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Waking up in Vega-S

Chapter Text

Well, it wasn’t the first time McCoy had woken up like this. Head pounding, a sheen of sweat that made his clothes stick, slight nausea, and the light burning through his eyelids making everything worse. He was in a bed and hadn’t pissed himself, so that was plus.

 

He squinted his eyes open, trying to piece together where in the universe he was. Let’s see: Vega-S, weddi- no, shore leave. Hotel...Jim.

 

“Jim?” He groaned. Leonard patted around the mattress and found it was empty. He opened his eyes a little more, and called out to the room’s other bed. Nothing.

 

Shit.

 

With all the energy left at his disposal, Leonard sat up. Today was gonna suck even more if he had to spend it looking for his friend. Wearing nothing but a shirt and underwear, he stumbled his way out of bed and through his hotel room.

 

“Jim!”

 

Not in the other bed, not in the bathroom, or the closet. Panic was setting in- he remembered himself and Jim leaving the party, hanging out alone, doing something and then ending up back here together.

 

“Fuck.”

 

Bones snatched his clothes from the floor, kicking empty bottles of booze and wondering how the hell he was going to track down his friend. Jim was dead somewhere, he knew it. Choked on his own vomit, robbed and beaten, kidnapped in an Orion slave ring- was that a toe sticking out from the bed?

 

Leonard climbed back over his mattress, finding a familiar blond sandwiched between the wall and bed frame, wearing only black boxer briefs. McCoy’s concern subsided quickly into irritation.

 

“Jim, you fucking moron. Get up.”

 

“Hmm?” The younger man was slow to open his eyes, and was evidently very confused on how he ended up like this. McCoy stood and pushed the bed out of the way so Kirk could roll onto his back.

 

“Gave me a heart attack,” Bones huffed as Jim grimaced in pain.

 

“I can’t feel my arm,” he said, rolling his shoulder. “I can’t believe we live in 2267, and there’s still no cure for a hangover.”

 

Leonard flopped down on the opposite mattress and hummed in agreement. “Workin on it.” 

 

“I have no clue what happened last night. Did we, ...crash a wedding or something?”

 

“Must’ve,” Bones agreed, “I thought the same thing when I woke up.” Another groan. “I’m never drinking again.”

 

“I’m never drinking with you again, that’s for sure.”

 

It was hard to argue over who the worst drinker was. McCoy consumed alcohol more often, but Kirk almost exclusively drank to get wasted. Most of the time, they knew when to stop. Other times...it was like this.

 

Jim heaved himself up moseyed his way into the bathroom. He splashed cold water on his face and-

 

“Uh, Bones?”

 

“Yea?”

 

He came out white as a sheet.

 

“I think I got married last night.”

 

Leonard shot up to a seated position. Sure enough, Jim was wearing a ring- probably some cheap metal they used for Vega-S weddings. “To who? That random girl you danced with?”

 

Jim was already at the monitor, pulling up his record. Leonard watched the other man’s eyes go wide, and face go bright red.

 

“Who is it?”

 

You.”

 

“Don’t lie to me, Jim,” he threatened, pushing him out of the way to look at the screen. Jim fell onto the chair, staring into space as Leonard read with absolute certainty that Jim was now listed as Captain James T. Kirk-McCoy.

 

He swallowed. “Well, all we have to do is undo it.”

 

“We can’t do that.”

 

“What do you mean we can’t do that?” He snapped.

 

“Bones,” Jim shot back, hazel eyes flashing up at him, “Starfleet is automatically notified when marital status changes. What do you think they’ll say knowing a Captain and his CMO got so drunk they got hitched? We’ll be disgraced!”

 

Leonard tugged at his hair. “I’m sure we’re not the first to-“

 

Are you sure?” Jim asked, “Because I’m positive that I don’t want to find out.”

 

“We can’t stay married, Jim!”

 

“We don’t have to! As soon as our mission is over-“

 

“In three years? Are you insane?”

 

“We’re just pretending,” Jim pleaded, “It won’t matter. The only people who have access to our records are the higher ups. None of the crew is required to know.”

 

McCoy rubbed his face. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

 

“You want me to forgo a real relationship for-“

 

Jim’s laugh cut him off. “Aww, Bones, you’re not gonna cheat on me?”

 

“Will you shut the fuck up?”

 

Jim’s smile fell fast. Leonard was burning. How were they supposed to pretend they were married? How could he have done this?

 

“Ya know,” Jim said after a minute, “married couples have certain perks.” 

 

McCoy squinted at him. At this rate, he never wanted to see Jim again.

 

“You’re thinking of staying together? What, until we retire?”

 

“Well, I mean, it’s not like we have to change much,” Jim shrugged, “people already think we’re together.”

 

That was true. Since the academy, people occasionally asked Leonard if he and Jim were a couple. A few brave souls even commented that they’d make a good one. But to actually tie the knot with him- especially with Jim thinking this was joke?

 

“I can’t believe I fucked up two marriages in a row.”

 

“Oh, come on, Doc. I’m a good catch.”

 

In spite of everything, Leonard actually managed an exasperated chuckle. “Of all the people I could play house with, I guess you aren’t the worst.”

 

Jim gave him a half lidded look, evidently pleased with himself. “Careful, Bonesy, it sounds like you care about me.”



He picked up his pants, revealing a small band. “Ope, here’s your ring.”

 

Leonard caught it and put it on. Positively surreal. It was a cheap thing, but it would pass for genuine. Did he really just let Jim convince him to do this? It could definitely be worse, he decided. Christ, it could’ve been-

 

“Oh shit, are you gonna tell Spock?”

 

Kirk pursed his lips. “Probably should.”

 

Bones covered his face and laid back down. “God, I can already see his smarmy little face.”

Chapter Text

“Permission to speak freely, Captain?”

 

“Go ahead.”


The three had sequestered themselves and their coffee in a locked conference room. Jim and Leonard relayed, to the best of their memories, the events of the previous day. Spock, for his part, was thoroughly enjoying himself. The corners of his lips were upturned, eyebrows raised, and eyes gleaming. The bastard was practically cackling.

 

“You two should refrain from alcohol.”

 

“Duly noted, Mr. Spock,” Jim said with slight embarrassment, “But I’m more interested in a plan of action.”

 

“Certainly,” the Vulcan agreed, his eyes fluttering shut. He pulled up a monitor and commanded it to start taking notation.

 

Bones crossed his leg at the knee. “What that for?”

 

“The Captain is correct- the ruse needs to be maintained,” Spock explained, “Which means you will have to act like a married couple. I’ll help you construct answer cards with common questions and facts about yourselves.”

 

“You’re giving us homework?”

 

“Call it what you wish, Doctor. It’s a merely a practicality. Now,” he continued, “How did you meet?”

 

“Oh, this is exciting,” Jim sighed dreamily, “How about this: we locked eyes at an ambassador’s ball on Regis 11- no, no, on a beach in-“

 

“We met at the academy.”  

 

“You really should keep it simple, Captain.” Spock admonished, removing Jim’s contribution in favor of McCoy’s. Kirk sucked his teeth, but relented.

 

“When did you become lovers?”

 

Bones grimaced. He already wasn’t a fan of the word lover. It was so...hammy. Applied here was even worse.

 

“Easy,” Jim said, “First semester, we had a lab together.”

 

No,” Bones vetoed, leaning on his hand, “We’re not going to be academy sweethearts. Heaven knows if we were, we woulda been married after two weeks together.” He rubbed his face with one hand, suddenly struck with the realization that this was his life now.

 

“Besides,” he added, “I had just finalized my divorce when I enrolled with Starfleet, I wouldn’t’ve dated anyone.”

 

“Fine,” Jim once again conceded, slinging an arm on his chair, “shortly after assignment to the Enterprise then. That way, we’re together for two years before we got married.”

 

“That’s fair,” Leonard agreed, with Spock throwing in a small hum.

 

“Who initiated-“

 

“Me.” “Jim.” 

 

“-Okay.”

 

“What were your childhoods like?”

 

Bones rolled his eyes. “I dissected roadkill and my name is Leonard. Fill in the blank.”

 

Spock’s eyebrows knitted and Jim looked at him with abject horror.

 

“You what-“

 

“I wanted to be Surgeon-!“

 

“Serial killer more like-“

 

“They were already dead, Jim!”

 

“Why did you say it like being named Leonard was worse?”

 

Bones crossed his arms defiantly. “Oh, whatever. I’m sure you two did weird shit growing up.”

 

“Not that weird. Were you that weird?”

 

Spock shook his head. “No. No, I was not.”

 

Kirk chuckled. “Oo-Kay. Well, I was normal child, I suppose; a little nerdy and awkward, maybe, but surely not a budding psychopath.” He got a small glint in his eye. “Sam and I would play out in the neighbor’s cornfields just like we weren’t supposed to.” He tapped his foot twice. “Sam woulda liked you, Bones. Both of you, to be sure, but he would’ve gotten a real kick outta you.”

 

Leonard pursed his lips for a moment, unsure of what to say to that. He settled with a pat on the Captain’s leg. Spock looked between them before continuing.

 

“Why did you get married in Vega-S?”

 

“Well, it wasn’t planned,” Bones said.

 

“Don’t make it sound spontaneous,” Spock cautioned. “You preferred a smaller venue, and found Vega preferable as it was already on route.”

 

“Right,” said Jim, “we wanted something private, and made due with what we had.”

 

“Vows are more important than venue, anyway,” Leonard finished.

 

“That’s better,” Spock said, reading the notation. “Very well. This is one where no lying is required: who proposed?”

 

They exchanged a look.

 

“Well, it was one of us,” Leonard offered.

 

“I’m positive it was you,” Kirk said, eyes half lidded. “You’re such a romantic when you’re drunk.”

 

Bones turned red. “Yea right, like randomly getting married isn’t 100% a you move.”

 

“But you’re so chivalrous!” Jim teased with a nudge, “Plus, I was the one to ask you out, after all. Only fair that you propose.”

 

“No, you didn’t- oh, fine!” He bit his cheek. “I proposed a month before we stopped at Vega-S.”

 

It was like a game, sitting here and constructing reality. He took a sip of his coffee. Spock thumbed the table.

 

“What is your favorite thing about the other?”

 

“Oh, let’s see,” Jim mused, taking a good long look at Leonard. Deeply contemplative, he broke out into a wide grin. “Ah, I got it!”

 

“My favorite thing about my dearest Leonard is his heart. His medical mind is astounding, a true genius- but his heart outshines him. I’ve never known Bones to possess something that he did not offer someone else. He’s only grouchy because he cares, and I think that’s sweet.”

 

McCoy’s chest felt tight. It wasn’t often he was complimented, and especially not so extravagantly. He wanted to shake it from his mind- after all, this was Jim, and Jim complimented everyone like that. Even so, his fingers trembled, and he might of teared up if he were alone.

 

“That- that’s pretty good, Jim.”

 

“Oh- and his eyes are pretty. Put that in.” 

 

The Vulcan turned to him expectantly. “And you, Doctor?”

 

“I, uh...he’s got a real way with words.”

 

Jim laughed at him, and Spock’s eyelids fell.

 

“We’ll work on your answer later.”

 

Bones gritted his teeth. “Are we almost done?”

 

“Almost. Are you planning on having children?”

 

“Wha-“

 

“Yes!” Jim said with a snap, “But not for a while.”

 

Spock nodded in approval.

 

“And finally- why do you call him ‘Bones’?”

 

Jim snorted.

 

“Oh my god, Jim,” Leonard murmured.

 

Heh heh heh...”

 

“You are an infant.”

 

Hahahahaha-!” He slammed the table. Spock looked irritated, evidently not getting the joke.

 

“Captain-“

 

“Because,” Kirk said, his voice cracking as he wiped a tear from his eye, “Because he’s the sip’s shur- ship’s surgeon. Heh heh.”

 

Now satisfied, Spock took the memory card from the computer. He promised to make proper edits, and give good copies to each of them. Before making him his leave, he turned to the captain.

 

“A suggestion, sir?”

 

“Shoot.”

 

“You two play off each other quite well. However, if you’re to be successful, you should practice being intimate.”

 

Leonard choked on his coffee, and Jim’s eyebrows just about reached his hairline.

 

“That is, hand holding, kisses, and other public displays of affection.”

 

Jim gave him a strained smile. “Of course, Mr. Spock. Thank you again for your assistance.”

 

A nod, and the open and shut of doors.

 

Jim looked at Bones with a cautionary mirth.

 

“That went well.”

 

“Well, it went, anyway.”

 

Jim snickered again, and tapped the table.

 

“So...roadkill?”

Chapter Text

Jim was right about one thing: not much had changed. In the following weeks, he and Kirk kept the status quo. Bones still spent just as much time on the bridge (although it now felt invasive), he was still often with the Captain’s landing parties, and their friendship felt as solid as ever. He still half expected the crew to raise an eyebrow at them- to somehow know what happened- but since neither of them wore their rings, it’s not like anyone could.

They only drastic adjustment (and it was drastic, to be sure) were their interactions in private. They’d taken Spock’s advice, with some progress.

 

“Gimme five more seconds.”

 

“C’mon, Bones,” Jim panted as he strained against the machine, “ya know you mean thirty.”

 

Bones grunted in response, stopping the exercise after forty-five seconds due to nothing but pure spite. The captain’s skin glistened with sweat, and while he tried to stifle his breathing, he was clearly winded.

 

“Not bad,” Leonard hummed, “but you’ll have to do better than that if you want to keep those pounds off.”

 

Jim, the hotdog that he was, gave him an overly pouty look.

 

“Leonard, my love! You wound me!”

 

“Not so loud!” Bones hissed, “Do you want people to hear?”

 

“Bones, no one’s here. Besides,” he added, getting that mischievous glint of his, “maybe I do.”

 

He punctuated the statement with a quick peck- and blocking a hit from the doctor’s tablet.

 

“Hey- hey, that’s mutiny!”

 

“I’ll ‘mutiny’ ya!”

 

It wasn’t like he minded, really. Hell, most days he was so touch starved he’d hold hands with a goddamned cactus- but he couldn’t let Jim know that. That would be weird. Besides, Jim was only putting on this show to fuck with him, he didn’t actually care about creating a convincing cover.

 

“Am I interrupting, gentlemen?”

 

Jim straightened himself and gave Bones some space.

 

“Not at all, Mr. Spock. What is it?”

 

“We’re on course for Starbase 11, set to arrive in two hours.”

 

“Yes, I know. We’ll be hosting some diplomats to celebrate to induction of the new Gama colony, is that correct?”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

“Ah, no,” McCoy groaned, “That’s tonight? God, the last thing I wanna do is get dressed up for some stuffy tea party.”

 

“The food will be good, at least,” Jim consoled as he put his shirt back on.

 

“It’s not the dress code you should be concerned about, Doctor,” Spock pointed out, “Its your charade.”

 

“As far as our guests are concerned,” he continued, “You are newlyweds. It is vital you raise no suspicions.”

 

“And how might we do that?” Bones asked.

 

“Well, Doctor, you’ve been a newlywed before-“

 

“Ouch.”

 

“-That would make you the expert.”

 

Leonard gave a deep, resigned sigh. The frown that plagued his expression only deepened. “I guess. Jocelyn and I were pretty starry eyed at the start. Pet names ‘n all that bullshit.” He crossed his arms.

 

Jim gave him a once over, but Spock hardly blinked.

 

“Have you two memorized your answer cards?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Of course!”

 

“Good. I will have the meeting room prepared.”

 

———————-

 

Honeydoll? Really?”

 

“Bones, I-“

 

“Not honey, not doll- honeydoll.”

 

“Real rich coming from the guy who called me cinnamon stick. Why don’t you just call me a churro instead?”

 

“I called Jocelyn cinnamon-“

 

“You gave me the same nickname as your ex-wife? Wow.”

 

The pre-dinner small talk hadn’t been so bad, save the awkwardness of pretending to be all over each other. The diplomats milled around in their big hair and ornate jewelry or finely embroidered suits, and the pair separated to mingle.

 

Ambassadors never quite looked like they were listening, but if Leonard knew one thing, it’s that they always were. You’d tell them something once and they’d ask you about it a decade later. Jim was kind of like that himself; the type who socialized with purpose. He was much better fit for this environment.

 

As if on cue, an arm latched onto his.

 

“Come on, Bones, I have to show you off.”

 

Jim dragged him off to a group of blushing women that he’d no doubt had just been flirting with. They fawned over him and Kirk because (according to them) they were simply the most darling couple ever. That wasn’t too bad, either. Mostly just congratulations and questions they’d prepared for. For the umpteenth time he was saying that they wanted only one child (although Jim kept insisting on three for reasons that were beyond him) when the chime sounded, signaling that it was time to eat.

 

Per Spock’s adamant insistence, Jim sat at the head of the table with McCoy on his right. (“Spouses are always the right, Doctor.”) He heavily doubted anyone would notice or care, but he supposed that the devil was in the details.

 

Chatter resumed quietly while the food was brought in by ensigns. Captain Kirk tapped his glass in a call for attention. When the party was in silence, he stood.

 

“On behalf of the Enterprise and her crew, I welcome all of you aboard!” He cheered, “I propose a toast- to the Federation, the success of the Gama Colony, and the continued betterment of the galaxy!”

 

The guests gave a few muted (but enthused) cheers, followed by the standard clinks.

 

Soon after, the servers left, leaving only Spock, Kirk, and McCoy alone with the guests. Ambassador Todht, seated at the other end of the table, looked shyly at the captain as a smile tugged on her lips.

 

“That’s very kind of you, Captain,” she said. “I also want to congratulate you again on your marriage.”

 

The party cheered again, with more emphasis this time.

 

“I always ask couples this,” Todht continued, “but what is your love story?”

 

It wasn’t often Kirk blushed, but he was noticeably red. “I- I’m not quite sure what you mean, Ambassador.”

 

“Well, how did you meet?”

 

“You already know that, ma’am,” Leonard chimed in, “at the academy.”

 

“Okay,” she conceded, “Then how about this: when did you realize the other was the one?”

 

The three exchanged a look- Spock looked downright panicked- this was not on the answer cards.

 

Kirk cleared his throat.

 

“Ah, well,” he recovered, “this is going to sound awfully cliche, but it was love at first sight for me.”

Of fucking course it was.

“He sat next to me on the shuttle to the academy and I was just absolutely smitten.” He looked at him with glittering eyes and Leonard wondered briefly if there was a single moment in Jim’s life where he wasn’t tooth achingly sappy.

 

The guests sighed and gushed, immediately shifting their focus.

 

“And you, Doctor?”

 

“As soon as I realized he wasn’t going to leave me alone.” Chuckles bubbled up, and he continued, deciding to hold Jim’s hand for good measure. “But seriously... Jim saved my life after my first marriage failed.”

 

That much was true. The two of them were in their own little worlds when they met. Jim was far less sure of himself, a nerdy bookworm, and Bones was reeling from the death of his father, followed soon by his divorce and just about every ounce of stability he had left. Despite being a somewhat unlikely pair, they’d leaned into each other.

 

It was obvious they wanted to hear more, and so he delivered.

 

“By the time he asked me out, I knew I had feelings for him. We’d navigated the academy together, and now we get to navigate life together, too.”

 

He met Spock’s gaze and found that his eyes were wide and his head tilted ever so slightly. Was he...impressed?

 

Of course he was. Why the hell wouldn’t he be? He and Jim were selling this thing hard- the ambassadors seemed to be as enamored with them as they (supposedly) were with each other.

 

From there, dinner rolled on with relative ease. Talks about Gama’s role and fledging culture dominated the conversation. Ensigns occasionally checked in to make sure everything was alright.

 

While everyone sipped their coffee, Ambassador Todht stood.

 

“I know this isn’t customary,” she said, “but I’d simply feel awful if I didn’t properly toast-“

 

The dining room doors opened.

 

“-to the happiness our newlyweds-“

 

The ensign froze.

 

“-Captain and Doctor Kirk-McCoy!”

 

She backed away.  The doors closed.

 

“To many fulfilling years together, gentlemen!”

 

The guests all cheered, but Kirk’s smile was plastered on with far too much effort.

 

“Thank you, ambassador,” he said through gritted teeth.

 

Spock and Bones shared another look, though this time they were both wide eyed.

 

Do something!’ Bones mouthed to the Vulcan. Coming to his senses, he coughed and excused himself from the table. He left in the direction the ensign headed, no doubt in hot pursuit to swear her to secrecy- or kill her, hopefully.

 

Jim’s smile still hadn’t met his eyes, but at least his teeth moved.

 

“So,” he said, slamming the table, “Who wants cake?”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

James T. Kirk knew a disaster when he saw one. Another man (more specifically, Bones) would describe their current predicament as a disaster, but no siree, not him. This was a...hiccup. Yes, a teeny tiny little inconvenience.

 

He knew the cat was out of the bag the moment he stepped into the hall. Well, really, the first cat was out of the bag- no one knew the marriage was a fluke. Or, the marriage was the bag, with the extenuating circumstances regarding the union as the cat inside it, with the bag also tucked away for some time. The bag was out of the bag?

 

In any case, more irritating than the whole crew knowing was that they acted like he didn’t know they knew. He passed people in the hall- their eyes darted to him and then away. Or, worse still, they didn’t look at him at all.

 

Bones sat at his chair, drink in hand. He didn’t look at Jim when he came in.

 

“Little early for that, don’t you think?”

 

“It’s coffee.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“With whiskey in it.”

 

Bones!”

 

He grabbed the cup (with a surprisingly weak protest from Leonard) and dumped it in the sink. The doctor sat with his lips pursed and arms crossed. Jim had the very brief urge to punch him, but ignored it.

 

“This is a disaster.”

 

“No it...” he sighed, “I know. No one even spoke to me today.”

 

Oh?” Leonard remarked bitterly, “Lucky you. I already had a yeoman ask me what you were like in bed.”

 

Jim gave him a once over. “What’d you tell her?”

 

“I told her to leave.”

 

The doctor shifted in his chair. He inhaled deeply, his face twisting in a way that almost perfectly conveyed his thoughts. Kirk knew where this was going before he spoke.

 

“Jim, I think we oughta give this up.”

 

“On the contrary, Bones, we have to double down.”

 

Leonard was incredulous. “It wasn’t so bad when no one knew, but-“

 

“But now they know,” Jim said defiantly, “and it’s even more imperative that we maintain the act.”

 

“What do you expect me to do?”

 

“I expect you to stick to our agreement. Now where’s your ring?”

 

“Ji-“

 

“The ring!”

 

Bones stood gruffly, jerked opened  the drawer and threw the band on its surface. In one move, Jim smacked his hand on the ring, grabbed McCoy’s wrist, and slid it onto his finger.

 

“We can do this!” He said in a hushed tone. “I need to- we need to- maintain the crews’ confidence. Now, are you with me?”

 

Leonard looked at him with bored, half lidded eyes.

 

“Wrong hand.”

 

Jim turned a light pink, but his expression remained the same.

 

“Are you with me, Bones?”

 

Everyone on the bridge turned to look at the pair (except Spock, who didn’t move an inch) then almost immediately hulked back over their stations.

 

Kirk took his seat, crossed his legs, and heaved a deep sigh.

 

“Does anyone have anything they’d like to say?”

 

The answer was yes- and all at once.

 

“We’re so happy for you,” Uhura said, “But...this is so sudden.”

 

“I didn’t even know you two were together,” Sulu added.

 

“I did!” Chekov interjected.

 

“You did,” Kirk said, more of a statement than a question. “I’m surprised.”

 

“I’m not,” muttered Bones.

 

“Yes,” Nodded Chekov, “but vhy hide?”

 

“Ya dinny tell us because you thought we’d disapprove, did ye?” Scotty asked.

 

Jim and Leonard exchanged a look.

 

“Ah, well,” Kirk said, “it seems foolish now, but at the time, I was worried that ...with my spouse on board, the crew might, um...see it as a conflict of interest.”

 

Leonard placed a hand on his shoulder. Falling into the groove now, Kirk took that hand and kissed it.

 

“But,” he said, “now that everything’s out in the open, we can be a normal couple.”

 

Goodie.


“Aw, you can share a room,” Uhura suggested, “Should I send a security team to help you move?”

 

Jim blinked.


Fuck
.

 

He smiled. 

 

“That would be lovely, Lieutenant, thank you. Have them move Dr. McCoy’s-“

 

Leonard cleared his throat. “I’d prefer if you moved into my room, dear.”

 

Kirk was immediately ready to argue, but Bones looked at him expectantly. He had been pushy with the doctor all morning (and in general). He could certainly relent on this one point. Marriage was all about compromise, wasn’t it?

 

“Of course, darling,” he murmured, earning a few giggles from the bridge, “Yes, Uhura, I think a team of five should do it. Tell them to only move the non attached furniture from my room to Leonard’s. I can move my personal belongings and arrange everything to our liking.”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

Spock had yet to turn around. Jim has spent considerable time learning his subtle body language- he didn’t need to see his face to know he was embarrassed.

 

“Something the matter, Mr. Spock?”

 

The Vulcan’s shoulders pinched closer together, but he swiveled you face Kirk, poker face at the ready.

 

“What I fail to understand,” he started, “Is why ensign Jones spoke out. She gave her word that she wouldn’t tell anyone, and yet she did. Prior to this incident, I knew her to be an honest person.”

 

The bridge was quiet for a moment. Bones leaned on the railing.

 

“Did you tell her best friends count?” He asked dryly.

 

He opened his mouth to respond, closed it, and tilted his head.

 

“Should I have?”

 

“I wouldn’t worry so much, Mr. Spock,” Jim consoled with a wry chuckle, “Two people can only keep a secret if one of them’s dead.”

 

Spock’s brows twitched. “I think the three of us did quite well.”

 

“Because the three of us are best friends,” Bones countered, “No one else to tell.”

 

“We’re best friends, Doctor?”

 

Leonard’s eyes narrowed.

 

“Through marriage.”

 

—————-

 

“God, I wasn’t expecting them to be so supportive about it,” Kirk murmured taking off his shirt to get ready for bed, “It makes me feel awful to lie to them.”

 

“As well you should,” Bones responded, already lying down in his night clothes, “But I expected all of them to be ok with the idea. Homophobia is a touch archaic, don’t you think?”

 

“It’s not that,” Kirk huffed, kicking off his shoes and socks. He was almost immediately met with two odor neutralizing packets that Bones threw at him. “Being a married captain is different from being single,” he continued, obediently dropping the packets in, “Being married to a man doesn’t help, even if they take no issue with homosexuality. Stereotypes, you know.”

 

“Most people view marriage as a stabilizing factor,” Leonard responded, eyes closed and hand behind his head.

 

“-Or an aggravating one,” the captain countered, “I wasn’t exactly lying about the conflict of interest. If we’re put in a situation, the crew can’t think I’m going to put their lives in danger to save you.”

 

McCoy’s eyes were open now, and he propped himself on his elbows. “You’d save anybody if you thought you could. They know that.”

 

Kirk shook is head. “It’s perception that matters. If I pull a stunt to save some ensign, I’m a dedicated captain. I do the same for you, and it’s reckless endangerment and I’m emotionally compromised.”

 

“It’ll be fine, Jim. Now can you please put on your pajamas and go to bed?”

 

As Jim stood there in his underwear, his lips curled inwards.

 

“Jim?”

 

“I... I don’t.”

 

“Whatday’a mean yo- oh. Oh my god you sleep naked, don’t you?”

 

“It-“

 

“Of fucking course you do.”

 

“Makes me feel free.”

 

“Ew!”

 

He caught the pillow Bones chucked at him and had a decent laugh.

 

“I’ll keep the undies on, just for you.”

 

The Doctor huffed loudly, and Jim crawled in next to him. 

Chapter Text

Stardate: 18753.7. Passing through a solar system in uncharted space, we were pulled into a planet’s orbit against our will.

 

“Mr. Spock, status report.”

 

“I don’t understand, Captain. The planet’s gravitational pull is no where near strong enough to have forced us off course.”

 

“Could it be artificial?” Sulu offered.

 

“I see no other alternative- but our scanners indicated there were no life forms on the surface.”

 

Kirk’s brow furrowed. That couldn’t be right. “Look for unusual formations. There has to be a power source somewhere.”

 

“Captain!” Uhura gasped, “Something has infiltrated the ship’s computers. Everything’s being scanned.”

 

The ships systems whirred as Spock, Uhura, and another officer tried to ward off the technological invasion.

 

“Captain, I can’t stop it,” the Vulcan said, “it’s pulling up the data files of crew members, I- Captain?”

 

At some point, the First Officer began talking to an empty chair.

 

“Nurse Chapel to Bridge, acknowledge!”

 

“Spock here.”

 

“It’s Doctor McCoy- he’s vanished! Right before my eyes!”

 

“Acknowledged.”

 

He stood up straight, slipping into role as acting commander.

 

“Lieutenant Sulu, the helm. Lieutenant Uhura, send a security team to meet me at the transporter room immediately. Attempt contact with the Captain and Doctor, relay a constant message of warning to the planets surface.”

 

“Yessir.”

———-

Not for the first time, James Kirk found himself plucked from his ship and imprisoned on an alien planet. Of all the cages he’d been in, this was the most...notable. He’d been placed in his childhood bedroom, in Iowa. Only that was impossible- so he was instead in a replica of said room. And, damn, was it better than he remembered.

 

The synthetic hardwood, his desk, planetary systems lining the walls and Federation Ship replicas hanging from the ceiling, his computer, bed, files, old toys and games- everything, laid out like his 10 year old self might come through the door at any moment.

 

He made a reach for his communicator, realizing then he wasn’t wearing his Starfleet uniform, but instead normal clothes. Not new, they were believably worn- scuffed shoes and little tears and stains. Considering the emerging pattern, the outfit was probably derived from his early years, even though he didn’t actively recall it.

 

The captain stood, scanning the the place for anything unusual. Catching a glance at the mirror, he nearly flinched.

 

His ten-year-old self was in the room- sort of. He looked with wonder at his reflection. Matching his astonishment was himself, exactly as he looked in childhood. He didn’t feel like he was ten, but when he touched his face, the reflection did, too.

 

Around others, Jim was highly skilled at masking his emotions. In evidential solitude, though, a quiet panic manifested in his face. He took a few stifling breaths- after all, in all likelihood he was being watched- but little Jimmy was still very obviously disquieted.

 

“I don’t know who you think you are,” Kirk announced to the air around him, “But I want answers and I want them now. Why am I here? What did you do with my crew?”

 

The only response he got was a muffled chime from outside. His...doorbell?

 

Ready for anything, he opened his bedroom door, to find the one thing he truly wasn’t prepared for: the rest of his old house. Jim briefly wondered if his mother or Sam would pop out to see him, but the space felt empty, and more eerie as a result. They’d even managed to get the creaking stairs correct.

 

Instead of answers, the door revealed another person- a young boy...or someone who currently looked like one. Messy brown hair, blue eyes, with clothes that looked slightly oversized, and a baseball and glove. Jim eyed him with suspicion.

 

“Hey, Jimmy,” the boy greeted, “you gonna play ball with me?”

 

Kirk fully planned to decline, inquire on what the hell was going on, but the words that left his mouth were instead:

 

“Sure, man, let me get my glove.”

 

His head jerked left, where a glove that was positively not there a second ago waited on a table. Obviously, whoever was in charge not only had the capacity for illusions, but bodily control.

 

And...so they did. The world was so well constructed around them, and as Jim looked for some flaw in the veneer, he simply couldn’t find one. His mind raced, but for the life of him he couldn’t come up with any reason why someone- anyone- would do this.

 

Given that all of his actions were now involuntary, he knew those bastards made him miss the ball on purpose. It cracked against his face, knocking him to the ground and turning his nose into a spigot of blood. He’d certainly felt like something hit his face, but the pain wasn’t nearly severe as it should’ve been, and lacked the dull sting usually associated with a knock like that. Still, whoever was constructing all this had him sitting on a dusty yard and crying as though blow were real. 

 

His new friend ran over to him.

 

“Jimmy! You ok?”

 

The brunette leant him a hand, tugging him to his feet.

 

“Yer nose is bleedin’ real bad, bud,” his...southern acquaintance noted, “we oughta get ya in the house ‘n fix ya up right quick.”

 

Still holding hands, Jim was lead inside, to his kitchen. He quietly ached for the days his mom would make real food while he and Sam played games. God, what a strange place for a bout of nostalgia.

 

He plopped down on a stool, studying the boy as he grabbed a wet rag. Certainly no childhood friend of his, it had to be crew member. But who? Much to his chagrin, the kid wiped his mouth for him- which, to be clear, even at ten he wouldn’t have allowed- but he also ended answering his own question.

 

“Thanks, Lenny.”

 

Oh. Right. So that’s what Bones looked like at ten. 

 

“No problem. I wanna be Doctor when I grow up.”

 

Jim was briefly worried that Bones had somehow lost all autonomy, but when they made eye contact, he was comforted by the fact that they were just as clear as usual, and also completely encompassed by rage. Yep, that was Bonesy alright, and he might’ve been frazzled by these strange circumstances, but damned if he wasn’t pissed about them too. Shame there was no discernible way to communicate a plan...not that he had one.

 

With no other options, and with a heavy heart, he decided to resign himself to circumstance and keep an eye out for answers.

 

His line of thought was interrupted by a peck in the cheek. Young Leonard looked at him shyly.

 

“My mama says kisses make things better.” Was the offered explanation.

 

Yea right. Like any 10-year-old human boy would pull a stunt like that. Certainly not the same one who admitted to dissecting dead animals for fun, that’s for sure.

 

Hyperrealistic as this illusion was, it certainly wasn’t grounded in reality.

 

—————-

 

“Mr. Spock, if I try again your atoms are gonna end up in the air vents,” Scotty admonished.

 

The Vulcan stepped off the warp pad, concluding that this juncture was no longer logical. What else was there?

 

“Bridge to transporter room, Uhura speaking.”

 

“Spock here. Any answers?”

 

“I received one response from the planet’s surface, and now I’ve lost all ability to contact them.”

 

“What did they say?”

 

“To...stop interrupting their fun.”

 

Spock clenched his jaw. Fun. 

Chapter Text

Piece by piece, the illusion deconstructed around them. Cabinets compressed inwards, than the whole wall would disappear. The ceiling and floor followed, though they were still on steady ground. The outside went square by square, until the only thing left was a blank white nothingness. The two exchanged a look, and found themselves in their normal bodies.

 

“What the hell is going on,” Leonard asked, rolling his shoulders.

 

“I don’t know, but you know what it remi-“

 

The Captain stopped himself, observing that a new illusion started up again. Walls came back up, forming shapes McCoy would’ve rather forgot.

 

Hayden County High School. The second worst four years of his life.

 

From the looks of it, this was senior prom. They stood in front of the double doors leading into the cafeteria, where songs he hadn’t heard for years blared from the other side. Now fully controlled again, Jim took his hand and lead him to the end of the hall, where it was quieter.

 

“I’m so sorry she stood you up,” Kirk comforted, straightening Leonard’s lapel. Who ‘she’ was, the Doctor wasn’t sure. He hadn’t actually gone to prom.

 

“Yea,” he agreed, lip quivering, “I don’t care that much. R-really.” The tears started to fall- internally, he was just about ready to roll his eyes.

 

Jim pulled him in close. “You know you’re my best friend, right?” Instead of answering, Leonard only nodded.

 

Gingerly, Jim interlocked their hands, and placed the other on Bones’ shoulder. He found his free hand on Jim’s waist. Kirk started to sway, and Leonard looked on in confusion.

 

“Well, it is a dance, isn’t it? We should dance!”

 

Soon, Bones got into the groove. They loosened up a bit, spinning each other, pressing against each other in a mock tango walk. It might’ve eveno been enjoyable if it wasn’t all fake.

 

When the illusion collapsed, Jim reviewed his findings.

 

“Well, they got rid of my acne and stutter,” he mentioned, “so they aren’t beholden to an accurate appearance.”

 

In a weird way, Kirk was grateful for that much. His terrible skin and speech impediment had been the bane of his existence. It was nothing short of a miracle he didn’t have craters and acne scars. Even now, he kept concealer in his room. As for the stutter, he’d treated that himself, developing a strange cadence to avoid it.

 

“We’re always the last ones to be controlled,” McCoy added, “We have time to figure out where we are.”

 

Jim nodded, and this time they were ready for anything.

 

What they got was their old dorm, at the academy. Only difference was that they were still the same age, somewhere in the mid twenties range. In reality, Leonard was already a doctor when he joined Starfleet- the events leading to enlistment being the definitive worst four years of his life. He’d hated dorm life, of course but Jim made it bearable, and then made it fun.

 

Jim really had saved his life.

 

In any case, the set up in front of them was something they’d actually done a number of times: their desks were pushed together in a makeshift dinner table, laid out with food. They used to get a little bit of everything from the cafe and share, but the illusion constructed food that looked like it came out of a restaurant- complete with a candle, of course.

 

Jim sat down nervously, but Leonard was amused.

 

“What’s all this about, Jimmy?” he asked as he took a seat across from him.

 

Kirk cleared his throat. He took a swig of water, but he wasn’t actually drinking anything.

 

“Well, uh, we’ve been friends for forever, and...don’t get mad.”

 

Was this...a love confession? Is that what this illusion thing was about? But why?

 

“I’m not gonna get mad,” Bones chuckled. He probably would’ve immediately have gotten pissed at the mere request that he not get mad- especially if that request was coming from James Tiberius Kirk. Whoever was in charge here clearly knew nothing of his character.

 

“Lenny, I...”

 

Ugh, Lenny. The only people  who’d ever called him Lenny was his nana and pop-pop, and his third grade teacher from the Auron sector who just had the most awful time with English vowel sounds.

 

This time, Kirk had tears in his eyes. Do these people know there were other emotions than sad or happy?

 

“I love you.”

 

Bones started to laugh at him, which internally, was jarring to the point of absurdity.

 

“Love you, too. You’re my best friend.”

 

Ouch. Kirk looked hurt. “No, I...I want to be with you. Romantically.”

 

Now, given, it’d been awhile, but Leonard was quite sure this isn’t how people went about confessing their love for one another.

 

In any case, he was taken aback. “Well, I...do you mean it? Really?”

 

Jim brightened up almost instantaneously.

 

“Of course! I’ve loved you for years!”

 

“Me too! I- I can’t believe this happening!”

 

The two jumped to their feet and- oh no- Kirk hopped on him, legs around his hips. Wasn’t too bad. Maybe Leonard was stronger than he thought?

 

He wasn’t. The scene went away and his knees buckled like two paper straws in a hot tub.

 

Fuck!” The doctor hollered, pushing the other man off him, “What the hell is wrong with these people?” 

 

Jim didn’t respond, opting instead to get up and sprint into the nothingness, arms out in front, until he crashed into a wall.

 

A wall.

 

Kirk whipped around to talk, but Bones was already trying to find the other end. They were in a room, of course. The doctor took off in the opposite direction, running about forty or fifty feet until he hit the horizon. Or, a picture of it, anyway.

 

The scene was reconstructing. It was strange, they seemed to be in the same field as before, from the first scene, with the same house- only this time yard wasn’t empty, and he and Jim weren’t alone.

 

The whole thing seemed to be set up for a wedding. There was a white arch in front of the porch, and an officiant who was...Spock?

 

In the rows were people from his past and present. He tried to ignore the pang in his chest when he caught sight of his parents, Joanna, and his sisters from the first line of chairs. In addition were crew members, and people be assumed were Winona and Sam Kirk, along with Sam’s wife and kids. All of them looked back, beaming at him as he stood at the end of the aisle. None of the family members  could be real, but how were they being constructed? Were the people from the Enterprise real? Was Spock even a registered minister?

 

He didn’t have much time to consider, as Jim emerged from the house dressed in a white suit and took his place next to Spock. Ah, so Leonard was the bride? At least he was in a suit too, he would’ve pitched a fit if they’d put him in a gown-not that there was anything wrong with wearing women’s clothes. He just never cared much for lace or satin.

 

Anyway, the music queued and he found himself walking to be married to someone he was technically already married to. At the very least, he was spared the heartache involved with looking at his estranged loved ones again. Instead, he felt all eyes in him, while he was forced to keep his gaze on the captain.

 

The two said their vows, and Spock pronounced them husband and husband. They kissed- Jim dipped him like a dance partner- something that felt both surreal and very on brand, and then...

 

“Oh, Kandar, what a wonderful story!”

Chapter Text

Leonard opened his eyes and nearly jumped out of his skin. Where Spock was, now stood an entirely new entity. Kandar, he presumed.

 

“I loved them being childhood friends,” said a voice in the crowd, who one second ago was masquerading as nurse chapel.

 

“Um,” Jim started, “Wh-“

 

“And the wedding!” Another piped up, “So cute!”

 

The Spock imposter joined them and exchanged commentary. Bones stepped closer to Jim.

 

The aliens were humanoid, with very little  clothes. Their eyes were huge and came in dazzling colors- no pupils or irises though. None that he could see, anyway- they reminded him of those offensive cartoons of aliens he’d learned about in history class. Their skin was downright dazzling- some changed hues, blues and reds and greens, others were covered in stripes and splotches. Although completely hairless and otherwise rather offputting, they weren’t necessarily ugly. Kind of striking in the same vein an octopus might be.

 

Kirk grew steadily more irate as more of the group added their comments.

 

“Can I have some answers, please?” The captain shouted, bringing the giggles to halt. The group still gawked at them though, and Bones heard whispers of how cute they looked together. He took a step back.

 

“Forgive us, Captain,” one said, breaking into the front of the group. “I suppose owe you a proper introduction. We are Aphradines, I am T’kai.”

 

“Why are we here, why the simulation?”

 

“Oh, aren’t they wonderful?” One said, “You humans are so creative!”

 

Jim put his hands on his hips. “I’m not sure I understand. What’s humanity got anything to with this?”

 

The group went back to giggling.

 

“What?” Leonard asked, “You don’t have love stories here?”

 

“I want to do mine next!” One chirped.

 

“Now wait a minute-“ Kirk cut in, but it was too late. The Aphradines vanished, leaving the two alone.

 

“Well, there’s thats the who,” Bones murmured.

 

“Yes, but still no ‘why’.”

 

————————

 

“Sir, power is returning again.”

 

“Good. Continue scanning for life forms.”

 

The Enterprise was being held hostage by whatever force had taken the captain and doctor. The transporter rendered useless, engines and equipment unresponsive, and nothing but static from the communication channels. At seemingly random intervals, though, for approximately forty-five seconds, control would be relinquished back to the ship.

 

Chekhov sucked his teeth. “Gone again! At this rate, it’ll take days to comb the whole planet!”

 

“Yes,” Spock agreed, “It appears we are little more than sitting geese.”

 

The navigators exchanged a look.

 

Without their communicators, the two would have to be located via a life form scan. Simultaneously, they were searching for the power source controlling all this- with any luck, the pair would be nearby. Although it would take much longer, Spock had opted to use detailed scanners, to ensure nothing would be missed. Broad scanners would save time, but were only designed for finding large forms, and would completely overlook two humans.

 

He’d considered sending a search party, but that was not a rational solution. Risking five for the sake of two, even the Captain and CMO, would be illogical. Some intervals between power surges would last a few minutes, others close to an hour. There was no telling how long a party would be stranded on the surface.

 

No, the Vulcan maintained that this was the correct course of action. Mr. Chekhov was wrong, though. It would not take days to locate the prisoners, because they simply could not afford to wait that long. In a mere thirty-six hours, Spock would have to relinquish the search, and instead use a window of freedom to escape and save the ship.

 

Worry was illogical. Spock was doing everything within his power to retrieve his friends. The sensation was gone the moment it cropped up. Hope was illogical as well, but he held onto that.

 

He couldn’t begin to imagine what forms of torture Jim and Leonard were enduring while they waited for rescue.

 

——————-

 

Jim wasn’t entirely sure what a coffee shop was, but the Aphradines apparently found them to be delightful. This was  the third story like this in a row. How many awkward flirting and blushes could they manage before they got tired of it?

 

In the first one, he and Bones were coworkers, who would brush hands while filling orders. In the second, Bones was his boss who was torn between pursuing a relationship and keeping it strictly business. That one ended with Jim quitting so they could be together and opening a flower shop right next door.

 

This time around McCoy was a costumer who came in on Jim’s shift, near closing time. A doctor working the nights, Bones would be his last costumer who Jim would let sit and rest while he closed up. Like the others, it was unbearably sweet, and built up over couple of dry, repetitive scenes. And of course, by the end they were a couple. 

 

“Jim, I dunno how much more of this I can take,” Bones murmured after yet another love confession was exchanged.

 

“Agreed,” the captain replied, “we need to get out of here, and soon. In no time they’ll graduate to something more adult.”

 

McCoy huffed. “Least that would be interesting.” 

 

Jim shot him a look. Arms akimbo once more, he turned his attention to the white void. “Alright, we’ve played your games long enough. Bones and I aren’t a couple, and I’m tired of you acting like we are.”

 

A voice echoed from all around them, with such clarity it could’ve been coming from their own heads.

 

“But you should be, Captain.”

Chapter Text

“We...should be?” Bones echoed. “How do you figure that?”

 

Once again, their captors appeared before them. As they explained themselves, their skins splashed with color, shifting as they spoke.

 

Aphradines, like most humanoids, were mated for life. Unlike any humanoid they’d encountered before, this process was conducted artificially. When the time came to settle down, an individual’s brain scan was compared to others until a perfect match was found. Not having had any visitors in millennia, they reeled in the Enterprise and out of curiosity scanned all of the ships records and libraries, as well as the mind of everyone on board.

 

In the computer’s infinite wisdom, it had found the doctor and captain to be a suitable coupling. “Perfect” as described by one enthused, teal alien.

 

“That’s ridiculous,” Bones dismissed, “You can’t measure love with computers.”

 

“We haven’t had a separation in almost two thousand of your earth years,” T’kai countered, smattering green. “And all mates are perfectly fulfilled.”

 

“How would you know?” The doctor huffed, “None of you have ever been with anyone else!”

 

Jim wondered if the colors on the Aphrodines’ skin was a means of expressing emotion. In any case, they didn’t seem to to be picking up Bones’ growing irritation. It was possible they were simply ignoring him, but with the healthy flush on Bone’s face, he might simply be giving mixed signals.

 

It was clear the aliens were in no way interested with discussion. Any minute now, they’d start up the next simulation and they’d be controlled for who knows how long. No, the group wouldn’t let them go; Kirk needed the Enterprise to rescue them.

 

Jim broke into a wide grin, snaking his arm around McCoy’s waist.

 

“Well, I simply adore your work,” he purred as the group of authors turned shades of yellow, orange, red and pink, “And I want to share them my crew!”

 

Bones looked incredulous. “Jim, what the hell-“

 

Jim planted a kiss on his temple, whispering a quick “Trust me,” under the cover of swooning.

 

“T’kai,” he said, nuzzling Bones’ further, “I want the best story you have.”

 

——————

 

Lieutenant Sulu had just picked up what appeared to be an artificial structure when the viewing screen came to life on its own accord. On it were Jim and Leonard- alive and well, and...on the Enterprise? A replica of it, anyway.

 

As the bridge realized what was happening, they fell into an uneasy stiffness. It was certainly a relief to know the two weren’t facing unimaginable horrors at the hands of sadistic aliens, but the plot unfolding before them didn’t make for a much better view.

 

The pair talked alone in what appeared to be the engineering deck- a setting no doubt chosen by someone with little understanding of where either of them operated, or that engineering was the last place you’d want to rendezvous. Jim and Bones seemed unharmed, but their movements were slightly off kilter, and word choice uncharacteristic.

 

Uhura spoke. “It’s...a play.”

 

“Yeah,” Chekov agreed, “a bad one.”

 

Apparently, Jim was soon to be married, but had begun an illicit affair with McCoy. The lighting and dialogue played up the high drama for an otherwise straight forward and cliche storyline. The Vulcan felt an emotion crop up, but he couldn’t quite name it. It was...painful, in the same way embarrassment was, but in a more abstract way. The humiliation didn’t stem from the usual sources, but just because...the story wasn’t good? What was that called?

 

“Leonard, we can’t keep seeing each other like this,” Jim sighed, his head jerking down as he gripped a vertical pipe.

 

“But darling!” McCoy pleaded, placing a hand on Kirk’s shoulder that was quickly swatted away.

 

“No!” Jim protested, “My mating ritual is only in a few time units away!”

 

He barely had time to register the obvious translation errors before the next line hit him.

 

“But I love you,” Bones insisted.

 

“Yes, I know,” Jim wept, “But I’m betrothed to Spock!”

 

Cringe. The feeling was cringe.

 

Three heads turned slowly in his direction, and Spock pointedly ignored the dust of green on his face.

 

“Mr. Sulu, I theorize that our bursts of power are aligned with whatever...” he motioned to the screen, “that is.”

 

Sulu nodded in agreement. “Uh-huh. I bet they’re in that building I picked up earlier. I’ll scan for life forms the next time we get our controls back.”

 

Meanwhile, Jim explained he didn’t love Spock at all- in fact, he despised that “wretched Vulcan half breed”- a title said Vulcan found quite unwarranted- and was desperate to be with McCoy. However, their marriage had been arranged and could only be revoked in a special ritual.

 

“My dearest, darling,” Leonard pleaded, “You mean more to me than all the stars in the universe!” He got down on one knee, hands clasped around Jim’s. “I’ll...I’ll evoke the ritual. I’ll free you from this marriage.”

 

“Oh, no, Lenard,” Kirk sobbed, “I could never ask you to do that!”

 

“For you, love, I’ll do anything.”

 

The screen faded to black. Taking his cue, Sulu set the scanner back on the structure, confirming the presence of two life forms.

 

“Mr. Scott.”

 

“Aye.”

 

“Have the transporter ready. On my command, you are to retrieve the Captain and Doctor. You have exactly twenty seconds to do so before the Enterprise escapes the planet’s orbit.”

 

“Cuttin’ a little close sir,” Scotty lamented, “I could do it in thirty.”

 

“I’m afraid I can’t spare you that, Mr. Scott. We have to leave at our next opportunity,” Spock said, “With or without them.”

 

The bridge felt a new unease. Spock steeled himself for the worst, watching the screen adamantly.

 

—————-

 

This was the worst. Even though he had no control over his words, calling Spock slurs made Jim’s mouth feel dirty. Knowing he was likely watching didn’t help.

 

“For the record,” Bones griped, “If this were real, I would’ve just told you to fuck off.”

 

Jim gave him a small smile. “Yes, I agree. In this one you’re far more...over the top.”

 

“Hm. You were about the same.”

 

Kirk could only laugh before the scene kicked up again. He found himself behind a pane of glass, looking into a small arena. It looked like a modified rec room, only weapons lined the walls and not workout equipment. His eyes trailed to Bones, who wore a glittering red sash around his hips, black pants and...no shirt.

 

It occurred to him then that he’d never actually seen McCoy bare chested before. Even now that they shared a room, Bones would get dressed in the bathroom. He wondered if the Aphradines had augmented Bones’ appearance, because for someone so shy he looked...good.


Jim didn’t have too much to think on it, because in walked in a being that was most certainly not Spock- he was dressed more like a Klingon, with devilishly exaggerated ears and eyebrows. He was also taller and wider that in reality. If Jim wasn’t already angry at the way they’d made him talk about his friend, he was downright furious at how they portrayed him.

————-

At this rate, Spock half expected McCoy and his onscreen representative to throw down their weapons and hug it out. None the less, if these aliens regarded him as the villain of the story now, they were going to downright despise him when he took their playthings away. He watched them grab their respective weapons, nostrils flaring slightly as he recalled his last Pon Farr.

The doctor grabbed a sword and shield, the false Spock opting for a spear with a long blade. They circled each other for moment, sizing sizing up their rival.

Chekhov leaned back in his chair.

 

“Permission to replicate some pop-“

 

“Denied.”

 

With that, the clash began.

 

————-

 

Spock swung first, McCoy blocking and countering. They went like that for awhile, with Bones ducking, narrowly avoiding a knock to the head. Spock kicked him to the floor, and his shield skidded away. With the grunt he let out, Jim was worried he’d actually been hurt.

 

Bones hoisted himself up, barely swatting away the spear. He caught his breath while he fought, and his hand hovered over where Spock had made contact.

 

Was he...really hurt?

 

After few more lucky exchanges, McCoy managed to get Spock’s spear from his hand. With a noticeable frown, the Vulcan knelt on one knee.

 

“You are the victor,” he conceded, “My life is yours to take.”

 

McCoy dropped his sword.

 

“I don’t want your life. I want Jim.”

 

“Very well.”

 

Kirk pushed passed Spock, throwing himself at McCoy in a tight embrace. The doctor winced, so Jim gave him a kiss and pulled away to squeeze his elbow.

 

Jim only saw a blur shift before McCoy’s face went white.

 

His eyes trailed down to see a spear protruding from his stomach.

 

—————

 

“No,” Spock breathed, watching his counterpart pick up his weapon once more.

 

The imposter threw the spear with all his strength. Uhura gasped and Checkov let out a curse. Spock hit the communication button.

 

“Mr. Scott, get them out of there.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Jim,” McCoy breathed, placing an arm on his back, “I’m alright.”

 

Kirk’s eyes were shut tight, holding Bones toward him. He pulled away slowly, taking in that the two of them were in their normal uniforms, and the horrible hot blood was no longer wetting his hands.

 

The doors opened.

 

“Come to finish the job?” Bones said.

 

Spock’s eyelids fell, but a noticeable tension left his shoulders, along with a sharp exhale. Relief.

 

“On the contrary, Doctor, I find it fortunate we haven’t lost our chief medical officer.”

 

“Please, Spock,” Bones said as he stood with some effort, “if you’re any sweeter to me I’ll get cavities.”

 

Jim looked up after him, eyeing the back that’d just had a gaping wound in it. He pushed the nightmarish scene away in favor of his friend’s familiarity. He wondered if they knew their bickering was as much a game to him as it was to them. He stood and stretched some, enjoying the simple feeling of control. Taking a soothing breath, he followed them into the corridor.

 

“After that little excursion,” McCoy sighed, “I could use a drink.”

 

“Agreed,” said Jim, “Spock, why don’t you join us?”

 

“Is that an order?”

 

“Would you come if it wasn’t?”

 

“Unlikely.”

 

“Then yes, that’s an order.”

 

——————

 

The trio seated themselves around the small fold out table in Kirk and McCoy’s room. Spock seemed a little sour about being forced to socialize, but welcomed his favorite orange drink.

 

“You know,” Jim said, “I think the Aphradines would be great for the federation.”

 

Spock’s eyebrows went up while McCoy’s eyes went down.

 

“That’s an interesting conclusion.”

 

“I hope you’re joking.”

 

“No, no,” Jim said, “Listen. They’re certainly advanced enough-“

 

“I’m sorry, was I just imprisoned with someone else?”

 

“Well that’s just it- I don’t think they saw it as imprisonment.” It was rare for McCoy and Spock to react in exactly the same way, but there they were- curious, but skeptical and primed to counter any argument. Divide and conquer it is then.

 

“I was thinking about it- their colors seem to contribute to their communication,” he explained, pointing his gaze at McCoy, “I think you getting so embarrassed gave the impression that we were willing participants. Red is a positive color.”

 

“I didn’t turn red.”

 

“You’re turning red right now.” Spock observed.

 

“Who’s side are you on?”

 

That was easy. Jim continued. “They seemed peaceful enough, and those simulation machines could be a lot of fun. Really, I think they only played with us because they were bored.” He shrugged and took a small sip, “With a few etiquette lessons and a production of Romeo and Juliet they’d be just fine.”

 

“In fact,” he smirked, “I think you’d two would put on a wonderful performance as Mercutio and Benvolio.”

 

“Lemme guess,” Bones replied, “You’re Romeo?”

 

Jim shrugged. “Depends on Juliet. Though I suppose if we were doing it for the Aphrodines, they’d prefer you.”

 

Bones was most definitely not turning red again. “Thanks, but you’d look much better in a dress.”

 

Spock glanced between them.

 

“You may not have to switch roles at all,” he commented, “some view Romeo and Mercutio’s relationship as romantic.”

 

“We don’t need to switch roles because we aren’t doing a play,” Bones countered, bringing the group back to reality. He sighed heavily. “This was one of our worst encounters yet.”

 

“Really?” Jim asked, “I think it was one of our better ones. Loosing all bodily control was a little annoying, but at least it was love stories and not torture.”

 

“It couldn’t have been worse than a teenager with godlike abilities,” Spock said.

 

“Or a grown man with godlike abilities,” Jim added. They looked at each other.

 

“Or a god,” they said in unison.

 

“You’re forgetting I’m a Doctor,” he said, “Life threatening situations are my specialty.” McCoy took a sip, savoring the taste. “Aggravation,” he continued, “Is more than I can handle. You two provide me with more than enough of it already.”

 

“Not me!” Jim gasped mockingly.

 

Especially you!”

 

Jim snorted and put his arm around McCoys chair. Spock’s lips upturned. “Really, Doctor,” he teased, “How you manage without meditation, I’ll never know.”

 

“Your forgetting I’m also a saint,” Bones huffed, pointing his brandy in Spock’s direction, “And a drinker.”

 

“Cheers to that, brother,” Jim said, chuckling as the trio clinked their glasses.

 

——————-

 

Spock had left too soon, though Jim didn’t know how long would’ve sufficed to block out the feeling of McCoy’s limp body in his arms.

 

Bones was already asleep. He sat halfway on the bed, watching the other man breathe. He was halfway worried McCoy would stop if he looked away- which was ridiculous, he knew.

 

It was ridiculous. He’d known the whole thing was an illusion, and they’d been transported up so quickly...it wasn’t a big deal. But he could still see how the color left Bone’s face, how drenched his hands felt, how much fear welled within him at the sight of blood stained metal.

 

He was damn lucky it was just an illusion. It occurred to him, when he’d opened his eyes and the nightmare was over, how many times Bones had saved his life. Not just physically, either, but emotionally too.

 

Being captain was hard, harder than he usually let on. There were only two souls aboard he could truly confide in, and only one who responded with the amount of compassion required to soothe him.

 

Spock was his best friend, that was true, but he solution oriented to a fault. Bones almost never offered advice unless asked, or when Jim was obviously at a loss. Most of the time, he’d just let Jim be vulnerable, making him feel as at ease baring his inner most thoughts as a doctor eased a patient into baring their body.

 

Even now, he knew that if he’d somehow accidentally married Spock, there’d be no room for rouses. Spock would cut it off immediately, telling Jim it was better to deal with embarrassment and possible demotion  than carrying a lie that could be uncovered any moment. Then again, Spock wouldn’t marry him in some drunken stupor, it’d have to be some alien ritual or something similar. Even so, he’d known from jump that McCoy would stick with him, even to the end of their careers, even though it was stupid.

 

He looked down at the ring on his finger. Absently, he twisted it round and round.

 

Many times in his life, he’d thought about getting married and starting a family. More so, he’d thought about what kind of person he’d spend his life with. On a few occasions, he was sure he’d found that person- but each time, life went a different way. As cliche as it was, he knew would have to end up with someone who shared his lifestyle. Someone who understood him, balanced him out, heard him, someone who spoke to his very soul.

Jim looked back at McCoy.

 

Then he shut the light out and went to bed.

Chapter Text

It’d been a slow day- no medical emergencies, no unstoppable force here to kill them all, just quiet. When Spock walked into his office, McCoy instinctively knew he was here to argue. Good, they were due.

 

“Here for M’benga?” He said, feigning ignorance.

 

Spock pursed his lips. “I was reviewing yours and the captain’s log from yesterday’s excursion-“

 

“You aren’t required to do that,” Bones retorted, making the accusation understood. Bad move- put him on the defensive too soon.

 

“No,” Spock conceded, “But my curiosity got the better of me.”

 

So quick with an admission of guilt? What was he after?

 

Spock continued. “The captain mentioned that the Aphradines are assigned mates with a machine that determines compatibility. They boasted that they haven’t had a separation in more than a thousand years. If that is true, such technology would be of untold value to the  rest of the galaxy.”

 

McCoy frowned. At this rate, he was only pretending to be working. “If you’re asking how it works, I don’t know.”

 

“Not how,” the Vulcan countered, “that much could be deduced. The question is if the same strategy could work on non-Aphradines.”

 

Eyeroll. “We can’t test it.”

 

The Vulcan inhaled.

 

“I believe we already have.”

 

Bones put his padd down, turning slowly to look at him. “Spock, why don’t you come out and say what you came here to say?”

 

“Have you considered Jim romantically?”

 

“No.”

 

“Would you be will-“

 

No,” he said, with more force. “The Aphradines also went through the ship’s files- they probably saw that Jim and I were married, and figured we were a good match anyway.”

 

“There are several other married couples on the ship, Doctor. You and the Captain were paired via brain scan- not files.”

 

Leonard’s hands balled into fists, leaning on them when he stood. If this pointy earred bastard came to argue over the affairs of the heart, he was out of his goddamned depth.

 

“Does it occur to you that their concept of love and our concept of love may be entirely different? Maybe Jim and I’s friendship best matched their definition- not to mention biological, neurological, and physiological differences. Trying to fit their process onto us wouldn’t even be comparing apples to oranges- apples to elephants as far as I’m concerned.”

 

“Besides-“ he added, “-how do you even know he’s into men?”

 

Spock rolled his head to the side, staring at the Leonard with an exceptionally bored expression.

 

Fine,” Bones huffed, folding his arms defiantly. “you can have that one. But that doesn’t discount anything else I just said.”

 

“You have yet to deny any attraction to the captain,” Spock said clinically, more like a comment on the weather and not an accusation of his own.

 

Leonard chose to ignore the heat in his face. “I’m his doctor, Spock, that would be entirely inappropriate.”

 

“Entirely natural.”

 

“Never told you I was into men, either.”

 

“I interpreted the omission as admission.”

 

McCoy’s face soured.

 

“What would you have done if that computer decided we were soulmates?” Bones asked, “Because something’s telling me you wouldn’t be down on one knee.”

 

Spock’s eyebrow twitched. “As relieved as I am that that did not occur,” he retorted, “I would’ve certainly considered the machine’s assessment, which is what I’m asking you to do.”

 

“Yea, I’m sure you would’ve,” McCoy sneered. “I won’t do it. Jim is my friend, and I’m not gonna ruin that. I suggest you conduct your own study, and I’ll be happy to send you material on human matchmaking techniques.”

 

“I had hoped you would have at least been interested from a scientific-“

 

“Save it,” he snapped, “No machine can tell you who to love!” McCoy picked you steam, moving from around the desk. “The Aphrandines captured us because they were so goddamn bored that the most overused cliches provided them with endless entertainment. Relying on that technology had made their very existence dull. Love gives people something to live for-“

 

“-And making it easier-“

 

“-Would make it worthless.”

 

They were close now. Spock’s mouth formed a thin line.

 

Out of his goddamned depth.

 

“The scientific process is worthless without a human element, something you don’t seem to understand.”

 

“I believe in knowledge for knowledge’s sake.”

 

“There’s no such thing.”

 

A punctuated silence. McCoy figured that was the end of it, but evidently Spock had one more card to play. He broke eye contact, rocking once on his heels.

 

“I’ve reviewed your reports before, Leonard. They’re some of the most detailed in Starfleet. Vivid descriptions, perfect chronology, and you save all opinions for the end.”

 

He paused, but this time Bones was playing the stoic.

 

“Only the Captain made any mention of the Aphradine’s mating procedure and it’s effectiveness. Not you.”

 

Leonard’s stomach turned. Spock made his way to the door, turning to speak once more.

 

“A curious talent you have, Doctor. The ability to say more with silence than words. I might not have noticed, except you left no opinion, either.”


McCoy’s eyes flickered to the floor, than back at his colleague.

 

”Spock,” he said, voice hoarse.

 

”Hm?”

 

”This stays between us.” 

“Always, Doctor.” 

McCoy watched Spock disappear behind the door, now wishing today hadn’t been so mundane.