This one is super hurt/comforty and the last of the planned updates in this story. Hope you had fun!
Leonard McCoy…Bones, he was Bones, was about to tear the whole goddamn world apart.
Three days. He'd been in that cell for three goddamn days, and they'd not let him see any of the crew since they had all been separated. Diplomatic endeavor his goddamn ass. This had been the Vitorian's goal right from the very start.
As First Contacts went it had been by the book to the very letter, at least until they had started taking heavy oncoming fire, which let's face it, was more their kind of book anyway. They'd been hopelessly, hideously outnumbered, cut off from the ship and the seriously pissed off Vulcan who had been left in charge.
McCoy had been thrown into a cell by himself and left. They'd sent water and thin, edible crackers, but he'd had no further contact, no matter how loud he shouted or creative his insults.
He was about to lose his mind with worry and anger, and then the door to his cell finally opened and his captain was thrown at him..
He was just about able to catch Jim before he hit the ground with jarring force, but although McCoy did his best to be gentle, Jim groaned in pain nonetheless. "Jim!" He cried, turning his captain over so Jim lay across his legs. "Jim! Talk to me kid. What the hell have you monsters done to him?" He demanded, cupping Jim's bruised cheek and trying to track the rapid movement of his eyes.
"Healer." One of the Vitorian's said, pointing to McCoy. "Heal." He indicated Jim and his twitching limbs.
"Why? So you can torture him all over again?" McCoy demanded, checking Jim's pulse and feeling his alarm rise at the abnormally rapid pace it raced at. "What the hell is wrong with you people?"
"Heal." They stressed again.
"With what? I need my equipment, my bag." McCoy carefully set Jim down on the stone floor and stripped off his own overshirt to make a pillow for Jim's head. The captain was conscious but senseless, most likely concussed and clearly in a world of pain.
The Vitorians left, leaving only a bowl of cool clean water behind them. With no way to know if his request would be honored, McCoy set about doing what he could.
An old sawbones, that was what Jim jokingly called him, but it was apt for the way he was performing his diagnostic. Without scanners to identify the problems Jim was experiencing, he had to rely on his own senses, touch, sight, sound, to tell him what was wrong.
He started at Jim's head, carefully feeling his skull, then rounding down his neck, checking his spine. He found the bump at the back of Jim's head fairly quickly – Jim had taken one hell of a knock when they'd been captured and it was clear he'd not been allowed any treatment for it. Any further injuries to his head would only have worsened the damage and McCoy could only pray the damage was localized. Given the two black eyes and clearly broken nose Jim had to match, it seemed his captors had not been overly concerned with their treatment of him.
"Jim? Can you hear me?"
Jim's eyes fluttered open and struggled to focus on McCoy's face. "Bones." He murmured.
"Yeah kid, it's me." Funny, Jim was going to be thirty next year, but McCoy would never stop thinking of him as kid.
"We gotta stop meeting like this." Jim slurred, his bruised mouth twitching into a half smile.
"No kidding." McCoy said, moving down to Jim's torso. His ribs were badly bruised but didn't feel broken, which relieved McCoy more than he cared to admit. Jim was no stranger to bust ribs but they carried more deadly implications should they rupture any organs. "This hurt?" He asked Jim, trying to keep his attention.
"No." Jim lied predictably.
"Uh huh. What about now?"
"Its…fine." Jim had broken off into a hiss midsentence as McCoy had gently pressed against his abdomen. That was worrying. If Jim was bleeding internally McCoy would have no hope of saving him without his equipment.
"How's your head?"
"Feels like I drank too much Bloodwine." Jim grimaced. That had been a hangover for the record books. "They hurt you?"
McCoy had to push him gently back down as Jim tried to sit to assess any hurt that might have been inflicted on his crewman.
"Aside from a few bumps and bruises when they captured us I'm fine." McCoy assured him. "Looks like you've kept them occupied. What do they want?"
"Information. Access codes. Doesn't matter. I won't give them anything." Jim said, closing his eyes tiredly. McCoy finished his checks, adding a sprained wrist, splintered metatarsal and swollen elbow. Both his legs had been broken, which accounted for the worst of the pain Jim must have been feeling as well as the residual shock which left him weak and shaky.
He had nothing he could splint the breaks with, though he used his undershirt to bind Jim's legs together to limit their mobility and the chances of his causing more damage by moving.
Jim had choked back a cry as McCoy worked, but managed to contain most vocalizations of his pain. Usually his stoicism drove McCoy mad, but he guiltily was thankful for it as he had no way at all of easing any of Jim's agony.
Having done as much as he could, McCoy shuffled back against the wall and pulled Jim gently against him. He was feeling the cold now, having shed both his shirts, and Jim was still trembling lightly.
"Careful now Bones." Jim said, his eyes still closed. "People will talk."
"I'm sure they will." Bones snorted, his chin resting lightly on Jim's shoulder. "How long do you think before Spock gets us out?"
"Not long." Jim promised.
"It's been three days." McCoy couldn't help but be pessimistic. "God, Jim, what if they try take you again?"
"You'll let them." Jim said sternly, opening his eyes to pin McCoy with one of his intense stares, the kind he only ever used when he was at his most serious. "That's an order."
"Shove your orders, kid." Bones said harshly. "I'm not going to stand back and let them hurt you."
"God, you're the worst." Jim sighed. "You'll do as you're damn well told."
"Make me." Bones taunted.
Jim weakly raised an arm then let it fall back against his side. "Too much effort." He moaned.
"So I win." McCoy knew that would annoy him, and predictably Jim glared up in his direction.
"I think you'll find it counts as a draw."
"Which is as good as a win." MocCoy said, one hand resting over Jim's heart, helping to regulate his harsh, uneven breathing by bringing Jim in time with his own inhalations. He knew that if they were in any other situation, at any other time, he'd never be allowed to do what he was doing. Jim didn't like being touched when he was physically hurting, it made him twitchy and ended up causing more harm than good.
But they had been friends for so long now, seen each other through so many hardships. Jim trusted McCoy with the closeness, and he knew it brought the doctor as much comfort as it did him.
"Hmm." Jim murmured tiredly.
"Oh no, wake up you lazy bastard." McCoy growled. "Head injury, remember? You've had enough of them."
"You're so annoying." Jim grumbled but obediently opened his eyes again.
"It's a professional talent." McCoy agreed. "Now come on, talk to me."
"I'm tired Bones." And he sounded it. McCoy had no way of knowing how much rest their captors had allowed Jim in the last few days.
"I know kid, but you have to stay awake. Come on Jim, normally I can't get you to shut up."
"True." Jim muttered. "Okay, I'm awake. God, this is officially going in my top five shittiest Christmases."
"You're the one who wanted to work over the holidays." McCoy pointed out.
"Barnett's the one who gave the orders." Jim protested.
"And we'll kick his ass when we get back." McCoy promised. "But really, only in the top five? We're locked in a cell on some backward planet and you look like you've been used as a piñata, and it doesn't get top spot?"
"Christmas after Sam left." Jim said softly. "That was the worst." McCoy cringed, cursing himself. Of course Jim had seen some pretty horrible Christmases. He must have done – no one could have looked so utterly overwhelmed, so genuinely, innocently enthralled by McCoy's crazy family holidays if they had their own experiences of joy to look back on. It had been pretty clear from the very first Christmas they had shared together that Jim had never done any of the things he himself took for granted.
"Yeah," McCoy said gently, "I bet." The thought of Jim in a house alone with his asshole uncle made his skin crawl.
"I fucking wrote to Santa, asked him to bring Sam back." Jim laughed mirthlessly.
The thought tore at McCoy's heart. "Thought you'd fallen off the Santa wagon long before that?" He teased, trying to lift Jim's mind out of the dark place he'd so carelessly sent it.
"Sure," Jim agreed, "did it anyway. I was kinda desperate."
Unconsciously, McCoy's arms had tightened around Jim's chest. "Take it the big guy failed to cough up the goods?"
"He probably deserved to vaporize at the back of his sleigh then." Bones teased.
Jim snorted, clearly remembering the Christmas he'd tried to convince Jo Santa was real. "Ow, don't make me laugh."
"Sorry," Bones said absently, turning his cheek to rest against Jim's dirty hair. "What's top five then?"He asked. "Best Christmases."
Jim's lips twitched, some of his trembling easing as he turned his thoughts to happier memories.
"Christmas in prison was pretty good, actually." Jim admitted. "I mean, none of us actually wanted to admit that we enjoyed ourselves, but we did."
"Please tell me that's not your best Chistmas, Jim." Bones despaired.
"Hmm. No. No, that was a couple of years ago. You dragged me back to Savannah after I flunked the Maru a second time."
McCoy remembered that. Jim had been in one hell of a mood for weeks. He'd obsessed over that damn test and failing it a second time had caused a pretty horrific fallout. McCoy had been genuinely worried about him and he wasn't the only one. Jim had shut them all out, Pike, Gaila, Delta Team. Christmas had been an intervention more than anything, but within only hours of setting foot back home, the changes in Jim had been visible. He'd relaxed, he'd calmed down, and he'd lost the angry, broken look in his eyes that had scared everyone around him,
"You mean the one where Fred burned the turkey and Jo cried for a whole hour because I wouldn't let her stay up on Christmas Eve?"
"Yeah." Jim said, turning his head tiredly so it rested heavily on McCoy's chest. His eyes had fluttered closed again and Bones gave him a gentle shake, hating the way he moaned in pain.
"Why's that Christmas your favorite? Tell me."
"Cause it was."
"Very eloquent, Jim. Come on."
Jim groaned and tried turning away from McCoy's voice. Bones wouldn't let him, gently holding him in place. Eventually he gave in. "Because it felt normal."
That hadn't been the answer he'd been expecting. "What does that mean?"
"I dunno. I just means… means it felt like I belonged." Bones closed his eyes and rested his cheek against the crown of Jim's head. "Does that make sense?"
"Yeah kid, that makes sense."
"Never really thanked you for giving me that." Jim admitted. "Letting me have a home. God, I'm maudlin."
"You've been tortured, Jim. It's allowed."
"I guess. Man, Spock's gonna be pissed. He's gonna make me read the list again. I hate the list." Jim muttered, leaning more of his weight against McCoy with every steady exhale, the tension slowly leaving his body as exhaustion won over.
"What list?" McCoy asked, wanting to keep Jim talking.
"No way do you not know about the list." Jim accused, one eye opening just enough to look up suspiciously.
"I know of no list, Jim." Which was a big fat lie, so sue him.
"Bridge crew – and Scotty – have started keeping a list of all the things I'm not allowed to do. You can bet this is going on it."
"Getting kidnaped and tortured isn't on Spock's list of crazy shit you're not allowed to do?"
"And yet playing Parsi Squares is. I swear his priorities are fucked."
"He's neurotic." Jim corrected. "And since when are you on Team Spock?"
"Since Team Spock made it their sole mission in life to keep your sorry ass in one piece."
"Boo fucking-" Jim suddenly tensed against him, stilling McCoy's mocking response. "Jim?"
"Someone's coming." Jim said, suddenly more alert than he had been since they had thrown him into McCoy's cell.
McCoy cursed, looking around desperately. There was nowhere to hid him, no advantage to be gained. But he slid out from behind Jim, pressed him carefully done and stood between him and the door.
They wanted to take him, they'd need to do it over McCoy's dead body.
"Bones, no." Jim struggled to sit, trying to unfasten the shirt wrapped around his broken legs, as if that would make the slightest difference in his ability to protect himself. "Don't do this!"
"Shut up, Jim." McCoy growled, squaring his shoulders and preparing to fight.
It didn't do any good. The cell door opened and in poured the Vitorians, and all of his protective, righteous rage meant nothing in the face of beings with five times their strength. McCoy's struggles did nothing more than earn him a halfhearted beating that left him gasping and choking, all the more humiliating for the fact that they'd clearly put not effort at all into inflicting the level of pain that they had.
He barely heard Jim calling for him, telling him to stand down for fucksake over his own screams and threats. As he was able to scramble to his feet the cell door closed and all he could do was pound against the metal and continue to shout, hoping that maybe, just maybe, Jim could hear him from the other side.
"Jim!" He yelled. "Jim listen to me! Spock'll get us out and I promise, I promise we'll have a Christmas that'll put everything else to shame. Better than all your top five combined. I promise. Jim? Jim! Can you hear me? Jim!"
He thought nothing could be worse than being completely separated from Jim, not knowing where he was or if he was hurt. He was wrong.
When he heard Jim scream, he lost it.
He pounded on the door, oblivious to the damage he caused himself in the process. If he could just get though, if he could get to Jim on the other side…
Then suddenly Jim stopped screaming, and somehow that was more terrifying than ever. Was he unconscious, or worse?
He was dimly aware of black spots creeping into his vision as the commotion beyond his door grew ever louder. He tried to control the swirling dizziness, the escalating panic, but nothing helped. He slumped down to the ground, barely able to breathe and struggling around the sharp, stabbing pain in his chest as he tried to keep his grasp on his consciousness.
He heard the cell door opening again and tried to summon the strength to seize the chance and fight, but though the voice calling his name was somehow familiar, his vision blacked over before he could place name to blurred face.
He jerked painfully back to consciousness and nearly took Christine Chapel's head off with a failing arm.
"Doctor McCoy! Doctor, Leonard! It's alright, you're safe. You're back on the Enterprise."
"Jim!" The last thing he could remember was Jim screaming. Jim not screaming. His thoughts were out of place and disjointed, his head pounding and his whole chest on fire.
"You have to calm down. You nearly died. Calm down."
McCoy wasn't calming down. Not for anyone or anything. "Where is he? What have you done with him?" He demanded, looking around, trying to see Jim. If they were safe on the ship then where was he?
"He'll be fine." Christine promised, still holding him down. McCoy had no idea she could be that strong and the functioning part of his brain told him that it wasn't her strength doing it, but his weakness. "M'benga is with him now. You must relax."
"Please, allow me to assist." McCoy turned sharply at that calm, moderated voice. The same one he had heard before he lost consciousness.
"Spock! Jim, you have to find him!"
"Peace, Doctor." Spock stepped into his line of sight and took over Christine's task of holding him down against the biobed. "The Captain has been recovered. He is in surgery now. At this immediate point in time, you are my primary concern."
"I'm fine." McCoy shook his head angrily. "They barely touched me."
"They very nearly killed you." Spock corrected. "You were not breathing when I located you."
"You must be still. The damage to your ribs is severe. If you continue to struggle we will be required to sedate you to avoid further injury."
"Don't you fucking dare you greenblooded hobgoblin, Jim needs me!"
"Jim needs you to rest and recover." Spock said sternly. "You are doing neither."
"Just let me the hell out of this bed." McCoy snarled. Spock was infinitely stronger than Christine and had no problem holding him down.
"Very well." Spock sighed, but instead of allowing McCoy to stand, he placed his fingers at the juncture of McCoy's neck and squeezed gently.
"Bones. Booooones." McCoy woke up slowly this time, not in pain and slightly fuzzy around the edges. "Bonesy. Wakey wakey."
"Nugh." He said eloquently. "Go'way."
"Well that's nice. You scream the place down asking for me and now you don't want to see me. A guy could get the wrong idea."
McCoy opened his eyes immediately. "Jim!"
Jim was sat by the side of his bed, grinning widely. Only the faint lines around his eyes gave way to the stress he was under. That, and the fact that he was still swaddled in plasma wraps to aid the healing process. "Hi," he said brightly.
"I'm way better than you old man. You gave everyone a hell of a scare."
"They took you…I couldn't stop them." He said brokenly.
Jim shrugged with only a faintly hidden wince. "Shit happens. Lucky for us Spock chose that time to swoop in with the Vulcan badassery and heroics and save our sorry asses."
"He took his time." McCoy grumbled.
"Be nice, Bones." Jim scolded. "He did the best he could. We all did."
"I suppose." McCoy said reluctantly, looking Jim up and down carefully, trying to search out the hurts that Jim was so skilled at concealing from the world. "What the hell are you wearing?" He asked, frowning at the floppy red hat perched on Jim's head.
"Merry Christmas Bonesy." Jim beamed at him.
"That is not sanitary." Bones glared at the slightly lopsided Santa hat.
"Neither's the rest of it." Jim said carelessly, and only then did McCoy notice the fact that his entire bed had been decked out with what looked like every festive, sparkly monstrosity the ship had to offer.
"Oh no." He shook his head stiffly. "No way. You are not turning my sickbay into Santa's Grotto."
"Too late," Jim said happily. "Scotty's been playing Christmas music over the internal comms since this morning. Uhura's going crazy trying to figure out how to stop him."
"And I suppose you're helping him," McCoy said suspiciously, putting on the show he knew Jim needed to see in order to stop worrying. In many ways they still lied to each other all the time, and this was just another one to add to the list.
"I'm convalescing." Jim argued. "I have no authority, no responsibility, and no idea at all how Uhura got herself locked out of her own system." His bright, cheeky grin said otherwise.
"She'll have your balls for that." McCoy couldn't help but laugh.
"Not until I'm cleared for duty she won't." Jim shook his head. "Besides…you promised me the best Christmas ever."
"I did, didn't I?" McCoy sighed. "Don't suppose I'll be up for delivering on that." He waved a hand at his bed bound state.
"You already have, dumbass." Jim laughed. "I thought you were going to die. And you didn't. You were unconscious long enough to miss the fact that your bio-readings now identify you as the Grinch Who Stole Christmas and you don't get to hypo me to death with anything until you're cleared for duty. That officially makes this the best Christmas ever."
Jim's tone was light and playful, but McCoy knew him well enough to read the words he hid beneath the lightheartedness. He must have really scared the kid.
He reached out and grabbed Jim's hand to give it a reassuring squeeze. "I guess so."
Jim's answering smile was a little less bright but no less genuine and for a moment they just sat there in silence, marveling at the fact that once again they had survived together.
Then Jim cracked another of his roughish grins. "Just wait until you guess where Keenser hid the mistletoe." He laughed.