couchno.htm McCoy Stays, take two

"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 from the bottle. Kirk filled his glass and then turned toward 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 eighty-four . . . no, 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, stared 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 He had felt a surging anticipation at Spock's return, which had quickly been replaced by subdued depression at his First Officer's hostile attitude.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 making an approach, making the offer of a lifetime.

As Kirk's mind ran backward into the past his fingers almost automatically keyed a file, one he seldom let himself play. It was from an old mini-disk he'd found in one of the gadgets in his collection, when they began using light spots instead of magnetic media. . . .

so baby what's the story,
did you find another man?
is it easy to sleep in the bed that we made?
when you don't look back I guess the feelings start to fade away...

I used to feel your fire
but now it's cold inside . . .

James Kirk gently pressed his palms against his eyes as the music swarmed around him.

tell me what it takes to let you go
tell me how the pain's supposed to go
tell me how it is that you can sleep in the night
without thinking you lost everything that was good
in your life to the toss of the dice
tell me what it takes to let you go

The singer's raspy voice slid up into the crescendo, making the table throb even at the fairly low volume. He sounded agonized, defeated, despairing--all the things that Kirk had dragged himself through for months. It was self-indulgent to let another sing his pain instead of facing it directly, but the voice carried emotional resonances he couldn't match.

tell me that you're happy that you're on your own
tell me that it's better when you're all alone
tell me that your body doesn't miss my touch
tell me that my lovin' didn't mean that much
tell me you were lyin' when you were cryin' for me ...

Well. No point in dwelling. That evening on the Promenade was far 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 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 began to wash over him like a tide, drifting on the thump of the bass line from the speakers.

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"Jim? You ok? The music woke me and ... " He trailed off uncertainly.

Kirk jerked himself up and glared at the chronometer on his desk. He made a grunt of annoyance. "Sorry to bother you, Bones. I should..."

"You should be asleep. You'll 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. "

Ruefully the captain grinned. He scraped his chair back as he stood. "Right, gotcha, it's bed for me, and the trip for us both tomorrow."

McCoy began to speak, hesitated, took a step forward, began again. He bridged his fingers together in front of his stomach. "Ah, Captain, perhaps if I were to ... If you were to allow me ..."

"Let you what?" Kirk moved backward a little awkwardly, eyeing the two fingers McCoy was now stretching forward toward him.

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."

"Bones, 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."

Kirk flicked the lights off. The two men padded down the hall.

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

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