I don't own Star Trek.

This is going to be progressively dark so consider this a heads up. I mean really messed up occurrences. There are some definitely mature themes to this, and I'm not going to post warnings at the top of chapters, so keep that in mind.

Oh. And this will be slowly but steadily slipping into Kirk/Spock, so now's a good time to run away.

… … .. . .. … …

Jim laughed heartily, patting the alien leader on the back. Being Captain of the Starfleet flagship meant a lot of meetings and first encounters. The tall, thin man was a pale gold color, his braided hair silvery and his eyes like molten copper. The entire race was like that, long swishing tails and dragonfly wings included. They were very superstitious.

McCoy looked up from the little arm he was splinting, cheeks a dull red as his Captain made a joke at his expense. The small boy he was tending to had relaxed visibly though, making setting the bone much easier.

"There. It should be all better soon. Don't use it too much for a while though and no more crazy stunts like that last one." Bones chided, earning a small smile from the young alien.

"You are very good with children Healer McCoy." The tall leader firmly clasped his hand on McCoy's shoulder even as he offered a hand to help him up.

They were also a very tactile race.

Most of Jim's crew was just fine with that. Not so much with his First Officer though. When they first landed, Jim had made an effort to explain that Spock didn't like being touched, but the Vulcan brushed him off, telling him he would endure for the sake of the mission. It seemed the entire crew had taken it upon themselves to attempt to make him eat his words.

Spock and Uhura only ever exchanged small touches, but anyone looking would catch the way she brushed her fingers against his arm or shoulders as she walked past. He was much more reserved with touching her. Jim had only once managed to catch him gently pressing his fingers to her jaw line. The moment ended as abruptly as it began and they both headed their separate ways as though nothing had just happened.

Scotty had drunkenly stumbled into the Commander a few times and once threw his arm around his shoulder. The alien race was very liberal with their alcohol. Spock simply stood straight, finally offering to assist him to his quarters when he nearly slipped to the ground.

Sulu had sparred a couple of times with him for show. A wide variety of people gathered round to watch. Spock had the upper hand in hand-to-hand combat. Sulu was better with a sword. They were both impressive, much to Kirk's chagrin.

McCoy had been inclined to clap a hand on his shoulder any chance he could, relishing the chance to make him squirm. Jim noticed that he never touched bare skin though and was always careful not to linger. Whether it was because he feared the touch telepathy or because he wasn't near as evil as he made himself out to be, he wasn't admitting.

Chekov was another thing entirely though. He had taught the young ones a special hug obviously invented in Russia. It involved grabbing, latching on, and maintaining pressure. Mostly though it seemed to involve flinging yourself at a person and clinging tightly as you attempted to bear them to the ground. It hadn't actually started on the planet, surprisingly.

A few weeks prior, as their shift was ending, Chekov had proposed the crew of the bridge get together for some games. He was met with a resounding yes. Who could say no to that face? Well, other than Spock. Because that's exactly what he did.

Jim barely caught the slight tremble in Chekov's lower lip before the boy snapped back to his proper seating position, mumbling something about understanding. Not a minute later, Jim caught the slight movement in Pavel's shoulders and literally leapt from his seat.

"Chekov? Are you okay?"

The entire bridge looked over, and to the young navigator's embarrassment, his silent sobs broke out into loud bawling. Jim and Sulu both had tentatively reached for the boy, being the closest to him, but neither connected, not really sure what to do. Chekov was babbling incomprehensible apologies over and over until finally Spock's voice broke through his wails. Almost immediately the boy was reduced to quiet sniffling.

"I believe you are under the erroneous impression that I blame you for my mother's death. The only logical person to find fault in would be Nero. Your efforts saved the counsel, my father, and myself. As I have not yet properly thanked you for such, I shall do so now. Thank you."

The crew was dead silent through his speech. Chekov was practically glittering with pent up admiration, his eyes wide and sparkling and focused on the Commander. It was impressive to see him launch himself at Spock and fling his arms around him. It was more impressive that Spock didn't waver an iota at the impact.

It was just amazing when, rather than push him off or request he release him, Spock gently placed his hand on Chekov's arm, almost in a comforting manner. Exactly two seconds later he returned his hand to his side and six seconds after that Chekov let go of him, fully embarrassed. It was a rare occasion that the young navigator decided to fling himself at Spock, and the latter had never again reciprocated the gesture, but he didn't push him away either.

Doing that had earned Spock a little respect in Jim's eyes. It was good to know the Vulcan took into consideration the needs and feelings of his crewmates.

Jim watched in mild amusement as two young aliens attempted to tackle Spock from behind. One wrapped his arms around the Commander's waist, the other his knees. He didn't waver a bit, looking down at the little girl wrapped around his leg with what Jim imagined was one raised eyebrow. That was always the case.

"I've got a few more trouble makers to patch up. Don't make me come back here and have to deal with you too." McCoy growled, getting his attention as he stalked off with his medical bag.

He grinned in response. Bones was being run ragged by small children needing minor care. And he had to do it all the old fashioned way too, since the people there didn't believe in using science for healing, or something.

A heavy hand settled on his shoulder and Kirk glanced up at the leader with a smile. "He's really good at his job."

"He is." The man agreed, but his smile fell. "I am nearly convinced of the goodness to be found in your federation. It is a warm and welcome place, by most rights."

Kirk's grin dropped immediately and his brow furrowed. "Nearly? Is something wrong?"

The man hesitated before nodding slightly. "I would like to speak with you and your trusted."

Jim nodded, glancing over at Spock. Trusted. That was a funny word to use to describe their relationship, mostly because nothing could be more off. They all insisted on using that word to refer to him though, and he imagined it was a translating error. Maybe not though. It wasn't like he went about explaining their complicated working relationship to everyone he encountered.

Spock caught him staring and tilted his head inquisitively to the side. Jim gestured for him to come over and, with a slight nod, he detangled himself from the children and made his way to the pair. Before he could offer his greetings the leader turned on his heel and began walking. Silently, without exchanging a glance, the commanding officers followed him.

Jim wasn't really one for architecture, but he had been paying some attention to the buildings around him. This room was by far fancier than anything else he had witnessed on the planet. There were high arches and an impossibly tall ceiling made from a white, marble like stone. Rich tapestries of a surprisingly wide selection of colors spanned from roof to floor. The ground was a mosaic of stones, the pattern both pleasing and a little frightening in its complexity.

He couldn't even begin to fathom what they used the room for.

"Lord Vas'akeem?" Spock addressed the man directly.

"I am truly sorry to bother you." Vas'akeem murmured, glancing between the two, "But there is something my people find great concern over. I must ask your participation to subdue these doubts."

As he spoke, the counsel of his planet filtered into the room behind him. Two young scribes carried a flat box between them. Jim smiled at the girls as they nervously placed it down on a small table and looked at him and Spock. They blushed and quickly diverted their gaze to the floor, something Jim was minutely proud of having caused.

"What are we going to be doing?" Jim finally asked.

"Though you are both very open with your crew, there is a wall between you."

Jim glanced with surprise at Spock, who had turned his head to regard him coolly. Their eyes met briefly before darting back to the alien lord.

"Ooookaaaay..." Jim frowned slightly. "And?"

"It is a sacred ceremony that will allow us to judge that wall and should it be necessary, provide aid in lowering it."

"If this is what you deem necessary, and no harm will come to the Captain or myself, than you may proceed."

Jim glanced incredulously at Spock, but said nothing. If he wanted to volunteer to be open, than fine. A happy looking hug, some kind words, and they would probably be out of there. Instead, he nodded politely to the leaders. Immediately the two scribes opened the box, which was emitting a soft glow. Looking closely, Jim realized it was lined with a bioluminescent moss that was fairly common on the planet.

Just not in the pure white adorning the inside of the box.

The glow was enough to completely hide whatever was inside though, much to Kirk's annoyance as he had been trying to peer into it. With a touch of resignation, Jim snapped his eyes back to the leader. That was easy though because the man had turned to the box and reached inside. Kirk realized he had been holding his breath as the man's back straightened again and released it shakily.

The scribes stepped forward before the man turned back. Jim ignored the girl as she lifted his right hand with delicate motions. He was more interested in watching the way Spock stiffened in place, and very nearly yanked his left hand from the other girl as he lifted it himself. Just as quickly they stepped back, noticeably less distraught by his good looks.

Drat.

The leader turned around, carefully holding his hands flat in front of him. In each palm was a small piece of glowing white moss. Oh. Well that made sense. He approached cautiously and placed the moss in each of their outstretched palms. Jim looked down at it with surprise. It was cool, and his hand tingled ever so slightly where it touched.

Beside him, Spock made the same observations, noting the very soft, snow-like quality of the plant. If he was surprised when it rapidly started to heat, his face didn't betray it. Unlike Kirk, who was staring at it with wide eyed wonder.

The moss darkened, first around the edges where it touched their skin, but soon the entire thing was a dark grey. Little fissures of white light held their ground, like bolts of lightning etched into a dark sky. Jim couldn't help but think it was beautiful. The leader and counsel obviously didn't agree.

Clearly distressed murmurs broke out among the group and the leader was staring at them with a mix of horror and pity. A quick glance to his right revealed that Spock was no longer inspecting the mysterious moss, but rather the anxious crowd before them.

"What now?" Kirk asked, exasperated by the looks.

The leader nodded, frowning. "This is far worse than we thought. Far, far worse."

"Because the moss changed colors?" He ignored the subtle glare his Commanding officer was giving him for even asking the question.

"Yes…yes." The man gently took hold of their wrists, frown never falling. "Only the dream moss can decide now what is your punishment."

"Punishment?" Kirk yelped, dragging back on his hand, but not fully retrieving it from the other's grasp.

Spock had tensed immediately, shifting into an aggressive stance simply by slipping one foot gracefully back and lifting his other hand to his side for defense. The man stood up straight in alarm, eyebrows furrowed as his eyes rapidly darted back and forth, not really focused, as though he were searching for some piece of information.

His shoulders relaxed as soon as he found it. "No. I am sorry. Procedure…Decree. Not punishment."

Jim relaxed, but cast a nervous look at Spock, who had shifted immediately back to impassive. He looked back at his hand as Vas'akeem turned it over. He was momentarily fascinated with the fact that the moss didn't fall from his hand, even when turned over. That quickly dissolved into panic as he scrambled to yank his hand from the man, who simply gripped it tighter.

"No! Wait!" Kirk screeched, tugging with all his force.

How strong were these guys? Spock watched him indifferently, obviously not understanding what caused such panic. In spite of his struggles, Vas'akeem placed their hands in one another's. Spock stiffened at that, finally alarmed because of the prospect of touching.

"Your walls are your shackles." The entire room chorused, earning a shiver through the Captain's spine.

It was creepy as all hell. Even Spock's look darkened and he glanced cagily at their hands. The leader released them, stepping back. Like lightning, they both yanked their hands back to themselves.

Except…they didn't.

Not that Kirk was all that surprised. The second he realized it had somehow adhered to his hand, he recognized the potential problems with touching another person. Now, staring at their clasped hands, he could feel his stomach sink. He looked up into the pitch black eyes of his First Officer and tensed. Spock was furious. Kirk decided that wasn't such a bad emotion to focus on and allowed it to paint his eyes, blocking out anything else he might be feeling.

A small part of him registered he was being forced to hold the hand of a touch telepath.

"What have you done?" Spock's voice was the closest a Vulcan could come to a growl, which was surprisingly close.

"It was necessary." The leader defended. "We now know it will be safe to trust your federation."

"Well I'm not so sure we can trust you." Kirk spat, eyes a deep, churning blue. "You can't do this sort of thing! Even if it is common practice in your culture you never do this sort of thing without disclosure!"

"I…" Vas'akeem stared at him in alarm, wide eyes expressing fear and regret. "I am sorry. It was most necessary. And…you did agree."

"Indeed, Captain. It was foolish of me to accept their proposal without full knowledge of the possible consequences." Spock's voice was careful, no longer angry, but rather betraying nothing.

"We both were stupid about it." Jim admitted, shrugging a little. "But from now on you have to let people know these things even if they don't ask."

So much for righteous fury. That last part sounded exasperated. The counsel relaxed, offering them sheepish smiles, so Kirk beamed at them. At least this meant they'd successfully formed an alliance with the planet. Experimentally, he tugged at their hands again, earning a sharp look from Spock.

"How do we get this off?" Jim had brought their hands up to his face, inspecting their connection.

"You must lower your walls." Vas'akeem sounded so happy and proud as he informed them of that. "When you are open with one another, you will be able to move apart."

Jim eyed his stoic Commander warily. "And if we don't?"

The man blinked at them in confusion. "It is impossible."

"I'm…just going to ask Bones to take a look at it." He murmured thoughtfully, offering a weak smile.

"Should we not first sign the documents of your federation?"

"Right…right…uh…" He was pretty sure there was nothing in the books on how to handle this sort of thing.

Spock tugged him along, dragging him from his thoughts. The counsel was leading them from the room, no doubt to where they were keeping the treaties waiting to be signed. With nothing to really focus on, he found himself staring at their hands. How weird was that? Holding hands with Spock.

He was so dead. Assuming Uhura didn't kill him, Bones was going to. He needed the stupid moss off, now. He couldn't last a few hours with this, let alone god knows how long it would take. Spock was a touch telepath. And he couldn't be tethered to someone anyway. How would they perform their jobs? How would they handle normal daily activities? They were stuck with each other. All day. Every day. Until they figured this stupid thing out. If he weren't too busy smiling at the aliens, he'd be panicking.

He watched as Vas'akeem added the small disclaimer that cultural practices should be disclosed, by both sides, before subjecting others to them. With that, he signed off on it and handed it to Kirk, to look over. He'd already read it a dozen times and the little note didn't change much. He placed it down on the table and reached for the pen.

"Are you capable of signing documents with your left hand?"

Jim glanced up at Spock in surprise, even as he quickly put his name on it. "Yeah. I learned during the numerous times my arm was in a cast. I'm basically ambidextrous now."

"I was unaware you ever needed such a primitive healing method."

Jim flinched, grin faltering ever so slightly. "Yeah, well, not everywhere has the best care. Sometimes you just work with what you've got."

Spock inclined his head in acknowledgment, but his eyes studied their clinched limbs more closely. With the treaties signed, Jim took his copy in hand and sealed it in a special envelope. He tried not to chuckle at the old fashioned thing. Some things never changed.

"Alright. Now that we've got that all cleared up…" Jim smiled, retrieving the communicator from his belt. "Is it alright if I get Bones in here?"

"He will not try to remove it, will he?" Vas'akeem sounded mildly distressed.

"No. That probably isn't a good idea." Jim placated him. "But I have the tendency to be allergic to the weirdest things."

If it was at all possible, Spock stiffened even more at his side. "Are you experiencing a reaction?"

"No, but you never know. Best just let Bones look at it."

… .. .

McCoy was not pleased. Not at all. Jim sat patiently on a bench in the city's main gardens, giving Spock an amused look as McCoy turned blue. Eventually he was going to stop ranting and take a breath. Until then, he was going to remain amused.

"Damn it Jim!" Bones panted, huffing at him. "Do you ever think?"

"Heh. Occasionally. So what do you know about this stuff?"

Bones shook his head, look becoming serious. "Not much. You're not allergic, thank god, but there isn't much else I can tell you. I couldn't remove it even if I wanted."

Jim threw up his hands in defeat, successfully dragging Spock into the motion. "Damn. I'm not even really sure what they mean by 'be open' anyway. Sorry Spock."

"Your apology is illogical, Captain." Spock's shoulder was tense, no doubt to stop further movement of his arm without his permission. "Neither of us were aware of such a possibility."

"Well…yeah." Jim shrugged. "But still, you're a touch telepath. This can't be comfortable."

Spock quirked an eyebrow at him, seemingly amused. "I am capable of contact without reading your mind."

"Yeah," Bones slapped Jim on the shoulder. "You should be more concerned with the fact that you're basically making out."

Spock's ears flushed lightly with green as he narrowed his eyes on McCoy. Jim glanced between them quickly, then darting his eyes down at their hands.

"What?"

"I believe Doctor McCoy is referring to a traditional Vulcan kiss, consisting of pressing the first two fingers together." If Jim were brave enough, he'd rake his free hand through the air with a catty 'merow'.

As it was, his face reddened noticeably. "Oh. Sorry. Wow. Uhura's going to kill me."

McCoy burst out laughing, clutching his sides. Jim would kick his shin, but the man looked like he could use a good laugh. Spock straightened his spine indignantly. It really was fascinating just how straight he could get his spine.

"Lieutenant Uhura is not predisposed to violence."

"I was joking." Kirk sighed, rolling his eyes. "Don't pretend you don't at least know what that is."

"You see. That damned hob-goblin is doing it intentionally." Bones lifted himself from the ground, brushing dirt from his pants.

"I guess we should get back to the ship, figure out what were going to do and write up that official report." Jim sighed, attempting to stretch with only one arm.

"Yeah. Good luck figuring out that whole showering thing. I guess you'll need to replicate a few shirts with fasteners on the side too if you want to change." Bones grin widened proportionally to the look of horror on his Captains face.

… .. .

Jim loved his crew. He really did. Sure, when they found out what happened they gave him hell, but it settled down and soon the entire ship was in on some contest to see if they couldn't figure out how to separate them. Uhura hadn't been upset, which confused him. If anything, she was the one most amused by the whole situation.

She kept giving them a knowing look, which was infuriating because Jim had no clue what she knew.

The reports were finally done and he had sent off everything relevant. Pike was going to tease him to no end once he found out what happened. Spock had insisted on a few tests before the day was over, so they spent most of the evening in the science labs, prodding their hands.

Now, he was overseeing a cot being put up in Spock's room. When it came down to deciding where they would spend the night, Jim immediately said his room was out of the question. Between his bookcase, his souvenir cabinet, his chess table, and his work desk, there was barely room for his bed in there, let alone one for Spock too. Spock only had his bed, a desk, and a meditation mat in his room.

With a weary smile, he nodded to the maintenance crew as they left. Spock was looking the room over, satisfied that everything had been put up properly. Jim tugged at the collar of his shirt, trying desperately to ignore the heat in the room. His clothes were already plastered to his skin uncomfortably, but he wasn't about to ask Spock to turn down the temperature in his own room.

The half-Vulcan was watching Jim though, eyes following a bead of sweat as it slid down his temple to drip off of his jaw. He set his mouth firmly, heading farther into his room, tipping Kirk off balance as he did.

"Computer. Lower temperature by three degrees."

Jim snapped his head up, peering curiously at him. "You didn't have to do that."

"Affirmative."

"So…this is awkward." Kirk continued, hoping to have more conversation then they had managed for the entirety of the day.

"I am incapable of such a distinction, Captain."

"Bull." Kirk snorted, flopping down on the cot, tilting Spock with the motion, but not successfully destroying his balance. "It's awkward. We both know it."

Spock shifted to sit on his own bed, which was only a few inches from Jim's cot. "We should prepare for rest. We have approximately 9.73 hours until the start of our shift and you require 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep. I would suggest 8 hours for optimum performance as well as time for us to adequately prepare in the morning."

"Yeah, yeah. What about you?"

"Vulcans do not require as much sleep at Terrans. I will spend the majority of the morning meditating after I wake."

Jim flinched. "I'd rather you'd not."

"Captain?"

"I…no…never mind." He looked away from Spock's eyes, surprisingly warm and chocolate-y when he was analyzing something.

"You fear I will attempt to read your thoughts in your sleep, when you are incapable of refusing me. I will not." Spock sounded ever so slightly like he were surprised Jim would think that.

The look on his face when Jim glanced up guiltily clearly said he thought the Captain was an idiot. He was even a little affronted. His brown eyes didn't harden though, so Jim assumed he was forgiven for his mistrust.

"Sorry." Jim flashed a cool, charming smile.

Spock quirked an eyebrow at him, but said nothing. Glancing down at his shirt, Jim hissed in distaste. How the hell was he supposed to get that off? As if reading his mind (which Jim firmly reminded himself he wasn't) Spock peeled his own shirt most of the way off before silently ripping the sleeve and tossing it aside to be disposed of in the morning. Jim flushed, but copied the motion.

"You know, I don't usually end up stripping in front of people just to sleep." Jim joked, awkwardly avoiding looking at Spock.

The latter raised both his eyebrows incredulously. "Captain-"

"That was inappropriate, sorry." Jim interrupted. "I…yeah…we should get to sleep."

Spock nodded, peeling back his sheets and settling into bed. Jim stretched out on his cot, still too warm to even consider blankets. With a quick command, the room was pitched into darkness. The awkwardness was even worse in the dark. Jim was acutely aware of Spock's hand in his own, linking them through the shadows. He could hear his breathing, perfectly steady and deep.

It was unbearably distracting.

He shifted awkwardly, trying to find a comfortable spot without jostling their arms too much. His shoulder popped from one awkward motion and he cursed softly. He rolled onto his side towards their hands and blinked in surprise to see Spock staring at him. His dark eyes were gleaming with something akin to curiosity. Jim was glad for the darkness, because he was sure he was blushing.

"You are experiencing discomfort."

"Wonderful observation." Jim rolled his eyes. "I'll get to sleep eventually, don't worry about it."

"…I was merely observing."

"Well don't do that either. It's hard to sleep with someone watching me." Jim chuckled, letting his eyes fall closed.

"My apologies. I will stop."

With a final sigh, Jim let a fitful sleep wash over him, slipping into a restless slumber.

… … .. . .. … …

So yeah. That's the first chapter.

It seems Jim's shirts really can't survive a mission…