Disclaimer: If I owned Star Trek, someone would have told me by now.
AN: Written for a prompt, as most of my fics are. Leonard McCoy dies, or comes damn close.
I still miss someone.
"What'll ya have, slim?"
The female voice washed over him and a cold shudder shot up from the soles of his feet. The blonde face before his eyes faded out with a snap and he opened his eyes. It was a strange sensation, particularly given that he hadn't closed them...just sort of managed to open them again. As his eyes adjusted, sensation swept across his limbs.
It was a hot day, sticky as the devil, and the damp air smelled heavily of citronella, cigar smoke, and heady perfume. A thick breeze dashed down the back of his neck—he could hear the lazy, off-balanced swish of the ceiling fan behind him—and the lacquered counter beneath his hands was cool and smooth. He was aware of the various pains and sensations in his limbs and squinted his eyes as he felt them ebb away into the humid Georgia air.
Someone was shaking his shoulders, and someone was pounding on his chest with an electrical pulse. He looked down to find himself perfectly unscathed—his favorite shirt and jeans pushed a smile across his face. Someone pulled his arm, clutching at his hand and wrist, and he looked up, flexing his fingers—his head rushed and a sharp spike pushed down his neck, pulling him back to the bright-lit sickbay and his shouting staff, if only for a second. The image faded, burst apart like smoke, and he shook his head.
"Seven seven," McCoy drawled loosely and regarded the bar. He was seated on the fourth chair down from the end, facing a wall covered in still photos and framed news papers. A wall-mounted vid screen blared pointless weather and sports statistics at him, over his shoulder, and he could hear the hum of Georgia summer at his back. He knew, surely as he knew there were two doors and a pool table behind him, that the room was completely empty. Completely peaceful.
"So this is heaven, then?" McCoy complained to himself. The non-woman behind the bar wasn't there, but his drink sure was. With a sigh, he picked up the perspiring glass and took a long pull off the scathing liquid—it hit his lips, strong and bracing as the first time he'd had it, and it made him smile. Somewhere behind him, a jukebox clacked and the first familiar chords of Hey Porter! resounded against the wooden walls and the soft, musky bar.
"Least they have good taste in music," McCoy commented, appeased by the subtle nostalgia of the situation—everything was fresh and old, daresay romantic, and it was easy to relax into it. A cold shot pushed up his spine and McCoy's smile abruptly pulled back down into a scowl. "Hey, pal, if ya'll are lookin' to wet that whistle of yours, I'd suggest ya try another joint."
Silence followed his statement, and then a quiet, unfamiliar chuckle cut the atmosphere.
"I take it, if I tried to change it to Bob Dylan you'd disapprove?" the voice behind him was even, proper, and had a Northwestern crispness. He sounded like Denver and McCoy didn't like it.
"Them's fightin' words, pal," McCoy growled lowly, eyes fixed on his drink. He tensed as the jukebox clicked, his fingers tight on the damp glass. Five Feet High and Rising plucked through the classic speakers and McCoy relaxed—the stool next to him creaked as Denver took a seat.
"Can I get a high-ball?" Denver asked the non-woman behind the counter and McCoy snuffled indignantly. The glass clinked against the bar and McCoy focused on his reflection in the lacquer. "So, you're Leonard McCoy."
"Now you got your drink," McCoy started as he swished the remaining liquid in his glass, "its high time you moved along, pal."
"I declare," Denver announced dryly and McCoy whipped in his chair to glare at the man. An insult ready to go—How dare this guy disturb his perfect heaven! God's sake, couldn't a man enjoy an eternity in peace?--McCoy snapped his glare on the man at his side. His ire faded as quickly as it appeared, and he blinked at the familiar unfamiliarity of the man dubbed Denver.
His eyes were a startling blue, his hair light blonde, and his face had a familiar cocksure, sober strength. McCoy stared at him for a long while, and the man regarded him evenly as he nursed his high-ball. With a sigh, McCoy leaned onto his drink-arm's elbow and arched an eyebrow at the man.
"What is it you want?" McCoy prompted and the man blinked at him, all fake innocence and eyes. McCoy's chest tightened at the sight and the man grinned.
"What makes you think I want something?" Denver asked, suddenly all contrary and difficult. McCoy's frown deepened.
"Well, the fact that I ain't never seen you before, and you sure as sin won't leave me be," McCoy pointed out as he threw back the rest of his drink—another appeared at his side. "Now spill it."
"Well, Len," Denver started and slouched on his stool. "While it's a pleasure to meet you," he prefaced, his irritating lilt too thin, too unlike Jim, "I'm afraid you can't stay."
"Well, look at Mr. Big Britches here," McCoy folded his arms across his chest. "And just what do you know that I don't—Jesus page you and tell you to drop on by?"
Denver's smile took on a sad shade and he stared down at the glass in his hands wistfully. With a sigh, he set the mostly full concoction back on the bar. Silence settled between them for several seconds, only the off-kilter ceiling fan and the hitch-click of the jukebox to ease the tension. Cry, cry, cry came on and, finally, he spoke up.
"You can't stay here, Leonard," the man repeated lowly, unable or unwilling to look McCoy in the eyes. "God only knows you deserve it." McCoy had the distinct impression that the idiom was, ironically, completely unrelated to the current situation. "But, you're not quite done yet."
"Oh?" McCoy prompted. His voice held less gruff edge than he'd intended it to—the familiarity of Denver was getting to him, mucking up his stomach and his brain, spinning him about.
"My boy needs you, Leonard," he announced softly and McCoy was silent. The distant sounds of children and crickets danced through the moist air. McCoy's eyes fixed on the man next to him and a heavy weight settled in his stomach. "He needs someone," the addition had a self depreciating quality that McCoy didn't know how to digest, "and you're the man for the job."
McCoy turned from him slowly, stood up and pushed away from the bar, his drink and the non-woman forgotten. His hands sunk into his jean pockets and fisted against his thighs—he stared blankly at the gaudy exterior of the fuchsia jukebox. It hitch-clicked and there was static for a long, indeterminate moment as McCoy was absorbed in thought. When the next song came on, McCoy didn't recognize it at first.
'Oh I never got over those blue eyes, I see them everywhere.'
"I Still Miss Someone," McCoy clarified, more to himself than to Denver. He stared at the jukebox, unseeing, and time seemed to hover around him, stagnant and impenetrable as the Georgia heat. His scowl softened with contemplation and he sighed.
"Is he in trouble?" McCoy asked—though he waited, there was no answer. When he turned around, he was alone again—only the mostly full high-ball remained on the counter. His dark eyes took in the bar sedately. He stood for a long time, just considering Jim Kirk, and cussed under his breath as he turned and walked out the screen door, into the blinding sunshine and heat.
Sensation came back to him all at once, without the gentle nostalgia of death, and McCoy cried out as it did. His arms were numb, his legs too, and his chest ground against itself like shattered glass on concrete. His eyes snapped open and the bright lights of sickbay nearly blinded him, but for the stark shade caused by Jim Kirk's head as it rose from his side. His vision was bleary, but he could make out Chapel's shoulders as they slumped in relief, Spock's approach, and Jim's blue eyes as they eclipsed his vision.
"Goddammit, Jim," McCoy croaked and Jim's shocked face pulled into a grin so broad he might actually hurt himself with it. "I'm a doctor, not a squeeze toy—get off."
"Hey," Kirk defended and his voice caught lightly—McCoy was keenly aware that he'd yet to back off, even if he released all the pressure on his chest. "The power of my proximity brought you back from death—a thank you would be nice."
"Whatever, Denver Jr.," McCoy drawled and Kirk's expression churned with confusion, "Leave me be, I'll deal with you later."
"Denver Jr.?" Kirk questioned quietly, but McCoy didn't answer him. As McCoy's eyes slipped closed, Chapel pulled Kirk away and he could swear he heard the hitch-click of that jukebox.