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By Catherine
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"Blake!" Deva raced over to where two of Blake's men were half carrying, half dragging their leader from their ship. Shouting orders at his aide to bring the base doctor, Deva crouched down. Blake was barely conscious; his men having brought him this far. Now they propped him against the wall, easing the strain on his battered body. The battered body that Deva stared at, horrified by the damage done.

Afraid to touch for fear of causing further pain but needing to, Deva took one large, limp hand in his, squeezing tightly, comfortingly. "You'll be all right, Blake. Prel's on his way." Deva watched as Blake struggled to speak.

"Jenna," a very faint gasp, but Deva heard and looked to Blake's favorites. Ray shook his head slightly, and Deva felt a wave of regret. He had liked Jenna. She was a good pilot, devoted to Blake. Deva knew Ray had been fond of her too, might have loved her if not for her blinding devotion to Blake.

Blake. Deva turned away from Ray, his focus back on Blake's painfilled expression. Deva had never been good at hiding his emotions from the other man. Blake always knew, as he seemed to now, fresh tears for Jenna's loss mixing with those of the rebel leader's own personal hurts. Deva tightened his grip, vaguely reassured by Blake's reflexive response.

"Damn." The doctor skidded to a stop, dropping beside the huddled group.

Deva could tell Blake was fading back toward unconsciousness, his hand grip loosening. Prel urged him back, as Ray and Wil helped the medics get Blake settled on the stretcher before whisking him off to medical.

"Prel." The doctor turned back to Deva. "Will he be all right?"

"That all depends. His body injuries will heal, his face...I don't know. Emotionally, you know the man better than I. I have to go." And with those words, Prel left Deva with Blake's duo, a lot of questions, and no answers.

"What the hell happened out there?" Deva's voice was raised, unusual to say the least, anger and fear a potent mix.

Wil watched cautiously as Deva paced, unfazed for himself, sure of Blake's recovery, but concerned for Ray who blamed himself for not stopping Jenna. Absently, Wil squeezed Ray's shoulder before standing up to face Deva.

"I should think that it was obvious." Wil spoke softly, with a calm assurance.

Deva stopped and glared before sitting down. "Then explain it to me!"

Will sat back down rubbing a hand through thick, short hair, folding his hands in his lap before he began. "Started out okay. A quick supply raid on a Fed base. You know the plan."

It wasn't a question but Deva nodded sharply and Wil went on after a quick glance at his partner. "Like I said, everything was fine, until we picked up the computer stuff. We were heading back to meet Jenna and her group when we ran into a bunch of troopers." Wil shook his head at the question in Deva's eyes. "No, we don't know what riled them. Maybe their security surveillance is better than we thought. We turned to return their fire just as Jenna's group met up."

"And Blake was hit?"

Wil nodded silently.

"And Jenna?"

Wil turned to Ray who sat stone-faced, leaving his band on the smaller man's arm. "When Blake went down, she screamed and ran to him. She rolled him over; he had fallen face down. She seemed relieved, could tell he was still alive. I guess, and kissed him. Then she jumped up, protective-like, and started to fire."

Ray's face was shockingly white and Deva saw how concerned Wil was about the other man, despite his own calm acceptance. But Deva needed to know it all if he was to handle Blake when he recovered. Deva refused to consider if he would recover. He had to; he was Blake.

"And then?"

Wil's head jerked away from his contemplation of Ray, but it was Ray who spoke. "They killed her. She stood there firing and was blasted to bits." Wil wrapped a comforting arm around him. "She was dead by the time we reached her. The troopers finally had to pull back, there were only one or two left, and we grabbed Blake and got out of there."

"Do you think Blake saw Jenna fall?" Deva asked gently.

"I'm not sure. He was unconscious when we reached him and even if he wasn't, with all the blood..." Wil trailed off and looked away, tightening his grip momentarily on his partner.

Deva sighed. Blake would be out of surgery soon. What to say, how to say it? But he thanked the two men and sent them off, Wil taking Ray with him, obviously feeling rather protective. Deva smiled faintly. Wil was a lot like Blake; the rebel leader was extremely fond of him. A twinge of jealousy was quickly dismissed. Wil obviously adored Ray, even if Ray couldn't recognize it.

And Blake didn't have time for such recreations. Or the inclination? Deva wondered.

"Deva?" One of the nurses interrupted his thoughts. "Blake is out of surgery if you would like to see him. He's a bit groggy and Dr. Prel is still with him."

"Thank you."

* * *

Pausing for a moment in the doorway, Deva watched as Prel adjusted the bandages swathing the left side of Blake's face. A hand came up to grip the doctor's. Prel hesitated, then placed his free hand on Blake's bare shoulder, squeezing and patting it.

Deva stepped up to the doctor's side and stared down at the bandage-covered figure. The undamaged side of Blake's face was very pale, especially in contrast to the dark, overlong curls, lines of strain engraved around his eye and mouth. One shoulder was also bandaged.

Deva blinked, Prel having taken his arm to pull him closer. Deva glanced quickly at the doctor, who nodded.

"Blake? It's Deva, Blake." Deva leaned closer as Blake struggled to speak through the combination of drugs and bandages.

"Jenna?" It was a faint whisper, one eye hazily focused on him, and Deva shivered. Blake had to be told, probably already had guessed most of it, would want the truth, but why now? Why not later when he was better able to deal with it, free of drugs and pain?

But Blake was still staring up at him, a mixture of hope and fear on what could be seen of his face. Blake wouldn't rest until he knew what had happened after he fell, especially what happened to Jenna.

Gently, Deva picked up Blake's hand, vaguely aware of Prel stepping back, giving them some privacy. Much more aware was he of Blake's muzzy gaze, the warm, trusting grip of his hand.

"I'm sorry, Blake. She didn't make it." Deva tightened his grip, trying his best to comfort.

"Didn't make it?" The whisper was very faint, disbelief shining in Blake's visible eye.

"She..." Deva paused, sitting on the edge of the bed. "She died, probably instantly. I'm so sorry, Blake."

Blake's disbelief was turning into despair, tears welling up in his uninjured eye. The grip on Deva's hand tightened desperately and then went limp as Blake turned away, tears spilling down his cheek

"Roj," Deva shook his head, hating the feeling of helplessness. Blake was trembling, chest starting to heave with his efforts to breathe. "Prel!"

The doctor rushed to the bedside, pushing Deva to the side. Quickly, he injected a tranquilizer, urging Deva to hold Blake's hands as the drug took effect, the rebel's breathing slowly returning to normal as his eye closed, Blake slipping into unconsciousness.

Prel sighed as he stepped back, turning to speak to Deva. "He'll rest quietly for a while at least. I'll have one of the medics stay with him."

Deva nodded slowly, reaching to brush the dampness from the pale cheek before he silently left Prel alone with his patient.

* * *

Later that night, Deva was awakened by the chiming of his intercom.

"Deva," he mumbled.

"Prel here. Come to medical immediately. Blake's delirious. He keeps calling for you and some of his old crew, Jenna too. And I don't dare give him any more medication."

"On my way." Deva dragged on clothes and was out the door and on his way to medical as fast as he could go.

Prel's comments had been an understatement at best. The figure on the bed was wringing wet, skin slick with sweat, hair soaked, bandages damp as well. He was awake, eye open, but clearly not aware of where he was. He was mumbling, names occasionally shouted out as he twisted on the bed, two medics trying to hold him down.

Deva came closer, Blake's voice clearly audible. "Jenna! Where are you, Jenna? Avon!"

Prel spoke out as Deva stopped beside him. "He was calling for you earlier. I thought if you were here, he might settle down. I don't want him to further injure his face. He needs to rest."

Nodding, Deva reached over, taking one of Blake's hands in both of his. The writhing form stilled for a moment and at Prel's urging the medics stepped back.

"Avon?" Blake was staring upward, his vision obviously still clouded or confused.

"It's Deva, Blake."

"Avon, I didn't want to leave you. Please, don't leave me. I need you. Jenna's . . . "

Deva closed his eyes at the desperation in Blake's voice, in the strength of his grip. He had known Blake's feelings for Kerr Avon had been strong but...

"I'm here, Blake. I know. I won't leave you." Freeing one of his hands, Deva brushed wet curls away from Blake's battered face. Slowly the tension seemed to ease, the face to relax, and Deva eased Blake down against his pillow. Pulling up the covers to keep the rebel warm, Deva rose and was startled as Blake's hand shot up, his grip amazingly strong.

"Please, stay."

"Of course, Blake." Deva pulled over a chair, resigned to spending the rest of the night. He watched a faint smile cross Blake's lips as the rebel relaxed, drifting off, one hand still clasped in Deva's.

As he slept, Deva watched, not for the first time hating Kerr Avon yet wishing he were him. Or at least an acceptable alternative.

* * *

Weeks later, Deva was still haunted by his wish to be Avon. At least Blake had listened to his former companion, or so Blake once claimed. Nothing and no one seemed to reach Blake now. Once he had recovered physically, he had escaped the medical center for his own quarters. He refused to have his eye fixed. The scar was horrible, his eye almost scarred shut, the cheek disfigured. But Blake simply ignored it, aside from the occasional touch when he believed no one to be watching and the fact that he had started to practice his aim, spending long hours alone in the practice room.

Deva was concerned, his irritability made everyone aware of it. Everyone except the object of it, that is. Blake kept his own council, as well as keeping to himself.

The base activities went on as usual. The plans to set up a recruiting base on Gauda Prime underway before the botched mission. In the absence of their leader's input, everyone just kept on with the preparations. Just as Deva kept on worrying.

"Deva." He jumped, startled out of his contemplation of the computer screen.

"Are you all right?" Blake inquired.

Deva stared at the unexpected figure of his thoughts. Blake looked almost as fit as before his injury, dressed in his usual greens and browns with knee-high leather boots, white shirt open to reveal a swath of smooth skin. The big hands rested on the edge of Deva's computer console, eyes firmly fixed on Deva's face. Deva's gaze was drawn unwillingly to the damaged portion of Blake's visage. But he was still surprised to hear himself blurt out the question that had been troubling him. "Why?"

Blake frowned. "Why what?"

Deva kept staring, his right hand drifting up to trace an outline of Blake's disfigured eye and cheekbone. "Why not fix it? There's no reason to punish yourself." Deva saw his mistake in the added tension and wariness as Blake released the console, taking a step back

"Is that what you think I'm doing?"

"Why else?" Deva countered.

"Why else indeed." Blake's hand came up to press lightly against the scar. "You know, I often wondered the same of Travis." Deva stared blankly. A faint smile touched Blake's lips. "Before your time."

"I've heard of him. He hunted you, blamed you for the injury that cost him a hand and an eye."

"He wore an eyepatch." Blake moved away, circling round behind the other man. "Same eye as well. I always wondered... a memento, perhaps?" The smile on Blake's lips didn't touch his eyes, anger and guilt turning his soft brown eyes very dark.

"Stop this, Blake! Jenna's death was not your fault. She wouldn't want you blaming yourself." Feeling Blake close behind him, Deva flinched.

"But I do, Deva. Who else is there? Jenna, Gan, they were there because of me and they died for my mistakes." His hand returned to his mauled cheek "This time I won't forget. You should be pleased, Deva." Blake's voice was cold and empty as he turned away, staring blankly at the wall. "The next one might have been you."

Deva turned, taking Blake by the shoulder, gently pulling him around. "Idiot. So now you'll wrap yourself in anger and indifference, protect yourself before the fact?" Deva saw the truth of Blake's intent in the rebel's eyes. "No, you'll wrap yourself in guilty grief and revenge." His chest tightened and he shook his head. "Oh, Blake. If you were mourning for someone else, Jenna would have comforted you. She'd have kissed you, told you that you cannot being back the dead, that you must live for the living." One hand left Blake's shirt to tangle in curly hair, pulling the rebel down and Deva up, their lips brushing once, gently. No threat, plenty of time for Blake to back out if he wished. An offer of comfort, of friendship, and of passion if Blake would accept it."

Blake did, lips opening to Deva, losing himself in the warmth, the caring of the other man. The sweetness of Deva's unspoken offer made his heart ache and his head spin. When Deva pulled back, Blake felt the sting of abandonment, a sudden reminder of Jenna and how she had offered her love. Offered her love and found death in return. Blake gasped.

Deva felt the tears before he saw them, heard Blake's whimper of distress and reached out to comfort, pulling the larger man's head to his chest. Blake was trembling, his breath coming in hard gasps as he borrowed his face against Deva's shirt. "Let it go, Blake. Jenna's gone. Accept it, mourn her and go on. Your people still need you." Deva hesitated, "I still need you."

"My fault," Blake whispered wetly.

"No, it was not." Deva spoke firmly, hands patting and rubbing at Blake's broad back. "Federation troopers killed her and that is where any blame must lie, Blake. She wouldn't want you hurting like this, blaming yourself. Remember her, but not as a source of guilt. She deserves to be remembered for more than that. And Blake," Deva paused, encouraging Blake to meet his eyes. "Blake. you deserve better than that kind of pain."

For a moment, Deva shared Blake's anguish, their eves locked together before Blake's forehead came to rest on his shoulder. No more tears to dampen his clothes, just Blake trusting him, relying on him for comfort, feeling secure in Deva's arms. They remained there quietly as Blake's breathing returned to normal, relaxed in their mutually comforting embrace until Blake spoke once more.

"Deva, why?" Blake's glance indicated their situation, Deva's arm wrapped protectively around him long after the last of his tears.

"How long has it been since you bad a good night's sleep, Blake? How long since you let yourself relax?"

Blake wouldn't meet his eyes.

"That's what I thought. You're coming with me, and I'm going to stay with you until you go to sleep instead of trying to work, or blame, yourself into oblivion...

"And is that all?" Blake's voice had the sound of sure knowledge in it, but no hostility.

"Do you want to sleep alone?" Deva tried hard to keep his voice neutral, not to make Blake feel that he was being pressured into anything.

Blake shook his head. "I've been alone too long. I need you, Deva." Blake's voice was intense and husky, and a faint hope that Deva hadn't felt in a long time forced words from his mouth.

"You have me, Blake." The arms tightened again as they headed for Blake's cabin.

* * *

Closing the door behind him, Deva paused as Blake sank down on the bed. Not without trepidation, Deva went to him, standing in front of him, watching Blake's expression. He was harder to read now, so many emotions jumbled together, confusion, desperation, the old guilt, desire. They were both nervous. They both needed this. Deva let his gaze drop down between the widespread thighs, his eyes tracing the bulge straining the soft suede of Blake's trousers.

"You want me?" The words were Deva's, questioning amazement in his voice that brought a smile to Blake's eyes.

"Obvious, is it?" Blake smiled softly before turning serious again. "Yes, I do. Want and need you, Deva."

Warm hands seized Deva's arms, drawing him closer until Blake's arms were tight round him, the curly head pressed against his stomach, Deva's legs bracketed by Blake's thighs. They stayed like that a few moments, Deva's hands tracing aimless soothing patterns across a broad back, drifting up to entwine with dark brown curls.

Deva's peaceful contentment was only slightly disturbed as Blake's hands delved beneath the cover of cloth, stroking the skin of his back, making him shiver with anticipation. Eyes locked on Deva's face, Blake rose, pulling his companion's shirt up and off.

Slightly nervous but determined to give Blake the love and caring that he needed, Deva raked his fingers through his hair, brushing it out of the way. Blake's arms settled around him once more, hands cupping his ass, massaging gently. Then Blake's lips took his again, not demanding but requesting; Deva allowing his lips to part as Blake's tongue thrust inside, exploring, tasting... Deva felt swamped, suffused in heat, felt Blake's erection hard against his thigh, his own throbbing demandingly. Desperate for air, he broke the kiss, head down and panting into the smooth skin of Blake's chest. Rubbing his cheek soothingly against Blake's chest, he felt the big man tremble and knew the next step was his. Blake needed him to do it.

Deva lifted his head and slowly undid the buttons of Blake's shirt, letting it slide to the floor, fingers gently exploring the silky smooth skin beneath. His fingertips brushed a nipple and Blake gave a soft moan. Deva looked up into desire-clouded eyes as Blake's hands framed his face, thumbs tracing delicately over lips and cheekbones.

Blake's lips left their mark on his throat, licking, sucking. Blake's hands made their way to Deva's trousers, pausing for permission before Deva's bands joined his in tugging the zip free, their kiss broken as Deva bent to remove the rest of his clothes. Blake did likewise before drawing Deva back into his arms. They both moaned at the resulting delightful sensations, cocks rubbing against each other, trapped between hard, sweaty bodies.

Blake tumbled them both to the bed, taking Deva's mouth in a lingering kiss. Deva ran his hand down Blake's side, caressing hip and thigh, achingly aware of the other man's strength, that it was being tempered by gentleness and the need for comfort. Pulling back despite his own increasing passion, Deva traced one finger from scarred eyelid to jaw. Blake stared as Deva's lips descended, gentle kisses raining down on the disfigured side of his face.

"Thank you." Blake's whisper was very faint, his eyes damp, as he wrapped Deva in a crushing embrace, hot damp breath gusting across Deva's chest, making his nipples tighten in anticipation. Deva saw the hunger for love and release in Blake's eyes, felt the power of his own passion. He pressed his lips hard against the fullness of Blake's, body to body, trembling as he felt Blake's response. Then Blake pushed hard, rolling on top of him and Deva gasped at the welcome weight, thrusting his hips up, tangling his legs with Blake's, the brief struggle driving them both to the edge. Blake's hand closed around his cock. A few electrifying strokes and Deva came, crying out in ecstasy as Blake brought him to completion.

Hazy with pleasure, he was still aware of Blake rubbing against him, cock still achingly engorged, small whimpers escaping Blake's parted lips. Needing to help, Deva reached down, brushing the sensitive tip of Blake's cock with a finger, his other hand stroking the length of it, watching in pleased fascination as Blake cried out, milky fluid spilling over Deva's hands. Blissfully sated, Deva pressed close to Blake's still heaving chest, listening to the thudding heartbeat. Blake's eves were closed and Deva felt a little uneasy. Gently, he brushed his fingers across sweat-silkened skin, circling one still-peaked nipple.

"Please." Blake's hand closed over his, stilling it and Deva froze, waiting.

"Blake?" Deva looked down into Blake's face. Eyelashes lifted, revealing brown eyes which stared intently back at him.

"I don't want..." Blake hesitated.

"Me?" Deva questioned, the ache already beginning, It was Avon that Blake wanted, would always want. A hand brushed his cheek.

"I don't want to lose you." Blake paused. "Jenna loved me and she died. I'm afraid...the dangers of setting up the new base..."

"You might lose me?"

Blake glanced away and nodded.

"So now you know."

Blake looked up, confused. "Know what?"

"How I feel, how Jenna felt, every time you take reckless chances. You take too many risks. Now you understand." Deva took Blake's hand in his, thumb stroking the knuckles. "Doesn't change how much you care, does it?"

"No." Blake imprisoned Deva's caressing hand in his larger one.

"And it doesn't change your plans, the base on GP, does it?"

"I'm sorry, Deva. No."

Deva smiled at the forlorn expression on Blake's face. "Don't be, Blake. You're as you are. I've always known that it doesn't matter."

"Doesn't it?"

"No, it doesn't." Deva pressed a light kiss to Blake's scar. "Not to me." Blake's arms closed tightly round him and Deva rolled into the comfortable embrace. Maybe Blake would at least listen to him occasionally now. Or maybe they'd both sprout wings.

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