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I was never a monk; I was discreet. There is a significant difference, and, frankly, if you don’t know as much, I cannot help you, and you should most likely quit while you’re ahead.

But the point is: I was never celibate. When a person’s just gotten out of a marriage with nothing left in this sweet world, and finds himself dumped into a coop full of coeds, he’s not going to look a gift-college in the mouth. If you’ll pardon the expression.

There’s just one rule: Be a grown-up about it.

All right, well, that rule breaks down into a few others: always find out (and remember) their name, always think twice (or, hell, thrice) about sleeping with coworkers or close friends, always know their medical history, always offer dinner first and breakfast afterwards, never intimate it will be more than it is.

Pretty damn simple, if you ask me.

Unless, of course, Jim Kirk gets his fool self involved.

---

The kid has no boundaries. Not, in his own words, when he doesn't have to. So he does have some, I suppose, but they're different for every situation, and they're ever-evolving. And, naturally, he's forever pushing them. And, in turn, my damn buttons.

---

Now, obviously, in the case of myself enjoying intimate relations with Jim Kirk, rules number one, three, and four were inapplicable. His name had been the first thing I'd learned on what at that time seemed the most ridiculous leg of my farcical life journey; I could get to his medical records in about three seconds, despite not yet being his doctor; and we practically ate every damn meal together anyways, unless one of us was looking for a different kind of company.

So the first time, obviously, broke merely rule number two. Now, I've broken this rule once before, and no good came of it. No, it was not the ex-wife, but it still ruined several months of med school that would've been quite enough trouble on their own merit and with Sheila and Ned's existence became a few of the worst weeks of my life.

But Jim pushed. And, as I said, I'm no monk.

So, I decided, to hell with it. We were both adults; we'd known each other two years by that point; he claimed he could handle it and I knew damn well that I could. So I let him have it.

And by the look of surprise that flashed in his eyes when my mouth closed around his cock, he was not expecting me to capitulate so easily, let alone so thoroughly.

So he surprised me in turn. After he'd returned the favor (and quite well, I might add; I can give credit where credit is due), he crawled up the bed, flopped down on his stomach, and mumbled something into the pillow. I asked him to repeat himself, and was already halfway to the bathroom by the time he did.

"Marry me, Bones."

I paused, my hand on the doorframe, and chuckled. "Sure, kid. Just as long as you buy me a ring."

"Of course. You're an—" He interrupted himself with a huge yawn. "—an old-fashioned sort of gent, after all."

I closed the bathroom door behind me, shaking my head. Damn right I'm an old-fashioned sort of gent, I thought. Too bad it was a lost art.

---

There were many memorable moments with Jim during our time at the Academy, and yes, some of them involved intimate relations particularly. Once, he somehow sneaked into the Medical Center's locker room in the dead of night and accosted me in one of the showers. About gave me a heart attack, I'll tell you. Then gave me one of the greatest orgasms of my damn life, all soaped up and feverish-warm, inside and out.

Or there was the time he managed to get me through a shuttle sim only by saying the filthiest damn things into his comm. Knowing him, he had done it on a public link, bless his harlot heart, but at that point, I didn't give a good god damn. I'm not sure if I still do.

There were also times that were cozy, slow, home-like, so they blend in with long nights and foggy weather and mind-numbing exams. There were a lot of hours in bed, that much I remember. He liked to explore, Jim Kirk did. The first time I figured it was a divide and conquer, exploit new territory sort of thing. After that, well, I didn't let myself think of anything but the way his hands and tongue catalogued and re-catalogued every bit of my body.

---

The point is, though, that apparently, he had no inkling of rule number five, because he casually broke it every damn time.

He'd flop back onto the bed, the couch, the whatever, this satisfied grin on his face, and say, "Marry me, Bones."

And I'd roll my eyes and roll out of bed and hit the bathroom before he could say anything else idiotic.

---

There were times when I didn’t allow the moment to come to fruition in the first place, when I pushed back and he backed off and we found comfort elsewhere. Mostly because I know myself and knew I couldn't do it without meaning it. Knew that for some reason, be it a long day or a comm from my daughter or whatnot, at that particular moment I couldn't listen to him say 'Marry me' without wanting to ask him when and where and how many groomsmen and did he mind if my grandmother wore one of her extraordinarily obnoxious hats.

---

I'm not saying I thought he meant it; far from it. It's just that: If you don't mean it, you shouldn't fucking say it. It's part of being a man, being a grown-up, being a good person. And although I knew Jim was on his way to becoming something extraordinary, something beyond a good person, beyond a great person, and into a hero… he wasn't there yet. And I was not about to be played the fool.

---

Then when Jim became the hero, it seemed as if it'd been by accident, by the seat of his pants, by luck. The second might be true, but the others are mere ignorance.

The thing is, when Jim well and truly broke rule number five, it seemed just as accidental.

I should've known better.

 


Variation

I made it to and through the bathroom, which was not that unusual since the Enterprise heads are tiny, even the captain's, and not conducive to leisurely usage. But I had still grown used to hearing it before I got to the bed, the words popping out of his mouth like a long sigh. And this was no extraordinary day; we were halfway through our first fiver and well into our fourth year of being no-strings intimates; no one had nearly died or disappeared, no one had been brainwashed or hypnotized or amnesia'd.

This time, though, for no apparent reason, he waited until I got back into bed. He tucked himself around me, hair tickling my chin, and mumbled it into my chest. "Marry me, Bones. I'd do right by you, I swear it."

I sucked in a breath, willing my heart—the heart that was so very near his ear—not to pound. Then I heard the soft snore that indicated he was asleep. I exhaled, chuckled, and kissed him on the top of his towhead. "Sure, kid. Any time."

---

But the kicker came a few days later, when Jim and I were in his quarters, utterly ensconced—in sorting through a load of personal affects that had been found at an abandoned substation. It was early December, and Command had given clearance for disposal, but Jim had figured we could see if anything was suitable for charity. He was always doing shit like that, sometimes to his own detriment, but I rolled my eyes and went along with it. Per usual.

"Jackpot!" He pulled out a couple of children's holovids and a pocket scooter with a face full of triumph. "See, Bones, I told you this would be fun!"

His pushed the employ button on the scooter and watched, eyes sparkling, as it unfolded itself onto the carpet in front of him. "You've got to admit, that's pretty cool."

"Jo would love it," I admitted, eyeing the thing for explosives or trick maneuvers. It seemed safe, so I found the employ button again and we watched it refold into nothing bigger than my hand.

"Yeah, she would." He held it out to me. "So give it to her."

I ignored the offering, instead leaning down to pick out the next piece of junk. "I'm not going to see her and you damn well know it. Put that thing in the Good pile and let's move on."

He opened his mouth to protest but a voice came through the comm first. "Bridge to Doctor McCoy."

I straightened and looked at the screen. "McCoy here."

"There's a message coming through for you from Children's Hospital in Macon, Georgia."

My eyebrow quirked up. "Alright. Put it through here."

And the face of my old boss, a man who made me look perky as Tinkerbell, flashed onto the screen. I crossed my arms in front of myself reflexively.

"Dr Cox," I said wanly. "What a pleasant surprise."

"Kissing ass, as usual."

"What do you want this time." It wasn't a question.

"And bad at it, as usual."

A muscle in my jaw twitched. I could feel Jim's gaze on me. "Don't make me repeat the question, Doctor."

"Well, Mister McCoy, I need your infamous do-good-er ass back here pronto."

I re-crossed my arms. "Why?"

"Because the hospital is financially up shit creek without a paddle, son," –I tried not to flinch— "and we need you here to fix it."

Goddamn it.

"How soon?"

"We figured you could use your holiday leave. See your daughter. Kill two birds with one stone."

"Right. Well. Let me ask my CO and we'll—"

"He'll be there," Jim cut in, his tone leaving no space for argument. "This is the captain speaking. Just send my Chief Engineer the details. Enterprise out."

And the comm screen went blank.

I didn't look at Jim. We hadn't discussed it, but we'd spent every Christmas together since we'd met, one way or another So.

"You're a doctor, not a financier," he said quietly.

I uncrossed my arms and leaned down to the boxes of junk once again. "I know, but I…" I picked up and leafed through a yellowing book as I thought of how to explain it. "I'm good at organizing. Running a charity event is like running an OR. And there are so many damn kids…"

He understood. "When do we leave?"

I froze. "We?"

"I'm going. I want to see you at work, see this amazing doctor that makes you look like sweetness and light." He gestured to the comm screen, then paused. "See your daughter."

My gut turned over. I put down the book. "Jim, no."

"Why not?" His voice was not so quiet this time.

I sighed. "That wasn't just my old boss, see."

"Oh?"

"That was my former father-in-law."

"Oh. I see."

"And Jocelyn—I don't know how she'd react, if she'd let me—"

"I said I see. It's fine."

"Jim…" My hand itched to reach out for him, but this wasn't like that. We weren't, well, like that.

He stuck his hands in his pockets and wandered over to me as I stood there with nothing good to say. "How about you just wear this, then?"

I looked at him, then looked down at what he was holding out. Then I had even more of nothing good to say. "The hell?"

"Go on," he said blithely, taking my left hand. The ring slid onto the third finger perfectly, the metal surprisingly warm.

My throat closed up. "Jim, I don't need any of your shenani—"

"Just wear it. Then no one will Yenta, or hit on you, and Jocelyn will shit a brick."

I arched an eyebrow at him. "Oh, really? Now, why would she do that?"

He shrugged. "Well, one, because she'll think you haven't told her, and two, because it looks like a pretty expensive piece of jewelry."

I grudgingly held my hand up closer so I could see it better. And he was right. "So it does." I paused. "Thanks."

He paused, nodded once, then turned back to the boxes. "You're welcome."

 


Development

Big to-dos are all the same, be it Federation, debutante, church folk… Give people food, drink, and a reason to tell people they went, and they will take it by the reigns and go, go, go. And if that reason is a good one, they will open their wallets.

And as I walked the halls of the hospital before the gala, watching desperately ill children be tucked into bed by weary, underpaid nurses, I knew that this was the greatest reason a person could ever have.

"You Jo's dad, aren't you?"

The voice came from somewhere around my hip. I looked down and saw a small, smooth-headed child in pajamas with starships on them. "Why, yes, I suppose I am." I crouched down, held out my hand. "Leonard McCoy. And who might I have the pleasure of meeting?"

"Oh I'm Patrick – Patrick Melroy and I'm Jo's friend at school?" He pumped my hand up and down with six-year-old enthusiasm, then stuffed his hands in his pockets and rocked back on his heels. "She's real nice."

I smiled. "She sure is."

"She said at class that you're on a space-ship." He looked around us, as if waiting for aliens or shuttles or, at the very least, a Starfleet uniform. "Is that true?"

"Yup. The USS Enterprise."

His eyes got huge and I had to stifle a laugh.

"So you know Captain—Captain Kirk?"

I just may've grinned at that. "Known him for years, kid."

"And did he give you that?"

The smile dimmed. "Give me what?"

He pointed at my left hand, at the gold band around my third finger. I paused. "What, this?"

He nodded.

"Now, why would you say that?" I asked, working the ring off my finger and putting it in my palm so he could examine it.

He straightened up. "Well I know he has adventures," he started, his eyes flicking from the ring to my face. "And that's a Monrovian Bonding Ring. It's worth, like, a zillion credits, and pretty hard to find."

He looked up at me expectantly. My brain sort of skidded sideways. "…it's a what, now?"

He rolled his eyes to the ceiling and spoke very slowly. "Monrovian. Bonding. Ring. Don't you know anything?" Clearly he'd thought more of someone from the great and fabled Enterprise.

"Hey, now, I know plenty of things. I know all about Monrovian physiology and diseases." His nose wrinkled, but some of the respect was back in his eyes. "Just not their trinkets."

"Not trinket! Bonding—"

"Bonding Ring, yeah, yeah, I heard you. We found it in a box of junk, so pardon me my assumptions." I turned it over in my palm. "Well, what's it do? Does it have special powers?"

He shrugged. "No not really. Monrovians believe it does, doi, but I dunno. It don't look so special."

"Doesn't," I corrected. "And I like it just fine, anyways."

"Anyway," he corrected right back at me, taking the ring out of my hand and examining it closely, his face scrunched up in concentration. "Wait—there's something—" He squinted at the inside. "Yup, there's words in here. But they're small and I can't read them."

He straight-armed it at me and I took it, both eyebrows up. Even I had to squint at the tiny letters. And then I had to read them about five times before I believed my eyes weren't just making shit up.

Bones- my anchor in this mystery. Jim.

I made a choked sort of noise. Patrick eyed me, like I was going to light on fire or start spinning around like a top. At that moment, Lord knew, either one felt possible.

"You okay, Mister McCoy?"

I cleared my throat, cleared my throat again, put the ring back on my hand, stood up, and patted him on his little round head. "Yeah, kid, I'm fine. Want me to tuck you in?"

He grinned up at me. "Heck yes. Especially if you'll tell me a story about Captain Kirk."

I followed him into his room, helped him under the covers, and proceeded to tell him the first family-rated story that came to mind, the one about the lizard guys. He ate it up. Then I waxed on about life on the Enterprise, making it sound as boring as possible, and just as intended, his eyes started to droop. Turned out the kid had a hell of a snore, too. I smiled at him, made sure his blankets were secure, then stood to leave.

I picked up his chart on my way out. Nontreatable neural disintegration, the screen said, viral roots. Diagnosed too late due to financial circumstances.

My jaw tightened. I was going to make this event the most lucrative dinner this hospital had ever seen, damned if I wouldn't.

But I had a call to make first.

 


Recapitulation

"Ensign, this is CMO McCoy. Get me Jim Kirk."

The girl didn't hesitate. "The captain is off duty, Sir, and has requested to not be disturbed."

Oh, good. I'd caught Jim in flagrante. A smile stole across my lips, but I hid it quickly, instead fixing a patented 'don't start with me' expression on my face. "Ensign. Don't make me ask again."

She grimaced, but held fast. "Sir, I really must insist—"

"Fine, open an audio link and tell him who it is, see what he says." I gave her a little smile, but it was probably more feral than nice. "I'll wait."

The screen went to standby and I tapped my fingers on the console while I waited. It didn't take very long for Jim's face to appear. "Bones? You okay?"

He was shirtless, that much I could see, and a pretty redhead was in the bed behind him. "I'm fine." I inclined my head politely. "Nice to see you out of Engineering, Davidson."

She nodded back at me, clearly confused but well-mannered all the same. "Would you like me to—Should I leave?"

I waved a hand. "No, I just have one thing to say and then I've got to be going."

Jim grew a little puzzled, but had his sex-glow on him that not much could dampen. "What's up?"

I held up my left hand, palm inward, and looked straight at him. "If you meant this, if you meant the whole kettle of fish, then get your ass here. The Hospital Arrivals unit has been warned, so you can have Mr Scott beam you in without any finagling. I'll be here until midnight. McCoy out."

---

Then I went to go play host. And did a mighty fine job of it, if I do say so myself. Even a curmudgeon can be polite and charming, when called to do so.

---

At twenty to twelve, the affair was largely over. Well-groomed people in expensive clothes were being poured into taxis, their wallets lighter and the consciences cleaner.

I took a drink of my whiskey, then put it back on the bar. I looked around the largely empty ballroom. It had been a smashing success, and tomorrow I was going to see my daughter. My safe, healthy, well-cared-for daughter, thank the Lord.

The only thing that had refused to go my way tonight was James Kirk. But that was no surprise, really. It had been a gamble, and I had lost. And that was going to have to be all right. The world hadn't imploded, and I wasn't going to cry alligator tears about. We still had our friendship, and we still had the Enterprise.

I took one last drink, nodded at the bartender, and turned towards the exit—

"I thought you said midnight."

—and there was one James Kirk, getting his lean on in the doorway. He was also grinning, in that fool way he has.

I couldn't help but grin back. I took my time walking over to him, though. After all, he'd made me wait.

When I got to him, he just looked at me for a minute, his face full of emotion. Then he smirked. "Two minutes to midnight, Bones. It's tradition."

I looked at him, brow slightly furrowed. "Huh?"

He pointed up, and for the first time I noticed the mistletoe—and then his mouth was pressed against mine, his lips soft but the kiss hard.

"Of course I mean it, you idiot," he said quietly once he'd pulled back, his gaze intent on my face. "I've meant it since the beginning."

I tried to think. I had to be sure. "You're fixing to be with me and only with me?"

"Till death do us part, yadda yadda." He grinned. "You said 'fixing.'"

"Shut your fool mouth." And I pulled him to me and kissed him again, thoroughly this time, not caring if children or hospital staff or even God Himself were watching. This was something the world would have to get used to, anyways. Anyway, I thought with a grin.

"What's so funny, old man?" Jim said against my lips.

I leaned into him, nuzzling at his jaw and neck surreptitiously. "There's a kid named Patrick we need to find and thank tomorrow."

"Oh there is, is there?" His voice was suspiciously rough as his hand clutched at the back of my neck.

"Yes. He's a big fan of yours, first of all. And he found the inscription for me, I think he deserves a visit from Captain Kirk."

Jim smirked. "It's not like it was a puzzle ring, Bones."

I growled lightly and brought his mouth to mine again. "How many times do I have to tell you to shut up?"

"Maybe—" he managed between kisses "—a few more."

And we didn't even hear it when the clock struck twelve.


FIN