Today was going to be a good day. Captain Kirk could feel it deep down in her gut. Enterprise was in tip-top shape after a full shake down, the infirmary was mercifully empty, Spock had finally forgiven her for beating him at three-dimensional chess two nights ago and their only orders from Starfleet were to forge into unexplored space to find out what was there. And really, any morning spent straddled on Dr. Leonard McCoy's lap inevitably led into a great afternoon.
Kirk waited impatiently as the lift rose up through the ships' many levels before finally stopping at the bridge. She bounded onto her bridge with a grin and jogged to her chair where Spock met her with a lifted eyebrow.
"You're very energetic this morning, Captain," he observed as he handed her a clipboard full of the previous shift's activities for her to sign off on. She gave it a cursory glance and signed her name with flourish.
"Yes, I am, Mr. Spock," Kirk answered. "The world is my oyster this morning."
"Indeed," Spock said with the barest hint of sarcasm. Her grin widened. Spock must be in a good mood too if he let a comment like that slip by without the usual exposition about the relative illogic of human idioms. "I can't speak to that, Captain, but I do hope you won't be disappointed to learn that it's been very quiet for the past 12 hours. Scans indicate a lack of any planetary bodies in this sector."
"Something'll turn up, Spock," Kirk countered. She slung herself into the Captain's chair and crossed one leg over the other. "I can feel it."
"I see," Spock said. "Since there is nothing on the scans, then the only excitement to be found will have to occur onboard. For my part, I would rather not have to deal with an emergency of that nature."
He was probably imagining a scenario where the warp core became unstable and ended up breaking the ship apart. A movement caught Kirk's eye and she turned to see Chekov smirking at them over his shoulder. Feigning a serious look, Kirk glared at Chekov, who gulped, turned red and whirled back around to face the viewscreen. She laughed to herself, then turned back to Spock, who wasn't rolling his eyes, but probably wished he could.
"Don't worry about that. I can make my own excitement without endangering all our lives," Kirk said.
"I've seen no evidence to support that claim, Captain," Spock said gravely.
"Captain!" Uhura's voice, urgent and bewildered, snapped them out of their conversation. Kirk swiveled her chair to face the comm station.
"What's the matter, Lieutenant?"
"I'm..." She glanced up, eyes wide. "I'm picking up a distress call."
Kirk looked back to Spock. "See? I told you."
"Where does the signal originate?" Spock asked her, ignoring Kirk. They both walked to her station, watching over her shoulder as her fingers flew over the panel, pinpointing the signal. Kirk felt her shoulders tense up and finally felt her own first stirrings of real concern. Anything that freaked out her typically rock solid communications officer would surely give them a bit more trouble than they wanted.
"It's a Starfleet signal, Commander," Uhura answered, sitting back to give them room to see her full panel. She turned from Spock to the Captain. "Less than five minutes at full speed from our current location."
"Transfer the coordinates to the helm," Kirk said, returning to her seat. "Sulu, full speed to the coordinates, if you please."
"Yes, Captain," Sulu said.
Okay, so there really shouldn't be any Federation vessels out here. It could be a trap. Probably was, in fact. But if there were even the slightest chance another 'Fleet ship was in trouble, Kirk was going to come to their aid. She would never let one of their own go down if she could help it.
Kirk heard Spock mutter a 'fascinating' to himself as he and Uhura worked on deciphering the signal, but her attention was drawn away from their task when the lift doors opened and McCoy sauntered onto the bridge, his eyes glued to the electronic clipboard in his hands. She watched with fondness as the good doctor managed to navigate the step down to her chair without lifting his gaze or falling over his own feet. It wasn't till he stood right over her chair that he reacted to his surroundings at all.
"Here," he said, shoving the clipboard into her hands. "I brought it up myself because, quite frankly, I was getting bored in Sickbay. Not that I'm complaining-'
"Yes, you are," Kirk interrupted cheerfully. "And you're just in time. We've had a distress call."
McCoy tilted his head at her, as if he hadn't quite heard her right. "I'm sorry, what? A distress call from where? Engineering?"
"Captain?" Once again interrupted by Uhura, Kirk allowed the smile to slip off her face and transferred her attention away from the admittedly endearing puzzled irritation on McCoy's face back to her duty. "I can't really believe this, but I've checked it five times, so..."
"What is it, Lieutenant?"
Spock and Uhura exchanged glances.
"The distress call is coming from the Enterprise, Captain," Spock said, apparently having lost the silent argument between himself and Uhura. Now it was Kirk's turn to tilt her head. Beside her, McCoy crossed his arms over his chest and glared at Spock, as if the First Officer had been confusing on purpose.
"What do you mean?" Kirk asked.
"The signal is precisely the same as our own, Captain. It is coming from the Enterprise NCC-1701," Spock said again. He didn't offer an explanation because, Kirk imagined, he had no idea what was going on and didn't want to guess.
"So it's not coming from out there, but in here somewhere?"
"Negative, Captain," Spock replied calmly. "It's coming from another ship."
"Why don't you try being less clear, Spock?" McCoy said, but without real heat. The two men had long ago fallen into a pattern of mutual annoying that neither could quite break, even in the middle of a situation. Kirk ignored him.
"What does it say?"
"It's the standard distress setting, Captain. A general appeal of assistance without further explanation," Spock said.
"Captain, we'll be arriving at the coordinate's location in thirty seconds," Sulu warned them from the helm. Kirk looked at Spock, then at McCoy, but when neither had anything to offer, she shrugged and returned to her seat.
"I guess we'll just have to see when we get there," she said. Several theories spun themselves in her mind. Perhaps it really was another Enterprise, but from a different time. After all, it wouldn't be the first time it'd happened. Even now, a very much older Spock resided on New Vulcan, helping rebuild his nearly decimate race. It wasn't out of the realm of possibility that it'd happened again. Kirk felt a flutter of nerves in her stomach. Maybe she was racing to the rescue of herself, an older version.
Or it could be a trick. A race hostile to the Federation could have found a way to steal and replicate the Enterprise's signals, using them to lure an unsuspecting Federation vessel into their trap. If that was the case, they had a surprise waiting for them when the Enterprise itself showed up to answer the call.
Either way, this was exactly the sort of excitement Kirk had been hoping for. And if she was being truthful, she sort of hoped it was the time travelling thing. It'd be great fun to talk to herself. Or even better talk to an older McCoy. Maybe with an elegant touch of gray at the temples. She wondered if she could talk herself into trading off for the night. Give the older Kirk a night with a young agile Bones while she found out what age and wisdom had wrought for the old boy...
"You're enjoying this, aren't you?" McCoy accused quietly.
"You know me," she said, smiling up at him. McCoy just shook his head, but Kirk read his affection under his apparent despair of her.
"Dropping out of warp," Sulu announced. Tension grew thick on the bridge as everyone leaned forward.
"Viewer on," Kirk said.
Screens full of complicated data glided away and were replaced with the dark expanse of space. Billions of stars filled the viewer and right in the middle, alone and in no apparent danger that Kirk could see, sat an exact copy of the NCC-1701.
"Well, I'll be damned," McCoy murmured.
"Fascinating," Spock said again.
"What the hell?" Kirk added.
"They're hailing us, Captain," Uhura said, almost tonelessly, her surprise so great that she didn't seem capable of any real reaction. Kirk just nodded and pointed at the viewer.
As she watched, their own bridge sprung into existence on the viewer. Around her, she heard a variety of small gasps and breathy murmurs, but her attention zeroed in on the very handsome man sitting in her chair.
"Oh thank god," he said, standing. "Hello, I'm...what the hell?"
His expression of relief instantly changed to one Kirk felt sure she wore on her face. Utter amazement. They stared at each other for a split second before they both looked away, eyes flicking around the opposite bridge. Kirk felt the flutter in her stomach turn into a thundering charge of nervous excitement. At the other man's helm sat a very shocked replica of Mr. Sulu and beside him, a perfect likeness of Chekov's mouth hung open. Over his shoulder was Mr. Spock; behind him sat Uhura at her station. And to the other captain's left, just as to Kirk's own left, stood Dr. McCoy, her own dear Bones with his hair swept over his forehead and his dark brown eyes glued to her in deep consternation.
"Where the hell did we land, Spock?" she heard the other Captain ask.
"It would appear we have travelled much further than I suspected, Captain," his Spock answered. "I believe we have arrived in an alternate dimension from our own."
"He must be correct, Captain," her Spock offered. "There has long been a belief in alternate dimensions that resemble our own very closely. It's possible that this Enterprise somehow crossed from their own dimension into ours."
"Who are you?" Kirk blurted out, finally returning her gaze to the only man that didn't match her crew to the last detail.
"I'm Captain James T. Kirk. Who're you?" he shot back.
"Dear God," Bones muttered. Suddenly, Kirk's vision of sharing her Bones with herself became a lot more complicated. And possibly more interesting.
"I'm Captain Jameson T. Kirk," she answered.
"Dear God," the other Bones said.
"You can't be seriously considering this, Jamie!"
"Why the hell not?"
Kirk and Bones faced each other in her ready room, both wearing identical expressions of exasperation. Beside him, Spock stood silently, waiting for them to finish arguing so they could get on with doing whatever Kirk decided they should do. Kirk knew she had Spock's support and the only reason she didn't have Bones was because he was worried about her. They had a few moments to let him vent his concern, so she just let him get on with it.
"These people could be crazy, that's why the hell not! Sure, they look like us, but we don't know anything about them. What's that theory, Spock? Infinite diversity or something?" he asked, flapping a hand in Spock's direction.
"Infinite diversity in infinite combinations," Spock said. "It could certainly be applied to alternate dimensions-"
"See!" McCoy cut in, earning himself a raised eyebrow that he didn't see. "God only knows what they're really like. They could come from a dimension where, I don't know, they enslave women or eat babies or-"
Kirk rolled her eyes and turned away to gather her phaser and communicator. "So what, an 'evil' dimension? Come on, Bones, did they seem evil?"
"They seemed shifty to me," Bones declared, but with less force. Kirk knew he knew his worries weren't logical, but she also knew he had to make them or he'd explode.
"They seemed like the same people to me," Kirk countered, clipping her communicator to her side. "Well, nearly the same," she said with a grin. "Maybe a bit more here and there and a bit less elsewhere, but that man was just like me, Bones. You must have seen that."
He couldn't have missed it. They could have been twins, right down to their thick dark blond hair and ice-blue eyes. But it was more than looks. The other Kirk sounded like her, he moved like her. They both held themselves with the same cocksure confidence. He commanded the respect and attention of his crew just as surely as she did her own. There was no way she was going to give up the opportunity to learn what she'd be like if she'd been born into a male body instead of a female one.
"Yeah, I saw," Bones said. His tone was distracted, almost disturbed and Kirk looked at him more closely.
"Hey, Spock, we'll meet you in the transporter room," Kirk said. She drew her eyes from Bones to give her best friend a significant glance. The corner of Spock's mouth quivered, but he only nodded and left. Her relationship with McCoy was a kind of open secret among the crew and she had a silent agreement with Spock that if his relationship with Uhura didn't interrupt his work, he wouldn't say anything if hers with Bones didn't interrupt her duty.
Once he was gone, Kirk lifted a hand to Bones' face, trailing her fingers lightly over his jaw. "Are you ok?"
"I just wish you wouldn't keep throwing yourself headlong into situations like this," McCoy said, settling a warm hand on her hip.
"I know what I'm doing," Kirk said. She moved in closer and pressed herself fully against McCoy, feeling a small shiver of pleasure. "You've never had trouble trusting me before," she said softly, draping her arms around his neck.
"Are you kidding me?" His other hand swept up her back and he leaned back against her desk, pulling her between his opened legs. "Sure I trust you, but you're also out of your mind. Besides, it's not you I don't trust. I don't like the way that other me was looking at you."
For a moment, she just stared at him. Then she burst into laughter.
"You're jealous of yourself?"
"Don't you make fun of me," he said gruffly. "That other McCoy's never seen you as a girl. Who knows what he's thinking now," he said, his tone dark.
"Well, if he's thinking of a threesome, I have to say, the idea isn't the worst one..." she trailed off, suddenly caught up in the mental image of herself nestled between two eager McCoys. The McCoy in front of her frowned and shook her lightly.
"I'm not sharing you. Not even with myself," he declared. Kirk heard the unspoken 'I've had enough of that.' It'd taken them some time to get together. Or rather, it'd taken some time for her to wake up and realize that one of her best friends had fallen in love with her the moment he plunked down next to her on a cadet transport and warned her that he might throw up on her. Until she'd wised up to the joys of sex with someone you actually loved, McCoy had been force to watch her obliviously work her way through nearly all the men in their recruiting class and a couple of the women.
Kirk didn't feel bad about the sex itself. She just happened to love sex. Maybe she did feel a little guilty for blabbing so many details to McCoy before she realized how he felt about her. But he had nothing to worry about anymore. Sure, Kirk still looked. She was only human after all. But she'd never really been tempted to sleep with another man. Not since the first time McCoy'd let out a growl of frustration and pinned her to the nearest wall.
She shook herself. "Sorry," she said with a sheepish smile. Three years now and that memory still got her blood pumping. "Don't worry about the other McCoy, ok? I'm a one McCoy woman," she promised. At least she was now that she realized her Bones had a problem with the idea. "Besides, just because you've never slept with a man doesn't mean the other hasn't," she said, wagging her eyebrows.
"I don't know about that-"
"Infinite diversity," she reminded him. "You may find that the other McCoy is just as protective of his Kirk as you are."
In fact, now that the thought had crossed her mind, she sincerely hoped it was true. Sure, she probably wouldn't get to watch, but boy, she would love to imagine.
"Come on," she said, grabbing his hand. "Let's find out."
"Well, this has to be one of the craziest things we've ever done."
Kirk stepped into the lift and hit the button for the transporter room level. Spock joined him, giving him a longsuffering look as McCoy stalked onto the lift, eyebrows drawn together into one dark line.
"Craziest, Bones? What about that marriage ceremony on Bethi XI?"
McCoy scowled. "You promised you wouldn't mention that anymore. And yes, even more crazy than that. We're getting ready to beam about an identical Enterprise to meet a female version of you."
"You seem more anxious about that than the fact there's an identical version of yourself as well," Kirk commented.
"It's me," Bones said, throwing up his hands. "I see me in the mirror every day. I do not see you as a woman."
"It's hardly surprising, Doctor," Spock interjected. "It takes very little to determine the gender of a human fetus within the womb. In the grand scheme of infinite dimensions, a simple chromosomal difference is hardly significant.""
"Yeah, well, it makes a hell of a difference in people," McCoy groused.
"You don't really think I'd be that different as a girl, do you?" Kirk asked, mostly to annoy Bones. "I think I seemed pretty much the same."
"The same? Are you kidding me? There was...you're..." He made some hand gestures some might consider obscene before giving up and turning to scowl at the wall. Kirk hid a grin. He knew Bones well. The other man tended to become irritable when confronted with something he didn't understand. He didn't really think the other Kirk was going to be all that different in personality, but McCoy had grown up with this old-fashioned attitude towards women. Not that kind that made a man feel superior to women, but rather the kind that made him almost obsessively respectful. McCoy wouldn't know what to do with a Kirk he didn't feel comfortable cursing out.
"Besides, we need their help. They have a Spock, we have a Spock. I say, two Spocks are better than one. They'll figure out how to get us back home," Kirk said with confidence.
"Thank you, Captain," Spock said, though he sounded rather offended.
"You're welcome," Kirk answered as the lift stopped and opened.
"Ah, there you are."
Scotty grinned at them from behind the controls of the transporter. "I've just been talking to myself and I mean that quite literally. They're ready to transport you over as soon as you are, Captain."
"Thank you, Mr. Scott."
He hopped up on one of the round white pads and flashed a grin to a reluctant McCoy. Soon enough, all three stood ready.
The world shimmered around him, fading out of existence and then back again. In essence, nothing changed. They still stood on the same transporter pad with the same metallic walls and small white pads at their feet. Except now, in the previously empty space before the transporter, were three people. Spock, Bones and a very female Kirk.
The two Kirks grinned at each other, equally fascinated.
Kirk stepped down from the transporter and let his eyes roam avidly over the face and body of his counterpart. For the most the part, everything was exactly the same. Her eyes showed the same spark of intelligence and poise in their bright blue depths. Her jaw was strong as well, though softer. Her hair was long, held back from her face in a ponytail trailing down her back, but was the same thick dark blond as his. The most noticeable difference was their height. Somehow, this other Kirk must have inherited their mother's height because he was a good six inches taller than her. Despite the obvious differences in their bodies, they were both lean and athletic. And Kirk had to admit, the legs displayed by her short yellow uniform were pretty spectacular. As were the shapely breasts that admirably filled out the top of her uniform.
In other words, Kirk was a pretty hot woman.
"James T. Kirk," she said, shaking her head in amazement. Her voice was the same tone and timbre, just pitched higher. It, more than anything, gave Kirk a sense of cognitive dissonance. McCoy might have had a point. This was the craziest the thing they'd ever done. She held out a hand for him to shake. "What does the T stand for?"
"Tiberius," he answered, impressed by her firm handshake.
"Oh that's nice. Grandpa," she said and Kirk grinned. It was hard not to like someone who shared the same grandpa. "Mine stands for Theresa. You know, Mom's cousin."
"Yeah, of course," Kirk said, nodding. "So they must be as close in your world as in mine."
"Definitely. Hey, did you manage to get her to buy you that air bike model when you were seven?"
Kirk laughed. "No, even though I begged for weeks."
"What was her problem?" she asked, chuckling.
"I'm sorry. This is just weird," the other Bones suddenly cut in, looking about as annoyed as Kirk figured his own must look. Looking at her Bones proved to be as strange as looking at the other Kirk. Because while he shared a face with Jim's McCoy, Kirk had never seen that look of suspicion on his own Bones before. He couldn't say he cared for it.
"Sorry, Bones," she said, though she didn't sound very apologetic. "I know you don't really need an introduction, but this is Leonard McCoy, my chief medical officer and my first officer, Spock. I suppose they have the same titles in your world?"
"Yes, of course," Kirk said. "Before we go on, maybe I should invite you to call me Jim. It might help keep things straight."
"Good idea. And you all can call me Jamie."
Kirk nodded and looked back at his officers to gage their reactions. Spock had his typical expression of polite interest, though Kirk noticed his eyes strayed most frequently to the other Spock. Even a Vulcan wasn't immune to the surreal nature of this meeting. Bones, on the other hand, couldn't seem to keep his eyes off Jamie. For the first time since they'd seen the bridge full of lookalikes, Kirk felt something other than excitement. It hadn't really occurred to him what it would mean for McCoy to see a female version of Kirk.
He swallowed his sense of unease and smiled at Jamie. "We should get to a computer and see if we can't figure out what happened to us."
"Sure, come this way," she said, holding out a hand to lead them away. On the way out, Kirk tossed off a nod to their Scotty, who nodded back with a grin. Leave to Scotty to take this whole situation in stride. If nothing else, that convinced him that things weren't really all that different here.
"So how long have you two been...you know..."
McCoy glanced away from the strange gaggle of Kirks and Spocks, surprised that his counterpart had sidled up to his side without his noticing. Though truth be told, it was difficult for him to do anything, but calculate the differences between Jamie and Jim. He'd never had any reason to think about it, but Jamie made for a fairly handsome man, if a little smarmy. Somehow McCoy felt that famous Kirk charm worked better on a woman.
Not that he'd say it to the McCoy standing stiffly beside him, an all too familiar scowl on his face. It actually relaxed him to see it. It was comforting to know he felt the same way, no matter the dimension.
"Am I that obvious?" he asked mildly.
The other McCoy leaned against the wall next to him, unconsciously imitating his stance by crossing one ankle over the other and folding his arms over his chest. They watched the two Spocks arguing over a panel of computers while the two Kirks chatted avidly, oblivious to the rest of the room.
"No," the other McCoy finally answered. "But I know myself pretty well, I'd say. I recognize the look."
McCoy didn't ask what he meant. He had a tendency to wear his heart on his sleeve. Maybe he didn't always say what he felt, but his feelings were frequently on display if someone just took the time to look.
"Three years," he said.
"After the mission to Rigel VI?"
Surprise flashed through McCoy. "Yes." He narrowed his eyes at the other McCoy. "Don't tell me. There was a Rigellian named Teno."
"Tena, but yes," he said. "The final straw."
McCoy should've known. Male or female, it didn't seem to matter. No Leonard McCoy could resist a Kirk for long. Hell, there was probably a universe where McCoy was a woman or they were both women or who knows, one where they were both cats or Vulcans or houseplants.
"I hated that guy," McCoy offered, suddenly feeling a bit more gracious towards his counterpart.
"Tell me about it," he said with a smile, though he kept his eyes on the two Kirks.
"So, then you were never married to Jocelyn," he said, suddenly realizing how very different his life must be without that event. "You never had Joanna."
"Oh no, I have Joanna, thank God," the other McCoy declared. Both spent a moment shaking off the horror at the thought of missing out on their daughter's life. It was bad enough not being able to see her every day and hug her every night before she went to bed.
"So, if you were married, then..." he trailed off, not quite sure how to finish that question and definitely sure it wasn't really any of his business.
"It's just..." McCoy watched in amusement as the other waved a hand helplessly in Kirk's general direction. "It's Jim."
Somehow, McCoy understood. "Don't you miss women?"
"Jim doesn't give me time to miss women," the other answered. "Besides, do you miss women? I mean, other women?"
He had a point. Any relationship had the chance of becoming boring. Or worse yet, becoming so tense you were afraid of making a move for fear of an explosive argument as his marriage had done. But nothing could ever be boring with Jamie Kirk. If for no other reason than she nearly gave McCoy a heart attack every other day.
"No, Jamie's more than enough to fill any man's time," McCoy answered lightly. He gave the other a sideline glance. "Does he have a thing for the Sickbay?"
The other McCoy finally turned away from the Kirks. He planted two fists on his hips and nodded his head vigorously. "Yeah, what the hell is that about anyway? We've nearly been caught three times!"
"Better than us. We have been caught."
"Really?" He eyed him closely. "Who?"
The other let out a loud throaty laugh that caught the attention of the Kirks, who gave him twin questioning head tilts. McCoy waved them off with a cheerful grin, then added in a low tone to the other, "The poor kid can barely look Jamie in the face anymore. She thinks it's hilarious, of course."
"So I was right. The bastard does want to be caught," the other said. "He won't give me half a second to get up and lock the damned door. I should figured him for an exhibitionist."
"Yeah that and I think the secretive nonsense gets to her. She likes to stake a claim," McCoy said. That was one aspect of their relationship he hadn't expected. Watching Jamie go from man to man, McCoy figured her for a love and leave 'em type, not the kind to get attached. It turned out that once she'd made her decision, Jamie Kirk was extremely possessive. Not that she needed to be. McCoy didn't figure that many people were in the market for an irritable old country doctor.
"I guess," the other said, but he didn't sound very convinced. Concern flared up in McCoy's chest.
"What do you mean, you guess? You two're exclusive, right?"
The other nodded. "And it was easier than I thought it would be."
"Yeah, I know the feeling," he muttered. "So what's the problem?"
"Who said there was a problem?" His defensive tone would have given him away even if his avoidance of McCoy's eyes didn't. For a moment, McCoy stayed silent, thinking it over, trying to remember back through the various pitfalls of his own relationship with Kirk. An idea occurred to him and he carefully kept his gaze on the far wall when he said his next words.
"I'm guessing your Kirk is as hardheaded as mine. She blazes through life, sometimes she forgets that other people don't think as fast as her or don't see everything she sees," he said quietly. "But even if I didn't know anything else in your world, I'd know Jim Kirk. If he's anything like mine, he loves you as much as you love him," he said roughly, his throat thick enough to nearly choke the words. Damn, he hated saying stuff like this, but if it'd been him, he'd want to hear them from someone who knew what they're talking about. There'd been a time when McCoy worried that he was the one who'd bore Jamie. After all, who on Earth or any other planet hope to keep up with Jameson T. Kirk? When he'd finally confessed this to her, she'd been flabbergasted. Of course she loved him! Wasn't it obvious?
That's when he'd realized that Jamie wasn't Jocelyn and never would be. Just because his last marriage ended badly didn't mean this new relationship would. And just because Jamie hadn't said she loved him didn't mean she didn't show it with every flash of grin, every time she needed his opinion, every time she showed up in his room to curl up under his covers.
And every time she took a flying leap off the nearest cliff when it was his hand she reached for to hold on the way down.
"Anyway, I reckon they're about the same person," McCoy finished.
"Yeah," the other McCoy said quietly, but his tone was lighter and McCoy smiled. There was a reason half the crew came to him with their personal problems after all.
"Say, does he do that thing? You know that thing with his tongue?" he asked to lift the mood.
The other made a deep growling sound in the back of his throat. "And the palm of his hand? Oh yeah."
McCoy grinned. Some things were universal, it seemed.
"I wonder what they're talking about now," Jamie said, looking at the McCoys across the room. Jim glanced up from the calculations a Spock had handed him and watched the two men on the other side of the room snickering about something.
"There's no telling with him...them." No doubt about it, this was confusing. He enjoyed talking to Jamie, but he wouldn't be sorry to get back to a dimension where there was only one each of him. This whole ordeal was enough to make a man feel very much less significant.
Behind him, the Spocks erupted into another heated, but Jim assumed very logical argument. They'd managed to pinpoint the kind of energy that had opened the rift between dimensions. Now they were trying to figure out how to recreate the effects in such a way that would give them the best chance of getting back to the right dimension. Jim followed more of the conversation than he'd admit to Spock. Mostly because he trusted Spock, but aslo because if they ignored the Kirks, it gave Jim more time to talk to himself.
So far, they'd discovered that only a very few of their life events differed. Little things here and there, of course were different, like the name of the family dog growing up and oddly enough, the age they'd lost their virginity.
"I'm surprised they have broken out the bourbon yet," Jamie commented. She raised her eyebrows at him. "Please tell me you're taking advantage of that opportunity. Because let me tell you, if you aren't, you don't know what you're missing."
"Since when did I ever let an opportunity go by?" Jim said, giving her a wink.
"Thank God I have good sense across dimensions. You hadn't said anything. I was beginning to worry you'd hooked up with Spock or someone instead," she joked. One of the Spocks, Jim wasn't even sure which, gave her an annoyed look.
"I would, but Uhura'd have my balls and not in the good way," he said, drawing a surprised laugh from Jamie.
"So everyone's chasing the same tail. That's good to know. Is Scotty still moping after Nurse Chapel?" she asked.
"Endlessly," Jim assured her. "Some people are just made for each other, I guess."
"Yes," she agreed fondly, gaze now firmly fixed on her Bones, who scowled at her and turned back to his conversation. "What a bastard," she said, laughing again. "He thinks I'm the most difficult person in the world, but I've got nothing on him." She gave Jim a knowing look. "Anything less, right?"
"Exactly," Jim confirmed, pleased with himself. It wasn't like it made his relationship with Bones any more special than before, but he enjoyed knowing that this Kirk cared about her Bones as much as he did for his. Now he wouldn't have to worry about them when they left. A raised comment of derision from a Spock caught his ear and Jim amended his thought. If they got back home.
Jim looked back at the McCoys. One of them, hers Jim felt certain, was waving his hands about in a comical fashion, clearly relating what Jim would call an 'exciting tale' and Bones would call 'an escape by the skin of their damned teeth.' His McCoy, on the other hand, was looking at Jamie. With that same expression of fascination. Jim shifted uncomfortably and of course, Jamie picked up on it right away.
"What's the matter?" she asked, concerned. Following his gaze, her eyes landed on Jim's McCoy and she gave him a cheeky grin. Bones flushed red and looked away, focusing back on the other McCoy.
"He can't get over you as a girl, can he?" she asked, obviously amused.
Jamie's amusement faded into speculation. "Ah, I see. So, he really is just like my McCoy, huh? Failed marriage and all?"
"Yes," Jim said, but he didn't offer any more. He didn't like thinking about this, much less talking about it, even with himself. Of course, she was still James Kirk. They never let anything go, if they could help it.
"I was worried I wasn't stable enough for him," she confided. "In fact, I didn't even think I'd want to be stable enough for anyone until he came along. I was afraid he'd miss having a home and a family and all that sort of thing I knew I couldn't promise him." She gave Jim a knowing look. "It must be even harder wondering about that and about whether he'd miss something else entirely."
"That's funny," Jim said. "I never worried about stability with Bones. I knew he didn't expect that from me. But he married his high school girlfriend. I'm a...I'm pretty far from anyone's girl next door," he admitted.
"True, but if they really are the same and so far, I see no indication that they aren't, he's got all he wants." She turned to him fully and gave him a softer smile than he'd seen from her yet. It made her look very pretty indeed and Kirk wondered how the same expression would appear on his face. "He loves you, you know."
"Yeah, I know," Kirk said.
"What?" Kirk asked, startled.
"Well, if you're worried about that, I figured you must not have told him yet, because when you do? Oh wow," she sighed happily. "You'll like the results."
"Oh?" Now she really had Jim's attention.
"Let's just say, Leonard McCoy reacts...very strongly to those particular words," she said with another sigh. "I won't ruin the surprise, but I'll just say this. You'll enjoy it."
"Really now." Once again, Jim's eyes strayed back to the McCoys, to his Bones in particular. After a moment, Bones glanced at him and their eyes locked for a brief moment. Then Jim grinned slowly and Bones' eyes widened.
"Well, then," Jim said. "I always did like a good surprise."
It only took the two Spocks another hour and a half to figure out the problem. With a little help from a very jumpy Chekov, who nearly fell over his own feet when he saw Jim for the first time. After that, it was only a matter of transmitting the plan over to Jim's Enterprise and then it was time to say goodbye.
"I'm sorry we couldn't stay longer," Jim said to Jamie, once they'd reconvened in the transporter room. "But I think one Jim Kirk is more than enough for any dimension."
"Truer words were never spoken," his Bones agreed. Jim made a mental note to assign him extra paperwork later.
"I know what you meant," she said, holding out her hand for Jim to shake, which he did vigorously. "Well, Spock, thank you for all your help. I know you both would have figured it out sooner or later, but two Vulcans are better than one, I say."
"Indeed, Captain," Spock said. Jim bit the inside of his mouth as Spock raised his hand in the traditional Vulcan salute, which Jamie returned. Spock stepped aside to exchange a last greeting with his counterpart and Jim watched, captivated as Jamie threw her arms around his Bones. Sure, he worried sometimes that Bones missed women, but now that they'd talked, Jim thought it wouldn't have been so bad to...lend him out for awhile. Especially if he was allowed to watch because it was hotter than he expected to see Jamie's body pressed up against Bone's, to see his hands slide up the curve of her spine and imagine how it would look if they were clamped around her rounded hips.
"I've seen that look on her face before," a voice said into his ear, effectively startling him out of his daydream. "It just figures you'd get hot looking at yourself," the other McCoy grumbled, but Kirk thought he knew him well enough to see that he wasn't really all that annoyed.
"I can't help myself sometimes," Kirk admitted, holding out a hand to the other Bones. For a split second, Bones just looked at him, then to Jim's very great surprise, he pulled him into a hug.
"You be good to him," Bones muttered into his ear. "And try to understand that when he says you're scaring the hell out of him, he's not kidding."
Jim wrapped his arms around the other man and squeezed him gently. "Thanks, man. I'll try."
When Bones let him go, Jim caught an odd expression on his McCoy's face and made another mental note to ask him about it later. He needed no interpretation to the heated gaze coming from Jamie.
"Alright, I guess it's time to go. Everyone ready?"
Bones gave his other self one last handshake, but apparently no words were needed because a moment later he joined Spock on the transporter pad and they both nodded. Jim jumped up on his own white circle and gave Jamie a nod himself. "It was good to meet you, Captain."
"You too, Captain," Jamie said, then she glanced at Scotty. "Energize."
Then they were home aboard their own Enterprise.
Jamie and Bones didn't have a moment alone together until later that night when she barged into his room and tackled him to the bed. They didn't have a chance to speak until several moments later.
"Do you think they made it back?" Bones asked as he rubbed his hands up and down Jamie's bare back. She rested her head on his collar and sighed.
"Oh I think so. And if not, I'm sure they ran into another Enterprise that could help them out."
"I wonder what they're doing just now," Bones said.
Jamie lifted her head and grinned. "If know myself, it's not what they're doing, but where."
"Hey, I wanted to ask you something," Jim said.
McCoy looked up from his computer and glared at Jim. "What the hell are all these forms you sent me?"
"Ah, well, never mind that just now." Jim hopped up onto one of the beds in Sickbay and leaned back on both hands. It'd taken them nearly two hours to straighten out the situation once they'd gotten back, most of which had been spent ensuring they really were in the right dimension once again. Now that Jim's shift was over, it was time to test Jamie's claims. "What was that look you gave me when the other you was hugging me?"
"Oh that." McCoy turned away from him, back to the computer and Jim could tell by the set in his shoulders that he was embarrassed. "I just never really thought about how it looked. You and me, I mean."
"And?" Jim asked, abundantly amused.
"And nothing. It was...you know," McCoy hedged, typing furiously.
"No, I don't know."
Jim jumped off the bed and walked up behind McCoy, leaning down to wrap his arms around McCoy's shoulders. "How about I tell you how hot you looked in Jamie's arms?"
"Oh lord," McCoy muttered, but he didn't pull away. In fact, he leaned back in Jim's arms a bit and even tilted his head when Jim began mouthing just below his ear.
"Also, I've been meaning to tell you," he breathed, enjoying the way McCoy shuddered slightly against him. "I love you."
One thing Jim did not expect upon saying those words was for McCoy to wrench himself out of Jim's arms and march over to the other side of the room.
McCoy smacked at something on the side of the wall and then spun around, stalking back to where Jim stood, puzzled.
"I'm locking the damned door," he growled, a predatory gleam in his eyes.
Apparently, Jamie was right after all.