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Blake checked his watch. 'Status, Zen?' he asked.|
+ All seven energy banks are now operating at full capacity.+
'Wonderful,' remarked Avon, looking up from his position on his hands and knees, head buried behind a panel.
'What's that supposed to mean?'
'It is supposed to imply my less-than-genuine delight that the banks are recharged and we will, I presume, now be going back to... the "front".' The quotes were sketched delicately round the word with the faintest curl of Avon's lip.
'Well, there's no reason to skulk here any longer, is there?' Blake asked reasonably.
Avon looked at him coldly.
'We are wanted criminals on a lavishly-provided and spacious ship, currently in orbit around a ferociously neutral and perfectly civilized world outside the Federation's sphere of influence. No, Blake, I can't think of a single reason why we should stay here.'
'Nor can I,' agreed Blake. 'I'll tell Zen to set a course once the others come back.'
Avon's mouth twitched unwillingly towards a smile before he hid it, along with the rest of his head, back in the control unit he was poking about in.
'Yes, Blake?' Avon kept working.
'How do the energy banks recharge?'
'What do you mean?'
'If our power's drained. Where do they get the power to recharge with?'
Avon sighed. 'If I knew that, Blake, the Federation would have an unlimited power source and I would be a rich man, very far away from here, on a...'
'...planet of your own,' Blake joined in. 'I know.' He was silent for a minute or two, watching his boots tap idly against each other, then asked 'What are you recalibrating now?'
'Nothing, really.' Avon rocked back on his heels, threw his probe down, and half-turned to look up at Blake. 'Are you going to let me get any peace?'
'If you wanted peace, there are hundreds of rooms on this ship with no-one else in them and only one occupied,' Blake pointed out.
'Would you like a game of chess?' Avon asked, instead of answering.
'All right.' Blake got the board out from the drawer in the base of the couch and began to set it up. Avon came to sit beside/opposite him and silently rotated the board so that he could take the black pieces.
They played in fairly companionable silence for a while (it having been established on their first night-watch together that their tastes in music were violently incompatible).
And then, between one move and the next, for no real reason at all, Blake - who was (and this in itself was almost unheard of) simultaneously sober, unendangered, emotionally unruffled (if you didn't count a mild touch of boredom), unhurt , and not in need of comfort - opened his mouth and said what he had, for very good reasons, spent the last year-and-a-half not saying.
'I very much want to kiss you.'
Avon's eyes widened and narrowed so quickly Blake was never quite sure if he'd really seen the flash of startlement in them. He leant deliberately forward and moved his bishop.
'What a limited imagination you have, Blake,' he said calmly.
'Well, I wanted to do this too,' said Blake, as Avon settled the very last centimetre of his cock inside Blake, gasped, and kept still.
Blake tried to put his arms round Avon but found that his legs (hooked over Avon's shoulders) were in the way; he could reach to touch Avon with his hands, but it felt rather clumsy and awkward, so he laid his arms down flat by his side, let his head drop back, and relaxed into the new configuration of nerves and flesh that Avon's body was making of him, of them both. Avon's chest and belly pressed against his legs, sweat between them making him slippery as a shoal of fis h scattering in water, in pleasure; Avon's cock pressed snug and full into his arse, playing tricks with topography as those internal surfaces became coextensive with the furthest limits of sexual pleasure, every tiny movement on the smal l surface drawing and redrawing Blake's map of himself. Blake moaned and started rocking very slightly along the curve of his back; Avon took the motion up, mirroring it, amplifying it, until he was slamming into Blake and Blake was shovi ng back hard.
Avon caught his breath, slipping a hand in between them and around Blake's cock. 'What else?' he said.
'Huh?' said Blake, who was concentrating on absorbing the force of Avon's thrust and transmuting it into a rippling push back.
'What else did you want to do?' Avon lowered his head closer to Blake's. 'Whisper.'
The sudden explosion of disjoint, pornographic images in his head and another thrust from Avon fireworking pleasure throughout his body shattered Blake: he gave a desperate wriggle, screwing himself deeper onto Avon's cock and his own coc k harder into Avon's fist, yelled, and came.
Despite this temporary breakdown in communications, however, they had managed to make respectable progress on both their wish-lists by the time they dragged themselves to the teleport bay the next morning to welcome the rest of the crew b ack from their visit to Eblis-9.
Blake was mildly relieved when Vila's reaction was a simple double-take and a wink. He'd been, irrationally, half-expecting the others to take one look at him and cry 'Jesus, Blake, where did you learn to do that?' - as if what he and Avo n had done was imprinted as visibly on his skin as it was indelible in his mind.
'Congratulations,' luckily, was all that Vila said.
'What do you mean?' asked Gan.
'Yes, has there been any trouble while we were away?' Cally added. 'You did not send for us, so I assumed...'
'No, no trouble,' said Avon smoothly. Blake looked at him bemusedly, wondering how a man who had been taking strenuous exercise all night long could look so sleek in the morning, and took a fortifying pull on his coffee, since just lookin g at Avon was now mildly exhausting. 'Did you enjoy your holiday?'
'Oh, you know, not bad, not bad...' said Vila, belatedly putting the wrist with five watches on it behind his back.
'It was very relaxing, thank you,' said Cally politely. Gan just nodded and Jenna just gestured towards the five shopping bags at her feet.
'Well,' said Blake, since it seemed something more was going to be required of him than draping himself bonelessly on a chair and half-looking at Avon's profile while reminiscing about the night before, 'Zen tells me the energy banks are recharged, so we'd better get a move on. Flight deck, everyone.'
'Ah,' said Vila. 'About that, Blake - well, we're not expecting trouble, are we? Because...'
'All right, Vila,' said Blake wearily. 'Gan, you can have a rest too. The four of us can manage.'
'Zen,' said Jenna, 'set a course for Euryalus-IV, speed standard by four.'
+Unable to comply.+
'What? Why not?'
+There is insufficient power to leave orbit.+
'What? Blake, I thought you...'
'Zen, you told me that all energy banks were fully charged!'
'And now they're not?'
'Explain,' Avon snarled.
+The ship's energy reserve is exhausted. There is no power for the energy banks to draw on.+
Blake, resisting the urge to bang his head against Zen's facade and/or laugh hysterically, asked: 'What is your power source, Zen?'
+UST+, Zen intoned.
'UST?' Jenna asked. 'What's UST?'
+No further information is available.+
Blake gave up on the situation and sat down, deciding to wait until something started making sense. Avon sat down beside him and got the chess board out.
Ten minutes later, Blake was startled into looking up from a particularly absorbing set-up by the sound of Jenna's voice, raised.
'If you can't do anything useful, why don't you just fuck off and let me handle this?'
'Why are you angry with me, Jenna?' asked \Cally evenly.
Jenna put her fist in her own hair and tugged in frustration. 'Oh, I don't know. How about... because you're a mealy-mouthed, unhelpful, spineless bloody Auronar?'
'My people save our emotions for what counts,' said Cally. 'Be very sure you want to see what Auron anger looks like before you say another word.'
She had come out from her flight position and was standing very erect, staring at Jenna, with her hands on her hips. Anger was crackling almost palpably between the two women. Blake frowned, trying to bring to mind what they reminded him of; then he caught Avon's eye and realized.
They look like us. Alarmed, he opened his mouth to try and defuse the situation, but before he could say anything the ship gave a little lurch. He reached automatically for Avon but - unprecedentedly - Avon stayed where he was and it was Cally who fell over Jenna's legs, dragging Jenna to the floor with her.
The ship stabilized again and Cally, first to her feet, helped Jenna up. From within the circle of Cally's arm (she had absent-mindedly forgotten to let go of Jenna, and Jenna had absent-mindedly forgotten to prompt her to do so), Jenna, glaring at Zen, demanded: 'What's going on, Zen? Are we moving?'
+We are on a course for Euryalus-IV, speed standard by one. Energy banks are at 20% capacity.+
'What about this - UST?' asked Cally.
+Sensors have found another source+, said Zen.
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