A/N: This was my entry for the startrekbigbang challenge over at livejournal. If you're interested, there is wonderful hand-drawn art (3 pictures) and an awesome fanmix for this story as well; links are available from my profile.
Warnings: There's nothing too graphic in here, although there are mentions of torture and abuse, as well as a good smattering of language, so read at your own risk.
Disclaimer: Not mine. All titles, characters, lyrics, etc. belong to their respectful owners. I just like to torture them and then put them back together for the fun of it.
ETA: Revised February 2012 for section breaks, grammar, and the like.
Doctor My Eyes
Part I: Hear me screaming out
"I'm breaking; I can't do this on my own.
Can you hear me screaming out? Am I all alone?"
-RED, "Take It All Away"
It was a volleyball.
McCoy stared at it, shifting so the object rested between his feet on the cracked concrete. The rubber was unmarred but covered with a thick layer of dust, much like the various structures surrounding the recreational courts – the structures still standing, anyway. Deflated remnants of other balls were scattered around on the ground; only the volleyball remained intact.
In the distance, he knew search parties were scouring the colony for survivors. He also knew there would be none – he'd already examined over a hundred dead bodies. He could hear people shouting at each other, and every now and then he heard Spock's voice as he gave another order. Everyone around him was trying to discover just what had happened to the colony, but all McCoy could think about was when he saw this same volleyball less than an hour before.
"For god's sake, Jim, you haven't even been back on the ship for ten minutes!"
Kirk flashed a grin at him as he adjusted the sack slung over his right shoulder. "I promised the kids I'd patch up their equipment, so I've got to take it back to them."
"And then, knowing you, you're going to insist on testing it all to make sure it works properly," McCoy shot back with a roll of his eyes.
Kirk's grin widened as he stepped up onto the transporter pad. "It's almost scary how well you know me, Bones," he replied.
McCoy folded his arms as Scott chuckled and adjusted the controls. "I expect your ass up here in twenty minutes, Captain," he ordered. "You've been up since yesterday's Beta shift, and you won't be fit for duty if you don't sleep. Got it?"
Kirk rolled his eyes as he tossed the volleyball in his left hand into the air, bumped it gently with his fist, and then caught it again. "Aye, sir," he quipped. His grin softened into a fond smile as he added, "I'll be fine, Bones. Energize, Scotty."
McCoy blinked as a pair of black boots stepped into his view on the other side of the volleyball, jerking him from the memory. He looked up into Spock's eyes, mouth pulling into a frown when he saw the deep, concerned furrow of the Vulcan's eyebrows. There was a patch of dark red blood across Spock's blue uniform shirt, and a streak of dirt smeared along his left cheek. "There is no sign of any human life on the planet," the first officer reported grimly.
"But?" McCoy prodded.
Spock paused, glancing down at the volleyball resting on the ground between them. "Scans of the bodies indicate high levels of antiproton residue," he said after a moment.
McCoy raised an eyebrow. "The kind of residue left by Romulan disruptors?" he asked darkly.
"It appears so. In addition, the nature of the wounds and the lack of signs of hostile life in the vicinity prior to the attack suggest the use of stealth common in Romulan war tactics."
"Damn cloaking devices," McCoy growled, scanning the destruction with narrowed eyes. He'd been on the planet less than two hours ago, and the colony's main village had been bustling with almost eight hundred people. Now the only signs of life came from the crew members of the Enterprise as they piled the colonists' remains in rows along the streets in preparation for another ship to retrieve the bodies and take them back home to their families.
"Indeed," Spock replied calmly. McCoy wasn't fooled, however – he heard the subtle tone of fury in the Vulcan's voice.
"If the Romulans were hidden from our scanners, why didn't they wait until we'd left before attacking?" the CMO wondered.
"They may have thought we had departed from the area – a thought logical in origin, for if not for the captain's last-minute errand, we would have been well away from the colony when the attack commenced," Spock declared. "And if not for the captain's transmission…"
"We wouldn't have known about the attack," McCoy finished quietly, staring down at the volleyball again. A harsh wind laden with the scent of blood and decay gusted across the courts, sending dust and ash into the air and causing the ball to roll a little before resting against a chunk of cracked concrete.
Spock nodded. "Correct." He paused, then added, "Since the Romulans are no longer on the planet, it seems the captain's arrival changed their plans."
McCoy frowned. "What do you think they were trying to do?"
Spock scanned the far horizon for a moment. "This colony's main purpose was to explore the surrounding land for dilithium deposits. Initial scans revealed Wertus I has traces of dilithium in its crust."
"And you think the Romulans were after the dilithium," McCoy guessed.
Spock nodded again. "As Wertus I is on the edge of the Federation side of the Romulan Neutral Zone, it is only logical to assume that the Romulans would risk open warfare on the assumption that the recently established colony would have few defense systems and little protection from the Federation."
McCoy scowled darkly. "Looks like they were right."
Spock's eyebrow lifted slightly. "Indeed, Doctor." He took a deep breath through his nose before sighing softly. "It would therefore be logical for the Romulans to assume there would be little chance of encountering enforcement of the arrangement between the Federation and the Romulan Empire. It is my belief that Jim's arrival proved the Romulans' theory to be erroneous, and that they have thus retreated back into their own territory."
McCoy swallowed at that news and bent down to pick up the volleyball. It felt unnaturally heavy as he tossed it from one hand to the other. "Well, Jim's frequency is still active, which proves he's still alive. So if there's no sign of life on the planet, then where the hell is Jim?"
Spock glanced up at the steadily-darkening sky. "As you humans are fond of saying, Doctor… do not ask questions you do not want the answer to."
McCoy had always had a healthy disdain for the politicians within the Federation government. Being both a CMO and close friends with the captain of Starfleet's flagship for the last nine months had given him plenty of opportunity to see the ample amounts of bureaucratic bullshit the higher-ups were capable of creating.
The last four days had turned that disdain into pure malice.
To McCoy and everyone else onboard the Enterprise, the Federation clearly had the right to go after the Romulans that had kidnapped their captain. After all, the Romulans had attacked first, thus violating the treaty and giving the Enterprise room to take the necessary action to retrieve Kirk.
Instead, they were stuck hovering at the very edge of the Romulan Neutral Zone – literally millimeters away from leaving Federation space – while the Federation Council back on Earth debated over their right to violate the treaty.
The most infuriating aspect of the entire thing was that some members of the Council questioned whether Romulans were in fact responsible for the annihilation of Wertus I, citing a lack of evidence of Romulan activity – never mind the fact that dozens of well-respected Starfleet officials, including Admiral Pike and Commander Spock, had testified to the fact that all signs clearly pointed to Romulan activity. The dissenters pointed out the fact that up until the moment the Enterprise's reinforcements had landed on the planet, there was no sign of anything wrong – even scans conducted in the moments before Kirk's final trip down to the surface revealed no signs that anything had gone amiss, let alone that Romulans were attacking.
Apparently antiproton residue, traces of transporter energy, a patch of dark green Romulan blood on the planet's surface near Kirk's landing point, eight hundred dead bodies, and a frantic transmission from Kirk himself weren't enough evidence of Romulan activity for a select few Council members.
That damn transmission was the real kicker. McCoy had been forced to listen to it three more times during their talks with both Starfleet and the Federation Council, which meant he heard the recording four more times than he'd ever wanted to in the first place. Even if he hadn't known Kirk better than anyone else onboard the Enterprise, he would've known something was immediately wrong just from the abruptness of the message. Yet the imbeciles on the Council weren't persuaded.
"Kirk to Enterprise! Send reinforcements now! Rom–"
It wasn't much – less than three seconds of transmission – but McCoy clearly heard the panic in his best friend's voice, and it grated on him every time he thought about it. Romulans had never been friendly to their prisoners of war, but the fact that it was James T. Kirk in their clutches was no small matter. There'd been a lot of tension between the Romulans and the Federation after the Narada incident, and McCoy was well aware of several threats from various Romulan leaders against Kirk. There was more than one Romulan who wanted to kill Kirk for his role in the Narada's destruction nine months before.
But if any of those particular Romulans had gotten a hold of their young captain, they hadn't managed to kill him off yet. The signal from Kirk's frequency was weak, though whether it was from distance or from actual physical weakness was hard to tell. But McCoy's Jim's-getting-himself-in-trouble sense had been going off nonstop since the day of the attack, and somehow he knew that Kirk wouldn't be able to last much longer.
Which was why they needed to do something. Now.
"Damn it, Spock, you know as well as I do that the Romulans have Jim. They haven't made any demands for an exchange, which means they aren't in the mood to let him go," McCoy growled once again. "And if they aren't going to let him go, then that means they're gonna kill him!"
"I'm well aware of the captain's situation, Doctor," Spock replied calmly, hands clasped behind his back as he stood next to the captain's chair. "But the Federation has yet to determine if the Enterprise's potential crossing into Romulan space would violate the treaty and induce another war, and until we receive approval from the Council we are unable to proceed."
The rest of the members of the bridge crew were silent as they watched the exchange. "Screw the Council, damn it!" McCoy exclaimed. "The Romulans breached the treaty, which makes it null and void!"
"The ramifications of crossing into Romulan space and inducing a war–"
"We're already at war, Spock! Eight hundred Federation citizens are dead because of Romulan disruptors! If that isn't an act of war, I don't know what is!"
"We could've rescued Jim days ago, but instead we're sittin' here twiddlin' our thumbs and waitin' for a bunch of idiots with sticks up their asses to make a decision that should've been obvious from the get-go!" the CMO ranted, pacing violently across the space in front of the captain's chair.
"Lieutenant-Commander Scott has been working on a way to retrieve the captain with the transporter–"
"You know as well as I do that he'll never be able to do that unless we can cross over into the Neutral Zone," McCoy snarled. "Scotty's good, but he ain't that good."
Spock's eyebrows lowered and he took a step forward, cutting off McCoy's pacing path. "I understand your concern, Dr. McCoy," he declared, voice hard. "Do not think you are the only person onboard the Enterprise who wants to see Captain Kirk brought back alive and well."
McCoy narrowed his eyes as he glared at the first officer. "If it were you in his place, he would've already crossed that damn line, and you know it," he hissed quietly.
Spock's eyes flashed, but before he could respond, a sudden burst of white light filled the room. Everyone flinched, covering their faces to shield their eyes. As the light faded, startled gasps rippled across the bridge.
Jim Kirk stood less than a meter away from Spock and McCoy, covered in blood and bruises. McCoy's instincts took over, and he immediately began to assess the injuries he could. Kirk's gold tunic was gone, most of his undershirt had been shredded, and there were long tears in the cloth of his pants that revealed deep gashes in his legs. Heavy iron manacles were latched around his ankles above his bloodied bare feet, and another set of shackles dangled from his left wrist. The free end rested on the floor, and they could see bits of blood and skin embedded on the empty cuff, clearly ripped from the deep abrasions on his right wrist.
Kirk's eyes were what grabbed McCoy's attention, however. They were partially swollen shut by the bruises that colored most of his face, but beneath the lids his eyes were dull and flat – absent of the life that normally sparkled in them. "Jim?" McCoy called softly, taking a single step forward.
Kirk looked around the bridge, glancing at Spock for a moment before resting his gaze on McCoy. "Huh," he croaked, voice flat and toneless. "It worked."
Then his eyes rolled up into his head as his knees buckled. McCoy lurched forward and managed to move behind the captain before Kirk's unconscious body collided with him. They landed in an awkward heap, Kirk's upper body in the CMO's lap, his head tucked against McCoy's neck. McCoy cringed at the heat radiating from Kirk's skin, and he glanced up. "Get me the med team, now!" he barked, sending the crew into a flurry of motion.
McCoy focused his attention back on the figure slumped limply against him. Kirk's breathing was shallow and wheezy, and when the doctor lightly skimmed the captain's ribs, he could easily feel two move beneath his hands. Dried blood flaked off Kirk's hair and forehead onto McCoy's shoulder, and fresh blood oozed from the gash along Kirk's hairline onto McCoy's neck.
"Damn it, Jim," McCoy murmured without venom, shifting slightly so that his chin rested lightly on top of Kirk's head. He wrapped one arm around the captain's shoulders and brought his free hand up to rest against Kirk's cheek, cursing under his breath when he felt how dry his friend's skin was despite his high fever.
He glanced up as Spock knelt next to them. "How is he?" the first officer asked quietly.
"Not good," McCoy admitted softly, tightening his grip on the younger man. "Not good at all."
It took six hours before McCoy could upgrade Kirk's status from "not good" to "hanging in there." Four days with the Romulans had wreaked a severe toll on the captain's body: six broken ribs, four cracked ones, lacerated spleen, bruised kidney, two compressed vertebrae, fractured ankles, broken hand, cracked jaw, missing fingernails, numerous lacerations and burns – and that wasn't even counting the infection raging through Kirk's body and sending his temperature dangerously high. It was remarkable that he'd even been able to stand, let alone escape from the Romulans' clutches.
But the physical injuries weren't McCoy's greatest cause of worry. Thanks to modern technology's medications and regenerators, Kirk would be off his feet for a week at most, and his temperature was only slightly elevated at the moment.
No, what worried the CMO was the captain's utter lack of neural activity. All the scans had indicated that while not quite in a coma, Kirk's brain was only performing enough to keep his body functioning.
It wasn't the first time McCoy had seen readings like this. During his training at the Academy, he'd treated a wounded soldier who'd been flown in from a battlefield over in the United States of Africa. The soldier hadn't been badly wounded, but the emotional trauma he encountered during the battle and the resulting post-traumatic stress disorder sent him into a coma that he'd never recovered from. As the head doctor had put it, the soldier had simply lost the will to live. McCoy had never forgotten what those readings looked like, and he'd hoped to never see them again.
Kirk's neural scans were nearly identical.
"You're not gonna do that, though," McCoy muttered, settling into a chair next to Kirk's bio-bed. "You hear me, Kid? You better not."
Kirk remained motionless on the bed, save for the slight rise and fall of his chest as he breathed in and out. The skin on his face was still vividly colored despite the reduction in swelling, and the fingers on his right hand had been individually wrapped to protect them until his fingernails grew back, but other than that he looked perfectly healthy. By all outward appearances, the captain was well on the way to recovery.
However, McCoy knew better than anyone that he wasn't. On any other mission, Kirk would've been awake two hours ago, demanding to be released from sickbay and struggling to escape, to the point where McCoy would've had to sedate him with a hypo to make him rest.
Now, though, Kirk was lying abnormally still with only the standard amount of painkillers and antibiotics coursing through his bloodstream. There'd been no need to sedate him at all – he'd only stirred when McCoy had started working on his compressed vertebrae, and even then he'd fallen back into unconsciousness before Chapel could get the sedatives ready.
McCoy leaned back in the chair, shoulder resting against the bed near Kirk's knee, as he scanned the readings on the bio-bed monitor. There'd been no change since he'd reported the captain's status to the rest of the senior officers an hour ago, and it made the doctor's shoulders slump a little more.
"Don't let those damn Romulans win this time, Kid," he murmured gruffly, crossing his arms. "Don't make me have done all this work for nothing."
Kirk's eyes finally opened a week later, and even then the action was far from reassuring.
It was one of the few times McCoy was distracted enough to not look over at Kirk's bio-bed every five minutes. Lieutenant Yento from the science division had developed a nasty reaction to a plant she'd been experimenting with, and the swelling was threatening to close her trachea. He'd just gotten the young woman stabilized when he heard Chapel gasp. "Doctor!"
McCoy's head shot up and turned to follow the nurse's gaze. His back straightened in surprise when he saw Kirk staring up at the ceiling, lying flat on his back and blinking languidly against the glare of the lights above him.
"Chapel, finish up here," McCoy ordered, thrusting the tricorder into her hands before striding over to Kirk's side.
"Hey, Jim," he greeted, relief flooding his voice as he looked at the readings. His eyebrows furrowed as he scanned the charts, and he looked down at the captain, who had yet to pull his gaze away from the sickbay ceiling.
The vacant stare made McCoy's stomach drop.
"Physically, he's fine," McCoy declared in the conference room a few hours later. "He doesn't even need to stay in sickbay. Mentally, though…" He trailed off with a weary sigh, rubbing at his stubbled face. "It's like he hasn't even woken up yet. His neural scans have barely changed from when he was unconscious."
Five faces stared back at him grimly. "So… what are we going to do?" Chekov asked, accent even thicker than normal.
Uhura lifted her chin, lips pressed into a determined line. "We're going to help him get better, that's what we'll do."
Sulu frowned, tapping his fingertips against the table. "What about Starfleet?"
"He's got a point – if anyone finds out about this, they're gonna toss the lad into the loony bin," Scott said with a grim nod. "Lock him up and toss the key."
"They wouldn't do that!" Chekov paused for a moment before adding softly, "Would they?"
McCoy scowled. "They wouldn't like it, but it wouldn't be the first time they've had to lock one of Starfleet's finest away. Even if it's their own damn fault he's like this."
"There is little point dwelling on the past," Spock declared firmly before Scott could start on a tirade against the Council. "We cannot change what has happened. We can no longer try to convince the Council to see the error of their ways. What we must focus on now is ensuring the captain regains complete health."
"Would it have made a difference?" Uhura asked quietly, dark eyes focused on McCoy. "If we had been able to go after him right away… would it have made a difference?"
McCoy stared at them all for a long moment; over the last few months, he'd forgotten just how incredibly young most of them were. "I don't know. Being captured by Romulans is far from a picnic, but Jim's made of tougher stuff than that. Y'all know that as well as I do – he's proved that time and again already. It would take more than physical torture to make him shut down this bad."
"Then why? Why's he like this?" Sulu asked.
McCoy snorted humorlessly as he folded his arms. "If I knew that, I'd be able to fix him."
The next few days were about as close to Hell as McCoy had ever been. Despite numerous tests, visits from a few crew members, and various attempts to get some kind of response out of him, Kirk stayed silent, moving only when directed and staring vacantly past everything that was put in front of his eyes.
It was completely unnerving. McCoy had associated Kirk with action and movement from the moment he'd first met him on that shuttle years ago. Kirk was never still and rarely silent – not even in sleep, as McCoy had found out when they'd shared a room during their second year at the Academy. Kirk had tossed and turned so much that they'd had to pull his bed away from the wall so he would stop kicking it in his sleep.
And he was no better awake, either. He was constantly tapping a foot, drumming his fingers on any available service, or chatting with someone. His eyes were always darting around, especially in new places. He had a passion for learning new things, and any time they beamed down to a new planet, Kirk always looked like a kid in a candy shop with his wide eyes that greedily looked at everything they could.
But now… now Kirk moved like an automaton, eating whatever was placed directly in front of him and moving only when physically directed. When left to himself, he stared off into space or picked at the loose threads of whatever clothes he was wearing at the moment. He hadn't spoken once since he collapsed on the bridge.
McCoy had never been one to ask for advice – especially for anything medical – but he'd only held out for a day before sending messages out to some of the best-known psychiatrists in Starfleet, asking for opinions and ideas on how to treat Kirk.
The responses he got were far from encouraging. Most used large words and superfluous sentences to say, "I don't know – I've never seen anything like this." A few suggested various tests McCoy could perform – all tests McCoy had tried already, to no avail. There were also several responses encouraging him to admit Kirk into the psych ward back at Starfleet Medical. Those McCoy flat-out ignored.
The response from William Higgins, one of the head psychiatrists at Medical, was the only thing that gave him some semblance of hope. "The human mind is incredibly complex – something which we've studied for centuries but haven't even come close to understanding," he'd said in his recording. "The possibilities for treatment of such a condition are limited only by the ideas youcan come up with. Perhaps the solution to your problem lies not within Captain Kirk's mind, but within your own."
So when Chekov started dropping by during his off hours to visit the captain, when Spock dropped by to debrief McCoy regarding the proceedings between the Federation and the Romulans next to Kirk's bio-bed, and when Sulu asked if he could try reading a book filled with Kirk's favorite Terran poetry, McCoy didn't object.
Part of him hoped that maybe – just maybe – Kirk would respond to his crew like he hadn't to anything else. And as the hours dragged by with no sign of change, McCoy found himself clinging resolutely to that hope.
This was James T. Kirk, after all. He never ignored his crew.
"It's the worst case of PTSD I've ever seen," Chapel said quietly to McCoy the third morning after Kirk had awakened. They watched as Scott talked to the captain animatedly, adding enthusiastic hand motions to emphasize whatever story he was telling. Kirk's bio-bed had been raised so that the captain was sitting up. He appeared completely oblivious to the engineer as he dragged a bandaged finger over a spot on his sweatpants just above the knee.
McCoy nodded wearily as he sipped at the lukewarm cup of coffee he'd brewed an hour before. "I've tried everything I can think of, but I'm a doctor, not a psychiatrist." He sighed and rubbed at his gritty eyes. "There's only so much I can do."
"It took him several days to wake up," Chapel pointed out slowly. "Much longer than it should have."
"So maybe his mind's just taking its time to catch up with the rest of him." Chapel pursed her lips thoughtfully. "Doctor… maybe we should send Captain Kirk to Starfleet Medical until he recovers."
McCoy shot her an acidic glare. "What, so they can pump him full of medications and keep him locked up in a nice cozy room?" He sighed wearily. "I can't do that to him. We'll find something."
Chapel stared at him for a long moment. It was an unnerving stare – McCoy felt as though he were being x-rayed. "If Lieutenant Sulu was on that bed instead, would you say the same thing?"
McCoy's eyebrows furrowed. "What the hell're you talkin' about?"
"If it were anyone else, would you have them sent to Starfleet Medical for further treatment?" Chapel asked seriously.
The flimsy cup buckled in his grip. "Do you think I enjoy seein' him sit there like he's some kind of machine that's just waitin' to be turned on?" he asked, voice dangerously calm.
Chapel's chin lifted a little. "No. I do think you'd rather see him there instead of sending him off for the treatment he needs."
McCoy snorted. "There's no one else who can help him," he muttered darkly, taking another long draw of the bitter coffee as he thought of all of the messages he'd received.
"Is that what you really think? That he's better off trying to recover from severe mental trauma on a starship? Or are you doing this because he's your friend and you don't want to see him go?"
"I'm doing this, Nurse Chapel," McCoy growled, "because not only is he Jim Kirk, my best friend, but he's also James T. Kirk, captain of the USS Enterprise. He's still on this ship because he cares more about her and her crew than his own damn life, and if there's anything in this whole goddamn universe that can pull him out of this, it's this ship!"
The entire sickbay had fallen silent by the end of McCoy's mini-rant – save for Scott, who was still enthusiastically telling his story to an unresponsive Kirk, neither one acting as if they'd heard McCoy. The CMO's gaze dropped to the floor as he took another drink of coffee, silently wishing he'd added some bourbon to it.
"The ship's not the only thing that'll help him, Doctor," Chapel said finally, laying a hand on his elbow. "He's got you." She smiled faintly when the older man glanced at her. "And you've got us. We'll find a way."
McCoy nodded once but didn't speak. He drained the last of his coffee and tossed the empty cup in the trash as he walked over to Scott and Kirk.
"…an' at this point I'm about as dizzy as a dodo, but I says to him, 'Wilson, I betcha a bottle of whiskey I can take you down in ten seconds flat.'" Scott grinned at the captain. "Och, and let me tell you, laddie, this fella must've been part Klingon."
"Why? Was he big?" McCoy asked as he examined the readings on the bio-bed.
Scott glanced up at the doctor, the grin on his face not quite reaching his eyes. "Nope, but he smelled somethin' awful!"
McCoy's lips twitched a little as he glanced at Kirk. His eyes widened when he realized Kirk was staring back at him, a dark, haunted look in his vivid blue eyes. Before McCoy could say anything, Kirk blinked and the vacant stare was back as if it had never changed.
McCoy didn't pull his gaze away from Kirk's face. "Yeah, I saw it, too," he murmured quietly in response to Scott's unasked question. Kirk took no notice of either of them as he started rubbing a finger over the seam of his sweatshirt. "He's still in there. Somewhere."
Scott sighed, shoulders slumping forward as he watched the younger man. "What happened to you, Cap'n?" he asked so softly that McCoy almost didn't hear him. "Why won't you talk to us?"
The answering silence was even more depressing than the question.
He was standing on the recreational courts back on Wertus I. There was no sign of anyone else in the area, but a movement at the bottom of his eye caught his attention. The volleyball rolled to a stop at his feet. When he looked up again, all he could see was white.
His eyes widened as he spun around, trying to see where the cry had come from. "Jim?" The call echoed back to him, mixing in with his friend's distant voice.
"Why can't you hear me?"
The whiteness was disorienting, and he stumbled a little as he took a few steps forward. "Jim? Jim! Where are you?"
"I've been screaming this whole time, Bones. Why won't you help me?"
"I'm trying!" His feet caught on some unseen object, and he tumbled to his hands and knees. Kirk's voice echoed around him, but he couldn't see anything besides the damn volleyball. "I'm trying," he repeated in a broken whisper, lowering his head down to try and drown out the words.
"Don't leave me alone, Bones. Please. Can't you hear me scream?"
McCoy gasped and his head shot up off the desk, the moisture on his cheeks causing his PADD to stick to his skin momentarily before falling back with a clatter as Kirk's voice continued to whisper in his mind.
Can't you hear me scream?
He rubbed his face, glancing at the chronometer and scowling when he saw that he'd slept through the end of Gamma shift and the first half of Delta. "Damn it," he whispered wearily, rolling his shoulders and massaging his neck with a hand.
He stood and stretched before stepping through his office door into the darkened sickbay. "Lights, forty percent," he ordered. As the room brightened slightly, he sighed when he saw the sickbay's lone occupant. There'd been no serious injuries or incidents since Lieutenant Yento's visit, which meant that the for last four nights, Kirk had been the only patient in sickbay.
McCoy grabbed a chair and dragged it over to Kirk's bio-bed. The younger man was sleeping on his side, the bandaged fingers on his right hand curled up loosely near his face. McCoy swallowed hard at the sight; Joanna used to sleep in the same position when she was younger.
Why won't you help me?
"I'm trying, Jim," McCoy whispered, sliding the chair over so that when he sat down, he was near Kirk's head. His shoulders curved forward with exhaustion and despair as he rested his forehead on the edge of the bio-bed. "I'm trying so damn hard."
Don't leave me alone, Bones. Please.
"I won't," McCoy promised softly. He glanced up as Kirk sighed in his sleep. The captain's face was completely slack; his eyes didn't even move beneath their lids.
McCoy lowered his head back down to the bed. "But you can't leave, either."