Don't Ever Bring Me Flowers

by J. Rosemary Moss

~oOo~

What the hell possessed me to run off to Starfleet? I'm a doctor, not a space cadet. I ought to be settling into a lazy country practice, not learning how to operate during a simulated Klingon attack.

I shook my head as I walked into my apartment. Yes, I said apartment. One of the advantages of entering Starfleet Academy as a fully qualified surgeon is permission to lodge off campus. No wretched dorm for me. I had my own place.

Well, sort of. One glance into my bedroom revealed a lump on my bed. A James T. Kirk-sized lump, to be exact.

I rolled my eyes, but I couldn't keep a smile from tugging at my lips. I'd learnt from the beginning of our friendship that what was mine was also Jim's. I don't think he spent any time in his dorm. Hell, he'd probably never even laid eyes on his roommate. When he wasn't crashing with me, he was in bed with the female cadet du jour.

I shook my head again as I took a seat on the edge of the bed and ruffled his hair. He moaned, slit his eyes open and then grinned up at me.

"Hey," he said as he grabbed my sleeve and tugged me into an impromptu wrestling match.

I laughed as I fell on top of him. We tousled and tumbled and twisted and untwisted until we managed to rearrange ourselves. I ended up leaning back against the headboard with Jim curled up in my arms.

Ok, ok . . . Jim and I were more than pals. Somehow I'd let this crazy Iowa farm boy talk me into becoming 'friends with benefits.' No promises, no jealousy—those were the rules he convinced me to sign onto. We were just two fellow cadets who liked to mess around when there was no better offer on the horizon.

And so I didn't bother getting angry when Jim chased every long-legged miniskirt in San Francisco. I just savored his rare failures, like his repeated strikeouts with a certain xenolinguist. He was so hot for her that he actually got himself elected treasurer of the Xenolinguistic Club. I'm happy to report that she still hasn't given him the time of day.

I've gone my own way on occasion too. The trouble is, I can't get Jocelyn out of my head. It's not enough that she took the whole damn planet in the divorce—she still has to haunt my dreams as well. That doesn't make it easy to start something up with a new girl.

I sighed. I knew that this 'friends with benefits' idea was going to end in disaster. As far as I could tell, Jim was a God damned sex addict. And I was still rebounding from that vicious divorce. But it didn't feel like a disaster right now. It never does in quiet moments like this, when we're holding each other and it seems as if the whole frantic universe has slowed down just for us.

"Today was my birthday," Jim said at length, his voice drowsy and disinterested.

I stared down at him. "Why didn't you tell me? We could have done something special. I'd have taken you out."

But he shook his head. "I'd rather spend it quiet, like this," he said.

I rolled my eyes. Didn't this boy have any sense of romance? Even 'friends with benefits' are allowed to celebrate special days together. "I'd have at least gotten you a cake," I said. "Maybe even some flowers," I added, just to annoy him.

He punched me in the arm. "Don't ever get me flowers."

I gave him a fake grimace as I pulled him closer. "You should have told me."

He glanced up at me, his expression unreadable. And then I wished that I had bitten off my tongue rather than say those last words. Of course he doesn't celebrate his birthday. He was born the same day his father died.

I sighed and kissed the top of his head. "Sorry," I said. "Hell of a birthday." He didn't say anything to that, so I kept talking. "He must have been a good man, Jim. He saved a whole lot of people."

"Yeah," he agreed, his voice flat.

I started stroking his hair. "Tell me something about him."

Jim took his time about answering. "He didn't believe in no-win scenarios," he said at last. "Pike told me that."

I can't say that surprised me. George Kirk had passed that trait right down to his son. Jim had this stubborn conviction that the rules governing most of us mortals don't apply to him. And sometimes he was so damn convincing that I found myself believing him.

"Are you upset, Bones?" he asked, looking up at me again.

"No, just trying to think up some compromise. We ought to do something to commemorate the fact that you've survived another year."

That brought a smile to his face—a reluctant smile, but a smile all the same. "Fine. You can take me out tomorrow," he said. "Someplace nice. No birthday cake, though. And no flowers."

I stared at him for a moment and then nodded. This, I suppose, was as close as he could come to celebrating his arrival into this grisly universe. And maybe as close as he could come to allowing any hint of romance into our relationship.

"Aye, aye," I told him, thinking about a candlelit restaurant that looked out over the Bay. "I know just the place."

He nodded his assent and snuggled closer to me. A minute later he was snoring softly in my arms. I rested my chin on top of his head as I planned out tomorrow evening. I'd respect Jim's wishes about the cake—I could understand why he couldn't permit himself to enjoy anything that deliberately smacked of his birthday. But he'd have to put up with a little romance from me.

I closed my eyes as I made a mental note to call the florist first thing in the morning.

~The End~