Jim suspected, not for the first time, that his crew was up to something. Despite a clean bill of mental health and a rapid recovery from death, there was not a single waking moment that a crew member of the Enterprise was not there to babysit him. They wouldn’t insult him by calling it babysitting, no, no, the phrase was “hospital visiting hours” that somehow extended well past the facility’s posted times. With Winona still somewhere in deep space, Sam and Aurelan in some backwater colony, his crew were the only visitors he had. He was grateful for the camaraderie, he was humbled by their loyalty, but he was suspicious. Something was going on.
Spock was at his bedside first and returned the most often. He claimed he had such minimal needs for rest that the late night chess matches, updates on the ship repairs, and crew gossip (debriefings, Spock called them) didn’t seem unusual.
Sulu would bring his gaming chips and challenge him to Halo: XXV and beat him every single time.
Carol Marcus sat in awkward near-silence, holding back tears. She only visited once.
Scotty, when he could be coaxed away from ship repairs, would sneak in pulled pork sandwiches from the BBQ joint down the street, which Bones pretended he didn’t see. Even Dr. Leonard McCoy knew one could not survive on Jell-O and hospital grade mashed potatoes alone.
Uhura visited a few times, smuggling in some tools and some not-quite-ready-for-release comm equipment, knowing Jim’s love of tinkering. Despite Jim’s protests that his attempt to upgrade the equipment could be deemed theraputic for recovering his hand-eye coordination, the items were smuggled right back to Starfleet when he rigged the communication device send haunted ghost noises to Bones’ comm when whenever he was within a meter of the blonde nurse from med/surg.
Chekov, boy genius and avid chess player (apparently, the game originated in Russia) would play a few rounds, but also would bring other board games like Go, Scrabble, and Kal-Toh. Jim hadn’t played many boardgames growing up, but Chekov came from a large family with many extremely bright siblings to play with during long Russian winters.
Other crew members would stop by, some providing a happy distraction. Others, like Carol, were barely able to keep it together, but Jim could admit to himself it was good to see them, too. Each time his mind wandered to dark thoughts it just took that little reminder of the Enterprise, of who he had died for, that reminded him he needed to get back to it as quickly as possible. Perhaps he needed the babysitting: as evidence of his deteriorating patience for being cooped up, on his last morning his First Officer found him alone with a hyperspanner, seven spoons, and some wiring and computer parts ripped from one of the medical scanners.
“It’s survival practice, Spock,” Jim explained. “If you can bring me the mashed potatoes from the cafeteria, I think I’ll have the adhesive I’d need to make a functional distress signal.”
“Survival practice for what conditions?” Spock looked around the room, as if seeing it in a new, sinister light. “Do you believe you will find yourself stranded or imprisoned within a medical facility?”
“Wouldn’t be the weirdest situation we’ve been in,” Jim said brightly, fiddling with a relay. “I just need to keep my mind busy, it’s good practice for when we get back out there. Sulu swiped the spoons for me, Scotty had the spare hyperspanner, and now you,” Jim dropped his voice down to a stage-whispered, “go steal some mashed potatoes. Hurry, before Bones comes to check on me.”
Spock merely raised an eyebrow. “Is there anything else I can retrieve for you, Captain? Some stone knives, perhaps a bear skin?”
Jim grinned. “Sarcasm, Commander? You’ve been spending too much time in here with me, people will start to talk.” Spock’s face shuttered a little at that. How had Jim gotten to the point when he could read Spock well enough to know that blank just became blanker? “Thanks, but the bearskins are for my next project.”
“Bearskins for what?” Bones called from Jim's right, walking into the room. His eyes immediately found the small cart with the spoons and other illicit materials, and glared. “No, Jim. You didn’t. You’ve got to stop that right now.”
“You always take away my fun,” Jim complained, shoving the cart half-heartedly toward Bones, ending up in front of Spock.
“Just for that, I’m delaying your medical discharge papers,” Bones said, holding up a PADD. “All these need are my signature, but I feel a hand cramp coming on.”
A smile bloomed on Jim’s face. “Today? You mean it?”
Bones mock-glared, shaking his hand, feigning injury. “Not sure yet. Where’d the hyperspanner come from?”
Jim made eye contact with Spock, and then with the annoyed doctor, plastering his best innocent look to his face. “Bones, calm down, it’s not what it looks like, honest. Just where would I get a hyperspanner, anyway? I promised you I'd stop playing with the electronics, remember?”
“I know you are using it to fuse the spoons--” Bones looked over to the cart, absent of hyperspanner and any incriminating medical equipment parts. He glared at the Vulcan next to it. “Et tu, Spock? You can’t save him from everything,” Bones warned darkly. Spock merely stared back, as if saying It has worked thus far.
“C’mon Bonesy,” Jim said, knowing it would just infuriate his friend more. “If you don’t sign that, I’ll have to start a new project. Think about what I could rig up with a few hyposprays and a isolitic converter.” Jim rubbed his hands together like a mad scientist. A mad scientist that Bones did not want to babysit or cover for.
Bones rolled his eyes, signing the PADD and handing it over to Spock. “He’s all yours, and good riddance.” Spock nodded, taking the PADD and Bones spun on his heels. “Try not to give Spock too much grief, kid.”
Spock kept his eyes on the PADD, as if Jim’s discharge papers had confidential Romulan transmissions.
“He just gave me over to you for safekeeping, didn’t he?” Jim said dully, watching the retreating back of McCoy exit the room.
“You are being released into my care, as a condition of your discharge,” Spock said evenly, finally looking up, perhaps looking a little nervous. “I had thought Dr. McCoy explained this to you.”
“Nope,” Jim said, bouncing off the bed and reaching for the duffle bag under his bed that had been packed for days. “So, your place or mine?”
Spock didn’t deign to acknowledge the double meaning, his thumb tracing the side of the PADD. “My father still maintains a dwelling near Starfleet headquarters, if that is suitable.”
Jim shrugged, walking out the door. “You kidding? Anywhere would be better than here.”
“Vulcans do not kid,” Spock reminded him.
“And now you're lying," Jim said cheerily. "You are defintely hanging around me too much."