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Posted July 29, 2009

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Fan Fiction: Acquired Care

Title: Acquired Care

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Disclaimer: Property of Roddenberry, Paramount, JJ Abrams, etc. Alas.

Rating: PG-13.

Summary: Leonard waited until Jim had finished shutting down the comm connection, then announced his presence with a cleared throat. 1600 words.

Spoilers: Star Trek XI (2009)

Notes: Immediately follows "But Not Jim Kirk" and "The Wrong Place at the Wrong Time". Contains a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference from Diane Duane's Trek novels.

Leonard waited until the kid had finished shutting down the comm connection, then announced his presence with a cleared throat. "Any more calls you've got to make, or are you ready to come quietly?"

Jim started a little in his chair, then laughed ruefully as he turned toward the door of the captain's ready room. "Sorry, Bones. I know Pike said you were waiting for me, but I just--" He trailed off, making a vague explanatory hand gesture toward the console.

Fluent in Kirk-ese by this late date in their friendship, Leonard sighed and didn't bother ripping into him about the dodge. Better to save the effort for when Jim might listen, and when they weren't both worn threadbare already. Jim really should have heard him come in during that last call... and the wall Leonard was leaning against really shouldn't feel as comfortable as it did. No help for it, though.

"I heard about Gary," he said, deciding to ignore the fact that it had been the face of Winona Kirk, not Lieutenant Mitchell, he'd glimpsed on the tiny screen. Jim was pretty close-mouthed on the subject of family at the best of times, even to Leonard; best to let him open the topic in his own time. "Figured you'd want to get in touch with him."

"You mean Pike ratted me out," Jim replied, with a weary smile that didn't reach his eyes. "Yeah, I called him. He's on the Constitution-- God knows why, I'll have to dig it out of him later-- and thought I was on the Farragut, too." He paused there, expression more troubled than Leonard had been expecting, and frowned off into the middle distance.

"And?" he prompted, not bothering to correct Jim's assumption.

Jim looked up again, laser-bright blue eyes flickering over Leonard's face as if searching for something. "And-- nothing. I'm just-- damn lucky in my friends. I don't tell you that often enough, do I?"

No, he didn't, not outright; but the thanks was there in every over-familiar 'Bones', every bright grin as he clapped Leonard on the shoulder, every Friday evening spent out drinking with him rather than with one of his casual hookups. Leonard still didn't know what had led the other cadet to befriend him in the first place-- other than the fact that they'd been the only two misfits in a shuttle full of fresh-faced new recruits-- but he knew himself to be damn lucky, too; as bitter as he'd been when he'd joined up, he didn't know where he'd be now if he hadn't acquired Jim to look after.

"Flattery will get you nowhere, Jim," Leonard replied, gruffly. "You're not getting out of this checkup."

Jim snorted, then did that thing with the eyes and the lips that he insisted wasn't a pout (goddamnit, Bones), then finally sighed and stood when Leonard refused to dignify it with a response. "Flattery gets me everywhere-- just not with you. All right, all right. I'll call Sam later."

Leonard swallowed back more questions-- Jim mentioned his brother, George Samuel Kirk Jr., even less frequently than he did his mother-- and gripped his shoulder, pushing him gently toward the door. Sulu looked up from his station as it swished open, and watched them cross the bridge; Jim nodded to the Lieutenant and kept walking toward the turbolift. "Mr. Sulu, you have the conn; I'll be in Sickbay."

"Aye, sir." Sulu's eyes tracked to Leonard, then; and he didn't think he was imagining the grateful concern in the pilot's eyes. He, and that excitable kid Chekov, were anchoring the bridge this shift; Spock and Uhura would be back up later, not that any of them were actually sleeping much in their off duty hours. All of them gave their Acting First Officer worried eyes whenever Leonard was around to catch them at it. He didn't blame them. It still curdled his stomach, thinking about how young the new department heads were, and how many people were depending on their keeping it together for at least the next few days. Especially Jim. None of them had been prepared for this.

Reminded of his conversation with Pike, Leonard sighed. "I gave a copy of the casualty lists to Chapel," he murmured as the lift doors separated them from the curious eyes of the bridge crew.

Jim furrowed his brow at Leonard a moment, then nodded, expression clearing as he gripped the wall control. "The counseling thing, right. Good idea. Pike gave me a copy at lunch; I'll talk to Scotty, rig some kind of display for the memorial service. Or-- should I be talking to the Chief of Recreation, since we'll be holding it in Rec Room One?" He paused, frowning. "Do we even have one yet?"

"One what? Chief of Rec?" Leonard blinked, trying to picture the officer in charge of that subdepartment in his mind's eye. He knew Recreation fell under the Medical umbrella, but hell if he'd had a chance to acquaint himself with anything to do with that area since he'd come on board. "I think so; Lieutenant-- Tanzer?" he hazarded, picking at the memory of the personnel files he'd barely skimmed over since Dr. Puri's death. "Man's a genius with holograms, if I remember right; I caught a guest lecture of his at the Academy a couple of years ago."

And now he was Tanzer's superior officer. It boggled the mind.

"Good," Jim nodded, abstractly. "I'll track him down, then; Scotty's got enough to do already."

Leonard knew that tone; Jim was already off and running again, mentally if not physically. Half the idiot's most frustrating behavior seemed to come from that habit; it wasn't that Jim didn't intend to take care of himself, he just always somehow found 'more important' things to do.

"Later," he stressed, as the lift came to a halt.

Jim sighed, but didn't argue. "Later," he agreed. Then his expression grew mischievous, and he threw a sidewise glance at Leonard as they strode into Sickbay. "Speaking of Scotty. Did you happen to get lunch yet?"

Leonard grimaced, ushering him toward a biobed. He'd seen the unpalatable-looking 'meals-in-a-bowl' Jim had carried in to Pike, but it hadn't really registered that those were all that was available until he'd gone for food himself. "I take it he's to blame for that-- culinary travesty?"

Jim chuckled. "Sorry, Bones. We had to strip the replicators for repairs. There's just enough circuits left to program the simplest, least objectionable recipes in the system. We've got some fresh food aboard, but not nearly enough-- we launched in a hurry, and we weren't expected to be away from dock long enough to need much. I'm having the cooks save what there is for the wake tomorrow. And in the meantime-- at least the stuff's nutritious, right?"

"Right." Everything made by the food replicators was, just like synthehol was incapable of actually impairing a sentient being's nervous system; that was no accomplishment of Mr. Scott's. The point wasn't worth arguing, though; Jim was right, at least Leonard could be sure the crew were getting adequate nutrients, if they were eating at all. One less thing to worry about.

And now for the next thing to worry about. "Now, hold still."

Slowly, he raised the medical tricorder's scanner wand and ran it over Jim's head and torso. He watched his friend take several deep breaths, indulged in a little unscientific poking and prodding, and finally nodded in grim satisfaction. According to the readouts, the worst of the injuries to Jim's throat, ribs and hand were healing nicely, but there was still a lot of surface damage he hadn't sat still long enough to repair before, not to mention the miscellaneous minor aches and pains produced by muscles and tendons stressed in ways they weren't supposed to.

"Well? Will I do?" Jim asked, arms crossed as he leaned back against the biobed.

"Not so fast," Leonard shook his head. "Shirts off; I'm going to clean up some of these cuts and bruises now, unless you happen to think purple and green are a good match for your dress uniform."

Jim groaned, glancing toward the door of Sickbay as though already calculating an escape route-- then sighed, reaching up to touch the ring of bruising on his cheek. "Shit. My mom saw me like this, didn't she? I can't believe she didn't say anything."

"Well, you can bet your ass the reporters will, if they get their hands on an image of you like this," Leonard grumbled. "Not to mention 'Fleet. You're their golden boy hero of the moment; better be prepared to look the part."

"Don't remind me," Jim grimaced, then reached for the hems of his shirts. His breathing hitched a little as he removed them; Leonard was already reaching for a hypo by the time his clenched jaw came back into view. It would dull the pain-- and incidentally knock Jim out while the finicky, tingly dermal regenerator did its thing.

Jim bore the jab with stoicism, then settled back on the biobed, watching Leonard with an irritated, affectionate look until his eyelids drifted shut.

Leonard watched him right back, feeling even more prickly and protective than he usually did around the obnoxious young genius who'd somehow set up shop in the middle of his life, then shook his head and went to work.

Taking care of Jim Kirk was a full time job-- but someone had to do it, and it might as well be him. At least that way, when anything went wrong, he knew exactly who to blame.


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