A J/EMH ST:VOY FanFic By Polomare
October 2009 * 1950 Words * Rated PG
AN: Written for the 2009 Secret Drabble Story Exchange on VAMB. My first time ever participating in such an exchange! My match made it easy, a J/Doc story with no restrictions and a great opening line: "It was far too cold in Sickbay, so Janeway hugged her coffee cup . . ."
It was far too cold in Sickbay so Janeway hugged her coffee cup close to her heart, reluctant to give it up. The Doctor would not be dissuaded. He held his hand out, palm up, indicating he wanted her to relinquish her precious broth of life.
“Captain, your blood pressure is high enough as it is. Besides, this is a surgical bay! No one should have consumables in here.”
Janeway gave him the best look of captainly disdain she could muster. Not easy considering she’d been stripped of her uniform and was clothed in nothing but a surgical gown.
The Doctor was immune to her glare. His only response was to open and close his fingers in a more insistent gesture. Fine. Janeway chugged as much of the nearly scalding liquid as she could safely hold in her mouth and then sloshed the cup into the surgeon’s waiting hand.
He ignored her petulance and transitioned seamlessly from Scolding Parent Mode to Reassuring Health Care Provider Mode. “As we discussed at your pre-op consultation three months ago” the Doctor gritted his teeth ever so slightly with those last words, annoyed she had taken so long to finally get this medical issue addressed, “this is a brief procedure. You will be anesthetized for no more than 15 minutes. It will require an hour of recovery in Sickbay and then you are free to be released to your quarters for the rest of the day.”
He rolled a cart of surgical instruments towards her with just a little too much enthusiasm for Janeway’s taste. He held up a hyprospray enticingly as if it were a delicious piece of candy. “No one will even miss you.” He reassured her.
“Fabulous.” Janeway couldn’t help the sarcasm, it oozed out of her as she hopped up on to the biobed. “Then let’s get this over with, shall we?” The last thing she needed was her crew thinking she was sickly and vulnerable.
Janeway closed her eyes as the Doctor administered the anesthesia. The expected wave of drowsiness permeated her major muscle groups and then seeped into lesser muscles. Her calves and thighs softened, her shoulders spread apart ever so slightly, her fingers uncurled and her lips parted slightly. Her last conscious thought was to note the peculiar sensation of feeling like she was sinking into the biobed.
Then . . . oblivion.
*Warning. Oxygen saturation is at 69 percent.*
“Computer!” The Doctor was clearly stressed. “Erect a level 3 forcefield around the surgical bay. Increase the oxygen level by 52 percent!"
Janeway’s eyelids snapped open like rubber bands. It felt like there was a steel claw around her throat. She couldn’t breathe. Her lungs wouldn’t move. Her face felt wet. Tears? Sweat? Something had gone wrong. How long had she been out?
The Doctor’s voice was distant and urgent. “Computer analyze the blood sample at Science Station 3. Why is the hemoglobin in her blood no longer capable of bonding with oxygen molecules?”
Kathryn instinctively reached out her arm for the Doctor. She tried to gasp again but her throat just constricted tighter. She couldn’t prevent the element of panic that rose within her from showing on her face.
The Doctor rushed to her side. “Hold on, Captain.” He took her right hand in his and held it close to his holographic heart. He reached out with his left hand and gently stroked the sweaty hair from her forehead. Kathryn convulsed. Fear seared through the Doctor’s matrix, paralyzing him. He should call for help. But who should he call? He was the Chief Medical Officer! He should alert the bridge. And tell them what? That the Captain was dying on the table before him because he insisted she undergo a minor procedure to remove a harmless acoustic neuroma? Out of respect for the Captain’s privacy and because of the seemingly routine nature of the surgery, he didn’t even schedule a nurse to be present. How would he face the crew if she died?
“Dammit, hurry!” His voice shook with frustration.
*Warning. Cardiac arrest.*
“NO!” He dropped her now lifeless hand and spun around to the tray behind him to grab the cardiac stimulator. He affixed it to her chest. “Computer, set the stimulator to 80 milijoules and discharge on my mark.”
The EMH’s tricorder hand paused in mid air over Janeway’s chest. “Well, then, report!” he demanded.
*The patient’s hemoglobin has been saturated with dangerous levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.*
“What?” This puzzled the Doctor. Polycyclic hydrocarbons were in abundance throughout the interstellar medium- comets, meteors, planetary bodies, tar and coal deposits . . . but they were not supposed to be found in a starship captain’s bloodstream!
“Mark!” Kathryn’s body arched on the biobed as the micro-charge found its way to her heart muscle and jump started it back to life. A strangled cry escaped her throat and the Doctor winced in pain at the sound of the captain’s suffering. At least her heart was beating.
He quickly programmed a hypospray to administer an intravenous compound that would carry oxygen directly to her brain and heart where it was needed most. It would momentarily prevent brain damage and heart muscle necrosis, but it would do nothing for what the Doctor knew had to be an excruciating symptom: that of the sensation of suffocating to death. Sedating her further was too risky. Her agony unavoidable.
The Doctor paced the surgical area. He had to think. A mass transfusion of replicated hemoglobin might work. But without knowing why the hydrocarbons where there in the first place, that might not solve the problem. The new hemoglobin could be instantly tainted just as easily. He could send in nanoprobes to scour her existing hemoglobin for the nasty stuff, but that would take time to program them. Time she may not have.
He returned to the cart supporting the surgical tray. He appraised the accessories of his trade with scorn. All these sophisticated tools and no answers! He gripped both sides of the cart with his hands and for a moment looked as if he might toss the whole thing. And then he saw her coffee cup.
Coffee. Of course.
The EMH turned to his patient. “I always knew it might kill you one day.” He darted out of the surgical bay, paying the forcefield no heed. He addressed the medical replicator, “Computer, give me a type-two blood dialysis filter, STAT!”
Kathryn was fairly certain she had been run over by a herd of wild targs. Her muscles were on fire. Her joints burned. Her eyes felt like they had shrunk to the size of raisins in her skull. All that, and yet she was grateful to be alive. She was awake, aware of her surroundings and she remembered everything that had happened, but she preferred not to acknowledge it just yet and so kept her eyes closed. Unfortunately, the blasted computer betrayed her. She knew the subtle spike in the gentle beeping of her heart rate monitor would alert the Doctor to her consciousness. She should have expected that. What she didn’t expect was the Doctor’s close proximity.
He addressed her with a voice so soft, she wouldn’t have heard him were she just a few meters away. “Captain?”
Her eyelids fluttered open to a new wave of stinging pain when she tried to focus on him. But she saw enough to figure out that he was seated on a science station stool at her bedside.
He saw her struggle. “Easy” he put his hand gently on her shoulder. Not that there was any danger of her sitting up at this point, but his touch was reassuring all the same.
She took his words as permission to close her eyes. “What happened?” she whispered back.
“It was the exotic coffee you picked up on the Tomain homeworld that you’ve been downing without regard for the health of your pancreas, liver or kidneys.”
“Ah, yes.” Janeway raised the brows above her closed lids, reflecting a hint of pleasure about the brew. “Robust stuff.”
“Yes, well, unfortunately the same primitive roasting methods that give the concoction it’s strength also result in unusually high levels of toxins that bound themselves to your hemoglobin and prevented it from carrying oxygen through your bloodstream. Hence your sensation of suffocation. Sedating you for the surgery depressed your respiratory system just enough for it to fail. I’ve filtered your blood and I can assure you your hemoglobin is now squeaky clean.” He added that last bit with his typical salesman smile. Then his expression sobered slightly. “But I would advise you to try to stick to more domestic blends from now on.” He had a kind of sheepish humility about him as he got up from his stool to excuse himself from her presence.
“Wait.” Janeway felt stronger now and she could focus her eyes on him without pain. She wanted him to know the gratitude she felt. “Sit with me, Doctor.”
“You should rest.”
She reached out and trapped his knuckles in her hand. “Please stay.” She gave his palm an extra squeeze with her fingertips, just so he knew that she meant it. His eyes met hers and something meaningful passed between them. He acquiesced and turned to retrieve the stool.
She took advantage of the two seconds his back was turned to her to sneak into an upright position.
When the Doctor turned back in her direction, he was clearly startled that she was sitting up. She didn’t know if it was exasperation or surprise that caused his flub.
“Kath-APTian” His attempt at a scolding tone completely failed. He swallowed hard and looked at her worriedly out of the corner of his eye as he sat down.
A pursed smile forced its way to her lips. “That’s ok.” A full blown, eye-wrinkling grin immediately followed. “We’re off duty. You can call me Kathryn.”
His relief was evident. Janeway marveled at the depth of emotion in this man. She may have been suffocating, but she saw everything. She saw his fear. She saw his pain, she saw the glint of hope when he hypothesized a solution that could save her life. Amazing that so much compassion could manifest itself in the photonic housing that sat before her.
Kathryn pushed her loose hair behind her ear. “I want you to know I saw what you did for me.” She looked down at her hands loosely cupped in her lap. “I saw how you fought for me. Your determination . . .” she couldn’t find the words. “Well, if only biological life forms placed as high a value on life as you do.”
He seemed surprised. “I did what any doctor would do.”
“And you’ve done it countless times. You’ve patched me up and pulled me back from the brink of death more times than any patient deserves.” She leaned forward and ducked her head under his to meet his suddenly bashful eyes. She wanted to really convey her sincerity.
“You’re not just any patient.” His gaze got braver. They had never been so close before, but for some reason, neither was surprised by how natural it felt. “You’re my Captain.”
She reached out with delicate fingertips that still trembled a bit from her ordeal and traced a feather touch along his jaw. He couldn’t help but simulate a sharp intake of breath. He drifted towards her at her bidding and she graced his cheek with a tender, lingering kiss.
She hung in his airspace for a moment, then whispered in his ear with a smile. “And you will always be My Doctor.”
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