McCoy didn't understand why Kirk rescued Pike, of all men, from the Narada, even urging the doctor to save the captain's life. At least not until Kirk deliberately kept him from the emergency surgery Pike would need to get back on his feet.
"Not yet," Kirk said and held his arm. McCoy thought of all the times when he had to heal wounds caused by Pike's brutality, and it wasn't a chore to wait another hour.
Of course, he hadn't been much better back then, too much enjoying the power he'd held over the boy. Today, the former boy was a man and would be able to kill him any second. Sometimes McCoy wondered why Kirk didn't do it.
"Not yet," Kirk said once more an hour later, and McCoy once again turned in the door, pretending some equipment malfunction.
"You're an idiot, McCoy," Pike pressed out when they were finally face to face, right before the hypo could knock him out. "One day, he'll take his revenge on you like he does on me."
"Maybe he will," McCoy agreed. "Maybe he won't." Then he sedated him. The surgery took four hours and still left Pike paralyzed from the neck downwards.
"There are things worse than dying," McCoy said to Kirk once the acting captain stood at his side, hovering over the sleeping patient.
"There are things worse than living," Kirk replied, a scary light in his eyes as he gazed at Pike. "Even when it was living with you," he added, turning his head to face McCoy.
McCoy swallowed hard but held the young man's gaze. "What now?" he asked and expected a lot of things, including a phaser shot to his chest, so he almost jerked away when Kirk caught his hand.
"I thought we could celebrate our unexpected career advancements," Kirk said, almost gently rubbing McCoy's fingers. "We could even invite Spock and Uhura."
"You are crazy," McCoy said, meaning it. But he didn't say the idea was crazy, because the cunning kid had definitely managed to turn the tables on them all over the last year. Today, Kirk was the boss, and sure enough in his position to invite the demons of his past for a dance to his own tune.
"Let's go," Kirk said, and McCoy followed him.