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For thou hast touched my five senses and they answered thee
Now I am nothing and I sink
And on the bed of silence sleep till thou awakest me

William Blake

"We're ready for you now, Mr. Kirk. Please come this way," the proprietor announced, a lecherous grin distorting the already unappealing features into a pointed, rodent-like mask. The man had too many teeth.

Kirk hesitated.

"Go on, Jim. You've never seen anything like it," Mitchell prodded.

Annoyed, more at himself than at his friend. Kirk turned without further thought or backwards glance and followed the panderer to the largest of the nearby tents.

On the eve of the greatest day of his life, where was James T. Kirk, the Emperor's newest counselor and future commander of the Emperor's finest starship? At a brothel. Granted, the most luxurious and exclusive of its kind, but nevertheless, a brothel.

Ignoring the illogical emptiness he felt after this day of unsurpassed dream fulfillment. Kirk reluctantly followed the nauseating little man to the star attraction of this establishment - an alien slave forced into prostitution. A male, rumored to resemble the Devil himself in appearance and performance. How the hell had he ever been stupid enough to allow Gary to talk him into this?

Kirk didn't know, nor did he understand what kept him from turning back. Perhaps it was the voice of his first officer, laughing in the darkness behind him. The fact that Gary was witness to his actions made it nearly impossible for Kirk to back out at this point. But - it was more than his pride. Somewhere deep inside there lurked the haunting truth that there was no reason to go home. Oh, he'd been lucky. During the past two weeks all of his career ambitions had been realized; he was rich, successful, powerful...and absolutely alone. This last was totally unanticipated; he hadn't even thought it would matter. But it did, and Kirk had no idea as to how he should deal with it. He knew that whoring wasn't the answer, but for one brief night it would divert his mind from the void within.

The proprietor parted the flap of the tent, allowing Kirk to precede him.

The furnishings were no doubt sumptuous, but Kirk failed to notice them. From the second he entered, his complete attention was drawn and captivated by the figure resting on the bed - the star attraction, Gary's famed Devil. Never in all his travels had Kirk seen such a creature.

In truth, the alien did resemble the mythical character. The ears were pointed and eyebrows slanted as legend told. The raven hair and fathomless irises were as black and darkly mysterious as uncharted space. Kirk felt himself drawn to their beauty by the same compelling lure with which the stars had bewitched him. He should have been frightened by their power over him. The Devil, after all, was the epitome of evil; yet, he was not. Something was lacking - the malevolence essential to the completion of the satanic stereotype.

The dark eyes regarding him from the huge bed were neither sinister nor impassioned. They seemed distant, as though they focused, not on the reality of the surrounding brothel, but on an inner space untainted by the cruelty and baseness of this existence. And perhaps that distance offered the creature some measure of dignity, for the intelligent features commanded a respect which was completely incongruous with his position.

"Does he meet with your satisfaction, sir?" the panderer squeaked from the doorway.

Kirk blinked, as if aroused from a trance. "Ahh...yes, quite satisfactory."

"Any devices you may require for your further enjoyment are over there," a scrawny finger pointed to an intricately wrought golden table with a computer console above it, "as are the controls for adjusting the restraints . "

Kirk's stomach tightened at the mention of devices and restraints. The devices were nothing but instruments of sadistic torture. Kirk wouldn't use them on an enemy in battle, never mind a partner in pleasure.

The proprietor's reference to restraints shattered the illusion of the alien's dignity. This wasn't the visiting dignitary of Kirk's imagination, but a slave to others' passions, as evinced by the flexible, metallic straps leading from the mechanized headboard to the alien's wrists. Those straps hung loose now, but Kirk knew that the slack could be withdrawn into the headboard, the flick of a switch securely binding the alien prisoner to the bed. The restraints weren't common to all prostitutes employed by the Emporium, just those unfortunate few owned by it.

"Will that be all, sir?"

"Yes."

"You'll find him a quiet, cooperative companion. Enjoy yourself." The man departed, leaving Kirk in a valet's care.

Naked and feeling incredibly awkward. Kirk crossed the room to stand before the bed. He was nervous. It had been so long since...Kirk felt it should be easier now. Fifteen years was a long time; time enough to forget most things, or learn acceptance.

Unfortunately, Kirk was no novice to this. The former emperor had "honored" his youth with his sexual attentions. Kirk had a personal knowledge of what was expected of the slave, having once occupied a similar position. Those all-too-vivid memories of his own first frightening encounters had always stopped him from enjoying other males.

But this was different; this time he was the taker. There was no comfort in that idea. Once, before the emperor, he'd known how to give, how to find pleasure in giving. Now it was the fastest way of being hurt.

He wished he hadn't allowed Gary to talk him into this. The memories had unsettled him, his whole style was off. Usually it was so easy. He'd flash his most dazzling smile, a few well practiced lines to smooth over the initial uneasiness, and then they'd get down to business.

Only this time the smile wasn't working.

The remote eyes appraised Kirk coolly, neither refusing nor reacting to his presence, merely observing him with the objectivity a scientist would accord an insignificant lab specimen. Kirk felt like a green schoolboy making his first visit to a whorehouse. He cleared his throat nervously. "I'm Jim Kirk. You are...?"

Stony silence, devoid of defiance. A total non-response.

"You know, you really do look like the...I suppose everybody tells you that. Where are you from?"

Still no answer. The eyes were watching him more closely, though, as if awaiting an explosion.

Kirk tried again. "You really are quiet, aren't you? Sometimes a man can be quieter than is healthy for him, if you take my meaning. Now, let's try it one more time. What's your name?"

The threat hung in the air, ominously unanswered.

Kirk sat down on the bed. The anger in his eyes would have driven most men to seek cover. The Devil didn't even edge away from him. The lack of fear impressed Kirk. "You're brave. I'll give you that. Or maybe you just like it rough. Is that it?"

Not an iota of change in expression. The impassivity was infuriating. Kirk found himself voicing the threats of a common thug. "Say something, goddamn it! Don't just sit there like some stuffed exhibit in a museum! I could kill you right now. You know that, don't you? Or I could make you beg me to kill you. Do you want that?"

Finally, the silence breached his patience. Kirk raised his fist to demonstrate his point.

No movement, no attempt to flee or protect himself - nothing. The gaze wasn't even averted.

Those eyes burned right through Kirk. There was no fear in them, or resentment. But there was a slight change. The inevitable degeneration into violence had brought a look of weariness to the thin face. Kirk sensed that the creature was steeling himself against the blow and whatever else was to follow it.

The Human's hand slowly lowered. Kirk's anger faded. Had this happened at any other time he would have been raging. His wrath would have taught the recalcitrant creature a painful, unforgettable lesson about the consequences of antagonizing so prestigious a client. Only tonight the memory of a fifteen year old boy treated with similar cruelty haunted his thoughts. "Look," he explained, exasperated by the atypical show of mercy, "I'm not into rape. If you want me to leave, just say so."

Disgusted with the silence and the absurdity of the situation. Kirk turned away from the silent alien and started to rise from the bed. As he moved away, his common sense chided him. This was a ridiculous way to be acting with a prostitute, especially one whose services he'd already bought and paid for. He didn't have to be this considerate. He could do as all the rest probably had and take what he wanted, regardless of the slave's desires. Besides, how far could the creature run on a six-foot leash? He'd paid for it. It was his right.…

Only it wasn't right, and it wasn't in him tonight to be brutal enough to try and make it so.

Make it so? Did being the stronger really justify the cause, or was it a deception? That fifteen year old rape victim had known the answer. Might did not make right; it merely helped the stronger evade retaliation in a society without justice. To survive, the fifteen year old had become one of the stronger, but he wasn't proud of it.

Perhaps that was why Kirk supported the new emperor - a young idealist desperately struggling to reinstate ancient codes of civilized behavior, long forgotten by their war ravaged society. It seemed an impossible task. Although there were no open shows of resistance to the emperor's new policies, savagery lingered. Even Kirk, the emperor's staunchest supporter, had trouble subduing the more brutal elements of his own character. To defend himself, he'd learned aggression. It was hard to abandon what he had learned without feeling himself to be weak. His career thus far was built upon a series of compromises between the two opposing codes. Whenever possible, he allowed reason to guide his actions, employing brutality only when it was necessary to his survival.

Kirk glanced back over his shoulder at the alien. In this instance, brutality wasn't necessary. His life wasn't being threatened.

Kirk started to rise from the bed. He'd been here long enough for a very quick lay; if he were lucky, there mightn't even be any questions to answer when he left. By this time, Gary had no doubt found something to divert his attention, so he'd leave him alone.

//I'd be alone either way,// Kirk thought with a hint of sadness.

A touch, lighter than that of a dragonfly lazily skimming the surface of a pond, stopped him. A hand was rested tentatively on his shoulder. The slightest motion could have brushed it off, so little was the pressure exerted to hold it there.

Kirk looked back. The brown eyes were still intent upon him, but they were no longer dulled by indifference. Curiosity and surprise showed quite clearly in them as they scrutinized the Human's face.

Kirk wondered what the creature was searching for in his features. Some sign of deception or trace of honesty? He was accustomed to receiving such wary gazes. Usually they came at the start of a friendship when his intentions were being judged. It had been many years since he'd been on the receiving end of such a look; in the Empire it was deadly to trust too easily. But in this instance, it didn't make sense. There was nothing at stake here for either of them. He was here for a good lay and that was it. Standard procedure for a place like this. Yet those eyes. Kirk felt they were trying to read his very soul. Why was the damned creature looking at him like that?

Whatever the reason, the slave seemed to reach a decision. With supple grace, the puzzling being rose to his knees behind Kirk.

Kirk resisted the urge to swing around and see what the creature was doing behind him, sitting perfectly still instead. He could guess why the alien was doing it. His next customer probably wouldn't be as considerate. Initiation of the process did imply some choice in the matter; perhaps it made the creature feel better to do it of his own free will.

A cool stream of air tickled his neck, prickling the hairs up and forcing a shiver from him. Since childhood, the feel of someone breathing down his neck caused the same reaction. Even when he saw it coming and would try to control his response, it would happen. The flow of air gradually grew stronger as its source approached his throat. He shuddered when the warm lips lightly kissed the nape of his neck, shaken by the jolt of fire flashing through him.

The pressure behind the kiss increased, the lips brushing over the curve of his throat. Then suddenly the lips withdrew. A moist tongue tip touched his skin, danced lightly over the hard joint which connected his neck and back. The tongue plunged suddenly downwards, following the path of his spine all the way down into the crevice between his buttocks, stopping at his tailbone.

Kirk watched as his cock, hard since the first touch of air on his neck, surged forward with his hips. Strong arms circled his chest from behind and guided him down to the cool satin.

Kirk turned to the warm creature beside him, liking the appearance of the lean form. He wondered what the alien looked like when he was aroused. Right now, he wasn't. Kirk moved to correct the condition. He kissed the thin lips deeply, with the tender passion he'd use with a lover.

Surprise flickered in the dark eyes. Kirk realized that kisses were probably as rare in this tent as they'd been in the emperor's bed. For a long moment the alien lay still in his arms, allowing himself to be kissed. Then, apparently remembering his function, a manacled hand strayed to Kirk's cock.

Kirk pushed the hand aside, moving his kiss to the long, slender neck. His hand trailed through the soft chest hair, down along the flat stomach, finally grasping the still flacid phallus.

Kirk spent the next fifteen minutes caressing, pumping, and at one point, actually sucking, the green tinted organ. The color was unusual - sexy, but totally impossible. Kirk attributed it to the dim lighting, praying silently all the while that it wasn't the symptom of some new form of the clap. If it were, he was in a hell of a lot of trouble.

As it was, he was wasting his time. The alien's cock simply refused to be stimulated. Eventually, Kirk stopped diverting the alien's caresses.

Once allowed, the creature moved quickly to his cock, as if anxious to resume a delayed pleasure - or speed through a required chore. With tantalizing expertise, the thin hands played with his organ, stroking from the base to the flaring tip, then back again, rubbing the soft testes between slender fingers.

The dark head lowered over Kirk, the mouth absorbing his cock. As the alien began to insistently suck and pump him. Kirk entwined his fingers through the ebony hair. The strands were as cool and as sensuous to his touch as the satin sheets beneath him.

The coolness of the alien's hair was a stunning contrast to the fire the rest of the thin body ignited. Electric sparks of want sizzled through Kirk, leaving him writhing under the onslaught. Release was withheld. The hands and lips controlling his destiny urged him onward, and, helpless, Kirk followed to untrodden peaks of ecstasy.

The intensity was too much. Time after time Kirk felt himself brought to the edge of climax. When he'd feel himself about to come, the alien's hand would move to the base of his cock and softly press down - always in the same place - and his ejaculation would be mysteriously delayed. The incubus-like torture continually poured pleasure upon pleasure, until delight passed into unbearable agony. Suspended at the apex of sensation, he longed for release, and, cheeks burning in scarlet humiliation. Kirk heard his own voice beg for it. He couldn't help himself, couldn't even stop. The alien was in complete control.

Kirk gasped as the mouth released him. He'd expected another example of the unnatural prolongation. The cold eyes pinned him, drinking his rapture in. There was a glint of victory in that dark, brooding gaze.

In an instant of unparallelled clarity, Kirk understood the creature. A slave to others' passions, he would not let himself be stimulated. By enslaving his abusers with their own lusts, he endured the humiliation by demonstrating their own weaknesses. A subtle victory. Most of the patrons probably didn't even recognize it as such, but Kirk did. A new respect kindled within him. Here was a spirit which equaled his own.

Kirk watched the serene face, waiting. Each breath was a struggle. His entire body ached for relief, burned with incipient eruption.

The dark eyes gloried in their victory a few seconds longer, distant and unmoved by Kirk's passion, but when their eyes met, the barest hint of confusion entered the brown depths. A hand reached out and timidly stroked his cheek. Then the alien knelt on the bed, towering over the supine Human.

Amazed, Kirk watched as the alien slowly lowered himself onto his wet cock, skewering himself in what must have been an agonizing impalement. Kirk's body strained upwards to meet him. As he buried himself in the tight, hot tunnel. Kirk felt the weight lift off him a bit, and seconds later slam savagely back down, shoving his cock in deeper.

Kirk's partner relentlessly continued this up and down sliding until Kirk finally exploded inside him. The semen was wrenched from his body, draining him completely. His seed flooded the narrow passageway in powerful spurts and dripped out to cover his own balls in a final, orgiastic cascade.

Kirk lay very still afterwards, struggling to remember how to breathe. The relief he was experiencing was not the after-sex relaxation to which he was accustomed. He felt disenthralled, as if his will were released from the bondage of a superior power. Yet he knew that it was not his will which was influenced before, only his body. But the influence had been powerful and Kirk was glad to be free of it.

Gingerly, the creature disentangled himself from Kirk's body. He slipped off and lay on the other side of the bed.

Kirk turned to him. Over two feet of cold sheet separated them. The alien was stretched out straighter than a corpse, the dark eyes staring blankly at the canvas ceiling, obviously waiting for Kirk to leave.

Kirk reached out and gripped a thin shoulder, willing his silent companion to look at him. The eyes darted towards him and quickly away again.

What Kirk read in the brief exchange startled him; loneliness and utter vulnerability, desperately trying to hide beneath indifference. How many times had this slender sprite been used and ruthlessly abandoned?

"So, this is how it ends...on opposite sides of the bed? Well, not tonight, my friend, not with me." Decisively, Kirk gathered the unresisting body into his arms, snuggling it close to him.

The creature lay unnaturally still in his embrace, as if afraid the slightest movement would break the spell.

An atypical burst of tenderness assailed Kirk, and also a cold trickle of doubt. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. The compassion he was feeling didn't belong in a whorehouse, any more than this strange creature did. A bordello was a place of selfish gratification, all taking on his part, his rented companion giving only what was demanded of him...except, Kirk realized he hadn't voiced a single demand, hadn't ordered the creature to mount him, hadn't even demanded that he make love to him.

//Love? Not sex?// Kirk was shaken by the thought. Something had happened here tonight; something which he was incapable of understanding. Not here, where the warmth of the creature's soft skin still surrounded him and the sizzling passion of the last hour was still heavy in the tent.

Distance was required. Once away, everything would settle into its proper niche in his perspective of the universe. Whores would once again be objects bought and paid for, and love a suicidal dream. All would be as it was, just as soon as he walked out of the tent, only...he was loathe to abandon this strange contentment.

"I know you can understand me," Kirk said after a long while. A curious finger traced the outline of a sculpturesque ear. The delicate tips fascinated him.

At the sound of his voice, the alien's body tensed. Kirk ran his hand soothingly down the bare back. "Don't worry. No orders. I'm not officially captain yet, you know." Smiling at his own joke, he was slightly surprised to feel the taut body relax against him. Trust?

"It's just that...well, I was feeling sort of empty when I walked in here tonight and I don't anymore. Confused as hell, but not empty..."

The dark eyes looked at him. Was it concern Kirk read there? Or was his imagination attributing that emotion to the expressionless features?

"That's all right, though. Almost anything is better than nothing, and you, sir, are the best. Never expected to meet anyone like you in here." Embarassed by his uncharacteristic candor. Kirk stopped babbling. He stroked the alien's soft hair thoughtfully.

For a time their eyes studied each other, then the creature cautiously rested his head on Kirk's chest. Kirk could feel the point of an ear pressed tightly against his skin. Both remained very still, each absorbed in his own distressing thoughts.

At last, the creature pulled back from Kirk's chest. His eyes turned meaningfully towards the tent exit, then back to Kirk.

"I suppose you're right. It's time to go."

Reluctantly, Kirk rose from the bed. He could feel the dark eyes following each of his movements as he dressed. The familiar act comforted him; it boded the reinstatement of normality. But every time he looked back at the bed. Kirk's confidence would waver. Instinctively, he sensed that it would be a very long time before tonight was completely forgotten.

The cold, uncaring - successful - captain had slipped. In failing to administer justified punishment, he'd exposed himself to the deceptive gauntlet of softer emotions. To one unfamiliar with them, they were easily confused. Mercy...love, what did a captain know of these? It was only natural that he'd mistake the one for the other.

Clasping his cape about his shoulders. Kirk vowed that he would never again succumb to these weaknesses. If they could make him mistake an encounter with a whore for love, these softer emotions had to be flaws, and the emperor was wrong in encouraging them. He wasn't fifteen years old anymore; those obsolete morals and emotions were deadly faults in the real world, and very dangerous.

Kirk marched to the exit, and paused there, listening to the silence behind him. As much as he wanted to, he didn't look back at the bed. He could feel the somber gaze burning through him. Gathering his strength about him, he left.

Outwardly, Kirk's expression was as indifferent and unaffected as that of any other satisfied patron.

* * * * *

"Back again, sir?" The panderer's face showed the surprise he felt. Not many of the alien's customers ventured back a second time. His silence and air of mysterious dignity were very unsettling.

Kirk's eyes shifted to the window as he answered the panderer. The sun was setting behind the ornamental tents behind the Emporium's main building. Kirk tried to recall which of the brightly colored structures housed the alien. The dark blue one in the center. No doubt a coveted dwelling. The tents were designed for the bordello's more whimsical patrons, containing only the most talented prostitutes.

Kirk didn't feel whimsical tonight. He was deeply troubled. Every effort to push last night's visit out of his mind had failed abysmally. He just couldn't dismiss the alien's memory. Strangely enough, it was not the sex which dominated his thoughts, but those comfortable moments afterwards. There'd been real feeling there - caring...almost love. It was confusing.

The objective, rational part of Kirk's mind told him that it was all his imagination. His own past had made him overly sympathetic to the slave. Pity had overshadowed his observations. To the slave he was just another trick, a customer to be satisfied and dispensed with. The alien had felt nothing.…

But Kirk couldn't forget the remorseful expression that had wiped the coldness from the creature's face when he had finally stopped the tormenting arousal, or the half-fearful way he'd rested his head on his chest. That hadn't been Kirk's imagination.

The final argument his irritating mind threw at him was the possibility that it was not the slave's individual personality which had stirred such an intense reaction in him, but the fact that the alien was male. After all, the alien's sex had made Kirk ambivalent about trying him, even before Kirk had seen him. Those fears had been based on unpleasant childhood experiences. Perhaps without force being exerted upon him he could enjoy a homosexual relationship. Last night's response to the alien could have been a manifestation of his changing attitude. The sex was different from anything he'd ever known before. For all he knew, it could be just as good with another man.

Kirk disbelieved the veracity of that line of reasoning, but could see only one way to disproving it. He returned his attention to the panderer. "I'd like your most talented male - Human, one who can speak."

"Yes, sir, I have someone who will surely please you. Eric is quite different from your former companion." The rodent continued to talk as they made their way out of the building. "Strict adherence to commands is satisfying the first time, but it can become somewhat boring. A man requires a little imaginative innovation once in awhile, eey?"

"Strict adherence to commands?" Kirk echoed curiously.

The pimp's face paled. "I should've warned you of that, shouldn't I?"

"Yes, you should have. You won't make the same mistake again." The last warning, although effectively curt, held no real anger. The irrational part of his mind was overjoyed by the confirmation of his suspicion that the alien had altered his normal behavior patterns last night.

"No...no, sir, it won't happen again." The panderer stuttered in terror. "I promise you Eric is different."

They passed by the dark blue tent of Kirk's mute companion. He wondered if the alien were occupied. "Does the Devil have a name?"

The proprietor glanced distastefully at the tent. "If he does, he is as silent about it as everything else."

"You don't like him much, do you?"

"He is troublesome without being actively rebellious. That damned silence of his! It annoys more customers...he does it purposefully, you know. Beating doesn't help, .nor does starving. He is too stubborn, but I'll get him to talk eventually."

"Where'd you get him?" Kirk asked, controlling his anger at the boast of mistreatment.

The panderer started a reply, stopping suddenly as he recalled Kirk's imperial commission. "Slave traders," he answered guardedly. "In here, please."

They had reached their destination.

The tent flap parted, giving Kirk a view of the sole occupant. As promised, Eric was different. The tall man was strikingly handsome. Even Kirk, never a connoisseur of male beauty, was moved by his attractiveness. The body sported a deep, bronze tan that offset the crystal blueness of the eyes and the bright gold of the long hair. His features were classical, strong and proudly Nordic, yet containing the last traces of youth's softness.

"Hell, you are a change." A pleasant voice rang out with surprising cheerfulness. The blue eyes scanned Kirk's body appreciatively. "This could be interesting. My last three customers were three times your age and nowhere near as handsome. Come on over."

Kirk moved forward, more at ease than he'd been the night before. Eric’s reception invoked memories of countless other visits to brothels and bore no resemblance to last night's uncertain beginning.

The tanned arms held Kirk in a perfunctory embrace. There was no tenderness or hesitation in the gesture. Eric was a professional and each of his actions was typically impersonal, though effective. Kirk returned it, finding little difference from those he'd shared with female whores, but entirely dissimilar to the last time he'd held the alien.

As Kirk remembered the alien's unresponsiveness, an idea flitted through his mind. Eric wasn't exactly unresponsive, but his movements did lack a certain enthusiasm. Although he did look like he was enjoying himself, Kirk sensed that it was merely a superficial show put on for his benefit.

Eric delivered another long, unrushed caress, this time to Kirk's inner thigh. The mouth, meanwhile, was busy sucking an erect nipple.

Kirk stretched under the ministrations, relishing the blonde's thoroughness. There was only one department in which Eric was less than expert, his own response. He was partially erect, but tonight Kirk needed more than a partial partner. Kirk slid his hands down the firm body, returning Eric's offerings. Before long. Kirk had the professional as engrossed in lust as his customer.

The sight of the tanned youth writhing beneath him, begging in genuine passion to be taken, was undeniably rousing. Kirk held back as long as possible, prolonging the exquisite pleasure to the last possible second in an attempt to duplicate last evening's passion.

"Please," Eric gasped out between breaths, "this is torture..." He spread his thighs further apart, thrusting his hips helplessly.

"Isn't that supposed to be my line?" Kirk questioned, his own voice ragged from waiting. He lubricated himself, then took the long legs over his shoulders. The youth moaned his surrender as Kirk plunged in, the first thrust burying him deeply inside. He remained motionless, struggling to catch his fleeing breath while savoring the act of possession to the fullest. Need crested, flaring brightly within his loins, demanding relief. Kirk began moving again. At first, he employed a gentle sliding in and out to accustom the surprisingly tight anus to the size and feel of his cock. The fever pounded through his body, pulsed through his blood. Kirk felt Eric's arms circle his back. The unbreakable grip pulled him forward to bury his cock deep inside. Kirk exploded, felt the tan body shudder in release beneath him.

They lay together in a sweaty heap for a long moment, then leisurely separated.

Kirk held his breath. The moment of truth. He stared carefully at the face before him. Eric was still beautiful, even more so now when a satisfied smile softened the near perfect face, but...all Kirk felt for him was the gratitude he'd feel towards anyone who gave him such pleasure. A simple, expected response. There was no confusing array of emotions, no inexplicable sympathy.

The face of his devilish acquaintance flashed into his mind with startling clarity. Kirk compared it with the one before him. Eric was more attractive physically. The bright eyes and smile more than outshone the darker features of the exotic alien. Add to that the fact that Eric was a responsive lover, and there should have been no contest between the two. Yet Kirk felt nothing for Eric, and was unquestionably perversely obsessed with the alien.

"Guess this answers my question," Kirk muttered softly as he rose from the bed. He was not pleased with the results of tonight's experiment. He had discovered that he did enjoy sex with other men, but that realization had not freed him of the problem his feelings for the slave engendered. Even now, when totally satisfied sexually, he wished to see the alien, to hold him as he had last night. Kirk had never felt like this before. //How is it possible to...love someone after one night of absolute silence?//

Once again his mind balked at the idea of love. How had he gotten himself into this situation? Love? With a whore, a slave, an alien with the face of a Devil? After only one night? The thought was preposterous. What he felt was lust, different from that which he'd felt for Eric, but lust all the same. It had to be. He couldn't afford anything else.

Determined to disprove what looked to be a frightening reality Kirk left Eric's tent to track down the panderer.

Kirk entered the slave's tent; the contrast of the unbroken quiet to the resolved fury raging within Kirk made him feel like an intruder. He wasn't even nervous, just scared, terrified that his determination to carry out what he had planned tonight would fail.

The alien sat up as Kirk entered, his eyes turning toward his patron without interest. When they caught sight of Kirk, the slanted eyebrows rocketed straight into the black fringe of bangs, then the expression in the eyes lightened, relief, maybe even welcome, warming them.

Kirk moved towards the bed, sealing the compassionate side of his nature securely behind his acquired savagery. At this time it was necessary to nurse those emotions he normally fought to eradicate from his character.

"Kneel," Kirk ordered harshly.

The softness left the brown eyes, replaced by shock. An intensely painful burst of disappointment flared briefly. The pale lower lip was bitten once, sharply, before all expression vanished from the alien's face and he began to comply with Kirk's command.

Kirk stood beside the bed as the slave dropped to his knees.

"Take me in your mouth and suck me." The demand was voiced hollowly in a tone that promised little pleasure for either of them. Kirk's gaze was focused somewhere above the slave's head, anywhere but on the expressive eyes.

The alien's hands reached out to touch him, and the dark head lowered as ordered, but not quickly enough. Kirk grabbed a handful of the black silk and fiercely yanked the head down. The creature had barely opened his mouth when Kirk shoved his cock deep into his throat, feeling his victim almost choke to accommodate it. As a firm, unexpectedly sensuous sucking began, his gaze ventured downwards. Kirk found the alien's eyes fixed on his face. Horrified by the hurt he read deep in the soft brownness, Kirk averted his gaze. "Harder," he ordered roughly. "Suck harder."

Kirk wished he could separate himself from his actions in the same manner he had always removed himself from all other acts of necessity, but in this instance the apathetic distance could not be attained. He'd have to get this over with quickly or he'd never have the strength of will to complete it. "Enough," he barked, toppling the creature onto his back. "Turn over."

As the alien shifted position. Kirk lubricated himself. At least with the slave on his stomach he wouldn't have to stare into those eyes.

Kirk's knee parted the legs further, his shaking hands exposing the objective of this mad rape. The anus which had so generously accepted him last night looked like a pinched, green hole. The protective muscles regulating entry were tightly clenched. If he rammed in now the pain would be unbearable. Kirk defiantly pressed the head of his cock against the opening. Beneath him, the alien's groin pushed into the mattress in an instinctive try for escape. Escape was impossible. The creature was completely defenseless. The slave knew it, as did Kirk. The movement touched Kirk's heart.

//Necessary savagery...completely defenseless...rape.// Kirk shuddered, jerking away from the exposed body. This wasn't right. He'd even forgotten what he was trying to prove by this action.

Kirk's whole body was shaking, his breath coming in shallow gulps, his controls slipping entirely. "I can't...! I can't go through with it..." Tears scalded his eyes, flooding over. He abandoned the evidence of his guilt, huddling at the bottom of the bed.

The Empire had finally broken him. He had become the emperor of his past. He had feared that he was in love, so what did he do? Follow the present emperor's teachings and risk the pain? Extract himself from the situation to avoid it? No, either of those two were rational responses. He had reverted to savagery...to an act of rape to try to deceive himself. The former emperor? In comparison, he was even worse. At least the emperor had never pretended to love the fifteen year old. Kirk buried his head deeper in his trembling arms.

The bed shook underneath Kirk. He froze, the quaking increasing as a hand stroked his bowed neck. Kirk slowly looked up, astounded to see the alien beside him. He fought for control, succeeding only in subduing some of the trembling.

"I...I'm sor...I'm sorry." Kirk sobbed, using the words for the first time in his life. "I'm not a rapist.… I didn't want to do any of this to you, couldn't stop..." Kirk faltered, guilt and frustration storming through him. "I don't understand. What is it about you that changes me?" His controls snapped completely then, leaving him shaking and crying like a frightened child. He felt so alone and was so disgusted with his actions that he had no wish to be left with himself. He couldn't understand how the slave could bear to touch him after what he'd done. And yet the alien was inching towards him. The hand on his neck did not draw him closer, but Kirk sensed the silent offer of support behind the gesture. The choice was his. Comfort would not be forced upon him, nor would it be withheld. It was there if he wanted to take it. Theoretically, he should refuse it. His image of strength had already been irreparably violated. But Kirk wasn't thinking in terms of images and appearances. All he wanted now was what he'd longed for back in Eric's tent, to be held and...loved. Pride surrendered to need as the shaking Kirk clutched the bony shoulders, breaking totally when the alien accepted his decision and folded him in his arms.

* * * * *

A head rose in the blackness of the tent. It was late, very late. Troubled eyes appraised their sleeping companion, appreciating the beauty of the profile.

The young captain had returned again tonight.

Each night for nearly three weeks this gentle Human had visited his tent. This man Kirk was an enigma...more lover than tormentor. A cherished difference, yet disturbing. Anticipation of the fleeting hours spent in this tender embrace made the humiliations of the day easier to endure, but the alien would not delude himself. This recompense was not permanent. The night would come when the Human would fail to return, obtaining his amusement elsewhere. Then all would be as it was before.

Logically, he should remain unaffected by the thought. His mental defenses had long ago inured him to the brutality of this existence, but never before had compassion been used against him like this. Truthfully, he could not deny that he hungered for a tender lover - but he was afraid of it.

The Human shifted to his side. The innocence of the face was striking - deceptively so, considering the exploits Kirk had related to him in the past few weeks. His silence did not appear to bother the Human any longer. That was uncommon; it infuriated most of Kirk's species, but the slumbering man accepted...and continued to return to him.

Grateful for the hour they had left, he moved closer, sharing the warmth which poured off the sleeping body. This Human was so warm...so appealing in all ways that it tried his will greatly to continue to honor his resolve never to respond to the Emporium's customers. If only.…

No, response was impossible. That promise would remain unbroken, even for Kirk. Sadly, he stroked the smooth plane of Kirk's cheek, not daring enough to kiss the slumbering lips. It was a lambent touch, wistful as the aerial fondlings of the breeze. It shouldn't have disturbed the Human's rest, but the alien saw the hazel eyes open in response. He withdrew his hand self-consciously although he did not anticipate a reprimand. Kirk liked him to touch him, especially when the action was self-initiated, and he honestly did enjoy giving this Human pleasure.

* * * * *

Kirk peered into the darkness, surprised by the murkiness of the tent. The lamps had burned out. That was unusual. The proprietor usually saw that they were supplied with sufficient oil for the night.

The darkness was faintly disquieting. In the empire the slightest deviation from routine could signify imminent treachery. He pushed his paranoid fears aside and sought his friend.

Friend? In the last few days it had come to that.

Kirk could barely distinguish the dark eyes from the surrounding blackness, but he could feel them upon him. That same bewitching gaze. He was slowly learning to read what passed behind it, developing a strange sensitivity to the unspoken emotions.

Remembering his awakening, disappointment seeped into him. "It's not time to go yet, is it?"

An elfin head lightly pillowed itself on his shoulder, the skin warm and soft against his flesh. They had time.

Kirk leaned over, his mouth hungrily claiming his companion's in a probing kiss. After three weeks, the taste was too familiar to be regarded as exotic, but he found it even more enticing than he had the first night. As he let his tongue stray into the other man's mouth, strong arms encircled Kirk and guided him on top. The eagerness now present in his alien's participation held little resemblance to the calculated arousal practiced upon Kirk that first night. They shared the pleasure of touching, yet ultimately only one of them completely surrendered himself to its enjoyment.

Unexpectedly, a tongue entered Kirk's mouth. Kirk lay very still as the slender voyager carefully surveyed every corner. The small victory made Kirk immeasurably happy. //Active interest; now if he'd only allow himself to respond...//

Kirk rocked his hips seductively to and fro against the alien's squarer, bonier hips. Just once he wished he'd feel that delightfully green cock grow as hard and big as his own painfully full organ. It was hard getting off on a limp cock. //Then why do I continue to do it?//

The long finger trailing down his spine gave him his answer.

The night wind gently fluttered the loose tent walls behind the bed. The silken rustlings subtly blended with Kirk's pounding heart and ragged exhalations in a pulsing symphony, rapidly approaching climax.

As Kirk stretched, straining to plant a kiss behind the tender left earlobe, he felt the thin body tense beneath him. That was odd; his alien friend usually enjoyed that.

Before Kirk could comprehend what was happening, hands, which seconds ago had caressed his back, pushed up against his chest. Astonished by the sudden use of hidden strength. Kirk felt himself effortlessly flung from the bed.

His hands flailed madly through the empty air, clawing for a non-existent purchase. Kirk's seemingly endless flight was stopped by impact with a heavy iron brazier. The thud of his head crunching against the ungiving metal was amplified by deadly silence. Dazed, Kirk watched the twinkling silver stars reel wildly before his eyes. He couldn't think straight, couldn't interpret the noises which now shattered the silence.

"You're not as dumb as you look, Devil." A familiar voice laughed maliciously.

Kirk shook his head, trying to clear the stars. It only prompted them to spin more erratically.

"That quick thinking might just have saved your life...maybe. Hello, Jim. "

The stars winked out. Instantly, Kirk longed for their return.

The fabric of the tent in back of the bed was slashed. Moonlight poured through the flapping edges, its eerie light illuminating the alien who had delivered him to his death and his murderer.

"Gary...why?" Kirk stuttered. The light glinted off the cold metal of an unwavering phaser. There was no question of resistance.

Mitchell's blue eyes were as cold and hard as ice. "Need you ask. Captain Kirk?"

The rank was spit out with more hatred than Kirk had ever heard in the voice before. Gary was his best friend, and Kirk watched as his best friend began to slowly depress the trigger, as if relishing these last few seconds of Kirk's life.

The action was never completed.

One minute Gary was looming over him, intent upon assassination, the next he was slumping quietly to the floor.

The dark form bent over Mitchell's motionless body, then straightened, rising to its full height. Kirk watched the shadow awkwardly step over the body, nearly tripping over the chains attached to its ankles.

The alien knelt beside him, his brown eyes wide with fear. Kirk had never seen so much revealed in those eyes before. The hand gently exploring the lump on the side of Kirk's head was actually shaking.

"Hey, I'm all right," Kirk assured, his own voice trembling. He collected his naked rescuer into his arms. "You...saved my life. Why? Mitchell wouldn't have killed you. You were out of the line of fire; why did you risk...?"

Suddenly, he understood. Ashamed, Kirk realized that the alien had thrown him from the bed in a protective gesture, not one of self-preservation as Mitchell and he had assumed. When he'd hit the brazier, the phaser had undoubtedly been aimed at the bed. Kirk shook his head in bewilderment. "Why?"

The alien pulled far enough away to look in Kirk's eyes.

For an instant Kirk was convinced his friend was going to speak. Then the eyes seemed to cloud in indecision. Finally the alien moved closer, captured Kirk's head between his hands and firmly kissed him.

Startled, Kirk clung to the lean shoulders. He'd never been kissed like this before. The force, the sheer power with which his companion locked their lips together was overwhelming... demanding.

The spirit Kirk had sensed from the first was finally released, and there was nothing demure about it. Control and dominance suited his friend, seemed natural. Untroubled by the role reversal, he helplessly yielded himself up to that strength. Absently, Kirk wondered if his alien would possess him here on the cold, stone floor. He was powerless to refuse - even if he had wanted to. He felt safe, trapped under those lips. Safe, warm, protected, loved...dizzy. Kirk realized that his senses were beginning to swirl again.

Abruptly, the kiss ended.

Kirk gasped for breath, shocked by how urgently he required it. He felt the grip of the hands on his back alter. They were supportive now, not possessive. The fire was gone.

"What's wrong?" Kirk asked, recognizing the submissive attitude. But the reason was lost to him. The expressive eyes were guarded and troubled, and uncharacteristically unreadable.

A moan came from beside the bed.

//Mitchell? But he's dead...//

The alien assisted him to Mitchell's body. Sure enough, the would-be assassin was still alive. That complicated matters.

Kirk picked up the phaser and gazed speculatively at the unconscious man. Gary had tried to kill him. Subconsciously, his finger twitched closer to the trigger. But strangely enough, he couldn't do it. Justice would be Gary's executioner, not revenge.

"I'm going to have to take him back to the Court," Kirk said bitterly. The watching eyes flashed with surprise. Did they think him weak?

Kirk dressed with as much speed as the swaying room would allow, then used the intercom to signal the proprietor and the Imperial police. Before either arrived, he returned to his silent companion who sat on the bedside, attentively following his every move.

"I owe you my life. I won't forget that," Kirk promised. He paused self-consciously. There was much more he wished to say - words he hadn't heard or spoken since early childhood - but he could hear the police approaching outside. "Be back tomorrow night, okay?" Kirk asked, cupping the soft cheek in his hand.

The black-fringed head nodded approval.

Tempted, Kirk stole a fast kiss, then turned to deal with the squadron of police and anxiously babbling panderer who had descended upon them.

* * * * *

The next day Kirk was unable to fulfill his promise. The proceedings at court kept him hectically occupied. As expected, the Emperor decided in Kirk's favor, sentencing Gary Mitchell to immediate execution. Assassination was not a completely acceptable means of advancement. In deep space, where there existed an immediate need to replace the unlucky commander, it was grudgingly condoned, but here on Earth the more civilized manners of court held dominion. Murder was still illegal, and assassination was punishable by death.

Twenty-seven hours after his unsuccessful assassination attempt, Gary Mitchell died in a public execution.

Sick at heart. Kirk watched from the Emperor's stuffy box. The price of one stripe of gold braid and a silver starship? One of the few men in the galaxy he'd ever allowed himself to trust. It was a heavy, crippling price, and had he known the cost of his pretty new toy beforehand. Kirk doubted if he would have accepted it. As it was, he had no choice.

After the last molecule of his former friend had been blasted out of creation and the last fool had congratulated him on his survival. Kirk returned to his chambers. The temptation to remain cloistered in his rooms was great. He needed time to accept the events of the past two days. Alone he could...he could what? Gary Mitchell had tried to kill him; his nameless companion had saved him. Mourning Gary wouldn't change reality, only hurt his pointy-eared friend.

Resolved, he changed out of his dress uniform and hurried to the Emporium.

* * * * *

"Sir, I beg you to be sensible. For the past three weeks you have monopolized the creature's time. He is in great demand. Other patrons have a right to sample his services. Could you not choose another?" The young captain was not at all sympathetic to his problems. Perhaps if he tried another angle - a harmless half-truth. If the captain did not sympathize with him, perhaps the plight of his desired partner would move him. The panderer recalled the parting kiss which he and the police had interrupted. The tenderness of it. Yes, that might work.

"Sir, he is in an unsuitable condition to satisfy your needs. The last patron left him somewhat...weary. I would have him rest before he is again called upon to perform."

"You just told me you wanted to rent him to somebody else," Kirk interrupted. His eyes darted to the bed. It was glaringly empty. Behind the silken curtains. Kirk could hear the splashing of water. He knew that this was the time when his friend was usually bathed, but the panderer's words were disturbing. There was a worrisome note of truth in his grating voice.

"I'll make a bargain with you," Kirk said conspiratorily. "Bring him out where we can see him. If you still feel he is not up to performing, I'll leave. If you find that he has recovered, I'll pay you double for his services." Kirk smiled at the proprietor's ready acceptance.

Five minutes later, the curtains parted. The young valet who habitually helped Kirk undress moved to the computer console, pressing several buttons.

It was then that Kirk noticed the two golden chains. They lay motionless on the floor, spanning from the headboard of the bed to behind the curtain which separated the bulk of the tent from the lavatory. As he watched, the straps began to slowly rewind into the headboard. The curtains parted again and the alien entered, patiently following the receding restraints back to the bed. //He's never free of those blasted chains,// Kirk realized angrily. //How can he stand it?//

"Is he acceptable?" the proprietor asked anxiously. The captain was willing to pay double an already overly expensive price. If his cursed stupidity had talked the fool out of the deal, he'd kick himself, and the troublesome slave.

"Fine." Kirk closely studied the alien's pale face. Something was wrong. The eyes sparkled joyful greeting, but the rest of his body seemed unusually rigid.

Kirk paid the proprietor, then dismissed him. The valet took longer to get rid of. Kirk had long ago discovered that the quickest way to be rid of the boy was to allow him to do his job. Finally, he, too, left.

"Hi. You don't look too good," Kirk said softly. Actually, the alien was still soaking wet, shivering uncontrollably. Didn't they believe in towels?

Kirk sat down beside him and opened his arms in invitation. Without pause, his companion filled them.

"I've missed you," Kirk whispered. He kissed the soft lips, tightening his grip around the wet back. Every muscle in the alien's body suddenly spasmed. "What is it?"

Concerned, Kirk pulled away. He looked down at his hands. They were damp with clear water and smeared in other places with something green and sticky. //Green?//

"Turn around," Kirk ordered gently.

The creature complied - reluctantly, Kirk thought.

Kirk's breath caught in his throat as he beheld the alien's back. The white skin was horribly marred by eight deep slashes. A dark, green liquid... blood?...oozed from several of the wounds, dripping down the back in a shockingly verdant trickle.

Stunned, Kirk gawked at the sickening sight. They weren't whip lashes...more like razor slashes...or talon rips. //By the Emperor, they wouldn't have given him to a Skorr?//

Kirk trembled at the thought of his lover left to the mercy of one of the winged warriors. The tender flesh defenseless against the scimitar claws...

His body shook with suppressed rage. He was furious with the monster who'd done this, and with himself for breaking his promise, thereby giving the sadist the opportunity. Why hadn't he returned earlier? Why?

The creature turned to look at him. Kirk couldn't meet those trusting eyes. He averted his gaze a fraction. Only then did he notice the ugly bruise on the ultra-delicate right ear.

Kirk stood in disgust, taking a step towards his uniform. They'd need bandages and...

A hand gripped his arm, nails digging painfully into the skin. Surprised, Kirk looked down. The eyes which met his own were frantic...pleading.

Kirk sank to his knees beside the bed in confusion. "What's wrong?"

As the alien's arms encircled his neck, attempting to pull him back into the bed. Kirk had his answer. The alien thought he was leaving.

"Sssh...please, relax. I'm not going anywhere. I was just going to get my shirt to soak up some of that blood and water. You know I wouldn't leave you like this."

The arms hesitantly released him. The head lowered, as if in shame.

Kirk patted a shoulder in encouragement, then set to work. First he retrieved his shirt and tore it into long, thin strips, using the shreds to bandage his shivering friend. That completed, he looked around for a cover. The satin sheets were sexy, but they didn't offer much warmth. His eyes alighted upon the ridiculous cape fashion had forced upon him. For once it had a use.

Kirk brought it triumphantly back to the bed. He tossed it to the far side, then lay down on his back beside it.

"All ready." His friend didn't move, just gazed at him in embarrassment. "Come here." The command tone got him moving. Following Kirk's instructions, the creature settled himself on top of him. Kirk lightly lowered the cape over the injured back, shuddering at the memory of the green gashes.

Several minutes passed in which they both lay motionless, the shivering stilling in one, the anger in the other.

Kirk closed his eyes, trying to bury the rage. He could kill for what was done here last night. Distracted, he felt a hand slide between their bodies. It moved to his penis and began to persistently stroke in an enticing rhythm.

"What do you think you're doing?" 'Kirk demanded. "Stop that and get some rest."

With an amazed expression, the alien subsided. Clearly, no one had ever paid to simply hold him for a night.

Kirk struggled to remain still as his companion drifted into sleep, doing his best to remain a comfortable cushion. The pattern of warm breath against his bare chest was consolingly steady. He looked down at the glossy sheen of ebony hair, trying to ignore the painfully bruised ear which rested upon it. Kirk kept telling himself that the disfigurement was not permanent, that it would soon heal, but his thoughts were empty reassurances against the inevitable reality of the Emporium. //Sure, these scars will heal, but what about the next time? How can I protect him from that?//

The complexity of the problem was intimidating. The more he thought about it, the more impossible it seemed, and yet he knew that there had to be an answer. He closed his eyes, searching for it.

Kirk awoke to find the dark eyes observing him with something close to adoration softly sparkling in their depths. It was unnerving.

"How do you feel?"

A hand reached out and brazenly stroked his hair out of his eyes.

"You look better." Some of the color had returned to the alien's cheeks. Indeed, his friend almost glowed with good health...or something else. Something Kirk found irresistibly attractive. He leaned down for a kiss, pulling back sharply at the last moment. If he was going to be a good little captain and let his friend rest, these were not the thoughts he should be entertaining. He stared at the tent roof in mild frustration.

The warm weight on top of him shifted slightly. A pair of curious eyes peered into Kirk's brooding stare. The lips descended, but did not make contact, hovering a tempting two centimeters above.

"You're not making this easy," Kirk commented. He could almost taste the impending kiss.

One eyebrow ascended questioningly in a nearly comical characterization of amused innocence.

That gesture got to Kirk every time. He'd never known anyone who could raise just one eyebrow.

Suppressing a laugh, Kirk gave into temptation, finding it just as sweet as promised. The mouth lingered on his, lightly nibbling his lower lip in seductive dalliance. Kirk moved to hug his enticer tightly to him, guiltily remembering the back injuries as his hand encountered the makeshift bandages. Careful of the wounds. Kirk rolled over, resting them both on their sides. His arms encircled the slender waist. The buttocks cupped in Kirk's hands were fleshily pliant, their softness yielding easily to the pressure of a gentle squeeze. Kirk recalled how the warm skin grew even hotter when his burning cock was buried deep inside. Aroused by the memory, he tugged their lower bodies closer together.

Ever accommodative to his desires. Kirk's lover arched against him. Their cocks collided in a crushing burst of pleasure. Kirk's hand wandered over the ass to the dark rift between the cheeks. With slowness that would have driven a responsive partner mad, his middle finger blindly explored. The clenched muscles guarding the anus seemed to quiver as Kirk's finger brushed against the opening. The meandering wanderer tickled the aperture for a while, then entered with tantalizing slowness. The anal muscles clenched spasmodically around his finger, the long awaited invasion convulsing the slim body in a devastating shudder.

Kirk paused in his appreciation of the slender throat. //Shudder?// He investigated. Sure enough, his friend's flesh was still trembling in places. This reaction was unprecedented. His alien was finally responding to him!

Encouraged by the small response. Kirk rocked his hips in undulating rhythm, marveling at his own growing euphoria.

Kirk's movements only increased the shivering. He felt the grip on his shoulders tighten, trimmed nails sharply piercing his skin. Kirk had the weirdest feeling that those hands were straining for the willpower to push him away, but failing to find it. Sensing the conflict, Kirk continued his caresses, hoping to reassure him.

The internal civil war raging in the alien's mind was too severe, and Kirk too undeniably seductive, for the creature's rational facilities to enforce the customary, odious detachment upon his unwilling body. Dismayed, Spock of Vulcan was forced to acknowledge that instinct had triumphed. Logic, his one refuge from reality, crashed in the silent sands of lost dreams as he experienced his first erection. Helpless against the fever sizzling through his body, he clung to his tormentor, trusting in Kirk's tenderness.

Observing the external manifestations of the struggle. Kirk feared that the alien's wary nature would emerge the victor, that his friend would abruptly turn himself off. Then, when he felt the limp cock begin to harden and bulge against his own pulsing organ, Kirk knew that he'd won. He ceased undulating, lay back and savored the victory. The shivering creature trapped in his arms was the fairest prize he'd ever won...and the only one of true importance.

Kirk's hand slipped between them. Experimentally, he stroked the springy flesh.

A sniffly sound, the sharp, painful intake of breath, tore Kirk's attention away from the streamlined emerald resting comfortably in his hand.

The alien's eyelids were tightly clenched, face tensed in dread or awe. Kirk kissed the moist, open lips, smothering the tiny, rushed breaths that shot through them. The response stunned him with the power it brought - the alien's lips even seemed to be quivering.

//How could sex possibly have such a shattering effect on a hardened prostitute? Is shouldn't, unless...unless he's never experienced it before...// Suddenly, Kirk wondered how long his companion had been here. //If he's denied himself all of his enslaved life, and this really is his first time, he must've been pretty young when that...pimp got a hold of him.//It was a sobering thought.

Kirk consciously slowed his pace. He couldn't allow his own enthusiasm to rush this.

He allowed their kiss to deepen, radiating his confidence. When the trembling calmed, he moved his lips slowly down the neck to the chest. The dark hairs tickled Kirk's nose, but his tongue soon had the coppery nipples erect. He used his nose to titillate the bony xylophone of the ribcage, with most satisfactory results. His friend was more relaxed, his responses almost alacritous. Kirk no longer had the feeling that he was forcing this pleasure upon his companion.

At last Kirk's journey returned him to the genitals. Aroused, the starved cock cried for his touch, and willingly Kirk gave it. His shaking hands fingered the firm tower, strayed through the contrasting softness of the sacs. The fingers seemed cumbersome, ill-suited for such delicate manipulation. From his own experience at the receiving end of this, Kirk deemed lips and tongue to be far more versatile and exciting. Therefore, he enthusiastically applied them.

Kirk's tongue darted out and curiously lapped the glittering beads of moisture from the flaring, green head, as he would dew from tender spring leaves. Mildly disappointed, he discovered the taste to be little different from his own semen.

At the touch of his tongue, his creature moaned. It was a pleasing voice. Kirk longed to hear it used in speech.

Feeling merciful, Kirk attempted to engulf the inflamed organ, but encountered difficulty accommodating its size. He contented himself with sucking the part that did fit and caressing the remainder with greedy hands. An unrushed, strangely familiar rhythm developed between them. Kirk had the unusual impression of having done this before, many times, to his alien. Instinctively, he sensed that completion was imminent.

As Kirk braced himself to accept the outpouring, his companion's hips wiggled wildly, as if trying to shake him off. Unprepared for the frantic movements, Kirk sucked more fiercely, fighting to hold the organ in place. It was as if the alien was panicked by his recognition of what was about to occur. The struggle persisted.

Ignorant of all but his fiery passion, Kirk rolled them off their sides, trapping the thin figure beneath him. He was aware of the unusual strength the alien possessed - Kirk would never forget the force which had thrown him across the room the night Gary had tried to kill him - it was certainly enough to dislodge him now, but Kirk doubted that it would be used against him.

With the shift in position, the struggle abated. The thrusting of hips only buried the cock deeper in Kirk's warm, Human mouth.

"No...please...no..." The rasping whisper was cut short by a convulsive shudder and dazzling explosion.

Kirk, aroused by the act of arousing, climaxed with his partner. The pleading words barely registered in his consciousness as the universe clouded around them. Kirk clutched the alien's slender hips, struggling to swallow the choking flood of cream spurting into his throat. Sated, he released the flaccid organ.

Kirk looked up at his companion's face. Stunned, he saw a silvery stream of tears running from the scrunched eyes. The body was wracked with tremors of soundless crying.

Puzzled, Kirk reached out. The alien's body flinched when he first touched his shoulder, but he persisted and eventually ended up with the quaking alien cuddled in his arms.

"It's all right. You're okay...don't cry…."

"All right?" The new voice cracked, tottering on the brink of hysteria.

"You're speaking!" Kirk stammered. His observation only seemed to add to the creature's pain.

"No...reason...before... Now... I've betrayed...everything.…" The alien's weeping was no longer silent, but as loud and pathetic as the crying of an abused child.

Kirk held his friend tightly, rocking in a steady, comforting rhythm. Gradually, the tears ceased and the breathing steadied, but still Kirk held on, reluctant to let go. "What's your name?" he asked, thinking how foolish it sounded after the closeness they'd found.

An extensive silence preceded the reply. During it. Kirk was certain he could hear both their heartbeats and his partner's chaotic thoughts echoing in the tent.

"Spock." There was a peculiar tentativeness about the answer. Almost as if the elfin being felt he'd waited too long for his reply to be well taken.

Kirk repeated it, liking the sound of it. "It fits you."

The silence stretched awkwardly between them again. Thinking it too long, Kirk nervously interrupted the empty sound. "Spock, where do you come from? I've never seen a being like you before."

"My home world is called..." Spock paused. He'd almost spoken the ancestral name; instead, he chose to give Kirk the name his mother had called his native world. "Vulcan."

"I'm familiar with the god, but the planet...? Where is it?"

"Very far...too far. I've lost it now." Spock's body tensed again. "Never before...tonight did I betray it…."

"Betray it? You mentioned that before. What have you betrayed?"

"Vulcan, and myself." Spock's voice was hoarse and raspy, breaking occasionally from the years of disuse. "When they...enslaved me, I swore I would not bring shame to Vulcan. They could own my body - I was incapable of preventing that - but my mind and will would remain uncorrupted by their base passions. Tonight I have broken that vow, betrayed Vulcan's teachings. Passion has displaced logic…."

"You haven't betrayed anything," Kirk broke into the dead monotone. His alien - Spock - was deeply distressed by what had occurred; and despite his reassurances, Kirk wasn't entirely certain how to help his friend. The teachings Spock spoke of were unknown to him, as was all but Spock's most immediate history.

"You do not understand."

The words were spoken cautiously. Kirk wondered if it were possible that his friend still feared offending him. "No, I don't. Make me understand. "

"When they captured me, I was both physically and mentally immature. Physically, I was too weak to resist them, and as I had not yet completed the mental disciplines necessary to escape them forever.…"

"Suicide?"

Spock nodded, falling silent.

"Who were 'they'?"

"At the time we did not know, but since my arrival here, I've come to know them as Orions."

Kirk didn't want to think about what else Spock had come to know them as. "Slave traders. Even today they manage to elude prosecution." Kirk thought of how the slavers bypassed the Emperor's unpopular new policies by selling their slaves to Humans on non-imperial worlds. "They attacked your ship and enslaved the survivors?"

"Precisely...how did you...?"

"It's a common procedure. What were you doing in Orion space?"

"Our ship carried ambassadors from Vulcan. A Human ship had crashed on our home planet almost ten of your years before we left. That was our first contact with Humans. The survivors of the crash were sent with a delegation of Vulcans to begin negotiations between the two governments, but they never reached the Empire."

"Why were you with them? Your Vulcan doesn't normally send children on dangerous missions, does it?" Kirk asked.

"I was sent to demonstrate our two species' compatibility."

"I don't follow you."

The thin lips twitched at the corners in wry amusement. "My father was Vulcan," Spock explained, "but my mother was...like you - Human."

The tone of Spock's voice changed slightly when he said the word 'Human'.

Kirk had the feeling that his friend was hesitant to relate that information, almost ashamed. "I don't suppose your experiences with Humans have been very pleasant."

Spock remained silent, his face unreadable. At last, he spoke. "The logic my home planet gave to me was the one thing which made it possible to endure this place. Now it is lost and I have nothing left to fight with.… "

"Because you allowed yourself to enjoy loving me?" Kirk asked.

"Yes."

"You didn't betray anything in loving me. You wanted me, didn't you?" Kirk asked, suddenly apprehensive.

Spock closed his eyes, clearly unable to deny the accusation or meet Kirk's eyes in his shame. "I wanted you. It wasn't logical, but I did want you. "

"And would it have been logical to pretend that you didn't, to deny yourself what little pleasure you've found here among all the things you've suffered? There is nothing base about your feelings. You've nothing to be ashamed of. The others couldn't force you to respond...or do you rank me with them?"

"No." Spock's voice was firm. "You are not like them. You're... different."

"Not really," Kirk confessed. "In here with you I am, but out there... I'm the same as the rest. When I have time to think, I hate the things I do...but I find myself doing them, to survive...or just out of habit."

"You are capable of being different from the others to whom change is impossible. That makes you...special," Spock said.

"Maybe." Kirk smiled. His friend was so serious. Kirk longed to kiss him until the worry left his eyes and they glowed as they had before. Instead, he brushed the silken hair back from a temple. Somewhat surprised, he saw the brown eyes soften.

Almost of their own accord, their lips met, touching lightly, shyly.

When they parted, Spock's face was sadly shadowed. "It's time for you to leave."

Unhappily, Kirk got out of the bed. As he dressed, his eyes kept wandering back to the bed. Not surprisingly, the dark gaze was focused on him. Kirk felt as if it were recording him, storing his memory in the secret sanctuary that logic once filled.

Fully clothed, he returned to his friend, shared a kiss which was flavored with permanent farewells. "Something's bothering you. What is it?"

"Will...will you be back?" The fear was visible.

A painful lump clogged Kirk's throat. He felt...guilt...and responsibility.

"Yes. Tomorrow night. I promise. No one will bother you till then. I'll see to that."

He hugged the thin Vulcan, clumsily avoiding the bandages.

Missing one gold command shirt and one heart, Kirk left the Emporium.

* * * * *

The following evening Kirk entered the tent alone, a small package tucked under one arm. This would be the last night he visited the Vulcan in the expensive brothel. The Enterprise, repairs finally completed, was scheduled to leave orbit the next day.

Spock's nervousness vanished as he entered, but Kirk did not come directly to him as he normally did, nor did he wait for the valet to assist in undressing him. Curious, Spock watched as Jim went straight to the computer console. There was an odd quality to Kirk's behavior tonight which Spock was unable to interpret.

"I received word today that my ship is leaving tomorrow," Kirk said somberly.

That was it. This was goodbye. Tears stung the back of his eyes, but Spock refused them release. There would be more than enough time in the future for tears. He was vaguely surprised that Kirk didn't come to the bed to comfort him. Perhaps the Human was reasserting the coldness necessary for survival in the Empire. If that were so, then why did he bother to honor his promise to return? It seemed uncharacteristically sadistic.

Kirk activated the computer, coding in a sequence known only to one other being in the universe, a sequence which had cost Kirk his new fortune. Financially, Captain James T. Kirk was no longer a rich man. However, there was a certain panderer who was experiencing a remarkable run of good fortune.

As Kirk pressed the last button, the straps which had bound Spock's wrists for so many years snapped open.

Kirk watched the non-expression shatter into shocked disbelief, then unsuppressed joy. It was worth the price just to see that expression.

"What does this mean?" Spock gasped, attempting to master his emotions.

"You're free."

"Free? How did you...?"

"Everything has a price, Spock...almost everything, that is."

"Am I to understand that you purchased me?" Spock asked.

"No. I purchased your freedom. Your life belongs to you now."

"Why?"

"We could say that I did it in the interest of interstellar peace," Kirk said.

"We could," Spock agreed. "Was that why you did it?"

Kirk looked away. "I told you I wouldn't forget that I owed you my life. You're free to return to Vulcan."

Spock was taken aback. He hadn't expected that. The prospect of becoming Kirk's personal slave had appealed to him greatly.

"Vulcan is no longer my home. Without my father's influence, I would not be accepted there, Jim Kirk. My shame of being partially Human did not develop here, as you thought. It was already fully established when I was captured." Spock was uncomfortable. In the past, the only possibility of liberty had been death. Now, presented with a living freedom, he was lost. The Emporium was the only existence he knew. He would almost have been content to stay, if only Kirk would continue to visit him. But the captain had his own life, his own responsibilities, none of which concerned the future of a liberated slave.

"I was hoping that you wouldn't want to return there," Kirk said, almost shyly.

There was a light in the hazel eyes which Spock found very reassuring.

"Since our encounter with Gary the other night, it's become clear to me that as a captain, I'm going to require more protection than I'm accustomed to, more protection than I'm capable of supplying for myself. You handled Mitchell as well as a seasoned security guard the other night...better. Would you consider joining me? No sexual strings attached...I mean. You'll make your own choices. When I said you were free before, I meant it."

"I would not wish for freedom on those terms. You do not desire me anymore?" Was the desperation crushing his hopes revealed, Spock wondered.

The direct question stumped Kirk. If it were a test of his willingness to grant the total freedom he had promised, and he admitted his true feelings, he'd fail. He searched Spock's face, looking for signs of deception. There were none. The only thing he could read was suffering. Spock cringed under his examination as if he were waiting to be struck, but still unwilling to admit his fear of being abandoned.

Kirk went to him, held him close. "Of course, I still want you. It's just that I didn't want you to feel...compelled. Never again. From now on you make your own choices."

"I wish to be with you," Spock whispered.

"You will be." Kirk kissed him, emphasizing his promise.

The familiar haze of arousal which brightened Kirk's eyes as he became engrossed in the kiss reassured Spock in a way words never could have. He lay back, steering Kirk onto the bed.

Kirk pulled back suddenly, his face twisting in distaste as his gaze took in the bed and tent and all that they signified.

"No, not here." Kirk picked up the package he had brought with him. "Here, put these on." 'These' were a suit of clothes. "We'll go someplace where we can discuss it more intimately. It's a nice night out for... talking."

Spock eagerly accepted the clothes, touched by Kirk's thoughtfulness.

Three minutes later, the tent was deserted. The glittering, gold chains lay broken on the stone floor. The Emporium's star attraction had returned to the stars.

The End

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