It doesn’t take him long to pack his belongings, and afterward he stands in the room, not sure how to feel. He should be relieved that he’s going to be on a planet again. Lucky that no one has found them yet and he has all the time to make off to another part of the galaxy.
And yet he can’t help but feel that he’s going to miss this. Not the ship with its fucked up design. Not space, never space. But this crew, these people so unlike him, but all the same with their longing for freedom, most of them on the run from something. No wonder he felt a connection.
No, he’s not thinking about him. Not about his ridiculous blue eyes that seem to look into Leonard’s head without his permission. That too bright smile, making it almost impossible not to like the stupid kid. That lean body that makes Leonard wonder what Jim looks like naked, what it would feel like to wrap his hands around his waist.
No. He’s definitely not thinking about Jim.
As if on cue, he hears a voice behind him. “Hey Lenny, everything packed?”
Leonard flinches at the name, from the memories stored away in his head, and he turns around to face Jim. “Please, stop calling me that.”
Jim raises his hands in a placating gesture. “Okay, sorry. You don’t look like a Lenny to me, anyway.” He steps closer, the swagger of his hips not distracting at all. “Ready to go?”
Leonard swallows around the urge to step forward and kiss Jim, just this once to know what he’s missing. Instead he nods once, grabs his bag. “Ready when you are.”
They weave their way through the ship for what Leonard knows is his last time, so he doesn’t even try to remember the way, follows Jim and enjoys the view.
There are more people in the transporter room than Leonard thought would be, and the thought that they are here to see him off makes him swallow around a sudden lump in his throat. He wants to say something, but just in time, he realizes that all of them are standing on transporter pads.
He scowls. “Where are you going?”
Jim looks at him with a confused expression. “Rigel 5? Where do you think we’re going?”
Leonard can feel himself turn red, and huffs a breath. “I meant, smart ass, what are you doing down there?”
“Well, me and Hikaru here are going to make, let’s say, certain deals to acquire certain goods to run this ship. Scotty is doing whatever he does when he’s on a planet, and our dear Christine thinks you need new clothes and will happily accompany you on a excessive shopping trip.”
Leonard boggles at that. “Wait, a shopping trip? What do you think you’re doing? This is not a vacation. Starfleet will be on the lookout for me, and I don’t have the time to shop for clothes. I need to get away as soon as possible, find the most secluded spot in the galaxy and wait for the wind to die down. I’m not here to play a dress up doll for you. No offense.”
Christine snorts. “None taken. But do you really think people will take you seriously while you’re wearing those rags?”
Leonard looks down at himself. She has a point, the sweater he’s wearing has seen better days, but it’s his last possession, and damn him if this makes him sentimental, but he’s kinda attached to it. “I happen to like this sweater,” he scowls.
“And I’m not saying you can’t. I’m just saying it will help you find someone willing to take you to your lone island with something less...” She waves her hand around, at loss for words.
“Space hobo?” Jim chips in.
“Very funny,” Leonard growls, but drags himself to a transporter pad nonetheless. The moment he’s on the planet, he’ll just get rid of Christine, and everything will be fine. No point in standing around and wasting their time.
Jim nods to Pavel, and before Leonard knows it, they're standing on a patch of solid earth, dust whirling around them. It’s all Leonard can do not to sink to his knees and kiss the ground.
Jim straightens, and fiddles with a chronometer. “Okay sweethearts, meeting time is four hours from now, exactly here. You have fun. And if something happens,” he taps his hip, “let me hear about it.”
He turns to go, hand coming up to shade his eyes from the sun. Leonard feels a slight pang in his chest and hears himself call out, “Jim.”
Jim turns around again, smiling, his hand dropping to his side again.
“Uhm, a minute?” Leonard asks, suddenly aware of the others standing too close, listening to intently.
He takes a few steps to the side, out of earshot. He can see Hikaru smirking, Scotty roll his eyes. Christine looks off in another direction, distracted by whatever caught her eye.
“I just, uhm...” Leonard starts, mentally cursing himself. “I just wanted to thank you. For bringing me here. And for not handing me over to Starfleet. I’m really grateful.”
Jim waves his hand dismissively. “No problem. We outcasts have to stick together.”
Leonard bites his lower lip. “I mean it. Thank you.”
Jim steps closer then, his eyes glinting. “You don’t have to go, you know.”
Leonard shakes his head, looking to the ground. He can’t look into those eyes and stay strong. But he has to. “I’m not made for space, Jim.”
“I thought you were doing fine.”
“I almost puked all over the bridge.”
“You wouldn’t be the first. Or the last. Scotty is onboard.” Jim says with laughter in his voice.
Leonard shakes his head again. “I can’t. I’m too much trouble. If Starfleet finds out I’m on your ship...”
“I’m not afraid of them. But I would be worried about you.” Fingers find their way under his chin, tugging it up so he's looking into Jim’s eyes. “I really like having you around. As does my crew. And we could do with a doctor.”
“Is that the reason I should stay?” Leonard asks almost bitterly.
“One reason, Bones. One reason.” The fingers stroke up his jaw, up around his cheekbone. Leonard swallows and pulls back.
Jim takes a step back, smile strained. “I can’t make you come with me.”
Leonard’s heart makes a strange leap at that, and he wishes he could say something, do something about this.
He turns, about to go, when Jim calls out again. “Oh, and Bones?”
Leonard looks back over his shoulder.
“If you change your mind, Hikaru’s planning on making peach cobbler tonight.”
Leonard snorts, shakes his head, and turns to finally go.
“Oi, where do you think you’re going?”
He jumps slightly at Christine’s voice. She jogs up until she’s level with him, linking her arm with his. “Christine, I’m really not in the mood...”
“This is not about your mood. Now stop whining. We have four hours. We'll be lucky to find anything in that time.” And with that, she tugs at his arm.
He sighs and falls into step with her. He knows when he's lost a fight.
“Believe me, this looks good on you.”
Leonard scowls at his own reflection. He’s lost count of how many shops they’ve been in, of how many shirts and pants he’s already tried on. He distinctly remembers he didn’t get married again.
Christine is standing behind him, scrutinizing him like he’s a warp core gone wonky, and smoothes the shirt down his back once more. “It’s great. And it brings out the color of your eyes.”
Leonard rolls his eyes, takes a deep breath. How he deserves this, he’s not sure. He tried to get rid of Christine the moment they entered the first shop, but she wouldn’t go, was worse than any kid or wife he could imagine. She likes this, likes putting him through this, and he hates her a bit for it. Even if it is fun, in a way. Not that he would ever admit that.
“So what do you say? Is this a yes or a yes?”
“Fine, whatever. Are we done now?”
Christine scowls at him, tugging a strand of hair behind her ear. “Like we’re finished here. I have at least three other shirts I want you to try.”
“No. No really. I have enough. I need light luggage, you know.”
Christine opens her mouth again, but seems to change her mind. She smiles, and says, “Okay, fine with me. But you're buying me a coffee for my efforts.”
“I seem to remember that I didn’t ask you.”
“I seem to remember that you came along anyway.”
“You can drive a man insane.” Leonard says, chuckling.
“It’s one of my virtues.” Christine shoots back, smiling.
Still chuckling, Leonard goes to the checkout, wincing a little at the amount of credits he leaves in the shop.
“Stop moaning, it’s worth it.” Christine says.
She drags Leonard out of the shop, straight to a cafe they passed earlier. Dropping their bags, she slouches in her chair and lets Leonard place the orders. When the waiter brings the coffee, she smiles brightly, and returns to her position, eyes closed, mouth drawn in a small smile.
Leonard can’t help but look at her, her blonde hair falling to her shoulders, her skin shining in the sun, her demeanor laid back and happy. It’s not the first time he's wondered how she ended up on a ship like the Insurgency.
“You should stay, you know?” Christine suddenly says, turning to look at him.
Leonard startles at that and shakes himself. “What?”
“It’s just, we like you. I like you. And I know someone who would be really happy if you stayed.” She answers, smirking.
Leonard rolls his eyes.
“Christine, this isn’t something I can easily ignore. I stay with you, Starfleet will catch up with me sooner or later. I don’t want to endanger any of you.”
Christine snorts. “You don’t have to worry about us, you know. We can take care of ourselves.”
“Tell that to Rodriguez.”
Hurt flashes through her eyes, and Leonard almost regrets what he said.
“You have no idea what happened back then, so why don’t you shut up?”
Leonard leans back, cup in hands. He watches as Christine blinks away tears and almost apologizes, but he thinks better of it, and turns to stare at the clouds in the sky.
When Christine starts talking again, he has to strain to hear her voice over the noise around them.
“I sometimes wonder if we could have done something differently. If anything could have changed what happened. But that’s the bad thing about what ifs. You never know.” She turns to look at Leonard again, her eyes fierce. “I loved that man, I would have done anything to save him. And if I ever get the chance, those bastards are gonna pay for what they did to him.”
Leonard blinks, not sure what to say.
Christine leans back again, shaking her head, like she’s trying to shake the memories off herself. “We better get going, if we want to be at the meeting point in time.”
Leonard puts down his mug, grabs for his bags and tries to find the right words to bid farewell now, when the communicator at Christine’s hip starts to life.
“Guys, whatever you’re doing, stop doing it now. Meeting point as fast as you can. This means you too, Bones.”
Leonard blinks, and while he’s still making up his mind, Christine tugs at his wrist to follow her, and he does, blindly, walks swiftly through the masses, tries not to look as panicked as he feels.
They’re not far away, and they get to the meeting point ten minutes later, and Leonard looks frantically around for any signs of trouble, of a fight.
Jim turns up next, tugging at something in his bag, looking around. “Have you seen Scotty anywhere?”
“Nope. What is it?”
“There are Imperial goons around. Don’t know what they are doing here, but they saw me and Hikaru. We split up to make it here. Ah, here he comes.”
Sure enough Hikaru rounds a corner, Scotty in tow.
“What the fuck, can’t a man have a drink in peace?” Scotty growls.
“You drink way too much, anyway. Everyone here?” Jim looks around, like he’s doing a head count.
Leonard takes a step back, coughing slightly. “Maybe I should...”
“Bones, if those guys find you, you’re in as much trouble as we are. It’s better we keep together.”
Leonard hesitates for a second, thinking. He could make it on his own, it wouldn’t be the first time. And a part of him still thinks it may be for the best that he ends up with Starfleet, that maybe that’s where he's been heading all along.
“Bones,” Jim says, holding out his hand.
Leonard swallows, thinks of blood and blonde hair, thinks of Starfleet and of space. Looks into Jim’s eyes, swallows, and extends his hand.
Back onboard, Jim rushes from the transporter room, heading for the bridge. Leonard’s hand feels empty and cold. He shakes himself, puts the bags he’s still holding down and follows the others.
They meet a nervous Pavel on the bridge, hastily pushing levers and buttons and looking like he’s about to have a nervous breakdown.
“I don’t know how they found us, I did scan the area, I didn’t see them, they just showed up out of nowhere” he blathers, and Jim puts a hand on his arm.
“Hey, this is not your fault, okay? Just get us out of here as soon as you can.”
Pavel takes a shuddering breath, and nods. “Aye, Captain.”
Jim turns, looks at Hikaru. “Time to get our ass out of here, wouldn’t you say?”
Hikaru nods, and bends towards his instruments, when a beeping sounds blares through the bridge. “Erm, that would be them hailing us. Jim?” Hikaru looks questioningly at the man, his fingers on the console.
Jim lets out a frustrated breath, shakes his head, and waves at the screen. “Fine, whatever. Answer them. Make sure they only see me,” he says as he walks to the captain's chair, expression turning hard as he sits down.
Hikaru hits a button, and the screen turns itself on, showing the bridge of a spaceship.
Filling out the screen is a young Vulcan, his Starfleet uniform glinting in the light, a goatee framing his mouth. “Spock,” Jim says curtly.
Leonard’s eyebrows shoot up on his head. The same Spock Hikaru had told him about? He looks at Jim.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other.” Spock answers in a cold voice.
“Not long enough” Jim trails the scar on his cheek absentmindedly, then leans forward. “What do you want?”
“Apart from the ship parts that are not rightfully yours?”
“Yeah, apart from that.”
“We have intelligence that you are host to someone Starfleet has a claim on. We would like you to hand him over to us.”
Jim leans back casually. “Sorry, but you know I’m slow on the uptake. Remind me again, who am I supposed to hide here?”
“Doctor Leonard McCoy. Terran descent, dark hair, pale complexion, six feet tall. Renown surgeon.”
“No, sorry. Doesn’t ring a bell.” Jim shakes his head.
“Our sources tell us that he was taken from a prisoner transport three days ago, standard time.”
“Maybe you should ask your guards where they put him.” Jim smirks.
“The guards tell us about a man fitting your description raiding the transport at about three in the afternoon, standard time.”
“Last Tuesday, you say? I think I was at the barber’s.” Jim says, inspecting his fingernails.
“Due to circumstances you would call luck, the surveillance camera wasn’t damaged, and we were able to retrieve footage of the attack.”
Hikaru scowls at Jim, and Jim shrugs his shoulders slightly.
The picture on the screen is replaced by a surveillance stream, a bad resolution tinted in sepia. Still, it’s more than obvious that it is Jim who storms the transport, stuns the guards.
Leonard watches himself check on Jim, watches as he shouts at Jim. Watches as they leave the shuttle together.
The feed is gone, replaced once more with the face of Spock.
Jim acts surprised, his eyebrows high on his forehead. “You mean that transport. Yes, that was me.”
“I ask you again to hand us the prisoner you took from us.”
“Well, I really would love to, but I think I’m going to keep him. Sorry.” Jim shrugs.
“I’m not here for you, Jim. But I’m going to hurt you if you don’t give me what I’m asking for.”
“While you will let me and my crew and the ship that is technically yours go if I hand over McCoy.” Jim says sarcastically.
“That is my offer.” Spock answers.
“And you think I’m going to believe you.”
“I’m not asking you to believe anything. But I assure you that I will do as I tell you.”
“What about if I have to think about it first?” Jim asks.
“I am willing to give you 5 hours from now.”
“Well then,” Jim says and makes a gesture against his knee.
The screen turns dark.
Jim turns, looking at Leonard like he’s seeing him for the first time. “Well, you are a hot piece of meat, hm? Wonder why they want you so bad.”
“Because I invented death.”
Part Three | Part Five | Master Post