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Blood Ties

By Willa Shakespeare
Page 1 of 11

Despite all that Avon had done and seen since he gave up his orderly computer-tech existence he froze, staring at Blake's motionless, blood-spattered, body. Everything was happening too fast. Absurdly, all he could do was stare, thinking how little the man had changed. And how much. He would still have recognized him anywhere, and yet... Besides the superficial- the dirt, the extra weight, the scarred face- something else was different- wrong. Not that it mattered now. Now that Blake was dead. He heard someone calling his name.

He lifted his head at last, the despairing note in Tarrant's voice finally reaching him. Too late. He looked about calmly, as far beyond emotion as were the bodies littering the room. Bodies which had been the last human beings who could call him companion, if not friend. There wasn't anything left to lose and not much reason to care. Be damned if he wouldn't go down fighting, though. He grinned, suddenly amused at the fittingly futile, bloody end to Blake's futile, bloody revolution. He lifted his gun, inviting the assembled Federation troops to the dance.

And a hand grasped his leg and yanked him down to the ground. Avon's gun went off, blowing a chunk out of the ceiling. He landed awkwardly, his own elbow hitting his solar plexus, driving the air out of his lungs and temporarily immobilizing him. He blinked, horror breaking him out of his cold, safe refuge. Blake. Blake had pulled him down and had taken his gun. After Blake shot the first trooper, the others responded, but Blake didn't fall again. No matter how many times they shot him, he didn't fall.

The troopers fell, though. And ran. And screamed. Especially the last one. Blake tossed aside the gun and captured the guard, ripping off his helmet to reveal a young, terrified face. He pulled the young man close and bent his head- what was he doing? The trooper's cries faded to a bubbling, choked rattle, then to nothing.

Still shaky, Avon got to his feet. He staggered, nearly stepping on a guard's corpse. They were everywhere. "Blake?"

Blake stood with his back to Avon for a moment longer, then dropped the last Federation guard. He turned, wiping at his face with a bloody sleeve. "Avon." His voice was flat. "You really are a stupid bastard, aren't you?"

"Why aren't you dead?" Avon reached forward, clutching Blake's shoulder, dragging him around so Avon could stare directly into his face. Blake allowed it, even pulling Avon closer. Involuntarily, Avon's eyes were drawn to Blake's mid-section and the sticky mess just starting to dry and turn brown. It was human blood, all right, no stage blood ever had that stomach-churning, metallic scent. And worse- he couldn't look at the wounds any more. "Blake?" Nothing made sense. How could Blake take three shots point-blank and still be standing here? Had he gone mad, was this all some horrible dream? Avon shook his head, tearing his gaze from Blake to survey the rest of the room. He released Blake, intending to check on his crew, but Blake tightened his grip.

"No, Avon. You're not going anywhere."

"Let go." Avon glared. "They may still be alive."

"Possibly." Blake shrugged. "I don't care. You're the one I've waited for." Avon's instincts rebelled at the possessive note in Blake's voice.

"Get your hands off me." He struggled in earnest now, but Blake held him easily. Too easily. Frustrated, Avon resorted to a low blow. Blake absorbed it with a grunt and tightened his grip even more.

"My people will be here soon, Avon. I don't have time to play games with you." Ignoring Avon's flailing feet and arms, Blake pressed his thumbs to either side of Avon's neck, compressing nerves and blood vessels.

Crimson sparks whirled before Avon's eyes, swirling and darkening to black. Helpless and confused, he buckled, feeling Blake catch him as he fell. His last clear sight was of Blake's face, staring at him with an almost passionate intensity.

Blake looked down at the man he held in his arms. He hadn't wanted it this way, but he had Avon, that was the important thing. He frowned. Avon had seen too much, he had to make sure of him. He wouldn't make the mistake of allowing Avon to spoil everything. He lifted his head, hearing a noise. "It's all right," he called out, seeing one of his people cautiously peering around a column.

The rebels came out then and began checking the guards for signs of life. Blake paid little attention. "The base is blown. We're moving to the alternate, now." He looked at Deva and Klyn and then at Avon's crew. "If any of them are alive, bring them." He shifted Avon to a more comfortable position and strode off, leaving his people to disassemble the base. He'd taught them well, they could handle it. No one else could take over the job he'd have with Avon.

His neck hurt. Avon's hand rose to touch it, pushing aside the soft blanket covering him. He opened his eyes, warily, beginning to remember what had happened. He sat up. The room appeared to be someone's living quarters, and he'd been deposited in a large bed. Without, he noticed, his clothes. If Blake thought modesty would keep him prisoner, he'd made a mistake. He started to rise, but large hands were abruptly on his shoulders, forcing him back to the bed. "Damn it, Blake, are you insane? Let me go!" He clung to anger, fighting off the panic caused by those strong hands holding him so easily, almost negligently, as though Avon were a child.

"No. I won't let you go, Avon. You've come to me at last, and you're not leaving. Never again. You tried to kill me. I should punish you for that." There was anger in his voice, but something else as well- an eagerness, a desire, that terrified Avon. He could not understand it, but felt its power, drawing him.

"Kill me, then," Avon shouted.

"That would be the sensible thing to do, wouldn't it, Avon? But you were always the sensible one. I was the dreamer, the one with my head in the clouds, the one who believed in the impossible. And I was right. You need a lesson in impossibility." He lay on top of Avon, heavily, pinning him in the tangled sheets.

"You bastard!" Avon gave up the struggle. He hadn't much choice. With Blake's bulk pressing on top of him, he could barely breathe. "Why are you doing this?" If Blake had shot him, or imprisoned him, or even turned him over to the Federation, he could have understood it. Then again, maybe Blake needed Avon's skills- but, in that case, he'd have expected an impassioned speech on the Cause- with a bit of guilt thrown in for him shooting Blake. That was another thing. He knew he shot him, he had seen and smelled the blood, and more. He'd actually seen the raw, meaty holes, and the grayish-white sheen of intestines through the rents in Blake's clothes, when Blake held him close after his battle with the guards. He couldn't stop himself from glancing down at Blake's midsection.

Blake followed Avon's gaze. "Want to see your handiwork?" He sat back, after giving Avon a warning glare, and tugged up his shirt- it was undamaged. He'd obviously changed while Avon was unconscious. He was cleaner, too, although Avon imagined he could still smell the charnel-house reek that had sickened him in the tracking gallery. The shirt pulled away from smooth, unmarked skin.

"Some sort of armor? A personal force field?" Avon said, guessing wildly.

Blake shook his head. "Oh, no, Avon. You shot me all right." He stared down at his captive. "I trusted you, and you would have killed me. I was glad to see you, I thought we could be friends. But you ruined that."

"What are you, Blake?" Avon asked, in sudden surmise, "Are you Blake? Are you even human?" His blood ran cold at the thought that perhaps this was an alien, an Andromedan shape-shifter. But no, he'd shot them and they died as easily, if not as neatly, as a human.

His answer was a mirthless grin. There was something odd about that too. Something about Blake's teeth.

"Oh, I'm Blake, all right. I've just changed. I'm not so easy to kill anymore, but I have certain- needs, now."

"Needs?" The avid hunger on Blake's face was terrifying. Avon convulsed, desperate to get away from this creature which used to be his 'fearless leader'.

"The guard wasn't enough. It took a lot to repair the damage you'd done me." Blake pinned Avon flat to the bed, grasping Avon's chin to hold his head still, pressed sideways into the pillow. "I waited for you to wake up. It would have been easier on you if I'd done it while you slept, but you do need a lesson. You belong to me, Avon. When you shot me, you proved I can't trust you on your own." He lowered his head, and Avon screamed at the tearing pain in his neck, writhing desperately.

Blake lifted his head and forced Avon to look at him, at the drops of blood clinging obscenely to his lips. "No. Don't fight me. I might kill you, and I don't want that." He stared into Avon's terrified eyes. The computer tech's fear suddenly seemed remote and unimportant. "That's better," Blake said, voice gentled, as the body beneath his relaxed. "You do know, now, don't you, Avon?"

Avon reached one trembling hand up to touch the side of Blake's face. "Yes. I belong to you." He turned his head to one side, as Blake had placed it, and waited. The sharp pain returned, but euphoria followed. Avon lay quietly, listening to Blake's soft moans of pleasure as he suckled on Avon's neck.

Blake continued for several minutes, then released Avon. Blake got up and left the room. Weak and apathetic, Avon wondered vaguely where he was going, but couldn't muster the willpower even to turn his head to follow Blake. Feeling dizzy, he closed his eyes. He heard Blake's heavy tread, and felt the bed shift as the other sat beside him, then started at a stinging sensation on his neck.

"Shh." Blake soothed Avon, stroking his hair until Avon sighed and lay still. "I'm going to take care of you." He chuckled. "Whether you like it or not." He stripped off his clothes and got into the bed. He pulled Avon in to lie close pressed against him. "I really am sorry it had to be this way."

The room was quiet. "Blake?" Avon called, drowsy still, feeling about him for the solid, comforting bulk which had held him and murmured softly to him until he fell asleep. "Blake!" Avon sat up, looking wildly around. The room was the same, but Blake was nowhere in evidence. Had it happened? He staggered out of bed, legs trembling, and located the lavatory. The image that met him in the mirror was pale, which could have been shock, but he had only one explanation for the pair of punctures in his neck. He touched the wounds. They had been sealed with a transparent film. He remembered Blake applying it- after... Abruptly, Avon was violently ill. The sickness didn't last long, but the revulsion stayed. Blake was some kind of monster- unkillable and irresistible.

He searched the suite of rooms quickly. His clothes were piled on a side table, beside a pair of thermal containers and a covered platter. He threw on his clothes, but still felt naked. He hadn't found any weapons, but then did Blake need guns? He had to get out of here, before Blake returned. The door wasn't locked. Perhaps Blake thought he would still be asleep- or perhaps he already had what he wanted from Avon. Or perhaps he thought Avon his slave, obediently awaiting his master's return.

Avon shivered. The Federation's top interrogators with all their drugs and machines and tortures hadn't been able to break his will. All Blake had to do was look at him to have Avon crawling on his belly. He'd rather die than go through that again.

He looked out into a crowded hallway. Judging from the lack of uniforms and the zealous expressions, this was Blake's rabble, all right. They hurried past with tools and equipment, arguing and giving each other orders. Piles of supplies teetered precariously against the far wall, threatening the scurrying workers. It rather resembled a stirred-up insect nest. He stepped out with a purposeful stride, relying on the human tendency to assume that someone who acts as if he belongs, does in fact belong.

"Hey, you!"

Perhaps he was mistaken about that particular human tendency. Avon turned slowly, hoping he was not the one being called.

"You in the black and silver." Avon tensed. "Come here. These crates have to be moved..." The rebel's voice trailed off as Avon faced him. "Oh. Sorry. You're Avon, aren't you." It wasn't a question.


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