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Star Trek reboot fic: A Captain's Job (1/1)

December 23rd, 2013 (03:09 pm)
hopeful
Tags: , ,

feeling: hopeful

Title: A Captain’s Job

Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek in any iteration.

A/N: For sockie1000. I hope the holidays give you a chance to relax -- you certainly deserve it! Beta by lena7142.

Summary: Bones did his part. Now it’s time to do his.



-o-

Jim stares, feeling the blood drain out of his face. He shakes his head. “I can’t do this.”

McCoy scowls. “You’re the captain of a damn starship,” he hisses. “You’ve dragged us all around the galaxy and nearly gotten us killed on a biweekly basis. And this is what you can’t do?”

Jim’s mouth falls open, and he searches for the words. “I’m a captain, Bones,” he says, shrugging helplessly.

“And I’m a doctor,” McCoy all but curses. “And I know if you don’t get your captain ass over here right now, I’m going to bleed to death.”

Jim blinks, barely suppressing a shudder. Because there’s blood. There’s a lot of blood. It’s all over McCoy’s side, smeared across his hands and staining the ground.

Bones is bleeding out.

Stranded on a planet without any communication with the Enterprise.

No supplies, no help. Just a bleeding doctor and a captain who is in over his head.

Bones is going to die here, and it’s Jim’s fault. He’s the one who insisted they come down to the planet. He’s the one who thought the gap in the atmospheric storms would hold. He’s the one who pissed off the local inhabitants. He’s the one who brought a doctor to a knife fight -- and then let that doctor get stabbed in the side.

He’s the one.

The responsibility is his.

It’s terrifying and paralyzing.

But that’s not who Jim is. He’s not a doctor, but he’s the captain of the damn Starship Enterprise.

He nods, sucking in a solidifying breath. “Okay,” he says. “Tell me what to do.”

-o-

On his knees next to Bones, Jim wants to question his decision here. McCoy is pale, and growing paler by the second. His nimble fingers are pressed against the wound, coated in blood as he makes a taut face of disdain. He’s breathing heavily, sweat starting to collect on his forehead as he grits his teeth to look down.

“Okay,” McCoy says. “You’re going to have to rip the shirt away.”

Jim’s not exactly squeamish, but it’s no easy task being asked of him. This is McCoy’s blood. His friend. And it’s going to be quite literally on Jim’s hands.

Which is why there’s really no decision to question at all. What’s done is done. Jim can’t change the past; he can only change the future.

He has to hope.

Tentative, he reaches down. “Is it going to hurt?”

McCoy glowers at him, all but fuming now. “Of course it’s going to hurt!” he says. “I’ve got a gash in my side! Do you think it’s going to feel nice?”

“Okay, okay!” Jim says, taking the soiled fabric and starting to rip. It’s hard at first, and McCoy bites back a whimper.

“Damn it, man--”

Jim bears down and rips harder, pulling the fabric asunder until the wound is well exposed in the daylight.

And Jim’s stomach turns again.

Bones, though, is craning his neck, looking down. “Okay,” he says between low, panting breaths. “It’s wide but not too deep. I don’t think it hit anything vital, which is the good news.”

Jim grimaces. “Then what’s the bad news?”

Bones looks up at him. “The bad news is that at the rate I’m losing blood, I’ll be unconscious in minutes,” he says. “In another fifteen, I’ll be dead.”

Jim curses, feeling himself start to panic even more.

“But only if you let it happen,” McCoy says tersely, cutting off his thoughts.

Looking at the doctor, Jim dares to hope.

“You’re going to have to repair the damage,” he says, breathing heavier now. His blinks, his eyes starting to look glazed even as he forces himself to keep talking. “We won’t be able to do much about the blood loss until we get back to the Enterprise--”

He cuts off, gasping in pain and curling in on himself. His fingers curl into fists and he groans, squeezing his eyes shut in what appears to be desperate.

Jim swears again. “Bones?” he says, reaching about to afraid to touch. “Come on, Bones. Don’t do this to me. Not now.”

McCoy unfurls slightly, his face almost ashen now. He opens muddled eyes and glares. “You’re a egocentric jerk,” he mutters. “I get stabbed; it’s still all about you.”

At that, Jim manages a grin even as unbidden tears burn in his eyes. “Some of us just have that hero’s appeal.”

McCoy grunts. “Then you better start doing some saving, hero,” he murmurs.

Jim sobers, nodding readily. “Okay,” he says. “What now?”

-o-

It takes difficult, precious moments to find McCoy’s medical kit, and even longer than that for the doctor to painfully lecture Jim on the right tools. His numb fingers don’t know what to do with the unfamiliar equipment, and he starts to wish that he hadn’t skipped so many of the first aid courses at the Academy.

That way, he might actually know how to use a hypospray.

But as he faces McCoy’s wound again, he’s pretty sure a few first aid courses wouldn’t have helped much.

“You want me to what?” he asks, trying to ignore the tremor in his voice.

McCoy is panting now, each breath sounding labored. “You have to put the spray in its secondary setting,” he says. “Instead of an injection, it can be used as a sterilizer.”

Jim frowns, looking over the foreign buttons.

“Just press the button!” McCoy almost yells. “Setting B2!”

Jim fumbles, but gets it set. “Okay,” he says, looking down at the wound. He hesitates.

“Hold it a few inches from the wound and point,” McCoy heaves. “It’ll take a few moments...but make sure you get the scan over the entire wound.”

Jim wets his lips, and wants to hesitate again. But McCoy is fading -- too fast now -- and if there’s a time to second guess, this isn’t it.

He presses the button, and the small machine vibrates, emitting a small, red light which Jim directs over the wound. He’s not sure how long to leave it in place, so he traces it slowly up and down the length of the wound, still going when McCoy’s hand falls on his.

Startled, Jim looks up.

McCoy looks back, nodding gravely. “Good,” he says. “Now you’ll want to get the auto-bandage.”

“The--”

“Auto-bandage,” McCoy says. “It provides pressure to stop the bleeding while simultaneously injecting the area with antiseptic solution.”

“That sounds kind of complicated--” Jim ventures.

“It’s designed for field use,” Bones snaps. “Means that even idiots are supposed to use it correctly with no training involved.”

“Are you calling me an idiot?” Jim asks.

“Depends if you let me die or not,” McCoy says.

Jim swallows, looking away as he rummages through the bag. He finds the bandage, ripping open the package. It looks somewhat familiar, and at least this much is intuitive. Bones is right: even an idiot can do it.

Gritting his teeth, he moves his hand down, hastily pressing the bandage down to the marred skin. Just like that, the bandage starts to work, expanding and molding to the injury, covering it promptly with a hiss.

“Okay,” he says, looking at Bones again. “Bandage on. What now?”

McCoy seems to exhale, his body relaxing against the greenery for the first time since his injury. His eyelids are drooping, and he nods tiredly. “Now it’s your turn,” he says groggily. “My job here is done.”

Jim sits back on his heels, watching as McCoy drifts off, his body slackening as he starts to give up the fight.

Bones did his part.

Jim looks up toward the sky.

Now it’s time to do his.

-o-

The atmospheric conditions of this planet are strange, which is why Jim had wanted to come here in the first place. The unusual activity served as a natural deflector shield. Jim had been keen to see if that had any possible applications for improving their own technology. Spock had yielded that the possibility did exist, and Jim had proposed a mission.

The first problem had been that the conditions themselves prevent monitoring the conditions. Spock insisted that they’d need to go to the surface to take any readings worth getting.

Which had led to the second problem. Scotty had been reluctant due to the activity in the atmosphere to send a party down. A shuttle would be dangerous, and a transporter would be hit or miss. But Spock had charted the storm patterns and identified a clear break that he thought would last for several hours.

It was a risk, but a pretty good one.

Spock had wanted to go down, but Jim wasn’t about to risk more people than necessary. The first mission would be small, just him and a medical officer -- just in case.

McCoy had grumbled, but assented.

Spock had tried to talk his way into going, but this was Jim’s ship.

It was his call.

He was going.

And Bones would be his backup. After all, what better help than a doctor in case something went south?

He hadn’t counted on Bones getting hurt and the storm gathering too soon.

It’s not like Jim isn’t used to things going from bad to worse. But he can usually handle it.

Looking down at McCoy’s unconscious form, now would be a hell of a time for that to change.

-o-

Jim isn’t a doctor. He’s not an engineer and he’s not a science officer. He’s not a linguist or a navigator.

He’s a captain.

He’s not an expert at any one thing, but he’s damn good under pressure. He knows how to make decisions that matter. He knows how to manipulate a situation to his advantage.

He knows how to win.

He won’t think about his failures -- he won’t think about his father dying to save his life, he won’t think about Pike dying trying to salvage his career -- but he will think about his success.

He won’t think about anything else.

He’s getting McCoy out of here.

Now.

-o-

Decided, he leans over and checks the doctor. The bleeding has slowed with the bandage, but the man is still pale and his pulse is thready. From what Bones said, the bandage will prevent further deterioration but his condition is still precarious. It could be hours before the storm clears.

Bones needs help now.

Chewing his lip, Jim considers his options. There’s no pattern to the storm systems, and they appear to be naturally occurring. The inhabitants of the planet are primitive, which would partially explain the lack of readings. It’s not just that the atmosphere serves as a dampening field; the natives don’t have anything to detect.

Which means it’s possible that a strong enough signal would do the trick.

Curious, Jim pulls out his communicator. He opens it, and it blinks at him -- showing no signal. Frowning, he cracks the back and tinkers a little bit. If Scotty were here, he could probably jury-rig something stronger but Jim just doesn’t have the expertise. He bypasses a few systems but it doesn’t do much. He gets a crackle of feedback before everything goes silent again.

It is something, though.

Jim looks at Bones.

He looks at the landscape. They’re at the edge of a forest, using the trees as cover. While this is an effective way to protect themselves, it may also be hindering their signal.

Jim looks up, past the field to the hills.

They’re not much to look at but they are higher -- more important, they are unobscured. From there, the Enterprise might be within reach. They could even get a transporter signal in.

It’s a risk, of course. There’s no telling if there are natives nearby.

Jim looks at Bones.

It’s a risk he’s willing to take.

-o-

There’s no way around it. If Jim is moving to higher ground, McCoy is coming with him. And despite all the advances in technology over the millennia, there’s still no graceful way to haul someone from one spot to another. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, but as Jim gathers McCoy’s lax body up and over his shoulder, he knows it’s the only way.

He can’t fix Bones down here on a primitive planet with no doctor.

At least, not a conscious one.

That could be a death sentence, and Jim’s not about to accept that.

Grunting as he adjusts his grip, Jim tries not to notice the wetness of blood against his shoulders. Instead, he grimaces, turning his gaze outward and up.

So he’ll just have to get his doctor back to the ship.

-o-

He keeps along the edge of the woods as long as he can before he skirts along the edge of the tall meadow grasses. It’s a little scenic, but Jim still remembers how the last ambush had started. He’d rather not have a repeat performance.

Given that they haven’t attacked again, Jim figures they’re probably mostly acting out of a need to defend themselves, afraid of two strangers. Jim’s not even going to think about the Prime Directive here. Beaming down had been the best way to minimize their interference -- it’s a little hard to hide a shuttle -- but there’d been no way to know without coming down first.

Hell, Spock had suspected the place was uninhabited or Jim might not have approved the mission at all.

Not that any of that matters now. Jim will sort out the ethics when he gets back to the ship.

After he saves his doctor’s life.

The weight is heavy across his shoulders, and his back starts to ache. Jim presses on, taking a turn across the meadow toward the base of the closest hill. It won’t be easy to climb with McCoy on his back, but Jim’s not really one for doing things the easy way.

He’s all about results.

Success.

And he’s close enough, he can almost feel it.

Which is when the spear comes flying out of the grass -- aimed straight at his chest.

-o-

It’s coming fast, but not quite that fast. Jim lunges, flinging himself forward toward the ground as he ducks. With his rapid shift in momentum, there’s not much he can do to soften the fall and he winces as he hits the ground, McCoy’s unmoving form falling half on top of him.

His ears are ringing, but he can hear the whooping of an impending attack. It’s all he can manage to maneuver his way out from under Bones, and there’s no time to check the other man’s condition as he comes to his feet and pulls out his phaser.

It’s not a good choice, and he knows it. He’s violating protocols here, possibly messing up the advancement of a pre-warp culture. He’d just come down here to observe, but now he’s stunning people left and right.

But what choice does he have? He didn’t come to fight, he came to explore, and it’s not his fault that the planet has a natural dampening field that clouded their scans. Spock had said it was uninhabited. A 95 percent probability.

Jim shoots and fires -- one, two, three.

And his attackers go down.

He’s going to have to lecture Spock on his damn probabilities.

Right after he gets the hell out of here.

Breathing heavily, he waits a moment but none of his attackers seem to be getting up again. There’s no other sound but the quiet wind over the grass, and Jim doesn’t feel at ease but it’s close enough.

Throat tight, he turns back to Bones, who is still lying, discarded on the grass. He scrambles closer, rolling the man onto his back, looking frantically down at the bandage.

It’s still holding, but the saturation bar is nearly full. It needs to be changed soon.

Then, to Jim’s surprise, Bones stirs.

Eyes wide, Jim looks at his friend. “Bones?” he asks, feeling hopeful. “You back with me?”

McCoy’s brow furrows, and he mumbles something unintelligible. He’s clearly not happy, and when his eyes finally crack open, he hisses in obvious pain.

“Bones?” Jim tries again, jostling him a bit.

McCoy groans. “And people say I have a bad bedside manner.”

“Well, you do,” Jim says. “You scowl at everyone.”

Bones wrinkles his nose, squinting as he looks up at Jim. “I do not.”

“You’re scowling now,” Jim points out.

McCoy closes his eyes again. “That’s because you’re an idiot.”

It’s a joke, but Bones looks like he’s losing consciousness again. Feeling desperate, Jim reaches down, tipping the man’s face back toward him. “Hey,” he says. “Stay awake.”

Grumbling, McCoy stirs again but more slowly this time.

“Bones,” Jim says, trying to make it sound like an order. “Stay awake.”

To the doctor’s credit, he tries. Jim can see that. Bones is grumpy and is prone to complaining, but he’s a damn good crew member. Jim trusts him more than nearly anyone else, and the man has never let him down.

This time, though.

Bones’ eyes are wet, and his face is creased with pain. He shakes his head minutely, his voice breathless and strained. “I can’t do this.”

Jim’s stomach churns. “You can,” he says. “We can. Together.”

But McCoy’s gaze goes distant as his eyes slip shut, and his body is limp on the ground again.

Jim knows a thing or two about death. He knows what it’s like to see someone die.

This, though.

This isn’t it.

He won’t let it be.

Jaw clenches, he reaches down and scoops up McCoy again, starting up the hill.

-o-

He runs.

The air feels thin, and his lungs hurt as he breathes. The ache in his legs starts to build until every step is a challenge. The weight of Bones on his shoulders is daunting, and he wants nothing more than to lay down and stop.

To quit.

But the fact is, his father was a captain of a starship for 12 minutes and saved 800 lives. Pike made a captain out of him when he was nothing but a smart-ass kid. Jim’s got a hell of a legacy to live up to, but damn it all if he’s not going to try.

Until there’s just nothing left.

-o-

At the top of the hill, his knees give out. It hadn’t looked like a daunting climb, but the exertion has left him exhausted. It’s the thin air; it’s the heat of fighting for his life; it’s his breakneck speed.

It’s the weight of a friend’s life, so literally on his shoulders.

He’s here, though.

Gently, he lowers McCoy to the ground. This time, the doctor doesn’t stir, his pale face unknowing in the afternoon sun. Breathing heavily, Jim takes out his communicator and opens it, waiting for a familiar sound.

There’s a crackle, then some feedback. It continues, clearing for a moment before he hears it--

“--Enterprise to Captain Kirk,” Uhura is saying. “Can you read me, Captain?”

Jim almost cries in relief. He swallows hard, working some saliva into his mouth to answer when he hears something to his left. He turns, mouth still open to speak, right as the spear lances into his arm.

-o-

The force knocks him over, and for a moment, he can only stare at the thin stick protruding from his arm. It had looked gruesome when it happened to Bones.

It feels even worse.

He’s still half shocked when he sees movement out of the corner of his eye. There’s three figures, creeping along, but they’re not coming toward him.

No, they’re going for McCoy.

Jim will fight like hell to save his life.

He’ll fight like a damn madman to save his crew.

There’s nothing he won’t do to save a friend.

Ripping the spear out of his arm, he gets to his feet. He’s lunging forward, using the spear against his attackers, plunging it straight into the first one’s chest. The man cries out and falls back, and other brings a knife up--

Jim ducks, charging into him and lifting him clear off his feet. He slams the man into the ground before pivoting and ramming his fist into the last one’s face. The man wavers, and Jim follows up, one punch after another until the man goes down.

He stands, breathing heavily, feeling hot blood trickle down his arm.

His communicator beeps.

Grunting, Jim opens it. “Kirk here,” he says gruffly, looking past the three fallen figures toward McCoy.

“Captain,” Spock says. “Are you all right--”

“Been better, honestly,” he says, the words slurring a little as he stumbles back to Bones. He falls to his knees. “Do you have a lock on our position?”

“Affirmative,” Spock says. “We seem to have found a weak spot in the storm.”

Or the higher ground worked, but Jim doesn’t care. He doesn’t care about who was right and who was wrong. He doesn’t care about this planet or the Prime Directive.

He just cares about getting out of here.

“Two to beam out,” he says.

“Captain--”

“Now, Spock,” Jim says, feeling himself start to slump forward. “That’s an order.”

He looks at Bones as his head goes light, and as the beam descends around him into a sparkling haze, Jim has no choice but to just let go.

-o-

Jim wakes to the hiss of a hypospray.

He frowns, opening his eyes, ready to tell McCoy to just lay off.

But McCoy isn’t there.

Startled, Jim remembers. The planet. The blood. The damn natives.

He bolts upright. “Bones?” he asks. “Where the hell is--”

He stops short because there, on the bed next to him, is McCoy.

He’s propped up and reading a book, already scowling.

“Bones!” he exclaims. Trying to push away the doctor who seems intent on checking his vitals. “You’re okay!”

“Of course I’m okay,” McCoy tells him dourly. “I told you that bandage was easy enough for an idiot to use.”

“I know,” Jim says. “But you lost a lot of blood--”

“Like you’re one to talk,” McCoy says crossly.

“You were dying,” Jim says.

At that, McCoy puts his book down. “So you thought going and getting yourself killed was the best solution.”

“I didn’t get myself killed--”

“Not for a lack of trying,” McCoy says. “Good God, man. How you’ve survived this long is nothing short of a miracle.”

“Well, I do keep having my chief medical officer go on away missions with me,” Jim reminds him with a sly grin.

McCoy’s brow darkens. “Yeah, about that--”

“It was an accident,” Jim tells him. “I won’t let it happen again.”

“I’d prefer it if you didn’t put our lives so needlessly in danger next time,” McCoy grumbles.

“Spock said it was uninhabited,” Jim points out in his defense.

“Don’t get me started on him,” Bones says. “The two of you, killing me with unfettered impulses and cold probabilities. This five year mission is going to feel like a lifetime.”

At that, Jim is smiling from ear to ear. Because five years is a long time. And space is a dangerous, uncertain frontier. He doesn’t approach it as blindly as he used to, and he sure as hell doesn’t take it for granted. This was a near miss, one that probably shouldn’t have happened but one he knows will probably happen again.

Part of him wonders how he can keep going.

The rest of him, however, knows why he just can’t stop.

“You know,” Jim says, easing back against his pillows. “You could thank me for saving your life.”

“The bandage did the hard work,” Bones says with a glare as he picks up the book again. “And it was your fault we were down there anyway.”

“I carried you up the hill to safety,” Jim says. “I fought off six attackers for you.”

“And got impaled in the process,” Bones mutters.

“Hey, you got stabbed first,” Jim says.

“It’s a contest now?” Bones asks, eyebrows arched.

“You better hope not,” Jim says. “Because I’d win.”

Bones rolls his eyes and starts reading again. Jim sits there, watching him for a moment before sitting back smugly.

He won’t admit how close it came; he won’t talk about how scared he was.

Because he did win this time.

He can’t do it all alone -- he knows that now better than ever -- but with a crew like his, he really does like his odds.

Comments

Posted by: sophie_deangirl (sophie_deangirl)
Posted at: December 29th, 2013 10:01 pm (UTC)

Okay, as if you didn't already know, field medicine/surgery works no matter what genre and I loved this. How did you know that out of everyone, I have a particular affection for Bones and Karl Urban (whom I love on Almosf Human too)? That makes this particularly enjoyable for me. Such a delightful mix of angst and sarcasm!

Fave parts:

“You’re going to have to repair the damage,” he says, breathing heavier now. His blinks, his eyes starting to look glazed even as he forces himself to keep talking. “We won’t be able to do much about the blood loss until we get back to the Enterprise--”

He cuts off, gasping in pain and curling in on himself. His fingers curl into fists and he groans, squeezing his eyes shut in what appears to be desperate.

Jim swears again. “Bones?” he says, reaching about to afraid to touch. “Come on, Bones. Don’t do this to me. Not now.”

McCoy unfurls slightly, his face almost ashen now. He opens muddled eyes and glares. “You’re a egocentric jerk,” he mutters. “I get stabbed; it’s still all about you.”

At that, Jim manages a grin even as unbidden tears burn in his eyes. “Some of us just have that hero’s appeal.”

McCoy grunts. “Then you better start doing some saving, hero,” he murmurs.

Jim sobers, nodding readily. “Okay,” he says. “What now?”

-- just adore this exchange.

McCoy is panting now, each breath sounding labored. “You have to put the spray in its secondary setting,” he says. “Instead of an injection, it can be used as a sterilizer.”

Jim frowns, looking over the foreign buttons.

“Just press the button!” McCoy almost yells. “Setting B2!”

-- you really do a great job capturing the urgency and frustration here.

“It’s designed for field use,” Bones snaps. “Means that even idiots are supposed to use it correctly with no training involved.”

“Are you calling me an idiot?” Jim asks.

“Depends if you let me die or not,” McCoy says

--haha! I can so hear the tone!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 16th, 2014 01:59 am (UTC)
johnny boy works

Another person partial to Bones? That is unexpected and a bit fortuitous! I don't have strong inclinations in this fandom but Karl Urban is definitely the most attractive character for me :)

Thanks!

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