How he finds the kitchen is beyond Leonard. He doesn’t pause to wonder, only heads to the cupboard, rummaging until he finds what he’s looking for. He pours the vodka into a glass, drowns it in one swallow and pours himself another one.
When Jim finds him, he’s sitting at the table, staring at the glass like it holds the answers to all questions.
“You invented death, huh? You are digging the melodramatic.”
Leonard scowls at Jim, tightens his grip around his glass.
“Wanna tell me more?”
Leonard really doesn’t. “When I still was married,” he starts anyway.
“You were married?” Jim asks surprised.
“Are you going to listen or do you want to ask stupid questions?”
“Sorry,” Jim says, holding up his hands.
“When I was still married, I worked with the Imperial Research Centers.”
“The body farms?” Jim asks.
“If you want to call them that.”
“I call them by what they are.”
“Whatever. I got the job through my father-in-law. One of the benefits of my marriage. I never really enjoyed research, always wanted to work with people.”
Jim snorts, and Leonard gives him a small smile. “Bad bedside manner notwithstanding.
But I didn't really have a choice – when a Darnell provides you with a job, you smile and take it. So I smiled, tried to ignore what they were working on and spent my free time on my own project. What could it hurt, right?
“One day, I made a discovery. It was really simple, really nothing you could boast about, but something no one had mastered before. It was the cure to the common cold.
“When my supervisors found out, they praised me and took it to their labs, to ‘improve it’. I finally found out they altered it. One ingredient, just one, and it’s a weapon of mass destruction.” Leonard swallows, turning the glass in his hands.
“But isn’t that common in medicine? Mix it with something, take the wrong dose, and you snuffed it?” Jim asks, head tilting to one side.
“You don’t understand. You could wipe out planets with a drop, solar systems with a pint.”
“But that is not your fault.” Jim leans forward, puts a hand on his arm.
Leonard shakes his head. “l felt it was. Still do, in a way.”
“So I ran away. Destroyed all my records, all the samples, everything they could possibly work with. Packed my bags and got out of there.”
“And you’ve been on the run ever since.”
“Yes.” Leonard drowns his glass, sets it down hard onto the table. “And maybe it’s time to stop running.”
“What? No wait. You’re not going.”
“Jim, what else is there? You wanna fight them?”
“If I have to! I’m not letting you go!” Jim tightens his grip on Leonard’s arm.
“But I have to! I can’t let you risk your life!”
“No! Remember, what I said about Rodriguez? That they killed him? That’s only half of it. Before they killed him, they put him into an Agony Booth for three days flat. Afterward, he wasn’t even able to stand. And you know how I know that? They made me watch. How he writhed in the Agony Booth, how he crawled out of it, begging them to stop. I can’t watch you getting tortured Bones. I can’t!” Jim swallows hard.
“Jim, I can’t run away anymore. It’s too late.”
“I didn’t take you as a coward. Tell me, why are you so keen to get to them?”
“Maybe because I deserve it!” Leonard shouts.
“For what? For wanting to heal people?”
“For killing my wife!”
The silence that follows is heavy with their panting, heavy with the words Leonard just said.
Then Jim asks, barely a whisper, “What?”
“I killed my wife, Jim.”
Jim sits down, pours himself a not so small amount of vodka and motions Leonard to go on.
“Our marriage was arranged. My parents and her parents thought we could work out well together. I had potential, or something. In the beginning it was... okay I guess. We wouldn’t see each other often with her social obligations and my work. And I knew she had lovers, someone to warm her bed when I was at work.” Leonard takes a shaking breath as the memories come back, buried for so long.
“Then she changed. Suddenly, she wanted to spent time with me, wanted to be close.
At first, I felt flattered, stupid and young as I was. She was beautiful, could seduce a man within seconds, and suddenly I was all she wanted.” Leonard pauses, swallows again.
“She was also batshit crazy.”
“Did she hurt you?” Jim asks quietly.
“She would hit me, yes. Tie me down and fuck me with anything she could find. Cut my body with all sorts of sharp objects, only to remove the scars the day after.“ Leonard swallows, closes his eyes.
“She would threaten me that if I was to tell anyone, she would kill my parents and let me watch.”
“The day I decided to run away from the Research Center, she was home early. I didn’t expect her to be there at all. She threatened me, told me to stay. Tried to lock me away, to make me stay.” Leonard looks up, meets Jim’s gaze.
“I didn’t want to hurt her. At least not much. I only wanted to get away from her, from the Imperial Guards alive. Then there was a scalpel in my hands. And I stabbed her, stabbed her until she wasn’t moving anymore.” Leonard looks down again, away from stupidly blue eyes. “That’s why I think I deserve to be punished.”
He pushes away from the table, strides to the door.
Jim is next to him in a blink of an eye, looking at him pleadingly. “Please. You can’t go.”
“Why, Jim? What choice do I have?”
“This,” Jim says and pulls him forward, until their lips meet.
For a second, Leonard doesn’t move, only takes in the feel of those plush lips on his, the warmth, the slightly chapped skin.
Then he pushes back, kisses back, his hand coming up to cup Jim’s neck. Jim makes a happy noise at the back of his throat, presses closer, grabs Leonard’s shirt in his hands.
Leonard parts his lips, tilts his head to deepen the kiss, and Jim...
An explosion rocks the ship, making them stumble into the door.
Jim curses. “They can’t keep a promise once, now can they?” He asks, then his hand hits the intercom button next to Leonard’s head. ”Status?”
“We’ve been shot at!” Hikaru shouts over the intercom.
Jim rolls his eyes. “No shit. What did they hit?”
“Nothing vital. Yet.”
“I’m right with you. Get ready to fire back.”
Jim walks swiftly past him, and Leonard turns to follow.
“Where do you think you are going?” Jim snaps.
“Well, I don’t know. The bridge, maybe?”
“To do what? Stand around and look pretty? Or you think the sight of you puking your guts out will scare them away?”
Leonard grabs the front of Jim's shirt. “You think I’m gonna stay here and wait for any of you to come fetch me when this is over? This is my fault Jim, so I’m going to be a part of it!”
Jim shrugs out of Leonard's grip. “Fine. Whatever.”
Jim dashes out of the door, and Leonard does his best to keep up with him, heart pounding in his chest, eyes on Jim’s back. If any of these people got hurt or died because of him, he wasn’t sure he could forgive himself.
They run through the corridors, Leonard wondering why this ship can’t have any straight corridors, or turbo lifts. They round a corner when they hear Hikaru’s voice over the intercom. “Jim, they are trying to hail us. Guess they want to tell you the ultimatum is over.”
Leonard is amazed how calm Hikaru sounds, how he can maintain his sarcasm in a situation like that.
“Yes, I’m coming, jeez,” he hears Jim’s answer, only slightly breathless.
They run on, finally taking another turn, and Leonard sees the bridge looming before them, Hikaru fiddling with something, Scotty at the weapons panel. Leonard watches Jim jog to the Captain’s chair and starts to wonder where Pavel might be, when a hand comes around his neck. He chokes as he’s hurled backwards mid-step, pressed against a skinny body, a phaser digging into his side.
Time seems to come to a halt as he tries to say something, to demand what the fuck is going on, but the words get trapped in his throat, his breath too short to carry them.
He’s dimly aware that Pavel hisses into his ear, “You better not move,” just as Jim starts speaking again.
“So okay, I want those fuckers on the screen again pronto, and if they as much as look the wrong way, I want you to shoot them with everything we have. Bones, you better keep your mouth shut.”
Jim pauses, waiting for an answer, and Leonard can just picture his brow furrowing as Leonard doesn’t.
“Bones?” He asks again, turning in his chair. “You got that... what the fuck?”
Only then do they others turn around, only then Leonard hears a clatter as Hikaru drops one of his instruments. “Pavel, what are you doing?”
“Shut up. You heard the Captain. You were asked to return the Imperial prisoner and you didn’t. Now I’m going to hand him over.” Pavel answers with a sneer.
“Pavel, what the fuck is wrong with you?” Hikaru takes a step closer, and Pavel strengthens his hold, chocking Leonard even more.
“Don’t move. Don’t come closer.”
Leonard looks pleadingly at Jim, who rises out of his chair, hands up in a calming gesture. “Pavel, whatever they promised you, I assure you it’s not worth this. Just put away your phaser and let Bones go. Let’s sit down and talk about this. I promise we’ll find a way out of this.”
“Shut up! I don’t want to talk to you. I have my orders. I will bring back the prisoner to them.”
“After all what I did for you, this is how you pay me back? You’re not even going to listen to me?” Jim asks, stepping closer still.
“You did nothing for me. You are scum that attacks the Empire. You deserve punishment. He deserves punishment,” he tightens his grip around Leonard’s neck again, presses the phaser harder into his side.
“You were working for them all the time?” Jim asks, and Leonard can hear the hurt in his voice.
“Yes, I was. Was spying on you and your operations. They will reward me when I’m back. They will be proud of me.”
“Pavel,” Hikaru says, and Leonard feels the hold around his neck slacken as Pavel turns to look at the other man.
“You think I deserve punishment too?”
“You, you do. You are a rebel like him, scum like him.” Pavel stammers, not sounding convinced at all.
“You think I’m scum? When you said I’m your best friend only yesterday?”
“I, I didn’t mean that,” Pavel stammers, and the phaser drops an inch downwards, pressing against Leonard’s belt.
He changes his stance as Hikaru says, “Pavel, you know we love you. I love you. And you pretended to love us back. How could you?”
Leonard can Pavel swallow, hears tears in his voice as he answers, “It is my job. I do as I’m told.”
“Pavel, what is it you’re not telling me?”
It’s as if Hikaru found the right words, hit a nerve. Leonard can feel the grip around his neck loosen again, the phaser drop away, as Pavel answers, “They have my parents. They say they kill my parents. I have to help them. I have to...” he sobs, and Leonard feels almost sorry for him.
“Pavel, your parents are dead,” Hikaru says.
“No, they are not. It is what I told you to trust me. They are prisoners of the Empire, and I have to save them,” Pavel sobs.
Then he stiffens, his grip tightening again. “What do you think you are doing?”
Leonard turns to see that Jim has closed in on them, hand on his hip near his phaser, the other stretched out. “Pavel, if they have your parents, we can find a way to free them. Put away your weapon, and we will figure something out.”
“No, no, you can’t help me.” Leonard can feel Pavel’s other hand come up, feels as he hits his chest to activate his communicator.
“Enterprise, two to beam up.”
Leonard closes his eyes, ready to spring free once they are on the other ship - but nothing happens, and he’s still on the bridge, still pressed to Pavel’s body.
“Enterprise, incoming. Do you copy?”
Leonard doesn’t think, he just takes half a step to the side, brings his elbow up and slams it into Pavel’s chest. Pavel stumbles, letting go of Leonard. Leonard turns, not really thinking about what he’s going to do next, when Jim takes a step forward, grabbing Pavel’s wrist and trying to wrestle the phaser from his hands.
Tumbling against a console, Pavel tries to shake off Jim while still hailing for the Enterprise. Leonard is rooted to the spot, watching them struggle, when suddenly a bright light starts swirling around them.
“No!” he yells, his feet starting towards Jim. He can feel someone grab his shirt, holding him back.
Then Jim is gone.
Leonard stares at the now empty space, blinking. He hears the blood rushing in his ears, and he’s aware he’s breathing heavily. It should have been him.
He rounds to Hikaru who lets go of his shirts. “What the hell?”
“It is very unhealthy to jump into a beaming process. You should know that.” Hikaru answers drily.
“But Jim, he’s," Leonard tastes bile in his mouth and swallows, “he’s over there, alone.”
“I know. And we are going to get him back.”
“I really don’t want to be the party pooper here,” Scotty drawls, “but have you any idea how we are supposed to do that?”
Leonard turns to flash Scotty an angry look. “And where the hell have you been?”
“Well, maybe I was looking out to make sure we weren’t getting shot at again?”
Leonard snorts. “As if they would shoot us when they know that one of their cronies is on his way with me in tow.”
“Well, that didn’t keep them from doing it the first time.” Scotty points out.
“That was a warning, you know that as much as I do.” Leonard yells back.
“Yes? Why don’t you take your knowledge and shove it up your...”
“Ladies. As much as this might have a certain entertainment value, this is not helping.” Hikaru says, holding up his hands in a calming gesture.
Leonard huffs a breath, crosses his arms over his chest.
“Thank you. So, any ideas?”
“We could blow the ship apart.” Scotty says.
“Jim’s onboard that ship!” Leonard can’t believe what he just heard.
“I didn’t say it’s a good idea.”
“Yes, thank you Scotty. How about a good idea?”
“We could surrender.” Hikaru suggests.
“The hell you do that.”
Leonard turns, jumping at the voice behind him. Christine looks fierce, with her eyes sparkling and her hair standing up every which way.
“These suckers, they deserve to get killed individually, and slowly. Surrender my ass.”
“Well, yes, of course not. I didn’t mean actually surrender. I meant, we could pretend to surrender, make them think they’ve got us, and then jump them when they don’t see it coming.”
“Sounds nice and all, but I think they will kill us before we have the chance. They want him, not us.”
Leonard looks at Scotty’s finger pointing at him, and takes a deep breath.
Scotty is right. They want him. And as much as he doesn’t trust them, there is the slight chance they will let the others live, let them go. Maybe even let Jim go. Leonard huffs a breath. Not very likely. But there is one way, he thinks. “I’m going.”
“What?” Christine asks incredulously.
“I’m going. I’m handing myself in.”
Hikaru puts a hand on his shoulder. “Leonard, you can’t. They will imprison you, torture you... And Jim... they won’t let him go.”
“I know. You think I’m stupid? But I can get him out of there...”
Scotty snorts. “You and what army?”
“Think about it. They don’t see it coming. I’m just a doctor, stupid enough to think they will let Jim go if I ask them to. It has an element of surprise.”
Hikaru taps his chin. “Okay, and how will you get back? It’s not like you could walk in and out of there like you want to.”
“The hell should I know? Can’t you beam us out of there?” Leonard asks, turning to Christine.
“If the shields are up? No.” She says, shrugging.
Leonard furrows his brow, thinking. “What about shuttles?”
“What about them?” Hikaru asks.
“Can we get one out?”
“In case you make it to the shuttle bay without being seen? Yes.”
“There. That’s the plan then.” Leonard crosses his arms over his chest.
“Leonard, this is madness. You won’t make it out of the cell, let alone into the shuttle bay. And there is the tiny matter of the ship being right in front of us.”
“Well, they could damage their weapons and the warp drive. Would make them as helpless as a newborn baby.” Christine says.
Hikaru huffs a breath. “Great. So they get out of the brig, into engineering, tamper with everything they find, waltz into the shuttle bay, steal a shuttle, come back and everything is fine?”
“Basically.” Leonard scoffs.
Hikaru throws his hands in the air, frustrated. “Whatever.”
“You have a better plan?” Leonard asks.
“I thought so.”
“So what, I call them now?” Hikaru asks, turning to the console again.
“Show me to sickbay first.”
Hikaru’s eyebrows rise questioningly, but he walks past Leonard, leading the way.
In sickbay, Leonard unpacks the laser scalpel he only found yesterday, toggles the switch, listens how it comes to life. Strange how his life seems to revolve around these things, he muses as he slips it into his boot, careful not to let it slip under his foot.
Hikaru stands in the doorframe, still not saying anything. Leonard can almost hear his thoughts. Most of them are his own, but he can’t help it, he has to at least try and save Jim. He wouldn’t be able to look into a mirror anymore otherwise. He turns, nods at Hikaru, and they make their way through the messed up corridors of this messed up ship.
Not five minutes after Jim was beamed aboard the Enterprise, Hikaru types something on the control panel, and hits a button. The screen comes to life in front of them, showing the Enterprise as they wait for them to answer. Leonard feels sweat break out on his skin, running down his back. For a second he can’t help the irrational thought that they won’t answer, that there is no way of rescuing Jim. Leonard shakes himself as the screen first goes black, then shows the face of the Vulcan again.
“Doctor McCoy I presume?”
A shiver runs down Leonard’s back, and he swallows. His heart pounds in his chest, and he has to take another deep breath before saying, “You wanted me. Here I am.”
“So I see,” Spock says, arching an eyebrow. Leonard never wanted to punch someone in the face so hard before in his life.
“And I presume you want me to exchange you with Mr. Kirk?”
“That’s right,” you bloody bastard, Leonard adds in his head.
“Fascinating. I take it it’s clear you will come alone and unarmed?”
Leonard shifts his weight, feels the reassuring shape of the laser scalpel against his leg. “Yes.”
“Good.” Spock leans back, and Leonard swears he sees a smug look on his face.
“Lieutenant Mitchell, beam Doctor McCoy onboard please.”
Leonard braces himself, and this time he almost feels his molecules pull apart and come together again.
A breath later, he feels fingers clamp down on his arms, feels someone force him to his knees. He goes without struggle, looks up into the face of a security officer.
“Hold still,” the man sneers as he attaches cuffs to Leonard’s wrists, securing them behind his back.
“I am holding still, in case you hadn’t noticed,” Leonard snaps back.
It earns him a slap across his cheeks. It stings, but he doesn’t flinch, doesn’t make a sound, only looks defiantly back at the man.
“Stubborn, are we? Well, that will fade quickly once you’ve been to one of our agony booths.”
Leonard is hauled to his feet again and glares at the man, wrestling from his grip. “Yeah, whatever. Now do what they told you to do and stop wasting my time.”
The man chuckles, grabs Leonard’s arm and drags him forward. “Like you’re going anywhere other than the brig from now on.”
Leonard bites his teeth around the words that this is exactly where he wants to go.
They walk out the door, along corridors and landings, when Leonard comes to a halt he asks, “What about my friend?”
“Your friend? Oh, you will see him soon enough,” the security officer says and starts walking again.
“You said you would let him go!” Leonard yells, hopes it sounds convincing, hopes his captors believe he’s stupid enough to believe they would keep their promise.
The man only chuckles. Apparently, it worked.
When they reach the brig, Leonard’s arms are hurting from the position they’re in, and sweat is running down his back again. The security officer stops, fiddles with a panel next to one of the doors that slides open.
“Here we are. Have fun you two.”
With that, Leonard is thrown into a dark room. The doors slide shut again, and Leonard takes a few seconds to get used to the lighting, a soft glow to the left of him.
He tries to straighten his back, get more comfortable, when he hears a voice. “Bones?”
Relief floods him, almost makes him stagger. Up until now a part of him had been worried they had killed Jim, took him somewhere else.
“Jim,” he starts, but words leave him when his eyes settle on him, hands also bound behind him, and he makes out his expression. He looks horrified.
“What... what happened? Where’s Hikaru? Scotty? Please, don’t tell me they are dead!”
“What? No. No, they are alright. They’re still on the Insurgency.”
“But how, how do you - what are you doing here?”
“I surrendered to Spock, Jim.”
“What the fuck, Bones? What do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m here to get you back!”
“Are you out of your mind?”
“Apparently I am, or I wouldn't be here. But I have a plan.”
“A plan, he says. Fine. What plan is that supposed to be?”
Leonard tells him, voice hushed in case they’re overheard, head bent so his lips are almost brushing Jim’s ear. When he’s finished, he leans back, watching Jim’s face.
Jim breathes deep. “You know, of all escape plans...”
Jim looks at him, grinning. “The absurd thing is, this might actually work. I really can’t believe it.”
Leonard smirks. “I have my moments.”
“I don’t doubt that.”
For a beat, they grin at each other, and Leonard is glad he’s here. In a way.
“So, what now?” Jim asks.
“Now you watch me,” Leonard says before he hooks his left leg around his right, steps on his toe cap and starts tugging.
“That looks interesting. You do the Crescent Moon next?”
“Very funny.” Leonard grumbles back as he tugs again.
“Maybe next time you should hide your escape tools somewhere else”, Jim says with a grin.
“Next time, I’ll leave you with your friends to rot.” A last tug, and the foot slips free, the boot flopping to the ground. Leonard turns to look at it, huffs a breath, and goes to his knees to retrieve it.
“Bones, do you really think this is the time and place?” Jim asks.
Leonard rolls his eyes. “Instead of making stupid jokes you could help me here.”
“I don’t know. You look like you’re doing great.”
“I really don’t know why I even bother,” Leonard grumbles as he gets to his feet again, boot in his hand, turning it so the scalpel falls out of it.
Jim steps closer, looks into his eyes, grin growing bigger. “Because you love me.”
Leonard opens his mouth - to disagree, to agree, he doesn’t know - when with a clatter the scalpel hits the ground.
“Finally.” Bones grouses as he bends his knees again, ignoring that Jim is still standing very close, instead feeling for the scalpel. When he finds it, he rises, trying not to drop it.
Blindly, he fumbles for the switch, turning it to the lowest setting and twists it slowly in his fingers. He closes his eyes, levels his breathing and hopes this cell really doesn’t have a video feed. He feels the warmth of the laser against his skin as he tilts the scalpel a little, takes in a hissing breath.
“Bones, what? Are you hurt?”
He ignores Jim, tilts his head as he moves the scalpel again. After half an eternity, he feels the cuff around his wrist come loose, and he tugs himself free, bringing his hands to the front, turning off the scalpel as he does so.
His hand is an angry red, but it’s nothing, he’ll be fine, he's had worse. But Jim notices, can’t leave it alone. “Fuck Bones, what did you do?”
Leonard scowls. “It’s nothing. Really.”
Jim looks at him skeptically, but Leonard turns his attention to the cuff around his other wrist. Now that he can see what he’s doing, it doesn’t take long to break that cuff too, wondering if this sets up an alarm somewhere. Well, they would soon find out if it did.
Rid of his cuffs, scalpel in his grip, he looks at Jim. “Turn around.”
“I wondered when you would ask,” Jim says as he obeys.
Leonard rolls his eyes. “You think you are so cute,” he grumbles.
Jim chuckles, and Leonard slaps the back of his head slightly. “Hold still, will you.”
Jim’s cuffs go without a hassle, and he walks to the door, rubbing his wrists absentmindedly. “So, any idea how we open this?”
Leonard scowls at his back. “I thought you could come up with that part.”
“Good thing I'm smart.” Jim rolls his shoulders, flexes his fingers and inspects the door.
Leonard watches him work as he puts on his boot again, watches how Jim tilts his head, how his fingers drum on the ground, how his hands go to his head and he ruffles his hair. Jim mutters under his breath, and Leonard shifts his weight, waiting with bated breath, hoping there won’t be a guard right behind the door once it opens.
Seconds tick by, become minutes, and Leonard tries not to get impatient, not to urge Jim to go faster.
“Aha!” Jim exclaims, and Leonard watches as the door slides halfway open, then gets stuck. “Well, at least that's something.”
“Enough for me. Let’s go.”
Leonard is almost out of the door, eyes darting left and right, looking out for any guards, when Jim grabs his arm, yanking him back.
“What?” he snaps, the hair on the back of his neck raising, nostrils flaring.
Jim takes a step closer, fixing him with his blue stare, and Leonard swallows.
“Just in case we don’t make it,” Jim whispers, close enough for Leonard to feel his breath on his lips, “it was nice knowing you, Leonard.” Jim leans forward, kissing him briefly.
Leonard blinks, tries to wrap his head around what just happened - did Jim really just kiss him? - when Jim tugs at his arm again. “Come on, what are you waiting for?”
Leonard growls. That idiot will be the death of him.
They sneak their way out of the room, and Leonard already wonders where everyone might be, when Jim stops him with a hand to his chest. Jim leans back and whispers, “There’s a crewman around a corner. You wait here.”
Before Leonard can object - he’s the doctor with the laser scalpel after all - Jim is already gone, creeping around the corner. Leonard doesn’t dare watch, only hears a muffled thump. Then Jim is back, eyes glinting dangerously.
“Come on. Where there is one, there are many more.”
Leonard nods and starts walking again, trying to listen for any noise, watching for any movement.
When Jim stops in his tracks, Leonard almost walks into him. “Jim, what?”
Part Four | Part Six | Master Post