"It's fine, it's fine, I've gotcha," McCoy is saying. Jim struggles to process what's happened as the sounds of explosions and the ship falling from the sky and engineering sirens merge into a dull roar that gives way to the sound of his own blood throbbing in his head. His mottled black and red vision clears, and he comes to himself sitting on the edge of his hospital bed, dragging each breath in and out.
He shudders as a chill passes through him. "That can stop any damned day now," he says, running a shaking hand over his face.
"It will," McCoy assures Jim as he takes readings and watches the wall display. "That's the first one you've had all day."
"Yeah." At a pause in McCoy's proceedings, Jim has a drink from his waterglass to wash the imagined taste of blood from his mouth; unfortunately, his hand proves unequal to the task of setting it back down. McCoy is just in time to catch it. "Dammit," Jim mutters, working his fingers.
"Hey." The sharpness in McCoy's tone draws Jim's attention, and he finds the doctor's eyes to be every bit as hard as his voice. "Go easy on yourself. You've been awake for a whole week."
Jim sighs and looks elsewhere, nodding in agreement. He reminds himself that no matter how drained the blackouts leave him, they're not a setback.
McCoy leans in with yet another device and starts running it along Jim's skull. Jim watches the numbers and graphs and lines that have become part of his life change colors in response to what they find, and says, "You shouldn't be spending all your time on me."
"Oh, I'm not. Why do you think I've got Spock and Nabara in here torturing you so much? I have important things to do, most of them not involving my friend the madman who fixes warp cores with his bare hands."
"I kicked it back into place."
"Whatever." The scanner chirps when it slides across Jim's neck. "CNS function's up. That's good. Probably also why you passed out."
"Passing out's good now?"
"Look who's a comedian." McCoy sets the scanner aside and pulls out the injector Jim has come to dread the most: steel gray, labeled with his name in Spock's neat, precise handwriting, and filled with a viscous, cloudy solution. "Ready?"
"No." He takes a deep breath, lets it out, then nods. As always, the shot is painful in the extreme, and his free hand grips the side of the bed so hard his knuckles go white. It's fast, though, and once it's done the throbbing sensation that radiates along his arm fades quickly. (The first time McCoy and Spock had needed to hold him down; his nerves were so new they were overreacting to the slightest stimuli, Spock told him.)
Jim moves to lay back on the bed without bothering to ask for permission, and McCoy helps him get into place. "When does my bone marrow finish growing back?" he asks for what feels like the fifteenth time. The nausea and dizziness from the shot are already clawing at him.
"Another week. After that, we can start tapering the dose. It shouldn't hurt so much then."
"A week," Jim echoes. As McCoy puts things away and checks the equipment strewn around the bed, Jim says, "Thanks for doing this."
"You're not gonna be thanking me once we get your physical therapy started."
Jim laughs, but he's so winded it comes out weak and voiceless. "No, I mean--I mean thanks for being the one who does it."
McCoy goes still, looking at Jim with a gaunt expression the likes of which he's only seen a handful of times. "You really think I'd leave you to someone else?"
Jim glances towards the wall for a distraction. "I think you have plenty of reasons to."
McCoy snorts and sits down on the edge of the bed, crossing his arms. "Maybe. Or maybe I'm enjoying torturing you with horrible shots and want to make the most of it."
Jim's eyes meet his. "Even if you are. Thank you."
McCoy grunts. "You wanna thank me? No more running into warp cores without a radiation suit."
"I was thinking of aiming for 'listen to your Commander and Chief Medical Officer'." His voice is a murmur.
"That's probably more thanks than I deserve." Dizzy as he is, Jim's certain he see a vulnerable look on McCoy's face for a handful of seconds. Then the doctor is clearing his throat and standing up. "But I'll take it, since I did resurrect you and all."
"You had help."
"A little." McCoy turns for the door. "Get some rest. Nabara'll be in to take you on a tour of the deck in couple of hours. You can have some lunch after that."
"Broth and pudding and jello?"
"Do well enough on your walk and you might get a thin soup."
Jim doesn't bother to mask his sarcasm. "Sounds delicious."
McCoy rolls his eyes at him and quits the room. Once the nausea fades, a nap steals over Jim, blessedly dreamless and calm.