1. In this story, James Kirk reveals that he is a sadist. If you do not want to think of Kirk in this way, then you probably should not read this story. But it's not as bad as it sounds, because Spock makes it all logical. :-)
2. This story features a gay relationship between Kirk and Spock. If this idea displeases you, this is not the story for you.
3. This story is at least as much about the emotional context as it is about the action, so there's a LOT of dialogue. If you want a story that's mostly action, this is not the story for you.
4. This is the Kirk and Spock of the original series, four years into their five-year mission. (The Kirk and Spock of the "reboot" movies have a somewhat different relationship, and this story would be different than it is if it were about them.)
5. This is the first chapter of a multi-chapter work, so yes, the, er, action is coming.
6. Most people have probably heard of whipping boys, but for those who haven't, here's an explanation of the term. Back in medieval days, it was thought that only the king had the right to punish a prince. Since the king was often away from home for months at a time and was frequently busy even when he was at home, this was a potentially problematic situation. The solution was to punish someone else in place of the prince. Since this would be a poor control on the prince's behavior unless he were very fond of the person being punished, the prince and his whipping boy were usually raised together. And since protecting the prince (from assassination, kidnapping, or bad influences) required that he have little contact with other children, the prince's whipping boy was usually his closest friend, a brother in all but blood. Having a beloved brother whipped for the prince's behavior did usually turn out to be an effective curb on royal unruliness, and some princes formed lifelong friendships with their whipping boys.
7. I'm temporarily borrowing the Star Trek characters for my own pleasure (and hopefully that of my readers as well); I'm not even pretending to own them.
Spock didn't like it when Jim made too big of a fuss over his birthday, so in the three years that they'd been friends, plus the additional year that they'd been lovers, Kirk had kept the celebration low-key. He made Spock a small, symbolic present, bought him some fresh — not synthesized — fruit, and called it a day.
For this year's birthday gift, he'd made Spock a coupon good for "Anything You Want," which he hoped Spock would use for some interesting sexual favor. Did Vulcans have sexual fantasies, or did they consider them illogical? Or maybe Spock would use the coupon to drag Jim to the kind of museum that he attended only reluctantly. But in any case, it was likely to be more meaningful than anything tangible he could have given Spock, plus Spock still deferred to him too much, even when they were off duty; he wanted to encourage Spock to assert himself more.
Kirk and Spock met in their quarters after their shift was done. Since Spock himself made the duty rosters, he never had his birthday off, though he did sometimes permit himself to spend the day in the lab instead of on the bridge. He seemed to enjoy dinner with his lover, especially the fresh strawberries that Jim had managed to smuggle onto the ship when they'd visited a friendly planet two days before. After dinner, Spock dutifully opened the gaily wrapped gift that Jim handed him, seeming to try harder this year to clamp down on the humoring-the-silly-human attitude as he opened it, perhaps in response to Jim's complaints from the previous year.
Spock looked at the coupon, then at Jim. "This is a human custom with which I am unfamiliar," he said.
"That's because it's not a general human custom," Kirk said. "I want to do something you want, something that I might normally be hesitant about doing, something that's just for you. I think you take my wishes into account a bit too much; you focus too much on pleasing and supporting me even when we're not on duty. For this gift, you're supposed to pick something you want, regardless of how I feel about it. You can drag me to that History of Computing Museum that I never want to go to, or ask me to do something in bed that you think you'll like more than I will, or really, anything, Spock. That's why it says 'Anything' on the certificate."
"Pleasing and supporting you affords me more satisfaction than most other activities," Spock used a teasing tone, but Kirk knew that he meant it. "I assure you that I am entirely selfish when I endeavor to make you happy."
Jim gave Spock his best grin. "Well, then, you can make me happy by being self-focused for once." Jim had been dealing with his Vulcan for awhile now and knew how to phrase things so as to get Spock's compliance. Usually.
"Very well. But do not blame me if I choose something you would rather I had not."
"That's half the point, Spock; that's why it's a present and not just an ordinary request. Pick anything you want, and hold me to it even if I whine."
Spock spent no time thinking, but spoke immediately, suggesting that what he had to say had been on his mind for awhile. "When we meld, several areas of your mind are closed to me. Most of those areas are in locations that suggest one of two things: confidential information from Starfleet, which only the captain may see, or confidences imparted by friends, which should be kept even from one's partner."
"Yes, of course," Kirk said. "We had to prove to Starfleet that I could keep information from you if they sent me something for the captain's eyes only."
"But there is one sealed location that is in the midst of the 'Spock' area of your mind. Everything else in that area is a thought, memory, or feeling about me, which leads me to believe that the sealed area is as well. And Jim..." Dark eyes bored into hazel ones. "Jim, the shield over that area tastes not of needful privacy, as the other shields do, but of shame and fear. I would have no unnecessary secrets between us, nor would I have you feel shame for any reason. I would see what is behind that shield."
Kirk was shocked. He knew Spock's delicacy in all matters pertaining to telepathy, knew that his lover was scrupulous about going only where invited; Kirk had even twitted him gently about his asking permission for everydamnedthing. He had never imagined that Spock would even mention the shielded area of his mind, much less demand to see it as a birthday gift. "But I practically ordered him to ask for anything he wanted. And how many people over the years have found it a big mistake to underestimate Mr. Spock?" he thought to himself.
Kirk gave Spock his best distracting smile and said, "That shielded area isn't anything negative about you. I'm not pretending to be happy with you while hiding some kind of dissatisfaction; what's behind that shield is something negative about me. And you don't need to see it."
Dark eyes appraised him coolly. "The surface of the shielded area is in the 'Spock' location in your mind, which was why I felt justified in asking for it, but the area has very deep roots, ones that reach into the bedrock of your psyche. An offshoot from that root also connects to the 'captaincy' area of your mind. Anything that deep that connects those two areas IS my concern."
"Spock, come on, I didn't mean you could ask for this kind of stuff."
"Sir, I would be remiss in my duty as your First Officer if I failed to inquire after something that regards your captaincy, plus I believe I was enjoined to 'hold you to it even if you whined.'"
"You're not going to let this go, are you?"
"No, sir, I am not. Shame and fear are destructive emotions, and it is in your best interests for us to eliminate a shield that tastes of them. Once the contents of the shielded area have been probed to my satisfaction, I can assist you in constructing an even more impervious shield if I believe one is required, one that will not taste of shame and fear and that thus will not attract the attention of any telepaths who may wish you harm."
Kirk sighed. "We run into telepathic species far too often for me to be carrying around a place in my mind that practically screams 'Jim's weak point is here.'"
"You think this is in my best interests, don't you?" Kirk said. "You think you're doing this for my own good. I told you to pick something for yourself."
Spock raised a brow. "I admit to considerable curiosity about what you are concealing. And after four years in my company, you should know what a powerful motivator my curiosity can be."
Kirk smiled unwillingly. "Your curiosity should be right up there with electromagnetism, gravity, and the weak nuclear force as fundamental forces of the universe."
Spock gave him the infinitesimal curve of his lips that was a Vulcan smile. "Really, Jim, that is most kind of you." He looked searchingly at Kirk. "And you will lower that shield? Today? Right now, in fact?"
Kirk spent several seconds looking at Spock's face, so well known, and so beloved, before answering. He spoke softly. "I'm afraid that once you see what's behind it, you won't love me anymore." He paused, then spoke so softly that only a Vulcan's ears could have heard him. "It's bad, Spock. Really bad."
Spock raised a hand and cupped Jim's face gently, a gesture more tender than he usually permitted himself, even after a year of being lovers. "I suspected you would think so, or the shield would not have tasted as it did. But do you not remember, Jim, the transporter accident that divided you into halves? Do you not remember how much of your strength stems from the portions of your personality that the world would judge to be negative? The positive side of you guides and uses the negative side of you to accomplish worthy goals. To be a starship captain is a rare and wondrous thing. It requires a force of personality matched by but eleven other people in all the galaxy. Only they are fit to judge you, for I am not."
Kirk sighed and covered Spock's hand with his own. "I've never deserved you, and I never will ... but I'm glad you're here."
They dropped their hands, and Kirk looked up at the taller man. "All right. I'll lower that shield. Come in, then."
Spock laid his fingers lightly on Kirk's face, not speaking. "My mind to your mind" was no longer necessary between them; both familiarity and the psychic link of Vulcan spouses connected them unless they actively shut that connection down. Spock entered Kirk's mind and spent some time on its surface, soothing the fear and self-doubt that he found there. He intentionally loosened the controls on his own emotions, letting Kirk feel even more of his love and devotion than usual.
When Kirk's mind was relatively calm, he moved to the previously-shielded area and touched it, tasting the thoughts and feelings he found there, letting himself assimilate them, adding them to his store of Kirkian knowledge. He spent longer than actually required in order to accomplish these tasks, so that Kirk would know beyond any doubt that Spock had not fled from what he found in his lover's mind, and so that Kirk would have time to adjust to the knowledge that Spock was now aware of what Kirk had been hiding. He showed Kirk his own loosened controls, showed Kirk that his thoughts and feelings contained neither disgust nor disapproval, showed him that he would not have been able to disguise such reactions if he had had them, because of those loosened controls.
Kirk was embarrassed but less than he'd expected to be, because of Spock's gentle delicacy. Spock sent him one more wave of love, then withdrew from his mind, and both men opened their eyes.
"So," Kirk said harshly. "I'm a mean bastard. I like to hurt people, want to hurt them. I want to hurt you."
Spock sighed and gathered the human into his arms. Even now, it was rare for him to initiate such embraces, and Kirk was comforted by it, as Spock meant him to be. Then Spock led Kirk to their bed, efficiently stripped them both, then laid down on his back, pulling Kirk once more into his embrace, Kirk lying on his side with his head pillowed on Spock's shoulder, with his arm draped across Spock's chest. Spock knew that cuddling soothed his mate, so he hastened to provide it. He looked down at the head on his shoulder, stroked his captain's hair and said, "Do you want my analysis?"
Kirk ran his fingers through the hair on Spock's chest, nervously playing with it. He tried to assume more of his usual manner. "I always want your analysis, Spock."
"Your profession — a profession that few can handle at all, and even fewer can handle for long — requires that you use people. You must ask security teams to guard dangerous prisoners or to accompany us on unknown planets, knowing that some of them will not survive. When the ship is damaged, you must ask Engineering personnel to work with dangerous forces, knowing that some of them may be injured. You must order all hands to battle stations without the slightest hesitation, even though you are well aware of what the human cost could be."
"Yes," Kirk said. "I have to be hard, sometimes. But isn't that different from wanting to hurt people? And wanting to hurt you?"
"Your friends are not exempt from the requirement that you use every member of this crew to the best of your and their abilities. You ordered Dr. McCoy to treat the horta, knowing that if you had guessed wrong about its intentions, it would have dissolved him in acid. You must order me to perform mind melds with all manner of aliens, even with computers, knowing that any one of them could be the one that will crush my mind or take me over or drive me insane. And you MUST do all of this. If you become unable to do it, not only is your tenure as captain over, but everyone on the ship will be less safe, with myself or Mr. Scott in the center chair."
"Those things are my duty, and it's true, I do it well. But isn't this different?"
Spock shook his head. "The desire to hurt others that you found in yourself is the underlying fuel that allows you to make hard choices, to order people to possible injury or death. You have harnessed this desire, just as you have all of your other negative qualities, and used it for good; you could not be captain without it."
"But why you? The one who gives me devotion that leaves me breathless -- why would I want to hurt you?"
"Are you truly unaware, Jim? Perhaps you've been so disgusted by this side of yourself that you've kept yourself from truly exploring what's there."
"I, yes, I suppose that I have ... shied away ... from this part of my mind. I was afraid that if I paid it any attention, it would grow, that I'd have to ... actually do something."
"Is that what you would tell me, if our positions were reversed? Or, since Vulcan psychology can be different, is that what you would tell McCoy, if he'd confided those same feelings to you?"
"Hell, all surgeons are sadists; everybody knows that. You can't spend half your life cutting people open unless part of you enjoys the blood."
"Yes," Spock said patiently. "But about exploring those feelings. What would you tell McCoy about exploration vs. suppression?"
"Oh." Kirk looked sheepish. "I'm in bad shape when I need a Vulcan to explain human psychology to me. Suppression leads to explosion; exploration leads to saner ways of draining things off."
"This is an especially taboo desire, Jim; it is not surprising that you cope less well with this than with others. But your desire to hurt me in particular is neither distressing nor surprising; I probed that area most carefully while I was in your mind."
"Well, then, you explain it."
Spock stroked his captain's hair gently. "You fear the desire to hurt someone, even as you long to express it. Because that desire has been suppressed for so long, it has considerable force behind it, and part of your fixing upon me as its target is because of Vulcan strength and stamina. You believe that you could cause me much more damage before my life would be endangered, thus making me an especially satisfying outlet for those desires."
Jim looked at him in horror but said nothing.
Spock went on. "But it is not only the force of the desire that makes you turn to me, the notion that — to quote directly from your thoughts — 'the Vulcan can take it.' It is also your fear of this desire that causes you to fasten upon me as its object. You believe that I am the only one who would have any chance of stopping you if you became unable to control yourself. You know that Vulcan strength — even the strength of a severely injured Vulcan — could overpower you, and you believe that I alone have the necessary standing — both personal and professional — to force you to stop if you are unwilling to do so."
Jim exhaled. "I like that part better."
"Of course. And it is a measure of how out of control you are NOT that the wish for extreme expression of this particular desire is completely entwined with the wish for a source of external control over it."
Jim lifted his head from Spock's shoulder and looked closely at his face. "I know that Vulcan control is formidable, but I read you pretty well by now, and you don't seem even slightly upset."
"Quite true. I am not."
"Your lover has fantasies of beating you bloody, and it doesn't upset you at all?"
Spock shook his head. "No. I have admitted to you in the past that I am not as impervious as I appear; you know that I spend time in meditation every day in order to arrange my thoughts and prevent the expression of emotion. But I am not suppressing emotion here. I believe that a certain amount of sadism is as necessary for starship captains as it is for surgeons; the only danger is in repudiating that desire so strongly that it comes out in suboptimal ways."
Jim thought. "I can't imagine ever ordering my crew into danger in order to satisfy some perverse desire of my own."
"No," Spock agreed. "You would not. But you might put yourself into danger, danger that was foreseeable and avoidable but that called to this disowned part of yourself."
"You ... do you think I've been doing that?"
"To some extent. The tendency is not yet pronounced, but it has become more so with every year of our mission, in spite of the fact that it would be expected that you would put yourself into less danger as you gained more experience as a starship captain."
Jim groaned. "God, you're right. But what do I do? I'm still a good captain, but I don't want to become more and more reckless every year, until I get us all killed."
Spock raised an eyebrow. "I thought the answer to that question was obvious, Captain. You must own these desires and find a legitimate outlet for them. You must — as you said earlier — 'beat me bloody.'"
"I can't do that! You're not a masochist, so you wouldn't enjoy it. And I love you; I would never want to contaminate our relationship with my twisted perversions."
"You do not actually desire a masochist for this endeavor, because you do not wish for the — I believe the word is 'bottom' — to enjoy the encounter."
"I think there are brothels where you can hire people for this. We'd have to research them, to make sure the workers were there voluntarily, but it's a big galaxy; I'm sure we can find a place."
Spock shook his head. "As the youngest and most photogenic starship captain, you are well known; your face is famous. If you entered a brothel in order to realize these desires, word would get out. The sex worker himself might well contact the news media; the fee for such a story could well enable him to retire. And while I believe you require this component of your personality in order to be the best captain in the Fleet, I also believe that Starfleet Command would be less understanding."