Carol L. Lance
Jim Kirk stared at the monitor McCoy had finally relented to have placed by his bedside in Sickbay. On impulse power now, the Enterprise was easing past the outer planets in the Omicron Delta system, headed for the fifth planet, generally known simply as the Shore Leave planet. Drumming his fingers impatiently on the bed, Kirk resisted the urge to get up and pace. Yesterdays walk around the ward, his first in a week, had left him exhausted and under strict orders to remain in bed until he had his doctors permission to get up. A two-hour nap had revived him, but the second attempt had been almost as tiring. If McCoy caught him up without permission, hed order him right back to bed and refuse to allow him up again until the Shore Leave planet was long behind them.
Damn Klingons! he thought as a persistent throb reminded him of the concussion that was a souvenir of the recent battle with the fierce aliens. Then, damn cough! as a mercifully brief outburst left him slightly winded, thanks to the bout of pneumonia that had drained nearly all of his strength.
But a good nights sleep, followed by a hearty breakfast, had somewhat renewed his strength, and the captain of the Enterprise was ready to try it againif his chief medical officer would just get in there and give his permission.
The doors slid open, and Leonard McCoy entered. A grin spread across Kirks face. "Bones?" he asked, somewhere between a demand and a plea.
"Well, I dont know." McCoy eyed him carefully as he expertly ran the mediscanner across his friend and captains body, alert to any signs of renewed infection or residual effects of the concussion. Finding nothing new to alarm him, he set the scanner aside and deliberately frowned at his patient. "You havent completely recovered yet. If you go down there and catch a cold, youll have twice as many problemsand Ill be number one on the list."
Kirk frowned back at him, as perfect an imitation of a little-boy pout as a fully mature starship captain could manage, and McCoy gave in, suppressing the urge to laugh. "All right, all right. Go ahead."
Kirks frown disappeared, replaced by a sunny smile, and he swung his legs over the side of the bed, ready to jump to his feet.
McCoys next words stopped him. "Now, dont you go down there and do something Ill have to treat."
Kirk stared at him, stunned.
"And dont give me any Who, little of me? stuff either." McCoy stopped teasing and eyed his friend seriously. "I mean it, Jim, no horseplay, fighting, wild sex, Orion slave girls, and no sports except for walking and easy swimming." He counted the prohibitions off on his fingers, then added sternly, "I mean it now. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, you do. Very clear." Kirk jumped off the bed, and remained on his feet with a distinct effort, closing his eyes and swallowing in an attempt to steady the suddenly spinning room.
"Thats exactly what I mean," McCoy lectured, grabbing the captains arm to help steady him. "Now, be more careful. And if you have any trouble, I want to know right away. And no sneaking away without your communicator. If I find out you do, Ill install a transponder subcutaneously...and Ill make sure itll itch something terrible and in a place thatll be hard to scratch."
"Okay, Bones, you win. Ill take it easy." Kirk gave him a rueful grin. "I dont have much choice. I dont have enough strength yet to fight you."
"Or Spock?" McCoy added slyly, knowing the Vulcan would keep a careful eye on the captain whenever the doctor couldnt be at his side.
"Or Spock," Kirk agreed with a sigh. It was nice to know his friends cared so much about his well-being, but sometimes that care could be a bit smothering. "Ill be careful," he promised.
"Be sure you are," McCoy warned.
"Yes, Mommy," Kirk tossed over his shoulder with a grin as he exited Sickbay and headed for the turbolift. Once safely inside, he leaned against the back of the lift car and took a couple of deep breaths, waiting for his strength to catch up before reaching for the controls that would take him to the bridge. His headache was pounding, but he wasnt about to let McCoyor anyone elseknow.
He felt much better when he reached the bridge and made his way to the center seat. A lifted eyebrow was Spocks only sign of surprise at the captains appearance before the first officer swiftly vacated the seat to its rightful owner.
As Kirk sat down, Spock heard him let out a sigh. The Vulcans lips tightened in disapproval. He didnt agree with McCoys decision to release the captain from Sickbay so soon. Obviously, he wasnt well yet. But then he and the doctor didnt agree on most things, and Kirk was so clearly pleased to be back on the bridge that Spock had to concede that McCoy might be a better judge of the captains emotional condition and could have made the right decision after all.
Suppressing his own concerns, the Vulcan began to brief Kirk on the ships status. When he had finished, Spock gave the captain a careful look. He knew if things went the way they usually did on shore leave, Kirk would need to take more leave to recover. It was not logical, but neither was the captain. Before returning to the science station, Spock asked, "Captain, are you certain you want to take shore leave at this time?"
"Then I will schedule you to go down in the first group," the Vulcan relented. "That way you will have the remainder of our stay to recuperate."
Kirk watched Spocks back as his first officer returned to the science station. Although most people thought Vulcans didnt joke, he knew this half-Vulcan didat least occasionally. But Kirk couldnt be sure whether he was doing so this time. He was just as likely to be deadly serious. With a mental shrug, Kirk turned his attention back to the screen.
Thirty minutes later, he was pulled back from his wandering thoughts when Spock stepped into his view. Kirk blinked and met the Vulcans eyes. "Yes, Spock?" he asked as his cloudy mind cleared.
"Our shift is over, sir." Spock hesitated, then asked, "Would you be interested in a game of chess?"
Kirk smiled and nodded his agreement. The solitude of his cabin held no appeal after the confinement of Sickbay, but he wasnt yet up to the exertion of a workout or a swim. A quiet game of chess, on the other hand, surrounded by the warmth and affection of his friends and crew... "I think Id like that very much," he said finally, then stood and stretched. "How about in an hour? Rec Room Three?"
"That will be acceptable." They took the turbolift to Deck Five and their quarters.
Inside his cabin, Kirk went directly to the sleep alcove. He stripped and let the clothes drop in a pile, then stepped into the sonics. It felt so good, relaxing on his back and neck muscles. He could stay like that forever. When he did finally emerge from the sonics, he was drained of all energy. He stretched out on his bed. with just the towel wrapped around his waist and promptly fell asleep in a cocoon of comfort.
Two minutes before he was scheduled to meet Spock, Kirk work up, startled. His head pounding like a drum, he felt disoriented and still fuzzy. He checked the time, then jumped out of bed, briefly losing his balance but catching himself on the dresser. Gathering his wits, Kirk stripped off his towel and climbed into a uniform.
Minutes later, he stepped into the recreation room to find Spock silently contemplating the chess board. A quick glance at his chronometer told Kirk he was right on time. He sank gratefully into his chair and waited for his heart beat and respiration to slow down to their normal rates, suddenly realizing the wisdom of McCoys advice to take it easy until he had fully recovered from his injuries and illness.
Noticing the red flush on Kirks face, Spock asked. "Are you all right, Captain?"
Forcing a grin, Kirk made light of his exhaustion. "Just got up a bit too fast, thats all." Quickly changing the subject, he added, "Shall we begin?"
"As you wish."
After an hours play, Kirk found that he couldnt concentrate. His thoughts were wondering again. He yawned and shifted in his chair.
Spock reached for a chess piece, then stopped and eyed his friend carefully. "Would you prefer to continue this game at another time?" he asked.
"Hmmm...what was that, Spock?"
"You seem preoccupied."
"Lets stop, shall we?" Unaware that the Vulcan had just suggested exactly that, Kirk placed his elbows on the table, rested his chin in a palm and yawned. "I think Ill just go back to my cabin and get some sleep."
Spock nodded. "We can finished this game at another time," he agreed, not letting on that the had made the same suggestion a moment earlier.
"Later, then." Kirk stood and left the room. Spock watched him go. He wasnt sure Kirk was ready to be released from Sickbay. The doctor may have cleared him to return to duty, but that didnt mean Spock couldnt keep an eye on him. And that was just what the Vulcan intended to do.
By the time Kirk reached his quarters, he was exhausted. It was all he could do to get his clothes off and slip into bed. He didnt even remember his head hitting the pillow.
Morning came with a ringing in the captains ears and a pounding in his head. He rolled onto his back and groaned. He thumbed the BellComm unit, mumbled "Silence alarm," and the room filled with a welcome silence.
Kirk lay still a moment, contemplating his condition. He decided he felt better this morning, so he quickly showered and packed for shore leave. On his way out, he grabbed a bookjust in case he needed some reading material.
With his bag over his shoulder, Kirk headed for the transporter room. As the door slid open, he was confronted with McCoy and Spock. He grinned, unsurprised to see that they both had bags over their shoulders, too. "Is it that obvious?" he asked. "I take it Im not going alone." Still grinning, he mounted the platform, then turned to his friends. "Well, are you coming or not?"
"Yes, were coming," McCoy grumbled as he joined Kirk, Spock following silently behind. With a final glance at his friends, Kirk nodded to the transporter chief. "Energize," he ordered.
As they materialized in a small clearing. "What environment would you like to visit?" Spock asked them.
"Earth. Present time. Summer," Kirk answered without hesitation. "This is nice."
"Id like to find a private cabin in the woods," McCoy added.
They began strolling along the glade theyd beamed down in. They made their way into the lightly wooded forest.
"Warm summer, Spock," Kirk elaborated, "with a secluded lake, good for swimming"
"And fishing," McCoy cut in.
Kirk chuckled appreciatively at the doctors suggestion, and soon they had come upon a secluded wood cabin. They investigated their surroundings. The wooden cabin was practically adjacent to a small mountain lake at the base of a waterfall, trickling down from a jumbled, rocky hill.
"Perfect," Kirk said. "Absolutely perfect."
Inside the cabin, they dropped their packs. Kirk quickly changed into swimming trunks. The others followed suit, grabbed towels and followed the captain out the front door.
Not even testing the water, Kirk dove in, barely registering McCoys warning to take it easy.
McCoy frowned and stepped back to avoid being splashed with the icy water. Still frowning, he watched and waited for the captain to surface. Kirk finally didmidway across the lake...coughing. He turned onto his back and floated, giving himself a chance to catch his breath.
Still watching Kirk, the others inched their way into the water, both shivering slightly from the cold. McCoy eyed his companion in concern, but the Vulcan ignored him.
Grinning, Kirk returned to the lakeshore and splashed his friends. Composing his features into a stern mask, he demanded, "Are you two going to stand there shivering all day, or are you going to get wet?"
Wrapping his arms around his torso, Spock stood his ground. "I prefer to stand."
Kirk responded by splashing them again.
"Will you quit?" McCoy shouted over the splashing. When Kirk just shook his head and continued splashing, the doctor gave in and dove underwater to quickly pop up again. "All right, Spock. Its your turn," he advised. "Once youre wet, your body will adjust to the temperature and it wont feel so cold."
"That is illogical," Spock countered.
"But true," McCoy retorted, then turned to swim toward the center of the lake.
After only a brief hesitation, Spock joined the others in a leisurely swim to the other side. Once they reached the far bank, McCoy turned around and started back without a break. Kirk was standing on the beach, watching. Spock, too, turned around and began to swim back to the shore near the cabin.
"I guess you two arent going to take a break," Kirk called after them, attempting to use the taunt to hide his own need for a rest before completing the swim.
McCoy paused and turned, treading water. "No way. Id rather not have to get wet again," he explained. "Im going back. Ill see you later." McCoy resumed his swimming, with Spock now at his side.
Once on dry land again, McCoy went in to fix lunch and left Spock to watch over Kirk.
As the captain dove into the lake, the ground began to shake. Without hesitation, Spock dove into the cool water and swam rapidly toward Kirk, racing to reach him before the shifting rock from the hill and waterfall crumbled into the water.
Although swimming as fast as he could, Spock couldnt outrace the rock slide. Grazed by a large rock that fell alongside but only fractionally slowing him down, the Vulcan pushed on, knowing Kirk would be exhausted by now and most likely unable to successfully avoid the falling boulders and return to shore unaided.
When Spock was just inches from Kirk, another section of rock fell. It clipped the backs of the captains lower legs, dragging him underwater. Spock dove, chasing after Kirk. Grabbing the captain tightly around the waist, he pulled them both to the surface. Gasping for air, they surfaced.
An apron around his waist, McCoy shouted encouragement from the beach. "Get over here now, you two! There may be aftershocks!" Hed obviously rushed from the cabins kitchen to check on his friends. He held two towels in his hands.
"Spock..." Kirk coughed. "Im too tired...Cant seem to get..." He gasped for air. "...my arms and legs to work," he admitted as they floated face to face. Spock supported him as he fought unsuccessfully to defeat the incapacitation of an oxygen-deprivation-induced headache and the pain in his legs.
"Jim, put your arms around my shoulders and hold tightly," Spock insisted. "I will get us to shore. All you have to do is hold on." Spock moved as quickly as his muscled would allow, taking them both across the lake in record time.
McCoy waded out to meet them, holding out the towels. The ground shook again, violently, almost knocking McCoy off his feet.
As they neared him, McCoy grabbed each of them by an arm and helped them to their feet, then released thema little too quickly for Kirk. The captain moaned as he tried to remain on his feet. He was so light-headed, he thought hed fall flat on his face.
McCoy heard the moan and reached out to steady Kirk. He wrapped a towel around the captain and hurried them to the cabin. Inside, McCoy grabbed an afghan from the back of the sofa, tossing it over Kirks shoulders, and they ducked into a small hallway to avoid falling objects.
By the time the ground stopped shaking, they had been sitting for several minutes. No one had moved or talked. Kirks headache was worse, forcing him to close his eyes against the pain while he shivered slightly despite the blanket McCoy had wrapped around him.
When the earthquake subsided, they returned to the main room, Spock and McCoy supporting Kirk with a hand at each elbow.
"Raise the Enterprise," Kirk ordered. "Have all landing parties beamed up."
Spock raised his communicator. "Spock to Enterprise." He repeated the hail several more times, before turning back to his captain. "No reply, Captain. The communicator appears undamaged; the signal is being jammed."
"Just like the first time we visited this world?" asked McCoy.
Spock nodded. "Indeed."
"Not good," the doctor observed.
"Not good at all," Kirk agreed. "It looks like were stuck here."
Their cabin was wrecked, and it practically took them the rest of the afternoon just to clean much of it up. Leaving Kirk propped against the doorjamb, the doctor attempted to tackle the mess, muttering something about "hare-brained vacation schemes."
Spock, on the other hand, surveyed their surroundings outside, looking for one of the robot units of the Shore Leave planets computer, but couldnt find any evidence they were monitoring the situation. He also decided to try to find any other Enterprise crewmembers in the vicinity, but again failed. After an hour, he returned to the cabin to face Kirk.
"Captain," the Vulcan began, "I believe the seismic disturbance is over. However, we cannot communicate with the main computer to determine whether this seismic activity is natural in origin, nor can we communicate with the ship, nor could I locate any other Enterprise crew."
McCoy stopped his grumbling long enough to stare at Spock a moment. He demanded, "Do you think someone did this deliberately?"
"Unknown, Doctor," Spock replied. "The phenomenon could indeed be a natural one. However, it is quite possible that, given the nature of this planet, a computer malfunction is responsible for the earthquake. It is also conceivable that the events of this afternoon coincided with someones wishes."
"Well, Scotty shouldve begun to worry about an hour ago when we missed our scheduled contact," the doctor mused. "Hopefully hell lock on to our bio-signs and beam us aboard."
"Agreed. Remaining in the vicinity of this cabin will increase the odds that we will be found sooner rather than later."
Ignoring them, Kirk made his way gingerly to a sofa that seemed to have survived better than the rest of the furniture. He collapsed onto the couch, then rose again awkwardly when the backs of his legs brushed against the upholstery. "Bones," he said simply as he swayed on his feet.
Abandoning their discussion, Spock and McCoy rushed to their captains side. Scraped, bruised and sore from the pounding he took in the rock slide and not yet recovered from his earlier injuries and illness as well, Kirk was exhausted. Spock and McCoy helped Kirk to stretch out on his stomach.
Tossing the afghan aside, the doctor carefully examined Kirks new injuries with his mediscanner. After determining that the captain had suffered abrasions, he applied a soothing salve on the painful though minor lacerations that marred the skin on the back of the captains legs.
As McCoy worked, Kirk finally relaxed for the first time in several hours. "Thanks, Bones," he muttered, then fell into a deep sleep.
Satisfied he had done all he could for his friend for the moment, McCoy let him sleep on and turned his attention to Spock.
After tending to the Vulcans more superficial wounds, McCoy continued his cleaning of the cabin. The living room and the bathroom had been cleared of debris, so he started on the nearest bedroom. When he had finished, Spock scooped the still sleeping captain up into his arms and carried him into the bedroom. Gently, so Kirk wouldnt wake, Spock placed him on the bed. Kirk simply rolled over, snuggled down into the covers and slept on.
"Im going to get some sleep, too," McCoy informed Spock, rubbing the back of his neck as he looked around at the mess in the next bedroom. He shook his head. "Just leave the rest for now, and well clean it up in the morning. Night, Spock."
"Good night, Doctor," the Vulcan replied as he left the room for his own. He quickly cleaned the debris from the bed and floor, and positioned himself on the bed to meditate, but soon found himself unusually drowsy.
Sleep came easily for them all.
Morning came much too early for Kirk. The first to rise, he found the headache was back, and every muscle in his body felt stiff, but he wasnt quite as weak as he had been the night before. He shook his head, gently, trying to remember going to bed. Giving it up, he headed for the shower.
When Kirk entered the main living room a few minutes later, he stopped and stared at the perfect order. The place was spotless. The broken trophies and replicas of various weapons that had been destroyed during the quake had been restored in pristine condition to the walls and mantle over the fireplace. Maybe it was a dream, Kirk thought, then a twinge of pain reminded him of his scrapes and bruises. The rocks had been very real. "Bones? Spock?"
As they joined him, they, too, stared at the completely clean room. "What the hell happened?" McCoy asked, puzzled. "When I went to bed, the place was a wreck." He turned to Spock. "Did you clean it up?"
"No, Doctor, I did not."
"Well, then, at least weve got maid service," grumbled McCoy. "If Id known that, I wouldnt have spent all afternoon trying to clean it all up."
"I dont know who did it, but Im grateful," Kirk commented as he moved stiffly over to the front window and looked outside. His eyes widened. "What happened out there?" he demanded of no one in particular. "Whats going on?"
"What do you mean?" McCoy moved to join the captain.
"Spock, come here, please. Can you explain that?" Kirk pointed out the window.
Everything was a blinding white--snow was everywhere. Even the clear blue lake appeared frozen, and the rocks of the waterfall dripped into icicles.
"It is apparent that my second hypothesis was correct; the computer climate program has malfunctioned," the Vulcan replied calmly. He attempted to contact the Enterprise, but again there was no reply. "The ship still isnt responding."
Kirk shrugged and decided to make the best of things. "Break out the snow skis and snowshoes," he instructed.
"Jim, youve got to be kidding!" McCoy said, still staring at the white stuff. "I came here for a sunny vacation, not snow. Besides, Im not dressed for winterand youre in no condition for winter sports!"
"Ill take it easy," Kirk promised. He opened a closet door, and sure enough, three sets of winter sports gear was there. "Looks like the computer is still functioning in other ways."
"We need to stay together, in one place," argued McCoy. "Even I know thats the best way to be found."
"Just a short, easy run across level ground, with Spock to watch over me." He looked at the Vulcan, who nodded his agreement after only the briefest of hesitations. "But I wont pass up the opportunity to get in at least a little skiing. Its been too long." He noted the frown growing on his first officers face. "Besides, we can look for some of the robots and other crewmembers."
McCoy frowned, still unconvinced.
"Doctor, I will endeavor to ensure that the captain doesnt overdo his skiing."
"Come on," Kirk said with a grin. From the closet, he quickly selected a set of cross-country skis, and Spock took a second pair. McCoy just leaned against the door frame, arms crossed defiantly.
Kirk looked back at the doctor. "Come on, Bones." He flashed the quick smile that nearly always got him his way. "Itll be fun. Besides, we can all use the exercise."
"Oh, sure," McCoy drawled. "And Ill just end up having to patch you up again." Giving
up, he grabbed a heavy parka and headed for the outer door. "Ill go get some wood for the fireplace. Ill probably be too busy saving your lives later."
McCoy was picking up logs at the woodpile when Kirk and Spock emerged from the cabin, outfitted with skis and poles. He watched as they fastened on the skis and set out across the ground for a long, relatively level stretch. "Now dont overdo it," he shouted one last warning. "Either of you."
"Dont worry, Bones. We wont go far," Kirk promised.
"Famous last words," McCoy grumbled under his breath as they disappeared into the forest.
Soon a warm fire glowed in the fireplace. McCoy dozed over a medical textbook hed always wanted to read and had never found the time. Amazinglyor more likely, not surprisinglya copy of it was on one of the bookshelves in the room in which hed slept.
A shout from outside woke him with a start. McCoy jumped up quickly, toppling the textbook to the floor. Grabbing the handle, he opened the door. He was greeted by Spock, arms cradling Kirk. "What the hell happened? Come on, get in here before you both catch cold."
"The captain and I attempted a hill. But, we quickly realized that the hill was not as smooth as we first perceived."
"Put Jim on the couch. So what happened?" McCoy asked, scowling as the Vulcan moved Kirk to the sofa.
"As I was saying," Spock continued solemnly as McCoy began his examination, "our momentum took us down the first hill and up the second. While our velocity increased, we came upon..." Spock paused. "...what I believe Jim called moguls."
"Okay, but that doesnt explain the bump on his head."
"You are correct. The captain received that when he slid into a tree."
Surprised, McCoy asked, "He did what?"
"As we descended the following hill the ground became littered with small hills and dips. Jims feet went out from under him, landing him on his posterior. Because of his momentum, he kept on sliding. He slid directly into a patch of small trees. He managed to avoid the first few trees, but it become more dense. He came to a halt when one leg was snagged by a small tree and his body wrapped around another tree. That was when his head collided with a tree trunk." Spock looked on as McCoy worked.
"Well, according to my mediscanner, Jim has a grade three concussion. And Ill bet one hell of a headache."
Just as McCoy said his last words Kirk groaned. He winced as he opened his eyes. "Where am I?" he asked, still dazed, suddenly trying to stand.
"Now hold on there," the doctor ordered, placing a restraining hand on the captains shoulder. "Just where do you think youre going?"
"Bones, Im okay." Avoiding McCoys blue eyes, he added, "Really. Im fine."
"Ill be the judge of that," McCoy retorted.
"Can I please sit up?" the captain implored.
"I suppose, but youre not moving off this couch." McCoy grabbed one arm and Spock took the other as they pulled the captain up.
"Ugh," Kirk moaned. He closed his eyes to fight back the nausea that accompanied the movement.
"Better?" McCoy asked.
"Yeah," Kirk winced as he touched the bump.
"Thats going to hurt for some time. Do you think you can walk to your room?"
Kirk frowned, asking, "Why?"
"Because, I want to give you something for the swelling, but the only thing I have may knock you out. I think youd rather be resting in your bed than here on the couch."
"But, Bones," he complained, "Im fine."
"Yeah, I know you are. Now, are you going to walk to your room or does Spock have to carry you there?"
"All right, Im going." Slowly he rose on legs he doubted would hold him. Only his clinched jaw showed he was in pain as he moved down the hall into the first bedroom.
"Now climb into bed," McCoy said as he pulled the blankets back.
Pushing the hypo home, the doctor waited with Spock until Kirk was asleep, then turned to the Vulcan. "He needs to be awakened every two hours. If he has trouble focussing, or experiences nausea, Ill need to check him again. You want first watch or last?"
Understanding the need to monitor Kirks condition through the rest of the day and the night to come, Spock chose the first watch. Through the ensuing hours, he and McCoy alternated turns keeping watch over their captain, checking to see that his sleep remained natural, waking him from time to time to ask him who he was, and making sure he didnt deepen into a life-threatening coma.
When not monitoring Kirk, Spock and McCoy variously passed the time reading the extensive library the cabin had, preparing and eating their evening meal, meditating or just contemplating the soothing sight and sound of a crackling fire.
Sometime after midnight, McCoy jerked awake to find only embers remaining in the living room fireplace. A quick check of his chronometer revealed it had been more than six hours since he had relieved Spock. Pushing to his feet, he stretched his stiff back and made his way to Kirks room, grumbling en route something about, "That damned fool, stubborn, pointy-eared Vulcan..." He stepped down the hallway quietly.
"Why the hell didnt you wake me?" McCoy demanded in a harsh whisper as soon as he had opened the door.
Spock lifted one eyebrow. "I saw no reason to disturb you, Doctor," he answered calmly. "As a Vulcan, I do not need as much sleep as"
"Bull!" McCoy interrupted. "Youre only half Vulcan. Besides, I need to check Jim periodically."
"His condition is unchanged," Spock offered in reassurance.
"Damn it, Spock. Im the doctor here." McCoy stopped himself when he saw the cold mask slip over the Vulcans features. He sighed. "Look, I know youre just as worried... er, I mean, just as capable as I am of monitoring his vital signs, but..." He lifted both hands, then let them drop in frustration. "Its just that Ill feel better if I check him myself every few hoursjust in case."
Spock nodded once. "Very well, Doctor. I will get some rest and then relieve you in three hours."
Morning came with a crack of sunlight streaming through the drawn curtains. "Thats very odd," Kirk said as he arose and crossed the room to look at the stream of light. The top of the drape was bright, but the bottom was dark.
"Holy shit," he whispered, then called to the others. "Spock! Bones!"
McCoy had dozed off, and awoke with a start. He fell out of the chair and landed with a thunk on the floor, dropping the medical book on the wooden floor. "Jim!" he started. The doctor took one look at the window and gasped. "My God. Will you look at all that snow?"
"There was a blizzard during the night," Spock noted matter-of-factly as he entered the captains room.
McCoy rushed out into the living room, toward the front door.
"No, Bones!" Kirk called behind the rapidly departing doctor, but it was too late.
McCoy yanked open the front door before the others could stop him. "Oh, my God," was all the doctor could come up with before he stood hip deep in snow.
"I tried to stop you," Kirk chuckled as he and Spock came to stand at the edge of the snow on the wooden floor. "Come on. Lets get this snow outside." Using a couple of shovels found in the closet, they moved the snow out of the way and managed to push the door shut.
Leaning his back against the closed door, Kirk rested. "Now all we need is a Saint Bernard. Spock, fun is fun, but this is getting old. Cant we do anything to contact that damned computer?" he snapped, then sighed. "We cant go out that way." He jerked his right thumb over his shoulder to indicate the door. "Wed be chest deep in snow."
"Agreed," said McCoy, his teeth chattering as he warmed and dried himself by the fire.
"Its clear that theres been a malfunction, and its also clear to me that the ship cant locate us for some stupid reason." Kirk winced as his own voice increased the intensity of the pain in his head.
"Jim, why dont you sit down?" McCoy suggested, placing a supporting arm around him.
Kirk accepted the support. "Weve got to find a way out of here before this weather kills usliterally!"
Spock took a deep breath. "I have attempted to contact the robots and other members of the crew, but I have been unsuccessful. I even attempted a mind-reach last night, but was unable to make contact with the planetary computer. Our communicators do not function, and Mister Scott has been unable to retrieve us."
"Irritation, Spock?" Kirk queried with a slight grin. "Well, keep trying." He lightly rubbed his forehead. "In the meantime, at least its warm in here."
"Yes, Bones, what is it?"
"We dont have enough firewood. How do you suggest we go get it?" He watched as Kirk closed his eyes and rubbed them.
"Damn! This is some shore leave." The pain Kirk felt echoed in his rough tone. "I suggest we dig a path through the snow; we can go through the window in my room where we can start higher up than through the door." He pushed himself back to his feet and opened the closet door, where they found the necessary tools. "Well, at least the computer is getting some of it right."
Back at the window, Kirk suggested, "Ill go out first."
"Absolutely not, Jim!" McCoy practically snarled.
"Captain...Jim, in your present condition I do not think it would be wise for you to exert yourself more," Spock protested.
"Youre damned right it wouldnt," McCoy agreed.
A quick look at each of them, and Kirk sighed. He knew hed already lost. "All right Spock, you go first. Youll have to throw the snow up over the top."
"Yes, Captain, I understand," Spock said as he slipped past Kirk.
"Spock, be careful," Kirk called after him.
With a nod Spock slipped out the window into the powdery snow. He landed about waist deep, then went to work.
Ignoring the warning glare from McCoy, the captain followed Spock into the snow with shovel in hand. "Ill shovel the next layer of snow. About a half meter, and then you can do the rest, Bones. We dont have to go all the way to the ground. All we have to do is get through it."
McCoy clamped his mouth shut, knowing Kirk was likely to expend more energy arguing with him than if he just let him shovel a while. The doctor decided hed let his friend work a few minutes, then, when he tired, it would be easier to coax him back inside.
Kirk paused as he wiped the sweat off his forehead. He did it carefully, trying not to let the others see. The exertion was making his head pound like a drum in his ears, but he wasnt giving in to it. He took a step backward and disappeared.
"Jim! Shit!" McCoy shouted. "Spock, Jims down!" He shouted loud enough for the other side of the planet to hear. He dropped his shovel and dug with his gloved hands. Spock was right at his side. Together, they dug for what seemed like forever.
"Spock, Ive got his jacket," McCoy pulled.
"Hang onto him, Doctor." Spock scooped out snow.
They sighed in relief as the snow finally gave up its prize into Spocks waiting hands. "Jim! Jim!" McCoy shouted as he gently shook him. "Come on, Jim. Talk to me."
Kirk gasped for air, coughed several times. He was soaking wet and shivering from the cold. He opened his eyes.
"Come on, Spock. Lets get him into the cabin."
"Lets get you out of those clothes." McCoy said a minute later when they were again safely inside the cabin. "Here," he offered a warm blanket. "Put this around you and lie down on the couch."
"My head feels like an army has marched through it." He clutched his forehead. "And there appear to be a few stragglers."
"Here," McCoy handed him some pills, "take these for the headache." He placed another blanket over Kirk. Shaking a finger at his friend, the doctor said, "Remember, Jim, youre not exactly recovered yet. So dont push it."
Wrapped up in blankets on the couch, Kirk grinned. "You know what?" When he didnt get an answer, he continued, "This is the first time, in a long, long...long time that Ive seen you two work together without being at each others throat." He smiled and closed his eyes, then opened them again when his comment drew no response. "Ive been waiting to see this."
As if realization had dawn upon him, Spock turned with a start, then continued with his work.
Muffling a cough, the captain turned on his side saying, "I think Ill sleep a bit. Spock, youre in charge." As his body warmed, the uncontrolled shivering stopped.
He woke a little while later to a fit of coughing that made his chest ache. When he exhaled, he could hear a rattle in his lungs. He coughed again, then stood up, swaying slightly. Steadying himself, he made his way through the cabin, checking each of the empty rooms.
"I wonder where they are?" Concerned, Kirk put on a jacket and was out the window. He followed the path theyd made and saw McCoy ahead of him. "Can I help?" he asked.
McCoy jumped with a start. "Next time, announce yourself will you, Jim?"
"Captain, I believe the best way to proceed is to remove the snow ahead, making a ramp to the top. The wood pile is only about another two meters from here."
"I agree, Spock. Bones, you take a break. Well have this done in a few minutes. Go on back, and well be in before you know it." He flashed his best, Im okay smile.
"Jim, I dont think that is such a good idea. You really shouldnt be out here at all. Why dont we all take a break?"
"Bones, were almost done. Spock and I can finish it." He looked for support from Spock, but only got a raised brow.
"Okay, but one cough out of you and in you go. All right?"
Kirk nodded meekly.
"If youre not back in fifteen minutes, then Ill come looking." McCoy went back to the cabin.
Exactly ten minutes and several stifled coughs later, they were at the wood pile. "Here, Spock." Kirk handed him some logs. "Wrap the rope tightly around them so we can drag them back to the cabin."
On the path Kirk led the way. He pulled two bundles of logs behind him. Spock followed close behind with another three.
Kirk had to stop as his coughing over took him. When it subsided, he just turned to Spock and smiled at the scowl.
By the time McCoys fifteen minutes were up, they were tossing firewood into the cabin. McCoy then traded places with Kirk and went back with Spock for another load while the getting was good.
Unwatched inside the cabin, Kirk began to stoke up the fire, but he was forced to stop and cough every couple of minutes. His chest was aching more with each spasm.
"I heard that!" McCoy shouted from outside as Kirk fought to control a particularly violent fit of coughing. The doctor frowned as he and Spock entered to find the fire stoked up nice and hot, but he refrained from lecturing when Kirk stretched out on the couch without argument. McCoy sat at Kirks side and ran a mediscanner over him, frowning at the readings. He pressed a hypo home, and the pain in Kirks chest eased. The captain closed his eyes.
McCoy headed for the kitchen, while Spock tried once again to contact the Enterprise. Kirk heard the unusual tremor in the Vulcans voice as he dozed off.
When Kirk awoke, he stood, stretched, and walked over to peer over Spocks shoulder. "Anything, Spock?"
"No, Captain, I am at a loss."
"Then just leave it alone. I dont understand whats going on here, but sooner or later, Scotty will find a way to beam us aboard, everything will be all right."
"Well, he is the miracle worker, isnt he?" McCoy appeared in the kitchen doorway with a tray.
Nodding in agreement, Spock turned away from the computer. He went to retrieve a bowl of soup from McCoys tray for Kirk, and then one for himself. McCoy and Spock settled into armchairs, while Kirk propped up in a corner of the couch. For a moment, the room was filled with just the sounds of three men eating soup.
When they had finished eating, McCoy took the dirty dishes to the kitchen while Spock headed for his bedroom.
The Vulcan returned with his mattress, blankets and pillow. "The temperature has dropped considerably in the bedrooms. It is much warmer out here so I believe we should sleep here." Promptly he lowered his bedding and made it up without a wrinkle.
"Logical, Mister Spock, most logical." Kirk started to rise from the sofa only to be pushed ,back down by McCoy.
"Youll stay right there," the doctor ordered. "Spock and I can take care of things."
When all three beds were neatly made, Kirk stripped off his clothes and quickly snuggled into his bed. The doctor changed into thermals, as did Spock, and both men climbed into bed. Soon they were all sound asleep.
A loud hacking cough woke McCoy and Spock. McCoy went to get his mediscanner while Spock helped the coughing captain to sitting position.
"Did this just start?" McCoy asked as he ran the instrument across Kirks chest.
Between coughs, Kirk answered. "I woke up coughing. I couldnt seem to get my breath."
"Sit him up, Spock, but hold onto him. I want you to cup your hands, and pound him firmly on his back. Itll help clear up some of the congestion."
Spock did as he was told. He clomped Kirks back in a rhythmic pattern.
McCoy pulled a hypo, set the dosage, and administered it. The coughing spasms seemed to subside a bit. "Better?"
Kirk nodded as his eyes began to close in sleep. Spock gently lowered him to the pillows. Glancing up at McCoy, he asked, "How serious is the infection?"
Unsurprised, the doctor explained, "According to my readings, Jim has pneumonia again. He has a low grade fever. Most of his pain is in his chest."
Spock didnt miss the worried look that quickly disappeared from the doctors face. "There is something you are not telling me," the Vulcan stated.
With a furrowed brow, McCoy added, "I dont have much left in this kit for this type of infection, there wont be anything Ill be able to do about it. Spock, we have to get him back to the ship. The sooner the better."
"Doctor, if you will stay with Jim, I will continue to work with the communicator. Perhaps I can run the three in series to boost their power. It may be our only hope of getting out of here in time."
"Sure, Spock. Ill leave the communicators in your capable hands. This," McCoy pointed at Kirk, "is more my field."
McCoy and Spock grew more concerned each time Kirk woke in a coughing frenzy. His fever had risen, taxing the strength he needed to fight off the infection.
"Spock?" McCoy called. At the Vulcans response, he continued, "Im going to get some cool cloths to bathe him with. Maybe I can lower his temperature that way. Would you get some more blankets?"
Spock left the disassembled communicators and returned after a moment with the requested blankets. "Doctor, I will lift up Jim so you can remove the damp blanket."
McCoy nodded. He unwrapped Kirk and placed a dry blanket across him. The doctor placed a cool cloth on Kirks forehead. He couldnt help but hear the raspy sound from Kirks lungs as they struggled for air.
"Leonard, is there anything more that I can do?" the first officer asked.
"Just get the damned communicators working," he snapped, then added more gently, "Sorry, Spock, I didnt mean anything by that. Im just worried that we might not get out of here in time. Jims fever is still rising. Weve got to cool him down."
"May I suggest we fill the bath tub with cool water and put him in it?"
"Good idea. Ill go get it ready. Stay with him in case he wakes." McCoy relinquished his post to Spock.
"Spock, Im ready," McCoy called from the bathroom a few minutes later.
Spock gently gathered the captain into his arms. With McCoys help, he lowered Kirk into the tub. The sudden change in temperature woke the sick man. His eyes opened, but he was disoriented. As his body temperature dropped slightly, Kirk fell back to sleep.
After about ten minutes, McCoy said, "Spock, I need to change the water. Would you get the blankets, please."
"Spread two on the floor. Set Jim on them, and Ill wrap them around. Sit down and hold him for me."
As soon as Kirk was situated, McCoy emptied the tub and began refilling it.
A fit of coughing drew his attention back to Kirk. Spock clomped the captains back more; the action seemed to ease the spasms.
McCoy reached for his kit and a pain killer. Noting Spocks unasked question, he said, "Its just a pain killer. At least I can try to help with that a little longer. I dont have anything else left." He opened the medikit, and stared in surprise. "Well Ill be damned."
"Doctor?" asked Spock.
He snorted and then sighed. "I dont believe it. My medikits been restocked. Ive got everything I need to treat him."
"Fascinating," said the science officer. "This confirms my suspicions. The planetary computer is functioning fully. The robots are supplying all our needs: snow gear, shovels, medication."
"And these events? This weird weather?"
"The captain has been unintentionally causing them to be manifested. A short time ago, he expressed the idea that hed wanted to see us work together as we have been for a long time. Circumstances have become such that he has, indeed, gotten his wish."
McCoy nodded. "His subconscious probably triggered the snow, and who knows, maybe he was wishing for some excitement when the earthquake struck. Well, at least his fever is dropping, but weve still got to get Jim out of here." Apologetically, he added, "Sorry, Spock, I can handle this now. Why dont you go back to the communicators. If I need your help Ill shout."
Morning came without notice. They had moved Kirk back into his room where it was cooler. Spock had made some more broth. They propped the half-conscious Human up in his bed.
"See if you can get some of the soup into Jim. He needs the liquid, and itll give him some strength."
"Leonard, may I suggest that you take a break?" He noted the weary lines around the doctors eyes. It had been a long night for them all. "I will stay with Jim. There is more broth."
"Okay, Spock, I could use some food. Ill be in the kitchen if you need anything. I just wish we could raise the Enterprise and go home."
"Scott to Landing Party," came a voice over the communicators.
Spock quickly made his way into the living room to find that the communicators had been reassembled, and that all three were functional. "Spock to Enterprise. Come in, Enterprise."
"Enterprise here. Go ahead, Mister Spock. Are you three ready to return from your leave?"
The doctor and the first officer exchanged incredulous looks. "Mister Scott, whats the status of our landing parties?"
"All present and accounted for, sir," came the chief engineers voice.
"Was there any loss of communications with any of them?" Spock asked as McCoy went into Kirks bedroom.
McCoy stepped into the living room with a healthier-looking Kirk leaning on him. "None, Scotty?" the doctor asked. "You heard from us, then?"
"Every six hours, per regulations, Doctor."
"Logical," said the Vulcan. "Mister Scott, please beam us aboard immediately. Have a gurney standing by to transport one of our party to Sickbay."
"Aye, sir. Energizing now."
In Sickbay, the captain still coughed, but there was a difference: It was faint and diminishing quickly. As Spock walked in the door, McCoy said, "Hell be fine, Spock. Ive pumped him full of antibiotics, and the fever is inching its way down."
Just then, Kirk opened his eyes to regard his friends. "Hello, Bones, Spock."
"Hi, Jim! How do you feel?"
"Better...tired, I think." Turning to Spock, he asked, "Howd we get back? Did you get your communicator to work?"
"It was the good doctors remedy that cured the problem."
Kirks eyebrows rose in surprise. "So, Bones, what did you do?"
With a smug grin, McCoy replied, "I just wished we could call the Enterprise and go home."
Kirks mouth grew into a broad smile. "Shouldve thought of that earlier..."
"Most illogical," Spock protested.
"Thats probably why you didnt think of it first," McCoy countered.
The smile on Kirks face was growing by the second as he watched his friends argue, the return of their mock animosity quickly reassuring him as to his own improving condition.
Hed gotten his wish, too.
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