Work Header

bet these memories follow you around

Work Text:

They put the hood on him to take him to the interrogation room, which is a bit of a change. Maybe they like watching him stumble - they don't take the shackles off, not from his wrists or his ankles, and his bad foot shuffles against the hard flooring as they drag him along.

Someone guides him to a chair, or, more accurately, shoves him backwards in the vague direction of the chair, which he stays in more due to sheer luck than anything else. Then the hood comes off, and he blinks at the light.

He's not alone with his captors. There's someone else, another human, on the other side of the table, hands carefully spread and pressed against the surface. There are no shackles on him.

His own shackles rattle as he pulls himself into a more comfortable position on his chair. "Boy, am I glad to see you," he says.

The newcomer's eyes flicker towards the captors, who are still standing by the door. "You know who I am?"

"You're the first damn human I've seen in coming on a week now," he replies. "That's all I have to know."

The newcomer's expression is tight and restrained, blue eyes wide even though there are clear crow's feet crinkled into the skin around them, but his voice is carefully neutral as he asks, "What have they told you?"

He hesitates, but even if this new human is somehow a ruse, repeating back what he's been told can't hurt anyone. "My name is James Tiberius Kirk, of the Federation starship Enterprise. I was apprehended for inciting a riot against the Ullursva Regnant, a riot in which I evidently sustained head trauma, accounting for my amnesia."

The newcomer's head inclines minutely in a nod. "I'm a Federation doctor. The First Officer of your ship is negotiating for your release, but for now you get a visit from me to check you out, make sure you're okay...Jim."

Jim blinks at the nickname, and asks, "So what's your name?"

The newcomer's lips tighten, just a fraction, then relax again. "Doctor Leonard McCoy. I'm the Chief Medical Officer of the Enterprise." McCoy watches Jim's reactions, and says, "Does that sound familiar to you?"

"A bit," Jim mutters. "Where's your equipment, if you're examining me?"

"I'll be allowed to remove my hands from the table for the express purpose of examining you once you consent to the examination," says McCoy. "Apparently the Ullursva's forces take security very, very seriously."

Jim raises his hands, allowing the shackles to clink. "You don't say."

"Do you consent?" McCoy asks.

"Of course I consent."

"Good." McCoy removes his hands from the table, and Jim sees a thin outline, detailed down to the contours of knuckles, fade on the surface of the table. He makes a mental note that there's more to the metal table than he had previously thought.

One of the Ullursva's security guards places a medical tricorder on the table by McCoy's hands. "You may stand and approach the prisoner."

"That's very kind," Jim tells him, and McCoy shoots him a look.

"Maybe it's best not to antagonize your current caregivers, Captain," McCoy says pointedly, picking up the tricorder and approaching Jim. Jim watches his fingers flip the tricorder open and maneuver the options inside - the motions are fluid, but slower than Jim would expect of a CMO, and his fingers dart to the 'Undo' button with some frequency. There is also, to Jim's eye, a very slight tremor.

"Nervous, Doctor?" Jim asks, watching McCoy's hands.

"These aren't my ideal working conditions, no," says McCoy, but his hands speak louder: they slow down as he talks, as though he has to concentrate on what he's doing.

McCoy takes the tricorder's hand scanner and points it at Jim's head to collect data. "Are you really all right?" McCoy says, barely adding voice to a whisper so that the Ullursva's guards don't hear him.

"As well as I can be, under the circumstances. They're trying to get information, but I don't have any," Jim replies at the same volume. "Are you really a doctor?"

McCoy's hand, to give him credit, doesn't stop its slow up-and-down scan of Jim's head. "You have a concussion," he says, back to normal volume. "It's gone untreated for almost a week now. That's what's causing the amnesia."

"What a novel diagnosis," says Jim.

"You must be all the nurses' favorite," McCoy tells him.

"Yes, and their favoritism is just overwhelming."

McCoy moves the hand-scanner to Jim's wrists, and frowns. "How much do they keep these things on?"

Jim raises his eyebrows. "On? They haven't taken them off."

For a moment Jim can see a flare of anger kindle in McCoy's blue eyes, but after a moment and visible effort on McCoy's part, it submerges below polite, professional concern. "They're causing damage. The soft tissues are bruising, obviously, but they're also leaving microfractures in the bones of your wrist and weakening the cartilage at the joint. If we don't get it treated, and soon, there may be permanent damage."

Jim cranes his head to look at the Ullursva's guards. "You hear that? I'd love to stay, but I have a doctor's appointment that I really can't miss."

The guard turns his head to one side to look at him - like all Hessvians, his eyes are on either side of his head, bracketing the fleshy beak-like structure in the middle of his face. "Then tell your First Officer to negotiate faster," the guard says, in a voice like chewing on bones. "Your examination's over."

"But I'm not - " begins McCoy.

"You are now. Time's up."


"The hood's just for your benefit, you know," Jim tells McCoy two days later, once the hood is off and when the guard's taken up his post by the door. "They don't do that when they're just asking me questions. Don't you feel special?"

McCoy's eyes don't leave Jim's face, focused on the tender-warm bruise covering Jim's zygomatic bone and sweeping down from the corner of his eye socket to his cheekbone. Jim can't blame him, if it looks as bad as it feels.

"The guards had some questions about the nature of the Federation's support of the rebels," Jim says. "Not a bad shiner, huh?"

"We're working as fast as we can to get you out of here, Captain," McCoy says.

"Sure," says Jim. "Do you need me to consent to the exam again?"

"That would be nice," says McCoy, with a pointed look at his hands, still on the table.

"I consent."

McCoy's up in a heartbeat, medical tricorder aimed at Jim's face. "Hasn't this stupid planet heard about second-impact syndrome?" he demands.

"Probably not. It's unique to human physiology," says Jim.

"I knew that," says McCoy. "I'd just hope that alien hostage-takers would research the medical needs of their hostages. At least, if they intend to keep them as hostages."

"The Hessvians can barely tell humans apart. I don't think they care. Except now that they've put all this work into me, they'll hardly kill me."

McCoy's gaze flashes up to meet Jim's eyes. "That's what we're hoping," he says, darkly. He folds the tricorder up. "Well, the good news is that your concussion seems to be resolving itself nicely. Now there's just that small other matter…"

The Hessvian guard's ears flicker up and down. "Other matter?"

"In earning his reputation with half the galaxy, the Captain unfortunately picked up a few diseases that need regular treatment," says McCoy, with careful emphasis. "I have to administer his medication."

The Hessvian's nostrils flare. "Proceed."

"Right," says McCoy, putting the medical tricorder on the table. "Captain, if you could drop your pants and bend over the table, please."

"What? Like hell!" says Jim.

"What kind of treatment is this?" the Hessvian guard demands.

McCoy looks up from where he's pulling something from the small bag he was permitted to bring with him. "He has Denobulan herpes," he says. "It needs topical treatment, which, given the location, means a suppository." He pulls it from the bag and holds it up to demonstrate: sure enough, a large suppository pill is already loaded into the applicator.

The Hessvian blinks and switches which eye is looking at them.

"I don't think the concept translated," says Jim.

"You guys don't have suppositories? I'm jealous," says McCoy. "It means I have to put this up his ass. You're welcome to stick around if you want - it gets a little tricky being able to see since it has to be deposited very precisely, and having another pair of hands to, you know, hold things open would - "

The Hessvian snorts. "Knock on the door when you're done."

And just like that, Jim and McCoy are alone.

"There's no such thing as Denobulan herpes and even if there were, rectal suppositories require lubrication and I don't see any, so why don't you tell me what you're really up to?" Jim demands, crossing his arms as best he can with the shackles still on them.

McCoy kneels by Jim. "You're right. I just needed to talk to you alone. Is there anything in particular the Hessvians are trying to get from you? Their list of demands is two hundred items long, but if we can figure out what it really is that they're after, it'll give us the edge - "

"They're asking about the resistance against the Ullursva," Jim says. "They think our ship had something to do with the riot, and they want to know who's in charge of it."

McCoy closes his eyes and rubs his forehead. "That's - just about the one thing we can't give them. They're warp-capable. If they wanted technology, or knowledge, it wouldn't be a violation of the Prime Directive, but to step into the local planetary politics like that…"

"So the ship had nothing to do with the resistance?" says Jim. "I'm stuck down here for nothing?"

"We didn't know it was a resistance to anything - we got a hail from a disabled ship, and the next thing we know, we're apparently arming a freaking revolution." McCoy opens his eyes again. "They're still questioning you - are they getting angry that you aren't telling them anything?"

"Hell, getting angry seems to be their favorite pastime around here," Jim says. "I figure I've got another few days before they get really pissed."

"A few days," McCoy repeats to himself, rubbing his forehead again.

"Tell me something," says Jim. "I know you're not a damn doctor, but for some reason you don't want to tell them that. Who the hell are you?"

McCoy looks at Jim, and lets out a breath that's almost a sigh. "You would be in danger if you knew. Just, please, trust me - I'm a friend."

"That's a convenient thing to tell an amnesiac," says Jim.

"I'm well aware - "

"Which doesn't concern you too much, I notice."


"The fact that after a week, I still don't have any of my memories back."

McCoy has the good graces to look at least a little ashamed. "Trust me, it's to your advantage not to have them right now."

"Horseshit," says Jim. "It's to your advantage."

Whatever response Jim's expecting, it's not the one he gets - McCoy half-smiles, one corner of his mouth tugging upwards. "There's the cynical bastard I know and love. Now pull down your pants and start pulling them back up."

Jim grumbles as McCoy pounds on the door, but his dissatisfaction must make the story of having just received an anal suppository look better, since the Hessvian guard doesn't look suspicious when he comes back in.

"Medicine done?" he says.

"All done," says McCoy, with a shit-eating grin. "Captain, I assure you, your First Officer is continuing to negotiate for your release. Hopefully we'll see you back on board soon. I'm confident that everyone can get what they want in this."

McCoy goes to put his equipment away, but the Hessvian steps around him to get in his face.

"You know, you're lucky it was your Captain we found," the guard says, ears twitching again. "Any other member of your crew and we would have just killed them."

McCoy doesn't blink. "Lucky it was the Captain, then."


Jim's not feeling nearly as good three days later, when the guard pushes him into the interrogation room so hard that he nearly trips over his own feet. McCoy starts to get up from the table, but can't move much further with his hands still against the surface - luckily, Jim catches himself and gets himself into the chair on his side of the table.

"Son of a bitch," says McCoy quietly. "What'd they do this time?"

"I think," says Jim carefully, trying not to wheeze, "that they bruised a rib. Maybe two. No breaks." He looks up and sees McCoy still waiting at his end of the table, and adds, "Oh for - I consent, will you get over here?"

McCoy is over in a flash, aiming the hand-scanner at Jim's torso. His grip on it, Jim notices, is tight, squeezing the flesh white where it touches the scanner.

"Two bruised ribs," he mutters after a minute. "There's nothing I can do for it with what I've got here."

"Doubt they'd let you anyway," Jim says, casting a nasty glance at the guard. "Head trauma and Denobulan herpes are one thing. This, they want me to feel."

McCoy lowers the scanner, his hand tightening in a fist around it. After a moment of suspiciously even breathing, he says, "Spock's negotiating for your release. He says he's making progress."


"Your First Officer."

Jim snorts. "You have a very friendly crew if the first officer lets you call him by his first name. What does he call you? Leonard?"

McCoy takes another breath - not too deep, not too shallow. Controlled. Too practiced at lying, maybe. "He's a Vulcan. They don't really do personal forms of address, as a general rule."

"Uh-huh," Jim says. "And what do I call you? Doctor?"

"Depends," McCoy says, and meets Jim's eyes straight-on, "on how much I've annoyed you that day."

"That," Jim says, "may be the first thing anyone's told me since I woke up in this prison that I actually believe."

McCoy narrows his eyes, even though the corners of his mouth tug upward, fighting a grin. "I'm not sure if I should be flattered or offended," he says. "How are your wrists?"

"Getting pins and needles in my hands sometimes," Jim admits.

McCoy's mouth tightens at that. "That's a possible sign of nerve damage."

"Yeah," Jim says pointedly. "How are the negotiations going?"

"They're still going," McCoy says. His eyes are startlingly intense, the way he's looking at Jim: wide with worry, but his eyebrows drawn down. "The Ullursva knows the value of the hostage she's got. She wouldn't risk losing that leverage. From what I've heard," he adds.

Jim leans in closer. "I'm less worried about intent than incompetence. These guards don't know anything about human physiology. I think their bones are hollow, like birds' - one of them broke at least a toe, maybe his whole foot when they were giving me this beating, and from the way they screamed, they didn't expect it."

McCoy nods slowly. "You think they might kill you by accident?"

"I sure as hell wouldn't rule it out," Jim says, and leans in yet closer. He continues quietly enough that his voice won't carry to the guard. "If this is how they treat a valued hostage, I don't even want to think about how the political prisoners are treated. Screw local politics, man, you can't let the Ullursva get away with this!"

McCoy says back in a murmur, not meeting Jim's eyes, "We already have our priorities."

"To hell with that," Jim says in a vicious whisper. "Apparently I'm your goddamned Captain, so I'm making it an order: Don't trade away a revolution for me."

McCoy's mouth opens, then his jaw stiffens with irritation and he closes it again, slowly and deliberately. "Understood," he says through gritted teeth, "sir."

"One last thing." Jim waits until McCoy looks him in the eye. "If this were a concussion, I'd either be completely incapacitated or have my memories back now. Is this you, or them?"

After a long moment, McCoy's lips part, and they barely move when he says, "You."

Jim stares.

"If you had information," McCoy murmurs slowly, carefully, like the world's quietest ventriloquist, "they could get it. Then they wouldn't need us, and then they wouldn't need you."

"Hey!" the guard says, loud and abrupt. "What are you talking about?"

McCoy pulls back, his intensity immediately dissipated. There may be no way he's the CMO, but he's a damn good liar. "I was passing along a private message from the Denobulan who gave him herpes," he says. "And the messages from her other two husbands, who miss the Captain equally. I can repeat them if you want, but I'm not sure how the universal translator will handle the terms for so many erogenous zones - "

"Your time's up," the guard snaps, and drops the hood - omitted on the way in - over Jim's head.


It takes two Hessvians to drag Jim into the room four days after that, and they don't bother taking him all the way to the chair. After letting the tops of his feet drag all the way down the hallway, they let the rest of him hit the floor just to the side of the table. Whatever they gave him yesterday is keeping his reflexes slow enough today that he can't get his arms out in front of him in time.

He's dimly aware of an argument above him as he considers that, on the whole, he's pretty lucky. The Hessvians know so little about human anatomy that they can't even imagine traditional Earth torture techniques, and they showed an abundance of caution in administering only the mildest dose of whatever drug they gave him - an anticholergenic, if he's any judge. He can feel the heat of the fever perched on his skin, blurred vision has reduced the world to amorphous shapes.

The mnemonic comes back to him - hot as a hare, blind as a bat, dry as a bone, something about beets, but that doesn't make any sense -

Blinding white consumes his vision, and he manages and indistinct curse as he closes his eyes.

"Can you hear me?" McCoy says, with flattened tones that indicate a repetition. "Captain, can you hear me? Jesus, you'd better say something fast - "

"You could warn me next time," Jim says hoarsely.

The breath McCoy lets out is ragged, and he hangs his head in relief. "Oh my god," he murmurs, "if this is some kind of universal revenge - " He cuts himself off and turns back to Jim. "Okay. Okay, I have to do it again."

"There, see?" Jim says, and forces his eyes to stay open as McCoy checks his pupils with a small flashlight - his medical tricorder is nowhere to be seen. "Not so hard."

McCoy leans in closer and whispers, "How much of this is you playing possum?"

"'Bout half. I assume I've had better days."

"Yeah." McCoy grimaces. "Yeah, you have, and it's about to take a turn for the worse."

Jim doesn't get a chance to process this before McCoy's pulled out a phaser and aimed it at the Hessvian guard.

"The Enterprise wants its captain back alive," McCoy says, standing up and keeping the phaser levelled at the guard. "You're making that really difficult, so I suggest you just let the two of us go."

"McCoy, what the hell are you - "

The other guard has whacked him across the back of the neck before Jim can finish his sentence.


"So now we're both in a cell," Jim says once McCoy starts stirring. "I hope you're happy."

Still on the ground where the Hessvians left him flat on his back, McCoy gently raises a hand to his head, his entire face scrunching with pain. "Ecstatic."

"You've got a linear skull fracture and I'd assume at least a concussion, since you lost consciousness, but we can start testing for that now. Can you tell me your name?"

McCoy turns his head to look up at Jim, on his cot. After a moment, he says, "Leonard McCoy."

"Right," Jim says. "Can you tell me my name?"

After a second, McCoy starts pushing himself up to sitting. Jim doesn't move to help him, but watches in case he falls over again or starts vomiting or somehow manages to make himself even more of a pain in the ass than he already is. "That's a loaded question for an amnesiac to ask someone with a concussion."

Jim snorts. "Len - do I call you Len?"

"Not usually."

"What do I call you, then?"

McCoy looks Jim straight in the eyes, and when he speaks, it doesn't sound like he's answering the question at all. "Bones."

The hairs on the back of his neck raise. "You have a piss-poor mind for strategy."

McCoy laughs at that so hard that he curls over on himself. "If we get out of here alive, I'm going to remember you said that."

"Frankly, I'm astounded we aren't already dead."

"Now they've got twice the leverage," McCoy says with an apathetic shrug.

"Or they can kill one of us to make it clear that they're serious."

"We figured they wouldn't do that until they could establish a visual connection with the ship to do it live, and the ship's having some problems with its communications array right now."

Jim narrows his eyes. "What kinds of problems?"

McCoy shrugs. "I don't know. Lieutenant Uhura is very creative. How long were we out?"

"You were out for about a quarter of an hour, and you're a shitty doctor."

"Yes, I am," McCoy agrees breezily, and leans over to the wall of the cell to push himself up. Then he digs in his pocket and pulls out a badge that even Jim's amnesiac brain recognizes as a small homing transponder.

"Catch," McCoy says, and Jim does. "We took all the wires and electronics out of the tricorder this time and replaced it with a nifty little device that Spock and Scotty rigged up that should be weakening the Hessvians' shields enough for the transponders to get us a transporter lock just about any minute now."

"Oh really?"

With perfect timing, the lights in the cell flicker and, with a loud mechanical clunk, fail.

"Is that a good sign or a bad sign," he wonders, before pointedly adding, "Captain?"

He gets a wild-edged grin in return. "You tell me, Bones."

Any reply is swallowed in a halo of dancing lights.


"Well," M'Benga says, looking at his tricorder, "you are officially back to full health. Congratulations, Dr. McCoy, and welcome back to Sickbay - it's all yours."

Leonard snatches the tricorder display from M'Benga to double-check. "Have fun while I was on vacation?" he says, and scrolls through the readouts: wrists healing, fractured rib healing, concussion all but gone, the effects of the amnesiac drug are out of his system.

"All due respect, sir, the next time you want to start a planetwide revolution and give yourself amnesia to cover it up, my informed medical opinion is - don't." M'Benga lifts the tricorder display out of Leonard's hands as the doors to Sickbay hiss open.

"Yeah," Leonard says, swinging his legs off the table. "I'll try to remember you said that."

"He's making terrible jokes!" Jim says gleefully, perching himself on the end of Leonard's bed. "He really is back."

"Dr. McCoy has a clean bill of health and has officially retaken command of Sickbay, sir," M'Benga says with a halfhearted salute. "So if you don't mind, I'm going to go away now and enjoy some silence."

"I'm not that bad a patient," Leonard informs Jim, pulling his folded Science-blue overshirt off the tray near his bed.

"Oh, you really are," Jim replies. "I had to treat you, remember?"

"Oh, I remember everything about that planet," Leonard says. He pauses to pull the shirt over his head, and makes eye contact with Jim. "I remember the Denobulan herpes, for one thing."

Jim shrugs, unrepentant. "I had to play to my reputation. And my strengths. Speaking of which, I believe I sent you down to that planet to hand that hypoxic Hessvian from the ship over to his family for medical treatment, not to take his revolutionary cause for your own, start a riot, get arrested and give yourself amnesia."

Leonard straightens his shirt. "The Ullursva's a tyrant. You didn't see the conditions on the planet - that jail wasn't the worst of it. And the riot was an accident."

"Unlike erasing your own memories."

"Inhibiting, Jim," Leonard corrects, and stands. Hell, he feels like doing cartwheels; he didn't realize how heavy the damn shackles were until they came off. "And the Ullursva's forces are known for their interrogation techniques. It was just a stroke of luck that they thought I was you, though."

"I guess that's one advantage of being a bland humanoid. Still," Jim says, and points at Leonard. "No more riots. I'll make that an order if I have to."

"Only if you promise not to impersonate me anymore," Leonard shoots back. "If you were actually a member of my staff, I'd have you sent back to the Academy. You didn't even know how to work the damn tricorder!"

Jim smiles, and gently pats Leonard's shoulder. "You're welcome."

Leonard grumbles, but leans into the contact.