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The Prize

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Title: The Prize Author: Ray Newton Series: TOS Original Date: 1981 Rating: NC-17 Codes: K/S; A/U; slavery; bdsm Part: 0/ ; historical background Summary: On a Vulcan where Surak's Reforms never happened, the warrior Spock acquires a Human slave.

 

- - - - part 1 The Prize by Ray Newton

- - - - "Will you compete for the human, Spock?"

The young Vulcan warrior acknowledged his friend's arrival and resumed his interested scrutiny of the slave chained in front of the Warleader's tent. Humans were rare on Vulcan--something in the planet's atmosphere, or perhaps the harsh rays of its sun, affected them so that they sickened and died. Spock had heard it said that of each hand-picked cargo only some 40% survived to reach the slave market. Females, he remembered, were rarest of all, being even more susceptible than the males though as a child he recalled a Human female in his mother's service. The males did become available on rare occasions, commanding high prices, and to own one was something of a triumph.

 

For days the camp had been alive with the rumor that Selon, leader of the warrior band, intended to produce one of these exotics to be competed for by the trainee warriors under his command; for once rumor had proved true--that very morning the slave had been set on view so that the warriors might see the prize for which they competed.

 

Spock had never seen anything to equal the strange beauty of the slave he studied now. The Human was male, of course, even if one had been available, no female would have been allowed in the camp or considered appropriate for a warrior, and young, although it was difficult to judge age in aliens. Its hair and eyes were the warm color of the golden wine of the Langoc valley, its skin the exact shade of honey-sweetened cream. The most unusual features were its small, shell-shaped ears and the delicate, crescent-curved eyebrows.

"Compete? I think not," Spock answered his friend at last.

 

"Why not? You must know that you'd win--and to gain such a prize . . ."

 

"Satak, we have discussed this before." The two young men moved aside, slightly apart from the group of warriors who surrounded the slave. "You know that it is my hope one day to be the chosen of another equal to myself--to be S'Kanderai. I have no desire for a lesser relationship."

"Yet you've used slaves before."

"In my time of need, yes," Spock conceded. "To save my life I have taken the body of a slave, as I would eat to avoid starvation. But to have a bed slave permanently in my tent, one who cannot refuse my commands, who submits out of fear--where is the honor or pleasure in that?"

"True, though I would not have thought it so," Satak admitted. "Yet I have found much pleasure in a compliant slave."

"It is a purely personal attitude," said Spock, resuming his study of the Human. The youth was indeed beautiful. He stood erect, his head high; the strange eyes were wary, but held no trace of fear as he surveyed his captors defiantly. He was like some spirited animal, Spock thought, a half-wild hunting cat not yet subdued to the will of a master. It would be interesting to tame him . . . Then with a mental shake he set the thought aside. No slave, however beautiful, could be the companion, the equal, the lover he dreamed of. No, he would wait.

Spock was just about to suggest leaving when one of the other novices moved closer to the slave, reaching out a hand to ruffle the light hair.

"Like silk," he called to his companions, and continued his exploration over the smooth face, down the column of the neck. The Human endured the examination in silence, but when the Vulcan reached under his tunic he reacted violently, twisting in his bonds and snarling defiance in his own barbaric language.

"Not such a prize after all," Spock said with a nod as they turned away. "The creature is unpredictable, savage, obviously untrained. His new master will have much to teach him."

"Don't you know?" Satak looked at Spock in surprise. "When I was last home my father was discussing the purchase of work slaves with one of the traders. Nareth told us that the Humans are not told what their service will be. They are given only basic training as a body servant--the rest is kept from them deliberately."

"I do not understand."

"Nareth said that on their world males rarely mate--it is considered shameful. So great is their revulsion that when they finally understand, their struggles excite their masters."

"I do not approve," said Spock sternly. "They should at least be warned what to expect, and given time to become accustomed to the thought."

"I agree with you, though many of our people would not. However, it is no concern of ours, since you do not desire to compete. The slave will probably fall to Savak. I do not like him, but there is no denying that after you he is the best warrior in the group."

"Then for the slave's sake it is to be hoped that he learns quickly. I do not think Savak has over-much patience."

 

The following day Spock joined the others to watch the contest for the Human slave. Satak had declared his intention of competing, but did not seem too disappointed when he was eliminated in the third round.

"It was worth a try," he explained as he joined his friend, and the two stood together to watch the remainder of the contest.

As they had expected, Savak was declared the winner, and Spock watched with impersonal curiosity as the golden- haired youth was led forward and pushed to his knees before his new master. The creature was certainly beautiful, but he was undisciplined, untrained, and--the Vulcan suspected--as savage as a wild sehlat. Spock knew a moment's uncharacteristic pity for the proud spirit that would quickly be crushed, then he shrugged, wondering at himself. Of what importance was the fate of one slave? For himself, he was content to know that he would have defeated Savak had he chosen to compete.

It was, Spock considered, something of a relief that the ownership of the disturbingly attractive slave had been settled; now, perhaps, the unsuccessful contenders would return their attention to the rigorous training that still lay ahead of them. His motives, he acknowledged, were purely selfish, for this graduation was important to him--the reputation he earned now would go a long way toward fulfilling his life's dream.

S'Kandarai! The goal of every warrior, achieved only by the most worthy: to be chosen as life-mate by one of his equals, matched mentally and physically with a completeness possible in no other relationship, a companion to love and to honor, to share his life and death. But first he must prove his own worth. Already spoken of as the finest warrior of his generation, he was encouraged by the Warleader's promise of an invitation to join his own band of followers if, or rather when, he was granted initiation.

It seemed, though, that he was not to be allowed to forget the Human so easily. Savak's absence for the next two nights from the communal tent where the warriors ate together was noted and commented on, and the man certainly seemed very pleased with himself when he reported for duty, but he kept the slave confined within his tent. Even Satak joined in the speculation, but Spock held himself aloof. Slave the Human might be, but he had not chosen his state, and to Spock it seemed unbecoming that the warriors should gloat over his misfortune.

On the third day the entire camp was assembled to witness the punishment of a recaptured slave. It was known that escaped slaves of all races formed together into marauding bands, hiding out in the mountains and avenging their captivity by savage attacks on any Vulcan who came within their reach. They were dangerous, bloodthirsty killers who could never again be trusted, and if such a feral slave was retaken, he was always killed, both as a punishment, and as a warning to any of his fellows who might contemplate escape.

Spock watched impassively as the blue-skinned alien screamed vainly for a death that would not come for many hours. Had it been his decision, he would have killed the man quickly, for he did not believe that this example would truly deter any slave who wanted freedom badly enough, but it was the law, and he had sworn to uphold the teachings of his mentors.

Looking around, he saw that the camp slaves were huddled together close to the site of the execution. In the front rank he noticed the Human, who was staring directly at the suffering slave. Something about his unfocused eyes and white face convinced the Vulcan that he was not really aware of what was happening.

It seemed that another thought so, too, for the elderly slave who acted as overseer reached out and flicked the Human with his lash, breaking his trance-like state. The Human stared for a few seconds in utter horror, then turned aside and vomited helplessly. The overseer shook him roughly then turned him back, holding him so he was forced to watch.

When at last the punishment was over, the bleeding, scarcely alive body was left hanging in its bonds. It would remain there until the skeleton fell to pieces, a warning and a reminder to any who passed that way. With relief, Spock turned his back on the macabre spectacle and returned to his tent.

It was sheer coincidence that only the next day Spock again encountered the Human. He had just returned from weapons practice, and feeling thirsty, he paused by the camp well to drink. Several slaves were drawing water, and he approached the nearest, aware of an unexpected pleasure when he saw it was the Human.

"Give me water," he commanded.

The slave obeyed, kneeling with his eyes respectfully lowered as he handed the cup. Spock drank frankly enjoying the sheer beauty of the youth at his feet, wondering if the fair hair was indeed as soft as it looked. Perhaps unnecessarily, he passed the cup back for a refill. Just as the slave offered the brimming cup a second time a warrior brushed heedlessly against him. The Human lost his balance and spilled water over Spock's sandals.

"Careless one!" The overseer hurries up. "You will be beaten for this--report yourself to your master."

"Wait," Spock could not have said why he intervened--the youth must learn to accommodate to his masters, even when they were at fault, "there is no harm done. No doubt he will be more careful in the future."

"You are generous, my lord." The overseer bowed. "Thank the warrior, Human, you are fortunate to be spared."

"Thank you, my lord." The voice shook and the soft- spoken words were scarcely audible.

Spock looked down curiously, wondering why the slave should be so grateful to have avoided what would have been only a mild punishment.

"Do not repeat the fault," he said firmly before turning away. Within moments he had forgotten the incident.

 

"Spock, will you join me?" Selon greeted his prot é the next day. "I grow stale in camp and feel the need for a few days hunting. Will you join me?"

"Gladly." The younger warrior flushed with pleasure at this sign of his leader's approval--and at the chance to learn further from this renowned warrior and hunter. This was how it would be, he thought, when he had earned his own reputation. He would be sought out by men like Selon who would desire him as mate. Who would choose even the most beautiful slave over a full and equal relationship with one of his own kind? It was sheer chance, he told himself firmly, that as he turned in his saddle to wave farewell to Satak, the last thing he saw was the slim figure of the Human emerging from Savak's tent.

When the hunting party returned to camp Spock and Selon each carried a le-matya pelt strapped to his saddle, but the skin Spock displayed to his admiring companions was the rare silver-white much prized by Vulcans.

"It was a fine shot. See, the skin is scarcely damaged. Spock does credit to my training," the leader boasted. "The brute was dead before I even saw it."

"A magnificent trophy indeed." Savak had edged forward through the crowd and was stroking the soft fur. "My father had long coveted such a skin. It would be a fine gift for him. Will you wager for it, Spock?"

There was a subtle challenge in his voice and Spock's eyes narrowed. If he refused the wager, Savak would undoubtedly claim that he feared to test his skill.

"Under what conditions, Savak?"

"The archery trial tomorrow."

So. Savak had chosen well. With the bow, both were evenly matched. For a moment Spock hesitated, then nodded.

"As you wish. What will you stake against the pelt?"

"My Human slave."

The value of the stakes was judged equal and the wager recorded. Spock joined Satak, who smiled briefly.

"It seems you will have the slave after all, Spock."

"Perhaps not, Savak is my equal at archery. I could not refuse the wager, but it would be a pity to lose the pelt. My own father would have liked the fur. Now I must lose it or gain a slave I do not want."

"You could always sell him," Satak said, "unless you change your mind--or I will relieve you of the burden of choice, and the fair beauty, too."

"First I have to win." And he intended to. Only Satak knew that it was because he wished to keep the pelt, rather than acquire the slave.

 

It was as the young warrior had predicted--a close match. Spock and Savak scored equally well at the stationary target, and all depended on the final round. Two swift, delicate kwiat were released at the same moment, and, as the horned creatures fled for safety, dodging and weaving erratically, each man picked his moment to shoot. Both animals fell to the first arrow, and only after consideration by the Warleader and his captains was Spock's judged the cleaner kill.

"You shot well," Savak admitted, his anger only thinly veiled. "I would have liked the skin and I will miss the slave. You will find he has . . . interesting . . . qualities. He will be delivered to your tent this evening."

Spock was half tempted to tell Savak to keep the slave, but there was no pleasing the man. A poor loser might take generosity for arrogance. He had won fairly. It would be less trouble to take the prize.

Turning to Satak, he said, "I think I will swim now, will you join me?"

 

Spock lingered for some time by the pool, and when he returned at last to his tent, it was almost time for the evening meal. He intended to change, and join his friends at the communal table, but as the tent flap fell behind him, he saw that a low table had been set for a meal, and a rich savory smell came from the small stove.

Startled, he glanced at the youth kneeling by the table, noting the bowl of water scented with herbs that stood ready for his refreshment, and the light robe that lay on the bed.

The slave rose and carried the bowl forward as Spock sat down, and without being told, he unlaced and removed the Vulcan's sandals, washing and drying his master's feet. He held the robe while Spock stripped off his tunic, and assisted him into the garment. Then as Spock reclined at the table he served the meal, all in complete silence.

He shows proper respect, Spock thought approvingly. He remembered the struggling barbarian of a few days ago. Savak had trained him well.

Idly he asked, "What is your name, slave?"

Head respectfully lowered, the youth answered promptly, "Lord Savak did not choose to give me one, master. It is a my lord wishes."

"I meant your own name-- the one you had before you were captured."

"Kirk, my lord, James Kirk."

"Exotic. I like it. That is what you will be called." He felt a curious wish to see the alien's eyes. "Look at me."

The youth obeyed, and Spock studied him with interest. Yes, the wine-gold eyes were as beautiful as ever, but they seemed curiously blank, providing, now, no clue to the Human's thoughts.

I hope Savak hasn't broken his spirit completely, Spock thought. It might be interesting to know what that golden gaze hid. "How did you know what to do? I gave no instructions, but the meal is prepared to my taste."

"During the voyage to Vulcan I was given some training in the duties of a personal servant, my lord. I wasn't sure what you would want, so I asked one of the general slaves who had attended you, and followed his advice."

Intelligent and conscientious, most slaves would have lounged around waiting for orders. He saw that the youth had also occupied himself by tidying the tent. With proper training he might be valuable indeed.

"You have done well." Spock rose and indicated the remaining food. "You may now eat. When you have finished, I will retire."

While preparing his weapons for the morning Spock covertly watched the youth at his meal. He seemed hungry, but ate neatly, using only his fingers, as slaves were taught. When he had finished he rinsed his hands in the bowl and came to assist his master to undress.

"The bath is through there," Spock indicated the rear of the tent. With no further instruction the Human bathed him deftly and wrapped him in a towel. Better and better.

"When you have cleared away the meal, you may bathe."

Lying propped up on the cushions of the bed, he watched as the slave moved quietly about the tent. Occasionally there seemed to be a slight awkwardness to his movements, but that might have been mere shyness at being observed. His presence was pleasing rather than otherwise, he was far less intrusive than any other slave who had attended Spock.

Unbidden, curiosity stirred and Spock remembered the tales he had heard of these Humans, of their sensuality and responsiveness. It was impossible to arouse a Vulcan unless he consented, but Humans, he had heard, could be stimulated into sexual heat however unwilling they might be . . . and the youth was beautiful in his alien fashion.

"Bring me some wine," Spock directed as Kirk emerged from the bath. He took the silently offered goblet and sipped absently, gazing the bowed, golden head. Curiosity fought with resolution and won. He did not wish for a permanent bed partner, but it would be interesting to test the truth of those old tales for himself. Making up his mind he set the cup aside and turned back the bed covers.

"Undress and come here."

The Human raised his head and the strange eyes were bright with fear; he stood, and his hand trembled as he unfastened the coarse tunic that was his only garment. He allowed it to fall and stood naked in the lamplight.

"By all the gods!" Spock swung himself up to sit on the bed, staring in horror and disbelief. From shoulder to knee the Human's pale skin was bruised and scratched; long weals furrowed his belly; the marks of teeth showed distinctly around his nipples.

"Turn round." More marks, the prints of a lash, some still bleeding, patterned the Human's back. His blood was red and had not shown on the dark tunic. His buttocks carried the imprint of cruelly-gripping hands, even to the crescent-shaped indentation of finger nails. Fresh, bright blood smeared his thighs.

Spock reached out. Involuntarily the slave shrank back, then checked and submitted to being touched. Spock lifted his hand and turned it, exposing rope burns on the delicate wrists.

"Who did this to you?"

"It was--Lord Savak, my lord. I tried to stop--the bleeding--"

"This must be tended!" Suddenly realizing that the youth scarcely had the strength to stand, Spock rose and steadied him. Again the slave flinched. "I am not going to punish you. Lie down." Impatiently Spock lifted and placed him on the bed. Then pulling on a robe he went to the doorway of the tent, called the sentry on duty and ordered him to fetch the healer.

The Human had understood that order. As Spock looked down at him he closed his eyes and slow tears ran silently down his cheeks. It was the first time Spock had seen a man weep and he had no way of knowing that it was the unexpected kindness that broke the Human's control. He knew, of course, that Humans had no more control over pain than they did over their sexual drives, but Kirk must have been in pain all along, yet he had shown no sign of it until now. It was very puzzling. The slave was a valuable possession, why had he been so abused? His claim that Savak was responsible Spock discarded as ignorance or deceit. No warrior would do such a thing.

The arrival of the healer interrupted his train of thought, and he retired to the far side of the tent while the man examined the slave.

At last the healer completed his work and approached. "I have given him a sleeping draught. The injuries are severe--these Humans are delicate and they cannot be treated roughly--but he will recover in time. To be blunt, if you use him sexually, you will lose him."

"What happened to him?"

"Isn't that obvious?" The healer snorted indignantly, taking advantage of his calling. "He's been violated, carelessly and brutally over a long period of time--most recently within the last few hours. There was internal bleeding. Unless you wish to kill him, leave him alone while he heals."

"I will," Spock promised. "What should be done for him?"

"For tonight, just let him sleep. I will return in the morning. That's the slave you won from Savak, isn't it?"

"Yes."

"Then he's in better hands, now. You know Savak's reputation."

Spock was not sure his own knowledge that Savak was a braggart and a bully was what the healer referred to, but he made no reply. One did not discuss a warrior's faults with his inferiors. When the healer had gone he stood looking down at the sleeping Human for a moment, then he shrugged, threw a cloak over the slender form, dimmed the lamps and retired to bed.

 

The following morning Kirk started abruptly awake struggling in panic at the touch of hands on his thighs.

"Be still, slave! Would you undo my work?" The voice was unfamiliar, but there was no threat in it, and he lay back, puzzled by the sudden relief from pain that had grown to be a constant of his existence. The hands touching him were gentle, and he recognized the yellow robe of a healer, so he let himself relax as his injuries were smeared with salve, then re-bandaged. He had a new master, now, and--Spock?--must have ordered that he be cared for; he felt grateful for a moment, then realized that he had been damaged too badly to be of use. The Vulcan was only ensuring that his valuable slave was made fit for further service.

"Let him rest, today," the healer was saying. "Tomorrow he can resume light duties, but I advise you not to take him to bed until the torn muscles have had a chance to heal."

"As you advise," came the remembered deep voice.

For a time there was silence, then he heard movement in the tent and opened his eyes reluctantly wondering what was going to happen now. One of the general slaves, the man who had told him how to serve Spock's food, now brought a tray to the table beside the couch. Spock moved into view and indicated the tray.

"The healer says you must eat. You are also permitted wine. You have lost much blood."

Kirk ate obediently, aware that his master was watching him critically; when he had finished the slave was called back to remove the tray, and Spock seated himself at the foot of the couch.

"Tell me how you came by your injuries," he commanded, and Kirk felt the shamed blood rise in his face.

"I was told . . . that I was a slave, that I must obey," he began hesitantly. "I was going to try. I knew there was no escape, and one of the slavers said that sometimes, on Vulcan, a slave who had proved his worth was allowed to--to hold a certain measure of responsibility. In my own world I served in the Security forces. I thought--in a world of warriors--perhaps I could . . . "

"Go on," Spock prompted as the slave's voice faded.

"What they didn't tell me was that I'd be sold as--as-- Sex between men is wrong, shameful! When Lord Savak told me what he expected, I refused. He-- he . . . "

"Slave, do you understand what you are saying?" Spock's tone was stern. "You claim that a Vulcan--a warrior of Vulcan--is responsible for your condition? I think it much more likely that your fellow slaves have abused you."

"No! It was Savak! He and his *friends.*"

Rising, Spock paced the tent, frowning in indecision. He was still convinced that the Human was lying, but it would be as well to demonstrate to the youth that deceit was useless with Vulcans. However he had come by his injuries, the memory was obviously painful and humiliating, but that could be no excuse. A demonstration of power now would not only give him the truth about Kirk's condition, but preclude any repetition in the future. His decision made, Spock returned to the couch and sat down, taking the Human's face between his hands.

"James, I will see your mind. The truth of the assault you suffered. You will hide nothing. You will be unable to lie."

"I'm not lying, please--" Kirk shrank back, coloring fiercely. Spock, believing the Human's reluctance to be an acknowledgement that he had lied, became even more determined. Holding the struggling body easily in one arm, he touched his fingers to Kirk's sweating face and probed the terrified mind for the memory he sought. Kirk fought like a cornered le-matya, but he was no match for the Vulcan physically, and although his mind was surprisingly strong, he had not the least idea how to resist. Spock reached deep into the exposed mind, commanding 'Think of the attack, remember in detail, remember how it was.' In response the Human's mind shuddered but obeyed; the layers of self-protection parted, and the scene began to unreel for the watching Vulcan.

 

Hands still tied in front of him, he stood inside a tent richly furnished with wild animal skins and strange, barbaric weapons. The Vulcan, Savak, he had been told was now his owner, lounged on a pillow-strewn bed, looking him up and down. The Vulcan's robe was open, exposing his long heavy penis. It was greenish and two ridges, not one, set off the head. Devil ears, devil eyes, and a devil's sex, too, thought Kirk. Savak fondled it as he explained to Kirk the true nature of the service expected from him, obviously enjoying the slave's horror and revulsion.

He could not . . . just the thought of it made him sick. He bit his lip and managed to shake his head.

"You may not refuse me . . . slave." He saw how the word rankled. The green penis was erect now between the stroking fingers. Savak smiled unpleasantly. "Come here."

"No . . . I won't . . . I can't . . ." Kirk paused, pulled himself together. "Set me some other duty, and I'll do it . . . but this . . . it's wrong."

"On your world, perhaps," Savak shrugged. "Here your body is the only thing of value you have."

Moving with a speed Kirk did not expect, Savak rose from the bed and caught Kirk in his arms. First Kirk tensed, then he tried to pull away.

"Fight me if you will," Savak mocked. "You will submit in the end--you will have no choice."

The Vulcan bent to kiss him and Kirk brought his knee up, aiming for the soft scrotum. Not in position, the blow was quickly deflected from its target. Savak slapped him, knocking him across the tent, then came after him again.

Kirk's resistance was fierce, desperate, and futile from the beginning. He fought long enough to exhaust himself, long enough to infuriate Savak, and long enough to know it was hopeless. With his hands tied, he had only his feet and arms as weapons. His strength was not recovered from the long space journey, his body not accustomed to the Vulcan heat and gravity. He was a trained fighter, but so was Savak, and the Vulcan was stronger. His bones felt like iron even to Kirk's kicks. Useless as it was, he fought on. His pride and fear would not let him quit.

Finally, panting, sweat dripping in his eyes, he stumbled. Savak caught him, crushing him to his chest, squeezing the breath from his body. Hard fingers twined in his hair and jerked his head back sharply, so that he gasped at the sudden pain. Savak bent to take his open mouth in a bruising kiss, the hot tongue thrusting deep, suffocating him. Kirk struggled, desperate for air, the tent spinning in dizzy circles as he began to black out.

Suddenly released, he was thrown across the bed. Savak crouched over him, ripping the tunic from his body, the coarse fabric leaving stinging cloth burns on his skin. Kirk struggled to get his balance on the bed, but Savak lifted his hips, wrenched his legs apart and thrust into him. Kirk screamed, trying to free himself. Snarling, Savak shoved his face deep into the pillows, holding Kirk as he rammed into him again and again. Then the hot spurt of semen shot into him as the Vulcan gave a triumphant cry and stiffened in climax. Savak withdrew, letting Kirk drop onto the bed. Instinctively he curled in on himself, trying to muffle his choked sobs. He lay like that for a time, listening to the sounds of Savak washing, to a muffled conversation with a general slave.

Still holding Kirk's mind, Spock withdrew to the edge of the Human's consciousness. He was disturbed by Savak's cruelty. The slave had indeed been inexperienced and there were ways to make the first time easier. To cause pain would only reinforce his fear and reluctance. He had always felt even a slave should be given some consideration. Still, the Human had resisted and he must be taught obedience. If Savak had been . . . overenthusiastic . . . who could blame him, with such a beauty. Spock considered withdrawing from the Human's mind--such prying was distasteful to him. The mating attempt had been unnecessarily forceful, but Savak had been within his rights as master. Then Kirk's memory darkened, terror welling up, and Spock lingered to see what would happen next.

Kirk felt Savak's hand on his shoulder. He was turned over to face the cold eyes and a thin, sharp knife at his throat.

"You are good sport, Human, fierce as a le-matya cub. I could enjoy such a match again." As Savak spoke he slowly began to run the knife down Kirk's chest and belly, dipping the point into flesh along the way, leaving a red trail of narrow cuts. "But now I have invited some company, and it would be most impolite for you to struggle. If you do . . . " here he dug the point into Kirk's groin, " . . . I will cut the fight out of you. A pretty castrate will serve my pleasure as well as a virile youth. Do you understand me?"

"Yes," Kirk whispered.

Savak rose from the bed and crossed the tent. Opening the flap he gestured a welcome to the group of warriors who entered. "Come in. You are in good time. I have broken him--now he is ready for us."

Kirk rose to his knees on the bed, watching as they cleared a low, round table and dragged it to the center of the tent, set lamps around it to illuminate the surface--trying not to believe what was all too apparent. Savak came and lifted him to his feet. He swayed as he stood, legs weak and trembling. Savak tugged the last scraps of the tunic from his body and pushed him over to the table forcing him to kneel in front of it.

"Look around you," Savak commanded, and Kirk obeyed, staring in horrified fascination as each of the Vulcans in turn stripped off his robe. "You were reluctant to serve one master--now you will service my friends. Selka, you drew first lot I think. I will hold him for you."

The strange warrior took his position behind Kirk, as Savak came forward and grasped his arms. Selka reached out and grasped Kirk's buttocks, squeezing his cheeks. One hand released him, straying inward along the crease, then two fingers were suddenly thrust into him, so Kirk gasped with pain, cursing himself as he did so.

"By the gods, he's tight, Savak."

"Tight, but there's room enough," Savak answered, and his friend laughed. The fingers teased deep into him, and the warrior leaned over his back, breath hot in his ear, licking at his neck and ear. His free hand reached under Kirk's belly and grasped his penis, tugging and stroking until the insistent stimulation excited his response. Miserable and furious, he tried to twist away as he felt his flesh harden in the Vulcan's hand. Selka laughed and whispered something he was glad he could not quite hear.

Then, swiftly, Selka parted his buttocks and thrust into the tender, bruised channel. Kirk cried out, his spine arching against the penetration, but Selka's hands on his hips and Savak's on his shoulders held him down.

"Yes . . . " Selka hissed, "you will scream, golden one, but it will be a sweeter scream than that."

Selka called for oil, and some strange scented stuff was poured into his hand. As he began to thrust, panting, into the cool flesh, he reached under Kirk again, his slippery hand working Kirk's penis fiercely. Kirk stopped struggling because his own movement was arousing him further, but there was no way to avoid the persistent stimulation. He focused all his will on not coming, not letting them degrade him with his own submission, but his body betrayed his mind, his hips jerked, began to thrust back against the hated flesh inside him. He screamed out in anger and wretched pleasure as the long denied orgasm exploded, the Vulcan's screams echoing his own. Selka released him and he collapsed across the table, sick with pain and self loathing.

"Look!" Selka held up his hand, displaying the glittering fluid that moistened it. "The slave has achieved climax!"

"A most advantageous peculiarity of the species," Savak said. "If the correct stimulus is applied, they must respond."

"Truly? I did not know this." Another of the Vulcans edged forward, his hand on his penis, stroking it to erection. "I must test this for myself. Turn him over. I want to watch his face as I take him."

Revolted, Spock withdrew his awareness. The Human had not lied after all. Yet it still seemed incredible that any warrior could have acted so. In a small act of mercy, he veiled the events in the slave's mind, dulling the harsh immediacy of the memories.

"That was the first day?" he asked, holding the slave in a light trance.

"Yes."

"And you had never been with a man before?"

"Never."

"You will describe how you were treated thereafter."

"They came . . . again and again. Savak would permit them to . . . to use me as they desired. It excited him to watch." Kirk spoke with a faint hesitation, but in a dreamy monotone, as though the words he spoke had nothing to do with his own experience.

"Continue, James."

"Savak boasted that he'd break me to his will. He said he'd tame me, make me crawl to him, begging for it . . ." The strange eyes flashed defiance for a moment. "But I never did. I couldn't escape them, but they had to enforce my submission. Then, yesterday, Savak told me I was to be the stake in a wager. I'd prayed you'd win me."

"Why?" Spock was curious. "You know nothing of me."

"I knew that you understood justice, even for a slave. You wouldn't let them beat me that day I spilled the water. And besides . . ." Kirk shrugged and continued with a certain naive honesty, "I reasoned that I couldn't be any worse off than I was. If you were like Savak I had nothing to lose. And perhaps . . . perhaps you wouldn't be so . . . so demanding."

"How do you account for the severity of your present injuries? The healer informs me that you almost died."

"That happened after Savak lost the wager. He was very angry. He . . . he called his friends, and they . . . they . . . I knew I was badly hurt, but I couldn't stop the bleeding. I didn't know if I was permitted to ask for help. When they'd . . . finished with me, Savak had me brought here . . . He said he'd win me back . . . that you . . . you wouldn't keep me long."

"Enough." Even through the control Kirk's voice was increasingly unsteady. Spock gathered himself and spoke coolly. To show too much compassion for the slave would be a weakness on his part, one which James would no doubt try to take advantage of later. Still--the Human had spirit worth preserving. "I will speak plainly with you, James Kirk. You will remain in my tent as my slave and body servant, and I demand instant and total obedience from you. You will familiarize yourself with your duties, and if, after you have learned them, you fail to please me, you will be whipped. I will not take you to bed, not out of any consideration for your customs, which are irrelevant here, but because I do not wish a bed slave. However, as you are considered valuable and desirable, it will be safer for you, and less awkward for me, if my companions assume that I use you in the customary fashion. If they thought I did not, they would approach you. You will therefore dress and behave as is expected of a pleasure slave; you will not speak of what passes between us in this tent and you will inform me at once if any sexual approach is made to you. Do you understand?"

"Yes, my lord."

"Then sleep now. Tomorrow you begin your duties."

 

The next few days passed quickly. Grateful to be free from pain and fear, Kirk quelled his anger as well as he could and set himself to learning his new master's preferences. Spock was patient with him while he learned, and his duties were not in fact difficult. He learned to care for Spock's clothes and weapons, to keep the tent in order, and to prepare and serve food to his master's liking. He attended Spock in the bath, helped him to dress, and was careful to obey his every command promptly.

Spock kept his word, and no sexual advances where made to him. In the beginning Kirk was nervous and suspicious, especially on the first night after the healer had declared him fully fit. He saw Spock settled into bed and was turning to seek his couch, when his master said quietly, "You will sleep here."

Looking round he saw that Spock had turned back the bedcover, and his eyes widened with fear.

Spock frowned impatiently. "Get in. A pleasure slave shares his master's bed and now that you are recovered, it would be thought strange if the work slaves saw that you do not sleep with me."

His heart pounding, Kirk slipped beneath the covers and lay tensely, waiting for the caresses he was sure would soon begin. To his relief and astonishment, Spock turned onto his side and in a few minutes was asleep. Gradually the Human relaxed as he realized that Spock did not intend to claim him and thereafter he took his place in his master's bed without fear.

He was well fed, for whereas Savak had made him eat with the general slaves, Spock insisted that he share his meals. His bloodstained tunic disappeared, to be replaced by garments of fine silk, which, while more revealing than he would have liked, were certainly more comfortable than the coarse tunic Savak had given him.

He even had some free time, for Spock commanded the services of a general slave to do the heavy work such as the carrying of water, a task Savak had insisted he perform. Indeed, as time passed, Kirk realized that Spock was taking special pains to ensure that he had no reason to leave the tent alone--his only exercise was the occasional walk with his master. Slowly it dawned on him that Vulcan was treating him like some exotic, valuable pet, establishing in the minds of his companions that his slave was jealously guarded, and not to be tampered with. His conviction was confirmed by the occasional envious remarks of his fellow slaves. Since they all depended on the whims of the warriors for their very lives, no slave despised another for making the best of his lot, indeed, those like Kirk who were petted and indulged, were envied by their fellows who had not the same protection.

Fear touched Kirk again the night Satak dined in his master's tent, and he wondered if he would be ordered to amuse the guest, but though the Vulcan studied him with frank admiration and made several comments that brought the color to his cheeks, he made no attempt to touch him, and Kirk was required only to serve the food and wine.

It seemed that even Satak was to be deceived as to Spock's relationship with Kirk, for when the two Vulcans settled down to conversation, Kirk was gestured to sit at Spock's feet. His master's hand played idly with his hair and gently caressed his face, but when Satak left, Spock immediately resumed his slightly distant manner. Kirk resigned himself to the fact that escape was, for the present, impossible. Convinced now that Spock had no physical interest in him, he determined to serve the Vulcan to the best of his ability. He would not risk being sold again.

One evening Spock was invited with his fellow trainees to dine in Selon's tent. Though he had been carefully instructed in how to behave, Kirk was nervous--this was his first appearance in public since he had become Spock's property, and he knew that the warriors were curious about him. He kept his eyes lowered as he followed Spock into the large tent and took his place at the foot of his master's couch. Food was brought and placed on a small table in front of him so that he could serve Spock without leaving his side.

Many of the warriors were similarly attended, he saw when he plucked up enough courage to look around; but some were alone, served by general slaves. He stiffened in fear as he caught sight of Savak among this group.

"Do not fear," Spock told him quietly. "You belong to me now."

When the food had been cleared away the entertainment began, a display by a group of accomplished dancers. In accordance with the rule of the camp all were male, but the dance was sensual and explicit. As the dancing grew wilder, more abandoned, Spock drew Kirk down to lie beside him, loosening his tunic as he did so. The Vulcan's own robe fell open, but even as Kirk flinched nervously his master leaned down to whisper reassuringly in his ear. To an observer it must have seemed that they were fondling each other intimately, but only they knew that Spock's hand moved under Kirk's tunic without touching his skin.

"Well, Spock, what do you think of my little pet?"

At the sound of the hated voice Kirk started convulsively and looked up; Savak, flushed with wine, was standing beside Spock's couch.

"Your pet?" A slanting eyebrow rose. "I was under the impression that he was mine."

"But surely you will give me a chance to win him back?"

"No," Spock replied absently, taking Kirk's hand and examining it closely.

"You would refuse a challenge?" Savak's voice rang clearly and Kirk paled. The Vulcan was trying to provoke Spock into another contest, and this time his master might lose.

"What is going on here?" Sensing the dispute the other warriors had gathered round, and Savak answered the Warleader.

"Selon, Spock refuses a challenge."

"For what reason?" The leader glanced enquiringly at Spock. "I know that you are no coward."

"I am not, but I do not choose to wager for the stakes he will set."

"It must be something of value if you will not risk losing it."

"Savak would wager for the Human. I do not choose that he should again possess the slave."

"Why not?"

"Leader, I won the slave in fair trial. He was delivered to me in such a condition that I could not make use of him. Your own healer will testify to his injuries. A beautiful and valuable slave was wantonly abused to such an extent that he could have been rendered useless for life."

"It was my right," Savak blustered. The leader gestured him to silence.

"I do not dispute that, but have you learned nothing here? A warrior is expected to make the best use of his resources. As no intelligent man runs a fine hunting cat to exhaustion, so is it shameful to damage a valuable slave. Is the youth defiant?"

"No, Leader. He is obedient and willing," Spock replied before Savak could speak.

"Then you have foolishly misused a valuable possession, the prize I myself chose. Spock has acted responsibly. I forbid you to wager for the slave. It is settled."

"If you would care to name other stakes, Savak?" Spock asked coolly. Savak turned away without the civility of a reply. Shortly afterward Spock took his leave of the leader and beckoned Kirk to follow him back to their tent.

 

Later that night Kirk was engaged in one of his regular duties, combing Spock's flowing hair. There was something curiously pleasant about the feel of the black silk gliding through his fingers, and he knew that Spock liked the attention.

"My lord," the Human began hesitantly, "I . . . must thank you."

"No need," Spock replied casually. "I would not see any dependent fall into the hands of such a one as I now know Savak to be. You are a beautiful and valuable creature, and it would be wasteful to allow you to be damaged."

"Yes, lord." Kirk felt annoyed and somehow disappointed at this reminder that the Vulcan considered him only as an attractive, exotic pet with only sufficient intelligence to make himself useful. He was grateful that Spock did not want to sleep with him, of course, but still . . . With a faint sigh he put down the comb and stood back.

"I will retire now." Spock rose and stretched. "You may bathe, if you wish."

"Thank you, lord." Kirk retired to the screened-off section of the tent where the bath was kept; one of the general slaves emptied it during the night, but Spock permitted him to use the water when he had finished with it--another sign of favor his fellow slaves envied. They had to make do with the icy waters of the lake near the camping ground.

As he lay idly enjoying the warm, herb-scented water, Kirk felt himself becoming sexually aroused and slid his hand down over his belly to grasp his penis.

Since leaving Savak he had had no sexual outlet. Even if he had had a mind to seek a lover among the other slaves, he knew it was forbidden. A pleasure slave's body belonged only to his master, whether he made use of it or not, and for a slave to seek his own pleasure merited severe punishment. Realistically Kirk knew it would have been unfair, and impossible, to take advantage of Spock's word and then seek another. Nor did any of the general slaves attract him. Yet his only release had been in masturbation, and he sometimes longed to feel a warm, responsive body pressed to his.

Gloomily, he acknowledged that as long as he remained the property of a warrior, he would never have the opportunity to have a woman; he did not fully understand why, but he knew the warriors avoided the company of females. His thoughts turned again to the stories about escaped slaves. *They* had a degree of freedom, though their lives were filled with hideous danger. He would never forget the screams of the tortured slave. And escape from the camp was all but impossible. The hunting cats could track him easily. But one day, one day his chance might come. If he could reach the mountains, contact one of the nomadic bands--perhaps there were females among the escaped slaves, and if not, at least the choice would be his . . . someone to love, to return his love . . .

He allowed his mind to drift as he milked himself slowly, and only when he felt the slickness of his semen in his hand did he realize his fantasy had taken an most unexpected turn . . .

The sweetly writhing female form he had imagined taking under the star filled sky had been transformed into Spock's hot, hard body straining beneath his--a Spock somehow not his master, but a rebel companion. An impossible thought, and dangerous; he pushed it from his mind.

At least he could still feel desire, he thought as he climbed from the bath and reached for the towel. Under the perfume of herbs the scent of the Vulcan's body still lingered on the damp cloth. Perhaps he should be grateful he still had that. But it was not gratitude he felt as he lay sleepless at Spock's side through the long night.

 

Shortly after the incident with Savak, Spock found himself forced to re-evaluate his estimation of his slave's intelligence. Vulcans were fond of a very complex board game known as Warlord, in which the opponents strove to win men to their war bands, then fought mock battles in which skill, courage and daring defeated the rival. He and Satak passed many evenings in consideration of their moves, and at those times Spock liked to have Kirk curl up at his feet. It was curiously pleasant to reach down and stroke the soft hair, as he might have petted a favorite hunting cat.

What Kirk thought about as he sat there the Vulcan did not consider, supposing vaguely that the Human dreamed of his past life, until one afternoon when he returned from weapons practice to find his slave kneeling beside the table, studying the board with rapt attention.

Kirk's face was intent. He had not seen his master come in, and Spock halted, wondering with mild amusement what he was doing. To his surprise Kirk reached out, moved one of the pieces, then sat back on his heels smiling in satisfaction.

Intrigued, Spock moved closer. It had been his move, and Satak had left him with a fiendishly difficult situation. Kirk had made exactly the right move, one that at the same time removed the threat and carried the attack to his opponent.

"How did you do that?"

At the sound of his master's voice Kirk flushed crimson, then turned pale and lowered his head. "Forgive me, my lord. I meant no harm. I would have replaced the piece . . . "

"I am not angry," Spock assured him. "Just tell me how you knew what to do."

"The game is similar to one I played at home. I was considered quite good," Kirk said shyly. "Some of the moves are different, the winning of extra men, for example, but I watched you and Lord Satak play. When I saw the problem I was interested and wondered if I could solve it."

"And you did, with a move worthy of a master. Astonishing!"

Kirk looked up, his eyes bright with resentment. "Only because you think of me as a clever pet, a semi- intelligent barbarian!" he said bitterly. "I'm not. I'm . . . " He broke off appalled, realizing that his words and tone could be considered insolent.

"Go on," Spock said quietly. "I give you permission to speak. What are you, James Kirk?"

"I'm a man," Kirk said more calmly. "Oh, I don't have Vulcan strength and stamina. It seems I'm considered . . . desirable by Vulcan males . . . but I *am* a man." He indicated the tent. "Compared to Savak you've been kind to me, treated me well--but because I'm looked on as some sort of delicate, exotic fancy, you've kept me imprisoned in this tent. I want--I *need*--the open air sometimes, the freedom to run--to exercise my body and my mind. I need companionship, someone to talk to who'll listen to me, who'll take me seriously. I used to talk to my dog the way you talk to me."

"I had not thought--" With an abrupt gesture Spock cleared the game board and reset the pieces. "Come show me what you can do."

Lacking a Vulcan's knowledge of warrior ranks, Kirk was a little confused as to the powers of the various game characters, which gave Spock a considerable advantage. That could be easily remedied, though, and the Vulcan conceded that with practice his slave would prove a formidable opponent.

They talked late that night, and Spock found that Kirk had a keen, incisive mind that matched his own. He was as intelligent as he was beautiful, not merely the expensive toy he had seemed. Spock retired for the night feeling rather shaken by his discovery, and as the Human joined him in bed, he studied his body carefully for the first time since he had acknowledged his beauty before Selon's tent. Kirk had put on a little weight due to his enforced idleness, but his flesh was firm and well- muscled.

Reaching a decision, Spock sat up. "James, we must talk further. There are some things you should know about my world." Kirk sat up, hugging his knees, listening intently as the Vulcan spoke.

There were, Spock told him, many inhabited worlds, but only one race possessed the ability to travel among them. Traders by nature, the Orion's chose to use their powers for profit rather than military conquest, which did not interest them. Instead they took from each world its most useful resource, giving in exchange whatever commodity its inhabitants found of greatest value--in the case of Vulcan, slaves. From the far-off world of Andor came the blue-skinned people who were greatly prized as scribes and confidential stewards. The Shahasi were sought after as artists, musicians and craftsmen, for the warlike Vulcans had a great appreciation of beauty. The unprepossessing but powerful Tellarites were purchased for heavy manual labor, and the small, coppery vulcanoid Pavan became general work slaves. The most attractive of these often shared their masters' beds, but the most prized of all were the Humans. The carefully chosen Human males were more attractive to the Vulcans than the Pavan, and were more responsive than the Shahasi. Because of their rarity they were too highly valued to be exposed to any risk, and so it was the custom to cherish and protect them. It had become accepted that they were delicate, which had made Savak's behavior so unusual. Spock had shared the common belief and only Kirk's spirited outburst led him to question it now.

"What did you do before you were enslaved, James? I know little about you as yet."

"I was a pilot. My people had begun to take their first steps toward space flight, but there was a war--we called it the Eugenics war--brought about by the attempt of certain scientists to breed a super-race. They failed, but the conflict was long and bloody. There was much destruction and much knowledge lost. We rebuilt our world, retraced the steps of the early pioneers. I was a pilot in the new space program. I'd made several moon landings and was in line for the Martian expedition. It had all been done before, of course, but we had to learn all over again."

"I cannot offer you something similar," Spock said thoughtfully. "We know of space flight, of course, but we have never desired it."

"What I don't understand is--" Kirk hesitated, then continued as Spock looked at him expectantly. "Why don't the Orions enslave Vulcans? Compared to their weapons, yours are primitive. You'd have no defense."

Spock laughed. "Vulcans do not make good slaves," he said, "and the Orions are too good as traders to waste time on an unprofitable venture. We are their best market for more docile slaves, and we give them what they want willingly."

"What do they want?"

"Warriors. When the Orions discover a profitable planet, their policy is to conquer it, absorb it into their Empire, but to interfere as little as possible with its internal politics. The one thing they do control strictly is weaponry. All forms of weapons more advanced than variations on the spear, the sword, and the bow, are forbidden. The prohibition serves a double purpose. The conquered cannot rebel against their masters, and the wholesale destructive warfare which might interfere with profits is impossible. Why Earth is treated differently I do not know. It may be that the Orions consider that your planet has more to offer than merely slaves, but if you are rebuilding your world, you may not have yet reached the level they wish. When you do, your world will become another subject planet of the Empire."

"Or we might defeat them," Kirk said challengingly.

"Possible, but unlikely. The Orions have much experience. However, because they do not interfere in the politics of their subjects, wars between competing power groups are common. As shrewd traders the Orions profit by supplying mercenaries to both sides. Vulcans, being the finest warriors in the galaxy, are in great demand. We fight for the glory and so need not be compelled. They know this."

"You mean you fight on other worlds?"

"I personally have not, but then I am not yet an initiate warrior. Selon has fought three campaigns with his war party. It is my hope to be accepted into his band. All my life I have watched the stars and wondered about the worlds that circle them. I have listened to the tales of the warriors and I long to see the mystery and the wonder for myself, to explore and to learn. One day, if I achieve--" He broke off, unwilling to speak of his dream to a slave, however unusual. "There is great competition to be so chosen," he continued, "It is a great honor, and one I intend to achieve."

Kirk looked at the Vulcan for a moment with complete understanding. He too had felt the lure of the stars. It was that call which had guided his choice of career . . . that risk which had resulted in his slavery.

"I'll never understand your people," he sighed at last. "You lay such great stress on honor, and yet you can keep slaves. Don't you ever think it is wrong, to own another intelligent being in the same way that you own your hunting cats?"

"Wrong? How can it be wrong?" Spock looked puzzled. "Things are as they have always been. A warrior is a warrior. A Tellarite is a laborer. Each performs the task for which he is best suited. Would you have me, or Satak, draw water from the river, or have Selon tend the flocks?"

"It doesn't have to be like that," Kirk said earnestly. "Each to his own skill, yes, but giving service freely, in cooperation."

"And who controls when the Pavan decides he wishes to fight as a warrior? No, James, it would not work. The Vulcan is master, so that all is done that must be done. We house, feed and clothe our slaves, educate them, tend them in sickness, and provide for them when they can no longer work. Would you have the infirm, who cannot earn their keep, cast out to starve? It is true that there is occasionally a bad master, such as Savak, but the system has worked for generations, James. It works because it is right."

"By your argument, where do I fit in?" Kirk asked. "Humans are supposed to be pleasure slaves, but you do not treat me as one." Suddenly realizing what he had said, he colored, hoping the Vulcan would not think he meant--. But Spock's mind was on other things.

"The only reason I do not treat you as a pleasure slave is because I do not desire such a companion," he said absently. "If I did, that is what you would be. The sensible thing would be to sell you, or give you to someone who would use you as you are meant to be used-- Satak, for instance--but the service you do give pleases me, and though it is perhaps wasteful, I should like to keep you. The question is: in what capacity?"

Spock was silent for a few minutes, then he seemed to make up his mind, for he spoke again.

"I do have a proposal, one which will give you the mental stimulation and physical exercise you have convinced me you need. If you wish I will have you trained to bear arms so that you may accompany me into battle. Skilled fighting slaves are highly valued in our society, especially among warriors, although they do not usually risk one as beautiful as you. However, you do not share my bed, and you might prefer such a life to acting merely as my body servant."

"Yes!" Kirk's eyes sparkled with excitement. "If it pleases you, lord," he hastily added.

"It does, James." Spock settled back on the pillows. "It is decided then. Tomorrow we will begin."

True to his word, Spock applied for and received formal permission to train Kirk as a fighting slave, and Selon added the approving comment, "As you will discover when you travel alone, Spock, a slave who merely warms your bed can be a liability. If the Human is as intelligent as you think, it would be foolish to waste him. Indeed, I almost wish now that I had kept him myself."

Under Spock's tuition the Human rapidly proved himself proficient with bow, sword and spear. The lirpa, dueling weapon of the warriors he was not permitted to touch. Even the Vulcans respected his skill as he practiced, and Spock's circle of friends began to treat him with a new seriousness, Satak to the point of supervising his training when Spock was absent.

Satak made no secret of the fact that he was attracted to Kirk, and often teased him, but it was done openly and good-naturedly. The Human soon found himself able to laugh and reply with confidence.

He was happy, Kirk realized with a certain degree of surprise as he stood one night combing his master's hair. Spock had taken him hunting several times, and he knew that he had acquitted himself well. In addition Spock was now more relaxed with him, permitting him to express his opinions, and even to disagree with his master in discussion when they were alone. Although in company he still had to act the part of the petted pleasure slave, he knew that he was now considered, by his master and his friends, as more than just an expensive ornament.

"What are you thinking of, Jim?" Lately Spock had taken to using the more personal form of his given name when they were alone.

"I was just--" Kirk hesitated. His pride would not let him admit that he was finding a measure of contentment in his new life. "I was wondering about your hair. On my world, there were warriors who grew their hair, but not as long as this. Surely it's a handicap in battle. It would be so easy for an enemy to catch hold of it."

"You are partly right, James. Have you not noticed that Selon and his captains wear their hair shorter than mine?"

At Kirk's nod he continued. "When a youth is selected for warrior training, he begins to grow his hair. It is not cut again until he is a fully-fledged warrior. During my years as a cadet I must learn all the skills of a fighting man. I must prove that I can obey orders, and give them. I am not permitted to marry, but I must father two children on women selected for me in order to continue my family line. Then, if I am judged worthy, I will be accepted into the ranks of the warriors, and my hair will be cut and dedicated to our ancestors. From that time I must not touch a woman--that is why no females are permitted in camp, so that even in our time of need, we will not desire them."

"Will your training last much longer?" Kirk asked.

"A few months, no more. I have already fathered one child. Soon I will return home and my father will have made the arrangements for the second. Once the child is conceived I will return to the camp for a final testing."

"I see." Kirk finished his task in silence, puzzled by the feeling of instinctive denial that had swept over him when he thought of Spock with a woman. Perhaps he was unconsciously adopting the attitude of the warriors? Sometime soon, when his master was pleased with him, he would ask if arrangements could not be made for him. He did not think he could continue much longer in a celibate state.

Despite the improvement in his conditions, Kirk was still desperately lonely. Spock was often absent for hours at a time, engaged in those aspects of warrior training that were forbidden to a slave.

Nor was he allowed to associate with his fellow slaves, for he was still a pleasure slave, although he was being trained to bear arms, and he was jealously secluded. More, the slaves themselves if they caught him unprotected, might seize the opportunity to sample such a prize. His training might help him defeat one or two, but against a group of determined assailants he would stand no chance. With memories of Savak's friends, and having seen how some of the slaves watched him, Kirk was forced to admit that Spock's restrictions were for his own protection; reluctantly but realistically, he spent most of those hours in the tent.

The closest he came to friendship was with Jorith, the Pavan slave assigned to Spock for general duties. Several years older than Kirk, he too had at one time been a pleasure slave, but with the loss of his youth and freshness had come relegation to the ranks of the common camp drudges. This demotion, however, had also lessened the strictness of his confinement, which now seemed to make possible a long-cherished dream--escape.

Jorith had watched the young Human with a degree of pity; something about the youth made him different from most of the others. Perhaps it was the loneliness that showed in the hazel eyes, or the memory of the nights he himself had spent in the beds of a succession of masters. Whatever the reason the Pavan took the risk of mentioning his plans.

He had been waiting for a suitable opportunity, and one afternoon as he went about his duties in Spock's tent, the flap was drawn aside and the Human stalked in. His expression mingled embarrassment and anger, and the Pavan jumped up, alarmed.

"Jim, what's wrong?"

"Those Vulcans!" Kirk threw down the bow he was carrying and shrugged off the quiver. "I don't know how much more of this I can stand!"

"Did the master hurt you?"

"Not physically," Kirk laughed bitterly. "Sometimes I think I could stand that better. We were at archery practice, Spock and I, when the Warleader came up with two warriors who are visiting the camp. They stood there, the four of them, looking me over like a pedigreed animal . . . discussing my . . . my points! They even asked Spock what I was like in bed. I feel like a whore!"

"To them you are," Jorith said quietly. "You chose to live in slavery. No Vulcan would have done that. And there is no other way you *can* live in slavery. Spock treats you well now. You're a novelty, so he's protective, possessive, but when the novelty wears off, he'll begin to lend you out. And when he's tired of you, he'll sell you without a second thought. I know, Jim, I've been through it."

"I can't live like this!"

"Can't you? Have you really considered the alternative? If you ran, they would hunt you down and you'd die like the Andorian. Or, if you did win free, you might live, for a while, with other escaped slaves. There is no luxury there. Here--I see how you live, dressed in silk, the most envied slave in camp. The master even talks to you as though you were an equal."

"But he never forgets--I never forget--that I'm a slave. But I'm not *free*, Jorith. I would rather be free for a day and dead tomorrow than stay here until I *am* a slave in my soul!"

Kirk's impassioned words hung on the air, and something in the Pavan's face made him pause. He started to speak, then turned away busying himself with his work. Sudden suspicion made the Human lower his voice. There were only two reasons the Pavan could have for listening to this tirade, trying to dissuade him. And Kirk did not think the Pavan was a betrayer.

"You're planning to escape yourself!" His voice was an intense whisper, and he caught the work slave by the shoulder, turning his face to the light. "Jorith, take me with you!"

Slowly the Pavan nodded. "It's possible. I've been listening, for years, to every scrap of information they let drop. The mountains are north of us. I've been trying to map water holes, alternate routes. I always keep provisions hidden outside the camp, but not enough for two. I'd have to steal more food."

"You might get a few hours grace before they missed you," Kirk said. "But the warriors know I'm not allowed out of the tent unless Spock or Satak are with me, and--how could I leave at night, without waking Spock?"

"You'd really risk it?"

"Yes."

"Then don't worry about the master. Just don't make him suspicious by acting differently."

"I'll be careful," Kirk promised.

 

Three days later Jorith managed to snatch a few moments with Kirk. "Tonight," the Pavan said quietly. "Meet me by the well as soon as your master sleeps."

"But--"

"Put this in his wine before he retires." Jorith handed over a small bottle. "He will sleep deeply, and not be aware that you have left his bed. If the gods favor us, he will not awaken until late in the morning, then, of course, they will hunt us."

"It won't hurt him?"

"It's only a sleeping draught. I stole it from the healer. Come as soon as you can. I can't wait too long."

 

That evening Kirk found it difficult to conceal his impatience as he served and cleared away Spock's meal. The now customary discussion of his performance during the day's training had never seemed so long, but at last Spock indicated that he was ready to retire for the night. Kirk attended him in the bath, then as the Vulcan settled into bed, walked over to pour the small cup of wine he customarily drank before he slept.

For a moment Kirk hesitated, holding the tiny phial Jorith had given him. Then, determined that nothing he did would harm the Vulcan who had spared him, he uncorked it and tasted the liquid, relaxing when he recognized the taste of the sleeping draught he had been given. Satisfied, he poured it into the wine, thinking the stronger flavor of the wine would hide it completely. He handed the cup to Spock.

"Thank you, Jim." Spock sipped the wine slowly, showing no sign of suspicion. "And how is your reading progressing?"

"Quite well, I think, though Seren says I'll never lose my accent."

"Bring the book and let me hear you."

Kirk went to the small chest Spock used for his few clothes, and took out a carefully wrapped bundle. Seren, the elderly advisor who was teaching him to read Vulcan, was so pleased with his pupil's progress that he had even agreed to lend him some of his own precious books so that he might continue his studies in his free time. This volume, tales of some of the near legendary warriors of Vulcan's remote past, was Kirk's favorite. He found his place, returned to sit at Spock's bedside, and began to read.

The Vulcan listened attentively, occasionally correcting his pronunciation, but gradually his head drooped, and at last the empty goblet fell from his fingers. Kirk read on, his voice gradually fading, until he was sure that Spock was asleep, then, setting the book aside, he settled his master back against the pillows and drew the cover over him.

Quickly then he changed out of his flimsy silk tunic into the soft leather suit he wore for weapons practice. He had as yet no weapons of his own, and stole one of Spock's for his belt, then picked up the light bow and quiver the Vulcan had given him. He was ready to leave, anxious lest the Pavan panic and leave him behind, yet he found himself pausing beside the bed. He would never see Spock again.

"I wish it could have been different," he whispered. "I'd have liked you for a friend. But that's not allowed, is it?" He hesitated a moment longer, then touched the dark hair gently. Not allowed. He dimmed the light and left.

It was easy enough to evade the guards, who were set more out of custom than necessity. Only a fool would dream of attacking a camp of warriors, and the predators of the region had learned to stay well clear of camp fires. Jorith was waiting in the shadows by the well.

"Where now?"

"This way," the Pavan led him along a gully that ran from the camp into the rocks, "first we must pick up the supplies."

Kirk followed Jorith, his eyes gradually becoming accustomed to the darkness. Although Vulcan had no moon, the brilliant stars lit their path with a frosty glitter that made walking safe.

At last the Pavan halted at a clump of bushes in front of a low cliff. "Through here," he whispered, and Kirk followed him into pitch blackness, stumbling for a few yards until Jorith pulled him to a halt. A spark glowed, caught, and a flaring torch illuminated the narrow tunnel in which they stood.

"The guards," Kirk warned.

"Safe enough. We've come around a bend in the tunnel. Besides, we'll need the light. Come on."

The two continued along the tunnel, which gradually broadened into a high cave. Kirk caught his breath as the torch light reflected off millions of tiny crystals imbedded in the rocky walls.

"Pretty, hun?" Jorith wedged the torch in a crack in the floor. "No time to admire it, though, we've a long way to go before dawn. Here help me move these rocks."

The supplies were well hidden, and Jorith had obviously planned his escape for some time. The cache revealed blankets, water flasks, bundles of dried meat, and the hard biscuits that were the usual journey fare, and even a few basic medical supplies.

"Divide everything into two bundles, and wrap each in a blanket," Jorith directed. "That way, if we are separated, each of us will have a share. In the morning I will draw you a map of--"

"I think not, slave."

The two men whirled at the sound of the familiar voice. Spock, sword in hand, stood just inside the cave.

"I have come to recover my property. And to punish the thief. James, do not be foolish!"

As Kirk instinctively reached for the knife in his belt, Spock reached forward and held his sword at Jorith's throat.

"Throw down your weapons, or I will kill him."

Resigned, Kirk tossed the knife to the ground, let the bow slip from his shoulder. "How did you know?" he asked numbly. "The wine--"

"Was drugged? I know. The draught is tasteless in water, as you had it, but very bitter in wine. I simply poured it away when you fetched the book. I decided to discover what you had planned, but I confess I expected an assignation, not an escape."

"What happens now?" Kirk kept his voice steady with an effort.

"You know the fate of an escaped slave. In your case a lesser punishment will suffice--I am not minded to lose you so soon--but the Pavan has no claim on me. He will face the executioner."

Unable, unwilling to beg on his own behalf, Kirk answered the terror in the Pavan's eyes with what he knew must be a useless effort. "Spare him. You could say nothing. I beg it of you."

"Was he your lover after all?"

"No. But if he hadn't waited for me, he'd be gone. Spare him. Or I'll find a way to destroy my 'beauty' that you prize so much." The depths of weariness, disgust and hatred in that threat made Spock consider. The slave had courage, and he could not be bound or watched every second. The sharp edge of a potsherd, a brand from the fire . . . He had not thought before how transient a thing was beauty.

"Then I will spare him the executioner's death."

Kirk released the breath he was not aware he had been holding, but before he could speak, Spock had drawn back his arm and thrust his sword deep into Jorith's chest. Without a sound the Pavan fell forward. Kirk's knees folded of their own accord, liquid with shock, and he only saved himself from falling on his face by reaching out towards the body. Saved from the executioner. Vulcan mercy. He hardly felt Spock shake him, heard his next orders. Spock was shaking out a blanket, ripping his clothing. None of it seemed quite real.

"James!" Spock slapped him, and the stinging blow brought him back to the now that held Jorith's body, and Jorith's murderer--Jorith's two murderers. "Lie down on the blanket. I have still to save *you* from the executioner. Remain here. Say nothing." He moved into the tunnel, leaving Kirk alone. He didn't know what Spock planned, knew it mattered, mattered desperately, but could not summon the will to run or fight.

The silence was broken by the sound of footsteps returning along the tunnel. The guard commander, an initiate warrior, with the novices who stood watch that week, followed Spock into the cave.

" . . .agree the cave is most unusual." Spock's voice was totally calm. "The Pavan must have been hiding when I arrived with my slave. Doubtless he hoped that we would not remain long. A sound warned me of his presence, and when I investigated, he attacked."

"With the only possible result," the commander grunted. "If the fool had remained silent until you left, he might well have escaped. Proves they aren't smart enough to look out for themselves. Your slave didn't attempt to aid the Pavan?" He sounded suspicious. Kirk had already learned that if there was any trouble, all slaves nearby were assumed to be implicated.

"James was--otherwise engaged," Spock answered smoothly, and the commander laughed.

"You appreciate beauty in all its forms, Spock."

Kirk looked away, only to catch the eye of one of the novice warriors. With a shudder he recognized Selka, Savak's closest companion, and the most inventive of the group that had debauched him. The man grinned insolently, gazing with appreciation at Kirk's bare legs, and at the pale, smooth skin revealed by the ripped tunic. He turned and whispered something to one of his companions, and that Vulcan, too, gave the Human an appraising stare.

Kirk dropped his gaze, angrily aware that the Vulcans assumed that he had been coupling with Spock in the cave. And Selka was undoubtedly telling his companion of Kirk's--responsiveness.

"You men, take the slave to the execution ground," the commander ordered. "Spock there is no need for you to remain."

"Come, James."

In response to Spock's signal, Kirk climbed shakily to his feet and picked up the blankets. He made no protest when the Vulcan slipped an arm about his waist. He wouldn't have admitted it if he had to crawl, but he needed the support. Did Spock recognize shock when he saw it, or would he think Kirk feared the punishment to come so much that his knees shook?

In the safety of the tent Spock ordered the Human to sit on the edge of the bed, and handed him a cup of wine. "Drink."

Kirk obeyed, feeling the warmth begin to creep through his numbed body, freeing him from the icy paralysis that had gripped him since Jorith's death. He was suddenly filled with horror at the murder that had been committed so casually before him, with his own apparent complaisance. He struggled to his feet and threw the wine cup aside.

"You murdered him. You tricked me and murdered him." Kirk's eyes were dark with anguish. Sweat beaded his forehead. "What harm did he ever do to you--rape you, steal your freedom, flog you, sell you on the block--"

"He lured you away."

"I went by my own choice. Are you fool enough to think even a caged bird doesn't want freedom!"

"A caged bird is not capable of choice. It is property. It may however be capable of displeasing its master. If incapable of being trained, it would be disposed of."

"I'm too valuable, too *pretty,* --" The words were slurred with emotion, with the effect of the potent wine.

"You are insolent--and for nearly the last time. I granted your request, did I not?"

"Spare him? You murdered him."

"I spared him hours of agony. He died a cleaner death than many warriors, quickly, with little pain."

"You could have let him go, just let him go."

"No. He had already been missed. They would have captured him within hours. I could not risk it."

"Risk what?" Despite his anger, the wine, Kirk was aware of a certain something in the Vulcan's tone and expression that he could not identify. Risk it being known that he had condoned a runaway?

"You fool, you're drunk! I should have known. Lower your voice! If taken, he would have told them everything. Oh, no one would believe I had helped him, but that *you* would is *very* believable. And I would have watched you on the executioner's field!"

Kirk was drunk, or mad. The tent wouldn't hold still, and Spock sounded--sounded. Dizzily he reached out to steady himself and found himself caught and held tight in a merciless embrace. All the strength went out of him, and he sagged back against the arms that held his weight so effortlessly. Spock's face hovered over his, the lips parted.

"You'd--really--care?" He knew he was confused. All his bones had melted, and his blood was burning through his veins, and Spock's eyes, so close, were soft under a bright film of tears. He struggled to understand, and then nearly lost his balance as Spock released him.

"I do not choose to lose a valuable piece of property against my will. Possessing you--the Warleader's prize-- adds to my stature in the camp. And if I do choose to part with you, you would bring a large price in any market on Vulcan--nor would I shame myself by sending merchandise for sale that was not properly trained in obedience."

Kirk's head was clearing. Foolish to have thought anything was in store but the punishment his act deserved. Enough to get through that with the fortitude his pride demanded.

"Yes, master. May a slave inquire what his punishment is to be?" His voice was not quite as steady as he would have liked, but he forced his shoulders back and his chin up.

Spock looked at him consideringly for a moment. "If I thought it would serve any purpose, you would be whipped. But I know it would not. I derive no pleasure from pointless torture. You were right in one thing, James. If the Pavan had not tried to free you as well as himself, he might have succeeded in his escape. Let that be your punishment. And do not confuse my meaning again. I do not do this to spare you anything, and if you are insolent or disobey me, or if it becomes expedient for any reason at all, even merely to assert my authority over you before my companions, I will flog you publicly and worry about your 'beauty' and value later. They do not matter to me nearly as much as my status among the warriors. Never forget it."

"I won't," Kirk whispered.

"Then we will retire now. It grows late and you have weapons practice in the morning. Your swordmanship requires improvement."

He turned away, and Kirk stared at him, silently absorbing the lesson. Spock might not take delight, as Savak did, in the pain and humiliation of helpless victims, but he could dismiss the death of a slave as lightly as that of a pet bird. And Kirk had been a fool to imagine, even for a moment, there could be anything else between them.

 

It was about two weeks afterwards that Kirk awoke one morning to find that he had slept unusually late. Normally Spock, who had an innate time sense, woke him by rising at dawn, but on this morning the sun was high in the sky. Stretching, he turned over to find that Spock was still beside him in bed, but he seemed to be in the grip of fever. His body trembled, and waves of heat poured from his skin. Alarmed, Kirk slipped out of bed, pulled on a tunic, and called to one of the passing slaves to summon a healer.

When he came, the man made only a cursory examination, then turned to Kirk. "This is your first experience of ponn farr, I take it? He is only in the early stages. I did not expect it for some weeks yet. Bathe him with cool water. He should come out of the fever soon and he will tell you what to do. There is no reason for me to return." The tent flap fell behind him before Kirk could ask what he meant.

The Human lost no time in obeying his instructions. Stripping the covers from Spock's body, he began to bathe him with cool water. Gradually the fever seemed to lessen, and at last Spock opened his eyes.

"Jim?" His voice was unusually hoarse.

"Yes, my lord?"

"Go and find Satak. Ask him to come to me."

Kirk hurried out, but the other Vulcan was nowhere to be found. He searched the camp, until one of the slaves said that he had seen Satak heading for Spock's tent. Relieved, Kirk returned, but as he neared the doorway one of the Pavan slaves ran out. His tunic was torn and blood dripped from his mouth. Kirk looked after him, then paused as he heard voices inside the tent.

" . . . your foolish games, Spock. You want the Human."

"No. I will not mate with a barbarian . . . I cannot . . ." Kirk scarcely recognized his master's voice.

"Spock, your condition clouds your mind. I did not speak of taking a mate! Take the slave to your bed and use him. Gods, you've done it in the past. Will you permit your pride to kill you? You are not unique, my friend. I have, myself, experienced a temporary fixation on one particular slave, but that doesn't mean I intended to mate with one. When the time passes, you will forget him."

"You don't understand. I fear . . ."

"There is no need to fear. The ponn farr strips us of everything, doesn't it? And all of us alike." Satak's voice was gentle. "Let me summon James."

"No."

"Then you will die, Spock." Satak was losing patience.

"Better to lose life than honor."

"What has it to do with honor!"

"I promised I would not force him. He has never been mine. And--I do not break my word--even to a slave. Ahhh!" Spock's voice trailed off in a groan.

"Spock, oh, what's the use. Here, drink this and perhaps you'll wake in a more reasonable frame of mind. Good. Get some sleep if you can."

After a few moments Kirk entered the tent, to see Satak drawing the cover up over Spock. The Vulcan's face was eloquent of concern. Spock was his closest friend. He looked at Kirk without seeing him.

"Lord Satak, what's wrong? The healer said--"

Satak focused on Kirk, frowned, then controlled himself. "Sit down and listen, James. Try to understand. We Vulcans have a periodic sexual cycle, at which time the male is at his most potent, and must mate or die. Usually it is the signal to reproduce, and the male seeks out his wife, but warriors must only mate with a male. They must never learn to associate a woman with their time of need lest it come upon them on campaign where no woman is available. Sometimes it happens that a warrior who has not yet chosen his life mate is drawn to one particular partner, the only one who can satisfy the desire. If that partner is not available, the male dies. When I found Spock in this condition, he refused to let me summon you. He tells me that you have never served him as a pleasure slave."

"He promised me," Kirk said. "He promised I'd never have to--"

"That promise will kill him."

"But he doesn't want me."

"He does. He can lie to you, to me, even to himself, but his body is not deceived. I summoned one of the general slaves who is most skilled--and Spock attacked him. See how quietly he lies since you've come in?"

Kirk shook his head.

"Yes. He would not rest for me. I would serve him if I could, but it is you he desires. And only you can save him. Has he not been a good master to you?" The answer was so obvious Satak didn't wait for it. "Save him."

"I don't . . . I don't know how, even if I were willing. If he woke, wouldn't he just send me away?"

"I've given him a sleeping draught to ease his pain. If you rouse him while he sleeps, he will be unable to control himself. I can't force you to save Spock, James, but give some thought to your own life. What would it be worth to you without his protection?" The Vulcan rose and Kirk stepped back defensively. Satak gave him a meaning glance, and then left the tent.

It was true, of course. Whatever the motivation, and Kirk's mind made no comment, no response to Satak's statements, Spock was likely to be the best--owner--he would ever have. It was only in his own self-interest to ensure that he lived. Satak could threaten, but no one was here, no one but he and Spock. He could not be forced.

Slowly, he approached the bed. Spock still slept, but restlessly. Lightly, Kirk drew the covers back. Spock was naked--no more naked than he had been in his bath-- but now he was aroused, in his sleep, his alien sex swollen to an extent that must be painful. Kirk studied him curiously, trying to gauge from his past experience what would be the quickest way to satisfy him. During his time with Savak, his 'instruction' had all blurred into one long torture that he had closed out of his conscious thinking. He could not do that now. If he was to help Spock, he must be fully aware of what he was doing, and why.

Spock was--big--but not impossibly so. Some of Savak's group had been larger. The delicate, jade-green coloring was always faintly surprising, although he knew well enough that Vulcans were green-blooded. The most striking difference lay in the head with its double ridges. He remembered how they had stirred and moved within his body even when his master was still.

He reached out tentatively, his fingertips barely brushing the velvet-soft head, and even at that light touch the double ridges spread wide, the penis arched as if seeking him with blind instinct. He flinched back, remembering the pain, but the involuntary response was curiously fascinating. As he watched his breath quickened between parted lips. It *was* fascinating, and suddenly he wanted to reach out again, to touch, to stroke, to feel the throbbing in his hand. Savak's mockery sounded again in his mind. But it wasn't the same. He had a right to save his life, didn't he?

He curled his hand around the erect penis. Spock moaned at his touch, and the mingled pain and pleasure in the hoarse voice stirred something long untouched in Kirk. He knew what Savak had liked, knew what he would like himself. He'd survived it before. He drew off his tunic and stretched out at Spock's side, his fingers continuing their stimulation, knew more was required. Without thinking he turned and pressed his lips to the painfully engorged flesh. Steel under the velvet. Not unpleasant. The clean scent of Spock's body, the strange spicy taste compelling. His heart beat a little faster as he parted his lips and drew the velvet head into his mouth.

His tongue licked, coiled around the shaft, exploring. Greatly daring, he began to suck, holding the swollen organ at its root for greater control. Slowly, carefully, he inched his way up the thick shaft until his lips were buried in silky hair and the hard bulk stretched into his throat. Then, impatient again, he began to suck greedily up and down the length, his tongue circling the tip, not pausing when the warning spasm came and Spock's body convulsed in climax. Thick, creamy semen filled his mouth, and he swallowed, fighting for breath, but remained in position until the last of the ejaculation trickled down his throat. With a sigh, he raised his head to study his master's face.

Spock was still either asleep or unconscious, but the fever seemed to have abated slightly; his head moved on the pillow and he whispered something, too quietly for Kirk to hear. He had helped, Kirk realized, but not enough. Already the Vulcan's penis was beginning to engorge with blood.

His touch, growing more confident, brought Spock fully erect and Kirk moved to straddle his master's thighs. With memories of Savak's hard, dry penis thrusting into him, he leaned forward and bathed Spock's in saliva until it glistened wetly. Then he rose in a crouch, reached round to spread his buttocks apart, and guided himself into position so that the throbbing head touched the entrance to his body.

Biting his lip against the pain, Kirk allowed himself to sink down so that the burning length slid slowly into his body. It was not as bad as he remembered, perhaps because he was in control, but when he came to rest the hard bulk filled him, throbbing against protesting nerves.

For a moment he rested, gathering courage, then he tightened his muscles and began to move, gradually quickening the rhythm as he became accustomed to the sensations. His own penis began to stiffen in excitement as the friction increased, but he ignored his reactions, concentrating on producing a response in Spock.

Suddenly the dark eyes opened, blazing with an all- consuming lust he remembered only too well, but as Spock's hips began to thrust demandingly upwards, his fear faded in an intense relief that this would work.

Hot semen spurted inside him, and strong arms gathered him close. "Jim . . ."

"Don't talk now," Kirk whispered, keeping his voice steady with an effort. "Take what you need from me. I give it freely."

"No . . . control . . . You will . . . will be hurt . . ." The Vulcan choked.

"Don't talk."

For a moment the arms tightened, then he was turned onto his belly, strong hands grasped his buttocks, thumbs slid between his cheeks, opening him, and the hard driving thrust rammed once more into his body. The initial discomfort of penetration was masked by surprised pleasure as a hand snaked under his belly to settle at his groin. This time the rhythmic pounding was accompanied by the skilful milking of his own aching penis, and he moaned his pleasure at the touch of the warm hand. Then pride, sanity, his very identity were lost in a scarlet haze of sensual passion as he gave himself entirely to the demanding flesh that impaled him. He surged backwards, forcing the hard penis even deeper, writhing in utter abandon as Spock's semen flooded him once more.

Kirk was completely lost now to everything except his own devouring lust. He wanted more, everything, whatever Spock chose to do to him. He was turned on his back and the Vulcan's weight covered him. His head was imprisoned in strong hands, and a hot wet mouth fastened on his, the tongue insinuating itself between his lips to explore every corner of his mouth with a slow, persistent thoroughness. Expertly he captured the invader and sucked at it, earning a gasp of pleasure from Spock; his hands dug into the smooth back as he trust his hips upward, begging hoarsely to be filled again. Spock caught his buttocks and lifted him, supporting Kirk's legs on his shoulders so that his hand were free to probe the human's body, opening it to his need.

All memory of pain, humiliation and discomfort was left far behind. Kirk moaned, his body arching responsively to Spock's every movement. Every part of him was explored, taken, used to increase their joint pleasure as he gave himself willingly, the mindless instrument of Spock's lust--and his own.

The Vulcan seemed tireless, each orgasm coming with the power of the first. Kirk began to tire at last, his tender flesh protesting at the abuse it had suffered. He made no sound, but could not repress a shudder when Spock moved to spread his legs once more.

The Vulcan paused and blinked down at him, a fleeting concern showing in the blazing eyes, then he seemed to change his mind and leaned up from the Human.

"It's all right," Kirk whispered hoarsely. "I can--"

"There are other ways." Spock rose and pulled Kirk to his feet. "Come."

Stumbling a little from weariness, Kirk allowed Spock to guide him into the screened off portion of the tent. The bath had been emptied and refilled, and although the water was cooler than Spock normally liked it, it was very refreshing to the Human's sweating body as they stepped together into the water.

Sensing that Spock's need was under very tenuous control, Kirk washed them both quickly, but when he left the bath in search of towels, Spock shook his head impatiently.

"No need," he growled, pulling the Human close to his side, but as they moved back towards the bed he paused, looking around the tent. "Ah. Drink this." He lifted the water jug from the table and passed it to the Human who drained it eagerly.

"Thank you."

Spock shook his head and pulled Kirk down onto the bed. He reached for the Human's thighs, then seemed to remember his exhaustion. Instead he twined his long fingers in Kirk's hair and pressed the Human's face into his groin. Strengthened by the brief respite and the longed-for water, Kirk responded eagerly to the urging of the insistent hands. His mouth and fingers worked busily at the Vulcan's penis as he sucked, milking his master to orgasm while warm fingers curled around his own organ, pumping him in frantic excitement.

How long could this continue? Kirk wondered dazedly as he swallowed, raised his head to gasp for breath, then bent once more to his master's service. Spock's hands were on his buttocks burrowing deep inside him, twisting and probing with an exciting pressure. His penis, trapped against Spock's body, throbbed and pounded with its own urgency, and he felt the slickness of his ejaculation between their bodies as Spock's semen filled his mouth.

Utterly exhausted, he slumped helplessly into his master's arms. Spock settled him carefully, lifting the Human's head to his shoulder. Lips brushed his temple, and the last thing he was conscious of before sleep claimed him was the veil of dark hair that fell around his face as his master leaned possessively over him.

 

Kirk woke the following morning to a sense of utter well- being. He was still locked tightly in Spock's arms, and for a moment he colored as he remembered the sensual abandon of the previous night. Then he shook his head, denying the sophistry. He had enjoyed it. He wanted more. The tiny movement woke Spock. The Vulcan leaned up on one elbow and studied him, a slow reminiscent smile curving the fine lips.

"So. You chose to come to my bed."

"Yes, my lord." Kirk felt unexpectedly nervous. Whatever he might admit to himself, he wasn't ready to-- if Spock just wouldn't look at him as if he knew every thought!

"Why?"

Well, there were a lot of reasons, if he could just get possession of himself and remember them. "I--Satak told me you'd die if you didn't mate--that you wouldn't accept anyone else--"

"And, logically, you would not wish to lose a good master?"

"No, of course not, I mean, I--" Damn the Vulcan, slave or not, he wasn't going to deny the most earthshaking experience he had ever had. He had to close his eyes to keep the tears back, and he let himself go limp, relaxing totally into Spock's keeping. "I wanted to. If you did, why didn't you ever ask--?"

"One does not ask a slave. And I had given you my word, which I have never broken. Nor have I ever taken an unwilling bedmate, slave or free. Now that you have come, however, I will keep you."

"Yes, my lord." Kirk felt an unaccustomed thrill at the possessive note in the Vulcan's voice, and he began to tremble when a hand slid between his thighs.

"I wish to see if you have been injured."

Kirk glanced down at himself, flushing deeply as he saw the trails of dried semen that streaked his thighs and belly. Spock probed carefully, his expression one of satisfaction as the Human showed no signs of pain-- indeed, his breathing grew harsher, and a soft moan sounded in his throat as the fingers were withdrawn.

"For the moment the mating urge is burned out in me," said the Vulcan. He continued on a teasing note, "However, I cannot permit such an excellent slave to suffer discomfort."

Unbelievingly, Kirk watched as the sleek head bent to his groin, the hot wet mouth caressed him, the green tongue licked, circled, teased his penis erect. Helplessly he arched upwards and the soft lips parted, drawing him into the heat of Spock's mouth, a slow delicious sucking began, travelling the full length of the shaft, and he entwined his fingers in the dark hair, pressing his master's head closer.

As the Human's hips rose, Spock slid one hand underneath, probing between the quivering buttocks his fingers worked deep inside Kirk, producing an almost unbearable pleasure, while his free hand pulled at each erect nipple in turn. The relentless sucking quickened, and Kirk sobbed as he convulsed in orgasm, his semen spurting down the Vulcan's throat. Then he was held close in Spock's arms, his master's weight bearing him down as an impatient tongue demanded entrance to his mouth. With a sigh of pleasure, the Human abandoned himself to the embrace, gripping Spock tightly as he returned the caress.

The afternoon was well advanced when Kirk and Spock rose at last and went to bathe. They washed each other this time, a slow process, for each was distracted by the proximity of the other and the gliding touch of flesh on moist flesh.

A call from Spock brought one of the general slaves hurrying with food. They ate hungrily, then returned to the bed where they lay quietly together, exploring each other's body with a wondering curiosity, taking the time to be gentle until desire began to burn in them again, driving them to clutch at each other with blind hunger.

There was no trace of apprehension or reluctance in Kirk now. He was as eager as Spock, reveling in the sheer physical enjoyment. The richly sensual caresses and his utter abandon delighted the Vulcan. Spock thought dimly that the tales he had heard of Human responsiveness were less than the truth. The writhing body impaled on his, arching and shivering in response to every movement of his exploring hands, gave him a pleasure he had never before experienced. He teased the Human mercilessly, watching with delight Kirk's helpless trembling. For a moment he wondered what it must be like to endure such sensations, then he pushed the thought aside. He would never know, for a warrior did not submit to a slave. Perhaps even the release he granted Kirk that morning was more than he should have done, but he had been curious to taste the cool Human flesh. At the memory he instinctively sought the pinkish-brown nipples, sucking contently as he listened to Kirk's harsh breathing. Then he turned so that the Human fitted snugly into the curve of his body and his hand was free to manipulate Kirk's penis. With a sudden thrust of his hips he inserted himself into the Human, but save for the movement of his hand he remained absolutely still. Kirk's trembling as he was slowly, deliberately milked provided enough friction to bring him to an exquisite climax, his semen pouring into the cool body as Kirk's ejaculation bathed his hand.

Remaining inserted, Spock settled languidly to sleep. "Indeed, I will keep you," he murmured.

 

Thereafter, Kirk took his place in his master's bed with eager anticipation, knowing that while he would be used to the limits of his endurance, he would not be hurt or humiliated. The Vulcan seemed always to take great care to ensure that his slave, too, was satisfied, and an unadmitted affection grew steadily and slowly between the two.

Kirk was not, however, entirely at peace. He was well treated, even indulged. He had a considerate master, his days were full and busy. His nights were spent in the arms of a lover who caressed and wooed him to pleasure, not at the mercy of a sadist. The common camp drudges envied him, and he knew how fortunate he was--for a slave.

But he was a slave. No privileges could alter that or remove the metal collar locked securely around his throat. However easy his position now, there was no security for him. Spock could tire of him at any moment and sell him. He would be passed from owner to owner, bed to bed, until he was old, too worn out to give pleasure, and then he would be cast aside as a drudge for the younger men who would replace him.

Sometimes he imagined how it might have been if he were free, Spock's chosen, freely-consenting companion. What a challenge it would have been--a new world to explore and enjoy, his lover at his side, a new life to carve from this strange, beautiful and terrible world! But it was an impossible dream, and he set it aside with clear- eyed realism, thinking instead of the choices that actually faced him.

If he remained with Spock, he must accept slavery, put aside forever any hope of freedom. He would have to learn to think, and act, as a slave, submitting his own will and desires to those of his master--or to a succession of masters. It was no use pretending--any romantic notions that Spock might be so in love with him that he would keep the Human as his life companion he dismissed as the wishful thinking it was.

Even in the intimacy of their bed he was still a slave. One night, greatly daring, he had taken advantage of Spock's gentleness to whisper his almost unbearable longing to possess his master. Spock had not been angry, but he had been emphatic--a warrior did not submit to a slave. Spock would willingly use his hands and mouth to give Kirk release, but more than that was unthinkable.

Such a life was natural for Spock, molded as he was by generations of slave owners, but for Kirk it was impossible. However much he longed to remain with Spock, his fierce independence could not long endure subjugation.

He also faced the knowledge that he would never be able to go home. There was no way back. Ever. His only alternative, if he valued his integrity as a man, if his ideals of freedom and choice were to be preserved, lay in escape. And even that held no promise of safety. Assuming he managed to leave the well-guarded camp without detection, there was an enormous expanse of unknown desert to cross to reach what little concealment the mountains offered a fugitive. Alone, he would be vulnerable prey for the savage le-matyas, or the wild sehlats known to roam the rocky heights. Somehow, he must locate one of the bands of escaped slaves and join them . . . join them in a life as dangerous as that of any hunted creature. And if he were recaptured by a Vulcan . . . then he would share the fate of the pitiful wretch he had seen butchered in his early days in the camp. But he would be free . . . and that was the choice a man would make . . . wasn't it?

As he asked himself the question, Kirk knew the answer, but for the moment he took no action. He rationalized that it would be wiser to learn all that Spock was willing to teach him first. The more he knew, the better equipped he would be to survive. It was, Kirk considered, the practical, sensible decision. He would take his opportunity when it came, and until then he would take what bittersweet pleasure he could.

Kirk applied himself to his training with a new enthusiasm, telling himself that now he was not merely pleasing his master, but actively preparing himself for a life of freedom. There were many lessons to be learned, and not only the skills of the warriors, for Spock insisted that he be taught to read and write Vulcan. His easy understanding of the spoken language had at first puzzled him, but Spock explained that the traders, to facilitate understanding between bewildered, confused slaves and their new masters, implanted in each slave a mechanical device that translated the new language, allowing the slave to understand what was said to him. Speech followed more slowly. The written language, though, had to be learned in the normal fashion, and Spock had persuaded one of Selon's advisors to undertake the task of tutor; it was a complex, difficult language, but Kirk's keen mind took to the lessons with enthusiasm, and he made rapid progress. The texts used served him in another way, for as his understanding grew, he also learned more of the history and customs of his new world. Spock, too, was perfectly willing to discuss such matters with him, treating him more and more as a companion as time passed.

There were still reminders of his slavery, some of which Kirk resented bitterly. Except when they were alone Spock required of him the passive obedience expected of any slave, so that he was often compelled to serve Spock at table, kneeling humbly to present the dishes. Though he ate the same food as his master, and it was brought to the tent so that he did not have to line up for the less appetizing food served to the general slaves, his plate was always filled and handed to him, and though he was granted the unusual concession of being allowed wine, it was always sipped from his master's goblet.

In other ways, his life grew easier. His strict confinement to Spock's tent was eased, and he moved about the camp with growing confidence, learning of the life of the warriors. His wardrobe, which until now had consisted only of the revealing silks of a pleasure slave, was at Spock's command enlarged to include more concealing garments of soft leather, and while these were no doubt practical for a fighting slave, Kirk was also very well aware, and was pleased by the knowledge, that his master was jealous of the admiring glances cast at him. Apart from his tutors, and a few of Spock's closest friends, he was almost totally isolated, for he was not permitted to speak to any of the other slaves unless to relay Spock's orders. More, wherever he went, one of Spock's friends always seemed to be within earshot. He resented this bitterly, seeing it as proof that his master did not trust him, but when one day Satak appeared in time to rescue him from an attempted assault by Savak, he understood it was done for his protection, and was grateful--though it was not considered correct to force a slave without his master's consent, in practice the incident was ignored unless the slave was damaged.

 

The days flew past for Kirk, until he was startled by Spock's announcement one evening that they would be leaving the camp the next day. The novice warriors had been ordered to return home to fulfill their obligations to their families, and Spock intended to use the journey as a test of how well Kirk had absorbed his own training. Wiser now in the ways of this world, the Human packed what he considered the necessary supplies for the journey across the wastelands to Spock's home, then curled up with a chart to plan the best route to take.

Having made his decision, he submitted his list of supplies and the outline of his chosen route to Spock and was pleased when Spock commended him.

"I leave the journey in your hands, Jim," Spock said. "I would ask you to remember, though, that you are as yet unaccustomed to traveling in the heat of Vulcan. I suggest that you consider that. It is of no importance if we spend a day to two longer than usual on the journey. I would prefer that than having you overtax your strength too soon."

"I'll remember," Kirk promised, inwardly determined to prove his stamina.

 

They set off at sunrise, to begin the journey before the rising sun burned the early freshness form the air. As the camp vanished behind them, Kirk gave an unconscious sigh of pleasure as he surveyed the landscape ahead. After his long confinement to the immediate area of the camp, the vast open space ahead lured him with the prospect of new adventures. From the map he knew that they were skirting the edge of the Red Desert, so-called from the color of the harsh sand. Ahead of them towered the craggy peaks of a mountain range, but on this trip they would not be required to climb. After four days they would turn from the direct path down through the rich farmlands of the Langoc valley toward the city of ShiKahr and the home of Spock's family.

As he had promised, Spock allowed Kirk to set their pace for the day, noting with approval that the Human called a halt during the heat of the day. Kirk had sensibly taken account of his greater vulnerability to the climate and had not, as the Vulcan had half feared he might, striven to impress by carrying on under difficult conditions. Instead he showed that his survival lessons had been well learned, improvising a shelter by using their desert cloaks to provide some shade from the blazing sun. Only when the heat had abated slightly did he indicate his readiness to move on, following the course he had set that morning.

Despite the heat, Kirk enjoyed the ride. His mount was one of the powerful stallions ridden by the warriors, their equipment carried by the pack beast that would have been his had he still been merely a pleasure slave. On Earth, riding had been one of his favorite occupations, and he had spent many holidays in the saddle, exploring the wild areas of countryside that remained unsettled by man after the ravages of the Eugenics Wars; though this was not his world, and the Vulcan animals differed in some ways from the horses he was used to, he quickly fell into the old rhythm, adjusting quickly to the fact that his mount responded to spoken commands rather than the hand and leg signals he was used to.

They made good time for the remainder of the day, halting for the night at a small oasis which had been marked on Spock's chart. Kirk glanced around appreciatively as he dismounted, finding the cool green of the desert plants a welcome relief after the harsh glare of the red sand.

The first task was to care for their mounts, and with this Spock was prepared to help. A warrior in camp was attended in all things by slaves, but on a journey each understood the importance of caring first for the animals on which their lives could depend.

Kirk led his stallion to the water hole, and stood watching as the beast quenched its thirst. The water looked cool and inviting, and he wondered if he would be allowed to swim.

"You may," Spock answered his unspoken question, seeing the longing in the Human's eyes with understanding. "I know this oasis. The water in the pool is fed and drained by underground streams. Prepare food while I see to the animals, then we will both bathe before we eat."

Kirk obeyed, building a fire as he had been shown, and setting their food to cook. He then smoothed a patch of ground and laid out the bedding they had brought. This consisted of a light, warm sleeping bag large enough for them both. It was, after all, the duty of a slave to warm his master in the cold of the desert night.

By the time they had eaten, and Kirk had cleared the remains of the meal, he was very tired. He sat down on the cover and Spock knelt beside him, touching him lightly. He wondered if the Vulcan would require his services. For a moment the dark eyes surveyed him, then unexpectedly the Vulcan smiled, caught his arm, and pulled him in beside him.

"For tonight, you may sleep," the soft voice murmured. "I think that you are too weary to be responsive, Jim."

"Yes, I am," Kirk admitted, wondering with a shudder what Savak's response would have been to a suggestion that his slave needed rest. "It's only because I'm still a little out of condition," he added hastily.

Spock's only response was a faint smile as he pulled the Human closer, lifting the fair head to his shoulder. Sleepily, Kirk snuggled into the warmth of the body pressed to his, and closed his eyes.

Dawn found them already preparing to move on. Kirk was loading the pack beast while Spock refilled the water bottles from the pool. As Jim bent to lift the last pack into place he winced slightly, then grinned. Spock might have let him sleep last night, but he had certainly made up for lost time this morning. If Humans were valued for their sensuality, he thought, Vulcan could take credit for more than their share of stamina. He wondered what it would take to sate Spock completely and hoped that he would never have to find out.

Settling the pack into place, Kirk turned to saddle his mount, when a cry of warning from Spock brought him around to see the Vulcan surrounded by a band of roughly dressed men. He started forward, cursing the fact that his sword was out of reach, but a hand caught his shoulder, swinging him around.

"Stay, lad. You're free now."

His captor was a Human male in his forties. His dark hair and beard were grizzled, his tanned face deeply seamed, his body lean and tough. A slave collar encircled his neck.

"My name is Foster, all my men are former slaves." He smiled reassuringly. "All of us escaped from our masters, and we have a base in the mountains. Lucky for you we topped here. We've been raiding the villages beyond the desert."

"We've got him, Foster!" one of the men called, and Kirk looked round to see that Spock, overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers, was being expertly bound hand and foot.

"Be right with you, Tyno. Come and have a look at him, lad. He's not so dangerous now."

Kirk followed Foster over to the group, noting that many of the slaves showed signs that the Vulcan had not been easily overcome. Spock looked up at him expressionlessly, green blood running down his face from a cut on his temple.

"What's your name, lad, Kirk? We use surnames here, those of us that have them. Our masters were too free with our own. Care to join us? It's not an easy life, but at least you'll be free."

"I'd hoped for a chance," Kirk said slowly. "But would I be welcome? I was . . . a pleasure slave."

"We know that," Foster answered. "I'm sorry, Kirk, but we saw what that bastard did to you. We couldn't risk springing the trap too early in case there were more like him around. As for what you were--you probably don't know yourself at this point. It won't be held against you. Tyno here was the same and had no more choice than you did."

"Then I'll come." Kirk could scarcely believe his good fortune. Not only had he found the free slaves without even looking for them, but he wouldn't have to undertake the uncertain journey to the mountains alone. It was just a change in plans. Instead of the journey with Spock, it would be a journey to freedom.

"What will you do with him?" he asked, indicating Spock, who looked away in supreme indifference.

Foster looked down at the bound figure. "We'll take him with us," he said, "blind him first, just in case he should get away, but that's not likely. Anyway they've butchered enough of us; it's worth the risk to play turnabout."

"I see." Kirk had to swallow back nausea. He could hate to the death . . . a quick death, such as Spock had given the Pavan, but beyond--blinding, torturing. He felt suddenly cold and weak and Foster caught him as he staggered.

"You sick?"

"I--no--it's just that we traveled all day yesterday, it was so hot, and he wouldn't let me rest . . . " He leaned on Foster, faking more weakness than he felt. Not sure why.

"Never mind. You'll have the day to rest up. There's little chance of being discovered here and we prefer to travel at night ourselves. You'll feel better then."

The slaves made a quick, rough search of their supplies and helped themselves to the dried fruit and trailbread. Kirk supposed it was better than they were used to. They set up a sort of sloppy camp, one or two sheltering together against the heat. Spock lay where he had fallen, and no one made any effort to provide him with shelter or water, even when the noon sun beat down directly. On impulse, to see how far his "freedom" really went, Kirk took a waterskin out to Spock and offered him a drink. The Vulcan turned his head aside.

"Hold his nose and make him drink," some one shouted, "we don't want him to die on us--too soon."

Foster had been watching. He walked over, grabbed Spock's hair and pulled his head back.

"He can drink it or wear it," he said with a gesture.

Kirk let the water splash over the Vulcan's face, washing away the dirt and blood. He had not really expected Spock to drink at his bidding.

The day seemed long to Kirk, but he was in no hurry for the end of it if it meant Spock's mutilation. A clean death, yes, if that was the price of freedom. But torture . . .

Spock also thought the day long. When he could, he watched the group of slaves, their attempts to befriend Kirk, Kirk's uncertain, but increasing response. As treacherous as he is beautiful, he thought. I thought him content, but it was merely a slave's pretense. Can he be blamed for desiring freedom? An interesting question, but not one he should be considering now. A slave was a slave. A hunting cat taken from the wild could be trained, taught--but never returned to it. They lost the will to fend for themselves. He knew the length of lives these slaves could expect--the poverty of it and the fear. He did not want that for Jim. A wise master rewarded obedience and punished defiance until there was no thought. A well trained cat would attack a sehlat to protect its injured master, so should a slave. The interval between command and compliance was the measure of good training--he had neglected much in his indulgence of this slave. And yet bound, under sentence, he still knew that he wanted more from James Kirk than mere obedience. And that was folly, against the creed by which he lived, and it had brought him to his death.

Kirk said he felt well enough to help with the meal the slaves prepared that evening. "I was well trained," he said ruefully. "I served enough spiced wine. For once I'd like to taste it." His suggestion was well received, and he watched the wine take effect, with some satisfaction. Even Spock, with the cold of the night ahead, facing his ordeal, drank without protest. Kirk had no way of knowing, and Spock would not admit, even to himself, that it was not the wine that warmed him, but the touch of one Human hand, the scent of alien flesh . . .

Spock came slowly awake to realize that he was lying comfortably wrapped in the sleeping bag before a blazing fire. His hands were free, and no time at all seemed to have passed, but he knew at once that they were in a different place. The three beasts were tethered nearby, and Kirk, alone, knelt tending the fire. His vision blurred for a moment, and he recognized the symptom as an aftermath of his head wound. The camping place was familiar, too, and it was two days ride from the oasis where the escaped slaves had overpowered him.

The rustle of movement as he tried to sit up brought Kirk instantly to his side.

"Be careful," he said. An arm slid round his shoulders, supporting him. "Can you see better? Do you remember what happened?"

Spock ignored the question. "Bring me water," he commanded. At the tone, some of the vitality in Kirk's face quietly drained away and his shoulders drooped.

"Yes, master," he said. There was something in the tone that didn't belong there, and Spock reached for the memory of some train of thought he had had earlier, after his capture, but it eluded him. The water cleared his head and memory, though, and he remembered nothing that would explain two day's worth of unconsciousness.

"What happened?" he demanded.

"I--I drugged the renegades."

"And me?"

"Yes, my lord."

"Why?"

"Because I couldn't free you. They were my people, and free men. By now, they're far out of reach. Safe . . . in the mountains."

Spock broke the silence with another command. "More water." Wordlessly, Kirk filled the cup and brought it.

"You could have gone with them. You risked death to go free once before, this time there was no risk. Why didn't you go?"

"You were wounded, even if I could have persuaded them to let you go, or tricked them somehow, into thinking you had escaped--you would have been alone and helpless in the desert. You've been feverish--delirious. I was a man before Vulcan made me a slave, Spock. You saved me from torture. Now I have done the same for you!"

"Jim--"

Kirk turned away, hiding tears of weariness, long effort, and hopelessness. "Please, let me alone!"

"But you have been--"

"A loyal, docile, obedient pet!" Kirk swung around. "You talked in your sleep, Spock. About how to train hunting cats and slaves. I gave up my freedom for a discourse on behavior modification. When is a man not a man? When he's a slave. Which I am, by my own choice!"

"If you regret . . . "

"Regret?" Kirk laughed harshly. "Of course I regret! I could be free this minute, and I know you'll never give me another chance after this, and I am a fool--" He swayed as he spoke, and the Vulcan looked up sharply.

"How long have we been traveling?"

"Since we left, all night and through the day. I was afraid they'd come after us."

"You have had too much sun. Jim, come here."

Kirk half fell to his knees beside Spock, dizzy, sick, wanting to go, hating himself for wanting to, unable to stop the tears. "What could I do?" he asked helplessly. "They were going to kill you."

Spock gathered the trembling figure close, cradled the golden head against his shoulder. "I know," he soothed, "I know. It's over, now. Sleep."

The following morning Spock had regained his strength, and it was Kirk who was listless and weak so that Spock considered resting for the day. He decided to press on, however, because they were a mere half-day's ride from his home, and if the Human's condition worsened, he wanted a healer within reach. As a precaution, he took the slave up before him as he rode, concealing him in the folds of his light desert cloak. Kirk slept most of the time, relaxing confidently in the curve of his master's arm, and Spock found himself fighting a curious, possessive tenderness as he gazed down at the quiet face.

He was, quite frankly, puzzled. The Human could have been free, but had chosen to remain in slavery, not because he wished it, or because he had been trained to the point of mindless obedience, but to guard the man who owned him, and whose ownership he resented. Ownership-- not Spock himself. The unguarded responsiveness was real. The resentment was real. If Kirk had been free, what a warrior he would have made. Safely out of Savak's sadistic hands, Kirk had shown a strength of character that any man must respect, and for the first time Spock began to understand how it was possible to become . . . fond of a slave. He looked down at the warm body in his arms. This was no mere bed slave, the responsive body had its own resilience and strength. The wine-gold eyes that could glow so softly with passion could also turn steely with determination, and the warm, seductive mouth harden in resolution.

Almost without realizing it, Spock had forgotten all his plans to take a mate of his own race. Kirk was the one he wanted, and his arms tightened in determination to keep him. Think--he must think, plan, find a way . . . The increased pressure woke Kirk, and his sensitive lips curved in a mocking smile.

"I thought we were sleeping," he said.

"We are almost there. You can see the house now."

Refreshed by his rest, Kirk was sitting up alertly as they rode into the courtyard, but Spock had refused to let him resume his own mount. He remained silent as the household slaves ran out to welcome Spock home, feeling a little overwhelmed by the sheer size of the sprawling edifice before him. He followed closely at his master's heels as Spock hurried inside, to be greeted by a handsome older Vulcan who smiled with pleasure at his arrival.

"You are most welcome, my son." The man gestured at the slave's activity. "As you see, you are a little before the time we expected you."

"I might have been long after it, but for my slave."

Kirk knelt respectfully as the older Vulcan turned toward him. Spock recounted his capture by the renegades, and his father's face darkened.

"I will order a pursuit."

Spock felt the tension in the kneeling figure beside him. "Useless, I fear, Sarek. They will have reached their hidden stronghold by now." Without looking he felt the subtle relaxation.

"A continuing hazard. We will mount a campaign against them one day and end it. But you were fortunate that your slave remained loyal. Human is he not? It is long since one of his race served in this house. He is beautiful . . . in an alien fashion, of course."

"Beautiful, intelligent, and courageous. He is being trained to serve me in battle, and has made excellent progress."

"Curious. I have never heard of a pleasure slave being fit to bear arms. Still, I agree, it would be a pity to waste such spirit. Now, would you care to rest for a time after your journey? I will expect you to attend the family dinner this evening, then T'Pring waits to serve you. I am confident she will give you a healthy child."

"Yes, I would rest, Sarek," Spock said, more concerned for his slave than himself. "Come, James."

Kirk followed as Spock led the way from the entrance hall. Outside an ornate door the Vulcan hesitated, then beckoned Kirk inside.

"The Hall of Ancestors," he said quietly. "Here rest the ashes of my family."

Kirk looked around, finding himself in a long, narrow gallery. It was unfurnished, brightly lit by hanging lamps. Row upon row of small alcoves lined the walls, each containing an ornate box decorated with precious stones. Below each niche was an inscribed tablet, which Kirk found himself able to decipher. They were funerary tablets, describing the lineage and achievements of members of Spock's family. The Vulcan paused before the last alcove, and touched his fingers reverently to the box.

"My mother," he said simply.

Kirk carefully traced the short inscription in memory of the Lady T'Pavra, giving merely her family line, the name of her husband, Sarek, and that of her son.

"She died two years ago," Spock continued. "I am pleased that she lived to hold my son in her arms, and to see the continuation of our family line. It was her great pride that I was accepted for warrior training. I regret that she will not see me initiate."

"I never knew my mother." Kirk reached out impulsively and touched the Vulcan's arm. "At least you did . . . and you loved her."

Spock made no reply, seemingly absorbed in his memories. Kirk studied the nearby tablets, unwilling to interrupt, until one name made him start in surprise. Below T'Pavra's alcove a small tablet of plain stone had been set into the wall. It bore one word, the name "Amanda."

"That's a human name," Kirk murmured.

"Hmm? Oh, that. It is a custom that a slave who serves the family well be remembered here, although their ashes are not preserved."

"Who was she?"

"Amanda was a Human woman, brought to Vulcan. She served my mother for many years. I remember her well. She nursed me when I was a child, and my mother thought of her almost as a friend. When I was eight years old I was bitten by a poisonous lizard. Amanda sucked the poison from the wound, and died when it entered her body. It was my mother's wish that she be remembered here. T'Pavra bore only one child, and had I died my family, one of the oldest on Vulcan, would have died out in the direct line. So we honor her memory."

"She must have loved you very much." Kirk touched the tablet gently, his thoughts lingering on the long-dead Amanda who had given her life for another woman's child.

"Indeed. But come, Jim, there are only memories here."

Touching Kirk's arm, Spock led him from the hall and along the corridor into a separate wing of the house.

"My private apartments," he explained. "My father maintains a large household, but these rooms are exclusively mine. At the moment I possess no slaves save you, so my father will supply attendants to wait upon us."

"It's magnificent," Kirk breathed, glancing around the room in which they stood. Two walls, and the bed, were draped with embroidered hangings, richly barbaric in design. The door through which they had entered formed a part of a painted wall depicting a young warrior hunting. Kirk thought he detected a resemblance to Spock. In the fourth wall a series of arched doors opened onto a terrace and a walled garden beyond, from which he could hear the soft splashing of a fountain.

"Lashmi! Have you come to greet me, old friend?" Spock knelt down beside a large hunting cat, fondling the great head affectionately. The beast purred at his touch. "Come and make friends with her, Jim. She is too old to accompany me now, but her cubs are in training. I will give one to you."

Kirk leaned down to stroke the soft fur. Large green eyes studied him, then a rough tongue washed his face thoroughly. Kirk laughed, and scratched the pricked ears, earning a deep, throaty purr.

"Good. Now she knows you. Old as she is, Lashmi would tear an intruder apart, but she will protect anything of mine."

Rising, Spock lifted a hanging and led Kirk into a well- appointed bathroom. Two slaves came forward to help them undress, and attend them in the bath.

"As my personal slave, you are to be waited on here," Spock explained as they returned to the bedroom. "Unfortunately," he continued ruefully, "I must deny myself the pleasure of your body. Tonight I must fulfill my duty to my family, but I confess I find the thought of you infinitely more appealing."

"More than T'Pring?"

"I have never seen her. My father selected her as the most suitable candidate."

"Candidate?" Kirk was puzzled, aware of how little he knew of Vulcan marriage customs.

"To bear my son. She will be, of course, a member of our family, but from one of the lesser branches. Since she has little to offer as a bride-gift, it has been difficult for her father to arrange a suitable match. But as the mother to the heir to the House, however, she will be well provided for, and an acceptable husband found. Do you understand?"

"Not really," Kirk confessed. "I know the warriors have no use for women, but it seems none of you do. How does T'Pring feel about this? You don't treat your women much better than slaves."

"You wouldn't say that if you knew my Aunt T'Kara," Spock said. "One day I will explain it all to you, but be satisfied that T'Pring is more pleased than I am with the match. Now we should rest."

One of the slaves drew curtains to shade the windows as Spock stretched himself on the bed, resting his head on Kirk's chest. The Human closed his arms around his master and held him while he slept. He did not understand, himself least of all, but this was the only happiness he knew anymore, just holding Spock close. This he would enjoy while he could.

It was late evening when a respectful slave awakened them. Spock issued rapid orders and clothing was brought for both of them, a richly embroidered robe for the Vulcan, and a tunic of thick, heavy silk for his slave.

"You will dress like this in public. Your beauty will be admired, but I do not choose that others should look upon you too freely."

Kirk smiled at the note of jealousy in Spock's voice, then laughed as the hot, caressing hands opened the carefully arranged tunic, stroking his bare skin.

"In my rooms, however," Spock said, laughing in turn, "you will go naked." Before they became too aroused, he closed the tunic and tied the sash firmly. "Come, my father will be waiting."

 

Not only Sarek, but many of Spock's family were waiting in the dining room when Kirk entered shyly at his master's heels. Spock had explained the vast, rambling ancestral home housed many lesser branches of the family. Sarek was head of the clan, with Spock as his direct heir, while Spock's three year old son ensured the continuation of the direct line of descent.

Each of the Vulcans was attended by a slave--Kirk was the only Human--and to his surprise there were a number of Vulcan women present. Spock joined the group at the table, and Kirk took up position beside his chair, kneeling with his head respectfully lowered. He could not resist an occasional glance around him, however, and his attention became fixed on the group of women sitting together.

One of them, young, and extremely beautiful, was addressed by her companions as T'Pring, and it was Kirk's turn to feel an unexpected jealousy. This was the woman who was to share his master's bed. Household slaves served the food, so he had ample opportunity to watch, and Spock, he now saw paid her no attention, though Kirk could not be sure whether this was due to a lack of interest, or merely Vulcan custom.

When the Vulcans had finished eating, their plates were handed to their slaves. Most simply passed over their leavings, but a few, including Spock, called for the serving dishes and made sure their slaves had a good meal.

The group then moved into a large, comfortably furnished hall, where they settled for general conversation. Kirk, copying the other slaves, curled up at his master's feet. He took little interest in the talk that flowed around him, for it seemed to be of family matters. Instead he watched the faces with interest, for these were the first Vulcans he had seen, aside from slavers and warriors and he wanted to understand Vulcans in their normal setting.

One of the house slaves knelt before Spock, respectfully offering a basket of fruit. The Vulcan took two pieces and handed one to Kirk, who found it sweet and delicious.

"You spoil that slave, Spock."

"Perhaps, Stonn, but he repays me . . . in many ways," Spock looked up lazily, acknowledging the arrival of a Vulcan of his own age who took a seat close by. The newcomer was attended by a green-skinned female, who eyed Kirk with disdain.

"I don't know how you can endure a man in your bed," Stonn continued with the air of a man resuming an interrupted argument. "Surely a female . . . "

"Leave your cousin alone, Stonn," one of the elderly Vulcan women interrupted. "You know that Spock is not permitted to touch a woman, apart from siring children."

"Your pardon, Aunt." Stonn rose and bowed. "I meant no offense, Spock."

"None taken."

The woman moved to join them, and Spock rose until she was seated.

"I congratulate you, nephew. You have a beauty there, one of the finest pleasure slaves I've ever seen, and I am considered a good judge. You wouldn't lend him to comfort a poor old woman?"

"I regret, Aunt T'Kara," Spock smiled affectionately. "After a night with you he might be reluctant to return to my bed."

"Ha! Flatterer!" The woman laughed. "If I were twenty years younger, I'd make sure he was. I always had an eye for a pretty pet."

Kirk stared, unable to make sense of the position of women in this society. Spock had spoken of arranged marriages, a bride-gift, a woman selected to bear the child of a man not her husband--and yet T'Kara associated with men on equal terms, and was even deferred to. Nor did her age seem to explain it, for he saw now that Sarek was conducting an animated discussion with a young woman who had been sitting with T'Pring. Not wishing to be caught staring, he returned his attention to Spock.

"He is more than a pet, Aunt." Spock reached down to toy absently with Kirk's hair. "His mind is as fascinating as his body."

"And I was always told that Human males were barbarians! You'd better look to him tonight, Spock, or I might walk in my sleep and find myself in your rooms."

"Lashmi guards what is mine." Spock's tone was light, but his voice held a note of warning, and his fingers tightened possessively in Kirk's hair. "However, you are correct in one thing, I must see him confined for the night."

Back in his rooms Spock looked at Kirk steadily. "I have arranged with my father that only castrates attend you, and Lashmi will stand guard, so you will be safe here until I return. But first," he reached out and unfastened Kirk's tunic and removed it. For a moment he studied the naked body, then he pulled Kirk into a fierce embrace, his hands caressing the smooth buttocks, sliding up his back. Kirk clung to him, offering his mouth to the descending lips that claimed him in a dizzying kiss that left him weak, faint, and trembling. Spock wrenched away with a groan and stepped back.

"Until tomorrow," he whispered, and was gone.

Alone, Kirk prowled the room restlessly. Spock's touch had inflamed him, but there would be no relief that night, and when he lay down at last on the ornate bed, sleep eluded him.

Despite his efforts not to think of it, his mind persisted in straying to Spock, to what his master was doing, and jealousy of T'Pring burned in him. He groaned, feeling the dull ache in his groin as the memory of Spock's hard fingers probing between his cheeks filled his mind with sweet, seductive flames. Slowly his hands slid over his body, trying to recapture the sensation of Spock's touch, until he reached down and curled his fingers around his throbbing penis, pumping himself as he visualized Spock thrusting into him, his body responding with hungry eagerness to the images, aching, frantic for release--and unable to achieve it. He groaned and writhed on the bed until he was exhausted, then staggered into the bathroom to drown his desire in cold water. When he returned to the bed he buried his face in a pillow, locked his hands around an ornately carved post. Gradually he drifted into a restless sleep.

In the morning Kirk awoke to find a warm weight lying next to him on the bed. With a sleepy murmur of contentment, he rolled over and pressed close. Soft fur, not the smooth skin he expected brushed his cheek. He opened his eyes, only to find Lashmi's inquisitive face peering down at him. Feeling slightly foolish, he caressed the silky ears, and a rough wet tongue bathed his face in approval as the great cat set up a purr.

Movement in the room caught his attention and he looked up to see a slave setting out a tray. The man wore the green tunic that indicated a castrate, a slave who had been neutered to serve the women and pleasure slaves of the household.

Kirk was about to get up when the itchy heat between his legs warned him that he was still sexually aroused. Embarrassed, he looked for his clothes, but they were missing.

"Would you please bring me my robe," he asked shyly.

The slave shook his head. "The master forbade it, sir," he said respectfully.

Kirk remembered that he had, and then shrugged. Everyone in the house must know by now what he was to Spock. With an indifference he was far from feeling, he got out of bed and went over to the table.

After he had eaten the slave relayed more instructions. He was to be assisted in the bath. Under the expressionless gaze of the slave, not even cold water would subdue his erection, and when the slave left a second attempt at masturbation also proved futile.

Frantic, Kirk paced the room, longing for Spock as the hours crawled past, his mind a seething haze of jealousy and lust as he pictured his lover lingering with the woman T'Pring, giving her the caresses he longed for.

To pass the time he explored the walled garden, finding a pool where he could swim. He lay in the sun for a short time to dry off, but his master valued the unusual whiteness of his body, and he dared not risk becoming tanned. Soon he was forced to retire indoors. Lashmi was his only companion, and he talked aloud to the intelligent animal, pouring into her patient ears all his love and longing for Spock.

As his desire grew wilder, Kirk found himself drawn to the wall painting, to the image of the youth who had reminded him of Spock. At one point, in desperation, he raised himself on tiptoe and kissed the painted image, pressing his swollen genitals to the cool wall. Then, ashamed he wandered into the garden again.

It was later afternoon before anyone disturbed him. Then two of the castrates entered and set up a small table for a meal. Kirk watched them, miserably conscious of the erect organ between his legs but neither of them changed expression by a fraction. They must be used to pleasure slaves, but he wasn't used to being one! As they left, Spock finally entered, stripping off his robe as he came toward the human. At the sight of that powerful, naked body, Kirk's penis throbbed.

"You seem in some discomfort, Jim." There was laughter in Spock's voice. "Come and embrace me." His hands closed on Kirk's arms, pulling him close. Kirk struggled violently, and in sheer surprise the Vulcan let him go. "Jim? What's wrong?"

"Wrong?" Kirk turned his head away to hide the pain in his eyes. "I thought you cared for me. I couldn't sleep last night, wanting you, jealous of T'Pring. I waited all day, hour after hour, and you didn't come." His voice deepened. "You've got me where you want me, haven't you? I could have gone with Foster . . . taken you within sight of safety. It wasn't because you were hurt, or to pay a debt. I don't have that much pride! I don't have any! I couldn't bear not to see you again because I love you." The fire went out of him and he slumped onto the edge of the bed. "But of course I'm only a slave, so it doesn't matter. You just take what you want and give nothing. I thought I couldn't bear loneliness--but I can't bear this . . . " The tears that roughened his voice threatened to spill, and he dropped his head to hide them.

"Jim." Spock's hands were gentle on his shoulders. "Jim, you are wrong. I also love you."

Unable to believe what he heard, Kirk made no resistance as the strong hands lifted his head so that his eyes met Spock's.

"I love you," the Vulcan repeated. "Later we will talk, for there is much, much you must learn, my barbarian, but for now, you must believe me. I cannot bear your grief."

For the first time Kirk heard uncertainty in the usually confident voice, read an almost wistful appeal in the dark eyes. 'I cannot bear your grief,' that from Spock who would have died without appeal.

Slowly Kirk nodded. "I believe you. At least, I believe that you believe it. I'll believe anything you want, if you just love me."

The Vulcan hesitated, troubled by Kirk's helpless resignation. There was so much he wanted to say, to make the Human understand, but Kirk's overwhelming need now was for physical proof of his love, and he could not resist the trembling body pressed to his.

Kirk sighed as Spock's arms went around him and a hot, wet tongue urgently probed his lips, he opened his mouth, welcoming the invader, while his hand reached between their tight-pressed bodies to fondle the Vulcan's semi- erect organ. Spock groaned at this touch, and began to push him down toward the couch, spreading his legs wide so that he could kneel between them, his hands exploring the receptive body.

The small, tender nipples tempted Spock irresistibly, and his mouth fastened on each in turn, feeling it come erect under his tongue. Kirk arched upwards, pressing closer, his half-closed eyes fixed on the impassioned face that lay on his chest.

Suddenly, over Spock's shoulder, he saw the door open and the two household slaves enter the room bearing trays of food. Spock must have heard them, he thought wildly, but the Vulcan made no attempt to release him, rather, he began to lick slowly, sensuously down the Human's belly, his teeth pressing lightly against the cool flesh.

Kirk colored furiously, and pushed against the broad shoulders. "Spock, please! he whispered, "There's . . . we're not alone."

If Spock heard the muffled whisper, he disregarded it, and Kirk began to struggle in earnest, horribly embarrassed. The two slaves began to lay the meal, but he knew they were watching . . . he could feel their eyes, sense their curiosity. Deprived by their condition of any sexual pleasures, this was their substitute, a salacious interest in the affairs of their masters. Kirk had heard enough slave talk in the camp to know that these two would eagerly relate to their fellows all that they had witnessed and obscenely embellish every intimate detail.

Tears of humiliation stung Kirk's eyes. He had thought he had experienced the depths of shame when Savak's friends had ravaged him, but this . . . ! Until now Spock had been considerate. Though the camp slaves had certainly seen him in his master's bed, the Vulcan had never before used him publicly, always ensuring that Kirk's body was concealed if anyone entered the tent.

"Please!" he sobbed again, pushing uselessly at the rigid arms around him, and this time Spock reacted, glancing round for a moment as he followed the direction of Kirk's eyes, then he looked back at Kirk, incomprehension in his face as he lowered his head to resume his caresses.

He would not be diverted again, Kirk knew, and for a moment anger burned in him, then he realized that strange as it seemed, Spock was reacting as any Vulcan would. In this slave-oriented culture, a free man would totally disregard the presence of a slave, even discussing the most personal of topics with sublime indifference to the fact that he was being overheard. No man curbed his tongue or his actions in the presence of an animal; why should he do so in the presence of a slave.

Kirk ceased struggling--and with that action conceded bitterly that he had accepted his status as pleasure slave; now all he had to do was somehow learn to live with his surrender or to face the implications if he could not. But he would think about that later. His body's needs owned him now, and he could not think beyond the hunger that burned in him.

Dizzy, gasping for breath, he could only lie submissively as Spock knelt between his thighs, took his legs over his shoulders, and cupped his buttocks, lifting him so his body was exposed and vulnerable. Then the Vulcan's penis touched him and he felt the blazing shaft pierce him, slide slowly inside. Reaching between their bodies, Spock grasped Kirk's penis, then leaned forward so that he could reach the Human's nipples; the movement drove his penis even deeper into Kirk, and the Human moaned as the fevered lips, finding their target, pulled and sucked at his nipples.

"More . . . " he gasped, and Spock gave him more, thrusting into him powerfully while his hand began to manipulate the Human with the same urgency.

Kirk cradled the dark head between his hands, reveling in the multiple sensations. He was dimly aware that the two slaves had moved closer, were watching intently, and with a sudden perverse resolution, he decided to give them something to see. He strained upward, impaling himself even further on Spock, and began to thrust in response, matching Spock's rhythm perfectly. The Vulcan ceased all movement and Kirk groaned in disappointment, arching upwards as he squirmed frantically, trying to tempt his master into resuming. The Vulcan took Kirk's penis in both hands and began to milk him, studying the flaring scarlet head, the soft-veined shaft in fascination, observing the growing frenzy of Kirk's thrusts as his body peaked and shuddered in orgasm. He watched as the hard flesh softened in his hand with the release of tension.

Changing his grip, Spock took hold of Kirk's buttocks and drew him closer; Kirk surged under him as the savage thrusts resumed. As avid as Spock now, he tightened his anal muscles around the Vulcan's penis until the throb of ejaculation pounded inside his body and the hot fluid filled him, seeming to burn through the core of his being.

Spock slowly withdrew and lifted the Human's legs from his shoulders. Kirk lay too drained to move, aware that he was totally exposed to the gaze of the slaves, that Spock's semen, thicker than his own, was trickling down his thighs, that his whole body was quivering with satisfied release. But he was beyond shame now.

"Give me wine." One of the slaves hurried to obey Spock's command, and the Vulcan slipped an arm around Kirk's shoulders, easing him into a sitting position as he pressed the goblet to his lips.

"Better?"

Kirk glanced up. "You knew I was . . . was . . . "

"Indeed, I caused it." The dark eyes smiled. "You must believe that it was not purely to torment you, Jim. I had a deeper purpose in mind. When we have eaten, I will explain."

The household slaves properly expressionless now, served the food, though Kirk was somewhat distracted from it. He was pulled down to lie with his head in Spock's lap while the Vulcan fed him, claiming a kiss between each mouthful, and a wandering hand stroked his belly, pulled insistently at his nipples, fondled the soft flesh of his thighs.

When they had finished eating, the slaves set fruit and wine on the table, then withdrew. One of them met Kirk's eyes as he turned to close the door behind him, and the Human was startled to recognize envy in his eyes. Once again he was reminded that many slaves would be jealous of his position and of the indulgence shown him by his master.

As soon as they were alone Spock took hold of the collar around Kirk's throat and pulled the Human to the floor so that he knelt between his master's legs. Taking Kirk's face between his hands, Spock leaned forward and kissed him on the lips with an unfamiliar tenderness, then drew back to study the alien eyes.

"Jim, listen to me, for what I say now concerns your future and mine. My absence today was not caused by T'Pring, but by Selon's unexpected arrival. He leaves soon on an expedition against the northern tribes and wishes me to accompany him as an initiate warrior. My duty to the family is fulfilled--the woman is pregnant-- and I am eager to go. The question is, how will you accompany me?"

"How?" A bitterness he could not totally hide tinged Kirk's voice. "As your slave, of course, haven't I just proved that?"

"Is that how it seemed to you? Jim, I thought it was rather the willing submission of a lover. Never before have I questioned the customs of my world. There have always been masters and slaves. But I question those customs now."

"Slavery, Spock? Or only slavery for me?"

"I do not know." The Vulcan's tone was thoughtful. "It is such a new thought for me to question at all . . . I do know that the knowledge that you are a slave is too painful to bear. And I do know, too, that for you slavery is degrading. Though you love me, you feel shame each time I claim you as a master claims a slave, is it not so?"

"Yes," Kirk whispered. "I can't help it. I want--so much--to be yours by my own choice, and not because you have the right to take me. It tears me apart, Spock. I want to be with you, but I don't know if I can live like this . . . "

"I, too, want more." Spock's voice was suddenly intense. "You are more, much more, than a mere pleasure slave. If it were possible, I would free you and claim you as my legal mate, but that can never be. No slave may be freed on Vulcan, and an uncollared alien becomes the property of whoever cares to claim him. You would be taken from me the first time I let you out of my sight.

"So you must remain my slave, but there are several choices even then. First is that you remain as you are, a piece of valuable property, part of my estate if I am killed, to be inherited by my heirs. As neither my father nor my son have any use for a male pleasure slave, you would undoubtedly be sold for another's bed. Or, I can declare you my favorite. As such you will be slain on my death and burned with me to serve me in the after- life."

"I think," Kirk said quietly, "that you wish to offer me a third choice."

"I do, and it is this. I have, in common with many Vulcans, the ability to touch the mind of another. Today I tried it with you, and succeeded. I forbade you to achieve release and you could not. There is an--oath-- sworn between mated warriors who have this ability to link minds--an oath which binds them so irrevocably that one cannot survive the death of the other. They are as one spirit in two bodies. Jim, though I must treat you still as a slave, I would swear this oath with you. The bond is unbreakable, and exclusive. I will never be able to take another mate, though no one must ever know why."

"Ashamed of me, Spock?" Kirk kept his voice steady with an effort.

"No, Jim! Never that! You must believe me." Spock took Kirk's face between his hands again. "But we must live in this world as it is, not as we wish it to be. If it were possible I would go to my father now, claim you before the altar of my ancestors, and hold you in the face of all Vulcan." The dark eyes grew anguished. "But that can never be. To bond with a slave is unthinkable. If it becomes known, I will be disgraced, you will be taken from me . . . I dare not think what would become of you. Possessiveness, even a degree of affection, is tolerated towards a slave, love is not. The bonding, should you consent to it, must be concealed from all."

"Spock . . . " Kirk reached up to touch the hand that rested on his cheek. "You said that to bond with a slave was unthinkable. You have been used to slaves all you life. Can you change now? Will it be possible for you to think of me, and to treat me, as your equal?"

"Jim, I do not know." The dark eyes met his with open candor. "I know only that I want to try and there is this--as the bonding intensifies, as we grow closer in mind and spirit, it will be impossible for one of us willingly to hurt the other. If I forget, if I cause you shame or sorrow--those feelings will be reflected back to me." The Vulcan hesitated for a moment, then continued. "I must remind you again that since the bonding must be secret, you must in public act the part of the petted, indulged slave and I that of the master. A few liberties may be permitted in the presence of friends, but if either of us forget our roles, the consequences will be disastrous. Before you answer consider well the part you must play."

"You've been honest with me." Kirk lowered his eyes to gain a moment's respite, though he already knew the only answer he could make. When he looked up again the glow in his golden eyes made the Vulcan catch his breath in wonder. "Spock, I love you. And for the rest--I trust your word."

"Then you will bond with me?"

"I will."

Spock's shoulders sagged with relief. "I was not sure-- after your initiation to my world--that you could trust me so far." His voice grew speculative. "And there are other worlds than Vulcan where customs may not be so rigid. Perhaps one day, when I have made my name as a warrior, we may seek a post as mercenaries where we may be together without fear."

"You'd give up your world for me?"

"You have lost yours. It would be one sorrow we could share." Trailing his fingers down Kirk's throat, Spock brushed against the heavy metal collar, and he frowned. "This must go. You must be collared, but it will be in gold, as a sign of my love for you. Jim . . . kiss me?"

It was a request, not an order, and one Kirk was glad to grant. He stood up and rested one knee on the couch, sliding one hand through the waves of Spock's hair to the back of his head. With the other hand he reached for Spock's forearm and drew it around his waist. He leaned down, feeling the Vulcan's erect penis press against his thigh. Spock's hands reached to cup his buttocks, and for a moment he remained still, his lips poised above Spock's partly open mouth. His tongue flicked, tracing the outline of the trembling lips, then he took the lower one between his teeth and nipped it gently.

Spock gasped and pulled away, his eyes puzzled. Kirk laughed, entangled his fingers in the soft hair and drew him back into position.

"Patience!" he whispered softly and bent to claim the eager mouth again. This time he slipped his tongue between Spock's lips, then withdrew it even as the Vulcan sought to capture it with his own. His retreat lured the Vulcan's tongue into Kirk's mouth, to be captured, and expertly sucked while the Human's lips pressed down hard.

Spock moaned, his hand tightening on Kirk's buttocks. Slowly his fingers crept inwards, seeking the tight opening, then probed into the Human's body. Kirk stiffened, and plunged his tongue into Spock's moth. The Vulcan withdrew his hand, grasped Kirk's hips and lifted him, then brought Human down so that he was impaled on the stiffly-erect penis. Kirk gasped into Spock's mouth and began to rotate his hips, each movement increasing the pressure inside him. Spock tore his mouth away and blindly sought Kirk's nipples. The Human's head fell back.

"Please," he whispered, and Spock gave one last convulsive thrust upwards, his semen spurting into Kirk's body as the Human writhed in ecstatic release. Trembling with reaction, they clung together until heartbeats slowed, then Spock turned to hold Kirk in his arms.

"Tomorrow," he whispered. "Tomorrow I will be initiated as a warrior. Only then can we bond, Jim, for Selon is skilled at the mind link. He might detect that you had become part of me."

"I understand, Spock, " came Kirk's drowsy reply as he settled closer. "I can wait--but not for long!"

The following day Kirk attended Spock during his formal initiation as a warrior. The ceremony took place in the Hall of Ancestors, which was now ablaze with light and richly hung with tapestries, illustrating the history of the family. Under an immense representation of the family crest--a mythical bird of prey--a low dais had been built to one side of the firepit at the rare of he hall. Selon and his captains stood to one side of the dais, Sarek and some of Spock's family to the other. Again T'Kara was present in a place of honor, a fact which still confused Kirk.

The main hall was filled with guests, presumably lesser members of the household. Even the slaves were gathered at the rear. As Kirk entered at Spock' heels the witnesses began to intone a complex chant in the archaic form of the Vulcan language, which was incomprehensible to the Human.

Kirk had never discovered what form of religion, if any, the Vulcans practiced. Presumably, slaves were not to be concerned with such things. But his part in the ceremony had been carefully explained to him. He followed two paces behind as Spock, dressed only in sandals and a plain tunic of heavy white silk, advanced slowly and knelt before Selon. The warrior leaned over him, gathered the long flowing hair into his hand, and severed it with a knife, so that it fell now just below his ears.

Kirk stepped forward and received the silken mass across the palms of his outstretched hands, then walked slowly toward the firepit. He knelt, his back to the audience, and his hands moved quickly. When he rose the long tresses of hair lay across the fire.

Selon raised Spock to his feet, and the captains came forward to encircle his waist with a sword belt. A lirpa was put into his right hand, a shield into his left, and he stood before his family a fully initiate warrior.

No words had been spoken, for the rigorous testing had proved his worth, and his companions' acceptance of him indicated that he was considered worthy to join their ranks. There was no oath, as Kirk had automatically assumed there would be. A warrior so accepted needed no compulsion to act worthily. It was assumed he would do so as a matter of course.

There was, however, an additional, unexpected event. Spock handed his lirpa and shield back to the captains and stepped forward.

"James, come here."

Kirk moved to kneel at his master's feet, and the Vulcan looked directly at the audience.

"My slave has proved loyal and trustworthy, and has shown himself fit to bear arms. My brother warriors have tested him, and are satisfied he will not be a disgrace to me as a fighting slave."

Lifting Kirk to his feet, Spock beckoned, and one of the household slaves came forward with a swordbelt, which the Vulcan fastened around Kirk.

"James, as a fighting slave you are granted certain privileges, and as custom demands, I inform you of them before witnesses. From this time only I may command you, and you are permitted to defend yourself from assault by any man, even if he be a free Vulcan. You will be welcome among the ranks of the warriors, though of lesser status than they, and you will be treated by them with the respect your skill and loyalty have earned. All this you are granted by Vulcan law."

"Thank you, my lord." Kirk found it difficult to speak. Though Spock had promised him equality in private, he had not expected any acknowledged improvement in his public status. Proudly, his head high, he followed his master from the hall back to their room where Spock would change for the family celebration that was to follow.

In the anteroom an elderly man was waiting for them. He rose at Spock's entrance, and Kirk noticed that he walked with a severe limp.

"Master Serret--thank you for coming so promptly. Have you been given refreshment?"

"I have, thank you, Spock. I also took the opportunity to look over the sketches you left for me. So this is the slave? Indeed a lovely creature. Such beauty deserves my finest work."

"I would trust no other than the finest craftsman on Vulcan to collar him fittingly. His body is perfect, but already the collar he wears is scarring his neck. You must insure a proper fit."

"Of course, of course. May I have your permission to measure him?"

"James."

Kirk stepped forward obediently, and Serret passed a length of silk cord around his neck.

"Is that comfortable? Good--now let me see--yes, that is sufficient."

"When will it be ready?" Spock asked.

"You young people, so impatient," Serret chuckled. "However, for you, Spock--yes, if I put all my assistants to work it can be ready this evening"

"Thank you, Serret--I will be most grateful."

"My lord?" Kirk interrupted softly.

"Yes, James?"

"If it pleases you, I have a request."

"Speak, then."

"It's . . . well, it's a secret, a surprise for you. May I tell Lord Serret?"

"You may." Spock smiled indulgently and stepped aside as Kirk whispered something to the goldsmith. Curiosity burned in him as the Human reached inside his tunic and handed something to the Vulcan.

"Well, now, an unusual request, but it can be done. Spock, your slave is something of a romantic. His surprise will please you, I think. The collar will be delivered this evening without fail."

"Again, my thanks."

"None are necessary. It is a pleasure to create beauty to adorn beauty. Live long, Spock, and honor to your House."

"What was that all about?" Spock asked as the door closed behind the craftsman.

Kirk smiled secretively. "If my lord would restrain his curiosity until this evening?"

Spock nodded. "Very well, Jim. Now, I suppose I must change. I have never cared for these lengthy affairs, but it is expected."

The day dragged endlessly as members of Spock's family and his many friends came to congratulate him. It was unusual, and the highest honor, for a novice warrior to be chosen for a war band before his final initiation. Kirk found that he was treated with a little more regard by the free Vulcans: a pleasure slave, however beautiful, was valued for only one reason, but a fighting slave had proved his worth as a man, something this fiercely-proud people could respect. Even Sarek spoke to him with gruff kindness, wishing him success in the campaign ahead.

Only one thing marred Kirk's happiness. He had looked forward to some time alone with his lord, but now they would be expected to join the war band. It was Selon who relieved his disappointment.

"Spock, it may please you to know that Satak, too, joins out band. Tomorrow I ride to oversee his testing and initiation. You will have ten days before my return."

"As you command, Selon, " Spock replied formally, but his eyes met Kirk's with anticipation, and a delight that matched the Human's.

Some time later Kirk was sitting at Spock's feet while he spoke with his father.

"Father, may I request your assistance?"

"Ask, my son."

"I require a slave, would you purchase one for me and have him trained?" Kirk stiffened and felt Spock's hand press his shoulder reassuringly.

"Gladly, Spock. What precisely do you require?"

"If James is to serve me both in bed and in battle, I do not wish him exhausted with menial tasks. Find me a work slave--a castrate--to perform such duties."

"Well thought, my son. It is not fitting that your fighting slave prepare food and wash clothes. I will see to it."

"Thank you, father." As Sarek moved away Spock leaned down to offer an explanation. "In camp there are general slaves for such tasks, but in the field each warrior's slave is solely responsible for his master's tent. A pleasure slave might act as a servant, but I wish you to concentrate on satisfying my . . . personal requirements."

"As my lord commands," Kirk promised demurely, laughter in his eyes.

At last the guests began to leave and Kirk and Spock were free to return to Spock's rooms.

Closing the door, Spock sighed with satisfaction. "We have ten days. I intend to make the most of them."

"So do I." Kirk was already removing his tunic, and the Vulcan watched appreciatively as the perfect body was revealed in the lamplight. "Look, Serret has delivered my new collar."

"A moment, Jim." Spock's voice halted Kirk as he was about to pick up the box. "First there is something that I must do. Kneel before me."

Kirk knelt, and Spock's hands touched his collar. There was a sharp click. The heavy metal band fell away, and Spock lifted him to his feet, examining his neck critically.

"The scars will fade," he announced at last, and leaned forward to press his lips to the angry red marks. Then drawing away, he pulled off his clothes and stood naked, his hands on Kirk's shoulders.

"Jim, I spoke of the warrior's oath. Will you swear it now with me?"

"I will."

"Then repeat my words." He led Kirk's hands to his face, and took the Human's between his own, then in a low voice he said deliberately, "James Kirk, I take you as my sole mate, my life's companion. My sword will be your shield, your honor as my own, and my mind and body I give into your hands. As I claim you, so will I keep you, mine alone through life and death, and at life's close I will not part from you. As I have said, let it be."

As the Vulcan spoke, Kirk felt a strange, welcome intrusion deep in his mind as . . . something . . . entered and settled, establishing a warm, beloved presence that he greeted eagerly. Then, repeating his lover's words, he was aware that part of himself flowed outward, to be led into the Vulcan's mind and welcomed as a long-awaited guest.

Spock then picked up a knife from the table and made a shallow cut in his shoulder.

"Taste my blood," he murmured, "and become flesh of my flesh, my brother in spirit."

His hands rose, pulling Kirk's head down so that the Human's lips pressed against the bleeding wound. Kirk sucked gently, feeling Spock's hands stroke his hair as the hot, bitter fluid filled his mouth. His tongue caressed the open flesh, and through the mind link he experienced Spock's pleasure at the contact. Raising his head at last, he licked the blood from his lips and smiled confidently at Spock as the Vulcan made a careful incision in his own flesh. He clung to the strong shoulders as the Vulcan took his blood, desperately conscious of the richly sensual feeling that filled him. The old Terran myth of the vampire came to mind, and he thought dazedly that his soul was well lost if he gained such pleasure in the exchange.

At last Spock raised his head. "So, it is done," he breathed, brushing Kirk's lips lightly. "We are joined now, each to the other, your life mine, and mine yours."

"I am content," Kirk whispered in answer.

"And now I must collar you again, my love. I wish . . .

"I doesn't matter, Spock. I understand." Kirk slipped to his knees. "It's the only way we can survive and be together in this world of yours. Put it on."

He watched as Spock opened the casket and lifted out the collar, holding it up for Kirk's inspection. The wide gold band, measured to fit snugly around his throat without chafing, was fashioned so delicately it might have been woven from fine silk. At the back, where the two halves snapped together, an intricate lock had been fitted. This was one of the secrets of Serret's craftsmanship. It required no key. When the two ends had been joined, the collar could only be removed by cutting the metal. An engraved disc set into the front of the collar bore Kirk's name, identifying him as the property of the warrior Spock of the house of Sarek.

"Beautiful workmanship," Spock murmured. "Almost worthy of you, yet it is still a collar . . . Wait, what is this?"

Examining the inside of the collar, Spock saw that the fine threads of gold had been interwoven with strands of black silk. He looked down, to surprise a flood of color in Kirk's cheeks.

"Jim? What have you done?"

"Sit down and I'll tell you." Kirk slid along the floor to sit at Spock's feet, his cheek resting against the Vulcan's thigh. "Humans can be hopelessly contradictory, Spock. Once I knew you didn't want to keep me as a slave, I didn't mind being one--at least, not yours. That was what I couldn't bear--the thought that to you I was just a valuable possession. Then you spoke of the oath, and I wanted to do something to show you that I understand the necessity of my bondage. The idea came to me when I was given your hair to burn. I saved a strand, and asked Serret if it could be woven into the metal somehow. You hold me of my own choice, Spock. If I'd stayed with Savak, once I got over the first shock, I'd have killed myself. I was beginning to think of it when you won me."

"And then?"

"Then you were kind. I wanted to live, if I could, so I waited to see what would happen, if my chance would come- -and I couldn't take it. I hated my weakness," he kissed Spock's thigh. "Now, now it doesn't matter anymore. If my chains keep you safe--I can wear them."

"They do. You hold my life in your hands. Oh, Jim, I love you."

"You didn't at first. You thought I was a mindless barbarian. You didn't even want me! What made you change?"

"I think . . . when I saw Satak flirting with you, and you laughed with him. I was jealous. I did not want you to laugh for anyone but me."

"Satak was kind. After Savak, I knew you were special, but it was Satak who showed me that not all Vulcans abuse their slaves."

"Savak!" Spock's face darkened with anger. "Richly does he deserve his disgrace!"

"His disgrace?"

"When Selon and his captains came to evaluate the novices, they remembered Savak's treatment of you. They inquired further, and discovered that he is a sadist who has used other slaves with the same brutality. Courage and fighting skill alone do not make a warrior, Jim. We have much power, and are expected to use it responsibly. Savak and those novices who followed his lead showed themselves unworthy of such power. They have been refused initiation, a terrible disgrace at this stage of training."

Kirk pressed his lips to Spock's thigh again in protest. "Must we discuss Savak?"

"Perhaps not--if you can think of a more interesting topic . . . of . . . ah . . . conversation?"

The Human looked up, smiling wickedly. "I'd rather not talk at all," he said, and had his wish as the Vulcan's mouth covered his.

Spock broke the kiss only to pull Kirk to his feet and then over to the bed. For a time they lay together caressing each other's bodies gently, but as they kissed their hands became more urgent, more demanding, until Kirk, filled with sudden hunger for the taste of the Vulcan's flesh, wriggled out of Spock's arms and turned on the bed, lowering his head to take the Vulcan's penis into his mouth.

Under the insistent stimulation of his lips, the dormant organ began to swell and harden, filling his mouth with its spicy heat. Kirk settled himself closer, grunting contentedly and began to suck with a low, demanding pressure. Spock writhed under his touch, his fingers clutching at the Human's hair, his free hand resting on Kirk's face so that he could feel the movement of the busily working mouth. His hips began to thrust upward and Kirk sucked hard, faster, as he sought to take even more. The muscles of his throat relaxed as Spock surged in eager response, then warm creamy liquid filled his mouth and he swallowed avidly, eager for everything Spock could give.

They lay quietly until the trembling in their bodies subsided, then Kirk pulled reluctantly away from the softening penis and moved back up the bed, sighing with satisfaction as he rested his head on the Vulcan's chest. He could feel a hand moving caressingly over his buttocks, and as he lay, his fingers began to play with Spock's nipple.

The Vulcan gasped at the touch. "Please . . . your mouth . . . " and Kirk turned his head, his tongue reaching for the green-tinted nipple. It grew erect as he licked it, and he began to suck, nipping the flesh gently between his teeth. Spock's hand left his buttocks, and slid around to fondle his penis, the warmth gradually coaxing him erect until his groin ached with longing.

Satisfied that the Human was fully aroused, Spock released him hesitated for a moment, then to Kirk's astonishment, the Vulcan spread his long legs wide apart, and pulled him on top.

"Spock? What is it? Kirk knelt up to study him. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing. I want . . . Jim, you must take me now . . . I must belong to you."

At Spock's words desire surged through Kirk, the sweet ache in his loins became a throbbing pain. He had desired this surrender so long, and barely admitted the hunger to himself. A master did not submit to his slave.

"Are you sure?" Kirk's hands moved caressingly over Spock's belly. "You don't have to.."

"I want to, need to. Here we are only lovers, and if our bonding is to have any meaning at all, I must belong to you as surely as you must do to me, otherwise you may come to doubt, to wonder if I have tricked you. And . . . I wish it, Jim. Please . . . take me . . ."

Unable to resist, Kirk leaned down to his lover. "Oh, I will, " he promised thickly. "I want you . . . so much . . ."

He sought the soft lips, and they parted eagerly under his, coaxing his tongue into the moist heat of the Vulcan's mouth; Kirk savored the kiss, but the pounding in his groin intensified, and he pulled away, kneeling back to run his hands over Spock's body. Lifting Spock's legs onto his shoulders, he probed between the Vulcan's buttocks, frowning as his fingers touched the tight opening.

"I'm not sure," he whispered. "I could hurt you . . ."

"Please, Jim!" Spock pulled at him urgently. "You must . . . I want you inside me!" His voice was hoarse as he pleaded.

"I'll try." Kirk gripped his penis and guided the rigid organ between Spock's cheeks. He thrust gently, and Spock groaned as the head penetrated. Kirk froze, trying to control the lust that ravaged his mind, fighting the temptation to force his way into the submissive body.

"I can't," he choked. "It's not . . . I'm too big . . ."

He began to withdraw, but with a sob of despair Spock arched convulsively so that the full length of the hard shaft was driven deep inside of him. Terrified, Kirk remained motionless, heart-sick as he watched tears well up in the dark eyes.

"You shouldn't . . . you didn't have to prove . . ."

The firm lips curved in a smile. "I am unharmed, Jim. The pain is fading already." The glowing eyes widened, filled with wonder. "I can feel you . . . inside me. I belong to you . . . Jim, use me as I have used you. Show me what it is to be possessed."

"Yes, yes . . . " Kirk laughed in relief and began to thrust into the exciting heat. His hand curled around Spock's penis, stroking the Vulcan as their bodies worked together. He had expected a certain degree of awkwardness at first, but there was none as their joined minds allowed each to sense each other's sensations and react accordingly. Instead it was a little like making love to himself, knowing in advance which caress was longed for, and exactly what response each touch would bring.

Spock trembled in his arms, almost overwhelmed by an unimagined pleasure. Kirk was gentle, tender, loving . . . and totally ruthless as he plundered the delights of Spock's virgin body, taking his willing surrender and reflecting it back a hundredfold as the unendurable ecstasy mounted higher and higher. Tears spilled from his eyes, unnoticed until Kirk leaned forward to kiss them away, his lips gentle even in the frenzy that owned them. Spock's sharp nails raked Kirk's back as he drove himself blindly against the Human. His head fell back and he screamed his pleasure as he climaxed, as Kirk's penis spasmed inside him, filling him with the cool slickness of Human semen.

Kirk withdrew carefully, and he slumped forward to lie against Spock's chest, both of them gasping painfully for breath, then he rolled away and turned on his side to gather Spock in his arms. For a moment he looked down in wonder. He had not imagined that Spock, the fiercely- proud warrior, could be capable of such total submission to the will of another. Then his eyes clouded with worry.

"Have I hurt you?" His voice shook with fear as he searched between the Vulcan's thighs, dreading to find them smeared with blood. To his relief, his fingers came away dampened only with semen.

"Jim . . . " The parted lips tempted him, and he claimed them imperiously, his tongue penetrating deep into the Vulcan's mouth, but he pulled away in surprise as his penis began to engorge again.

"What's happening to me? I was never able . . . to arouse so quickly . . ."

"Nothing for you to fear," teased the Vulcan. "It is merely that you have triggered my sexual heat through the bonding, and because you are dominant, the desire is expressed through you body. You must continue to use me until you are completely drained. Take your own pleasure. Mine will come from serving your need."

Spock turned and rose onto his hands and knees, wriggling his buttocks into Kirk's groin. The Human shuddered with desire at the sight of the body he lusted for offered to him, and with eager fingers he parted the buttocks and surged forward. It was easier this time, for Spock was still moist from Kirk's ejaculation, and he showed no discomfort as the Human ploughed into him, but thrust eagerly backward to meet the penetration. Kirk gripped Spock's hips firmly, and the tensing of the anal muscles around his penis brought him to rapid orgasm.

Sobbing, blind to everything but his hunger, Kirk turned Spock on to his back and explored the submissive body, sucking and biting at each vulnerable spot. The green- bronze nipples fascinated him and he lingered, sucking at each in turn until the bittersweet taste of Vulcan blood filled his mouth.

Shocked at his violence, yet desperate for relief, Kirk pulled the long legs apart and buried himself in the warmth, cooling his own fires in Spock's, but when he withdrew the hunger gnawed at him so that he trembled in fear at what he might do next.

"Let me help you, Jim." Fingers pressed lightly against his temples and the need receded slightly as love and reassurance filled his mind. "The intensity of the need tires you." Spock continued as he sat up and lifted Kirk beside him. "Though it must be burned out, a short respite will be beneficial."

Arms around each other, they walked into the bathroom, Spock smilingly shaking his head when Kirk moved to ring for slaves.

"No one else," he murmured. "Tonight we serve each other."

He filled the bath himself and lifted Kirk into the warm, scented water, joining him so they could wash each other, not master and slave, but companions, lovers. The warmth, the gentle hands sliding over his skin abated Kirk's hunger to a pleasurable glow, and he enjoyed the sheer intimacy as they enfolded each other in soft towels to dry.

"There is some wine over there," Spock said lazily from the wind sill where he was sitting, combing his hair into a shining helmet of black silk. Kirk turned, and the Vulcan added. "You no longer need the towel, Jim."

Grinning, Kirk tossed the towel aside and walked over to pour the wine, knowing that Spock was studying his naked body with appreciation, and enjoying the awareness of the dark eyes that explored him.

"Only one goblet, Jim?" Spock raised a surprised eyebrow as Kirk handed him the cup.

"I prefer to share yours." An arm encircled his waist and pulled him down to sit on Spock's lap. Kirk started nervously, glancing out of the window. "Is it safe, Spock? If anyone was in the courtyard and saw me uncollared . . . "

"No danger, Jim. The garden is mine, and no slave will enter it when I am in these rooms. Now drink."

They shared the win, taking it in turns to sip from the cup each making a game of setting his lips to the exact spot where the other's had rested moments before. At last Kirk set the cup down.

"I think . . . we’d better be getting back to bed, Spock."

The Vulcan glanced down at the Human in his arms, and his smile broadened. "I see the necessity, I believe." Reluctantly he allowed the Human to stand, then caught his arm and turned him back to face his still-seated master.

"What is it, Spock?"

The Vulcan didn't answer at once; instead he let his hands roam lightly over the Human's body--arms, chest, belly, thighs.

"I was just remembering," Spock said after a few moments. "I thought you beautiful when I first saw you, but now-- you are stronger, fitter, your body exquisitely combining the strength of a warrior and the charms of a pleasure slave. You are indeed perfect, Jim."

"Thank you, and I can return the compliment. But I'd far rather do it in bed!"

Spock laughed and allowed Kirk to pull him to his feet. As they returned to the bed, they passed by the table.

"We’ve forgotten something." The golden collar glinted in his hand.

"Not yet, Jim." Firmly Spock took it from him and dropped it back on the table. "In the morning will be time enough. Let us have this night at least, with not even the symbol of compulsion between us."

Returning to the bed, Spock lay down and opened his arms, smiling up at Kirk with anticipation. The Human bent and kissed him, then joined him on the bed, running his hands teasingly over the thighs that parted at his touch. The fire was building again, scorching his nerves, his penis swelling at the mere sight of Spock's body offered to him. He reached for the small opening, then hesitated and stretched himself full length upon Spock, trapping his penis between their bodies. He began to pump himself against Spock, suddenly afraid that further violent penetration might damage his inexperienced lover as he had been damaged by Savak, but the contact was not enough, and he moaned in anguish, fighting the temptation to seek the tight heat his body demanded.

"Use me, Jim," Spock urged. "There is no peace for me while you are yet unsatisfied."

"I can't --hurt you," Kirk gasped as he ground his belly against Spock's and the Vulcan read his reasons in his mind.

"Then use my mouth."

Strong hands guided him to kneel astride Spock's chest and the insistent mouth took him, sucking deliciously. Kirk thrust in to the moist warmth, his powerful hips driving his aching penis deep into Spock's throat. A curious mixture of violence and tenderness filled him, enabling him to understand at last why Spock used him with such urgency and the restraint his lover must have used not to hurt him.

In that moment he knew that there were no regrets left. If his life was offered to him again, there was nothing he would change. Even the humiliation he had endured at Savak's hands had in some measure contributed to the totality of his commitment to Spock. As for the future-- that would come as and when it would. They both had difficult parts to play in the days that lay ahead, but the prize for success was this essence of utter love and belonging. And one day, perhaps on some world neither them had yet seen, it might be possible . . .

His body convulsed, his semen filling the Vulcan's mouth, and he felt the movement of muscles in Spock's throat as he swallowed greedily. Kirk's hips thrust as he pounded frantically, calling Spock's name again and again until it seemed his whole body had dissolved and poured down the Vulcan's throat.

When it was over he collapsed helplessly, unable to move. Strong arms settled him comfortably, holding him close, and he buried his face in Spock's neck.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, "I wanted to be gentle, to give you pleasure . . ."

"You did, Jim." Spock's voice was husky with content. "I foresaw the intensity of you need--I am glad of it."

"How can you be? I must have hurt you."

"And so enabled me to share you pain. Now that you have experienced the urgency of the mating fever, perhaps you can understand how it is for me. Such need does not permit gentleness, but you taught me passion, showed me at last what it is like to belong completely to a lover. There will be time for tenderness, too. But for now . . . you should sleep."

"I can't . . . not yet." Kirk reached down to stroke the Vulcan's throbbing penis. "You need me now."

"Jim, I can . . ."

"Please, Spock. I need to do this."

Yielding to the pleading in the Human's tone, Spock laid Kirk down and stretched himself upon the cool, naked body. Kirk's legs parted, he raised his hips, offering himself, and Spock slid smoothly into him. He felt the Human brace himself to respond to the powerful thrusting he expected and leaned forward to brush sweat-damp hair from the white forehead. He took Kirk's mouth and kissed him sweetly, tenderly. His hips moved, a gentle rocking rhythm that penetrated deeply into the Human with a low friction that brought his own release without overtaxing his exhausted lover.

"Thank you, Spock." Kirk closed his arms around the Vulcan, pressing him close. "Don't go," he murmured. "Stay inside me as we sleep. I like to feel you part of me."

He cradled the dark head to his chest, sighing with sleepy pleasure as warm lips brushed his nipple. The firmness of Spock buried inside him, the arms that held him so possessively gave him a feeling of absolute security. No, there was nothing to fear, for although he must play the part of a slave, he lay now with a master who also his lover, and his beloved. In total trust he abandoned himself to his delicious weariness, and slept.

Across the room Lashmi raised her massive head and surveyed the entwined bodies through slitted emerald eyes. Then resignedly, she curled up, pillowing her chin on velvet paws. There was clearly no room for her on the bed tonight.

 

The End