Disclaimer: I don't own Star Trek. T for swearing.
Bones scrubs a hand across his face, trying to clear the exhaustion from his eyes. He doesn't normally take two shifts in a row unless there's an emergency or he's performing major surgery, ergo, unless he has to. He's human, for god's sake. He runs off food, and sleep, and what little sanity he has maintained, up in the endless vacuum of space.
But even if Jim's condition hadn't gone downhill as fast as it had, if he hadn't started thrashing and seizing and crying out in the night, and even if his temperature hadn't shot straight into Dangerous Territory, Bones would have still taken the second shift anyway. Jim doesn't deserve to suffer alone, no matter how hard he tries, no matter how he buries himself in a blanket and forces sleep to avoid his crew and shrugs off hands on his shoulders and skulks off to lick his wounds. Bones knows he doesn't really do it on purpose. Growing up from a broken childhood, people form habits. Since they've met, it seems, Bones has been gently trying to rid Jim of those habits.
Also, the Caelum virus is, like, really awful. There's no way in hell Bones was going to leave Jim alone. Nah. They're stuck together, whether either of them like it or not.
He's coming back to the sickbay after getting a quick meal in the mess because no matter how much you twist it, double shifts still suck. It's towards the end of it, however; he's planning on checking Jim's vitals a few more times and administering a hypo he may or may not need and lingering unnecessarily until he decides to head to his quarters before the third shift starts. God, he needs some sleep.
Bones steps just inside the sliding doors and his eyes immediately go to the last bed on the right. He sees Jim's blanketed form, his back facing him, and he sees Spock, still sitting quietly at his side. A slight crease forms on his brow as he approaches the bed. He nods to Spock who barely raises an eyebrow. "Commander."
His eyes skirt over Jim's vitals. Things are looking better. His temperature is down to 38 degrees, finally. Having that little number at 41 was somewhat terrifying. Seeing Jim fucking seize was even worse.
McCoy turns to Spock who's looking up at him expectantly. "His temperature's at 38 an' I'm in no mood to try and bring it down any lower, 'least, not right now. I don't want him ODing on fever reducers. If it starts to climb again, well," McCoy runs a hand through his hair. "I'll think of something. It shouldn't, though; the fever ought to taper off soon enough. How's he been?"
"The captain has remained sleeping."
Bones nods once. "Yeah, good. He needs it."
Spock looks at him. "As do you, Doctor." This is the second time Spock has pestered him to sleep. McCoy waves him off.
"Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm goin'." Pushy Vulcan. "Let me know if anything catastrophic happens." He spares another surveying glance at his friend/brother/patient and his eyes linger over a pair of loosely held hands. McCoy swallows but doesn't say anything, he leaves the medical bay in search of some lost sleep.
He wakes up and his body no longer feels like it's at war with itself.
His eyes sort of open before he has time to figure himself out; the world tilts with his disorientation and he tries to situate himself.
He's not overly freezing or overly hot, a bit warm from the blanket wrapped around him but not uncomfortably so. His head is still somewhat stuffy, somewhat waterlogged but he no longer feels half-drowned. He blinks groggily in the light of the medical bay. His body feels heavy, something he associates with the act of sleeping for too long, usually after a full night out or being hit by one of Bones' sedatives.
He turns his head a bit and a face comes into focus and it is Spock. Jim feels something brush against his fingers but he doesn't know what it is, he sees Spock sit up a little straighter and he swallows and cracks a half smile. "Hey, Spock."
"Hello, Jim." Spock says. "Is there anything you require?"
"Some water would be really great."
Spock helps Jim shimmy into an elevated position. He's not quite sitting straight up, he's like, sixty degrees as opposed to ninety. Once he's settled upright and adjusted to the altitude change, Spock hands him a cup with water in it. Jim takes a few grateful sips and tries to ignore the shaking in his fingers. He hands back the empty cup and takes stock of himself.
He feels better, feels a hell of a lot better than yesterday and the brief moments where he was conscious and aware last night. He doesn't remember too much, just that he had been talking to Spock and then there had been pain and Bones was there, too. He lost a lot of time. There are flashes, he remembers, here and there, but he doesn't know how much is real or how much is fever dreams.
There's no pain right now, just clouds and cotton, his muscles are a bit sore and his head hurts, just a touch, but that goes along with the stuffiness between his ears. He's dazed but aware, and weak. Oh, fuck, he's weak. He feels that his energy resources are drained almost completely, he's worn out like he's ran for miles or like he's been working for too long on too little sleep. God, this is a shitty feeling. He swallows around the knot in his throat.
He's okay, though. That's what matters, right? That he's okay. Maybe he can get out of here soon.
Jim blinks and schools his face into a less pitiful expression. "Where's Bones?" He does not comment on Spock's use of 'captain'.
"Doctor McCoy is in his quarters, sleeping. Would you like me to rouse him?"
A frown. "No, let Bones sleep. What––What time is it?"
"It is just after eleven hundred hours."
Kirk rubs his eyes. "Well, shit." He's been asleep for a while.
Spock cocks an eyebrow. "How do you feel today, Jim?" he asks carefully.
"Better," he admits. "Well I mean. Anything is better than yesterday. But I'm feeling––not good, exactly, but a hell of a lot better. What, ah, happened yesterday? Did I, um," He lowers his voice. "...pass out again?" Pass out. Faint. Collapse valiantly. Etc.
Spock stares at him evenly. Jim shifts uncomfortably.
"You experienced a febrile seizure after your temperature rose too quickly. It took several hours to lower to a safe point."
"Hold the fuck up––I had a seizure? Like––like a seizure?"
Spock nods. Holy shit.
Kirk presses the heels of his palms to his eyes. "I don't––God, I don't even remember. Holy shit." He looks at Spock, a faint smile pulling at his lips. "This Caelum shit really sucks, doesn't it."
"Doctor McCoy is confident the worst of the disease has passed."
Kirk snorts. "Yeah, it fucking better've." Shit's starting to take its toll.
Spock scrutinizes Kirk for a moment longer. "Captain, if you are feeling better, will you excuse me…?" Got a friggin ship to run. He lets the sentence hang.
"Oh, yeah, god, sure. You have better things to do than babysit a sick captain. Take care of my ship, Spock." The last sentence is spoken with as much authority as Kirk can muster up sitting in a biobed. Spock inclines his head respectably and rises to exit the medical bay.
"Captain," he says, turning back.
For a brief moment, Spock looks like he forgot what he wanted to say. Kirk almost smiles. "I wish for your rapid recovery."
"Thanks, Spock." Me too. He watches his second in command nod and turn his back and leave him alone.
When Bones finds him, Kirk is dozing. A light doze, because he slept, like, roughly fifteen hours, or something, the night before. Bones himself looks well rested and Jim's face breaks into a grin when he sees him. "Hey, Bones."
"You look better."
"I feel better. Like, a lot better. Like, please-release-me-from-this-prison, better."
Bones rolls his eyes and he checks over Kirk's vitals. "I dunno if Spock mentioned it, but you had a seizure last night, Jim." His tone is serious.
Jim frowns. He bunches his still-trembling hands into the blanket. "Yeah, uh. He mentioned it."
"Well." Bones looks up. "Your temperature is down to 37.5––"
"99.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Your fever has officially broken. You're still running a little warm, but––"
"Boooones. Come on. I'll be fine."
Bones glares at him. "Let's get some food into you, and then maybe––maybe I'll release you to your quarters."
Kirk could do a goddamn victory dance, right there, right in the middle of the sick bay. He eats everything Bones puts in front of him without complaint, and to be honest, he's happy to. He feels instantly better with actual, physical food inside of him.
"Okay," he says a little while later. "I'm done. I've been good. Can I please get out of here now?" He's itchin'.
Bones frowns and sighs and huffs. "Okay, Jim," he says, "I'll release you back to your quarters. You're off duty for the next, we'll say, four or five days––"
"You're shitting me."
Bones lifts his eyes from his PADD and Kirk immediately regrets saying anything. "Listen here, you little shit," he seems to say. "Your fever reached 106 degrees and you had a fucking seizure less than twenty-four hours ago. You shouldn't be going anywhere but I am allowing you to recover in your quarters because you're a goddamn pain in my ass. If your temperature rises anymore, any fraction of a degree, or if you overexert yourself, you're coming right back here. Do I make my self clear?"
Kirk swallows. "Yes, Doctor McCoy, loud and clear."
"Good. Now get up."
Jim's first few steps are shaky (god he's so weak) but Bones is there, ready to steady him if he falters. He doesn't offer a hover chair or gurney because he knows Kirk'll immediately reject it.
He firmly holds his upper arm and tows him to the turbo lift, smirking as they enter. "Let's try and not––what's the phrase––collapse valiantly this time, shall we?"
The look Kirk shoots him is cold. Sweat drips down his back with the strain of just walking, but he's determined not to show weakness. He will not make McCoy regret sending him back to his quarters. He promises.
They reach his room and Kirk sighs silently in contentment. He falls onto the bed that is at least seventeen times more comfortable than the planks of wood they try to pass off as biobeds. His PADD's already on the bedside table and everything.
Before McCoy leaves, he lifts Kirk's shirt, ignoring sounds of protest, and presses a sensor forcefully onto his shoulder. "Do not remove this," he says firmly. "It allows me to monitor your vitals. Do not," he repeats. "Remove this."
Jim nods. "Gotcha."
"Alright. Get some rest, darlin'. I know it feels like you've been sleeping a lot, but take a nap, do some paperwork, whatever. Don't go running around, you hear? Just take it easy for a few days."
Kirk fights the urge to roll his eyes. "Yes, mom."
"I'm serious, Jim."
"Yeah, I know you are. Stop hovering, alright? You're making me anxious. I'm fine."
McCoy hesitates in the doorway. "I'll see you in a few hours."
"See you in a few hours."
a few hours later
"It's Captain Kirk."
Shit. Of course. "What about him?"
"His temperature has reached 38.5 degrees; his fever is back."
A sigh. Bones knew he shouldn't've let him outta there. God, fuck the Caelum virus. He rifles around the bay for a mild fever reducer, loading it into a hypo that he places securely into his pocket. It's been a couple of hours; Kirk can stand seeing him again.
He opens his mouth to ask the nurse a question when he's cut off by a loud, angry alarm blaring through the bay.
to be continued
A/N: Shit. it's been a while, hasn't it?
yeah, sorry. i took an internet & fanfiction break for a little while to focus on some personal matters and to also, like, write some stuff that wasn't fanfiction. i really need to stop taking extended breaks from my stories because i totally lose the feel of them, you know? i've been working on this chapter for a while, and i'm still not happy with it, but i decided that the wait has been long enough.
the response to this story has been just really incredible. like ? ? ? i don't even know, this started out as a purely indulgent fic that's now like really long? at least hella longer than i intended. i don't know. it means a lot for there to be actual people reading and reacting to the shit that i write. thanks for sticking with it. there should be like? one more chapter? hopefully? where even is this story going
anyway, it's, like, 3 AM (isn't it always) thank you so much for reading and staying with this ridiculous fic. since i'm a bit iffy on this chapter, feedback would be really fantastic.
thank you! (again!)