, but he really was tired, and he really didn’t want to have Avon’s company all day. “Anything at all happens, you wake me. Anything."
“Of course. I’m sending the ship away now.”
Blake nodded and curled up under the warm blankets. Within seconds he was drifting off to sleep.
He woke in a panic to a tumultuous noise. There was a hand gripping his shoulder reassuringly.
“It’s just an ore freighter leaving. Go back to sleep.”
He fell straight back again without properly opening his eyes.
When he woke again it was to the now familiar thumping background noises of the mining operation. He opened his eyes to see Avon, sitting slightly hunched on the next bed, watching the door with the gun in his lap.
“What time is it?”
“Hour and forty six minutes to go. You can go back to sleep again.”
“No,” he sat up. “I’m awake now.” And feeling much better. The memory of yesterday’s quarrel, and the kiss, flooded back. He must have been badly sleep deprived, to make that much of a muck up of things. Mind you, Avon’s little monitoring operation had not been acceptable and he ought to make that clear.
Avon didn’t turn around. “I’ve decided to take a short leave of absence from the Liberator.”6. Several Reasons
“What?” Avon leaving Liberator made no sense at all. “Where would you go?”
“I can think of at least one place where I would be reasonably safe for a few months, and where I can get some serious work done. I need to contact some people but that will only take a few days, then I’ll be gone.”
“But we need you!”
Avon snorted. “No-one is irreplaceable. You’ll just have to be more careful than usual until I get back. Talk to Orac more.”
Blake got on his feet. “Is this about yesterday? Because I was very tired and you caught me by surprise. I may have reacted more strongly than I intended."
Avon turned, somewhat reluctantly, to look at Blake. “Partly that. Also you talk in your sleep.”
Blake struggled to think straight. Avon couldn’t leave. “Look. We’ve had our differences before and got through. We can live with this. I won’t do anything, I promise you.”
“Believe me, I am quite capable of dealing with an unwanted suitor, even you, Blake. If this were simply a matter of your feelings then it wouldn’t be my problem.”
“So what's your problem?”
Avon ran a hand through his hair, oddly awkward. “You are a reasonably moral man, Roj Blake. I imagine that if you think your advances won't be welcome you'll resist the temptation to kiss me in future.”
“Yes, of course." He would have been offended that Avon should even question it, if he'd been capable of anything except shock at the thought of Avon leaving.
“I, on the other hand, am not particularly moral at all, and also know that you would rather welcome being kissed by me. Under those circumstances I calculate that it is extremely likely that I will at some point give into temptation.”
Blake rubbed the last traces of sleep from his eyes. “Did you just say that you want to kiss me?”
“No, I just said that the odds are good that I'm going to do it, if I stay. So I’m leaving.”
Blake wondered if he was still asleep. This was as surreal as dreaming. But Avon had definitely said that he wanted to kiss him. Hadn't he? "So worst case scenario is that you kiss me. I still can't see your problem, Avon."
"That's because you're not as intelligent as I am, and, more significantly, haven't been sitting here thinking about it for six hours with very few other distractions. Trust me, this is not something we should allow to happen."
"I don't trust you, not on this. Have you got a reason?"
"I have several reasons. Many of them aren't particularly flattering to you. Do I really need to go through them?"
Blake couldn’t remember the last time he’d had such a confusing conversation. All he could be certain of was that Avon was attracted to him, or at least had implied so. Avon knew, rather embarrassingly, how he felt. Why the hell they were discussing Avon's 'problems ' instead of ripping each others' clothes off - now that was the baffling thing. And what did "not flattering" mean?
"Just get on with it. "
"For a start it breaks your own rules about exclusive pairs on board Liberator. "
"It wouldn't have to be exclusive," Blake protested.
"Yes," Avon said with some force. "It would."
The implications of that was a shiver across his skin. If Avon looked at him like that once again Blake was going to skip the argument altogether and jump the man. It wouldn't do. He had to give Avon's objections a hearing.
"I've changed the rules before. What else?"
"Some things are rather more difficult to change that your diktat. How many men have you been attracted to, before me?"
None, not really. He'd always considered himself boringly straight. "How the hell does that matter?"
Avon gave him a withering look. "Don't you think it might?"
think I'm not so shallow as to get too hung up about the gender of the person I'm in love with."
Avon froze, staring at him. "Is that what you think this is?"
Damn. He hadn't meant to say anything like that. "Cally said so." He sounded like a fool.
did? When was this? And why?"
"About a month ago, I guess. She said I was being... loud about it."
"Loud I can believe. But telepathy 's a dubious science and Cally is far too polite to tell you outright that her migraines are due to your unsated lust.”
Unsated lust. There was certainly a lot of that, but he was sure now that Cally had been far more right than he'd credited her for. "That's what you think of me? Always the worst possible interpretation, isn't it, Avon?'
Avon turned back towards the door as if the chance of it opening was far more important than the conversation. "It's been my experience that relationships that start in bed usually don't rise above the grossly physical."
Blame was startled enough at that to laugh out loud. "Our relationship didn't start in bed, idiot. It started when you threw in your lot with me back on the London. The bed was just an incident along the way. "
"And in all that time it's been established that we have very different motivations and behaviours. Too different. "
Different didn't matter. "That's not even worth the effort of refuting. Come on, Avon. I make that four arguments and not one of them up to your usual standard. What's the actual reason?" He was beginning to hope this was no more than token resistance, Avon's inevitable perversity before an equally inevitable surrender.
Avon spoke to the door, his words still chilly. "If you absolutely insist."
"Go on. "
"You're going to let me down."
The words came like hammer blows. Blake's breath failed for a second.
"That doesn't matter. "
The room seemed colder than before. "Right now nothing matters to me more. You can't throw that at me without any justification, Avon. When have I let you down? Ever?"
Avon glared at him. "I don't have to justify myself. You're not entitled to anything from me."
"Don't get arrogant at me, Kerr Avon." Blake's voice rose. "I don't have the stomach for it today, not from a supposed bloody genius whose inspired plan for dealing with this consists entirely of running away! You're going to tell me what you meant and you're going to do it now."
"And that's how it always goes. " Avon sounded tired and distant, as if he was losing interest in the whole conversation. "I am who I am, and you are Roj Blake. You won't be satisfied until you've stripped me down to the bone and remade me and you tell yourself that's love. Do you really think I'd agree to make myself so vulnerable to you again?"
Blake stared at him in bewilderment and he sighed. "You don't even know you're doing it, do you? Once. I let you close just once and what happened?"
That sparked his temper again. "I don't fucking know what happened! I thought it was fine, we were good, then you... you had some sort of hissy fit. You never told me what the matter was, if you remember. I don't know what you think I am, but I'm not bloody telepathic."
"The matter? You swore at me, Blake!"
He had done that. He'd apologised for it too. In his defence, Avon had been crouched naked on top of him with his fingers in an extraordinarily compromising place and he'd been just a little bit carried away. He said so.
"I don't like your version of 'carried away'. "
" I gather that. It won't happen again."
"That's one thing that you can't promise." Avon's voice had sharpened. "You just have to throw your weight around - assert your authority, if you prefer. Take control. You can no more stop that than you can stop breathing. I won't be sworn at, I won't be pushed around and I won't be press ganged into your entourage, Roj Blake. And that is why I am not going to stay around long enough to risk kissing you again."
He'd heard accusations like this from Avon countless times. He'd never imagined for one minute that the man really believed them. That it would stop them... "You have me all wrong. I've never wanted control."
"Whether or not you want it is irrelevant. You always take it, Blake." Avon sighed. "There is no point in discussing it further. It is rather a pity that we had to have this conversation at all. I predicted that you'd find my reason for rejecting you insulting. It wasn't intended that way. The ship got back just before you woke."
Avon gathered up the armful of blankets from the bed, commanded "Bring me up,” and disappeared. 7. Drunk and Disorderly
Blake slammed his hand down on the bare bed. Damn the man! When Avon returned...
It was Vila, though, who turned up a few minutes later. "Avon said that he'd handled the difficult bit, and I should help you with the heavy lifting. And remind you that the woman’s name is Jaye, in case you’d forgotten again. I’ve got her payment here.”
“What’s he doing on the ship?”
“I’ve no idea.” Vila tipped his head on one side, looking at Blake. “Are you two going to tell us what’s going on at some point?”
“Nothing. Nothing is going on.” Blake was tempted to get on the communicator, demand Avon’s return, but that wouldn’t change the man’s opinion of him one iota. There had to be a better way.
The pick up went without a hitch, for once, and they were back on Liberator with three boxes of the catalyst.
“Where do we put this stuff?” Vila asked.
“Avon should know. Where is he?”
No-one seemed to know.
“Zen,” Blake called. “Location of Kerr Avon?”
“In his quarters.”
“What’s he doing there?”
“No information about the activities of crew members in their quarters is to be released to anyone unless it is a medical …”
“Right, thank you, Zen.” Blake spoke over the end of his own command. “Put the stuff in the storeroom for the moment, Vila. We’ll sort it out tomorrow. For now we need to find somewhere quiet to hide. Zen, course to deep space, please.
Avon didn’t reappear for supper. Blake claimed that he was still low on sleep and headed off to his own rooms early, via the store room where he picked up a bottle. He had an idea. It wasn’t necessarily a good one, but it was all he could come up with.
Inside his room, he tidied himself up, then sat down in front of the screen. “Zen. Record a private video message for Kerr Avon, to be delivered only on my command.” He sat back a little, trying to look relaxed. “Hello Avon….”
After that he showered and changed into loose black silks, leaving his feet bare. He tipped a little of the strong spirits into his hand and patted it around his face, then took a mouthful and spat it out again into his sink. Finally he mussed up his hair and left, checking the empty corridor before he stepped out. The others were likely to be lounging around the recreation room for another couple of hours.
It took three lots of hammering before Avon opened his door.
“Let me in,” Blake demanded.
“No.” Avon looked bleary eyed as if he’d been sleeping; his feet were bare but he was in the clothes he’d been wearing on Degas. “Do go away. Please.”
“No? You can kiss me in the corridor, then.” Blake grinned at him.
“Are you drunk?” Avon took a sniff. “You reek of alcohol. Pathetic.”
“Come on, kiss me!” Blake lurched towards him and Avon took a step back. “Get off!” Instead of retreating Blake took another lunge, grabbed at his head and planted a large and slightly off the mark kiss on his face. Avon shoved him, hard.
“Yeah. We’re gonna play it rough.” Blake wrapped his arms around Avon’s waist, started to grind up against him. Avon flung him off and his head hit the other side of the corridor with considerable force. He crumpled to the floor, hissing with pain.
Avon was standing over him, cold and furious. “Don’t ever try anything like that again.” He retreated into his room, the door closing behind him.
Blake rubbed the back of his head, still too dizzy to try to stand. He’d fallen badly on one knee and it throbbed. “Zen. Play recorded message to Kerr Avon.”
Then he waited, sitting with his back against the corridor wall.8. With Caveats
It felt like a long wait but he’d known it would. He’d resolved to give it half an hour but it must have been less than half that when Avon opened his door again.
“You had better come in.”
Blake nodded, started to struggle to his feet. Avon didn’t offer a hand, he noticed. He limped inside Avon’s room, collapsed into one of the ridiculously squishy chairs.
“You’re hurt.” Avon’s voice was emotionless
“Bruises.” Blake shrugged. “Given your unarmed combat skills, I think I got off lucky.”
“A degree of self control seemed appropriate, despite the provocation.” He looked down on Blake. “This was one of the most stupid ideas that you’ve ever had, and you’ve had a great number of remarkably stupid ideas.”
“Oh, I don’t know. It had its moments. And my point was valid, wasn’t it?”
Avon shook his head. “You think I should spend more of my time throwing you against walls?”
“I hope not. But that option’s always open.” Blake was serious now. “I can’t think of any way to convince you that I’m not the kind of man you claim I am. Maybe you’re even right about me, to a degree. But I couldn’t control you, even if I wanted to. You’re simply not controllable.”
“Your message said all this. I’m not likely to be persuaded by mere repetition.”
“I’m right though, aren’t I? I might push but that doesn’t mean you have to move.”
Avon didn’t reply directly. “Do you want a glass of water? You still stink of alcohol.”
Their fingers touched briefly around the glass. “Did you enjoy your grope, out there?” Avon gestured to the corridor.
Blake wasn’t letting him assume the moral high ground like that. “Less than you enjoyed yours on Calypso, I imagine. But then you weren’t waiting to be thumped at any moment.”
“There was a possibility that that might happen.” Avon raised an eyebrow at him. “Until you kissed me back.”
“Well, I wasn’t expecting that positive a response tonight. I was pretty sure that all I was in for was pain.” Blake rubbed his knee.
“It was a pointless risk. I could have broken your neck.”
“It wasn’t much of a risk, and it wasn’t pointless. Come on, Avon. It’s very flattering to have it suggested that I’m powerful enough to somehow keep you under my thumb just by sleeping with you but I think you’ll find, if you try it, that the word “no” is all you need to stop me throwing my weight around. Although the ability to kill me with your bare hands is probably a useful backup.”
There. That got a smile, not suppressed quickly enough. He pushed his brief advantage. “I’m not saying we should leap back into bed right now. But if you happened at some time in the future to find yourself kissing me, I don’t think your personal integrity would be instantly compromised. You can probably risk staying on the ship.”
“Really?” Avon sounded as dry as he ever got. “I’m just to wait around now until ‘some time in the future’, am I? After that little performance and having to watch you lounging around my room half dressed, not to mention being argued out of a perfectly good decision to leave?”
Blake took a breath, went with the change of mood. “The wait’s not compulsory, Avon. If you’re desperate…”
Avon closed his eyes in exasperation. “Will you please get out of my chair, Roj Blake?”
Blake took the hand offered, pulled himself up, wincing at his stiff knee.
“Are you up to this?” Avon asked with a flicker of what might have been genuine concern. “Maybe you should rest.”
“And let you talk yourself out of this again? I think not.” He took a step, cursed. “I could do with getting my weight off this knee again pretty soon though.”
“You ought to get the med unit onto that. “
“It will wait. This won't.” He paused, not quite sure whether he was allowed to kiss Avon or not. He didn't want to screw things up now. Best to be on the safe side.
"I would rather like to take you to bed now. With your permission?"
Avon was considering him, serious now. "Yes. With caveats."
"Just name them."
"I'll let you know if we reach one. "Avon stepped forward, pulled him into a fierce kiss. For a few seconds Blake simply closed his eyes and let it happen, but when a hand slipped down to caress his backside through silk he couldn't stay passive longer. He pushed forward, mouth still hot on Avon's, until the other man had his back against the wall next to the door to the sleeping quarters and Blake was up against him, thigh pressing hard against thigh, his knee throbbing complaint.
Blake reached out to slap the button next to the door and it slid open. "Bed."
"It's my room. I do know what's in it."
“So why aren’t we?” He seized Avon’s arm, hustled him, unresisting, inside and they toppled together onto the narrow bed. Avon still had far too many clothes on; Blake rolled on top of him, sat up, straddling his thigh, wincing briefly as the sore knee hit the bed. There was Avon, lying underneath him, eyes bright, unbuckling his own belt.
“Let me do that.” When Avon didn’t immediately lift his hand away Blake seized it, pinned it down to the bed. Avon merely switched hands. Blake repeated the process with the other hand, and there was the man, helpless below him. God, it looked good.
“Too much weight throwing?” he just about had the presence of mind to ask.
“No.” Avon braced his shoulders and heaved upwards, twisting his wrists out of Blake’s grip as he did so. “I’ll be sure to let you know when it is.” His freed hands wrapped around the back of Blake’s neck, tugging him downwards into another kiss.
Clothes. Blake needed to focus. Way too many clothes. He pulled reluctantly away from Avon’s enthusiastic tongue to sit up again, his hands fumbling at the man’s belt. There. And there were the trousers parting around an impressively solid erection. He’d only done this once before but he remembered what had made Avon moan. That- fingers nimble, and yes, Avon moaned again, dragging Blake’s silk shirt over his head, then his own shirt off. They were both wriggling now to shed their trousers, frantic to be naked. That accomplished, for a while they just moved against each other, hands stroking and raking.
There could be few things better than Avon’s hand moving tight around his cock but Blake could think of one or two. “Enough,” he gasped. “I want…I want…”
“I’m sure you do.” Avon’s breathing wasn’t anything like steady but he still managed to sound amused. “What, exactly, do you want?”
“I want a little more space, for a start.” Blake climbed off the bed, ignoring the sharp pain in his knee, and tapped at the console. The bed opened out sideways and Avon fell off.
“All right down there?” Blake enquired.
Avon glared at him, stretched up a hand. Blake grasped it, pulled the other man onto his feet and into his arms. “What I want,” he murmured into Avon’s ear, “is rather obscene. I know how you object to coarse language.”
Avon bit his neck, fairly gently. “Just tell me what, who, where and how.”
“Right.” Blake thought about it for a moment. “Virile member, mine, anal passage, yours. Carefully. Is that clinical enough for you?”
“Clear and to the point. Congratulations.”
Avon bent down to reach under the bed. “And you will definitely need lubricant.”
What he needed right now was the sight of Avon bending over. He reached out towards the bare arse and lurched onto his bad leg.
Avon whipped around to see him falling back onto the bed, hands wrapped around his upper leg. “Fuck, fuck, fuck!”9 A Brief Hiatus, and Afterwards
“Let me see.” Avon ran delicate fingers across the swelling and Blake hissed. “You’re not going to doing anything until this is fixed. Five minutes with the med unit.”
“Don’t be stupid. You think you can kneel on this for more than a few seconds? Or even stand?” Avon raised an eyebrow. “No? Well, then. There are one or two positions that might work but I wouldn’t recommend them to a complete novice in serious pain, and I certainly don’t want to be on the receiving end under those conditions.”
He smiled, briefly. “Don’t look so bereft. It’s a temporary hiatus, no more. I’ll get someone to bring it over.” He opened a link. “Avon to the rec suite. Anyone there?”
That was so much not a good idea. Blake tried to grab the communicator and Avon stepped lightly backwards, out of his reach, grinning.
“Jenna here. What’s the problem?”
“I need the med unit brought over to my quarters, straight away.”
“What’s happened?” She sounded more curious than concerned.
“Blake bruised his knee badly when I threw him against the wall.” Avon said, without any particular intonation.
There was a pause.
“Why can’t you fetch it for him?” That was Vila. Blake cursed under his breath.
“I’m not wandering around Liberator naked. Knock on the door when you get here. Avon out.”
“Did you have to do that?” Blake snarled. “They didn’t have to know anything about us.”
“Why shouldn’t they?” Avon pulled a black linen gown out of his wardrobe, wrapped it around his waist. It might have been technically decent but it didn’t do much to hide his erection. “Ashamed of me already?”
“No.” He thought about it. “No, I suppose not. I didn’t expect you to be an exhibitionist though.”
Avon pulled the gown a little closer. “Hardly that. Just making my position clear.” There was a knock at the door in the other room. “I’ll get that.”
Blake shifted along the bed a little so that he was out of sight of the door. There was a brief exchange that he didn’t catch, then the welcome sound of the outer door closing again.
The med unit hummed comfortingly as Avon moved it gently over Blake’s knee, checking the readout. “Seven minutes.”
“Ok.” A pause. “Going anywhere interesting for your holidays?”
Avon looked up, startled, from his place on the floor then laughed. “This is slightly awkward, I suppose.” He sat back on his haunches. “I had better spare us both the horrors of small talk.”
It was definitely the most leisurely blow job that Blake could remember receiving, not least because Avon broke off every thirty seconds or so to check the med unit. Finally there was a long beep.
“Done.” Avon moved back. “Try it.”
“You don’t need to stop!”
“I thought you had a plan? Stand up.”
Blake shifted to his feet. The pain was gone, although he could feel the slight weakness that the med unit tended to leave behind. “It’s fine.”
“Good.” Avon scooped up the tube of lubricant and tossed it to him. “How do you want me?”
“Desperately?” Blake uncapped the tube. “Try hands and knees on the bed.” He tugged the gown off, smoothed a hand over Avon’s arse and squeezed lubricant along a finger. Avon threw his head back, panting, as Blake pushed it inside. He bent down to nip at the man’s shoulder, finger sliding in and out. “Good?”
Blake took the gasp as a yes. He kept thing slow, fighting his own urgency, until he was finally pushed hard inside and Avon’s gasps were more like moans. By then he’d been aroused and teased too long; it was over far too soon with barely a thought for Avon’s enjoyment. By the time the dizziness had subsided he’d collapsed next to the man.
Blake took the opportunity for a kiss, and then another one, legs entwining with Avon’s. “I owe you an orgasm,” he murmured. “A good one. Name your pleasure.”
“Anything.” That was a dangerous promise to make to Avon but he wasn’t going to back down now.
“I’ll bank that one. You’re hardly up to the physical exertion tonight necessary to keep up with my preferred fantasy.”
Right. That sounded- interesting. “In that case…” Blake slid down the bed, dragged his tongue across Avon’s erection. There was a pleased sounding sigh from the head of the bed, so he kept going until he was pretty sure that Avon was about to come. He wasn’t quite sure why he’d stopped then, except that the strangled noise Avon made was rather gratifying.
Blake pulled himself up to straddle Avon’s thighs. The man lifted his head to glare. “Don’t stop.”
“Just prolonging the experience.”
“I don’t need it prolonged, thank you.” Avon reached down to stroke his own cock and Blake leaned forward to pin both hands to the bed.
“We’ve been here before,” he commented. “Can you do that twisting free thing again?”
Apparently Avon couldn’t, not when Blake was braced to expect it. Interesting. Blake knew he was pushing his luck but it was somehow irresistible. Avon was going to shout at him any time now. Any time now. Any time…
Oh. “Oh, Avon!” he said, amused. Cold eyes glared up at him. “No wonder you’re so sensitive about being pushed around.” Now was really not the time to have this out, though. He released Avon’s wrists. “Lie back. I’ll finish.”
Afterwards Blake hauled himself up to lie next to Avon.
“It’s not a problem.”
“Not for you, no.” Avon sounded bitter.
“Not for either of us. Everything I said before still holds true. I’m not going to take advantage.”
“You are going to take advantage every chance you get, Blake!”
“Only when you want me to. Otherwise you just say no. Come on, Avon. We’ve been through this.” Blake ran his nails gently across Avon’s chest, leaned over to kiss him. “Have a bit of faith in yourself. You can handle me with one hand tied behind your back.”
“What an unhelpful image.” Avon was slowly relaxing back into Blake’s kisses. “You mention this to anyone else and I’ll throw you across another corridor.”
“Now you’re getting the hang of it.” Blake wrapped himself around Avon. ”Lights?”
“Get them yourself.” Avon closed his eyes.
Blake propped himself up to look down on the still face. That was trust, of a sort, he supposed. He’d been rather hoping for a word or two of appreciation, maybe even affection but this was Kerr Avon. It might come eventually.
In the meantime at least it wasn’t going to be hard to ensure that not too much changed on the flight deck. He doubted that Avon would give him any less of a hard time just because they were sleeping together. If Avon had a certain liking for being dominated in bed it certainly wasn’t going to lead to any more acceptance of his leadership in any other way; probably quite the reverse. There were, Blake suspected, plenty of bumpy times ahead.
Right now it didn’t matter. This would do. He reached out for the light switch and curled up against the warmth of the other man in the dark.
Sequel Everywhere In Chains