Christine was analyzing some samples in the lab when Lieutenant Uhura came by to hover in the doorway.
"Do you have a minute?" Uhura asked.
Christine blinked. Communications officers didn't usually come by requesting Christine's presence, and Uhura looked tight with tension, so it didn't look like a friendly visit, either. "Sure." She spared her work a glance: it would keep for the moment. Activating the stasis field, she stepped out of the lab and into the sickbay, joining Uhura. "What can I do for you?"
"Can we talk in your office?" Uhura didn't wait for a reply, just turned and led Christine towards the med office, skirting staff and the occasional patient as she moved. Once inside the office, she faced Christine, looking intent. "I'm sorry," she said. "I have to ask you something indiscreet. Are you currently in a relationship with Doctor McCoy?"
"Wow," Christine said. "Boundaries?"
"Yes, I know," Uhura said, tense. "I said I was sorry, but I don't have much time. I'm asking you in confidence; it won't leave this office."
"Look, I don't think — "
"I'm involved with Mister Spock," Uhura said, rapid-fire. "Have been since the Academy. I am trusting you with this information, and believe me, I wouldn't be getting into any of this if there was any other option. Are you currently in a romantic relationship with Doctor McCoy?"
"Uhura, what the hell is going on here? Is Leonard all right?"
Uhura darted a glance out at the sickbay and her expressive gaze turned back to Christine. "This is classified," she said. "Our away team was detained on Demeter. I've been negotiating to get them out, and they have released Mr. Spock into my custody, but they won't turn over Doctor McCoy or Captain Kirk. Particularly Captain Kirk," she said sourly.
Christine grabbed Uhura's arm and hauled her out of the office, snatching up a medkit on the way. "Sanchez!" she called, "Take over my work in the lab, please. I'm going off shift a little early; you're in charge."
"Yes, sir," Sanchez said crisply, already moving into the lab.
"You know, you could've just said they were in trouble in the first place," Christine said, moving quickly down the hall towards the turbolift.
"It's not that simple," Uhura said, frowning. She kept her voice low as they weaved through the sparse personnel in the hallway. "That's what I was trying to get to. The temple where they are being held is made of an ore that interferes with our beaming technology, so we can't just pull them out, and if we attempt an violent rescue operation on a new ally to the Federation it would be disastrous. The Demetera are not going to harm them, but they do require what they refer to as a bonded mate to release the men to. Unattached and unsupervised men are not commonly allowed out in public, and considering the nature of their offense — "
Christine hustled them both into the turbolift and stabbed at the button for the transporter room level. "What offense?"
"It's Captain Kirk," Uhura said. "There were hot temple virgins. What do you think?"
They shared a look. "Enough said," Christine fought a smile. "Maybe his diplomatic skills will improve over time."
"Maybe," Uhura sounded doubtful. "Anyway, my point is, it's not enough to just send a woman over to pose as their bonded mate and claim them. Their restraints are somehow able to monitor the prisoners's systems by either physiological or neurological means in a way that detects whether or not the stated bond is real. I tried to bluff my way out with all three of them, and it nearly caused a riot. Now they require a public physical demonstration of the bond before they'll release Kirk and McCoy, and they only gave me Spock because…" She trailed off delicately, but her look spoke volumes.
"Oh," Christine said. That must have been quite a sight. "Oh."
"Yeah," Uhura sounded glum. "Welcome to the mission." She leaned forward, jabbed the Stop button on the lift controls, and turned to level a sober look at Christine. "So I take it this means you are both involved with the doctor and willing to do what it will take to get him out?"
"Of course," Christine impatiently slapped the button to On, mobilizing the lift again. "Who do you have for Jim?"
Uhura pressed the Stop button again, looking distinctly uncomfortable. "About that," she said.
Christine had a sudden sinking feeling. They'd been so careful to be discreet. Banging one's superior officers was hardly unheard of, but it certainly didn't do anyone's career any favors, especially not when one of them happened to be the captain.
"When this situation came up on the planet, I contacted my friend, Lieutenant Gaila from Engineering," Uhura said. "Her culture has some similarities with certain aspects of this one. She's on the surface now, keeping an eye on the situation, and she's been helping me negotiate. Kirk and McCoy both refused to name any candidates, but Gaila's known them both for quite a while."
"Great," Christine said, relieved. "So she can claim Jim."
"Actually, she just laughed hysterically when I suggested that," Uhura said. "Apparently her people on Orion have seen of that kind of technology before, and she says their connection wouldn't fool the sensors on the Captain's restraints."
"Well, we can't just leave him there! Didn't Gaila come up with anyone else you could send?"
Uhura just looked at her.
"What?" Christine said.
"There is not enough 'this is none of my business' in the universe for this."
"Look, it's not like I don't want to help, but believe me, I am not going to be ringing Jim's bells, here. Maybe Leonard's, but Jim? This is crazy."
Uhura looked slightly apologetic, but she punched the button and the lift swung back to life. "Right now, crazy's the best we've got."
"Hi, there!" Gaila said cheerfully when Christine beamed in as near the temple as the magnetic ore in its walls would allow.
"Hello," Christine said, bemused. She nodded a greeting at the two female Enterprise security officers that stood at a slight distance, keeping a wary eye on the proceedings. Uhura had assured Christine that officers Jennings and Kwok were to be trusted.
Gaila was chatting with a group of Demetara women dressed in battle gear and armed to the teeth, but she'd gotten them to laugh, which Christine suspected was a major triumph. "Did you come to pick up your boys?" Gaila asked Christine brightly. "I bet they miss you, and Jimmy's sorry he was bad."
Christine frowned. "Well, Jimmy — " the preposterousness of calling the Captain that in public somehow didn't quite strike her as amusing as it normally would, "does tend to be impulsive. But he means well, and Leonard adores him, so…" she gave a little shrug, what are you going to do? "So I do, too."
The women nodded politely, looking Christine over with frankly curious gazes.
"I'm Christine," she said, shooting to mimic Gaila's casual, friendly tone. "Lieutenant Uhura tells me my men are being held here. I'm really sorry for the misunderstanding, but I came to collect them now."
One of the women, clad in the irridescent blue robes of the clergy, stepped forward, and the others made way for her respectfully. Her eyes were a rich, dark amber, the corners creased with lines from age. "I am Clahr. We understand your laws allow for men to be less restricted, but we cannot allow such transgressions without censure." She took Christine's hand in both of hers, her palms warm and dry. "You are bonded to them both?"
"Yes, I am," Christine said firmly. "And I do apologize for their trangressions, it's just that Jim — ah, Jimmy — is kind of new to the bond, so…"
"Ah," Clahr said, and the women behind her echoed the sound, several of them nodding in understanding. "Why did your sisters not say so? These things are understandable, and he is quite young by your people's reckoning, is he not? Your other men seemed more sensible, more settled into themselves."
Christine raised an eyebrow at Clahr's insight. "That's exactly right," she said. "So does this mean I can take them home, now?"
Clahr drew away, releasing Christine's hands. "I'm afraid this cannot be. Your sister's lie, while understandable, still demands compensation by our tradition. And you must make clear your claim beyond any hint of doubt my people might still harbor." She patted Christine's shoulder in a motherly fashion. "I am certain you will be all right. We will take you to them now."
Clahr led the way into the temple. Christine, Gaila and a handful of the temple guards followed. They walked down a wide, airy corridor with high ceilings and cool stone walls, bypassing what Christine assumed was the central area of worship. Down a side corridor, they reached a door that slid open at Clahr's command.
Christine darted a glance at Gaila.
"Jimmy loves you," Gaila assured her in that same bright tone she'd been using with the temple guards, but her gaze was dead serious. "You can do this."
"Indeed, child, do not be afraid," Clahr said gently. "If your bond is true, this will all be very simple, and soon you shall have your men back home where they belong."
"Right," Christine said, refusing to betray any trace of nerves. She steeled herself for what she might find inside the chamber, holding her medkit tightly. Taking a deep breath, she stepped inside.
"Baby!" Jim grinned. "Glad you could make it."
He was lounging on a low, wide circular bed that dominated most of the room. Propped up on a massive pile of pillows, bare-chested, he looked so perfectly at home one could almost overlook the fact that he had his arms pinned behind his back at an angle that looked, if not painful, at least severely uncomfortable.
"Hey, Bones, Christine's here!" Jim said.
"I knew that Obvious 101 coursework you took at the Academy would come in handy someday," Leonard said sourly. He was standing across the room, arms behind his back. Glowering at his friend, Leonard was equally bare-chested but looking infinitely more uncomfortable about it. "I'm sorry about all this, Christine."
"It's fine," she said automatically, digging out her scanner even as she analyzed them both with a keen gaze. She turned to Clahr and the others, holding up the scanner in as nonthreatening a way as possible. "This is a medical device, just to check on their status. I'll be very quick."
"Yes, that is fine," Clahr said after looking it over. "Your sister already used such a device."
"Thank you." She scanned first Jim, then Leonard, and found high levels of stress and elevated heart rates, but no signs of injury or illness. Putting the device away, she set aside the medkit and turned back to Clahr. "So how do we proceed?"
Clahr sat on a couch by the door, arranging her robes gracefully, and gestured at the bed. "Now you prove your bond."
"Right," Christine said. "Sure."
Another blue-robed priestess moved in to sit beside Clahr, and two of the guards joined them. Gaila stepped in just far enough to allow the door to close and stood there, eyeing everything with an alert and watchful gaze. Jim winked at her, and she wiggled her fingers at him in greeting.
Christine looked at Jim, who was watching her intently as he lounged on the bed. Across the room, Leonard made no move to come any closer. Squaring her shoulders, Christine marched over to Leonard and cupped his face. His hazel eyes were shadowed and his lips were pressed tightly together in a harsh, unhappy line. His muscles strained where he pulled at the restraints that bound his arms behind his back.
Suddenly, everything coalesced into crystal clarity. Stepping up on her toes, she kissed him firmly.
"I'm taking you home," she said against his lush mouth, and felt him relax slightly. "Come on."
Holding on to his firm bicep, she led him to the bed and pushed him down onto it. He perched on the edge, uncomfortably. Christine licked her lips, considering the angles, and noticed Jim unconsciously echoing the gesture, still cradled against his heap of pillows. She climbed onto the bed and knelt next to him, brushing a hand down his jaw. She kissed him too, as gently as she could, and when she pulled away he craned his head up to follow her, as if yearning to continue the kiss.
Christine turned to Clahr, gesturing at the men's restraints. "Could we give them a little more mobility?"
Clahr was looking intently at a small screen in her hands. She looked up at Christine, then down at the display again. "They answer to you," she said. "Perhaps a small freedom, then."
At her command, the guards rose from the couch and went to the men. Leonard gritted his teeth as one of the guards worked briefly behind his back, then drew his arms forward as soon as the release was triggered. He rubbed his arms briefly, still braceleted in thick silver manacles, and shot a grateful look at Christine. Beside them, Jim had flinched when the guard drew near before assuming his customary bravado. She flipped him over with an efficient and impersonal touch, triggered the manacles and they came apart from each other with a dull hiss.
The guards left and Jim turned over, flexing his overextended muscles.
"Thank you," Christine told Clahr.
The priestess nodded. "The restraints will not allow them to leave the temple," she warned. "But it is good you are concerned for the care of your men. Please, continue."
So much for leniency. Christine looked at the men helplessly for a moment. Sleeping with her sometime lover and his lover was one thing, but doing it in front of an audience had never really been part of Christine's repertoire. Besides, it was customary to be discreet about these matters in Starfleet, particularly when they involved sleeping with one's superior officers.
Still, she wasn't about to let a little modesty get in the way of bringing her men back home.
"Take off your pants," she told Leonard, and was gratified when he immediately shed boots, socks and trousers.
Jim made a move to follow, but she stopped him.
"We'll take care of that," she said, and Leonard gave her the ghost of a smile, bending to the task along with Christine, the familiarity of the routine a comfort. Together, they removed Jim's remaining clothes, depositing everything on the floor by the bed.
She kept her uniform on for the time being, slightly heeled boots and all.
Stretching out, she lay against Jim's side, leisurely running her hand along his tautly muscled body. "Suck him," she ordered Leonard, and he crept closer, lowering his pink lips to Jim's cock, his clever tongue already darting out to moisten the tip.
Jim made a pained sound, sharply cut off, and Christine smiled, knowing how much he loved Leonard's mouth. Jim's wide blue gaze was fixed on Leonard, his sleek dark head bending over Jim's lap, and she could see Jim curl his hands into fists, trying not to grip his friend's hair. She pressed up closer and kissed Jim, this time letting him continue the kiss as long as he wanted, eating at each other's mouths even as he panted from Leonard's ministrations.
He clutched at her arms, his sharp cry announcing his climax, and Leonard backed away, wiping his beautifully swollen mouth, a slight smirk gracing the edges of his lips.
"Let me taste him," Christine ordered, and Leonard crept up to her, tongue delving into her mouth, sharing the rich, bitter taste.
Beneath them, Jim panted quietly.
"Now me," she said, and Leonard did smile at that, humor flashing into his eyes for a moment despite the circumstances.
He reached under her skirt to remove her underwear, and she felt the cold metal manacles and the warm skin of Jim's broad hands join in, both sets of hands leisurely caressing her legs, her thighs, her ass, fingers skimming the edge of her panties and slowly, slowly pulling them off and over her boots.
She felt a hot tongue delve into her already wet pussy and closed her eyes delightedly. This was a game they all liked to play, and she let them take turns on her, Leonard's mouth careful, deliberate and devastatingly thorough, and Jim's mouth playful and wickedly unpredictable, now fast, now slow, now sharp, now gentle. They soon had her crying out in orgasm and she pushed them off, riding the waves with a contented smile on her face.
Opening her eyes at last, she saw Jim straddling Leonard as they kissed each other deeply, chasing her taste from each other's mouths. Turning onto her side, she propped her head up on her hand and watched them, enjoying the contrast of blond on dark, the sureness that spoke of years of comfortable familiarity and trust. Jim reached out blindly, grabbing hold of Christine and hauling her in. Leonard rolled away and she sat up, straddling Jim's body. She pulled off her dress and threw it aside, stretching luxuriously. Grasping Jim's cock, she slid onto it in one long, delicious thrust. She clenched her fingers in Leonard's hair and kissed him, then pushed him away.
"Go," she said, gesturing imperiously at Jim.
Leonard kissed her again and went, climbing above Jim to straddle his blonde head, gently feeding Jim his cock. Reaching across Jim's body, Leonard clasped Christine, devouring her mouth and down her neck to her bare breasts, little noises pressed into her skin the only indication of Jim's skilled work on Leonard's dick. She pulled away enough to settle more firmly onto Jim's cock and started moving, setting their favorite rhythm, clenching her muscles in the familiar dance that never grew old, would never grow old. Leonard moved too, fucking Jim's mouth as sweetly as he could, his intent dark gaze flicking constantly between them both. Beneath them, Jim bucked and rolled, hands alternating between gripping Leonard's ass and thighs and Christine's hips, fucking himself onto both of them with abandon. He came first with a lusty groan, Christine following soon after to Leonard's choked cries of release.
They lay there in a messy tangle, their labored breaths the only sound in the room.
Jim cleared his throat. "That was…"
"You," Leonard pointed at Jim. "Not another word. I mean it."
"Both of you," Christine said, propping herself up on her elbows to glare at them both. "I mean it. Don't ever worry me like that again."
Leonard spooned up behind her, pressing a kiss to the back of her neck. "We'll do our best," he said, holding her tightly, voice warm with affection.
"You'd better. I need you both safe." She looped her arms around Jim's neck, pulling him closer, and kissed his high forehead.
Jim was still for a long moment, then melted into the hug, arms coming up around her, burying his face in her neck. Faintly, she heard a dull hiss and a click.
She stiffened slightly. "Was that…?"
"Shhhh," Leonard said into her ear. "Let him rest a minute." He drew his arms more tightly around her, running his hands up her arms, and she looked down at his bare wrists in amazement.
When she twisted her neck back to look at him, moving gingerly so as not to disturb Jim, Leonard was smiling gently.
She looked back at the couch by the door, and noticed for the first time the room was empty, Clahr and her people having left.
Well, damn. Christine shared a secret smile with Leonard and held Jim more tightly.