Chapter 1: The Change
It had been a relatively normal day for Jim Kirk so far, well as normal as a day spent at the Starfleet Academy with thousands of other cadets could be. He had tried (and succeeded) to not fall asleep in the history session and he had soaked in information during the tactical command session taught by his personal mentor and recruiter, Captain Christopher Pike. He had then gone home to find his roommate, Dr Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy, sat behind his desk, muttering about how he will never use information regarding the dismantling of phase pistols and that it shouldn’t be a core topic for every cadet in the Academy.
When Jim entered, Bones looked up at him, eyes looking critically. To begin with, Bones’ clinical observations every time Jim entered a room, had made him uncomfortable, but he had soon discovered that this is just a core thing that makes Bones who he is.
The clinical look changed within seconds and Bones was back to Jim’s roommate and best friend. “Hey kid, I assume it was a good class, you look like you’re bouncing.”
“Yeah, it was good,” Jim replied as he stepped into the room, the door closing behind him allowing him to proceed to drop his bag at the bottom of his bed and remove his red jacket.
Jim then began to set up his study area on his desk that sat next to Bones’ desk, facing their beds.
They worked for a few hours, chatting genially while working, before there was a low thud against the door, catching both of their attentions, forcing their heads up.
“Are you expecting someone?” Bones asks cautiously.
“Nope, you?” Jim asks, and Bones shakes his head silently, watching the door as another thud resounded around the room, this one much louder than the last.
The next thud caused the door to dent inwards viciously.
Jim jumped from his seat and took up a fighting stance in front of the door as the next hit came further into the room.
“Who have you pissed off kid?” Bones mumbles as he sends an emergency contact to the security office of the Academy dorm rooms. He then proceeded to take off his belt and undo his trousers, much to Jim’s surprise.
“Are you planning on scaring them off with you being undressed Bones?”
“Shut up Jim and for God’s sake, don’t judge me.”
Bones shucked off his trousers and his shirt quickly before standing in front of the door and feeling the instinctual change to his other, less-used house-cat form. He couldn’t bear to look at Jim, just in case his face showed how scared, surprised or horrified that he is of Leonard’s change.
As the door finally caved in, to show a massive creature that even Leonard didn’t recognise, wearing red cadet uniform stood in the doorway, looking horrifically angered.
Leonard felt himself change once more, this time into a larger form. A form that could protect.
You see, for those who don’t realise, Leonard McCoy is a feline shapeshifter, a genetic trait passed down his mother’s bloodline. At the age of 8, the changes begin for the child, allowing them to change into felines of all forms. He had particularly favoured the house-cat, the leopard, the tiger and the caracal. By the end of puberty, the transition was set to the one that he felt most comfortable in, which was usually the house-cat.
However, this was a situation that he did not feel comfortable in and as scrappy as a house-cat can be, they’re not too good against large creatures. Instead, he feels his muscles stretch as he takes on the much larger form of a burnt-orange Bengal tiger. He knew for a fact that when he changes back to a human later on, he’ll be in agony, but for now, he needs to protect his roommate and best friend, who is stood behind him.
Leonard hasn’t changed into a tiger in many, many years, and he had forgotten just how powerful that they felt, each muscle reacting sinuously with the next. All of his senses and instincts are different as a tiger, but he doesn’t notice them, instead focusing on the creature in front of him that is currently growling low in its throat.
It’s humanoid, but definitely not human. The skin on its face looks stretched beyond compare and its mouth opens both outward and downward as it growls, showing its teeth, although with this creature they might be more fangs or tusks, with how sharp they look. Its hair is dark and frames its face making it look even more terrifying, as it casts shadows upon its features.
Also, big point- it’s built like a brick house, bulky in a way that screams that this creature is all muscle and power.
“Bones?” a low whisper comes form behind him, and he still can’t look at Jim, because now he would be giving this massive creature a window to attack and he can’t allow that.
Leonard feels his muscles react perfectly as he places himself into a low crouch and bares his many sharp, pointy teeth, ready to attack if necessary. He is a threat in this form and this creature in front of him should notice this.
A low warning growl flows out of his throat and if he didn’t have so much adrenaline running through his system, he might have terrified himself with it, only used to hearing purrs and mewls from his own throat.
The creature stares at him before looking up to give a seething glare to Jim behind where Leonard is crouched. Leonard felt the growl get louder and his tail was beginning to swish as his ears crept back, showing the unwelcome visitor that he is not happy with their presence.
When the creature begins to move forward, Leonard matches it, moving fluidly to block his access to Jim. The creature tries to side-step him but doesn’t seem to understand how quick a tiger can be, being blocked again without issue. It doesn’t take long for the creature to be more irritated with Leonard than Jim (whatever the hell he’s done) and takes a swing at him, catching him in his shoulder. Leonard turns his head and gives a warning snap at the creature, his teeth clashing together, feeling as if they’re fuelled by thunder and a protective streak that could circle Earth.
The creature soon learns that Leonard is a nuisance to it and uses both its fists and booted feet to get the massive cat out of his way. Leonard is pretty sure that he feels something snap and it’s now painful to step on one of his front paws. However, as he watches the creature run forward towards Jim, the broken bone is the last of his worries. Instead, Leonard races toward the creature and grabs the red material in his teeth, pulling him back forcefully and throwing him unceremoniously near the edge of the doorway. He then resumes his crouch once more, the growl in his throat vibrating through his entire body, thrumming in his need to protect.
He can hear feet running toward them, but he is not focusing on that, instead focusing only on the creature that’s now getting back up, looking even more furious than before.
Within seconds, even with his increased awareness, the room is filled quickly enough to surprise him. There are at least 20 security officers, all armed with phasers. When the creature attempts to swing at the them, it gains an unhealthy dose of stunning bolts, enough to knock it to the floor unconscious and not returning to the waking world for a while.
Much to Leonard’s dismay though, the phasers are now turned on him, as they perceive him to be a threat too.
The growl in his throat stops and he comes out of his crouch slowly. He then begins to move towards the floor to make himself seem like less of a target.
“Stay right there, don’t move or we will stun you,” one of the security officers’ shouts at him and he locks his muscles in his position, as uncomfortable as it is and stays stock still.
“Don’t,” Jim’s unnaturally shaky voice calls out. “He’s not a threat.”
Leonard watches, fear stricken as Jim runs out from where he was to stand in between the phasers and Leonard.
“Stand down,” another security officer orders, and Leonard watched in horror as Jim stood fast.
“What in the world is going on in here?” a voice that Leonard took a moment to place, due to the fervour behind it that he had never heard before. He recognised it as Captain Christopher Pike.
“Sir, the cadet needs to stand down so that we can neutralise the threat,” the second security officer claimed, as if it was that simple.
“He’s not a threat,” Jim claimed vehemently, worry and emotion filling his voice where confidence usually stood tall.
“Why do you think that a massive tiger isn’t a threat Jim?” Pike asked calmly, slightly too calm for Leonard’s liking. If he wasn’t currently playing target to a lot of phasers, his hackles might have come up at how calm the Captain was.
“It’s Bones,” Jim answered. Most of the security officers now held a confused expression and Leonard watched as surprise coloured Pike’s expression.
“Are you sure?”
“I watched him change-I-I’m certain.”
Pike’s surprise lasts for only a moment, before he raises his voice. “Security officers, stand down.”
The phasers dropped, most of them immediately after the order was given, although some took a moment longer, still assured that there is a threat, despite what the officer is saying.
When all phasers were down, Leonard dropped to the floor heavily, his breath panting as his adrenaline was beginning to wear away. Holding the same position, between standing and laying down for so long, was not helping his bruises aches and possible broken front paw.
“Bones, are you okay?”
Leonard raised his head and brought it to look at the floor and then up to the ceiling and back down again in an exaggerated nod.
At this, Pike stepped forward. “Harrier, sort this out,” he said gesturing to the creature still passed out cold on the floor. “And get a maintenance team to fix the door. I’ll sort this out and get statements sent to you within a few hours,” he claimed with a quick gesture to Jim and Leonard.
With a quick “yessir,” the security teams were filing out, tugging the creature with them.
Once they were gone, Pike then crouched to the floor in front of where Leonard was laying with his head raised, watching the scene. “Leonard, can you stand and walk?”
He made another exaggerated nod and managed to pull himself to his paws, despite the pain shooting through his ribs and paw. His neck was also throbbing, and he wasn’t looking forward to seeing the bruises that were currently hidden by his bright fur.
Expecting to be led to the bedroom or kitchenette area, Leonard (and apparently Jim, if his facial expressions are anything to go by), were surprised that Pike led them out of the room. Pike was walking very slowly, and Leonard was grateful for it, because his paw really was in agony now, to the point that he began to remove weight from it while he was walking, although he was trying not to show that he had raised it from the floor.
Pike led them to the turbolift and set it for the ground floor.
Leonard wanted nothing more than to curl up in a corner and sleep, but he knew that he wasn’t getting to sleep anytime soon, not if the pain was anything to go by.
“We’re going to the Academy building, to my office, are you going to manage that on that leg, Leonard?”
“Bones?” Jim sounded terrified, surprised and hurt all at once with one softly spoken word.
Leonard couldn’t answer. He didn’t want to say no, but he knew he couldn’t definitively say yes either. His paw really was agonising now, and he was now certain that it was a break, as he was sure that he could feel at least one of the bones grating as he walked.
Because he couldn’t answer, he sat back on his haunches, his front paw resting a couple of centimetres from the floor and stared at the man who seemed completely unfazed by this.
“I assume you can move your tail freely,” Pike claimed, not quite a question, but expecting an answer, nonetheless. Leonard gave his tail a swish and was surprised that it didn’t hurt. It was probably the only place on him that didn’t hurt at the moment. Leonard nodded once more in reply and curled said tail to sit around on his left side, where it could easily be seen. “Tap it to the ground once for yes, twice for no and three times for don’t know.” If he had to guess, Leonard would say that Pike has dealt with something like this before as he taps his tail to the floor three times, making sure that each movement is exaggerated to be seen properly. “Okay. Are you happy to try?” Leonard tapped his tail to the floor once and left it there, conscious not to move it a millimetre. He must admit that trying to keep it still was difficult for him, as it usually moved without any conscious thought. “Thank you, Leonard.”
Leonard ran through the layout of the Academy building in his head. If he could make it into the lobby of the first building, he could pretty much make it to Pike’s office, as it’s not too far from the dorm buildings, thankfully.
On the way, they moved extremely slowly, even by Leonard’s standards, but he wasn’t capable of going quickly as his paw was getting worse and he could no longer bring it to sit straight, instead curling it up close to his body to prevent it from catching on anything. He began to run through the elements of the periodic table, in alphabetical order to get his mind off of the pain, just keeping his eyes open to observe that he was going in the right direction.
He managed to make his way all the way to Germanium before he noticed that they were coming up on Pike’s office. When the door hissed open, he stepped through, grateful to finally be able to rest. He sat on his haunches and then flopped awkwardly to the floor, favouring his left-hand side, as he tried not to exacerbate his ribs or paw and it wasn’t long before he felt himself falling asleep.
Chapter 2: The Office
Time for Bones to wake up from his little nap.
Leonard’s journey back to consciousness wasn’t an easy one. The first thing that he registered was that he was lying, face down on a vaguely comfortable surface. He could smell something that was a mix of cotton, vanilla, coffee and a hint of antiseptic within the threads of the material. As much of an odd scent that this was to his muddled mind, it was also comforting and somewhat familiar.
He moved his upper body just a tiny bit to alleviate the pressure that was sitting on his chest, only to be barraged by a multitude of pains. There were sharp stabbing pains though his right arm that shot all the way from his wrist to his elbow that were accompanied by a dull burning discomfort along the right side of his rib cage.
Immediately, his disorientated mind attempted to discover a reason for his pain but was coming up empty. To his knowledge, he hadn’t fought against a Klingon recently… No-not a Klingon, but the thought of something resonates in his mind, something not quite right.
His memories hit him in a fashion that might put a sledgehammer at full speed to shame, although the memories weren’t all in the right order. They couldn’t be in the right order, as the first one was him following Captain Pike from the room and the second was him standing face-to-face with a butt-ugly alien, followed closely by a fearful face of Jim Kirk.
Jim. He had to find Jim and make sure he was okay. If Jim had been injured at all, then all of his work was for nothing. He felt his heart rate race and his struggling body pumped more adrenaline into his bloodstream once more, giving him enough energy to open his eyes and push himself up with his left arm, holding his right arm close to his chest.
His left arm was struggling to hold his weight, but he was able to hold it enough to raise his head.
Looking down, he was able to see that he had been lying on a dark brown sofa. He raised his eyes to look over the arm of the sofa, where he caught the gaze of a man with silver hair and steel blue eyes. He looked relaxed while sat in a comfy looking chair perched behind a massive desk. He was familiar.
It took Leonard’s mind a few seconds to catch up. “Captain Pike,” he greeted, his voice husky and quiet, as if he had over-worked it. Leonard then took a moment to cast his gaze to the edges of the small office, where he found Jim sat on a chair, his head leaned against the wall behind him and a blanket gently draped over him.
From what he could see, Jim had no evident injuries, for which Leonard was eternally grateful for.
Upon noting this, his left arm weakened further, probably with the reducing adrenaline surge, and it threatened to collapse on him, but he fought against it and pushed to keep it straight. “How is he?” He needed Jim’s safety to be confirmed before he could relax.
“He’s fine,” the Captain stated in a soft, reassuring voice, that was quiet, as if trying to ensure that Jim stayed asleep. “He’s just tired from the excitement.”
“Good,” was all that Leonard managed to say before his arm collapsed under him and he was laying against the surface of the sofa once more, a groan being caught behind his teeth as the contact sent pain coursing through his sore ribs and arm. By the time that he was able to roll over onto his left side to alleviate the pressure, he was panting hard, from the exertion. While this reduced the pain in his arm and side, his mind was beginning to clear to the rest of his body, which was screaming at him, his muscles burning, as if he had run a marathon with 30kg weights strapped to him. It also wasn’t helping that his head was spinning a bit now.
He obviously wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings, as the next thing he realised was the sight of Pike moving to kneel in front of the sofa, his knees crunching softly against the thin carpet.
Immediately, Leonard felt bad about making the Captain have to kneel on the floor and tried to move to give him room to sit on the sofa. “Stop moving,” he commanded, never raising his voice, but giving the aura of command with every syllable that he spoke. Leonard watched as Pike’s eyes critically assessed him from head to feet and back again, apparently not happy with whatever he saw. “Where is the pain?”
Pike’s glare immediately made a small part of Leonard quiver, while the inner feline in him wanted to fight against it. That part of him wanted to hiss in return. “I never asked if you could cope with it. I asked where the pain is?”
Leonard had heard that tone before with stupid, green cadets who were speaking BS. Leonard also recognised it as a tone that he frequently used with stupid, reckless patients, who thought they were superbeings (like Jim Kirk). Again, the inner feline in his mind was growling softly, rearing up for a fight, but the human part of his mind noted that perhaps he needed to take his own advice and accept when he needed care. Physician heal thyself.
“Arm and ribs. I didn’t happen to have a fight with a Klingon, did I?”
The unimpressed glare changed instantaneously to one that mixed both concern and amusement.
“What do you remember?” a new voice asked. This was a voice that he recognised. It was his own mentor Admiral Dr Phillip Boyce. Phil is the surgeon general and there was no reason that Leonard could think of that would warrant his appearance here…unless Jim had been hurt after all. He immediately stamped out that thought, realising that between Pike and Phil, Jim would have been well-looked after. These two wouldn’t do something stupid like giving him something that he’s allergic to and they wouldn’t stand for any of Jim’s BS about not needing care. “Len?”
The sound of a tricorder cut across his mind, making his head ache a little more than he had originally noticed with the high-pitched sound that was emitted from the hand-held device being pointed at him.
He tried to brush away the tricorder, but he had forgotten that his right arm was hurting when he instinctively moved it.
This time, he was unable to stop the whimper and sharp breath that escaped his throat.
“Len stay nice and still for me,” Phil commanded. The order was followed by something cold being placed against his throat. The sound of the hypospray being deployed made his ears ring and sent an ice-pick pain through his skull.
Before long, he felt the cool liquid enter his system, soothing the hurts of all of his aches as it flowed through his body, leaving Leonard a relaxed puddle of bones on the sofa.
Despite the new cloudiness that was covering his already groggy mind, he recognised the sound of a nearby rustle, followed by an all too familiar voice, laced with sleep. “Bones?”
That alone allowed his body to float further into the abyss that the hypospray drug had created.
“Leonard.” This voice sounded firm and slightly impatient, as if trying to get his attention a few times before he had been able to hear it.
“Hmmm,” he replied, his mouth not really working any more.
“I need to attach osteo-regen units to your arm and ribs. I wasn’t able to do it before because I didn’t know if you were going to change again. Can I put them on now?”
Phil’s words got slightly jumbled up. Osteo-regen units. “Sure,” he replied, mumbled sluggishly, but Phil seemed to get the idea, as a cold breeze hit his ribs where the shirt had been pulled up, followed by the pressure of a regen unit being stuck to his skin. Then, another regen unit was placed against his arm.
Only after this had been done did he think back to some of the other details that had occurred in the last thirty seconds. Change again. Change clothes maybe? No, that couldn’t be right. It had something to do with the feline mindset that was currently purring up a storm in the middle of his mind, as if he had been too close to catnip. Feline. If he had changed forms, then how was he dressed?
“We put you in scrubs after you changed back into a human, Len,” Phil explained. Since when has Phil been a mind-reader? “I’m not a mind-reader, you’re saying your thoughts.” Oops. At least Phil sounded amused. “Get some rest Len.”
His mind automatically responded by pulling him further into his sleep, only half-conscious of the sound of Jim’s voice asking if Leonard was okay. He needed to reassure Jim that he was in fact fine, but his mind was no longer awake. Oh well. He’d reassure Jim when he wakes back up from this lovely and pleasant sleep on this fluffy sofa.
That didn’t sound right. He’s Leonard McCoy, he’s not a ‘light, fluffy and pleasant’ person, he’s a…a…a… flump, or something like that anyway. His brain’s not working right anymore., not with the ever-encompassing darkness that’s flooding his brain.
Time to accept some sleep.
Chapter 3: Hospital Room
This one is a short chapter. It's more a little chat between Boyce and Bones, although Bones is a little too out of it to really converse very well.
The next time that Leonard woke up, it was even more confusing for him.
During the slow transition to consciousness, he recalled that he had been in Pike’s office, whereby Pike had been there, Jim had been asleep, and Boyce had come in half way through.
He also remembered that he had been on the sofa and even he could admit that he must have been in a bad way if he perceived a sofa to be comfortable. One thing that he knew was that his back wasn’t going to favour him when he woke up fully and the pain meds wore off.
Leonard was also able to recall that Boyce had given him pain meds before putting on osteo-regen units, which should therefore mean that he should be back to baseline by the time that he shakes off the meds.
However, regardless of this, his instincts (which are very reliable, might he add), tell him that something is wrong. First, he’s in a room that’s much darker, if the light through his closed eyelids are anything to go by. Second, he remembered the smell of the room and the sofa, the cottony-vanilla-coffee-antiseptic smell. Now that he thinks about it, while it’s an odd smell, he recognises the smell from somewhere else, something that resonates with the hospital. He soon shoves the thought form his mind, as it’s beginning to give him a headache from trying to locate it.
Now that he’s focusing on the setting around him, he realises that there is no way that he is still in Pike’s office. There’s too much sound, not enough light and a far too familiar smell of antiseptic in the recycled air around him. His brain is awake enough to put the evidence together to tell him that currently, if the soft surface beneath him is anything to go by, he is currently a resident in a hospital. He spent enough time here that really, he should have recognised the soft beeping as an immediate proof of his location long before now.
Despite his brain being caught up to the situation and setting, it’s apparent that his eyes didn’t get the memo, as he opens his eyes to see the dimmed room around him spinning, as if he was currently in a whirlpool. The image didn’t help him, and it made his stomach lurch with a resonant feeling of motion sickness, despite not having moved.
It would seem that his distress was currently being portrayed on the display units behind his bed, as he heard a door open and the sound of soft footsteps coming closer. He turned his head to the sound and opened his eyes once more-when had he shut his eyes?
Through the blur that shrouded his vision, he saw a familiar face-one with silver hair and sharp blue eyes, coupled with a bright white medical uniform that made his eyes ache slightly. He suddenly felt sorry for all of his patients that had to deal with the horrible glare from the alarmingly white uniform. It wasn’t good for a patient who was just waking up, he can attest to that. Actually, the mixture of the room spinning, his vision blurring slightly and the bright uniform, he was currently in with a good chance (or bad, depending on your position), of changing the colour of the uniform with his most recent meal.
The blurred white uniformed man moved a little too quickly for his poor addled brain’s liking as he pressed something cool to Leonard’s neck. Within seconds, the pain of the hypospray was overtaken by the feeling of the nausea in his stomach easing and the room slowing it’s spinning very slightly. With this, the throbbing of his pulse in his ears also reduced-not that he had noticed it until now.
“A bit better Len?” Phillip Boyce’s face came into view, thankfully nowhere near as blurry as before.
“Yeah.” He began to nod but stopped himself as a warning struck the back of his mind, that his stomach was only being held together by a very recent hypospray. “Why’m I in the hospital?” Leonard noted that his voice was slurring slightly but didn’t have the energy to care right now.
“What do you remember?”
“I rem’ber bein’ in Pike’s office. You were there.”
Phil gave a small nod as he grabbed the PADD from the end of the bed and powered it’s screen up. “What do you remember from before that point Len?”
His memory flashed as it had before through the fight that had occurred, thankfully a little more in order this time. “Bloody great beast ent- entered the room. Looked like’t wanted a fight.”
“Indeed. And what did you do in retaliation to this?” Phil’s voice was clinical, but there was also an undercurrent of concern and care underneath it.
“Fought back.” Leonard hadn’t even been awake for that long and he already felt as if he was ready to go back to sleep. “Tired.”
“That doesn’t surprise me Leonard. You used up a lot of energy with the change and fighting, alongside using a lot of adrenaline. Also, we had to repair some of your bones, so you’re also feeling the effects of the osteo-regen unit.”
A clinical voice in the back of his head said that this made sense, however a childish part of his mind was also giggling that he had broken bones, yet his nickname from Jim, is Bones.
Phil gave him a look of exasperation, but also looked as if he had completely expected Leonard to ask. “Jim’s fine. He just needed some rest. He wasn’t injured thanks to you.”
Leonard was able to give a sigh of relief to find that Jim wasn’t injured. For once.
Chapter 4: Can I call you Fluffy?
This is the last chapter of this story. I figured it was time for the long-overdue conversation between Jim and Bones...
When Leonard woke this time, he could hear someone talking in a low baritone voice. If he was to take a guess, he would say that the person was monologuing. He soon recognised the voice as Jim’s “-and Bones you wouldn’t believe what Pike was saying to me. He said that the cadet who came into the room…if you could call him a cadet-was mad at me for beating his grade in the tactical combat exam. Not really something you need to bash down a door for, but apparently Nausicaans have a very different point of view of what’s right or wrong. Also-“ Leonard moved slightly and groaned as his muscles protested to moving. Jim’s voice stopped. “Bones?”
Leonard slowly opened his eyes, thankful to see that the lighting was dimmed slightly in the room, as it didn’t kick his mind into an immediate headache. He then looked over to see Jim sat beside him, his face sunny, although there was a distinct relief that could be seen in his expression. “Jim,” he greeted, his voice husky from lack of use. Jim apparently noted this and handed him a glass of water with a straw sticking from the top. His hands were a little shaky as he grasped the glass from Jim, but he managed to hold it, take sips and hand it back to Jim without dropping a drop, which he felt was a success, especially as his brain is still a bit cottony from apparently sleeping for a long time. “How long have I been asleep?”
“A few days.”
Leonard’s stomach sunk. A few days? That would explain why he felt so bloody tired, too much sleep is just as tiring as not enough. Leonard’s mind ran over the implications of sleeping for so long, but his thoughts were cut by the sound of…silence. Normally Jim is a perpetually animated bean of energy, but now, he wasn’t, for some peculiar reason. Leonard turned to face his best friend and saw an emotion that he would class as sadness plastered over his friend’s face. “Jim? What’s wrong?”
It took a moment for Jim to reply, apparently running over his options in his head, turning his eyes away from Leonard. “Don’t you trust me Bones?”
At this, Leonard swore at all the medical parts of his brain that told him that he should be resting and taking it easy. Jim needed him. He sat up quickly, trying not to show the wince as over-stretched muscles were thrown from immobility to movements. “What the hell makes you think that?”
Jim’s bright baby blue eyes met Leonard’s and he felt a stab at his heart when he saw them glistening slightly with unshed tears. “You failed to mention that you could change into a bloody great TIGER, Bones. I’ve told you everything about me, but you failed to tell me something that’s pretty big.”
As Jim began to breathe to continue, Leonard interrupted him. “I’m sorry Jim.” Jim’s shoulders slumped as he lowered his gaze to Leonard’s chin. “Trust me when I say I wanted to tell you, but it’s hardly something that comes into everyday conversation.”
“How often have you changed into a tiger since I’ve known you. It’s not like you can really hide it.”
“I haven’t.” Jim’s eyes raised to meet his once more, this time razor sharp and icy, as if trying to asses how much Jim was being bullshitted at the moment. Leonard sighed and hitched himself up the bed to lean against the headboard, as his back was beginning to ache from sitting up. “Kid, this is not how I wanted you to find out.” Jim didn’t say anything, instead continuing to glare at him. Leonard took a breath. Got to start somewhere. “First, I am a feline shapeshifter. It’s a family trait from my momma’s side.
“I wasn’t lyin’ when I said that I haven’t changed into a tiger, at least not since I’ve known you. We can change into any feline shape until we hit puberty, then it cements into one form. My favourites were the tiger, housecat and ocelot. Momma’s form is an ocelot.” He was monologuing, but now that he’s started, he can’t stop. “I chose the housecat. It’s easier to change and not be noticed, whereas any big cats are pretty easy to spot. There’s a tortoiseshell that wanders around the campus, usually at night-time. I know you’ve seen it.” Jim looked surprised that he knew that he had seen the cat. “You were running to campus and the cat came out of the bushes and trying to jump over it, you fell. You grazed your knee and twisted your ankle.”
“How the…” Jim’s confused expression changed to understanding. “That was you?” Leonard smiled sheepishly at his best friend and nodded. “I did wonder why you never yelled at me that night for getting injured foolishly.”
Of course, his genius brain would remember that. “Sorry Jim, I was plannin’ on tellin’ you that night, but I got called into work.”
“You didn’t fancy telling me after that?” Jim’s voice was a little hurt, but it was sounding more normal now and he was giving much more eye-contact.
“It just never really came up after that. Sorry Jim.”
Jim was silent for a moment, before he smiled at Leonard. “Does this mean I get to call you Fluffy?”
“I think it would suit you,” another voice chipped in. Both men looked up to see Boyce entering the room. He smiled genially at both of them before looking at the stats above the bio-bed and then looking at Leonard. “How are you feeling Len?”
“Feels like I’ve been stretched, but I’m good.”
“You’re a lot more conversational than before.” Boyce placed a hand into the pocket of the lab coat that he was wearing. Before stepping forward to stand next to the bedside opposite where Jim was sat. “Raise your arms for me.” Leonard did as asked. “Any pain?”
“Just uncomfortable really. Like I’ve done too much exercise.” He lowered his arms to the bed once more, only to have Boyce pick up the arm nearest to him and manually assess his pulse between his well-trained hands. Leonard mentally counted along with it, deeming it to be pretty normal for him as his heart rate is slightly faster than the normal human. He then feels something cold be clapped around his wrist and looks down to see a monitor band fixed around his arm like an old-fashioned wristwatch. “What the hell? I don’t need a monitor band!” he protested immediately. He was infuriated at the idea and to add insult to injury, Jim was beginning to snigger. He had to give the kid credit, at least he was trying to hide it behind his hand.
“Leonard, might I remind you that you are the patient in this situation and not the doctor?” Boyce stated, sounding almost amused.
“Like hell. I might be the patient, but I am still a doctor.”
“Then you should be able to understand why you currently have a monitor band on,” Boyce retorted.
“You do realise I can get out of it right?” Leonard replied, a challenge filling his voice.
“Yes. That’s why if the band is removed within the next 4 days that you’re on medical leave, security personnel have been notified to track and restrain you as necessary, whether in human or feline form.”
“You don’t even know what I look like as a cat.”
Boyce smiled and pulled a PADD from his pocket. He pressed a button and the screen on the monitor band came to life. “The prescription has been sent to your personal PADD, Leonard. If the prescription is not filled, we will extend the medical leave where necessary.” Leonard spluttered in argument, but Boyce continued to speak. “Also, don’t forget that when you joined, you gave a description of your feline form.” Another button pressed on the PADD. “Tortoiseshell Terran housecat, main colour brown. Identifying features: white front right paw, white patch on chest, white patch on stomach. Black and brown tail. Green eyes.” He looked up at Leonard. “Am I wrong?”
Bugger. That described his feline form perfectly and unfortunately, it makes him identifiable in cat form as well. Although, he didn’t remember describing his feline form when he entered Starfleet. However, his traitorous brain supplies, he was drunk at the time.
He glares at Boyce with every ounce of displeasure that he can create. “Can I go home now, if I’ve got a band on then?”
Boyce pressed another couple of buttons of the PADD, looking between it and the display screen above the bed. “No. You’re here until you’ve eaten at least 1 litre of water and eaten a full bowl of broth. I’ve merely put on the band, because I thought you might appreciate beginning to fill the prescription here rather than starting at home,” he quipped. “Now, if that’s all, I have some other things I need to attend to,” Boyce stated, placing the PADD back into his pocket, taking one last look at the display screen and turning on his heels and leaving the room.
Silence filled the air while Leonard’s anger stewed. “So…” Jim began, drawing out the word to create suspense. “Can I call you Fluffy?”