Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction, written purely for fun.

Author's Notes: I like this world but not sure I can write in it. The usual beta goddess: regan_v

Jim is equal parts sass and smarts. Most people just see the sass. That's cool.

It suits him just fine to let people underestimate him. While leering at the closest cleavage or calculating how to get out of class ten minutes early so that he can down his first—but not last—margarita of the weekend, he's damn aware of what goes down all around him. Took him nearly going over that cliff (crap, did he get beaten to within an inch of his life for that stunt) and a few punches to the jaw to figure it out, but knowing the lay of the land means chances are you'll pull the shy chick who doesn't say much, but has a really nice way of running her tongue along her lower lip—and, as it turns out, other body parts as well. Or see in hand-to-hand that cadet who's got forty pounds on you might well have a hell of an advantage in terms of heft, but he always leads with his right. So you'd better sock him with all you've got from the left. The harder they come, the harder they fall.

Stuff like that.

Even the people who like him can't deny that Jim's one cocky motherfucker. He doesn't deny it. Pretty much all his waking hours are spent happily putting the cock in cocky. The people who don't like him think he's an arrogant asshole (sometimes), reckless (hell, yeah), and due for a big fall. While he might admit to the rest, he's not anticipating that fall. Not anytime soon. Because while he might be an arrogant, cocky, selfish jerk at times, he isn't stupid. Ninety-five percent of the time he's smart enough and blessed with an intuition that kicks ass, so he beats the odds. For the other five percent, he has Bones watching his back. And patching him up.

Jim meets Bones' ex-wife shortly after they start the Academy. Still mildly drunk from the previous night's encounter, Jim slips out of a room that is not his own, staggering down the hallway and using his fingers like Braille to check out the door numbers; he'd been drinking zombies all night and his eyes aren't focusing real well. He'd lost his shirt at some point during the evening, so in addition to being half-blind, he is currently freezing because, Christ, San Francisco in July.

He turns a corner and runs right into her. Papers go flying. He apologizes profusely, trying to round up whatever paper he can while working the charm at the same time. Although he doesn't get a great look at her before they are both on their knees scrambling to pick up her documents, he knows that she's blond, has tanned knees attached to slender ankles, a happening ass, and a rack not to be believed. Before straightening up, he dials up winning James T. Kirk smile number four, because his eyes might not be focusing very well, but his lips work fine. Her perfume is heavy and sharp and it's giving him a hard on.

The words, "I'm Jim Kirk and you're?" are barely out of his mouth when she smiles like she knows him. She holds out her hand for him to shake and says, "Jim. Nice to meet you. Len's told me all about you. I'm Jocelyn."

He gives her hand the briefest of touches, like her fingertips are made of lava, and just like that Jim is sober so fast that he has to will the shakes at bay. Her accent is one hundred percent Southern; his name comes out as Jee-um.

"Yeah." He doesn't say it so that he's overtly rude, but she gets the hint. Her eyes narrow just enough to let him know that she's heard the edge in his voice.

Not that Jim's given any thought about this, but now that she's here, right in front of him, it doesn't surprise him that she's one of those tiny blondes with a waist the circumference of man's wrist and overblown tits. Bones has an overly active protective streak that with Jim manifests itself in non-stop nagging and bitching, but with her? Jim's known a few men like Bones. Men who have a jones for tiny women. Maybe it's the Southern thing. Maybe it's the blonde thing. Not that Jim gets this, because fuck type. Jim isn't picky at all. Tall, short, blonde, brunette, blue eyes, green eyes: he's pretty much an equal opportunity slut. Nevertheless, he can see these two together, Bones laying a hand on her shoulder as they walk down the street, opening doors for her, that sort of Old World crap that Jim can't blame on Bones' age because Bones is the type who would do shit like that, regardless of his age.

Her eyes are an impossible violet—contacts, Jim's sure—and she has a way of cocking her head to the side that is deferential and a smile that is anything but. Jim discovers much to his surprise that he has a "not type": calculating southern blondes with very white teeth and big knockers. Huh.

"Have fun last night?" she asks in a mocking tone, eyeing his chest.

He looks down; it's covered in hickeys.

"Yeah," he repeats and this time purposefully sounds nasty.

She raises one eyebrow, gives him a look he can't interpret, and walks off, her pert ass wiggling in an exaggerated sway as she walks down the hallway. She's putting on that show for him and it both angers him and excites him a little.

When he enters their room, the curtains are drawn tight, and Bones is pretending to be asleep with his back to the door. Bullshit. Jim knows he's not asleep because Bones snores and the room is dead silent. The cloying scent of fresh sex, like they did it on every available surface except his bed, is overwhelming. Jim slips under the covers. After about ten minutes he pretends to fall asleep, and a few minutes later he hears the hitching breath of someone crying and trying to be silent about it.

Jim keeps up the heavy breathing until Bones cries himself to sleep, and then spends the next two hours hating this woman until he, too, finally nods off. The last two words he thinks before he conks out are, "Fucking bitch."

Jim doesn't get up until three that afternoon and when he does, Bone is sitting in bed, cradling a bottle of Jack Daniels. It's more than one-third empty. Jim may be an asshole, but he's not a hypocritical asshole. He doesn't take the booze away, but opts for evasive action.

"You want to get some breakfast? I'm hungry," he says and pats his stomach.

"It's after three-yuh." Bones only has to lay eyes on a fifth of Jack and his accent gets so thick, Jim half expects to hear phantom fiddles playing My Old Kentucky Home in the background.

"So?" Jim counters, because there are plenty of places that serve breakfast all day.

Bones doesn't reply, just looks at him with despair so profound that it rattles Jim down to his core.

Jim's debating an alternative battle strategy—both of them need food in their systems or they'd start flirting with hypoglycemic shock—when Bones growls out, "Signed my divorced papers."

It's different from his usual impatient growl.More of a raspy growl, his vocal chords roughed up by the Jack.

Jim doesn't know how to respond, so he respond the only way he knows how. By being kind of a jerk.

"So, get a Bloody Mary with your eggs."

Bones laughs and sets the fifth down on the floor. As he grabs for his pants, he says in his typical exasperated huff, "You're a jackass."

He showers in record time, decides to bag the shave because, hey, Friday night, bitches, and is so hyped that he has to steel himself to take the time to swipe his pits with some deodorant. His skin is still slightly damp and thrumming with the promise of cold booze, smoking music, and women willing to match his testosterone high with an estrogen wallop of their own. Catapulting out the bathroom into their room he shouts, "Bones, you ready, old man?"

No Bones.

Jim doesn't think anything of it, because Bones might ostensibly be a cadet, but he gets called in for consults so much so that the term "cadet" is nothing more than a farce. Even that Vulcan with the ilithium rod up his ass treats him with a degree of respect notably lacking toward the other cadets. Especially Jim.

Anticipating that Bones would make his way down to the bar eventually, Jim is nearly running as he makes his way across campus to the hangar, humming that ancient oldie but goodie, Born To Be Wild when he sees Bone walking hand in hand with a kid. His kid, obviously. Even from the back Jim pegs her as half McCoy. Bones has a loose way of walking, like his hips are oiled up, and this girl has the same lope. She's wearing jeans and pink shirt. A matching pink bow perched on the top of her head holds back a bunch of long blonde hair that falls to her waist. Jim slows down and follows them from a distance; they walk for a long ways, Bones in a funny lurch trying to match her smaller steps while leaning over to hear what she's saying. They stop at the duck pond, and Bones hands the girl a bag of feed for the ducks.

Pretty much on sensory what-the-fuck—because it's one thing to see some photos on a dresser, but quite another to see the actual three-D version—Jim decides that a stealth maneuver is necessary; the copse of redwoods that backs up to the duck pond is made to order. By the time he's doubled back a ways and threaded his way through the trees, the two of them are sitting on a bench facing the water. It's pretty much a Hallmark card. Turned toward each other, Bones has an attentive tilt to his head, while the girl is looking up at him and talking a mile a minute. She's a miniature of her mother—beautiful—with more than a promise of being an absolute knock-out when she's grown-up. Even from this distance he can see that her eyes are that peculiar shade of violet. Her voice, high and piping, can probably be heard in Sausolito; Bones' replies and comments are nothing more than a rumble.

"Daddy, Grandma says I have to be polite. Fine. But I don't have to like him."

The rumble sounds reassuring and placating, but then Jim sees Bones' hand clutching the back of the bench. Even from this distance, the knuckles gleam white.

"Mama says I get to be a flower girl, and if I'm good and I don't trip and walk really slow, she'll buy me a pony!"

There's no mistaking the glee and satisfaction in her voice. Jim hadn't been that easy to bribe, but then again, no one had blown up this little girl's father. The knuckles tighten further, but whatever Bones says makes the girl erupt into a fit of giggles, and then the two of them start neighing like horses.

Jim can't listen to anymore, because the Bones he knows would sooner swallow a hypospray than neigh like a horse. Inexplicably, Jim wants Bones to neigh with him, or do something equally stupid or be that carefree. He feels something suddenly cramp in his lower back, so much so that he brings a hand round back to rub it away. Whoa, had he overdone it in combat training yesterday? Coming out of the copse, he runs into that new cadet with the orange eyes and the green hair.

"What you up to, Jim?" she asks in a chirpy voice.

"Taking a leak," he drawls. "Want to get trashed down at Hernando's? Two margaritas and you'll swear you're out in space."

She thrusts her tits out just a little and follows that up with a shy smile.

He leans in, far too closely, and says in her ear. "Are you an on-the-rocks or a blended sort of woman?" The giggle tells him all he needs to know.

Jim knows when the ex gets married a few months later because Bones doesn't show for Space Protocol class that morning. When Jim asks the teacher if Bones had been called out of class, the answer is no; he's called in sick. First of all, Bones never gets sick. Second, if Bones had had a Traformulan hatchet embedded in his brain, he still would have shown up for that class. He's the only line of defense between Jim attending or cutting Protocol, and Bones is determined that Jim's going to graduate. Because Jim cuts this class unless Bones is parked right next to him. Because Jim thinks the concept of space protocol is the biggest line of bullshit ever. It might have to do with his father getting killed by a Romulan psychopath

He checks their room first and no Bones. He hits all the cadet hangouts within a two-mile radius. Nada. No one's seen him. He then thinks, "If my heart were just crushed by a blonde wearing wedding heels and someone else's ring, where would I go?"

The nearest bar.

Which is not a cadet hangout. Because it's highly debatable whether they even wash their glasses between customers, and you only need to use their bathroom once before you vow never to repeat that experience again. Yeah, he's there. Parked on a stool, staring down at the bar top. Fortunately, he's not wearing his cadet uniform, because getting shit-faced in your uniform doesn't go over well with the brass. Unfortunately, he's wearing Jim's flip-flops, a tee-shirt and his boxers; he looks like he hauled himself out of bed, shoved his feet into the first pair of shoes he saw, grabbed his wallet, and made a beeline here. Given that it's only 1:20 in the afternoon and Bones was still in bed before Jim headed out the door for weird-ass Spock's eight a.m. seminar, he figures Bones has been basically mainlining the booze from about nine o'clock onwards.

"Bones?" Jim says it like this is a question. And it sort of is, because this is "another" Bones he doesn't know; beaten and so far beyond sad that there isn't even a word for it. Plus, really, really hammered. So hammered that when Bones looks up at the call of his name, he looks at Jim in surprise, like he doesn't know him.

"Get you back to the room, buddy?"

He still doesn't respond. Just stares at him.

Jim pays the tab, shoves Bones' wallet in his back pocket, orders the barkeep to call a helicab, hauls Bones over his shoulder when he hears it hovering outside, and gets him in the back seat without Bones hurling, which Jim considers a minor miracle. Classes are in full swing, so Jim's able to get Bones into their room with no one seeing them. Not that people haven't seen Jim trashed to the eyeballs a number of times. And not that Bones doesn't get drunk. But there are some people who you really don't care that they get drunk; it's not going to affect your low opinion of them anyway (people like Jim). And then there are people like Bones, who earn people's respect the hard way—by being a totally stand-up guy—and his peers didn't need to see him dead drunk and broken. All that hauling around did a number on Bones' stomach, so Jim's not surprised when he starts making gagging noises. He gets him to the john in time and holds him steady, thinking it's something of a blessing that Bones is emptying all that second-rate hooch out of his stomach. When he's finished with the dry heaves, Jim sits him up right on toilet seat, bathes his hands and mouth with a warm, wet washcloth, brushes his teeth for him (which is really weird), and gets him into bed.

What's really freaking Jim out here is that Bones isn't talking. He's still looking at Jim with this puzzled twist to his mouth. Closing the curtains so that the room's dark, he turns off all devices so that Bones can sleep it off without getting disturbed, and then calls out before he leaves, "Hey, buddy. Gonna let you sleep it off, okay?"

When Bones doesn't reply, doesn't even so much as move a hand, Jim gets worried and is over at Bones' bedside in a flash. "Hey," he says with a hand to Bones' forehead and if it's clammy or too warm, he's calling the—

Bones grabs his wrist with a strength that a blind drunk man shouldn't have and pulls him down until Jim's sitting on the bed. Jim goes still. He's not sure what's coming down here. Bones is spooked and spooky. Is he going to be thanked or punched?

Finally Bones says something, but it's said in the faintest of whispers and half slurred.

"What?" Jim whispers back.

And Bones makes that sound again; it starts with an esse and sounds like… Oh fuck. It's her name. Whoa. The hand that keeps him tethered to the bed hasn't moved, still has him in this tight grip, but Bones' other hand begins stroking his cheek. Bones has patched him up a number of times, and those big, competent hands are never anything but gentle, but this is different.

This is touching with reverence.

Bones' thumb traces the curve of his cheekbone. The underside of his chin. Swipes his brows and then follows the bridge of his nose. Jim is and isn't surprised when that thumb slides along his bottom lip and then his top.

"So beautiful," Bones whispers and lets go of Jim's wrist to bring his now free hand to the back of Jim's neck and pulls him down.

Jim has half a second to decide whether he wants this or not. He already knows this is a damn stupid idea, and Bones is clearly not thinking straight and maybe the booze has, like, pickled his brain, because Jim's never gotten any sort of sexual vibe from him before, and Jim's pretty good at reading sexual vibes. Those classic all-American good looks that make up his genetic lottery get his ass pinched on a regular basis, and it's not all girls. A guy checking out his stuff doesn't bother him—a hand on your ass is just a hand—but he's never felt like responding to a come-on from another guy before and he's just not— Whoa.

Too late. Bones' mouth is on his. A tentative unsure mouth. A mouth asking for an invitation, a response. Jim opens his mouth to say something, Christ knows what, but to stop what is turning to be the mind fuck of the century, and Jim feels rather than hears the whimper as Bones laps into his mouth with an eager tongue.

Jim's sex life is already legendary in Starfleet gossip circles, and he hasn't even graduated from the Academy yet. This? This is a one eighty from what he's ever experienced. Jeez, do they do it differently in the South? Bones' hands are slow but sure, racheting things up in torturous increments. At some point they both lose their clothes but he doesn't quite remember how, because Bones has got a mouth on him that seems to be kissing his neck, mouth, and nipples simultaneously.

Bones might be having some sort of ex-wife-wedding-bell-blues psychotic break, but Jim's not. As much as he's obviously just said adios, muchacho, to his straight, he's not really sure that Bones has—despite evidence to the contrary—so Jim keeps his hands fairly neutral. Even that, apparently, is something of a sliding scale, because last night he would have pegged cupping Bones' face in both of his hands while Bones kissed the ever-loving daylights out of him as being pretty damn gay. Right now, neutral was not grabbing Bones' dick.

He gives it up, letting Bones set the pace, man-handle him any way he wants, and what Bones wants is the two of them on their sides, facing each other, Jim cupping Bones' face, and Bones with a hell of a grip on Jim's ass. Jim thinks that he is just going to come like this, humping against each other, Bones kissing him stupid, those hands clutching both of cheeks of his ass, their erections pressing against each other's stomachs.

This is what it feels like to be sucked dry by a vampire he says to himself, giving his mouth up for the taking yet again. Even as it becomes as hot and heavy as Jim's ever experienced, both of them grunting like animals, the reverence hovers in the background, as a particularly punishing kiss ends with Bones kissing his forehead. These little kisses leave Jim shattered, and he finds himself fighting back tears; part frustration, and partly something completely unnamable.

Suddenly, Bones flips him over and Jim doesn't even think about it. He spreads his legs and waits. But there must be a small het part of Bones' mind that's still operating on a primal level, something that tells him, hey, this is a fantasy and you do not want to poke your dick in a guy's ass, because Bone uses both hands to shoves Jim's legs together and then begins humping into the crease where the top of Jim's thighs meet his ass.

It doesn't take long. Hot comes spills between his legs as Bones groans in his ear, the once-measured thrusting now a haphazard rhythm. After the heavy panting dies down, Bones scrambles off of him, pulls Jim toward him, curls up against him, groin to ass, and searches for Jim's hand. When he finds it, Bones says very clearly, "Jo," and then falls asleep.

Jim waits fifteen minutes, takes another ten minutes to extract himself from the bed so he won't wake up Bones, and by then his erection has faded. He pulls on some shorts, a tee-shirt, grabs his running shoes, and runs across the length of the Golden Gate Bridge and back. The next day he has a hellacious rash between his legs where come and sweat chafed against his skin.

They never mention what happened, and Jim comes to the conclusion that Bones doesn't remember a thing.

Missions are usually five years in duration. To stop the space crazy and overhaul the ship in port, Starfleet has mandatory two-week shore leave every year. Jim spends a day with his mother, a week with Pike and his wife, and then heads for big cities like Rio or Tokyo where he lets loose. He knows that Starfleet puts handlers on him, because dicey situations never get too dicey, and it amuses him to think that they have complete confidence that he can defeat whatever "bad" space throws at him, but a foursome in the bathroom of a bar on Decatur Street not so much.

After four years of this, he and Bones have their routine. They come back two days early. Jim packs a couple of fifths of Jack in his overnight, meets Bones in San Francisco, they are debriefed before they board the ship, they head for Jim's quarters, no detours, and tie one on.

Bones spends his entire leave minus two days visiting his daughter. Between leaves, he gets weekly transmission signals from Earth that Jim knows are from her. Jim knows because he'd asked Uhura once if Bones was in contact with anyone from Earth, and every Saturday morning—assuming they aren't in battle or captured by testy aliens—there is a signal free for Bones to talk to his kid. Everyone seems to know this but Jim, and he has an uncharacteristic temper tantrum in front of Uhura and Spock about whether or not he's the captain of this ship. When they nod, he screams, "Okay, then!" and stomps off.

They are two days away from beginning year five. Per tradition, they are in Jim's quarters, sprawled out on opposite sides of the bed—Jim at the head, Bones more or less at the foot—the distance between them carefully calculated so that they don't have to reach too far one way or the other in order to pass the bottle back and forth. Jim accepts that the first hour will be devoted to whatever cute Joanna is up to now, and that the second hour will be devoted to Bone's bitching about budget cuts and how Starfleet expects him to do surgery with outdated, twentieth-century equipment, and how space is a dangerous and horrible place, and how he's sure they'll all be dead by Christmas. Bones is thirty minutes into his we-are-so-fucked spiel when Jim, who is poised to take a swig from the bottle, sees red, and hurls it against the opposite wall instead.

Christ knows why he blows up. Maybe because his leave sucked stinky donkey balls. Rio was dull, so he hopped a transporter to Rome, where he's never had a bad time in his life, and, wow, there's always a first time for everything. He hits London, then New York, and then Acapulco, and it's all shit.

"Why? Why, Bones? Why in the fuck are you here? Why do I hear this speech every other day? It's not like this is a surprise anymore, and if—"

Jim stops. Bones' face has lost the Starfleet-are-a-bunch-of-idiots frown and now has tightened up into that soul-crushing despair that Jim hasn't seen in a long time. And Jim gets it. If Bones isn't up in space, a zillion light years away from her, he's not going to make it. He's out here even if it means seeing his daughter only once a year, cheating death other week, putting the half-dead back together, and mourning those he can't save.

Jim holds both hands up in defeat and mumbles, "Sorry."

"You don't know what it's like to love someone so much that it's like a cancer!" Bones shouts, and then turns his head so Jim can't see his face. They sit there for a minute, the word "cancer" metaphorically echoing in the room. When he speaks again, his head is still turned to the side, but his voice is back to its usual grousing drawl. "A pointless love that just guts you. That leaves you half the person you're meant to me. That makes you do humiliating things that are beneath you. And you know all this and you're powerless."

Jim can go two ways with this. He can either beat Bones to a pulp or he can grab him and kiss him.

Neither will get him what he wants. He opts for evasive action.

"The other fifth is in my overnight. Hand it to me, will you?"