On the fifth night, he develops a massive fever.
Nyota's been visiting in the evening, ostensibly because she's busy, though in reality it's because she wants to be able to vent at Jim without prying eyes. (And the fact that he can't interrupt her with his ridiculous excuses takes some of the edge off of how rattled she's feeling.)
"You have to make it through this," she informs him the first night. "You didn't see what he was like when he thought you were dead. And if after all of this you die anyways, he's going to be devastated, and it would be just like you to leave me to clean up after your damned mess, but you don't get to do that this time." She manages not to cry through considerable effort.
By the third night she has most of her irritation at him off her chest and is down to updating him on what's going on. It's almost soothing to sit there and talk at him, relating her own version of events.
It's his fifth night in a coma and she's well into telling him the story of how difficult it was to get the Enterprise back to being space-worthy and docked to Starfleet 6 when one of the monitors chips.
"So, Spock gives Sulu the bridge, and goes down to engineering to..." The formerly green numbers reading various vitals have turned yellow. Out in the hall, she hears someone approach, and one of McCoy's attendings comes in. She's an Orion, short for her people and with a boyish haircut.
"Did he move or wake up?" she asks, pulling out a tri-corder. Nyota shakes her head, and the doctor--her coat identifies her as Nabara--starts a scan. Once it's done, she frowns at what the readouts on the wall display, sighs, and calls over her shoulder, "Mattie. Wake him up."
Nyota leans down to hiss at Jim, "Don't you dare."
By the time McCoy arrives the readouts have various orange warning labels on them. He's working on what Nyota is positive isn't his first cup of coffee. He nods at her and goes to examine the results of the last scan while Dr. Nabara starts a fresh one. During it, she glances up at Nyota.
"Ma'am, you might want to wait out in the hall."
"No, it's fine," McCoy says, his eyes still on the data. Dr. Nabara looks to him, then Nyota, then nods and goes back to her tri-corder.
In truth, Nyota's not sure if she should stay. Normally she'd be home by now, and she's certain that once Spock returns from the Enterprise, if he doesn't find her there, he'll know why.
Kirk's temperature readout turns red. Even with her limited medical knowledge, the number puts Nyota's teeth on edge. McCoy curses and tells Nabara, "Get the kit," and she sends what data she's collected to the computer before hurrying out the door.
"His BP's up, he's got a hell of a fever, and his heart's pounding." He adjusts settings on the various instruments that feed Jim a steady stream of whatever's necessary. "The fever's the bad part, considering he doesn't even have an immune system of his own, and the shots are engineered to prevent this kind of thing."
Nyota takes a breath to steady herself. They'd known this would be, at best, a shot in the dark. "Khan's blood?"
"Could be. Or could be something else. Infection, maybe." Dr. Nabara returns with the 'kit' in question: a blue, hard-sided case with medical labeling in numerous alien languages. After translating a few, Nyota determines it's to help combat the fever. McCoy draws a blood sample and trades it to Nabara for a vial of something clear and sluggish.
"What do you do if this doesn't work?" Nyota asks as McCoy loads the solution into an injector.
"We get a little more old school," he gives Kirk the shot and watches the monitors, "and put him in cryo."
A full cryo tube doesn't turn out to be necessary; instead, they make due with a liner. Though the kit's various solutions prevent the fever from going up, McCoy's not happy with where it's hovering, and when Kirk's vitals don't improve further they pull out a white and silver bag and slide it around him. They zip it to mid-chest, hook it up to a line set into the wall, and in a handful of minutes are rewarded with a few ticks down in his temperature and a less nerve-wracking pulse. Out of the corner of her eye Nyota sees Dr. Nabara sigh with evident relief.
Spock shows up shortly after that. The warnings are still orange, and McCoy is staring hard at the lab results. The doctor's posture says he knows who's just come in the room, yet he doesn't turn around, maybe to let Spock assess the situation (and Kirk, face flushed and sweating, lying in a casing not unlike the one he'd laid in, dead, just under a week ago).
Nyota moves to stand next to Spock and takes his hand. He holds it tight for several seconds, then lets go. "Have you isolated the cause of the fever, doctor?"
"Reaction between our miracle serum and the immune boosters," McCoy replies, tapping a few graphs and data tables so they'll blow up larger. There's cellular images as well, with green and blue arrows pointing out items of interest; Spock's eyes flick here and there as he studies the micrographs, picking out a variety of details. Presently Spock nods at him, and McCoy gathers up the tables, images, and some notes he's made with a gesture on the wall's surface, saying, "Biotech'll have to mix up something custom." He taps a handful of panels, and the lab order flickers, then displays a blocky, bold 'Sent' message before shrinking into a corner of the screen. "They should be able to get it to us by tomorrow morning." McCoy pauses, glances out the window, then corrects himself. "*This* morning."
"If I can be of assistance, doctor, I would be glad to do so."
McCoy turns around and folds his arms. "Because you don't have a thousand other things to do. Have you even slept in the last three days?"
"I could ask the same of you."
McCoy gives Spock a more sour, surly look than usual. Nyota touches Spock's shoulder, and he glances back at her, then to McCoy. "I only mean, doctor, that I am well aware all of Starfleet's staff is stretched thin. If the molecular biotechnology officers could make use of my help, I am glad to give it."
A staring contest ensues, and Nyota waits in silence, because this sort of thing was always inevitable. As one of the few Commander-or-better officers still alive, Spock is needed in every avenue. Pulling him from those duties so he can see to something specific to Kirk isn't fair to the rest of Starfleet, and as a doctor, that's the very sort of thing McCoy would be keenly aware of.
McCoy gives in first with a sigh, and shakes his head, muttering something unflattering under his breath. "Talk to Jan Reddy, he's the one heading up that team right now. I'll tell him to expect you." McCoy downs the last of his coffee. "And don't be a jackass at them just because it's about Jim."
Spock blinks at McCoy, surprised, then recovers his composure. "Thank you doctor."
"Yeah yeah." McCoy gives the instruments a black look, then heads out of the room just as Dr. Nabara comes in. "Wake me when it's ready," he tells her, and she nods, then he disappears down the hall.
Spock watches Kirk for a short time, then turns to Nyota. "You should go home and rest."
She raises an eyebrow at him, knowing her expression alone will explain what she thinks of that. His mouth forms a thin line, but she's unwavering, and he gives up in short order. (She suspects it's because he doesn't mind the thought of someone being there.) He takes her hand and squeezes it, then kisses her on the forehead. She smiles at him, which he returns with a softer expression than he's shown in days, and quits the room at a ground-eating pace.
When Dr. Nabara steps out for a moment, Nyota leans down to Kirk once more and says, "Nice try."