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The Stress of Responsibility

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He had only been given the responsibility of being the USS Enterprise’s Captain eighteen days ago. Since then, he has been having nightmares about doing something stupid that puts the crew—his crew at risk. He had skipped through a four year course in three years, just as he had assured the newly promoted Admiral Pike that he would, but it was only just occurring to him just how inexperienced he truly was.

Yes he had one of the best crews in the fleet and yes, he was Starfleet’s current poster boy, but despite all of the brave faces that he was putting on and all of the confidence that he was outwardly showing, he was terrified.

Currently, he was terrified that he would do something wrong and that he would put his crew in danger, or that if he went to sleep, that he would miss something and he wouldn’t be able to help them when they needed him the most. Now, understand that he knew that he couldn’t go without sleep at all, but he was currently trying to survive on naps and the shortest amount of sleep that he could without collapsing. His crew needed him, although a cynical part of his mind (which oddly sounded like his best friend and Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Leonard “Bones” McCoy), told him that he would be more beneficial to his crew being fully rested.

Bones had actually dragged him into the ready room off to the side of the Bridge two days ago, to say that he looked terrible and to tell him to rest or he would sedate his ass. For the two days that passed after that incident, Jim had been avoiding his hypo-happy Chief Medical Officer, as he made sure that the Sickbay was fully equipped for any incidents that they encountered.

However, as Jim knew from their time in the Academy (and was soon to be reminded, as it appeared that he had forgotten), Bones was a resilient and determined, ever-present pain in Jim’s ass. Bones was like a dog with a bone (pun not intended) when he noticed that there was a problem, especially with Jim.

 Jim knew that he couldn’t avoid Bones forever, but, maybe his sleep deprived brain had forgotten that they were trapped with 400 other crew members and there weren’t many options for escape in deep space.

It was on the twentieth day of Jim’s nightmare filled insomnia, when he was almost tempted to beg Bones to knock him out, that there was a meeting with the Enterprise’s department heads. That naturally meant that Bones’ grumpy demeanour and critical eye, that didn’t accept any idiocy, were also present.

The room was warmer than the Bridge and the hard chair was becoming more and more comfortable. This made him surprised when he felt a hand on his shoulder, about halfway through the meeting, because he hadn’t noticed anyone come closer to him, when he usually prided himself on his awareness. Jim opened his eyes and followed the person’s arm up to their face, finding a pair of whiskey-brown eyes observing him with an expression that was an odd mix between worry and exasperation. It took Jim’s mind a moment to catch up and realise that it was Bones who was stood in front of him.

The meeting, Jim’s mind supplied and he sat up abruptly, looking around the room, causing Bones to drop his hand. The only people that were left in the room were him, Bones and Spock, who was stood at perfect Vulcan rest, with his arms tucked snuggly behind him as he watched Jim.

He looked back at Bones and groaned. “Please tell me that I didn’t just fall asleep in the department meeting.”

Bones’ face twisted into an expression that Jim could only describe as a grimace. “You didn’t fall asleep, but…” Jim was surprised how much that hesitation told him “…you weren’t all there, Jim.”

“Captain, you were conscious, although unresponsive for eight point three minutes. There were several attempts made to rouse you, however, they did not appear to affect you,” Spock informed him in a neutral voice.

Jim stared at his first officer for a moment, unable to react to this information before Bones spoke and diverted his attention.

“What happened Jim? Why aren’t you sleeping?” Jim watched as Leonard pulled over the nearest chair to him and sat down to look at Jim with a clinical eye. Bones was in ‘doctor mode’ now.

A brief moment of indecision allowed Jim to wonder if he could bluff his way out of the questions and continue to avoid Bones. However, as soon as he had thought about this, Jim’s mind supplied him with the point that Bones was always able to see through his BS and he was yet to be able to avoid him for a long period of time. The grumpy doctor was always able to find Jim, despite the hiding places that he chose which led to Jim had drunkenly asked if Bones had microchipped him, in the second year of the Academy. The doctor stared at him as if he needed his head examining, before stating that Jim was predictable, but he wasn’t adverse to the idea of chipping him, with a smile that literally terrified Jim for a moment.

Also, Jim noticed that where Spock was stood, he was blocking Jim’s exit and if he was able to escape Bones, he wouldn’t be a match for the Vulcan’s speed and strength. He repressed a shudder at the thought of the last time that he had tried to fight the Vulcan and gained a ring of bruises (and not the good ones either) around his neck for his efforts.

Maybe he could distract Bones. “Where are the department heads?” he asked, as the cynical part of his mind-the internal Bones-told him that it was never going to be that easy.

 “They went back to their duties and we’ll reschedule when you’re not going to fall asleep mid-meeting,” Bones replied acerbically, while frowning at Jim. “Now, why aren’t you sleeping, Jim?”

Jim barely repressed a groan and a child-like pout as he realised that the cynical internal Bones was correct again. In hindsight, he wasn’t really sure why he had even tried, as he had never succeeded in plying the doctor’s attention from something unless there was alcohol involved. Now there’s an option, a part of his mind supplied, before he realised that he would not only have to get Bones to drink it, but he’d have to get past Spock as well. His mind sluggishly tried to race through different options, but it was like trying to catch a shadow, he got close, but he just couldn’t grasp the thoughts.

His shoulders dropped slightly as it occurred to him that between Bones and Spock, there was no avoiding the topic, no matter how much alcohol or chocolate was involved.

“IkeeponhavingnightmaresandIdon’tthinkIcanhelpthecrewifI’masleepwhatifsomethinghappens? PleasehelpmeBonesIcan’tdothis!” Was that all one breath? He asked himself once he was finished blurting to the doctor in front of him.

Leonard McCoy was uncharacteristically quiet and Jim vaguely wondered if he had broken his best friend, until his shoulders relaxed and he chuckled quietly. Jim’s mind threw up questions at this. Had he said something funny, he didn’t think it was. Was this actually his best friend? If it wasn’t who was it? Why was he laughing and not tearing Jim’s head off for being a ‘hare-brained idiot’? All of these questions were beginning to give him a bit of a headache.

“Why didn’t you say something Jimmy?” Bones asked when he had set his impassive doctor’s mask back into place.

Jim gave him his best glare that he could muster, considering that his eyesight was beginning to fuzz around the edges. “You know I hate you calling me Jimmy,” he muttered irritably.

Bones was apparently unfazed by this, as he replied in a light sarcastic tone with a smirk, “and yet, you still call me Bones.”  His eyes softened as Spock asked a question to the now silent room.

“Captain, why are you afraid that there will be an incident with the crew while you sleep? Your body is not able to function adequately without sufficient rest and therefore, it is not logical to deprive you from sleep.”

Jim’s sleepy mind wasn’t able to bring up an appropriate answer to Spock’s question and statement. Sure, he knew it wasn’t logical, but try telling that to his mind. He was surprisingly grateful when Bones turned in his seat slightly to look at Spock. “You ought to know by now that humans rarely act out of logic alone. Our emotions tend to get in the way.”

Jim was now confused and he was wondering if the Bones in front of him was a hallucination caused by his sleep deprived mind. “What have you done with Bones?” he asked before he had a chance to stop the words from escaping from his mouth.

“Excuse me, Jim?” he asked as he turned back to Jim with a raised eyebrow and a scowl.

Jim’s jaw cracked as a huge yawn escaped him. He tried to shake the impending sleepiness from his mind. “You’re being nice and you just spoke to Spock without calling him a ‘hobgoblin’ or—well you know,” he said as he yawned again, “you’re just being odd.”

Bones chuckled again and stood up. He then moved over to Jim’s left hand side and placed him hand on his underarm and urged him to stand up. “Come on Jim; let’s get you to your quarters.”

When he was stood up, Bones moved over to where he had been sat to pick up his PADD as Jim tried to keep himself steady. It took a surprising amount of concentration to do it as he yawned again and felt his balance waiver. “Do you require assistance Captain?”

Jim paused. “Bones, c’m’ere,” he said, his words slurring slightly. He was shocked when the statement was only responded with a raised eyebrow rather than a rant from his best friend. Bones just tucked his PADD under his arm and moved closer to Jim. Jim then threw his arm over Bones’ shoulders, in a posture that was reminiscent of their time at the Academy together, when Bones would support Jim when he was too drunk or injured to make it home alone. Bones tucked his arm around Jim’s back and began to lead him out of the room, with Spock on their heels.

It only seemed to take a moment to get to Jim’s quarters, but when they arrived, Jim felt as if he had run a marathon, as he was so damn tired. Bones typed in the code, which Jim was eternally grateful for, because he couldn’t remember it at the moment.  When they entered, the lights immediately turned on to greet them.

Bones led him to the bed and sat him on the edge, pulling his boots and command shirt off and dropping them unceremoniously on the floor.

Jim was beginning to list towards the bed and didn’t require much prompting to lie down, allowing his eyes to flicked shut. “Jim,” a soft voice called for his attention, that voice, it's was smooth like honey and tainted with a soothing southern lilt. He caught the thought in his head and questioned it. Maybe I'm more tired than I thought.

“Yeah Bones?” he replied, not bothering to open his eyes. 

“I’m going to sit out on your settee until you wake up, so that if there are any nightmares, we can deal with them.” Awww, Bones was a bit of a softie, Jim thought with a small smile. “And if there are any issues, Spock will wake you up, won’t you Spock?”

“Indeed Doctor,” Spock replied in his usual neutral yet clipped tone.

“And we’ll talk about it in the morning Jim, when you’re a bit more awake, understand Jim?” Jim managed to find the energy to nod slightly, before sleep dragged him under.

Leonard and Spock watched as Jim eased into his pillows and his face relaxed as he fell asleep.

Leonard pulled the covers up to Jim’s collar bones and watched as he snuggled deeper into his bed. Leonard found himself giving a small smile to the young sleeping captain before he turned away from Jim. “Lights, off,” Leonard ordered to the room as he entered the living area with Spock following behind him.

“I’ll stay here and if there are any problems, I’ll let you know,” Leonard said to Spock as he sat down on the settee and put his PADD down next to him.

“Thank you Leonard, I will return to the Bridge.”

“We’ll need to speak to him, when he’s a bit more awake. He needs to rest and he can’t do that if he’s stressed about his responsibilities.”

Spock noted that Leonard’s tone was subdued, making the doctor sound tired and weary.

“I agree,” Spock stated which elicited the rising of an eyebrow from the doctor.  “Perhaps the Captain requires reassurance in order to ensure that he feels more confident about his position and responsibility aboard the Enterprise,” he offered.

“That sounds like a good idea Mr Spock,” Leonard replied, as he began to think over how they could reassure Jim sufficiently. For a genius, he was sometimes a bit short-sighted, never realising how much he means to everyone around him.

“Thank you Doctor,” Spock said as he turned fluidly on his heel and left the room, to finish his shift on the Bridge.

Leonard smiled as he realised that Jim would probably think he was crazy if he mentioned that he and Spock had agreed…several times. If Jim remembered anything of the conversation in the conference room, Leonard believed that Jim would discard it as a dream.

The smile remained on Leonard’s face as he turned on his PADD and began working through his paperwork, whilst keeping an ear open for any noise from Jim. Together, Leonard, Spock and the crew of the Enterprise would help Jim to cope with the stress from his new responsibilities as Captain.