"Are you sure this isn't in your head Jim? I mean you've been through a lot over the past couple of years, maybe it's finally catching up with you. All the stress of dying and what not will do that to a guy, you know?"
Jim tried not to roll his eyes, he really did; but when Bones just frowned at him knew he failed.
"I'm as sure as I can be, or I wouldn't have come to you about this; you of all people."
"I take offense to that, who else can you trust if not me…"
"Bones, no offense buddy, but you're not exactly the most open-minded guy I know. I mean for Peat's sake, you still call Spock a hobgoblin and it's been what, like three years now, since you started working together?"
Bones snorted and threw Jim a challenging glare.
"Fine, so what, you thought I would go all racist on Khan because…"
"Because," Jim quickly cut in, "he is my male subordinate, who groped me inappropriately; me Bones, you might not believe this your male best friend."
Outraged the doctor pulled up short, grabbing his Captain's shoulder. Jim shrugged of the unwanted touch and turned around, crossing his arms over his chest and lifting an eyebrow in a 'just prove me wrong' look.
"Kid I might give the Vulcan a hard time now and again, but I'm not a homophobe. For crying out loud Jim, my uncle Nigel is gay and I was pretty much raised by him and his partner since my mum started pulling double shifts at the diner my freshman year."
Jim uncrossed his arms and stared at Bones for a few seconds. The doctor never shared his past with anyone, unless he was of-his-face drunk and sure not to remember a thing in the morning. Even so this was the first time Jim ever heard him mention his mother and it made him feel like shit knowing he pushed him into it. Jim lifted both hands and ran them down his face.
"I'm sorry Bones."
McCoy uncomfortable with the whole deal grabbed Jim roughly by the shoulder and ragged him to his office. Entering the medical bay he dismissed Elsa with a curt wave and a look that she quickly understood to mean that he was not to be disturbed unless someone was dying. Guiding Jim to a chair he pushed the blonde into it and took a seat opposite him behind the desk.
"Alright kid, from the top. You were in your quarters, having a drink, chatting. You asked him to join your field team and he agreed. Spock arrived, they had some kind of mental version of the Mexican standoff in your living room, than Khan got up to leave, intruded your personal space and groped you on the way out. Is that right?"
Jim nodded, and nervously played with a couple of loose board magnets. Bones watched him go at it for a couple of minutes while he thought of the best way to approach this thing.
"Well I guess the obvious thing to ask at this point is, do you like him…like that?" Bones paused at Jim's disbelieving look and quickly added, "or at all?"
"I don't know Bones," Jim threw the magnets at the white board behind the doctors head, and they attached themselves with a clack. "I think he's trying…"
"To be…" McCoy prompted.
"My friend," Jim finished lamely and sagged in his seat.
"Ok," Bones leaned back in his chair and linked his fingers in a poor imitation of Dr. Phil. "Than why do you think he grabbed your buns."
Jim couldn't help snort at this analogy and shot Bones a grateful smirk, the humor helped the tension.
"I don't know? Maybe he thinks they're yummy. I mean who doesn't? Have you seen my buns? They could be on the cover of…"
"I get it kid," Bones lifted his hands in placation, "trust me when I say I've seen them more than enough for ten heterosexual lifetimes."
Jim grinned and threw a magnet that barely missed his best friends head by a couple of inches.
"Hey," Bones dodged and playfully flipped him off, "I'm trying to help you here kid."
"Yeah, yeah so what should I do oh mighty Love Guru Bones?"
"That actually kinda has a ring to it."
"So…" Jim urged getting impatient.
"I recon you ask him up front. When some beach boy gave me the move on my Spring Break, I just sat him down, bought him a cocktail and gently explained that although he could easily have any guy in the room, it just so happened I really wasn't into that kinda thing. He took it pretty well; last I saw him, he was taking some jock upstairs."
"Wow," Jim gazed at Bones like he was God
"Yeah, just tell him to cool it, or turn him down over a drink. Make sure to go easy on the guy though, we don't want him to loose his marbles and go all terminator on our ass," Bones took a dramatic pause, "again. Shower him with compliments, stroke his ego as much as possible etc etc"
Jim grinned and stood up from his seat.
"Point taken," he shot playfully at Bones with his index finger and laughing strode from the room. Sighing Bones watched the blonde go, pulling out a bottle of Johnny and a tumbler, he poured himself a drink and thoughtfully swung it around the glass.
"That kids gonna be the death of you Leonard McCoy."
Jim decided not to dally. As soon as he left Bones' office he promptly commed Scotty in engineering where for the moment Khan and his mechanics were stationed; helping out the new ensigns with on the job training. Good thing too, since no matter how fine a grease monkey, Scotty was; he just wasn't made for teaching.
"Yeah he's here, wait a minute Captain, I'll call him down. Oi Khan, Captain on the comm for yah mate."
A moment later Khan's stoic though slightly flushed face showed on the screen.
"How can I help you Captain?"
"I just wanted to know if you were free tonight; for chess." Jim quickly asked, stumbling over his words in an effort to not loose his nerves. Though Khan didn't smile, something in his eyes changed and if Jim didn't know better he might say, made him glow benevolently.
"Yes of course. What would be the best time for you?"
"1900 hours work for you?"
"Yes, I will be at your quarters at precisely 1900 hours. Until then Kirk."
Jim made to comment but Khan vanished from view and was soon replaced by a red-faced Scotty looking questioningly at Jim through the view screen.
"Captain, if you don't mind me asking; what the bloody hell was that all about?"
"Not now Scotty, we'll catch-up later. Kirk out."
Khan, of course, arrived precisely on time. Jim having gotten used to Spock over the last few years was already waiting by the door when the first buzz rang through the room.
"Good evening Captain. If I may be so bold, I must say you look ravishing tonight. Do you have a follow up engagement?"
"Ahhh no. You're my only engagement tonight Khan. Come in." Jim quickly ushered the super-human inside and slid the door shut. If he had any doubts about the other's intentions before, they ran from the room shortly after he saw the man's dilated pupils and appraising looks. True he did dress slightly more formal tonight than any other night (considering every night previously Khan had the off chance luck to catch him in his pajamas) but that was only so he could be taken more seriously when he confronted this bizarre situation head on. And if he spent one too many hours going though his wardrobe looking for the right colored shirt to match his eyes and jeans to accentuate his long legs that was nobodies business but his own.
"Please take a seat, while I go fetch us some drinks." Jim quickly left for the liquor cabinet; awkwardly aware of the other mans eyes on him as he stretched on his toes to get the good stuff from the top shelf. He could have sworn he saw Khan's eyes dart up from his ass back to his face as soon as he turned around.
"I hope you don't mind, scotch is all I drink since Bones got me on the stuff back in the Academy days."
Khan nodded his approval, and Jim quickly poured them each a glass; taking his seat opposite the brunette. They spent a couple of minutes in surprisingly comfortable silence simply observing each others movements and taking long swallows from their tumblers. Jim noticed they were running short and poured another couple of fingers for both of them before deciding to face this thing head on. He will bite this bullet if it killed him or there would be no sleep for him tonight.
"Ah Khan…I kinda have a confession to make."
The other man's eyes lit with a spark of interest, but he remained silent simply taking another sip from his glass so as to let Jim explain himself.
"Well you see," Jim paused awkwardly and fiddled with his rook, "I didn't ask you here tonight to play chess."
Jim dared to shoot a look up at the other man, but Khan's expression hadn't changed, though he did look on the verge of smirking if that twitch of his upper lip was saying something.
"Actually, I wanted to discuss, our so called relationship building." Khan was full on smirking now and his gaze churned the captain's stomach in its intensity. "I mean, if you don't mind that is."
"Of course Kirk," Khan finally broke through what was quickly becoming an awkward silence. "Nothing would delight me more than to further discuss our growing fondness for one another. Clearly my last weeks visit has had a positive affect on you; for this I am glad. " Kirk started to interrupt him, but at the blatant animation in the other man's eyes, found that he didn't have the heart. "I propose we continue with last weeks endeavor to further understand each other. I believe it is my turn tonight to ask you a question, is that right?"
Jim nodded and quickly took a couple more swallows of his scotch; at this rate he'll be drunk in an hour. Not a good plan. Khan leaned forward in his seat (Spock's seat! Jim firmly reminded himself) and rested his elbows on his knees pressing his chin into his joined hands as he studied Jim."
"Hmmm tell me Kirk, why do you feel so negatively towards me, when you appear to hold no issue with any of my other crew mates?"
Jim dreaded the question and what was worse stupidly never saw it coming. He was aware his jaw dropped and he was gapping openly at his guest, but his brain refused to assist him in any way.
"You are free to be honest with me Captain, I promise not to take offense."
Finally catching himself Jim quickly nodded and ran one hand through what used to be his perfectly styled hair. He gave the brunette a nervous glance before dropping his gaze to the chessboard. Who was he kidding? If he didn't give at least a somewhat genuine answer Khan would pick up on his lie, like a dog with a bone; than he'll get mad and probably loose it completely. Time for some "ace in the hole" evasive action; Jim Kirk style.
"Well, you're aware I presume that the Vulcan's were given the task of assisting you and your crew to be able to adapt more readily into this age?
"But because the process was extensive, some memories might have been temporarily dislodged from your long-term memory bank."
Khan didn't look convinced but gestured silently for Kirk to continue.
"We have history Khan, and," Jim paused, catching himself last minute, "not all of it pleasant."
"Was any of it?"
Jim looked taken aback at the question.
"Was any of it what?"
"Um not really, we got of on the wrong foot so to speak, one thing lead to another," 'and then you went psycho on our ass, and killed the closest thing I had to a father, you fucking abomination'; but once again Kirk forced himself to suppress this line of thought. Khan appeared to ponder the new information, if the frown between his eyes was any indication.
"I guess that explains a lot Captain," Khan bought his vacant gaze back from over Jim's shoulder and fixed the blonde with a smouldering look. "I'm sure any apology would be worthless now that I cannot remember the crimes I must atone for; but I hope this won't hinder our chance to start over." He leaned forward and let one hand land gently on Jim's knee. The blonde suppressed the urge to shrug the invader off, and instead used his own hand to lift the spindly, pale hand of his knee to place it on the chessboard, his own hand covering it in a consolatory gesture.
"We can start over. I must be honest, its not going to be easy for a while; but over time I believe we can build a trust between us that will make us excellent comrades, maybe even friends. However there is an issue I feel I must address with you Khan." Taking a deep breath for courage, Jim leaned forward and forced his face into neutral. "The other night I thought I felt you; what I mean to say is. Damn it!" Jim swore and tried to take his hand way, but Khan caught it between his fingers and held on. Frustrated Jim couldn't contain himself any longer. "I thought you felt me up the other night and I want to know if that was on purpose; and if it was, what in the world made you think that grabbing my ass out of the blue was a good idea?"