Jenna smiled, careful to keep it secret. For a moment she had thought that Avon might explode, finally, and hit out at Blake. And Blake...well, he was at his most high handed at the moment, and in that mood even his closest friends found him all but intolerable. What Avon though she didn't like to consider.
She checked her station, correcting a tiny error as she did so. The ship was in a geo-stationary orbit around a small planet listed on the star maps as Nada VII. She had a few minutes before meeting Blake and Avon in the teleport bay, for they were to go down to the surface, she had agreed to operate the controls. The memory of Avon's face when Blake had told him about the encryption key made her smile again.
It seemed that Nada VII was home to a Federation base, an "Implementation and Strategy" centre and following a meeting with other rebel leaders Blake had decided that the encryption key, a computer control for the Federation's newest brand of cyphers, was necessary to the success of the rebellion and that they would be the ones to get it. Avon had not been impressed with this, though whether it had been the bearer or the tidings which had annoyed him she was uncertain.
In the teleport bay Jenna surprised both Gan and Vila engaged on something she couldn't quite see. From the way they both looked at her she gathered that it had very little to do with the mission.
Blake arrived a moment later, looking around for Avon.
"Nice suit," commented Jenna. Their leader was attired in a splendidly embroidered jacket, dark but otherwise reminiscent of that of a first-calendar seventeenth century beau whose picture she had once seen in a forbidden book. Under the jacket he was wearing mercifully plain trousers and a light shirt.
"Yes," said Blake, though from his tone of voice he wasn't at all sure this was a compliment. He stood by the rack of bracelets tapping his fingers, impatient to leave.
The pilot had been looking at the teleport controls setting the co-ordinates and at first didn't notice that Avon had arrived. Her attention once having been caught by the sudden stillness around her she looked up, then gave vent to a low whistle. Avon looked splendid. He had never been her ideal man, but she had to admit that dressed as he was he looked wonderful. He was wearing a short white jacket, rather like a bolero, that didn't quite reach his waist; this fastened at the front with a length of gold chain and was almost skin tight. The trousers were also white, very full in style and made of a thin light cloth with a gold thread running through it, and which flowed
around him. By looking carefully Jenna could just make out that Avon was not wearing any underwear.
The look Avon gave her in response to her ogling would have made a weaker woman shrivel on the spot, but Jenna grinned at him lecherously. She wasn't the only one, the same look of astonished lust she could sense must be on her face was on the face of every other member of theLiberator'screw with the exception of Blake, who as far as she could tell hadn't even noticed.
"What are you all looking at?" Avon demanded, impatiently. Jenna saw for the first time that each of his arms was adorned with several bracelets which jangled as he moved, and as he turned she saw that the reason he'd been fiddling with one ear as he came down the steps was that it now held a pearl drop earring.
"Nothing Avon," Jenna pulled herself together. "Teleport co-ordinates are set."
"Thank you, Jenna," Blake came forward. "Ready, Avon?"
"As ready as I'll ever be," replied the tech, sourly.
Almost immediately Blake reported that they were, "Down and safe," and Jenna stood up.
"Did you see that suit Avon was wearing?" asked Vila in a tone of awed surprise.
"One could hardly miss it," replied Jenna, austerely.
"I'd love to know what happens down there, wouldn't you?"
Jenna gave the thief a long cool look. "I can guess," she replied, "Avon'll kill Blake before they're done, and I can live without seeing that."
Their place and time of arrival had been chosen to be as inconspicuous as possible and for once they were successful, there was no-one in the alleyway.
Blake reported in almost absently, looking at Avon as he did so, as if for the first time.
"Where do we have to go?" asked Avon, all practicality. Then he saw Blake's expression. "What's the matter with you?"
"Avon, you're beautiful."
"Don't be absurd, Blake. Men aren't 'beautiful'."
"You are," Blake said, stubbornly.
"I'm not," Avon's tone was flat, decided. "Men are handsome, or distinguished. They are not beautiful."
"You're not standing where I'm standing," replied Blake, tolerantly.
Avon suspected mockery, or worse, but looking at Blake all he could see was admiration. He felt his face heat, something that had not happened to him for years. "Let's get on with it, then, shall we?"
Silently Blake led the way out and through the city to the Strategy Centre. Avon followed a few paces behind, keeping a lookout for Federation forces as he did so. He saw nothing until they drew quite close to the centre. There they were stopped by two helmeted guards.
"Sorry, sir." One of the guards spoke to Blake, and Avon drew back a little wanting to be in a good position to make a run for it. He smiled slightly, he had never before heard such polite guards. "You can't come any closer to the installation, as you know. You'll have to go back."
"Oh, sorry officer." Blake backed away and Avon followed him.
"What was the point of that?" asked Avon.
"Orac suggested I test the strength of the guard before I made any firm decisions," replied Blake. "It's not been unknown for the information on Federation computers to be deliberately falsified,
as you know."
"Thank you for telling me your plans," said Avon, sarcastic.
"What do we do now?"
"For what, exactly? Isn't it about time you told me what is going on?"
"We're going to wait for one of the local rebels to make contact." Blake explained.
"Oh?" Avon sounded disbelieving.
"It's something Orac has set up."
"Oh, wonderful." It seemed the tech was unimpressed. "A crackpot plan you and Orac have come up with. I might as well dig my grave now."
The walk back to the town wasn't long, which was just as well, for Avon's temper was nearing boiling point. Blake led the way up a broad thoroughfare, obviously the main street. It seemed that strangers were unusual, for they were the recipients of several curious stares.
At intervals there were roadside cafes, tables and chairs spilling onto the street and Blake picked one of these at random and wandered in. Long-suffering, Avon followed him. A casual glance at the menu as they entered showed Avon that this place must cater to the more exclusive elements of Naadine society, the prices were very high, and he hoped that Blake had remembered to bring local money because he hadn't been able to. There were pockets in his curious costume, but
not ones suitable for carrying cash.
Delayed by this he found Blake had gone quite a way ahead; he was about to follow him when someone came up behind and patted him on the left buttock. Avon turned, expecting some sort of attack, but the man said, "Hello, gorgeous! What's a pretty thing like you doing here alone then, eh?"
Avon, taken aback by the unexpected remark couldn't think of a thing to say, so he simply stared. "He's with me," said Blake, decisively, returning. Then, to Avon, "Come along."
Before Avon could go, the stranger patted his face. "You should be more careful, pretty. You could be in danger." Avon glared at him, his anger showing, but the man just laughed.
The cafe was quite busy, but not so much so that Blake wasn't able to find an unoccupied table and sit down. Avon sat opposite him and looked around at the other people sitting and chatting in animated groups. He hardly had time to do this before a waiter joined them and handed Blake a menu. Avon waited to be offered on as well, but after a few moments realised this wasn't going to happen. He looked at the waiter with what he hoped was a meaningful expression but the man simply smiled down at him as if to an idiot child, and left Blake to his perusal of his menu.
"I don't think Orac told you everything he knew about the culture here," remarked Avon in as low a tone as he could manage.
"It doesn't seem so," replied Blake, equally quietly.
The waiter returned after a few moments with pad and stylus in hand. "What would you like, sir?" He addressed the remark exclusively to Blake.
"Altair water, and a sandwich. Beef I think. You?" he asked Avon.
"The same," replied Avon, without thinking. He had noticed the look of surprise on the waiter's face when he was addressed.
"As you wish, sir." The waiter wrote with an air that said more effectively than words ever could that he wished the order had been longer and more expensive.
Their order wasn't long in coming, and when it did it was all placed in front of Blake, leaving him to push Avon's share over to him. Avon wasn't accustomed to being ignored in pavement cafes and his annoyance was obvious. "It's very odd," he said after some moments, choosing his words with care, controlling his tamper.
"Yes," agreed Blake. "But I think we are the odd thing here."
As casually as he could Avon looked round the cafe again. The glance showed him something he had noticed before, subliminally, but had failed to understand. Everyone in the cafe was part of a couple; one a tall figure dressed in the ornate style Orac had the ship's fabricators supply for Blake, and a smaller, slighter companion dressed rather as Avon was, and all of these were wearing earrings of some kind, often as in his case, pearls. In every case the companion was maintaining a demure look, and not one was daring to say a word, the murmur of conversation came from the taller of the pair, usually to another similarly clad.
Blake had also been looking around, and as their looks collided two and two made if not four, at least three and a half. "So, that's what Orac didn't tell us," murmured Avon.
Blake could see that Avon was planning hideous vengeance.
"Before you tear Orac apart circuit by circuit we have to get that encryption key," he said, as calmly as he could.
"We can't sit here all day drinking this slop," Avon's tone said he wouldn't sit there a moment longer than necessary, "we'll have to go back to the ship."
"Not yet. We have to make contact with the local rebel, the meeting has already been set up." On looking round the cafe Blake had clearly seen that Avon was quite the prettiest there, and he was
basking in the unaccustomed envy of others. It seemed, however, that Avon was unaware of the speculative looks his beauty drew.
As soon as it was clear they could no longer sit in the cafe nursing their Altair water, Blake paid the bill. As he did so, Avon stood and turned to leave, meaning to be the first out. There was a
collective indrawn breath from many of the other customers, and Blake murmured, "Actually, I think I'm meant to do that."
Controlling himself with an obvious effort Avon stood aside to let Blake past, and was thus able to hear one of the diners comment to another: "He's awfully pretty, but not at all well trained. I'd
have slapped mine for that." Avon's teeth clicked together with an audible snap - at least Blake heard it - for he turned to Avon with what was meant to be a sympathetic smile. He looked instead as if he was enjoying himself immensely.
With Blake in front and Avon a pace behind, as they had gathered was the custom, they strolled down the street once again. Without warning they were stopped, and a tall, commanding-looking man greeted Blake with a totally disconcerting hug and a kiss. He seemed concerned at Blake's total non-comprehension for he said, "Lemmare? Surely you can't have forgotten that historical seminar? Three seasons ago?"
"No, of course not," said Blake. Behind him Avon groaned, but silently. This was the contact phrase that had been agreed with the local rebel.
"You remember me, I'm Reeva, and this is my companion, Roberto. I've not had him very long. No need to tell me who this is, when we last met you were full of tales of your companion 'Gorgeous'. He is as beautiful as you said, I'm almost envious."
It was clear that holding up his end of the conversation was not going to be a problem for Blake, there was no conversation necessary from him for Reeva did all the talking, but at least it gave
Blake long enough to pull himself together, and when at last there was a pause Blake was able to remark, "I'm glad to see you again, Reeva."
"Where are you staying?" Reeva asked, and before Blake could answer he was off again, "Not that it matters. No, I won't take no for an answer, you're staying with me. Come on, boys," this last remark was addressed over his shoulder and clearly meant for Avon and Roberto. "No need to thank me, my pleasure. After all we've a lot of old times to catch up on."
"Er...yes," said Blake, at last able to get a word in edgewise. They changed direction to walk down a side street.
Roberto turned to Avon. "'Gorgeous'?" he spoke very quietly.
"Is that really your name? Well, it suits you," he added, generously.
"Have you been with him long?" he nodded towards Blake.
Avon was surprised into something approaching the truth. "It feels like all my life."
"Shhh! They'll hear us, you know we're not supposed to talk in the street."
Avon stared at Roberto in blank astonishment, but at that moment Reeva also looked round, "Now, boys," he said, stern but indulgent, "we're still in public."
Roberto giggled, but fell obediently silent. It lasted almost three minutes. "Your master's very handsome, isn't he?" he asked.
"You're very lucky." Avon made no reply, it seemed the safest.
Reeva was chatting to Blake as if they were the old friends he had claimed that they were, and occasionally Blake replied. Avon watched with satisfaction, it seemed that the rebel was getting his just deserts at last.
He was surprised to find that Reeva's town house was a very impressive structure indeed. It was tall, well set back from the road, and surrounded by trees which smelled lovely and from which could be heard the chattering of birds. As they entered a flunky bowed, and Reeva stopped. "Doorman, this is my guest, Lemmare," the flunky bowed again, "and this is Gorgeous. See that they are well looked after, and inform the rest of the staff." The doorman bowed his understanding.
As soon as they were indoors Roberto fussed around his master, making sure he was sitting comfortably and had a drink to hand, then kneeling to remove his shoes. Avon stared in disbelief, his delay causing Reeva to look at him in some surprise until at last, with a smile pinned to his face, he did the same for Blake.
This done, Reeva looked up at Roberto, "Take Gorgeous and help him prepare his master's rooms. Run along now, both of you."
Roberto gave his signature giggle and skipped out, followed by Avon. As soon as they were alone he fingered Avon's hair; it was clear he had been wanting to do this for some time. "Lovely," he
commented. "So soft, you must tell me what you use. Oh, it's not perfumed. Doesn't he like perfume on you?"
Avon replied without thinking. "I don't care what he likes!"
Roberto stepped back, almost as if he had been struck. "Oh! Oh, you can't mean that." He spoke as if coming to a decision. "My master bought me some new perfume, you can try it if you like."
By now they had reached the guest room. Looking round Avon was dismayed to find it had but one bed, albeit very large and comfortable looking.
"Aren't these rooms just to die for?" Roberto asked.
"Very pretty," Avon agreed, deadpan. Inside, hysteria threatened, the colour scheme was steel grey and ashes of roses, and the woodwork appeared to be stripped pine, polished to a high shine.
"There's a lovely bathroom," twittered Roberto, not seeming to know what to make of Avon's shuttered expression. "And there's heaps of clothes in the closet, use whatever you like. Master always has friends staying."
The bathroom was much more to Avon's taste, a severely masculine midnight blue and white, though he could have dispensed with the many bottles of potions and lotions.
"Oh, Bobby..." Reeva's voice was heard down the hall.
Roberto giggled again, and Avon winced. "Duty calls," he said. "I'll leave you to get ready for yours, and I'll see you in the morning." He skipped out in a cloud of silk and oppressive perfume.
It was then Avon noticed a diaphanous garment laid across the bottom of the bed. He picked it up and surveyed it suspiciously. Doubtlessly it was bedwear, and it was definitely a negligee. "Not in
a million years," said Avon, out loud.
"Not in a million years what?" asked Blake, from behind him.
Avon whirled, all flashing eyes and temper, and was pulled into a bearhug. "Not now, Avon," Blake murmured into the nearest available ear. "Has it occurred to you that we may be watched? I can't guarantee that we're among friends, after all this is something Orac set up."
Avon countered with: "Has it occurred to you that I'm going to kill you for this when we get back?"
Blake released him. "It had," he said, smiling a little crookedly. Blake started to undress. Seeing Avon hadn't followed his example he said, "Come on, Gorgeous, we can't do anything more tonight, get ready for bed." Avon kept his face together with an effort of will and keeping his gaze strictly above shoulder height, complied silently. "Here, put this on," Blake handed him the negligee. He smiled, but his eyes were serious, and after a timeless moment Avon shrugged and took it from him.
Once he was ready Blake eyed him from head to toe, lingering on his groin for a moment. Avon gritted his teeth, and Blake held one hand out in a gesture of acceptance and understanding. "You really are beautiful, you know," he said, softly. Avon murmured something unintelligible, obviously embarrassed by the remark.
Blake spoke out loud, clearly for the benefit of anyone who might be listening. "Just a cuddle tonight, Gorgeous, then some sleep. I'm very tired."
It had been more than twenty years since Avon had last been cuddled by anyone or anything; it was clear that Blake had more practise for he was very good at it. Avon did not - quite - cuddle back.
In the morning Avon made a horrific discovery; Reeva had planned a luncheon party at which Blake was now to be an honoured guest. He only hoped Lemmare was not widely known, otherwise they might have some uncomfortable explaining to do.
Roberto had been as good as his word, and had insisted on drenching Avon from head to toe with a chypre-like scent. He seemed pleased by the effect. Avon was not. Roberto had clearly decided to take Avon under his wing and had also insisted on helping him to dress, and once he had done so Blake had added insult to injury by emitting a low whistle of appreciation at the result. "If you say I'm beautiful once more, I'll do something you'll regret," Avon had warned him in the end. Since then Blake had kept quiet, but that hadn't stopped him looking.
Avon followed Blake into a large dining area, a lovely room with huge floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto a charming lake, but neither had much time to admire the view. Blake's attention was claimed almost at once by several other guests, all eager to be introduced to Reeva's distinguished-looking visitor.
They quickly became separated, Avon surrounded by a gaggle of giggling companions, these swapped recipies and exclaimed over one-another's hair, clothes and grooming. "That's a lovely perfume, Roberto," commented one, a blonde who had been introduced as Mina.
Roberto preened, "Yes, it is, isn't it? I've lent some to Gorgeous here. You know, he said he didn't care whether his master liked him perfumed or not. Isn't that strange?"
"Yes, very." Mina gave Avon a long cool stare, totally at odds with her previous mien of giggling idiocy. Under cover of the others prattling conversation she watched Avon for some minutes,
finally pulling him a little way out of the group. "I don't know who you are, or who he is, or what you were doing there, though I can guess, and I know it's none of my business, but if you don't improve your performance quickly others will guess that you aren't who you claim to be."
"I don't know what you mean." Avon's reaction was stifled quickly, but not quickly enough.
"We aren't all empty headed tarts like Roberto," she said, and turned to join the others animated discussion of the merits of silk over cotton sheets for warm nights.
Thus alone, Avon was able to consider the truth of Mina's accusation. The situation was both ludicrous and degrading, but this was a Federation planet and they were literally in mortal danger if they were found out. He decided that if he had anything to do with it they'd get out alive and undetected, and that he would deal with the consequences later. He studied Roberto and the others for some time, then went to stand with Blake.
Blake was somewhat surprised to find his hand taken in both of Avon's and then to feel Avon's head come to rest comfortably on the hollow of his shoulder. However he continued with his conversation, hardly missing a beat, and no-one seemed to find Avon's behaviour remarkable in any way. It was in fact common for companions to seek their master's touch and Roberto was being passionately kissed by Reeva, and none present raised so much as an eyebrow.
Hoping that his movements had silenced any speculation Avon raised his head and asked, "Can I get you something to eat, dearest?"
"Oh. Yes..thanks," replied Blake, nonplussed. Avon hugging him he could cope with, this was something entirely new.
Avon minced over to the buffet table swinging his hips provocatively. Blake had to admit that Avon had very sexy hips, and taking a quick look round he realised he wasn't the only one who
thought so. "He is gorgeous," remarked one of the others, thoughtfully.
"Yes, he is, isn't he?" replied Blake, with no irony whatsoever.
Avon returned with a plate of food, and stood holding it. Blake automatically selected one of the pastries and put it in his mouth. One bite was enough to tell him it was a mixture of cheese and
broccoli, both of which Blake detested, as Avon very well knew.
Blake just managed to swallow the vile stuff without gagging, something else Avon very well knew if the gleam in his eye was anything to go by. "Would you like some more?" Avon asked, sweetly.
"No, thank you, Gorgeous, I've had quite enough." Blake gave his 'companion' an equally sweet smile in return. He turned back to the conversation.
Avon put the plate down and followed Blake, taking his hand once again. Taking his lead from Roberto he played with the hand, swinging it and fiddling with the fingers. While doing so he noticed for the first time what nice hands Blake had; strong, capable, manly hands. Engineers hands.
As the luncheon drew to a close the conversation turned to a reception the Federation were to hold inside the Strategy Centre on the following day. Concealing his excitement as best he could, Blake tried to get more details. The result was even better than he had hoped; he, and from what he understood the invitation would automatically include his companion, were invited to accompany them.
It seemed Reeva was actually giving one of the speeches at the meeting, it became clear that their host was connected with the planetary government, it turned out that he held the liaison portfolio
with the Federation.
That of course also meant that they had at least another afternoon, evening and night as Reeva's guests, and entertaining though it was to taunt Avon he doubted they could continue to maintain their cover for that length of time, though it was equally clear they would have to.
One by one the guests drifted away. When all had gone Reeva returned to the living area and sat down. Roberto flounced over at once and knelt to bury his head unashamedly in his master's crotch.
Not to be outdone, Blake reached out his hand and drew Avon to sit beside him and allowed his hand to run up and down Avon's inner thigh.
Reeva seemed to drag his mind away from Roberto's attentions with difficulty. "That went well, didn't it?" he commented. "We got you in quite easily after all. I hope tomorrow goes as well, we must get that information if we're ever to get the Federation off this planet."
Avon stole a glance at Blake. Fearless Leader looked as if he had swallowed a large and very spiky fishbone.
"Still," Reeva continued, "we'll leave tomorrow to take care of itself." He looked down at Roberto, "Best we leave these two young things alone, and anyway, I've got plans for you." He swatted the young man on the rump, and Roberto fled up the stairs, laughing.
"Alone at last," said Avon without any inflexion whatsoever.
"Don't start, Avon," replied Blake, testily. "We've until tomorrow to find out what Reeva is up to, and more importantly who he thinks we are."
"You mean he hasn't told you?" asked Avon, aghast.
"He thinks he knows, and anyway it's not the kind of thing you can bring up in casual conversation."
"I wouldn't know," replied Avon, bitterly. "Companions don't speak unless spoken to."
"Reeva's going to be busy for some time," said Blake. "I suggest we use it to find out as much as we can."
"Your first good idea in almost three months," commented Avon, "and..." he looked down at Blake's hand resting on his thigh.
"Oh. Oh, sorry." Blake removed it as if it had been stung.
"Thank you so much," said Avon, sweetly.
As an honoured guest Blake had the run of the house, and of course Avon went unregarded, thus no-one questioned their movements.
Reeva didn't seem to have a private study, the nearest they could find was a library. This was small and cosily furnished, and as well as the usual books had two small computer terminals.
Avon set to at once, but he sat back almost immediately and tutted impatiently. "I'm not familiar with the design of these, they're certainly not typical Federation, and yet they're nothing like
the ones on theLiberator. This is going to take some time.
"Well, do what you can," said Blake. "I'll keep watch." A quick look had shown him that the computers were well beyond his capacity. Half his attention was on the library door, he was listening for footsteps, and the other half on what a lovely picture Avon made bending studiously over the terminal. Blake remembered how it had felt to touch Avon's thigh and wondered how it would feel to touch him skin to skin, to run his fingers up the delicacy of the inside of the leg
and up to the groin.
He watched Avon, deep in concentration, the tip of his tongue sticking a little way out of the corner of his mouth. Blake had never before noticed this mannerism and he found it to be both endearing and shockingly erotic.
It was a long time before Blake heard anything other than the soft sounds Avon's silk-clad body made when he moved. Suddenly he was aware that there was the sound of voices outside the door, Reeva and Roberto, and the door began to open.
Blake, thinking and acting like lightning, grabbed Avon, who yelped with surprise, and flung himself on a convenient chaise. Avon landed on top of Blake, almost winding him. Blake just had time to whisper, "They're coming, be as convincing as you can," and kissed Avon soundly and thoroughly.
Avon squirmed to free himself but was unable to as one of Blake's hands held his head and the other snaked round to hold him close. Avon's struggles ceased as he heard the sound of the door
opening, hearing it clearly for the first time; aware of their audience and the seriousness of the situation he began to respond to Blake's caresses with mechanical expertise.
There was nothing at all mechanical in Blake's reaction to the half naked, softly perfumed body above him. No longer needing to clutch Avon to him he allowed his hands to explore the pliancy that rested snugly against him, the silken garments were a tactile delight, but smoother yet was the warmth and softness of Avon's skin.
"Come here, Roberto," Reeva's voice sounded shockingly loud.
"Isn't that lovely? May we watch?"
Blake freed Avon's lips from the passionate kiss, and for the first time glimpsed real fear in Avon's eyes. With no passion this time, but with great tenderness Blake kissed him again and whispered,
"It will be all right," before pinning a look of decadent hunger on his face and replying, "Of course not, Reeva, it will be our pleasure."
He turned Avon carefully so that his own back was to Reeva and the tech was largely hidden from the curious gaze of the Naadine and his companion. There was little he could do to protect Avon's
dignity, but what he could do he did, making his caresses as gentle as possible and hoping Avon was taking comfort from that. It didn't seem likely, but he tried anyway.
He felt Avon's mouth open against his once more; to start with his reactions were passionate but still mechanical, however as the act continued his expertise was forgotten in the heat of the moment. Blake could feel that Avon was becoming excited against him, his prick pressing through the thin silk of the flowing trousers and against Blake's dark-clad leg. He smiled, this might be easier than he had hoped.
Blake knew he had to give Reeva and Roberto a good show, and hoped that Avon realised it too. He rubbed his hands against the solid wall of Avon's chest, feeling his hardened and excited nipples against his palms, the sensation exciting him in turn, he liked his partner to respond wholeheartedly. He allowed his hand to move down to caress Avon's sides, finally reaching the waistband of his trousers and hooking it with one hand, began to pull them down. Avon's eyes opened and looked up into Blake's with a flicker of alarm, Blake smiled as reassuringly as he could, but continued with his movement, and Avon acquiesced somewhat unwillingly.
Knowing that Avon liked to be kissed, for this had been clear from the start, Blake returned to this, trying to recapture the passion that had been lost. This time he paid careful attention to
Avon's penis, wanting his partner to experience at least some of the pleasure this was giving him.
At long last he felt Avon's arms slide round his neck and back to pull him closer and he moved Avon round so that he was lying partially on his back beneath Blake's weight, still largely invisible
to the watchers. He also felt Avon beginning to reciprocate some of the caresses to his prick, albeit through his trousers, and fumbled with the fastening stripping as completely and as quickly as he could in the circumstances.
The first touch of Avon's long fingers to his engorged organ was all he could have hoped for and more, he could feel the pre-come being smeared over it, fuelling his excitement and groaned, unwillingly. Avon didn't open his eyes, but allowed himself to be moved further onto his back and opened his legs slightly so that Blake could lie between them.
Once there, Blake was careful not to force the pace, he didn't want Avon to get scared now, not when they were so close, though why he wanted this had long since faded in the red haze of his
desire, only to be brought back when he heard either Reeva or Roberto move. It did not appear that Avon had heard the sound for he didn't cease his kisses and Blake had no sensation that his resistance had increased.
Finally judging Avon to be as ready as he was ever going to be Blake positioned his penis and began a long slow penetration, hoping that Reeva and Roberto would be fooled into thinking this was for their benefit, to display his prowess, whereas it was more to allow Avon to accustom himself to the unexpected sensations.
Had Blake known how being given his heart's desire would feel, he might have reconsidered; the tight grip of Avon's most intimate body almost caused him to give way at once and thrust violently, but his self-control held until at last he was at the deepest penetration, where he rested for a moment.
Avon's eyes opened slowly to give Blake a look so uncertain that had Blake seen it in any other circumstances he would never have believed it. Instead he smiled down at Avon reassuringly and began to thrust. The first caused a look of pain to cross Avon's face, and Blake kissed him gently. He would have liked to stop, to say something comforting, but couldn't, not here.
It wasn't long before he felt the pressure of Avon's penis once again, this time between their close pressed bodies, and could see that his loving was drawing pleasure from his partner. Pleased he
thrust harder, faster, and Avon gasped, in rapture Blake hoped, for he didn't dare stop in case the watchers realised that Avon was not as accustomed to this as he should be.
Concentrating so much on his partner's reactions Blake's orgasm came as a surprise to him, and it was even more of a surprise a moment later to feel Avon's pleasure flood between them.
He held Avon close, trying to convey his affection through his touch, knowing himself to be only partially successful, and also knowing that by this act he was giving the man, who he realised would be furiously angry, ammunition to use against him if not sooner then later. He sighed and pulled himself away, reluctantly.
Blake reached for his discarded trousers to cover his nakedness, and saw a still stunned-looking Avon doing the same. Before he could do so, Reeva spoke, "That was quite, quite lovely. Such
passion! Such poetry! No need to be in such a hurry, dear boy." This to Avon. "It was magical, almost as if it was your first time. Is it always like that with him? It would be such a shame if his reactions didn't match his looks, but you've been very lucky - or trained him well, eh? You must have a brandy, you look exhausted and no wonder. It's obvious you love him dearly and who wouldn't? I hope you haven't told him too much..."
Blake broke in at last, he had been dressing, allowing Reeva to talk on as he did so, but he couldn't let that pass. "On the contrary, I tell him everything. I trust..." he only just remembered
in time not to call him 'Avon', "Gorgeous completely." In reply Avon gave Blake one of his patented glares, and Blake smiled lovingly in return. Avon looked down. Blake longed to talk to his partner, to sort things out between them, but Reeva led the way out and he had no excuse to stay.
Roberto flopped down on the chaise beside Avon. "Why did he want to come in here?" he asked, oblivious to the double-entendre. "There's nothing here except mouldy old books and those things," he indicated the computer consoles with a negligent but beautifully manicured hand.
"I've no idea," lied Avon. "He has these fancies, sometimes."
"Oh." He seemed to think for a moment. "I suppose Reeva has his too. Still, we're very lucky in lots of ways."
"They both let us enjoy it too, so many masters just take their pleasure and give the companion none."
"So I understand," Avon was not happy discussing this topic.
"And Lemmare obviously adores you," continued Roberto, "that's not as common as people like to think. Far too often we're just pretty toys. Which reminds me, I'd better be getting along to the
salon. Would you like to come? I know the other would just love to meet you again."
"No...no thank you, I have things to do." Avon hoped he wouldn't be asked what, for he could think of nothing legitimate that needed his attention and might have to waste his afternoon on
conversation with the other 'pretty toys.'
However, Roberto just patted his cheek in a brotherly fashion and wandered out, helpfully shutting the door behind him. At once Avon stood feeling the drying semen on his stomach and between his buttocks. He crossed to the consoles and sat down, gingerly.
When Blake rejoined his companion in the bedroom that night he could see trouble heading for him at speed. Avon had bathed and changed, the new suit was dark red, but of the same design as the white and it suited Avon's dark hair and fair complexion very well; but the look on his face was at odds with the clothing of a demure Naadine companion and Blake mentally squared his shoulders and waited for the first salvo, willing himself to be calm and rational.
It wasn't long in coming. "How was it for you, dear," asked the tech, poisonously.
"It was lovely," admitted Blake, unhappily, knowing he was saying too much. "And you were lovely. You are lovely," he added, feeling he might be as well be hung for a flock of sheep as a single lamb.
Avon stuttered to a stop, the wind quite taken out of his sails by Blake's honesty. After a moment he recovered, "It'll be chocolates and flowers next!"
"If that's what it takes," responded Blake, reasonably, wondering where this was leading.
"Don't bother," spat Avon. "I've got the information," he held out a datacube and dropped it into Blake's hand, scornfully. "It turns out Reeva's quite the local hero. A 'fearless leader' in his own right. He runs a secret resistance party, Lemmare's one of his cohorts, but they've never met before." Blake looked pleased by the information, but Avon continued before he could speak. "Before you congratulate yourself too much I should tell you that it's not from any notions of 'freedom' or 'justice' that they want the Federation out. Before they arrived Reeva and his friends had this planet sewn up tighter than a kipper, and they want it back. Actually I could quite admire his motives. He wants information from the computer at the Strategy Centre, it seems there's an election coming up and they want to know how the Federation intend to rig it."
"Look, Avon," when Blake spoke in that tone even Avon paid attention. "I could argue revolutionary causitry with you all night, and you can pace up and down for as long as you like, but I'm tired and I'm going to bed. At the moment I really don't care what Reeva's motives are." Blake undressed and climbed into the wide bed.
Avon ignored him, and deprived of his argument began to open and close drawers with unnecessary violence. He realised how childish his behaviour was, and besides, Blake was right, he was tired. For about thirty seconds he considered sleeping on the floor, but it was hard, he would be cold later on, and he knew that Blake would only find such a gesture amusing. Resignedly Avon removed his clothes, such as they were, and climbed in beside Blake, making sure they were as far apart as they could possibly be given the confines of the bed. Even so, he was acutely aware of the other man lying relaxed and warm so close to him.
Blake lay, himself aware of Avon's stiffness. Forgetting everything but the need of the moment, the need to offer comfort, he pulled himself up on to one elbow and touched Avon's cheek, protected by the encompassing darkness. "I didn't hurt you did I?" he asked, genuinely concerned. Avon made no reply and Blake continued, "I'm sorry. I should have realised that you were a virgin."
At last he managed to bite out the words, "I wasn't. You didn't hurt me. And I wouldn't tell you if you had." But Blake's hand rested on his cheek, warm and oddly reassuring.
"I'm still sorry. I'm sorry that had to be your...our first time, like that."
"Well, you obviously enjoyed it," said Avon bitterly.
"I had hoped that you did too. You seemed to," he added slyly, giving in to temptation. His had slid down the contour of Avon's jaw feeling the smooth roughness of his chin.
"Yes," Avon sighed. "I supposed I did, in a way."
Blake's hand was exploring a wider range of territory now, and he gave a preoccupied grunt of agreement before finding something much more interesting to do, bite gently, then nibble on Avon's earlobe.
In response the tech raised his chin, allowing Blake to kiss down his neck. He had been tired but it seemed he was no longer, Blake's caresses were waking him. Blake moved down to kiss his chest
and suck, still gently, almost experimentally, on his nipple. "Do you like that?" he asked.
Avon replied only in a wordless murmur of pleasure, a sound almost like a purr, deep in his throat, and stretched out for more caresses. Blake was not slow in giving him what he wanted, he ran his hands down Avon's sides, then rubbed his palms over the light dusting of hair on his chest and belly, slowly moving to where it grew thicker, nearer and nearer to the swelling penis.
Throwing the bedcovers back Blake's mouth followed where his hands had led, down the stomach to the hips, then his tongue touched the head of Avon's penis, causing him to groan out loud, and murmur Blake's name in tones of entreaty.
Blake smiled, but ran his tongue under Avon's foreskin, causing him to jerk in surprise, and moan again much louder, the wanting even greater this time. Blake moved forward taking the shaft into his throat and feeling it swell still further as Avon's excitement increased. It was soon over, Avon's need overtaking him more strongly than either had expected and leaving him panting. Blake
rested his head on Avon's thigh and smiled to himself.
"Where did you learn that?" asked Avon, still gasping.
"Oh, here and there."
"What does it feel like for you?"
This time Blake thought before answering. "If you like..." he offered.
In answer Avon pushed Blake back, his grasp on Blake's shoulders hard enough for him to realise that there would be no arguing with this even had he wanted to. Blake was hard, he couldn't help but be after the way his partner had reacted to him, but truthfully he had expected no reciprocation.
What Avon lacked in finesse he made up for in sheer...hunger. Blake had experienced nothing like it, it was as if Avon was desperate for him, something that was extraordinarily flattering and unbelievably exciting. It wasn't long before Blake felt the first stirrings of orgasm, but Avon pulled away before he was overtaken by sensation, and looked up at him, hair and eyes wild in the half-light from the window. "Blake?" he asked.
"Yes?" Blake sighed in reply, sure he was being teased.
Avon gave him a slow smile. "Would you like to fuck me?"
"Yes," admitted Blake, softly, sadly.
Avon pulled himself up the bed and kissed Blake, his mouth wide and abandoned. "Sure?" he asked.
"Yes," came the reply. Blake could taste himself in Avon's mouth and on his lips, the idea pushing his excitement to even greater heights.
"I think you're right," said Avon softly, moving to lie on his back and pulling Blake over him. "So..." he murmured, "fuck me."
Blake reached put to the bedside table, hoping the tube he'd glimpsed hadn't been a figment of his imagination. It had not, and he opened it quickly, watched by the black glitter of Avon's eyes. "I'm
just going to get you ready," he told Avon.
"I know. Just get on with it."
Blake pushed his fingers, wet with the clear gel, into the delectable tightness of Avon's arse, wetting him thoroughly, preparing him for the invasion to follow. In response Avon groaned, then sighed, then finally he spoke. "Blake, fuck me. Do it! Now please!"
When at last he believed Avon to be ready, Blake guided his penis into the hot slick body, listening to the sounds Avon made as he was penetrated.
In the darkness it was hard to see the response his lovemaking was drawing from his partner; Avon's breathing was harsh, it was impossible to tell if this was the result of pain or of pleasure, so Blake asked: "Am I hurting you?"
"Of course I'm damn well sure! Now fuck me!"
This was reassurance enough even for Blake, who thus freed gave rein to his own desires and thrust deeply into the responsive body beneath him until he could contain the feeling no longer, and his come filled the passage he had prepared so carefully.
"Do you tease all your lovers like that?" asked Avon, when he was able to speak again.
"I haven't any other lovers, so I don't know."
"I see," replied Avon, musingly. After a few minutes he rolled into Blake's arms and closed his eyes.
Blake looked down at him for a second or so, then asked, "Are you going to sleep?"
"Unless you want to indulge in polite conversation, yes."
"Oh. All right then." He settled Avon more deeply into his arms and closed his eyes. Sleep came quickly.
They woke next morning in a sweaty tangle. Blake had noticed before that the idea of sleeping with a lover in your arms sounded wonderful but the reality never matched it, the extra warmth a
discomfort to which he had never been able to adapt. So what was different about Avon? Over-warm, but quite comfortable and happy Blake knew himself to be perilously close to love and wondered if Avon felt the same. He doubted it, Avon had a plan for everything, and he didn't
think that a sentimental relationship was likely to have any part in what he was sure was a carefully mapped future.
Avon opened his eyes, and yawned. "You're going to the Strategy Centre today."
"Time to get up."
"Right," said Blake, staying where he was.
Avon pulled away, climbed out of bed, and stood looking down at him for a moment, then turning away. Blake sat on the edge of the bed, listening to Avon opening the taps in the bathroom, finally
wandering over to lean on the door jamb, watching him.
Avon used soap and flannel the same way he used a laser probe, with meticulous care, no chance of this man missing a spot.
Seeing he had an audience, Avon made a show of it, washing slowly, allowing the shower's water to rinse the soap away, bending and stretching with a sure knowledge of what would please his watcher, making washing his hair a display of his masculinity, one which had Blake dry-mouthed with lust.
He stepped out of the shower, looking at the evidence of Blake's appreciation with amusement. "We'll be late," he said, as of a suggestion had been made.
"Will we?" asked Blake, not caring.
"And I'll have to wash again."
"Probably," replied Blake, shutting the door behind him and locking it.
Afterwards Blake said, "I don't think I could ever become tired of watching you..."
"No?" Avon seemed amused.
"You are so beautiful..."
For once Avon was neither flustered nor embarrassed. "You really think so?"
"Yes, I do." He pulled Avon to him and kissed him softly.
As Avon had predicted they were a little late for breakfast, Blake for eating it and Avon for serving it, and almost immediately afterwards they had to leave for the Federation installation. Once there, however, matters moved rather more slowly; there was a long series of talks which left most of the companions bored, Avon was one of the few who paid any attention to them at all. It appeared that the Federation deemed Nada VII to be important, for they had taken the trouble to cultivate the leaders of Naadine society, these 'Information Days' one of the ways they used to flatter them. From the reaction of most of those present it seemed that most Naadines were convinced, but as Reeva looked as convinced as any of them the truth of that was hard to judge.
In the afternoon someone made the suggestion that as the companions had been so bored they might remain in the dining hall while their masters listened to the rest of the Federation representatives, a suggestion all received with enthusiasm, not least the Federation speakers.
It also relieved Avon's mind, it had been a nightmare of his that one of the visitors might be someone either he or Blake had known in the past, but luckily this had not been the case in the morning. In the afternoon however one of those scheduled to lead a discussion on the advantages of Federation computer technology had been someone he had known while on one of his many projects. Not someone he had known well, but even so he might be recognised, and that would be hard to explain, and quite possibly fatal.
Left alone the companions were rather noisy. Their high spirits when away from their masters was infectious and soon the two guards who had been left to keep an eye on them were joining in their cheerful badinage. This gave Avon his opportunity, he fell to the edge of the crowd and when the backs of both guards were turned he slipped out.
Though the decor of the base was standard the Federation greys and the doors largely unmarked the computer room was not too difficult to find, and Avon made his way there. He was, as far as he could tell, unobserved. It was therefore a shock to find himself being tapped lightly on the left shoulder.
He looked up, expecting to be staring up the muzzle of a blaster, but instead he found Roberto's pretty face looking down at him in some puzzlement. "What are you doing?" asked the Naadine. "Does you master know about this?"
"Of course he does. I'm breaking into the computer."
"But you haven't opened it," Roberto giggled.
"No," said Avon, patiently.
"Shall I keep watch?"
"Do that," replied Avon, returning to his work.
Roberto wandered back after a few minutes. "Have you finished yet?"
"Is anyone coming?"
"Not yet, but it would be hard to explain if we were found here."
"I know that. I've nearly...that's it, done," he held two data cubes in his hand.
Roberto looked at them. "Everything?" he asked. It was clear he didn't believe it, but was trying to be blase.
"The information your master and...my master wanted, it's all there." Avon only just stopped himself in time from saying 'Blake'. "Why did you follow me out?"
"I thought you were going to do something dangerous and might need my help, and I was right. You should have said, after all, companions have to stick together." Roberto spoke admonishingly. "And I'm not just a pretty face any more than you are, no matter what anyone else thinks. We'd better get back."
The return journey was uneventful until, as they rounded a corner, they ran into two guards, who immediately raised their blasters threateningly. Roberto didn't seem to notice, or if he did
He ignored it. "Look, Gorgeous," he cooed, "I knew we'd meet someone. Didn't I just say so?"
Avon smiled what he hoped was a smile inane enough to convince Federation guards that he was as much an airhead as Roberto was pretending to be.
"We're lost you see," Roberto said, addressing the nearest guard. "We were looking for the lavatories, weren't we?" Avon smiled his agreement. "And we got lost. Can you take us back?"
"You're a long way out of your way," said one of the guards, obviously disbelieving. "Where did you say you wanted?"
Avon almost jumped, Roberto was fluttering long eyelashes and for the first time Avon realised they were false. The realisation made his smile genuine, and the guard relaxed.
"The lavatory. I said it was a long way, didn't I, Gorgeous?"
"This way," said the guard, long sufferingly. "Your friend is very quiet," he commented after a time.
"He is, isn't he?" agreed Roberto. "His master's very strict, he wouldn't like him talking to strange men, not even ones as nice as you." Roberto fluttered the eyelashes again.
"Here's the toilets," the guard escorted them in and waited while they used the facilities. They then took them back to the dining room. "Don't get lost again," they were told. "It can have very unfriendly consequences."
"We won't," Roberto cooed once more.
Once inside Avon turned to Roberto. "That was a very good act."
"Yes," Roberto looked at him and smiled, coquettishly, it should have been I've had a lot of practise. You master treats you with great respect," he went on. "I had wondered why, but if you can use computers it's not all that surprising. He must trust you a great deal."
"I suppose so," Avon admitted, realising it was true. "Reeva feels the same for you, I think."
"Of course. He loves me," replied Roberto, placidly.
At that moment a round of applause signalled the end of the last of the day's speeches, and a few seconds later the masters rejoined their companions in the dining room. Blake and Reeva saw Avon first, "Where's Bob?" Reeva asked.
Roberto had moved away, back to the dining table and was holding a cocktail snack. "Over there," said Avon, "he's holding that stick."
Reeva went over to Roberto at once and took him into his arms, to Roberto's obvious delight. "Were you very bored, Bobby?" he asked.
"Gorgeous and I got lost. Two guards had to bring us back."
Blake put an arm round Avon, and seeing one of the Federation representatives give them a curious look remarked, "That was very naughty of you both." Avon rested his head against Blake's collarbone, and smiled the most vacant smile of which he was capable.
"Letting your...friends...wander about alone here probably isn't a good idea," remarked the curious one.
"See, Gorgeous," Blake patted Avon. "I told you to be careful."
"He's very pretty," said the man. "He has a look of someone I once knew."
"Really?" Blake stiffened very slightly, but his tone was still one of polite interest and no more. Avon took Blake's hand and started to play with his fingers.
"Has he any talent with computers?"
"Not that I know of," said Blake, sounding puzzled.
From behind, Reeva laughed. "An interesting thought, Tares, but as Lemmare will tell you, one of Gorgeous' most attractive characteristics is his simple childlike nature. I doubt that anything as complex as a computer would appeal to him."
Tares was unwilling to let it go. "Sometimes a mind like that shows the greatest promise."
"But hardly what one is looking for in a companion." Blake affected the supercilious tones of a Naadine noble. Avon leaned closer, one arm round his 'master', resting against him, really glad for once of his implacable strength, and the fact that it was he not Avon receiving this grilling. "Are you all right, my pet?" Blake asked. Avon looked up at him and smiled, then kissed him lightly on
"Impatient to get home," laughed Reeva.
" I think so," said Blake, with a touch of mischief. "Your talk was most interesting Tares, I'm sure everyone who heard it was spellbound."
"Thank you, Lemmare." Tares watched them leave, still with that curious look on his face.
"Are you all right?" Blake asked Avon as soon as he could.
"Yes, though the faster we get out of here the better, he was suspicious."
As they reached the house Reeva sighed. "We never had a chance to get the information," he said. Blake looked at Avon, who reached into his pocket and handed him a data chip.
"You mean this?" Blake asked, innocently, handing it over.
Reeva stared at Blake in astonishment, then at Avon. "You never left the hall...that means he's the computer expert? How can that be?"
"Gorgeous has a selection of unexpected skills," said Blake, blandly. Then he went on more awkwardly, "Reeva, we've done all we came to do. Thank you for your kind hospitality, but I think Gorgeous and I had better leave quickly."
"In case the Feds realise there's been some unauthorised tampering." Reeva laughed, "Don't pout, Gorgeous. I think I've offended his professional pride. Yes, I think it would be best if they didn't connect it with you or me. Good luck to both of you. Who'd suspect a pretty thing like that? I suppose that makes it all the cleverer. Lemmare, I believe this is goodbye...you must both come back when the Federation have gone."
"We'd be glad to, Reeva. Come along Gorgeous."
It wasn't until they were outside in the garden that either realised that the grey clouds they had seen earlier had opened and they were being pelted with freezing rain. Avon, in his thin clothes was immediately soaked to the skin, the silk sticking to him revealingly. Blake looked him up and down and smiled. He lifted his teleport bracelet and said, "Jenna?"
Her voice came at once, but the new was not good. "Blake? You'll have to wait about five minutes."
"All right, Jenna." Blake closed the contact.
"I'm freezing," by now Avon was actually shivering.
"You're still beautiful."
Blake slid off his jacket and draped it round Avon's shoulders. "Better?"
Avon nodded and pulled the oversized garment closer. Blake put both arms round him, trying to warm him a little with his body, and Avon rested against him lightly.
The bracelet chimed again, "Blake?"
"Jenna again. Ready?"
"Just a moment," he closed the contact. "Avon, I...I just wanted to tell you. I don't expect anything to change between us, but as far as I'm concerned it will never be the same." Blake waited for a reply which never came, then called for teleport.
Some hours passed, long enough for them to put the encryption key into operation, time that passed in the rush of a job done, catching up on things missed, hardly time to think.
Blake sat in his cabin, alone after a long, long day, telling himself he should go to bed, but too tired to make the effort, knowing that the empty bed held no attraction for him.
There was a sound at the door, then someone pressed the intercom. One word. "Avon."
"Oh. Come in."
Blake hadn't been expecting this and waited, curious, believing the worst. Avon had changed his clothes as soon as he arrived on the ship, had gone back to his leather, and had showered, no trace of the perfume remaining when he took the flightdeck. He stood, looking round Blake's cabin as if uncertain.
"What did you want?" Blake asked, softly, when the silence had gone on for too long.
Avon held out his hand, in the palm was a small vial of the perfume and a pear of pearl earrings. "White satin isn't my style, Blake."
"You're still beautiful," said Blake, wistful.
"What will 'never be the same' for you?"
"Are you saying that you could love me?"
"I already love you," said Blake. Avon looked at him, his dark eyes unfathomable. "And I have learned to trust you."
"Only now?" Avon asked.
"I think I always have. I just never let myself know it."
"Ah, I see. In that case," he leaned forward, and kissed Blake, hard, on the mouth. "I hope you're not too tired?"