Disclaimer: You guys know the drill. I don't own them. Wish I did. Don't we all.

EDIT. This is a repost. I have achieved a beta! Thank you, 1lostone! Love you, honey.

Symptoms of Fatigue

Kirk was tired. Bone weary. The ache went so deep it cut through even the throbbing of his ribs. Not grief, not pain, not the horror of everything that had happened, not even pride cut through the enormity of his exhaustion. God, how long had he been awake? The mild rush of adrenaline that he'd gotten from the coffee someone had brought him was gone now. He was crashing.

His head pounded.

Kirk just wished he were in bed. He wished he had a bed. But with the way that he'd gotten on the ship, he hadn't been assigned one.

Maybe he could sleep in Bones's office.

But no.

The ship needed him. They needed him. He'd seen it in their eyes when he'd gotten back from the Narada. The expectation. They needed him to get them through this. And he had. He was pleased it had all worked out. He loved commanding this ship. Too bad it might be the last time he ever commanded anything, what with the mild charge of mutiny that might be facing him. Come to think of it, Spock didn't seem too upset about that, now. Kirk needed to apologize to the Vulcan. Just not right this second. He was too tired for his brain to form the eloquent words needed for the delicate process entailed in making amends for the things he'd said. The things he'd had to say. He hoped Spock would understand.

The old Spock had understood. But then they were sorta different people. Except they weren't. His thoughts were murky. He wished the headache would ease. He wished he could keep his eyes open.

He stood and stretched, deciding to pace. He'd always thought better on his feet. Plus, maybe the movement would keep him from falling asleep.

Kirk wondered about what the other Spock had said. The friendship that was supposed to exist between them. They were supposed to be legendary. Frankly, Kirk didn't see it. They'd worked together …well, pretty well actually on the Romulan ship. Saved Earth. That had to count for something.

Shit, he ached. Maybe he could get someone to bring him coffee. Maybe he could get a couple someones to bring him coffee.

He was nervous about leaving the bridge. McCoy still had Pike in surgery in sickbay. What if some threat popped up while he was sleeping? He just didn't want to leave.

But he could feel lethargy in every muscle. Kirk was tripping over his own feet. When he realized that he was thinking dreamily of sitting on the floor under the viewscreeen, he moved quickly back to his chair. He winced as his abraded back protested at the contact.

He sighed.

He could feel their eyes on him. He managed his most winning smile.

"Steady as she goes, Mr. Sulu. Steady as she goes." Why had he said that? What did it even mean? Now Sulu was gonna look at him weird. Kirk liked Sulu, and didn't want the other man to think he was an idiot. You can't nearly fall to your death with someone without ending up liking the person.

But Sulu only smiled back. "Aye, Captain."

There was that word again. Captain. All golden and glowing and everything he'd ever wanted to be. It made him smile, despite the omnipresent fatigue.

He found his thoughts drifting again. What a weird couple days. He was commanding a ship he wasn't even supposed to be on. He could not imagine the look on the face of the officer reading his report.

Kirk hadn't even decided how much of the truth he was going to put in it.

He sighed again. The deep breath increased the pain in his lungs exponentially. His vision flared white. Well that was interesting. Experimentally, he took another, deeper breath. Oh yeah. Definitely broken ribs. When had that happened? He smiled ironically to himself as he thought about it. Could have been quite a few times in the past day. Probably the fight with Spock, or the fight with Nero, he thought. Strange that he hadn't noticed at the time. But then-he'd been occupied. Bones was gonna freaking kill him. Especially since he hadn't gotten them treated already. But he'd had worse. And he didn't want to leave. He didn't really have any where to go.

Kirk noticed that thinking about his pain took his mind off of his exhaustion. He felt a little more focused now. Interesting. He inventoried himself. His hand was broken. Again. Still. He probably shouldn't have taken that bandage off. His left eye socket throbbed. It was fractured again. It was either the Zygomatic bone or the Maxilla bone. He couldn't tell them apart anymore. But as much as he got into bar fights, he could usually tell when one of them had splintered. You got hit there when you fought someone who led with their right. It was a given. Kirk had learned to accept it. He'd been hit there so many times, that he sometimes wondered if there would come a day when even 23rd century medicine wouldn't be able to put it right. He thought that just about covered the fractures. His back was covered in shallow scrapes and abrasions from the fall down the ice cliff. Stupid ice monster. And thinking of the stupid thing, his angle twinged from where the damn thing's tongue had lashed around it and pulled him down.

He didn't miss the looks that some of the bridge crew was giving him, though. Admiration, bordering on awe. Mixed with concern. None of them had anticipated his offer of help to the Romulans. He had meant it though, sincerely. He would not see life wasted when it didn't have to be. But why the concern? They couldn't be worried about him, could they?

When was Bones gonna be out of surgery? He probably ought to let his friend check him out. And then he could crash on the couch.

He rested his chin against his hand. That ached too. So tired. So very tired.

He did not even feel his eyes slip closed.

"Captain. Captain." Someone was shaking him. Gently.

He started up. He was even more tired now then he had been when he'd sat down. His head swam. He shook himself further awake. Dammit, the Vulcan had caught him sleeping. He ought to put himself on report.

"Mr. Spock. My apologies. What were you saying?" He rubbed a hand over his eyes.

"Captain, by my estimation, you have been awake for a minimum of 96 hours. You require rest." Ninety-six hours. Nearly four days. Had it been that long since he'd slept? When had that damn hearing been? It felt like a lifetime ago.

Jim opened to his mouth to say, "I'm fine, Mr. Spock," but that was not what came out.

"Yeah, um maybe I should go," he heard himself say. Kirk wondered where he would go. At this point, anywhere off the bridge would do. He took a step and stumbled, his sleep-heavy legs unsteady. Spock caught him by the ribs and set him on his feet. The sudden contact to his injured side stole Kirk's breath, and he reeled, close to passing out.

"I will accompany you." Spock had not yet released his arm.

Kirk did not have the energy to argue. He nodded wearily. He could barely keep his eyes on open. He was swaying on his feet. He needed to get out of here before he really embarrassed himself. "Sulu, take the conn."

"Aye, sir."

Spock manhandled Kirk out of the room in way that him half pulling, half dragging the exhausted human off the bridge. Once in the turbolift, Spock set Kirk gently against the wall. "Sickbay," he said, turning the control.

"Huh? No." Kirk had been nearly dozing against the wall, but he had snapped awake at the sound of Spock's command. "No, I'm fine, Spock, I just wanna sleep."

"You are not fine. You are obviously in pain, and excessively fatigued. From your respiration rate and your obvious discomfort, I surmise that you have severe bruising, and possible multiple fractures, for which you have, in all likelihood, not sought treatment. You require the attentions of a physician to remedy this. It is possible that you did get seek treatment before this moment because the ship was in danger, but that is not the case now." He looked at Kirk with his expressionless face, and for a moment the cool mask faltered and Kirk could see the concern in those fathomless eyes. And then it was gone.

Kirk gave up. He just didn't have the energy to fight anymore. He leaned against the wall of the lift and rested his burning eyes. All too soon, the lift arrived at deck six. Spock once again took his arm. Kirk chaffed at the assistance.

"I'm fine, Spock. I can walk," he said, trying to pull away.

"Jim. Please allow me to assist you."

More than anything else, it was the use of his first name that stilled Kirk, and gentled his temper. Spock's eyes were showing guilt. Maybe the Vulcan felt bad about his outburst on the bridge. Well he wasn't the only one that had regrets about that. And before Kirk could stop himself, before had time to think, it was out.

"Spock, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean…" he trailed off, not even sure where he was going with this. He couldn't tell Spock about the other Spock. He could not explain his reasons. But he wanted to get his sincerity across. He felt no anger toward the Vulcan for the beating. Only compassion for the other's predicament. Kirk had deserved every punch of it, and he knew it.

Spock cocked to his head to the side. "To what are you referring, Captain. Your inability to see yourself to sickbay is not something for which you would need to apologize. It is irrational. Indeed, since in all likelihood I inflicted the injuries for which you require treatment, I should be the one apologizing. "

"No, Spock, no. Not for that. For what I said, on the bridge. I feel so guilty. I'm so sorry. I did not mean it, not any of it. I just …I needed to save my planet."

Spock nodded but did not respond immediately. He studied the floor, his expression thoughtful. "Your apology is …" he seemed to be searching for a word. "It is appreciated, Captain. But it is unnecessary. The outcome of the situation was... satisfactory."

Satisfactory. They'd saved Earth. The Vulcan talent for understatement would never cease to amaze Kirk.

He put a hand on the Vulcan's shoulder. "I know you loved your mother," he said quietly, almost to himself.

Spock looked up, clearly startled. His eyes held a question he could not voice.

"We could all see it in your eyes on the transporter pad. I know you loved her. And you beamed down; you put your own life in danger to get them out. None of us doubt it. You shouldn't either, Spock."

Spock nodded, slowly. "Thank you, captain. Now you must get to sickbay." The tone brooked no argument.

Might as well surrender gracefully. Kirk didn't want to pass out in the hallway after all. He shrugged and allowed the contact. He gestured toward the sickbay doors. "Lead on, commander."

Spock steered him gently through the door to the nearest available bed. "Lie down. I shall return when I have located one of the ship's surgeons."

Kirk caught Spock's arm as he walked away. "Get McCoy. If you can. It'll be easier." Kirk wanted someone who knew about his medical history. He didn't want to end up with numb tongue again, or sausage hands. It was his last thought before sleep claimed his consciousness.

He was awoken by the Vulcan's shaking for the second time a short while later. The person with him was definitely not Bones. Damn, there went any hope of anesthesia. It wasn't a risk he wanted to take right now. He could not be incapacitated. "Captain, I was unable to locate Dr. McCoy, as he is still operating on Captain Pike, however, this man is a—"

"It's fine, Mr. Spock. It's fine." He turned his attention to the other, and quirked an eyebrow in his best imitation of Spock. The man looked as tired as Jim felt, and that was saying something. There were many colors of blood on his uniform. He hesitantly raised a tricorder. "Go ahead, Doc. No drugs. Too many allergies"

"But sir—"


Kirk was too tired to explain. He put on his command face, and held up a hand. "You heard me doctor."

The man looked abashed, but nodded.

And then he lay back, determined to let the man get on with it. The tricorder analysis revealed little that he had not already anticipated. Except he had a concussion. Well, no shock there. It explained the headache. He was also dehydrated. Huh. He hadn't thought of that one. Apparently, he was lucky not to have punctured a lung with all his seven broken ribs. The gashes on his back were deep, but not life threatening.

Kirk dozed as the doctor analyzed him, slipping in and out of the conversation. Spock hadn't left yet. Weird. He'd thought the Vulcan was just going to drop him off. But the other man stood there impassively, observing the proceedings. Kirk thought for a moment about ordering the commander back to the bridge, but couldn't make himself care enough to do it.

It seemed the doctor had finished speaking, and was ready to move on to the treatment part of the plan.

"You need to remove your shirt, sir."

Kirk sat up, and fumbled for the hem of the black shit. His movements were awkward and clumsy, as he attempted to make his sleep deprived limbs respond to what he wanted them to do. He hissed as the material clung to the gashes on his back.

The doctor, whose name he still did not know, whistled at the sight of his midsection.

"You must have had a hell of a day." Over the doctor's shoulder, Kirk noticed Spock's expression tighten.

"You don't know the half of it." Kirk responded. He looked down at himself and saw what had caused the other two so much consternation. His ribs were rainbow of black, red, purple, blue and green.

He shrugged. "I've had worse." It wasn't a lie.

Spock raised an eyebrow, his expression curious. But Kirk wasn't telling that story now.

"Just go ahead and fix them, already."

But the doctor still looked hesitant. "Captain, I can't in good conscience use the bone setter on you without giving you some form of pain killer. It's not permissible."

Kirk sighed. He really just wanted to go to sleep. He didn't care if the ribs got fixed or not. Hell, he didn't care if any of him got fixed or not. He just wanted to sleep.

"Fine. Give me whatever. Just understand I might be allergic to it." He didn't even care if he ended up with numb tongue.

The doctor still looked uncertain. He didn't really blame the man. The doctor's options sucked. Give the acting captain a potentially life threatening hypo, or knowingly cause your commanding officer incredible pain. He took pity on the man.

"Look, if it helps, I've had it used with no anesthetic before. It wasn't a picnic, but I got through it. I'll tell you if I can't handle it, ok?" The doctor nodded and lifted the bone-setter. Kirk gritted his teeth, as he lifted his arms to make it easier for the doctor to work.

It was bad. It was really, really bad.

It was god awful. Shit, how had he forgotten how much this hurt?

The bone setter worker in much the same way that the human body did; only it forced the growth to occur in a matter of minutes instead of four to six weeks. The pain was something akin to a tiny drill boring into the heart of the bone and forcing it to stretch.

He ground his teeth together and held his breath. But he could not quite suppress the wince.

He shut his eyes against the light and waited for the pain to end.

Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.

And just when he thought he'd have to break and ask the doctor for a hypo (reaction be damned), he heard Spock step up beside him.


"Captain, if I may be of assistance?" Spock's tone was flat. Kirk couldn't place it. What did Spock want to do? He was too tired to try and figure it out.

Kirk wracked his mind to focus. "What, Spock?" The words were slurred. He was so tired.

Kirk felt the Vulcan's hand settle on his shoulder, and then his world faded to darkness.

So what do you think? Please read and Review. And this is just going to be a friendship fic.

AN: It only takes about four pounds of pressure to break a human rib, so I'm assuming Kirk has quite a few of them broken because he gets hit in the ribs a lot. Spock just destroyed him in that fight. Also, Kirk was as assistant instructor in advanced hand to hand combat. It takes a very serious hit to make someone trained to fight drop their hands. Kirk drops his hands. He loses the ability to even attempt to defend himself. He had to be really hurting after that fight with Spock is all I'm saying. And then Nero and Ayel also beat the tar out of him. I'm running with that.