After seeing their barely-conscious CMO to his own Sickbay for treatment, Spock made his escape to the Bridge, intending to contact Starfleet Command (they had attempted it briefly during the battle earlier, only to discover a jamming signal coming from one of the Orion frigates) and explain the situation, as well as to ask for supply ships and an escort to get them into the nearest Starbase, some two days' journey in either direction, much longer if Mr. Scott could not coax any power out of the damaged warp drive engines. Thankfully, due to the Captain's unpredictable medical condition, they had never strayed far from such ports of call, and he had every confidence in the capabilities of their Chief Engineer.
After being forcibly marched back down to Sickbay by said Chief Engineer and their Communications Chief the moment he showed up on the Bridge, despite his vociferous protests, he was most definitely of the (relieved) opinion that the Enterprise crew no longer regarded him as captain, transferring that authority mentally to Captain Kirk and relegating him back to his preferred ranking and the lesser respect it entailed.
Christine Chapel, at least, certainly had no qualms against ordering him about as if he were no more than an ensign, and a troublesome one at that. He was deposited into the recovery ward with the stern injunction to not move while she retrieved the necessary equipment to repair his damaged kidney and various other injuries, and he valued his life too much to make any such attempt.
Across the ward, the most famous starship captain in the 'Fleet was curled comfortably on his side in a still strangely childlike position, snoring fit to wake the dead, obviously exhausted and completely at peace with himself for the first time in four months. Spock raised an eyebrow and met the annoyed scowl of his erstwhile co-parent across the ward.
"If I could move outta this bed I'd stuff a pillow in his mouth," McCoy snarled irritably, throwing an arm over his eyes.
Spock's lips twitched. "I believe we should simply be grateful that he is past the sleeping-with-stuffed-Terran-animal-replicas stage, Doctor."
The arm lowered, revealing a wicked gleam of mischief.
"Don't even think about it," Chapel said dryly, sweeping into the room with a cart of medical paraphernalia. "Just because I've got you pumped so full of the happy drugs you can't feel anything doesn't mean you want to move, trust me. And the next time you want to go defending me to a roomful of Klingons four times your size -"
"If we go by bone density and muscle mass, yes, four times," she retorted. "Next time, don't feel the need to bring their attention down on you like that! I can take a little pushing around just as well as the next Starfleet officer!"
"You're welcome, Nurse," the man growled, glaring one-eyed at her as she stood on tip-toe to adjust the settings on the bio-bed over his head.
Christine smiled, and gave him a quick kiss on the forehead and she deftly untwisted and retucked the blankets back around her CMO. McCoy blushed briefly but subsided, content to smirk at Spock's discomfort as he was summarily treated, berated for trying to escape medical attention, and then given his own Vulcan version of happy pills before Chapel dimmed the lights and left, reminding them that she would be monitoring them from the next room and the bio-beds would sound an alarm if they tried to get out of them.
"She is a most formidable woman, for a human," Spock observed, uncharacteristically sleepily.
"If that means scary as hell, ah agree," McCoy muttered, turning over onto his uninjured side with a yawn.
"I heard that!"
"Then stop eavesdropping!" the doctor bellowed back in irritation, forgetting that their exhausted captain was sleeping not fifteen feet away from them.
Kirk twitched, snuffling something unintelligible into his pillow, but did not awaken.
McCoy stared at the younger man, amazed. Jim, like most starship captains, was known for being such a light sleeper that all the nursing staff knew better than to come within ten feet of his bed whenever he was sleeping in Sickbay. In contrast, the child version of the captain had been an extremely sound sleeper, and slow to awaken. The psychological indications and conclusions from that would prove interesting…once he had the time to think about them without his brain being scrambled by drugs and a creepily compassionate Vulcan.
"Doctor, might I respectfully suggest you desist from gracing us with your more discordant vocalizations until we have at least had time to recuperate from the day's events?"
"Christine didn't give you enough of the good stuff if you can still form a sentence like that, Spock."
"Your inability to comprehend your own native language or cogitate more than basic rejoinders within its confines is a constant source of amazement for me, Doctor."
"Oh, shut up."
"I rest my case." Thud. "Really, Doctor; your aim is as poor as your vocabularic competence. And your actions were ill-advised; you now have no pillow."
Neither of them noticed that as the bickering continued across the ward, their blissfully sleeping captain wriggled a bit under the blankets, and smiled.
After forty-eight hours, the Enterprise's repairs were well underway and her crew slowly returning to their usual level of competence with the flexibility demanded of all 'Fleet personnel. An escort of two starships was on its way to see them into the nearest Starbase and take the Orion prisoners as well as the frigates full of smuggled contraband off their hands, which was a relief to all concerned. Medical had cleared most of the crew to return to duty, and had seen to the various injuries from the battle with their enemies. Thankfully, there had been no death casualties, which was cause for immense rejoicing as the lack of crew deaths on this high-risk ship was very rare indeed.
Montgomery Scott had worked a straight twenty-hour shift between Engineering and Bridge command before being kicked off the Bridge by Lieutenant Sulu, who had finished overseeing the transfer of the prisoners and then had been dragged off to Sickbay by a worried Chekov to have his broken arm reset and knitted. Lieutenants Uhura and Riley had instructed Communications regarding the priority list of repairs and had then retired themselves as their replacements were cleared by Medical. Security Chief Giotto had unceremoniously booted his ASC out of Auxiliary Control with a one-armed hug and a forceful shove, telling Garrovick he'd earned his pay for the week and to for pity's sake go get some sleep before he started hallucinating enemies that weren't really there.
The rest of the crew got back to work cheerfully enough, recovering quickly in the knowledge that their captain was now back to normal - as normal as anyone on this ship ever was - and soon all would be right in the world again.
In Sickbay, however, the scene was somewhat different.
On their way to the Bridge, Sulu and Chekov momentarily detoured to Sickbay, intent upon getting Chekov a headache pill while Sulu dropped off one of his newly-bloomed Alderian daylilies for the Captain, only to find that they'd unwittingly walked straight into what appeared to be World War Four.
Peering cautiously around the corner of the recovery ward, half-expecting to be hit by flying debris, they gaped at the sight of their First Officer and CMO engaged in what looked suspiciously like a genuinely angry shouting match, Vulcan and human style. This was not the playful banter they were accustomed to seeing from their department heads, not a needling-each-other-for-pleasure exchange. This was brutal, harsh and angry, with the full intent of trying to genuinely hurt the other.
Chekov looked across the ward to where their newly-returned captain sat, half-reclined on his bio-bed, and didn't know whether to laugh or cry - the man had the blankets pulled up almost to his nose and was staring wide-eyed over them at the scene, looking for all the world like a child watching his divorcing parents about to start throwing plates at each other. It occurred to him that possibly the child-like behaviors might take a little while to totally be erased from Kirk's system, and he made a mental note to suggest their CMO check it out; if he could be persuaded to stop insulting Mr. Spock's parentage long enough to listen.
The more pressing problem, was that he'd never seen his beloved mentor so…Spock wasn't out of control, not by any stretch, but so not-controlled, even when McCoy had riled him up as only the doctor knew how. This was unprecedented, for even under the highest of stresses like the Tholian affair last year; the two had never just gone off on each other like this, in plain hearing of the nursing staff and anyone within a two-corridor radius.
"Chyort," he breathed, as the conversation escalated and Kirk seemed to shrink down further into his bed, cringing. "What in the name of all that is logical -"
Sulu had done staring and finally frowned, perceiving that this had gone completely out of control in what had to be a short amount of time, and knowing that the ship's gossip chains originated in Sickbay. "Ahem," he cleared his throat pointedly, during a brief lull in the catfight. "Mr. Spock. Doctor McCoy!"
Both glared their direction with a look that would have made any cadet with two brain cells wet his pants.
"Captain Kirk, I've brought you a little get-well present, sir," Sulu said cheerfully, ignoring the incredulous looks from the two verbal combatants at his shameless interruption of what promised to be a full-pitched battle.
Chekov admired the artful dodge, as the statement was both accurate and also diverted the attention of Spock and McCoy. At the sight of Kirk's pained expression, both suddenly found their Sickbay scrubs to be extremely interesting, and fell completely silent.
Kirk offered them a genuine smile, which widened as Sulu set the plant on a stand beside his bed. The gentle, soothing scents washed through the room, as Sulu had intended when he picked that particular flower, and the captain nodded his gratitude.
"Thank you, Mr. Sulu. It's lovely," he said, smiling.
"Of course, sir."
"What brings you gentlemen to Sickbay?"
"Chekov needs a headache pill, sir," Sulu said blithely as they started out of the ward. "As we were able to hear the…conversation, from this room two corridors away, shall I get you one while we're at it, Captain?" he called pointedly over his shoulder.
McCoy at least had the grace to look thoroughly ashamed of himself, and cast an apologetic glance at his captain.
Spock only settled back in his bio-bed, stone-faced and expressionless.
"Annnd I think that's our cue," Sulu muttered, appropriating one of the over-the-counter medication bottles and helping himself. Risking Chapel's wrath over the unauthorized taking of mild painkillers was much preferable to being in the room when the bell rang for Round Two of Vulcan versus Human.
"Da." Chekov gulped down the pill with alacrity and tossed the bottle back onto the shelf. "Is going to be a wery long week."
"I leave you alone for thirty minutes, Doctor, and in that amount of time you manage to spike your blood pressure so high it sets an all-time record, even for you?" Chapel all but yelled, hands on hips as she stood over the bed, glaring at the stress readings coming from the monitors over McCoy's head.
"Well, how do you expect me to recover if I have to be in the same room with him?"
"I assure you, your continually grating presence is doing little to aid my own progress in recuperating from my injuries, Doctor," Spock replied icily.
"And that's enough from you, too, Mr. Spock," Chapel snapped, entirely out of patience. "Half of Deck Six is whispering about your little tiff this morning, and you both know better than to pull something like that in the hearing or sight of your subordinates! It's inexcusable!"
McCoy glared at her, dangerous venom in his eyes. "You're walkin' on awfully thin ice, Nurse!"
"So place me on report, Doctor," she retorted. "I'm sure the captain will be very interested about the particulars of that report."
Kirk had been discharged late that morning with strict instructions to do nothing more than walk his ship for the next two days, and had departed eagerly to do just that. The man had been remarkably subdued before leaving, however, especially for his over-exuberant personality, and she had the suspicion that the two idiots she was currently chastising were responsible for that. The fact that the captain had hastily changed into the uniform his yeoman had brought, and had scooted out the Sickbay doors without so much as a look back or shouted good-bye, only confirmed Chapel's hypothesis.
Well, she wasn't having it.
"I'm tempted to lock you both in an iso-decon chamber until you get your heads back wherever they're supposed to be," she said sternly, glaring between the two. She was more than a little startled to see both men's eyes widen at the phraseology, though for what reason exactly she didn't know.
She continued, regardless, because she had better things to do than umpire their latest spat. "You've turned what should have been a happy time of reconnecting with you both for the captain, into nothing but stress for him, and I won't stand for it continuing now that he's been discharged. For pity's sake, Doctor," she continued, frowning at her CMO's sour countenance, "the man's watched you and Mr. Spock basically be his parents for the last four months, and now the instant he's back in his own body the two of you are sniping at each other worse than that shipload of Babel delegates we ferried last year!"
McCoy looked down at the thermal blanket, twisting a corner of it between his fingers.
"And you, Mr. Spock," she added, turning to face the expressionless Vulcan with an icy glare, "should know better than to let him provoke you like that. I put you both and Captain Kirk together in here so that you could have three days to just relax and catch up with each other, and you shot that down so effectively that the captain basically fled out of here when I released him early this morning!"
That, at least, got a reaction, as Spock looked what she knew by now was the Vulcan equivalent of ashamed.
She decided to change tactics, as obviously neither of them were going to deny that she was justified in her reprimand. "Is there something going on that I need to know about, as Acting Chief Medical Officer, Doctor McCoy?" she asked quietly.
McCoy's answer was quick, almost too quick. "No."
"Negative," Spock spoke at the same time, and both eyed each other warily.
She raised an eyebrow, and then turned, marching to the doors of the recovery ward. "Well, then I'm locking you in here until you both deal with it," she said dryly, and entered a lockdown code as the doors slid closed behind her.
Worried, she sat down at her desk with a sigh borne of utter helplessness. Whatever was going on, she could only hope that they would follow her instructions - for the captain's sake, if nothing else. In the meantime, she had the remainder of the crew to examine and pronounce fit for duty.
And she should probably get Sulu on trying to round up the blackmail potential that was probably circulating around this ship, now that their little Captain Sunshine was all grown up…