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Nothing But His Fish Bones

Chapter Text

Jamie Kirk never thought she'd meet a merman. And he certainly was not at all like she would have thought a merman would be, even if she had dreamed of seeing one.

She was strolling along the water one evening, angry and despondent. Life, it seemed, had decided to chew her up and spit her out. Her mother couldn't stand her, her former best friend had betrayed her, and she had been kicked out of yet another bar. She was contemplating the water, wondering if life below was any better.

"I wonder if the fish have as many troubles as we do," she said to herself. "It certainly seems like it's be more peaceful down there."

"It ain't all it's cracked up to be. Believe me. I know."

A grumpy male voice spoke out of nowhere, startling Jamie. She whirled round, looking for the intruder.

"Who are you? Where are you?", she yelled in a panic, not seeing anyone behind her.

"Over here. In the water," came the voice.

She looked and sure enough, reclining on the beach under the pier was a man. Strangely, he was lying halfway in the water, so she could only see his head and bare torso. Odd. He must be crazy. This wasn't swimming weather.

"Dude, you're going to get hypothermia if you lounge around in freezing water all day."

She strolled over to get a closer look and the man backed away.

"Hey, easy there, I'm just a concerned citizen. It's not every day you see a man just hanging out in cold water like this."

"Your concern is appreciated, ma'am, but since I live in the ocean, I'm built for these temps."

The man pulled father out of the water, and Jamie gasped when instead of legs, a shimmery green-gold tail emerged. Her eyes followed the fine feathery fins up the scaled body, then the tan muscular chest and strong shoulders, topped off by a head of brown hair and hazel eyes that were looking at her with amusement. He was certainly gifted with dimples as the smirk he gave her revealed. Wow.

"I take it you haven't seen a merman before?" He drawled.

Oh that voice did things to her. She shivered slightly.

"No. I've heard of sightings, but never saw one myself. We mainly hear of the females of your species."

He rolled his eyes and sighed. "That's because the human men can't keep their mouths shut and have to go blathering on whenever they see one. Mermen don't hang around people much. Don't get along well. Too busy fighting off enemies. Or each other. And it's my job to patch them up when they come back with a busted tail or spear wound."

"So you're a Mer doctor?", Jamie asked curiously.

She hadn't heard of one, but it was only logical that they would have medics like humans did. There she went, thinking like Spock, again. She blocked the bitter memory before it could resurface.

"Yep." He answered proudly, but wearily. "You'd be surprised what goes on under the surface. It sounds enticing, but really it's a treacherous place. The ocean is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence. But what's a pretty thing like you doing all alone out here?"

"I don't fit in anywhere, I guess," Jamie sighed. "When you're dad was a famous hero, and you're just a disappointment, it's hard to make many real friends. Everybody I meet just wants to get me in bed, or get my autograph."

"Then they're all idiots," declared the merman. He held out his hand. "Leonard McCoy."

Jamie smiled and shook it, noting the slick feel of webbing between his fingers. "Jamie Kirk. Pleased to meet you."

He caught her staring at his tail again and she turned pink.

"Exotic, ain't It?", sighed Leonard, looking at it in annoyance as he flopped the end back into the water. "A nice plain ole brown color would be much more me. I'm not the flashy type at all."

"But it matches your eyes," blurted Jamie before she could stop herself.

He did the eye roll again. "That's what my ex used to say, before she found someone even more flashy and left me with nothing but a pile of fish bones."

"Then she's an idiot," returned Jamie, echoing his earlier statement.

They smiled at each other and Jamie liked the merman's grin. There went those dimples again.

"If more people knew about mermen, you'd be getting hit on right and left. I know I'm sorely tempted," Jamie said flirtatiously, shamelessly admiring him.

"Coming from you, I might actually put up with it."

The Merman folded his arms over his chest, which made his biceps look huge. Jamie gulped at the sight. Boy it was hard to keep her hands to herself.

At this interesting moment, Leonard suddenly tensed. "I've gotta go. Getting a distress call. Will you come back sometime? I'd like to chat again. You're a very interesting human." His quirked his eyebrow at her.

"I'd like that." Jamie said, smiling.

"See you again sometime, then," said Leonard. And with a wave, he flipped into the water and was gone. Jamie stood there for a while, not so lonely anymore.

"Bye, Bones", she whispered to the waves.

Chapter Text

Jamie haunted the shoreline the next few days hoping for another glimpse of the merman. It was four days before she saw him again, lazing under the pier. He seemed to be in a bad mood, judging by the scowl on his face.

"Why the long face, Bones?", she called to him.

"That's not my name," he grunted, clearly sulking.

"It is now. You told me you had nothing but a pile of fish bones and I thought it fit." She gave him an impish sass face. "Now tell me what's wrong."

"What's wrong," he griped, rolling into his back and staring at the sky, "is annoying little Russian mers thinking they're invincible and getting impaled while going against one of the most dangerous poachers on the planet. Kid just about died."

Jamie really wanted to feel if those abs were as firm as they looked, but she continued on with the questions.

"I take it that's why you were delayed so long? Making sure he'd survive?"

"Yeah." Leonard sighed wearily. "It was rough. Nero's a ruthless brute and won't hesitate to kill or enslave any Mer he can. Chekov's lucky he got away." Bones shook his head.

"Do you run into this Nero a lot?" inquired Jamie, hoping he wasn't risking his life every day.

"No, the Mer population is wise to him by now and most of us avoid the places he trolls. My friend Chekov got a bit riled up when his friend got wounded in a trap attempt and decided to confront the man. Didn't end well. I fixed him up and gave him a lecture on stupid suicidal revenge plans. He'll be okay."

Jamie giggled a bit at the thought of Bones' grumpy doctoring.

"So, you ready to share why you were ready to fling yourself into the sea the other night?"he asked, swishing his tail in the water.

Oh, goodness, that was hot. She swallowed nervously. Getting Attracted to a merman was not a good idea, but she really needed to spill her story to someone and she felt he would understand.

"Up until eight months ago, I had a great life: a position at the Enterprise law firm and a really smart Vulcan boyfriend. Then I bent the rules to try to protect him from this jerk who wanted to totally destroy his reputation. He reported it, I was found out and fired. We had a huge fight and broke up. I couldn't believe he did that to me, but he's a Vulcan and can't lie, I guess."

She pulled the hair tie out and let her long blonde hair fall around her shoulders. It was a habit she had when nervous and she didn't notice the way the merman gaped at the sight.

It was McCoy's turn to feel the flutter of heat, but he shoved those thoughts away as she continued speaking.

"After drifting around awhile, I hit a job as a clerk at a department store. It's not what I want, but it's a job." She sighed. "I was starting to get my footing again, and then the day I met you, I had an encounter with Spock and his new girlfriend when they came into the store. He pretended he'd never met me. It was humiliating. After work, I went out, got drunk and ended up kicked out of the bar. I took a walk by the water and there you were."

Sitting in the sand beside the prone merman, she felt a hand squeeze hers sympathetically.

"Thats rough, Jamie. Ex encounters drove me to the good stuff, too. It ain't fun, that's for sure."

He pulled himself upright and sat beside her. She couldn't help herself and leaned on his broad shoulder. They sat together until the sun went down.

Chapter Text

Deep below the surface of the ocean, a group of merpeople lounged around in a bed of sea grass. They were a diverse group, rejected by other pods and adopted by each other.

Montgomery Scott, was from Scotland and claimed to be personally acquainted with the Loch Ness Monster.

"Such a misnomer, that is. Nessie wouldn't hurt a flea!" he often proclaimed.

Scotty, as he was known, loved to tinker with old shipwrecks and other human junk, trying to make new things out of it. His attempts were very mixed, but amused his friends greatly.

Hikaru Sulu was from a Japanese pod originally and was highly skilled with a sword. He fought hard to ban the practice of swordfish fighting, a popular custom among young mermen that was downright cruel to the poor fish. If they wanted to fight, he believed, they could come learn how to use an actual blade. Right now, he was laid up with his friend Chekov, his tail still healing from the trap incident.

Pavel Chekov was well loved by everybody. Coming from the frigid Russian waters, he was very hardy and boastful of his home country, as well as unusually intelligent. He was very loyal and would fight fiercely if one of his friends was hurt. This was a good trait to have, but it also resulted in his near death at the hands of Nero, whom he blamed for Sulu's injury.

Gaila was the result of a mermaid fling with an Orion. Sadly, she was shunned by her mother's people because of her green skin. But she had such a happy, fun-loving personality, she was quickly welcomed into the little group and made herself a part of them. She liked to hang out with Scotty or go racing through the waves with the Dolphins. She could speak their language fluently and was often seen doing ecstatic leaps on the surface. Being seen by humans was the least of her worries.

Christine Chapel was a quiet mermaid with a fair complexion and, being a nurse, was Leonard's assistant. Not having originally been a Mer, she had no pod to return to when her mate died. So Leonard and company had taken her in and offered support and shoulders to cry on.

At this moment, they were gathered around watching Leonard and Christine tend to Chekov's still healing wounds.

"So, Leonard, I heard you've been seen hanging out with a pretty human," Gaila teased, enjoying her attempts to provoke the doctor.

Scotty sat up, silver tail swishing in excitement. "Ooh, Leonard, how exciting! Tell us about her!"

The whole pod perked up. Leonard groaned. They'd never give him any peace now. Stupid Dolphins were such gossips. He should have known they'd tell on him. Even Christine was looking expectantly at him.

"Spill it, Leonard," she ordered.

He sighed and rolled his eyes. "Okay, so I met a human who needed a friend. We've talked a few times. What's the big deal?"

"The big deal, Leonard, is that you haven't been known to seek out female company, since THAT PERSON let alone a human female. If you've gone back more than once, there's got to be interest."

Christine stared him down and Leonard gave up. Nobody could resist the Chapel.

"Okay, I've met an undeniably pretty blue-eyed human named Jamie. She's a lawyer down on her luck and was taking a stroll one night by the sea. We met, we flirted, we made friends. That's all that's happened."

He hoped he sounded convincing. He still remembered the way she leaned on him, not caring if her shirt got a little damp. And that gorgeous hair......he wanted to run his fingers through it so badly.

Judging by the smirk on Sulu's face, his friends could read his thoughts.

"Can we meet her, Len, please?" Gaila begged, clasping her hands together beseechingly.

"In time, Gaila," he smiled at her, "she's still getting used to one Mer. If you all showed up at once, that might be a bit much. I'll brag you up to her, so she'll be curious."

They were pacified for the moment but when he swam out, heading for the pier to meet Jamie, Scotty's voice was heard shouting after him, "Say hi to the pretty lass for us, Len!!"

Jamie was waiting for him when he arrived at their spot, looking prettier than ever in a yellow blouse and cropped pants. She put down the book she was reading and waved as he reached shore. "How ya doing, Bones?" she called with a happy smile. The very blue eyes were shining at him, drawing him closer.

"Not too shabby," he panted, flopping down beside her to catch his breath. It was a three mile swim and he wasn't as young as he used to be.

"What you reading?", he asked after a minute, and he had his breath back.

"A Study Of Mer Culture And History," Jamie answered brightly, holding up the book. "I thought it might be helpful."

"That's one of the more accurate ones, written by a former Mer. Good choice."

Jamie felt warm at his approval. "It's really sad, how poorly they've been treated, but really interesting. I hope I'll meet more of your kind, if they're as nice as you."

Her soft voice did him in again. "Aw, shucks, Jamie. You're gonna get me all red here."

"That's my goal," she teased, playfully poking one very firm bicep. "I hope this Archer guy explains how he became human. I thought that was only a myth."

"Nope," said Bones, shaking his head, "not a myth. And it goes both ways. My nurse, Christine, was a human before she bonded with a Mer. Turned her into one."

"Really? Was she happy?" Jamie asked, astonished.

"Yes she was, but it doesn't often end up that way." Bones looked sad as he spoke. "Human-Mer flings where neither party stops to think about the consequences before giving a bonding kiss end often up in misery and resentment from the person who got changed and believe me, I don't want to cause you any unhappiness, goodness knows you've had plenty of that. Read chapter nine very carefully before you get too attached." He looked at her very seriously.

Bonding. Same words Spock had mentioned. The bitter taste from his rejection had Jamie slowing her fantasies. Bones was right. They needed to be very careful and thoughtful with this. The last thing she needed was another failed relationship and broken heart. She forced a smile and changed the subject.

"Tell me about your pod, Bones. I hear Mer groups are pretty tight."

He got a fond look on his face. "We're a unique group because we basically were rejects from our family pods who decided to adopt each other and start a new group."

He told them about each of his "family" one by one, describing their unique traits in a way that had Jamie laughing out loud and wanting to meet them, too.

"Since I'm interested in expanding my knowledge of Mer culture, why don't you bring some of them along next time?", Jamie suggested, "that is, if they're okay with me."

Bones grinned. "Oh, they're dying to meet you already. Gaila is friends with some dolphins who tell her all the ocean gossip, including who I'm seeing. You'll like her, I have a feeling."

They chatted about various less dangerous topics the rest of the evening. She told him about her dad dying young and her mom's resentment of her, he told her about his ruined marriage and being kicked out of the pod.

"Not communicating really did us in. I was a fool and it cost me."

So That was why he was so up front with her regarding human-Mer problems. She appreciated his honesty, even if it scared her.

When he left that evening, Jamie wondered why her hand suddenly felt so empty. She realized it was because he had been holding it in his the whole time. She went back home, determined to do much reading and soul-searching. This was something she definitely didn't want to ruin. What exactly was a bonding kiss, anyway?

Chapter Text

The weather was stormy for the next few days, so Jamie couldn't go out to see Bones after work. Instead, She contented herself with reading about the Mer customs and biology. It was quite fascinating. The anatomy chapter was very informative, she thought, giggling like a teenager. So that was where he kept his--um---equipment. Retractable, of course.

And the belief that mermaids wore nothing but strategically placed clamshells? Complete nonsense, Archer declared. Mermaids were fond of light airy gowns that covered them, but did not impede their progress when swimming. Even mermen often wore tunics on formal occasions.

Then she reached the chapter he had urged her to study. It was highly informative. When two mers mated, they formed very powerful bonds that were incredibly difficult to break. Their souls were literally intertwined. Very few mers lived long after the death of their mates, unless they had originally been human, like Christine.

Bonding took place when a Mer and their prospective mate kissed for the first time. If the mate was human, the power of their bond turned one of the lovers to match the other species and allow the two to live together. No one was able to predict which way the pair would go, though there were many theories.

Jamie sucked in a breath reading this. No wonder Bones hadn't tried to kiss her. It would basically make them married and change one of them forever. Could she ever be ready to do something that permanent and life changing? Spock had been afraid to even discuss it with her, so vocal had she been about taking it slow.

What would life be like as a mermaid? Would she have gills? What would she eat? She had many questions. Maybe this Gaila could answer them. Jamie willed the weather to change.

The next sunny day was very warm so Jamie put on her swimsuit and headed for her favorite spot. Even if the water was cold, she could do some sunbathing and maybe spot some mers.

She felt very playful in her halter tankini top and matching swim skirt. Jamie had given up wearing bikinis in public a long time ago. They were more trouble than they were worth.

She was soaking in the Suns rays, when she heard a splash and a Scottish voice.

"If that's her, Len, you're a lucky Mer lad all right!!"

Jamie sat up and shook sand out of her suit. Three tails were busily propelling their owners towards the shore. One was Leonard's gorgeous green-gold, the second was silver, evidently Scotty, and the third was jet black, attached to a female with green skin and red hair.

She waved and waded out to them, the water feeling good on her toes. "I see you've brought some of your friends today!"

Bones was looking at her very intently and she realized with a blush he had never seen her in beachwear before. Well, she had him flustered already. Interesting. He recovered himself and introduced Scotty and Gaila.

"Pleased to meet you, Miss Kirk," Scotty said, beaming as he shook her hand.

Gaila gave her a hug, gushing,"You're even prettier than I imagined!! No wonder Leonard is so smitten."

Bones blushed. Jamie laughed. "I'm flattered, Gaila, and I can assure you, I'm fairly smitten with him as well. I'd never met a merman in my life before. Now, I'm reading books about their culture and history and meeting some really cool people."

"We're all up and down this coast. I'm surprised you haven't run into any of us before," Scotty noted with surprise.

"That's because I never took the time to do so much as breathe between court cases", Jamie admitted regretfully, "my career was fantastic, but I let everything else fall by the wayside. When I lost my job, I was left flailing at the empty air. I met Leonard at a very low point."

She impulsively dipped into the water and came up spluttering, dripping wet.

"Wow, that's cold!" Jamie spluttered, "I have no idea why I did that."

Bones laughed. "You've been swept up in the lure of the ocean, Jamie-girl. Better be careful, or you'll never wanna go back, even if it is full of disease and danger."

"You never know, Bones, I might just take you up on that. It's looking mighty appealing from where I'm standing."

She was pointedly gazing at him and He flushed yet again.

"Oh, goodness, it's worse than I thought!" exclaimed Scotty, pretending to gag.

"Or better," sighed Gaila, watching them with glee.

Jamie frolicked with the mers for a while before she got cold and was escorted back to the beach by Bones. Scotty and Gaila said goodbye and headed back out to sea, giving them some alone time.

Wrapped up in her towel, Jamie snuggled up to Bones and watched the light dancing off his scales. Yes, she thought, if it came down to it, she wouldn't mind staying here forever. She wondered if Bones would feel the same about becoming human.

"So I read the rest of that book about Mers," she murmured, tracing a finger down his back.

"Really? Learn anything interesting?", Bones asked, raising his eyebrow. Jamie thought it was amazing how expressive they were.

"Well," she smiled, "I was relieved to discover mers DO wear clothes, and the anatomy chapter was rather informative."

He rolled his eyes at the way she smirked. "Course you'd look that up first," he muttered.

"Yep." Jamie was unrepentant. "But the chapter on the bonding part kind of blew my my mind. Both a human and Mer have to be willing to give something up if they want to be together forever. That's intense."

"It is," agreed Bones seriously, turning to look her in the eye, "but it has to be that way for us to be compatible. It certainly separates true love from infatuation."

Jamie was silent for awhile. "Would you be okay with risking becoming a human?"

"Depends on who the human I'd be with is." He looked at her meaningfully. "But with how cute you're looking right now, if I were human, I'd have kissed you already."

He winked at her and Jamie knew she had fallen hard.

Chapter Text

Bones and Jamie had several more meetings over the next couple weeks before he had to leave to attend a two-week medical convention. Jamie missed her merman like crazy, but his pod brothers and sisters dropped by to keep her company.

She got to meet Chekov and Sulu and they entertained her with stories of the Kraken and their adventures fighting Nero and his minions. She had returned home from one such outing in a good mood, singing as she walked through her door.

Her song stopped abruptly when she recognized two familiar faces sitting in her couch, faces she'd hoped to never see again. Faces that brought back the hurt and humiliation of the end of her tenure at Enterprise Law.

"What in the world are you guys doing here?" She confronted them, eyes dark and angry. "Haven't you already thoroughly washed your hands of me? Or did you decide to sue me to rub it in?"

The older man, her former boss and mentor, sighed and rose to his feet. "No, Jamie, we're not. I understand why you can't stand the sight of us, but we need to talk." She huffed, but listened.

"Spock found proof that John Harrison was, in fact, committing fraud and framing him. You were right and we were despicably wrong to accuse you of such a thing."

Christopher Pike looked devastated at the knowledge of what he had done to the woman who once looked up to him as a father.

"So, my firing was not in vain, after all?", she said, somewhat sarcastically.

Spock looked ready to die from discomfort as she stared at him coolly. To think she once dated the man!!! If only she had done some research first. Never let it be said Jamie T. Kirk didn't learn her lesson, if the stack of Mer related books on her coffee table were any indication.

"I apologize for my actions." Spock sounded very stiff. "It was illogical of me to doubt your intentions, despite the dubious means you used."

"Most backhanded apology I've ever heard, but I'll accept it."

Jamie stood tense in front of her ex, not wanting to show any sign of the hurt he had left in her. At least they weren't going to beg her to come back. Those bridges were completely burned.

"Jamie," sighed Pike, "why haven't you tried any other firms? You're too talented for a department store."

"I need a break, before I jump back in that world." The fight drained out of Jamie and she flopped back on her couch. "It was time to explore some other interests."

"Like Mer people, perhaps?" Spock's eyebrow went up as he eyed the stack on her table.

"Yes as a matter of fact," she said proudly, picking up Archer's book. "The night I ran into you and your new flame at the store, I took a walk on the beach and met a this grumpy merman. We hit it off and I go and hang out with the pod whenever I can. They're a fascinating people, really. Also, extremely attractive."

She said this on purpose to get a rise out of them. It worked. Pike closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. Tiny frown lines appeared between Spock's eyebrows.

"Jamie," Pike sighed heavily, "You've gone and got involved with one, haven't you?"

"Maybe," she said coyly, tossing her long braid behind her, "but I assure you, he's been a perfect gentleman. He's not likely to pull any tricks since he's coming off a bad relationship, too."

That made Spock flinch.

"I'm not rushing anything, if that's what your wondering," she added hastily. "Potentially becoming a different species is a good reason to keep things calm."

Of course, she had to explain the whole process to them and endure a myriad of questions from scientifically curious Spock and concerned dad Pike.

At the end, all he said was, "I won't try to stop you if your mind's made up. But you better be sure you love him enough to give up your earthbound life and career."

Jamie just smiled back. She didn't feel nearly as much turmoil about bonding anymore.

"He's just as likely to become human, Chris, and maybe merpeople need lawyers, too. I should have thought to ask before."

Jamie was intrigued by that thought. "Besides, I'd like being part of his pod, if it comes to that. They've made me feel like I belong. Maybe you could come meet him when he gets back next week." She offered.

Unfortunately, no one got to meet Leonard the next week because he didn't show up. Jamie waited in vain everyday for a week, fear and doubt twisting her inside before a white faced Scotty appeared with bad news: "Len's gone missing. We can't find hide nor hair of him. One of Nero's ships was spotted close to the route he was supposed to take home. I fear he's been taken."

Chapter Text

The next month was the longest of Jamie's life. Day after day went by of sickening suspense. She walked the shoreline nightly hoping he would magically return.

Jamie went through her work days mechanically, living in a constant state of dread and horror over what was happening to Bones. Would Nero kill him? Was he being tortured?

She cried herself to sleep many nights, praying he was still alive. Oh, how she missed his presence; the goofy smile, the strong shoulders, the gentle hands, the grumbly voice, the flashy tail he derided.

His friends checked in regularly to report on the ongoing search and sadly had to tell her nothing was turning up. Chekov looked crushed, Scotty looked despondent, and Gaila's eyes were as red as Jamie's. It finally got to the point she called Pike to come over.

"Still no sign of him?" He asked, seeing the misery on her face.

"No", she sniffed, "I can't take this anymore. I have to know one way or another. You have some connections in the Coast Guard. Ask them to track Nero's ship. There's a good chance he's on it. Please, Chris. I can't just let him die."

He pulled her into a comforting hug. "I'll see what I can do. Given that Nero has been known for his shady dealings, they're probably tracking him right now. And if other mers have gone missing, there would be excellent reason to search his ship. Don't give up hope, Jamie."

That day she introduced him to Scotty and Sulu. He looked like he couldn't believe his own eyes upon seeing them for the first time, but soon was talking easily with them about their missing friend. The two mermen gave the frightening news that over twenty mers were missing, along with Bones. Nero had made a significant raid, apparently. Pike promised to contact his friends and offered what reassurances he could. Another long torturous week went by and then Jamie got a call.

"They've caught Nero!!" Pike practically shouted. "The ship has been seized and it's full of his illegal catches."

Jamie gasped, "have they found Bones?"

"I can't say for sure, they didn't give any names, but over two dozen merpeople were rescued from that filthy cargo hold. Some of them were in bad shape, I'm afraid. You might want to get down to the sea life rehab center. That's where they are now."

Jamie could have passed out from relief. "I'm on my way. Gonna let the pod know first."

It hit her suddenly they had unconsciously become her pod, too.

She ran down to the pier to tell Gaila and Chekov, and then made a beeline for her car to drive to the center.

Jamie had a lot of explaining to do to be allowed in, but when they heard she was there on behalf of a missing mers pod, she was shown through the door into a room filled with various tanks and medical equipment.

"I'm looking for Leonard McCoy. He's a merdoctor. He has a greenish-gold tail." She hoped that was specific enough.

The biologist smiled. "They're all doctors here, since Nero raided a medical convention. But I think I know which one you mean. Is he kind of grouchy?"

Jamie smiled. "That's him."

"Right this way, then," the woman nodded and led the way down a row of tank/beds full of Mer to the far end, where Bones lay on a cot, his tail covered in a wet cloth.

Jamie's eyes filled with tears when she saw how thin and bruised he was. Ugly cuts ran up his sides and there were red rings around his wrists where manacles had chafed his skin raw. He looked to be resting but not asleep, given how quickly he turned toward her voice.

"Bones," she whispered, running over to him, "you're alive!" She ran her hand over his face. "Thank goodness. I though I'd never see you again." He smiled adoringly at her.

"Jamie-girl, you're the sweetest thing I've seen in a long time. Nero sure did a number on us. Beat us if we breathed wrong."

She let out a sob and buried her face in his neck. "I was so afraid you were dead and I'd missed my chance to tell you I love you," she gasped out, chest heaving with pent up feeling.

"Oh, Darlin', I was thinking the same way." He reached out to take her hand. "Being separated from you was downright painful. I love you, beautiful, and the only thing that kept me sane in that hellhole was the thought of what I'd do if you let me kiss you."

She blushed then spoke softly, "I'm thinking I want to go through with it, after all we'd love each other in either form, right?"

"Right," he agreed. She pressed a kiss to his cheek.

"Oh, look at them, another human-Mer couple, reveling in the joys of new love," came a voice from a few cots away. It was English, and had a bit of mockery in it.

"Shut up, Sherlock, can't you see it's a private moment?" hissed a female voice.

"Who's that?" Wondered Jamie, startled by the intrusion. Bones groaned and covered his eyes with his hand.

"That smug a-hole thinks he's some sort of genius Mer detective. Wouldn't shut up the whole time. Kept analyzing and deducing the crap out of us."

Jamie looked over and saw the merman. He was also extremely skinny, with a bandaged arm and nasty bruise on his face. The tip of his black tail poking out from the towel looked rather ragged and he had astonishing high cheekbones and curly black hair. He appeared to be greatly amused at the two of them.

Jamie shook her head at his superior attitude, even while lying down. "You're right, mister, I'm head over heels for Leonard and he for me. Are you always so nosy?"

"Yes," he replied, twitching his nose In an irritated fashion, "it is my job to observe people."

She chuckled. "If I wasn't so happy to have Leonard back, I'd be irritated. As it is, well, carry on."

She looked back down at Leonard. "Your pod has been very worried about you. Poor Chekov would hardly eat, he's so distressed. I told them the ship was found and hopefully we'll be able to bring you back soon."

He grimaced. "I'm sorry I scared y'all so bad. Who knew a simple ocean doctor couldn't travel twenty miles without getting abducted?"

She sat there by his bed for a long time, holding his hand and kissing the bruises as if she could disappear. In the background, the English mer's voice droned on as he described the occupations and habits of everybody else in the room.

Because he was so banged up and malnourished, Bones had to stay in the rehab center for two more days before he was released. The scientists loaded him into a boat and carried him to the area where the pod frequented. Jamie laughed in delight watching the Mer do celebratory flips as they welcomed him home. Maybe some day, she'd be flipping with them.

Chapter Text

Pike met Bones for the first time three days after his return. Jamie had told her mentor that the two of them planned on bonding and Pike insisted that he meet her intended beforehand.

They got along rather well, Jamie thought. Pike grilled him pretty thoroughly on how okay they really were with a possible species change and how they'd adapt when they did. Bones handled them all calmly and thoughtfully. Yes, there were such things as Mer lawyers, and yes he could still still patch up mers if he had legs instead of a tail.

Jamie herself had a quiet talk with Christine Chapel that helped ease her fears about about the big change. Christine had been through it herself and she told Jamie what she could expect if she changed.

"The physical transformation is painful for a minute, but once it's over, and you're finally together, you won't remember that," she said, a fond light of memory in her eyes. "It's incredibly powerful, Jamie. I hope you and Bones are as happy as Roger and I were."

"The pod won't be mad at me for taking away Bones if he changes, will they?", Jamie asked hesitatingly.

She was nervous about breaking up their close-knit group.

"No, of course not," Christine reassured her. "We'll miss him like crazy, but if his soulmate calls him to land, we are not going to begrudge him his joy. "

And so, one late August afternoon, Jamie put on a pretty white sun dress and flip flops and made her way down to the beach with Pike. Her heart was thumping like crazy, knowing what was going to happen. The whole pod was waiting in the waves, popping up one by one as she walked out to them. Gaila and Christine were wearing beautiful shimmery blue gowns, and all the mermen had vests.

"You clean up good, folks!", She called out to them, stopping just at the wet sand.

Bones popped up, shaking water out of his hair and grinning at her. Oh, goodness. There he went again doing something unexpectedly hot.

"You're looking beautiful as always, Darlin'." He looked at her intently. "You ready for this?", he asked quietly.

She stepped forward confidently. "I am. And you're looking incredible right now."

They clasped hands and looked at each other silently for a while. Everyone seemed to be holding their breath.

Then Scotty shouted, "what are you waiting for? Go on and kiss the girl!!"

Jamie giggled nervously. "Was he making a Little Mermaid reference?"

Bones rolled his eyes and sighed. "Yes, horrendously inaccurate movie, but he's been waiting to say that for years."

"Well, then," she whispered, "let's take his advice, shall we?" She leaned closer, until their bodies were almost touching.

"Here goes, Darlin'," he murmured and leaned down to connect their lips.

Jamie had never had a kiss like that ever before. A tingle seemed to shoot down her spine and she could literally feel the overwhelming burst of love and joy between them as their souls were united.

She poured her longing and love into that kiss and he returned it with equal fervor. It was absolutely incredible. By now, they were both clutching each other: her hands around his waist, and his behind her head.

She didn't break it off until she felt a strange burning pain inside her. She clutched her side, gasping.

"What's wrong, love?", asked Bones, concerned. Then he took a closer look. "I think you're changing, honey. Let's get you out farther. It'll be easier on you in the water."

He scooped her up in his arms and propelled them out to a waist deep level. Jamie started to writhe in discomfort. Her legs felt weird and her insides were going haywire.

"Hold onto me, Jamie-girl," her mate whispered, "it'll be over in a minute."

She gripped him tightly as a wave of pain shot down her sides. Christine hadn't been joking after all. But she had made her choice, and there was no backing out now. She squeezed her eyes shut and starting counting silently, hoping to distract herself until it was over.

Bones was muttering comfort and placing kisses on her forehead. By the time, she reached eighty-seven, the pain had dissipated and she relaxed in his arms.

"Is it over?", she asked cautiously, opening her eyes a bit.

"Sure thing, Darlin'," he whispered tenderly. "And you make a gorgeous mermaid. Take a look."

Jamie looked down. Where her legs used to be was a shining, scale covered, light blue tail, with delicate fins and flippers on the end.

"Oh, my!" She gasped. She could hear the Scotty and Gaila cheering and catcalling in the background and her face felt warm.

"I take it they're excited," she teased her Mer husband.

"Oh you bet they are," he said, spreading her fingers apart and kissing the newly webbed digits. "They've considered you part of us for quite a while. Now that it's official, they're beside themselves. Goodness, you're gorgeous."

He ran a hand down her new scales, causing her to shiver at the sensation.

"I'll need a lot of instruction in certain areas, Bones, I'm counting on you to provide it."

She said this in a breathy tone that left no doubt as to what she referred to, adding some eyelash batting for good measure.

"I'll be happy to, Darlin," he replied in a low growly voice. "But first we've got some celebrating to do."

He grabbed her hand and they swam towards the others. There were many hugs and teary congratulations from the her new family. Gaila squealed over her new tail.

"It matches your eyes! I've never seen a blue like that before!"

"Tis most remarkable," agreed Scotty.

"I am wery glad you are joining us", said Chekov shyly.

"Hey, Chris," Jamie called to the figure on shore, "come party with us! A little water won't kill you!"

He looked a little sad, she thought, but he cautiously came over towards the happy group.

"You okay, Jamie?" He asked anxiously looking her over. "That looked like it hurt." He looked askance at Bones.

Jamie was quick to reassure him. "I'm fine now, Chris. It only lasted a little bit. Bones made me feel better already."

Chris didn't look much happier.

"Hey, I'll come back and visit whenever I can. I'm not dead," she consoled him. "Bones isn't going to keep me locked up at home."

"Of course not," scoffed Bones, eying her with pride.

"Just stay away from nets and angry sharks, please," Pike's eyes were practically begging her.

"I'll do my best, Chris," Jamie promised shaking his hand firmly.

The happy group chatted and toasted and snacked until the sun began to go down. Then they reluctantly said their farewells and parted ways.

Scotty and company were heading back to the pods main home, three miles out, but the new couple wasn't going that far yet. Bones had a cozy underwater hideout for them to spend their first night together.

Jamie found breathing underwater a very bizarre experience, but Bones patiently helped her get accustomed to her new gills and soon she was exploring the fascinating underwater world, loving the way her tail propelled her this way and that. She did an exuberant backflip in front of Bones and landed in front of him, swishing her tail back and forth seductively.

"Having fun, Jamie-girl?", he asked, eying her lovingly.

"Sure am," she replied, swimming up close and putting her hands on his shoulders, the blonde hair flowing around her like a veil. "Why don't you show me the other kind of fun, like a good husband?" She wiggled again.

"I'd be happy too," he replied with a grin, and pulled her into his arms. "This right here is a Mer style kiss."

Leonard wrapped his tail around hers and kissed her hard. She gave it right back, breathless and smiling when they broke apart.

"Let's go find that hideout now," he suggested, hazeI eyes wide. "I think that sea turtle just told us to get a room."

She laughed and they raced off together hand in hand.

Chapter Text

Down in a sheltered sea cave, far away from prying eyes and predators, Jamie Kirk, formerly a human, now happily bonded as a mermaid, lay exhausted in a soft bed of sea grass after giving birth to her first baby. Her merdoctor husband and his nurse Christine were swimming to and fro, taking care of both mother and infant. Jamie only had eyes for her newborn though.

"They didn't tell me Mer babies were this cute. I mean, look at her little tail!" she gushed, running her fingers down her daughter's dark green scales.

"And the little webbed fingers!" Christine added adoringly, shamelessly smitten as well.

"She's got Bones's chin, I think," Jamie continued, "And my nose." She touched the little nub gently.

"So she does." Bones agreed, pausing in his ministrations to admire their daughter again. The baby had stopped fussing (which for Mer babies was basically a very squeaky wail) the moment and was looking around with wide dark blue eyes at her new surroundings.

Jamie already was already hopelessly in love with baby Jillian, and was pretty certain Bones was, too. It was very difficult for a human-turned-Mer to successfully carry a young Mer to term, but Jamie had done so and was the talk of the sea kingdom for many nautical miles around.

She knew their fellow pod members were all waiting impatiently to be allowed a visit, but Leonard would keep them away until tomorrow. He wanted his girls all to himself right now.

It had been three years since they'd bonded and Jamie had spent most of them getting used to her new body and habitat and learning the ins and outs of sea life.

Being pregnant was certainly an adventure, but she'd persevered through the sickness and uncertainty and now Jilly was here, all seven pounds of her.

"We'd better let Chris know, so he doesn't pace the shore all night fretting about me," she told her husband, who was letting the baby grab his finger.

"Sulu and Chekov are headed that way now," Bones informed her, leaning over to kiss her gently.
"Rest easy now, Darlin. Goodness knows you need it. Ten hours of labor wiped you out."

Jamie WAS really tired, but didn't want to close her eyes yet, still reveling in the joy of motherhood. Jillian's little tail fins curled inwards as she snuggled closer to her mother's chest, tiny mouth opening widely in a yawn.

"Sleepy sweetheart, you're our little darling," she whispered to the baby, bouncing a little to lull her to sleep. Soft brown baby curls swayed in the water as little Jillian started to doze off. Jamie loved how much she took after Bones, even the little frowny face she made while she slept was a perfect miniature of her father's.

"See, honey, she's got the McCoy scowl down pat already," she whispered mischievously.

"A daughter after my own heart," he drawled with a grin. "I have a feeling she's gonna be a beautiful rascal like you, though.
Look out, oceans!"

When he looked down again, Jamie's head had fallen back and she'd abruptly joined her daughter in dreamland.

Leonard's heart squeezed at the sight and he smiled as he pressed a kiss to Jamie's forehead, gently extracting Jillian from her arms and seating himself in a comfortable cushion nearby to keep vigil and enjoy his new daughter.

Yes, Leonard "Bones" McCoy was a happy merman at last. He thanked his stars he'd been under that pier three years ago when Jamie had come strolling along the sand muttering disconsolately in a way he understood all too well. This life he had now was a far cry from his old pile of fish bones.