Now, I normally love a good homosexual love-fest with any of these saucey men, but after watching the movie on the tele tonight, I was struck by the friendships that blossom. When McCoy is walking away from Kirk to board the Enterprise, I felt for Kirk, standing there stricken by having to stay behind. I also can't help but think afterward they'd realize how many tiny actions led to them winning.

Just friendship despite the fact that it could have been yummy ;) R&R please. (if you listen to Garth Brooks' song "When There's NoOne Around" you may understand a bit more, but it's certainly not needed)

If You Hadn't Turned Around

Time seemed to move impossibly slow, now that the Enterprise was drifting through space and the ripples of Nero's attacks were fading. There were day to day stories they'd someday tell their grandchildren, and there were epic clashes of culture and philosophy between planets and people that they'd hold close to their bones till the days they died. Memories were made and lives were skewed with each crisis and adventure.

And James T. Kirk lay awake at night with the tape of every moment running through his head, soaked in sweat, heart beating well past any healthy rate. He saw each and every man and woman's face that had died under his command. He saw the names of those dead in the initial Nero attack carved upon their lonesome and stoic monument. He saw the many treaties his crew had brought to bear. He saw the planets they'd discovered. He saw the possibilities of each and every mistake he's made and each one he didn't. He saw the spins and eddies of their choices as lives spared and lives lost.

If he'd never turned around, that day back in Riverside, he wouldn't be laying here in the Captain's cabin of the Enterprise. If he'd never turned around, he wouldn't have known the pain and joy of being in command of the greatest crew in Star Fleet. If he'd never turned around, he wouldn't….

Kirk strode through the halls of his ship, his ship, smiling mechanically at his crew, his crew, heading toward Sick Bay. His pace was measured, casual, but his mind whirred with increasing fervor. His thoughts came rapidly, chaotically, as if he were pulling the leader from a gigantic skein of yarn that just grew the more he unraveled. His breath came in uneven puffs as he walked. His world tilted, the walls no longer smooth and straight. Still he walked calmly, smoothly as his mind screamed.

Striding through the doors of Sick Bay his blank eyes noted no-one was in it, for once. There were no cases of Andorian Shingles, no crewmen being patched up from another transporter glitch in an ion storm, no one being treated for a reaction to a strange and virulent alien pollen. Leonard McCoy looked up as he entered, his frown deepening from his normal expression to one of concern.

"Kid, wha-,"

His words died abruptly as Kirk crashed into him, arms encircling a strong, wonderfully solid body. McCoy certainly didn't yelp when he felt the brush of hot tears on his neck as Kirk embraced him, and he certainly didn't bury his own face into his friend's shoulder and hug him back, not understanding but not needing to. At least not yet.

"Kid? Jim?" McCoy shook Kirk's body lightly after a minute, now outright worried for his Captain and friend.

"You turned around," Kirk whispered into McCoy's shirt.

McCoy blinked, confused.

"What? Make some sense Jim, I'm a doctor, not a Vulcan, I can't read your mind," He growled out gruffly.

"Bones, if you… if you hadn't turned around that day, if you hadn't brought me with you…," Kirk's words died off with a sob that wracked his whole body. He felt as though he were whirling apart at the seams; his brain a centrifuge of worry and what ifs that pulled and tore at his very heart. He watched over and over again in his mind as Bones walked away from him at the Academy, walking to the Enterprise with the rest of the cadets. Watched as he himself just stood there, quietly trying not to cry at the selfish injustice of being grounded by academic inquiry. Watched as instead of turning Bones just continued on and boarded the ship. Watched as the Enterprise continued on to Vulcan, on into a trap. Blasted to pieces, before even a mayday was issued. Watched as his closest friend never returned.

"But you did Bones!" He sobbed, "You did turn around. You brought me with you. We stopped Nero. Bones, you're not dead,"

Now McCoy thought he understood. He thought about it as well. Maybe he, as CMO had less to rerun in his mind than the Captain, but he still was kept awake at night by the what ifs. What if he was a better doctor. What if he had caught an injury sooner. What if he were luckier. What if he hadn't picked up after his divorce. What if he hadn't turned to Star Fleet. What if he hadn't overcome his (well founded) fear of space. What if he hadn't met Jim.

What if he hadn't taken pity on that devastated and lost look there in the scramble area.

What if he'd never turned around.

"Jim, Jim," He didn't say it was alright, because it almost hadn't been. He didn't sooth and offer false comforts, because hell, his bedside manner had never been the hallmark of his career. He didn't say anything else because he knew his friend understood. They both lived with 'what ifs', just as any other crew member did. But he understood just how close it all had come. He understood from the minutia of each and every choice that led to that instant, from the initial pebble dropped into the timeline of the alternate universe, to the final ripples that would wash over their distant descendents. From Uhura hearing the garbled subspace transmission to Sulu's slow warp, he understood it as well as Jim how terrifyingly close they'd come to simply blinking out.

They stood there, hugging in the dimly lit Sick Bay, listening to the hum of the ship, the beeping of various consoles. They could hear their hearts beating with defiant will to live. They could hear the voices of crew members like they echoed in from outside a cocoon of water. They listened to the sounds of what if neither of them had turned around.