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By Vanessa Mullen
Page 2 of 3

Gan moved through the trees. The contrast from the bright sunlight on the beach was quite surprising. Here, above the tide line, the trees rooted firmly and their branches wove a close canopy. The coolness on his skin was welcome after the heat of the sun. He rubbed abstractedly at his shoulder where a patch of skin was peeling. The girls had made better use of sun protection creams than he had - Cally in particular was picking up quite a good tan. Perhaps Auron was a sunny planet? Gan wondered briefly about that, and then resumed his search. Avon had to be here somewhere.

      He was worried about Avon.


The tree was ancient. Avon held onto it, as though it was the only solid thing left in the world. The bark was rough, real - when it scratched him, he knew he was still capable of feeling physical pain. It made a fitting counterpoint to the turmoil inside him.

      Until now, life had been bearable. Blake's kiss had shattered the safe wall that he had built around himself, had forced into the open every feeling that Avon had tried to deny. He wanted Blake. He wanted their bodies twined in passionate abandon. He wanted them to have sex together until they collapsed in exhaustion.

      The tree kept him upright, stopped him sliding back down to the ground and the temptation to lose himself in dreams. He pressed his body harder against the broad trunk, feeling the erection that betrayed him, and the aching need that it bestowed upon him. There was an emptiness in his soul, and it was growing. Blake didn't want him, so what was the point of anything any more? Was he simply to live each day jerking himself off in solitude, living close to Blake and being unable to touch him? The thought of sharing Liberator with Blake for the rest of his foreseeable life was almost unbearable - and Blake knowing, just made it worse.

      "Avon." Gan's voice spoke gently from behind him.

      "Go away!" Avon hissed.

      He would not turn around and look at anyone, he knew his face would reveal his feelings all too clearly at present.


      Gan was infuriating. He could be almost as pig-headed as Blake on occasion.

      "Please go," Avon whispered. Had Blake told them all what had happened? If he had, Avon was getting off at the next civilised world they reached. It was bad enough that Blake knew his weakness, for the others to know it too was humiliation beyond bearing.

      It was almost as though Gan had divined his thoughts. He said, "Blake told them that you turned him down."

      "If that's the case," Avon snarled, "who the Hell told you any different?"

      Gan said simply, "You did."

      Avon spun to face him, eyes blazing, searching Gan's face for any sign of mockery. He found none.

      "I've seen the way you look at Blake when he's not watching you." Gan seemed quite calm about what he was saying. He even anticipated Avon's next question. "I don't think the others have noticed."

      "So what makes you smarter than everyone else?" Avon didn't bother hiding his contempt for Gan.

      Gan looked hurt for a moment, then apparently decided to ignore the insult. My cousin Shev had a male lover. I shared a room with them for a while, before I got married."

      Avon's lips twisted into a sneer. "A menage a trois?"

      Gan flushed. He obviously didn't understand the French, but the implication had been clear enough. He tensed, hands balling into fists. "I should leave you," he said. "It's what you deserve."

      "I never asked you to come here," Avon pointed out.

      Normally, Avon's antagonism would have driven him away, but Gan could see the strain in Avon's face, the tension in the way he was standing. He was alone, with a need that he had no outlet for. It wasn't really Blake's fault, Gan thought inwardly, he simply hadn't understood what he was doing to Avon.

      "I don't like you, Avon," Gan said slowly. "But when Jos was transported to Exbar, Shev hanged himself. I wouldn't wish that on anyone - not even you. You need help. I can give it to you."

      "You?" The tone was incredulous, but Gan thought he detected a thread of something else in it. Hard to be sure. He plunged on regardless, before his nerve ran out.

      "I'm not Blake," he said awkwardly, "but..." He held an arm out in invitation.

      Avon wavered visibly.

      Gan didn't move. Avon stuck him as being like a small lost child trying to decide whether to trust a strange grown up. Would the stranger help him find his mother, or try to attack him? It was no use him reassuring Avon that he wouldn't tell anyone about this - either Avon trusted his discretion or he didn't.

      Avon took a step towards him. "If you ever tell anyone about this, I'll kill you."

      Gan stretched out both arms to offer a full embrace. Avon, still looking as tense as ever, stepped abruptly into the dangerous circle and Gan folded his arms around him. Avon shuddered in his embrace, then wrapped his own arms around Gan, the fingers clawing deeply into the muscles of Gan's back. He closed his eyes and leaned his head back, exposing the throat.

      As Gan's lips touched his, Avon was lost in sensation. In his mind now, it was Blake who held him, Blake who was kissing him. The kiss drew him away from reality into a world where everything was safe. No Federation to pursue him, all the money he could ever wish for, and Blake to share his bed. But that would be too easy. Things could never be simple between himself and Blake. There had to be the danger, the excitement, the perpetual fights that made them hate each other even as they them drew closer together. Some days he wanted to screw the living daylights out of Blake. Today though... Today, he just wanted Blake to acknowledge him, to accept his desires, to -

      Ah, that was it. Avon felt the hand at the waistband of his shorts. It moved inside and began to explore him. As they kissed, fingers delicately explored his testicles, his penis. His breathing quickened, to come in short gasps as the fingers gently stroked his erection. Avon broke free from the kiss, and buried his head in the broad shoulder in front of him. "Blake," he whispered painfully. "Blake."

      The hand grew firm around his penis, pumping steadily in time to the rhythm of his own ragged breathing. Or was he breathing in time with the movement? Avon no longer knew, no longer cared. He came suddenly, semen spurting from him, and he collapsed in relief into the arms holding him.

      Gan held the body steadily in his arms for a few minutes, then Avon straightened up and backed away from. Gan released him without comment. Avon's head nodded briefly in thanks, then the computer technician turned and walked away into the woods.

      Gan watched Avon go. He hadn't expected anything more from him. His eyes turned in the other direction, towards the sea.

      Upon reflection, it seemed the perfect time for a swim.



Avon hesitated outside the door of Gan's cabin. He tried to come here as little as possible. It had been three weeks since they had last had sex together. Blake was getting impossible though. He had had the chance to kill Travis after that stupid duel, and he had declined. Travis would have killed him readily enough. Couldn't Blake ever get that into his thick skull? I would have enjoyed it indeed. Surely, enjoying killing Travis was just one more reason for doing it? Right now though, if he couldn't screw some sense into Blake's stupid hide, at least there was Gan.

      Mind made up, he pressed the button for admittance.

      Gan was sitting on his bed with the bookviewer.

      "What are you reading?" Avon asked, more as a conversation opener than from any real interest.

      Gan put the viewer to one side. "Nothing that you'd find interesting."

      Out of sheer perversity, Avon took a look at the tape, and was slightly surprised to discover it was a book on electronics. Basic to be sure, but more than he would have thought Gan capable of. "Why didn't you ask me for some help," Avon said.

      "I did, last week," Gan replied. "You were busy."

      Avon couldn't remember, but then he'd been busy most of the last week with a rather fascinating investigation into the functioning of the auto-repair system. It didn't matter particularly - he hadn't come here to be intellectual anyway. He reached out for Gan's shoulders and pushed him back onto the bed, images of Blake already filling his head.



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