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A POINT OF LAW

By

Ray Newton

Initial negotiations for the entry of the planet Haldure into the Federation were, for once, blissfully uncomplicated. The Enterprise had been surveying Haldure's solar system when they became involved in the planet's first attempt at a manned space probe to its uninhabited neighbour. A malfunction in the primitive rocket had endangered the lives of its crew, and the Enterprise intervened to rescue the astronauts. Since the race had achieved spaceflight capability by its own efforts the Prime Directive did not apply; and since Haldure lay in a strategic position relative to the Romulan neutral zone Kirk's report to Starfleet had resulted in immediate orders to contact the government and begin treaty discussions.

The arrival of the Enterprise crew was greeted with wholehearted enthusiasm. A curious, lively people, the Haldurans had long debated the existence of other races in the galaxy. To them, Kirk's arrival was exciting enough, but Spock's presence at his side was more than they had hoped for.

In turn, Kirk was delighted with the planet. The natives were basically humanoid; the most obvious differences were in their facial features. They possessed no ears or noses, these organs being concealed by flaps of tough, horny skin that could be closed at will. They also had a dual breathing system similar to the gills on Terran fish, allowing them to breath perfectly comfortably under water.

Their system of government was benign. It was a united population that had no word in its complex language for "country" or "nation". Indeed, they had some difficulty in grasping the concept. Their government was a ruling Council freely elected by all the people. Women were completely equal - again, the Haldurans had difficulty in realising that in some societies they were not - and although only adults voted, one Council member was appointed with special responsibility for their children.

One aspect of Haldure above all others delighted the Enterprise crew. The natives had reached their industrial age without making the mistakes that had damaged so many planets, Earth included. They had never permitted their quest for growth to harm their world. Pollution was unknown, and their wildlife was guarded as a sacred trust for their children.

While Kirk and Spock were engaged in diplomatic exchanges with the Council the specialists of the Enterprise crew studied their own areas of interest, discussing with their native counterparts how Federation technology could best be employed to aid their new allies, and at the same time learning much from them. McCoy in particular was absorbed in his study of the Halduran medical knowledge, his eyes shining as he described for them how many conditions they regarded as fatal or crippling could be cured by means of the knowledge and drugs that would be made freely available to them. He compiled his own report to the Surgeon-General's office, recommending that an extensive medical mission be added to the cultural exchange ship that was being readied at Starfleet Headquarters.


+++++



Some two weeks after their landing on Haldure McCoy returned late one evening to the house that he shared with Kirk and Spock. They preferred to remain on the planet, although most of the group returned to the ship each night.

Before going to his room McCoy went to the kitchen to make himself a snack supper. To his surprise Kirk was there, sitting over a cup of cold coffee. He looked up as McCoy came in.

"Hi, Bones, Have a good day?"

"Busy, but useful."

It was clear that Kirk had something on his mind, but McCoy knew better than to pry.

"I've been inspecting their main hospital. It's amazing what they can do with the facilities they have - their skin grafting techniques taught me a thing or two. When they get their hands on some good equipment..." The Doctor shrugged expressively.

"Well, I endorsed your application for a medical team. That should speed things up." Kirk rose and began to pace the kitchen restlessly. "Bones - I need your help."

"So tell me about it." McCoy poured coffee for them both, adding as the thought struck him, "Is it Spock?"

"Yes. It's... uh..."

McCoy suspected what Kirk was trying to say. "C'mon, Jim, spit it out."


"It's... Oh hell, Bones, it's pon farr."

"Uh-oh. I thought he had a few months yet. Still, this is only his third time."

"And only his second with me. The thing is, Bones, he doesn't want to go back to the ship."

"Why not? The crew knows you're bonded."

"Strangely enough, that's not what's bothering him. But pon farr... They're so secretive about it. Part of him even resents you knowing, though he admits you have to. I don't want to upset him any more, so it looks as though we'll have to arrange something here."

"But the Haldurans..."

"Exactly." Kirk eyed his friend worriedly. "Lord knows how they'll react if they find out."

McCoy nodded gloomily, recalling the one aspect of Halduran culture that now seemed likely to threaten their mission.

Almost from the beginning the Enterprise sociologists had stressed the sternly moral nature of the Haldurans. Cooperative to an unusual degree, crime and warfare were abhorrent to them. All disputes were settled by a jury of elders who were familiar with all parties involved. Their judgement, once given, was accepted without question.

Among the most strictly observed laws were those relating to marriage. No Halduran could marry before the age of thirty, and no woman before twenty-five, unless in the opinion of the Council they could justify their application. This, it was believed, lessened the chances of an unhappy marriage by ensuring that the partners were physically, mentally and emotionally mature, and by giving them every opportunity to be certain of their choice. Once a marriage was entered into the only grounds for its dissolution was incurable insanity, attested to by at least three physicians. Persistent cruelty was regarded as proof of insanity. So was infidelity by either partner. This, however, was very rare, and was regarded as a serious crime. Premarital sex was also considered a crime, although it was usually considered to stem from faulty education. Those involved were taken into custody for corrective training.

As part of the cultural exchange the Haldurans had been told frankly that other races in the Federation did not subscribe to their code. They had accepted the knowledge, but had insisted that on Haldure their laws must be obeyed. It made a good impression when Kirk stated the Federation's ban on interfering with the internal affairs of a member, and had promised that all Federation representatives would obey the law.

"I don't suppose the sociologists said how the Haldurans regard same-sex relationships," McCoy said.

"No - I don't think that's come up yet. Still, given what we do know, I can't see them accepting it, Bones."

"Neither can I."

"I guess it'll have to be the ship, then. We could sedate him and get him on board. I don't like the idea, though."

"Tell you what - give me some time to think. How long do you have?"

"Another three days before Spock's control begins to weaken. Another week after that before the need becomes imperative. But the sooner into the cycle we can begin, the easier it'll be on both of us."

"What will you need?"

"Complete privacy, for a start. Once pon farr is established Spock sees anyone else - male or female - as a possible rival. And of course, I'll need you."

"Me?"

Kirk chuckled. "Don't worry - you'll only be called in when it's all over."

"Jim, is this dangerous for you?"

"Not really. I'll be pretty exhausted, and I might need some minor first aid. It's more a precaution than anything else. I came through it last time, didn't I? And this time I'll be even better prepared."

"Last time you were on Vulcan, with experts on hand. But right - I'll see what I can do. It might be better if you stayed with Spock as much as possible from now on. I'll speak to the Council and make some excuse to get you both away."

"Thanks, Bones." Kirk looked up suddenly, and turned to the door. "Spock's awake," he explained. "It's easier for him to maintain control if I'm nearby."

McCoy watched his friend's departure and shook his head sadly. Although he would never say so to Jim, he had been afraid ever since they told him of the bonding that the sheer uniqueness of the relationship might one day lead to tragedy.

He hoped fervently that he was wrong.


+++++



Kirk took the stairs two at a time, then paused to compose himself before he entered the bedroom.

Spock looked at him apologetically. "Jim, you should not permit me to impose upon you. It is natural that you should wish to spend some time with Dr. McCoy. I accept that."

"You don't impose, normally," Kirk told him, sitting down on the bed and taking Spock's hand. "Besides, I want to be with you. I only went down to tell Bones... how things are."

"Was that necessary, so soon?"

"You know it was." Kirk's free hand lifted Spock's chin, forcing the reluctant dark eyes to meet his. "A doctor must be on hand, and right now there are no Vulcan healers available. Bones will work things out for us. He's already said he'll make some excuse to the Council tomorrow so I can stay with you."

Spock shivered, although the temperature in the room was close to Vulcan norm. Kirk wrapped his arms around the slim body and drew Spock close.

"Cold?" he asked.

Spock shook his head. "No. Afraid..."

Kirk tightened his grip. "Please don't be. We've been through this once already, remember?"

"And you were hurt!"

"A few bruises, a little bleeding... By the time we got back to the ship even Bones couldn't tell anything had happened."

"Nevertheless, I caused you pain."

"A little, in the beginning," Kirk admitted, knowing that it was useless - and cruel - to lie. "But afterwards... Spock, there was so much pleasure..."

"Truly, you amaze me."

Kirk only smiled and whispered, "Would you like to sleep now?"

At Spock's nod Kirk slid onto the bed, lying back with the Vulcan's head pillowed on his shoulder. His hands slid in long soothing strokes over the lean back. Spock murmured contentedly and unfastened Kirk's shirt, then he wriggled closer, pressing his cheek to the cool, smooth skin.

Gradually Kirk's hands drifted upwards until he was stroking the silky hair. He just lay there, enjoying the feeling of Spock's warm weight in his arms. It was a peculiarity of the condition that just before the onset of pon farr Spock seemed to lose all sexual desire, as though his body was preparing itself for the intensity of the much-dreaded Time of Mating. In exchange, however, came an almost desperate hunger for closeness, for contact, for the reassuring touch of Kirk's hand. These the Human gave unreservedly, subduing his own desires in the face of Spock's need for tenderness.

Soon, he thought, the fires would begin to build. Spock's blood would burn, and there would be time for nothing save the slaking of an almost unquenchable passion. At the thought, Kirk's breathing grew harsh with anticipation.


+++++



McCoy returned the following day grinning with satisfaction. "I've fixed it for you, Jim. Told the Council you and Spock have been overdoing things lately, and that I prescribed a week's rest for you both. They were very understanding - agreed to suspend the talks for a week. Then I spoke to the Health Minister and fixed up a conference with the leading men in the various fields of medicine. That'll keep me out of your hair, and since I've arranged to sleep at the hospital during the conference, you and Spock can have the house to yourselves. When you need me, just call. I can be here in half an hour."

"Bones, that's terrific!" Kirk exclaimed.

"Just one thing - call me right away once it's over, huh? I don't want to worry any longer than I have to."


+++++



Two days later, as McCoy sat over breakfast, Kirk joined him at the table. He silently poured coffee for both of them, then sat sipping his own, deep in thought. At last he looked up.

"Bones - don't come back tonight."

"Okay, Jim." With an effort McCoy kept the anxiety out of his voice. "Are you ready?"

"Almost. I'll be finished before he wakes up. Don't worry about me - I'll be fine."

"You sound confident enough," McCoy admitted.

"I am. Sure, I was scared the first time, but I did everything Suran told me, and there were no problems. Now that I know exactly what to expect, I'm not even nervous."

"Suran?"

"The Vulcan healer who prepared me for pon farr. Vulcans don't talk about it, as you know, but they do prepare their children - they're not just flung in at the deep end. Poor Suran was a bit stunned when he realised he had to instruct a Human male."

"I can imagine," McCoy said dryly.

"Well, I got the same instruction any Vulcan gets, although he had to call in his wife T'Rena to fill in a few of the... uh... gaps. This time I'm going into it knowing exactly what will happen, and knowing that I can cope."

"I'm still going to worry until it's over," McCoy said gruffly as he stood up.

"Somehow I thought you would. 'Bye, Bones."

"Goodbye, Jim - and good luck."

Kirk locked the door behind McCoy and returned upstairs to check the room he had prepared. The heating was set at normal Human level; in his condition Spock wouldn't notice the temperature, and Kirk knew he himself would function better if he was physically comfortable.

The bed was ready, and the table beside it held a large jug of water and a flask of the Vulcan wine Kirk knew would sustain Spock. The Vulcan would eat nothing until the fever had passed, but there were food concentrates for Kirk. The bathroom that led off the bedroom was ready too, with clean towels and a basic first-aid kit at hand.

Satisfied with his arrangements Kirk stripped and showered, prepared himself, then dressed in a loose robe. Returning to the bedroom he drew the curtains and lit the lamps to give the soft light that would not irritate Spock's eyes. Finally he placed his communicator on the table beside the bed. Everything was ready.


+++++



Panting and shivering, Spock awoke from a heavy sleep to reach out for his bondmate, and found himself alone. His hands clenched as he fought the temptation to go in search of Kirk. The Time was very close now, and he clung desperately to his ragged control.

His cycle seemed to have stabilized at three years, but perhaps in compensation the actual pon farr was of shorter duration. Last time it had only been three days, rather than the normal five. That, at least, made things easier for his bondmate.

Easier! Spock shuddered as he remembered the aftermath of that first time, when the fires in his mind had flickered out and he had looked down at Kirk's bruised, exhausted body. The hazel eyes had smiled in reassurance, but Spock knew what he had done. The intervention of a healer had been necessary, and the marks had taken days to fade.

This time it would be McCoy who would witness the proof of his uncontrollable lust. The surgeon, who thought of Jim almost as a son, would surely find it impossible to forgive the man who had harmed him.

If only he had more control! Pride and shame filled him as he remembered the day Kirk had tricked him into confessing his love. It had seemed to him that the truth was the only way to convince Kirk that his sudden withdrawal was not the Human's fault, but he had been prepared for contempt at the admission. Instead Kirk had laughed in triumph, and made his almost unbelievable offer. He wanted to bond with Spock.

The Vulcan had hesitated, and that had been his undoing as Kirk came into his arms, offering himself to the meld. Helpless to refuse, Spock had taken the willing mind, and in doing so had bound Kirk to him beyond any hope of severance.

The rest had followed automatically: the formal bonding; the pon farr; later the unimagined pleasure he had found in Kirk's arms. Between bondmates there could be no pretence. Kirk had passed beyond the Vulcan facade to seek out the shy, lonely Human dwelling deep within, aching for tenderness, for love, but terrified to reach out for it. Gently, Kirk had reached for that bewildered child, cherished him, loved him, and in the years since their bonding had taught him to grow into the adult he was meant to be.

And all this without destroying the Vulcan. Possibly Kirk, in all the galaxy, was the only one who could have done it. His experience with his own 'wolf' had taught him the necessity of integrating both halves of Spock's divided nature, and he had loved them both - the cool, controlled Vulcan and the passionate Human.

There had, of course, been some initial difficulties as two strong-willed men learned to blend their lives into one. In public Spock was as reserved as he had always been, but when alone with Kirk he could now laugh and enjoy teasing his bondmate in unashamed intimacy.

Sexually, they fitted better than either had dared to hope. Kirk tended to be the more dominant, for it was his nature; and nothing pleased Spock more than to please him. During the Time of Mating, however, Kirk had the grace to be totally submissive, the compliant, willing and responsive partner who could turn the dreaded Time into a thing of beauty.

Unbidden, Spock's mind filled with the image of Kirk as he had been that last time, trembling in his arms, begging hoarsely for release, and the fire burned fiercely in the Vulcan's veins. He rose from the bed, consumed with the longing to be close, to touch, to possess. He turned to the door as instinct guided him. It was Time.

There was no hesitation, no uncertainty, for the bond drew him. Spock moved without volition, knowing only that sanctuary awaited him if he could reach it. Sanctuary, yes - and pleasure, he remembered, a pleasure that would...

The door did not open as he approached, and he grunted in annoyance, forgetting that the handle should be turned. He set his hands against the wood and pushed, tearing out the catch so that he could step inside. Disregarded, the door swung shut behind him.

The dim light was soothing, and the whole room was filled with the rich, distinctive scent of his bondmate. Spock breathed deeply, desire building in him as he absorbed the scent, individual as a fingerprint, intoxicating as Kalana wine. He growled deep in his throat, his hands clenching in anticipation.

And Kirk was there, his golden eyes calm and unafraid as he came quickly forward to take the groping hands in his, stilling their trembling. Spock pressed as close as he could to the cool solidity of the Human's body, seeking the reassurance that he was welcome.

Kirk moved, sliding his arms around the Vulcan's back, holding him firmly. He reached up and rubbed his cheek against Spock's. "It's all right, love," he murmured. "You're here with me. You're safe."

The soft whisper reached Spock's clouded mind, and gradually the fear faded from his eyes. "Jim..." he whispered unsteadily. "The Time... it is the Time... and I burn..."

"I know, love. I know." Kirk's voice was soft, soothing. "Don't be afraid. I'm here. Remember the last time, Spock, how it was. Remember the pleasure. No pain, no fear, I promise you. Only love, Spock. Only love."

As he spoke Kirk was drawing the Vulcan with him towards the bed. He eased him down gently, then released him for a moment to shrug off the robe he was wearing, allowing it to fall to the floor.

Spock lay looking up at him, drinking in the sight of the smooth body, aching to feel the cool flesh under his hands. He gasped as Kirk bent down and brushed his lips in a swift kiss; then the Human took Spock's hand in his and guided it to his face.

"Open the link, Spock. Take my mind - see how I want you."

The slim fingers moved carefully into position and Kirk's love filled his mind, calming the last of his fear. He had forgotten that last time Kirk had found pleasure in the total submission demanded of him. It was so unlike his lover to permit any erosion of his self-command, yet so like him that he could give himself totally.

"Jim... t'hy'la..." The touch became a caress. "Truly, you are a marvel."

Kirk smiled, and bent again to the curving lips. "This is for you," he told his bondmate. "For you, because I love you - and because I want it too."

Deliberately Kirk ran his hand down over the Vulcan's body to curl his fingers around the throbbing column that strained to his touch. Aware that Spock needed no stimulation he raised himself up to kneel astride the Vulcan's legs, then carefully lowered himself onto the rigid shaft.

"Lie still," he ordered as Spock instinctively began to thrust upwards. The Vulcan obeyed. Kirk moved carefully, leaning forward until his lips rested on Spock's. His tongue probed, a cool flame inserting itself into the Vulcan's mouth to lick caressingly at the moist inner surface.

Spock entwined his hands in the Human's hair, holding his head still so that he could suck at the invading tongue. Kirk laughed huskily, and deliberately tightened his anal muscles around the rigid flesh that filled him. Spock bore the delicious torture as long as he could while Kirk tensed then relaxed his muscles in no discernable rhythm; then, capable of enduring no more, he released the Human's head, caught hold of his hips, and began to thrust, plunging deep into the cool body.

Kirk groaned in pleasure, his head flung back as he forced himself down to meet the welcome invader. He took Spock's hand and pressed it to his groin, silently demanding the skilled masturbation his lover could provide. As they swayed together Kirk's head fell forward and their eyes met, each mirroring the other's joy in their shared pleasure.

Spock laughed aloud in triumph and thrust harder, deeper, bringing them both to an impossible peak of rapture, holding them there for a frozen moment of eternity until the sticky flood of Kirk's ejaculation in his hand triggered his own climax and his semen filled the Human's body with its heat.

For a moment they clung together, each knowing that this was only the beginning; then Spock rolled away, urging Kirk to his knees. Positioning himself behind the Human he parted the buttocks, exploring the narrow opening with urgently seeking fingers.

"Indeed, I have chosen a sorcerer as mate," he whispered hoarsely. "Only you, t'hy'la, could make the pon farr a thing to enjoy."

Kirk twisted around to kiss him, then resumed his submissive position, pressing himself backwards into the eager hands.

"Don't you know I've longed for this?" he demanded. "Spock, I want you inside me. Come and fill me."

"I am here," the Vulcan answered.


+++++



The next three days were the longest of Leonard McCoy's life. Somehow it hadn't seemed so bad last time, when they were on Vulcan under the care of healers who knew what must be done. There would even have been some help for Jim had it been necessary, for some of the healers could adjust their mental signals in such a way that they could approach a male at the height of pon farr without any risk of arousing his aggressive instincts.

Now, on Haldure, Jim was beyond any help. While the frenzy lasted Spock would see any intervention as a challenge. The Human had only his own strength to rely on. And his love.

During the day McCoy could bury himself in his work, but at night, as he lay in the small room set aside for him at the hospital, he had no such distractions. He had never seriously believed all the rec room gossip about Vulcans, but the little he did know was frightening enough as he pictured Jim exhausted, frightened, struggling in Spock's arms. Sanity told him it wouldn't be like that - Jim had strength and enough confidence in himself as a man to give the total submission that was needed - but the demons of imagination haunted him. Comparatively, Human flesh was so fragile, Human bones so delicate... Jim could be in pain, bleeding - he could be dying. And if he did, so would...

For the thousandth time the Doctor lifted the silent communicator, fighting down the urge to call, to reassure himself with the sound of Kirk's voice; then, reluctantly, he put it down. Kirk was no telepath; it would require all his concentration to hold Spock's mind to sanity during the ravages of pon farr. What little he could spare would be intent of remaining alert to satisfy the Vulcan's physical demands. An interruption at the wrong moment could be dangerous.

On the afternoon of the third day McCoy was sitting in conference with Surgeon Brand and Dr. Rossen, surgical and medical chiefs of the hospital, when his communicator bleeped. With a word of apology to the two Haldurans, who moved discreetly out of earshot, he opened it.

"McCoy here."

"Bones, I need you."

"I'm on my way. Be with you soon, Jim."

Returning his communicator to his belt, McCoy rose to his fee. "Gentlemen, please forgive me. I must go to Captain Kirk."

"I hope nothing is seriously wrong, Dr. McCoy?" Dr. Rossen looked concerned. "Can I be of any assistance?"

"I'll check it out first and let you know. Could you order a private room prepared, just in case?"

"Of course. Take my car - it's faster. I'll walk down with you."

"Thank you."

The surgeon left them in the corridor, and the two physicians headed for the escalator down to the hospital parking lot. McCoy, a little in the lead, failed to notice a loose tile in the floor. He tripped, and as he fought to keep from plunging down the stairwell his head struck heavily against the metal handrail.

Dr. Rossen was at his side in an instant. To his relief he saw that the Human, although unconscious, did not seem to be seriously hurt. A nurse was already hurrying from her station, and the Halduran snapped out swift orders.

"Call the duty physician and have him check Dr. McCoy for concussion. I'll take his call myself; he was on his way to attend to Captain Kirk. Have a nurse meet me at my car with an emergency kit."

Leaving McCoy to the care of his staff, Rossen hurried down to the parking lot. The nurse joined him within moments, and as he began to drive off a Security car moved up alongside him

Signalling it to halt, Rossen leaned out the window. "Clear the traffic for me - this is an emergency. Do you know where the Federation officers are living?"

"Yes, Doctor."

"Then hurry, man!"

Siren wailing, the Security car cleared a path through the city traffic. Rossen braked to a halt outside the house and started up the steps. "One of you, come with me!" he snapped. "I might need you to radio for an ambulance."

The front door was locked, and no-one answered his urgent knocking. Rossen turned to the Security officer. "Break it down."

Once inside he hesitated for a moment. "Split up and search. Nurse, try upstairs."

The room Rossen looked into was empty, as was the kitchen. He was just heading for the stairs when the nurse called, "Doctor!" Her voice was shaky.

Wondering what could have so horrified one of his most reliable nurses, Rossen ran upstairs, followed by the Security officer.

"In here!" The nurse indicated a door - with some surprise Rossen observed the broken panel - and he walked in, only to halt and stare in stunned disbelief.

The Human was lying face down on the bed, naked, his back and arms scratched and bleeding. His legs were spread wide apart; his buttocks glistened with a mixture of blood and semen. The Vulcan lay sprawled across his back, the sharp teeth still buried deep in one smooth, tanned shoulder.

Almost shaking with revulsion, Rossen fumbled in his emergency kit. The Vulcan seemed unconscious or asleep, but it would be wiser to ensure that he was rendered totally harmless before any attempt was made to aid his victim. Rossen selected a hypodermic and inserted the needle into the Vulcan's arm, depressing the plunger to its fullest extent.

After a few moments he managed to pull the alien away from the Human, and ignoring the Vulcan, gently rolled Kirk over onto his back. The terrible signs of abuse were repeated. Kirk's chest and belly were clawed and bleeding, his lips bruised, and a line of bites laid a scarlet trail from his throat down to his swollen nipples.

He, too, would have to be sedated. As he prepared another hypo Rossen automatically took in further details, reconstructing in his mind what must have happened here.

Even allowing for the differences in the two aliens, this must be rape, impossible as it seemed. The bed was soaking wet; an empty water bottle lay on the pillow. Kirk must have taken his assailant off guard and stunned him. He had then managed to call for help, but had dropped his communicator, which lay beside his hand. Presumably he had then passed out from the pain.

As Rossen leaned over the bed Kirk's eyes flickered open. "Spock?"

"It's all right, Captain - you're safe," Rossen replied reassuringly.

The glazed eyes struggled to focus. "Where's... Bones?"

"Dr. McCoy had a slight accident. He's not hurt, but he couldn't answer your call. I'm Dr. Rossen."

Kirk didn't seem to hear. "Spock... I must..." He struggled to rise, and Rossen pushed him back.

"Take it easy," he advised as he slid the needle into Kirk's arm. He watched with satisfaction as the panic-stricken eyes closed.

"Officer!" he snapped. "Call your partner and remove that... that animal. Hold him in strict confinement. The charge will be rape."

He waited until the two Security officers had bundled Spock's unconscious body into a blanket and carried him out, then turned to the nurse. "Call an ambulance," he directed, "and have the surgery prepared."


+++++



McCoy regained consciousness to find a nurse smiling down at him. Wincing, he struggled to sit up, gratefully accepting her support. "I've got to get up," he said distractedly. "Captain Kirk is -"

"Dr. Rossen answered the call, Doctor," the nurse answered. "He told me to tell you as soon as you woke up."

"He did WHAT?" McCoy roared. He swung his legs over the side of the bed, despite the nurse's protests. "Get Rossen in here at once! Move!"

Instinctively responding to the authority in his voice, she obeyed. When Rossen hurried in a few minutes later McCoy was dressed and just pulling on his boots.

"Where's Captain Kirk?" he demanded.

"He's resting quietly, Doctor, in the next room. Would you like to see him?"

"I would," McCoy grunted. He followed the Halduran into the next room, where Kirk lay quietly asleep on the hospital bed. Taking out his scanner McCoy passed it over the motionless figure. He frowned at some of the readings. "What have you done to him?"

"Heavy sedation, Dr. McCoy. In addition to his... injuries... the Captain has a slight fever common on this world. It's not serious, but in his condition it would be very weakening. As you know, we often use deep sedation to assist the healing process. It seemed the wisest course in this case. The physical injuries aren't as severe as we first feared. He's in no danger."

"I'm grateful to you, Dr. Rossen. Now, where's Spock?"

There was no answer, and McCoy felt a sudden surge of anxiety. "Where's Spock?" he repeated sharply.

"The Vulcan is in custody," Rossen answered at last, nervously. "His trial will be..."

"Custody? Trial? What the hell are you talking about, man?"

"I assume Captain Kirk was unable to tell you the reason for his call. I assure you, the evidence was damning, Doctor. The Vulcan committed a violent sexual assault on the Captain."

"What?" McCoy sat down abruptly on the chair beside Kirk's bed. "No - you've got it wrong."

"I assure you, there can be no mistake. Two Security officers and a nurse also witnessed the circumstances. It's difficult, I'm sure, for you to accept, but there is no doubt - the Vulcan is guilty of rape. The hearing will be tomorrow."

"No." McCoy was thinking furiously, wondering how best to explain. "Will the Captain be present?" he asked.

"There's no need to put him through such an ordeal; the physical evidence is clear. Besides, he won't wake up until it's over."

"Postpone the hearing, then," McCoy urged. "The Captain has a right to be heard; he's the only one who knows what happened. It could be a mistake."

"There's no mistake, and it's not desirable to postpone the hearing. It's our law that any accused is judged as soon as possible. We've found this to be more just to the innocent."

McCoy hesitated, wondering if he should reveal the truth. He simply didn't know enough about the Halduran attitude to homosexuality to decide. He could wreck the talks if he made the wrong choice. Perhaps Spock could advise him.

"I'd like to see Commander Spock," he said firmly. "He's my patient too, and a fellow officer."

"It would be best if you did," Rossen said, relief in his voice. "The prison doctor reports that he appears to be in an abnormal condition, and we haven't dared to try to treat him. Terrans and Haldurans have many similarities, but the Commander is of a type unknown to us."

"Let's go," McCoy muttered.


+++++



Spock was indeed in an abnormal condition, McCoy agreed when he entered the small prison hospital where Spock was confined. The Vulcan was neither awake nor in a trance, but seemingly suspended between the two states. He obeyed orders, but showed no awareness of his surroundings.

McCoy knew enough to realise what was wrong. The pon farr meld had not been broken, and linked as he was to Kirk's sedated mind, the Vulcan was only semi-conscious. What McCoy didn't know - and frankly, he was afraid to experiment - was how to awaken him. M'Benga might have had some idea, but he was on extended leave and there was no way to contact him in time.

"What exactly will happen to him?" McCoy asked worriedly.

"As I said, the hearing will be tomorrow. Commander Spock will remain in custody until his guilt is formally declared. He will then serve the sentence imposed by the Council."

"I see. Look, I'd better report back to the ship. Mr. Scott is in command now, and he'll need to be informed. I presume there will be no objection to my attending the hearing?"

"Of course not. You'll want to assure yourself that justice is done. Will you take Captain Kirk with you?"

"I don't think so. He's receiving first-class treatment here. No point in disturbing him."

"We're honoured by your confidence. It's unfortunate, Doctor, that this distressing incident has marred your visit here."

"It is indeed," McCoy agreed as he pulled out his communicator.


+++++



On the Enterprise a worried McCoy conferred with Scott. "I've had a look at the reports," he said, "and the sociologists all agree that the Haldurans are likely to regard a homosexual relationship as even more perverted than rape. They could even break off negotiations."

"And Starfleet Command wouldna' like that," Scotty answered. "They want this planet in the Federation."

"So we throw Spock to the wolves?"

"No' much else we can do, Leonard. The Captain agreed tae abide by their laws. But they're no' wolves - they struck me as being a verra civilised people. Why no' appeal tae the Council? They'd maybe agree tae Spock bein' returned tae us when we leave. Tell them he'll answer for any crime he's committed by our laws. They're no' tae ken he hasna' broken any."

"Jim's not going to like it," McCoy said doubtfully.

"He'll do what he must tae ensure the success of the mission. After all, what harm can it do? We'll be through here soon, so all Spock'll face is a short imprisonment. They canna' put him tae work until he's fit."

"That's true." McCoy had been worried as to what punishment the Haldurans might impose, but the sociologists had assured him that convicted offenders were set to hard labour in the fields or mines. He had greatly feared that so strict a planet might invoke the death penalty, but it seemed that they held life - all life - in great reverence. Strict the Haldurans might be; cruel they were not. The prison where Spock was confined was stark but habitable, and McCoy had seen for himself that the Vulcan was being given every care in the prison hospital.

Beaming back down, McCoy spent the remainder of the night at Kirk's bedside, apart from a fleeting visit to check on Spock. He was satisfied with the condition of both men. Kirk's fever was abating slowly but steadily, the normal course of the illness as Dr. Rossen assured him. Spock was still half in a trance, as he had expected. He would not wake from it until Kirk was rational.


+++++



In the morning Dr. Rossen came to conduct McCoy to the hearing. McCoy, who had expected the formality of a public trial, was pleasantly surprised to find it conducted along the lines of a discussion group.

Chief Councilman Brinden and two of his colleagues sat around a table with the witnesses - Dr. Rossen, the nurse, and the two Security officers - and listened carefully to the account each gave of the events they had witnessed. Dr. Rossen's evidence in particular shocked them.

"I formed the conclusion," the doctor finished, "that despite his resistance, Captain Kirk was overcome. He was then subjected to a violent and repeated sexual assault. Penetration and ejaculation were achieved many times. Councillors, I have never encountered nor heard of such a violent rape."

"But... male to male?" Councilwoman Pourbon looked bewildered. "Such a thing is impossible. Surely there must be some mistake?"

"On the evidence, I'm afraid not," Chief Councilman Brinden said gravely. "Remember, these are aliens. There may perhaps be some reason for the assault, some flaw in the Vulcan's mind we are not able to understand. However, the law is plain. Rape has been proved, and judgement will be passed accordingly. I suggest the maximum penalty. Do you agree?"

As the two Haldurans nodded agreement, McCoy rose. "I ask to be heard."

"Speak, Doctor."

"We have shown our good faith by submitting Commander Spock for judgement. I ask that when we leave he be permitted to go with us. He will be punished by his own people for any crime he has committed."

The Councillors conferred, and Brinden gave their decision. "We grant your request."

"I also ask permission to treat Commander Spock during his imprisonment."

"That, too, is granted. To deprive even a criminal of proper treatment would be barbaric. I will give orders that you have free access to the Commander at all times."

"Thank you." McCoy turned to leave. "I'd better be getting back to Captain Kirk now."


+++++



Over the next twenty-four hours Kirk's condition improved markedly, but Spock's remained unchanged. McCoy arranged with the prison doctor to fit up a monitor over his bed so that information could be relayed to his tricorder. Realizing that in Spock's condition the less he interfered the better, the only other action McCoy took was to arrange for the necessary injections. Although the Halduran doctor quickly mastered the use of the hypospray, McCoy checked on the Vulcan every two hours.

At last Kirk showed signs of waking. McCoy dismissed the nurse, uncertain of what Kirk might reveal in his first moments of consciousness. He leaned over the bed and touched his friend's shoulder gently.

"Jim, wake up. It's all over."

Kirk's lips curved in a smile of contentment and he moved his head on the pillow to rub his cheek against McCoy's hand. "Spock... th'a'vano..." he murmured.

Feeling slightly embarrassed, McCoy pulled his hand away. "Jim, it's me - McCoy," he said gruffly. "Come on, wake up before you say something you'll be sorry for."

Kirk's eyes flew open and he coloured faintly. "Sorry, Bones - I thought..."

"I can imagine what you thought. How do you feel?"

"Just great." Kirk stretched luxuriously, then his eyes narrowed as he realised the strangeness of the room. He looked around, registered the empty space beside him, and turned back to McCoy. "Where's Spock?"

"Jim..."

"Something's wrong. I can feel it." Kirk started to sit up, and McCoy gave him a hand. "What's happened? Where is he?"

"Please listen, Jim. He's all right, I promise you, but we've got to talk before you do anything else."

"I'm listening." Kirk's tone was curt, and looking at him, the doctor was irresistibly reminded of some half-wild animal poised to defend its mate.

McCoy quickly outlined the events of the last few days, and explained the decisions he had reached. "He won't come to any harm, Jim," he finished, "and the Haldurans have promised to let him come with us when we leave. I can easily find a reason to keep him in the main prison until then."

Kirk's eyes were dark with anger. "How could you let it happen?" he demanded. "I trusted you, and you let us down. You know what a private person he is - and you let strangers see him like that!"

"Jim, I'm sorry. There was nothing I could do. I had a stupid accident and knocked myself out. When I came round it was all over. Dr. Rossen had answered your call, and it was he who accused Spock. I couldn't risk explaining."

"I'm sorry, Bones - that was unfair of me." Kirk caught his friend's hand. "It's just... I'm so worried about him."

"I know." McCoy rose and pushed Kirk back onto the bed. "Just get some rest. I'll go see him now and make sure he's all right."

"Thanks. Tell him... tell him I'll see him as soon as you let me out of here."

"That might not be wise," McCoy warned.

Kirk simply glared, and McCoy threw up his hands in defeat. "I'll tell him," he said resignedly.


+++++



At the prison, McCoy found that Spock had emerged from his semi-trance. The Vulcan was lying on top of the narrow bed, his eyes closed, and he showed no reaction as the doctor entered.

"Spock? You all right?"

"How is the Captain?"

"Jim's just fine - not a thing wrong with him."

"Then his illness...?"

"Nothing to do with pon farr," the doctor assured him. "A mild fever common on Haldure. Apart from that he's completely unharmed."

"I am gratified to hear it." Spock opened his eyes at last and sat up. "I would also be grateful for an explanation, Doctor. Why am I here?"

McCoy repeated the explanation he had given Kirk, and the Vulcan nodded approval. "You acted wisely. Until we know how the Haldurans would regard a relationship such as ours, it is best that we do not antagonize them. This planet will be of great benefit to the Federation."

"Jim said to tell you he'll come and see you as soon as possible."

"I do not advise it."

"I told him that, but he wouldn't listen. He wants to see you."

"And I him. However, after a few hours of meditation to clear my mind, I will be able to reach him through our link. Ask him to be ready. He will know what to do."

"Right. As for you, Spock, the prison governor says that since we'll be leaving very soon you won't be put to work. Is there anything you need?"

"No, thank you. The privacy and isolation here will afford me the opportunity to regain full control. I need no distractions."

"Okay, if you're sure. I'll look in on you every day, though. We'll soon be back on the Enterprise."

"I anticipate that with pleasure," the Vulcan confessed softly.


+++++



The following day Kirk was fit enough to resume talks with the Council of Haldure. McCoy, keeping an anxious eye on him, was satisfied that the restoration of the normal bond-link had been accomplished without difficulty, thus soothing the last of Kirk's tension. As for Spock, McCoy's own observations and Kirk's confirmation of them indicated that the Vulcan's metabolism was returning to normal after the imbalance caused by pon farr.

For three days all went well. McCoy completed his talks with the medical authorities, then rejoined Kirk for the final discussions with the representatives of the Halduran Council. Both sides were satisfied with what had been achieved, and the final session was simply a review of the agreement that would be presented to the Federation and the Halduran people for approval. By chance, the representatives that day were the same three Councillors who had presided over Spock's hearing.

"We have a lot to thank you for, Captain Kirk," Chief Councilman Brinden said. "Doctors Rossen and Brand report that the medical knowledge alone will benefit our people. As for the scientific and technical advances you offer us - why, Councilwoman Pourbon believes that we can eliminate any risk of crop failure within two years, and the desert regions of our world will become a garden."

Kirk smiled. "We have a lot to give, but also much to gain, Chief Councilman. Your contributions to the... to the..." He stopped, frowned as though confused, and continued hesitantly, "... to the sum of... of knowledge is... is..." He broke off again and raised his hands to his head, slumping back in his seat.

"Jim, what's wrong?" McCoy was at his side instantly, reaching for his scanner.

"Captain, are you unwell? Do you want to postpone the session?" Councilman Brinden leaned forward anxiously.

"Not ill..." Kirk managed, "but... something's wrong... Spock!" Pushing McCoy's hand away he jumped to his feet and looked around wildly. "The link is barred to me... Something's wrong! They're hurting Spock, and he's trying to shield me... Bones, what is it? What are they doing to him?"

"Jim, sit down." McCoy pushed Kirk into a chair. "Councilman Brinden, what's happening to Commander Spock?"

"There's no danger," the Chief Councilman said reassuringly. "Your concern, though surprising, is admirable, Captain."

"What's happening to him?" Kirk gripped the arms of his chair and leaned forward, white-faced. "Don't let them hurt him!"

"Since you'll be leaving us soon the remainder of the sentence on Commander Spock is being carried out now to allow him time to recover. Surgeon Brand himself is..."

"Sentence? Recover? Surgeon?" Kirk's voice took on a note of fear. "What are you talking about?"

The Councillors exchanged glances. "Weren't you informed? Dear me, a serious oversight. You should have been told," Brinden said.

"Told what?" Kirk's voice was dangerous.

"It is our law. We are concerned that a convicted rapist should not be able to repeat his crimes. To that end, they are all castrated."

"No!" Kirk surged out of his chair and lunged forward; McCoy's arm restrained him with difficulty. "You can't... Don't... You must stop it!"

McCoy shoved the struggling Kirk back into his chair and pressed a hypo to his shoulder. Without waiting to observe its effect he swung round to face the Councillors.

"Stop it!" he commanded. "There's something you must know, but rescind the order before it's too late."

"But the law..." Councilwoman Pourbon began.

"A little delay can do no harm," Brinden said, responding to the appeal in McCoy's eyes. Leaning forward he spoke into the intercom, then looked at Kirk. "I have given orders that Commander Spock be brought here, Captain. It is clear that something has been kept from us, and justice demands that all the facts be known."

"Thank you," Kirk said quietly, his composure restored by the mild sedative McCoy had given him - the after effects of pon farr were not wholly dissipated. "We have lied to you. It was my fault, and the blame is mine alone."

"We will hear you before we speak of blame," Brinden replied. "You may tell us."

"I did it because I didn't want a... personal matter... to mar an agreement between our peoples," Kirk said tiredly. "Perhaps I was wrong... I don't know any longer."

"We can't judge until we know the facts," Brinden reminded him.

"Of course. The first thing you must understand is that Commander Spock didn't... didn't rape me."

"But the medical evidence!" Councilwoman Pourbon broke in.

"I know that's how it looked, but what you don't know is that Vulcans - Spock's people - have a... an unusual sexual drive. At periodic intervals they must mate, or they'll die."

"Ah, I begin to understand!" Brinden exclaimed. "The need was upon him, and you were close by. To save his life, you consented."

Kirk shook his head. "I'm tempted to say yes, but it wouldn't be true, and we've told enough lies to your people. You see, not just any partner will do; Vulcans mate for life in a physical and mental union. You did know they are touch telepaths?"

At Brinden's nod he continued, "What you must understand is that to a Vulcan, the mental compatibility is the important factor, so the mate can be of either sex. A few years ago Spock and I realised that we shared that compatibility. We became bonded according to the customs of his world. It was not only my duty, but also my pleasure and my wish to serve his need."

Kirk stood and paced the room. "We wouldn't have broken your laws willingly, but this time is... difficult... for a Vulcan. They can become somewhat irrational. Spock was reluctant to return to the ship, and there was no time for us to go elsewhere. We did the best we could. Unfortunately Dr. McCoy's accident meant that Dr. Rossen became involved."

Halting, he turned to face Brinden. "If I've broken your laws, punish me; but you can't do this to Spock. He's innocent."

The three Haldurans conferred agitatedly, but Kirk had no eyes for them. The door opened and two Security officers entered, escorting Spock. The Vulcan looked composed, but very pale.

Chief Councilman Brinden broke the sudden silence. "You may go," he told the Security men.

As the door closed behind them Kirk moved forward until he was facing Spock. "Are you all right?" he demanded.

"I am unharmed." The Vulcan extended his hand and Kirk touched his fingers in greeting.

"Spock, they were going to... to..."

"So I was informed. I attempted to block the knowledge from you, but I was clumsy; my control is not yet fully restored."

"Thank god for that!" Kirk retorted. Drawing Spock with him, he returned to the Council table.

"Chief Councilman Brinden, I admit that I attempted to deceive you," Kirk began. "I ask only that you don't punish Spock for what was my fault, nor hold it against my people."

"I wish to point out," Spock said carefully, "that I share any guilt that may lie with Captain Kirk. In fact, the greater fault is mine - he merely responded to my need. Moreover, the decision to deceive you was mine, not his. If there is to be punishment, let it fall on me."

"I won't let you..." McCoy began, but Chief Councilman Brinden raised a hand, silencing him.

"Gentlemen, we understand the reason for the deception, and we will not pursue that subject. It is closed. You were confused and unsure; this we can forgive. Nevertheless, our law has been broken, and we must determine to what degree." He turned to the third Halduran, who had not yet spoken. "Councilman Davran, as our interpreter of law, what can you tell us?"

Davran shifted in his seat. "There was certainly no rape," he said positively. "Therefore the sentence of castration must be rescinded. However, there are other offences to be considered. The Captain admitted that a sexual relationship exists and is practiced between two males. And of course there is a sexual relationship outside marriage. Let me see, was there anything else...? No... both partners are clearly above the age of consent... Hmm, and although Dr. Rossen was confronted with the... ah... aftermath, that was simply chance. There was no intent to involve him. And the offences took place within a private dwelling. Two charges only, Councillors, but both grave."

During Davran's speech something had been niggling at the back of McCoy's mind, something that he sensed was vitally important. He frowned, trying to remember. Something to do with the hearing of the rape charge against Spock...

He looked around, hoping for inspiration. Kirk and Spock were standing together, hands still lightly touching; Councilman Davran was conferring in a low tone with Brinden, while Councilwoman Pourbon listened intently. She asked a question as Brinden leaned towards her, then nodded reluctantly.

"Captain Kirk, Commander Spock..." Brinden raised his voice and the Starfleet men looked up expectantly. "There has indeed been a violation of our law, a law you swore to observe. That being so..."

"Wait!" McCoy jumped to his feet, his eyes alight with memory. "I think I can prove that the Captain and the Commander haven't broken any laws."

"I don't see how," Brinden said doubtfully.

"Let me try; you can correct me if I go wrong. There are actually two charges, aren't there? Repeat them, please."

"The first charge is a sexual contact between persons not legally married," Davran said.

"Not legally married... but what is the definition of legal marriage? You are now aware that the Federation has many planets, each with its own laws and customs; just as your laws will be respected for your people, you will be required to accept the laws of Vulcan, say, as valid for its citizens."

"Indeed," all three Councillors agreed.

"And male-to-male bonding is accepted on Vulcan. It's legally regarded as equal to a marriage. Moreover, it's a union such as your laws would most approve - it's totally exclusive, and for life."

"Male marriage is accepted?" Councilwoman Pourbon asked faintly. "Truly?"

"It is accepted," McCoy confirmed.

"Hmm, we have an interesting legal problem, then," Councilman Davran mused. "A legal marriage exists - but sex between males is utterly forbidden on Haldure."

"Is it?" McCoy's voice was suddenly intent. "Forgive me, Councillors; Councillor Davran, as interpreter of law, can you quote me the exact wording?"

"I... uh... No, I confess I can't. Is it important?"

"It is vital."

Davran rose from the table. "Then I will consult my records. Please excuse me."

"We will await your report," Brinden agreed.

Nervously, McCoy sat down. He was aware that Kirk was watching him, but he dared not meet his friend's eyes. Spock stood quietly, only his nearness to Kirk betraying his concern.

Afterwards, no-one was quite sure how long they had waited before the door opened again to admit Davran. The Halduran took his seat, and Brinden turned to him.

"Well, Councilman? Please quote the law."

"I can't." Davran glanced apologetically at his colleagues. "No such prohibition exists."

"What?" Brinden's astonished exclamation was echoed by Pourbon's, "Impossible!"

"It's true," Davran confirmed. "I've searched as far back as our records go. All violations of the moral code are listed, with the appropriate penalties, but there's nothing to forbid sex between males. There never has been."

"But I don't understand..." Brinden's voice trailed off, and he visibly pulled himself together. "However it came about, it is impossible to break a law that doesn't exist. Captain, Commander - we ask your pardon."

Kirk released a long-held breath. "We've all made mistakes over this," he said quietly. "Surely friends can forgive."

At the end of the table Councilwoman Pourbon was chuckling to herself. "Perhaps it's time we revised the Code of Law," she mused. "Who knows what other interesting crimes do not, in fact, exist?" Her eyes twinkled. "Perhaps, Davran, we should ask Captain Kirk to include a legal adviser in the team of experts the Federation sends us. We're more out of date than we knew."


+++++



The Enterprise was three days from Haldure when McCoy buzzed at Kirk's door in response to an invitation from the Captain. The final negotiations with the Council had been completed, and their departure was made with regret and good will on both sides. One day, McCoy hoped, they would return, but it was not certain - there were so many planets they had visited only briefly.

"Bones, come in. Drink?" Kirk greeted him cheerfully.

McCoy accepted with thanks and sank into a chair, nodding a greeting to Spock. Kirk handed him a glass, then sat on the floor at Spock's feet, leaning back against the Vulcan's legs.

"First chance we've had to talk," he began. "Come on, Bones, I'm dying of curiosity. What put you on the right track?"

McCoy chuckled. "Actually, it was Councilwoman Pourbon. At the first hearing, on the rape charge, she said that a sexual relationship between two males was 'impossible'. I thought at the time she simply meant that she couldn't believe it, but I gradually became convinced that she meant exactly what she said. I took a chance when I gambled on the law, but I was right - it didn't exist."

"I do not understand." Spock looked puzzled. "Surely a society with such a strict moral code would have a law forbidding male-to-male sex."

"Of course they would." McCoy chuckled again. "You see, what took me so long to work it out was that I was so busy with the administrative side of things, I hadn't had time to read all the reports thoroughly. Thank god I did have time to scan the Halduran anatomical tapes, though."

"Bones, if you don't stop babbling and explain..." Kirk threatened.

"The Haldurans are humanoid, Jim, but there are certain basic physical differences. You don't want to hear all the intimate details, and I really don't want to go into all the intricacies, but take it from me - a sexual relationship such as you share with Spock is physically impossible between two Halduran males. You don't make a law against something you can't even imagine, do you?"

"Logical," Spock nodded.

"Why, thank you, Spock. Anyway, with that hurdle crossed, the rest was easy. Whatever the... uh... practical differences, a bonding is legally equivalent to marriage. The Haldurans were very impressed with that, by the way - an exclusivity as great as their own, and an even greater commitment. They permit remarriage after a partner's death."

"Thanks to you, no harm was done," Kirk said. "I was wrong; I should have told the truth."

"At the time neither of us was reasoning clearly, Jim," Spock reminded him.

"If it comes to that, the original decision to keep quiet was mine," McCoy pointed out. "However, I've been thinking - next time we might not be as lucky."

"What are you getting at, Bones?"

"Well, I haven't worked it all out yet, but from what you said, if you can do something about it early enough in the cycle Spock is reasonably rational during pon farr, right?"

"That's so," Kirk agreed. Spock nodded.

"Next time, I suggest you move into Sickbay and use one of the isolation wards. That'll give you all the privacy you need. I'll be within call, and you'll be a lot safer on the ship. Also, although you won't be able to leave the ward until it's over, you'll both have access to the intercom and the computers. If an emergency comes up you'll both be on the spot to make any command decisions needed."

"Your suggestion has merit, Doctor," Spock agreed. "We shall consider it - when the time comes."


+++++



The remainder of the evening passed in pleasant conversation as the three friends enjoyed each other's company. McCoy felt totally at ease with them, and was ridiculously pleased that Kirk and Spock were relaxed and open with each other in his presence. There was nothing blatant, but the expression in their eyes was so very revealing to one who knew them well. Their voices had a softness that McCoy had never heard from either before; they even touched occasionally, the contact seeming to set up an almost electric current between them

At last McCoy set down his empty glass and rose with a sigh. "I'd better be going; I'm operating tomorrow." He grinned mischievously. "I suppose I'd be out of order if I offered sleeping pills? Thought so. Goodnight, Jim... Spock."

"Goodnight, McCoy." Spock turned away and gathered up the empty glasses as Kirk escorted McCoy to the door.

"Bones, thanks - for everything," Kirk said.

"Just as long as you're both all right."

"Oh, don't worry - I will be after tonight." Kirk's grin was one of pure lechery. "I've left him alone for a couple of nights, but now it's my turn."

McCoy raised a questioning eyebrow, and Kirk laughed. "There are certain... compensations... for pon farr, you know."

"Jim, really!" McCoy choked back his laughter. Spock's back was to them, but the tips of his ears were bright green. "I'm going before Spock has a fit. 'Night."

"Goodnight, Bones."

Kirk locked the door behind McCoy and turned to meet the slightly accusing gaze of his bondmate.

"Jim, was that necessary?"

Kirk's grin widened. "If Bones hadn't already figured that out for himself, he's not as smart as I thought. Besides, joking about it is one was to set his mind at rest. He worries a lot about us."

"I understand."

Kirk took the glasses from Spock and reached up to plant a quick kiss on his mouth. "I'll finish this; you go and get ready for bed. That's an order, Mister. I want you."


+++++



Spock was already in bed when Kirk, draped only in a towel, came out of the shower. The Vulcan smiled faintly and held out a hand. Kirk took it and sat down on the bed. Spock released his hand only to draw him close and bury his face in the Human's lap.

Kirk stroked the silken hair gently. "What's wrong?" He knew his Vulcan.

"Jim..." Spock's words were muffled. "Perhaps... perhaps you should not have intervened on Haldure. It might have been better if you had allowed them to carry out the original sentence."

"Now what damnfool idea have you got in your Vulcan head?" Kirk demanded, turning Spock over so that he could look into his eyes. "Do you really think I'd have let them do... that... to you?"

"It might have been...safer." Spock's hand came up to touch Kirk's face delicately. "It would have removed the risk of pon farr, and it would have made no difference..."

"No difference!" Kirk exploded. "Haven't you learned anything at all? We've been through this twice now, and I enjoyed it each time. Surely you could see that?"

"Jim, please understand. Fear of the Time is so ingrained in me that even now I find it hard to believe that you... that you could..."

Kirk silenced him with a kiss and hugged him closer. "I think I know what's wrong," he said thoughtfully. "Up to now, I've been the one to be dominant most of the time, so you've got some idiotic notion that I prefer it that way. Even with the link, you're wondering if you're seeing in my mind what you want to see, not what's there. Am I right?"

At Spock's nod he continued, "Listen, love." He settled himself more comfortably, lifting Spock's head onto his shoulder. "From now on we won't wait for pon farr. When we go on shore leave we'll find a place where we can be really alone for part of the time and we'll... act things out, as though it was really the Time."

"But Jim..."

"Shut up and listen. It's no good you saying you can't, because we both know you can. Why didn't I think of it before? You'll behave as you do then, not because you must but because we both want it that way... because I want it. It'll prove there's nothing to be afraid of in asking for what you want. In fact..." Kirk chuckled. "I wouldn't be at all surprised if the next time pon farr comes around, you won't even notice. Well, hardly notice."

"It sounds... possible." Spock raised worried eyes to Kirk's face. "But you... you won't resent... so much domination?"

"Beloved idiot!" Kirk ruffled the silky hair. "Spock, how do you feel when I make love to you? What's it like for you when I'm inside you, when you're lying in my arms?"

Spock coloured deeply. "I am... happy," he confessed shyly. "I feel safe, and warm... as though, at last, I belong. You give me so much pleasure."

"Then can you understand, that is how it is for me, too. Is it selfish of me to want it more often?"

"I didn't think of it in those terms." Spock looked thoughtful. "Jim, I believe it will work. There is always the irrational fear that you submit because it is your duty as my bondmate. If I knew that it also gives you pleasure..."

"Then you'll do it?"

"I will."

Kirk laughed and leaned down to capture the faintly smiling mouth with his own. They kissed, shifting position so that Spock lay back on the pillows, supporting Kirk's weight on his body. Their tongues met and entwined, thrusting deeply into each other's mouths, their hands clutching eagerly.

At last Spock wrenched his head away, gasping for breath. "Jim," he whispered unsteadily, "will you do one thing for me?"

"Name it," Kirk replied, sliding his hand over Spock's chest.

"Will you please..." The Vulcan arched to meet the searching fingers. "Will you please remove that towel?"

+++++

Cheap Thrills 3

February 1982


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