Title: Watching the Watcher
Author: Still Waters
Fandom: Star Trek TOS
Disclaimer: Not mine. Just playing, with love and respect to those who brought these characters to life.
Summary: Jim Kirk makes a decision when he learns Dr. McCoy isn't taking care of himself.
Notes: This may become a series of one-shots at some point. I have notes written for five other scenes, some expanding on moments from the original series and others on moments from my other stories. This is unbeta'd so all mistakes are my own. Thank you for supporting my journey in this world!
It all started with the Nevalian mission.
The Enterprise had been in orbit around the dying isolationist planet for two days when McCoy finally called in with a report that wasn't composed entirely of desperate, passionate ranting on what he had to be missing. Kirk had approached the screen warily, steeling himself for the new death toll and his CMO's barely controlled, raging grief. Instead, he found himself daring to hope at the excitement somehow outshining the bone-weary lines in McCoy's face.
"We've got it Jim," McCoy bounced high on his toes, sobering briefly as his eyes flicked off-screen at the sound of a monitor chiming. Kirk couldn't make out what the female voice suddenly said in the background, but it must have satisfied McCoy – the physician turned back to Kirk, scientist's eyes lighting up again in preparation for the reveal. "We couldn't figure out why the virus wasn't responding to the first two antivirals – even accounting for Nevalian body chemistry, it just wasn't working. Turns out, when you take a real good look at their immune systems, they don't work through standard chemical and biological processes alone. The healer here was carrying around some kind of wind instrument, and when I finally asked him about it, he said he uses it every time someone in the village is sick. Thing is, when he blew into it, I couldn't hear a damn thing, so I had Spock take a look at it, along with the acoustics lab and they found it produced a single, identical pitch every time, above the range human hearing can perceive." McCoy paused for a moment, a wry smile on his face. "I swear I think the sound made poor Spock's brain itch," he chuckled, tucking his hands behind his back with a little bounce as he continued, "Anyway, I had Sanchez play that pitch in the lab while administering the antiviral to the simulated Nevalian chemistry and would you believe it? It worked!" McCoy broke out in a huge grin, releasing his hands forward again in an excited flurry of gesticulation. "Jim, their healers have been using this instrument for thousands of years and the Nevalian immune system has become so entwined with it that a particular enzyme in their immune response can only be activated by that pitch! I've never seen anything like it! A single outside catalyst necessary for the continuation of the immunological chemical cascade – it's incredible!"
Kirk hadn't been able to hide his own smile at McCoy's infectious enthusiasm. "Great news Bones," he let out a relieved breath.
"Yep," McCoy had flashed that triumphant grin again. "We've finally got the right numbers going up," his eyebrows knit briefly over pained eyes before a small, weary smile returned. "We're just lucky the affected villages had the sense to isolate themselves early on," he sighed.
Kirk's response was cut off by the sudden sound of a monitor screaming over a clipped shout.
"Damnit," McCoy swore under his breath, bolting to his feet. Kirk listened briefly to the physician's fading voice rapidly barking orders before ending the transmission.
That had been two days ago. Now, four days into the Enterprise's medical assistance mission, with Spock's report of McCoy returning to the ship laden with a grateful healer's botanical pharmacy, Jim Kirk decided it was high time he sat his CMO down, poured him a glass of his favorite prescription, and watched McCoy's face war between pleased blushing and weary eye rolling as he related Starfleet's praise of their latest victory.
Kirk strode into sickbay, eyes scanning the room until he found Christine Chapel at the nursing desk, diligently packing another case of preset hypos for transfer to the planet surface. He smiled as she held up an apologetic finger, lips moving silently as she matched the counts between the case and the PADD to her right.
"Sorry to keep you waiting sir," Christine sighed a moment later. "Mr. Kyle is on his way to pick these up and if I lost count one more time…." She trailed off with a rueful chuckle.
"Understood," Kirk laughed. He nodded toward McCoy's office. "Is Dr. McCoy still up here?" he asked.
"He certainly is," Christine replied, exasperation coloring her voice. At Kirk's confused look, she simply gestured him back toward one of the darkened isolation rooms.
Kirk smiled fondly as he reached the door and saw McCoy lying on the bed. He was just turning to leave when the glint of the IV bag caught his eye. Heart in his throat, he whirled around to find Christine approaching the room. "What happened?" he demanded. "I thought it wasn't able to infect humans," he said breathlessly, struggling to recall the virology reports.
"Oh no, Captain, he's fine," Christine jumped forward, rapidly attempting to soothe the wide-eyed panic. "I mean, you're right, it's not the disease – just plain, stupid, lack of common sense. Dr. McCoy apparently neglected to sleep or eat for the last several days and it finally caught up with him."
"He collapsed?" Kirk asked worriedly, noticing for the first time the lax stiffness of McCoy's body.
"About five minutes after he walked into sickbay," Christine confirmed, sighing softly. "I'm not sure how he was still coherent being that dehydrated. He's got a temporary relief patch for nutrition until he's ready to eat and we've just dropped him down to a maintenance rate on the IV fluids. We started out with aggressive rehydration and his heart rate and blood pressure responded beautifully."
"He'll be all right?" Kirk sought confirmation.
"He'll be fine Captain," Christine smiled gently. "I'm going to give him hell about nearly cracking that brilliant head of his on the way down, but after some food, fluids, and rest, he'll be good as new."
"Not sure how you expect him to rest with ya'll yammerin' on over there," McCoy interrupted thickly.
"You know, Bones," Kirk mentioned innocently, "I distinctly recall my CMO sending me mandated rest rotations for all medical and science staff involved in the Nevalian mission. Last I checked, that staff, and that order, included you."
"Jim, we were right on the edge of the musical link, then there was the initial treatment phase after that and I couldn't just…." McCoy attempted to explain.
"Take a nap? Eat something?" Kirk suggested disapprovingly. "Take care of yourself?"
"It's not like I never slept," McCoy tried again.
"The fact you can barely keep your eyes open right now says otherwise," Kirk countered. "Don't try to tell me you got more than an hour or two the last few days, or I'll get Spock to interview the rest of the planet side staff and find out for sure. I'm sure his inquiries would prove most….."
"Jim, I swear, if you say 'fascinating', I'm gonna leave," McCoy growled, moving to push himself up with his elbows. Hissing at the pull of the IV, he looked to the crook of his left arm before scowling at Christine. "An antecubital, nurse?" he grumbled.
"Well, if you hadn't gotten yourself so dehydrated that I couldn't get any other vein, we wouldn't be having this conversation, now would we?" Christine chided with mock sweetness.
Kirk grinned. "I ever tell you how much I like her?" he asked McCoy.
McCoy rolled his eyes as he attempted to sit up further. "Just remember, you have a physical coming up Captain," he warned, before focusing on Christine again. "We run out of volume expanders?" he demanded, shaking the arm with the IV in disbelief.
"I'm sorry Doctor, dehydration and exhaustion appear to have affected your memory. It was you, wasn't it, that wrote an article just last month advocating the use of old-fashioned intravenous hydration in severe hypovolemic cases over modern volume expanders? I believe you pronounced that the evidence, which I helped collect, was overwhelming," Christine smiled sweetly.
Kirk's grin widened. "How much I really like her?" he clarified.
McCoy sighed, looking heavenward dramatically before slowly moving his legs to the side of the bed. "If ya'll are finished…" he muttered.
Kirk and Christine were at the bedside in an instant. "Where do you think you're going?" Christine demanded, one hand already on the physician's shaking shoulder, ready to push him back down.
"I've got patients," McCoy murmured weakly, blinking rapidly as his arms gave out and Christine and Kirk guided him gently back down.
"You've got the best medical staff in the Fleet down there Bones," Kirk insisted. "They can do without you for a few hours."
McCoy opened his mouth to protest, but Christine firmly cut him off. "Doctor McCoy, if you even think of getting out of that bed, I will sedate you faster than you can say 'standing orders.'"
McCoy's grumble was softened by the obvious pride in his tired drawl. "See what I have to put up with?" he gestured at Christine.
Christine smiled warmly. "No more than what I have to put up with," she returned.
McCoy chuckled softly. "Guess I can't argue with that."
"You're not going to argue with anything or anyone until you follow your own damn orders and rehydrate, sleep and eat – in that order," Christine folded her arms over her chest firmly.
"Yes ma'am," McCoy yawned.
Christine softened. "I'll go check in with the rest of the team," she assured McCoy before meeting Kirk's eyes, nodding silently at the promise there.
Twenty minutes later, Kirk sauntered up to the nursing desk, stretching his back and looking quite pleased with himself. "Mission accomplished," he reported, glancing back toward the isolation room. "He's finally asleep instead of unconscious."
"Thank you Captain," Christine smiled. "He'll listen to medical threats eventually, but I'm glad you came by. It's nice to know that at least you can talk some sense back into him. I'd rather not have to sedate him again."
"Again?" Kirk narrowed his eyes. "He's done this before?"
Christine swallowed hard. She hadn't meant to bring that part up. "Once or twice," she hedged.
Kirk sighed heavily, shaking his head at the darkened isolation room before locking gazes with Christine. "I want you to call me," he said simply.
"Sir?" Christine's brow furrowed.
"Next time Bones doesn't take care of himself," Kirk said seriously. "I want you to call me."
Christine didn't bother to clarify whether that was an order, a favor, or a thinly veiled threat of payback for McCoy's judicious use of sedatives on overworked starship captains. She nodded quietly. "Of course Captain."
As Kirk's gaze was drawn back to his sleeping friend, the answer was written in his eyes.
…. Someone needs to watch the watcher.