Hi guys! Just a heads up… this one is ANGSTY. Like, seriously. It deals with the dreaded xenopolycythemia and how that storyline might work in reboot land, which means there will be frequent mention to terminal illnesses and how they effect people in different ways. It's a fairly upsetting subject so please keep that in mind before reading.
It's complete, and ten parts long, so strap in for excessive h/c. This part lifts heavily from the episode For the world is hollow and I have touched the sky but will veer off fairly quickly.
"Stop being a baby!"
"Stop being so mean! I swear you actually enjoy this!"
"Yes, Jim, I enjoy your excessive whining so much that I go out of my way to schedule an appointment just so I can get my daily dosage." The hypo hit Jim firmly in the side of his neck, delivering a dose of vitamins and electrolytes. "You're dehydrated. Didn't we talk about that?"
Jim glared over his shoulder at the irritated doctor. "Actually we did. Remind me why I'm here again."
"I have to complete the ship's biannual physicals. Something your Yeoman was kind enough to remind me of only this morning." McCoy said, finally stepping back and allowing Jim to pull his shirt back on.
"She's efficient." Jim agreed.
"She's terrifying." McCoy shuddered, abnormally afraid of Janice Rand, Jim's shadow on the ship and the single reason his reports were filed on time. "Mark my words Jim, one of these days she'd going to smother you in your sleep and take over, and you can bet things would run a whole lot smoother."
Jim grinned. "Nah, that would be too much paperwork even for her. Spock on the other hand…" He bounded off the edge of the bed. "So can I go, Doctor McCoy?"
"The sooner the better." McCoy grumbled. "As soon as I get your file up-to-date I can do my last assessment and finally get five minutes to catch my breath."
"Hey, you mean to tell me there is someone on this ship who managed to avoid you longer than I did?" Jim felt slightly affronted that his reputation might be tarnished somehow.
McCoy swatted at him absently and shoved him towards the door. "It's mine, you ingrate. Now scram. Go make sure we aren't about to fly into an asteroid or something."
"For the last time, Bones. We're not going to fly into an asteroid." Jim said patiently. They'd had the same conversation dozens of times, if not more, over the course of their friendship. McCoy snorted in disbelief. "So once you're done with all your doctorly like duties, you gonna have dinner with me and Spock?"
"Why the hell would I want to do that?" McCoy grumbled. "Listen two you to bicker all night…"
"Spock and I bicker? Right. Sure. That's a yes then?" Jim said hopefully. An evening with Jim to moan at and Spock to argue with was exactly what McCoy needed. He'd been especially busy the last few weeks – on a ship the size of the Enterprise overseeing physicals for all crew members took some doing, even with a staff as large as McCoy's. "Bones?"
"Yes, fine. Now will you go away already?" McCoy huffed, turning his back on Jim to complete his report. "Tell Spock you're abnormally healthy despite your best attempts and fit to carry on gallivanting around the universe for another six months."
"Aye aye Doctor Bones! Dinner. Nineteen hundred. Don't make me come get you."
Jim bounced out of sickbay and into the corridor, but not before hearing Bones's parting comments "Damn fool infant."
"Captain, forgive me for saying so, but that is an abnormally large portion of food, even for someone with a metabolism as active as yours." Jim looked up as he balanced a bowl of peach cobbler on the edge of his tray, dislodging a glass of milk that Spock narrowly caught before it could spill.
"Huh? Oh, right. Bones is finally done with the crew physicals and I made him promise to come have dinner with us."
"I see." Spock said, clearly questioning Jim's sanity. "And that requires copious amounts of sweetened desserts?"
"You know Bones and his health kicks." Jim shrugged, following Spock towards their usual table. Technically he had his own private dining room, but he could count on the one hand the number of times he'd actually used it. He preferred eating here, with his crew, where anyone could and did approach him. "The guy needs to chill out and eat pie."
"Two portions of it?"
"One's mine. I'm Captain. The Captain can have pie if he wants to." Jim said defensively, drawing what he'd come to recognize as a look of extreme indulgence on Spock's face. That, and a twinkle in his eye. "You're screwing with me."
"How so, Jim?"
"Ugh, don't do that. Save your contrary Vulcanness for Bones, he needs a good argument." Jim protested, swerving to balance his overloaded tray as he navigated the galley.
"I understand your desire to provide the doctor with favorable portions of food, but is he not capable of carrying his own tray, or do you simply desire to make a fool of yourself in front of your crew?"
"You could help, you know." Jim suggested, finally able to deposit his load.
"And yet I find this infinitely more agreeable." Spock said, taking a seat opposite Jim.
"Remind me why I enjoy your company again?" Jim huffed, grinning into his glass as he downed ice cold water – see Bones, he listens!
Spock calmly set about arranging his utensils in order to eat, something he did in a manner as orderly and methodically as he did everything else. "I believe that blame can be ascribed to your high levels of masochism." Spock said without hesitation.
"Ouch." Jim held a hand to his heart. "Right in the ego."
"I do not believe the wound to be fatal." Spock said dryly.
"Where the hell is Bones?" Jim grumbled, looking around the galley for the doctor. "The sooner he gets here the sooner you can stop picking on me."
"It's a figure of speech and you damn well know it." Jim glared at his first officer. Spock got away with so much shit by pulling the 'I fail to understand this cultural reference' card. Hell, he'd lived on Earth longer than Jim had!
Jim was saved from what would no doubt have been a cutting response by the chime of his comm. "Kirk here."
A wide grin split his face. "Nurse Chapel! Is Doctor McCoy still down there with you? You can tell him from me his cobbler is going to be cold if he doesn't haul ass."
"Yes, sir, the doctor is still here. I…I just. Captain, you need to come down."
"Now?" Jim frowned. "Is everything alright?" She sounded…she sounded upset. Jim had known Christine Chapel to see through some horrific things and keep on moving without sounding even half as distressed as she did then.
"Please, Captain. It's an emergency."
Jim was up and out of his seat in less than a second. "I'm on my way."
"Captain-" Spock moved to follow but Jim shook his head.
"Report to the bridge, I'll be in contact if I need anything."
Spock nodded. "Yes Captain."
Jim didn't run – he never ran unless the situation absolutely demanded it, it panicked the crew to see their commanding officer running through the halls – but he double timed it to the lift and barked out a command to take him to sickbay, leaving Spock and his dinner behind. It wasn't like he expected people to pick up after him, but sometimes things just worked out that way.
His mind was in overdrive as he exited the lift, wondering why Bones hadn't been the one to call him. Sickbay was his domain.
He reached the main doors and stepped into the room, his presence going unnoticed by the only crew members inside.
Jim's chest went cold at the glassy sheen to Christine's eyes. She looked like she wanted to cry, and Bones…
Bones was yelling at her, and not in his usual blustering way. "What the hell did you do that for?" He demanded.
"You didn't give me any choice!" She snapped back. McCoy had his back to Jim, who could clearly see the tension in his friend's shoulders. Whatever happened, Bones was seriously upset.
"You had no right!"
"I told the Captain it is an emergency and he's coming down here." Christine said stubbornly. "He needs to know."
Jim watched as Bones's shoulders sagged. "Of course he does…but damnit, I needed some time."
"What time?" Chapel said, her voice softening to match McCoy's. "The information is automatically correlated and forwarded for his final approval. Did you want him to find out by reading some report?"
"No. Christ no." McCoy sighed. "But how the hell am I going to tell him? This will devastate him, Christine."
That did nothing to stem the rising tide of cold fear growing in Jim's chest. "Tell me what?"
Both doctor and nurse jumped at the sound of his voice. Jim was sure he wasn't imagining the guilty look on McCoy's face. "Jim-"
"Tell me what, doctor?" Because if Bones wanted to hide things from Jim, that was fine, but clearly this was something bigger, something that as Captain he needed to know.
Bones, who had never been very good at lying to anyone, least of all Jim, stood and squared his shoulders, his face a perfect mask of compassion and competency. It was the look he wore when dealing with patients who weren't Jim and therefore didn't warrant a lecture. "I completed the crew's physicals."
"I know." Jim said, waiting for the punch line.
"Everyone is fine. Fit as a fiddle really, with one exception." He met Jim's gaze unwaveringly. Bones was good at this, breaking bad news to people. Far better than Jim, who never seemed to have the right words to express himself.
"Is it serious?" Jim found himself asking. Of course it was serious. Chapel wouldn't have called him if it wasn't. Bones wouldn't be giving him the doctor special.
McCoy didn't blink. "Terminal. "
Jim forced himself not to react, already imagining the worst. McCoy said this would devastate him, and really anyone in his crew having such a condition would break his heart, but clearly it was going to be more personal. Someone he cared about. Someone he loved.
Uhura? Scotty? Was it Christine? Was that why she called? Was…was it Spock? "Tell me." He said, desperately not wanting an answer.
"It's xenopolycythemia, Jim." Bones said gently. "There is no cure."
"Who is it?"
Bones's shoulders slumped, barely noticeable if you weren't scrutinizing him as closely as Jim was. He looked like he was steadying himself to answer, and with his next words ripped a hole in the universe right beneath Jim's feet. "Me, Jim. It's me."