TOS Kirk/Chekov

Under His Wing

        One moment they were walking unchallenged down a dirty cobbled street. The next, he and Chekov were overwhelmed by armor-clad soldiers, clubbed into unconsciousness, and evidently dragged or carried some distance away, because when Kirk's senses returned it was obvious they were a long way from the beam-up point they had been approaching.

        He heard Chekov groan somewhere behind him, and then the sound of retching. The odor wasn't much worse than the smell had already been.

        "Keptin?" he heard Chekov croak.

        "Yes, I'm here. Just hold still until you feel better. We're not going anywhere in a hurry anyway."

        He sat up tentatively, found a good-sized lump on his head to go with the equally large headache, and very slowly rolled over to his knees. The pounding in his head got worse, but except for that he seemed to be pretty much undamaged.

        A faint glow illuminated bars, a stone floor and something that was probably a chamber pot, from the stench. Little scuffling noises and high-pitched chitters suggested other, less companionable, cellmates.

        "Where are we?" Chekov asked hoarsely.

        "You know about as much as I do," Kirk told him. "In some sort of dungeon, I'd say. Did you get a look at the men who attacked us?"

        "No, sair. Just an impression of armor. They looked like something out of a medieval children's story."

        "Pretty nasty children's story," Kirk started to comment, but broke off at a sound. "Looks as though we may be getting company. If you can get up, be prepared for whatever we can do."

        Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Chekov lurch to his feet, holding his head. He felt about the same way himself, and doubted they would be capable of attempting anything effective.

        The noise became footsteps, at least three or four people, Kirk judged. Swaying flickering lamplight approached in the hand of as ugly a person as Kirk had ever seen. Behind him were three men in armor, and behind them a chubby man, dressed in the garb of the wealthy class of this culture. The deformed character carrying the lantern set it down and back away with fear on his face as Kirk approached the barred door.

        "You are awake, I see," the gentleman commented. "It may interest you to know that the rest of your devil's party escaped. It is rumored that they vaporized into thin air, like the mist. You two have therefore been accused of witchcraft, but I have proven that you are simply men like ourselves and that I have nothing to fear from you."

        "And how did you determine that?" Kirk asked him, not that it made much difference, but every scrap of information they could glean might help.

        "Why, you are still here. If you'd had the devil's help, he'd have stolen you away. So you will make a valuable addition to my, ah, shall we say--work force."

        Slave labor, Kirk guessed, but probably anything was better than bars and rats. "Perhaps we can reach a compromise of some sort--" he began, but the other laughed and cut him off.

        "You are well spoken for a peasant, but I have no need of anything but your muscle. It would not do for me to be seen entertaining you--I'd be suspected of witchery myself."

        He gestured to one of the soldiers. "Remove them to the plantation before it is light. Teos can work them as he wishes. They appear to be strong and healthy. Arbus, leave them a light and come with me."

        The little man picked up the lantern and with its flame lit a faggot stuck into a niche in the wall. The two of them walked away swiftly down the stone tunnel, their footsteps echoing in the dark.

        One of the soldiers brandished a club studded with metal spikes. Another merely glowered, such a large man that he hardly seemed to need a weapon. The third turned an old-fashioned key in the barred door. "Try something," he invited them, but Kirk signaled silently to Chekov to refrain from any attempt. Heroics would only get them killed right now.

        The door swung open with the creak of unoiled metal, and the soldier motioned to Chekov to step out. He took a pair of heavy manacles from his belt and secured Chekov's wrists behind him, while the others kept a watchful eye on Kirk. They repeated the procedure with Kirk and prodded both of them down the tunnel in the other direction from where they had approached. It was a long stumbling uphill walk, through spider webs and musty spongy growths on the walls and increasingly poor footing. Near the end, the flagstones gave way to packed dirt, but the air, conversely, seemed to be freshening. Eventually they reached a wooden door secured with a heavy iron bar. One of the soldiers lifted the bar and set it aside, and with difficulty pulled the door open. Cold air rushed in, and moonlight, and its reflection on water.

        "Hyah! Here!" came a coarse whisper, and a frizzy headed boy appeared at the opening. "Bring oom oot--ee've got t'wagon."

        They shoved Kirk and Chekov through the doorway. The man who held the torch stayed inside and manhandled the door into position again. They could hear the bar dropping across it with a dull metallic thud. The other two pushed Kirk and Chekov toward a conveyance that hardly merited being called a wagon--it was not much more than a rickety platform, on wheels high as a man's shoulder. Iron rings had been fastened at intervals along its surface. The boy indicated that they should climb up, and when they failed to do it quickly enough, one of the soldiers helped them along with rough blows. In turn, their manacles with unlocked and then secured again through the rings, effectively preventing any escape. The soldiers melted away into the darkness, the boy chirruped to the animal in harness and the wagon lurched away, throwing them back and forth helplessly as it rolled along a rutted track beside the water.

        "Keptin," Chekov said, the first word either of them had spoken since being taken from the cell, "will not Mr. Spock be scanning for us?"

        "I expect he is," Kirk said reassuringly. "He won't have known we were underground though. We may have been far enough below the surface not to register on the sensors. Now that we're out in the open the ship should be able to find us pretty quickly."

        That was as much to reassure himself as anything else. There could be any number of reasons why Spock hadn't found them yet, the most likely one that the natives of this place were evidently not much different in physiology than themselves. It wouldn't be the first time it had been a difficult task to pick out human life signs from those around them. The subdermal translators they wore incorporated low-power transponders, but the ship would have to be in line-of-sight over them to pick up that signal.

        "Purra zipper on it!" the child up front hissed at them. "Tha wants Archy Bobbins dun on us?"

        "What'd he say?" Chekov whispered.

        Kirk shrugged the best he could with the wagon bouncing and lurching under them. "Not sure," he said in a low voice. "I think he's telling us to shut up. If we might attract attention that he's afraid of, we'd probably better do as he says."

        The wagon rolled on, knocking them back and forth against each other, for what seemed an interminable time. Kirk's wrists had begun to bleed from the constant scraping of the manacles; he suspected Chekov was in the same state. Evenutally, though, they reached a wider roadway and passed from the thick woods that had bordered the stream into rolling fields, hedged along both sides of the lane. It was almost sunrise and the sky had lightened enough to get some feeling for their surroundings. The fields did not appear to be cultivated, and looked too rough for pastures, but the road was relatively well maintained. They reached the top of a hill and Chekov made a low exclamation.

        "Buildings, Keptin."

        Sure enough, two long rough-built sheds lay in the little dell below them, with a larger, more imposing building some meters away. A very efficient-looking wire mesh fence surrounded the sheds, and small groups of figures were clustered in the dirt yard.

        "Home," Kirk murmured. It didn't look promising.

        The boy at the reins clucked to the shaggy draft animal and it picked up its gait down the hill. In a few moments they had stopped outside the larger building. No one paid much attention to them, but a tall well-built man approached from around the building.

        "Tha's tew new'uns," said the boy. "T'Duke cotched'em, ee did."

        "All right, Brabbie, off y'go. Yer Mam's got buns 'n' tea for you, bugger off."

        He turned to Kirk and Chekov. "I'll have you down from there in a minute. Don't think you can run. There's nowhere to go, to begin with, and a hundred men who'd be happy for the reward if they ran you down. Understand?"

        Their resigned faces seemed to be answer enough. The man fished a key out of the pocket of his jacket and removed their manacles, motioning to them to get down from the wagon.

        "Let me see your wrists," Kirk ordered. Chekov's shirt had protected him to some extent; there was considerable abrasion but little actual bleeding. "You're okay."

        He let the younger man's arms go, but Chekov saw his own wrists and began to speak. "Ke--" and then stopped at the urgent shaking of Kirk's head.

        "Just . . . Jim. No rank. And I'm okay, it's scabbing over already."

        The other man was watching them. "I'm Teos. You do what I tell you to do, life goes on. Disobey me and bad things happen. Understand?"

        All his utterances seemed to end with "Understand?" Jim thought. But he nodded. "What kind of place is this?"

        Teos gave him a sharp glance and Jim knew why. The translators provided a more literate accent than most of the laborers here would be likely to have. It made them stand out, which could be good for them, or bad.

        Teos said slowly, "You must not be from around here. You don't sound it, and you'd know this place if you were. Dassn't matter--you'll get no better treatment nor worse, so don't think your fancy talk will help you. This land belongs to Lord Orliot, the Duke of Whorlet and you'll be clearing the fields, like everyone else. Get on ower there, now."

        He prodded them in the direction of a gate in the wire fence. "Sporrie! Here's a couple new ones for you. See they get bunks and something to eat before they go out with the others."

        A man in brown trousers and a matching tunic--almost like a uniform, Kirk thought--pushed open the gate. He jerked his head at them to pass by and secured the gate again once they were inside. "Get in there and claim a bunk. Any one that doesn't have a blanket on it. You'll get blankets later."

        They went through a door in the end of the first shed. As Kirk had thought, it was a dormitory of sorts, almost like a barracks. Iron bunks, three high, stood in ranks, enough to accommodate a hundred and fifty men, he estimated. Many seemed to be unused. Only the ones nearest the brick chimney in the center of the building had bedding. He and Chekov chose the bottom and middle bunks of a stack as near to the heat as possible, conscious of the other men's eyes on them.

        The two of them were noticeably better dressed and better fed than the others, something Kirk feared would not last long. He suspected they'd be seen as soft and weak, and would probably end up having to prove themselves in a series of fights before they'd be left alone. And if one or both of them were overcome by a crowd of the men, their heavier warmer clothing would be decorating someone else's back. He hoped Mr. Spock would find them soon.

        He and Spock had a faint and tenuous link, enough that they were often aware of each other's presence before physical senses kicked in, enough to--as McCoy put it--'anticipate each other to death.' Not enough, it was evident, for Spock to find them now at orbital distances.

        Spock! He did his best to reach out, to send a mental SOS, but there was no sense at all that he had succeeded, and he stopped when he saw the circle of men closing in on Chekov.

        "Hey!" He pushed through them to Pavel's side.

        "Whassat?" one of them demanded. "Ee cawnt pertec' eeself?"

        Kirk set himself at Chekov's back and glared at the sneering faces. "Two more people to share the work," he said softly. "Take us out and all you get is our good clothing. Leave us alone and you get our muscle. What'll it be?"

        The good sense of that, and their obvious readiness to use their fists, cooled the level of aggression considerably. One man stepped back, then another, and the ring of leering faces broke up and dispersed.

        Kirk kept the mildly threatening expression in place as he glanced around, but Chekov slumped a little in relief. "Chin up," Kirk murmured. "Shouldn't be long now."

        One of the men was observing them with less hostility and more interest than the others and Kirk felt a quick stab of concern. Blind ill will was easier to deal with than intelligent malevolence.

        "Under your wing, is he?" the man said to Kirk, with a gesture of his hand at Chekov.

        Kirk hesitated, not certain what was being asked, but it couldn't hurt to let them think he would avenge anything they did to Chekov. "In a manner of speaking," he replied.

        The man said only, "Hmph," and walked away. Kirk thought that was the end of it, until he returned with Sporrie, the one who had let them through the gate.

        He'd been standing a few steps from Chekov but in the light of their speculative gaze he moved a bit closer. He wasn't sure what they were thinking but Chekov was younger than most of the others here, his face still unlined either by trouble or age, his body trim and well-made. A personal interest in him was not inconceivable, but Jim intended to make it clear they would have to go through him to get to his ensign.

        Sporrie nodded and went away without saying anything. Chekov had been watching the body language and turned to Kirk with worry on his face. "Ke--Jim, I do not think I like the way they are looking at me."

        "Don't worry. I'll be right here. Anybody wants to get cute with you, they'll have to take me on too. This sort of thing probably happens anytime someone new comes in."

        Chekov nodded but looked unconvinced. Kirk could remember a few times in his own life when he'd had to face a similar situation and his insides tightened in spite of his intention to remain calm. On Tarsus, an older boy had told him to smear his face with dirt and to keep his mouth closed to hide his healthy white teeth. He'd understood when another boy was pulled from the crowd of youngsters and taken into the barracks. The screaming had filled his nightmares for years. The Academy had been a less overt and less threatening source of similar glances, which he had defused first with his fists and then with Ruth. Once graduated, with rank and growing prestige, he'd not had to deal with it, but he remembered, and shared Chekov's tight-lipped worry.

        The men formed into a ragged queue, those at the far end picking up mugs and bowls from a wooden bench just outside the enclosure. Kirk and Chekov added themselves to the tail end of the line, their wary demeanor keeping others at a distance from them. Kirk had begun to think they might get out of this with no more than sore muscles from the physical labor when Teos strolled in. He observed them for a moment, then jerked his head at them.

        "You two," he said. "The new ones, you come with me."

        Kirk glanced at Chekov and signed to him with the hand code they all learned, Follow me, don't do anything unless I signal. They went along behind Teos, back out of the building, through the gate again, and to the larger building by the lane. Teos walked ahead of them as though he didn't need to make sure they were following, and considering the number of large, dour, well-built men in the vicinity, he probably didn't need to be concerned. Kirk scanned the area, wondering whether a break for freedom was possible and decided against it.

        Inside the building, it was warmer and well furnished with the acoutrements of administrative use. A wide staircase occupied one wall, leading to the upper stories. In the middle of the room sat a large table piled with papers, an inkpot and pens. The room was empty, though, and Teos went through to an arched opening in the back. They could smell hot food and wood smoke, overlaid with the scent of what was probably some analog to tobacco. Teos spoke to someone and then motioned to Kirk and Chekov to enter.

        The man they had seen in the dungeon sat in a comfortable-looking armchair sipping something from a cup. Beside him was a younger man, no more than an adolescent, really, with a dainty face and soft hands. The duke's other hand fondled the boy's crotch. Kirk went cold.

        "What the hell is this?" he demanded. "You perverted animal--what do you think you're doing?"

        Best to pretend he didn't know perfectly well what was happening. Buy them some time, perhaps, distract them from Chekov.

        "Shut the fuck up," Teos said tiredly to Kirk, killing any notion of being able to play innocent. "Lord Orliot, these are the men Sporrie was talking about."

        The older man stood. "Well, well," he said softly. "I did not suspect, when I saw you in the cells, what I might have acquired. I thought only to take advantage of your strong bodies."

        He waved a languid hand. "No matter. I could not indulge myself in town in any case." He flicked a glance at the youngster. "Go away, Mika," and the boy got up, with a sulky glare but no words, and went out.

        Two of them, two of us, Kirk thought, the best opportunity they'd had so far. He knew Chekov was watching him for a signal, and began to sign you take the duke, but Teos was already moving. He had a rigid arm around Chekov's neck and a knife at his chest before either of them, in their fatigued and still half-concussed state, could react.

        The nobleman hadn't moved, but now reached over and opened a cupboard by his chair, taking out several lengths of cord and a very efficient looking firing-piece. A primitive design, no doubt, Kirk thought, but he had no desire to see its effectiveness tested on either of them.

        "Bind him," Orliot said lazily to Teos, keeping the weapon centered firmly on Chekov and tossing the cord to the other man. Kirk stood tense and focused, looking for an opportunity to intervene without endangering Chekov any further.

        Teos gave him none. With the gun staring him in the face, Chekov had no choice but to hold his hands behind him while Teos tied them tightly. Kirk tried to catch the younger man's eyes, to give him some reassurance, but Chekov kept his face averted.

        When Chekov's arms were immobilized, Orliot held out the gun to Teos, who turned it on Kirk. "Don't try anything," he said. "'is Lordship doesn't like a mess on the floor. If I have to shoot you, I'll do it someplace very painful. Understand?"

        Kirk didn't answer but his grim look conveyed that he understood all too well. Teos was standing far enough from him that he couldn't grab the weapon before it was fired, and he had no doubt that the man's aim was accurate enough to do exactly as he threatened. They would just have to wait this out and hope to hell that Spock got here soon.

        Orliot stood in front of Chekov, his intentions clear.

        "Pavel," Kirk said softly, "just let your mind go somewhere else. You know how to do that. Nothing will touch you unless you allow it." They all trained and practiced for this sort of thing--any event where emotion could make you ineffective.

        The duke laughed. "How touching," he said. "But you mistake me. I have no intention of forcing myself on your lovely boy here. He looks clean, but who knows what he might harbor! But I would like to see for myself what he has to offer."

        He loosed the cord that secured the front of Chekov's breeches. Kirk seethed, but with the gun trained on him there wasn't much he could do, and Orliot's words had raised a new and unforeseen worry. He thought Chekov was Kirk's 'lovely boy'? Uh-oh. It was hard to say what might be worse, to let him go on thinking that or to reveal more of their real relationship. It occurred to him that Orliot probably wouldn't care that they were only captain and ensign. It might even make whatever he was going to do to them more delicious in his eyes. Best not to give away any more than necessary at this point, but he gritted his teeth at what Chekov must be thinking.

        The duke reached into Chekov's fly. "Spread your legs," he ordered, and when Chekov failed to comply, his hand moved suddenly and Chekov cried out. "Spread your legs," the man said again and this time Chekov did as he was told, eyes blazing. "I won't give the same order twice again," Orliot told him. "If you disobey another time, we'll stop playing this pleasant little game and Teos will take you upstairs." He cocked his head at Chekov with a malevolent grin. "You don't know yet about upstairs, do you. Explain it to him, Teos."

        "It's what you might call an incentive system," Teos said with irony. "This is dull work, out here. No little ducky birds allowed, understand? So when my men have been very good, they get to play with one of the boys. Upstairs. Dicky birds, understand?"

        He chortled at his own joke and if Kirk hadn't been certain that he had no chance of killing the man, it would have been a close call whether that particular oath was violated.

        "I see that you both do understand," the Duke observed. He drew out Chekov's cock, turning it this way and that to look it over. "Not bad, not bad." Chekov's face had paled. He looked straight ahead.

        "Over there," Orliot ordered him, and Chekov stumbled toward a wooden contraption on the other side of the fireplace. Teos kept the gun on Kirk.

        Leather bands, their purpose all too obvious, hung at ankle height on a low step. Orliot prodded Chekov up, made him spread his legs wide and fastened the cuffs. He took another strap, which had been dangling over the wooden framework, and whipped it around Chekov's neck, passing one end through the buckle on the other end. There was a padded sort of bench at about hip height and he pulled Chekov's head down, forcing him to bend over the surface. A hole in the strap fit over a stud at the bottom of the device, so that a person thus fastened would cut off his own air if he raised his head too far. With the prisoner's wrists behind his back, it was a very effective restraint.

        Kirk was hoping that Teos might get caught up enough in what the duke was doing to be distracted, but no such luck. He occupied himself with thinking about what he would like to do to both of them. Better--what Spock probably would do if he were to barge in to their rescue right now. On the other hand, poor Chekov would probably just as soon nobody barged in right now, especially Spock. For all their sakes, he had to figure out some way to get them out of this before the cavalry showed up.

        The duke reached under Chekov's belly and pulled his cock up to rest on the bench. "Your knife, Teos," he said, and Teos slipped it out of its sheath and held it out without once taking his eyes off Kirk. Orliot put his hand between Chekov's legs and began to draw the knife up the seam of his breeches. "Hold very still," he whispered. "My hand is not so steady as it once was." Chekov wore nothing underneath, as was the custom for this culture, and the ragged opening pulled apart to reveal his white buttocks. The duke, a growing bulge in the front of his own tight trousers, pressed himself against Chekov, and Kirk heard Pavel breathe in sharply.

        "Take it easy, Chekov," he said. "Nothing can touch you, remember."

        Teos snickered, and Orliot turned around in mock surprise. "But that is not true," he cried. "Something is going to touch him, if he is lucky. You will touch him. Otherwise, he goes upstairs, and when my men are finished with him, you won't want him back, believe me."

        Kirk damned himself for his short-sightedness, so caught up in what someone else might do to Chekov that he hadn't seen this possibility. He'd convinced himself that the duke meant to rape Chekov, regardless of his denial, and had simply failed to consider that he might find voyeurism equally enjoyable. Nothing he could say was going to make this any better, so he said nothing, letting his expression of profound contempt be his statement.

        It didn't faze Orliot, and he hadn't expected it to. "Come here," the man said, going around to the other side of the wooden frame. Encouraged by the gun in Teos' hands, Kirk slowly obeyed. The duke pushed him close to Chekov's head. "Get it out," he ordered, smiling nastily. "Offer it to him."

        "You unspeakable bastard!" Kirk snapped, goaded finally to speech, but it had no more effect on Orliot than his facial expression had had. The man raised a languid eyebrow toward the ceiing, a threat that Kirk could not take a chance on his carrying out.

        Chekov's eyes had snapped open in mute despair, his head raised as far as the strap around his neck would allow. "Chekov, I'm sorry," Kirk murmured. "I don't see any course but to do what he says."

        The hardest thing he had ever done was to open his breeches, reach inside and bring out his cock. Chekov looked up at him with helpless accusation on his face.

        There was a sudden commotion from outside, and Kirk gave Chekov a quick relieved smile. The cavalry had arrived, it seemed, and they could worry about damage to their dignity later, when they were safe on the ship. The front door flew open and his hopes sank. Instead of Spock, with a contingent of security officers, there was only a dirty, lanky-haired youth struggling in the grasp of one of the older men.

        "Naow! Naooow!" he howled. He caught sight of Chekov's bound figure and began an imploring plea for mercy to a succession of names that Kirk assumed were gods, or saints. The man who held him forced him across the entry to the wide staircase, and up one step at a time until Kirk could no longer see him, the boy's cries growing more frantic and incoherent as they ascended. Behind them, a line of the duke's men, perhaps eight or ten, trailed up the stairs, some of them openly fondling themselves.

        Chekov's face looked up at Kirk in dull resignation, and Kirk took his cock in his hand and pressed it against his ensign's mouth. No indignity was worth putting an officer in his charge into that hell. "I'm so very sorry," he said again softly. "Let's just get through this the best we can."

        Chekov opened his mouth and allowed the flesh inside and Kirk moved himself back and forth a little, hoping desperately that this would be sufficient, and that they could stall long enough to prevent anything further.

        "Hmph," Orliot sniffed. "If that's the best he can do, I'm surprised you bother with him. He needs some training."

        He opened the cupboard again and took out a strap that was hanging on a hook, doubling it over and drawing it through his hand. Before Kirk could move or speak, he raised the strap and brought it down on Chekov's ass with a vicious crack. Kirk jerked himself away just in time as Chekov's head snapped up and his teeth slammed together on his attempt not to scream. He managed to hold back all but a fractured groan, as his head slumped down again.

        Kirk knelt swiftly and took Chekov's face in his hands. "Listen," he said urgently. "I don't want him to beat you and I don't want him to turn you over to those animals upstairs. I don't know any other way to prevent that but to do what he says to do." He took a chance and leaned closer to whisper in Chekov's ear. "Pavel, this isn't what we went to the Academy for. Let's just get ourselves out of here in one piece, whatever we have to do. We can deal with our feelings about it when we're safe on the ship."

        He saw Chekov's blink of surprise at the use of his first name, and then a small nod. Chekov looked up at him, angry still, but perhaps the anger was not at him anymore. There were tears at the corners of his eyes from the pain, and Kirk touched one gently. "I don't want him to hit you again," he repeated, trying to communicate that Chekov was going to have to perform more realistically without actually saying the words. Chekov's eyes closed and he nodded again, letting out a long shaky breath.

        "If you've finished whispering sweet nothings down there, it's time to get on with it."

        Kirk stood to see Teos and the duke both smirking at them. Teos hefted the gun at Chekov's midsection, and, as if to underscore their helpless position, there was a thud and a shriek from above, followed by peals of coarse laughter. Chekov raised his head again and said, "I will do . . . what we must."

        "Good work," Kirk murmured, the same praise he would have given for more official tasks, and brought his cock to Chekov's mouth again. This time Pavel drew it inside with his lips and tongue and began to suck it and to sweep over it with his tongue. In any other circumstance, and with another person, it would have been intensely erotic. He'd heard that men could be stimulated to an erection against their will, but that didn't appear to be true for him--all he felt was a profound sadness that anyone should force this on them.

        The duke came closer. "Better," he said, clearly aroused. His hand rubbed himself through the fabric of his trousers. Kirk gave him a look of utter loathing disgust, but he might as well have saved his energy.

        "Let me see," the man said hoarsely, and pushed at Kirk's groin. His cock slid out of Chekov's mouth, still flaccid and unaroused. Orliot threw his head back and guffawed. "No wonder he didn't want to suck you! What a dead fish you are! An old woman! Perhaps you're the one who needs training!"

        He reached for the strap that he had dropped on his armchair, and Chekov said clearly, "Leave him alone. I can make him hard."

        "Oho! The little cub defends M'ma, does it? Let's see you do it then."

        Chekov looked up into his eyes, his message clear, and Kirk took a deep breath and faced facts. Time to take his own advice. "All right," he said, a little shaky himself. "All right."

        He stroked himself quickly, letting his mind float away from there to a better place, to a loving face and a voice husky with desire and joy. It wasn't real and it wasn't good, but it was enough. He felt himself swelling and quickly pressed back into Chekov's open mouth. If he and Chekov between them could coax a climax from him, they would be free to return to the other workers, hopefully to open fields where a transporter could easily lock onto them. He made himself believe it.

        Pavel licked the head of his cock, returning again and again to the sensitive place underneath, pressing gently into the slit with the tip of his tongue, and then sucked him back far into his throat, the pressure and heat making Kirk gasp with unexpected arousal. To help things along, he stroked his balls with one hand and squeezed a nipple with the other, beyond embarrassment now, just wanting it to be over. He felt Panel swallow, felt the intense pressure around his cock, felt the rush of sensation that always preceded an orgasm--and Orliot knocked him away, jerking Pavel's head back by his hair so far that he choked and gagged from the strap around his neck.

        "God damn you to everlasting hell!" Kirk burst out. "Let him go--he can't breathe!"

        He was enraged enough to risk taking them both on, if Teos had not stepped back out of reach, infuriatingly calm and with the weapon still pointed straight at Chekov.

        "Naughty, naughty," Orliot tittered. He had opened his own trousers and his cock stood out red and obscene. "It's time to prove your manhood. Sucking is boy's sport. Let's see if you're a real man." He let Chekov's head fall back and rubbed his hand over the red weal he had left on Chekov's ass. "Or do I have to give you some additional encouragement?"

        Kirk bent and loosened the strap around Pavel's neck. "Do you understand what he's telling me to do?" he asked painfully. Chekov wouldn't meet his eyes but he nodded. After a moment he said, "Whatever we have to do. Deal with it later," and Kirk brushed his cheek with a finger because he didn't trust his voice.

        He moved around behind his ensign, spat on his hand and with shaking fingers moistened the hole and the fragile skin around it. He could hear Chekov taking deep breaths, trying to calm himself and loosen his muscles. Forced down with his cock trapped beneath his belly, he must have been horribly uncomfortable, and Kirk abandoned the idea of trying to make it in any way enjoyable for him. Just get it for god's sake over with.

        He suspected he wouldn't be allowed gradual penetration with one or two fingers before actual coitus, so he just concentrated on getting himself as slick as possible to ease his entry. His erection had mostly disappeared, between his anger and the violence to Chekov. It took smoothing the saliva over himself, and some concentrated mental attention, to bring his cock back to any kind of condition for what he had to do. When he thought he had stalled as long as he was going to be allowed, he began as gently and slowly as he could manage to push into Chekov, holding him by the hips. The only warning he had of what was coming was the fraction of a second of moving air, and the whistle of flying leather, before the impact on his ass drove him into Chekov.

        He wasn't as successful as Chekov had been at holding back his response to the pain. There was no sensation of it being localized on his ass; it was as though every nerve ending on his body was traumatized at once. If he hadn't been holding on to Chekov when the blow landed he wouldn't still be on his feet, and it had been touch and go even so. He screamed, and almost at the same time heard Chekov's agonized moan.

        But the pain did one thing for him. Up to that point he had been furious, indignant, disgusted, appalled--a lot of emotions whose expression was as often superficial as heartfelt. What he felt now was the coldest rage he had ever experienced, and when he looked back over his shoulder at the other two he knew it must have shown on his face, because the duke actually stepped back a pace and Teos came to full attention with the gun.

        "I'm not. Turned on. By pain."

        "Yes, yes--"

        Good god, he thought, the man actually sounded nervous. The balance of power had shifted somehow, even with them still essentially helpless, and with the change went any possibility that he could feel remorse over what eventually happened to the duke and Teos.

        He bent close over Chekov's back and whispered in his ear, "Just us, Pasha. Tune them out. I'm going to make this good for you, and then I'm going to kill them." The sudden indrawn breath told him that Chekov had understood.

        Despite the centuries of analysis that related human sexual activity with violence, he'd never made that connection in his own mind before. He didn't want to now, but it was making him hard again, and that was what they needed. He shut off the part of his mind that told him he was no better than the others, and concentrated on what he was going to do to them when he had the chance, and what he could do now to give Chekov any kind of pleasure at all.

        He spat in his hand and pulled out enough to lubricate himself again, and this time when he pressed in it was easier. He slid his hands around to the tops of Chekov's thighs and squeezed there, letting his fingers curl around inside Pavel's legs, and closed his eyes and did what he'd told Pavel to do--tuned out the others, made this moment for just the two of them.

        Chekov wasn't giving them the gratification of vocalizing his response, but Kirk could hear his quickened breathing and knew when it began to feel good, because Pavel started to move himself, thrusting forward and back a little with his cock between his belly and the padded bench. Kirk matched his rhythm and stroked him with as much love as the circumstances allowed, because this was a situation that no young ensign should ever have to face. He couldn't give Chekov a commendation when they got out of this, but he'd give him something else to remember for the fine courage he'd shown.

        He rocked back and forth, faster now, taking over the rhythm, feeling Chekov's ass tighten around him, and hearing dimly in the background the duke's obscene grunting. He risked another glance over his shoulder. The duke lay back in the armchair, pumping furiously at himself, his eyes squeezed shut. Teos watched him in disgust, the gun held loosely with its muzzle pointing at the floor. Kirk held himself back, but quickened his movements, and Chekov began to moan very softly. Quiet! Kirk pleaded with him silently.

        There was a piece of statuary on the mantle, barely within reach. Chekov was so close, this had to be timed perfectly . . . he felt the sudden allover tremor in the body beneath him, heard the duke's bleating cries, pressed in to Chekov as far as he could go and in the same instant had his hand on the heavy marble--and whirled and threw it with all his strength at Teos' head. The gun came up, but the statue connected first, and Teos went down in a heap. Kirk thanked whatever gods were looking after them right now that the gun hadn't gone off and attracted attention. He was across the room, and had the weapon in one hand and Teos' knife in the other before the duke ever knew what was happening. A quick careful slash took care of the cords binding Chekov's wrists, and he left Pavel to get himself out of the rest of it on his own while he took care of the other two.

        Teos wasn't showing any sign of coming back to consciousness, so although Kirk would ordinarily have immobilized him first, as the more dangerous of the two, he left him for the moment and rummaged in the duke's little cupboard. Another handful of cords hung from a hook and he took those out, watching the near hysteria on Orliot's face with a great deal of satisfaction. Behind him, Pavel had gotten his head and one ankle free and was working on the other leather cuff.

        "Up," Kirk told the duke, gesturing with the gun, and the man slowly obeyed him. "Over there," he said, motioning to the wooden bench.

        Orliot's eyes widened in terror and he began to whimper. "Oh, please, no, don't do that." Kirk took one step closer to him and put his hand through the man's open fly.

        Orliot let out a thin scream and stumbled toward the bench. Chekov tied him down with grim enthusiasm, pulling his pudgy wrists back farther than they could ever have gone on their own, while Kirk went to investigate the still body in the corner.

        A body it turned out to be. He hadn't been trying to kill Teos, only to disable him long enough to get the upper hand, but there was a large depressed area on the side of his skull, a trickle of blood from his nose, and no pulse. Kirk left him where he had fallen.

        Chekov had the duke fastened to the bench. "What now, sair?" he asked, all Starfleet officer again, and Kirk gave him a quick approving smile--a difficult smile, after what they'd endured, but he saw it matched on Chekov's face.

        He handed Chekov the knife and waited to see what he would do with it.

        Chekov paled. Orliot's had turned his face as far as it would go to the side, trying to see their movements. When he saw the knife in Chekov's hand he began to blubber incoherently. Chekov went to him and said in a deadly voice, "Shut your svolochi mouth or it will never speak another word again."

        "Hurry," Kirk told him. "Someone could come down those stairs any minute."

        Orliot's face blanched as Chekov raised the knife, and then his eyes rolled back into his head. Chekov grasped his trousers by the waist band and slashed the rear open, not making much effort to spare the skin underneath. He stepped back a pace to admire his handiwork, and then with a grim glance at Kirk, shoved the knife, hilt first, into the duke's rectum. Kirk would have taken the knife with them, but he couldn't fault Chekov's fine sense of justice, and he left it there and snatched up the gun.

        "Come on," he said breathlessly. "We've got to turn the other men loose and then get the fuck out of here."

        They ran out of the house and across the garden to the fence. Sporrie still stood at his post, his eyes round and wide as he saw who was aiming the gun at him.

        "Open," Kirk told him, and Sporrie complied with shaking hands. "I'd make myself scarce if I were you," Kirk said. "I don't think they probably like you much in there."

        Sporrie looked over his shoulder, his face pale, and then took off at a dead run. The commotion had attracted attention; several groups of men came out of the shed and Kirk tossed the gun to the largest and toughest-looking of them.

        "If you check the house," he told them, "you'll find the duke tied up. Most of his men are upstairs--they probably won't give you any trouble if you catch them by surprise."

        The greater number of the men just stared at him in stupefied surprise, but the one who had drawn Sporrie's attention to them grabbed the gun and took off toward the house. "Come on," he yelled. "With me!" The others streamed behind him, a ragtag army bent on revenge.

        "Let's go," Kirk said shortly to Chekov, and they went through the open gate, around the side of the fence, and up the rough hillside behind. It would have been a difficult climb even under better circumstances. After what they'd been through, they were huffing and gasping after only a few minutes, but fear and determination drove them on anyway. A rocky outcropping near the top would provide some cover for them, Kirk thought, thought he hoped that if anyone did start looking for them, it would be assumed that they had taken an easier escape up the lane.

        They made it to the rocks, and there was time enough only for Kirk to say, "For god's sake, take your shirt off and tie it around your waist," and for Chekov to comply, before the transporter took them. He didn't know why he was so sure they were about to be rescued, but the knowledge had been as certain as if he'd heard Spock's voice saying "Energize." He'd hoped there would be an opportunity for them to talk before they were back on the ship, but he'd trade safety for man-to-man discussions any day. Plenty of time for that later.

        McCoy was all over them, almost before they had finished materializing. "Go with him," Kirk told Chekov, his command voice. "Make sure you're okay."

        "You too," McCoy protested, but let him leave with Spock when he said, "Check him over first, I'll be down later. You'll get your turn with me."

        He'd meant to go to the bridge, an automatic reflex when he was under stress, but Spock stopped the lift. "Jim, leave me in command until you've seen Doctor McCoy."

        It was so seldom that Spock questioned his actions that he hardly knew how to respond. "I'm all right."

        "You are very manifestly not all right. Please."

        How could he argue with that? He slumped back against the wall of the lift. "I'm not injured, Spock, really."

        "Your pain is obvious."

        Kirk closed his eyes, not wanting to be reminded, and felt Spock's strong hands grip his shoulders, giving him the steadying strength he always offered so generously.

        "Okay. Let me off on three then. I'll rest for a while and then go talk to Bones. See you later?"

        Spock said, "Of course," and he opened his eyes again to see the solemn face with its deep concern and compassion, always there when Jim needed him.

        "Thanks," he murmured, and Spock set the lift moving again. They stood close together for the few remaining seconds that it took to reach Deck 3, and parted with a reassuring smile on Kirk's part and a still worried expression from Spock.

        He really meant to talk to McCoy, as he'd promised, but after a shower and a drink he was too restless to sit down for long and to nervy yet to unburden himself. Time for that talk with Chekov, if he was available. He wasn't in his cabin, Kirk found. If he had been any one of several others, Kirk would have tried the Observation Deck, but he didn't often see Chekov there. A few discreet inquiries suggested a preference for the small garden in Botany.

        He found Chekov sitting on one of the old-fashioned park benches that some interior designer had thought appropriate for a starship, picking petals from a lilac zinnia, a cloud of shredded mauve at his feet. His head was down; he didn't notice his captain's presence until Kirk sat down next to him.

        "'He loves me, he loves me not?'" Kirk said lightly, gesturing at the scattered flower remnants.

        Chekov gave him a pained grimace, and then a look of startled surprise. "How did you know that?" he asked.

        "You were--comfortable, with the things men do with each other," Kirk said, knowing what he was giving away about himself. "You didn't like what was happening any better than I did but you weren't terrified of it either."

        Chekov just nodded slightly.

        "Pavel, I'm sorry--sorry that I wasn't able to protect you."

        Chekov's mouth tightened and he didn't say anything for a moment. "Possibly I have learned something. A commander cannot always protect his people."

        Kirk watched his face out of the corner of his eye--shuttered, angry, but still full of the optimism of youth. Chekov would come out of this and go on, wiser and more mature.

        "If you ever stop learning that," he said, "you'd better turn in your stripes. The day you don't care any more is the day you're no longer fit to command."

        Chekov nodded and they sat in silence for a bit.

        "Are you close to someone on the ship?" Kirk asked him.

        After a moment's hesitation, Chekov said, "Yes."

        "Have you talked to him yet? About what happened?"

        He got a black sideways glance for that, which he assumed meant 'no.'

        "It's none of my business, and you don't have to answer this, but would you mind if I asked who it is?"

        Chekov inhaled, pondered, finally said, "It is Lt. Sulu."

        Kirk nodded. He'd been aware of a certain amount of protectiveness recently on Sulu's part, and had noticed that whenever one of them popped up the other was likely to be close by. "He has a lot of strength, Pavel. And a lot of common sense. Tell him what happened."

        "You don't mind?"

        "No." After a moment he said, "What did Doctor McCoy say?"

        "Hmph. He pointed his scanner at me and made faces. Then he wanted me to talk about what happened. I told him--later. Maybe I would talk later."

        Jim had to chuckle--it sounded just like McCoy. "I've managed to escape him so far but I'll eventually get probed and prodded too. How do you feel about my talking to him? It'll be hard for me to do that without mentioning you."

        "Do you want to tell him what happened?"

        "No, but I probably should. He has a responsibility to everyone to be sure that I'm fit to command. It isn't fair for me to withhold something that might affect me."

        The silence acquired a sudden tension that hadn't been there before. Kirk didn't understand where it was coming from and so he just waited.

        "You were--affected, then?"

        "Of course I was," he said, surprised. "What do you mean?"

        Chekov flushed. "You didn't--" He took a deep breath. "It is not important."

        "Obviously it is. What are you talking about?"

        Chekov said with difficulty, "When they made you . . . do it. You did not . . . "

        His mouth shut tight and Kirk suspected that was all he was going to be able to say. It wasn't too difficult, though, to figure out what was going on in his head.

        "I didn't come," he said matter-of-factly.

        Chekov turned an even darker red. "You are not angry that I . . . did?"

        "Hell, no. I meant you to."

        Chekov gave him an incredulous look. "Why?"

        He'd been wondering that himself, why it had been so important to him. Here on the ship with both of them safe, the rage that had overtaken him in Orliot's little room of horrors seemed . . . excessive. He tried to recreate it and found that he couldn't, and he didn't know whether his inability was the natural tendency of strong emotion to fade over time, or his own unwillingness to remember what had happened. McCoy could sort that out later, he thought--he owed Chekov an answer now.

        "I don't know whether I can explain it very well." He rested his elbows on his knees, not looking at Chekov. "What they made us do--that should be an expression of the highest feelings any two people could have for each other, Something you give out of caring and respect, at least, if not . . . love. And they took those actions and made something slimy and filthy and repulsive out of them. I called them animals but even animals don't treat each other like that."

        The anger was coming back. "I didn't want you to remember just the fear and helplessness. The only other thing I was feeling was such loathing for them that I wanted to break their necks with my bare hands. I didn't want that to be what you remembered either. And I had to make it look real, to get Orliot so distracted that he would stop being careful. The only way I could see to accomplish all of those things was to just--make it real."

        There was another long inpenetrable silence. He was beginning to worry that he should have done a better job of explaining when Chekov said, "Perhaps I have learned something else today, that even though a commander can not always protect his people, he must always let them see that he has tried."

        "Yeah." There was something else he needed to say. "If it had gone on much longer . . . " Now it was he who was feeling awkward with the words. "It was just the timing, the way it worked out . . . "

        He didn't know why he was unable to articulate this, when he had in fact anticipated Chekov's question. The barriers between a captain and an ensign, and between a commanding officer and a subordinate, were back in place, as they had to be for them to go on together, and the words he needed to use had no place in that relationship.

        But Chekov nodded, so perhaps he understood after all.

        Kirk stood, stretching. It was still the middle of the day where they had been on the planet, but late ship's night here now, and he was exhausted. "I don't know about you, but I think a good night's sleep would help me more than anything else."

        Chekov stood, and Kirk held out his hand to him. "If I could give you a commendation for what happened today, I would. We both know why I can't file anything official, but I want to tell you that you showed courage in a difficult situation and behaved in an exemplary manner for a Starfleet officer. I'm honored to have you under my command."

        That got him a ramrod straight officer at attention, and a firm handshake. "I will remember what I learned today, Keptin."

        "Good. And if you need to talk to anyone besides Sulu, you'll find Dr. McCoy to be understanding and helpful."

        He meant that to be the end of the conversation, but as he was turning away, Chekov said, "And you, sair?"

        He supposed that was a fair question, after what they'd been through together. "I--yeah." He didn't specify which topic that was an affirmation for, of all they had covered, but again Chekov seemed to understand what he meant.

        "That's good."

        He touched Chekov briefly on the shoulder--"See you tomorrow then"--and made his own escape.

        He didn't bother to bring up the lights in his cabin, just undressed by the glow of the small lumen panel behind his desk, and lay down on the bunk. He was exhausted, as he'd told Chekov, but his mind was still in hyperdrive, going over and over the events on the planet.

        "Jim." His lover's warm arms came around him. "Do you want to tell me what happened?"

        "Yeah, but not yet. In the morning, maybe."

        "Tell me now. Waiting won't make it easier."

        He'd given Chekov the same advice. He could hardly refuse to take it himself. So he started at the beginning, when the last few minutes of a routine mission had turned into an ambush, and recounted everything, all the way to his conversation with Chekov in the garden.

        "You handled a difficult situation with skill and compassion."

        "Why do I feel like I'm no better than they were then?" burst out of him.

        "Perhaps because in the depths of the soul, none of us is better than that. You cannot judge yourself on those grounds, only on how you act. You know your innermost personality better than most. Was it the wolf who saved you and Chekov today, or the lamb?"

        Kirk sighed. "Some of both, I suppose."

        "Yes." They lay together in comfortable silence for a while and then he said, "May I give you what you gave Chekov? Replace those memories with something better?"

        Kirk turned to him in gratitude. "Please," and in the long darkness before morning, found his own peace and safety in the arms of the one who loved him best.


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