Title: Silly Bones, Rules are for Kids
Fandom: Star Trek 2009
Rating: On the higher side of PG-13
Pairings: McCoy/Kirk
Word Count: ~7700
Disclaimer: I, in no way, shape, or form, own Star Trek or anything affiliated with it.
Summary: Or, the four times that Len McCoy absolutely hates Jim Kirk, and the one time he really doesn't.
A/N: This was written for help_japan on LJ.

Silly Bones, Rules are for Kids

Or, the Four Times that Len McCoy absolutely hates Jim Kirk

(and the One Time he really doesn't)

When Leonard McCoy lets himself get talked into joining Starfleet, he has absolutely no idea what he has just consigned himself to. What he knows is that his ex-wife has taken his medical practice, his money, his reputation, and worst of all, his daughter, and that without these things he is floundering. If changes are not made in his life he is likely going to end up perpetually at the bottom of an empty shot glass, embalming himself in his own failures and heavy amounts of when Captain Pike looks him over, sees something worthwhile in him, and offers him an opportunity, Len takes it, not caring that he is deathly afraid of both space and flying. What he cares about is the chance to practice medicine again, the chance to reinvent himself, the chance to not become a permanent fixture at a bar in whatever the hell state he is in. So he nods his head and accepts the offer and literally stumbles into a whole new life.

And part of that new life, inexplicably, is James T. Kirk. Jim, who is a train wreck of human existence, who Len knows is trouble the moment he sees the pattern of bruises and dried blood across the man's face during their first meeting. This thought is confirmed three minutes into shuttle flight, when one of the wounds reopens and starts bleeding, and Len has to engineer a makeshift bandage out of a piece of cloth (not for the last time). The fact that Jim is a magnet for trouble is further proved when, in their first three days at the academy, Jim breaks ten rules that Len knows of and seven that he doesn't. Over time, he comes to analogize Jim with a bull, who, upon seeing a rule (his fluttering red cape) has the natural instinct to charge full speed ahead, intent on gouging it all to hell. He's a naturally destructive force fit inside of human skin, fully aware that rules are meant to be followed and cheerfully deciding each time that he'd much rather break them.

After a while, Len stops trying to stop Jim (at least from breaking rules, since he will never stop trying to keep the man from breaking his stupid head open) and just puts his head down and helps clean up the messes. The fact is, James Kirk is the best friend that he has ever had, and he may be an absolute idiot, but there's nothing that Len wouldn't do for him.

Of course, that doesn't mean there aren't days where he absolutely, one-hundred percent hates Jim.

1. The time Bones got arrested. (And it was Jim's fault.)

The first time Len really hates Jim-as opposed to being faintly amused by him, or irritated, or even mildly disgusted-he is sitting in a police holding cell with no pants on. What he knows is this: Jim lures him to some seedy motorcycle bar with the promise of booze and good behavior, proceeds to pick a fight with the biggest, burliest thug there, starts an outright bar-wide brawl, and Len ends up in jail.

He's a little confused as to where exactly his pants went, and thinks this might have something to do with the concussion he's bound to have after having a beer bottle broken over his head. And having his head slammed into the bar. And being hit by a bar stool. There's only so much head trauma someone can take (unless they have Jim's skull, which seems to be unbreakable given the amount of damage the boy has put it through) before the memory goes fuzzy and the pants, apparently, go missing.

Jim stumbles over and collapses on the bench next to him, slumping against him. The man smells like he's been dipped in booze, looks like beaten hamburger, is letting his head loll onto Len's shoulder, is bleeding on him, and is completely at fault for all of this.

Blearily-because Bones isn't drunk but he did have quite a bit to drink before the concussion, so complete coherency can't really be expected of him-he turns his head and glares at Jim, which is a little awkward given the angle. "This is all your fault."

Jim has the gall to grin at him. "Don't be like that Bones. S'just a little fun. I was just making friends."

"You started a brawl. We are permanently banned from that bar. We have an entire biker gang out for our blood. We've been arrested. And, dammit Jim! I have no pants and that guy over there keeps making kissy faces at me!" He drops his voice at the last, nodding to indicate the heavyset man across the cell, who blows a kiss when they look over.

Jim stumbles to his feet. "He jus' wants to be friends, Bones. C'mon, let's go say hi." He lurches to his feet, clearly intending to go over and probably get his fool head broken some more, but Len reaches out and grabs him, tugging him back. Jim has absolutely no equilibrium when he's drunk and beaten to the point of absolute idiocy (although, oh wait, he was already there to begin with) and the tug sends him falling into an untidy heap at Len's feet.

"Just, just stay there," Bones orders. "No more making friends, no more talking, no more moving. Just sit and stay." Jim blinks up at him, a little like a big overgrown puppy who has just been yelled at for chewing on shoes, who has no idea what he's done wrong and thinks that the reprimand is funny because of the funny colors Len's face turns. If he had a tail it would be beating inanely against the floor.

Len sighs and scratches him behind the ears.

About fifteen minutes later, they are both starting to sober up, Len's head is starting to really hurt, and the man who has been blowing kisses has somehow managed to get onto the same bench without him noticing. When the man proceeds to start sliding over he panics and pokes Jim (who is asleep with his head resting on Len's knee) frantically.

"Jim," he hisses, poking more sharply. "Wake up. If he tries to touch me you damn well better be prepared for me to use you a human shield."

Jim makes a noise of discontent and shifts, trying to bat away the finger poking him. "Lemme alone, Bones. 'M sleepy."

Kissy-face licks his lips suggestively and slides closer.

Len takes drastic measures and pinches Jim's earlobe. Hard. His friend jolts, shouting, and bats him away. "Ow, you bastard!" Len ignores his protests and quickly pulls him down onto the bench, conveniently placed between him and the man. Human shield, he thinks smugly, as Jim blinks in the face of the man now glowering at him. "Um..."

They are both saved by the arrival of a police officer. "Kirk, McCoy, you're out." They jump to their feet, Bones practically running for the door, while Jim takes a moment to clap the creep on the shoulder and say 'Better luck next time.'

The officer lets them out, not even bothering to hide a smirk at Len's pants-less state. Len blushes, but really is so grateful that he's out of the cell that he couldn't care less.

That is, until he follows the officer out and finds Captain Pike standing there. He stops so quickly that Jim walks into him, and then they are both stumbling, groaning in pain. Pike scowls at them and folds his arms and the first words out of his mouth are: "McCoy, where the hell are your pants?"

"It's Jim's fault," is his automatic reply, even though he actually has no idea of what happened. Jim scowls at him and he just shrugs.

(Later on they will find out that the missing pants are, in fact, Jim's fault. In the middle of the fight he apparently decides that he needs a weapon, and out of the dozens of glasses, bottles, chairs, tables, and other items strewn across the bar, his weapon of choice is a pair of pants. Len's pants. According to onlookers they have a heated discussion in the middle of fielding blows which ends in Len handing over his pants and then being thrown into the bar. After being told this there is a moment of silence, broken when Len turns to Jim with a scowl and says: "Why the hell couldn't you use your own?" Jim has no good answer to that.)

2. The time Bones got shot. (And it was Jim's fault.)

The minute they meet, Len knows that Jim is going to be trouble. After two weeks, he despairs of ever keeping the man alive and relatively unharmed. After a year, patching up Jim's scrapes seems a normal part of every day three years, keeping James Kirk intact is a lifestyle that Leonard McCoy can't escape from. He takes to keeping a medical kit on his person at all times, inspired by the incident during which he has to perform minor surgery using a t-shirt, a water bottle, a pen, and a pair of safety scissors. (He doesn't talk to Jim for almost a day after that, too busy glowering instead, but he is inordinately proud of the creativity he puts in there.) At least with Jim he knows that his medical skills are always necessary. He is unnaturally accustomed to the sight of Jim Kirk bleeding and after only two months of living together there is a permanent bloodstain on their carpet that only grows bigger and more pronounced over the course of three years. (Sometimes, when they've had a few drinks, they try to determine the shape that it makes, something that must be redone as soon as Jim inevitably adds more blood to it. He really has spectacular aim with his bodily fluids.) Between the bar fights—and street fights, and fights in the middle of campus on sunny afternoons, and classroom fights, and it's really a miracle that he manages to not be expelled—and his penchant for other reckless behavior—motorcycles and sky-diving come to mind—it's a wonder that he makes it to twenty, much less twenty-five.

Of course, the other part to Jim's apparently relentless desire to put himself in life or death situations, is that he drags everyone else in with him. Len likes to keep his feet on the ground and himself out of situations that might end in maiming, dismemberment, and death, but in his time with Jim Kirk he finds himself in a dozen bar fights, arrested a handful of times, in two car accidents, held at gunpoint on three separate occasions and held at knife-point another two, and on one memorable occasion nearly falling off the roof of one of the dormitories.

The worst is probably the time they get mixed up in a convenience store robbery. Only Jim Kirk (and therefore Leonard McCoy)would be unlucky enough to wind up in the middle of a convenience store four blocks away from the Starfleet Academy at the exact moment that two masked men pull out guns. There are only a handful of people in the store—Len, Jim, the cashier, an older woman, a middle-aged man, and a scrawny teenager who drops the cans of beer he is definitely not old enough to buy when the guns come out. The cans burst and spin in circles, spraying the aisle with white foam; the commotion makes the gunmen shout and wave their guns around even more, and as they are all being yelled at to get on the ground Len catches the look in Jim's eyes.

"Don't," he hisses out of the corner of his mouth, lowering himself to the ground. Jim acts like he doesn't hear (he totally does, he's just playing dumb) and gets on the ground as well, but Len sees the way he tenses his body, the way he eyes the gun in the nearest robber's hands, the quick calculations whirling behind his eyes. Len sees the motion coming right before it happens, that slightest twitch as the closest gunman turns away, and he has enough time to say Jim in a drawn out warning before his friend is leaping to his feet, all furious motion and reckless abandon, and Len is jumping up just a half-second after him, because it's either that or let him get his stupid self shot.

Jim tackles the nearest gunman, sending the gun flying from his hands; Len dives at the other robber, lucky that the man is surprised and clumsy and incompetent, that when he scrambles with his gun and pulls the trigger the shot goes wide. Of course, wide doesn't mean that it doesn't hit, it just means that it doesn't hit anything vital. The bullet grazes his arm and he jolts but follows through on the motion, getting hands on the robber and knocking the gun out of his hands. He searches for a particular pressure point and renders the man unconscious-during times like this being a doctor is useful. One of the other hostages calls the cops while Len whirls on Jim, who is literally sitting on the other gunman, bleeding sluggishly from a wound over his eyebrow.

"You stupid son-of-a-bitch," Len pants at him, and Jim grins up right until the moment where he sees the wound on Len's arm.

"You're hurt!" Jim says, leaping to his feet, and Len looks down at the wound, feeling detached from it.

"That's what happens when you attack people holding guns, you bastard," he says. He inspects the wound, ignoring the mild panic on Jim's face-bastard deserves a little panic-and then places a hand over it, applying pressure. "This is your fault."

"What did I do?"

Len just glares at him, as the other innocent bystanders converge on them with gratitude and declarations of admiration and other platitudes that will only swell Jim's ego. A little later, after the paramedics have stitched up his wound-he's lucky it's just a graze, and though the paramedics strongly suggest he go to the hospital he waves them off, because if he can't treat a minor gunshot wound, what kind of doctor is he?-and as they are waiting to give their statements to the police, he slides over to Jim's side. "We were supposed to be getting milk. That's it. Just milk. Not throw ourselves at armed robbers in a convenience store and get me shot."

"What was I supposed to do, just sit there and let them wave guns at us and either let a robbery take place or let it turn into a whole big hostage situation?"


Jim rolls his eyes. "Technically speaking, we are members of a military-based organization and therefore have a duty to enforce civil law and protect innocents."

Len folds his arms and winces when it pulls his stitches a bit. "One, Starfleet is a peacekeeping and humanitarian armada that operates in space and has little to no authority over land based matters here on Earth, including the upholding of civil laws. Two, we are cadetsrather than full members of said organization, and therefore any authority or duty you might make an argument for does not extend to us. Outside of the Academy we are civilians, just like everyone else. That's why you've been arrested so many times."

Jim tilts his head. "I've been arrested so many times because I keep encountering people who never learned proper communication skills and aren't intelligent enough to formulate thoughts outside of physical altercations." Len stares him down with a look of you know you just described yourself, right? which Jim ignores, continuing. "And, do you honestly think I could just sit there and do nothing? Really Bones, have you ever met me?"

Len pointedly ignores him and goes to give his statement, because yes, he has met Jim Kirk and therefore knows that where danger is, Jim will inevitably show up and throw himself right into it without a second thought. And, just as inevitably, Len is going to throw himself in right after him.

But he'd really rather not get shot while doing so.

3. The time Bones "conquered his fear of flying". (And it was Jim's fault.)

Len makes it perfectly clear from the moment he meets Jim that he hates flying. He hates flight and he hates heights, he hates being suspended thousands of feet in the air inside of a tin can, he hates space, he hates all of it. (He uses the word 'hate' instead of 'is terrified of' because it really gets the degree of his dislike, but they can be used interchangeably.) He knows that as a member of Starfleet he's going to have to put up with it-space, flight, all the jazz-and he'll manage. Somehow. Probably with a constant tremor in his hands and an equally constant need for a stiff drink. He hates flying.

Jim seems to take this as an almost personal affront. Jim loves flying the same way he loves motorcycles and fast cars and bar fights. He has an unhealthy need to court danger. On his better days, Bones will call it an addiction to adrenaline; on the rest of his days he'll call it a death wish and suggest psychiatric counseling. But Jim loves flying even when it isn't a death-defying act-he takes a childish wonder in watching the world miniaturize and the sky grow bigger around him. He loves getting closer to the stars. Given this-and the belief that Len will be absolutely useless if he is constantly hiding under the seats and wedging himself into secure corners-Jim makes it his personal mission to cure Bones of his fear.

Len does not appreciate this, not one bit. Jim is constantly trying to lure him onto rooftops or talk him in a trip up to the spacedock or into a shuttle ride. For his birthday one year, he actually gives him a voucher for skydiving lessons, which Len promptly re-gifts without a twitch of guilt.

So, Jim takes drastic measures.

Len so does not appreciate the drastic measures, which begin with bribery and end in outright kidnapping. One minute he is walking through a door, the next minute he is waking up on a shuttle, strapped in to a seat. (Len still isn't sure how Jim pulled that one off and highly suspects conspiracy, possibly going all the way up to Pike.) By the time he wakes up they are already in the air, so his plan of rushing the pilot and getting the hell off is discarded in favor of holding onto the seat for dear life and glaring at Jim.

"I hate you," he growls, and Jim gives him a grin of you jest, I know how much you love me. At this exact moment though, it isn't a lie. He would try strangling his friend, but that would involve motion and he is unwilling to relinquish his death grip on the seat, even for an equally tight grip on the bastard's throat.

"See, Bones? Nothing to worry about. These things are rock solid." As if to illustrate his point, Jim raps his knuckles against the wall.

"Come closer so I can kill you," Len replies, right before a high-pitched warning bell and flashing red lights go off. Eyes wide, (because that is so not good), he pulls his restraints so tight that they are strangling him.

Jim-too calm, far too calm-lean in to talk to the pilot. "What's the problem, captain?"

"A problem with the engine," the pilot says, shouting over the warning sirens. "I think we're going to have to abandon the shuttle!"

There is something fishy about this, Len thinks through the haze of panic, and it is confirmed when Jim holds up two conveniently placed parachutes. "We have to jump for it Bones!" He says, thrusting one of the parachutes towards him. Len accepts it, holding it tight in his hands like a lifeline, but he doesn't move, staring with narrowed eyes at his friend.

"Bullshit," he says, finally, and Jim gives him wide blue eyes that he doesn't believe for a second. "You sonofabitch, this is a goddamn hoax. You're trying to con me into jumping out of a goddamn shuttle!"

"No," Jim says solemnly, shaking his head. "This is legit, Bones. We have to jump!"

"When we are back on solid ground, I am going to kill you."

Jim grins wide, giving up the game. He makes a sign at the pilot and the sirens and lights cut off. "I almost had you."

"You're allergic to everything-I can make it look like an accident," Len promises.

"Ah, but Tom here just heard that," he says, clapping the pilot on the shoulder. "Witnesses, Bones. If I end up dead, he knows who to point the finger at.

"I can make him disappear too. Doctors are good at making people disappear."

"He's just kidding, Tom," Jim reassures the pilot. (Although Len isn't sure that he is kidding, because Jim Kirk is beyond dead the minute they touch ground, and he isn't above taking out any oppositions to his impending homicide.)

But Tom isn't paying attention to either of them. He is looking wide-eyed at his instruments, real horror on his face, his mouth forming the word 'shit' right before the shuttle lurches violently sideways and plummets. Len screams like a little girl and isn't afraid to admit it, especially when Jim's scream is higher pitched than his own and therefore leaves no room for comment.

"What's going on?" Jim shouts.

"A real problem with the engine," Tom shouts back. "Hold on to something!"

That isn't a problem for Len at all. He thinks that he has melded with the seat, his grip is so tight, and that doesn't stop him from gripping even tighter and trying to burrow himself as far into the seat as he can. The shuttle continues to plummet, spiraling and spinning while Tom frantically pushes buttons.

I'm going to die in a fiery crash, Len thinks, and it is one hundred percent Jim Kirk's fault. The look on Jim's face says that he is thinking roughly the same thing (although possibly without the blame part).

About thirty feet from the ground, the engine roars back to life, slowing the descent and giving Tom enough time to make an emergency landing on the playground of an elementary school. The minute they touch ground Len scrambles to undo his restraints and stumbles off of the shuttle as fast as humanly possible, Jim and Tom tumbling out just seconds after him. Teachers from the school race up to ask if they are okay, but Len ignores them in favor of falling to his knees and petting the ground lovingly.

A few minutes later, after the commotion has died down a bit, Jim looks over at him and grins. "See Bones? You didn't die!"

Len seriously considers the morality of committing a homicide in front of a bunch of children. Jim sees the murderous gleam in his eyes and casually steps back out of range, and as he isn't up to standing yet, Len settles for another definitive "I hate you" instead.

(The worst thing about all this is that, for some twisted reason, it works. After this he should rightfully be more terrified of flying than ever, but the next time he walks onto a shuttle he feels a flutter of nervousness and maybe grips the seat a little tighter than necessary, but he can actually look out the window without wanting to puke. But a look at Jim's smug face still makes him long for a drink.)

4. The time Bones had his heart broken. (And it was Jim's fault.)

Technically speaking, for cheating to occur within a relationship, said relationship must first be defined in some way, shape, or form. Perhaps it doesn't have to be as simply defined as 'husband' or 'boyfriend' or even 'exclusive', but usually there is some semblance of structure, however loose it may be.

So, technically speaking, if there isn't a relationship, there isn't cheating.

Leonard McCoy and Jim Kirk do not have a romantic relationship. They have never had sex, have kissed only once and that for a drunken bet, virtually every time one has undressed the other has been for the purposes of bandaging a wound, and they have never spoken the words I love you to each other and meant it as more than joke/best friend/brother. If Len knows almost everything about Jim, it's because he's lived with the man for three years—when living with someone, especially someone as vivid as James Kirk, it is hard not to pick up on details like favorite foods and preference of alcoholic beverages, and it's even harder to try and ignore things like his commitment issues and his disturbing tendency for reckless behavior. More than just roommates, they are also best friends. Of course he knows virtually every detail and nuance that makes up James Tiberius Kirk. None of this constitutes any kind of relationship deeper than friendship, and nothing between them has ever even hinted at the possibility of something more, not even when the world turned itself upside down and left Jim as Captain and him as CMO.

(Here, Bones is quite pointedly ignoring a certain moment of time directly after the Narada affair. It was the very first moment when they were both relieved of duty, the Enterprise settled back on Earth, both of them debriefed and gladly handing over their mantles of authority for the moment, each of them banished away for rest and recuperation. They had stumbled across campus back to their shared room, him half-carrying an exhausted Kirk who was probably still suffering from a concussion or some other injury that he 'forgot' to mention. In their quarters they had tiredly pulled off their clothes, letting them slump to the ground in untidy piles, the fabrics covered in blood and god knows what else, and they fumbled into whatever clothes came to their hands first. They had paused, staring across the room at each other, and then Jim had twitched, looking at his own bed, shook his head, and stumbled across to Len's. Without a word they collapsed into the too-small bed, grappling with the covers for a moment before settling themselves. They shifted until they were both comfortable, and when the tremors started they slipped into an embrace where Len was unsure if he was holding Jim or if he himself was being held, only aware that they were both shaking, that he couldn't tell the trembling of his own body from that of Jim's. They held each other tight and said nothing because they didn't need to. Because they each knew without words everything that could possibly be said, because they knew there was no comfort in speech—comfort was in the pressed closeness of a warm body and the firm grip of fingers and arms, silent reminders that they were still alive.

Still, this changes nothing. Even though they shared the same bed for days afterwards, even though Jim sometimes slips into his bed when he wakens from nightmares, even when Len finds excuses to reach out and touch Jim and make sure his pulse is still beating beneath his skin-this changes nothing.)

So, if no form of romantic relationship exists between Jim Kirk and Leonard McCoy, it really cannot be construed as cheating when Bones walks into the room to find some pretty little cadet sprawled topless on the bed while Jim bends over her, removing the rest of her clothes with his teeth.

It hurts like a bitch anyway.

Maybe it's shock that hits him like a freight train as he stands there gaping. Maybe it's anger that there wasn't any warning—where's the fucking sign, Jim? The sign we worked out three goddamn years ago for when you were bringing home one of your little playmates, the one that's supposed to go on the fucking door, that sign?—or anger that this is typical Jim resorting back to his old use-'em-and-lose-'em ways when he showed so much promise for change. Maybe it's jealousy that Jim can almost literally have anyone he wants with a wink of the eye these days—but then again, that goes for virtually anyone who played a part in the Narada affair; being a 'hero of the earth' is apparently great for picking up chicks. Maybe it's good old irritation that he has to find somewhere else to be until this bimbo leaves, when all he wants to do is collapse face first on his bed.

What it feels like though, standing in the doorway, is a great big bang of betrayal hitting him like a punch to the kidneys. He knows what betrayal feels like. Felt it five years ago standing in a doorway just like this watching his wife—soon to be bitterly ex—scramble off their next door neighbor and root around for her shirt while alternating between pleas and obscenities.

The way that Jim looks at him, realizing that something is wrong and climbing away from the girl to pull on a shirt, is pretty damn familiar.

"Bones?" Jim says, and it jolts him. He clenches his jaw, steps backwards, and slams the door. He then proceeds to walk away fast, because he knows it'll take Jim's brain a good twenty seconds to catch up and he can definitely get far enough away to hide in that amount of time. And as he goes, all those 'maybe' emotions crash around inside of him, and none of them for the reasons he thought. By the time he gets to a bar—because where the hell else is he going to go but a bar?—he's come up with two clear thoughts.

One: I'm overreacting. There's really nothing to cause this kind of reaction in him. This is not the first time he's walked in on Jim and some…girl, guy, alien, insert whatever Jim managed to charm into bed. That's why the sign was invented, to warn him before he saw his best friend contorted in unnatural positions one more time and then had to blind himself. And he knows that Jim takes comfort and pleasure wherever he can get it. Saving the earth certainly isn't going to change him into a steady relationship kind of man when he's spent twenty-five years as kind of a manwhore. And, after all, there is nothing between the two of them that should prompt this kind of raging inferno inside of him. Nothing at all.

Of course, his second thought undercuts all of this quite a bit. Two: I hate James Kirk. He takes a shot of bourbon, hoping it will help quench this before Jim shows up. Because, though Len has devoted quite a bit of time over the years to keeping Jim alive and in one piece (sort of), at the moment he really wouldn't be opposed to taking a swing. He's not sure he's ever hated his best friend quite so much.

By the time Jim comes slouching in—and it takes him a while, because Bones purposely picked their least favorite bar—his expression worried and a bit confused and like a kicked puppy, this hatred (jealousy/anger/sadness/betrayal/and so on) has burnt itself down. Jim slides into the seat next to him and waves his hand for a beer.

"I didn't realize. I'm sorry." Jim says quietly.

Len plays dumb. "Didn't realize what?"

Jim just gives him a look—when did he learn how to give looks? Those are his job, dammit—and he sips his bourbon without replying. Jim sighs. "You know what, Bones, don't be difficult. I didn't realize what we were."

"We aren't anything, Jim," Len bites out.

"Sure about that?" Jim asks with a slow, cocky smile like he rules the world and Bones can't decide if he wants to smack the look off his friend's face or smile back. He settles for a glower, and Jim smiles wider, reaching out to cover Len's hand with his.

Len takes another sip of bourbon and scowls deeper. Fuck. He hates Jim Kirk.

But he twists his wrist to turn his palm upwards and link their fingers together anyway.

+1. The time Bones went up against the reporters. (And it was sort of Jim's fault, but mostly his own.)

Len learns very quickly that reporters are the scourge of the earth.

The aftermath of the Narada incident may include fame, not being court-martialed,and a shiny new position as CMO on the Enterprise, but it also comes with a horde of blood-sucking reporters. They come crawling around like vultures looking for a fresh kill-or something long dead, they aren't picky, so long as they can drag it out, dust it off, and gorge themselves. They want names, birthdays, names of family and friends, romantic relationships, academic history, fights, scandals—oh, they love scandals—prospects for the future, biggest regrets, anything and everything that can seize hold of and twist around and feed to the adoring (brainless) masses. They want blood.

Half of the time, Len thinks that he would rather face the disciplinary board.

Okay, not all of the reporters are bad. But the more respectable ones get their story and head on their way, leaving a pack of second-rate tabloid writers to fight over the scraps. When they run out of legitimate articles, they go looking for skeletons, and if they don't find any they make them out of scraps of half-truths and outright lies.

Jim, naturally, is their favorite target. Nothing sells better than dragging the name of a hero through the muck, and Kirk makes it too damn easy, what with his closet bursting at the seems with secrets and indiscretions and less than heroic deeds. (Privately, Bones is sure that the Starfleet PR department is tearing their hair out and wondering if they can make Jim disappear without raising a fuss. Certainly, their departure date for the five year mission is moved up by a good three months in order to get him the hell off the planet, but things can only be rushed so much.)

Len also learns that reporters have an uncanny ability to uncover everything. Anything ever said, written, hell, even thought and they find it.

Which is how he finds himself quoted no less than twelve times maligning Jim's "good name".

(Jim, needless to say, is less than happy, and takes to alternating between glaring, making snide comments, and throwing crumpled up pieces of paper at his head.)

Really though, it's not his fault. He's never before had a reason to stop and think oh, maybe I shouldn't say this because a year from now someone will tell a reporter about it and it'll end up in the paper and Pike will give me another death glare. He says what he thinks and very rarely holds back, and it is definitely not his fault if he happened to call Jim a "lazy, overconfident waste of intelligence who thinks he can roll out of bed and have the world fall at his feet 'cause he smiles pretty" a year ago and it ends up on the news now. It also doesn't help that one of the reporters hacks into his private files and pulls up a fake (okay, not fake, but definitely not real) psych evaluation he did of Jim and quotes the passage where he calls him "narcissistic", "egocentric", "prone to reckless behavior", and "morally corrupt".

Which is probably not the best description that can be offered of Starfleet's youngest captain in history, and yes, Len does see the problem with this, but that still doesn't make it his fault.

(When he gets home from being reamed out by Pike this day, Jim looks up and says "Narcissistic, egocentric, and morally corrupt? I didn't know you thought so highly of me, Bones." And then throws a pillow at him, which he doesn't even dodge, because yeah, he kind of deserves that one.)

Having identified Len as a an excellent source for inadvertent revelations about Jim's sordid secret life-or, at least, as a place to gather out of context quotes which can be twisted to suit fabricated stories-the hordes of reporters start to follow him. They wave recorders in his face and take photographs and ask inane questions, trying to get a rise out of him and prompt and response. He does his best to ignore them, rolling his eyes and saying no comment and shouldering his way through their throngs, but eventually he snaps.

One of the reporters makes the mistake of getting right up in his face and saying "Do you have any comment on the rumors that Mr. Kirk may have had something to do with his brother's mysterious disappearance when he was a child?" Len can't pinpoint exactly what it is about this moment and this reporter that makes him lose his cool, aside from the fact that that question is far too personal, is crossing a line. (Len knows what Jim is like in regards to his brother. Sam is a sore spot, a place behind Jim's defenses that can always hurt him-it is a story that Len has carefully peeled out of his friend over the years, and no damn reporter has a right to bring it out and wave it around and throw salt in a barely healed wound.)

The reporter is already invading his personal space, so it is a simple thing to reach out and take the man's recorder, gripping it tight in one fist and giving his best move a single inch and I'll set you on fire with my mind look. The man freezes, a poor stupid rabbit in front of a wolf, and the rest of the reporters press in, cameras ready because this is the good stuff right here.

"You listen to me. Jim Kirk is my best friend, and no matter what I might have said about him in the past he is one of the best people I know. He is a good man, he is a goddamn hero, and he deserves respect, especially from the likes of you." All of this is fine, is good even, except for the part where he can't stop himself, because he's wanted to tell these reporters off for weeks, and the tirade continues to spill out of his mouth with a: "-so fuck off" and only deteriorates from there.

By the time he gets back to their room, the celebrity gossip shows are already running it. Or, the heavily doctored version, anyway, in which Len viciously accosts a reporter, destroys property, sends a man to the hospital, and liberally bad mouths Jim.

JIm looks up at his entrance. "Did you call me a cocksucker?" he asks incredulously.

Len groans and flops facedown on their couch, making a string of unintelligible noises. Jim pats his head comfortingly, and says with far too much cheer, "Pike's going to kill you."

Bones hits him with a pillow.

After that, the stories about Jim taper off, the well running dry.

Instead, the reporters move on to their next victims: everyone else. They go after Chekov with long rambling articles about his age and supposed immaturity and whether or not he is "adult" enough to handle the real world. Scotty gets hit by an in depth investigation of the disappearance of Admiral Archer's beagle, which is enough to have said Admiral glaring his way again. Sulu's penchant for the "borrowing" of Starfleet shuttles and hovercars and subsequent joyriding in them gets plastered all over with photographic evidence. Spock, they don't go after directly-apparently having your planet destroyed gives you minor immunity from the prying eyes of reporters-but he ends up splashed all over the news anyway, as they take Uhura and tear her to bits, casting doubts on whether her grades and her new position were earned through hard work or through screwing the teacher.

But, as it turns out, Len is their favorite new chew toy, probably because his closet full of sordid backstory rivals Jim's and is easier to get a hold of. The reporters apply themselves to casting every possible aspersion on his character that they can, dragging all of his secrets out and into the light. One of the first things to come up are doubts about his sexuality, and particularly his relationship with Jim-this is the most harmless of the things to come, and also the only one that is almost fully true. He and Jim sit on the couch, Jim tucked into his side, watching these reports and laughing, and then proceeding to do things that the reporters would love to get video evidence of.

The rest of the stories are worse. Len grits his teeth as the reporters throw out words like: alcoholic, anger problems, mentally unstable, violent. They locate Jocelyn, who is apparently only too ready to sell him down the river for fifteen minutes of fame and whatever sum of money they are willing to pay. With her, they paint a picture of a drunk, a neglectful husband, a deadbeat dad, a failed doctor. (Which, yes, sometimes he drinks too much and his anger management could use some work, but they don't mention the part where he tried to save a marriage that was gone even before his wife jumped in bed with another man, or how he would move the earth and heavens for a daughter his ex-wife won't let him see, or the way that he threw his career away trying to keep his family. They don't say any of this, just leave the world thinking that he abandoned his family. And he tries not to let it hurt, but when the morning comes that he turns on his PADD and finds a picture of Joanna staring sadly at him from one of the articles, it does. It strikes him like a blow. He calls Jocelyn and doesn't yell, just says quietly, "Don't pull my daughter into this".)

Len barely leaves the room unless he has to, and when he does he clenches his jaw tight, knowing that anything he says will just be turned around on him. Jim watches quietly and curls up next to him, carding fingers gently through his hair, and he gets that dangerous, I'm thinking of doing something stupid gleam in his eyes whenever he thinks that Len isn't looking.

Two days after Joanna's picture shows up in the public eye, sure enough, Jim does something stupid.

Len is on the phone with Jocelyn when it actually happens, arguing with her over his right to see his daughter. The conversation is as civil as possible and he struggles to keep it that way, trying to keep the threats out of his voice as he explains to his ex that he's going to be leaving on a five year mission and he is going to see Joanna before he leaves. He doesn't tell her that he has Starfleet's lawyers on speed-dial, and that he'll slap her with a lawsuit for slander if he doesn't get to see his daughter, but it lingers in the back of his mind as the conversation turns south.

And then Jim comes careening in, his expression half the maniacal glee he gets with adrenaline, half guilty I did something I shouldn't have. Bones eyes him warily and says to Jocelyn: "Look, I have to go, but this conversation isn't over." She says something he only half-listens to in response and hangs up, turning towards Jim. "What did you do?" He asks, folding his arms.

Jim flashes him a grin. "I held a press conference."

Len drops his PADD and it thuds to the ground. "You did what?"

"Gave a press conference," Jim repeats, enunciating slowly and carefully.

He blinks and licks his lips. "I-hold on. You-a newly appointed captain to the flagship of Starfleet-gave an unauthorized press conference?"

"How do you know it was unauthorized?" Len glares at him, a silent you're you and you're an idiot as he scrambles for the remote. "I could just tell you what I said-"Jim says, and Len pointedly ignores him in response.

Predictably, the story is on every channel, and Len flips to it right in the middle of Jim's speech. In the middle, actually, of Jim saying: "Doctor McCoy is the greatest man I have ever known. He has been my friend through everything I have put him through-and trust me, that's a lot-and there is no one in the world that I trust more. I would put my life in his hands-in fact, I have on several occasions, and I have no doubt-" On the screen Jim smiles and keeps talking, a perfect showman, but Len tunes him out, turning towards the real Jim standing behind him.

"Did-did you hold a press conference about me?"

"Technically, it was about the entire crew-" Jim says, a flicker of vulnerability lurking in his smile.

Len cuts him off before he can say anything more, crossing the room in two strides and kissing Jim firmly. "I love you," he murmurs against the press of the other man's lips. Jim swallows the words, grinning into the kiss, and says them back wordlessly, in the slide of his hand over Len's shoulder, in the way he cups the base of Len's neck. Len guides Jim backwards until his knees touch the edge of one of the beds, bowing him down onto it. Jim laughs, tilting his head to allow access to his throat, the laugh a vibration against Len's lips, and his fingers curl under the hem of Len's shirt, tugging up to splay across his stomach and chest. He draws a finger lightly over Len's ribs-a place he knows is ticklish-and Len draws away long enough to growl at him, nipping his neck lightly in punishment. Jim takes the opportunity to pull himself full onto the bed, stretching himself out and reaching to draw Bones to him.

"How long do you think we have until high command gets word of what I've done and sends someone to spank me?"

Len feels himself smile. "Long enough."

(Forever, he wants to say, and then dips his head to trace the hollow of Jim's collarbone with his lips, because it doesn't need to be said at all.)