It took a little while for Mike to open his eyes, and when he did he was back to his usual self.
“I feel like crap.”
Humak was standing over him, administering to him. At the first sign of communication, he calmly sent a message to the Commander to come to sick bay. Following that, he simply went back to monitoring Mike’s vital signs.
“Well, hello to you too, Mack.”
He cracked a smile and tried to laugh, but every muscle in his body shrieked in resistance. He’d felt that burn before, too many times to count, but it never got any easier: tiny nanomachines working overtime to repair the damage to his blood vessels and nearly failing to keep every internal fluid from becoming external.
“Oh yeah,” he grimaced, “that takes me back.”
“You should refrain from moving,” Humak noted, running a scan over Mike’s body, “The nano-platelets will work more effectively the less they are disturbed.”
There was a moment of silence while Mike stared at the busily working Humak, his eyes wide in utter disbelief.
“You have got to be kidding me.”
Humak glanced up at him, raising one eyebrow.
“Are you seriously doing this?”
“Doing what?”
“You’re just… puttering around, keeping an eye on me, playing Florence Nightingale? Not going to say anything, not going to mention anything?”
“I am afraid I do not know what you are implying.”
“You don’t…!” Mike sputtered in frustration. He felt it start to burn again and forced himself to calm down.
“Mack… you were inside my head for almost a week. We were basically sharing the same thoughts. Hell, you died and came back to life! Isn’t there anything you want to talk about?!”
“On those subjects?” Mack’s eyebrow shot up again, then fell.
“This is like…” Mike wanted to pull at his hair with both hands, but his arms wouldn’t obey him, “this is like the worst kind of ‘morning after’ conversation.”
“It is not morning, it is late afternoon.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“What did you mean?”
“What I meant was that after all we’ve been through in the past couple of days, this lack of… connection makes it feel weird.”
“I do not understand what that has to do with a ‘morning after.’ Can you explain this expression?”
Mike closed his eyes and gave as deep a breath as he could. Usually when Humak would get like this, he could get up and move around or yell or wave his arms about, but incapacitated as he was, it was almost torturous. He was finally granted a reprieve when Cynthia entered the sickbay, grinning broadly and proudly.
“Aw, isn’t that sweet,” she cooed, walking over where Mike lay, “Humak’s playing nurse for you, Turtle… I think I might just cry.”
“Do me a favor and don’t,” Mike grunted, “Did I miss anything good?”
“Other than me flying this entire spacedock like a flea steering a humpback whale? Nah,” she waved at him dismissively, still smiling, “The Vulcans got out of here as soon as everything was back to normal. I think they got a pretty rough reception from the guest of honor here…”
She jerked her thumb in Humak’s direction, and he responded with a simple nod, confirming her suspicions. She gave a little giggle and turned back to Mike.
“I guess even he can only take so much,” she said.
“What about Starfleet?” asked, “What about the lodgers here at the Church? Someone’s bound to lodge a complain, it’s all some of them live for.”
Cynthia cracked a few of her knuckles expertly and sighed.
“You know, you’d be surprised what you can get away with sometimes. I mean, subspace disturbances are known to happen often without any warning, and can greatly alter orbital patterns. I asked the Starfleet Officer in charge of monitoring subspace anomalies and he was able to confirm that something strange did indeed happen.”
“Yeah, tell me another one,” Mike snorted, “Who told you that fish story?”
She reached down and tousled Mike’s hair, and he was helpless to stop it.
“My husband, of course.”
Mike gave a little groan but, like a newborn kitten, could only feebly squirm in place.
“The Dauntless and the Excelsior gave us a gravity tow back to our proper position. I went to the Academy with both of their captains, so it was like a school reunion.”
“You know the captain of the Excelsior?” Mike’s eyes shot open wide, “He’s one of the most decorated pilots ever!”
“Yeah, but as he gets older I think he’s starting to go a little nutty,” Cynthia smiled, “Got a real cute baby daughter though.”
“They’re just regular people to you, aren’t they?” Mike asked, marveling.
“To me, Turtle, everyone’s regular people. Even you two nutcases.”
She gestured to both of them. Humak came closer, and soon all three were gathered round the bed.
“You know, you boys make this job a lot more fun than it oughtta be. Underpaid, understaffed, people complaining at us all day… but you two are just crazy enough to keep things fun. I’m glad to have you both back, and I wanted to say… thanks.”
“Thanks for being crazy?”
“You bet your ass, Turtle.”
She leaned down then and gave him a hug, and a small kiss on the forehead. Mike turned a bright shade of pink in the cheeks as Cynthia headed back to the door… but not before Humak could lean in and repeat her performance on Mike… complete with the kiss. This time, Mike turned a deep shade of scarlet as Humak straightened up, his face still expressionless.
“I also wish to thank you,” he nodded, “for everything you endured for my benefit.”
He glanced behind Humak to see Cynthia literally on the floor, holding her sides in an effort to keep the laughter from exploding out of her mouth. She was able to regain composure in time for Humak to meet her at the door, giving her an awkward half-bow.
“I wish also to express my thanks to you, for all that you have done for me.”
He moved in to hug her, and Cynthia threw up both hands, palms out. Seeing his confusion, she dropped her left arm and instead extended her right in a handshake.
“I’ll be fine with this, Humak.”
“Very well, ” he responded. The two of them shook hands and, after saying goodbyes to Mike, headed back to the bridge. Without anyone to talk to, Mike suddenly felt quite sleepy. In one final act of desperation, he tried to motivated the muscles in his arm to wipe away the awkward kisses on his forehead, but to no avail. Sleep took him before he could even coax a finger.

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