Author's note: Thank you to everyone who has reviewed, alerted, or favorited this story! This is the last chapter. It's been a great time! To the guest who reviewed last chapter: Sorry, my science isn't quite right. It is fanfiction. :)
To those you asked, I am considering writing a fic with Pike rescuing Jim, but I haven't decided yet. You'll have to wait and find out. Again, thanks to everyone for enjoying my story! I'd love to hear your thoughts on the last chapter or if you'd like me to write a Pike rescuing Jim from Tarsus story.
25.95 Hours into the Procedure
"His fever broke about thirty minutes ago. He's showing some signs of the sedation wearing off. I'm waiting for the latest blood test results. Once the serum is out of his system, I can give him some much needed pain medication." Leonard smiled as he stared at Jim's stats as he briefed Spock. "The worst is over. Now we just have to find out if it worked."
Christine and Leonard had just finished changing Jim into a clean pair of medical scrubs. He was extremely happy they fit him again, even though he'd lost a little weight from the whole ordeal. His kidney functions were up, but his urine inputs were low. Leonard added another bag of fluids.
"Do you believe the procedure worked?" Spock inquired.
"Physically, Jim is back to his current age, but we won't know his emotional or mental state until he wakes up. I'd guess he might be conscious in two or three hours." Bones checked his vitals and made a note on his PADD.
A soft beep came from the computer. Jim's pulse was increasing. Bones prepared to remove the external pacemaker, since his body was functioning without it. It wasn't affecting him. Christine waited with the tray as Bones removed the small piece of technology. Jim's heart continued beating as the ventilator did the work. He was starting to show signs of fighting the machine, but his oxygen levels weren't steady enough to be without it.
"Will you inform me when Jim is conscious?"
"Yeah, go let the bastards know Jim is recovering." Bones stood next to the curtain.
Spock picked up a small wrapped package and held it out. "Nyota and I created a gift for you, to honor your work with little Jim and to thank you."
"You didn't have to do that."
Bones took the package and tore it open. He flipped the small book over in his hands and opened it. His hand immediately went to his mouth, covering his shocked expression at the photos of little Jim sitting on his lap and smiling up at him. There was also a picture of Jim sitting in the captain's chair with his elephant and blanket as he stared at the view screen. He could see the real Jim in his smile. The book was filled with pictures of Jim as a little boy, interacting with his friends, but mostly spending time with Bones.
"I don't know what to say…" Bones cleared his throat and tried to give it back. "I don't deserve this."
Spock didn't move. "Doctor, it is not polite to return a gift. No matter how things progress, the book belongs to you."
The doctor simply nodded and kept the book with him. Spock excused himself. Bones blinked quickly to clear his eyes and stared at the picture of Jim sitting in the captain's chair.
Bones crossed his arms over his chest as he waited. Jim's body was returning to awareness and Spock was on his way to the medbay to wait with him. Jim's eyes fluttered, but didn't open. All traces of the fever were gone and infection was under control. His pain levels hadn't decreased though.
"Come on Jim," Leonard whispered.
"Doctor, is he awake?" Spock stepped into the small area.
"Not yet, but he's close."
The sound of the air leaving Jim's lungs jarred the doctor's focus. There was a slight catch in the sound, almost like a small cough. He turned his attention to his friend. Glassy blue eyes stared up blankly. It took one second for them to focus on Leonard's face before the alarms started blaring. Jim tried to push himself up as he gagged.
"Jim!" Bones exclaimed. "Calm down, don't fight the machine. It's helping you breath."
"Doctor, can it be removed?" Spock asked as Jim continued to fight the ventilator.
Leonard didn't answer him, but addressed Jim. "If you calm down, I can remove it. Jim, listen to my voice."
He lay back and appeared to calm down, though his heart was still racing.
"On the count of three, I need you to cough and keep coughing. It's gonna be uncomfortable, but I'll get it out."
"One. Two. Three."
The captain started coughing as Leonard unconnected the tube and removed it from his throat. Jim hacked and tried to push himself up. Spock took a step closer and adjusted the level of the biobed so Jim was sitting up at an incline. Leonard handed Jim the oxygen mask and he greedily held it to his face.
"What's your name?" Bones asked.
The young man gasped. "James T. Kirk. Why are you –"
"Do you know where you are?"
"I'm on the Enterprise. Bones, why are you asking me?"
Leonard shook his head. "What did I say to you the first time we met?"
"Just answer the question."
Jim took another gulp of oxygen. "You said you might throw up on me. What the hell happened?"
Before Jim could utter another sound, Bones wrapped his arms around him and almost crushed him. Jim returned the embrace. He let go after a minute, but the doctor didn't move.
Leonard pulled back and clapped his best friend on the shoulder. "It's good to have you back."
Jim tried to speak again, but went into a fit of coughing, wincing and putting his hand on his throat. Bones brought him a cup of water. He instructed him to take a few small sips so he didn't throw up. Jim lay back and fought to regain his breath.
"What the hell happened?" the captain asked.
"I told you not to touch it."
Spock put his arms behind his back. "What is the last thing you remember?"
"Umm…" Jim rubbed his forehead. "We were on the planet and watching the flower's transformation. I don't remember anything after that." He grimaced and let out an audible groan as he tried to move. "Why do I feel like this?"
Leonard stepped out of the curtained area for a moment and came back with his PADD. He pulled up the results of the blood sample. The serum already cleared from his bloodstream. It was safe to give Jim a pain medication to ease the aches. He grabbed and filled a hypo.
"It is what you would call a long story," Spock answered. "Doctor McCoy can give you more information when you are recovered."
Jim nodded as his eyes closed. He quickly opened them again, fighting to stay conscious. Bones moved up close to Jim and injected the hypo into his neck. The captain relaxed as the medication eased the discomfort. Bones fit the oxygen mask back over Jim's face, adjusting it so he couldn't pull it off.
"You're okay, I promise. Just get some sleep."
Bones could have sworn Spock's lips turned up just a little bit as Jim fell asleep. He was alive and he was their Jim again.
Bones pressed the doorbell to Jim's corridors and waited for him to answer. He'd discharged the captain after spending three days in the medbay. His memories were intact, but he didn't remember what had happened during the regression. Bones had explained everything to him. Jim was a bit uncomfortable with the thought of a miniature version of himself running around the ship. Leonard assured him he didn't behave too differently. Despite some lingering pain in his joints, Jim was off duty for a few days and recovering in his quarters. Bones tried to meet him for dinner, but he had cancelled, claiming he'd had dinner with Spock. It only took one call to find out Jim was lying. But Leonard gave him some space.
Meaning, it was a little after four in the morning and Bones hadn't heard from Jim since he discharged him that afternoon. He entered his medical override and stepped into Jim's quarters.
Bones ordered the computer to turn on the lights and saw Jim was sitting up in his bed, only wearing plaid pajamas pants and holding his PADD.
"Jim? Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you."
He set the PADD down. "You didn't wake me. I couldn't sleep."
"Me either. I thought I'd see how you were feeling."
Leonard carried his bag over and set it on the bed next to Jim before taking the space beside him. The captain stared at the bag. Bones laughed, opening it and pulling out the blanket and elephant. Jim gently took them in his hands.
"I thought you might like to keep them. Even if you don't remember it, you wouldn't sleep or go anywhere without those two items." Leonard shrugged.
"I didn't get a chance to thank you for everything you did while I was… little." Jim cleared his throat. "Thank you. I'm sure you made a great dad."
"That's what you told me when you were little. Spock even enjoyed having you around as a kid, though he'll deny it if you ask him."
Jim ran his fingers through his hair, which was still damp from a recent shower. He must not have been able to sleep. Bones guessed his nightmares had returned and hoped they were not the same ones he suffered from when he was little.
"I brought something else for you." Leonard stuck his hand into the bag and pulled out a silver frame.
Jim took it and a smile appeared on his face. His fingers traced the image of his younger self sitting in the captain's chair with his blanket and elephant. The kid looked really happy. He swallowed around the lump in his throat. Bones handed him another frame; this one had a picture of Jim sitting on the doctor's lap with his thumb in his mouth. The doctor kissed his forehead. Emotions surged up within him. Jim set both gifts down on the bed and wrapped his arms around Bones. He gasped and tried to control his emotions to no avail. Bones didn't say anything, but rubbed his back until he calmed down.
"Sorry. I don't know what's wrong with me," Jim mumbled, wiping his face on his blanket.
"It's okay. I expect those symptoms will go away in a few days. Your body is still adjusting, along with your emotions."
The younger man nodded. "I don't know how to deal with everything. Or how to talk to everyone after what they saw."
"You're still their Captain, Jim. Give it a little time." Bones embraced him again. "You're gonna be okay."
"Thanks to you, Bones. I'd be nowhere without you."
Bones smacked his friend gently on the shoulder and grabbed the elephant off the bed. He held it in his hands, touching the soft nose. "You know… even as a kid, you trusted me. You screamed at Spock, but you came right to me and wanted to be held by only me."
"I'm a smart kid."
"Yes you are. And I'll help you get through this."
Jim put a hand on his shoulder. "I expected nothing less, Bones."
"Captain on the bridge!" Chekov's voice rang out.
Jim stepped out of the lift and headed toward his chair. Each and every member of the bridge crew were standing and smiling at him. Bones stood beside his chair. Jim nodded at Spock and gave him a warm smile, clapping him on the shoulder. The Vulcan returned the gesture, putting a hand on the captain's shoulder for a brief second before letting it fall.
"It is agreeable to see you in command again, Captain," Spock said, rising one eyebrow.
"Thanks, Spock. I missed it too. You been taking good care of my ship?"
"Of course, Captain. Will you be requiring any naps during your shift today?"
Jim rolled his eyes. "Only if you feel you need one, Grandpa. I feel young again. Well, older but younger. Nevermind." He sat down in his chair.
"Jim, just remember one thing," Bones began.
"Don't touch things you aren't supposed to."
Jim grinned from ear to ear. "Don't worry, Bones. I learned my lesson."
"Yeah, right." He tapped the small bracelet on his wrist. "I'm not counting on it. But I'll be right with you, whether holding your hand or your puke bowl."
"I know you will." Jim relaxed into his chair. "Let's go on an adventure."