"Bones? Bones, that looks really bad."

Bones resists the urge to roll his eyes as he looks up into the ashen face of his captain. "Yeah, I know, Jim. It…" He glances at the hand clamped to his side and stifles a sigh at the sight of blood leaking between his fingers. "It looks worse than it is. Now would you just try and relax? You look like you're gonna faint, and I need your help. Which means no fainting."

Jim nods solemnly, mouth drawn into a thin line and brow pinched. "Right. But Bones, you're gonna have to tell me what to do here," he says, looking at the wound, his hands hovering uncertainly. He looks up at Bones and almost smiles. "What did you do to piss that guy off so much anyway?"

Bones scoffs. "Hell if I know! I'm a doctor, not a diplomat!"

They both know the bullet had been meant for Jim.

"Well it's a good thing you're a doctor, 'cus that looks b-"

"Don't. Say it," Bones interrupts, and Jim's mouth snaps shut. "Should we try the ship again?"

Jim responds by pulling out his communicator and flipping it open. There's an air of panic about his movements that worries Bones; panic is the last thing they need right now.

"Kirk to Enterprise, Kirk to Enterprise, please respond," Jim says. No answer. He tries again, his voice tight, and swears when there's still no response. "They're still out of range. Dammit!"

"Stop worrying," Bones says. He doesn't bother trying to sound soothing. That would probably freak Jim out even more."They'll be back. Right now I just need you to help me stop the bleeding and then we can try and find shelter before sundown, in case we're stuck here awhile."

Jim bites his bottom lip, his eyes tracing down and landing on Bones's hands. The fear in his face is replaced with determination and he looks back up at Bones. "You need your bag," he says.

Bones can see where this is going, and he doesn't like it. "No, Jim-"

"Leonard? This is not up for debate."

Bones rolls his eyes and fixes Jim with a glare. "There is a sniper down there with a serious grudge against The Federation, which evidently means a serious grudge against you. You go down there and get yourself shot, where does that leave me?"

A corner of Jim's mouth lifts. "I'll be fine. C'mon! You've done crazier things. Remember that time I died and then you used the blood of a homicidal maniac to bring me back to life? This is way less crazy than that."

"Oh, fer-Jim..." He trails off a little helplessly. He knows his captain well enough to know that there'll be no changing his mind. He lets out a long sigh. "Well just-just be careful then, alright?"

"When am I ever not careful?" Jim grins broadly and reaches forward, gripping Bones's shoulder and staring at him. The smile fades and his eyes become earnest. "I'll be back," he says.

"I damn well hope so," Bones grumbles. "Or else I will have been shot for nothing. And because if Spock becomes captain I may well quit Starfleet and go become a doctor on some planet where my job will be easy."

"Easy and boring," Jim says, straightening up. "You are many things, Leonard McCoy, but boring is not one of them. Now hang tight. I won't be gone long." He shoots Bones one last smile before he runs off toward the town like some sort of idiot cowboy.

As soon as the captain is out of sight, Bones lets out the groan he's been biting back. He closes his eyes and takes a few moments just to breathe, gritting his teeth against the pain. He thinks (hopes) that the bullet hadn't hit anything vital but it's hard to tell. It's not like a stab wound or a laser burn. He'd know what to do for those.

He'd briefly studied the effects of a gunshot wound on the human body in medical school and had a basic understanding of how to treat such an injury, but he'd never actually seen one in real life. Guns hadn't been around for nearly a century, having been outlawed, gathered up, and destroyed. The only weapons that survived the purge were kept in museums, unloaded and disabled.

Except, evidently, for the massive stockpile that the settlers of Tombstone (apparently named for some obscure piece of ancient American history involving-surprise-a lot of guns and bullets) had brought with them generations ago, before Starfleet had even expanded beyond the Alpha quadrant.

Of course the Enterprise was tasked with trying to bring the people of Tombstone into the fold after all these years. And of course two seconds after beaming Jim and Bones down to the planet's surface, the Enterprise had picked up a distress signal. And of fucking course James T. Kirk, ever the hero, had demanded that the Enterprise go help while he and Bones played ambassador.

After that it had taken all of twenty minutes for the townspeople to completely reject Jim and his invitation to join the Federation, and another five minutes after that for gunfire to break out, coming from the bell tower at the top of the church at the end of town. Bones had operated on pure instinct, throwing himself in front of his captain. Fortunately the sniper didn't have very good aim, and Bones had taken a bullet to the side instead of someplace more deadly. Adrenaline had allowed him to escape the town with Jim, barely.

And now here he is, crouched in the mouth of some dusty valley, slowly bleeding out. He's no stranger to injury, and certainly no stranger to death, but besides the occasional laser burn or superficial cut or bruise he's never been on the receiving end. If he's being honest, he's not really a fan. The pain...sucks, but it's not the worst part. It's not even the fact that he's edging closer to his death with each minute that passes.

It's the helplessness.

He can do his best to control the bleeding. If he feels himself start to go into shock, he can lay down and elevate his feet. But everything else beyond that is out of his control. He can wait, and he can hope, but the rest is up to Jim.

Bones wonders if his patients feel this frustrated and miserable.

Or this dizzy.

The fact that he's starting to feel the blood loss is a bad sign, because it means shock and unconsciousness aren't too far behind. He needs to put more pressure on the wound then. It's an unsavory thought that brings a grimace to his face. He sighs.

"Alright, Leonard," he mutters. "You can do this." He slowly presses his hands harder against the wound, and doesn't even feel bad when the action elicits a low groan. His hands are so slicked with blood that it's hard to tell whether the blood flow is actually slowing or not. He closes his eyes against the slight spinning of the world, and finds that he really doesn't want to open them. But he's starting to feel a sickly kind of cold and he has to stay awake, so he pries his eyelids apart and stares up at the blue sky that's just starting to darken. It's then that it occurs to him how long his captain has been gone.

He's pretty sure Kirk might actually be dead this time.

"Stupid fucking space mission," he grumbles, directing it at the expanse above him. Then in a mocking voice he says, "Space, the final frontier...Yeah that part's right, since I'm gonna die out here... These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Her five-year mission to explore…Explore. Explore, my ass. If we were just exploring I might actually enjoy this ridiculous quest. But no. We 'explore' and we find pissed off crazy people that want to kill us, and idiot traders that infest the ship with damned tribbles, and man-sized lizards, and other...crazy ridiculous shit. To seek out new...blah blah blah..."

"'To seek out new, life, new civilization.'"

The rush of relief makes Bones's head spin (or that could just be the shock), and he has to bite back a smile as he looks over at his captain who, besides being a little more dusty than when he left, appears unharmed. "Took you long enough. I thought you were dead!"

"Yeah, well, luckily for me it turns out the sheriff and his deputies hate outlaws even more than they hate the Federation," Jim says with a grin, bending down next to Bones and opening his medikit. "What do you need?"

"My spray applicator," Bones says.

Jim pulls out the small cylinder and holds it up. "Is this it?"

Bones nods. "That's the one."

"What now? Do I just…" He looks at it, turning it around, then bending closer to scrutinize it.

"Stop!" Bones cries as his captain almost presses the button. "You're gonna spray yourself in the eyes, which would be really bad."

"Worse than when I died?"

Bones rolls his eyes and holds out one hand. "Yes. Give it to me."

Jim hands it over. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"Would you lift up my shirt?"

Jim nods, but doesn't move. Bones lifts an eyebrow at him. "Are you gonna do it?"

"I was just about to ask you if you were gonna get your hand out of the way."

Bones looks down at his bloodied fingers, and is surprised to see that they're still over the bullet hole. It must've been some instinct that had kept his hand in place, and even now that he's noticed there's a part of him that's afraid to move it.

"Oh, come on," Jim says. "Don't be so melodramatic."

Bones narrows his eyes and slowly moves his hand, mildly surprised when there's no geyser of blood from the wound. Jim takes ahold of his shirt and slowly pushes it up. Bones screws his eyes shut and lets out a hiss of pain as the fabric is pulled from the wound, and Jim quickly pulls his hands away, muttering apologizes.

"No! No, it's fine. Keep going," Bones breathes, and tries to smile. Jim doesn't look convinced, but he does as he was told and pushes Bones's shirt so it's bunched up and out of the way.

"That looks bad," Jim breathes, staring at the wound, and his eyes are so wide and his face so pale that Bones doesn't even snap at him for it.

"Well that's what this is for," Bones responds, waving the hypospray and pretending that he isn't also feeling faint at the sight of the bloody, ragged hole. A quick examination of the little canister confirms that it's on the default setting, and he sprays it on the wound, flooding it with a combination of coagulants, antibiotics, and a local anaesthetic that works impressively quickly. He feels himself relax for the first time since landing on this godforsaken rock, and he lets out a contented sigh.

"Better?" Jim says.

"Much better," Bones says. He's still feeling weak and faint, but the pain in his side is far less and he can rest easy knowing that the bleeding is stopped.

"Good…Now what is it you were saying earlier about finding shelter for the night?"

Bones closes his eyes and shakes his head. "No, no thanks. I'm not feeling that much better."

"Fair enough," Jim says. He's quiet for a moment before saying, "You wanna hear a ghost story?"

Bones pops an eye open and looks over at his friend. "What?"

Jim shrugs. "My brother Sam and I used to do this all the time, lie out in the corn field under the stars, trying to scare each other. Would you rather hear Hook Man or Where's My Big Toe?"

Bones opens his mouth and then shuts it, not sure what to say.

"Hook Man it is!" Jim cries. "There once was a-" By the grace of some merciful deity, he's interrupted by his communicator chirping in his pocket, and he pulls it out. "This is Captain Kirk."

"Captain, this is Commander Spock."

"Oh, thank god," Bones breathes. "I never thought I'd be so glad to hear that voice!"

They're in the transporter room and Bones is immediately swarmed by doctors and swept away to sickbay, Jim hot on their heels. It's hard to focus, what with a million different people calling out vitals and ordering nurses and interns around, and Bones again finds himself hating being on the patient side of things.

"Will someone just tell me what the hell you're doing?" he finally cries as an IV is put into his arm. It's Nurse Chapel that turns to him.

"We're giving you a transfusion right now, and then we'll prep for surgery to remove the bullet and repair the damaged muscle and vessels," she says, then turns to Jim. "I'm sorry Captain Kirk, but you're going to need to step out in a moment."

Jim nods, then says, "Just one second." He pushes himself through the people huddled around Bones and grabs the hand closest to him.

"You're gonna be okay," Jim says.

"I know that," Bones responds, before adding quietly, "Thank you. For saving me. Even if it was a damn foolish thing to do."

"Any time," Jim responds with a warm smile. "I'll be here when you wake up, and then I'll tell you about Hook Man!"

He's so earnest that Bones can't bring himself to say what he's thinking which is, With any luck I won't wake up.