McCoy looked around the bridge of the glorified tin can moving through the vacuum of space. He’d been on the Enterprise for a while now and despite the many years he’d spent in Starfleet and bouncing around various locations, he was still not entirely convinced that starships weren’t death traps. Being a doctor and a scientist also wasn’t enough to convince him of the safety of the transporters either. The Enterprise had a disturbingly large amount of transporter-related accidents when compared to the rest of the ships in the fleet.
McCoy paused mid-stride behind the captain’s chair and he stared. No, it was Jim’s unerring mixture of bad and good luck that would land them in ridiculous situations and then proceed to get them out of said situations. Forget the Enterprise; Jim was clearly the problem. How the hell that man managed to last this long without getting killed was beyond him. It had been a different sort of ‘close call’ this time. Jim had been on the bridge long enough to hold a brief conversation with Spock before handing the conn over to Spock and retiring to his quarters.
“A problem, Dr. McCoy?”
“I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of that man.”
“Feeling, Doctor? They are on an uninhabited planet and quite isolated from the rest of the galaxy. They shall find it quite difficult to leave that planet.” Spock was his usual logical self.
“I know that, Mr. Spock. That doesn’t mean I can’t feel uneasy about this.”
“And what exactly makes you feel uneasy about it?” Spock had turned the chair just enough to give McCoy his full attention.
“A man like that doesn’t just change instantly and settle down for a quiet life. He took the out Jim gave him just to save his skin now. Khan might be ruling in hell right now, but he won’t settle for that for very long. Long enough perhaps for us to forget about him, but that’s it.” McCoy fervently hoped he was wrong about that bit of intuition.
“Perhaps, Doctor, but we cannot live in fear for the rest of our lives. Particularly since no one is in a position to anticipate the plans of that man.”
McCoy noticed then that Spock wasn’t as “at ease” as he first thought; he was hiding his anger remarkably well. Nearly a year around the Vulcan had given the doctor enough insight to be able to read Spock’s emotions just from his eyes, and spending time off-duty with him had helped as well. As much as Spock might insist that Vulcan’s don’t have emotions, McCoy had quickly realized that what might apply to Vulcan’s didn’t really apply to Spock; ignoring his human half would only get him into trouble eventually. Not if we can help it, he thought.
“I’m going to check on Jim.” Without waiting for a response, McCoy turned and made for the turbolift.
Spock watched Leonard leave. He didn’t begrudge them their ‘alone time’. Leonard was more adept at comforting and relaxing Jim than he was.
“Come in.” Jim was sitting at his desk under the guise of writing reports. In actuality he’d been staring at the wall for the past twenty minutes.
“Bones, what is it?”
“Thought you could do with a drink.” McCoy raised the small bottle of Saurian brandy and two tumblers.
“Not a bad idea.” Jim admitted as he cleared off his desk.
Leonard filled their glasses as he sat. He knew Jim hadn’t been doing any work before he entered the cabin. Jim wasn’t subtle when it came to his disdain for reports. Oh, he always submitted them on time, but never early unless sufficiently persuaded by Spock to do so.
“Interesting last few shifts, eh, Bones?”
“‘Interesting’ is not the word I would use. Spock thinks I’m being overly paranoid. Not that he said that, the pointy-eared bastard, but the sentiment was there.”
“Paranoid? About what?”
Both men swirled their brandy for a few moments.
“We haven’t seen the last of him, Jim.”
“I know, Bones. I know.”
“I still think we should have put them back on their ship and left them. Hell, we shouldn’t have even woken them up in the first place. Telling him to tame a world is not the sort of challenge I would have given him.”
“Murder, Bones? And what sort of challenge would have given him?”
“None. Telling him to tame a world is just as good as inviting him to take on the rest of the galaxy when he’s finished with Ceti Alpha V. I told Spock this...that Khan backed down just so he could live. He’s not done with us...with you.” McCoy knocked back his drink and poured another.
“Bones.” Jim sighed and set down his drink. He knew Bones wasn’t entirely wrong; there were times when his paranoia was a positive feature rather than a detriment.
“It’s done now. We’ll just have keep an eye on him.”
“Yeah, and we both know that Starfleet isn’t going to spare the resources to do that.”
Jim didn’t bother to respond; he had no counter-argument and Bones’ sentiment didn’t need voicing a second time.
“C’mon, Jim.” McCoy stood, walked around the desk, and pulled Jim from his chair.
“Now, Bones?” Not that he was complaining, but he really did to work on those reports, and Spock was on the bridge.
“Spock doesn’t mind and you know it. We’re both too tightly wound to do anything constructive.” Bones started leading Jim towards the bed. When they reached it, he turned and sat, and began removing his boots.
Jim grinned and began removing his own clothing. “If you insist, Doctor.”
He climbed onto the bed and settled beside his friend and lover. Leonard quickly finished undressing and turned to face Jim. They cuddled closer, arms wrapped around one another, legs tangled together, and kissed slowly and gently. It wasn’t about sex right then, just taking comfort in one another and being close. In unspoken agreement, both officers decided to wait for the third member of their triad to join them.
As they laid there, McCoy still was unable to shake the uneasy he’d felt earlier. He settled even closer, if that was possible, to Jim. Jim, seeming to sense Leonard’s discomfort, held him tighter. Spock would be off alpha shift soon and would join them for the little time he required sleep.
No, they hadn’t seen the last of Khan Noonien Singh, but for now they would take comfort amongst themselves and take each challenge as it arrived.