Locking herself in his office, she flattens her hands on the surface of his desk, his empty chair nudging the backs of her knees, and breathes.
(his eyes closed and blood on his forehead and his cheek and his jaw and a terrible glimpse of white through the matted strands of his hair and the thick coating of dirt and dust and grit from the planet and)
Straightening, she adjusts her sleeves, pulling them down over her wrists. Grabbing what she came in for, she strides out into Sickbay again, pausing at biobed three to hand McCoy his PADD with a short, "anything else, Doctor?"
He looks up at her, and frowns, but says, "no," and, "that's all, Chapel," so she nods once and walks away to where M'Benga is now treating Ensign Mei's ankle and calling for a bone-knitter.
She doesn't look back.
McCoy rests until the end of shift which is about two hours more than anyone probably expected him to, and twelve hours less than he was told to.
He slides off the biobed and heads into his office as she's handing over to Nurse Harris for the night, and she thinks about following him but his door hisses shut before she can figure out why she's thinking that, so she turns her attention back to the charts in her hands and finishes her shift instead.
In her quarters, she stands in her sonic-shower for too long, keying it faster and higher until her skin feels like it's tingling all over, almost enough to hurt, her brain recycling snapshots from earlier, from before, from that moment --
(his eyes opening and his hand grabbing her free wrist as she holds a dermal regenerator to the gash on his scalp and his fingers steel around her skin and flesh and bones and stop her breath and)
Stopping the shower, she rests her head against the wall and exhales.
She replicates a bowl of soup instead of heading to the mess, and forces herself to eat at least half before pushing it away.
She picks up her uniform and last night's sleepwear and tags them for the laundry.
She sits down with one of the latest medical archaeology journals and reads the first article three times before realising she's not even absorbing the subject matter, let alone any of the details.
The skin on the inside of her wrist is itching again, like it did in Sickbay after she'd left McCoy lying on his biobed, reading his PADD. She'd looked up half a dozen or more times during those couple of hours, somehow expecting to find him staring at her, and the fact that he hadn't been had only made the itch worse.
She has an urge to cross over to her bed, to press her mouth against her pillows and scream. She fights it.
Her door chimes while she's waiting for a cup of tea to cool and, while she honestly has no idea who it could be, that it's McCoy standing outside her door is both the most unexpected and least surprising guess she could have made.
"Doctor," she says, moving aside automatically. She watches him step into her quarters so the door can hiss shut behind him. "Is something --"
"Your arm," he says, shortly. "Give it to me."
Oh, she thinks. She holds up her left arm and lets him carefully push up her sleeve, revealing his fingermarks around her wrist.
He scowls darkly. "Damnit, woman. Why'd the hell you not get this seen to already?"
Busy. Forgot. But she doesn't want to lie to him and that's what those answers would be. Meeting his gaze steadily, she says nothing, just waits for him to run his medical tricorder over her wrist.
"Well?" she asks quietly when he's done.
"Just bruised." He snaps the tricorder closed. "I'll --"
She shakes her head. "It's fine." Dropping her arm, she slides her sleeve back down. "How's your head?"
"Fine," he echoes, frowning at her. "Let me heal --"
"Doctor," she says evenly, wondering how far he will push this, how far she will let him push this. "Was there anything else?"
He stares at her, stares at her and opens his mouth, and she rocks on her heels a little in anticipation.
"No," he says instead, looking away, and she's strangely disappointed.
She nods though, nods and turns to open her door. "Goodnight," she says.
He crosses the threshold and stands in the corridor. "Goodnight, Chapel," he says, turning as if to face her.
The door hisses shut before he can.
Her tea has gone cold.
Pouring it out into the recycler, she tugs at her sleeves and forces herself to breathe in the quiet of her quarters.
He doesn't look surprised to see her standing outside his quarters when his door opens either.
"You were hurt," she says.
"Yeah," he says, running a hand through his hair. "I kinda got that."
(blood and hair and bone and dirt and)
She realises she wants to scream still -- again, now, wants to rail against him and his stupid lack of self-preservation in the face of danger, wants to say, you used to be careful, damnit, you used to care -- and forces it down once more.
"Okay," she says instead.
"Okay," he repeats, and reaches out to grab her wrist, pulling her inside.
Her bruised flesh flares in response to his touch as the door slides shut behind her, and she flexes her hand but doesn't pull away.
"Why won't you let me heal you?" he asks, voice low and tight.
Why did you fall? she thinks. She reaches up and touches his temple, slides her fingers through his hair like there's still something there to see, to feel.
(blood and bone and)
"You were hurt," she says, watching him turn into her touch. You were hurt and for a moment, god, for a moment I thought you were gone and --
A look sparks in his eyes, a look she doesn't quite recognise, and his hand shifts, fingers fitting perfectly back around her wrist. "I can't promise you --" he starts.
She knows he can't. "I don't want you to." Promises break and she doesn't want to consider that he might too. Not again. Leaning up as he leans in, she presses her forehead against the curve of his jaw.
"Chapel," he says.
He lets go of her only to touch her, to frame her face with his palms and pull her into a kiss. His mouth slants over hers.
Dragging her hand from his hair to the back of his neck, she anchors herself to him, meeting his kiss with a trace of desperation that she refuses to feel ashamed for. He feels alive against her, feels like he did when he grabbed her wrist in Sickbay, real and firm and there, his tongue in her mouth and his thumbs tracing her cheekbones, fingers parting her hair, until she can't help but realise that she doesn't just want him -- she wants him.
Digging her nails into his nape, she breaks the kiss. "I want you," she says against his mouth. "I want you inside me. I want your --"
He growls, "shut up, shut up," and presses his lips to her jawline. His hands drag down her neck, her shoulders, her arms, to her sides. Gripping her hips, he pulls her tight against him, grinding against her. She breathes out in a rush and he does it again, again.
Dropping her hands to his chest, she shoves hard, pushing him back, pulling herself a step, two steps, out of his reach. His eyes are dark and searching, suddenly wary, hands bunching into fists at his sides as he watches her, as his body leans towards her like she's gravity, the center of his world here and now.
Finding the hem of her shirt, she tugs it up and over her head; finds the drawstring at her waist and pulls at the loose knot, sliding her pants off her hips. She kicks the material free and reaches behind her to unfasten her bra, exhaling sharply when he lunges forward and gathers her back into his arms, his hands smoothing up her spine so he can do it for her.
His kiss is hard as he runs his hands over her back, her sides, her breasts, as she works to pull his shirt off, needing to feel his skin against hers. "Stop fighting me," she mutters.
"Patience." His mouth moves to her neck. "We got all the time."
If only, she thinks, arching as his hands smooth across her ribs, her hips. His thumbs snag the elastic band of her underwear, pushing the fabric down so that his fingers can find her sex, already wet and slick.
He slips a finger into her, steadying her when she bucks against him.
"Jesus." Abandoning her attack on his shirt, she clutches his shoulders, holding on tight as he fingers her, his mouth sucking on the curve of her neck.
"Easy," he whispers, his hand twisting so he can add a second finger, his strokes steady and insistent, his thumb skirting her clit. "Easy, darlin'."
"No," she manages, "no, wait, you've got to stop. You've got --" Her head drops, forehead pressing against his collarbone, tension snapping through her body too fast, too hard. She's going to -- "McCoy..."
He hums something barely audible against her skin as her orgasm rushes through her, as her fingernails dig into his shoulder blades and her muscles contract and her breath hitches in her throat. He searches for her mouth and kisses her.
She's still catching her breath when he starts backing her across the room. The backs of her knees hit the side of his bed and she drops down onto the mattress, pushing herself away from the edge.
"You're beautiful," he says, staring.
No, she thinks, watching him quickly strip off his clothes and kneel on the bed. He takes his cock in hand and strokes himself. You are.
"Come here," she says, pushing herself back up and reaching for him. Her fingers wrap around his wrist, and her arm around his neck, as she presses herself to his chest. His hand continues to twist and smooth over his cock, the play of muscles and bones in his arm vibrant under her grip.
Her mouth brushes his with a light kiss, her breathing fast. "McCoy," she whispers.
This time, when she falls back, he follows her down.
Slow. He slides into her like he wants to remember this, her, not just tomorrow or the day after or next month, but for --
She keeps one arm draped around his neck, her other hand palm-flat over his spine. Presses him to her and her to him as he pulls back and pushes in. Again. His hand clenches on her hip, dragging her leg higher, his head dropping so he can lick the curve of her neck. She feels warm and heavy, his body weighting her into the mattress, and when she arches beneath him, pushing back, the friction between them spikes her senses. She moans.
"Christ," he mutters, keeps muttering, words turning unintelligible as he mouths her skin. Without warning he pushes up, bracing himself on one arm, and thrusts in hard, over and over and over, until she's not coming again so much as burning, waves of heat flashing through the tension in her muscles.
Her hands slip on his skin, finding his shoulders, his neck, his head. She threads her fingers through his hair and pulls his mouth back to hers. Kisses him messily and says, "come for me, come, come," until he's groaning, shuddering, hips faltering against hers.
"Chapel," he manages, "Chris," and, oh god, her name on his lips, here, now -- it sounds like a promise, sounds like a future where she doesn't need his bruises, doesn't need to remind herself that he's alive, doesn't need --
(his hand and her wrist and his fingers and)
Okay, she thinks frantically, then slower, okay.
She breathes him in, breathes and maybe, maybe, makes a promise herself, "Len."
He orders lights off, the traces of starlight flickering past his window highlighting the shadows in his quarters.
"I'm sorry," he says, fingers skimming the marks he's left on her neck, her shoulder.
She smiles a little, mirroring his touch. "Me too."
His hand captures hers, holding her knuckles against his mouth for a moment before letting their arms drop and rest into the space between their bodies. She stares at the way his fingers wrap around hers, stares and then raises her eyes to his. "Okay?" she asks, thinking, are we? are you? is this? will --
Leaning in, he closes the distance between them and kisses her. Kisses her with such softness, such lightness, that she almost, almost slides her hand up so his fingers will curve around her wrist.
He pulls back and watches her watch him. Smiles a little too.
"Yeah," he says, "okay."
In the morning, she thinks, she'll let him use the regenerator.