Summary: The first time Bones treats Jim at the hospital, the kid's been beaten up in a bar fight, and by the time they're finished, Bones hopes he never sees the blonde again.

Genre: Friendship, Hurt/Comfort, Humor

Rating: T

Warning: Language

Welcome to chapter one of A Friend In Need, a fanfic that will tell the tale of Jim and Bones' friendship as it grows. There will be six chapters and all of them will occur during their years at Starfleet Academy. Mind you, in this, their friendship didn't occur immediately after they met on the shuttle. It takes time, and to show that progression, here is the first of six moments in which Jim and Bones exercise the growth of their friendship, in a hospital.

Special thanks to my beta, Alotua, who has already proven her awesomeness! And who will surely kick my butt if I don't get chapter two to her soon. :P

I look forward to your comments, questions, and reviews. As always,

Live long. Live well. Write. Read. Dream.


I

Strangers

"Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends."

~ Shirley MacLaine


"Er, Doctor McCoy?"

Leonard McCoy paused in his movement toward the door, sighing down at the coat he had draped over his arm. He'd just gotten off a fourteen hour shift and was more than ready to go back to his dormitory and render himself unconscious by burying his head deep enough into his pillows to suffocate.

Why was he surprised again that he had been stopped from leaving? It's not like it was an uncommon occurrence. Over the years, Leonard had come to learn one thing above all others: those that were loyal to their jobs got butt-fucked by those who weren't. Leonard may be crass, callous, and biting when ripping a patient a new ass about whatever foolish endeavors got them injured, but he truly did care about the health of those in his care. That loyalty, combined with the fact that he was one of the best surgeons of his generation (and possibly a few generations before him), meant that his coworkers generously took time out of their not-so-busy schedules to screw him over whenever possible. So it really wasn't the possibility of someone needing his help after he'd been ready to leave that bothered Leonard, but rather, that there were certainly other doctors still on duty that could come to the aid of whoever had just been brought in, but who simply didn't care enough to take the initiative.

"Jackson," Leonard McCoy said by way of acknowledgment, turning to the younger man with a stern expression his colleagues and fellow students had come to recognize as the norm for him.

"Um… the, campus security just brought in a patient. I asked Doctor Redne, but he said he has a patient waiting in the OR, sir, and, well… could you?"

Leonard only considered snapping at Jackson for a moment, before deciding against it. The younger man was terrified enough of Leonard as it was, he hardly needed further reason to want to flee his presence. Although the man was younger than Leonard by a good five years, he'd actually already been at the academy for a year and a half. Also in the medical field, the tall but slight man wasn't a doctor by any means, yet. There were a number of orderlies working at the academy's medical facility, but if Leonard was hard-pressed to be honest, Jackson was his favorite. Although the young man was visibly terrified of him (Leonard was fairly certain the only person who scared Jackson more was Admiral Archer), Leonard had had a number of opportunities to see Jackson's potential for being a good doctor.

Unlike McCoy, the young man was not crass with patients; his tone was soft rather than the gruff snarl that McCoy often employed. Leonard was tactile with his patients only when he able to hide the gentle touch of a hand on an arm or brow behind harsh words spoken like a curse. Jackson had no such reservations and was open in his gentleness – something that was often a great help when dealing with children who came in needing care. The young orderly's potential also hid behind a clumsy exterior. Leonard and Redne and other students who had previously graduated with medical degrees had found their places in the world already and knew who they were and how good they were – they were confident in their abilities because they had to be, and because they had experience behind them. This led to a professional air that other people could feel and which some put faith in.

Jackson was young, the abilities he would one day have confidence in were still being honed, and he didn't have that professional, too often arrogant, air. His lanky frame, curly black hair, freckled face and large, round glasses gave him a youthful appearance that some found endearing but few put trust in. But Leonard, who had seen orderlies and assistants come and go back in Georgia, could see the person – the doctor – that Jackson had the potential to become, and he liked him.

And truthfully, Leonard wasn't mad at Jackson for stopping him. He was angry at Redne, because he knew there were no patients waiting for him in the Operating Room. No, Leonard had a pretty good idea that the only thing waiting for the large, red-faced man was Nurse O'Shal.

Scoffing internally, Leonard gave Jackson an encouraging nod and motioned him back toward the middle of the hospital. "Where did you leave my patient, Jackson?"

He ignored the hesitancy of the young man's shoulders to relax, as he was swiftly led back through hospital corridors. "Um, r-room 102, Doctor." He looked like he would have been fidgeting, were they not walking briskly. "He was… throwing a bit of a tantrum about being in a hospital, sir."

Leonard raised an eyebrow at the orderly's back. "A tantrum? How old is this kid?"

"He's a student here, sir. And maybe tantrum is not the right word. He was being rather-"

"You fuckin' hunk of recycled garbage cans! Your damn arms are made of reject car parts, you son of a bitch metal-headed junkheap!"

"-crass," Jackson finished, unnecessarily.

"Ya don't say?" Leonard didn't have to be led any longer, as he was fully capable of hearing which room the kid's voice was screaming from. "He certainly doesn't sound like he needs medical attention."

"Looks like he needs it," Jackson muttered under his breath, though Leonard caught the words. He tilted his head lightly, but didn't acknowledge the younger man's opinion, letting him keep his mutterings, to his knowledge, private. Besides, he had just walked to the door of room 102 and caught sight of the young man within.

And Jackson was right, but forget about a doctor; the damn kid looked like he'd need plastic surgery.

"I'm fine!"

"Yeah, and I'm a rocket scientist." He ignored the kid's wince and yelp as he injected a hypospray into his neck. "Is there a part of your body you're not bleeding from?"

"My eyeballs."

Cheeky brat. "That's 'cause they're too damn swollen, ya dumbass. Ya pick a fight with a brick wall?"

"Well, in the intelligence department, that'd about match up." The boy grinned up at him like he'd just been named president.

"Considering how healthy ya look, I'd say the other guy might have a few brain cells on ya." He glared at the kid – why did he look so damn familiar? – when he reached out and grabbed Leonard's wrist to keep him from injecting another hypospray.

"I don't need any painkillers. I told you, I'm fine."

"It's not a painkiller, ya dumb fuck. It's a sedative."

"A sedative?" The boy pulled bodily away from him, while still holding onto his wrist to keep the hypospray away from his neck. "Wha'd'ya need a sedative for?" He was watching the hypospray like it was a snake about to strike.

"Only way I can think of to shut ya up." Leonard jerked his hand out of the kid's grasp and tried to go in again with it.

Predictably, the boy lunged for his hand and caught his wrist in a tight grasp with both hands. "Ha!"

The hiss of a hypospray ejecting was joined by a yelp. The kid jerked away from the hypospray Leonard jabbed into his neck from where he had hidden it in his left hand. The kid glared accusingly at him, but he just glared right back.

"I don't feel tired." He said it like it was his ticket to revenge against the evil doctor. Leonard resisted rolling his eyes.

"That would be because it was a painkiller. Idiot."

"You said it was a sedative!"

Bones glanced back at the outraged expression on the blonde boy's face and gave him a patronizing glance. "I lied." He grabbed a towel from a table near the back wall and threw it at the kid. "Wash the blood off your face, dumbass. Ya look like ya killed someone."

He saw the kid stick his tongue out at him from the corner of his eye, but ignored it. He was writing the medical report down while the blonde kid went to the sink and ran some water over the towel to wipe his face off with. Leonard was happy to ignore him for the moment, but apparently, the kid had different ideas.

"You know, this is the first time you've doctored me up here."

Leonard rolled his eyes at the conversational tone. "This is a hospital, kid, not a night club. Ya don't go trying to get with every doctor, and leave the nurses alone, ya here?"

"Yeah, because the other doctors totally don't have their hands all over them."

Leonard's hands hesitated and he resisted the urge to chuckle. The kid was observant, he'd give him that. Leonard had heard the thud against the wall of the room, too, while he'd been taking the younger man's blood pressure. Most would have attributed it to something falling over, or a gurney being pushed into the wall.

Hiding his grin behind a continued scowl, Leonard finished writing down the name of the painkillers he had injected the kid with. Simple over-the-counter drugs. For all his bitching, the kid was right. He really hadn't needed a hospital. After the barfight, though (which the younger man had told him about in great detail – Leonard rolled his eyes at the memory), the robotic security guards that had pulled them apart had followed their programming and delivered the injured man to the hospital for treatment. Apparently, the kid's opponent hadn't been scathed. Lucky bastard.

Giving the report a final glance over, hesitating on the name for just a moment, Leonard shut the PADD down and tossed it onto the table before turning back to his patient. He was somewhat surprised to find that the younger man was regarding him with a contemplative look.

"What?" he asked gruffly.

"You don't know who I am, do you?"

Leonard rolled his eyes. Trust a war hero's spawn to feel insulted when his ego wasn't stroked. "James Tiberius Kirk. Now get off my table."

Was the kid pouting? "You really don't remember me?"

Puppy dog eyes. What kind of person tried to use that technique past puberty? "Nice try. That doesn't work on me."

"Aah." The mask of misery faded instantly, replaced by a grin that was far too friendly for Leonard's taste. What was this kid's problem? He think everybody was gonna be his pal because of his name? "Ex-wife take the kid, too, Bones?"

Bones.

Leonard was surprised he hadn't remembered. Actually, no, that wasn't entirely true. He understood perfectly why he wouldn't recall the young man's face. He'd been too worried at the time about not puking in front of a bunch of cadets and seasoned officers. He remembered that ridiculous nickname the dumb kid had pegged him with, and why. Goddamn idiot.

"All I got left is my bones."

And that comment he'd just made about Joanna. How much of a callous bastard could a person be? Even Leonard, in his most irate doctor mood, didn't slap someone's ego that close to home.

"Ya don't look much better than ya did that first time, jackass." Leonard was fully aware of how hard it was to decipher his words then they spilled out that accented, but he couldn't help the snarl that curled his lips. Thanks to this damn kid, his night had been ruined by the reminder of how far away he was from his little girl.

Leonard jerked a thumb at the door. "Out, dickhead."

Jim, not James, blinked at him with a look of innocent confusion on his face that Leonard almost believed. "Wha'sa matter, Bones?"

"It's Doctor McCoy, Cadet. Now git out of my hospital. I need to sanitize the room so no one catches your damn assholery."

Still holding onto that confused mask, the younger man jumped off the table and made his way to the door, turning around in the threshold.

"Hey, maybe next time I drop by, I'll ask for you." Leonard didn't bother turning around. He could hear the grin spreading across the kid's face – a smile like they were best buds, when they were anything but.

"Ain't a night club, jackass. Git out."

"Right, see you later, Bones."

Leonard whipped around to give the kid a patented death-glare, but the sound of running feet revealed the fast departure before his eyes realized that the threshold was empty. Turning back to wiping off the table with a snarl, Leonard figured that after all the patients thrust onto him, he could get his way with just this one. Redne could take care of Jim Kirk if the dumb fuck ever came in again. He didn't want anything to do with the kid; in fact, he didn't even want to know him.