A/N: This was a round one pinch-hit over at trek_exchange on livejournal. Lots of shameless, unbeta'd fluff. Title is from the Hippocratic Oath, in case you were wondering.
Disclaimer: If I owned them, the next movie would be coming out a lot quicker than 2011.
"Only solitary men know the full joys of friendship. Others have their family, but to a solitary and an exile, his friends are everything."
--Warren G. Harding
McCoy snorted at Kirk's hoarse declaration. "Thirty-eight hours in and you finally decide now that this sucks?" he asked, hand coming up automatically to rub Kirk's shoulder as the younger man started coughing again. The coughing fit only lasted for a few moments this time, and Kirk slumped relaxed on the bed with a quiet groan.
"We have only been in quarantine for thirty-five hours and fifty-two minutes," Spock replied crisply from the corner of the sickbay where he had been meditating. McCoy shot him a glare and Spock raised an eyebrow while still keeping his eyes shut. "I was merely pointing out your tendency to exaggerate, Doctor."
Kirk rasped a laugh, looking up at the CMO with fever-glazed eyes. "He's got a point, Bones," he said, voice cracking on every other word.
McCoy rolled his eyes as he pulled the cloth off Kirk's forehead. "I wasn't just talking about being in quarantine," he shot back. He tossed the cloth onto a steadily growing pile of rags on the floor near Kirk's bed and grabbed a fresh one from the large bowl of cool water resting on the empty bio-bed next to Kirk's. "Going planet-side wasn't exactly a picnic either. Here," he finished, draping the fresh cloth across the captain's forehead.
Kirk moaned and closed his eyes as the excess water trickled down the sides of his head into his sweaty hair. "I dunno what you're talking about, Bones," he muttered, slumping even further into the bio-bed. "We had a great time--especially Spock."
"Quite contrary, Captain," Spock answered immediately. His voice was calm, but McCoy didn't miss the subtle tensing of the Vulcan's shoulders. "Unlike select members of the crew, I do not appreciate being the recipient of an alien dignitary's amorous advances."
Kirk cracked an eye open and looked at McCoy. "I think he's talking about me," he declared, coughing a little at the end.
McCoy raised an eyebrow. "No shit, Sherlock."
Kirk opened his mouth to reply, but his retort was lost as his body shuddered. He reached out with his right hand and latched onto the nearest thing he could grab, which happened to be the hem of McCoy's shirt. "It's alright, I got you," the doctor said, rolling the younger man onto his side so he could tip his head over the edge of the bio-bed and heave into the large basin resting on the floor. The basin had already been replaced several times over the last day and a half, so not much came out of Kirk's stomach besides a small amount of stringy bile.
After a few moments, the dry heaving turned into a hacking cough. Kirk curled in on himself as he coughed, forehead pressing into McCoy's leg as the CMO rubbed his shoulder again. Kirk's grip on McCoy's shirt never loosened; the collar dug into McCoy's neck a little every time Kirk coughed.
Gradually the coughing faded into a wheeze and the tension left Kirk's shoulders. He muttered something, but the words were muffled by McCoy's leg. "What was that?" McCoy asked, bending closer.
Kirk turned his head slightly. "Make it stop, Bones," he whispered, keeping his eyes squeezed tightly shut.
"Wish I could, Jim, but unless you want to go into anaphylactic shock, I can't give you the vaccine," McCoy replied lightly, but the worry in his eyes belied his tone. He knew better than anyone that Kirk had to be absolutely miserable to say something like that. "That's what you get for being allergic to half the known compounds in the quadrant. And I can't give you a sedative unless you want to try choking to death on your own vomit again," he finished as he helped Kirk stretch out in a more comfortable position on the bio-bed. After the captain was settled, he picked up the basin and moved to a nearby station to rinse and disinfect it.
Kirk groaned softly as he rolled over to rest on his side. "Spock, d'you have your phaser?" he asked with a half-smirk, focusing his bleary eyes on the first officer.
Spock shifted from his meditative pose and stood up. "I believe shooting you would be counterproductive to your recovery, Captain," he declared as he moved to stand at the foot of Kirk's bio-bed.
"He's not going to stun you, either," McCoy interjected before Kirk could reply. "You'd wake up with sore muscles, and then I'd be the one that would have to deal with all your bitching and complaining," he added as he set the basin on the ground again and put another cloth on Kirk's forehead.
"And the effects of Pliktarin Acontis Influenza only last for approximately forty-one-point-six hours," Spock informed him, eyebrows furrowed slightly as he stared at Kirk's pale and sweaty face.
"He's right, Jim," McCoy affirmed as he scanned the readings on the monitor for a moment. "Your fever's gone down a couple degrees already. Another couple hours and the worst of this will be over."
Kirk coughed a couple times, not even trying to raise his hand to cover it. "And you can't shoot me in the meantime?" he croaked. "Just a little?"
"Afraid not," McCoy replied, perching on the edge of the bed and reaching across to rub Kirk's spine as the captain succumbed to another coughing fit. He didn't attempt to remove Kirk's hand when it snaked up to grab his shirt hem again. "I already spend enough time patching you up after run-ins with crazy aliens," he added over the coughs. "I don't want to do it any more than I have to."
"I may have a possible solution," Spock declared. He waited until Kirk's coughing had eased before continuing, "With you permission, Doctor, I can attempt to help the captain ease into a trance, similar to one an injured Vulcan enters during the healing process. While the effects will not be as powerful in a human as in a Vulcan, this should alleviate some of the distress your body is feeling, Captain, and should allow you to rest for the remainder of our quarantine period."
"Will he be able to wake up if he decides to vomit in his sleep again?" McCoy asked, eyebrows furrowing as he remembered the sounds of Kirk choking twelve hours into the quarantine. "I'd rather not repeat that experience."
Spock nodded once, tilting his head slightly as he looked at the captain. Kirk stared back at him, something akin to hope in his fever-glazed eyes. "Shall I make the attempt?" the Vulcan inquired.
Kirk looked at McCoy, who nodded after a moment's hesitation. "Please," Kirk whispered hoarsely.
Spock moved so he was standing on the other side of Kirk's bio-bed as McCoy removed the cloth from Kirk's forehead again. The Vulcan reached up and placed both hands on Kirk's head, splaying his fingers out so his fingertips aligned with the psi points along Kirk's face. After a moment, both Spock and Kirk's eyes fluttered closed at the same time.
McCoy's eyebrows furrowed slightly when he heard Spock murmur something under his breath. Kirk echoed it a moment later. They fell silent for a few minutes, and McCoy tilted his head as he watched. The lines of pain that had been etched on Kirk's forehead for the last day and a half faded, and his breathing seemed less labored. His grip on McCoy's shirt loosened by degrees until McCoy was able to ease the fabric free from the younger man's fingers. He lowered Kirk's arm to the bio-bed and glanced up when he heard Kirk whisper, "Thank you."
"You are welcome," Spock replied softly as he opened his eyes and removed his fingers from Kirk's head. The captain didn't stir.
McCoy smiled a little as he looked up at the readings on the bio-bed monitor. "His fever's dropped again," he murmured as he looked at Spock. "And he's finally sleeping."
"As I had expected," Spock replied with a nod, straightening and clasping his hands behind his back. He glanced down at the sleeping captain. "I expect he shall sleep through the rest of Beta shift."
"Good. He needs it," McCoy said, standing. He glanced down at Kirk before looking back at Spock. "I don't say this a lot, but… thank you."
Spock inclined his head. "I was merely fulfilling my role as first officer. It is the duty of the first officer to ensure the captain's health remains sound for the duration of their service together."
McCoy's lips twitched as he raised an eyebrow. "Most first officers wouldn't spend two days in sickbay when they don't really need to."
Spock's eyebrows arched. "I am quite sure I do not know what you are referring to, Doctor," he declared smoothly.
"Right," McCoy said with a smirk. "So you don't know as well as I do that Pliktarin Acontis Influenza is only contagious for six hours and that we haven't needed to be in quarantine for the last four shifts."
"No, Doctor, I am afraid I do not," Spock replied as he sat upon a nearby bio-bed. "And I shall continue to be ignorant until the captain reawakens and our time of self-imposed quarantine is completed," he added as he returned to his meditative pose.
McCoy chuckled and shook his head as he started gathering up the discarded cloths from the floor. Once his arms were full, he sent them down a nearby chute to be cleaned. Turning, he was surprised to see that instead of meditating, Spock was studying Kirk. He smiled a little and folded his arms. "Amazing, isn't it?" he murmured.
"What?" Spock asked softly.
"How easily one kid can make a crew out of a bunch of loners and losers," McCoy explained as he approached Kirk's bio-bed again.
Spock was silent for a moment. "Before my service onboard the Enterprise," he began, keeping his voice quiet and his eyes averted, "I had no acquaintances that I would consider friends. Now I have several."
"Yeah," McCoy agreed. "Jim has a way of making friends with the friendless." He paused before adding, "It's one of the things I admire most about him."
Spock nodded once. "It is a venerable personality trait."
McCoy tilted his head as he studied the Vulcan. "Look," he said finally. "I know we haven't always seen eye-to-eye on things--"
Spock lifted an eyebrow. "Has there even been one occurrence?"
"Good point," McCoy admitted with a chuckle. He sobered as he looked back at Kirk. "But… I'm glad you're his first officer. God knows I've had a hell of a time keeping an eye on him by myself. It's… it's good to know I'm not the only one doing it anymore."
Spock inclined his head. "I, too, am glad that I am not alone in this endeavor."
McCoy nodded, lifting an eyebrow. "Good. But just so you know… this conversation doesn't leave this room."
"I was not aware we were conversing," Spock replied, closing his eyes.
McCoy folded his arms. "I thought Vulcans never lie."
"This is true," Spock answered, keeping his eyes closed. McCoy could've sworn he saw a hint of a smile pulling at the corner of the Vulcan's mouth as he added, "But sometimes we choose not to tell the entire truth."
"Fair enough," McCoy chuckled with a shake of his head as he turned to finish cleaning up the area. "Fair enough.