Soft restraints weren't actually soft.

Jim wanted to rename them. Preferably something that described their true nature.

Looks Can Be Deceiving Restraints.

Soft as Silk-Wrapped Steel Restraints.

Or perhaps Give You False Hope Restraints, because he'd been trying to break free for the last hour under the assumption . . . well, that he could.

It wasn't happening.

He'd only managed to rub his wrists raw, hike up his gown, and move the bed two paces to the left. When he got free, someone was getting fired. Or at the very least, reassigned. He was the captain. He shouldn't be half-naked and in restraints. Not in his own sick bay. It defied logic, and worse, it was humiliating.

"Hello?" he called. It must have been the millionth time. "Nurse Chapel? Ensign? Anybody?"

No one would answer him, which was disconcerting. Either they couldn't hear him, or they were too busy caring for other wounded. He didn't know. They'd put him in private sickbay quarters. Those usually reserved for contagious or long-term patients. There was no reason for it.

"Bones, is this a joke? Payback? I'm sorry, okay? Let me out."


What a shock.

Sighing, he looked around. There had to be a way to break the restraints. But stark white walls didn't offer any solutions.

Aside from the stasis field around his ankle, Jim felt pretty good. His headache and fever were gone. There was no reason for him not to bust out of here. And he hadn't wanted to tip the gurney, but his patience was gone.

Licking his lips, he steeled himself. He threw his body one way, then the other. Rocking back and forth. The wheels clanked against the floor. It took a couple tries to accept what he was about to do. His natural reaction was to steady himself. But then . . .


The impact jarred him sideways. His elbow hit the ground and Christ, it hurt. But the 'soft' restraint around his left wrist had broken at the strap. He made quick work of freeing himself from the rest of them.

His next problem was the stasis field. Technically, the button on the remote control panel should have freed him, but it wasn't working. He was forced to drag the stasis field with him to the door. It looked like a transparent purple bowling ball, and weighed about as much. He couldn't even bend his ankle.

Bones might have found the situation humorous. But he wasn't here, and Jim was starting to worry.

Something had gotten into the electrical system. A virus or an enemy. An alien force. Whatever it was, it was messing with the doors too. The door to his room didn't slide open automatically. He didn't bother with voice command. Not in the traditional sense, anyway.

"Damn it!" he shouted, pounding a fist on the door. Freedom was so close and yet, so far-

The airtight lock disengaged.

Could it be?

"Oh, please have a manual override. Please have a manual override."

He continued muttering as he wiggled his fingers between the door and frame. Hopefully it wouldn't reengage just now. That might suck. He liked his fingers. He wanted to keep them.

Sounds began to leak through the crack. Shouting.

That couldn't be good. Was someone calling for help?

In the end, it might have been his hero complex that almost killed him. Again. If he'd stopped to listen for a moment, instead of grunting and straining, pulling the door open . . .

He might have realized it was Bones shouting at him.

Telling him something very important.

Like how the oxygen to sickbay had been cut off.

He might have realized how Bones was speaking to him from inside a space suit. Reluctant - but perfectly willing - to rescue his dumb ass for the fourth or fifth time this week. Unfortunately, Jim being Jim, he didn't realize any of this. Until it was too late.

What followed was a vaguely humorous attempt to turn back time, much like those seen in old animations.

Jim leapt back into the safety of his private room, which suddenly looked too luxurious to leave just yet, and struggled to close the door. He managed to close it with six inches to spare, tried to pull his foot into the room with him-

And couldn't. The stasis field was wider than six inches in diameter. Never was the saying, 'between a rock and a hard place' more applicable.

What could he say? Panic had a way of making him stupid sometimes. It drove him to run after breaking the neighbors' windows. It drove him to lie when confronted about it. And it drove him to forget about the anchor attached to his foot.

Bones was yelling something about being an idiot. Jim didn't know for sure. It was hard to make out every word through the space suit. That, and his hearing and vision were rapidly deteriorating. He'd heard that could happen without oxygen.

"Just give me a minute, Jim," he distantly heard. "I'll get you out of there. But you need to stay awake until I do. Understand? Think of Nurse Chapel or something."

It was about the time his knees buckled that he began to worry.

But Bones was prying open the door. It would be okay. He could revive him, get him some decent clothes, and they could discover why the Enterprise was malfunctioning. With any luck, she wasn't cutting off the oxygen to any other sectors. Though sickbay was a pretty damn important sector.

It was about the time his vision faded to black that he stopped speculating.

His world was reduced to a cold tile floor. And the gruff scoldings of an irate doctor.

"Killing off brain cells . . . not that you have many to spare, obviously . . . stupid moron. Did you not see-"

If Jim could have smiled as he went under, he would have. It was just like old times.

Wow. This has to be one for the books. Last update was almost a year and a half ago.

My writing style has changed a bit, grown with me. Hopefully for the better. I glanced over the last few chapters, and it was pretty painful to read. But I figured, why not? o2bafirefighter sent me a PM, inquiring if I was going to finish this because it wasn't marked as complete. I write for a living now, but it's still fun to hurt Jim. So I'll try to keep updating this thing from here on out, since I've reopened the story. We'll see where it goes.