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By Helen Parkinson
Page 3 of 5

"Good morning." Sando said slowly. "I have brought you some food. My Master felt you would not be able to rise so soon." This last was addressed to Avon. Sando placed the heavy laden tray on the side table. The smell of coffee reached Blake and his mouth watered. Avon watched Sando who moved towards the bed. "Do you need any help?"

"No." Avon shook his head and Blake could hear an edge of panic in his voice. "I can manage, but I would like my clothes back."

"I am sorry sir, but your garments were so badly damaged. However I shall find some replacements for you." He turned to Blake. "Do you require fresh clothing Sir?"

Again Blake was made to feel grubby, he nodded. "Please." Sando bowed slightly and left the two men alone.

"What," Avon asked. "Was that ?"

Blake smiled as he pulled the laden table closer to the bed. "That was Sando, Vamesh's servant." He studied Avon critically for a moment. "Can you sit up?"

"I can try." Avon replied, unwilling to miss out on what looked and smelt like a very nice meal. Blake moved to his side and, pulling the good arm round his shoulders, his own round Avon's waist, lifted him to a sitting position. It took a few moments as Avon proved to be able to do little himself. His eyes were closed and his breathing harsh by the time Blake had him upright, supported by a number of pillows, a light sheet drawn across his shoulders for warmth. Anxiously Blake watched him, only relaxing when Avon finally opened his eyes. The expression on Blake's face evidently annoyed Avon who scowled.

"Coffee ?" Blake asked, indicating the silver pot from which rose a thin column of steam and an enticing smell. "Anything to eat?" A plate containing a number of slices of toasted bread and some oddly shaped buns Blake couldn't at once identify lay close to the coffee pot.

"Just coffee." Avon replied. He was still in a deal of pain and it was making him nauseous now he was sitting upright. The coffee might, he reasoned, calm his stomach, food, he was certain, would not.

"I've never had real coffee before." Blake told Avon as he poured.

"I have." Avon replied.

Blake was surprised. Real coffee was a luxury few afforded on Earth. Usually only council members or the President's advisors and family. "When?" He asked passing a cup to Avon.

"Oh a long time ago." Avon was noncommittal and Blake realised he wasn't going to get any more information today. He would just have to store it up as another mystery about his secretive friend, perhaps one day..... "Is there any cream?" Avon interrupted his thoughts.

"Yes." Blake poured a little into Avon's cup, then did the same to his own. A sip confirmed what he had always heard, real coffee was nothing like the substitute served on Earth, he could get used to this. He looked at the laden plate and his stomach rumbled.

Avon smiled. "I think you should eat something."

"Yes." Blake had to agree, suiting action to word. With a full plate he moved to perch on the end of the bed, Avon didn't protest as Blake settled and began to tuck into his breakfast.

The gentle knock at the door sounded again and Sando entered carrying two bundles. "Your clothes gentlemen." He told them, placing a suit of the style Vamesh wore on the chair for Blake. To Avon he held out some dark silk pyjamas. Avon looked annoyed.

"I wanted clothes." He said petulantly.

"Avon I don't think you will be able to get up yet. These are the best idea." Blake said earning a glare from the man on the bed. Sando said nothing. He placed the pyjamas on the bed and withdrew.

"Do you really think so?" Avon said, shifting to sit more upright. As he did so the little colour there was in his face drained away.

Blake caught the empty coffee cup as it slipped from his fingers. "I do." He said softly. Avon opened his eyes. He knew that Blake was right about this, but giving in to this man was so hard. "I'm going to dress." Blake said. He picked up the clothes and went through the room's other door, into what he had discovered the night before was a bathroom. Doing his best to give Avon the space to give in without losing face, the time to recover himself.

It took Blake longer than usual to dress in the unfamiliar clothes. The outfit was tighter fitting than he usually wore. The trousers and jacket were a dark blue, a white shirt and loose fitting tie completed the ensemble. He looked in the mirror. All in all the effect wasn't too bad, the fit was good. The jacket was longer than he was used to, reaching past his knees but it lent him an air of elegance. He looked pale, lack of sleep and worry he supposed and his hair was slightly more unruly than was usual, but, Blake decided, on the whole, he presented a pleasing picture.

Avon was sitting on the edge of the bed wrapped in a sheet when Blake returned to the bedroom. "Avon," He admonished. "You could have hurt yourself."

Avon scowled. "I learnt to dress myself some time ago." He said. "I have no intention of breaking the habit now." He slid off the bed.

Blake dived forward and caught him as his knees buckled and held on silently waiting for Avon to regain his balance. Then he helped Avon walk to the bathroom door. Avon walked through on his own and quite audibly locked the door in Blake's face. Blake smiled to himself. Stubborn did not even begin to describe Avon, he hoped the other would not need help because it was going to be damned hard making him accept it.

Blake fastened his gun about his waist then lifted the teleport bracelet to his lips and tried to contact Liberator as he waited. No reply. It was too early, but he had hoped they would be there. A few hours in the medical unit and Avon would be fine, but if they stayed here...... He didn't finish the thought.

Avon was finding it difficult to dress one handed, but there was no way he was going to call for help. He clutched the side of the sink, blood loss and pain making him dizzy, waiting for the moment to pass. When his vision cleared he studied his reflection. Pale, far too pale, but that was to be expected. He noticed some scratches on his neck and a memory stirred. He followed it round as he dressed slowly, using it as a way to keep his mind focused. He couldn't move his injured arm very much, even thinking about moving it made him feel sick, but he managed to get his left arm down one sleeve of the pyjamas and then just draped the other over his shoulder, fastening a couple of buttons. A dark velvet dressing gown hung on the door, he pulled it down draping it across his shoulders for added warmth, he was incredibly cold. Avon looked at himself in the mirror, much as Blake had done. The dark clothes made him look paler still, but they would do and the fact he had got into them on his own should help to convince Blake he was not as helpless as the other man appeared to think he was. He unlocked the door.

Blake looked up in concern as Avon entered the room. He covered it quickly at the sight of the challenge in the other's eyes. Avon, his eyes fixed on Blake, daring him to move, made his way to one of the fire side chairs. Blake barely restrained the urge to offer help.

"Blake how did I cut my neck?" Avon asked, fingering the tiny scratch marks.

"I don't know." Blake replied, "I think you must have done it in your sleep. Why? Do they bother you?" Avon shook his head but something in his expression puzzled Blake. "Is there something wrong?" He asked, moving to sit in the chair opposite Avon.

"Nothing." Avon said, much to Blake's relief, he had realised it was a stupid question under the circumstances as soon as he said it. "It's just that I had the strangest dream." Avon looked directly at Blake. "I was bitten." He stated, then looked away. "Someone was in the room, dressed all in black. He touched me." Avon shivered. "He was so cold. Then he bent over me and bit my neck." Blake slid forward in the chair listening intently. "His mouth was cold. He drank my blood!" The last said almost incredulously and Avon shook himself trying to dispel the chill he felt when he recalled the dream. "Amazing what a little blood loss does for the imagination." He looked at Blake. "What?"

"I had a similar dream. Someone touched me, spoke to me. I don't remember what they said, then they went over to you. I couldn't see what they were doing but you called my name and I woke up."

Avon stared at him. "Was anyone there?"

"No. Shared nightmares?"

"Wonderful." Avon lent back in the chair eyes closing.

"Do you want to get back into bed ?"

"No!" He shook his head, but did not open his eyes.

Blake watched him for a while, realising that Avon was going to sleep. It wasn't worth the hassle of forcing him to bed so he waited until he was sure Avon was sleeping properly then he pulled a blanket from the bed and draped it across the other's knees. Avon stirred slightly but did not wake. Blake reached out and touched his face, too cold. The fire had almost died and Blake decided he would go to find Sando as he had no idea how to get in going again. Then he would locate Vamesh, he did after all owe the man his thanks.

Vamesh was nowhere to be found, but Blake discovered the house to be so fascinating he forgot he was looking for him. Each room was more wonderful than the last. Plush decorations, real wood, real books, silk, linen and velvet. Blake remembered President Sarkoff's love of old things and was sure the older man would adore this house. Blake also realised just how very rich Vamesh was to have all of this.

Blake finally found Sando, or more accurately, Sando found him. The servant came up behind Blake when he was exploring the library. His tread was so soft he was right behind Blake before the other became aware of him.

Blake jumped, spun round then froze. He straightened slowly and put away the gun he didn't remember drawing. "Where is your master?"

"The Master is sleeping." Sando replied. "Your friend was calling for you Sir."

With a guilty start Blake realised it was hours since he had left Avon, supposedly to find a way to relight the fire. "Thank You." He muttered and headed for the stairs at a run.

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