Title: Distant Closeness
Fandom: Star Trek 2009
Genre: Romance / Hurt/Comfort / Family
Pairing: Christopher Pike & Leonard McCoy
"This is not your average love story, Jim"… Sometimes, it takes a friend to bring two people separated by space, age, way of life and personal inhibitions together. Sometimes, the safest choice isn't the most reasonable. Sometimes, the best intentions create the most horrible misunderstandings. And even though altruism may be an attractive quality, a bit of egoism can be healthy…
I do not own any of this; I just like to play with other people's toys ;)
As always, should you find any faults, please point them out. If you like it, tell me. If you don't like it, go find yourself something else to read …
Jim Kirk might not have been the most attentive or compassionate person in the universe, but he wasn't blind to his crew's moods and needs. And when one of his officers had a bad day, a near death experience, or just a couple of personal issues, the Captain was sure to learn about it some way or other. He then proceeded to try and come up with a solution, help or just a few comforting words.
Leonard "Bones" McCoy had just had one hell of a bad day. In fact, it was not so much a REALLY bad day, as actually a REALLY bad week; and from Jim's point of perspective, his favorite doctor was on the brink of a major nervous break-down. Considering that this was Bones, a break-down most likely meant alcohol and retreat to his personal dark universe of doubts and self-accusations, and Jim would have none of that.
He therefore left the bridge earlier than usual, leaving Spock in charge of running things while he was on his mission to make Bones feel better. Using the Captain's override codes to unlock the door, he silently slipped into his friend's room, but stopped short in his tracks, when he heard voices. There was no way to be sure, but Jim could have sworn that one of the voices belonged to a very old friend of his, and although it would have seemed odd to anyone else that Bones should be talking to someone who was light-years away, whom he had not seen in a long time and who was neither a relative, nor a very close friend, it didn't surprise Jim too much.
It had not been his intention to listen to this private conversation, but curiosity got the better of him and he stepped as close as he dared without having to fear to be noticed. He heard Bones speaking softly and relating the events of the past week that had upset him so much. The man on the other end of the subspace connection listened patiently, carefully edging him on and coaxing the whole story out of him, feelings of guilt, anger and helplessness included.
"You do realize, of course, that none of this is your fault, do you?" He asked and Jim was amazed to hear this much kindness and concern in a voice that was usually stern and serious. "No, no, listen to me… it was NOT your fault. You have an unhealthy tendency to always blame yourself for events you could not possibly have prevented from happening. You did nothing wrong, Leonard, absolutely nothing. In fact, I'd give you a commendation for handling all this as well as you did, if you were serving under my command."
Good point, Jim silently acknowledged. I might do that, too.
"I failed them. I should have been able to save them, it's my job as the ship's CMO… goddammit, I'm here to heal people, not to watch them die!"
"You did NOT watch them die," the other man retorted quite sharply. "I know you, Leonard, and I know that you've tried everything in your power to save their lives. But there are forces in the universe that are stronger than you and me or modern medicine, and one of them is death. You can't always save everyone, no matter how hard you try. I've told you that, time upon time. When you couldn't save them, you stayed with them, you did not leave them alone, you took care of them and made sure they wouldn't be in pain during their last moments of life. Don't underestimate that. Taking away pain and just being present is a huge gift to give someone who's leaving this world. Even if they died, they did not die alone. That means a lot."
Wow, he's good, Jim thought, I could never have come up with something like this. It's absolutely true and it sounds so… right, somehow. Comforting.
He heard Bones swallow hard, before replying: "Thanks."
"Don't mention it. You understand what I'm trying to tell you, though, don't you?"
A brief moment of silence, in which Bones probably nodded, passed, then: "I'll never get their faces out of my mind, though. They were just… they were too young to die. It shouldn't have happened. And I'll miss them. I'll never forget those last few moments I spent with each of them…"
"Of course you won't. Many people will remember them as the wonderful, talented young people they were. But you've got to let go. I know it's easier to say than to do, especially for you, but you've got to try." A soft sigh. "I hate to say it, but your self-estimation upon entering Starfleet was probably right. You're not entirely fit for this kind of life. You're the most brilliant, talented doctor in the Fleet, but you're also the most compassionate being I've ever met. It's one of your greatest strengths and at the same time makes you so vulnerable…" His voice trailed off, probably overwhelmed by the emotion that had colored his last few words.
Suddenly, Jim felt like a child who had watched a very private moment shared by his parents. Somehow, it didn't feel right, and it made his cheeks burn.
Bones whispered something that he did not quite catch, before adding: "Thanks. Thanks again."
"You know… just being there, whenever I need someone to talk to."
"I'll always be there for you. You remember that, when space gets too cold and dark a place to be alone with."
"I will. I just wish…"
"Don't. Some things are better left unsaid. I know, anyway. Now, stop tormenting yourself and get some sleep, alright? You look like you really need it."
"Sleep well, Leonard."
And then the voice from far, far away, from a little blue planet that circled a yellow sun, was gone. It was only after a few awkward moments had passed that Jim dared to step closer. Bones was sitting at his desk, staring at the blank screen in front of him. He started, when Jim stepped beside him.
"Jesus, Jim, don't sneak up on me like that!"
"I'm sorry, Bones. I just came to see how you were doing…"
"I'm fine," his friend muttered, sounding neither very convinced nor very convincing.
"Did talking about it help you a little?"
"You were listening?" Bones sounded surprised and a little annoyed, but then he sighed. "Guess I should have known. Yeah, it did. Somehow, it always does."
"Well, I'm glad."
After this statement, an awkward silence hung between them, until Jim asked very quietly. "You love him very much, don't you?"
Bones started again, then shook his head, scowling at Jim. "That's none of your damn business."
"It's nothing to be ashamed of, Bones. He's a good man. He absolutely deserves your regard. It's just… well, I guess it's strange, somehow. Him being so far away and the two of you never meeting in person and everything…"
"This is not your average love story, Jim. Hell, it's not a love story at all, actually. We've never as much as had a relationship or anything of the kind."
"Yes you do", Jim replied. "It's just not… average. But consider this, Bones: Who's always the first one you contact whenever you feel bad? And don't try to deny it, because I know. I know, because most of the time, he calls me afterwards to tell me to keep an eye on you or ask me how you're doing. He's concerned about you. Very much so. And tell me, has he ever forgotten your daughter's birthday? Who keeps sending you books, Swiss chocolate and the bourbon you so enjoy? He knows you, Bones, probably better than anyone else, myself included. I bet he could walk through a department store with his eyes closed and point out the things you would or would not like. He could quote your favorite movies and would know how to prepare your favorite foods. If that's not love, then tell me what it is."
He thought that he caught a faint glimmer in Bones' stormy blue eyes and felt that he'd drawn the right conclusions.
"Whatever," the doctor muttered, "it's not supposed to be. It never was."
"Love isn't something you plan or avoid, Bones. It just happens. And I think it was time you admitted that you love, adore, need Christopher Pike. And that you might want to take this one step further and finally tell him about it. Yes, I know you've tried. And I know he wouldn't let you. But you know why? He's afraid you'd get hurt. He's afraid it would be too hard for you, having to choose between him and the stars."
"That's out of the question anyways. I've made a commitment."
"I know. We all have. You, me, him… everyone on this ship, everyone in Starfleet has. I just don't think that it should stand in the way of your personal happiness."
"That sounds very simple, Jim. Things just aren't as easy as you picture them to be."
"I'm sure they aren't. But that's no reason to shy away and run from your feelings. It won't do, Bones. You can't lock your heart into a cage and throw the keys away. It just doesn't work. Believe me, I've tried. I've tried numerous times, and I've always failed. Spock's right. We're weak, illogical creatures. But that's what makes being human so intriguing."