Jim doesn’t do love.
How can he when he doesn’t even know what love is? A mother who couldn’t look at him without seeing the ghost of her husband, a stepfather who’s vision ran red whenever he looked at the replica of the man he would always come second place to. Then, the one time Jim was finally able to get a glimpse at what love was, it was ripped away when his kids died. Jim experienced love just in time to watch it die in front of his eyes in the form of small limbs and bloated bellies with dead eyes and hoarse voices. What was love except something that only got you hurt?
Jim didn’t know, but for Bones he was willing to give it a try.
Bones came home to the sound of vomiting and a locked bathroom door.
He hates these kinds of days.
"Jim?" He said knocking on the door. "Darling open up." There was a sound of a flushing toilet and Leonard dared himself to hope, but the sound of retching started up again and he sank to the ground, his back against the door. "Jim why do you do this?" He whispered running his hand through his hair.
Leonard listened to the sound of Jim vomiting before a hoarse voice asked, “Why are you here Bones?”
"I’m here because Star Fleet decided it would be best to have someone who could treat your stupidly long list of allergies in case you start to die in the night." Leonard grumbled half halfheartedly.
"No joking Bones, why are you here?" Jim’s voice cracked as he spoke and Leonard's heart broke. "I’m just scar tissue and a mind to messed up and broken to repair, why do you stick around?"
"If I answer will you open the door?"
Leonard resisted the urge to growl at Jim’s childishness. “I’m here because you stuck to me like glue the fire week and didn't let me drink myself into liver failure. I’m here because you were beside me every day in flight simulation even though you tested out and didn't have to take the class. I’m here because once you let yourself out of there we’re going to make a stupid blanket fort, because you love making them, and watch that dumb movie you've been obsessed with lately because “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” has been stuck in my head all day since you sang it this morning in the shower.” Frustrated and desperate Leonard said, “So will you please open the door and come out?”
Jim opened the door slightly with exhausted eyes and a broken smile and said in a raw voice, “You know Bones, love is an open door.”
Leonard rolled his eyes and smiled. “Shut up and go get some blankets, I’ll get you some water.”
"I thought you had taken a Hippocratic Oath Doctor McCoy."
Leonard grunted but didn't give Pike a verbal response, he was to busy holding his head trying to get the room to stop spinning.
Pike gave a wave and the guard opened up the cell doors. He sat down next to Leonard on the hard bed. “Care to explain why it’s you I’m picking up. I expected you to be more responsible than this McCoy.” Pike said disappointed.
"They said Jim was only in the Academy because he got down in his knees for you." Leonard mumbled. "That he was just a hick from Iowa only here because of his daddy’s name and he would wash out before the end of this semester." He looked at Pike with fierce eyes as he said angrily, "You expect me to let them get away with saying that?"
Pike sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “You and Jim are the reason I have all this grey hair.”
"Apologies sir." Leonard said gruffly still clutching his head in pain.
"You should get that checked out by a doctor." Pike said amused knowing what Leonard’s response would be.
"I am a doctor, there’s nothing wrong." He grumbled. "Just a bad head ache, but not a concussion."
Pike stood up and clapped Leonard on the shoulder, “You’re good for him Doctor McCoy, just try not to land in jail next time you feel the need to defend his honor.”
Jim is ruining himself. He’s destroying his own body with an acidic smile on his lips and words dancing on the tip of his tongue saying how it’s only fair and he deserves it, but Leonard won’t hear one sound of it. Leonard is there to hold together Jim’s broken frame on the floor of a public restroom wiping the spit from his chin and kissing his forehead wanting to tell Jim to stop that he doesn't have to do this anymore because whatever it is that he’s thinking it’s wrong, but the words are stuck and he can’t get them out. So Leonard settles for holding Jim close as he finally experiences gravity, and honestly, he’s a doctor because he wants to heal people, but there’s no one he’s wanted to heal more than his Jim; his boy born among the heavens who fell to earth
"Bones what if they separate us?"
Leonard sighed before rolling over to face Jim. “That’s not going to happen Jim.”
Jim ignored the soothing circles that Leonard was rubbing on his arms and said again, “Bones I can’t be separated from you.”
"What makes you think I’ll go up into space without you by my side?" He asked with arched eyebrows. "You’re the only reason I’m still here, space is disease after all."
"But they could do it." Jim whispered. "They could separate us." His blue eyes were getting wider and Leonard recognized that Jim was starting to go into a panic attack.
"Up." Leonard said firmly. "Get out of bed and get dressed."
Watching Leonard put pants on Jim asked confused, “Why?”
Tugging a shirt over his head Leonard said, “We’re finding a courthouse or something, I’d be more convenient if we were in Vegas right now.”
"Bones, you've lost me."
Rolling his eyes Leonard grabbed one of Jim’s shirts and threw it at him. “Get dressed, we’re going to get married.”
"Why would you ever want to marry me?" Jim asked shocked.
Tugging Jim up Leonard smoothed down his hair. “They can’t separate spouses on ships.”
Jim wilted slightly as he said quietly, “Is that the only reason you want to marry me.”
Leonard kissed Jim and said softly, “Darling of course not. I want to marry you because I want to marry you, this is just a convenient time.”
With his trade mark grin in place Jim laced his finger through Leonard’s and said happily, “Then I guess we’re getting married.”
Leonard leaned forward and kissed Jim murmuring into his mouth, “Damn straight we are.”
Bones hates space, he hates the idea that his feet aren't planted firmly on solid ground, he hates that his job is saving lives in a black void that could kill them all in a second.
Somehow though he struggles through it anyway because of the boy that was born in the stars. He braves the unthinkable and surrenders his soul to the darkest parts of fear itself just to stand beside Jim.
Jim who breathes constellations and looks in the mirror everyday and sees black holes in his own eyes that suck the light away from everything because some days Jim is still finding his reason to live.
When Leonard looks in those blue eyes though sees stars and planets, purple nebulas and glimmering moons, and light that brings him back out of the black. Leonard is so damn afraid of space, but Jim is space and Jim is beautiful so he can brave the dark a little while longer.
"Bones why did you go back for me?"
"Jim it’s two in the morning shut up."
"Seriously Bones why did you come back for me?"
"Jim what are you even talking about?"
"Why did you turn back and smuggle me onto the ship."
"I already told you I couldn't just leave you there looking pathetic like I just kicked your puppy."
"I never owned a puppy."
"I know Jim shut up and go to sleep."
"But really you only took me because I looked pathetic?"
"Jim it’s two in the morning, you already know the answer, and I just want to sleep."
"But I want to hear you say it!"
"God Jim stop whining you’re not an infant!"
“Shut up already! I couldn't just leave you there okay! What was I supposed to do without you?”
"You warm the cockles of my heart. For the record Bones, I wouldn't ever leave you behind even if your sulking face is the cutest thing ever."
"Go to sleep Jim."
If anyone asks about the nickname Bones Jim will animatedly tell them the tale of how they first met on a shuttle, Jim hungover and beat up from a bar fight, Leonard unkempt and smelling of cheap booze and how he turned towards Jim saying all he had left was his Bones.
That was the official story.
What Jim would never tell anyone was how Leonard was the skeleton keeping him together and holding him upright molding him in some semblance of a human being.
Just once Leonard would like for there to be an away mission where his services as a Doctor weren't required.
"Dammit Jim I said hold still!”
Jim only laughed at McCoy. “Bones calm down I've had worse.”
Sighing angrily he said, “I know you have Jim and I don’t care! You had a spear go straight through your thigh!” Leonard reached out and shoved Jim back onto the bio bed he had been trying to stand up from. “Now shut up and stay put!”
"Bones why are you giving me a pain killer?" Jim asked amused. "I already told you I don’t need one."
"I don’t care."
"You shouldn't be wasting resources Bones." Jim pointed out with a soft smile, he knew what Bones was doing.
"Good thing I don’t have to worry about that seeing as my Captain keeps my med bay the most well supplied med bay in Starfleet." Leonard retorted quickly.
"I really don’t need any pain killers Bones." Jim insisted not letting the subject drop. "Save them for a rainy day when Chekov or someone needs them."
Leonard put down his tricorder and held Jim’s hand tenderly. “You’ve been through enough pain already darling, give me this one thing and let me spare you from more.”
Jim squeezed Leonard’s hand and said fondly. “Ok, only for you Bones.”
Everyone on the ship knew that Leonard McCoy was an alcoholic. If he wasn't in sickbay or with Jim he would be down in Engineering with Scotty’s distillery that they pretended to not know about. They never spoke about it because the good doctor had saved their lives countless times over so if that was how he chose to cope who were they to judge?
This though, this was so bad they couldn’t ignore it.
"You’re banned from Medical until you’ve sobered up Bones." Jim said with pursed lips.
"You can’t tell me what to do Kirk I’m not a child." He slurred his words and Jim saw red.
"You’re drunk Bones!" The words echoed through sick bay and the nurses and patients tried to awkwardly look away. "If you’re going to be an alcoholic fine, there’s nothing I can do to stop that." Jim stepped forward and grabbed Leonard’s blue shirt saying with bright eyes, "But don’t you dare endanger my crew because you can’t deal!"
Standing on uncertain legs Leonard bellowed, “I can’t deal? That’s rich coming from you!” He hit Jim on the chest hard enough to send him back a few steps.
"Bones we are not having this conversation here." Jim’s eyes looked nervously around the room, Bones could destroy him with a few choice words and he knew it.
"Don’t want your precious crew to realize what you’re really like?" Leonard responded venomously with a scowl. "If they knew GUARH." He dropped to the ground and Jim saw Christine holding a hypo with a disappointed look on her face.
"Thank you Christine." Jim said softly as he bent to pick Leonard up off the ground. "Guess he finally knows what it feels like to be hypoed." It was a weak joke but Jim didn't know what else to do. How do you operate when your anchor goes off into the deep end?
""Take him to your room, lock him in there, and don’t give him a hangover hypo until he apologizes." She said strongly.
Jim smiled warmly at her. “I always knew there was a reason you’re my favourite nurse.”
Christine’s eyes softened as she said, “You don’t deserve this Jim.”
Jim’s eyes bugged in disbelief. “You can’t be serious.”
"I am!" She told him emphatically. "It is sad and unfair that Leonard can’t see Joanna today on her birthday, but this was inexcusable!"
Jim ran his fingers through Bones hair as he said, “It’s no worse than what I’ve done to him before.”
"That doesn’t matter!"
"You can’t get angry at him for this Christine." Jim sighed heavily. "It’s hard being separated from your kids, to not be able to see them, not knowing how they’re growing up, if they need you…." He trailed off with a pained expression as he remembered the past.
"You, you have kids?" She asked confused and shocked.
Shaking his head Jim said with a bitter smile, “Once upon a time I did, but they’re gone now.” Dead in the ground with fear as their last thought. “I can’t get to angry at him for missing Joanna when I know what it feels like.” Lifting Bones over his shoulders Jim gave Christine one last smile, “Thanks for hypoing him.” and walked away to their room.
"Where the hell is the Captain?"
"We’ve lost his signal!"
"Uhura get it back online!"
"You think I haven’t been trying to get his communicator back online Sulu?"
Leonard walked onto the bridge to a scene of chaos with Spock looking menacingly at Chekov as he did calculations on the board. Uhura was cursing at the screens and was having a shouting match with Sulu. “Something wrong?” He asked with raised eyebrows.
All activity on the bridge stopped and everyone looked at Leonard like deer caught in headlights. The looked at each other having silent conversations before Spock gave a pointed look at Chekov. “Why do I have to!” Chekov wailed.
Spock raised his one eyebrow. “Seeing as we are in the situation due to a calculation error by you, it is only fitting you would be the one to inform the good doctor.”
The good doctor? There was only one thing that would prompt the hobgoblin into called him the good doctor. Leonard sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Jim is missing isn’t he?”
Swallowing nervously Chekov said, “Yes Doctor McCoy.”
Bones held his breath and counted to ten in his head before exhaling. “How long?” He still hadn’t opened his eyes.
"Four hours." Was the quiet response from Chekov.
"And why the hell did no one inform me before?" Leonard snarled opening his eyes to glare at the crew. "No don’t answer that, it’s because you’ve all stuck your heads so far up your asses thinking you don’t need help." Grumbling he pulled out his tricorder and fiddled with it for a minute before settling on hitting it with his hand. "Damned thing and damn Jim for getting lost again."
"You are mistaken Doctor, the Captain is not lost." Spock said. "He was taken hostage by the natives. We recieved a ransom message two hours ago stating that if we did not hand over whatever weapons on board and twenty female crew members the Captain would be executed."
"And no one thought to inform me?!" Leonard shouted nearly throwing his tricorder at their heads.
"We thought-" Chekov began to say before Bones cut in.
"No I don’t care what you thought since obviously you thought wrong! You’re just lucky my idiot finder is working today, I have Jim’s coordinates right here." He said crossly tossing his tricorder to Sulu. "Beam down and get him back and then haul his sorry ass to the med bay so I can vaccinate him against whatever new diseases he’s bound to have gotten."
"You sure this is where he is?" Sulu asked skeptically looking at the tricorder.
"Of course I am, I put a GPS tracker in Jim when I brought him back to life last year."
They agreed that they would never get wedding rings. Wedding rings was what Leonard had with Jocelyn and let’s be honest Jim would fiddle with it to much and it would only get lost.
"Let’s get tattoos." Jim said one night as they cuddled in bed. "We already have some so it’s only fitting we get some of each other."
Leonard stroked lazy circles across Jim’s chest and said, “Okay, the next time we’re on shore leave we’ll get tattoos.”
When they sat down in side by side chairs waiting to get their tattoos Jim squeezed his hand. “You sure about this Bones?”
"You’ll just lose jewelry, I’d like to see you lose a tattoo." Leonard snorted before turning to talk to the tattoo artist. "Fire up your gun I’m ready."
He didn't have a high pain tolerance but Leonard gritted his teeth and held in his winces of pain because he agree to this so he had to follow through. The end result was worth it when Bones saw the worshiping look Jim gave him later that week when they removed the bandaging. A spiraling nebula inked onto his right bicep with twinkling blue stars because they reminded him of Jim’s eyes. “I like it.” He said proudly as Jim stared at it. “I’m thinking I’ll get some more tattoos later and make it a half sleeve.”
"You’re gorgeous." Jim said fervently as he kissed Leonard’s arm.
Jim ended up getting a the constellation Leo tattooed on his back just over his ribs and his tattoo took less time to heal than Bones. The night it was healed for good Leonard ran the inked skin under his tongue tracing out the lion and murmuring, “Mine.”
Perhaps there was something good about space after all.
When Bones is asleep Jim like to sit up and watch him breath and place a hand over his chest to feel his heartbeat, to reassure that he’s real and Jim hasn’t gone insane and imagined their life together.
He likes to whisper promises in the dark where only he will hear and be accountable for them. Promises of forever and protection, of never leaving Leonard’s side and keeping him from becoming to much of a grouch.
Bones never tells Jim that he’s awake during this but if his touches linger a bit longer, if his kisses are more passionate and heated, Jim doesn’t need to know.
"The Captain and Doctor McCoy are most…unusual." Spock said during dinner surprising Uhura.
Wiping her mouth she replied, “In what way Spock? You’ll have to be more specific.”
"Most human express their affection through the phrase I love you, yet I have never heard The Captain and Doctor McCoy say so to each other." Spock’s eyebrows were just slightly furrowed allowing Uhura to see how confused he really was.
She covered her mouth with her hand trying not to laugh. “Spock can you really imagine Leonard holding Kirks hand saying I love you?”
With a slight shake of his head Spock said, “I can not.”
Shrugging her shoulders Uhura smiled and said, “They wouldn’t be them if they could actually verbalized their feelings.”