Beta'd by Hypatia Kosh and Sensefille
Written for the FFF round 14, and inspired by way too many obscure fairy tales growing up.
This, by the way, also puts T'Pring in the running for the SluFF :-D

~ Once Upon Amok Time ~
a Star Trek alternate universe fairy tale
by Farfalla the Butterfly-Kitten

blueberrysnail (at) yahoo.com
Pairings: Kirk/Spock, Sulu/Rand and others.
This story contains het, slash, and femslash pairings.
Rated PG-13 for a bit o' violence...

Long ago in a beautiful green country, a silver castle stood at the top of a hill. She shone brilliantly in the sunlight, and in the night-time she reflected the moon's shimmer as if she were its fallen sister. Inside lived the King and all his family. The King was a good man and a just ruler, a thin man with clear blue eyes and a lined face. His wife, the Queen, was a stately noblewoman with yellow locks and blue-grey eyes. Their sixteen-year-old daughter, the Crown Princess, had inherited her mother's blonde hair, and it grew beyond her waist.

The castle was protected by a square moat, and a select army of men who were the King's Guards. They were among the best fighters in the land, but they were those for whom defense was more dear than conquest, and this is why they stayed close to home. They served the King and his family, and they were led by a golden man called James.

The young Crown Princess was in love with James. This was the first love that had pierced her heart, and it stung beautifully. She stood upon the balcony while her servants styled her long, flaxen hair for hours, and gazed upon him as he practiced his swordmanship in the courtyard below. "He is very lovely," she observed to her handmaidens.

"Yes, your Highness," they answered, because there could be no argument. Certainly, no bare chest was as shining, no smile as winning. No other eyes glowed with that smooth gentle light of clear topaz. And his grace as he rehearsed his fighting techniques could not be matched.

The Crown Princess reveled in her voyeurism, and each day she remained on the balcony a little longer. Her hairstyles grew more and more elaborate, because otherwise how could she justify spending her mornings standing on a balcony staring at he who was only a soldier?

One afternoon, her father the King came to her as she sat reading in the garden. "Darlin', I come to you with important news."

"What is it, Papa?" She turned to him, eagerly smiling. He sat down next to her on the stone bench.

"The Heir to the Emperor of Japan has come to visit us in the palace," said the King. "He's a kind and intelligent man with many interests, both physical skills and intellectual pursuits. He'll make a fine leader for his people, and I'm sure his father the Emperor is very proud of him--just as I'm proud of you."

The Crown Princess blushed and bowed her head happily, but she was suspicious. "And what has this to do with me?"

"The Heir to the Emperor of Japan seeks your hand in marriage. It's a good match, and it will foster continued friendship between the nations." The King watched her face closely. He loved his daughter very much, and wanted her to be happy, but he believed this was the wisest route to such a fate.

"Papa, I know he is a good man and has many interesting hobbies, and I can call him a friend, but I don't *love* him. He doesn't--well--you know."

"You are very young, Janice. You should know that love grows out of friendship, not attraction." He took her hand.

"So I am told." She looked off into the distance.

"There is talk in the palace that your favors have found another home," he said delicately.

"Yes," she confessed.

"Is it the Captain of the Guard?"

"Yes."

"You are a princess, Janice. Your life is not meant to be bound with that of a common soldier."

"He's not common, Papa!" she protested with tears in her eyes. "He fights so well with a sword..."

"The Heir to the Emperor of Japan is quite the elegant swordsman," said the King.

"I can't help it when I see the way James smiles..." The Crown Princess played with the hem of her garment nervously and looked off into the distance.

"Think about it, Darlin'. You've got sense." The King stood up and walked off, leaving her sitting there alone, and she began to sob.

She was still gloomy that night when one of her handmaids came to her to lay out her night-clothes. "Your Highness, pardon me for my forwardness, but what troubles you?" said the young woman with almond eyes and olive skin.

"I am hopelessly in love," sobbed the Crown Princess into her handkerchief. "It's foolish, really..."

"Love is never foolish. Some say it is the only truth," said the handmaiden.

The Crown Princess looked up at her, blinking tears from her eyes. "T'Pring, what shall I do?"

"You love James," said T'Pring.

"Yes. But my father says I must marry the Heir to the Emperor of Japan." The Crown Princess blew her nose into the handkerchief and sat down on the large four-poster bed in her boudoir.

"I have the same troubles, Your Highness," said T'Pring. She sat down beside the Crown Princess and, with her deft fingers and long fingernails, began to undo the intricate weaving of the Princess's silken yellow hair. "Her Majesty the Queen, your mother, has power over whom and when the servants in her palace are to be married. She has declared that I marry Spock, who serves your beloved, Captain James."

"And you do not love him?"

"I do not love him," T'Pring verified. Her nails slithered through the Princess's hair, scraping slightly against her scalp. The Princess shivered.

"What will you do?"

"I do not know. I do not think I can bear being joined with a man I barely know." T'Pring leaned closer to the Princess's neck, and her breath fell upon the Princess's skin like evening mist. The Princess was silent, her breathing deepening. "You do not know your James in person, your Highness, is that correct?"

"Yes," the Princess admitted.

"Nor I his Spock," T'Pring continued. Her hands moved away from the Princess's hair and began to gently massage her shoulders. Rivulets of sensation streamed down the Princess's back, and thought began to flee her mind.

"I've watched the captain for so long, I feel as if I *know* he is a good man."

"Have you ever spoken to him?"

"Not as a friend," the Princess admitted.

"Imagine what surprises could lurk. How much about his nature have you invented out of your own pretty wishes, Your Highness? If I may beg your pardon for asking."

"I don't know what to do," the Princess murmured in the tiny voice that escaped the well of sensation. "Everywhere I turn there are people trying to control my life, and suddenly you've made me see that James could be just as bad as they are. I don't know him; I've barely even met him. He may be beautiful, but would he be worthy of love? *My* love?" Tears began to form in her eyes as panic welled in her breast.

"Do not weep, your Highness. I have a plan."

"You do?"

"We must escape from the palace and make a new life."

"I could never leave my family," the Crown Princess protested. T'Pring continued her caress.

"They will seek to control you all your days, just as they control me. You may be the Crown Princess, but you have no more freedom than a servingmaid."

The Crown Princess was silent for a long time, then looked down. "If we take my jewels, we will have money to live until we can find work," she said finally.

T'Pring painted deep caresses down the Princess's arms, from shoulder to wrist, and took both her hands. "I will be there with you, your Highness," she whispered strongly. "And Spock will give us horses."

The Crown Princess shuddered into her. She wanted very badly to be touched right now. "Call me Janice. Please."

Janice fell back into T'Pring's body as the handmaiden's hands closed over her breasts.

As dawn was creeping over the castle, two shadowy figures met just beyond its walls. "Have you spoken with her?"

"I have," said T'Pring, sotto voce.

"What did she say?"

"She will come."

"With the jewels?"

"Every one." The woman smiled invisibly in the darkness of the shadows. Her voice grew almost inaudible. "I bear your child."

He kissed her forehead. "I can barely contain myself, T'Pring. I have waited so long to hold you."

"The time is soon. I am yours. And I will never marry Spock."

"Will he come after you?"

"He will not stand in our way."

"Good." He kissed her for many moments. As they parted, the sky lightened slightly, casting a dim gray light over his large ears.

The man called Spock was polishing a suit of armor belonging to his master when he noticed a woman standing in the doorway. Sunlight flooded in around her dark silhouette. "Spock." She greeted him in a calm voice.

He rose to meet her. "Good morning, T'Pring."

"The Queen has ordered us to marry," said T'Pring.

Spock nodded. "I am aware of that. What are your thoughts on this matter?"

"I am prepared to make you a fine wife." She paused. "Your heart, however, lies elsewhere, I believe."

For a moment, Spock's eyes darted to the empty suit of armor. Longing suffused his face. Then he returned his gaze to T'Pring, stoicism restored. "I will do my duty to you as an honorable husband."

"We will make a handsome couple," said T'Pring, "but will not wait in the shadow of your devotion."

"My loyalty lies with the captain."

"He will never love you." She took a step closer. "He cannot love the way we can. He is a warrior, facing death at every turn. He cannot afford to put his cares in any one individual."

Spock looked down into the corner. Clearly, he'd had the same fears that she had voiced.

"Leave with me, Spock." She was now close enough to be heard at a whisper. "Come away from the palace. I will help you forget."

"We cannot escape unseen," Spock pointed out.

"The Crown Princess will help us," said T'Pring. "At the sight of her seal, the drawbridge guards will let us pass, without seeing who we are."

"What do you require of me?" His stone face hid his breaking heart.

"Be waiting at nightfall at the peach orchard with two strong, fast horses." She reached out one hand and squeezed his bicep. "Strong and fast, like you."

The Captain of the Guard flipped out of his somersault and sprang instantly into a fighting stance. Someone had walked in on him mid-roll, and he was ready for anything.

But it was only T'Pring, one of the Crown Princess's serving maids. "I apologize for the interruption, Captain."

"That's all right," he said genially, walking across the lawn to her. Sweat shone from his sun-speckled face. "Beautiful day, isn't it?"

"I would love to enjoy it in your company," she replied demurely.

"I think I can manage that!" He smiled at her as he took her hand. "Nothing like an afternoon walk to revel in Nature's beauty and relax the muscles. And it's always more pleasant with agreeable company," he added to her.

They walked amidst the rose gardens for a time, talking of their childhood memories and favorite songs. But after a while, he became aware that she seemed a bit anxious. "What's troubling you?"

She bit her lip, then gazed deeply into his eyes. "Captain, I fear for the Princess. She may be in danger! I--I--" And she flung herself onto his chest.

James wrapped his arms around her comfortingly and rubbed her back. "Shh, it's all right. We won't let anything happen to the Princess."

She looked up at him. "Captain, I overheard two people talking of abduction."

"Two people? Who?"

"I didn't see them. They spoke in whispers. Captain, their plot was for this very night!"

"Don't worry, T'Pring. The Princess is safe as long as I'm alive. I prefer not to kill, but if her life or liberty is in danger, or any of the royal family's, I will do what I must."

"Thank you..." T'Pring fell once again on his chest. Then she cast her face upwards. "I know we will be safe, because of you." She kissed him slowly, then pulled away. "Forgive me. I was overcome."

He merely smiled. "Shall we continue our walk?"

At supper in the great palace dining hall, the Crown Princess filled her middle in preparation for the journey that lay ahead. The King and Queen had seated her next to the Heir to the Emperor of Japan, and he tried to entertain her with bits of trivia about the victuals they consumed, followed by a verbal dissertation on the nature of folklore.

The Princess would have found it very interesting--indeed, he was not a boring man--but her mind had floated off into the future. She counted the minutes until she could run off into the night with the olive-skinned serving maid who had stolen away her every last kiss. Images of T'Pring's eyes, her lips, her hands, her slender body, flowed through the Princess's blood and she felt them with each beat of her heart.

"Lemons," the Heir was saying with a big smile on his face as he held one in the air, "prevent scurvy, for example."

T'Pring's eyes were round but tapered like the lemon he held. The Princess had felt like she was drowning in them last night, but she had never expected drowning to feel so good.

They would leave the palace, and travel into a world of freedom and promise.

The Heir watched her as she ate her dessert slowly, her mind clearly someplace else. He felt a pang of sorrow, like a mouthful of sour lemon, as he meditated on her feelings for him. She was his friend, but he wondered if he would ever be able to truly win her.

It was night. A sliver of moon shone like a shard of broken crystal from the endless black dome of the sky. Under its winking gaze, the Crown Princess stood upon the balcony beyond the door to her chamber. She wore a black velvet cloak, and carried a sack made of brown leather. It was clutched to her chest, half to protect what was inside, and half as if the Princess expected the bag to protect ~her~.

For heavens' sake, she was certainly nervous enough--but excited. She was about to leave the palace and travel out into the world, away from all that sought to control her life. And she would be with T'Pring, that wondrous, intoxicating creature of flowing cocoa hair and lambent eyes.

The sound of light footsteps drew close behind her, and she turned her pretty blonde head to see T'Pring approach. The serving maid was cloaked in dark fabrics to blend in with the night.

T'Pring leaned into the Princess's face, her sweet, hot breath scented with lime wine, and asked her in a whisper, "Are you prepared?"

The Princess's dark eyelashes fluttered against her face. "Yes." Her voice quavered slightly.

"Have you packed?

"Yes, here are my things." The Princess hugged her leather bag more tightly. "We should be able to sell these jewels, one at a time, and live comfortably for a while. Hopefully in some faraway city we can find honest work. Perhaps we can become dressmakers, and use each others as models while we do our work."

"If that is our destiny," T'Pring replied demurely.

"Did you find a horse for us?"

"I have spoken with Spock. He is waiting for us in the peach orchard with two horses. He will ride with us beyond the palace walls, to ensure our safety, and then ride back on his own once we have begun our journey."

The Princess looked deeply into her eyes. "And he has your loyalty? He will not... tell my parents? Or his Captain?"

"He will do as I wish," T'Pring told her calmly. "But do not speak. To escape with no chance of discovery, we must remain absolutely silent."

"I understand."

"Do you have your royal seal to show the guards standing at the palace gates?"

The Princess patted the top of her bosom lightly with one hand, and T'Pring nodded with satisfaction. Then, hand in hand, they swiftly and silently rushed through the stairwells and out of the palace.

Spock was waiting for them in the peach orchard, disguised under a hooded cloak, standing hidden within the folds of the low branches and holding the bridles of two dark brown horses. He tried to force his heartbeat to quicken when he saw T'Pring, the way it always did at the approach of his dearest friend the Captain--but of course, hearts cannot be coerced. How convenient--yet how impossible--it would have been to forget that tonight he was leaving James Kirk's side, forever abandoning their strong friendship and his own fierce love.

His sensible side was pleased to see that indeed, the Princess had accompanied his future wife, meaning that thanks to her royal seal, they would be able to leave the palace. He could not imagine why the Princess would help them like this, but he hypothesized that T'Pring had cast her hopes upon her mistress and pleaded for her help. Not many seemed able to refuses T'Pring's beauty--or her logic.

Without a word, the three figures met on the dewy grass, and Spock helped both women onto one of the horses. Then, with leonine grace, he mounted the other horse. No sense in tiring out his horse early, as it would be carrying both him and T'Pring once they rode beyond the palace walls. The Princess would then safely ride the other steed back to the stable.

None of them spoke. T'Pring watched her equally beguiled companions closely, her hands delicately perched around the Princess's waist. Soon, they would leave the palace walls, where Captain Kirk would be waiting to "rescue" the Princess from her kidnapper. With the attentions of both Kirk and Spock occupied with fighting each other unawares in the darkness, Stonn would be unhindered in seizing Princess Janice and wresting the bag of jewels away from her foolishly heaving bosom. They'd leave her there, take both horses, and ride off into a glorious dawn full of rubies, diamonds, and soon, their child.

They rode to the great iron gate that led to the outside world, and two guards approached the horses suspiciously. The Princess soon banished their chariness, removing the royal seal from between her bosoms and showing them its shining silver crest. They moved away from the horses, bowing, and made ready to open the gate.

Beyond the gate, Captain James Kirk crouched behind a statue of Venus, waiting for the supposed kidnapper of the Crown Princess. He could barely see, but he could sense movement approaching. The clopping of horses' hooves put him on his guard, and when he heard the gate opening, he made ready to pounce.

Slowly, two large shapes walked through the open gate. Two horses. How many riders?

A cloud moved in the sky and shed more starlight on the scene, and Kirk could make out the figures atop the beasts. A man rode alone on one horse, and close by, the second followed, carrying two women. He saw the Princess's royal seal pendant glittering from the one in front, and saw that T'Pring's fears had come to fruition.

He wasn't sure who the second woman was--it could either be an accomplice kidnapper or one of the Princess's handmaidens, captured along with her for a greater ransom. It might even be T'Pring herself, poor maiden. He had no way of knowing at this distance, and in this darkness, and if he made his presence known, the man would very likely attack him.

Best to go for the man first, and put him out of the way. If the woman did prove to be an accomplice, she would be easy to defeat afterwards, being very slight of build. But hopefully she was simply another victim, and the rescue would be simple and quick.

Kirk waited for the opportune moment to leap from behind the statue. He wondered where his friend Spock had gone off; he'd looked for him for hours that night, yearning for his presence, but nobody had seen him or knew where he was.

He felt strangely empty, preparing to fight alone like this. Having Spock at his side in a battle not only helped him physically, but provided him with emotional support. He relished the team they were together. Now, here in the darkness by himself, he wondered with regret if he had ever voiced his thoughts of affection.

A night breeze fluttered, and Kirk felt cold. He drew his hood up over his head, shivering, and unsheathed his sword as soundlessly as possible.

He ran out from behind the statue and took a swing at the legs of the man's horse with the flat of the blade before any of the riders were aware of his presence. The horse recoiled from the strike and reared, neighing angrily. The man on the horse drew his own blade and tried to charge him, but Kirk had managed to frighten the horse beyond tractability. The man leapt from his horse, and their swords crossed with fearsome clangs.

Nearby, on the other horse, the two women shivered in frightened silence. The swordfighters were too wrapped up in their battle to notice a man appear from his hiding place behind the statue of Mars. The Princess's attention was turned towards the swordsmen, and she was unaware of his presence. T'Pring did her best to keep it thus.

Stonn was upon the Princess before she could see him. He wrapped a scarf around her face and dragged her sideways from her horse. As she screamed and struggled, T'Pring kicked her in the stomach. The Princess collapsed, her body bent with pain. She tried to scream for Spock, but the sword battle had traveled beyond a grove of trees, and he was too far away to hear her, especially muffled with the scarf as she was.

On the opposite side of the ash grove, Kirk faced his opponent over flashing silver blades. Their fight became almost a dance in its elegance and the exacting nature of the strikes. With a strange sinking feeling of dread, Kirk began to feel as if they were performing a choreographed battle. Both men's actions seemed too well-fit to each other's moves.

"Do I know you?" he called out, suddenly.

At the sound of his voice, the mysterious man suddenly froze, and dropped his blade. "Jim!"

The clouds in the sky floated eastward, and bared the moon. "Spock?" Kirk gasped in horror. "What have you done?"

"Why do you fight me?"

"How can you ask that!? You've betrayed--!" Kirk looked around him, and gestured with an outstretched arm back at the silver palace. "You've betrayed everything we fought for together. You've betrayed our oath to protect--you've betrayed *us*."

"Jim, I did not realize--"

"Stop." Kirk was breathing heavily, his face dripping with sweat. He held forth his hand. "Don't say anything more or I'll forget what you've done. I wanted so badly to call you 'friend'. But I won't let you take the Princess. I've sworn to protect this castle and its inhabitants, each and every one. I *thought* that included you." He added this last sentence bitterly as he flung away his sword.

He approached Spock with his hands balled into fists. He couldn't bring himself to attack Spock with a sword while he was unarmed, but he needed to do this all the same. It was his duty.

He realized his mistake when he threw his first punch. Spock caught both his wrists and flipped him over. He landed on the ground, twisted. Spock's strength was hidden in that thin physique; it was more than he had anticipated.

Spock bent over him, and instinctively, he reached for Spock's throat. Spock retaliated with a similar gesture, his own long, powerful fingers closing around Kirk's windpipe. But even as they fought to the death, Spock pleaded with him. "We weren't taking the Princess from the palace. She was to return when we had left."

"We?" Kirk choked out. "Who's--we?"

"T'Pring and I. She would only marry me if we left the palace."

"I thought you didn't love her! That's what you told me."

"She could give me a family. You--" Spock was silent.

"You never asked, Spock. I would have been your family. I'm telling you this as you destroy me, Spock.... I would have been..."

And he fell still and silent.

Spock drew back in horror, relaxing his grip on Kirk's throat. His fingers drifted up over Kirk's face, caressing the skin delicately. "Jim?"

Fear gripped him as never before.

Shaking with pain and terror, the Crown Princess lay huddled at the base of an ash tree. Stonn was holding her arms back with one hand, and he used the other to smash her head against the tree. Her elaborate hairdo shielded her somewhat from the force of the blows, but she was still dizzy and crying. T'Pring's arms were squirming about her middle, trying to get her to give up the leather bag containing the priceless rubies and diamonds she had brought with her. She clung to it with all her might.

She had gathered from the conversation of her two attackers what had really transpired that evening. As she fought for her own life, she prayed that Kirk and Spock wouldn't kill each other beyond the grove of ash. She berated herself with each passing moment that she had ever trusted T'Pring. Those hands that had brought her to such heights of pleasure only last night now scratched at her wrists with nails sharp as knives, drawing blood. The Princess howled.

"Stand guard, brigand!!"

A man jumped from the branches of a nearby tree, sword drawn. He was aiming for Stonn, but the kidnapper moved quickly out of the way. The man landed on steady, nimble feet and leapt around, brandishing a rapier so quickly that it sung.

And stung.

Stonn leapt and yelped. He hadn't even realized he'd been struck. The man chased him behind a clump of trees where the Princess couldn't see, and when the sound had died down, he was the only one who emerged. When he approached the tree where the Princess had fallen and aimed his blade at T'Pring, she relinquished her grip on the Princess's leather bag and scurried off into the forest in fear.

Confused, the Princess lifted her head to her rescuer. Blonde strands of hair fell all about her face, remnants of her beehive, now in disarray. "You saved my life," she murmured breathlessly.

"Anything for you, fair maiden," said the Heir to the Emperor of Japan.

He gathered her into his arms.

Spock returned to the palace by himself, leaving Jim's body behind, having not the strength to carry it after their strenuous battle. He would have killed himself on the spot, but he didn't have anything to write with, and he felt it important that the King and Queen should know what had happened. He wanted them to know of his guilt, and not think that his death had been as honorable as James Kirk's.

He looked for T'Pring as he walked, but he saw no trace of either her or the Princess, and assumed they had gone back to the palace in fear. They must have known what he'd done. If he had seen her, he would have told T'Pring that they had no future together. He could give her no love, and without his Captain, he could not exist.

He entered the palace and walked immediately to the King and Queen's evening salon. They often stayed up late to relax together, and most likely they would be there tonight, reading to each other or listening to a hired musician. He hated to interrupt their peace for something like this, but it could not be helped.

Spock walked through the double doors, inlaid with gold, to the evening salon. Inside, the King and Queen were standing up and engaged in an animated discussion with the Heir to the Emperor of Japan. The Princess stood closely by his side, and they were holding hands.

"Your Majesty, I shall be resigning my commission immediately--" Spock spoke clearly, and four heads turned to look at him curiously.

The King interrupted him. "Spock--"

"--so I would appreciate your making the final arrangements."

"Spock, I--"

"Your Majesty, please let me finish. There can be no excuse for my crime. I intend to offer no defense."

"Mr. Spock!" This time the interruption came from the queen. Her eyelashes batted in frustration.

"The Captain, as you have no doubt been informed, is--"

"Very thirsty!" James T. Kirk stepped in from a side doorway. His face was bruised and there was a large horizontal slash across his chest, but he was otherwise unharmed--and very, VERY alive.

"Captain--Jim!" Spock rushed to him and embraced him without another thought.

"I'm sorry I ever doubted you," Jim whispered, so that only the other could hear. "I'll never doubt you again."

"I will never leave your side," Spock whispered back.

The Princess stepped up to them both with large glasses of iced wine. "I apologize for inconveniencing you both," she told them. "My foolishness nearly cost you both your lives."

"He doesn't know," Kirk reminded her.

"The kidnapper was T'Pring," explained the Heir to the Emperor of Japan. He placed his arm across the Princess's shoulders protectively, and she snuggled into his warm, limber body. "T'Pring and some man she knew. They were trying to steal Janice's jewels."

"She lied to us all." Spock blinked back his astonishment.

"Yes, she was--very cunning," Kirk agreed.

"Her actions were flawlessly logical," said Spock, "for a heartless and deceitful goal."

After her adventure and experiences, the Crown Princess realized that she could indeed love the Heir to the Emperor of Japan. It was a truer love than her infatuation with either Captain Kirk or T'Pring, because it had grown up gradually from friendship. She had never realized, until that first, dashing embrace beneath the ash tree, that love could rise at such a slow-boil. The fact that it was her own choice made it all the sweeter for her free-spirited young mind.

They wed in the summertime and soon had a daughter. The King and Queen were pleased, and the young couple was ecstatic.

Kirk and Spock were married beneath the crossed swords of the guard company, and subsequently spent several hours alone in a tower together NOT strangling each other.

And far away in the depth of the ash grove, an evil creature named T'Pring built a home for herself, and raised a daughter, knowing that someday she would gain her revenge. She called the girl Valeris.