It's Jim's birthday. Words: 1200 ; Title: CocoRosie
searching (for my father's power)
During their first year at the Academy, Bones figures out that Jim has never celebrated his birthday. Not once. Ever. Bones doesn't give a shit about his own birthday, personally, but he's got a kid who glows weeks before the actual event and to take that from a child is a crime. (It's not the first strike against Winona Kirk in Bones's book, but it's one of the biggest.)
So Bones checks (hacks into) Jim's files, which are all so secret, not even his doctor gets to see everything, hence the hacking, and finds out the exact time James Tiberius Kirk was born. And then he makes Jim a deal. He gets to mope about the loss of the one parent that might have been any good until that exact minute.
After that, they celebrate. (Celebration in this case meaning: get drunk as skunks and forget what exactly it is they are celebrating in the first place). Any gift Bones gives Jim usually has to wait until the next day, when the hangover has become manageable.
It's a fine system, that. And it works.
Right up until the bridge crew comes up to Bones and asks him where they should have the captain's birthday party.
He tries to stop them once, twice and then once again and gets kicked in the shin by Uhura of all people, who explains, very calmly, that she knows exactly what Kirk's birthday marks and that she also knows about Bones's deal with the captain and they are getting in on it, because he's their captain and the captain's birthday is as close as the crew of a spaceship gets to an official holiday these days.
He lets her get away with the excuse and takes the job of distracting Jim because that way, at least, he can pretend ignorance, thanks a lot.
They start in on the booze early, but they're still only halfway through the first bottle of booze when Jim leans against Bones's shoulder, rolling his eyes up until he's looking at the doctor upside down. "They're planning a surprise party, aren't they?"
He barely slurs his words. Bones nods solemnly and confesses, "I'm the distraction."
Predictably, Jim's grin turns lewd. "Distract me then, Doctor," he demands, pressing a sloppy kiss to the shoulder he's leaning against.
Bones wraps his arm around his shoulders, draws him in, draws him close. (As close as he can ever get Jim without surgically sewing himself into the captain's skin. As close as Jim ever lets him, which is closer than anyone else and still, some days, as far away as the distance between stars.)
He pulls him close and whispers secrets into his skin, secrets like 'I'm sorry', 'I know you miss him', 'it's okay to hate him'. And: 'I won't leave'.
All of those things, too quietly spoken to hear, until the clock ticks over that one minute and Jim gathers himself like a ragdoll, pulling all his pieces back inside and putting his grin back on. He rolls out of bed and jumps into his pants, tugging on Bones's hand. "Come on, Bones," he demands, smiling too widely, "Time for my surprise party!"
The good doctor rolls over in bed and thinks that this is not how things are supposed to go. He thinks that parents are supposed to live for their kids, not die for them.
(He thinks of his little girl and misses her so badly his teeth ache.)
The room is dark as they enter it and Bones is glad that Jim knows about the surprise, because otherwise, he'd been shooting when the lights suddenly flare and the entire bridge crew jumps out of the shadows, yelling, "Happy Birthday!"
Someone put a party hat on Spock. Bones has to bite back laughter and hangs at Jim's shoulder as the man hugs everyone and lets himself be slapped on the back. His smile is bright and fixed, the smile that looks so very brilliant until you get a real one, until you realize that Jim's bright smiles are like the lights they shine in your face during an interrogation. A distraction that makes it impossible to see what lies beyond.
Uhura finds Bones eventually, pulling him away from the adoring crowd that keeps swelling and dwindling as other members of the crew come and go. "Is he happy?" she asks and Bones is surprised.
He didn't know the woman knew Jim well enough to tell something was wrong. He shrugs anyway and nods. "Sure. He loves being the center of attention."
Uhura snorts derisively, in the way he knows by now, is reserved for when she wants to laugh but has to pretend to be tough. "That he does," she agrees, easily. Bones has no idea if she's lying or not and before he can ask, she is lost in the crowd again.
The captain is the next person to find him, leaning against a wall, watching. "Hey, Bones," he drawls, almost slurring. Too much booze. "Whatcha doing all the way over here?"
(Usually, Bones would say something biting. Something about how he fled from the adoring masses and Jim's grabby hands. Today is not usually.) He says, "Just watching, kid."
And Jim's bright smile is back, all teeth and nothing behind it and he slinks a step closer, closing a distance that isn't really there in the first place and Bones thinks that maybe Jim wants to sew himself into Bones the same way Bones wants to sew himself into Jim. (Closer, closer, closer).
"Watching me?" the captain asks and it's all sex and seduction and Bones finds himself wondering what Jim might have been like. If George had lived. If Winona hadn't abandoned him to his stepfather's tender mercies. If he hadn't had to raise himself and fight so much and be so hard. If someone had loved him before Bones threatened to puke on him in that shuttle.
(He wonders if this Jim is every Jim, or of there is an unhurt, undamaged version out there, somewhere. A version whose smiles are dimmer, but more real. )
He wonders if there is a Jim whose birthday is not a nauseating mixture of grief, hate, despair, loneliness and rancid, defiant joy.
"Always," he agrees with the captain, tugs him another inch closer. Jim tries to kiss him and he turns his head away, refuses the advance and wraps his arms around Jim's shoulders and hip instead. Holds him close. (Holds him together.)
To his surprise, Jim lets him.
When they see the other Spock the next time, Bones will ask him about the other Jim, his Jim. He'll ask about what he was like, ask if he had the same razor blade edges and the same floodlight smile. He'll ask if the other Jim celebrated his birthday.
(That's a lie.)
("You alright?" he asks eventually, redundantly, while he's pouring Jim into his bed later, so much later.
Jim laughs a bit into his shoulder and then nods. "Yeah.")