Ok, this was super hard to write. It's hard to put even a fictional character through this much emotional stress. I pretty much had this done a few days ago, but kept adjusting it. Please review and let me know what you think.
It had been twenty hours since McCoy's conversation with Dr. Jamerson and Jim still did not have any brain activity. A small bit of progress was noted, however, by the night nurse. Jim's excretory system had suddenly kicked into gear, evidenced by the presence of several ounces of urine in his catheter bag.
McCoy tried to be thankful for small blessings. He tried to view it as a sign that Jim's body was slowly recovering thanks to Khan's super blood, but it was hard to be optimistic when the progress he desperately needed to see was not forthcoming.
The news of the twenty-four hour time limit had quickly spread through the crew of the Enterprise. Dr. McCoy had debated telling them, but in the end he decided it would be best for them to see it coming. They'd all been on the worst kind of emotional roller coaster over the last few days. He didn't want the crewmembers closest to Jim to be blindsided if the worst happened.
And it looked as if the worst may truly happen. He'd been trying to brace himself, prepare mentally, but he had no idea how he was going to get through the next few hours. How could he be the one to take Jim off of the ventilator? He didn't have the strength. But he knew that if Jim had to be taken off of life support, he would be the one to do it. As heart-wrenching as it would be, somehow the thought of letting some other doctor, who didn't know Jim, didn't care about the great man and amazing friend he had been, be the one to take that final step was more than McCoy could bear. It would be the final medical act he could perform for his best friend.
With two hours to go, the senior officers of the Enterprise gathered morosely in the waiting area down the hall from the captain's room. They wanted to be there to say goodbye, something they'd all been robbed of the first time around. All of them of course, but Spock, who had already had the emotionally grueling experience of seeing his best friend die. The Vulcan had been conspicuously absent from the hospital since that morning when he had heard the news that the captain did not have long to live. Uhura said he was in a deep meditation. No one could blame him for not wanting to see Jim die twice.
With an hour to go, there was still no change. Dr. McCoy informed the officers in the waiting room that without a miracle, he would have no choice but remove their captain from life support. It was time to say their goodbyes. He left Jim alone with his crew as they individually went in to tell him what he had meant to them. The doctor told them that he wanted to give them all privacy, but the real reason was that he couldn't make himself witness the grief of the people who had called Jim captain and friend. His own grief was too much to bear.
With twenty minutes to go, McCoy knew it was time to say his own farewell. He had held out a slight ray of hope that Jim would suddenly show signs of life at the last minute, but he knew he had to face facts. He walked slowly into Jim's room, and without holding out much hope, he ran the tricorder over him for one last time. The results were not encouraging.
He took a deep breath, and tried to say goodbye to his best friend. "Jim." He stopped and angrily wiped his eyes. He wanted to tell Jim that he had never had a friend who had so much spirit, was so selfless, so accepting. But what came tumbling out was an expression of his anger at Jim leaving. "Damn it, Jim. I tried everything. There's nothing else I could do to save you. I needed you to meet me half way. But you didn't. It's like you died twice, and I couldn't do a damn thing about it." He took a shuddering breath. "You saved all of us, damn it. I was supposed be able to save your life, but I failed." The anger suddenly disappeared, leaving him with nothing but grief. And he knew what he was really trying to say. "I'm sorry, Jim. I'm so sorry I failed you. I want you to know that I'm proud of you. Pike would have been proud of you too. And I won't let you be forgotten. I'll tell my grandkids about you someday, tell them how the best friend I ever had…" Here he stopped, completely overcome with emotion. There was more that he wanted to say, but if he wanted to be in any shape to complete the medical procedure ahead of him, he was going to have to pull himself together. "Goodbye, Jim," he said softly.
With five minutes left to go, Dr. Jamerson came into the room, obviously making sure regulations were followed. He stayed in the background, standing at a respectful distance, letting McCoy and the medical staff from the Enterprise make the final preparations.
Dr. McCoy had decided that he was going to remove the ventilator instead of just disconnecting it from the power source. Jim would have hated having a machine help him breathe, and McCoy wanted to let him go peacefully, no tubes and wires, just James Kirk.
With one minute to go, McCoy removed the IV from Jim's arm and then removed the endotracheal tube from his throat. The heart monitor stayed in place so the official time of death could be recorded.
Jim took several shallow breaths on his own after the ventilator was removed, and then gasped for air for a moment before falling silent and still. He had stopped breathing only three minutes after being removed from life support. Dr. McCoy put his head in his hands and waited for the monitor to signal that Jim's heart had also stopped. Beep, beep, beep…beep… beep… His heart rate was slowing, and there was not a dry eye in the room as the medical staff waited to hear that final extended tone that meant Captain Kirk was dead.
Beep…beep…beep… silence. Bones steeled himself to call the time of death, waited miserably for the monitor's alarms to go off. Instead, after what seemed an eternity, there was suddenly another beep as the machine registered a heartbeat. Dr. McCoy looked at the screen in confusion. Was there something wrong with the monitor? Beep…beep…beep, Jim's heart had begun slowly beating again. He whipped out his tricorder, trying to figure out what was going on. In all his years of experience, nothing like this had ever happened. Hearts don't slow down, stop, and then start again on their own.
Beep, beep, beep. The tricorder agreed with the monitor, and showed Jim's heart rate slowly increasing. Dr. Jamerson had left his position against the wall and had his tricorder out too, staring at the read out in amazement. The two doctors looked at each other in disbelief. Jamerson went back to studying the screen, and Dr. McCoy looked down at Jim just in time to hear him gasp for air. What the hell? He was trying to breathe on his own!
"Let's get him on oxygen, immediately!" Dr. McCoy looked up in surprise. Dr. Jamerson had shouted the command a split second before McCoy could get the words out. Suddenly, the room was abuzz with activity, as oxygen was administered, an IV was reinserted, and a second monitor was placed on Jim's finger. The data coming from all the monitors and tricorders was being urgently analyzed by five different medical professionals at the same time, and they all came to the same conclusion. Jim's vitals were good. His heart beat was strong and regular, and his oxygen levels and blood pressure were rising. He was taking deep, strong, regular breaths, now that he was on oxygen.
As if this turn of events wasn't staggering enough, Dr. McCoy suddenly noticed another blip on his tricorder screen. What the hell? He stared at the screen for a full minute, making sure it wasn't a fluke, hardly daring to hope, afraid he was setting himself up for disappointment. But there it was. He knew he wasn't mistaken, but he still needed another pair of eyes before he could truly believe it.
"Dr. Jamerson," he said in a half-whisper.
The other doctor came over and glanced at the readout. His eyes widened, and he looked at McCoy in amazement. "Delta waves!" he said excitedly. "Your captain has regained some brain activity!"
"He has brain activity," McCoy repeated, almost to himself. For a second, he had been afraid he was dreaming again, but saying it out loud made it seem real. Fifteen minutes ago, Jim had been brain dead and on life support. Now he was breathing on his own, and his brain function was returning.
Jamerson shook his head. "I stopped believing in miracles a long time ago, but I wouldn't know what else to call this."
I would, thought McCoy. Super blood. But aloud, he said, "If anyone deserved a miracle, it was Jim." He turned to one of the nurses that was standing nearby and grinned. "Go tell the crewmembers in the waiting room to get in here," he instructed. He added quietly, "Damn it, Jim. If you die again, I'm going to kill you."