Captain Dunsel


Title: Captain Dunsel
Author: Liz Ellington
Pairing: Kirk/Daystron


"Captain Dunsel! Captain Dunsel!"

The Deltan healer had called it "Recursive Stress Syndrome," the illogical repeated battering of oneself with incidents from the past. McCoy used to call it 'picking a scab to see if it would bleed,' but no, he would not think of McCoy, or of Spock, or of the ship he had lost, or of the others whose lifework had been made irrelevant in a moment. Not even of Bob Wesley, whose cruel taunt had been only human jealousy for a commander much younger and more decorated than himself, and who, after all, had lost just as much. He hadn't seemed to realize, when he made that thoughtless stab, that his own center seat would be redundant very soon as well. Now his ship flew with only a skeleton maintenance crew, like Enterprise.

The irony was that the M5 computer had not at all stopped people from dying in space, only from dying in peaceful pursuits. The Constellation class research and exploration vessels had all been fitted with multitronic masters, but the battlecruisers, the frigates, the corvettes, even the lightly armed little scouts, all still rested their faith in fleshly commanders and crew, and under the right conditions, still abandoned their crews to the lonely cold of space. The M5 had proven too inflexible for ships of the line facing Klingons and Orions and other life forms who didn't play fair.

Jim would have preferred command of anything with firepower over the life he had now, but there had been too many captains for the available slots, and by the time enough of them had retired to make way for younger men, he'd been dirtside for a year and was passed over. In one kind of mood, he tried to tell himself that it was his own fault, for having been so stiff-necked about the damn computer. In another, he railed at the unfairness of a universe which gave you the most beautiful ship in the galaxy, full of intelligent, happy people to help you run it, and then capriciously took it away. In other moods, he found occupations which at least deadened the pain for a while.

He was in one of those moods now, and was not, by a long way, anywhere near being deadened. He popped the cap off another simblok and injected the contents into his forearm. The room shifted focus, and the voices in the background became more clear.

A Starship also runs on loyalty to one man, and nothing can replace it . . . or him. Spock's deep voice reassured him. Even Wesley's taunt couldn't take that away. And when the computer began thinking for itself, and shooting at everything in sight, he replayed again in his mind what he would have done to stop it. He would have talked it into shutting itself down. By god, that was such a brilliant idea! Dick had impressed his own damn guilt-laden personality on the fucking thing, and he would have used that to make it turn itself off. He chortled at his own sheer genius. Thinking about how he would have outwitted it gave him such a high that he couldn't sit still. He twirled gleefully in his command chair末and found himself on his ass on the floor, the spindly kitchen stool overturned beside him.

"For heaven's sake, what is that racket?"

Dick's gray head poked out of his study door.

"Jim."

His voice held no condemnation, no censure. Only pity.

"You're blokking again, aren't you. Jim, you won't be able to go to work tomorrow if you keep this up. Come here and let me give you an antidote."

"I don't want an antidote! I want my ship! I want my life! I WANT末" The enormity of what he had lost poured out into one long inarticulate shriek, and he collapsed sobbing on the floor. The prick on his shoulder told him Dick had administered the antidote, and in two seconds his mind had come back to the present, even if his brain was still disconnected from the rest of him. He staggered as Dick helped him up, falling all over the taller man's chest. Dick held him more tightly and urged him gently toward their bedroom.

"Come on, you'll be all right now. I'll stay with you a while, would you like that?"

The deep deep voice with its resonant lilting accent could always calm him down. He understood why the M5 had responded to it末the voice of its creator, after all. When Dick realized why it had seized control, he had lovingly explained to the computer that it must let the humans run the ship again, like a father remonstrating with an errant child. And just as he had predicted, M5 worked flawlessly from that point on with only the occasional minor glitch. Dick's career soared into a second round of adulation and awards, while his own came increasingly unstuck, culminating with the day Dick found him disheveled and drunk in a bar frequented by former Starfleet officers, reduced to begging for booze because the drinks robot wouldn't extend him any more credit.

He owed his life to Dick, who took him home, cleaned him up, found him a job and made a man of him again. Yep, he owed his life to Dick.

Dick helped him out of his clothes and settled him into their bed. He sat on the edge stroking Jim's hair. "Just go to sleep now and you'll feel better in the morning."

"Stay with me."

It was a familiar ritural. He couldn't have his ship but he'd at least have the man who took his ship from him. It had been an act of pity the first time, he was sure, but he was nothing if not manipulative, and he'd learned how to use the man's angst-ridden psyche to get the only thing that made life worth living any more.

"I must finish this article末"

Dick always objected first, and Jim always had some answer for him. "My back hurts末it would really help me relax and sleep better." He lowered his lashes and pouted his lips just the teeniest bit, and sure enough, one more time that got him a smile and a nod of assent.

Dick stood and began to disrobe. The older man's body was still firm, though the muscle suggested a strength he didn't have. Raised in lower gravity than earth-humans, he was stringy where Jim was solid and compact. The head difference in their height had always been a factor, raising hackles in Jim from the start, no matter how illogical he knew that to be.

Dick was unaroused, though that made no particular difference to Jim. Only once or twice had he gotten a response in that department. All Dick's energy went into his research. And we used to think Spock was a walking computer! He chopped off that thought the instant it came into being. No Spock any more, with the light in his eyes just for Jim. Back on Vulcan somewhere, lost to Starfleet and to Jim. Just that one final moment between the two of them before everything had fallen apart. No one can replace it . . . or him.

Well, they'd replaced him, all right. You were wrong, Spock! You weren't supposed to be wrong!

"Make me hard."

Dick bent obediently and began to suck him. He'd tried pretending it was Spock, at the beginning, but that had never worked. They had been so attuned. Even now, he thought he could feel Spock's existence, far far away and as unhappy as his own. To have brought him into this act with nothing more than physical touches would have been obscene. We would have bonded, he thought. We could never have made love with just our bodies.

He was adequately erect, whether from Dick's mouth or the fleeting thoughts of Spock didn't matter.

"Turn over."

Seeing Dick's face when he fucked him was a constant reminder of what he had lost. The back, bowed and submissive, could be tolerated.

He took the lubricant out of the bedside drawer and spread it on himself. That was usually enough. Dick had learned to relax himself so well that there was no resistance to penetration any more. Jim wondered sometimes what he was thinking during the act, whether he made his mind go blank or if it was busily engaged with new ways to make men the servants of their machines. Didn't matter, nothing mattered any more, only the fleeting moments when the body could take over and give him the mindless pleasure of blokking, or of sex.

He pressed in all the way to the root of his cock, kneeling on the backs of Dick's calves, knowing that probably hurt him and not caring. He had fantasized about taking Spock, curving himself over the Vulcan's back to whisper love words in a fantastic sculptured ear. He'd even had thoughts of McCoy, guessing from a look or two that Leonard would have been amenable to more than just friendship. Hell, if their lives hadn't been ripped from them, they might all three have gotten together. Regardless of the constant sniping, he knew Spock and McCoy had a deep respect for each other's knowledge and competence. Group marriages were uncommon in the relatively conservative environment of Starfleet, but not unknown. He thought of Len's blue eyes smiling at him while his skilled hands touched all the right places and Spock fucked him from behind and their minds all ran together like liquid silver, like the hot brilliance of the heavens, with Enterprise leaving a starry plume in its wake as it cleaved the ocean of space.

He drew out the fantasy, unwilling to come back to the real world, until the sensation spun out of control and he burst sobbing into the indifferent body beneath him, and then quickly into exhausted sleep.

Wakefulness came all at once, unlike his usual bleary mornings. He felt energized. His lover lay snoring softly next to him, and the smell of coffee hung strong in the air. In that instant between sleep and full alertness, it all came back to him末losing the ship, professional life terminated in mid-career, depression and loss and the feeling that he'd never accomplish what he'd set out as a young man to do.

"Damn!" he said. "That was one hell of a nightmare."

Bones stirred lazily. "Mmm?"

"I dreamed that Richard Daystrom found me drunk and out of a job in a bar somewhere after the M5 took over the Enterprise, and he took me home with him and we ended up sleeping together."

Bones eyed him with concern. "What did you have to eat last night when I wasn't looking? That's obscene!"

"No shit."

He rolled over into the empty spot on the other side of the bed, and stood, stretching luxuriously. Spock was up before them, as usual, and had fixed the good coffee, by the smell of it, that lovely dark stuff they'd picked up on the last visit to Argelius.

He wandered out into Spock's office area, kissed the back of his other bondmate's neck, and headed for the coffee decanter on the credenza. "Good morning, lover. What's on the agenda today? Anything interesting?"

"I am scheduled to teach a class in a few minutes, but we can meet for lunch, if you would like to do that."

"Sounds good to me. Len's going to be busy all day with his new personnel, so we'll have to eat by ourselves this time."

Spock nodded. Their busy schedules made it difficult sometimes to spend much time together.

Bones came into the study, pulling on his tunic. "What are your plans today, Jim?"

"I'll be working with the software people this morning末we're ironing out the kinks in the intuition algorithms for the M7. Nogura thinks we may be able to start outfitting the smaller warships soon and get those crews back home. After lunch, I'm supposed to spend some time with Richard analyzing the results from Operation Sunfall. We're pretty sure we know where the M7 went wrong on the second engagement."

He smiled at his two lovers as he poured coffee for himself and Bones, glancing out the window at the clear morning sky behind their California home.

"Nothing special," he said. "Just another day."

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Since August 27, 2000
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