Author's Notes: Yeah.. I know it's a little late for me to be jumping on the Star Trek bandwagon, but I was too intimidated to do it before.

Anyway, this is NOT Kirk/McCoy, except in the friendsy way, because they're hilarious and I love them. The best romance is a bromance. Remember that.

World As We Know it

Or, reasons a series of unfortunate events for Leonard McCoy.

McCoy joins Starfleet because … well, because he has pretty much nothing else to do with his life.

He's not kidding when he tells Jim that his ex-wife got everything in the divorce: the house, the town, the dog, his kid for God's sake. So after two months of sitting in a shitty apartment in his underwear destroying pillows and punching things, McCoy wakes up in a field somewhere and looks at the sky and thinks, hey. Why not.

He meets James Kirk on the flight to the station and hates him instantly, a fact which Jim somehow translates into an invitation for brotherhood. (It's not.)

Still, the stupid kid kind of grows on him, in the way that a wart or a blister does, and by the middle of their first year he's somehow managed to know everything about Jim Kirk's life without ever really asking.

Jocelyn doesn't let him see Joanna on her birthday that year, so Jim takes him out to his favorite bar, gets him roaring drunk, and has him giggling over the word "whiner" by the time he finally puts him to bed.

"Jim," McCoy mumbles drunkenly, reaching out a hand as Jim tries to stumble towards the door, "S'just … thanks."

Jim shrugs, smiling in that wide, infectious way he has when he's not paying attention and slurs back, "Yer m'best friend, Bonesy," before falling over and passing out when he decides that getting up isn't worth the trouble.

McCoy wakes up the next morning hating Jim more than he ever has before, but when he threatens to kill him with his surgical tools, Jim just laughs and says, "Get one of your sexy nurses to do it—I don't want those old man hands on me."

He's grateful that Jim never mentions that night again, never brings up the hours McCoy spent waxing poetical about his little girl and all the times he thought about quitting Starfleet and going back home and stealing her away.

But he knows those things, even if he never brings them up, so McCoy guesses that they're stuck together for life, because a man with all of McCoy's deepest vulnerabilities in his head won't ever get far enough away to spill them.

Either way, on their first leave sophomore year Jim insists on meeting Joanna, and even though McCoy tries to leave him behind twice he somehow manages to smuggle himself into the backseat. McCoy grips the steering wheel the whole drive home — and he likes to drive, misses it when he's in space, the turning of the wheels and buzzing on his feet — and suffers through terrible images of Jim and Joanna, together, plotting the end of the world and succeeding.

Then again, he imagines himself as a zombie eating his ex-wife's brain and feels a flash of satisfaction; he thinks this, and then realizes he's got to get rid of Jim before he starts thinking like him.

It goes pretty much as he imagined: Jim and Jo lay eyes on one another and instantly become best friends; they spend McCoy's whole leave off in a corner, whispering furtively and glancing around. When it's time to go, Joanna hugs McCoy fiercely and then turns to Jim and demands, "You'll do like we said."

He nods once and salutes her, and driving back to the station he volunteers, "She told me to keep you alive at least until she turned thirty, because by that time you'd be old anyway."

McCoy laughs, and cries a little bit, and Jim doesn't say anything else.

He doesn't meet Sam Kirk until after they've saved the world. He likes him instantly. Sam is tall, taller than Jim, and he treats Jim the way you might treat a dog you love that's gone rabid: with a sort of resigned affection, as if he's murmuring, "C'mere, pretty thing, c'mere, doggie," while wondering where the shotgun is.

Jim's different with Sam than he is anybody else; not subdued, exactly, because you couldn't subdue Jim Kirk if you put a muzzle on him (and anyway, McCoy's looked it up, and they don't make them for humans.) But Jim is … gentler, with Sam, like an overeager puppy instead of a stubborn bulldog. He holds Sam's little girl like she's the most delicate thing in the world, a baby-sized Enterprise, and when Sam's wife asks Jim if he's got plans to settle down he just laughs. "I am settled down," he says with a grin. "Me 'n' McCoy, here, we've already got a shipload of kids." He leans in conspiratorially. "I think he's been cheating, though, 'cause none of 'em look like me."

"I've only got one kid, actually," McCoy interjects firmly. "Whatever little family you've got going on in the bridge is your business, but leave me out of it."

Jim just grins at him and says, "Okay, honeybear."

Sam shares a look with McCoy that says he's all yours now. Then Jim gets a wave and goes outside to yell at Chekov to stop coding the computer to feed Spock Klingon meals and Scotty to stop getting Chekov drunk because he's only seventeen, dammit and Uhura to release the fury of her lady rage to keep them all in line and Spock to — well, he's just yelling at Spock because a day isn't finished until he's done it at least once.

Sam hands McCoy a beer and says seriously, "I don't know what you boys have done to him, but thanks. I don't want to murder him so much, now."

McCoy laughs, and raises his glass in a toast. "You've gotta hate Jim a little bit to love him," he says, and Sam nods in weary agreement.

When they get back to the Enterprise, Jim goes straight for his captain's chair and just … sits in it, stroking the armrests lovingly. McCoy beelines for his Sick Bay and falls asleep on one of the stretchers. That's where Chapel finds him, arms hanging limply over the side and knuckles brushing the floor.

"Nice holiday?" she asks him, amused, and he grumbles something intelligible about Jim Kirk taking over the world.

Chapel laughs. "If he hasn't already," she says.