"Make it Home"
Summary: Jim's been getting headaches, Bones insists that you can't really bury the past, and Spock catches a glimpse of something he wasn't meant to see.
Author's Note: This is my first Star Trek fic, so feel free to point out any errors or inconsistencies. I'm not overly familiar with the universe, so they're bound to pop up. The rate of updates will correlate with reader response, so... hit that button!
Chapter One: Going Downhill
"Lights, twenty percent."
This phrase had become a morning ritual over the past week, though today it was more of a mumble. The computer still managed to pick up the familiar syllables (or had he just trained it by now?) and the lights faded on. James Kirk held a hand over his aching eyes, wondering when twenty percent had gotten so bright. He took a few deep breaths and slowly sat up. Two days ago, he'd learned that slow was the best way to go when he felt like this: then, he'd barely made it to the bathroom before losing his dinner.
He couldn't remember when the migraines had started. Years ago, certainly, but narrowing it down to specific time frame was difficult. He'd tried. When you sat in the Captain's Chair for eight hours, staring out into the blackness of space, sometimes there just wasn't a whole lot else to ponder.
Well, maybe that wasn't exactly true. There had to be two or three dozen reports backed up on his PADD waiting for him to sign, date, or approve something for someone. He didn't really want to admit that he'd been avoiding them because he could hardly see straight. Reading was definitely out of the question.
Sitting on the edge of his bed, staring blankly at the floor as he willed his eyes to focus, Jim could almost convince himself that he felt better today. Aside from the bone deep ache in his skull and neck, he wasn't as nauseous or zoned out as he had been yesterday. Of course, he hadn't yet attempted to stand.
He'd been waking up a full half-hour earlier than usual over the past week just to make room for this agonizing schedule. Spend five minutes getting to the bathroom, ten fighting down nausea, and twenty trying to make himself look a little more alive. The old James Kirk woke up five minutes before his shift and still managed to bounce onto the bridge with a smile and a smart-ass remark. This Jim: the pale, dark-eyed, messy-haired man he met in the mirror each morning, was thankful to make it through his days without collapsing. Better yet, he'd managed to run damage control with Bones under the pretense of overworking. He was just tired, right? Spock watched him like a hawk, of course, but so long as he manged to keep his condition from interfering with his duties as Captain, the Vulcan wisely said nothing. And so far, Jim had manged pretty damn well.
Brush his teeth. Strip. Shower. Jim wandered through his morning chores without paying much attention. Of course, he managed to do most of it with his eyes closed, but things just worked better that way. After his shower he commanded the lights up to fifty percent, hoping he could work his way up to the too-bright corridors that awaited him outside. His plan wasn't working out very well.
Jim sluggishly pulled on a black undershirt and gold command shirt, but had to rethink his strategy when he realized he'd donned it backwards. Sighing, he pulled it off. He stared at it in his hands for a few moments, wondering where all of his energy had gone, before deciding he'd make attempt number two right before he left for his shift on the bridge. He still had some time.
Stumbling over to the replicator, he ordered a hearty portion of eggs, bacon and toast. When it arrived, he pulled it out and dumped it into the garbage compactor. Bones regularly checked the replicator log for his room (fallout from the last time Jim had gone a week without eating) and this was the easiest way to throw his best friend off his scent. The smell of the food made his stomach twist, but he managed to keep his composure. Maybe this day wouldn't be a complete disaster after all. He could do this.
This was day six of the migraine. He only had two or three more left, if luck was on his side. If nothing went wrong. He'd had them for weeks at a time in the past, but he hadn't been Captain of a Federation starship back then either. Things were good here. More business to think about here meant less time to think about the past. Nothing good waited for him there.
Sighing as his vid screen beeped to life, Jim shuffled over to his console, wondering if he had unknowingly jinxed himself with his own optimistic thoughts. He couldn't help flinching as the screen lit up, piercing his eyes like needles. He tried to focus.
"Commander Spock." He cleared his throat, trying to banish the scratchiness from his voice. "What can I do for you?"
Spock, thoughts on his sleeve, eyed what was likely an extremely unappealing image of his half-awake Captain critically for a moment.
"Are you well, Captain?"
Jim ground his teeth. "Fine. What's up, Spock?"
As hoped, Spock's interest was deflected to disapproval at Jim's overly casual way of addressing him. As expected, he didn't mention it. The disapproval was all in the eyebrows.
"We are receiving a transmission from an unknown ship. We have them on hold, as they wish to speak to the commanding officer. As it is only 14.7 minutes until your regular shift begins, I thought I should alert you in case you wished to attend to the matter yourself."
I really, really don't. Jim thought to himself, but he smiled at the screen. "Thank you for your consideration, Commander. I'll be up in no time."
"Actually, Captain, by my best estimations it will take you at least 2.8 minutes to reach the bridge from your—"
In what he would later come to admit was a childish gesture, Kirk abruptly ended the transmission. He didn't think he would last the day if he had to listen to any more of Spock's "estimations". As much as he had learned to respect the Vulcan in the eight months since he had assumed captaincy of the Enterprise, there were times when he wondered if they had been divinely ordained to know just how to get under one another's skin. Jim was brash, impulsive, and reckless by nature, choosing to mask his brilliant mind and fierce nature with arrogance. Spock was his polar opposite. Most days, Jim found this fact profoundly entertaining, and rarely missed a chance to heckle his Vulcan counterpart.
This wasn't most days.
To top things off, he had to hit the bridge early. Usually he wouldn't mind—Spock usually went up a full hour before his shift began to take reports for the day and occasionally, Jim joined him. But right now, Jim wanted nothing more than to turn right back around and hit his pillow for another twelve hours or so. Back in Iowa, he could usually manage to take the edge off his headaches by solitary confinement, sleep, and a completely dark room.
He was the Captain of a starship now, not a delinquent farm boy. Any chance of a reprieve from even the most serious of maladies was a distant daydream.
Steeling himself for the day ahead, Jim jerked his gold shirt back on (the right way this time) and snapped at the door to unlock. He kept his eyes closed as he stepped out into the hall, but it felt like the bright white light was searing right through his eyelids. Brutally determined, he forced his eyes open, hoping the hallway was still as straight as he remembered. With the way things were spinning, he just couldn't be sure. He managed to reach the turbolift without running into anything, or anyone, and he mashed a random button in hopes of gaining a moment or two to orient himself. His body was not happy that he had launched himself out of his dark cave so quickly, and the pounding in his skull was threatening to deafen him.
When the doors opened he found himself staring at Medbay, and resisted the urge to roll his eyes at his own dumb luck. Thankfully, no-one saw him as he closed the doors once more. This time he was sure to press the right button.
"Report, Commander." Was the first thing out of Jim's mouth as he stepped out onto the bridge. He really didn't feel like draining his plummeting energy levels by trying to exchange the normal morning pleasantries with his crew. Today, Spock was his best chance at keeping those pleasantries to a minimum.
"The unknown vessel hailed us approximately 8 minutes ago and has expressed their desire to speak with you personally. They bear no markings or indication of any alliance. I agreed to their terms only because they appear to be no threat, as you will see. However caution is advised, as we are aware of neither their identity nor their intentions."
"Noted." Jim ground out, taking a seat. His stomach was revolting, which really wasn't fair considering how long it had been since he'd eaten. He needed to focus right now, damnit. This was really no time to be acting weak. "Can I get a visual?"
"Yes ser." Chekov's fingers flew over his console, and within minutes the screen displayed a small, unmarked ship floating quietly in space.
"They appear to be damaged." Spock noted. "Perhaps they are incapacitated?"
Jim didn't bother responding. "Audio, Chekov."
A transmission frequency crackled to life and Jim leaned forward.
"This is Captain Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise. To whom am I speaking?"
There was a moment of static-filled silence as the crew held their breath in anticipation, curious as expected. This was the most eventful thing that had happened since they had left earth four weeks ago.
"Captain Kirk, this is Captain Mayes of the Arabeth." The line faded in and out as the voice carried back, and Kirk motioned for Chekov to improve the audio. The ensign made several adjustments but none of them seemed to help much.
"We are a prison transport ship from Maraka." The distorted voice went on. "We are transporting several extremely dangerous, high-priority felons from the prison colony to Earth. They made an escape attempt and the ship was damaged. We request assistance and transport either to Earth or back to Maraka."
"We would be more than willing to lend our assistance." Kirk nodded, going into Captain mode. He motioned for Spock, but the Vulcan was already a step ahead of him as he radioed for medical and transportation to stand by. "However, I must ask. Why were you unwilling to speak with my First Officer?"
Static reigned supreme for a moment—Kirk really hated that noise—before the line crackled back to life.
"Before the breakout on our bridge, we received word that several other ships in the area have also been hijacked. There seems to be some sort of concentrated escape effort. We needed to be sure of your identity."
"Fair enough." Jim nodded. "Are your prisoners secure now?"
"Yes sir. They've been restrained in the hold."
"Good. We'll be beaming aboard shortly. Stand by."
As soon as the transmission was cut short, the bridge burst into activity.
Sulu bounded to his Captain's side so fast it made Jim's head spin—of course, lots of things made his head spin lately. "Permission to accompany you, Captain?"
"Why the hell not." Jim gestured him forward, greeted by a beaming smile.
Spock raised a surprised eyebrow at Jim, but made no comment as they entered the lift. It might have been brash of Jim to take one of his men off their active shift so quickly, but he didn't have the energy to argue or discuss right now. His active tactic was to say yes to everything and to "hmph" to everything else. Feign participation, as it were.
At least this way he could try to lose himself in the confusion. It was already shaping up to be a long day.
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