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Desperate Men (Kirk/McCoy PG-13)

  • Feb. 13th, 2011 at 8:28 PM
emiliglia: (kirk/mccoy)
Title: Desperate Men
Rating: Kirk/McCoy
Pairing: PG-13
Word Count: 2,030
Warning: starts off angsty but ends on an up-note, I promise
Summary: For [livejournal.com profile] jim_and_bones' Sweethearts Challenge, prompt #13 - Jim's newfound fame as the "savior of Earth" and the Face of Starfleet is both dragging him down and going to his head. Bones steps in and decides to remind him he's still "Jim Kirk, genius-level repeat offender" -- even if it means going to a bar at the ass-end of the Universe.

Author's Note: Some of you may recognize a part of this as something I'd previously written. I'd intended to do more with it but hadn't known what that was until this prompt.

+++

Watching the solemn ceremony on the observation deck, Jim feels a confusing muddle of joy, relief, guilt, and nausea. All of those lives, all of that culture, wiped out in the blink of an eye.

He casts a sidelong glance at Bones, standing at parade rest in his dress uniform, his expression respectful. It had been a domino effect of luck that kept him - hell, either of them - alive that day.

When the lyrist starts to play, Bones catches him staring. They hold each others' gazes across Chekov and Uhura. Jim doesn't want to break the reverent atmosphere, but he needs Bones to know what he's thinking, how he could've lost Bones one hundred times over had circumstances occurred even a little differently.

From the way Bones' eyes soften at the corners, Jim knows he understands.

+

The thing is, Jim never could have predicted how much easier it is to live in your father's shadow than it is to live in your own.

They find an Andorian ship on the transmitting end of a distress call, dead in space, and Jim has to force a close-lipped smile as the captain goes on about how ut can't believe un ship's been rescued by the Captain Kirk, hero of the Federation.

Jim meets the captain face-to-face in sickbay while ut and un crew are being checked out. Jim ensures that his engineers are the best and the ship will be repaired in no time.

"Every citizen of the Federation owes you a great debt, Captain."

It's moments like these when Jim wonders what's happened to his silver tongue. He nods to camouflage the urge to shift uncomfortably and heads back to the bridge.

+

He takes on everything and anything that crosses the Enterprise's path.

It feels like, now, that if he can't do it, if his crew can't do it, then no one can.

They mediate a land dispute on the main continent of Ingus Prime, escort High Priestesses across the beta quadrant, and provide materials to a colony moon that's been having endless problems with dangerous weather.

"The admiralty is also monitoring the situation on Athra VII," Spock is saying, the tips of his fingers resting on his PADD as he looks between Jim and the gathered senior crew. "They have yet to request Federation assistance."

Jim scans his memory, but the planet doesn't sound familiar. "What's happening on Athra VII?"

"Reports being sent off-planet suggest a famine brought on by an invasive beetle that's significantly affecting the harvest yield."

He can feel Bones' sharp gaze on him, but it's nowhere near enough to stop the words coming out of his mouth. "We're going."

"Jim!"

He ignores Bones completely, focusing on Sulu instead. "Change course and get us to Athra VII as fast as we can."

Sulu looks hesitant, like he expects someone to counter Jim's order, but when no one does he leaves with a firm, "Yes, sir."

"Everyone else is dismissed," Jim says, and they all leave quietly except for Bones, who doesn't even move to get out of his seat.

"The Federation isn't an empire, Jim; you can't go charging in just because you don't like how things are being taken care of."

"And I don't want to wait and see how many people their government lets die before they concede to needing help." Jim crosses his arms across his chest, not caring that it makes him look more defensive. "Are you going to disallow these people access to the medical care they'll certainly need?"

"You know that I wouldn't-"

"Then there's no issue here," Jim responds coolly. "You're dismissed, Bones."

+

They're in orbit for three days before the chancellor will allow Jim to send people down without threatening to shoot his shuttles out of the sky.

It's another two weeks before Starfleet sends more ships to take over and relieve the Enterprise of her latest post.

Jim's lying on his side in bed, pretending to be catching up on all the sleep he hasn't gotten lately, but the backs of his eyelids are burned with the images of too skinny children from past and present.

The light from the hallway spills into the room before the door slides shut, and it isn't long before Jim feels the bed dipping behind him followed by a kiss pressed against his shoulder. "Spock's been trying to comm you," Bones breathes against his neck. "We've been ordered from on high to take some time off, and he wanted to know if you had a planet in mind for the crew to recuperate on."

There's something in Bones' tone that tells Jim he's not getting the whole story. "So what did you say to him?"

Bones scoffs. "I told him that you're the captain, not a damn cruise director, and to just pick the closest class M that doesn't harbor any ill-will towards Starfleet or the Federation."

Jim hums then rolls over to face Bones. "And here I'd been looking forward to an angry mob with torches and pitchforks."

"Which is what the people of Athra VII were about a day away from becoming, if you ask me."

"And you were the one who didn't think we should go."

Jim can feel Bones' sigh just as well as he can hear it. "Or maybe I was thinking that you could let someone else take care of it. There's a lot of people hurting in the universe, Jim; you can't save all of them, and you shouldn't think that you have to."

"Says the doctor with all those published journal articles, groundbreaking surgical techniques, and developed vaccines that are used across known space. Face it, Bones, we both have god complexes."

"That may be, but it is possible to do harm while trying to help."

"You're not going to quote the Hippocratic Oath at me, are you, Bones?"

"I'm just saying that sometimes people can help themselves. It was an Athran scientist who figured out that not only were the beetles destroying the root systems, but how to stop them, as well." Jim doesn't pull away when Bones brings up a hand to rest it on the side of Jim's face. "I don't want to see you burn out when it becomes too much. I'm speaking from experience, here."

Jim has to squeeze his eyes shut in order to swallow passed the lump in his throat. He knows Bones means his father's illness and subsequent death as the proverbial straw that broke his back and led to the end of his marriage and his enlisting in Starfleet.

They'd both been such desperate men when they met.

Only Jim feels like he still is.

He opens his eyes at the feeling of the pad of Bones' thumb stroking over his cheekbone. Jim captures that hand in his own and leans forward to close the gap between them.

+

He returns from the gym to find Bones waiting in the doorway and shoving clothes at him. "What the hell is this?"

"This is me finding it sad that I've been down to Beta Rigel X and you haven't. Now get dressed, we're going out."

Jim studies the jeans and T-shirt he's holding and then notices the familiar plaid button-down Bones is wearing. "Wait, you mean, like, drinking?" He glances at a computer panel on the wall. "It's barely passed oh-nine hundred."

"Yeah, ship time, but not planet time. Now hurry up and get your ass dressed before I change my mind."

+

The colony on Beta Rigel X makes Jim think of a shopping mall if it had thirty six levels and was more of a self-contained city. Although, with the planet's frozen surface, Jim supposes that it has to be.

The levels seem to get more run-down and seedy as they descend, and the bar Bones drags him into is an absolute shithole.

Jim pretty much loves it.

It's the kind of bar where all the surfaces are a little sticky, and you hope it's from spilled drinks, but in some spots it's probably blood. No one makes eye contact and even the bartender doesn't talk more than she has to.

And the absolute best thing, Jim soon notices, is that those who do look up at him either don't recognize him or don't give a flying fuck who he is.

They grab a table in the corner, and Jim has his drink halfway to his mouth when Bones puts a hand on his forearm to still the movement. "I'm only saying this once, so help me we better both still remember it afterward. The admiralty didn't give you the Enterprise because they wanted another yes man jumping at every opportunity sent his way. It wasn't because of that big brain of yours, Starfleet's got enough of those, or your family's legacy. They wanted someone who would challenge their authority and decisions, someone who doesn't make decisions based on protocols and politics. Someone who knows from experience that pretty words might be nice, but sometimes a good right hook is what's needed to keep from getting stepped on."

Bones pulls his hand away, looking vaguely uncomfortable, and Jim feels the corner of his mouth twitch into a smile. "Shit, Bones, that was almost poetic."

"Shut the hell up, Jim, and start adding to the liver damage that I'm going to have to fix in a few years."

Jim downs his shots in quick succession, the foreign alcohol burning its way down his throat. "Now how would you feel about some bone and tissue damage in your more immediate future?"

"As long as you don't get yourself killed," Bones says into his drink. "I have no idea how I'd explain that one to Pike."

+

Despite his nose probably being broken, the split and bloody knuckles, and Bones asking too loudly every three seconds if he has a black eye (he does, but Jim thinks it'll be way more funny for Bones to discover that for himself), Jim feels better than he has in months.

+

"Captain," Uhura's voice is clear and confident across the bridge. "I'm picking up a distress beacon from the Carraya system. How would you like to proceed?"

Jim can feel all their eyes on him, waiting on his command, but none of it matters when the turbolift doors open and Bones steps onto the bridge.

I don't want to see you burn out when it becomes too much.

"Sir?" Uhura says, uncertain by Jim's hesitation. "What would you like to do?"

"Forward the coordinates to the Lexington; she'll be able to get there faster."

If Uhura is surprised by his decision, she's very good at keeping herself from showing it. "Yes, Captain."

Bones isn't nearly so skilled, though, and his widened eyes force Jim to fake a cough to hide his smile. "Jim, a word in private, if I may."

The ready room door isn't even fully shut behind them when Bones starts in with, "You better not be doing this for my benefit. Would you have made the same decision if I hadn't shown up?"

"Yes, Bones, I would have. Is it really so surprising that I trust and respect your opinions? I don't want to even out being the youngest captain in the fleet by being the youngest to resign his commission because he couldn't take the pressure. I'm the only one holding these ridiculous standards for myself, but now it's not just myself on the line anymore, but the entire crew as well. I can't do that to them, and I certainly can't do that to you. It's called personal growth."

"Looks like I'll have to believe you if you managed to say that without slipping in an euphemism."

"I can slip in something else, if you like," Jim says with a leer that has Bones rolling his eyes. Jim can practically see the rant building on the end of Bones' tongue, so he steals it away, swallowing in, happy with the knowledge that underneath all his bitching and moaning, Bones is really just looking out for him, always has been, and Jim's still adjusting to having one person who believes in him like that, forget the entire universe.

Comments

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[identity profile] yeomanrand.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 14th, 2011 01:36 am (UTC)
EEe!

/hugs you

/hugs fic

/hugs you again.
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 20th, 2011 12:14 am (UTC)
♥ Thank you, bb!
(no subject) - [identity profile] yeomanrand.livejournal.com - Feb. 20th, 2011 12:30 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - [identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com - Feb. 20th, 2011 12:34 am (UTC)
[identity profile] imagined-haven.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 14th, 2011 01:40 am (UTC)
Love it!

"Looks like I'll have to believe you if you managed to say that without slipping in an euphemism."
Best line ever.
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 20th, 2011 12:15 am (UTC)
Thank you!
ext_409703: (obvious flirting is obvious)
[identity profile] caitri.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 14th, 2011 01:52 am (UTC)
*happy sigh* Oh this is so lovely!

"Shut the hell up, Jim, and start adding to the liver damage that I'm going to have to fix in a few years."

I absolutely adore this line--funny as hell and so true to both of them!!
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 20th, 2011 12:16 am (UTC)
Bones can only pretend to be grumpy about it - I think he likes being needed. ;)

Glad you liked it, bb!
[identity profile] caera1996.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 14th, 2011 01:59 am (UTC)
Fantastic characterization here. You really got the essence of Jim vs. Captain Kirk, and the fact that Bones is never really separate from Dr. McCoy. I really liked this!
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 20th, 2011 12:17 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
[identity profile] blcwriter.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 14th, 2011 03:03 am (UTC)
Adding to the general chorus of eeeeeeessss. And also, yes. Bones' rant at the bar was goddamned poetic. Even is there wasn't any sex. *g*
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 20th, 2011 12:18 am (UTC)
Thanks, dahhhhlin'.

Even is there wasn't any sex. *g*

Hey, it's fade-to-black!
[identity profile] secretsolitaire.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 14th, 2011 03:18 am (UTC)
I love that, the difference between the way Bones believes in him vs the way everyone else does. Really nicely done.
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 20th, 2011 12:19 am (UTC)
It's my head canon for why they work so well, so I love playing with it in fic. Thank you!
[identity profile] lindmere.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 14th, 2011 03:57 am (UTC)
Ooh, that was angsty in my favorite way--with the boys sacrificing themselves but taking care of each other. And lots and lots of missions--we loves missions!

Jim never could have predicted how much easier it is to live in your father's shadow than it is to live in your own.

That's a beautiful line. I'm going to remember that one.
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 20th, 2011 12:22 am (UTC)
I like using missions to advance a story, even if having to make up planets and things gets annoying. :P

I'm glad you pointed out that line. I was really stuck on having to write this prompt from Jim's POV without making him seem like a jackass, and that line literally hit me two days before the fic was due to give me an angle to work the story. :) Thank you!
[identity profile] amine-eyes.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 14th, 2011 03:19 pm (UTC)
Oh sweet and lovely :)
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 20th, 2011 12:23 am (UTC)
Thanks, bb!
[identity profile] shinychimera.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 14th, 2011 03:43 pm (UTC)
Gorgeous, gorgeous! You're such a delicate mistress of the small details:

He opens his eyes at the feeling of the pad of Bones' thumb stroking over his cheekbone. Jim captures that hand in his own and leans forward to close the gap between them.
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 20th, 2011 12:27 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
[identity profile] eyesofshinigami.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 14th, 2011 04:24 pm (UTC)
Fantastic. :D
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 20th, 2011 12:27 am (UTC)
Thank you!
[identity profile] elfsausage.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 14th, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
Brilliant stuff! "and Bones asking too loudly every three seconds if he has a black eye" Love this line especially. It's fun to see drunk!Bones being loud rather than just grumpy for a change.
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 20th, 2011 12:31 am (UTC)
He pretty much invited the situation, so I don't think he's allowed to respond grumpily to Jim getting some things out of his system. ;) Thank you!
[identity profile] sail-aweigh.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 15th, 2011 12:37 am (UTC)
Oh, that was just splendid! I loved everything about this, Bones and his care-taking, Jim and his hero complex and the two of them, there for each other. Still snickering over the thought of Bones with a black eye. You know damn well he wouldn't be a by-stander in any altercation involving Jim. :D
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 24th, 2011 01:16 am (UTC)
You know damn well he wouldn't be a by-stander in any altercation involving Jim.

Quite possibly he was the instigator. :P Thanks so much, bb, I'm glad you liked it!
[identity profile] weepingnaiad.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 15th, 2011 02:55 pm (UTC)
Love their relationship here, how they know each other so well, how they're there for each other and how Bones will get Jim what he needs, even if it means getting a black eye. :D

Lovely!
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 24th, 2011 01:18 am (UTC)
Bones will get Jim what he needs, even if it means getting a black eye

...My brain went someplace really dirty at that. I think it's been too long since I wrote porn. :P Thanks, hun!
siluria: (ST_Kirk_drink)
[personal profile] siluria wrote:
Feb. 15th, 2011 09:50 pm (UTC)
Perfect, perfect, perfect!!!! So totally them.
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 24th, 2011 01:20 am (UTC)
I'm going to take those 4 exclamation points and save them for a rainy day. ♥ Thanks, babe!

So I doubt you remember prompting me "xenocide" with Mirror!Kirk/McCoy from the alphabet writing meme thing I posted back in, like, April, but I totally got bit on the ass with that prompt last weekend that I'm thinking fits in with my big bang's 'verse. And I thought I was done with those two!
(no subject) - [personal profile] siluria - Feb. 24th, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - [identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com - Feb. 25th, 2011 12:52 am (UTC)
[identity profile] sangueuk.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 15th, 2011 10:16 pm (UTC)
This was awesome! I loved this little look at part of Jim settling into his chair, so to speak, and I love that Bones has an influence. The poetic little rant was so cool, and I adored the bar and the R&R!
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 24th, 2011 01:23 am (UTC)
Jim would crash and burn without Bones, IMO. Or maybe it's that Jim does crash and burn, but at least he has Bones to put him back together afterward. :) Glad you liked it, sweetie!
ext_15529: made by jazsekuhsjunk (fadedrealm - cadet kirk)
[identity profile] the-dala.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:28 am (UTC)
Great characterization here! Love seeing Jim take a bit of a step back, with Bones there to support him, so he won't burn out.
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 24th, 2011 01:24 am (UTC)
We can't have Jim burning out before 30, now, can we? Thanks so much!
[identity profile] northernwalker.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:04 am (UTC)
"Shut the hell up, Jim, and start adding to the liver damage that I'm going to have to fix in a few years."

Such a smooth talker. Luckily he's got Jim around!
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 24th, 2011 01:25 am (UTC)
Such a fine specimen of a Southern gentleman he is. :P Thanks for reading!
[identity profile] castofone.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:26 am (UTC)
Hello sweetheart? Prompt buddy? Having written the other side of this it is interesting to see where things are different and yet the same. Which I absolutely love.

As a general reader, I think this just a great look at Jim in the aftermath of the Narada and taking on new responsibility with Bones there to keep him in line.
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 24th, 2011 01:29 am (UTC)
*doesn't care that this isn't an ST icon - your icon demanded its usage; and it's kinda funny considering we're prompt buddies and all*

I'm so glad that you liked it!

I liked our brain twin moments with the prompts, too. I also found it interesting how we both portrayed Jim differently, but both still felt in character.
(no subject) - [identity profile] castofone.livejournal.com - Feb. 24th, 2011 01:32 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - [identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com - Feb. 25th, 2011 12:54 am (UTC)
[identity profile] treksnoopy.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:39 am (UTC)
awwww. Wonderful story and version of this relationship.
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 24th, 2011 01:29 am (UTC)
Thank you!
[identity profile] abigail89.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:01 pm (UTC)
That was awesome.

Bones knows exactly what to do, what to say, and more importantly, when to say it. That rant in the bar? Perfection. Total perfection.

[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 25th, 2011 01:00 am (UTC)
Thank you so much, bb! ♥
[identity profile] mijan.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 16th, 2011 04:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, I DO love fics that actually show Jim being a starship captain... real Starfleet missions, real decision making, the pressures of leadership. I also love the observation that it's harder to live in your own shadow than someone else's. Thank you for writing a fic like this! And I love seeing Jim become more responsible without losing that quintessential quality that makes him Jim Kirk. :D
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 25th, 2011 01:03 am (UTC)
You have no idea how happy your comment made me. I had wanted to write something believable without making Jim look like a complete egomaniac.
(no subject) - [identity profile] mijan.livejournal.com - Feb. 25th, 2011 01:07 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - [identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com - Feb. 27th, 2011 01:22 am (UTC)
[identity profile] madscribbles.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 16th, 2011 09:39 pm (UTC)
Oh, this was perfect. Bones taking Jim to get drunk and get in a bar fight to make him feel better... that's so them.
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 25th, 2011 01:04 am (UTC)
Jim in a skeevy bar is like a kid in a candy store, yes? ;) Thanks for reading!
[identity profile] akuchan-47.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 17th, 2011 12:20 pm (UTC)
This was fabulous! I just loved seeing Jim growing into his captaincy, and Bones' way of helping him, was just what he needed. His poetic rant was ^__^, as was drunken Bones with a black eye.

Awesome story!
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 25th, 2011 01:05 am (UTC)
I just loved seeing Jim growing into his captaincy

Oooh, Growing Pains would've been another good title option. Oh well, too late for that. ;)

I'm glad you liked it!
[identity profile] vivid-moment.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 20th, 2011 01:18 pm (UTC)
Especially loved their relationship here. Perfect and so them. Fabulous story. Really fabulous ♥
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 25th, 2011 01:05 am (UTC)
Thank you!
[identity profile] norfolkdumpling.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 20th, 2011 07:18 pm (UTC)
Awww - that Bones is a sensible sort, and Jim is a clever lad for taking his advice. Must be why they go together so well, eh? *g* I really enjoyed this - and I love the give-and-take of their relationship here. Thanks!
[identity profile] emiliglia.livejournal.com wrote:
Feb. 25th, 2011 01:07 am (UTC)
Must be why they go together so well, eh?

Their both very selfless about themselves and selfish about each other, so I think that balances it out.

Thanks so much!
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