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As the Enterprise sped to its next destination, Spock took a moment to consider the crew’s reclaimed energy. The heavy, draining mood that had been infecting them all since the captain’s disappearance was gone, banished when the shuttle carrying him touched down in the hangar.

It was, for the moment, replaced with nervous concern, because Kirk had taken all of three steps off the shuttle before passing out. In retrospect Spock felt responsible for not expecting that and insisting the captain be loaded onto the gurney from inside the shuttle, and made a point to commit that option to memory. Still, the surgery needed to remove the suit had gone smoothly, and at last report his vitals were strong. The warships the alien vessel had been fleeing were nowhere in sight, and nothing else had arrived to harry the Enterprise before the laid in their new course and jumped to warp. Everything was as good as it could be considering the previous three months.

Or so he thought, and then Dr. M’Benga asked him to come to MedBay. The doctor didn’t sound upset over the comm system, but Spock felt the bridge crew stare after him as he left. He had to put effort into staying calm on the turbolift ride down.

There was no sense of alarm in the MedBay, and the nurses, technicians, and physicians moved about their tasks with unhurried efficiency. This assuaged his fears to some degree; surely if anything was wrong with the captain, he’d be hearing about it at the top of McCoy’s lungs.

After finishing up with a nurse, Dr. M’Benga came to greet him. “Thank you for coming so quickly, Commander.”

“Of course, Doctor.” Despite no evidence to suggest it, he asked, “Is there a problem with the captain?”

“The captain is fine. Dr. McCoy, on the other hand, isn’t.” M’Benga nodded over at his counterpart, who was standing at a wall of test results with Kevin Riley from Biotech. Riley was gesturing and talking while McCoy listened with a grim face and folded arms. Spock knew, on the instant, what this would be about, because McCoy’s entire demeanor was one of physical and emotional exhaustion.

“He’s had about twelve hours of sleep in the last five days. It’s a miracle he’s even standing.” M’Benga held up an injector. “I don’t want to have to use this, but if he doesn’t go to bed in the next hour, I am going to, before something happens.” M’Benga’s expression told Spock all he needed to know about what sort of ‘something’ was at risk.

Spock nodded in agreement. “I will speak to him, Doctor. If I cannot convince Dr. McCoy to rest, please consider yourself authorized to do what is necessary.”

M’Benga made a low sound and pocketed the injector. “Thank you, Commander. If you’ll excuse me.” He moved to a bench where a set of samples awaited him, and Spock joined Professor Riley and Dr. McCoy.

A large diagram depicted the various anchor-points of the suit they’d just spent over two hours removing; Kevin was running his hand along the spinal segment. “...maybe, a thousand connections through the spine alone. And some of them were long, one went from Th6 clear down to Th11. There was another tight group here--" He stopped when he saw Spock approach, and nodded at him. “I was just updating Leonard on what we’ve got from the suit so far. None of the filaments broke coming out, and we haven’t detected any nerve or tissue damage. His skin’s reacting, though. Once the anesthesia’s cleared we’ll get him on some medications to get it under control.”

“Any functional brain damage?”

“Not all of the tests are back, but the first batch was clear. Better than clear, really; he’s out-performing his benchmarks from six months ago.”

Spock examined the data. Better could be as bad as worse, depending on what was causing it. “Any indication of the cause?”

“None yet--though a full metabolic profile’s still processing. The first one was a mess, maybe from however they were keeping him in stasis.”

“When can we expect the anesthesia to wear off?”

“Another hour or so. Maybe another couple of hours after that before he wakes up.”

Spock nodded. “If you do not mind, Professor, I would like to speak to Dr. McCoy.”

McCoy narrowed his eyes at Spock. Kevin looked between the two of them, said, “Sure,” and went to Dr. M’Benga’s bench, tablet in hand.

McCoy’s jaw clenched. “If you’re about to tell me to go to bed--"

Spock held up a hand. “On the contrary, Doctor. I would not presume to tell a medical professional how best to care for his own health.” McCoy blinked, taken aback, and Spock pressed his advantage. “However, it is worth pointing out that, should the captain awaken in the next few hours, it would be most regrettable if you were not in any shape to converse with him because you had passed out from exhaustion.”

“That’s what they invented coffee for.”

“Stimulants will only cause you to sleep longer when your body inevitably takes matters into its own hands, and the longer you avoid rest, the more unpredictable that occasion will become.” Spock considered him. “If you take your rest now, when you wake, you will be less inclined to have a discussion you may regret.”

McCoy stared at Spock, his expression going from angry to drained in the blink of an eye. He sighed and rubbed at his eyes, and was some time in responding. He stared at the suit’s diagram, saying, “When he passed out on the hangar deck all I could think was, god damn you. You don’t get to do this to me.” He laughed; it was a bitter sounds and held an edge of hysteria. “It wasn’t even his stupid fault this time either.”

Spock was sure he would never understand McCoy more than in that moment. He nodded, acknowledging his comprehension of both sentiments. “I will have Dr. M’Benga wake you when the captain is conscious again.”

McCoy nodded and ran his hands through his hair. “Okay.” He took a handful of steps towards the turbolift, paused, and said over his shoulder, “Thanks.”

Spock knew he meant more than just this particular incident, and without letting himself dwell on the rest, he said, “You are welcome, Doctor.”

McCoy seemed about to say more, then stopped himself and left for what Spock hoped were his quarters. (He decided to ask security for a status update on the doctor’s where-abouts in the next ten minutes.)

M’Benga came to stand next to him, watching McCoy go. “I must say, Commander, I’m impressed.”

When the turbolift doors had shut, Spock said, “At your discretion, Dr. M’Benga, please wake Dr. McCoy once the captain is conscious.”

He saw M’Benga’s mouth twitch in a small smile. “Of course, Commander.”



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