Disclaimer: I own nothing but my bones, must be why I like McCoy so much. Recognizable Star Trek characters, are so not mine.

AN: This is likely going to be a series of one shots that depict life for Kirk and McCoy prior to the start of their relationship. This particular short addresses why McCoy didn't feel threatened when Kirk 'threatened' to beat him for being a smart ass the first time they slept together.

Refracted Recollections

Teris Xenite

The rank and file cadets all held one belief about Leonard Horatio McCoy. It was undoubted amongst them that McCoy was bat shit insane. Brilliant, no doubt, but insane, after all the man bickered with Kirk. There was no reason but insanity that would explain that. This particular day, the tension between the two of them was palpable, and there were rumors that Kirk had dispatched a Klingon assassin that had come for him the night before.

Instead of the wary respect that the rest of the student body was showing him that day, McCoy seemed annoyed. He crossed his arms over his chest and flat out scowled at Kirk when he tried to sit across from him in the mess. He ignored every smile, and every attempt at conversation. The cadets around them watched with bated breath, sensing blood in the water. All of them wondered just when Kirk would grow tired of McCoy's surliness, and if McCoy would be left to the rest of the wolves when Kirk did tire of him.

Everyone remembered what had happened to the last cadets that had attempted to make a move on McCoy. It'd taken the better part of a month for them to leave the Medical wing, and one of them had been given a psychological discharge. It was readily apparent to everyone that Kirk found the doctor's sass amusing, but still there had to be a limit to how much backtalk Kirk was willing to take from the man. After all it wasn't like they were exclusive, Kirk might go home every night to McCoy, but he went to him smelling of half the whores in the fleet.

Finally Kirk's eyes darkened, and he leaned forward and whispered in McCoy's ear. "Careful, McCoy, if I didn't like you so much, I'd have to beat you for being such a smart ass."

McCoy pulled away and snorted, this wasn't the first time that he'd been threatened by Kirk. It had started with the revealing of Kirk's medical vulnerabilities, and a whispered threat of violence if he told anyone. He hadn't of course. The threats had never felt serious, and were normally prefaced with a qualifier of if I didn't like you so much. Over time McCoy began cautiously wondering if the threats weren't an expression of Kirk's interest and perhaps even affection, after all he reasoned Kirk had more than ample opportunities to hurt him if he'd wanted to, but he hadn't. It wasn't as if he had shied away from violence towards those who had aggravated him, so he had to at least like McCoy.

This one was one of the few such statements made in public, seemingly a subtle warning that he was crossing the line with his back talk. If McCoy pushed too far, Kirk would have little choice if he didn't want to appear weak, and that was something that both of them could ill afford. With the warning, McCoy finally calmed enough to realize that the whole mess was staring at them, eagerly waiting to see if this was the time that McCoy and Kirk finally had it out. He shrugged and let the resistance leave his posture. "Guess it's a damn good thing that you like me then, isn't it? "

Kirk's warm smile was his only answer, and the two settled into the ease of their every day conversation. Kirk told him some outrageous story from his youth, playing to the ears of the gathered crowd, and the onlookers sighed and went back to waiting. Whatever explosion may happen in the future between the two, wasn't going to happen today.

Later, once the crowd was gone and Kirk had come home reeking of perfume, McCoy looked over at him. "If you were going to smack me around for being a smart ass you'd have done it by now, wouldn't you?"

"Been wondering how long it was going to take you to figure that out, McCoy. But I can't be seen to take endless back talk, no matter how fine your ass is."

"Hench the threats that you have no intention of actually following through on."

"Oh, rest assured, in the beginning I had every intention of following through on those first couple if I needed to. But seeing as you have proved yourself unusually trustworthy, it seems that we can avoid that." Kirk smiled at him then. "That's going to need to stay our little secret, McCoy, for both our sakes. I wouldn't want to, certainly, but you push me far enough in front of witnesses, then I don't have but so much of a choice. So while I like that smart ass mouth of yours, why don't we keep that between us?"

"I think I can handle that, you might have to remind me from time to time though."

"Just for the love of the gods, please refrain from being a smart ass in front of the higher ups. If you mouth off in front of them, I won't have a whole lot of choice. If I don't put your ass in line at that point, it'll be the booth or worse for both of us."

"Duly noted. Anything else that you want to share since you seem to be in such a talkative mood at the moment?"

Kirk leaned back and gave him a lustful grin. "Well, much as I like that smart mouth of yours, I'd like it even better if it was engaged in other pursuits. Who knows might even help keep you out of trouble?"

McCoy looked at him levelly, and resisted the urge to mention how little interest he had in Kirk period, not to mention 'other pursuits'. "Access to deadly poisons, Kirk, access to deadly poisons."

Kirk simply smiled, and shrugged. "Well now, you can't blame a guy for trying. One of these days, McCoy, one of these days."

"Never going to happen, kid."

"We'll see, McCoy, we'll see."

AN: And there you have it, the reason why McCoy seemed completely unphased by Kirk's threat the first time they slept together. I should have an update on Through A Mirror Darkly soon. As always if you enjoyed, please do review!