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With this ring

By Julia Stamford
Page 1 of 6

Another restless night, although this one was just insomnia, thank God, not nightmares. Blake decided to stop twisting the bedclothes around himself, and do something more useful. A cup of hot milk might settle him. Preferably a cup of hot milk spiked with something such as chocolate.

He crawled out of bed, fumbled for his slippers, headed for the galley without bothering with his dressing gown. It wasn't as if he needed it on a climate-controlled ship, it was just force of habit from times spent on colony worlds, and his pyjamas were perfectly adequate as far as modesty went.

A few minutes work gave him a mug of hot milk, the warmth seeping through the ceramic to soothe his hands. The milk smelt good on its own, and better with a spoonful of chocolate. Another spoonful wouldn't hurt, though...

"Can't sleep?"

Blake jumped at the sound of Avon's voice, sending the contents of his mug down the front of his clothing. The scalding contents of his mug. He jumped again, yelping in pain.

"I didn't mean to startle you. Let me help." Avon's hands were on him, turning him to face Avon. "Get these clothes off, before the scalds get any worse."

Avon was tugging at his pyjama trousers, trying to get them off. Blake had no intention of letting Avon do so. The pain wasn't that bad, and the scalds would be temporary, easily healed in the medical unit. Avon's reaction if he managed to get the trousers off might be another matter.

"Blake, I'm trying to help!" Avon tugged at his hands, uncaring that they were both getting the hot milk on their hands. "That's the last place you want a scald!"

There was the sound of ripping cloth, then blessed coolness as Avon dumped a mug of cold water over him. Another mug, and another, leaving Blake, his clothing and the floor decidedly wet. He was too relieved to resist as Avon made another attempt to pull the trousers off him, kneeling in front of him and pulling at the trouser legs.

"Just step out of them, Blake."

He did so. Then Avon stood up, and ripped Blake's top off, buttons flying, leaving him nude. He tried to cover his genitals with his hands.

"This maidenly modesty is very charming, I'm sure, Blake, but why so shy? You could have been badly hurt by that, the sooner the hot liquid was off you, the better." Another mug of water, this time over his chest, running down to bring relief to the entire area. Then Avon paused, looked around, and grabbed a clean tablecloth, which he dunked in cold water before draping it over Blake's front.

"That should help cool the burns while we go to the medical unit. Come on."

Blake muttered, "Yes, nurse," as Avon steered him towards the door. Avon had evidently decided to take charge of his treatment. How the hell was he going to get rid of him once they reached the medical unit?

At least they didn't meet anyone in the corridor. He had no wish to explain what he was doing wearing nothing but a soaking wet tablecloth, being dragged along by a rather damp Avon. He entered the medical unit with a mixture of relief and trepidation, out of one problem and back to another.

"Avon, thank you for your help, but I can manage by myself now."

"You have never been able to manage by yourself, as you frequently demonstrate. Sit on the bed." Avon punctuated his command with a shove, leaving Blake stumbling back so that he had no choice but to sit as instructed. He sat and watched as Avon rummaged quickly in the cupboards, trying to ignore the growing pain in the scalded area. Then Avon returned with the burns dressings.

"These will stop the burns getting any worse from residual heat while I examine you. I'll get them on you first, then do a more thorough scan." Avon twitched away the tablecloth before he had a chance to protest.

"I'll do it, Avon." One last try...

"I don't understand why you're so bothered. Are you that worried about me handling your genitals?" Avon gently lifted the most prominent part of the appendage in question, deftly sliding a dressing under it. Then stopped, stared. It might even be worth the embarrassment to have seen the look on Avon's face, the utter dumbfoundment.

"Never seen a cock before, Avon?"

"Cocks, yes. That, no."

"You're supposed to be bandaging it, not admiring it."

Avon blinked, went back to his usual bland expression. With some difficulty, as Blake took pleasure in noting.

"It will have to come out. The...scalded area...is going to swell, and anything constricting has to be removed. Including piercing jewellery."

"So take it out. You seem comfortable enough handling my intimate bits."

Avon swallowed noticeably.

"I don't know how."

He gave a put upon sigh. "All right, I'll do it." He pulled Avon's hands out of the way, unclipped his Prince Albert. Thank God he'd gone for practicality, and normally wore a ring that could be removed easily. The piercing ran from the hole in the tip down to just behind the rim of his cockhead, well away from the worst of the scald, but even the head was sensitive. A piercing any further back would have been agony to handle by now.

He dropped the ring into Avon's hand. "Put it somewhere safe, I don't want to lose it. And I don't have any pockets at the moment, thanks to your zealous first aid."

Avon stared at the small gold ring, then, with an utterly blank face, wiped it on a trailing piece of bandage and slipped it into one of his pockets before resuming his self-imposed task of bandaging Blake. The conversation thereafter consisted entirely of "Ouch" and "Is that more comfortable?" and similar pleasantries, before Blake was placed under the diagnostic scanner.

"According to this, the best course of treatment is to keep those bandages on for a few days. They will be slower than one of the normal healing pads, but there should be no risk of the nerves scarring as they grow back. The healing pads are more suited to injuries where the nerves are undamaged or cleanly cut." Avon paused, then went on, "You will need the bandages changed daily. Can you manage on your own, or will you require my help?"

"Your help? I should have thought that Cally or Gan were a better option. Since when have you had a burning desire to play Florence Nightingale?"

"I don't. You, however, appeared to have a burning desire not to display your... charming idiosyncrasy, and I already know about it..."

True enough.

"You don't plan on broadcasting it to the world at large, then?" he asked. That would be one minor relief.

"No. I found out by accident, when you injured yourself through my doing."

"And that peculiar moral code of yours won't let you feel comfortable taking advantage of it to humiliate me." Avon ignored the comment, which was answer in itself. "Would you get my dressing gown for me? I don't want to go wandering around the corridors naked."

Avon finally shed the blank mask, a touch of malicious humour appearing around his eyes.

"It would be so bad for crew morale. Especially Jenna's."

"Seeing me naked, or seeing me bandaged? This particular bit of me bandaged."

Avon laughed at him before saying, "I'll get your dressing gown. Such little dignity as you have will be protected."

He was left alone for a few minutes, a chance to ponder Avon's reactions. Such as they were. Avon the mystery apparently had no sex drive, at least according to the evidence so far. On the London it had been understandable, but they had been on the Liberator for some weeks now. Yet the dark mutterings he'd occasionally overheard when the women thought themselves out of male earshot suggested that Avon had never followed up on his evident admiration of the female form. Gan was probably too much of a gentleman to discuss his sex partners, but Vila would have been shouting it from the rooftops. Probably. There was more to Vila than met the eye.

As for how Avon felt about Blake... well, Avon made no secret of some of his feelings. Blake hadn't tried to pry into the ones not usually in display, fearful that it would be seen as an unacceptable invasion. Avon obviously cared, and just as obviously wasn't going to admit it. That incident in the sub-control room a couple of weeks ago, when Avon had risked himself to save Blake from the bomb Cally had planted while under the influence of the Lost, had displayed both aspects very well.

Blake had decided to leave well enough alone. He thought Avon was sexually as well as emotionally attracted, but pressing the issue would only make the man run away. Best to play a waiting game, wait for a chance to see a more explicit reaction to him.

His accident had certainly provided that, if somewhat painfully. And what had it gained him?

Avon had appeared indifferent to the chance of handling his cock, although that seemed to be due to concern for his injuries overriding any other interest in it. Genuinely startled to find Blake was not quite as sexually unsophisticated as the stereotype of an engineer would suggest. And apparently as unwilling to pry into other people's private lives as he thought other people should be to pry into his. Not a huge gain. Still, the bandaging duty would provide more opportunity. Just a pity that he wouldn't be in a fit state to enjoy having Avon's hands on his cock. In fact, he'd better stop thinking in this direction, because an erection was likely to be bloody painful.

He stood up, tentatively, testing how easily he could walk. Not too bad, the healing gel on the dressings numbed any pain. Avon returned with the dressing gown before he had a chance to sit down again.

"Hold your arms out," Avon said, holding out the dressing gown.

He did so, surprised by Avon dressing him, but quite happy to enjoy the attention. Decently covered, he was willing to face the world. They walked down the corridor in companionable silence. He paused at the door, asked, "Would you mind fetching me another drink? I was having trouble sleeping anyway, I don't suppose it'll be any easier now."

"Hot chocolate again? Would you like some brandy in it as well?" Avon asked.

He thought about it. He tried not to use alcohol as a sleeping drug, too easy to become dependent on it, but occasional use when justified probably wouldn't hurt.

"Please."

"I'll be a few minutes."

Avon was true to his word. Five minutes later, Blake was presented with a mug of hot milk, laced with chocolate and brandy.

"I heated it thoroughly, then chilled it slightly. It should be cool enough to drink."

"Thank you."

"Get some sleep, Blake," was all Avon said before leaving the room. Too late, Blake remembered that Avon still had his Prince Albert. Well, it should be safe enough. Avon was hardly likely to take it for his own use, judging by his reaction to it. Blake smiled to himself at the sudden vision of Avon wearing nothing but a gold ring in the tip of his penis. Nice idea, but he'd better forget about it, at least until these bandages came off. He'd especially better forget the bit of the vision showing a delicate but unbreakable chain from the ring to the wall above his bed...

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