"Bones!" Jim howled. The blast sent the doctor sprawling across the floor like a floppy ragdoll, and when he finally stopped sliding he lay still. Spock's hand on his shoulder prevented Jim from leaping out from their cover until Sulu motioned the all clear. Jim shook Spock off and scrambled to Bones' side. Jim hauled Bones' limp body into his lap, grabbing his chin and tipping his head up. "Bones, come on, talk to me," Jim hissed, giving Bones a sharp slap on the cheek. There was no physical damage, no bleeding, no bruising, nothing. Bones was breathing, his pulse was erratic but present...
Bones slapped his hand. "Fuck, Sam," he groaned. "Leave me alone..." Jim felt a chill slide down his spine. Sam?
And then Bones opened his eyes.
He jerked, rolling away from Jim into a distinctly military crouch, eyes casting around the area. His hands reached instinctively for weapons that he obviously didn't have, by the look of surprise in his eyes. "Bones," Jim said warily, holding his hands up. "Hang on, relax-"
"Who are you?" Bones snapped. "Where are we? What's going on?"
"Calm down," Jim said, mind spinning. Memory beam? But the way he was positioned... Hard military training. Maybe even special ops from the way he reached for hidden weapons... His memory couldn't be gone. He still had something in there... "I'm James Kirk, captain of the USS Enterprise. We've been serving together for the last three years."
"That's ridiculous. I would never go Navy," Bones scoffed. Jim stared at him.
"Not... the United States armed forces..." Jim said slowly. "The Federation." Bones cocked an eyebrow. "The United Federation of Planets." The eyebrow went higher.
"You're telling me we colonised Mars?" Bones said. Jim frowned. Mars had been colonised for the last hundred years. "The government had a stay on colonisation after... after Olduvai."
Jim's eyes went wide, and out of the corner of his vision he saw Sulu and Spock both freeze and stare. "Olduvai?" Jim repeated. Bones stared at him.
"The government said they wouldn't send anyone up there until it was safe," Bones said. "Now what happened?"
"They didn't," Jim said slowly. "Olduvai was blown off the planet. The entire sector is a dead zone." He watched Bones' face carefully. "That was over a hundred years ago." Bones looked sufficiently startled. "Bones, what's the last thing you remember?" Bones paused, thinking.
"Breakfast," he finally said. "I have a meeting in Dallas today." Jim glanced sharply at Spock. "What?"
"Bones, Dallas was destroyed in the Last War," Jim said. "That was almost a hundred fifty years ago."
"Why do you keep calling me that?" Bones said with a scowl. "Do I know you?" Jim felt cold.
"Captain, might I suggest we escort Doctor McCoy to Medical Bay?" Spock cut in sharply. "Before our visitors return?" Jim nodded. Spock hailed the ship, and they were all beamed back to the Enterprise.
"There's nothing wrong with me," Bones scowled, slapping at the penlight in M'Benga's hand. M'Benga stepped back with a frown on his face. "I keep telling you. I'm a field medic, I know when someone's going batty. You shine that light in my face one more time I'll shove it up yer ass."
"M'Benga, that's enough," Jim said, stepping in front of the thwarted doctor. M'Benga stuck the penlight in his pocket and made a few notes on his clipboard.
"His personality hasn't changed much," M'Benga commented mildly. Jim didn't have the heart to grin.
"His demeanor is completely different," Spock pointed out. Jim knew he was right. M'Benga, by his curious glance, didn't see it. "His shoulders are square and none of his limbs are folded. In the time that we have been standing here, he has checked the entranceway approximately nine times, and has taken stock of all instruments that can be used as possible weapons. He is ready for combat, brutal combat. This man was not trained by Starfleet. He was trained for a rougher, more violent stage in human history."
"What are you saying, Spock?" M'Benga asked, voicing Jim's question that he couldn't quite get out.
"I'm right here," Bones ground out, blatantly uncomfortable with the scrutiny.
"The last thing he remembers is from before the Last War in Earth's history. The beam which struck our Doctor McCoy has either switched his consciousness with another or it regressed Doctor McCoy's own memories," Spock said. Jim stared at him. M'Benga gaped.
"Impossible," the doctor burst out. "No man can live two hundred years."
Spock, implacable in the face of M'Benga's flat denial, turned to Bones. "Sir, what year is it?"
"2046," Bones answered, hesitating at the sheer ridiculousness of the question. Spock turned a triumphant look at Jim, who felt as if the floor had just dropped out from under his feet. Jim couldn't stop staring at the man sitting on the biobed. It wasn't Bones. That wasn't his Bones, his CMO.
"It is possible the device was a de-aging mechanism, but it failed its intent because of Doctor McCoy's unique physiology. It merely regressed his memory and body to a point in time two hundred years ago before its effects wore off," Spock surmised. "It is fortunate that the device was not used on us, as we would have been de-aged to the point of conception."
"Can we fix it?" Jim croaked. He heard Spock, but he couldn't comprehend. It was too insane. Bones had been alive for two hundred years... It wasn't possible... How could he not have known... That wasn't exactly something easy to hide...
"What are you, some kind of walking computer?" Bones asked with a nod at Spock. "What's with the ears?"
"I am Vulcan, the first extra-terrestrial species to make interplanetary contact with humans. Together we founded the United Federation of Planets." Spock clasped his hands behind his back. "The Federation was founded in 2161 with the goal of keeping the peace between planetary relations."
"Keeping the peace?" Bones scoffed. "What, like... the United Nations? Do you have any idea what kind of fucked up things are out there?" He jerked his arm out, presumably in a direction towards Mars. "You're out of your heads."
"Evidence would prove contrary to your assessment," Spock said calmly. "The Federation has been active for nearly a century. It's administration is quite effective."
"Spock!" Jim interrupted them. Spock turned his gaze to the captain. "Can we fix it?"
"I have to investigate further, and I would need the original device to give you a more definitive answer, Captain," Spock said.
"I'm not broke," Bones growled. "Nothing needs to be fixed. Just drop me on Earth. Stranger things have happened."
"Bones-" Jim started.
"Stop. Calling. Me. That," the man growled. Jim clamped his jaw shut, the air punched from his gut as surely as if he had been struck.
"What should we refer to you as?" Spock saved Jim by filling the disturbingly awkward silence.
"My name is John Grimm," he said, his voice low and rough. It was Bones' voice, but Jim had never heard that inflection before. He took a step back unconsciously. The movement did not escape Grimm's notice. "You don't look so good. You all right?"
"Am I all right?" Jim burst incredulously. "You're the... the immortal... soldier person!"
"Don't get your panties in a twist, christ," Grimm snarled. "Don't yell at me. I'm not the one who kidnapped me and took me out to space."
"We didn't kidnap you. You volunteered," Jim snapped back, anger short-circuiting his fear. "You sat down on that jump shuttle and offered me a whiskey." Jim cut himself off before he launched into a rant. Spock was looking at him funny. "See what you can figure out," he ordered Spock before turning and storming from the room. Their voices followed him into the hall as he made his way to his room.
He threw himself onto his bed and somehow fell asleep. When he started awake with a gasp, he groaned. His bed felt cold, and he shivered as he rolled out of it. He was inexplicably drawn to MedBay. He hated hospitals with an ungodly passion, but Bones had made the Enterprise's MedBay a place of sanctuary for him.
The lights were cut for the sleeping patients to simulate night. Jim couldn't help himself. He walked to Grimm's bed and looked down at the sleeping man who was his Bones but not...
As he watched, Grimm's face pinched, as if he were uncomfortable. A short gasp escaped his lips, and Jim frowned. He leaned over Grimm, one hand on the warped bed rail.
"Hey," he whispered. "Grimm." Grimm's short breaths choked off, and Jim grabbed his shoulder hard. "Grimm. Wake up!" Jim urged.
Grimm snapped awake, shoving Jim's arm away and launching off the bed. Jim barely had time to block the punch thrown at him. He fell, caught off guard, and Grimm slammed his back to the ground, one hand around Jim's throat. Jim grunted and kicked, catching Grimm in the ribs. Grimm loosened his hold enough that Jim could hit the inside of his elbow. He latched his knees under Grimm's chest and threw him over his head. Grimm thudded to the ground, breath exploding from his lungs.
"Stop! Stop," Jim gasped, rolling onto his stomach. "Grimm!"
Grimm froze, already crouched to attack again. "Kirk?"
"You were having a nightmare," Jim hissed, pushing himself up now that Grimm wasn't going to throttle him.
The fight left Grimm, and he slumped completely to the ground with a soft groan.
"Grimm?" Jim couldn't help himself. The almost instinctive need to touch Bones was overpowering. He reached out and touched a hand to Grimm's hair. Grimm sighed heavily at the sensation.
"I don't think I can get up," he admitted after a moment of silence. His fingers clenched and unclenched nervously on the tile floor. Jim said nothing, merely grabbed a wrist and hauled Grimm to his feet. His body was solid and familiar in Jim's hold as he moved Grimm to the biobed. Grimm dropped onto the bed with a slight wince. "Thanks," he muttered hoarsely.
"Welcome," Jim said quietly. It was impossible to take his eyes off the man. An uncomfortable silence fell over them.
"So this Bones guy, he was pretty cool?" Grimm coughed, shattering the silence.
"Yea, he was pretty cool," Jim said with a wry grin. "Apparently he was you."
"Yea, well, two hundred years will change a guy, I'm sure," Grimm said, shifting in the bed. "This isn't easy for me to take in either, believe you me. I have two hundred years to catch up on. So what have I been up to all those years?" He seemed genuinely curious.
"Uh, you're a doctor," Jim said helplessly. "One of the best in the fleet."
"Makes sense," Grimm said quietly. "I was a field medic on my squad. That's why they called me Reaper. I've been thinking about going into medicine after... after Olduvai..."
"Yea. You know, Grim Reaper? Decides who lives and who dies?" Grimm gave a sardonic grin. "That's me. It's funny." Jim stared at the man in horror. Grimm shrugged. "You gotta find somewhere to laugh. Otherwise you go insane."
"What happened at Olduvai?" Jim found himself asking, curiosity getting the better of him. "Historical records didn't hold up well. Every textbook just says Something Bad."
Grimm pursed his lips and rolled his eyes to pierce Jim's gaze. "If I told you the door to hell opened, would you believe me?"
"Hell is an urban legend," Jim breathed, "made up by an ancient cult."
"Keep telling yourself that, kid, if it helps you sleep at night," Grimm muttered. Jim couldn't believe what he was hearing. Alien words were being spoken in Bones' low drawl, the voice that had soothed him to sleep many nights, had barked orders, had given him a sense of purpose in the steadily shifting universe...
"What will you do if we can't reverse this?" Jim asked, his voice cracking. Grimm shrugged.
"Do what I always do, I suppose. I'll probably just go to school again for medicine. If I know anything about myself I probably became a doctor to team up with Sam and find a way to use my abilities to help people." Grimm held up his hand. "Immortality isn't that hot, but super-healing can be useful."
"Sam was your wife?" Jim asked. Grimm stared at him.
"Why does everyone assume that?" he asked. "I know we don't look alike or anything, but seriously. She's my sister. Twins. She's fifteen minutes older and never lets me forget it." Jim grinned. The image of Bones having a twin sister... Especially one who bossed him around... It was too awesome for words. "She went the science route. I couldn't." Jim wanted to ask, but the tone of Grimm's voice prevented him. "So I joined the military. Sam stopped talking to me. Until Olduvai."
"And now you're immortal. And she's gone," Jim said quietly. Grimm shrugged.
"I'd do it again. I had to protect her. You don't understand what we were up against." Grimm's voice was low and hoarse. "If I got her a few more years in this grimy 'verse, it was worth it." Jim felt dizzy. That was his Bones. Right there. "None of those people deserved what they got," Grimm went on, his eyes glazing over as he remembered. "They trusted us. And we let them down."
"There was nothing you could have done," Jim said quietly. "You got Sam out alive. That's something."
"Yea, and I killed my CO to do it," Grimm burst out angrily. "Because he went goddamn apeshit. Killing women and children... He was out of his fucking mind."
"You did the right thing, Grimm," Jim said slowly, reaching to put one hand down heavily on Grimm's thigh. "History proved it. What you did down there... You're a hero. You saved everyone." Grimm obviously didn't believe his words, and scoffed at him.
"There's a reason you have a commanding officer," Grimm ground out. "Because the grunts aren't supposed to have to think. We're supposed to be fucking cannon fodder."
"You did the right thing," Jim said again, more gently this time. He shifted, moving closer to the head of the bed. Grimm watched him with wary eyes, violence simmering just beneath the surface. It was unnerving. Bones never resorted to lashing out physically. He drank and ranted and threw things, but he never struck another person when he was furious with himself. Jim felt like he was balancing on a thin, barbed wire fence.
"Who are you?" Grimm asked finally. "What were you to Bones?"
"I don't know what I was to Bones, but to me... he was my stability," Jim said, unable to meet Grimm's intense gaze. "He let me know when I was about to do something stupid. Loudly and often." This earned a small smile from Grimm.
"He sounds like a pretty well-rounded individual," Grimm commented.
"We all have our quirks," Jim said, swallowing hard past the lump in his throat. Talking to Grimm about the man he had become... This was beyond surreal.
"I'm sorry," Grimm said.
"It's not your fault," Jim said reflexively. "There's nothing you could have done. I just don't know why he didn't tell us about you."
"Well, technically it's none of your business," Grimm pointed out. "And if I were around for two hundred years, I would not want to be thinking about Olduvai at all. I would try to forget those memories as quickly as possible. I would probably fail, but I definitely would not talk about them with anyone. Things get dicey when people find out you can't die." Grimm sighed and stretched in the bed. "Uh, I don't know what kind of regulations you have nowadays, but can I please just get a knife or something? I can't sleep without a weapon nearby."
"After the way you jumped me? I don't think so," Jim said, surprised Grimm had even asked. Though he shouldn't be, really. Innocent, brutal honesty was one of Bones' trademarks. "To protect the medical team, if anything. We can't have you killing our nurses and doctors. That wouldn't be nice at all. I can get you a sedative, would that help?"
Grimm shook his head. "I metabolise it too quickly. Drugs don't work on me anymore." He peered at Jim. "You're a bright kid. Didn't you notice that?" Jim jumped, startled.
"Yea, I did. I figured he was just an oddball medically, like me. I'm allergic to almost everything," Jim said casually. "I had no idea it was as oddball as being immortal." Grimm chuckled. "Hey, I'll sit with you and keep watch, if you want. I haven't been trained in the Marines, but I am a Starfleet captain. I can keep decent watch."
"All right," Grimm grumbled. He shifted onto his side, curling up at Jim's back without another word. "Wake me up when it's my turn."
"Deal," Jim said, pulling a knee up to his chest as he watched Grimm fall asleep.
He blamed emotional trauma for falling asleep. Exhaustion was a stern master, and the next thing he knew, he was being elbowed in the ribs. "Ow," he grunted, shoving the elbow back. A knee wedged between his legs, and Jim opened his eyes. His face was pressed to medical scrubs, and he was pretty sure he had gotten a mouthful of fabric while he slept. He licked his lips as he pushed himself up, trying to disentangle himself from Grimm's mess of limbs. Jim wiggled his jaw, trying to force the taste of starched cloth from his mouth. "Ugh," he groaned, shoving at Grimm's shoulder. Grimm rolled over without resistance, fetching up against the biobed rails. "You are heavy."
Grimm shifted, stretching out an arm to grip Jim's shirt and tug. Jim found himself pinned to the bed by a pair of abnormally strong arms. He grimaced and wriggled, trying to find the weak point in the hold. Over him, Grimm chuckled as he leaned his full weight on Jim. The pressure was achingly familiar, and Jim relaxed, instantly recognising the game. He managed to twist free of Grimm's hold and they wrestled, laughing as they tried to find a hold the other couldn't get out of.
Grimm finally bested Jim, locking his elbows in a fierce grip that Jim couldn't break. He lay panting on the bed as Grimm leaned over him. "I can see why I followed you out here," Grimm said quietly. Jim froze. Grimm let his hold loosen, and he sat back in the bed, eyes never leaving Jim. The captain pushed himself up.
"I actually followed you," Jim said quietly. "I was grounded for cheating, and you got me aboard the Enterprise." Grimm quirked a small smile. "You risked your career to get me on board." He paused. "You can't stay, can you?"
"Look, kid, I like you. I do," Grimm said earnestly. "But I can't... I can't return to the military so soon after Olduvai. I need to sort through this wreck that mission made me. You don't want me up here anyway. I could punch a hole in your little ship faster than you can blink."
"I always want you up here," Jim whispered fiercely. "You're still him. He's you. Just because I didn't know about you doesn't change that. I can see him in you. Sure, he's rough around the edges and he swears worse than anyone I've ever heard, but he's still you. You're not two separate entities."
"I'm broke, kid," Grimm said solemnly. "Broke so bad I don't know if I can be fixed. The man you knew had two hundred years to sort through all his pieces. I am not that pretty a guy."
"You think I'm all together?" Jim countered. "Bones was always yelling at me for being suicidal. Everyone has their jagged pieces. It's part of life."
"Yea, your jagged pieces weren't carved by demons from hell," Grimm pointed out. Jim hissed in frustration.
"Just stay with me for a bit. We have a year left in our tour anyway. Stay with me till then, and whatever you decide after that I'll let you. Please," Jim said, well aware that he was pleading. Grimm sighed.
"All right, kid, stop groveling. Christ. Never thought I'd see a captain of a ship on his knees," Grimm grumbled. "What's a year in two hundred?" Jim smiled his relief, a grin that split his face almost in half. Grimm couldn't help but smile back in amusement.