Under Duress by Djinn

"She's asleep now, Spock," Jim says and you look to see if Christine is, finally, asleep. She is, but she winces at each cry of the beast in the cell across from you, a beast you surmise was a human once. The beast is still pacing the dirt floor, occasionally stopping to reach through the bars the way he reached for Christine earlier, when he yanked her away from your alien captors, pulled her hard into the bars. He pawed at her, ripping her clothes, until Jim said to give her back to the two of you, that you would do it.

It: a benign label for what the aliens have in mind for you and Jim and Christine. You close your eyes for a moment, try to drown out the slobbering thing that would have taken Christine if the aliens had allowed it--would probably have killed Christine as he'd taken her--if you'd refused. The aliens looked to you, even after Jim spoke for you both. They thought you would countermand him?

"We will do it," you said, and saw Christine slump in relief as the aliens pulled open the cage door and threw her in with you and Jim.

"We will have to find him"--the alien jabbed an elbow toward the brute--"a mate somewhere else, then." The alien is more reptilian than humanoid, his smile highly unsettling.

You turn back to Jim, see he's sitting on the floor, his back to the wall, watching Christine sleep. You have always wondered if something happened between them during the time you were at Gol, when Jim was on Earth. You have wondered, but you have not had the courage to ask. And you have not pried with the meld, either--not that you have been close enough to Jim to pry that way.

Whatever the two of you had in the past seems to have changed into friendship since you left him so abruptly. Without explanation. Without warning.

"Sit, Spock."

"I am studying our enclosure."

"There's no way out." Jim rests his forehead against his hands; his voice is muffled by warm, human skin. "Now I know how Chris felt."

It takes you a moment to make the leap from Christine, who Jim calls Chris, to Christopher Pike, who Jim also calls Chris. Pike was in a zoo such as this one. Only those aliens seemed more benevolent than the ones that hold you captive now. They have said that their business is sex; you will be expected to have sex with both Jim and Christine. They will be expected to have sex with you.

You suspect that, aside from the presence of observers, this will be a hardship for none of you. Awkward and uncomfortable, but you have all--Jim and Christine, too, you think, even if you have not asked--had sex with each other. Just...not all at once.

"Spock." Jim's eyes meet yours and you see something you didn't expect to see. Amusement. "I guess this means we're getting back together, huh?"

"So it would seem." You nod at Christine, sleeping so fitfully. "And you and the doctor will also be rekindling old feelings?" You hope for your sake he says no; you hope for her sake he says yes.

"So it would seem." His smile is the ironic one, also the angry one. He stares up at the bars, as if he can will them open. You would not entirely put it past him to be able to do it.

Slipping down the wall, you sit, back against the wall, looking at Jim as Christine lies between you. And you wait.

------------------

Christine wakes, looks over at Jim, who has fallen asleep near the wall, then at you. The beast is still making noises that might once have been speech but now seem to be just roars and grunts.

"Nice guy," she says, and her smile is brave and defiant. She looks like Jim for a moment, until she seems to shudder. "Thank you," she whispers.

"I would not have let him have you," you say. "And neither would Jim." It is harder to say this last part.

"I guess there's some explaining to do?" Again she looks at Jim, and this time the look is tender.

"Only if you feel so inclined." But you want to say, "Yes, there is indeed."

"It was while you were away. We both missed you. I was stressed; he was unhappy. Sex helped."

It is an admirably concise summation. "Do you love him?"

"Do you?"

You stop short of saying that you asked her first. But she grins, and you think she can tell what you were going to say.

"Yes. I do," she says.

"Are you with him now?" It seems impossible that they could be conducting an affair without you knowing it, but Jim conducted an affair with you under the same conditions. He can be exceptionally stealthy.

She shakes her head and you feel a surge of relief. You know it is illogical, but it pleases you that you will be on even terms with her, that neither of you is currently his lover.

"When I left to go to the ship, we ended things. And once he was onboard...well, it was easier"--you can hear the unsaid "for him" in her words--"to not reengage." She looks away, not at Jim, not at the beast, just up at the ceiling and says very softly, "I assumed it was because you were back."

You wish you could tell her it was because of you, but suddenly you suspect that you are not with Jim now because of her.

"Interesting times," she says with a wry smile.

"Indeed."

You both settle into an uneasy silence.

------------

The aliens return, stun all of you, and you wake up naked in a far bigger enclosure. There are no bars, just walls of rock, as if you are in a canyon--one with no way out. It is warm, not as hot as you might prefer, but probably perfect for Jim and Christine.

You look up, try to see if you can tell where the observers are, but there is no sign of which part of the rock might be less opaque than it seems. There is no noise but the sound of birds--simulated, no doubt--and running water from a creek flowing across the enclosure, a creek that feeds a small pool.

The three of you are lying on mattresses of the kind Jim used to pack when you went camping. In fact, this place looks like the area he preferred near Yosemite. You glance over at him, think he is probably realizing the same thing.

Christine gets up, surprisingly comfortable without clothes, and goes over to the creek and drinks. You are about to admonish her to be careful, but you realize that the aliens have no reason to poison you with bad water, not if they want you to perform for their amusement.

She lifts up a tray that was hidden by a rock near the pool. "Golly. They certainly want us prepared." You can only imagine what is on the tray.

She walks back and as you and Jim both stare at her, she blushes. "Is there any logic in shame? In trying to cover up when there's no way to do that?"

"No," you say, and then you see that Jim, too, is blushing. "No, there is no logic in shame," you say to them both.

"So," Christine says, sitting down by them. "How long can we stall before they throw me in with Mister Personality?"

"Not long, I imagine." Jim is up and walking the enclosure, pacing it out, as if there is a way out. "We could climb, an airshaft maybe?"

You know the aliens are listening. You know Jim knows the aliens are listening. You think he won't give in without some show of defiance.

You allow him that defiance and nod. "Yes. Perhaps an airshaft."

-----------------

Christine looks over at Jim as he paces, then back down at the ground. She is sitting with her knees pulled up, her breasts pushed against them. Hiding.

"Are you afraid?"

She glances at you. "Are you?"

You are not sure if she would have answered a question with a question this way when she was a nurse, when you first knew her, and her hair was blonde and not dark.

"Well? Are you?"

"No." It is true; you are not afraid. Fear would be seeing Jim or her taken away. Seeing either of them thrown to the beast, and you think the aliens know that.

"I'm sure this wasn't high on your list of all time fantasies, though." She is making small circles in the sand, digging in, and you move closer and stop her hand.

"Don't let me interrupt." Jim sounds irritated.

"Have you thought about this?" you ask him, because it is easier than trying to explain why you felt moved to touch her.

"What? Being trapped with the two of you and forced to have sex so a bunch of perverts could get off and some aliens who make the Gorn look attractive could make money off it?" He crosses his arms over his chest. "Oh yeah. I've been dreaming of this moment."

Christine laughs, and Jim shoots her an annoyed glare. "If you take out the last part..." she says with another laugh.

You glance at her, see she is serious. Her hand twitches under yours, and you realize she is also very nervous.

"You've thought about this?" Jim strides over, and you wonder if he has any idea how appealing he looks.

"Upon occasion. The two of you mean a lot to me and..." She stops.

"I get why I mean a lot to you, but you two seem awfully comfortable." He is looking at you, not her. You should have told him. You should have admitted to him long ago that after the first Pon Farr you went to Christine.

"It was the Pon Farr, all right?" She is glaring at Jim. "It wasn't his fault; he doesn't like me; he just needed me. Get over it, Jim."

It sounds odd to hear Jim's name coming from her. Odd and you feel something clench inside you, and then you realize you are pushing her hand down because she is staring at you and saying, "Ow."

You pull your hand away, murmur, "I am sorry."

"Well, this is just dandy." Jim strides away and resumes his inspection of the wall.

"Can't really top that assessment." Christine gets up and walks over to the pool, dipping her toe in.

You sit and pretend to meditate, as if you are not intensely aware of how close they are, and what you will soon be doing with them.

--------------------

There is a sharp clang, then a voice fills the enclosure. "We are bored."

You allow yourself the luxury of one sigh, then you walk over to Jim, grab his hand and pull him with you to the pool, where Christine sits, her legs dangling in the water.

"Here?" she asks, and her voice squeaks.

"It will afford us some small amount of privacy." You wait for Jim to go in, then follow him. Christine slips off the side and joins you.

"What next, Spock, since you seem to have appointed yourself our fearless leader." Jim glares at you.

"I suggest, if we all wish to stay together, we have sex as they seem so eager for us to do." You want to pull Jim to you, have wanted to ever since the meld with V'ger.

"Why don't I sit this one out?" Christine starts to go, and Jim reaches for her and pulls her back, and a surge of jealousy rolls over you.

She turns, meets your eyes. "I know you don't want me here."

"You know nothing." You pull her to you, taking her before Jim can. Not sure if you want her, but sure you don't want to watch Jim taking her and also sure Jim won't let you take him first.

You are kissing her because you are angry, but your body is not responding to her out of anger, but out of desire. You pull her onto you, hear her sigh as the two of you connect in a way you have never done. The Pon Farr is mindless coupling; this is something...other.

You look over, see that Jim is watching both of you with a helpless look, and tenderness for him overwhelms you. As you move inside Christine, you pull Jim to you and kiss him.

As soon as you pull away, Christine pulls him to her, and they kiss in a way that makes you want her more, not less.

"The aliens must be loving this," Jim says, and there is anger and desperate humor in his voice.

"Let's give them a show," Christine says, and her eyes glint as she rides you harder and faster, and you clutch at her and let go in a way you never have with her.

Once she slides off you, Jim pulls her to him. They move in a way that lets you know that whatever they had, it was not just for a few nights. They know each other. They know what the other likes, evidenced by the way he touches her and makes her come, by the way she kisses him, licking his upper lip in a way you know inflames him.

When they finish, you are ready again. And Christine surprises you by reaching over and pulling the tray to her, then handing you one of the containers. "Waterproof. They think of everything."

Your eyes meet hers, and she smiles, but it is a smile that does not seem particularly happy. Then you forget about her for a moment, readying Jim, taking him, the way you used to, imagining him taking you the same way.

Soon, you will not have to imagine.

--------------------

You are tired. It is an unusual feeling to be this enervated, but sex with two is not only more complicated, but also seems to spark a great deal of creativity--if not outright competition.

It is, however, a good-natured competition. If Jim was mad at your for leaving, he appears to have forgiven you. Although you do think he is keeping track of who has made Christine come more.

It amuses you to think that you are currently in the lead.

Christine is soaking in the pool. She is propped up, her arms folded on the edge, her head on her arms, the rest of her in the pool. She looks very content and very tired.

Jim is dozing in the false sunshine, halfway between the two of you, on a mattress the three of you pulled over near the pool at some point. Even for you, the days are starting to blur.

There is another clang, the first time that it has sounded since the aliens warned you they were bored.

"Captain? Mister Spock? Doctor Chapel?" It is Mister Scott. "Are you hurt?"

You take a deep breath, feel blood rush to your face and wonder how much more you would flush if he'd caught you in the act. "We are unharmed," you manage to say, and then a door opens and Doctor McCoy walks in, your uniforms over his arm.

He takes one look, one long look that sweeps the tableau. Then he smirks, and you know he is fully cognizant of what has taken place. "Smells like a brothel in here," he says so low that Mister Scott will probably not hear--or you hope he will not--and then he tosses you your uniform.

Christine is red, but Jim is even redder. They pull their uniforms on quickly.

"Well, I hate to break up this little vacation paradise, but what say we get you three out of here?" McCoy is still smirking, and Jim walks up to him, with that look that says not to push him.

McCoy has a history of ignoring that look. "I trust you had fun?"

"We didn't book a room on Risa, Bones. We were captured." Jim sounds angrier than he normally gets with McCoy. You think this is not the time for the doctor's brand of sarcasm.

McCoy seems to understand that, too. "Of course, Jim. I'm sorry to have made light of the situation."

Christine pushes past him, hurrying out. You follow her, see Scott and several others standing around. They all look like they are trying to hide smiles.

She stops and turns, her expression very angry as she says, "One word, one laugh, and I will fucking kill you."

You are not sure that, given the context, you would have added that particular expletive. But you fully agree with the rest of her sentiment. You try to make that clear to the landing party with a stern, even for you, look.

Their almost-smiles die.

"And just think what he'll do," Christine says, as Jim comes through the door.

"We've got the aliens in custody on the ship," McCoy is saying.

"There was another prisoner," Jim says. "Down in the cages."

"We got him. Had to stun him to even get to him."

Christine shudders, but you do not think McCoy notices.

"We found quite a few others in enclosures such as this. Figured you might like to drop them off somewhere so they can get home?"

"How many other enclosures were there?" Christine asks.

"A dozen or so. Couples in them--yours was the only one with three people."

There is the sound of suppressed laugher.

"Let's get the hell out of here," Jim says, obviously ignoring the laugh.

You don't feel like ignoring it, but the transporter takes you before you can see who it was.

------------------

Your routine is back. A week on the ship should make the week you spent in the enclosure a dim memory. Except that you have almost perfect recall, so every moment is etched in your mind--and other places.

You have not reached for Jim. Or for Christine. You do not think they have reached for each other. You know they have not reached for you.

A hail sounds in your quarters. It is Jim. "We need to talk."

You wonder how many people "we' covers. Your question is answered when you meet Christine in the lift. She is off duty as you are, as Jim is. She is wearing a red dress that clings loosely to her body, and you think how easy it will be to remove.

You realize she is watching your face as you assess her, and she smiles. "If I'd known this dress was going to be such a hit, I'd have bought one in every color."

"He wants to talk," you say, still wishing to establish some prior claim to Jim.

"Maybe he's going to kick me out of the tree fort." Her voice is less sure than the cocky look she is wearing.

You don't want to tell her that you fear it is you who will be excised.

You walk together, strides oddly matched, as you make your way to Jim's door. She waits for you to ring the chime, but you let her go first as the door opens.

"Computer, lock door." Jim is in a robe, his hair wet from the shower. He stares at you both with a stern look and says, "You two are severely overdressed. Although I like that dress a lot, Chris."

"Yeah, so does Spock."

"Only he'd never admit it."

"Never ever," she says, and they share a grin, leaving you out.

"For God's sake, Spock. Take off your clothes and get over here." Jim is grinning at you now. The warm smile of long ago. He never gave it to you in that enclosure, no matter how good you made him feel, and you know it was because of the circumstances. But now he is smiling at you, and he turns to Christine and says, "Help him out of that damn robe, all right?"

She laughs, and pulls your face to hers, and kisses you, while deftly maneuvering the hidden fasteners on the robe.

"Did you know?" you ask her, and you hope Jim did not discuss this with her if he could not talk about it to you.

"No, but I'm not going to question it and neither should you." She pulls you to the bed, where Jim is waiting. It will be crowded, you think, but then Jim holds out his arms, and she pushes you down and then crawls over both of you to get to the other side.

Jim holds you both, kissing you first, and you suspect it is not because he loves you most but because you are, ironically, the most needy. Then he kisses Christine and she reaches across him to touch you.

"Had a week to think about it," Jim says once he pulls away from her. "Hate what happened to us. Hated being a prisoner. But the sex...being with the two of you, that was good." He is lying back, smiling up at the ceiling. "I propose we find out what it's like with no audience holding us back."

You raise an eyebrow, hear Christine laugh. You were not aware of holding back, audience notwithstanding.

"I love you both." There is a quiet in the room following Jim's pronouncement, a moment as you think both you and Christine are thinking about what he has said.

"I love you both, too." Christine's voice is small, as if she expects you to be the one to make it not unanimous.

Jim turns to look at you. "Spock? Do you want this?"

You wonder what he would do if you said no. If you said you only wanted him. But to say that would be a lie. You want him more than you do her, but you want her, too. And you love her, too, even if the feelings are new and fragile, and might die if she went away.

Christine sighs and tries to move, but Jim is holding her fast.

"Do not go," you say, and you touch her gently on the arm. "I love you both."

She blinks in what you think is surprise, and Jim smiles his smile of deep contentment, and you relax beside him.

This is not what you expected, not what you wanted, but it is worth exploring, and someday, it may be everything you want. For now, it will do.

FIN