Title: Submit, Fight, Fail, Fall (or why you can't fight the blood that's in you)
Rating/Warnings/Spoilers: NC-17 / Spoilers for XI
Fandom/Pairing/Prompt: Star Trek AOS AU, Kirk/McCoy
Disclaimer: Alas, I do not own Star Trek.
Summary: Spawned by Word Wars over at jim_and_bones. Jim Kirk is an omega with a chip on his shoulder. He's convinced all alphas are assholes. Then he meets one that isn't.
Author's Note: This fic features the alpha/beta/omega trope. For a background on this trope check out the fanlore wiki HERE.
Sleep did not come easily to Leonard that night. He vacillated between extremes of emotion.
Concern continued to war with anger for superiority, one refusing to yield to the other. Jim had dismissed Leonard’s concerns out of hand, had done it rudely and crudely and refused to listen to reason. Godammit, he could kill himself with those drugs.
Leonard allowed himself to internalize that thought for a moment, and the feeling was like being punched in the sternum. Admittedly, that was a worst case scenario. There were plenty of other unpleasant, but nonlethal potential outcomes. But the physiology of Jim Kirk, Leonard knew from experience, frequently dealt in worst-case scenarios. Not to mention the fact that Leonard’s pessimistic mind naturally gravitated to the most dire of possibilities.
What would it be like to get that comm. Or to be there when it happened. To wake up one day to find that the man who had become a singular fixture in his life was no longer among the living? Leonard had seen plenty of death, professionally and personally: both patients and family. He fought against it not just for a living, but because it was ingrained into his personality, into the very fabric of who he was. But the thought of it happening to Jim, who Leonard drank with and bitched with and studied with, and who occasionally turned to Leonard with the kind of expression that made his insides buzz in response? The thought of Jim succumbing, of him hurting, of him actually dying? The thought made Leonard feel like someone had poured ice water into his veins.
Leonard’s mind began to turn over the possibilities, first as he sat in his room, a tumbler of bourbon in hand, and then as he lay in his bunk. He was not naturally gifted in tactics like Jim was. But he had all the motivation in the world. The answer came easily enough. But the rest of the night was spent fitfully running through scenarios and probable outcomes and potential approaches. It was very likely Jim would hate him afterwards, but he would be alive to do it.
If their friendship was the price he had to pay for Jim’s life, so be it.
Jim had not simply been placating his friend when he told Bones he would feel better in the morning. Not one hundred percent better, for sure, but enough to get to class and function. He woke early, eschewing his early morning run for an extra long hot water shower that helped massage the last of the soreness out of his muscles.
He had slept poorly, portions of last night’s argument with Bones replaying itself in his mind over and over. Jim was not normally prone to second-guessing himself, but he couldn’t help but think that he could have handled it better. Bones had been trying to help, in his own alarmist way. It wasn’t Bones’ fault that he stumbled on shit that Jim had been trying to bury for years
But why couldn’t the man leave well enough alone? Jim had managed to function for five years on inhibitors without any major catastrophes, although the fallout was becoming more and more of a bitch. The confused look on Bones’ face returned to Jim as he stared at his own reflection in the mirror. The doctor’s expression had morphed from concern, to confusion, to anger, and finally to a blank look that defied categorization. It was the look of someone disconnecting, and the memory of it caused something in Jim to clench.
And why wouldn’t Bones pull away after the way Jim had talked to him? But what else could Jim do, and still keep his own secret shames hidden?
Jim spat his toothpaste into the sink and rinsed his mouth out. Then frowned at himself in the mirror. He was still on the pale side, his features drawn. Shadows hung below his eyes. To the casual observer, he looked overtired. Only Jim knew the reason behind it. And Bones, now. With whom Jim was probably not on speaking terms after his performance yesterday. Jim cursed under his breath.
He padded into the bedroom for his uniform, thankful as usual for his roommate’s penchant for early mornings and late evenings in the science labs. Jim was still half dressed when the door chime rang. He walked into the common area, pulling his undershirt on before tabbing the bedroom door shut behind him.
Jim hoped he managed to hide the gobsmacked look on his face when the door opened to reveal the one person he thought would surely not be gracing his doorstep for the foreseeable future. The customary frown played between Bones’ brows as he stepped into the room. Jim felt himself being sized up by the other man’s gaze.
“Bones.” Jim was unable to keep the surprise from his voice.
“Told you I’d be here. That poison you’re taking effect your memory too?”
Bones had said that, hadn’t he? In between bouts of cursing and trading insults. “I’m just surprised you actually came,” Jim siad
“You mean after you told me to fuck off?” Bones said in a flat tone.
Jim shrugged, suppressing the wince he felt at the blunt statement of truth. “Yeah.”
“Well, it ain’t a social call,” Bones replied gruffly, fishing his tricorder out from his case. “I said I’d be here to check you over. And if you aren’t a hell of a lot better, I’ll make good on dragging you to medical.” The doctor pointed the device at the man who was apparently still his friend. Or, barring that, at least his responsibility.
Jim bit his tongue against a retort while the tricorder digested all of his biosigns for the doctor’s perusal. Bones sported an upraised eyebrow as he studied the readout. His face wore a slightly sour expression so typical that would have brought a smile to Jim’s face under other circumstances.
“Better,” Bones admitted in a voice that managed to be clinical and slightly surprised at the same time. “Vitals have normalized, your hormones are still fluctuating on the high side, but at least it’s the high side of normal.”
Jim couldn’t help his curiosity. “As opposed to?”
Bones glared at him. “The high side of high.”
“’Oh?’” Bones asked sourly. “Just, ‘oh’?”
Jim couldn’t help quirking a half-smile. “What do you want? A dance?”
“Maybe I want you to stop risking your health by contravening all the natural laws of your own biology.”
“Good luck with that, man. Now I gotta get to class. Don’t want to be late for another stimulating lecture on the history of first contact.” He reached for the uniform jacket that was draped over his chair, shrugging it on. Jim was grinning. He couldn’t help it, despite the fact that Bones appeared to be nowhere near letting this go. This morning Jim had been wallowing in melodramatic angst, sure that he had lost his only real friend in the world. And here Bones was, giving him shit, and taking his shit just like he did every day. Disaster averted. He was halfway past Bones, on the way to the door when the older man grabbed him by the elbow.
“Now hold it just one minute, Jim.” Bones’ voice was a firm, his face not just stern, but positively grim. Any smart-assed retort that Jim was preparing died when he took in that expression.
“You are going to stop taking those suppressants.”
Jim tried to pull away, but found that Bones’ grip was as hard as his expression. “What the fuck, Bones? I thought we covered this last night.” Jim tried to keep his voice even, tried not to repeat last night’s mistakes, but he’d be damned if Bones was getting all up in his face over something that was none of his business. “I’m taking them, you disapprove. We have an understanding. Just let it go, Bones.”
“I can’t do that,” Bones said, his expression changing into something almost like sadness. “You are going to stop, or ‘fleet medical is going to make you stop.”
It took a moment for Jim to process the fact that he was actually being threatened by his best friend. He jerked his elbow forcefully out of the other man’s grip. “What the fuck?” he repeated angrily. “You reported me?”
“Not yet. And I won’t. Not if you stop using.”
“Fuck you, Bones.” Jim couldn’t help the feeling of betrayal from coloring his voice and expression. “Suppressants are legal. You can’t do shit about it, so just let it go.”
“Chapter 16, Subsection 9 of the academy regs say that ‘any cadet deemed medically unfit for duty shall be suspended at the discretion of Starfleet Medical pending resolution of said condition or until such a time as medical deems them again fit for duty.’”
“You, of all people, are quoting fucking regulations to me?” The absurdity would have made Jim laugh, if he wasn’t so busy aching from the knife in his back.
Bones lifted his tricorder up to Jim’s face. “This is what your readings were last night. Next time they will be worse. And they will get progressively more severe with subsequent use of those damned things. Eventually they will debilitate you to a point where you could be a liability to yourself and anyone you serve with. At some point, they may kill you.”
Jim simply glared at Bones beyond the display of the tricorder, his own eyes full of anger and betrayal.
The arm with the device dropped back to the doctor’s side. “Now I don’t know what happened to you. Because you won’t tell me. I don’t know what makes you not give a shit about whether you live or die. But, fuck you, Jim, I do. So cuss me out, hate me, throw me out of this room, but don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m not serious about this.” Bones’ expression, his voice, broke just enough that Jim felt an unwanted pang of sympathy for the man who was currently standing in his common-area blackmailing him.
“Real fucking noble of you.” Jim hated that some of the anger had burned out of him at Bones’ words. He desperately tried to imagine the rest of his life at the mercy of his biology, without the help of the suppressants. Getting down on his knees for strangers, or worse, for friends who betrayed you in the end. The feeling of impotent anger returned with force.
Jim stalked into his room, reaching into the bedside drawer for a bottle full of the substance that had kept him going for the last five years. He stalked back to common-area, his back ramrod straight, despite the lingering ache in his muscles. The way he tossed the pills to Bones was almost nonchalant. His words were not.
“Fine. Choke on them. Now get out.”
Bones just stood there for a moment. Looking at Jim with eyes that were somehow sad and resigned and determined all at once.
Jim wanted to shout at the other man. Stop looking at me like that. Stop looking at me like I ended something. You were the one who ended it. This friendship … this relationship … this whatever-it-was that they had, but wouldn’t have anymore after today.
Because how could they go on like nothing happened after Bones stabbed him in the back like this. And after Jim had –
Fuck it. Jim had done nothing but protect himself.
Jim watched as Bones finally, blankly and obligingly turned and walked out the door. The soft hiss as it closed behind him felt like a note of finality.
Jim collapsed into his chair, all the fight and all the adrenaline deserting him at once, leaving him with a hollow feeling. He couldn’t say how long he sat there, until a ping from his nearby pad alerted him. Rather than the get-to-class reminder he expected, it was a comm from the Office of Cadets, telling him that his medical excuse for yesterday’s absences had been received. The attached copy, listing some common and nonspecific illness, sported the signature of one Leonard H. McCoy, MD.
The irony of it was not lost on Jim.
When Jim had kicked Bones so forcefully out of his dorm room and out of his life, he had not stopped to consider what it would be like to see the man day in and day out and not be able to talk to him, eat with him, study with him, drink with him, or otherwise just be with him. To do more than just occupy the same geographical area and attempt to ignore each other.
On a campus full of a few thousand people, Leonard McCoy seemed suddenly everywhere. He and Jim had traveled together in much the same extracurricular orbit; having become so accustomed to each other that their patterns overlapped even when they no longer wanted them to overlap.
It created a hollow feeling watching the other man from a distance. The hollowness sat inside Jim’s gut alongside the dread that had lived in him ever since he handed over his suppressants. Jim had tried, in the first week after their blowout, to hold onto his sense of righteous indignation. The first few days it was easy; anger fueled by the dread of having to go through his heat unaided for the first time in five years. But time eroded the feeling of anger like so much sand, leaving only trepidation and a hollow melancholy. If what Bones had said was true, and Jim couldn’t think of an instance where Bones had been wrong about anything medical, Jim’s time on the suppressants had been limited. But would Bones really have handed Jim over to ‘fleet medical? Would Bones really have sold him out?
Yeah, he probably would have. Jim tried to drum up some anger at that, but could find only a little. Only a vague sense of betrayal alongside the knowledge that Bones had been doing it all because he was afraid that Jim might actually die.
”I don’t know what makes you not give a shit about whether you live or die. But, fuck you, Jim, I do.”
And that was what really scared the shit out of Jim Kirk. Having someone who cared enough that they would be willing to lose you rather than watch you lose yourself. Jim had a long, rich and personal history as a disappointment. His mother, his brother, Frank, even Gary the Bastard had found Jim wanting in some way. But Bones had stood there in the middle of his dorm room and taken everything Jim’s temper had to offer, the anger and the insults both. Somewhere along the line, Leonard McCoy had decided that a relationship with Jim Kirk was worth time and effort.
Well, Jim had shown him, hadn’t he?
When Leonard had devised the plan to boot Jim forcefully of the suppressants, he had known that it would probably cost him the single strongest relationship in his life at present. He hadn’t, however, considered what it would be like to have to see the other man, day in and day out.
He saw him in the mess, on the quad, in the hallways. And finally, they had to face each other in class. He knew Jim had picked up on it too; the curious stares of the other students in Piloting 101. Of course the fresh-faced cadets noticed that the two men who were generally thick-as-thieves were suddenly not giving each other the time of day.
It hurt like a bitch, and not just because Leonard had no Jim Kirk to distract him from his aviophobic neuroses. It hurt far worse than he had anticipated. How could Leonard have made such a connection to this man in a scant six months that it stung so sorely when it was ripped away?
The only time Leonard was sure to not encounter Jim was at medical. Jim avoided the place like a particularly nasty plague. So Leonard, fully cognizant of his own cowardice, purposely spent even more of his time there. He even volunteered to pick up some shifts in the clinic, secure in the knowledge that while many of his colleagues annoyed him and the student body frustrated him, that medical was the one place where he would never run into Jim Kirk.
Until he did.