Title: The Handoff (also on AO3)
Summary: One sees Pike for the first time after the Narada.
Ship/Characters: Pike/One, Boyce, Barry; Spock/Uhura, Kirk, McCoy (or Kirk/McCoy if you will)
Word Count: 2200
Notes: Thanks to boosette as usual. Inspired by "History Repeating." Entry for Main Event 4/Triathlon for Shiplympics. ETA: Also fills my "reunions" square for PikeOne Bingo. Forgot about that part. Yay, multi-tasking fic!
Three weeks and nine hours.
It took Number One three weeks to convince Starfleet that she and the Yorktown would be better off not covering her portion of the Laurentian system. It took six hours after that to make it back to Earth, two more hours to deal with docking procedures and arranging the crew rosters, even after Commander Davis, her XO, had handled most of it, and forty-three minutes to figure out where exactly they were keeping Captain Pike. She took two minutes out of her time to tell her chief engineer where she was going, and received, Go. I'll see you there, in reply.
It only took her fifteen minutes after that to get to the ICU in Starfleet Medical. No one questioned her presence there--even if they had, she was listed as one of his medical proxies. She stood outside his isolation chamber, alone in the hallway, as she'd arrived just after another surgery and he had some more time under the regen before anyone would be allowed in.
She could look in, though, and did, one hand resting lightly against the cool glass. Captain Pike, also alone in his room, was lying on the biobed, his back exposed to the regen, facing away from the window. Just above his head, a timer flashed 30:04, 30:03, 30:02, as she watched. All right. A half hour. She could wait that long.
A couple minutes later, she felt a presence next to her; her eyes flicked to the reflection in the glass. Seeing silver hair, she turned to Dr. Philip Boyce and said, "Phil."
"Number One," he said. "He's alive."
"He is," she said, and smiled, or at least tried to. She hadn't seen him since the last time she'd seen Chr--Captain Pike, and he looked tired and drawn. "You must have done some amazing work."
He shrugged. "I'm only doing the secondary repairs. The primary work was done by a cadet named McCoy."
"Oh," she said.
"Don't get me wrong," Phil said. "He did a phenomenal job. My guess is that he'll be named CMO when the Enterprise goes out."
There was an element of pride there that told her that Cadet McCoy was one of Phil's prize students, and she relaxed infinitesimally. However . . . "Without Chris."
"Without Chris," he agreed. "It's going to be a couple of weeks before we can get the pain meds down to a level where he can function cognitively at something around his usual level, and after that, who knows. Starfleet has the best surgeons and technology and therapists in the Federation. If anyone can get him walking again, it'll be us."
She nodded. The white noise she'd been blanketing her mind with for the last three weeks, nine hours, and ten minutes was receding, letting the very edges of reality creep toward her. She pushed reality back with an effort of will and said, "Will he be conscious any time soon?"
Phil shrugged. "Hard to say. He's pretty resistant to the drugs we're using to keep him under, so he wakes up regularly." He didn't ask her if she wanted to see him. The answer was most likely self-evident.
"Do you know what happened?" she asked.
"Centaurian slug," he said. "Or did you mean before that?"
"Before that." She'd heard bits and pieces but nothing that made sense to her.
"Ah," Phil said. "I'm not privy to all the details but apparently some sort of Romulan mining vessel broke space-time and lured the 'fleet out with news of a Klingon attack. Apparently the Kelvin Baby himself put two and two together and kept the Enterprise from getting blown up like the other six ships—" Here Phil paused a moment, looking away, and One wondered how many of his students he lost in the space of mere minutes. Too many, obviously.
"Yes," One said, to take some of the pain out of the moment. "The Kelvin Baby has been a thorn in Chris's side for the last three years. A thorn he's enjoyed, though."
"Yeah," Phil said. "He bitches to me about Jim Kirk, too." He gave One the half-smile she'd been expecting, and continued. "And then Chris voluntarily went over to the damn Romulan ship, the idiot, and got a Centaurian slug shoved down his throat before Kirk was able to rescue him."
He paused again. "I don't know exactly what happened in the middle there but, well, Vulcan happened, and I guess Kirk mutinied to get control of the ship and then saved the Federation."
"Wow," One said. Chris shifted in his sleep or unconsciousness, just a twitch, and both of them turned quickly to watch him for a moment, until he'd been still a full minute. "The last comm I got from Chris said that Kirk was being put on academic probation for cheating on the Kobayashi Maru," she said, as if there had been no silence.
Phil rolled his eyes. "Yes, but he managed to convince Cadet McCoy that he should sneak him onto the Enterprise. In hindsight, a good thing, but had he not saved the planet, we could be down both Kirk and McCoy, which would be a damn shame."
"Possibly better than me," he said, and One raised both her eyebrows.
"He deserves it. If Chris ever walks again, it'll be because of McCoy's neural grafts."
One's eyes filled, suddenly and unexpectedly, and she turned from Phil to blink and dab at her face with the sleeve of her uniform shirt.
"Hey," Phil said, and a hand on her shoulder pulled her against his side. He was Chris's best friend, and maybe hers, too, since he'd stayed on the Yorktown with her for a year after Chris went dirtside, and she rested her head against his shoulder and let him be there and solid for her for a minute.
"They're probably going to promote him to admiral," he said, maybe more than a minute later; the timer had counted down to 12:36, 12:35, 12:34. "So he'd be losing the Enterprise no matter what."
"That sucks," she said, clearly and distinctly, and Phil laughed. "Who's going to get the ship?"
"Speculation is rampant," he said. "Chris hasn't been awake and coherent long enough to ask him who he'd prefer, but the most likely candidates at this point are Hiswatha, Faxon," he said, naming two captains currently in command of other vessels. "And—" He paused. "And Kirk."
One blinked. "Kirk?"
Well, that would be an unmitigated disaster, if Chris's stories were all true. Huh. "So who would be his XO?"
"Well, I'm not great at this, but I think I'd pair him with someone like our Mr. Spock, who is hidebound enough to keep control over him. But Spock is only a few years older, and it's more likely that they'd stick Kirk with a lifelong XO sort, rather than a captain-in-training."
"Ah." One's XO was actually a good candidate for the position, if she'd been willing to give him up. Which she most definitely was not. Maybe not an unmitigated disaster, then. "And McCoy as CMO. Anyone else?"
"From what I gather," he said, "the communications cadet who intercepted the original transmission telling the 'fleet about the lightning storm in space is the proper fourth for their command-crew foursome."
"Not the chief engineer?" One asked with a faint smile. "Cait will be along soon."
"Not the chief engineer," Phil said. "History repeats, but it's not identical."
"Good," she said. "Otherwise that would just be strange." She detached herself from Phil's side gently and watched the timer flash a five-minute warning. "When that finishes, can I—"
"Yes," he said. "I don't know if he'll wake up—he does sometimes—but you can go in there and be with him."
She nodded. "They're all so young," she said, after another spate of almost-comfortable silence.
"They are," Phil said. "McCoy's the oldest of the group I mentioned, and he's just over thirty. They're all geniuses—"
"So were we," One said. "So are we."
"—and the top of their respective sections—"
He sighed. "Well, time marches on, and now we're second-best."
"We're not," came another voice from down the hallway. "Old age and treachery always beats youth and skill."
"So it does," One said, almost smiling, as Caitlin Barry joined them, touching One on the shoulder and giving Phil a hug.
"What did I miss?" she asked. "Oh, look, the timer's about to beep."
One and Phil turned in unison to see, and the two women continued watching the biobed count down the last thirty seconds as Phil let himself into the antechamber, decontaminated himself quickly, and entered the isolation room. Inside, he turned off the regen unit, ran a tricorder over Chris's back—One could faintly see a tracery of new scarring, apparently bad enough that the regen couldn't fix it all—and nodded at the numbers.
"You okay?" Cait asked as they watched Phil straighten Chris's hospital gown and roll the regen unit back to its corner.
One took a deep breath. "No," she said, startling herself. "No, I'm not, but I have to be, so I am."
Cait nodded. "Okay."
Phil waved at them, and they went into the antechamber. He'd propped the door open; now that the regen unit was off, they didn't need negative-pressure isolation with decontamination anymore. "He's asleep now, not unconscious," Phil said, and gestured to a couple of chairs. "Do you want me to stay?"
"Of course," One said, looking at him with a slight frown. "If you don't have anywhere you need to be."
He shook his head. "Nope."
Cait gestured for Phil to come over to her, which he did, leaving One to approach Chris's bedside alone. Well, not alone precisely—they were only a couple feet behind her—but definitely with her own space.
Asleep, some of the lines were smoothed out of his face, but he didn't look one bit younger. It was possible that the silver in his sideburns had spread since the last time she saw him; he'd lost weight, and his skin was pale and somehow looked thinner, especially across his forehead and the bridge of his nose.
But damnit, he was alive. She touched the mattress, carefully, placing her hand just outside his where it spread against the blue of the sheets. She didn't touch him; she didn't want to wake him up or cause pain, but she wanted to feel the warmth of his skin if nothing else.
I love you, she thought, unable to say the words aloud around the lump in her throat.
Cait came up, wrapped her arms around One from behind, and pressed her cheek to One's shoulder. One clasped Cait's arm where it crossed her abdomen and held on. A moment later, Phil joined them, one arm around Cait, his cheek pressed to the top of One's head.
They stayed that way for a couple deep breaths, and then the biobed beeped. Phil stepped aside to go check on it, and Cait let go of One, stepping to the side and bumping One's shoulder with hers. "He's alive," she said quietly, and One nodded.
The biobed apparently had nothing new to report, and Cait was the first to sit down, pulling the chair as close to Chris's bed as she could. Phil joined her shortly, but One paced the room, the soles of her regulation boots making no noise on the medical flooring. The movement helped her stay in control, and she had to stay in control at least a little while longer.
A few circuits later, Phil said her name, and she looked up. He gestured with his chin at the window and she turned to look. There stood a young man with blondish hair and bright blue eyes, flanked by two other men and a woman. One of the men was Commander Spock; to his right stood the woman, younger than any of the men by a couple years but stunningly lovely, with high cheekbones and a sleek ponytail. As she met One's eyes, One recognized the weight of intelligence behind her youth and smiled. The man on the far end had dark hair and eyes but was decidedly human; his arms were crossed in front of him and he looked worried.
She turned back to Phil and said, "McCoy. Kirk. Spock. I don't know the woman's name."
"Uhura," Phil said.
"They don't map exactly."
"No, they don't," Phil said. "Close enough, though."
"Yes," One said. "Should we let them in?"
"No, they're leaving," Cait said, and One turned back to see the four leaving, Kirk's arm around McCoy's shoulders. Spock's hands were clasped behind his back, but he looked back at Chris, a trace of worry flickering across his face. Uhura touched him, just the tips of her fingers on his shoulder, but even that movement held a world of intimacy.
"They can come back later," One said, and Cait nodded.
Chris chose that moment to shift and groan, and Phil jumped up to check on him. "Chris?" he said gently. "He's waking up," he said to One and Cait.
One inhaled deeply through her nose, took the two steps up to the side of the bed, and said, "Hello, Chris."