Title: I'm Leaving Tomorrow (What Do You Say?)
Disclaimer: I own nothing
Rating: T for Bones's mouth
Summary: Post Narada. "Hello, Doctor McCoy," Jim said as he unceremoniously slammed a PADD down in front of McCoy. "You gonna tell me what the hell this is?" Or, Jim and Bones have a discussion. Loudly. In a park.
AN – Written quickly while bored at work, unbetaed, all mistakes are mine.
The park was bright, sunny. McCoy had parked himself at a picnic table, nothing with him but his lunch of a turkey sandwich, cut neatly into two halves. Around him, people milled and talked and played frisbee. Children were playing on the jungle gym, swinging on the monkey bars and climbing up the slides as their parents called at them to be careful. McCoy watched, quiet, letting the sounds of the other people living wash over him.
Three weeks ago, all of this had almost been destroyed. Lost. Vanished into the depths of a black hole to nowhere.
McCoy took a large bite of sandwich, and did not think about that. He looked down at the table and let the happy sounds of people living fill his mind instead.
The shout cut through the noise. All the parents in the area leapt to cover their children's ears, and all McCoy had to do was follow their glares in order to find the source. Jim, resplendent in his dress uniform, was marching across the grass and straight towards him. McCoy put his sandwich down and waited.
"Afternoon, Jim," said McCoy as he came to a stop just in front of the picnic table. Jim didn't sit, and only glared.
"Hello, Doctor McCoy," Jim said as he unceremoniously slammed a PADD down in front of McCoy. "You gonna tell me what the hell this is?"
"Data PADD, looks like," said McCoy.
"What's on the PADD, you crotchety bastard," said Jim, gesturing.
"You wanna tell me why you're calling me names?" he said, glancing up at Jim. He realized that Jim was actually and truly pissed off, towering over McCoy like that with his crossed arms and his clenched jaw. Groaning and rolling his eyes, McCoy tugged the PADD closer and scanned it. "It's my list of position requests."
"That's right," said Jim. "Your position requests."
He spit the words out like bullets with Leonard McCoy scrawled on the sides of them. "Yeah," said McCoy. "Doesn't tell me what's got your panties in a twist there, Jim Boy."
"Captain Jim Boy, I'll have you know," said Jim.
"I am aware," said McCoy. "I was there for the ceremony, if you recall. Also, you gonna sit or just stand there and shout some more?"
"Stand and shout. If you're aware that I'm a captain now, you're also aware that a ship is now in my possession," said Jim, and planted his hands on his hips. "Do you see the problem yet?"
McCoy stared back up at Jim and wondered if this is how it felt to be bad at math, to look at an equation and see nothing but a jumble. Jim just watched him, still in his dress uniform, the very picture of righteous fury. McCoy scrambled for a suitable answer and decided that whatever time of day it was, it was too early for this. "No," he said. "Damn it, Jim, I'm not a mind reader. Just tell me what the hell your issue is with me so I can finish my lunch."
"My ship, Doctor," said Jim, jabbing a finger at the PADD. "It's called the Enterprise, and it's not on your lovely list of position requests. I know because I've looked. Twice."
"Twice?" said McCoy. "I would've thought once would've been enough."
"I had to read it twice to believe it," Jim said, gesturing wildly. People were starting to stare, watching the two of them out of the corners of their eyes. "I thought that I must've missed something, because everyone who was on the Enterprise is being given top choice. Pretty much all of them are requesting to stay aboard. So imagine my surprise when I find out that you – my best friend, the best doctor in the 'fleet – requests only planet side, starbase, and station placements."
"Hi, apparently we haven't met," said McCoy, sticking his hand out for a shake. "My name's Leonard McCoy. I fucking hate space."
"Put that thing away," said Jim, slapping his hand lightly. "I'm looking for a serious answer here, Bones."
He crossed his arms, and McCoy finally saw it for what it was as Jim's shoulders hunched and he seemed to curl in on himself. "Jim," he said, pushing both PADD and lunch out of the way so that he could rest his arms on the table before him. "Sit down."
"I'd rather stand."
"Sit. Down," growled McCoy.
Jim waited for a minute, and then announced, "I'm sitting because I want to. Not because you're telling me to."
"I can't believe they gave you a ship," muttered McCoy as Jim dropped to sit across from him.
His words were not taken with the sarcasm intended when Jim's face fell for barely a moment and he said, "Is that why you don't want to be on the Enterprise? Because I'm the captain and not someone more…experienced?"
"You know damn well that's not why," said McCoy.
"Then why not?" Jim snapped, loud enough to startle a pigeon and send it flying away.
"Because," McCoy said, and stopped. "Damn it, you know why."
"I don't!" Jim said. "Look, Bones, do you know how I found your list here?"
"You're a nosy son of a bitch with no sense of personal boundaries."
"Only with you, Bones," said Jim, his anger dropping for a moment before springing back up. "No. I requested you as my CMO and was told that –"
"Your what?" McCoy said. He was fairly certain his heart missed a beat in panic at that.
"CMO. Chief Medical Officer. Keep up," said Jim. "Anyway. I requested you and was told you no longer wanted to serve on my ship. It was embarrassing. And now you won't give me a straight answer."
McCoy was still reeling slightly. "You don't want me as your CMO."
"No, I think I do," said Jim. "See, I'm actually having to fend off a lot of other captains who want you. Actually, pretty much all of them that're left want you for their ships and stations and starbases. Half of those want you to lead them."
"Pike wanted you," he said. "It's a good work reference in my opinion."
"I'm not convinced that Pike's entirely sane," said McCoy.
"That implies that you think I am," said Jim. "And I have been reliably informed by you that I am not. So. Next argument so I can counter it."
"Pike only wanted me as a doctor, not running the Medical wing of the entire ship," said McCoy. "I haven't technically graduated yet, Jim."
"Even if you hadn't taken charge of Sickbay without blinking during a crisis situation," said Jim. "Even if I didn't see you patching up those Vulcans and saving Pike's life, you still were head of surgery once. You're still the best doctor I know. Bones, come on, it'll be fun. Me and you, space, the final frontier!"
"Space," said McCoy, grimacing. Just the thought of that black, dark void made a shiver roll down his spine. He'd woken up nearly every night since they'd returned to Earth in a cold sweat, the wreckage of the rest of the fleet floating through his mind. All those people, suffocated and drifting. And here was Jim, asking him to go up there again. McCoy swallowed thickly.
"Okay, so that wasn't the best reasoning I've ever come up with," said Jim, holding up his hands. "But I kept you alive this time, didn't I? And I'll do that in the future. Besides –"
"Jim," McCoy tried to cut in, to put a stop to this before it got any further.
" – you did really well, you know? I don't think I saw you panic once while –"
"Jim, stop," McCoy said, trying again, but Jim plowed on.
" – we were going, and that was a worst case scenario! Won't ever happen again," Jim said. "You'll do just fine once –"
"Will you shut up and let me talk?" McCoy said, and now he was the one raising his voice. Jim trailed off, and then nodded. "Jim. Look."
Jim made it five seconds into McCoy's sudden silence before talking again. "Jim, look, what?" he asked.
"I don't," he said, and paused again. He braced himself, looking down at his hands, and said in a rush, "I can't go up there again."
"What're you talking about?" Jim said.
"The Enterprise is the flagship. Maybe this exact situation won't happen again, but things like it will," said McCoy. He still couldn't look Jim in the eyes. "When we're being shot at, if the ship were to crash – there is nothing I can do to stop that, don't you understand? I can't do it. I'm not cut out for starships. I need solid rock beneath my feet or I will actually lose my damn mind."
"Bones, I –"
"You're going to be a damn fine captain," said McCoy. "I'd go as far as to say that you already are. You deserve a CMO who matches up."
"Hey," said Jim. McCoy scratched at a bit of paint on the table top and still kept his eyes down. He didn't want to see Jim's pity, the moment he started agreeing with McCoy. McCoy could make it through many things – losing Jim's good faith was not one of them. Jim was made to rip through the black and leave legends trailing behind him. Most days McCoy could only hope to keep up – the time had finally come to stop trying. "Hey, come on, look at me."
McCoy did, and found Jim staring back at him earnestly. There was no pity, though. Only expectation. "Bones," he said. "Please."
"I can't," McCoy said. All those people, cadets, kids barely old enough to be grad students, left floating alone in the black. An entire planet was nothing but a gaping hole ripped in the universe. And Jim wanted him to go back up there.
Jim pursed his lips, hesitating. "Are you really going to make me say it?" Jim asked.
"Say what?" McCoy answered. He was tired. He wanted to crawl back to his bed and pull the blankets over his head and pretend that space was a thing that didn't exist.
"Fine," said Jim. He sighed, and then said, "I need you, Bones. Badly. You call me on my shit and I don't think I'd be half as good a captain without you as I would be with you. So, there it is. I need you. Please come on my ship and be my CMO. Don't make me beg any more than this."
McCoy ground the heels of his hands against his eyes. He'd never really stood a chance, had he? "Spock calls you on your shit," he said, dropping his hands once more.
"Spock is undecided as to if he'll be rejoining my crew or not," said Jim. "Apparently you're all a bunch of ship-jumpers. Soon as we hit port, my two best guys went running for shore."
"Yeah, well, what can you do," said McCoy, waving a hand in the air. He sighed.
"I'm still waiting for an answer here," said Jim. "What's it going to be, Bones?"
"I don't know," said McCoy, knowing full well that this argument had probably been lost the moment Jim had come striding across the grass to him. "What was that you said about begging?"
"I knew you'd say yes!" Jim said. "This is going to be great, you'll see. And you can pick your own crew, of course, but you should know Chapel and the other nurses refuse to work under any other doctor than you, so I almost lost my whole Medical team. That would've been awkward. I'm glad we cleared this up."
"Whatever," said McCoy. "Send me whatever I have to sign."
"You'll have them by tonight," Jim said as he sprang to his feet, reaching to grab the PADD and half of McCoy's sandwich. He jammed the food in his mouth and said, the words muffled, "We're going to be the most kickass crew in Starfleet."
"Don't talk with your mouth full. Were you raised by wolves?" McCoy said. Jim just waved as he walked away, sticking his hands in his pocket.
McCoy watched him go until he was out of sight, and then looked up at the blue sky above him. His breath caught in his throat slightly as he pictured the millions upon millions of stars, the billions upon billions of planets, minus one called Vulcan. All of them waiting, hovering, unaware of the hurricane called James Kirk that was soon to be hurtling towards them. McCoy slipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out his flask, draining it in a single go.
"God help me," he muttered, and continued gazing upwards.