"So how's the patient today?" Phil Boyce asked his protege Leonard McCoy.
"Ornery as a mule and twice as grumpy," McCoy reported with a sigh, flinging himself down into a chair in the Surgeon general's office. "Still think he'd be better off with you as his attending. He talks to me like I'm a snot-nosed cadet. Why did I agree to the switch?"
"Because you were going to have a breakdown if you didn't. Jim's out of danger now and you need a break from micromanaging his every scan and blood count. Besides, Chris was getting bored with me. It'll be good for both of you."
"If you say so," Leonard sighed. "You think Jim's strong enough to hear the news?"
Newly awake from his coma, Jim had not yet been informed of his mentor's continued existence due to Phil's concern about the effects of an emotional reaction. Bones had warned him it would be worse if they waited too long. Jim didn't like being kept in the dark. After careful consideration and swearing him to secrecy, Chris had been told of Jim's presence in the hospital and the story behind it. The admiral had muttered a lot and promptly ordered everyone out of the room, then hadn't said a word about it since, which worried even Phil. As if Chris didn't have enough to deal with with his nearly destroyed insides, PTSD, and the hot mess that was Starfleet.
"Soon," Phil said slyly. "I've hinted that good behavior will result in a happy surprise."
"And he fell for that?" Leonard said, eyebrow raising skeptically. "I've tried bribery many a time and it never works on that infant Captain."
"It's the novelty of a new face, I think," he said. "He doesn't know what to make of me and is more reluctant to push back."
"More power to ya, then," Leonard smiled tiredly. "I wish Pike was like that."
"Just remind him who has the power to clear him for duty," Boyce suggested. "He may bitch and moan, but he's in our turf, and all his ordering and posturing isn't worth a hill of beans right now."
Leonard nodded. "I'll remember that the next time he tries to pull rank on me."
One of The subjects of their discussion was glowering darkly at the window of his room, wishing he could get up and look out it. He wanted to see for himself what the damage to the city was, but he was still too weak to even sit up for very long. He'd contented himself with listening to an audiobook, but even that got old after awhile. James T. Kirk had a lot of guilt going on and he was mentally going over and harshly critiquing every one of his actions since the Daystrom attack. Spock's logic had done little good to convince him he wasn't to blame for all the tragedy and loss of life. He'd lost 55 crewmembers in Khan's attacks and felt the number deeply, though it was but a drop in the bucket compared to the casualties in San Francisco. Jim hadn't been responsible for those people, though.
"You're going to get yourself and everyone under your command killed." Pike had warned him, but he'd arrogantly boasted that he hadn't yet lost anyone. Jim cringed inwardly at the memory. He'd been a cocky fool to think like that. He wished more than anything he could turn back time and actually listened to Chris more, maybe told him how much he'd meant to him. It was too late now.
The lump in his throat returned as he remembered seeing Pike get hit while trying to help an injured woman out of the line of Fire. He would hurt from that loss for a long time.
"Hey, Jim, guess what time it is?"
Jim sighed at the sound of Boyce's voice. He was already sick of doctors and hospitals, much as he thought Boyce was a great guy.
"Time For That tasteless brown sludge and the Hypo Of Death?" He guessed tiredly. Mealtimes were a chore for Jim, whose stomach could only handle the blandest of broths.
"You catch on quickly," the Doctor observed with a wry smile as he approached Jim's bed. "But since you've behaved yourself so well, I'm going to be able to give you the very good news I promised when we're done."
This piqued Jim's interest and he obediently are the brown goop without complaint, though with plenty of grimaces. The "hypo of death" was supposed to help his system not war against the serum in his blood and it was far worse than anything Bones had given him.
"I'll never complain about normal hypos ever again," He gritted Out, once it was over and he'd stopped seeing stars.
"I'll tell Len you said that," Phil said with a knowing smile. "He won't believe it for a second."
"Probably not,"Jim admitted, with a wry smile. He missed Bones being around, but supported the change due to worry over his friend's exhaustion. Bones was going to put himself in the hospital if he kept up at the rate he was going.
"So, what's the huge news you've been saying I was too delicate to hear?" He asked curiously.
Phil went still and looked at him very seriously and actually sat down beside him.
"You're Probably going to freak out on me for not telling you sooner, but the freak out won't be as detrimental to your health now."
Jim was really curious now. "Spill it." He ordered.
Phil was quiet for a moment then said, "Jim, you aren't the only one to miraculously survive certain death. The med Team was able to revive Chris after the Daystrom attack."
Jim turned pale and gripped the bed rail tightly.
"What? How was that even possible? He had a good sized hole in him. No pulse," The Captain said hoarsely.
"A lot of surgery, transfusions, organ regrowth and such. It was touch and go for a long time. He was in and out for almost as long as you were."
"But, he's alive?" Jim asked, wonder, disbelief, and hope in his question.
"Yes, very much so," Phil told him gently.
Jim had to look away for a minute to hide the evidence of his suddenly wet eyes as he processed this news. Against all odds, Pike was alive. There was time for a second chance after all.
"Can I see him?" He inquired, when he could speak again.
"Neither Of you are fit to be moved yet, but we're working on a solution to that problem. Chris is very anxious to see you, as well."
"He been giving you trouble?" Jim asked, a grin spreading over his face. He remembered how Chris had handled long hospitalization previously: NOT WELL.
"Yeah, But McCoy and I switched so he's Len's problem for now." Phil sounded a little too gleeful over this fact and Jim couldn't wait to get the scoop from Bones.