Title: Guardian
Pairing: McCoy-centric, Pre-slash Reaper!McCoy/Kirk
Summary: Mask come in all shapes and sizes.
Rating: Teen, mostly for language
Word Count: 2,103

Fandom: Star Trek XI, post-Doom crossover
A/N: I watched Doom for the first (and second, and third) time yesterday, and fell in love with the idea of a Reaper!Bones. This fic kind of emerged from the weirder corners of my brain at about 2:30 last night as a result. I apologize if the narration of events and such seem rushed, the point of the fic was supposed to be more introspective. Also, un-beta'd, so all mistakes are mine. Along with any factual errors, so if I made any glaring errors, I'd appreciate if someone informed me.

Masks. Everyone always wears a mask, and John Grimm is no different. It's evolved over

the years and he's perfected it a little more each day. The violence and the anger, buried further and further beneath the biting wit and sarcasm. He wears a mask to protect himself, and to protect others. Solider, doctor, lawyer, cop, fireman. All in some way there to save others. And if a couple of street punks stealing from an old lady turn up beaten and bloody babbling about a cold-eyed man? Well, that's not part of the job description.

John Grimm walks alone. He is no man – he is the Reaper.

Those who may call him friend at any given point don't understand him. Don't see the man behind the mask, the killer lurking beneath the surface. John doesn't mind. Friends, allies, comrades – but not really. No one gets close, because John can not afford them to. That is, until the day he walks past an ad for Starfleet. He can't quite explain what causes him to walk into the recruiting office and enlist. They're desperate enough for doctors that the officer on duty can overlook the fact that there is no record on a Leonard H. McCoy ever existing – a name he completely made up spur of the moment and kind of likes, now that he thinks about it.

He boards the shuttle the next day, flask in hand, and promptly heads straight for the bathroom. John Grimm is no wuss, flying doesn't turn one hair on his head, but it's an act designed for exactly one purpose. Crazy degenerate drunks tend to drive people away straight from the start, and he doesn't have to worry about friends.

What he doesn't count on is James T. Kirk.

People avoid the craizes – something no one has ever apparently told this kid, though to be fair he's a bit crazy himself. He follows after John, Leonard, after getting off the shuttle, and somehow they end up as roommates even though Leonard is a medical cadet and James is command. John isn't used to people getting close, but something about the ball of energy that is Kirk gets under his skin. And no one's gotten under his skin since Sam died about two hundred years ago. He's not sure he likes it. But at the same time, John can't help but be drawn by the tentative connections. And Kirk reminds him of his twin in some ways. The same boundless enthusiasm and spirit, but tempered by an extreme focus and drive to excel.

Physicals are hard to fake, but as a certified doctor in his own right he can override the Academy ones and do them himself. And after three years, John thinks he's getting pretty damn good at it. Combat classes are the worst however. Leonard McCoy is a complete failure at it, and John doesn't like it one bit. He could have easily taken them all on before the addition of the synthetic chromosome, and even more so now. But he has to hold himself back, get smacked around and pray no one notices how fast the cuts a bruises fade, or notice that he bears no scars. Practice makes perfect however.

Along with dealing with his errant roommate. Kirk doesn't understand the meaning of the word temperance, and John can't help but identify with him despite that. Both of them have their own fucked up trauma to deal with (though privately he thinks his own is far worse) and he understands the desire to reach out and connect with another being, be it through fists or sex. He wishes he could release the pent-up fury and violence, but after the last time Security sent out a memo about vandals destroying the punching bags in the cadet gym, he's run out of options. Short of provoking a Vulcan, he can't do anything. And the thought has crossed his mind numerous times about doing just that – but he'd never be able to explain and John has no intentions of being a lab rat for some scientists.

It's been three years with the kid, and John is surprised this is the first time he's been seriously, really in deep trouble. The Kobayashi Maru is no joke, and Kirk's cheating is going to result badly for him, he knows it. But when they are interrupted by the distress call from Vulcan, John can't help but sigh slightly in relief. Kirk's not allowed to go however, and Leonard can't sit back and watch. Maybe it's old Marine training 'Never leave a man behind' or maybe it's just the motto 'Semper Fi – Always loyal', but he can't just leave him standing there. Either way, Kirk (who did in fact looked like someone kicked his puppy, despite what Kirk insists) ended up on the Enterprise, bound for Vulcan. And if he wants to complain about unnecessary force in hyposprays injections one more time, John will fucking show him 'unnecessary force'. Flying into the rubble of what used to be Starfleet cruisers causes John to shudder, and all he can think of at the moment is the ruins of Olduvai, fighting the monsters in the dark and among the wreckage. He ruthlessly shoves it away. Leonard McCoy has no time to think about history anymore, trying to cope with a hasty promotion to Chief fucking Medical Officer. And when the starship starts to quake and rumble around them, it's all John can do to stop himself from imagining he's back on Mars, running after the creatures that killed his teammates.

A beam screams through the air as it falls, crushing a pair of engineers beneath its weight in the smoke. It's too heavy for a person to lift, and others are forced to leave the pair alone to save others. The younger of them sees Leonard watching them darkly, and she looks pleadingly up into his dark eyes. She doesn't recoil at the flinty and piercing look, a first. John groans softly. He knows he can't just leave them there. "Close your eyes." He murmurs softly, and she complies. While no one is looking John hoists the metal just enough for the two to wiggle out, and moves it to the side when they're clear. The other takes off instantly, but the woman is staring up at him from the floor with something that looks akin to awe. John just hopes she'll be too overwhelmed to say anything, or at least that no one will believe her. He can always chalk it up to adrenaline he supposes.

He's vaguely aware of the little Russian navigator running through the halls screaming, "I can do zat! I can do zat!" as he makes his way back to sickbay to deal with more patients. A doctor's work is never done, especially when said doctor can function with far less sleep then the rest of his staff, no matter what their protests. The medical crew deals with patients quickly and efficiently, and John finds himself up on the bridge again, more to watch what fool thing Kirk is doing then for any real purpose. He finds Kirk arguing heatedly with Spock on what to do next, and Kirk is getting increasingly upset and even Spock's twitching slightly. Something seems to snap in the Vulcan, he orders Kirk marooned on a fucking ball of ice for mutiny. Kirk, mutinous of all things? He is many things, but a mutineer is not one of them. And John is forced to watch as the only person he has let close in two hundred years is gone, and the fury burns white hot too close to the surface. He confronts Spock. The Vulcan's eyebrows twitch, the only sign that he is taken aback at the naked rage on McCoy's face. "Are you out of your Vulcan mind?" He hisses, and the rage vents its way out. When he cools down, John can only hope that Jim is safe on Delta Vega, and that those who destroyed Vulcan will leave it, and Jim, alone.

He's in sickbay again when the alert goes out about intruders on the Engineering deck, and John immediately rushes up to the bridge. He knows it's Jim, the bugger, even if he doesn't have a fucking clue how he would get back on a ship traveling at warp. But he's underestimated Kirk before, and John knows that he would somehow find a way. And it is, although he's dragging a bedraggled looking Scot in a Starfleet engineer uniform along for the ride. John can't stop the brief flash of jealousy that irrationally spurts through him at the sight, though he's forced to do so as his best friend purposely provokes the acting Vulcan captain. (As John has wanted to do since the beginning goddamnit) and he's required to stand back and watch. John knows he's capable of stopping the First Officer, but he can't, so he instead just prays someone else will save his friend as his control wavers and he's a hairsbreadth away from intervening. Then Sarek stops his son, and John can breathe again, letting out the breath he hadn't even realized he'd been holding.

And Kirk is captain now, something that frightens John at the same time as sends a bolt of pride through him for his best friend.

It doesn't even faze him in the slightest, the face of the crew's disapproval, including Bones' (he was ambivalent to the nickname Kirk had bestowed upon him in light of his made up story about an ex-wife and a divorce) halfhearted 'I hope you know what you're doing'. Said in a slow southern drawl he'd picked up somewhere in the late twenty-third century. John had to admit the kid was good when the Narada was destroyed, even if they were almost as well. The green-blooded hobgoblin, not so much. He patched Jim up with slightly gentler hands then normal, fixing his trachea and ribs as the kid conversed with the recuperating Pike laying prone in the next bed. And John couldn't help but smile and cheer as loudly as everyone else when they awarded him the Enterprise.

They all were good at what they did, and it showed in the success rate of their missions, even if the away ones never quite went as planned. John and Jim were under attack by the hostile natives of the planet, separated from the pair of security men who'd beamed down with them. Leonard was unhurt, a fact he was surprised always went uncommented on, but Jim was sporting a broken leg and some serious bruises – ironically both of which were his own fault in tripping over a root. "Dammit." John swore lightly under his breath. "'is okay Bones! We'll get back, you'll see! Scotty'll get transporter lock, and Spock will come with help!" Putting aside his jealousy over the amount of trust Jim placed in Spock, John didn't buy it for a second. He knew he had to do something, and that something would have to involve talents that had long lain dormant and unused, forced out of the mind of a doctor with no use for them. Glancing suspiciously at Jim, he pulled a hypospray from his medbag and jammed the sedative into his neck. "Wha was that?" Leonard faked pulling something from Jim's neck and rolling it around in his fingers. "Looks like some kind of tranquilizer dart." He murmured, turning around just in time to catch the captain as he fell. "I had no choice Jim." He whispered softly, divesting himself of his gear and blue Starfleet medical over shirt. He left the phasers lying on the ground beside the captain.

When Spock finally did arrive several hours later to find them holed up in a tree, he accepted Leonard's explanation of a rival band of natives attacking. He didn't mention it again, only proceeded to inform the captain that the pair of security officers had been rescued from a cave nearby. And if anyone notices that the good doctor seemed a great deal more relaxed after that away mission, no one comments on it.

He is John Grimm, the Reaper. But he is also Leonard McCoy, Starfleet officer; John reflects, staring down at Jim stretched out on the biobed. A tiny smile crosses his face as he tugs the covers up to Jim's chest, then moves towards the door. He takes one last look at the sleeping form, and then turns out the light. John doesn't look back as he heads out the door and down the hall.

Maybe he'll tell Jim the truth someday.