Actions

Work Header

A Reaper and a Doctor

Chapter Text

Leonard was minding his own business at some seedy bar, same seat and same posture as last several weeks.

He has a fresh divorce to drink away - even though he cannot get drunk. At all. – and it’s not like he is wasting his prime if he has been and will be staying in his prime for god knows how long, right?

That is, until some voice interrupted his silent musing.

"Excuse me."

He didn't react to the voice other than some flicker of hand indicating the seat next to his is free.

He knew there are plenty of seats free on the bar - some part of his brain is always paying attention to his surroundings - but he didn't want to interact with others even though it is to send death glare for them to run for their life.

Stranger – military, his absent mind picked up – did understand flickering, sat down, and had audacity to ask bartender for the same drink he is having.

Ha. Like he is having anything expensive enough for him to like - his musk is saying he has money.

He does have credits in other names that survived divorce, but that does not mean he can burn them away when he does not know how long he will be sulking.

He knew he was muttering sarcastically in his own head, but he doesn't care, because someone in his situation with his experience has a right to be a little bit crazy.

As he has a right to ignore everyone he does not want to interact with.

That is, until stranger said wholly unexpected thing after silently waiting for about 10 minutes.

"Dr. McCoy?"

Leonard finally threw sideway glance as that did get his attention.

There was no one who would be looking for him this far away from south, and the stranger seems to be sure of who he is even though he posed it as a question. His smooth expression and unblinking blue eyes backing up that assessment.

He grunted.

"I am Captain Christopher Pike from Starfleet. Nice to meet you, Dr. McCoy.", came unperturbed answer.

"Leonard McCoy. As you seem to know already."

He answered sarcastically while gathering his thoughts from stupor and fully concentrating on Pike, although he made sure his eyes are fixed on the drink in his hand so that Pike cannot see the pretending dullness in them is gone.

There is no reason for Starfleet to come looking for him, at least under the name of Leonard McCoy, as much as there is no reason someone at all to come looking for him.

And even though Leonard carefully covered it, the bastard knew he got his attention judging by a slight smile and satisfying glint in his eyes.

"I will just get to the point, shall I?"

"If I say no, will you just get lost?" He cannot help but bit out even though he does know Pike won’t be gone before saying whatever he came for.

"Well, no. But I was going to start with pleasantries and small talks. I can still do that, if you prefer.", came pleasant response. And by the slight laugh line forming around the eyes, he knew that that is the last thing Leonard wants. Yeah, figured. A bastard.

He didn't deign that with proper reply, just grumbling under his breath.

"I came to recruit you, Dr. McCoy."

That made Leonard to throw away amusing and unbelieving glance, and Pike’s only reaction was slight raise of his eyebrow.

Interesting. Straight to the point - as Pike no doubt sensed that that is his preferred approach - suggesting he does not want to provoke him further. Which also suggests his recruitment is sincere.

"Does Captain of Starfleet go track everyone for them to join? Your rate must be exceedingly low if Captain came to recruit an old country doctor stuck in some bar."

"Don't sell yourself so short, Dr. McCoy. I do not have any medical background, but I do know your extensive publications and your groundbreaking brain stem grafting surgery. Also, my friend, Philip Boyce, assured that you are possibly the most brilliant doctor on earth."

Leonard shrugged carelessly. He was not stupid before C24 injection. He is genius after injection. He has been putting some mind to work on medicine. He certainly has plenty of time. No big deal.

He knows he is a good doctor, not THE most brilliant mind you, but Pike's exaggeration must be the part of sales speech, so he didn't bother refuting it.

Dr. Boyce, though....

"I remember him. We met three years ago at the conference. I'm surprised he still remembers me."

"Are you kidding? He is obsessed with you. He outright demanded I recruit you no matter what it takes or he will make my life miserable. He is my CMO, you see. You do not take that kind of threat lightly when he will be the one guaranteeing my life out black."

That sincere and playful statement accompanied with exaggerated shiver got Leonard to chuckle. The kid still has his boyish charm around...40?

"You think that is a good idea for negotiation? Laying out all your cards from the start?"

"You seems like someone who appreciates bluntness. I am known for my tactical mind, doctor, I am just trying a route that will most likely succeed. Also, I am sure Starfleet will give whatever you demand as long as you join. I read your resume, remember?"

Pike said with a shrug, and he had to concede. He will not join if he does not want to join no matter the attached benefits, and he does appreciate bluntness than diplomatic headache.

Which means.... not telling Pike to get lost tells something about his subconscious mind, doesn't it?

God, military and space. After Olduvai and everything happened after. What is his brain thinking? He must be more crazy than he originally thought if he is seriously hearing this out.

On the other hand, he doesn't have anywhere else to go for now... Jocelyn had been the only real connection he made in this name and that backfired spectacularly after her father's illness, he thought bitterly.

"General condition is : you have to join the Starfleet academy unfortunately," Pike hastily added seeing his incredulous glare. "but you will be on graduate medical course so that you only have to attend 3 years for general course of Starfleet thingy and xenobiology. You can earn credits with your shifts at Starfleet medical as you are already a certified doctor. I am sure they will be thrilled to have such a skilled surgeon. As a graduate medical course student, you will get apartment instead of dorm and no roommate."

3 years more as a student. God, he is too old for this.

"We also have programs to grant researches, but Phil told me to assure you that you can have separate laboratory of your own and grants as long as you fill out some paperwork. We allow cadets to test out classes so you can pass some classes to graduate earlier or to use that extra time for research."

Huh. Research grant from Starfleet. THAT is interesting. He happens to like looking into microscope like Sam suggested, much to his chargin’.

But Pike's slight hesitation - he might have missed if he was normal - put him back on full alert again waiting for following words, assuming it is a catch.

"You could test out some history classes, hand-to-hand classes, and others as well as basic medical classes. Or, you can enlist as security or command track if you prefer. We will welcome you regardless."

That was not a catch, but it did make him act.

He moved his unoccupied hand with a speed normal human cannot react - Pike certainly couldn’t - to rest it lightly on one of Pike's rib, knowing slight pressure will break said rib and puncture his left lung.

He didn't try denying it because he is sure Pike already knows the truth from his slight hesitance and careful tone.

"Aren't you too young and low in command to know about those kind of things, darlin'? You know, slight pressure will crack this lovely rib of yours and give you one painful death of drowning on your own blood."

John softly drawled while caressing the rib with his thumb and looking straight into Pike's widened eyes from the speed.

Pike definitely knows who he is and that he is not normal, but hearing it and seeing it is different, especially if your life is on the line.

John watched Pike's reaction with Leonard's slouch except for smooth expression and steely eyes, thoughts warring in his head.

He knew higher ups in Starfleet know who he is and they must have followed him from distance - he is not naive - but Captain is too low for those information and Pike is too young.

Is this those arrogant assholes saying he must join the Starfleet? Or else?

Is Pike just connected too well for his own good?

After a slow blink that was a bit longer for John's accelerated mind, Pike's surprise is masked and.... pupil dilation and slight shiver. Well, interesting, to say the least.

What kind of idiot gets aroused in the face of life-threatening danger? And come to think of it, who barges in with nothing more than standard phaser knowing who he is and what he can do? Not even a backup or a body armor.

Pike is a reckless idiot, that is what it is.

Pike might not know John’s full ability by being just a scapegoat of higher ups, but he seems too capable to be used in this kind of simple setup. It seems more likely that he is just too well connected or brass thinks John will not kill someone easily.

Whatever the case is, it is true that he will not harm someone as long as he can help it, much to his irritation.

"Does all Starfleet Captains have such low self-preservation?" He asked irritatingly, removing his hand from Pike's muscled torso. Pike was not threatened – aroused! When he can die horribly! – and he can put his hand back as fast as he can if he needs to, so why bother?

That earned him a slightly breathless laugh.

"Well, it seems to be the type, according to Phil. He always says we command tracks have zero self-preservation instinct. And yeah, I am too young and too low in command to have a clearance, but admiral Archer is a dear friend of mine and he heard I was trying to recruit you. He also advised that I don’t have to worry as long as I am civil.", said Pike emphasizing the young with another chuckle.

Archer. Yeah, that explains things.

He found out who John is quite some time ago and John had tried his best not to give in an urge to kill him and keep his identity hidden.

Even though his C24 sense told him Archer does not have violent DNAs – much like those mutated bastards knew who will turn with infection and who will not –, it’s not like DNA decides everything. John firmly believes in nurture.

But killing Archer would have been a waste considering he revealed himself trying to save Archer’s life, and his few helps in John’s lives after that.

“You are young.” He grumbled, deciding to hear out considering Pike’s reaction and his connection to Archer.

If he is wrong, though, he can deliver his threat then. He fervently hopes not, because he IS a doctor after all and does want to stick to his oath.

“Well, that is definitely not something I hear often at this age, from someone looking as good as you do, Doctor.”

He heard from someone looking younger than me by a decade that left unsaid, and didn’t miss the lack of name as both know what is on the table now, so to speak.

“My laboratory and research grant, what else?”

Leonard asked, pushing John mentality at the back of his mind, coming back to previous topic. And smooth bastard didn’t even hesitate to catch the meaning and list other privileges.

“You can pick your advisor, and yes you will need an advisor, sorry, we can offer you a Lieutenant status during academy year unlike other cadets, and you will automatically rank Lieutenant commander as you graduate.”

Leonard has to admit it’s a better offer than he thought. Yes, he tends to snap at idiots – a lot – and talk back if said idiot is his superior, but he was – is, there is no such thing as a former marine, Samper-fi motherfucker – a marine. He knows he can do military.

And as he thought earlier, it is not like he has any other things to do, as he envisioned Leonard McCoy’s life will be Jocelyn’s husband and good ol’ country doctor.

“I have to take someone in medical for my advisor, I’m guessin’?”

“Yes. Advisor for class selection and dissertation advices. I would have been glad to be yours if it was not the case. You see, advisor and their charge needs to have mandatory meetings few times a semester.”

Leonard shoot wary glare to Pike, who is wearing boyish charming smile looking all innocent and knowing he looks good with that smile at the same time.

“And academy rules for fraternization between professor and cadet is?”

“Frowned upon, but since medical and the rest of the academy is technically different body, there are no specific rules against medical cadet and other professors. In that case, maybe it is a good thing I can’t be your advisor.”

Cheeky bastard. Leonard can’t hold back a snort hearing too-innocent and shit-eating grin resonating in his words.

“I get it. You have a thing for power and danger. Now back to the topic, if I choose Dr. Boyce for my advisor, will he treat me as a fellow doctor and not some twelve-year-old-intern-that-can’t-do-anything-on-their-own?”

“Well, I did find you attractive before knowing bonuses, Dr. McCoy. Though giving it a try is after knowing bonuses, I admit. It IS frowned upon and there was me being quite older – yeah I know – to consider after all. As for Phil, yes he will treat you as a fellow doctor and he will be ecstatic to have you near him to pick your brain. As a matter of fact, I think he will nag you to death for your input on the researches he is conducting now.”

“That sounds interesting.”, said Leonard completely ignoring the first part.

“I am sure it is. Does that mean I successfully persuaded you to join Starfleet? Can I let the fear of my untimely death by my CMO go?”

Pike asked with a smile reaching his eyes, and Leonard shrugged casually as a response.

“Sure. It’s not like I have any plan for near future.”

“Great! Here are necessary documents for enlisting and there will be a shuttle leaving from Iowa to San Francisco in two days.”

Leonard shoot disbelieving eyes to Pike. Two days??

“Two days? A bit of a last minute recruitment, isn’t it?”

“You were not an easy man to find when you are not working, Dr. McCoy, especially when I was doing everything legally.”, Pike shrugged.

“I do have a habit of staying under the radar.”, which was inevitable from his earlier days, he left unsaid.

Pike nevertheless seemed to understand anyway and took the PADD containing all the documents signed and dotted.

“Well, since that part is done, can I tempt you for a coffee? Or another glass of this bile thing? I can’t understand how you can drink this thing.”, said Pike frowning down at his glass that was only sipped once.

“Back off. Since I can hold my liquor, as long as it’s burnin’, it’s good. But if you are buying better stuff, I’m not exactly complaining right now, am I?” Holding liquor, what an understatement.

“In that case, I certainly have to buy you a better stuff as a thank you for saving me from wrath of my CMO.”

As Pike winked with his confident statement, he can’t help but let out a few chuckle.

He can’t remember last time he felt some ease around someone. Jocelyn’s father’s illness looming over and divorce going on was tense, yes, but even before that, some kind of ease around who knows his past? That was, well, more than a decade ago, he thought. There were few who knows who he is from the start, and regardless of their reaction, he was always wary of Olduvai happening again by his abnormality whispered in wrong ears.

He does not know why Pike knowing is a bit different as even Archer earned grudging trust by years of inaction, but since the amber liquid bartender placed in front of him is top shelf stuff that he can’t believe its presence in this kind of seedy bar, he decided to let go for tonight.

“So, as I seem to have some talent in persuading you, can I interest you in going to Iowa together? You were a last recruit and we can have a coffee or several drinks on the way. I am the pilot of the shuttle you will ride, you see.”

Leonard almost regretted his decision.

 

 

Chapter Text

Leonard was sitting at the hidden corner of some bar nursing a glass – no complain here – with Pike – yeah, definitely a complain there.

 

“Remind me why did I let you talk me into this?”, he moaned miserably.

 

“Which one? Enlisting? Coming with me to Iowa? Having another drink with me?”, came cheeky response.

 

“All of it.”

 

“Well, you had nowhere else to go and nothing else to do, you had to come here today for a shuttle anyway, and you are drinking with me because I am buying good stuffs.”

 

Pike answered with a matter-of-fact tone which somehow contained laugh in it. Leonard just knows it.

 

“You were much better drinking buddy yesterday when you didn’t say anything.”

 

“I was expressing my gratitude of you saving me from my CMO’s wrath by not saying anything. It is a fair game from now on, Dr. McCoy. Or you can always do something to keep my mouth occupied if you don’t want to hear me talk.”, came with suggestive twitch of the brow.

 

Leonard groaned.

 

“You DO know I am a fresh divorcee, right?”

 

“Truthfully, I was hoping for a rebound sex or something. Unless you don’t swing that way?”

 

Leonard facepalmed with mortification. God, he is too old for this.

 

“I don’t do casual with someone I will likely to interact with in the future. And you know it is likely with Dr. Boyce. Also yes, I mean casual as one night stand as there is no fuck buddy in my vocabulary.”

 

Leonard shoot a warning glance daring Pike to say anything about old fashioned or something equally irritating.

 

He knows he was a bit old fashioned even when he was normal, but that’s just who he is with his upbringing and Sam’s influence. And if old fashioned cannot start to cover it nowadays, well at least Pike will think it might do with his DOB.

 

Pike actually looked a bit disappointed by his words, but the look was quickly gone with casual shrug.

 

“I forgot about Phil. He certainly will try to befriend you and make me accompany him sometimes if you get along. Shame. Well, at least I can always use a drinking buddy who can hold his liquor though. Even though said friend has horrible taste in drinks.”

 

“I’m not complaining as long as you are buying. I will do better than yesterday if I get some credits from my shifts.”

 

He tends to stay away from people to prevent attachments, but maybe he is tad bit lonely from Jocelyn sized hole – he needed more time than few weeks to manage that hole if he was being honest with himself – and he will interact with Pike anyway considering Archer, Dr. Boyce, and him knowing the truth.

 

Pike will end in one of those high ups, he can tell, and he seems willing to befriend him – more likely to keep an eye on him and assess the danger level – so a few more drinks would not hurt. Maybe.

 

And speaking of truth and bonuses, “So how much did Archer told you? I’m guessin’ he did not show you the full reports with your clearance.”

 

“Ouch. I’ll let you know that I have a higher clearance than normal captain, which was not an easy fit considering I have some enemies due to my early captaincy.”

 

Leonard arched a brow toward Pike.

 

“You don’t happen to be the youngest captain ‘fleet have appointed, do you?”

 

“Youngest captain appointed in Starfleet history, Captain Christopher Pike at your service.”, said Pike with mock salute.

 

“Huh. I think I saw the news about that a while ago. Well, you did say you are known for your tactical mind.”

 

Leonard shrugged a bit, but he was impressed. He could tell Pike was competent, but youngest captain is not easy considering most ships have a captain in mind even before their construction.

 

“Thank you for your approval. It means a lot.”, said Pike with playful sarcasm.

 

Leonard shoved him lightly just enough for him to sway a little with a laugh.

 

“So the things I heard. Admiral Archer did tell me I cannot see full reports – which I am curious about but are not going to snoop around – but he did tell me some facts to provide other options for you and to be, well, careful.” Pike lowered his voice from here so that only his increased hearing can hear it in the crowded bar. “He told me there was a lab accident that rendered you super human and ageless. You are older than me, enhanced in everything, and heal near instantly. I do not need to worry at all as long as I don’t have any other ulterior motives and remain civil. And yeah, he also told me trying to replicate the effect will wipe out several planets at least.”

 

Basic with key points but purposefully vague. Leonard does not know what exactly is in those full reports and who knows the truth – he only knows Archer for sure – but he is glad that Archer is being cautious even to his probable protégé.

 

“And you sure you are not going to try finding out more facts?”

 

He can’t help but ask though. He thinks Pike might be able to find out if he put his minds to it, and he needs more trust toward Pike for him to be comfortable about Pike knowing the full story.

 

He has been inexplicably at some ease even when he thought Pike knew almost whole truth, but he always expects the worst so he will need some time to be convinced intellectually as well.

 

And Pike seems to understand the seriousness from his wry tone as he met Leonard’s eyes unflinchingly.

 

“As I said, I am curious, but I will not snoop around. I am not a young hothead who leap before thinking through it. I once was, and I learned my lesson. My instinct is also saying this is something I have to back off for now at least.”

 

He held Pike’s eyes for a couple of seconds and gave a tight nod. He opened his mouth to change the subject, but then he tilted his head slightly. He thought he heard-

 

“I think there is going to be a fistfi- oh yeah it started.”

 

Pike seemed a bit startled by unexpected subject and groaned after looking around the bar. The bar was swarmed with cadet reds which means he needs to be a stern instructor and not a man trying to have some drinks.

 

“And judging from the sound, four dirtbags are beating some poor son of a bitch there.”

 

They cannot see the scene from the secluded corner they are in, but gasps from other pedestrians reached Pike’s ears as well.

 

Pike pushed up from the seat straightening his uniform – he is all lean body and muscle and uniform is hiding nothing of it. Leonard appreciated the view. –, going around the corner and issuing sharp whistle to break up a fight.

 

Gasps and Sirs can be heard, indicating bullies are Starfleet cadets. Most of the people cleared out after fight and seeing Captain in the bar, and Leonard heard slight waver in Pike’s footsteps.

 

He downed the remaining in his and Pike’s glass and silently went around the corner to see the possible reason of it.

 

As he laid his eyes on the poor bastard, he can’t help but wince with sympathy as those bullies did a number on him. And from Pike’s words, he seems to have a reason to engage in a bar fight he will not win.

 

Pike looked up to meet his eyes after his little dare on the kid and Leonard silently went out of the bar with Pike.

 

“Guess this is the end of the night. Maybe it is a good thing considering I will be responsible for all those young and promising ones’ lives tomorrow.”, Pike said a bit sarcastically while stretching a little.

 

“What the hell were you thinking? Daring to join the Starfleet? No one with their right mind would do that.”

 

Pike shoot amusing glance at his outburst.

 

“I told you we command tracks have a type. He is a command track, and he will take up a dare. Well, as long as he recovers enough from his hangover to get on the shuttle in time.”

 

Leonard just mumbled crazy idiots under his breath shaking his head.

 

“I am a bit more surprised of you not trying to heal him. I thought you doctors take every excuses and opportunities to hypo someone.”, asked Pike hiding the question under joke.

 

“Do I feel a bit uncomfortable walking away from that battered kid? Yes. But it’s not life threatening and he did not ask for help. He also showed some hints of untreated minor injuries in the past. He more likely would not appreciate good Samaritan trying to save his own conscience no matter how a patient feels about it.”

 

He told his observation without much thought but halted his step when Pike suddenly stopped.

 

He turned to look at Pike questioningly but Pike just stared at him for a few seconds.

 

“You are a good doctor.”, he finally said when Leonard was starting to scowl at him.

 

“I know I am good at what I do.”, he shrugged still maintaining a scowl.

 

“No, I knew you were a skilled doctor. I meant you are a good doctor.”

 

Pike’s eyes held sincerity that made him uncomfortable, so he just shrugged about it.

 

“I do have those fancy abbreviations after my name for a reason, you know. My psychology PhD. had to come from somewhere. Also, if the kid takes up the dare as you are quite sure of it, he will be subjected to full medical checkup. He will get treated then, at least.”

 

Pike thankfully did not say any other words even though he was smiling those small and sincere smile of his, and they resumed their walk toward their hotel.

 

As Leonard climbed to his bed after his night routine, he cannot help but feel a bit of nostalgia and nervousness thinking what would happen after tomorrow.

 

He might have tried helping the kid at the bar and get hissed at if he knew he will have Jim Kirk shaped shadow by not doing that.

 

 

Chapter Text

Leonard was on shipyard way earlier than he wanted.

 

He would’ve come just before the launch, but Pike had to come early to check this and that, and he ignored Leonard’s scowl and grumbling of ‘he can go there by himself, he is not a child! He is older than Pike, for god’s sake!’

 

He only agreed because he knew Pike most likely would want to keep an eye on him, and he needs to keep an eye on Pike as well. But sitting by himself without anyone in the shuttle makes him question that decision.

 

“You might success in setting a fire on the shuttle if you dial up the scowl just a bit more,” came amused voice from the entrance.

 

“I hate you,” Leonard muttered with every ounce of menace he can muster.

 

“Well, I have to work on that, then. I have couple of years and Phil on my side, thankfully,” said Pike while seating down in front of him.

 

“What makes you think that will be enough for me to not hate you?”

 

Leonard said with no petulance in his voce. At all.

 

“A bottle of good bourbon sitting at the bottom drawer in my office could be a start. Join me after settling down at the academy? I want to know how my recruits are doing, especially said recruit got me more than a handful of excited messages from Medical,” he said with a wink.

 

There was only a trace of flirting after yesterday, just friendly ones, and Leonard is relieved and slightly disappointed at once. Well he does have eyes, sue him.

 

Though he just rolled his eyes and leaned back in the seat as a response, as he is not sure he will take up on Pike’s invitation or not.

 

He will keep an eye on Pike and Pike will keep eyes on him no matter he takes up the invitation or not, but actively interacting with Pike on daily bases to become friendly is entirely different thing. He tends to wear his heart on his sleeve, which didn’t change even after all those years, and he knows instinctively he can be friend with Pike. Which will end badly if Pike tells things about him, decides he is too dangerous, thinks he is too freaky with not aging, or tries to use him for his purposes. It happened. Or he dies before him. Which will most surely happen.

 

“I am not just asking to assess you or something like that. I will be lying if I don’t at all, but I find you a pleasant company and it’s not like I have plenty of friends after all those years of wandering out in the black,” cut through his thoughts with sincerity and perceptivity.

 

Yeah, his heart, meet his sleeve. He is exceptional poker player and can maintain his poker face when it counts for crying out loud. Why can’t he stop being an open book?

 

He scowled more fiercely as Pike saw through him for a second, but Pike kept his expression open and earnest.

 

He thought for few minutes weighing pros and cons, but gave grudging nod at last.

 

His gut feeling says Pike is being sincere, and he decided to take a risk. He once distanced himself from everyone after Sam’s death, and he did not like who he became during that period. He could get hurt, but he rather be hurt than discard the very last thing that makes him resemble human.

 

“I will comm. you after settling down. You better leave that bourbon intact till then.”

 

“Of course. One just don’t piss off a doctor. I am not that stupid no matter what you think,” said Pike with a laugh and got off the shuttle to do captain thingy.

 

Leonard retreated to a small bathroom in the back to avoid cadets coming on board. He can hear them coming from some distance talking lively among themselves.

 

God, why did he subject himself to feel ancient among baby-faced infants? Which, come to think of it, they are infants compared to his age.

 

He groaned and stubbornly tried to filter out all the cheerful voices while seating on the toilet. He is always aware of his surroundings on some level, but he became good at real time compartmentalizing.

 

He did not know how long he holed up in the bathroom, but there was a knock in the door that pulled him out of trans.

 

“Sir? We are about to take off. Are you having some kind of trouble in there?”

 

“Just peachy. I’m fine. Go away,” he tried even though there’s no way the officer will let it be.

 

“Sir, you need to get back to your seat.”

 

“I’m totally fine in here,” he is getting a bit loud at the officer, thinking there won’t be a sane person trying to befriend raving madman if his episode is heard by everyone.

 

Whether someone voluntarily going out in the space could be counted as sane or not is another issue, though.

 

He heard manual override for the bathroom door to open, and felt astonished at the officer. What if he was actually using it?

 

“Sir, you need a doctor,” came from the officer after one look at him and that didn’t help his mood at all, either.

 

“I don’t need a doctor, dammit, I AM a doctor.”

 

“You need to get back to your seat,” said stoic faced officer, who was getting a bit annoyed with him.

 

“I had one, in the bathroom, with no windows,” he groused and she did not take kindly to it.

 

He sensed she was getting more frustrated by it, and allowed her to pull him into the cabin to prevent getting Pike involved in this situation. He would laugh at him seeing through his facade, the bastard.

 

“You need to seat, now.”

 

“I have a severe aviophobia. It means I have a fear of dying in the things that fly,” he kept grumbling though to fulfill the image of raving madman and just to, well, be himself.

 

“Sir, for your own safety, sit down. Or I will make you sit down,” the officer said with downright pissed voice.

 

Leonard reluctantly nodded toward her with some respect and sat down in the only seat left in the shuttle. Thankfully he does not have to make small talks or experience awkwardness of selecting seats by staying in the bathroom for long time.

 

Though he can’t help but bit out “I may throw up on you,” to the guy next to him as he buckled up in the seat.

 

And the recipient is the battered kid from yesterday. Great. He does not want to get involved with him. He radiates trouble and his name would gather a lot of attentions in the ‘fleet. He very much prefers staying in the background, thank you very much.

 

“I think these things are pretty safe,” came cautious reply, and he cannot help but snort at the word.

 

Safe, hah. He saw too many accidents throughout the long life of his and saw gruesome aftermaths during his time as a doctor. And that one occasion, god. He shivered slightly from the memory.

 

“Don’t pander to me, kid. One tiny crack in the hull, and our blood boils in thirteen seconds. A solar flare might pop up and cook us in our seats. And wait ‘til you’re sitting pretty with a case of Andorian shingles. See if you’re still so relaxed when your eyeballs are bleeding. Space is disease and danger after darkness and silence.”

 

And he will be in so much more prolonged pain if those things happen thanks to his oh-so-great healing rate.

 

The kid now looked downright wary of him as well as cadets in hearing distance, but he was aiming for that, so he kept scowling like a madman.

 

“Well, I hate to break it to you, but Starfleet operates in space.”

 

“Yeah, well, got nowhere else to go. The ex-wife took the whole damn planet in the divorce. All I’ve got left is my bones.” Which wasn’t entirely true for him, but it is for Leonard McCoy.

 

He would’ve just feigned Leonard McCoy’s death and lay low for a decade if he didn’t enlist in Starfleet.

 

That statement seems to struck the kid, as his eyes became somewhat sympathetic. So Leonard gave him a flask against his better judgement.

 

“Jim Kirk.” He saw disbelieving gazes thrown toward the kid in his peripheral vision, but he ignored it and didn’t react at all. The kid ignored it as well and besides, he knew it already.

 

“McCoy. Leonard McCoy.”

 

The kid handed back the flask after taking a swallow, and Leonard brought it to his mouth once again to settle his nerves. God, he really hates this flying death trap.

 

“You’re hot. Let’s fuck,”

 

He swallowed the bourbon trough wrong pipe.

 

After several minutes of a coughing fit, he turned to look at the kid incredulously. And cadets in hearing range who were listening from the start – who probably thinks he is a madman and curious what the Kelvin baby is like – were gaping as well.

 

“What, right now?” And they seemed to send ‘are you crazy?’ gazes to him as well.

 

The kid just stared him for a second and broke into a full-body laugh.

 

“No, not right now. I am not an exhibitionist… or well, I am a bit, but I do have a lick a sense of appropriate place for fucking.” He said with a wink but it only seems to make Leonard and the lovely lady in front of them roll their eyes.

 

“Why am I having hard time believing that? And no I won’t sleep with you, I don’t do casual," he ignored incredulous eyes from the kid. "Also kid, language. There are ladies present.”

 

He admonished the kid with a scowl and received a brief smile from the lady.

 

Then there was a rather severe lurch of the shuttle. Shit.

 

He tried to look around and see if they were going to crash – it was not a fun experience and he definitely does not want to experience it again, also almost everyone in the shuttle except him will die if that happens – and found him looking directly into slightly concerned too blue gaze.

 

“You are truly a southern gentleman, aren’t you? Too bad you don’t do casual. Let me know if you change your mind, Bones.” The kid said in the same cocky and arrogant tone as before, but his eyes were cataloguing how severe Leonard’s supposed aviophobia is.

 

Well, he definitely can see the genius Pike was talking about to the kid. Also, he is more than a pretty face if he is trying to distract Leonard in kind even when he wants to be passed for arrogant devil-may-care playboy.

 

Although, “Bones?”

 

“Yeah, well, you don’t look like Leonard,” Leonard can’t help snort at this. The kid doesn’t know how true that statement is. “And all you’ve got is bones, right? Also, doctors were called sawbones in the back, I think.”

 

“I have a perfectly nice name, thank you,” he grumbled through another shake of shuttle, but the kid merely smiled all innocently which reminds him of Pike’s words that command tracks have a type.

 

Speaking of doctor, as the kid brought that up first, “Do you want me to do something about that face of yours?”

 

He gestured to the kid’s battered face for indication, which made the kid to slightly wince and grew a bit distant and guarded.

 

“Ah, this? It’s nothing. I will heal in no time.”

 

“As a doctor, I can tell you how much time that will take to heal, but suit yourself. You will have to go to Starfleet medical for full checkup before the semester starts, so maybe you will let them treat you then,” he just shrugged as he was not surprised of the answer. He asked just in case his presumption was wrong.

 

The kid was looking downright unhappy now.

 

“I’m guessin’ you are not a fan of getting checked up, but as you said, Starfleet operates in space and that means all new, exciting and dangerous diseases. It’s part of the job.”

 

“Yeah, well, I didn’t have anywhere else to go as well. And some guy…”

 

The kid did not continue his words but Leonard understands as there still are glances shot their way. The kid has every right not to mention his dead and hero dad, especially in the context of Pike daring him to do better. There already will be whispers following him just by having that last name.

 

But kid seems to be thinking about other things as well, ‘cause his next word was not what he expected.

 

“You were there last night, right?” The kid asked with a frown.

 

“What?”

 

“Last night. At the bar. I think I saw you heading out with Pike.”

 

Damn genius kid with a good memory. He was drunk, battered, and engrossed in an enterprise salt shaker last night but clearly had enough mind to notice him.

 

He can practically FEEL the eyes on him now. He just frantically hopes there will be no hideous rumors about Pike and him, considering they will probably be caught having drinks together in the future.

 

“The one where you got that pretty bruises? Yes, I was. I was minding my own business silently, and there was a kid trying to get beaten to death which cut my night earlier than I planned,” he said sarcastically hoping Pike comment does not get acknowledged further.

 

“I was not trying to get beaten to death. I was managing.” He said with adamant tone, but considering the lady in the front’s snort, he concluded his analogy is right. He had been relatively sure there were four guys pounding on the kid, and sirs the bullies shouted were not that breathless and in pain.

 

“Whatever, kid. Just remember that the next time you want to pick up someone, get your mangled face in order first.”

 

He said with a roll of his eyes and the kid seems less guarded that Leonard didn’t push for treatment.

 

Or more than less guarded, judging by the deliberate pout with puppy eyes and obnoxious kissy faces thrown his ways saying ‘are you telling me you don’t want to tap this?’ without words.

 

Leonard roughly pushed his infuriating face off of his face and soon after that, shuttle arrived at the San Francisco.

 

As soon as the shuttle stops, he nodded amicably toward the lady and the kid, and got off the shuttle thinking the kid surely will have exciting – troublesome – academy life, which led to his determination of staying the hell away from him.

 

As if.

 

 

Chapter Text

Leonard chimed a bell in front of the office, and soon the voice from inside urged him to come in.

Pike was buried in several PADDs, and looked up as he came in.

“Ah, Dr. McCoy. I was starting to think you were trying to age the bourbon a bit more for your liking,” came a gentle tease, and Leonard snorted at it.

He tried to sit on the chair in front of Pike’s desk – which made him feel like a cadet in professor’s office, even though it is sort of true -, but Pike stopped him with a hand and gestured to a plusher looking chair on the other side of the office.

“Have a seat,” Pike came to sit in front of him as well bringing promised bourbon and glasses.

Leonard gingerly sat down feeling like an old man even though his body cannot be in a better condition, and sighed a little after a long day.

“Long day?” Pike asked while pouring generous amount of bourbon in the glasses.

“More like a long week,” he said with a loaded sigh.

“Yes, I heard a thing or two about that.”

Pike seemed to try to appear sympathetic but he was failing spectacularly, and Pike knows he was failing as well.

Leonard glared dagger at him.

“I suspected academy was just a giant bunch of teenagers, and I am proven right. I expect nothing less from them to gossip about things they don’t have any place in it,” he grumbled while tilting his glass slightly to thank Pike.

“They are fantastic source for information and amusing speculations though. Did you hear that you propositioned me to get a final seat in the shuttle?”

Or maybe he should not have thanked him so prematurely. Pike just smirked and ignored his death glare.

“Or for someone who knows your resume, I persuaded you thoroughly to join the Starfleet. Dean of Medical and even Phil said they don’t and doesn’t want to know what I did to recruit you, but keep at it as long as it means keeping you here.” Pike seemed a bit perturbed at this, which made Leonard feel a bit satisfied knowing there is at least one more who is suffering. Just a little bit, though. He is suffering regardless.

“I was hoping rumors regarding us will start a bit later than this. Semester didn’t even start yet, for god’s sake,” he said bumping his head in the back of the chair with a thunk.

He knew there would be some talks about them after being spotted having drinks together, but now is just too early. 

“It was an interesting week for scuttlebutts. There is a Kirk in the academy. Shuttle ride was interesting to say the least. You kind of got famous and I was already famous among gossipers. Oh, for the record, rumors of me somehow persuading you started from admirals,” Pike said with a shrug and Leonard can’t contain his groan. It’s just his luck that he can’t even blame Kirk now ‘cause apparently, admirals were the reason for that particular gossip.

“Chatty assholes. It’s not their damn business even if it was true. And I resent you calling me famous. I like staying in the background and not acknowledged.” He pointed an accusing finger to Pike.

Pike arched a brow at that.

“Well in that case, you being a fantastic doctor – yes I got an earful of your achievements and their significances in detail from disbelieving Phil after I successfully recruited you – already ruined that,” he said slowly as if talking to a particularly slow kid, “And you can’t help being famous outside of the medical field now that you acquired the shadow named Jim Kirk?”

Kirk, dammit. He really was determined to stay away from the kid – from almost everyone if he can help it – but the kid seemed to be determined to stick with him. Which he can’t understand at all ‘cause he showed clear signs of dislike toward doctors.

“I can’t just be a moderate doctor when I can do more, is it? It’s not like I can do better but don’t, thinking ‘oh, I should just let them die to hide my competency.’” He said the last part with disgustingly sweet and mocking tone.

“As I said, you are a good doctor,” Pike softly intoned smiling over his glass.

He ignored it. “And I cannot fathom why Kirk asked me to be the one doing his medical checkup. I was anything but a madman from the start!”

“Ah yes, I heard about that as well. You were listing all the exciting ways to die in the shuttle and claiming to have a severe aviophobia?” asked Pike, adjusting slightly for a more comfortable position.

“That bit got talked around as well? Good. At least grapevine has some use once in a while. I hope most will have enough sanity to stay away from me, although I am not having my hopes up considering Kirk.”

“So you do have a severe aviophobia?”

Pike did not let go that question for – actually, he couldn’t figure out the most probable reason, but answered anyway. He decided to give this budding friendship a chance, so he will.

“I don’t have a full-blown aviophobia that will be clinically diagnosed. I don’t have panic attacks, and I do well under stress,” An aviophobe RRTS staff sergeant, what a joke. “I am just really wary and apprehensive of the things that flies.”

Pike didn’t say anything and silently requested him to finish his tale with a acknowledging nod.

“You would be apprehensive as well if you were in the early-age shuttle that crashed so horribly resulting me having three pipes sticking out of me – not in the head thanks to my reflex – and mending few others who miraculously survived with that gaping hole,” he shuddered at the memory. Even though the holes closed soon enough, it just is not something he want to experience again, especially out in the black.

Though… “Well, maybe not, considering Archer was okay after experiencing the accident and thrived on exploration,” he added as an afterthought, and shrugged. He tends to expect the worst of everything, and going through that didn’t give him any more reassurance regarding the things that fly.

Pike winced at the description in sympathy and then widened his eyes at realization.

“Admiral Archer did not experience any severe accidents after he was middle-aged,” Pike said slowly.

“Well kid, I told you I am older than you,” He said in a smug tone, but watched Pike’s face carefully.

Pike pulled a face at being called a kid, then looked somewhat apprehensive with the fact, and outright laughed.

“What?” He asked completely baffled. Yeah, everyone in command track are freaking nutcases.

“I just figured out I was propositioning to someone who might be older than Admiral Archer and imagined me flirting with the admiral. Then, I imagined Kirk suggesting the admiral to fuck in the shuttle as I heard him asking same thing to you,” came the answer after full minutes filled with laughter and bafflement.

And he groaned again. He will kill Kirk. He will make sure the kid suffer.

“If the rumor is correct, his exact words were ‘You’re hot, Let’s fuck.’” Pike was still chuckling with the mischievous glint in his eyes.

“I am astonished that part did not get exaggerated and stuck to the truth. And I am glad your supposed protégé is a sex addict who can’t stop hitting on everything with a pulse.” He answered sarcastically and swallowed another mouthful, reminding himself there is a reason he is sitting here.

“Well, I will be a hypocrite if I fault him for hitting on you, won’t I?” Pike winked. “And I think you rejecting him and treating him like a normal person is the reason he is sticking with you and picking you for his medical checkup.”

“What, you mean he thinks I am a weirdo who puzzles him and in need of further observation just because I did not fall over his foot trying to steal his attention?”

“More or less, yeah.”

“Good god. I don’t know what I was thinking when I signed up knowing I have to interact with arrogant command tracks,” he groaned but Pike was wrinkling his nicely formed laugh line around his eyes throughout the whole conversation in amusement and he can’t do anything more than just grumble at the situation.

And there also is the fact that he saw all the stares – awed, curious, hostile – the kid is getting wherever he goes. There is very few who doesn’t give a damn and sadly, the percentage is similar in Medical as well.

“I will have a nice bourbon in here anytime you want it, that is why you are putting up with me,” Pike gestured the admittedly nice bourbon with a hand, “and you did Kirk’s physical anyway even though your shifts in the medical didn’t even start yet.”

“He was downright hostile to anyone with medical training besides me and he must be checked out to be enlisted,” he said with a sigh, “and he seemed to have actual reasons for hostility according to the result.”

“And…?” Pike prompted.

“And I am not telling you anything without his explicit permission,” he said flatly.

Pike was silent for a moment.

“You know, Dr. McCoy, I was looking for him some time now. Not that actively compared to when I was looking for you, but constantly for a while. Aside from me and George being a friend, I was at the… my ship was one of the vessel mobilized for the massacre on Tarsus IV,” his expression is pained with sorrow and anger.

Leonard looked up sharply to see Pike emptying his glass in one large gulp. He silently downed his drink as well and extended his glass for a refill.

“I am saying this because I know there is no way you would’ve missed it. And we needed to acknowledge we both know it so we can talk about it when the time comes, and I’m afraid there will be in the future considering him sticking with you.”

Leonard knows there are more than Tarsus IV for the kid’s distrust, which Pike does not seem to know. But as he won’t reveal that without permission, he just nodded his agreement and couldn’t help but slightly snort at the situation.

“Look at us, mother henning the kid we met less than a week ago and even before we figure out what to make of him. When did we adopt him? At our third date, no less?” he said musing the ironic situation, as an answer to Pike’s questioning eyebrow.

“You doctors are all mother hens as much as we command tracks are reckless adrenalin junkies. Didn’t you know?” Pike said playfully silently agreeing to lighten the mood a bit. “Well then honey, let’s focus on ourselves and not our kid, shall we?” Leonard loudly groaned at Pike’s sweet tone even though he brought that himself.

Pike laughed at his pained expression and Leonard once more wondered why the hell did he agree to be here.

“Though seriously, semester starts tomorrow. Did you get your schedule all worked out with Phil?”

“I needed to work whole three years’ worth of schedule while considering my possible career path at the same time, so it wasn’t fun, but Phil helped a lot. And no, my schedule is not finalized yet because that will depend on the classes I can test out. Following week will be exciting with all the exams.”

“Phil?” Pike tilted his head.

“What, are you jealous, darlin’? As you assured, he treated me as a fellow competent doctor and now we are on the first name bases,” he wiggled his brows a bit because he gives as much as he gets, and Pike widened his amused grin.

“I won’t throw a jealous fit if you call me Chris as well, sweetheart. It seems only fair.”

Leonard nodded with a few chuckle and offered his name as well. Pike accepted without questioning his real name.

“So, what classes are you planning to test out?”

“Just the ones I can explain away with pre-med course or personal interest. History, several advanced medical classes, survival, something like that. Unfortunately, I have to take classes for basic navigation, flight, regulation and things. There are too many general classes for my liking.” He said with distaste. He knows most are needed for Starfleet officers but he does not have to like it, and some are not even relevant with him as a doctor!

“And hand-to-hand combat?”

“Which I don’t have to take if I aim for planetary post,” Chris tried to say something – probably objection – but he didn’t need to hear it. “But Phil convinced me to keep my options open, so I have to test out those classes as well. That is actually the purpose of me being here.”

“Oh honey, I thought it was the company,” said somewhat relieved looking and smirking Chris.

“Of course, how can I forget the lovely bourbon here? Sorry darlin’, you always comes first without competition, don’t you question that.”

He made a show of caressing the glass and pretended not to notice Chris’ eyes following the movement for a second and snapping back to look up at him with a faint blush.

“Do you have a reason to want to be out of it? It will be harder than others to explain it, and every officers who will serve on the starship must pass the class.”

“I can fake being human in physicals and everyday lives, but hand-to-hand is a different story. I don’t have a practice of being adequately good at it – I can totally fail at it but that will be a problem as well – and I am pretty sure instructor will notice the trained steps or movements unless they are totally incompetent fools,” he ignored the sharp look Chris sent at the word faking human. “Even if they are totally useless, I think my training partner will notice if I can evade every kicks and punches or if I don’t have any lasting bruises after letting them hit me.”

Chris was pensive for several minutes and agreed with Leonard.

“I was thinking about you being abysmal at it, but then healing will be a problem as you said. I cannot think of the best way to explain it for now, but since you are in medical track, we can stall a bit and have this semester to work it out. I am sure we can do something about it.”

Leonard was not feeling the confidence Chris is obviously feeling, but nodded anyway and emptied his glass.

“Now that has been taken care of, I have to prepare for tomorrow, I am afraid. I have a feeling that I will have a parasite waiting for me outside of my room in the morning.”

Chris downed his glass and got up as well.

“Comm. me after your schedule is finalized. My days will be hectic as well for a couple of weeks. We can work out when to have our next date with our lovely bourbon and talk about our adoptive son you so fondly call as a parasite.”

Leonard threw a finger and showed himself out hearing Chris’ amused chuckle.

It was more amusing and relaxing than he expected, even though he instinctively knew there is a high possibility that he could be friends with Pike.

Well, he will not look too closely of the gift horse in his mouth.

 

Chapter Text

His PADD chimed with incoming message on his way to lunch.

 

Chris : [[ I heard from Phil that you successfully tested out all the classes you were aiming for. Congratulations. ]]

 

Leonard typed an answer walking into the mass and looking for Jim.

 

[[ I still have to go to a field trip for survival class later on though. They don’t waive practical, sadly. You and Phil gossiping about me? ]]

 

Chris : [[ We are old bunches who don’t have anything to do other than gossiping about young things. And as much as I would like to say we don’t gossip about you specifically, I think you acquired a fan who might turn into a groupie. ]]

 

[[ What do you mean might? I thought you were already a groupie considering all those advances you made. ]]

 

He finally spotted Jim in the busy mass, chatting up Uhura – who seemed really impressed with Jim – at the far corner in the back.

 

Chris : [[ Haha. You do know I would have done a whole lot better than that if I was seriously trying to get you in my bed, right? I entertained the thought, but I was not going to sleep with someone with unknown danger level. Though seriously, I am starting to think Phil has crush on you and I am horrified I might have to explain this to his partner. ]]

 

Leonard chuckled a bit because he did know it. Chris was aroused at the danger – his body’s reaction surely showed that –, but he wasn’t putting any real effort to his flirting.

 

He picked up his usual lunch and balanced it easily while typing back his response.

 

[[ How could I know if those attempts were the only ones I saw you flirting? Maybe you are that bad and unenthusiastic at flirting. You sure were disappointed when I said I don’t do casual. And in case of Phil’s partner, maybe they should worry because we are really hitting off talking about deadly disease that can kill a patient within a week with no known cure. ]]

 

“Ladies. Jim.” He politely nodded at Uhura and her friend setting his tray and PADD on the table, and shot ‘stop it you idiot’ gaze to Jim.

 

“Bones!” He pulled a face at that distasteful – and oddly consistent in theme considering his last handle was Reaper – name Jim still insisted on and sat down. “Let me introduce you to lovely Ms. Uhura here! Uhura, this is Bones. Do you know Uhura majors in xenolinguistics, Bones? It means she has a talented tongue,” Jim stage-whispered and Leonard rolled his eyes.

 

“Yes, we’ve met. And whether she has talented tongue or not has nothing to do with you unless she will be a communication officer on the ship you will serve, Jim.” He nodded apologetically to Uhura instead of Jim, and she accepted with graceful nod and thin smile. Jim pouted theatrically.

 

“And I am sorry you have to witness the idiot here harassing your friend, miss…?” he turned his attention to her friend as well, because it is just rude to ignore someone who is obviously there.

 

“Christine Chapel, Dr. McCoy. Pleasure to meet the hottest topic in the Medical.” Chapel said coyly.

 

“Ah. Medical track?” He asked a bit embarrassed.

 

“Graduate track for nurse, much like your case. We might share a shift or two in the future. See you later, doctor.”

 

Uhura and Chapel got up at that note and pointedly bid farewell to him only. Not that it affected Jim at all. The kid said goodbye loudly at their retreating back then turned to him wearing a huge grin with expectant look in his eyes.

 

“Was that you flirting, old man? Are you finally getting laid?”

 

Leonard shoved a salad in his mouth chewing it viciously instead of Jim. “No. I don’t do casual as I said, and I am not looking for a relationship for now. Fresh divorcee, remember?”

 

Jim opened his mouth to answer something obscene – he was sure – but Leonard’s PADD chimed for a message. He checked it out of habit in case it’s medical emergency.

 

Chris : [[ As I said, I did entertain the idea. I can be disappointed even though I was not going to follow through. I will let you know that I have enough notches on my bed post to rival your parasite. And as for Phil, I should just watch from the sideline and not get involved in that mess. We’ll see how much of you left after Alison got her hands on you. I need to know your next planned visit to city and whether you can make it or not. ]]

 

He snorted at the comm. and quickly typed while chewing.

 

[[ You know you are comparing yourself with someone who’s pick up line was ‘You’re hot. Let’s fuck.’ Right? That does not give me any more confidence regarding your flirting skill. City visit is next weekend. I will be able to go out if there is no emergency at the medical. Why? ]]

 

He looked up after answering and saw sly smile on the kid’s face.

 

“Pike, right?” The kid didn’t even wait for an answer. “You sure you don’t do relationship for now, Bones?”

 

“Yes, I’m sure.” He answered flatly. Not that it had any effect on if-you-say-so expression on the kid’s face. The kid at least didn’t say Chris’ name out loud and just mouthed it for discretion.

 

“If you say so, Bones.” The kid honest to god said it as well. “Will you come out with me tonight for a drink, though? Our schedules finally settled and I didn’t get smashed in ages!”

 

The genius bastard was testing out several classes as well and set to finish command track in three years, which means his last two weeks were as hectic as his.

 

“It’s been two weeks, Jim. Not ages,” HE didn’t get smashed for about 2 centuries. THAT is ages. “And I am sincerely hoping you are talking about drinking and not literally getting smashed as our first encounter.” He added warily.

 

“Of course I meant drinking, Bones. I don’t go look for troubles, they find me.” Jim said dismissively while eating so thoroughly that nothing – not even a trace of food being there – left in his plate. Leonard suspects it has something to do with Tarsus IV.

 

“And if that trouble finds you, are you going to get needed medical help?”

 

Jim looked up sharply at that but quickly feigned a wounded expression clutching his heart. “I am wounded, Bones. I didn’t know you had so little faith in me. Don’t worry, I can keep you from harm.”

 

He just snorted at Jim’s antic, but that was unexpected. He thought Jim was keeping him close to get medical attention from someone who doesn’t care about his last name, to fend off everyone who wants to approach Kirk using Leonard’s madman status – which works quite well –, to hang out with only other person who seemed out of place at the shuttle, or maybe even to figure out why his fame doesn’t affect Leonard at all even though that seems highly unlikely. But the possessive and protective glint at the last bit indicated there might be more to it.

 

Leonard stopped thinking more than that, because he will not analyze Jim, and he himself does not know why he is letting Jim sticking around him.

 

“If I go out to drink with you, no bringing acquaintances to our table – just go somewhere to take care of it – and if the injury is more than superficial, I will treat you. Deal?” He said testily, already regretting it seeing the innocent smile spreading in Jim’s face.

 

“So no threesome, then?” He was ready to stab him with the fork. “Alright, alright. I solemnly swear I will not do anything scandalous in front of you, old man.” Jim added with a laugh.

 

“And medical attention?” Jim was trying to deflect it again, he can tell, but he stopped it with sharp look.

 

Jim paused for a second with inexplicable expression, but nodded his head silently. He guessed that will be all he will get and accepted it as a promise.

 

They finished their lunch and set to go to their shared class, Starfleet Regulation 101.

 

Jim was talking animatedly about nothing and he nodded along while checking his PADD.

 

Chris : [[ I admit my choice of opponent was a bit lacking of careful consideration. Let’s just agree I meant the number of notches for comparison and not flirting skill, shall we? I want to see how much of your previous training will show on hand-to-hand. To see whether you letting your partner to hit somewhere covered only will work or not. ]]

 

[[ Looks like we are having our next date at the gym, darlin’. Let me know when and where. ]]

 

The answer arrived after they sat at the back of the classroom – thank god they arrived relatively early.

 

Chris : [[ I know just a place. I can ask a friend for a favor. We could have the whole gym for just the two of us for night. Saturday 9 p.m. at city hall? ]]

 

[[ I am not that kind of girl. At least buy me a dinner first. ]]

 

Chris : [[ I will count down the days of your first paycheck. Thai okay? 7 p.m.? ]]

 

[[ Deal. ]]

 

He looked up to see most seats were taken and professor coming in. He can see Jim’s sly grin as well.

 

“Shut up,” he groused and Jim’s expression said he very much want to say he didn’t say anything, but thankfully, class started. Thank god for small mercy.

 

“I didn’t say anything, Bones.” Jim whispered and he outright groaned not caring whether professor might hear it or not.

 

 

Chapter Text

The night out with Jim that night went just like he predicted. For the first part.

 

The bar was packed on Friday night, he and Jim had two drinks, and Jim bailed him to flirt with some pretty blonde. And Jim just caught his eyes briefly to indicate he will be going and went out with said blonde.

 

He actually expected things to go like this, so he was not perturbed. He only agreed to come because he could get some alcohol on tab before his paycheck. One downside is that it limits the bar of choices, and there were cadets everywhere in the bar due to it.

 

He was nursing his drink at the corner silently, expecting his night to stay just like this for a few more drinks before he heads to his room.

 

That was when someone slid in the seat in front of him. Orion, he thought, as he could smell their unique pheromone and see her lovely olive colored skin. He knew she was coming near, but it happens in this kind of packed bar and he didn’t want to presume, so he didn’t react to it before she sat down.

 

“Hello, doctor,” She said sweetly while unconsciously emitting her pheromone a bit more and accentuating her curve.

 

“Do I know you?” He said tad bit warily. His too-fast metabolism makes him immune to Orion pheromones, but he can enjoy her curvy features nonetheless. Sadly, she seems to know he is a doctor, and that means she is most likely a cadet.

 

“No, but I heard about you doctor!” Came bouncy reply.

 

“Okay,” He said slowly. “I hope I can say the same to you, miss…?”

 

“Just Gaila, please. Can I call you Leonard?” She was more sweet than few Orion women he encountered in the past, but he knows a bit about what it takes for Orion women to be here, being a cadet, so he does not make a mistake of treating them as dumb fragile flowers. The intelligence in her eyes certainly backs that up as well.

 

He wished she was not a cadet so that he could spend a night with her. But she is.

 

“That depends,” she tilted her head at his word. “Why do you wanted to talk to me?”

 

“Well, I want to have sex with you,” she said bluntly, just like he expected according to his past encounters, “but I heard that you don’t do casual. I came to ask about the reason if you don’t mind. It is not something we are familiar with, and I would like to understand.” She said with sincere curiosity.

 

Great. His ‘don’t do casual’ is part of the rumor mill, apparently.

 

Even though he grimaced at that thought, he could understand her reason. She seemed like she is still relatively new to Earth, and there are some cultural differences Orion finds odd.

 

“Call me Leonard, then. To be specific, I do one night stands. But just with anonymous acquaintances or someone who I will not meet again. And I don’t do friends with benefits thing.” Gaila was genuinely puzzled by it without any judgement, and he can’t help but chuckle at her puzzlement.

 

“In case of fuck buddy, I tend to care about the other a bit more than I should, get attached, become a bit territorial. It just is not something that will end well because you will either end up more than a fuck buddy, or get hurt by less invested other.” He laid out bluntly because Orions were not known to be shy about sex.

 

“And not having one night stands with someone I will likely to interact with, well, it tends to become repetitive events and that leads to case 1. There also is the fact that there is a large possibility of becoming awkward with the other if that is not the case.” He said a bit self-consciously. He has plenty of experience and stamina due to C24 that leaves fire behind one-night stand, and he had enough experience of that residual heat leading to more, extreme example: Jocelyn. He actually didn’t have expected to see her again and dated her properly when it came apparent something is going on between them, though.

 

He tried his best to put it bluntly and to the point, but Gaila’s face says she did not understand it.

 

“Isn’t it natural that one cares about someone you have sex with? It’s an intimate act. Of course you will get connected with the other and share something no matter how long their time together. And those shared time will let you know the other better, why would they be awkward?”

 

She was so genuinely perplexed that Leonard couldn’t help but smile at her fondly.

 

“Because we humans have the concept of exclusive relationship and tends to get jealous. And we don’t want to expose ourselves to the other in the fear of getting hurt or being ashamed. We can express ourselves without restraint if we don’t know the counterpart or won’t meet them again. At least, that is why I think is the reason. It is with me on some level.” He answered seriously after thinking his answer carefully, because that is what she deserves.

 

“Hmm… I think I can see why those thinking can lead to human’s tendencies, but I still don’t understand why you have to think like that in the first place. Sex is sex, it feels good, you get to know people.” Gaila answered with a frown.

 

“It exposes yourself through how you like to fuck, your fetishes, and such. If you want to ask more, I think tonight is not the time, Gaila. It’s Friday night and you definitely came out to unwind, so you should.” He said gently stopping Gaila’s obvious want to ask more.

 

Her expression turned sly at that note and now she was consciously accentuating all her curves.

 

“Maybe we could talk about it somewhere else?”

 

He grinned at her cheeky response. “I know there won’t be much of a serious talking if we go somewhere else, Gaila. I had spent a night with an Orion woman before, you know.”

 

Gaila pouted theatrically, emphasizing her plush lip. “I thought I would be your first Orion. Did she say anything afterward?”

 

“So you want to know how the other Orion thought about my performance?” He arched his brow. “I’ll have you know she said she was thoroughly satisfied for a week’s worth. I might’ve taken offense if I don’t know about Orion, though.” He said with a chuckle. He is not being modest at all right now, but well, Gaila is Orion and his past encounter really did say that.

 

And Gaila looked more determined after hearing that. Maybe he shouldn’t have answered it truthfully.

 

“You know, Leonard, I can do one-time, I am not ashamed about what I like, I won’t say anything about our time together, we don’t have to do anything kinky if it makes you uncomfortable to see me afterward, and I am sure we won’t be awkward after sex.” She fluttered her eyelashes while rebutting all his reasons.

 

And if she listed things like that, he had to concede she has a point, because he does know how Orion is regarding sex. He will be treating it differently as well because he is not a xenophobe at all, but he does have stereotypes and preconceptions – which he is not proud of. What she said is true, but there still is one thing.

 

“As I said, I tend to get attached to someone I sleep with. I got a complain that I meddle more than I should. I probably will nag you to be cautious about your safety while sleeping with other people and such.” He said with barely hidden bitterness because even his wife – who he thought he had a right to worry about – got tired of his nagging.

 

“If I were just a friend without sex, you would not worry about those things? Because I would like to be a friend with you, Leonard.” Gaila said sincerely, all the trace of conscious seduction gone from her posture.

 

He can’t help but agree with that as well. He cares about his people – Samper-fi, you know – and he knows he will be not that different on the point of nagging if he befriends Gaila. That is why he keeps his distance to general popularity.

 

God, he does not know why, but he thinks he made more friends under a month in Starfleet than he did with Leonard’s name before coming here. He can’t fathom how he would survive after Leonard’s life is over if he collects friends at this rate.

 

He could opt to reject everyone from now on, distancing himself from Chris and Jim, but he promised himself he wouldn’t. And he doesn’t want to.

 

Gaila sat silently waiting his inner turmoil to pass, understanding and patience shining through her intelligent eyes. He appreciates her bluntness and openness, and she would be a great friend.

 

He finally conceded. He is not one to do something he does not want, and he does not hide himself as long as he can help it because he has enough secrets to start with due to C24.

 

He let his lips to stretch into lazy grin and thickened his accent. “Do you have anywhere else to go tomorrow, darlin’? Because I don’t think you will make it.”

 

Gaila giggled delightedly. “No, I am free tomorrow. I have a roommate. Your place?”

 

“As long as you don’t snoop around in the morning, Gaila.” He downed his glass and finally let himself wrap his arm around her waist.

 

He dipped his head to capture her plush lip, lazily following the contour and allowed her to deepen the kiss by obligingly opening his lips. They stayed learning each other for a few minutes and letting the heat develop.

 

“Shall we leave? Do you have any friends you have to inform, darlin’?” He asked in a low voice when they broke.

 

“I told them whom I was going after. They won’t worry if I disappear.” Her hands were already mapping his torso, trailing every defined muscle through cloth.

 

He took her hand to still her and kissed at her fingertips. “You should know that I have an opinion about that. At least try to look at them and wave a hand?”

 

She pouted but followed his suggestion, turning to get her friends’ attention. He got his fill following the curves with his eyes during it.

 

His time with Orion was spectacular in the sense of her stamina and eagerness without a trace of shame. He couldn’t let himself go all the way due to the fear he might hurt her with his enhanced strength – he never did after the enhancement –, but he enjoyed more than enough that his enhanced stamina was somewhat depleted after the long night that turned into early morning. This is the first time he let himself be with someone after Jocelyn – he stayed faithful no matter the state of their relationship – and he considers himself lucky it is with an Orion.

 

Thankfully, it seems Gaila’s friends were looking out for her, and it took little time for Gaila to wave at them and pulled Leonard outside of the bar.

 

It would be a lie if there are no worries going through his mind, but he already decided and his company is delightful. He will enjoy the night.

 

Chapter Text

“I really can’t believe you lied to me,” came petulant voice from the kitchen.

Leonard heaved a sigh. “I told you, Jim. It wasn't exactly a lie. But I led you to false conclusion, so I am sorry for that.”

“You said you don’t do one-night stand with someone you will see again!” Jim accused the same thing he have been accusing for last week.

“I explained in depth to you what I implied in that statement and why I thought Gaila was an exception. It’s a bit different because she is Orion. And no, I am not a xenophobe for god’s sake, but cut me some slack if I believe her when she said the intimacy during sex will only help our friendship and will not be awkward at all because she is an Orion. I know there are humans who are like that as well, but I just am not inclined to try my luck.” He intoned now somewhat memorized line while putting on something casual for his ‘date’ with Chris.

“I am that way as well!” Jim shouted.

He let out another deep sigh and picked up his gym bag to go out to kitchen area.

“I do believe you if you say you are, Jim. But we are already a friend. We will be having sex with our budding friendship in between. That will be way more intimate than what I had with Gaila. Gaila and I are getting friendly, yes, but we weren’t friend when we fucked. And I will not have a casual fuck with a friend.” He said seriously looking straight into Jim’s eyes.

“Now tell me what really is bugging you. I know you find me attractive and won’t have any problem having sex with me, but you feel same way with anyone with pulse. You are not pissed off that you don’t get to bed me so tell me what it is, Jim.”

Jim thinned his lips. “Forget it.”

Jim tried to get up and go back to his room, but Leonard blocked him with a frustrated huff.

What exactly is bugging the kid? He thought their conversation during last week carefully and the thought struck.

“Is it because you think I lied to you, Jim?” Jim’s thinning lips said he is on the right track, and also the kid does think it as a lie.

“Jim,” he gestured the kid to sit down at the stool again. “I am sorry you got hurt thinking I lied to you. In my defense – no hear me out – I only knew you for a short amount of time and there were too many people hearing our conversation. I didn’t want to get into detail, and I didn’t know I could consider Orion as an exception at that time, myself. And yes I know I am justifying myself but I will do exactly same thing if situation is same even now. It's just how I am. But I can see that you got hurt by it, and I am sorry for causing it.” He said with the sincerity.

He knows it’s half-assed apology if he actually was at fault, but he still doesn’t think of it as his fault, and he is not one to say things just to escape the situation.

Jim paused at his word searching his face and slumped a bit. “I know I am getting all worked up about nothing at all. I don’t know why I am this upset from the start. I never got upset at things like this.”

His heart ached a little at Jim’s words.

“Hey,” he said softly. “Look at me. I am grateful that you got to trust me in such a short time, and regretful that this happened to make you feel betrayed and hurt. And yes, I am grateful because I know you are not one to trust someone easily, and I will let you know I also let you stick around too easily considering my usual tendency to stay away from people.” He said gently throughout the whole speech holding the kid’s defiant eyes covering the hurts the kid collected throughout his uneasy childhood.

“Can we agree on that it was not my intention to hurt you, but I am sorry that you got hurt because of me and I will try not to in the future? Because I am sorry.”

The kid crooked a smile a bit. “Don’t you suppose to say you won’t do it again in this situation?”

He smiled gently as well. “You and I both know there can be no such promises.” He has never been the one to give empty promises, which Jocelyn hated, but the kid is too mature to believe in those empty or unlikely to be kept promises anyway.

Jim bit his bottom lip and nodded at it. He nodded as well and got back to his usual self. It was too touchy feely for his emotionally stunted brain.

“Now get out. I will likely to be late at this rate.”

“Aww, Bones. Pike won’t mind that you took some more time to all dolled up! Although, you could do a bit better than that for a date, Bones.” Jim wiggled his eyebrows with his cheeky tone, and he groaned ignoring slightly relieved heart.

“For the last time, Jim, it is NOT a date!” He bellowed at a Jim’s retreating back, seeing thankfully empty hallway.

“Whatever you say, Bones!” Jim sing-songed loudly, not even turning back for it.

He briefly entertained the idea of dragging Jim to Medical to give vaccines, but he was already late, so he sat to walk a bit fast to reach a transport site.

~*~

“Sorry for being late,” he apologized as soon as he is near enough.

Chris was wearing something casually as well, due to their gym appointment later on.

“I’m sure there will be a good reason for it. Let’s get the food first. I am not exactly keen on being seen together like this if I can help it, and somebody insisted he needs to be fed first before strenuous activity.” Chris smirked guiding Leonard to somewhere he obviously frequented.

“It’s Jim. I'll tell you about it when we sit down. And I don’t have any illusion that tonight will be strenuous in anyway for me,” he answered in a matching playful smirk, moving just fast enough to put his thumb on the particular rib of Chris’. Just for a brief second, showing his inhumanness a bit and reminding their first encounter.

“Bastard,” Chris laughed punching his arm. “You have to remember who are buying dinner tonight. I know you didn’t have your first paycheck yet.”

“Well then, I will be the utmost gentlemen just till you pay for the dinner. After you, darlin’.” He hold the door for Chris and bowed exaggeratedly.

They sat down near the wall. The place was quite packed but maintained pleasant and easy atmosphere. As long as food is not bad, he thinks he will come again.

After placing their respective order, they settled more comfortably sipping water – they need to work out later, so the limited choice in drinks.

“So, you said something about Jim?” Chris asked casually.

He opened to answer the question, but paused slightly and tilted his head. “You call him Jim?”

“I am his advisor, you know. I met him several times while working out his schedule and I will meet him periodically throughout his time at academy. He does not want to be called Kirk.” Chris arched a knowing brow.

“Yeah, he insisted on being called Jim. I didn’t know you were his advisor, though.” He admitted a bit ashamed. The information involved both of his friends and he didn’t know it.

Chris drummed the table absentmindedly, thinking through something. “I guess it makes sense why he didn’t tell you. You said he saw us leaving together at that bar. He knows we are friendly.”

“And?”

“And he did not open up to me at all, yet. I was his father’s friend, and I used his father – who he does not know at all and only burdened him with his name – to join. It is not something solid to start with, and I am his advisor. He is calculating and observing, but he knows we are friends, so he didn’t say anything to you.”

He agreed Chris’ analogy with a nod and got to think about circumstances as well.

“Well, I will not force either of you to be friendly with each other, you are adults after all. But as I think you care about the kid and want to get past tentative cohabitation status, why don’t you try doing something together during periodic meeting? Chess, maybe?” Chris arched his brow questioningly at this. “You said you are known for your tactical mind. Of course you play chess. And well, I happened to hear that you won academy chess competition for last two years.”

He glared at Chris predicting the kind of response he will get, but his glare didn’t stop him from saying it.

“Oh, I didn’t know you care, sweetheart.”

“Of course I care, darling.” He deadpanned, and added real answer. “Unfortunately, I do have exceptional hearing as well.”

Chris nodded. “Chess actually seems like a good idea. As long as Jim doesn’t mind spending more time with the professor, that is.”

“You are the one who said command tracks have a type. You won’t throw away the opportunity to kick your professor’s ass if it were you, will you? Especially when he has nothing to lose even though he loses the game against the champion?”

“If you put it that way…” Chris admitted with a sheepish grin.

That’s when their order came, and Leonard downright moaned after the first bite. He definitely will come here frequently.

“I am glad you approve,” Chris sounded amused.

“It was replicated food or mass hall food for over a year, Chris. I think I am entitled to a dramatic reaction.” Chris just chuckled and gestured ‘go on.’ So he did.

After several bites to quall his taste bud, he remembered original question. “Right, Jim. I got delayed because Jim was upset he thought I lied about ‘don’t do casual.’” He grimaced remembering everything that happened last week again.

And apparently, Chris heard about it as well considering his full blown smile. He didn’t get his hopes high considering it happened at the mass hall anyway.

“Yes, I heard about cadet Gaila’s enthusiastic proclaim of ‘Leonard is fantastic in bed.’ In the mass hall.”

“She and I agreed on not saying anything about what happened during it, but apparently she thought commenting about my,” he grimaced, “performance,” and Chris snickered, “was not included in that. I practically FELT every eyes in the mass hall on me. I never heard mass hall silencer than that!” He gestured wildly.

“Look at the bright side. Your performance,“ he snickered again, the bastard, ”is vouched by Orion woman. You can’t get more universal guarantee than that,” Chris was laughing so hard that he barely managed to finish his sentence.

“I’ll have you know I already had that guarantee before, thank you very much.” He bit out through gritted teeth.

That only got Chris to start whole new bout of laugh. He resigned to his fate and ate his delicious meal sulkily, because he won’t waste his free dinner.

“Sorry, sorry. I am sure it pains you for the whole academy to know your competence. But I am sure cadet Gaila meant well. It IS a high praise after all.” That sentence would be more comforting if Chris wasn’t wiping a tear with the back of his hand.

“I know she meant well. She was genuinely sorry after finding out I didn’t want that bit known.” And he couldn’t be angry at her because of it, damn it.

“I’m guessing it is another perk?” Chris asked with a touch of delicate tone hidden in it after laughter dies a bit, and he shrugged. Chris already knows general perks, and as long as it’s not experimenting on him to know specificities, it’s okay.

“It is. I had plenty of time to gain experiences, and it does give me great stamina.” Chris nodded neutrally at it. “But it does make me restrain myself as well, so.”

Chris jerked up to meet his eyes. “You mean there might be a chance you could… if you lose control…” He nodded at Chris’ chopped words.

Chris drew a shaky breath and scratched his brow. “I admit I didn’t think about that. Was there…?”

“No. There were lots of dates with my hand to make sure before I let myself try.” He would have been more self-conscious if Chris wasn't genuinely worried. Chris nodded with a trace of relief.

“I am guessing it’s something like pon farr between Vulcan and human.” Chris said after chewing his meal in contemplation. And it was an analogy he thought about it before, so he agreed easily.

“I will not be violent and be in control most of the time, but yeah, you could say that. I forgot you have Vulcan as a first officer. Not many people know about that period.”

“Yes, Spock. I know it as his captain. So, you never allowed yourself to let go?”

“Of course I didn't. I will surely damage whoever the partner is, and it’s not like I can explain myself when normal restraints for humans cannot hold me. And I am a bit stronger than Vulcan, for your information.”

Chris just hummed as an answer and seemed content to process all the information, so he let his guard down – his mistake – and drank some water from his cup, “So you have never done edging, did you?” He choked.

After his coughing fit and the bastard eating with smug expression, he shot murderous glare to the bastard.

“I was sexually active before the accident, not that it is any of your business. And I am very good at doing it to my partner with all my perks. I can go on for hours without any toys, I’ll let you know, not that it will ever be your business.” He growled out pusposedly lowering his voice, getting sadistic satisfaction at Chris’ widening eyes.

“Let’s not talk about sex, considering we will soon be participating in physical activity, shall we?” He can’t help but poke one more time, and Chris hastily nodded while clearing his throat.

He sighed inwardly. They really should draw some line at playful flirting before things get out of hand and get between their friendship.

It’s not a problem yet, though, so he and Chris picked more neutral topic – academy life, Phil, complains about professor or admirals – and soon they stayed more than 2 hours at the restaurant. Chris paid, and they opted to walk to the gym to give them some time for digestion.

He is excited at the prospect of doing actual workout after hand-to-hand tests with Chris. The occasion which he does not have to hold back is rare, so he will enjoy his time tonight.

Chapter Text

They weren’t in a hurry to get to the gym even though they would rather not be caught like this and start whole new rumors.

 

Leonard followed Chris with lazy stride, continuing to talk about this and that.

 

When they finally reached the gym, it was already 10 p.m. Chris opened the obviously empty gym and manipulated several things from the maintenance panel.

 

It was a spacious gym with mats and exercisers at the middle, and running track surrounding them. There was a corridor at the side that will probably lead to simulating rooms and locker rooms.

 

“There. I deactivated whole surveillance system and don’t worry, I already got a permission to do it for tonight. She owes me and it’s not like we will break things,” Chris paused for a second, “are we?”

 

“I am not planning to. Thank you for doing this.”

 

“It’s not a big deal. I am more than eager to know about the things you are capable of, to tell you the truth.” Chris sounded excited and a bit sheepish at the excitement.

 

And even though he can understand the curiosity, he isn’t exactly a fan of his curse so he couldn’t play along and ensure Chris by bragging. He opted for a different approach. “Thank you anyway for the thoughtfulness. It has been ages since I stretched my muscle without worrying.”

 

Chris smiled as an answer and pointed locker room to change.

 

“So, how are we going to do this? How much time do we have in here?”

 

“Till the morning, but I think my friend will think we had sex in here if we spend the whole night. So, till some reasonable hour? And I don’t know about you, super human, but I have to warm up a bit for a good spar, so let’s warm up for half an hour, spar, workout, and let’s see how things go?” Chris said as he pushed the shirt over his head. Leonard looked away.

 

“I am enhanced, not magical. I do have to warm up if I want to do a full workout routine tonight. I can beat you without warm up, though.” He teased. “But your plan works. Let’s do that.” He finished by pulling a wide wristband over his RRTS Reaper tattoo. It had been pain in the ass to keep the tattoo intact, but he couldn’t let it be erased.

 

They did respective warm up routine for half an hour putting quite a bit of distance between them – they really should get hold of themselves before things blow up – and met at the mat.

 

“So,” Chris started. “How would you describe your skill level on hand to hand?”

 

“Good.” He shrugged.

 

Chris shot him an incredulous glare saying ‘that’s all you’ve got to say’ without using words.

 

He sighed warily. “I was part of special ops before the accident, meaning I was better than average among marine in most of the fields. I was good at hand to hand, even though my specialty was aim.”

 

He cherishes his tattoo but that does not mean he likes thinking about RRTS. He misses them - except Portman - after all this time even though they were all unhinged one way or the other – he is not delusional – and there was the whole Olduvai fiasco which was just fucking great. It’s just whole mixed up and painful feelings.

 

Chris was shaking his head slowly. “They were disbanded soon after federation founded.”

 

He heard unsaid question. “Yep.” He answered with a pop.

 

“You actually saw the first contact?! You were there when it happened??” Chris’ eyes were practically bugging out from his head.

 

He laughed. It’s just so Captain Pike response to focus on that particular part so he couldn’t help it.

 

“I wasn’t exactly right there, but I saw it being all over the news, yes.” He said with a chuckle and Chris’ astonished expression didn’t change a bit.

 

“HOLY SHIT. I thought your accident was with some alien matter brought after first contact. Why didn’t you tell me? No. I don’t care about the reason. You have to tell me how it was like.”

 

“Oh, I have to, now?” He arched his brow with a cocky grin.

 

Yes. I will pull rank if I have to. Or bribe you. Anything it takes.” Chris unconsciously took a predatory step towards him during the demand, and he firmly kept his mind away from his gutter.

 

“Easy, tiger. I’ll tell you next time we have a drink together. Or eat together. Let’s test hand to hand today as we planned. Deal?” He tried to placate Chris by trying to sound gentle and holding his hand out, but Chris’ frustrated glare made it impossible to stifle the laughter.

 

“Yeah, okay.” Chris grudgingly accepted at last. “So your hand to hand is great, and you are really good at containing your strength or speed during everyday life. Can’t you just be a good fighter? Is it hard to control during the fight?”

 

“No, I can control it. I have firm control over how much force I exert. I might have to test how much is an appropriate strength for fight to pass normal, but I am sure I will not harm the other unconsciously. The problem is I am good. With a military stance. That is not something in my doctor file and I didn’t spend any time working on it during med school or residency. There will be questions that can’t be explained.” He explained.

 

He had experiences in deadly combats during war and his dark patch of time after Sam’s death, but he didn’t keep a tight leash on his strength during those times. He was careful with his speed only. He would have to get acclimatized with appropriate level of strength to use for friendly match.

 

“So you mean you can control yourself to be seen as average human during fight.” Chris checked.

 

“A highly trained human, yes.” He agreed with minor adjustment.

 

“Let’s see how much it shows first before making any decisions, shall we?” Chris took a few step back to put decent distance between them and took a stance.

 

John took a familiar stance as well, and he felt nostalgia from it and excitement of what will come filling him.

 

Chris attacked first after regarding each other for a few seconds. He aimed a kick on John’s side, which John tried to push away with barely there strength. The force was too small to push the kick away, so he swiftly adjusted the stance to block it. There was an impact on his forearm.

 

Chris whirled as soon as his kick was blocked predicting the blocking, crouching down a little and aiming a punch on the abdomen. He tried to change the trajectory by hitting inside of Chris’ arm with a little more strength then before, but it still was not enough of strength. The punch was still aimed at his abdomen, and he blocked it using other hand. The impact was cushioned by him catching the punch and dampening it.

 

Similar exchanges went on, with him using more and more strength during every exchange. Chris’ brow was furrowed, but didn’t say anything and they kept going for a few minutes.

 

When his punch finally has enough strength to push out the attacking limb and sway Chris a little during it, he remembered the strength used.

 

Chris recovered quickly and attacked a clavicle, and that was the first time John caught the punch instead of blocking it. He saw his face stretched in feral grin through Chris’ eyes. Chris twisted his wrist to set his hand free, but John’s grip was too firm. Chris tried to kick the side of John’s knee, but he saw the attempt as soon as muscle shifts, so he kicked inside of Chris’ calf with just enough force to push it out between their body.

 

He still held Chris’ hand and with failed attempt at kicking, Chris tried circling around him to catch his back using the kicked out momentum. He circled in opposite direction and end up loosely hugging Chris from behind with Chris’ held hand between their body. Chris elbowed him in solar plexus using his whole weight, but John didn’t bother blocking it and didn’t react at the impact. Instead, he twisted Chris to the sideway kicking Chris’ feet off the floor, planting Chris on the floor with his face down and loosely clutching the base of his neck. Chris grunted.

 

John stopped Chris’ attempt to roll them by weighing down a little more and swiping the back of Chris’ neck for a reminder. Chris shivered.

 

“Shit. You okay, Chris? I didn’t hurt you, did I?” Leonard hastily let Chris go and helped him in sitting position, skimming over his figure to assess the damage.

 

“Of course I’m not hurt.” Chris sounded incredulous. “Don’t tell me you can’t remember it? Do I have to worry about multiple personality?” Chris was a bit breathless after sparring, and his question contained a touch of concern hidden in it.

 

“No, I remember all of it. I am sure my control didn’t snap, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t hurt. Accidents happen, or you might have pulled a muscle with your old age,” Leonard attempted a weak smile and then grimaced a little. He knows his mentality had changed and Chris must have sensed it. He wasn’t exactly subtle considering the feral grin. “I don’t have multiple personality. But I had lived under a few names and there are parts I don’t show during each life. I do tend to think a bit differently and address myself differently in my head if those parts have to be shown.”

 

Chris seemed he mostly understood his explanation, but tilted his head a bit silently asking for better clarification.

 

“For example, my physical capability is mostly due to the first life, which is not part of Leonard’s life. Or was, should I say. General personality is same, such as my reluctance to harm people. But Leonard, as a doctor, are more averse to it compared to how I was being a marine. I address myself Leonard in my head nowadays, but if I have to fight, with or without using my perks, I slip back to first life’s mentality and refer myself with my given name in my head.” He said with an uncomfortable shrug. He doesn’t feel normal stating like that but he was far from normal anyway, so.

 

“That makes sense.” Chris nodded and his breath was almost back to normal now. “And no, I am not hurt. You were right, you are really good at controlling your strength and speed. Don’t think I didn’t notice what you were doing for the whole fight. You systematically increasing the strength was astonishing. And you slipping into slightly different mentality was quite apparent.”

 

He carefully studied Chris’ face looking for – wariness, hostility, rejection, or anything like that. All he saw was contemplation.

 

“It was really long ago the last time I fought and those circumstances were, well, not pretty. I had to be feral.” He is ashamed he let that much of control go. He does not like harming people, but he can’t deny he missed the adrenaline rush so that he slipped more than he planned. He could’ve hurt Chris seriously for god’s sake.

 

He didn’t say any of it but it must’ve shown in his face, because Chris gently placed the hand on his knee providing comfort.

 

“You didn’t hurt me.” Chris said firmly. “Hell, I don’t think I will have bruises at all.”

 

That relieved him a little. He had been acutely aware and in control of his power – he worked and tested thoroughly – but as he said, he hadn’t exactly facilitated the control during fights, and controlling his power and not hurting other is two different things.

 

“But I understood why you said there would be too many questions. You were too good. Your strength and speed is within human range – even though your speed was exceptional. I know you can tone it down considering what you showed me, but it will be easily recognizable by everyone that you can do more and you are just restraining yourself. Your stance and blocking were too efficient. Instructors will push you to show your limit.” Chris said in matter-of-fact tone that did not reveal any of his emotion.

 

“I have training ingrained in me and my dynamic visual acuity is enhanced as well. Also, I am not a good actor.” He was torn between comforting hand on his knee and Chris’ poker face. He didn’t know what to expect.

 

“Testing out the class seems reasonable choice. There will be too much talk regarding you if you attend the class. Maybe someone reliable for a test and reason them with something along the line - you don’t like hurting someone because you are a doctor, but you are capable because of your prior training?” Chris seemed to thinking out loud, so he stayed silent. “Back story needs more work, but I think your perks can be hidden during the test. There likely will be questions, yes, but testing out basic hand to hand class is common, so I think it will be okay.”

 

“Will finding someone for a test be easy? There will be a good chance for them to notice I am holding back my strength and speed.” He was still skeptical about it.

 

“That… needs some consideration, yes. We’ll have to see.” Chris agreed a bit reluctantly. Then he took his hand back from Leonard’s knee, making him hold his breath.

 

“Let’s talk about the last hit, now.” Chris crossed his arm in front of him.

 

That was so unexpected that he had to tilt his head and furrow his brows in confusion. “Last hit?”

 

“Yes. The one I elbowed you on the solar plexus with all I got.” Chris said impatiently and he nodded remembering the hit, still confused.

 

“I hit you using my whole weight – I did it because I thought you would block it – and you didn’t react at all except for slight change in breath intake. Which I would not have noticed if I wasn’t that close to you,” Chris paused after that and furrowed his brows in confusion of his own. “Or are you much more sturdier as well? It doesn’t affect you?”

 

He knows his lips are forming a small O and his expression is showing his discomfort, but he does not know how to answer that.

 

“Because if your reaction was like that due to your enhancement, I get it, but if it is not, I want to ask. I know the impact must have been painful.” Chris continued after it was apparent he will not answer anytime soon.

 

“I… am sturdier than before, yes.” He finally answered reluctantly.

 

“But it was painful?” Chris pressed. “It was enough to break bones if I had hit somewhere else with same strength, Leonard. I try not to ask about your past, but I know you could’ve easily blocked it even without using your perks, and you let me hit you.” His expression was remaining passive, but he can hear slight worry in the words.

 

Oh. Chris was worried. His eyes widened at the realization.

 

He was relieved that it was not due to revulsion, but that does make him answer more cautiously.

 

“I didn’t let you hit me because I want to feel alive by feeling pain or something like that. Or any other psychological reasons you might be thinking. I let you hit me because that impact is not that painful to me due to my high pain threshold. It was just easier to let you hit me and use your surprise to subdue you.” That only seemed to upset Chris more, as he suspected.

 

“And you have high pain threshold because…?” Chris didn’t look like he wanted to hear it.

 

He huffed an uneasy laugh. “If you are thinking I was subjected to torture or lab experiment, you can wipe that image away.” That made Chris loose some of the tension.

 

“I just… Look, you know I heal nearly instantly, right?” Chris nodded. “It’s similar with the need of self-control during sex. When trajectory weapons instead of phasers were prevalent, there were small pieces stuck in my body without entrance wound. I had to cut myself open and pull those pieces out because I cannot explain the lack of entrance wound and the incisions closing almost too fast to hold them open with spreader to doctors. And anesthetic doesn’t work on me due to too fast metabolism. Unfortunate side effects of the perks and I got used to pain. So it became habit to not block manageable hits and use it.” He shrugged a little hoping it might lighten the mood a bit.

 

It didn’t. Chris was deathly pale and looked like he wanted to vomit.

 

He waited for a reaction but Chris just kept heaving a little for several minutes. He tentatively reached his hand out at last, not knowing it will be welcomed or not.

 

“Hey...” That brought Chris back to the present and his hand was clutched tightly before touching Chris’ shoulder.

 

“I’m sorry.” Chris said with such determination that he blinked at him.

 

“I’m okay. I’m used to it now.” He answered with what he hopes is a reassuring smile.

 

“Still. I am sorry you had to go through it, and sorry it happened more than enough to get so used to it.” Chris said looking straight into his eyes and there were so much sincerity and sadness.

 

He didn’t know how to answer it, so he just shrugged at him.

 

Chris took several calming breaths visibly collecting himself and let his hand go.

 

“I am really sorry you had to get used to that. There sure are gruesome side effects for seemingly good perks.” He grimaced once more. “I would feel better if you don’t let yourself get hurt because you can take it and thinking you will heal, but I am not sure it is my place to ask you to change your habit.” Chris was searching his face after saying that.

 

He sighed, knowing he would have wanted the same thing if his friend was in the same situation. “You are my friend. I understand you don’t like seeing me in pain even if I can take it. I will try to break the habit, okay?”

 

Chris smiled softly at that. “Thank you.”

 

“So, hand to hand assessment is done?” He asked trying to go back to the original subject.

 

Chris nodded. “Yes, I thought we will need at least an hour though. I didn’t think your competency was so apparent for everyone to see.” He admitted. “We have plenty of time because of it, though, so feel free to stretch your muscles. I think my friend equipped this place to be able to be used by Vulcans as well.”

 

He got up holding his hand out to help Chris do the same and smiled excitedly.

 

“Oh, I will enjoy it. I think I will work out and run for about 2 to 3 hours, and check out battle simulation rooms over there. Feel free to watch it if you want.”

 

“Sure. That will be enough time to get me exhausted. I will enjoy watching your sweet ass kicked in the nice, comfortable chair after exerting myself.” Chris laughed, all the worries from before gone for now.

 

“I admit I never used it before, but I am sure I can kick your ass at doing it.” He grumbled playfully pushing Chris a little, who laughed, and picked simple looking machine.

 

He can see it actually can be set to much higher level than for humans, and felt the smile stretching over his face. Oh yes, he will enjoy tonight.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chris : [[ So, dinner tonight? Drinks? ]]

 

[[ What? Chris, our gym visit was yesterday/today. We parted less than 10 hours ago. Are you that eager to see me? ]]

 

Chris : [[ Of course I am. I have a tale to hear, after all. ]]

 

[[ Oh, Right. First contact. I didn’t know you would want to see me so soon after I thoroughly kicked your ass on fight simulation. ]]

 

Chris : [[ That only happened because of the perks, you know. ]]

 

[[ I think someone is forgetting what happened before the workout. ]]

 

Chris : [[ I’ll let you know I am very fit and good at hand to hand considering my age. ]]

 

[[ I’ll let you know I am as well. :) ]]

 

Chris : [[ Hilarious. So. Dinner? Drinks? ]]

 

[[ Hmm. I think I remember something about bribery…? ]]

 

Chris : [[ Is good booze not enough? ]]

 

[[ You'll share it with me anyway. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Watch me. ]]

 

[[ You wouldn’t. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Yeah, I know I wouldn’t. How about monthly visit to the gym? Without surveillance? ]]

 

[[ Why do I have the feeling that was your card from the start? ]]

 

Chris : [[ Maybe you are getting to know me then. ]]

 

[[ Monthly gym visit. Deal. I have morning shift tomorrow. Dinner? ]]

 

Chris : [[ This is not something we can talk about in the open space. I will cook for you. ]]

 

[[ Looking forward to it. ]]

 

 

~*~

 

 

[[ I finally got my first paycheck. Name your price for the patience. Dinner? Nice booze? ]]

 

Chris : [[ Oh honey, you don’t have to. You know I make more than enough for both of us. ]]

 

[[ Very funny. You should watch out, I might take up on that. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Next gym day is two weeks away. Unless you are thinking of home cooked meal, let’s go for a booze. ]]

 

[[ I am a fine cook, but let’s leave that for later. I want a drink. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Bad day? ]]

 

[[ Bad week. The kid was battered earlier this week. ]]

 

Chris : [[ I didn’t get any report on that. ]]

 

[[ Yeah, well, perks of being friend with a doctor. The kid would’ve refused medical help if there was a possibility for a demerit. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Should I worry about it? ]]

 

[[ That is why I’m telling you. I wasn’t there, but from what I heard, I think it was someone who were against George Kirk. The kid has been tight-lipped, and I sensed there’s no way in hell he will be talking soon. He won’t press charge, and even though I asked around discreetly, nobody saw anything distinctive. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Shit. Drink it is. Tell me more about it. My office at 9? ]]

 

[[ I may be a bit late if my shift drags on. I will comm. you if that’s the case. ]]

 

 

~*~

 

 

Chris : [[ I heard that an ambassador requested you specifically for her husband’s brain surgery. ]]

 

[[ News travels fast, I guess. I received the request today morning. Phil told you? ]]

 

Chris : [[ He did, but I first heard it from the brass. The request came through official channel, ‘cause you are a cadet. Brass was thrilled. The ambassador even said she didn’t know you quit the hospital and searched for you. ]]

 

[[ Yeah, she told me the patient I’ve operated back were her cousin. That was about 5 years ago, though. I am surprised she is willing to go through official channel. That would cost her a favor or two in the future. Her husband’s surgery is not that complex according to the file. ]]

 

Chris : [[ I can understand the want to find the best doctor for loving one’s surgery no matter the complexity of it. The ambassador is really competent. She can afford a favor or two if it means decreasing the risk. And yes, she owing Starfleet is what brass got thrilled. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve thought several admirals wanted to kiss you. ]]

 

[[ No thanks. If she can afford it, then good. I was just worried about her paying more than she should and could. I don’t exactly trust brass for compassion and reasonable demand. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Well, that I cannot refute. Are you okay with this? I know brass didn’t actually make it as a request. ]]

 

[[ I know I am good. There of course will be risks as every surgery does, but prospect is good and I will do my best. There will be jealous bastards somewhere up in the medical chain after this though. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Screw them. Dean of medical is on your side and many other doctors are as well, which I know for a fact from Phil. Of course, there is the youngest captain in Starfleet as well. ]]

 

[[ Sure. I can tell last bit is the most important part, isn’t it? ]]

 

Chris : [[ Of course. I knew you were smart enough to know that. ]]

 

[[ Ever heard of sarcasm? ]]

 

Chris : [[ I don’t think I did. Whatever it is, it doesn’t sound nice and I know you are too nice to even think of it. ]]

 

[[ Haha. If you don’t know what it is, know that my words were dripping it. Anyway, gotta go. I have to stop that kid before getting castrated from very irate looking Ms. Uhura. ]]

 

Chris : [[ She might actually do it. Tell him to be careful if he wants to keep his bed post. ]]

 

[[ Which hypothetically have same notches as yours, right? ]]

 

Chris : [[ I can hear your eye rolling. I think mine has more than his, yet. ]]

 

[[ Yeah, yeah. The kid needs his intact to put you down a peg or two. I’m going. ]]

 

 

~*~

 

 

Chris : [[ I heard surgery went spectacularly well. Congratulations. ]]

 

[[ He will make a full recovery. Thankfully. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Thanks to your skill, you mean. Now brass owes you one. Not something big, but maybe one or two small privilege. ]]

 

[[ I did what I have to do as a doctor. There were no surprises during surgery, so all is good. I have to think about it. Nothing comes to mind for now. ]]

 

Chris : [[ You better ask sooner than later, but it can wait for a several days. Drinks tonight? For celebration? ]]

 

[[ I’d love to, but Jim insisted me being free tonight. ]]

 

Chris : [[ He must’ve been sure of your success and planned the party. Let’s make it a dinner this Saturday, instead. Somewhere fancier than where we used to go during gym visit. ]]

 

[[ I sincerely hope the kid didn’t plan on doing anything outrageous. Please let it be quiet drink. Sure, as per usual, tell me where this fancy restaurant is and I’ll be there. But please nowhere too fancy that I have to wear suit or something. ]]

 

Chris : [[ But you would look good in it. ;) ]]

 

[[ I warned you Chris. I will not go out wearing suit before workout. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Maybe next time, then. ]]

 

[[ One can hope. ]]

 

 

~*~

 

 

[[ Jim said you looked troubled today. ]]

 

Chris : [[ …No? We played chess as usual? And I won as usual? ]]

 

[[ But was there something in your mind? ]]

 

Chris : [[ I… don’t think so? Papers I have to grade? Slow construction of Enterprise? I don’t know what Jim is talking about, Len. ]]

 

[[ Give me a moment. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Well? ]]

 

[[ The little shit is barricading in the bathroom. ]]

 

Chris : [[ …And? ]]

 

[[ And I will kill him. Slowly. ]]

 

Chris : [[ May I ask why? ]]

 

[[ He is shouting just ask you out and make it official already. ]]

 

Chris : [[ O…kay? He knows we are talking regularly, right? He knew he didn’t have to con you to contact me? ]]

 

[[ I didn’t tell him, but I am absolutely sure he knows considering those shit-eating grins I receive. No, he just thought it would be fun to see how we would react. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Well then, you have my blessing on completing your job. If you need anything you need for a cover up, let me know. ]]

 

[[ Oh, I got this. ]]

 

 

~*~

 

 

Chris : [[ Len, I heard you lost a patient. I’m sorry. ]]

 

[[ Yeah. Phil? ]]

 

Chris : [[ Jim, actually. He was worried you didn’t even say yes to the booze. ]]

 

[[ You know they don’t have any effects on me. I’d rather not be reminded of my perks on the day like this. ]]

 

Chris : [[ I asked Phil. He said there was nothing anyone can do, and you did your best till the end. ]]

 

[[ I know I did everything I could. ]]

 

Chris : [[ But? ]]

 

[[ But I would’ve been okay, if it were me. He would’ve survived if he… if I… ]]

 

Chris : [[ No, Leonard. I understand the temptation, but we cannot risk Earth, or other planets. ]]

 

[[ Don’t you think I know that? You don’t even know what exactly happened. No one does, except me. I know what will happen when things go wrong, and things will go wrong. That’s why I restrain myself every time. But I was tempted. Every damn time. It’s not some thoughts I can shut down just because I know the nightmare it will bring. ]]

 

Chris : [[ I know I don’t know anything that really matters. And I am not asking you to tell me. But I understand the want to save everyone, Len. Don’t tell me I don’t understand that. I had to make hard choices being a captain, and I still have what ifs from those choices, but I tried to make a choice for a greater good. You and I don’t exactly believe in greater good or lives of many outweighs few, but we also know there are those moments. You did everything you could in this case, because doing whatever you tempted to do was not an option. People dies, Leonard. ]]

 

[[ Of course I know everyone dies. I saw too many of those. ]]

 

[[ Sorry. Just… I know, I couldn’t have done anything else, me doing the other is not an option, it’s not possible after all, but I can’t let it go like it’s just some case. ]]

 

Chris : [[ I know that. Hell, everyone who knows you at least a bit knows that. Your big heart is why everyone sticks around even though you’re grumpy. ]]

 

[[ Oh wow. Insulting me, when I am having a bad night. ]]

 

Chris : [[ It was not an insult, I was just stating the fact. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Are you okay, Leonard? Do you want a company? I can grade papers and bitch about idiots who can’t spell right. This is Starfleet. We are supposed to have the best, for god’s sake. ]]

 

[[ Thank you. But I’d rather be alone tonight. Don’t worry, I will stay in my room and won’t do anything stupid. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Comm. me or Jim in the morning. ]]

 

[[ Yes, sir. ]]

 

Chris : [[ I can practically taste the sarcasm in it. ]]

 

[[ Good. ]]

 

[Messages successfully deleted.]

 

 

~*~

 

 

[[ You were silent for several days. Everything okay? ]]

 

Chris : [[ What? Oh, I guess I did. Yes, everything is okay. ]]

 

[[ Bullshit. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Well… things are quite mess at the moment up here. Admirals are butting their heads with lame excuse and it’s affecting some of my previous crews temporary serving on different ship. ]]

 

[[ Shit. I’m sorry to hear that. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Thanks. I was busy trying to pull some strings for them without getting involved in current dispute. I’m sorry I didn’t comm. you for some time. ]]

 

[[ It’s not a big deal. You had good reason for it as well. I was just worried if something happened. There were no worrying rumors, but I wanted to check. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Thank you for checking. I think it will be over by the week before Christmas, at most. I will be able to make it to the gym. ]]

 

[[ Don’t worry. Just tell me if you can’t. I hope all works out. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Thank you, Leonard. ]]

 

 

~*~

 

 

[[ Phil invited me to new year’s eve party. ]]

 

Chris : [[ I told you, he is a groupie. ]]

 

[[ I really hope he is not, I liked Alison and she is scary. Well, unless they are interested. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Maybe you can test waters at the party. ]]

 

[[ I sincerely would’ve, if I do casual. So you are coming? Who else will be there? I’m not sure I should go. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Most will be high ranking officers, yes, but you are Lieutenant as well, you know. And there will be a few from medical. You could bring Jim as well. He will be the lowest ranking person in the party if he comes. ]]

 

[[ Phil mentioned him as well. I think he will be partying at some bar, though. I will ask anyway. If I get bored by not knowing anyone there, you should prepare yourself to entertain me. ]]

 

Chris : [[ There will be some of my crew as well. Captain can’t be an entertainment to a cadet in front of his crew now, can I? ]]

 

[[ I’m pretty sure they won’t bat an eye if they are anything like Phil or Alison. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Sadly, that’s true. ]]

 

[[ Just what I thought. Prepare yourself to entertain lowly cadet, Captain. ]]

 

Chris : [[ If you are going to subject me to that fate, at least wear something nice. I need an incentive playing clown in front of my crew. ]]

 

[[ We’ll see. ]]

 

 

Chapter Text

Campus was more quiet than usual, with Christmas being mere days away.

 

Remaining school body was cheerful with Christmas spirit as well, but he was just living everyday life, eating lunch after his dull shift at the medical. He was loose than normal, but that has to do with recent visit to the gym, not Christmas.

 

Jim was doing whatever he usually does at somewhere he doesn’t want to know, so he was eating and reading medical journal in peace.

 

When he was almost done, Uhura sat down in front of him.

 

“Dr. McCoy.” She said with a respectful nod.

 

“Ms. Uhura.” He nodded back politely as well, but he can’t stop his brow from arching. They weren’t exactly strangers – thanks to the horny idiot and Gaila – and nodded at each other in the corridor, but they weren’t exactly on speaking terms as well.

 

She looked hesitant, which is not like her at all, and he knew his brow is crawling up more and more.

 

“I heard-,“ she paused as some cadet passed by, which is really odd, “I heard that you will be going to the Dr. Phil’s new year’s eve party.”

 

“Yes.” He answered slowly, having no clue what to expect. “I don’t know how you know about that, but I’m assuming grapevine or Jim.”

 

She hesitated some more, and blurted out, “Can I go as your plus one?”

 

Now he was sure his eyebrows fell off his forehead. He knows she is not interested in him. There should be at least couple more conversation attempts in her part than what they had for last several months. There is a possibility of her being heart achingly shy, but she just does not seem to be a type.

 

And after blurting out, she was talking too fast – well, not so fast that John can’t hear it, but it is fast – for explanation. “I meant it as I want to go to Dr. Phil’s party, as your plus one, but not actually be your plus one, doctor. I am not interested in you that way, which is not meant to offend you, of course, I know you are a great catch, with everything – she got slightly more red here than she already was – but I just prefer-.“

 

He interrupted her before she embarrasses her more. “Okay. I got the part that you are not interested in me. I knew that already as well, so I am not offended. So, you wanted to go to Phil’s party. Can’t you just ask him?”

 

She looked embarrassed for a moment, but visibly pulled herself together before long. “I can and I think he won’t refuse, but that will bring questions on my intentions.”

 

“And your intention is…?” He said leadingly, not knowing if she will answer or not.

 

“I am interested in someone who will be there.” She said with a shrug, not hesitating for answering it. Definitely not shy.

 

“Won’t it be better if you ask them directly? Going to the party as someone’s plus one seems counter-productive.”

 

“I cannot ask him directly yet. He will politely decline the advance and set to avoid spending time with me because it’s logical to decrease the contact to help me accept my rejection.” She said with an eye roll

 

Logical. Which means Vulcan. Huh. And there is only one Vulcan in the academy as far as he knows.

 

“Doesn’t Vulcans have fiancé designated at their young age?” He furrowed his brows because he was sure about that.

 

“They are,” she confirmed. “But Spock is hybrid. I heard,” she hesitated a bit. “something happened and he doesn’t now.”

 

That’s good news to her considering Vulcan bond is not something that can be resolved easily. He didn’t think she will be after him openly if there was a bondmate in the picture, and that confirms it.

 

“As long as not it’s medical problem, it’s not my place to question what happened. So, you are planning to spend time with him before making any advance. That makes sense, because I agree with you that he will avoid you citing some logical reasons,” he rolled his eyes. He knows how Vulcans are like. “But as I said, won’t being my plus one be detrimental for your plan?”

 

She looked a bit uncomfortable at this, which does not bode well. At all.

 

“I don’t think it will be a problem.”

 

She didn’t continue, so he arched his brow. “Because…?”

 

“Because most of the student body thinks you are either in relationship with Captain Pike or Kirk, or all three of you in relationship. Spock does not care about gossip, but he has a superior hearing, he must’ve heard. He and all the others will think I am just there as your friend, being someone you know at the party.” She said in rush, and Leonard palmed his face.

 

He had dreadful feeling about the reason, but it was worse than that. Yes, he knew there were rumors about him and Pike, and he also knew there’s some about him and Jim as well – he has superior hearing as well –, but all three of them together? My God. And she sounds like more than enough of student body believes one of those suspicions.

 

He groaned. Loudly.

 

When he finally put his hand down shouldering as much confidence he can muster to face the world, Uhura was still sitting there looking apologetic.

 

“Okay, I understand your reasoning. I don’t mind you coming, and I am happy to help you because you seem quite sure there won’t be more than flitting talks.” Her whole face brightened, and he can’t help but feel small pride for putting such a smile on her face.

 

“Though, I want to ask… do you believe those rumors?” He felt like he is digging his own grave, but he can’t stop himself from asking.

 

She winced. “I heard that you don’t do casual, from the shuttle and from Gaila, so not Kirk, no. You seem like a monogamy type or at least wants exclusivity from your partners.”

 

He was the one who winced this time. That means… “But I thought maybe about Captain Pike, I admit. There were… no, anyway, it’s not my place to ask or presume, so I’m sorry.” She finished apologetically.

 

Yeah, that’s what he thought, he thought gloomily, and sighed. He should not let this bother him this much. He knew there will be rumors from the start, with or without their playful flirting noticed.

 

He firmly grasped those mindset, and started nodding to Uhura before pausing.

 

“If you thought we were together, why did you ask me?”

 

“If you were together, you could just tell him the truth about the reason you are bringing me as a plus one. If you were testing waters, Captain Pike could have gotten jealous to try something. If you were just friends, I don’t have anything to worry about.” She said matter-of-factly, but she was grinning.

 

He can’t fault her reasoning. He grumbled.

 

“You don’t mind Captain Pike knowing? Won’t people knowing make Spock know as well?”

 

“I am being careful because of that, yes. But I am pretty sure Captain Pike already knows. He once visited during Spock’s office hours and had that look.” It was her turn to grimace.

 

“Well, you should speed up your plan, then, before Spock notices it.”

 

“That is the plan. Thank you for doing this, Dr. McCoy.” She said warmly.

 

“Leonard. Apparently, we are friendly enough for me to bring you to the party, according to someone.” He grumbled halfheartedly, because she was wearing those warm smiles.

 

“Nyota, please. Although I hope you don’t tell Kirk about my first name.”

 

“Of course I won’t. I already knew your first name, Nyota. You were at the medical during my shift, you know. And Jim does not need any more encouragement, believe me.” He rolled his eyes imagining more encouraged and vigorous James T. Kirk. He shivered. He thinks Jim will actually be disappointed at putting an end to their little game, though.

 

“I do believe you. Well then, can I ask you a question now we are friends?” Her sly grin made him feel apprehensive about it.

 

“Do I have a choice?” He asked warily. She ignored it.

 

“Why isn’t Captain Stunning and Doctor Fantastic together?” she said with a straight face, but her tone expresses all the smugness and amusement.

 

He knows she is a communication genius. She intended that tone to be acknowledged.

 

He shot her are-you-kidding-me glare containing all the incredulity he feels.

 

“It wasn’t me who nicknamed Captain Pike and well, Gaila made a pretty big impression on everyone.”

 

He groaned and thumped his head on the table. He hates the world. Nyota laughed merrily seeing his reaction. He feels headache starting.

 

He looked up as he felt a hand on his shoulder. Nyota was smiling more softly and sincerely, conveying her gratitude.

 

“I am really thankful of you doing this, Leonard. See you on New year’s eve.” She got up and left leaving a kiss on his cheek.

 

He sighed wondering if he should be grateful about the fact there won’t be a rumor starting after that. But as he reminded of the reason why there won’t be a rumor and his nickname, he decided on spiteful.

 

 

Chapter Text

Leonard was standing outside of Nyota’s dorm, waiting for her to come down and tugging the suit a little. No matter how much the tailored suit costs and no matter how it fits him like a glove, he just doesn’t feel comfortable in formal clothing. But he has to play a part tonight, and a lady to escort.

 

When he was feeling slightly self-conscious from the stares he receives waiting outside, Nyota came down looking gorgeous.

 

He kissed the back of her hand, not being able to resist his trained manner in front of lovely lady. “You look absolutely lovely, Nyota.” He complimented with a small but genuine smile.

 

She gave a delighted chuckle at the kiss and smiled warmly as well. “Thank you, Leonard. You look stunning today, as well.” She emphasized stunning with a wink, and he groaned as he let go of her hand and offered his arm.

 

They talked about their common acquaintances – Gaila, Jim, and Christine –, and soon crossed the academy standing in front of Phil and Alison’s house in faculty housing district.

 

The lights were bright, and from the gentle murmurs he can hear, there are lots of people inside already. Phil answered quickly as they chimed, and greeted them warmly.

 

“Leonard, I’m glad you could make it,” his eyes were twinkling, making Leonard to suppress a laugh remembering Chris’ groupie comment.

 

“Thank you for inviting me, Phil. Lovely lady here is Nyota. Nyota, Dr. Boyce.” He answered politely, smiling as well. Nyota gave a graceful nod.

 

“I heard a lot of good things about you, cadet Uhura. I love meeting talented individuals. I hope you have a good time tonight.”

 

So Phil knows about her. Maybe because she was one of the most promising cadet, or Chris told him about her attraction toward Spock. He couldn’t tell from Phil’s looks, so he planned to ask Chris later.

 

“I heard only good things about you as well, doctor. Thank you.” Nyota answered with a flattered smile, and they were ushered in after that.

 

Party was already in a full swing and there were more people in the house than he thought, and more higher ups than he expected.

 

It wasn’t hard to find Chris though, and Chris soon noticed them as well. Chris was wearing well tailored suit, looking absolutely amazing and commanding. He was with some people who looks like his crew, as there was Spock among them. He subtly tilted his head to their direction to Nyota, and her face lit up. He smiled and escorted her through the room.

 

When they were near, Chris turned toward them to greet them, smiling. Just then, his gaze flickered to the side just for a second, and his expression smoothed out as he tilted his head respectfully. “Dr. McCoy, cadet Uhura.”

 

He saw Nyota’s brow inching up slightly through his peripheral vision, but he played along with a stride. “Captain Pike. Glad to see a familiar face on the party. I wasn’t sure I would know anyone here.”

 

Chris nodded politely and opened his mouth, probably to inquire about Nyota, but a voice interrupted before he could.

 

“Captain Pike, I wanted to have a word with you before I go,” Admiral Komak said, and he noticed Leonard. “Dr. McCoy. I forgot Dr. Boyce is your adviser.” He nodded neutrally.

 

“Sir.” He nodded back with feigned respect. “Yes, Dr. Boyce kindly invited me to spend New Year’s eve with him.”

 

Admiral Komak inclined his head for acknowledgement and took Chris to somewhere silent and private for a talk.

 

Remaining crew dispersed after Chris is gone, but Spock stood still, obviously to greet Nyota.

 

“Cadet Uhura,” He started with a perfectly controlled voice, but quickly interrupted by Nyota.

 

“Nyota, please. I prefer not to be reminded that I am a meager cadet in the room full of officers tonight.” He almost whistled, impressed by her, but restrained himself knowing the consequence will be dire.

 

Spock visibly paused for a contemplation, but conceded with a tilt. “Nyota, then.” She couldn’t contain delighted smile at this. “I did not know you were invited to the party. Did you have prior associations with Dr. Boyce?”

 

“No, I came with Leonard. Spock, this is Dr. McCoy. Leonard, this is commander Spock.” That introduction finally made Spock to fully turn toward Leonard, and he idly wonders if it means something.

 

“Commander.” He was slightly regretting coming to the party due to all the politeness he has to muster. It’s been only 10 minutes, my god.

 

“Doctor McCoy, pleasure to meet you.” Spock said stiffly, not conveying pleasure at all. He had to wonder if it’s because of Nyota coming with him or having to say emotional greeting due to earth’s custom. “Captain Pike’s compliments toward your achievements and your previous works on neurology suggested highly competent individual. I wish to discuss about the works you reported on the neural grafting surgery, if you do not mind, doctor.”

 

He seems genuine enough about the latter, but minuscule emphasis on Chris’ name was telling. Nyota was not wasting her time, then. He grinned and gave him what he wants by saying Chris’ name with fondness.

 

“I would love to, if you’ll tell me about the things Chris said about me. I need that leverages to use those on him. But not tonight, I would rather enjoy tonight’s party. We can set an appointment for later tomorrow. Comm. me or send me a mail, please.”

 

As Spock nodded, he quickly grabbed a chance to leave the two alone before Spock says anything more. “Sorry for my manner, but I need a drink. Can I bring anything for you two as well?” He carefully evaded calling Nyota’s name and as soon as both gave negative answer, he got out of there.

 

He poured himself a nice bourbon, and swept his eyes around the room. There actually are some medical personals he recognizes, but he is not feeling sociable – as usual – so he opted to find some quite corner.

 

He was nursing his drink silently, enjoying peaceful moments and being nobody among many, when Chris found him.

 

“Len, you can’t just stand here looking pretty, which you really are today, when you came all the way to join the party.” He joined Leonard on leaning on the wall contrary to his words though.

 

“I came for a free booze. And Phil’s nice invitation and Alison’s – mostly – playful threat. You know I don’t like socializing that much.” That earned him a snort.

 

“That’s an understatement of the year.”

 

They just stood there silently watching the party and sipping the drink, enjoying the calmness and contentment.

 

Chris finally broke the silence after a few minutes. “I’m surprised nobody approached you, though.”

 

He arched a brow. “Why? Is there a specific reason?”

 

Chris turned to look at him with an expression saying ‘duh’. “Of course, you are going be the most wanted CMO in the future.” He paused and added more as an afterthought. “Or most wanted surgeon or research personnel. I expected Captains trying to make an impression and the like."

 

He felt flattered – he can’t help it even though he knew he was good at what he does – but thankful that nobody approached him whatever the reason behind it. He definitely would’ve regretted tremendously if he had to play nice for the whole night.

 

He didn’t say anything, but Chris must’ve read him, so he just chuckled and changed the subject. “You brought cadet Uhura instead of Jim?”

 

“He said he’ll be late due to the prior engagement. We’ll see if he makes it or not. And Nyota, well, she asked if she could come.” He’s pretty sure Nyota is right about Chris knowing, but he didn’t want to say it first just in case.

 

“Ah yes, that explains why you left those two alone.” And by the amusement in Chris’ voice, he definitely knows.

 

“I ran as soon as I can,” he shrugged. They lapsed into comfortable silence again.

 

This time, it was him who broke the silence. “It's been a hell of a year.”

 

“It has been… eventful.” Chris said nodding with agreement. He snorted. “Not that eventful as mine, I’m guessin’. I divorced, tried drowning myself in booze, contemplated going under, and all of a sudden I’m enlisted in Starfleet.”

 

Chris chuckled hearing it. “Well, surely not as eventful as yours, but last year and this year’s recruits are definitely interesting. And your presence itself was quite eventful to me, I’ll let you know.”

 

He threw a side glance to gauge the exact depth of that statement covers, and hummed in return seeing Chris meant their whole friendship as well and not just the presence of superhuman.

 

“Do you regret joining?” That was unexpected, though.

 

He arched his brow, but Chris seemed genuinely interested in the answer, so he answered with a dramatic sigh. “Sadly, I don't. You know I joined as a last resort. I was going to go under – he looked straightly into Chris’ eyes to let him know what that exactly means. But I got myself friends, a job, research projects, and some kind of purpose, which is much more than I expected when signing up. Building myself a life in such a short span of time.” He felt more alive than most of his lives before. That does not mean all is good, though. “It will be a fucking disaster when Leonard dies, because of it.” He added bitterly.

 

Chris held his forearm firmly at that. “Len. I will not say I understand what you’ve been through and what you will be going through in the future. But you let yourself have this and live in it. You decided you want to live then just existing. I can only fathom the devastation you would feel, but let’s focus on now, even though that sounds so cliché.” He said gently looking into Leonard’s eyes, and he can only nod at him.

 

It was true. He decided he would live rather than exist, signing those papers. He doesn’t feel any confidence or optimism on the possible prospect, but he is enjoying his time at the academy. Thanks to Chris and the parasite who are fucking winking at them at the distance.

 

He narrowed his eyes at suddenly there Jim, who winked with a sly grin at him and turned to go bother Nyota.

 

Chris must’ve sensed the abrupt change of mood, and caught Jim’s retreating back. “So Jim is here.” He said leadingly, knowing that alone won’t change his mood so drastically.

 

“Yes, and he was winking obnoxiously at me seeing us together.” He was still glaring at Jim, who might not survive tonight considering the metaphorical dagger Nyota is shooting at him.

 

Chris laughed at the whole situation and let Leonard’s forearm go. He offered to refill their drink, and when he got back with their drinks shortly chatting with a few on his way back, he was all serious.

 

He handed Leonard his drink and started in a serious tone, surreptitiously looking around and standing a bit closer. “I couldn’t find any definitive evidence on the attack. From what you told me and gathered statements from eyewitnesses, it appeared to be a spontaneous attack fueled by Jim’s presence and lots of alcohol.”

 

“But?” He became serious as well realizing what this is about. If it was just an adventitious event, they don’t need to worry that much. But there was a but hidden in Chris’ word.

 

But, as I said, there’s no definitive evidence. There was no surveillance footage clear enough for positive identification, no crucial eyewitness, no meaningful traces with the evidences you collected what you can during treatment, and no evidences left on the scene.” Chris said in a grave tone, knowing exactly what it implies. Those are nearly impossible with highly advanced technology and surveillances around academy.

 

“That’s too much of a coincidence and I don’t exactly believe in coincidence from the start. Carefully planned? Organized group effort?”

 

“Both, I think. There are several groups which are against Federation, Starfleet, or Starfleet operating far away from earth. I haven’t heard of any group specifically against George Kirk, but it’s possible. Or any of those groups could be using George Kirk as a political statement.”

 

Which means Chris is quite sure it is group’s work, but couldn’t get more than that. They must be really resourceful or really careful if Chris cannot get more than that, even though Chris must have been careful not to ruffle any unnecessary feathers.

 

“Shit.”

 

“Yeah. And you know there will be a memorial service on 4th. It’s not 20th anniversary, but it is a service that will have Kirk among us. I don’t think they will pass up on that.” Chris’ face was grim, and he was sure his face would be as well.

 

“Great. There’s no way arrangements will be changed with unknown threat.” Chris nodded his agreement. “What can you do?”

 

“I can argue that this is the first time Kirk is among the cadets in memorial service. It could dredge up some buried feelings, so let’s be extra cautious about it. That will give me an extra swipe looking for any explosives or such just before the service, and increased security details assigned for the place.” Even saying those, Chris’ face is saying he himself is not convinced that will be enough. He thinks so as well.

 

“There’s no way there could be security details assigned to Jim, is there?” He already knew the answer, but he had to ask.

 

“No. And even if I somehow convince the brass for a security detail, there’s no way Jim will accept it.”

 

That’s true as well. That leaves only one option.

 

“I will be with him the whole time. He will likely to let me for one day, unless the day makes him to refuse everyone.” He sincerely hopes Jim does not. He will be the biggest and most unexpected obstacle the group will face.

 

“I think that’s the best we can do for now. I will let you know if I find out anything more, but it’s only a few days away. I’m afraid we’ll have to improvise.” Chris sounded as solemn as he feels, so he just nodded.

 

And of course that is when the infant decided to save his hide before skinned alive by Nyota and approached them. He knew Jim was coming, he was acutely aware of everyone around them considering the topic, so he nudged Chris to notice Jim as well and managed his expression into neutral.

 

Jim sauntered towards them wearing a wide smirk, which made him extremely wary, and he heard Chris groaning, which was explained by Phil materializing next to Chris.

 

“Bones! Captain Pike! I was trying to pull you guys back to the party, but you seemed preoccupied.” Jim was snickering through the whole greeting, the infant.

 

“Now, Jim, they could spend time together as much as they want, and we should let them as a good friend,” Phil said in completely straight face, but his words were dripping snickers as well. When did Phil even meet Jim and start calling him Jim? Infants, all. That’s what it is. Chris was burying his face on his hand. “Even though they adamantly insist they are just friends.” Chris groaned.

 

“I know, right?” Jim lit up like a kid in the candy store. “I don’t know anything about relationship, but when I thought I finally saw an example, they deny it. Maybe they just named the whole thing as ‘just friends.’” He was the one who groaned this time. He wanted to throttle the infant to make him stop talking.

 

Chris and he consciously avoided meeting their eyes, knowing those infants will immediately go on and on about it. They did without it anyway, though. God, there are two of them.

 

“Maybe they did. Because if this whole thing is conventional just friends, then Chris and I had not been friends this whole time, sadly.” Phil looked anything but sad, and Chris seemed he wanted to throttle his probably-former-friend as well.

 

“Jim, don’t you dare agree with that. I spend far more time with you, eat far more time with you, and go out far more time with you than with Chris.” He interrupted what would obviously be a gleeful agreement from Jim. That made Jim pause for a moment. “And don’t you dare say quality over quantity thing, if you were thinking about it. I was not using you to pass time or something.” He was being desperate, he knew, but that made Jim shut up for a moment, so he doesn’t regret it.

 

But that didn’t stop Phil. “Well, maybe that is the problem? You are not investing enough time for Chris as much as you want to? Or as much as Chris wants you to?” Jim was all joking and teasing, but Phil sounds like he actually has vast interest in getting them together. He was trying to act as a matchmaker. Right here, who anyone can eavesdrop, and right now, during New Year’s Eve party.

 

He stared at Phil with his eyes widened with incredulity. He swung his head to ask Chris if this is really happening without words, and his miserable expression told him it actually is.

 

“Are we really having this conversation again, Phil? After me repeatedly assuring you there is nothing going on between us?” Chris muttered miserably, obviously went through this many times and embarrassed to do this again in front of possible onlookers.

 

“Yes, because you are obviously lying. I could practically cut the sexual tension between the two of you if I had a knife.” Phil said matter-of-factly, and Jim turned to a spectator, extremely enjoying the show from the look on his face.

 

“Yes, we are sexually attracted to each other. That does not mean we will sleep together, or start dating. I know for a fact Jim is sexually attracted to both of us, but you are not accusing Jim as well, are you?” Leonard tried. He didn’t bother denying the attracted part, they know it shows and they didn’t exactly try to hide it. But that’s different than relationship.

 

Jim’s eyes widened a bit at the mention, but didn’t deny it or interrupt the fascinating show.

 

“You kind of are dating. I know you guys comm. regularly, schedule to go city once a month, have a dinner or a drink in between.” He and Chris both sputtered at the accusation, but Phil went on without giving them a chance to argue. “Relationship, well, cadet status can be a bit of a hindrance, but you are old enough. You are attracted to each other, that’s what starts relationship, doesn’t it?“ Phil paused a little but both were too stunned to say anything at the opportunity. “Maybe it’s sex?” Phil furrowed his brow in a familiar way, making Leonard aware that Phil actually is curious about the reason and wants to solve the question. He saw it too many times during their discussion on their research project.

 

“…What?” Leonard asked faintly, not sure he wants to hear the answer.

 

“You are sexually attracted to each other but afraid reality won’t be good enough? No, I know Chris, he won’t hesitate because of the possibility of disappointment, and I heard that you were fantastic in bed.” He really wanted to get out of here. Right fucking now. “So maybe you exclusively bottom or top? That’s the only reason I can think of Chris hesitating.” Phil finished with the same tone he always uses when he lists hypothesis.

 

Silence stretched for a few seconds between them after the question, and Leonard burst out with laughter at the bizarre situation he is in. Chris soon followed.

 

“Are you seriously asking my preference on sexual intercourse? Do I like fucking or being fucked?” He asked, still chuckling a bit.

 

Phil actually looked a bit sheepish now that he is out of his scholarly mindset. “Well, that’s a bit too much, I admit. But I want to hear a serious answer regarding the reason, if you don’t mind. I know it’s no one’s business except two of you, but after past months, I can’t understand why you aren’t dating. Think of me as overprotective and nosy friend.”

 

“You don’t have to suggest that, Phil. I already think that way.” Chris muttered darkly.

 

Phil just shrugged at Chris’ words, obviously waiting for an answer.

 

“I vaguely feel like I’m receiving the most bizarre kind of shovel talk even before wanting  to be in a relationship. But if you promise you won’t ask again, I will answer it. And that includes you as well, Jim. Not a word after this whether you can accept the answer or not.” He shot a warning glance, and Jim conceded after feigning innocent expression for a second. Phil nodded as well.

 

“Well, I can’t say for Chris, but you know I don’t do casual or friend with benefit thing if you heard fantastic thing.” He grumbled with the last, and shrugged. “Yes, I am sexually attracted to him and it can be a reason to start a relationship, but it’s not enough of a reason to risk friendship. I need more than just sexual attraction to risk a friendship for a relationship.”

 

Chris nodded agreeing his reason. “Similar. Don’t look at me like that, Phil. I am not saying I don’t do casual. But you also know I don’t do friends with benefit. I had fuck buddy, but we were just regular sleep partners, not friends. I am sexually attracted to Len, yes, but I won’t risk our friendship due to the sexual attraction. I understand you are asking because you are seeing more than that between us, but I don’t know what can I tell you more than that.”

 

Jim nodded, accepting their words for the first time, maybe because it’s the first time he actually explained. With Phil looking contemplative, it was obvious Chris never gave him more than they were ‘just friends’ as well.

 

“Have you ever thought you are not seeing it because you two are too close to see the whole picture? Gossip is just that, gossip, without considering circumstances or your reactions, but if me and Jim, who are one of the closest friends with you, think there might be more, maybe there is?”

 

He and Chris opened his mouth to say something – what, he doesn’t know – but Phil stopped them before saying anything. “As I agreed, I will not ask you more. You two are the ones who knows what’s going on and what you are feeling. I said the last bit because if you haven’t thought about that possibility, I wanted you to think about it and preferably talk about it together. If I were wrong, I’m sorry for intruding, but if there actually is something and you were just turning blind eyes, I don’t want the possibility to be wasted.”

 

With that speech, he swiftly left to talk with other people as a host. Jim shot them a sly but mostly genuine smile and went somewhere as well. Probably to find someone to kiss as countdown is nearing.

 

That left him and Chris, who were baffled at what just happened.

 

After a moment of awkward glance toward each other, they burst out with laughter again. That drew some attention, but neither minded as they were busy laughing at what just happened.

 

They were heaving and leaning against the wall, wiping the tears that welled up on their eyes during the laugh. “You sure have a meddling friend, Chris.”

 

Chris was still clutching his midsection and leaning into the wall. “Yes he is, but I am seriously reconsidering the friend part right now.”

 

He agreed with a chuckle. Then he sobered a bit. “Do we have to talk about it?”

 

Chris gave a helpless shrug. “Whether we decide to talk about it or not, there is no way I won’t be contemplating about what Phil said.” He answered honestly.

 

That made him answer without hiding things as well. “Yeah, me too. There’s no way I can just forget about it. But Chris, whatever you contemplate, you should think about my recently divorced status and my perks as well.”

 

He was not sure if he should add the latter part or not, feeling like he is jumping to the conclusion, but those are important things.

 

“That consideration will come after whether I actually want the relationship or not,” Leonard winced as that’s why he hesitated to add it. “But I know there is no way I will not pursue it if I decided I want the relationship, so I will keep that in mind. And you should also keep in mind that those will not affect my thoughts or action.”

 

Leonard was skeptical even though Chris sounded sincere, but let it go for now because it is premature to consider those things at the moment.

 

“There is one thing that will have a severe influence, though.” That got him curious, but judging from Chris’ grin, he was sure it’s nothing serious. He just arched a brow as an answer. “Do you exclusively top or bottom? That is a serious detail I need to consider.”

 

Chris’ eyes were holding mischievous glint and a dare, making Leonard want to try wipe that smug glint out of his face.

 

He lowered his voice an octave, leaning into Chris’ personal space. Their faces were only few inches away. “I like both, but I only bottom with one night stands. It’s a bit hard to explain why my muscle won’t stay loose to long term partners.” He drawled lazily, and heard Chris’ breath stutter.

 

It was obvious Chris prepared himself of Leonard’s attempt, but the image was more than what he could handle to hide his reaction. “You mean…?” Chris asked in a strangled voice.

 

“Yep, one of my… positive perks, should I say? It won’t stay loose no matter how much preparation I try.” His voice was still dripping with filthy promises, and he knew his grin was feral. Chris’ breath hitched as his eyes dilated.

 

Countdown started.

 

They just watched each other from the small distance, him looking at Chris’ dilated eyes and watching his feral grin through them.

 

Countdown went on, but Chris was standing stock still, not giving any indication he heard the loud countdown going on in the room.

 

3! He stepped closer,

 

2! Leaning in a bit more without breaking eye contact,

 

1! Happy New Year! Planting a kiss on the back of his hand, which he placed over Chris’ lips at the last moment.

 

He watched Chris’ eyes widen a bit, kissing him for a moment with his hand in between their lips, and stepped back with a grin.

 

“We already have too much sexual tension going on between us. Let’s not tempt the fate, shall we?”

 

Chris seemed to regain rational part of his mind and thumped his head back to the wall. “Fucking tease.” He said with a groan and Leonard chuckled.

 

“Happy New Year, Chris.” He said with a smirk, enjoying Chris’ frustration.

 

“Happy New Year, Len.” Chris answered sullenly, which only made Leonard to laugh more.

 

 

Chapter Text

Underline : over the comm.

 

 

The day before memorial service, he lured Jim to his room with the promise of infinite booze and let Jim get smashed to make the kid sleep on his couch.

 

Jim wasn’t fooled at all, but he let Leonard maneuver them into his room for drinks and let him say happy birthday on the midnight. Jim was unnaturally silence throughout whole time, but Leonard was thankful he let him keep an eye on him. He doesn’t know what exactly is going on in the kid’s head but he knows a thing or two about losing something and someone. He is more than happy to let Jim drown his sorrow into the glass as long as he is somewhere safe.

 

In the morning, he woke Jim up with a hypospray to the neck, telling him to get ready for the service. Jim grumbled incoherently, but obediently got into the shower.

 

He was waiting in the kitchen with small breakfast when Jim finally emerged.

 

“Your uniform is on the couch. Hurry up so we can grab a bite before we go.” He said grumpily as usual, and Jim shot him a look of irritation, cautiousness, gratitude, and some more.

 

“Bossy.” Jim muttered, but it was something John can hear and not Leonard, so he didn’t react to it.

 

Jim was still silent and dejected as he came to sit in front of him.

 

He was not sure whether he should be worried about unusual behavior or be thankful Jim is not trying to hide things in front of him. Considering the day, he decided on the latter.

 

They ate silently. Leonard didn’t say anything about Jim pushing the food around, very unlike Jim considering his usual tendency to clear the plate unnaturally clean.

 

As they stepped out of the room to go to the service, Leonard’s PADD chimed with a message.

Chris : [[ We found several carefully placed bombs hidden so well that we almost missed them. ]]

 

[[ Were they intended to take out whole crowd? Just Specific few? Or targeted structural damage? Did you retrieve all of them? ]]

 

Chris : [[ Placement indicates they targeted the whole crowd. As much damage they can inflict with the limited bombs. We removed the ones we found, but they are really advanced. We’re not sure there’s more or not. They’re reviewing if they can found more patterns from the placement to see if there are remaining bombs. But Len, the ones we found wouldn’t have been found if our scanner wasn’t updated recently. ]]

 

[[ Shit. I have a bad feeling about this, Chris. I don’t like the fact that there could be more, and the fact that the bombs we found were detected with timely developed scanner. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Yeah, I know. We couldn’t rearrange the service, it will cause more chaos and Starfleet will look bad. There’s no way brass will allow that. There will be heavy security details, at least. ]]

 

[[ We’re on our way. If something happens in between, let me know. ]]

 

He turned off the PADD, knowing Chris is busy dealing with the bombs and brass.

 

“What kind of threat they found?” Jim asked silently, watching him.

 

He pursed his lip not sure he should tell the current situation or not. Jim sensed it. “Bones.”

 

He saw mixture of emotions dancing in Jim’s eyes, but he could identify determination. He knows he would’ve wanted to know everything, if it were him. And Jim must know for some extent already. He’s genius, after all.

 

“They found several highly advanced bombs during the search.” He answered grimly.

 

“What kind of bomb? Photon? Chemical explosive? Biological?” Jim didn’t show any reaction at the news.

 

“I’m not sure. I just heard they targeted whole student body and brass, not just you.” Jim nodded at the answer and they increased their pace a bit.

 

“Will there be security details assigned to me?” Jim asked after few silent minutes.

 

“I don’t think so. Chris suggested, but brass disagreed. He knew you won’t like it, so he didn’t push. And not even now, because the bombs were placed to target the whole.”

 

“I’m surprised Pike didn’t try to put someone from security track to tail me, though.”

 

Leonard shrugged at this, because he could see Chris doing that if Leonard wasn’t much better candidate for it. But it’s not like he can tell the honest reason, so. “Would you have let him?”

 

That earned him a small snort and twitch of lips. “You’re right. I wouldn’t have.”

 

“So I am tailing you for today. And don’t” He blocked whatever opposition Jim was trying to make. “you dare try talking me out of it or try to lose me. I know it can be dangerous, but it’s not definitive and there’s just no way I’m letting you wander off alone in possible danger, kid.” He let Jim see that he was dead serious about it. He does not know more than what news and Jim’s medical history tells him, but he doesn’t need the degree in psychology to see commitment and abandonment issue from the kid.

 

Jim looked like he wanted to object, but Leonard’s glare shut him up. He eventually huffed and mumbled fine. Leonard didn’t exactly feel assured by it, and he was going to keep an eye on Jim constantly today. Even to the bathroom.

 

They get to the service just before it starts, and there were a lot of eyes on them as they find their seat. Kelvin was one of the biggest tragedy happened after Starfleet, and every personal on academy as well as cadets must attend it. And unfortunately, that means a lot of stares directed at Jim.

 

Jim held his head high and didn’t show any emotion through whole memorial service.

 

People gradually looked at the front, but when George Kirk was first mentioned, those eyes were on Jim again. Jim’s only indication was slight flinch, and Leonard was sure he was the only one who noticed.

 

Jim’s passive mask aside, his muscles were strung tight with tension. Leonard momentarily wonders if Jim thought about what joining Starfleet entails, and if he regrets joining. But he let that thought go, now is not the time to dwell on other thoughts.

 

He was using his enhanced senses without compartmentalization today. He could hear every crinkle of clothes, every inhalation and exhalation, and every drag of foot near him. He must’ve had some problems if he didn’t get used to using it in full again at the gym’s simulation room.

 

He was tense during whole service, surreptitiously looking around constantly, and processing the auditory information. He met Nyota’s eyes one time, and Nyota must’ve sensed his uneasiness considering concerned gaze she is sending. He didn’t have time to explain or assure her, so he just shook his head slightly, and she nodded back.

 

Despite all the tension, security details, and scanners flying around – which made him exceptionally tense –, nothing happened during the service. That only made him more suspicious, though. He is naturally paranoid, yes, but even considering those, his gut feeling is blaring the alarm.

 

Jim tried to disappear as soon as the service ends, which he can’t fault considering all the stares, but he needed to talk to Chris. Jim should, as well.

 

He grabbed Jim by his arm. “Jim, let’s go talk to Chris.”

 

“I don’t have anything to talk about.” Jim answered testily, snatching his arm out of his grip.

 

He let go of Jim’s arm easily, but blocked him before stomping away. “Jim, I still don’t like the possibility of the threat, and Chris is worried about you as well. He would want to see you safe.”

 

“I really don’t want to draw more attention by approaching faculties, Bones. Or make people think I’m receiving special treatment.” Jim answered stiffly.

 

And that’s fair, so he compromised. “Okay. I understand. At least comm. him when we are at my room?”

 

“Fine. But I will stop by my room to get my clothes and PADDs.” Jim rounded him to get out of here before finishing his sentence.

 

He really wanted to object them going to Jim’s dorm, but he can see it won’t be of use, so he left short message to Chris and followed silently keeping track of everything around them.

 

[[ We are going to Jim’s dorm to pick something up. He insisted. Then we’ll go to my room. Will comm. you there. ]]

 

It was uneventful as well going to Jim’s dorm except the stares Jim receives, but as soon as they entered the dorm building, Leonard felt something off.

 

They went to Jim’s floor cautiously, Leonard’s eyes sweeping everything in the hallway.

 

There were several cadets on the hallway, and Leonard watched as two of them bumped to each other slightly and their whole demeanor changed hostile. He recognizes one of them from shared class. Just identification, but he knows he does not have short temper.

 

He suddenly realized what made him feeling off. All cadets he saw in the building looked ready to snap. He hastily pulled out tricorder from his med bag to scan them or the atmosphere, but froze as the casing of tricorder cracked a little.

 

He stared at the cracked tricorder for a second, not believing his eyes, then snapped to action.

 

He ran toward the nearest red alert button and pushed it, while acutely aware his control over his speed and strength is slipping. Jim jerked at his sudden movement and started to say something with astonished expression, but blare of alarm took his words away.

 

The two who were about to engage in fist fight stopped, and everyone in the building ran out of the rooms to start evacuating. They were highly trained in this kind of thing, after all.

 

He stalked over to Jim and said urgently, careful not to hold or touch Jim at all. “There’s something in the air and I’m guessin’ biochemical attack. I will check if it’s originated from your room with the tricorder and get the hell out of it.” Jim started to protest, but he ignored it. “You check every floor and make sure no one’s left behind. This thing lowers inhibition. You might snap at things, but it’s the drug, so try stay calm and help them evacuate.” He said in a rush.

 

Jim nodded with a scowl, not liking the least Leonard checking possible source of the attack, but accepting that there might be someone who needs help.

 

“And you should keep in mind that there’s high possibility you are the target. You use shit alarm during the checking, you hear me Jim?” He stressed to Jim, not ignoring this could be a smokescreen as well to make Jim wondering alone.

 

Jim agreed easily, knowing there’s no time to argue, and activated small device in his hand that will send the designated messages and blare alarms as soon as pressure changes. It has official name, but everyone calls it shit alarm because it’s usually used in this kind of situation, someone walking into the possible danger and alerting when shit happens.

 

As soon as he checked the activation, Jim ran off to check the upper floors, and Leonard barged in to the Jim’s room activating tricorder and calling Starfleet Medical with his authorization code.

 

“Starflee-“

 

“This is doctor McCoy, authorization code alpha-zeta-one-two-omega-theta-zero-Sam. There’s red alert on Yellowbrick barrack. Substances lowering one’s inhibitions in the air. Possible subjects showed signs of premature and excessive anger.” His tricorder beeped. “Possible origination, room 416, cadet Jim Kirk’s dorm room. Send emergency medical personals and security officers to contain angered subjects. McCoy out.”

 

He didn’t wait for the answer and contacted Chris. He answered almost immediately.

 

“Len, there’s red alert on Jim’s dorm, what happened-,”

 

“Chris, there’s some substances in the air that’s lowering people’s inhibition. Possible origination, Jim’s room. Readings suggest here’s the highest concentration. I pressed red alert, and Jim’s checking every floor to see if there’s someone not evacuating. He has shit alarm.”

 

“Why is he checking the floors alone-,” He cut Chris’ alarmed words again, feeling desperate.

 

“I notified the Medical as well. They will send emergency crew, and I said bring security personal as well in case angered cadets starts trying to harm someone.”

 

“Len. Talk to me. Why did you let Jim go alone?” There’s steel in Chris’ voice, showing his Captain side. It would’ve been hot if the situation was different.

 

“Chris. It lowers inhibition. I almost broke tricorder and alarm. The dosed subjects were about to go into fist fight because they bumped into each other in the hallway. I don’t trust myself around people right now.” He choked out a chuckle.

 

“Shit. Shouldn’t your metabolism filter those out? Wait, you said here. Are you in Jim’s room? Where the concentration is highest?”

 

“I had to check possible origination and here was the most likely candidate. Yes, my metabolism should prevent me from getting affected for this long, but it is. I called to let you know the situation. McCoy ou-,“

 

“Stop. STOP. Leonard, you are going to the Medical, right?” Chris asked with a hint of uneasiness as he expects the opposite answer.

 

“Chris. I don’t trust myself now. My control is slipping. I know somewhere that can hold me even if I lose my mind entirely.” That was the first thing he made sure after coming to San Francisco.

 

“Len, you know that can’t be explained in anyway in this situation. You could even be considered as one of the assailant.” There was a desperate edge on Chris’ tone, which he appreciates, but he does not have a choice.

 

“Would you rather shuttle me off in the space to make sure I can’t harm anyone? Chris, I will rather kill myself than become a possible threat.” He said with a harsh laugh.

 

“You don’t seem to losing any rational mind.” Chris argued.

 

“You don’t know what will happen for sure. Maybe my metabolism is just slowing things down. And I am not touching my PADD at all in case I will break it.” He shot back.

 

“Leonard, I know you feel cornered, but listen to me. You don’t seem to change in anyway over the comm. Your control over your strength may be slipping, but that could be because you are in close contact with the direct source of the substance. The amount you are ingesting is more than your fast metabolism can erase all the effects. I will send you a hovercar. Get out of there, sit in it for 15 minutes, and when your control does not come back after that, go where you intended to go, but if the substances are fully flushed out of your system, go to the Medical. I can buy you a 15 minutes. Deal?”

 

He slowly exhaled the breath through his nose. 15 minutes. He can do that. Probably. “Okay.”

 

“I sent the hovercar as we talk. It should be down the back entrance as you go down. 15 minutes, Len. You promised. Whatever the result is, call me after 15 minutes. Pike out.”

 

He carefully picked the PADD up and went down to the back entrance. Thankfully there was no security or medical arrived at the back door yet, so he slipped out and got into the hovercar Chris sent.

 

He squeezed his eyes shut. Breathe in, and breathe out. This reminds him of strength tests he did with Sam 2 centuries ago. He firmly pushed down the familiar ache, ignored sensory overloads from outside, and breathed in, and out.

 

He lost track of time passed, but answered the comm. when it chimed.

 

“McCoy.”

 

“Len. It’s been 20 minutes. Everything okay?” There’s a worry deeply imbedded in Chris’ voice.

 

“No, everything is not okay,” He laughed bitterly, but he noticed the PADD didn’t crack at his usual use of strength. “But yes, it seems my metabolism could flush out the substances now that I am not in close contact with them. I’ll go to Medical, even though I am not sure how I can explain the disappearance. Is Jim okay?”

 

“Jim’s in the medical. You were the most exposed subject that lowers inhibition. You panicked, worrying you might hurt someone, and hid for some time before some substances got out of your system to make you think clearly.”

 

He snorted. “Well, thank you for sticking to the truth. How considerate of you to keep in mind that I am not a good actor.” Chris chuckled with what sounds like a relief. “But Chris, they must want to test me. They won’t try to see the DNA when it’s clear it was just a chemical substance, but there won’t be a trace left in me when I’m the most exposed subject.”

 

“I got update from the Medical. It seems the substance has short effect on people. They said the level is slowly receding itself. Yes, your nonexistence trace will be suspicious, but just say the trace made you extra paranoid of things, want to be in the isolation unit for the time being. I will message you unimportant thing when you can be substance free without any suspicion.”

 

Extra? Gee, thank you for such a glaring compliment, Chris. I don’t know how should I feel about my excuse. You suggesting them must mean they will buy it. Which means they think I am paranoid bastard even without the influences of drugs.” He rolled his eyes.

 

“Don’t worry, Len. Your speech about every exciting way to die at the shuttle made sure of that. Everyone knows you are a paranoid bastard already and sticking around even knowing that.” Chris answered cheerfully. “But seriously, they won’t question more during the chaos like this when it’s evident lack of treatment won’t be dire. You know this better than me. If they seem suspicious at it even though they let you go, let me know. But you have to go to the Medical right now.”

 

He knows that. He sighed. “Yeah. See you later, Chris. McCoy out.”

 

Time to face the party.

 

 

Chapter Text

When Leonard arrived at the Medical, it was less chaotic than he thought. As he looked around the emergency room, he noticed there’s less cadets than he expected. Most occupants must’ve been wandering out after the service, thank god.

 

He increased his pace to reach isolation unit before getting noticed by someone, thinking that.

 

It should have been impossible no matter the circumstances, but due to skeleton crew on memorial day and occupied staffs, he successfully reached the unit in the corner of the emergency room and started punching in his authorization code, just before someone finally noticed him.

 

“Bones!”

 

He rolled his eyes. Of course, Jim would be the one who notices him. He finished punching in the code and swiftly strode inside, locking the door behind him using the code as well.

 

Jim couldn’t get to him before door closes, due to the two nurses trying to make him stop. Jim didn’t pay any attention to them.

 

“Bones! Where were you? Are you okay? You weren’t at the Medical even though you are one of the most exposed ones, and Pike only said you were paranoid and agitated so he let you cool down a little somewhere else. And what’s with the isolation unit?” Jim spat out those words through observation window.

 

Leonard paused at the depth of frustrated anger he can hear in Jim’s words. He watched Jim’s expression and two nurses running tricorder on him. Of course, Jim was in the building for a prolonged time.

 

He arranged his expression to calm confidence, the one he uses as a doctor. “Jim, I’m okay. Yes, I was paranoid and agitated due to the influence of the drug. I still am, actually. I was going to find somewhere isolated so that no one can find me, but Captain Pike persuaded me to take some time to calm down nearby. I did, just enough to make me come to the Medical, but not enough to let me around people. I have the tricorder, I know this thing is flushing out naturally, so I will wait here before I am sure every substance is out of me, or at least until I am not paranoid enough.”

 

Jim opened his mouth to say something, but he was shoved aside before he can.

 

He heard Jim’s indignant ‘Hey!’, but the one who shoved him out of the window, Chapel, ignored him. “Doctor McCoy.” She looked stern, the expression she uses when she is faced with especially difficult patient.

 

“Nurse Chapel.” He answered neutrally. They were on good acquaintance terms and has mutual respect going on, much like him and Nyota before Phil’s party, but this is different. She is looking at him like he’s being difficult, which he kind of is in the other’s eyes, but he does not want to get examined.

 

“Are you really going to be like this? I can declare you unfit for duty as a head nurse in this shift, and that will make your authorization code invalid. I can get this door open.” She said challengingly.

 

“You could, but I am refusing medical examination from the others for now. You saw the others. The substance doesn’t affect intellectual capacity, and it degrades naturally without side effects that we know of now. And yes, I know me being this paranoid is due to the influence, but I have my tricorder and I am scanning me constantly. I will let you know if there are any symptoms other than lowered inhibition.” He answered with his doctor voice again, and that seems to do the trick as Chapel pulsed her lips but didn’t immediately object him.

 

“You know that scanning you constantly might keep other patients from danger, as whatever symptoms will most likely start showing on you first.” She added after a few seconds.

 

“I know and that’s why I am scanning myself constantly. I’m here because I don’t want to share it to other medical personnel, but I promise I will as soon as any abnormality is detected.”

 

She accepted that answer and nodded firmly at him once before going somewhere to tend others. Jim appeared again.

 

“Bones, stop with that doctor crap. Tell me honestly, are you okay?” Jim’s gaze was piercing, even though he knew he must be under the influence still.

 

He sighed warily, showing his scowl, because he knows this will convince Jim more. “I hate what happened, Jim. I don’t like being on a hair trigger mode, and I fucking hate I could’ve hurt someone. But physically? I am fine. There’s no other effects than lowered inhibition, and that is receding slowly as time goes.” He spat out with feeling, because what he said to Chris was true. He will rather kill himself than become a threat, promise with Sam be damned.

 

Jim does look more convinced with this as predicted. “You sound like you are not prone to anger or frustration when you are normal, Bones.” He said with a slight teasing smile. He scowled more.

 

Jim seemed like he wanted to say more, but got interrupted again. There was a finger tapping his shoulder, and when Jim turned around irritated, he paused seeing whom.

 

Chris’ face filled the observation window. “Doctor McCoy.” He nodded at Leonard.

 

He nodded back. “Captain Pike.” He could see Jim’s frustrated look on the corner, but he stayed silent again, thankfully.

 

“I heard you arrived at the Medical. I’m glad your induced paranoia and agitation has decreased enough for you to be here. Could you brief me now, if you don’t mind?”

 

“As long as I can do it in here, I don’t mind.” Chris nodded at this, meaning he still cannot get out with no trace of substances in his system.

 

He recounted what happened and the reason for his behavior, mostly for show, and Chris recorded it.

 

“There will be an official briefing after you are declared free of influence, doctor.” Chris said after he is finished.

 

“Can you tell me about current situation?” He wanted to ask Chapel, but she was gone before he could ask that.

 

“Thanks to your quick thinking and action, doctor, there were not many influenced. There were small numbers in the building from the start as well. 34 cadets including you are reported influenced, and most of them just showed mild anger and frustration. Unfortunately, two were involved in rather severe fight between them, they are in surgery now, and one assaulted the uninfluenced cadet passing by. She is in another isolation unit, and he got patched up.” Chris said in a businesslike manner.

 

No information on the assailants or distribution container that could be in Jim’s room. He subtly held his PADD up, and Chris nodded slightly at it. Good, he will let him know if he has enough time to type the message. He knows Chris coming here itself alone would have been a stretch.

 

“Thanks for coming down to check on us when you must be busy with emergency meetings, Captain. Let me know if I have to give any more statements today.” He quirked his lips slightly showing the gratitude, and Chris’ eyes crinkled a bit showing the slight hint of smile as well.

 

Chris was gone after that and Jim was being herded to his biobed by frustrated nurses, so he finally sat down on the biobed inside the isolation unit.

 

Him being clean after Jim will be safe, he knows as a doctor, so he opted to read medical journal during the wait. Hopefully Chris set him free or Jim declared clean before long.

 

 

Chapter Text

It was the day before Leonard’s birthday, the day Chris finally could make some time for a drink after the attack, and Leonard was crossing the academy to get to Chris’ office when someone called him from behind.

 

It was Nyota. He waited for her to catch up, and arched his brow.

 

“Hello, Leonard.” She said with a smile when she regained steady breath.

 

“Hello, Nyota.” His brow was still arched, because he can’t think of a reason she would be looking for him. And there’s the fact that comm. exists for a reason.

 

“Don’t be so skeptical, Leonard. I wanted to tell you something, and I saw you passing by before I sent the message.” She said with a laugh. “Or maybe you should. It’s not exactly happy news for you.” She winced, and he felt dread starting from the bottom of his stomach.

 

“Do I want to know?” He asked warily.

 

“I know you won’t like it, but I think you would like to know. I really am thankful you helped me on New Year’s Eve, Leonard. This is not me paying in exchange, that’s too businesslike, but it is a thank you.” She tapped something on her PADD as she talks, and his PADD chimed with a message.

 

He really does not want to know what’s in it. As he slowly pulled out his PADD, still not looking at it, Nyota sent apologetic and encouraging smile. Yeah, that only made him more wary.

 

There was a link to specific application. Which apparently couldn’t be downloaded without the link.

 

He clicked it.

 

He really was on the verge of losing control of his strength and break the PADD when message chimed.

 

Jim : [[ Bones! You know you promised one outrageous thing I can do as long as it’s not anyone getting hurt? I am not getting hurt, Bones. Or anyone. And this is not me asking more question. So no coming to kill me. ]]

 

Of course. The genius bastard would’ve set up to send him a notification if Leonard finds out. The bastard. And as that bastard said, he can’t be mad at him per agreement.

 

He wanted to throttle himself giving that promise, but he knew Jim was truly worried and furious about him being gone without any message after the attack. He would give same promise again if the same thing happens, even seeing this monstrosity in front of him. But that does not mean he has to like it.

 

He was looking at the PADD with the glare that would’ve surely fried it with a few second more when Nyota softly coughed.

 

“I thought you would want to know.” She said delicately.

 

He glared at the main screen of the application, showing the pictures of him and Chris with obnoxious heart between them and the betting rate below it. He could see subdivided bets going on the other tabs, and whole design and application were high quality. Of course, it’s James T. Kirk’s doing. Everything would be perfect, including anonymity.

 

“Yes, I do want to know if this kind of thing is going on, and thank you for letting me know.” He said what he wanted to be calm but in stiff voice. And burst out as he couldn’t contain his frustration longer. “My God. What kind of nosy and have-too-many-time-on-their-hands bastards even bet on these things? Gossiping is one thing, but betting?? And there are already over two hundred people betting on this thing! On whether me and Chris dating or not! Don’t they have anything better to do? And how in hell did they get the photo of me in the suit? I only wore them once here!” He was waiving his PADD wildly at the end.

 

Nyota heard them patiently, most likely because she anticipated this kind of reaction, and wore apologetic smile once again. “Captain Pike’s love life had been one of the favorite gossip among the academy before you came along. He’s hot. And when you came, well…” Her smile was wicked here, and he does not want to ask what she’s thinking. “And as for the photo, I think some took the photo of you waiting outside of my dorm room. As well as Kirk hacking surveillance to get some.”

 

He spluttered. “What do you mean by pleural? There are more photos?!”

 

“Well, Leonard, you are a good looking man with Gaila ascertaining your…” She coughed. “I know it is a violation of your privacy, but there are some cadets circulating your photos.” She shrugged apologetically. She is doing that a lot for last few minutes.

 

He stared at her blankly with mouth opened for a moment and snapped his mouth shut when he noticed him doing it. He does not like getting his features recorded somewhere. He knows it’s impossible to prevent it entirely at this highly advanced era, but he would like to minimize the records if he can help it.

 

He firmly squashed the anger, Nyota is not the one he is angry of. “Thank you for letting me know of those, Nyota. And please, me bringing you to the party was nothing. I am glad you are making progress, and I hope you can win him over his logic. I have to go now, thanks again.” He nodded at her calmly, and started heading to Chris’ office again. He can’t go be mad at Jim, so he would just try to drown himself in bourbon.

 

 

~*~

 

 

Chris greeted him with a tired but warm smile, but it fell as soon as seeing his expression.

 

“You’re angry.” He said with a question.

 

“I’m always angry on some level.” He huffed sitting down on the now familiar chair. He had tried to school his expression before coming in, dammit.

 

“No, you are always grumpy on some level. You are angry, or at least highly frustrated today.” Chris said as he sat down in front of him with the booze.

 

He silently gestured the glass and downed it in one go as soon as Chris handed it to him. He handed the glass back to Chris for a refill and showed the application to Chris.

 

Chris’ brow arched in surprise seeing it, and picked it up to examine it further. “Main bet, will we be together. Sub bets, how will we get together, when will we be found out, when will we announce our relationship, …” his brow arched some more. “And extra reward for someone who provides irrefutable evidence of us being together.” He put down the PADD and picked his glass up as meeting Leonard’s stare. “Well, I have to hand it to Jim. He did a good job coding and designing that application, and made the bet exciting and rewarding.” He mused calmly.

 

Leonard stared at him unbelievingly. “That’s it? That’s how you’ll react?”

 

Chris merely arched a brow. “You know Jim. There’s no way academy can track that down and shut it, or found out who’s been betting on it. And I’ve been the subject of a lot of gossips and bets regarding my love life to be particularly bothered by it. This is the first time who developed the whole application for it, though.”

 

He spluttered second time today.

 

“Come on, Len. Exploration in the space includes a lot of boring periods. Gossips and bets are sure thing going on among the crew.” Chris shrugged and paused, sending unreadable look. “Unless, you are bothered by the gossip itself? With you and me mentioned together? Would you rather start putting the distance so that the gossip slows down?”

 

He sighed at that. “You know that’s not what bothers me, Chris. I don’t mind that I am being mentioned with you. Hell, I don’t care if it were Jim or others I am mentioned with. They can think whatever they want. I don’t like being mentioned at all, and leaving more traces of this life, Chris.”

 

Chris pulsed his lips a little. “I know this is not something you want to hear, Leonard, but I think you are already too well-known to start any new life right after this one ends. I think you also know you would need a few decades of anonymous life or need to be out of the earth for next life after this.”

 

And yes, he doesn’t want to think about it, but he knows that intellectually. He never started new life on different planets, he just visited a few, but he had the feeling he had to next time. He became a better doctor than he expected, and he can’t be mediocre when he can do more as he once said to Chris.

 

He nodded his acknowledgement with a sigh, and changed the subject. “So, you officially handed off the case to the Federation?”

 

Chris merely nodded at the abrupt subject change. “Yes. Me and the others searched everything White confessed, but every lead was dead end. Brass decided we should hand it to the Federation as it was obvious one of the organization against Federation is involved.”

 

He nodded. White, the researcher in weapons and scanners laboratory, confessed three days after the attack. One of the influenced cadets ended with three month of rehabilitation and White’s conscience was eating him. He lost his older brother during Kelvin, and blamed George Kirk for the death. Crazy, yeah, but he thinks if George Kirk acted faster, his brother would’ve lived. He used bombs for a diversion, and placed the drug on Jim’s room, thinking everyone will see the real Kirk with it, by someone’s suggestion of course. With the investigation, it was evident he was just a mean for the end of someone against Federation. They just used White to target Jim. Chris was the head of the investigation, and brass tossed the case to the Federation as soon as it was evident it’s their mass.

 

“I hope Federation can pinpoint the responsible group and do something about it.” He sincerely hopes so, because there could be a chance they will target Jim again, if they don’t.

 

“Me as well, but they were too careful at everything, Len. They blew the opportunity to keep them hidden, rather than try to do more damage. It will take some time.” Chris looked grim, and he nodded solemnly as well.

 

They sipped their drinks in silence for a few minutes, and this time, Chris changed the subject. “Are you going to kill the one you so fondly call parasite?” He asked with amusement.

 

“No.” He put as much regret he can in those short answer. “You know I promised not reacting to one outrageous act of his. He used that.” He said sullenly, as Chris howled in laughter as predicted.

 

Chris was not fazed at all at his fierce scowl, he had never been, and wiped the tears out of his eyes. “I really do have to hand it to that kid. He is a troublemaker for sure, but he is the genius I anticipated. I don’t regret recruiting him, but I think I have to thank you for that, because I’m sure he will be much more of a problem without you, Len.”

 

He was starting to grumble about suicidal idiots and crazy little shits with his usual scowl, but stopped at the slight something at Chris’ words. He narrowed his eyes. “What do you mean?”

 

Chris tilted his head slightly with neutral expression. “Are you involved with Jim?”

 

He was sure he would have choked if he had been drinking bourbon. As he wasn’t, he calmly put down his glass and looked at Chris with incredulity. “Where the hell did that come from?”

 

“Just a curiosity, Len.” Chris shrugged casually but Leonard doesn’t believe it for a second.

 

“No, I am not involved with or having sex with Jim. He’s too young, for god’s sake.” His jaw kept trying to hit the floor, but he somehow prevented that from happening.

 

“Two decades aren’t that big difference to you, Len.” Chris was still feigning casual, and he groaned.

 

“If we are talking about this, Chris, then we should do it properly. Not with the excuse of Jim or others.” Leonard said seriously. They didn’t talk about it after the party, mostly because of the attack and induced frenzy, but they both know they consciously didn’t mention it. But he couldn’t help but contemplate about what Phil said, as expected. He actually was going to bring it up today, so he was glad Chris did.

 

Chris paused at this, and after slight hesitation, nodded with confidence Leonard doesn’t think he is feeling.

 

“First of all, if I am being brutally honest, yes you are much younger than me, but you know I didn’t age after this.” He gestured himself. “My appearance stays same, and you looking older than me somehow gives me an illusion. I firmly draw the line on age 30. And even if Jim’s over 30, I expect exclusivity from my partners, Chris. That’s not something Jim could or would give, at least for now. Finally, he reminds me too much of my, …sister, to think any those kind of things.”

 

Samantha and Jim have same colors, and even though they have very different personality, he can’t help but be reminded of Sam with Jim’s genius mind, curiosity, innocence, pranks, and such. Chris winced at the sister comment, and that finally seemed to make him understand there’s no way something will be between Jim and him.

 

“So, now that’s out of the picture… what should we talk about?” He is suddenly less sure about this. He never had this kind of talk before relationship. Talks about exclusive relationship, yes, but never about whether they will try a relationship or not.

 

Chris looked awkward as well, but asked after some silence. “Were we dating for past months, Len?” And that is the question he asked himself multiple times after the party.

 

“I’m… I’m not sure. I don’t think so.” He answered hesitantly. “But maybe?” He said with a shrug, and felt relieved at Chris’ nod of agreement. “Do you want to?” He added with more hesitance.

 

“I’m not sure,” Chris answered softly. “And it's not because of the exclusivity. I actually prefer that. But I never started a relationship with a friend before. All long-term relationship started from the start.” This time it was him who nodded because that was the case for him as well.

 

Chris continued after a long swallow. “I would’ve started hitting on you, yes, if I didn’t know your perks and if you didn’t enlist. And when I’m okay and indifferent of the perks, we already had budding friendship and you are a cadet. I’m not saying I don’t want to try it, because we both know we are sexually attracted to each other, but I’m not sure it’s something I want to risk our friendship over.”

 

Well, shit. Chris had given Phil’s words some thought as well, it seems. And reached different conclusion than him from the sound.

 

“Well, in my case, risking friendship is one of the concerns, yes, but if I am being 100% honest, that’s not that big of a reason to me, Chris.” He continued with his eyes fixed on his drink. “It may sound cold to you, but I am used to losing people. I will be devastated and depressed, but I can live after losing a friend. I try not to have what ifs or regrets than worry about later. Well, I do constantly worry about them, but as you said before, I choose to live than existing, Chris.”

 

He looked at Chris, knowing he has to meet his eyes for the next words. “I do think we weren’t dating past few months. But I think I will want to in the future. And since I realized that, I know I will be constantly checking myself if I crossed the line or not. I will be second guessing my motive behind my actions.”

 

“That sounds like you will put some distance between in the future.” Chris said with a calculating gaze.

 

He shrugged a bit helplessly. He didn’t exactly mean that, but it was somewhat true. “Not indefinitely. A month or two, I think. I am a monogamous romanticist from the heart, as you can probably guess. I do take fidelity very seriously. And thanks to Phil, I noticed this before I can’t get interested in others.”

 

“Don’t you think I will choose trying relationship if I will lose our friendship anyway by not choosing relationship?” Chris’ posture didn’t betray any tension, but deliberately lose posture hints the Chris’ dislike of the way their conversation is heading.

 

He narrowed his eyes at Chris at that. “Are we? Going to lose our friendship because we don’t talk or hang out for a month or two? I know you experienced radio silence longer than that in the black, Chris.”

 

Chris opened and closed his mouth a few times, and slumped slightly with a sigh. “Yeah, I know. I’m not saying those time will make me less friendly to you.” Chris paused with the pretense of refilling his glass. “I don’t exactly like thinking you with others.” He muttered when he can’t delay it any longer.

 

Leonard’s brow met his hairline. “Are you jealous?” He asked incredulously. He didn’t peg Chris for a jealous type. Or getting jealous when he didn’t want to try relationship.

 

Chris immediately protested. “No! Well, not exactly. I’m not jealous, per se. But I probably will get what ifs seeing you with others. Wipe that smug smirk off your face, McCoy. I’ll let you know I’m not the jealous type.” Chris scowled at his involuntary snickers.

 

“You were the one who didn’t want to try, Chris. Excuse me if I find it funny that you are the one who are bothered by other prospects.” He snickered some more, and got serious. “You can’t start a relationship because you are jealous, or bothered,” he rolled his eyes a bit at the glare, “by me being with the others. Especially with my perks to consider before starting a relationship.”

 

“I’m not saying I want to try it because of me having second guesses,” Chris shot him another glare, “by you being with others. It’s about whether I will not regret it in the future, as you said it yourself. I admit I only contemplated about our past encounters and friendship. I didn’t have enough time to think about more than that. Outside of us.” Chris admitted the last bit defensively. “But I thought about your perks, as you made sure, and your perks do not influence my decision, as I said before.” He said in firm voice, believing what he is saying.

 

Leonard arched a brow at this. “Oh but it is. I never had a relationship with someone who knows about my perks,” He nodded at Chris’ slight astonishment. “and there will be things we need to consider. Me not aging, for one. I usually die before long, before my partners get suspicious, Chris. That won’t work for you. Will we set the date and say goodbye to each other on that date? Will you be okay being alone after that, knowing I am alive somewhere? Won’t you try to find me if I disappear after death? Will you feel self-conscious about getting old alone and getting wrinkles?’

 

‘And I can show you and tell you everything about me without hiding things. I can get to be me in front of someone for the first time after my sister died. How do you think I will react after your death? I almost killed myself after my sister died, Chris. If I get attached to you more than enough, if I fall in love with you, do you think I can stand by seeing you get hurt? Which inevitably will happen with you being the Captain? If you are dying in front of me, don’t you think I might even try making you like me?” He listed challengingly.

 

He sagged a little after that, swallowing the mouthful, and said more softly. “I know I am thinking way ahead. I do every time, as you would know from my rant on the shuttle.” He attempted a week chuckle. “But I can’t help but look out for myself, Chris. I never told my partners who I am. I used my hidden truths as an excuse to prevent me getting attached to them irrevocably, and to disappear after some time with them.”

 

He thought about past relationships for a minute, and looked straight into Chris’ eyes. “I did start relationships with less than this, and I do prefer to see how it goes rather than regret later, but I need to know you thought about my perks. Thoroughly.”

 

Chris was silent for a long time, enough for him to refill his glass second time, when he finally said something. “I admit I didn’t think about all of that. Which I am feeling ashamed, as so called tactical genius. It is my job to think ahead of everything.” He quirked his lips slightly. “But to be brutally honest, I didn’t think about it that thoroughly because I was more inclined to not try the relationship.”

 

“You mean before you got jealous.” He can’t help but quip with a smirk. Chris ignored him.

 

“And because I didn’t know your perks can be reproduced without risk of planets.” Leonard winced at this. “But I thought about you not aging, Len. I think I will feel self-conscious if I am way over 60, and you still look like that. I assumed by then, Leonard has to die or something. I would have to decide disappearing with you or saying goodbye. But that decision is quite in the future, with the supposition of us being together till then. That’s why I said your perks didn’t influence my decision.”

 

At his slightly widened eyes, Chris scowled playfully. “I told you I thought about it.”

 

They were both in thoughts before Chris cleared his throat. He looked up. “So, is your perks reproducible? Without risks?”

 

Yeah, that. He winced again and thought for a second to answer carefully. “Yes and no. This is an… infection. If someone with certain DNA sequences get infected, they get mutated into a monster. And I actually mean the monster part in physical sense as well. Those mutated kill and eat those who won’t get mutated, and infect who will get mutated. They know instinctively. Monsters are highly enhanced compared to humans, and mutation starts under an hour. Unless they are perfectly contained, the whole planet won’t survive.”

 

Chris looked like he realized where this is going. “Among those who don’t mutate, some can get enhanced without mutation. They will get enhanced in every physical aspect and heal near instantly, and won’t get ill. Not aging was an unexpected side effect, though.” He finished with a casual shrug.

 

“And that’s you.” Chris stated the obvious.

 

“Yep.”

 

“Well, no wonder at least several planets will be in danger. Scientists or people with money wouldn’t accept they could be the one who mutates.” Chris said with a slightly disgusted snort, which he agrees wholeheartedly. “So why would you be tempted to turn me?” Chris shot him a piercing gaze.

 

He snorted. “I am tempted every time when I can save someone by turning, Chris. And saying turning makes me feel like a vampire in one of those horrible romance novels.” Chris chuckled at this. “And I know you are a genius. You already realized I can tell someone will mutate or not instinctively. You won’t.”

 

Chris looked pleasantly surprised. “Well, I guess I’m glad about that?”

 

“Maybe you should. My sister theorized that specific DNA sequences that make some mutate is related to one’s violent nature. Which I agree on some level, after seeing Vulcans, but I firmly believe in nurture, so.” He shrugged uncomfortably. “But even if you won’t mutate, that does not mean you will get enhanced. My sister tried, but it didn’t work on her.” He knew his sadness is showing, but he can’t help it. He misses her. They didn’t know not being enhanced was an option, so it was hard for both of them.

 

Chris reached across the table to squeeze his forearm in silent support. He watched that strong hand in slightly blurred eyes for a few minutes, and looked up after a deep breath. Chris removed his hand.

 

“I know you won’t mutate, but I cannot tell if you’ll get enhanced or not. But I know I will be tempted to try it if we start relationship and see you dying in front of me.” He said in a collected voice.

 

“I understand you are telling me that because I have to think about it. But much like deciding going with you after Leonard’s death, I think it will be more than half a decade before I have to decide.” Leonard opened his mouth to object, but Chris stopped him. “But, since I know it’s important to you, I will think about it thoroughly.” Chris arched his brow, asking ‘are you satisfied?’

 

He huffed, and nodded a thank you.

 

“So today’s conclusion is we will try it, because we both don’t want to live with what ifs, if I think about your perks thoroughly?” Chris summarized it and he still felt awkward discussing things like this.

 

“Yes, and I think that’s all I can do touchy-feely things today. I have to restrain myself from wanting to kill Jim, so let’s drink this with unimportant topics.” He gestured still mostly full bourbon with his glass. Chris readily agreed.

 

“Oh, and Len, I know it probably isn’t your actual birthday, but happy birthday.”

 

“I’ll tell you the real one after you think about things thoroughly. But thank you, Chris.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Three weeks after the talk with Chris and start of spring semester, Leonard was studying in his room. He did test out several classes, but CMO track Phil somehow persuaded him into require far more general credits then normal medical officer. And with his plan to attend every medical classes about xenobiology, research project with Phil, and his shifts at the Medical, his schedule is as full as Jim.

 

Tuesday is the only day he can have peaceful afternoon, so he was using that time to catch up on assignments and study as usual. Naturally, that is when Jim barges in.

 

“Bones!” The kid was bouncing and wearing an expression he always does when he wants to drag Leonard out to somewhere.

 

“No, Jim.” He said barely looking up from the neural system of Orion female he was studying.

 

“I didn’t say anything yet, Bones.”

 

He could hear the feigned hurt and underlying smug confidence in it. He also knows Jim must be widening his baby blue to him. He always does.

 

Leonard, as well as Jim, knows he usually give in at the end after loud protests, but that does not mean he will make it easy for Jim.

 

He just arched his brow, still not looking up. He heard Jim coming closer.

 

“Come on, Bones. Don’t be like that. I know you are busy, and I know you have to study. But weather’s too nice to just sit in the room, Bones! Let’s study outside!” Jim proclaimed with enthusiasm.

 

He finally looked up to send Jim an incredulous glare. “Nice? Weather is nice in San Francisco on February?”

 

Jim shrugged. “It’s windy and cold, but the sky is blue, Bones. It’s nice. And I know you can stand cold better than you let on, Georgia boy. Let’s study outside!” Jim was shooting him an overgrown and overexcited puppy eyes.

 

He squinted his eyes suspiciously at Jim – no matter what academy gossip thinks, they are not joined at the hip – trying to figure out why he wants to drag him out when he can go alone.

 

Jim just smiled innocently at his suspicious glare, and Leonard knows he needs too much effort to pull out the real reason from Jim when he’s like that. He will find out soon enough, anyway.

 

He grumbled some more, but started to pack his study materials. Jim beamed at him and ushered him out of Leonard’s room as soon as he packed all of the PADDs.

 

And when they reached the café near bay area, he understood why he is needed and rolled his eyes. There were Nyota, Gaila, and Christine in the corner.

 

“Ladies! What a happy coincidence.” Nobody believed that. “We came to study as well, can we join?” Jim didn’t wait for the answer and put his bag down on empty seat. He then disappeared to order his coffee, leaving Leonard to deal with annoyed – except Gaila – ladies.

 

He sighed at Jim’s antic and properly greeted them. “Nyota, Gaila, Christine. Sorry for that infant. Can we join you for study, if you don’t mind? And I assure you, that infant actually studies when he promises he will.”

 

Nyota and Christine looked skeptical, but due to his presence, they didn’t immediately kick them out. Which is why Jim brought him. He rolled his eyes as putting his stuff down next to Jim.

 

Gaila was different story, though. She actually liked Jim and studied with him before, if he remembers right. So she was the one who greeted cheerfully and assured the other two cheerfully. “It’s been a while seeing you outside of the academy, Leonard! And don’t worry Ny, Chris. Jim does study silently when he says so, as Leonard promised.” She was her usual sweet and bright self, and Leonard can’t help but smile at her briefly.

 

That’s when Jim came back with two cups of coffee. Well, he can let this stunt go if Jim is buying him a coffee. Caffeine does not affect him – NEGATIVE perk – but he still craves coffee as much as any other doctors. And from the smell of it, the kid even brought his preferred brand of coffee. He tilted his head as a thank you and started pulling out his PADDs.

 

Nyota and Christine kept sending Jim suspicious glances, but after half an hour and not a word from Jim, they started to relax and concentrated on their study.

 

They were mostly silent except for short discussions among Jim and Gaila, him and Christine, and Jim and Nyota, during next two hours, when Jim’s PADD chimed.

 

Leonard wouldn’t have paid any attention, if he didn’t see Jim’s big snicker and mischievous look sent to his direction in his peripheral vision. Jim’s snicker drew the attention of others as well, because they were in need of distraction after long concentration.

 

Leonard felt the dread pulling in his stomach similar to the time when he found out about that outrageous application for the first time. And seeing Jim’s expression now, he does have a reason to be wary, and he really does not want to ask.

 

Regardless of his eagerness, Jim was going to say it. There’s no way he wouldn’t.

 

“Are you sure you and Pike are not in a relationship, Bones?” Jim said with a barely contained glee, and that definitely got the undivided attention from the occupants on the table.

 

“I am sure. I would know, won’t I?” He asked back with his usual scowl and annoyance, but Jim looked too gleeful still, like he knows something Leonard doesn’t.

 

He’s not sure what. He asked Chris to contact him first after thorough contemplation, and Chris didn’t contact him for last three weeks. He doesn't know whether Chris changed his mind or not, and whatever the answer is, they are not in a relationship now as far as he knows.

 

“But Bones, Pike just betted on ‘Yes’ through the app. With quite large sum of credits, I might add.” Three identical smirks spread on the ladies’ faces as soon as Jim’s word is over, and he thumped his forehead on the table.

 

He does not know what the fuck Chris is thinking. He was sure before, but he is more than sure now that all the command tracks are batshit crazy.

 

“I don’t know why he bet on ‘Yes’, Jim. We are not in a relationship.” He moaned miserably. He is the one who wants to know will they be in a relationship or not.

 

“Hmm.” Jim sounded contemplative, and he knows about Jim enough to know that is not a good sign. He lifted his head from the table to stop Jim, but he was too late. “Prove it.”

 

“…What?” He noticed the amusement clearly written on ladies’ faces.

 

Jim shrugged. “Prove that you are not in a relationship with Pike. It could be a put-up job from you guys.” Ladies agreed vigorously, even though it was obvious they couldn’t care less about the betting. Their eyes are twinkling watching the drama in front of them. “Come on, Bones, ladies agreed as well!”

 

“How could I even prove that I am not in a relationship? You obviously are not believing me saying we are not.” He asked astonished. He can’t understand why he should prove that to others at all.

 

“Well, I know you are not one to lie about that kind of things,” Right. Because Jim is doing so good job at believing him. He rolled his eyes. “but call Pike and let us know why he bet on ‘Yes’ when you are not involved? I think we have a right to know.”

 

He doesn’t think so. But he got interrupted before he can object that nonsense.

 

“Well, Leonard, if Captain Pike knew the answer and betted on the winning side, he should be excluded from the bet as a general rule of betting, don’t you agree? I agree Jim should know the reason behind Captain’s bet to decide that.” Nyota added sweetly.

 

Jim beamed at them and Leonard turned toward them slowly, making them wear their best innocent smiles. He narrowed his eyes. “Maybe I should let Jim know of the reason and no one else.”

 

Nyota’s smile turned more innocently. “Won’t you need neutral referees for the decision? Both of you might be more inclined to your own interest unconsciously.” He saw Christine and Gaila patting on Nyota’s lap proudly under the table.

 

He closed his eyes to scrape all the patience inside him, and tapped his PADD to call Chris.

 

He too is curious, he knows Jim or the ladies won’t relent, and there’s no way he could last till the end with that combined force.

 

Chris answered before long. “Pike.”

 

“Chris.” He said with a sigh. The spectator’s eyes could have made with glitter. He usually tries not to call Chris by Chris in front of others, but that’s the least of his concern right now.

 

“Len?” Chris sounded slightly confused for a moment, because he did not contact Chris for three weeks as per his own request, then he laughed out loud. “I guess you were with Jim or he found you as soon as he can?”

 

“Hello, Captain Pike.” Jim quipped cheerfully.

 

“Yes, we were studying together.” He admitted sullenly.

 

“Don’t be like that, Len. It’s a nice day considering the fact that it’s February and San Francisco. I’m sure Jim just wanted you to get out of the academy a bit more than you does.”

 

Of course Chris would notice he is not in his room or library. He must’ve picked up background noises. And he is disturbed by the similarity of Jim’s cover-up reason and Chris’. Command track really has a type.

 

“I would’ve believed that if he didn’t drag me to somewhere he would’ve been kicked out immediately without me.” He rolled his eyes at Jim seeing his mock protest, and ladies giggled. They must be really enjoying the show if Nyota was not rolling her eyes at Jim.

 

“Ah. Cadet Uhura’s there, then?” Chris sounded amused. Great. He is the only one who is suffering.

 

“Hello, Captain Pike.” Nyota greeted melodiously.

 

“Chris, you know why I called. Stop beating around the bush and tell us what the hell you were thinking about when we are not in a relationship.” He said impatiently. The others looked more affronted by his words than Chris ever would. He rolled his eyes.

 

“I’m assuming Jim insisted on the call to keep the integrity of the bet?” Chris still sounded amused, and that seemed to calm the spectators. He looked up at the sky briefly, asking God what he did to deserve this.

 

“Yes, genius. I know you already calculated the possibility before placing that bet and knew as soon as I called you. The reason, Chris.”

 

“Thank you for such a sweet word, dear.” Spectators’ eyes sparkled, he groaned, and Chris chuckled. “Sorry, sorry. Yes, we are not together, and that is true Jim. And Ladies. I would not have bet on ‘Yes’ if it was already true. That’s wrong. But I also noticed the bet is due departure of enterprise.” Jim agreed. “That is more than 2 years. There’s plenty of time for me to try swaying the odds to my favor. And that is cue for me to get back to work. Pike out.” Chris finished cheekily and cut off the connection right after dropping that bomb.

 

There was a second of complete silence, and Jim and ladies squealed. He thumped his forehead on the table again. Forcefully.

 

They took more than 10 minutes to calm down, and he studiously ignored them with his head resting on the table. Maybe they would let him be a statue here if he ignores them constantly.

 

They didn’t.

 

He felt Jim putting his hand on his shoulder, so he just rolled his eyes to look at him. Jim was trying with all he got to keep from laughing out again. His quivering lips, eyes and facial muscles showed his effort. Leonard is not thankful at all.

 

“I believe you and Pike not being in a relationship, Bones. He did not cheat to put on the bet.”

 

“I agree with Kirk, Leonard.” Nyota said as well, and ignored his grumbling of that being the first time. “You and Captain Pike are not involved." She paused for dramatic effect. "Yet.” And all four started howling in laughter again.

 

He just stayed where he was, forehead still on the table, and typed short message to Chris.

 

[[ You might not win your bet. ]]

 

Chris’ response was immediate, contrary to his claim of needing to get back to work. He just put down his PADD with a sigh after reading it, silently regretting drinking on the same bar for several weeks after divorce for Chris to find him that easily. He should’ve moved frequently all over the map to prevent Chris from finding him.

 

Chris : [[ I don’t think so ;) ]]

 

 

Chapter Text

Chris : [[ Thai? The one we went on our first gym date? ]]

 

[[ Sure. ]]

 

Chris : [[ I hear a but. ]]

 

[[ No but, I just was not sure about our monthly gym visit. ]]

 

Chris : [[ I would’ve made sure you could use it even if you tried to put some distance, Len. I know you need those times of letting go of your control. ]]

 

[[ I appreciate that, Chris. Thanks. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Maybe I can help you lose control in other ways, though. Will restraints for Vulcans be enough to hold you? ]]

 

[[ You are dying to find out, aren’t you? ]]

 

Chris : [[ Not exactly dying, no. But as a tactician, I did prepare a route to buy it anonymously. Naturally. ]]

 

[[ Naturally. I’m not sure I am inclined to answer that after your little stunt on Tuesday, though. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Oh, that. ]]

 

[[ Yes, that. It’s all over the academy and it was just two days ago. There are wicked smiles sent to my way everywhere I go! And there are patients requesting for me without any medical necessity during my shift, Chris. Whole academy wants to know when Doctor fantastic will give in to Captain stunning. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Stop scowling and moaning, Len. You might get a wrinkle against the odds. Well, no, don’t stop the moaning part. ]]

 

[[ Chris, I’m serious. There’s no need to protect me. As you said, I have impressive resume, and you never will be my instructor in the future. There won’t be questions about my qualification or competency without you making this look like you are chasing me. It will only make you look bad by chasing a cadet, Chris. ]]

 

Chris : [[ There’s no question about your capability even now, but you know jealous bastards will use anything they can, Len. And as for me, this actually is better than just announcing the relationship later. Me chasing you shows I am not using my status to take advantage of you. There of course will be talks, but there always is, no matter what. ]]

 

[[ So you’re saying other than your enemies, there’s no problem? Is brass okay with it? ]]

 

Chris : [[ I know for a fact that several admirals betted on ‘Yes’. Neutral ones are okay with it as well. There’s no regulation against us with you being medical cadet and being Lt. commander after graduation. Also, I think you forgot that the rumor of me propositioning to recruit you started from the brass. They adore you, moreso with your planned surgery on Orion ambassador’s daughter next month. Most don’t mind as long as this doesn’t’ make you drop out. They were amused at the prospect of me chasing someone. That’s first. ]]

 

[[ I should’ve made you chase me, then. ]]

 

Chris : [[ Too late. ]]

 

[[ Wipe that smug grin, Chris. Well, if there’s no problem, I am annoyed like hell with all the glances, but I’ll try not to le ]]

 

Chris : [[ Len? ]]

 

Chris : [[ Leonard? ]]

 

[[ I think you should come down to the Medical, Chris. Bring a security officer. ]]

 

 

~*~

 

 

Chris came with two security officers 10 minutes after the message. It was enough for him to confirm his suspicion.

 

Chris came to him right away, crossing the emergency room with a stride to stand in front of one of the isolation unit. He could see nurses and patients watching them with avid interest, but security officers gave enough vibe of official business.

 

“Doctor McCoy.” Chris and officers nodded at him. He nodded back with grim expression.

 

“Captain Pike, can I have a word?” Chris arched a brow slightly at this, but gestured toward security officers to back off a bit.

 

After he was sure security can’t hear him, he pointed the anxious kid through observation window and whispered just loud enough for Chris to hear. “The kid came back positive with the Ark.” Chris cursed right away and frowned, contemplating possible courses of action.

 

The ark is seemingly harmless drug that enhances user’s mental capacity extremely for a day. It does not give euphoria, but it is classified as highly controlled substance. The drug itself has low addictiveness, but that’s more dangerous in this case, because it gives false sense of control to the user to make them keep using the drug.

 

After using it regularly, it starts to fry small parts of brain, making them susceptible to anger and violence. It’s not pretty when the side effects show while confined in the small tin can, but if the command crew is the one who is using, it could be deadly to the crew or even Federation. Starfleet regulates the Ark very seriously because of it.

 

Most importantly, the Ark cannot be detected with usual examination or routine check-up. It only shows up in specifically designed blood test.

 

Leonard tested the kid with it and the result came back positive. The kid will be dishonorably discharged and prosecuted for sure, but the problem is whether there are more cadets using it or not.

 

“How long did he use, Len?” Chris whispered so that only John can hear, knowing this is extremely sensitive matter.

 

“I didn’t ask him, as I was not sure he would answer truthfully. And you know cadets are not tested regularly for the Ark, Chris. Only officers are tested once a year. But if you are asking me to guess, I would say at least a year if he used in usual pattern. And he is on it now.”

 

Also, the kid should’ve used it at least once a week for the level of degeneration his brain shows. As a captain, Chris knows about the Ark well to understand Leonard. It means the kid somehow kept smuggling the Ark and there’s a good chance there will be a dealer involved.

 

“How did you notice, Len?” Chris was not suspicious, more like asking with knowing the answer already. And his guess is right. “Perks.” He answered shortly due to the time sensitive matter, and Chris nodded.

 

“We need to test all the cadets as soon as possible.” Chris said decisively and he agreed. It won’t be easy, but he took necessary precautions in case Chris decide to take this route.

 

“I can make the kid look like he has highly contagious but latent disease. It will allow me to work on the blood. But all samples have to be taken within two days, Chris. There’s no way enhanced mind won’t notice the possibility and stop taking it as soon as they hear it. You know two days is a stretch.”

 

“Is there a suitable disease?” He rolled at Chris’ worried question.

 

“The one that is highly contagious, lethal but curable in early stages, and has long latent period? That shows similar symptoms with the Ark on early stages? Yeah, I know it could be hard to find, but thankfully I know the one that can be used if I induce small symptoms on the kid. The ruse won’t last more than four days, but you’ll have to do with that.”

 

If he excludes the kid’s brain scan, seemingly nonexistence symptom of the Ark will allow him to feign the one he needs now. But since he has to hide the brain scan and purposefully induce some symptoms, it has to be approved by Dean of medical or at least Phil.

 

Chris knew it as well, as he nodded slightly with understanding. “I’ll talk to Dean. I know she’ll approve, so start with the ones inside the Medical.”

 

Chris immediately pulled his comm. out to contact Dean with it, and he walked to nearby panel.

 

“Attention please.” He felt every eyes in the emergency room on him as his voice resonated through speakers. “This is Doctor McCoy. We have a confirmed case of Sanguis Impiis Egredietur in the building. Take blood samples from every occupant within the building and send it to the lab. There will be every personnel within the academy visiting for the test as well. Every unoccupied hands will be needed in the emergency room and the lab. You can discharge the patients after they provide the sample.”

 

As he finished his announcement, he saw every unoccupied nurses ran for the supply room. Since taking blood sample is sublated after the Eugenics war and World war III, hypos to take blood sample furnished in emergency room won’t be enough for the number to come.

 

Chris ended his call soon enough with grim expression, and nodded at Leonard to indicate Dean agreed on the procedure. Right then, his PADD chimed with emergency notification from the Dean to call every medical personnel to emergency room.

 

“Captain,” He walked up to Chris with calm confidence, knowing his attitude will influence every panicked patients and some nurses in the emergency room. “I will need you and officers’ blood sample as well. After providing sample, you are free to go. Officers, could you prevent the patient zero from coming out of the isolation room in case he tries to escape?” After getting the nods of agreement, he started drawing blood sample from them.

 

“If you are infected, it would have happened already and probably more than a week ago. The symptoms won’t show until 3 months after the infection, and there is a cure even if you are infected. Don’t cross the boundary of the academy just in case, but otherwise you are free to go and do whatever you do.” He made sure his voice got carried out into the suddenly hushed emergency room while taking blood from Chris.

 

Chris nodded with approval and thankfulness, and walked out of the Medical urgently. He has brass to inform and investigation to open. Again.

 

He nodded a thank you to the security officers now guarding the isolation room, and went to supervise the whole chaos in the emergency room. There will be superior medical officers arriving soon, but he is the highest ranking officer till then.

 

Thankfully, it seems like his speech got through on some level. He hopes it will last till the next two days. He groaned under the breath at the prospect of two days of chaos. And he has to stay in the emergency room the whole time, surreptitiously wondering around checking everyone to see if he can smell the Ark again.

 

He has a gut feeling that it is somehow connected to the group that attacked Jim. If it is, he sincerely hopes they can catch them this time.

 

 

Chapter Text

There was someone chiming on the door, and he went from sleeping to awake in a second. It was an ingrained habit developed during Reaper, and maintained during doctor.

 

He went to open the door wiping his face to remove remaining sleepiness trying to come back as his brain noticed that there is no emergency.

 

He came to a halt with his hand on the hair, seeing who is it outside the door.

 

“Len.” Chris nodded to him, and thankfully there was no one on the corridor. He was confused because he was expecting Jim – Jim was the only one who visits his room –, but stepped aside to let Chris in.

 

“Sorry for visiting without warning and after long shift at the Medical. I needed to ask you something.” Chris said seriously, so he indicated his couch to sit down taking Chris’ coat. This may be a long talk, even though he does not know what it is about.

 

“You want a drink?” He asked, but he was already reaching for a glass.

 

“Tempted, but I haven’t eaten anything after small sandwich in the morning. I would get buzzed too soon.” Chris’ unexpected decline made him pause, and he thought for a second.

 

“Is this official business? Do you have to go somewhere soon? Juice or tea, maybe?” He turned to look at now sitting Chris on the couch and tilted his head.

 

“Juice, please. Somewhat official, yes, but I don’t have any more meeting tonight. We will be gathering tomorrow morning.” Chris sounded tired, and he must be considering all the meetings he had to attend last two days.

 

“Let me whip something up. Pasta okay? Is this something we can’t talk over dinner?” He said as he handed Chris a cup of mixed fruit juice. Chris downed it gratefully.

 

“Pasta sounds great. Thanks. I came to ask you to talk with Jim. We need his statement on the attack. We need every lead we could use.” Chris leaned back on the couch and unfasten couple of buttons of his uniform to get comfortable.

 

“You came because you think he will talk better if I am present?” He did suspect Jim had to give his statement considering the events.

 

“I don’t want him to feel like he is getting interrogated when he is the victim here. I would like you to talk to him while I observe and record it. Preferably tonight or tomorrow?” Chris asked as a suggestion, but it was clear he needs Jim’s statement within this weekend. He would talk to Jim personally if Leonard declines.

 

He nodded knowing Chris is right. Starfleet needs to know what happened, and there’s good chance that Jim will prefer talking to him. He set up to chop onion and such, and tapped his PADD to call Jim while chopping.

 

Just as he finished tapping, Jim burst in. “Bones!”

 

He and Chris stared at Jim. Jim froze seeing Chris, the door swished shut behind Jim, and Jim’s comm. ringed just then.

 

Jim absentmindedly took the call. “Yes?” It echoed through Leonard’s PADD. Leonard tapped it to end the call, looking at Jim incredulously. Jim’s face turned sheepish as his brain finally caught on the situation. “Um, hi?”

 

“Jim, we talked about this,” he said in a frustrated voice. “No barging in after 10 p.m. or during weekend. Except it’s emergency or you are hurt.”

 

“But, Bones! It is kind of an emergency! I heard you finally left the Medical at one after 2 days of emergency, and you didn’t answer any of my messages till – Jim checked the PADD for time – 9!”

 

“Oh, right. So it didn’t even occur to you that not everyone is energized bunny like you and need some sleep after two days?” He asked sarcastically.

 

Jim’s face turned more sheepish for a second before it became sly. “Weeell… I can obviously see you were, so I’ll come back later? Or tomorrow?” Then he promptly turned to get out. Leonard sighed. He is decent due to his habit of sleeping in something covers him fully – he does not want to show how well he is built when he does not workout everyday – but anyone can see he was sleeping. And Chris was sitting at his couch with a few unbuttoned uniform, which Leonard himself didn’t see often when Chris is in uniform. He can’t fault Jim for reaching that conclusion.

 

He stopped Jim before he got out. “Jim, before you forget, I actually called you when you decided me not replying to the message for 8 hours is an emergency. Come in, you idiot.”

 

Jim came in again, sitting on the kitchen stool with questioning look.

 

“Chris asked me to talk to you about the attack last year.” He said bluntly, starting to chop the ingredients. He felt Jim stiffen slightly, but didn’t acknowledge it. He knows Jim. If he figured out the need of Jim’s statement, Jim must have as well. “He needs your statement within this weekend, but he didn’t want you to feel like being interrogated. You could talk to me about what happened, and Chris will observe and record it, if you prefer. If you don’t want to let me know, you could talk to Chris directly.”

 

Jim stayed silent for a minute, Chris observed silently for the whole time, and he prepared dinner waiting for Jim’s answer.

 

“So this was some kind of attack as well?” Jim finally asked and Chris answered it, thankfully. He does not know how much he was allowed to tell.

 

“Yes. It was the Ark.” He heard Jim’s sharp intake. Jim knows the implication as well. “8 users were tested positive until now, and 5 of them were from command track and other 3 was promising cadets from other fields.” Chris’ tone was grim.

 

They were all whom he smelled the Ark on and surreptitiously got their blood tested first. He couldn’t smell everyone without being suspicious, so there might be more in the future. It will take two or three days more to get all the tests done.

 

Jim finally agreed to talk when pasta was almost done.

 

“Good. We can talk over the dinner, then.” He balanced three plates easily and walked over to the couch. Jim followed.

 

“How did you know I didn’t eat dinner? I sometimes think Bones has some kind of super power, Captain Pike. Or more realistically, part Betazoid.” Jim stage-whispered to Chris, and Leonard rolled his eyes seeing Chris’ suppressed amusement. He placed the plates on the table and sat down next to Chris.

 

“Shit, you weren’t kidding when you said you are a decent cook, Len. This is delicious.”

 

He shrugged, but smiled slightly at the compliment. “It must be your hunger talking, but thanks.” Jim coughed delicately. “I feel like a third wheel here.”

 

“It is our monthly city date night, so.” Chris said with a grin. He ignored it.

 

“It has been several months, but I know your memory is exceptional, Jim. Tell me what happened that night?” That wiped out the smiles on command track’s faces. He felt slight guilt, but he prefers it to be out of the way as soon as possible.

 

Jim started telling his part after eating a mouthful. It was more or less what he and Chris gathered. However, it became sure it was intentional attack, more likely than not from the same group. Jim’s explanation was methodical and detailed, so he only asked one or two things and Chris seemed satisfied with it.

 

The explanation ended at the same time they finished their plates.

 

“Thanks for explaining, son. I know you didn’t want to talk about it, and I’m sorry for forcing you.” Chris said gently and sincerely. Jim nodded without word.

 

“Drinks?” He offered, hoping the explanation Jim gave was enough to pinpoint the assailants.

 

“I’ll let you two enjoy the remaining date without worrying about the third wheel.” And as soon as the talk is over, Jim got back to cheeky. Great. He rolled his eyes. He collected the plates and went to get drinks.

 

“I knew I could count on you.” He turned to shoot a glare to Chris at his playful response. “Of course you can, Captain Pike. I betted on ‘Yes’ as well, you know.” He groaned.

 

“Get lost if you don’t want a drink, infant.” He reached for a bourbon and glasses again, and shouted at Jim’s retreating back. “And don’t expect any more drinks if you barge in again like this!” Jim just waved his hand with a chuckle and got out of his room.

 

He grumbled and went to couch. Seating arrangement made him pause slightly, sitting where Jim sat before would be unnaturally far from Chris and sitting next to Chris seemed more intimate than before. He sat next to Chris, leaning back on the armrest to face him with one foot on the couch.

 

“So, I finally got to see your room after your frequent visits at my office and my room.” Chris said as he handed him a drink.

 

He snorted. “I only went to your room once when you wanted to hear about first contact. Visiting other’s room was too risky regarding the gossip, you know.”

 

“And now it’s okay?”

 

“I think you are forgetting that this exactly isn’t a planned visit. But if rumor got around now, it will be true at least.” He said watching Chris’ reaction, and Chris smiled.

 

“I did notice your lack of objection when Jim said about third wheeling or this being a date.”

 

“It was not planned, there was Jim, and I want our first date to be something better than this, but I cannot say we are just friends now, can I? Unless you changed your mind?” He arched his brow.

 

“Of course not. I too betted on Yes.” Chris smirked and then rested his hand on Leonard's knee. “And I thought about your perks thoroughly as you requested. Don’t try to turn me before I give verbal agreement, and after I give it, you can try when I am dying in front of you. If I want to try without dying and want to follow you, I will let you know as well. What do you think?”

 

He tensed slightly at the mention of his perks, but relaxed and nodded with a smile as he heard the rest. Chris did think about it thoroughly. He wished he could tell whether C24 will be effective to Chris or not, so that he doesn’t hold onto false hope and be devastated later like with Sam, but he knows this is the best he could get.

 

He placed his hand over the Chris’ on his knee. It was their first not-friendly touch, and he smiled at the slight flutter of his heart. Chris smiled back as he turned his hand to hold Leonard’s hand.

 

“I am sorry for our canceled gym date today, Len. I wish I could say we could go next week, but I am not sure this incident will be over that soon. The Ark is serious business. I’ll talk to my friend to let you in.” Chris said regretfully, slowly stroking the back of his hand with his thumb.

 

“I will be busy next weekend to prepare the surgery. If you can’t make it to next month’s visit, I’ll take your offer then.” Chris hummed his agreement.

 

They fell back to comfortable silence with just watching each other and sipping the drink occasionally. After last two days of frenetic shift, this silent contentment was pleasant.

 

Speaking of the shift, “I just remembered, I didn’t tell you that 8 users were the ones I detected, did I? I rushed their tests, but I couldn’t smell everyone without good excuse, so there might be more. I think I smelled about a third.”

 

“We know there could be more. A third… I hope the percentage is lower in the rest. We’ll have to see. So you smelled the Ark?” Chris questioned with interested look.

 

“It’s not 100 percent and it’s more like an educated guess. One I suspected turned out she wasn’t using. You know the tricorder detects change of concentration of the volatile organic compounds, right? Change of concentration exerts certain smells in some cases. The Ark does not exert specific one, but it was enough to make me suspicious with the kid’s slightly abnormal brain wave.” He shrugged. He treated users of the Ark before. He knows some signs.

 

“That’s impressive.” Chris’ face showed suitably impressed expression, and he’s slightly flattered. “Thanks for explaining. I know you are not that comfortable with your perks.”

 

“I do think of it as curse, yes, ‘cause it makes me nonhuman. But it does have perks, and I will not hide things from you, Chris.” He said sincerely, tightening his hold of Chris’ hand slightly.

 

Chris smiled beautifully, and then the smile turned wicked. He became slightly wary. “In that case, I remembered something.” Chris got up to walk over to where he draped Chris’ coat over. He watched him warily from the couch.

 

When Chris pulled out something from his coat and turned to show him what it is, he laughed out loud. It was a medical restraint used for Vulcan. Chris brought it back to couch while he was laughing still.

 

“You actually bought that and carried it around?” He asked in between the laughs.

 

“It got delivered today and I did not have time to put it somewhere else.” Chris shrugged like it’s not a big deal while sitting down beside him again. “So, are you going to tell me if this is enough?” Chris’ smile was predatory now, and the look made hot arousal course through his vein. He licked his lower lip unconsciously. Chris’ eyes followed it.

 

“To tell you the truth, I didn’t have someone I trust enough to test it. I can bend that metal with that thickness if I have to, but I am not sure the level of strength I’ll exert during sex. It’s been centuries since the last time I don’t have to worry about controlling my strength.” That made Chris pause slightly and look up from his lip.

 

“Can I ask your exact age?”

 

He shrugged. It's not big deal. “I didn’t tell you because it will be easy to pinpoint the accident and my identity if I did. I was 33 when this happened and that was 2046. I don’t exactly count my actual age, though.” Chris whistled, but didn’t look shocked. He already knew Leonard was around during first contact (2064), so.

 

“I actually prepared myself with a thousand-year-old human,” He chuckled at it. “So about 2.5 century. Details can wait, though. Would you like to test it?” Chris waved the cuff once more.

 

“If you actually want me to let go of control without worry, you will have to restrain my legs as well. Kick could be lethal too, you know. But sure, let’s see how much strength it can stand.” He offered his wrists to Chris.

 

Chris held his eyes during fastening the cuff methodically around his wrists. His eyes were dilated, as he was sure his were as well. There could be sparks flying between them with the air being charged this much.

 

After Chris is done, he shivered slightly at the tight hold of it around his pulse point. It has been more than a while he tried bondage, fragile restraints not counting. This was medical restraint for Vulcan, so the bands were wide and soft to minimize the damage, but firm enough to prevent escape and burn. The structure itself is designed to minimize the strain inflicted on the linking metal as well.

 

He gave an experimental tug with his usual strength, and it didn’t work at all as he expected. He systemically increased the strength, and it soon passed the strength normal for Vulcan. Structure itself is quite effective, it seems.

 

As he felt the metal starts to give a little when it’s almost his full strength, he stopped. “I think I can break the link if I have to, but it would need unlikely to happen positions during sex. But me straining the link constantly for some time would work as well, so I’m not sure about prolonged uncontrollability.”

 

He extended his wrists again to Chris, but Chris just trailed the edge of the restraint with hunger in his eyes instead of freeing him. He watched it with half lidded eyes, not in the hurry to get rid of it as well.

 

After some time, Chris leaned in to kiss the edge. Feather-light kisses replaced the fingers, and he shivered slightly at the scrape of teeth from time to time.

 

“I think,” his voice was husky from the arousal. “we need to stop before we can’t. You have early meeting tomorrow, and we didn’t go on an actual first date yet.”

 

Chris looked up through his lashes while placing the kisses still, and agreed with reluctant sigh. He started to unfasten the restraint and placed one last kiss on the now visible pulse point.

 

He gave a slightly breathless laugh. “Our order is all mixed up. We didn’t even go on a first date but visited others’ place, and we used restraints right after holding hands.”

 

“Following rules is boring, Len.” Chris answered with smirk, and he chuckled some more. “Is that appropriate comment from the Captain and the academy instructor?” Chris winked as an answer.

 

“I’ll have to go, sadly. I do have early meeting and there’s too much temptation here.” Chris said as he got up, and threw an exaggeratedly lewd look to Leonard. He smiled slowly and leaned back to present him better. Chris’ eyes trailed his body with actual heat again.

 

He could see the conflict in Chris’ eyes, and he himself was reconsidering his rules. They were subjected to sexual tension for too long. Maybe this could be considered as after third date?

 

The beep from Chris’ PADD broke the tension. Chris checked it, and groaned. “One more positive. I have to go detain him and oversee interrogation.”

 

He sighed as he got up to see him out. Chris picked up his coat and pocketed the restraint. They stopped in front of the door, knowing this moment should be over as soon as the door opens.

 

“I would like to kiss you, but I am sure it will be a bad idea.” He brought up Chris’ hand instead and kissed on the palm. Chris trailed his jawline gently with fingertips and then straighten to be Captain before going out.

 

“It will take a while for me to make enough time for a proper date, I’ll see what I can do. Oh, and I forgot to tell you why I didn’t contact you for three weeks after our talk. I have a present for you, but it can wait. Comm. me.” Chris smiled warmly for the last time, and got out of the door. There’s no one in the corridor again, thank god.

 

 

Chapter Text

He got on the hovercar parked at the corner.

 

Chris smiled at him. “Hi.”

 

He rolled his eyes but smiled back a little.

 

“So, where are we going?” He asked as Chris started the hovercar.

 

“Somewhere far. There still are students and faculties left even though now being the spring break. I don’t want to share you looking like this.” Chris winked.

 

He snorted at it. He was wearing semi casual, which is much better than his usual cadet red, but photos of him wearing suit is already all over the academy. He doesn’t think Chris is that possessive. “You look dashing as well, darlin’.” His words were dripping sarcasm.

 

“Thank you, sweetheart.” Judging from exaggeratedly sweet smile, it didn’t work at all. Chris chuckled seeing his scowl.

 

“I know a restaurant with private rooms. It has great foods and nice drinks.” He hummed at the answer, and they fell into comfortable silence.

 

They tend to spend some time enjoying silent companionship during their drinks and dinners. He likes the fact that they don’t feel awkward during the silence despite of this being their first date because of it.

 

They reached their destination about 30 minutes later and they are quite far from the academy considering the speed of the hovercar.

 

As he looked around, he could tell Chris made a good choice for their date. It was fancy, but not that much thank god, and the private room gave enough privacy and comfortable atmosphere.

 

“So, is this momentary break or is your schedule back to normal?” He asked after they placed their orders.

 

“I won’t be busy like last few weeks, but I may not be able to see you as frequently as last semester. We need more investigation on that organization.” Chris answered regretfully and he nodded at it. He didn’t ask further questions because he knows he doesn’t have necessary clearance. “I won’t need a month to go on a date like this time, though.”

 

“You are awfully sure of second date, aren’t you?” He arched a brow, but soon relented as Chris just smirked back. He knows there will be at more dates unless something truly horrible and unexpected happens. He and Chris wouldn’t have agreed on dating if that weren’t the case.

 

“Congratulation again for successful surgery on Orion ambassador’s daughter, Len.” Chris said placing his hand on top of Leonard’s hand lightly.

 

He narrowed his eyes. “Thanks. Even though you already expressed your congratulation. Publicly.” Chris sent a giant flower basket during his shift at the Medical after the surgery, and it was all over the academy within a day. He didn’t remove his hand, though.

 

Chris shrugged unapologetically. “I needed to show some signs of chasing you. Apparently, your reputation of disobedience is not enough for worried glances.”

 

“So that’s why you sent presents that much publically. Foods, I get it,” Chapel asked him to prolong the chasing if it means nurses getting the snacks a bit longer. Several nurses were sending hopeful glances behind her back and she was smirking. “But flower? Seriously?” He scowled, remembering the stares and smirks sent his way during the remaining shift that day.

 

“It’s still considered romantic gesture. Gossipers loved it as you know. And I didn’t want to send something personal for everyone to see.” Chris was still unrepentant about it, and he does have a point. He scowled some more.

 

“Brass loves you more after this. The ambassador seems like he would give anything Starfleet asks.” Chris changed the subject after the server brought their drinks first. He relented with final glare because it was a thoughtful gesture, not sending something personal. He’s sure that there was enough amount of teasing behind it, though.

 

“Orion woman underwent this level of invasive brain surgery won’t be received well in their society. I am glad the ambassador loves his daughter enough to request confidential surgery and pay for it.” He shrugged and turned his hand to hold Chris’ loosely. He had known Starfleet would take advantage of this.

 

“And you forgot the small favor you could go by, didn’t you?” Chris asked, but was smiling like he already knows the answer. And he’s right, he did forget about it.

 

It must’ve shown on his face. Chris smiled confidently. “I told you I have a present for you.”

 

He arched his brow. “I thought it was that outrageous flowers.” Chris chuckled and shook his head.

 

“It was a present as it wasn’t all for show, but no, that’s not what I meant. I requested your test-out of hand-to-hand class to be done using combat simulation. I said you are sufficient for defending yourself, but you don’t want to fight or harm someone unless it’s unavoidable. With the brass loving you, they agreed after some objections from my enemies. There’s some questions regarding when and how, but I just told them I don’t know. I didn’t want to make that part up without talking to you.”

 

Chris said it like it’s nothing, but it must have been harder than he let on. It wouldn’t have taken this much if it was that easy. He pursed his lips slightly during their order came.

 

He cleared his throat after the server went out. “Thank you, Chris.” Chris smiled softly as an answer.

 

“So, what do we do about when and how did you learn the basic combat?”

 

He shrugged. “You know the answer. Before 18 would be best.”

 

On paper, Leonard McCoy’s parents died when he was 3 and he lived on the street after that. He got under the radar on 18, and him looking older than 18 was explained with him having hard time on the street. He took qualification exams to get into premed and entered med school on 20, because his extraordinary test results must have to be explained with him being genius. Thankfully, he was good at medicine to keep up the pretense of being medical genius thing.

 

He was lucky he could start this life as early as 18. Him looking older than that was slightly inconvenient, but he wanted to live a longer life than before. He wanted more than 10~20 years a name.

 

Chris must have thought the same excuse, so he didn’t look surprised. “I read your file. It won’t be easy to explain your training after 18, there’s no record of you spending time for it. It won’t be a surprise for street kid to know a way to defend themselves, so let’s go with before 18. Tester will know you are holding back and took organized training, but there could be combat expert on the street as well.”

 

He nodded his agreement chewing the food. It was DELICIOUS. Chris chuckled at his enthusiasm.

 

“I’m slightly surprised at realistic birth certification and the lack of bureaucratic problems you faced after coming back to the system.”

 

He arched his brow at Chris’ question. It’s not something he can’t answer, it’s more like he’s surprised Chris doesn’t know the answer. “Archer helped.”

 

“Jon?” Chris looked genuinely surprised. So he really didn’t know. That’s unexpected.

 

“Yes. He helped me getting new identities after he found out about me.” Probably to keep an eye on him easily.

 

“Pleural?” Chris looked genuinely interested, just like every time his past comes up.

 

He nodded. “This is the third identity he helped me get. Real Leonard McCoy existed and his story till the moment he came back to system is real. His DNA identified him as Leonard McCoy when he was found at 18 on the street and his photo alerted me and Archer. We always keep an eye on someone who looks similar to me. I was nameless for 8 years before that ping, so I took his name in exchange of helping him getting back to street.”

 

“I heard you and Jon met a few times, but I didn’t know he was the one who helped you get new identities. You two didn’t sound friendly.” Chris said touch delicately looking over the wine glass.

 

“We aren’t.” He delayed answering the questioning look till he swallowed the piece of meat. The crash isn’t something he likes to recall. “His first impression of me was my tissues regenerating to fill gaping holes in inhuman speed. I was bloody, my leg poised in impossible angle, and three gaping holes due to pipes filling up quickly. It was not a pretty picture.” He saw fear and reversion in Archer’s eyes seeing him. He understood the reaction, especially with the shock right after the crash, but it doesn’t mean it didn’t bring up his loathing on his condition again. It was not a good first meeting.

 

Chris tilted his head in silent contemplation. He was trying to understand Archer’s reaction or the reason of their not-friend-state without much success.

 

“It’s more grotesque than you might think, seeing the healing process of punctured hole. Archer was shocked due to the crash, it was not a good picture I was making, and he was suspicious at unknown creature. It was a reasonable reaction of him being wary of me, but I didn’t like him looking at me like I was some monster, even if it’s valid assessment.” Chris shot him a look, but he ignored it.

 

“How did that become Jon helping you?” Chris continued to ask question, letting go of his comment knowing it won’t be easy to make him think differently.

 

“One shrapnel of the three was because of me shielding him. He would have died if I didn’t.” He pointed the place where that shrapnel penetrated him. It was right beneath his heart, puncturing his lung. He was coughing blood and wheezing because of it, which must have made whole thing look more and more like a horror movie.

 

“And I tended other two miraculously alive and unconscious passengers with that injuries on me. It must’ve been enough for Archer to hear me out. Thankfully, he agreed with the danger of me known to researchers. We couldn’t become friends due to our first impressions on each other and me needing to lay low after my identity dying with that fire. But Archer helped a few times after that as a thank you, to keep my true identity hidden, and to keep an eye on me.”

 

He continued after drinking some wine and fixing his gaze on the red liquid in contemplation. “Come to think of it, I am not that surprised of you not knowing us working together time to time. After 60 years, I know Archer believes I don’t want to harm anyone, and I know Archer won’t tell about me to the world. But it’s more like understanding and acknowledgement. Nothing more than occasional acquaintance with same objective, I’ll say.”

 

He was lost in thoughts, remembering short encounters with Archer, when Chris reached over to trail his hand holding the glass with his fingertip. He looked up questioningly, but Chris just brushed his hand some more without answer.

 

After few moments, Chris withdrew his hand but he quickly caught the hand and let go after squeezing the fingertip. Chris smiled.

 

“I think you are thinking less of your connection with Jon. I won’t say you two are friends, but I think it’s more than just acquaintance. Respecting colleague, maybe?” Chris smiled at his disbelieving gaze. “Jon told me you are most humane man he met so I don’t have to worry before I met you. And you let go of the tension when I said Jon told me about you. You two trust each other.”

 

“He didn’t do anything to expose me for all these years. Helped, actually. How can I not believe he won’t in the future?” He shrugged.

 

“Liar. You always think about worst scenario. There’s no way you don’t worry about you being exposed one way or the other, but you trust Jon enough to think Jon won’t unless it’s necessary.” He shot a glare at Chris and put particularly large piece of steak in his mouth ‘cause it’s true.

 

Chris of course knew what his action meant, but didn’t look smug about it. He was smiling small and genuine smile. “I am glad you had someone helping you, Len.”

 

“Yeah, well, he won’t last long now. And I don’t know why we are talking about this kind of touchy feely things on our first date.” He answered gruffly.

 

“Jon’s healthy. He has at least 2 decades left, I think. To tell you the truth, I think he could outlive Vulcan considering his current state.” Chris stage whispered with a wink. He chuckled at it weakly. “And talking this kind of things on the first date is new to me as well, but that’s us. We won’t be that different from before except sex.” Chris finished with straight face.

 

He laughed, he couldn’t help it. “Not till the third date, darlin’. I’m old fashioned, as you can guess.” He’s the one who winked this time, and Chris fake groaned. He chuckled.

 

“Let’s talk about something that would be appropriate on actual first date, then. What do you do on your free time?”

 

He rolled his eyes at the question, but paused slightly. “We didn’t do anything other than drinking and dinner, did we? Except going to the gym.” He furrowed his brows slightly at the realization. They met almost weekly before shit happened, but all they did was talking. Huh. “I like reading books or watching holovids if I am particularly in the mood for a lazy night. I actually like reading medical journals as well. I used to go to shooting range or gym to unwind before the accident, and after, well.” He shrugged instead of saying the words.

 

“Other things, hmm. I knit, which I took after being Leonard a.k.a. surgeon, I sculpted small pieces of wood when I was a construction worker, and I liked cleaning my guns when I was a marine. Those kind of things.”

 

Chris’ face turned from attentive to innocent. “So you like things you can do with your hands?”

 

He lightly kicked Chris’ foot under the table. “Yes, you prurient creature. I am telling you all this just to let you know I am good with hands.” His eyes will be out of his socket if he rolls his eyes a little more. Chris laughed beautifully.

 

The server knocked to bring out the dessert, which was a slight surprise because Leonard didn’t acknowledge the time passing.

 

“I like reading and watching holovids as well. I think most of the flagship crews do. There’s not much to do out there. I play chess as you know, and I like traveling and camping. Which is why I took recruiting job during my time down here. I spend more than half of summer vacation going all over the world or even to other planets to recruit special cases.”

 

“Do you get the list for this year’s recruitment by now?” He was somehow on the list before, so he is interested in who would be in the list and how the list gets composed.

 

“It could be extended, but yes. I have to visit the other planet this time. Would you like to come?”

 

He stopped the fork in the midair to look at Chris. “You do know I don’t like flying things, right? Especially out in the black?”

 

“But I will be with you.” Chris fluttered his eyelashes at him and laughed at his scowl. “I have to go other continents or other states as well. We could go some of those instead, if you prefer. I just thought you would like the opportunity to talk with Zenoids. I heard their medical findings are interesting.”

 

That made him reconsider his apprehension. Zenoid is relatively new species registered on the Federation. They drew attention from medical fields with having five biological sexes, and the ability to control involuntary muscles and functions of the body. Their academic approach to body function is interesting as well.

 

“I have to go to a field trip because of the survival class this summer. Let’s see how the schedule goes.”

 

Chris nodded. “Do you want some more wine?”

 

“That would be nice, but since we both like watching holovids, let’s see if our tastes are similar too. Your place?”

 

“I have a feeling that I will be opening an expensive wine tonight.” Chris chuckled as he paid for them. Chris insisted saying it was his fault their date got delayed this much.

 

He reached for Chris to wrap his arm around Chris’ waist as they got up. “Would it be a waste if you are opening it for me?” He smiled pulling Chris closer, and kissed at the corner of the lip. “Thanks for the dinner, darlin’.” He smiled wickedly as he stepped back before Chris can do anything more.