A/N: Finally complete!
This is a hurt/comfort fic. As I understand the genre, H/C is not supposed to be about gratuitously hurting your favorite character. Rather, the process of pain and recovery should reveal something new about him or expose him to a challenge that causes him to grow in a different way. I hope I have done that here - please let me know.
This story is a sequel to CMO Confidential, which I am in the process of editing and expanding. I invite you to read that as well.
Warnings: This chapter is rated M (mature) and contains K/M slash. Please do not read if you find that offensive. It also contains reference to past abuse.
McCoy lets a week go by before he touches Jim again.
He backs off to give him time, but doesn't let him brood or stay alone. He keeps him on light duty for two days, hauling him into Medical twice a day for physiotherapy; Jim gives him a vaguely hurt look when he sends Christine in to instruct him on the exercises, but he pretends that he doesn't see it. He uses his override to restrict the replicator in Jim's quarters to coffee and tea (Jim hates tea), ensuring that he has to go to the mess if he wants to eat. He assures Spock that Jim can be freely consulted regarding any and all areas of ship's functioning, and tells him that writing reports would be a good way for him to exercise his recovering arm muscles (Jim hates paperwork, but McCoy knows that Spock will follow his medical advice to the letter).
When Jim goes back to active bridge duty, McCoy is there, unobtrusively. After the daily briefing for senior officers, he hangs around the bridge and chats with Uhura and Chekov and Rand, watching Jim out of the corner of his eye. Jim puts on a good show, keeping up a constant light banter with Sulu and Spock, alternately needling Uhura and flirting with her, and teasing Janice Rand about her new hairstyle. But McCoy sees the way he fidgets and moves restlessly in his chair. He's full of nervous energy. He gets up and paces, sits down, swivels, crosses and uncrosses his legs, as if he can't find a comfortable position.
When McCoy comes up behind him and casually lays a hand on his shoulder, Jim flinches. He tries to cover it—"Forgot you were there, Bones, don't you have work to do?"—but their eyes meet for a moment, and Jim knows that he saw it.
When he comes to Jim again, he doesn't give him advance warning. He wants an element of surprise. Jim's a master at tactics; he doesn't want to give him time to strategize and build his defenses. The look Jim gave him on the bridge was warning enough; he's skittish and scared.
When he enters the dimly lit room, it's late. Jim's lying in bed on his back, frowning at him as if he's interrupted something. "Hey, kid. You look pretty beat." Jim looks exhausted, in fact, and not particularly pleased to see him. "What're you reading?" McCoy asks, gesturing at the PADD propped up on his knees.
"Nothing much," he says. "Spock's legal complaint to the colony."
Fuck. "Jesus, Jim. That's hardly a bedtime story. Why are you reading that now?" he asks, shaking his head. "You need to get some sleep."
"Well, when am I supposed to read it? I have to do it when I'm alone," he says, eyes guarded. "I don't have any time to myself during the day."
"No, I guess you don't." McCoy feels a slight pang of guilt, knowing that he has given orders to do exactly that: keep the captain occupied and interacting with his crew.
"Stop giving me that doctor look," Jim says. "I'm fine."
"You're doing better," he says. "But you're not fine" is left unsaid but hanging in the air, and Jim scowls as if he can hear it.
This is a bad time, McCoy thinks. Whatever he has planned for the evening is not going to work. Jim's closed down, unwilling.
McCoy glances at the PADD. He's read Spock's complaint, of course, and he wrote the accompanying medical report detailing the captain's injuries. The language is dry, factual; hours of horror have been rephrased into words like intent to injure and pain and suffering inflicted deliberately and aggravated sexual assault.
The legal jargon makes the whole experience seem distant and unreal, devoid of emotional overtones, like it happened to someone else. Naturally, Jim is drawn to it. He's used to suppressing and avoiding painful memories, letting them fester in some corner of his mind. He locks everything up in a drawer, and slams it shut.
It's like an abscess, he thinks; a defensive reaction that has become a painful, pus-filled lesion of shame, self-loathing and disgust. The abscess is the body's attempt to encapsulate the infection, but that prevents the immune cells from attacking and healing it.
McCoy's a surgeon, and he knows that there is only one way to treat a wound like that: open it and drain it.
A few more minutes go by in heavy silence, as Jim deliberately ignores him and continues reading. McCoy watches him, eyes flicking over the words, brow furrowed. Jim chews on his lips in an unconsciously childish gesture.
"Do you want me to go?" McCoy asks, finally.
"Do whatever you want."
"Jim, put the PADD down."
"I'm not done," he says, not looking at McCoy.
"It can wait." When Jim still doesn't respond, he grabs the PADD out of his hands and tosses it on the floor.
"What the hell did you do that for?" Jim asks, sitting up and glaring.
"Is there something in it that isn't accurate?" he asks. "Do you want to add to it?"
"I know it must be pretty unpleasant to read," he says, but Jim interrupts him with a shake of his head and a dismissive hand gesture.
"Going through it was unpleasant," he says with a bitter laugh. "This is just nauseating. Page after page of the badass armed perpetrators and the fucking helpless victim. Spock's words, in black and white."
"You were a victim, Jim. There was nothing you could have done and none of what happened was your fault!"
"Well, that's the thing," he says slowly. "Maybe some of it was."
"What are you talking about?"
"I could have stopped them…" he says bitterly. "Or at any rate, I could have resisted more."
"How, Jim? They had guns and knives and they damn near killed you."
"You have no idea—"
"Then tell me. Come on, help me understand! Why the hell are you blaming yourself?"
In the dim lighting of the cabin, Jim's eyes are hooded, dark. He lies back on the pillow and stares up at the ceiling. He looks defeated.
"I gave up," he says quietly. "I let them do it."
"Let them do what?"
"I stopped fighting," he says. "I stopped trying."
"You mean the rape."
Jim nods miserably. "I didn't fight back," he says again. "I let it happen and I just…lay there, waiting for it to be over."
"What else could you have done?"
Jim ignores the question, shakes his head. "It was just like before. The first time, I mean." He pauses. "With Frank."
"With your stepfather," McCoy says flatly. Oh, damn. McCoy knows that Frank was physically abusive to Jim when he was a child; the man was incarcerated for domestic violence when Jim was thirteen. If it was Frank who raped him, then it must have happened when Jim was that age…or even younger.
"I can't stop thinking about it, Bones."
"About the rape?"
"About what I did," he emphasizes. "Or what I didn't do. About how fucking passive I was."
McCoy allows himself a moment of boiling rage at a twisted bully masquerading as a father figure and at perverted fanatics who fight for a "cause" with their dicks and their knives. Then, with an effort, he calms himself. His anger isn't going to help his friend.
"Jim," he says, "listen to me. You were a young boy when it happened the first time, weren't you? How old were you?"
"Twelve, I think. Almost thirteen." His voice is small, hollow.
"How the hell were you supposed to fight back then? You were just a kid and he was a big guy, a security officer. You were protecting yourself, which was all you could do. You can't blame yourself…"
"It wasn't like that. I pushed him into it," Jim whispers. "I did everything I could to hurt him. I laughed at him, insulted him, I ruined his tools, I tried to hit him, I made him hit me. I did everything I could to make him feel like shit, and in the end, he just…" He stops, swallows. "He fucked me, just once. Then I drove the Corvette into the quarry, and you know the rest of the story."
McCoy nods; Jim told him that part, not long after the Narada incident, when he first became CMO.
His expression is defiant. "If you're going to tell me that it's not my fault again, you can just fuck off, Bones. You weren't there, you don't know. I do. God," he says, looking disgusted, "I swore to myself I'd never let anything like that happen to me again, and then when it did, I did the same damn thing."
McCoy wants to grab him, shake him, tell him to stop blaming himself. But he knows that Jim has lived with shame and self-hatred for so long that they're ingrained habits.
"Just shut up for a minute, dammit! I do have something to tell you, and you need to hear it. After that, if you want, I'll leave. But you're going to listen to what I have to say," he says firmly.
Jim isn't looking at him. His shoulders are hunched defensively, as if he's steeling himself against McCoy's words.
"I'm CMO, Jim."
"It's my job to tell you things that you don't want to hear."
"So talk. I'm listening."
He takes a breath, tries to keep his voice gentle and calm. "Pay attention, kiddo. You've kept that secret for a long time, since you were a young boy. You never told anyone, and you tried to deal with it on your own. You should never have had to do that, but you did. You're strong now, and you were strong then. But the thing is, nobody ever helped you to look at it differently. You're still seeing it through a child's eyes, don't you understand that? Children"—abused children, he thinks, but doesn't say that—"blame themselves, even when they're not at fault. Even very, very smart children," he smiles slightly, "think that they're responsible, when they're not! And I don't care how annoying or pig-headed or angry you were, Jim, you didn't make that man beat you to a pulp and you didn't make him rape you. He was supposed to take care of you, and he didn't. That's the only fact that matters."
Jim is silent, unmoving.
"And it's true about what happened to you on the planet, too. They were holding us hostage, and you did what you were trained to do. You told them who you were and tried to help the people under your command, and nothing that happened after that is your fault. And damn it, if you stopped fighting and just tried to survive, then you did what you had to do."
He steadies his voice and looks at his friend. "I'm so sorry they hurt you, Jim, but I'm grateful that you made it through. That's the only thing that I care about."
Jim looks at him, finally, a muscle in his cheek twitching. "I thought I was over it. I stopped thinking about it, but now…it keeps coming back to me. And that really sucks."
"Move over, kid," McCoy says. "Make room for me."
Lying next to him, McCoy nuzzles along his neck, brushes his lips against his cheek, and traces along his jawline with his finger. This close up, he can see the fine pink lines that are the fading scars, travelling along his cheekbones and down his neck, disappearing under the high neckline of his shirt. Jim closes his eyes, sinking into his touch, but McCoy can feel a tremor run through him.
He runs his hands under Jim's shirt, feeling the taut muscles, the racing beat of his heart, the thin bump of scar tissue over the still-healing incision. Jim's arms tighten slowly around his back, and McCoy presses his mouth gently to Jim's, stroking his hair, fingering the earlobe where the skin is so soft.
But Jim surges up and kisses him roughly, pushing his lips apart and probing with his tongue, sucking hard on McCoy's lower lip. McCoy realizes belatedly that Jim doesn't want tender, and he doesn't want slow. He doesn't need McCoy to be gentle; he's angry, so angry that he can hardly contain his fury.
He pushes McCoy onto his back and grinds into him, pressing his weight onto him. One hand tangles itself in McCoy's hair and pulls hard, and the other curves around his neck. Jim squeezes and kneads the muscles there, and then digs his fingernails, hard, into his back.
McCoy hisses. "Whoa, there, kid," he says. "Take it easy." But Jim shakes his head in annoyance. He can't take it easy, McCoy thinks; he wants aggressive and heated and fast. He bites and sucks at the tender skin just above McCoy's clavicle and it stings. McCoy grunts and grasps Jim's shoulders, pushing him away forcefully and sitting up.
He strips off his shirts in one quick motion, tossing them over his shoulder onto the floor. Then he pulls Jim up into a sitting position, tugging and fumbling with his clothes until Jim is naked, feet planted firmly on the floor and slightly apart. He's hard already, McCoy notes, which is a far cry from the long, agonizing process they went through last time. Jim pulls him down impatiently so that he's kneeling between his legs. "Do it now," he says, and his meaning is clear.
It's quick. McCoy bends down, grasps him at the base, and draws his tongue along Jim's length. He runs his other hand up Jim's inner thighs and balls, and then flicks his thumb over the head. Jim moans, a soft sound in the back of his throat. He slowly begins to rock his hips back and forth, one hand pressing lightly on the back of McCoy's head. He closes his eyes, and McCoy uses his mouth and tongue and teeth to work him over until he's breathing hard and sweating. Jim's other hand roams over his back, his shoulders, and his neck, his fingers clenching, bruising.
"More…Bones…" Jim says, and McCoy knows that he's close. He digs his fingers into Jim's hips, steadying him and guiding him, as Jim gasps and grunts and tenses suddenly. McCoy sucks hard as his cock throbs and pulses in his mouth. Jim shudders, then slowly, slowly he relaxes back onto the bed.
"Bones," Jim says, and he startles out of a light doze. One arm is draped over Jim's abdomen and the other snaked under his head. It's already going numb, so he tugs at it, curling it under his own pillow.
"And take that damn override off my replicator and let me eat here in peace if I want to."
McCoy smiles. "Okay."
"And you can tell Spock that it's not actually medically necessary for me to do four hours of paperwork a day."
He laughs. "I said that your arm muscles could use moderate stimulation. Four hours was his own interpretation."
Jim's voice is slurred, sleepy. "And tell Rand that she can back off on the quarterly crew reviews. She's after me to interview the entire engineering crew, all forty-seven of them, this week."
"Tell her yourself, you wimp. That was her idea, not mine. Now let me go to sleep."