Title: Slowing Down
Fandom: Star Trek (reboot)
Disclaimer: This is a fanwork. I received no money personally for its creation nor am I affiliated with the books/movies in any way.
Summary: Doctors don’t get sick. So that urge to sneeze he feels? Nope. Definitely not because he’s getting sick.
Word count: 1,982
Author Notes: Written for undersupply as a thank you for donating on my fundraising page for the Walk to End HIV. The requirement was a 1,750 word fic.
No. No, no, no. No, he was not sick. He was not getting sick. He was absolutely nowhere close to sick. Sick was for his patients, not for him. Doctors did not get sick, especially when there was an epidemic to contain.
Bones took one then two tissues from the box and handed them to Ensign Morrows. “Tissues, remember?”
The ensign looked in his direction, but his eyes were unfocused. He pitched forward, his nose almost completely missing his newly acquired handful of tissues. “ha-IKTschoo!”
Bones patted the ensign's back. “Nice try. You'll get it next time.”
Bones headed back to his office and fell into his chair. His head was throbbing with what couldn't possibly be sinus pressure and was more likely ache from stress and lack of sleep. Because he couldn't be getting sick. No. Not now. Right now he had duties to perform. Right now he had a sick bay full of patients to look after. Right now he had a treatment to develop. Right now he did not have a cold. He could not have a cold. No.
He just needed to know the right dosage of pain treatment to give himself to help his head. “h'Ngt!” He grabbed a tricorder. “eh'ngt! H'int!” No. Not sick. “ih-h'ngtt!” No. This wasn't happening. This couldn't be happening. “h'Ingttt!” He held the tricorder in one hand, staring at the display, while he directed the sensor probe at himself with his other hand. He moved it up and down, scanning himself. And on the screen the numbers flew past. They didn't look good. “No...”
He set the tricorder down. He had a sickbay filling with sneezing and coughing patients and his equipment picked now to break? “heh-heh-INGttt!” Bones rubbed at his nose. It was tickling like mad, which was strange, because he wasn't sick.
Luckily, he had another tricorder in his office. He grabbed it from a cabinet and started scanning himself. He couldn't help but lean on the cabinet as he did so. That didn't mean he was sick, just that he was tired. It had been a long day so far since the away party returned, sniffling. “h-Ngkk!” These sneezes were getting strong. He felt another one coming on before the tricorder finished its scan, and he didn't have a free hand, so he pressed his nose into his shoulder. “hehh-INGShhhhhh!”
Blinking back tears in his eyes, Bones stared at the screen. Both his tricorders were broken. What were the odds? But now the tricorder read something else. Something he didn't like:
LEONARD MCCOY, NOT
FIT FOR MEDICAL DUTY.
ACCESS TEMPORARILY RESTRICTED.
He switched to the computer, hoping it was a fluke. Same exact message. He tried to pull up his last patient's record, but the terminal wouldn't respond to him. Damn it! “I'm not sick!” he told it. Then he pinched his nose. “h'Nk!” At least he could still stifle his sneezes. With any luck, he could hold them back entirely and no one would know he was sick. Except maybe the computer now. Not that he was sick. Because he wasn't. The tricorders were wrong. The computer was wrong. Bones was fine. “H'n!” He sniffled and rubbed his nose. Then he headed out of his office, intending to get back into sick bay. But the door wouldn't open for him. The pad by the door read:
Damn it. He pressed the button on the communications terminal. He needed the bridge. Now.
James T. Kirk leaned to the right and pressed the button on the arm of the captain's chair. “Bones, do you have an update for me about that epidemic?”
“Not exactly. But I need you down here right now.”
Jim glanced over at Spock, whose head was cocked with a curious expression on his face. Or as much of an expression as Spock ever gave. “You had better go. We are four hours out, still. And you know he will not take no for an answer.”
Jim nodded in agreement and pressed the button again. “Be there in a second.”
He had expected an update. He had expected to hear that his crewmen were on the mend, that the contagion was contained, that Bones was brilliant and he had the bug on the run. What he hadn't expected was seeing Bones hunched over at his office desk, tissues pressed to his nose. “You catch it?”
Bones lifted his head and shook it. “No. No, no, no. I'm not sick.” Then his eyes closed and head bobbed forward. “HUH--” The sneeze was silent, held back as Bones squeezed his nose between thumb and forefinger. It was impressive, really, but it looked painful. That couldn't be good for him.
“I'm no doctor, but I hate to tell you: you sound sick.” Jim saw Bones lower his hand and clear several balled-up tissues off the desk. “And you look sick.”
“I took an anti-contagion drug when all this started. I shouldn't have caught anything, and no one can catch it from me. But I need to keep working to find the solution before this epidemic gets out of hand.”
“And you needed me down here... why?”
Bones gestured toward the computer. “I'm locked out of everything. Locked out of the computers, locked out of my own damn sick bay.” Jim rounded the desk and saw the message on the terminal. “All you have to do is give your code and I can keep working.”
“So what you're saying is that, based on Starfleet regulations, you are too sick to work and you need my override as a captain in order for you to continue working?”
“Well, then, that's simple enough.”
Bones relaxed, gratitude and relief sweeping over him.
“I don't give it.”
“You're sick, Bones. I say so and Starfleet says so. I'm not going to go against their regulations.”
“What are you talking about? You always go against Starfleet regulations. It's what makes Captain James T. Kirk... it... ” He turned in his seat, breathing heavily. Then his hand flew up and pinched his nose between thumb and forefinger. “h'Chn!”
Kirk winced. “Do you have to do that?”
Bones scrubbed a finger under his nose. “Sneeze?”
“Sneeze that way. It can't be good for you.”
“I'm fine, Jim.”
“You're sick, Leonard. And you're relieved of duty. Now you can either take a bed here in sick bay or I'll confine you to your quarters. It's your choice.”
Jaw set, eyes fiery, Bones stormed out of his office. Kirk had a feeling that wasn't the last he was going to hear from the doctor.
Kirk leaned in his chair, touching the button on his arm to reply. “Yes?”
“Ady chadce you bight recodsider?”
“The edvirodbetal codtrols id by quarters are broked.”
“They're not broken, Bones. You're sick.”
“Get back into bed, Bones.”
Another pause then, “Okay.”
“Do you dow how bady viruses there are out here id sbace? What if this isd't a cold at all? What if I codtracted a rare straid of ad exotic blague? What if I'b dyig? I feel like I'b dyig.”
At the conn station, Ensign Chekov snickered despite himself. Kirk cleared his throat in warning, and Chekov quickly smothered his amusement. Kirk pressed the button on the arm of his chair. “You're not dying. It's just a cold.” Amazing how, in just a few hours, Bones had gone from being fine to being on death's door. “Trust me, you'll be fine.”
“Dabbit, Jib. If I die, it'll be od your head.”
Kirk sighed before answering. “Bones, you do know the entire bridge can hear you when you contact me?”
There was a pause while he considered this, but it did not have the result of quieting him. “Jib, there's subthig wrog with the food.”
Kirk rubbed his hand over his face with a sigh. “Your nose is stuffed up, so your taste is going to be a little off. I’m sure the food is fine.”
“I’d feel better if you sedt ad edgideer here to… to… to see… about-h’Nngh!”
Leonard McCoy's head cold was absolutely no business of Spock's, but the fact that Bones had interrupted Bridge operations eighteen times now made it his business. Spock turned in his seat at his station. “He is just going to keep calling.”
Kirk sighed and nodded. “You have the bridge, Mr. Spock.” He pressed the button again. “I'll be at your quarters in a minute, Bones.”
“Good. Brig a tricorder. I thidk there's also subthig wrog with the gravity id here. By arbs add legs feel so heavy.”
“Sounds serious. Better stay in bed until I get there,” the captain ordered before quickly making his way to the turbolift.
He got to Bones' quarters a few minutes later and found the man huddled in the middle of the bed, blankets and tissues swirling like a spiral galaxy around him. Bones lifted his head. “Jib?”
“That's right. You called me, remember?” Bones didn't look like he remembered. He looked ill and feverish and out of it. “The medical staff brought you medicine, right?” Bones nodded wearily. Jim sat down on the edge of the bed and rubbed the man's back through layers of blankets.
“If I could just do a little work to helb by staff... They still dod't have a rebedy for the ebidebic yet.”
Jim frowned. “And how would you know that? You’re supposed to be resting, not checking in with your staff.”
“I just asked theb whed they cabe by with the bedicide.” He coughed. “They thidk I did’t take the brevedtative bedicide sood edough, which is why I caught it. Just by luck to cach subthig we dod’t have a cure for yet.”
“Without one, what happens to you?”
“I sdeeze helblessly for a couble of days.”
“And what would happen if you didn't take care of yourself and slow down?”
Bones closed his eyes and reluctantly answered, “I'll get worse.”
“Then consider this a vacation. And I’m going to stay right here as long as it takes until you relax and get some rest.”
Bones tensed with irritation. Then his hand ventured out from beneath the covers and pinched his nose again. “huhhhhhhh'Ngg! hh-Ing! Nghtt! Heh-Eh-Enng! Ingtt!”
As Bones let out his breath, he pulled a tissue out from a box that was presumably hiding under the blankets with him and blew his nose.
The sound of the nose blow was about five times louder than any of his sneezes. Who was he trying to fool here? What did he think he was hiding? “Bones, would you quit doing that?”
“B'sorry. Sdeezy cold... I cad't heb it.”
“I don't mind you sneezing, but you would stop stifling your sneezes? It can't be good for you. Can't you break an eardrum or damage your sinuses or something that way?”
“I'll be fide.” He shook his head. “Which ode of us is the doctor here?”
“Right now? Technically neither of us. So quit hurting yourself and just sneeze normally.”
Bones' face screwed up. Clearly he was about to sneeze again, but he was trying to look like he didn't need to. He was absolutely terrible at this. His nostrils flared. His brows furrowed. His lips quivered. His eyelids fluttered. And then, instinctively, his hand came up to pinch his nose. Seizing his opportunity, and with reflexes much faster than Bones' right now, Jim knocked the hand down. Startled, Bones lost what little control he had over the sneeze. “huh-CHEESHHH!”
Smirking, Jim patted Bones on the back. “See, that wasn't so bad, was it?”
Bones glared at him. Then he lifted his other hand before Jim could get to it and pinched his nose as the fit struck him. “huh-Ngt! Huhh-Ingt! H'ng! Ngtt! Hah-Ingg!”
“Well, we'll work on it.” Jim patted his arm.