AN: This chapter was harder to write for some reason… probably the fact that I understand McCoy Prime so much better than I understand the new one. I know they're the same character, but still. There is so much more of DeForest Kelley's Bones to go off of.
Ugly as Homemade Sin: to be exceedingly distasteful in appearance.
Jim Kirk and Mr. Spock frowned as they waited for the ship's surgeon to materialize. Normally the captain would be on the bridge, but today McCoy had been visiting a colony that needed quick medical supplies and Jim wanted to be there in person to check on his friend's emotional status. McCoy may act prickly on the outside, but anyone who knew him well enough knew that he was a big softy once you got past the spikes.
"I dinna know why the transporter is taking so long." Montgomery Scott's consternation spilled into words as he pulled levers on the machine's panels, trying to get it to hurry up. All there knew that the last thing they needed was to give McCoy a reason to hate the transporter more than the Georgia native already did.
At last the tell-tale swirls of light coalesced into a being who stumbled shakily off the transporter pad. "Damn machine always screwing with my atoms." The gruff voice belonged to a relatively young man dressed in a dark navy variation of the Starfleet uniform that neither Jim and Spock had seen before. The man's head was bowed as he brushed dirt off his sleeves, keeping the two of them from getting a proper look at him.
"Sir, who exactly are you?" Spock's calm voice cut through the grumbling of the visitor and seemed to hit home that the man was not where he needed to be. The dark head snapped up and seemed to pin both men in place with annoyed hazel eyes.
"I'm Dr. McCoy, who do you..." the voice trailed off as he recognized the two men before him. "Aw hell. Tell me I'm not in that blasted mirror universe again! Well, you don't have a beard, so maybe not." He stepped up to Spock boldly giving him a critical once over before turning to look at Jim. His eyes widened comically.
"Just how many slices of chocolate cake have you been sneaking past Rand, Jim?" Jim wasn't sure whether to scream or laugh at that. This man was so blatantly Bones that it wasn't funny, yet he wasn't at the same time. This McCoy was younger, more raw, and filled out in places that there's was not. It was still the same wiry strength, but with what looked like actual muscle to back it up. That and the comment about his weight stung more than he wanted to admit. He'd lost a couple pounds in the last month, thank you very much!
" Is that how you speak to your Captain!" Scotty had been all but forgotten in the chaos of this different McCoy's arrival and his remark brought them back to reality. McCoy had the presence of mind to look sheepish and turned to reply to Scotty.
"My Jim Kirk is a lot younger, rasher, and to be honest, thinner. So I have to speak like that to him or he doesn't listen! ," he turned to Jim and added "I'm sorry sir," in a contrite manner which Jim knew was a step away from thinly veiled rebellion, "if you can't take the truth."
"It seems a mix up has occurred." Spock's calm baritone yet again diffused the situation. Jim wasn't sure yet whether he wanted to smack this version of one of his best friends or take him to get a drink and find out just how different his world was from the one Jim lived in.
"You think?" came the sarcastic rejoinder, as the man crossed his arms and tapped a foot impatiently. Spock suddenly knew, as illogical as it may seem, that this was going to be a looooong day.
"Your Enterprise is a lot shinier than mine is." McCoy said with a grimace as the older man was shown the bridge. Jim figured that everyone on Alpha shift already knew that they were in an alternate universe and that it couldn't hurt too badly if the doctor got a small tour.
"What do you mean?" Jim asked, glancing at the familiar stations and giant viewscreen. It didn't seem particularly shiny to him.
"Well, for one thing, our bridge isn't done up in chrome. Ours is blue, orange, and tan. It's also just a tad bit smaller." The sarcasm was hidden under the polite tone and Spock found himself wondering what kind of bridge would be done in such ridiculous colors. He sighed mentally as the bridge members noticed the guest and tried to ignore him studiously. Chekov and Sulu were failing spectacularly as they kept sneaking peeks at the doctor from their stations.
"Orange?!" Jim bit back a laugh at the thought and waved at the crew in general. "Alright everybody, Bones kinda got switched for his counterpart from another universe, so be nice okay?" Spock felt his eyebrows disappearing into his hairlines at his captain's tactless announcement. Silence reigned for a few seconds and then disappeared as quickly as it had come. Spock wanted to roll his eyes.
"Dear god, your sickbay is ugly as homemade sin!" Jim felt himself sighing and wishing for his Bones instead of this caustic, younger doctor. He wondered what had happened to make his already grumpy friend, even more cantankerous and at such a young age. Part of him was secretly starting to assume that if he'd met the doctor as a boy he'd have been the same grumpy, unsmiling man that stood before him eying the gold mesh blankets of sickbay with such distaste. He almost shuddered at the thought of mini Bones. Next to him, Spock raised an eyebrow in what Jim knew by now as consternation.
"What exactly is homemade sin, doctor? I am familiar with the idea of homemade goods, but not homemade misbehavior." The comment stopped the man's rant about the technology in the room (Jim was a little miffed, sickbay was state of the art even if he didn't visit it often) and resulted in the first grin either of them had seen break across the surly doctor's face. He started laughing so hard that he sat down on one of the beds he'd been disdaining just a moment ago.
"Oh Spock, you're the same hobgoblin that's for sure!" Spock's Vulcan training caught the frown that threatened to slip out before the muscles could even begin the motion. It seemed that regardless of the universe he was doomed to be considered a 'hobgoblin'.
"It means that he finds our decorating scheme less than pleasant, Mr. Spock." Jim stepped in when the doctor had finished laughing. He sat down next to the man and put an arm around his shoulder. "So Bones, you want to tell me more about your Spock and Jim?" McCoy stiffened at the contact and at the familiar nickname.
" You really are him, aren't you." He murmured quietly. Jim looked in confusion at Spock who just stood there, waiting for McCoy to say more. "He admires you, wants to be you, thinks that his life would be so much better if he was you." The voice was low and tired, as if so many burdens had been lain upon shoulder as yet too young. "Thanks to that other Spock, Jim has this foolish idea that he must be the glowing captain in that half-Vulcan's memories. From his descriptions, that must be you." He turned his head towards the man sitting next to him staring at him in shock.
"Other Spock." Spock's head was tilted in curiosity. McCoy looked up at him and grinned wryly. For the first time in their short acquaintance Spock saw most clearly the Leonard McCoy he knew shining through.
" So no, I can't tell you about my Spock and Jim. Because if I do, who knows what will happen? Who knows if the events in your timeline that play out and create ours will happen? As screwed up as our world is, I don't want to give it up. I won't. So as much as my Jim wants to be a man he shouldn't even know about and my Spock thinks he must be more Vulcan than Surak, I can't tell you about the mess that is our universe." He stared at his fingers, leaving the two of them with knowledge that neither knew how to process.
"Surely it's not all bad?" a tentative voice called from the doorway. Chekov hadn't meant to announce his appearance at all, as he'd only been passing by when he stumbled upon the conversation. Two heads whipped up to stare at him, one staring in consternation, the other in Vulcan passivity.
"Oh kid, you have no idea." McCoy smirked wryly, looking up at the navigator. "But you're right it's not so bad. We're younger, all of us, to the point that the last time I saw you this morning you were only 17. It seems here you're at least old enough to shave." Chekov looked curious and, at the captain's nod, entered further into sickbay.
"But we're not stupid and we're not weak. We're making our way the best we can. And like I said to Spock there, some things don't change." He grinned. "For instance, I bet that your Uhura has a beautiful voice, your Sulu loves fencing, and your Scotty has a forbidden still hidden somewhere in engineering." Spock's eyebrows hit his hairline and McCoy winced, hoping he hadn't gotten the Scotsman into trouble.
"You're still young for your post, Chekov, and probably still believe that everything was made in Russia. Spock still hasn't learned to chill out from what I've seen, and Jim? You still have that same grin that says you've done something mischievous and it's about to blow up in your enemy's face. Don't think I didn't notice you slipping Admiral Finnegan a little too much tobasco in his soup at lunch today. I may be a doctor, but I ain't blind." He smiled at the look of shock that flitted across Kirk's face.
"Right now, as much fun as this has been, I just want to go home." He said simply, staring at all three in turn. Spock nodded and turned to leave.
" I believe I may have a solution to your problem."
The older McCoy tried not to sigh in relief as Scotty, Chekov (and since when had Chekov become so young), and Spock figured out the fastest way to send him back to his world. The science they were discussing at such rapid pace had left him out of the loop and in the end he had just sat next to Sulu and listened to the helmsman go on and on about his latest pet project, something to do with collecting antique firearms. Leonard didn't want to dissuade Sulu from the idea and at the same time wanted desperately to tell him about an event from a recent shore leave that resulted in imaginary black knights, guns, and samurai. In the end he settled for an admonition about being careful what one wished for that left the helmsman more than a little confused.
Leonard McCoy had never been so happy to see the inside of his Enterprise's transporter room in his life and was even more surprised by the sudden hug that Jim enveloped him in.
"Bones! Did you know it's possibly to be more acerbic than you usually are!"
"Doctor, that was a most enlightening experience." Spock stared at their McCoy as he happily wolfed down dinner in the mess hall. Jim was still trying to realign the two McCoys in his head, the one who seemed better settled in his own skin and the one scarfing down fried chicken and guzzling iced tea.
"You bet your pointed ears it was! Did you know the Enterprise I ended up on had the worst replicated food I've ever had the displeasure to eat? This stuff is gourmet compared to their food, and you had to stick a card in a slot to get theirs." Spock raised an eyebrow and gave a minute shake of his head.
Jim laughed and patted his friend on the back as he reached for the piece of chicken closest to him. McCoy swatted his hand away and fixed him with a serious look. "Trust me Jim, you do not want to eat that chicken or any of that cake on your plate. Have I got stories to tell you…"
Spock just shook his head again as the two grown adults traded insults that would have been fine for children and not grown men. Life was back to normal and as illogical as it was, it was comforting.
AN: How did this end up so long? The plot bunny ran away with me! I promise the next ones will be more centered on Spock! The last couple chapters seemed a tad too Bones-centric. :D