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First published in 1987 in the print fanzine "First Time" # 9.

Kirk was unable to suppress a groan as he attempted to straighten himself from his sagging position. Everything hurt, but most annoying was having his hands chained together above his head. He had been in that position for countless hours, and any weight taken off his weary feet put even more unbearable pressure on his weary arms. He was being held in the middle of a small, dirty cell, and did not even have the comfort of a wall to lean back against.

"Captain?"

The gentle, concerned voice reminded Kirk that he wasn't alone in his suffering. Slowly, he turned his head to the right. He was immediately sorry.

Spock, restrained in the same manner as Kirk, was standing four to five meters from him and looked even worse than Kirk himself felt. The lower half of the Vulcan's face was covered with drying green blood, as his nose had been broken many hours before. His tunic had been ripped to such shreds that their captors had eventually torn it off completely. Kirk had been spared that indignity, but his own tunic had its share of rips and tears, and his pants were also beginning to show some wear.

Even with the dim light provided in their cell, Kirk could see the bruises and swellings covering Spock's body. It was difficult controlling his anger.

"I'm all right," he replied, but his bitter tone betrayed him.

Apparently, Spock decided not to pursue a subject neither of them could do anything about. His own pain had gradually gnawed away at him, and when he spoke, his voice was halting and hoarse. "I believe...that this vessel...is experiencing engine trouble."

"I thought of that," Kirk muttered tiredly. "But I think the reason the hum of the engines sounds ‘off’ is because it's an alien design. We know their machinery isn't as good as ours."

"I do not think...that is the case," the Vulcan argued wearily. He took a deep breath through his mouth. His nose was so packed with dry blood that it was difficult breathing through it. "It is not just...from the sound of the engines...that I make my observation, but also...from the feel of them. This ship cannot possibly...be traveling any faster than warp two, and I believe...the efficiency of the engines has deteriorated in the thirty-eight...point two-six hours that we have been here."

Kirk cringed at his friend's difficulty in speaking. He wanted to tell him to not try to talk, but any information revealed could have bearing on their possible rescue. It was painful for him to speak, also, but his voice was less weary than the Vulcan's. After a thoughtful moment, he said, "What I can't figure out is what the hell a little scout ship is doing kidnapping Federation officers."

Spock drew a painful breath. "I do not believe they were on a mission to capture us...It is possible that it was merely 'luck' on their part...that they came upon our shuttle. Have you noticed their ages?"

Kirk considered the question. "They look young."

"Exactly. And they behave in an unsophisticated manner—even for their race. I find it doubtful that the Emperor would send men such as these...for a mission of such importance."

Kirk winced as his shoulder protested from his attempt to flex. "You may be right. But, unfortunately, it doesn't seem to increase our chances of rescue. I'm surprised they haven't exposed us to a mindsifter by now." Kirk grunted with disbelief. "They haven't even tried to question us."

"I do not think a ship of this size would contain a device such as a mindsifter. Perhaps our reputation precedes us...and they do not see the point of questioning us...until they have access to one."

"But why," Kirk grimaced, "the excessive brutality?"

"That is most curious," Spock agreed. "One would think they would want their prisoners in healthy...enough shape for questioning when they...decide to interrogate them."

Kirk sighed. "Maybe they just don't know what they're doing. If your theory about their age is right...." He drifted off, swallowing with difficulty. They had received no food or water since being beamed from their shuttle and finding themselves on the alien ship. Nor had they been allowed to relieve themselves. That problem had been solved for Kirk when he had received an effective blow to his bladder. "Do you have an estimate on how much time we have before we leave Federation space?"

It was a moment before Spock replied. "Considering the area of space that we were picked up in, the warp speed of this vessel...and the likelihood that the engines are not working at maximum efficiency, I estimate...that we are between nine and ten hours from the border."

"Once we're in their space," Kirk reflected forlornly, "it's going to be a lot tougher to rescue us."

"Indeed."

Their musings were interrupted by the sound of approaching footsteps.

"Shit," Kirk muttered. A feeling of dread washed over him as the door to their cell creaked open. It had been less than four hours since they'd last been subjected to a beating.

Four Klingons entered.

Kirk squared his jaw as the leader of the group came toward him. "What's the matter?" he demanded angrily, trying to ignore the pain brought on by the effort of shouting. "Have you run out of more important things to do?"

The Klingon's lips contorted into an ugly smile. "Why, Kirk, haven't you realized yet that you and your friend are our favorite form of entertainment?"

Kirk attempted to spit on him, but he had an insufficient supply of saliva to do so. Nevertheless, he received a powerful slap for his intentions. After recovering, he attempted to get his anger under control, and more calmly demanded, "What do you want from us?"

The Klingon smiled again. "Personally, very little. But what our government wants from you is another matter. You'll find out in due time." The smile turned into an angry snarl. "In the meantime, you will find out what it means to be an enemy of the Klingons."

The last statement was accompanied by a blow to his ribs, and Kirk sagged in his chains. He was vaguely aware of the footsteps of the other Klingons heading for Spock. He felt great remorse in addition to his pain. They knew Spock could take more, and they always had three or four men beating up on him at once; whereas Kirk only had one or two to deal with.

His anger ruled. "You fucking bastards!" he shouted weakly. "Why don't you release us and fight like men!" He received a fist in the diaphragm, and the wind gushed out of him. "Fucking cowards!" he managed in a painful whisper, but those were the last words he had the strength to say. As he sagged in his chains, trying to regain his breath, he was aware of the sound of flesh impacting with flesh a few meters from him. There were grunts of effort from the Klingons, but Spock was completely silent.

Kirk had been left alone while he recovered his breath, but just as he regained his feet, he received a powerful kick in the groin. His teeth bit into his lip to keep from crying out, but he could do nothing to stop the tears that slipped through his tightly shut eyes.

"Weakling Federate," the Klingon scoffed. He added another kick to a shin for good measure, then stepped away.

Kirk kept his head bowed as he gradually regained his breath. He didn't want to think about what was happening to Spock, but it was impossible to block out the sounds of the beating taking place such a short distance away.

Suddenly, a loud 'SNAP' sounded in the hollowness of the small room. Kirk was familiar enough with the noise to associate it with breaking bone. And he knew it wasn't one of his.

For a moment the room was completely silent. All Kirk could hear was the sound of his own breathing. Spock! He was afraid to look to his right to find out what had happened.

He recognized the leader's voice as it muttered something in Klingonese. A few other voices joined in. The only word Kirk could make out was the one for 'Emperor'. After a minute or two of discussion the Klingons abruptly left.

Kirk was finally able to stagger to his feet, and he felt immediate relief in his shoulders.

He was still afraid to look to his right. "Spock?" he whispered softly.

In answer, there was a deep, painful intake of breath.

"Don't answer if it hurts too much," Kirk said quickly.

"My ankle is broken," Spock whispered in a matter-of-fact tone.

Kirk slowly turned his head to look at his first officer. He swallowed heavily at the sight of his friend hanging from the chains. The Vulcan was trying to steady himself on his uninjured leg, and Kirk saw him grimace.

Flinching in reaction to the pain caused by the slightest movement of his body, Spock turned his head in Kirk's direction. The captain couldn't quite restrain a gasp from escaping.

Spock's right eye was swollen completely shut, and his entire face was covered with cuts and bruises. His nose had started to bleed again, and the fresh blood trickled down to his already blood-covered mouth and chin.

Kirk's heart suddenly hurt more than the rest of his entire body. Of all the beings he had served with, Spock was the last to deserve this kind of treatment. He didn't dare speak until he had his emotions under control.

"Is there anything I can do?" he whispered softly. He knew it was a stupid question, but he had to ask.

Speck's tongue flicked out to remove the fresh blood from his lips. Hoarsely, he said, "Perhaps conversation can distract me from the discomfort...."

Kirk tried to swallow. Hopefully, he said, "What about a healing trance? Are there any of those techniques you can use to help yourself?"

Wearily, Spock said, "It is impossible under these conditions. I would need to...be in a trance...for quite some time for proper healing. I do not think..." he drew another painful breath, "the Klingons would allow me...to stay under that long." After a moment's hesitation he quietly added, "I also do not believe...I have the strength...to initiate such a trance."

Kirk had always known that, despite his Vulcan superiority, Spock had his limits. But he'd never seen his friend confront them before.

He changed the subject. "Could you make out what the Klingons were saying to each other?"

The other replied, "I believe they were concerned...about the amount of damage they have inflicted...upon us. They were saying something...about the Emperor perhaps not being pleased...with the shape of the prisoners."

"It's about time they figured that out," Kirk murmured angrily.

Despite his resolve to keep talking for Spock's sake, Kirk felt himself growing too weary for speech. It took all his concentration just to keep himself on his feet. He was so tired of standing, but taking the weight off his feet meant putting even worse strain on his arms, and that was something he wanted to avoid.

He knew that he had some broken ribs, some loose teeth, a swollen groin, and numerous cuts and bruises. But his pain paled in comparison to what Spock was putting up with.

He glanced at his friend again. The Vulcan was maintaining his lopsided stance and concentrating on staying completely still, as the slightest movement irritated the injured leg. He was letting his arms support some of his weight, and Kirk was very familiar with how uncomfortable that feeling was.

Suddenly, the ship lurched and both men were tossed about as much as their chains would allow. Cries of pain escaped from both of them.

"The Enterprise!" Kirk exclaimed hoarsely when he'd regained his breath.

The ship lurched again. Kirk's hope of rescue overpowered some of his own pain. But he heard Spock let out a series of groans as the Vulcan attempted to hold himself steady. "Hang on, Spock! It's got to be a rescue." There was a third lurch. The lights flickered and the ship was suddenly silent.

It was a number of minutes before Kirk was able to deal with his throbbing body and bring himself under enough control to think straight. His heart accelerated when he realized the ship no longer had any power. "We're drifting!"

But his elation faded when he glanced at his friend. Spock was very pale, his face twisted in a grimace. The Vulcan was breathing so heavily that Kirk could hear each painful intake of air.

For another fifteen minutes nothing happened. They may have been prisoners of the Klingons for less than two days, but Kirk felt it had been the longest forty hours of his life. He hoped desperately that their discomfort was about to come to an end.

Suddenly there was a shout in English from outside the door. "They're in here! I've got Vulcan readings."

Kirk let his sense of relief overwhelm him and his whole body began to tremble. His throat felt tight -- with anger that they had been captured at all, and with gratitude for their rescue.

He recognized the whine of a phaser. A moment later the door to their cell creaked open and a red-shirted Enterprise crewman entered with an open comnunicator in one hand and a phaser in the other. The man took in the situation in an instant and spoke into his conmunicator. "I've got them, but they're in chains. We need the key or something to get them down with."

"I'll get it from the prisoners," a familiar voice responded.

Kirk managed a weak smile. "Jackson, it's good to see you." Then he frowned and gestured to Spock. "Get him down first."

The guard nodded as he took in the Vulcan's condition. Spock was completely silent. His head was bowed, and he could have been unconscious except that he was maintaining most of his weight on his good foot. Jackson looked back at Kirk. "It won't be much longer, Captain."

Kirk nodded and swallowed anxiously. He didn't think he could tolerate another moment with his arms pinned above his head. He wished he could order Jackson to phaser them down, but the chains were so short that it was likely their arms could be caught in the deadly ray, as well.

Sulu entered with a smile, three security guards behind him, and an awkwardly shaped piece of metal in his hands. He held up the metal as he entered. "They didn't give us too much trouble about this," he said with a smile.

"Spock first," Kirk muttered. He saw the helmsman's face reflect the condition of the first officer. Sulu handed the key to Jackson with a nod.

"His ankle is broken," Kirk said hoarsely. He didn't have to mention which one. "Be careful with him," he pleaded.

While Jackson reached up to the lock on Spock's chains, the other guards gathered around the Vulcan, ready to catch him if he fell. One had a hand behind the Vulcan's calf, steadying the bad ankle.

Sulu was speaking into his communicator. "Have medical teams standing by. The captain and Mr. Spock are both seriously injured."

Spock was released, and Kirk felt a curious twinge of jealousy as he watched his friend being supported by a myriad of strange arms. The Vulcan obviously could no longer stand, and the red-shirts allowed him to gently slip to the floor. The first officer hadn't said a word since the Enterprise personnel had arrived, and Kirk wondered if he'd finally allowed himself to slip into unconsciousness.

Jackson moved to Kirk and reached up to the chains. When the captain saw Sulu start to put a supporting arm around him. Kirk warned him off. "Ribs are broken," he muttered.

His arms were finally released from the chains, and Sulu caught him by the shoulders as he slumped. He, too, slid wearily to the floor.

"Stand-by to beam up six," Sulu said into his communicator. He looked at the group of guards surrounding Spock. "Eetlid, you take the three men on the bridge and make a complete check of this ship. Make sure we've got them all."

The Cronth nodded and left the room with a lumbering gait. Sulu turned back to his communicator. "Ready to energize."

Throughout the rescue Kirk had felt an instinctive need to take charge of the situation, but his body was too weary to respond. And now that he felt the tingle of the transporter, he suddenly felt very, very tired. He had brought his shaking under control when Jackson had entered the room, but now tremors claimed him again, and they grew worse as he materialized on the Enterprise.

McCoy was there in an instant with his scanner. "Take it easy, Jim."

"Spock first," Kirk managed shakily. "Take care of Spock," he coughed raggedly.

McCoy beckoned the anti-grav stretcher over. "M'Benga's with him."

Kirk had his arms wrapped around himself. "What's wrong with me?" he muttered, not able to deal with the pain.

McCoy laid a hand on his shoulder and smiled kindly at him. "Looks like a combination of weakness and delayed shock. We'll take good care of you, Jim."

Kirk then heard McCoy speak to his assistants in a concerned, professional tone. He was also aware of instructions being given and hypos being injected into his arms and neck, but it all seemed very far away. He finally allowed his eyes to close as he was lifted onto the stretcher. He wasn't ever able to recall reaching Sickbay. The pain ate away at him until blackness washed over him.

During the next twenty-four hours Kirk occasionally drifted into consciousness, but it wasn't until the second day following their rescue that he was alert enough to ask coherent questions. He had inquired about Spock whenever he had wakened, but it wasn't until now that he was able to understand what McCoy was trying to tell him.

"They worked him over pretty good, Jim," the doctor was explaining while sitting on the edge of Kirk's bed. "He'll mend, though. M'Benga's trying to build up his strength enough so that he can go into a healing trance to repair his ankle. The trance will work much faster than anything we can do for him."

"How is he feeling?" Kirk asked worriedly.

"I'm sure he would deny feeling anything," the doctor replied wryly. "Except he's asked about you, of course."

Kirk allowed a smile to quirk at his mouth, but it faded as he glanced about the room. "Where is he?"

"In isolation—out of respect for his privacy more than anything else. But when he goes into that trance we won't want anyone else around except the medical staff. That's tricky stuff. I wouldn't approve of it at all, except M'Benga's so confident that it's the best thing for him."

"Is he in pain, Bones?"

The doctor rubbed his chin. "I think all he's feeling now is some stiffness and soreness—like you. We're keeping him pretty drugged up, though we haven't been able to get him to sleep as much as you have. He's been good about keeping still, though. He hasn't tried to move around much."

The doctor was thoughtful before continuing. "M'Benga did a good job on his nose with the laser. You won't even be able to tell that it was broken, except for the bruising it'll have around it for awhile. Of course, we lasered his ankle, too. Normally, it would take at least a week for a bone that thick to become completely healed, but supposedly the healing trance will make it well in a matter of hours." The doctor shrugged. "All the other injuries he had were similar to yours...broken ribs, a punctured lung, multiple contusions and lacerations, and you both got nailed in the groin pretty good, as well."

"It was all so senseless," Kirk said bitterly. "They didn't even want any information from us. It was so frustrating being tormented for no reason." He shook his head. "Spock didn't deserve that."

"Neither did you." McCoy gave him a sympathetic pat on the shoulder. "Get a good night's sleep," he said with a smile, "and I'll let you return to your quarters tomorrow."

Kirk's anger faded and he looked at McCoy hopefully. "Can I see Spock first?"

The doctor sighed. "As much as I don't like the idea of you getting out of bed, I think a visit from you may do that pointy-eared computer some good." He paused. "I think something's bothering him, but I don't know what it is." He watched Kirk frown with concern. "I'll get you a robe."

It was painful, but Kirk had himself in a sitting position when McCoy returned with the robe. The doctor helped him into it and supported him by the elbow as they headed into the isolation ward.

Smiling as he approached his friend, Kirk saw what McCoy meant about the bruising. Spock's nose was one big dark greenish-brown contusion. His right eye still had a good deal of puffiness around it, but at least it was partially open.

The captain pulled a chair up behind him as he stopped at the bedside. "Hi," he whispered as he sat down.

The corners of Spock's lips twitched as he turned his head. "Captain."

"I wanted to see you before McCoy made me go to sleep again. How do you feel?"

"The discomfort is minimal."

"I'm glad to hear that."

"You are obviously mobile."

Kirk smiled. "I'm stiff and sore, but McCoy's going to let me go back to my quarters tomorrow." He patted a green-tinged hand that was lying on top of the covers. "I guess you're still going to be in here for a few more days."

"That is unfortunate. I am confident that I can safely undergo a healing trance, but Dr. M’Benga will not allow it at this time."

With concern, Kirk said, "McCoy said that you aren't strong enough yet. He has a lot of faith in M'Benga. I think you ought to listen to him."

"It seems that I have no choice," Spock replied stiffly.

"Spock..." Kirk began softly. He looked shyly at his friend. "McCoy says that he thought something is bothering you. Can I help?"

Spock frowned in irritation. "As is his usual habit, McCoy has applied a human condition to my Vulcan mentality."

Kirk ignored the automatic denial. "Spock, what happened on the Klingon ship wasn't your fault."

Spock’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Of course not. Why do you feel I would think such a thing?"

Kirk shrugged. "I just thought you might be feeling guilty...it's something I often feel whenever someone gets hurt."

Spock lowered his head. He had to be honest and, quietly, he confessed, "I am experiencing some...regret that I was not able to help you."

Kirk's eyes narrowed with concern. "Spock, you were hurt a lot more than I was. Can you imagine what I was feeling, because I wasn't able to help you?"

"You are my captain," came the blunt reply. "It is my responsibility as a subordinate to protect you."

Kirk could play that game, too. "And it's my responsibility," he said forcefully, "to see to the safety of my crew. Where you're concerned I obviously failed. Badly."

The Vulcan's features reflected concern. "Jim, there was nothing you could have done to prevent our capture. And, certainly, once we were being held in the chains—"

"Which is exactly my point," the human interrupted softly. He picked up Spock's hand and squeezed it as he whispered, "I think we both should forgive ourselves. Don't you?"

Spock lowered his eyes. But he returned the pressure with his hand. "That would be logical," he admitted softly, his lids dropping.

Kirk sighed with relief. They were both silent as he studied the Vulcan's features. Frowning, he said, "I could kill those bastards for what they did to you—to us. It's a good thing they'll be dropped off at Starbase 22 before I'm back on duty, because if I have an opportunity to see any one of them again, I'll—"

"Violence would serve no purpose," Spock interrupted softly. "We cannot take back the pain that they caused."

"It was all so senseless, Spock—especially for you. I'm the captain of this ship. I expect things like that to happen if I fall into enemy hands, but you—"

"Are also a member of Starfleet and, therefore, aware of the risks as much as you are," Spock replied seriously.

Kirk shook his head. "You're a scientist at heart," he said softly. "A curious, kind, intelligent being who values all life. Even theirs. You forgive them for what they did. I don't."

Spock's eyes closed for a moment. "I will recover completely. None of the damage was permanent. The pain was...difficult, but our situation could have been worse, could it not?" His eyes opened.

Kirk squeezed the Vulcan's hand again. "You're stubborn, First Officer," he said without dampening his affection. He stood up and released the hand. "Get some rest. I'll see you tomorrow."

Spock had closed his eyes again. "Good night, Captain." The voice was weary.

McCoy was waiting for Kirk outside the door to the isolation ward. It was a good thing, because the captain was out of breath when he reached him. The doctor assisted him back into bed and asked if any medication was necessary for him to be able to sleep. Kirk shook his head, so McCoy waved down the lights and left him alone.

I have to take better care of him, Kirk thought as he stared into the darkness. He's so pure. So alone. I'm the only real friend he's got. He won't let anybody else get close to him. Kirk smiled at that possessive knowledge and gradually drifted into sleep.

The Enterprise arrived at Starbase 22 twelve hours later, and the Klingons were turned over to the authorities there, as was their ship, which had been brought in with the tractor beam. The Enterprise security team had attempted to question the prisoners but were unable to get any answers from them. Kirk and Spock each filed their reports, and the conclusion they speculated upon was that the tiny scout ship was in Federation space on a spy mission, and had come across the shuttlecraft Columbia by accident. They had beamed aboard the two Starfleet officers, who had been on a diplomatic assignment, then attempted to warp back to Klingon territory. The Enterprise had begun its search when its senior officers were two hours overdue.

Kirk was released from Sickbay with orders to stay in his cabin for twenty-four hours. The next day he would be free to roam the ship, and the following day he could begin light duty.

It was during his first light-duty day that Kirk was walking through the corridor after checking Engineering, when he heard the voices of two women speaking in the corridor which intersected the one he was in. When he heard the words, "Mr. Spock" he abruptly stopped where he was—not quite near enough to the intersection for the two women to see him, but close enough to hear.

"I know what you mean, Sue," one of the women was saying. "I was on my way to the Bio Lab one time, and the crewman next to me stumbled and fell against me. So, I stumbled, too, and ran into Mr. Spock. He put his hand on my arm to make sure I didn't fall. But as soon as I was steady he jerked his hand away as if I had some kind of contagious disease. A real cold fish, that one. I mean...."

"Well, you know what they say about Vulcans," the other one put in. "The only thing they're capable of making love to is a computer, because not only do logical machines appeal to them, but they've got electrical outlets where their cocks ought to be."

The other giggled and Kirk could hear both sets of footsteps as they started the opposite way down the hall. "That's bad, Kreith."

"I know," the other said, "but I hear it all the time so it must be true."

"I’d never heard it before, but then I never paid much attention," Sue was saying as their voices faded away.

Kirk resumed his walking, anger settling in on him. There's no harm in joke-telling, but I don't like it. Not when it involves Spock. Cold fish! Spock's one of the warmest people I've ever known. Why an I the only one who sees it?

He was still angry when he reached his quarters. He lay on his bunk and placed a weary hand on his forehead. I wonder if he's ever heard jokes like that. Probably--with his hearing. Shit. If he wasn't so sensitive it wouldn't matter as much. But he is sensitive—to all other living things. He's the most selfless person I've ever known. I wonder how it affects him when he hears jokes like that. I know he wouldn't admit to anything. But it has to hurt.

Kirk glanced at the chronometer. He got up on an elbow and activated the bedside intercom. "Kirk to Sickbay."

"McCoy here, Jim."

"How is Spock?"

The doctor pulled at his chin. "He's in his healing trance now and M'Benga's keeping a close eye on him. So far, so good. He should be coming out of it in about four hours. I'll let you know when he's awake."

"Thanks, Bones. Kirk out." Feeling better, Kirk got up and proceeded to the bridge.

* * * * *

When Spock emerged from his trance his ankle was completely healed. Unfortunately, he only had the capability to concentrate on one injury at a time, and his face still showed the marks of his ordeal, and his ribs still had some soreness, though the fractures in them had been lasered together. McCoy released him from Sickbay with a schedule for returning to duty similar to the one given Kirk.

On the first evening after Spock had been released to his quarters, Kirk stood outside the Vulcan’s door. He rang the buzzer and entered with a smile after the door opened to admit him.

"Captain," Spock greeted as he stood. He was wearing his regulation trousers and black undershirt.

Kirk didn't pause the way he had the past few days whenever he looked at Spock. He had finally gotten used to the bruises on Spock's face. He held up a small jar of medicated cream. "I came to see if you were interested in a back rub. This is the same stuff they used on us in Sickbay."

Kirk watched the Vulcan's eyebrows dart up in surprise. He was offering a service that few—if any—captains did for their first officers, but he wanted to do this for Spock. They both had suffered severe muscle strains from hanging from the chains on the Klingon ship. Kirk had returned to Sickbay daily for a therapeutic massage. Spock had tolerated it for a few days, then had insisted that the treatments weren't necessary. "You know how he hates to be touched," McCoy had told Kirk.

But he accepts my touch,

Kirk thought, recalling many such instances. Will he allow it now?

When the silence dragged out, he was certain he was going to be rejected. But the Vulcan finally said, "That is...kind of you."

Kirk shrugged casually and moved a few steps further into the room. "I know it's no fun being treated in Sickbay—all those strange people around, poking at you. So, I asked Bones for a jar of this stuff. I got all caught up on my paperwork during my convalescence, so I thought I'd see if you'd like to be the victim of my amateur techniques."

He smiled, but he wondered if Spock thought him a babbling idiot. The Vulcan probably wouldn't be able to understand how important this was to him.

But Spock merely nodded, his eyes fastened on Kirk, as though seeing right through him. Kirk cleared his throat discreetly, then tilted his head toward the bedroom.

Spock moved into his sleeping alcove and reached up to remove his shirt. That simple act made him flinch, and he paused before proceeding.

Kirk was watching him. "You are still sore, aren't you?" he asked with concern. "I couldn't get in or out of my clothes for days without swearing. Today's the first day I haven't felt as much as a twinge."

As Spock folded his T-shirt, he said, "I believe that lying so many days in a Sickbay bed aggravated the situation."

Kirk smiled. "Probably."

Spock moved to the bed, and Kirk watched with admiration as the lean form lowered itself face-down onto the mattress. Then he moved to sit at the Vulcan's side, and unscrewed the lid to the jar.

"I know my hands are going to feel cold to you," he said as he scooped up some of the ointment, "but I'll try to get the friction going as quickly as possible."

The cream was warm to his skin, but he wasn't sure how it felt to Spock. He placed a good helping across the Vulcan's shoulders, then began to rub it briskly all about the upper back. When he'd used up the initial helping of ointment, he asked, "Where is it the worst?"

Spock reached behind him and pointed to the area around his shoulder blades. Kirk smiled. "Yeah, it was bad for me there, too. And it's impossible to reach."

He applied more cream and gave the area his full attention. Spock had been staring silently at the wall across from him, but now his eyes began to close in reaction to the miraculous hands. He doesn't like to be touched, huh? Hell, he looks like he's going to fall asleep on me. That thought pleased him.

As his arms grew weary he slowed his strokes and moved down to give the rest of Spock's back some attention. He marveled at the lack of fat on the healthy body. And the skin had a peculiar texture—not really rough, but with more thickness than a human's. He'd seen Spock bare before, but this was the first time he'd actually had a chance to examine his skin.

Satisfied that he'd been thorough, Kirk screwed the lid back onto the jar. He leaned toward the Vulcan's head. "Spock?" he whispered.

The dark eyes opened abruptly. "What is it, Captain?" he asked a little too quickly.

Kirk grinned. "I was just checking to see if you were asleep. I guess I woke you up."

Spock started to rise. "You did no such thing. I was not asleep."

Kirk doubted it, but it wasn't worth arguing about. He watched as Spock settled into a sitting position. "I’m finished for now. How'd I do?"

For a moment, it looked as though Spock didn't know what he was talking about. Then the Vulcan said, "You did quite well. It was...pleasing." He flexed his back and shoulders. "The discomfort is considerably reduced."

Kirk smiled again. "Good. I'll do it again tomorrow, if you want."

Spock gave him an appraising look. "Captain—Jim—would you like me to reciprocate?"

It was a moment before Kirk answered. He thought about how nice it would feel to have those warm, graceful hands roaming over his back. But he'd already told Spock he no longer suffered from any muscle strain. If he agreed to a massage, it would be asking to be pampered.

He shook his head. "I don't really need it. But, thanks." He stood. "Good night, Spock."

"Good night, Jim."

* * * * *

After the brief visit to Starbase 22 the Enterprise was ordered to routine patrol of its assigned quadrant of space. While the ship was enroute to the area, McCoy summoned Kirk to his office.

"What would you say to a few days of shore leave?" the doctor asked him.

Kirk was seated in the chair in front of McCoy's desk. His eyes narrowed with suspicion. "We aren’t scheduled for shore leave for another month. You know that."

"Well, actually, I was thinking in terms of medical leave."

Kirk was exasperated. "Bones, I don’t need medical leave! You've certified me fit for duty. And I haven't had any problems since going back to work. I feel fine."

McCoy folded hands on top of his desk. "Actually, Jim, you would be just be a passenger. It's Spock I'm concerned about."

Worriedly, Kirk whispered, "What’s wrong with Spock?"

"Oh, he checks out fine, Jim. But he's been a bit 'gloomy' lately, if you know what I mean. He seems even quieter than usual."

Kirk nodded slowly.

"He had a rough time on that ship," McCoy continued. "Anyhow, I thought it would do him some good to spend a few days on leave. Of course, there wouldn’t be much point in sending him by himself. He'd just brood. So, I thought you could go with him."

Kirk was thoughtful. After a moment, he nodded. "All we’re doing now is routine patrol. I guess the ship could stand a few days without us."

McCoy sat back in his chair. "I've already looked up the planets in the area. The only one appropriate would be Clarion IV. It has some nice wilderness areas with no dangerous predators." He looked at Kirk apologetically. "Sorry, Jim, but I’m afraid it won't be the kind of leave you'd normally look for after the ordeal you've been through."

Kirk knew what he meant. Whenever he recovered from being physically abused he felt a need to go out and prove his virility. He smiled easily. "I have been a little horny lately, but it's not anything I can't handle. Besides, Spock's health is more important to me right now than kicking up my heels."

McCoy nodded with approval. "I figured that's how you'd feel about it. So, what do you say to five days on Clarion IV? I don't want either of you doing anything too strenuous down there, so I thought that your concern for each other would keep you from over-exerting yourselves, as well as keeping each other company."

Kirk reached forward and switched on the intercom at McCoy's desk. "Kirk to helm."

"Sulu here, Captain."

"Give me an ETA to Clarion IV at present speed."

It was a couple of minutes before there was a response. "ETA to Clarion IV is twenty-eight hours, sir."

"Change course to Clarion IV."

"Aye, sir."

Kirk switched off the intercom and rose to his feet. "I'll tell Spock."

* * * * *

Spock was spending his shift in the computer lab, and Kirk sent a message to the unit in the Vulcan's quarters, asking him to drop by Kirk's cabin when he was free. The captain was resting on his bunk when his door was buzzed.

"In here," Kirk called when the Vulcan entered his office area. Spock moved over to the doorway of the sleeping alcove. "You wished to see me, Captain?"

Kirk didn't bother to get up. He placed his hand behind his head. "I just wanted to let you know that we've both been granted medical leave."

Spock frowned. "Medical leave?"

Kirk hadn't expected his first officer to be happy about it. "Yes. Bones thinks it would be good for us. There's a nice little planet about a day away that would be good to relax on for a while."

Spock looked troubled. "Captain, I do not need to 'relax'."

"It's medical orders," Kirk said sharply and then smiled. "Besides, what fun would it be for me to go down there alone?" He had expected Spock to resist, so he figured if he made it look like he was the one who needed the rest the Vulcan would agree to it out of concern for him.

The ploy worked. Spock said, "Then it seems we have no choice. I will accompany you, Captain." He hesitated. "Is that all, sir?"

Kirk finally sat up. With a grin, he said, "Yes, Mr. Spock. Except that, when we get there, I want you to call me 'Jim'."

Spock arched an eyebrow. "Very well, sir."

* * * * *

It was during the third day of their leave that Kirk found himself moving worriedly through a shallow but darkening forest. The large Clarion sun was disappearing into the horizon and he was concerned for his missing Vulcan friend.

"Spock?" he called hopefully.

He took another step forward and a twig snapped loudly beneath his sturdy hiking boots. He grimaced in irritation, then continued on.

There, in the clearing, he spotted the black sweater that clothed the Vulcan's back. Its owner sat on a boulder, facing away from him. The shoulders were slumped, the head bowed.

"Spock?" he inquired as he approached. He thought he saw the slumped shoulders tremble. "Do not come any closer," a hoarse voice warned.

Kirk halted. "Spock? What's wrong?" This time he was sure the shoulders trembled. He took a step forward. "Spock...."

"Please, Jim! Do not come any closer!"

Kirk stopped at the emphatic tone. His stomach twisted with worry. "Are you sick?"

There was a hesitation. Then, "No."

Kirk took another step forward. He could now hear the Vulcan draw a deep breath. He swallowed loudly, his worry increasing. "Spock, what is it? Why won't you look at me?"

"Jim, please. Go back to camp. Now!

Kirk was incredulous, but he didn't speak any louder than was necessary. "It's practically dark. I'm not going to go off and leave you." He took another step forward and was now only a couple of meters from his friend.

"Jim!" The tone was almost a threat. "Please go back." The voice was calmer when it added, "I will return...when I am ready."

Kirk held out his hands to the back that couldn't see them. "Let me help."

"No," came the thick reply. "You will only make it worse."

Kirk's chest tightened at the painful rejection. Then a memory crossed his mind. It had only been two years since the last trip to Vulcan, but the way Spock was acting...

"Spock, is it...are you..."

"No!"

"Then what?" Kirk demanded, his fear making him angry. "Gods, Spock, I want to help you!"

"Then go back." There was a pause. "I will return when I am ready to do so."

Kirk wanted to shout his frustration. But he settled for a warning. In a command tone, he barked, "All right, I'll go. But when you get back we're going to talk about this, Mister."

The Vulcan’s swallow was audible. "Very well."

"You have one hour, or I’ll come back."

"Understood."

Kirk turned on his heel. As he retreated from the clearing, fear and anger battled within him. His intelligence sought dominance as he made his way through the woods. Spock would have some logical reason for his behavior. But his Vulcan reticence could sure be damned annoying at times.

"You will only make it worse," Spock had said. Kirk's resolve softened. My poor Vulcan friend, what could it be that you refuse to let me help you with?

It was dark when he reached their small camp, located in another clearing a couple of miles from where he'd found Spock. He went about building a fire, trying to recall what might have happened to account for Spock's mysterious behavior.

They had beamed down to a bright, crisp morning on Clarion IV two days earlier. They had set up camp in an uninhabited area, and had spent two days hiking, swimming and exploring. This evening they had relaxed in their folding chairs to watch the sunset.

Kirk had felt at peace with the universe then. He and his companion had silently watched the big ball sink into the horizon. He had looked over at Spock and smiled to express his contentment.

Now that he thought back on it, the Vulcan had seemed just a bit nervous as dusk began to settle around them. Kirk had chalked it up to the laziness of the evening—the lack of mental and physical stimulation that the Vulcan was normally accustomed to. Spock was one who didn't relax easily.

Spock had stood up and silently moved off to the woods. Kirk had assumed his friend was going to relieve himself. But when he hadn't returned after twenty minutes, Kirk began to search for him. Shortly thereafter, he found him sitting on the rock in the clearing.

Soft footsteps signalled Spock's return to camp. Kirk looked up only for a moment when the black-clad figure emerged from the woods. They had gathered a pile of wood earlier, and he now concentrated on adding more sticks to the fire.

He felt bad now that he had all but ordered the Vulcan to report to him when he returned. Whatever Spock's problem was it was important that his friend choose to share it with him. And he'd taken that freedom away with his harsh words in the other clearing.

He watched the fire while Spock disappeared into their tent. The Vulcan emerged a moment later, dragging his sleeping bag out and settling it next to the fire.

"Good idea," Kirk approved conversationally. "It's a lot warmer tonight than before. I’d much rather sleep under the stars." He felt foolish for making small talk. "Spock, I'm sorry about what I told you earlier. You don't have to talk to me if you don't want to."

The Vulcan had been smoothing out his bedroll. He paused at Kirk's words but did not look up. "I apologize, also. I did not mean to frighten you." He went back to fussing with the bag, but paused again to add, "I owe you an explanation."

Kirk smiled softly. "You don't owe me anything. But I'd be lying if I said I'm not interested in what's going on. I'm concerned about you, Spock."

Kirk poured himself a cup of coffee and sat in one of the folding chairs they'd used to watch the sunset, his back to his companion. He sipped his coffee slowly, and when the cup was empty he set it on the ground next to the chair. When he looked up Spock was standing before him.

"I will speak with you now," the Vulcan said.

Kirk noted that tenseness had returned to the black frame. "Sit down," he offered softly. He was referring to the chair next to him. To his surprise, Spock knelt down on both knees in front of him, his head bowed.

Kirk's heart went out to his friend, who looked so vulnerable. He reached out, placed his hands on the trembling shoulders, and waited.

Spock swallowed loudly. Without looking up, he stuttered, "I...I..." He inhaled deeply. It didn't help much, because his voice still quivered. "Earlier, I had...I was..." he suddenly whispered, "sexually aroused."

Kirk was silent as he let the confession sink in. When it had, he thought, Is that all?

But this was Spock. And nothing concerning Spock could ever be taken lightly. He focused on the bowed head. Gods, he's like a big, innocent teenager.

He squeezed the tense shoulders. "Spock," he said softly, "it's nothing to be ashamed of. It's not wrong."

"For humans, perhaps," Spock countered in the same soft tone. His head was still bowed.

Kirk didn't want to get into a Vulcan versus human argument. Gently, he asked,"What was it that aroused you? Do you know?"

The question brought forth another loud swallow,and the answer that followed was a hoarse whisper. "You."

Kirk wasn't sure why that single word didn't surprise him. Thoughts concerning his own feelings raced through his mind, but he pushed them aside. His first concern was comforting Spock. And he wasn't sure how to go about doing that.

He squeezed the shoulders again. "I'm not upset, if that's what you're afraid of." He chuckled. "I guess I'm even a little flattered, but..." He switched to another train of thought, his voice softening. "Is this the first time...that it's happened?"

The bowed head nodded and the voice was clearer this time. "Yes, this is the first time that I...have not been able to control myself. But...the desire...has been quite strong at times."

Kirk studied the shamed figure and his throat tightened. "Spock, please, you don't have to hide from me. I'd never hold anything like this against you."

Slowly, Spock raised his head. After his face lifted, his eyes continued the upward motion until they met Kirk's.

The captain almost winced at the guilt and fear in those brown depths. "It's all right, Spock," he soothed, not sure of what to say next. He furrowed a brow. "You are all right now, aren't you?"

The Vulcan began to relax. "Yes. When you left me alone I was able to bring myself under control."

Kirk shrugged sheepishly, hesitating to ask his next question. "Uh, Spock, what was it I did that caused it?"

Spock's tone was one of defeat, and he looked away. "You kept smiling at me!"

Kirk almost laughed, but he knew how difficult this must be. "I'm sorry," he said softly. "I didn't know my smile bothered you."

Spock sighed and looked back at Kirk. "Your smile is one of the best gifts you have to offer."

Kirk felt very touched by those words. But he realized that he and Spock had a serious problem. "Well," he said in a light tone that attempted to ease the mood, "the way I see it, a decision has to be made."

Spock regarded him with questioning eyes.

Kirk shrugged. "If my smile bothers you now, it will probably continue to do so."

"That is logical."

"So, we can either start avoiding each other, I can start glowering, or we can do something about our feeling."

Spock asked, "Do what?"

This time Kirk did chuckle, but it was a nervous sound. "Act on those feelings, you silly Vulcan! Instead of hiding them from each other." Spock's expression was still puzzled, and Kirk's smile faded. He reached up with one hand and ran it through the soft black hair. "I love you."

Spock quickly looked away. "Those words," he said hoarsely, "they hold much meaning for humans."

"Yes," Kirk whispered, "they do."

Spock swallowed. "Jim, I have no experience with this. I...I do not know how to respond to such words."

Kirk felt his heart accelerate. He was aroused by Spock's innocence, and he scolded himself for taking advantage. But he's a few years older than I am, and I don't think he's ever made love. Gods, how I want to show him what a pleasure it can be.

Kirk shifted, conscious of his growing erection. "Respond in any manner you feel like responding. We have to be honest with each other. There's no reason to hide anything." Kirk shifted again. "But I need to know; what do you want?"

Spock shook his head. "I do not know." He looked at Kirk suddenly. "Is not what you want also important?"

Kirk nodded, silently applauding the clever question. "I want to make love with you," he replied softly. "I want to show you how beautiful it can be." He yearned to reach out and stroke Spock's cheek, but he didn't want his actions to influence his friend's decision.

Spock was silent for awhile, but Kirk was relieved to see the thin frame relax. Finally, the Vulcan said, "I did not know you felt a physical attraction for me."

Kirk shrugged again. "It hasn't been something I've thought consciously about. But, now, it's obvious that I do." He glanced unabashedly at his crotch. "And it seems we both feel the same way about each other. Agreed?"

Spock nodded. "Agreed."

Silence stretched. This time, Kirk did reach out and caress a green-tinged cheek. "Do you want to make love?" he asked. "I don't want to pressure you into it, if it's not what you want."

Spock closed his eyes. Fearfully, he warned, "It is happening again."

Kirk's fingers paused. "What? You're getting another hard-on?"

Spock opened his eyes and stared at Kirk as he let the meaning register. Then he nodded.

"Don't fight it," Kirk advised softly. He reached down and picked up the Vulcan's hand. Rising from his chair, he said, "Come on. We'll take care of it."

Spock was rooted where he knelt. His voice was still fearful. "I have no experience with this, Jim. I do not know what to do!"

The corner of Kirk's mouth twitched in sympathy and gentle amusement. He tugged at the hand again. "It's all right. I'll take care of everything. Trust me."

That was a request that Spock could not deny. He allowed Kirk to help him to his feet, and then followed his captain over to the lone sleeping bag near the fire.

Kirk considered going to the tent and bringing out his own, but he didn't want to break the mood of the moment. Instead, he knelt down next to Spock's, pulling the Vulcan down with him so that the other was kneeling on the material.

Kirk put his hands on his friend's chest, encouraging Spock to lie down. When the black-clad figure complied and stretched out, Kirk could see the straining bulge in the crotch of his pants. He also noticed fear in the dark eyes, and he reached out with his left hand and ran it through the shiny black hair. His right hand went straight to the protrusion between the Vulcan's legs.

"Let's see what you've got hiding in there," he whispered, wondering if he was going to be able to contain his excitement. His hand quickly unfastened the confining material. As soon as the fly was open he gripped the waistband of both the underwear and the trousers and pulled them down to the Vulcan's knees.

The green-tinged phallus sprang free.

"Gods, how beautiful," Kirk whispered. He grasped the organ, gently sliding his hand up and down.

Spock groaned and closed his eyes.

"Yes, feel it, Spock!" Kirk encouraged. He himself was breathing heavily, wanting so much to throw himself on top of his friend and quickly bring them both release.

But he didn't want to be rough with Spock, either. He moved his hand down the shaft until it found the taut scrotal sac underneath. He fondled it lovingly, careful not to squeeze too tightly.

Spock's moans became louder and from deep within his chest. His slitted eyes were watching Kirk, and he began to writhe beneath the hand that continued to fondle him.

"Yes," Kirk crooned, "this is love."

Kirk removed his right hand from the Vulcan's body, and his other hand from his friend's hair. He began to remove his own clothes. While doing so, he focused upon Spock's face, and felt he was looking at a much younger person.

He's like a 12-year-old who's just discovered that he has a cock.

Watching Kirk undress, Spock's eyes grew wary. When the pants were pulled away, the pink-tinged penis was revealed. Spock studied it a moment, then his eyes moved back to his own organ.

Kirk noticed the comparison. "They're pretty much alike," he said, his voice thick with desire. He wanted Spock badly.

He lay down on top of his first officer, supporting his weight with his elbows. He pressed his crotch against the one beneath him. His pulse quickened as the hard organs met.

Kirk kissed Spock forcefully. The Vulcan was instinctively resistant to the new sensation, but eventually gave in to his captain, their mouths blended together and the rest of their bodies followed.

Kirk ground against the thin frame with every part of himself. His sense of time was lost as he knew nothing but the pleasure being generated between them. Spock was arching up now, grinding against him. But the Vulcan was clearly the submissive partner in this encounter. Eventually, the dark eyes closed, and Spock lay back, allowing Kirk to do whatever he wanted to.

Kirk put his arms around his still clothed first officer and held him tightly as he began to pump frantically. This time, he left the Vulcan's mouth alone and simply buried his face in the hot neck. He could hear and feel Spock gasping in tune to his pumping. He hoped his friend was getting ready to come, because he couldn't wait any longer.

Kirk froze, then let out a cry as semen spurted forth between their bodies. Instinctively, he pumped a couple of times more, draining the last of himself, and was relieved to feel an even hotter burst of seed from the man beneath him.

He lay panting, his face buried against Spock. He was sweating profusely from the combination of the nearby fire, his efforts, and being next to one with a higher body temperature than his own.

It was a few moments before his head began to clear. When it had, he found himself confronting a wall of guilt.

What did I just do?

he wondered grimly. 'Slam, bam, thank you...sir?' Shit, I've given cheap whores more consideration than I gave him. He bit his lower lip. Why did I let this get out of hand? Oh, Spock....

He looked at the Vulcan, who was lying quietly with his eyes closed. "Spock?"

It was only then that Kirk became aware of a warm arm around his back. It tightened as the deep voice said, "Yes?"

"Are you all right?" he asked with apprehension.

"Yes."

Kirk raised up on an elbow. "Are you sure?"

Spock's eyes opened then. He regarded Kirk with puzzlement. "I am somewhat fatigued, but am otherwise quite well."

Kirk lowered his need with a sheepish smile. "I guess I kind of took advantage of you."

"I do not understand."

Kirk looked back at his friend. "I didn't want it to be like this. I wanted to make love to you, not just use you to get myself off. It can be much better than this."

Spock still looked puzzled. "You did not find the experience pleasurable?"

Kirk smiled hopelessly, wondering if he'd started something he wasn't going to be able to finish. He explained, "I enjoyed it very much. I was very turned on by you, Mister. But," his voice softened and he moved his face closer to Spock's, "I wish I would have controlled myself enough to be gentler, given you plenty of time to get used to what you were feeling." He shrugged with finality. "It'll be better next time."

Seriously, Spock asked, "When will the next time be?"

Kirk laughed softly. "Whenever we want." A soft breeze blew against his bare backside, and he rolled off of Spock and knelt on the ground. "I'd better get my sleeping bag."

Feeling a need to remove himself from the scene, he scooped up his clothes and went inside the tent. After tossing the clothes over to one corner, he grabbed his sleeping bag and pulled it out. He settled it next to the fire so that it was lying head-to-head by Spock's.

The Vulcan was on his feet. He'd removed his clothes and was now examining his soiled sweater.

"We can wash it in the pond tomorrow," Kirk told him. I couldn't even restrain myself long enough to get his clothes off. The one time I behave like a completely selfish bastard...why did it have to be with Spock?

The Vulcan was wearing his usual expression, and Kirk wondered what thoughts were going on behind the mask. He slipped into the safety of his bag. Then, hesitantly, he asked, "Do you want to talk?"

Spock looked at him blankly, "If you wish to."

The non-committal answer bothered Kirk. He watched the Vulcan place the sweater on top of his other clothes, which were sitting on one of the folding chairs. He then came quietly over to his sleeping bag and carefully got in between the quilted flaps.

Kirk waited nervously for his friend to settle himself. When he had, he was lying on his stomach and looking at Kirk expectantly.

The captain was in a similar position, and he swallowed with difficulty. "Uh," he shrugged, "I'm feeling a bit guilty right now."

Spock arched an eyebrow. "And I am the cause?"

Kirk shrugged again. He'd picked up a blade of grass and was pulling at it. "Not you, really. I feel like what just took place was for all the wrong reasons."

Spock patiently said, "Please explain."

"Well..." Kirk trailed off, then decided to reveal a part of himself that he was less than proud of. "I have this tendency, Spock, to become very...er, my sex drive tends to be quite strong whenever I've been through a physically debilitating time—such as getting beat up by the Klingons." He glanced up shyly at his friend. "McCoy says that it's my way of proving that I’m still a man, so to speak—you know, rebuilding my ego and self-esteem." Spock arched an eyebrow at that, but Kirk turned his attention back to the blade of grass and continued. "Anyway, I think what may have taken place here..." he glanced guiltily about the camp, "was a result of my fulfilling that need."

There was a long silence before the Vulcan spoke. The deep voice quietly asked, "Then, there were no feelings involved on your part? You were merely fulfilling a routine psychological need?"

"No," Kirk replied quickly. He shook his head. "That's not it. I meant what I said before—that I love you. I do. It's just..." He studied the inexpressive features across from him. "I just think that if I wouldn't have been so blasted horny to begin with, this," he gestured about the camp, "would have been...better. For you. For both of us." He momentarily looked away. "I feel like such a selfish bastard."

Kirk thought he actually saw hurt on his friend's face. It was Spock's turn to hesitate. The Vulcan said, "I do not understand this situation. I do not know what you have done wrong. We both experienced pleasure. Is that not the desired result of mutual sharing?"

"Yes, but your pleasure could have been so much greater than it was. And I'm not talking about the orgasm itself. I'm talking about the preliminaries—the foreplay, the anticipation, the gentleness." Spock's face still looked uncomprehending, so Kirk switched to a different train of thought. Carefully, he said, "Earlier, you were ashamed."

Spock responded willingly. "It was the first time something of this nature has happened to me. My shame was a result of fear...not 'guilt,’ as you humans call it. The experience that followed was so...so..." Spock cleared his throat, "pleasing!" He paused, then softly added, "I did not know it could be like that. I can understand now why humans often mate for pleasure alone."

Kirk felt warmth spread through him—not just at the words, but at knowing how much it took for Spock to be able to say them. He reached out with his right hand and trailed a forefinger along the Vulcan's lips. Gently, he said, "I'd like to show you what real love-making is like." He felt the other's breath exhale sharply on his finger.

Spock dropped his eyes shyly. "I...I would...like that."

Kirk smiled. "Do you want to...now?"

"That would be...desirable."

Kirk felt his groin stir. "Let's move our sleeping bags together," he whispered as he began to get out of his.

Spock hesitated, then slipped out of his own bag. Kirk could see that the Vulcan already had the beginning of another erection. The captain tried to ignore it momentarily, and he moved his bedroll around until it was next to Spock's.

"You zip them together," he instructed. "I'm going to get some towels."

Nude, Kirk returned to their tent. He gathered up some fresh towels from one corner and then noticed the first-aid kit sitting next to them. He hesitated, then opened the kit and pulled out some ointment for skin ailments. He wasn't exactly sure what he was going to do with Spock, but he believed in being prepared.

When he emerged from the tent he saw that Spock had finished his task, and the Vulcan was underneath the now-spacious blankets. He came up to his friend and set his supplies down next to the 'bed'. He then slipped in next to Spock.

Both men were curled up on their sides facing each other. Kirk reached out and picked up a fine-boned hand. "Now," he whispered enticingly, capturing the other's eyes with his own, "I'm going to love you. And all I want you to do is lay back and relax, and not worry about anything."

Transfixed by the green-gold orbs, Spock slowly nodded his head. Kirk smiled and put a hand on the furred chest. "Lie back," he beckoned softly. "Flat on your back."

Without losing eye contact, Spock obediently rolled over until he was on his back. He stretched out his arms and legs.

"Good," Kirk approved gently. He got up on his knees and tossed the top cover aside. At Spock's look of dismay, he whispered, "Don't worry. If you're cold, you'll start to warm up real soon." He straddled the lean body which was beginning to tense.

Kirk placed each of his hands near Spock's shoulders, allowing them to take his weight. "Now," he said in the same soft tone, "I am going to kiss you."

Spock swallowed nervously. "I am not skilled in that technique."

Kirk shook his head. "It doesn't matter. I'm doing all the work," he reminded. "I want you to just lay there and let me kiss you."

Kirk didn't wait for a response, but closed his eyes, lowered his head, and gently brushed his lips against the nervous ones beneath him. He moved his head back and forth, gradually increasing the pressure. But he didn't try to force the Vulcan's mouth open. That could wait.

As he felt the familiar tingle of his body turning to jelly, he lifted his left hand and moved it down to Spock's rib cage. He was amazed to feel the Vulcan's heart suddenly accelerate.

"Mmmm," he said as he pulled back a little. Spock's eyes had closed and were now opening. They looked both anxious and frightened.

"See?" Kirk whispered. "You didn't have to do anything." He lowered his face again and tenderly kissed Spock's cheek, then his nose, then each of his eyes. He paused before planting a light kiss on each ear tip.

Spock drew in a deep breath, then exhaled it.

Kirk smiled at him. "You all right?" he asked, knowing what the answer would be.

The Vulcan nodded before breathlessly inquiring, "This is 'foreplay'?"

"Yes...but it’s only the beginning."

He saw the Vulcan's eyes widen with disbelief and he wanted to chuckle, but he had a more serious task to continue with.

He scooted back a little. Then he lowered his mouth to the left nipple and kissed it lightly. He paused and waited for the expected shudder to pass through Spock's body. Then he lowered his mouth again and diligently licked the tiny nub into hardness.

As he moved to the other small protrusion he cast a glance up at his lover's face. Spock was looking down at him in amazement.

"Close your eyes," Kirk commanded gently. "Let yourself feel all the sensations."

When Spock had obeyed, Kirk turned his attention to the right nipple. This time, after gently kissing it, he clamped his lips around it and began to suck.

A gasp of surprise escaped the Vulcan's throat and Kirk felt the body squirm beneath him.

"Lie still," he scolded gently. "The less you fight it the better it will feel. Just let yourself enjoy it."

Spock obeyed, though he wasn't completely successful at stopping the tiny shudders that continued to make their way through his body.

Kirk kissed lightly down the chest and continued on to the flat tummy. Spock's stomach was firm--and sensitive. With kisses around the navel, the Vulcan began to squirm again. The captain didn't bother to scold him this time. He moved on down past the erect penis and focused on the sac underneath. He paused a moment to note that it was held closer to the Vulcan's body than a human's was. They must get cold more easily, he thought. I'll warm them up.

He began planting light kisses all about the tender ovals, and smiled to himself when long legs spread out to make more room for him. After they had been thoroughly kissed, Kirk stuck out his tongue and lapped each one wetly. A very distinct groan emerged from his victim's throat.

"Oh, s-o-o sensitive...." the human remarked with wonder.

"J-J-i-m?" came a stuttering voice.

Kirk glanced up and saw that Spock had raised his head and was looking at him with slitted eyes. The Vulcan pointed to his penis. With difficulty, he pleaded, "Here! Touch me here!"

Kirk smiled tenderly. "I was just getting to that," he whispered soothingly. "I didn't mean to tease you. Lie back and relax, because I'm going to touch you there now."

He waited until Spock laid his head back down. He had planned to do some licking and fondling of the Vulcan's organ, but he decided against that now. He didn't want to tease Spock to the point of discomfort. He simply opened his mouth, pushed it down the steel-hard penis as far as it would go, and began to suck.

Spock bucked and thrashed with his hips. Kirk placed his hands firmly on the narrow pelvis and tried to hold the Vulcan down. When that didn't work he released his prize. "Easy, Spock!" Then he gentled his tone, for the Vulcan stilled when he realized that the stimulation had ceased. "You can't move around like that. You could choke me...and I could bite you." He patted the thigh nearest him. "You have to let it build...and then it'll take care of itself."

Spock was breathing harshly. "My...apologies."

Kirk patted the thigh again. "It's okay. I'm going to do it again. Just let yourself enjoy it—don't try so hard."

After taking a deep breath, he lowered himself back onto the straining phallus. Spock was unable to stay completely immobile, but he was no longer thrashing about. Kirk concentrated on a steady sucking rhythm and was relieved when Spock finally seemed to relax and go with it. When the Vulcan began to groan more and more frequently, Kirk reached down and gently squeezed his scrotum to help him along.

Incredibly hot sperm shot into Kirk's mouth and he was vaguely aware that the ejaculation was accompanied by a curious silence. When he was sure he had swallowed all of it he slowly released the shrinking penis and glanced up at his friend.

Spock looked more peaceful than Kirk had ever seen him. The Vulcan was lying relaxed with his eyes half open, gazing at the stars. His respiration rate was slowly decreasing.

Kirk scooted up and laid a hand on the furred chest. "See? Wasn’t that nice?" Spock nodded and momentarily closed his eyes. "It was quite...pleasurable."

"More so than before?"

Spock had to think about that. He furrowed a brow, then looked at the ground. "Yes...there was satisfaction from being touched. I sensed...affection."

Kirk smiled. He whispered with amusement, "I am very fond of you!"

Spock seemed to be thinking about saying more, but his gaze was captured by the swollen penis protruding from between Kirk's legs. He looked up quickly at his captain, and worriedly inquired, "You are in pain?"

Kirk shook his head, a smile still lighting his face. "Not pain. Just a little...uncomfortable." Hoarsely, Spock asked, "What can I do...to assist you?"

Kirk considered that. Trying to be nonchalant, he shrugged and said, "Well, you can do to me what I did to you, or..." he lowered his voice seductively, "I could join us."

An eyebrow went up. "You are speaking in physical terms, of course."

"Of course."

"You are then referring to...intercourse?"

Kirk nodded. "Uh-huh."

"And you wish me to decide this?"

The captain shrugged again. "I don't want to do it if you don't. I won't push you, Spock. It's a big step. We may not be ready for it."

Spock's expression was very thoughtful. "How does one go about preparing for it?"

Kirk had grown used to such precise questions from his first officer over the years. "You don't necessarily have to do anything to prepare for it," he explained patiently. "What I meant was, it's a very intimate thing...and should only be done with someone you wish very much to do it with."

"You have apprehensions about doing it with me?"

Kirk searched for the most honest answer. "I would like very much to do it with you," he whispered. "But I'm afraid that it may be...too much for you...for someone not accustomed to sharing intimacy." When Spock didn't reply, he added, "You can't agree to do it just to please me. You have to want it, too."

Spock sat up. There was a long silence while he studied the ground, apparently formulating his thoughts. Finally, he spoke. "For Vulcans, the meld is the most intimate form of sharing. I have shared minds with you, though not on the deepest level that is known by bondmates. In non-telepaths, sexual intercourse is the most intimate form of sharing." He looked up at Kirk. "You have shared a Vulcan form of intimacy with me; now I am eager to share a human form of intimacy with you." He paused. "I will join with you in the human way."

We have different ways of going about it, but we always come up with the same answers. My Vulcan's innocence lost here on this distant world...

He felt determination set in. I'll make it good for him.

He put his arms around Spock and drew the agreeable body against him. He placed his lips over the other's and kissed passionately. He urged the other's mouth open with his tongue and the shy lips complied. The Vulcan groaned.

Kirk released him, fearing that he would overexcite himself. Noises from his partner always had that effect on him.

"You learn fast," he said approvingly.

"It has always been a trait of mine," the deep voice replied seriously.

Kirk couldn't manage a laugh because feelings of tenderness were overwhelming him. He gently placed a hand on the chest opposite him. "Lie down. On your stomach."

As Spock moved to comply, Kirk searched around for the skin ointment he'd brought with him from the tent. He found it where it had rolled a few inches underneath the sleeping bag. He brushed it off and unscrewed the lid.

While holding it in one hand, he rubbed the slim, green-tinged buttocks with the other. He saw that Spock was lying with his eyes closed and the firm rounds felt relaxed beneath his hands. He gently ran his fingers into the crevice, watching the slim hips bounce slightly in response. He momentarily considered parting those mounds and wetting the anus with his tongue, but he was afraid it would result in another fit of bucking and thrashing.

So sensitive. I'll save that treat for a later date, when he's able to handle it.

He squeezed some of the cream onto his fingers and gently placed them in between the green-tinged cheeks, searching for the tight opening hidden there. When he found it he pushed in with a finger.

Spock's eyes opened abruptly. "What is—"

"It's lubricant," Kirk replied calmly. "Mother Nature didn't exactly plan for it to be done this way, so we need a little help."

Spock relaxed and closed his eyes again. Kirk inserted a second finger, pleased with the way the Vulcan was easily accepting the foreign digits. He meant it when he said he wanted it. The women I've done it with have never felt this pliant.

He removed the fingers and turned his attention to his throbbing penis. He applied some of the cream there—more sparingly than he wished, for the touch of his own hand was stimulating him further, and he wanted to go slow for Spock.

He finally eased himself down on top of the Vulcan, letting his penis nudge in between the beckoning cheeks. He kissed the neck and shoulders beneath his mouth. He couldn't quite reach Spock's face.

Spock squirmed from the attention to such sensitive areas.

"Relax, Spock," Kirk soothed gently. "I won't put it in until you're ready." He kissed the heated back some more.

The Vulcan's eyes were closed. Softly, he said, "I am ready now, Jim."

"Okay." Kirk undulated his hips and kissed the Vulcan's neck again. "I'll be careful. Tell me if it hurts too much."

He grabbed his penis, found the tight opening and pushed his organ into it. The tender, heated skin yielded to him, and he carefully pushed in more, fighting back the urge to thrust quickly and relieve himself.

Spock was groaning. Kirk had never imagined his friend capable of so much noise. The Vulcan arched up with his hips. Having released his own penis, Kirk reached beneath his friend and grabbed the thick organ that was once again erect.

Spock was bucking in rhythm to his ecstatic groans, and Kirk was trying to fight the stimulation that each twist and turn of the Vulcan's body caused. He himself could no longer keep silent. "It's good, Spock. Ohhhh, it's good." He held his hand firmly against the heavy penis that was undulating against his palm. His own hips finally gave in and thrust with the notion of the body beneath him. "You feel good, Spock," he gasped. "You feel so good!"

As though by agreement, they began bucking and thrusting faster and the rhythm built steadily until there was no holding back. But all their chanting and groaning faded into silence as the peak was reached, and they both came close together.

Some monents later they pulled apart and lay awkwardly on the blanket, panting heavily, and occasionally twitching as overly sensitive nerves responded to the slightest brush of skin or breath of air.

Kirk summoned the energy to reach for one of the towels he'd set out, and he wiped himself off. He wearily raised himself up on an elbow and wiped up the puddle Spock had left on top of the sleeping bags.

Kirk tossed the cloth aside and peered closely at the immobile Vulcan form. "Spock?" he whispered. The only response he received was a long, deep, calm breath.

Kirk moved closer and realized that his friend was asleep. Who could blame him? Three orgasms in one night. He smiled at the thought that he had fucked Spock into oblivion. Then he noticed goose-bumps on the green-tinged skin.

He shook the comatose form. "Spock? Spock?" He shook him harder. One eye popped open. "We have to get under the covers. It's getting colder."

Spock groaned as he raised himself to his knees. Groggily, he helped Kirk straighten out the sleeping bags, then they both got in beneath the covers.

When Kirk, who was feeling a bit of a chill himself, snuggled up against the warmer body he discovered that the Vulcan had promptly fallen back to sleep. He ran a hand through the shiny black hair, then pulled the quilted flap more snugly around them both. He buried his face into the warmth of the Vulcan's furred chest and smiled.

"Good night, Spock," he whispered as he closed his eyes. "Love ya...tomorrow."

"I look forward to the morning, Jim."

I want to be a friend to him—a good friend. He's the best thing that's ever happened to me, and I want to be the best friend he’s ever had. Maybe I already am...but I want to get to know him better on a personal level. I want to spend more time with him.

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