McCoy watching medical drama shows and yelling at the screen about what they’re doing wrong - "that’s not how you clamp an artery, you idiots! You call yourselves doctors!" - and by the end of it McCoy’s ranting about the lack of research and sheer inaccuracy of it and Jim’s just laughing like a hyena.
Sometimes, Jim just gets in a mood.
There isn’t always a reason. Sam used to make fun of him for it when they were kids, before Tarsus. He’d say Jim was on his period, because that is the sort of bizarre thing that 13-year-old boys say to their 9-year-old brothers when they’re sad for no reason.
But Jim’s not 9 years old anymore. (He’s not a brother anymore,either).
During his years alone in Riverside, he’d tried just about everything he could think of to shake the hopeless, useless, breathless feeling that would sometimes slip over him. He’d run until his legs gave out, drink himself into oblivion, get the shit kicked out of him in a bar fight.
(That last one almost worked, once, but the relief faded the second they stopped the bleeding and told him he was going to live. Being alive is what got him into this mess in the first place. Being born. Living, when so many others around him had died).
Over the years, people have offered him a lot of different solutions: Drugs, sex, adrenaline. He’s tried everything once.
So the first time Bones finds him curled into himself on his dormitory bed, unshaven and unshowered and unable to even lift his head and acknowledge that he’s alive, he knows what to expect. He’s sure Bones will have some hypospray tucked away for an infectious case of the blues, and it won’t work, but he might as well let him try.
Bones doesn’t try.
Instead, he climbs into the bed beside Jim. His arms anchor them together, legs tangling with Jim’s own beneath the covers like the roots of an ancient tree. He tucks Jim’s head under his chin, against the warm, delicate, Bones-smelling skin of his neck.
Jim breathes him in, and it feels like the first real breath he’s taken in days. Bones breaches the surface of his misery without a word, one hand impossibly large and warm against the back of Jim’s head.
He feels his chest start to loosen and thinks that there might be a cure, after all.
i’m starting to see why the studios were wary of ever releasing Stretch.
#usually i like to think mccoy was a charming little kid whom the world made ornery #but now i like the idea that he was angry and lonely and loving but struggling parents used to give him tribbles as a child #to make him calm down #or in lieu of a hug #until he realized the only way to get any real humanoid attention was to pitch a fit #and that’s why he’s walking around now as a grown man #shouting down the heavens #hoping someone will notice him #and after the transporter accident makes him a little kid again #people slowly start to piece it together #so when he’s finally returned to his normal age and size #he is subjected to repeated and aggressive hugs and cuddles from the entire bridge crew #and if you think a hug from spock is stifling #wait until scotty leaps at you (tags via spikeface)
“No don’t!” Jim cries. Or at least he tries to—it comes out less of an intelligible sentence and more of a high-pitched squeal, like a mouse or a little girl, and if he wasn’t currently scared out of his mind he would probably be embarrassed about that fact. Jim is plastered against Bones’ side, his head resting against a broad shoulder, and every sound he makes goes straight into Bones’ ear, causing the poor doctor to flinch.
Not that Bones is faring much better. He’s goddamn terrified and it’s all Jim’s fault. Let’s watch this scary movie, Bones! Yeah, real good idea. He pulls his feet closer to his body and tries to maneuver so that he can use Jim as a shield instead of the other way around. Horror films are stupid; they are very low down on the list of movies he actually enjoys, losing out even to the princess movies he occasionally gets suckered into watching with Jo. Blood and guts? Sure, okay, he’s a doctor after all. Psychological, mind-fuck murder crap? No thanks. But if it’s something Jim wants to watch, well… he’ll suck it up. For him.
The movie goes silent, except for the heavy breathing of the unfortunate sucker on screen—a sign the killer is about to strike. The following jump scare is predictable, but Bones can’t help the strangled sound that claws its way out of his throat. He buries his face in the side of Jim’s neck and Jim pulls up the pillow that was resting in his lap to block his own view of the television.
The rest of the movie progresses just like that—yelling and hiding, Bones frequently muttering I hate you into Jim’s skin. Almost three-quarters of the way through has ventriloquist dummies coming to life and both of them cowering under a blanket.
Jim crawls into Bones’ lap. “Bones,” he whispers. His eyes are squeezed tightly closed and their faces are less than an inch apart. “Can we turn it off?”
Bones nods, the movement knocking his nose against Jim’s. “Yeah. Yeah, I’ll do it,” he says. His voice is hoarse from fear. He feels silly, but at least he’s not alone.
A minute ticks by.
“You have to get off me, Jim.”
Jim shuffles off of Bones, lifting a knee over his lap like he’s dismounting a horse. The blanket is still wrapped over them both; blankets have magical, protective powers after all.
Bones exhales shakily. “Wish me luck.” He throws his side of the blanket off his head; a rush of cool air hits him full in the face and he takes a split-second to appreciate that at least his last breath won’t be stale and hot from being under a woolly blanket. He throws himself toward the coffee table where the tv remote is sitting. He presses the power button, probably with more force than necessary, and suddenly the room is bathed in complete darkness, and wow, that’s definitely worse than the movie actually playing. In reality, the table is probably less than three feet from the couch where he and Jim are sitting, but it feels like the distance of a ravine and he launches himself back at the couch, diving back under the protective cocoon of the blankets and into Jim’s arms.
“I’m alive!” Bones pants.
Jim just squeezes Bones tighter.
They stay like that for a while, Bones straddling Jim’s thighs and Jim with his face buried in the juncture of Bones’ neck and shoulder, until Bones decides to break the silence.
“I thought you said, and I quote, ‘horror movies are awesome!’”
Jim makes a sleepy, snuffly sound that Bones can’t help but find adorable. “I lied,” Jim admits. “They scare the bejeezus outta me.”
“I thought that’s what couples do, ya’know?” Jim rubs his cheek against Bones, the stubble of his growing beard irritating the skin. “They watch scary movies and hide under the blankets together.”
“Darlin’,” Bones says, pulling back slightly so he can look Jim in the face. They’re still underneath the blanket, but it’s been long enough that they’ve adjusted to the darkness and Bones can see Jim’s eyes glittering. “We don’t ever have to do somethin’ just ‘cause other folks do it. We’re not ones to fit some cookie cutter couple mold.”
“Thanks Bones.” Jim tries to give Bones a peck, but misses by a mile and gets his chin instead.
Bones huffs, forcing Jim to give a proper kiss, slow and sweet. “So no more scary movies then?”
“Oh, I dunno,” Jim says and even in the dark Bones can picture the smirk on Jim’s stupid face. Jim tries to wiggle his hips, it’s difficult with Bones’ full weight resting on him, but the message definitely gets across. “I kinda like how this turned out.”
"You busy tonight?" Bones nearly smacks himself in the face at the pathetic attempt to sound casual. He rubs a hand over the back of his neck and tries not to look as embarrassed as he feels.
They’re literally walking off the dock and into a flurry of press activity (mostly tabloids hoping to catch a glimpse of Jim). It’s the first time he’s really been able to talk to the kid. Jim’s been pretty much locked in his quarters since they left Nibiru and Bones has been locked in his head, planning this night.
Jim’s grin is a slow simmering meal in his Nana’s crock pot. The crock pot he hoped to use tonight to make Jim the home cooked meal he desperately wanted (Bones, I need non-replicated food like I need to get laid. Don’t you?)
Bones just wanted to confess how deeply, ridiculously, most likely fool-heartedly in love he was with his best friend. Finally. After five-years of keeping stupid silent.
"Probably go see the girls." Jim slipped on his sun-glasses, waved a hand to the reporters and followed security through the crowd.
Bones didn’t even want to ask who the girls were, did it even matter? before he too was ushered past the vultures and to his debrief.
If he believed in such things, he might have left a piece of his heart at the dock, suspended between space and terra, liminal and forgotten.
He decided to forgive Jim for his transgressions and planned something for the next night. Jim was a full, bright, red balloon, bouncing as he stopped by to grab something (kid was always forgetting pieces of himself somewhere, maybe like Bones’ forgot pieces of his heart). “A five-year mission! Dude. Do you know how cool that would be? Freedom. Just us and the black.”
He squeezed Bones’ arm then and his eyes were like the stars he imagined seeing on this so-called mission. Bones tried to be hopeful. Re-planned the meal. Figured the euphoria of a promotion couldn’t hurt his cause, right?
Jim never commed, never stopped by, never sent a message. The next he heard of his best friend was in the triage outside of what was once the Daystrom conference building.
He pushed through the crowd, of admirals, captains, men and women bleeding and ashen, ignoring his instinct to help, to stop, so that he could find Jim.
Jim was on the steps of the next building, shadowed by the collapsing beams of Daystrom, huddled and small. His complexion was the same as the grey officer suit he was required to wear.
"Jim?" He whispered, approaching like he did the animals he rescued outside the farmhouse.
The kid’s face crumpled and Bones wanted to crumple with him.
You can’t tell someone you love them in the middle of a inter-galatic man-hunt so Bones keeps his mouth shut.
He has a panic attack worse than when his father was sick in his office. He almost dies on a rock with his hand stuck in a torpedo. He whispers, I’m sorry, I love you, a million times that day. The staff thinks he’s gone nuts. He can’t find it in himself to care.
Nana always said that you could tell that something awful will happen if your beloved doesn’t say goodbye. He always thought that was a little general but Jim doesn’t say goodbye.
Bones never gets the chance to either.
As he stares down at Jim’s body bag, he doesn’t know what to do.
He knows there are steps to take, responsibilities to carry out but he fucking…he can’t breathe.
How could he never tell him?
How could he never do something so fucking simple?
He stumbles toward a chair, wonders if anyone will just hypo him out of this or if he’ll have to do it himself when the sweetest sound he’s ever fucking heard startles him from trying to become invisible.
The tribble purrs.
He’s on autopilot. He wonders if Jim will know how much he loves him when he wakes up. If he wakes up. When.
His favorite place in the world, the only place that matters is in the most fucking uncomfortable hospital chair, hand curled around Jim in the two weeks that it takes for him to wake up.
When he does and Bones checks him out (three times, with Boyce there for good measure and a fleet of nurses and other doctors too), he takes Jim’s hand again.
"Bones-" Jim licks his lips. A swipe of the bottom, the top. Bones melts.
Bones holds up his other hand. “Hold on.”
He takes a deep breath. Recalls all the pieces of his heart that he’d left behind. “I really have to tell you something.”
Select Japanese episode titles from the first season of Star Trek.