He was taking too long.
Khan stood atop a building in the heart of Paris; looked out at the cityscape.
It was a beautiful morning. The sun was still coming up; painting the slightly cloudy sky with reds, violets, and pinks. When he looked down, Khan could see people in a small park walking their dogs; feeding pigeons; participating in a variety of other tasks average people embedded into their average morning routine before departing for work.
The terrorist frowned. Perhaps he could wait until the following night: when fewer people would be on the streets; the casualty rate could be suppressed…
They would not take him seriously if he appeared to be minimizing casualties. This was one of the busiest hours of the day for his intended target...
...It had to be done...and it had to be done now.
Khan pulled a PADD out of his coat; tapped out the detonation code.
The ground shook as a fireball blossomed a few blocks away; even from a distance, the sound was horrendously loud.
The people in the park below looked up. Some froze in terror. Some screamed; sprinted away, clutching their pets; their children.
...And a small handful of people ran towards the blast.
He admired their ability to fight their primal fear; to attempt to save strangers at risk to their own lives.
...Strangers he had intentionally sacrificed in the hope that his family could soon be free.
The terrorist put the PADD away; pulled out his personal transporter; beamed away as sirens began to blare, and dark smoke billowed across the Paris skyline.
When the white lights of the transporter receded, he was back in his quarters on the Botany Bay.
The killer put the transporter on the small desk in his room; shrugged his coat off his shoulders; draped it over his chair.
Khan sat on the edge of his bed; took a deep breath in; out.
...It was done.
Starfleet would not be able to hide this incident as it could attacks that happened on faraway outposts. This time, there would be news coverage; inquiries into who was responsible; calls for action to prevent further atrocities.
...All of which would be useless, if the Federation did not release his people.
In that case, a vicious cycle would begin. One in which many more people would die needlessly over a war they had no part in; a war many of them would object to.
The killer huffed. Was that not typically the case? Civilians always suffered for the actions of their leaders.
...But in his first war, hundreds of years before, he had managed to keep civilian casualties to a minimum. To attack them had always seemed like the fastest way to make needless enemies.
Maybe that was why this attack had left such a bitter taste in his mouth: he had no idea how many enemies he had just made, and those new enemies had done nothing to deserve that status. Even McCoy had given him far greater cause for...
With a curse, Khan rose; left his quarters; headed for the medbay.
McCoy's broken bones still needed mending, and the killer had not left the man in a position to treat himself.
Breaking McCoy's arm had been a calculated risk; one that Khan had planned to mitigate by immediately fixing the injuries...perhaps he should have...
Khan growled; continued down the corridors.
He would not feel remorse over breaking the doctor's leg. McCoy was a prisoner; from time to time, he needed to be reminded of his place. It was the doctor's violent resistance to treatment that had forced Khan's hand yet again.
He doubted his captive had attempted to move in the past few hours: a broken leg would easily thwart any possible thoughts of escape.
The killer grimaced; shook his head; kept moving.
...Nitika might have felt pity for McCoy...but Khan was not Nitika. He did not have the luxury of seeing the world through her pacifistic eyes; he could not afford her compassion...even if the doctor's screams refused to leave his mind.
Khan finally reached the medbay door; opened it; scanned for his captive...and immediately tilted his head in surprise.
...He had to admit, it was a bit impressive.
McCoy had actually managed to leave his biobed and drag himself over to the shelves...all with one good arm, and a broken leg. The amount of pain he must have endured to make it to the shelves would have been astounding.
...The killer wondered how long had it taken McCoy to realize Khan had moved the Numanol, dermal regenerator, and bone knitter to the top shelf. He could only imagine what the doctor's reaction must have been to that discovery...
There was an emergency splint and roll of bandages lying, abandoned, on the ground next to the doctor. Apparently setting and wrapping his own arm without painkillers had proven too agonizing a task to complete; instead, McCoy's broken arm rested...if not comfortably, at least securely...in a sling made from his blue outershirt.
The doctor tensed; turned his head towards his captor. McCoy's right eye was swollen shut, but his left stared up with a silent plea for...mercy.
...Khan could not suppress the wave of guilt that look sent through him.
He had been too harsh.
Yes, the doctor's agony had had its intended effect on Kirk...but McCoy had shown a conscious effort to comply with Khan's requests for days before the incident; undoubtedly with the belief that his captor would not harm him if he behaved.
Khan had broken that...trust...by giving McCoy a broken arm that he had not earned; the doctor's rebellious outburst had been an...understandable...reaction to the unprovoked trauma. A part of Khan had known this...but still, he had lost his temper; broken McCoy's leg...and undoubtedly turned their barely lukewarm relationship frigid once again.
The only way to mend that rift would be time...and far more self–control on his part.
...But for now, he could at least tend to the physical damage.
"You should have stayed in bed, doctor," Khan shook his head. "You might have made things worse."
Khan crossed; crouched to his captive's eye level.
McCoy curled his uninjured leg close to his chest; stopped before it could bump against his wrapped arm...but did not attempt to retreat. A decision that was definitely for the best.
There were lines of half–dried tears cutting through the sheen of sweat on McCoy's face; his breath shuddered.
Khan gave the man a concerned look.
"Are you ready to let me help you?"
McCoy swallowed; closed his good eye; he gave a faint nod.
The killer rose; grabbed a hypo of Numanol from the top of the bookshelf above McCoy; a pair of scissors from the middle of the shelf.
Hopefully, he could keep the man conscious throughout his treatment. Khan's experience with modern medicine was still relatively limited, and he preferred to utilize McCoy's expertise as much as possible.
The killer dropped back down to his captive's level; the doctor's eyes were still closed.
Khan paused. McCoy had been in a great deal of pain for quite some time; long enough for any adrenaline to have worn off...perhaps a test of his coherency was in order.
He toyed with the hypo. "I will numb the pain before I attempt to move you, doctor. One CC of Numanol at the source of each injury, correct?"
McCoy's good eye opened; his eyebrows shot up in alarm.
"Three. Always at least three for breaks...or it might not last long enough for the bone knitter. And the top of the hand's close enough. Ya don't have ta undo the whole sling: just pull back the cloth 'round the hand...It's three CC's. Please."
...That seemed coherent enough.
Khan gently moved the cloth around McCoy's swollen hand; frowned when he noticed an indented strip of skin around the doctor's left pinky finger.
"Where is your ring?"
"Here." McCoy winced; held up his right hand. The familiar band glinted on the doctor's right pinky. "Had ta switch 'fore it got stuck."
"I see…then I assume you will also be needing anti–inflammatory medication as well?"
"...That'd be great."
Khan nodded; checked that the hypo of Numanol was set to three CC's; pressed the it into the doctor's hand; felt him flinch.
"How many CC's of the anti–inflammatory?"
McCoy grimaced. "It's...pretty bad. Go with four."
Khan grabbed a hypo of anti–inflammatory medicine; treated the doctor's hand. He tucked the hand back into the sling; moved to the man's right leg, readied the scissors.
The killer paused; looked up. "What is it?"
McCoy grimaced. "I haven't...I just need a sec..."
"It needs to be done," Khan urged. "The longer it goes without treatment––"
"Why do ya think I dragged myself 'cross the freakin' floor?!" McCoy snapped; cringed. "I'm sorry..."
Khan exhaled. "It is fine, doctor. You are still in a great deal of pain. Are you ready now?"
His captive took a deep breath; nodded.
The killer cut McCoy's left pant leg up to the knee; revealed a swollen and bruised limb.
The doctor glanced down; quietly whimpered.
"Focus, doctor: how much Numanol, and how much of the anti–inflammatory?"
McCoy closed his good eye; rested his head against the bookshelf.
"...The same. For now. I can't tell how displaced the bone is like this...might need more later on."
Khan treated the doctor's leg; the swelling immediately began to subside.
"Works fast," McCoy muttered; relaxed slightly. "...All this crap works fast."
The killer was not certain what point the doctor was attempting to make...Perhaps McCoy was slightly delirious after all…
He put the hypos on a shelf; rested a hand on his captive's right shoulder.
"Let's get you to your biobed."
McCoy nodded his consent; Khan hooked an arm under the man's knees; another behind his back; lifted.
The doctor tensed; groaned; his right hand latched on to Khan's shoulder in a death grip.
The killer paused. "What is wrong?"
McCoy took a deep breath in; out through his nose; his hand unclenched.
"...Too fast. Got queasy for a sec."
...That could have been...unpleasant.
"My apologies...I will be more careful."
The killer carried his captive back to the middle biobed at a deliberate pace he hoped would prevent further discomfort.
"...How many this time?" McCoy mumbled.
Khan suppressed a grimace. He honestly did not know how many people his bomb had killed...
"I was not in a position to count. More than one, to be certain. It was in a very public area."
The hand gripping his shoulder tightened again.
"Alive," Khan reached the biobed; gently set McCoy down, took care not to jostle his injured limbs any more than necessary. "I told Kirk I wanted him to relay my new demands to Starfleet. He cannot do that if he is dead."
Khan was certain Kirk would comply with his demand...once the Enterprise made it back within communication range. With the Xedna Eight subspace beacon shut down, it would take longer for them to be able to contact Starfleet Command. He could reactivate the beacon any time to check for cryotubes on Xedna Eight, however allowing it to stay dormant for a few days would hinder any efforts by the Federation to track the source of his communications signal.
The terrorist noted the relief that spread across McCoy's face at the news of Kirk's safety; turned to collect the tricorder, bone knitter and dermal regenerator from the top of the bookshelf.
By the time he returned, the doctor's face had once again furrowed with worry.
"What is wrong?"
"...You said you put a...bomb...onboard the…" McCoy swallowed; sucked in a breath. "Tell me ya didn't set it off."
The terrorist raised an eyebrow. The fate of a single shuttle was hardly reason to look so worried...unless the doctor somehow thought Kirk would be unable to communicate with the Enterprise to ask for extraction without it.
"I did," Khan set the tools down; gave the doctor a reassuring smile. "But Kirk is going to be fine. Now, shall I begin with your leg, or will that inspire you to kick me again?"
McCoy stared at him for a moment...and tears began to fall from the doctor's eyes.
The killer frowned. "That was meant as a joke. Not a threat."
McCoy's right hand clenched until the knuckles turned white; he let out a sob.
Khan sighed. "I will admit it was in poor taste...but I promise, I am hear to help, not cause you further pain."
He rested a comforting hand on McCoy's shoulder. The doctor flinched.
"You realize that Numanol will wear off eventually. If you want your bones set and mended before that happens, then I suggest you collect yourself so we can get to work."
Khan rolled his eyes.
He was trying to be patient, but this was becoming ridiculous.
The killer grabbed McCoy by the chin; forced his captive's gaze.
"Listen to me: you are no good to anyone like this. I need a physician who can walk, and use both of their hands. Unless you would like me to seek out your replacement, you will stop blubbering, and help yourself."
That, finally, appeared to do the trick.
McCoy glared; shuddered; drew a few shaky...almost seething...breaths.
Khan picked up the tricorder; popped out the scanner; handed the readout portion to McCoy.
The killer passed the scanner over the sling.
"Severe displacement," the doctor muttered. "But not compounded...lucky me…Now the leg."
Khan ran the scanner over McCoy's leg.
"...Tibia broke in pretty much the same place as when I fell...but ya managed ta put a crack in my fibula this time too."
"What do you need me to do?"
"'Sides takin' me ta a real hospital?" The doctor grimaced. "You can start by helpin' me realign the bones in my arm. I hate havin' an amateur do it...but you're all I've got, aren't ya?"
"Until my own doctor is returned to me, yes."
"...So you're all I've got."
...Khan elected to ignore that comment.
"How do I realign the bones?"
McCoy set the tricorder aside; tugged at the knot that secured his sling. "Gotta take this thing off first."
"I got it," the doctor growled. "I put the damn thing on; I can take it off."
The killer tilted his head; frowned.
Why was McCoy suddenly so spiteful? Was it truly just a reaction to his injuries?
"Doctor, I know how you feel about collateral damage, but I had to detonate those bombs," Khan insisted. "Do you think the Federation will ever voluntarily release my family? If I must force their hand instead, I will. My people have done nothing to yours; they do not deserve perpetual imprisonment."
The doctor gave up on the knot; stared at his captor.
"How the hell can you say that to me with a straight face?"
...He understood McCoy's point...however this was not the time for that debate.
"Do you want to argue until your medication wears off, or do you want my help?"
"I want ya ta drop dead, but if ya did, even more bombs'd detonate, wouldn't they?"
Khan shot his captive a warning look. "One more snide remark, doctor, and I will leave. Do not test me."
McCoy opened his mouth; paused; closed it...and stared at the ceiling.
"...Untie the knot. Please."
The killer smirked; did as his captive asked.
"Great...Now wait a sec. I've got this part."
The doctor slowly unwrapped the sling; revealed his bent and bruised broken arm...
Khan tried to pull the now useless sling away, but McCoy shook his head; clenched the bunched up shirt in his right hand.
"I'm gonna hold onto this...just in case I'm not as numb as I think I am."
The killer shrugged. "I have no objections. What comes next?"
"...Gonna try a closed reduction. Basically, ya realign the bones using traction––pushing and pulling the half of the fracture that's connected to my wrist until the bones are back where they should be."
"Seems simple enough."
"If ya know what you're doing," the doctor muttered. "Just don't pull too hard. With my luck, you'll accidentally rip my arm off."
...That was not something he had considered...but he supposed it was a legitimate concern.
"I will be careful," Khan assured his captive. "Are you ready?"
McCoy closed his good eye; nodded.
It took a bit of time to guide the bones back into their proper positions, but Khan managed.
"...Tricorder again," McCoy let go of the outershirt; picked up the tricorder readout. "Make sure we didn't just make it worse."
The killer scanned the doctor's arm; McCoy sighed.
"Looks good as it's gonna get...Grab an emergency splint and some bandages ta keep that in place…Then do the same thing with the leg."
Khan did as the doctor requested. Once the injuries were properly stabilized, he held up the bone knitter.
The killer worked in silence; his captive's bones slowly fused back together.
Every now and then he noticed the doctor glaring at him. Apparently the man had decided that if he could not openly insult his captor, he would try a more passive–aggressive approach.
It was...somehow even more annoying.
When the breaks were mended, Khan set down the bone knitter; held up the dermal regenerator.
"Would you like me to fix the soft tissue damage, or would you like to do that yourself?"
McCoy's left fingers began to twitch; his right hand gestured for Khan to continue working.
The killer shook his head; started on the arm.
"I understand your anger, doctor. You tried so hard to be good, and right now it must feel like it was for nothing."
"I do apologize for the arm...but the leg was your own fault: you should not have fought me. After forty days, you must have had some idea of how that would end."
...The silence was becoming irritating. There were accusations in that silence.
After a few minutes, Khan switched the dermal regenerator from McCoy's arm to his leg.
"Really though, none of this is your fault...or mine. If your friend, Jim, had produced even one member of my crew, then I could have brought you back here completely unharmed...and those bombs would never have gone off."
McCoy's fingers once again tightened around the empty sling...but still, he said nothing.
Khan scowled; deactivated the dermal regenerator. McCoy was not completely healed, however he would likely be able to walk...at least, with a heavy limp.
"That will have to do for the moment." The killer set the dermal regenerator aside. "I have work to do elsewhere. Sit up."
McCoy stiffly complied. The doctor flexed his left hand; slowly touched the tips of his fingers to his thumb. The exercise appeared to produce positive results: the man repeated it a number of times; each faster than the last.
"It appears I saved your dexterity," Khan smiled. "That, at least, deserves a 'thank you,' does it not?"
McCoy tensed...but did not speak.
The killer's smile faded. "Say 'thank you,' doctor."
His captive sighed; shook his head.
"I'm tired, Khan. You woke me up in the middle of the night just ta torture me in front of my best friend…Please, just let me get some sleep."
"Doctor," Khan made sure the warning in his voice was clear. "I just spent an hour mending your injuries. The polite thing to do would be to thank me."
McCoy grimaced; glared.
"Why should I thank you for fixin' what you broke?"
McCoy didn't have time to flinch before the killer's hand was around his throat; the other tangled in the doctor's hair.
"I've trained you better than this," Khan hissed. "Now, you are going to say 'thank you,' or I will undo our hour's work. Do you understand me?"
He heard the doctor's breath catch.
"Do you understand?"
"Then say it!"
"Th–Thank you!" McCoy shouted. "Thank you, alright? Just...Thank you."
...Better. Barely...but better.
Khan released McCoy's neck; smiled; tousled his hair.
"Good boy. Now, are you ready for your leash?"
His captive's jaw clenched...but he nodded.
Khan turned to search for the end of the chain; tilted his head with a frown.
The killer reached down; picked up the...closed shackle...lying right next to the biobed. He could have sworn that he had left it open; it was the reason he had not bothered to bring the PADD with him.
He would have to restrain the doctor some other way while he retrieved it...or perhaps this would be a good time to test if fear alone could make McCoy stay put. It was not like the man could go far...
"Everythin' alright?" He heard McCoy shift uncomfortably behind him.
"Everything is fine," Khan said. "Stay in bed, and rest. I will bring you something to eat when I––"
Something sharp pricked his side.
Khan stiffened; turned back to his captive.
There was...a hypo...in McCoy's right hand.
His stunned mind took a few precious milliseconds too long to process what that meant.
He lashed out...but McCoy had already launched himself over the far side of the biobed.
Khan's suddenly sluggish hand grasped air where the man's neck had been a moment before; he pitched forward; fell.
He tried to rise; to fight...but all the strength left his body; the anesthesia tugged at his eyelids.
As Khan's consciousness ebbed away, he saw the doctor stagger to his feet. There was a tremor in McCoy's hands; his left in particular was quite unsteady; he put as much weight as possible on the biobed behind him, as well as his...
"I've told ya a thousand times, Khan…"
...How could he have been so negligent? How could...
McCoy gave the hypo a triumphant flip; a small sneer twitched across his bruised face.
"I'm not your goddamn pet."