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With this ring

By Julia Stamford
Page 2 of 6

First day, and Avon staring at him whenever he thought no one was looking. True to his word, not saying anything, not doing anything to give away that he knew something interesting about Blake, but obviously consumed by a curiosity he was determined not to vent.

Blake himself was the one likely to give it away. The special burn dressing helped a great deal, but there was still some pain when he didn't move carefully. People noticed.

"Are you all right, Blake?"

"I'm fine, Cally."

"You do not look fine."

"I spilt a hot drink last night. Nothing serious, it just stings a bit."

"Would you like me to look at it for you?"

He could see Avon in his peripheral vision. Brief flicker of some indecipherable expression.

"No, I'm fine, really. I can treat it myself."

Really, Avon mouthed, but didn't say aloud. Well, it was what Avon would have said anyway, hardly something to worry about.

Cally smiled at him and patted him on the shoulder, then went to sit on the couch. It seemed his self-treatment was acceptable.

###

Not to Avon, though. Come late evening, alone on the flight deck, and Blake had the distinct feeling he was being watched. Then Avon leaned over his shoulder, said very quietly, "Time to change your dressings."

"And you're going to insist on watching at the very least, just to make sure I do it." He looked up at Avon. Too late to catch any telltale change in expression. Avon simply smiled ferally and asked, "Would you prefer that I asked Cally to do the honours?"

"No, thank you." He stood, gestured for Avon to lead the way.

Avon locked the door of the medical unit behind them.

"I presume you would prefer privacy for this."

"Yes. Although what anyone who tries the door is going to think..."

"That you would prefer not to be disturbed while treating a delicate part of your anatomy. Particularly as such treatment requires you to strip."

Not the most subtle hint he'd ever heard. He busied himself with undressing while Avon prepared a fresh batch of the soothing dressings. Thank God for his taste for loose clothing. Far more comfortable in these circumstances, and far easier to get off without dragging at the dressings. He sat on the bed, legs spread. Avon started by peeling off the dressing covering the minor scald down the centre of his chest and stomach.

"This one appears to be healing well. Another day or so should be adequate."

Blake looked down at himself. Slightly pink skin, tingling slightly with exposure to the air. "Those dressings are impressive."

"These are Liberator stock, but the technique is well within the capabilities of standard Federation technology, just not provided to everyone. We should be able to replace them readily enough."

"Are we running short?" Were they wasting dressings on a relatively minor injury?

"No. There are more than adequate supplies for normal shipboard use. Of course, normal does not include constantly picking fights with the Federation."

He sighed, weary of this argument. "I don't want to argue about it right now, Avon."

The soft tone of Avon's reply startled him.

"No, I don't suppose you do. Hold still while I replace this."

Avon laid a new dressing in place, the sting of the scald disappearing immediately. Then he moved to the dressings lower down, dropping to one knee to be at a more convenient height.

"This is likely to hurt, Blake."

"I know." Blake braced himself, watched as Avon very gently peeled up one corner of the dressing, delicately pulled it back. Intense concentration evident in the set of Avon's head, the square, blunt hands taking as much care over this task as would be lavished on any other delicate work. The first dressing was no problem, but the second, lower down, had trapped some hairs. Freeing those caused more pain than the exposure to open air.

"Hold still," Avon said, after Blake had twitched once too often.

"I'm trying to, damn it!"

"I know." Nimble fingers plucked the last of the dressing loose. "That's done it. I would suggest shaving before the next set go on, but I suspect that it would be more painful than removing the dressings."

He winced at the idea. "I think you're right. I'll put up with pulled hairs. How is it?"

"I think it should be all right. You're healing very well, there's no sign of any scarring."

"It looks swollen."

"I did warn you."

And that was the first time either of them had mentioned a certain topic, even indirectly.

"You did, indeed. It's just that it makes life even more difficult when..."

"When it does what that part of the male anatomy is prone to doing. Be grateful, Blake. At least the head wasn't scalded. Another half inch and a catheter wouldn't have been an optional extra. And I would have called Cally or Gan in for that."

"Thank you. And yes, I am grateful that you bandaged it in such a way that I can still use the toilet without assistance." Truly, he was. Avon had done an excellent job on dressing the burns without hampering him any more than could be helped. He was lucky - the scald was mostly confined to the upper surface of the shaft, and Avon had been able to avoid having to cover his cockhead and the exit hole of the piercing.

Avon lifted a fresh dressing, carefully smoothed it into place. The feel of his fingers skimming over sensitive tissue was threatening to bring on an attack of the problem they'd just been discussing. Blake mentally ordered his cock not to be so damned silly, and thought about how it had felt to have cold water dumped over it. That put a stop to unwanted activity in his nether regions.

Another dressing, and then they were done. Blake dressed, carefully, and said, "Thank you." He neglected to ask about his jewellery, and Avon didn't mention it. That suited Blake. He wasn't going to ask for it back until he was in a fit state to put it back in -- and in a fit state to see how Avon reacted to being asked to do the honours.

"You aren't going to argue about it tomorrow, I hope?" Avon asked.

"No. You did a better job than I could have done."

"I always do." But there wasn't quite the usual bite to it. "Do you want to be tucked up in bed with a cup of hot milk?"

He'd much rather be tucked up in bed with a hot Avon. Not a tactful thing to say, though.

"Thanks, but I think I can manage by myself." He walked out of the medical unit, unsure whether or not Avon had meant him to hear the soft "Can you?".

###

The second day, and Avon seemed to have better control over his curiosity. Just the occasional glance in his direction. What had changed was Avon's behaviour when they were alone. Always when they were alone. Avon was true to his strange sense of honour and didn't tease Blake where they might be overheard. Not that it would have mattered, because it consisted of casual remarks that could have been perfectly innocent. That Avon would doubtless have insisted, with wide-eyed stare, were perfectly innocent, had Blake challenged him about it. It was just a coincidence that Avon's fascination with wealth was focused on expensive jewellery today, triggered by a casual remark of Blake's about doing a proper inventory of the treasure room. That Avon referred to Blake's clumsiness with some circuitry they were tracing as Blake's cock-up. It was so subtle that Blake wasn't sure whether Avon was doing it on purpose, or simply unaware that his subconscious had a bee in its bonnet.

Avon, was, of course, utterly discreet about the other aspects of the situation. A light touch on Blake's shoulder in the evening to indicate that it was time for Avon to play nurse. He went without arguing, knowing now that Avon was good at it, and discreet as well.

Quick, gentle removal of the dressings higher up. Avon inspected the skin carefully, then used the diagnostic scanner.

"This has healed."

"So I can dispense with the bandages?"

"These ones, yes. The other scalds were on more sensitive skin. Those will probably require a little longer."

They did. The skin was still slightly pink and tender. Blake didn't really want another day cocooned in dressings, but Avon stopped all protest by the simple expedient of running a finger down his cock. The resulting stinging convinced Blake.

"You enjoyed that, you bastard," he complained.

Avon grinned. "Indeed I did. It is so rare to have you give in with so little argument."

"Nothing to do with having the chance to grope me?"

"Since, contrary to popular belief, I am not a sadist, I do not enjoy groping someone who finds the experience physically painful."

And that was all Avon had to say on the subject.

###


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