Fandom: Star Trek (2009)
Word count: 6230
Disclaimer: Not my characters, not my world; only my fic; all gains purely spiritual in nature.
Summary: McCoy suddenly finds himself with a newborn he didn't know he had. Jim convinces him to stay at the Academy.
Notes/Warnings: This is what happens when you start thinking about fanfic at a baby shower. I don't think it came out sappy or anything, though. I actually wrote this in my Palm Centro while travelling in Italy. I tried to catch all the typos once I got the fic onto a larger screen, but if I missed any, feel free to let me know. Title is from "Overkill" by Men at Work
Of Diving in Too Deep
Jim's done with Warp Engineering for the day.
Warp Engineering isn't actually done with Jim for another half an hour, but Jim already taught himself all this last week and he's bored, so he ducks out the back.
He heads to Bones' room. He thinks that's where his Xenobio PADD is. He knows it's where his annoying roommate isn't.
Bones has a single, the lucky bastard, and Jim would be jealous if not for the fact that he lives there half the time anyway. Someone's gotta give Bones the annoying-roommate experience, after all, and at least Jim's got the decency to be an annoying roommate with benefits.
Bones won't be back from his clinic shift for a couple of hours at least. By dinner if he's lucky.
But Jim needs to study anyway.
He keys in the code and strips off his uniform shirt, drops it on the floor, picks the PADD up off the desk and flops down on Bones' bed.
Ten minutes later, he's asleep.
Jim wakes to the chime of the door. His eyes pop open and blink at the wall chronometer in confusion. It's still too early for Bones. And why would he be chiming anyway?
Jim rolls out of bed and walks to the door to hit the manual open button. It opens to reveal a woman. Late twenties maybe. Pretty but tired. Also confused.
"Isn't this Lenny's room?"
"Lenny?" Jim repeats, genuinely confused himself.
"Leonard McCoy," the woman says. "They told me this was his room."
"Right, yeah, sorry. This is it. Was he expecting you?" Jim wakes himself up more fully and flashes a smile. "He probably won't be back for at least another hour, but you can come in and wait if you want." He lowers his voice just slightly. "I'm sure we can find a way to keep each other entertained."
She really is pretty and Bones probably wouldn't mind if Jim did her in Bones' bed. As long as he changes the sheets this time.
The woman's eyes dart around the hallway and she doesn't answer.
Jim sticks out his hand. "I'm Jim," he says. "Jim Kirk."
She doesn't give her name or shake his hand, and that's when Jim realizes she's holding something in her right hand. The handle of some sort of carrier, which rests against her thigh. He can see blankets and he swears he hears cooing.
"I have to go," the woman says, bringing Jim's eyes back to her face.
"Okay. Do you want me to give him a message or something?"
The woman sizes him up for a moment, then thrusts the carrier at him. Jim's hand wraps around the handle automatically.
"Give him this," she says.
Jim looks down and sees the blanket move. Four tiny fingers peek out from between its folds. "Um...wait a minute. What—?"
"Tell him she's his."
"She'll probably be hungry in about an hour. There's a bottle in here." She drops a bag onto the floor in front of him. "If she cries after that, she needs changed."
"Changed?" Jim' starting to feel mind panic. "Hold on...I don't...I mean..." Jim tries to hand the carrier back but the woman is already backing away.
"I can't do it," she says. "I thought I could but I can't. She really is his. Tell him it was the night we signed the papers."
Jim thinks he's starting to put it together now and he's pretty sure he never should have answered the door.
"Her name is Joanna," she tells him before turning away and practically fleeing down the hall.
Jim stands there in the open doorway. He looks down, reaches out and tugs gently at the blanket. A tiny face appears.
"Shit," Jim says.
The first thing McCoy sees when he gets back to his room is Jim's back. Tired as he is, he's glad.
"Christ, Jim, you wouldn't believe the day I've had. I need a shower and a drink. Not necessarily in that..." He trails off as Jim turns around. "Jim, why are you holding a baby?"
"Because it was the only way to get her to fall asleep after her bottle," Jim whispers, "and every time I try to put her down, she cries."
"Okay," McCoy says slowly, "let me rephrase that—"
"Not so loud," Jim hisses.
The exasperation in McCoy's voice rises even as its volume lowers. "Jim – where did that baby come from?"
"Well, Bones," Jim says in a calm, soothing tone as he gently bounces the baby up and down on his shoulder – an image Bones still hasn't wrapped his head around, "sometimes when a man and a woman love each other very much..."
"Dammit, Jim." McCoy scowls as Jim covers the baby's tiny ear, but lowers his voice to a harsh whisper. "Did you knock some girl up?"
"When a man and a woman love each other very much," Jim repeats unfazed, "sometimes they get married because they think that will show that they want to be together forever, but then forever turns out to be more like a couple of years and when they figure out they actually can't stand each other they decide to get a divorce, and the woman decides to take the man for everything he owns and the man decides to join Starfleet – which turns out to be pretty awesome, except for the fact that when the man and the woman sign the divorce papers, they experience a terrible lapse of judgment – or, you know, just really hot divorce sex – and nine months later..."
The light is starting to dawn. In fact, it's starting to get pretty fucking blinding. "Shit," McCoy whispers.
"That's what I said."
McCoy takes a deep breath and let's it out slowly. "I want you to explain exactly what happened. Use small words."
Jim nods. "I was studying. A woman came by asking for 'Lenny.' Once I realized she was talking about you, I told her you'd be back in a couple hours. She said she couldn't 'do this.' She said to tell you it was the night you signed the papers and then she handed me Jo-Jo here."
"And you just took her?"
"What was I supposed to do? Drop her?"
Bones opens his mouth to call Jim a smartass or something like that, but then the baby starts to move in Jim's arms and the words die on his lips. "Jo-Jo?" he asks instead.
"Bones," Jim says, "meet Joanna McCoy."
"She's mine," McCoy says.
Jim nods and steps closer. "You wanna hold her?"
For McCoy it's love at first sight.
For Joanna, not so much.
He's been holding her and staring down into her tiny, perfect face for about thirty seconds when that face crumbles and she starts squalling.
He spends another minute or so trying to soothe her before Jim steps in, sliding her out of McCoy's arms. "Why don't I just hold onto her for a few more minutes while you grab that shower?"
Joanna stops crying as soon as she’s cradled against Jim's shoulder again. McCoy doesn't know whether he wants to kiss Jim or punch him. He heads to the shower instead.
The next time McCoy tries to hold her, Joanna doesn't cry.
"See?" Jim says. "Maybe you just smelled bad before."
McCoy thinks it’s more likely that Joanna sensed the change from Jim’s easy confidence to his own paralyzing fear, which is only just now beginning to fade.
Jim hands him a bottle, which he carefully tilts toward her tiny grasping lips.
"I think I've got it from here," McCoy says, even though it’s a blatant lie. "I'll figure the rest out in the morning." Jim only stays when they fuck and it's not like McCoy's in the mood.
"Nah," Jim says. "You're exhausted and she's gonna need to be changed and fed all night. We can take turns."
McCoy thinks he should say no. The whole situation's awkward as hell and if it says anything at all about their relationship, it's something that scares the shit out of him, but it scares the shit out of him slightly less than spending the whole night alone with his brand new daughter.
"I'm starving," he says instead. "Have you eaten?"
When Jim wakes up the next morning – or at least for the first time that really counts as morning – Bones is already up, sitting at his desk with a cup of coffee, Joanna gurgling in the carrier beside him as he absently rocks it back and forth and stares sometimes down, sometimes off into space.
Jim rolls out of bed and goes to stand behind Bones, laying a hand on his shoulder. He waves at the baby with his other hand. "Hey, Jo-Jo." He squeezes Bones' shoulder and points over it at the coffee. "You make any of that for me?" If there're two things Bones would never replicate, they’re whiskey and coffee – or whiskey in coffee.
Bones points to the pot, sitting on the edge of the desk. Jim grabs a mug off the shelf and fills it. "So, what can I do? Feeding, changing, general entertainment?"
"You've got class in 45 minutes."
Jim shrugs. "I could skip."
"Don't worry about it. I have the day off. I reported a family emergency."
Family emergency. The euphemism's almost too fitting and Jim really doesn't think he should leave Bones alone today, but he showers and throws on the spare cadet uniform he keeps in Bones closet.
"Are you sure you don't want me to stay?"
Bones shakes his head, but Jim can't shake the feeling that he should be sticking around for moral support or maybe just to keep Bones from overreacting and doing something stupid.
But hey, it's only three hours until lunch.
"I'm moving back to Georgia," Bones announces over lunch.
Jim's sharp tone wakes Joanna and he scoops her out of her carrier without thinking, rocking her as he paces around Bones' room.
He knew he shouldn't have left Bones alone for so long.
"I tested her DNA," Bones continues. "She's definitely mine. She's six weeks old. Wherever Jocelyn's gone, she doesn't want to be found. And her friends and family aren't talking. Not that that's a surprise since they never much cared for me even back when she still did. Anyway, I'll go back and find a civilian job."
"I have a kid, Jim."
"Cadets can have kids. They'll just move you over into family housing. Family housing is awesome. The beds are huge. And there's daycare."
"How do you even know that, Jim?"
"Single parents need love, too, Bones. Which is why you should stay."
"So I can sleep with you?"
Jim grins. "Well, not only. Come on – what's in Georgia, anyway?"
"Who hate you?"
"Children need family."
"So they can learn emotional blackmail and the fine art of exchanging petty barbs?"
"No, I mean it. Screw Georgia. Stay."
Bones sighs. "What d'you even care?"
Jim just stares at him for a moment. "Are you fucking kidding me?"
Bones opens his mouth and then closes it again. "Fine," he says.
"So are we ever going to have sex again?" Jim asks three weeks later.
Since Jim poses the question in baby talk while playing peekaboo with Joanna, it takes McCoy a moment to process the words and realize they're meant for him.
"What?" Jim pulls his hands away from his eyes. Joanna smiles up at him.
"Do you want her first word to be 'sex'?"
"Oh, but it's okay if it's 'dammit'?"
"Yes," McCoy says. "You don't talk about S-E-X around a B-A-B-Y."
"Do you realize you just spelled the word 'baby'? And she can't even say 'Da-da' yet - I'm pretty sure this whole conversation's gonna go right on over her itty bitty little head." The last bit dissolves into baby talk again, which becomes extra disturbing when it doesn't stop. "Besides, we don't want little Jo-Jo to be all sexually repressed, do we? No, we don't. Oh no, we don't. Because that's no good at all, is it, Jo-Jo? No, it isn't. Because sex is F-U-N."
"Jim - I swear to God, if you ever want to have sex with me again..."
"Your daddy is a mean, mean man, Jo-Jo. And he doesn't care at all about your Uncle Jim's needs..."
"Oh, for Christ's sake..." McCoy steps between Jim and his daughter, scooping her out of her swing to cradle her in the crook of his arm as he gives her her bottle. "You're hardly deprived, Jim. I know for a fact that you've gone out and gotten your 'needs' met at least twice this week."
"Not my need to have sex with you."
McCoy scowls. No man should be allowed to have a pout that sexy.
"I have a kid now. I barely have time to sleep."
"So make time. Just because you've managed to procreate doesn't mean you're supposed to retire your dick."
"Could you not say 'dick' in front of my daughter?"
"Then why don't you put your daughter down for a nap in the other room so we can stop talking about your D-I-C-K and put it to better use? Say, up my A-S-S."
Jim Kirk talking dirty - no spelling dirty - while McCoy feeds his infant daughter her bottle should not be a turn on.
But then no one ever accused Jim Kirk of being conventional.
McCoy feeds Joanna the rest of her bottle, takes the time to burp her properly, rocks her gently to sleep and lays her carefully down in her room.
Then he goes back to the living room, drags Jim into the bedroom and proceeds to F-U-C-K him blind.
With all the shifting around of his life – new housing, new schedule, new rhythms - McCoy almost doesn't notice how much Jim's been around until suddenly he isn't anymore.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly when he disappears. First there are some exams to study for, then a date with some girl here, a party he promised to drop in on there. And then one day Joanna rolls from herself from her tummy to her back for the first time and McCoy turns to tell Jim she's a goddamned genius, but Jim isn't there. And McCoy realizes he hasn't seen Jim in at least a week and then only in passing, with Jim mumbling some excuse, and McCoy gets up and goes to the closet and realizes Jim's spare uniform isn't there anymore.
"Well," he tells Joanna, setting her back on her tummy. "I guess that's that."
It doesn't even occur to him that Jim Kirk counted as adult companionship, let alone that he's been starved for it since Jim disappeared, until the day that another parent at the daycare asks McCoy if he wasn't in Delsing's History of the Federation class last semester and he proceeds to talk her ear off for the next twenty minutes about everything from dark matter to diaper rash.
When he finally realizes he's been rambling, he trails off and offers a wry smile. "Sorry about that."
"Single parent?" the woman asks.
McCoy nods. "How could you tell?"
"Children are a blessing and all," she says. "But they aren't exactly known for their scintillating conversation. I'm Jamelia, by the way."
"I'm Leonard, but most people call me McCoy."
"Well, look – we single Starfleet parents have to stick together." She points to a man across the room squatting down to talk to a boy of about two. "Vivek and I try to have lunch together on campus whenever we can. Sometimes we take the kids out to play or for dinner or something. You're welcome anytime."
"Yeah," McCoy says, "I think I'd like that."
It only takes a couple of lunches for McCoy to realize that Jamelia and Vivek are totally into each other, but he laughs with them more than he has in a long time, they give great parenting tips, and they don't treat him like a third wheel. They're sharp and interesting and just cynical enough for his taste. He learns that they each have their reasons for not being quite ready for more than a friendship and if his presence diffuses a bit of the tension, McCoy figures it's the least he can offer in return for being kept from going crazy.
"My advisor wants me to transfer out of the command track," Jamelia tells them over lunch one day.
"What?" Vivek is clearly pissed. "You already gave up flying. You're a mother, not an invalid."
"I know. But she says most senior starbase positions go to people who've already served on starships, which is such bullshit since they're the ones who won't let me on a starship in the first place."
The command track. She probably knows Jim, then.
He shakes off that thought and focuses on the conversation. "You wanted to serve on a starship?"
"I wanted to fly a starship, actually. It's the whole reason I enlisted. And then there was Angie. So unless I found someone to leave her with on planet – which I wouldn't want to do anyway – the best I can hope for is a starbase or an outpost."
He thinks about Jim being raised by his stepfather.
"A nice posting planetside somewhere doesn't sound so bad."
Vivek laughs. "Are you kidding? The minute Raj leaves home, I'm on the first ship that'll take me. All the great innovations in warp engineering come from the field. You seriously aren't dying to get out there?"
"I'm not big on flying," McCoy admits. "Or space."
Jamelia snorts. "You do know that Starfleet operates in space?"
"So I've been told." McCoy wonders not for the first time what the hell he's still doing here.
Jamelia shrugs. "Just as well, I guess. Until they stop making us choose between family and service."
And that's when McCoy realizes that Jim was right to go when he did. Before Joanna got too used to him.
A month later, McCoy and Vivek take Joanna and Raj into town for dinner. Jamelia stays home with Angie, who has a cough. Movement between the bus and the restaurant is a whole production, as always, and no sooner has Vivek taken Joanna so that McCoy can rummage through the diaper bag, than Raj decides to run off down the busy sidewalk.
"I'll get him," McCoy offers, taking off after the kid before he can decide the street is a nice place to play.
He catches up to Raj in a crowd of cadets when Raj runs smack into someone's legs. Bones scoops him up quickly and settles him on one hip before looking up to apologize to the legs' owner.
"Sorry about th—Jim."
"Bones?" Jim looks first at McCoy's face and then at the brown-skinned kid on his hip. "What're you—?"
Before he can finish Vivek catches up with Joanna and the diaper bag. "Raj!" he says, totally unaware of the way McCoy and Jim are staring at each other. "You know better than to go running off like that. Come here." He glances at McCoy. "Switch?"
McCoy sets Raj down and takes Joanna, slips the diaper bag from Vivek's shoulder and places it over his own.
Jim is still standing there and still staring.
"Sorry about that," Vivek tells Jim. "Raj, tell the nice man you're sorry you ran into him."
Raj dutifully produces a slur of words that vaguely resemble, 'Sorry I ran into you.'
"Vivek, this is Jim," McCoy says. "Jim, Vivek."
"Oh, hey," Vivek says by way of greeting but Jim is too busy staring at Joanna.
"How come her dress is all wet?" Jim asks.
"She's teething," McCoy says, "so she drools pretty much constantly. I put on a dry dress, she gets it wet. I put on another dry dress, she gets it wet. I put on another dry dress...well, you get the picture. She's only been wearing this one for about ten minutes, but I'm out of dry ones so this is just going to have to last her through dinner."
McCoy realizes he's rambling but he guesses it's better than what he wants to do, which is just turn around and walk away.
"Teething?" Jim repeats.
"Yeah." McCoy looks down at Joanna who's turned to smile widely at Jim because kids are stupid that way.
Jim waves at her. "Hey, Jo-Jo," he says. "Remember me?"
"I think your drinking buddies are leaving you," McCoy says, glancing over his own shoulder at the group of cadets that's now almost out of sight. He shifts Joanna in his arms so she's no longer looking at Jim. "And we've got to get to dinner."
Jim blinks but doesn't move. "Oh, okay," he says. "I guess I'll see you around."
McCoy shrugs. "You know where to find me."
He tells himself it's a reprimand, not an invitation.
Jim finds him in his room much later that night. Joanna's asleep and McCoy is studying – or trying to find the energy to study anyway. When the door opens and Jim stumbles in, McCoy realizes he never changed the code.
"Go home, Jim," he says, without looking up.
"Why?" Jim wanders further into the room and looks around. "Is he here?"
"He?" It takes McCoy a minute. "You mean Vivek? No. Go home because it's one a.m. and you're drunk."
Jim drops onto the couch next to him. "Aw, come on, Bones." He leans over and plants a sloppy kiss on McCoy's lips.
McCoy pushes him off.
"Whatsamatter?" Jim asks.
Jim reaches for McCoy's fly, but McCoy bats the hand away. "Never cared before," Jim pouts.
It's true. Jim's still good drunk. Sometimes he's even better. It's not that McCoy's not tempted either. Jamelia and Vivek may have fulfilled his need for companionship, but he still feels starved for touch. He could just let it happen, worry about the consequences later, or never, but...
"Things are different now."
"What's so fucking different?" Jim asks, almost belligerent. "You have a kid – so now if I want to fuck you I'm supposed to marry you or something?"
McCoy takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. "No, Jim. I have a kid – so now if you want to be in my life you have to fucking be in my life."
"So, what – you want me to stop fucking around?"
McCoy rubs a hand over his face. "I don't care who you fuck, Jim. I want you to be around. Children need stability."
Jim looks around the otherwise empty room. "Jo-Jo doesn't even know I'm here."
"Fine, then," McCoy snaps. "I need stability, alright? I'm raising a child, Jim. It's fucking hard."
A moment passes with only the sound of their breathing.
Finally, McCoy stands up and pulls Jim to his feet. "If you still want to have this conversation tomorrow, come back sober."
"She has teeth now," Jim says suddenly. "Teeth. And I missed it."
McCoy steers him towards the door. "You missed a lot of things."
"I'm sorry," Jim whispers.
"Me, too." McCoy pushes the button and the door slides open.
"I was scared," Jim confesses as he steps through.
McCoy pushes the button again and watches the door slide shut between them. "Me, too," he says.
Jamelia drops by the following morning with a much recovered Angie. McCoy checks her over anyway, then pours Jamelia a cup of coffee.
He still makes too much in the mornings sometimes.
Angie toddles around the living room, occasionally pausing to push Joanna in her swing and shout, "Jo!"
"So," Jamelia asks, making herself at home on the couch, "what's the deal with you and this Jim guy you ran into last night? Vivek said he could have cut the tension with a knife."
"When did you have time to gossip with Vivek?"
"We talked on the comm last night when he got home."
McCoy snorts. "You know if anyone needs to be questioned about her love life..."
"Aha, so this Jim is someone you're involved with!"
McCoy sighs. "Any chance of me getting you to drop this?"
"Not a snowball's chance on Mercury," Jamelia assures him.
Which is how McCoy ends up telling her the whole story.
"So," Jamelia says, "when he shows up later..."
"If he shows up later."
"When he shows up later, are you going to take him back?"
Take him back. The words sound weird. "It's not like that," McCoy says.
"Not like what?"
"I don't know. Not like with my Ex. With all the romance and shit."
Jamelia shrugs. "Well, given how that ended up, maybe you're due for something different."
McCoy takes in a slow breath and lets it out. "All he wants in the universe is to captain a starship. He's not going to give that up for me or Jo. I wouldn't want him to."
Jamelia leans forward, fixing him with a steady gaze. "Look, McCoy, you were right about the stability thing. It's important. But you can't let it keep you from living your life. There are no guarantees. If you've got a good thing now – grab it. Even if you have to let it go later, it'll still be worth it. I mean, I've never heard you talk about someone like this before."
McCoy shakes his head. "There's only one Jim Kirk."
Jamelia does a double-take. "Wait a minute – your Jim is Jim Kirk?" She gapes at him. "Are you fucking crazy?"
Jim does show up later. About lunch time. Clearly sober but with more than a touch of hangover.
At least he chimed instead of keying himself in.
"You look like shit, Jim. Have you eaten?" McCoy asks, stepping aside to let him in.
Jim shakes his head.
McCoy goes to the replicator and orders up a greasy breakfast involving bacon and potatoes.
"You are a god," Jim moans when McCoy sets it down in front of him.
"A hypospray to counter the dehydration would be more effective."
"But it wouldn't taste nearly as good," Jim says, already talking around his third mouthful. He rubs at his neck. "And it would hurt. Any chance of me getting coffee?"
McCoy rolls his eyes. "Don't push your luck."
Jim nods and goes back to devouring his meal. "Look," he says between mouthfuls, "I'm sorry about last night and the last..." He waves a hand to indicate the recent past. "I get what you were saying now and I—"
In the next room, Joanna wakes up and starts to cry.
"Guess you're not the only one who's hungry," McCoy tells him. He starts to push himself out of the chair, but Jim leaps up.
"I'll get her," he says. He crosses to the room, then hesitates. "I mean, if that's okay?"
"Are you sure, Jim?" McCoy studies him carefully as he waits for the answer.
Jim nods slowly, then smiles wide. "Absolutely."
McCoy watches as he steps through the door and up to the crib.
"Hey, Jo-Jo," he hears Jim say, "did you miss me?"
"Hey, Jo-Jo," Jim says as he scoops her up off the floor of the daycare's playroom, "did you miss me?"
"I'm two!" Joanna announces, shoving two chubby fingers into Jim's face.
"I know. You've been two for three whole weeks now," Jim says, making the numbers with his own fingers. 'I'm two!' has been her favorite sentence for every day of that time. "Can you say Kobyashi Maru?" he asks, just for a change.
Joanna makes several abortive attempts as Jim carries her out of the daycare, waving at the supervisor as they pass.
"Ashy Roo," she finally settles on.
"That's right," Jim says. "Tomorrow your Uncle Jim's gonna kick the Ashy Roo's ass."
"Ass!" Joanna says, giggling.
"Oh, sure," Jim says. "That you pronounce perfectly."
He goes to set her down, but she clings, so he carries her across the lawn to Bones' building. Who needs the gym when you’ve got a two-year-old you can’t say no to?
"Do you know how many times Uncle Jim's tried to pass this test?"
Joanna shakes her head. "No."
"How old are you?"
"Yep, two. They say it's unbeatable. But I say third time's the charm. I've got a foolproof plan, Jo. We're just not going to tell your daddy what it is. But we'll make sure he's there to see it."
"Tell Daddy what I taught you today," Jim instructs when Bones gets home.
"Ass!" Joanna says.
"Not that one," Jim tells Joanna. "The other one. The one we've been practicing."
"Ashy Roo," Joanna says.
Bones lifts an eyebrow.
"Kobyashi Maru," Jim whispers. He grins. "Tomorrow, Bones. Third time's the charm. I want you there."
Bones rolls his eyes and looks at Joanna. "Tell your Uncle Jim he's crazy."
"Crazy!" Joanna says.
"Nice, Bones. Real nice." Jim kisses Joanna on the forehead and Bones on the mouth. "You good here? I've gotta go...study."
Bones nods. "Go on," he says. "Study."
McCoy doesn't know how he's still standing, let alone doing his job.
Back in sickbay, he felt himself hyper-focused, perfectly conditioned to determine with a glance who could be saved and who could not, who to treat first and how, commands falling easily from his lips.
For all its rhetoric of scientific exploration and diplomatic goodwill, when it comes down to it, Starfleet is military training and they're all well versed in triage.
It's harder up here on the bridge, though, without the sounds on the medical monitors, the tricorder readings, and flesh beneath his fingertips to ground him.
Here the only thing to fall back on is the chain of command and he's never been big on that shit.
Here he can hear the part of his brain that runs through the events of the day on a loop and he can't believe that only hours ago he was standing in his cadet uniform in the assembly hall wondering if Jim had finally managed to get his ass thrown out of Starfleet.
Then word of the 'seismic disturbance.'
The rest of the fleet engaged in a distant sector.
A mission so simple cadets could do it.
Safe enough to send a single father.
Hell, he left Joanna in daycare. He didn't even ask Jim to stay behind.
If he'd known what they’d be facing he probably would have, and then he'd be dead now, along with everyone else on the Enterprise.
And Jim would be with Joanna.
But instead Jim is here, arguing with their pointy-eared bastard of an acting captain about whether or not to save the goddamn planet.
He left Joanna in daycare and Jim's being escorted off the bridge and McCoy can feel the insubordination bubbling up in his throat, but then he catches Jim's eye and the message is clear – Keep your mouth shut and let me make the trouble – but Jim isn’t going quietly and then that damn Vulcan has his hand on Jim's neck and Jim collapses between the two security officers and screw the goddamn chain of command.
McCoy lunges across the bridge. "What the hell did you just do to him?"
"I would advise you to moderate your tone, Doctor McCoy. I have caused Mr. Kirk no injury." Spock barely spares McCoy a glance before addressing the security officers holding Jim's limp form. "Get him off this ship."
"Are you out of your Vulcan mind?"
McCoy tries to get to Jim, but Spock steps between them. "While you are no doubt the one responsible for Mr. Kirk's unauthorized presence aboard this vessel, Doctor, I assure you the affair is no longer your concern."
"The hell it isn't! He's right – we need to get to Earth, fast, and we need to do it with every able body we've got left."
"We will do as Captain Pike instructed," Spock says with that fucking inhuman calm that makes McCoy want to deck him.
"Captain Pike didn't know they were going to start destroying planets!"
The security officers are dragging Jim off the bridge and McCoy can't get to him.
"Please return to sickbay, Doctor."
"The hell I will! I left my daughter back there, you green-blooded hobgoblin."
"Forgive me if I failed to make myself clear. It is not a request." Additional security personnel have arrived by now and Spock turns to them. "Please escort Doctor McCoy back to sickbay and ensure that he remains there."
McCoy doesn't struggle as they pull him by both arms toward the turbolift. "What?" he calls over his shoulder. "You don't want to throw me off the ship, too?"
"That would be rash and illogical," Spock says. "The ship may need a doctor."
You better hope you don't, McCoy thinks as the doors slide shut behind him.
McCoy may resent like all hell being confined to sickbay, but it doesn't stop him from doctoring because people need care and that's what he does. He hardly notices the hour or so that passes.
"Bridge to sickbay."
The sound of the voice that comes over the comm nearly makes him drop his tricorder into an open wound.
His head snaps up and his eyes lock on the screen. He does a double-take. "Jim?"
Jim – how can it possibly be Jim? – winks at him. "Let's be professional here, Doctor McCoy – you can call me Acting Captain James Kirk. Or, you know, just Captain, for short. And we need you on the bridge immediately for a strategy meeting. We're going back to Earth. Bridge out."
McCoy closes the comm link and shakes his head as a smile creeps over his face. "Damn, kid," he whispers. "I don't know how you do it."
McCoy arrives on the bridge security officers in tow. He's tried telling them they're no longer necessary, but they take their jobs very seriously.
"Who are these guys?" Jim asks as soon as the three step out of the turbolift.
"My security escort."
Jim barely spares them another glance. "Dismissed."
McCoy holds back a smirk.
He surveys Jim from head to toe, still hardly able to believe he's there. Though he's still dressed in black, Jim wears command so naturally that gold or insignias would almost seem superfluous.
It suits him.
McCoy steps closer and pitches his voice low. "You look like hell, Jim."
He feels the slightest brush of Jim's fingers over the back of his hand. "Thanks, Bones, missed you, too."
As Sulu steers the Enterprise into place behind Titan, Jim and Spock head for the turbolift.
So does Uhura.
As the turbolift begins its descent, McCoy and Uhura stand quietly, each sneaking glances in the other's direction while Jim and Spock talk strategy.
The ride to the transporter room seems to take forever and McCoy got a bad feeling about this.
Well, not so much bad as awkward.
Really really awkward.
But damned if he's going to let Jim go without saying goodbye.
The lift stops and the doors open on the transporter room. Jim and Spock head for the pad immediately. McCoy and Uhura hesitate, pausing at the same moment just inside the door. They each look at Jim and Spock standing on the transporter pad and then back at each other.
They each hold the other's gaze for a brief moment and make a silent but steadfast promise never to speak of this again.
McCoy and Uhura walk forward together and step up to stand facing Jim and Spock repectively. The complete lack of personal space between either pair speaks far louder than either set of whispered words.
Jim looks him straight in the eye. "It's gonna be fine, Bones. She's gonna be fine. I promise. Trust me, I always find a way to save the planet."
"You've never saved the planet before, Jim. I think I'd remember."
Jim smiles like he knows something McCoy doesn't, but his tone is serious. "Trust me," he repeats.
McCoy holds his gaze for a long second and nods before closing the distance between their lips. He can hear the murmuring of the couple beside them, but he isn't listening. “Go on - save the world," McCoy says, finally pulling away. "Just don't forget to come back when you're done."
Jim remembers to come back and McCoy starts to breathe again.
When they make it back to Earth, McCoy releases another breath and squeezes Joanna so hard and for so long he knows it probably frightens her, but he doesn't care.
He only lets go to give Jim a turn.
McCoy takes her back again after and holds her until she falls asleep in his arms.
He carries her to his own bed and Jim follows. They sleep with her tucked firmly between them.
She's still here.
Sometime in the early hours, McCoy wakes and slips off into the bathroom for a glass of water. He looks up into the mirror to rub his tired face and there's Jim behind him. Just as suddenly the space between them vanishes and they rut against each other silently, frantically, hands grabbing and gripping, the sink's edge digging into McCoy's back.
They're still here.
Of course, the fact that Jim just saved the fucking world does not go unnoticed.
They offer him the Enterprise.
And Jim takes it.
Additional Author's Note: Yeah, yeah, I know. Sequel already in progress.
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