A/N: I've been debating with myself for a couple of days over whether or not I should post this, and I've finally decided to just bite the bullet and do it. I happen to really like this piece of my work, but I'm worried about how true it is to the characters, and whether or not it's just...overdone, I suppose. I've read a lot of fics about Jim being abused by his step-father, and I do think that it fits with his character, which is why I decided to write this little one-shot. I really wanted to play around with the idea of Jim encountering Frank again for the first time in years, and as I went with the idea it changed into this. It was meant to be a Jim/Bones friendship fic, but--as you'll see--it had other ideas and took a twist at the end. Any mistakes are my own, and I'd really like to know what people think about this! Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Not mine, never mine.

Warnings: There are mentions of child abuse and rape. This is also slash, so if you don't like it, don't read it. And if you don't like it but read it anyway, don't come crying to me afterwards. I suppose I should also give warnings for language, since certain characters *coughBonescough* like to curse. A lot.

Past Demons

It's been a long, weary trek through space by the time that the Enterprise returns for their first shore leave. The crew is exhausted; ready to kick back and relax in what they hope will be a tranquil visit to a quiet part of Earth. Unfortunately enough, that quiet part of Earth happens to be Iowa, and they are unlucky enough to have James T. Kirk as their captain—which, of course, means that nothing will ever be simple or quiet.

As they head down to the planet's surface they pointedly try to ignore this last fact. Surely Jim Kirk can't get in that much trouble on his home planet, can he? There is a sense of excitement throughout the crew, excited chatter about plans for their vacation time, and Bones' voice over all of it saying "I might throw up on you."

Jim rolls his eyes at his best friend. "You didn't throw up on me the first time, Bones, you'll be fine this time. We're almost there."

"Thank God."

The crew around the pair exchange amused glances.

The shuttle lands and the crew trickles out of the cramped area—or, in Bones' case, run out—and once they step blinking into the bright Iowa light they congregate into their preferred groups. The command crew gathers together almost subconsciously, automatically falling into their comfortable roles. Months of being together and almost dying several times can bring people together like that, and the seven of them are close.

"So, vere to first?" Chekov asks, his eyes bright.

Jim stands in the center of the group, smiling maniacally and rubbing his hands together. Bones gives him a wary look—recognizing the expression on his friend's face.

"Jim…," he says warningly.

Jim only grins more widely. "Just follow me gentlemen." He pauses, looking at Uhura. "And lady." She wrinkles her nose at him, sneering. The man takes off and the group—some of them more slowly than others—follows.


They end up in a bar. It's your run-of-the-mill, average, booze-selling bar, although there are, perhaps, a few more rednecks than usual. Uhura takes one look around and her eyes narrow; she shoots Jim a look and he just smiles cheekily, leaning against the bar.

"Familiar, Uhura?"

She rolls her eyes and turns away from him, towards Spock. Bones leans closer to Jim, forehead furrow. "What's that all about?"

Jim gives him a cryptic kind of grin, the one that says he's never going to give a straightforward answer. Bones rolls his eyes and waves his hand at the bartender, calling for a drink. The man places a Bud Classic in front of Jim, a shot of bourbon in front of Bones. The two men pick up their drinks and head over to the corner where the rest of their group has monopolized a booth and a table which they pull over.

For a while, everything is fine. Uhura and Spock carefully keep their distance from each other—but by this point everyone knows that they're a couple and if their hands brush briefly now and then, no one makes comment. Scotty kicks back drink after drink, recounting hilarious tales in his thick accent and making them all laugh. Chekov can't hold his liquor and is soon giggling at every little thing—and Sulu, with a sly grin on his lips, seems bound and determined to get the Russian whiz kid as drunk as possible. Jim begins a story war with Scotty and the two sling increasingly outlandish stories at each other, as Bones rolls his eyes and interjects dry, sarcastic comments every so often.

And for once, for once, no one is trying to kill them and they don't have to be diplomatic and they don't have to be formal—not that they ever are—and they can just relax, because the world isn't about to stomp down on them.

Which is, of course, exactly what happens.

"Well, well, well, Jimmy the war hero's back in town." The slightly slurred, entirely hostile voice says, cutting through their laughter.

Jim, whose back is to the man, stiffens as though he's been shot by a phaser. Bones's gaze is immediately on Jim, not on the man towering behind him. There's a look of pure shock on Jim's face, and Bones has known the man long enough that he also catches that flash of fear that chases its way through Jim's blue gaze.

Jim slowly—every move carefully controlled—places his beer on the table. His shoulders square back and his jaw sets; he pushes his chair back and stands and turns. His eyes are flat as he looks at the man.

"Hello, Frank."

The man smiles humorlessly, sweeping his hard gaze up and down Jim's body in a way that makes Bones growl deep in his throat. The man's face is craggy; his eyes are dark and bloodshot where they should be white.

"Figured you'd run off and gotten yourself killed, Jimmy. 'Till you showed up on the holovids, 'course."

"Don't call me Jimmy." Jim says, his voice hard. "And clearly you weren't too worried, Frank."

"Oh, I went lookin' for you, Jimmy. Never thought you'd run and hide off planet."

Jim's fists clench. "I didn't run and hide. Don't ever think I'd hide from the likes of you."

Frank smirks. "'Course not. You'd never be such a coward."

"Captain?" Spock says. Jim seems to jerk a little, as if remembering that his friends are there behind him. He looks at his first officer, seeing the questions there. He opens his mouth to reply but Frank cuts him off with a short laugh.

"Captain. That's funny, Jimmy. Captain—you? You can't even take care of yourself. You can't even win a fight, never have been able to. You've always just been…weak."

Jim's hands form fists; for a moment his figure jerks and then stills, as though he were about to lash out. Frank's eyes dare him.

"Captain, who is this man?"

Frank looks at the half-Vulcan and then back at Jim, his eyes taunting. "Didn't ya ever talk about me, Jimmy? No? I'm hurt, really. I'm shocked that you wouldn't mention your step-father to all your little friends here."

Uhura's mouth forms a round little 'o'. Scotty's jaw drops; Sulu and Chekov exchange confused glances. Spock's eyebrow lifts in that perpetual expression of his. Bones' hand clenches into a fist and his body is tense.

A muscle pulses in Jim's jaw. "I think it's time for you to leave, Frank."

"Not having fun, Jimmy? You used to love this so much. You used to beg." His tone is lecherous, and the double meanings behind his words are clear to everyone in earshot. Jim's ears go red and he swallows, not daring to look towards his crew. "Before you ran away like a little coward."

"Leave, Frank."

Frank tilts his head. "Still got that scar, Jimmy? The one on your thigh? You know, the one you got when I—," his words break off as Jim moves with sudden, fierce violence. His fist lands solidly on Frank's jaw and the older man stumbles backwards. Frank's eyes are dangerous, challenging.

"Still got a little fight in you, eh Jimmy? You always were wild. Except when you were under me, helpless, broken, worthless." Jim goes white and red and then a roar breaks out of him and he rushes forwards. His hands reach for the man's throat; Frank's fist catches him in the stomach and the breath rushes out of him. He reels back and then rushes forward again, but hands catch him, holding him back. He thrashes for a moment, before he recognizes Bones' touch.

He shakes his head, clearing his sight, and sees that Frank is pinned against the bar, held by the iron grip of Sulu and Spock. Chekov stands in front of the man, his expression fierce and angry, and he looks to be seriously considering kicking the man in a very sensitive place. Scotty places a restraining hand on the seventeen-year-old's shoulder, but there is a calculating gleam in his eyes, that says he is thinking up some very nasty things to do to Frank. Bones holds Jim's shoulder tightly, but his grip slowly lessens as he realizes that Jim is done fighting. Now his hand rests lightly on his friend's shoulder. Uhura stands in front of him, waving a hand in front of him.

"Captain?" She says, her voice soft. He sags a little and gives her a nod. She straightens and they both turn towards Frank.

"Captain?" Spock asks, catching his attention. "What should we do with this man?" His grip on Frank looks painful, and seems to tighten. Frank winces and Jim feels a vindictive kind of pleasure in that fact. It doesn't last long though.

Jim stares at his step-father, who sneers—the expression is so familiar, even after all these years, that Jim's stomach turns—and Jim takes an automatic step backwards. He feels bile rise in his throat and he shakes his head.

"Let him go. Get him out of my sight and toss him out and let him go. He's a pathetic man who is going to die alone; let him."

"You're the pathetic one, Jimmy. Have to have other people fight your battles? You've never been much of a man—," he cuts off with a sharp gasp of pain as Spock's grip tightens.

Jim closes his eyes, unwilling to look at him anymore.

"Jus' let 'im off scott free?" Scotty says.

Jim turns away. "I don't give a damn what you do with him. Just get him out of here."

Sulu and Spock drag the man out of the bar, Chekov and Scotty and Uhura following along. "You can't get away from me, Jimmy! Not ever!" Frank shouts before the sound of his voice is drowned out. Jim stands in the middle of the crowded bar that has fallen silent during the course of the incident. Bones stands in front of him, silent but there.

Jim closes his eyes, and his step-father's face is there. The memories start to roll, like a movie on a picture screen. His eyes snap open and he trembles. Him, James Tiberius Kirk, the fearless captain of the Starship Enterprise, trembling.

"Jim?" Bones says, standing in front of him, reaching a hand out to touch him. He recoils from the touch, stepping back, and he sees the flash of hurt in Bones' eyes. Then he shakes his head—because the rest of him is already shaking—steps back again, mouths the word sorry, and runs.

He flees from the bar, the door slamming heavily behind him. He runs through the night, turning out to the road and just running, letting the physical motion takes him away. Faintly he hears footsteps behind him, but his heart is beating so loud that he's not sure what is real and what isn't. Finally he slows, and turns to find Bones slowing down a pace behind him. The sight of his best friend standing there, panting, breaks him.

He retches violently, spewing vomit on the asphalt beneath him. He sinks down into a crouch, one hand wrapped around his stomach as he shakes. And Bones is there, instantly, a soft hand on the back of his neck, another one on his shoulder, steadying him.

"It's okay Jim." His best friend says.

And suddenly everything pours over him. His knees hit the ground and he crumbles, sobs choking him. Bones is there, first pulling him up and bodily carrying him out of the street and over to the side. Then warm arms wrap around him and he cries like a child into the chest of his best friend. Over the sound of his sobs and over the roar of his thoughts—and the memories—he can hear Bones' voice murmuring softly. Bones isn't known for his bedside manner, but the man holding him now is gentle and strong and it makes Jim cry even harder.

When he finally stops, numb and empty, the first clear words out of his best friend's mouth are: "I'll fucking kill him."

Jim almost laughs, because that is just so irrevocably Bones.

"I thought about that a couple of times myself." He says, in a raspy, harsh voice.

Bones stiffens a little and then relaxes again, never removing his arms from around Jim's torso. They sit in silence for a moment. "You never told me."

"What, that I thought about murdering my step-father? It's not the kind of thing you bring up in polite society."

He's not looking at his friend's face, but he can visual the eye-roll anyway. He sees it clear as day in his mind. "About any of it. Dammit, Jim! I've known you for four years! I'm supposed to be your best friend! Hell, I was your roommate! And you never even mentioned any of this. I mean, you hinted that your childhood wasn't exactly happy but this…."

"What exactly is 'this', Bones?" Jim says in a dark voice. "The fact that my step-father beat me to shit on a regular basis? The fact that he made me his bitch, the fact that he raped me—?" his voice broke a little. "I just wanted it to be over," he whispers.

"It is over," Bones says. "If he ever comes near you again I'll kill him." He says it with total sincerity and Jim believes it. He shivers and plucks at his sleeves.

"I thought that if I was in Starfleet he'd never be able to find me again. I just...I couldn't even bear thinking about being near him again. He just...he makes me feel small. Weak. I was always so helpless around him. Every time I ran away he'd find me." He looks away, biting his lip before he speaks. "Every time I'd try to kill myself, I'd end up surviving, and he would just gloat."

Bones stiffens, and this time he pulls away. Jim shivers a little at the loss of contact, but Bones maneuvers around so that they are face to face, his hands on Jim's shoulders. "You what?" He says, his voice flat. Jim looks down, avoiding his gaze.

"Tried to kill myself," he whispers.

Bones' eyes narrow and he puts a hand under Jim's chin, lifting gently. "When?" He says in a quiet voice.

Jim sighs, closing his eyes. "Which time?"

There is a short silence. "How many times were there?"

The weight of the confession is heavy. "Four. The first time I was twelve. Drove an antique car that belonged to my father off a cliff. I jumped out at the last second. The second time I was fifteen. Popped pills, but I didn't take enough. It just knocked me out. I got lucky that time. The third time I tried to drown myself. Walked into the water and didn't come up. Someone saw, jumped in and dragged me out. I was seventeen there. The last time I was nineteen. Cut my wrists." He pulls back his sleeve and now Bones sees what he missed all those times he patched his best friend up—pearly white scars, barely noticeable, running the length of his forearm. "Someone found me and stopped the bleeding, got me to a hospital. Frank was there that time. My mom was off planet, and he was listed under my emergency contacts for some stupid reason." He shudders. "He came and stood over me in the hospital bed. Called me pathetic. Couldn't even kill myself right." He laughs shakily, the sound bitter.

Bones is silent and the confession down the air between them. Then Bones gently lifts Jim's arm, pushes the sleeve back farther, and runs his fingertips over the white scars. Jim shivers at the touch.

"How did I never notice these before?" Bones murmurs and it seems more as though it is a thought that slipped out than a real question.

"Well, usually when you patch me up I'm bleeding pretty good from somewhere else so…." Jim says, forcing his pitch higher into a mimicry of joviality. Bones eyes met his and he has to look away. The doctor runs his thumb over the scars again, feeling the difference between the smooth skin and the slightly raised marks.

"You've saved me so many times, Bones…," Jim whispers. "Maybe I was supposed to die one of those times. Maybe you should have let me." The last is said so quietly that it is little more than a breath of warm air rising into the colder night. But Bones hears it and it makes his entire body stiffen.

He grabs the collar of Jim's shirt, pulling the man closer, and Jim's head whips around, startled. "You stupid bastard," Bones growls, just moments before he smashes his lips over the other man's mouth. It's the first time they've ever kissed—soberly, anyway, and where both parties can remember the act later—and for a moment Jim is stiff, but then he is kissing back just as fiercely. On the side of a highway, in the dark, in the middle of Iowa they kiss fiercely, holding onto each other as the world is going to break around them. Bones breaks off the kiss and glares at his best friend. "If I ever hear you say anything like that ever again, I'm going to…drop you off on a planet overrun with Tribbles!"

Jim's eyes widen in horror—not entirely feigned either—but his mouth quirks in a grin. He opens his mouth to say something, but Bones isn't done yet.

"I don't care what happened in the past. I don't care what happened with your step-father or with your mother or anything. I don't care how many times you tried to kill yourself, but you listen to me, James Tiberius Kirk. If I ever get even a hint that you're thinking about offing yourself…trouble, Jim. Big trouble. There are people that love you, you idiot."

"I haven't thought about it in a long time, Bones. Not since I got to the Academy. I've been happy. I am happy." He shudders. "Frank just brought it all back up." He seems to shrink a little. "God, I hate that man."

"I'm going to kill him."

Jim smiles and pats Bones on the shoulder. "No homicide, Bones. I can't have a murderer as my CMO. It's just bad for business. And ironic."

Bones growls low in his throat, but his lips tug into a smile. He rises to his feet, pulling Jim along with him, and they shake out the kinks in the limbs. Jim turns to begin the walk back when Bones catches his arm, pulling him back. Jim turns and finds Bones shockingly close again.

"You know that I love you, right?"

Jim smirks. "Are you going mushy on me, Bones? Going to start writing greeting cards with flowery expressions on the inside? I think you'll lose the respect of the medical community, but you'll make a killing at it…Dammit woman, I love you!" Bones doesn't make a quip back and Jim's smirk softens to a real smile. He presses a quick kiss to the other man's lips. "I know."

And with no further mushy expressions of feeling they begin the walk back to the bar where their crew awaits.

"What do you think the crew did to Frank? You said no killing but…."

Jim smirks.

"With any hope Scotty sent him to the same place he sent Admiral Archer's beagle."

Bones pauses for a moment, and a slow smile crosses his face.

"It still hasn't reappeared, has it?"

Jim's smirk widens.


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