Sorry for the absence everyone. The plague came back with a vengeance and I am the world's worst sick person. I tend to hibernate which is all well and good but it does mean I lose touch with the world until I feel less icky. I'm not even a little bit hardcore, it's very pathetic. Acceptable Losses will be updated tomorrow, assuming I don't get the chance to do so later tonight. This is mostly a slow moving, cuddly, comforty Thanksgiving story I wrote following, and around the same time as Genesis. It's going to be four parts long and is pretty much unrelenting snuggliness with a little sprinkle of angst for flavor. There's lots of Jim&Bones being BFF, Jo being adorable, Pike and McCoy family feels, snark and post Narada issues that require lots and lots of hugs. And turkey.
Jim was pretty much dead on his feet. It was close to midnight and he'd just been released from an official meeting with an Admiral whose name he couldn't even remember. The damn thing had been almost six hours longer than it needed to be and just the latest in a long line of hoops Jim had been jumping through for several weeks.
He was exhausted and had been ever since the adrenaline had worn off and he'd found himself sitting in the Captain's chair on the bridge of the Enterprise wondering how exactly he'd gotten there.
That had been six weeks ago, and though the initial onslaught of debriefings, ceremonies, funerals and appearances had begun to dwindle, his official workload had more than increased to make up the deficit. And then some.
He'd tested out of his final exams, most of his coursework being waved by the sheer merit of his current circumstances, but there had been things even a grateful Admiralty had refused to allow him to bypass. He'd been supposed to have had years to learn the things he was being expected to now know, and while he'd always wanted to be challenged intellectually, he'd rapidly come to accept that he wasn't as effortlessly brilliant as he'd always thought he was. The volume of information he was processing was immense, the schedule he was expected to keep alongside it intense, and likelihood of him making it to the end of the year without falling flat on his face was looking less and less likely.
By the time he made it to the new apartment Bones and Spock had forced him to move in to, his feet were scuffing the ground with every step.
He wanted his bed. He was so exhausted even the nightmares wouldn't be enough to keep him from crawling beneath the covers.
Stumbling out of the turbo lift to his floor, Jim had to blink a few times before his mind processed the visitor waiting on his doorstep. Even as delight pulled a smile to his lips, he managed only a weary "Hey Bones,".
It surprised him to realize it had been over a week since he'd last seen his friend. His schedule wasn't the only one pushing him to the edge. Bones had spent more time at the hospital than outside it and the few times he'd commed Jim to meet for drinks or dinner, Jim had been forced to either cancel or decline outright. The messages had stopped a few days ago and Jim was reluctant to admit he missed Bones's irritable comms.
He'd even missed that grumpy scowl, the one Bones was wearing as he gave Jim the professional once over and clearly didn't like what he saw. Leonard McCoy cut an intimidating figure, even by Jim's standards, but after weeks of being grilled by one Admiral after another – and being pulled in to address the President herself – Jim was pretty much jaded to all attempts to glare him into submission.
"Jim." Bones said by way of greeting, hi arms crossed over his chest. He was in civvies and his usual fastidious hair far more rumpled than usual. Instead of letting Jim by so they could go inside, he marched forward, took Jim's elbow firmly in hand and steered them back towards the turbolift.
"Not now, Bones." Jim protested, his dreams of sleep growing distant, along with the sight of his door. "Tomorrow, I swear." Bones said nothing, his jaw tighter than usual and his expression particularly thunderous. Jim tripped over his own feet more than once at the brisk pace. "Please, Bones." He begged, "I need to sleep."
If anything, Bones looked even angrier. Jim wracked his brain for whatever he might have done to piss him off this time. "Whatever I did, I'm sorry okay? You can yell at me later all you like, but I swear if you do it now I will fall asleep on you."
"Shut up, Jim." McCoy said mulishly, dragging Jim out of the lift and across the lobby.
The air outside was cold and crisp, but still not enough to really bring Jim around. McCoy pulled him out to the curb and manhandled him into the back of waiting transportation. "Bones? Where are we going?"
"Thought I told you to shut up?" Bones said, his voice and his expression pissed, but his hands gentle. Jim took his cues from Bones's body language and always had done, a necessity when dealing with a man who's natural expression was 'irritated' and who sounded angry even when he wasn't. The hands that pushed him down onto the back bench were competent and more importantly, harmless. Jim felt the tension leave his shoulders and slumped down more comfortably.
"Are you kidnapping me?" He asked mildly when Bones closed the door then climbed in the front of the vehicle.
"Yes." Bones replied, programming their destination into the computer. From the angle he was sat, Jim couldn't make it out.
"Oh." He said tiredly, leaning his head back against the padded seat. "Okay then."
Jim had the perfect insult to fire back at him, but it got lost somewhere between his brain and the black cloud of fuzziness that fell over him.
When Jim woke he had the stiffness in his limbs that suggested he'd been in the same position for too long, and a bursting need to piss. Blinking groggily, he raised his head, surprised to find that he was laid out in an actual bed and tucked under a mountain of blankets.
"So it does live." The amused chuckle from the seat in next to the bed drew his attention away from the lingering haziness of sleep. Bones had one foot resting on the opposite knee, a PADD balanced on his thigh and an expression far less tense than it had previously been.
"Did you drug me?" Jim aimed for suspicious and annoyed, but his words were broken by a jaw dropping yawn, spoiling the effect.
"No I didn't drug you, moron. The body does this weird thing called sleep when it is tired."
"We were in a car," Jim frowned, rubbing his eyes, still feeling heavy limbed and slightly out of touch. He never had problems waking up usually.
"We were." McCoy nodded.
"And now we're…not?"
"I can see why people think you're a genius." McCoy deadpanned.
Jim tried to glare at him before giving up to glance around the room. "Wait, are we in your mom's house?" Bones nodded. "Your mom's house in Georgia? How the hell did that happen?"
"You were pretty out of it." Bones shrugged.
"Is that the medical term?" Jim grumbled, throwing back the sheets. He was in his boxers and one of Bones's Old Miss t-shirts and while Bones had certainly had cause to dress and undress him before, it was usually because Jim was too drunk to be of any help.
As if sensing his thought process, Bones rolled his eyes. "You've been in that damn uniform for six weeks. I don't care what you say, freshers only do so much. And if you want to be technical then you can call it severe fatigue. Fact of the matter is you slept through the entire trip, my mom lecturing me loud enough to wake the whole neighborhood and me bumping your head on the banister while hauling your ass up here."
Jim gaped at him. Okay, yes, sometimes he crashed pretty spectacularly if he'd been pushing things – his last set of finals had put him out for an entire weekend – but he never slept that deeply unaided. "Holy shit."
Bones gave him his patented expression for when he thought Jim was being particularly dense. "You needed it, Jim. You were burning the candle at both ends even before the whole mess with Nero."
Jim scowled at him and hauled himself out of bed. He'd been working on that damn simulation of Spock's, true, and he might have taken that to extremes, but that was hardly the onset of his exhaustion. Jim worked hard and he played hard, that was his style.
"And you dragged me to your mom's why?"
"It's Thanksgiving tomorrow, dumbass." McCoy said, as if that explained anything.
In a way, it did. Before meeting Bones he'd never had a Thanksgiving – his only reference for it in fact was second hand stories and things he'd read. It hadn't been a blip on his family's radar. McCoy, on the other hand, came from a family firmly rooted in tradition and instead of leaving Jim to cause havoc while unsupervised, had dragged him home to Georgia. That had been their first year as friends. It had become an unspoken rule that Jim came home with him at least once a year.
Jim never protested. How could he? He'd been declared an honorary McCoy some time after drinking one of Bones's cousins under the table and announced as family that very moment. Jim, who hardly had a family of his own to compare them to, greedily lapped up every moment of warmth and love Bones and his family shared.
Besides, he got to hang out with Jo, who had wrapped him around her little finger by the time she was two years old.
He just hadn't realized it was that time of year already. The days had become something of a blur. "I didn't realize." He admitted.
Bones handed him fresh clothes, new ones, not his own, which had probably been bought especially for him by Mrs McCoy, who though polite enough not to call Jim a tragic, motherless orphan in need of coddling to his face, had very specific views about how Jim was to be treated when in her house – namely he was spoiled, fed and dotted upon, squirming be damned.
"I know kid." Bones said gently. "But mom would actually have had my head if I didn't bring you home with me."
Jim nodded and ran his fingers over the soft fabric of the new sweater. He hated charity, and he could certainly afford his own things now, especially in light of his promotion, but he'd come to learn that Bones's mom liked to spoil the people she loved, and somehow without understanding what he'd done to deserve it, Jim had become one of them. He certainly would never have bought himself anything as nice as the clothes in his hands, tending to favor practicality over comfort. His new outfit wouldn't last five minutes out in the wilderness, but they certainly looked nice.
But still for all that he wanted to pull the soft sweater over his head, go downstairs and listen to the warm chatter of kind, friendly people, he had so much work to do.
He opened his mouth to say so, getting so far as, "Bones-" before McCoy was shaking his head.
"You're signed off for two weeks, Jim. You're exhausted, you haven't taken any of the leave the rest of us were forced to take, you need some time off."
"I'm fine Bones, really. I slept great, but that's all I needed."
"Jim," Bones said seriously, "you woke up if I so much as rolled over when we were sharing a room and yet you were so exhausted I was able to carry you into the house and put you to bed like the damn infant you are." Jim scowled, embarrassed, which was insane. This was Bones, who had seen Jim in far worse conditions than a dead sleep. "For once in your life, do as you're told. You need some time away from Starfleet after everything that's happened." Then Bones sighed, as if a heavy weight suddenly had fallen on his shoulders, "And Jim, we need time."
"We do?" Jim blinked. Had he missed something? Suddenly worried, he thought back over the last few weeks. Sure, they hadn't seen much of each other, but that was hardly cause for alarm.
"Yeah Jim, we do." Bones said, sounding as weary as Jim felt. "Look, grab a shower then head on downstairs. We both need to eat and I can only hold mom off from coming up here and crying on you for so long."
"Crying on me?" Jim said in alarm, unable to imagine Bones's mom doing anything of the sort. She was a little like Hoshi-san in that respect. Kind, gentle, utterly terrifying. "Why would she cry on me?"
Bones shook his head. "Shower." He gave Jim a gentle shove towards the bathroom. "I'll see you downstairs."
He left the room leaving Jim clutching his new clothes and wondering what the hell he'd missed this time.
The McCoy family home always managed to feel warm and inviting, despite the sheer size of it. Jim had been blown away the first time he'd seen it. He'd known Bones had come from a wealthy family, but there was wealthy and there was this. Jim had been given his own room on the east side of the house, six doors down from Bones's. He'd never been in a house that had enough rooms for two of them to be six doors apart.
It had its own en-suite which gave Jim some privacy to freshen up and he was grateful for his good memory when it came to finding his way down to the kitchen.
Bones was waiting, sat at the breakfast table reading the news while his mom hovered by the stove. Jim knew there was a replicator in the house, but he'd never seen it used. She looked up as Jim arrived and paused.
"Morning, Mrs McCoy." No matter how many times she'd asked him to call her Eleanor, he'd never been able to manage it. Like Hoshi-san, she deserved the respect of a proper title. Normally that would be the point where she'd come over and smother him with kisses, call him sugar and hustle him over to the table for food. This time she just stared at him long enough for the urge to fidget to become almost overwhelming.
Then she finally moved. She reached Jim's side and wrapped her arms around him, hugging him the way she hugged Bones – with far less fanfare and ten times the emotion. Jim felt guilty hugging her back – she was Bones's mom, not his – but he did have some manners, despite popular opinion, and carefully returned the embrace.
"You're a good boy, Jim." She said as she finally pulled back, patting him on the cheek as she went. Over at the counter, Bones had an undecipherable look on his face. "Did you sleep well?"
"Yes thank you." Jim said, allowing himself to be shuffled over to sit next to Bones, who poured him coffee from the freshly steaming pot. Jim took it gratefully. "I'm sorry I wasn't quite with it enough to say hello last night."
She and Bones shared a look. "Jim, we got here two days ago."
Jim gaped at him, hurriedly looking for a distraction from their worried looks. "Guess that's why I'm so hungry then."
"Well we can fix that up." Eleanor smiled brightly, pushing aside the awkwardness that hung in the air and turning to the stove to fix up the batch of pancakes she'd been baking. "Still a blueberry fan?"
"Yes ma'am." Jim grinned, settling down in his seat. Bones rolled his eyes predictably and Jim felt himself relax. He might be missing something, but Bones was still Bones, the one consistent in Jim's life. He'd figure it out and he'd fix it.