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Avon worked silently on the long-range detectors. There wasn't really
anything wrong with them, they functioned far better than anything the
Federation had, but the delicate work required to fine-tune them
calmed his nerves, allowing some of his tension to
He knew Jenna was watching him. Oh, she was doing a good job of pretending to be absorbed in the flight controls, but Avon knew she could fly the ship with less attention than that. Besides, Zen was currently controlling Liberator's flight. It had been this way ever since their return: constant observation, silent pity. The crew knew. Either Cally had sensed it, or Vila had told them. It hardly mattered, except that their concern increased his unease. Even if they had treated him exactly as before, Avon wouldn't have been able to pretend that nothing had happened. He couldn't pretend to himself that he hadn't been raped, that the man hadn't worn Blake's face, that he hadn't admitted to himself how he felt about Blake.
Jerking his hand back, he swore softly. He'd fused one of the circuits.
Avon glared up at Jenna. But the expression on her face was merely one of mild interest, no unwanted pity. He sighed and looked away.
"No. One of the circuits is damaged. It can easily be replaced."
Laying down his probe, he knelt beside the console, pressing his hand to the compartment latch. The small door clicked open, and he pulled out a tray of circuitry, hunting for the replacement he required. Locating it, he closed the compartment and returned to his work.
He was unable, however, to close off his thoughts as dispassionately as he wished. He had slept well last night, far better than the one before, and Blake's presence was the only possible explanation. It was not a soothing one. Blake had clearly been as damaged as he had by the whole situation. One moment he would be calm and relaxed, the next trying to avoid any possible contact other than the purely verbal between them. And in addition, it was painfully obvious that Blake wanted to be near him. Last night had been most revealing for both of them.
Circuit repaired, Avon rose to his feet, staring at the viewscreen that Jenna had called up, watching the shifting stars. He had wanted Blake to stay. He'd even wanted the kiss, to feel Blake's powerful arms wrapped round him. Or so he'd thought before he found himself trapped in the embrace. Feeling helpless against Blake's strength, he'd pulled away. It had been too reminiscent of Jorge.
Avon shook his head slightly, and drew his gaze away from the star field. His hands were trembling. He pressed them firmly against the console and waited, eyes idly tracing the detector circuits. He had slept last night but he'd still dreamed, a mixture of Jorge and Blake, never knowing which one was which. He shivered at the memory of the strongest dream, the one that had woken him this morning, leaving him covered in sweat and trembling. It wasn't one man or the other, it had been both. Jorge kneeling over him, forcing his cock into Avon's mouth as Blake's hands slipped under his hips, spreading them, impaling him. Worst of all, despite his fear and anger, he'd woken aroused, his own cock hard and aching.
The sight of Blake curled under the blanket beside the bed had made him unreasonably angry. He'd wanted to hit out, to hurt Blake as much as he was hurting himself. But as he stared at Blake, the anger had dissipated. Even in sleep, Blake looked haunted, pursued by his own demons. Avon had watched him for a few minutes, then got up, showered, dressed, and left. He wasn't ready to deal with Blake anymore than he wanted to deal with himself. Besides, Blake needed his sleep.
Probably still sleeping, Avon thought with a touch of amusement. Closing the cover over the detector circuits, he pocketed the probe, and sat down on the couch. He was still tired and the couch was comfortable. Jenna was on watch for the next three hours. He could rest undisturbed, feeling safe with her watching his back; it was an unwelcome but comforting feeling. His gaze drifted back to the star field. What did she see out there?
Blake leaned against the backrest of the comms position. Avon hadn't noticed him here at the back of the flight deck, and right now, he was glad of that. He'd made his decision back in Avon's cabin. He was going to keep his promise to Harriman - he would contact the clonemasters and convince them to help his brother.
He watched Avon bend down, fishing something out of the compartment under the detector console, and felt his guts tighten. Clad in black leather, as he had been since their return, Avon managed to simultaneously convey an impression of both self-contained aggression and sexual desirability. Avon was darkly beautiful. Blake felt himself flush at the sight of material stretched tightly across Avon's arse, highlighting the curves and valleys. Blake's own trousers felt constricting and he damned himself for his desire and his lack of control. What would Avon think if he knew? He hadn't been able to face Blake's desires last night - not surprising considering the hell he'd been through. An image, unbidden, filled his mind. Avon trapped beneath his brother's body, beneath his body. Struggling, trying to escape the man using him, crying out in pain as he was violated.
No! Blake pressed clenched fists to his eyes. He couldn't think about that. It was over. Whatever Jorge had done, it was Blake's responsibility as much as Jorge's. Avon had been there because of him, hurt because of him. But he had to keep his promise - he would find a way to give Jorge back his life, to set him free to start again somewhere far far away from Avon.
His gaze returned to the flight deck and Avon's dark figure. He couldn't tell him: Avon wouldn't understand. Avon didn't blame him, he knew that; Avon's hatred was for Jorge. He'd want Jorge dead. Blake rubbed at his neck, feeling the beginnings of a tension headache. According to Orac, they were only a few days away from the clonemasters' world at top speed. The one piece of good luck in this hopeless situation. If he could keep Avon away from the flight deck until after they arrived, he could teleport down while Avon slept. Leave a message for Jorge and give him into the clonemasters' care. It would have to be enough.
Avon abandoned his work and Blake watched him retire to the comfort of the flight deck couch. He looked exhausted. Blake wanted to hold him, but this wasn't the place even supposing Avon would permit it. Bracing himself, he moved onto the main part of the flight deck, stepped up to Jenna's position and gave her a forced smile.
"Quiet watch?" He spoke softly, watching for a reaction from the man on the couch. Avon stiffened slightly and turned to watch warily. Blake met his gaze, holding it for several moments until Avon's eyes slid away uneasily. That hurt.
He glanced down at Jenna, seeing the sympathy in her eyes.
"Yes, no problems."
He approached the other man. "Avon, I..."
The eyes that rose to meet his were dark with a mixture of anger, fear and desire. It shook Blake, whatever he'd been going to say was lost. Unthinking, he reached out a hand.
Avon jerked back.
Blake let his hand fall, pleased at some level when confusion crossed Avon's expression. At least he wasn't the only one! But that knowledge didn't help when Avon spun on his heel and left. He'd told Avon that it would be all right, but he was afraid it never would be all right again. Unaware how clearly his own pain was showing, he was surprised at the sound of Avon's voice.
"I'm going to get something to eat."
As close to an invitation as Blake was likely to get. He looked up. Avon met his gaze and nodded slightly. A smile lightened Blake's expression as Avon left, hope dispelling a little of the gloom. Waiting until Avon would be far out of earshot, he approached Orac, placing the key in its slot.
"Orac, I have a job for you."
"I have little time to waste on your petty affairs."
Blake felt his anger bubbling to the surface again. "It's not petty to me." His voice grew cold and hard. "Contact the clonemasters. Tell them that I need their services and am bringing a memory chip and the genetic material they will need." Blake paused. "I'll pay whatever is necessary. That will be all."
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