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Snake Pit

By Catherine
Page 1 of 2

Once again, Blake restlessly paced around their cell. Ten hours had passed since their capture at Travis hands. He glanced over at his companion. Avon was too quiet. He had not said "I told you so;" he had in fact said very little. And Blake was worried. It was not like the comp tech to give up so easily. And Blake refused to give up. They would escape. He would not give up hope. Liberator was still out there. If they could only get their bracelets. What he didn't understand was why they hadn't been questioned. Or killed outright. Frustrated, he turned to his companion.

"Avon?"

The figure seated on the bunk moved slightly, inclining his head in answer.

"Blake."

"How are you feeling?"

The comp tech had been knocked unconscious during their capture, causing Blake more than a few anxious moments. As usual, Avon refused the rebel's attentions on regaining consciousness, protesting that he was fine. Blake winced at the caustic gaze settling upon him.

"As well as can be expected, considering our situation."

A sharp pang of guilt prickled at Blake's heart. Avon was right to be angry. If he had listened to the other man's warning, they would never have teleported down. And Avon would be safe on the Liberator. They both would, instead of facing interrogation and a painful death at Travis hands. Steeling himself for rejection, Blake knelt at Avon's side.

"I m so sorry, Avon. That you're here with me." He shook his head in frustration. "I know it is not enough, but it is all I have to give."

He bowed his head and waited, half-expecting the usual words of scorn, deriding his recklessness, his bleeding heart, and his Cause.

But Avon didn't speak. He gazed down at the bowed curly head and felt no scorn, only regret. Regret that the rebel would never know why he stayed. Not for safety, not for Liberator, but for him. For an idealistic fool that I happen to have fallen in love with. He lay one delicate hand in Blake's curls, letting the tendrils wrap his fingers, reveling in the silky sensation.

"Avon?" Blake's voice was softly questioning. The hand was withdrawn as Blake raised his head. Avon sighed.

"Your guilt does not satisfy me, Blake."

Sadness suffused the rebel's features, making Avon's breath catch in his throat.

"But what I just did, does."

It took a moment for the words to register and even then Blake was not sure he understood.

"Touching my hair?"

Avon smiled at his puzzlement.

"Such a simple act but I have always wanted to... indulge myself."

Eyes downcast., Avon looked so vulnerable. Waves of tenderness swept over the rebel leader. Avon cared for him. Wanted to touch him! All the rebel's long-hidden desires, his affection for Avon, broke through. He took the tech's hands and placed them in his curls.

"Whatever you want, Avon. I was always yours, even on the London."

The tech's eyes widened at the confession and he smiled as he stroked the rebel's hair.

"Might I be allowed to indulge a tactile urge as well?" This time Avon's grin was wicked.

"I hope so."

Blake's large hands came up to caress the fine-boned face, pulling it down into a sweet kiss. Avon's soft lips parted, allowing Blake the lead. Their tongues explored briefly, the kiss broken only by the need to breathe. And by Blake's conscience.

"Avon, we can't."

The dark gaze hardened.

"Travis?"

"There is bound to be surveillance. I will not sully our love by letting him watch."

"Love, Blake. Is that what this is?"

Blake's wounded gaze stared back at the smaller man and he felt the ache deep in his chest.

"Yes, I suppose it is."

Blake reached out but was halted by the tread of boots approaching. Their gazes locked. If this was it, at least they would die knowing the truth.

"Sorry to intrude."

Travis strode into the room.

"I did not intend to keep you waiting."

Blake stood to face him, hatred for the Federation officer evident in every line of his body.

"Are you here to gloat, Travis? Or simply to bore us?"

That struck home. Travis face darkened and Blake never saw the fist that sent him sprawling. As his head cleared, Travis stood over him.

"Don't worry, Blake. You won't be bored much longer. I intend to enjoy myself, although I doubt either one of you will." He turned to the guards. "Bring them."

* * *

The two men shared a concerned glance as they were ushered to the edge of a small pit. There was a bench at one end but the mutoid guards pushed them towards the edge. Blake looked down and swallowed hard. The pit was writhing with snakes, poisonous ones from the look of it. Dear God, not snakes. What are you up to, Travis? Blake shivered at the return of long forgotten childhood nightmares about snakes that devoured men. He felt the space commander's hand close painfully on his shoulder.

"Time to sit back and watch, Blake. Watch and enjoy." Horrified, Blake gasped as Avon's guard shoved him over the edge. "No!"

He struggled to break free but the mutoids only allowed him to the edge. He stared in a mixture of fear and relief. Avon lay where he had fallen, unwilling to move in case one of the snakes struck. He held one arm to his chest.

"Avon?" Blake questioned. The tech's head tilted up.

"It's broken."

The words were flat, uninflected, but Blake could read the pain behind them. Avon was in agony. He turned to Travis.

"Why are you doing this? What do you hope to gain by hurting him?"

Travis smiled.

"That should be obvious, Blake. Your cell was monitored, your affection noted. Your own death would mean little to you. His obviously means a great deal. And I like to watch you hurt, Blake."

The rebel closed his eyes against the mocking face of his enemy. It was his fault Avon was suffering. Travis was only hurting Avon to get to him. And there was nothing Blake could do to prevent it. At least you fell where there are few snakes. And you're wearing leather... but poison... Blake shuddered at the unwelcome and frightening thought.

"How touching. Blake. Your devotion to your crew. But then he is more than just a shipmate, is he not?"

Blake glared back, refusing to further entertain his tormentor. Travis eyed him speculatively.

"I could speed things up. A laser blast would excite the snakes, I think. One bite and the suspense would be over."

Blake bit his lip, tasting the bitter salt-tang of blood.

"Or I could give you a chance, Blake. A chance to save your friend from such a painful demise.

Travis voice was mocking but the rebel could not stop himself. "How?"

You could enter the pit, Blake. If you can rescue him before he is bitten, his death will be quick. If not... you can die together, painfully. The choice is yours."

Blake's mind raced. Could he do it? He looked over the edge, at the dark figure curled against the wall. Avon was shaking his head. But it was possible, if he could avoid the snakes himself. The thought of watching the comp tech dying in agony was too painful to consider. There really was no choice. And Travis had known that. Blake turned a gaze worthy of Avon himself on Travis. Cold fury radiated off him as he looked scornfully down at the space commander.

"You knew I would agree."

"Yes. I did. Guards, release him."

The mutoids restraining the rebel stepped back, allowing him access to the pit. He peered over, seeking the best means of descent. How best to get to Avon without disturbing the snakes. If one were to bite the tech... Blake'shivered, kneeling at the edge. A hand clamped down hard on his neck, tightening to the point of pain.

"Worried, Blake? You should be."

With those sharp words, Travis threw his weight against the rebel's back, shoving him over the edge. Blake tumbled down in a hail of stones, rolling until he smacked into a large boulder near the centre of the pit. Raising his head, he damned himself for being such a fool. He should have expected Travis to try something. He placed one hand down to steady himself as the dust settled. A sharp pain raced up his arm from his hand. Damn! He yanked his hand back, clasping it to his chest, staring at the unmistakable bite.

"No," he whispered, fear colouring his voice.

"Blake?" Avon's voice called out.

The rebel turned towards the voice, his heart denying what his senses told him. He would not be able to save Avon from a slow death and the tech would be forced to watch Blake die first. Avon registered the despair in the rebel's eyes almost before he noticed the way he was clutching his hand.

"No. You can't die. Not like this."

Blake closed his eyes against the other man's pain and against Travis's laughter. He smiled down on them, a gruesome deaths-head.

"Goodbye, Blake. I'll be back for the bodies."


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