Sky (skyblue_reverie) wrote,

Trek Fic: Walked On a Mile Or So, Pike/McCoy, R

Title: Walked On a Mile Or So (Part 33 of To Talk of Many Things)
Authors: mga1999 and skyblue_reverie
Fandom & Pairing: Star Trek Reboot (aka AOS, ST XI, etc.), Pike/McCoy
Rating: R-ish
Spoilers: None
Warnings: None
Word Count: Around 9500 (!)
Summary: The correspondence and personal journals of Christopher Pike and Leonard McCoy. Picks up on the same day as the last part, and covers some of the same events.
A/N: From skyblue_reverie: OMG WITH THIS SECTION WE BROKE 200,000 WORDS. Wow. Dude. From mga1999: Look, I'm bringing you the gift of a long chapter on my birthday! Isn't it supposed to be the other way around? Must be the senility kicking in.

Click on the gorgeous banner by the awesome fanarts_series for series masterlist with links to all prior parts:

Personal Journal of Leonard H. McCoy

Friday 2260.187

Second entry in one day. That must be some kinda record for me. I think I am turning into a teenage girl. "Dear diary, my boyfriend and my best friend hate each other, what am I going to do???" Good lord, Leonard, get a grip.

They don't actually hate each other... I hope. Chris is jealous as all hell of Jim, and Jim's more'n a little jealous of Chris too, and hurt at Chris's rejection, not that he'd ever admit any such thing. I kind of want to throttle both of them... or give them a hug. I can't decide which. Maybe both. I think what I really need to do is stick them in a room together and force them to actually talk to each other. In fact, I think I'll do that. Saturday afternoon when we get back to the city, I'm going to make Jim come into the apartment and sit down with Chris and I'll make myself scarce. Better warn them both ahead of time because neither of them is exactly fond of surprises. But I'll make it clear that this is not an optional event, and that they damn well will be talking or there'll be hell to pay.

Today with Jim was... well, it was good. We're making progress, anyway. It was strange and kind of awkward at first. It's like we've lost our rhythm with each other. We used to just click, conversation flowed naturally, each of us could read the other's cues and know what the other was going to say or do before he even did it. But now, our conversation is full of false starts and talking at the same time and "no, you go first"s and it's downright depressing. Still, I think we're getting a little better, finding our way back, and at least we're talking again. Sometimes baby steps are all you can ask for.

We spent a lot of the day walking through the woods here. Nothing strenuous -- Jim's not up for that, and he knows it, which has gotta be a first. We were just rambling around, breathing fresh air and looking at the trees and sky. I'm going to miss that when we're back in that flying tin can. And Jim thinks better on his feet, and finds it easier to talk when he's on the move. He feels less trapped, or something. Anyway, we talked about a lot of stuff that's been on our minds over these last few months when we weren't really communicating.

I've gotta say, I feel like shit that Jim was going through hell and I didn't figure it out and I didn't help him. I was too absorbed in my own crap with Chris, and I let Jim push me away far too easily. I won't make that mistake again.

We talked a little about that. I told him that if he ever pulled a stunt like trying to get me transferred off the Enterprise again, I'd kick his ass to the neutral zone and back. He smirked and said he'd like to see me try it, but he got the message.

He told me he was ready to respond to my declaration that I was sticking around for at least eight years, if he had permission to speak now. I allowed that he did, and he said that in that case, he graciously accepted my offer of indentured servitude. I said "indentured servitude, my ass" and he said he'd leave that part to Chris. Smartass. I shoved him on the shoulder and he shoved me back, and somehow it ended up with us wrestling right on the trail, in the dirt and dead leaves. By the time we stopped we were both laughing so hard we could barely breathe. It felt really good.

We headed back to the cabin to clean up, and I checked my comm while Jim was in the shower. I'd gotten a note from Chris saying that he'd been wrong, Jim wasn't lying about what Elliott said, but that Elliott thought Jim was "poison" and he agreed. I swear I could feel the steam shooting out of my ears. I nearly threw my comm unit against the wall. Jim was getting out of the shower just then and he asked what was wrong, but I didn't want to tell him. Whatever Chris thinks right now, Jim loves him and would never intentionally hurt him, and I can't bring myself to hurt Jim even more by telling him what Chris thinks of him. Jim got quiet, though, and then he asked me, "Chris thinks I'm lying, doesn't he?" Fuck. What could I say? I didn't want to admit it, but I sure as hell wasn't going to lie to Jim. There's been enough of that shit going around. So I told him that yeah, Chris had doubted his version, thought maybe he had "misinterpreted" what happened, but that he'd talked to Elliott and she'd confirmed Jim's story.

God damn it. He looked so hurt, but not at all surprised. The way he looks whenever his mother lets him down, which is all the damn time. I could kick them, Chris and Mrs. Kirk both. Jim wants their love and approval so desperately, and all he gets for his troubles is a repeated slap in the face. I can't offer him what he needs from them -- parental love and affection. I'm his friend, but I can't be his father figure too. Chris can, and the fact that he's letting his goddamn jealousy get the better of him purely pisses me off, for Jim's sake rather than for my own.

Anyway, I didn't want Jim to get even a hint of Chris's latest crap, calling Jim "poison," so I managed to calm myself down. I wrote back to Chris, and I'm amazed that I managed to control my temper. It was touch and go.

I know Chris is having a hard time with this. And I know he's trying, but my ring's still that topaz color that I'm guessing is jealousy. I wish there was something I could do to help, but I can't think of a damn thing. Well... maybe one thing. I know he's lonely tonight. Truth be told, so am I. God help me, but I miss him already, miss sleeping next to him. And since we're not millions of light years apart, I can actually do something about it.

I've already sedated Jim for the night - he actually let me, which was a shock, but he said he needs to get some real sleep if he's going to be ready for our departure so he let me give him a hypo. Will wonders never cease. Anyway, he's down for the count. No way he's waking up before 0900, even with the way his crazy system metabolizes drugs. But just in case... I think I'll leave him a note, then walk over to the beaming site and go pay Chris a visit. He's on the Exeter tonight, and I know he wanted to sleep with me in his quarters there before the Enterprise leaves, so this seems like a good opportunity. I doubt we'll get up to anything X-rated, but just holding him is sounding pretty appealing right now.

Personal Journal of Christopher R. Pike

Saturday 2260.188

Well, I had a nice surprise last night. I was working at my desk in my quarters when my door chimed. I figured it was my chief engineer as we had been looking at mission plans and discussing the last of the repairs that were completed today on the Exeter off and on all evening. I could not have been more surprised after I said 'it's open' to look up and see Len walking in.

The first words out of my mouth were "Something wrong?" and he just smiled. He shook his head and replied, "Leave it to you to assume something's wrong. Can't I just surprise you?" I stood as he made his way to my desk and then I gave him the kiss I should have given him when he left on Wednesday. God, he was a sight for sore eyes, even if it had only been two days.

He told me to keep working, and he sat on the couch with a PADD he brought. He explained to me that Jim was sedated, and that he didn't want to really talk about Jim or the clusterfuck I've created. I have to say I was immensely relieved. I'll admit, I'm a little worried that he had to sedate Jim, but I didn't press Len for details. As weary as Jim looked on vidcomm, I suspect the last two days haven't been easy for him even before I made it worse.

For the next hour, I finished up my work, as he did some of his. We were perfectly content, the disaster of the last couple of days and our 'fight' not weighing us down. I had to take one final trip to engineering to handprint lock some parameters on the warp core, and when I came back Len was curled up on my bed in a pair of my sweatpants with his PADD. God, he was a beautiful sight there.

I got ready for bed and crawled in next to him. He put the PADD down and pulled me into his arms. I let out a breath and sigh that I must have been holding in since he left on Wednesday. We turned on our sides, and kissed languidly, running our hands up and down each other's backs. Honestly, I was too tired to get up to anything too strenuous, and I could tell he was too. Eventually, kissing wasn't enough, and he reached down and wrapped his hand -- his large beautiful surgeon's hand -- around both of us and brought us both off as we kissed, our legs entangled. I slept soundly -- Actually both of us did, until my alarm went off at 0530, much to Len's loudly expressed dismay.

I shut him up by rolling on top of him and kissing him, which led to me fucking him hard, and then sucking him off. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to linger in bed. We took a quick shower, groping each other way more than two men our age should. Then I had to bid him farewell in the transporter room on my way to a meeting with Commander Sato. I think I surprised the hell out of him kissing him thoroughly in front of the engineers working in the transporter room. Surprised myself too, and yes, it did make me a bit uncomfortable, but I know I need to get over that. The smile on his face was worth it.

We didn't talk about the last couple of days. We knew we both needed a respite from all that. As we were getting dressed, Len did tell me that he was bringing Jim back to our apartment this afternoon. That we were all going to talk, Jim and I especially. I opened my mouth to say something and he put his finger over it. For once, I actually shut my mouth, not wanting to start a fight with him right before he left. I'm not sure what I could have said to get out of that anyway.

It's lunchtime now, and I have a half-eaten sandwich sitting next to me. I don't have much of an appetite right now. My stomach has been in knots ever since Len told me he was bringing Jim home. I will admit, I'm more than nervous about going home in a few hours and what will happen when we talk. I have half a notion to invent some reason that would keep me up here. I know that would be the straw that broke the camel's back with Len though. So I'm going to simply hope that I don't say anything that gets me in more trouble than I already am.

If it doesn't go well, at least I'll be out in deep space for six months. God, keep me from saying something stupid.

Personal Journal of Christopher R. Pike

Saturday 2260.188

Well, I guess that could have gone worse. Jim just left, bottle of wine in hand, and I still have thirty minutes left before Len returns. I hope Len didn't expect Jim to still be here. I know he said we all needed to talk, but Jim was out the door pretty quickly. I don't blame him.

I was a nervous wreck when Len came home with him. I was finishing up prepping for our dinner when they arrived. We made small talk while I was finishing breaking the asparagus spears. Len went in to change and came out in workout clothes and I swear my stomach turned into one giant knot. He motioned us both into the living room and stood as Jim and I settled in the arm chairs in the corner library.

He told us, "Look, I love you both, but this crap has to stop." He was looking directly at me when he spoke and all I could do was nod, guilty as charged. "Jim and I have talked, and we're good. We're more than good." Yes, the twinge of jealousy sparked at that statement, but I swallowed it down. "I'm going to the gym for an hour, and you two are going to talk and work out your goddamn shit or I'm going to work it out for you and you won't like it." With that, he bent down and gave me a kiss and then squeezed Jim's shoulder and he was gone.

There was complete silence once he left. We were both sitting there across from each other, fumbling over what to say. I actually fucking asked him about the weather. I'm not kidding.

Finally, Jim stood up and started pacing. "Fuck, Chris. This is ridiculous. We're both highly skilled diplomats. We can bring peace to warring worlds, you especially, but we can't even talk to each other anymore. We're better than this. We're supposed to be grown men. I think it's time we both start acting like it for Bones' sake."

I opened my mouth to reply, and was shocked when nothing came out. The kid was absolutely right. That was quite a humbling moment for me, but obviously warranted. Jim walked over and sat down on the ottoman in front of me and started talking, his hands clasped, head down, his eyes occasionally looking up to meet mine. He apologized for any part he's played in our estrangement. He admitted that he has had a hard time dealing with Bones having me in his life too. That surprised me, but I guess it shouldn't have. Of course, then I felt even worse about my behavior since he's obviously done a much better job of controlling his feelings -- his own jealousy. I'll admit, it helped knowing he felt that way.

Then he said it was hard for him to realize that I wasn't perfect. I sat back in my chair at that in a little bit of shock. He told me that he idealized me all through the Academy and early into his first tour. He'd studied everything I'd ever done: mission reports, tactical papers, and he said my dissertation on the Kelvin helped him understand a lot more about the sacrifice his father really made. He told himself if he could be half the Captain I had been, then he figured his father would be proud, that I'd be proud. I'll admit, I nearly choked up at that.

He said when things progressed with Len and I and -- Well, when there were bumps and I did the first of many stupid things, he said it hit him pretty hard. He couldn't believe I would treat Bones that way. That Bones deserved better and I knew it. And then when I was not just physically, but mentally falling apart for awhile -- I guess the illusion was fully shattered.

He said that was hard for him, yet also unfair that he put me up on a pedestal like that in the first place. He told me he was sorry, and that he can't help how protective he is about Bones. When he told me, "He's all I have," in a voice so soft, so broken -- it was all I could do not to cry. He did cry eventually, as he talked more, and again, that was more humbling to me than words could ever be. Unlike me, he's not afraid to show emotion when it's warranted. It also reminded me, that despite his bravado, despite the commendations and accolades, he will -- he still is in some ways a lost little boy who's never had anyone in his life that he could depend on, or that didn't leave him in some way. Until Len. And then my irrational jealousy took Len away from him too.

When he was finally done talking, and emotionally spent, he got up to move back to his chair and I grabbed his arm and pulled him back down. I wasn't sure if he would let me, and I certainly didn't deserve for him to allow me, but I pulled him into an embrace. He was a little stiff at first, but then he relaxed and so did I. All I could manage to mumble at that point was 'I'm sorry' over and over again. After a minute or so, it wasn't very long, he pulled back, wiped his eyes and stood up taking a deep breath. He moved back to his chair, and fell into it, looking so exhausted that -- Well, I knew I was mostly responsible and truthfully, it broke my fucking heart. I did this to him. I can't even begin to imagine what he's gone through the last four months, and all the fear he's had since Len and I started seeing each other. Fuck.

I didn't know what to say, so I took a deep breath and somehow reached into myself and found something or someone that I didn't know existed. I don't even remember exactly what I said right now, it's somewhat a blur. I told him again and again that I was sorry. That I never intended for this to happen. I apologized for accusing him of lying. I told him I was never a jealous person before I met Len. That I didn't know why I felt that way. He reminded me that he wouldn't ever come between Len and I, and that was probably the toughest thing to swallow, because it was completely true and I knew it. Yet, I didn't know if I could honestly say the same thing. I told him I didn't want to feel like that, and he looked at me with his serious, no-bullshit look, and said, "Then don't."

He told me the worst part about this was the fact that I obviously believed that he would try to take Len away from me. That I somehow thought that he would cause Len to cheat on me. He reiterated the fact that he likes women, and only women. Then he said something along the same lines that Len told me some time ago that sure, maybe there was a moment long ago at the Academy that things might have turned a different direction for them, but he knew he wouldn't ever be able to give Bones what he needed in that respect. They never talked about it, but they both knew that moment had come and gone, neither of them willing to risk what they had. He only considered it in the first place because he wanted Bones to be happy. He told me he was actually relieved when things became serious between Len and I. He saw how happy Len was, and that was all that mattered to him.

Fuck if I didn't feel about two feet tall after all that. He's half my age and despite having no role models, or anyone in his life, for that matter, he's still twice the man I could ever aspire to be. He's far from perfect, and I know that, but the kid is remarkably 'together' for someone who truly should be the most completely fucked up person in the universe for all he's been through in his life. I can only imagine what he'd be if he'd only had nurturing, love, and stability from the beginning, instead of what Len has been able to give him for the last five years. The Jim Kirk I found in Iowa, the Jim Kirk who Len smuggled onto the Enterprise, and the Jim Kirk that sat before me -- He's grown so much, and while I know a lot of it comes from his inner drive and determination, it was Len that kept him balanced, kept him tethered -- and believed in him when no one ever had. Sure, maybe I played some part in his growth at the Academy, but I was busy, and didn't spend nearly as much time with him as I should have. Len is who helped mold what he's become, what he will become. And fuck me for almost taking that away from him.

There wasn't really a lot for me to say, honestly. What could I say? The rest I need to prove to him, and to Len. I told Jim that, and I told him I was grateful that he was even giving me a chance. I have a feeling he's only doing it for Len -- If it were up to him, I think he'd just as well jettison me out a torpedo tube. I know it's not going to be easy, and I can see that his trust in me is completely gone. That hurts more than I thought it would, but I deserve it. I brought this on myself.

There is a little more, but I'm -- dammit, I only have two days left with Len. Jim was notified this morning that the Excalibur completed the treaty and the Enterprise will leave for the neutral zone at 1700 on Monday. Another humbling thing is that while I'm still finishing my work for the Exeter, Jim had his all done before he left on shore leave. Granted, most of my time has been spent in Admirals' meetings and other Starfleet bullshit he's not privy to, but still. He's just that good. That efficient. And yes, I'm jealous of that too. But there is another part of me that is exceptionally proud of him, and I need to somehow reach down, and find that more often. Most of all, I need to show him that.

Most of all, next time I'm feeling irrationally jealous, I'm going to think of Jim, sitting in that chair across from me, looking so small, so worn out -- so utterly spent, and if I still feel that way -- then I deserve nothing more than to lose them both.

Personal Journal of Leonard H. McCoy

Saturday 2260.188

Chris is cleaning up dinner. He insisted that I relax while he did it. Obviously he's still feeling guilty and trying to compensate for it, and if it helps him, I'll go along with it. It's been a strange day. Packing up and heading home with Jim felt -- well, it felt good. It feels like we're back to our usual ways with each other, teasing but with actual affection behind it. It's a goddamn relief; it's like I've put down a heavy weight that I didn't even realize I was carrying. I need Jim in my life, as much as I need Chris, and it's been hell not knowing if he was going to pull away completely. But at least for now, that fear's been laid to rest.

Things with Chris, on the other hand, feel a bit tenuous. Why does it have to be a damn see-saw -- when things are good with one of them, they're crap with the other? Not that things with Chris are bad, exactly. He's just... subdued, which is so un-Chris-like that it worries me a little.

He was a ball of nerves when I came home with Jim. Savagely snapping the asparagus spears like they'd personally done him wrong. After I said hello, I changed into my gym clothes, sat them both down, made a little speech about how they'd better work things out, and then took off. I spent the next hour beating up the sandbag at the gym. It's not my usual workout, but it felt pretty good. I needed it.

When I got home, Jim was gone, and Chris was still sitting in the same armchair, staring at the wall. He looked -- well, he looked gutted. I sat on the ottoman across from him and asked if he was okay, and he flinched. Then he pulled me onto the armchair with him, straddling his lap, which was damn awkward because that chair's not meant to hold two full-grown men, but he gripped me so tight that I knew he needed me there, so I got as comfortable as I could and just held him. After a minute he started murmuring "I'm sorry, Len, god, I'm so sorry," and I shushed him. I asked him how things went with Jim, and he shook his head and said "I've been such an asshole."

I chuckled a little and said "No argument here," but he looked so upset that I couldn't leave it at that. I told him that we're none of us perfect, and that I was so proud of him for facing his issues with Jim and talking to him. I told him that I loved him and needed him, and that I would never leave him, for Jim or anyone else.

He let out a huge shaky sigh and said that from now on he was going to do right by both of us. That he knew it'd take time for him to prove himself, but that he was going to do it, no matter what. He was so determined. I really do believe that he can do anything he sets his mind to. He and Jim -- I've never met two men with such indomitable will. So I just said, "I believe you," and left it at that.

After a few minutes, he kissed me and then nudged me to get up. I went and got showered and changed while he finished up dinner. He'd made pan-seared swordfish with a lemon-butter sauce, wild rice pilaf, and asparagus. It was heavenly. We ate on the balcony, sitting in the patio chairs next to each other, our feet up on the railing, looking out over the city together. There wasn't much conversation, but it was a comfortable silence, and I caught him staring at me a couple times with a particularly intense expression. Each time that happened, I leaned over and kissed him gently, and it seemed to make him feel better. By the end of dinner, he had even smiled a time or two. God, he's beautiful when he smiles. Well, he's always beautiful, no matter what, but I love seeing that smile that's only for me.

We shared a plate of fresh fruit for dessert. We ate one-handed, with our other hands tangled together as the sun went down. We both felt a bit raw, I think, but it feels like we're making progress. Slowly but surely.

Afterwards, as I said, Chris insisted on cleaning up, so I'm relaxing on the couch and writing this entry. Since the Enterprise is departing Monday, it's one of our last nights together. I don't want it to be over too early, so I think I'm going to go make some coffee and check on Chris in the kitchen.

Personal Journal of Christopher R. Pike

Saturday 2260.188

Len and I talked awhile after dinner was cleaned up. I didn't think it would be wise to leave things unsaid before the three of us meet for brunch tomorrow. I was surprised how easily some of it tumbled out, but I almost felt -- I don't know, disconnected from it. Like I was dictating the facts of a mission report. I don't know if that's a good thing or not, but at least I got through it.

I told him the worst part was -- Well, the part when Jim looked at me with those eyes -- Fuck, the sadness, the utter devastation in them when he told me that he couldn't believe that I would think he had lied and made up what happened to start all of this four months ago. I had to look away. And when he told me he'd never felt more alone in his life, without me, without Len -- I swear if I'd plunged a knife into my stomach at that moment, it couldn't possibly have hurt more.

I still can't get over the fact that Jim was willing -- is willing -- to give up Len because of my stupidity. Well, it shows what a good, honorable man Jim Kirk has become. To be that unselfish, especially at his own expense -- I would never have been able to do that at his age. Hell, I don't even know if I could do it now. I didn't tell Len that part, but I'm pretty sure he knows.

We discussed what we were going to do about Dr. Elliott. We agreed that obviously I won't be seeing her again. I left a message with her office that I wouldn't be requiring her services anymore. Len wants to listen to the session when we get it next week. He told me he's glad he'll be on the Enterprise and thousands of light years away. He's truly afraid of what he'd do if he heard it while he was still here on Earth, since Dr. Elliott will be back next week. I know he's serious, too, and I for one wouldn't want to be witness to that conversation. I told him that I'd support whatever he decides to do. If he wants to file a formal complaint, I'd back both of them up. He then told me that when he discussed it with Jim -- Well, Jim just wants to leave it be. He doesn't want the attention, and wants to put it behind him. I can tell Len still wants to file a complaint, but I know in the end he'll concede to Jim's wishes.

Len just went in to bed. I told him I had a few things to do and came into my office. I already took care of my Starfleet work, but I had some thinking to do, and figured I needed to get the rest of this out.

Tomorrow we'll have brunch with Jim. Hopefully it won't be awkward. I just feel like there is nothing I can say to him, or do, to ever make up for how I've acted -- How I've treated him. When I said that to Len earlier, he said, "You're right. You can't." That was tough to hear, especially from Len, but I know it's true. He told me I was lucky that Jim is even willing to try. When I told him that Jim was only doing it for his sake, he simply nodded. He knows. I can hear him talking in the bedroom, no doubt checking in with Jim. I hope Jim is okay, I was worried about him when he left. I guess that's a good thing. I never stopped caring for him, and that's made this entire mess even more difficult.

Tonight will be our last night together here in our apartment, then I'm going to spend the night with him tomorrow on the Enterprise before they embark on Monday afternoon. I should be up in bed right now with him, making love with him, but I'm really not in the mood. I don't think he is either.

God it's hard thinking about letting him go again. So before I get more morose than I already am, I'm going to quit feeling sorry for myself and head into bed. He's here right now, and that's all that matters. I can hold him in my arms all night, memorizing his essence, and be eternally grateful he's still mine.

To: Leonard H. McCoy (
From: James T. Kirk (

Dear Bones,

Yeah, I'm resorting to your preferred method of communication for having difficult conversations. Not that I think this is difficult, I just... Shit, Bones. I know we have this whole unspoken thing going between us. We always have. But there were a few things I wanted to say to you the last couple of days, and instead, I gave my typical smartass response, or I didn't say anything at all. I almost came to the gym to find you after my talk with Chris, but I was just too emotional and tired. I'm so tired, Bones.

I could blame writing this mushy shit on the bottle of wine that Admiral Pike left on the counter for me, but I haven't even opened it. "Liquid courage" you called it, back at the Academy. I'm sure it would be easier to get totally smashed while writing this, but that would be too easy. And since when do I ever do anything the easy way, right?

First of all, before I make a complete fool of myself with anything I might say later, thank you for the last few days. I mean that, Bones. Seriously. Thanks. I think I got more rest, and relaxed more, the last few days than during the entire rest of my shore leave, despite... Well, despite all the shit we had to work out. I'm telling you right now, old man, next shore leave, if I decide to go off like I did this time... Well, I'm giving you permission to sedate me the entire time. I'm serious, Bones.

My shore leave sucked, and not the good kind of sucking. Hey look, there I go being a smartass again. I could erase it, but I know you're rolling your eyes at me right now, which makes it totally worth it. But I digress. Back to shore leave. I know we didn't talk about it much, but I was ready to head back to the Enterprise after the first couple of days. I don't know what possessed me to possibly think I could disappear on Earth of all places. The only time I had any peace at all was when I stayed with the monks towards the end. I was followed everywhere. I'm starting to think you might be partly right about trouble following me around. Don't get all excited, I said partly right.

Anyway, all I wanted was some peace and quiet, and some time to think. To be able to ride my bike along dirt roads and see parts of Earth I've never seen before. But even though I was trying to go incognito, the press was on me the second I touched down. I tried to take back roads, I stayed in small towns, and avoided big cities. Didn't matter. One time I left a small hotel and got mobbed by a crowd. Ended up dislocating my shoulder and people got hurt, and that was my fault. Local police managed to get me free, and I took off on my bike. Luckily, I know from experience how to get it my shoulder back into place myself. Well, if you can call it luck. This time I borrowed a wall in an alley, but that wasn't until hours after I'd finally lost the people tailing me. And yeah, I know it's not safe to be riding with one arm incapacitated. Not exactly fun either, and it hurt like hell too.

I can practically hear you from here, swearing under your breath reading that. What was I supposed to do, though? We weren't even really speaking, and anyway I wasn't really in the mood to hear you bitch at me if I'd commed you. Mostly though, I didn't want to interrupt your time with Chris. If I'd gone back to HQ or stepped foot in a Starfleet hospital, you would have heard about it. And knowing you, you would have tracked me down. I didn't want that... hang on. Since I'm trying to be honest... Shit Bones, of course I wanted you to fix me up. You're the only one I trust. You know how much I hate doctors, how much I avoid them. Yes, I can hear you saying under your breath right now that I avoid you too, but you also know I eventually come to you. Okay, I might be dragged in unconscious half the time, but that counts, doesn't it? Oh come on, Bones, that should have triggered a few expletives out of your mouth. Now you're grinning and shaking your head at me. Really though, I'm going to try to be better about that. I'm not promising anything, because you know how I am... Avoiding doctors is ingrained in me. Try to be a little patient. I'm sure I'm gonna screw up, but I'll try, Bones. I really will.

Under this honesty thing, I know you're worried about how thin I am. How much weight I lost during shore leave. Well, it's not exactly all from shore leave. I've lost more than five kilos the last few months. I think it was less obvious in my uniform than the jeans you saw me in. It's not like you were paying attention before that either, Bones. I'm not trying to make you feel guilty, but you were pretty pissed off at me. Not that I blame you, considering. There was also the fact that at the end of my first week of shore leave I ate something that made me sick for days. I practically slept on the floor of the bathroom. I threw up more than when I was so sick from that toxin you had to develop an antidote for, after that away mission to Tyrellia. I think there's even a vid of me throwing up on the newsnets. The headlines chalk it up to me partying all night and being drunk and hung over, of course. And before you start lecturing me under your breath, Bones, I didn't drink hardly at all while I was gone other than when I was with the monks. They prepared an awesome meal for me every night and served wine with it, and I thought it would be rude not to partake. So I had like a half a glass with dinner every night.

After the avalanche... Shit Bones, I just wanted to go home. You asked me during one of our walks in Yosemite why I went back to the Enterprise and I didn't exactly answer you. Well, to me, the Enterprise is home. What do I have in Iowa? An empty farmhouse except for a drunk-ass uncle waiting to tell me what a fuck-up I am and then... Well, you know the rest. I haven't even moved anything into the quarters they've assigned me at Starfleet. It's just another empty place to me. What do I have to put in there anyway?

The avalanche... That was some scary shit, Bones. I had been in that little town two days before. Then suddenly the entire town was gone like it had never been there. Luckily, there was enough warning for the Planetary Disaster Agency to transport most of the people out, but there were still hundreds trapped. I didn't think, I just got on my bike and went and dug in the snow for hours and hours with the rescue crews. I helped pull a lot of people out, and thankfully there weren't many fatalities, although I did help recover a few of those. But what do the newsnets broadcast everywhere? Me pulling out puppies. Talk about bullshit. I'm telling you, Bones, hypothermia and frostbite are not fun. I still feel chilled. Yeah, that's why I was wearing a sweatshirt the whole time we were in Yosemite even though it was warm. Last night I slept with three blankets on me and I still felt cold. In fact, right now I'm sitting on my couch with a blanket wrapped around me. I know it's a mental thing and I just need to get over it. I can't afford that kind of weakness.

Shit. Could I sound more pathetic? Jesus, Bones, I'm the captain of the Federation's fucking flagship and I sound like a whiny baby. Maybe the Admirals are right, man. Maybe I shouldn't have been given this responsibility. Maybe I was just lucky saving the planet and the Federation's ass. But I know I'm awesome at what I do and I love it... most of the time, anyway. When they actually let me do my job, that is. I just wish... Well, I guess I wish other people believed that. It has royally sucked, living under this scrutiny the last two years. I've tried not to complain to you or to Chris. Those assholes at Starfleet HQ make me justify everything I do, and I know from talking to a couple other captains that they aren't required to jump through half of the hoops that I am to keep the Admiralty off my back. I'm sick of it, Bones. I have the goddamn highest marks in the fleet. We have fewer casualties, fewer failed missions by more than half compared to everyone else. I mean, how long am I going to have to prove myself to them? I get it, Bones. I do. It's just starting to get to me more and more lately, I guess. And without Chris as my ally, not being able to talk to you, it's sucked even worse. Shit, I almost forgot I scheduled a meeting with Admiral Barnett for Monday morning. I was going to flat out call him on this bullshit. I'm not sure that's a good idea anymore. I just don't know, and I hate feeling uncertain like this. You know me -- act first, think later. This shit is not my forte.

I don't even know why I'm writing all of this to you. You told me that I need to talk to you more, that I should come to you with things that are bothering me, that I can tell you anything. I guess on some level I know that, and I've always known it. But it doesn't make it any easier. Sure, I can sit in one of our quarters and talk about the crew and the ship, but I feel like if I tell you how much I second guess everything... I feel like you'd lose faith in my ability to command the ship, or my ability to keep you safe. Yeah, that's stupid, and part of me knows it is. But you're the only one who's ever actually believed in me... Well, I thought Chris did, but I know better now. It's not like I've ever had anyone in my life I could confide in. Shit, I've never had anyone in my life, period. This isn't anything new to you. Half the time I feel like you put up with me because no one else will.

The truth is, and I can't believe I'm telling you this... I really don't know what I'd do without you, Bones. Shit, I tried to stand on my own after that session with Dr. Elliott. I'm not going into that right now. You'll hear the tape in a few days and then I'm sure you'll tear me a new one for not telling you everything she said. I couldn't, Bones. Right now, I'm trying to forget, but I still hear her voice in my head sometimes. Part of me still thinks she's right. Our friendship... our relationship is unhealthy, you know it is. It's certainly fucked up yours and Chris's, so why shouldn't I have believed what she said? You told me you were pissed off that I listened to her nonsense, that I should have come to you right away. Maybe I should have, but what would you have done in my place? No, wait, don't answer that. You wouldn't have listened to her in the first place. And yeah, I realize that the fact that I did listen just shows how fucked up in the head I am.

Maybe she's right, though, and I have caused some of the problems with Chris... I don't know, man. I've been thinking about that a lot. At first when you two started seeing each other, I commed him the same as I always have. Asking questions, touching base, trying to keep learning as much as I could from him. I was happy for him. I was happy for you. And okay, yeah, I handled that first big fight badly. I said some things to him I shouldn't have. I know that didn't help things, and that's on me. After that, I felt like I didn't have the right to butt in or something... I don't know. But after that, it wasn't the same anymore. I felt like his approval didn't mean as much to me, I guess. It was as much my fault as his. I expected too much from him. So I guess this is where I get to the part where I tell you what Chris and I talked about earlier.

I'm sure you know I wasn't too happy when you told me that you were bringing me back to talk to him. I certainly didn't want to see him. I don't know how much he told you about our talk. I didn't know what to expect, but I thought that airing all of that shit would make me feel better, like it did with you. Yeah, not so much. Instead, I still feel like shit. The difference, I guess, is that I wasn't ever pissed at you. I wasn't ever intentionally hurt by you. What he did, what he said, that hurt, Bones. It's hard to admit that, but man, it hurts a lot.

Fuck, I had Pike up on a pedestal so high during our time at the Academy. You know that. I remember you telling me I was like a puppy on crack, following him around and salivating at his every word like it was goddamn steak. I told him that today. Well, I didn't tell him your exact words 'cause I figured you wouldn't appreciate that, but I gave him the gist. I told him that was probably unfair of me to idolize him like that. But you don't know how much my life sucked when I first met him. Well, you have some idea, but still. Pike was the first person to ever look past my stupid juvenile rebel-without-a-cause shtick, you know? Just from seeing me, talking to me for a few minutes in that bar in Iowa. He gave me the chance to prove there was more to me than the smartass I was in Iowa. He got me on that shuttle on a dare -- a fucking dare, Bones. How stupid is that? But he knew I couldn't ignore it, and he was right. He got me onto that shuttle where I met you.

And God, Bones, if there were ever two people more mismatched than us... But somehow it worked for us. I still don't know why you gave me the time of day. I don't know why you insisted on taking a look at my cuts and bruises after we arrived. I still don't know why I let you. Shit, we were both such a mess. Maybe that's why we clicked. I don't know. The point is, I would have never made it without you. There were so many times the first month that I wanted to just say screw it and go back to Iowa... All the whispers, all the pointing at me, and the worst, the complete silence that would come over a room when I walked in. Even most of the fucking instructors were assholes to me.

I never told you this, Bones, but you were my refuge from all of them. I remember one day I walked out of the gym because I was flat out told that I didn't belong at Starfleet, that I'd never live up to what my father had done so why was I even trying. That wasn't even the worst of the crap I heard. I'm sure you heard it all too, even though you'd always say you didn't listen to that 'pile of goddamn bullshit.' Anyway, you were studying on a bench in the quad that day and I sat down next to you, bitching about how no one cared who I was, only who my sainted dead dad had been. You looked at me and told me to ignore all the idiots, and that all that mattered to you was that I was Jim, your friend. My past, who my father was... It didn't matter to you. Shit, Bones, I think it was the first time since like third grade that anyone had actually called me their friend. You're why I stayed, Bones. Well, you and the fact that I wasn't going to give those assholes the satisfaction of being right.

After that, I felt like it was you and me against the world, man. You may have been a mess when you first arrived, and I know you had good reason, but at least you hadn't been a mess all your life. Well, that's not completely true, I haven't been a screw-up all my life. I was the good kid up until right before Tarsus, up until Sam... Shit, not going to go there. I just can't.

I cried in front of Chris today, which totally sucked. I think I did most of the talking. He did some at the end. I don't even remember half of what I said. I just told him the truth, I think. About how I feel. About how I still think you deserve better. I'm worried... well, shit, how can he ever think of me now without seeing the pathetic crying? Shit, Bones. I don't know if the talk made things better or worse. He kept telling me he was sorry, but what does that solve? It's not even about trusting him. I know he's a hell of a commander, I still trust him in that role. But as for personal shit -- how do I trust someone who obviously doesn't believe me? You know I don't lie about things that are important. Sure, I bullshit a lot, and I admit I bent rules at the Academy. But I don't lie, Bones. You know that, and I guess I thought he did too. Obviously I was wrong.

I talked about how out of the loop I felt at Starfleet. I feel like I don't know half of things I should. I told him that. You know, I wasn't even invited to any of the meetings that captains would normally attend when they're earthside. I told Chris that, and he didn't have an answer for me. He said he'd look into it. Whatever. I'm not part of half of the conference calls that are supposed to include all the ships' commanders. If I'm lucky, I'll get a transcript afterwards. I told him I thought they were purposely trying to sabotage me. He looked at me like he wanted to refute me, but couldn't. I want to believe he'd tell me if he knew anything, but honestly, I just don't know anymore. Maybe I can't trust him like that anymore. I mean, why should I trust him when he clearly doesn't trust me, especially when it comes to you? I flat out told him he had nothing to worry about with me ever trying to take you away from him. He's got some serious fixation, man, like he thinks I'm after your body. I don't know what I'm supposed to do about that.

I'm going to try to patch things up with him, Bones, but the only reason I'm even trying is for you. Sometimes you have to do things like that. And it's worth it, Bones. Don't ever think you aren't worth me and Chris trying to work out this shit. And stop blaming yourself, will you? You couldn't have pulled my head out of my ass before, even if you really had tried. It probably would have made things worse. I was totally determined to cut myself off from you completely, even though it fucking killed me inside every day. The fact that it was so hard just gave more credence to what Dr. Elliott had said to me, in my mind. I didn't even do a very good job of cutting you off, although god knows I tried. I also knew that spending time with Spock would piss you off. I was hoping it'd piss you off enough that you'd realize I'm no good for you and you'd turn your back on me. I didn't do it to hurt you, Bones. Fuck, that's what I regret the most about all of this, when you told me on one of our walks how much it hurt to feel like you were losing me, and then to see me spending time with Spock, like I'd just up and replaced you. Shit, I didn't want that. You know you're the last person I would ever intentionally hurt. I'm sorry, Bones. It was a crappy thing to do to you and I'm sorry.

So then when you told me you weren't going anywhere, that it was your decision to stay on the Enterprise for at least eight more years... I can't even begin to explain how that made me feel. It's probably a good thing you told me I couldn't respond right away, that I had to think about it. Because seriously, I probably would have done something totally embarrassing and un-captain-like and either cried or jumped into your arms hugging you and saying thank you in every language I know. So thank you for sparing me the indignity, even though I just told you anyway. You'll never know how much it means to me, Bones. I hope I'm worth your sacrifice, and don't even try to tell me it's not a sacrifice, Bones. You know it is. So thank you.

I'm barely staying awake here now, and I have some more stupid administrative work to do before I can sleep. I don't even know if I've said half the things I meant to, or need to. Maybe I've said more than I should. I'm going to hit send without re-reading before I change my mind. I'll probably wake up in the morning totally embarrassed by the things I've said here, but I know that you deserve more than the wisecracks and half-answers I gave you the last few days. Sure, we talked a lot, and we both said things we needed to, but not everything. Well, I didn't want to hold anything back. I want to leave on Monday with you by my side and with the air between us totally clear, nothing left unsaid, for once. I don't want to hide behind my fucking bravado anymore... Well, I'm not giving it up entirely, and it's not like it ever really fooled you anyway. I wouldn't be me without it in some ways, I guess, but it's nice, it's always been nice, to be able to kick back with you and not have to worry about being 'on' like I am with everyone else. You've always looked past that, and I want to thank you for that. For seeing me, all of me, and sticking around anyway.

Thank you for being my friend, Bones. My best friend. I don't know what I did to deserve you, but I'm so fucking grateful. Don't ever forget that. Especially the next time I come back from an away mission in less than stellar shape, okay?

I love you, too.


On to Part 34
Tags: fic: trek, pairing: pike/mccoy, series: to talk of many things
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