"I gotta study," Jim says with a smirk and a quick waggle of his eyebrows before slapping him on his upper arm and taking off across campus towards the dormitories.
Len waves him off with his briefcase. "Study, my ass," he grumbles and turns towards the library to do some actual studying.
Jim's rarely subtle about anything but especially when it comes to sex. If the way his ass fits into his cadet uniform and draws the eye when he swaggers is any indication. Kid probably gets more tail than he really knows what to do with. Yet he certainly manages. The kid knows how to handle anything thrown at him pretty well.
Len is beginning to doubt if Jim even knows what the word 'study' actually means. Considering the kid doesn't even have to load the damn title page of any textbooks on his reader to be at the top of all of his classes, it's more than obvious that he isn't studying even though he claims to be running off to do it very often. But no one wears that kind of grin after studying.
And it's starting to really piss Len off.
He tells himself that it's not because Jim is having sex with other people but because Len has to actually work for his grades. He's a disgruntled doctor who's basically reliving the horrors of med school with cadets half a decade younger than him. If he isn't on clinic duty (as one of the only damn competent doctors in the building), he's got his nose glued to a PADD screen. He breathes coffee and is lucky if he gets four hours sleep a night, which is normally done hunching over his desk and drooling on his notes. He takes every test anxious and paranoid but manages to make the top of all his classes.
Jim runs off and fucks something then sleeps nine hours after stuffing himself on junk food and gets the same results.
Then, with all his extra time, he goes and bothers Len away from his studying. He always protests, but he can't help but be kind of grateful. Just because he has no life doesn't mean he doesn't want one.
"'Mtotitily shoulder," Jim slurs.
"Sober, my ass," Len mutters as he wonders faintly how in the hell he managed to understand any of the words that just came out of Jim's mouth.
The man with an arm slung over his shoulders suddenly breaks into a fit of chuckles. "Titily."
"Yeah, great," he says, trying not to breath in the smell of Jim that seems to be surrounding him, distracting him.
On the weekends when Len should be catching up on all of the sleep he's lost in the week, Jim drags him out to witness him doing something stupid. The bar they're currently walking back from is particularly disgusting and makes Len's inner mysophobe scream but all of the patrons there are friendly-ass drunks and Jim never seems to get into any fights. Of course, that just means the chance to drink more.
Len is always better at holding his liquor. Not that Jim is a lightweight, but he still has a few more years of heavy drinking before he can build as high a tolerance. This leaves Len, who isn't exactly seeing in focus either, to be the one hauling Jim's ass back to campus at four in the morning. They'll both collapse onto their respective beds. Or sometimes the same bed though the most that ever happens is Jim somehow managing to curl around Len like some kind of octopus.
And Len will tenaciously deny that those are some of the best nights sleep he's ever gotten even if he knows for a fact it's true.
By the time they manage to get back to their dorm room, the man is unconscious, but Len's aware enough to take Jim to his own bed and gently dumps him onto the mattress so his head hits the pillow. He kneels down and fumbles with the kid's sneakers. Next, he tugs his jeans off (with some difficulty since they're way too tight but damn if Jim doesn't wear them well) and pulls his shirt over his head. Len rises, allowing a moment for the dizziness to subside before standing up straight.
And Jesus, even drunk off his ass and passed out on the bed he looks fucking beautiful with a body that reminds Len of one of those old classical statues only with a golden hue replacing the marble white. How this kid doesn't get taken advantage of every night is beyond comprehension. Len would never consider it, but in some sick way he can kind of see why someone might do it.
He grimaces at the thought before he shimmies the sheets from underneath Jim's near-naked and wanton body and drapes it over him, effectively obscuring any temptation.
He may have just gotten back from a bar, but he could really go for another drink.
"You can just leave, yanno."
"Naw, I'm alright." Jim's voice comes from his left.
"Don' waste your time, kid," he mutters, staring at the blurry, dark beige color of his forearm covering his eyes.
He feels the bed sink down next to him. "I'm not," Jim says, and God, that twists Len's guts.
He just called back to Georgia again today. The result was one of the reasons his marriage failed. Her random-ass mood swings. He always tries phoning during that small period of time between when Joanna gets home from school and the ex gets home from work. On the off chance that she's there when he calls and unless Jo is right in the room, it's a gamble if he'll get into a heated argument or actually get to talk to his daughter. It's like she's had PMS for the last six years straight.
Today happens to be one of her pissy days. He barely gets to see Jo as it is and the ex won't let him talk to her for five goddamn minutes.
But it really doesn't matter in the end. Whether he talks to her or not, Len becomes depressed. Normally, he just drinks himself into a mild coma and skips classes the next day. But after the first time Jim found him on a bender during their first year as cadets two years ago, the kid always seems to know when it's going to happen and magically shows up to keep him away from the booze.
Jim stays with him the whole day. They never do anything. Len lies there keeping his thoughts to himself and Jim just sits with him. Doesn't provoke him or talk about the stupid(ly endearing) shit he normally does. Jim's got so many other things he could do instead. He's young and fit and charismatic. He should be out fucking something with legs for miles and that screams his name. He shouldn't be wasting his time on a miserable, old drunk.
He guesses Jim wants to give him someone to confide in, but Len never talks. He's never been much of a talker about the things that actually matter. He'll rant until your ears are red about bullshit but nothing actually important. Not before today, anyway.
"She's so beautiful," he hears himself say. "You should see her. Jesus, I don' even have any pictures of her."
"She won't even send you pictures of her?" Jim blurts out in disbelief.
"She don' want me to have anythin' to do with her."
"What? You're supposed to forget your own daughter?"
"That's what I did before. I'd get caught up at the hospital instead of spend time with her."
He hears a snort. "You know what's not true. That sounds like the ex talking. You know you love your daughter. You know she misses you."
"Misses, my ass," Len mutters.
The bed drips further. He feels body heat close to his side. He feels fingers stroke gently through his hair. "You can't tell me she's not excited to talk to her daddy when he calls."
Len doesn't answer, absorbed in the memory of Jo's smiling face the last time he successfully called nearly two months ago. She got an A on a math quiz and was given the privilege of taking care of the class rabbit for the next week with a boy named Carter who has bad breath and picks his nose.
He feels himself suddenly grow extremely tired and begins to drift off into a dreamless sleep. He thinks he feels lips ghost over his, but he convinces himself it was just his imagination.
A month or two later, Len finds a package on his desk. He opens it to find a picture of his smiling daughter sitting on a tire swing. It's in one of those ugly, brightly colored plastic frames his ex always uses so he knows Jim got it through less than legal means. It was the first time he cried in over a decade.
Len cuts the blood-soaked gold uniform away from the ripped skin on Jim's chest. "Careful, my ass," he mutters.
He never gets used to it. Not that he wants to. God forbid the day his heart doesn't jump into his throat when Jim materializes splattered red, barely standing or slouched against Spock. But it's starting to fray his nerves. He's sick of washing Jim's blood from underneath his fingernails. He's sick of watching red swirl down the sink drain. He wants to kidnap Jim and stick in some white padded room with a damn straightjacket on.
It's the 'nothing can go wrong!' missions that end with Jim like this. It's those missions that have Len paranoid. On the missions where danger is obvious, precautions are made and the crew prepares for battle, allowing most disasters to be avoided or at least taken care of quickly. The leisure missions are the ones. Everyone is relaxed and happy and skipping along, and then some crazy-assed native lobs a spear at some unsuspecting redshirt and all hell breaks lose. Suddenly more red shirts are coming up than went down. And of course Jim has to be a damn hero and save someone's life by risking his own.
Then again, that's what Jim does. Risks his life. It doesn't matter what he's doing, he always nearly dies, or at least it seems like it. The kid can't even eat a fruit without risking his life. Jesus, Len himself nearly kills Jim everyday. The doctor's on the verge of a heart attack every time he gives him a hypo, afraid he's about to cause the kid to have a seizure. Or to blow up like a freaking balloon, closing his windpipe and suffocating him to death.
It takes him two hours to fix Jim up this time. Of course, his life was only truly in danger until about forty-five minutes in. The rest of the time is spent making sure there will be no trace of scars. Partly because Jim is a vain bastard and while having some scars are sexy, having your body covered in them so that it looks like you just got fixed up after going through a giant blender, just makes you look crazy.
But if Len was honest with himself, and he rarely is, he'd admit that he likes Jim better without the scars. Leaving a scar on him would be like scratching a priceless work of art and he doesn't like to defile beauty. There just isn't enough of it in the universe.
At the first nudge to his shoulder, Len ignores it. At the second, he groans and hikes the comforter up to more effectively conceal his head from the outside world. At the third, he only grips his cocoon tighter. He can't let him remove it. If he does and he opens his eyes to see Jim's beautiful, eager face, there's no way he could refuse whatever the hell he's going to try to make him do. And Len's too stubborn to give into this kid that damn easily.
With a sudden yank, his sanctuary is torn away. Cold air rushes over his back and light stabs at his eyes. He grimaces and clenches his eyes shut, both to avoid the light and Jim's face.
There's a sigh and a rustle of cloth, but nothing else.
Jim's presence without his mouth running begins to unsettle Len. He'd ask how he got into his quarters, but this isn't the first time he's just let himself in. Through hacking, of course. He'd never abuse his Captain's override. Break rules and privacy regulations, yes, but not abuse his power. "Are you just going to sit there and stare at me all day?"
"Yep," he says simply.
McCoy groans. "What do you want?"
"Let's watch a holovid."
Len scowls. "Holovid? What the hell are you talkin' about?"
"Come on, let's do something."
"Somethin'?" he grunts.
"We haven't hung out in ever. In weeks. You always kick me out of sickbay when you're on duty. Off duty, you've been hiding in your quarters."
"Hidin', my ass," he snaps. "I've been tired, Jim. Let me sleep. Don't wake a man up so early."
Jim chuckles. "Oh yeah, sorry," he says, not sounding apologetic in the least. "I guess 1300 hours is a bit early, huh?"
Len stuffs his face further into his pillow. Alright, maybe he has him there. Shit.
"You're just going to depress yourself, Bones. Sleeping all day."
He felt Jim poke his side. He jumps, startled, and bats the hand away. This damn kid. Why can't he be selfish and irate like everyone else? Where the hell does he get off being so kind-hearted?
"You've probably gained some weight too."
Nevermind. This kid is a jackass. "I'm in better shape then you are," he says, his voice muffled by the pillow. "You're just a lump of flab."
"What?" Jim says defensively. "I am damn sexy."
Yes. Yes, you are. Wait. Damnnit Len, don't start thinking like that. "You keep eatin' like you do, you won't be able to get through doors anymore."
He hears a snort. "Yeah right. You've restricted my replicator access to force me to eat better. I've eaten more greens in the last month than I have in my entire life."
"Soon, we'll have to refit the captain's chair," he continues as if Jim didn't just state a fact very damning to his argument. "To accommodate that huge ass of yours."
He feels calloused hands suddenly grip his upper arm and drag him forcibly out of his bunk. "I was going to make you just sit and watch a movie or play a game with me."
"Jesus, Jim." Len stumbles to keep himself from falling face first onto the ground. He suddenly finds clothing thrown into his face.
"Now, we're going to the gym. To work out for hours. Hours and hours. Then you'll be more than acquainted with just how fit my ass is."
Len grunts and pulls the shirt and sweats from his head. Even in the terrible artificial lighting, Jim's face is glowing his usual gold hue. His blue eyes are wide and shining. A grin plays on his full lips.
So. 'Hours and hours' of watching Jim's ass in his way-too-tight gym shorts? He decides to go along with it. For the sake of Jim's health, obviously.
And the one is coming soon.