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Time and Tide

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He and Bones were supposed to have dinner. Jim was supposed to order meatloaf or a cheeseburger or maybe a rare steak out of the replicator, and Bones was supposed to bitch at him about eating something healthy. Jim would have stolen a tomato from Bones’s salad and chewed it with his mouth open. Bones would have roll his eyes and called him an infant, and then he would have pushed his plate towards the middle of the table and they’d share the rest of his salad. And then, after their perfectly adequate replicated dinner, they were supposed to have perfectly fantastic sex in Jim’s bed.

Jim was supposed to run his hands down Bones’s flanks, press his lips to Bones’s sweaty neck when Bones gasped Jim’s name as he came. They were supposed to lie panting and sated together, heartbeats racing then slowing. And then Jim was supposed follow Bones into the shower when he finally had the strength to get out of bed, so that they could do it all over again under the spray of six weeks' worth of water rations Jim had been saving up.

That was a month ago. Instead, they never got to that dinner. A distress call came in from a civilian ship in the quadrant, all hands reported to their stations, and Jim hadn’t seen Bones since.

He was beginning to think the universe was conspiring against him.

The distress call had actually turned out to be a simple fix: an offer of spare parts, help with the repair, and some diplomatic words to ease tensions between crew and passengers. The next day, they were back on mission target, orbiting a class M planet, with an away team which included Bones beaming down. Spock headed up the team while Jim stayed on board, because it really was a science-oriented mission and Jim still had to write up his report on the distress call.

Everything went fine, except there was some piece of medical equipment that the USS Gettysburg was supposed to have dropped off before the Enterprise got there, but the other ship was running behind schedule.  The Enterprise was on a tight schedule of its own to meet with a dignitary on yet another class M planet, so Bones stayed behind to wait for the other ship and help them set up the equipment.

Jim wasn’t happy about it, even though he knew Spock’s logic was sound that Bones was the best person to stay and handle the equipment set-up and education. Still, he figured it would be fine, just a slight blip: the Enterprise would rendezvous with the Gettysburg at Starbase Six before the end of the week, and Jim would see Bones’s familiar frown as he materialized on the transporter pad.

What Jim hadn’t realized, what he hadn’t accounted for, was that Admiral Kaschak was in temporary command of the Gettysburg. And everyone knew that Admiral Kaschak was the biggest hypochondriac in the Fleet.

The CMO of the Gettysburg, Dr. Rojas, was a competent, accomplished doctor in her own right. But Kaschak wanted Bones as his personal physician for this temporary posting, and poached him from right under Jim’s nose. Jim had been fending offer transfer requests for Bones from higher ups practically since he took command of the Enterprise and chose his crew. Those requests had subsided with his persistence, Bones’s stubbornness, and an ally on the Admiralty Board in Pike. But the reality was that admirals in acting captain positions usually got what they wanted, and nothing Jim could say would dissuade him.

“It’s only for a few weeks, Kirk.” Kaschak had said at the end of a very unproductive video conference. And that was that.

The Enterprise was down her CMO, and Jim was down his best friend.

It wasn’t like he was alone. He had Spock to play chess with, and Scotty to drink with, and no shortage of security officers to spar with.  He brushed up on his Romulan with Uhura and had Sulu give him fencing lessons. But it wasn’t the same. There was no Bones hovering at his shoulder at random times on the bridge when medbay was slow; no Bones pestering him about the cut on his arm when he lunged when he should have parried; no Bones brushing his knuckles along his pulse point, raising shivers up Jim’s spine; no Bones scowling at him across the table of his ready room during weekly staff meetings (M’Benga was so strictly business, it threw Jim off all meeting the first week); no Bones pressed into the mattress beneath him.

And it wasn’t as if Jim always got to spend a lot of time with Bones, before. On an average day, Bones might spend just a few moments on the bridge, bringing a PADD up for Jim to sign an approval for a lab test that he could have more easily sent electronically. Or a few minutes laying in bed together, if one of them spent the night, waiting until the last possible minute to get up and not be late for work.

So it had been a month since Jim had seen Bones (and probably another week before that since they’d really had a moment to themselves). Today was finally the day, the day Bones was coming back. Jim had been tracking the progress of the Gettysburg, watching now as it came into range on the view screen, and Jim wanted to be down in the transporter room when Bones beamed on board. Wanted to grab him and haul him off somewhere private, propriety be damned, and get reacquainted with him. Jim was practically buzzing with need by that point.

He’d just gotten out of his chair, the order for Spock to take over the conn nearly out of his mouth, when Lieutenant Joshi, the engineering officer on the bridge, said, “Sir, there seems to be an issue with the impulse engines.”

Jim diverted course, came to stand behind Joshi at her station, which was lit up like a Christmas tree. Seconds later, Scotty’s voice came over the comm. “Engineering to bridge.”

“Yeah, Scotty, we’re looking at it now. Any ideas?”

“Err, we’re trouble shooting, sir. Energy output keeps fluctuating and the stabilizers are working overtime.”

Spock was hovering behind him at the engineer’s console -- his slightly raised eyebrow more than enough to tell Jim that Spock thought that this could be serious. The ship felt normal beneath his feet, which was a good sign, but the rapidly blinking lights and the tightness in Scotty’s voice was concerning.

With another glance at the Gettysburg, now looming large in the view screen, Jim put on his most captainly voice and told Scotty, “I’m on my way down. Your bridge, Mr. Spock.”

It took hours, but Scotty, Jim, and the engineering team finally determined what was wrong, and then spent even longer fixing it. By the time the impulse engines were humming like they should and the indicator lights had all gone back to normal, it was well into gamma shift. Jim headed to his quarters, despondent, wondering what was going to keep him and Bones apart tomorrow. He paused momentarily in front of Bones’s door, regarding it forlornly, and then thought better of it and continued on to his own quarters.

But when the he keyed in his code and the door slid open, Bones was there, in Jim’s overstuffed chair, head thrown back and snoring, glass of something amber in hand, tipped at a precarious angle, the liquid inside dangerously close to the rim. Jim wanted to climb into his lap, kiss him awake, but he figured Bones was just as tired as him and, well, at least he knew -- or could hope -- he’d still be there in the morning, so instead he just gingerly took the glass out of his hand. That caused Bones to stir. “Jim?” he asked, voice thick with sleep.

“Yeah. Hey, come to bed,” Jim said, gently tugging at him.

“Mmm, in a minute,” Bones rumbled, and then he was pulling Jim down on top of him. Jim went willingly. “Missed you.” said Bones, pressing a kiss to Jim’s sternum; a coursing warmth flowed through Jim.

He cradled Bones’s head in his hands, tipping it back to kiss Bones properly. “Missed you, too.”

Jim settled himself more fully into Bones’s lap, scratched his fingertips into Bones’s hair like he knew he liked, reveled in Bones’s arms circling around his waist and holding him close. Jim was going in for another kiss when Bones let out a tremendous yawn, and Jim diverted, laughing into his shoulder instead. “They let you sleep at all, over there?”

“Dear god, Jim, the things that man came up with. Have you ever heard of a-- well, no I shouldn’t say anything, physician-patient privilege and all. But let’s just say I have never administered so many placebos in my life.”

Bones was working himself up to a rant now. Jim placed a hand over Bones’s heart, smiled against his temple. He really, really missed Bone's ranting. Nearly as much as the sex. Speaking of which --

“Come on, Bones,” he said, grabbing Bones by the hand and guiding him towards the bedroom. “I have an idea how you can forget the Admiral.”