Title: "Switch" (1/50)
Rating: R to NC-17
Summary: The life and times of Leonard H. McCoy MD/PhD … If Leonard McCoy's life could get any fucking weirder, it would be … Jesus, he didn't even want to think what that could possibly mean, because it's already been too fucking weird to make any kind of rational sense.
Canon: Based in the ST:XI universe, but strongly influenced by all canon ST-verses.
Characters: McCoy, Kirk, with eventual appearances by all other ST:XI characters.
Notes: If it's all different from the beginning of the ST:XI, why wouldn't it be different? The last time I wrote ST was … too long ago to contemplate. Dipping my toe back in, inspired by ST:XI.
Disclaimers: It all belongs to Paramount, JJ Abrams, and the great Roddenberry. Except for this story, which is all me.
When it first started happening, he had almost convinced himself that he was hallucinating from too much booze, or too little sleep, or both.
As time went on and it still kept happening, he'd decided that it was a sign of an incipient nervous breakdown, the rational veneer that he'd been clinging to by a freakin' thread since his father died and his life went to total shit, sliding right the fuck off under the pressure of wanting something that he was never going to get. It was sublimated desire, refracted through an oddly chaste dream, like a memory of all the good parts of monogamy, without the really good parts, goddamnit.
But now that it'd been four nights without Jim Kirk sneaking into his bed to sleep, he was truly afraid that he was going to crack right the fuck up.
Because how the hell did it get to the point where he can't fuckin' sleep without Kirk, when all Kirk has ever fuckin' done was sleep with him?
If Leonard McCoy's life could get any fucking weirder, it would be … Jesus, he didn't even want to think what that could possibly mean, because it'd already been too fucking weird to make any kind of rational sense. Because, really. He will not get any kind of sleep tonight again, if Jim doesn't show up. And bitter experience -- does he have any other kind? -- has proven that a Leonard McCoy who hasn't slept more than an hour or two out of closing in on 96 hours is a fuckin' psychotic nightmare.
And he has the residency write-ups to back him the fuck up on that.
It wasn't that he didn't want to fuck Kirk, and there was none of that 'we'll fuck up the friendship' bullshit about doing it, as far as he was concerned.
Well. There probably would be, but that wasn't what was stopping him.
First up, it was him. He hadn’t exactly been in the mood for fucking around after his marriage had imploded.
It wasn't like he hadn't gone through his periods of raging when he was younger, although it wasn't like he raged that hard, at least not on the Kirk Scale of Raging, which was pretty fuckin’ extreme –- well, he couldn’t say that for certain, not without a test drive to give him some sort of parameters beyond his own imagination –- but he had done enough to know what he liked, and what he didn’t.
And, speaking of scales, he was a doctor, and a 23rd century man, and he knew all about the Kinsey scale and where he fit on it. He'd done his share of fooling around with girls and boys in high school, and then he'd fallen in love with Jessica, and that was a sweeter thing, a hotter thing than just rubbing up against anyone, no matter how good their body was.
So when Jessica and he had broken up –- college, distance, the usual story –- he'd gone through a period of serious dogging it with other men. It didn't take anyone with more than an iota of psychological training to see that he'd turned away from women while he was grieving the loss of his first love. It was just the way he was. Hell, even back when he'd played ball he'd been a switch hitter.
And it wasn’t like he wasn’t a citizen of the galaxy, either, because he’d had his taste of strange, and it had been hot and good, but ultimately way too complicated, too alien.
He'd fallen for Tharis when he began the PhD part of his MD/PhD, and Tharis was finishing his stint as a post-doc working in Leo’s advisor's lab. Tharis was an Andorian chan and already twice bonded. After they began, Tharis had introduced Leo to his zhen, Talea. They were both were hot for Leo to be their thaan, and he reflected on the nights they'd spent together building their bond with pure pleasure, but … he couldn't seem to make a bond to their third, the chen Teara. Couldn't really get it up for the odd little sie, either.
Besides, at the time he was all of 22 years old, and they were all focused on making babies. He understood their desire, what with needing four bodies to make a fruitful marriage and all, but as happy as he was to go on with Tharis and Talea, he couldn't see the rest of it. He was, for all of his open mindedness, still Human, as it turned out. There was something about the pair bond that spoke to him.
And it was in that frame of mind, heartbroken from the loss of Tharis (and Talea, too), that the disaster that became his marriage began. He'd heard all the warnings about getting married in the middle of internships and residencies, but he'd also heard that no one made it out alive and healthy without a partner. And he wanted to be part of something, to be able to define himself as part of that duality of partnership. What he didn't realize until later was that the other old warning about marrying someone in the profession was a good one. Most of his friends who'd married within the field were still together, but the ones like him, the ones who'd wanted to retain contact with the non-medical world, or thought they did, were the ones who ended up divorced.
It wasn't just that, of course. What with having always been ahead in school, Leo was used to being with an older partner, or two, in the case of the Andorians. And Jocelyn fit that pattern, was a few years older than he was, and settling down meant something different to her than it did to him. He wanted the stability, the bond, the certainty of partnership while he was getting through the long preparation for his career. She wanted all the trappings of marriage, the house, the kids, the nice car.
At first, it was OK, not perfect, but OK. The long hours that he put in during his residencies had grated on her, but there was an end to that, and it was in sight. But just when he should have begun his practice, his father became suddenly, acutely ill. And then, whatever time he wasn’t spending treating patients, he was working in the lab to try and find something, anything, to make it so that he'd not lose his only living parent. David McCoy was not supposed to die, not before his own father, and his grandfather, for God's sake. He was supposed to live to be 120 years old like Ol’ Paw, at the very least.
But he hadn't -- and Leo had fallen into despair, into drink, into guilt. What good was his vaunted genius if he couldn't use it to save his own father?
Jocelyn had tried to understand, but both of her parents were still alive, and they weren’t close. She couldn’t understand what he’d lost. She’d only known Leo as a grown-up, as a serious-minded multi-disciplinary resident with a bright future in surgery and research medicine, as the only son of a loving, single father. The Leo that he’d been, the boy who didn’t quote mortality statistics for random accidents automatically, that boy? He had died when Leo was eight years old, when a shuttle accident had transformed him from the light of his mother’s life and the indulgent but exasperated older brother, into that only child of a single parent.
And the only person who knew that about him, knew the sunny, smiling boy who'd been part of a family, was David McCoy.
He tried to explain, or at least he thought he had, but it was of no matter. In time, cracks in the relationship became crevasses and then canyons, especially when it became clear that they’d never have children together. 250+ years of reliable reproductive technology and there was still nothing that medicine could do when a woman made antibodies to her husband's sperm, natural or synthesized from stem cells. And if that wasn't a perfect analogy for their fucked up relationship, the fact that she was allergic to him at his most basic, he didn't know what was.
Maybe in some alternate universe where people called him Len, they'd had a kid or two and were happy forever.
Or maybe Joss had called him Leonard all the time, in that hard voice like she did at the end, and they'd been able to have a kid or two, and still ended up with their marriage dissolved.
But here in this reality, where only his father had remembered and still occasionally imitated the way his sister Joanna had called him 'Lay-o' when she was a baby, just to make him smile, he'd let Jocelyn go, let her take all of her anger out on him, let her take it all. It meant nothing, anyway. It was all just stuff, and all of it just reminded him of how he'd failed: first, do no harm.
He couldn't help how he'd failed Jocelyn – but his father? Maybe in that universe where Leo had stayed married and been happy, maybe there his father had lived.
Fuck it. Whatever alternate universes there were, he was stuck in this one.
He had drifted for long days and nights when it had all gone to shit, drunken ramblings reducing his thoughts to incoherent what ifs. Whoever he might have thought to fuck -- just for connection, just to not be alone for a few minutes -- stayed the hell away from him once they got a good look in his eyes. So, he signed his life away to Starfleet, and why not? At the very least, he'd have a fucking job, a place to go every day.
There was fuck all left for him in Georgia anyway, and it beat looking at the inside of his eyelids. Besides, the next vantage point on his scintillating life journey was the fucking gutter, only looking up at the stars as he got stepped over. It didn't matter that he was scared shitless of going out there, into the void, up into the black. It was better to be terrified and informed, so as to be ready.
That's what he told himself anyway. That he was prepared for all untoward surprises, and wasn't that a fucking joke?
So. Fate sat his tired ass down on that shuttle next to the only other out of place, too-old Cadet on that goddamned ride.
The rest of them were all too shiny, too young, too fucking uniform in their cute red outfits. Their innocence was almost as terrifying as the mortality statistics for shuttle accidents, and he’d felt the despair rising as he looked around the cabin, before he’d gotten up and locked himself in the bathroom. Those cadets -- they'd never seen death, never watched bodies bleeding out on the table, never seen the disappointment in the eyes of someone they loved but couldn't do right by, never had to do something against all of their basic principles because it was the right thing to do, even when it was the exact wrong thing, as it turned out.
Most of them had no fucking idea that Fate was a capricious, mean-spirited bitch.
Except for that other too old Cadet, who was still laughably young. Jim Kirk, with his face a fucking series of bruises around fever-bright blue eyes, was good-looking enough despite them that he could have been an actor, porn or otherwise.
And, oh, he was seven kinds of jackass, Kirk was, but Leo could see it in his eyes -- he was a jackass who'd seen the darkness. Most people looked at Leo and decided he was nuts, and then looked away. But not Kirk. He’d looked at Leo, really looked at him, before he commandeered his flask with a flick of those pretty eyes and then given Leo his hand in friendship, and he never looked back.
Leo had wondered what the hell Kirk had seen when he looked at him so intently, but he doubted he'd ever tell him. It wouldn't matter anyway, he was sure of it.
They'd probably have drifted apart over the course of their re-education at the Academy, the both of them wearing those red uniforms but never letting the uniforms wear them, Leo mostly on the graduate student track, and Jim doing his long-put-off undergrad work, but it didn't work that way. They were late recruits, so it was just Kirk and McCoy who got processed together in the induction center in San Francisco. Leo was putting on the last bit of his shiny new red uniform when the penny dropped. He’d heard the fragments of conversation, but he suddenly comprehended them as he smoothed his new jacket down. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Kirk's hand clenching into a fist as he stood there, half-dressed and poised for a fight, in his black Starfleet undershirt and red uniform pants, and … Kirk, James Kirk. No fucking wonder the boy had the darkest bright blue eyes he'd ever seen.
For once, Leo didn't think, didn't calculate the odds and outcomes, just walked the few feet that separated them and dumped his gear next to Kirk’s on the bench. "I look like a right jackass, don't I?" he asked Kirk.
"You look fine," Kirk gritted out automatically, his eyes still fixed on the whisperers talking about what a fuck-up he was, compared to his father.
"Nah," Leo said, picking up Kirk’s jacket. He closed his hand over Jim’s fist and firmly unknotted it, slipping the jacket up his arm, and pushing him to shrug into the other side. He turned Jim to face him so that his back was to the whisperers, and adjusted the shoulders of the jacket with heavy hands, pressing down against the ridge of muscles to drop the boy’s shoulders out of his ears. "It's gonna take a while for this monkey suit to fit me." Kirk still had his head turned, listening, so he stared at the side of Kirk’s face while he zipped up the jacket. "But it looks good on you. It looks right."
Kirk's blue eyes tracked to his face with a snap and Leo felt the measure of Kirk’s gaze as he searched his eyes.
Kirk’s hard expression eased into something like a smirk, and he issued a puff of air, less than a snort, more than a breath. "You comin' on to me, Bones?"
"You couldn't handle this much man, boy," Leo shot back, spinning Kirk around to tug at the back of his uniform, and then running his thumb down from the base of Kirk's skull and pressing hard between his shoulders to straighten him the fuck up from his coiled slouch. It turned out that he was only a shade shorter than Leo when he stood upright. "And who the fuck is Bones?"
Jim just spun around slowly and smiled that sweet jackass smile at him, and Bones felt his eyebrow rising. "All I got left is muh Bones," he drawled out, in a sickeningly poor imitation of Leo's accent.
"Jesus," Leo said. "Tell me you're not going for Communications, because your accent is for shit. I shudder to think how you’d mangle peace accords with that tin ear." He turned Kirk around and shoved him toward the inductees testing center and away from danger, slinging an arm around his shoulder to keep him moving in the right direction, and that ... was that.
- Switch, 1/50