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If I meet you suddenly, I can’t speak.

My tongue is broken,

A thin flame runs under my skin,

Seeing nothing, hearing

Only my own ears

Drumming.

--Sappho

Spock stopped work and straightened. Moving carefully, he turned in his chair and unobtrusively gripped his computer board. Deep breaths, he thought,-- in, out, in, out…. Eventually the bridge stopped swimming around him and the prickly numb sensation in his hands and feet faded. Casting a swift glance over his shoulder, he saw with relief that Jim had not noticed. He was absorbed in the image on the viewscreen or, more probably, in his own thoughts. The sector of space they were traveling was singularly monotonous.  Perhaps I should leave the bridge, Spock thought, then: Of course I should leave. This is my third dizzy spell today. In an emergency my functioning would be unreliable. It is self- indulgent and dangerous to remain. I will tell Jim now, while I feel well.

"Captain...."

Kirk turned instantly, glad for the distraction. "Yes, Mr. Spock?" When Spock didn’t answer, but only turned again to his board, the Captain got up and sauntered over. He said nothing more, merely leaned on the rail and waited.

"I have become cognizant," Spock began, unaccountably embarrassed, "of a peculiar dizziness, accompanied by nausea and loss of blood to the extremities, which--"

"You mean you’re sick?"

"Well...yes, sir, it would appear so."

"Right. Go to Sickbay. I’ll call Bones and let him know you’re coming."

Spock rose. "I hope Dr. McCoy will be able to restrain his delight until my arrival."

Kirk laughed, but his eyes were sharply appraising the Vulcan’s face. The lingering pallor he saw there made him propel Spock toward the lift door. "More, Mister--get to Sickbay now. I can’t have my First Officer passing out on the bridge. And whatever

McCoy tells you, I’m ordering you to take the rest of the day and tomorrow off to rest up."

"Yes, sir." Spock hesitated. "Thank you, sir."

"Softest touch in the Fleet, that’s me," Jim said, watching Spock make his way to the lift. He didn’t miss the slight sway in the Vulcan’s posture as he waited for the doors to open, and was aware of a sudden, inexplicable tension. "Want me to come with you?"

Spock paused as he entered the lift, and turned to look at his Captain, eyes warm. "No, sir, that will not be necessary. I am quite capable of arriving under my own power." When the door closed, he sagged against the wall with relief. The sick giddiness rose rapidly this time, swirling him under a rolling cloud of darkness. Too late, he realized, clutching the rail for support. I put off leaving until too late. He gritted his teeth. The thought of being found unconscious on the floor of the lift by some passing crew member was unbearable, and strengthened him enough to get him through the...attack? It felt like an attack--inconceivable that his own body could betray him like this.

The door opened, and he lifted his chin, clasped his hands behind his back, and walked into Sickbay. McCoy, already waiting, indicated the diagnostic table. Spock settled himself on it and closed his eyes as it tipped backwards--an action which did nothing for his aching head.

McCoy’s sharp eyes scanned the readouts; his hands gently poked and probed the Vulcan’s body. "Well, Mr. Spock, trying to get out of some work? You must know as well as I do there’s nothing whatever wrong with you.’

A scornful eyebrow rose. "I assure you, Doctor, I am not attempting to evade my duties. I am at as much of a loss to explain it as you evidently are. Perhaps some rest will solve my difficulty."

"Just how bad are these dizzy spells? Can you make it to your quarters by yourself?" At Spock’s definite yes, McCoy frowned, visibly disturbed by both Spock’s condition and his own inability to clarify it. "Okay, then, go lie down. I’ll stop by later and test you again." He shot a suspicious glance at the Vulcan. "Sure you’re not keeping something from me?"

Spock shook his head. "Only...it feels as though I were being affected by something else. Something external. The fact that you can find nothing wrong tends to confirm this theory."

"You mean it’s some kind of telepathic thing? Like with the Intrepid?"

"No."

"Oh. Well, look, you take it easy. I’ll talk your theory over with Jim, and we’ll both drop by in a few hours. Sure you can make it alone?"

‘‘Yes.

"Communicative as hell, aren’t you? Go on, get out of here." McCoy frowned at the Vulcan’s back and thumbed the intercom. "McCoy to bridge."

"Kirk here. How is he?"

"Nothing wrong I can detect--my instruments say he’s fine. Could you come down here? I’d like to discuss some theories."

"Be right there. Kirk out."

In McCoy’s office a few minutes later, Kirk perched on the edge of the desk. "Well, Bones?"

"He thinks maybe it’s something else acting on his system--I don’t know--like a probe or something, I guess."

Kirk snapped on the intercom. "Mr. Sulu. Full sensor sweep in all directions. Is there anything...anything at all out there?"

A pause, then: "Negative, Captain. The only thing around here is us."

"Thank you, Mr. Sulu. Kirk out." He turned back to McCoy. "Well, that doesn’t necessarily mean.... Damn it, Bones, Spock just isn’t the type to dramatize himself. I mean, think about it. The man voluntarily removed himself from duty, in the middle of his shift. Do you know how sick he must feel to do that? Are you sure it’s not...well, that again?"

"Pon Farr? First thing I looked for. Negative. His readings are all normal. It just doesn’t make any sense."

"Where is he?"

"In his quarters, resting. Look, I’m gonna go there now and give him a good old-fashioned physical, much as he hates it. These machines can’t tell me everything. I’ll let you know what I find."

"You’ll find one outraged Vulcan, that’s what. I’ll be on the bridge.

* * * * *

Standing by his bed, Spock reached blindly for support, and became aware that this time was going to be definitive. There was no question of his fighting off the encroaching blackness; and, after the previous struggles, it was almost with a sense of relief that he fell into it.

He was lying on the floor--his floor? This thick, rich carpet under his cheek--no, he had been moved while unconscious. Cautiously he opened his eyes, and found himself looking at Jim Kirk, sitting cross-legged on the floor beside him. As their eyes met, the Captain smiled.

"Well, you’re awake. I’m sorry about the rough passage; I’m sure if I’d had my Spock to help out, it would have been much smoother, but you must see that I couldn’t tell him about this. It’s sort of my secret." That smile, the one used to con undeclared enemies. Spock had seen it before, but never directed toward him.

He blinked, pushed himself up off the floor to a kneeling position. As he studied the man next to him, awareness dawned. James Kirk--and yet not quite. Like this room. His, but not his. He was wearing his own uniform, but Kirk’s--fringed, sleeveless, sashed, decidedly more aggressive in tone than.... He had never been to this place, but he knew it. Had heard all about it and, he remembered suddenly, had met this Captain once before.

"You’re staring, Mr. Spock." Again the smile. "Isn’t that considered a belligerent act in your universe?"

"Fascinating," Spock murmured. "You, then, are responsible for the unusual symptoms I experienced earlier?"

"Yes. Aborted attempts to transfer you. I wanted you in your own rooms so as to be less...conspicuous."

"And ‘your’ Spock is, I presume, in my quarters, in my universe? Why? What is his plan?"

"He has no plan, and where he is, is irrelevant. He’s there of necessity, because you’re here. You can’t both be in the same place at the same time--that would be very careless of me. To put it succinctly, I wanted you here, so here you are. Don’t worry about your alternate--he’ll be a good guest."

Jim had spoken well of that other Vulcan, and Spock’s fear for his own Captain subsided, even as his curiosity rose. "You wanted me here? Why?"

"We hardly had much of a chance to get acquainted last time, did we? I mean, with me in a cell and all. Why do you think you’re here? Do you suppose it could be revenge?"

A skeptical eyebrow. "After all this time? It is somewhat difficult to believe."

"Then put it down to simple curiosity. I’d like to get to know you better."

"Also highly unlikely."

"But it will have to stand at that, Spock, because that’s all you’re getting--for now, anyway. Are you hungry? We’ll talk more after we eat, I promise you." He rose and extended a hand to Spock, who stiffly declined. The dizziness was gone as though it had never been, and he came to his feet with ease. Kirk’s smile hardened, and he moved closer. "You don’t want me to touch you? I find that very interesting. Do you have the same reticence with your own Captain?"

Spock ignored that. "You have yet to explain why you brought me here."

"Ever in quest of information, that’s my Spock. Are Vulcans vegetarians in your reality also? Yes? I thought so, and am prepared, as you see." The table which slid out of the wall was indeed set with many meatless offerings--all unfamiliar. Spock accepted a seat and eyed the food with misgiving. Kirk poured him a drink and sat across the table from him. "Non-alcoholic, of course. And stop looking so suspicious. I didn’t bring you all this way just to poison you."

Kirk’s drink was, as might have been expected, not non-alcoholic. He drained it, and Spock took a sip from his own glass. The fruit juice was pleasantly cool to his dry throat, and he took several swallows before setting the glass back down.

Within seconds, he knew it had been a mistake. No sooner had the thought formed than blackness closed in on him with sickening speed. James Kirk was there to catch him as he fell.

* * * * *

"McCoy to bridge."

"Kirk here. That was a pretty quick physical, Bones. What’s up?’

"Just get down here right away!"

Fear clutched. "Is Spock...is he all right?"

"Jim! Now!"

"Scotty, take her," Kirk said, and went. The lift seemed to take forever, and he bit his lip with impatience. The Doctor hadn’t had time for more than a quick look. If Spock were...dead... Bones would surely have told him--maybe. He made it from the lift to Spock’s door in several long strides, and didn’t bother buzzing.

"Captain," the Vulcan said, rising. Of all the things Kirk had been picturing, this was the furthest from his mind. Spock. Looking perfectly healthy, cool, collected--and bearded. Bearded! He would have recognized the alternate anyway, from the implacability in the dark eyes, the subtle suggestion of menace in his bearing. Necessary, in his savage reality.... Jim’s jaw set.

"Where is my First Officer?"

"In my universe, I presume. I assure you, Captain, I had no advance knowledge of this. My Captain has evidently arranged the transfer himself, although I cannot think why." Jim barely heard him, sickened by the thought of his gentle, vulnerable friend on that Enterprise. He was even less equipped, perhaps, to survive there than Bones and the rest of them had been.

"Do not distress yourself unnecessarily, Captain," the other said quietly. "If Captain Kirk has arranged this, it is for some purpose. In fact"--he paused to consider-- "it has been very carefully planned. I am...was...planning a leave of five days’ duration. No one will expect to see me; it follows that no one will see my alternate. No one, that is, except for the Captain."

"Yes," Kirk said, thoughtful. "Now why would he want Spock there? Who arranged that you should take leave at this particular time?"

"He."

"So I can assume that in five days the exchange will be reversed? I mean"--he swallowed-- "no offense, but it’s not likely to be permanent, is it?"

Sardonic amusement flashed briefly and was gone. "I would not think so. He does not consider me...expendable...despite his frequent outbursts."

"Outbursts?’

"Since the last exchange, he...wonders about the depth of my loyalty to him." The Vulcan paused, then said quietly, "I found it difficult to act upon your advice. He is, after all, my Captain."

"Yes."

"I have, however, been attempting to influence his thinking--and his actions. He listens; reluctantly, sometimes belatedly, but he does not understand."

"What does all this have to do with Spock?"

"Unknown."

"Is he in any danger?"

"I do not think so, but I am no more successful at fathoming my Captain’s thought processes than he is mine."

"There must be some way I can reverse the process from here--with your help."

"Perhaps, but it will be difficult. He will doubtless have foreseen such an action on our parts and have taken steps to forestall us. Hmmm. I shall look into it. May I have permission to use the computer facilities?"

"Of course. Anything you need."

Spock regarded him quizzically. "You trust me, then?"

"Of course. But," Kirk burst out, "what could he want with Spock? I mean, that he couldn’t get equally well from you?"

"I do not know, and speculation would appear to be fruitless. I suggest that we begin researching the mechanics of inter-universe exchange."

"Yes, I--Where’s McCoy?"

"The Doctor? He left after calling you; he said he needed a drink. I do not believe he feels comfortable in my presence."

"After last time? He still has nightmares about that meld."

A shrug. "It was necessary." And Jim, finding himself chilled by the difference between the two Vulcans, turned away. Oh, Spock, he thought, how alone you must feel over there. I only hope that whatever that Kirk’s reasons for this are, he won’t hurt you. I can’t really make myself believe that he will--that in any setting or circumstances I…he…could deliberately…. He won’t hurt you. I have to believe that, if I’m to get through the next five days without you.

* * * * *

Spock awoke for the second time on a bed. Opening his eyes--how heavy they felt--he saw that he was alone, and still in his alternate’s rooms. He tried to sit up, and found that he couldn’t. Nor could he lift his arm, or turn his head. His body was frozen, and the realization sent a stab of fear through him. Paralyzed, alone, in this dark version of his world.... His fear grew, and he struggled to overcome it. And couldn’t.

Nor could he block the uncomfortable awareness of cold. Surely no Vulcan would keep his quarters so cold. Either it was some form of self-discipline, or...or Kirk had purposely turned the thermostat down. To point up his helplessness? For his mind felt as useless as his body. None of his controls were operative, and his shields were…gone? How was that possible? The drink, of course. Whatever had been in his juice. It even made a twisted kind of sense, in a universe where no one was to be trusted. Telepathic powers would be a threat which would demand an answering weapon.

But if he could not control, block, contain his fear--what then? He tried to distract himself with speculation on his situation. Why was he here? He had questioned Kirk’s show of amity, evidently with good cause. The thought of being so at the mercy of that man overwhelmed his beginning attempts at self-control, and at the sound of the door sliding open, every muscle in his body tensed in a primitive fight-or-flight response. But it was useless. Worse than useless, because the flow of adrenalin started his heart pounding wildly, and he knew he was shaking. Involuntary reflexes were functioning, he noted, but this last-ditch attempt at objective analysis was interrupted by Kirk’s entrance.

"Well," the Human said, stretching lazily, "I see you’re awake. Don’t mind the paralysis; it’s temporary. It’ll wear off when the drug does. So will the mental effects.’

"When will that be?" Although his voice was only a whisper, some of Spock’s tension was reduced by the discovery that he could speak. At least he could attempt to communicate with this man who was, after all, James Kirk.

"How long? The drug would wear off by itself in about six to eight hours, but"--he smiled at the relief in Spock’s eyes-- "that wouldn’t quite fit in with my plans, so I’ll give you another dose before then. Don’t worry; the effects aren’t cumulative, and you won’t be passing out every time either. I adjusted the dosage. It’s really harmless. I could give it to you for...oh, say five days, and it would still wear off nicely with no permanent side effects, and no addiction. Very handy."

"Five days?" He could barely get it out through numb lips. "You intend to keep me like this for five days?"

"Did I say that? Purely arbitrary figure--could be less, although that’s pretty unlikely. Could be more."

"Why?"

"I have my reasons." He kicked off his boots, removed his sash, dropped it on the floor. The vest came off next, and the black pants and undershorts. Nude, Kirk poured himself a drink and sat down, hitching his chair over by the bed. He grinned into Spock’s puzzled eyes. "You still don’t get it, do you? Your universe sure as hell must be different from ours." He set the unfinished drink down. "Funny. I was in a tearing hurry all day to get back here, but now I find myself wanting to prolong this."

"Prolong what?" A stray piece of hair was tickling Spock’s eyes, and he blinked, trying to remove the irritation. Kirk’s hand pushed it back and lingered on his face.

"How beautiful you are," he said softly. "I always thought so, you know, although I certainly could never tell you...him." The warmth of the hand was comforting, and Spock relaxed. Kirk noticed it, repeated the caress. "Your natural impulse is still to trust me, isn’t it?" The loss of his shielding made Spock feel uncomfortably open, and he shivered slightly as the familiar hand slid down to his neck. "That won’t last much longer...." The Vulcan’s eyes were more cautious now, wary. "But I want you to know this. I’m not going to damage you, and I will send you back to your universe--and your Captain--in five days. My Spock is officially on leave till then, so no one will be looking for him and possibly finding you." He leaned closer, their faces almost touching. "Have you figured out yet why you’re here?"

"No." He could not even begin to fathom the message behind Kirk’s odd manner.

"Such innocence is a lovely thing--and it’s very rare here. I’ll bet it’s unusual even where you come from." He studied Spock’s face closely, as if seeing him for the first time as he was, rather than as a reflection of the other. "Your Captain must be worried, knowing you’re here."

Jim. The thought brought a pang of longing. Yes, Jim would be worried about him. If only he were here, instead of this man, everything would be all right. He saw Kirk’s eyes harden and knew his own eyes had betrayed the impossible wish. Then Kirk laughed, straightened, and tossed down the rest of his drink.

"So. Now that we know where we stand, I see no further reason to delay." He ran light fingers down the slender shoulders and began to unfasten the Vulcan’s uniform shirt. Slipping one arm under Spock’s back, he lifted him enough to pull the shirt off over his head, down both arms. Deliberately, he repeated the same process with the black T-shirt. Then he stopped.

Spock was staring at him as though he thought the Human had lost his mind. "I do not understand why you are undressing me," he began slowly, "but...." He grew irritated as Kirk reached for his boots. "Will you stop? I am sure you did not go to all the trouble required to effect this exchange merely to...." As he felt strong hands on the waist of his pants, annoyance was replaced by embarrassment. He knew the color was rising in his face as his pants were removed and dropped to the floor.

"True, Mr. Spock." Kirk was grinning openly at his discomfort. "I didn’t set this up just to take off your clothes. But it’s progress in the right direction. Don’t worry, I’ll explain as soon as I’m done. There is, as always, method in my madness."

Spock closed his eyes, furious and humiliated to feel the last undergarment come off-- and still not understanding.

Kirk shook his head. "You really are something. Look at me." When Spock didn’t comply, but kept his eyes shut, an open palm struck his face sharply. "I said look at me!"

Startled, Spock stared at him. Although the pain was minor, it was unsettling not to be able to block it. His head began to throb. Cold brown eyes held his as Kirk rose, stretched once more, and suddenly that hard, powerful body was an unexpected weight on his.

The Captain nuzzled his neck, kissing him, licking warm skin. "I’m going to fuck you," he murmured, "thoroughly, repeatedly, and what’s more, my uptight Vulcan virgin, you’re going to like it." He clamped both his hands on either side of Spock’s face and stared at him. "You are, aren’t you? A virgin? It’s the only explanation I can think of for your...ah...ignorance."

Shock had blanked every thought and feeling except astonishment from Spock’s mind. "You cannot mean you intend to..." he choked as Kirk bit his neck with sharp teeth, and moved against him, grinding that hard cock against Spock’s naked stomach.

That the Human indeed intended to carry out his threat was abundantly clear. In a wave of terror Spock felt a modicum of strength return. He threw all of it into one desperate attempt to twist free, turning his face away from that insistent mouth. Kirk laughed, captured both wrists, pinned them painfully above Spock’s head with one hand, and reached for the bed table with the other.

"I should keep a better eye on the time," he mocked. "The drug is wearing off--not that it will do you any good." Fully aware of the black eyes following his every move, he rummaged in a drawer and removed a hypo. Spock made a faint sound, and struggled harder, hearing Kirk laugh again. "Mmmm, very nice; there are definite advantages to this. But then you couldn’t really concentrate on what I’m doing, so...." He brought the hypo around, out of Spock’s field of vision, and pressed it into the Vulcan’s shoulder. Then, dropping the instrument, he bore his mouth down on Spock’s, trying to force his lips open, feeling the struggle fade, then cease. Spock’s mouth parted helplessly under his, and he took his time exploring the inside, finally releasing Spock’s limp hands as he lifted his own head.

"Why...why are you doing this to me?" Spock’s voice was shaking, and Kirk was pleasurably aware that the rest of him was, too--faint trembling of the body pressed so closely to his.

"Because it’s so much fun," he whispered in answer, moving his hips, letting Spock feel the strength of his arousal, the power of it.

"I am sure," Spock began carefully, "that you have other, more practical, avenues of ‘fun’ on board ship. It is not logical for you to--"

"Oh, shut up," Kirk muttered impatiently, and clamped his mouth down on the Vulcan’s again. Spock felt sick, and gratefully focused on that, nausea being infinitely preferable to terror. A Vulcan should not be so afraid. He should be able to remove himself from the event, to dwell on something abstract in the back of his mind. But he could not. His thought processes seemed to be submerged, and only primal emotions were dominant. That is interesting, he considered somewhat desperately. I must ask him about this drug later--after…. He was jolted out of himself by the feel of Kirk’s hand on his organ. Does he truly expect to find me aroused? he wondered incredulously. Then the Captain’s hand caught his chin and their eyes met.

"Well, I can wait for that until tomorrow," Kirk said cheerfully. "For tonight, I’ll just please myself. I’ve waited for it long enough." He raised up, and Spock thought for one wild minute that the bluff was over, and he was to be left alone. That fleeting hope vanished when Kirk turned him over, adjusted his head sideways on the pillow, and settled over him again.

This will not take long, Spock reasoned intently. It cannot take long; if he has indeed been anticipating this for some time, it will be over quickly. The pain was incredible, and he cried out once. Kirk slammed into him full force, moaned with pleasure, and leaned over Spock, wrapping both arms around the Vulcan’s chest, unwittingly cutting off most of his air.

Spock had closed his eyes, trying to yield to the relentless rhythm--in, out, in, further in, it went on and on and…the pain is not that bad, not so bad, not as bad as the Klingon mind-sifter, not as bad as the Denevan parasite, but it was worse than either of those things and anything else he could think of and anyway Jim had been there both those times...Jim, Jim, Spock clung to the image with the last shreds of consciousness as the agony in his body, the suffocating grip of Kirk’s arms, pulled him over the edge and down into endless darkness.

The Human came with shattering violence, and collapsed in relief on the motionless form beneath him. Pulling out, he felt perfectly satisfied--worth all the trouble, even without the benefit he expected to collect tomorrow. Spock was unconscious, which was probably just as well. His breathing was even, but he looked cold, and Kirk adjusted the thermostat upwards, covered the still body with a heavy blanket from the supply closet. Rather guiltily, he touched the bruise marring one cheek. He really should get a better hold on his temper. There had been no need for the blow, although it had infuriated him to see the Vulcan withdraw from him, attempting to negate his very existence by refusing to acknowledge it. He’d always wanted to strike his own Vulcan for the same reason. The more frustrated he himself got, the more smugly aloof his First Officer became, until the desire to punish, to hit out hard, was almost overwhelming. He’d never quite dared; his Spock was perfectly capable of striking him back, harder, but he’d wanted to many times. He’d have to watch himself now, because this Vulcan’s vulnerability was tempting. Tomorrow he’d have to be calm, not get so excited, so he could put his plan into effect. He hadn’t brought Spock here just to rape him, terrific as that had been. There was a great deal more at stake than that.

* * * * *

Spock opened his eyes, struggling dazedly up through layers of unconsciousness. He hugged the blanket to him tightly, grateful for the security it represented. The very movement woke him up all the way--he could move! Slowly, painfully--he wasn’t in any shape to be ambitious--he found that he could sit up, although the effort brought a wave of dizziness and started his head pounding. The drug was again wearing off, and he was alone. Knowing it was fruitless, he stumbled across the room and tried the door. Locked. Of course it would be.

Becoming aware of an overwhelming need to urinate, he went to the head, holding onto the wall for support. He sighed in relief when he was done, and looked thoughtfully at the sonic shower. Dialing it up, he stood under the pulsing waves for some time, too exhausted and sick to do anything more than let the soothing vibrations wash over and around him, cleansing him of sweat, but unable to free him from a feeling of dirt, of’ contamination.

There was nothing whatever he could adapt for use as a garment. His own clothes had vanished; all the drawers and closets in the rooms were locked up as securely as the door itself. Logical, in this universe of sudden violence and betrayal--that Spock had thought he was going on leave. Well, in a way he was on leave. With my Jim, Spock thought resentfully, sitting down on the edge of the bed and bundling up in the blanket. He had never in his life wanted anything as much as he wanted this nightmare to be over with and to be back with Jim, instead of--

The door slid open. Spock hated the way his whole body went rigid in apprehension-- loathed himself for his lack of control. Kirk entered, carrying a tall glass of the same fruit juice in one hand. In the other he held a phaser, the tip of which never wavered from Spock. "Let’s get this over with," he said calmly. "Drink."

"You must think me an imbecile," Spock answered bitterly. "Do you really expect me to drink that and render myself paralyzed again?"

"As an offhand guess, I’d say you’re more afraid of the mental effects, aren’t you? I mean, it must be disconcerting not to be able to block and deny your feelings the way you usually do. But I have no intention of letting you hide from this, my friend. This is one experience I want you to be fully aware of. After all, if all I wanted was you immobilized, I could just tie you down. Right? Right."

"If you must...take me like an animal...I do not understand why you will not at least allow me to block the pain. I can only conclude...." At the open contempt in Spock’s voice, the Human slammed down the glass, covered the distance between them in two strides and hit him violently in the mouth. Spock fell backwards, striking his head against the wall. Shaking back his hair, he glared at Kirk, surprised and gratified at the depth of his own fury.

"1 must conclude," the Vulcan continued evenly, holding onto his anger and scorn like a shield, "that my pain is necessary to your pleasure. Have your appetites become so jaded over the years that this is the only way you can--"

"Hold your tongue!" Kirk shouted. He grabbed the Vulcan by the shoulders and shook him as hard as he could until Spock’s teeth rattled and his head spun. Dazedly he was aware that Kirk had dropped the phaser, and that this was his chance, but the ruthless shaking went on and on. It was getting hard to breathe, and blood trickled from his nose. Blindly he tried to put his arms up to protect his head, but was thrown to the floor, breath coming in tearing gasps, temples pounding. He lay spent, then was lifted and dumped on the bed.

Kirk tangled his hand in soft black hair, yanked Spock’s head back, held it there. Teeth bared, he swung, connected hard, and followed through with a smashing backhand. He was winding up for a third blow when he caught himself. Deliberately he released Spock’s hair, stepped back, recovered the phaser, and let the Vulcan slump onto the bed, barely conscious.

"Pretty fuckin’ stupid," Kirk threw at him, as furious with himself as with Spock. "Are you trying to provoke me into killing you? Believe me, there are easier ways to die. Stupid," he repeated, but his voice had softened considerably. He suddenly sounded so much like Jim Kirk that Spock’s eyes stung. His whole body was shaking, more from the psychic force of the other’s anger than from the physical abuse.

"Sit up and look at me." The voice was neither soft nor harsh now--level, even. Numbly, Spock obeyed. "I’m only going to tell you this once. Either you drink the juice right now, or I’ll stun you and give it to you in a hypo. If I have to do that, I’ll know better next time than to let it wear off enough for you to go in there"--he gestured towards the bathroom-- "and shower and everything by yourself. I didn’t have to do that, you know. I mean, I could carry you in, or bring you a bedpan." Spock flushed and lowered his eyes. "But I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give you a little privacy. Was I wrong? Stunning you isn’t a good idea--I don’t know how it would interact with the drug, so I intend to have to do it only once. After that," he continued, gripping Spock’s face in one hand and squeezing brutally until the dark eyes fastened on his, "I swear I’ll keep you completely dependent until you leave here." He let go. "Your choice, Mr. Spock. For your sake--frankly, I don’t really care--I hope you make the smart one." He indicated the juice and waited.

Spock stared at it and hated his fear--fear which was betraying itself in the faint tremor of his hand as he reached for the glass. He willed himself to stop, but the slight rippling of the liquid would not be stilled.

"For what it’s worth," Kirk said after a moment, "I’m not going to hurt you again."

Spock swallowed and stared again at the drink. "It is not that."

"I know. Believe me, I do know. But I shouldn’t have hurt you. There was no need for it. I’m sorry." He cupped the Vulcan’s face in his hand and tilted it up until their eyes met again.

Jim, 

Spock thought wretchedly, in any dimension, in any form, how could you do this to me? Resigned, he lifted the glass with both hands and, his eyes not leaving Kirk’s, drained it.

Almost immediately, he felt a spreading languor which overcame the ache in his head, the tightness in his chest. He felt sleepy, and his eyes slowly closed as Kirk’s arm slid around his shoulders, easing him back down to the bed.

The Captain stripped off his own clothes and climbed in next to him, pulling him into a close embrace. Spock lay quietly. Despite powerful evidence to the contrary, he found himself believing Kirk’s promise not to hurt him. I lived through yesterday, and perhaps this will not be as bad, and then it will be over, and he will go away, and there will be tomorrow, and the days after…his mind shuddered…the time will pass, and I can go home. He wanted that so much--wanted Jim so much, and yet Jim was here with him, holding him. It was very confusing to his drug-blurred mind, and it was much easier not to think at all, just accept this peace.

Kirk broke the quiet. "How do you feel?"

"Strange...." Even the one word was an exhausting effort.

Kirk’s arms tightened. "I know. I figured you’d be sore from yesterday, and I really don’t want to hurt you again, so I put some pain-killer in with the other stuff. Is it working?"

Very faint arch of an eyebrow. "I was unaware that you were knowledgeable about chemistry. How did you know the substances would not react against each other?"

"I asked the computer." Kirk paused. "And then I gave it to one of the prisoners we have in the brig and he didn’t die or anything, so I figured it was safe. He isn’t a Vulcan, but he’s a Romulan, which is pretty much the same thing, right?"

"Yes," Spock said, made aware again of the difference between his Kirk and this one. To casually test a drug on a prisoner--barbaric. He was a fool to expect any kind of mercy from this man. The thought stiffened him and Kirk sighed, released him, and sat up.

"Well, now that the mood’s broken, I might as well tell you what this is all about."

"I have wondered."

"I’m sure. It’s actually very logical; my Spock will be proud of me when he gets back-- after he recovers from the shock." He grinned. "Which he will; he’s pretty adaptable. I checked with the computer about how close the tie actually is between our universes, and biologically, at least, everything has its counterpart. Emotionally, too--extremely strong ties tend to have their own parallels. Your Kirk found that out when he was here. Spock helped him out of loyalty to me, to him, it didn’t matter. James Kirk is James Kirk-- although you probably don’t believe that right now." He paused, sighed again. "You’ll believe it even less in a minute.

"Let me try and put this to you so you’ll understand. My world is different from yours. I’ve got to keep an eye out in every direction. All the time. One slip, one moment of carelessness, one mistaken trust--like Marlena--and I’m dead. And I do make mistakes. I drink, I fuck around--all those things make me prone to error. The only reason I’m still alive, even with the Tantalus Field, is that Spock never screws up, never grows careless, always guards my back. Do you understand?"

"Yes."

"Do you watch out for your Captain?"

"I try."

"Why?"

Spock faltered. "He is my commanding officer; it is my duty. And he is my friend; it is my privilege."

"Very nice, but I can’t extrapolate from that, can I? The only duty my Spock has is to himself. He could assassinate me any time and be Captain, and there are those who would say he should because he’d do a better job than me--being so superior a being." Jim Kirk’s grin. "Do you think he’s likely to do that?"

"No."

"Yeah, that’s what he says. But I can’t depend on his say so--or on friendship, either. Too tenuous, too risky. I have to know I can trust him--implicitly. That’s where you come in."

"I?"

"Yes." He paused, stroked Spock’s hair. Dark eyes watched him warily, apprehensive at this renewal of physical intimacy.

"Captain...."

"Shhh. I’m not going to hurt you, I promise. I’m going to make you feel wonderful."

A warning signal went off in Spock’s mind, and he steeled himself to ignore the touch which had traveled down to his neck, then back up, petting his cheek. Kirk trailed his finger around Spock’s ear, and Spock felt panicked. Pain...that he could handle. This warm, treacherous sensation was a different threat, one he was totally unprepared for.

"Stop," he whispered, and Kirk shook his head.

"No. Why should I? You’re enjoying it, aren’t you? And you’ll enjoy it more and more, and so will I, and eventually we’ll climax--together."

Spock eyes were wide, incredulous, on his face. "And," Kirk continued, "you’ll meld us, and we’ll be bonded. According to the computer, that bond has a ninety-eight point seven-five chance of carrying over into my relationship with my Spock; enough, at least, to guarantee me against any treachery from that direction. Besides, he wants me--I can tell. He’ll like the idea once he gets used to it. Well? Opinion, Science Officer?"

Spock grasped at the most obvious flaw. "I will not meld with you, under any conditions, least of all the ones you describe." He saw his mistake and quickly corrected it. "Unlikely as the fulfillment of them is. I mean--" He stumbled, flushed, and tried again. "I will not respond in such a fashion."

"Oh?" Kirk licked his ear, blew softly, licked again. "I’m afraid these"--he flicked Spock’s nipples lightly--"don’t agree. They’re getting hard."

"An involuntary response to physical stimulus, nothing more."

"No question about it. So’s this." His free hand slid up Spock’s thigh, caressed his cock which, to Spock’s horror, began stiffening. He had never before wanted so frantically to be able to move, to struggle; for hopeless as that struggle might be, it would at least distract him from that warm touch, from the mouth which was placing wet kisses on the side of his neck. He shuddered as Kirk moved the other hand down and cupped his balls.

"Nevertheless, I will not meld with you."

"You won’t be able to stop yourself. Just before we come, I’ll put your hand in the right spot. I know all those pressure points; had Spock explain it last week. With you having no barriers, there’s nothing to prevent our minds from just sort of flowing together. And you know it."

It was true. He could do it. Spock felt sick at the thought. By his own weakness he would betray himself--and Jim. Jim! He caught his breath, For Jim, he would beg. "Please. Please don’t do this--you have no right. If the bond carries over as you say, into our own universe, our own lives, then Jim and I…."

"Yeah, I guess that follows, doesn’t it? So?"

"He would not have chosen me--to be tied to me thus. He will hate me for it, and despise me for my cooperation. You will ruin everything...my whole life...you will leave me nothing. Please...I have never injured you...nor has he...how can you do this to us?"

Kirk shrugged, but there was a faint uneasiness in his voice. "It’s necessary if I’m to survive."

"You could have...." Spock faltered. Suggesting that violence be brought upon someone else to spare him was impossible.

Kirk seemingly read his mind. "You mean I could have done all this to my Spock, right?"

"Well, it would have been simpler, and then you would only have affected yourselves. Why involve me--and Jim?"

"If I did this to my Spock, no matter how pleasant I made it for him, he’d be honor-bound to cut my throat next chance he got. No, this is the only way I can be absolutely sure of getting the result I want." Awkwardly, he added, "It’ll be all right, you’ll see. Hush, now, and let me show you how good you can feel. Uh-uh." He held up a warning hand as Spock tried to speak. "I’ve heard enough. No more talking."

He bent and softly licked a pale green nipple, which quickly hardened under the wet caress. Spock moaned. "You like that? I’ve always been very talented with my tongue--but that’s nothing. Wait."

Kirk moved, easing himself off Spock, turning, making himself comfortable on the Vulcan’s legs. His tongue flicked out and began making wide wet trails up Spock’s thigh. His hands began a slow, sensuous massage of Spock’s stomach while the oral caresses became more and more intricate, elaborate patterns on flesh. Just as he was reaching the base of Spock’s cock, he lifted his head, brushed the tip of the organ in passing, and his tongue made a swoop down the other thigh, to begin all over again on that leg. He was clearly enjoying himself. "You taste delicious," he murmured, nibbling the back of the Vulcan’s knee. "I can see I’m going to get very fond of this."

Spock was melting, dissolving; all he wanted was for Kirk’s hands to move down from their maddening position on his lower abdomen, and for that mouth to move up again. Kirk spread Spock’s legs and lifted slightly, circled the anal opening with his tongue, softly sucking. The pleasure was exquisite, and when the massage finally stopped and Kirk’s hands moved back up to pinch and tease Spock’s nipples once more, rolling them between thumb and forefinger, while his tongue worked itself inside the tight entrance, curled, tickling, Spock found himself wondering foggily if it were possible to die from sensory overload. He wished it were, because still in the back of his mind was the knowledge that somehow he was going to have to justify this to his Captain. The sharp pain-delight in his nipples stopped, and when Spock realized he regretted its absence, he knew he was lost. Any final thread of resistance was gone as the cool Human mouth closed over his fully erect cock.

There was no way to ignore the powerful stimulation, and Spock slid down into the depths of pleasure. Dark smothering crests of passion swamped him and he welcomed it-- anything to help him lose himself. When Kirk’s mouth left, he moaned again, pleadingly, and was answered by the hard probe entering him, impaling him; and he was glad of the flashing pain--deserved--and gladder still for the iron grip closing around his shaft, that solid living center of all this turmoil.

Kirk pumped him mercilessly from within and from without, aware of his total victory written in the closed eyes and parted lips of the man underneath him. He made it last as long as he could, pushing them both almost to the bottom of this ocean, to the ultimate drowning of their separate selves, then easing up, slowing, letting them float up a little more.... With a sudden, vicious flurry of thrusts, they dove back into the darkness. Then he was groping for Spock’s limp hand, bringing it up to his face, aligning each finger precisely where he remembered Spock showing him, his own fingers pressing over the Vulcan’s hand as the universe split with a roar and they were blasted upward in a wash of foam by Kirk’s fierce exultation flowing through them both, again and again.

But even as the orgasm peaked and began to fade, both men were nearly overwhelmed by the backlash of Spock’s terrible grief and remorse. Kirk threw himself sideways off the bed, struggling to pull his mind out of the pit Spock’s had fallen into. He hit the floor and, gasping, staggered into the head. Splashing his face with cold water, he tried to focus on his success. Success was what mattered.

He was going to have some fast talking to do pretty soon when his own Vulcan returned. The thought of facing his formidable First Officer with what he’d done was deeply exciting. Somehow, he was sure Spock wouldn’t have any serious objections--there had been times when he’d seen that dark gaze on him almost speculatively, and he’d always looked away, furious and pleased at his reaction. No, Spock wouldn’t trouble to deny his desire, nor would he be afraid or ashamed of it--as this Spock obviously was.

He swore softly, and lightly thumped his fist against the wall. That’s enough of this, he thought. I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. Gingerly his mind probed the new bond as a man might explore a newly repaired tooth, and found it whole. He wanted his own Spock back; he was tired of feeling so heinously guilty. And maybe the best thing, the only thing, he could do for this Vulcan was to send him back to his own Captain now.

That thought made him pause. He’d planned to wait out the full time, until Spock was at least somewhat recovered. Now he wasn’t so sure. Give Spock time to gather his composure again, and he’d wear it like armor; not tell his Kirk at all, if possible, or simply disappear, or kill himself....

He soaked a towel in cold water and returned to the bedroom. The glimpse of Spock’s despair which he’d caught at the end of the meld had him suddenly convinced that the Vulcan was capable of almost anything--except accepting what had happened, and realistically going on from here.

By the time he reached the bed, he’d also reached his decision. Send Spock back now; let Jim Kirk comfort him. Spock’s drugged, shattered state would argue more eloquently in his defense than anything else could, although Kirk didn’t think any defense would be needed. That Kirk wasn’t blind, and he’d have to be not to have noticed--and considered--his Spock before. They simply couldn’t be that different. The only difference was that he himself was willing to go out and take what he wanted. That Kirk would never have done so, which was why, he supposed, Spock loved him. He wiped Spock’s face with the cloth.

"Are you awake?" No response, and Kirk nodded, pleased. Spock’s mind had inured itself against further immediate pain through unconsciousness. Excellent. He pulled the blanket up over the nude body and left the room. He’d have to check the dimensional coordinates. His Spock should, ideally, be alone in the other Vulcan’s quarters when he effected the change.

* * * * *

Soon, Jim thought as he left the turbolift and approached Spock’s door. Soon it will have been five days, and if we have it figured right, that Captain should return our mutual Spocks to their proper places and I can find out what the hell has been going on--and get my First Officer back on the bridge where I need him. He and McCoy had let it be known that Spock was ill with a mild but extremely contagious lung infection. Meanwhile, the Vulcan worked with the computer, trying to get around the blocks placed by his Captain. Kirk frowned. There had been something peculiar in Spock’s attitude earlier in the day, and he’d questioned the Vulcan sharply but with no satisfaction. Still, he could have sworn that Spock had stopped wondering both about the motives for the exchange, and about getting back. "You know something," Kirk had accused, and had gotten only a noncommittal eyebrow in reply. A smug eyebrow, a feline smile, and Kirk had had to leave the room before his temper overwhelmed him. He’d gone straight to the gym and beaten hell out of the exercise equipment.

Sighing, he touched the door release and stepped into the quiet room.

All was peaceful. The Guardian cast its glow over everything; the temperature was pleasantly warm and, as Kirk saw when he entered the bedroom, Spock was asleep. Then he took another look, gasped sharply, and dropped to his knees beside the bed. Unquestionably his Spock, and it wasn’t just the absence of the beard which told him. The very contours of the body were belovedly familiar, and Kirk turned the lights up a little just for the pure joy of looking at him. Then the hazel eyes darkened. Spock’s face was badly bruised, and, from the arm flung up over his head, Kirk could see that his wrists were, too. Grimly, yet tenderly, he pulled the blanket down and surveyed the livid black and purple marks on Spock’s shoulders.

What on earth,

he thought incredulously; then, with mounting fury, he’s been beaten! Either someone must have seen him and recognized the difference, or an old enemy took advantage of what appeared to be weakness, or sickness, or…damn that Kirk! Whatever his reasons for this, how could he take such a chance? I don’t believe he just didn’t care --no, someone found Spock by accident and did this. That must be why he’s back now, so early; it wasn’t safe to keep him there any longer. Anything could be going on there--a revolution, or mutiny, for all I know. This was what he’d been afraid of the whole time; Spock was not equipped to handle the savageries of that place, and Kirk had obviously been no help.

Gently, he replaced the blanket. Fortunately Spock was breathing easily, and--Kirk checked the pulse at his neck--his heart action was good. He sat down on the edge of the bed and stroked the dark hair back. Who did this to you? Was it someone I know-- someone with his counterpart on my ship?

Spock stirred and moaned. "No, no, no...." He pulled away from Kirk’s hand, clutching the blanket more tightly to him.

Jim shook him carefully. "Hey, wake up. It’s over now, you’re home. Spock...." The Vulcan’s eyes opened and fastened on Kirk’s face. They widened and Spock recoiled, began fighting; wildly, desperately, but very weakly.

Jim tightened his grip on Spock’s shoulders. "Spock. Spock, stop, it’s me--stop it, you’re going to hurt yourself. Spock!" In frustration, Kirk shook him once; then, as Spock only pushed frantically against him, he slapped his face sharply. "Stop it! Damnit, will you...." His voice died as Spock crumpled back onto the bed, abandoning the struggle, arms over his face as though warding off more blows. Kirk stared at him blankly, then pulled the shielding hands down. "Look at me," he demanded. Spock’s eyes obediently rested on his face. "Who am I? You must know me." Spock’s eyes dropped. "Look at me!" Why was he shouting? He was only making it worse, but...how could Spock not recognize him? It was frustrating and ridiculous....

"Leave me alone," Spock whispered, lips trembling. "You have what you wanted--why can’t you just leave me alone?"

Kirk was suddenly very cold, and a great sickness began in his stomach as he realized what was wrong. Realized, too, that his grip on Spock’s arms must be painful, saw a new bruise--his doing--on the Vulcan’s face.

"Spock." He relaxed his hands, but kept them resting lightly on the other man’s arms. "Spock, it’s me--Jim. Your Jim."

Spock shook his head slightly, but gave a sidelong glance at the floor of his quarters. Something about it brought his eyes back to Kirk, and there was not so much fear in them now. "Jim?"

"Yes, you’re home, you’re safe with me...really, you are."

Spock tried to get some order into his thoughts. It was too soon--yet, these were unmistakably his own quarters. A trick of some sort? "Let go of me, then," he whispered, and, when Kirk hesitated, "Please let go." Reluctantly, Jim released him, and Spock groped for him blindly, "It is you, he would not have let me go it is you Jim, Jim I’m sorry, I am so sorry." The wretchedness in his voice tore Jim open, and he caught Spock into his arms, held him tightly, rocked him gently, face set.

That bastard, that fucking bastard, he did this to you! Brought you all the way there for--for what? Just to hurt you? Could I really be that insane in any universe? "Shhh, Spock, Spock, it’s all right, I’m here. I’m here, and I won’t let anyone hurt you again."

In a moment Spock’s voice came muffled against his chest. "Let go."

"Why? I mean, I will if you want, but"--Kirk laughed shakily--"you’ll have to let go of me too, if it’s going to work."

"It is a cheat, a fraud. I do not deserve this, and when you hear what I have to tell you, you will not wish to give me comfort. Therefore I would prefer it if you let go now." His hands, however, still clung to Jim’s shoulders, and Kirk’s reply was to shift position to make himself more comfortable, leaning against the wall, pulling Spock closer to him.

"Tell me. It can’t possibly be that bad. Just tell me, and you’ll see all this is needless."

Spock tried to speak, but the words wouldn’t come. "I apologize for this disgraceful exhibition. I...am not myself...the drug is...."

"He drugged you?" Calm, Kirk told himself, calm. "Let me look at you." Tilting Spock’s chin back, he looked deeply into his eyes, noting the dilated pupils and shadowed expression--connected it up with Spock’s physical weakness and the state of his nerves. "Well, that explains a lot." Gently he pressed the dark head against his chest again. "Okay, allowances made for the mystery drug. Tell me about it."

"I don’t know much. I was paralyzed, and my mental screens were destroyed. It doesn’t matter. There is no excuse."

"I’ll decide what matters, and you don’t need any excuses. Could you move at all?"

"No. The voluntary functions were completely suppressed--the involuntary reflexes were unaffected...." he was unable to continue, and Kirk just held him, waiting. "You will hate me," Spock gasped finally, and tried to pull away. "How can I tell you...I have betrayed you...I have betrayed our friendship...you will never trust me again. I wish to leave...let me transfer off the Enterprise without--"

"Mr. Spock," Kirk said softly, "you know better than to ask me that. Just tell me. Come right out with the worst part, and then while I’m still here, holding you, you can tell me the rest a little more coherently. Okay?"

Spock swallowed and tried for composure. Some dignity, he thought miserably. At least let him remember me as having some dignity. "We are bonded. He and I, and therefore you and I. Forever," he added when there was no reaction, wondering whether Jim had understood him. Then, frightened, he stumbled on. "I do not, of course, it goes without saying, hold you to any...you are not obligated...after I leave the bond will weaken, dissipate, it will not trouble you...Jim? Do you hear what I am saying?"

"I hear you." Jim rubbed Spock’s back slowly, lazily, trying to think of exactly the right thing to say. "It’s all right. I’m not mad--I certainly don’t hate you, and stop talking about going away. How did it happen?"

He meant it, Spock knew. Any anger would be clearly felt by him through the bond to his still unshielded mind. Always so good to me.... Overwhelmed by his love for the Human and thus by renewed shame and misery, he sobbed once, a harsh, broken sound. "I’m sorry," he gasped. "I can’t control myself."

"You already explained about the drug. It’s all right. Just tell me what happened."

"He touched me," Spock whispered, sunk in humiliation. "He touched me and...kissed me...on the mouth, and...elsewhere. I’m sorry, I tried to block it but I couldn’t...I couldn’t...but I should have been able to ignore him. I did try, Jim."

"Ignore a blow job? That is what you’re trying to describe, isn’t it? Impossible."

"A...." Spock considered the phrase, puzzled, then blushed furiously. Remarkable how much better he felt, now that it was out. "You...you do not blame me?"

"Blame you!" Jim held him tighter. "I don’t blame you. But I don’t understand--I mean, is that all there is to forming a bond? Just the act? Seems rather--"

"No." Miserable again, Spock studied Jim’s uniform insignia. "There was a meld. My mind was...is...incapable of blocking or shielding anything, and when he...and I...approached orgasm...he put my hand on his face and...." He shook his head, unable to continue.

Jim said nothing at all, just held him, patted, stroked, soothed him, made no judgments, simply accepting. Spock put his arms around the Human’s neck and gave himself up to the memory. "It was terrible," he choked, face hidden in Jim’s shoulder. "Dark and thick, like drowning, or dying, but...I wanted it...." Beyond shame now. "Then my fingers touched his face and my mind was flowing out from me. I could not stop it, and he took me completely, his pleasure my pleasure, and I wanted to die. I thought I was dying, and that is all I remember until I woke up here." Exhausted by the recital, he managed to get even closer, then was quiet in Kirk’s arms.

It was taking every ounce of Kirk’s self-control to keep the anger out of his embrace. He wanted to squeeze Spock breathless, rail against his own counterpart; but that was not what was needed. What was needed was understanding and sympathy. Spock had to be encouraged to talk, to get all the poison out of his system before he could be allowed to collapse. Once he got his control back and sealed the experience up behind those high Vulcan walls, any remaining horror would fester there, destroying him and their tenuous new relationship from within,

"You said you passed out right after the meld, and woke up here. What happened the first couple of days?"

"It was...the first night he was not so controlled…not enough to wait for my...to carry out his plan. I do believe he regretted his haste, and...roughness...at least he said he did...."

Jim pondered that confused mass of statements in silence. He didn’t want to press Spock for details, but what…? Abruptly he pulled the blanket off all the way and stared at the cruel dark purple welts on Spock’s thighs and ass. Dizzy with rage, he laid a hand on one and his fingers fit perfectly.

Spock flinched at the touch. Jim clenched his fists, set Spock aside, and rose. Halfway to the door, he paused and turned. The enlarged pupils made Spock’s eyes pure black, and so clear--the fear was back in them again, and Jim realized that the Vulcan could feel his anger through the still unprotected telepathic sense. He cursed himself for his thoughtlessness, went back to the bed, and eased Spock down onto the pillows. "Wait a minute, I’ll be right back."

"Where...where are you going?"

"Just to get some cream I have for those bruises." An apparently irrelevant question surfaced. "How did he get this drug into you in the first place?"

"Originally in juice, at dinner the first night, After that, in a hypodermic, then"--he faltered, ashamed of his weakness--"in the juice again." He saw the question and answered it. "At phaser point. It did seem the lesser...Jim?" Spock reached out to touch him, but his hand stopped in mid-air. He let it drop back and closed his eyes. If Jim withdrew his support now, it would be unbearable, but no more than he’d expected, or deserved.

Lips brushed his closed eyelids gently. "Stop hating yourself.’ Kirk’s voice was husky. "It’s not your fault. This was done to you. Period. You have absolutely nothing to blame yourself for."

"But. . .Jim. . . ."

"I don’t want to hear ‘but Jim.’ If you’re feeling guilty about your response, then stop. He hit you, you bruised; he sucked you, you came--it’s that basic." Despite his turmoil, he had to smile; Spock’s color had risen with the vivid description. You really are beautiful, he thought. I can almost understand-- never forgive, but almost understand--his reaction to you. But how could he bring himself to hurt you?

"Now let me get that cream. Then I want you to go to sleep, and when you wake up I’ll still be here and we’ll talk, straighten this mess out." He saw Spock tense again. "Oh, Spock, are you still...do you have any idea how it makes me feel to see that you’re afraid of me? I love you. Remember that. I love you."

Spock bit his lip and listened to Jim’s footsteps cross the room, to the soft swish as the door slid open, then shut, and he was alone. Not daring to think, or to feel, he let himself pull back into blankness, further back, knowing it was dangerous, and that he shouldn’t-- but it was too late now and he was so tired....

"Spock." Gentle nudge. "Hey, are you awake?" Spock blinked, awareness returning to his mind. "You’re awfully cold. I turned up the heat, and I’ll cover you when I’m done." He began to stroke the worst injuries carefully, massaging the ointment into sore spots and aching muscles. Despite himself, Spock felt his body relax. Jim was watching him for any signs of fright when the massage became more intimate, but there were none, and he nodded in satisfaction. Spock was making no connection, then, between that Kirk’s touch and his. Ever my logical Vulcan, he thought with a smile. His hands moved up Spock’s body, paused again at the shoulders. Experimentally he placed his hands where the other hands had been, and frowned. "He shook you? That hard?" At Spock’s sleepy nod, Kirk’s anger surfaced again. "Stupid bastard--he could have broken your neck!" He stopped, remorseful, as his temper had its visible effect on Spock.

"I questioned the means he evidently needed to achieve sexual satisfaction, and he lost control."

Kirk laughed dryly. "I see that." He was massaging again, slow, even strokes around the base of Spock’s neck, thinking. If his violent emotions affected Spock so strongly, maybe he could make that work for him. He concentrated on gentle thoughts, loving thoughts--amazingly easy. I do love you, although before this I took it for granted that I could never show you how much. It came so naturally, like breathing, eating, sleeping. Loving you… wanting to take care of you…never let anyone hurt you…how can you even talk about leaving me? Very softly he smoothed cream into the pale face.

Spock was floating, enveloped in warmth, peace, contentment--like being wrapped in a cloud, he thought drowsily, a soft, fleecy, golden.... He was asleep. Jim sat back on the bed and exhaled. He waited until Spock had been still for half an hour, then touched his arm. "Spock?" No response, and Jim sighed with relief. He rose, stretching, and thumbed the intercom. "Kirk to Sickbay."

"Sickbay. McCoy here."

He sounds so tired

, Kirk thought. This waiting hasn’t been easy on him either. Aloud, he said, "Bones, get your medkit and a stiff drink--or two--for me, and meet me in Spock’s quarters immediately."

"Jim…I’d really rather not see him unless it’s absolutely necessary. Couldn’t we talk in your quarters?"

"It’s over. Our Spock’s back, and I want you to take a look at him."

"Is he hurt?"

"Well, yes...but look, Bones, this has to be very discreet. Don’t make any entries in your log until I get a chance to talk to you. And come in here quietly; I don’t want you to wake him."

"On my way. McCoy out."

Spock didn’t stir when McCoy entered, and Jim put a cautionary finger to his lips. "Don’t ask me any questions. Just run your scanner over him and tell me what you find."

McCoy complied, lips tightening at the sight of Spock’s face. He moved the scanner slowly down the Vulcan’s body, expression becoming more and more rigid as he ticked off his findings. "The bruising on his face and head you can see for yourself. Neck and shoulder muscles badly strained, plus additional bruising. Evidence of massive doses of some type of sedative, or pain killer, combined with something else I can’t even begin to identify without a blood workup. Very peculiar and erratic brain wave readings." He glanced at Kirk. "Am I correct in assuming that he’s an emotional wreck?"

"He’s not the only one." Jim had tossed off his first drink and was working steadily on the second. "Go on, and be quieter--if he knew you examined him he’d never be able to face you again."

"Well, sooner or later, I’ll have to--" McCoy stopped, checked his settings, and ran the scanner over Spock’s lower body again. He lifted shocked eyes to Kirk. "Jim...."

"I know."

"He’s been raped!"

"I said I know. How badly is he hurt?"

"He doesn’t require surgery or hospitalization, if that’s what you mean. When that drug wears off completely it’s gonna hurt like hell, though."

"We can keep this confidential, can’t we? I mean, you know how he’d feel about it going on his record."

"Does he know who did this to him?"

Kirk laughed harshly. "He does. Captain James T. Kirk of the I.S.S. Enterprise!"

McCoy digested that for a moment; then: "How upset is he?"

"Very. It’s hard to tell how much of that is due to the drug, though. He said it negated his telepathic barriers. That bastard didn’t miss a trick, did he?"

"So it was a mental rape as well as a physical one."

"I hadn’t thought of it like that, but it sounds right. I’ll tell you, Bones, I’m wrung out. I felt so...so sorry for him, and furious with that son-of-a-bitch...and that’s not the whole story. In fact, it gets worse." The harsh laugh again. "That part"--he waved at McCoy’s scanner-- "was just the beginning. It wasn’t what really did him in."

McCoy eyed him keenly. "Are you all right, Jim?"

"Not really, but I have to be. Come out here." They moved into the living area, and Kirk flopped down at Spock’s desk. "Sit. It’s a long story."

Keeping his voice low with an effort, he repeated the whole thing as he’d pieced it together from Spock. McCoy listened, aghast, "Don’t ever let him know, by even a flicker of your eyes, that I told you this. Sooner or later, when he’s himself again, he’ll realize that I had to have called you in, and that you would have picked up the rape, but he can accept that a lot easier than you knowing about the meld--and the rest."

"How do you feel about that-- about him responding sexually to that other Kirk?"

"I feel...a little jealous, and angry with him, that Captain"--he deliberately avoided the name-- "and overwhelmed with tenderness for Spock. I never knew I could feel so strongly about anyone. I want to take care of him, hold him and never let him go, never let him out of my sight again."

"Sounds pretty impractical, I’d say. You don’t feel trapped, or resentful of the position you’ve been put in?"

Kirk was startled. "You mean the bond?"

"Well, it is a big step to be taken without your consent. To all intents and purposes, you’re married to him now and you weren’t even consulted. Leaving out the physical aspects, the emotional commitment alone is--maybe Spock’s right. Maybe it would be better if he did leave--go back to Vulcan and relearn all his techniques for control. The bond could probably be broken from there."

"No. Absolutely out of the question. Aside from what sending him away now would do to him--and I’m not enough of a fool to base a lifelong decision on pity, really I’m not-- the funny thing is...I’ve been in love with him for years. You never knew that, did you? I’ve loved him, depended on him, trusted him more than I ever trusted anyone else--and desire was there, too. It just never occurred to me he’d ever...oh, I wondered sometimes, the way he looked at me when he thought I didn’t see, but I never dared...I was too afraid of driving him away. Now, to find out we’ve both been wanting, and holding back all these years, it makes me feel like a fool. What bothers me is that if I’d acted on it before, if I’d had the courage, and the insight, this whole thing might not have happened.

"No, the bonding part’s fine; I’m happy about it. Very happy. I’m just worried about him. You have no idea of the scene we went through. I’ve never seen him like that, never expected to. He was so afraid of telling me, so sure I’d despise him, leave him--Bones, I want to take him away. He must be sick of the sight of his quarters by now, and if I could get him someplace completely different--someplace so far removed from ship life that it would be a whole new beginning I’m sure it would help. I hate seeing him frightened, hurt, guilt-ridden. I want him to be happy. I can make him happy. What’s the nearest place I can take him to? I want to get him off the ship by tomorrow. I don’t even want to give him five minutes to look at these walls and brood."

"I’m warning you now," McCoy said, "it’s going to take...oh, forty-eight to seventy-two hours before that drug is out of his system. Until it is, his control is going to be nonexistent, and he shouldn’t be wasting his energy keeping up his Vulcan facade for everyone around him. He should go back to no control at all and start over from scratch building it up. A vacation is a good idea." He switched on Spock’s computer, fumbled with it for a moment, then punched in his requirements and studied the results. "There’s an R and R area only fourteen hours away. It’s quiet--not really what you’re used to, actually. A small community with cottages for the use of whatever officers need them-- food stores, shopping mall, and so on. It won’t have a beach or anything like that, but there’ll probably be a pool in the yard at least. I guess we can drop you two off, and pick you up...let’s see, you can’t lay over for too long, you know. We have to be at the Starbase for that briefing before the next mission."

"I know that," Kirk said, impatient. "We have six days till then."

"Well...that should be enough time."

"It’s a start, anyway. When we get back to the ship, will he be ready for duty?"

"Don’t see why not. Do you want me to make the arrangements?"

"Please do. Isn’t there something you can do for him now? You said he’s going to be in pain."

"Can’t give him anything for it; he’s been sedated for too long as it is. The drug has to work itself out without interference, but it’ll dull the pain for a while, anyway. Just let him rest. Why don’t you put him in your room till you go? It’ll have fewer associations for him. You can move him now--I’ll make sure the halls are empty."

"Thanks, Bones." Jim watched McCoy peer out the door and nod. He crossed back to Spock and, lifting him carefully, carried him down the deserted corridor into the Captain’s quarters, to lay him down in his own bed.

The tempo of Spock’s breathing hadn’t even changed. He must be exhausted, Jim thought; then: So am I. He said goodnight to the Doctor, locked the door, turned off his viewscreen, and, with a sigh of relief, eased down and gathered Spock into his arms again. He fell asleep with his lips brushing silky, sweet-smelling black hair.

*****

Spock stirred, half opened his eyes, and moved nearer to the warmth next to him. A light kiss brushed his cheek and he blinked, looked up.

Jim was smiling at him, eyes dancing. "Well, it’s about time you woke up."

"I...was unaware that I was sleeping." He looked around and drew a blank. "Where are we?"

"My quarters. I carried you in last night."

"Oh." Spock curled closer into Jim’s arms and tried to let himself drift. It was difficult, however, with Jim’s hand making that distracting slide down his back and up, tickling the back of his neck.

Jim’s lips caressed one pointed ear. "You can’t really go back to sleep. We’re going on leave in...." He checked the chronometer. "Oh, we still have seven hours."

"Going away?" Intrigued, Spock opened his eyes again, and was suddenly wide awake as memory rushed in on him. He became aware once more of the price he had paid for this closeness.

"Is it very insensitive of me to be so happy?" Jim asked, studying Spock’s face. The strained expression had returned, and he wanted to banish it for good. "After all, that’s over now. The important thing is that...well, here we are. How do you feel? You look much better." In truth, Spock was as pale and drawn as he’d been yesterday, but Jim was counting heavily on the power of suggestion.

"I...yes, I think I am at least partially recovered." Cautiously, Spock tested his controls. How patient Jim had been with him last night--remembering that Spock blushed slightly, newly shy of meeting his Captain’s eyes.

Jim hugged him hard. "If you’re turning that delicious shade of green over what I think you are, stop. I am honored that you trusted me enough to let me help." Deliberately, he looked anxious.

"Did I help? I mean, I wouldn’t want to presume."

Despite himself, Spock’s eyebrow arched. "You wouldn’t?"

Soft laughter. "Are you going to do me the further honor of believing that I meant everything I said? Or are you going to insult me by implying that I would fill you with a bunch of pretty lies just to end that...ah, to calm you down?"

"Lies? To what, precisely, are you referring?" It was difficult for Spock to refrain from smiling.

"You want to hear it again? And I thought Vulcans were supposed to be modest. I love you. I’ve loved you forever. And I’ve wanted you forever--speaking of which, I can’t really reach you comfortably with you on your side like that. Roll over. That’s better."

Spock sighed as Jim began stroking his lower stomach, upper thighs, balls, cock...and the warmth spreading out from those parts sang through the rest of his body. Feeling duty-bound, however, he made one final protest. "You must not feel you have to...."

"Oh, right, Spock. Just another distasteful duty I have to perform...shit! You know me better than that. You know your Human physiology better than that, too, or you should." Taking Spock’s hand, he placed it on his own rigid cock, and kissed him. "What happened is over, a bad dream. It didn’t happen at all in the context of our universe, our lives. I know the memories are terrible, but don’t let them carry over to poison this. We’re together now. Us. You and me. That’s what counts. Together forever--bonded throughout eternity. And who knows how long it would have taken us on our own. We’ve both been pretty dense about the whole thing; in a way, we owe our counterparts a debt. Although every time I think"-- Jim’s grip tightened fiercely-- "of how he hurt you, I feel like killing, but it’s in another dimension, and I can’t get to him to break his neck the way I want. And anyway, he is me, and I really think, Spock.... He shot the Vulcan a surreptitious glance to see how he was taking this. "I really think that if I dwell on that, I’ll end up with an ulcer, or a stroke, or--"

"You are correct about the debt," Spock said hastily, well aware of the unfortunate Human propensity for psychosomatic ailments. "The memories are already fading." It was true; with the wearing off of the drug, everything that had happened seemed far away, misty. Reality was here, in Jim’s embrace. All horror was being consumed in the sweet fire building in his nerves as the Human hand continued petting, stroking, toying with his body’s most sensitive parts. He moaned, pulling Kirk even closer to him. Jim clutched at his back, pulling him over on top, spreading his own legs. Startled at the unexpected dominance of his position, Spock hesitated.

"Mr. Spock," Kirk whispered, grinning, giving Spock’s ass a squeeze before circling the Vulcan’s neck with his arms, "it is now time for you to fulfill my deepest, darkest fantasy--the one I’ve indulged in every time I got to staring at you on the bridge."

"You did?"

"Didn’t you ever look at me and think how it would be?" Vivid blush. "I never knew you did that so easily," Jim commented approvingly. "1 like it. It’s very becoming."

Coming from anyone else, Spock would have considered that an insult, but he knew by the admiring sparkle in the hazel eyes not only that he was merely being teased, but also that the compliment was sincere. Jim was smiling at him again and, greatly daring, Spock leaned down and kissed him. Jim’s mouth opened willingly under his; frightened at his own temerity, half expecting outraged rejection at any moment, Spock caressed the inside with his tongue. He was delighted at Kirk’s hoarse groan, at his impatient fingers between their bodies rubbing his cock.

We have been approaching this all along,

Spock thought with amazement, our favorite pastime - his approach, my retreat, teasing, eyes meeting, then looking away, sideways glances--yes, it is true. Why did I never see it before? And now that he has…seduced me…he desires to be conquered. Fascinating. He pressed experimentally against the tight opening, and was gratified to feel the muscles tighten, then relax at his touch.

"Oh, yes," Jim whispered, "yes, that’s so good, harder, push it in harder, fuck me fuck me, I’m yours, all yours...."

Spock’s mouth covered his again, demanding silence; and Jim surrendered happily, lifting his hips, wrapping his legs around Spock’s waist, pulling him in closer until Spock’s cock filled him completely, a part of him as intimate and familiar as his own heartbeat. Sharp teeth playful on his neck, hot fingers on his own swollen organ, and they were flying, soaring effortlessly on air currents which ebbed and swelled, ebbed and swelled until there was nothing but rising, rising.... He came, arched upward as hard, as tight against Spock as he could possibly manage. The rhythmic anal contractions sent Spock over the precipice too, and they fell together, knowing themselves safe as long as they clung to each other, falling gloriously until they opened their eyes to find themselves still on the bed, hair soaked with sweat, bodies trembling. Inexplicably, Spock was crying softly and Jim held him, rejoicing in the sound of this final catharsis.

Finally the quiet sobs ceased and Spock sighed, exhausted, yet content. "You smell wonderful," he said, snuggling his wet face into the crook of Jim’s shoulder.

"Hmmm? Oh, thank you." Jim stretched luxuriously, and Spock enjoyed the feel of that hard body arching in his arms, straining, then relaxing, like an orgasm of the spirit, he thought, smiling slightly at his own whimsy.

"What’s funny?" Kirk asked.

"Nothing...everything. Do you know that you are more beautiful than anything I have ever seen?"

"Anything?" Jim opened his eyes and smiled into Spock’s serene face. "You mean of all the sights in the galaxy I’m the best?"

"That pleases you?"

"I know it’s not true, but it pleases me that you think so. Makes it nice when things are reciprocal."

Spock took a second to recognize the compliment, then, over whelmed, kissed Jim’s mouth again-- a mouth which quirked against his.

"Mr. Spock, I would be feeling very insulted right now if I were as unduly sensitive as someone else I know."

"Oh? Are you by any chance referring to me?"

"Well, I’ve told you that I love you countless times, and you haven’t said it to me once." Jim concentrated on looking hurt. "Maybe you were only interested in my body, and now that you’re through…."

"Jim! You cannot believe that I...."

"I’ll be tossed aside like a...like a burnt-out circuit."

"Are you serious? You must know how much I love you."

"What am I, a mind reader? How much do you love me? More to the point"--suddenly serious-- "why do you love me? What is there about me that you’ve found to love?"

Spock looked dubious. "This may take some time. Didn’t you mention that we were going away?"

"We have hours yet. Bones will call us in plenty of time. Begin, please." Jim waved an imperious arm, settled back comfortably.

Serious, Spock began ticking items off on his long fingers. "I love your courage, your sincerity, your flair for elaborate, theatrical deceptions--did I ever tell you how much you delight me when you begin your nonsense?"

"Always knew it. Go on." Kirk yawned. He was getting remarkably sleepy.

"Well, I love your good nature, and your generosity, and your temper, and your courtesy, and your charm, and your...." Spock stopped. Jim was asleep. Spock smiled and leaned down to whisper the rest in his ear. "And I love your beauty, your grace...." He slid his hand down Jim’s chest, filled with the delight of possession, "...your irritability, and your sweetness." He smothered a yawn of his own, eased himself down, and moved tentatively close, not wanting to disturb, feeling suddenly insecure.

Jim looked so complete, so perfectly contented, and Spock was seized with a black fear that perhaps after all Jim had been acting out of a sense of obligation, of kindness. He knew he was being absurd, but.... Jim moved in his sleep and held out both arms; Spock leaned cautiously into them and was pulled close. The slight hint of resistance reached Jim even in the depths of slumber, and he guided Spock’s head to its place on his shoulder, fitting every inch of their bodies together. A golden arm and leg draped snugly around the Vulcan’s body, holding him there. Kirk was smiling, looking so unmistakably happy that Spock’s heart rebounded from its depression. Incredible as it was, Jim evidently did love him, had placed his life in Spock’s hands once and for all. A sacred trust indeed, and I must be worthy, must be unswerving in my devotion…so easy to do, so pleasant….

He didn’t even know when his thoughts were pulled underneath the cloak of darkness, nor that he, too, was smiling in his sleep.

 

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