Summary: Jim's having a nightmare, so Spock decides to fix it with a meld.
Based on Mrs Spock's h/c challenge and Gamin Davis's "caramel" challenge on KirkSpockFriendsForever.
Archived in Side by Side #12, AAK/SA, ASC/EM, and anywhere else that asks permission.

Stuck on You

h/c by Farfalla; PG
blueberrysnail @ yahoo.com

Beta: Hypatia Kosh and Gamin Davis

Jim Kirk twitched, groaned, and thrashed on the bed. His eyes were closed in sleep but his subconscious was working full-force. It was clear that his dream-mind was running the show, and from his twisting and turning and expression of distress, it could be assumed that he wasn't enjoying himself.

Spock watched him critically as he paced the floor just beyond the bed. He suspected the day's tragedies and excesses had brought his t'hy'la to this state, caught in the throes of some unknown nightmare. Vulcans never dreamed, the result of careful daily meditation and the absolution of decadence in lifestyle. Spock himself had only eaten one piece of candy that day, and had practiced his usual meditation before attempting sleep.

But Jim--

Admiral Kirk had felt so sorry for the children they'd rescued that day, hiding in the mountains just beyond the ill-fated Kuridia II colony. With their supplies dwindling and their population decimated by disease, the adults of the tiny camp had turned on each other--and then on the children. The less people that were left, the more supplies remained for the survivors, went the cruel logic. As the colony went up in smoke with the last of the adults' infighting, the Enterprise, passing through, detected a subspace distress signal and came down to investigate. Luckily, they'd been able to retrieve all of the children, who'd run away together as soon as their lives were threatened.

Kirk empathized greatly with them, because their situation seemed so similar to the disaster he'd led his friends out of when he was a youngster back on Tarsus. For the rest of the day after the rescue, he kept the children company in one of the rec rooms. They played games, sang songs, looked at pictures of Earth and other wondrous worlds on the computer, and talked about life in space. Kirk taught them what life was like in Starfleet, and shared some of his adventures. And they'd eaten a lot of candy.

Not just candy, of course. There were hamburgers and fried potatoes and cold fruit and cheese, and Dr. McCoy made sure they each had a shot of vitamins first thing, but the appetites of the day had been ruled by the sweet tooth. Spock, popping in to check on Jim when he'd relinquished the bridge to Sulu for the night, had been persuaded by the smallest of the children to try ~just one~ piece of the sticky brown confection known as "caramel".

"This is pure sugar," Spock said carefully, a little concerned.

"I know," said the little girl gleefully.

Spock didn't know how many of the caramels Jim had eaten, but he suspected the amount far exceeded what was prudent. Perhaps Jim had been trying to drive away the demons of his own memories with a bombardment of candies. Spock didn't know. But he did know that the man before him on the bed was miserable, and despite being asleep was not resting at all.

A Starship is dependent on the alertness of its captain for swift judgment and intelligent action. Although their mission was relatively simple--transport the rescued children to a family services colony--space was full of the unexpected and the bridge crew needed to be ready for any adventures that might come up. If Jim's mind was too tortured by his long-buried memories of Tarsus, if he did not rest tonight, he would be irritable and distracted on the bridge tomorrow.

Spock decided to take matters into his own hands, quite literally.

He sat down on the bed beside Jim and steepled his hands, clearing his thoughts to prepare for a comforting meld. He would join his mind with Jim's, and soothe away whatever nightmares plagued him so that he could sleep through the night.

"My mind to your mind," he murmured as his fingers fell into their familiar place on Jim's sweaty temple.

The world winked out and he was sucked into the chaotic universe of Jim's nightmare. As the images cleared around him, Spock was astonished not to recognize the Tarsus colony, as he had expected, but instead, the rec room in which Jim had spent the day bonding with the children. The children were gone--besides Spock, Jim was the only person in the room.

And he was covered in caramel, flailing for his life. A six-foot chunk of it, to be more specific. And it was growing.

It seethed and lurched like a living mass, rolling across the room slowly like an advancing glacier in a geological time-lapse simulation. Jim's head and hands poked out of the brown goo, waving desperately, but it didn't look possible to manage an escape. The expression on his face was one of pure panic.

Spock strode quickly across the fantasy room to his trapped friend, in reality pushing their spirits closer together within the meld. Jim noticed that Spock was there, and a grateful expression of affection flashed across his face briefly. Then it was gone, and he shouted, "Spock! I--can't escape! Get out of here! It'll get you next."

"I am aware of the risk," Spock said evenly. He was. He knew that his own sanity could be damaged by this sort of intimate contact with someone in mental distress, but he trusted his own skill and his deep harmony with Jim, and was confident in his ability to send away the distressing images.

"I can't let it get you..." Jim protested, but it was ignored. Spock had crossed the room and now he grabbed Jim's wrists in both of his hands. He tugged with his beyond-Human strength, but was unsuccessful. Then he tried to will the caramel away, but his own mind couldn't directy manipulate that which was created, however unwillingly, by Jim's subconscious. Negative.

Suddenly Spock felt his legs lose their freedom, and he looked down to find with dismay that the caramel mass had absorbed both of his feet up to the ankle. He looked back up at Jim, whose brow was furrowed with alarm.

"Jim," Spock said, but didn't say anything else. He was thinking.

He couldn't move the caramel himself, directly, but he could create something within the dream that would act upon it to achieve the desired effect. What was it Humans drank to wash down sweets when they overindulged?

Ah, yes.

"Jim, are you thirsty?"

"What?"

Spock concentrated his imagination and visualized milk. Lots of milk. Gallons and gallons of it, pouring in like creamy white rain from the air vents near the ceiling. Jim looked up with amazement and then back to Spock. "Milk?"

"To wash it down," Spock explained, for some reason suddenly reminded of his mother.

Jim grinned as he understood. Although the logic of dreams did not match the logic of the real, waking world, their internal logic was usually consistent. Milk would dissolve the caramel, and rescue them from their sugary prison.

The milk splashed down upon the deck and began to fill the room. Spock worked the caramel around his feet and found it quickly break up as the liquid force of the milk started to wash it away. He let go of Jim's wrists and worked at some of the caramel surrounding Jim's torso, helping the milk do its job.

Once Jim's arms were free, he had no problem wiping the rest of the caramel from his body. But now both he and Spock were floating up to their arms in a sea of milk, which stretched beyond the open door of the rec room and probably filled this empty dream-representation of the Enterprise.

"Now what, Mr. Spock?" Jim's mental state seemed much improved, the demons of indigestion driven from his brain.

The two of them looked around, taking stock of their situation. Spock had stopped willing milk down from the vents, so their wasn't any danger of drowning. "You need your rest, Jim," Spock said softly and reluctantly.

"I've barely seen you all day," Jim countered. "We've got five minutes to take a swim. Come on! When are we ever going to get another chance to ~swim~ through the halls of the Enterprise?" He smiled winningly, which Spock could not wish to refuse.

Jim took Spock's hand under the milk, and they swam off to the bridge.