DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is owned by Paramount. Anything you recognize doesn't belong to me, it belongs to them. Copyright (c) 2001 by Jade Nocturnias. Rated: NC-17 no question! (I figured, why not start things off with a Boom. Not a bang, but a boom!) WARNING! This story contains graphic elements of sexuality including domination/submission/coercion. If this is not your type of story, read no further.

Captives of Desire

Jade Nocturnias

His body was covered with a thin sheen of sweat. It made his skin slick. His body glistened in the light of the three moons of Renata. He gasped again; he couldn't keep track of how many times he'd made the sound in the past hour. It came from him reluctantly. He wasn't used to feeling emotions, and the raw, primal desire he was caught in the throes of was all but overwhelming his sanity. He forced himself to relax. He couldn't fight the drug; he'd already tried. Ironically, what logic he had left in him to command told him to finish what had begun so that the fierce heat in his mind and body would be swept away with the Proxitan. But....

It was not an easy thing to do, especially under the circumstances. At that thought he opened his eyes and looked down at the woman who lay beneath him.

She, too, had been given the drug. Although it wasn't really necessary to drug the female, they had done it to make the experience more pleasant for her. Her body was silk beneath his, gleaming with sweat as his did. One of the effects of the Proxitan. She sensed his change and opened her eyes. They were like pools of arctic water, dark and blue. At the moment they were filled with the same desire he felt. Beneath the passion they both felt shame and anger, more than they ever could have on Platonius. That had been indecent. This was...heinous.

But even as they shared that thought through the link that had formed from their prolonged physical contact, the desire continued to make its way through their bodies. And because of the link, it only went from one to the other in a continuous circle of aching need. It was more intense than anything either of them had ever experienced, with the possible exception of the mating drive he endured every seven years. That a drug such as this one existed had been unknown to the Federation. Now they were all too aware of it. Her arms wound around his neck. Their eyes met and locked. They each saw reflected in the other the humiliation they both felt. And once again he could do nothing to stop it.

His lips parted to tell her he was sorry, but before he could speak she covered his mouth with hers. 'Shhh,' her mind thought to his. 'You spend too much time apologizing to me as it is.'

He managed a small laugh in her mind. When they'd first been captured and found out they were going to be used as entertainment for the Jistanah, everyone had refused to cooperate. The captain had made angry speeches, only to be cut off when he'd been bound and gagged and handed over to some servants to be "corrected" for his attitude. After this incident, the Jistanah did not waste time trying to reason with anyone else. He had merely pointed one long, slender finger at them. As they were dragged away, he had called a halt. He'd looked at each one of them; Uhura, Spock, Sulu, Davidson and Christine.

He'd pointed again, first at Spock and then at Christine. The others were led away as the two of them had been dragged back. He studied them for a moment, taking in Spock's darkness and Christine's fairness. Then he'd clapped his hands, walking away to his jewel-encrusted throne. Guards had come and stripped them of their clothes. About 30 feet away from the throne was a large heap of satin-covered pillows on the ground. They'd been pulled to them. A man with a star tattooed on each hand came. He had held a bowl with a pale red liquid.

Anticipating that they would refuse to drink, one guard had put a knife at Christine's throat while the man had given the bowl to Spock. He knew he had no choice. He drank. Another man had done the same thing to Spock to compel Christine to drink another bowl of the fiery liquid. Then, strangely, everyone had left them alone. Before either of them could even speak, it had started. It was like being on fire inside.

Now they were moments away from beginning the act they'd both tried to resist. Christine had a hunch that the Jistanah was hiding somewhere and watching them. At least they had been left alone in the room, she thought. If she had to endure being watched right now she thought she would die. Her shame was almost tangible, as was Spock's. But when it had become apparent that it was out of their control, they'd mentally agreed to try and make the experience bearable.

The kiss continued. He shuddered against her. His sanity felt as though it were threatening to snap. He held on tightly to what remained as he pulled her closer to him. He responded to her fiercely, as though to try and forget that they'd been drugged. She sensed this and did the same. His hands tangled in her blonde hair as his lips trailed down her throat. She moaned. It was like holding on to a live wire; you couldn't keep holding it, but you couldn't let it go. Tears threatened to spill down her face. He sensed this and brought his mouth up, kissing her eyes to keep the tears from forming. This act of tenderness made her want to cry even more. 'Christine, please, don't,' he thought to her. She quieted. His hands cupped her breasts, gently rubbing them. She sighed, hating herself that any part of her could respond to his touch under the circumstances. But she couldn't help it. And she could sense his understanding, his lack of anger towards her. Then he moved against her, joining his body with hers, and she found that she could no longer think at all...

Hot... so hot...

The thought came unbidden. His body, normally much warmer, was an inferno. She felt as though she were melting. His mind was flame, arid and swirling like desert winds. She gasped.

Cold... so cold....

Spock was thinking of how cool her body felt to him. It was a welcome feeling in the wake of his aching internal fire. Their minds and mouths locked together and their bodies began to move in the rhythm old as sentient beings themselves. She started to feel guilty, her body hesitating. His mind spoke to her again. 'No,' he said softly. 'Neither of us are to blame for this, Christine.'

'I know,' she thought back. 'It's just so...'

'Shh,' he told her as she had told him only minutes ago. 'We have to go beyond our bodies lest we both go mad.'

'Yes,' she replied. 'You're right....'

'Look at me,' he told her.

She did so, timidly at first, then more openly as she felt his acceptance. One hand trailed a burning path down her face as their eyes locked once again.

'Close your eyes,' he thought to her, 'and put your arms around me. Think only of us, nothing else.'

She remembered his words as an echo of what Kirk had told Uhura on Platonius when they had been forced to embrace. "Try not to think of them," Kirk had said.

'The captain was correct. If they know how they are affecting us, they will delight in it. Let your mind go.'

She heeded his words. She closed her eyes and encircled him with her arms, feeling him do the same. Once again their bodies moved together, but this time there was no hesitation. Concentrating only on each other, they detached their minds from the reality of the situation and gave themselves over to the burning of their desire. As Spock approached the physical brink, he took Christine with him mentally, allowing her to feel what his body felt. In turn he felt what she did; the spasms of flame that engulfed her. Their mutual climax was shattering, sending both of them into an oblivion that seemed to last forever.

Finally, Spock carefully moved to lie beside her, still breathing in short gasps from the experience. When he did, she realized for the first time that there was a small window in the right hand wall near the throne. And standing on the other side, looking at her with a pleased expression, was the Jistanah.

Christine caught her breath sharply, turning. She wasn't quick enough, however, for Spock not to have noticed. He turned and stared at the Jistanah for a moment before looking away. Christine saw anger in Spock's eyes as she'd never seen before. He seemed on the verge of exploding. He felt her distress through the now-fading link, and slowly he calmed down again out of respect for her. He would not add to her emotional upheaval.

Now that they had succumbed to the passion the drug had induced, they were at a loss as to what to do next. They were saved from further contemplation, however, by the return of the guards. One threw richly embroidered robes at them, a gold one for Christine and a silver one for Spock. Eyes downcast, they both quickly slipped the garments on, grateful for the coverage they provided. They were led from the room into a nearby chamber, where they were forced to kneel before a dark haired man wearing red silk. The guards stood at the door as the man spoke.

"First, let me tell you that you are to listen to everything I say before speaking. "

After glancing at them for a moment to see if they were going to be defiant, he continued.

"I am sure you have already figured out why you are here. The Jistanah is a man of exotic tastes, and he is willing to pay a high price for filling them. The men that met your group? The ones sent to 'welcome' you? The Jistanah bought you from them for half a million hitas. That is the most he has ever paid for slaves. But he sensed something special about all of you.

"But that does not matter, truly. What matters is that you are here to please him. So far, he is most impressed with you. You displayed great passion. I hope your friends do the same. The two of you have been paired. You will sleep in the same quarters, and you will not participate in sexual acts with anyone else. The Jistanah believes for slaves to have different partners decreases the intensity for him."

He looked directly at them. "Any peace you need to make between yourselves with this, I suggest you do it quickly. Pleas will not change the situation, nor will a refusal to cooperate, as I'm sure you learned when you drank the Proxitan. I hope eventually there will be no need to drug you; it would be easier if you were willing participants."

"You expect us to willingly accept humiliation?" Spock asked acidly.

The man stared. "You are fortunate that I had planned to stop speaking. But since you are new slaves, and high in the Jistanah's favor thus far, I will overlook you this once and answer your question. Your willingness does not matter. You will do as the Jistanah wants, regardless of your personal wishes. If that means we have to drug you every single time, so be it. My words were only to say that if you will participate willingly, you will not be drugged. The choice is yours. My name is Dashitan. When you see me, you will kneel. And when I speak, or if the Jistanah speaks, you will obey."

And with that he snapped his fingers and they were taken away. They were led into a large room and left alone, with the door being shut behind them. Spock turned to examine it. It appeared that although the Jistans lived simply, they were highly evolved. There was no apparent lock on the door, or handles. "There must be some sort of electronic locking mechanism," he told Christine.

She nodded, and they both turned to look at the room. A long black couch rested along one wall, heaped with cushions. There was a beautifully carved wooden table in one corner, with two chairs that had purple satin cushions. On the table were dishes and eating utensils. There was a device that appeared to be a food replicator of some kind. Spock raised an eyebrow at this. It meant that they were indeed quite technologically advanced. Off to one side was a door that led into a bathroom. It had a water shower and a huge sunken bathtub. Everything in their room was beautifully made, obviously designed to be pleasing to the eyes and the senses. And the bed....

The bed was easily eight feet high, with high posts and rods that had black velvet panels on all four sides. It was carved from some kind of black wood and lacquered so that it gleamed. It was more than big enough for both of them to sleep comfortably, but they looked at it uneasily.

Christine was first to speak. "If you want we can take turns sleeping on the couch--" she began.

Spock looked at her in a kind of weary amusement. "Christine. It is obviously meant for us to sleep together in the bed. If we do not, and this is discovered, it will be construed as disobedience. Until we have a better understanding of the situation we are in and have spoken to the captain, I do not wish to complicate our situation." She glanced away, and he continued in a softer voice. "I wish for you to understand that I do not find the idea of sleeping next to you unpleasant, only the circumstances in which we are doing it."

"I know," she answered. She sighed. "Well, I suppose we should get some rest. There's no telling what will happen tomorrow..." Her voice trailed off, embarrassed at what she'd inadvertently implied.

But Spock's only response was, "Indeed." They found a small button on the wall near the door that turned the light off. There was a window in the room, but it was about eight feet up and, upon inspection, covered with some type of forcefield. The triple moons cast a soft silvery glow across the darkness.

Having decided to share the bed, they now had another dilemma. They had no other clothing besides their robes. Christine found herself hesitant to remove hers. Then she snorted to herself.' He's seen you naked. You just had sex with him. There's no point in being modest now.' Still she felt reluctant. Finally she decided she could be dignified and comfortable, with a little work. She slipped behind one panel on the side. She took her robe off quickly and got into the bed quickly, pulling the satin sheets up over her. She heard Spock pulling off his own robe and turned away as he lay down beside her and covered himself also.

Their bodies were not touching, but each was extremely aware of the other. Unwillingly Christine recalled their encounter. The knowledge that there would be more of them filled her with fresh shame. She could hardly stand to think, let alone feel it.


She turned to find Spock on his side, facing her. She lay facing him, waiting. After a moment he continued. "If we find that we are unable to escape for the time being, Dashitan is correct that we will need to make peace with ourselves and each other regarding our unfortunate circumstances."

She stared at him angrily. "Unfortunate circumstances? That's your description for us being drugged half out of our minds to get us to have sex? You make it sound like we got rained out of a garden party!" She started to turn away from him, but he caught her arms and pulled her close. His voice was quiet, but his eyes held a fire that almost matched her own.

"What should I say?" he asked. "Shall I tell you that I, too, feel anger over this? That I share your shame over what we were compelled to do? That I do not want to be intimate with you as a result of being drugged? Very well. I am telling you all of this."

Christine bowed her head. He gently tipped her chin up until she was looking at him again. The anger was gone, replaced by an expression of tenderness.

"Whatever we do, this is going to be beyond our control. Given this, I would prefer that if we cannot stop it from occurring, that we at least are not at the mercy of this artificial aphrodisiac."

Christine tried to sort our what he was saying, but was too tired and drained to be anything but confused. "What do you mean?" she asked.

"That if we have no choice but to be physically intimate with each other, I would prefer it to be in our control. It would still be against our will. But better than being drugged."

Now she understood. "You mean, offer to cooperate to keep them from giving us the Proxitan."

"Yes, that is precisely what I mean."

"But can we ... can you ... I mean..." She stopped, uncertain of how to say what she wanted to say.

"Am I capable, you mean? It will not be easy, but I believe so. It will require us to join minds through the experience, if that is agreeable to you."

"It's agreeable," she replied.

"Then I propose we make the attempt."

"All right. I'd much rather have it that way, too. But there's no way of knowing when we'll be sent for again--"

"No, Christine. I meant make the attempt now."

"What? Here?"

"Indeed. We are completely alone; we are not even being watched that we know of. If we can succeed now, we can mentally support each other when we are summoned again to help us through it. Would you not prefer to try this now, in these more relaxed and private circumstances?"

Christine couldn't stop a small laugh. He was doing it again; talking about trying to be sexual with her as though it were an equation. But he was right. It would be better.

"Yes, Spock, I would. I just hate that we have to do this and it's not of our choosing."

"As do I," he reminded her gently. "But it is nothing against you. I give you my word on that."

She managed a smile. "That means a lot to me."

He pulled her even closer, one hand resting on her face as he found the contact points. Their minds touched. She tried to suppress her feelings, but he stopped her. "Accept them. You have every right to be angry. But you must also move past it."

"It's so hard to do..."

"You must, or this will not work. Try and imagine that we are doing this freely."

"I'll try," she whispered.

Spock realized that she needed a distraction from her thoughts. He moved his face closer to hers. "Kiss me, Christine," he whispered. She did, and he allowed his lips to soften and part beneath hers. He felt her sigh mentally. The thought came before she could stop it, and he felt her immediate shame over it.

'So long, wanted to kiss you...'

'I know,' he thought back to her. 'It's all right. Enjoy it. I will need your desire to help begin mine.'

He could feel the chaos within her. She was torn between acceptance and rejection of her feelings. He took his free hand and guided one of hers to his face. Her fingers trembled as she touched his cheek, his brow. Her hand then slipped down his neck to his chest. She moved it across the soft hair that covered his skin. He felt the first stirring of true passion from her, felt it cross into him.

He moved his hand from her face, bringing it to her neck. He cradled her head in his hand as they continued kissing. Her hands were lost in the feel of his muscles under his smooth hard skin. He pulled her hands away gently, moving down slightly against her. Before she could protest, he took one breast in each hand and began rubbing them as he had done earlier that night. His thumbs stroked her nipples as he cupped her breasts, bringing a low moan from her.

Spock was not naive about sexuality; he'd studied anatomy and read erotic literature at the Academy. Plus there were his previous experiences. Although he'd only practiced it twice, and not used all of it, he had detailed technical knowledge of what was arousing to humanoid females. Judging from Christine's responses, it seemed that some of what he had read was true. This made him wonder if it all was true. He moved down further and took one of her breasts into his mouth.

"Mmmm..." she moaned again, slightly louder than the first time.

He gently sucked on her nipple, feeling it swell and harden beneath his tongue. She stirred beneath his touch. He continued to kiss and lick her breast, then moved to the other one and started the process again. He felt her enjoyment, felt her pleasure slowly beginning to become his own. Some irrational part of him was pleased to know that he could have such a strong effect on her. She placed her hands on either side of his face with a sigh.

After a few minutes she moved from beneath him, gently pressing him down on his back. Eyes closed, he lay quietly, ready for her to do whatever she wanted.

She stroked his nipples, now; teased them with her tongue until they became as hard as hers. To know that she was capable of getting any kind of response from him excited her. Her lips trailed down his flat stomach as her fingers trailed patterns on the insides of his upper thighs. Being able to touch him like this was making her crazy. She sensed that he was encouraging her feelings so that the intensity of them would transfer to him. She went lower and took his penis into her mouth.

He gave a startled twitch, but did not stop her. He was still soft, but she could feel that he was becoming aroused. She kissed it and caressed it with her hands, then began taking his penis into her mouth with long, slow movements while keeping one hand gently closed around the base.

The sensations her mouth was evoking made it difficult for Spock to keep still. He felt himself growing hard beneath her deft movements. She felt it too, and was pleased that he was responding. Unbidden an image of Vulcan crept into his mind. Here he was, allowing himself to abandon logic and feel sexual pleasure. He reminded himself that there was no other satisfactory alternative at the moment. He would not be drugged again, nor could he allow that for Christine. With that, he pushed the thoughts away and gave himself to the desire.

He rolled her over again. For a long moment he lay above her, just looking at her. Her fair skin was flushed slightly, her breathing rate increased. He recognized this as signs of arousal, felt it in her thoughts and in her body. His own pulse and breathing had quickened from her earlier act. She met his gaze. He was pleased to see that she had managed to abandon her shame, at least for the moment. He kissed her tenderly. As he did so he used one hand to gently nudge her legs apart. She caught her breath.

His hand cupped her soft mound of golden curls as his fingers began a delicate stroking of her. She trembled and whimpered. A violent rush of adrenaline coursed through her into him. He lifted his mouth from hers to ask, "Does this please you?"

"Oh, yes" she gasped as her hips writhed beneath him.

"Then I shall continue."

"Spock, you don't have to--" she began, but his mouth stopped the rest of her words.

'I know that I do not have to,' he thought to her. 'I wish to do it. Now be still. The time for discussion is over.'

He felt her assent. After a few more minutes she realized that she was getting very wet. Even though that was a normal sexual response, she was embarrassed. 'Do not be,' he thought to her. 'There is no need.'

She felt that she was getting close. 'Spock--' she thought, only to feel that he had already realized it. With one graceful move he replaced his hand with his now fully erect penis, carefully sliding into her welcoming warmth. As he began to rock against her she cried his name out softly. She wrapped her arms around his back and moved in time with him.

Both of them were now utterly lost in the sensations they felt. She could feel him as though feeling herself, felt her body through his. In turn, he could feel what it was like for her to be enclosing him inside her. The duality of the act made them even more aroused, even more eager.

She reached the brink first this time, crying out as the waves of pleasure rolled over her and carried her out with them. Her orgasm was so intense it hurt. Her climax brought on his own. He moaned as his body shuddered with the pleasure of the release. He moved to lie beside her. Physically and emotionally spent, they held each other, neither wanting to break the spell. He kissed her once more, his mind still connected with hers. Both of them were on the verge of sleep. Still holding each other, together they crossed over into it.

* * *

Sunlight crept through their quarters, stealing across the bed. But behind the drapes, Christine and Spock slept on. When Spock finally awoke, he felt extremely disoriented. He wanted to get up and investigate their surroundings, but a warm drowsiness was overpowering him. His body wanted more sleep. An aftereffect of the drug, perhaps. He heard a chuckle, but couldn't force his eyes to fully open. He twisted and turned, but the desire for sleep was too strong. He gave up and settled back down into the bed. It was then that he heard a voice that he recognized as Dashitan's, saw a gleam of sunlight through his half-closed eyes as the man pulled back a curtain.

"Well. It seems you have decided to be cooperative after all, judging by your lack of clothing. Don't try to get up yet," he added, as Spock tried to rouse himself again. "Your condition is an effect of the Proxitan. You need to sleep it off. Relax, rest longer. When you awaken later you will be allowed to see your friends."

Spock sighed. Yielding to the inevitable, he stopped trying to fully wake up. As the warmth crept back over his mind, he curled his body around Christine's and drifted into sleep again. Dashitan watched this with a pleased expression. When these strange ones had first been brought, Dashitan had noticed all the quick anger of the leader.

Granted, he was punished for that, but it was a curious comparison to this one's seeming lack of emotion. He hadn't even been certain if the Proxitan would work on him, he was so different. But it had, with very good results. Now he suspected that there was a great deal more than met the eyes with this one. If the leader was fire, this one was flame. Quiet, contained, but inside filled with a burning. Dashitan would devise more ways to bring this flame out of him. The Jistanah reveled in emotional displays. He would make certain that the Jistanah remained pleased. This group of slaves was Dashitan's discovery, and if two of them were picked as the Jistanah's new favorites he would

give Dashitan much wealth. And for some reason he could not explain to himself, Dashitan wanted these two to be the chosen ones.

Satisfied that they would rest for several hours more, he left and made his way down the hall. It was time for two of the others to visit the Jistanah.

* * *

Christine awoke slowly, feeling slightly sore. At first she was confused. Why was she in a big bed in a strange room, naked? With Spock next to her, of all people? Then her memories came rushing back to her with a painful clarity. The capture of the landing party. Being sold to the man she now knew as Dashitan and taken to the palace. Being brought back with Spock to the throne room. Hearing the word "Proxitan" and knowing they were being drugged for something bad. Feelings of panic and shame when she realized what it did. Watching as Spock fought to control himself and failed; feeling her own inability to stop the aphrodisiac from affecting her. Humiliation; a hundred times worse than what she felt on Platonius. Their mutual decision to try not to focus on it. Touching minds and bodies. Being taken to this room. Their decision to cooperate to avoid the drug, and the bittersweet practice passion that came from that decision. Now it was morning. Would Spock withdraw from her now, after abandoning himself to her last night? Was he sorry? Questions she didn't want answers to, but needed to have them.

Slowly she turned from her back to her side to face him. He was still asleep, his arms around her. He looked peaceful, too peaceful considering what they had been through in the past 24 hours. As she studied him, his eyes snapped open and looked directly into hers. She forced herself not to turn away. She lay still, waiting to see if he would move away from her. But he didn't. Instead, he brushed a lock of hair away from her face. As his fingers inadvertently touched her contact points, he felt her fear of his rejection.

"Christine, it would be illogical of me to withdraw from you, as you put it, when we are going to be spending a great deal of time being physically and mentally connected to each other. And I am not sorry for what we did. Vulcans do not live their lives doing things they will regret. That is one of the values of logic. Although I must admit, logic is going to be of little use in our current situation. Regardless of that fact, we made a decision to make this captivity as pleasant as we could for ourselves. That does not include turning away from you. Does this alleviate your fears?"

Christine couldn't help but laugh. "Well, Spock, I have to give you at least one thing over human males; you're blunt and direct."

"To be any other way--"

"-would be illogical," she finished.

"Indeed." He favored her with a small smile. Christine reluctantly moved from his embrace to peer around a curtain. Someone had been in their room. Lying on a table near the top of the bed were two outfits, both blue jumpsuits with designs embroidered in red along the collar and cuffs. She touched one and was surprised to find they were made of rough silk. Simple but aesthetic, she thought. She pulled them in to hand Spock his. "Someone paid us a visit while we slept," she commented.

Spock took it from her. "It was Dashitan," he said. And he told her of how the drug had kept him from waking up completely and how Dashitan said they needed to sleep it off. "He also said that when we woke up we could see the rest of the landing party." She nodded, still thinking about the drug.

"That makes sense, needing to sleep it off, I mean. I'd love to be able to analyze that Proxitan. The Orions would trade in their Demma in they knew about that stuff."

"Indeed. It is quite effective."

As they rose and dressed Christine said, "I'm glad we get to see the others. Maybe the captain will know something we don't."

Spock raised one upswept brow. "I doubt that Captain Kirk has had a chance to learn anything more than we have, if I am correct about this entire situation."

Christine had been heading to the bathroom, but she stopped and looked at him. "You mean..."

"That we are not the only ones that will have an encounter with Proxitan and the Jistanah? Yes."

"Oh." Christine felt taken aback. "I didn't even think about that..."

"You were... preoccupied," Spock said innocently.

She shot him an irritated and amused stare before going into the bathroom. When she emerged, he took his turn. Just as he came out, their door opened and Dashitan along with 6 guards stepped in. "Ah. I am pleased to see you awake and refreshed. You must have finished exhausting yourselves after you came here."

Christine couldn't stop herself from blushing. He noticed this and laughed. "There is no need for that, lovely one. There are no rules against your doing so. As long as you are able to perform whenever the Jistanah wants you, do whatever you wish here with each other. Now I will allow you to spend time with your friends, as well as explain the rules and privileges of the palace to you."

He stepped into the hall, and they followed him. At the end of the hall they entered a room that resembled their own. Sitting at the table talking were Kirk and Uhura. They looked up as Spock and Christine came in.

Dashitan looked at them "I will let you remain here for two lirs. I will then explain palace life to you as you go to meet with the Jistanah."

As he turned to go Kirk said loudly: "You'd better be planning your explanation to Starfleet as to why you are keeping us prisoner!"

Dashitan walked back over to Kirk, followed by three guards. "My fiery one," he said in amusement. "Did you learn nothing from your earlier punishment?" Mention of this made Kirk look away somewhat. "You will be silent, and you will be obedient. Your friends can explain certain... aspects to you now. Listen well to them. The Jistanah will only tolerate your behavior until it no longer amuses him. Then you will suffer, I promise you that."

After he left, Kirk turned to them and Uhura stood up. "Well, Mr. Spock, Miss Chapel, I am glad to see the two of you alive and apparently unharmed. How would you mind telling us what the hell is going on?" Kirk asked.

Spock and Christine exchanged a glance. It was obvious that they had not been taken yet. Spock reached for Christine's mind with his.

'Talk to Lt. Uhura. I will speak to the captain.'

'And what should I tell her?" Christine asked.

'Tell her what you feel you must. But both she and the captain must be made aware so that they know what to expect. We must also try and formulate a plan.'


Christine walked towards the bathroom. "Uhura, would you come with me?" Christine asked her.

Kirk looked at Spock, who nodded minutely. "Go ahead, Lieutenant."

As the two women made their way into the other room Kirk asked: "All right , Spock. Now do you mind explaining this?"

Spock looked at the wall, facing it as though to gather strength before turning back to Kirk. His voice was rough when he spoke. "These people, the Jistans, are ruled by a sovereign they call the Jistanah. We have been purchased as slaves for his... enjoyment."

"I see." Kirk turned Spock's words over in his mind before speaking again. "What sort of... enjoyment?"

Spock hesitated. Kirk spoke again. "What happened to you and Miss Chapel when you were taken back?"

Spock bowed his head. Coming to an acceptance of things with Christine had not been easy, but they had done it because it had to be done. It had not occurred to him that he would have to explain what they went through to anyone else, and he found himself unprepared to do so. But he could not allow the captain to go into the situation blindly. He knew that Christine was doing the same thing with Uhura.

"Spock? Are you going to answer me?"

"We were ... we were drugged with a substance which they call Proxitan."

"And what does this ... Proxitan do?"

Spock looked down again. "I believe that the human term for it is 'aphrodisiac.' "

Kirk was stunned. "And did it work?" he asked.

Spock nodded. "All too well, Jim." He glanced up. Kirk's only expression was one of attentiveness. Spock hesitated, then continued. "Except for pon farr, it was unlike anything I have ever experienced. I wanted to stop myself. So did Miss Chapel. But we could not. It produced such a strong ... physical ... desire in us, we could do nothing but yield to it. And ... we did."

It was Kirk's turn to look down now. For Spock to have to tell him this was very difficult, Kirk knew. But there were still questions in his mind. "So you and Miss Chapel..."


"I see." Kirk looked back at Spock. "But why? Why was this done?"

"After it was over, we discovered that the Jistanah had been observing us."

"So that's it? We're here to provide him with some kind of voyeuristic thrill?"

"I believe so. Dashitan, the man who led us into the soldier's trap, is the Jistanah's personal servant. Only the Jistanah himself is above him. He told us that we were all paired and would be used for the Jistanah's pleasure. We were told that if we refuse to cooperate, we will simply be drugged each time the Jistanah sends for us. We were then put into a room that he said was ours. He also said we would live together there and that we would not participate in ... sexual acts with anyone else."

Kirk's lips tightened. "I see," he repeated. "What's your assessment of their technology?"

"It is quite advanced, contrary to the appearance of how things are run. They have forcefields at their disposal, that I know for certain. It would also seem that the doors are all locked by means of what appears to be encryption codes."

"Can you break one of them?"

"To do so would require more time alone than I believe we will be able to have. Breaking an encryption code could take days, even weeks depending upon the level of sophistication of the code. And on the door of our quarters the mechanism is only on the outside of the door."

"We could force one of them to give us the codes."

"That is a possibility. However, I tend to believe that the only ones with the codes are Dashitan and the Jistanah himself. We have no weapons at present, or communicators. As you recall, these people are immune to the Vulcan nerve-pinch. And they are as well-trained in hand-to-hand combat as we are."

"So what are your recommendations?"

"I believe that at this point we should cooperate while we search for a means of escape. If we can find out where our phasers and communicators are, we should be able to do so with relative ease."

"I agree, but my God, Spock, do you understand what you're suggesting? Sulu and Davidson were taken about two hours ago, and when they come back... And how the hell can you be willing to accept doing this with Miss Chapel of all people?" He stopped. "I'm sorry," he said quietly. "That part was out of line."

Spock stared at him coldly. "You asked for my opinion, Captain. I have given it. As for Miss Chapel and myself, we have come to terms with this situation. Since that is a personal matter, I do not wish to speak of it. And I am well aware of what I am suggesting, since she and I were the first ones to endure it."

"I said I'm sorry, Spock. What do you want, an apology in blood?"

Spock sighed. Kirk went on. "This hasn't been easy for any of us. And if we do what you're suggesting, it will only get worse before it gets better."

"I concede your point, on every level." He sensed Kirk's frustration and relented a little. "However, there are six of us, with no weapons, and an undetermined number of them. There are, for all practical purposes, encryption codes on every door. We no longer even have an idea of where on the planet's surface we are. At this point that is the most logical option I see. I do not like it. But liking it has nothing to do with the logic of it."

"Yes. Well, I suppose we'd better let the ladies finish having their talk and then discuss it as a group."

* * *

"All right, Christine, tell me what this is about, please?" Uhura was tired, but nowhere near as tired as Christine seemed to be. And they'd just woke up, that man had said before they came in. And why the hell was she so upset?

"Oh, Nyota...." Her voice broke. "I don't know where to begin."

"Well, telling me what happened when you were taken back with Spock might be a good place to start."

Sitting on the floor in the bathroom with Uhura next to her, Christine began. Once she started to speak, she found that the words streamed from her with no effort, as though she'd been about to explode with the need to tell someone. She described being drugged, how they had both tried to resist the urges it ignited in them without success. How they'd been told they were mated, paired together, and what that meant, and why they were there. She told her of how they'd reached an acceptance and understanding with each other about it, had decided to cooperate to avoid being drugged in the future. "Then we fell asleep, and when we woke up they brought us to see you and the captain," she finished.

Uhura had been completely silent as she listened. "So you're telling me that when they took Hikaru and Elaine, they took them to ... have sex? While this guy the Jistanah watches?"

"That sums it up pretty good."

"And so when they come back, that means that the captain and I...."

Christine watched as the full ramifications of their predicament hit home to Uhura. "I'm afraid so, Nyota," she said softly. "Hopefully, they'll give you a chance to go along with it. If you don't, they'll give you the Proxitan. And if they do, you won't have any other choice. Neither will the captain. Believe me. Spock and I both fought it. But it didn't do any good."

"Oh, gods, " Uhura said. Her trembling hands covered her face for a moment before she made herself calm down. "I know that what happened on Platonius was hard. But this ... and you, having to do it with Spock ... oh, Christine, it must have torn you up inside."

"It did," she said with a tiny smile. Tears threatened to sting her eyes, but she forced them back. "But we both realized that it wasn't our fault and we couldn't let it make us crazy. It wasn't easy, at all. But we can accept it now." She didn't tell Nyota about how they'd done the act again in their room to learn if they could indeed cooperate to that extent without the drug. That test, and the genuine tenderness they'd shared, was between her and Spock. "I think if you talk about it, you and Captain Kirk can do the same," she told Nyota.

"It's just so hard to think about," Uhura said.

"Then don't think about it. Just do it. That's what Spock and I did. It's what we had to do."

Christine stopped talking as they heard a gentle knock on the door.

"Lieutenant Uhura, Miss Chapel? Are you finished yet?" It was the captain.

"Yes, sir," they answered in one voice. Christine opened the door, mentally composing herself as they walked back into the main room. Spock stood with his hands clasped behind his back, but he didn't try to look away from her, nor did she try to look away from him. Compared to Kirk and Uhura, they were completely relaxed in each other's presence, and Christine was extremely grateful.

Judging from Kirk's posture, she knew he had taken things about as well as Nyota had. But he gave no other indication of it as he said; "I wish Sulu and Davidson were here to discuss this also. But since they are--" He hesitated for a moment-- "indisposed, that will have to wait."

"Mr. Spock believes that, since we are at a disadvantage at the moment here, that it would be in our best interests overall to go along with this ... situation while we look for a means of escape. I don't like it any more than the rest of you, I promise you. But I agree."

"I also know that due to the nature of this situation, I cannot ethically order any one of you to agree to it. You have to make that choice for yourselves. And I'd like to know what choice you think we should make."

Three pairs of eyes, one blue and two brown, rested on him. He turned. "Miss Chapel? Do you agree that we should cooperate for the time being?"

"Yes, sir, I do."

"Mr. Spock, we know your opinion of the subject. What about you, Lieutenant? What do you say about this?" Kirk asked Uhura.

She nodded slowly. "I agree too, sir."

"Well, then, for now anyway, it's settled. We'll do it."

Kirk stretched, and the movement made him wince. "Captain? Are you injured?" Spock asked.

Kirk smiled. "No, Mr. Spock. It's only the aftermath of my 'punishment.' "

"Do you need me to check you, captain?" Christine asked.

"Unless you've got something handy for someone who's been flogged, I doubt it would do any good, nurse. But thank you."

They stared at him. They had all been so wrapped up in the other things, past and future, no one had thought to ask Kirk what had happened to him. Now they knew.

Spock was the first to break the silence that ensued. "That gives us an idea of what they are capable of," he said thoughtfully.

"Mr. Spock, from what you've told me, I tend to think being beaten is mild in comparison."

Spock was saved from having to reply by the return of Dashitan and an entourage of guards. "I trust you've had a good conversation?" he enquired.

Kirk stared at him woodenly. "We've decided to cooperate, if that's what you want to know."

"Excellent. Proxitan does have such long-lasting effects, as I'm sure they told you. Now. If you and the beautiful lady of the night will come with me? The Jistanah is eager to see you."

Kirk and Uhura exchanged a look before going to where he stood. "Your friends are fine," Dashitan informed them. "They had not planned on cooperating, but the Proxitan convinced them otherwise. I am glad to know you are going to be agreeable about this."

As Kirk and Uhura were led away, Dashitan spoke to the remaining six guards. "Take these two to the bathing chamber." He looked at Spock and Christine with a smile. "I want to see just how compliant they are going to be."

* * *

The bathing chamber was a room containing what looked like a huge bathtub. Seven feet in length and width, and about three feet deep. There were marble benches built inside the tub. The room was filled with plants and exotic flowers growing along the walls. The water was warm enough to create a mild steam. The smells, the sound of the water and the warmth made Spock drowsy again. He had come to the conclusion that the Jistanah liked his captives to be languid. Everywhere they went the surroundings seemed designed to produce a response of sensuality or sleepiness.

They were led to the tub, where a small set of marble steps descended into it. A guard brought in a large glass pitcher, two soft white towels and washcloths, and something in a bottle that Spock took to be for cleansing themselves. These were placed on the edge near them.

"Remove your clothes and get in," Dashitan ordered.

Spock hesitated. Everyone was watching them. Before their capture he had never taken off his clothes of front of more than one person, and the idea of being stared at in that manner unnerved him. Dashitan noticed his hesitation and frowned.

"You are not obeying, one called Spock. Did you not hear my command?"

"I heard it," Spock answered.

Dashitan came to stand in front of him. "I find this lack of compliance disturbing. Perhaps you need a reminder of what could happen if you do not heed my orders."

Spock raised an eyebrow at him. He had no fear of any physical punishment he could be given. The Vulcan mental disciplines would shield him from pain.

Dashitan's eyes narrowed. He reached out and touched Spock's face.

Spock didn't flinch. "Ah. I see the idea of physical punishment does not affect you." He smiled.

"But I believe that I know something that will."

With that he turned and indicated Christine. "Strip her and hand me the whip."

Before either Spock or Christine could react, her clothes had been ripped off of her and she was pressed against a wall, arms extended and held out from her body. Dashitan stood behind her with a long whip of braided black hide.

"Stop!" Spock exclaimed.

Dashitan turned, arching one eyebrow in a mockery of Spock's earlier gesture. "I'm sorry, did you speak?"

"I said stop," Spock repeated. He started towards them but was caught and held by two guards.

"Ah. You wish me to stop. Very well, I will stop." He curled the whip around Christine's body. She trembled and closed her eyes.

"If you will beg."

Spock went rigid. Never in his life had he begged anyone for anything. But this wasn't his life that was in question. It was Christine's. He looked at her. Her face had gone white, and she was biting her lips to keep from screaming. Spock knew Dashitan would carry out his threat. Once again he felt the helplessness of having no choice. But this time he did not hesitate.

The guards released him and he knelt on the floor, hands behind his back in what he hoped would be a subservient posture. He looked up at Dashitan. "I beg you to stop," he said huskily.

Dashitan smiled again, but it was a smile of triumph and malice. "There. That was not so difficult, was it?"

Spock lowered his head. Dashitan laughed. "It is quite convenient that you are hostage for each other." He removed the whip from around Christine, motioning for the guards to take her to the tub. She was carried in and placed on one of the benches.

"Now remove your clothes and get in," Dashitan ordered Spock again.

Spock obeyed quickly, shedding his jumpsuit and slipping into the warm waters next to Christine. The guards stepped back. Dashitan pointed a small metal device at the tub. It was instantly surrounded by a forcefield.

"Enjoy your bath. Do not touch the forcefield. It will dispense a current strong enough to produce instant unconsciousness." He paused, then said, "I hope this little incident proves to you that I require your instant obedience, in everything. That is the mark of a good slave, and the Jistanah has no need for anything else. I will be back for you in two lirs."

With that he departed, taking all the guards with him. It would seem that no one was to be with them during close moments but Dashitan or the Jistanah. Perhaps that could soon be turned to their advantage. A muffled sob reminded him of Christine. He turned to her. She was still shaking, her hands covering her face to hide her tears. Spock gently pulled her hands away and took her in his arms. She continued to cry, but now her tears fell in silence. "Shh. It's all right, Christine."

He said no more, only held her and rocked her as he'd seen other humans do to comfort someone. After a few minutes her tears stopped and her body quieted. He brushed the remaining drops from her face with two long, slender fingers. "I am sorry that I was the cause of this," he told her.

She shook her head. "No, Spock. It's not your fault."

"Yes it is. My hesitation nearly caused you tremendous physical and emotional pain."

"But Dashitan would have been to blame for that, not you."

It was his turn to shake his head. "It is clear to me that any disobedience or resistance from one of us will result in the punishment of the other. This is his method of keeping us in line. Very logical, I must admit."

"Can we please leave logic out of this for the moment?" she asked wearily. "The only thing he's using logic for right now is to get some kind of emotional response from you."

"That is true," Spock sighed. He released her and picked up the pitcher, filling it with water and pouring it down the front of her body.

Christine stared at him in confusion. "Do you want us to be punished for not bathing each other?" Spock reminded her. "I assume that is his intent, and if we are being monitored somehow I have no desire to repeat what just happened."

"Neither do I," she said with a bitter laugh.

"Then stand up so that I may bathe you."

As she stood, Christine felt a flash of embarrassment. This was the first time she'd stood naked in front of Spock in complete light, or he her. But he seemed unconcerned with this. He picked up a washcloth and tipped some of the cleanser onto it.

He gently washed her face, rinsing it before working his way down. She closed her eyes as he lathered her breasts and hips, making small, efficient circles. His touch soothed her, sparked desire in her even though she hated it. When he reached the center of her femininity she gasped, unable to stop herself. He continued working his way over her body, carefully washing and rinsing each part of her. When her body was done he sat her down on the nearest bench and washed and rinsed her hair. She marveled at how gentle his hands could be.

When he was done she began to bathe him. He stood passively as she did, absorbing the sensations that her touch and the water evoked. Like her he felt a stirring of desire and hated it, but could not stop it. She washed his hair as well, being careful as she rinsed it not to get cleanser in his eyes.

Having completed their task, they sat together in the water since they could not get out. "Spock, you know what he's doing with all of this," Christine said at last.

Spock nodded. "He is intending for our situation and our forced intimacy to bring us closer together."

"Yes, but why? I mean, why go to all the trouble? Why not just keep us on a lower dosage of the drug and not worry about it?"

"Perhaps the Jistanah wants our willing participation. Perhaps that increases the enjoyment for him."

"You are correct, Spock," said the voice of Dashitan. He entered with the guards. "It does indeed give him more pleasure." He released the forcefield, and they got out and dried themselves off. He gave them fresh clothes. "The Jistanah will wait until tomorrow to be entertained again. You will go to your quarters for a time. Then you will be permitted to go into the courtyard. I have arranged a surprise for you there."

Spock and Christine exchanged an uneasy glance as they dressed. At the threshold of their room, Dashitan told them: "Eat and get some rest. You will need your strength." With a final smile from him they were herded inside.

They looked at each other bleakly. Dashitan's hints could only mean more forced physical activity was in store for them. Without speaking, Christine programmed an order for two meals into the food replicator. They ate in silence, each of them thinking of what would happen in a few hours. Afterwards they lay down together. Christine started to curl up into a ball on one side of the bed, but was stopped by Spock drawing her close. She was surprised, but moved against him willingly.

He brushed his fingers to her face. "We must make a link," he said to her.

So that was it. "I'm ready," she answered. As their minds connected she could feel the guilt that he still carried over the earlier incident, just as he felt her complete lack of blaming him.

'Give me your thoughts,' he told her. 'Join them with mine.'

She did so, feeling a peacefulness settle over her at being connected with him again. It was a quiet sense of mental warmth, the closest she had ever been to him. She only wished that it was under different circumstances.

Spock was silent. She could feel a great deal of conflict in him. She did not ask anything about it; she respected his privacy. If he wanted to tell her, he would.

When the link was completed he removed his hand from her face, sliding it down to rest lightly on her arm. He tipped her head, resting it on his shoulder. 'Sleep, Christine,' he thought to her. 'We will deal with whatever Dashitan has in store for us.'

As she fell asleep Spock was left alone with his thoughts. His mind was becoming more confused every time they linked. He knew that if they continued to join minds a permanent bond would eventually develop. He was not sure how he felt about that. Her mind held the typical jumble of emotions that humans carried, but it also contained other things such as courage, compassion, and dignity. The more he touched her thoughts, the more he was beginning to find that he wanted to know more about her. This bothered him.

He was unused to feelings. Now, because of their captivity, he was being forced to deal with them frequently. And not all of them were originating from Christine.

'There is no point in analyzing this,' he told himself. He was only acting in the manner that was best for both of them. He would rather allow himself to experience some emotion by his design than be subjected to the humiliation of the drug again. As for Christine, he would deal with that as it came. A permanent bond could be held off, and the temporary links served both to comfort her and transfer desire into him. These were logical and necessary things for their mental well-being during their encounters.

Having intellectually resolved things to his satisfaction, Spock closed his eyes and joined Christine in sleep.

* * *

They awoke when Dashitan entered their room. He was flanked by an entourage of guards, as usual. They rose to their feet, only to have him order them to kneel. After they did he had them stand up again and follow him out.

The courtyard was not an actual courtyard, but a garden behind the palace. There were numerous trees and flowers there, and it was surrounded by an ornate wall made of red stone, preventing anyone passing by from looking in. In the middle of the courtyard there were three fountains that formed a triangle, each about 5 feet tall, crystal blue water streaming up from them. And in the middle of the fountains stood a wooden couch with short posts on each corner, covered with thick, dark blue cushions. The couch was about six and a half feet long. Spock noticed that manacles were attached to it at both ends, and an ugly premonition came to him.

Dashitan gave him a smug glance, and he knew that his guess was correct. "Strip him and put him on the couch," Dashitan ordered.

Spock closed his eyes as they removed his jumpsuit. The guards pushed him down onto the couch. He made no attempt to resist as both hands and feet were shackled to each corner post. When he was completely secured Dashitan ordered for Christine to be stripped and brought to him. The guards carried out his order. The guards then retreated to the door into the courtyard. Dashitan looked at them. When he spoke, his voice was hard, but not with anger.

"I am leaving you alone, physically. But I am going to be monitoring you. I wish to know what progress you have made with each other. It is vital that you become well-prepared for the competition."

Christine's eyes widened. "Competition? What competition?"

"Every year, there is a competition in the palace to see who will be the new court favorite. Four men, each from a different providence, enter a pair of slaves to perform for the Jistanah. The slaves that please him the most are the winners. Their owner is awarded much riches, as well as being the Jistanah's personal attendant in the palace. I have chosen the two of you as my entry."

As they stared at him in shock, Dashitan continued.

"The event takes place soon, with the rise and set of another fifty suns. I have won this competition for the past 3 years. I do not intend to begin losing now."

"But why us?" Christine asked.

"There is great passion in you, fair one. And, even though something is keeping it suppressed, I believe there is great passion in this one also." He indicated Spock. "There is some sort of energy between the two of you. If that power can be channeled into desire, there is no way that you can lose."

"And what happens if we DO lose?" Spock asked.

Dashitan looked as though the answer should have been obvious to Spock. "Then you both die."

He looked at the expressions of horror on their faces cooly. He continued speaking in the same calm, hard tone.

"So you see, it is your best interest to make sure you win. I am leaving you now. But I will be watching."

He took the guards and left, closing the door behind him. Spock gave an experimental pull on his bonds and found that he could not break free. Christine could perhaps attempt to escape, but without a weapon or knowledge of the layout of the palace he doubted she would get very far. He sighed, realizing that he seemed to be doing that a lot of late. "It would appear that we must continue to appease him for the time being," he said wearily.

Christine nodded. She'd thought of trying to make a break for it, but the thought of leaving Spock did not appeal to her. Doubtless they would kill him if she did. But she was at a loss as to how to proceed. She was going to have to assume a completely dominant position, something which she was unaccustomed to. She didn't understand why Dashitan had done this, and she didn't like it.

'Like you've been thrilled about the rest of this, you damn idiot,' she thought to herself in disgust. She realized she was stalling, and when she glanced at Spock she saw that he realized it too. If not for the graveness of their situation, she might have laughed. As it was, she could only look at him with a mixture of helplessness and uncertainty.

"Christine, the sooner we begin, the sooner we will be done," Spock said.

"Thank you for making it sound like homework, Spock!" she snapped, then instantly regretted her outburst. "I'm sorry."

He raised one eyebrow. "I believe that is the first time that YOU have been the one apologizing to ME," he said with a trace of humor. His tactic worked; she responded with a smile. His tone became serious. "Proceed as though we were alone in our room. If you can attain a sufficient level of arousal, I will be able to as well. Do whatever is necessary for this. "

"All right." She had no idea of what would be necessary, but knew she had to find out.

She carefully lowered herself onto him. The physical contact caused the link between them to open. Once again she could feel herself as he felt her. The sensation was strange but exciting. She kissed him, felt him kiss her back. She knew he was only going through the motions of it for now, but she didn't blame herself. So was she, really. Attaining genuine passion under the circumstances they were in was difficult. She concentrated on feeling him beneath her, the touch of his lips on hers.

It seemed to take forever, but finally she managed to reach a state of arousal. When it transferred to him she felt his readiness. She arched her back as she took him into her, gasping slightly as he filled her senses and womanhood with himself. They began to move together in a slow, steady rhythm, her hands on either side of him as the link urged them on. When it was over and the shared passion was spent, she collapsed against him.

A few minutes later Dashitan returned with their clothes. After they dressed they were taken back to their room. Christine had walked in and Spock was about to enter behind her when Dashitan said: "I will speak with you, one called Spock."

Spock faced him calmly as the door closed and the guards stood in rank behind Dashitan. For a moment Dashitan only stared at him in puzzlement. Then he asked Spock: "Do you not find the woman you call Christine beautiful?"

"I do not understand--"

"I did not ask for your understanding, I asked you a question!! Do you not find her beautiful!?"

Spock had another hunch that he knew where the conversation was going, but he answered anyway. "She is aesthetically pleasing."

"So you DO find her to be lovely."

"I believe I just said that."

"Then what is wrong? Why do you have no passion for her?" Spock was silent. Any explanation he could give would be construed as insolence. Dashitan continued. "I understand you are prisoners and are doing this against your will. But all other men I have seen quickly grew to accept and enjoy it, if only to make the captivity more bearable and less lonely. You are different."

"Yes, " Spock admitted quietly. "I am."

Dashitan shook his head. "This will simply not do. Something must change." He looked at Spock tiredly, as though trying to figure the situation out had exhausted him. "Must I keep you drugged to get a response from you?" Dashitan asked. "That would be a simple solution."

"Simple for you, perhaps." Dashitan gave him a warning glare and Spock continued quickly.

"That will not be necessary. Give us the rising and setting of seven suns. Things will change."

"There is not much time. But if you can do what you say, I would prefer it to be done. Very well, you have your time." Dashitan shook his head again. "The fair one is full of fire. I hope she can find the way to melt your ice. If not, make no mistake; you will be drugged again. I WILL not lose this competition. And I WILL make sure that the two of you are able to win, one way or the other. Now go to her," he added as he moved to the door. "You have a great deal to talk about."

Spock walked into the room with the trepidation of a condemned man. Christine was sitting on the bed, her face pale and anxious. "What happened?" she asked.

He came to stand beside her. "Dashitan was of the opinion that he should keep giving me Proxitan. I assured him that would not be necessary."

"I see. And how exactly did you assure him of that?"

Spock's face was unreadable, but his stoic appearance was belied by the tremors in his hands before he clasped them behind his back. "I told him to give us a week to...improve."

"Oh." Christine was at a loss for words for a moment. Then she timidly ventured: "But that means that we'll have to... I mean we'll need to...."

"To....practice? A rather clinical description, but true."

Christine sighed. "Will that be enough? I can't keep doing it all, Spock. I need your help, help that you haven't wanted to give and I understand why. But our lives are at stake."

"I am aware of that," he answered. He gathered his thoughts before he resumed. "I am planning to meditate to help free some of the more...emotional aspects of myself. I also believe that we must adopt a new premise."

"Such as?"

He hesitated. When he spoke his voice was quiet and reflective. "From what I understand of human relationships, most of them evolve from sharing , from developing trust, respect and affection for each other."

"That's true," she told him.

He nodded. "I believe that for this to work effectively, it would be...logical... for us to use this method, given the emotional nature of the situation."

Christine looked at him in amazement. "Spock... you want us to develop a friendship?"

"That is correct. I believe this will ease our burden considerably. We do not know each other. If we have a more substantial bond, it should benefit us in both our physical activities and our everyday lives. We are obviously going to be together a great deal these next two months. It is only logical that we make our time together as enjoyable and beneficial as possible."

Christine couldn't help but smile. Even in this he had to invoke logic. But she accepted that as being part of who he was. "Well, shall we begin now?" she asked.

He sat beside her on the bed, one eyebrow raised and a ghost of a smile on his own lips.

"I believe the expression is.... there is no time like the present."

He sighed. It was a low, drawn-out sound of pleasure. For some reason he thought of Dr. McCoy and what the good doctor would say if he could have seen him this past week. Doubtless he would not say anything, because he'd be shocked speechless. This image brought a small chuckle from him.

Christine stopped and looked at him. "Spock? What are you laughing at?" she asked.

"I was just thinking of what Dr. McCoy would say if he were here."

Christine laughed as well. "I doubt he could say much of anything while lying unconscious on the floor," she replied.

"Indeed. Now please continue. It is very pleasurable."

She didn't answer. Instead she applied more warm oil to her palms and began rubbing his back in slow, firm movements. She could almost feel the tension in him slowly melting away beneath her fingers. He sighed again as she hit one of the few remaining tense spots, slowly kneading it away. Christine had found out only that morning that Spock had never had a massage. At the time she'd taken the five-week class at the Academy, she had thought she might never get to put it to use. Now she was very glad she had.

As she rubbed and worked Spock's back, she thought about everything that had happened in the past six days. Once they'd decided to become friends, they had spent several hours each day just talking, getting to know each other. Spock learned that Christine's parents had been scientists as well, that she loved classical music and could play the violin, and she had been on Vulcan before and could even speak the basics of the language. These things impressed and intrigued him, and he had to remind himself that until now, he had never made an attempt to learn about who she was. He had only run away from her blindly, afraid of her and all she represented.

He'd told her this hesitantly, as though afraid she'd have an outburst. But she'd only nodded. "The cause was sufficient," she'd said, quoting Surak. And he'd been pleased by her response as well. Christine had no concept of how hard it had been for Spock to let go of logic and allow himself to freely feel emotion; she wouldn't insult him by pretending that she did. But for an entire day and night he had meditated, and when he came out she was astonished at the change in him. He wasn't acting 100% like a human, not at all. But he was allowing more of that side of him to show. He'd laughed with her, shown anger when they discussed their situation, even gotten pensive when he told her of I-Chaya, his childhood Sehlat. And she'd done her best not to overreact, to maintain some sense of composure even when he expressed a feeling, so he would not feel too self-conscious.

But when it came to sex…

That first night after Spock had finished meditating and they had been talking, he'd suddenly pulled her to him, lips sealing hers in a kiss. There was no hesitation in him, no resistance. She had been both startled and thrilled. The experience was intense, to say the least, and instead of filling her had left her wanting more. He'd laughed and playfully kissed her nose, saying that there had to be SOME time for recuperation. They'd slept curled around each other like lovers. She abandoned her poise when they were physical, gave herself to him in a frenzy of desire. But he did not seem to mind. Oh, no. Not at all.

Now as she finished with his massage, she found herself aching to touch him in other ways. He seemed to feel this, for he turned over and slid his hands up her arms, gazing into her eyes. He'd pulled his jumpsuit down so she could rub his back, and her eyes traveled down his chest then back up to look into his. She felt like he could look into her soul, his stare was so deep. He gently pulled her down to him, running his fingers through her blonde curls. She traced the outline of his mouth lightly with a fingertip, watching as he shuddered. She remembered how delighted she'd been to find out that he had such a strong response to her doing that. A Vulcan erogenous zone, she'd teased. He caught her finger in his mouth, holding it for a second before letting go. He smiled at her, and she was lost in the beauty of it.

He unzipped her jumpsuit, pulling it slowly down her body and tugging it off, then removing his own clothes. He stretched out beside her, enjoying the sight of her skin bathed in the silvery moonlight from their window. He ran two fingers lightly down her throat, stopping to feel her pulse leap from his touch. His fingers then traveled lower until they reached her breasts. He leisurely kissed and stroked them, teasing her until she thought she would go mad. He moved on to her stomach, tracing lazy circles around her navel before smoothing her hips with the palms of his hands.

By now Christine was moaning and tossing her head from side to side. But he didn't stop. Instead he moved to the end of the bed and took her right foot in his hands. He caressed it, rubbing his thumbs over the arch and heel. He playfully wiggled her toes, then took them one by one into his mouth. No one had ever done that to her before, and Christine found that it produced a sensation somewhere between pleasure and a tickle. She gasped. He continued with her left foot, giving it the same treatment before moving up the bed slightly. She wet her lips and closed her eyes; eager for whatever he would do next.

He began planting light kisses up one leg, one palm resting on her hip, one hand stroking her inner thigh. When he reached the center of her, his lips moved over until they were just above the soft hair that covered her womanhood.

'Shall I stop?' he thought to her.

'No!! I mean, no, please don't stop,' she thought back to him. She felt his amusement before his mouth moved down to the most secret parts of her. His tongue was gentle as he began to stroke her, lightly and slowly. She gasped for breath, arching against him. He slid his hands under her hips as he continued. Through the link he felt her intense response. He had never done this before and was pleased to know he was being proficient. He continued licking her until she thought to him, 'Spock, stop! I can't take any more.'

He complied, moving up to face her. She was flushed and breathing hard. "What would you like me to do now?" he asked with an air of innocence.

In response Christine rolled him onto his back, straddling him. Before he could speak, she had lowered herself onto him and carefully pushed him inside her.

'I see,' he thought, laughing.

But she didn't move. For a long moment she kept still, just feeling him inside her, having him feel himself in her. Then she bent to kiss him. As their lips met, he felt a movement within her. It felt as though she was contracting something…

He gasped into her mouth as her muscles clamped down on him, then released him. He pulled back, startled. "Christine, what are you--"

"You just be quiet," she ordered. His eyebrow flew up. "I am going to show you just how pleasurably frustrating being teased can be."

She didn't give him a chance to respond, silencing him with her mouth as she contracted and released again. She continued to do this for another ten times, each time using more pressure. She could feel how hard he was inside her, feel his heart beating wildly near her stomach.

As she started to do it yet again, he grasped her hips. 'Unless you want this to be over now, I would advise you to stop,' he thought to her. 'I am at the edge of my endurance.'

'Oh? And what would you like me to do now?" she thought back to him with a mental grin.

Even as she asked, Spock had rolled her beneath him, still inside her. They moved as one being, both mind and body. He rocked her gently against him, loving the sound of her moans. He could feel that she was close, and he moved his head down to kiss her. When he did that, kissing her while moving slowly against her, she always went over the edge.

This time was no exception, and he held her close as she came. She mentally called his name as the tremors took her, carrying her to a place she had never known existed before.

He waited until she was almost spent, then he began moving inside her again, faster than before. She moaned and raked her nails lightly down his back, knowing that he enjoyed it. 'Harder,' he thought to her.

She did it again, and he shook against her. He was almost at the brink himself. 'Harder,' he thought to her again.

She hesitated. 'I don't want to hurt you--'

'You will not hurt me, I promise. Now harder!'

She clenched her teeth slightly, digging her nails in and dragging them down. He cried out with the strength of his orgasm, and his body jerked so hard that he lifted both of them off the bed before collapsing against her. Both of them breathless, he lay with his head on her breasts; arms flung out beside her as she stroked his hair. Strong feelings of warmth and tenderness flowed between them through the link, bathing them in a deep sense of peace.

Christine had just pulled the sheet up over them when their door opened and Dashitan came in. Even in the moonlight they could see that he seemed very pleased.

"I must tell you, I did not think you would be able to do it," he said with a laugh. "But I am most impressed with what I saw. You have proven that I will not have to keep you drugged. I am pleased."

As Spock and Christine comprehended exactly what his statement implied, he resumed speaking.

"In another 44 moons, the competition takes place. You will be permitted to see your friends once a week until then. I want most of your time to be spent focused on each other. Whatever you did, one called Spock, it worked. Now see to it that you continue it. I will monitor you once a week. The first three times you will not know when I am doing it. The last three you will. I want to see how well you do when you know for certain that you are being watched."

"It may comfort you to know that until the competition, you will not be sent for by the Jistanah again. He likes to give the competing slaves as much time as possible to be alone together. You will also be permitted to go into the courtyard twice a week to enjoy the outside."

He smiled at them, and this time it was genuine. "I have no doubt from what I saw that you two can win. And when you do, your lives here will be secure, as will those of your friends. You should sleep now," he added smugly. "You look as though you'll need it."

With those words he left, guards trailing behind him. Christine sighed. "So you were right. He CAN watch us in here."

"It would seem so. However, we have passed his test. We will not be drugged. It also seems that we are being given privileges."

"I guess he really got off on it."

Spock heard the sarcastic bitterness in her voice and turned her to face him. "Christine. The fact that we were being observed does not change what happened between us, nor does it make it less genuine."

"I know," she said quietly as she snuggled against him. "I just hate it. I hate being watched by any of them."

"As do I. But it cannot be helped."

She smiled. "Dashitan was right about one thing. I AM tired. Someone wore me out."

"Indeed? Who could that have been?"

Christine smacked him with a pillow, laughing. He smiled back at her. Arms around each other, they settled down for sleep.

* * *

"Stop!! You!! Kirk!!! You will come here, now!!"

Kirk sighed. It had been stupid of him, knocking out that guard. But he didn't like the way the man had leered at Uhura, even though she ignored it. It was his duty as a captain to protect the crew. Only now who was going to protect him from Dashitan's wrath?

As Kirk was dragged before him, Dashitan looked more amused than angry. "Why do you persist in disobedience?" he asked Kirk. He didn't wait for a response, merely sighed. "I suppose I will have to show you proper behavior from a slave by example."

He turned to the guards. "Bring me the chosen ones."

Spock and Christine were sound asleep when the guards entered the room. They were unceremoniously yanked out of bed and handed their robes, then escorted to a room where Dashitan stood with the captain and more guards. Dashitan smiled when he saw them. "Ah. My pride and joy. Perhaps the two of you can show your captain how to behave."

Spock and Christine stared at him in confusion. He turned back to Kirk. "Did you see that guard touch the Uhura woman?"

"No…" Kirk answered.

Dashitan looked at Uhura, who had watched the goings on from a nearby heap of pillows. "You, Uhura. Did that man or any other man here ever touch you?"

"No," she answered honestly.

"No." Dashitan looked back to Kirk. "When I told you that the two of you were paired, it meant you and no one else would touch each other. Yes, Hijer looked at her with desire. She is quite beautiful. But he nor any other man here would ever lay a hand on her. Touching is forbidden. Looking is not."

With those words, he motioned to the guards. "Chain him to the wall," he ordered, indicating Kirk.

When Kirk had been secured, Dashitan turned to Christine. "You, fair one. Sit there with the

Christine complied. Dashitan turned his attention to Spock. "Now you will give your friend a lesson in obedience." His voice lost its smoothness and took on an edge. "Kneel."

Spock knelt before him. Dashitan walked to the opposite wall where Kirk stood, eyes downcast. "You will watch this, one called Kirk, or the ladies might be sorry." Kirk's eyes came up to look at him, blazing with anger. Dashitan ignored this and turned towards Spock. "Come here, one called Spock. On your hands and knees. I want your captain to learn his lesson well."

Anger kindled in Spock as well, but he knew he could not risk defiance. Doubtless Christine and perhaps Uhura would suffer for it. Head lowered, staring at the ground, Spock quickly crawled to Dashitan's side. Dashitan extended one jewel-covered slipper. Spock went rigid. He felt a flutter of anxiety and realized it was coming from Christine. Swallowing hard, he forced himself to lower his head and kiss the foot resting before him. He turned his mind inward, trying to focus on something other than his humiliation, and felt Christine's soft presence. 'Don't let him win' was all she said, but it was enough. And then Spock raised his head to look directly into Dashitan's face.

"My master," he said quietly.

"Excellent. You see how well this one behaves?" He motioned for Spock to rise and go sit with Christine and Uhura. He glared at Kirk. "YOU will follow his example, with no more impertinence. Otherwise, the next punishment will be much more severe." He called the guards over. "Take the chosen ones back to their room. You, Kirk, are going to repeat his actions. Then I am going to evaluate your performance level. Should there be a tie in the competition, another pair of slaves perform as the deciding factor. I must choose which of you that will be."

Christine barely had time to exchange a sympathetic glance with Uhura before the guards took her and Spock back to their quarters. Once inside, Spock paced the room with measured strides while Christine looked on helplessly. At length he stopped, looking at her with a sigh. "I suppose it could have been worse," he said finally.

"Much worse. But you endured it. You kept your control."

"Indeed." He looked away for a moment, then his eyes searched her face. "Do you mind if we return to sleeping? I am somewhat fatigued, as I believe you are also."

"Yes, Spock. That's fine."

He said no more, only pulled back the covers as she turned off the light. Removing their robes, they lay down beside each other. This time it was Christine who gently pulled Spock close to her. He moved willingly, resting his head near her breast as she put her arms around him. This particular ordeal over, they fell back asleep.

* * *

Spock awakened early the next morning, memories from the night before immediately returning to him despite his wishes. He knew Kirk had to have had some reason for what he did, even though the particulars were unknown. He wasn't angry at his friend, only at Dashitan for making him perform to fulfill his need for control. It was logical, however. Doubtless Jim was filled with remorse and would take the blame upon himself. Humans did that quite easily.

'And Vulcans cannot?' he thought to himself, remembering his reaction to Christine's near-beating.

She didn't blame Spock for that, but Spock felt responsible. Since their arrival, Spock's life had gotten extremely complicated. And unfortunately it was likely to stay that way. He looked up from Christine's shoulder into her face. Her support from last night, simple and quiet, had comforted him. He was unused to either needing or accepting comfort. He reflected on the irony that although his body was a prisoner, his mind had also become a captive. Captive to his growing attachment to her.

And he hated to admit it even to himself, but knew he had no choice. He was worried. All right, afraid. Afraid of what he was feeling for her. He had spent so much of his life keeping emotion at bay. But he was learning that he no longer wanted to do that. Their imprisonment had caused him to examine his repression, and he had discovered to his shock that part of him was exhausted. Exhausted from having to fight with himself over feeling emotion. Even now part of him gasped with shame over this self-disclosure; the other part screamed for him to let go and give in to his feelings. And he did not know what to do. He had usually ignored this part of him in the past. But it had become so strong now that he didn't know if he could continue to do so. Or if he even wanted to.

All he really wanted to do at the moment was go back to sleep with her holding him and try not to think about the competition. The competition! He did a quick calculation of the passage of time. If he was correct, it would take place in 2 days. He and Christine had been making love on a regular basis, with very satisfactory results. But the thought of doing so in front of an audience he was aware of again made him feel very reprehensible. Perhaps... it was time for them to do a full bonding. If he were in the throes of shan hal lak, he would scarcely notice anything but Christine. He would discuss it with her later. He closed his eyes and fell asleep.

* * *

Christine awoke to light kisses on her face. She instinctively arched her body, smiling. Her dark blue eyes opened to meet Spock's. He smiled back briefly before his expression became serious. "I must discuss something with you, Christine."

She immediately sat up, concerned but waiting calmly. "What is it, Spock?"

He put on his robe, then rose and paced the room.

She said nothing, putting on her own robe and sitting

on the bed. Finally he came back to her, taking her

hands in his as he sat beside her.

"If I am correct, the competition will take place in two days."

She paled. Like Spock, she'd pushed that to the back of her mind as they'd focused on developing a friendship and sexual relationship. Now it came back to the front with frightening force. But he seemed purposeful, decisive. "You have a plan," she said.

He nodded. "One which I believe will resolve the…awkwardness of the situation, or at least make it more tolerable."

"All right, Spock. What's your plan?"

He didn't speak for a moment, and Christine sensed that what he was about to say was extremely difficult for him. Finally he replied: "I... believe that we should... bond."

It took a moment for her to register those words. When she did she was startled. "You mean... a total bonding link."


"What will this do that's different from what we have now?"

He cleared his throat. "For those who have been linked and then bond, sexual desire brings on shan hal lak."

"Shan hal lak? What's that?"

"It is... bonded mating. It is an experience nearly as intense as... the mating drive, but without the madness."

"I see." Now it was her turn not to speak for a moment. Then she said: "Spock, I am completely in favor of whatever is necessary for us to win and escape from here. But... this bonding. Can it be undone?"

He stared at her. This was unexpected. "I did not realize you would wish to undo it," he said stiffly.

She jumped up and looked down at him, eyes blazing as his had weeks before. "Spock, I love you, and I'm sorry that I do, because I know you can't love me. I've tried not to burden you with it. But I have never wanted you because of obligation or duty or any way other than your own choice. This is not really of our choosing. I don't want to have you tied to me forever out of necessity."

"Even if it meant your death? Or mine?" he asked.

Her eyes filled with tears, but she held them back. "Spock, I'd crawl through Hell backwards on my hands and knees to save your life, and you know that. I just... the thought of you being with me because of this…" She turned from him, wishing she could run away. But there was nowhere for her to run, or him. Whether either of them liked it or not, they were bound together.

She felt Spock standing behind her. One arm went around her waist, while his right hand gently stroked the tears off of her cheeks. She turned to face him, and he put both arms around her, soothing her through the link. When he felt that she was calm, he tipped her head up and looked into her eyes. "It is true that these circumstances are not of our choosing. But that does not change my... feelings for you."

She stared at him, completely at a loss. "What do you mean?"

He brushed her temple with his fingers. "Bond with me and let me show you."

She nodded, not trusting her voice. He touched her contact points gently, bringing their thoughts together. She saw all the conflict he had been experiencing. She was astounded that much of it had to do with her. She hadn't realized... didn't know…

'Now you do,' he thought to her.

Yes, she did. 'I'm sorry for what I said--' she began, only to have him stop her.

'You did not understand. Your response was a noble one. '

She said no more, only enjoyed the contact of their minds as the bond strengthened. His mind pushed deeper into hers. It seemed to go on forever, reaching and sharing. Finally Spock removed his hands. His mind... it was still there! Far in the back of hers, but she could feel it. It was unlike anything she'd ever experienced, and she almost wept again with the joy of it. He smiled. She could feel him projecting that he, too, enjoyed having her in his thoughts.

"Shall we test our bonding?" he asked.

She took one hand in hers and kissed his fingers. "Sounds... logical."

Laughing in her thoughts, he picked her up and carried her to the bed.

* * *

Christine stirred, stretching as she became fully alert. Spock lay beside her, the purple satin sheet tangled around his waist. Her heart skipped a beat as she watched him sleep. Her hands ached to touch him. But that had to wait. After their first... enthusiastic coupling when they fully bonded, they had decided to abstain from any sort of sexual activity for the next two days; the idea being to let some tension build up before the competition. And had there ever been tension. It had taken willpower on both their parts not to do anything. But they had managed, using the time to talk and tell each other things about their lives. She was still in shock over everything that had happened in the past few months. She had gone from loving Spock and hurting because she thought it would never be to sharing his bed and having a place in his heart. And none of it would have happened it they hadn't been taken prisoner here. Of course she was not happy about that. But what she knew, and could never tell Spock, was that she would have gladly taken punishment from Dashitan if it led to her having Spock's love. Even now she felt the faint traces of his mind in hers. It was a warm sensation of peace and serenity that she would always cherish. She sighed. Tonight the competition would take place. She and Spock would be displaying their passion for the Jistanah and Lord knew who else to see. She laughed mentally-- Starfleet DAMN sure didn't have anything in the regs that helped with this situation. They were on their own, all of them.

He moved beside her, opening his eyes to gaze into hers. He didn't speak, instead covering one of her hands with his. She stroked his hair away from his face, kissing one upswept brow as she did before she rose. She was pulling on her robe when the door opened. Hastily wrapping it around herself, she turned to see Dashitan and his guards standing in the room.

"Good morning," he said. "Rested for tonight, I trust?"

"We are ready," Spock said quietly, trying to keep the edge out of his voice.

"Good. You are to see your friends briefly today, to help remind you of what is at stake."

"As if we could forget," Christine said acerbically.

The man only smiled. "I am glad to see you so full of fire this early, one called Christine. May it continue into the night, for all your sakes." He turned to leave, pausing at the doorway. "After you

see your friends, you will not see each other until the competition. You must each be made ready. You have the day to spend together. I will return late this afternoon."

"Goody," Christine muttered as he left. Spock raised an eyebrow.

"You seem to be... unusually sarcastic this morning," he commented.

She shrugged. "Trying to fill in for Leonard," she said with a smile.

"Indeed. It would seem that the good doctor has taught you more than patient care."

Now she laughed, her eyes sparkling like sapphires. "And YOU, my dear Spock, are just as capable of smarting off as Leonard will ever be."

Now he raised both eyebrows. Before he could protest her statement, she walked into the bathroom with a grin. "I'm taking a bath now."

He said nothing, only watched her disappear with the ghost of a smile on his own lips.

* * *

The remainder of the day passed quickly, with hours seeming like minutes. By the time Dashitan came to take them to see the others Christine's stomach was in knots. Spock sensed her anxiety and did his best to calm her. He projected his feelings for her through the link, which did much to soothe and strengthen her.

It will be all right, she thought. Spock cares for me like I do for him, and we are going to endure. Once he sensed her renewed confidence he withdrew his prominent thoughts, but remained present as he always did. By the time they reached the captain and Uhura's quarters, she was back in control of herself.

As soon as they went in she greeted the captain, then headed into the bathroom with Uhura so that Spock could talk to him in private, and she with Nyota. She felt a quick flash of gratitude from him through the bond, and she projected back that he was welcome. Nyota sat down on the floor near the tub, and Christine followed suit. "Tonight's the big night," Nyota said softly.


"How are you holding up?"

Christine laughed. "Better than I ever would have thought possible."

Her friend eyed her shrewdly. "I have a feeling there's a story with you and Spock that I don't know about."

"Let's just say that we have reached an… understanding."

"Oh, come on!! What kind of bullshit answer is that?" Nyota asked with a laugh.

"The only one I'm going to give you," Christine responded with a wicked grin.

"Fine, fine." Her gaze became provocative. "But I KNOW you and Spock have been 'practicing.' So how has THAT been?"

Chris gaped. "How do you know that?"

"Two ways. One: because it would be the "logical" thing to do, and two: your friendly neighborhood Dashitan told us."

"That bastard," Christine swore. "It really doesn't mean anything to him other than winning this contest. He doesn't care WHAT kind of hell he's put us through."

"Hey, Chris, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to get you riled up."

"It's all right." She could tell that Spock had felt her strong outburst and was curious about the cause. But he was more concerned with her emotional state. 'Control, Christine. You must control.'

'I know. Sorry,' she thought to him.

He acknowledged this before fading away again.

Christine turned back to her friend. "Well, since you know, it's been... wonderful. Can I please leave it at that?" she begged. "I don't want to 'kiss and tell' with Spock."

Now Nyota laughed. "I understand. I feel kinda the same way with Jim."

"Oh-ho, so it's JIM now, is it?" Christine decided what was good for the goose…

The other woman actually blushed before answering: "Well, if you two don't win, we have to be the tiebreakers. So we've had to... 'practice' also."

"And how has that been?" Christine asked.

"Let's just say…. fantastic and leave it at that," Nyota said demurely.

"Uh-huh. I bet you two have been going at it like sea otters."

Nyota rolled with laughter. "Well, when you're all alone in a bedroom and you only get to go outside twice a week, what else is there to do? Conversation will only get you so far, you know!"

By now both of them were laughing in near-hysterics, wiping at their eyes while they smiled at each other. In the other room, Spock was at a loss to understand why Christine was suddenly so amused, but decided that it could wait. Kirk had spent the past 5 minutes staring at everything but Spock, and the Vulcan had decided that he would have to speak first. "Jim," he said quietly.

Kirk turned towards him, but still wouldn't look at him. Spock spoke again. "I do not blame you for what happened."

"No?" Kirk asked tightly. "That's funny, because I damn sure do."

"You are not responsible for what Dashitan does--" Spock began, but Jim cut his words off.

"I'm responsible for my crew, Spock! I should've kept my temper."

"I am sure you had what you felt was sufficient cause to lose it."

Kirk let out a long, hard breath. "One of the guards was drooling over Uhura. It bothered me."

"I understand your being concerned. She is a fellow officer. It was only professional of you."

Kirk sighed again. "No, Spock. I mean it bothered me personally and professionally."

"I see." Spock was at somewhat of a loss for words. It had not occurred to him that what happened with him and Christine might happen with the captain and Uhura. Kirk went on.

"I know you can't understand that, but I'm sorry it happened. There's nothing I can do to atone for it, I know. You have every right to be angry. I just hope you'll forgive me."

"I do not blame you to have to forgive you. And... I understand better than you might think."

Now it was Kirk's turn to be surprised. "Well. That's... interesting, Spock. Don't worry- I don't need you to elaborate. I suspected that possibility when Dashitan told us that you and Miss Chapel were... doing the same thing we've been doing."

"Indeed." Now Spock thought he knew the source of Christine's anger. It threatened to spark up within him as well. He quickly stopped it from turning into a boil as Kirk went on.

"Well. Whatever exactly has happened, as long as you're all right with it, I'm glad."

"I am... quite all right."

The two of them looked at each other for a long moment, understanding flowing wordlessly between them. Dashitan chose that moment to return. "Well. Now that you've all had a chance to chat, it's nearly time to go." Christine and Uhura came out of the bathroom. He motioned towards them. "Ladies, you will be prepared in another part of the palace. Come with me."

"Where are Sulu and Davidson?" Kirk demanded.

"Do not worry, Kirk. They will be attending to the guests this evening and are completely unharmed. Now, ladies, come with me please."

Christine was outwardly composed, but couldn't help feeling a flutter of nervousness at being separated from Spock. But she didn't want him to worry, so she controlled herself. As they were led from the room he looked at her. 'I am with you,' he thought to her.

'I know.' She smiled faintly as she walked out the door, calm again. More guards came in, and Spock and Kirk were taken away as well; to whatever preparations were to be made for each of them.

Spock was led to a small, dimly lit room. Kirk was taken to an adjacent one. Guards removed his clothes and gently pressed him down onto a low table covered with silver satin cushions. They covered him from the waist down with a silver sheet. As they stood around the room talking to each other, one man sat beside Spock on the floor. Next to him was a tray with several jars and brushes upon it. He dipped a brush into a jar, and Spock saw that it was covered with some type of silver paint. The man brushed the paint over Spock's eyelids and into his eyebrows. He dipped the brush again. Now he painted Spock's nipples. Spock lay still, stunned over what was happening. Now the man took another brush and dipped it into what appeared to be silver powder. This was brushed into his hair. The man opened a small box, pushing the contents around a moment before smiling. He pulled out a pair of black pearl studs.

Before Spock had time to react, they had been stabbed through his earlobes. There was a stinging pain from the wounds, but it faded as the man gently rubbed a salve on his ears. His eyes were lined with soft black charcoal. His attendant fussed with his hair, adding more powder to make it gleam.

Spock was trembling now, but was quiet. He knew he had to endure it. Doubtless Jim was going through something similar. Spock hoped his friend would be able to keep himself from reacting. There were no sounds coming from the other room, so Spock assumed that he was remaining in control. Either that, or they had restrained him. Dashitan came in and knelt beside Spock.

"Well, Spock. You time is almost near. You look exquisite."

Dashitan drew a finger down Spock's face. Spock fought the urge to push his hand away. Dashitan took more of the soft black charcoal and brushed it into Spock's eyelashes. Spock lay still. His eyes felt strange to him, like someone else's. They felt heavy from the paint. Dashitan finished his task and ordered Spock to look at him. Spock did.

"Remember what I have told you. Do not disappoint me. Or you will watch as Christine dies."

Spock closed his eyes. He heard the sound of something being sprayed. His sheet was pulled off and something was misted over his entire body. It was musky and sweet, with a hint of spices. Spock recognized the smell. It reminded him of the Proxitan they had drank. The heavy silver sheet was replaced. He felt his senses come to life as he inhaled the fragrance. He felt a gentle stirring of desire, doubtless what Dashitan intended. He sighed, accepting his body's response to the scent. He rolled his head back on the pillows, allowing the desire free reign. Dashitan laughed quietly.

"You have made much progress, Spock. I have faith that you will win."

With that he departed. Spock heard his guards approaching. They lifted his table. His hands were raised and crossed at the waist. He understood and kept them above his head as they slowly carried him out.

Spock was carried into the main throne room. The lights were dim, casting shadows everywhere. Hypnotic music floated from the instruments of three men sitting in an archway. Spock was slightly alarmed to see not just the Jistanah, but dozens of people sitting on piles of pillows eating and talking. No one seemed to notice his entrance, and as he looked in the center of the room he understood why.

A man and woman lay on a heap of pillows, bodies glistening with oil, hair and limbs tangled together. They were engaged in the most animalistic display of sex that Spock could imagine seeing. The woman was sitting astride the man, lush breasts heaving as she ground her hips into his. The man bucked beneath her, moaning loudly, hands grasping her buttocks to hold her against him. Spock turned away, sickened by what he saw; but more so from knowing that before the night was ended, that would be him and Christine.

He was placed in the lower right corner of the throne room, still on the table. The guards warned him not to get up or even move his hands. Then they withdrew. Avoiding looking at the center of the room, Spock glanced around. He saw Sulu and Davidson serving drinks to guests. Sulu was decorated with rubies, and Davidson with emeralds. Both of them were nude as well, and looked distinctively ashamed as they circled the spectators. A movement to his left caught Spock's eye, and he turned his head.

It was Christine. She was being carried in as he had, and like him she was nude save a sheet around her waist. She had been painted with silver as he had, but in her ears there were sapphire earrings. She also wore silver bracelets inlaid with sapphires. Her eyes looked around the room, first in relief as she saw Spock, then panic as she saw the couple moving with wild abandon in front of the crowd. Her table was placed next to Spock's. She, too, was told not to move before the guards left.

Her gaze was frightened as she met his eyes. "Spock…" she whispered.


"We have to do that, Spock. In front of all of them."

"I know," he replied softly.

She arched her back slightly. She could smell the scent on him as well as herself, and it was affecting her as much as she hated it. But maybe it was a good thing, she thought. They would need every advantage they had to get through this.

Spock looked into her eyes. "When we begin, we will open our bond fully, leaving nothing between us. The shan hal lak will claim us both."

"And then what?"

"Then we will let our minds go and our bodies will follow."

She nodded, afraid as she had never been before in her life, but trusting him.

More guards came in, leading Kirk and Uhura between them. They were similarly adorned, Kirk with gold and emeralds, and Uhura with gold and diamonds. Uhura pointed to them, and both her and Kirk looked relieved to know everyone was all right. Then they seemed to remember that they were naked, and looked at the floor as they were led to the opposite wall to sit.

Spock saw Jim touch Uhura's hand, speaking quietly to her. She was nodding, and smiled at him faintly. She leaned back against him, and he put his arms around her. Spock wished that he could pull Christine into his arms and they could soothe each other that way. He searched her face. She smiled at him as if to reassure him, and he smiled back.

By now the couple had finished, their final cries of ecstasy applauded by the crowd. The pillows were removed and new ones put in their place. Dashitan came in and walked directly to them. "Did you enjoy watching one of your competitors?" he asked with a laugh.

They only looked at him. He laughed again. "Still a bit shy, are we? I know you will overcome that quickly." He motioned for a guard. "Spray the perfume on them again. I want to be sure they get off to a good start."

Dashitan turned back to them. "The Jistanah is considering the previous performance for a short time." He smiled. Christine shivered. "When he returns, you will be next."

Spock and Christine had no time to respond before Dashitan walked away. They lay next to each other in silence, watching as the Jistanah walked back into the room. Guards came to them, pulling them off their tables and pushing them onto their hands and knees. Side by side they slowly crawled towards the center of the room. The Jistanah seated himself on the throne again, gazing at them expectantly. The music changed, became slower, almost dreamlike. Now all eyes were on them, save the other crewmembers. Dashitan stood near the throne, watching their approach. They reached the pillows and settled themselves in the midst of them.

'Now?' Christine thought to Spock.

'Yes. Now.'

Christine pulled Spock over her, fingers touching each other's faces to help intensify the initial

melding. She brushed her lips to his face, gasping as the emotions surged and he caught her mouth with his.

'Close your eyes,' he told her. 'I have an idea.'

She did, and her mind was taken to a scene on Dilaran, the last place the ship had visited before Renata. She was lying near a waterfall under a moonlit sky. Spock was beside her. She reached up hers arms to him, and he bent over her and kissed her. Her fingers slid into his hair, caressing his ears, keeping his mouth on hers. He slowly ran his hands down her shoulders, hot fingers clutching her cool breasts. He stroked them eagerly, and her nipples became tight and hard beneath his touch. He cupped them in his hands, tugging and smoothing the flesh. Her gasp of pleasure was engulfed by his lips, and he brought them down to the soft creamy curves, licking and sucking with mouth and tongue. She knew she was moaning aloud but didn't care. In her mind they were alone, and she wanted to hold on to that illusion. They kissed and caressed each other for what seemed like hours before her urges prompted her to take the next step.

She moved from under him, stretching her body out fully onto his as he turned onto his back. Eyes still closed, she began to lick the delicate curves of his ears. Her lips then trailed down his throat, swiping her tongue at his pulse point before she began planting kisses on his chest. She gently pulled on the soft hairs there with her mouth, mentally smiling as he gasped. She lightly raked her nails over his nipples, which caused him to shudder. Sliding her tongue over his ribs down his stomach, she circled his navel before nuzzling the black curls below.

Slowly she took him into her mouth, moving her lips lightly over his hardness. She heard a low moan wrench itself from his throat. She quickened her movements, but kept her mouth so lightly on him that all it served to do was incite his hunger even further. His hands caressed her breasts, her back. He pulled her up and astride him, gripping her waist while she arched against him. Then he shifted so that both of them were sitting on their heels, with him behind her. One hand massaged her breasts while the other stroked her moist center. She rested her head against his shoulder, feeling her own body burning from his touch, moving slowly against him.

Just when she was sure she could stand it no longer, the fire that had been smoldering in both of them leaped into a blaze of flames. She turned and pushed him down onto his back again. She kissed him as she thrust her body against his, and her mouth was wet and urgent. He held her tight, then pressed against her until she sat up. His erection slid between her shaking legs. She opened herself to him, and he entered her.

Their minds still locked in the mental fantasy, she began sliding up and down while he rocked his hips in time with her movements. Her breath came in short hard gasps with occasional cries of pleasure. He quickened the pace, lifting both their bodies with his thrusts. Her face and breasts were flushed, her sounds of excitement louder. She rested her hands on his chest, stroking his skin, flexing her fingers like a cat would its claws. She worked her muscles against his engorged penis, flexing them, clamping him like a vise. He moaned, squeezing her hips. She knew they were both approaching their peak.

And that was when the shan hal lak completely took control of them, merging both their minds into one sheer flame of nothing but desire. It seemed impossible for them to go faster, harder, but they did; bodies jerking, sweat mingling, moans primal and raw. When they came he screamed with the intensity of it, slamming his body against hers, nearly throwing her off of him from the strength of his thrusts. She clenched his shoulders, riding it out with him as her own climax consumed her so utterly she thought she would collapse. Somehow she held on to both him and consciousness, giving her own strangled howl of fulfillment before limply sliding down onto him.

Slowly Christine became aware of the sounds of cheering and thunderous clapping. As the fever left her she returned to the present. They lay on the floor of the throne room; all the pillows had been scattered during their union. She could smell the remains of the perfume mixed with their own fluids.

She quickly looked down at Spock. His arms were around her back now, holding her against him almost as a shield. His eyes shut, he asked: "Is it over?"

"It's over." Her body was still very shaky and she could feel his was as well. Trembling and grateful, they lay holding each other until the guards came and lifted them onto a wide couch. They were once again taken to the corner of the room and left. They lay facing each other, wrapped in each other's arms while all around them people talked and laughed. I don't care, Christine thought. What I care about is here.

She pressed closer to Spock, and he buried his face against her neck.

Someone stretched a sheet over them. Dazed, Spock looked up to see Kirk and Uhura, now wearing robes, standing at the foot of their couch. Christine opened her eyes as well. The four of them looked at each other for a long moment before Uhura said: "The Jistanah is about to make a decision."

The guards returned, lifting them back into the center of the room where the other three couples also lay on couches, waiting. The Jistanah slowly walked down towards all of them. His eyes scanned each couple, as though mentally recalling their performance. After what seemed like an eternity, he raised one finger as he had done a lifetime ago... and pointed and Christine and Spock.

There were loud cheers coupled with cries of disappointment as the decision was made. Dashitan came over to them, his face glowing. "I knew you would succeed! Never has the Jistanah seemed so pleased. You have bought your lives, and those of your friends."

Christine and Spock sighed in unison. Dashitan continued. "You will be returned to your room now. Rest. You certainly deserve it! Tomorrow I will give you your privileges. Now I go to claim MY rewards."

And he was gone.

They were carried back to their room, which was fine with Christine; she didn't think she had the strength to walk yet. They were deposited in their bed and left alone. As the guards left, one turned halfway to give them a look of anger. Christine couldn't understand why, and didn't really care. All she wanted at that moment was to be near Spock, to try and put this night from her mind. They were both physically and mentally drained.

"Are you ... feeling better now, T'hy'la?"

Spock's words jerked her from her stupor. Stunned, she looked at him. "What... did you call me?!" she whispered.


"That means... loved one."


She lay nestled close to him, completely in shock. But she answered: "Yes, I am," then added: "T'hy'la."

She saw the fleeting smile of his response. That was the last thing her mind clung to before her exhausted body claimed her for sleep.

* * *

Spock took a deep breath, absorbing the smells of the garden. He and Christine were now allowed to walk the grounds of the palace, as part of their "reward." They could not leave the palace gates, but it was better than being as confined as before. They could also see the others as often as they pleased. The captain had told them to use their status to look for a means of escape. So they had spent as much time as they could the past three days since the competition wandering around. Although they did not like public displays of their feelings for each other, they walked hand-in-hand to maintain what Dashitan called the "proper image" of "the chosen" paired slaves. They'd also been given new clothes, and so had the others.

Now Spock wore a black silk shirt with lacings up the front, and black silk pants that resembled Chinese pajamas. Christine wore a short-sleeved rose-colored silk dress that flowed around her ankles. So far they'd not had any luck, but were still searching. A guard walked about 20 feet behind them, their "personal guard" for their excursions. It was the same man who had looked at them angrily after they won. His name was Tomir. He was completely polite to them, but every now and then Christine noticed him giving them that look. She had had about enough of it and planned on confronting him. Later. Right now she wanted to pay careful attention to their surroundings.

Spock's hand was smooth and warm in hers. It made her skin tingle. Even after all they had endured, his nearness still aroused her. They had not touched each other sexually in the past 3 days, but had slept in each other's embrace every night and walked hand-in-hand every day. How a person could be so miserable and so happy at the same time was beyond her understanding, but she was.

She came out of her musings to find him gazing at her, one eyebrow arched. She smiled, quickly pushing her lascivious thoughts out of her mind. He probably never wanted to have sex again, after all they'd been through. She was amazed that she did. But she didn't want to tell him; didn't want to risk ruining what they had worked so hard to build. Maybe later on.

They were leaving the gardens and returning to their room. It was almost dark now. As they reached the door of their suite (they had also been given a new set of rooms) Christine spoke. "All right, Tomir, I want to know why you keep giving us dirty looks."

The man appeared startled, and Spock looked at her in puzzlement. "It would be most unfortunate if I had to tell Dashitan this," Christine threatened.

He bowed his head. "It is not your fault. But you see. My sister was in the competition. And because of the two of you, she lost. Now her owner may sell her to someone outside the palace and I will never see her again."

Christine was stunned. Spock raised both eyebrows. "I take it her owner expected her to win," he said.

"No outsiders have ever won this competition before. Not that there have even been many of you. So it was a shock to everyone."

Christine was silent for a moment. Then she spoke softly. "If we were not here, what would happen?"

"There would be a new competition. But you ARE here, which does Meenah no good."

"But what if we... escaped?" Christine whispered.

Tomir's eyes widened. "You are asking me to help you leave the palace?"

"Yes. But I'm also offering you a way to save your sister."

He looked shaken. "If I were caught at this, I would be killed."

"There could be a way," Christine said. "Without you being caught. We could make a plan. Just think about it."

"Very well. I will consider it. I love my sister dearly -- she is the only family I have left."

He called for the guards at the end of the hall, who came and stood as he opened their door. After they had entered their room Spock said: "You realize he could decide to tell Dashitan this."

"Yes, but I don't think he will. It's a chance I had to take."

"Quite a risk."

"True. We'll see what happens."

Spock said no more, stripping off his shirt and pants. She heart beat fast at the sight of him nude and bathed in moonlight. She turned and was removing her dress when he came up behind her, arms circling her waist. Her breath caught.

"You desire physical contact," he said. It wasn't a question.

She flushed, knowing that he had seen her earlier arousal in her thoughts. She must have broadcast it pretty loudly. He was amused; she could feel it. "I didn't think you'd ever want me again after--"

He sighed and turned her around. "After something we had no control over that has nothing to do with our bonding now? Are you always going to be so illogical?"

Before she could respond, his lips were on hers and her dress was in a heap on the floor.

* * *

Hours late Spock awoke abruptly. Someone was in their room. He sat up. Christine awoke as well.

Spock held up a hand and quickly pulled back a curtain from the bed. It was Tomir. He crept up to their bed. "What are you--" Spock began, but Tomir stopped him.

"Silence! There is little time. Your friends are in the hallway. Dress quickly. I will take you to a secret passage. You can get out of the palace gates through it."

"What changed your mind so fast?" Christine asked.

"Meenah's master has definitely decided to sell her. I must try and stop it. Hurry. I will be waiting at the door."

They rose and dressed, while Tomir stood with his back to them. When they were done he opened their door and they followed him out. There stood Kirk, Uhura, Sulu and Davidson. The six of them walked behind Tomir as he led them to a door and accessed it.

"Where are the guards?" Christine whispered.

"Inside night watch is done by only a few men. They have a set pattern. They are on the other end of the wing right now." He led them into a room which was a storage house for treasure. From a small box he took their phasers and communicators, handing them over.

"How will you explain this?" Kirk asked him as they took their belongings.

"I will not be here. I am going out of the palace as well. In a few months, I will disguise myself and some friends will arrange for me to see my sister. Now this way."

He pressed upon a large jade statue mounted on one wall. It caused a door to slide open. They entered and found themselves in a large passageway. Tomir started off and they followed. They had walked for what seemed like hours before reaching a small ladder leading up. He climbed it, turning a latch. He pushed the hatch open a crack and looked around, then down at them. "It is clear. Come."

They climbed out after him. It was pitch black, but Tomir had several small lanterns. "You came from that way, about several lirs by foot. Go quickly."

"Thank you," Christine said.

He smiled. "You can thank me by escaping and never coming back."

"If we get out, we'll make damn sure of that," Kirk said.

The other man nodded. "Good luck." And he turned off his light and started in the opposite direction.

Kirk grinned. "You heard the man. Let's go!"

Using the tricorders and Spock's night vision, they were able to go to the area of the beamdown site without using their lights. Kirk flipped open his communicator. "Enterprise, this is the captain. Do you read?"

Scotty's voice, filled with elation and shock, came over the device. "Cap'n!! Thank God we found ye! Are ye all right?"

"We're fine, Mr. Scott. Six to beam up, fast."

"Aye, sir. Scott out."

Christine stood in numbed silence. After three months, they were returning home. And then what? What would happen with her and Spock? She turned to look at him. He looked like his former cool self. She felt a surge of despair. She didn't know if she could handle this…

And then he looked at her... and smiled the tiniest bit of a smile.

* * *

"I thought I told you to get the hell out of here."

Christine looked up guiltily to see McCoy hovering over her. "I just wanted to…"

"I don't care! You need a rest! Now, shoo! Doctor's orders."

"Yes, sir!" Christine gave a mock salute and left the lab.

Since their return from Renata a few hours before, McCoy had given everyone a checkup and then ordered them to take 2 days off of duty. Kirk had protested it mightily, as had Spock. But the doctor wouldn't hear of it. They were now on their way to Starbase 14 for repairs and updates. They had been lucky that the Enterprise had experienced "engine problems" that kept them in the vicinity of Renata for three months. Otherwise they might have been stranded there. Although Scotty had hated to lie to Starfleet, he would have hated losing all of them even worse. Well, everything had turned out okay, all things considered.

Maybe. She had not spoken to Spock since beaming up. She still felt his mind with hers; only a physical contact meld could dissolve their link. She was waiting for a sign from him.

She didn't have to wait long -- she found him standing outside her door when she arrived at her cabin, arms folded across his chest in his characteristic pose. Wordlessly she opened her door and they stepped inside. "How did you know I'd be coming here?" she asked.

"Dr. McCoy informed me of your whereabouts." He looked around her cabin for a moment; it was the first time he had been inside it. His eyes took in the bookshelves, muted surrealist paintings, and the violin case before turning back to her. "We need to discuss some things, Christine."


He sat down at her desk, looking thoughtful. "Technically, our bonding constitutes a marriage, by Vulcan law."

"But there were extenuating circumstances--" she began, only to have him stop her.

"You are correct. Therefore, I believe that as soon as events permit, we must go to Vulcan and undertake the formal ceremony to complete it."


He looked at her in surprise. "Surely you want a ceremony? We can also have one on Earth, if you wish, though in all honesty I would prefer to keep it simple if we do so. I have contacted T'Pau, and she is willing to bond us formally." His gaze became concerned. "Have I made an erroneous assumption? Do you no longer wish to be bonded with me?"

"Of course I do, Spock! But…" Was there any way to explain to him how she felt? "How can you still want me... after what we've been through?"

He stood up, pulling her close to him, looking at her intently. "After all we have been through... how can YOU think I would want anyone else?" He brushed her cheek with his thumb. "I will never know another woman as I have known you, nor do I wish to. The circumstances are now irrelevant. Our bond still remains, as do our ... feelings. I have no desire to lose it."

Christine was at a loss for words. "I didn't look at it that way," she said at length. "I only thought…"

"That I would discard all we have been to each other? Do you not know me better than this?"

"I do, Spock, I just ... wasn't thinking logically, I guess," she said with a smile.

"Indeed. A trait I will have to get used to, I suppose. Perhaps my father can offer assistance on dealing with an illogical human female."

"And perhaps your mother can give me some help on dealing with a logical Vulcan male," she retorted, grinning.

He raised one eyebrow. "Perhaps. I notice that you have retained your sarcasm."

"As have you. More things to get used to, I imagine."

"Many things, I predict." She moved against him, running her fingers through his hair. He felt a spark of desire from her touch. "However, there are certain things that I... am looking forward to getting used to." He stroked her back, watching her sigh in response.

"Me, too. Maybe we should start now? No time like the present, remember?" Her hands moved lower, rubbing his chest with her fingertips.

He gave her his faint half-smile. "I am pleased to see that you are being logical, after all."

"Oh, yes. Come here and let me show you just how 'logical' I can be." She locked the door and slowly pulled him towards the bed.

"That--" he said as he rested his body on hers. "--will prove very interesting."