It was on an away mission, of course it was on an away mission, when it all went south. Jim and the rest of the away team kicked back at the dinner celebrating the treaty with the Zendari, enjoying the spectacle. When some of the Zendari, lithesome feathered bodies weaving hypnotically, began wafting clouds of an odorless powder over the gathering, Spock whipped out his tricorder and scanned the substance as it settled almost invisibly over every surface in the atrium.
“It appears to be harmless, Captain. I can ascertain no immediate threat from the substance.”
Jim settled back. “Good. Didn’t want to have an issue now that we’ve finally got things settled.”
They relaxed and watched as the Zendari around them became wilder, their colors intensifying and voices raising in oddly musical screeches. The away team appeared to be unaffected by the powder. When the dinner devolved into an orgy, Jim made their farewells and ordered the team to beam up.
In an aside to Spock, he whispered, “Not that this hasn’t been educational and really ennertaining, but I don’t really wanna watch ‘em getting down an’ dirty like this.”
“Captain, are you experiencing difficulties? You have begun to sound intoxicated. In addition, your eyes are dilated.”
“M’ok, Spork.” Jim giggled, then went on, “Feelin’ all tingly and kinda floaty, though. S’pretty awesome. Think I’m higher’n a kite. Dunno what the shit they dusted us with was, but I want some more.”
Spock grabbed Jim’s arm as he tried go back to the dinner and held him as the transporter dematerialized them into a swirl of molecules. Reassembling on the transporter pad, Jim looked over at Scotty.
“Scotty, my man! I al’ays wonnered if the whole ‘no unnerwear with your kilt’ thing was for other shit, too. Is it? Do Scots go commando alla time?”
Spock clapped a hand over Jim’s mouth as the rest of the away team mumbled, eyes avoiding Scotty as they rushed (for a change) to Sickbay.
“My apologies, Commander Scott. The Captain appears to be in some difficulty. Please ignore the question.” Spock’s eyebrow twitched as Jim nibbled at the palm currently keeping him from asking the engineer exactly how he and Keenser had occupied their time on Delta Vega.
Spock dragged Jim from the transporter room and down to Sickbay, face becoming even blanker as Jim tried to suck a hickey into Spock’s palm.
“Doctor McCoy. I believe the Captain is having a reaction to a substance to which the away team was exposed. I obtained a sample for study. The rest of the team appears not to have suffered from the exposure.”
McCoy growled “And where did you get your medical degree? Last I knew they weren’t allowed to give ‘em out in Cracker Jack boxes.” Ignoring the almost puzzled look from Spock and the giggles from Jim, he waved at Jim’s very own special bed. “Get him up there so I can strap his ass down.”
McCoy huffed as he strapped Jim down, not wanting him to wander away in his apparently inebriated state, before scanning him. “His cerebral metabolic rates are wildly off and GABA activity is up. Are you sure the rest of the team is acting OK?”
“Yes, Doctor. They appear to be functioning optimally.”
McCoy favored Spock with an elevated brow and aggressively stuck his ‘corder in Spock’s face. Spock absolutely did not flinch. With a scowl, McCoy griped, “Figures you’d be optimal.” He ignored Jim in the background giggling and chanting, “Optial, optolimal, potimal…” After clearing Spock, he turned to the Vulcan. “Why don’t you go do something useful instead of taking up space breathing my air? Go analyze that sample and see what the hell it is.”
“Very well, Doctor.” McCoy suppressed a grin at getting an almost snippy reply from the man and began working through the rest of the away team. He was distracted from the readings for Lieutenant Jones-Turvo when he heard Jim blurt, “Geez, doesn’t anybody ever dust around the lights? They are kinda pretty with those rainbows around ‘em, though. You know, the lights on those biobed displays look like New Vegas, all twinkly and shit.”
McCoy twitched before he turned back to Lieutenant Jones-Turvo. “Just a moment. I’ll be right back.”
At the woman’s nod, he went over to Jim. Scanning him again, he muttered, “You okay there, kid?”
“You know, you have gorgeous eyes and really nice eyelashes. I like your lips, too. Wanna run my fingers through your hair, it looks way soft…” Jim turned his head, watching M’Benga as he released Ensign Anderson. He waved a finger at the retreating Ensign. “D’you know that Annerson sends credits to a wilelife rehab cenner? He’s all sweet-n-fuzzy like that.”
“Just hold on a couple minutes and I’ll be right back with you, Jim.”
McCoy turned from Jim but whipped around at a piercing whistle. “You got a great ass, Bonesss. Mmmm.”
McCoy rolled his eyes and turned back to clear Lieutenant Jones-Turvo. “Nothing wrong with you. You’re cleared for active duty, Lieutenant.” With a shy smile, she nodded and high-tailed it out of Sickbay. McCoy looked around, making sure there were no other crew members needing to be checked, before turning back to Jim just in time to hear him whisper, “-then you flutter your tongue right ‘long the side of it and make ‘em scream.”
The nurse Jim was talking to grinned as she waved a sterilizer over Jim and replied, “But what if I don’t want to make them scream?”
“Eh. Your choice. I have’n made ennyone scream on this ship since I got made Cap’n. D’you know that? Feelin’ a lil deprived here.”
At the pout, McCoy drawled, “Depraved, more like. Put away the puppy dog eyes, kid, she ain’t gonna solve that problem for you.”
“S’OK, Bones. Only one I wanta solve that pro’lem for me’s you.”
McCoy snapped his mouth shut after realizing his jaw had dropped. “Uh. Well. Let’s see you say that when you’re sober.”
Turning to the nurse, Jim confided, “He doesn’ b’lieve me. He never does.” Jim sighed wistfully. “’D’ya know when we went to Porcyla we were s’posed ta meet a Rom’lan deflector? Uh, defect. De-feck-er.” Jim smiled proudly at mangling the word less than the prior attempts as McCoy raced back across Sickbay to slap his hand over Jim’s mouth.
McCoy turned to the nurse. “Nurse Goldbein, go see if there’s something Doctor M’Benga needs help with. And if there isn’t, go inventory the hyposprays. Now.”
At McCoy’s glare, she turned and bolted across the room. McCoy turned back to Jim, snapping out, “You can’t go saying stuff like that, Jim. You’ll get yourself court-marshaled, and then I’ll be stuck out here all by myself treating a whole crew with death wishes and billions of STIs and coping with that overgrown elf, and then I’ll have to kill him and when I get off whatever god-forsaken hellacious prison planet they stick me on I’ll have to come hunt you down and end you.”
McCoy nervously glanced around before he cautiously removed his hand to allow Jim to talk. Jim waggled his brows and leered in a loopy, slightly unfocussed way.
“Don’t worry, Bones. I’ll never ‘bandon you. You an’ me, together forevah. ‘Sides, nobody ever b’lieves me, so don’ worry bout it. Ya know, I really wanna suck on your tongue.” After a spacey moment, Jim continued, “Wanna suck on your dick, too. But I want you to suck on mine. Don’t like sixty-nine, wanna consetrate on you.” Jim’s forehead furrowed. “This’sa cundrum. Condundun. Conundun. Thing.” He nodded decisively. “Havta take turns.”
McCoy’s mouth couldn’t decide whether it wanted to water at the thought or to dry up like the Mojave. It was a decidedly odd sensation. Rather than dwell on it, he slapped Jim lightly upside the head. “We ain’t takin’ turns doing anything, Jim. You're not in your right mind and until you are, none of what you’re saying counts. Neither of us is sucking on anything while you’re stoned.”
For a moment, clarity shone in Jim’s eyes and a half smile graced his lips. “Soooo. That means when this shit wears off, I can tell you how mush I love you and we can be together. Good. Goooood.” He nodded before his attention was drawn to Christine Chapel, who had just come through the Sickbay doors, ready to start her shift.
“Christiiine! Do you know how much you look like Adm’ral Keeler’s daughter? D’you know she stood on top of the Peery dorms and flashed the entire quad? Have you ever flashed the entire quad? Tha’d be awesome. As awesome as when we were on Denk VI and Starfleet gave me orders to do wh’ever it took—”
Once again McCoy slapped his hand over Jim's mouth. Turning with a snarl, he glared at Christine. “Go find something to do. Away from here. Before we all get thrown in the brig. And keep everyone else away until this idiot can keep his damn fool mouth shut.”
Christine backed away, then spun and bolted from the area. She did McCoy proud with her efficient clearing of the area, organizing the staff into an impromptu full inventory. When McCoy made sure all the staff were well away from Jim, he released the man-child’s mouth. As he did, Jim swiped at McCoy’s palm with his tongue. McCoy wrinkled his brow and wiped the saliva over Jim’s cheek.
“Good grief, you immature asshole. You need to get that freakish oral obsession fixed before you stick something in your mouth that’ll make your tongue fall off and then how’re you gonna do that flutter thing with it?”
“S’Ok, Bones. You’d fix it.”
“I’m a doctor, Jim, not some miracle worker.”
“You keep me alive ev'ry day. That’s a mir’cle. And you can run really fast, you know that? Zoom!”
“It’s all the chasing after you, trying to keep your ass in one piece, kid.”
“Too late, Bones. It’s already cracked in half. I think you need to take a look at it. A real close look. Hans on exam-a-na-shun.”
“Damn it, Jim. I’m not talking about this while you’re out of your head. I swear, if I didn’t already drink, you’d drive me to it.”
“Will you talk about it later?”
McCoy stared at Jim for a moment, trying to weight the best response. Finally giving in to the hopeful, sweet face turned his way, he mumbled, “Yeah, okay, Jim. If you remember this when you’re sober, I’ll talk about it.”
Jim beamed a wobbly grin and drawled, “Eeexcellent. We need to figure out where we’re gonna have the wedding.”
McCoy was still spluttering and Jim was rambling on about how the Sickbay needed clouds and rainbows and flowers and bunnies ‘and all that other fluffy, happy crap’ painted on the walls when Spock glided in, hands clasped behind his back.
“Doctor, it appears the Captain has not yet regained control of his faculties.”
McCoy snorted. “Is he ever in control of his faculties?”
Spock tilted his head slightly before murmuring, “That is possibly a valid point. However, it appears he is still under the influence of the Zendari dust.”
Jim started in again. “Zen dust. Gotta market this stuff. It’s awesome. Think it’s wearin’ off, though,” he finished mournfully. His grin was slightly less dopey and he wasn’t slurring his words quite as much.
The two men pondered Jim for a moment before turning to each other again. “Well, Spock. Did you figure out what that stuff was and if it’s going to eat Jim’s brain or something? Not that you’d be able to tell most of the time, but it’s the principle of the matter.”
Spock’s eyebrow raised to an outrageous height at the acerbic comment and McCoy smugly settled into a loose stance. Jim started making absurd observations about hot doctors with sexy, manly stances while McCoy and Spock did their best to ignore him.
“It appears to be a harmless, plant based substance, Doctor. I can ascertain no reason it should have affected the Captain in such a manner.”
Jim called, “I’m just special.”
McCoy nodded sagely and dryly chimed in, “Yeah, Jim. You’re very special. Bless your heart.”
Spock’s mouth twitched in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it almost smile. “Indeed. It seems to be abating. It would appear time will effect a cure. As such, I shall return to the Bridge and formulate a report. Please notify me if anything untoward occurs.” With a nod, Spock smartly turned and strode away.
Jim called out to Spock’s retreating form, “Hey, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. I’m counting on you to be gentle with my baby.”
McCoy rolled his eyes. “Keep it in your pants, Jim. The Enterprise ain’t gonna reciprocate your feelings there.”
“Nah, Bones, I love her platonkly. Not like Scotty.” Jim laughed before continuing with what he called his ‘serious business’ face. “You’re th’ only one I want to recipicate, Bones. Seriously.” With a decisive nod, Jim sighed, closed his eyes, and dropped into a deep sleep.
McCoy blinked at Jim before muttering, “Huh.” He glanced at the bed's readout, determined Jim’s metabolic rates were normalizing, and rolled his eyes on principal. He went into his office, stomach fluttering at the thought of Jim remembering any of it when he woke. He wondered what he’d do if that happened, and he found out Jim was willing to settle down with him. Then he wondered what he’d do if Jim didn’t remember, or wasn’t willing to settle down.
McCoy was surveying the monitor when Jim awoke during the middle of alpha shift. He glanced down and quirked his lips at the slightly confused look Jim had.
“How you feeling, kid?”
“Uh. Like I don't have to say every single thing that crosses my mind anymore.”
McCoy nodded. Cautiously he prodded, “You remember anything that happened after the Zendari dinner?”
Jim laughed quietly. “You would not believe how flexible they are, Bones. I don't believe it and I saw it in person.” He shook his head in wonder. “What was that stuff? It felt great but I couldn't keep from saying anything that occurred to me. It was like it took away my brain-to-mouth filter.”
McCoy snorted. “Wasn't aware you had one.” At Jim's reproachful look, McCoy huffed a laugh and continued. “It was an extract from a fern they have down there. It didn't do anything to anyone else, but it caused the same physiological changes in you that a pentobarbital would, only more so. You just have to be a problem child, don't you? Good thing it wore off pretty quickly.”
Jim grunted, looking pensive for a moment. He looked up at McCoy from under lowered brows. “You going to unstrap me any time this century? Not that I couldn't get into this, but I think it's time I was at least able to sit up.”
McCoy quickly released Jim, who sat up and rubbed his thumb along McCoy's wrist. Again looking at him with that intense concentration, Jim asked, “So, you ready to talk about it?”
McCoy hitched in a breath, then grumbled, “Not here, jackass. I'm not airing my laundry where everyone and their dog is privy to it.”
Jim didn't lose the intense look. Instead, he grabbed McCoy and dragged him into the CMO's office, ordering the door to lock behind them. “Fine. Here will work better than in the middle of Sickbay and I'm not waiting long enough for us to go to my quarters. Or yours.” After a pause to survey McCoy, during which time McCoy decided his heart was trying to beat its way through his ribcage and into free flight around the room, which would be messy and inconvenient, and why didn't Jim just come out and say something so maybe he better say something--
With a jolt, he beat his increasingly hysterical thoughts into submission as Jim's look changed from serious to kind, almost tender. Now McCoy's heart was burrowing into his stomach and he opened his mouth to say whatever would be most wrong when Jim softly said, “I remember all of it, you know. I meant every word. I'd intended to say something, but things just kept getting in the way.”
McCoy blinked and realized his world hadn't just ended, it had instead opened into a limitless vista. His filled his 'yeah?' with all the wonder coursing through him, and Jim's answering 'yeah' was overflowing with bottomless affection and a quiet humor.
When Jim's lips slid over his, it released the warmth he'd been banking against the possible future cold loss of Jim. When Jim's mouth opened his, he opened his mind and heart to the knowledge that he'd loved this impossible man for so long he couldn't pinpoint when he'd fallen. When Jim opened his body and filled McCoy with his heat and strength and life, it filled him with the knowledge that they'd been together in almost every way that mattered for most of their friendship. When Jim released into his willing body, it also released McCoy from the chains he'd carefully kept wrapped protectively around himself, trading them for the shelter he found in Jim's arms.
McCoy found he had a lot to thank the Zendari for. Their dust had freed Jim to say what he needed to, and it had been a truth serum for McCoy, making him see what had been hiding in plain sight for years. He made a mental note not to be too harsh in his report to Starfleet. He couldn't let all this romantic musing forced on him to go unpunished, though, or he just wouldn't be himself. As he and Jim lay, arms and legs entangled, he slapped at the head cradled on his chest. “I've got carpet burns on my ass now. You're going to be making up for this for a long time, dipshit. Just so you know.”
Jim grinned. “S'OK, Bones. We've got a lifetime for me to make it up to you. So, where do you want to get married?”
The growled 'Jim' lost its effectiveness when Jim's tongue slid back home in McCoy's mouth, robbing him of breath, and his wits, and every shred of his self-control. It was much later before the two of them staggered, disheveled and with kiss-reddened skin, past an almost-visibly-startled Spock on their way to the Captain's quarters.
Jim slapped Spock's arm in passing. “Carry, on, Spock. Don't do anything to my baby I wouldn't do. I'm on my way to do everything to Bones that you wouldn't do.” The men disappeared down the corridor with a snarled, “Jim” and a bright laugh in reply. Jim (and McCoy) would have been delighted to note the green flush on the Vulcan's face as he turned, making a mental note to avoid the Captain's quarters anytime in the near future.