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By Susan
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Vila's suggestion that the Liberator crew had a brief "holiday" from the usual routines had been readily accepted, somewhat to his surprise. He had wanted something more lively than Dayna's wish for somewhere with a beach but had been overridden - and decided that he would rather take what was on offer than face the consequences of a refusal. Orac had improved the situation by helping him find some minerals though the category "interesting" was more easily understood than the subcategory "saleable." Now, Vila was having a picnic looking at the ocean. This was the life - for a couple of hours and a few daydreams.

Even Avon had decided to spend some time on the planet, glad to leave the Liberator, and to have a brief escape from reality. He felt content, would agree to more trips like this - occasionally.

He now walked along the shore with Dayna. They had exchanged pleasantries, discussed the tide, and they now walked in companionable silence.

Dayna had picked up a few decorative shells, a childhood habit, amused that Avon had relaxed enough to help her a couple of times. She half expected to see a shell or two in his room the next time she took something there, even though his hands would be empty when they teleported up.

'Want to swim then?' Dayna asked as she caught Avon looking out to sea. She had learnt to do so as a child.

'There is no boundary, and there are visible currents.'. He had been attracted by the limitless horizon and what might lie beyond, like the explorers of old.

'You are prepared to fly across the galaxy and out of it, but show caution here?' Dayna asked, and Avon accepted the teasing. 'But it is best to know one's limits,' she acknowledged.

'Try telling Tarrant that.' Amused tolerance and a hint of jealousy. Avon occasionally wished to be impetuous, do more things like going to the Big Wheel...

'Look, Avon, a cave,' Dayna said, pointing at the cliff face.

'Probably wet and full of seaweed,' Avon replied, but willing to be persuaded.

'Come on Avon - we'll probably be out in five seconds.'

The cave was large enough for them to stand in, and was fairly shallow - it was not the entrance to a series of caves full of wonders as in the book Avon had read as a child, and he felt slightly disappointed. It was sandy based and dry, although it bore evidence of occasional seawater.

'This is like my cave on Sarran,' Dayna said. Remembering their first encounter she put her shells down and, reaching up, kissed Avon.

'What do you want Dayna?' Avon whispered. He would give her every chance to step back now, let it remain an erotic daydream, an enjoyable fantasy. Her hands were removed, and he felt a ridiculous twinge of disappointment.

Then she was undoing his jacket... and he was willing to let her explore. Hal Mellanby had been prepared to let Avon take his daughter on an exploration of the galaxy, and would have wanted Avon to look after her. What would Mellanby have thought of this? He should be careful...

'I want this - even though it remains a memory in this place, not something for the Liberator.' Dayna said, and hoped Avon knew what she meant. He was relaxing as she undressed him.

'As you wish ... I hope it is a happy one.' He cared for Dayna, would not let her come to harm. He could ... think of ways to justify it, but perhaps the simplest one was best - they were both curious. Perhaps it would ease his own ghosts - though he would forget them for the moment, and would see that Dayna had no regrets.

'Help me see that it is.' She had kissed him on impulse as she had on Sarran, was uncertain why she was going further - it was nothing to do with Avon not protesting.

'Do you expect something like this every time we go to a cave?' Amusement, a vague daydream of ... possibilities. Why did he have that idea?

'I don't know yet.'

Dayna undressed and Avon looked at her with undisguised appreciation.

She returned the look, curious and suddenly wary. Dayna was no longer certain what she wanted. Even now he would respect what she wished. Her father had trusted Avon - and she did too. But, now that she had gone this far...

She reached out, and began to explore tentatively, hands moving downwards. Avon's smile reassured her, his obvious uncertainty adding to her desire. So *that* was what they were talking about.

'Touch me,' she whispered. So he did - and it was ... pleasant. His enjoyment was evident.

Then he pulled her close, kissed her, showed her what he wanted, and she responded in kind.

The feel of their naked bodies together, his arousal, was exciting - there was no other word for it. She wanted this to happen, trusted Avon to...

Then they were lying on the floor of the cave, the sand cool and almost damp against their skin, the stone of the cavewall, when she reached out to touch it cold, and Avon was warm and ... she explored with her fingers while she tried to think of an adjective. He was exploring her, breathing speeding with desire, and she found herself caught up in the rhythm of it, hands going ever closer to the centre of desire. His hand was moving downwards, paused as if waiting for her invitation, and she took it, held it where she wished to be touched.

'Shall I?' Avon murmured. He wanted this as much as she did - and it would be a happy memory for him as well. This was not just lust...


Then he was inside her and she was arching against him, wanting as much contact as she could. Whatever she had imagined, it was different and ... 'Yes!'

'Avon,' she said, stroking him, brushing off some sand.

'Yes...' he replied, only half able to concentrate.

'You wanted me to enjoy this. Well,' she pulled Avon close for a kiss, 'I did.'

That had been more than evident, and Avon took pleasure in the statement. 'Thank you. I enjoyed it, because you did.' It was the truth. Anna had been distant at times, not concentrating on the moment as they had now. There had been more to what had just happened than merely trying to prove he could still give and enjoy such pleasure.

'I have no regrets.' Dayna knew it was important to make that clear. And, if the situation arose again, she would be willing to see what it would be like now she knew what to expect.

'Nor do I,' Avon replied truthfully.

Dayna suddenly laughed. Seeing Avon's puzzled expression she decided to explain. 'I was wondering how we would explain to the others if we were suddenly teleported back to the Liberator as we are now.' She put her arms round him.

Avon surprised her by laughing.


Dayna came to Avon's cabin. He sensed she was uncertain, afraid.

'What is it?' he asked. He felt suddenly, strangely protective towards her. He was in ways he did not care to fully explain to himself, responsible for her.

'Avon... you remember when we were on the beach...'

He did, with pleasure, allowed himself a smile. He ... would not be averse to repeating it if she asked. It would not be a betrayal of the responsibility he owed her and her father. What would Tarrant say?


She did not know how to lead up to what she had to say.

'Avon - I'm pregnant.' Then she was holding on to him for support.

He felt shock, dismay - it would not be fair to bring a child up on the Liberator. But, now that it had happened... How could she have allowed this to happen - but he was also responsible. He had always accepted his responsibilities. And sometimes such things happened by chance. What did he want? What would she want?

'You are sure?' It was comfortable holding her.

'I double checked with the computers in the med unit. Nobody else knows yet.'

'Good.' He hadn't meant it to sound that way. She was so young, and she was afraid. He could understand that.

She understood what he meant, that he too was confused. 'I thought we better discuss what I, we, should do first. It is not something I could hide, or walk away from. I need you to help me decide.'

Avon considered some of the possibilities. 'What do you want? I will listen to you,' he managed eventually. She trusted him - and he would not betray that trust. It was right that she had come to him to discuss the matter - she did not have the strength or maturity, yet, to handle it on her own. And to deal with the situation without reference to him would have been a betrayal neither of them could accept.

Dayna nodded. She was glad he was taking it so calmly, at least outwardly. Whatever they now decided upon... she would accept... probably.

'The Liberator is my home,' Dayna said. 'With the Federation chasing us, is it fair to have a child here? I don't know whether I would wish to spend the rest of my life stuck on a planet.'

'Even if Servalan wasn't keeping an eye out for you.' Avon was glad that Dayna was showing some understanding of the practicalities.

'I want... What we had then was too good...' She suddenly started crying.

Avon held her, not knowing how to comfort her. He understood her, did not wish to spoil the memory either.

He put a hand on her stomach, trying to imagine the new life within. He was responsible for this, both then and now, and what would happen to ... them in the future.

'Do we have to decide yet? I would not wish to lose you ... we work as a team.' That was as open an admission of what he felt for the others as he could manage for now.

'No.' A memory of something that had been said to her. 'Your pilot before Tarrant. The Free Trader.'

'Jenna Stannis.' Avon clarified. She had returned to her former line of work, helping the rebels when she could, and was in occasional contact with the Liberator. She had not heard anything of Blake either.

'Could we get in touch with her, the Free Traders?' Dayna did not know what they could offer, but there might be something. 'Would she help us do you think?'

'Would you have strangers adopt your child?' At this stage, when they were discussing something that could not be visualised, the possibility had its attractions. And Jenna might be able to suggest something appropriate. He realised that he might want the child, which was... frightening. Perhaps they could link up with the Free Traders, some sort of compromise.

'Ask me again when I hold the child in my arms, but as an idea now, I am prepared to consider it.' It was a practical solution, for now.

'And what would you have it know of its inheritance?' They would have to consider that.

'Enough for it to decide its own future, but not to be under immediate threat if the Federation is strong enough to provide one. I haven't thought it through.'

'I think we need time to consider the matter,' Avon said gently. 'Thank you for telling me.' He should feel angry, he knew, but somehow he could not. Perhaps because Dayna had given him the opportunity to think it over.

Dayna turned to go - it had been less painful than she expected. 'Avon,' she said as an afterthought. 'It was not my intention for this to happen. I just wanted to indulge the moment, you understand?'

'I do.' Avon went and kissed her - in friendship and comfort. He cared for her, what would happen to her. Not that he could admit it openly to anyone.

For now they were content to be together.


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