They made it over the city wall when Kirk's legs collapsed under him. Hikaru whirled, slipping on dead leaves to reach his captain. He grabbed Kirk's reaching arm and dragged him to his feet, as another volley of arrows launched over the wall at them. "Go, go!" Kirk shouted in his ear. Hikaru didn't have to be told twice.
The forestline stopped the danger of arrows from above, but once the alien warriors hit the trees they'd be dead. Hikaru paused only when he could no longer see the city wall through the trees. Kirk slid in his grasp, and Hikaru overbalanced, dropping heavily to his knees under Kirk's weight.
Kirk rolled onto his back, breathing hard as if he had been the one running. "Captain, sir, what is it?" Hikaru tipped Kirk's face towards him. The man groaned, and reached for the hem of his shirt, where an arrow had nicked him during their escape. Hikaru matched his fingers, and tugged the cloth back. The small break in skin was enflamed, red and angry around the wound, purpling skin along Kirk's side. Poison.
" 'zit bad?" Kirk slurred. Hikaru's eyes went to his face, pale, skin slick with sweat.
"No," he lied, pushing his hand through Kirk's hair once before replacing command cold over a labouring chest. He heaved Kirk upright and draped the captain's arm over his shoulders. Together, they stood, and Hikaru trudged onward. Kirk had his comm with him, they just had to get out of range of the city's jammers. He could do that.
Something crashed into the brush behind them, and Hikaru stumbled. He gripped Kirk close, sliding into a ravine just behind a large tree as one of the city's warriors came into view. He noticed them, and drew. The arrow sank into the ground beside Hikaru, jerking out of the way to scramble back up. He met the warrior before he could draw again, and snatched the bow from his hands. The warrior struck out, and Hikaru retaliated viciously- it wasn't just his lift he fought for. He had to get Kirk back to the Enterprise.
The warrior finally lay still after a stunning blow to his head, and Hikaru dropped back into the ravine, grasping at Kirk's shirt to steady himself. "Sir."
"Jim." Kirk gasped. "Dammit." Hikaru smiled. Kirk had been trying to get him to call him by his first name since they started working together. It just felt wrong.
"Sir, I need you to be quiet for me. I have to scout the area. I'll be close, but there are other warriors looking for us." Hikaru cover Kirk's hand with his own; the man had reached for him.
"You should go," Kirk said, his voice hoarse. "Hail the ship."
"I'm not leaving you, sir," Hikaru said, loosening Kirk's grip. "I'll be right back." Kirk nodded, closing his eyes. Hikaru forced himself away from the shivering man to survey the forest.
Hikaru crept silently along the ravine, eyes straining for any hint of movement from their pursuers. He leaned up against the moist brush, calming his exhalations to listen for anyone creeping through the trees. His breath pushed against the leaves of a small vine under him, and he glanced at it absently. Pyrenth.
Pyrenth was used to soothe fevers and pain. He pushed himself away from the dirt and snatched the entire branch. He tugged a fistful of leaves free and took a closer look at the plants around his feet. He crouched, pulling the knife from his boot to saw through a small branch poking out of the ground. Tanneius. An anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial.
He stumbled slightly on his way back to Kirk, shaking with his discovery. Kirk was right where Hikaru left him, surprisingly enough, and that fact told Hikaru just how bad his captain was. "Sir, I found something that might help you," Hikaru said softly, leaning over him. Kirk said nothing, just watched him with an unfocused gaze. "Hope this doesn't go on record," he said, lifting Kirk's shirt to get at the wound.
"C-Can't breathe." Kirk's chest hitched as he gasped. Hikaru grabbed Kirk's water bottle and poured it over the blade of his knife.
"Take it easy, sir. This is going to hurt." Hikaru stripped the belt from his waist. "Bite into this." Kirk took the leather between his teeth, one hand wrapped tightly around Hikaru's arm. Hikaru ignored his hold and placed a gentle hand against Kirk's side, the knife held in his other hand. He carefully drew the blade along the inflammation, Kirk's responding whine of pain twisting around his chest. Discoloured blood poured from the cut, wetting Hikaru's fingers before he could pull away.
Without a word, he wiped his fingers in his trousers and grabbed the Tanneius. He rubbed the leaves alone the flat of the blade, exposing the plant's juices. When he had enough leaves oozing, he plastered them against the wound, holding them in place. Kirk's hand fell over his, taking the leaves as Hikaru stripped his outer shirt off and folded it over the leaves. Kirk handed him the belt, and Hikaru managed to work it around the makeshift compress and lash it into place. Kirk choked on a whimper.
Hikaru washed his knife and slid it back into its sheath. Kirk's hand fell on his thigh as Hikaru slipped a few of the Pyrenth leaves into his mouth. He chewed the leaves, grinding them between his teeth until he could taste a bitter tang. With a slight grimace, he pulled the stems from his mouth, and took a small sip of water from Kirk's canteen to mix with the Pyrenth.
Leaning over Kirk- he also hoped this would not go into the report- he gripped Kirk's jaw in a hand. Kirk watched him soundlessly, and Hikaru closed the distance between them, sealing his lips over Kirk's. Kirk tensed under him, but didn't reject the liquid forced into his mouth. He swallowed thickly, coughing, jerking away from Hikaru to draw breath, but he drank the awful tasting stuff without question.
"That will keep your fever down," Hikaru said, voice rough. Kirk focused on breathing, uncaring that his junior officer had just kissed him. Hikaru wiped a dribble of his concoction from Kirk's chin, and steeled himself. They had to get further away from the city. They still had no comm signal. Without a comm signal, they couldn't get back to the Enterprise. Without the Enterprise, Kirk would die.
It was as simple as that.
Hikaru wrapped his fingers around one clammy wrist and pulled Kirk up, slinging his arm over his shoulders once more. Kirk grunted, bravely biting back his cry of pain, and held tight even as his head rolled deliriously. "Almost home, sir," Hikaru said. Kirk said nothing, but Hikaru would accept his sharp panting as better than dead.
He reoriented himself with their escape route, and struck out again, Kirk heavy at his side.
They weren't quiet by any means, with Kirk's laboured breathing, and the way his feet dragged more than stepped, but Hikaru heard no signs that they were being followed. The most clear sign being that his back was arrow-free. Kirk shuddered against him, and his legs gave out. Hikaru barely caught him, easing him down. Kirk lurched over his knees, heaving what was left of his lunch onto the forest floor. Hikaru crouched next him, supporting him, and almost didn't hear the comm go off.
He reached around Kirk and gripped the comm. "Sulu to Enterprise. I need immediate retrieval, I have a medical emergency."
"Copy, Sulu. Standby for beam up." Hikaru had never been so happy to hear Uhura.
The familiar warmth of dematerialisation surrounded him, and when he opened his eyes he was on the Enterprise. Doctor McCoy lunged at them, manhandling Kirk onto a stretcher with his team before wheeling their captain away to the safety of Medical. "You are to be commended for your efforts," Spock said solemnly. Hikaru nodded. "Debrief in an hour. You are dismissed." Hikaru nodded again, wanting nothing more than to crawl into a sonic and stop thinking.
He cleaned himself and changed before walking to Medical, knowing that he couldn't help Kirk anymore. He had done his part, now it was up to McCoy and his team, and if anyone could bring Kirk back from the brink, it was McCoy. If only for the sole purpose of yelling at him and then killing him again for the trouble.
"Here comes the hero of the hour." McCoy greeted him when he entered Medical. Hikaru weathered a clap on the shoulder. "You're a smart man, Sulu. I didn't know you were such a Boy Scout."
"I was never a Boy Scout," Hikaru said, confused.
"Those leaves you stuck to Jim's side saved his life," McCoy said, clasping his hands behind his back. "And there were traces of a fever suppressant in his blood. Did you do that too?" Hikaru nodded. "Good job. You'll have to start a seminar for the ground team on the flora of the area."
"Just doing my job, sir," Hikaru said. McCoy nodded and rolled his eyes.
"Keeping James Kirk alive is a full time job, all right. He's awake, if you want to see him." McCoy gestured to a bed with the privacy curtains pulled. Hikaru nodded and moved for the bed.
Kirk sat up in the bed, attached to a drip. He looked pale, but he was breathing unhindered. He caught Hikaru's eye and waved him closer. Hikaru sat on the bed, and Kirk switched off the bioreadings. "Thanks," Kirk said without preamble. Hikaru shrugged.
"Anyone would have done it."
"If I had been with anyone else, it would have been too late," Kirk said. "You knew the plants. That saved my life. You're a brilliant man, Sulu."
"So is everyone on the ship, sir," Hikaru maintained. Kirk smiled that irritating smile.
"You still call me 'sir' after kissing me? Come on, Sulu. Call me Jim." He pushed himself up higher against the pillows, wincing. Hikaru watched quietly until Kirk settled again. "Not how I imagined our first kiss."
Hikaru didn't blush. He met Kirk's gaze steadily. "Perhaps we could have a do-over," he said. Kirk grinned. Not waiting to be asked twice, Kirk leaned forward and captured Hikaru's lips smoothly. Hikaru leaned into it, closing his eyes as Kirk's lips slid over his own, warm and smooth. When Kirk drew back, he was still grinning.
"We should continue this later," Kirk said. "I imagine sex with you would be amazing fun."
"It is," Hikaru said evenly. Kirk laughed, and Hikaru couldn't help but smile.