Angst. Lots of it. We had a wonderful dose of Spock's pain in STID and only a single, devastated glance from Bones. I think by now that my love of Jim&Bones BFF4EVA is well known, and their manpain warranted further exploitation. Oh boys…


Word reached Bones before the body did.

It was a horrified kind of whisper, muttered in disbelieving voices by men and women who should have been rejoicing their own survival.

They were safe, word had it. Safe, because the captain had saved them. Safe because Jim Kirk had died for them.

McCoy didn't believe it at first. It was bull. Not the part about Jim saving them because that was the sort of thing Jim did on a day-to-day basis: wake up; brush his teeth; save the world; irritate his doctor, rinse, repeat.

He even gathered his emergency kit, checked the hypos he kept for Jim alone because there was no possible way the brat hadn't messed himself up even more after the firefight at Command, and god forbid Jim Kirk respond to medication like a normal human being. No, he needed special drugs. McCoy packed them up and readied himself for the incoming shitstorm.

Foolish boy wasn't going to know what hit him. He should have sought attention days ago and any leeway McCoy had given him owing to the emotional agony he'd been emitting in waves was long since spent. He was going to drug the kid into next week then strap him down for the worst lecture of his entire existence.

Fighting Klingons. Befriending terrorists. Taking on genocidal Starfleet Admirals. Jesus Christ. At least last time it had just been a few deranged Romulus and one messed up Vulcan. Now Jim had to go and add genetically enhanced psychopaths to his repertoire.

Hell, he might just drug the kid until McCoy was old enough to retire and drag Jim back to Earth so Joanna could care for them both in their dotage. The idea had merits. McCoy stewed on it manically, waiting for Jim to arrive, chaos in his wake.

But Jim didn't arrive, and the whispers didn't stop.

They got louder.

By the time the small contingent of officers traipsed brokenly into medical there was no pretending that the grapevine was misinformed.

The look on Scott's face destroyed any hope he had that there had been some kind of mistake. There was no manufacturing that level of devastation and no one else on board who could inspire it. It was a look McCoy imagined was mirrored in his own expression.

Several officers carried the body bag between them, laying it down on a biobed with the kind of reverence shown to only the most beloved of figures.

Jim was in that bag.

He liked his metaphors. They aptly summed up his often tumulus emotions, and they drove Spock spare. Saying that he felt his heart being ripped right from his chest – illogical, impossible, but the only real way of describing the wave of pain that hit him from the empty hopelessness of Scott's gaze.

Unbidden, memories of Jim washed over him, hammering down the agony that refused to give way to a manageable numbness. Jim's bright, cheerful laugh when McCoy was at his most grouchy; his cocky, confident reassurances that their shuttle was safe, c'mon Bones, people have been doing this for years; his refusal to let McCoy drink alone on Joanna's birthday; the way his defenses melted away at the sight of McCoy's little girl; his vulnerabilities, so many, so deep; his bravery; his loyalty; his love.

All of it, gone.

Jim's heart was huge. Battered, scarred, capable of such astonishing devotion, and it would never beat again.

The crew members that followed soberly in the gurney's wake were all close to tears. Chekov clutched Uhura's hand, both their knuckles white and tense. They had both been crying.

McCoy stared at the closed covers of the body bag and wondered why he wasn't. Jim was his best friend, his brother. He should be crying – sobbing, actually. He should have been pulling Jim free from the cold, impersonal covers and shaking the horrible brat until he cracked one of his charming smiles and Bones forgave him for taking his heart and breaking it in two.

He did nothing of the sort. Just stared in shock until he was finally able to open the bag and look at the evidence for himself.

He vaguely heard Marcus stifle a sob but did not have the energy to spare her any sympathy. No pretending now. No escaping the fact that the body in front of him belonged to James Kirk, dead at the grand old age of twenty six.

God, he was still just a boy. After everything Jim had struggled against in his life, he was finally happy, finally home, and the universe just couldn't leave him be.

It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair.

Uhura and Chekov left in silence, heading to the bridge as alerts sounded from every station.

Grimly, McCoy recognized the danger they were all in and felt a sickening jolt of something close to relief when he wondered if they weren't all still going to die after all.

But no, Jim had saved them. Stupid, reckless, selfish bastard that he was. Not giving a thought to what his death would do to them. Not caring that he was killing the man named Bones as surely as he was killing himself.

McCoy hated him in that minute. Hated the stillness of Jim's chest or the slack lifelessness of his face. He hated that he couldn't see Jim's eyes; hated that he'd never be able to look up to the sky without thinking of the boy who had saved his sanity and damned his soul.

How was he even supposed to carry on with his life now?

Jim defined him in every sense of the word. He existed, he was sure, for the sole purpose of bullying Jim Kirk into health and happiness. He laughed when Jim laughed, he cried when Jim cried.

He bitched and moaned and worried for days on end when Jim hurt.

He moved the damn Universe to fix the problem, and when that wasn't enough he stitched the wounds closed and doused them in alcohol.

What the hell was he going to do now? What purpose did he even have?

Looking at Jim's pale, still face was suddenly too much to stand. Another moment and he'd have been shaking his body, screaming at him to wake the hell up and be Jim again.

He found his chair as if on autopilot, then slumped down, all the strings holding him to the universe cut.

Jim was gone. Jim was dead, and McCoy hadn't even said goodbye. Hell, the last thing they'd talked about was the damn Tribble sat purring away on his….


Slowly and with no small amount of terror, McCoy's eyes rose to the monitor in front of him.

And quietly, like the first whispers that had delivered the devastating news of his captain's death, a blossom of hope uncurled in his chest.

The universe was wrong if it thought it had won this round. It wanted McCoy's best friend, it was going to have a struggle on its hands.

And Bones? Well, he'd learned how to fight from Jim Kirk.

He didn't believe in no-win scenarios.