A/N: All right, all right. I'll admit it! Hi, my name is JC and I'm addicted to Star Trek. I can't help it! It's taken over my brain! And thus I have about a million one-shots that are either finished, in various states of being written, or just plot bunnies running circles in my mind. This is one of them. It is lightly implied pre-slash Jim/Spock, which you could just as easily read as friendship, and it is also Bones/Jim friendship. Any an all errors of any kind are mine and mine alone (but point them out if you spot any!). I admit that I have an extremely difficult time writing Spock, so he might be a little out of character, and if he is let me know! Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I'm a bored college student playing around in a far bigger sandbox.
The question that Chief Medical Officer Leonard H. "Bones" McCoy faces far too often for his liking it: where in the bloody hell is Captain Kirk? The questions that often follow right on the heels of this first one are: how did he almost kill himself this time and where is he bleeding from now?
It is for these reasons that, upon finally making his way to the bar where most of the Enterprise crew has congregated during their shore leave, he enters a mild state of panic when he discovers that their oh-so-fearless leader hasn't been seen in over three hours. This state of panic only increases when his interrogations of the crew add details to this time line.
Approximately three hours previously Captain James T. Kirk was seen leaving through the front entrance of the bar, carrying at least two bottles of whiskey—although some sources report that the alcohol in question was scotch, and still others insist that it was bourbon—after which he has not been seen since. One Ensign reports that she heard the revving of an engine only moments after Jim left, yet no one else had left the bar and no one entered directly after that.
And thus, fitting the pieces of the puzzle together, Bones is worried.
Jim Kirk can get himself into trouble faster than any other person he knows, and he can get himself in deeper as well. This would be fine if Jim was also capable of getting himself out of trouble, but Bones knows the man far too well. His captain—and best friend, and most frequent patient—has an innate knack of getting himself into more trouble than he can handle. And while he can hold his own in bar fights and charm his way out of trouble with the ladies (sometimes), Bones knows very well that whatever kind of trouble he's getting into right now, he won't get out of alone.
Bones immediately leaves the bar, with its noise and its boisterous atmosphere. He walks out into the slightly chill Iowa night and finds a place far enough from the door that the noise is drowned out. Then he pulls his communicator from his pocket, vowing that he will kill Jim if the man doesn't have his communicator with him and turned on.
But the communicator beeps and he can hear the sound of rustling on the other side. He heaves a sigh of relief, because at least Jim is alive, wherever he is.
"Jim, where in god's name are you?"
"Hey Bones," Jim says, and completely ignores the question. There's something wrong with his voice but Bones can't put his finger on what it is.
"Jim," he says summoning up all of his patience, "where. Are. You?" He punctuates each word, voice slow and even.
"Bullshit." He listens closely; the sound of rushing air is quite evident. "You're driving somewhere. Did you steal someone's transport?"
"I'll return it," Jim says belligerently. "I just needed to borrow it for a little while."
Bones sighs, running a hand through his hair. "Have you been drinking?"
Jim sounds offended this time. "I'm driving, Bones."
He just barely manages to not spit out the word So? because he knows that it would just piss his friend off. He tries again. "Are you planning to drink?"
He can imagine Jim's cocky smirk. "Oh yeah." He says with emphasis. "Planning on getting blackout shitfaced, actually."
"And how do you plan to get back here?" His heart skips a beat for a moment as a thought crosses his mind. "You are coming back, right? Jim, you aren't planning anything stupid are you?"
"Depends on your definition of stupid."
"Dammit Jim!" He shouts, frustrated. "Where are you going?"
There is a short pause and he almost thinks that Jim is just going to cut off the connection and close the communicator. He fully prepares himself to run into the bar and grab Spock and Chekov and go through the hassle of trying to locate their wayward Captain's communicator signal when Jim answers.
"81 E, First Street, Riverside, Iowa." Jim's voice says, and then there is a click and all sound vanishes.
Riverside. Bones doesn't know what's going on or what Jim's doing, but he does know one thing. Riverside, Iowa is where James T. Kirk grew up. His stomach churning suddenly Bones turns and heads inside the bar.
He's going to need reinforcements.
Five minutes later he's sitting in the passenger seat of some out-dated, death trap vehicle, with Spock driving. It hadn't taken more than him saying "Jim's gone…," for Spock to jump up and demand further details. Now it's him and the green-blooded hobgoblin together in the tiny space, sitting in awkward silence, and Bones is pretty sure that he hates his life.
How many damn times is he going to have to go and find this damn kid? How many times has he already done this frenzied search for his friend and captain? How many times has he patched Jim up, and how many more times will he?
"Do you know why the captain has chosen to make his way to this address?" Spock says, breaking the silence.
Bones runs a hand through his hair. "Does anyone ever know why James Kirk does things?" He asks.
"The Captain's mind is most illogical, but as his close friend I assumed you might have some insight—."
He closes his eyes. "It was a rhetorical question, Spock." He doesn't want to be here. He doesn't want to be chasing Jim across half of Iowa because the man is pulling some damn fool stunt. And he has the bad feeling that there's more to this than a drunken spree—after all, by Jim's own words he isn't even drunk yet. "Riverside is where Jim grew up," he says finally.
There's silence as the half-Vulcan processes the information. "Could this journey of his be a desire to see his childhood home?" Spock says, but he can tell that the man knows the idea is off-target. He shakes his head anyway.
"People with a desire to visit where they grew up don't steal cars and bring copious amounts of alcohol with them." He sighs again. "Jim never talks about his childhood."
"Never? Surely he has mentioned something over the years you have known him."
He shrugs. "Nothing detailed. I know he grew up in Riverside. I know that his mother was off-planet most of the time. But when Jim talks about his past he seems to skip right over growing up. It's almost as though he doesn't want to remember anything that happened before he moved out of his house."
Spock tilts his head slightly to the side. "Doctor," he says, "if Jim's mother was off-planet, who then raised him? Surely he did not care for himself as a young child?"
Bones stills. "No," he says in a faint voice. "His mother got remarried." He licks his lip, an idea half-forming in his mind. "Jim only mentioned his step-father a handful of times. And never anything specific." The idea struggles to take form, but he knows that whatever it is it will be bad. He looks askance at the first officer. "Spock? Floor it."
"I take it to mean you wish me to accelerate the rate of speed."
"That's what I said, you green-blooded hobgoblin," he growls. Spock doesn't retort, just presses his foot to the gas and watches as the speed-o-meter races upwards.
When they finally arrive at the given address the stop for a moment. It's a wide, open stretch of land, a long dirt path driveway, and a dilapidated house at the end of it. The house is boarded up and looks like it's taken a lot of damage over the years. The stolen transporter is parked on the grass; Spock pulls next to it and parks their own vehicle. He's out of the car before the engine even stops, searching for Jim.
The man isn't hard to find. He's sitting in the middle of the yard, knees pulled to his chest, a bottle of bourbon loose in one hand. He seems unperturbed by their presence, as though he doesn't know they're there at all. But Bones knows him better than that. He's perfectly aware of them; he's just pretending he doesn't know. Spock falls into step beside him and they carefully—with the slow, measured movements of a person approaching a wild animal—approach him. Jim lifts the bottle to his lips and knocks back a good measure of the potent liquid, and then raises his gaze. His lips are in a parody of a grin.
"Hey, Bones. Spock."
"What the hell are you doing here, Jim?"
Jim's eyes go to the house. He knocks back another swallow of alcohol. He nods his head towards the house. "That's where I grew up." He says his voice soft. There's a slight slur to his voice; the bourbon's kicking in. He squints to see how much the man has actually consumed already, but it's hard to tell in the dim light of the moon.
"And?" Bones presses. "That doesn't explain why you're getting drunk in the yard in front of your old house."
Jim seems not to hear him. "That's where my mother left me. With him." He mumbles, and his voice is so sharp on the last word that Bones sucks in a breath. He exchanges a look with Spock, uneasy, his stomach clenching into knots. He kneels next to his friend.
"With who, Jim?" He asks. His voice is soft, gentle, like he's talking to his daughter and not his best friend. Jim's eyes are bleak and they stare right through him.
"Frank." He answers. His hand curls around the bottle in his hand, a tight unbreakable grip. Bones sees with panic that the bottle is more than half empty, and he's quite sure that it was full.
"I hate him." The words are so cold and so heated at the same time. Spock raises an eyebrow. The first officer still has his composure, looking like he doesn't give a damn about anything, but Bones sees straight through the act. He sees the worry. "I hate him," Jim repeats.
"Jim," Bones says again, a little louder and stronger this time.
Jim looks at him, and then moves to his feet. He and Spock both reach out to steady him, but Jim shrugs away their hands. He's unsteady on his feet, swaying like a ship being tossed in stormy seas. The bottle is clutched in his hand still; he takes another long sip, despite Bones' wordless protest. Then his fingers tighten around the bottle. He stares at the house, then pulls his arm back and throws the bottle with all of his strength at the house. Despite his less-than-sober state he still has a good arm; the bottle hits the front of the house solidly, exploding into a dozen shards and sending liquid spraying everywhere.
"I hate him!" He screams. Then he stumbles and falls. Bones reaches for him, but Spock is faster. The half-Vulcan catches him and holds him. He's clearly strong enough to support him, but instead he sinks to the ground with the man, cradling him in his arms. Bones raises an eyebrow and gives a tiny smirk—ignoring the hobgoblin's glare—and tucks away his suspicions in the back of his mind.
"I hate him," Jim says one more time, his voice muffled.
He stirs, as though realizing that they're there, as though waking from sleep-walking. His lips shift to a lopsided grin and his eyes are tired. "Bones," he says clearly. He looks at Spock, who still holds him, and the corners of his mouth lift upwards. "Spock."
"Jim," Spock says his voice clear and smooth. "Are you all right?" He helps him to his feet, steadying him the entire time. Even when Jim is on his feet and steady Spock still doesn't remove his hand, which grips Jim's arm firmly.
Jim stares at the house. "I'm fine," he says, his voice faint. He shakes his head and his eyes clear a little. He looks between the two men. "Do either of you have a lighter?"
Bones stares at him. "What?" He says, voice climbing an octave. "Have you lost your damn mind?" He cuts off when Spock produces the object from his pocket. Spock shrugs at his look.
"It is logical to be prepared for any situation," he says, depositing the small object into their drunken captain's hand.
Jim flicks open the lighter and in a practiced motion produces a flame. Then he gives them both a look and tosses the lighter at the house. Drunk or not, he's got impressive aim. The lighter lands where most of the bourbon landed; the alcohol soaked wood catches the flame and goes up.
"Are you crazy?" Bones shrieks, staring at the house as the bright orange flames spread, eating up the wood. There's a look in his friend's eyes, a kind of satisfaction that makes him uneasy.
"Not crazy, Bones," Jim mumbles. He stumbles and Spock steadies him again, always ready. "I just—I wanted it gone. I needed it to be gone."
Bones bites back a protest. He doesn't understand, not fully, but there's part of him that does understand. So they stand there, Spock's hand never leaving Jim's arm, until the flames have consumed the better part of the house, until the wail of sirens fills the air.
"It would be best if we took our leave now," Spock says as the sirens get closer.
Jim nods, eyes never leaving the house. He sighs. "Yes." He turns away finally, and his eyes are clearer. Less shadowed. "I'm ready now."
They head for the cars, the two of them supporting Jim. Bones looks at his intoxicated friend and then sighs. "Spock, you take him. I'll drive the other car."
Spock raises an eyebrow. "You do not want him with you?"
He half-grins. "I do, of course. But he needs to be with you."
The half-Vulcan shifts and then nods. He helps Jim into the car and slides into the driver's seat. Bones turns and gets into the other car. And he can't help but smile a little, glad that no one is around to see the soft expression on his face.
They'll be okay.