“I think these things are pretty safe.”
Leonard floated. He was whirling around, held only by the straps that kept him in the vehicle. His body floated above the seat at some indeterminate height, though it really couldn’t have been more than a couple of inches. He watched the overhead light turn from a rectangle to a circle with the spin of the vehicle and his body and his brain and the world and the universe. He could smell rain outside. He could hear tires screeching. Funny he couldn’t hear people screeching. Surely someone should be screaming. He wasn’t screaming. He opened his mouth. The air felt like it was being sucked from his lungs, but he made no sound, save a gasp to reclaim some of that torn air.
He crashed. He crashed into the seat, into the gear shift, into the body in the passenger seat. Something wet dripped between his eyes. His left hand hurt. It felt broken. He looked at it – there was a long gash between his middle and ring fingers. Blood was spurting from the gaping wound, drenching his wedding band. Something wet continued to drip between his eyes. He reached up with his good hand and felt the cut on his forehead. Deep. Would need laser suturing. He let his good hand drop and looked out the window to his left, out the side window. It was shattered. He looked down at his shoulder, and saw some of the glass there. His suede jacket was ruined. Shame. It was his favorite, a warm green that matched his eyes. Now it was split at the shoulder and had blood spray on it. Spray looked arterial. Strange. He wasn’t dead. Wasn’t even light-headed.
He turned to his right, to the body slumped over in the seat next to him. The head was hanging out the broken window, arms hanging limply between splayed legs. Oh no. No no no. Leonard reached out and touched the shoulder nearest him lightly, just so lightly. No response. “Honey?” He squeezed the shoulder a little. Still nothing. “Baby, darlin’, answer me…” Leonard leaned forward a bit and tried to pull the heavy body closer, to roll the body so he could see a face. He was met with resistance. Better than nothing. He trailed his hand down the arm, to the hand that hung limply, gathered it up, and looked at the shining ring, glinting brightly in the wet haze. He brought the hand to his lips and kissed. The hand was warm. He concentrated. There was a pulse, steady and strong. No death here.
Something wet squirted his cheek.
Leonard dropped the hand. “Oh God. No.” He turned, slowly, twisting painfully in his seat.
There she sat, all of thirteen, still pretty as a rose. Her creamy white skin had a waxy pallor. Her lips were a strange pale pink, almost white. Her eyes, though, her eyes were as dark and brooding as always. She was making little soft wheezing noises. Leonard struggled to reach her neck, where a chunk of window had sliced into her. She smiled ruefully. “Make it worse, Daddy,” she whispered. The wheeze became a gurgle, then a cough. Blood splashed him in the face. “Sorry, Daddy.”
“Hush, baby, just… everything’s gonna be alright.” He struggled to release himself from the belt, then went to push at his door. It wouldn’t budge. “Goddammit, open!” He shoved at it with all his weight, but the door was wedged tight.
“No struggle, Daddy. ‘s okay.” The wheezing became shallower, faster. “Love you. Never your fault.”
“NO!” Blood, sweat and tears. Such a corny statement, but they blinded Leonard, made it hard for him to make out her face, made it hard to see how to get the hell out of the car, how to help her. “Please, no…”
The car shook. Leonard looked about wildly. The body next to him had lurched out, was yanking on the rear door on his side. One arm was pressed up against the body, as if moving it might tear the world asunder. The other hauled furiously at the rear door, until it gave way with a creak. The body bent down, and then Leonard could see his face, pinched with pain, blue eyes determined as fuck. “Tell me what to do, McCoy.
“Get… get her out of the restraints. See if you can turn her body, gently now! Don’t let the glass slip, it’s… it’s slowing the blood loss. Get her feet in the air. Pray.”
“Hush, Jo-Jo, Jim’s gonna take care of you. He’s good, he’s gonna-”
“Bones. I can’t move her one armed.” The body began to lumber around the outer perimeter of the car. “Need help-”
The body slipped below Leonard’s view through the windshield. “Jim? Jim! Jim!” Leonard looked about wildly. “No no no no no no no-”
The world went black.
Leonard awoke to the sounds of a biobed. He sat up, and alarms began to scream. A wide bodied, brown skinned human woman with red hair piled a foot high on top of her head came barging in, arms outstretched. She fairly slammed Leonard back to the bed and pinned him there with a look. “And just what the hell do you think you’re doing?”
Leonard glared back, gripping the edges of the bed with both hands, heedless of the burning pain I his left hand. “I came in here with two other-”
“I don’t care if you came in here with Jesus Christ riding a unicycle on Surak’s back! You aren’t going anywhere until the doctor clears you!”
Leonard couldn’t hold back the roar. “I am a doctor!”
“Then you know the drill!” She leaned over, giving Leonard an ample view of her ample behind, then popped up with restraining straps. “We can do this two ways!” She scowled and shook the straps at him.
Leonard closed his eyes against the sudden sting clouding his view. He pursed his lips together and ignored the moisture gathering at his lashes. A soft, warm hand rested on his cheek. A thumb swiped at an errant tear. “Okay. What are their names, hon?”
“James Kirk. Joanna McCoy. She’s… she’s just a little girl-” Leonard choked on a sob.
“What’s your name, sweetheart?”
“Leonard McCoy,” he breathed.
“Okay, so let’s make a deal. I come back in twenty minutes or less with some dope on James Kirk and Joanna McCoy, and you sit here and wait for Dr. Chu to look you over. Sound good?” Leonard nodded weakly – what else could he do? “Okay. Try to stay calm for me, now.”
“If I were any calmer, I’d be dead.” Leonard didn’t bother to add that he wished he was calmer. He figured she could already see that for herself.
If he craned his neck, Leonard could just see the clock on the wall outside his cordoned area. It didn’t mean much to him. He hadn’t realized the clock was even there until long after Nurse Beehive stomped out of the room. But he knew he’d been had. It had been seventeen minutes since he’d first noticed the clock, and there was no sign of her, or of this purported Dr. Chu. Leonard was ready to give up and try to turn off the monitors that would alert staff to unauthorized movement himself.
Before he could do more than look at the extra monitors hovering over head, a tall, thin, olive skinned woman dripping with jadestone entered his area. At first Leonard thought she might have been from the eastern end of the Eurasian supercontinent, but the angle of her eyebrows gave him pause. She glanced at his vitals, picked up his left hand, lifted an eyebrow, and set his hand down again. “Leonard McCoy?” Leonard narrowed his eyes and nodded curtly. “I am Dr. Chu. You were involved in the motor vehicle incident this morning?”
“Yes,” he said through gritted teeth. “Most unfortunate. I will have you taken down to Day Surgery to have your hand and face repaired. You will receive instructions on aftercare once your condition has stabilized – you are a doctor?”
“I’m the chief medical officer of the Federation flagship.”
Both Dr. Chu’s eyebrows went up. “Interesting. Then I need not waste time explaining to you the procedure for laser suture or muscular reintegration?”
“I’m more interested in finding out what happened to the rest of my party.”
Dr. Chu frowned deeply. “I have very little information for you, Dr. McCoy. I can tell you that there was only one death in the five patients admitted associated with…”
Leonard was no longer listening. He clenched his hands – squeeze, loose, squeeze, loose – in an attempt to keep from reaching out to strangle the cold woman rattling on about fuck all. He could hear the heart monitor registering his distress, but he didn’t care. His hands didn’t mean a goddamn thing if he’d lost his baby. There was nothing else the universe could possibly do to him, nothing it could possibly torment – or tempt – him with.
A warm hand on his shoulder brought him out of his downward spiral. “If you do not calm yourself, I will be forced to sedate you. Is this your preference?”
“I don’t have a damn preference!”
A hypospray pressed into the fold of his right arm, and he was lost in a blissful, numbing fog.
Sunset. Orange-red light filtered through the window next to the bed. A regular room. Not private, though. There was a privacy curtain drawn around the bed on the other side of him. Leonard lifted his hand. Good as new. Not even a scar to show for his goddamn trouble. His mind flitted briefly to the hovercraft that nudged the back of his car into that hellish tail-spin, but he couldn’t wrap his mind around it. All he could remember was floating. Spinning and floating. Spinning and floating and crashing. Spinning and floating and crashing and bleeding. The bleeding. He was a fucking doctor, blood was nothing to fear, not really. Not really.
He sat up in the bed and looked for the button to call the nurse. Fuck all this misery. He wanted to get the hell out of the hospital, get back to his hotel room, get a shower and come back and look for his husband, his daughter, try to put his life back together before he had to tell Starfleet their golden boy got knocked flat on his ass in a stupid motor collision on a stupid Earth road. Where the hell was the damn button??
He swung his feet over the edge of the bed, thoroughly disgusted. He’d just stalk out to the nurse’s station in his gown, ass hanging out, and demand assistance. He looked at his newly mended hand again and grit his teeth so hard he could feel the molars powdering. There was no scar, the blood was mostly cleaned off, but on his ring finger was a pale ring of skin that hadn’t seen sun – real or artificial – in nearly four years. Now it was exposed to the faint blue fluorescent lighting in the hospital room. He pushed off the bed, completely enraged.
One foot in front of the other, and his knees wouldn’t cooperate. He was going down, could see the shift in perspective as his eyelevel dropped with his body, until he was looking up towards the nearest surface, much too far to reach for. Everything was moving in slow motion, not like they say about a traffic accident, but like it did when the ship went into high warp from sublight speeds, the universe stretching unnaturally in front of him. The edge of his vision began to blur again, and he breathed out a single word before the side of his head hit the cold, hard tile. “Jim. ”
The world didn’t black out. It didn’t even white out. His head bounced roughly on the floor, but he remained alert – or as alert as one could be after a day like his – and waited for someone to come chew him out for being a terrible patient. He felt cool hands on his bare upper arm. There it was. His benefactor was silent, sliding one of those cool hands between his head and the floor, supporting him, lifting him. He groped blindly, grasping onto hospital scrubs that came away in a rush. There was a startled noise, and Leonard fell again. Then, close to his ear, “Gee, Bones, you could wait until we got back to the ship, you know.”
Leonard’s vision cleared immediately. He turned to see Jim nearly naked, his hospital gown still balled in Leonard’s grip. The material had slipped down Jim’s muscular arms, and made him look far more obscene than he would have were he completely naked. It was almost enough to distract Leonard from the shitfucked day he’d had. Almost. He closed his eyes and swallowed around a lump forming in his throat. Was it wrong to wish Jim had been …the one? Leonard had been alone before. He could move on, eventually, he supposed, from the loss of a lover, a best friend. But this not knowing, this…
A moan came from the other bed. Jim jerked his gown back from Leonard’s grasp and brushed his forehead quickly before bounding to the curtain. He was making shushing noises, and then another voice, a woman’s voice, boomed from above and behind Leonard’s head. “Oh HELL NO.”
Leonard opened his eyes to Nurse Beehive standing over him, arms akimbo, face thunderous. “Is this the thanks I get? Do you have any idea what the hell I went through to get you into the same room, and now you’re running around like a damn fool! And you! Why in the hell are you out of bed??”
“I feel fine! I wanted to see-”
“Nuh-uh! This look like a damn starship to you? This is a hospital! And you need to either be recuperating or giving that bed to a patient that needs it!” She stepped over Leonard and poked at Jim’s right shoulder, eliciting a sharp yelp. “Mmhm. Go. I’m serious! Go. ” She moved to the curtain and ripped it open. “Well, at least someone is in bed. It’s alright, sugar, daddy’s on the floor like a damn fool, and his favorite idiot was just leaving right now wasn’t he?”
Leonard rolled to his side and reached for his bed, pulling himself to his feet with Jim’s help. He could see the nurse stroking the head of a small, shaking patient. There were whispered whimperings coming from the bed, but the nurse cooed and shushed just like Jim had, admonishing that speech was forbidden. Leonard pulled gently from Jim’s supporting arms, reaching for the metal guardrail that kept the patient from rolling to the floor.
Before he could see her face, Joanna’s long, thin fingers reached for his own giant hand and pulled with surprising strength. As he cleared Nurse Beehive, tears clouded his vision, but he could feel Jo-Jo’s sunny smile warm him through. He blinked the heaviest of his tears away just in time to see her mouth form soundless words. “Told you. ‘s okay.” She squeezed his hand, whimpered once more, and swallowed around the machine still regenerating muscle in her neck.
Leonard sagged in relief, then allowed Nurse Beehive to drag him bodily back to his own bed, fussing and grousing all the time. “Jim, if I sound like this on duty, I apologize. ” Nurse Beehive bristled and fussed even more, but Jim laughed and pressed a kiss to his forehead. He started to leave, but Leonard caught his hand. “Jim… I don’t know what they did with my ring. I had it in the car, but it’s gone, I don’t know-”
“It doesn’t matter, Bones.” Jim squeezed his fingers lightly. “This is what matters. As long as we come out alive, everything is golden.”
Leonard smiled shakily. “Don’t know how we’re gonna get around now.”
“What do you mean?”
Leonard ignored the warning growl from Nurse Beehive. “I… I don’t think I can get back-”
“Don’t give me that, Doctor. I told you. Those things are pretty safe.”
“I know. I’m afraid too.”
Leonard didn’t know what to say to that. Jim was always so fearless in the face of everything. “You’re…”
“Yes, I am. But, Bones… I don’t know of any way back onto the ship. Except maybe-”
Leonard flopped backwards in the hospital bed. “Yeah, okay, shuttlecraft and cars are not the same, pretty safe, got it, g’nite Jim.” He cracked a small smile for Jim’s bellylaugh.