Disclaimer: I don't own Star Trek. T for swearing.

He's quiet as the shift comes to the end.

He was quiet during the shift itself, cracking no jokes, not engaging in any banter with anyone. His bridge crew had noticed his prolonged silence, how his voice was low when he did speak. They had exchanged glances and small gestures and pointed frowns with each other but no one said anything to him. They've been flying for a while, they know better. There's a distant look in his red-rimmed, glazed-over eyes and he's paler, paler that he ought to be, though months in space does little for one's complexion.

The shift ends and he does not linger, he is out of the chair and into the lift before anyone else can move, before anyone can approach him and ask if he's alright. They exchange their glances and looks and their frowns, but this is Kirk. He'd shrug off their concern with the quirk of a smile and a few words–– "Me? I'm fine. They need me in engineering, I gotta go," ––And then he'd be gone.

Kirk is late for his next shift.

Ten minutes pass, then fifteen. At the twenty-three minute mark, Commander Spock leaves the bridge. In the lift, he lingers, briefly, wondering if he should go directly to Kirk's quarters. The moment passes and he heads, instead, to the medical bay.

The moment he steps through the threshold, he hears "Spock!" uttered by a none too pleased Doctor McCoy. "What can I help you with?"

Spock inclines his head slightly as McCoy approaches, sleeves rolled up past his elbows, drying his hands on a crumpled cloth. "It pertains to the Captain, Doctor."

McCoy sighs exaggeratedly. When is it ever not about their damned Captain? "What's he done this time."

Spock's eyebrow quirks slightly. "The Captain is over twenty minutes late for his bridge shift. Excessive tardiness is most uncustomary of him."

"So? What do you want me to do? Comm him. Oh, let me guess, he's not answering."

"The last time I saw him, Jim appeared very––" Spock searches for a word. "Drawn."

It's McCoy's time to arch a brow. "You think he's sick," he prompts.

Spock inclines his head again. "Affirmative."

McCoy is frowning and the cloth is bunched in his grip and he thinks damn it, damn it, damn it all to hell. He sighs. "Fine," he says, scowling, "I'll go pull his lazy ass out of bed since the rest of you are too chicken to do it." He brushes past Spock, grumbling under his breath.

"Jim? Come on, darlin', rise and shine." McCoy pummels his fist against the door to the Captain's quarters, voice raised. "Jim?" He bangs again.

When there's no response, he sighs and shakes his head and punches the medical override code into the doorlock. The door slides open, a little peeved at the unwarranted abuse.

Inside, the front room is dark. "Lights, sixty percent," McCoy barks. "Jim? C'mon, time to do your job like the rest of us."

There's again no answer and McCoy feels unease pool in his gut. Kirk may not be a light sleeper, but he's not that heavy of a sleeper, either, always rising when he's needed, if a bit groggy at times.

Bones pushes open the door to the bedroom. "Jim?"

His captain lies on the bed, back to the door. He's curled in on himself, shirt riding up his back. There's a pillow at McCoy's feet, void of a cover. The bedspread is thrown across the room, sheets holding onto the mattress by one single corner, pooling on the floor. Kirk is shaking.

McCoy swears, cursing himself for not bringing the damn tricorder. He crosses the room and lays a hand on Kirk's upper arm and pulls back in surprise; his skin is hot. "Jim? Can you hear me?" He raises a hand to turn him over.


Kirk's voice is small and rough and Bones recoils again. Jim turns on his own, eyes narrow and blurred, but open.

"...No, Jimmy, it's me. It's Bones." God, how he had once loathed that nickname.


"Damn it, Jim, why don't you ever say anything, when you're? You're only goddamn human."

"––wasn't that bad––"

"No, no, it never is, never starts out bad. Then, before you know it, your brain is leaking out of your ears and your kidneys detach and end up nestled comfy next to your lungs. What have I told you? About space?"


"Damn right." Bones sighs. It seems that's all he's been doing, nowadays. "D'you think you can walk? Or do I have to call for a gurney? I can't carry you." I won't carry you.

Kirk inwardly blanches at the word "gurney". He groans loudly and scrubs his hand across his face. Someone is clearly beating against his skull and he does not appreciate it, not one bit.

He aches, like something tried its hardest to pull him limbs from their sockets and then drove a truck over him and then forced him to run five miles. In the rain.

Slowly, agonizingly slowly, he pulls himself into an upright position. He blinks rapidly at the change in altitude, leaning against the headboard. With McCoy's help, he manages to his feet. "God," he says. "God. This sucks." He doesn't see McCoy roll his eyes.

"C'mon, princess, let's get you checked out."

Kirk leans heavily on Bones as they make their way down the hallway and to the lift. While they wait, Bones takes the opportunity to press the back of his hand against Jim's forehead. A crude method, as the skin-to-skin test really only ever results in "Yup, that's a fever," if one is particularly warm, or "Uhh, I'm not sure," if one is anything but lava. And Kirk was lava.

There's surprise in McCoy's voice. "You're burnin' up, Jim. When did this start?" He hauls Kirk's ass into the lift.

Kirk blinks in the light. "Yesterday? Not, uh, not the fever. That came after alpha. Uh. Bones?"

The doors to the floor have opened. "Yeah, Jim, what is it?"

"I can't see." He's lightyears away. "Bones, I can't see."

McCoy swears. Kirk's legs give out and he sags suddenly against the doctor. The unexpected weight brings both of them down and the two are splayed there on the floor of the lift.

"Jim? Jim! Come on, damn it." McCoy pulls Kirk's eyelids back and runs his knuckles over his sternum. When Jim flinches, McCoy let's out a breath. He scrambles to his feet and into the hallway. "I need some help in here!"

to be continued

A/N: Thank you for reading! Feedback is much appreciated!