Bones quickly leaned forward to stop the playing message and thumbed his vid screen off when he heard the doors to the room whoosh open. He spun in his chair around to see Jim waltz in and start tugging his red uniform jacket off. "Hey." He said casually.

Pulling the fabric away from his body and tossing it aside, Jim turned his head to find Bones watching him intently. He would have thought it was due to his impromptu strip show but with a swift glance to the side, he saw Bones' hand tapping out an unsteady rhythm on the desk's surface. He was nervous about something and Jim, having roomed with the good doctor for three years now, could read all of his tells.

Plopping himself down into Bones' lap and throwing his arms around his neck, Kirk stared into warm brown eyes flecked with green, that were most definitely hiding something in their depths. If that weren't enough, he could feel how stiff and wound up Bones was, and not in a fun way. Jim ran his fingers lightly through the short hairs at the base of his friend's neck and smiled coyly. "I don't know what is going on, but I know stress when I see it and I know of the perfect distraction."

"Oh, no... Your idea of distraction always contains the potential for academic suspension, which I still don't know how you've managed to escape all these years."

"Good clean living. Now come on, H'rung from my stellar cartography class is throwing a party because he aced all his interim exams and everyone is invited." Bones placed his hands on Jim's bare chest and slid his fingers down to rest on his hips. Launching himself up from the chair with a grunt of effort and gripping Jim firmly, he maneuvered them both over his bed and dropped them down onto the covers. Covering the younger man with the bulk of his body, Bones nuzzed at his cheek gently.

"I have a better idea. Let's replicate a bottle and just stay in tonight. We have the whole weekend ahead of us, just you and me. And it's a whole hell of a lot better than getting drunk on cheap brew and watching the recently promoted ensigns haze the new recruits. Besides, the last I heard, H'rung was itching to bash your face in and I really don't want to drag your ass home and patch you up. Again."

Jim pressed a kiss to Bones' lips and smiled. "Come on, you never want to go out with me any more. You're happier rotting away in this room like a good little cadet, doing all his homework and never having any fun."

"Now that is a full of shit statement. We go down to the shore a few times a month, and I'm pretty sure we've hit every tourist attraction in the city. And I certainly didn't hear you complaining last night about us staying in… Come on, please? I don't feel like going out tonight."

Pushing Bones off of him, Jim sat up and scrubbed his face with a hand.

"You said it yourself, Bones. We have the whole rest of the weekend to ourselves and I promised H'rung I'd be there. He agreed not to work me over if I helped him hook up with the new Tellarite who came in with the fresh batch of recruits. For both our sakes, we should at least make an appearance. I get myself out of trouble and you can make sure I don't get into any more."

Bones rolled off the bed and moved to the chair, resuming his sitting position at the desk, pointedly not looking at Kirk. "Fine, just go then. But if you get into some stupid fight, don't come back here expecting me kiss your boo-boos better and fix you up with a lollipop afterwards. The clinic is always open and filled with doctors of more patience than I that you can bleed all over."

Jim would have responded but with Bones' back to him, he could clearly see the earlier tension thrumming through his shoulders and bleeding out from his voice. Deciding that Bones could take his attitude and shove it, Jim yanked off his pants, rifled through his closet for some decent partying clothes and was dressed in under five minutes.

He cast a glance back over at Bones, who was now scrolling through a padd in an attempt to ignore his roommate, and walked over to the door.

"Don't wait up."

The door shut before Bones could come back with a decent rejoinder and he decided instead to hurl the padd at the door. It bounced off the metal with a thump and clattered to the floor unscathed, though the screen oscillated on and off for a minute before going black. Standing, Bones moved to the replicator and ordered up a bottle of whiskey.


Shifting in the chair, McCoy was startled into wakefulness as the glass slipped from his lax fingers and shattered on the floor with a loud burst. A giggle erupted from his lips at the sight of the liquid pooling at his feet and he drunkenly got up, wobbling as he made his way over to the replicator. Missing his target, he ended up staring at a blank piece of wall for who knows how long before he stretched out his arm and searched for the button with a questing hand.

"C'mputer, Te'la."

"Request not recognized."

"Ta'ila!"

"Request not recognized."

"Te-qui-la, you daffy robot!"

He heard the sound of the bottle materializing and scooted his body along the wall until he was face to label with the gold rotgut. Scooping it up, he shuffled back to his chair, shards of his previous bottle skittering across the floor in his wake and sat down. Bones set his vid screen to replay the message.


Jim waved goodbye to a few remaining party goers before slipping his hands in his pockets and headed out into the cool night air. The salty breeze felt pleasant on his overheated skin as he wound his way back to the dorm, and he took in a deep breath of sea air. He was extremely proud of the fact that he'd avoided any fights and even more so, that he'd barely hit on a group of the latest group of cadets, who'd been standing around nervously with their drinks clutched tightly in their hands. It was an attempt to get them to loosen up and enjoy the festivities but Jim had politely brushed off their advances once they'd gotten into the swing of things. Bones would be over the moon with him and his maturing behavior, if he wasn't still being a stubborn jackass when he got back.

He had wanted to bring Bones to the party because he had been dying to introducing them around as a real couple for the first time. Kirk had made for himself a pretty bad reputation his first year, but over the past few months after hooking up with Bones, he'd permanently removed himself from the market, and that reputation. Word had quickly circulated around campus afterward and now people were gossiping over who had tamed the infamous Jim Kirk and had been excitedly trying to guess who the lucky soul was.

Bones had been pretty adamant about staying in tonight, even going so far as to seduce him into remaining indoors, which wasn't like him at all. When they had time away from studying, classes and extracurriculars, Bones was usually dragging him out to the city in an attempt to give him some semblance of culture. As Bones had once told him, 'a Southern gentleman is supposed to be well versed in the finer aspects of life', to which Jim had snarked that he was from Iowa, not the South. McCoy had just cuffed him on the head as they'd walked along North Beach, looking out at the distant Alcatraz Island. Instead, he'd accused Bones of being a shut-in for not wanting to go to some juvenile party.

A light bulb spluttered to life over Jim's head and had his fingers not been seeking warmth from the chill night air in his pockets, he would have smacked his forehead for not realizing everything sooner. He'd known that Bones was edgy about something earlier, he had even picked up on it, but the hint had disappeared with Bones trying to get in his pants and their subsequent conversation. Something had happened, and Bones had wanted some small sense of comfort, a shoulder to lean on, but he had thrown in back into his face. This was one of those relationship things that he really needed to work on and Jim swore he would, right then and there, if Bones wasn't too angry with him.

Picking up his pace, Kirk hastened to their dorm, rushing past a few scattered pedestrians with a mumbled apology tossed over his shoulder. Skating through the main doors of the building, Jim called the lift, mentally going over how he could possibly make this up to his lover. He wasn't the type to forgive all over a quick screw and Kirk wouldn't try to demean their relationship by attempting such tactic either.

The doors slid open and he stepped in to the turbo lift, still mulling over his options. The whoosh of the doors brought him back to reality and Jim made his way to their shared room, keying in the pass code. The door opened with a hiss of air and Jim saw that the room was veiled in a pitch black shadow, save for a beam of pale light being cast from Bones' vid screen. It wasn't playing but Jim could see the face of Jocelyn frozen on the screen. This was the only medium Jim had ever seen her in but he could clearly make out the expression of self-importance on her face, and he knew it was never a good day for Bones when she deigned to contact him. The light bulb flashed again and Jim knew then what had put Bones in his weird mood.

Stepping forward into the darkened room, Jim called out. "Hey babe, I'm back. You asleep?"

The words had barely left his mouth when Jim was knocked backward by a solid blow to his face. Crashing back into the wall, Jim was just able to make out the form of his lover before he brought his fist down again. The second punch sent him sliding down to the floor, where Bones used the high ground advantage to kick him viciously in the stomach and legs. Pain flashed hot and intense through his nerves, and instinct told Jim to curl into a ball to block his body and head from the blows. He grunted in agony as a Bones' foot crunched down on his shoulder.

A disturbing, yet familiar popping noise filled the room and Jim cried out as he felt the joint in his shoulder separating, flashes of white blurring his vision in pulsating agony. The thick smell of liquor invaded Jim's nostrils as he felt Bones lean over him and grab the fabric of his shirt in his fist before he slammed his head into the angled space of the wall and the floor. Stars danced in front of Jim's eyes as Bones continued his attempts to bash his skull open. He felt blood begin to pour quickly from the wound and pool in his hair.

Not wanting to hurt Bones but wanting the fight to end, Jim thought back to his self defense training, focusing on how to take down an opponent, without harming them. He brought his legs up to the open space between Bones' body and his own, using the upward momentum to roll their bodies and rock Bones off of him. Once the weight had been lifted, Jim used his good arm to reach over and feel the dislocated shoulder. Under normal circumstances, he'd see Bones to fix it up but seeing as how the man in question had done the damage, he'd have to run it into a door jam to set it back in place.

As Jim went to sit up and assess the rest of his injuries, he felt a large hand close around a clump of his hair and yank.

"This is all your fault, you soul-sucking bitch!"

Bones brought Jim's head down onto his bent knee and Jim felt the cartilage in his nose crack. Blood came rushing out, spilling over his face and into his open mouth as he cried out. The hand twisted in his hair cruelly and Bones shifted so he had Jim pinned face down beneath him, the offending knee now digging in his spine and putting pressure on his shoulder.

Jim shouted and tried to buck Bones off before he snapped his spinal cord, kicking his legs out wildly in hopes of hitting him and distracting him enough to break the hold. Jim knew however that from the way the smell of alcohol was pouring off Bones in waves, he was topped off in Dutch courage and probably wouldn't feel a thing as the poison worked its way through his liver.

Considering also that drunks bent under pressure, his only option was to take the beating in a defensive mode only and pray Bones blacked out soon from all the exertion. If not, he'd end up with more than just a bloodied face and busted shoulder. This thought made its way through Jim's head as Bones began punching his back and sides, hand still clamped tight on his head. Jim could feel every strand of hair that was being pulled from his scalp in clumps as Bones brutalized him.

He tightened up his muscles to fend of the complete force of the blows, waiting until Bones was in mid-swing before he once more tried to make him lose his balance by jerking to his side and rolling over, completely forgetting about his shoulder. The resulting blossom of pain caused Jim to drop his current line of defense as his body was racked by throbbing tremors of anguish. Bones took the opportunity to resituate himself on Jim's chest, crushing his ribs and lungs under his weight, and bringing his fists down on his face once more.

He honestly didn't think he had much more blood in him as his senses were overwhelmed by the fresh flow, and Jim had to concentrate on not choking on the warm fluid filling up his nose and throat. Combined with the increased pressure on his chest, Jim was having a hard time dragging in enough oxygen to stay conscious. The sound of him gagging desperately was drowned out by the dull smack of flesh on flesh as Bones raged above him, the blows coming quicker, to the point where Jim thought his face would cave in.

The edges of Jim's vision began to grow dark and he knew that if he didn't do something, he could, in all probability, die underneath his boyfriend. For as much anger and fear he felt towards Bones right now, he knew that having another loved one leave would break the doctor's psyche irrevocably. Jim couldn't let that happen, no matter what. That and he didn't want to die without getting the chance to prove himself to Pike. In one last burst of strength as the life was being stifled out of him, Jim managed to rock his hips forward violently, sending Bones flying into Jim's desk.

His chin hit the surface with a resounding thump and Bones crumpled to the floor in a heap. Spitting out a mouthful of blood and breathing in deeply, Jim stared at Bones' supine form for a moment. He cautiously stood up and used a foot to position Bones on his stomach before weaving slightly towards the bathroom to clean himself up.


Slowly waking up, a groan of pain filtered from McCoy's lips as he felt the hangover immediately start pounding around his temples. He wanted to bury his head back in the pillow but as he took a deep breath, the scent of vomit and liquor lingered in the air. He knew that when Jim threw up after a night of partying, it never led to a very good morning and he groaned harder. Pushing back the covers, Bones sat up and squinted at the light, greeted to the sight of Jim spinning half circles in his chair while he tried to shovel cereal into his mangled mouth. Bones took in the cuts and bruises littering his face and the staccato movements of his left arm with a raised eyebrow and a shake of his head.

Seeing that Bones was awake, Jim smiled and held up his bowl. "Good morning sleepyhead." Looking over at the chronometer, he shrugged. "Just barely, I might add. Breakfast?"

The smell of bile and the sight of food made Bones curl is lip up. "How the hell can you eat after last night? It smells like a brewery in here for god's sake and you look like death warmed over!" That smile got wider and a cut on Jim's lower lip split open, a droplet of blood seeping out.

"Believe it or not, I only had two beers at the party and was a perfect gentleman to all. That smell is all you, my booze soaked friend."

"Bullshit. I haven't gotten drunk enough to throw up in years. No sense in lying to me, since your face is telling me the whole story."

The grin slipped off Jim's face and doubt began to creep into Bones' head. He knew he had a few last night but years of drinking had built up his tolerance and he had cut back dramatically since enlisting in Starfleet. Lifting himself off the bed with a pained groan, Bones walked over to Jim to look over his injuries. Raising his hand to take Jim's chin in his grasp, Bones stopped when he spotted huge red abrasions dotting his own knuckles.

Stepping back, he lifted both his arms and saw similar marks on his other hand. The skin was torn up and had just scabbed over completely. Confused, he lifted his head back up to look at Jim.

"What the hell is going on here?"

Setting the bowl down on the desk, Jim stood up. Placing a hand on Bones' shoulder, he guided him back to the bed, and pushed on him slightly to make him sit. Kneeling down, Jim tucked his feet underneath himself and laid his head in Bones' lap. Bones immediately brought a wounded hand up, using his fingers to gently stroke Jim's hair and face. Jim closed his eyes and sighed, even when Bones found a cluster of goose eggs, dried blood and patches of missing hair on the crown of his head.

"I saw the message Jocelyn sent you last night." The soothing ministrations paused for a moment as Bones processed that statement before resuming.

"The best I can figure, news of the wedding and the fiancé wanting to adopt Joanna must have struck a nerve. And like an idiot, instead of staying here like you wanted me to and comforting you, I wanted to do my own thing and completely ignored what was going on with you. But I wanted to prove I could go out and behave without supervision and drank very little and kept it in my pants for the whole party."

Bones snorted and traced a finger around Jim's torn lips. "Knew I'd eventually have a positive influence on you some day."

"You don't even know the half of it. Walking back, I realized what an asshole I'd been and rushed back here, fully intent on apologizing my ass off in an attempt to make it up to you. I get all the way up here and I end up getting a fist in the face for my troubles."

Lifting his head, Jim watched the disbelief form on Bones' features.

"I found four bottles of hooch this morning, some strong shit, so I guess you must have got pretty lit because you worked me over real good. Didn't get two steps through the door before you punched my head into wall. Dislocated my shoulder, broke my nose, shattered the bones in my cheeks and damn near suffocated me before I managed to shake you off. You passed out on the floor after that, so I cleaned myself up and set my shoulder. Came back to see you had finally hurled and was glad for it, because I wasn't going to put you in the bed before that happened and I didn't want to leave you on the floor all night."

"Jesus, Jim, why the hell didn't you try to stop me? How hard is it to stop a stumbling drunk?"

Jim pushed himself away from Bones and just stared.

"You weren't some stumbling drunk, Bones, you were on a goddamn warpath! Every time I got you off of me, you came back harder and meaner! At one point, I really thought you were going to kill me."

He lifted his shirt and Bones blanched at the display of flourishing bruises that covered Jim from neck to navel, an angry looking blotch centered on his pectorals. Covering his mouth with a shaking hand, Bones launched himself off the bed and dashed to the bathroom. Jim heard the faint sound of him dry heaving as he lowered his shirt back down, smoothing down the fabric absently. Some time later, Bones reappeared and moved to the bed, reaching under it to grab his med case and pull it out.

"Sit."

Silently, Jim settled on the bed as Bones set out his supplies and proceeded to remove his shirt, Jim lifting his arms without a comment, though there was a fair amount of pained hissing. Bones grimaced, grabbing his tricorder and swept it over his lover's ravaged body.

"You didn't set your arm right and you have some minor organ bruising. The bruises on your chest shouldn't cause any respiratory depression and there is no neural or optical damage that I can see. The zygomatic bone is fractured and the rest is superficial. Now stand up, I need to reset that joint."

Groaning, Jim did as he was told, stretching out his arm and gritting his teeth as probing fingers worked into the muscle in his bicep and shoulder to get the angle right. With a firm grip, Bones pushed forward until he felt the ball settle back into the socket correctly. Jim choked back a cry of pain, teeth clenched at the grinding sensation that vibrated through him and rattled his molars. Motioning for Jim to sit back down, Bones grabbed an osteogenic stimulator and began repairing the damage to his face.

Jim watched as Bones carefully and meticulously closed the cuts to his face with a dermal regenerator and reduced the swelling around his eyes and chest. When Jim saw a tear slip down the doctor's cheek, he gripped Bones' wrist gently, stilling his movements. Bringing his thumb up, Jim swiped away another tear and cupped the other man's face in his hand.

"Come on, you can't blame yourself for this. Not really. I understand why it happened and I forgive you. Hell, after you called me a 'soul-sucking bitch', I knew who you were really fighting, if not the reason why. Trust me, I am the master of deflection through alcohol, as you should well know by now after patching me up so often."

McCoy stared into those impossible blue eyes and couldn't believe Jim's words. "You sound like some airheaded abuse victim making excuses for her attacker. There is no excuse for my actions and I couldn't even begin to ask you to forgive me. It wasn't right of me to take my anger out on you… not like this. But you got to believe me when I say I'll never let this happen again." He sucked in a breath. "If you still want to be with me, that is…"

Kirk grinned and pressed a kiss to Bones' forehead before moving down to his lips, kissing him over and over before finally moving to rest their heads together.

"I do. I really do. And I'll even make you a deal. If you forgive me for being an ignorant uncaring ass, I'll do the same for you. Because if we don't move past this and just wallow in the guilt, you won't be able to fight for Joanna and I would never do that to you. It's too important to let some drunken brawl get in the way of keeping your daughter."

Bones managed to laugh through his tears and brought his hands up to mirror Jim's.

"What the hell did I ever do to deserve you?"

"After all the shit we've gone through, I think fate owed us both a favor. Now, no more crying because the back of my head is killing me and while I'm not a doctor, I don't think you can heal cuts with blurred vision."

"Well, you're in luck, because I am a doctor and a damned good one at that, and I can do just about anything, so shut the hell up and let me do my job."

Bending his head down to give Bones better access, he twined Bones' free hand in his own and held it tight, feeling the tension in the air release when Bones gripped back, knowing then that they could get through this.


To Be Continued...