couch.doc McCoy Stays

"Sure, Jim, whatever you say. You ok here? You want me to sleep on the couch?"

"Yeah, sure, you might as well stay, but the guestroom's more comfortable. I think it's pretty clean..."

Clean, McCoy knew, since Spock had finally moved out, after he and his bondmate had agreed there was no point in his staying, even in the guestroom. Silently the doctor followed his friend down the hall. Kirk found some spare sheets and a blanket, and watched while McCoy made up the bed with medical speed and efficiency.

McCoy turned and clapped his friend on the back. "Well, g'night, then, Jim. I'll turn in. My last chance to sleep on a real bed for a while. You should get some sleep too, y'know. El Capitan won't be impressed by your rank or your age."

"Tell me something I don't know," replied Kirk. He left the room with a backward wave.

He returned to the living room to pour another shot. He walked back to his study, next to McCoy's room. At least he could get a little paperwork done, the paperwork that inevitably went with having a ship in spacedock. Spaceflight for four centuries, and they still hadn't conquered paperwork. Goddamn.

He sat at his desk and ran his fingers along the smooth wood. A small indulgence, a contrast to the plastico-smooth finish everything had on the Enterprise. How he loved her, but how he craved change--something more connected to the real world. Just every now and then. Like Bones' dawn and dusk.

Kirk flicked on his desk lamp and began speaking. "Ship's log, spacedock, stardate, belay that order." He sat for a moment, considering, then spoke again.

"Personal log, stardate eighty-four-oh-two point two. Dinner tonight with Bones. He proposes a transfer, either me or Spock. I can't stomach it..."

He fell silent, staring out the window. The very apartment was a reproach to him. All the windows on the north side had a direct view of the Promenade, the path he and Spock had followed absent-mindedly when they had returned from fighting with--working with?--Veejur.

What a trip that had been. First, Spock magically appearing on the bridge, surly and short-spoken, stalking around the ship like an angry coat- hanger. He had felt a surging anticipation at Spock's return, which had quickly been replaced by subdued depression at his First Officer's hostile attitude.

Then Veejur driving all thoughts of Spock out of his head. Struggling to keep the ship, but losing Ilia, and Decker. Rescuing Spock from death in an enviro suit. Spock crying on the bridge. Spock crying. The first crack in the wall, he hardly dared hope. Then Spock grasping his hand in Sickbay, trying to share his radical discovery that logic by itself wasn't enough.

Fast forward, the ship into space dock, the crew leaving the ship, Spock taking a casual turn with him in the soft salt air, along the Promenade that ringed San Francisco Bay. Spock approaching him, Spock himself. How his heart had raced when Spock had stopped talking and quietly slid a hand behind his neck, pulling him close.

Well. No point in dwelling. That evening was in the past, his marriage was a thing of the past also, and he might as well get on with the business of the rest of his life. He sipped at his drink as he mindlessly manipulated papers and computer files. After a bit he leaned his head back and studied the ceiling. Just for a moment he closed his eyes. The warm swell of sleep washed over him like a tide.

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He awoke with a start, feeling hands on his shoulders, knowing hands. Hands that could sense his pain. But out of the corner of his eye he saw that the skin was pinkish, not green. Damn. Kirk shook his head a little to clear away the sleep and the dream he'd been having. The dream that couldn't be, anymore.

McCoy began to move his fingers across the big muscles in his friend's back. He silently helped Kirk lean forward, exposing more of the captain's back. The doctor kneaded, and pressed, found pressure points, knots in the muscles, pain in the body and the mind.

The knowing fingers travelled gracefully, locating the angles of the shoulder muscles and the tense fibers that corded along the captain's neck toward his skull. Kirk could feel his friend's fingers split into a V that divided either side of a muscle. Bones' fingers radiated warmth, right through the old shirt Kirk had donned earlier. Such warm fingers, responsive, alive, caressing him gently...

// hasn't felt like this since the last time that Spock... // Kirk blinked hard to remove the image. He shifted a little in his chair, and McCoy interpreted the movement as a sign he should stop.

Kirk sat up and turned to smile at his companion. "Thanks, Bones, that was good. It's been a long time ... since anyone..."

"No problem, Jim-boy. But your body will be in better shape for this tom-fool climb you're so keen on if you sleep in a bed instead of at your desk. I knew you'd come in here and fall asleep. It pays for a doctor to know his patients..."

Ruefully the captain grinned, and scraped his chair back as he stood. "Right, gotcha, it's bed for me. I know how you like to start your travels early in the day."

McCoy hesitated, one hand reaching for Kirk's shoulder. Tentatively, swiftly, he ran a palm up the outside of Kirk's arm, then slid it behind Kirk's neck and drew him forward. "Captain. Perhaps if I were to ... If you were to allow me..."

"Let you what?" Kirk moved backward with a jerk, surprised and puzzled.

McCoy drew himself up straight and his hand fell to his side. In a deeper, rougher voice he said, "Nothing, Captain. I apologize most sincerely."

"What's with this 'captain' stuff?"

Sheepishly the physician hung his head and turned away from his friend. "Sorry, Jim, I dunno what came over me. Some kinda fit... G'night."

"Goodnight, Bones, sleep tight."

Kirk flicked the lights off. The two padded down the hall, separating at the last pair of rooms.

They say goodnight more quickly -- or -- less quickly

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