So there’s this tradition in Starfleet when a cadet graduates.
When you step off the stage after accepting your degree, you’re supposed to slip your cadet dogtags off your neck and give them to the person who helped you graduate, who got you through it.
Most, predictably, give it to their moms. Some, their dads, who served themselves. Usually, their significant others.
Jim’s mom couldn’t make it. And well, everyone knows why his dad wasn’t there (a fact the admirals keep wanting him to cash in on–they even asked him to make a speech at graduation. Pike told them where to stick it.)
Anyway, they graduate the Bridge Crew of the Enterprise first–the ones who hadn’t. It’s mostly ceremonial recognition but Jim’s glad for it. He’s not usually nervous on stage–although large crowds have made him anxious since he was thirteen–but it’s hot and his ribs still burn and he’s so damn tired. He hasn’t slept since, well, before his hearing. And that was only a few weeks ago. Fuck.
But before it, he’s walking across the stage, shaking hands with the brass, and getting pinned–Captain’s pin–and smiling. Somehow, after everything, he’s smiling.
Awkwardly, as he’s jogging down the steps, Starfleet uniform cap pinned at his side, hand scrabbling under his collar for the dogtags as he’s walking a few aisles away from his own seat.
“Hey hot shot, your seat’s over there,” Bones tells him–but he’s grinning toward the place where Pike and the other Captains are waiting.
“Bones-” Jim’s got a good grip on the chain even though he’s fucking hands are sweaty.
Maybe it’s a stupid fucking idea. Bones didn’t give his tags to anyone. And why would he? Besides a little girl in Georgia, there was no one else.
Before he can think too much about it, he tugs it off, holding it in front of him.
“Aw, kid.” Bones whispers.
And before Jim can about face or apologize or take back the sentimental gesture, Bones takes his fist out of his pocket, knuckles white, and loosens his grip, giving way to a palm indented by the punched out metal lettering: Leonard H. McCoy, Starfleet Cadet, ID: 116592213
“No one else I would have given them to.”
Somewhere, someone hoots–probably Cupcake, maybe Uhura and then Bones is pulling Jim closer, fingers lightly grazing his jaw, the back of his neck, gripping into his hair.
The kiss is a surprise–Jim’s mouth is dry, his lips are chapped, but it feels so damn right and maybe Jim’s cheek flushes, and maybe Chris Pike laughs out loud but it’s worth it. Definitely worth it.