DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of SterJulie and is copyright (c) 2004 by SterJulie. Rated PG.



Angels of the Epidemic

SterJulie



INFECTION

Lieutenant Uhura squirmed in her seat. Ever since her group had returned from shore leave, her skin had a crawly feeling. She noticed a fine rash under her breasts and arms and a few other places she didn't want to think about. Only problem was, the longer she sat there, especially with her uniform tights clinging so, well, tightly to her lower body, the more uncomfortable she became.

Uhura brought her shift log to the center seat for Captain Kirk to read and sign. Looking toward the navigation/helm console, she noticed Ensign Chekov reach surreptitiously under one armpit, scratch, and then repeat it on the other side. He followed this up with a wriggle first to the right, then to the left.

"Ants in your pants, Mr. Chekov?" Kirk asked. The navigator immediately straightened in his seat.

"No, sair," Chekov answered.

Uhura scratched behind one ear as she listened to the interplay between the captain and the Russian.

"Is something wrong, Lieutenant?"

Only one person could have that deep voice, a voice as dark as midnight at the New Moon. She turned to see the Vulcan first officer looking at her curiously.

"Why do you ask, Mr. Spock?" she answered, trying not to fidget.

"There are small, raised bumps behind your ear and down your neck," he replied. "Are you ill?" Chekov's head snapped in her direction, he, too, scratching behind one ear. Their eyes met in horror.

"Oh, no!" Uhura breathed.

"De others..." he began.

"The hot tub!" they cried together.

"What's going on?" Kirk demanded, handing back the signed document to Uhura.

"A group of us shared a large hot tub on shore leave. We," she indicated Chekov with a small gesture, "may have had an allergic reaction..."

"Or caught something," Chekov interjected.

"...while we were there," Uhura finished.

"How big a group?" Kirk asked. "How big was this hot tub?"

"A dozen or so, sair," Chekov replied smiling. "It vas a wery big tub!"

Kirk jerked his thumb over a shoulder, about to order his officers to Sickbay when the intercom sounded at his chair.

"McCoy to Bridge." Kirk depressed the button on the armrest.

"Bridge. Kirk here."

"Jim, can you spare Uhura and Chekov a minute?" the doctor asked. "Looks like we brought a stowaway with us." Kirk was puzzled.

"Stowaway?" he repeated.

"Bacteria," McCoy countered. "Our little shore leave group seems to have come down with a rash." Spock moved to the sensors. The bio filters should have stopped anything hazardous from coming aboard. He ran a diagnostic program on the transporter systems.

"Who else is in this little group?" Kirk asked.

"Weeeell," McCoy said sheepishly, "me, for one. Then there was Scotty, DeSalle, Kyle, Riley, Leslie, Rand, Parrish, Moreau, Ames, Martinez, Rocco, Steiner, and Saunders, and we are all affected."

"And all of you fit into one hot tub?" There was silence at the other end.

"Who said it was a hot tub?" McCoy asked cautiously. Kirk gestured to the two embarrassed -- and writhing -- officers before him.

"Uhura and Chekov!" Kirk exclaimed.

"Oh, right!" came McCoy's reply. "Actually, the tub was a bar. Some locals pointed it out to Scotty and me, and, well, word spread." Kirk watched as Uhura and Chekov tried -- unsuccessfully -- to stand still.

"That's not all that spread, Bones," he observed.

"Anyway, send those two down, Jim. They should be a bit uncomfortable by now." Uhura and Chekov looked at each other and rolled their eyes. A bit uncomfortable??? Kirk saw the interaction between his two officers and, with a jerk of his head, dismissed them to go to Sickbay. The two nearly knocked each other out of the way in their rush to the turbo lift.

Spock stepped to the center seat.

"Doctor, do you need help in investigating this outbreak?" Spock offered. "You just named half of the medical staff on the sick list."

"It's probably just an allergic reaction, Spock," McCoy answered. "I'll let you know if I need your help. Hell, Chris probably has a cure ready already."

"Very well, Doctor," Spock answered. "I have begun a diagnostic on the transporters to see why this bacteria wasn't prevented from boarding."

"You do that," McCoy replied. "I've got to go put salve on this rash. It itches like the dickens!" Kirk could hear a woman's voice call out, "Stop scratching, Doctor!" followed by a "Shaddup already!" from McCoy before the line went silent.

OUTBREAK

Christine was starting to fall in to a routine with the "Hot Tub Gang," as they had dubbed themselves. Twice a day, they would report to Sickbay to have a soothing liniment applied to the worst of their rash, and have their vitals taken and recorded.

She noticed that some of the "Hot Tub Gang" were nearly clear of the mystery illness (dubbed the "Shore Leave Plague") after two days of treatment, while a few of the others were getting worse. These few were showing a slight fever and their rash was spreading to the fingers and toes.

Christine had been trying to isolate the bacterium that was causing the Shore Leave Plague. Despite pulling long research hours, she was no closer to an answer. She compared those who were improving to those who had worsening symptoms. She could find no clear cut answer. Dr. McCoy and Engineer Scott spent the longest time in the pool, along with Ames and Rocco. McCoy and Scott were showing worsening symptoms, but Ames and Rocco were nearly free of the rash, and neither of them had a fever. McCoy was covered in the rash, and Scotty was confined to bed with a high fever. So far, the disease seemed limited to that shore leave group.

Until Lts. Rahda and O'Neil came in with the rash, and Lts. Johnson and Shea as well as Ens. Haines and Garrovick with the fever, and more. Rahda and Haines were delirious. Shea had gone into convulsions.

Nurse Christine Chapel, Acting Chief Medical Officer during Dr. McCoy's illness, put a quarantine on the Enterprise. No one, no thing could beam into or off of the ship. This compounded the disaster. The shuttle carrying Dr. Geoffery M'Benga and Nurse Ann Jacobs were due back that very day. For their protection, Christine could not allow them to dock with the Enterprise until the crisis had passed. This also meant that her roster of nurses, already decimated by the plague, would have to care for 430 crew members who were getting sicker by the moment.

McCOY

"Sir, STOP SCRATCHING!"

"SHUT UP, CHAPEL!" McCoy roared. Christine picked up some sterile four by fours in her gloved hands and dabbed at McCoy's skin, skin rubbed raw and bleeding by the doctor's constant scratching. Then she noticed something new.

"Doctor, you are causing a secondary infection with all your scratching!" Christine grabbed a spray bottle and started applying a thin layer of medication. McCoy pulled his arms back as if he was stung.

"Hey! That smarts!" he protested. Christine pulled his arms back toward her.

"Give it a chance to work!" she grumped. "Honestly, Doctor. I didn't know you were such a baby!" McCoy glared at his head nurse.

"You'll eat those words once you come down with this," he warned. Christine gave him a smug look.

"I don't plan to get sick," she said, snapping on a fresh pair of gloves. "We are following proper protocols for epidemic." McCoy gave Christine a look that was almost sheepish.

"Sorry, Chris," he said softly. "Didn't mean that I was wishing this on you. Hell, I wouldn't even wish it on Spock. Speaking of him, how is he? Is he still helping on the research end, or is he sick, too? You know, you'll really have your hands full if he gets sick." Christine smiled as she continued to apply the salve.

"He's been working on it since yesterday," she said. McCoy snorted.

"Probably hasn't rested, eaten, or changed his clothes since yesterday, either," he groused. McCoy gave the nurse the once over. "I could probably say the same for you, right, Chris?" Christine's face reddened. She had been found out. But with so much to do and so few people to do it, she hadn't had the chance to do anything but breathe.

"I ran around in the sonics this morning," she said, shamefaced. McCoy snorted again. He stood quietly as Christine treated his back. "So, when is M'Benga getting back?"

"He didn't make it before the quarantine," Christine explained, "so he and Jacobs went back to Starbase 11. They are waiting for us there." McCoy shook his head.

"So, in the meantime, you are stuck shorthanded with a boatload of sick people in the middle of an epidemic," he grumbled.

"Exactly," Christine replied. McCoy thought a while.

"So what have you discovered about this disease?" he queried.

"There seem to be several variations," Christine answered. "There's one group with high fevers, delirium, and some rash, like Scotty. There is a group with severe rash and some fever, like you. There's a third group that has sensitivity to light, like the captain. But what gets me is that each new case is more severe than the next. Also, those who have already recovered did not develop an immunity to the disease and are relapsing, like Chekov. I still haven't found the bacteria responsible for this disease, so I can't formulate a cure. All I can do is treat the symptoms." Christine leaned back and admired her handiwork. "There. All set for now. Please, try not to scratch yourself. You could end up with a staph infection. You know that."

"Yeah, yeah," McCoy muttered, pulling on his clothes.

"Where are you going?" Christine asked. McCoy gave her an incredulous look.

"I'm gonna help you, that's what."

Christine snickered. "You can't go back on duty!" she announced. "You're infectious. You have open sores, and fever."

"I can work in the labs," McCoy defended. Christine shook her head.

"You need to rest so you can get well, " she countered. "Then you can go back on duty."

"Poppycock!" he said, scratching behind his ears. "I'm fine!" Christine slapped his hands away.

"If you don't stop that, I'm going to sedate you!" she threatened.

"You wouldn't dare!" McCoy answered in kind.

Christine signaled with her hand. McCoy whirled to battle whomever was about to inject him. As the hypo unloaded its contents into his shoulder, McCoy realized that there was never anyone else in the room. Christine used the oldest trick in the book to fake him out and injected the doctor herself.

As she watched McCoy melt to the floor, Christine whispered, "Sweet dreams."

REPORT

From: USS Enterprise, Capt. James T. Kirk, commanding

To: Federation Center for Disease Control

Stardate: 6824.7

Subject: QUARANTINE

The crew of the USS Enterprise is presently experiencing an epidemic of an unknown illness contracted at the Castor/Pollux Interplanetary Recreational Center.

Symptoms: High fever, rash, weakness, joint pain, sensitivity to light, delirium.

Treatment: Unknown. Treating symptoms until cure can be found and/or developed: Rest, salve, cool compresses, fluids, time.

Research into the cause and spread of this disease is ongoing. Plague procedures are in place. All non-affected crew have been segregated. All medical personnel have been issued surgical gloves and masks. Ship is bound for the medical facilities on Starbase 11.

Requesting any and all information in this disease relayed to Enterprise ASAP.

Please advise -- CMO and half of medical staff have already been infected.

Lieutenant Christine Marie Chapel, RN, MSN Acting CMO, USS Enterprise

RESEARCH

"Nurse? Nurse Chapel!"

Christine was dreaming. Or was she? She had dreamt that she was sleeping in Spock's arms, and here he was waking her up. She stretched and rubbed her grainy eyes and looked into his concerned face.

"I'm okay, I'm okay," she said sleepily. "We're down two doctors, three nurses and a couple of orderlies. With more and more of the crew getting sick, I have to catch a few winks when I can."

"A few winks?"

"A nap, Mr. Spock," she explained. "So, what can I do for you? You're not getting sick, are you?" He shook his head.

"No, I came down to offer my services for research," Spock replied. "You and your staff have been so busy, I thought I would, as the colloquialism goes, lend a hand." Christine smiled tiredly.

"Wonderful! That is very kind of you." Her hand came up to cover a mighty yawn. Spock gave her a disapproving gaze.

"You need to see to your own health, Nurse," he chided gently. "You need to get some rest."

"I will, eventually," Christine answered. She turned and retrieved a padd from the desk. "I have been making a list of who has gotten sick, who was in the Hot Tub Gang, who has already recovered, and who has come down with a relapse. It seems that each new case is more severe. I know there has to be a pattern, but I can't find one yet. Maybe you'll have better luck."

Spock took the padd from Christine and gave it a quick perusal. Then he turned his gaze back to the nurse, who was yawning once again.

"Nurse Chapel," Spock said levelly, "I insist that you get some rest and something to eat before you attempt to care anyone else. We cannot lose another member of the medical staff." Before she had a chance to ague, Spock added, "Consider that an order." Christine sighed.

"Aye, sir," she replied, but instead of going to her cabin, the nurse threw herself across the cot in McCoy's office and fell fast asleep.

Spock sat at the Nurse's desk and poured over the information Christine had given him. He was still there thirty minutes later when the frantic call rang out.

"Uhura to Sickbay!"

Since he was closest to the intercom, Spock took the call.

"Sickbay. Spock here."

"Scotty's gone into convulsions!" Uhura reported. "Is there anyone there that can help him?"

Spock felt a rustle at his shoulder. Christine had dragged herself off the cot and over to the desk.

"Chapel here. Ny, can you turn him on his side? We'll be right there." Without waiting for a reply, Christine turned towards the med cabinet, scooped up a few things, bellowed, "Johnson, Kwan, grab a gurney!" and was out the door.

SCOTT

Uhura had been walking the halls, checking in on the sick. Her case had been mild and she was the first to recover. Still feeling guilty about bringing the disease on board, she took it upon herself to become the Morale Officer. Sometimes she would borrow Spock's harp and hold impromptu concerts in the corridors for anyone who left the cabin door ajar.

Sometimes, Uhura would help the nursing staff by placing cool cloths on sweaty foreheads or refilling water pitchers. It was during one of her "mercy tours" that she noticed an odd sound coming from Commander Scott's cabin.

Scott was rigid, thrashing on the bed. Uhura ran to the intercom and called Sickbay. It wasn't until after her frantic call that she realized that it had been Spock who answered the page. As she turned Scott on his side as instructed, Christine burst into the small room, followed by two orderlies with a gurney.

It didn't take long for Christine to scan Scott, inject him with medication, and whisk him off the bed, onto the gurney, and out the door. Uhura pulled the soiled linens off the bed and stuffed them into the laundry chute. It was then that the enormity of it all hit her. She sank down heavily onto Scott's bunk, dropped her head into her hands, and wept guilty tears.

KIRK

The captain did not consider it fair. He did not take shore leave this time. He did not experience the swim bar. In fact, he chose to sleep through his shore leave.

So why did he get this insipid disease? How did he get it? It didn't seem to be passed from person to person, or else a lot more of the crew would be affected.

And another thing. Why did he have to get the version that attacks the eyes? Kirk found the lights much too bright. He kept adjusting his lighting down to where it was barely 20% of normal. He also found the glare from his computer terminal to be unbearable. How was he supposed to get any paperwork done?

And a third thing. Kirk was finding Nurse Chapel to be something of a martinet when it came to his well being. It seemed that she caught him every time he got out of bed to work on the mountains of documents a starship can produce. Get even one day behind, and it was nearly impossible to catch up.

As Kirk squinted over his third padd, he noticed the sound of a cart being wheeled to his door. He quickly powered down the monitor, turned off the pads (cursing himself for not remembering to save his work!), ran to his bed and jumped under the covers.

"Computer, lights off!" he whispered.

Christine noticed the lights winking off as the cabin doors opened before her. She left the doors open so that she didn't need to turn the lights back on. She marched right over to the desk and laid her hand on the monitor.

"Captain, this screen is still warm," she said in a voice of authority. "You were supposed to be resting."

"Aw, Nurse Chapel," Kirk groused, "I spent my whole shore leave sleeping. That's got to count for something!" Christine shook her head.

"Nope. It doesn't work that way. You weren't sick then." She leaned over the captain, one hand on either side of him as he reclined in bed.

"Sir, you HAVE to stay away from the computer," Christine warned as she pressed Kirk into his bunk. "Your eyes cannot tolerate any bright light or other strain right now. Mr. Sulu informs me that we have safe passage to Starbase 11. You have to rest. If you do not stay in bed, I WILL restrain you!"

"You wouldn't dare," Kirk breathed. Chapel stood abruptly, went to the corridor and rifled noisily through the cart's contents.

"CHAPEL!" Kirk bellowed out the door, "Chapel, so help me, if you put me in restraints, I'll charge you with insubordination! I'll put you in irons! You'll spend the next month in the brig! I'll put you on bread and water! I'll..."

Chapel soon returned with a dark object in her hands. She unfolded it and placed it over Kirk's eyes.

"What's that?" Kirk demanded. Christine stood and crossed her arms.

"Sunglasses."

"Sunglasses?" Kirk repeated. "What for?" Christine loomed over him in the alpha dominance position again.

"Two reasons," she said levelly. "One, they will protect your eyes from any bright light. And two. They will remind you that you are sick, sir. You are endangering your vision by working on paperwork right now. And so, as Acting Chief Medical Officer, I'm ordering you to get some rest!"

Kirk glared with fever bright eyes at his Head Nurse as she tucked him in back into bed.

"I don't know what Spock sees in you," he muttered grumpily as he fell back asleep.

Christine's heart skipped a beat. What Spock sees in ME? she thought. She shook her head at the preposterous notion. It was only the fever talking, she tried to convince herself.

Or was it?

BRIDGE

Sulu fought back a yawn as he sat in the center seat. He had already pulled a double shift, again, and it looked as thought he might be there a third. He turned tired eyes to the lift doors as they whooshed open.

An equally tired Spock exited and dropped down to the command chair.

"Relieving you, Mr. Sulu," he said. Sulu looked him over carefully.

"Begging your pardon, Mr. Spock," he said, "but are you all right? You look beat."

"I have spent the last 48 hours in the labs researching the cause of this disease," he admitted, "and while it would be illogical to deny that I am fatigued, a brief shower has revived me somewhat. A Vulcan needs less rest than a Human. This said, please go and take your rest. I will need you back on duty in eight hours." Sulu eyed the Vulcan as he climbed into the center seat and sat heavily. Sulu eyed Uhura meaningfully as he passed her station.

"Are you well enough to pull a whole shift?" he whispered to her. She smiled tiredly.

"Yes, I think so," she answered in kind. Sulu motioned with his eyes to the Vulcan.

"Call me if he gets sick," Sulu said so quietly that Uhura had to read his lips to be sure of the words. She nodded in response.

SPOCK, pt. 1

Uhura signaled at Spock's cabin door. She nearly jumped as the door opened. She hadn't heard Spock reply.

Spock was sprawled in an uncharacteristic pose at his desk chair, his arms hanging useless at his side. One foot was turned under him. Uhura wondered how he could even keep himself from falling off the edge of the chair. She rushed to his side and took an arm, nearly releasing it as the Vulcan's temperature registered.

"Sugar, you're burning up," Uhura cooed. "Let's get you seated more securely, and then I'll call for help." Spock grimaced as she slipped her hands under his arms. "Oh, I'm sorry. You must have broken out in the rash already." Pulling on the back waistband of Spock's trousers, Uhura helped him to sit back -- which forced a near scream form Spock. "I'm so sorry, Pumpkin, but falling on the floor would have hurt a lot worse." Spock rested his arms on the desk and lowered his aching head on them. Uhura hit the intercom.

"Uhura to Sickbay," she called.

"Sickbay. Chapel here," came the tired response.

"Add Mr. Spock to the sick list, Chris," Uhura replied. "I'm in his cabin. He'll need some help getting into bed." Uhura could hear a deep sigh.

"On my way. Chapel out."

A tired Nurse Chapel appeared at the door to Spock's quarters attired in rubber gloves and mask. Two equally exhausted orderlies stood behind her. Christine ran the med scanner over Spock, checked its findings, and clicked her tongue.

"Okay, boys," she sighed. "Get him in bed." Uhura thought that the orderlies would simply carry the Vulcan to the bed. Instead they put one strap under Spock's thighs and another behind his shoulders. Attaching them to anti-grav units, the orderlies gently lifted Spock and carried him to the bed. Christine tugged off his boots and socks while Spock was suspended. Next came his trousers, followed soon by his uniform shirt.

Christine did a cursory once over of Spock's skin. She noticed that the rash was full blown in all of Spock's creases.

Spock rallied when Christine prepared to sponge him down with cool water.

"No," he moaned weakly. "The water!"

"Water?" she repeated.

"Check the water supply," he gasped. "I wasn't sick until I took that shower."

Christine looked at the basin of water the orderlies had brought her from Spock's lavatory and the sponge she held in her hand. The nurse had never been more thankful for a pair of protective gloves.

"I'll call the science labs and tell them to check the water," Uhura offered. Christine had forgotten that she was still there.

"Better do a shipwide hail to warn the crew not to use any water that doesn't come out of a ration pack," the nurse added, motioning the other orderly towards the replicator. "Get me four ration packs of water," she ordered. As Christine changed into a fresh pair of gloves, she could hear Uhura's voice echoing in the corridor, "All hands, now hear this." Opening a new steri-pack of sponges and a container of water, Christine gently cleansed and dried the affected areas of Spock's body, then spread a soothing unguent over them. She motioned the orderlies to cover the Vulcan. Christine didn't have to use the scanner to know that Spock had passed out. That was evident from his silence as she "played servant" to him.

Uhura joined Christine by the bed as the orderlies packed up the supplies they had brought.

"It was a good thing you were here, Ny," Christine murmured, not wanting to disturb Spock's rest.

"I had come to borrow his harp," she whispered back. Uhura took a gulp of air, almost a sob. "Why did I insist our group all go to that swim bar?"

"You can't blame yourself, Ny," Christine replied softly. "Our bio filters must be off on the transporter. It should have taken care of this."

One of the orderlies tapped Christine gently on the arm.

"Excuse me, ma'am," he said. "You are being paged." Christine moved toward the desk.

"Chapel here."

"Adams here, ma'am. Mr. Scott has taken a turn for the worse. Looks like encephalitis." Christine gasped.

"On my way." She turned to the orderlies. "C'mon, guys," she said as she rushed from the room.

Uhura lingered behind, studying Spock's still face.

"I just came to ask if I could borrow your harp again, Sugar," she crooned. "I'm so sorry you got sick." Uhura lightly brushed Spock's hair back into place before leaving, his Vulcan harp tucked under her arm. No matter what anyone told her, Uhura felt responsible for this outbreak. She promised herself that she would so what she could to ease everyone's suffering.

CHEKOV

"Pavel," Uhura chided, "why are you still in bed?" Chekov had been with her landing party group and was one of the first to get sick.

"I am wery seeck," he moaned.

"Pavel, you had a mild case like me," Uhura fumed. You should be on your feet by now!"

"I tink I had a relapse," he grumbled.

"A relapse?"

"Da," he grouched in response. "My rash is back vit a wengence. I couldn't possibly seet for a whole duty sheeft."

"Well, what did you do to make the rash return?" Uhura queried.

"Notink," Chekov replied, perturbed. "I jest took a leetle shower to vash all dat gunk off."

"Gunk?" Uhura interjected.

"Da, gunk. You know, the medicine dey have been putting on us. I vashed it off and I got back de rash." Uhura thought a moment. Maybe it is in the water. She moved towards the door.

"Pav, I need to tell Christine about this," she said as she moved towards the door. "You sit tight."

"Sit tight?" he groused to himself. "I can do neither of dose tings right now!"

Uhura rushed to the science labs with her news.

"Chris? Chris!" she called.

"In here," Christine called from Science Lab 2. Uhura paused to catch her breath.

"Chekov's had a relapse," she announced breathlessly. Christine sighed and started to get to her feet. "Wait," Uhura interrupted. "I've already asked Ames to go see him." Uhura took another gulp of air. "It is in the water. Pavel said that he took a shower and he got worse. Just like Spock got sick after taking a shower." Christine looked over her notes.

"Ny, have you had a shower since you've been sick?" she asked.

"Why?" Uhura asked, sniffing under her arms. "Do I stink?" Christine smiled tiredly.

"No, I mean have you had a water shower or have you only used sonics?"

"I've only had time for a quick run around in the sonics." Uhura's eyes lit up. "And I suppose, Miss Christine, that you haven't had time to bathe either, right?" Christine turned to the terminal.

"Computer."

"Working."

"Compare sick roster to water usage." The computer signaled that it was ready. "Compare well crewmembers to water usage."

"Well crewmembers have used 98% less water than sick crewmembers."

The women both brightened at the computer's report.

"That's it then," breathed Uhura.

"Spock was right, but then, when isn't he?" Christine added. She turned to the communications officer. "Ny, it's time for another shipwide announcement. Tell everyone to stop their water consumption immediately. Tell them to limit themselves to sonic showers only until we get the water system purged. That means no sponge baths, no drinking from any faucets, no brushing one's teeth even, unless it's done with the ration pack water."

Uhura moved to the com link and began, "All hands, now hear this..."

SPOCK, pt. 2

Christine wearily pushed the handcart to the next doorway. Spock's cabin. He had been the last to get sick, and it looked as if the disease had mutated to another degree of severity. His rash was more pronounced, the fever higher, and the delirium more fanciful. He had not moved from the time the nurse had helped him into the bed except for the slight hand movements and random facial tics. Christine wondered what demons he was fighting today.

After donning a fresh set of gloves, Christine emptied two chilled, purified water packs into a clean basin, opened a pack of sterile sponges, and began to drape cool, wet cloths on Spock's forehead. She used the other sponges to gently bathe him and pat him dry. She rubbed a soothing salve onto the worst of his rash, then covered him with a sheet. She noted his temperature, pulse and blood pressure in his chart.

"If you insist in playing servant to me and in touching me in such a provocative manner, we will need to get married."

Christine nearly jumped at the sound of his deep voice. She looked down at the bed and saw Spock looking at her with sultry -- and fever-shined -- eyes. It took a moment for her to find her voice.

"Oh, you say that to all the nurses," she bantered. She noticed Spock looking past her with consternation to his anteroom.

"I-Chaya!" he ordered weakly. "Get off the chair!" Christine looked at the seat -- the very empty seat -- by Spock's desk. "How did you get in my room? Mother will be displeased. Now, go outside! Go where you belong!"

After this tirade, Spock fell wearily against the bed.

"Who's I-Chaya?" Christine asked. Spock looked confused.

"I-Chaya, my sehlat," Spock answered petulantly. "You know him. We play with him every time you come over." Spock looked around the cabin as if searching.

"What are you looking for, Spock?" Christine asked as she changed the cloths on his head.

"My father," he answered in a small voice. "He should be here. He's always nearby when I am sick." Christine held a straw to his lips, trying to coax him to drink some water.

"Sarek is not here, Spock," she soothed. He hung his head.

"But he always holds me when I'm sick," Spock said moodily. "He holds me for days and days until I'm better." Again Spock turned a smoky gaze to Christine. "You could hold me," he prompted. Christine raised a brow in a nearly Vulcan fashion.

"You need rest and fluids," she replied, suddenly no-nonsense. "My holding you is not going to get you better any faster. The sooner you get better, the sooner we can get back to researching this illness and work on a cure." Spock sunk low into the covers.

"Yes, ma'am," he pouted.

"Good," Christine nodded. "Now, I have to get back to my rounds. I have the whole command deck today. I will be back to check on you, but that won't be for several hours. Call me if you have an emergency." She pulled off her soiled gloves and donned a fresh pair. When Spock did not respond to the snap of the sterile gloves, Christine knew he had fallen back to sleep.

RECOVERY

Kirk and Chekov exited the lift onto the bridge. It had been a rough week for the whole ship. A bleary eyed Sulu turned in the center seat.

"Am I glad to see you, Captain!" he said wearily. Kirk looked at him askance.

"Don't tell me you've been on duty the whole time!" he exclaimed. Sulu gave him a sheepish smile as he vacated the chair.

"It fells like it," he replied. "Actually, I only pulled three double shifts. Or was it four?" Kirk clapped the Asian on the back.

"Well, Sulu," Kirk replied affably, "thank you for bringing us into safe harbor. Go get some rest." Sulu's tired eyes lit up.

"With pleasure!" Sulu pulled himself up the steps and into the lift. At the doors, Sulu paused and turned to the captain with a wicked glint in his eye.

"Oh, and Captain?" he called. Kirk turned to Sulu. "Nice shades!"

Kirk raised a hand to the sunglasses Nurse Chapel still insisted he wear for the next 24 hours as the doors closed on a laughing Sulu. Chekov nearly choked on the chuckle he tried to stifle. Kirk whipped around to him with a glare.

"Laugh it up, donut boy!" the captain muttered, referring to the object Chekov had tucked under his arm. It was an inflatable ring for his seat. The Russian's rash had been so pronounced on his groin that it hadn't cleared up completely. However, due to the shortage of personnel, he was pressed into returning to duty. Nurse Chapel had said that the ring would take some pressure off the affected area. Chekov was willing to try anything. He had gotten so terribly bored while recuperating!

Discreetly, Chekov pulled the object out, gave it a few puffs of air and set it on the seat at the navigation console. He gingerly parked his backside on it, letting out a "Boze moi!" at his tender rear made contact. He shifted a bit until he found a somewhat comfortable position. Noticing how unsteady he felt on the cushion, Chekov muttered, "I tink I'm goink to be spaceseek!"

* * *

Uhura walked into a quiet Sickbay. The last of the patients had been discharged to their own quarters, and the nurses had begun to filter back. Dr. M'Benga and Nurse Jacobs were returning in three hours from their unexpected extended leave. She found Nurse Chapel seated at her desk.

"As soon as I download this report," Christine said tiredly, "I'm going to gather an armload of water ration packs, find a tub, and take a long hot, soak. I do not want to see another pustule as long as I live!"

Uhura knew she was trying to be humorous, but the words stung nonetheless. Christine saw her friend lower her head in shame.

"Ny?" she asked tentatively.

"Now I know how Typhoid Mary must have felt," Uhura said sadly.

"Now, Nyota," Christine chided, "stop blaming yourself. You were a big help to the nursing staff." Uhura threw up her hands.

"Some help!" she fumed. "I ended up infecting and reinfecting some of the crew!"

Christine put her hands on Uhura's shoulders.

"You didn't know," she said, shaking Uhura gently. "None of us knew. Still, you helped us by checking on the crew when we were doing cabin calls. And those impromptu concerts really soothed some frazzled nerves. I know. People told me.

"You also got important messages to the crew," Christine continued. "All of us could have gotten sick if it weren't for you. And then where would we be?" Christine rubbed Uhura's arms. "You were a real angel." Uhura smiled at that.

"What about yourself, Miss Florence Nightingale?" she teased. "Holding down Sickbay, researching the disease, finding the culprit and a treatment, going door to door smearing cream on everyone I don't want to know where, and I know you hardly slept all week." Christine laughed.

"Oh, I'm going to get a lot of sleep now," she acclaimed. "That is, if I don't have nightmares." Uhura was puzzled.

"From the disease?" Christine shook her head.

"From everybody's ramblings. You should have heard some of it. I got propositioned more times that I care to admit." She smiled shyly. "And one marriage proposal," she whispered. Uhura studied her friend's dreamy expression.

"He didn't!" she breathed.

"He did," Christine replied wistfully. "Too bad he doesn't remember any of it."

Uhura slipped her arm into Christine's and steered her away from her desk.

"Come on. Your report is finished, we are both off duty, it's lunchtime and I'm buying," she stated. "After all this, Chris, I know you need a drink."

The two women walked toward the doors. Right before they reached them, they parted and revealed a scabby, crabby McCoy coming back on duty.

As the two women pushed by him, they announced,

"MAKE WAY FOR THE ANGELS OF THE EPIDEMIC!!"

FIN

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