Title: One of Each of Us (1/6)
Characters: Kirk, McCoy, various including Spock and the ever-present Cupcake
Rating: PG-13 for eventual off-screen character death and serious angst
Word Count this chapter: 3849
Warnings/Spoilers: Basic movie spoilers referenced here and there. Shameless H/C – SHAMELESS, I tell you! Read at your peril. :P Also warning for references to TOS episodes and off-screen (and non-AOS) character death. You'll find no ship but friendship and little to no profanity in my fics, even in the Rebooted universe, so rely on your own imagination if you require either of those.
Summary: Five times Bones comforted Jim, and one time Jim returned the favor
A/N: Written for the LiveJournal community StarTrekReverseBang. Since it was a bit rough trying to settle into an idea and voice, I asked my artist if she would like anything in particular; she gave me a few details (including the presence of 'Cupcake', whom I am presuming is the AOS equivalent of the TOS Security Chief Giotto) and the summary, and this was the result. Title comes from this quote, from the TOS episode The Balance of Terror, McCoy speaking to Kirk: In this galaxy there's a mathematical probability of three million Earth-type planets. And in the universe, three million million galaxies like this. And in all that, and perhaps more...only one of each of us. Don't destroy the one named Kirk.
A/N2: There's gorgeous art to go with this fic by megan_moonlight; visit my LiveJournal, kcscribbler, to see the link in my unlocked master post for this fic.
Adrenaline, Jim decides emphatically, is one of Mother Nature's best inventions ever. There's just no way otherwise that any of them are still standing after what just happened, except thanks to that gorgeous little miracle of physiology. He himself is merrily plummeting straight down the precipice to a full-blown migraine, never mind the (yeah, definitely, ow) broken ribs and (Geez, he's never ticking Spock off again) getting choked by not one but three Vulcanoids in the same day – but he still feels freaking awesome. Even if he gets kicked out of the Academy after this is all over, he'll still go down in history as Jim Kirk, savior of Earth.
Your father was captain of a starship for twelve minutes. He saved eight hundred lives. I dare you to do better.(1)
He had, thanks very much. Take that and choke on it, Destiny.
He knows it's going to hit him sometime soon, the knowledge that he wasn't quick enough to save six billion innocent Vulcans (and one innocent human), but for right now he refuses to feel anything but euphoria – because the instant that fades, he knows full well so'll he. They simply can't afford for anyone to come down off the high just yet, and the captain always has to set the example (even if he isn't really a captain, it still sounds pretty darn good and he'll milk it for all it's worth as long as he can).
Plus with no warp core, it's going to be a long, looooong way back to the Sol system. He'll have time to crash later, when he's sure the ship's not going to crack up under them (wouldn't that be a letdown, after all this). For right now, there's work to do, and if he can't get rid of the knife stabbing through his eye then he'll just ignore it. He's always been good at that.
"Any luck reaching Starfleet Command, Uhura?"
"None, sir," and he has to at least be grateful for the courtesy, as she could just as easily have flipped him the bird for asking like, ten seconds later than the last time. "Trying again."
"Chekov, have you got that estimate yet?"
"Aye, Keptin," comes the absent reply from under a pair of wide blue eyes. The kid is too adorably innocent to be an integral part of what had happened here today, he thinks with a twinge of guilt. Chekov is like a wide-eyed child staring into the world of nasty grownups for the first time. Granted, a child that can melt your brain with warp physics or beam you out of thin air by manually overriding the transporter. If he ever gets a ship of his own, he'll be the first to fight the other captains to recruit the cradle for this one wunderkind.
"At full impulse, ve vill reach zhe Sol system in five veeks, four days, sewenteen hours, and –"
Just enough time to enjoy this and heal up a little before he gets raked over the coals. "Do we even have full impulse?"
"Nyet," is the doleful reply. "Half only, according to Mr. Scott, until he can…I belief he said, jury-rig somezhing in Engineering."
"Fantastic," he mutters, scrubbing futilely at his left eye in an attempt to clear the black halo starting to encroach on his vision there. He counts himself lucky the vomiting hasn't started yet; he's not sure his ribs could take that. "Plot a course back to..." he cringes, but forces himself to plow ahead, "…where Vulcan used to be, Chekov."
Someday he'll be deserving enough of a captain that no one will question him, and won't that be fine? For now, though, they have the right to question his orders; he hasn't earned anything else. Drawing in a slow breath, he holds it for a second, letting the added oxygen drive back the harshness of the Bridge lighting, loosening constricting blood vessels one by tiny one, before he lets it out slowly. "It's closer than Earth, Chekov, and besides that if there are any survivors they'll have been headed the opposite direction from Nero – towards us. We may be able to pick some up."
From the corner of his functional eye he sees Spock's jaw tighten, but when he glances over Spock just nods at him with what's probably gratitude, unless that's an emotion. Or maybe just a half-hearted okay-I-may-not-kill-you-in-your-sleep-after-all, or whatever. At this point, anything's better than being choked over a console (not that he didn't deserve that, and he'll be the first to admit the fact).
He lurches to his feet, because if he stays in that chair another second he's likely to never get up again without the aid of some pretty fantastic pain meds. Bad, bad idea, though – the movement shifts the knife in his eye stabbing backward into his head, where it threatens to slice right out the other side of his skull (messy stuff, brain matter). Sucking in another breath (lungs are sort of necessary for the breathing process), which he doesn't seem to be getting quite enough of, he takes a moment to up his pain threshold and firmly fight down the urge to hurl his stomach lining onto the shiny decking (because he's not sure if the cleaning drones were damaged in the battle, and nobody else probably cares enough to clean up after him).
"Kirk – Captain, I have Starfleet Command," Uhura speaks up from the hazy void behind him, and he grins at the change in title despite the fact that the knife in his head has now twisted and is cheerfully trying to squeeze its way down his brain stem. "On visual. The signal's patchy at best, but I'm trying to clean it up."
He watches Spock move to help her with that, and then turns back to the viewscreen as it fills with static and floating images…wait, the floating images are gone when he blinks a few times. Gotta love a migraine.
Finally Spock does something magical and Vulcan and awesome and crap and the screen clears into what looks like controlled chaos back at Starfleet Command.
Aaaaand, it only just occurs to him that no one there knows he's even on board a ship, since he was technically on academic probation, and he doesn't have enough time to think up a good explanation (or even a plea for them to not kill him) before Komack's blasting at him loud enough to be heard ten decks below.
The tirade just isn't computing for him, probably because every word is heating the knife and driving it further into his skull. He probably looks like a very sick goldfish about to expire, trying to get a word of explanation in while the admiral rips his feeble explanation apart and then annihilates the remaining shreds.
He's about ten seconds away from outright whimpering when a presence looms suddenly behind him, and he unconsciously relaxes; whether Spock likes him or not, the Vulcan is definitely on better terms with the Admiralty…with pretty much the rest of the universe, actually…and he's also extremely scary.
"Admiral, given recent circumstances your emotion is understandable, but the man who saved the planet on which you currently stand does not deserve to bear the brunt of it. We are wasting valuable time."
Wait, what? Spock really just defended him, all by himself?
Maybe the adrenaline letdown and the trouble he has breathing are making him hallucinate? That's a more logical explanation.
In his defense, Komack has the grace to look slightly chastised. "Commander, would you care to explain what's going on and where you are?"
Spock gives him a nudge, which he sluggishly takes to mean that he's making the point to the admiral that Kirk's the captain, thanks very much. He could hug the guy, except he values his life, just a bit.
He swallows hard on another roiling wave of nausea, and forces his head up, speaking with perfect calmness. "We are transmitting coordinates now, sir; but we were forced to eject the warp core in order to push the Enterprise out of the reach of the black hole which was created by the Narada's implosion. It will take us…" he glances down at the padd Chekov hastily shoves under his nose, "…seven weeks, give or take a few days, to make it back to the former location of Vulcan at half-impulse power. A bit longer to reach Terra, unless we get help along the way."
"We're a little low on starships at the moment, Kirk, and you can't install a warp core anywhere but a spacedock," is the dry reply. "I'm afraid you're going to be on your own for most of that, but we'll meet you with a supply ship at least, halfway."
"Sir, medical supplies and personnel will be our biggest concern," he replies. "While Captain Pike is in stable condition, if we do not get an expert neuro-surgeon in the next ten days, acting CMO McCoy will be forced to perform the operation necessary to remove the parasites which the Romulans infected him with. According to his last report, Dr. McCoy would be much more comfortable with a qualified specialist performing the procedure." He's actually pretty proud of the fact that his voice hadn't broken on that; just remembering seeing Chris in that condition on the Romulan ship is enough to bring back the nausea he's been fighting for an hour now.
Komack's face is grave. "We'll do what we can, Kirk, but with the Federation and Earth in such pandemonium I can't promise you anything right now."
For a second the black halo narrows down, doooooowwwwn to a pinpoint on the admiral's insignia, then expands slowly and fades out again. He blows out another shallow breath, willing the lights to stop stabbing at his eyes. "Understood, sir." Maybe if he is super-respectful they won't throw him under the bus completely when he gets back.
"Proceed with as much speed as you can back to Terra, Commander," Komack finally adds, speaking pointedly to Spock, after glancing off-screen for a moment. When his gaze returns, it's dark and icy, like the bottom of a lake in January. "You have a lot to answer for, Cadet Kirk."
"I am aware of that, sir," he answers, refusing to react to the bead of sweat trickling down the back of his neck.
"I don't know how in the universe you appropriated command of that ship, Cadet, but turn it back over to Commander Spock immediately and confine yourself to your quarters until your return to Earth."
"Admiral –" Beside him, Spock tenses and immediately speaks up, no doubt going to give some load of crap about emotional compromise and blah blah blah.
"I did not ask for argument, Commander. You will be contacted with further orders later. Proceed with all speed. Komack out."
His hearing fades out for just a second as the grey spots in front of his left eye decide to explode, but he still hears Sulu's mutter from the helm, and forces himself to not laugh at the words; captain has to set the example of blind respect, more's the pity.
"Sir, the admiral's orders were uninformed. I do not believe I should be reinstated as Acting Captain."
Bless you, Spock, you're a decent sort after all. "And I don't have any quarters aboard this ship, Commander, so we're even," he mutters in response, swaying slightly.
The heated throbbing in his left eye is getting harder to ignore, and the gentle, slow spinning of the ship beneath him isn't doing his stomach any favors. Adrenaline wearing off, probably; he'll have to make up for it by sheer determination.
If he can just get his vision to clear enough so he can see properly…
"Fine, Commander," he shoots back quickly, not liking the change in tone; they aren't even friendly, so why would the guy sound worried? "Uhura."
She spins gracefully around to face him, gloriously gorgeous ponytail flying around behind her (yay, alliteration much), and raises an eyebrow. "Yes?"
"Draw up a crew rotation immediately; I want everyone who was on this bridge today off duty in the next two hours, for at least eight hours of sleep and/or relaxation. Put yourself and Commander Spock on the first rotation."
Dark eyes regard him for a moment, and then the creases around them soften. "Sir, I wasn't involved in the physical battles here today; that's not necessary."
He jerks a slightly unsteady thumb at the pointy-eared shadow hovering near him. "Commander Spock was; so it is," he replies lightly. Too bad he's concentrating too hard on keeping his footing to make a whopper of a double entendre out of that hint. But it's true; Spock needs someone with him, and it dead sure isn't going to be the guy who trashed his dead mother.
Sheesh, Uhura doesn't have to look so surprised to learn that he's not a total jerk; that's discouraging.
Why the heck doesn't the ship stop lurching like that? With no warp core they shouldn't be moving fast enough to be making people space-sick, especially him. Maybe Sulu has the helm stuck and they're just spinning around aimlessly like a roulette wheel…
Another stab slices blithely through the back of his head, and he absently raises a hand to pull the knife out the other side…wait, it isn't a real knife. No wonder Spock is looking at him like he's a few rows short of a cornfield...
"Commander, we need to organize the ship for repairs…first priority to Sickbay, and then Engineering…and we need to make sure the replicators are working on all decks, last thing we need is to run out of food or supplies," he rambles a bit, ticking points off slowly on one hand.
Spock stands a little stiffer (if that's possible, weird) and nods, gently (gently?) interrupting him. "Already done, Captain; I took the liberty of organizing the ship's remaining crew complement and assigning a rota to each department, to bring the ship to its fullest operating efficiency with as little drain on crew resources and health as possible."
Oh. So that's why everyone calls him the best Commander in the 'Fleet…
Spock's eyebrows hit his hairline…oh crap, did he say that last bit out loud? "Er…well done, then. Anything else that needs my immediate attention, Commander?"
"Excellent." Okay, maybe it isn't the ship that's swaying, maybe it's him. Not good. "Then nobody cares if I go have these broken ribs seen to?" Oh seriously, he did notjust say that in front of everyone; whatever happened to a captain putting up a front of invincibility? Why can't he get his mouth to catch up with his brain?
Spock is edging toward him, looking like he's trying to calm a skittish horse…heyyyy, Bones had said something about the guy referring to him as a horse just after he jettisoned him on planet Epic Ice Ball. Not flattering, dude.
He moves for the first time in a while, stepping away from the oncoming Vulcan Eyebrow of Doom, and whoa, the deck jumps up to smack him in the face, and everything else is fading out like a radio losing signal in a storm…
He must've half-blacked out for a few seconds, because he vaguely sees a blue blur that stops him from breaking his nose on the deck plating, and hears a startled jumble of voices from somewhere over his head, someone calling for a medical team, the hiss of opening lift doors. Finally squinting against the stabbing glare of fluorescent lighting, he makes out the fuzzy outline of a science insignia getting shoved aside in favor of filthy, blood-stained medical scrubs.
"Ow," he tries to communicate his feelings in succinct and intelligent terms, only to realize, horrified, that he sounds like he's choking. His eyes are watering. In an instant the light's blocked by a large hand partially shading his eyes, and he could cry (more) in relief.
"You're a moron," is the irritated drawl, but the hands accompanying the voice are more gentle than he's ever felt. "How long were you gonna try to hide the fact that you're runnin' around with three broken ribs, acute hypoxia, and a migraine to end all migraines?"
"Long as I could," he grunts, only to yip embarrassingly when the stab of a hypospray jolts him into awareness. Oh, wonderful; both Spock and Uhura and half the Bridge crew are all gawking around him. "What the f-"
"Shut it," Bones retorts, stowing the empty cartridge in a pocket. "That should help clear up the migraine for now, and at least get you some oxygen straight into the bloodstream before you pass out again from lack of air. The rest, I gotta have you down in Sickbay to fix."
"No," he rasps, struggling into a sitting position. Spock, who he just now notices is hovering nervously at his side, shifts one hand as if to help. He glares as best he can through one good eye, and the hand hastily resumes its position on its owner's knee.
"Did I give you the option? No." The physician growls, running a scanner over his torso. "Breathe in. Deep."
He does, at least partway. And promptly chokes on a scream of epic girlish proportions, as flares of pain erupt from his side like a fire, forcing him to double over to ease the pain, one hand scrabbling for purchase on anything that will let him clutch it until the burning subsides. He's had broken ribs before, and he knows what they feel like – and he knows better than to try to breathe any deeper if he wants to keep his lungs free of holes.
He manages a weak string of curses and holds tight to ride it out, wheezing and choking, barely hearing the worried exclamations from the helm – oh great, he's scaring Chekov, poor kid.
Finally the fire dies down to a burning ember, buried deep in his side, and he only then realizes he's squeezing the life out of someone's slim – and very prettily manicured – hand.
"Uh…s-sorry," he manages to grit out, cheeks flushing in embarrassment.
Uhura looks at him oddly for a second as he shakily drops her hand, and finally smirks at him in a way that tells him that if she isn't burying the hatchet, she's at least not waving it close to his neck anymore. "Any excuse with you, isn't it, Kirk."
"Hey, I take what I can get," he retorts, feebly grinning. "Seriously, though –"
"Oh, shut up, you idiot," she snaps, almost fondly. "One more apology and I'll –"
"Yeah, I can use my imagination, thanks." He shivers dramatically. "Listen, Bones –"
"I didn't tell you to speak, Jim. And you're comin' with me to Sickbay now."
"No, I'm not," he growls, finally dragging the last reserves of his energy out in the form of anger. "Half this crew – these wonderful brave people who are actually supposed to be on this ship – are severely injured, and you had better not let any of them die or even suffer because you're pandering to a stowaway!"
He vaguely registers half the Bridge crew's mouths forming an impressive chorus of O's and WTF's, but is too busy glaring down a McCoyian fit to respond. "I've had broken ribs before, Bones," he reminds the irate physician. "I can deal with them; you get back down to Sickbay and help my people – and the Vulcan Council. They all need you way worse than I do. Tape me up if you want, and I'll crash in a Jefferies tube or something somewhere, but you're not hauling me down to take up valuable space in your Sickbay for something this trivial."
"You – you –" the physician splutters (awesome, he's furious, that's all they need right now). "So help me if you think I'm going to let you crash in some corner of this godforsaken ship then –"
"Doctor, Kirk is welcome to the bed and facilities in my quarters," Uhura quietly speaks up.
He blinks, gaping. He's doing a remarkably awesome goldfish impression. He should tour.
"Look, Uhura –"
"My assigned roommate was on Deck 14 when it was hit, and… I have an alternative," she retorts reasonably, when he's about to add his voice to the protests, and she flicks a glance at Spock. Spock turns a bizarre shade of olive, which is actually kind of endearing. "And he's right, McCoy, you need Sickbay for the critically wounded and those under strict observation."
"Now look, I get a shhay in this," he begins, pouting.
"No, you do not," three voices chorus in unison. Hey, irritation-with-Jim in surround-sound. Awesome.
He scowls regally. "My first crew, mutinying on my first day," he mutters. Ugh, he's willing to bet Bones slipped some sort of sedative in that hypo, because he's usually much more suave and smooth than the loose-lipped, murmuring haze he is right now. "Not a good record…ssssee if I come here again."
His eyelids flicker unsteadily for a minute, before his head droops back on a warm blue sleeve. "I hate choo," he observes blearily, waving a limp finger up at worried green eyes. "Y're hypo-happy. 'S like a fetish, weird, man."
The eyes roll upward amid a heavy sigh, but the arm that cradles the back of his aching head and neck just pulls him a bit closer. It's nice. A hand tugs at the collar of his worn shirt, loosening it around his abused neck and smoothing out the frown-wrinkles between his throbbing eyes. "C'mon, kid, just let go already," the murmur reaches his ears just before his eyes flutter closed. "You're killin' me here."
"My…ship," he forces out through increasingly slow vocal chords.
"Will still be here when you awaken. Captain." Hmm, Spock's voice; he can trust Spock. Ish. Old Spock, at least…who was actually his Spock, just Old…ish.
Eh, paradoxes, what the heck. "'Kay. Bones?"
"I'm here, Jim. Just stop fightin' it, let go now."
He does, finally, and doesn't feel a thing until ten hours later, when he wakes up in an unfamiliar (and really girly-smelling) room, freaking out with a full-blown panic attack (can't breathe) like he hasn't had in years.
He knows Bones should be in Sickbay (hasn't even graduated, CMO of the flagship, should be funny but it isn't), not here calming down (can'tbreathecan'tbreathe) a panicking Jim Kirk (whatifhe'dbeenassignedtotheFarragutgoingtobesickthinkingaboutit), but at that second he's just selfish enough to be so very glad Bones is nowhere else (pleasestay please stay).
"Should be in Sickbay…got more important patients than me," he manages, shaking in his friend's grip (ohgodsomanydead), utterly unable to process the amount of death and destruction and pain and loss he's seen in the last twenty-four hours.
The swat to the back of his aching head hurts enough to get his attention, but it's the words that follow which really break through the despair.
"Don't be an idiot, Jim. I haven't got any."
(1) Quote is from the movie, ST:XI.