A/N: And fin! Thanks to all my amazing reviewers; to those of you who wanted sick!Jim, I apologize. It would have become rather redundant, and this was McCoy's show. Lots of Jim hurt/comfort in other stories and stories to come, I promise. ^_^ LOL! I can't belive how many reviews this has-you are ALL awesome.
Jim wakes to low moaning, and when he opens his eyes and looks over at Bones, he feels his heart stop, just for a moment. The first thing he sees is the blood, but then he realizes the welts are just bursting and Spock is already awake and tending to McCoy. But there is blood on the sheets, and blood on Spock's hands, too much blood.
"Bones?" He hears himself gasp, his moniker for his friend coming out as hardy more then a whisper. He shoves up off the cot as McCoy moans again and writhes away from Spock's touch. He's across to them before he even remembers moving, because McCoy whispers his name, once, softly, almost a plea. He grips his friend's hand, his brother's hand, slick with sweat and blood.
"Easy. Hush, Bones, I'm here." He sooths. "Spock-"
"I have given him everything I dare." Spock replies, his voice taught like a drawn bow, his whippet-lean form hunched up as he cleans another burst welt. "The fever is not dangerously high any longer-"
"Any longer? It was, and you didn't-"
"You were exhausted, Jim. You are exhibiting the same early symptoms as the doctor himself, and-"
"I'm not important right now." It is not a yell. Yelling is better, less dangerous, with Jim, then the low, deadly growl his voice has taken on. "You should have woke me up."
Awakened me, Spock corrects absently in his own mind, but is wise enough not to say it aloud. Besides, Jim has already lost his fire, lifting water to McCoy's lips and using the cloth to try and cool him.
"As I was saying," He goes on, when Jim wraps his arms around Bone's form and cradles him gently, truly calming down, "no painkiller is strong enough to completely negate the effects of the rash. The welts are bursting rapidly, with little reprieve. While it means he is healing, the pain-"
"Isn't there anything you can do?"
"The doctor is-not open to any form of mental contact under the best of circumstances, Captain." Spock says, slowly. "I did not wish to risk the strain on him while you were asleep-also, I am incapable of doing anything else while involved in such an act."
"And yet you kept me asleep." Jim growls. "Spock, damnit-"
McCoy's back arches, and Jim steadies him and sooths him with gentle, calm hands. "Well, I'm up now."
"I am still concerned that the doctor's natural tendency to fight my mental contact would worsen his condition." Spock replies, as McCoy thrashes painfully and clutches the sheets below himself, panting softly.
"He's in pain, Spock."
And this time it is Spock's turn to lift his eyes- and only his eyes- to stare levelly at Jim- it's not a glare, again, but just a quiet, level look blank of anything. This look always makes Jim a little afraid, because this cold, dispassionate creature could be Spock; for all that Spock pretends to be emotionless and unfeeling, he really could be.
"I am very aware of the doctor's condition." He replies coolly, his voice low and stiff. "And if I thought that it would aid the situation, I would do as you ask. He is more then half delusional. His fever is still high, though out of the dangerous range. He dislikes the act of melding, and would instinctively fight my touch. I would be putting both of us at risk by attempting such an act now." If it was Jim, it would be different; even half out of his head, Jim would be totally open to Spock. He always has been; almost frightengly easy for Spock to meld with, almost no resistance.
Jim brushes a hand over McCoy's hair, watching Spock clean yet another burst wound. His eyes are still empty, and blank, and Jim run a hand over his face. Between McCoy and his own threat of illness, he can't handle arguing with Spock right now. Anyway, he has no right to say what he did.
"Sorry." He whispers, and instantly the empty look is gone, replaced by the gentle not smile.
"You are concerned, Jim." Spock replies softly, rinsing the rag he's been using. His breath is unsteady and that is the only sign of how distraught he is. Jim reaches over and covers one hand with his own; Spock stiffens at the contact, glancing over- but then he relaxes slightly. He gently removes Jim's hand, but the not-smile is still there, and the action is not harsh.
Spock represses the all together too human urge to grimace. They had given Jim the same preventive shot the rest of the crew had received; of course it's going to fail.
Argument forgotten, they go back to tending Bones. The fever goes down by degrees, slowly; by the time the last of the wounds breaks open he's drenched in sweat and almost normal to the touch. Spock moves the beds back to their proper places, and Jim cleans up the mess they've left, as Spock informs the nurses that Doctor McCoy is no longer contagious. Jim thinks it's probably not so much that that's kept the medical team at bay, but rather, perhaps, the protective pair of alpha wolves sanding guard over their injured pack mate.
He chuckles at the thought, lets himself be fussed over, and then returns to the bridge and duty. One week later, Bones is up there, too; hypo in hand and snarl on his face.
"-telling you, Jim, Spock told me you were starting to feel ill when you were tending me, now get down to sickbay-"
"I'm fine, Bones, we cut it off at the pass."
"I'll feel better if you just let me-"
Jim's half-laughing, pleased all seems to be as it should be. Bones is alive, and well (he's got some scars from the deeper welts, but nothing too drastic) and up on the bridge, fussing and snarling and growling like a bad-tempered old coonhound.
"Jim, I had the vaccine, too, I still got sick."
"Yes, well." Jim swivels in the captain's chair, pushing to his feet and pretending he isn't dizzy. Damn it. "That's because you decided that you had to play white-knight, and got yourself sick when I told you to stay away from-what? Bones, what?" He asks, because McCoy has gone stark white and is bouncing on his toes the way he does when he's worked up over something, lips compressed and hands tight behind his back.
The bridge, Jim notes, has gone utterly silent.
Did I grow a second head or something? Jim almost-almost-checks himself over, stops himself only at the last second.
Spock is staring at him. Spock is staring, pointedly, at him, and if Spock gets it and Jim missed it, then he really must be getting sick.
"See me in sickbay, Captain," McCoy growls, "or as your chief medical officer, I will have you sedated and dragged there."
And Bones stomps back into the turbo lift.
Jim turns, slowly, to face front. "What-"
Sulu turns back to the helm, Chekov coughs softly, Uhura has her head in her hand, and Scotty is suddenly very busy. The others on the bridge he does not know by name seem utterly unable to look him in the eye.
Spock turns back to his station. "Yes, Captain." He says quietly. "I will retain command while you appease doctor McCoy."
That isn't what he'd been going to say. But perhaps the best plan is to find out what the hell is wrong with Bones by going straight to the source.
"Very good, Mr. Spock," He says, and stands, and with an odd sensation of dread (rather like a child going to own up to doing something naughty, which is, as Spock would say, totally illogical) he goes to sickbay.
Bones is there, writing something on a PADD, pacing sickbay, and the second Jim sets foot in he points the magnetic pen to a bed.
Jim sits. Rather abruptly, and with no small amount of surprise, but he sits.
Cold hands begin to poke, prod, and palpatate; he bats away two rough pinches and one hypo before he finally looses his temper.
"McCoy, what is your problem?" He growls, gripping Bones' wrist and knocking the hypo out of it.
"What makes you think I have a problem, Captain?"
"That." Jim growls. "And the fact that I'm going to have a massive bruise from that hypo."
For an instant, guilt flashes over McCoy's face.
"Sorry, Jim. That was totally out of line." He says gently, letting out a low, soft sigh.
"Yes, it was. Bones-" He lets his voice soften. "Hey, what's wrong?"
"Jim-" McCoy sets the hypo down, closes his eyes and lets out his breath again. "Nothing. It's-you should say here for a few days-"
"Bones." Jim stands, places his hands on the man's shoulders. "Tell me. You can tell me."
McCoy turns, and maybe it's the pleading tone in Jim's voice, or the warmth and friendship in his eyes, or the fact that they're both not in the peak of health, but he begins to speak.
"Jim, what you said, on the bridge-damn it, Jim-what do you-" He presses his lips together again. "Every time, Jim. Every time you come back from a planet bleeding, or broken, or hurt, from some fool self-sacrificing stunt-they call you a hero. You are a hero, but you're a selfish one." Bones forces his voice not to break, but the anger leaks through. "Selfish and stupid and now, maybe, you know why I always- why I can't-"
It takes his breath away. The sheer force of emotion on Bones' face, in his voice- the pain, the anger.
"Oh, Bones." Jim's voice is a rasping husk. "Bones-"
"And maybe now you see," The doctor goes on, slicing Jim off with a swipe of his hand, "just why I 'mother hen' you. Why I'm 'over protective'. What you felt this week was what I go through every time. Jim. Every time." He straightens, pushes Jim's hand away.
Jim lets him stepping back.
"Bones," He says, "I'm sorry."
"I know." McCoy replies stiffly, "and it won't change a damn thing, will it?"
Jim looks down, sits on the edge of the cot again. "Bones-"
"Yeah," McCoy mutters, "that's what I thought. Here." And he injects Jim more gently, and places a hand on his shoulder. He smiles, but it's weak, and damn if Jim knows what to say.
"Bones, look, I-that's not true. I don't mean to-"
"I know you don't, Jim, and what I just said-wasn't fair." Bones is looking at his hands, turning them over and over until Jim reaches out to stop them. "I can't expect you to change. I don't want you to, not really. Reckless and stupid but brilliant, Jim, you are brilliant, I just wish you were a little more cautious."
"And you could no more not step in to save us- or anyone- then I could let those sick people suffer when I could help. It's part of who you are. You're a good man, Jim."
"Not always a good friend, apparently." And suddenly Bones' grip is tight, and fierce, and he is shaking his head.
"Don't say that. It's not true, and it's not what I meant." He snaps. "Blast it, I don't know what I mean."
Jim lets go, stands up. "I'll remember, Bones, okay? And I'll try to be careful. Okay?"
"Okay." McCoy replies huskily, and it is.