Physician, Heal Thyself

by Djinn

You try not to notice her as she moves around sickbay. You try to pretend you've never seen her naked, never felt her move beneath-above-around you.

You try but it's a losing battle.

She is everywhere. She is nowhere--nowhere that you can go now. She's with one of your best friends. Not the one you always feared would take her away. The other one, the safe one. She's with Jim, and you can't for the life of you figure out how that happened.

But it doesn't matter how it happened, she's with him and she disappears into his quarters at night, shows up at breakfast with him, and you know she hasn't been back to her quarters. You know because you spent the night watching for her; her quarters are right across from yours, after all.

She never comes back anymore, and you've finally stopped looking for her.

You wish that not looking for her means that you've given up, but you suspect that you've just become tired of standing at your door listening for her return. You suspect that you'll never really give up hoping that she'll come to you again.

You wish you could hate him. Or her. But you can't. They're too happy, both of them opening up to each other, both of them blossoming as they learn to love each other. She smiles now, really smiles with an open expression that reaches her eyes. She is beautiful when she smiles.

She only smiles for him. You still can't coax that expression out of her.

She never loved you. You know that now. Know it in that bone deep way that only being slapped in the face daily with the two of them can bring. She loves him. She never loved you.

Never.

But you love her. Still. You hope to god not forever. You hope that someday you'll wake up and be over her and be able to move on.

You've seen Spock watching her, as if he too is trying to figure out how she came to be with his captain, his best friend, the man he just might be in love with.

You laugh when you think of how ballsy she was, asking Spock in front of you all what he felt for Jim. Jim didn't think it was so funny. For a moment, you thought he was going to erupt, boiling over from some stress you still don't quite understand. Something happened between them when Spock was dead and you were going mad from having his soul inside you. They shared something dark and something good and maybe it's all the same thing.

You're not sure she really got an answer from Spock. All he did was surrender the field to her, but he yielded no great truths. He still may be there, waiting, hoping, wanting.

You know how that feels. You wonder if Christine still loves Spock now that she has Jim and she's finally happy. Does the obsession go away once you've found someone new to love, someone good to love? Someone healthy to love.

You hope to god so. For your own sake.

You need to move on. You need to say goodbye to the possibility that only exists in your mind and move on.

You tell yourself this every day.

And every night.

And it's still the same. She is all you see. All you want.

All you'll never, ever have.

She looks over at you. Her smile is the old one, not the one that she gives Jim. It barely leaves her lips, comes nowhere close to her eyes.

Her eyes sparkle for Jim.

"Everything okay?" she asks and you nod, trying to make the gesture easy, casual.

Sane.

You don't feel sane. Then again, you don't feel dangerous, just off balance, a-kilter, out of sorts, tetchy--you fall back on your great- grandma's word. It means testy, which you certainly are. But she used it when she wanted to say something was wrong, not right. Everything is wrong, not right. Not being with Christine is wrong. Not right.

Not right for you.

Not wrong for her.

Christine studies you for a moment, then turns back to her work.

She couldn't care less how you are. She is happy.

She is happy. Those are hard words to say. So foreign. You were used to the idea that Christine was never happy, would never be happy. So what you did with her, even if it left her darker than when you started, was all right. She wouldn't ever be happy anyway, so what was the harm?

But now you see you were wrong. She can be happy. Just not with you.

You hurt her. You drag her down. You make her world black and lonely and worse than it was when you found her.

Jim heals her. Jim fills her.

You don't want to think of Jim filling her.

You don't want to think of Jim doing anything to her.

All you can think of is Jim doing everything to her.

Does she call his name out when she comes? She finally stopped calling Spock's name out when she was with you. Finally stopped tearing your heart out. It happened sometime after the first mission. You never knew why. But you think you know now. You saw that look she shared with Spock. She shared a lot more with Spock, but you don't know when and she never told you about it.

Jim saw it too. The thought makes you irrationally happy. Jim must wonder too. Who does she really love?

You wonder if she told Jim about it. If Jim knows whether she and Spock were lovers. If Jim knows how much she used to love Spock.

It was something you were never allowed to forget, even if, at the end, you began to suspect that the only one Christine loved was Christine.

And then you saw her with Jim.

You see her everyday with Jim.

And no matter how good it feels to say that she can only love herself, it isn't true. She loves him. She loves him. She loves him.

The words are like a scalpel through your gut. They tear away something that is vital. They tear her away from you.

Only you never really had her. Never. Really. Had. Her.

You hate those words.

Jim said them to you. A few weeks after she showed up on board. He warned you she was coming. He didn't just spring her on you. And you were the good friend, the magnanimous southern gentleman who knows when you've been beaten. Who knows how to give up gracefully.

You would have stayed that way. Behaved yourself and tried not to show either of them how much it hurt you to see them together. But he made the mistake of coming to your quarters one evening. To check on you. Bad luck for him that you were drinking. Had been drinking all night.

It wasn't something you did very often. You knew it would be too easy to let it become a habit. But that night you indulged so you wouldn't have to remember how it felt to see them dancing at a crew party.

God, they danced so close. It should be illegal to dance that close.

You fled. Fled at a walk, stiff, uncomfortable, but determined to hide the pain. Determined to let them be, let them be happy.

You didn't think they even noticed. But then Jim showed up. At your door.

"Bones? I know this is hard."

"You don't know what hard is, Jimbo," you said. He hated that name.

And you knew it.

His face tightened. He was biting back harsh words. You could tell. You decided you wanted to hear them. Wanted to get it out.

"She was mine, Jim." A lie, but one guaranteed to strike where it would hurt most.

At his honor. At his ability to stay out of a friend's business, away from a friend's woman.

Jim looked at you, his heart in his eyes, in the way his mouth turned down, in the soft sigh.

"You didn't have to take her," you said, striking again, hard, like the snakes back home that strike over and over in the same place, filling you with poison.

"Bones," your best friend said. "You never really had her."

"Get out," you said. You weren't sure if you were saying it to him or to the truth. It didn't matter, they both hurt.

He left you. A mumbled, "I'm sorry," that was heartfelt but wouldn't stop him from going back to her, from taking her.

Over and over and over.

Christine told you once that you were as obsessed with her as she was with Spock. That it wasn't healthy. You know she is right. You wonder when your new lover will come around. Who will rescue you from this terrible pit of blackness you inhabit?

You wonder when you will fall in love and be able to smile with your eyes again.

You haven't had a drink since that night. Have reverted back to the stalwart and noble friend, who will give up his lady to her true love.

And Jim doesn't tiptoe around you anymore. But he did. For days, he did.

You nearly lost them both. And you don't want that. Even if might be healthier in the long run.

You should transfer off the ship. Go home. You can retire, go anywhere you want. Live out your life far away from them both.

But you can't bring yourself to fill out the transfer request that you've brought up on your terminal nearly every week. You'll stay. And you'll pretend that everything is all right.

It's a lie, but they want to believe it. They will believe it. Because it's easier for them to close their eyes to the truth and it's easier for you to pretend that there is no truth.

You've seen Spock watching you. You don't know how a Vulcan could begin to figure out what you feel. But then you remember how you've seen him look at Jim. Maybe Spock knows all too well. Maybe when Spock looks at you, he is just looking in the mirror.

You wonder if he hurts too. If he and Jim had it out, or would that be he and Christine? You can't figure it out and it makes your head hurt to try.

"Len?" She is back, standing almost too close. You can smell her perfume and another scent. You realize it is the smell of Jim's quarters, Jim's arms, Jim's love. She smells of Jim and you want to throw her in the shower and scrub her till she screams.

Then you want to love her until she tells you that she wants you back.

You know you could love her till eternity folds up shop and she still wouldn't want you back.

You give her your attention. "What?"

"I'm sorry." She is looking at you with such sorrow.

You wish that her sorrow could move you more than it does. You wish that you didn't take pleasure in her pain. You hate it that since you can't have her love, you'll take anything she will give you. Good or bad.

"I know you are." You hold her eyes, try to tell her without words that you love her, that she can come back.

She turns away but not before you see a flicker of irritation in hers.

She will not reach out many more times. You are about to lose her.

"It's just so hard," you blurt out.

She turns around. "How can I make it better?"

Leave him, you want to say. Come back to me.

But you never really had her.

"You can't, darlin'. Only time can." It is the mature answer and you see that she does not trust it. You try again. "I have to get over you. I've loved you a long time. It's going to take a while to get rid of this."

Get rid of this. Like your love is trash someone should dispose of.

Maybe it is.

She reaches out to you, thinks better of the idea and drops her hand. "You're important to me. As a friend." She does not often say things like this.

You should be grateful for the sentiment. Be satisfied with it. You should take what you can get and not want what you'll never have.

You should do a lot of things.

It's not enough.

But it's all you're ever going to get. She turns away.

You see Jim come in, looking for her. Her expression changes. Her face is light. Pure, radiant, light. And you'll never see her look that way for you. You can almost hate them both.

But you love them. And you already hate yourself more.

FIN