See, this wasn't too long to wait was it? Here's a little bromance between our favorite three, with a nice dash of Joanna thrown in for extra squishiness. Mind-melds fascinate me and I've always thought that there is so much room for potential to play around with various consequences.
This is a one shot, but it is set in the same verse as A problem from hell. If you haven't read it, or don't wish to, all you need to know to understand this story is that Spock performed a mind meld on a very traumatized Jim and dragged McCoy along for the ride. There are some references to child abuse, so please proceed with caution.
McCoy woke up with a start, his heart pounding with a white-hot fear that someone was in the room with him.
"Computer," he croaked, "lights on full."
The sudden glare made his eyes water and burn, but illumination flooded the entire room, casting away all the shadows in which someone might be hiding.
Still. He had to check his closet and then, foolishly, under his bed. Just to be certain.
Feeling sick and shaky, he stumbled into the bathroom and splashed water on his face before looking up into his reflection. Dark circles hung under tired eyes and his hair, now damp, was plastered to pale skin.
This was his fifth nightmare in a week and the bitch of it was they weren't even his own.
It didn't take much deducing to know whose dreams he was having, or really a stretch of thought to understand why.
Spock's damn Vulcan Voodoo had done something to his brain and as well as taking a swim through Jim's memories, it now seemed he was sharing his nightmares.
"Get it together, McCoy." He told his reflection angrily.
Knowing he wouldn't be getting any more sleep, he jumped in the shower and stayed there until the water turned cold.
"You screwed up your voodoo, jackass!" McCoy said to Spock in lieu of a greeting as the Vulcan greeted him at the door. Spock's eyebrow rose sharply and he stepped aside to allow McCoy entrance.
"Do you care to be more specific?" He asked, offering McCoy a beverage. His whole apartment was surprisingly warm and inviting: lots of deep, earthy tones with exotic art and brilliant splashes of color. It was the perfect blend of Vulcan and African cultures and looked to McCoy like a visual representation of everything that worked so well about Spock and Nyota.
He took a seat at the breakfast counter and thumped his head down on his arm, exhausted. "I'm talking about the fact that for the last week I've been nosing around in Jim's dreams. That can't be normal, surely?"
Spock paused, a pot of tea held in mid pour as he fixed his dark eyes on McCoy in surprise. "Fascinating." He said, "of course. I should have expected that you might
be affected. I assume you experienced one of these dreams last night?"
McCoy shuffled uncomfortably. "It felt real. Felt like it was my dream. But-"
"You know it is not." Spock nodded understandingly. "As you yourself never underwent the experiences you dream of."
"I never had a pedophile for an uncle, no." McCoy said waspishly. In truth, of all the memories McCoy was trying to assimilate from Jim, the ones of Frank were proving the most trying. After they had rescued Jim from Kodos, Spock had sat McCoy down and talked him through the process of separating his memories from Jim's. It was easier said than done, but the more he did, the smoother the process became. He moved slowly through each memory, mentally cataloguing it in the way he might have done a movie or a story he heard and reminding himself that they were not his memories. This is not my life. Some of the ones from Tarsus were so horrifying it took several attempts to find distance, but he was making progress.
Jim's memories of Frank, however, he found all but impossible to sort through. Just acknowledging their existence made him shaky and sick. Made him feel unclean and broken. He couldn't face them, and so they lurked in the back of his mind.
"Will you talk to him about it?" Spock queried.
"About the fact that I'm sharing his dreams? Hell yes." McCoy growled. "He deserves to know." After the fallout from the nanotech, there was no way in hell he'd ever risk Jim thinking he was abusing his trust or invading his privacy ever again. Total honesty, even if it killed him.
Spock looked at him steadily and finished pouring the tea. "If that is what you wish."
McCoy let himself in to Jim's apartment and headed directly for the sound of voices coming from the kitchen. He'd brought coffee: something tall, black and thick like tar for himself, something loaded with sugar, random flavors and syrup for Jim. The first time he'd seen Jim order his stupidly overpriced coffee had provided McCoy with enough material to mock him for a week. Now he was glad of the extra calories. He'd also grabbed Joanna a small cup of foamed milk and chocolate sprinkles so she wouldn't feel left out.
"Hi daddy!" Joanna waved merrily at him, her face covered with flour and batter but her smile wide enough to suggest that she was having the time of her life.
"Morning sweetheart." McCoy smiled back. "What have you done to Uncle Jim's kitchen?"
Joanna giggled and Uncle Jim chose that moment to emerge from the back of the room with arms full of various ingredients. "Hey Bones." He said brightly. "Jo's filling in a gap in my education."
"Uncle Jim's never baked before!" Joanna looked scandalized. Jim shrugged sheepishly. He had flour on his nose and a great deal of it in his hair. Of course they would make a mess. Two mini tornados in a baking scenario could result in nothing but chaos.
"Oh hey, coffee." Jim brightened, grabbing one of the cups from McCoy's hands. "Thanks Bones. You wanna help?"
"Is it safe?" McCoy asked skeptically.
Jim shrugged his shoulders, the thin cotton t-shirt emphasizing the thinness of his chest and shoulders. McCoy should have gotten him two of those stupid coffees. "I guess so. It can't be that much different from chemistry, right?"
"Did you ever actually study chemistry? Proper chemistry, not How to Blow Things Up 101?"
Jim scowled at him. "I am, as everyone likes to remind me, a genius. If I can design a genetically superior strain of wheat I can bake cupcakes." He said the words more as a reassurance to himself than as actual fact.
McCoy snorted. "You keep telling yourself that, hotshot."
Jim glared at him, but there was no heat in his eyes. He was pale, and still so damn thin, but he'd regained much of his balance and coordination over the past week. They never left him alone for more than a few hours at a time, but Jim hadn't yet complained, which meant he wanted their company more than he wanted to preserve his ego.
But aside from that, he looked okay. Far better, actually, than McCoy felt he should. It wasn't even that false cheer or stubbornness and it took a moment for McCoy to realize what it was.
It was his eyes. They were clear and bright, more so than McCoy had ever seen them. They looked well rested. The veil of exhaustion that usually hung over Jim, even when he was wide awake and bouncing from one thing to another, was gone.
His mind provided the solution almost instantly.
Jim was sleeping. Properly sleeping, for more than an hour or so at a time. Jim had never done that. They'd shared a room for three years. McCoy knew exactly how bad his sleeping patterns were. How bad his nightmares were.
"How're you feeling?" He asked Jim, almost without thinking.
"Okay I guess." Jim said as Joanna showed him exactly how to crack an egg without getting shell in the bowl.
"Yeah, actually." Jim smiled, a shy, half smile he saved only for people who knew him well. "Maybe there's something to be said for facing your demons after all?"
"Hmm." McCoy nodded, deep in thought. "That's good."
"No bad dreams." Joanna told Jim seriously, her small hands guiding his as they mixed the dough.
"No bad dreams." Jim promised. McCoy watched them both, the two people he loved most in the world, both of whom he had nearly lost. Once upon a time he'd have said there was no one in the world he would have trusted Joanna to, but ever since Jim had come home, Jo had practically moved in for a permanent sleepover. Jim gave up his bedroom and took over his couch and they had a revolving door of guests every day. "You okay Bones?" Jim asked him, concern in his bright eyes. "You look exhausted."
"You need to sleep more, daddy." Jo said to him. "You should sleep on Uncle Jim's couch. I think it's magic."
"No bad dreams." Jim grinned at her, looking lighter, freer than he'd ever looked.
"Nah." McCoy said. "Just more coffee."
How often had he hated how little he'd ever been able to do to help Jim? He could patch the damage and stitch up the wounds, but he'd never been able to stop them from happening, and he'd never been able to undo the hurt they left behind.
Maybe…maybe Spock's voodoo hadn't quite worked the way it was supposed to, but if it meant Jim was finally free of the dreams that had haunted him all his life, who exactly was McCoy to take that away from him?
If enduring Jim's dreams for him was the only thing he could do to help his friend, then he would do it in a heartbeat. It wasn't like he needed much sleep anyway.
So much for total honesty.