Spoilers: Eh, vaguely.
Summary: "Great," Kirk says. "In the end, it's not going to be punching someone in the face, or shooting something, or even in some barfight – it's going to be a goddamned diplomatic mission gone wrong that does me in."
Notes: Thanks to liu_xing and chaya for looking it over! :D
"Routine diplomatic mission my ass."
McCoy's eyes flick upwards to meet Kirk's, and he raises an eyebrow before returning to the somewhat more pressing matter of the knife buried in Kirk's shoulder. "I don't know," he says, gingerly applying pressure near the wound. Kirk hisses in pain, and McCoy backs off. "The way all our diplomatic missions have been going, this is beginning to seem routine."
"Yeah, that's great, do you think you can get the knife out of my shoulder now?"
"Actually, no," says McCoy, standing up. Kirk stays seated against one of the walls of the shuttle as McCoy crosses to his medical kit. "Not until we're back on the ship – unless you want to bleed to death, in which case sure, just give me a minute to get everything prepared."
"So it just gets to stay there? Hanging out of my shoulder?"
McCoy pulls out a roll of bandage. "Pretty much, yes."
Kirk closes his eyes briefly and restrains from cursing, no matter how tempting it is. "Spock, how long 'til we're back on the ship?"
Spock pokes his head in from the front section of the shuttle. "That depends, Captain. When the Lysureans fired on us, they hit several of the power generators – we are currently operating at half-capacity. If we dedicate half of what power we have to propulsion and half to signaling the ship - "
"And exactly how many halves does that leave for life support?" McCoy demands.
"I am aware of that," says Spock. "However, the hull of the shuttle is insulated to keep in warmth, and the CO2 scrubbers draw negligible amounts of power – there is no need to disable them."
"There's no other way to divide up the power?" asks Kirk.
"None with any greater or even similar probability of success," says Spock.
"Then do it."
"Yes, Captain." Spock's head disappears back into the forward section of the shuttle, and Kirk's attention is immediately recaptured when McCoy's finger brushes against the hilt of the knife. "Ow!"
"Sorry," mutters McCoy, as he finishes wrapping the bandage around the wound. "All right, as you can tell, if you move it hurts. My professional medical advice, therefore, is try not to move."
"Thanks," says Kirk tightly. "Wouldn't have thought of that one."
"Spock," calls McCoy. "Did the Lysureans get you?"
Spock enters again from the forward section and shakes his head. "No. I must admit, it strikes me as strange that a civilization with interstellar capabilities and photon torpedoes would resort to throwing knives as medium-range weapons." He bends down and picks up one of the knives that missed, examining it closely.
"Maybe they think it's fun," suggests Kirk, trying to hide his heavy breathing. "Like darts. Pin the knife on the starship captain."
"Doctor," says Spock, delicately sniffing the knife. "What does steel usually smell like?"
McCoy raises an eyebrow. "It doesn't."
"Precisely." Spock hands the knife to McCoy, who stares at him. "Smell it," Spock insists, and McCoy rolls his eyes, but does so – and frowns.
"What is that – some kind of fruit?"
"What?" says Kirk.
"Or poison," says Spock. "I think perhaps you had best take that knife out after all, Doctor."
McCoy looks at Kirk, who looks steadily back at him, then at Spock. "Help me get him onto the floor."
They lay him carefully on the shuttle floor, and McCoy pulls out the rest of his supply of bandages, laying them out so they're ready when he needs them.
"Blood loss is going to be the main worry," he says. "I'm not going to be able to give you anything for the pain, Jim – not until I know how it will interact with the poison, which isn't going to be until we're - "
"Back on the ship," Kirk finishes, his voice strained. "Yeah, got it, thanks."
"Right," says McCoy, steeling himself. "Spock, hold down his shoulders. Jim – this is going to hurt like a son of a bitch."
"Got it," Kirk repeats, his jaw clenching. "Do it."
"Okay," says McCoy, and grips the hilt of the knife and pulls.
Kirk yells with pain, but Spock keeps his shoulders down and as soon as the knife is out McCoy replaces it with gauze and more gauze, keeping pressure on the wound.
"Well," says McCoy grimly, "the good news is the knife missed an artery."
"Oh, well, great," says Kirk through gritted teeth. "That's great, Bones."
"You can let go now," McCoy tells Spock, who does. "And Jim – you need to tell me if you start feeling any symptoms that could be caused by the poison. Blood loss might make you dizzy, but if you feel anything else - "
"Like pain?" suggests Kirk.
"No," says McCoy patiently, "the knife caused that."
"Right," says Kirk. "Gotcha."
"I must check the power levels," says Spock. "If you require anything - "
"You'll be five feet away," says McCoy, gathering a suture needle and surgical thread. "I should be fine."
"Gonna stitch me up?" asks Kirk.
"That's the plan," says McCoy.
"You see any anesthetic?" asks McCoy. "If it makes you feel any better, it won't hurt worse than anything that's already happened to you."
"Somehow that's not very comforting," says Kirk, wincing as McCoy begins to stitch.
He's just finished when Spock enters again. "Doctor," he says, "if I could have a moment?"
McCoy glances at Kirk, who nods at him.
"Yeah, coming," says McCoy, standing up. Spock leads him into the front section, and speaks to him in a lowered voice.
"What is the Captain's condition?"
McCoy shrugs. "Couldn't say. I'll need to see how long it takes for the bleeding to stop - if it stops, since it's entirely possible that the knife was laced with an anticoagulant, in which case we're in trouble. The poison's another factor that we just don't know enough about yet. He could have hours, he could have days, or he could be just fine."
Spock looked displeased at this answer. "Doctor, I must also tell you that Vulcan physiologies were not built for the cold. Our planet is - was - a good deal hotter than Earth. The temperature is dropping more rapidly than I anticipated, and though it is unlikely to reach cold enough temperatures to severely affect you and the Captain - "
"I might have two patients on my hands," finishes McCoy. Spock considers this, then nods. McCoy takes a deep breath, then lets it out. "Well," he says. "No rest for the wicked. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. How long until the Enterprise picks up on our distress signal?"
"They should be within range in under an hour," says Spock. "After that, it will likely be another hour before they are within range to beam."
"And how fast is the temperature dropping?" asks McCoy.
Spock doesn't immediately answer, and they're interrupted by a weak call of "Bones?"
Spock and McCoy trade a glance, then return to the main portion of the shuttle, where Kirk is attempting to sit up.
"For God's sake, man, stay down!" McCoy hisses, putting a hand on Kirk's good shoulder and pushing him back down as gently as he can.
"It doesn't hurt any more," says Kirk, still struggling.
"That's nice," says McCoy absently, "now stay down."
"No, it - I can't even feel it," says Kirk, "it's just numb."
McCoy looks at him, then gently applies pressure to the wound. Kirk doesn't even wince.
"Well, now we have a symptom," says McCoy, sitting back on his heels. "And you're still bleeding."
"And is it warm in here to anybody else, or is it just me?" Kirk adds. McCoy lays a hand on his forehead.
"Make that two symptoms."
"Do I have to stay on the floor? It feels weird being on the floor."
"Yes, Jim, you have to stay on the floor, because if you don't stay on the floor you'll bleed out and die and on your tombstone it's going to read, 'Here lies James Tiberius Kirk - '"
"Don't put 'Tiberius' on my tombstone," Kirk interjects, looking deeply offended.
" - 'James Tiberius Kirk, murdered by knife-throwing Lysurean ninjas on a routine diplomatic mission.' How does that sound, Jim?"
"Take out the Tiberius and it sounds fine," Kirk retorts blurrily. "There are worse ways to go than ninjas."
"There are better ways to go," McCoy disagrees, "like not at all."
"Fascinating," mutters Spock, watching the interplay between them.
McCoy points at him. "Don't you start," he warns.
Kirk frowns, and his eyes stray to the viewscreen beyond McCoy, showing an array of stars, then back to McCoy. "You doing okay?" he asks, quiet and concerned.
"I'm doing my job, but thanks for reminding me that we're mere inches of steel away from dying a horrible, lonely death by cold vacuum," McCoy snaps. He catches Spock's questioning look, and sighs. "Aviophobia. It's fine."
"And you joined Starfleet?" asks Spock, one eyebrow lifting.
"Didn't have a lot of options," says McCoy, before pointedly turning back to Kirk. He raises his hand and holds up three fingers. "How many fingers am I holding up?"
"Three, but they're very condescending."
"Well, your wit clearly isn't impaired. What there is of it." McCoy puts two fingers on Kirk's neck pulse, which makes Kirk sigh, but he accepts with surprising patience. "Are you feeling any other symptoms?"
"Afraid I'll make good on that promise to throw up on you?"
"Yes," says McCoy flatly, and Kirk grins.
"Not really. Except – okay, is the shuttle falling or is it just me?"
"If the shuttle were falling we would not be able to feel it, due to the inertial dampeners," says Spock.
"So it's just you," translates McCoy. "When's the last time you had something to drink?"
Kirk frowns. "The reception?"
"The one that ended with a knife in your shoulder?" McCoy doesn't wait for an answer, and turns to Spock. "There should be a juice packet in the emergency medkit over there."
Spock nods, and a few seconds later passes the packet to McCoy, who pushes the attached plastic straw through the surface and holds it to Kirk's lips. "Drink."
Kirk sips, and makes a face. "That's just foul."
"It's also got electrolytes. Now, drink."
Kirk finishes it, his glare making it entirely evident the whole time that he is under duress. When he's done, he grimaces. "That stuff should be outlawed."
"I'll remind you you said that while you're not dying of dehydration," says McCoy. "Feel better?"
"Not really," Kirk admits. "Shuttle's still spinning. On the other hand, you haven't jabbed anything into my neck yet, so I figure that's probably a good sign. Did I ever tell you to go to Hell for that, by the way?"
"It got you on board the Enterprise," says McCoy dismissively. Spock raises an eyebrow at him. "It's how I got Jim on board the first time, when he wasn't supposed to be on there," he explains. "Gave him the vaccine for viral infection by the - "
"Made my hands swell up like balloons," Kirk reminisces. "My tongue went numb and I couldn't talk."
"Those were the days," McCoy mutters.
Kirk shifts uncomfortably. "Uh. Is there a bucket or something?"
McCoy's attention is immediately back on him. "Nausea?"
Kirk smiles tightly, mouth closed – more of a grimace. "Understatement."
McCoy turns to Spock. "There should be a biohazard bag somewhere - "
"Understood," says Spock instantly, and begins searching the shuttle.
"Sooner is better," McCoy says warningly.
"Maybe the juice was a bad idea," says Kirk, clenching his fists.
"There's no way your system could have had enough time to react - "
"Doesn't mean you're not going to be seeing it again in a couple seconds."
"Would you let me finish a goddamn sentence?" demands McCoy.
"I have the biohazard bag," announces Spock, handing it to Kirk.
"Oh, thank God," mutters Kirk, immediately trying to sit up.
"Just because you can't feel it doesn't mean you still don't have a stab wound in your shoulder," snaps McCoy, surging forward. "Try to be careful."
He helps Kirk sit up, and a few drops of blood run down Kirk's shirt. Kirk doesn't see them; he's too busy trying to get his head as close to between his knees as he can.
"And there is still nothing you can do?" asks Spock, watching Kirk – his eyes are squeezed shut, and he's beginning to sweat.
"Not without risking an adverse reaction, and he can already tell you all about those. From there, trying to make it better could just make it worse."
They spend a few tense minutes like that, but Kirk eventually puts the bag down. "Okay," he says. "Okay, I think I'm good."
McCoy helps him lie back again, and can't help but notice that he's trembling.
"God, it's hot in here," mutters Kirk, throwing his good arm over his eyes. McCoy glances over at Spock, who is sitting down now, curled over on himself and arms crossed over his chest. Even McCoy is beginning to feel the cold.
"Any other symptoms?" McCoy asks quietly.
Kirk shakes his head restlessly. "No. I mean, yeah – it's getting hard to think. Like the first time you get sick as a kid."
"I was not aware that thinking was an activity you engaged in on a regular basis," says Spock, and Kirk exhales a stuttering laugh.
Spock raises an eyebrow. "I did not intend that as a joke."
Kirk gives him an unsteady smile. "Keep saying things like that and I might even start believing you."
Spock leaves his eyebrows raised, but McCoy can't help but notice that he drops the subject. He also can't help but notice that Kirk keeps clenching and unclenching his fist, on the same side as the stab wound.
"Your hand okay?" he asks, motioning with his chin.
Kirk looks down at his arm, almost surprised. "Whoa. Weird. Pins and needles."
"The numbness is spreading," says McCoy.
"Is that bad?"
McCoy turns around to say that yes, shockingly, numbness spreading from the poisoned stab wound is bad, when he sees the look on Kirk's face. He's blinking slowly and heavily, his face pale and sheened unevenly with sweat; his eyes aren't quite focusing properly, and McCoy's usually only seen that look after an all-nighter of studying or at the tail end of a particularly long night of drunken carousing, although the two are not mutually exclusive.
McCoy has seen neither since Jim took command of the Enterprise – something about that ship brings out the maternal side of him, and these days every time McCoy offers him a drink he declines, saying he's on-duty even when he's not. The ship's made an honest man of him, something McCoy would have guessed impossible. The new Jim Kirk doesn't drink or party or leave all the differential equations problem sets until the last minute, even if the devil-may-care attitude remains, and the new Jim Kirk especially doesn't look as if Hell chewed him up and spit him back out again.
This Jim Kirk does.
McCoy glances over one shoulder, and sees that Spock is frowning – if McCoy didn't know him better, he'd say in concern.
McCoy turns back to Kirk. "Yeah," he says finally. "Yeah, it's bad."
Kirk closes his eyes and lets his head fall back hard against the floor. "Great," he says. "In the end, it's not going to be punching someone in the face, or shooting something, or even in some barfight – it's going to be a goddamned diplomatic mission gone wrong that does me in."
"You're not going to die," says McCoy.
"My mom never wanted me to join Starfleet," says Kirk, clearly not listening. "She was terrified I'd die in space, like Dad, and I never listened - "
"Jim," says McCoy. "Jim, you're not going to die. You know why? Because I haven't lost a single person on our goddamned ship since we got her, and you're not going to break my record, you bastard, you hear?"
"And who the hell thought it was a good idea to assign me a diplomatic mission anyway? I mean, seriously."
"Jim," repeats McCoy. "If you die, you know who's going to be in charge?" He jabs a thumb towards Spock. "That pointy-eared bastard. And then I'm going to have to kill myself, Jim, and it's going to be all your fault."
"Least wish I could've died on the ship..." mutters Kirk, as his eyes close. McCoy tenses, and immediately checks for a pulse; he sighs in relief when he finds it.
"Just unconscious," he tells Spock, who is still hunched over himself but still has the energy to raise an eyebrow.
"'Pointy-eared bastard'?" he repeats.
"Had to do something to try to keep him awake, not that it was any use," says McCoy, rubbing his hands together. The shuttle feels emptier now, somehow, and colder.
Spock stands up, and McCoy ignores him, instead choosing to examine Kirk's wound. He's double-checking the stitches when a thick thermal blanket falls over his shoulders; he turns to see Spock wearing another one.
"There is a third," says Spock, "but if the Captain is already feverish - "
McCoy nods, and pulls the blanket tighter around him. "Yeah, not much use, but good thinking. I forgot we had these." Spock doesn't say anything, but sits back down, this time on the floor next to Kirk, his back against the seats. "I didn't ask – are we going to get a transmission from the Enterprise first, or just - "
"All of our power is being used for propulsion and emission of the signal," says Spock. "We are unable to receive transmissions."
"Right," says McCoy.
There's another long, awkward silence. Eventually, Spock breaks it.
"He spoke of his mother."
"What?" says McCoy, frowning.
"Captain Kirk. He spoke of his mother. I had not realized - " Spock stops, and reconsiders his wording. "It did not register for me, except in the abstract, the way that his father died."
McCoy looks away. "After the stunt you pulled in the Academy, I kind of figured."
McCoy nods. "You were kind of an asshole, if you'll forgive me saying it."
Spock doesn't look particularly offended. "You are hardly the first to inform me of that." After a pause, he continues. "I admit, at first I was...skeptical of the Captain's abilities, even after – all that occurred."
"As I recall, you're the one who showed up on his doorstep and volunteered to be second-in-command," says McCoy, raising an eyebrow of his own. "You even said something about character references."
"I confess that I doubted Admiral Pike's decision," Spock admits.
"You were hardly alone," says McCoy. "Half the Admiralty thought he'd lost his nut."
Spock hesitates at the idiom. " - indeed. Part of me believed that the Captain's performance had to be a random series of coincidences - "
" - luck - " translates McCoy.
" - and in that event I wished to ensure that there was somebody aboard the Enterprise with the competency to manage any situation that could arise. And part of me," says Spock, looking faintly surprised even as he says it, "believed that it was not an accident, and if that were the case, then Captain Kirk was certainly the sort of captain I would be honored to work beside."
"That doesn't sound very logical," McCoy points out.
"It is," Spock disagrees. "Either Captain Kirk was competent or not; in either case, I would wish to be aboard."
"So is he competent?"
Spock glances over at Kirk. "Not at the moment. But in general...yes. I believe he is." He turns his gaze to McCoy. "Why did you join Starfleet if you have a fear of flying?"
"Are you changing the subject?"
"I am attempting to engage in conversation," Spock says. "As we have nothing else to do, I thought I would ask."
"Right," says McCoy, turning around and resting his own back against the seats behind him, still keeping Kirk within his line of sight. He looks at Spock for a second, then decides that by now he's earned it. "Well, my wife and I got divorced and I thought a change of pace would be helpful."
"I did not realize you were married," says Spock quietly.
"For seven years. Even have a daughter, Joanna – but she's back on Earth, with her mom."
"It is – surprising," Spock says. "With very few exceptions, Vulcans mate for life. Seeing societies that function otherwise is...disconcerting."
"You're being very personal," McCoy notes.
Spock is quiet for a moment, and then says, softly, "It is possible the temperature is beginning to impede my judgement."
McCoy stares at him, then stands up, pulls the blanket off his shoulders, and rests it over Spock's. "You need it more than I do," he says, going back to his seat.
He expects Spock to protest – there are two blankets, two people, and one logical distribution – but Spock just curls in on himself tighter, pulling the blankets around him. "Thank you," he says.
And if there's anything more unnerving than a vulnerable Kirk, it's a vulnerable Spock. McCoy decides that a change of subject is in order, and quickly. "Why did you join Starfleet?" he asks. "I heard you were offered a position in the Vulcan Academy of Science."
Spock considers. "I was," he says finally, after a long pause. "I declined." He hesitates again, then adds, "An action which I now realize likely saved my life."
McCoy thinks of Vulcan, collapsing in on itself, and shudders. "That's just creepy."
Spock nods. "Yes."
"Still haven't answered my question, though," says McCoy. "Vulcan Academy of Science, not exactly something you just turn down on a whim."
Spock frowns, minutely, and draws the blankets closer around himself. "And yet – that is almost what it was," he says. "I was going to accept the post, and..."
"And?" prompts McCoy.
"The Minister of Science congratulated me on succeeding despite my..." His nose wrinkles in distaste, just the tiniest amount. "Disadvantage. Of being half-human," he adds, to clarify upon McCoy's frown.
"And so you declined," says McCoy, a glint of approval in his eye.
"You told them to go screw themselves," adds a hoarse voice. McCoy and Spock look over to see Kirk awake again, or mostly so, his eyes still half-lidded and glazed with fever.
"I thanked them for their consideration," Spock corrects gently. "How are you feeling?"
"Like shit," says Kirk. "Why've you got a blanket?"
"Because it is cold," says Spock.
"Doesn't feel cold," slurs Kirk.
"You've got a fever," says McCoy. "So the poison's actually helping you there."
"Well, hooray," says Kirk. "You've got a blanket – two blankets - and you're - " he pauses for a moment to grapple with a word of several syllables – "divulging personal information. What's wrong?"
"It is cold," Spock repeats. "Besides, there is very little to do in here until the Enterprise arrives than to share personal anecdotes. I believe it is an old Earth tradition. In any case, you are injured, feverish, suffering from blood loss and poisoning, and very possibly delirious - I hardly think you are in any condition to ascertain my mental state."
"Did you ever take the Kobayashi Maru?" Kirk demands suddenly.
Spock blinks several times, and looks over at McCoy, who shrugs, enjoying this. "I - no. I administered the exam for several years and participated in the role as Science Officer when necessary, but the exam is only required for officers who wish to be eligible for permanent command positions. I have no interest in command."
"I think you'd pass," says Kirk definitively. "Well, fail, but in the way that means you pass."
"I am going to choose to take that as a compliment," says Spock. His speech is slower now, McCoy notices – he says each word carefully, and McCoy suddenly thinks of Joanna, enunciating each syllable to get the words out right after having a cone of particularly cold ice cream.
"Your eyebrows are the coolest thing I have ever seen in my whole freaking life," Kirk says seriously, and McCoy considers writing it down so he can have the exact wording to throw back in his face later on.
"I will be certain to tell hundreds of millions of years of evolution that you approve of their eyebrow-trait selection processes," Spock informs him.
Kirk turns to McCoy, even though his eyelids are already drooping again. "You should remember that," he says. "For Vulcans, 'sarcasm' doesn't count as an emotion."
"Sarcasm is a rhetorical technique," Spock says, but Kirk is already unconscious again. Spock instead looks back to McCoy. "Sarcasm is a rhetorical - "
"So I gathered," says McCoy, checking his watch. Almost an hour left. "Maybe you should get some rest, too."
"I have been told that in situations risking hypothermia, sleep should be avoided," Spock says, and he's clearly struggling with talking at this point.
"That's because if you're asleep, you can't go someplace warmer," says McCoy. "At this point, there's nowhere warmer to go until the ship gets here."
Spock looks at him for a moment, clearly torn, or as torn as a Vulcan can be. McCoy adds, "Hell, I might catch a few winks myself. Not like we've got anything better to do."
Spock nods slowly. His eyes are already drifting shut when he murmurs, "Your daughter. How old is she?"
McCoy doesn't answer right away. "Almost seven," he says finally. "I went to visit her, when we had time off at the Academy. I almost wanted to bring her up with me, but – a ship's no place for a kid. 'Sides, she's too old – against regulations." He looks over at Spock when he doesn't get a reply, but Spock's already asleep.
McCoy sighs, and stands back up. He walks over to Spock's side and carefully lays one of his hands over Spock's, wincing when he feels how cold it is. "Well," McCoy mutters, "you'll probably thank me for this later."
He carefully pulls aside the blankets on Spock's right side, sitting down next to him and closing the blankets around them both. He can tell by the temperature that the blankets weren't doing much good, and he isn't surprised – they were only designed to keep in warmth, and what Spock clearly needs is another source of heat. McCoy at least draws the line at taking his clothes off, but Spock doesn't even twitch at the close proximity, which isn't a good sign.
"Hopefully we'll live to be horribly embarrassed about this," McCoy says to no one in particular, shuffling himself closer to Spock.
He loses track of time, and – apparently – consciousness, because the next thing he knows he's somewhere warm and comfortable.
He forces his eyes open to see Nurse Chapel standing above him, but less above him than she should be – he glances around, and realizes that he's in sickbay. "What - " he begins, and tries to sit up, but his arms have other ideas and apparently the strength of overcooked noodles. "What happened?"
Nurse Chapel smiles at him. "Welcome back, Doctor McCoy. The Enterprise got your signal, and we came as soon as we could."
"Jim?" asks McCoy. "Spock?"
"They're both fine," says Nurse Chapel. McCoy steadies himself and actually manages to sit up this time; from this position he can see Kirk in the next bed over, and Spock in the bed on his far side, both wrapped in heating blankets. Both look much better than they did the last time McCoy saw them – Kirk has more color in his face despite the thick bandaging around his shoulder, and Spock just looks flat-out adorable with the blanket tucked up to his chin.
"Who treated them?" McCoy asks.
"That would be me," Nurse Chapel says, smiling faintly. "The three of you were suffering from mild hypoxia - "
"Hypoxia?" demands McCoy.
"The CO2 scrubbers were malfunctioning," says Nurse Chapel. "You can ask Commander Scott for the details, but I gather there was a short that - "
"Don't tell me," says McCoy darkly. "I don't want to know. And Jim?"
"Blood loss and trauma around the wound, obviously, but tests also found isylcholine in his system, which was easily treatable. Commander Spock is just getting warm blankets until he wakes up, at which point he will be free to leave, same as you are."
McCoy carefully maneuvers himself so his feet touch the ground, and risks standing up; the room spins minimally, and he decides to consider it a success.
"I have to say," says Nurse Chapel, looking over at Kirk, "our captain is pretty jeopardy-friendly, isn't he?"
"Seeing as he got this job by goading everyone's favorite Vulcan science officer into throttling him on the bridge, I'd say that's a bit of an understatement," says McCoy, looking over Spock's chart. "Everything looks normal enough..."
"At this point, I just think he's exhausted," says Nurse Chapel, looking at the sleeping Vulcan with something approaching affection. McCoy considers asking her if she's the one who tucked him in and kissed him goodnight, but decides to opt for tact just this once and bites his tongue.
"Looking at him now, you'd hardly realize what a bastard he is," says McCoy fondly. He goes around Spock's bed to check Kirk's readings, and catches sight of the time. "It's nearly halfway through gamma shift – shouldn't you be off-duty by now, Christine?"
"I should be," Nurse Chapel agrees, "but then our head of medicine went on a diplomatic mission and ended up stranded in a shuttle for God knows how long, leaving me with seniority."
"How dare he," says McCoy. "Well then, Nurse Chapel, I relieve you."
"Thank God," says Nurse Chapel. "If you need me, sir, find someone else."
"Will do." McCoy pulls over one of the hard plastic chairs for visitors, and settles himself between Spock and Kirk's beds, kicking his feet up and resting them on the edge of Kirk's.
Nurse Chapel hesitates at the door to sickbay. "Do you want me to call Ayala in? He's the reserve medic for this shift."
McCoy looks at Spock, still sleeping, and Kirk, with his bandaged shoulder still exposed. "No," he says eventually. "I've got them."