A/N: I am so sorry this chapter took me so long. I didn't mean for that to happen-it took me awhile before I was satisfied. Also, a huge thanks to everyone who reviewed and/or alerted this story. I'm happy you guys like it!
Anyway, here it is, and it is the last chapter. Enjoy!
"You should be on the bridge," McCoy told Spock as they stepped off the lift. Spock looked over at him as everyone rushed the patient to the nearest unoccupied bed, but the doctor had resumed focused on Jim.
The hypoxia had become apparent to anyone who looked at the captain-the blue on his lips was not stark but certainly noticeable. Bones yelled for a few more nurses and then ordered the tee and turtleneck cut off of his patient. Nurse Chappell rushed over with several hyposprays. Jim's eyes remained closed, his body still.
Getting more oxygen into the young captain was the top priority. Bones silently thanked the stars that he had a competent medical staff as he grabbed each of the hyposprays that had been brought over, administering them to his friend one by one. The combination of the first few would aid in Jim's breathing and raise his oxygen levels. As he continued his ministrations, McCoy silently chastised himself.
He'd had his hands full last night with Captain Pike. Truthfully, he'd had his hands full ever since he became the Chief Medical Officer, and not because he couldn't handle his patients but because it had come so unexpectedly, as had the sheer amount of patients the medical staff had to deal with, which just kept growing as the disasters kept coming. After Jim and Spock had returned last night with the injured Pike, McCoy had spent hours with him in surgery and afterwards to repair the damage that had been done. But Pike's life hadn't been in danger then, and now Jim's was.
He should have known to check on Jim when he'd finished with Pike, or at the least have one of the other doctors do it. He'd never known his friend to willingly seek out medical attention, no matter how badly he needed it. A quick check up would have caught this long before it turned into something serious, something life-threatening.
All he could do about it now was focus on the present, get his friend through the crisis, and that was exactly what McCoy was going to do. He picked out the nylatheum hypospray, the standard treatment given for a damaged larynx. It was the best treatment they had, but it wasn't a cure. Only time could heal a damaged larynx, but in the meanwhile, Bones could help it along and make it less painful to live through. When he was sure the hypoxia was under control, he pressed the nylatheum into Jim's neck.
The chaos died almost immediately after Dr. McCoy gave the captain the last hypospray. The doctor left soon afterwards to check on his other patients, including Captain Pike. This left Spock alone with Kirk, who was still unconscious. Spock wondered if Pike should be informed of what was happening with Captain Kirk, although the Vulcan himself didn't know. McCoy hadn't acknowledged him since they stepped off the lift, and no one else had stopped to explain to him what was going on, although he had surmised that Kirk's life was no longer in danger. He figured McCoy never would have left him if it were.
As for Captain Pike, he was still immobile and in a lot of pain. Plans were to take him back to Earth with the rest of the injured when the shuttles arrived, but that would leave the Enterprise with no captain, and especially given the circumstances, Starfleet would never let that happen. Spock realized he should probably inform the officers on the bridge of what was going on so they could relay the information to Starfleet, but again that required him to wait for McCoy to return and tell him.
Staring down at the man next to him, the Vulcan's eyes traced the bruises on Kirk's neck. Only once before had Spock let his emotions control him to the point of harming another. Then, he'd been a boy, had attacked another Vulcan boy, and despite his anger, hadn't really done much damage. Even then, he'd felt shame. Now, he'd attacked a human and almost killed him. Worse, he was actually starting to like and respect Jim.
After awhile, McCoy returned. Spock saw McCoy's eyes darken when the doctor spotted him standing next to Kirk's bed. Spock frowned slightly but decided to speak with the doctor anyway.
"Doctor, I was wondering if you could talk to me about the condition of Captain Kirk."
McCoy was scanning Jim with the tricorder again. "He'll be fine. His throat will still hurt for a few days, and the bruises will take a while to clear up, but he'll live."
"Good. That's good."
The doctor eyed him but said nothing. Spock raised his eyebrow. "Surely you don't think I was hoping for a different outcome?"
"Well, you are the one who put him in this condition."
The Vulcan took in a deep breath, feelings of guilt and shame, and anger, rising up in him and threatening once again to take control. He'd promised himself more than once that he wouldn't let that happen anymore. He glanced down at Kirk and then back to McCoy.
"I don't intend to let it happen again."
"Nor do I," McCoy retorted.
When Jim awoke, he was immediately displeased at the pain he felt in his throat. "Ugh," he rasped.
"Ah, Jim, you're awake."
"I'm starting to loathe hearing those words from you," Jim told his friend, voice still rough, as he rubbed his throat.
"Yes, well, this all could have been avoided." McCoy gave the captain a pointed look.
"Bones, I didn't know how bad it was, I swear!" Jim protested. "I was breathing just fine last night. I think. What time is it? How long have I been here?"
"Relax, it's only been a couple of hours."
"Oh, good. So, no permanent damage?"
"No, you'll make a full recovery, but you were lucky on this one, Jim. If I hadn't gotten to the bridge when I did, you could have died. You were hardly breathing."
Jim's brows furrowed in confusion. "But I was breathing just fine last night. It wasn't until this morning that I started... having problems."
Nodding, McCoy explained to Jim his injuries. "Your larynx was damaged, a strangulation injury. It's a progressive condition. The symptoms can take up to 24 hours to present themselves, so you may have felt fine last night but you were getting slowly worse."
"See? Why would I have come to you last night? I didn't know anything was wrong. Besides, you were with Captain Pike."
"You still should have come to me this morning," McCoy snapped. "And don't argue that one, you know it's true. I swear, Jim, you have got to have more consideration for your health."
"Okay, I'm sorry. So... you're supposed to be treating this... whatever it was?"
McCoy huffed. "A damaged larynx caused by strangulation."
"Right. So, why does it still hurt so much? Can't you give me some hypospray for pain?"
"I can't believe you withheld a life-threatening injury from me and now you're complaining about a little bit of pain," McCoy snapped, rolling his eyes. "It probably hurt a hell of a lot more a few hours ago than it does now."
"True." Jim swallowed, and promptly beamed. "Hey, I am healing! I can swallow now."
"Imagine that. Doctors doing their job."
"So, since I'm on the mend and everything, I should get back to the bridge. The shuttles will be here soon." Jim moved to hop off the bed he was laying in but was immediately pushed back down.
"You aren't leaving sickbay until I say you do."
Jim shook his head vigorously. "No, I have to be on the bridge. I'm the captain, I have responsibilities."
"Well, they can wait a little bit longer. You need more rest, Jim. I'll give you something to put you out if it comes to it."
Accepting defeat, but only temporarily, the captain lay back in the bed, grumbling. "Oh, sure, but you won't give me anything for the pain I'm in."
"If you really want me to I can," McCoy threatened.
"I'm good," the patient squeaked, realizing he probably wouldn't be able to escape sickbay. He nuzzled his head back into the pillow, wondering how long his sentence would be.
Spock came in a few minutes later. "Captain, you're looking better."
"Thanks, Spock. How are things on the bridge?"
The Vulcan frowned. "You don't sound any better."
"His voice'll get better in a few days," McCoy snapped, and Jim whined quietly at the prognosis.
"The officers on the bridge were all very concerned for you, Captain," Spock informed Jim. "I have assured them you will recover. Lieutenant Uhura sent a message to Starfleet to inform them of what happened. Since Doctor McCoy insists you'll be able to resume command in a few hours, they've decided to proceed with the plans to move Captain Pike back to Earth. Repairs should be speeding up with the extra people."
Jim felt his face growing hot, not appreciating that he wasn't needed. Now I'll never get Bones to spring me sooner, he mused to himself grumpily.
Spock fell quiet for a minute, and when he spoke again, his voice was lower than before. "I owe you an apology, Captain Kirk, for what happened yesterday that led to this."
Jim shook his head. "Spock-"
"No. My actions were inexcusable and could have resulted in your death. As Dr. McCoy tells it, they very nearly did."
"Well, I owe you an apology too, Spock. What I said... I didn't mean it, I was just trying to get you to show that you were emotionally compromised. It was mean, and I'm sorry. As for this whole strangulation thing.. well, don't worry about. And besides, you weren't the only one."
"What?" Spock and McCoy asked in unison.
"Wasn't just you," Kirk repeated. "Nero tried to strangle me too, and he got a lot closer to succeeding than you did. Nice timing on disabling the drill yesterday, by the way. But then his right-hand picked me up by my throat-that was uncomfortable. I saved myself that time," he added with a smirk.
McCoy looked outraged. Jim waited for the yelling to start, but Spock intervened quickly.
"I believe you and I had best let the captain rest for the remainder of his time here," he said to the doctor. McCoy, right on the verge of beginning his tirade, blinked and then agreed, glaring at his patient.
"We'll talk about this later, Jim," he promised as he lead the Vulcan out of the bay. Jim grinned, happy to be off the hook for the moment, and rubbed his neck as he relaxed.
In the hallway, McCoy muttered under his breath until Spock addressed him. "Doctor, I don't believe any amount of yelling or even asking could make the captain change his behaviors when it comes to his health. However, in the future, we will both be here to ensure something like this doesn't happen again."
The doctor regarded him for a moment and nodded, feeling relieved to have someone to share the burdens that often came with being a close friend to James Kirk.
I hope the end wasn't too abrupt, and I hope that this chapter met your expectations! I wasn't expecting the amount of response I got for chapter one, LOL. Reviews are greatly appreciated!