Note: Like "Self-Inflicted Wounds" and "Nine Lost Lives," this was inspired by a title idea from Kira-Nerys. Thank you again!
Betas: Eternal gratitude to Kira-Nerys for giving me some help with characterization and clarity, and pointing out a lot of overly long sentences. Same to Roisin Fraser, for more characterization, more clarity and a very helpful brainstorming session about how Spock overcomes his first pon farr.
The red sands called to him. A cord wrapped around the most sensitive part of his mind tugged at him without mercy. It tortured him, drove him to strive unwillingly toward the equally unwilling soul to which he bore no connection but that once-loose, now-tightening mental fetter. He clutched a knife centimeters from his chest. He strained against the bond that was knotted to the center of his being, and stared at her portrait for endless moments in vain effort to find something that might convince the rest of his mind to want her.
He slept like a dead man, plagued with dreams by turns violent and passionate. He lost consciousness altogether, for hours at a time, and came back to himself in different places, knowing he had done things but not remembering what. People asked him, begged him, ordered him to tell them something, but he knew that to tell it would be unbearable shame. He wanted his lover, but somehow his lover was not his lover, and he could take no one but the one who had been bound to him, against his will and against hers.
He humiliated himself beyond any possibility he had ever imagined; his hideous secret finally burst free. He went home, but when he moved to claim what he needed, it was denied him. The one he loved came between him and it; he did not understand how, but his madness did. Some part of him knew that his madness was wrong; that if he did as it urged, he would commit an act infinitely worse than losing his control, than taking her, than confessing the truth of his biology. Some part of him spoke up through the fire, pleaded to be released from what the fever would make him do. This, too, was denied. He sank into waves of flame.
Fleeting, disconnected images flashed through him. Heat. Pain. Lirpa. Red blood. A voice shouting "Kroykah!" Pain. Heat. A strap of rough cloth in his hands. Writhing on the sand in the arms of his lover, but the madness forbade him to tear the clothes away and enter the golden body as he longed to do. Prohibited by his insanity from taking any mate but the one who had been promised him long ago. Desperately aroused and helpless to ease his need.
Touching the other so closely, with shields down, it was impossible not to sense the thoughts... and as his mind meshed with that of his opponent, he felt a thing he had not expected. Deep in the center of the other soul, something flared up at him ... a reciprocal emotion? Love, buried beneath the fear and pain? A bright cord, connecting his lover to him?
*But no, I am linked to her...*
And yet it seemed there was a link here too, and even as his body strained in combat, that link was uncontrollably, rapidly growing... strengthening. It was the satiation that every Vulcan's first pon farr lusted after... more important than the mating, than the formal ceremony of marriage. It was the bond, forming, unbelievably, with his rival in the kalifee, and while it was bringing a release and a pleasure so intense he could hardly bear it, his mind cried out in shame and frustration. No, not like this! He had always wanted this man, it was futile to pretend otherwise. But never like this, never to take his soul and bind it to him in violence, without discussion or consent!
All at once, it was over. The need to fight and the need to mate were suddenly, simultaneously satisfied, and he came out of the dark haze of his insanity to find...
...Jim's head, hanging limply from the ahn-woon around his neck. Jim's body, lifeless beneath him. Jim's mind, silent under his touch.
Spock woke up screaming.
"No! I have killed him... No! No! What have I done?"
"Stop! It's all right! I'm here... Please! Calm down! It's all right." Kirk wrestled his half-sleeping lover in a tangle of sheets, clutching at the thrashing arms, until Spock quieted and met his eyes. The human could see the relief wash over the lean face, so intense it left the Vulcan visibly dizzy. "You never had a dream like that before," he remarked, then smiled gently. "At least not since you've been sleeping with me."
An olive flush darkened his bondmate's features, and it took Kirk a moment to realize the cause. As he moved against Spock's naked body, he found it soaked in semen as well as sweat, the thick penis still mostly hard. He looked Spock in the eyes again, and Spock turned away.
"T'hy'la, it's all right," he half-laughed, trying to make a joke of it, trying not to think about what it might mean. "I've had that kind of dream too, believe me. It's nothing to be upset about."
"For a Vulcan," the deep voice grated, "it is."
Kirk understood then. Many things. "Oh, damn. You're going into... oh, damn."
Spock offered no reply, save for a deeper coloring of his cheeks and the tips of his ears.
"Unknown. I expect to have a week, at most, until it begins."
"You have a week, at most... the way you say it, you sound like a man diagnosed with a fatal disease."
"It can easily be fatal."
Kirk gave a twisted smile. "Spock, I'm insulted. You forget you have a bondmate."
Somehow, it had been the wrong thing to say, and Kirk watched in puzzlement as his lover began to build up the Vulcan walls. His movements almost hostile in their swiftness, he rose to change the sheets, avoiding looking at the human, shielding his mind with all his strength.
"Spock? What's wrong?"
Sticky bedclothes were disposed of, fresh ones pulled onto the bunk. Water ran for a moment in the bathroom. A warm but tense body pulled up the covers and lay down, facing away from him. Other than that, there was no answer.
The dream began.
Something was wrong with Spock and he wouldn't say what. He would die if his problem couldn't be solved, but he wouldn't tell anyone how to solve it. And then when he did, the problem compounded and multiplied before Jim's eyes.
James T. Kirk. Captain of the Enterprise. The two names were inseparable, one and the same; the one could not live without being the other. Spock's life or Captain Kirk's career? The human gave in, pushed down his terror at the idea of losing his ship... for when the alternative was losing Spock, there could be no contest.
A face on the viewscreen; the words "my wife." Numb shock, then stabs of pain everywhere: *Spock has someone already. Spock never told me. Spock doesn't care about... us... enough to tell me.* Realization: all these years Kirk had spent longing for his first officer and hoping Spock might return the feeling, Spock must have had no clue. If he had ever suspected his captain might want him, if he had ever considered the idea, he would have mentioned *that,* at least once.
"It was too painful a thing to discuss in even the most intimate of the conversations we had had until then, Jim. I experienced a great desire to continue being the object of your attentions, to hope they might be expressive of the same emotion I felt. Informing you of my bond would have aborted any possibilities there might have been between us, and that was a step I could not convince myself to take." He remembered hearing the words, but in the strange thought patterns of the dreaming mind, he knew Spock would not speak them for a long time yet, and so they made no difference.
Beaming down. The hot, dry air; deep breaths that brought little oxygen into his system. *Vulcan weddings had better be short.* Spock's explanation: "This is our place of Koon-ut-kalifee." Foreboding words: "In the distant past, Vulcans killed to win their mates." Astonishment: "T'Pau! The only person ever to turn down a seat on the Federation council." And then...
"She chooses the challenge. He will have to fight for her."
"I make my choice... This one!"
"This combat is to the death."
Suddenly Kirk was fighting for his life against his best friend, absolutely unfamiliar with the weapons, exponentially overpowered in strength by an insane Spock who had no reservations about killing him, and knowing he had no chance at all. Beginning the second round of the battle, the realization began to sink in that, tri-ox compound or no tri-ox compound, he was not going to survive this.
The thought of death evoked no emotions yet. The shock was still too great. It seemed like something happening to another person... unreal, too ludicrous to be true. Spock, like this...
Wrestling on the hot sand, Spock's impossibly aroused body pressed up against him, Kirk was shocked by an answering arousal of his own. Suddenly, he wavered on a knife-edge between terror and desire. The fear of being killed. The outrage of Spock mating with *her* over his dead body. The longing that things could have been different, that the two of them could, just once, have struggled like this under other circumstances...
And then the fiery mind brushed up against his, and an amazing tide of desire poured between them. There was only time for a human soul to murmur in wonderment, *Good God, he wants me?* before the most incredible thing he had ever imagined was being done to him.
He was hot, searing hot and in desperate need; he was Spock in the plak tow. Then he was turned inside out, looking at his own thoughts--Jim's thoughts--from outside. Some part of his mind he had never noticed before was pulled into the open and caressed until it began to burn and swell and grow; a hidden pathway built itself into an open road connecting two beings. Before he knew it, he had been changed. Changed in a way he knew could never be reversed. Opened until he was only half of one huge soul, his mind and the other joined together like two rooms with a wide doorway between them. Part of Spock was in him and part of him was in Spock... but it had always been that way, he had just never realized it before.
Crashing in on him like ocean waves, Spock's feelings were heat and pain, coolness and relief, anguish and shame and self-loathing, all floating in unimaginable torrents of love. As unconsciousness enveloped him, all Kirk could think was, *He loves me...*
Kirk turned over in his sleep with a contented sigh, his erection quite visible through the sheets as he stretched. Spock looked at him, trying to quell the hot surge of desire that flamed through his heart at the sight of that beautiful man in his bed. Even in the ten years since they had become lovers, he and Kirk had seldom had the chance to take leave together. This month they would spend sharing a cabin on a pleasant Earth-like planet was a true gift, one that Spock had expected to enjoy.
But the first night had not passed before the dream had taken him, a dream as erotic and painful as the ones he had dreamt prior to his first pon farr... except that this one had forced him to relive an actual memory. And no memory could hold more terror for him than that of his first Time, of coming out of the fever to find Jim dead under his hands.
It was true that he had felt the first signs of Jim's reciprocation of his desire while they had fought, and that the result of the disaster had been the beginning of their life together as lovers. But Spock still shuddered at the knowledge of how easily it could have had a different outcome, how easily he could have come back to the ship to find Jim not alive but cold and discolored before his eyes on a table in Sickbay. How easily he could have surrendered himself to incarceration, constant loneliness, seven years until he would know the mercy of death, however painful.
And yet it had been not seven years but three, before it had come the second time. Had it been his hybrid heritage, or his life on a starship, or his unusual bond, that had disrupted the cycle? *And Jim offered himself to me,* Spock mourned, remembering the face that had spoken the words, innocence and trust and excitement all swept up together.
But at that point Spock's mind simply refused to think of what had happened next, and jumped straight to:
*And then I went to undertake the Kolinahr.*
"This time," he murmured, throwing a last glance at Jim's happily sleeping form and wandering into the kitchen of their rented cabin to prepare breakfast, "I cannot permit him to be the one to assist me."
But what other mate would he willingly take? The answer came instantly, unquestionably, unchangeably. No one else. Only Jim.
And yet, he could not subject Jim to pon farr again. He could not.
But there was another way...
Spock set the newly replicated meal out on the counter for his mate and crossed the room, knelt in the darkened corner he used for meditation. What he was planning to attempt, in a week, would require great mental discipline, and now was as good a time as any to start preparing.
"You look terrified, Spock." Words barely heard through the haze of fever, the palpable cloud that had formed around his aching body--a cloud of desire, of his craving for touch, for stimulation, for a willing mind to join with his. He *was* terrified. This pon farr had hit him so much harder, so much more suddenly than the first, and years too soon, when he had had no time to prepare. He was overwhelmed by sensation, and desire for sensation... he was bewildered by the multitude of raging demands from his body and mind... he was desperate to satisfy his needs but they were so many that he didn't know where to start. He tried to answer the words of concern from his bondmate, but all he managed was a low groan.
And then there were hands on him--hands all over his body, undressing him, stroking him, easing his pain, and he thought all he wanted was to lie back and give himself over to the gentle, knowing hands of his lover... to be freed, touch by touch, from the fire demon that possessed him. He moaned and arched his back, rubbing into the caresses of his t'hy'la, the man who knew what he needed and gave it to him freely, the man who was teaching him to feel pon farr as a time of pleasure and not fear, comfort and not pain. It was all right, everything was all right...
Thrusting and arching against Jim's touches gave way to touching him back, then to caressing, to embracing, to clasping him hungrily with arms and legs, running hands up and down his back and clutching convulsively every few seconds as if his lover were an elusive cloud that might slip away if he failed to hold it tightly everywhere at once. Light kisses became long sucking kisses and then hungry kisses with tongue and teeth, finally deep bites that drew blood. Before either of them knew it, Jim was on his knees and Spock was growling and plunging into him from behind like a wild animal in heat. Over and over again he climaxed in that tight haven, barely withdrawing before he needed to enter again. Over and over...
When once he gained a moment of control, he examined the body beneath him. The skin of Jim's neck and shoulder was a mass of bite marks; deep red cuts and purple indentations and swellings left by Spock's own teeth. His chest and stomach bore the angry scarlet abrasions of scratching fingernails. His hips were solid bruises, already swollen and hard with blood... hematomas, Spock diagnosed, feeling faint. Trembling, he parted the buttocks and was confronted with a nightmare of rawness and red. Unsteady fingers worked a regenerator over the worst of the injuries, but they were not yet fully healed when the trembling became so severe that the tool slipped from his hands and clattered to the floor, while his desperately hungry Vulcan body moved to mount his lover again...
"Jim," Spock murmured. "I hurt you. Jim. Jim!"
"It's all right," urged Jim, arms around the kneeling figure. "I'm here. I'm okay. It's just another dream."
Spock came back to full consciousness slowly, but sighed in relief and embraced his t'hy'la when he realized where he was. "I... apologize. I am not accustomed to REM cycles beginning during a meditation. I am... significantly behind in my mental exercises, evidently."
"You're at a difficult time." Seeing the tension in his mate's face, Kirk changed subjects. "You've been meditating all morning. Haven't you had anything to eat?"
"I am not hungry."
"Oh." Kirk cursed himself, remembering McCoy's words so many years ago. *He hasn't eaten at all in three days.* "I'm sorry. That's... to be expected, I guess."
"Indeed." The face tensed again, strained. "When I initiated this meditation, I was preparing to... alleviate my condition by myself."
"What? Damn, if you can do it just by..." Kirk's eyes narrowed suddenly. "You told me once that Vulcans can't masturbate."
"Normally not. Our physiologies are too much ruled by our minds to reach a climax with simple self-manipulation. Humans' awareness of their bodies is limited enough to achieve the 'element of surprise' necessary for orgasm through merely touching oneself, but to a less satisfactory extent than with a partner. Since Vulcans have a near-perfect mental sense of the location of each body part at any given time, manual self-stimulation is not merely of substandard effectiveness, it has no effect at all."
"Ah. And then there's the mind-meld thing."
"Indeed. Intercourse between Vulcans and robotic or holographic partners is seldom successful, because telepathic contact with a conscious mind is necessary to sexual release. The stimulation of one set of senses is insufficient to bring a Vulcan to climax; another person, also aroused, must share his or her sensations in order to achieve that goal. This is why Vulcans are incapable of rape, or at least rape without the victim experiencing some measure of sexual excitement. The mind-sharing is an integral part of mating."
"I know. You don't have to lecture me," said Kirk with a hint of a smile. "So how were you planning to 'alleviate your condition by yourself'?"
Spock sighed and rose from the floor to sit on the bed. "There is a discipline I learned at Gol... a meditation used by those who have achieved Kolinahr. Successfully overcoming the Fever enough times with this rite will result in the cycle ceasing altogether, but few non-Kolinahru manage it on a regular basis. I expect that the studies I undertook in my attempt at the Kolinahr will improve my odds."
Kirk's hint of a smile became a hint of a frown. "Why are you planning to use this... meditation?"
"Its functionality is proven," Spock explained, "and the method is logical. It is a means of achieving climax by mentally aligning and stimulating certain centers of the brain related to sexuality and the mating urge. One arranges the bonding center, the pleasure center and the pon farr center in such a way as to deceive the body into reacting as though one were bonded and there were sufficient stimulation passing through the bond to satisfy the blood fever."
"But you," Jim pointed out, definitely frowning now, "*are* bonded."
"Indeed. And I hope that this will be an immense aid in my meditation. If, at the time I attempted it, our bond were fully open and you were in a state of sexual arousal, it would require less effort to perform the part of the ritual involving the bonding center."
Kirk walked over to the bed and stared down at his lover. "How about this idea instead?" he suggested, beginning to remove his own clothes forcefully, punctuating his words with garments yanked off his body and thrown to the floor. "Suppose our bond is fully open--and I'm in a state of sexual arousal--and you and I--fuck--like--rabbits--for--ten--consecutive--days?"
Spock could only moan as his lover's naked body lowered itself onto him, could only thrust helplessly as the human erection stroked against his through the velvety fabric of his meditation robe. Jim rubbed himself on the velvet for a few more moments, sighing in obvious pleasure at the sensation of the soft cloth, but then rose suddenly to his knees, his hard sex dripping in the air above his lover.
"Ooohhhhh..." A pleading sound from Spock.
"Yes." Reassurance, as Jim's hands went down to open the robe.
And then they were rocking back and forth, arms and legs around each other, cocks sliding wetly with nothing between them at all. Exquisite agony, painfully hard erections pressed so tightly together that the pain and the pleasure both doubled. Moving with such slippery friction up and down the lengths of each other until the tightness and wetness and heat became almost impossible to endure, and then...
Instantly, the bond opened wide between them. Gasping and thrusting, Kirk felt everything Spock felt; sensed the same multiple sensation in Spock's mind. Pleasure compounded unbearably, and then, with one simultaneous heave of the two bodies, they came, hard. Even as he felt his own erection pulsating against his lover's heated skin, the human groaned at the sight of Spock's climax contorting the beautiful face and body. Dark eyes clenched shut, sleek hair tossed as his head was thrown back, powerful muscles tensed and rippled under flushing skin. The convulsions of the other's penis against him and the flood of hot wetness over their sweating chests and stomachs threw him even deeper into his own orgasm. He fell onto Spock's chest, felt the strong arms enfold him in a close embrace, and drifted into a dream.
They were in another place, another time, another pon farr. Spock needed him, so badly. And he was so beautiful, in need... Kirk had never seen anything like that tense body, aroused and sweating on his bed, aching for him. He vowed that this would be nothing like the first time.
For Jim, the kalifee had been a frightening ordeal that ended in a glorious surprise; brought them to each other; changed their lives forever. But Spock had seen it as the terror of a lifetime, a day when he had been centimeters from killing the man he loved, and no aftereffects could make up for that. The Vulcan's confession of love, in his quarters after finding his captain alive, had been to Kirk an affirmation of something already proven, the setting in motion of a course planned out by the events of past hours. Spock, Jim knew, had also sought to confirm the feelings he was sure he had sensed during the fight; had wanted to inform his friend of the bond that had formed then. But it had been a necessity for him, after the horror of his first pon farr had forced the realization that they lived a life where one could be torn from the other at any moment. He had begun it, Kirk remembered, by saying, "Jim, there is a thing I must tell you, for I should find it most difficult to endure losing you in the line of duty before you had the chance to hear this from me."
This time, he thought as he pulled open the heavy robe to reveal a body flushed and trembling with desire, this time they would do what they wanted to.
It was thrilling to touch that so-responsive flesh, to hear the helpless moans and gasps of his friend and lover as the fevered body bucked against his hands, his mouth, his cock. It was beautiful to feel the Vulcan gathering him into his arms, holding him desperately as if he were the most badly needed and easily lost thing in the universe. But there were no words to describe the feeling of Spock losing all control.
Slender, bruisingly strong hands caught his wrists and locked them behind his back; muscular legs shoved his thighs apart. He wrapped his own legs around the Vulcan's waist, heels digging into the pleasure spots just above the hips. Spock thrust with a harsh growl, his sex already slippery with pre-ejaculate and his natural lubricant. Savoring the stab of pain as he was entered, Kirk shoved back to take in the entire thick organ at once. Sensation overwhelmed him--the scent of Vulcan arousal, hot skin and rough hair against his erection, his hands trapped and immobile behind him, the tight pressure of being full of Spock. Exquisitely helpless, sweetly aching, he exploded almost as soon as his lover began to move. Spock cried out and followed him over the edge, fingers digging into his wrists till they left red marks in the skin.
It happened over and over. He was taken on his hands and knees, his mate pounding into him until he came just from that rough caress of iron-hard flesh and swollen ridges against his prostate. He was shoved up against the wall and entered fast and hard, fucked in rapid strokes until he splattered the bulkhead with come. He was lying on his side, in a tight embrace as his lover rubbed himself frantically against his thigh. Then he was on his back again, one hand pinning his hips, the other holding his arms together above his head. He became sore inside, but it didn't dull his arousal. Several times he lost consciousness from sheer pleasure. Sometimes he would awaken to find his pain partially eased, as if a dermal regenerator had been used to heal him somewhat; always he would awaken to find Spock inside him, thrusting and groaning. He felt the relief he was giving his bondmate, as well as his own sensations, and the double pleasure inflamed him anew.
He never wanted this to end...
Spock came slowly back to wakefulness. Jim was wrapped around him, rocking a hard erection against his leg. Warning flashes went off throughout the Vulcan's body. When he wanted this badly to grab his mate and turn him over and take him violently then and there, he knew that the demon of Vulcan biology was tightening its grip on him. Too soon, far too soon...
He moaned, and that woke Jim, who turned toward him with a smile. "I guess we're going with my idea then," he murmured, a seductive half-laugh.
"About fucking like rabbits. Instead of masturbating, or meditating, or whatever you said you were going to do."
Spock pulled away sharply.
Taking deep breaths, the Vulcan stood up and walked to the other end of the room. There, he turned swiftly around and walked back, then turned again and retraced his path, rapidly, frantically.
"Spock, you're pacing."
Spock stopped at the bed only long enough to retrieve his robe and pull it around himself, then resumed walking back and forth. His speed was increasing. "No, I am not."
"Yes you are. Spock, what's *wrong*?"
"Nothing is wrong."
"Then why are you pacing?"
"I am not pacing."
Kirk sighed heavily. "I thought we had just agreed that I was going to get you through your pon farr, instead of some meditation rite. I asked you, to make sure. You jumped up, got dressed and started... walking. You look upset. I want to know why."
"I am not upset. I have an excellent chance of succeeding in the meditation. There is no cause for worry. Therefore I am not worried."
"But why in the universe do you want to *meditate,* anyway, when you could--"
"I shall hurt you! Do you not remember? I hurt you in both my previous pon farrs. There is no reason to suspect that I would not do so this time, if given the chance!"
"Yes! Do you wish me to recount to you each one of the injuries I inflicted?"
"Spock, you did *not* do anything to me that I didn't want!"
"I understand your willingness. You have been prepared to sacrifice yourself many times before. I cannot, however, permit it when there is an alternative."
"Some alternative! Spock, I *want* to have that with you again!"
"I know you wish to help me remain alive. I assure you, however, that I can--"
"You are so obtuse! I *liked* it! It was the best sex I've had in ages! Can I be any clearer than that?"
"Your attempt to appear indestructible is meeting with little success."
"Damn you! Would I lie to you?"
"If you were of the opinion that it would be in my best interests."
"I'll show you. I'll mind meld with you. I'll open our bond."
"If we touch, even to initiate a meld, I will want to throw you down and take you here and now. If our bond opens, I will be unable to resist you. Therefore, while I still have some measure of control, I shall elude you if you attempt to touch me and shield with all my strength if you reach through the bond before I have established the first level of meditation."
Anger seethed up in Kirk, obliterating all other mental processes, all other emotion. "I thought we had agreed about this years ago! When you came back from Gol. When you held my hand in sickbay. And afterwards. You gave me all that crap about having wanted to spare me your 'violence.' I told you that leaving me hurt a whole lot more than rough sex. You promised your pon farr would never make you run away from me again. Don't *you* remember *that*?"
"Jim." Spock stopped in his tracks and met his bondmate's eyes. "I am not running away from you. I am doing what is necessary in order to avoid causing you injury. I feel the Fever approaching, much more quickly than I expected, and I am asking you to leave me here to begin the meditation." He caught his breath as the first wave of need rolled over him. "*Please,* Jim. I beg of you. Leave me here."
A harsh demand would have provoked further argument, but taken off guard by that gentle plea, Kirk only gave a quiet sigh of resignation, looking sadly into his mate's eyes. Having what he wanted would end the pon farr and satisfy him, but Spock would come out of it as shamed, as anguished, as unforgiving of his own violent claiming of Kirk's body as he had been seven years ago. Better to let him satisfy himself in a way he could live with. Jim sighed again, walked out of the bedroom and closed the door behind him, leaving his bondmate alone with the blood fever.
Hours later, lying on the couch in the next room, tense, sweating, and so hard he couldn't stand it, James Kirk listened to the sounds of labored breathing through the wall. How many hours had it been, since they had been looking forward happily to this vacation? How many hours since Spock woke up in orgasm and terrified screams? How many since Jim had awakened from a beautiful fantasy to find breakfast on the counter... since Spock had moaned his name in anguish from the meditation corner... since they had made love and he had come back to reality in Spock's arms, still aroused from the memory he had been reliving in his sleep, and thinking everything was all right?
*The worst part,* he whispered mentally to his bondmate, not knowing if Spock could hear him, *is that we were dreaming the same things.*