To Trust a FriendBy Catherine
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A quiet `night' on Liberator, Avon relaxed momentarily, stretching his stiff back as he moved away from his computer station.
"Liberator is traveling at Standard by Two, on a heading directly away from Federation space. All functions are normal. Status is firm."
"Thank you, Zen."
Believing himself unobserved, Avon allowed a smile to grace his lips. I fear Blake's anthropomorphizing is contagious, he chided himself. Being polite to a computer! Next, I'll be calling Zen `he.'
Avon spun round, caught by surprise, to see a smug blonde pilot standing by the flight controls.
"Surprised? It is, after all, my watch, Avon." Jenna spoke smoothly, pleased to have startled the perennially suspicious comp tech.
Avon reined in his temper. You won't trap me that easily, Jenna. Your animosity is showing, and whether you admit it or not, know the cause. Simple jealousy. He decided on a tactful retreat.
"I hope you enjoy it as much as I did mine." Avon's voice was silky and a predatory smile flashed across his face as he brushed by Jenna. "By the way, have you seen Blake?"
Feigning innocence, he was secretly delighted at the angry flush that his words brought to the woman's cheeks.
"No," she returned. "He said that he was tired. He's probably asleep."
Jenna turned away from Avon's pointed stare.
Jenna's head jerked up to watch him leave and Avon thought, If looks could kill... She's so besotted and Blake so obviously doesn't notice. He shook his head in bemusement. How can you be so stupid, Blake? Unless... A stray thought invaded Avon's orderly train. Unless, you are simply not interested? Now there is an intriguing concept. If Jenna is not what you need, then who amongst your crew is? Avon slowed his progress, lost in chasing down his theory.
Cally? The dark-haired man felt a twinge of jealousy which he ruthlessly cut down. No, she was too alien. An idealist but too invasive. He absently rubbed his hands. Gan then? Or Vila? Gan was certainly Blake's physical equal, Avon thought with a flicker of desire. But mentally... Probably not. Blake seemed to want an intellectual challenge as well. Perhaps Vila... oh, he was quick and had a sharp wit but he followed Blake with too much devotion. The thief was a coward at heart and Blake could be vicious when defending his beloved cause.
Avon stopped his musings when he noticed where his wandering had taken him. There he was, contemplating Blake's sex life, outside Blake's cabin.
This is ridiculous.
Avon strode off down the corridor to his own quarters, locking the door behind him with a sense of relief. He contemplated removing his clothes but that brought on thoughts of Blake again. Disgusted with his lack of control, Avon laid down and tried to relax.
Unfortunately, as soon as his eyes drifted shut, he was confronted by the image of a sleeping Blake. Avon sighed. All right. Follow through the idea and maybe it will go away. He let the vision of Blake fill his mind. The burly rebel was sound asleep, sprawled on his back, one arm out flung, the other pulled tight to his chest. Avon felt his breath quicken. Blake's smooth skin glistened as his chest rose and fell. Avon's dream-gaze shifted to where the bed sheets pulled tight across Blake's hips.
"Damn," Avon gasped, sitting up abruptly. He was sweating profusely and he was so hard that the ache was unbearable. With a muttered curse about "Bleeding-heart rebels that were too sensual for their own good," Avon got up. Yanking his clothes off, he stepped into the shower. As the cold water sprayed over his too-hot body his tension eased, leaving him relatively comfortable but unsatisfied. Drying himself off, he eyed the bed distastefully. I think not. Tossing the towel into the recycling chute, he reached for fresh clothes. Sealing the shoulder clasp, he decided on a trip to the galley. Perhaps a hot drink would help here... It certainly was preferable to lying here... To thinking about him. Avon took a deep calming breath. Releasing the privacy lock, he left his cabin and headed for the galley.
Passing by Blake's quarters again, Avon slowed his pace. Perhaps Blake wasn't sleeping. He might be willing to join him for an early breakfast. An argument with Blake would surely relieve my frustration. It is never hard to goad him and I'll feel better even if doesn't. Avon stopped. Selfishly preparing to disturb the sleeping rebel but before he could request admittance, a choked-off scream pierced the silence of the corridor. Blake! It was unmistakably Blake's voice. Without thinking, Avon entered the unlocked cabin. What he saw stopped him in his tracks. Blake was thrashing around on the bed as though struggling against imaginary bonds. He was obviously in the grip of some horrible nightmare. Beaded in sweat, tears tracking down his cheeks, he continued to struggle. Avon approached cautiously.
The rebel muttered, giving no sign that he heard Avon who was concerned. Avon moved to his side, sitting on the bed and reaching for the other man's hands.
Gods, this is awful. What did they do to you, Blake? To reduce you to this.
"Relax, Blake. It will be all right. You are not alone anymore." Avon spoke softly, soothingly, trying to calm the half-conscious rebel.
"I won't... can't... please, no..."
Blake's words were gasped out, all his natural authority gone. They were the words of a frightened child.
Avon spoke quietly but firmly, tightening his grip. Suddenly, Blake jerked away, his face contorting as though in agony.
"Nooo!" His scream was horrible, painful to hear, that of a man driven beyond all endurance. Avon's eyes went wide in shock.
"Stop it, Blake," he shouted, shaking the larger man roughly. When Blake, whose eyes were now as wide as Avon's, still looked blank, Avon slapped him hard across the cheek. Blake cried out, raising a hand to protect his face. Avon sat still, breathing heavily. What have I done? He looked down at his delicate, sensitive hands, clenching them tightly.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to do that."
Avon watched as Blake peered up. His eyes were clear, if confused, but he quickly looked away.
"What are you doing here, Avon?"
Avon felt his face flush.
"I was on my way to the galley and I heard you call out." Blake appeared about to comment but then he shivered and glanced away. Avon was decidedly uncomfortable. Yet, he didn't want to leave Blake alone. If he were honest with himself he would have to admit that he cared for the man. His feelings were not simply those of lust. If our roles were reversed now, Blake, what would you do? Try and comfort me?
The rebel stared up in surprise at Avon's tentative tone.
"Do you want to tell me about it?"
Avon's voice was soft, without his usual sarcasm and it clearly left Blake confused. Dark eyes watched as Blake wavered, the emotional toll telling on his face.
"Avon?" The rest of the words came out in a husky rush. "Can you please just hold me?"
The helplessness of Blake's request tugged at Avon's heart and, knowing he would probably regret it, still he pulled the larger man into a chaste embrace. Blake returned Avon's hold with desperation, burying his face in his friend's shoulder. His big frame shook and he trembled in Avon's grasp, causing Avon to tighten his grip.
"You are safe here, Blake. Relax."
Avon rubbed his hands gently across the broad back, comforting as best he could, pleased when the tremors stilled. This is getting a little uncomfortable, thought Avon. Holding Blake this tightly... and his skin so smooth and... Avon tried hard to clamp down on his rising desire. Not now! Blake needed comfort not sex. Blake pulled back and Avon sighed in relief.
"I'm sorry, Avon. I realize that you..."
"Shh." Avon placed two fingers against Blake's lips. "You don't need to apologize."
Blake's eyes were bright with astonishment. Avon being nice?
"It was the conditioning." Avon's voice was gentle, not his usual demanding tone, and Blake responded gratefully.
"Yes. I keep remembering... when they took my memories..."
Blake stopped, bowing his head, fighting for control. Avon's hand snaked out and captured his chin, tilting Blake's head until their eyes met.
I understand, Roj. You don't need to go on."
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