By Willa Shakespeare

Blake was still several meters away from the tracking gallery, wearily trudging along after what had turned out to be a wild-rebel chase of two weeks duration, when he began to sense something was terribly wrong.

Horrible noise, rhythmic and jarring, set his teeth on edge. Under the mechanical sounds he heard voices raised to a pitch that was painful to hear, let alone to force out one's throat. The light that reflected along the corridor was wrong, too. Blood-red flashes fought with sickly green. Emergency alarms? No, not again. He groaned silently to himself. They were just recovering from his disastrous reunion with Avon. It wouldn't be easy to evacuate the new base either, not in full winter, with snow impeding the ground transport, and the fliers showing up all too well on heat-sensors.

He hurried, but did not quite run. He'd stumbled across enough massacres in his life to have learned that much. He slowed and finally crept the last few inches and...

"Blake!" Vila yelled, "Help!", while struggling with his bonds.

"BLAKE!" Tarrant cried from behind him, looking enormously relieved. /Please?/ he mouthed, even his distress not quite enough to overcome the Alpha inhibitions against showing weakness.

"No, don't," Dayna cried out as Blake stepped forward, determined to save them. "It's a trap!"

But it was too late. Blake glanced up just in time to see a flash of green above his head, and then he was captured.

"A..." he protested as deceptively strong arms wrapped around him from the side, and he was whirled off balance. A hand reached up into his curls and pulled his head down. "Mmmmpphhhh!" Blake garbled as he was half-suffocated by a warm, wet tongue being forced down his throat. Just as abruptly he was released and staggered back to fall against the nearest wall, gasping. "Avon! What...!" He paused to wipe his mouth, which now tasted strongly of peppermint. "What are you.." He paused to take in the whole room. "What are you *all* doing?!"

"Merry Christmas, Blake," Avon said cheerfully.

Blake gave Avon a full look for the first time. And blinked. Avon was still wearing leather with metal decorations, but...well, the tunic and trousers were a matching, eye-watering shade of green, trimmed with wide red cuffs, and his boots, also green, had acquired long, upcurved toes with silvery jingle-bells tied at the tips. A row of similar bells went across the chest of Avon's tunic, and danced brightly along the indented hem of the tunic. Blake shook his head in disbelief, and turned to the relative sanity of the others who at least were in their normal clothing.

"Vila. Explain," Blake said, carefully sidling away from the mistletoe, as Avon had begun eyeing his proximity to the dangling greenery.

"Um. Well, you know that doctor Dimsdall that you got to look at Avon?" Vila was almost invisible under a coiled-up garland of spiky-looking holly, which was being spiralled up the support pillars by Deva.

"Yes." Blake was still keeping a corner of his eye on Avon, but it seemed Avon had lost interest in him and was now supervising the stringing of coloured lights on a pine tree that was filling the centre of the room. He could hear Avon describing a complicated formula relating the height, trunk circumference at the base, and number of radial branches of the tree to the desired number of lights. Tarrant had the hardest job of the team surrounding the tree, as he was attempting to fasten some small figurine to the topmost branch without knocking off any of the lights that were already strung.

Everywhere Blake looked, rebels were scurrying, carrying gaudy, useless items which were being draped, nailed, tacked or tied to every available surface.

Vila stood still as Deva uncoiled holly and walked around the nearest pillar. Besides Blake, Vila seemed to be the only person standing in one spot. "You know he found that Servalan had put Avon under one of those machines to change your mind, and made him depressed and obsessed with failure, and forced him to foul up everything, so he'd finally try to kill you just so you wouldn't be more successful than him?"

"Yes." Blake nodded absently as a fair proportion of his mind was seriously considering shooting the loudhailer that was playing something semi-musical with the repeated refrain of 'jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock.'

"So Dimsdale's been working with Avon, trying to counteract it. Only it's not that easy." Vila winced as a holly leaf scraped his ear.

Blake nodded again, remembering a few of the failures with Avon either homicidal and raging, or apologetic and weeping, neither of which he could stomach for very long so he'd been looking for any excuse to leave the base for a while. That was why Blake had been willing to go after that Kris Kringle fellow even though the only charges against him were non-violent home invasions and disturbing the peace. Only the old man's draft animals were a lot faster than Blake had expected, and he was forced to give up the hunt. He'd thought Avon would be cured by now, and they could return, warily, to their previous not-quite-antagonistic relationship.

"So he, well, he, um, asked Orac for advice."

"He didn't." Blake looked at Vila in horror. Ever since Orac had been rescued from the squirrel that was using it to store nuts, the computer had been vindictive, blaming them all, and particularly Avon, for some unknown reason, for its humiliation and giving them the worst possible answers to the simplest questions. "And *THIS* is what Orac suggested?"

"Oh, no, Dimsdall's no dummy. This is the opposite of Orac's suggestion."

Blake relaxed. "I see. And is it working?"

"Well." Vila glanced at Avon, who had just finished industriously stirring a bowl of some thick-yellowish-white fluid, and pressing a cup of it into Soolin's hands. Soolin put down the pine wreath she was weaving, and accepted the cup. Avon smiled, patted her on the shoulder, and began circulating among the workers, offering cups of the drink on one tray and brightly coloured, oddly-shaped food-stuffs on another. "He's happy, anyway. But I don't think he's slept more than a few hours in the last week. he keeps saying we're running out of time. He's busy, baking sweet biscuits- those things on the trays-" Vila grinned. "The little white balls are really nice, too." He went on when Blake gave him a stern look. "Well, he's been all over the base, nagging everyone into making these decorations and putting them up, and we're all supposed to be *nice* to each other, even me and Tarrant." Vila looked very puzzled at that. "And play parlour games, and sing odd songs, and make presents..." Vila shook his head.

"And this is supposed to cure Avon?" A less Alpha environment, Blake would be hard-pressed to imagine. Although, now that he relaxed a bit, it wasn't all that bad. Tasteless, overdone and outrageously self-indulgent, yes, but harmless.

Deva took the last coil of holly from Vila, who sighed, stretched and rubbed at his arms. "Um. Well, half-cure him. This is supposed to take care of the depression and the sense of failure by letting him lead a whole group of people and have it all come out right." Vila eyed Blake. "Only..."

"What?" Blake was now beginning to be amused. Avon was ridiculous in that outfit, and he obviously knew it, judging by the way he laughed when the bells chimed in time with the loudhailer's current song, something to do with 'sleigh bells ringing'. He was *enjoying* it. Blake would give a lot to feel that free and not have to stand on his dignity every single moment.

"Only it seems he's still got to deal with *you*."

Blake rubbed his chin. "I suppose so." He was not looking forward to it. "Where's Dimsdall? I'll ask what I should do."

"Sorry. He was the first to taste Avon's punch."

"Avon hit him?"

"No, it was meant to be eggnog, but Avon put too much nog and not enough egg. Anyway, Dimsdall is in his quarters, sleeping it off."

Blake frowned. "So. Do you have any idea what I'm supposed to do?"

"Just go along with Avon, I guess. That's what we've all been doing." Vila rolled his eyes. "But no matter what, *don't* taste the fruitcake."

Deva returned with another coil of greenery. Vila sighed and moved to the next pillar.

"Blake?" Avon was standing in front of Blake, smiling, having disposed of the trays at some point. It looked like a normal smile, unless Blake was greatly mistaken. "Are you ready?"

"For what?"

"Why, distributing the presents, of course." He pointed to an enormous brown cloth sack, tied shut with a red cord. It was beside an ornately decorated chair set up on a raised platform. It looked like a throne.

"All right," Blake agreed, relieved at the relative ease of his task. He started towards the 'throne'. Avon stopped him, tugging at Blake's sleeve.

"Not like that." Avon wrinkled his nose.

Blake *had* been two weeks on the trail. He sighed. "All right, I'll bathe."

Avon nodded, still smiling.

Blake felt better under the warm water of his shower, as if he was scrubbing away all his frustrations- not just the last two weeks of fruitless hunting- but the years he'd stayed away from Avon, allowing the other man to decide to come to him.

That could have worked out better, but at least they'd all survived. It was obvious something was wrong with Avon, but he'd not guessed the true extent of the programming until Avon tried to commit suicide. Servalan was one sadistic creature that Blake would be glad to kill with his own hands. Not in a spirit of revenge, you understand- more a sanitary measure, to prevent the spread of her disease.


"In here, Avon," Blake called out. He'd been daydreaming, but his hands had continued soaping and shampooing, so all he had to do was rinse, and he'd be... his musings were cut off by the sound of applause. He turned. Avon was standing at the door to the hygiene unit, a bulky red and white costume flung over one arm, and he was clapping.

Blake considered being annoyed, for about half a second, until he looked at Avon's face. Avon wasn't laughing at him.

Blake decided he was rinsed enough, turned off the shower and stepped out. "May I have a towel?"

"For you, of course." Avon half-turned to pull a towel from the rack, his eyes still on Blake.

Blake took the towel and began rubbing himself, briskly drying his hair, and then more slowly absorbing the water on his body, as Avon's eyes followed every movement. It felt good, and basking in Avon's admiration felt good, too. He was remembering times on the *Liberator* in between being at each other's throats, when they'd been at everything else. "Is that what I'm supposed to wear?" Blake asked, nodding toward the red and white bundle.

"Yes. You come - in at midnight."

Blake resisted the urge to suggest that he wait until midnight to put it on. Avon was still not himself, and it wasn't fair to take advantage- although something about the distorted shape of Avon's tunic indicated that his bells were jingling, too. Blake carefully wrapped the towel around his waist and walked out of the hygiene unit.

"Blake! Stand Still!" Avon shouted, almost hissing.

Alarmed, Blake froze in position. "Avon, it's all right," he said, soothingly, thinking about flash-backs, and whether or not Avon had managed to get a gun. Abruptly, there was a great deal of jingling, and Blake started to snap his head around to see what Avon was doing.

"Don't move!"

Blake froze again and waited, wondering.

Avon came around in front of Blake. Silently. Which shouldn't have been a surprise, as he was no longer wearing bells, or any of the things the bells had been fastened onto. "Look up."

After a moment Blake obeyed, although he would rather continue looking at Avon's body, glimmering white, with highlights of flushed pink skin and dark curls clustered at strategic locations. Directly above Blake's bed the ceiling was filled with small, irregularly shaped green balls dotted by pearly white.

"The practice, I'm told, is traditionally to exchange a kiss for each berry," Avon was at Blake's ear, warm voice and warm hands, and ... ah.... *very* warm cock lifting to push against Blake. "But I thought perhaps enough of them could be redeemed for something more satisfying."

Blake thought about it as Avon pushed him back onto the bed, tugged off Blake's towel, and then produced a tube of cinnamon-scented lube. Avon wasn't quite himself, but on the other hand, Blake could hardly be accused of rape from below. He lifted his legs over Avon's shoulders and wriggled his bottom until Avon got the message and began loading Blake with cinnamon. It tingled, just enough to be interesting as Avon's fingers stroked and smoothed and stretched.

Blake sighed. It had been a long time since he'd met a man who hadn't expected him to be the dominant. He liked that too, but this was a rarer pleasure and Avon was the only man he could remember who'd dared to ask it. It was lovely to be on the bottom with no performance demands, with all the responsibility for their pleasure in Avon's hands. Oh, Blake fully intended to participate, but for once he could follow instead of leading.

Avon grinned down at him. "Now, for *my* Christmas present, Blake," he murmured and began pushing. "It is useless to resist," he whispered, his grin becoming even more wicked as he pressed forward.

Blake laughed and then settled down to co-operating. "Come on then. I'm ready to take anything you've got."

"You're not supposed to be..." Avon caught his breath as he thrust, half-sheathing himself, "ah, to be *taking*. You're Santa Claus."

"Never... oh, yes, that's good, Avon, do that again," Blake said greedily, his hands sliding down to Avon's buttocks, urging him to move faster and deeper.

"What, never?" Avon asked, putting his head down and arching his back as he picked up momentum, sliding in farther with each jerk of his hips.

"Not often enough, at least." Blake squirmed and reached for his cock. Considerately, Avon handed him the lube, and Blake cinnamon-spiced himself. Something in the lube stimulated the nerve endings, first a tingling, then a sensation that mingled burning with frostbite, but not in a painful way. It felt good up his arse and even better on his cock. Blake rocked back, meeting Avon's increasingly rough motions with equal force.

Avon stopped- in mid-thrust- panting and looking down at Blake, with his hair hanging sweaty into his eyes.

"AVON!" Blake's protest was heartfelt. He was filled, but without the added stimulous of Avon's steady pounding against his prostate, he could feel the edge of excitement receding. Blake's balls ached with need, and he wanted Avon to satisfy him, NOW.

"You were... saying something... about Santa..."

"Are you mad?" Blake shouted, and then he flinched, remembering that, yes, Avon was currently 'not right in the head', as Vila put it and Blake really shouldn't have allowed his cock to put him in this position. With Avon's cock in *that* position.

Avon tilted his head slightly and gave Blake one of his sweet smiles, the ones he usually reserved for Blake alone. "Mad about you, Blake."

Avon's cock twitched inside him and Blake moaned.

Avon grinned. "You've never heard about Santa Claus?" Unfairly, Blake was forced to wriggle, which seemed to be quite pleasant for Avon, but was nowhere near enough for Blake.

"NO! And I don't care, just fuck me, will you?"

"Santa," Avon said, returning to his task with such good will that Blake was willing to forgive Avon's ability to lecture while screwing like a bunny. "Santa has a list... of all the good boys... and girls... and..." Avon held still for a second, eyes shut and head flung back while he shook all over, then he drew a deep breath and continued thrusting. "If you are good... very, very good... Santa gives you.... your heart's desire..."

Blake was shoving his arse onto Avon's cock with bruising force, and clawing at Avon's back hard enough to break the skin. By then Avon had finally stopped lecturing and was biting at Blake's throat, and grabbing at Blake's cock and balls while he rammed himself up Blake so hard that the bed shook.

Blake got two fistfuls of Avon's hair and pulled him up for a savage kiss, just as orgasm struck Avon, who screamed into Blake's mouth, all hot peppermint-spice, and then collapsed on top of Blake.

Blake grunted and lurched up, forcing Avon to one side. He humped quickly against Avon's heaving belly, desperate to finish before Avon slackened inside him. "YES!" Blake shouted, as he completed his mission just in time, spurting white over the dark curls in the centre of Avon's chest.

He gazed at the decoration in satisfaction before untangling his legs from Avon's shoulders. By the time he'd got his legs down to Avon's waist, he'd decided to try to keep Avon with him as long as possible. Should have done that in the first place, instead of letting him go wandering off with the *Liberator*. He couldn't find an entirely comfortable position, but he was so tired, it didn't matter. He kissed Avon on the forehead.

He wasn't quite sure this was what the good doctor had prescribed for Avon, but bed-rest was always a sensible treatment.

Avon was muzzily pleased with himself. He wasn't quite sure why, because he also felt quite sore in numerous places, almost as if he'd been under interrogat... his eyes flew open and his heart raced as he prepared to fight for his life, his sanity, his dignity, whatever he could salvage.

"Oh, no," he said softly as he realized it was worse than interrogation. Lying next to him, legs and arms tightly wrapped around him, was his biggest mistake. He tried to extricate himself without waking Blake, carefully unclasping fingers and loosening ankles. He pulled his not quite entirely limp cock out of Blake's arse, and slithered off the bed. Where were his clothes...oh...Avon picked up the red and green garments, and winced again. Behind him, he heard the bed creak.


"Blake." Avon did not want to turn around. He was unaccountably embarrassed. Why should it be worse to have committed sodomy on the man than attempted murder? What was truly annoying was that he remembered the events with perfect clarity, unlike the fuzziness surrounding his other...*assault*... on Blake.

"Are you all right?" Blake had left the bed, and come around to face Avon.

"Fine. Wonderful," Avon bit out. Blake was standing there, perfectly unconcerned, not even attempting to hide the love-bites on his neck and shoulders. "Thank you for humoring me. It appears doctor Dimsdall's therapy was a success. Now, if you don't mind..." Avon started for the hygiene unit, intending to wash, dress, and be out of Blake's quarters within the next five minutes, if not sooner. Blake caught at Avon's arm and held him in place.

"Avon! That wasn't therapy!"

"A mercy fuck then, for old time's sake." That was a bit more palatable to Avon's pride. But not much. He tried to retrieve his arm, but Blake refused to let him go.

Blake let out a huge sigh. "Avon, I swear you are almost more trouble than you're worth. Almost." He grabbed Avon's other arm as well, and gave him a brief shake. "I like you, despite yourself, and you are damn good in bed. That's why I slept with you. I wish you would stop analysing every word and action of mine, looking for the knife in the back. It isn't there."

Avon contemplated Blake's words. Some sort of reply was necessary. "It's difficult to break old habits." He looked up into Blake's eyes. The scarred one was still disconcerting. "Particularly when they have been responsible for preserving my life. Such as it is."

"I find it tiring, suspecting the universe."

"It simplifies matters." Avon looked away from Blake, but he didn't resist as Blake pulled him close for a cuddle. "But it does get ...lonely," he finally admitted.

"For me, too." Blake rested his chin on Avon's shoulder. "I wish... I really wish that we could... well, continue."

"I am now committed to your Cause," Avon said, with only a slight sourness.

"That isn't what I meant."

"You're a sentimentalist."

"All right, forget sentiment. How about we simply share quarters and fuck every night?"

It was tempting, but how long could Blake keep it up? Avon stifled an involuntary giggle. He meant, how long would it be before Blake was bandying the word 'love'? Then again... Blake was very good at keeping secrets, even from himself when necessary. Perhaps... "If it is clearly understood that this is a temporary arrangement..." Blake nodded, and Avon said, "Well, then, I agree."

And then Blake kissed him, and Avon could see why Blake didn't need to say the words. Avon's head was whirling by the time Blake released him. He half-staggered to the bed and sat down. Blake followed and started to take the clothes from Avon's hand to toss them aside.

"No," Avon said sharply, as the movement reminded him. "We've got to get back to the party." He struggled out of Blake's clutch. "You're Santa, remember? We've got..." He looked at the wall chron, and frowned. "We've got fifteen minutes to shower and get back there."

"What happens if we're late?" Blake asked from his sprawl across the bed.

Avon picked up the red and white costume and flung it at Blake. "You get coal in your stocking, while I..." He looked at Blake's crotch for one long, lingering moment, and then he grinned, "wouldn't deserve a present from Santa's sack."

"Tease," Blake muttered to himself as Avon disappeared into the shower. Then he brightened. The shower was big enough for two, if they were friendly, and it should be a time-saver to share it.

"Ow." Blake grumbled and shifted as his 'elf' handed him another package topped by a bow-wrapped candy cane, and yet another laughing rebel came up to sit on Blake's lap for a moment to receive a present.

"No," Avon said out of the corner of his mouth, while arranging candy cane bouquets in tubs. "Santa says 'ho, ho, ho'."

Blake shifted again as the rebel got up after a playful tug on Blake's white whiskers. Blake had got the hang of talking without making the beard move in the first hour of playing Santa, and so he was able, without spoiling the scene, to tell Avon, "Not when he's had a cinnamon stick stuffed up him, he doesn't."

"Tell you what, Santa," Avon muttered, "*I'll* sit on your lap last tonight."


-- Willa Shakespeare---The Bawd of Avon

*(And in case you were wondering : P.G.P. stands for Pretty Good Party)

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