Title: As drunken men find flaws in science.
Warnings: angst, some language, second person.
Word count: Nearly 4,000
Summary: What a sight the two of you must be; sitting slumped against the bar clutching glasses of whiskey tightly.
Disclaimer: Not mine, I don't own any of this. Not even the title, which belongs to Snow Patrol.
A/N: This could be seen as a follow on/companion piece to And we are beautiful, we are doomed, but can also stand alone. It was originally intended to be a Christmas piece, but that failed. Miserably. Starts from just before the Christmas of their third year at the academy and ends just after the events of the movie.
What a sight the two of you must be; sitting slumped against the bar clutching glasses of whiskey tightly, still in your cadet reds, only they're rumpled and messy, Jim's hair sticking up every which way thanks to him repeatedly running his hands through them agitatedly. You lift your glass to your lips and finish off the rest of your drink, and Jim does the same, standing up and walking over to a group of men, large and covered with tattoos, swinging a punch at one of them before you've even got time to blink. And when you do blink, Jim is on the floor, one of the men kicking his side again and again as the rest jeer, and you rush over to them, pulling the man off Jim with surprising strength, punching him in the throat when he tries to go back to Jim, then you reach down, pick Jim up and drag him out of the door before the men can catch up with you, Jim's arm over your shoulder and his face pressed into your neck, your arm tight around his waist.
"What's the matter with you, Jim?" you say when you're far enough away from the bar, stopping to lean against a wall because Jim is damn heavy.
"S'okay, Bones," Jim says into your neck. "S'nothing."
"Bullshit. You punched someone for no reason." You start walking again, just two blocks 'till you get back to your dorm.
"Maybe I had a reason. Maybe I had an ex-excel. I had a reason."
"Yeah? What was that? Fancy getting beat up, did you?"
"Not now, Bones," Jim sighs against your neck, and you don't say anymore, quickening your pace as much as you can with Jim hanging off you like a dead weight. You get back to your dorm room, taking your arm away from Jim's waist to type your access code in and open the door, pulling Jim inside and setting him down on the bed, telling him not to move, not at all, before pulling out your medkit.
"Shirt off," you say to Jim, and he doesn't even waggle his eyebrows suggestively like he normally does when he turns up at your room at god-knows-what-am with bruises on his chest and alcohol on his breath. Jim pulls his shirt off, wincing slightly, and you sigh at the bruises that are already forming on his ribs. You reach out to touch them, lightly, removing your hand when he gasps and reaching for your tri-corder. "Your ribs are fine," you say when the tri-corder flashes read-outs at you. "You're lucky. It could've been a lot worse. I'll just run the dermal regenerator over your skin to get rid of those bruises." Jim nods dumbly, and you pick up the regenerator, the soft hum it emits as it works soothing. When you're done you pack away your medkit and sit on the bed next to Jim.
"What am I going to do with you, Jim?" you say. Jim shrugs, and you sigh. "You wanna talk about it?" Jim shakes his head. "Fine, be like that. You can have my bed. I'll sleep on the couch." He nods and kicks his boots off as you stand up to fetch a blanket from the cupboard, before going to the head, where you pee and change into sweatpants and a loose shirt. When you return Jim is already under the covers, and you stand still for a moment, watch him, frowning, until you're overcome with exhaustion and you lie down on the couch, shifting to get as comfortable as you can, but it's a small, ratty old thing, so you're in for a bad night's sleep.
When you wake, Jim is still here, already awake and watching you with those blue eyes that glow in the early morning light. You check the chrono and it says that it's five in the morning, so you groan and try to roll over, but you can't because there's no damn room on the couch. Jim watches as you fidget, try to get comfortable, his face blank, and finally he says, "Bones, come over here," his voice just a whisper.
"I'm fine, Jim," you say, but Jim stares you down until you give in and get up, crossing the room to slide into bed next to Jim. "No cuddling," you say as Jim instinctively curls closer to you - he seems like he always needs the reassurance of physical contact - and Jim laughs as he wraps an arm around your waist and rests his head on your chest.
"Whatever, Bones," he says, laughing again as you sigh. "And I know, you're a doctor, not a pillow, but humour me, okay?" There's an edge to his voice that breaks your heart a little, what it implies, so you put your arm around Jim's shoulders and slip back off into sleep again.
Christmas passes without much fanfare; just you and Jim holed up in your room, drinking bourbon and eating turkey sandwiches, and watching old Christmas films, some two hundred years or so old, until the sweet, fluffiness of them gets too much for you and you switch them off, preferring to sit in silence. Neither of you really wanted to celebrate Christmas - Christmas is for spending time with family, and you have fuck all family left, with Joanna the other side of the country, and it's the same for Jim - so just exchanging small gifts with Jim and walking around the empty campus, enjoying the peace and quiet, is enough for you.
New Year's Eve is a lot rowdier. Most of the cadets are back at the academy by then, and the two of you go to your favourite bar, which is packed, and for a moment you lose Jim in the sea of people as you fetch the drinks and Jim plays at being Mr Sociable, but he meets you at your regular table near the back and the two of you share several drinks before Jim disappears off again to talk to people. You sit back and people watch, one of your favourite things to do, and your eyes are inevitably drawn to Jim, as he lights up the whole damn room with his smile and how can you not look at that? He catches your eye at one point and he smiles at you, his real smile, and it's almost like the old Jim again, the Jim that you don't see much around this time of the year.
Jim's birthday is. It's like it always is, in the nearly three years that you've known him. It's Jim forcing himself to smile and shutting himself away from the world, as best as he can, and it's you breaking into his dorm room in the evening- he gave you the code for emergencies, and thankfully, his roommate is gone for the weekend. - with a bottle of bourbon. Alcohol seems to be yours and Jim's solution to every little thing - some doctor you are, drinking yourself to death along with your best friend. Jim is sitting in a chair by the window when you walk in, his head against the cool glass, staring up at the stars.
"You ever see The Lion King, Bones?" Jim says without looking away from the window.
"I - Yeah..." you say, confused. Sure, the movie's a couple of hundred years old, but it's a classic. Everyone's seen it. "Why?"
Jim looks over to you, meets your eye, and you stare at each other before his gaze flickers to the bottle in your hand. "That's not your best stuff, is it?"
"Like I'd waste that on you, kid." You laugh quietly, stepping further into the room. Jim laughs too.
"I'd never ask you to," he says, walking over to his desk and picking up two glasses, empty but dubiously clean. He holds them out to you as you pour generous amounts of the amber liquid into them, then hands you a glass after you set the bottle down. He clinks his glass against yours. "Cheers," he says. He knocks his drink back, wincing at the burn. "Happy fucking birthday to me." You drink your own bourbon and set your glass down, stepping closer to Jim and resting your hand on his shoulder and squeezing gently. Jim smiles at you, weakly, his blue eyes lacking their usual sparkle, and you hate seeing him like this. You run your thumb over his neck, the skin impossibly smooth.
There's nothing more you can do for Jim, other than to offer him company and alcohol; experience has told you that much, and so the two of you sit on his bed, side by side, thighs touching, and you fall asleep in his bed, your arm slung across Jim's hip. You leave early in the morning, your clothes crumpled and your hair messy, thinking Jim is asleep, but he calls out to you just as you're about to leave.
"Bones," he says, and you turn to him, finding him sat up, watching you. "Bones," he repeats, fixing you with an intense stare, and you know he can't say everything that he needs to, but you understand.
"Of course, Jim," you say softly, then you turn and leave. You've got to be at the hospital in an hour.
Jim takes you out to lunch one day, when you should be studying for the exams that you always seem to have. It's a small place, just off campus, and when you get there you see Uhura sat in the corner with a vivid-haired Orion. This is the first time that you've seen Uhura up close, but you've heard a lot about her from Jim, so it's nice to finally be able to put a face to the legend, so to speak.
Predictably, Jim walks - swaggers, actually, would be a better word - to where Uhura is sat, and you follow him, rolling your eyes.
"I'm sure they don't want you bothering them, Jim," you say. Jim pauses, looks back at you.
"Nonsense, Bones. Of course they do."
"So cocky, kid."
Jim laughs, winks at you. "That's why people love me, old man." He starts walking again, and when he gets to Uhura's table, she scowls at him, not even bothering to hide her irritation at the interruption. "Ladies," Jim says, smiling his charming smile.
"Kirk," Uhura says coolly. The Orion smiles up at Jim, pushing orange curls out of her face. Then she sees you, hovering behind Jim, and she smiles more.
"Who's your friend, Jim?" she says. Jim turns to you, tugs you forward a step.
"This is Bones," Jim says. "Bones, this is Uhura, and this lovely lady is Gaila."
Gaila frowns. "Bones?"
"Leonard McCoy," you say, holding your hand out to her and thickening your accent a little. Gaila shakes your hand, her smile never wavering, and Uhura nods at you, a hint of a smile on her lips.
"Nice to meet you, Leonard," Gaila says. "Do you want to join us?" Uhura glares at Gaila, and Gaila smiles innocently back.
"No, thank you. We were just passing, weren't we, Jim?" Jim frowns at you, confused, and you raise your eyebrows at him.
"Oh," he says. "Yeah. You go get a table, I'll catch you up."
You say your goodbyes to Gaila and Uhura, turn and walk away. "He's cute," you hear Gaila say.
"Yeah," Jim replies, and you think he sounds a little wistful, but you probably just imagined it.
Jim's laughter rings in your ears as he tugs you, stumbling, along the dark paths that surround the academy buildings, his hand fitting into yours perfectly.
"C'mon, Bones," he says, "nearly there."
"Nearly where?" Jim shrugs, barely visible in the darkness. There are no street lights around here.
"I don't know," Jim laughs. "That's the beauty of it."
"Beauty, my ass. You'll get us lost."
Jim stops, and you crash into him, the dammit, Jim dying on your lips as he turns to you, his free hand reaching up to cup the back of your neck, your breath catching in your throat as he leans in to kiss you.
The sound of your door opening starts you awake, and you guiltily look up to see Jim stumble into your room. Sitting up, you can't help but laugh as you watch him trip over your boots. He looks up at the sound of your laughter, and from what you can see in the dim light, he looks sheepish.
"Sorry, didn't mean to wake you," he says, tugging off his over-shirt and kicking off his boots.
"Should've been quieter then." Jim laughs, nodding. He pulls his under-shirt off, moving closer to the bed. "Roommate kick you out?"
"He's got a 'friend' over. Budge up, old man." You move over and Jim climbs into your bed, pressing cold toes to your legs and a bony elbow to your side. You shift over a bit more, turning onto your side, facing Jim. You close your eyes, but you can feel Jim watching you so you open them again and meet his gaze.
"Go to sleep, Jim," you mumble, and he smiles before shutting his eyes.
"Night, Bones," he says, sighing contentedly, warm air brushing across your lips as he does so. It's only a small bed, after all.
The two of you are walking back from a bar, but for once neither of you are drunk. Sure, you've had a couple of drinks, but you just haven't felt like staying and getting drunk tonight, and neither has Jim. You don't know why, you just both feel too restless to stay still for too long.
"I don't feel like going home yet," Jim says, looking to you as if he's looking for approval.
"What do you want do then?" Jim shrugs, then his face lights up and he grabs your wrist and tugs you off in the opposite direction to where you were going, towards the Golden Gate bridge. He walks quickly, smiling mysteriously at you when you ask where you're going. Eventually you get to a path that runs along side the water, the bridge close, and Jim leads you up a hill, finally stopping when you get to a clearing, and you both sit down, the grass slightly damp. It's a relatively clear night, and when you look up, you can see some stars shining.
"I can't believe we'll be up there soon," you say, and Jim looks up, then back at you, smiling.
"It'll be fine, Bones."
You snort. "I did tell you my thoughts on space, didn't I?"
Jim laughs. "Yeah. What was it again? Disease and danger, wrapped up in something?"
"Fuck you," you laugh, pushing Jim's laughing face away from your own, because you might just kiss him otherwise. "What are we doing here, anyway?" you say after a short pause.
Jim shrugs. "It's a nice view." He smiles suggestively at you, and winks. "And it's romantic," he leers, and you shove him playfully, laughing harder than you have in a long time.
"Oh, bring all the girls and boys here, do you?"
"Only the special ones," Jim replies, smiling somewhat sincerely.
"I'm honoured," you say, and Jim shifts, sitting next to you, close enough so that you can feel the warmth of his body brushing up against your own.
"You should be." Jim bumps his shoulder into yours, and you repeat the gesture. It's been just a few weeks since his birthday, but it's like nothing ever happened. He hasn't shown up at your room early in the morning, drunk and beaten up, and you consider that progress, but you're not going to get too hopeful. Sometimes you see a flash of something in his eyes, something dark, in between the smiles and the laughter, and you have to remind yourself that Jim has more issues than the fact that his dad died on his birthday. He's just good at hiding them, fooling people, and that's not good. You're no shrink, but you know that's not healthy.
"Wake up, Bones," Jim says, nudging your thigh. You blink in confusion, then look at him, frowning. "You were miles away," Jim explains.
"Sorry," you say. "Next time I'll be sure to devote all my attention to you."
Jim laughs. "It's only fair."
It's a lazy Sunday afternoon and you and Jim are holed up in your room, studying. Well, you are. Jim is lying on the bed next to you, watching a vid on the viewscreen, his head in your lap, which makes it a lot harder to study.
"Dammit, Jim," you say, shifting slightly. "I'm trying to study."
"Don't move," Jim says, eyes glued to the screen.
"You don't have to lie on me."
"S'comfy." Jim turns his head to look at you, then looks back at the screen. "Now stop being boring and watch this with me."
One afternoon, walking down the steps of the main academy building with Jim after classes are over, Jim tells you he's going to take the Kobyashi Maru. You tell him that he's crazy, but grudgingly agree that if you can't talk him out of it, you'll be there, at the helm, like you have been the other two times. Then Jim goes off to 'study', and you go off to a shift at the hospital.
Somehow, Jim passes the test, and the admirals suspect foul play. So do you, actually, but you don't tell Jim that. A couple of days after Jim takes the test you find yourself in the auditorium with most of the other cadets in your year, watching Jim's hearing. You're not sure whether to be grateful that the hearing is interrupted and you're sent to the hangar to respond to a rescue call from Vulcan. You watch as Jim gets told that he's on academic suspension, grounded until further notice, and you try to leave, you do, but the look on his face when you left him just fucking kills you. You'll probably get in deep shit for smuggling Jim onto the Enterprise, but you can't just leave him there.
When Jim wakes up after the sedative you gave him wears off you're suddenly chasing him through the corridors of the ship, discretion be damned, and then it's a mad dash to the bridge with Uhura, still running after Jim.
After that, you don't really have time to think; you're too caught up in being a doctor, and then the CMO. You're there when Spock marroons Jim, and you still have time to shout at Spock, because what the hell was he thinking? You don't care that he's Acting Captain, and you might never see Jim again. Then you go back to your patients, but you're back up on the bridge when Jim reappears, and you watch Spock lose it, and Jim become Acting Captain, and then the rest of it is just a blur, once Jim leaves the ship, until he's back in the transporter room and you can breathe again, letting yourself call out his name before taking a barely conscious Pike from him. It's all so surreal, and you expect to wake up any minute. Actually, you wish it could be some crazy dream - that'd be a lot easier to live with.
You can't quite believe that you're alive, or that the past few days have actually happened. But, fuck, who the hell would? A crazed Romulan, blowing up a planet and trying for a second; who would expect that? Fuck.
Jim walks into your room, finally, looking numb. He's been with the high-ups of Starfleet with Spock, debriefing, for hours now - the rest of you were let go two or so hours ago, and you returned to your room straight away to wait for Jim. You stand up from where you were sat on your bed and rush to Jim, and he falls into your arms, pressing his face to your neck and letting out a strangled sob. You tighten your arms around him, one hand resting on the nape of his neck, and you press your lips to his temple.
"Bones," he says. "Bones, they're --"
"Shhh," you say, cutting him off as gently as you can.
"Bones, I couldn't. I --"
"I know, Jim. I know." Jim lets out another sob, and you pull back slowly, your hands on his upper-arms, and you look at him, your eyes taking in the bags under his eyes and the empty look on his face. "C'mon," you say, reaching up to trace along a barely healed scar on his cheek. "You need sleep." He nods and your hands drift down to the hem of his shirt and you pull it up his chest, waiting for him to lift his arms before you pull it over his head and drop it on the floor, doing the same for his undershirt. Then you undo his pants and push them down his legs and he steps out of them, holding onto your arm for balance. He kicks off his shoes and watches, standing just in his boxers, as you trace the faint bruises on his chest - the dermal regenerator didn't heal them fully - and when you meet his eyes he smiles weakly, head drooping in exhaustion. You bring your hands up to cup his neck, your thumbs running along his jaw, his five o'clock shadow rough against your skin.
"Bones," he mumbles, and before you can say anything he's leaning in and kissing you gently, barely more than just a brushing of his lips against yours. He's testing your reaction, and you allow yourself to kiss him back, just for a moment, before you pull back and break the kiss, and as you do, you think you hear Jim whimper a little.
"Later," you promise. Jim nods and lets you lead him to the bed, climbing in and waiting for you to strip down to your own boxers, curling up to you as soon as you crawl into bed next to him, his back against your chest, your arm around his waist and your hand clutched in his.
It's around mid-morning when you wake, your chest cold as you realise that Jim's not next to you, and you sit up, running a hand through your hair. Jim's sitting on the end of your bed, his elbows resting on his knees, staring at the floor.
"How long you been awake?" you say, your voice gruff with sleep.
Jim shrugs. "A while." Slowly, you push the covers back and make your way to where Jim is sat, his back to you. You rest a hand on his shoulder and he leans back into the touch slightly so you move closer, pressing his back against your chest and wrapping your arms around his chest, dropping a kiss to his lower neck before resting your head against his, temple to temple.
"Jim." He turns his head to the left slightly, towards you, and kisses the side of your mouth.
"Me too, Bones." You kiss him back, short and sweet. It feels right, natural, like you've been doing this forever.
Jim pastes on a smile when you leave your dorm room, the practically empty campus screaming at the both of you, and Jim makes sure to greet everyone he sees, everyone who was on the Enterprise. He tells them what a good job they did, and thanks them for it. His smile never falters, and as he talks and laughs with the remaining cadets, it becomes more genuine, and you put your own smile on, for Jim's sake.