and i am falling apart under the waves

The first thing that Jim Kirk realizes when he finally stops panicking and his brain catches up is that he can feel everything.

He would like to say that he can remember the attack, but it's only coming back to him in dark flashes and shouts and screams, and it's muddled and awkward. He remembers the moment when he realized that their diplomatic mission was about to turn decidedly undiplomatic. He remembers pushing Bones to the ground and drawing his phaser. He remembers the sharp jolt in the back of his neck as he dematerialized.

Then it's flashes of Bones, mostly, shouting at him. Bones' hands all over him, his face close and terrified though what of, Jim's not sure. The walls of the Enterprise as he's carried down them. The ceiling above the biobeds in sickbay.

When he comes to, he can't open his eyes. It's a while before he realizes that he can't move anything at all.

For Jim, the first few days go by in a flurry of voices and hands pressing against his body. Bones spends several hours trying to get a response from him, only for Chapel to snap at him and tell him to stop poking needles into Jim's toes or he'll get blood everywhere.

It seems as though every minute there's somebody investigating his current situation, but nobody seems the wiser for their efforts. Uhura suggests at one point that Jim could be pranking everybody, and they even consider that until they decide that even Jim wouldn't be able to suppress his laughter when he's tickled that much.

Jim knows who it is from the footsteps – each one measured and precise and perfectly even.

"Status report on Captain Kirk, Doctor McCoy," Spock says, and while he might sound calm and cool there's something in his voice that's not quite right. It's almost a consolation, like they're not managing perfectly without him, and Bones's grip on his hand lessens and he straightens.

"Still no response. His body's still functioning by itself – all the normal reflexes are working, he's breathing by himself. He just isn't moving."

"What about brain activity?" Spock asks, and Jim is waiting for Bones to tell him that there's never been much going on in that area. But he doesn't, he just gently brushes Jim's hair back from his forehead and his voice drops.

"Readings are showing that he's still functioning – but I have no idea on what level. He might be completely cognizant of what's going on but he might equally be hallucinating or barely there. There's not enough to go on."

"And what is your professional opinion on the likelihood of the Captain's full recovery?"

"I haven't come to one yet," Bones replies, and his voice is as tight as his fingers in Jim's hair.

"Doctor, it has been eight days…"

"Don't push me," Bones hisses suddenly, and though Jim can't see anything he can clearly hear that Bones is facing him, facing away from Spock. "You just think about Uhura lying here before you ask me to make that call again, you hear me?"

Spock is silent for a few moments, and then without another word he leaves with the same measured pace that brought him into the sickbay. Bones lets out a long, shuddering breath as the door whooshes shut behind him and bends his head to press a kiss to Jim's forehead, his fingers carding through his hair. And Jim wants nothing more than to lean into the touch, to respond in some way but he can't.

"Come on, Jim. You've gotta give me something," Bones whispers, and settles back down into the chair beside him.

Jim's trying, he really is. He's trying so hard to do something but his body just won't.

Jim first realizes that he's losing days when he wakes up and he can't follow a single conversation that's going on around him.

It's not so much that he's losing days though – more that his body seems to be shutting down for days at a time for no apparent reason and then he wakes as though it's completely normal, and it doesn't feel like he's been out for any longer than one night. So he takes to listening carefully to the people milling around the sickbay, trying to catch the stardate as the nurses do their rounds.

Sometimes he doesn't hear it, and goes for hours wondering if it's even the same month.

He starts making lists to keep himself occupied.

First, it's everybody that's ever slept with. That one keeps him occupied for a while.

Then it's all of the places that he's had sex with Bones, though he realizes after a while that it probably would have been easier to list the places that they haven't had sex.

Then it's the names of all of the Enterprise's personnel. There are three hundred and sixty seven people on board the ship and it takes him a week, but he can remember all of their names.

It's not long before he starts running out of lists. But he can't even sleep to pass the time.

Jim wakes to silence, and for a few frightened moments he thinks that he's lost his hearing as well somehow. But then he concentrates and he can hear the steady humming and beeping of the machines all around him, and then there's a footfalls passing the sickbay and fading back to quiet again.

And then there's a gentle rumbling just behind his right ear that he can feel as much as hear, and he realizes that the warm weight all down his side and across his stomach is Bones. It's a comforting, if not necessarily familiar position – usually, it's Jim that's curled up in Bones' arms, or being embraced from behind. Back when Bones first noticed he went all psychiatrist on him and started talking about childhood issues, and Jim quickly shut him up.

Bones grunts in his sleep and shifts, his hand stroking up and down Jim's ribcage and his feet tangling in the sheets, and his lips brush against Jim's neck.

"Stop snoring, Jim," Bones murmurs and Jim's heart speeds up, until he realizes that Bones is still fast asleep.

It's not if he was snoring, anyway.

During the first two months, all of the bridge crew visit him several times. It's nice, being able to hear their voices even if they're just talking to Bones and not him. It makes him feel less detached from them all, and when they come in pairs they force Bones to go back to his quarters and sleep in an actual bed rather than in a chair beside Jim with a promise that if there's any change – even if Jim twitches – they'll let him know immediately.

"Spock's Pon Farr is due, you know," Uhura tells him as she clicks her fingernails together, the sharp noise loud in the otherwise quiet room. He can hear that she's nervous, even though she's trying to portray a calm and composed façade. "He's already acting strangely. But he says that it'll all be over in a few weeks. There's nothing to worry about."

But Jim can hear that she is worried because for all that Spock has explained it all to her, and for all that she's a smart woman who can make her own decisions about this, it's still something unknown and violent and terrifying.

He wishes that he could take her hand and tell her that it'll be fine, Spock knows what he's doing, he'd never do anything to hurt her. Everything will work out.

But then, she probably wouldn't believe him completely even if he could.

"We've lasted out as long as we could, but we got hailed by the USS Reliant, and Captain Terrell requested to speak with you personally. We had to explain what had happened."

It's beta shift and the sickbay is surprisingly quiet – from the sounds of it Jim's the only one in right now so there's barely any staff around. Bones is sat in the chair that he's claimed as his own for the past three months and he's holding Jim's right hand between both of his own.

"We're being escorted to the nearest station to assess your… condition," Bones spits, as though the word itself disgusts him. "If we're lucky, they'll promote Spock and let him take charge of the Enterprise properly, but I don't think it'll swing that way. Hell, your command never did sit well with those damned bigwigs at the top. I bet they'll stick us with some tight-ass old man to try and sort us out."

Jim can hear the rueful smile, can feel Bones' fingers tracing idle patterns on the back of his hand, but it's not enough. He wants to be able to see him. He wants to be able to return the touch, to pull Bones in for a kiss or a hug or anything.

"I don't even know why I'm telling you all this," Bones sighs, sounding angry and bitter and upset and desperate and lonely all at the same time, and he lets go of Jim's hand. "It's not as if you can hear me anyway."

Jim can't call out and beg him to stay as Bones leaves, his feet dragging on the sickbay floor.

"So this is the infamous James Tiberius Kirk?"

Captain Cardozo sounds just as stuffy and tight-assed as Bones had predicted, and Jim immediately dislikes him.

"Yes, this is Jim," Bones replies, and Jim knows from the tone that this new Captain has already made a few enemies. He wonders for a moment exactly what Cardozo must have done but then realizes that Bones wouldn't like him on principle, and the thought makes him smile mentally.

"He looks younger than in the pictures," Cardozo comments, and Jim wonders exactly which pictures he's talking about. Bones always told him that they airbrushed the photos in the news after the Narada incident. "Too young."

"He's proven himself a hundred times over."

"Oh, I have no doubt that he has," Cardozo says breezily, and from the sounds of it this is a conversation that's been hinted at already. "It was just a passing comment."

"You'd do well to keep those sorts of comments to yourself around here," Bones retorts, his voice taut and cold. "Every crewmember on this ship is loyal to Jim Kirk."

"Some particularly more than others," Cardozo murmurs, and Jim can feel Bones stiffen where he's leaning against the biobed by his shoulder. "And you'd do well to remember, Doctor McCoy, that James Kirk isn't in command of this Starship anymore."

Bones doesn't say anything else as Cardozo strides from the room, but he's so tense that the bed is shaking.

It was only a matter of time, really. Jim realises this and he's accepted it, but he was still kind of hoping that it would never come anyway.

"He's taking up space – space that we will need if we have an emergency," Cardozo presses as the bridge crew crowd around Jim's biobed. "Kirk is showing no signs of recovery, and he can easily be maintained in this state in a different place."

"He should stay here, where Doctor McCoy can keep an eye on him," Uhura points out, and Jim feels a surge of affection for her and the crew as they all murmur their assent. It's good to know that they're on his side, even if he never doubted it in the first place.

"There is no place for him on this Starship," Cardozo repeats, and begins pacing the sickbay. "In this state, there is no place for him in Starfleet."

"Are you implying that it would best serve the interests of Starfleet if the Captain be discharged?" Spock asks mildly, and Cardozo makes an odd harrumphing noise as he paces.

"Not my wording, but yes. He is of no use to the Federation when he's completely unresponsive."

"But what if he regains consciousness?" Uhura says, and Jim mentally agrees with her. If he ever does break out of this goddamn paralysed state then he sure as hell wants to be around to get the Enterprise going again properly.

"It's already been established that Kirk is unlikely to regain consciousness at any point in the near future – and I will not have him taking up valuable room in our sickbay. So there is really only one question remaining – where shall he be transported to?"

"He's not going anywhere."

"This is no longer a suggestion, Lieutenant, it is an order. Commander Spock, I want this issue resolved as quickly as possible as with as little fuss – find out who his next of kin is so that we can get this sorted out."

"I'm his next of kin," Bones says quietly, and Jim can nearly hear everyone turn to stare at him in disbelief. Which is strange in itself because while they've never gone around publicising their relationship it's hardly as though they've tried to hide it, either.

"I know that you care about him, Doctor, but it would be very helpful if you would cooperate."

"I am co-operating," Bones snaps in retaliation, but Jim knows him and can hear that underneath his shortness and anger he's just tired. Tired of it all. "You can check his goddamned file if you want but I am telling you that I am his next of kin, and I will decide what happens to him now."

Jim feels a swell of relief that they'd thought to change that – and then nothing.

It's been three days, this time, Jim reckons. When he comes back to consciousness it's a different kind of silence to the now-customary beta shift silence – there's no background buzzing, no soft footsteps of the medical staff doing their rounds, no tricorders beeping. It's not complete silence, of course, and knowing that is the only thing keeping him from having a mental panic attack.

He's been conscious for nearly five hours when the door slides open – the chrono in this room chimes on the hour, every hour, and Jim finds that it's an enormous relief. The person that's walked in comes straight to him, and Jim knows who it is from the hand that cups his cheek as familiar lips are pressed to his forehead.

"Damn I need coffee," Bones mutters, and Jim listens as he trudges around the room and from the sounds of it, takes off several items of clothing before the food synthesizer beeps from across the room.

It hits him then, exactly where he is, and he's not sure how to describe how he feels about it.

The days drag now that he's stuck in Bones' quarters with nothing and nobody to entertain him. At least in the sickbay there was always someone there, even if it wasn't Bones – always someone to listen to as they walked around, observing other patients or checking supplies.

Chapel would always talk to him when she was on shift – never about anything important things, nothing big or philosophical. Just everyday conversation, gossip that was circulating amongst the female crewmembers, the latest experiment in Engineering.

"Doctor McCoy says not to bother talking to you," she said one day as she ran the tricorder over his body, the familiar bleeps sounding louder than normal. "He says you can't hear anything. But I think you can. Mind like yours, it can't have stopped completely."

Jim listens to the silence of Bones' quarters and decides that once he's back on his feet, Chapel's getting a promotion.

Jim wakes to the sound of a little girl giggling, and wonders if he hasn't finally lost his mind as well as his body. But once his brain has caught up and he starts concentrating, he realizes what day it must be. Which means that this time, he's been out for nearly two weeks.

He's missing Joanna's tenth birthday, and that hurts far more than it should.

"…and Uncle Jim got me this candy from a planet what name I can't pronounce and Emily Jacobsen tried to steal it but I wouldn't let her, 'cos it's special candy and it makes your eyes change color. You should try some, daddy, I bet Uncle Jim could get some for you. Can I speak with him, daddy? Momma said I oughta thank him for the candy."

"Your Uncle Jim can't speak with you now, sweetie. He's not very well," Bones says and Jim can hear the strain in his voice from halfway across the room. He can imagine perfectly Joanna's petulant face too, and he wants to smile.

"But daddy, you're the best doctor in Starfleet. You can make anyone better. Can't you make him well again?"

"I'm trying, Jo. I'm really trying."

Bones' voice cracks on the last word, sounding utterly defeated, and Jim's heart sinks.

When Jim next wakes, it's to hear the shifting of Bones curled up beside him, his breath coming out hitched and rough. And there's a wet patch on his shoulder, and goddamn it but Bones is crying, and that itself it nearly enough to undo Jim completely because it's so unlike him. The noises that he's making are broken and distressed, interspersed with the odd phrase.

"I can't do this any more," Bones chokes, hands clenched in Jim's shirt and he wants so much to roll over and pull him into his arms and whisper nonsense in his ear until he's okay and he's back to normal. "I'm sorry, Jim. I'm so sorry."

But he can't. He just has to lie there while Bones falls apart on his shoulder, and there's nothing that he can do about it.

Cardozo comes to Bones' quarters to discuss the week's events with him every Sunday evening without fail, and it's almost enough to not make Jim hate him. It's the routine that he likes – it doesn't matter how long he's been out for, because Cardozo always tells him the stardate.

It turns out that this time, it's been a few weeks, but he hasn't missed much. Just more research on the planet that they're currently orbiting – a few new species of plant discovered, some fascinating natural geography.

Scotty had another accident in Engineering involving hamster but Cardozo doesn't want to share the details, and Jim's not sure he wants to know either. Sulu's started teaching Chekov how to fence. Uhura's been finding out if Spock's unusual heritage renders him infertile, which isn't really something that Jim wants to be thinking about.

And then he says that Bones has been acting strangely for the past few weeks and all that Jim can think of is the grown doctor crying quietly, pressed up against Jim on the small biobed.

"They laugh at him, you know," Cardozo said conversationally, and Jim would have tensed as he listened to the footsteps as the other man wandered around Bones' rooms. "The admirals, the commodores, the captains – even the cadets. The washout doctor from Georgia who left a trail of empty bottles when he was thrown out of a loveless marriage."

Something hot and vicious rises up in Jim's stomach at that statement – a fierce hatred and protectiveness that he's never experienced before and that alone would freak him, normally. But right now he's too busy willing his body to move, to do anything that'll let him defend Bones.

"The alcoholic who went through the Academy with people nearly a decade younger than him," Cardozo continues, his voice a low drawl that cuts across the room and slides right under Jim's skin. "People watch, James Kirk, and they pay attention. They see the way that he's completely dependent on you; they see that he's useless by himself. That's the only reason they assigned him as your CMO – so that he would spend his time as a decent doctor instead of a complete failure."

The machine hooked up to the biobed suddenly screeches, beeping and buzzing its heart out and Jim only just hears Cardozo's choke of surprise over the machine. And he's barely got time to wonder what's going on before there comes the sound of the door whooshing open and then Bones' voice fills the room, and it's like a breath of fresh air.

"What's going on?" he demands, crossing quickly to Jim and resting one hand on his shoulder as the other taps rapidly at the machine's screen. "Captain, his brain activity is through the roof – his limbic system is flaring up like I've never seen before. What happened?"

"I have no idea," Cardozo says as he approaches the biobed, and Jim can hear the sneer in his voice. "I was merely relaying the past week's events to Captain Kirk when the machines began to respond."

"This is a big deal," Bones presses, his fingers still dancing over the screen even as his other hand curls more securely around Jim's shoulder. "It's the first real change since this happened to him – I mean, it's not quantifiable, but it's something. Maybe his cerebral cortex is still functioning after all."


"Meaning he might still be conscious to some degree – if he's reacting to his environment, that's an indication that he's processing what's going on around him. Hell, he might be completely cognitive but unable to show it."

Jim is so busy mentally cheering for Bones and his brilliance that he's not expecting the hands on his face, the fingers pulling open his eyelids to scan him – and then all he can see is Bones, and his chest aches. He hasn't been able to see him for nearly six goddamn months, and he's missed him. Bones' face is pale and he looks tired, huge bags under his eyes and a few days' worth of stubble over his jaw and his hair stuck up in every direction. He looks more like the Leonard McCoy that threatened to throw up on him four years ago than the Bones that sneaked him onto the Enterprise.

He's the best thing that Jim's ever seen.

They must be somewhere seriously near a star because when Jim wakes it's to shockingly bright light and he blinks slowly, turning his head away from the window.

Then he gasps, his eyes flinging open and his fingers twitching as he raises his head because he can move. And his whole body seems to be working because he starts at the very bottom and works his way up, wiggling his toes and legs and hips and arms and chest and fuck, his neck hurts. He drops his head back onto the pillow with a sigh and pauses for a second, staring up at the ceiling.

He can move, and he grins. It's the first time he's pulled any expressions in a long time, he realizes, and grins even wider until his lip cracks under the strain.


Mindless of his weak muscles he hauls himself into an upright position, the wires from the machines and the tubes from his catheters tangling around his limbs, and he carefully removes as many as he can from his body. There's a few that'll have to be removed properly by Bones, but he's willing to wait.

He looks around Bones' quarters, taking everything in. All of the colors seem brighter, somehow – like the whole world has been saturated. Bones keep his place as perfectly organized as his sickbay, with everything neatly ordered and it's the same as it's always been. That alone is a comfort that he didn't think he'd need.

"Computer," he whispers, and clears his throat to try again. Strange, he hasn't heard himself speak in so long. "Computer, location of Leonard McCoy."

The console on the far wall beeps and comes to life, a gentle whining filling the room as it lights up and takes in his request.

"Doctor McCoy is not currently on board the Enterprise," it replies coolly, and Jim frowns.

"Location of Commander Spock."

"Commander Spock is not currently on board the Enterprise."

Okay, so they're above some planet and Bones and Spock are part of the Away team. Great, they could be gone for any length of time and he just wants someone to come and be excited with him.

"Location of Chief Engineer Scott," he tries, because if there's anyone who'll get excited with him it's got to be Scotty.

"Chief Engineer Scott is not currently on board the Enterprise."

Jim tries again, with Uhura. And then Sulu and Chekov and Chapel and Rand and even Cupcake but there's nobody. Every person that he tries to find isn't currently on the Enterprise, but how long have they been gone? How long was Jim even out this time? A week, two, a month? Maybe a year, he thinks, and his stomach lurches uneasily.

"Computer, what is the current stardate?" he asks, not entirely sure if he wants to know the answer – but as it happens, it's only been a month. He should probably be more worried about that.

It doesn't solve the question of why the ship is deserted and he's the only one here – or how long they've been gone. He stands to cross over to the door, and his legs immediately buckle beneath him – he goes down like a sack of bricks, his head banging off the machine that's kept him fed and watered for the past six months.

He crumples, and laments the fact that as soon as he's regained movement he goes and knocks himself out, and then he's out.


Jim starts into consciousness and winces as a throbbing pain lances through his head, and he's barely got time to remember why he's lying in an awkward heap on the floor with tubes sticking out his body when there's suddenly strong arms slipping under his back and knees and lifting him up from the ground.

"Bones?" he rasps, fingers twitching weakly against warm skin, and Bones drops him again with a choked noise.


"What the…"

"I can't move properly," Jim grunts, trying to push himself into a better position and failing miserably. "My muscles are too weak."

Bones immediately catches up and picks him up again, settling him carefully on the bed and Jim lays his head back with a sigh. This could take some explaining.

"I started moving," he offers, but from the look that Bones gives him it's not much of an explanation. He's scowling heavily and he's concentrating so hard on the machines that it's almost as if he doesn't want to look at Jim. And Jim can't help it – he raises one shaking hand to smooth away the creases in Bones' forehead, and then Bones' whole face relaxes as he leans into the touch with a desperate sort of look on his face.


"I checked the stardate," Jim continues, before Bones says something that he'd rather not. "It's been exactly six months since I got shot. Coincidence?"

"Don't think so," Bones says with a shake of his head, and reaches to take Jim's raised hand in his own. "I've never seen anything like this – it's almost as if they created a weapon that would cause the victim to go into a coma-like state for six months before coming out of it."

"Hardly a coma," Jim scoffs, pressing his head back into the pillow. "I was conscious, you know. I could hear and feel everything, I just couldn't move."

"Don't mess around with me on this, kid," Bones growls, and Jim looks at him in surprise.

"I'm not joking, Bones. I wasn't a vegetable."

"But Spock, he tried to mind-meld with you, but there wasn't… he said there was nothing there. He couldn't find anything," Bones says uncertainly, and Jim quirks half a smile at him.

"Well okay, I was maybe conscious for half of the time. My body couldn't decide, I don't think – I would go out again for days. Really messed up my sense of time."

"So you heard me when I considered that a few weeks ago, when Cardozo was here? You could really hear everything?" Bones asks him quietly, looking down at their joined hands, and Jim nods slowly.

"Yeah. Well, everything I was awake for. And I guess I missed an awful lot, because I had no idea where anybody was when I woke up. It kind of freaked me, if I'm honest."

"Shore leave – we're docked just above Earth. I went to see Jo, the rest of the crew's still all down there. I would have brought Jo up to see you but I didn't want to have to explain."

Jim opens his mouth to reply, ask how she is, but a sudden coughing fit takes over and his body protests painfully at being forced into movement when it's so used to nothing. Bones just helps him roll onto his side, rubbing his back with soothing movements, and Jim squeezes his eyes shut.

"How're you feeling then?" Bones asks once the coughing has subsided, fumbling for a tricorder while still holding on. "Apart from the extreme muscle weakness and very sore throat, are there any problems?"

"Just one hell of a headache."

Bones does move his hands then, but only to run his hands gently over Jim's scalp, fingers investigating and cataloguing and finding the bump from his fall. It's slightly painful when he presses it carefully but the whole gesture is so familiar and comforting that Jim finds himself chasing those hands when they move away from him.

"You think you could get these tubes out of me?" he asks as Bones runs the tricorder over his body. "I want to sleep with you tonight. I'm sick of this bed."

Bones nods wordlessly, and Jim can't help but feel as though he's being unusually quiet and… well. Not so much pleasant as not unpleasant, and it's strange.

He doesn't see the flash of the hypospray until it's too late, and his neck is stinging.

There's something peaceful and calm about Bones in sleep that he never quite manages when he's awake, Jim decides as he looks down at the man sleeping beside him. Sure enough, when the sedative wore off and he woke up his body was free of winding tubes and he was naked in Bones' bed, wrapped up from behind in warm arms.

Bones hadn't moved as Jim had rolled from his embrace, twisting onto his back so that he could look at him properly in the darkness. He still looks as exhausted as he had done when Cardozo had been in the room, but it's lessened right now. He almost looks untroubled and Jim smiles, reaching out to run his hand down Bones' arm from shoulder to wrist and back up again.

"Jim," Bones murmurs, the touch bringing him closer to waking, and he shifts across the sheets to wrap his fingers around Jim's wrist.

It's a tiny movement that makes Jim's heart ache, and he leans forward to press his lips to Bones'. He doesn't respond at first but as he wakes his lips part, tongue slipping out and returning the kiss with a kind of slow, lazy insistence.

"How's your head?" he whispers as he pulls away, blinking sleep from his eyes, and Jim gives a sort of half-shrug.

"Much better – just kind of aches a bit now," he says, sliding his hand down from where it had ended up resting on Bones' elbow to his waist and then hip, thumb pressing into his hipbone and stroking in small circles.

"Good. You'll be back on your feet in no time," Bones mutters, watching him carefully, and his eyes soften as he smiles. "You're okay," he breathes, and his whole body relaxes. "You're really okay."

"I'm really okay," Jim confirms, leaning in for another kiss, and slides his hand further down to wrap around Bones' half-hard cock. And fuck but he hadn't realized just how much he's missed this, the feeling of Bones in his hand and his breathing strained in his ear.


"Missed this, missed you," Jim says as he kisses his way along Bones' jaw, his own erection stirring between them as his free hand roams over Bones' chest, the muscles shivering under his touch. "Missed you so much."

But then Bones is pulling away, his cock slipping from Jim's hand and a dark expression flickering over his face.

"I won't," Bones says quietly, and it's as though he's trying to be the firm and responsible one but there's a tremble to his voice and Jim just wants to touch him. "Jim, I can't."

"You can," Jim insists, moving closer even as Bones pulls away and pressing their lips together again. "Please. I need this."

He must sound fucking desperate but he doesn't even care any more because he no longer feels embarrassed or ashamed or weak around Bones and he needs this sense of familiarity. He needs to feel him, needs to have them completely together to make sure he's not imagining this and he really is okay.

Bones watches him for another moment, his eyebrows drawing together and his lips twisting, before he heaves a sigh and pushes Jim onto his back.

"I would do anything for you, you know," he grunts, kneeling up between Jim's legs and retrieving a bottle of lube from the nightstand, and a flood of relief washes through him. "Anything you ask."

"I know," Jim breathes, and then Bones' skin is on his as he runs his hands all over his body, mapping it out and covering every square inch, lips following fingers and tracing their way to his own cock in a tingling trail that makes his muscles spark in ways that they'd forgotten how, and he moans quietly. Bones reaches his cock but avoids it completely, slipping down to press one slick finger against and then inside his hole, and Jim gasps.

He knows that this must be torture for Bones, because the man's had to go six goddamned months without this when he's used to Jim initiating sex at least every other day. But he's slow and gentle and methodical as he prepares him, taking more time than normal but it's no doubt necessary. Jim's body has been completely inactive, and it's not ready for this. Not really.

But Bones is still giving this to him, and that means more than Jim can quite put into words.

It seems to take an age but finally Bones deems him ready and withdraws his fingers, and Jim feels the loss keenly as Bones leans over him to kiss him softly, hand braced against the pillow by his head as he gives Jim's cock a few slick tugs that bring him dangerously close to the brink after six months of abstinence.

"If you raise your legs, can you keep them up?" Bones asks, a little breathlessly as he spreads the lube over his cock, and Jim so busy staring at it like he's never seen it before that he nearly forgets to answer.

"I don't think I can," he admits, and he hates that his body is so weak even though it's not his fault. But Bones doesn't seem at all fazed – he just gathers Jim up into his arms and lifts his body upwards, pulling him up so that Jim's straddling him, knees pressed either side of Bones' hips. And yeah, he can manage this.

Jim's reminded, very suddenly, of just how strong Bones is as he's lifted a few inches higher, and he braces himself on Bones' shoulder as he positions himself. His thighs are already trembling with the exertion but it doesn't matter, because they suddenly align and he sinks down. Bones grunts low in his throat, pulling Jim in for a kiss and holding on tight and oh God.

Bones pulls him flush to his chest, hard muscles pressed against each other as they move slowly. Bones' arms are wrapped around his back, holding him steady and his own hands are gripping Bones' shoulders weakly as he presses kisses into his hair.

"I've missed you so much and you hadn't even gone anywhere," he whispers as Bones rocks into his body, mouthing at Jim's neck with hot lips. "You were right there but I couldn't touch you."

"I'm sorry," Bones gasps as he rolls his hips, pulling him closer, and another gentle, rippling wave of pleasure washes over him. "I'm so sorry."

Jim's not sure how long they stay like that, shifting together, exchanging lazy kisses in the middle of Bones' bed. He's vaguely aware at some point of one of Bones' hand slipping into the non-existent space between them to wrap around his cock, stroking slowly and gently in exactly the same way that they're moving already. He can feel his muscles exhausting themselves even though he's barely putting any effort in – it's Bones that's holding him up, holding on as he slides in and out in a languid rhythm that's exactly what Jim needs and wants and it feels so good after months of nothing.

Just as he feels as though he's about to melt into Bones, merge with him completely, Bones picks up the pace ever so slightly and his hand tightens on Jim's cock, and he changes the angle ever just that tiny bit to hit just that spot with every stroke. Jim's body isn't strong enough for this but his mind is and that's what matters, and he feels himself rolling slowly towards the edge as Bones tenses under around inside him.

He comes with less than considerable force but it's perfect anyway, gasping into Bones' hair as his eyes roll and his legs completely give out. He feels the slip-slide of Bones inside him once, twice more and then Bones grunts, his grip tightening if it were possible to hold on as though he'll never let go as he climaxes deep within Jim.

They stay like that for a minute, sat up in the large bed with Jim straddling Bones, their stomachs sticky with Jim's come. And Jim feels utterly drained – he's breathing hard and his hands are trembling where they're spread out over Bones' back. But it doesn't matter, because even now Bones is still supporting him and stopping him from falling. But Bones seems to sense how weak he's feeling and he help Jim climb off him and lie down, settling in beside him and pulling him into his chest. It's such a familiar and comfortable gesture that for a moment, Jim can forget that he's not been able to move for six months.

"Thank you," he murmurs in Bones' chest, then twists his head so that he can looks into Bones' eyes. "For not giving up on me. I know how hard it must have been."

Bones doesn't reply – he just stares at him and Jim can't help but stare back. His hair is mussed and sticking up, and he hasn't shaved for a while again – and his lips are swollen and his face flushed and his eyes are saying a million different things, but Jim finds that he doesn't want to hear any of them.

He forces his muscles to cooperate and shifts forward to kiss him, and while he wants it to be insistent and passionate and demanding and all of those things that are in those old books that Uhura reads, he just can't. But Bones reacts anyway, licking into his mouth and pushing a hand into his hair to pull him closer. In all it's a rather pathetic kiss as far as Jim's concerned but it doesn't really matter, because Bones pulls back to press his lips to Jim's temple then guide his head back down onto his chest.

Jim falls asleep to the sound of Bones' heart under his ear, and it's the most comforting noise that he's heard in a long time.

Jim sits down heavily on the sofa, his legs trembling, and looks back at the bed. It shouldn't take him two minutes and several grabs at random furniture to move five meters.

"I don't want the crew to see me like this."

Bones looks over at him from his end of the sofa, and raises an arm for Jim to scoot under before turning back to the PADD in his hands.

"Then they won't."

It takes him a week before he can stay stood up for any decent length of time without feeling as though he's about to collapse, and even then Bones gives him a thorough check-up before allowing him to leave his quarters, and even then he's following about two steps behind. But then Jim wouldn't have him any further away anyway.

The trip to the Bridge has never seemed so long and he has to stop twice to catch his breath and gather his wits, Bones holding him steady, and the whispers and looks that follow him down the corridor would normally bother him.

But right now, he has something that he needs to do, and even the stares of the crew aren't enough to faze him as he steps out of the turbolift and onto the Bridge.

Jim clenches his hand into a fist as he walks straight up to Cardozo, and then punches him square on the jaw. It's a little too much, too soon and he immediately feels weak but it's worth it for the sickening crack as the man's head snaps back at an awkward angle and he stumbles backwards into the chair, sitting down heavily.

Cardozo rubs at his jaw as he stares at him and Jim's aware that the gaze of everyone is on him. But he doesn't care about that. And if his body would just behave itself then he would be right up in the asshole's face, hands fisted in his tunic but he can't. Instead, he stumbles to the side and Bones is right there beside him, one hand on his elbow and the other on his waist as he holds him up.

"If I ever hear you talk about an officer the way you spoke about Doctor McCoy last month then I swear, you'll be thrown out of Starfleet before you've even time to realize that your ass is being kicked out of the door," Jim snarls, and he can see the second when Cardozo realizes what's going on and his face flickers through embarrassment and anger and sheepishness with astonishing speed

"Captain, I can assure you that –"

"Get the hell out of my chair."

Cardozo can't jump out of it fast enough, and the Bridge is silent as Jim shuffles awkwardly to the centre, Bones supporting him all the way and lowering him carefully into it. It's almost as though they don't want to ask, in case they jinx it and his muscles decide not to work again. He glances up at them, and they all look so scared and concerned and amazed that he smiles a little.

"Bones is taking care of me," he explains, dropping his head against the back of the chair. "I'll be back to normal in no time. Now let's get to the nearest spacedock and get all the necessary paperwork done so that I can take back my command and we can start a proper investigation of the guys that did this to me in the first place. Agreed?"

And apparently that's all that they need, because they come to life like nothing's ever happened. Sulu turns in his chair to smirk at him, despite the bags under his eyes.

"There's a station in the next system, Captain. We can be there in about twenty minutes."

Bones' hand slips down to rest on his shoulder and squeezes gently, and Jim tilts his head with a grin to nudge ever so slightly at Bones' wrist. There's enough strength in the grip to keep him going for a while yet before he'll crash.

But then, Bones has always kept him going before. Jim sees no reason why this should be any different.