Bones opened his eyes, and he lay under the shade of a tree. He could feel his long hair on the back of his neck, and he looked down at his clothes.
He wore a silk coat, waistcoat, and breeches the color of blood, with a red linen shirt underneath. The period dress was disconcerting enough, but the color scheme...he never wore red; he favored neutral colors and greens. Why would his subconscious put him in red?
Bones sat up to take a look at his surroundings. He sat on a blanket in a field of some kind, on a spring day judging from the temperature. A picnic basket sat to his left, still full as he and Jason had yet to partake.
“Finally awake, sweet heart?”
Bones looked up at Jason’s voice into the branches of the tree. His cheeks flushed at the sight of him, clad in royal purple, as he sat and took a bite out of an apple. He still didn’t understand why a dream could stir such feelings within him; he felt longing to be in his arms and even love. It was disturbing that he would feel so intensely for someone that wasn’t even real.
Speaking of reality... //Jim?//
Just as the previous nights, there was nothing but silence through the rapport. It probably meant that Jim was sound asleep. Well, it was just a dream. He’d go back to reality on the Enterprise when he woke. There was no reason to struggle or fight it; after all, a dream couldn’t hurt him.
“Yes, Jason, although I have a pain in my neck for the trouble,” he answered. Bones stood up from the ground, brushing some dust off his knees, and walked over to the tree. “You’ll break yours if you fall.”
Jason winked at him before handing a red apple down to him.
Bones quirked an eyebrow. “I’ll forego making the obvious Garden of Eden parallel,” he teased as he took the apple.
Jason laughed. “While I would say that our land could be considered Paradise, I did not tempt you into a fall from grace.” With that, Jason jumped down from the tree, landing right in front of him. “If my memory serves, it was you who tempted me.”
Jason had several inches on Bones, and he looked up into his violet eyes. Once more, he felt heat flood his cheeks at the memory of their first meeting back in England, and how he managed to charm Sir Jason into spending time at his manor home with him the next day. They had been inseparable ever since.
Except none of that had ever happened.
Jason smiled at him, taking his chin in his hand. “All this time, and I still make you flush like a schoolgirl...” He pressed his lips to Bones’ in an almost chaste kiss. It only took a second, but Bones (Leonard, he corrected himself, in these dreams he was Leonard) kissed him back ardently. Jason made a surprised laugh into the kiss before breaking it. “I daresay you hunger for something more than food.”
Leonard’s blush grew deeper. “I...forgive me. That was inappropriate.” He turned his back to Jason, as thoughts of Jim entered his mind. Although this time, they weren’t as strong; they were almost fleeting, in fact. Leonard cleared his throat and knelt down next to the picnic basket. “Tessa packed a light supper for us, as she’s making your favorite pudding for dessert. There’s ham, and...”
Leonard felt Jason’s hands on his shoulders. “I was not teasing you because your behavior was inappropriate,” he said, his voice soft with fondness. “There is no one around for miles, so propriety is the least of our concern. You simply took me by surprise, sweet heart, that’s all.”
Still blushing, Leonard nodded. “I still should not have reacted so.” Not just because it was the 18th century, and they were both men, but because of Jim, he thought with a guilty wince. Something about these dreams made him lose control, and every time he tried to regain his footing he lost it again. He couldn’t put his finger on what it was.
Perhaps it really was best to quit fighting.
“Who says?” Jason knelt down in front of him so they were eye-to-eye. “I say it was fine, and mine should be the only opinion that matters.”
“Society frowns upon...”
Jason placed two of his fingers against his lips. “I thought you were past those silly notions, but it seems I was mistaken. We do not follow society’s rules, Leonard, and we never have. We make our own rules. We follow our own morality. Society can play along, or it can move out of our way.”
It was not the first time Jason made such a speech. Leonard sighed. “No, I know, I...”
Jason shushed him. “You are the most powerful being I have ever known. Why should you be held down by society’s constraints? Why should you not be free to do what you want...to be what you want?”
Leonard smiled. “I am free, mostly due to you.”
“I would not have you any other way,” Jason said with a rakish grin. “Come, let us have our supper. We will have a caller this night, and we would be rude to keep him waiting.” Leonard handed him some ham and a piece of dark crusty bread.
“A caller?” Leonard raised an eyebrow as he slathered a slice of bread with butter. “Who...?”
With a chuckle, Leonard took a bite of his supper. “For a moment, I was afraid it was someone important.”
Jason laughed. “I daresay you’ll feel differently when you know the reason for his visit.”
Leonard paused. “Well, don’t keep me in suspense. You know I hate it when you do that.” Why did he know these things? Looking at the sparkle in those strangely colored eyes, he found it didn’t matter.
“He’s coming to make you a formal offer,” Jason said in a casual tone. “About a certain position at the Hellfire Club.”
“The...” Leonard’s eyes widened. “The Black King? Me?”
“That would be the one.” Jason himself was the Black Rook of the Lords Cardinal and club Inner Circle, with Shaw as the Chairman. Leonard lobbied for the position, but he didn’t think he would get it.
A bright smile formed on his face, and with all concerns about propriety forgotten, Leonard grabbed Jason and kissed him. The force of his embrace knocked Jason onto his back, and Leonard continued to kiss him breathless.
“I knew this would make you happy, sweet heart,” Jason whispered in his ear. “Soon, you and I shall rule the club together.”
“Oh yes, Jason,” he said as he kissed his jaw. “Yes...”
Bones opened his eyes to the darkened ceiling of his quarters on the Enterprise. Jim snuffled a little in his sleep, as he snuggled in closer to Bones’ heart. This dream was as vivid as the others, and once again he couldn’t reach Jim. That was odd, but probably not unheard of for a lucid dream. Something about it unsettled him, but he couldn’t put his finger on what it was.
He wrapped his arms more tightly around Jim. He loved him so much, but in these dreams...it was almost as if the reality was the dream, and the dream the reality. He never felt anything like it before.
Bones lay still, and his eyes began to drift closed. He was soon back asleep with a smile on his face.
He had returned to his dream of Wyngarde.
Jim entered his ready room, pausing to push a button in the panel along the wall. “I’m here, Uhura. Patch him through.”
Acknowledged, Captain. Stand by.
The view screen blinked to life, and Admiral Pike’s face smiled down at him. “Jim.”
“Admiral,” Jim said warmly. “I’m guessing this isn’t a social call.”
“Not this time, I’m afraid,” Pike answered. “We heard you got a message from an…unusual source.”
Jim blinked. “That quickly? I mean, I was all set to be like ‘I’ve got news’ with jazz hands.”
“We do only employ the best and brightest,” Pike said with a shrug. “You can still do the jazz hands, though, if it makes you feel better.”
The captain waved his hand. “The moment’s passed.”
“That’s a shame, I would have liked to have seen that.”
Jim grinned at him. “Some other time, then. But yeah, I just got a message fifteen minutes ago that’s origin is from E-616. Want me to open it and read it to you?”
Pike settled in his chair. “That should prove stimulating.” He pulled up a screen on a PADD. “Whenever you’re ready, Jim.”
“Right,” Jim said as he opened the message. He cleared his throat and read. “To our friend, James T. Kirk and crew, I cordially request the honor of your presence at our anniversary gala. I have much to discuss with you regarding the ending of a certain embargo on Starfleet personnel. A meeting has been arranged for Stardate 2260.7, with the gala itself taking place at 20:00 the following night. Details regarding the dress code have been attached to this message.
“I do hope your response will be in the affirmative, as I feel we have much to discuss.
Sincerely, Sebastian Shaw, Hellfire Club Chairman.” Jim furrowed his brows. “What’s the Hellfire Club, and why am I being invited to it? I mean, I think I vaguely know of them…some kind of stuffy rich boy club right?”
“More or less,” Pike said.
“So what do they want with me? I’m neither rich nor stuffy.”
“The Hellfire Club isn’t about money, Jim; some of the most powerful industrialists in the Federation are members. The club runs E-616, and for a hundred years now they’ve used their…resources to keep Starfleet away from their planet. It’s basically like Dubai, if Dubai were run by fascist autocrats. If you’re not considerably wealthy, you can generally forget about setting foot on it.”
“Right so…” Jim rubbed the back of his neck. “The hell do they want with me and my crew?”
“That’s what I don’t like about this,” Pike admitted. “It doesn’t make sense; if they want a Starfleet outpost near their precious society, there are other ways of getting one.”
Jim narrowed his eyes. “Yeah, but maybe they’re trying to get their feet wet before they dive off a cliff. I don’t know; my gut’s telling me something’s off about this, but I feel like we need to investigate because there’s an equal chance this Shaw is on the up and up.”
“I can agree to that,” Pike said. “If they have come around, then this is a big deal to Starfleet. Shaw’s an industrialist, as are some of his associates. He manufactures weapons tech that we could use.”
“I thought they didn’t talk to Starfleet,” Jim said.
Pike grinned. “They don’t. Doesn’t mean we don’t keep apprised of them.”
“Fair enough,” Jim said with a shrug. “I’ll RSVP with a yes and see what intel we can gather. It’ll only take us the rest of the day to get there; we’re pretty close right now. I’ll take Spock, Uhura, and Bones in the landing party; Uhura’s always perfect in these situations, Spock’s got a built in bullshit meter, and Bones has experience with hoity-toity clubs and establishments, plus his telepathy will come in handy.”
A different kind of thoughtful look passed over Pike’s features, and he leaned forward in his chair. “Well, I was trying to figure out how to ask, but since you brought him up…how is McCoy doing? I understand he…well, there’s no polite way to say it, whipped the Platonians asses.”
Jim didn’t like this line of questioning; mostly because he was unsure of how to answer. “He did beat Parmen at his own game, yeah. To be fair, if Parmen hadn’t wanted none, he shouldn’t have started none.”
Pike considered his words for a long moment. “Right. Well, he did freeze the ship in orbit, which is tantamount to a declaration of war. I can’t say I fault McCoy’s actions. Why not fight Parmen on his own terms?” Something about his tone made Jim think he wasn’t convinced. “Still, the brass and I have been discussing his case. I think they’d feel better if some tests were run, check what exactly his power levels are, that kind of thing.”
“I’m ahead of you,” Jim said. “Spock, Scotty, and Chekov have come up with a machine to track the levels of psychic energy he’s releasing. We plan on testing him today.”
“Well done,” Pike said with a smile. “Sounds good to me, and it’ll get them off my back.” He chuckled. “On that note, I’ll leave you to it so you can respond to Shaw. Keep me posted about any developments with the Hellfire Club and E-616.”
“Well, yeah,” Jim said with a grin. “I’m sure it’s nothing but an invite to a terminally boring party.”
Pike smirked. “You obviously don’t know much about the Hellfire Club if you think any party they throw is ‘boring.’” Pike looked down at his PADD, moved a few files, and then hit a button. “Here you go, all we’ve got on Hellfire. Happy reading, Jim, and good luck.”
Jim heard the alarm beep, signaling he had a message. He winked at Pike. “Thanks, Pike. Kirk out.” The view screen went black, leaving Jim alone in the room.
He pulled up the files on the Hellfire Club. There wasn’t much in terms of actual intelligence, but there were pictures. The club did indeed have a specific dress code, and Jim was confused by how old it was. It had to be late 18th century, possibly Revolution era. Except for the women.
The women wore just leather corsets and bikini bottoms with thigh-high boots.
How charmingly old school misogynistic.
He scrolled through the pictures. Lots of drinking, lots of gambling (probably entire companies with no respect for the workers, or even actual people themselves, Jim thought snidely), lots of...”champagne room” activities.
Not stuffy like he was imagining, but not really his thing either.
Well, it was worth investigating. Worst case he’d be bored, although something had the hackles raised on the back of his neck about this party. He had nothing concrete to explain it, though. He pulled up the invitation and began to formulate a response.
“Dear Mr. Shaw, my ship and I happen to be close to your planet. It is with pleasure that I inform you we will be in attendance, both of the meeting tomorrow and of your grand festivities the night following...”
Jim clapped him on the shoulder. “It’s just a simple test, Bones. We just want to see how you’re coping.” //And it’ll make Spock feel better.//
//Like I care about easing the Hobgoblin’s mind.// Bones thought, and his words came out sardonic. //You’re worried too, Jim, I can feel it.//
//I’m worried that this thing might fry your brain, not that you’re going to like...burn all of our minds out. Although...// Jim looked at Scotty. “You’re gonna keep this on low right?”
“If we haven’t tested it past ten percent, why would you think we’d blast it up to a hundred?” Scotty looked indignant at the mere suggestion, and Pavel nodded with a serious expression.
“Right.” Jim looked at Bones. “That’s as close to a ringing endorsement as you’re gonna get.”
“Fine,” Bones said. “Though I still don’t get why they’re---“ He pointed to Spock and Sulu, who stood by Chekov. “---here observing.”
Spock thought carefully before answering. “As First Officer the management of Enterprise personnel is of my utmost concern. Also as Science Officer, it behooves me to investigate all manner of cosmic phenomena, and that includes your association with the Phoenix.”
“Okay,” Jim said. It made sense. “What’re you here for, Sulu?”
Sulu opened his mouth before closing it; Spock took over. “I asked Mister Sulu to be here as an extra set of hands in case anything goes awry with the test. In case we need to get security, for example, should there be a fire.”
Bones narrowed his eyes a little. //He asked Sulu to be here, but not because of that. He asked him to be here because they’re both worried about me going off the reservation.//
//Well I don’t know why they wouldn’t just cop to that,// Jim sent back with annoyance. //They’re allowed to feel how they feel.//
Bones looked at Jim askance, his eyes barely glowing. //Do I tell them I know? Because Jim...I hate being lied to.// Sulu squirmed a little under his scrutiny; it was as if he could tell Bones was reading his mind.
There was an edge to his voice that made Jim pause. //What’s eating you? It’s just a test; do it, prove you’re fine, and we can all relax.//
“Fine,” Bones said out loud. “I have nothing to hide.” He took the seat and placed the Cerebro helmet over his head.
Jim smiled, although it was thin. “That’s the spirit.” He turned to Scotty. “How long will this take? I’ve got a meeting scheduled regarding this Hellfire Club business.”
“...The what club?” Jim felt Bones’ confusion and surprise through the rapport.
“The Hellfire Club. Why, have you heard of them?”
For some reason, Bones cast his eyes down at this. “You could say that.”
Jim quirked an eyebrow. //Care to elaborate?//
//I...// Bones cleared his throat. //I’m not sure I can, to be honest.//
Jim sensed he told the truth. //We’ll talk about it later.// He stepped back from the chair to stand next to Spock. “Ready, Bones?”
“As I’ll ever be,” Bones groused. Jim nodded to Scotty.
“Aye, we’re starting at two percent, just like we did with Spock,” Scotty said. He turned the power on, and everyone waited.
Again, Bones looked bored. //I can hear everyone on the ship.//
Jim’s jaw dropped. //Wait, really? They’re only at two percent.//
//This thing boosts brainwaves, and it’s boosting mine. I’m having a hard time shutting people out.// Bones closed his eyes in order to better concentrate. //It’s pretty annoying, actually. It’s like ten times the power I have just sitting around, and God, Jim, you would not believe what your crew is getting up to in the privacy of their own quarters.//
Jim blinked in alarm.
Scotty glanced up from the panel display he was watching to look at Bones. “How are you holding up, Doctor?”
“It’s like having a crowd of soccer hooligans in my head, how do you think I’m holding up?”
“So just fine, then, since you’re capable of snarking at me,” Scotty remarked with a grin. “Ready to go up to four percent?”
“Sure. Why not?”
Scotty increased the power, and Jim got hit with noise coming through the rapport. He put his fingers up to his temple; it really was like having a shouting crowd in your head. //Bones? Are you...?//
//Not on purpose, it’s bleeding through. Give me just a moment.// Sweat formed on Bones’ brow as he concentrated. The shouting died out. //There. Sorry.//
//No problem.// Jim dropped his hand. “Does it hurt, Bones?”
“Not...hurt,” Bones said, and his eyes were still closed. “More like...it’s a pressure. Like someone me giving a deep tissue massage but it’s closing in on my brain.”
Chekov nodded and made a note on his PADD. He looked up at Spock. “Did you feel that?”
Spock thought for a moment. “Towards the end, when the machine was at ten percent there was a type of pressure as I strained to keep the thoughts of others away from my consciousness. Moreso when I attempted to contact one person in particular.”
“That doesn’t cause me...problems,” Bones said. “This though...I’m hit with everyone at once. You guys are the loudest.” He licked his lips.
Scotty had a concerned expression on his face. “Should I proceed?”
“Yeah I can...” Bones gripped the arms of the chair. “I can take it.”
Sulu looked at Jim. “Is he okay?”
“The machine amplifies brainwaves, as well as psychic abilities,” Spock explained. “The doctor’s powers are already formidable, but they are being amplified in increments of ten as Mister Scott increases the power. I was...drained at ten percent, and my own abilities are considerably less than the Doctor’s. The strain of trying to keep his thoughts separate from ours must be arduous.”
Both Jim and Sulu frowned. “That sounds pretty bad.”
“He can handle it,” Jim said, though his voice was unsure. “He can handle it.”
The power was increased to six percent, and Jim felt a flash of pain through the rapport. The crowd noises came through it a second time. //Bones?//
//Sorry, Jim, I want to stop it but...// Bones strained under the pressure, Jim could feel it. //It’s like...I haven’t felt this kind of power since the M’Kraan crystal...//
“Maybe we should stop,” Sulu said. “He doesn’t look so good.”
Everyone stood watching Bones as sweat dripped down his face in earnest.
//No stopping, it’s now or not at all.// Bones exhaled. “Do it.”
Scotty increased to eight percent. The crowd noise became louder in Jim’s head as he gripped the edge of the table to steady himself. //Jesus Bones, is this what it feels like when you drop your guard?//
The crowd noise continued to grow, although it was unintelligible. Some of the thoughts weren’t even in a Federation language, or at least not in any that Jim recognized.
//Not just ship, planets...people...crowds...// Bones tried to explain. //All of it coming through, it just keeps coming through...not just thoughts, feelings, deep below the surface...below...like a white wave...//
Jim closed his eyes as he grew nauseous. Bones was pale, and his hands gripped the chair so hard his knuckles were white.
“Ten percent now, and we’ll hold it there,” Scotty announced. He adjusted the power accordingly
//Worry...they’re worried...even you...in love with Scotty...terrified...fascinated...pride...all the sins but pride...//
//Wait, what?// Jim opened his eyes and looked down at Bones. //Is that you?//
//Them...I...// “Hang on...thoughts...” Bones grit his teeth. “So many...can’t...” //Little bug people...all these little bugs crawling...crawling...bad smell in eyes...thoughts inside out...//
“He’s losing it!” Jim said. He stalked over to Bones, getting ready to yank the helmet off.
“No, don’t!” Scotty yelled. “If I don’t power it down gradually his whole mind could get wiped!”
“Then do it!” Jim ordered. He came around and knelt down in front of Bones. //Bones? Come on, Bones, answer me!//
Bones opened his eyes, and light streamed out of them as well as his mouth. //Too much...too much...Jim I can’t...I can’t feel you anymore...more...Phoenix...burning me out and up, up, up...all the...//
The power went down to eight percent, but the light continued to stream out of Bones’ eyes.
//Look at me.// Jim placed his hands on Bones’ thighs. //Come on Bones, look at me. Focus on my voice. You’ll be okay.// “Turn it off!”
“I’m trying, the controls won’t respond!” Scotty frantically pulled on the power switch.
Chekov gaped at the readings on his PADD. “His power is off the scales,” he shouted. “If we do not get him out, he will short out the system!”
“I don’t give a shit about your system, get him out before it kills him!” Jim stared at Bones. //Bones, you’ve got to come back to me. You need to control yourself. Focus on something, okay? Focus on me.//
//Burning away what doesn’t work...I have to burn away what doesn’t work...I have to---Jim?//
//Yes, Bones, that’s it. Focus on me. Think of us together somewhere, someplace soothing. Your uncle’s horse farm, we haven’t been there together yet. Think of us laying in the grass on your uncle’s farm.//
Sulu ran over behind the console to help Scotty pull the switch down. The tubes attached to the helmet smoked, as did the console. “It’s going to blow if we don’t turn it off!”
Light formed around Bones’ body. Jim didn’t flinch; he kept his focus on him. //Come on Bones, you can handle it. You can do it. You don’t need the Phoenix right now. Imagine a red box, can you do that?//
//R—red....was wearing red, like my dreams...red box...// Jim saw the image of a red box form in Bones’ mind.
//Good. Now put Phoenix in the box, Bones.//
//Put Phoenix in the box...I’m Phoenix...we’re one...//
//Put him in the box, Bones, just until you need him again. He can get out if you need him, put him in the box. You can do it, Bones, easy. I know you can; you can do anything.//
The light died around Bones bit by bit. He let go of the chair to hold Jim’s hands, squeezing them to the point of pain. Jim sent support and strength to him through the rapport.
//That’s it Bones.// The light stopped leaking out of Bones’ eyes and mouth. His eyes still glowed, but it was much better. //That’s it, put him in the box.//
A trail of flaming energy crossed the room to where Scotty, Sulu, and now Spock attempted to power down Cerebro. It pushed the control, which loosened. The button was moved gradually until the machine powered down.
The energy trail disappeared, and Bones’ eyes stopped glowing. His hair was plastered to his forehead with sweat, and he looked pale and shaken. //Jim?//
//I’m still here, babe.// He gave Bones’ fingers a gentle squeeze. //It’s okay. I think this machine just pushed you too far. It’s all right, Bones, you did great.// Jim let go of his hands and pulled the helmet off his head, throwing it onto the floor. “What the fuck was that?” he said to the four men at the console.
Sulu swallowed and looked at Bones with his eyes huge like saucers. Chekov and Scotty scrolled through their data, not even sparing Jim a glance.
Spock raised an eyebrow. “It would appear that Doctor McCoy was inadvertently pushed past the safe handling of his telepathic powers.” Spock had the look on his face that meant he was concerned. “I was not aware that his telepathy is so sensitive.”
“Well...” Scotty looked up from the data. “I mean, half the data is garbled because of the shorts, but if you want a conveniently packaged buzzword for him, I think ‘cosmic’ works.”
Everyone turned to look at Scotty except Bones, who sat shaking in the chair with his eyes closed.
“All right, so...” Scotty elaborated. “Ten percent of power on Cerebro is one hundred times the telepathic ability normally. So what’s a hundred times infinity?”
Sulu swallowed. “Is he really at infinite power levels?”
“Don’t know, with the data I’ve got I can’t say with any certainty.” The engineer pat the console. “Pavel and I will have to make some repairs and recover the rest of the data before we know for certain.”
“I will assist you,” Spock offered. “With three sets of hands, the repairs will go more quickly. I admit I am curious to see the results.”
“So am I,” Sulu mumbled. “How similar is this to a shuttle console?”
“In basics it is the same, in practice...not so much,” Chekov held a PADD that he tried to read some garbled data on. He slapped it once, and it cleared before reverting to its broken state.
“Right, what I’m asking is would it be useful for me to stay and help too?”
“Oh.” Chekov had the decency to look sheepish as he smiled at his roommate. “Yes, that would be good, Hikaru.”
“The four of you have it under control? Or do you need help?” Jim focused his attention back to Bones, who still trembled.
“I think we’ve got it, Captain,” Scotty answered as he unscrewed a panel. The wires inside it sparked and flared for a second. “Sulu, get a fire extinguisher, will you?”
“Sure.” Hikaru went over to the wall and grabbed the extinguisher.
“Good,” Jim said. “I’m taking him to medical. It looks like he’s gone into shock.”
“A logically sound decision,” Spock said as he inspected the now-exposed wires for damage.
Bones finally opened his eyes to meet Jim’s gaze. //Don’t need medical, just rest. Fine now.//
//Bullshit.// Jim positioned himself with one of Bones’ arms around his shoulders. //We’re going, and that’s that. I’ll order you if I have to.// He stood, pulling Bones with him. He wound his hand around his waist to hold him steady. //Ready?//
//Yeah.// Wow, Bones must have been feeling awful if he wasn’t arguing. Jim listened to him through the rapport, and the emotions he got from Bones were mostly worry, illness, and fatigue; Jim sent him concern and warmth.
//Don’t worry, Geoff will take a look at you, and you’ll be better in no time.// They made their way out of the engineering deck towards medical, and Jim frowned the whole way there.
Each time he used Emma’s machine to tap into McCoy’s mind, it became easier. He also fought it less as their bond grew closer. He was sure with one more “dream,” Leonard wouldn’t fight him at all.
Things were proceeding exactly as they should be.
And why not?
It was all very simple; he gave the doctor things he didn’t even know he wanted. He took the parts of him that yearned for something more and freed them, making them dominant in his mind. He took the rigid morality and ethics and tossed them away, leaving McCoy to be free to more...suggestions in how to use his powers.
Overwriting his distaste for killing would take some more doing, but Jason was certain he could do it with enough preparation.
Sebastian Shaw came into the lounge, with Tessa at his heels. “Wyngarde! Just the man I wanted to see.”
Jason looked up at him with a smirk. “Good afternoon, Shaw. I trust all is well.”
“You tell me,” Shaw said as he undid the button on his jacket and took his place at the desk. Tessa brought him several PADDs and a bottle of mineral water. He pulled some data up on a PADD and went to work.
Jason shrugged; so Shaw wanted a progress report. That was fine. “My subversion of Leonard McCoy is going smoothly. He doesn’t yet realize it, but he belongs to me in every way that matters.”
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” the Chairman said in a flat voice. “Thank you, Tessa.” His aide smiled at him before handing him a third PADD.
“Has the captain of the Enterprise accepted your invitation?”
“He has,” Shaw replied. “They’ll arrive tomorrow, and will be attending our anniversary gala. They are also none the wiser.”
Jason frowned. “Captain Kirk is the youngest captain in Starfleet history. Certainly he is suspicious of our sudden reconsideration of the ban on military personnel.”
Shaw looked up from his work then with a smile. “I doubt it. All those Starfleet captains are the same; they follow orders and play the role of the diplomat to avoid making waves. He has no doubts about our intentions, which is a pity for he and his crew.”
Jason shook his head. “As you said, I’ll believe it when I see it.”
The smile froze on Shaw’s face. “Are you questioning me?”
There was a pause as Wyngarde considered his next move. Shaw was the Chairman of the Inner Circle, and crossing him could prove to have severe consequences. Wyngarde himself was only a probationary member, and he was smart enough to know that his status hinged upon his seduction of the doctor.
Well, that was the easy part. His control over Leonard McCoy was absolute; he just didn’t know it yet. It would, however, be more prudent for him to lie low until he had his full membership in the Inner Circle.
No, it was not time to cross Shaw.
“I did not mean to sound skeptical,” Jason said, and the smile on Shaw’s face brightened. “If you believe that Kirk harbors no suspicions about us, then that is good enough for me.”
Shaw went back to his work. “Excellent.” He handed a PADD off to the side; Tessa took it as she brought him more mineral water. “I have work to continue doing, so unless we have more to discuss...”
“And here I was just thinking that a walk in the gardens would be invigorating,” Jason said as he stood. He smoothed his lapels. “I’ll see you for dinner then with Leland and the others?”
“Of course,” Shaw said. “Have a good rest of your day, Wyngarde.” Tessa nodded at him, although she did not smile, as he strode out of the Lounge and into the hall.
Once outside, Jason leaned against the door. He pulled a silver case from his jacket pocket and slid it open to grab a cigarette. After placing it in his mouth, he grabbed the matching silver lighter and lit it with a frustrated flourish. Shaw did not abide smoking in the lounge, but he could deal with him doing it in the hall.
As he exhaled, he scoffed.
Shaw was a blind fool if he thought that Captain Kirk would roll over and let them take his CMO out from under him. He would certainly retaliate in some capacity, if not outright get the permission to go to war. If his guess and the reports on McCoy were right, it wouldn’t matter. The doctor was certainly more powerful than a starship. The Enterprise --- and Kirk --- would be crushed before they even began.
Jason took a drag and turned his gaze back to the door behind him.
Perhaps the Enterprise would not be the only thing he could order McCoy to crush.
Shaw was the Chairman, and, indeed, it was an earned position. However, he talked to the other Inner Circle members as if they were nothing more than common underlings. He was a bit more respectful to Emma Frost, and he treated Tessa exceptionally well for reasons Jason could not understand, but to he, Leland, and Pierce, he was oppressive and boorish.
Admittedly, Pierce was an idiot and Leland a gluttonous lout, but even they did not deserve the open scorn Shaw showed them at times.
So, why not take advantage of Leonard McCoy being his? Why not use him to seize control of the Inner Circle for himself?
It would be difficult, and he would have to pick precisely the right moment, but he could do it. He just needed to wait for Shaw to push too hard; if he struck too early and missed, the results would be devastating or even fatal.
No, Jason would bide his time. He would complete his control over Leonard McCoy, and then when he would be given the opportunity, he would take the leash off his pet.
It would be fun to see how long Shaw would last.
Soon, he would be the most important person in Leonard’s life, and by proxy, the most powerful member of the Inner Circle. Controlling the Phoenix’s host was the key to controlling the Hellfire Club, and in turn E-616 and beyond.
“You went into neurogenic shock,” Jim said as he unfastened and removed his boots. “If the medical tricorder hadn’t picked up Phoenix’s healing you, you’d still be down in medical for the next twenty-four hours.” He got up and went to Bones’ chest of drawers. “Ole Miss or Starfleet Academy?”
//Ole Miss.// Bones said without hesitation. Jim grabbed the appropriate t-shirt and brought it over to him.
“Here, let’s get you out of those sweaty clothes.” He pulled Bones close to him as he pulled the wet tunic and undershirt off before pulling his college shirt down over his head. “Feel better?”
“Good.” Jim arranged the pillows so they were propped up. “Lay back.”
Bones did as he was told, and his eyes closed. Jim could feel his exhaustion through their bond, and it made his heart ache for him. After a minute, Bones opened his eyes again as Jim brushed his hair off his forehead.
//Blew it earlier.//
“Nah, it was pretty clearly the machine’s fault. Like Scotty said, what’s a hundred times infinity? We should have known something like that would happen.”
“He was probably just scared of what was happening to you.” Jim went to the replicator and got a glass of water. He brought it back into the bedroom and sat it on the nightstand. “Drink up, you need fluids, Phoenix or not.”
Bones took a sip of the water. //No. Terrified of me, not for me.//
“Really?” Jim sat on the bed next to Bones, fluffing his pillows behind him. He grabbed his PADD. “I don’t think you’ve done anything to warrant that kind of treatment.”
//Terrified of Phoenix and what it means. Terrified of what I could do, not what I have done.//
“You still haven’t done anything to deserve a fear so crippling it renders him immobile,” Jim said as he pushed Bones down so he could rest his head on his chest. “There, I’ll let you get settled and work around you.”
Bones rolled his eyes a little, but he did wrap his arms around Jim and snuggle in close. //Didn’t say it renders him immobile, just said scared.//
“Whatever,” Jim said as he shrugged his free shoulder. “You still have a headache?”
//Yeah; it’s at the base of my skull.//
“Well in a couple of hours you can have another hypo, Geoff said. I’ll give it to you then.”
Bones sighed. //Jim?//
//You don’t have to stay with me. I know you’ve got other things to do.//
Jim frowned. “I’m doing my work in the ready room, or I’m doing it here. This way I can make sure you actually follow Geoff’s instructions. Yeah, you heal super-fast now thanks to Phoenix, but I know you, and you’ll push yourself right back into sick bay.”
Bones didn’t say anything in reply; he just lay pressed against him. Jim grabbed his PADD and pulled up a requisition form. He glanced at his messages when he was reminded of something from before.
“What’d you mean earlier when you said you knew about the Hellfire Club but couldn’t explain why?”
There was a long silence, and Jim felt Bones’ reticence through the rapport.
“Well,” Bones said out loud, which made Jim put down the PADD. “I...and I was planning on telling you, I really was...but I’ve been having these...dreams.”
“Yeah, you mentioned you had a bad one the other night,” Jim said as he looked down at him. “Woke both of us up.”
“It wasn’t...so much that it was bad. Just...real. They’re...” Bones pushed himself off Jim so that he sat up. “They’re like those romance novels Uhura denies reading even though we’ve all caught her with them.”
“The historical ones?”
“Yeah. They take place in 1770, and I dress the part,” Bones explained with his eyes cast downward. There was something he didn’t say; Jim could feel a wall through the rapport.
That was strange; Bones was normally open with him. As he put it, they had total sharing and trust. “What else about them?”
Bones looked up then, and his eyes were sad and confused. “There’s a man. His name’s Jason Wyngarde, and he’s...we’re lovers, is the only way to put it.”
The wall dropped, and Jim saw the image of a handsome dark-haired man with striking eyes.
He was also knocked over by Bones’ guilt.
“I don’t want to have them,” Bones added. “I don’t even know why they’ve started, and every time one does I reach out to you through the rapport, but I don’t get an answer. It’s almost like something’s blocking us from communicating, but I can’t figure out how that would be possible. They’re so disorienting, though, and it’s like...the harder I try to be me and figure out what’s happening, the more confused I become.”
Jim looked at him as he let it all sink in. “And you think you’re cheating on me?”
Bones didn’t nod or move really, but the expression on his face said it all.
“Okay. Well.” Jim considered his words. “You’re not cheating, first of all.”
Jim held up a hand. “It’s not cheating, Bones. Yeah, I’m not thrilled about it, but it’s...” He looked off into the distance. “I mean, it’s not any different from you having the hots for a model or a porn star or even harboring a revenge sex fantasy about Jocelyn.”
Jim waved the hand he held up. “Whatever. The point is, it’s a fantasy, and they’re harmless. I know I’m the only one you’ve been with since we got together, and I know I’m the only one you will be with for the foreseeable future. You’d never in a million years actually cheat on me. So again, not the best news you could give me, but not the worst either.” He smiled at Bones before poking him in the ribs. “Stop flogging yourself, it’s fine.”
Bones sighed in relief. “You’re the best, Jim.”
“I sure am,” Jim said with a shrug. “Now come here and lay back down before you strain something.”
Rolling his eyes, Bones did as he was told. He pillowed his head on Jim’s chest, wrapping his arms around his waist. Jim smiled for a second.
“Wait, what does that have to do with the Hellfire Club?”
“Oh right,” Bones said as he closed his eyes. “In these dreams, I’m apparently a member, and their Black King...whatever that means. Ja...Wyngarde’s a member too.”
Jim sat up straighter with a concerned look on his face. “You’re a member?”
“Yeah. Haven’t actually seen it yet in the dreams, but apparently we go there a lot.”
Jim inhaled then exhaled loudly. “And you don’t think there’s something fishy about you dreaming about being part of a club that normally stays clear of Starfleet but suddenly is messaging us and inviting us to meet them?”
Bones blinked his eyes open. “What?”
“Pretty much.” Jim looked down at him in consternation. “I was going to have a meeting about it, but the afternoon got derailed pretty epically.”
“I don’t understand...they want us to meet them?”
“Supposedly they wish to talk to us about reconsidering their embargo on Starfleet personnel coming to their planet...but I don’t believe in coincidence. I already had a weird feeling about this business, but now that I know you’re dreaming about it something really doesn’t add up right.”
Bones sighed and closed his eyes again. “Maybe it’s a side-effect of the Phoenix force, the dreams I mean.”
Jim furrowed his brows. “What, like a precognition thing? That doesn’t make a lot of sense with them taking place centuries ago.”
“Not necessarily, but I mean....I don’t know how to explain it.” Bones burrowed in closer, and Jim could feel his doubt and frustration. //I don’t know, Jim. I don’t think it’s a coincidence, either, but I don’t know what it’s supposed to mean.//
“It’s okay,” Jim said as he rubbed a hand down his back. “I know, this whole thing doesn’t make sense. I was going to put you in the landing party tomorrow, but maybe I shouldn’t.”
Bones stiffened. //Because of my dreams? Jim...//
“Not just because of them, but because of how you’re feeling after the whole Cerebro thing. You probably shouldn’t be going to a formal meet and greet a day after going into shock.”
//It’s just a lunch meeting and then a party the day after. I’ll be fine.//
“How did you...oh.” Jim frowned. “I really should know better than to keep things from a mind reader.”
//I didn’t tap your mind, Jim, it’s bleeding through our rapport. You’re still not very good at hiding things you don’t want me to see.//
“I can do it, it just takes me a lot more concentration than you. It’s also why I actually talk more than you,” Jim huffed. //Fine, happy?//
Bones half-smiled. //Much better. Anyway, Jim I’d still like to go if I can. I kind of need to see this place for myself and try to figure this out. I think it might be the key to my dreams, and I’d like to learn as much as I can if that’s okay with you.//
Jim was quiet as he considered Bones’ words. On the one hand, something told him that Bones going wasn’t the best idea. He couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was, but the thought of Bones being in the Hellfire Club made him nervous and even a bit jealous.
The other hand, though, told him that Bones deserved some answers to his questions.
//Okay, you can still go if you take a nap right now, and I feel like when you wake up you’re actually feeling better.//
Bones harumphed. //Gee thanks, Dad.//
//Okay, there’s at least three reasons why you’re wrong for calling me your father. // Chuckling for a second, Bones settled as Jim picked up the PADD again. //Get some rest, Bones. I’ll be here when you wake.//
He felt Bones begin to drift off. //Okay. Love you.//
//Back at you.// He brushed warmth over Bones’ thoughts as he fell asleep, sort of like the mental equivalent of tucking him in.
He also tried to not let any insecurities get the better of him.
So Bones dreamed about some other guy. It wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t like he actually was fucking someone else.
It still hurt though, that instead of dreaming about him Bones’ subconscious conjured up some perfect other guy.
It didn’t really make any sense, because he knew Bones was happy. He could feel it; every time he looked at him, he could feel his heart jump through the rapport. They loved each other, even if Jim had a hard time saying the words out loud.
Maybe there was something missing for Bones that he didn’t realize.
Jim looked at Bones, who had fallen asleep. He was still pale from the shock, and his lashes were dark against his cheek. Bones really was a beautiful man, Jim thought, and anyone would be lucky to have him.
A guilty pang hit Jim in his chest.
He was lucky to have Bones’ love, but he couldn’t even acknowledge their relationship publicly. Sure, when they got together they agreed that while they felt things out, they would keep it quiet. Now his reasons for doing so seemed...
Well, they didn’t seem worth it anymore.
Bones pushed for the last six weeks for them to come clean with everyone, and Jim put him off every time. It was time for him to stop hiding; it was time to make a gesture to prove how he felt about Bones once and for all, not just to everyone on the ship, but to Bones himself. Short of making a memo, which seemed cold and impersonal, Jim wasn’t sure what he could really do.
Shaw’s message was open on his PADD and he reread it. As he did so, his eyes widened.
The Hellfire Club gala.
That was it!
He’d take Bones to the gala, not for business but as his date. It was so simple, and it would get the word out to everyone. It was elegant, and more importantly, it left no room for argument or rumor. Plus, then he could do things with Bones like dance with him or sit close. They wouldn’t have to pretend.
Yes, he’d ask him to be his date. It would make Bones happy enough that maybe he’d stop having those dreams. Congratulating himself on coming up with such a good plan, Jim smiled and went back to his paperwork.
The coach pulled up to the front door, and the footman opened the gate to let them out. Jason went down first, and held his hand up to assist Leonard. He took it with a grateful smile, and Jason steered them up the stairs into their home.
All was quiet except for a few candles flickering in the moon glow. Jason continued to steer him up the stairs to their bedchamber, and Leonard was all too happy to follow.
It had been a long day that began with a horseback ride across the manor’s lands, which was one of Leonard’s favorite leisure activities. Then Tessa injured herself by tripping over a rug, and Leonard had seen to her. He pronounced it unbroken, a simple sprain, and he put her to rest with it elevated. They ate an early dinner and then adjourned to the club where, in his inaugural night as Black King, Leonard managed to finally best Pierce at Lanterloo12 , winning the pot.
After the gambling was through, the men talked and drank until the late hours, when the hungry look in Jason’s eyes told Leonard it was time to go.
It was a good day, but a long one.
Jason opened the heavy doors, and their bedchambers were resplendent in the soft light of several dozen candles. The curtains were drawn, causing the room to be bathed in their warm light.
Leonard walked to his wardrobe, and shrugged off the embroidered black velvet coat he wore. He hung it up, and as he did so he felt a pair of hands caress his shoulders.
“I have been aching for you,” Jason’s voice purred in his ear.
Leonard smiled. “You always ache for me,” he said as he felt Jason’s hands begin to unfasten his matching black waistcoat. Jason chuckled.
“I wish it were not so, because sometimes you drive me to distraction,” Jason whispered as he opened the waistcoat and unbuttoned Leonard’s white linen shirt. He could feel the smirk on his lover’s lips. “More than sometimes. I must admit you have me completely under your spell.” Jason ran a hand down Leonard’s now exposed chest.
A fire burned low in Leonard’s stomach. “If you are under my spell,” he said with a half-smile, “then it would seem I am under yours as well.”
Jason reached a hand up and undid the silk ribbon tying Leonard’s hair back. He discarded it on the floor, running his fingers through his chestnut locks. Leonard closed his eyes and leaned his head back on to Jason’s shoulder as he muttered his approval. Jason held him in his arms as he steered them towards the bed; Leonard let himself be pulled backwards, a full smile now on his features.
When Jason stopped moving, he turned in his arms to face him. He looked up into his blue eyes.
No, that was wrong. Jason had violet eyes, the most stunning and unique color Leonard had ever seen.
The face before him was familiar, but it wasn’t Jason. The hair was blond and short, almost spikey, but definitely unfashionable. There was a bright grin on the man’s face, a teasing and playful smile that filled Leonard’s heart to see. He reached out to touch the man’s face.
You look happy the man, and Leonard wanted to call him Jim for some reason, said. I guess I just have that effect on you.
“I...” The words caught in Leonard’s throat. “I love you, darlin’.”
Back at you, Bones, the man said with a wink. It made Leonard step back away from him in...he wasn’t sure why, he felt the sudden need to get some distance.
“Everything all right, sweet heart?”
Just like that, he was gone. Jason stood before him with a worried frown.
“I...yes, Jason,” he said. “I’m so sorry, for a minute there...it was as if you were someone else...”
Jason reached out and took his face in his hands. “You’ve been having these spells lately. Are you certain you wouldn’t rather see a doctor?”
“I am a doctor,” Leonard replied, causing Jason to chuckle.
“You are the finest doctor in the colonies,” Jason reassured him. “If you are certain it is nothing, then let us not allow it to spoil our night, shall we?”
“No, you are right, it was...a momentary lapse. Nothing more.” He pressed a kiss to Jason’s jaw. “As always, Sir Jason, I am yours, body and soul.”
He didn’t see the light that flared in Jason’s eyes, nor the smirk that formed on his face. “You are, sweet heart, you’re mine and mine alone.” With that, Jason claimed his lips, and Leonard returned the kiss.
Although...something in the back of his mind told him this was wrong. It was as if he was with the wrong person. Again his mind filled with an image of the blond man, his blue eyes twinkling with mischief.
But...that was ridiculous, because he belonged with Jason Wyngarde.
“I...we...” He was dizzy and confused. Something wasn’t right, but at the same time...it felt the way it should. “We shouldn’t...”
Jason pushed him down onto the bed, and Leonard kicked off his shoes. Jason made short work of undressing himself, and Leonard finished removing all his clothes. They were both naked, and as always, Leonard found his breath was taken away by Jason’s looks. It felt like it was the first time they laid together all over again.
Leonard hoped that feeling would never disappear.
Jason pressed his body into his and kissed him. He kissed him back, bringing his hands up to his hair. Jason’s hands wandered, stroking his chest and lower until one hand circled his length. Leonard gasped in pleasure, jerking his hips up into his hand. He began to stroke, and Leonard uttered a husky approval.
He wanted this.
He always wanted this, only this...just he and Jason, bound together.