A/N: This is a fic inspired by a prompt over on the LiveJournal Community st_xi_kink. The prompt was as follows: Five times Bones had a damn good excuse for kissing Jim and one time he didn't.
I realize that this is rather ridiculously long for a 5+1 fic. It… got away from me.
Leonard McCoy tried his hardest to ignore the leering of the cadets packed close to them by the crush of people in the bar. At first it had been kind of fun to watch them make the rounds, some of their victims taking the dare, others ignoring them, and one annoyed woman slapping the lead cadet across the face and leaving a reddened handprint on his cheek.
Then they'd set their sights on James Kirk, The Man Who Couldn't Turn Down A Dare.
"Jim, this is the stupidest thing you've done since subjecting yourself to the Kobayashi Maru for the second time."
"Says you. Besides, I can hardly pass up a dare, now can I?"
"Yes, actually, you can."
James Kirk rolled his eyes and tossed back another shot, slamming the glass down on the bar once finished. "Come on, Bones. Don't be such a buzzkill."
"It'd take more than a refusal to make out with you to kill your buzz, Jim."
Jim tried offering up a pout. "Aww, Bones, haven't you ever wanted to try the James T. Kirk experience?"
Leonard just glared.
Jim sighed and leaned over Leonard's shoulder to signal to the bartender, whispering in McCoy's ear as he passed. "If we do it the meatheads will cover our tab, Bones. Since we're both broke as hell that would pretty useful, don't you think?"
Leonard closed his eyes and counted to three before responding. "So when you invited me out to the bar 'on you' and then proceeded to help run up a healthy sum on our tab, what you really meant was..."
"That I'd figure something out. You know me, I'm resourceful."
Standing this close to Jim, Leonard could smell a hint of his aftershave and feel the tickle of Jim's breathing against his neck. He had a vague thought that he might be interested in kissing Jim if the situation were different, but…
The cadets who'd suggested the bet in the first place were starting to get bored and restless and Leonard suspected that their one chance to leave the bar unescorted by security was about to disappear.
So he did what any overworked, slightly drunk man would do if he had an early shift in the morning and no desire to spend the night in jail - he grabbed Jim by the shirtfront and kissed him.
After the initial half-second of surprise, Jim poured all of his effort into the kiss, grabbing Leonard's neck and pulling their mouths together even more forcefully.
Their interest once again engaged, the cadets whooped and loudly counted off the required number of seconds.
The taste of alcohol on Jim's lips, the heat of their skin, and the sound of his own heartbeat, however, proved to be a pretty good distraction.
Leonard pressed his mouth to Jim's again and forced air into his lungs.
Damned planet with its damn transporter dead zones and its damn paranoid townspeople.
Damn paranoid townspeople with their damned drugged darts and their far too accurate aim.
And damn him for not fighting harder when they'd wrestled away his medical bag while he and Jim were trying to make their escape from the local authorities.
At least their communicators still worked. Even if the Enterprise couldn't beam help directly to them, it could get a landing party close enough. He hoped.
And Jim still had a pulse. That narrowed the drug down to the ones that only affected the respiratory drive without damaging the cardiovascular system. He even had a reversal agent that would likely work. If he'd had his bag, that is. Which he didn't. Damnit.
Leonard could feel fatigue pulling at him. First a fight, then a failed attempt at a smooth escape, followed by dragging Jim what felt like halfway across the planet as the Captain's energy steadily flagged and then failed.
Leonard would be fine, though. He had no choice. He could keep this up as long as Jim needed him to. He would, damnit.
It felt like a long time had passed - a lot of cycles of breathing and checking Jim's pulse, at least - before Leonard looked up and felt overwhelming relief at the sight of a landing party headed swiftly his way over the rocky terrain.
Spock was the first to reach them, dark eyes surveying the situation and assessing the damage.
Christine Chapel arrived steps behind Spock, medical bag already open and hands busy assembling the proper hypospray and dosage almost before Leonard could spit out his orders. At her arrival, Spock backed away and Leonard could hear him ordering the other members of the party to take up defensive positions around them, phasers at the ready.
Christine held the hypospray to Jim's neck and depressed the trigger. Leonard could hear the hiss as it engaged. Winded, he sat back and they waited for a reaction.
Jim remained still.
The sun shone brightly and Leonard felt sweat drip down his neck. Had it been this hot and bright the entire time he'd worked on Jim? Surely he would have noticed before now, wouldn't he?
The heat, his perspiration, must be the reason his vision was fuzzy and his eyes stung.
Still no reaction.
Leonard was already leaning towards Jim to continue the rescue breathing when he saw Jim's chest rise, then fall, and heard a soft sigh of air as it escaped Jim's throat. He watched his friend's chest rise again, and then again, before he finally sat back and exhaled in relief, finally able to just breathe for one.
Later, after mission reports were filed and a recovered Jim was kicked out of Medbay for excessive whining, Leonard sat at his desk and stared at the bulkhead.
It was going to be a long week if he had to continually endure Jim's ribbing and waggled eyebrows as he teased Leonard about the antiquated lifesaving measures to which Leonard had been forced to resort.
Because, despite what Jim might tease, it wasn't a kiss. Leonard knew that. It was just him having to save Jim's sorry carcass on a backwater planet packed with unfriendly locals. Again. And that's all there was to it.
Damn cocky starship captains.
"So let me get this straight," Leonard began, speaking out of the corner of his mouth to Uhura while still managing a polite-but-pained smile towards the Gessian delegates lined up before them. "They asked for our help treating a new and impressively virulent strain of swamp influenza that is decimating the population of their capital city, but they will only allow married medical personnel into the wards where the sickest patients are being treated?"
"Well," said Uhura, pausing a moment to reflect back on the explanation offered by the apologetic lead Healer. "A more exact translation is 'joined to another' so 'married' is a close equivalent. This culture holds a strong taboo against contact between unmarried individuals past the age of adolescence and offworlders. I believe in the past there have been incidences of illicit affairs…"
"What, only the single ones get frisky with the aliens? Haven't they ever heard of adultery?"
Uhura frowned. "I did not think that now was the appropriate time to question the friskiness of any of the planet's populace. Sir."
Right, Leonard thought. That would be the 'sir' that really means 'jackass' so perhaps now would be the time to stop gabbing and start doing.
"How about if they send in a chaperone to monitor us?"
"I already asked them and they do not believe that would satisfy their Elders." Uhura paused and pressed her lips together for a moment before continuing. "Doctor, I don't think the delegates are looking to examine your marriage license. I think that, considering the grave situation, they will be satisfied with any sign that we are, er, joined to another so they can tell their Elders that we've met their cultural requirements."
"So you're saying to lie to them."
McCoy surveyed the rest of the landing party. His medics, Morgan and Bhaskar, actually were married, so they were fine by Gessian standards. He barely spared a glance at Uhura; Leonard had no wish to risk suicide-by-Vulcan. Nurse Chapel and Dr. M'Benga had long-since grasped the situation and were now holding hands and faking some pretty convincing googly-eyes at one another.
That left him with the choice between abandoning the sick Gessians, or choosing between the brutish security officer and Jim.
Not a hard decision after all.
Leonard strode over to Jim, wrapped one hand around his neck, and pulled him into a lengthy kiss. He wanted to make sure that the Gessian Healers had no cause to question them, after all.
Jim looked slightly off-balance when the kiss ended and Leonard took a moment to enjoy the ego boost that gave him. Then he shouldered his supplies and turned towards the hospital ward and his waiting patients.
"My research would suggest that the compound ingested by the Captain is highly toxic to humans," stated Spock, sounding to Leonard's ears about as worried as the Vulcan ever got.
"So you're telling me that they handed him a cup of an unknown liquid and he just tossed it back, no questions asked?" Leonard couldn't keep the incredulity from his voice. He really shouldn't be surprised by this sort of thing anymore; Jim had managed to top himself time and time again, after all.
"The Council indicated that they would consider a refusal to drink from the ceremonial goblet a rejection of the right to appeal and an acceptance of Ensign Chekov's and Lieutenant Sulu's guilt," Spock replied. "They would have proceeded with the execution immediately."
Leonard pressed the heels of his palms against his eyes for several seconds but when he lowered them the situation had not changed.
Chekov and Sulu remained in chains, standing disheveled and grim-faced between four burly guards with spears. They had been stripped of their communicators, tricorders, and anything else the Enterprise could use to get a transporter lock on them.
Leonard stood with Spock by the stairs leading out of the pit. He'd responded to Spock's urgent summon in record time, beaming down to the planet's judicial arena and racing down the stairs, only to be met by several guards and a very grim Spock. The guards had only backed off after Spock had assured them that Leonard was "him," whatever the hell that meant.
Several yards away underneath the Council's stone dais, Jim sat alone on a bench. Sweat lined his brow and Leonard detected a tremor in the hand that held the ritual sword he'd been given. As Leonard watched, Jim stared at his shaking hand for several moments before laying the sword at his feet and clamping his hands against his thighs.
Leonard shook his head and refocused on the discussion. "Once the Council decided on our officers' guilt, the only way to change the decision and stop the punishment was to ask for the right to 'celestial determination?'"
"Yes, Doctor. As I stated when I first contacted you, Lieutenant Uhura's studies of this culture are extensive and-"
"And what that means," Leonard interrupted, "is that someone must enter into a goddamn fight to the death against one of the Council's warrior representatives, the results of which these nutjobs will accept as a divine ruling?"
"It is not a fight to the death, Doctor. Merely a fight until there is a decisive victory for one side or the other." Spock cocked his head to the side slightly. "I do believe that the council would consider the death of one of the combatants decisive."
"And Jim volunteered for this?"
"I believe the Captain felt he had no choice, despite my attempts to assure him that-"
"And then he drank poison."
It was more of a statement than a question, but Spock chose to reply anyways. "The Captain has an..." Spock paused to search for a suitable word, "active sense of responsibility to his crew and felt he was the only appropriate person to accept this challenge. In order to officially do so, the Council requires that both participants drink from a sacred goblet containing a substance said to attract the attention of the gods so a determination may be made."
"And this 'substance' will kill them? I'd call that pretty damned decisive."
"Actually, Doctor, it does not appear to have a strong effect on the native population. The Captain's opponent will merely experience an increase in heart rate and a mild sense of euphoria. It acts as a slow-acting toxin to the Captain."
"The Captain ingested the poison approximately fifteen minutes ago and I would anticipate that the damage to his internal organs would become irreversible within one hour." Spock held up his tricorder so Leonard could view the known information on the poison himself.
"I don't suppose you've determined the antidote yet?"
"Indeed, Doctor. I have managed to procure a sample from our Intelligence contact on the planet." Spock removed a small vial from a pouch on his utility belt. "Once ingested, it should neutralize the poison very quickly."
Leonard could feel his blood pressure rising at an alarming rate. "And why have we been standing here having this little chat instead of pouring it down Jim's throat?"
Although his expression did not change, Leonard could almost imagine that Spock's tone became slightly chagrined. "It would appear that once the challenge has been accepted neither competitor may eat or drink until a victor has been decided. Furthermore, they may only have contact with one person prior to the battle, which is why I have been unable to get close enough to the Captain to give him the antidote."
"One person? And I'm to assume from my presence here that I am that one person?"
"Yes, Doctor. As the Captain's declared next of kin, you are the only person who may contact him prior to the challenge. The Council suggested it was to allow Jim to put his affairs in order."
"Great." Leonard suspected that the Council did not have a high opinion of Jim's ability to survive their twisted little challenge. Little did they know. "Gimme the antidote."
"Spock handed him the vial, the exchange hidden from view between their bodies. "I only have one dose, Doctor, and you will be searched prior to allowing access to the Captain."
"Don't worry; I've got it under control."
Leonard uncapped the vial and, obscuring the move with a faked cough, poured the vial's contents into his mouth. Not exactly an advanced trick, but the clock was ticking.
Spock merely raised an eyebrow.
The guards stopped and searched Leonard before he reached Jim. They removed his belt and took away his tricorder, examined his shoes closely, and even ruffled through his hair. Leonard simply glared at them.
Either they didn't notice or they didn't care.
When the guards finally made a little waving motion towards Jim, Leonard was more than a little pissed off, an emotion that he did not care to hide from Jim.
Seeing Leonard's face, Jim jumped up, losing his balance at the abrupt movement and nearly stumbling before righting himself. He was very pale. "Look, Bones, it's not like I had much choice-"
Leonard simply grabbed Jim and pulled him in, bodies crushed together, lips meeting. Keeping his eyes open, Leonard could see the surprise in Jim's eyes when he forced the other man's lips open with his tongue and passed the liquid from his mouth to Jim's. Leonard brought his hands up to Jim's neck to block any view of Jim's swallowing and prayed that his scheme would work.
No one stopped them. There might have even been a soft titter of laughter from the onlookers.
Once Jim finished swallowing the liquid, the kiss changed slightly, becoming softer, lingering. Leonard could feel Jim's tongue brush across his own upper lip; feel Jim's warm hand on his back. There was a soft huff of breath against his mouth when Jim laughed and Leonard felt Jim card a hand through his hair.
They remained pressed against each other, forehead to forehead, for several minutes in an effort to give the antidote time to work. Leonard talked the entire time, distracting Jim as much as he could. He told Jim exactly what he thought of this harebrained stunt and of all the horrible tests he was going to run on him when they returned to the ship. "Every vaccination known to man, Jim. And some I'll discover just for you. You won't be able to sit for a week when I get done with you."
Jim just laughed softly and kneaded his hands against Leonard's shoulders.
When they broke apart Leonard could see the Jim's color was already improving and the tremors were gone.
Jim smirked and tapped his lips. "You have the best ideas, Bones." He stepped back, hefted the sword, and tossed off a jaunty salute towards Leonard, then walked into the center of the arena to take his place for the battle.
His involvement in saving the planet had helped Leonard gain some serious goodwill points from The Ex. They were even on speaking terms as long as they restricted their conversational topics to Joanna and the weather. That sense of goodwill had meant that Leonard could finally have more contact with his daughter, and eventually extended beyond merely allowing messages to include visits during his Earth side shoreleave.
The ship's current return to Earth happened to coincide with the Christmas holiday, and Leonard was shocked when Jocelyn had agreed with his suggestion of allowing Joanna to spend two days with him on board the Enterprise. Although all of the crew would be given some leave days on-planet, they were due to depart on their next mission on the day after Christmas. Command staff and department heads were expected to be onboard ensuring their stations were in order at least 48 hours prior to their departure. Leonard had dreaded being stuck counting hyposprays and signing off reports while knowing that his daughter would be celebrating Christmas on the planet below without him.
"I'm trying, Leonard," Jocelyn had said when she'd seen the surprise on his face. "Having a relationship with you is what's best for Joanna, and being civil to one another is probably better for us, so… I'm trying."
They had agreed on a time for Leonard to pick Joanna up and transport her to space via shuttle – no child of his would be dissolved into her component atoms and sent flying through space to rematerialize with her feet sticking out her ears! – and when he would return her safely home. Leonard's thanks and well wishes at the end of the transmission were the most heartfelt words he'd spoken to Jocelyn in a long time.
And now Joanna was on the ship, asking questions, romping the decks - within reason and under constant supervision, of course - and charming every crewmember in sight.
It was quite possible that allowing an eight year old child on board the bridge of the Federation's flagship went against Starfleet protocol, but since it's was Jim's idea in the first place Leonard certainly wasn't going to question it and risk disappointing his ever-curious daughter.
She'd taken a particular liking to Spock for some reason and had spent an amusing three hours with him at the science station peppering him with questions. Spock had seemed slightly bewildered by her attentions, but answered her many questions readily enough and had even informed Leonard that Joanna "showed great promise in her academic ability and scientific interests."
Uhura thought the whole exchange was hilarious and winked at Leonard as she collected a photo of Spock and Joanna standing together with their heads bent over a screen in fascination.
Sulu and Chekov also endured numerous variations upon "What's that do?" and patiently showed her what each button on their consoles did and why.
Jim, for his part, seemed to enjoy showing off his ship to someone who was so openly delighted with it. He even allowed Joanna to sit in the command chair and give "orders" concerning important decisions such as which type of punch to have (purple and yellow) and how many cookies to serve (a million, but no raisins) at that evening's Christmas party.
Leonard realized later that he should have been more suspicious when he'd caught Jim whispering something into Joanna's ear that made her eyes grow huge and caused her to clap her hands over her mouth to smother a giggle. He'd watched as Jim continued to whisper and saw Joanna nod her head up and down enthusiastically.
"Are you corrupting my daughter, Jim?"
"Not at all, Bones. I'm simply conferring with her regarding decorating ideas for the party. She's got excellent taste, after all."
Leonard had raised an eyebrow at Joanna, who agreed, "Just decorating, Daddy, stop worrying so much."
Due to the number of crewmembers who'd expressed interest in the onboard Christmas celebration, several conference rooms were being used for the festivities to better fit the crowd. Leonard hadn't considered how inconvenient this could be until 2200 hours when he'd begun searching each room and their adjoining anterooms for his missing daughter. Leave it to Joanna to disappear as soon as the thought of getting her ready for bed crossed his mind.
Joanna had clearly had fun chatting, singing, and playing games with her new "space friends" well past her bedtime and had only started showing signs of weariness twenty-five minutes ago, though she denied it vehemently. Leonard negotiated with her and they had decided that she would be allowed to remain at the party for another half hour provided that she brush her teeth without complaint and agreed to forego that night's bedtime story.
And now, with the clock ticking down, she'd disappeared. Definitely spending too much time with Jim, Leonard thought with a grin. Next thing he knew, rule breaking would become second-nature to his bright little girl and then they'd all be doomed.
As expected, Leonard found Joanna with Jim. The latter was talking with Scotty, Chekov, and Uhura in a small anteroom off of Conference Room 2. Jim held the girl against his side while Joanna rested her head against his shoulder, eyelids drooping dangerously. Catching sight of her father Joanna snapped them open wide and scrambled to be released from Jim's grasp.
Before he could even remind her of their deal, Joanna said urgently, "Wait Daddy, one more minute. I wanna show you something!"
Despite his intention to be firm with her, Leonard decided to humor her for a few more minutes. She sounded so excited and it was Christmas after all.
Grabbing Leonard and Jim, Joanna pulled her willing captives over to the corner of the room that held a Christmas tree, complete with lights and ribbon. She then dropped their hands and gazed at them expectantly, looking very proud of herself.
"It's a very nice tree, Joanna, but all of our presents are back in-"
"No, Dad. Not the tree," Joanna said with exasperation. "Keep looking."
Jim rolled his eyes and started to laugh. Sure he was missing something important, Leonard looked at the other occupants of the room for a clue. Scotty was grinning hugely and both Uhura and Chekov were laughing, though Uhura tried to hide her mirth with a hand over her mouth.
Leonard noticed all three of their gazes switched between him, Jim, and a spot above their heads. He turned back to his daughter with suspicion blooming in his gut. Joanna smiled sweetly and pointed upwards. A piece of mistletoe hung from the bulkhead.
Leonard groaned. "This was your idea, wasn't it, Jim? You used my daughter for your nefarious purposes?" Leonard tried to sound stern, but suspected that he'd failed miserably when he couldn't keep the laughter out of his voice.
Joanna looked affronted. "I helped, Daddy! And what's 'nefarious' mean?"
"I'll tell you later," Jim told her before turning to Leonard. "And I was thinking of something a little more private, actually." Jim gestured to the onlookers observing their predicament with amusement. "But I was called away so I put Scotty in charge of helping Joanna with the placement of certain decorations. Remind me later to sign him up for a lecture given by Admiral Archer sometime soon."
Joanna began to get impatient. "Well, are you gonna kiss or not?" She crossed her arms over her chest and frowned at them both, and Leonard was blown away at how much she looked like him when she did that.
"It is traditional, after all," said Jim, smiling at Leonard.
"Yeah? Since when are you a slave to tradition?"
"Seems like now's as good a time to start as any." Jim's smile turned into a leer.
"Well, I suppose I shouldn't resist the one time you decide to play by the rules." Leonard drew Jim in, kissing him lightly at first, then with increased pressure. He felt Jim's hands wrap around his back and shoulders, and Jim responded enthusiastically to Leonard's touch.
They didn't go overboard; his daughter was standing right there after all. Still, Leonard felt pretty damn good about all things Christmas.
Maybe they could arrange holidays in Earth's orbit more often.
+1. Because He Really, Really Wanted To
Joanna left the Enterprise late on Christmas Day so she would arrive home in time for gift-opening festivities with her mother and stepfather before bedtime.
Leonard had to blink a little moisture out of his eyes when he stooped to pull her into a hug on the shuttle platform. Lieutenant Sulu muttered something about running a few diagnostics and escaped back inside the shuttle.
"Be good for your mother, Jo. I'll miss you, sweetheart."
"I'll miss you too, Daddy." Joanna squeezed him as tightly as she could. "Can I visit again soon? I liked being on your ship!"
"I don't know when we'll be back next, but bet we can work something out, okay?"
"Okay. I'll send you messages every week. Mom said I might be able to get a puppy soon and I can send you pictures!"
"A puppy, huh? That's a pretty big responsibility."
"Yeah, that's what mom says, too. I can do it, I'm gonna get books and holos and everything to show me how! And I think I'll name him Jim! Do you think Captain Jim will like that?"
Leonard laughed out loud. "I'm sure he'd get a kick out of that, Jo."
After two more hugs and one last, longing glance up at the darkening sky, Joanna turned and ran into her waiting mother's arms. Jocelyn swept her up swung her around. Leonard could hear his daughter's shriek of delight. After a few moments, Jocelyn raised her head from Joanna's hair and offered Leonard a small wave.
Leonard waved back, and mouthed "thank you" to his ex-wife. She nodded and smiled at him before turning towards the waiting transport that would whisk them away..
Back on the Enterprise, Leonard stood in his quarters, noticing for the first time how quiet they were without a child's laughter and chatter to fill them up. The trundle bed that Joanna had slept in was folded in the corner of the room, ready to be taken back to storage in the morning.
But the room was a little bit brighter than it had been before Jo had visited, too. His grandmother's old quilt, gifted to him and Jocelyn at their wedding lay across his bed. Jocelyn had sent it up to him with Joanna as a peace offering of sorts. She'd known how much it meant to him to have that connection with his own childhood.
Several new pictures of Joanna were now scattered across the room on bookshelves, his bedside table, and his desk. In his closet hung his Christmas present from Jo: a t-shirt with the phrase "That's Doctor Dad to you, Missy!" on it.
His quarters felt a little more like home.
Leonard was deciding between turning in early and heading to his office in Medbay to catch up on work when the door chimed. "Come in."
The door open to reveal Jim and Leonard motioned for him to enter.
Jim looked around. "Quiet in here."
"Yeah, I was thinking the same thing."
Jim held a bottle of an unlabelled but likely highly intoxicating substance in one hand and a chess board in the other. "I figured you might want a bit of cheering up." He placed both items on Leonard's desk next to the picture of a smiling Joanna in a swimsuit and holding a trophy. "You're choice whether you need the distraction of being destroyed in chess or the oblivion of Scotty's hooch."
"Thank you, Jim." Leonard looked at him quietly, considering, until Jim began to squirm under the scrutiny.
"I don't suppose we could convince The Ex to let Jo join Starfleet at the tender age of eight, could we? I don't think Chekov would mind losing the title of youngest member of the crew."
"No way would I let my kid tag along on the insane missions we get wrapped up in, Jim." Leonard said. "Joanna might have the fortitude for it, but I'd certainly never survive."
"Maybe if I got Jo to ask. You're kind of a pushover where she's concerned."
"Not in this instance, I think."
"Too bad. She makes a good accomplice." Jim's mouth quirked a bit. "It'll be a shame to have to wait three more years to see the mistletoe again."
"Sneaky bastard." Leonard grinned back, and nodded, decision finally made. "There are no witnesses now, Jim, and I think I have a far better idea for distracting me."
"Oh?" Jim raised his eyebrows and smiled.
That was all the answer that Leonard needed. He approached Jim and drew him into a long kiss.
"Yeah," Leonard said as he herded Jim back towards the bed. "Who needs mistletoe?"