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For Nothing

By Vanessa Mullen
Page 2 of 3

      Blake couldn't think of anything to say to her. The Federation had hurt Avon in the worst possible manner and then edited the memory in some way so as to link it with Blake. Blake's faked trial had simply made their task easier. It might even have given them the idea in the first place. The information explained so much about Avon, but it left them no closer to a solution in the present case. Avon was too much of a risk to be let loose. That only left them with the options of restraining him or dumping him. Neither of which was acceptable.

      "Orac, how can we restore Avon's memory?"

      "Normally, a blocked memory can be restored by experiencing events similar to those that have been lost or tampered with. In the present case, this would not be appropriate."

      Blake could well imagine that. Arranging for Avon to be raped again was not only unthinkable, it could easily drive the man totally over the edge.

      "The only alternative," Orac continued dryly, "is to restore Avon's emotional stability before he kills someone."

      You're saying that he knows intellectually that I won't harm him, but he needs to know it on an emotional level as well?"

      "lf you know what I am saying, why waste my time by repeating it?" Orac said acerbically.

      He ignored the computer's irritation. "Just how," he asked cautiously, "do I give Avon emotional security?"

      "Sleep with him for a night, and do nothing," replied Orac, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world.

      Blake winced. Quite apart from the fact that he could think of several thousand things he'd rather do, he could just imagine Avon's reaction to the suggestion. Avon, who valued his privacy almost as highly as his life. Avon, who was going to be furious beyond belief, simply because they knew what had happened to him.

      "Cally, how long before he comes round?"

      She checked the monitor. "About five or ten minutes."

      "I think you'd better leave. The fewer witnesses to this, the happier he'll be."

      "You're going to do it?" she asked in surprise.

      "I don't know yet. If it's the only answer..."

      Blake sat and watched Avon's regular breathing. According to Cally's estimate he should have been awake by now. Blake leaned over and lifted an eyelid. Both eyes promptly opened and Avon glared at him.

      "How long have you been awake?"

      "Long enough to wish you'd go away."

      "Cally did a full medical exam on you; I've seen the results."

      Cold fury was the best way to describe Avon's expression. Blake was suddenly glad for the restraints which Cally had left in position over the bed.

      "It doesn't matter anyway. I'm leaving," Avon said icily. "You can put me off at the next planet you visit."

      "Why?" asked Blake. It wasn't a totally unexpected reaction, but he was curious to hear Avon's reasons.

      The dark brown eyes narrowed slightly. "It is apparent that I shall eventually succeed in killing you if I stay. I doubt that I should be permitted to survive long after that."

      Blake studied him. "Orac has suggested an alternative solution."


      Was there a faint note of hope in Avon's voice? Blake hoped he'd heard it.

      He tried to put Orac's proposal into his own words, and then dried up in the face of the certain knowledge of Avon's reaction.

      Reaching out, Blake released the restraints. "Ask him yourself. I'll see you later."

      He spent the rest of the day avoiding Avon and trying to gain the resolution to act. Avon's decision to leave had forced his hand. It wasn't just that he needed Avon, it was that Avon had been forced into that decision against his will. Blake stretched his shoulders, aware of how stiff and tense he was. If he did as Orac suggested and Avon still wanted to leave, then that was another matter - but surely he had to try and give Avon that chance, no matter what the risk involved was?

      He chewed his knuckle, realised that it was his own hesitation speaking, and forced himself to make a decision. Avon normally turned in about this time in order to be awake for the mid-night watch. Blake made an adjustment to the watch list and headed for Avon's cabin before he could change his mind.

      Blake walked in without knocking, slightly surprised that the door hadn't been locked, then without turning his back to Avon, he reached behind himself to hit the lock panel.

      Avon sprang to his feet from the desk where he'd been sitting, a knife appearing in his hand as if from nowhere. Blake froze, not moving a muscle. If he fought Avon, he was simply going to reinforce the effect of the conditioning. If he offered no threat, Avon should, he hoped desperately, react to that and regain control.

      Avon stalked towards him, knife at the ready, then he slowed, unexpectedly relaxed his grip and handed Blake the knife. "I think you'd better have it," he said candidly, "otherwise any arguments might get a little permanent."

      Blake hesitated a moment, then took the weapon and flung it hard into the ceiling where it stuck, out of easy reach of both of them. "Does that mean that you're willing to attempt what Orac suggested?" he asked.

      "No," Avon said evenly, "it simply mean that I don't want to accidentally kill you while refusing."

      "I think it's necessary," Blake said simply.

      "Give me one good reason why."

      That was a tough one. Avon wasn't going to react well to any suggestion of pity. "I've got an excellent reason," Blake stated. "I want to stay alive." Now he'd thrown the ball in Avon's court and given him the responsibility.

      "All right, Blake," Avon spat the words at him. "I'll play your game, but don't blame me if I strangle you half-way through the night."

      Faced with Avon's hostility, Blake almost backed out, then firming his decision, he made the first move by taking off his jacket.

      Accepting the challenge, Avon removed his tunic top, all the while, keeping his attention on Blake.

      Blake took off his shirt and dropped it on the floor behind him. "Your turn," he said to Avon.

      Avon stood stiff and unmoving, taking in the sight of Blake half dressed. "No," he whispered.

      Blake wasn't sure whether to revel in Avon's sudden weakness or to pity it. "It's only a jumper," he said softly. "It doesn't mean anything."

      Slowly, Avon peeled off the black roll neck and pulled it over his head. His body underneath was pale and white, in sharp contrast to the black of his trousers. In Avon's stillness there was the suggestion of the flawlessness of a marble statue, but the living man breathed unevenly and had a sense of immanent reality to him that no sculptor could ever hope to emulate. Blake found himself curious as to how Avon would look when the rest of him was revealed.

      Blake slid down his trousers, trying to make the action look as normal and unconcerned as possible. He suddenly felt ridiculous, standing there before Avon dressed only in his underpants. "Let's get this over with," he growled.

      Avon reached for the fastening of his own trousers and then stopped. Respecting Avon's unease, Blake turned his back and removed his underpants, waiting a minute or so to give Avon plenty of time. Finally he turned back again.

      Avon stood perfectly still, waiting for him. He was slender, somehow even thinner than Blake had imagined, and curiously defenceless without his black clothes. His body hair was fine and dark and clustered in unexpected curls around his groin.

      Blake felt a sudden ache within himself and cursed mentally. Of all the things he had expected from this night, being attracted to Avon physically was not one of them. It was also the last thing that Avon needed.

      There was a smoothness to Avon's skin, a delicate quality to it that made Blake want to run his hands over the other man's body, caress it, hold it close to himself. If he felt that skin, would it be as soft as it looked, or hard as the man himself? No, hard was the wrong word. Surely Avon would be a gentle lover, the arguments of the day forgotten in the delights of the night? Or would he be passionate, aggressive, seizing Blake's lips and taking whatever he wanted? The image grew stronger in his mind; himself and Avon, wrapped in passionate embrace, seeking the wine of each other's lips. Blake wanted it so badly that he could taste it.

      It was as though Avon had sensed his feelings, the other man's whole attitude abruptly changed. From tense nervousness, he suddenly became aggressive. Coming towards Blake, he reached out for Blake's genitals.

      Blake froze with a sharp intake of breath. His penis moved slightly in Avon's hand, a small imprisoned animal seeking its own desires. Blake willed himself to make no movement. He forced himself to remember that his desire was the fabric of Avon's nightmares.

      "What's the matter?" Avon snarled. "You know what you really want, don't you? What my father always wanted."

      "No," Blake managed to say.

      "What is it? Are you afraid that you'll want to do it; or afraid that you won't be able to?"

      Avon's hand stroked the fine skin on Blake's penis, sending an agonising sweetness through his groin. It was almost too much to bear; the temptation to beg Avon to carry on, to bring him to fullness and then to fulfilment, threatened to overwhelm him. The desire to reach out to his friend in turn, to stroke the nipples that were so enticingly close, to take them with his tongue and to make Avon cry out with pleasure, was achingly strong. Blake's penis was growing and swelling now, with a burgeoning life of its own. If Avon didn't stop now, Blake knew he would never be able to control himself.

      "Avon," he said harshly, deliberately using the phrase Avon had used earlier in the day. "Let go of me."

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