It's just past midnight in the Bay Area when McCoy gets the ping. He's still awake, much to his chagrin, and tis the season to just gesture at his comm without much thought.
At first, he hears nothing, just a scuffling noise like the sound input being covered, then the muffled, bored tones of a voice he doesn't recognize, saying something about his husband being on the line. The screen stays blank, just audio, and McCoy glances at the ID of the originating source, unsurprised when it shows only the law enforcement block code.
"He's not my spouse," he hears the dulcet tones of Jim Kirk holler, presumably at a retreating person's back. "He's my CMO."
"Not right now, I’m not," McCoy retorts.
"Right. Right now, we're all on leave, so you're a teacher in San-Fran-Sis-Co." Kirk draws out the syllables, like drunk people do. "Professor, I mean."
"Feels like kindergarten some days."
"So, pretty much what you're used to."
"Exactly. Now, care to tell me why you're calling me?"
"I may have done a thing."
"Are you bleeding?"
There's a pause, and some more noises, as Kirk checks himself out. "Negative."
"Well, thank heaven for small mercies, as my grandmother would say."
"I did a thing and I'm not at all sorry," Jim replies.
McCoy decides, honestly, not to ask. He merely comments, "That White Horse Complex is going to kill you, you know."
"Someday, yeah, but not today. Not here, on— Where am I?"
McCoy sighs, and pokes at his comm for a minute. Handy to be in a position to have access to Jim's records, including the misdemeanor arrest that's mere hours old. "Albion."
"Okay, why am I on— Wait, Albion? Are you making that up?"
"I'm in a place named after the Arthurian legend?"
The thread of delight in his voice is nearly charming. "Yes."
McCoy chuckles. "Well, considering it's in Nebraska…"
"Oh." Jim fwumps back onto the bench. "That's good. I only packed so many clothes."
"And by 'so many' you mean 'none', I’m assuming."
"You assume correctly, sir."
"Jim," Bones chides. He still doesn't like it when Jim doesn't respect rank.
Jim sighs gustily. "You're the highest ranking officer of my heart, Bones."
McCoy pinches the bridge of his nose. "I bet you say that to all the CMOs."
"Only when they come to bail me out."
There's a beat.
"You are coming to bail me out…right?"
"You're closer to your mom. She on-planet?"
"Not for another two years, but you're first on the list and I don't get another phone call. This Albion place is a rough town."
"You said it was Earth. You could get here by tomorrow."
"Jim, it's Christmas Eve."
Jim sits up, suddenly sober and very, very awake; the wee holding cell seems to snap into place around him. "Oh. Man. Sorry. I— Sorry, I didn't even think about it."
McCoy's chuckle is wry even across the crappy connection. "I figured."
"And you probably have plans."
Jim shakes his head. At himself. "Okay, then, I'll figure something out."
"It's fine. I think the deputy likes me. I tell funny jokes, you know."
Kirk pauses. "Yeah?"
"Could you put the officer back on the line?"
"Bones, I said—"
"Shut up and do as I ask."
Jim huffs, and doesn't obey at first, rebelling against the idea of calling in yet another favor McCoy doesn't really owe him. At all.
McCoy's voice rumbles over the line in answer to the question Kirk didn't ask, making him blink. "This is what people do for each other, Jim. Now either put the god damn deputy on the line or get the nearest beaming coordinates yourself."
Jim presses his lips together, but the smile comes anyways. He's kinda glad there isn't a visual connection. "I'll have them sent to your suite."
"Fine," McCoy grumbles. "I'll be there as soon as I can."
"Thanks, Bones," Jim says, and he means it, but McCoy just scoffs.
"Yeah, whatever. You owe me a drink."
He's there a little over an hour later, brushing snow off his shoulders as he walks through the front door of the tiny station.
"You're killin me, Jim. Couldn't you have done this somewhere it's not negative a million degrees outside?"
"I don't think that's a real temperature," Jim says, grinning, as he stands. He takes in McCoy's winter wear and pinked cheeks as they approach the bars of the cell from opposite sides. "You're a sight for sore eyes."
"Pickings must've been slim, then," McCoy replies as he looks around for the deputy. "They leave you here alone?"
As if on cue, there's a whoosh of a utilitarian toilet cycling. "Ah," McCoy responds. "Good to know there's at least one thing here that isn't from three centuries ago."
"Well, now, I'm only 56," the deputy says drolly as she enters the room. She comes straight up to them and offers a hand. "I'm Deputy Ruby. And the hand's clean, I promise," she adds with a raised eyebrow. McCoy can't help but chuckle.
"I'm Leonard McCoy," he says, shaking her hand, "and I'm here to get this one out of your hair, if you don't mind."
She shrugs, then reaches down to press her thumb against the lockpad. "Only other thing I've got keeping me company is re-runs, but I suppose I'll allow it."
There's a whirring, like the lock and/or door aren't quite used to being called upon twice in one night, but eventually the cell slides open and Jim saunters out, clapping McCoy on the shoulder immediately. "My hero, right?"
McCoy just rolls his eyes. "Where do I sign?"
It takes twenty minutes longer than McCoy'd hoped it'd take, but considering he'd been hoping it would take about four and a half, that's not saying much.
Finally, though, they're saying their surprisingly heartfelt goodbyes. Trust Jim to have made best friends with the jailkeep.
She even asks Kirk for an autograph. She says it's for her kid, but her badge doesn't show her first name and McCoy think she looks a little too excited.
He's surprised, then, when she turns to him, the pen held out and an expectant look on her face. "What? Me?"
Deputy Ruby nods. "She loves all of you, the whole crew. Thinks you're the best thing since Wonder Woman."
"Auspicious company," McCoy says absently as he signs the thing. He's pretty terrible at being a pseudo-celebrity, and that's one thing he enjoys about being stuck in a tin can hurtling through space for years at a time – the shine fades rather quickly.
"Hell, yeah, it is," Jim chimes in.
McCoy nods at the deputy while pulling his right glove back on. "Thank you, ma'am."
She nods back. "You're welcome, Doctor."
Jim, because he's Jim, honest to God hugs her, like she's his favourite aunt. "Merry Christmas, Eleanor," he says. "And tell your kid that Wonder Woman is way cooler than we are, no matter what Dr McCoy says."
"I wasn't being facetious," McCoy says once they're outside. The snow is dusty, the kind that makes really terrible snow balls but is very picturesque.
"When?" Jim asks, his brow a little furrowed.
"Wonder Woman is auspicious company."
Jim grins at him. "I know. I've seen your comic book PADD."
McCoy purses his lips, and then changes the subject with the subtlety of a Vulcan making a knock-knock joke. "The vehicle's round the back," he says with a thumb over his shoulder, but Jim is looking at him, an expression on his face McCoy can't quite decipher.
McCoy sighs. He's used to Jim's tangents. Byproduct of genius, he supposes. "Just what it is, kid?"
Jim shakes his head. "You're the White Horse, you know."
"Why am I sensing a 'riding' joke in there somewhere?"
Jim smirks, but it's brief. "I mean it. Knights are the strange pieces, with their L-shaped moves. They come outta nowhere sometimes."
"I never do that. I'm the most predictable person possible."
"And that, in itself," Jim insists, "is not something anyone predicts."
"Now you're just arguing semantics to annoy me."
"To annoy just after you've literally bailed me out? That would be extremely illogical."
McCoy scowls. "Can we just get out of here before you quote any more Vulcan at me?"
Jim's eyes twinkle as he shrugs congenially. "Who can say?"
There are four vehicles in the lot: two dark government vehicles that have clearly been there a while, the deputy's marked SUV that hasn't, and a motorcycle.
The bike's got a nice new dusting of snow on it, but Kirk can still ken the make and model. Utilitarian, last year's line, rental tags.
He blinks the snow out of his eyelashes.
"Let me get this started and heated up," McCoy grouses, spelunking a hand into an unfamiliar-winter-clothing pocket, clearly in search of the fob.
"Yeah?" McCoy doesn't look up, even when Kirk moves closer to him.
"You rented a motorcycle?"
McCoy shrugs, and the snow sifting through the parking lot lights can't cover up the flush creeping up his cheeks. He's still looking anywhere but at Kirk, his capable fingers curled around the found fob. "It was the last thing they had."
Jim wants to laugh. McCoy is lying like a cheap rug.
Instead, he feels it light him up, the affection that bursts through him at that moment. He pauses, fighting his instincts with reasonable thinking, like he's been taught, like he's been honing since he got on that shuttle that beat-up morning.
Then he thinks, To hell with it, and reaches out.
Kirk's hand is bare and cold as it closes around the fob, and, in turn, McCoy's hand.
McCoy finally looks up, meets his eyes. "Jim, what—"
"Just— Shut up a minute," Jim murmurs, leaning in and pressing their lips together.
McCoy is perfectly still for one solid moment. Then his hand turns to clasp Jim's and his lips press back. It's cold yet warm at the same time and the juxtoposition makes Jim a little dizzy.
Kirk pulls back and huffs in a breath, laughing at himself a little, trying to rein it in.
McCoy catches his gaze, searches it. His hand doesn't let go of Jim's, and the new shade of affection in his expression is cautious but—miraculously—there. "What was that for?"
And Jim has no answer but the truth. "Just felt like the time."
McCoy gives him an eyebrow. "In a jail parking lot in the middle of nowhere?"
Kirk shrugs. "You came and got me on Christmas Eve, even though you had plans with—" He stops. "Who'd you have plans with, again?"
A corner of McCoy's mouth threatens to turn up; his eyes are full of closely-guarded affection and Kirk lets himself revel in it. "Does it matter?"
Jim searches his face, thinks about it for half a second, then shakes his head. "No. No, it doesn't."
"Good." McCoy leans in and Kirk finds himself kissed quite thoroughly. His arms find their way around McCoy's torso, and he feels McCoy palm the back of his neck under the collar of his jacket.
"And besides," McCoy murmurs after he breaks the kiss, still close enough that Kirk can feel warm breath on his cheek even as it poofs out into the cold night air, "Joanna can get ahold of me here just as well as there."
Jim pulls back a little and looks at him in surprise. "You want to stay?"
McCoy makes a show of looking around. "It's nice," he says dryly. "We have three days until classes start again, then a long three months to survive until the ship is ready. And I've never been to Nebraska before."
Jim chuckles. One of his hands is maybe trying to burrow under McCoy's jacket for warmth. "There's not much to do here," he says.
McCoy raises an eyebrow. This time in an entirely different manner. Then he pulls Kirk closer.
Jim feels himself start to heat up in a very particular way. "I mean. Okay. Wow." He licks his lips. "Yes. We could do that. A lot of that." He leans in and slides his tongue into McCoy's mouth with a new kind of intent. The heat swirls between them as the snow swirls around them, and it's just about perfect.
"But," he says into McCoy's skin after breaking the kiss reluctantly, "probably not for three days straight."
McCoy leans their foreheads together with a snort. "No, I suppose not." He pulls back, and looks at Jim's face, considering. He seems to come to a decision, and untangles them enough to swipe his thumb over the bike's fob.
It roars to life, and although it's not a fancy model it still brings another thrum to Kirk's already heightened pulse.
Then McCoy throws him a lazy smile, and he's done for. He has force himself to focus when McCoy starts talking. "Well…"
McCoy shrugs, but there's a wicked smirk on his face. "We could go to a bar, find some people we don’t like, and beat the crap out of them.”
Jim's grin lights up the universe, he's pretty damn sure it's that high of a wattage. "Best. Christmas. Ever." He leans in, kisses McCoy soundly, then reaches for one of the helmets.