For Jim, one of the absolute perks of being a Starship Captain, other than having this amazing ship and its crew under his command, was something as simple as having one of the few real water showers aboard the ship at his private disposal. Sonics did the job, more quickly and less messily than an ordinary water shower, but there was just something to the feeling of hot water pounding down on him, loosening sore muscles even as it washed away the dirt.
On the one hand, Jim didn't particularly care for having luxuries his crew didn't have just because he was the Captain, but on a purely selfish level, the shower was one thing Jim wasn't willing to give up.
Jim stood under the spray until his daily water allotment ran out, then he toweled himself off and shrugged into a loose pair of sweatpants and an old and worn t-shirt. After the humid and steamed-up air in the bathroom, the living area seemed almost cold, and he shivered a little as he padded over towards the sofa on bare feet.
Bones had come off shift earlier than Jim, and he was already seated on the sofa, legs up on the sofa table in front of him, feet crossed at the ankles. There was a PADD in his hands – there seemingly always was, though Jim was sure that nobody could read that many medical journals. One day, he vowed, he was going to find out the dirty little secrets Bones' was hiding on that PADD. It was going to be a challenge, a feat worthy of a champion of stealth and deception, but Jim had the sneaking suspicion that it was going to be worth it.
Bones barely looked up as Jim dropped onto the couch beside him. Or at least he pretended not to pay attention, but Jim could clearly see the way Bones was looking at him from the corner of his eyes. If they ever wanted to make a good spy out of him, they'd have to work on the subtleties. Then again, Jim was pretty content with Bones being the awesome doctor he was, so maybe turning him into a spy was pretty low on the to-do list. Besides, he quite enjoyed the fact that Bones thought he was being subtle while Jim could read him like an open book.
"It's cold out here."
Bones made a grunting sound in the back of his throat, eyes leaving his PADD for a short moment to look Jim up and down. "Probably because you're wearing only half as many clothes as you should. Socks might be a good start." His eyes traveled higher up on Jim's body, lingering on his crotch for a moment. "Underwear, too. I hear it's really an underappreciated part of what's considered decent apparel."
Jim felt a smile creep onto his face. "But you have to admit, it eases access considerably."
Bones swatted at Jim's head, but since his eyes were focused on his PADD again, his fingers barely brushed Jim's hair.
"Christine made it painfully clear that I'd better not dare to come on shift again until last month's paperwork is taken care of. So whatever plans you made that require you to go commando, they're going to have to wait until I'm done here."
"You are aware, of course, that technically you're Nurse Chapel's superior officer, right?"
Bones raised his eyebrow, and Jim had to fight down the urge to just lean over and kiss and nibble at the other man's forehead until the lines smoothed out again.
"The operative word here being technically. I'm not stupid enough to get on her bad side, because without her, running this Medical Bay would be twice as hard, and trust me when I say that some of the careless morons that Starfleet calls Engineers already don't make it easy. If doing my paperwork keeps me on her good side, it's a small price to pay."
Jim sighed – with a little notion of suffering added just to test the strength of Bones' resolve – but then he surrendered to the fact that Bones was serious about this. Still, even as he picked up his own PADD and called up the crew rosters he still needed to check and sign off on, he could imagine different – and much more pleasant – ways to spend this evening.
It was comfortable, though, just being with Bones like this, in easy silence. If there was one thing he loved about being with Bones, then it was that they could have these moments, just comfortable in each other's presence, time during which neither of them had to play any roles but they could just be themselves. He didn't have to be anybody when he was around the other man, he could be just Jim. It still surprised him, and maybe humbled him a little, that it was enough for Bones, that Bones wanted him, this, them without any further expectations.
To be honest, Jim had never before been in a relationship where he didn't have to care about keeping up any façades, and there were still moments when he couldn't quite believe that he didn't have to do more to keep Bones content than just be there.
Jim curled up on the opposite end of the couch, his feet on the seat and his knees pulled up slightly, PADD balanced against his legs as he worked through the duty roster. There were a few adjustments he had to make, then he signed off on the roster and sent it off to Spock's PADD for implementing. That done, he went through a couple of reports he hadn't gotten around to reading during his shift earlier. He signed off on those that were all right, and sent those two that needed a little more detail to pass Starfleet's scrutiny back to the departments with a few notes on the adjustments he wanted.
It was a pleasant way to get some work done, and Jim could have continued like this for a little longer to get more work out of the way for the next day, but whatever comfortable feelings he had experienced upon curling up on the couch were quickly evaporating.
He was cold.
Especially his feet were getting cold, no matter how much he pressed them into the seat of the sofa in search of some warmth from the fabric. He could get up and go grab a pair of socks, of course, but that would mean admitting that Bones had been right earlier on. If Bones thought that Jim admitted he was right, he was going to be smug about it. Once Bones got smug he stayed smug, and that meant snide comments at Jim's expense. He'd rather spare himself that if at all possible.
Besides, it was not that cold. Just a little cold, and probably only because he had spent so much time under the hot shower. It was still nowhere near Delta Vega levels, so Jim could hold out until a more surreptitious moment to grab some socks would present itself.
Besides, he was sharing a sofa with Leonard H. McCoy, also known as the human furnace. Jim didn't know how his lover did it, but Bones was always warm. He never got cold feet or even – just the thought! – cold hands. Apparently, to him being a surgeon implied training his extremities to always be properly circulated and immune to outward changes in climate. After all, one could never know when he'd have to perform emergency surgery in the middle of a frozen wasteland. Or…well, or something.
How Bones managed to retain these absurd levels of body heat, Jim had no idea, but it was a fact that by the time Bones said that he was feeling cold, most other people were already fighting first degree hypothermia.
And Bones was sitting at just the right distance, his left thigh lifted slightly because he had lazily slung his left foot over the right one on the couch table. If Jim could just slide his feet against Bones' thigh, maybe press his toes underneath it, he was sure that Bones' warmth was going to chase away all feeling of cold.
Slowly, so as not to draw attention to what he was doing, Jim slid his bare feet across the seat of the sofa, toes aimed straight for Bones' thigh. He engaged all his tactical genius, never losing sight of his goal while keeping his eyes to the screen of his PADD so as to not draw attention to what his feet were doing. Occasionally he paused, just slightly, so that his movement would not catch Bones' eye.
It was good tactical practice, a way to hone his skills at stealth approaches.
He nearly made it, too. The most dangerous moment was the moment of first contact, when his bare toes nudged against Bones' pants-clad thigh. There was no reaction to the first gentle bump, and Jim grew a little more bold, flattening his toes against the seat of the sofa as much as he could as he increased the pressure in his legs, carefully sliding his toes under Bones' thigh…
A hand settled on his feet out of nowhere, the sudden contact of warm skin on his cold feet enough to startle him and force a sharp intake of breath out of him. It wasn't a gasp, and Jim would make sure that anybody who said otherwise made a quick acquaintance with the Brig.
"Cold feet?" Bones asked, eyes still on the PADD he was holding with his right hand. There was a definite note of smugness in his voice. "I told you socks might be a good idea."
Jim made a small sound in the back of his throat – not a yelp, definitely not – as Bones' hand shifted and gently cupped his left foot.
"Socks are in the drawer in the bedroom, and that's too far away. And the floor is cold."
Bones' eyebrow arched towards his hairline again, but his voice remained flat, as if his sole focus of attention was the display of the PADD in front of him. "That's too bad, of course."
"It is," Jim agreed. "Almost tragic."
Bones nodded. "No fate I would wish upon my worst enemy. Cold feet and no way to get to a proper pair of socks without getting them even colder. It'd be almost…negligent of me to ignore that condition."
Jim was fairly sure that Bones wasn't offering to go and get Jim a pair of socks, if only on principle alone. Bones wasn't the kind of man to indulge people who suffered because of their own stupidity, especially not after he had given them an explicit warning.
"It would," Jim agreed. "As CMO, it is your primary duty to ensure your Captain's wellbeing, after all."
He couldn't see clearly from this angle, but Jim was fairly sure that a smile was tugging at the corners of Bones' mouth. With a gentle grip around Jim's ankles, he lifted first one, then the other foot into his lap. His own PADD forgotten for the moment, he cupped Jim's left foot in between both his palms. Jim barely suppressed a moan as Bones' warmth seeped into his skin.
"Damn it, Jim, your feet are icy! Do you want to catch something?"
Jim snorted. "Yeah, like the infamous cold-feet flu bug. My grandmother warned me about that one. Ouch!"
Jim drew his leg back reflexively as Bones pinched the arch of his foot. But even after he drew back one foot, Bones simply cupped the other one in his hands and started to knead it between his two large palms.
"Guess I have to make sure you don't cool out then. Wouldn't want to have to explain to your grandmother that I allowed you to get sick."
The warm hands felt wonderful against his cold feet, and Jim's skin started tingling in a very comfortable way wherever Bones' fingers pressed into it. Warmth was seeping back into him with every touch, and Jim let his head fall back against the cushion, giving up all attempts of stealth and the pretense to be focused on his PADD as he enjoyed the ministrations.
Bones had magic hands, there was no other explanation. It couldn't just be the manual skill and dexterity of a surgeon with which he manipulated Jim's feet, rubbing warmth back into them with every touch. It was almost a tease, the way he pressed his thumbs into the soles of Jim's feet, exerting pressure until Jim arched his back, then ran his fingers softly over back of Jim's feet, from his arches to his toes, gently brushing all of his ticklish spots as his thumbs worked magic on the pressure points of Jim's sole.
Jim was already arching back into the sofa like a cat who was getting its belly rubbed by the time Bones gently put one foot back into his lap and picked up the other, patiently going over the same ministrations he had bestowed upon the first foot.
It was a mixture between a foot massage and offering his services as a living heat-pack, and Jim closed his eyes and hummed softly in appreciation as he let the sensations wash over him. He only opened his eyes – and even then only with extreme hesitance – when the soft kneading motion against his feet stopped and Bones simply held his feet between his hands, trapping the warmth he had rubbed back into them with his own skin.
Lazily, Jim cracked open one eye-lid. "Bones?"
Jim hummed in appreciation. "I'm forever in your debt."
Bones chuckled lowly. "I'll keep that in mind."
"Actually," Jim drawled out as inspiration struck – and though he'd never admit to it, his drawl is absolutely no match for Bones'. "Actually, I'm still a little cold."
The eyebrow went up again. "Really now?"
Jim nodded, forcing his face into what he hoped was an expression worthy of evoking Bones' pity for him. "Really. Very cold, as a matter of fact."
Bones slowly started to slide his hand up Jim's leg, fingers sneaking under the loose sweatpants until his fingertips reached Jim's knee.
"Then we really need to do something about that."
Jim smiled and leaned forward until he could reach for Bones' shoulders so that he could pull him down on the sofa with him. It was a tight fit, the sofa wasn't made to hold two grown men at once, but after a bit of shifting around they ended up lying face to face. Jim was pressed into the back of the sofa, and Leonard was lying half atop of him, one thigh pressed between Jim's legs. For a moment, Jim was tempted to make more of that friction, to rub himself against Bones' leg and turn this into something sexual, but it passed as quickly as it had come. He was far too comfortable right now.
Bones shifted in his arms, until Jim wrapped an arm around his back and pulled him flush against himself.
"'m gonna squash you," Bones mumbled, his face buried against Jim's shoulder.
"Nonsense." He pulled the other man even closer, so that they were lying face to face, with their noses brushing against one another. "I'm comfortable. And you're warm."
"Right, you were cold." Jim felt Bones' hands run over his torso until they reached the hem of the threadbare t-shirt he had put on earlier. Jim wasn't really all that cold, but still Bones' hands were pleasantly warm as they reached underneath the fabric and ran over his sides to splay across his back. Jim shifted, wriggling until he was lying comfortably on Bones' arm. The movement brought them even closer together, but in all honesty, Jim wasn't going to complain about that.
In the dim light of the room, Bones' eyes appeared to be a mossy green rather than the hazel Jim knew they really were. He blinked, unable to keep the smile from his face as he brought up his hand and ran his fingertips lightly over Bones' cheek.
Bones smiled back, his eyes lighting up in silent amusement.
"Hey yourself. Still cold?"
Jim shook his head, breaking eye-contact to nuzzle his face into the juncture where Bones' neck met his shoulder. Like him, Bones was out of uniform, and the top buttons of his shirt were undone. Jim pressed his nose against the exposed skin and shifted the shirt out of the way to get closer. There was just something about that spot that drew Jim to it. The skin was soft there, below the stubble, and it was always one of the warmest spots on Bones' body, one that was practically made for nuzzling into.
On the list of his favorite spots on Bones' body, that juncture of neck and shoulder just above his collarbone ranked pretty high. Sixth place on a scale that was subject to change, depending on mood. Sometimes, it went up as far as fourth place. In moments like this, it was right on top of the list. And no matter what time of day it was, no matter if Bones had just rolled out of bed, stepped out of the shower, or come off a double shift, it was always the place that smelled purely like Bones.
If that spot were a house, or hell, even a one-room apartment, Jim would move in immediately. As it was, the only thing he could do was to seize these moments whenever he could.
Almost automatically, Jim's own hands found their way underneath Bones' shirt, not to tease or to stroke, but simply for the feeling of skin underneath his fingers.
"No. Not cold anymore."
Bones smiled and brushed a light kiss on the top of Jim's head, his fingers drawing random lazy patterns against Jim's skin.
Jim shook his head against Bones' skin, unwilling to part from his favorite spot just yet.
"Nah. Tenuous and boring, lots of flying through empty space."
Bones laughed, a low rumbling that Jim could feel where he was pressed up against the other man. "Not every day aboard a starship can be about danger and excitement, Jim. In fact, I appreciate the occasional day or two during which I don't have to treat any phaser burns or other battle marks."
Jim pressed a kiss against the skin of Bones' throat, before he reluctantly withdrew and brought his head up so that he could look into Bones' eyes again.
"We should reach Dalak Prime in three days. Depending on how the peace negotiations go, and how much the Dalans are even willing to negotiate, that peace and quiet might be a thing of the past pretty soon."
Bones' arms tightened around him, an almost imperceptible movement that Jim himself wouldn't have noticed if they hadn't been entwined this closely. What was impossible to miss, though, was the way Bones' eyes darkened at the mention of the upcoming negotiations.
"Not tonight, Jim. Just…just not tonight. Let's think about that when the time comes, if we have to think about it at all."
Jim nodded, withdrawing one hand from underneath Bones' shirt to trace the frown line that had appeared on Bones' forehead.
He pressed a kiss to the other man's lips because honestly, it was impossible to be this close to those lips and not want to kiss them.
"No more serious talking."
Bones kissed him right back, a slight smile on his face. "You know, we could take this to the bedroom. In case you're warmed up enough to move, of course. I heard the floor is rather cold."
Jim shook his head, his fingers shifting from Bones' forehead to his hair, fascinated by the way some single strands kept falling into his eyes no matter how much he tried to smooth them away.
"Nah. 'm too comfortable."
And he was. He could lie like that for the entire night, marveling at how Bones' body and his fit together, as if they had been made for this. It might be the confined space of the sofa that was probably not even half as wide as their bed was, but Jim wanted more. He wanted to get even closer, to the point where he could no longer tell where exactly he ended and Bones began.
Bones' hands were still moving gently over the skin of his back, tracing random patterns against it. If there was any purpose to his movements, any hidden message to what he was drawing, it was lost on Jim, but there was something incredibly soothing about the touch. His eyes were getting heavier, and it would be so comfortable to just let them drop close and fall asleep right here, surrounded by Bones' touch and smell.
"Bridge to Captain Kirk."
"Oh, damn it!"
Bones chuckled as Jim disentangled himself just enough to hit the comm button on the console beside the sofa.
"Kirk here. This better be important, Spock."
He sank back down on the sofa, but Bones had shifted along with him and he could no longer find the incredibly comfortable position he had just vacated. Just great. It had taken a lot of work to wriggle into this position, and now he had to do it all over again. And Spock better not be comming to call him to the Bridge. He was comfortable here, damn it.
Letting his head drop onto Bones' chest, he waited for the Vulcan's response.
"Captain, our sensors detected that we'll be passing a class IV nebula on our way to Dalak Prime. The Stellar Cartography Department is inquiring if there is the possibility to stop for some in depth scans of the phenomenon."
Jim wanted to hit his head against a hard surface, repeatedly, but while Bones' chest definitely qualified as a hard surface, Jim didn't think he was going to appreciate the bruises.
"How long do they think that's going to take?"
"Between four and five standard hours, Captain."
"And is this going to delay our arrival on Dalak Prime in any way?"
There was a second's pause, and Jim thought hat maybe that had something to do with the increasing snark in his voice.
"If we continue our journey to Dalak Prime at warp 5.8 or higher, there should be no delay at all."
"Well, great. Tell them to go for it, then. And Spock?"
"No more disturbances, please. Not unless the ship is on fire. I'm busy."
Even after all the time he had served amongst humans, Spock still hadn't quite mastered the art of taking a damn hint.
"Since you're off duty, I'm assuming you're about to finish the reports to Starfleet Command that are due. I've been meaning to talk to…"
"I'm cuddling, Commander. That takes a lot of focus. So no more disturbances. Kirk out."
Jim leaned over and blindly smacked his hand into the direction of the comm button. A soft bleep from the computer told him that the connection had been severed, and he sank back into the sofa with a sigh, starting to rearrange himself in between the cushions and Bones' arms. Bones shifted to make space for him, chuckling as he did so.
"Did you just announce to the entire Bridge crew that we're cuddling?"
Jim shrugged, busy working his hands back under Bones' shirt.
"Guess I did." He blinked his eyes open, looking right into Bones'. "That a problem?"
Bones shrugged, and for some reason Jim was relieved at the nonchalant reaction. "As long as you don't make an announcement in Medical. If Chapel pegs me for a cuddler, it's going to ruin my reputation. She's going to…I don't know, want to talk about feelings or something, or show me pictures of puppies and kittens instead of cowering in fear."
Jim snorted, nuzzling into Bones' shirt again in search of that favorite spot against his lover's neck.
"Hate to break it to you Bones, but Chapel is hardly cowering in fear."
Bones harrumphed. "Of course she's not. But leave me to my illusions once in a while, would you? It's by far better than thinking of her imagining me as some sort of sensitive, emphatic person who'll burst into tears at the sight of a rainbow. I'd much rather she keeps her current opinion of me. You on the other hand, just totally ruined your reputation."
Jim couldn't really believe that, but there was a mischievous undertone to Bones' voice now.
"I'm sure it won't be that bad."
Bones laughed, and the sound vibrated pleasantly through Jim's skin as he finally found his favorite spot – and really, they should just rename it 'Jim's Spot' and be done with it – and nuzzled against it.
"Of course not. Uhura is going to be completely convinced that you're a soft-hearted appreciator of the sensitive things in life. Probably she's going to come to your for relationship advice now…"
Jim snorted. "Sure, as if that's ever going to happen."
"Chekov is going to come to you for hugs whenever he's lonely…"
"Personally, I think he'd much rather go to Sulu for that, you know?"
"And Sulu," Bones continued, as if he hadn't been listening to Jim at all, "is going to go easy on you in fencing practice, because you're a sensitive guy and not a fighter…"
"That's enough, Bones."
Bones just laughed. "Of course Spock is simply going to be confused. I bet he's still standing there, staring at the communications console, looking for all the world like you just said the most irrational thing. Probably he'll eventually mumble something like 'fascinating', go back to work and pretend it never happened."
He nudged Jim's chin until Jim lifted his face form his favorite spot – a real pity, that – and looked him in the eye. Up this close, Jim could see the small rings of different colors that made up that unique hazel of Bones' eyes.
"In any case, your reputation as a hardass is completely ruined now. You'll forever be branded the cuddler."
"Shut up," Jim swatted at Bones' arm, punching it half-heartedly before he settled back down.
"I'm an awesome Captain. The crew knows that. And now no more talking." He shuffled back into a comfortable position against Bones' chest. "Less talking, more cuddling."
Bones laughed, a sound from deep in his belly. "We could make that the ship's official motto. Maybe get Scotty paint it on the hull. On the sides of the nacelles, maybe. I bet the Admiralty would love that."
Jim couldn't help but laugh along. "It would be in the spirit of all this peacekeeping we're supposed to do, it's not like they could disagree with that."
"Captain James T. Kirk. Saving the universe with cuddles, one hug at a time."
Jim figured the best way to make Bones shut up was to kiss him.
It turned out he was right.