Pike looked across the dinning room table where Salen was picking at his dinner with little interest. Salen had been living with him for almost two months now. At first the young Vulcan seemed to make quick gains in adjusting to a life free from abuse. However lately Pike had noticed that his appetite was waning and he was becoming more withdrawn.
Looking miserable Salen forced himself to eat another bite. Til'ik, the Romulan silver-tailed opossum, crawled out from Salen's shirt collar. Keeping his metallic tail wrapped around Salen's neck he stretched out, stole a cut vegetable, and munched it down greedily. The furry animal used to be able to make Salen smile, but over the past few weeks Salen's face was becoming more expressionless like a more typical Vulcan.
Part of Pike wondered if Salen was just slowly gaining more control over his emotions and that was what made him appear increasingly stoic. Whatever was happening to his newly adopted son it looked like it was draining the life out of him. Concerned Pike tried to decide what the next best move for Salen would be. It was entirely possible that he just didn't have the know how to help the abused teenager into transitioning back into society. He hated the idea of loosing Salen, but if it was for the best he rather see him in the right home.
Til'ik ate his fill and crawled back into Salen's shirt. Salen reached up and rubbed at the silver-tail through the fabric causing it to purr happily. The sound appeared to sooth him as he closed his eyes for a moment. When Salen opened them again he stared down at what was left of his meal with a look of dread. Pike shook his head sadly.
"If you don't like the food, you don't have to eat it."
"There is nothing wrong with the food." Salen replied. "I...I am just not very hungry."
"Then you don't have to finish it."
"I do not want to seem ungrateful."
"It's not a big deal." Pike assured. "Put the rest of it in the fridge, if you get hungry later you can finish it then."
"Thank you, Sir."
Salen hesitated for a moment before getting to his feet and collecting the plate. Pike made a point of not watching Salen go into the kitchen. He didn't want Salen feeling like his every action was being evaluated. Pike found himself forcing down the rest of his dinner himself, suddenly not being very hungry either. As soon as Pike had finished Salen was there like a well trained butler to remove the plate.
Pike had been told by the therapist he was working with that he shouldn't discourage Salen from helping around the house. The therapist told him that such tasks would give Salen a sense of worth and being needed. However, Pike felt like he was treating Salen like a slave. Not really wanting to deal with it right now Pike backed away from the table.
Moving his wheelchair over to the living room Pike picked up a reading tablet while Salen cleaned the kitchen. He often searched the database for articles that might help him help Salen, but everything he could find was geared towards humans. Feeling a little overwhelmed Pike scanned through a paper on adjusting severely physically abused children.
Pike glanced away from the mostly useless text as Salen came out of the kitchen and paced restlessly in front of the sliding glass doors that lead to the deck. The sun was just beginning to set. Lately it was as the night was falling that Salen became his most agitated. Folding his hands in his lap Pike sighed quietly.
"Salen," Pike said gently "if you want to go to Natala..."
"No." Salen turned around and dropped to his knees. "Please, please do not send me away. Whatever I have done...I...I am sorry."
"Easy, Salen. I am not 'sending you away', and you've done nothing wrong. I just wanted to make sure that you know that you have options."
"I wish to stay here." Salen said quickly.
"Okay, you are more than welcome to stay."
Pike wasn't sure what else to say. Salen had begun to physically shake at the threat of being sent to live with the Vulcans. All the progress that Salen had made since his release from captivity was slipping away and Pike couldn't figure out why. Increasingly worried Pike made the decision to talk to the therapist in the morning and possibly see if Salen was ready to talk to her himself. So far Salen had not responded well to the idea of talking to a professional about his past. However, Pike felt that it was time.
Salen stayed on his knees for a while, as though waiting for permission to stand. Pike had been told that the best thing he could do about the submissive kneeling behavior was to just accept it. He was assured that when Salen felt more comfortable that the behavior would fade. For a while it had looked like it was going to, but lately Salen was spending more and more time on his knees. It broke Pike's heart to see that he was still so afraid of punishment, but he did his best not to take it personally. No matter how quickly Salen had appeared to progress in those first few weeks it was going to take more than a couple of months to undo three years worth of damage.
Returning to his reading Pike watched Salen out of the corner of his eye. Eventually Salen slowly got to his feet and disappeared back into the kitchen. Pike was hopeful that Salen wanted to finish his dinner, but when he heard the kettle singing he knew that Salen was reverting into more of his slave behavior.
Pike graciously accepted the cup of tea that Salen offered him. The Vulcan had made none for himself, he never did. He had quickly learned that Pike tended to make tea in the evening and had taken over the task. Taking a sip of the well made tea Pike thanked Salen again and returned to his reading.
Salen seemed satisfied and disappeared for a few minutes. Pike wasn't really interested in the article he had brought up, it really didn't seem to apply to their current situation. However, he continued to go through the motions of reading it. He didn't notice it in himself, but as Salen grew more anxious he did as well.
Drinking the tea he mentally started to plan how he was going to approach Salen about going to the therapist. He didn't even notice that Salen had returned to his position on his knees on the floor a few feet in front of him.
"A...Admiral?" Salen asked nervously.
"Would you...would you like to have sex with me?"
Pike had just taken a sip from the hot tea and upon hearing Salen's question he instantly began to choke on it. Caught completely off guard Pike spat the tea back into the cup and started coughing violently to get the rest of it out of his lungs. Salen jumped to his feet in alarm, unsure of how to help.
"Si...sit, sit down." Pike sputtered. "We need to talk."
Pike pointed at the couch in a demand that Salen sit on the furniture rather than drop back to the floor. Looking like a dog that had been scolded Salen slunk over to the couch and perched on the edge of it. Pike finally got his lungs back under control. He put down the tea and the reading tablet and stared at Salen for a moment while he attempted to collect his thoughts.
"Salen, do you understand what you just asked me?"
"Do you honestly believe that is something that I want from you?"
"I...um..." Salen struggled to answer. "From what I understand it is a highly valuable human commodity."
"My body is the only thing I have to offer in repayment for all you have done for me."
"Salen," Pike said shocked "putting aside the fact that you should know by now that you don't need to 'repay' me, where did you get the idea that offering sex was the way to go about it?"
"In an attempt to understand the reason behind...behind certain events in my captivity I have been researching the vast human sex trade on the internet."
"Oh no...Salen," Pike sighed as he reached up and pinched the bridge of his nose "Salen...internet pornography is not exactly the best place to learn about human sexuality."
"I have found it most disturbing."
"I bet. Out of context, or even with context for that matter... I should have realized, I should have known that they would have used you that way." Pike growled to himself. "No wonder you've becoming increasingly anxious."
"I will do anything for you." Salen said seriously.
"I have meant to offer sooner, but I was gathering my courage."
"Salen," Pike said firmly "not only is that incredibly inappropriate, but it is the furthest thing from my mind. I...I don't even really know how to react to this other than to tell you that I would never abuse you, sexually or otherwise. Is that clear?"
"I have offended you."
"A little bit." Pike admitted. "But I understand."
"I thought that it was expected of me."
"I assure you that it's not."
Pike's heart painfully stumbled in its rhythm as tears slipped down Salen's scared cheek. He looked so lost and confused. Pike was feeling more than a little lost himself. Having never been a father he wasn't even sure where to begin. Salen wrapped his arms over his stomach like he was about to be sick.
"I do not know how to be, I do not know how to act. I do not even believe that I know how to think."
"A good place to start would be to realize that your body is yours and no one else's."
Salen nodded, but he still didn't look fully convinced.
"You're going to be okay, Salen, but it is going to take time."
Pike held his breath, waiting for Salen's next move. He reached up and brushed his tears away and looked around the room vacantly. Suddenly focusing on Pike a bright smile of relief light up Salen's features. Pike smiled as well and managed to start breathing again. Salen got to his feet and came over to Pike and knelt down.
"I am sorry for this misunderstanding," Salen said "I wish I had come to you with this fear of mine sooner."
"Do you feel better now?"
"Yes...in fact talking about this has immediately reduced a great deal of my stress."
"Perhaps you'd be ready to talk to the therapist?" Pike asked hopefully.
"Would you come with me?"
"If you want me to."
"I would, and I believe I am ready."
"I think you've come a long way tonight already."
"So do I."