Leonard turns to look at what Jim's seeing, and his blood freezes at the sight. Pavel is trapped
in a tube-like cell, suspended a few feet over the ground, his hands bound. Seeing him dangling in this thing is not the worst. The worst is the look on his face.
Leonard has seen his share of pain and agony and desperation. But he’s never seen anyone suffer as he’s sees Pavel now. He swallows hard. Despite the fact that Pavel wanted to hand Leonard over, he wasn’t sure the young man deserved that.
Just then Leonard can see the light in the cell change color, going a light red, and Pavel jerks, body convulsing in pain, and he lets out a cry like a wounded animal. Leonard swallows around the bile rising in his throat, and he turns away, looks to the ground, helpless and sick, when he sees movement in the corner of his eyes.
He turns to look at Jim who takes another step towards the cell. “What the hell are you doing?” he hisses.
“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m going to get him out of there!”
Leonard can’t believe his ears, and snaps back, “We don’t have the time for that!”
“I’m not leaving him in this thing!”
But Jim silences him with a look.”You want to leave, fine with me. I’m not leaving without him!”
Leonard sighs, crossing his arms over his chest. “I swear, if we get caught...”
“Cheer up Bones. That face will give you wrinkles,” Jim answers with his trademark grin. Leonard only scowls harder.
He knows Jim is right, knows that he wouldn’t be able to look at himself in the mirror anymore if he left Pavel behind suffering like that. But he also doesn’t want to end up in one of these things himself.
Jim approaches the control panel, eyeing it with interest. His fingers hover over buttons and levers, and Leonard wonders what’s going on his head, if he knows what he’s doing or if he’s going in blind, hoping for good luck. Leonard hopes Jim won’t fry Pavel accidently.
Jim crouches down some more, inspecting settings and numbers, and Leonard decides he’s not going to be much help anyway, and makes his way to the door.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Jim asks, and when Leonard turns, he’s not even looking at Leonard, his eyes are still on the console.
“I was going to invite some people over for tea. What do you think I’m doing? I’m looking out for the bad guys to walk around a corner.”
“Stop being dramatic. You’d better come over here and help me.”
“Jim, I’m a doctor, not a torturer. I don’t know how this works.”
“You don’t need to know how it works if you put that scalpel of yours exactly here.” Jim points to the console.
Leonard feels stupid for a moment, then he goes to the console, reaching for his laser scalpel. He toggles the switch, points and watches the plastic melt, watches digits disappear.
“Hm, just as I thought...” Jim muses aloud.
“What? Is it working?”
“Keep doing it,” Jim says and starts pulling a lever, his nose scrunched up in concentration.
There is a sliding noise, a small pop, and then the door to the cell opens.
“Whooohoo,” Jim punches the air with his fist.
Leonard switches off the scalpel and turns to watch the door slide open further. The anti-gravity fields collapses, and Pavel falls, crying out as his knees hit the floor.
“Shit!” Leonard curses as he rushes forward, arms coming around Pavel’s torso to steady him.
“Oh fuck, sorry Pavel. Didn’t mean that to happen.”
Pavel lets out a small moan as Leonard gathers him in his arms, lifting him from the pod.
“Yeah, as if you knew what you were doing in the first place.”
“Hey, this is my first time on a Starfleet ship too, you know?”
Leonard rolls his eyes and shifts his weight to strengthen his hold on Pavel. “Hey, you think you can stand?”
Pavel lets out another pained sound, and Leonard winces.
“Yeah, didn’t think so.” He turns to Jim. “So what now? I carry him around until you have another of your brilliant ideas?”
“One of us has to do it. And you are the doctor around here, right?”
“I swear, if we get out of here alive...”
“You will be very grateful. I know. I hear it all the time.” Jim turns to the console again, his eyes narrowing. “Bones?”
“I think we have a problem?”
Leonard opens his mouth to ask what is wrong. At the same time an ear splitting alarm goes off, and Leonard jumps, almost dropping Pavel.
“I kinda feared that would happen!” Jim yells over the noise, and Leonard wants to punch him. He doesn’t get to do it. He doesn’t get to shout at Jim either, as the door slides open, and armed security guards swarm into the room, shouting and pointing weapons at them.
Leonard scowls at Jim, who only raises his arms.
“I said hands in the air,” a guard yells, waiving his weapon toward Leonard.
“What, do you want me to drop him?” Leonard yells back before he can think better of it.
Jim’s eyes widen in shock, and Leonard curses himself silently as the weapon of another guard hits his back, and his knees buckle under him. He hits the floor hard, holding on to Pavel so he won’t slip from his arms.
“You think this is fun? You let go of the prisoner and put your hands behind your head now!”
Leonard bites back another retort and takes a deep breath. He leans forward and lets Pavel slide from his arms as carefully as he can. Then he straightens again, sliding his hands to his head, his glare shooting daggers at the guard.
The man steps forward, yanking Leonard’s hair so he’s looking up at him. “So, was it that hard?” he snarls, and Leonard’s mouth becomes a thin line as he forces himself to keep quiet.
“I should kill you for that look alone, you know that?” The guy lets go of Leonard again, takes a step back, looks down at Pavel. “You think he’s worth the trouble? Worth dying for? He’s not worth the dirt on my shoes.” With that he swings back his leg and kicks at Pavel, his boot connecting with a sick noise.
He does it again, and again, Pavel moaning and crying with every kick, and Leonard’s nostrils flare as he shouts, “Stop that!”
“Or what? You’re going to hurt me? Kill me? You think you could do that?”
Leonard’s hands twitch behind his head. He wants so bad to get up and show the guy exactly what he’s thinking of doing, when he hears a voice over the intercom.
“May I require what is taking so long?”
The guard jumps. “The prisoners are not cooperating, Sir.”
There is a long pause, and the guard starts fidgeting. Leonard has to fight down a grin.
“Then stun them and bring them to my office. I have other matters to attend to. Spock out.”
The room goes silent again, and Leonard stiffens as one of the others raises his gun.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“And carry them all the way to Spock’s office? No, I think they will come freely, now won't you?”
Leonard wants nothing more than tell the guard what exactly he thinks of him, but only gives him a curt nod.
The guard shoulders his weapon. “Okay guys, party’s over.”
Leonard is hauled to his feet, and cuffs snap around his wrists once more. Then someone shoves him in the back, and he starts walking, eyes on the floor. From the corner of his eyes, he sees someone stoop to lift Pavel from the ground, and lets out a relieved breath. At least they were done kicking him.
The way to Spock’s office is short and silent, the only noises are their shuffling feet and Pavel’s moans, growing softer and more infrequent. Leonard hopes this means he’s getting better, and is not dying from internal bleeding.
They stop in front of a door, and one of the guards hits a button. There is a buzz shortly after, and the door slides open. They get ushered inside, and Leonard finally looks up.
The rooms are plain, no signs of personal belongings to be seen. The desk dominates the room, as does the man behind it, golden waistcoat glinting in the light.
“Doctor McCoy. It is a pleasure to finally meet you.”
Leonard sneers, can’t help himself. “I would say it’s mutual, but that’s not the case.”
Jim next to him winces, and Leonard raises an eyebrow as he looks over at him.
Spock only looks at him, impassively, detached, then turns to the guard. “Leave us alone.”
“Sir!” The guards leave, the one carrying Pavel putting him into one of the seats before scuttling out of the door.
For a moment, no one says a word. Seconds stretch, and Leonard can feel his shoulders start straining, as Spock sits down, fingers splaying on the desk.
“As you may know, very influential people are concerned about your well-being. Which is why you weren’t put in one of the agonizer booths when you arrived on this ship.” Spock pauses, leaning back in his chair. “However, I cannot let behavior like yours go without punishment. It would undermine my authority as Captain of this vessel. So I hope you will refer from trying to escape from now on.”
Leonard can tell Spock is not yet finished, so he only tilts his head, waiting for what’s next.
“Since you cannot be harmed, I would ask of you to choose from one of your companions who is going to suffer for your actions.”
Leonard’s head snaps up at that, and he stammers, “N-no, you can’t do that, they have nothing to do with this, I came on my own, you can’t...”
Spock holds up one hand to silence him. “You certainly see my dilemma here. I would prefer you to choose, or I’ll have to do it for you.”
Leonard feels cold dread run down his spine. This is hell.
Leonard turns to look at Jim. Blue eyes blazing, he leans forward as he speaks to Spock. “Utter bullshit.”
“Excuse me?” Spock asks, eyebrow arching upwards.
“I always thought you Vulcans were so logical. So detached from emotion.”
“That is our way.”
“So why work for the Empire?”
The question is heavy, like they've had the argument before, and Spock almost smirks as he answers, “It is logical to work for the force that is the strongest.”
“But why treat people differently? Why torture one when leaving the other alone? Why let one person rule over everyone? Why try to be in their good graces?”
Spock’s lips grow thin, and Leonard can tell that this is not the first time he’s considering this, wondering if this is the only way to go. Leonard can’t help but feel a small spark of hope deep in his gut. If Jim plays this right, they might have a chance to survive this, might get out of here unharmed.
“It is the way the system works. There is no other way.”
“That’s not true and you know it. You read the same books I did back at the Academy. You know of democracy and freedom.”
Spock gets out of his chair, wanders to the small window next to him. “Let’s say those stories are true. What can a single man do?”
“More than you think. A single man can do a lot if he knows where to start.”
“But that is treason.”
“It’s the start of something new.”
Spock turns to look at them again, eyebrows pinched together.
“Think of it, Spock. Think of the logic of freedom, of people being able to make their own decisions, their own mistakes.”
Spock opens his mouth, and Leonard leans forward in anticipation.
With a bang, the door falls from its frame, and a phaser shot rings through the office, hitting Spock square in the chest.
“No!” Jim and Leonard shout simultaneously as Spock falls limbless onto the ground.
Scotty barges into the room, phaser in his hand and grin on his face. “No, fine, don’t thank me. I’ll save your lives any time.”
“But I... dammit, I almost had him,” Jim yells.
“Can you do anything but whine. Jeez.” Leonard hears another voice, and his eyes widen in disbelief as Christine saunters in, a phaser of her own in her hand.
She wears a women’s Starfleet uniform, which equals to almost nothing, and Leonard cannot help but stare at that skirt short enough to nearly be not there at all. Only then does he realize that Scotty is wearing a red shirt, Starfleet logo on his chest and boots high over his knees.
“Leonard, you’re drooling,” Christine says with a laugh, then she bends down to Spock to retrieve something from his pockets.
Leonard pointedly looks at the ceiling.
“Do you want to tell me what you are doing here?” Jim asks.
“Saving your ass. What does it look like?” Scotty answers with a grin.
“Yes, I can see that. But how did you get here?”
“Well, your friend here,” Scotty kicks Spock slightly, “sent someone to ‘persuade’ us to surrender. We hit them hard over the head, stole their uniforms and pretended to be them, asking to be beamed back after killing everyone.”
“And what is Christine doing here?”
“Well, genius," Scotty say mockingly, "Spock sent a woman. And Hikaru looks silly in that dress. Besides, someone needed to stay behind to fend off other attacks and help us get back to the ship.”
“Yeah, and I wanted a shot at getting back at these bastards. For what they did to Robert.”
“Christine, I told you what I think of vengeance.”
“Yes. I didn’t listen.” Christine shrugs.
Jim rolls his eyes and starts to answer, when Leonard chimes in, “As nice as this is, and as much as I appreciate seeing you, you think we could get back to the ship now?”
“Yeah, he’s right. Let’s go.”
“Wait. Aren’t you going to free us from this stupid cuffs?” Leonard asks.
“Not as long as we are pretending to return you to your cells. You’ll have to wait for a while longer.” Christine grins.
Leonard sighs, but keeps silent. She does have a point. He’s ready to go, when he sees Jim kneel down next to Pavel, nudging his shoulder. “Hey, you alright?”
Pavel groans as his eyes flutter open, his gaze flicking over the scene in front of him, settling on Jim. “Please, don’t hurt me. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I didn’t have a choice.”
“Psht, no one is going to hurt you.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” Scotty mumbles, but Jim ignores him. “We’re getting you out of here. You think you can walk?”
Pavel blinks surprised, stretching his legs as he nods. ”I think so, yes.”
Jim nods, gets up from the floor again, walks to the door to take a look outside. “Doesn’t seem like anyone heard your stealthy encounter with the door.” He smirks as he looks back at Scotty. “Come on, let’s get outta here.”
They head outside, and on their way back to the transporter bay, trying to look as unsuspicious as they can, prisoners on their way back into their cells, heads bowed, feet shuffling. Leonard tenses at every noise, only waits for something to go wrong, but miraculously no one stops them.
Just when Leonard starts breathing lightly again, he hears heavy footsteps hitting the ground, and he hunches his shoulders some more as a female officer brushes past them. Leonard doesn’t look up, only sees her legs as she walks past him, and he closes his eyes briefly, hoping for her to mind her own business, but.
“Hey, you. What happened to saluting?”
Now Leonard looks up in time to see Christine turning around, a slight pink flush to her cheeks. “Sorry, ma’am. Won’t happen again,” she says in a hushed tone as she hits her chest with her right fist, then straightens her arm in a greeting gesture.
The officer walks closer, and Leonard can see her now, her dark eyes narrowing as she squints at Christine. “I should punish you for this here and now. You’re lucky I have to be somewhere.” Her voice is pure venom, and Leonard shudders to think what exactly she had in mind as a punishment.
Christine gulps audibly and stammers, “Ye- yes, ma’am”.
The officer turns to look at Jim, at Leonard, at Pavel, and her eyes narrow some more, and Leonard can’t help but think that they’re fucked. “What are you doing here anyway?” The officer inquires. Leonard can feel Jim tensing next to him, and hopes he won’t do anything rash.
“Special orders from the Captain, we're taking these fuckers back to their cells,” Scotty drawls, and Leonard is glad someone keeps his head.
“Are you now? And who are you? I can’t remember seeing you here before.”
“Transferred here last week. Haven’t gotten around to introducing myself properly yet,” Scotty answers. Leonard can see his fingers twitch towards his phaser.
“I think I would know of any transfers lately,” the officer grumbles, reaching for her communicator, “I will have to check this.”
Leonard watches with dread as she lifts the communicator to her lips, can see the panicked look Christine shoots Jim.
“Uhura here, I need you to confirm...”
“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Scotty growls and draws his phaser.
“No!” Jim and Leonard yell at the exact same moment, but it’s too late, the shot ringing through the corridor, the communicator falling from Uhura’ s fingers as she hits the ground.
Leonard can only stare at her, only dimly aware that Jim is shouting at Scotty.
“Are you out of your fucking mind?”
“What? I only stunned her. Jeez, don’t wet your pants,” Scotty answers grumpily.
“You idiot, the whole ship will be after us, whoever was on the other end heard that shot, as well as everyone else close to us, can’t you use your brain for once?” Jim is shaking with rage, and it’s probably Scotty’s lucky day Jim is still wearing his cuffs. And Leonard too, for that matter.
“You think I don’t know that? What was I supposed to do? Let her ask her friends if we are legit? That wouldn’t have changed anything, and you know that!”
Jim lets out a frustrated sigh. “Right, whatever. Not the time. Let’s just see that we get out of here before…”
A phaser shot misses Jim by an inch, and Leonard turns just in time to hear the bellowed “Freeze!” addressed at them.
“Great! Just great!” Jim curses. “Happy now?”
Scotty grins, and Leonard decides it’s the most frightening thing he’s ever seen.
“You bet I am.” With that, Scotty steps forward, phaser pointing at the three security officers who are aiming their phasers at them.
“So, who wants to go first?” Scotty asks, and Leonard can’t believe the guy’s actually laughing.
Then the first shot hits a wall next to Scotty, and Jim snaps, “Christine, get me out of these things!” Christine jumps, and fumbles with the cuffs until they fall from Jim’s wrists.
“You take care of Pavel!” Jim shouts at Leonard before he shoots at one of the security officers with the phaser Christine hands him.
“You can bet your ass I will,” Leonard mumbles, his words lost in the clatter his own cuffs make as they hit the ground.
Pavel only blinks at him, crouched against the next wall. At least he doesn’t make a move to join the bad guys again. Leonard takes another phaser from Christine, and turns around to see three security officers lying on the ground, Jim nudging one with a foot.
“We really should get out of here,” Christine says, and just as they start walking down the corridor, more officers keep popping around corners.
Leonard loses track of how many people they have to dodge, the trip to the transporter room is a blur, and the only thing that feels real is Pavel’s back under his palm where he keeps him down, trying to protect him. He shoots one or two uniformed guys himself, baffled over how fast he reacts, but there's no time to ponder on that.
They storm into the transporter room, and Leonard half expects there to be more fighting, but there are only bodies on the floor, and he stops, looks at Scotty questioningly.
Scotty follows his gaze and shrugs his shoulders. “Had to stun them, too. They were going to tell on us.”
“Come on, this is no hen party,” Jim yells, dragging Leonard with him to the transporter pad. “Let just hope they haven’t activated the shields again.”
Leonard looks at Jim, almost too afraid to ask. “What happens when we try to beam through the shields?”
“Nothing pretty,” Jim answers, and Leonard decides he doesn’t want to know.
Pavel runs to the controls, fiddling with levers and buttons, only to utter a curse. “Captain, the shields are up.”
“Fuck!” Jim swears.
“I can disable them from here.” Pavel looks up. “But I won’t be able to beam aboard the Insurgency with you.”
“No, I’m not leaving you behind,” Jim yells.
“You must. You have no other choice.”
Jim looks at Pavel, eyes scanning his face. “You sure?”
Pavel nods, and Leonard breathes deep. Pavel starts hitting buttons, making adjustments. “You better get away as fast as you can. I will try and get into engineering , destroy their weapon systems.”
“Pavel, you can’t! It’s too dangerous!”
“They won’t suspect me at first. And until they realize what I’m doing, it will be too late. Don’t worry about me.” Pavel swallows. “And don’t come back to get me. I will try to keep the shields lowered long enough for you to do as much damage as you can. Destroy this ship if you can.”
Jim opens his mouth to speak, but Pavel raises a hand. “Tell Hikaru,” he starts, but bites his lips, shaking his head.
Leonard heaves a sigh.
Pavel hits a final button, and Leonard can feel himself dissolving, and with a swirl of light, the Insurgency is back.
“Okay, see that you get Pavel out of there asap,” Jim bellows. “I need to get to the bridge.”
He rushes out of the room, and Christine sighs, then steps to the control panel.
“Go on, go after him. I can handle this.”
Leonard doesn’t doubt that for a second, only waits for Scotty to lead the way.
Scotty surprises him by going to Christine, wrapping an arm around her waist and pulling her close. “I love competent women,” he growls, and she giggles as he pulls her closer, kissing her on the mouth.
Leonard’s mind boggles, and he tries not to stare, but it’s like a shuttle crash watching Scotty’s tongue push into Christine’s mouth, Christine grabbing his shirt like a lifeline. Then the moment is over, Christine pushing at Scotty’s chest, pulling back.
“Go! I have something to do, you animal!” she says breathlessly, a laugh in her voice.
Scotty slaps her playfully on her behind, then walks to the door, turning to Leonard. “You coming or what?”
Leonard glares at him, and together they weave through the corridors of the Insurgency again. Leonard almost missed this. Almost.
When they arrive on the bridge, Jim is in the chair, looking at the Enterprise like it will fall out of space if he wills it to. “Okay Hikaru, give it all you have!”
“What about Pavel?”
“We are working on it. Now would you please shoot!”
Hikaru gives Jim a skeptical look, but does as he’s told, pulling levers and hitting buttons. A green phaser beam shoots through space, hitting the Enterprise full force. Sparks fly and Leonard watches as parts of the ship splinter away.
“Warp drive down to 10%, weapon systems the same,” Hikaru reads from an instrument.
“Perfect.” Jim hits a button on his armrest. “Christine?”
“Got him in one piece.”
“Okay guys. Let’s get out of here.” Jim sweeps to his feet, strolling to the door.
Leonard reaches out for him, grabbing his arm. “Why not destroy it while you can?”
“I don’t like killing people. I thought you would understand.”
“You think this is a good idea?” Scotty drawls from where he’s standing, and Leonard almost jumps. He’d totally forgotten about the man.
Jim turns around, facing Scotty, eyes narrowed. “What do you mean?”
Scotty shifts his weight, crosses his arms in front of him. “I mean, letting a mole back on the ship. Is this such a good idea?”
Jim huffs, makes a face. “He’s not a mole.”
“No? So who do you think told Starfleet about our position? Not to forget that he wanted to take pretty boy here,” Scotty adds, pointing at Leonard, “over to the evil guys. I’d say we leave them to deal with him.”
Jim shakes his head. “No. You didn’t see what they did to him. I’m not leaving him to that.”
“Probably deserved that, the old...”
“Enough! I’m not leaving him behind. Besides, he deserves a second chance.” Jim pauses, fixes Scotty with a ice cold stare. “Like all of us, right, Scotty?”
Scotty licks his lips, eyes glinting dangerously, and for a moment Leonard’s sure he’s going to draw a weapon, or jump Jim, but then Scotty huffs a breath, shakes his head. “Fine, whatever. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!”
With that, he stomps from the bridge, past Leonard and down the corridor, and Leonard can’t help but roll his eyes.
Jim gives a snort, and turns to Hikaru, waving his hand. “Let’s get out of here, okay?”
Hikaru nods and pushes a lever, accelerating the ship to get away as fast as she can.
“Leonard?” Jim asks, and Leonard startles a bit, only now realizing how close Jim’s standing.
“Could you look after Pavel? Make sure he’s not hurt too badly?”
Leonard nods, and turns around, staring at the corridor. “Well, let’s see if you let me find the way this time, shall we?” he says under his breath, all too aware that it is a bad sign that he’s talking to a ship.
Not that it helps, as it takes him ten minutes and two wrong turns to find his way, peering into the transporter room like he’s fully expecting to find something else. But there they are, Christine standing behind the panel, frowning down at the display like it offended her. Pavel sitting in a chair, head between his knees, breath shallow.
Leonard enters the room, comes to a halt next to Christine. “Hey.”
“You alright?” He asks, concern in his voice.
“I’m stellar. Even if you think I might be suffering from severe brain damage from what you saw earlier.”
Leonard shrugs his shoulder. “None of my business, really.” He turns to look at Pavel. “What about him?”
“Don’t know. Hasn’t said much since he’s been back.”
Leonard walks to Pavel, looking for signs of injuries or pain, but Pavel sits there, head in his hands, breathing deeply.
Leonard crouches before him, puts a warm hand on his knee. “Hey kid. You alright?”
Pavel nods almost imperceptibly, but it’s a reaction, and Leonard breathes a bit more freely as he shifts closer.
“You think you could look at me?”
For a long moment, nothing happens. Leonard takes a deep breath, tries to be patient. Squeezes Pavel’s knee softly. Then Pavel straightens, his trembling fingers falling from his face, revealing bloodshot eyes, and drying tear stains on his cheeks.
“I’m sorry,” he croaks, a desperate whisper before a sob escapes his throat, and he buries his face in his hands again as he starts crying, shoulders shaking with the force of it.
“Hey, hey,” Leonard says, his hand coming to rest on Pavel’s shoulder. “It’s alright. You’re safe now.”
Pavel only sobs harder, and Leonard squeezes his shoulder, at a loss for words.
They stay like this for God knows how long, Leonard’s knees protesting, and he’s close to losing his patience, when Pavel stops, heaving deep breaths as he looks at Leonard again.
Pavel nods, his curls flying around his head, and Leonard gives a smile. “You think you can come with me to check if everything is alright?”
“I think so,” Pavel answers, his voice still weak.
Leonard stands, holding out his hand for Pavel to take.
Pavel shakes his head, raises from the chair unaided, only to wince halfway up, his hand going to his left side. “Whoa there, easy boy,” Bones says, reaching for Pavel, steadying him.
He puts an arm around Pavel’s waist, steadying him as they walk towards sickbay, glad that the kid can tell him the way.
Once there, Leonard pushes away boxes to get a tricorder. It’s an old model, a wonder it’s still working, but it will do for now. He scans Pavel, noticing with relief that nothing’s broken, no damage to the organs.
“You are one lucky bastard, you know that?” he says to Pavel, patting his knee. “You tend to these bruises, and try to keep out of any fights for the next few days, and everything will be alright.”
Pavel smiles weakly at him, and looks exactly how Leonard feels - like he could use a long and peaceful holiday.
They walk to the bridge together, Pavel smiling shyly at Hikaru as he returns to his seat in front of the screen, and Leonard comes to stand behind Jim in his chair.
“Mended your pilot for you,” he says dryly, looking down.
“Okay, thanks Bones. Oh, and we’ll get you to a safe haven the moment we arrive at a planet.” Jim smile is strained as he looks up, reaches for his hand, squeezes it briefly before looking at the screen again.
Leonard blinks, confused. What the fuck was that about? He watches Jim, his mind racing. Is Jim really throwing him off the ship? After all that happened, after all they went through?
“Do you have any preference where you want to go?” Hikaru asks, and Leonard can’t believe this, can’t believe they are really getting rid of him. He’s aware Hikaru’s watching him, but he can’t find the words to say what he’s thinking right now, so he just shrugs, and leaves the bridge.
This time, it doesn’t take him long to find his room. He closes the door, leans against it for a second, and his gaze falls to the bag he packed, the glass of water on the nightstand.
With a pang in his chest, he realizes he doesn’t want to go, is really getting used to this ship, to the people onboard. He had really started picturing himself as a ship's doctor, mending broken bones and phaser wounds, staying behind and worrying about Jim, about the others.
He shakes his head. Typically him, suddenly wanting something he’d always thought he would hate.
His eyes stray to the book Jim has given him, fuck, three days ago, how could his life turn upside down in such a short time? He takes the two steps to the bedside table, picks up the book. Flicks the pages to find the place he’d stopped. What a pity he won’t get to find out how it ends.
He sits down heavily on the bed, his eyes on the book, not really seeing it. Grips the book tighter, fingers digging into the cover as anger washes over him.
How dare Jim decide what Leonard wanted? Leonard couldn’t decide what he wanted. He’s aware he’s shaking, and takes a deep breath. He gets off the bed, starts pacing the room. Comes to stand in front of the shelf, his gaze falling to the picture of Rodriguez.
The young man looking back at him is young, looks carefree and happy. Behind him there's a row of trees, a small lake. Leonard wonders how close to his death the picture's been taken.
He takes a trembling breath. He doesn't want to end like Rodriguez. Fuck, he doesn't even want to be in space if he's honest, and yet.
He doesn't want to leave either, feels too connected to this bunch of idiots, too much at home to just turn his back, as stupid as it sounds.
He runs a hand over his face, takes a deep breath. Fuck, but his life is a mess.
He looks down at the book in his hand, and makes a decision. Turns around and opens the door. Time to talk to the captain.
It doesn't take long to find Jim's quarters, surprisingly he remembers the way, and not a minute later he's knocking on the door like the ship’s on fire.
“Yeah, come in. Jeez,” he hears behind the door, and he steps back as it opens. Finds himself face to face with Jim, hair tousled and eyes wide open in surprise.
“Bones? What is it? Something happened?”
Leonard pushes past him, comes to stand next to Jim’s desk. “You bet. I’ve had it with your bullshit is what happened!”
Jim is still standing at the door, blinking like a confused owl, hand raking through his hair. “What? Bones, you’re not making sense at all.”
“Is that so? I thought it was the other way around.”
“What is wrong with you? You think you can throw me off your ship now that you don’t need me anymore? After what I went through to get you back?”
“Bones, I...” Jim stops, taking a step closer. “Wait, are you saying you don’t want to go?”
“You bet I am!”
“Okay, first of all, stop yelling at me. I have one hell of a headache.”
Leonard opens his mouth to say something, but Jim raises a hand to silence him, so he only huffs a breath and crosses his arms in front of his chest.
“Second, and remind me if I’m wrong, you said you wanted to leave at the next planet we find, right?”
“Yes, but that was before-”
Jim raises his hand again. “Right?” he asks, his voice growing louder.
“So, here we are, on the way to a planet again. Tell me, how am I supposed to know you changed your mind?”
“I don’t know. I thought the fact that I came to get you was a pretty obvious.”
Jim smiles, and takes another step closer. Only now does Leonard realize Jim’s wearing only boxers, and he swallows.
“I appreciate you came to save me, I really do. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see you. But that doesn’t make me a mind reader.”
“But how could you think I could leave you behind after all that happened?”
“Maybe I didn’t want to hope too much? Maybe you aren’t as transparent as you think?”
Leonard presses his lips together, takes a deep breath. Asks, “You want me to go?”
“I couldn’t think of anything I want less.” Jim steps even closer, his scent filling Leonard’s nose. “I wanted you to stay the day I met you.”
Leonard clears his throat, suddenly not trusting his voice. “Why?”
“You have no idea how hot you are, right?” Jim asks, and Leonard snorts a laugh.
“Right, that wasn’t the only reason.” Jim is now close enough that Leonard can count the freckles on his nose. “It was when you didn’t want to leave the Imperial transport without checking on me. It’s hard to resist stubborn competence.”
Leonard lets out another snorted laugh, making Jim smile. Then Jim’s gaze drops, and he reaches out, touching Leonard’s wrist.
“You wanted to give this back?” Jim asks, and Leonard follows his gaze, realizing he’s still holding the book.
“Actually,” Leonard starts, looking up just as Jim does, “no. I’m not finished yet.”
Jim smiles at that, a true, open smile, and Leonard can’t help but smile back.
Jim takes another half step forward, invading Leonard’s personal space. Leonard’s fingers dig into the cover of the book again as he tries not to move, even if he doesn’t know where he would be going.
“Bones?” Jim murmurs, lips close to Leonard’s ear, and Leonard shivers involuntarily at the hot breath ghosting over his skin.
“Just to make sure: I think you would like to kiss me now. Is that right?” Leonard can hear the grin in Jim’s voice as his hands find Leonard’s hips.
“That’s right,” Leonard answers, his voice low.
Jim leans even closer, turns his head so their lips almost meet. “Maybe you should do it then,” Jim mumbles, lips brushing against Leonard’s.
So Leonard does, closing those last millimeters between them, book clattering to the floor as his hands come up to bracket Jim’s face.
The kiss is everything and nothing like the one in the kitchen, both of them clinging to each other without the imminent possibility of death, and Leonard gets lost in the feel of Jim’s lips, slightly chapped and dry, but soft and pliant underneath his.
Jim’s hands wander to the rim of Leonard’s shirt and underneath, fingertips touching warm skin, skimming along the waistline of Leonard’s pants.
Then Jim suddenly pulls back, hand reaching up to tilt Leonard’s head so their gazes lock, and for a moment, Jim only looks at him, like he’s searching for something. Leonard holds completely still, looks back at Jim with the most open, honest expression he’s got.
Jim smiles softly, like he found what he was looking for, and pulls Leonard closer, kissing him again. Jim’s hands come up to cup his face, and he opens his mouth under Jim’s probing tongue.
Leonard groans as he kisses back, tipping Jim’s head back, running a hand down his chest, feeling his heart beat. His other hand comes up to cup Jim’s head, fingers running through short hair. Jim tugs at his shirt, and Leonard leans back to remove it with one fast motion.
Jim looks at him hungrily, and Leonard can’t help but blush a little. But Jim only mutters, “Beautiful, fuck, Bones,” and kisses him again, hands roaming his chest.
Leonard moans as Jim finds a nipple, kisses him hard as he runs his hands along the outline of his ribs, and slaps away his hands as he finds a ticklish spot. Laughing, Jim takes a step back, hooks his fingers into the waistband of his boxers and lets them fall to the floor.
Leonard gets rid of the rest of his clothes, and steps close to Jim again, hands going round to grab his ass. Jim smiles into the kiss, then moans as their cocks slide together for the first time. Leonard's head starts spinning as he moves Jim to the bed, down onto the mattress. Jim bucks his hips, and Leonard moans into his neck.
They find a rhythm rutting against each other, and at one point Leonard wraps his hands around them both, jerking them off hard and fast, and they both come shuddering hard.
Leonard lies down next to Jim, his chest rising and falling, brushing a finger over the scar on his face.
“So I take it you’re staying?” Jim asks still a bit breathlessly
Leonard rolls his eyes, boxes Jim lightly on the arm and snorts.
Part Five | Part Seven | Master Post