"You look like something the cat dragged in, Commander."
"Thanks a lot, Doctor." I glared up at Leonard McCoy as he towered over me. Even if I couldn't stand the stuff, I was now on my third cup of coffee of the day. But I was also on my fourth day of barely any sleep, and I was desperate for something to keep me alert.
"Have you had trouble sleeping again?"
I downed the last of the coffee, cringing as the bitter liquid made its way down and sat the cup down on my empty lunch tray. I closed my eyes for a moment and grit my teeth, trying not to snap at the obvious question. "Looks that way."
The doctor sat down at the other side of the table and looked at me with worry, not even phased by my annoyance. "I've seen you getting worse the last few days, Commander. Why haven't you come to see me?"
"What you gave me three days ago made me wake up after four hours with a nightmare from hell. I'm still seeing ghosts in broad daylight."
He pursed his lips. "Please stop by the medbay at 2200 hours. We'll try something else."
I sighed, knowing that there was only one thing that would help, and it was not something our Chief Medical Officer could provide no matter how good he was. But I nodded. "Yes, doc." Then I pulled myself to my feet, grabbed the tray and went to put it back in the replicator for recycling.
For as long as I could remember, I'd had some form of insomnia. It hadn't been a problem when I was younger, I had been more energetic, more durable, not to mention more careless. But as I got older it got worse. Most of the time I managed to keep it under control, but sometimes it took on a life of its own. And when it did that, there was no medication, meditation or treatment that worked better than the captain of the ship, my boyfriend.
There was just something about Jim that calmed my mind like nothing else.
Funnily enough, insomnia was what brought us together. I had been wandering around the ship one night, after several nights of little sleep. Finding myself in the briefing room, I had sat down in the chair reserved for the captain, put my feet up on the table and gazed out at the streaking stars. After a few minutes of silence, the door had slid open and Captain Kirk had walked in. We were already on friendly terms, so I hadn't bothered taking my feet off the table or giving him the chair, even when he made a joke about it being his.
He'd been having trouble sleeping too, claiming his mind was running at warp 5 after an exhausting meeting in that very briefing room earlier in the day. He'd chosen to go back there in the hopes that it would clear his head.
We sat next to each other, him in the First Officer's chair and I kept occupying his, and chatted for a while. All the while we both seemed to gravitate more and more towards each other and I got sleepier at the same time, until I fell asleep with my head on his shoulder. He had gathered me up in his arms and ordered a site to site transport, dropped me off on my bed and pulled a blanket over me, before going back to his quarters, falling asleep as well. After that, our friendship had shifted and things escalated quickly from there.
Now though, he and Spock and several admirals were trying to work out a peace treaty between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. We had dropped them off on a colony near the Neutral Zone and had then gone off to survey a newborn nebula a couple of systems over. We weren't scheduled to go back for them for another two or three days, the trip itself took a whole day. And my body was kind enough to refuse to sleep properly without Jim now, no matter how much in control of the insomnia I was.
I made it through the day somehow, with at least two more disgusting cups of coffee. Thankfully, there was more than enough to do in Engineering that I decided to not leave once my shift was over, it was better to keep working than sitting in my quarters and feeling like I had been in the middle of a warp core breach. As soon as Jim and Spock came back, Starfleet wanted us to check out an uninhabited planet that a passing cargo ship had detected held large deposits of deuterium and our long-range sensors had detected too much atmospheric disturbance for transporting, so we had to adjust the shielding on several shuttlepods. I was barely conscious when I stumbled into the medbay at 2200 hours.
"Not looking any better, I see." Bones appeared out of nowhere and would have scared the daylights out of me if I hadn't been so sluggish.
"Your bedside manners are always so lovely."
He ushered me over to a biobed and pulled a tricorder from one of his pockets.
"There's no need to scan me. We both know what's wrong. Just give me what you think I need and I'll be off." I looked at the tricorder with annoyance.
He didn't answer but started scanning me anyway, so I sat there patiently, closing my tired eyes and listening to the whirring of the device. "It's a wonder they haven't found a cure for this yet, after 200 years of research," he muttered to himself.
I looked up at him and saw him analysing the results. "You've found a cure for some pretty serious viruses on your career, why don't you find the cure for this?" I argued.
"This isn't a virus, sweetheart."
"Still, I'm sure you're brilliant enough to find a solution." Bones always said that flattery would get you nowhere with him, but I found that more often than not, he enjoyed having his ego stroked. He was that good too.
He just huffed and went over to a cabinet. I saw him pull out a vial and fill up a hypospray. "I know you have tried this before and it didn't work so well. But that was a few years ago, it might work better for you now." I nodded and obediently bared my neck to him. One touch of the cold metal to my skin and it was done. "I want you to go straight to bed now. It should work quickly and you have to be in bed when it does."
It did not work. Or, I did sleep through the night, but the dreams had me waking up more exhausted than if I hadn't slept at all. It had been worse than last time, the irrational, weird and disgusting dreams had just come at me, one after the other. I would honestly prefer good old-fashioned nightmares over this. I called Bones as soon as I had showered away the night and he was at my door by the time I had dressed.
"Sit down," he barked, the tricorder out and a deep furrow between his brows. "What happened?"
I told him all about the night, even gave him some snippets of the nasty dreams for emphasis, each one of them still crystal clear and disturbing in my mind. The way he cringed at some of it, told me just how disturbing they had been. It wasn't normal to dream that you're pooping out severed arms, after all. *
"This is very strange," he said after he was done scanning. "Barely any light or deep sleep at all. Dream sleep almost all night. I've heard about a few phenomena that cause a person to not have any dream sleep at all, but not nothing but dream sleep. You're not getting any more of this medication, and I'm making a note in your medical file."
I sighed, trying to think about what I could do to help myself that night. But Bones had suddenly gone very quiet. I looked up at him and there was a deep furrow between his brows, his eyes gazing down at the tricorder, but it looked like he was mentally lightyears away. "What's wrong, doc?"
He didn't react right away, but then he blinked and looked down at me. "There is something we can try, but it can be highly addictive if the dosage is off by even a fraction. Call Scotty and tell him you'll be a bit late. I need to take some blood for analysing."
All through that day, I felt a bit apprehensive about what Bones was planning on giving me later. And I missed Jim so much it ached. This was the worst it had been without him and it was also the longest we had gone without each other since we got together. I missed him because of his absence, of course. But in my sleep-deprived state, it felt a million times worse. It felt like there was a gaping, bleeding hole inside me where he should be. I needed him to calm my mind, to kiss me and tell me it's okay if I can't sleep, that I'll sleep when I'm ready and he would be there with me all the while. I needed him to breathe with me. I needed to feel him. He was able to relax me enough that I could function.
After working well past my shift again and forcing down too many cups of coffee, I forced back tears of exhaustion and desperation and went to the medbay, got the mysterious hypospray and went straight to bed.
Apart from the fact that I woke up every ten to fifteen minutes, this one worked a lot better. In the morning, I felt less like I had been hit with a meteor shower and more like I had just tumbled through a thick atmosphere without a spacesuit. Bones came to check up on me in engineering after lunch and I asked if I could get a higher dosage, hoping that maybe that would finally be what helped me sleep through the night. But he refused, he had given me as much as my body could handle without becoming addicted or suffering other nasty side effects. In defeat, I told him if I couldn't have a higher dosage, I didn't want it at all. Then I started counting the hours until Jim came home, and drank all the coffee I could stomach so I wouldn't feel like a zombie.
I was just starting to doze off. It was probably just an hour or so until my alarm, but I let sleep take me. I would take anything I could get. What felt like just a minute later though, the computer spoke to me.
"The time is 0630 hours. The time is 0630 hours."
"No no no," I moaned in annoyance, screwing my eyes shut to the illumination in the room becoming stronger. But then a pair of lips landed on my cheek.
"Forgot to turn that off," someone said.
I didn't process this right away, but in the back of my head I knew that voice and knew it was important, so I forced myself to open my eyes to the way too bright room. Jim was there next to me and judging by his one barely open eye, he had just woken up too. "Hi..."
My heart was beating wildly in my chest, the room seemed to be spinning a little, my vision getting blurry, but then he smiled with his eyes closed and started to clumsily kiss my cheek and jaw and everything cleared up.
"When did you come home?" I whispered.
Jim didn't answer but kept trying to kiss me, but he was struggling, he too seemed exhausted, not able to aim. "A while. Laid down minutes ago. Tired. Want lips."
I made a happy sound and rolled around to face him. He opened his eyes a fraction, revealing the brilliant blue I loved so much. His lips landed on my nose, then my cheek before finally finding my lips. The gaping aching hole inside me seemed to vanish. I moved closer, pressing my lips and my body to his and everything inside me seemed to settle down, mind was quiet, all tension washed away. When I needed air, I pulled back just enough so I could stare into his eyes and see every little shade of blue in them. "You're home."
"The time is 0635 hours. The time is 0635 hours."
"Home and tired." His breath washed over me when he spoke and I wanted to breathe nothing but him for the rest of my life.
"Ditto. Haven't slept since you left."
"I know, Bones told me. I'm so sorry, Supernova."
"'s okay. Just missed you." My voice broke, and all the frustrations from the past week made a few tears fall. Jim snuck one of his arms around my waist and I moved even closer, burying my face into his neck, breathing in the smell of stars and nebulas and galaxies. "How were the peace talks?" I asked between lazy kisses to the soft skin on the side of his neck.
Jim didn't reply right away. Instead, he kissed my hair, breathing it in for a moment. "Exhausting. I'll tell you all about it later."
"The time is 0640 hours. The time is 0640 hours."
"Have to get up," I mumbled against his skin, but my entire body felt like lead in Jim's arms.
"Computer, turn off the alarm." A gentle beep confirmed it was now turned off. Then Jim pulled back just enough to look into my eyes. "Bones told me to tell you that he has declared you not fit for duty today and that he has ordered bed rest, and if you disobey his orders, he will not hesitate to have you strapped to a biobed with a force field."
I blinked. "But..."
"And your Captain concurs. He recommends you spend the day with him in bed and sleep." He was grinning at me. "He's been flying fancy admirals in a shuttle all night and is in need of some tender loving care from the love of his life."
I knew there were things I had to do in Engineering. It would take time and almost all the Engineering staff to get the shuttlepods ready in time for exploring the deuterium planet. But as I looked into Jim's eyes, I felt exhaustion all the way to my bone marrow, and there was no point arguing with that, or the Captain and the Chief Medical Officer. I teared up with relief and buried my face in Jim's neck again.
Jim settled down on his back and pulled me halfway on top of him. I swallowed down my emotions and rested my head on his shoulder, tangled my legs with his, and laid my arm across his stomach. Peace filled me and I barely had time to mumble love you before I was fast asleep.