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What Price Victory?

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Poetry by Oscar Wilde

 

I don't really know why I'm writing this down. Seems a bit foolish really. No one likes to read anymore. Vistapes and visbooks are all anyone looks at. But this is more real to me. I know he liked the feel of old-Earth books too, even if he wouldn't admit it. It's for me as much as for him that I do this. I need to know that somewhere, sometime in the future, there will be a record of what really happened. Not the version that the new government will provide but a record of what it was like for us, for Avon and the rest of our people. But especially for Avon, because he did what he didn't have to, didn't want to, and he paid the price for our, for my, victory.

Where to begin? Shortly after we rescued Avalon from Servalan and Travis, Avalon contacted us on Liberator with a plan for finally bringing down those in power. She had managed to unite most of the rebel forces from the outer world and believed that those on Earth would follow me. After some argument from the rest of the crew, Avon most notably as usual, we decided to go to her base and discuss her plan. I asked Avon and Cally to teleport down with me.

"Welcome, Blake, Avon, Cally."

Avalon smiled, reaching out to clasp my hand. She's amazingly really, so tiny but so authoritative.

"Please, sit down."

She gestured towards a series of chairs and couches, clustered around a large table. There were two men already seated. She introduced them as Taron and Veldred. Their names were vaguely familiar and I glanced at Avon for confirmation.

"Leaders of the resistance on Outer Eurasia and New France. Taron," Avon paused for a moment, "was active in the resistance before the time of your group's demise, Blake."

"Yes, Avon. My time with the resistance began before Blake's, but far from Earth. We have been able to largely avoid direct fighting with the Federation. Until now. Listen to Avalon's plan, Blake."

He turned towards me, away from Avon, and I sat down. Cally also sat and, after a moment, Avon joined us. He still looked wary, but I'd have been surprised if he didn't. Avon's always been the suspicious type. Even though he would have denied it, I always had a sneaking suspicion that concern for us was part of it. But he sat as far from Cally and I was possible while still keeping a safe distance between himself and the other rebels. He saw me staring at him and glared back until Avalon's voice drew my attention away.

"I asked you all here to propose a solution to our problem of bringing down the Federation. A plan that will minimize the number of causalities, particularly civilian ones."

Avalon paused for a moment, and I looked round at the rest of her audience. Both Taron and Veldred were watching with rapt attention as was Cally. Avon's attention was divided between Avalon and the other rebels, as though he was listening to Avalon but observing them. Pulling out a large map, Avalon spread it across the table and we all crowded in to see.

"The key to destroying the Federation is in eliminating their command structure. The common soldier obeys his superiors. Eliminate those superiors and he will be unable to function."

Veldred shifted. "But how do you intend to remove that structure?"

"This is what is crucial to the plan. This is the plan of Space Command headquarters. Two days from now, the Federation will be having its annual council meeting. The leaders of the military, including Servalan, as well as many of the governors will be attending. And it is to be at Space Command headquarters."

I was intrigued but I couldn't help wondering. "What do you have in mind, Avalon?"

"An attack on the meeting itself, capturing Servalan and the other leaders, while you disable their communications structure, the main computer centre for Headquarters."

Avon spoke up. "Why bother to capture them? It would be simpler to destroy the entire complex from space."

I wasn't surprised at Avon's comments and I suspected he wouldn't approve of her answer either.

"Many people would die in such an attack. They may not be innocents but it would be much more effective to try them in court; to let people know that their new government will provide justice, not summary execution."

Avon's lip curled into a sneer. He didn't care much for lefty visions of justice. He preferred to fight for what he wanted, not trusting in the ideals of others. An Alpha elite, he had been abused by the system as much as the lowest Delta.

Slowly I brought my mind back to Avalon's plans. "Your forces will handle the attack while we," I gestured at my companions, "simply shut down the computer centre?"

"Yes, Blake. It shouldn't be too difficult for you. A couple of your people, in and out quickly. And Liberator to hold off any cruisers that might be alerted before the communications is shut down. Once the communications have been shut down, you can join up with our ships and mop up any Federation ships that try to stop us. Taron will be coordinating the ship movements. We have four modified space cruisers. My people and I can handle the command security."

It seemed like a good plan to me. I could tell Cally liked it. There would be no innocents at Space Command to be endangered. Avon's expression gave nothing away. He seemed to be considering.

"It's a good plan, Blake." Cally smiled slightly; perhaps she could tell that I was inclined to agree.

"Your answers, gentlemen?"

Taron and Veldred both agreed. I turned again to Avon. His silence was a bit unnerving. I was used to his vocal opposition or his silent disapproval. Neither were apparent. But he was watching me carefully, giving nothing away.

"I agree. We will take out the communications structure and keep away any flotillas that may try to stop you."

Avalon looked very pleased.

"I have more detailed plans for the computer centre, Blake. If you and the others would like to examine them."

Avon reached out smoothly and took the papers from her hand.

"I assume that the attack will commence after we have destroyed the communications?"

"Assuming you do so on schedule," Avalon commented.

"I see."

Avon's gaze left Avalon and returned to the plans. Cally was looking over his shoulder and he smiled faintly at her. I envied her. True, Avon probably didn't sleep with her either, but at least he looked at Cally. Damn my stupid reactions to him. It wouldn't do for Avon to ever guess my true feelings for him. Partially to distract myself, I asked Avalon whether she intended for the whole complex to be destroyed or just the communications module.

"Just the communications, Blake. We'll need the rest of the computer system to help reorganize the government. Just do enough damage to prevent easy repair. We don't want to create more work for ourselves than necessary."

I frowned slightly. Avon's head had risen sharply at her words. I half listened to what she was saying, trying to concentrate on Avon's words instead of wondering how much he'd hate me if he knew I wanted to fuck him.

"The degree of precision will require specific placement of the detonating devices. Otherwise, the whole complex will be destroyed. It would take weeks to repair."

"That's definitely too long." Taron spoke up. "By that time, the remaining government would be in chaos. We need the control that the computer and communications centre provides."

Avon didn't look impressed. In fact, disapproval radiated from him. But he stayed silent. And I felt that it was up to me to reassure Avalon that we would carry through.

"I will place the detonators, Avon and I can determine the optimal locations."

Before Avon could speak~I know he wanted to~Avalon smiled and nodded.

"Good, Blake. Why don't you stay and we can talk about the battle plans? Avon and Cally can take the plans back to your ship and let the rest of your crew in on the mission."

Both Avon and Cally rose immediately. Avon didn't look very pleased at my remaining behind but he didn't say anything. Cally looked a little concerned but I think her concern was for Avon, not me. They called for teleport and the four of us settled down to discuss the rest of Avalon's scheme.

* * *

My return to Liberator was relatively peaceful. No arguments from Avon or the others. We sat down and I told them all the details.

"Ideas anyone? How should we go about planting the detonators?"

Cally suggested planting three small charges across the main communications feeds.

"The damage will be minimal and require," she glanced at Avon, "about ten hours to repair. Enough time for Avalon's take-over but the damage will not be so great as to impede repair once the take-over is complete."

"Avon?"

He turned towards me, dark eyes gleaming and I couldn't prevent my instinctive reaction. But I covered my tension well, hiding it behind impatience.

"Well?"

"Cally's suggestion is a good one. I concur with her assessment."

"Very well then. Tell me where I should place the explosives."

"Where you should place them? You can't be thinking of going alone?" It was Jenna who spoke up.

"Why not? Only one of us is required to set them. It seems senseless to risk anyone else."

"But that one will not be you, Blake. I will go."

For a moment, all I could do was stare. Avon volunteering to go? Why?

"Why, Avon?"

The smile he gave was not reassuring. He shrugged slightly, elegantly.

"I am the computer expert, Blake. If something is not as it is in the plans, I will know and be able to adjust. Therefore, I will go."

"Not alone," I argued.

His face darkened, anger brightening his eyes, tightening the skin around them. I had never seen him quite so beautiful, or so furious. And it was all directed at me. He left his station, coming to lean down over me where I sat on the flightdeck couch. I could almost feel the angry heat radiating from him. I just couldn't understand why.

"Yes, Blake. Alone. For the same reason you gave."

The others looked as confused by Avon's actions as I felt. I believed that if we discussed it alone, I could convince him that I should go along. I certainly didn't intend to let him run the risk of this mission by himself. I definitely didn't believe the reason he gave, but maybe if the others weren't there, he could tell me why he wanted to do this.

"Come with me, Avon. I want to talk to you. Alone."

His eyes flashed at me but he made no comment, following me off the flightdeck.

* * *

"All right, Avon. Why don't you want me to go down with you? Back-up could be useful. Someone to watch your back while you work."

His silence was unnerving as he walked around my cabin, touching the books on my shelf, the wall-hanging of Earth. I watched him move with easy grace, uncomfortably aware of his body. He reminded me of a vistape I had seen of an Earth cat called a panther. It was dark, sleek, and powerful, dangerous when frightened or aroused. As I was by Avon's presence. Dragging my eyes away for a moment, I felt the old anger building; why did Avon have to make everything so difficult. Using the anger as a shield, I moved to his side, grabbing his arm, spinning him round to face me.

"What the Hell are you up to, Avon?"

I knew I was being unreasonable now. I shouldn't have grabbed him either. I could feel the tension radiating through the slim figure before me. And I felt a moment's fear. Avon looked ready to attack and I tensed up, ready to defend myself if necessary. I waited, staring into those dark, turbulent pools, watching the emotions rage through them.

"Don't touch me, Blake. Do you understand?"

I felt the red heat of embarrassment flush my face. Had it been only the anger or had the desire crept through, inciting my action. I couldn't keep his penetrating gaze any longer. This had been a mistake. Avon would never reveal the true reason for his decision to go down. I would simply have to go with him. The shock of a hand in my hair caused my head to jerk up. Avon? I stared. He was looking at me strangely, eyes narrowed in concentration. And his hand was still tangled in my curls, forcing me to meet his penetrating gaze. This was ridiculous! Just as I was about to jerk my head away, he released me, stepping closer. I backed up slightly, pressing lightly against the wall of my cabin. A faint smile graced his lips. He was so close that we were almost touching. I couldn't watch him; what the Hell did he think he was doing?

"Avon, this isn't funny."

He raised an eyebrow at that. "Perhaps not. So this is why you don't me to go down alone. How long have you felt this way about me?"

Past the roaring in my ears, the desperate pounding in my heart, I realized that there was little point in lying now. Disgusted or not, Avon would leave Liberator once he was out of danger of the Federation. He would go long and far from me, as he had always claimed. So what did it matter now? I opened my mouth and took what I hoped would be a calming breath, glancing away as I started to speak.

"For too long. I can't tell you when it started. I don't know. It was gradual but I knew when we were on the planet of the Decimas, when they used the shock stick on you." I gritted my teeth. And felt cool hands in my hair. One slipped down to my cheek, forcing my eyes to meet his.

"It took that long for you?"

I couldn't believe it. The expression on his face. Never had I seen Avon so open, so caring. Did he meanOe?

"What do you mean?"

A slight sigh escaped those soft lips. "You require a demonstration?"

I couldn't believe it. Avon's body pressed tightly to mine, pressing me hard against the wall, trapped between the cool surface of the wall and the hot, equally hard body in front of me. I gazed down in wonder as Avon tilted his head up, brushing his lips against mine. I gasped at the sensation, long imagined, but better in reality than dreams, warmer, more demanding. My lips parted of their own accord and Avon's tongue traced their surfaces before delving within, possessing my mouth. When he broke the kiss, releasing me, I almost stumbled away from the wall. I had no words to say. I wanted him, needed him, but I wasn't sure either of us was ready for this. I think he saw my indecision. He took my hand and pulled me towards the bed, pushing me down and sitting beside me. He released my hand, clasping his in his lap. His eyes flickered sideways at me, returning to contemplate his own hands.

"You asked why I wished to go down; why I don't want you with me. That was your answer, Blake. I don't want to lose you, don't want you to end up a martyr to your damn cause. I... refuse to let the Federation win. Your death would give them that victory."

"You exaggerate my importance to the rebellion, Avon. It will go on without me. I have no role to play in Avalon's proposed government. I don't want one. All I want now is for the Federation to end, and some peace for us after, somewhere far from politics and government."

Avon stared at me, his gaze gentle.

"I'm glad that's what you want. I hope we get the chance to try it but I don't intend to allow you to risk your life for it."

He pressed his fingers to my lips, stopping my words of protest. "Don't. I know you won't let me go down myself. Very, well, we go together then and watch each other's backs."

I opened my mouth to agree, then Avon's lips crushed down on mine. His hands found mine, pressing me back on the bed with the weight of his body. He pulled my hands above my head, gripping the wrists, trapping me beneath him. I gasped as he bit at my lips, my neck. Love bites were followed by licking and sucking. I squirmed under his weight when his knee slid between my thighs, pressing hard against my throbbing cock. Bucking hard, I managed to roll us over. Staring down into his eyes, I saw his submission. He wanted this, wanted me on top. I gathered both his wrists into one hand, stretching them above his head, trailing kisses along his jaw while my other hand worked at removing the silk shirt he wore. Underneath, the skin was pale, dusted with a covering of soft black hair. Releasing his wrists, I bent lower, brushing my lips across a nipple. He moaned in response, my weight, still on his lower body, preventing him, from squirming too much. His hands tangled in my hair, stroking, tugging, fingers tracing along the edges of my ears. I shivered, rubbing my face against his hard muscled stomach, breath hot against his skin.

"Yes," he moaned softly, his hips pressing up against me.

I wanted it too, so much.

"Blake." His voice was so soft. "This would be better without clothes, don't you think?"

I smiled down at him, and sat up, sliding my own shirt off while I watched him remove shirt, shoes, and pants. Looking up at me, he frowned and paused in his actions, obviously waiting for me to finish. My hands were shaking as I removed my own pants, hesitating when it came to my briefs. I glanced over at Avon who was watching me intently. Or watching my body anyways. I couldn't help but flush at the scrutiny. His eyes traveled down my chest to my waist and stopped, flicking back up to my face. The smile he gave me was sweet but with a wicked glint.

"A little late for secrets, Blake, don't you think?"

I swallowed thickly, blood pounding in my veins. He inclined his head at my silence, reaching down to remove the last bit of covering from his body. He was beautiful, an abstract collection of dark hair and pale skin, and he was waiting for me. Licking his lips, he stepped to my side.

"Shy, Fearless Leader?"

Strong hands closed around my waist, grasping and pulling away my last refuge. I felt the cool air on my exposed erection. It only made it harder, or it could have been Avon's proximity.

I felt a little uncomfortable under his scrutiny. After all, I was a good deal heavier, not so slim and lithe as he. Steeling myself, I reached out a hand to cup his face, brushing my thumb across his soft lips. He pressed his face into the caress, reaching out himself, pulling me against him.

"You're so warm." I could feel the heat coming off him in waves, warming me, warming my cock which was pressed hard against his hip. He laughed lightly.

"Beautiful, Blake. You feel so good."

His arms squeezed tightly and I returned the embrace with all my strength. I was beautiful to him! I would once have sold my soul to hear him speak those words to me. I doubted that I would hear words of love from Avon, he didn't seem inclined to sentiment, but this was enough. His lips again found mine, tongues entwining, as we lay back on the bed, Avon sprawled across my chest, fingers rubbing, caressing. He brushed against a nipple and I shivered, thrusting up against him. My cock ached, desperate for release.

"Avon, please,' I whispered, needing him, needing something, anything. Abruptly, he left off his attentions and slipped from the bed.

I was startled, a sinking feeling in my chest, wondering what I had said or done to cause him to abandon me.

Just as I was about to follow him, he returned from my bathroom, a tube of massage oil in his hands. He was rubbing it between his hands, warming it. I knew my eyes widened. His answering smile was predatory, seductive. He knelt beside me, spilling some of the oil into his palms. I nearly fainted with pleasure as his hands closed around my cock. It was exquisite. It was agony. I groaned, throwing my head back, gasping at the sensations created by those talented hands. His mouth came down hard on mine, tongue thrusting then withdrawing. He licked at my lips, leant over to kiss the tip of my cock, and released me. The tube appeared in my hands and Avon, dark dangerous Avon, lay on his stomach beside me, legs spread, his demand obvious. Gently, I trailed my fingers down his spine, stopping just above the cleft.

"Are you sure, Avon?"

His head turned slightly, resting against his forearms.

"Yes, Blake. I'm sure," he replied with a hint of exasperation.

"I'm very sure," I whispered into his ear, feeling him tremble with anticipation. Spilling the oil across his back, I massaged it in, moving from shoulders to buttocks, relaxing his too tense muscles. Adding a bit more oil, I traced along the cleft lightly. Then harder, pressing through to the delicate flesh between. Avon moaned softly, pressing back against my probing fingers. One hand against the small of his back to restrain him, I carefully inserted one finger. For a second, he clenched up, tight around it. But I wiggled it slightly and he slowly loosened, allowing another finger to enter. Sensing his enjoyment, I probed deeper, rewarded when he gasped, trying to thrust back.

"Now, Blake. I'm ready now."

But I was still a little nervous. My cock is not exactly average sized, neither am I, and I was worried about hurting him.

"Tell me if I'm hurting you," I instructed him as I removed my fingers.

"If you don't do something soon, you'll kill me."

I grinned at his impatience but I felt it too, the aching to fill him as great as his need to be filled. Pressing a kiss to the damp hair at the base of his neck, I slowly pressed into him. He was so tight, almost painful as he clamped down instinctively. I paused, about half-way in, waiting for him to relax, stroking his neck, his sides. Slowly the tightness decreased to the point where I could thrust again. This time Avon accepted me all the way, whispering my name, holding me deep inside him.

Gasping, I rested against him, hoping he could feel the pounding of my heart against his back. This is what you do to me, Avon, I thought. When I thrust again, he pushed back to meet me. Supporting myself on one hand, the other snaked under him, grasping his erection, pumping it in time with my thrusts. I could hear him groaning my name, gasping for breath as we both raced towards orgasm. I could feel the extra tensing of his muscles just before his choked off cry. Then his muscles clamped down hard and I went over the edge, spilling my love inside him, collapsing against him, everything dark but safe, comforting.

When I became aware of my surroundings, I was lying on top of Avon. I knew I must be heavy for him, so I pulled out slowly, rolling over, pulling him with me to lie draped over me, like a living blanket. I wondered how he would react now, to what we had done, had said. But he didn't say anything, just tightened his arms around me and went to sleep, head buried in my shoulder.

I think that was the greatest gift he ever could have given me. He trusted me that much. I watched him sleep for a while, then drifted off myself. I would keep Avon safe, go down with him. If I were to die the next day, at least I'd have this to take with me.

* * *

The next morning passed uneventfully. Avon woke first, was up and dressed by the time I opened a bleary eye. But he didn't seem any different, he smiled and gave me a quick kiss, heading for the flightdeck to do some calculations. Left on my own, it didn't take long to get organized and up to join the others. We were almost there. Avon still insisted on going down but accepted that I would accompany him. We stood on the teleport platform, watching as Vila wished us good luck and put us down.

"Down and safe, Vila. Keep alert, we may need quick pick-up."

"Yes, Blake," came the response.

Cautiously, we followed the corridor to the left. Then down a side corridor and we were in the computer centre. There were few people around, the computer centre was supposed to be automated. Just as we slipped into the room we wanted, a guard came round the corner.

"Damn," I snarled, shoving Avon quickly into the room. He spun round but saw me at the door, blocking it, giving him the time he needed to set the charges. I wished he could hurry! He got one placed and then stopped.

"You set the other one here, Blake. I'll place the last in the other room."

I moved away from the door~it was secure for now~and picked up the explosive. When it was placed and primed, I turned to the door, reassuring myself it was solidly blocked. A sharp bang and Avon's gasp of surprise caused me to jerk round towards the other door. Several guards appeared, blasters raised.

"Teleport now, Vila!"

"Blake! Where's Avon?"

Vila sounded shocked and I knew, swaying slightly with the realization. Avon's bracelet must have been taken. He was stranded down there. Cally's voice interrupted my racing thoughts.

"Blake, Avalon's forces will be attacking in twenty seconds! We must detonate the charges!"

It was funny, I felt so cold at that moment, so detached from reality. The seconds raced by and I thought of Avon, the short time we had spent together, how good it had felt to love him. And I thought of Avalon's forces, the hundreds of people who could die if the communications weren't cut off, if reinforcements were alerted. How could I weigh that one life over hundreds? But that one life was Avon's! If it had been anyone elseOeand that decided me. It if were anyone else, I wouldn't have a second thought.

"Blow the charges, Cally. Now."

Vila just stared at me in shock as Cally relayed the information from the flightdeck. The communications centre was completely destroyed, all communications shut down. Liberator was barely needed. No ships flew to the rescue of Space Command and the few that were already there were destroyed by Avalon's ships. Dully, I told the others about what had happened. I saw the tears in Cally's eyes and sympathy in the others. But I wasn't ready for that. I quietly left them, heading for my cabin.

Opening the door, I sat down on my bed, still rumpled and unmade from last night's activities. And the loss finally hit me. Nothing was worth this. I buried my face in the pillow, where Avon's scent still lingered and shed bitter, bitter tears for what I had done.

Hours later, when I emerged from my cabin, Jenna told me that she had contacted Avalon. The centre had been badly damaged. They had found several charred bodies, none of which could be identified as that of Kerr Avon, but he had not been seen alive either. I nodded and asked Jenna where she thought we should go since Avalon no longer needed our help.

"Earth, Blake. Let's go home."

My throat tightened. Earth had been as much Avon's home as mine. But staying on Liberator now would be unbearable. At least on Earth, I could help set up the new government, be of some use to the people I had sacrificed him for. I smiled faintly at her. "Earth it is."

* * *

Over the next five years, little changed for me. I helped Avalon set up the new government, even ran it for a little while. But the passion I had held for my cause had faded in the wake of losing Avon. I soon gave up my role in the new government. Jenna and the others tried to help. Vila stayed on Earth too. He often comes to visit, talking about the Liberator and our "adventures." He talks about Avon too, which helps. I told him about our relationship. He didn't seem very surprised, he said that he was glad that we at least shared what we did. Cally went back to Auron for a while, came back to Earth about a year ago and has been staying with Vila. I never would have guessed it but I'm happy for them. I gave Liberator to Jenna. She didn't want to leave but it was for the best. I could never give her what she wanted, especially not now.

One thing I have enjoyed about my "retirement" is the chance to read. All the old books I had collected and any others I had been able to find have become companions. When I left Liberator, I brought both Avon's and my things with me. When I went through his things I found a book. It was very old, falling apart, but full of poetry. Paradoxically, reading it both eased the pain and increased my loneliness and guilt.

And all men kill the thing they love, By all let this be heard, Some do it with a bitter look, Some with a flattering word, The coward does it with a kiss, The brave man with a sword.

I loved him, do love him, his death hasn't changed my heart, and I hate myself for what I did. I tell myself there was no other choice, one man's life versus the freedom of the galaxy, but when that one life was Avon's? I've hoped that he would understand why; that if there is an afterlife, he would forgive me. But I don't think I can ever forgive myself. I loved him yet I killed him as surely as if I had placed a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

There are so many moments when I wish I hadn't, when I wish I let all those people die, anything but give up the love that we shared so briefly. I wanted to keep you safe, Avon, but I couldn't even do that.

I'm full of regrets these days, except for loving Avon. I could never regret that, no matter how much it hurts now. How much it will always hurt. I loved you, my Avon.

* * *

Avon put Blake's diary down on the table, the pages fluttering in a stray air current. He looked down at the body of his one-time lover, the blood spreading slowly over the floor at his feet. A tightness around the eyes was the only indication of his pain.

"You never knew the peace you yearned for. Once I would have reveled in your pain and guilt, Blake. But now ..."

He bent and brushed his fingers through curls touched with grey, pressing a gently kiss one last time to cooling lips. His eyes brightened with the tears he would never shed, for pain and guilt experienced and now willingly accepted.

"Goodbye, Blake. I loved you."