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Lift The Veil From Your Eyes

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When Dr. Leonard Horatio McCoy threw up on my boots ten minutes after we met, I knew I was in love. Yeah … Yeah … Scoff if you want … Believe the gossip about how I’m the biggest horn dog to ever step foot in Starfleet, but from the moment I met Bones I was never serious about any human or alien. They were my only alternative when the handsome doctor kept turning me down. One thing about my Bones, he said what he thought, and he never lied … At least not to me.

When he shot me full of Mud Flea vaccine to get me on the Enterprise, he didn’t know it would kill me. He only knew I was standing abandoned in the middle of the shuttle bay, and his empathetic heart couldn’t leave me alone. It solidified my love for the man; especially after I returned the favor of almost throwing up one his boots … He’s quick with an airsick bag.

He calls me ‘kid’ and ‘infant’, and a dozen other things to emphasize that he’s a half dozen or more years older than most of the command staff. The thing my CMO forgets is that it’s not the miles … It’s how you run them. After Frank, Tarsus IV, and the time I spent working my way from place to place until all roads intersected in Riverside, Iowa, there was no kid left in my twenty-two year old body, but all McCoy saw was my pretty face and the birth date on my paperwork.

For three years I begged, cajoled, promised ‘no strings attached’, and generally tried to seduce Bones into my bed on a regular basis. His divorce soured him on anything that smacked of relationship, and my southern man wasn’t a fan of one night stands so his love life was dying of thirst in an ocean of beautiful possibilities.

~**~

The first time I told Dr. Leonard Horatio McCoy I loved him he laughed and asked if I was out of my corn fed mind. It’s a good thing I don’t believe in no-win situations, or that would have been one occasion I’d consider shoving the man I love out an airlock.

It probably didn’t help my cause that I collapsed at his feet after we made space dock. The beatings from Spock and Nero ... Multiple allergic reactions ... Snow monsters ... Mind Melds ... Searching for survivors in the debris left when the Narada attacked ‘The Fleet’, and limping us home caught up with me the minute Sulu announced the docking clamps were secure.

When I opened my eyes to see Bones looming over me, I blurted out, ‘I love you.’

He cussed me like a rented mule. It started with ‘Dammit, Jim!’ and ended with ‘That’s just the drugs talking. Go back to sleep, Kid.’

The last time I took the leap, we had enjoyed dinner with the Elder Spock after delivering the last of the Vulcan refugees from Earth. Draping myself across the broad back as we watched a spectacular sunset, I nuzzled Bones’ neck behind his ear.

“Marry me … I love you, Bones.” I breathed across his ear.

“I’d have to be crazier than a shithouse rat to fall for you, Kid. A fruit fly has longer relationships than you.” McCoy countered.

“That’s where you’re wrong, Bones. My longest relationship started in a shuttle the day I signed up for Starfleet. You’re right … I have fucked a being or two in the past three years, but the only relationship I ever had was with you." I straightened away from my only love. "Congratulations, Dr. McCoy on being James T. Kirk’s Kobayashi Maru.” I moved down the street yanking out my communicator. “Kirk to Enterprise … One to beam up.”

~**~

Our mission on New Vulcan complete, and me ready to hide behind Captain Kirk, Starfleet was more than happy to put us to work. Closing off my heart changed my interactions with the crew. I still spent time with Bones, but now that we were in the black … Everything began and ended with me, and I did my best to curb any inappropriate behavior. No flirting with everything that moved, no evenings in Bones’ office or quarters, or shore leave barhopping. If I couldn’t have all of Bones … Well … Anyone else would have been a poor substitute. So, I focused on learning to be Captain of the Enterprise. I have to admit that Commander Spock was a godsend, and our time working together brought my learning curve down to a negligible level. It also helped our fledgling friendship to begin moving into that place hinted at by the Elder Spock.

I was sitting in my favorite Observation Lounge going through the day’s reports when I heard the door swish open. This particular Lounge is out of the mainstream of crew traffic, so someone joining me is unusual. I sent the reports off to Spock for a final edit and turned to see who was invading my solitude.

“Bones, what can I do for you?” I laid my PADD to the side.

“Haven’t seen much of you lately, Kid ... Just stopping by to see if I could buy you a drink.”

McCoy pulled a silver flask from his pocket.

I looked at the flask and then looked up my CMO. I could see confusion, hope, and anger in his handsome face so I took the flask. Motioning to the chair opposite as I took a taste and handed it back ... I’d need to keep my wits for the conversation I could feel trying to form.

“Haven’t seen much of you lately.” The words were tinged with a hint of accusation.

“Yeah, well, you already knew how to be a doctor before they made you Chief Medical Officer … I’m having to learn all the stuff they don’t teach at the academy about being Captain on the fly.”

“So you’ve been spending all your time with the Hobgoblin?”

Georgia was creeping into Bones’ voice, which told me his temper was starting to fray.

“Spock has been a huge help, but no ... He’s doing Science Officer things when he’s not doing First Officer things, holding my hand, and romancing Uhura.” I heard a bit of ice creep into my own tone.

“If you’re not with Spock, who are you with?”

My expression must have been incredulous because Bones was starting to look sheepish. I ran my hands through my hair doing my best not to yank it in frustration. Unable to sit any longer, I jumped to my feet and started to pace. I had thought Bones knew me better than anyone … That he saw through the veil of bravado to the real Jim Kirk.

“You know why I’m captain of the Enterprise?” Bones eyes got huge as I bent down so we were nose to nose. “I’m Captain James T. Kirk because I ... With the help of my merry band of geniuses, saved the fucking universe, and Starfleet would be exposed for the jackasses they are if they didn’t give me the Enterprise.”

I snatched the flask out of his hand and tipped it back. When it was empty, I tossed it in his lap.

“Starfleet has got me under the magnifying glass like a bug on pin waiting for me to fuck up, and I will fuck up. I’ll relax then something will happen that will put my balls in a vise and that will be all they need to take the Enterprise away. They’ll stand around their big conference tables and talk about how they knew I didn’t have what it takes to live up to George Kirk’s legacy … ’What a pale imitation he is’, they’ll say as they bust me down so far I resign my commission. So to answer your question, I can’t BE with anyone. I can’t show favorites, I can’t be emotionally compromised or you or Spock or Starfleet will take my command.”

I grabbed my PADD and headed for the door so angry I could feel myself vibrate. I paused to wait on the door, but I had one last thing to say before I left.

“Besides, the person I love thinks I’m a whore and not worth their time.”

I retreated to my quarters and locked the door.

~**~

There were days I felt like I was sitting on the sidelines of my life watching as I laughed, talked, and did all the captain things perfect. There were days the ache in my chest was so bad I wanted something to happen so the physical pain could drown it out. Be careful for what you wish.

I took Bones on the away team on Nibiru because Spock, Sulu and Uhura were trying to cap a volcano. He hates away missions, but there are an allotted number he needs to perform, and I was feeling hemmed in … Constricted … Teeth grinding … Let’s just say the volcano on Nibiru had nothing on eruptions. The locked door between Captain Kirk, Starfleet poster boy and Jim Kirk was rattling a warning. Then there was Spock being an obstinate ass while Uhura held onto her dignity and professionalism by a thread. Spock droning on about the needs of the many against the needs of the few was the match that lit the fuse on the stick of dynamite stuck under my locked door.

When the smoke cleared after the explosion I’d lost everything … My command … Bones … My mentor … My life. I was strangely okay with the last as I laid the ta’al against the glass of the warp core chamber for my First Officer … My friend … My brother.

~**~

Voices … Always the voices … Chastising … Cajoling … Memories … Getting louder until I heard a gasp. I fought to open my eyes. Swinging my head to the side made the room spin, but there like always was my Bones. I turned my head away. Not my Bones … Never.

“Oh don’t be so melodramatic … You were barely dead.”

The next month was literally hell. My body used Khan’s blood to rebuild itself from the inside out requiring copious amounts of pain medication to sleep and physical therapy to get everything back in working order. When I was discharged I tried to leave when no one was around so I could lick my wounds in private. I almost made it when I heard Nyota calling my name.

I love the woman like a sister, so I gritted my teeth and plastered on a smile as I leaned on my cane.

“Nyota.”

“Jim, what are you doing?”

“They discharged me. I was just headed to Starfleet housing.”

“But … Aren’t you staying with Leonard?”

“Why would I stay with Bones? Besides I don’t want to cramp his style with Dr. Marcus.” I winked and turned back toward the bus stop.

“Wait.” She insisted. “I have a car.”

She took my arm and steered me in the opposite direction.

“Did any of my clothes make off the ship?” I asked as we pulled up in front of Starfleet Administration.

“Spock and I brought some of your things. They’re at Leonard’s.” Uhura watched my reaction from the corner of her eye. “I thought he was your best friend.” She asked.

“He’s my best friend … Him and Spock. I just don’t think I’m his.”

I got out of the car before she could say anything else.

My frustration didn’t end with Uhura. The endlessly polite non-human assigning quarters could not be charmed, cajoled, or pleaded with to assign me anywhere but with Bones … Per my primary physician’s orders since I recovering from traumatic injuries. So I signed and initialed and accepted the entry code and silently fumed as Nyota took me to my quarters. I was glad to hear most of the Enterprise crew was housed in the same building, but that was a double-edged sword. I’d have to find someplace else if I wanted to brood in private.

I thanked Uhura for the ride. She invited me for dinner at Spock’s, which was three doors down. The blonde head of Carol Marcus swiveled around as the door swished open.

“Oh … Captain … I didn’t …” She stood, but I stopped her before she got into a dither.

“At ease, Dr. Marcus. Since Housing couldn’t be convinced I was assigned here by mistake, I’m just going to go lie down for a while before I go back for round two.”

“But …”

“It’s okay. We’ll get it straightened out, and you and Bones can have your privacy back. Congratulations. He’s a great guy.”

“But …”

I waved as I continued to the bedroom where I found my clothes in drawers, and my uniforms hanging in the closet. By then I was leaning heavily on my cane and wanted nothing more than to strip down and sleep. T-shirt and sleep pants later, I burrowed in the covers and went to sleep.

When I woke, I saw I had just enough time to shower and change before dinner.  I came out of the shower to find my doctor waiting. Dropping my towel, my glare dared him to complain about my lack of modesty as I pulled on jeans and a t-shirt.

“Where do you think you’re going?” He growled as he ran his medical scanner over me.

“Dinner with Spock and Uhura.”

“Dammit, Jim, you just got out of the hospital.”

“You going call and explain to Nyota why I won’t be at dinner?” I gave him my most innocent look.

“Hell no. That woman scares a sensible man. Must be why she’s perfect for Spock.” He grumbled.

Dinner was excellent and the company relaxing, but I decided it was time to get up to speed on the bureaucratic mess left from the whole ‘secret wars’ campaign of Admiral Marcus. Bones had kept Starfleet away from me, but now that I was discharged they would soon come knocking.

“Now that I’m out of the hospital, I need to see all the reports and interviews from the crew. Starfleet will be summoning me any day.”

“Now that Dr. McCoy can no longer object …” Spock handed me one of my many PADDs. “I was going to give this to you while you were still in the hospital so you would be cognizant of the situation, but, the doctor was adamant about nothing upsetting you sensibilities.”

“Yeah … Well … You know me. Not knowing something is more upsetting than being prepared. This has to be a catastrophic clusterfuck.” I looked at two of the people closer to me than my blood family. “How deep is the rot?”

“The ranks above Captain are incredibly thin right now.” Uhura added. “They promoted Archer to Fleet Admiral …”

“Who got us?”

“Barnett. He was friends with Pike and can be counted on to support Pike’s projects.”

I felt tears prick my eyes at the mention of Chris. I didn’t want to break down in front of Spock and Uhura, so I moved from the chair to the window to wrestle my emotions back in their cage.

“Jim?”

I felt the small warm hand on my back.

“I’m sorry. I haven’t had time to process everything. It’s been over a month since the attack, but having slept through most of it I’m a little behind.” I joked. “Give me a minute.”

“It’s okay, Jim, take whatever time  you need.”

I was bestowed a brief hug before Nyota was dragging Spock to the kitchen for drinks while I pulled myself together. The rest of our time together passed with plans for coming year while we awaited repairs to the Enterprise.

~**~

It was a relief to find Bones’ apartment empty. I changed clothes, and made a mug of tea before settling in bed with my PADD to bring myself up to speed.

I was surprised to find my alpha command crew kept my death and resurrection a secret. Khan was unconscious when McCoy treated his injuries, and borrowed a few vials of blood. The cameras in Sickbay like most of the recording devices on the Enterprise seemed to have ceased functioning during the battle with The Vengeance. Only the footage needed to clear crew from any wrongdoing survived. Starfleet had to rely on personal accounts for everything else.

The personal accounts were tragic and eye opening and would made a fantastic script for a movie one day. None of the accounts contained false statements, but there was a lot of hedging, obfuscation, and blurring of the facts from my core group of officers. If there was ever a time when something would fall through the cracks … That time was now.  I was just getting into the meat of the reports from my CMO when the world softly faded.

The world came back into sharp focus as an annoying message notification finally pierced the curtain of exhaustion around the part of my brain that was trained to wake instantly at the sound of an alarm.

Seeing the name of the sender, I wanted go back to sleep, but I had a lot to do before reporting to Admiral Archer’s office at 1400.

The apartment was once again empty, but the coffee pot was half full and hot so I made a quick breakfast and settled at the table to read the last of the reports. I also wormed my way through Starfleet servers looking for anything to give me an edge over whatever Archer threw at me.

The scope of the poison Marcus had spread through Starfleet was so staggering that by the time I processed all the information I’d found there was no time for lunch before my meeting with Admiral Archer. The voice scolding in the back of my head sounded a lot like Bones, but I ignored it and straightened my uniform. I’d lost a lot of weight and the uniform hung loosely, but I figured a little poster boy smile and a starship load of bullshit would get me through.

Stepping into Archer’s office I found Admiral Barnett and the newly minted Andorian Admiral Shelerib th'Zarath. I read her file when I was tiptoeing through the computers, but had never met her. I remained at attention though I really wanted to sit down.

“Captain James T. Kirk, reporting as ordered.”

“Have a seat, Kirk.” Archer indicated the empty chair. “We know you just got out of the hospital yesterday. How are you?”

“A PT regimen to rebuild muscle and stamina and I’ll be 100% in no time.”

Barnett took over.

“We called you here today to get to get your statement of events as you remember them, and a list of projects we’d like you to work on until repairs are complete on the Enterprise.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Okay … Nothing I wasn’t expecting, though two hours later I was exhausted.

“A file has been forwarded to your PADD. In that file is the official Starfleet report. Memorize it chapter and verse and under no circumstances deviate from what is in the file. On a personal note, it’s good to see you recovering from your injuries.” Archer got a nod of agreement from his fellow Admirals. “Dismissed Captain.”

Standing and giving my best salute, I was leaning heavily on my cane when I left. Thankfully there was a cab sitting in front of the building. My exhaustion was so deep I didn’t notice Bones because my vision had tunneled to the couch.

“Dammit Jim, where have you been?”

I was startled so bad, I began to topple over until Bones grabbed by arm. It took a minute to process the question.

“Admirals.” I pulled my arm free and continued my trip to the couch. “Thought you were at Dr. Marcus’.”

Sprawling on the couch, I toed off my boots, tossed my jacket over the back, and breathed a sigh of relief when I stretched out. I cracked an eye an eye when I heard the quiet whirl of a medical tri-corder.

“M’okay … Just tired.”Go back to whatever you were doing … Just going to take a nap.”

Before I closed my eyes, I saw a flash of hurt cross his face, but he made his choice, and it wasn’t me.

~**~

Exhaustion and pain became my friends, and my physical therapist became my torturer. Bones was constantly on my ass about my diet until I wanted to scream. Since I was teaching master’s classes for command track seniors, I asked for and got office space at the Academy to get away from the mother hen tendencies of my crew and friends.

Physical therapy finally gave me my release so I started back to my usual regime of running, sparring with Sulu, and slipping into advanced hand to hand classes. Four months after I died I had regained all I’d lost … Even Bones.

It started with him stopping by my office to invite me to lunch or bringing me lunch. I didn’t think anything of it, just Bones trying to get us back where we’d been before he rejected my love.

With the Enterprise in her final phases of reconstruction, I took to spending time on the ship with Scotty and the other department heads to make my beautiful Lady the best in the Fleet. The Alpha shift ended with many of the crew and workers waiting in the shuttle bay for their ride back to earth.

I was standing at the bay doors with Scotty. He was leaving to gather parts for some of his modifications. Turning to head back to my quarters, I nearly ran into Bones.

“You coming home tonight?”He asked.

“I am home, Bones.”

His usual scowl was replaced by a look of confusion.

“But …”

“It’s time … I’m all better, and I’m needed here.”

After that I noticed Bones spending more time on the ship, being in the mess at the same time, or coming to my quarters on the pretext of progress reports on Sickbay.

Staring at the message on my PADD frustration at Starfleet bureaucracy boiled through my blood ... I wasn’t ready to go back to earth. I resented being forced out of my insular world on the Enterprise. We were close to completing the repairs so the Admiralty was planning the dog and pony show that would be the re-dedication of the Enterprise and memorial service for all the lives lost to the machinations of Admiral Marcus and Khan.

On the shuttle, I kept myself occupied with reports, transfers and promotion reports. Feeling a bump against my shoulder, I looked up into hopeful hazel eyes.

“Have dinner with me this evening?”

“I probably won’t be hungry after dealing with the Admirals …”

“You still need to eat.”

“Fine, but don’t blame me if I’m not good company.” I snarked.

“It’ll keep people from stopping by our table. I’d just like to spend some time with you without reports between us.” McCoy confessed.

“Really?”

I wanted to grab the word back … It made me sound needy … Something I tried not be since the last time I opened myself up emotionally.

“I miss you, Kid.”

He squeezed my wrist to punctuate his statement, but I was too gun-shy to read between the lines.

“I should be done by 1630.”

“You’ve been hanging around the Hobgoblin too much. Can’t you just say 5:30?”

With a shrug I went back to my reports.

~**~

For the first time since meeting Bones on the shuttle to the Academy, I found it hard to put away the Captain and be just Jim so I asked him about his research and what projects he was transferring to the ship. As we were leaving the restaurant it struck me how large the rift between us had become. I must have been quiet to too long because Bones reached out to stop me.

“Jim?”

“What happened to our friendship, Bones?” I looked him in the face for the first time in ... Well … I can’t remember the last time I’d looked into those changeable hazel eyes. “I miss you.” I stated simply before starting back toward my temporary quarters.

“Dammit, Jim!” McCoy called after me. “You can’t say something like that then walk away.”

With a shrug of indifference I continued down the street.

“Kid …”

He reached out but I ducked his hand.

“I haven’t been a kid since I was twelve, Bones.” I said in moment of total honesty.

“What’s gotten into you, Jim? Is this something that’s left over from that business with Khan?” Bones asked as we continued down the street.

“No, Bones. This has to do with you and me. I tell you I love and you tell me I’m crazy. I ask you to marry me you say you’d be crazy to, so I don’t know what to do with everything except keep getting up every morning. I refuse to waste this new life I’ve been given, and I refuse to leave things undone or unsaid.”

I left a slack jawed Leonard Horatio McCoy standing outside the door of my temporary quarters.

~**~

If I thought Bones was under foot and a nag while I was recovering, he was worse now that we were getting into crunch time to finish the repairs before the memorial service. In what little spare time I had I was wracking my brain for words that would be the perfect balance between honoring the dead and celebrating the launch of the newly repaired flagship.

McCoy was either dragging me to the mess or barging into my quarters. For the first week I was tense and waiting for my CMO to ambush me about being emotionally compromised after our little after dinner chat.

The second week I started to relax and my stomach unknotted enough that I was able to eat. Bones started bringing his flask some evenings, or holovids with the excuse I needed brain candy so my brain would stop. When my brain stopped, I found myself waking up with my face mashed against Bones’ shoulder. I’d wake and start to move away but I was pulled back before I was awake enough to get the walls back around my heart.

A week before the memorial service, the entire crew reported back to earth. My butterflies were getting butterflies, so I put on my Captain face and muscled through. The media rehashing the events from a year ago stole my sleep and appetite. Keeping all that under that radar was working since the Admiralty was keeping me dancing to their tunes. Ignoring invites for meals and bar crawling became easier the closer to the ceremony we got.

Then Bones swooped in with his damn tri-corder bitching about weight loss and sleep deprivation. The genuine caring in his face and voice finally broke through the barriers I erected around myself.

“Can’t.” I rubbed my hands over my face. “Leave me be.”

“Jim …”

“I’ll be fine once I’m back on the ship.”

“Dammit, Jim …”

“Dammit, Bones, don’t you have a girlfriend or someone to pester?” I snapped.

“No, because apparently I’m destined to be stuck with your stubborn ass.” He growled back.

“Don’t put yourself out on my account.”

“I want to put myself out. I’ve been trying to tell you that for weeks, but you won’t hold still long enough for me to tell you.” The doctor sounded infinitely frustrated. “Of course I’m frustrated, you ass. I’ve been trying to tell you I love you, but you’re so busy being busy to avoid me I haven’t been able to tell you.”

I didn’t realize I’d voiced my thoughts, but if he wanted to do this with less than forty-eight hours until we were back in the black who was I to back down.

“So, are you crazy as a shithouse rat?”

“Certifiable. I’m voluntarily going into space for five years with a crew of genius infants because I’m in love with their Captain who’s a few bricks shy a load himself.” Bones grumbled as he pulled me in the direction of my room. “Food then sleep.”

“But Bones,” I leaned tiredly against him. “Now that you finally caught me, there are other things I’d rather do first.”

“And have you keel over on the podium tomorrow? I don’t think so.”

I woke wrapped in the arms of my best friend after the best night’s sleep I’ve had since my coma.

The next day I was back on board my beautiful lady with my family surrounding me.

“Come on, Bones … It’ll be fun.”

“Five years in space … God help me.” I heard my CMO mutter.

Five years in space doing what I love with the people I love … Sounds like heaven to me.

 

~ Fini ~