“Now, it’s eleven o’clock and you know what that means,” Geoffrey M’Benga said into the microphone in front of him. “It’s time for ‘No Bones About It.’ If you’ve got a problem with the guy or gal in your life or are just hopeless in the ways of love, the wise and wonderful McCoy is here to set you straight. McCoy, take it away.”
“Thanks, Geoff. Any more sarcasm on that ‘wise and wonderful’ part and I’d think you didn’t love me.” Leonard McCoy settled back in front of a microphone, pulling over a rolling chair to prop his arm up on.
“Who could resist you? For our listening viewers, the sexy McCoy is wearing a stunningly well-cut suit jacket and appears to have developed an allergy to buttons, as half his are undone.” Leonard flipped him off. “Why so fancy, McCoy?”
“Some of us like to get a little dressy for work rather than coming in wearing pajama pants. Don’t you have to be home soon, Geoff? Your show just ended. We wouldn’t want to deny some lovely, desperate lady your mahogany goodness.”
“Yes, but your lovely Miss Chapel called in sick, which means I’m running your switchboard tonight. Get on with it, Doctor Love. I’ve got your first caller.”
“I hate you, Geoff. Alright, put them through. Who am I talking to?”
“His name’s Pavel. Go ahead, Pavel. You’re on with ‘No Bones About It’ McCoy.”
“…Hello? Am I really on?”
Leonard sighed. “Yeah, kid. You’re on the radio. What’s your question?”
“I…um…yes. There is this boy I like, see? But he does not take my adwances seriously.”
Leonard caught Geoff mouthing “adwances” at him and chucked an office toy at him, a small ball of fur that squeaked that Christine Chapel kept shoving at him whenever he was in danger of cursing on air and getting the FCC on their backs. Geoff skillfully ducked and the thing bounced off the padding that served as soundproofing on the station walls.
“What advances have you made?” Leonard asked patiently. The kid sounded like a teenager and sometimes what they thought was subtle was actually remarkably stalker-like behavior.
“We exchange math problems all the time and lately, I have been giving him the easy ones. I also go to all his fencing matches.”
Geoff’s grin grew as Leonard slapped a hand to his face. He did not get paid nearly enough for this gig.
“Well, Pavel, maybe you need to go a little bit stronger.”
“More difficult problems?”
Geoff had to turn off his mike as he bent double laughing. Leonard looked around for something else to throw at him, but came up empty.
“Uh, no. I was thinking more along the lines of you just telling him you like him. And not with math either. Just come out and say it to him point blank.” There was a pause on the other end of the line. “Pavel?”
“I can do zat,” he said.
“Alright. Well, good luck, kid. Let us know how it turns out, yeah?”
“Thank you, Mr. McCoy. You are a great help!”
“You’re welcome, kid. Geoff, you got our next caller or am I going to have to come down there and resuscitate you?”
Geoff straightened up and flipped his microphone back on, still wheezing a little for breath. “I’m sure many of your viewers would appreciate if you did that to them, McCoy, but I’m not one of them. Your next caller is…” He fiddled with the switchboard. “You know, Miss Chapel makes this look so much easier.”
“Hold your horses. Why don’t you do the disclaimer?”
“I’ll give you a disclaimer,” he threatened, rolling his eyes. “Fine, aside from the disclaimer that if this show’s a disaster it’s not my fault, it’s Geoff’s…”
“Then ‘No Bones About It’ is a call-in show where viewers phone in for advice. Fleet Radio Group is not responsible for any harm that comes from taking this advice. This show is for entertainment purposes only, blah, blah, blah, please don’t sue us. Also, sometimes sex gets discussed on this program, so please be 18 or older or at least have the maturity to know that people are having sex and that they sometimes want to talk about it with complete strangers. Don’t get your delicate little sensibilities up in arms if that offends you and try not to cry too much if the advice doesn’t work for you. Good. Done. Now do you have my next caller or not?”
“I’ve got a Nyota on the line. Go ahead, sweetheart, you’re on with McCoy.”
“Don’t call me ‘sweetheart.’”
“Geoff’s an idiot, Nyota. Go on. What’s your problem?”
“My problem is that my boyfriend is an emotional brick wall.”
Leonard considered if banging his head against the desk would be picked up by the microphone and decided that it would. “Worse than a normal man?”
“Worse as in actively repressing his emotions. It’s kind of a cultural thing. Normally I don’t mind, but we’ve been together a year now and I still don’t really know whether he truly loves me. I think he does, but he never really expresses it.”
Leonard winced. Sounded like Nyota’s boyfriend had a gigantic stick up his ass. “Have you told him that?”
“In twelve different languages through text, phone, e-mail, and outright telling him.”
“Yeah, so you can see my problem. Any ideas? Because I’m almost to the hitting him with a sledgehammer point of our relationship.”
“I’m afraid I can’t recommend or condone that sort of action, even if it seems pretty warranted.” Leonard thought about it for a moment. “Well, I’ve got some thoughts, but I’d like to open this one to our listeners if that’s all right with you, Nyota?”
“At this point,” came the cultured voice, “I’ll take all the advice I can get.”
“All right. Callers, we’re opening up the lines. What do you think Nyota should do about her uptight boyfriend? Geoff?”
“Got a Janice on line one.”
“Okay. Janice, what do you think?”
“Nyota, you need to dump him. I’ve been with guys like him before and they never get over that sort of thing. If what you’re looking for is the hug-and-kiss and affection type, I say move on.”
“Alright, Janice, thank you. Next caller?” Leonard said, eyes on the studio clock. Just a minute and 15 seconds until he could call a commercial break. “Hello. You’re on with McCoy. What do you think Nyota should do?”
“My name’s Sp…Steve and I think Miss Nyota should realize that her boyfriend cares for her very much. I believe I know which culture she is referring to and it’s quite strict about emotional matters.”
Nyota piped in then, “Is it too much to ask for him to give me a hug once in awhile, tell me that he loves me?”
“That is indeed not too much to ask,” ‘Steve’ replied. “However, I would encourage that you continue to show your boyfriend patience and kindness. He will work out a way to give you the things you desire, if perhaps, not quite in the form you’re used to.”
Leonard hopped back in. “Nyota, what do you think of that?”
“I guess I can try it,” she said a bit uncertainly.
“My advice is to give your guy a little bit more time. If he’s still not giving you back anything, then try the patented ‘kiss him ‘til he’s senseless’ approach. I guarantee you’ll at least get some sort of response out of him then.”
“Okay,” Nyota said, seeming a bit more confident. “That I can do.”
“Good. Okay, listeners, we’re headed for a commercial break, but make sure to stick around for more ‘No Bones About It.”
Geoff hit the buttons to queue up the commercial spots and Leonard flipped off his mike, yanked his headphones down to rest around his neck and groaned. “Why do I do this again? I have got to be the worst person ever to give love advice.” He leaned back in his chair, hugging the other chair closer to him as support.
“Because you’ve got insomnia you refuse to do anything about,” Geoff chimed in helpfully, “which is why you do this show at this hour of the night. You’re a cynical romantic and a bitter divorcee, which makes you pretty much an expert about matters of the heart. And you’re a medical practitioner the rest of the time, which means you can diagnose an STD just from hearing how bad someone’s dick itches. You’re perfect. Thirty seconds until we’re back on air.”
“I hate you. I want Chapel back.” Leonard pulled his headphones back on.
“You love me because I put up with you and ply you with booze when you need it,” Geoff retorted. “I may tell Christine to take another day off. This is fun!”
“Ass,” Leonard said. He watched Geoff give him a countdown with his fingers, the ‘one’ coming on his middle finger. “And welcome back to “No Bones About It” where I tell you what to do when love’s walking all over you. Today, I’m being assisted by “Rockin’ with Geoff’s” Geoff, whom I’m convinced was sent to torture me.”
“McCoy’s just distressed that he doesn’t have enough time to help all you lovely callers. Speaking of which, we’ve got time for one more. You ready?”
Leonard gritted his teeth together, highly unsettled by the Chesire Cat grin Geoff was giving him. “Of course. Always ready to help my listeners.”
“Go ahead, caller,” Geoff said.
“Hello, Bones.” The silky, confident voice made Leonard sit up, a smile breaking onto his face without his consent. He relaxed back into his chair when he realized what he’d done; looping his arm over the spare chair, linking his hands together and crossing his legs. He couldn’t do a thing about the grin, so he pointedly looked at the ‘ON AIR’ sign so he didn’t have to look at Geoff.
“Jim! What is it this week? Jealous boyfriend hunting you down? New and exciting sores that have no place being on the human body?”
He couldn’t deny that calls from Jim made him gleeful. The voice on the other end of the line was always so ridiculously cheerful and sexy, even when he had to be in serious pain from poorly chosen sexual encounters.
“Naw, nothing like that. I actually had a love question for you, Bones.”
“Oh. Okay. Well, go ahead then.” Jim had never mentioned love before. Leonard did not feel a pang of disappointment that Jim might be headed for a real relationship. He didn’t. Really. And if he still wasn’t looking at Geoff, that was because he might have noticed a patch of water damage on one of the ceiling tiles that really needed to be looked at.
“See, there’s this guy I talk to on the phone a lot, and we have really great chemistry. Like, ridiculously great.”
“But I’m afraid he’s gotten the wrong impression of me since I’ve been kind of…”
“Promiscuous?” Leonard guessed.
“I was going to say ‘loose with my affections,’ but yours is probably more accurate.”
Leonard cringed. “Sorry, Jim.”
“No, you’re right. The thing is, I’m not really sure how to go after this guy if he’s already got this impression of me.”
“Have you ever met this guy?”
There was a pause. “Not in person.”
“Please tell me this isn’t a phone sex buddy.”
That startled a laugh out of Jim, one that was echoed by Geoff. Leonard caught his friend’s eyes, willing to share at least a moment of Jim’s special attraction.
“No, not a phone sex buddy. Who knew what a dirty mind you had, Bones?” He was teasing, which was normal and part of what made him so addictive. Leonard always started to feel a bit of withdrawal if Jim didn’t call his show at least once a week.
“For the sake of the FCC, I’m not going to respond to that the way it deserves.” Geoff shot him a mock look of shock, clutching at his non-existent pearls. “So what do you want to do with this guy?”
“That’s the thing,” Jim said, and he sounded hesitant, which was unlike him. “This is the sort of guy who I think would really be a relationship type. And I want to do that with him. I’m just not sure if he’d take one look at me and decide that my past was a bit too varied for him.”
“Well, Jim, this is why love is a rocky road. Sometimes you have to put yourself out there and get knocked down. You’re never going to know what this guy thinks of you if you don’t tell him that you’re interested.”
“I think you’re right. I think you’re absolutely right. I’m interested in you, Bones.”
Leonard paused, eyes snapping down to the microphone in front of him as if he could see Jim through it. “Sorry?”
“That guy I’m interested in is you.”
Leonard shot Geoff a helpless look. “You’re kidding.”
“I’m not kidding. I’d really like to ask you out, Bones. And I’m not sure what you think of me, considering some of the things you’ve heard. But if you’re willing, I’m ready to be that relationship type of guy.”
Dead air reigned for 30 seconds (an eternity in broadcasting) before Geoff found his voice. “Jim, I believe you knocked McCoy speechless, which is a hard thing to do. I’m also going to have to cut you off since this really isn’t appropriate.”
“Wait!” Leonard yelled. “Don’t cut him off. Jim, the stalker way of going about it is really bad.”
“But,” Leonard said. “If you asked me out, I’d say ‘yes.’”
Geoff put a hand over his mike. “Are you crazy?”
Leonard did the same. “Yes. I’m completely insane for doing this, Geoff. But don’t call the cops. I know him. I want this.”
“Okay. If you’re sure.”
“Yeah, Jim. I’m here.”
“Okay, Bones, I’m asking you out. One date and then you can decide if I’m completely nuts.”
“Sounds like a deal.” Geoff waved at the clock. “And with that, we’re finished with tonight’s ‘No Bones About It.’ Sometimes love hurts, sometimes we think we’re ruined for it, but love’s always going to come back around. See you tomorrow for all your love needs. Good night.”
Geoff hit a button on the switchboard to kill all the calls. He then flipped the station over to the automated rock music playlist before he turned to the other man. “Are you out of your goddamned mind, Leonard?”
Leonard put his face in his hands, digging his palms into his eye sockets. “Don’t. Just don’t, Geoff. I can’t explain it, but I just feel this connection with Jim. And you’re always saying I need to get out more.”
Leonard looked up. “Please, Geoff. Let me be the crazy one for once. I’ve really got a good feeling about this.”
Geoff stood up, coming around to whack Leonard hard on the shoulder. “If you’re sure, man.”
Leonard stood up as well, punching Geoff in the shoulder. “Sure? Not in the slightest. But being sure of things hasn’t really been working for me so far, so I’m trying something different.”
“Alright. Well I’ll see you tomorrow. You headed out?”
“Have to grab a few things off my desk first. See you tomorrow.” Leonard returned to his desk and picked his wallet and phone up from his desk drawer before locking it up again and heading for the door. He twirled his keys around his finger, catching them in his fist after every revolution.
It was only when he got outside the Fleet Radio building that he realized Jim hadn’t set a date for their date. It was also when he realized there was someone else in the parking lot, leaning up against a motorcycle.
For a moment, his shoulders came up in a defensive gesture. And then a voice cut across the dim parking lot, one that set him instantly at ease. “Hi, Bones.”
Leonard walked over to him. “Okay, this? This is the stalker way.”
Jim laughed and rubbed at the back of his neck. “Yeah, sorry. I’m sort of a ‘leap before you look’ sort of guy. I called from right here.”
Leonard took the moment to examine him in the light from the parking lot lamp. He was about Leonard’s height. Scruffy blonde hair was paired with a leather jacket, dark jeans and black boots. He was also ridiculously handsome in a rugged, boyish sort of way.
“I don’t know what I was expecting from your voice. Somehow, I never pictured you.”
“I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or not.”
“Take it as one,” Leonard said. “So when you said a date…?”
“No time like the present?” Jim offered.
Leonard thought about what he’d told Geoff, about not being sure of things for once. “Yeah,” Leonard said, slipping his keys into his pocket. “No time like the present. You got a helmet for that thing?”
Jim grinned at him, and that at least, looked exactly like Leonard always imagined it would from listening to his voice. “Yeah, Bones. Let’s ride.”