A Word of Explanation...

This story was begun way back in the 80s, when slash was pubbed in paper
zines.  There was high controversy just then over S/M content in slash.
Many zines refused to accept any story with violence, non-consensual sex,
etc.

Nurtured up as I was on the Star Trek Action Group stories out of Scotland
and other heavily S/M oriented old slash, I felt that by denying S/M, slash
would be denying its roots.  Having finally gotten charged up enough to
write a story of my own, I wanted to write one packed with S/M politics.  I
rented an IBM Selectric (for those who snuck in under the tent, I'm talking
about a typewriter -- sort of like a computer keyboard hooked directly to a
printer, bypassing RAM, ROM, and monitor).  When I had about 90
single-spaced pages, I sent them off to Kathleen Resch.  She explained that
she wanted to publish it, but had an honorable policy of not torturing
readers with "to be continued" stories; so she couldn't publish it until it
was done.  I, on the other hand, had cherished this vision of getting
responses to the first three parts, and using those to springboard the rest,
addressing any issues readers might have raised.

This probably never would have actually happened.  In those days, feedback
was hard to come by -- everything being done by U.S. mail, not the Internet.
But it was my fond underlying plan.

Still, I figured I could finish the story without it.

Time passed.

This story would now only raise controversy inside a few benighted religious
cults and Hollywood law firms; sometimes, change is good.  It's still not
done.  It never got any further than those original 90 pages (and a couple
fragmentary scenes intended to hook on later).  But, the time has come for
it to get its butt off the shelf and get read.  Who knows -- maybe once the
next Highlander story is done, and the X-Files story is done and the
Sentinel story is done...

Re feedback:  I keep meaning to mention in my disclaimer sections that while
I love getting it, I usually can't answer it, due to my particular computer
situation (ahem).  I know it must seem very rude, but believe me, I
appreciate every loc even if I don't respond.


Rating:  X

Classification:  m/m

Spoilers:  Oh come on now.  Well, okay, I guess there are people too YOUNG
to have seen all the episodes...  "Amok Time" is spoiled herein, maybe a few
others.

Keywords:  Kirk.  Spock.  Whips.  Chains.

Summary:  Kirk gets an ultimatum.

Warnings:  Extended foreplay.

Disclaimer:  Don't own 'em.  Wouldn't want to.  Leave them all free and
happy in the wild where they belong.

Dedication:  To Vera, my first beta reader, surely the kindest beta reader
in the universe and yet one of the most keen-sighted.  Who said I should
post it anyway.  And painstakingly scanned every typewritten page into her
computer so I could.

And to Terry, who's known me this long!  Even longer.  And still speaks to
me!

Start date:  oh boy.  198....7?

Feedback:   I love it!  I apologize in advance that I usually can't answer
it, but I appreciate every loc.


Intreat Me Not To Leave Thee

by C. M. Decarnin

Part I:    A Declaration in Form

Captain James Kirk's mind was on chess, as he left the Bridge.  He was
thinking about the way Spock's long fingers caressed the tall pieces.  Not
actually caressed, probably no Vulcan would ever caress anything, perhaps
not even a lover, if Vulcans could be said to have "lovers" as opposed to
mere mates.  (Could they?  What human knew?  Spock's mother, perhaps.)  But
the way Spock touched anything was almost a caress, so attentive,
deliberate, touches instinct with curiosity and respect.  He had suddenly
noticed it some weeks back, when Spock had accepted a queen sacrifice and
reached, imperturbably, to enfold her length in those slender fingers and
carry her away, dropping his own erect black bishop in her place.

Kirk's mind had been focused on the move, willing it.  And somehow, in the
moment of capture, he had, triumphant, felt himself the regal prize borne
away in Spock's hand.  Hot, it would be, hot, firm but velvet-soft to be
clasped in that human-Vulcan hold, the grip controlled, inexorable around
the royal prisoner.

Any struggle would press him against that alien, engulfing heat, flesh
exquisitely tender, irresistible muscularity -- himself the cold stiff
brittle piece, unyielding, unable to move, carried away in his surround of
Spock's warmth, silken skin, and strength.  His utilitarian plastic in this
intense coccoon about to metamorphose into --

Spock set down Kirk's queen and had fixed his eyes on the Captain's face
with a look of peculiar, self-absorbed inquiry.  Plummeted from his moment
of fantasy, Kirk realized his outstretched leg had indeed touched Spock's
under the table.  He moved it away and returned his attention to the board:
he had Spock now, even if he stubbornly refused to resign.  Spock had been
illogically persistent in playing all games through to the end, lately.

"Check."

And Spock's knight descended on it out of nowhere as Kirk fell back with a
half laugh, half cry of anguish, unbelieving, seeing too late -- through his
dramatics Spock's calm, uninflected conclusion:

"Mate."

He still couldn't believe he hadn't seen that one coming.  All this time and
he still kept trying to work out a way around it.  If he had shifted his
queen's rook's pawn first....

They had played many games since, but that one kept coming back to him.  How
could he have missed something so obvious?  It had even fleeted across his
thoughts that this might be a sign (but not so soon!  He was only -- well,
he wasn't old.) of a loss -- tiny, but real -- of mental powers.  Not that
it worried him on any serious level, of course.  But supposing it hadn't
been chess.  Supposing it had been combat, or diplomacy, and he had missed
something that vital?  It had never happened.  It had never occurred to him
that it could.  He had good reason to trust his own mind, he assumed it
would function efficiently, accurately, at speed.  And most of the time he
had the crew and computers of the Enterprise to back him up, and wasn't
playing against Spock, but with him.  And he did win a proportion of their
nearly nightly games, the same as always.  It didn't really bother him, he
just kept reverting to it every now and then and dammit, trying to win!  Win
that already lost game. He'd even toyed with the idea of asking Spock to do
it again, he remembered the positions perfectly, they could set it up, at
the moment of Spock's taking his queen; heck, he'd give him that, and then
try to find the right moves.

But somehow he hadn't brought himself to make the request. It looked foolish
to care about such a little thing, losing a game.  And he didn't care all
that much.  But it was as if there were something, something in that game
that still eluded him.  Half the time, once you did remember those elusive
things, they turned out to be incredibly trivial.  Still, it nagged at him.

He was on his way now to their game, in Spock's quarters.  As usual after
dinner he'd drifted back to the everlasting lure of the Bridge.  Maybe he
should just ask Spock, to get the thing out of his mind.

Spock had long since arranged non-emergency override keyed to his Captain's
voice, so that his door was never locked to Kirk.  When there was no reply
from within, Kirk entered, sure he wouldn't have long to wait.  To call
Spock "prompt" was almost to indulge in sarcasm.  A glance at the
chronometer showed that he himself was -- as Spock would put it -- seven
point six two five minutes early.

He glanced into the bedroom and to his surprise saw that it had been left in
a certain disorder.  Spock would have had to be interrupted by something
fairly urgent to leave magazines strewn on the bed -- technical journals,
probably -- and his video screen glowing through the dimmed lights.  It had
been frozen on a scene of mounted figures, but not turned all the way off.
Lured, Kirk hesitated.  Friendship with Spock, however real, did not imply
intimacy.  At McCoy's door he'd never have paused, expected and invited as
he was.  And it was odd really, since those things one thought of as
requiring privacy, those secrets every human being cherished (shared,
unbeknownst, with only a couple of billion other like-minded souls), were
far more likely to shelter behind the cantankerous country-doctor facade
than in the repose of the Vulcan mind.  Odd too, when you thought of it,
that the comparatively loud, extraverted, revealing emotional expression of
humans could hide such strangeness, at times, such perversity, fears,
desires, while in his evident reserve, his calm and silence, the Vulcan was
an open book.  In his views, his affinities, his distastes, nothing was made
a secret, and secretiveness was as unimaginable in Spock as any rowdiness or
vulgarity could be.

And still he hung at the door, trying to make out the figures on the video
screen.

They looked very like mounted Vulcan warriors of the Pre-Reform era,
signaling a S'kanderai film, the peculiarly addictive genre that had
been compared to Terran samurai and cowboy films, and, by some, to Klingon
genealogy plays.  He'd developed a rapacious appetite for the things over
the past few years.  Spock wasn't an aficionado, and if he had one on his
screen it might very well be a rare find he was having subtitled for Kirk by
the computer.  He could make out the distinctive flared-shoulder silhouette
of period costumes, but it almost looked as though the warriors were mounted
on horses -- which would be a bizarre anachronism indeed.

Perhaps Spock had left a note on the recorder?

It was ridiculous to hover here, wondering.  He stepped into the room that
was, almost, Spock, the place he felt he wasn't allowed to be without
permission.  He smiled.  Spock would never object to his presence.  On one
level, he knew that.  If he felt as guilty as a child sneaking toward the
cookie jar, it was only an aspect of his own impalpable shyness in the
Vulcan's presence -- or, apparently, absence.  It was nothing that anyone
would ever notice.  He didn't notice it himself, most of the time.  But at
odd moments it came over him: the little he knew about this close -- yes,
closest -- friend, his helplessness to understand to just what extent Spock
welcomed his company, how far his blunt, unimpassioned statements of
enjoyment, so like sensor reports of a distant world's climate, were to be
trusted.  Twenty times a day he might remind himself that Vulcans do not
lie, that even those social lies that in so many human cultures "don't
count" were to Spock foreign and unnecessary.  And twenty times he would
find in himself that slight hesitation, that tiny doubt as he approached
him.  Am I welcome?  Would he rather be alone? Do I encroach too often on
his privacy?  Where are the limits?  Perhaps it was this more than any
other feeling that kept others at a distance from the Vulcan, Kirk thought.
After so many years of communication he was always startled to hear some
crewmember remark on Spock's inscrutability, or expressionlessness.  He,
now, read much in subtle nuances of tone and demeanor and it was hard to
believe that what was so visible to him didn't exist for others.  Yet he too
met a barrier, beyond which he had no comprehension of the Vulcan's being.
What did friendship *feel* like to a Vulcan?  Sometimes it seemed he had
groped in the dark for years, encountering here and there another tiny nub
on the shape of what Spock was.  The blind men and the elephant.  How
would I describe a Vulcan ... ?

He hoped no one ever asked him to try.

Just now he was groping in the dark trying to encounter the nub that was the
"play" switch of the com unit, and if anyone had asked him to describe the
Vulcans on the screen, he would have said, "Off."  Ever so slightly off.

It wasn't just that they were, yes, mounted on horses.  Which, in the
context of the S'kanderai, was completely inexplicable.  The costuming was
correct:  hveist'hei-skin trousers, close-fitting, tough, but almost as thin
as silk, the traditional S'kanderai riding wear; full bloused dark tunics,
with slightly flared shoulders.  The central figure on the screen wore a
wide sash of gold -- sure sign of the villain.  The heroic Vulcans generally
disdained all outward show of rank, in a prefiguring of Reform ideals.
Their own kashta sashes were kept locked modestly away, or, sometimes, had
not yet been bestowed on them.  No, the oddness wasn't in their dress.  The
shadows that fell across them, and there in the background -- trees!  Terran
trees.  What on earth --?

And yet it was something more even than that.  It was their expressions --
at least, that of the gold-sashed leader.  It was -- strongly marked.
Even in this action shot, where heavily concentrated acting was not so
important, there was a violence to his intentness, a light in his eyes, a
clenching of the teeth between open lips that was almost disturbing in its
un-Vulcanness.  Vulcan actors attempted, with doubtful success, to imitate
the expressiveness they believed necessary to correctly portray their
violent ancestors.  Secretly Kirk thought that this, rather than any purely
historical interest, was the great attraction of S'kanderai films, for the
Vulcan audience as well as the human; that the emotionality they so severely
repressed in themselves was -- well, titillating, on some level, viewed from
safety at the distance of Art.  And the films were well-made enough to be
called art, heavily researched and nearly always based on historical
incidents, full of subtly-made points about honor and virtue and
self-knowledge.  The best ones actually tried to present these concepts not
at their current value but as they would have been perceived by the
S'kanderai themselves, the warriors of that particular era and locale that,
for some reason, so intrigued the Vulcan imagination.  The films were far
more dignified than any counterpart in the history of human entertainment,
but they did conform to a pretty standard plot formula.  Good always
triumphed through Reason.  The hero's logic defeated the passion of the
egoistic and sensual villain.

Kirk found the "play" button.

At his touch the Vulcans' mounts leaped forward, plunging down an incline
and in among thicker trees, as hard music hit and engulfed him.  The film
cut to a running figure, darting among trees, looking back over its
shoulder.  The Vulcan band parted, at arm-signals from the leader, and swept
on into the woods in two streams.  The runner again appeared, this time in a
close up.  A human!  It was a teenage boy, glancing back over his shoulder
in fear, long tangled blond hair and fluttering rags of his costume flying
as he ran.  The horsemen were pursuers, then.  Kirk thought briefly of the
times in human history when human "game" had been released and, for sport,
chased by hunters to the death.  But how could a S'kanderai film, about
Pre-Reform days, involve a human and Terra at all?  Both had been unknown to
the Vulcan of that time.

The end of the chase seemed inevitable.  Madly as the boy scrambled up each
leafstrewn slope, or darted between the beautiful tall trunks, no one could
outrun horses forever.  Suddenly Kirk became again aware of the music behind
the chase -- good god, it was Mozart!  He'd vaguely known it was Terran
music, but the visual images had sucked him in so immediately that he'd all
but blocked out sound.  And the stormy Twenty-Fifth Symphony had so driven
the screen's action as to seem the inevitable background.  But Mozart, that
most human of all human music --  The boy ran down, half falling, into a
broad depression where no trees grew.  He was staggering as he ran, but
pushed on; as he started up the opposite slope, the Vulcan leader crested
it, and sat laughing (!) down at his prey.  The boy wheeled.  All around the
ridge of the little dell the Vulcans materialized, urging their mounts
closer, cutting off escape with their leering omnipotence.  The boy stumbled
back, ran -- turned, turned again -- and faced back toward the leader, as
the most terrible threat, despairingly.

The leader's horse plunged and backed, he sat it as though glued to the
beautiful animal, his face lit with joy as he revelled in the strength and
rebellion under him, participated in it even as he mastered it.  The unholy
flame in his eyes leaped higher as he fixed his gaze and mind immovably on
the trapped, trembling boy, and forced the horse closer to him.  His lips
parted in a smile -- a smile of such spontaneity yet such cruel will that
Kirk, watching, was shocked into the thought, "What an actor!  He must be
one of the greatest, yet I don't recognize him --" before he became again
absorbed into the world of light in the dark around him.  The boy backed
precipitately, stumbling into one of the other horses, whose rider leaned
down and shoved the human back into the ring.

Every way was blocked by the mounted followers. He tried to straighten
himself to an attitude of defiance, shaking back the tangled cloud of golden
hair whose strands still clung here and there to the sweat on his face.  He
was a beautiful boy, gorgeously formed and more gorgeously costumed in the
artful rags of a peasantry Earth had never known.  His tan skin glowed
through the torn shirt, and as he fought for breath the rough material
slipped still more revealingly down one shoulder.  Almost like --

The leader dismounted slowly, his eyes still on the boy.  The rider next to
him caught up his horse's reins.  The Vulcan still smiled, as if savoring
some private triumph, as he stroked his mount's neck.  His eyes were dark,
narrow and shining.  The look on his face --

He stepped toward the boy.

The music had fallen.  The sound of his boots crushing the leaves became
unnaturally clear.

Around the circle several other Vulcans dismounted.

The leader's slow swagger halted.  His eyes moved from the boy's face down
his half-bared chest and back up.  His gloved left hand rose and touched the
boy's cheek, stroking back strands of caught hair.

Kirk thought, No.

The caressing fingers fell along the back of the jawline, the throat, till
the palm spread on the still-heaving chest.  The boy's eyes slid closed in
an agony of dread.

It can't be.

The Vulcan's other hand came up, brushed back more hair, and swept behind
the boy's neck in a grip of iron.  Deliberately the Vulcan lowered his lips
onto the boy's helpless mouth.  There was a convulsive tremor through the
human, then a terrified paralysis.  The Vulcan kiss claimed him more
imperiously.

In Kirk white shock stopped all sensation.  An instant he only felt the
disembodied tingling at odd edges of his perception that signified
battle-lines of fact against disbelief.  New knowledge swamped him a
fraction after:  God!  It is!  It's unheard-of, it's -- it must be the most
incredibly avant-garde --  And bodily awareness tripped immediate guilt:
all through his hips was warm, tight rut!  He wanted to see more, he wanted
them to -- of course they wouldn't.  Already it had gone beyond scandal --
daring -- to make an artistic point, the only thing that could ever compel a
Vulcan director to outrageousness.  But what, what was the human boy doing
there at all?  And those horses, trees --  It wasn't making sense, but it
intrigued --  And he couldn't be blamed for having a sexual reaction when
he'd been taken so much by surprise.

His finger, he suddenly realized, was jammed hard down on the "stop" button
of the unit.  The inhuman Vulcan strength imprisoned the boy's head, the
forced kiss bruised his wide, tender mouth, weathered Vulcan harshness of
feature was its own intrusion against dewy young human freshness and gold
beauty.  The cruel kiss in its color hung glowing in the dark before Kirk
like some eternally insoluble opposition.

Guiltily he eased his finger over to the "play" button.  He wanted to just
see how they got out of this one.  Lord, Vulcan audiences must have rioted
-- or rather, the wind from the flurry of lifted eyebrows must have amounted
to a hurricane.

He pressed "play".

The boy wrenched aside, thrust at the Vulcan with all his young strength,
and screamed.  It was a short, falling cry of such heart-rending pathos that
Kirk's passion woke on an entirely different level, the hot ache of the
instinct to succor.  Struggles of no avail against Vulcan speed and force,
with his body already exhausted, the captive human relapsed into shuddering
stillness between the viselike hands gripping his arms.  Kirk could see the
swell of hard muscle on one Vulcan forearm.  It took no stretch of
imagination to accept the boy's despair of escaping such overmastering
power.  He was as imprisoned as if he had been enmeshed in steel.  And Kirk
felt the first stir of an uneasy questioning.

Could it be -- was it possible that this scene, so perverted in every way
from the standard of Vulcan decorum, was in some way more than just an act?
No, it couldn't be; camera-angles, cuts, it all had to be retaken many
times, in meticulous Vulcan esthetic; and even more surely, no Vulcan, let
alone a whole pack of them, would lend himself to such atrocity.  But were
they Vulcan?  The setting was Terran -- could they be human actors?  No.
Kirk knew Vulcans as few humans did.  These were no impersonators.  The
shape of a hand, the turn of a gesture -- he could not have said how he knew
it, but it was a certainty.

The boy raised his damp face, and lifted his eyes, tear-blurred, in a
hopeless appeal to pity.  His lips formed a word -- "--please--" -- even as
his body shrank away trembling from what he knew must come.  A shiver rose
from Kirk's thighs to his biceps.  The expressiveness of the boy's face --
what it would do to a Vulcan audience!  They would be squirming in real
humiliation and fright at being witness to such excesses. But it was another
reassurance:  only an actor could ever mirror each response to violent
emotion with such limpidity of expression, and only a very good actor, at
that.

The Vulcan flung the boy back and spoke a harsh command. In a flurry of
one-sided struggle the Vulcan horsemen stripped away most of the boy's
clothing, slashing with knives at the crude seams.  He was left with only
the cloth boots bound high on his calves, and a tattered, triangular gray
loin rag of the sort conventionally supposed to represent primitive
underwear.  Kirk had always thought it looked damnably inconvenient.  He
could see now the scene was going to go further than he could have imagined
possible, before the inevitable arrival of the hero, but it was only in
Vulcan terms that the progression had been shocking.  It was fairly tame by
human standards.  Still it jolted him each time he was confronted by the
Vulcanness of the men performing these violent actions.

Especially the leader.  His brutal smile and raking glance stripped the boy
again, and more thoroughly.  The boy turned his face aside in shame, and
closed his eyes involuntarily against the invasion.  The long line of his
lashes was spectacular. He forced himself to look back, to lift his chin
with the rags of pride, and meet the cruel eyes.

The Vulcan lowered his hands to his own waist, his thumbs opening the broad
ceremonial knot of the shimmering kashta sash.  He let the gold fall loose
to his sinewy hips, then unwound its full length.  For a moment he let it
drape from either side of his upturned palms in a signification Kirk knew
and started at.  Then he spoke -- in Federation English!  A single word:

"Come."

The Vulcan accent was thicker than Spock's.  Most were.

What in god's name would Spock think when he got this far into the tape?

The boy stood rooted, unable to move either in obedience or any futile
renewal of flight.

Kirk knew enough to understand the two-word order rapped out in Vulcan:

"Bring him!"

Two of the followers thrust the boy forward roughly.

He looked stunned, as though he had finally lost all ability to comprehend
what was happening to him.  He stood staring into the face of the Vulcan,
who spoke again.  The boy's arms were grasped and raised before him.  He
flinched and then stood alone and naked as the followers backed off.  The
Vulcan laid the sash across the lifted forearms.  His black eyes held now
with mesmeric intensity the eyes of the paling captive, as with slow,
deliberate movements he wound the silken gold around and between the wrists,
and then, in a sudden rough gesture of possession, pulled tight, and made
firm the glimmering bond.

And this, Kirk knew, though he could not feel it himself, was where the
Vulcan audience would have risen as one and quitted the theater.  The kashta
sash!  To be polluted in such images!  The kashta that still descended
generation to generation, precious, revered, worn only in the most sacred
ceremonials; symbol of all that was Vulcan tradition and courtliness, badge
of conservatism indeed -- the kashta that passed from the hands of its
bearer only once, in permanent transfer to its heir, the greatest public
gesture of love and honor a Vulcan could bestow --!  To see it used as if to
drag another, and that other male, a youth, and alien, down to rape -- it
was more than decency could tolerate.  Where they could have found Vulcans
to play this scene Kirk couldn't conceive.  As for writing it -- no, it had
to be a Terran production, written by some human who didn't understand the
significance... but then, the actors --

The kashta hung long from between the human's wrists.  The boy looked near
fainting. Slowly the Vulcan wrapped the reins of kashta gold around his own
left fist.  With his right hand he gathered the folds of his tunic and
thrust them under his trousers' thickly worked waistband.  Below was an
obscenely protruding codpiece of the same soft glove-leather thinness as the
black hveisth'ei -skin breeches.  The right hand fell to releasing its
fastenings.  When the codpiece dropped, the broad hand lewdly massaged what
it had contained.  Then, slowly, it drew aside from a brutal, huge,
jade-flushed erect phallus.

Kirk had stopped breathing.  It couldn't be happening.  He couldn't take his
eyes off it.  It filled the screen interminably.  He'd never seen one.  The
sullen emerald engorgement, the double-rimmed head, massive rounds bulging
under the broad thrust from dark, thick moss; the heaviness of writhing
veins like swollen vines sucking tight on some monstrous jungle bole.  The
upright weight twice capped with brilliant citrine.  The heaviness.  The
thickness.  The length.  What that heavy chasing of veins must feel like
entering --

The boy, as paralyzed by the revelation, suddenly lunged back, mouth open in
horror.  The Vulcan yanked him savagely to his knees and before he could
move jerked the bound hands up and back, behind the boy's neck and down,
bending him into an excruciating arc, arching over him and thrusting the
other black glove to grip in the wild tangle of blond hair, pulling still
further back to admit his mouth's onslaught.  When he drew away the soft
mouth was slack.  Then a breath came hard, from tortured muscles, and
another -- the bruise-dark eyelids fluttered, and raised on a look of such
piteous pleading as no one could have resisted.  But the Vulcan, looking
into those eyes, moved his reinhand close under the neck, in support, while
the right hand went to his belt-sheath.  He drew out the heavy-bladed
hand-knife of Vulcan, the warrior's knife of all work, from gutting an enemy
to cutting switches for a brush shelter.  He held the blade before the boy's
eyes, and then, his dark stare never wavering, inserted it between the
gasping lips.  The boy swallowed convulsively, open-mouthed, and his eyes
took on terror.  The razor-honed knife entered further.  Then the Vulcan
exerted pressure on the flat of the blade, forcing the jaw down, depressing
the tongue.  The boy's breath came high and strained.  The blade slid
further, must have touched the back of his mouth; they waited, the boy for
death, the man for enough fear.  He began to rotate the blade, the sharp
edge moving upward, the boy's mouth stretching wider to avoid it.  When it
stood edge up, he withdrew it and held it again for the boy to see.  Then,
casually, he drew a thread-thin line of red with it on one side of the boy's
throat.

Kirk gasped.  The man was returning the knife to the sheath.  The cut was so
infinitesimally fine no blood even beaded along it, but it was real.

Now while he supported the shoulders a follower was knotting the loosed
tails of the kashta together a little way down, then tying each end to one
of the boy's ankles, jerking it taut to keep his arms tortured back and
spine arched.  The Vulcan moved swiftly into him, boots straddling his bare
knees, thighs molding along his ribcage, hands gripping behind neck and
head, and broad-headed phallus forcing into, stretching and immediately
glutting the gasping mouth.  The boy struggled reflexively an instant and
stopped as suddenly when the grip around his head tightened, the Vulcan
thumbs pressing hard in the hinge of his jaw.  Breath half cut off, already
smothering, he yet remembered the lesson of the blade, and held still.  The
Vulcan looked down.

"Now you will learn," he said softly

"Swallow it.  When I tell you.  Swallow it or die."  His hand moved among
dishevelled blond.  "Little human scum."  He set his hips a fraction lower.
"Would you like to die choked on Vulcan flesh?"  He pressed his organ
further into the quiescent boy.

He can't, Kirk thought.  It's not possible.  He swallowed.  He felt as if he
were trembling inside, though he sat stock-still.  How could this film have
been made?  How could a Vulcan even speak such lines, let alone imbue them
with such coarse lust?  Kirk's arms felt frozen to his sides, he watched as,
unbelievably, the gross cock was rammed inch by inch straight down into the
upturned face.  The Vulcan threw back his head, climax immediate on
completion of his ensheathement, unmoving, consumed from within by satanic
ecstasy.  Then he writhed, revelling, arching atop the boy in an ikon of
unconditional conquest.

When the phallus emerged from the boy it was coated and glistening -- and
still hard.  Even as the bruised lips left it, a gout of clear mucus covered
the tip, and dribbled down over the swollen olive veins, with more gushing
out above, the secretions increasing when the Vulcan brought his fist to
slick down the glutinous length.  The boy had sunk back on his ankles, the
slack in the kashta letting him rest his forearms against his bowed neck,
easing his strain.  The back of a gloved hand caressed lightly down the side
of his hidden face.  Then slid under and lifted his chin.  He was suffused
with shame.

"Yes."  The Vulcan's voice fell to black velvet.  "You learn.  You live as I
have pleasure in you.  Otherwise..."  A black finger traced under the red
knife-line on his throat.  The Vulcan thrust his face close to the boy's.
"I shall have much pleasure in you, Terran animal."  His black eyes glazing
with augmented lust, he touched under the raised bare biceps, brushed along
it lightly and down the cup of the armpit to the flank, making the boy
shiver.  The hand slid behind his back and pulled him again up onto his
knees, the other steel-strong arm shot beneath his crotch.  He was lifted,
his face distorting with pain, and tipped back.  The Vulcan kneed between
his legs to part them and dumped the boy onto the ground.  He lay opened,
elbows butterflied, ankles stretched wide apart and doubled almost to
buttock-level by the taut kashta's ends.  At an order the Vulcan was brought
a tightly lashed saddle-roll, which he thrust under the boy's hips.  Then
his knife whipped out and slashed the crotch of the loin-rag, exposing his
opening.

One gloved hand went to the rag still covering the human's genitals and the
Vulcan leaned there as he bent forward to gaze into the agonized blue eyes.
Satisfied at what he saw, he shifted his weight on the crushing hand and
began to breathe more hoarsely.  The boy writhed.  The Vulcan hissed.
"Little naked snake.  You will be silent now.  You will not scream."

He rocked back between the boy's spread thighs.  The dripping phallus stood
in his hand.  It made a contractile movement and more ichor oozed its
thickness as its head touched the helplessly presenting buttocks and was
wedged into them to press against the anus.  Bound, the boy could put up no
struggle, but his muscles convulsed and jerked as the pain of the implacable
pressure began.  Harder and harder the wood-tough phallus bore in, till
finally flesh began to stretch around it.  The tip was immured, the first
flaring rim was squeezed inexorably forward in its jellylike coating.  The
Vulcan laid his hands in preparation on the arching, trembling thighs where
they joined the pale tenderness of the loins, in time to control with an
iron grip the jolting heaves of agony as the apple-thick head forced, twice,
through the flesh.  With the head of the organ buried, the Vulcan paused,
holding the boy's struggle till it stilled.   Kirk could see the motions as
the heavy stem contracted, releasing its copious pre-ejaculate now inside
the boy. None escaped the torturously tight seal.  Again the Vulcan pressed
in, the glistening varicosity sliding hard and slow into the breached boy,
distending him further.  The final massive root of the phallus sank
implacably into him.  In deep possession, the Vulcan leaned into the
quivering thighs and gazed down at the boy with lust only amplified by the
tormented body's futile attempts at ejection.

"Bed-slave.  Vulcan manhood honors you.  You are to be its sheath.  Learn
now the sensations of your kind, and the whole of your destiny."  The Vulcan
reared back and thrust violently inward and the boy screamed, oblivious to
all but the pain of his impalement.  Viciously the Vulcan reached behind the
blond head and with incredible strength hauled up the tied wrists, dragging
the roped ankles impossibly higher through rasping leaves, then released the
crossed wrists over the boy's throat.  They were immediately pulled
stranglingly tight by the straining ankle-ropes.  The knot behind the boy's
shoulders kept the kashta crossed beneath his arching back, holding his
position immovable but for the useless strugglings of his pain.  Only a few
small cries escaped him now in his fight for breath, as the Vulcan rammed
him joltingly again and again, mounting on his agony toward climax.

The image froze, the sound of the Vulcan's triumphant hoarse panting cut.
Kirk sat with both hands clamped over the stop control.  His pulse raced.
His mouth was open and coated with dryness.

His groin ached.

He didn't want to see the Vulcan orgasming on that boy's pain and
subjugation.

He didn't.

He had to turn the tape back to where he had found it.  Spock mustn't know
that he had watched so far into it.  Because -- his mind hit white static.
Spock might return at any moment.  He would be humiliated if he thought
anyone aboard the Enterprise had witnessed this Vulcan depravity.  Where
the devil was the rewind?  Panicking, he stumbled against the end of the bed
and groped for the dim-hold switch of the light controls.  Spock mustn't
catch him --

The lights sprang up as he finally fumbled onto the right switch.  He
whirled toward the com unit and again almost tripped over the bed, falling
forward off-balance and catching himself with both hands on the mattress.
Scattered under his eyes were the "technical journals" Spock had left so
uncharacteristically littered about.

On one, a human wrapped in chains stood naked.  On another, a Vulcan dressed
in leather exposed green genitals.  The two-page spread of a third showed
such a complex of activity that Kirk could only register a lot of white
rope, black leather, and bare skin.

All of the pictures were of males.  Most were of humans.  Most of the humans
were light-haired, white-skinned Terrans.  Every single one had a hard-on.
Over all, seemingly garlanded from page to page to page, looped thongs,
chains, cuffs, gags, belts, ropes, blindfolds, leashes, straps, halters,
collars, reins, hobbles -- all the frank blazons of restraint.

"Good evening, Captain."

Even as his heart almost jerked out of its mooring he knew this had been
bound to happen.

Spock was always punctual.

He would have to acknowledge --

He would be forced to admit --

There had to be a graceful way out of this.

He got himself upright.

"Spock."  His casual tone was not a complete success.  Now.  Another
sentence. And suddenly an explanation came to him.  If he'd turned on the
light before and seen the magazines, it might have occurred to him
immediately.  Yes!  It accounted for the carelessness of the activated
screen, the scattered magazines -- "Spock, I'm afraid someone has managed to
get in here and set up a practical joke.  Not a very funny one," he added
grimly, as the implications sank home.  Spock's extreme reticence on the
subject of sex would likely make the discovery painfully embarrassing.  What
crew member would dare do this to such a senior officer?  Among the senior
staff, who...?  Some unsuspected xenophobe--?  But Spock halted Kirk's
lightning speculation.

"You refer, I believe, to the items of a pornographic nature in this room.
No practical joke has been perpetrated, Captain.  They are mine."

Kirk felt his stomach sink away as if into another dimension.  Spock's...
they were Spock's... and he had seen them.  No wonder Spock was using such
formal address.  He had become an interloper.  If only Spock had put the
things away!  Any moment he might -- would -- notice the com screen.  But
Kirk felt now only excruciating embarrassment and a miserable sense of
Spock's exposure.  The inexplicable deadly panic of a few moments earlier
had gone.  He was experiencing the predicament as a colossal faux pas, a
disturbance of Spock's equanimity that he must somehow ease.

"It's -- quite a collection."  It was something he might have said to a
human in like circumstances.  It sounded completely inadequate now.  Spock,
unlike a human counterpart, wouldn't be able to take advantage of the
distancing maneuver implicit in the phrasing.  It would be too close to a
lie, to evince only a connoisseur's or scientist's interest in the array --
though of all people, he realized, Spock might actually be the one who
could take just such an interest.  The thought brought a surge of
indignant protective warmth.  This shouldn't have happened.  Spock did not
deserve to be exposed to such embarrassment; Spock, who harmed no one, whose
impartial understanding awaited any who needed it; endless patience,
thorough integrity, utter absence of malice -- passive virtues, maybe, but
healing to the spirit of the ship as McCoy could ever be to its bodies.  The
verbal fencing with the doctor, even, a communication method tailored to its
object!  He had sometimes felt that the flickers of dry sarcasm parrying
McCoy's belligerence were instantaneous conduits, ephemeral as heat
lightning, to areas of Spock's being he himself could never touch.  And had,
sometimes, known himself a trifle jealous of that quirky intimacy.  But he
would never have intentionally forced himself into any part of Spock's life.
If only he had never come into this room!

"Captain, I sense that you believe me to be displeased by your presence
here.  I assure you, that is not the case."

Then why do you keep calling me "Captain", Kirk thought.  "I shouldn't have
come into your bedroom without permission."

"Such permission has always been yours."

The formality!  Yet the meaning was only what he had known, in his heart of
hearts, to be true.  But could Spock really be accepting his discovery
calmly?  There was an intensity about him -- not fidgetty or what in a human
could have been called nervousness; more as though he were suddenly
operating from a deeper level than usual.  Kirk felt -- observed.

Spock continued, "There is a great deal I would like to say to you on this
subject, if you will allow me."

Something locked, momentarily, like stuck brakes, in Kirk's reflexes.  Then,
as the import of the words was absorbed consciously, a flush of warmth went
through him, a delight at the flattery of being so chosen by Spock.  This he
carefully suppressed, as being too frivolous a reaction to display; he
sought among various agreeable responses and said, "Certainly."

He sounded more like a Vulcan every day.  Or so Bones complained.

"Please be seated, Captain.  I believe I shall be more comfortable standing,
but what I wish to say will take a considerable time."

Kirk glanced around, then moved to the side of the bed nearest Spock, pushed
aside a few magazines, and sat down.  He noted with a wry, poignant
sensation that Spock had adopted his "lecture" stance, spine straight, chin
slightly cocked, feet a little apart, and hands clasped loosely behind his
back.  There seemed, tonight, an added darkness to the Vulcan eyes.  Kirk
suddenly had a strong sense of the difficulty of the intended communication;
but when Spock began, his voice was calm and even, with inflections
impeccably Vulcan.

"As you know, Captain, Vulcan long elected to maintain privacy on the
subject of Vulcan sexuality.  In the daily interactions of an entire world
with other populations, information must continually seep out, however.  My
own mother's marriage was, for example, a source of much information to the
human physicians who attended her.  Indeed, the principal reason the facts
of Vulcan sexuality were not widely known was simply that for many Vulcans,
even to speak of these matters other than to bondmates can be -- difficult.
As it once was for me."  Spock paused.  "This does not mean that Vulcan
science has failed to investigate an area of such importance to our
survival.  And there are some who simply find it a fascinating field of
study in its own right.  I myself am among that number."

"This --" Kirk gestured, brows drawn in uncertainty -- "is... part of your
studies?"  Was it possible?

"In one sense.  The tape you have been viewing is a Vulcan reinterpretation
of a Terran pornographic video work from the classical period; approximately
2000 AD.  The difficulty in precise dating stems from local fluctuations in
the censorship practices that obtained during that era."

"Vulcans make pornography?"

The faintest shadow of expression played for a moment near Spock's lips, and
might have showed as a slight glimmer in the dark eyes.  "A few have
experimented with the form since shortly after the first human contact with
Vulcan.  Pre-Reform fragments also survive that suggest similar intent --
primarily drawings and sculpture, as literacy was not widespread."

"Vulcans ... Vulcans ... make pornography..."  Kirk's voice rose on a
note half incredulous, half marveling, almost to a laugh.  Yet his
expression showed more shock than amusement.  Then he recollected himself.
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Spock.  That remark verged on racial stereotype."

There was a moment's silence during which a genuine unease budded far down
in Kirk's consciousness.  But the dark eyes held only their usual mild
inquiry.

"Quite understandable, Captain.  The human tendency is to view rational
behavior as incompatible with sensual appreciation.  This attitude is not
unknown on Vulcan, but is by no means universal, as my past few years' study
has allowed me to discover."  He hesitated.  "There is also a tendency,
particularly in Starfleet, to view Vulcans as... I believe 'pillars of
integrity' is the nearest English equivalent to the word I have in mind.
Though it has also been translated as 'stuffed shirts'."  Kirk made a sound
of protest but Spock continued, "In Starfleet, the perceived Vulcan lack of
sensuality is also misinterpreted as -- again I believe the term is 'a will
of iron'.  Though humorous references may revolve around a Vulcan's complete
lack of sexual desire, for example, there is an underlying belief in 'raging
hormones', if you will, held in leash by strict Vulcan morality.  Except,"
and the calm voice took on an almost imperceptible tension, "during pon
farr, of course."

A patterning flash of insight connected the taut note to the scene on the
frozen viewscreen, the scattered magazines on the bed.  Unconsciously Kirk
leaned forward.  "This... study of Vulcan sexuality, over the past few years
-- how many years did you say?"

Again that faint glimmer in Vulcan eyes.  "I did not say.  But my interest
turned to the subject approximately six years ago."

Kirk felt he might be blushing.  "I see," he said hurriedly, and then found
nothing to add.  Awkwardly, he looked up into the somber dark eyes.  Their
kind, almost affectionate expression eased him.  "Spock, I didn't intend to
pry."

"Captain," -- Kirk felt a mote of hurt at the continued formal address,
wiped away immediately by Spock's words -- "it is true that Vulcans have a
highly developed sense of privacy.  For that very reason, we are most
unlikely to allow ourselves to be interrupted during activities of a private
nature.  That is, not accidentally."

Kirk's lips parted, but not a single word came to him.

Spock added, "I said that the various articles you found here were relevant
to my studies.  That is true.  But I have no wish to mislead you.  They are
considerably more relevant to my own personal pleasure."

His tone on the last words was so dry that the effect was like a slap.  A
part of Kirk felt how very far from philosophical ease stood the Vulcan who
could speak those words in that tone.

A larger part of him was rapidly assessing the straits of a Vulcan, even if
half human -- no, especially if half human -- with this sexual
orientation, on board the Enterprise.

The rest of him was simply frozen, like the scene of rape in the Terran
woods.

Spock was carefully observing him.  "I wished you to know, Captain.  Humans
say one picture is worth a thousand words.  A valuable insight, where
complexity is involved.  Also, I believed that your concept of me was such
that it might be preferable for you to accustom yourself somewhat to
adjustments of that concept in a period of privacy.  I regret that I appear
to have underestimated the necessary interval."

Guiltily Kirk realized that if the "interval" had been much longer he would
have rewound the tape, turned out the lights and fled, trying to deny all
knowledge of that "new concept" of Spock.

"I also wished you to understand immediately that I speak not as a unique
individual but as one of a number of Vulcans whose sexuality parallels my
own.  I -- did not wish you to believe that my sexuality was somehow a
result of the human component in my genetic make-up."

Kirk felt that he should say something.  He knew -- and Spock knew that he
did -- that to call any Vulcan's individual behavior genetically influenced
was highly offensive, implying as it did that that behavior was
uncontrollable.  He had more than once tried to reconcile for himself the
irony of this reaction in a people whose behavior, at certain times, was
so rigidly prescribed by its genetics, far more so than in infinitely
malleable humans.  Still, it made sense up to a point:  conscious control of
behavior was the pivot of most Vulcan culture and, according to themselves,
necessary to their very survival.

Spock was admitting that he had not had entire faith in Kirk's ability to
wait for sufficient data before forming an opinion; and that Spock had
allowed his own dread of being misjudged to influence his procedure.  A
heavy confession.

Kirk almost smiled, but stopped himself.  He said, "I understand."

"There is, in Vulcans, no truly driving sexual urge until pon farr.  I
understand that human children seek and enjoy orgasmic experiences long
before they may have had intercourse with another person.  This is not true
of Vulcan children.  We experience no strong hormonal compulsion until
adulthood.  It is not so much that sexual experimentation is discouraged, as
that it gives rise to emotional states we are taught to avoid.

"It is thus not uncommon for an adult male to have no experience of orgasm
before marriage and pon farr, and many have, until then, avoided detailed
knowledge of sexual matters.  You will notice that I am better able to
discuss these things than I was in the past.  At the time of pon farr, I
knew little more than the barest biological facts.  Also, I was not, then,
well in control of the emotions pon farr itself was causing.  I had avoided
facing the issue.  The grief -- the guilt I felt when I thought I had killed
you... these brought home to me, when I had leisure to reflect on them, the
folly of attempting to evade what was inevitable.  It was clear that my
refusal to face the concept of marriage had led directly to the situation in
which I endangered you.  I therefore concluded it would be necessary, and
best, for me to marry immediately.

"Further analysis, however, revealed underlying factors in my aversion to
marriage.  I came to realize that study of these matters was my only hope of
reaching a correct conclusion.

"This in itself required all the discipline at my command.  I forced myself
to send to Vulcan for texts.  When the first volumes arrived, it was more
than a week before I could reach a state of calm sufficient to allow me to
open them."

Kirk felt almost a physical pain at the image of Spock, alone, struggling
with such fears and confusion.  "I wish I had known."

"I could never have brought myself to discuss such things.  Indeed, it was
more than a year before I became consciously aware of all the precautions I
took to ensure secrecy.  In ordering such materials as these, I employed a
pseudonym.  Of course," he added, "I informed my correspondents that the
name I used was not my own."

Kirk looked away.  Oh Spock...

"As I achieved fuller understanding, there were other reasons for preserving
silence on the subject.

"I began to seriously examine alternatives that would previously have been
unthinkable to me.

"There are, on Vulcan, individuals who serve as sexual surrogates.  They are
frequently insane or retarded persons whose behavior is -- deranged.  Many
are incapable of the bond.  They indulge in promiscuity by choice, yet the
sense of exploitation in relating to them is inevitable.  The experience is
said to be most distressing.

"In my family it was considered beyond the bounds of possibility to engage
in intimate behavior with one other than a mate.

"You must find it difficult to imagine what the feelings of a Vulcan male
would be, approaching the time of first pon farr, without the ability or the
wish to wed.  A sudden journey...  After two weeks' absence, the return.
And time passes... eventually, acquaintances cannot help but be aware that
pon farr is long overdue, and, on some level, acknowledge what must have
occurred; though a surprising number remain sincerely unconscious that
their friend or relation could have done anything so shocking.

"I had been brought up to these things and at that time I thought all
Vulcans shared my -- or perhaps I must more accurately say my father's --
point of view.  Pon farr was -- a nightmare to me.  It was only afterward
that I even grasped the extent of my shock and fear at what was happening to
my body, my mind -- I attempted to preserve an unchanged exterior, with less
than total success.  The struggle to deny the intensity of my state probably
added to the violence with which it at last overwhelmed me.

"It is difficult to know how to convey the dread I felt of marriage.

"I felt as though I had been condemned to death, rather than merely trapped
into a savorless social contract.  I knew this fear to be irrational.  It
shamed me.  Of course I told no one.  I lived for many years in that state
of denial which many beings utilize to suppress the knowledge of their
eventual death.  I even told myself that as a half-human I might never enter
pon farr.

"I believe some of this fear can be attributed to what in humans has been
termed an inferiority complex.  In my childhood I was frequently reminded of
my hybrid status.  Adults did it subtly. For the most part the playmates of
my own clan were civil.  Certain others..."  The Vulcan's gaze seemed to
turn inward, to an unsharable past.  "It is interesting to realize that
those children with their angry or scornful reactions could have
demonstrated to me that not all Vulcans were raised in the atmosphere of
refinement and idealism that obtained in our clan.  Doubtless I was too
occupied with repressing my emotional responses to their attacks for any
such observation to penetrate.  It might have saved me a great deal of time
later, had I become truly aware of variances in Vulcan culture and behavior.
As it was, I had absorbed the idea that any differences I felt in myself
were due to the human component in my genetic makeup."  Kirk winced.  "And
that this human component was vastly inferior to Vulcan heritage.  A natural
conclusion, given that those traits my father and teachers most discouraged
were the same 'human' flaws my schoolmates accused me of in less moderate
terms.  The degree to which such faulty childhood deductions determine the
adult outlook is indeed astonishing.

"The only person who seemed to share my failings and, occasionally, when we
were alone, even to cherish them, was my mother.

"My human mother." Spock's eyes were fixed somewhere on a nonexistent middle
distance.  "For years -- most of my life -- that was a shameful phrase, a
vulgarity.  I literally could not have uttered such words.  And that
attitude I did learn at home.  A child learns from the averted eyes, the
hasty changes of subject...  Once, when I was four, I was sent to my room
for asking in company if mother used to live in the trees on Earth -- a hazy
hypothesis after being told by another child that humans were once monkeys.
I remember I thought it sounded like an exciting and desirable way to live,
and it was several years before I understood why I was punished.

"The underlying theme was always that humans were equal and valued beings
and that therefore one must never allude to the misfortune of their not
being Vulcans.  From this I might have formed alternative views on the
omnipresence of Vulcan logic.  Instead, I once again accepted what I was
told, at face value, and attempted to conform to the expectations of this
system.

"Naturally, I failed.

"I became aware of a longing for the presence of humans.

"I concealed the perversion as well as I could."

Kirk looked up, startled.  Had Spock actually made a joke -- in a discussion
of sex?

Spock did seem to smile, very slightly.  "As an improvement on a life of
adventure in the canopy of a Terran jungle, I determined to escape even
further off the ground.  I applied, against my father's wishes, to Starfleet
Academy, ostensibly to enlarge the scope of my scientific research
objectives.  I would have been out of easy reach in the treetops; in the sky
I would be invulnerable.

"And I would never have to compete with Vulcans again.  I would be measured
only against humans.

"Please believe that this thought was not conscious.  It never occurred to
me that my sense of relief and security, despite the great culture shock I
experienced and the xenophobia I encountered, stemmed from my own sense of
the inferiority of humans.  Later I realized that this was an inevitable,
though subconscious, corollary to my own feelings of inferiority as a half
human.  One cannot depreciate something in oneself without depreciating it
in others."

Spock paused.  "I wished you to know of this aspect of my character, both in
itself and because it is at least tangent to another, more positive, aspect
-- though I once considered it infinitely degrading, and hid it from
everyone.

"I refer to my sexual attraction toward humans.

"The rigidity of Vulcan social relations is difficult for most non-Vulcans
to grasp.  Perhaps it was impossible for a half-Vulcan to cope with, even
one who denied his difference as vehemently as I did.  As time went on, I
found that it had become impossible for me to feel attracted by those
enmeshed in that system of relations.  But I had no name for what did
interest me, in my incomplete adolescent daydreams -- an affectionate and
adventurous relationship with a human friend.  Later, I suppressed all
daydreaming as immature.  Thus closing off another route to self-discovery.
You will feel that the understanding I have reached over the last six years
ought to have been accessible to me by the age of twenty-five.  I can only
agree."

Kirk smiled.  "I would be more likely to feel that that inferiority complex
still has a hold on you, Spock.  I haven't found that so many people ever
come to grips with their real desires, let alone have it all figured out in
adolescence.  And... you had more to figure out than most."

Spock turned away briefly, and picked up a meditation focus, a translucent
grey stone from the Kaskalan Desert.  Slowly, thoughtfully, he turned the
stone in his hands, then brought his gaze up to Kirk's face.  "I can only
surmise how alien it must be to you... an upbringing such that, strong as my
aversion to marriage was, I never considered surrogate mating.  It was --
unthinkable.

"And, in my case, the marriage to T'pring had been arranged.  To have
avoided it by any method would have resulted in open shame and scandal.  I
felt, then, that I had no choice.  Yet I resisted.  You witnessed my
struggle.  Despite the urgency of my condition, that which, in a rational
state, was Spock never wavered in opposing the bond to T'pring.  I knew that
it was not right.  Perhaps I knew that it might not even be possible.  For
the truth was that I had, unknowingly, already selected another as my
bondmate.  I believe that T'pring, through the faint empathy of our
potential bond, may have sensed an incompatibility, or an actual -- I know
no word for this in English:  k'talemthas -- the turning away of the mind,
in the time of the bonding pledge, toward another.  This, indeed, happens
rarely.  Vulcans are not encouraged to meditate in romantic modes.  A pledge
is regarded as -- perhaps you would say 'sacred'; we would be more likely to
call it 'a given'.  One does not consider possibilities outside the given.
But where k'talemthas occurs, the empathic contact, so weak as not to be
consciously noticed, ceases.  The 'given' may cease to seem any boundary,
and, though neither partner may be aware of it, the engagement no longer
exists.  That this, which is the effect of nature, is regarded as a
scandalous occurrence, ought to have been yet another among the many clues
to the serious logical flaws in Vulcan social order.

"I do not condemn that society, Captain.  What may function well in general
may fail in exceptional cases.  That I am such a case permits me a
perspective which is denied to those comfortable within the structure.  Yet
I can see that a great number are indeed comfortable, that our intellectual
heritage forms one of the great treasures of sentient accomplishment, and
that, given the violence of our biology, Vulcan has achieved remarkable
records in the areas of justice, equality and integrity.  Much that I would
not change in myself I owe to that culture.  I believe only that development
can still take place.  I have dedicated myself to allowing that development
to occur, in my personal awareness, perhaps ultimately to be shared with and
to influence my people... or perhaps not.  There may be no significant
findings... or the experiment may fail in other ways."

There was a question Kirk didn't want to ask.

Who?

Among all the crew -- the male crew, rather, that much was apparent -- which
one had Spock thought of while -- embarrassed, Kirk refused to picture what
hovered at the edge of his awareness.  Spock, such a private man, ought not
to be invaded even in thought.  He could almost forget, at times, as they
played chess or worked in tandem, Spock's uniqueness, but in this charged
emotional atmosphere it seemed imperative he collect his strength of
character, maintain himself at the Vulcan's level of integrity, and keep
even his thoughts from any absence of respect.

Yet -- who?  What would strike a Vulcan as desirable?  Tall and thin?  Not
necessarily, if it was specifically the humanness that attracted him.  "I
had already selected another" -- someone, then, of the original crew.  Below
command level, two-thirds had long transferred ... and some were dead.  Oh
god, not that.  Spock was telling him this for a reason, and most logically
it was because he had formed, or intended to form, a relationship and wanted
to bond with one of Kirk's crew.  And could not, ethically, do this without
Kirk's knowledge and consent.  Someone, of course, sharing Spock's
proclivities -- a Vulcan in love was still a Vulcan, and it would be
illogical to attempt such a relationship without some common sexual ground.
"In love".  It would take away their evenings, someone else would come
first.  Who?

Someone who had been around six years ago.  The Old Guard.  Who...

Sulu, with his secret love of light-hearted errantry and derring-do?

Chekov, impetuous, ardent, intense, ostensibly with nothing hidden -- but
then, who really fathomed his inmost thoughts?

Both of them had slept around, in friendly fashion, among sundry, not
exclusively female, crew members.  But as far as he knew (and a Captain had
better know such things) strictly within their own level of rank.  As per
regulations.  And in neither could he envision a sudden yen for the enforced
domesticity of the monogamous Vulcan bond.  Lord, damn few joined Starfleet
with the idea of settling down!  Could Spock, so rational, neglect to take
into account such human personality profile variants?  Surely not.

Who then?

An older man?  Scotty, or Bones?  Unimaginable!

Or was he being provincial?  Scotty cocked a conventional eye at "the
lasses", but what underlay that solid common sense and that paradoxical deep
sentimentality?  Hard-bitten discretion, for one thing.  No one had ever
known where the Chief Engineer ended up on shore-leave, though he invariably
began it over a bottle of single malt.  A natural reticence, or was there
something to hide?

McCoy -- complex, pugnacious -- certainly with an attitude he couldn't call
superficial toward Spock.  Was it possible?  Behind that ceaseless
needling, some angular need to be slapped down?  He'd suspected for years
that, deep inside, McCoy stood so in awe of Vulcan abilities that he'd had
no recourse but sarcasm.  His irascibility was not the overflow but really
the lid on seething passions of curiosity, involvement, dedication -- could
they be compatible with a masochistic love, or not?  He didn't know.  It was
just an area he'd never felt any intellectual impulse to explore.

There were still Old Guard among the ratings.  One or two in Science,
actually.  Kang, who was due to transfer in six weeks.  Could that be why?
Did Spock want to leave with Kang?

Who?  Who on all the Enterprise was going to take Spock away from him?

Or could it be someone Spock had met only once, in some long-ago planetfall
or space encounter?  But then there would be no need to ask his permission.

The questions had all flashed through his mind in a moment.  Spock was again
looking down at the meditation stone, as though summoning strength and
calmness for the revelation that yet lay ahead.

He set down the stone.  It made a little click against the table.

"Captain, I do not recall that you have ever expressed an opinion on
sadomasochistic sexual orientation."

Kirk tried to speak naturally.  "Whatever people have wanted to do has
always seemed okay to me."  He added, "Consensually, of course."

"You perhaps feel that sadomasochistic sexual expression, more than other
forms of sex, requires that proviso?"

"There is -- the possibility of confusion.  Or so I would think."  Kirk
smiled.  "Spock.  This isn't an area in which I claim any expertise."

"Nevertheless, Captain, your opinion -- your feelings, if you will, on the
subject, do interest me."

"I have no strong feelings.  It's simply something I've never thought about,
Spock."  The Vulcan continued to observe him, imperturbably.  "I suppose I
have... reservations."  He glanced at the com screen, and away again
hurriedly.  "The... visual images are... disturbing.  In my limited
experience the reality is -- well, quite different."  He thought of the two
or three embarrassingly uninteresting forays into domination that had been
more or less forced upon him.  "Not so well choreographed."  He smiled
wryly.

"In what way do the images disturb you, Captain?"

Spock wasn't going to let it go.  It was important to him.  He should be
used to Vulcan implacability in the pursuit of truth, by now.

"I know it's only an act.  A performance, maybe I should say.  But why do
people want to see it?  Because whatever is actually going on, what people
are turning on to, enjoying, is the concept of attacking someone
sexually."

"Or being attacked?"

"Yes.  And I admit I -- well, it bothers me, Spock.  You see what I mean?"

"Entirely.  But I cannot agree with you, in this instance.  There are
defectively socialized persons who would, of course, derive enjoyment from
such a concept.  For the overwhelming majority such enjoyment is
impossible."

"But Spock -- these films -- books, magazines -- they're made for thousands
-- millions.  It may be a minority, but it's a huge number of people!"

Spock inclined his head fractionally.  "True, Captain.  In maintaining that
few are capable of sexual enjoyment from the concept of assault, I intended
to assert that such visual media as you mention do not convey the concept of
assault, and thus cannot arouse enjoyment of that concept.  We, as
observers, cannot be unaware of the fictional nature of these presentations.
What we perceive, therefore is not, and cannot be, assault, nor do we react
to it as though it were so perceived."

"But is that true?  There was a moment there -- more than a moment -- when I
wondered if the human in this film was a willing participant.  On one level,
you're right, I knew the cuts, the close-ups, the clearness of the image,
the professional panning -- it had to be done over time, with a lot of
takes.  But the acting was so convincing, which isn't the case in most porn
films.  The actors are chosen for, um, other characteristics."

The Vulcan's right eyebrow rose, and descended.  "Vulcan pornographic film
is notable for the quality of the acting and filmmaking.  We see little
point in doing something if it is not to be done as well as possible.  But a
few moments cleared up your doubts?"

"Well, yes.  At least -- cases of coercion have been known, Spock, in
performances like this."

"Regrettably, that is the case.  Let me assure you these particular actors
are well-known, dedicated professionals, and, intending no offense, Captain,
such an instance of coercion has never occurred with Vulcan participants."

"I believe you," Kirk said quietly.  He felt a moment's shame to be debating
Spock's sexuality with him when the human record was so little comparable to
the Vulcan.  What did it matter what Spock wanted?  He would never harm
anyone to get it.  But it was Spock who had pressed for his opinion.

"My point is this, Captain.  Suppose such an attack to have occurred in
reality, in your presence.  What would your reactions have been?"

"I'd have stopped it, of course."

The shadow of warmth that Kirk had come to interpret as a smile passed over
Spock's expression.  "Characteristic, Captain.  I refer to your certainty of
success."

"If we're talking reality, I have a Federation starship to give me a slight
edge in the encounter."

"Taking another instance, supposing you were convinced or highly suspicions
that the video's filming had involved coercion?"

"I'd institute an official enquiry.  And I can see where you're heading.
All right, I admit any reaction I have to the film is based on my knowledge
that it's a voluntary fiction.  But is everyone always so clear on the
difference?"

"Indeed not.  Throughout human history there appear to have been startling
numbers who could not make the distinction -- whether in opposing
sadomasochistic practices or participating in them.  The latter type is now,
happily, exceedingly rare."

"And the other type?"

"Very prevalent.  Though hardly so violent as in previous eras."

"Violent?"  Kirk looked up.  Was Spock going to be in danger?

"Ironically, Captain.  Human zeal in pursuit of peace and love has
frequently ended in violence and bloodshed.  The inevitable result of
emotionality, to cite the traditional Vulcan view.  At the present time,
however, incidents are seldom more than verbal or discriminatory on some
non-violent level.  That is not to say that violence never occurs.  The
Terran actor," Spock turned slightly, his body movement indicating the com
screen, "has been the victim of such an attack within the past year."  A
strange tone, soft and gentle, came into the First Officer's voice.  "He is,
of course, most vulnerably public."  Kirk wondered at the sound, and felt a
twinge of directionless jealousy.  There was so much, far more than he had
ever imagined, that he didn't know about Spock.

"Strange they'd attack the boy, rather than the Vulcan, if they were
objecting to this sort of scene as real."

"Not real, Captain, but representing a reality, on a metaphysical or social
level.  The reasoning is generally a bit confused.  Terran psychologists
have long observed, however, a logic underlying much seemingly irrational
human behavior on cultural as well as individual levels -- a most
fascinating concept.  In cases of individual violence, it has been
noticeable that the overwhelming majority of victims have had one
characteristic in common:  that they were manifestly incapable of defending
themselves, thus ensuring the safety of the attacker.  A group of humans
could not easily have overcome an adult Vulcan, but another human would
present no threat to them."

"Yet that was exactly the essence of the type of relationship they were
objecting to," Kirk pointed out.

"Of its fictional structure, yes.  There is also reason to believe elements
of xenophobia motivated this particular attack.  However, the attackers were
never apprehended.  Their precise rationale remained obscure.

"Nevertheless, it was clear from their comments at the time that they
objected to the nature of the actor's sexuality and believed it harmful to
society.  Their own behavior they saw as remedial, the consensual sexual
behavior as sickness.  The psychology of the reasoning which permits them to
indulge in the very behavior that ostensibly so disturbs them needs, I
think, no explanation.

"As I mentioned, these reactions are unusual.  The issues raised are complex
and many responses are possible.  A negative response, however, is nearly
always predicated upon the equation of what is in fact happening with
something that is not happening at all.  It is a merging of symbol with
reality, of idea with act, that Vulcans find virtually impossible to grasp.

"In human psychology, however, confusion of act and idea has been nearly
universal until recently, and has underlain some curious thought patterns.
That a desire recognized, for example, is identical to a desire fulfilled.
Sinning in thought by merely allowing a wish to become conscious.  Needless
to say, the unconscious desire can be useful to manipulators, far more so
than any conscious longing, and here again we see the covert logic behind
the seemingly irrational.  The confusion that can be generated between the
unconscious desire and paths to satisfaction was exploited by your
religions, governments, and manufacturers, by substituting beliefs and
products for the direct satisfaction of an unacknowledged -- socially
unacknowledgeable -- desire.  It would be more accurate to say 'inserted the
beliefs and products between the desire and its satisfaction' because no
substitution could actually fulfill the desire; thus dissatisfaction
remained, to be further exploited.  This form of allurement, toward
products, at least, is now, of course, illegal throughout the Federation.
But the human psychological structure that permitted it to succeed still
exists.

"It is thought by some Vulcan sociologists that this failure to
differentiate between representation and reality has been responsible for
most, if not all, of your human wars and private violence, either directly
or indirectly.  Whether or not this is the case, the phenomenon is one that
generates distaste in some observers.  The distinction is so obvious to us
that it is difficult not to view the human confusion as deliberate and
willful.  I myself find it fascinating, close as it lies to the core of the
workings of the human subconscious."

Kirk had grown used to dispassionate discussion of human foibles.
Frequently he found himself engrossed in an analysis almost from a Vulcan
point of view.  Tonight it was hard to care about intellectual theses; all
their discussions would soon be at an end.  (Who?)  But he must make an
effort.

"It seems to me the way they used the kashta sash in this film would be
likely to trigger some pretty strong Vulcan reactions to a symbol," he
commented.

Spock looked approving.  "Precisely, Captain.  One of the philosophical
propositions of the film is a re-emphasis on the Nome tenet of the danger of
romanticizing mere symbols.  In Vulcan terms, this means mainly the
reverencing of that which is old.  The filmmaker -- who is the principal
Vulcan actor -- reminds us that the kashta originated in a violent culture,
where it was regarded as a decorative or utilitarian item.  There is also
the suggestion that Vulcan tradition is becoming a form of bondage."

Kirk stared.  He was used to the subtle messages Spock detected so easily in
S'kanderai films, but -- in porno?

Yes.   It would be like them.  It fit.

Fantastic as it seemed from whatever angle he looked at it, if Vulcans were
going to make pornography, that was just the way they would go about it.

Well, humans had had a few flings at art porno in various genres.  It
usually got pretty clunky when they tried to use it for philosophical and
social commentary though.  The Vulcans would have an advantage there.  They
could trust their audiences to pick up on the most gossamer connections --
they might not worship symbols, but they sure knew how to use them!  It let
them skip a lot of exposition and still get the point across.  Very handy.

It also left their art unintelligible to the average human.  After a couple
of years' study, he could follow the plots; Spock would mark terms or
objects for footnoting by the computer, and he was catching on.  He still
lost a lot of the nuances; but he loved the tantalizing way the meanings
opened out, and the thrill he got when he came upon an allusion he did
understand.  It was, literally and figuratively, another world.

A world never invaded by more than the most delicate and distant reference
to sex.

Spock interrupted his rapid thoughts.  "I have digressed, Captain.  You have
told me how you would have reacted in the two hypothetical situations.  How
did you react to the film as it actually is?"

I was terrified.

The one thing he had to conceal at all costs.  A reflex almost quicker than
feeling itself.  Hide fear.  Hide hurt.  Cover up.

"Well, I had mixed feelings."  That wasn't a lie.  "I suppose the strongest
was just amazement at seeing Vulcans in those scenes." The terror hadn't
been a reaction to the film per se -- it was a reaction to the idea of
getting caught.

So he still wasn't lying.  "Why do you ask?"  Changing the subject wasn't
lying either.

Spock was silent for a moment, watching him.  His voice was entirely
courteous when he said, "I would like to know what the other 'mixed'
feelings were, Captain."

Damn it!  "All right.  I admit I did find it shocking.  I turned it off."

"Yes."  The word held a curious lack of finality.  Spock waited.

"And I admired the acting.  The Terran was outstanding for someone so young.
The Vulcan was superb.  I've never seen so much expression on a Vulcan
face."

Spock waited silently.  Kirk sighed.

With a smile, he turned his head aside and then down.  "Spock."  He looked
up.  "Is there some... particular reaction you're wondering about?  If so,
you might save time by just asking me about it."

"Possibly, Captain." There was a minute pause, during which Spock's facial
muscles seemed to tense almost imperceptibly.  "Did you experience a sexual
response to the film?"

Kirk's mouth opened.  Then he closed his eyes.

"Spock."

His eyes flew open and he pointed.  "If -- I answer that question..."  He
smiled again.  "Will you come right out and tell me why you're asking it?"

Spock inclined his body slightly.  "That is my intention, Captain."  At the
momentary strain in the Vulcan's voice Kirk felt renewed compassion.  It
would seem the worst was over, but apparently Spock worried that his lover
might be somehow unacceptable to his captain.  Best to get this all over
with.

"I felt," he began, "some response, yes.  I suppose it's pretty unavoidable
in humans, with enough stimulus.  I didn't like it, because -- well, we've
been through that.  I still can't help feeling it's like reacting sexually
to assault."

"And I assure you that it is not."

Kirk held up a palm.  "I'll take it under advisement.  And I did have
another reaction.  I -- worried you would find me watching pornography on
your screen.  I didn't know you'd already seen it and I thought -- it might
offend you."  There.  Now everything was out in the open.

Spock lowered his eyelids in assent.  "Thank you, Captain."  He added, "I
should explain that though I began my researches six years ago, I have not,
till now, felt the certainty that permits me to initiate matters with you.
It has been only some four years since I gradually began to comprehend the
full truth of my sexuality.  I now believe that the absence of a continual
hormonal compulsion combined with repressive education, makes it especially
easy for Vulcans to remain unaware of any singularities in their sexual
makeup.  I was greatly unsettled by the nature of my discoveries,
particularly insofar as they concerned a person who could not, I was sure,
complement my needs.  Subsequent observation, however, has led me to
theorize that the Vulcan bond-mind -- which might be described as a form of
telepathic subconscious -- selects, when left to itself, unerringly."

Kirk, inwardly, smiled.  Whatever the loss to himself, it was pure pleasure
to know that Spock's dilemma would have a happy solution; and the accuracy
of his own guess amused him.  Only with someone on board could Spock have
found opportunity to make observations leading to such intimate knowledge.
Who had Spock particularly attended to...?

"But for some time I lived without hope of a partner, believing my desires
entirely unreciprocated.  I pursued my explorations with no end in mind but
extension of my own self-knowledge, and knowledge of Vulcan sexual
parameters.  Also, I realized that the time would come when knowledge of
this field could be crucial to my survival.  Indeed, only by the closest
study could a recent obscure experiment in hormonal antibody generation have
become known to me.  The approach holds out hope, I believe, for those who
desire to remain celibate.

"That would, once, have been my choice.

"Should you oppose my wish to mate, it will be my least unpleasant remaining
avenue."

"Spock --"  Kirk searched briefly for words.  "I appreciate your awareness
that -- certain awkward issues are bound to crop up in Enterprise command.
But I hope you know that I would never oppose your intentions in such a
personal matter.  I hope --"  Oddly, the words he had said so many times, to
so many of his crew, seemed to stick, suddenly, in his throat.  He forced a
warm tone.  "I hope you'll be very happy.  And now before my curiosity kills
me, tell me:  who's the, er, other man."  He'd almost said "the lucky man"
but it had seemed too flippant.

Spock was looking at him with a very intent expression.

"Captain," he said finally, "perhaps I have been too indirect.  It may be a
Vulcan habit in matters of this nature.  Yet I find it almost incredible
that you have failed to understand me.  Let me now, however, be entirely
explicit.

"I wish you for my bondmate."

Kirk sat absolutely still.

He felt as though he had been penetrated to the heart by a stun-ray.  For a
moment he thought he was going to fall.

Spock wants ... me?

Me.

What he felt was a puff like air, a huge glitter of pride and flattery.

Me!

Spock wanted him!

What Spock wanted --

A shudder rose through him from butt to throat.

Spock wanted to --

Spock thought --

A blush flooded over him.

It started as a sense of warmth at the back of his mouth and blushed out
over him in fountains of heat.  He could feel himself reddening in wave
after wave of ever-deeper color, till it seemed as though his whole body
were blushing, blushing at what Spock thought.  It felt as if even his toes
were blushing, even his --

Decades of urbanity flamed away.

He was onstage at his School Pageant.  He was a little Iowa farmboy who had
completely forgotten his lines.

He was younger than any of the other plebes at the Academy by over two
years.  On the night of a scramble drill, someone had painstakingly sewn
shut the tops of all his trousers and underpants.

Naked and with no part to play, he could only let the waves of red pass over
him like prairie fire.

His gaze had been fixed on Spock and he had been too paralyzed even to look
away.  Spock's own eyes were lit with compassion.

"I regret that I could not accustom you to these ideas more gradually,
Captain.  It is only recently that I have determined my chances of success
to be sufficiently high to justify approaching you.  Should you refuse the
bond, it will be imperative that I devote as much of the coming year as
possible to my own hormone antibody research.  Seven years is merely an
average cycle; no one can predict the exact date of onset of pon farr."  His
voice was gentle.  "I have delayed longer than is entirely safe.  I must
know what is to be between us.

"I can allow no more than two weeks for your decision."

My god, Kirk thought a little wildly, if this is Vulcan courting, no
wonder their mates are chosen for them.

The flaming tide was receding.

It left icy bubbles of panic in its trace.

He was a Starship captain.

This panic, somehow so intimate, so unexpected and inexplicable, would not
conquer him again.  Deliberately, he calmed himself.  Spock was his beloved
friend.  Spock would do nothing to harm him.  There was nothing to be afraid
of.  He, indeed, must hurt Spock now.  It was a tragic error the Vulcan had
made, he could only suppose the stresses of that long-ago pon farr had
twisted and misclassified Spock's friendship for him, imprinting on him,
perhaps, as the focus of release from pon farr.  It was horrifying that
Spock's logical mind could be led by a moment's imbalance to base so many
hopes on such a blatantly impossible premise.  But it was a cause for
sorrow, not fear.

He had to say something.  He couldn't sit there forever with, he suddenly
realized, his mouth half-open.

He swallowed on dryness.  Where could you start?  The miscalculation was so
colossal...

"Spock, I'm -- honored."  He swallowed again, suddenly repressing tears.  It
hurt to have to say the next thing.  "I can't bond with you, Spock."  He
couldn't go on.  The poor lonely --

"May I ask your reasons, Captain?"

How can he be so blind?  Go easy...

"Spock, my sexuality just isn't compatible with yours."

Spock reclasped his hands behind his back.  "That, Captain, is a point on
which I must disagree."

Kirk stared at the calm figure in the blue tunic, feeling as if he had been
slammed back against a wall.

"What?"

"Captain, it is my belief that your sexuality is entirely, even ideally,
compatible with my own."

"That's --"  The breath seemed to have been knocked out of him.  "Spock,
have you ever known me to express the slightest sexual interest in a male?
In seven years?"

"Indeed not, Captain.  That uniqueness of your sexual pattern was what first
led me to hypothesize an extremely strong repression of equally strong
homoerotic leanings."

"What?"  Kirk was off the bed with fists clenched.  Then, "What do you
mean, 'unique'?  There are plenty of heterosexuals right in this crew!"

"Indubitably, Captain.  But none who, like you, show no trace whatsoever of
homoerotic awareness in their psychological indices.  In human psychological
graphing, this is known to have but one possible interpretation."

"Bullshit!  If I were queer it would say so on my psych profile."

The Vulcan displayed no change of expression.  "Ordinarily, Captain, that
would be the case.  Not, however, in an instance of such violent repression,
with such extremely satisfactory adjustment as your own.  As restructuring
is deemed most difficult, if not impossible, it is thought best not to
confront the subject with the findings.  Since, as Captain, you have access
to every record on the ship, interpretation of that graph was deleted before
your record was entered in the ship's computer.  No crewmember with a
similar graph would be assigned to the Enterprise."

Spock added, "I violate this principle in revealing my hypothesis to you
only because I believe it has become essential to your happiness and
well-being that I do so."

"Hypothesis!"  Kirk rapped out.  "You have no confirmation of this
'hypothesis' from Starfleet?"

"None whatever, Captain."

"And no proof?"

"None."

Though what a Vulcan called "proof" --

"Mr. Spock, are you aware of the psychological principle we call 'wish
fulfillment'?"

"I am, Captain.  It is not a phenomenon to which Vulcans are subject,
however."

That jolted Kirk back to a level of mere irritation, which he tried to keep
out of his voice.

"Spock, are you certain of that?  Don't you see that this makes no sense?
If I were homosexual, why would I want to hide it from myself?  It's not as
if I'd been brought up to think it was anything to be ashamed of.  Hell, I
grew up in Iowa, not somewhere in the middle of the Mao Belt!"  He felt
his sense of proportion coming back.  He shouldn't have snapped at Spock
like that earlier.  After all, it was nothing to be ashamed of.  It was
just that Spock had taken him so by surprise, and his reasoning had been so
unfair.  Queer because he wasn't queer!  But now he was completely calm.
His voice took on the tones of compassionate persuasion.  "Even if I were
homosexual, Spock, there's still the matter of --" He gestured at the com
unit.  "-- that."

"It is my belief, Captain, that your sexuality complements mine in every
way."

"And that I'm keeping that, too, a secret from myself."

"That is correct, Captain."

Kirk was filled with pity.  "Doesn't that seem just too much of a
coincidence, Spock?  That I should be repressing two major sexual
orientations, both of which would be needed to make me your -- ideal mate?"

"On the contrary, Captain.  It accounts for the strength of your need to
repress all homoeroticism."'

The skin on Kirk's palms and face felt cold.  "Explain, Mr. Spock."

"Population indices from the region as well as your own psychological
profile show that while hostility to homosexuality might have become
virtually a thing of the past during the period of your youth, role
expectations for males and females still obtained there.  Males were
expected to be assertive, dominant, active.  The sexual was believed to
image the social; male masochists were therefore subject to ridicule and
discrimination.  The comparative breakdown of sexual taboos had made male
masochism more visible, which in turn had allowed hostility to it to become
more institutionalized.  Practices which were unknown to the conventional
members of the previous generation had become the subject of ritualized
humor in media, and communal derision of the individual."

"So?"  His legs were wobbly from all that adrenalin he'd let get the better
of him.  Since he was now perfectly at ease, there was no reason not to sit
down.  He sat on the bed again and casually picked up one of the magazines.

The page it was folded open to showed things he hadn't known were physically
possible.  Computerwork, it had to be.  Casually he turned a page.  Oh my
god.

What was Spock saying?

"Community standards are enough to keep a human sexual predilection hidden,
but seldom enough to keep it completely unexpressed.  I therefore
hypothesize extreme negative reinforcement within the family unit which
rendered you incapable of expressing your masochism even in your own mind.
It was buried, and with it the homoeroticism that would call forth all your
true sexual feelings."

"'True', Spock?  Wouldn't you say one's true sexual feelings were those one
does in fact feel?  Not something a person rejected before even knowing the
meaning of sex?"

"Ordinarily, Captain."

"You keep saying that, Spock.  Making me out a long string of exceptions to
the rule.  Occam's Razor, Spock.  Is it likely?  Logically?"

"Logic does not depend on likelihood but on fact.  It is therefore upon fact
that I build my hypothesis."

"Fact?  That I feel something I don't feel, and the proof that I feel it is
that I don't feel it?  Look, Spock, you just have to accept that this time
you're wrong.  For whatever reason, your logic has gotten off the track
somewhere.  I'm truly sorry.  But that's final."

"I have allowed you two weeks in which to reach your decision.  I will
accept no statement as final until that period has expired."

Amazement and anger widened Kirk's eyes.  "I said that's final, Commander.
Do I make myself clear?"

Spock's dark gaze rested on him in silence.  A strange depth seemed to open
in the darkness, drawing in, a power of absorption that blotted up
awareness.  The Vulcan's skin too seemed flushed with the dark lure, a
beauty like visible force.  Abruptly Spock turned his back and Kirk stared
at him in the continuing silence.  Finally the Vulcan spoke, his tone flat
with finality.

"This matter is not subject to your orders, Captain, unless you have me
physically removed.

"The choice," he said more softly, "is yours.  But do not mistake me.  If we
are both on this ship in two weeks' time, I will have you."  He turned
around.  His eyes were cold.  "I will not ask your consent.  I will decide
the time and the place."  But his breath, incredibly, was unsteady.  "I will
take you, Captain, in whatever manner and with whatever prolongations I
choose."

Kirk was on his feet.  "I can't believe this!"  He flung the magazine onto
the bed.  "You're threatening to rape --"  Unexpectedly the pronoun loomed
perilously emotional, through his anger he was astonished to feel tears
prickle behind his eyelids.  "-- to rape your commanding officer!  Have you
lost your mind?  Do you expect me to just let you -- Spock, what in the hell
are you trying to do?"

"Your alternative is clear, Captain."

When Kirk stared blankly, the Vulcan clasped his hands behind his back.

"You may have me transferred off the Enterprise."

Vertigo knocked Kirk's knees from under him, and he found himself sitting,
again, on the bed.

"Spock..."

"The choice, as I said, is yours."

"Choice?"  Bitter heat poured into his voice.  "Put out or lose you?  Is
that your idea of a choice?"  The painful prickling in his eyes swept back.
To his horror, he felt one small drop escape control and touch his cheek in
its fall.

"My Jim!"  In two strides Spock was with him.  Hard hands gripped his arms.
Kirk could feel the trembling of the restraint on Vulcan strength.  The
face, so familiar, was alien again in its indefinable transformation,
demanding, urgent.

"Captain -- it is I who have no choice.  Unbonded, I must not be near you at
the onset of pon farr.  Afterward... I dare not."  Slowly the strong fingers
relaxed their grip and fell away.  Kirk stared, mesmerized, up at the
strong, intent, beautiful face -- beautiful...  "It would be torture to me.
Already I find my efficiency level impaired by -- thoughts of you.  Indeed
--"  Spock backed away.  "Indeed, it has been the case for some time."

"It hasn't been noticeable."  Maybe if --

"It has been noticeable to me, Captain." Control was recovered.  An eyebrow
canted fractionally.  "I assure you."

"You said -- torture."

"An exaggeration."  (Vulcans don't exaggerate, Kirk thought.  On the
contrary.) "Nevertheless, Captain, you must allow me to be the judge of how
much distraction I am able to tolerate without danger to the Enterprise.
These things are not known to human psychologists."

"But where will you go?  What will you -- pon farr --"

Motionless, Spock appeared to recede into immeasurable distance.  "As I have
said, there are possible alternatives."  The power gathered again, the
disturbing darkness of eye and voice.  "It is not your concern.  I suggest
you concentrate on your two alternatives:  to have me transferred, or
become subject to my sexual requirements.  This decision is your first task
in our new relationship.  Should you wish to research the nature of your
prospective duties-- "  The coolly sardonic gaze fell to the bed.  "My
resources will be available to you."

Kirk's face flamed.  "Has it occurred to you, Mister, that I have the third
alternative of throwing you in the brig and busting your ass back to
lieutenant so fast you'll see warp streaks?"

"Naturally the possibility had occurred to me.  I calculate the probability
at significantly less than 8.7 percent.  Because, Captain, your true desires
coincide with mine, though the breakdown of your repressions may be
accompanied by exaggerated reactions against that concept.  You will notice
that your reactions have already been uncharacteristically repudiative.  The
human subconscious is versatile in protecting itself against knowledge or
actions which it fears.  It may ultimately prove impossible for you to admit
that you wish to be possessed in exactly the way I have described."

"You --"  Kirk fought the break of fury in his throat.  What was happening
to him?  His emotions had slammed him up, down and around like a ball in a
zero-G racquet court, out of control, irrational -- was this how a Vulcan
felt if any emotion at all seeped through the cracks?  He should be calm, he
should -- should have sensible suggestions -- send Spock for a psychiatric
evaluation?  Send himself, next in line?  How did a Starship captain respond
to such an ultimatum from his most trusted officer and -- valued friend?
The madness of it had him on the ropes, unbalanced --

"Spock, be reasonable.  This whole thing is nothing but a fantasy!  You said
pon farr could come on early -- maybe it is, maybe it's affecting your
judgment."

"Captain, it is your judgment that is somewhat impaired, by your conflicting
desires."

"Goddamn it!  One person can't know what another person wants!  Not the
way you mean, overriding what they say and assuming some superior
knowledge!"

"A human cannot."

"Oh, Vulcans are so naturally superior they can't be wrong, is that it?"

"Captain, you are allowing resistance to cloud your reasoning powers.  You
are perfectly aware that Vulcans possess capabilities which do not exist in
humans."

"The great IQ has it all figured out!"  He was fighting with Spock!  It was
terrifying, it was the universe turning upside down, it was the end of
everything and he couldn't control what was happening.  Why did his
responses sound so childish -- so brattish! -- when he knew he was right?
What Spock was doing was wrong -- wrong!  Anyone could see that!

"Intellect," Spock was saying, "has little or nothing to do with it.
Intellectual knowledge of another's desires must always contain an element
of supposition, however logically that knowledge may be derived."

"Well your supposition is dead wrong, Mister."

"You persist in misunderstanding me, Captain.  My knowledge of your hidden
wishes is not the result of intellection."

"A little bird told you?  Or maybe you read my --" -- and like a silent
lightningbolt the unspoken word imploded in Kirk's body. Mind.  He read my
--  He was looking at Spock yet a blackness had fallen over his vision, as
if there were nothing there, no room for anything but the stunned
revelation, a physical thing occupying all space, inside or out.  He read --

He felt that something heavy behind him was sinking, dragging him, down,
down -- yet he stood, Spock was still there, and he had to say something.
Deny.  Explain.  Reason.  Protect.

He couldn't.  There were no thoughts, almost no sensation.  There was only a
terrible silence in him that felt as if it could go on, on, take him over,
and swallow him always.  It would be possible to turn, away, into it, make
everyone else just do all coping and dealing with everything.  It would be a
luxury, a completely barbaric indulgence.

One he couldn't bring himself to take.

It was necessary to be there.

To respond.

To make the effort.

It was the law.  The Prime Directive of his being that he had never
questioned.

It was so hard.

It had been intrinsic as breathing.  Only now it seemed like picking up an
enormous burden, one he had exhausted himself carrying across hundreds,
thousands of kilometers of stone.  It was necessary.

The first words were like standing up heavy, heavy, out of supporting water:

"Are you saying you saw this in my mind?"

"My... attraction to you has created a sensitivity to the nuances of your
mind's patterns.  Vulcans avoid touching others because touch may convey
information of a private nature.  With non-telepaths, the information is
usually extremely vague; we do not normally become aware of more than a
general attitude or emotional state from such contacts.  As you are aware,
however, states of emotion can be highly unpleasant to Vulcan perceptions.
I therefore ordinarily avoid personal contact in day-to-day interactions,
even though no breach of privacy would be likely to result.

"It is reprehensible in me not to have warned you of my enhanced sensitivity
in your case.  But from the start the nature of my discoveries was so
intimate that I found it impossible to introduce the subject.  The Vulcan
training that results in reticence on sexual matters may thus lead us into
ethically indefensible courses of behavior.  Again and again I violated your
privacy when you initiated physical contacts.  Later, I was able to realize
that the sexual content of your thoughts need not be revealed.  Your sexual
thoughts were so unavailable to your conscious mind that I could, without
embarrassment to either of us, simply have mentioned my perceptive ability
to you.  But I did not do so.

"I had become unwilling to relinquish those seconds of intimacy.  The
glimpses into your mind were the greatest treasures of my existence.  I
refrained from initiating contact, but made no attempt to avoid your touch.

"Still later, when I began to form my complete hypothesis as to your sexual
orientation, I desired additional data.  In order not to intrude on
extraneous matters, I selected moments at which subconscious masochism or
homoeroticism might be expected to be stimulated.  At such moments I would
establish physical contact.

"I do not attempt to justify these intrusions.

"I found evidence to support my hypothesis, in such profusion that my second
hypothesis seemed confirmed.  I had suspected that the barriers to conscious
awareness of your desires were crumbling.  I now definitely believe this to
be occurring.  If my telepathic contacts with these areas of your mind have
brought this about, insofar as it may cause you any unhappiness, I express
my sincere regret."

Kirk stood.  "I think you've explained your position sufficiently, Mr.
Spock.  Now understand this.  There is nothing -- I repeat, nothing --
aboard my ship that is not subject to my orders.  If you persist in your
proposed course you will be in a state of insubordination and, depending on
your actions, possibly mutiny.

"You are the finest First Officer in the Fleet.  Think what this would do to
your record, Mr. Spock.  You couldn't conceivably continue in Starfleet.
Think of the shame to your clan, your parents, your father's work, if all
this had to become a matter of record.  Think, Spock."

Spock's inclination of acknowledgment was formally cool.  "Captain, it has
been my privilege on several occasions to observe your play at the game of
poker.  In the matter of disaster scenarios, allow me to see you and raise
you:  consider the effects of such revelations upon Starfleet Command.  And,
which I know will be the higher stakes for you, upon the crew of the
Enterprise."

Kirk looked at him with compressed lips.

"I won't be blackmailed, Spock."

"Of course, Captain.  I merely suggest that, should my removal from the ship
become necessary, it can be accomplished most simply and quietly in the
manner I have proposed."

"But why, Spock?  Why set up this opposition?  We can work together, find a
way -- bring McCoy in on it --"

"I have considered the problem for over nine months, Captain.  I found no
other solution.  That is, no other solution that would provide me with the
sexual partner I desire."

"This won't either!  I've told you that's not an option.  Give up on it,
Spock, and let us help you.  We can find a way out."

"That is precisely my point, Captain.  I do not wish to find a way out.  I
wish you to be my bondmate, and my chances of attaining that goal are
sufficiently high to justify the attempt."

Kirk felt the color draining from his face.  It took him a moment to find
his voice.  "You've calculated the odds?"

"Naturally, Captain."  The right eyebrow was raised.

"The odds that I'd -- that you could --"  He stuttered to a stop.  His voice
was little more than a whisper.  "You bastard!"

"Most unlikely, Captain.  The genetic engineering attendant on my conception
was such that --"

"Shut up!"  One arm flung wildly as though throwing something away.   He
could hardly get breath into his lungs.  "Just shut up.  I don't want any
more of your Vulcan crap."

"Then perhaps it is best that we conclude this discussion."

Kirk stood breathing hard, feeling as if the rug had been jerked out from
under him.  Spock added, "I have nothing further to communicate to you at
this time.  Your adrenalin level is probably optimal."

Kirk felt his expression change.

"Optimal, Captain, for imprinting this moment and these concepts strongly on
your mind's subconscious levels.  I think you will find there will be few
moments in the next two weeks when my proposal will be absent from your
thoughts."

"'Proposal', Mr. Spock?  Don't you mean 'ultimatum'?"

Spock started to reply, then looked down.  When he met Kirk's glare it was
with an expression of the faintest amusement.

"Your defiant attitude is most alluring, Captain.  I look forward to the
measures that will be necessary to subdue it.  At present, however, I
require privacy for meditation.  I find I am to some extent unsettled by..."
He paused and his voice went silken.  "...anticipation."

The look that accompanied the words was an open provocation.  l'm going to
hit him, Kirk realized incredulously.

Illegal.

Degrading.

And useless, as he had had occasion to discover.  Spock could absorb any
punch he could throw, without blinking.  Could knock him across the room
with one backhand swat.

But I'm going to --

With a guttural sound far down in his throat he whirled and lunged out of
the room.  The door of Spock's quarters barely had time to get out of his
way.  Storming through the corridors he heard startled murmurs in his wake,
but scarcely registered the faces he passed.  It was only when he saw the
turbolift that he realized he'd been making for the Bridge.

Like a horse heading back to a burning barn, totally instinctive.  But the
Bridge was the last place he could go in this state.

His quarters.  He had to keep this to himself, till he could think it
through.

When his own doors closed behind him he knew he'd made the right choice.  He
was shaking.

Shocked, he lifted his hands and watched them trembling with anger, with
wanting to -- wanting... he wanted a drink, if he couldn't take violent
action.

The neck of the bottle chattered against the glass. My god.  He hadn't
shaken like this since his first for-real torpedo kill.  He'd had nightmares
about burning Klingons for weeks.  He could still see them if --

He slugged back brandy and half-choked on it.

He'd only been a kid on that cruise, acting gunner for someone with a
splintered clavicle.  The battleship that attacked had somehow managed to
jam intercoms with their own signals, so all he could hear was Klingonaase
gibberish, nothing coming through from the Bridge or Weapons Chief -- it
turned out she'd been killed in the first direct hit.  And he'd fired
without orders, using the deck terminal.  Missed.  Rekeyed.  Missed.  It was
as if he could still feel the keys under his fingers, the seconds shearing
away -- recorrected, fired --

Hit.

And heard the Klingons die, trapped in a blossoming hell and seared alive.

They gave him a medal for it.

Much later he realized they always gave you medals for the things you
wouldn't want to remember.

He hadn't thought of it in over fifteen years.  At least not like this, in
full color and sound --

Why was he remembering it now, of all times?

The second slug of brandy lined his gullet with heat and his head with fumes
simultaneously.  He gasped.  Captunn, he could hear Scotty saying in
injured tones, will y' show no respect for the nectar o' the gods...  But
his hands had stopped shaking.  He still wanted to do something physical,
sweat out the shock.  The gym -- too many people.

He poured more brandy and set it on the desk.  The room around him wasn't
cluttered.  Somehow there'd never seemed to be time to get the knick-knacks
other people used to offset Starfleet's sense of decor.  But bare as it was,
there was still no room to pace.  He knew.  He'd tried.

Often lately he'd looked around and noticed the bareness and crampedness of
the space he supposedly lived in.  But he spent so little time there, except
asleep -- and little enough of that -- that it couldn't really matter.  His
home was the Bridge.

Now, though -- my god, it looks like a prison cell.  He'd be spending a
lot more time here.

Spock.

His anger tried to turn him from the thought.  But he could not turn away.
He had to deal with this -- madness! -- of Spock's, and immediately.
Transfer him?

No!

It would just be admitting defeat to do that.  Neither of Spock's
alternatives was acceptable.  Then what?  What, in fact, was Spock really up
to?

The thought hit him like a sledgehammer.

"Vulcans don't lie" -- unless they damn well feel like it!  How many times
had Spock tricked him, maneuvered him, misled him and just plain flat-out
lied to get a result he considered essential?  Vulcans didn't lie to save
their own hides, or for social reasons, status, money -- but give a Vulcan
some noble cause and no white man with a handful of beads and a winning
smile could come near him for sheer, baldfaced, forked-tongued guile and
duplicity.

That had to be it.  Something Spock wanted, for the good of -- what?  The
Enterprise, the Federation?  Kirk himself?  Something so impossible he had
to take this fantastic route to it?

Excitedly he picked up the glass and drained it.  A transfer, for some
reason?  Spock could request and get one, to virtually any station or ship
he wanted, no need for this wild charade.  No, it had to be something so
incredibly weird and bizarre as to justify the elaborate preparations.
Never had Spock spoken at that length about himself.  Kirk's certainty
wavered a fraction.  In fact, every time Spock had lied in the past, it had
been in the briefest possible words, as if they burned his lips.  And the
magazines and video... they could be faked, but it would cost -- the video
alone, millions for that kind of computerwork.

And Spock could be deceitful, in his impassive way, but was he an actor?
That moment when the shell had cracked, when Spock had clutched at him in
desperation -- it took Vulcan actors years of practice to be able to show
half that emotion in their eyes, or anything close to the breathtaking
intensity that had stunned Kirk.  And that dark shadow of change that had
passed over him...

It was not the first time Spock's extraordinary beauty had stopped him in
mid-breath.  Days would pass, Spock being merely an officer absorbed in his
job, looking as prosaic as anyone else aboard.  Then a turn of the head, a
precise shade of expression, some indefinable fall of light -- and there it
was again, the smoldering sensuality in lines of the eyelids and full, long
mouth, an Egyptian elegance of form like silken carving down the side of the
face, coloring deepened in darker outline of features:  a Spock of an
imperial beauty beyond gender, as cliffs of ice, and moons, stained with
alien fire, are beyond it, as any truly beautiful thing is.  These, at
least, had been his thoughts as he had tried to recover, numbed as if by a
shock, from the first impact of the vision.

That had been a year ago, and he still felt himself hypnotized every time he
saw it.  He'd come to think of it as the second natural wonder of the
*Enterprise* -- the first of course being any port or screen that showed the
stars.  He'd tried to find out if anyone else had noticed it, and thought he
had caught a few sidelong, puzzled glances at the First Officer here and
there.  Uhura, once, had been drinking him in, her lips slightly parted with
wonder, and then without warning had turned and looked Kirk straight in the
eyes.  The questioning amazement of her expression had seemed directed at
him, oddly enough, rather than at Spock.  He'd hurriedly looked back at the
planetary ore survey readings on his screen.  He hadn't known whether to be
relieved or worried that what he saw in Spock's face was visible to others.

And then he began to see it in the movements of the long Vulcan body.  There
was no grace like the grace of strength.  You could see it in animals, in
athletes... and god, you could see it in Vulcans, any time they laid aside
their stiff carapace of dignity to move fast, or forgot themselves in some
breakout of emotion.  But he'd begun to detect it even in Spock's everyday
motions, at his station, in the lab, at chess, most of all, of course, in
the gym --

Could this somehow be part of a physical condition that was causing Spock
delusions?  He sipped another small brandy.  Maybe Spock really believed in
some emergency that didn't exist, maybe he even believed what he'd said
about himself.  Reluctantly, Kirk discarded the idea of a diabolical
Spockian plot.  Reliving the urgency of that moment, the almost intoxicating
intensity of Spock's nearness, his entreaty --  No.  In that, Spock could
not lie.

He looked down at the brandy glass in surprise.  He shouldn't be drinking,
he needed a clear head.  He needed to be thinking about how to get out of
this situation, turn back the clock, show it had all been an aberration they
could attribute to -- hormone imbalance, alien mind control, sunspots -- and
go back to zero, bury it, forget it ever happened by next week.  He needed
to be finding a way out.  That had always been his specialty --

Instead, like an afterimage of a too-bright flare, all he could feel was the
place where Vulcan hands had closed on him, all he could hear the words "My
Jim!"

__________________________

End of Part One, Intreat Me Not to Leave Thee

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