Title: Parent and Child
Genre: Gen, h/c
Characters: Bones, Kirk, Spock
Word count: ~ 9,300
Spoilers: Yeah, well, the movie.
Author Notes: Written for ellenoz as part of the Chimera release celebration. She requested a Star Trek reboot fic with a whumped Kirk and Spock and Bones having to care for him since they can't return to Enterprise. This is what I came up with, I think it fits the basics of what she was looking for (I hope!) Oh, and the medical stuff...sigh. If Bones can cure kidney disease with a pill in the older Star Trek movies, then he can do what he does in this fic. I cling to my mantra of the wonders of futuristic sci fi medicine.
Summary: Trapped on a damaged shuttle with a gravely injured Kirk, Bones and Spock learn a little more about each other, and how much Kirk has known all along.
Parent and Child
One of the most volatile and dynamic relationships in the universe is the bond between parent and child. After all I’ve seen as a doctor in Starfleet, you might think I’d have a different answer…Romulans and Vulcans; Klingons and Humans; hell, engineers and xenobiologists… but you’d be wrong, because none of them hold a candle to the love/hate relationship that exists between most parents and children. The perfect example is the current strained diplomatic relations between the surviving Vulcans and Starfleet. Yes, I’m more than aware that I was talking about the bonds between a parent and child, but I stand by my assessment.
It was the Vulcans who, nearly two hundred years ago, first made contact with humans on Earth after Zefram Chochrane successfully tested a warp engine. It was the Vulcans who took humans under their wing and helped guide them through those first years of interplanetary exploration, or stifle their progress depending on your point of view. Humans had spent nearly two centuries trying to prove our equality to our Vulcan allies, and they had spent the same amount of time patting our heads like precoious toddlers and continuing to believe otherwise. And isn’t that exactly what the parent-child relationship is like?
Then the unthinkable happened. Six months ago the Vulcan homeworld was destroyed by a madman hell bent on vengeance. Suddenly, the indestructible parent had weakened and it was time for the children they had raised to step up and be the ones to help them. Just as with any parent who unexpectedly falls ill and finds themselves dependent on the ones they raised, there had been resistance, which just makes the humanitarian mission I am on to the new Vulcan settlement that much more difficult. A fact Spock is pointing out to me and Jim yet again.
"Captain, I cannot stress enough how delicate this visit to the High Command truly is."
Jim guides our shuttle out of Enterprise’s bay and drawls, "And yet that hasn’t stopped you from trying… repeatedly." Our captain stops the inevitable explanation from his First Officer by calling back to our ship. "Enterprise, this is Shuttle One, we’re clear of the hangar. You’re good to go."
Sulu responds through the coms of the shuttle. "Copy that, Shuttle One. We’ll rendezvous with you in three days once repairs are complete."
Scotty’s brogue cuts across the transmission then. "Sorry we couldn’t get you any closer to the outpost, Captain. But with the shielding around the warp core tenuous at best, the gravitation pull from the larger moons could have it ejecting with nary a moment’s notice."
"Don’t worry about it, Mr. Scott," Jim reassures. "Given a choice between a five hour flight and losing the whole warp core, I’ll take the flight. Besides, it will give Mr. Spock a chance to teach me in excruciating detail, yet again, how not to insult the High Command."
One angled eye brow arches a micron higher at the jab. It’s the only disturbance to the serine face, and barely discernable at that, but the smirk on Jim’s face says he didn’t miss it.
Spock turns his attention back to the controls before him in the copilot’s seat. "I look forward to the opportunity. Although, I fear five hours may not be sufficient time to complete such a formidable task."
There is a small snicker that comes through the open channel with the Enterprise; it’s one Jim recognizes easily.
"Mr. Sulu, as acting Captain, you have full authority to whack Ensign Chekov upside the head if you so choose."
"I’ll take that under advisement, sir," Sulu promises. "Have a safe trip. Enterprise, out."
As we watch our larger flagship move away, Jim orders, "Lay in a course for the Vulcan settlement, Mr. Spock."
"Navigation set and locked, Captain," Spock responds. "Expected time of arrival, four hours, forty-two minutes."
"Four hours, forty-two minutes." Jim leans back in his seat. "Whatever shall we do with our time?"
As if on cue, Spock starts up again. "As I was saying, this visit must be handled tactfully."
"And what, exactly, do you think I’m going to do?" Jim snorts. "Give your dad a noogie in greeting?"
"I should hope even you would be able to refrain from that," Spock admits. "But for one, you must not refer to this trip as a humanitarian mission as you have been."
"Starfleet designated it a humanitarian mission," I point out with a hitch of my thumb toward the back of the shuttle. "It’s why I’m tagging along with enough medical supplies to choke a whole herd of horses."
"Regardless of the amount of supplies we are delivering and their potential effect on equine populations," Spock responds dryly, "a humanitarian mission suggests that the Vulcan people are in need of assistance."
"They are in need of assistance," I remind. "Hence the humanitarian mission sanctioned by Starfleet."
An outbreak of Spragles flu had swept through the new colony less than a month after it was established, infecting thousands and killing over a dozen. If they were still a population of six billion, that number wouldn’t even register as a statistical blip. However, with barely ten thousand Vulcan survivors, those deaths cut deep, especially when they could have been avoided with the supplies we carry.
"My people are one of the most advanced races in the universe," Spock points out. "In time, they will have their proper medical facilities established once more."
"And until that time, Starfleet will help them any way we can," Jim counters. "Would you rather we sat back and watched them struggle?"
"No, of course not. It is simply that I wish to avoid, as the human expression says, adding insult to injury." Spock sighs, a rare expression of vulnerability he allows us to see. "Vulcans are a proud people."
He spares the merest glance in my direction when I snort at the understatement.
"We have already suffered a devastating loss, to now find it necessary to ask for assistance so soon after the establishment of our colony, especially from…"
Spock pauses, realizing he is now the one on the verge of delivering the insult.
Jim, however, finishes for him. "Especially from humans."
With a tilt of his head, Spock acknowledges, "Yes, especially from humans."
The arrogance of this lot is astounding. I shake my head and throw my arms wide. "So they’d rather die than take our help?"
"Doctor, I never said−"
I cut Spock off. "No, you didn’t have to say it. Even as a lowly human being I know that’s what you meant."
"You don’t understand the Vulcan psyche or how vulnerable it is at this moment," Spock defends.
"You’re right, I don’t," I snap. "And hopefully I never will if it means understanding a race so stubborn, so pig head, so conceited, so egotistical, so−"
"Bones," Jim interrupts. "That’s enough."
"I’ve got better things to do, you know," I point out. "I could have stayed back on the ship to help people who appreciate medical aid when it’s offered."
"Doctor, you misinterpret my intentions−"
"I misinterpret nothing. I may not be a pointy-eared bastard, but that doesn’t mean my hearing’s bad."
Spock’s calm exterior starts to crack at my comment. "I fail to see what relevance my physical features play in this discussion."
"Alright!" Jim yells to drown out our growing argument. "I said, that’s enough!"
Spock and I both fall silent with disgruntled expressions and Jim nods in approval. "Okay, that’s better." With a finger pointed at me, he reminds, "You’re following the direct order of Starfleet Command. You don’t have to want to go, you don’t have to like going, but you’re going and you’re going to keep your opinions to yourself." Before I can argue, he directs the finger at Spock. "And you…"
Spock straightens his back, almost daring Jim to chastise him. I can see the urge to reach out and slap that challenging expression off of the Vulcan’s face playing across Jim’s. Finally, he takes a deep breath.
"And you and your people are going to get our help whether you like it or not." When Spock starts to speak, Jim talks first. "I will do everything in my power to keep from rubbing it in the face of the Elders that they need our help, but I will not apologize for being there to give it. Do I make myself clear, Commander?"
The use of Spock’s title is one of the few ways Jim has learned to keep our Vulcan first officer under control. Spock may not respect much about the human race, but there are three things he does− his deceased mother, Lieutenant Uhura, and Starfleet Command.
"Yes, Captain, you do," Spock responds, doing a damn fine job of controlling his ire.
With that discussion effectively brought to an end by our illustrious leader, the ship falls into a heavy silence. Jim looks between the two of us before leaning back in the pilot’s seat.
"Well, only four hours and thirty-seven minutes to go." He shoots us both a sardonic smile. "I can tell this is going to be one hell of a fun trip."
"Yeah, it’s going to rank right up there with the last time I saw my ex-wife and the judge awarded her everything I owned, including my spleen if she were to ever have need of it," I grumble. I pull my data pad from my bag and begin going over some medical files I have stored there, for no other reason than to have an excuse not to talk to anyone else in the shuttle.
Unfortunately, after almost two hours, I’ve reviewed everything on the tablet, including my calendar for the next month. My attention drifts to my personal folder on the computer and a certain personal message I have stored there. It came in just yesterday, but I’ve played it at least a dozen times already. With a mixture of trepidation and anticipation, I click it open once more. I have the volume turned down so no one else can hear it, but I practically know the words by heart now anyway, so there’s no need for sound.
My lips quirk at the image of the girl on the screen. Girl… hell, she’s practically a young woman; at least her tone and clothing suggest that’s how she thinks of herself. And how in God’s name did that happen so quickly, and how did I manage to miss it? I find my fingers tightening on the tablet, but my grip isn’t enough to keep the data pad from flying out of my hands and across the shuttle when the explosion occurs, and the brightness of my daughter’s smile isn’t enough to keep the world from going black.
Hi, Dad. I got the crystal you sent from Ballastrad Prime. It’s pretty neat the way it lights up when you turn on the magnetic field. Although Mom thinks the magnets are going to cause brain damage, so I only turn it on when she’s not around. Speaking of Mom not being around, she’s planning a trip to Delta Vega next month… some enlightenment camp spa thing… and I’m supposed to go stay with Nanna and Gramps. But I was wondering if, maybe, I might be able to come stay with you. I know being on your ship is important and they need you, but it would only be for a week, so I thought I could, maybe, meet you someplace for shore leave or something? It’s just an idea, you know? So, if you could just think about it a little bit and let me know. Okay? But soon before Mom buys the ticket to send me to Nanna and Gramps. Okay, gotta go to band practice. Love you, Da…. Doctor McCoy.
Joanna’s voice is replaced by Spock’s and accompanied by a brisk shake of my shoulder. "Dr. McCoy, can you hear me?"
My eyes fly open to squint instantly against the light Spock is shining in my face. He thankfully moves the beam aside and I look around at the nearly pitch black interior of the shuttle. "What the hell happened?" I flinch away as a spark flies from one of the consoles.
Spock doesn’t pay the electrical current any mind, nor does he seem to notice the stream of blood running from temple to chin. "Seeing as I am unable to run any sort of diagnostic programs, I can only present supposition. However, given the violent nature of the situation, I am fairly certain it was a catastrophic failure of the propulsion system. Fortunately, the emergency systems seem to be operating, including life support and structural shielding."
I follow his gaze to the green glow of a force shield covering a gaping hole in the side of the ship across from where I had been sitting. Several items are floating in the void of space just beyond, including my data pad, several boxes of relief supplies, and the seat adjacent to mine. It’s a good thing I decided to sit behind Spock and not Jim. The name has barely registered in my mind when panic twists my gut and I sit up abruptly.
My head throbs with the action and it’s more than worry that causes my stomach to flip flop sickeningly as I demand, "Where’s Jim?"
"The captain is unconscious and unresponsive." Spock shines his light toward the front of the ship to reveal Jim lying limply across the controls. "I fear he may be experiencing some internal bleeding, as well."
I push myself forward, not minding when Spock helps me with a hand under my arm to gain some momentum and make it the few feet to the front of the shuttle. The spike in nausea I feel speaks to my own head injury, but it will pass. Right now I have a patient to see to.
"Mr. Spock, see if you can use your flashlight to locate the medical tricorder in my kit."
"Would that be the medical kit that is currently floating outside the ship?"
"Damn," I curse under my breath when I catch sight of the bag just a few feet away on the other side of the force field. For all its proximity, it might as well still be on the Enterprise. "I guess I’m doing this the old fashioned way."
My fingers pressed to Jim’s carotid artery reveal a pulse that is a weaker and more rapid than I care for, and the clammy feel of his skin doesn’t improve my opinion of Jim’s condition. It does, however, make me suspect that Spock is right in his diagnosis of internal injuries. A quick check of his spine for any obvious dmage has me asking Spock to help move our injured captain to the floor so I can give him a more thorough examination.
Jim groans as we lay him in the shuttle's aisle way, and his eyes sliver open. When I snatch the flashlight away from Spock and shine it in Kirk’s eyes, he groans louder and bats weakly at my hand. "Cut it out."
"Not until I’m done checking you over," I counter, knocking his protesting hand out of the way.
"What… fuck happened?" Jim demands in a slur, trying to sit up but Spock and I both push him back down.
"Seeing as I am unable to run any sort of diagnostic programs−" Spock starts to explain, yet again.
I, however, cut him off. "The ship blew up, or at least half of it did." My hands move to press against his abdomen. "I told you this sort of thing could happen the day I met you," I remind.
That had been four years ago. Funny how in that time, space travel had become almost second nature for me, and yet, right now I can feel those old anxieties returning, especially when Jim cries out when I hit a particularly sensitive area.
Jim actually twists his lips into a smirk at my frown. "So… did I beat… ex-wife… to dibs on your…spleen?"
"I’m thinking more likely the liver," I correct.
"Damn," Jim exhales roughly. "Yours… has to be…toast…by now."
"Which is precisely why you aren’t going to lose yours," I promise then turn to Spock. "There should be an emergency medical kit in one of the storage bins. Hopefully not one on the damaged side of the ship."
Spock nods in understanding. "I’ll see what I can find."
"Bones," Jim grunts. "Even I know…you can’t fix…a liver with a med kit."
"No," I agree, "but I can slow things down until we can get you back to the medical bay on Enterprise."
Spock returns a few seconds later with a battered but mostly intact first aid kit. I take it, and immediately pry open the bent metal of the case. The tricorder is shattered along with several ambules of drugs. I just hope like hell the hyposyringe of desmostat is still whole. Finding the undamaged dose, I exhale in relief.
When the Vulcan sees what I’m going for, he frowns. "I was under the impression that was used to stop the bleeding in open wounds."
I nod my head. "That’s the typically indication, but in an emergency, and under the care of a proper physician and not a grunt with a two hour training class as his only credentials, it can be used to slow internal bleeding for a short amount of time until a proper medical facility can be reached."
"How short?" Jim asks warily.
"Three, four hours at most," I tell him.
The question is clear in his eyes, ‘and then what?’
"Then your liver will start shutting down," I inform him, clear my throat and mumble, "That is if your blood doesn’t start coagulating in your veins before then."
His head drops back on the floor at the news. "Shit, Bones."
Spock asks the question Jim hasn’t. "And what if you do not administer the desmostat?"
"He’ll bleed out in less than an hour."
"Goddammit!" The curse is spoken through gritted teeth. "Don’t you have…any good news?"
"The emergency beacon appears to be functioning properly," Spock supplies. "While communications are down, it is very likely the Enterprise will detect our distress signal."
"How long until they arrive?" I ask hopefully.
"Please say…less than…an hour," Jim pleads.
Spock’s expression is almost apologetic. "If they still have warp capability, it will be at least two hours depending on how far they had traveled prior to the signal being activated."
Jim closes his eyes at the news and curses again. "Shit."
I ready the hyposyringe as I await his concurrence with my recommended course of action. "Jim?"
He reopens his eyes and squares his jaw with a sharp nod of his head. "Do it."
"This may hurt at first," I warn, not waiting for him to respond before injecting the drug into his liver.
Jim sucks in a harsh breath. "Why…not…surprised?"
I take a quick inventory of the medical kit and offer, "I can sedate you if you want."
"No." He stops me with a shake of his head. "I’m good."
The sweat dripping down his face tells me otherwise, and I squeeze his shoulder. "The pain will ease up in a few minutes, once it’s successfully slowed the bleeding."
He reaches up to grip my wrist. "You can… fix it? On Enterprise?"
I honestly think his worry is less about his chances of survival and more about his chances of remaining a Starfleet captain. I place my free hand over his and give him my cockiest smile.
"Are you doubting the best damn doctor in the fleet?"
"He’s here?" Jim glances around, weakly feigning curiosity. "Why isn’t…he treating me?"
"Ass," I grumble with a squeeze to the hand below mine. "I almost regret that I’m going to save your ungrateful life now."
The corner of his mouth turns up, humor managing to burn through the cloud of pain on his face, before he releases his hold on my hand and closes his eyes again. I place a hand on his chest to check his respiration and take his pulse on his wrist. Christ, I could count on one hand the number of times I had needed to check vitals in such an archaic manner since graduating from medical school. After monitoring his vitals for a good twenty minutes or so, I’m satisfied Jim is at least stable for the time being, and turn my attention to Spock.
"Commander, I think it’s time I treat your injuries."
Spock shakes his head. "My injuries are minor. You should tend to the Captain."
"I have attended to the Captain," I point out, "and now I’m going to see to you."
"There is no need, Doctor−"
I tilt my head curiously. "Then you won’t mind showing me your Starfleet medical credentials? Hell, I’ll even settle for any civilian medical certifications you might possess."
He straightens, looks just past my shoulder, as if he can’t stand to meet my eyes, yet refuses to look abashed. "I hold neither, as I am sure you are already aware." I have to wonder if this is the same position he took as a child when he was caught with his hands in the cookie jar by his mother.
"Then we are in agreement that I am, in fact, the only medical officer currently present on this shuttle, and therefore, am the only one qualified to determine the extent and severity of any injuries you may have sustained during our current mission?"
He maintains the rigid straightness of his back even as his eyes slide to meet mine. "Shall I remain standing or sit for my examination?"
I pat the chair that I had been sitting in before with as smug a grin as I can manage through the throbbing headache I have from my own bump to the head. "Have a seat, Mr. Spock; it will make dressing that cut much easier."
He sits, eyes locked toward the front windshield of our damaged craft, and I use the flashlight to examine his wound a little closer. He was correct in his assessment of the laceration; it’s fairly minor and the bleeding has practically stopped. Once I clean it up, it’s nothing a little suturing glue won’t handle easily enough. Not that I’ll admit that to him.
With a concerned, "hmmm," I take an antiseptic wipe and clean the area as I ask, "Any dizziness or nausea?"
"No," he confirms, the slightest frown forming in what I can only infer as his equivalent of worry at my tone. "I do not believe I ever lost consciousness following the explosion."
"I see," I evade, taking another look at the wound even though I don’t really need to. "Any ringing of the ears?"
"Initially there was some, but it has passed."
Hell, he's doing better than me then.
I pull the suturing gel from the kit and apply it along the length of the cut. "Headache?"
"Yes, but it is easily tolerable."
When he turns to ask a question, I stop him. "Don’t move. This part is critical."
One arched eyebrow rises in disbelief. "The application of suturing glue is critical?"
"I wouldn’t want to accidently adhere the tip of your ear to your temple."
I manage to maintain a serious tone, but Jim, who is lying beside my foot, snorts an abbreviated laugh that turns into a groan of pain.
I look down at him. "Let that be a lesson to you on what happens with you laugh at your doctor’s advice."
"Bones, you are so full of shit," he grunts out, but when I squat to check on him, his breathing is less strained, as are the lines on his face.
"I am, am I? The pain has eased up some, hasn’t it?"
"Yeah, it has," he admits with an exhalation of breath. "Some."
"That’s the best sign that the drugs are working," I assure him, feeling a little relief myself. Now if the Enterprise will just hightail it to our location, I might have more than half a chance of saving his life.
My attention is pulled away when Spock inquires, "Doctor McCoy, I hope you do not feel that I am prying, but is that your personal tablet outside? The one with the young girl on it?"
I look up to see Joanna’s image floating across the windshield of the shuttle. Clearing my throat, I busy myself with an unnecessary inventory of the medical kit.
"Yes, yes it is."
Seeing that I’m not going to say anymore, Spock asks, "Is she a patient of yours? Perhaps a case you are consulting on back on Earth? Or maybe a relative?"
"A relative," I grudgingly admit before attempting to change the subject. "Let’s check that cut and see how the suture glue is setting up."
"It’s his daughter," Jim supplies from his spot on the floor. When I glare down at him, he demands, "What? You’re not ashamed of her, are you?"
"Of course I’m not ashamed of her," I snap. If anything, I was ashamed of myself and the way I had handled the past several years since my divorce.
"Then why do you never speak of her?" Spock asks, genuinely curious. "Or have images of her displayed prominently in your living quarters?"
Not that Spock had spent any real amount of time in my quarters, but he had shown up on occasion to deliver some bit of news that Jim didn’t want picked up by the entire crew. And the observant bastard was right; I had no photos of Joanna in my rooms as others often did of family members or friends.
"It’s complicated," I defend. "Not to mention none of your damn business."
If the typical divorce is messy, mine was the epitome of anarchical chaos, a veritable force of nature ripping asunder the very concept of domestic bliss like a legal tornado leveling a Texas trailer park of a family unit. Did I regret leaving my wife and joining Starfleet? Hell, no. Did I regret that meant also leaving my daughter behind? God, yes. In the end, I knew starting a new life in Starfleet would be the best for everyone involved. My thoughts had been on building a future for myself that would lead to a better future for Joanna. The problem was, Starfleet Academy doesn’t leave a lot of free time for traveling home to visit family, and Joanna’s mother wasn’t keen on bringing her to see me. That left transmitted communications as our only link to one another. I felt like I had watched my daughter grow up on a computer screen. She was a preschooler when her mother and I split up, and now she was ten years old…going on twenty if the last message was any indication. So every message from her was a mixed blessing and curse. Every time I spoke to her, I was simultaneously amazed at what a great kid she was, and embarrassed at what a lousy father I was turning out to be.
Spock, however, isn’t letting this go. "Do you not miss her?"
"What part of none of your damn business are you not understanding? Maybe I did glue your ear down and it’s affecting your hearing."
"Yes, he misses her," Jim provides without being asked. "He’ll only admit it when he’s drunk, though."
The truth was, Jim Kirk probably knew me better than anyone else in Starfleet. Hell, he probably knew me better than anyone else anywhere. I’d met him when I was at rock bottom, the most desperate and hopeless time in my life. Starfleet had been little more than a grasp at one final straw to try to put some semblance of my life back together. Jim had been nearly as messed up as me, and the two of us just proved that old adage about misery loving company since we’d simply clicked. So, sure, I’d opened up to him about the divorce and Joanne. And other than anyone who had read my personnel files, he was probably the only who knew I had a daughter, and he was definitely the only one who knew how I felt about her… until now.
I frown in disbelief that he just said that. "You know, there are some things that are sacred, that are only spoken aloud in the understanding of a mutual confidentiality− a confession to a priest, an admission to a lawyer, a discussion of your health issues with a physician, and a drunken conversation with a friend."
Jim simply rolls his eyes at my ire, while Spock considers it with an academic, "Hmmm."
"What the hell does that mean?" I grump.
"I had always found the human practice of displaying photographs and mementos to remind the owner of loved ones who are far away rather illogical," he explains. "Why would you wish to have constant reminders of the fact they are not here with you? But after my mother’s death, Nyota found an image of her in the archives from a function she and my father attended on behalf of the High Command and suggested I display it in my quarters. I have to admit, that despite my initial reluctance, I have come to find the image…comforting in those times I miss her most."
"Joanna isn’t dead," I point out. "She’s simply back home in Mississippi on Earth."
"One does not have to be dead to be missed," Spock counters.
"He’s right," Jim adds. "What would it hurt to put out one picture of the kid?"
My frown deepens. "For two men who have no children of their own, you sure seem to fancy yourselves experts on parenting."
"You’re right, Bones, I’m not a dad," Jim concedes. "But I know what it’s like to be a kid without one."
He shifts, sucking in a swift breath at the pain the action causes.
I squat beside him again, pressing gently on the area of the damaged liver and Jim cries out. This isn’t a good sign, but I’m not ready to give up hope just yet. I cover my concern with grumpiness.
"You really should learn to keep your mouth shut."
"How about…that sedation…now?"
It’s my turn to be hesitant about sedating him. Unfortunately, his responses and pain level are the best indicators I have as to how his condition is worsening or improving. Finally, I give a reluctant nod.
"I can give you a small dose to take the edge off. Maybe it will even keep you quiet for a while."
"Dr. McCoy," Spock interrupts. "You do not have to worry about me repeating what I’ve heard here. I will hold this in closest confidence."
"You mean like he did?" I snort, once again checking Jim’s pulse rate once I administer the sedative.
Spock tilts his head. "Considering Captain Kirk’s current condition, anything he says should be considered suspect at best. I believe I shall simply dismiss it as the delirious ramblings of an injured man."
"I’d appreciate that if you did, Commander." I shine the flashlight on Jim’s eyes, dismayed by the yellowish tint I see there. The jaundice isn’t unexpected considering what I’ve done with his liver, but I had hoped it would hold off a bit longer.
Standing, I move further toward the front of the shuttle and motion Spock to join me with a hitch of my head. "I’d also appreciate it if you could contact Enterprise and find out how much longer they are going to be before they reach us," I tell him quietly.
"Is his condition worsening?" Spock asks in the same hushed tones.
"He’s not getting any better," I confess. "I just need to know how much I need to stall for time here."
"Communications were damaged during the explosion, but I will do my best to get them back online."
When I nod in understanding, Spock heads to the back of the shuttle to access the control panels. I once again kneel beside my patient.
"How’re you feeling, Jim?"
He blinks through the effects of the sedative, trying to bring me into focus. "Hey, Bones, you’re not really pissed at me, are you?" His voice is slurred, and given the way he smacks his lips as if to better control his mouth, he seems confused as to why.
"Yes, I’m pissed," I grumble. "But I’ll write it off to you being injured…this time."
"I didn’t mean to piss you off," he claims drunkenly. "It’s just that I know. You know?"
"I know," I assure him, not really caring how patronizing I sound.
"I know," he repeats. "I know how it feels to not have a dad when everyone else has one. I know. Okay? I know about loss. I know lots and lots and lots about loss. Shit, I even know what it feels like to lose your whole goddamn planet and most of the people living on it."
At that statement, Spock looks up from his work in the back of the shuttle. "What do you mean, you know how that feels?" The exquisite care with which he enunciates the words makes it clear he’s struggling to remain calm and not take Jim’s statement as an insult.
"I know," Jim states once more, this time his voice soft with sorrow. "The old you showed me."
"Showed you?" Spock asks his question with a sense of dread as he kneels on Jim’s opposite side.
Jim reaches up, places his fingers in the shape of a lopsided triangle around the Vulcan’s eye. "He showed me."
Spock’s eyes widen and he falls backwards out of Jim’s reach. "He…? He showed you? Why? Why would he share a mind meld with you? Why would he share something so…so… painful, so private?"
"Hell if I know," Jim admits with a snort. "Said I’d always been his true friend or some shit like that."
I place a hand on Jim’s chest to try to quiet him. It’s the drugs loosening his tongue, I know it and I’m sure Spock does, as well. Given the way Spock says nothing, simply stares at his captain with a shocked expression, I doubt it makes much difference to the man why he’s saying it at the moment.
"Spock?" I dare to ask. "Are you okay?"
He doesn’t answer my question, but it is enough to have him pushing himself up and toward the back of the shuttle. "I must return to work."
Jim’s eyes follow him as best they can before Spock moves out of sight and he whispers to me, "It hurt like you wouldn’t believe, Bones. It fucking hurt like a son of a bitch to feel it."
I know he isn’t talking about the mind meld itself, but the emotional impact of what the older Spock had shared with him.
With a gentle pat where my hand rests on his sternum, I coax, "Don’t worry about it right now. Try to get some rest."
As if that suggestion was all he was waiting for, Jim’s eyes slide shut, and within a matter of seconds, his breathing deepens.
I look to where Spock is working, his back turned to the two of us. "Spock?" I try once more. Hell if I know why, but it seem like I should at least offer to listen if he wants to talk about what he’s just learned.
"The repairs are underway, Doctor," he assures briskly. "I will let you know when they are completed."
With that dismissal, I sigh and settle in next to Jim while he sleeps. He dozes restlessly, obviously still feeling pain through the sedation, waking occasionally before drifting off once more. I continue to monitor his condition, not improving, but thankfully, not deteriorating too quickly. However, after nearly an hour, the cramped position has my back in knots. When Jim nods off once more, I stand and stretch with a groan. Spock still works in the aft of the shuttle, so I move forward to allow him the space he seems to want.
As I look out the front window, I’m greeted by what seems to be a million stars. I know the explosion has blown us off course; the sun the new Vulcan planet orbits blazes far in the distance in the upper left corner of the windshield. But there is something shining brighter and much closer in my view, and I take a seat to watch my data tablet float just out of reach with Joanna’s message still playing and replaying. The power source will eventually drain, but not for several hours, so I figure I might as well make the most of it and watch for a while. Of course, I can’t hear it− the simple physics of the void of space, not to mention several inches of glass keeping me from retrieving it, have seen to that− but I don’t need to hear it to know exactly what she is saying.
I scrub at my face, barely noticing that Spock has moved up to the front control consoles until he interrupts my thoughts.
"Dr. McCoy, I need access to the pilot’s control station."
Realizing that I took up a spot in Jim’s seat, I stand abruptly. "Oh, sorry."
"I should only be a few moment." He goes to work as soon as I move to the copilot’s seat. "I am rerouting communications through the long range sensors. It will require that I realign the sensor array. Once that is complete, we can attempt to contact Enterprise."
"Good," I say in relief with a glance back at Jim. "That’s very good news."
Spock simply gives one acknowledging nod of his head and continues to work. But as the minutes he works drag on in silence, I find my attention drifting back to my daughter’s image drifting in the void of space.
"She called me dad." I finally say aloud what has been bothering me since I received the message.
Spock turns with a confused frown. "Pardon me, Doctor?"
I wave a hand at the pad outside the window. "Joanna, my daughter, she called me dad in her message. Before this it had always been daddy, but in this one I was dad."
Honestly, I have no idea why I’m telling him this other than I need to tell someone. Seeing as Jim is out for the count, and the bastard would probably blab it to our shuttle mate anyway, I figure Spock may as well hear it from the horse’s mouth. And it may as well be coming from a horse’s mouth for all the comprehension there is in his expression.
"I do not understand the difference," he confesses. "I have always referred to my parents as mother and father."
"Little girls call their fathers daddy." I didn’t think that would necessarily help him understand the significance of the difference, but I sure the hell did.
"Perhaps it is that she is no longer a little girl."
"And that’s the damn problem right there." I shake my head when he stares at me in bewilderment. "Never mind. I wouldn’t expect you to understand what it’s like to miss out..." I sigh again and slump down in my seat as I repeat, "Never mind."
Spock turns back to his work, pauses as if to say something, then finally speaks. "There were times, as a child, when it was difficult to have a human mother. There were those who ridiculed me for my mixed heritage, and I, foolishly, fell prey to their taunting and felt the shame they wrongly imposed on me." He hangs his head before raising it to look me in the eyes. "My mother was a gentle, caring, person. She was also one of the strongest people I have ever known. She withstood a great deal of prejudice on Vulcan for doing nothing more than falling in love and bearing a child. I wish now that I had been as strong as she under the scrutiny she received. If I had been, maybe I would have spent more time with her then, for I shall never have a chance for that time now."
"Your mother sounds like an amazing woman, Spock," I tell him genuinely, surprised that he would be so open with me.
There’s not a smile on his face so much as an overall softening as he seems lost for a moment in memories of her. And since he’s opened up to me about her, I feel compelled to share a little more with him about Joanna.
"She wants to spend a week with me next month while her mom is away." I give a humorless laugh. "I haven’t spent that much time alone with her since before the divorce. I mean, where would we go? What would we do? Not to mention that I have responsibilities on Enterprise. We’ve been out of dock less than a year and I’m already asking for shore leave? I can just see how well that would go over at Starfleet."
Spock raises a disbelieving eyebrow at my excuses, and I know as well as he, that’s exactly what they are. "I have seen Starfleet accommodate family leave requests before. This would not be a first for them." He tilts his head curiously. "Do you fear for your position on Enterprise? Because I am confident Captain Kirk would request that you stay as our CMO if Starfleet attempted to remove you from your current assignment, as would I."
That isn’t a concern I really have but Spock's admission has me raising my own eyebrows. "Really? You would actually set aside your Vulcan pride and beg the brass for me to retain my post?"
"I sincerely doubt begging would be required." He appears to have caught my teasing tone as he continues to work on the controls. "And if it is, I believe our captain would be better suited to that than I."
At his mention, I decide maybe I should try to help Jim out a little bit after his confession regarding his interaction with the older Spock. If in the process it changes the subject away from my daughter, all the better. "You know, about what Jim said earlier regarding the destruction of Vulcan−"
"There is no need to concern yourself with this matter, Doctor McCoy," he dismisses briskly. "I was simply caught off guard by the revelation."
"If Ambassador Spock felt he could trust Jim with that whole mind meld thing, then you should, too. After all, he’s just an older and wiser version of you."
Spock shakes his head. "Do not fool yourself into believing Ambassador Spock and I are the same person. Whereas our DNA may be identical, our backgrounds and experiences are vastly different. We are on divergent paths and have been ever since he crossed into this timeline."
"I don’t know," I consider, "you both chose Starfleet Academy over the Vulcan Science Academy, you’ve both been appointed First Officer on the Enterprise, and you’ve both served under Captain James T. Kirk in that position. Don’t you think you could take that leap and trust him to trust Jim with what he’s seen… hell, felt about the destruction of your home world?"
"Yes, I can." Spock continues to work without looking up. "But it is based upon on my own experiences with the captain, and not those of an alternate version of me from the future."
Admittedly, I’m a little shocked by that, which is probably why I sit and stare at him. When I don’t make comment, Spock’s fingers move across the control panel.
"The realignment is complete," he announces before calling, "Enterprise, this is Shuttle One, do you read me?"
Sulu’s voice answers almost immediately. "Shuttle One, this is Enterprise. We are receiving a distress signal from you vessel and have changed course to intercept. Do you need assistance?"
"Hell, yes, we do," I cut in. "The damn ship blew up and the captain is injured and needs more advanced medical care than I can give him here. How long until you arrive?"
Young Chekov answers. "At our current speed, I calculate we will reach your coordinates in forty-nine minutes."
"Is it possible to increase speed without risking the warp core?" Spock asks.
Scotty’s brogue replies. "I could possibly push another quarter warp out of her, Commander, but any more than that and the shielding won’t hold."
"That will gain less than ten minutes," Spock informs me.
"Right now, every minute counts," I counter. The coughing from behind us has me even more convinced that’s the case.
Jim is curled on the floor and stops coughing long enough to show me the red stain on the hand he pulls from his mouth. "Bones?" he croaks out, panic flashing in his eyes before he starts coughing once more.
I drop to my knees beside him, bracing him as the hacking continues. I wish I had some sort of instrumentation, even an ancient stethoscope would be a godsend right now. Although, I’m fairly certain I know what is happening without it.
"Damn it! The coagulant is spreading through is system," I tell Spock. "He has a clot in his lungs and probably a hell of a lot worse."
"What can we do?" the commander asks calmly.
"Get us the hell back on Enterprise." Because here there isn’t a damn thing I can do.
"Enterprise, can you beam us back?" Spock asks, that ever present composure giving way to a hint of desperation.
"You’re too far away to get a lock onto your life signs," Scotty reports back.
I look back from where Jim is practically curled in my arms, face a deep shade of purple from coughing. "Then lock onto the shuttle and beam the entire damn ship back with us in it!"
Hell, I don’t even know if they can do that. But the expression on Spock’s face leads me to think they can.
"Use the signal from the emergency beacon to override the life signs detector of the transporter," Spock instructs.
Chekov catches on immediately. "And the dimensions of the shuttle to set the parameters for the beam width…"
Realizing they’re actually planning to try this, I turn wide eyes to Spock. "This will work. Right?"
He stands with one hand resting on the pilot’s seat. "In theory, yes."
"In theory?" It’s then that I notice how his hand isn’t resting so much as gripping the seatback. "Oh, Lord."
The last thing I hear before the chimes of the transporter fill my ears is Sulu ordering, "Medical team report to the transporter pad in Cargo Bay Four."
And the last thing I see before the world splinters away into the silver-gray of the transporter beam is the image of Joanna floating just beyond Spock’s head.
* * * * *
It has been one hell of a week.
When we rematerialized in the cargo bay, the Enterprise had been a matter of minutes away from having Spock resume command of the ship on a permanent basis. Fortunately, the medical staff had been monitoring the frequency and knew to show up with the proper counter measures for the coagulants that bought us enough time to get Jim into surgery. His liver had been operating at about ten percent capability by the time we finished up, but that had been enough to allow the regenerative aids to do their work and restore the rest of the organ’s vital functions. It’s a painful process, which was enough to keep Jim a quiet and happily sedated patient for about four days. After that, as his condition continued to improve, boredom started winning out over the need for pain management. So after three days of whining and bemoaning his ability to get out of bed, here we are.
Jim shifts with a small grimace as soon as he takes his seat in the cafeteria. I roll my eyes as I take a bite of my baked potato and he shifts again, this time in discomfiture at my unsympathetic grunt. I would have had him still in the infirmary, but the stubborn bastard convinced me to let him leave if he agreed to limited duty for the next couple of days. So if sitting in a chair in the mess hall is painful, then it’s his own damn fault.
"Bones," he greets, moving gingerly to reach for his spoon.
"Moron," I return, ignoring his frown. He still looks like death eating a soda cracker… or clear broth as the case may be. "You could be lying in bed eating that same bowl of soup, you know. You may recall that I have some amazing painkillers at my disposal, but only for those under my direct care in the sick bay."
"And miss out on such an amicable dinner conversation with you?" He shakes his head with a slight grin. "I don’t think so."
I spread my arms and implore heavenward. "Why do I even bother saving them? Why?"
"So you’ll have someone to share in these pleasant mealtimes with you." Jim waggles eyebrows as he sips delicately from his spoon.
"In other words, you’re saying I’m a masochist, is that it?"
"If the surgical glove fits…" His shrug has him grimacing once more.
I jab my dinner knife in his direction. "That’s what you get for being a wise ass."
Jim’s face is still screwed up as he demands, "Anyone ever tell you you’re bedside manner sucks?"
I turn back to cutting my steak. "You’re not in a bed for me to be beside, so you can’t complain about it here."
"Fine, your table manners suck," he amends.
I lift the napkin from my lap and dab delicately at the corners of my mouth. "My table manners are impeccable. My momma raised me to be a gentleman."
Jim’s grin matches my own as he takes another sip of his soup. At least he’s sticking to the diet I ordered. He glances up when Spock approaches our table. "Mr. Spock, what’s the good word?"
Spock nods a greeting in my direction before addressing Jim. "Shuttle Two just returned to the ship. The medical supplies were delivered to the Vulcan settlement and distributed without incidents."
"Lucky them," I comment around a piece of meat.
"Indeed they were, Doctor, as were the settlers who received the supplies." Spock glances my way before continuing his report. "I have also made the arrangements you requested for our layover on Raiglan Six."
I look up at the mention of the planet known more for its beaches and double sunsets than anything Starfleet should be interested in. "Raiglan Six?"
"Yes," Spock explains, "Ambassador Spock wishes to establish diplomatic contacts with the government there. Apparently there are artifacts of Vulcan origin on the planet that will be discovered one hundred years in our future. However, given the destruction of Vulcan, and the rarity of such relics, the High Command would like them retrieved now to ensure their continued safety."
Jim picked up the story then. "We still have repairs to make on the Enterprise, plus a few other things to take care of before we head for Raiglan Six. But we should arrive there in…how long, Mr. Spock?"
"Thirty-two days, Captain," Spock supplied.
"And we will need to remain there for how long, Commander?" Jim can hardly contain his pleased smirk.
"I would imagine a week at the very least."
"A week?" I glance between the two men who are absolutely failing to look as innocent as they are attempting to. "On a vacation planet? That just happens to coincide perfectly with the dates Joanna was looking to spend time with me."
"Really?" Jim asks in feigned surprise. "I had no idea. What an interesting coincident." He leans forward. "You know, I had planned to allow R and R for the crew while we were there. I see no reason why you couldn’t be one of them."
Spock hands over an electronic tablet with a schedule on the screen. "As you can see, shuttles leave Earth daily destined for Raiglan Six."
"Seeing as we’re going to be there anyway, you might as well make the most of it."
Jim stares at me expectantly, and Spock stands patiently with his hands behind his back.
I hand back the tablet. "I thought I told you two to butt out."
Spock doesn’t take it, only leans across the table and says quietly, "You were correct, Doctor; my mother was amazing. It would be a shame if you could not be as amazing to your daughter, especially when she is giving you the chance to do so."
He straightens, still not taking the pad, and I realize Joanna isn’t the only one giving me the chance I’ve been too chicken shit to take on my own. Hell, they’re practically pushing me off the ship to do it. Jim? I can’t say as I’m all that surprised by him doing something like this, but Spock is another story. As much as I hate to admit it, I actually think I’m starting to like him, and not just because he knows exactly what buttons to push to annoy the living shit out of Jim.
With hands still locked behind his back, Spock nods his goodbyes. "Doctor. Captain."
Spock’s smug tone is echoed in Jim’s reply. "Spock."
I simply wave a hand as I study the schedule on the pad, weighing my options, feel myself swaying one way then the other. With a sigh, I start, "Jim, I…"
"You need her, Bones," Jim stresses. "More than that, she needs you. Trust me on this, I know."
One of the most volatile and dynamic relationships in the universe is the bond between parent and child. It’s also the one that can never be replaced. Sure, there can be memories, but those can fade with time. There can be stories, but those can be distorted by the teller. Sometimes there can even be history books, but those are about the hero who saved thousands with his sacrifice, not the man who never got the chance to hold his newborn son. A fuzzy memory, a slanted story, a lost chance… once it’s gone, it’s gone.
I’m not ready for it be gone just yet.
I stand, the data pad in my hand. "I need to go contact Earth."
"Does that mean I’ll be seeing a request for leave come across my desk soon?"
"I’ll submit it first thing in the morning," I promise.
Jim gives me a smile and casual salute. "Then, you’re dismissed, Dr. McCoy."
"Thank you," I tell him in genuine gratitude.
He shrugs. "Give me some decent pain meds and we’ll call it even."
"I should have known you had ulterior motives." But I hitch my head indicating he should follow me to the infirmary.
"Believe it or not, this whole set up was a purely selfless act." He rests a hand on my shoulder, more to steady himself than a friendly gesture, but I don’t call him on it. I guess I owe him that much at least.
"Like father like son, then."
Jim pauses at the compliment, before starting down the hall once more. "Maybe someday."
George Kirk was one hell of man, an honest to God hero, and Starfleet was lucky to have him even if his son never had the chance. But Jim Kirk is my friend, not to mention a sneaky bastard, and for that, I’m the one lucky as hell to have him, regardless of how volatile and dynamic this friendship may be.
Apparently parents and children haven’t cornered the market on that relationship trait.
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