No Way To Be In Heaven
The moment the doors closed, sweat beaded all over Jim's body, and his heart began to pound so loudly he was sure everyone in the hospital could hear it. The lift shuddered and began its decent, and Jim lurched forward, arms outstretched with talon-like hands, to pry the doors open again.
"Jim!" Something grabbed hold of Jim's arms and began to pull him away from the doors, but he bucked the thing off, tossing the extra weight off his shoulders so hard that it smacked against the back wall of the tiny chamber and nearly shook it off the rails. Jim scrambled closer to the door and clawed at them desperately - he didn't know what there was to fear in the chamber, but there was something deeply horrifying about staying within the tiny metal prison. Escape was vital.
The doors opened of their own volition, spilling a surprised Jim (and his interfering burden) onto the cold metal floor. A sharp chill seeped into the soft, fleshy meat of the cheek that lay against the floor, and for a moment, Jim feared he would be stuck there forever, laid to waste in the frozen bowels of a chamber of horrors.
Hands on his waist, arms, lifting, rubbing, soothing. Jim gathered his feet under him and allowed the hands to pull him upright. He could move. He could stand. He could run. He could still escape. He looked at his benefactor. Bones. "Bones, we need to get out of here."
"Jim... I..." Bones was giving him the strangest look, but he nodded slowly and pressed the call button for the lift.
Too late. A woman in scrubs approached them. "May I help you, gentlemen?"
Jim grabbed at Bones' elbow, but Bones smiled apologetically at him before turning to the woman. "We're here to identify a body."
The woman nodded smartly. "This way." She turned and headed the way she came, not bothering to see if they were following. Jim pressed at the lift call button repeatedly, but Bones grabbed his arm and gave it a yank, nearly pulling it out of the socket. Jim swallowed down his pained cry as he was dragged towards what felt like his surest demise. They turned at the first corner and paused at a window next to a set of double doors. "Talk to this young man right here," the woman in scrubs said. "He'll guide you through the process." She turned to Jim. "I'm sorry for your loss." Then she left.
Jim turned and watched her disappear around the corner. Why his loss? Bones was the one who'd lost his best friend on a operating table. Jim was just along for the ride, to reassure Bones that he'd suffered no such loss. Right? He turned back to Bones, who was watching him carefully. "My loss...?" He was so confused, mind was muzzy...
Bones shrugged and sighed. "You're panicking. She probably just assumed you were freaking out over the death of a loved one, and that I'm here for moral support." He chuckled softly, a humorless sound. "That's a laugh."
Jim looked away, ashamed. "I'm sorry. This is probably really hard for you," he choked out.
"Yes. It is." Bones put a hand on Jim's back, rubbed in a small circle, right behind his still thundering heart. "Doesn't mean you don't have the right to your own anxieties, though." The hand stilled, fingers spreading, as if to hold Jim together in just the palm of his hand. "I should have known you'd spook in here."
Jim looked back at that, confused. "Oh?" Jim had no idea why he was so terrified, only that he was. How could Bones...?
"I'd always just assumed you were being contrary about physical exams and the like because you wanted to be contrary." Bones mouth quirked up in the corners. "I have no idea what's gonna happen when you have to take your final psych eval, if any of this comes out in the open, but I won't tell 'em you're afraid of hospitals." With that, Bones turned his attention to the man in the window, and began the process of body identification.
Jim hung back and concentrated on breathing. In, out. In, out. There was a harsh buzzing in his skull, and the winking blue-white lights were entirely too bright, as if someone had come along and injected the lighting panels with the brilliance of a thousand suns, but if he just concentrated on breathing, everything would be alright.
He watched the man in the window disappear, and then the doors next to the window slid open with a skin shredding creak. Bones went through the doors easily, and paused to look back at Jim, who had somehow plastered himself to the opposing wall. "Let's go," Bones said softly. He held his hand out and waited patiently.
There was nothing to fear. There was nothing to fear. Jim took a step forward, and every cell in his body cried out - run! no! go back, back! - but he forced his feet to shuffle along, until he could just reach out and brush fingertips with Leonard. Bones grasped his hand and gripped, firmly, but he didn't tug, didn't pull, just waited for Jim to shuffle alongside him, and smiled. "Okay?"
"Not really, but I'm already here." Jim tried to smile.
"Would you rather wait here, sir?" The man from the window was standing in a doorway to their right, which opened onto the tiny office where the window to the main hall was. "You can take a seat right here, if you'd rather not view the body..."
Jim glanced at the office, but his apprehension got worse, not better. It didn't matter where he was in the hospital, only that he was in the hospital. He had to get the hell out, as soon as possible, and the only way to ensure he did was to get Bones in and out of the morgue - or to take off without him. The way Jim was feeling, he didn't trust himself to make it out of the hospital intact without help.
There was also the fact that he was loathe to be alone in the hospital for any reason, especially down in the dungeon. He didn't know why, but there was an almost... visceral fear of being trapped within the hospital's walls forever, as if there was a flesh eating monster with a taste for one James Tiberius Kirk. No way was he going to sit quietly in a tiny room with one viable entry entry point and wait for some unknown monster to come disembowel him.
So he gripped Bones' hand tighter and forced himself to take a step just beyond where Bones and the clerk stood. "Let's get this over with." His voice sounded strangled. He didn't give a shit.
They walked slowly, too slowly, down the hall, to another set of double doors. The clerk punched a code in the panel on the wall next to the door, and the doors hissed open, puffing out a cloud of frost as they did so. They went into the darkened chamber and paused. Jim jumped as the doors behind them hissed shut again. The clerk smiled. "Decon chamber. It'll just take a second. We're entering a stasis field."
"But the frost..."
Bones' thumb stroked the back of Jim's hand. "It's like any other delicate lab on campus, Jim. Remember when you told me about Yorkshire and Sulu's botany project? Same kind of thing."
Jim scowled deeply - there were no dead bodies involved in Allison's project, nor were there warnings to never ever ever return to the lab... not that Jim had ever been told to never ever ever return to a hospital he'd never visited, so that probably wasn't a valid argument, but whatever.
A red light flicked on, then a green light, and finally, the same blue-white lights that had blinded Jim a moment ago. A set of doors opened on their right, and Jim found himself being dragged along through them, into a room full of drawers. Jim's breath came in quick, rough spurts. There was something familiar about this room - this tomb.
The clerk led them over to the far right corner of the room, examined the drawers just above their heads, and headed to the nearest computer panel to enter a code. A drawer too high for them to look into slid open on its tracks. The clerk motioned for them to step back, though Jim was already moving away from the drawer on his own. The track seemed to extend beyond the actual flooring of the drawer, and more apparatus made itself known, to help lower the drawer to about waist level. The machine whirred to a stop, and a locking mechanism clicked into placed. Only then did the clerk wave them forward. "Wow," he said, looking up at Jim. "I'm so sorry," he said.
Jim's eyebrows furrowed together, and he watched Bones step boldly up to the drawer. "Come here," he said. Not gentle, this time, but hoarse, urgent. "Come on."
Jim forced himself to step closer to the drawer. Inside it was a naked man. His skin was white, like pure titanium, and he was dusted in a soft layer of brown freckles, so that he looked like an inverted image of space itself. His hair was dark at the roots, almost mahogany, and lightened to a soft bronze all over, until the very tips, which were a burnished gold, firey and bright. His lips, though blue like the lights in the room, were plush and soft looking, still full and supple. There was a tiny scar on his chin, and another by his mouth. A mole by the other ear.
Jim blinked, and the world shifted.
The lights were yellow-white. The clerk was a woman. There was only one man staring down into the drawer, and Jim was looking up at him, right into his eyes. "Yes, I see. Close it." Jim tried to protest, but his mouth wouldn't move. Nothing would move. He couldn't get a breath in. Everything went dark.
Another shift. He was in a bed, a regular bed. No, not a regular bed - more like something in a medical facility. There was a different woman smiling down at him. "Hi, sweetie! That wasn't so bad, now, was it?"
"What...?" He tried to sit up, found himself too weak to do more than let his head loll forward until his chin hit his chest. He let his head flop back and stared at the ceiling for a moment.
"Just take it easy, hon. Someone's going to be by with all the paperwork and whatnot." The woman pulled the hard, scratchy sheet up to his chin and tucked it all around him with a smile. "You get some more rest."
Jim watched her go and had half a mind to take off after her, but his body still wouldn't cooperate. This was wrong. He wasn't supposed to be in the hospital... right?
He awoke with a jerk. When the fuck did he fall asleep? That man, the one from before, the one from the morgue... from the not-morgue, it's not a morgue... wasn't a morgue... the man who'd trapped him in the drawer was standing over him, glaring at him. Jim recoiled as much as he could into the flat pillow and hard, mechanical surface of the biobed. The man continued to stare, then stabbed him in the neck with a hypo.
A pair of men and a woman. Hard faced. Suited up. Lots of legal speak. Too much for Jim to take - he was only seventeen, but he didn't dare tell that now. No, he was twenty-five... no, he was seventeen, and he had no idea how long he'd been out or what half the words these creeps were spewing at him, and there would be hell to pay when he got home, because his mother had no idea... no idea.
"Sign here. Here. Here. And here." So many papers, so many agreements. "These are legal and binding. Binding." Jim's neck hurt at the injection site. It throbbed. "Binding."
A lobby. Jim awoke in wheelchair, in a lobby. "Good nap?" A three piece ceramic wallhanging decorated one long wall. The Golden Gate Bridge featured prominently in all three pieces, and seemed to loom over Jim. The woman that first greeted him in bed was leaning over him, smiling at him like a circus clown. She was a little too fucking close for comfort. Jim turned his attention back to the ceramic wallhanging. He'd seen it somewhere before - this morning. With Bones. Whatever that meant. He'd seen it when he'd gone to view the body.
They handed him an envelope - the woman from the suits. She was standing next to the info desk, along with the man with the hypo. "Transportation costs back to Iowa are included, Mister Kirk."
"I feel foggy."
The man stepped into his line of vision. "That'll clear up. Your memories will generate over time." The suited woman hissed, and the man shut his mouth so fast his teeth clacked.
Jim blinked at the man, unknowingly. "Generate," he repeated, the consonants slurring together like an overcooked stew.
The suited woman stepped smartly to the doors that lead to the outside world. "There's a cab waiting for you. Fare's been paid." She nodded her head once, and the wheelchair began to move towards the door. "Your service has been greatly appreciated, Mister Kirk. Your... continued cooperation is to our mutual benefit." She glared hotly at the man who'd hypoed Jim in the night. "You talk too much," she growled, just before the doors closed behind Jim.
Jim came to on the floor of the morgue. The young clerk was on his knees, fanning Jim with the hem of his own shirt. Bones was on the other side of him, poking and prodding and calling his name. Jim sat straight up and vomited straight across the room, spraying his shoes with a breakfast he'd eaten a lifetime and a half ago. He scrambled backwards as fast as he could, away from his mess, from the still open drawer above his head, from the memories that came surging up from nowhere. "I gotta get out of here. I have to leave, I have to go..."
"Jim, Jim, hold on, someone's coming, we're gonna look you-"
"I have to get the fuck out of here, now." He had no idea if the project was still active, but if it was, he probably shouldn't have seen what he had. Was seeing. What the fuck ever.