Rainy Night in Georgia by Djinn

Candles flickered, lighting corners of the living room in strange ways, making McCoy feel as if this wasn't his home, wasn't the place he had grown up, but some stranger's house. He breathed in the musty odor: that down-home, southern smell of a house shut up for too long.

"You really need to pay the damn bills, Bones," Jim said as he came out of the dark bathroom. "We're not going to run out of water, are we?"

"No, there's a well." The house was old, still self-reliant in some ways. If it had been cold, they could have lit a fire in the massive fireplace, stayed warm that way. But it wasn't cold, it was hot, so he had the wooden shutters open around the room, creating cross drafts. Not like a chiller system, but still much cooler than nothing at all.

Christine kicked her shoes off and stretched out on the chaise McCoy's mother had loved. "Even with a well, there will be no long, hot baths--or even short, hot baths."

"No hot water? Great." Jim sat down on the couch, seemed unsure whether to make himself comfortable or not. "So, is this where you lived with Jocelyn?"

"Jocelyn the bitch," Christine muttered, and McCoy smiled at the vitriol in her voice. She'd never met his ex wife, and still she was willing to take his side. Christine was a good friend.

She moved, getting settled, curves outlined sweetly in the uniform she'd worn to the memorial service for the families of those on the Farrugut and the other ships. She stretched, seemed to be trying to make her breasts even more prominent.

Sweet Jesus, why was she still just a friend?

"We hate Jocelyn," Jim said, finally stretching out and getting comfortable, as if he'd had to think about it. But that was how he was, how he'd grown up. Never get too comfortable. Never assume you're welcome. Hell of a way to spend a childhood.

"No, I didn't live here with Jocelyn. She hated this house. Hated every damn thing about it. Too old. Too hot in the summer. Too noisy with its creaks and groans. The only time she liked it was when the rain hit the roof like it's doing now."

"Her loss, Len," Christine said. "It's a great house. What I can see of it, anyway."

"You want a tour?"

"Some other time." She sighed. "It's been a long day."

"The longest." Jim closed his eyes, as if he could take away the memory of all those families mourning all those lost souls.

"How about a drink, then?" This was definitely the right time for booze. McCoy fished around in the liquor cabinet till he found the little button his father had shown him when he'd turned eighteen. McCoy men drank once they could fight, once they could vote. It was a family tradition. He pushed the button and the false back came off; the bottles were still there from the last time he'd stocked the place. "Ah, the good stuff. Won't even need ice." The glasses were nowhere to be found, so he pulled out one of the bottles, opened it, took a pull, then wiped the lip off with his shirt sleeve before he passed it to Christine.

"That, my dear Leonard, does not pass the Starfleet hygiene inspection." His unsanitary practices didn't stop her from also taking a long pull. "Jimbo?"

He took the bottle from her with a frown. "Did I say you could call me that?"

"Sorry. James?"

"Uhhhh..."

"Okay. Jim." Her smile was sweet and goofy and sexy--hey! Did she like Jim?

McCoy moved to perch on the arm of her chair and she gave him a strange look.

Damn. Did she not like him?

Jim shot him a look, one that normally went to people who weren't his best friend. "Something wrong with the other five chairs in this very large room, Bones?"

"I like it here. Something wrong with here?" He wished Jim would hurry the hell up with the bottle.

"Here is fine." Christine let her hand fall languidly on his knee, probably having no idea what that little touch did to him. "The rain sounds pretty."

"One of the best things about growing up here."

"I used to listen to the rain in Iowa, hide out in the shed behind our house. Just me and the spiders and the rain." Jim handed McCoy the bottle. "I hated our house once my stepfather got there. He ruined it."

"Ruined it how?" Christine's voice was soft, as if she could ease the story out of Jim, but McCoy knew he'd clam up. Only a teaser, that's all he ever gave when it came to his now long-gone stepdaddy.

"He just did." Jim put his head back, stared up at the ceiling. "Distant memory, right, Chris? It doesn't matter." He held his hand out for the bottle and McCoy obliged.

"Very distant, Jim. And things have changed. You're in Starfleet now." McCoy smiled at him.

"Days like today...they make me wonder why I--"

"No." Christine looked at him, then up at McCoy. "No, Jim, don't say it makes you wonder why you're here. You're the reason we have an Earth to have this ceremony on. You're the reason there's anyone left to mourn."

"She's not wrong, my friend. Even if you sounded the ass side of crazy when you explained it to me on the ship."

Jim nodded, but his look was pensive. "If not me, there would have been someone else. Someone would have stepped up. Nature abhors a vacuum."

"Bullshit," Christine said, taking the bottle from him. "Just straight and utter Iowa-brand bullshit. You're a hero, Jim. Accept it and don't let it go to your head."

"How can I with you two around?" But he still didn't look very happy.

"That's the idea, my friend. Remember thou art mortal." McCoy started to get up

Christine gripped his thigh, said, "Don't. It feels good to have someone close."

He indulged himself, relaxed again and brushed a tendril of hair off her cheek. She reached up and took the clip out, letting her hair fall around his fingers. Soft, so damn soft.

He glanced at Jim, who was watching them both with a strange look on his face. "Something wrong, Jim?"

Now, why the hell did he say that? Who cared if Jim didn't like this? He got all the girls; he didn't need this one, too.

"Just a little lonely over here."

Christine got off the chaise, took McCoy's hand, and pulled him with her to the couch. "Move your feet," she said to Jim.

"Aye aye, sir." He moved so he was sitting, not lounging.

Christine sat down next to him. Right goddamned next to him. But McCoy didn't have much time to think about that because then she was pulling him right next to her. With a sigh, she put her arms around them both, like some benevolent mother goddess, and said, "No one should be lonely tonight."

McCoy rested his head on her shoulder and felt the booze making him sleepy.

Jim leaned in, smiled at McCoy and said, "Thanks for bringing us here, Bones. I felt like I was smothering at the service. So many people. So many eyes."

"No one here but us," Christine said, laying her lips on Jim's hair, then turning and doing the same to McCoy. "Just be quiet now. I'm so tired."

"This couch pulls out, darlin'." McCoy eased her up and out of the way, motioned for Jim to grab the other end after they cleared off the cushions. They pulled and cursed and finally got the thing out.

"Whoever's in the middle has to lie on the support bar. I slept on one of these at my grandparents." Christine crawled onto the thing anyway and lay down in the middle, rolling to her side away from McCoy.

McCoy settled in next to her, his arm going around her, spooning her before Jim could get in there and work the Kirk charm. He felt Christine's hand settle over his.

"Get down here," she said to Jim, her voice sleepy and sexy.

Jim lay down and rolled to face her, and he smiled as he leaned in and kissed her, not a long, passionate kiss, but not a peck, either. "Good night, Chris."

"Good night." She turned to look at McCoy, smiled and leaned back to kiss him, too. "Good night, Len."

He was sure he wouldn't sleep, not holding her like this, not with McCoy Junior pushing hard against her hip. But as he listened to her breathing change to that of sleep, as Jim cuddled in next to her and muttered in his sleep, McCoy felt an overwhelming sense of peace. He closed his eyes, nestled into Christine's hair, and let go.


Shore Leave, finally. On a planet that was Earth-like enough to make Kirk think it could be home--or Bones' home, anyway. It was humid exotic like Georgia, not humid boring like Iowa.

"Holy God, it's hot down here." Chris was out of uniform--way out of uniform. She was wearing a halter that accentuated her chest and a flowing skirt that the wind kept pressing against her legs. Kirk was having a hard time paying attention to anything else.

"Here." Bones turned away from the vendor he'd been talking to, handed them both silly looking straw--or the local version of straw--hats. "You're going to get sunburned or heatstroke--or both."

"This hat? I don't think so," Kirk said, but Chris laughed and put hers on. She looked charming, in an utterly goofy sort of way, so Kirk put his on, too, then gave Bones a stern look until he grabbed one for himself.

"Aren't we the trio?" Chris asked, taking their arms as they walked away from the vendors and storefronts and onto the beach that surrounded the large lake.

Trio. Kirk glanced at Bones, wondered how he felt about that word. He knew his friend had a thing for Chris. Normally, that would make Kirk back off. Way off. But something was different this time. It wasn't so much a competition that he wanted to win as a comfort he didn't want to give up.

He didn't want to lose Chris. Or Bones. If he backed away slowly and let them pair up, they'd leave him alone. He'd be on the outside looking in, watching them make googly eyes just as he had to with Spock and Uhura. Well, if Vulcans made googly eyes, which they didn't, but Uhura did it enough for both of them.

"Ah, the two lovebirds have landed in our neck of the woods." Bones pointed toward the water, where Uhura was sitting with a severely overdressed Spock. They looked comfortable together, though. Happy, even.

"I don't understand what she sees in him," Chris said, and by her tone, Kirk could tell she meant it. So, he probably shouldn't tell her that when the older Spock had shared his thoughts, Kirk had seen a whole lot more than just things about their friendship. Like how that universe's Chris had chased that Spock for years.

Chased. Chris. He couldn't imagine it, but that Chapel had seemed different than his, and he supposed she was. God knew how her world changed the day the universes split. Or whatever they did. He was still not clear on that. But he knew he wasn't like the Jim Kirk that Spock had known, no matter how much the older Spock wanted him to believe he could be.

"Guess she likes the brainy type," Bones said.

"That leaves you two out." Chris's grin was devilish and Kirk slapped her on the butt and said, "Hey!" Earning himself a stern look and a "That's hardly officer material" from Chris.

"Not officer material, my ass," Bones said, punctuating his words with his own slap to her butt. "Or your ass, anyway."

Okay, so they were both ass men. Did that bode well or badly? Although Kirk liked her legs and her chest. Her face was great, too. Was there a part of her he didn't like so much? He looked down at her feet. There: her toes weren't great. No one should be perfect, after all.

"Why are you looking at my feet?" Chris leaned in, whispered in his ear, "Do you have a foot fetish?"

"Share with the class, Christine."

"She asked me if I had a foot fetish. To which I say most definitely 'No.'" He winked at Bones. "But the good doctor might not be so innocent."

"I like all parts on a lady. I hate to limit myself." Bones steered them away from Spock and Uhura, and Kirk didn't argue. Somehow, whatever it was the three of them were doing seemed safer away from the still-not-quite-sure-of-him Spock. The older Spock had shown him something wonderful, and Kirk could still feel it when he was around that Spock. But he didn't feel the same thing for the younger Spock. He didn't know if he ever would.

Even if part of him longed for that, a friendship so deep you'd die for one another and risk anything. No one had ever risked everything for him. No one since his father, anyway. That other Kirk had known his father. It still hurt, that somewhere there was a Kirk who'd grown up loved.

He tried to mentally shake off the pain, turned to Chris and said, "So what parts of a man do you like?" He waggled his eyebrows and made the other two laugh. "I mean other than the obvious?"

"Not that part."

Bones nearly choked. "You don't like that part? Not at all?"

"Oh, for God's sake. Of course I like that part. I love that part." She rolled her eyes at their mutual looks of happiness. "I just mean I don't pick a fellow based on that."

"So what do you base your decision on?" Kirk hoped to God it was something he had going for him.

"I like dark hair." She waited a beat. "And light."

Bones groaned. "Bitch."

She just laughed. "Boys, I think you both are lovely examples of the male species. Why I think that is none of your damned business. Now, which of you lowlifes is going to buy me lunch? I'm hungry and I want to eat someplace nice."

They both volunteered and she smiled happily. "Mmm, twice the credits." She leaned over to Bones, kissed his cheek, then did the same to Kirk, but he turned so she had to kiss him on the lips. The kiss went on for a while, until Bones pulled her away and planted one on her, also long, with quite a bit of tongue. Kirk considered pulling her back to add some tongue of his own, but that would look like he had something to prove.

Chris seemed quite happy with them both. "Mmm, this is the life, gentleman. Now, food."

There was no arguing with her when she was hungry, and they were both wise enough to know that. So Kirk let her lead them to a very nice restaurant.

The first table they were led to was set up for four, with two chairs on either side. "No," Chris said to the host, "not unless you want a fight." She pointed to a three person half-circle booth. "That one will be fine."

"We wouldn't have fought," Bones said as he slid in on one side of the booth after Chris had taken the middle, and he almost sounded like he believed it.

"Or not for long." Kirk slid in on the other side and winked at Bones to take the sting out. "We'd have both sat across from you so we could admire you."

She made a retching sound and picked up her menu, ignoring them as they bickered over who would have done what.

-------------------

Chapel lay on the large beach towel, watching as Jim and Len tried to drown each other in the water.

"You guys are together a lot." Nyota lay down next to her, sharing the big-enough-for-three towel.

"We're friends." Chapel turned to see her friend's expression, but Nyota had sunshades on that hid anything she was thinking. "Why? Are you jealous? Spock not enough for you?"

"So you're saying there is something going on with you three?"

"I am not saying that." She slipped her own sunshades on, suddenly feeling vulnerable, exposed. "But...what if there were?"

"It'd be...unusual."

"Maybe." Not if they were Deltan. Or Darillian. Or--

"I didn't come to give you a hard time. You seem happy and you weren't happy for such a long time when you first got here, after Roger and that other woman..."

"Andrea."

"Right. Her. And now you're smiling and light and if they did that, well then they're on my list of people I like." She bumped her shoulder against Chapel's. "You're my friend and I want you to be happy."

"Thanks."

She bumped her again, harder this time. "But I also want you to be careful. Just don't do anything when you're drunk, okay?"

"When I'm drunk?"

"Does hoverskating on the roof during the 'Yay, the midterms are over' party ring a bell?"

"I actually hadn't drunk that much punch." Was doing stupid things when you were sober better?

"Uh huh. I had to come up with a very creative lie for you when you crashed and burned."

"And you did it with great aplomb. And, fortunately, Gaila was there to distract the hoverskate rental guy into not noticing the skates were trashed." Gaila could distract a dead man. Chapel envied the woman her sex appeal. Roger would have found her very enticing, no doubt.

Roger. Roger had sucked her heart out and left her to flounder.

No, she'd let Roger suck her heart out and then let herself flounder.

She liked the first version better.

"Where'd you go just then?" Nyota was playing with the sand, picking up a handful and letting it stream back onto the beach.

"Sorry. Was wallowing in Roger-land."

"Ugh. Not allowed." She pointed over to where Jim and Len were swimming, racing from the look of it. "They always so competitive? Because I could see some benefit in that..."

Chapel laughed. "You are so bad."

"Yes, my friend. Yes, I am." She leaned in, let her head rest on Chapel's shoulder for a moment. "Just stay happy. I like you this way a lot. Now, I have to go. Spock's getting restive."

"He doesn't strike me as the romantic bonfires on the beach kind of guy."

"You're as perceptive as ever." Nyota winked and then pushed herself up in one graceful movement. "I'll see you back on the ship."

"Right." She closed her eyes, enjoyed the feeling of the sun beating down on her.

"You missed a spot," Jim said, dripping water on her as he rubbed some sunscreen in.

Len took the spot Nyota had vacated. "You okay?"

"Just lazing."

"You look damned good lazing."

"You do, Chris. Lazing is an extremely good look for you." Jim's hand slipped down, stopping at the small of her back, not going lower, not going anywhere indiscreet. He let it linger for a moment, the heat growing between them.

"You two up for a game?" Sulu yelled from the volleyball pit.

"Oh, yes, my friend," Len said with a fierce grin. "And we are going to kill you just like last time."

"Pav and I have been practicing."

Chapel looked up to see Sulu beaming. She didn't know him well yet, but she liked what she'd seen. Then she put her head down and went back to lazing. "Have fun, you two."

------------------

For a fundraiser, the party was pretty raucous. McCoy leaned against a pillar and watched people pouring liquor back as if it was water. He saw Christine moving across the room, skirting the dance floor--he should dance with her tonight, if Jim didn't get there first, or even if he did, McCoy should dance with the woman he had a very large crush on.

"She looks good." Jim handed him a glass of bourbon, sipped at his own. "I like that dress."

"Me, too." The dress was backless, dropped so low it was almost scandalous. McCoy imagined his hand resting on her back just...there. "I really like it."

Jim laughed softly, then the sound trailed off. "Who the hell is that?"

"Oh, shit." McCoy was already moving, could feel Jim in tow. "Korby. Roger. Asshole."

"Oh, we hate him."

"Yes. Yes, we do." Korby was right up there with Jocelyn and Jim's stepfather in the jerk of the century award.

Christine was holding her own when they reached her, but she seemed to relax when McCoy took one side, Jim the other.

"Who's your friend, love," Jim said, ever smooth--and slightly threatening.

"This is Doctor Roger Korby. You've heard me talk about him."

"Of course we have." McCoy laid his hand on the part of her back he'd been fantasizing about earlier, saw Korby's eyes narrow. They narrowed even more when Jim slipped his arm around her shoulders.

"She tells us everything," Jim said, again the words coming out smooth but deadly.

"Well, Christine, it's good to see that you're keeping busy." Korby managed to load a lot of disdain into the word busy. "I'd have to be marooned to not know who you are, Captain Kirk. But you"--he looked over at McCoy--"I don't believe I've had the pleasure."

"Leonard McCoy. Doctor as in M.D."

"Ah. Well, gentleman, do you mind if I talk to my former fiancee in private?"

Christine seemed to shrink slightly into their arms.

"Yes, actually, we do." Jim looked ready to fight.

"Very much so," McCoy said, loading as much old Southern gentleman as he could--he'd found nothing said "Don't piss me off" quite as well as gentility over steel.

"No," Christine said, as she pulled out of their protective grips. "No, it's all right. I doubt Roger has anything to say to me that I want to hear, but I'll listen."

"We'll be watching," McCoy said, glancing at Jim, who nodded slowly--damn the man. He could load threat into any gesture.

Christine followed Korby to a corner of the room and sat down next to him. Her face stayed emotionless through much of whatever Korby was telling her. Then she laughed and stood up, waving Korby back into his seat and stalking over to them.

"That didn't look like a fun conversation."

"Actually," Jim said, "it didn't look like much of a conversation."

"It wasn't. He wants me back. He's tired of Andrea. He made a mistake." She took them both by the arms. "Screw him."

"Or not," McCoy said, feeling a warm glow building inside him.

"Or not," she said laughing. "Now, who's going to dance with me?"

McCoy spoke first, but he had a feeling Jim wasn't trying to win. Was it better not to be first? Hell, he was a good dancer, but was Jim better? Was that his plan, to amaze her with how much better he was?

"Hello, Len. Dance?"

"Oh, right." He quit thinking about Jim and concentrated on her and her lovely, uncovered back.


Kirk awoke to blackness, tried to blink and found he couldn't. He reached for his face, felt a soft touch on his hand, a gentle voice saying, "Jim, don't." Chris. Chris and she sounded upset.

"Your eyes, Jim. You need to leave them alone." Bones sounded distressed, too. Far beyond what normal injuries in the field would cause.

Kirk tried to remember what happened. Everything was a blur and he took a deep breath, forcing himself to center, to calm, the way he used to when his stepfather yelled and all Kirk wanted to do was launch himself at him and knock the superior smirk off his face.

"What happened?" he finally asked, when he felt calm enough to hear the news.

"New energy weapon." Chris sounded like she'd been crying, and he reached out for her, felt her take his hand and hold on tightly. "You got the brunt of it. That'll teach you to take point all the time."

"Yeah, no kidding." He realized he wasn't in any pain--just how doped up did they have him? "Everything's still there, right?"

He felt soft lips on his cheek, then a firmer grasp on his shoulder, and Bones saying, "Everything's there, compadre."

"I've got other patients who need me." Again Chris' lips touched down on his cheek, then he heard her leaving.

"Be straight with me, Bones. What's the prognosis?"

Bones cleared his throat. "Your eyes are the biggest worry. We'll know in another twelve hours if you'll be able to see again. Lying quietly is the best thing you can do now. You had fairly extensive burns, which we healed with dermaskin--it's going to itch like crazy in a few hours. Don't scratch it." Bones sounded rattled. "Jim, I don't mind telling you. I was scared."

Kirk forced his trademark grin. "Why? Worried you'd win Chris by default."

"I don't want to win her if it means losing you." Bones dropped his hand onto Kirk's, squeezed hard. "You're important to me, Jim. Both of you are."

"I know. Same here." He heard Bones sniff. "How long have you two been sitting with me?"

"Off and on, about thirty hours."

It scared him that he'd been out that long, but it also touched him that they'd been with him, and he felt a smile growing. Devotion. He knew what the word meant but not from personal experience. Not till now.

"When I'm all better, we should go out. The three of us. Maybe back to your house?"

"I paid the bills so we'll have all the comforts of home. Even had a local gal come in and spruce it up a bit, covers for the bed and such. She'll stock it with food if I let her know we're coming." There was a long pause, and Kirk tried to read into the silence. Then Bones said, "I was letting it go because I was angry at me and at Jocelyn and at my father, for dying and making me-- For leaving me."

"That's understandable."

"No, Jim. No, it's not. That house was my sanctuary. Whenever I needed a place to get away, to be safe, it was there. And how did I repay it?"

"It's a house. They're much more resilient and forgiving than people are." He'd never loved a house, especially not the Iowa house. Even before his stepfather came into the picture, his mother had been distant. After all, what was Kirk but a reminder of everything she'd lost?

He heard footsteps coming back, Chris telling Bones another patient needed him. She sat down as Bones hurried off.

"How are you doing?" she asked softly.

"I'm processing." He smiled at her. Not his calculated smile, but the real one he hardly ever let out. "Thank you for watching over me."

"You're welcome. I love you. It wasn't any burden." She leaned in, her breath warm on his skin. "Len loves you too, you know?"

He nodded. "When this is all over, you and me and Bones are going to his house."

"I heard the lights are back on."

"And there's warm water for showers."

He could practically hear her smile. "Hope it's a big shower," she whispered. "Because I hate to break it to you, but I'm not choosing between you two." Her voice broke at the end. "Not after sitting here with him, watching how much he cares, how badly it would hurt him to lose you."

"He wouldn't do well losing you, either." He sighed. "I sure don't want to lose you--either of you."

"I know."

"Our lives up to now, Chris. So much loss and pain."

"Maybe that's what makes this work? This...friendship?"

He started to nod, immediately thought better of it.

"Good boy. Lie still and let your eyes heal."

He smiled. She was the only person in the galaxy he'd let call him a good boy and still live.


The house was bright with lights from the old chandeliers and the antique lamps scattered around the living room. Chapel turned and smiled at the two men who were both staring at her with twin looks of hunger.

It was still a treat to see Jim looking at things. He'd had to stay in sickbay longer than they'd expected. She hadn't been sure he'd see again. But he'd gotten better. The Kirk will and the McCoy determination to do everything right. And her own form of stubbornness. Making Jim mind. Making Len sleep.

Jim was looking at her now, eyes working just fine as he watched her and the tight dress she'd bought special for this night, a dress that was cut low in the neckline and high in the skirt.

"Are we doing this now?" she asked and saw their looks of desire turn to something more startled. "Boys, if you don't want me, you can't look at me the way you both just were."

Inside, some part of her hoped that one or the other of them would turn away. This was a big step, the biggest. Maybe too big. Maybe it would destroy them.

And then Jim grinned. And Len did, too. And she found herself laughing softly.

Maybe it wouldn't destroy them. Maybe it would feel good and be fun and be just what the doctor--or nurse, or captain--ordered.

"I want to show you something," Len said, turning and leading them up the huge staircase, into the hall and down to the last door. "The master bedroom."

Chapel gasped with pleasure at the sight of the elegant old room with the enormous bed and the French windows that led onto a veranda with a view of the fields and woods. Len pointed to a door, "All the hot water anyone could want."

She walked over, expecting to see a clawfooted tub, wondering how three of them would fit, but the bathroom had been modernized, with a huge glass shower that looked like it sprayed water from all directions, marble floors that shone softly, and gold fittings that gleamed.

"Nice, Bones." Jim's hand was on her back, rubbing up and down.

She turned quickly, so quickly he didn't have time to pull his hand away, and he ended up rubbing her front, his fingers tripping over her breasts.

She looked at Len, held out her hand. "Get the hell over here."

He walked slowly, nodded at Jim as he moved, his eyes fixed on where Jim's hands met her chest. "Don't stop on my account."

As soon as he was within reach, she pulled him in and wrapped her other arm around Jim. For a moment, they just stood close, breath on her neck from both of them, lips starting to move.

"I don't know what I'd do without you two," she said.

Murmured sounds of assent, reply, understanding.

"I've never done this before. Three of us..."

She heard Jim chuckle, heard Len murmur, "And you think we're the kings of the threesome?"

She turned and kissed him, and he pulled her in, his mouth capturing hers, his tongue rough. He ran his hand down her side, lingering all the places her boss should not be touching.

When he finally pulled away, he said, "I've been wanting to do that for...well, forever."

She turned to Jim, who gave her a gentle smile, and she felt a pang for him, a pang she never felt for Len. Jim's cocky exterior hid a world of hurt--and a scared little boy.

"Are we going to do this, Captain?"

He nodded slowly.

"Is it a good idea?"

He shook his head, his grin growing.

"Do we care?" She included Len in the question.

"We may care." Jim looked at Len. "And...there are aspects of this I haven't explored before." He reached out, his movement almost tentative, as he touched Len's hair, then slid his finger gently along the slope of his cheek, the edge of his jaw.

Len gulped, but he didn't look away. "Me either, Jim."

Jim turned back to her. "I believe you were about to kiss me and find out just how much better I am than this yokel."

She saw Len look down with a smile, and then she didn't see anything because Jim was kissing her, and she closed her eyes and rode it out. When he let her go, she felt Len's hands supporting her from behind, and then his body pressed against her back.

"I want to see you two kiss." When they hesitated, she murmured, "Indulge me, boys."

Len moved around first, and that didn't surprise her. She'd always known he loved Jim. He'd just probably never planned to ever express his love in this particular way.

"I love you both," she said softly, letting her hands fall on their shoulders, guiding them gently, inexorably toward each other.

Their lips met. For a moment, it was awkward. For a moment, she thought they were going to back off with just a chaste peck. Then Jim ran his hand down Len's arms, and Len groaned, and suddenly they were kissing ferociously. A moment later, Jim grabbed her, pulled her in between them. She felt Len's lips on her neck as Jim kissed her. Len was pulling off her clothes, and Jim helped, and soon she was naked and caught between them. Held tight whenever they leaned toward each other, kissing over her shoulder.

They moved toward the bed. A shuffle of entangled limbs and locked lips. They shifted and slid and eventually fell onto the soft, welcoming mattress.

Jim touched her first, his fingers going deep, and she knew he was making sure she was ready.

She'd never been more ready in her life.

As he moved over her, into her, and as Len knelt beside them, kissing her, then kissing Jim, she let go, surrendered to what they were doing.

Surrendered with a cry that Jim smiled at, and Len leaned in and said, "Oh, darlin', if you think that was good..." And then once Jim moved out of the way, he proceeded to show her his definition of good.

There was something to be said for being older and wiser. She saw Jim frowning as she came, knew a competition was in order--damn Uhura for her perceptiveness. She hoped to hell she'd survive this battle of wills and tongues and fingers and...other bits.

In the interest of preserving some of her strength, she rubbed their backs, moving them gently closer, felt the moment of resistance and then the surrender as they took over, leaning in, lips meeting again. She lay back, catching her breath, the sweat on her skin drying and leaving goose bumps as she watched the men she adored make love.

Jim collapsed next to her. Len crawled over to the other side. They lay, their legs catching hers up, pulling hers apart, as they breathed heavily and smiled at each other. Their attack on her was perfectly synched. Fingers, lips, tongues.

Jim kissed her, muffling her cries as she came. She returned the favor, her mouth covering Len's when Jim took him over the edge. She pushed Jim to his back, got to know his alter ego a little better.

"Oh, dear, God. I'm not going to survive this," Len murmured as he watched her work on Jim.

"You?" Jim's voice croaked a little as he stroked her hair and let her have her way with him.

She just laughed softly and kept on doing what she was doing.

The night seemed to last forever. Their bodies melding, then pulling away. Kisses and strokes and sweet words being whispered in the warm darkness. At one point, they moved to the shower, playing in the water, enjoying the streams hitting them from all angles. Finally leaving the marble and glass paradise to fall damp and happy in the bed. She lay still for a while, tucked into Jim's arms, her legs covering Len as he lay on his side watching them both.

"I'm not sure I can tell you both how much I love you," he said softly. "When I met you"--he looked at Jim, his eyes softening--"I was at the lowest point of my life. I had nothing."

"Me, too," Jim said softly, tightening one hand on her, reaching out with the other to grasp Len's arm.

"Mmm," she said. It wasn't coherent, wasn't even English, but it meant she was happy. It meant she felt safe. She forced words out. "I'm so glad we all met."

"More than met, sweetheart," Jim said, pushing against her, letting her know that he was ready when she was.

"Mmm," she said again, glad that they didn't seem to mind how inarticulate she was.

As the night wore on, talking became increasingly optional.

----------------

McCoy brought coffee out to the veranda, saw Christine frown when she took in the two extra cups. He sat in the chair next to her and played with her hair while she leaned back, her legs lying over Jim's lap.

Jim was only a moment behind her on the coffee-cup count. "We expecting company, Bones?"

"Just those two." McCoy nodded down the walk as Uhura and Spock walked up.

Uhura hid a smile as she took in the three of them. Spock's expression was one of Vulcanish shock. McCoy could feel his lip sliding up on the side into the smile that used to piss off his mother, knew it was bad and wrong of him to enjoy Spock's discomfort, but damn he did.

"Nobody get up," he murmured. "It's all fine. We're here. They're here. No secrets."

"You couldn't have run this by us?" Jim sounded almost panicked.

"Nope."

"You're an ass," Christine said, but there wasn't much energy in her voice, and she pushed her head against his hand harder as if to take the sting out of her words.

"Captain. Doctor. Nurse."

"And the baker and candlestick-maker, too, if we're lucky, Spock." McCoy nodded at the vacant chairs around the table. "Take a load off and have some coffee. It's not something you avoid, is it, Spock?"

"I occasionally indulge," Spock said, as Uhura practically pushed him into one of the chairs.

"So, this is your house?" Uhura grinned at him in a way that said she was both amused and a little bit embarrassed. But mostly enjoying herself--at their expense. Probably felt good for her to suddenly be the one in the more traditional relationship.

"I'll give you a tour later, Nyota. It's been in my family for ages." He played a little more aggressively with Christine's hair. "We've been enjoying ourselves here."

"So it would appear." Spock did not meet their eyes.

"Oh for God's sake, Spock. Just find your green-blooded gonads and ask us what the hell is going on here."

"It is quite apparent, Doctor, what is going on here."

"Well, okay, then. You know. She knows. We all know. It's out there. Let's move on."

"To moving on," Uhura said, holding up her mug and failing to hide a grin. She glanced at Jim. "You're uncharacteristically quiet."

"Just wasn't expecting this." But Jim didn't get up. He didn't push Christine's legs off. In fact, he put his coffee back on the table, then leaned back and stretched one arm out until his hand rested on McCoy's. He rubbed Christine's feet with the other.

That was why McCoy loved the man: in for a penny, in for a goddamned pound.

He let the moment be, let Spock take it in, enjoyed the feeling of Jim's hand on him. Then he said, "So, there's this new vegetarian restaurant run by a friend of mine, Spock. She's thrilled at the idea of cooking lunch for you. The three of us sort of...skipped breakfast. I know I'm famished."

Jim and Christine echoed with versions of "Me, too."

Spock took a deep breath, and for a moment, McCoy thought he might get up and leave. Spock glanced at Uhura, who smiled gently at him. Then he glanced at Jim, and studied him.

"Something you want to say, Spock?"

"A question. Are you happy?"

Jim smiled. A real smile, if still a little uncomfortable. "I am."

Uhura nudged Spock. "There are others in this equation."

"I only have to look at them to know they are enjoying this."

McCoy thought that was probably the most diplomatic way Spock could say that he didn't give a rat's ass how they felt. Which was good for Jim, actually. To have another friend. Someone he wasn't sleeping with.

Jim needed all the friends he could get.

But then Spock met McCoy's eyes. "I am...happy for you. All of you."

Christine laughed softly. "Ny's rubbing off on you, Spock."

"Undoubtedly so, Christine." He seemed to finally settle, reached for the coffee and sipped it.

McCoy felt something inside him relax, too. He smiled and closed his eyes. The birds were singing. He could smell the gardenias in the planters. And the soft breeze wafted over them.

He'd never felt more at home.

FIN