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Outlaws and In-laws

By Nova
Page 2 of 13

Three hours later Blake lurched into the recreation room, leaning on Jenna's shoulder. Gan was perched on the couch beside Cally, his big hands held half a metre apart so she could wind a skein of Kairan silk around them, and Avon was playing mah jongg with Vila, using the antique ivory and wood tiles that Blake had given him. Blake stared at him intently but he refused to look up.

**I knew it. Avon's angry with me too. It looks as though I'm under attack from all sides, as usual.**

When he continued to hover irresolutely by the door, Cally raised compassionate eyes towards him. 'They can't help it,' Blake said, half-defensive and half-pleading, talking to her but keeping his gaze fixed on Avon. 'My parents lived on a farming planet all their lives, until the Federation caught up with them. In general, their ideas are extremely progressive but like most farmers, they still tend to think in terms of ...'

'Breeding,' Jenna completed with a shudder. 'I know. Couldn't get away from my home planet fast enough.'

'You come from one of the redneck planets too?' Vila said, surprised. 'That explains why you and Blake get on so well. I can see it in him but I never would've guessed about you.'

Jenna smoothed an infinitesimal crease from skintight satin trousers. 'We all have our secrets,' she murmured. 'And it looks as though your parents have just discovered one of yours, Blake.'

'It wasn't a secret,' he protested. 'I haven't seen my parents since I left Cymry IV to work on the Aquitar Project. At that point I hadn't realised I was gay, so there was nothing to tell. Still, I assumed my parents would be as liberal about homosexuality as they are about everything else.'

'But apparently they are not,' Avon said, glancing up.

Vila ducked instinctively and the skein of silk twanged between Gan's hands. When Avon returned to contemplating a row of red, white and green dragons, Blake slumped against the wall, caught in a vortex of giddy tiredness, more powerful than the pull of a black hole. An awkward interval of silence was broken by the clack of Jenna's boot heels, as she strode across to the kaff machine.

'By the way, Blake,' she said over her shoulder, 'would you ask your mother to stop matchmaking?'

Vila sniggered. 'Just tell her you tried hard, then settled for Gan,' he suggested.

'Oh, shut up, Vila,' Cally said, unexpectedly stern.

She whisked the skein away and released Gan, who patted her knee and smiled. 'That's all right, Cally,' he said placidly. 'I know I was Jenna's second choice.'

' And a much more sensible choice too,' Jenna said, forthright as ever. 'Although I don't suppose I can expect Blake's mother to agree with that. She'll have to get used to it, though. Call her off, Blake.'

'I'll do my best,' he said wearily. 'But I warn you, my mother's very strong-willed. She's exhausted me. I think I might go to bed now.'

He turned back to Avon with a look that was intended to be appealing but came close to desperate. Since desperation didn't normally cut it with Avon, Blake was both startled and relieved when he shrugged and rose to his feet.

'Sleep well,' Vila told them, adding irrepressibly, 'unless Blake's mum comes knocking at your door.'

He grinned at Avon, who shuddered ostentatiously. 'Thank you, Vila,' he said. 'That thought was all I needed to make my day complete.'

He followed Blake out of the room and they walked down the corridor in silence, although this time the silence seemed more like a truce. After a while Blake let their hands brush casually together, holding his breath until he felt Avon's fingers slot into his. He almost dragged Avon the rest of the way, shunting him into his cabin and drawing him straight into an engulfing kiss. That was, evidently, a little too desperate for Avon's liking. He inserted both hands into the narrow gap between their bodies and gave Blake a peremptory shove.

'Easy, Blake,' he said. 'Would you mind explaining why you've chosen to turn a minor social contretemps into a three act tragedy?'

'Isn't it obvious?' Blake growled. 'I've just discovered that my parents escaped the Federation executioners through a bureaucratic error - apparently, they'd already been interned during a purge of rebel sympathisers, so the relevant data-puncher marked them down as dead. But instead of seeing our reunion as something to celebrate, my mother keeps alternating between stony silence, reproachful sighs and heroically suppressed tears ... all because she doesn't like my choice of lovers.'

His mouth twisted, as if he'd bitten into something sour, and he sat down heavily on the bed. He was still trying to decide whether he was more upset by his mother's disapproval or by the knowledge that he was upsetting her, when a shadow blocked the light and he looked up to find Avon standing over him. There was a faint vertical crease between his eyebrows, like the mark left by a thumbnail.

'You expect a lot from your family, don't you?' he observed.

'Of course I do,' Blake snapped. 'We're talking about my mother, Avon.'

Avon blinked. 'Yes, I'm aware of that,' he said politely.

'It's a special kind of relationship,' Blake persevered, searching for words to explain the obvious. When Avon continued to look puzzled, he said in a clumsy attempt at humour, 'You did have a mother, didn't you?'

'Oh yes,' Avon confirmed. 'However, the words "special relationship" don't evoke any fond memories, possibly because I rarely saw my mother and therefore have little to remember.' His eyes narrowed into feral slits as he added, 'And please, don't start feeling sorry for me, Roj. You are already fully occupied by feeling sorry for yourself.'

Blake let his head drop into his hands. 'You think that's unreasonable?' he asked in a muffled voice. 'I don't. It's quite a shock to find out that my parents are homophobic.'

The mattress jolted. Avon settled behind him, knees braced against Blake's hips, hands massaging his shoulders, brisk but soothing. 'I warned you about this,' he said. 'It is easy enough to decide you are homosexual on a spaceship of which you are the unofficial commander. Rather more difficult when faced with the usual planetary prejudices.'

He dug his thumbs into a knotted muscle and Blake used that as an excuse to groan out loud. 'But my parents aren't usually prejudiced,' he said. 'It seems so ... illogical.'

'Not really,' Avon told him, leaning forward to slide his hands down Blake's chest and unbutton his shirt. 'This galaxy is still comparatively underpopulated and the Federation only controls half the civilised worlds, which gives them a vested interest in promoting reproductive relationships.' He whisked the shirt over Blake's head, pushed him down onto the bed and straddled him, saying, 'Conversely, since the increased radiation levels on spaceships mean that pregnancy is contraindicated, spacer culture is inherently more tolerant of homosexuality. You have, up until now, been shielded from reality, my dear.'

Blake yelped at the cool touch of oil trickling down his spine, then scowled into the pillow. 'You're very calm about all of this,' he said resentfully. 'Doesn't that kind of bigotry make you even slightly angry?'

Avon laughed. 'My sexuality was relatively low on my family's list of reasons for disapproving of me,' he said, spreading the oil across Blake's back with quick firm strokes. 'It was, in some ways, a relief to find a label that defined my difference. I am not a crusader for queerdom, Blake. If it helps, I would be happy to downplay our relationship while your parents are here.'

'No, thank you,' Blake said indignantly. 'I can't stop them judging me but I'm damned if I'll let myself be silenced.'

'Very well then,' Avon sighed. 'By all means, go ahead and flaunt your sexual preference at your parents. Just remember that my offer still stands.

His voice sounded tetchy but his hands continued to ease the tension from Blake's muscles. After a while Blake swivelled round and pulled Avon down beside him. He butted his head into a convenient hollow on Avon's shoulder and sheltered there until the soothing hands persuaded him to release the tears he'd been trying to suppress. Avon held him while he gulped and hawked and snuffled, kissed him ruthlessly when he attempted to apologise and tucked him back into the convenient hollow. Blake snuggled closer, hiding a secret smile.

**When it comes to saving face, Avon's always been an expert. It's nice to know he's as concerned to safeguard my pride as his own.**

*

After Blake had fallen asleep on his shoulder, Avon lay awake for another hour, staring at the darkness and anticipating trouble. His instincts proved accurate. Over the next few days, Gwyneth Blake's attempts to pair her son with Jenna accelerated to the level of self-parody. Embarrassed on her behalf, Avon did his best to stay out of her way but whenever they were obliged to share the same space, Gwyneth twitched and jumped and glanced nervously over her shoulder, like an ailurophobe who suspects there is a cat in the room. It was unexpectedly depressing. Long before they'd become lovers, he had fallen into a half-acknowledged habit of shadowing Blake and touching Blake, whenever circumstances allowed, but under Gwyneth's monitoring gaze, even the most casual contact seemed more like defiance than reassurance. So Avon volunteered for the night watch and began to invent projects that required him to spend increasing amounts of time alone, researching the Liberator's systems.

He was in the computer room, investigating the flight predictor, when Blake stormed in, with such majestic speed and fury that Avon felt as though a minor cyclone had buffeted him away from the navigation computer and flung him at the nearest wall, knocking the breath out of him. Blake's hands, heavy on his shoulders, and Blake's mouth, urgent on his mouth, provided a more prosaic explanation. Still unnerved at times by Blake's directness, Avon turned his head aside, hoping to disengage himself for long enough to assert his control of the situation. But Blake had already wrenched his trousers open; Blake's hand was already plunging in to seize his cock. He enveloped the shaft and thumbed the hood, locating the most sensitive spots with an assurance that was as erotic as its consequences. Avon gasped, leaned back and let the approaching orgasm thrust him into the eye of the storm, lifting him and dropping him and hurling him hard against Blake's chest.

Some time later he summoned the energy required to straighten his buckled knees, slide his spine up the wall and look Blake in the eye. 'So your parents have been badgering you again?' he asked, smiling faintly.

Blake's eyes wavered and refocused. As he ran a quick scan down Avon's ruffled hair, bruised mouth and disordered clothing, his teeth sank into the full curve of his lower lip.

'You're right, of course,' he apologised. 'I'm taking it out on you. Do you mind?'

Avon's smile broadened. 'As a matter of fact, I like it,' he said. 'It's possible to appreciate a good fuck and still feel curious about its provenance.' He ran a finger down Blake's chest, pausing to toy with the first button on his shirt, and added, 'More propaganda about the evils of homosexuality, I suppose?'

Blake made a stifled sound, halfway between a snort and a whimper. 'My mother's persuaded Orac to track down all the Federation studies that prove queers are immature, promiscuous and self-hating. She passes them on to me for my bedtime reading.' He watched Avon bisect his shirt with surgical precision and tweak at his nipples, then captured his hands and said abruptly, 'Kerr, don't give up on my parents, not yet. I'm the only child they have left, so I'm carrying a triple load of expectations at present. But I'm sure they'll learn to like you, once they get to know you.'

Avon's smile mutated into something more wry and wary. 'I think not,' he murmured but Blake clutched his hands in mute appeal, so he sighed and said, 'Never mind, I'm prepared to humour you. I assume you locked the door behind you, when you barged in?'

'I'm not as rash as you think,' Blake grumbled. 'I can remember to take elementary precautions.'

'Good,' Avon said and sank to his knees, pulling his hands free and reaching for the clasp on Blake's belt.

Blake's cock strained towards him, already thrusting at the air - apparently without its owner's conscious volition, because Blake cursed mildly and lounged back against the wall, elaborately casual. Avon caught a pearly drop on the tip of his tongue and rolled it across his palate, taking a moment to savour the bitter familiar taste, before he steadied the shaft between his palms and guided it into his mouth. Blake lunged convulsively, then muttered an apology and disciplined his hips into an almost imperceptible rocking motion. Avon rounded his tongue to cushion the shaft and caress it with long lapping strokes, closing his eyes and letting the world contract to a darkly private space where he could read Blake's reactions in the pulsations of his cock, swelling and trembling, spasming and gushing.

As the first warm spurt hit the back of his throat, a split-second frisson of panic rippled down Avon's spine, claustrophobia edged with an aura of vulnerability. And then, without pausing to reflect, he was gulping thick tangy liquid and swallowing greedily, because he was safe here: because this was Blake. He sat back on his heels and looked up, wiping a flamboyant hand across his mouth. Blake was gazing at him with the dazzled awe he usually reserved for heroes of the resistance or street conjurors.

'Oh, Avon,' he whispered. 'It's been six months and we still can't get enough of each other. I hope that never changes.'

Avon knotted a hand in Blake's shirt and hauled himself upright. 'Yes, well,' he said, as he kissed Blake in passing, 'one can always hope.'

*


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