Disclaimer: I own no part of Star Trek: 2009. This is all in good fun.
Jesus, what the hell was that?
It broke through the darkness as Jim neared consciousness. The sound echoed, almost as if there were two beeps instead of one. Like a heartbeat.
For the love of-
"Jim," said a soft voice. "Can you open your eyes for me?"
No can do.
He felt hands on his face, an unwelcome reminder that he had a face. Had a body. And was laying on a bed. If he could have, Jim would've sighed.
Instead, he forced his eyes to crack open. No use fighting it.
At first, he only saw blurry lights and the ceiling of sickbay. But Bones leaned into his line of sight, eyebrows drawn together in concern.
It's too bright, Jim wanted to tell him. Turn the lights down.
"Jim, can you hear me?" Bones asked. He gently lifted each eyelid and a bright light darted across Jim's vision. Not the penlight again. Jim made a mental note to break that thing in half when he was better. The madness needed to stop.
"Hmmm," he managed to breathe. He tried to turn his head, but his neck remained still. Too tired.
Bones raised an eyebrow at the response. "Can you tell me where you are?"
Sickbay. Come on, now.
There must have been something in his eyes that made it clear the answer was obvious, because Bones didn't wait long for a response.
"We were finally able to give you some anesthesia stronger than a Vulcan nerve pinch. Might take a while for it to wear off completely… It was a close one, kid, but we managed to stop the internal bleeding. Now the only battle we're fighting is the fever. You have one heck of an immune system when you least need it. Explains your usual hyperallergenic response though." He paused, as if worried he was saying too much, too soon.
Jim blinked heavily. That was a lot of information to process. It was so hard to keep his eyes open.
"Try to get some rest," Bones finally said. He put a hand on Jim's shoulder. "I'll alert Spock of your progress as we try a fever reducer. Damn hobgoblin's been comlinking me for an update every half hour…"
Bones continued talking, but Jim stopped making sense of it. He was too warm and comfortable to stay awake anymore. Maybe when he woke up, they could talk. There were a couple things he needed to say.
An oven. Jim was inside an oven and growing warmer by the second. Something was pressing down on him, pressing the moisture from his body. Beads of sweat rolled down his face and chest.
He had to turn down the oven.
He moved his legs restlessly and threw back whatever was on top of him. When the weight was gone, he could breathe a little easier, but the relief he'd expected never came. It was still much too hot.
"Bones?" he mumbled, licking his cracked lips. He was parched. Trying to clear his throat was painful. "Bones, you there?"
Jim opened his eyes as much as they would allow. What he saw was terrifying.
He was in sickbay, but wasn't the sickbay as he knew it. The room was much too large. There were no walls or ceiling, just a darkness on all sides that seemed to stretch into eternity.
Jim suddenly felt very small and vulnerable. Where were all the nurses? Where was Bones? The monitors, bed curtain, and other medical equipment were also nowhere to be seen.
"Bones?" he called out again. His survival instincts were kicking in. They were telling him to run.
Throwing his feet over the side of the bed, Jim braced himself. He lowered his bare feet to the floor. The muscles in his legs protested the movement. They only just managed to hold his weight as he rose. He felt about as steady as a newborn colt, but it would have to do.
The hospital gown he wore was soaked through with sweat, but it did little to cool him. Thank God one of the first things he'd done as Captain was to do away with those backless gowns in favor of something dignified. The gown he wore only had ties on the sides, but at least it came down past his knees and covered his backside. He could run in it.
Against his will, Jim's body began to tremble with the effort of standing. If he was going to find a way out of here, he needed to do it before he was too weak.
But which way?
He gazed around uncertainly, turning this way and that. He didn't feel coherent enough to make an intelligent decision. It was frustrating. Maybe if someone turned down the damn oven, he could think.
Jim wiped his forehead and tried to focus. If this was the sickbay he remembered, the doors would be off to his left. That sounded about right.
Stumbling in that direction, he tried to stay alert for any signs of danger. It was a natural reaction whenever he woke up somewhere unfamiliar. Plenty of the women he'd slept with over the years had turned out to be married or otherwise claimed by men with not-so-friendly demeanors. Many a morning had found him waking to the sound of a front door slamming and then sneaking out of the bedroom undetected.
Which got complicated after he'd left earth. Laundry and trash shoots, bilges, pipe lines…
Focus, idiot, he scolded himself in a mental voice that sounded suspiciously like Bones.
Jim crept through the darkness, keeping an eye out for a door. There didn't seem to be one. The room just grew longer and longer… it felt like he'd been walking for ages when he finally spotted a door's outline.
He tip-toed toward it, praying it would open automatically. It wasn't a particularly good time to bring Klingon codes into this. The brain capacity wasn't with him today.
The door slid open as he neared. Jim breathed a sigh of relief.
Perhaps too soon.
The corridor looked dim and dangerous. It slightly resembled those on the Enterprise, but not enough to provide any feeling of comfort. The lights flickered and the walls were lined with cracks.
"Bones?" Jim called. It wasn't the brightest thing he could've done, but he couldn't help himself. He was scared. And suddenly too cold. The temperature reminded him of his time of Delta Vega. If the atmosphere had allowed it, he probably would have seen his breath with every exhale.
He moved closer to the wall in an attempt to stay warm as he moved down the corridor. He tried to come up with a plan to discover where he was and what had happened… nothing came to him but a wave of exhaustion. Leave it to his body to give out when he most needed it.
Jim pressed himself against the wall. He waited for the footsteps to round the corner.
They never did. Instead, they drew close and continued on their path. He felt his eyes widen as he observed… something of a shadow. It was human in shape, but more like disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence. Where had he heard that phrase before?
What was important was getting out of here, wherever here was. His eyes darted around, desperately looking for a weapon or a lead. What did he expect, a map on the wall? He had to keep moving.
He rounded the corner without looking and almost ran directly into two shadows. Damn it. They stumbled back in alarm. Before they could regain their footing, Jim shoved past them and ran down the corridor. He turned left, then right, unaware of where he was going or if the shadows were chasing him.
The floor was painfully icy against his bare feet, but a surge of adrenaline pushed the feeling to the back of his mind.
The blackened walls blurred as he picked up speed. His heart felt as if it might burst from his chest, but the increase in heart rate helped him to think. Transport was what he needed. A pod, or maybe a pad. If he could find a comlink, he could hone in on the Enterprise's signal and get Uhura on the line. Any spare comlinks should be in the engine room. If there was any kind of order on this ship.
Jim ignored the possibility of using a transporter room. Too many variables. And he could inadvertently trap himself to boot.
He headed directly for a ladder against the wall. A quick look down confirmed that it bypassed the lower floors. Directly to the source.
Tally-ho, he felt like shouting as he grabbed the sides and allowed himself to slide down. Controlling the fall wasn't easy, but he managed. Even kept most of his dignity. Though he fell too fast to notice if any more shadows caught a glimpse of him. He hoped not.
"Ah," he breathed when his feet touched the floor. A quick glance over his shoulder confirmed that he was alone. Good.
Comlinks, comlinks… he carefully stepped over engine room wires and pipes, cursing the hospital gown around his knees. How did women manage things like steps in a skirt anyway? They had his newfound respect.
Wandering deeper into the engine room, Jim began to feel desperate. His strength was rapidly depleting and he needed to find a comlink before he collapsed. He began opening random drawers and cupboards, tossing beautifully organized equipment aside like unwanted cooking spices. Not there. No. Nothing useful. A bottle of whiskey – what the hell? No. Damn it.
Just as Jim was beginning to see double, he recognized something that looked like an older version of the comlinks he was used to. He stumbled over to it and turned it over in his hands. Flipping it open revealed a variety of frequencies and it didn't take him long to tune it to the Enterprise. At least… that's where he hoped he'd tuned it. Comlinks could be tricky.
Only one way to know for sure.
Jim's legs chose that moment to give out and he slid helplessly to the floor. Ah, well. Still had the comlink, didn't he? Clutching it in his hand like a trophy, Jim took a deep breath and pushed the transmit button. Hopefully he had the energy to speak.
"Captain Kirk to Enterprise," he started weakly. "Are you picking up my signal?"
"We read you, Captain," the voice of Uhura came over the transmitter. Jim could have kissed her if she'd been beside him. His eyes burned with relief. Great. The fever was giving him the emotional control of a five-year-old.
"Captain, what is your location?" she asked. When he didn't answer right away, she spoke again. "Jim-"
"Goddamn it, Jim! Where the hell are you?" Bones cut her off. He sounded pissed enough to make the comlink vibrate. "Get your ass back to sickbay! You're in no condition to be working!"
Working? Jim stared at the comlink dumbly before answering, "That's why I'm contacting the ship, Bones. To get back to sickbay. I'd even let you hypo me if it would make you feel better. Just help me."
He stopped talking long enough to shift positions. He needed to lay down.
There, that was better. The engine room floor was cold enough to finally douse the fire crawling over his skin.
"What are you talking about, Jim?" Bones sounded confused. "Are you telling me you're no longer onboard?"
Geez. Sometimes Bones could be slow on the uptake. Why was he transmitting anyway? Where was Spock, Sulu, or anyone else who had a clue about his abduction?
Jim yawned. He was very tired. The adrenaline had left him feeling even more drained than before. It was a roller coaster ride that was quickly nearing its end. Please watch your step when exiting the ride, and have a pleasant day.
"That's what I'm saying, Bones. I'm not on the Enterprise. Not unless it transformed into a Freddy Kruger nightmare while I was napping. Get me out of here, would you?"
There was a long pause and then Bones replied, "We have your location. But don't worry, uh… you aren't as far from the ship as you think. Just stay where you are and we'll get to you."
Damn right he was staying where he was. Even if he wanted to, he couldn't move another inch. He nodded in response before realizing what a stupid move it was.
"Yeah," he breathed quietly. "I'll be here."
"Try to stay awake, all right, kid? I worked hard to patch you up. Would be a shame for all that work to have been for nothing."
"You know me," Jim murmured. "I try not to waste your time."
His grip on the comlink loosened. It slipped from his fingers and clattered to the floor.
As he fell into the depths of unconsciousness before it stilled, he wasn't aware of the voice calling out for him. He wasn't aware of the underlying note of panic in its tone. And he certainly wasn't aware of the bridge officers' shocked expressions when Bones unleashed a string of curses and sprinted to the transporter room.