And, of course, as twisted minds are wont to do, a small bit of story came to me. So I will, of course, impose it upon you. (And then duck.)
Title: Deviated Sequitur
Word Count: 2700+
Summary: Jim Kirk has a well-deserved rep as the most decorated (as in bruises and injuries) captain in Starfleet. Something's gotta give.
It was well into the first year, in the aftermath of the Enterprise's thirty-second mission. Spock could recite all the mission statistics (and did, frequently) to Jim, and Jim had to admit, they were starting to get a little ridiculous.
He was also coming to really, really hate sickbay.
He eyed the ceiling. At the very least, maybe he could talk Ensign Roos and--who was that other artist? Oh yeah, Yeoman Mahindra--into painting a mural on the walls and ceiling in here--it would give him (and everybody else, of course) something to look at other than the goddamn joints in the bulkheads when he found himself flat on his back in here. Again. Most likely soon.
Not thinking, Jim started to reach up to scratch his healing nose and froze in agony as pain exploded like a sonic mine in his shoulder. Thankfully, no one could hear his pitiful moans over the whoop-whooping of the regen machine alarm.
"For gods sake, Jim, can't you lie still?" McCoy came rushing in and fiddled with the regen unit's controls. "This won't take all day...unless you keep making me reset the unit, and in that case, it might. I can make it take as long as necessary, because, dammit, when you're lying here in sickbay, I know you're not somewhere else getting your scapula kicked in. For a second time." He glared at Jim. "I've reserved all your future ass-kicking for us here on Enterprise. I'm just waitin' till you're all healed before it's my turn to whip your butt."
Jim winced a bit. He had a feeling he'd be listening to his own updated stats from Spock sometime soon. "B'lieve me...nobody's more sorry than me about moving." Jim took a shallow breath to avoid jostling his shoulder. "C'mon, Bones, can't you give me something?" He hated sounding whiny, but didn't have the strength to do anything about it. All of his focus was going into pain management.
McCoy frowned, looking worried. "As soon as the regen's done, I can give you the atamax. But until then...." He shook his head. "You and your damn weird allergies and reactions. Keepin' up with them is gonna give me a heart attack one of these days."
Jim wanted to laugh, but knew better than to make the motion. "S'not doing me much good either," he pointed out.
McCoy fussed with things next to the biobed, and Jim closed his eyes, exhausted.
"Here, this should help."
Something cool and damp rested against his face, covering his eyes and absorbing the pain-sweat that beaded on his forehead.
"Thanks, Bones." Jim's voice slurred as he relaxed a bit.
"Three more hours, Jim. Try to rest."
Yeah. Then he was going to figure out just why this kept happening to him, because goddamn it, he'd had enough.
Hiding out in the corridor around the corner from the main conference room, Jim took a deep breath and consciously relaxed his shoulders. This wasn't about his pride, he reminded himself. He accepted he had none left to protect when it came to this subject, so...time to swallow his ego and deal. He was captain of a starship. His responsibilities outweighed any of his puny ego needs.
"Okay." He gritted his teeth and stalked into the room. "Let's get this started."
The entire bridge crew was present, along with various other department heads. Everyone at the table shifted to attention.
Jim slid into his seat and fixed his eyes on his First. "What do you have for us, Spock?"
Spock pushed a button and a chart appeared on the center display.
Jim mentally rolled his eyes. Trust Spock to come bearing PowerPoint to make his case.
"As you can see, to date, the Enterprise has dealt with thirty-three missions, including our current mission star mapping sector forty-two. Of those thirty-three missions, twenty-seven have involved away teams. Of those, fourteen involved stops at current Federation members and thirteen were exploratory missions on new worlds. Out of those twenty-seven, Captain Kirk participated in all fourteen of the Federation planets' away teams. All but one were relatively peaceful--"
Relatively. Jim forced himself not to squirm from embarrassment while remembering the riot that broke out on Grus. After all, it hadn't been his fault at all. He'd just gotten...caught up in it.
"--and the lone altercation was found to be incidental to our arrival, despite the Captain's injuries, and more specifically a function of dissatisfaction with the current government. That said--"
Okay, here it comes, Jim thought.
"--concerning the thirteen exploratory missions, Captain Kirk participated in eleven--"
"Yeah, he had to sit out the other two because of healing injuries," McCoy muttered loud enough for all to hear.
"--and of those eleven," Spock stressed, staring a hole in McCoy, "nine were found to have some type of hostile or dangerous indigenous life form. In each and every case, Captain Kirk was injured by the indigenous life after being unable to avoid detection. Five injuries were minor; the remaining four were varying degrees of serious, with one being life-threatening."
Silence reined while everyone contemplated the statistics, and Jim struggled hard against a desire to slink down in his chair. Instead, he folded his hands together on the table and frowned down at them in a semblance of thoughtful attentiveness.
"Our objective today is to uncover why the Captain seems unable to avoid experiencing such outcomes on away missions, as he has stated he has no intention of avoiding away missions in future and remaining aboard Enterprise."
...as he should. The unspoken words reverberated around the room.
A muscle jumped in Jim's cheek, but he didn't move. Lightly shredded ego was something he'd allow. But only lightly; he had lines nobody better try to cross. After all, Jim was the one who'd called this party together. Even he realized things couldn't go on this way. Something would have to give, and he'd rather it not be him.
Spock continued. "I have drafted a list of pertinent elements," the screen changed to reflect them, "and we will explore each and every one of them in detail." Spock turned to Lt. Commander Giotto. "Commander, as such an item would appear to be most germane to the problem, and you have recently tested the Captain on his proficiency with hand-to-hand, we will start with you."
Seven hours, one lunch and two rest breaks later, everyone sat in silence around the conference table. Spock was frowning down at the table as if it had personally insulted him.
Ha, Jim thought. See? There is such a thing as bad luck, damn all your logic, and I've been plagued by it.
He cleared his throat. "So, Commander, what's next?" he asked, raising his eyebrow. Don't have anything next, do you, Spock? Can't rout out bad luck by committee, as much as I'd like to.
"I suppose," Spock said slowly, "that the next step taken will need to be evaluation in the field, since going over the facts has uncovered nothing of value."
Jim blinked. "What, you mean simply observe me on future away missions?"
"Hardly, Captain," Spock replied, his nose flaring.
There goes the nose...oooo. He's annoyed with me now. Kirk grinned mentally.
"I refer to recreating the conditions in which you've gotten injured in the past. A kind of...experiment, if you will. We are approaching Starbase 37. There is suitable land and atmosphere on the smaller continent of that moon on which to hold our experiment. We can divert there for thirty-six hours without compromising our current mission."
Greaaat. "On one condition, Spock. All department heads are to draft up rotating leave schedules. If we're going to go there, it's going to benefit the crew, too."
Spock nodded. "That is certainly logical."
"Good." Kirk slapped the table and stood up. "I want all leave schedules in my box at least two hours before we dock. Dismissed."
Jim didn't know what was worse: the god-awful heat, the pea-soup called air, or the unrelentingly boring rockscape. For the thousandth time, he wiped sweat off his forehead with his uniform sleeve. "Whoever named this hunk of rock knew what they were doing."
Ascella. Armpit. Well, it was definitely that. He tried not to think of the rest of the crew enjoying shore leave on the Starbase's excellent facilities and felt guilty that eight crewmembers who deserved leave, too, were stuck here on this damn moon because of him. He didn't feel guilty about Spock being here; it had been the damned Vulcan's idea in the first place. He should suffer for it.
Uhura, Chekov and Sulu looked as miserable as he felt, while Spock merely stared at him impassively. The Vulcan took to heart the phrase, 'never let them see you sweat.'
"Okay, the security team playing our hostile locals should be in place by now." Jim sighed, thinking hard. "Sulu, Chekov, you're the fastest. You take point. I want you ready to go on my mark. Since security doesn't know what our exact objective is, the rest of us will spread out and deflect any attention your movements may bring. Everyone in place."
Everyone signaled their readiness and Jim gave the go-ahead. It didn't take long before the game was on.
"Captain, enemy on the move," Spock advised.
"Okay, everybody, circular defense now." That's what they'd done on the last landing party...and it hadn't had such great results for Jim. Everybody else had managed just fine. Naturally. Jim sighed, rolling his neck to try and release tension.
The rest of his team scattered, leaving Jim's view, and he, too, scrambled as quietly as possible over the huge rock formations that littered the area. Up, down, around...it seemed endless in the exhausting heat. It would be easy to get lost, but Jim had excellent directional skills. Sliding down the backside of one huge stone, he halted, breathless, hearing someone approaching from his left.
Whoever it was stopped moving, and silence thickened in the humid atmosphere until finally Jim scooted forward and risked peeking around the edge of the boulder.
And paused. "Uhura?" he whispered.
She was standing with her head cocked to the side, whispering into her communicator.
Three seconds later, Jim's comm beeped. "Commander Spock to away team. This exercise is cancelled. I repeat, this exercise is now cancelled. Away team, report individually to Enterprise for immediate transport on your mark. Spock out."
Jim stared at his comm. What the fuck? "Kirk to Spock. What's going on?"
"All is well, Captain. We have completed our mission. I would prefer to debrief aboard Enterprise."
Completed? Huh. Jim's mind raced. "Fine, be right there." He pushed the locater/ready button on his comm and within seconds, Ascella faded from view as the transporter beam took him.
Jim breathed a sigh of relief as the relatively cool, dry air of the transporter room materialized around him. "Somebody want to tell me what happened?"
"Don't have a clue, Captain," Sulu offered. Chekov agreed.
Jim stepped off the pad and it activated once more, bringing a slightly smirking Spock and an amused Uhura into view.
Jim crossed his arms. "Spock?" he drawled, waiting.
As Spock stepped down off the pad, Jim swore he'd never seen his First look so damn amused. "I believe we have found the source of the problem, Captain. With a little intervention, it should prove to be easily reversed."
The dimmed lighting of sickbay swam into Jim's blurry view. Another surgery under my belt.
"Ah, there you are," McCoy leaned over his bed. "Welcome back, Jim. You'll be healed and up and around in a day."
It took Jim a moment to clear his throat before he could try to talk around the stim unit on his face. "'S fine? 'kay?"
McCoy shoved a straw in his mouth. "Drink some of this, it'll help. Yeah, it went great. Half the problem was a lot of scar tissue build-up along with the deviation of the septum, but everything's clear and straight now. You should have no more troubles. We'll let the stim unit stay on for a couple hours to discourage any bleeding from the area tissue." He grinned. "Who knew all those fights from years past would keep coming back to haunt you forever?"
Great. Fabulous. Although on the bright side, away teams, here I come.
"Oh, and here's Spock." McCoy stepped back and let the First Officer in next to the bed. "No more than ten minutes for now, Spock. He'll need to sleep off the drugs."
"Captain." Spock nodded down to Jim. "We are presently on course and have completed seventy-five percent of our current star mapping. I have detected what appears to be a recently formed neutron star at the far reaches of this sector and would like to divert for two days for scientific discovery."
Thank God for his First...no maudlin sentiment or concern over his physical state, just straight to the good stuff he knew Jim wanted to hear. "Shur," Jim agreed. "Go 'head."
"Thank you, Captain. Also, we have received orders to report to Deep Space Station K-7 in by stardate 2264. I calculate it will take us no more than two standard days at warp three to reach it, so there is no need to proceed until we are completely done with this sector."
Jim frowned. "Kay sev'n?
"We are to perform guard duty for a shipment of quadrotriticale bound for famine-stricken Sherman's Planet. A worthy endeavor, if a bit routine."
Jim grimaced. "Borin', y' mean." Enterprise was the 'big guns' the Federation pulled out when necessary to keep the peace, but guard duty for a load of wheat? That seemed a hell of an overkill to Jim.
"Everything else is proceeding without problems. Bi-annual reviews are due soon. I have forwarded the information to your computer. Also, if I am not mistaken, there seems to be a plan afoot for some sort of...celebration...once you return to duty."
Party time, great. "They jus' wanna cel'brate not havin' th' cap'n with th' mos' injuries. 'S embarrassing t' the' crew." Not to mention to the captain.
Spock's eyebrow went up. "As you say. Is there anything else I can relay or do for you, Captain, before I leave?"
"Nah. Oh, wait...send Uhura here f' me, Spock."
Spock eyed him for a few seconds, then nodded. "Very well. I will report later, Captain." He turned and stepped out of Jim's alcove.
Jim must have dozed awhile. Soft footsteps brought him back.
Jim opened his eyes. "'M awake." His gaze sharpened. "Uhura."
"Reporting as ordered, sir." She gave him the tiniest smug look.
"Uhura." Jim desperately wished he could get rid of the contraption on his nose so he could speak clearly, and be able to sit up for this conversation, but he knew better than to bring the wrath of McCoy down on his head. "I got two thin's to say. One...thank you. I owe y' one, big time. I'm 'pprovin' that leave for th' seminar on Andorr n' addin' two weeks' leave. 'Kay?"
Jim watched Uhura's face freeze in shock, then melt into a slow, pleased smile. "Thank you, Captain. I really appreciate that."
He knew she'd been wanting to go, but had delayed asking for leave for some reason. It tickled him to surprise her with that. It was one of his duties, after all, to make sure his command staff continued with their professional training.
He took a deep breath and narrowed his eyes. "As f' numba' two...if I eva', eva' hear th' phrase mouth breatha' or hear the word deviate on th's ship, I'll know who t' find." He waited a beat. "We clea'?
Uhura had straightened into attention, eyes straight ahead on the bulkhead. "Yes, sir."
Jim stared. He thought he could detect a bit of smirk around the edges of her mouth, but not enough to call her on it. "Good," he mumbled. "Dismiss'd."
"Thank you, Captain."
He caught the tail ends of a grin in her eyes as she nodded at him before turning to leave.
Jim sighed and settled back into the biobed. One really good thing came of all this: at least he could hide under beds now, if necessary, without being detected.
Here's the latest innovations for mouth breathers. Also? YOU WON'T BELIEVE THIS PICTURE. Heh. Yet another mouth breather.