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By Helen Parkinson
Page 2 of 5

Vamesh looked up from pulling the sheet over Avon's sleeping form. Avon's clothes lay in a heap on the floor. Blake hadn't noticed Vamesh strip him. "You are not of this world." Vamesh smiled. "That is obvious. Where are you from?"

"Earth,originally." Blake told him, somewhat chagrined he had not been paying attention and left Avon in this man's care.

"I too come from Earth." Vamesh told him. "long ago. I have based the appearance of my home on houses built on Earth in the Old Calendar."

"It's beautiful." Blake agreed.

"Come let us go down. I offer you hospitality then do not feed you, disgraceful..."

"But...." Blake looked at Avon.

"He will sleep for hours now." Vamesh assured Blake. "Don't worry Sando will check on him. Come, you too must keep up your strength and I would love to hear why you came to this world." He pulled Blake out of the door.

The two men entered a different room when they came down stairs, Blake was still reluctant to leave Avon but his host's hold was not to be easily broken. The room was in keeping with the house, but was no library. It was dominated by a wooden table and chairs, a fire burned fiercely adding its light to that of the candles. Vamesh motioned Blake to one of the chairs then sat opposite him and rang a small bell.

"May I ask why you use candles for light?"

"They suit my home, and I prefer their light to that of electrics." Vamesh replied. Sando had entered while his master was speaking. He put a plate on the table in front of Blake then offered the rebel a choice of food from a number of china dishes. Blake hesitated. "Please my friend eat what you wish." Vamesh encouraged. Blake started to fill his plate, then, noticing Vamesh had nothing save a glass of wine paused. Vamesh noticed. "I eat very little my friend. I cannot manage such rich foods, but I like to please my guests."

Blake began to eat and found the food very much to his taste. Meat and vegetables such as he had never seen on Earth, and the wine, Vila would probably be prepared to kill for some of it. Thoughts of the thief reminded Blake how much danger he and Avon were in. Avon's bracelet was useless and Liberator not due back for another twenty four hours. Even then the teleport might not function, something in the atmosphere of this world interfered with it's function, making accurate coordinates difficult to set up. They were, to put in bluntly, in a mess,.

"why did you leave Earth?" Vamesh asked, breaking into Blake's thoughts. "The Federation perhaps?" His slim, long fingered hands were wrapped around the wine glass and he rubbed it's rim across his lower lip. The dark eyes were fixed on Blake's face.

Blake hesitated. There was no real Federation presence here, yet it was always possible that Federation sympathies existed. Or just people who would like the money his capture, and Avon's, would bring. However Vamesh didn't strike him as an opportunist and he found he already half trusted the man. "I did not..." Blake said slowly considering the words carefully, "see eye to eye with the authorities."

Vamesh smiled. "My complaint exactly. I chose to come here because it is so like Earth and I made it my home. You however...?"

"Visiting. We came to meet someone who failed to appear. "Blake's tone was bitter.

"You have a ship? A crew?" Vamesh asked, then he glanced at the large clock that stood behind Blake. "Forgive me!" He exclaimed leaping to his feet. Blake had picked up a piece of fruit and was cutting it into slices with a small knife. As Vamesh came to his feet Blake jumped and the knife slipped cutting deeply into his thumb.

"Damn!" Blake swore and dropped both knife and fruit. Vamesh was suddenly at his side. He grabbed Blake's injured hand and took the thumb into his mouth. "AHHH!" Blake exclaimed snatching his hand out of the other's hold. He pressed a napkin to the cut to stem the flow of blood. Vamesh was looking at him his eyes gleaming and slightly hooded, Blake's blood still stained his lower lip. As Blake watched, both fascinated and repulsed, Vamesh licked at the blood and smiled. Abruptly Blake felt quite sick.

"You would like to sleep now?" Vamesh asked as Sando came back into the room. He seemed totally unaware of Blake's revulsion with his behaviour. "Please show our guest to his room." He told the servant.

"Don't worry about me." Blake told them. "I'll stay with Avon...I don't want him left alone."

"He will be watched. Your room is next to his." Vamesh said curtly as if he had finally noticed Blake's reaction. "I have to leave. I shall see you tomorrow." He left the room.

Blake found he was trembling, his thumb stung and the idea that Vamesh would take it into his mouth sickened him. He could still feel the cold damp interior of the other man's mouth, the icy touch of his lips. Blake shivered.

Sando waited, expressionlessly. "I will show you to your room." He said and it sounded like an order.

At Avon's door Blake stopped, "I'll stay with Avon." He insisted. "He shouldn't be alone."

"Very well Sir. I shall bring some bedding through to you."

"Thank you." Blake replied, glad that Sando hadn't seen fit to argue as his master had. He entered the room. It looked much as it had when he had last been there except for the glass and water jug on the table beside the bed.

Avon, still sleeping, was pale and too cold to Blake's cautious touch but evidently not deeply asleep for he opened his eyes. "Blake?" A question, he evidently couldn't make out who was bending over him in the dim half light of the candles.

"Yes." Blake glanced to the side table and found the glass of water, "Would you like a drink?" Avon nodded and Blake slipped an arm under his shoulders lifting the other man slightly while he held the glass to his lips. Avon drank greedily, relaxing finally in Blake's hold, his breathing evened out and he drifted to sleep again.

"Oh good Sir, you got him to drink it." Sando's voice. The servant had entered the room almost soundlessly with an arm load of blankets.

"It wasn't just water then?" Blake whispered.

"No. A painkiller and sedative. He would not take it from me."

Blake looked down at the sleeping man. Never take anything on trust do you? He thought.....But he just did came the unbidden protest. Blake shrugged the thought off, figuring Avon out was beyond him at the best of times here...... He turned to watch Sando set up a bed in the chair by the fire. "Your master has gone out?" He asked. Sando nodded. Blake walked away from the bed. "I think I can manage." He told Sando. The servant looked at him for a moment,almost as if he didn't understand then nodded and left the room. The man moved like a ghost, no sound attended his passing at all. Blake shivered.

Blake set to work. He moved a chair round so instead of facing the fire he faced Avon, at the same time Taking a blanket from the bed Sando had made up he sat down. Putting one of the pillows behind his head Blake settled back,not to sleep, just to relax his body, he literally ached with exhaustion. His thumb throbbed in time with the beating of his heart and he unwound the napkin to look at the cut. The bleeding had stopped, but dried blood still stained the skin. Without thinking Blake put his thumb in his mouth it in an attempt to clean the cut. Then he froze, remembering Vamesh's mouth. Blake shivered and yanked his thumb out of his mouth sickened anew. Cold all over he climbed out of his makeshift bed and walked over to the table. Using one of the unused bandages left after their attentions to Avon and the water from the jug he cleaned his thumb and wrapped a dry dressing round it. He checked Avon again. The other man did not stir. He was still pale, his hands cold. Blake pulled the blankets closer about Avon then returned to his chair settling to his self imposed vigil.

Blake was worried about Liberator. Although they were not due back for another day he had rather expected them to be early. Taking the vaccine to Avalon had been urgent, but should not have been dangerous, and should not have taken all the time he had allowed for. That was why Blake had been prepared to let them go without Avon and himself. Meeting Darren had been essential, the computer he was supposed to show them was advanced and dangerous to the rebels, but it had all gone wrong.

Gradually Blake drifted to sleep, a restless, fitful sleep. Ready to react should Avon move or Vamesh turn out to have gone looking for their enemies in Lacon City. Blake doubted the strange man was a danger, but Avon's habitual suspicion was catching, or so in seemed.

Someone was bending over him. Slim, cool fingers touched his face. Blake looked up, trying to see who it was, but his body responded only very sluggishly. He could make out no features on the pale face that seemed to hover in the air over him. The figure backed away, turning towards the bed and Avon. The tall, dark shape seemed to become clearer as it drew away from him. It bent over Avon. A sense of urgency invaded Blake as the shape moved and blackness seemed to envelope Avon. Avon moaned.

Blake woke abruptly. It was early morning, sunlight was streaming through a gap in the curtains he was alone in the room, save for Avon's unmoving form. Yet the sense of fear and evil he had noticed in the dream hung in the air. The fire was low, the air chilled, perhaps that explained it. Blake got up, stiff from his night in the chair and opened the curtains. The morning was fresh and clear a slight mist drifted low in the air and frost dusted the grass with silver. It was a beautiful day. As the light hit the figure on the bed it stirred and Blake thought he heard his name called. With surprise he realised that it was the same soft call that had awakened him from his dream.

Avon's skin was waxy and felt cold to Blake's fingers, his pale lips bloodless. Blake felt a chill of fear. Was Avon still bleeding? He had been sure his ministrations of the night before had stopped it. Blake pulled the blankets down slightly to check, Avon shivered in the cold air and Blake noticed a little blood on the other's throat. It appeared Avon had scratched himself as he slept. There was no new blood on the bandaging.

"Blake?" Avon's voice was very soft.

"Here Avon." He replied shifting his gaze from the injured shoulder to Avon's face.

"Where are we?"

"Don't you remember? Vamesh's house. We found it last night."


"Yes, I don't think you met him properly. No doubt he'll be about today."


"They're due in about fourteen hours." Blake replied. Avon closed his eyes and turned slightly. He cried out in pain as the movement put pressure on his broken shoulder. Blake caught him as he rolled back, curling slightly in a protective reflex. Avon was shivering with pain.

"Be still." Blake advised. He held Avon gently until the trembling stopped and Avon regained control of his breathing.

Finally Avon opened his eyes. "Remind me not to do that again." He said ruefully. Blake smiled slightly in relief at his tone, but before he could reply a soft knock sounded at the door and Sando entered. From the look on Avon's face it was clear he did not remember the tall servant from the night before. Possibly for the best, Blake conceded, considering the way Sando had carried him in.

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