Rating: PG/PG-13 (for hazards in Starfleet life)
Disclaimer: Star Trek, its characters and universe belong to
Paramount/Viacom. I own only this story. I make no money from this story; this is only a creative outlet and hobby.
Author’s Note: Sequel to Lapses III, published in Spiced
Peaches XXIV. Can stand alone but the flow of the story is best seen in entirety.
Special thanks to my beta Stephanie, who despite family troubles,
managed to squeeze betaing two different versions of this story in. You are amazing!
Ever since they’d
returned from Minara II Spock had been acting oddly. McCoy had tried asking what
the problem was, but as usual the Vulcan had denied anything was out of the ordinary.
Denial, McCoy knew from experience, was all the confirmation one needed that a Vulcan was having some kind of a problem.
A discreet medical
scan, done with Scotty’s help during a beam out, had confirmed it was nothing medical and Jim hadn’t been able
to weasel the information out of Spock either. By now the entire bridge crew
could tell something was the matter but the only ones brave enough to enquire had been answered with a raised eyebrow followed
by a rigid Vulcan back.
told Jim about the bond, and from the look of things neither had Spock, but it was clear as day that the captain had figured
out there was some kind of a change in their relationship. To his credit, the
captain hadn’t asked about it, and without prompting had done a little juggling to the duty schedules so they could
have more time together. But as Spock’s mood continued to darken, illustrated
most clearly by his increasing formality with the crew, Jim had started to manufacture reasons for his CMO and first officer
to be alone together. When this failed to produce a noticeable change, Jim had
called him in for a private meeting.
Jim paced his quarters as the doctor sat seated at the small table, a cup of coffee clutched in front of him. “What the hell is going on!” Jim turned to look
at him, running a hand through his hair standing it up on end. “And don’t
you dare tell me it’s nothing. I keep hearing that from Spock and we both know that’s as good as a yes.”
if I can tell you,” McCoy shrugged and took a sip of coffee. “He’s
tight lipped with me too.”
“Tight lipped and clingy,” Jim muttered dropping into his chair. “He’s barely let you out of his sight in the last week.”
cup half way to his lips. “Clingy?”
you haven’t noticed?” Jim shook his head. “All those meetings
he’s been manufacturing, him following you down to that stupid conference last week, it’s highly unusual.”
you were behind the meetings, trying to get him and me alone so he’d spill the beans.” McCoy frowned. “And I asked him to go to the conference so I could get Scotty to run a med scan on him during the
transporter buffering. Granted, I did think it was a bit odd he’d agreed
Jim blinked. “Wait a minute. You mean you haven’t
noticed that you have a Vulcan shadow? He hasn’t annoyed the living hell
out of you yet?”
his following me around annoy me?”
Jim drew the word out slowly as if talking to a child, “he’s Spock and you are Bones. Spock and Bones in a room equals...BOOM!” Jim made a
hand motion to illustrate the explosive combination. “You’ve spent
the majority of this five year mission using each other as verbal punching bags. Granted,
you’ve been as thick as thieves the last six months or so, but I can’t see all of that just disappearing.”
Bones conceded, “but we both enjoy it.” McCoy narrowed his eyes. “Are you trying to get information out of me now? I know you asked Spock about us.”
“Us? So there is an ‘us’?”
on how you define that,” Bones shrugged. “There’s a Vulcan
‘us’ but by human standards we’re just friends.”
McCoy frowned, “why the sudden prurient interest in my love life?”
got a manic depressive Vulcan on my hands and I need to know what’s going on so I can handle him.” Jim slapped
the table in frustration. “Ever since Gem and those ridiculous headed aliens
torturing you he’s been insufferable. And that’s saying something
since he was already a real mess after Yonada. I figured if you two had a thing going it would sort of explain it all. You left him for a younger woman and almost died twice. Not good things in the relationship department.”
McCoy closed his
eyes. “Jim, there’s a problem with your logic.”
now you’re talking like him. You must be sleeping with him.”
McCoy used a warning tone, “I am not having sex with Spock. I’m bonded
and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “No. It’s a friendship bond, like
what he has with you, only it’s sort of mutated into this deeper thing because of that time we spent on Vulcan. He had access to my mind for a prolonged time while he was recovering and it linked
does it mean?”
McCoy opened his eyes and looked up. “It means you have to deal with a
cranky Vulcan, Jim, and that while I know he’s cranky I’m damned clueless about what to do about it.”
like it,” Jim muttered, rubbing tiredly at his eyes. “Bones, why
did nobody warn me that of all the emotional problems a crew can face on a long term deep space mission it was the Vulcan
you need watch out for?”
because they wrote the book on deep space exploration for us,” McCoy shrugged.
“Just look on the bright side. He’s only your first office
and friend. You don’t have to worry about two thousand years of Vulcan
mysticism landing on your head. That’s my department.”
that’s not at all comforting.”
Not long after
their conversation the Enterprise was called to deliver medical aid to a stranded
freighter that had half her crew down with some sort of fever. McCoy didn’t
want to risk his medical team without knowing what the disease was, so he beamed over alone in a biohazard suit to take a
few samples first. Spock had objected, strongly, arguing that his Vulcan biology
would make him immune to the majority of human illnesses that could be in play and that he should at minimum accompany the
doctor. Jim had finally had to make the call and ordered Spock to stand down.
McCoy had returned
with his samples, unharmed, to find a frowning Vulcan standing alone at the transporter controls.
for self sacrifice, doctor, is most distressing,” Spock stated, his arms crossed firmly in front of him as he eyed the
doctor from across the computer terminal.
only by your own, Spock,” McCoy grinned as he pulled off the helmet. “We both volunteered. Jim just didn’t
see a point in risking us both.” McCoy sprinted to the wall and hit the
comm button. “McCoy to sickbay - Christine, it’s just a simple case of strep.
You’ve got clearance to beam over and handle it. No need for M’Benga
or me.” He unzipped the suit and stepped out of it, pushing it to the side
for a crewman to clean and put away.
Christine’s voice answered quickly. “I’ll take Cheryl with
me. She could use a simple away mission after that disaster last month. A couple of quick hypos and we can be on our way.
They should be recovered by the time they reach their base.”
like a plan. Let me know if you run into anything more complicated.”
The comm clicked
off and McCoy turned around and started for the door only to end up running right into a solid Vulcan wall.
Spock stated coldly, resuming their previous discussion. “You take unnecessary
risks far too often.” Spock glared. “You were illogical. You are far too willing to sacrifice yourself when there are other options.”
his eyes darkening. “Minara II.”
what’s been bothering you?” McCoy shrugged. “It was a choice
of risking my death or your sanity. And you’d be hard pressed to find someone in here that would have done differently. We all know what that kind of life would mean for a Vulcan.”
incorrigible,” Spock sighed softly. “I do not wish for you to make
such a bargain again. Three times in less than a month you have attempted to
think marrying Natiria counts in the same category as death, Spock. And I wasn’t
sacrificing myself just now. I went over there in full biohazard gear to check on a freighter manned by an all human crew
of four! I suspected it was just a simple strep infection but I wasn’t
going to take the chance, hence the suit. There wasn’t any real danger.”
Spock frowned ever so slightly. “We have seen many virus strains that can
penetrate biohazard suits. And the idea of marriage to a woman one cannot love
is repugnant.” Spock made a sound in the back of his throat. “I should
that the hallway was empty before starting out towards his quarters. “I thought you didn’t believe in love.”
believe in an emotion would be illogical. Love exists, that is not debatable. The nature, meaning, or value in the emotion
is another matter.” Spock’s eyes darkened. “Despite all Vulcan training, my race is not immune, doctor.
In fact, some level of emotion is necessary for a successful marriage bond. Without which the survival of the species
would naturally be in jeopardy.”
admitting you’re capable of love?”
Spock raised an
eyebrow. “We have yet to encounter a sentient species that is not. I, however, do not intend to allow the emotion to rule my actions.”
want to marry for love.” McCoy shook his head as they waited for the turbolift. “That, my friend, is illogical.”
the lack of options for ending a marriage on Vulcan, I consider it survival instinct.” Spock let out a slow breath. “Mutual affection would be preferable to disdain, if for no other reason than
it would reduce the likelihood of an inconvenient challenge.”
have to give you,” McCoy smirked. “By the way, since we’re
discussing Minara II, what was that thing between you and Gem?”
Spock’s eyebrow quirked. “What ‘thing’, doctor?”
“You know. That thing.” McCoy waggled his
eyebrows. “Right before I hit you with that hypo, you and her shared this
ears tipped green. “I do not recall any significant look.”
you can’t lie. You two had a moment there,” McCoy grinned. “Come on. What’d she say?”
nothing. She does not have vocal cords.”
McCoy rolled his
eyes. “She may be a mute, but she was communicating there, Spock. You’re a touch telepath, she’s an empath.
There’s a lot of potential crossover. I know you’re part empathic
yourself. You can sense emotion easily.”
not telepathic, doctor,” Spock hesitated. “However, she did attempt to connect empathically to me. During her attempt, we did share a brief connection and my abilities naturally sought out her mind for
slightly. “She learned of our connection.
She was distressed by my...” Spock hesitated. “...concern,” he finished softly.
McCoy asked gently. “That I would die if I went with them?”
McCoy shook his head. “I’m sorry.”
your failure to accept my decision to risk myself in your place, you did nothing wrong.”
say anything for a long time. By the time he got the words sorted in his head the turbolift had arrived and Spock had already
called out their deck number.
have a damn fine bedside manner,” McCoy said softly. “You tried to
block some of my pain, when I was dying. Just like you did when I was undergoing
the Fabrini treatment.”
say anything and McCoy risked a light hand on his elbow, conscious they were in semi-public.
not thank logic, Leonard,” Spock stated softly, his voice slightly gruff. “I
would miss thee greatly, my friend, if you were to leave.”
his arm before letting go. “Feeling’s mutual, Spock. Feeling’s
The ship vibrated
for a moment as they went back into warp. Presumably Christine was already back having delivered the medication and they were
back on their way to finish up some star mapping in the outer sector. McCoy smiled
softly, glad that for once it wasn’t a medical emergency.
The lift dinged
and the doors opened on their level and both stepped out. They walked in
silence for a few moments until McCoy noticed the slightly pinched expression on Spock’s face. “I know something’s
got your goat, Spock. You’ve been out of sorts for weeks. Your reaction today’s proof. What’s going on?”
pace slowed for a moment before he seemed to shake himself and he increased his stride to return to the doctor’s side. “Not at all, doctor. I do not have
McCoy whined. “Come on. After
all we’ve been through, can’t you talk to me?”
Spock raised an
eyebrow. “We are talking.”
McCoy glared. “Now see here, mister! I enjoy
our banter as much as the next person, but this is serious.”
expression lightened. “Did you know your nostrils flare dramatically when
you are irritated?”
McCoy started but his tirade was cut short as the deck pitched alarmingly under them and both the doctor and the Vulcan were
thrown violently into the wall. Moments later the red warning lights flared to
life and the red-alert klaxon started shrieking. Without a word, Spock was on
his feet and running for the turbolift to get back to the bridge, McCoy hot on his heels.
The lift doors
were part way open, the emergency lighting blinking eerily in a haze of smoke. “The
lift controls are fused.” Spock noted grimly. “We will have to take
the Jefferies tube and climb.”
it’s only four decks,” McCoy mumbled and as he followed Spock back down the corridor to the orange laddered emergency
tube that led directly from the officers quarters to the bridge. “It looks
like main power’s out. If we had ship wide communications Jim would have
made an announcement by now.”
“If he is
alive.” Spock started up the tube, his boots making a clicking sound on the metal rungs.
“We do not know what has damaged the ship.”
a phaser or torpedo blast,” McCoy huffed trying to keep up with Spock’s rapid accent. “Whatever it was, it’s a new one. I’ve been
hurled around by plenty of things hitting this ship and nothing’s ever felt like that.”
an internal explosion,” Spock supplied grimly. “But we are still
in warp. Power to the engines is intact.”
Spock answered softly. “Or possibly we are out of control and about to
crash into a star.”
me,” McCoy grumbled between pants for air, “why you misplaced your optimism?”
always found pragmatism to be of better service.”
and climb you pointed eared elf of negativity.”
When they reached
the bridge it took several moments for Spock to get the access panel off. They
burst onto the command deck to find it filled with smoke and the stench of burnt flesh.
Sulu was frantically trying to regain helm control despite the fact that half the front console was melted into an
unrecognizable black mass. The ensign that had relieved Chekov was dead, his entire chest burned black from whatever had melted
the console, his hands curled into bony claws in front of him.
Spock moved quickly
toward his science station, pushing the younger relief officer out of the way. “Mr.
Sulu, I am attempting to re-route helm through my science station. Your controls
are unlikely to be repaired quickly.”
Sulu responded. “You’d better make it quick. We’re at Warp 4 and I have no control. If we hit anything...”
McCoy jumped out
of the way as a second access panel crashed to the floor and Kirk bounded onto the bridge from the tube that led to the lower
rec decks. “Report!” he bellowed, leaning over to catch his breath.
Uhura, her hair
in disarray and missing an earring, responded. “I just managed to get the communication system back on line, Captain. Reports are still coming in. It started
with helm control exploding. Mr. Scott reports that several other ship’s
systems had similar power fluctuations at the same time. He believes it is related
to the solar flare radiation we experienced last week. It seems to have weakened some of the insulation on the power grid. When we went into warp it caused a ship wide cascade failure with large surges in
power hitting randomly. The weakened insulation could not handle the overload and several fires have broken out.”
McCoy asked grimly.
Wert is dead,” Uhura supplied gruffly. “Deck three reports a half
dozen minor to moderate injuries from a fire in Science Lab 7 and there’s at least a hundred reporting smoke inhalation. Engineering had a major fire but Scotty reports he’s already got it out and
the injured were transported to sickbay using emergency protocols. M’Benga is working on them now. We don’t have clear numbers yet or a list of personnel affected, but Scotty was on the comm so at
least we know there’s someone manning the system down there who knows what he’s doing.”
better get down to sickbay,” McCoy started for the emergency tube. “Jim,
I’ll send someone up for Wert as soon as we can spare the personnel. With
the tubolifts out it’s going to be a while.”
Kirk waved him
off. The ship lurched suddenly again and Kirk grabbed the command chair to stay
on his feet. “Spock!”
regained helm control, captain,” Spock reported, his voice carefully controlled.
“I have taken us out of warp until Mr. Scott can ascertain the full damage.”
into the tube and started his long climb down to sickbay and didn’t hear the rest.
By the time he made it down to the right deck, the corridor was lined with wounded and one of the first year medical
students they had on board for training purposes was dispensing oxygen to those worst affected.
Christine called out as she caught sight of him. “Engineering was hit pretty hard.
We’ve got several critical burn cases.” She hesitated and
drew closer, dropping her voice to a whisper. “Jones isn’t going
to make it. I sedated him, but his lungs are too damaged and there’s almost
no skin left on him.” She shivered. “Mercer is almost as bad, but
M’Benga thinks he’s got a handle on the situation and if we can keep infection at bay she’ll have a chance
- but she’s going to need extensive reconstructive surgery and he doubts she’ll have much function in her hands.”
She grimaced. “Danielson’s in there, doctor. He’s...in bad shape.
M’Benga managed to get the worst of the internal bleeding stopped but there’s not much else he can do in
the present circumstances.”
“Danielson? Justin Danielson?”
He pushed past her and made for the intensive care ward. Justin was laid
out on the biobed and if it wasn’t for Christine telling him who it was he wouldn’t have recognized the young
man. His uniform had melted onto his skin and everything was black except for
the harsh cracks of red that ran across his face and neck and a patch of shiny white skin on his shoulder. The burns easily
covered seventy percent of his body. McCoy pulled out his scanner and quickly
double checked the biobed readings. There was extensive lung damage from inhaling
super heated air but worse than that was the crushing injury to his lower abdomen.
fell, Christine whispered behind him. “Scotty said the main control panel
went up like a roman candle. Jones was manning it, and Danielson was working next to it when it happened. Mercer was hurt pulling them away. She got Danielson back from the panel and was going in for Jones when
one of the support beams came loose, the heat melted the bolts. It pinned Danielson
to the floor and Mercer was struck from behind and fell face first into the fire.”
McCoy closed his eyes for a long second before taking another look at the readings.
The beam had crushed Justin’s lower vertebrae, completely severing the spinal cord and breaking the pelvis into
pieces. The organ damage was massive. He’d
need to be put on advanced life support to make it long enough to get to a medical facility with the capabilities to do a
multiple organ replacement. His stomach and intestines had been nearly flattened and had ruptured in several places. Justin’s spleen was lacerated and he had renal failure. “There’s
nothing I can do,” McCoy whispered, turning away. Even without the other
injuries to contend with the damage was more than the Enterprise sickbay could
handle. They didn’t have the equipment to grow that many organs fast enough.
Hypovolemia had set in and was wreaking havoc on his system. And they wouldn’t
know how bad the rhabdomyolysis would be for hours yet. He felt his throat tightening.
“Do what you can to make him comfortable. And point me where I need
to be, where I can do something,” he managed to choke out, forcing his grief to the side.
in understanding, her hand going to his shoulder in silent support. “I’ve got him in a chemical induced coma and
M’Benga used that new blood additive you picked up last month at the conference.
It’s helping stop some of the hemorrhaging and we’re giving him transfusions and fluids as fast as we can. We had to do an escharotamy to keep the blood flow from obstructing in his legs. If
he can hold on until we can get him to Earth they might be able to repair some of the damage.”
McCoy closed his
eyes. “Christine, we both know there’s no way to surgically repair
that much damage. Assuming he survives the crushing injury, he’s going
to need an intestinal transplant. If he survives that, he’s got the spinal injury and the burns.” McCoy opened a cabinet and pulled out a second power cell for his scanner knowing he’d need it. “If one thing doesn’t kill him, there’s another 10 things waiting
to do so.” McCoy tested the new cell and growled, “Now what’s
our status? We’ve got enough wounded out there it looks like a war zone.”
a slow breath. “I know. But
there’s always a chance, doctor. You know that.” She shook herself and nodded towards the hall. “I’ve
started triage. We were actually lucky.
Most of the fires were small. It was only Engineering and Helm that had
people working directly on the instruments when they went up. Everything else
is mostly smoke inhalation and less extensive burns. We’ve got three people
stuck in a turboshaft that may be in worse condition but we won’t know until Scotty’s people can cut them out.
The power to the shaft’s compromised.”
“Not lucky enough, Christine. Not lucky enough.” He forced himself not to look behind him as he headed out to tend to the rest of the wounded. “You keep up the triage. Send me the ones I can help. Make the others comfortable and keep the minor injuries out in the hall.”
“Done. I’ve got that group from the Academy doing basic first aid out there. M’Benga’s going to be busy with Mercer for a while. You’ll
have to handle the bulk of critical cases until he’s done.”
McCoy bent down to start assessing one of Spock’s science lab assistants. Her
whole left side was burned but it looked to be mostly second degree. Her uniform
had melted into the wounds and McCoy silently cursed Star Fleet for the poor choice in fabric.
They were going to have a lot of painful debriding ahead of them. He
gave her a hypo for the pain, asked one of the nurses to start a fluid IV, and moved on to another engineering kid with a
mix of critical and surface burns on his back.
by the beam?” McCoy asked gently and the kid nodded. McCoy waved the scanner
over him and frowned. “Besides the burns you’ve got a broken rib that’s pretty close to your lung. I want you to stay as still as possible.”
The kid grimaced. “Lt. Danielson, he was worse than I am. Can you do anything for him?”
McCoy shook his
head, “I’m sorry.” He pulled out another hypo and loaded it
with a mild sedative to help with the smoke inhalation.
The young man
closed his eyes. “I am too, doctor.
He was a good officer. Did you know him?”
The young man
started. “Oh god,” he began to apologize but McCoy pressed the hypo
to his neck and he went unconscious.
The next several
hours were a blur of patients and panic as more and more cases came into sickbay. Fires
on board ship were always catastrophic and with so many spread out across the Enterprise
the air filters couldn’t clean out the smoke and contaminates. The tainted
air was being circulated ship wide. The burning insulation and plastics were
causing widespread respiratory problems. Christine had been right, considering
what could have happened, there weren’t that many with burns, but the number presenting with smoke inhalation from the
original fires was high and with the air recyclers spreading the fumes nearly the whole crew was affected.
Even Kirk was
that he’d have the air scrubbed within fifteen hours. The amounts weren’t
lethal but they’d all be feeling it for days. McCoy was already counting
on epic numbers of respiratory infections, a few cases of pneumonia, and some allergic asthma reactions.
and shook his head. “Damn it,” he wheezed into his elbow as he pressed
another hypospray into a coughing ensign’s neck. He’d never handled
bad smells well and he could feel a migraine starting to form.
was finished with Mercer and had gone to help the med students dispense medication to the less affected and Christine was
monitoring Jones and Danielson. They were holding on still, barely, and McCoy
wanted nothing more than to go check on his godson. But Justin couldn’t
be helped and the others could, so between shallow painful breaths he moved from patient to patient.
notice when Spock entered the ward, not until the Vulcan neatly plucked the scanner out of his hand and forced him into a
chair next to Justin’s biobed. “Sit,” Spock insisted in a gruff
voice, the smoke even causing the Vulcan problems. “The rest of the injuries
are minor and can be handled by the medical students on board. You are needed here.”
McCoy looked up. “Spock,” his voice broke and he dipped his head, bringing one shaky hand
up to run through his hair. “I can’t.”
say anything, only kept his hand firmly on McCoy’s shoulder as the rest of sickbay rushed around behind them. Eventually, McCoy gave in and slumped into the chair to stare unseeing at the readouts. He wasn’t surprised when he heard Christine offer Spock a chair and an update on his science lab
crew. Spock nodded at what the nurse said and left just long enough to personally
check on his people before returning to the doctor’s side. He was unaccountably
grateful for the silent Vulcan’s company even if Spock did have a datapadd in his lap.
The ship was barely out of a crisis and while Spock wasn’t needed on the bridge, he was needed to keep track
of repair timetables and casualty lists. McCoy was just happy that the job was
somewhat portable and that Spock could do it from a padd in sickbay as easily as he could from his own office. For his part, McCoy had programmed his own padd to show each patient biobed readouts in case he was needed.
The minutes turned
into hours and the hustle of sickbay turned into a hushed stillness that was so deep McCoy could feel it in his bones. The air was still heavy with contaminates from the fire and if you looked just right
you could see a slight haze floating about a foot from the ceiling. Christine
had muted the biobed signals so they didn’t chirp out each fluctuation in reading and dimmed the overhead lighting. She and M’Benga had cleared out the last of the minor cases and those needing
further attention were in the main ward. Only Justin, Mercer, and Jones remained in intensive care.
The only person
to come in or out for hours was Jim with quiet updates on ship’s status for Spock. The captain made a point to sit down
for a few precious moments with each of the patients left in sickbay each time he visited.
Now that the ship was stable, he could afford the time to check on his people and Jim Kirk never let a crewman down
when it came to seeing them in sickbay - even the unconscious ones were updated on the ship, told what good men they were,
and Jim made a point to tell each and every crewman that when they’d recovered he’d see to them regaining their
positions personally. They were hollow words to the three in intensive care. McCoy knew they’d never see duty again even if they lived. Images of Chris Pike in his chair flashed before McCoy and he couldn’t meet Jim’s eyes
over Justin’s bed.
Mercer was stable,
her body wrapped in layers of medicated bandages, and floating a few inches off the biobed with a modified force field that
would keep her burns from having to rest on anything. Kirk had already issued
a mayday and another Constitution Class ship - McCoy couldn’t remember which one - was on the way to take the worst
cases to the nearest Star Base. Mercer would be on that ship. In what had to be the ultimate irony, the freighter they’d helped just minutes before had also diverted
course. They were carrying a shipment of air scrubbers bound for one of the terraforming
colonies. With their help, Scott could have the contaminates out of the air in
less than half his original estimate once they were installed.
Scotty had everything
under control now, but it would be several days before Enterprise would be back
up to full warp speed and there were too many injuries for the small medical crew to handle alone. They needed to get those with the worst injuries back to civilization for treatment, especially the ones
that were going to have long recoveries. They could handle the smoke inhalation
and trauma. They couldn’t handle fitting and training Mercer with the two prosthetic arms she’d end up with nor
could they reconstruct her face. And while he could do the necessary skin grafts on some of the others that had been caught in the Engineering and Science Lab
fires, it would stretch his people pretty thin to keep up on the physical therapy they’d need and see to the everyday
injuries of the rest of the crew. Besides, nobody on the ship was a burn expert.
They could get better care back at Star Fleet. Be with their families. Or at least that’s what he kept telling himself to try and convince his own mind that he wasn’t
failing them, wasn’t abandoning them to strangers.
Jones died at
Spock left his
side long enough to help Christine transfer the body to a stretcher so it could be taken to the morgue. McCoy couldn’t look away from the slow rise and fall of his godson’s chest to see which crewman
came to do the grim task. Justin was still holding on and he was afraid that
if he looked away, if he blinked, when he looked back he’d be gone.
had given way to late morning when Spock broke the silence. “He is strong.”
McCoy rubbed tiredly at his face. “Justin’s never been one to give up.”
“He is your
McCoy nodded. “His father and I grew up in the same town, went to school together. Percy went into teaching and married this cute little thing he met in college. They had Justin about four years before we found out we were going to have Joanna. We raised the kids together. Always thought, one day, that
they might make a good couple. Justin joined ‘Fleet a year before I did. When the divorce happened he’s the one that suggested I sign up. He thought it would be good for me to get out and about. He
asked me to help him transfer here last month. He begged me. I asked Jim for a personal favor.” McCoy couldn’t
stop a tear from breaking free and running down his cheek. “God, Spock,
if I hadn’t done that he’d be safe on that transport depot by Jupiter.”
had not, he would have asked for another deep space assignment, if that was his calling,” Spock insisted quietly. “You cannot hold yourself accountable for events outside your control. You have
done your best by him, Leonard. The rest will be up to a series of variables
that even modern medicine cannot predict with certainty.”
the point of all this, Spock, if I can’t heal a few burns? What’s
the damn point!” McCoy stood up quickly and started pacing, his chair falling
over in the process. Spock bent down and righted it without a word. “He’s family, Spock.
And I’m reduced to a deathbed watch - again.”
“He is not
dead,” Spock reminded him softly. “He is stable. M’Benga managed
to stop the worst of the hemorrhaging. The blood transfusions and fluids are
starting to take effect and his blood volume, while low, is no longer life threatening.
The life support systems are functioning in place of the damaged organs and will be sufficient to maintain life until
he can be transported to Earth and the medical facilities at Star Fleet headquarters.
He has at least a forty-five percent chance of survival.”
McCoy muttered. “Forty-five percent chance he’ll end up like Christopher
Pike - paralyzed, burned beyond recognition, and barely able to communicate.”
injuries were more severe and there was extensive neurological impairment,” Spock shook his head. “Your own readings confirm that with the exception of the spinal injury and surface nerve damage,
your godson is not thus impaired. We may not be able to repair the spinal cord
fully, but with time and effort he will likely regain the ability to walk. Reconstructive
surgery is advancing daily. Given enough time his face can be repaired.”
it sound like he’ll be up and around next year.” McCoy sank back
into his chair. “It’ll take years.”
will also take years to recover and while she can be fitted for prosthetics she will never be able to serve on another starship. Star Fleet regulations do not allow for double amputees on deep space missions since
the most effective prosthetics require recharging which may not be possible on away missions or during crises. She will also have to endure years of surgeries and therapy. Yet
you would tell her she is lucky to be alive. Does not your godson deserve the
of course I’m glad he’s alive!” McCoy tipped his head back and glared at the ceiling. “I just...I
can’t fix it for him.”
must simply be endured, Leonard,” Spock said gently. “He is already strong or he would not still be alive. This
will only serve to forge him into something greater.”
kill us makes us stronger?”
always been my mother’s philosophy and so far I believe it to be true,” Spock responded, a small smile lifting
one corner of his mouth ever so slightly. “The ship will be here momentarily. Do you require assistance readying him for transport?
I believe Nurse Chapel has seen to the others that will be leaving.”
I could go with him,” McCoy admitted as he stood up to start preparations. “I feel like I’m abandoning him
when he needs me most. I wasn’t in sickbay when he came in and now I’m
just pawning him off on another ship.”
doing what is best for him even though it is difficult for you personally. Is that not a requirement for those we consider
family?” Spock came up behind him quietly and laid a hand gently on the
McCoy leaned back
slightly into the touch and sighed. “Yeah, yeah it is.”
In all, twenty-seven
including Justin were transferred to the other ship for transport back to Earth. McCoy
also sent the medical students back with them to help during the week and half journey back to Starfleet Headquarters. The CMO, one Doctor Nichols, of the Endeavour
was a young thing, on her first deep space mission. McCoy checked her credentials. She was by all accounts a talented physician and top of her class. She was young for a CMO, especially for a Constitution class ship, but she’d proven herself in more
than one firefight and the fallout thereof. But he couldn’t help the feeling
of dread he had as he handed over Justin’s chart.
reviewed it and nodded. “I’ve got an ICU bed ready. He’ll have
an around the clock watch, so will Mercer. After the fight you and M’Benga
had keeping them alive for the first ten hours I won’t let them go easily. We
were just damn lucky to be in the area. It’s not often two of the big ships are this close to one another and there’s
not an invasion happening.”
McCoy sighed. “I’ve seen plenty of other Constitution class ships, doctor. Usually hanging dead in space. Just take care you aren’t
one of them.”
looked up, her eyes hard. “I heard about the Exeter.”
forget the Constellation, the Defiant,
and the Excalibur. The ranks
are getting a little thin.”
for those of us left to take care of one another.” She nodded once and
looked back at her now full sickbay. “We were supposed to be on the way
to Troyius. Rumor has it Kirk’s agreed to take over that mission for us. You’ll have just enough time to limp to the starbase and get your repairs in
before hitting high warp.”
for the wicked, madam.”
have been very bad in a previous life, doctor.”
it was a previous life?”
Spock’s voice called softly from the corridor. “Is the transfer complete?”
McCoy called back. “I’m on my way out.” He turned back to the other CMO and shook her hand. “Take
care of them for me?”
“As if they
were my own.”
McCoy nodded and
turned on his heel, not letting himself look back at his unconscious godson. Spock
was waiting for him in the hall at parade rest, his dark eyes scanning over the doctor as if looking for an injury.
As McCoy walked
past, Spock fell into step beside him as they made their way through the Endeavour’s
corridors back to the transporter room. “Are you alright?”
McCoy forced a smile. “Justin’s stable and Mercer’s vitals
Spock nodded silently
and McCoy sighed. “I can’t fool you anymore can I? Not with this
bond. You know how upset I am.”
Spock admitted gently. “But your control is admirable.”
you’re prepared, when we get back to the ship I’m going to have a complete and utter meltdown. I may break some furniture or possibly hit a few things. I
can guarantee that I’m getting drunk - probably stay drunk until we reach our next assignment.”
“I am warned.”
blame you if you made yourself scarce for a while.”
aren’t going to are you?”
be there for you, Leonard, as you have been there for me.”
in the corridor and turned to frown at his friend. “Come hell or high water?”
Spock raised an
eyebrow. “Come hell certainly. But
is the high water negotiable?”
keep his laughter back at that. But after a few moments he realized he couldn’t stop even though his lungs burned from
the fumes and protested at the abuse. The tears started and before he knew it
he was half sobbing while laughing hysterically into a Vulcan’s chest in the middle of a strange ship’s corridor
while its crew looked on in astonishment.
For his part,
Spock said nothing, only held up his friend until the tears started to dry up and the laughter turned into pained gasps for
air. McCoy straightened himself and raised his head to meet Spock’s calm
gaze. “I want to go home, Spock.”
grip on his arms tightened. He said nothing but silently led the way down the
last three hundred feet to the Endeavour’s transporter room. The tech on duty stared at them but didn’t complain as they both climbed up onto the same transporter
node. The Enterprise’s transporter
room was empty when they arrived with all the crew needed for various repairs. It
would be another few hours until the Enterprise’s transporters were repaired
and at the moment they were a low priority.
to get the doctor back to his room with a minimal amount of manhandling and McCoy quickly found himself with a cup of Vulcan
tea and a sleeping pill in his hand.
rest,” Spock insisted softly. “I must see to the ship but I will
be here when you wake.”
fine, Spock. You don’t need to worry about me.” McCoy popped the
pill and swallowed it along with a large swig of the tea. “Just need a
be here.” Spock took the cup from the doctor and set it on the desk. “Our
bond goes both ways, doctor. You have looked after me long enough. It is time
I returned the favor.”
McCoy nodded tiredly,
the pill already starting to take effect. “I’m too tired to argue
suggest you stop,” Spock gave an almost smile. He pulled the covers over
the doctor and gently ran a single finger over his temple.
McCoy shivered. “What was that?”
watch over you, even from the bridge.” Spock responded, his finger again tracing its former path over McCoy’s
temple. A light sensation of awareness flittered over McCoy’s mind. “Rest, t’hy’la.” Spock murmured softly. “Qual se tu?”
McCoy mumbled as he drifted off. “What was that?”
Leonard.” Spock repeated his movement over McCoy’s temple, the quiet repetition driving the doctor further into
slumber. “Nar-tor pulaya s'au k'ka'es
- k'el'rular tun-bosh.”
McCoy tried to hold onto wakefulness long enough to ask what Spock was saying but he couldn’t form the words. He fell asleep with the light sound of Spock’s voice in ear.
“Ma etek natyan teretuhr lau etek shetau weh-lo'uk do tum t'on.” Spock said softly, his finger still gently
tracing the same path on the doctor’s temple.