This is a stand-alone story that can fit anywhere in the Voyage timeline.
Sickbay was still and quiet, the lights dimmed for the evening. I know I should be in my cabin but I couldn't leave him in this condition. I sat off to the side, arms crossed over my chest, my legs stretched out in from of me. I could feel Seaview as she glided through the ocean. Her trim was good and she was maintaining speed so the repairs must be holding. I had confidence in the damage control parties and in Chip to keep everything in top shape until we got back home.
Meanwhile, I stared at the figure in the bunk, watching the rhythm of his breathing, the rise and fall of his chest. He had to wake up. He had to. The idea that I would never set on the edge of his desk or argue with him over some scientific itch he felt the need to scratch wasn't negotiable. The admiral had to wake up.
Jamie had promised me that he should pull out of this. I just couldn't get that scene out of my head, the explosion that knocked the admiral into the bulkhead, watching him slide limply down onto the floor. I thought my heart had stopped beating as I search for a pulse and finally found one, weak and thready. It wasn't until I reached under his head that I saw the blood. Blood on my hands, blood on my fingers, still warm, the life force of the admiral, a bright vermilion stain on the Missile Room floor.
Jamie had chased me out during the surgery. I tried to keep busy with the repairs and reports, but I just couldn't get my mind off the admiral. God help me if something happened to him. It should have been me working on that bomb, not him. He always took too many risks, too many chances. What if I lost him before I had learned all I could from him? There was so much more he needed to teach me, to show me. I couldn't loose him now. I just couldn't.
In the time I had gotten to know Admiral Nelson, he had become more than just my boss. He was my friend, my mentor, my teacher, kind of a father figure for me. He listened to my doubts, and my fears, and sometimes we argued. He didn't like my taking on ONI missions any more than Chip but he tolerated them. Somehow he knew what they meant to me, how I couldn't not take them if my country needed me.
I raked a hand through my hair, rubbed at tired eyes with the other. I couldn't pull my gaze away from the man in the bunk, the most brilliant man I ever knew, who intelligence had saved mankind from threats no sane person could even fathom. The slow rise and fall of his broad chest, the steady beep of the heart monitor, they were the only hints that the man was still alive.
I couldn't leave him like this. If I had to stay all night, I vowed to be here when he woke up.
When he woke up. There was no if. I refused to admit to the word. The admiral would wake up. He had to. And when he did, I would be there.