Within minutes of meeting him, Leonard had determined that Jim Kirk had more balls than a golf course on peewee training day, but that didn't mean that the man wasn't the best friend he'd ever had, pre or post Jocelyn. And that also didn't mean that Jim wasn't the most interesting guy Leonard had ever had the pleasure of hurling three days worth of scotch - mixed with a heavy dose of bile, sorrow and depression on – during their first encounter.

He certainly had to hand it to the kid; most people would have taken such an action as a personal insult on their person, because frankly, how disgusting, not to mention unsanitary, thus precluding any delusions of potential friendship. Jim took it as a long lost hug between brothers, or something in the equivalent thereof.

He'd long since stopped trying to get inside Jim's head or figure out his motives; life with Jim was infinitely more exciting when nodding towards Jim as if he were the crazy person he was, and then clutching tightly to go along with the ride.

For whatever the reasons, Jim had latched onto Leonard that day with the tenacity of that little, yippy terrier Jocelyn used to fawn over before they'd had a kid, and Leonard took that as proof that God or fate, or whatever, didn't totally have it in for him, as previously expected.

Jim was the first real friend he'd had; the first to shrug off Leonard's gruff exterior as if it were actually a cute little facet of his personality that amused the blond man to no end.

There was no use building up emotional walls around Jim, the man was a bulldozer in friendship the way he was in everything else he did; a invariable force of nature that no truly sane person would trifle with.

So yes, Leonard considered himself lucky that the beautiful boy with devil's horns holding up his tarnished halo was on the same shuttle he had been, slated to take them to disease and chaos. Yet when thoughts of friendship and endless fascination started to inch more towards love, lust and, even more frightening, need, he was starting to suspect that his life was the butt of a not-particularly-funny cosmic joke.

Losing his bitch of an ex-wife and the shirt off his back? That he could handle and had done so with aplomb; considering Jocelyn was still alive. Scarcely seeing his own flesh and blood, his beautiful, treasured little daughter? That was hard, but meeting Jim had made the pain somewhat manageable. Jim seem to make it his life's mission to stop Leonard from being lonely, and never let him dwell or brood past his allotted half hour a day…. Losing the friend, the confidant, who seemed to get him more than his ex-wife or even parents had ever bothered to try; that would be the final nail in the coffin.

He had minored in Psychology while pursuing his med degree. He knew more than most what damage repressing and suppressing could do to a man's soul, but he'd be damned if he was going to lose Jim to feelings that couldn't be voiced.

Lord knew that Jim had his own high-rise tower of issues; entirely justified considering what Leonard had pieced together of the other man's childhood, yet there nonetheless. Jim's reaction to the words 'relationship', 'exclusive', and 'commitment', whenever voiced from the various women and men he'd fucked over the past two years, was almost histaminic in nature and should probably be included on the man's unbelievably long list of allergies.

Leonard doubted his status of best friend allowed him any additional consideration on the subject. Some scars just didn't heal, no matter how charged the dermal regenerator.

He couldn't lose Jim, he wouldn't. It was as simple as that. But that, unfortunately, meant that his resistance, when it came to Jim, was so paper thin it was nearly transparent.

Not that he'd ever voice it aloud. Jim was extremely intelligent, and he had an eerie knack of reading people; he knew.

"You know, Bones, in the two years we've been at the Academy I've noticed a disturbing pattern," Jim announced after letting himself into Leonard's room, uninvited.

He didn't raise his eyebrow over the fact that he had yet to give Jim the new security code for his dorm room, and yet here Jim was anyway, lounging like he belonged here. He wouldn't give him the satisfaction.

Yet that didn't prevent him from thinking that it was definitely a good thing that Jim had decided to pursue the noble, loftier goals of Starfleet, because to have him on the errant side of the law was a scary as fuck thought.

"How surprising," Leonard deadpanned, folding his arms, unimpressed.

He never would understand why Jim didn't want the rest of the world to view him as the goddamned fucking genius that he was.

Jim was always seeing patterns; could announce, after five seconds in the Academy cafeteria, how many tiles were on the ceiling, could recite the dates and battle strategies of any historical figure ranging from Attila the Hun to Shaka Zulu to George Washington with unerring accuracy, and could override security codes for his own amusement. Leonard had often wondered if Jim was part savant, and wholly off-kilter, but had just as quickly concluded that it didn't really matter. Jim was what he was, and if the rest of the idiots didn't see through the masks the kid created, then they didn't deserve to know and it was just one more aspect of Jim that Leonard got to keep for himself.

He had to get something out of the misery of unrequited love.

"You have not gone out on a date once since we've got here, despite all those gorgeous nurses over at medical," Jim announced nonchalantly, as if ordering a coffee with his customary cream and two sugars, and not addressing a topic that had Leonard starting to feel panic well within his gut. "You're allowing your divorce to make you forget that you're a passionate man with needs and in doing that, you're allowing Jocelyn to win something beyond the planet - she's taking the marrow out of your bones, Bones."

He knew that he probably looked like a fish, gaping the way he was, or perhaps a deer in headlights, too stunned by Jim's bout of wildly inaccurate psychoanalysis to think up a trademark retort.

The smile on Jim's face was perspicacious; his blue eyes sparkling with shared secrets, and his posture confident despite the well of insecurity Leonard knew existed underneath. Even plotting against his sanity, Jim was stunning, almost ethereal.

Leonard wondered if he was forever destined to live in the equivalent of an art museum; recognizing beauty, yet ever unable to touch it.

Loving Jim could sometimes be as painful as a fucking kidney stone.

"Ever occur to you that I'm just not ready? Some wounds have yet to scab over, kid," Leonard replied, pleased that his tone was gruff enough for Jim to mistake his obvious discomfort as pain over the divorce and not that of a grown man harboring a masochistic, destined-for-failure, prepubescent-like crush.

"Which is why I think intervention is the order of the day," Jim announced, eyes still shining, smile still glowing with all the innocence of a cat caught in a bird cage. Brilliant Jim undeniably was; subtle he most certainly was not. "Those wounds need to heal, Bones, we just need to get you over that initial hurdle. And I think I know how to do it."

"Oh I can't wait to hear this. I'm all ears," Leonard responded, plopping down to sit on his bed, infinitely glad to hear the self-righteous anger seeping through his tone.

What right did Jim have to come here and stir this shit up? Jim had no way of knowing, of course, the true pain his words were inflicting, but it was of little comfort. The little shit was hitting far too close to home.

"It's not so much of a telling as it is a showing," Jim said, his voice more gruff than Leonard had ever heard it. For a brief second, the cocky confidence that made Jim Kirk faltered, and a flash of uncertainty marred his handsome countenance, only to disappear so quickly that for a second Leonard almost believed he had imagined it. Almost.

The fact that he hadn't quite missed it made his heart clench painfully in his chest.

Whatever Jim wanted of him, or wherever he was going with this insane byplay, it didn't matter. He just never wanted to see that look on Jim's face again. Ever.

So as Jim walked towards him, slowly, as if approaching a wild animal, intent not to startle; Leonard could only gulp and pray he came out of whatever this was unscathed.

Yet even as he thought it, he knew his wishes would go unheard.

Nothing, no beast nor man, could deter Jim from reaching a goal once he'd made it.

Time seemed to slow down a bit, as if someone had altered the speed of life to watch Jim's actions frame by frame. Jim walked towards him, his expression unreadable, and Leonard felt his breath hitch when Jim stopped in front of him, barely an inch away, and went down on his knees before him.

His heart started beating so fucking fast that a part of him wondered if the damn organ would pound its way out of his chest, and he could only watch with almost suffocating anticipation as Jim's fingers deftly moved to undo the snap of his pants.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, a part of Leonard screamed in agony at what was sure to be a mistake of epic proportions, but his body, having gone so long without, and so much in want, in need, that his vision blurred and his body tightened, every muscle contracting, ignored it.

Perhaps there was someone out there in the universe who could look through the charm Jim owned in spades and deny him, but Leonard wasn't one of them. Never would be. He knew that about himself; loved that aspect of himself as much as he hated it.

So he raised his hips at the appropriate time, allowing Jim to pull his pants down, and then promptly closed his eyes, let a groan escape his throat, and had his mind blown when a hot, wet suction engulfed his dick.

Best goddamned feeling ever. There was nothing in the world like it, nothing compared.

Leonard felt nerve endings he hadn't known existed, outside of theory, felt awakened and alive and so extremely exhilarated he could die in that instant a happy man.

Jim's tongue moved like an opposable limb, grasping, lapping and teasing as if it were made to give head.

Almost unconsciously Leonard thrust forward, hard. The part of his brain left that could actually think worried that he might cause his friend harm, but Jim took it all in stride, opening his lips wider before clamping them down again, relaxing his throat, utterly compliant as he let Leonard take what he needed.

It was the most erotic act that Leonard had ever been a part of, and definitely the most exciting.

Jocelyn had been an amateur by comparison and she had utterly lacked the enthusiasm that Jim exhibited without consciously trying. Never had Leonard been so glad to be where he was, and for the events that brought him here, painful though they were.

If Jim had been made to give good head, then he had been made to be here, with Jim, like this.

He would be embarrassed that he came as rapidly as he did, that his euphoria had lasted all of seconds, if he weren't lost to the previously-thought myth of utter white-out.

Good God Almighty.

He felt himself fall, distantly. Felt his back bounce a little off the bed as it hit the mattress. And felt the world slowly but surely come back into focus, and along with it a dawning panic.

Oh fuck.

It was both a relief and as painful as all hell when Jim brushed off the act as no big deal, a form of post-divorce therapy, as it were.

Though even heartbroken, he had to laugh at the irony of it. A sexual encounter with Jim was supposed to make him want to start dating again?

The only person he wanted to date was Jim, and the feelings associated with having Jim, even if far too briefly, only served to pound that fact home. It wouldn't be fair to anyone else to have Leonard for a boyfriend when he was, for all intents and purposes, irrevocably in love with his best friend.

Whoever had written that old party line, 'if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with' was a fucking idiot. Why settle for cheap whiskey when he had tasted fine brandy? What would be the point? His standards were higher than that.

Leonard could only hope Jim never figured out how much of an effort it took for him not to immediately glance at Jim's mouth every time they saw each other, the inevitable stirring in his groin and sudden jolt to his heart accompanying that sight whenever he did give in to the urge.

But if Jim did notice, he didn't say anything. Instead, he went back to fucking a random acquaintance every chance that he had.

The pain of watching him do it was fierce. And if Leonard could've had the choice of undoing his orgasm at Jim's hand, er, mouth, one of the better moments of his life, he would, just to be able to deal with it all better.

His only solace came from the way Jim's shoulders would slump, just marginally, but noticeable to someone fluent in Jim-ese, the way he was, whenever he returned from an amorous encounter in the back of a bar. Or the way his expression would be closed off, entirely void of the usual expression and emotion he fed into it.

Inevitably his eyes would always meet Leonard's and there would be something unfathomable in them, something he couldn't quite decipher, psychological training or no. And then the moment, like so many others, would pass, leaving him to wonder if he had been overly drunk and imagining it.

He knew as well as anybody that the mind could play amazing tricks when something was wanted, something was absolutely coveted, the way Jim was by him.

It was a like a goddamned virus he couldn't seem to shake. He wondered if that made him pathetic, but then figured it didn't matter. Never let it be said that Leonard McCoy was not loyal in love. Hell, he had to have been served papers to finally give up on his sham of a marriage. His stubbornness and brains had got him through medical school, and his stubbornness and brains would get him through his unrequited feelings for Jim, hopefully with their friendship intact.

Because whether either of them voiced it aloud, each other was all either of them had.

And whether Jim was romantically interested in him or not, just having Jim with him, in any capacity, had improved Leonard's quality of life. It was one of the few blessed gifts the fates had allowed him.

He managed to hold on to that resolve through Gaila, and Jim's third and final run at the Kobayashi Maru; he even managed to hold it through Nero and nearly watching Jim die more times than he cared to count. In fact, he had gotten so used to his resolve that coming home not twenty-four hours after returning to Earth, and thus, life as a cadet, to find Jim in his dorm, once again unannounced and once again overriding the monthly security code change, took him slightly aback…and filled him with equal parts dread and anticipation. He doubted he could live through a second meaningless sexual encounter with Jim with his heart left in one piece.

Yet Jim's expression this time around was far from the cocky assuredness it had been the last time they had met in this fashion. Instead it mirrored that brief flash of insecurity Leonard had been privy to; the one that left him entirely undone and feeling like he'd do anything to make Jim's world better.

Self-Confident Jim he could handle. Lost Jim gave him the urge to commandeer Sulu's sword and take on Jim's enemies, man to man.

For countless seconds Jim simply stared, leaving Leonard to wonder if he should be the first one to speak, to break the ice, when finally Jim announced…

"I lied."

Out of all of the billion things Leonard had expected Jim to say, ranging from 'what are the chances they'll let me continue to serve on the Enterprise?' to 'I've been having nightmares featuring insane Romulans, ice planet crustaceans and pissed off Vulcans', admitting to lying didn't make the count. Didn't even come close.

If ever Leonard had a need to get into Jim's head, it was now. An instinctual part of him knew that whatever it was that was weighing Jim down, it was important. Very important. Could, in fact, turn out to be a big…fucking…deal.

"That day I came to you and said I wanted to help you get over your hang-ups over your divorce?" Jim continued softly, his eyes glancing this way and that, everywhere but Leonard's face, which was probably a good thing since Leonard could feel his heart jump up to his throat and knew he probably looked as flustered as he felt. "I didn't really want you to have other people - I wanted you to have me."

"Why the farce?" he croaked, when he'd managed to find his voice at all, which was nothing if not miraculous. He wondered if Jim could even hear him over the loud drum of Leonard's pounding heart.

Jim met his eyes, seemingly rediscovering that vaunted Kirk courage, those blue eyes searching his own hazel for something Leonard wasn't quite ready to admit, not yet. Everything felt too surreal, too much like a fantasy. He had a hard time trusting that this moment was really happening.

"Because I've never experienced anything I couldn't walk away from, I didn't know how to handle it. It scared the bejesus out of me. I mean, I love you, God, so fucking much, you don't even know the half of it, but how the fuck do I know how to express it? I didn't know if it was one of those things that came by instinct, or if you're supposed to learn from example or some such shit."

In his frustration over his words, Jim fisted his hair, grabbing at it and pulling, and that action, even more than the words he'd been dying to hear for who knew how long, clenched at Leonard's heart. It was so fucking endearing, so beloved. This was Jim, stark and honest and open. Jim had always been a sight to behold, but in this moment, like this, he was magnificent.

"I tasted you, I watched you come, and thought that it was the most awesome thing I'd ever seen. I was kind of awed that you let me do that to you - you who are always so closed off. And then I started to panic. Losing you because I couldn't figure the whole relationship thing out? Not an option. But then, as horribly trite and cliché as this will probably sound, when I almost died several times, all I could think about was that I was leaving you alone and that I had been chicken shit for not telling you how I felt. If I could face Nero, for crying out loud, how lame was it that I couldn't even admit to you that I love you? I guess I figured out that it doesn't really matter that I don't know how to do this whole… thing, that maybe it's something you can kind of guide me in, if you're, you know, interested."

There were several points in Leonard's life when he didn't think elation was possible. He'd never been so incredibly grateful to be wrong.

With words momentarily lost to him, a feat few who knew him thought possible, Leonard did the only thing he could do…he clutched Jim tightly his arms, pulled his body flush against his own, and wished breathlessly that he could pull Jim all the way inside of him. He settled, instead, for peppering kisses on Jim's face, for grabbing fists full of shoulders, waist and ass, for running fingers over a cloth-covered, muscled back and then up into soft hair.

That he could do this, could touch Jim, pet him, grasp at him, hold him… was fucking amazing. It made every piece of hell Leonard had ever lived through, and ever would in the future, so worth it that none of it merited the inquiry.

"Does this mean you're interested?" Jim asked after a beat, his voice laced with both humor and affection.

"You better believe it," he found his voice at last.

He hoped Jim knew, in that special way of his for figuring everything out eventually, no matter how hard the puzzle, just how fervently Leonard meant those words.

The End!

"Why is any object we don't understand always called 'a thing'?" ~ Leonard "Bones" McCoy, ST:TMP