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"glass right down the middle"

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Jul. 10th, 2009 | 11:57 am
mood: worried
music: "Fingal's Cave", Mendelssohn

Title: glass right down the middle [1/4]
Fandom: Star Trek XI.
Characters: everyone, with focus on Kirk and McCoy, with a hefty dose of Sulu.
Word Count: ~7877
Rating: 12(ish)
Summary: “He still doesn’t like Jim going down to alien planets on his own, and it’s not just because of the whole I’m-the-Captain-hear-me-roar-and-watch-me-get-my-ass-handed-to-me thing that Jim’s got going on.” But sometimes you’re so focused on the danger to others that you forget about the danger to yourself. Kirk/Bones.
Warnings: language, some potentially disturbing imagery
Notes: inspired by this prompt on st_xi_kink. Sequel(ish) to sealed by a fragile touch and fingerprints of forgotten memories. The [1/4], as always, is provisional. Also? You guys are going to kill me. I'm going to Greece in about fifteen hours, and I'll be there with no Internet access for two weeks. So, there won't be any more for two weeks. *hides*

glass right down the middle

It’s become a routine of sorts.

Except not a routine, per se, because that has a distinct air of domesticity to it – and Bones doesn’t do domesticity any more. He might live, share meals and sleep with Jim Kirk, but they are decidedly undomestic. Which, if it’s not a word, is now, Bones decides. They live on a starship, for God’s sake, and utterances of the words “I love you” are few and far between.

Domesticity, Bones thinks with a curl of sarcasm, and glances at the chronometer. Jim’s late.

Which just brings him back to the routine-domesticity thing again. It is not domestic, no matter what Christine Chapel wants to think: it’s just a habit – when Jim pulls alpha shift and Bones pulls beta, Jim comes by at fifteen-hundred hours, stays for ten minutes or so, and then heads out to do captainy things or—more likely, Bones thinks with a half-fond smile—go spend his off-hours socialising with his crew. Which, he’s well aware, Jim would argue is a captainy thing – integral to crew morale, he’d say, with laughter dancing in his blue eyes. Bones thinks he just likes the company.

Bones retrieves a padd from his desk, and glances at the chronometer again. 15:14. He scowls, just a little.

Chapel pauses in the open doorway to his office, and gives him a pointed look.

He flushes, and turns to the padd in his grasp. He’s not domestic, damnit, because domesticity and Leonard McCoy do not mix well. His ex-wife can tell you that. It’s not his fault that he’s been assigned to beta shift for a month, and every day Jim just happens to turn up at fifteen-hundred.

Bones fights the urge to hide behind his padd. He’s not sure when he became quite so immature, but he’s fairly certain Jim has something to do with it. Jim has something to do with everything.


Think of the devil. He absolutely does not jump. Calmly and rationally, like the mature adult he is, Bones puts down the padd and looks up – and has to suppress a smile. “Jim,” he says, and quirks an eyebrow. “You’re late.”

“Late?” A smirk affixes itself to Jim’s lips. He pads into the office and slouches his way into the chair opposite Bones. “What, you were expecting me?”

Bones scowls. “No,” he answers snidely, “just some other cocky bastard with more ego than brains.”

“You wound me,” Jim says dryly.

“Yeah, well.” Bones switches the padd off, and settles into his chair. “What kept you?” he asks, and the sharpness in his gaze just dares Jim to make a smart comment – because this is as close as he’s going to get to admitting that yeah, this is a routine, but it’s their routine, and that makes it acceptable.

There’s an affectionate curl to Jim’s lips. “Spock,” he answers easily. “Collared me in the mess. The Heirans’ve requested that a Federation delegation—” Jim breaks off, and grins. “Hey, that rhymes.”

Bones gives him a look that quite clearly says, My God, Jim, how much of a child are you?

Jim just continues to grin his favourite disarming grin. “Anyway,” he says, “Starfleet’ve requested that I take a diplomatic party down at oh-nine-hundred tomorrow morning. It’s for some thank-you function, I think. Spock informed me of this in the mess just now, which is why I’m late.”

Bones frowns. “How long is this function going to last?” he asks.

“A fair time,” Jim answers, and laces his fingers together over his stomach. “Spock thinks we’ll get back to Enterprise about nineteen-hundred-ish.” He quirks an eyebrow. “You going to miss me, Bones?”

“Hardly,” Bones answers flatly, although he can’t quite quiet the little voice in the back of his mind that whispers that yes, he will miss him, because he likes their not-routine, and because he still doesn’t like Jim going down to alien planets on his own, and it’s not just because of the whole I’m-the-Captain-hear-me-roar-and-watch-me-get-my-ass-handed-to-me thing that Jim’s got going on. “Just figuring I should probably calculate the risk per minute of you getting yourself killed,” he continues, and doesn’t let the illogical concern that’s roiling in his gut flicker onto his face, “and then factor that in to the number of hyposprays that’re prepped tomorrow.”

“Ha ha,” Jim deadpans.

“And anyway, the Ambassador’s not going to like that,” Bones points out. “He likes your visits. Says they make his day interesting.”

Jim frowns. “Great.” He balls his fingers into a fist and bounces it lightly against his thigh. “Surely, it’s his planet I’m getting dragged off to. Penn can’t mind that, can he?”

Bones shrugs. “Jim, the man’s stuck in Sickbay for another week,” he explains, “and you of all people should know that sends even the most rational people a little stir-crazy. You stopping by breaks the monotony. Add that to the fact that my staff actually have jobs to be doing, and so can’t exactly stop and have a gossip, and you’ve got a Heiran with a bad case cabin fever.”

“Okay, okay,” Jim says. “I get the point.” He rubs at his eyes, and then shoots Bones an accusing look. “When did you get so expert in Heiran psychology, anyway?”

Bones fights the urge to roll his eyes. “It’s not Heiran psychology, Jim,” he acidly points out. “It’s common sense, born of experience.” And if he falters on the word ‘experience’, he likes to think that Jim doesn’t notice. The isolation might be radically different, but it’s still isolation.

“If you say so,” Jim answers, and pushes himself up. “In that case—if you won’t miss me too much, Doctor—I think I’d better go speak to the Ambassador now. Explain things.”

Bones decides not to comment on the if you won’t miss me too much. “Don’t excite him too much,” he says, and figures he may as well tag along. “He’s healing, but still. The shrapnel tore up his insides something crazy, and I don’t want to have him using up beds in my Sickbay longer than he has to.”

“Nice bedside manner, there, Bones,” Jim comments wryly.

“Which is why I’m saying it to you, and not to him,” Bones shoots back, and follows Jim out of his office.

He’s not sure why he’s been assigned beta shift for this month—Spock dealt with the rotation schedules, this time, not Jim, so he can’t harass the other man about it—but most of the time, Bones is glad. Beta is certainly less crowded than alpha, and he likes the space. Add that to the fact that they’ve been cataloguing star systems for the past six weeks, and some shift rotation is definitely a good thing. The ability to sleep in is pretty damn nice, for one thing, and Bones has found that the ship is different during alpha shift – not bad, just different. Quieter, because alpha is the biggest shift, and that’s quite restful, at times.

The quietness, in fact, is pretty much a ship- and shift-wide constant right now. As a result, Bones just knows something big’s going to kick off soon.

“Ambassador Penn,” Jim says, and there’s a tickle of warmth and respect in his voice.

Penn’s stretched out on a medbed, his tattooed skin still pallid beneath the black ink, with a Heiran datapad balanced on his rotund stomach, and at Jim’s greeting his features break into a wide smile. “Captain!” he hails (and ‘hails’ is the right word, Bones reasons, because his voice is loud as a goddamn foghorn), and waves the pair of them over. “And Doctor McCoy! My, it’s my lucky day.”

Jim’s lips are spread in an honest smile. For that, Bones supposes, he can forgive Penn the decibel level. “How are you feeling today?” he asks, and his boots tap smartly at the Sickbay floor as he moves to stand beside the medbed. “The doctor tells me I shouldn’t excite you too much,” he says, voice lower and mock-confidential, but pitched at such a level that Bones can hear him perfectly, “so I guess that means no more of your... special requests. The vids’ll have to wait ‘til you’re back on your feet, I’m afraid.”

Bones rolls his eyes, and checks Penn’s vitals. Why is he not surprised that Jim turns a serious medical issue into a crack about porn?

Penn chortles, and Bones reflects that ‘chortle’ is the perfect word to describe the throaty, good-natured laugh that erupts from the Heiran’s lips. “Well then, Captain,” he says, and his voice is a pantomimed stage whisper, “I shall have to cut back on the vids you’ve already supplied me with. Although they do help to pass the time.”

Bones jerks back from the medbed’s sensor display, and frowns. Jim wouldn’t actually supply Penn with—

Penn chortles again, and fixes Bones with an expansive smile. “I’m just playing with you, Doctor,” he says. “Your captain’s not that irresponsible.”

Bones raises an eyebrow. “I’m sure,” he says, and flicks the medbed back to its automatic touch on Penn’s stats. He’s fine – recovering, with a hefty dose of painkillers still circulating in his system to counteract the side-effects of the Heiran ability to self-heal (given time and inclination).

Penn smiles, and turns back to Jim. “Well then, Captain,” he says, and pats Jim’s arm companionably. Bones might’ve missed the flicker of worry across the Heiran’s features, but the medbed registers the slight hike in hormone levels as clear as day. Bones is no expert on Heiran physiology, but he figures that’s roughly parallel to human adrenaline. He doesn’t blame the man. “Any news about the status of my home?” Penn asks.

Jim nods. “Some,” he answers. “Your government’s fully cleared of all those with proven links to the perpetrators of the recent attacks, and those who are suspected of the same are under pretty heavy surveillance. The ringleaders have been apprehended and are awaiting trial.”

Penn’s smile is so full of relief and gratitude. “Wonderful,” he half-whispers, and squeezes Jim’s arm again. “I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done, Captain – and our planet is not even a member of your Federation.”

Jim shrugs. “We’re not going to ignore you when you’ve got terrorists blowing up your major cities for no reason other than sheer destruction,” he assures, “just because you’re not in the Federation.” He smirks, but it’s playful and respectful, all in one. “Consider it an incentive to join, I suppose.”

“Ah, bribery,” Penn sighs. “Captain, I thought you would have been above that.” But it’s just a joke, because Bones recognises the curl of Penn’s lip as the same curl that he uses when he’s play-flirting with Chapel.

“Not bribery,” Jim stresses, and he’s smiling. “Just incentive.” He leans closer, and his voice takes on that conspiratorial twist, just like before. “And anyway, my superiors wouldn’t be too happy with me if I didn’t take every opportunity to impress you with just how beneficial the Federation is.” He glances up at Bones, and there’s a laughing, teasing sparkle in his eyes. Bones’ stomach twists at the sight, because that sparkle has been rare in the last few weeks. “Isn’t that right, Bones?”

Bones clamps down the urge to smile, and to smile openly and frankly so that Jim gets just how much he’s glad for his happiness. Instead, he just says, “Yes, Jim. You’re a martyr.”

That earns him a knowing smile from Jim—damnit, the man can read him like a large-print padd—and a laugh from Penn. “I might not miss your Sickbay, Doctor, when I am well enough to be returned home,” the ambassador says cheerfully, “but I think I will miss your sense of humour.”

Bones has to try not to smile at that, too. Penn’s been in Sickbay for a week now, after an emergency transport up from Heira’s capital city after a crude explosive device sent ragged shards of metal slicing into his body, and damnit if the man doesn’t grow on you. “I’ll keep that in mind,” he answers, and he can feel the smile tugging at his lips – so he lets it show, if only a little.

Jim’s got that knowing look on his face again. “Ambassador,” he says, “I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.”

“Oh?” Penn asks, and he adjusts himself on the medbed.

Jim nods. “Much as I enjoy your company,” he begins, and there’s a flash of diplomacy and subtlety in his words that Bones can’t help but be impressed by, “I’m not going to be able to come by tomorrow. Your government’s invited me down as a thank you, and Starfleet’s insisted that I attend.”

“Oh, that’s a pity,” Penn says, and there’s a barely-perceptible slump to his shoulders. “I enjoy your company, Captain, but I suppose that duty calls.”

Jim settles his hand on the other’s shoulder. “We’ll be back around nineteen-hundred,” he placates, “and if Doctor McCoy agrees, I’ll try and stop by then. Bones?”

Is Bones really going to refuse that? He adjusts his stance, leaning against the end of the medbed, and damnit if Penn doesn’t look pleading. Cabin fever, he reminds himself, and thinks about sand and suns, because he knows isolation first hand, damnit. “If you feel up to it,” he answers defensively, “and if the captain hasn’t managed to get himself killed.”

Jim smirks. “He’s overprotective,” he confides to Penn, who smirks.

Bones figures that saying, With good reason, you over-confident bastard! would be a bad idea. He settles for a disapproving eyebrow-lift.

Penn chortles again, and pats Jim’s arm. “Thank you for telling me, Captain,” he says. “I shall do my best not to miss your conversation too much.” Jim glances briefly at Bones, and there’s amusement in his bright eyes. Bones doesn’t blame him. “If it wouldn’t be too much to ask, though,” Penn continues, “could you possibly ask Hikaru to stop by, if he has time? We were having an interesting conversation about the finer points of comparative botany between Heira and Earth before my little accident, and I’ve been eager to continue it. He’s quite knowledgeable – especially for a helmsman, and it’s a favourite hobby of mine.”

If Jim’s phased by the fact that Sulu is apparently ‘Hikaru’ to Penn, he doesn’t show it. Stranger things have happened, after all. “I’ll have a word with him,” Jim promises. “I’m sure he’d be happy to.”

Penn’s face relaxes into its familiar grin, and he retrieves the datapad from his ample stomach. “This is why you’re my favourite,” he says cheerfully, and then glances to Bones: “No offence, Doctor.”

“None taken,” Bones answers automatically, and raises an eyebrow at Jim.

Jim just smirks, the cocky bastard.

Penn’s fingers are surprisingly agile over the datapad, and he glances up to Jim. “If you don’t mind, Captain, I’ll have to bid you farewell,” he says apologetically. “My niece has just sent me a somewhat-frantic letter, and if I don’t respond soon she will assume I have passed on and drive her husband insane with dramatic exultations of grief.” Jim’s expression is amused, and the ambassador waves a hand. “She does that,” he says half-dismissively. “It’ll be fine. Until next time, Captain?”

Jim smiles. “There’s always something keeping us apart, isn’t there, Ambassador?” he quips.

Penn chortles. Again, and Bones decides that he’s got to stop thinking that word. “That there is,” he sighs. “Thank you, Captain.”

“My pleasure,” Jim answers, and there’s that little crease of skin around his eyes that tells Bones that it was his pleasure. Jim gives Bones a quick nod, and then pads back to Bones’ office.

Bones gives the medbed’s sensors a quick once over, and then glances back to Penn. “You in any pain, Ambassador?” he asks, because there’s only so much sensors can actually tell you.

Penn looks up from his niece’s message. “Not at all, Doctor,” he assures. “Your medication is working wonders for the healing process – so much easier to knit bone when you can’t actually feel it.”

Bones half-smiles at that.

Penn gives him a knowing look, and then turns back to his datapad. “Kiss the dear captain for me, would you?” he requests neutrally, a grin playing around his thin lips, and begins to tap in a message.

Bones doesn’t want to know how the Heiran figured them out. Sneaky bastard, he thinks affectionately, and follows Jim into his office. The captain’s made himself comfortable in Bones’ chair, and, now that Bones actually looks at him, there’s the faintest trace of dark smudges under his eyes, and Jim’s hair is tousled in that distinctive way it gets when he’s been running his hands through it. Bones frowns, just a little. “You okay, Jim?” he asks, and settles himself in the chair that Jim should rightly be sitting in.

Jim looks like he’s considering a bit of creative subterfuge, but then his shoulders slump and his lips twitch slightly. “Tired,” he says simply. “The situation down on Heira’s not as simple as I made it out to be. There are still bombs going off in the centre of Dair, and one of the security details I sent down was attacked three hours ago. Only minor injuries, but still. Those goddamn terrorists seem to have turned their attention to us instead of the Heiran government.”

“Why didn’t you tell the ambassador that?” Bones asks, and there’s a curl of incredulity in his voice. “Jim, he’s not going to be so happy if he finds out you lied to him.”

Jim smiles, just a little. “I didn’t lie, Bones,” he answers. “I just didn’t mention the fact that the capture of the ringleaders doesn’t seem to have stopped the bombs.” He rubs at his eyes. “And I didn’t tell him because you told me not to excite him. Worrying isn’t going to help him recover – you know that better than I do.”

Bones shouldn’t be quite as surprised as he is that Jim actually listened to him – and he figures it’s probably telling that Jim doesn’t take the opportunity to impress upon him just how much he should be regaled for that listening. The dark smudges are painstakingly stark against Jim’s softly tanned cheeks. “Get some sleep, Jim,” he says gently. “You can’t help anyone if you’re run off your feet.”

Jim’s expression is pained. “Bones, I can’t. There’s too much—”

“Jim,” Bones interrupts firmly. “Don’t make me make it an order. Spock’s on beta, and he can take care of anything that comes up. He might be green-blooded and pointy-eared, but he can do his job. So go. Get some rest.” And he pauses. “We both know that you barely slept last night,” he continues, softer, because they both also know that that has little to do with the situation down on Heira. Finnegan Forde, Bones thinks, and remembers the lawyer’s late-night transmission, and tries not to let a curl of anger and regret twist that name.

Jim’s body is apparently intent on Bones’ side in this, because Jim has to smother a yawn. “Damnit, Bones,” he says, and suddenly there is tiredness in his voice.

“Yeah, just because I’m right,” Bone says easily. “Go on. If you’re not sound asleep by the time I get back, I’m hypospraying you into next week, and the ambassador might find himself with a companion in Sickbay.”

Jim flashes him a crooked grin, but there’s acquiescence in his smile. “You have an unhealthy relationship with hyposprays,” he observes.

And Bones smirks right back. “Jealous?”

Jim laughs, and pushes himself out of Bones’ chair. “Fine,” he says, and pads round the desk. “I’ll see you later.”

Bones pauses, just for a second, but he can’t help the affection that surges in his gut at Jim’s sleepy expression. “Jim,” he says, and stands, and he can’t believe that he’s actually going to follow Penn’s advice.

“Bones?” Jim asks, and blinks heavily. The exhaustion is catching up with him all at once, Bones realises – if he doesn’t get to their quarters soon, he’s going to fall asleep in the corridor.

Reckless idiot, Bones thinks with a greater degree of affection than he’d ever admit, and lightly presses a kiss to Jim’s lips. “Don’t wear yourself out,” he says, and Jim knows him well enough to know that he’s not speaking as Doctor McCoy right now. “You can’t do everything, okay?”

Jim looks surprised, and licks his lips. “Did Penn tell you to kiss me?” he asks.

Sometimes Bones forgets quite how perceptive Jim Kirk can be. “Bed,” he instructs, and waves Jim out of his office. He stands in the doorway to his office, and watches his captain until he’s out of the doors.

From across Sickbay, datapad resting once more on his stomach, Penn gives him a jaw-cracking grin.


“Bones. Wake up.”

Jim’s not surprised when Bones merely grumbles something unintelligible (but that sounds startlingly like his favourite damnit, Jim) and rolls over, although he is mightily amused. Bones isn’t a morning person, which is one reason Jim knows that Bones is enjoying this whole beta-shift thing, even though he’d never admit it – he gets to sleep in. Which is another thing Jim finds amusing.

He shakes him firmly. “Bones,” he stresses.

Bones’ flailing hand smacks him in the side of the face, and he has to suppress a laugh. Jim catches the hand and curls his fingers around the wrist, and then just holds it, with the pad of his thumb brushing softly against Bones’ palm.

Finally—finally—Bones cracks an eye open, his free hand still shaded across his forehead. “What’re you doing, Jim?” he asks, voice thick and slurred with sleep.

“Trying to wake you up,” Jim observes.

“Beta,” Bones replies, and yawns.

“Yeah, well.” Jim’s grip on Bones’ wrist tightens, just a little. “We’re heading down to the surface in ten minutes.”

There’s a sudden glint of sharpness in Bones’ gaze. “Heira?”

“No, the other planet we’re orbiting.”

“Shut up.” Bones’ fingers flex in his grip, and his eyes are dark in the half-light. “Be careful,” he says, and there might still be sleep and quiet in his voice, but Jim can feel the need and worry and affection there, too.

Jim presses the back of Bones’ hand to his cheek, and the warmth seeps through him in a flurry of emotion. “It’s not Risa,” he says softly, because he’s not blind – he sees the way Bones watches him, sometimes, like he’s a fucking china doll that might break at any time, and then there’s how Bones’ fingers will linger over the ring of dashed scars on his hip. Bones worries. After the silence of those fucking awful weeks, Jim doesn’t mind.

Now, Bones’ eyes are quiet and heavy. “Still,” he says, and it’s a single syllable that carries so much.

“Yeah,” Jim says softly, and he glances up at the planet’s yellow-blue smear outside the window, “I will.” He looks back down to Bones, and tries for a smile. “Spock’ll keep an eye on me,” he offers.

Bones tugs his hand free from Jim’s grasp and turns it round – his palm rests against Jim’s cheek, and his fingertips curl into his hairline. “He’d better,” he says simply.

Jim nods, and he licks his lips in a nervous flick. “Bones—”

“Jim,” Bones says over him, and there’s amusement and intensity curled up together in his gaze, and the seriousness is past. “Go. You’re gonna be late, and I need my sleep.”

Jim quirks a grin. “Love you too,” he quips.

Bones smirks, and tugs his hand back down to curl across his chest. “I know,” he answers, and yawns.

Jim pats Bones’ bare stomach playfully. “I’ll stop by Sickbay at nineteen-hundred,” he says, “and check up on the Ambassador.”

Bones snorts out a laugh. “You do that,” he says, and wriggles the covers further up his hips. “Have fun playing diplomat.”

Jim grins, and levers himself up off the bed. “I will,” he answers, and watches as Bones settles back in for a longer sleep. And then he grins to himself, grabs the sheets that’re pooled around Bones’ waist, and yanks them off the bed, leaving Bones sprawled bare-ass naked in the middle of their bed. Jim then legs it out of their quarters, with Bones’ sleepy and indignant shout loud in his ears.

He’s still smirking when he reaches the transporter room.


Goddamnit, Scotty, Bones thinks ungraciously, and damn near drops the dermal regenerator back into its place. A quick glance at the chronometer tells him it’s pushing fifteen-hundred, and he sags back against a medbed, and is silently half-thankful that Jim’s not going to be wandering around today, because he doesn’t think he could take that on top of everything else right now.

Bones rubs at the bridge of his nose, and wonders whether he can ban Scotty from those goddamn experiments. Warp matrix augmentation is all well and good, but when it goes wrong – and shrouds half of engineering in flames, it’s not quite so good.

“Whoa. Doctor?”

Bones drops his hand. “Sulu,” he says, and blinks. “Tell me you’re not injured.”

“No, I’m fine,” Sulu answers, arms folded and one eyebrow quirked. “Just so you know? It’s a mess in here. You should probably see to that.”

“Funny,” Bones answers, and he intends it to be deadpan but it just comes out breathless. “Blame Scotty. He’s the one who landed half the engineering beta shift in here with second degree burns.”

Sulu winces. “Nice. Another experiment gone wrong?”

“That’s what they tell me,” Bones says. “Gaila assured me everything’s under control.” The sceptical twist to Sulu’s lips tells Bones exactly what the helmsman thinks about that idea. He huffs out a laugh. “Yeah, I know.” He forces himself to breathe, and then focuses properly on the other man. “You here for the ambassador?”

Sulu nods. “The captain asked me to stop by.” He shrugs. “When he’s not got a stomach full of metal, Penn’s a nice guy.”

“Yeah, I hear you two were discussing botany, of all things,” Bones answers, because he really doesn’t want to think about a stomach full of metal right now: it’s not that he’s squeamish or anything—he’s a doctor, not some wilting rose—but a stomach full of metal just reminds him that Jim’s down on Heira’s surface, and he could be getting a goddamn stomach full of metal of his own any minute now.

Sulu nods again, but there’s eagerness and excitement in the movement, now. “Chlorophyll pigmentation, specifically,” he corrects, and Bones tries to hide the fact that his lips twitch upwards at the younger man’s enthusiasm. “It’s yellow instead of green, and that’s done all sorts to botanical growth – and the development of the infrastructure of those who depend on it. They’re a vegetarian race, y’know, and—” And Sulu cuts himself off, and looks half-sheepish. “And you don’t really care, do you?”

“Not in the slightest,” Bones says cheerfully. “The ambassador’s in the medbed at the end, behind the curtain.”

Sulu tosses him a joking salute. “Thanks,” he says, and slips off into Sickbay.

Bones closes his eyes, just briefly. He’s not tired, per se (although he could use Scotty not blowing engineering up on a regular basis, because second degree might not scar like third, but it’s still goddamn nasty to treat, especially when you’ve got a human male with eighteen percent of his body burned – and that eighteen percent is right down the front), but there are times when his job gets to him. There are three more medbeds in Sickbay filled, now, along with the one occupied by the ambassador and the one on which Ensign Jyi’q is passed out after getting doused in some aphrodisiac pollen in the science labs, and the sound of breathing whispers over the beep and hum of medical equipment.

He’s still got blood on his hands, he suddenly notices.

Bones runs his hands under the decon unit, and watches absently as the blood flakes off his hands and away for disposal. A quick glance over his shoulder confirms that Farrington’s checking over Mr Eighteen-Percent again, and he winces when he realises that he’s not just Mr Eighteen-Percent – that he’s Nick Reynolds, and he’s Farrington’s on-again-off-again boyfriend.

He goes to join Farrington by the medbed, and lightly touches her shoulder. “Hannah,” he says softly, and she glances up at him. “You okay?”

She smiles back at him briefly, and he doesn’t miss the glimmer of wetness in her eyes. “I’m fine, Doctor,” she answers.

Bones squeezes her shoulder. “He’ll be okay,” he assures.

She flashes him another smile. “I’m a nurse, not an idiot,” she says pointedly. “I know that.”

His lips quirk upwards in response, and he holds his hands up in surrender. “Never said you were,” he teases. And he pauses, and then he hooks a chair with his foot and drags it to rest beside the medbed. “Sit with him,” he says.

She blinks. “What about—”

He raises an eyebrow. “I will order you.”

Farrington sinks into the chair. “Thank you, Doctor,” she says, and it’s honest and genuine and so-very raw.

“Any time,” Bones answers simply, and thinks about Jim.

He checks in on the other two—Hulax and Perkins, he reminds himself: both Crewmen, and both fairly talented, from what Scotty rambled when he told the Chief Engineer they’d have to be kept in for observation—and then Jyi’q, and she’s probably going to come round in an hour or two, and hopefully the aphrodisiac will have dissipated completely by then. Last time she woke, she very nearly jumped Chekov. The kid’s surprise was actually half worth it, Bones reflects. Farrington’s quiet by Reynolds’ side, and Chapel’s borrowed his office for a moment to wind down. He doesn’t mind, and he straightens the dermal regenerator in its case.

There’s a rumble of laughter from the other end of Sickbay, and Bones doesn’t even need to look up to know that it’s Penn, and that he’s apparently found a botanical substitute for Jim fairly easily. Bones imagines that Jim’s ego will just love that.

Bones settles himself on the edge of a medbed, and glances around. The calm after the storm, he thinks wryly.

Except then it’s suddenly, startlingly not, because there’s a fuzz in the corner of his vision, and a low, frantic buzz, and Bones swears that he remembers that fuzz-buzz combination, and it sounds like the Heiran transporters, but that's impossible, surely, but then—

A jagged scar damn near splits this new Heiran’s face in two, seemingly taking the place of the ambassador's swirling tattoos, but the sneer curling his lips is still as bitingly obvious as the overly-large projectile weapon in his hands. Bones feels the sudden push of adrenaline into his bloodstream as sharply as if he’d just stabbed himself with a hypospray, and he’s diving for the comm before Farrington’s even noticed that there’s someone else in the room with them.

There’s a sharp, vicious crack! from behind him, and suddenly there’s a jolt of white hot pain across his cheek and the comm that’s barely inches from his fingers is a shattered, sparking mess. His breath catches in his throat, but he’s still moving, because he might just be a doctor, but goddamnit if he’s going to let some gun-toting maniac rampage through his Sickbay unhindered.

But then the Heiran moves—and moves so goddamn fast, and Bones had forgotten that they’re quite that fucking speedy—and he’s got Farrington by the hair and the muzzle of the goddamn gun is rammed up to her throat. Reynolds sleeps on in drugged unconsciousness.

The Heiran smiles, and its twisted by the scar that bisects his face. “McCoy,” he says, and there’s something almost like a purr in his voice. “Move, and she will die.”

Bones’ fists clench uselessly at his sides, because he’ll risk his own life any day, but Farrington’s just a kid, and fuck, he's not the only one in Sickbay: patients and nurses and Sulu and the goddamn ambassador. “How do you know my name?” he asks shortly, sharply, and it’s keep the hostage-taker talking and keep yourself calm all at once.

The Heiran sneers. Bones wonders if he has any other facial expression. “I know a lot about you, Doctor,” he answers, and Farrington’s hands are pale and shaking. “You and your captain.” And there’s a jagged twist of disdain and hate and loss on Jim’s rank.

Bones can’t help the frown that pinches his forehead. “Kirk?” he asks, and out of the corner of his eye he sees the curtain surrounding Penn’s bed twitch aside, just slightly, just enough to show a flash of gold uniform, and God, Bones hopes Sulu’s not going to do anything stupid.

The Heiran sees it too, and then everything is happening at once.

Bones stumbles backwards with an armful of Farrington as she’s shoved at him with enough force to knock them both back into the medbed, and the Heiran’s moving, running with a small, flat disc in one hand, even as Sulu rounds the curtain with what Bones swears is a lunch tray in his hands—thank God for makeshift weaponry, Bones thinks sarcastically, but really, he’s doing far worse at the moment so he should be grateful for Hikaru Sulu and his lunch tray—and there’s a smash of something small and definitely not Starfleet standard issue breaking on the floor, and Bones thinks it looks like a containment cylinder of some sort, and then the Heiran is running and slamming the goddamn disc down onto the control panel next to the door, and then—

And then every single light in Sickbay goes out.

Fuck,” Bones swears, even if it earns him a startled breath-hitch from the nurse, because he’s the CMO, and CMOs might not be supposed to swear, but Bones knows what the lights going out means. “He’s killed the power.”

There’s a rattling laugh in the darkness, and Bones tries to remember where he last saw Sulu and his lunch tray. “Killed all the power, Doc,” the Heiran’s voice answers, and Bones has to fight to keep himself from blurting out, Don’t call me Doc. “All the power to everything in here and, oh, I hope you didn’t have any critical patients in.” And there’s that laugh again, and Bones can’t help but hope that it’s a goddamn death rattle.

“Who are you?” It’s not Bones, because he doesn’t think he could sound quite that level when he’s got a Sickbay full of patients he can’t see – and he’s fucking glad Jim sent Sulu down. “What do you want?” Sulu continues, and his tone is controlled and calm and would probably earn him top marks in some goddamn Starfleet simulation.

That choking, rattling laugh again, and wait, that is a death rattle – and Bones feels himself shake, just slightly, because he really wants to know what the fuck is going on right now. “I’m a dead man,” the Heiran’s voice answers, and it’s thick and bloody and hissing out of the darkness. “A dead man, just like you, Doctor, and your little boyfriend, and everyone else in this room.”

Jim. Bones’ heart lurches. “What have you done with Jim?” Bones demands, and his voice is tight and low.

The Heiran only answers with that rasping, broken laugh, and Bones’ fists are white-knuckled and then— Oh God, and then there’s a voice that’s struggling for breath and is stuffed full of pain and confusion coming from behind them. “Doctor,” it chokes, and it takes a moment for Bones to place it, because Penn’s never sounded that broken before.


Bones grabs what he thinks is Farrington’s wrist (but might be her hipbone, he doesn’t know, because it’s fucking pitch black in there: space, he thinks) and mutters, “Go see to the ambassador. Now.

And she’s gone, groping along the medbeds and the walls, and Bones is suddenly startlingly alone in Sickbay. But he’s not alone. God, no, because Sulu’s somewhere to his right and the goddamn Heiran is here, too, armed in the darkness.

He forces himself to calm. “What have you done with Jim?” he repeats, because he told him to be careful, and if Spock’s let him out of his sight then the Vulcan’s going to be—

“Everyone in the room,” the Heiran repeats, and he coughs, and Bones can hear the spatter of blood hitting the floor.

Jim isn’t in the room, Bones thinks, and then: Oh. Really?

Sulu clears his throat. “Doctor?” he asks.

Bones can hear the question in the undertone of half-laughter. “Yeah,” he answers, “I think so.”

“I think you’re mistaking me for someone else,” Sulu says into the darkness, and Bones reflects that it’s probably not too good if the Heiran thinks they’re laughing at him.

But there’s no answer, and Bones thinks, Shit, because that can’t be good.

And then there’s a flash of light, and Bones hears Sulu yelp in protest, which he figures is a fairly good idea, to be honest, as his retinas feel like they’re about to explode. But he doesn’t yelp, because he sees Chapel behind the light, a flashlight in her hand and a raised eyebrow that tells him his medical staff have been spending far too much time around Spock.

Sulu’s face is pale in the fluorescent light, but his eyes are dark and sharp and peering into the blackness.

Bones takes a steadying breath, because they’ve got light, now – they’re going to be fine. “Flashlight,” he barks to Chapel, crossing Sickbay as he does so, and she passes him a second – and then he’s turning towards the doorway, flicking the flashlight on and sending light sparking through the emptiness, and he sees the Heiran—

“Oh, shit,” Sulu curses at his side, and he jerks away. “Oh, I think I’m going to throw up.”

Bones doesn’t say anything, because he can’t quite believe that the bloody bag of skin and bones that’s puddled next to the door controls is the same scarred, armed terrorist that had a gun to Farrington’s throat three minutes earlier, but it has to be, because there are the same clothes and the gun on the floor half-in half-out of the skin and fuck, he thinks he might even be able to see a scar on the—

Bones presses the back of his hand to his mouth. There’s a peculiar buzzing in his ears.


It’s Chapel’s shout. Penn, Bones thinks, and turns, and the light slips away from the half-solid puddle of liquidised flesh that used to be a person. Except it doesn’t turn away, not completely, because Bones strides to the ambassador’s side with Sulu a ghost at his shoulder and Penn’s ample stomach is looking a lot less ample and there is pain written across his face. And Bones knows that he’s still on the good stuff.

“Doctor,” Chapel says, and her voice is tight and so very controlled. “What do we do?”

And Penn rasps, and violet blood spatters across his lips and his tattoos, and his eyes are wild as he grasps at Bones’ arm, and Bones tries to ignore the fact that the ambassador’s fingers distort themselves when they come into contact with his uniform. “Don’t—” Penn chokes out, and then his words just dissolve into garbled, bloody choking.

There’s blood in his eyeballs.

Doctor,” Chapel stresses, and in the circle of the light in her grasp Farrington looks white as a sheet.

But there’s nothing Bones can do, because Penn’s fingers are suddenly floppy and empty, and he can feel the loosened bones clacking against one another as they sit in Heiran soup, no longer pinned in place by muscle and tendon, and—

Penn’s dead. But fuck, that’s not just death – that’s goddamn obscene, and Bones can feel his hands shaking with anger and fear, because Penn was a good man, and now—

“His insides have been liquefied,” Bones says simply, because he feels like stating the obvious right now, “but the skin’s left untouched.”

Farrington turns away and quietly retches in the corner.

“Have you seen anything like this before?” Chapel asks softly, and her voice is trembling.

Bones shakes his head. “Not something acting that fast,” he says, and lets out a tremulous breath. “There are some strains of Jovian plague which can do this, but—” He forces himself to calm, because panic won’t help, and he’s the most senior office here. “Fuck,” he curses. “How the hell did this happen?”

Chapel has no answer.

“McCoy.” It’s Sulu, and his voice is peculiarly soft. “You might want to see this.”

Somehow, Bones thinks that he really, really doesn’t.

He pads to stand next to Sulu, and the pair of them are abruptly enshrouded in a pool of bright light. Chapel draws a sheet over the broken mess of flesh and skin and bone that used to be Fingal Penn, Ambassador for the United Peoples of Heira, and Bones doesn’t miss the way the sheet is immediately dotted with violet blood. Bones looks down, down to the floor that Sulu’s not-quite-touching, and his heart is back in his throat – because he suddenly remembers the smash of glass on the floor just before the lights went out.

“That’s—” Sulu tries, but then he breaks off, and his fingers ball into a tight fist.

Artificial light sparks off shards of glass that are shattered in a perfect circle. Containment cylinder, Bones echoes. “Airborne pathogen,” he fills in, and nudges at the broken glass with the toe of one boot. It crunches, just slightly, and grates against the floor. “No residue left on the glass. Maybe spores.”

“Spores,” Sulu echoes, and his voice is choked. Bones doesn’t blame him. “And what happened to the ambassador—”

“Don’t think about it,” Bones says calmly. “Not going to happen. Heiran physiology is significantly different to human. It’s possible that whatever was released has no effect on humans.”

“Possible,” Chapel says, and there’s a curl of fear in her voice which Bones has never quite heard before, “but you know full well it’s not probable.” She’s still next to Penn’s bed, and her eyes are wide in the dimness. “McCoy, the computers and the comm systems are dead. And we can’t let that monstrosity get out into the ship. McCoy, we’re trapped in—”

“Christine,” Bones snaps. “That’s enough.”

Silence wraps itself around them like a blanket, and it’s like Sickbay’s been reduced to two pools of light.

“Wild speculation gets us nowhere,” Bones says, and he’s half-surprised by how level he manages to keep his voice. “Neither does panic. Now, listen to me, all of you. We are on the most advanced ship in Starfleet, and there is no way in hell that we’re going to be left here to rot, okay? I mean, have you three met the captain? You know what he’s like.” And Bones can’t help the fond smile tweaking his lips, because Jim’s enthusiasm and loyalty are definitely going to help in this situation. “He won’t stop until we’re out of here. And anyway, if he does just sit back on his ass and we have to fix all this ourselves, he’s getting physicals scheduled every day for the next month.”

There’s the faintest smile dancing around Chapel’s lips, because she’s witnessed the Jim Kirk avoidance of physicals, which usually involves taking off his shirt and hoping that Bones gets distracted.

Sulu straightens up, and there’s steel in his eyes that marks him out as every inch the bridge officer. Bones wonders what happened to the lunch tray. “What do we do, then?” he asks. “I’m not too keen on the sit around and wait plan, to be honest.”

Bones can relate. “First things first,” he says. “Hannah and Christine, make sure everyone’s stable. Jyi’q should be waking in an hour or so and God knows she’s going to be freaked out by all this, but the others should remain under sedation for a while yet. We don’t have the medbeds, and somehow I doubt tricorders are going to work, so it’s good old-fashioned visual exams, I’m afraid. It’s good practise.”

Chapel’s spine straightens, and she nods curtly, and Bones can tell by the way she avoids his gaze that she’s embarrassed about losing it – but he doesn’t blame her. His own grasp on control is tenuous at best, and it’s only present at all because he’s not thinking about Heira and spores and broken glass, but patients and the way the ridges of the flashlight's handgrip press into his skin and how Jim tugged the sheets off their bed with a laugh when he left this morning.

“Sulu,” Bones says, and glances down to the glass at their feet. “Grab a container and get this secured. There might not be visible residue, but Spock’s probably going to love analysing anything that could be left on there when we get out. Don’t touch them, though. Cover your hands.”

Sulu nods, but his expression doesn’t change. He glances over to Chapel and Farrington, and then asks, with his voice low and tight and just for the two of them, “What’s the probability we weren’t affected?”

“Sulu, I don’t think you want—”

“Doctor,” Sulu interrupts.

Bones holds his gaze, and he can’t help but grudgingly admire the obstinate determination in the helmsman’s expression. “Less than five percent,” he finally answers, and his voice is little more than a whisper.

Sulu just nods. “How long do we have?” he asks.

“Hard to say,” Bones answers, and he’s glad that Chapel and Farrington are discussing Hulax’s status right now, because they can’t hear this, and he’s abruptly glad that the Heirans aren’t Federation members, because otherwise his medical staff would be well aware of exactly everything he knows. “There is a significant difference between human and Heiran physiology, and I think it must be the self-regenerative quality of their bodies which lets this... thing act so fast. That goes down, and the rest of the body is defenceless. They’ve no immune system to speak of – their bodies just let illness take its toll, and then fix it afterwards. As a result, the regeneration centre is—”

“McCoy,” Sulu interrupts, and Bones realises that he’s rambling in the darkness. “How long?”

And there it is: the question that he really doesn’t fucking well want to answer, because it means that they’re on the clock. “Hours,” he says, and silence hangs between them.

Sulu lets out a shaky breath. “Fuck.”

“Yeah,” Bones agrees. “Something like that.”

There’s nothing more they can say. Sulu goes to rifle through cupboards in search of containers and gloves, and Bones snags a sheet from the foot of an empty medbed and pads over to the sealed doors, flashlight held in his clammy grip. His stomach doesn’t roil quite as much as it did when he first saw the Heiran’s broken body, but he still tosses the sheet over him with alacrity, because fuck he doesn’t want to look at blood and flesh and the unmistakable outline of vertebrae stark through the skin of the thigh – because that’s going to be him, soon, with his skull sunk into his stomach and stray bones snapping right through thin skin.

Bile surges in Bones’ throat, and he can’t help but think that it’s fucking ironic that he told Jim to be careful - and yet he’s the one who’s about four hours away from dying.

to be continued

next: [Enterprise to Kirk.]

link | put ink to paper? |

Comments {83}

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from: blcwriter
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 11:56 am (UTC)

You are just cruel. Ugh, so good, and so tense.

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from: vixys
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 12:51 pm (UTC)

:D Thank you. ♥

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from: acetamide
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC)

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Oh, Bones. You'd better be okay.

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from: vixys
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 12:51 pm (UTC)

:D Thanks. ♥

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from: leighblack
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 12:41 pm (UTC)

I'm so excited to see a sequel that I had to comment about it before I've even read the story. This is an awesome thing to wake up to!

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from: vixys
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 12:52 pm (UTC)

:D *hugs* ♥

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from: mijan
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 12:43 pm (UTC)


You *would* do this to me - leave me right about to go to work with THAT sort of cliff-hanger stuck in my head... as I'm about to go into old laboratories with god-knows-what sorts of pathogens and chemicals lying around. Dear god, poor Bones!

And YAY SULU! Thank you for bringing him in! And mentioning his passion for botany. That makes the old-school Trekkie in me happy.

But again... DAMN. How are they going to get out of this one? *wibbles and frets*

By the way - a tiny observational comment, if you'll forgive me for this: It's hard to follow exactly what's happening when the terrorist beams into sickbay. I had to re-read those paragraphs a few times over, because at first it didn't make sense. At first, I honestly thought that the ambassador had gone berserk because there were no Heirans in sickbay other than him, and then there were, with no indication of "beamed in" or "appeared in a flash of light" to show that it's a new guy. It just left me confused.

But other than that... the tension is great as usual. I love your writing. Have I mentioned that lately?

And dammit, I'm gonna be late for work now. :p

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from: vixys
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 12:54 pm (UTC)

Yes, it's my job to be harsh and/or evil about these things - you know that. :D

By the way - a tiny observational comment, if you'll forgive me for this:
Why would I have to forgive you? :D *hugs* And yeah, glancing back over that, I can see what you mean. I might go do a bit of tweaking now, I think.


Don't be late! *shoos* Go! :D ♥

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from: moooleeesssaaa
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 12:54 pm (UTC)

two weeks?! oh the humanity!
excellent as usual & now i wil try to forget this exists for two whole weeks. -_-*

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from: vixys
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 12:55 pm (UTC)

:D *hugs* Don't worry, two weeks'll fly by. Possibly. :D ♥

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from: mellaithwen
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 01:08 pm (UTC)

I had a feeling it was mccoy's turn for the angst (though naturally jim will be angsting like crazy when he finds out)

please don't liquify bones :)
but do continue with your awesome fic!

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from: vixys
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 01:57 pm (UTC)

please don't liquify bones :)
:D Oddest thing I've heard for a while.

Thank you. ♥

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from: lost4aname
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 01:24 pm (UTC)

Holy shit!!

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from: vixys
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 01:57 pm (UTC)

:D ♥

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Defying Augury

from: ennyousai
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 02:15 pm (UTC)

I must be a masochist because by this point I know that every one of your stories is going to effectively rip me apart inside, but I MUST READ THEM. Because you are such an awesome writer.

I still maintain that you need to write a happy, fluffy, sexytimes in space epilogue to this 'verse, though, yes I do.

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from: vixys
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 02:47 pm (UTC)

I still maintain that you need to write a happy, fluffy, sexytimes in space epilogue to this 'verse, though, yes I do.
:D Ah, temptation.

Thank you! ♥

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AQ aka Syredronning

from: syredronning
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 02:15 pm (UTC)

This is a great first part! Suspense and medical stuff and Bones and Sulu cooperating and did I mention suspense?! Great.

And wait, two weeks till the next?!?!?
/kill :P

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from: vixys
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 02:48 pm (UTC)

And wait, two weeks till the next?!?!?
:D Yep, I'm an evil, sadistic girl.

*hugs* Thank you. ♥

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from: missmarie9
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 02:49 pm (UTC)

Holy crap!

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from: vixys
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 03:37 pm (UTC)

:D *hugs* ♥

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from: cedarrapidsgirl
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 02:59 pm (UTC)

Yay! fic from you! I love it, but I hate seeing Bones in trouble. Jim is definitely rubbing off on him! And you're not going to be on for TWO weeks? NOO! *wibbles* I'll miss you! But have fun!

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from: vixys
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 03:38 pm (UTC)

*hugs* Miss you too! And I promise, there will be lots of fic when I get back, that's for sure. :D

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sunlight on your path

from: thistlerose
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC)

Well, have a fabulous time in Greece!

I'll just be here wibbling because OMG. Fabulous as always, and THANK YOU for giving Sulu screen time! I love him and his botany and his lunch tray.

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from: vixys
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 03:38 pm (UTC)

I love him and his botany and his lunch tray.
The lunch tray of doom. :D

*hugs* Thank you! ♥

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the mapmaking sort of cartographer

from: almightychrissy
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 03:46 pm (UTC)

I find myself filled with two conflicting emotions:

1. Fear. Because AHHHH! Scary plague! and Jim will be anguished! and McCoy will have to be all solid and in control even when he's all freaked.

2. Joy. Because there's more of this universe! Also, because there are few things I like more than stories about racing to cure a disease (I have a medical fascination streak a mile wide.) And because this fic will be sooooooooo good.

Love it!

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the mapmaking sort of cartographer

from: almightychrissy
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)

Also, have fun in Greece! I am sure that as a classics geek it will be the bestest thing ever.

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from: hiddenfacade
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 04:33 pm (UTC)

Holy-. Perfect. Fantastic. Awesome. Wonderful. Beautiful. Great. Stupendous. Brilliant.

I love this fic already and its just the first chapter.

Evil, posting the first chapter than leaving for two weeks but I'm still glad you posted it.

Have a safe and fun trip.

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from: vixys
date: Jul. 10th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)

Evil, posting the first chapter than leaving for two weeks but I'm still glad you posted it.
Consider it a teaser? Or just me being evil? *hugs*

Thank you. ♥

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