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Rebels and Mercs

By Catherine
Page 2 of 4

Hours later, Blake was exhausted and didn't even want to think about how the other man must feel. Bodie had never complained but Blake could see he was ready to drop.

They had traveled a fair distance through thick forest and while the temperature had been warm enough while they were walking, it was cooling off quickly now that the sun was starting to set. They needed to find a stop where they would be covered in case it rained and be able to defend themselves if necessary. Blake turned back to his companion.

Bodie was scanning the rocky ground that surrounded them. The forest had thinned out to scrub as they had continued into the mountains and there were several overhangs that looked promising. Blake watched as Bodie checked out one, shook his head, and moved on to the next. That one brought a tiny smile to Bodie's lips. He waved Blake over and Blake was again struck by how bad the other man looked.

His skin was almost waxen, all colour drained away, making his eyes an even more striking contrast. As soon as they were inside the cave, Blake gestured for him to rest.

"Sit down before you fall down."

Bodie ignored him, unpacking the food and water, spreading one of the blankets across the cave floor.

"Hungry?" Bodie pulled out several packages and Blake took one, sitting down beside him. He tucked into his food very aware that though Bodie attempted to eat, he obviously had no appetite, leaving most of the his packet untouched. Bodie never left any food. He ate more food than anyone else at base. Rummaging through the pack, Blake pulled out a small bar of chocolate and offered it to his companion. It drew a smile but a shake of the head, followed by a grimace of pain. Blake frowned as Bodie drew up his knees and rested his head against them. He was obviously hurting badly, shivers making him tremble every few minutes. Blake picked up the other blanket and wrapped it around Bodie's shoulders.

"Sorry," Bodie whispered.

"It's not your fault you were hurt," Blake protested.

"Supposed to take care of you, not the other way around," Bodie said with an apologetic smile.

"Oh, Bodie, it doesn't matter. You're here and we're both alive." Blake looked deep into Bodie's eyes.

"Matters to me." Bodie's voice was beginning to slur with sleep. Blake intended to take the first watch anyway. Bodie was in no condition to handle it.

"Sleep," Blake urged. "I'll wake you up when I get tired."

Bodie simply nodded and curled up in a ball. He was tired.

Blake watched for a moment, until he was sure Bodie was sleeping peacefully, and then returned his attention to their surroundings. He didn't think there were any predators around but he didn't fancy finding out unexpectedly that there were. From the edge of the overhang, he could see the general area where they had crashed. There were no signs of Federation activity. Maybe they assumed that we all died, Blake mused. Or they're waiting for morning to check.

Blake sighed, resting his back against the cool rock wall where he could watch his companion as well as the outside. It was going to be a long night.

~ ~ ~

Blake woke with a jerk, hand going to his aching neck. He thought he'd heard a noise. Alarmed, he looked over at Bodie and saw that his sleep was anything but peaceful now. The mercenary was moaning and struggling, caught in the grip of some nightmare, Blake assumed.

"Bodie?" No response. He must be still deeply asleep. Blake checked outside and then stepped to Bodie's side, kneeling beside him.

Sweat sheened the pale skin, which was cool to the touch. His face was contorted with pain, limbs struggling against the blanket which had become twisted around him during the night. The bandage was still holding at least. Blake reached out, resting a hand against Bodie's forehead, feeling for a fever.

"Ray?" Bodie gasped out, eyes still closed, still locked in whatever world caused him to struggle so.

"It's all right. You're safe." Soothingly, Blake stroked his hand across the broad forehead, brushing his fingers against Bodie's cheek. One of Bodie's hands latched into his curls, pulling him down closer, head almost on Bodie's chest.

"Can't die, Ray. Won't let you."

Tears were slipping from beneath the clenched lids. Blake wondered, Who was Ray? He slipped one arm round Bodie, pulling him in against his own chest, hoping the contact would help to calm him. It seemed to, Bodie snuggling closer, pressing his face into Blake's neck. Blake sighed and wrapped both arms round Bodie's back.

"Love you, Sunshine," Bodie mumbled into Blake's curls. Blake shivered. A part of him wished that were true. That Bodie did love him and not the phantom that apparently haunted him. Bodie was so beautiful, strong and powerful but with a tenderness that slipped out when he didn't think anyone was watching. Blake had seen him playing with the few children on the base. He was always careful with them. Like he is with me, Blake thought. Protecting... Ray must have died. Else why would Bodie have left him?

Blake readjusted the blanket and reclaimed his hold on the other man. If they were going to be stuck here for a while, he should be able to find answers to his questions. A day or two and Bodie would be better. The injury was relatively minor and once he'd recovered from the blood loss, Bodie would be fine. A smile touched Blake's lips as he let himself imagine what Bodie would be like as a lover. Powerful, tender, dangerous, and gentle...

Drifting off, it seemed to Blake that he woke almost immediately. But it was no longer dark. The sun was up and the chill in the air was dissipating. He looked down at the man in his arms. Bodie was still sleeping, dark lashes resting against pale cheeks. Blake eased the other man away, making sure the blanket still covered him, and set about making breakfast. There was a small container for heating water so Blake made coffee and broke out another pack of concentrates. They had passed a small river on the way last night. Blake felt sticky. If Bodie felt up to it, the could go down and wash up after eating.

A yawn attracted Blake's attention. The mercenary was awake now, one hand scrubbing at his hair before gingerly examining his bandage. Blake had to admit he looked better, more alert, despite his pallor and the dark circles under his eyes.

"Hungry?"

"Ravenous."

Blake collected a packet and coffee but Bodie was at his side before he could rise to bring it over.

"Thanks. I feel much better." There was a teasing smile lifting the corners of Bodie's mouth so Blake simply handed over the food and drink and picked up his own. Bodie certainly appeared ravenous, devouring his meal in true Bodie style before eyeing the chocolate bar that was still sitting in the pack. Blake rolled his eyes.

"Go ahead."

Bodie picked it up with a look of bliss, savouring the first bite slowly. He offered a piece to Blake who accepted it with a smile. It was good but Bodie obviously appreciated it far more than he. Standing at the cave entrance, Blake let his gaze drift out over the mountainside beneath them. Still no movement near the wreckage.

"No visitors?" Blake started. Bodie had crept up silently beside him and was now looking out as well.

"No. Give it a few hours and we'll set up the communications station." Bodie nodded.

"Headache gone?"

"Since last night."

Bodie looked uneasy and glanced away. "You didn't wake me up for my watch."

"No. You didn't sleep very well for a while. You can keep extra watch tonight."

Sharp blue eyes met his. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," Blake replied warmly. "Bodie?"

"Hmm?" Bodie had already turned to the pack, rummaging for more chocolate. Blake shook his head.

"Who's Ray?"

Bodie froze in his explorations, body stiffening before he stood up. "Why?"

Blake felt himself flush slightly. "You called for him. And then called me by his name."

Bodie's face paled except for two pink patches high up on his cheekbones. "He was a very close friend."

Blake stepped closer. "Was?"

"He died." Bodie's voice was cold, as if he'd spent all his emotions and had nothing left. But Blake had seen him differently last night.

"You loved him." It wasn't a question and Bodie's eyes widened in a mix of anger and surprise.

"Does it matter?" His voice was bitter, making Blake's heart ache.

"I think it does. To you I think it matters a great deal." Bodie's jaw clenched and he turned away.

"Yes, I loved him. He died, five years ago when our ship crashed during a firefight." The dark head bowed. "He was badly burned in the crash. I couldn't save him."

"It wasn't your fault."

"No?" Bodie lifted his head, letting Blake see the anguish in his eyes. "He was my lover, my partner, my responsibility." Bodie paused, taking a deep breath. "I lived and he died. I should have been able to protect him!" Bodie spun away, walking to the other side of the cave, leaning into the cold stone.

Blake watched him with concern. Bodie had to stop blaming himself.

"Was Ray a mercenary too, then?" The dark head shook.

"No, I became a merc after." Bodie paused. "Ray fought for causes. Like someone else I know." Blake felt an insidious warmth curl through his stomach at the words. They were spoken with affection--for himself as well as Ray? Blake took a stab in the dark.

"Ray wouldn't want you to blame yourself."

"How would you know? Ray was a vengeful little bastard."

"He loved you." Bodie nodded once, face very tight.

"Then he wouldn't want you to hurt yourself. I wouldn't." Some of the tension drained from Body's expression.

"No, you wouldn't." Bodie came closer, fingers brushing Blake's curls. "But I still would. You're my responsibility, Blake. You could have died."

"I didn't."

"Jeffa did." Bodie frowned as Blake closed his eyes at the memory.

"I'm sorry," Bodie said softly. Blake looked up as Bodie's hand patted his shoulder. "Sorry that his death hurts you but I'm very happy that it wasn't you." The unspoken, I couldn't go through that again, hung between them.

"Bodie," Blake said helplessly, caught up in both their emotions. Too new, too intense, he didn't want to ignore them. He reached out and Bodie was pressed against him. Strong hands tangled in his hair, pulling his mouth down for a kiss. Bodie's lips were soft beneath his, opening, tongue teasing, coaxing him inside to explore the delicate inner surface. Gasping, he broke away, burying his face in Bodie's shoulder.


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