Leonard took the autosuture from Jim’s hands and forced him to sit for a few minutes with his head between his knees.
“Doin’ just fine, Jim,” he assured. He wasn't used to being on this side of the med kit, but Jim was handling it worse and he needed to stay calm for them both. He put the autosuture back in the kit and pulled out the dermal regenerator, moving slowly so as to not jostle the right side of his body too much. “Next part’s easy.”
Jim let out a shaky breath and muttered something to the ground. Leonard wished he could put a hand on Jim’s shoulder, but he was sitting just out of reach.
Another bolt of pain surged through his side. Leonard clenched his jaw and hoped Jim wouldn’t notice. The autosuture had taken care of the worst of the bleeding from the gaping wound the jagged rocks had left behind, and though it hadn’t been wielded by an expert, Jim at least remembered most of his field med training. It would do for perhaps half a day; long enough for Enterprise to find them in this godforsaken cave. Leonard hoped, at least.
“Coulda been worse, darlin’,” he said quietly. “Coulda hit my head. You wouldn’t want to be dealing with an injury like that right now. It’d probably kill me before the morning.”
“Not helping, Len,” Jim said.
“Yeah,” Leonard agreed sheepishly. “Sorry.”
Jim lifted his head. His breathing was even now, and he returned to his crouch by Leonard’s side. “How’s it feel?”
“Better,” Leonard lied. It was going to keep hurting, and there was nothing for it. Point was, he at least was no longer losing dangerous amounts of blood. “Missed your calling, Jim. You shoulda been a doctor.”
Jim shook his head firmly. Even in the dim light from their lantern, Leonard could tell that he was ashen. “How the hell do you do it?”
“I never wanted to do anything else.”
“No, I mean…” Jim trailed off. His eyes darted away from Leonard’s and rested on the far wall. “When I saw you there, with all that blood pooled around you… Thought for sure you were dead. And I about lost it. How did you manage when it was me?”
Leonard could reach him now. He curled a hand around the back of Jim’s neck and pulled him close, until their foreheads were touching.
“Jim, when I saw you dead on a table in my own med bay I thought the world had ended. Myworld had ended. But the difference between you and me is that I know what I’m doing when it comes to this. I’ve lived, breathed, and practiced it for years. I stole you back from the jaws of death and I’d do it again in an instant, because I can. I know you’re scared, darlin’, but this could have been so much worse. You can handle this.”
“I never should have brought you on this mission,” Jim said bitterly. He extracted himself from Leonard’s grip and took his hand, squeezing lightly. “I’m so damn sorry, Bones -”
“Don’t,” Leonard said, cutting him off. “I wanted to come. I volunteered, damn it. I -”
He broke off as another wave of pain chased the thought from his brain and caused his vision to gray at the edges. He was distantly aware of Jim’s two hands wrapped around his one, and that he was crushing one of them.
“Sorry,” he gasped when the agony abated somewhat. Jim looked as though he was going to pass out, and Leonard tried to give him a reassuring smile. “S’okay, Jim. Pain is okay. You’ve fixed the worst of the wounds, so I’m not about to drop dead on you.”
He gently pulled his hand from Jim’s so he could point at the med kit. “Grab that scanner, would you? No, the - yeah, right there. Okay, let’s have another look at my chest, make sure nothing slipped past us the first time. Then you can use the dermal regenerator. I’m tired of bleeding in random places.”
Jim closed his eyes, drew a deep breath to steel himself, and nodded.