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Dr. Leonard McCoy, Chief Medical Officer of the USS Enterprise gave a sigh of relief as he left the room of his most difficult patient. Captain James T. Kirk had finally awakened from his two week coma. Though Jim’s expression was a bit lost and his voice soft, he seemed to have all his mental faculties so McCoy left him in the company of his First Officer, Spock, to finish the rest of his morning rounds.

Besides the crew of the Enterprise, there were hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries from the Vengeance crashing into San Francisco. All the area hospitals were filled to capacity ... Victims were triaged and those that could survive the trip had been transported to hospitals outside the city.

Search and rescue for trapped survivors and clean-up were happening simultaneously as Starfleet and San Francisco pulled together to get the city back on its feet.

Leonard grinned as he finished the notations on the chart of his last patient of the morning. Now that Jim was awake, the doctor had a battery of tests his best friend and worst patient needed done.

~**~

Five hours later, Jim was pale and exhausted. McCoy came into his room for a final check before the end of his shift to find the younger man asleep, his dinner untouched. Checking his PADD, he saw the results from Jim’s tests. Usually they were submitted with a litany of complaints and comments about what an obnoxious patient Jim was, but all he had received were the scans. With a snort of disbelief he left the blond sleeping.

By the time his reports were finished and he’d looked through Kirk’s scans, McCoy decided to give a last peek in on Jim before heading to his quarters. The scans were better than the doctor expected, and he’d submitted orders for the captain to begin physical therapy tomorrow afternoon. He grinned at the thought of the whining he’d be subjected to when he made his morning rounds.

~**~

When McCoy informed Kirk of his PT schedule the next morning, the younger man simply nodded.

“Whatever you think best.” His voice was quiet.

“Okay, who are you and what have you done with the real Jim Kirk?” He teased.

“He died.” Jim said bluntly. “You know the last thing that Pike did was dismiss my observations about Khan in front of the Admirals because I was … ’still adjusting to my new position’. He died thinking I was still a fuck-up.”

“Jim …”

Jim waved off his concern.

“You have an idea when I can get out of here?”

“Your brain scans are better than I thought, we get your muscles built up to where you can get around without a wheelchair … I’ll revisit the question when you’re on crutches or using a cane.”

“Did they have Pike’s funeral?”

“Yeah. They’re planning a memorial/re-christening of the Enterprise when she’s ready to launch the five year mission.”

Jim nodded and seemed to draw himself inward.

“Chris didn’t have a lot of blood family, but he’d made a few close friends in Starfleet, plus crew from the Enterprise. Spock spoke for the crew. He’d served with Chris the longest, and was with him when ... Well you know ....”

The ‘when he died’ was left dangling between them, and if Leonard hadn’t been looking at Jim he would have missed the transition from ‘real’ Jim to the façade the kid wore like armor.

“How’re you holding up?” Jim’s expression was curious and his voice held just the right amount of concern.

“What do you mean, Kid?”

McCoy was taken aback. He watched Kirk cycle through so many faces in the last fifteen minutes he wasn’t sure how to respond.

“I’m fine. I wasn’t hurt while you and Spock were blowing things up, crashing ships, and killing yourself in new and imaginative ways.” He growled as he turned his attention to Jim’s readings.

“I didn’t … I meant … Pike and the crew … I know you … You were probably right in the thick of casualties. Spock told me.” Jim answered his questioning look.

“Busybody Hobgoblin.” The doctor muttered. “I’m fine. I raised a glass to the dead … Am still being run ragged by the living, but I’m used to that after running after you for four years.” McCoy deadpanned.

“Oh. Okay … If you’re sure.” Jim’s mask slipped for a minute then the smile was back in place. “I need you in top form if I’m going to annoy you into letting me out of here.”

“Good luck with that.” McCoy growled.

He set the hypo of medication to Jim’s neck to help stabilize the myriad of elements still going through their too rapid healing due to Khan’s enhanced blood.

“Get some rest. I’m sending my best and worst therapist to beat you into shape this afternoon.” He gathered up his PADD and supplies. “Now, I don’t have time to dillydally with the healthy … I’ve got real patients to examine.”

Turning away, he stopped when he felt Jim grab his arm.

“Bones?”

“Yeah, Kid.”

“Thanks. If you want … Well you know … Uh … You know where to find me.”

“Sure, Kid. That’ll be rich. We’ll be emotionally stunted together.”

Leonard chuckled and patted Jim’s hand missing the hurt that flashed through the bright blue eyes before if disappeared.

~**~

McCoy would have worried over the lack of complaints about Jim from the physical therapist, nurses, and aides in the hospital, but he was being run ragged by Starfleet to release Kirk, along with his other duties that if a wheel didn’t squeak ... He didn’t worry about giving it grease. A quiet Kirk was usually up to no good, but McCoy was so physically and emotionally exhausted that his only goal at the end of the day was a shower, dinner and three fingers of high dollar Kentucky bourbon before bed.

Finally caving to pressure from Admiral Archer, McCoy promised to evaluate Jim’s condition after his first week of PT and give the Admiral a date for his release.

He’d finished morning rounds and decided to get Jim’s evaluation finished so there’d be one less thing on his plate.

Sailing into Kirk’s room, he was surprised to find only a housekeeper in the room.

“Where’s Captain Kirk?”

“This time of the morning, the boy’s probably in the solarium with that Vulcan friend of his.”The middle aged man grinned at the doctor’s bluntness.

“This time of the  … He has a schedule?” McCoy’s voice sounded shocked.

“He is your patient?” The man’s voice started sounding suspicious.

“Yeah … I mean … I’ve been a little busy … And why am I telling you?”

“I suppose such a quiet young man could be easily overlooked.” The man went back to straightening the sheets on the bed.

“Quiet … James T. Kirk … Quiet … This I gotta see.”

When the solarium came into sight he stopped and watched the two men sitting in the sun. Leonard’s breath caught seeing Jim sit with his face turned to the sun while he listened to his First Officer. When Spock finished, Jim looked back at the PADD in his hand pointing at something on the screen. The portrait of the dark and light heads together haloed by the sun stole his ability to move until Uhura entered the solarium from the opposite direction. Jim looked right at the doctor.

“Bones! Don’t just stand there … Join us.” Jim called.

“Am I interrupting?”

“You are not, Doctor. I have concluded my business with the Captain. Nyota and I have another engagement.” Spock stood. “I will complete the arrangements we discussed.”

“Thanks, Spock.”

Leonard waited until he was sure the Vulcan was out of hearing range before speaking.

“I need to do an evaluation to determine if you’re well enough to be released from my care.”

“I hope I’m never released from your care, Bones.” Jim ducked his head and gave him a shy smile.

“Be serious, Kid. The Admirals want you on your feet and in their office.” McCoy’s tone was stern.

“Of course, Bones. What do you need me to do?”All teasing disappeared.

By the end of the day, Captain James T. Kirk was leaving the hospital with Spock, and Dr. McCoy had one less set of problems on his plate.

~**~

For the next two months the only time Leonard saw Jim was for his checkups. His blood pressure was slightly elevated and he wasn’t re-gaining weight as fast as the doctor wished, but his muscle tone and stamina were good.

“How’re you sleeping and eating?”

“Fine. Just have a lot going on. I wish Chris were here to help me through the minefield of Starfleet politics.”

“Yeah, well a lot of people miss Pike. Grow up and deal with it like the rest of us. Some of us don’t have time for hand holding.” McCoy growled as he practically shoved Kirk out the door.

The doctor was thinking about his last meeting and missing his best friend. He knew he’d been harsh, and he knew with Jim’s tumultuous childhood and big brain, the younger man hadn’t been taught some of the finer points of friendship. He was like his Vulcan first officer in that way, and was probably why the alternate Spock pushed the two men toward some epic bromance. So he tried not to hold it against the Kid that he seemed to take Leonard at his word when McCoy insisted he was doing fine ... Plus Jim’s version of fine was a bit skewed … Running until the crisis of the day was over then collapsing at the doctor’s feet.

McCoy was pulled from his thoughts of the man he hadn’t seen in a coon’s age when he arrived at the door of his favorite diner. Chekov, Sulu, Scotty, and Uhura were sitting with the remains of their meal.

“So where’re the fearless leaders of this motley crew?” McCoy drawled when they invited him to sit.

“Another meeting with higher ups still unraveling the mess Marcus left behind. Then there’s all the data that was lost from the computers of the Vengeance and Enterprise.”

Uhura’s eyes lit up telling Leonard that Spock walked through the door.

“Where is ze Keptin?” Chekov asked.

“The Captain asked that I convey his regrets. He was detained for a crew issue. There are many people who wish to be a part of the crew when we depart on our five year mission.” Spock answered.

“The Kid’s finally learned to play with the big boys?” Leonard snapped.

“He has handled the situation with his superiors quite logically, but in his own inevitable style. He and Admiral Archer have forged quite the working relationship in a short period of time.”

“If he knows what’s good for him he’ll be getting his butt to my office for his quarterly physical.”

“Send him an appointment, I will make certain he is available. He seems under the impression that you otherwise do not have time for him.”

Though Spock’s tone never changed, Leonard felt like he was being scolded. He glanced at Uhura who nodded her head in confirmation. *Well hell.*

“Be sure you do.” McCoy snarked as he pushed his plate away.

~**~

Promptly at ten the next morning, Captain James T. Kirk sailed into his office.

“Bones! How’ve you been?” He slapped the doctor on the shoulder and flopped in the chair before his desk.

“One day at a time … One day at a time.” The doctor picked up his scanner. “Haven’t seen you around much.”

“You know how it is when the Admirals know you have a spare minute, and with the repairs on the Enterprise moving ahead of schedule, it’s been crazy. That Scotty is a slave driver when it comes to ‘his’ ship.”Jim chattered.

“Come on, Kid ... Let’s get this over with.” McCoy sighed as he led the way to the exam room.

Jim sat quietly while McCoy ran his scans, took blood, and updated vaccines. There was no fidgeting or chatter that was the usual outlet for Jim’s genius driven energy. He didn’t even complain about the hypos.

“I’m sorry, Bones. I haven’t been much of a friend since I got out of the hospital.”

“I’m fine. I’m working and have real patients that need my attention more than you. Unless you start feeling psychotic, I really didn’t need you bugging me.”

“What if I wanted to buy you a drink when you’re not working?” Jim rubbed the back of his neck. “I’d like to catch up.” A sheepish expression crossed the handsome face. “I thought when you said not to bother you … Well … Then Nyota explained … You did so much … You keep saving me from … Everything, and I know I’m not a good friend, but I want to keep trying ‘cause I can’t lose … Sorry.”

Jim’s mouth snapped shut as his skin flushed a deep red.

McCoy’s hands dropped to his sides as he stared at Kirk. Never had he seen his hyperactive, biggest flirt in Starfleet act so shy.

“Only ‘cause you’re important to me.” Jim said.

Hazel eyes went wide. Leonard hadn’t realized he spoken his thoughts out loud. He looked up into bright blue eyes and saw hopefearlove staring back at him.

“You know where I live?” McCoy asked.

At Jim’s nod and hopeful expression, the doctor smiled.

“Pick me up at six, and it better be good. You got a lot to make up for … A lot of missed opportunities.” He grinned wide at the joy on Jim’s face.

~**~

Standing on the bridge of the Enterprise Dr. Leonard McCoy stared out the window at the black wondering how he ended up here once more. Arms encircled him so quick he almost missed the drive by hug from Jim Kirk.

“Oh come on, Bones. It’ll be fun.” Jim’s smile was bright and contagious as he practically danced across the bridge.

“Five years in space. God help us.” Leonard grumbled.

He was standing at Jim’s left shoulder as Sulu pulled the ship away from the space dock and got them into warp.

“I don’t know how I ever let you talk me into living in space.” He muttered just loud enough for Jim to hear.

“Because you love me.”

Jim stretched his hand out to Leonard. Confused at such a telling PDA in front of the crew, McCoy reached out. The Captain stood and faced his Chief Medical Officer.

“And because I love you, Bones.”

Jim looked around the bridge at his senior crew.

“When I was a kid, I was missing my mother, who was out in the black. I went to attic looking for something so I could feel a connection to her. I found an old journal. After the wedding, my dad wanted mom to resign her commission, and they had a huge fight. She searched through statistics and databases looking for something that would change his mind. This is what she found …

" B e not against me, to desire that I should leave thee and depart: for whithersoever thou shalt go, I will go: and where thou shalt dwell, I also will dwell. The land that shall receive thee dying, in the same will I die: and there will I be buried.” 

There was many a misty eye on the bridge and clearing of throats as Jim dropped a kiss on his doctor’s knuckles.

“Did you just marry us, you obnoxious infant?” McCoy’s growl was watery.

“Do you want us married, Bones?” Jim’s eyes were bright with hope.

“I do.”

~ Fini ~