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Oh, fuck, Bones thought. They’re fighting—again.

It didn’t take a rocket scientist (or even a Rhodes Scholar like McCoy) to figure that out. He walked into the Officers’ Mess, and the instant chill was enough to make him want to run back to his quarters for the sweater his me-ma had knitted him. Judging from the very subdued chatter (and the number of ensigns sitting in hunched positions like rabbits trying to avoid Elmer Fudd), Bones wasn’t the only person on board who’d figured out that Jim and Spock were once again chewing each other’s ass, and not in a recreational way (not that Bones ever wanted to see that. He was still permanently scarred from the sight of Jim Kirk naked in his bunk, covered in chocolate sauce and restrained with handcuffs by that kinky fucking hobgoblin).*

However, there was no question that Jim and Spock screwing like tribbles (did tribbles screw? No one had ever caught them at it, but there had to be some reason why they kept multiplying. Bones made a mental note to ask Scotty, who raised the little fluff balls). Anyway, while the idea of Jim and Spock swapping bodily fluids for hours at a time was nauseating, there was no question that when they were swapping, both were easier to get along with than when they were fighting—like now, apparently, since Spock was sitting in solitary splendor at one table, determinedly chewing his way through what looked like a bowl of twigs (McCoy never could stand to look at Vulcan food too closely), while Jim was sitting at the table that was the furthest possible distance from Spock’s table while not yet pushed into the hall, eating—oh, fuck. Bones’ heart sank. Jim was eating a pile of devil’s food doughnuts. Actually, he was eating what looked like a shuttlecraft’s cargo bay full of devil’s food doughnuts, washing them down with a gallon jug of coffee. Great. Just great. There goes his diet card for the month. McCoy knew his duty as CMO. With a carefully repressed sigh, he went to the nearest food slot, got a tray, and made his way across the room to join Jim’s doughnut orgy.

“Good morning, kiddo.” Bones and his tray settled themselves across from Jim and the doughnuts that were giving their lives for his snit.

Jim looked up. “Umph,” he managed, before swallowing what looked like a basketball-sized wad of chocolate dough—and promptly beginning to cough.

“Oh, Jesus, Jim.” Bones got up and walked around the table, using his advanced medical knowledge to whack Jim across the back. “Chew, for Christ’s sake.”

Jim managed to swallow and glared at his CMO. “Quit trying to bruise me.”

“Yeah, I know—that’s Spock’s job.” Bones went around the table and sat down once more, watching Jim slowly turn red.

“Okay,” McCoy said quietly. “You want to tell me what you and the hobgoblin are fighting about, or do you just want me to wait until 02-fucking-30, when you show up at my door wanting to cry in my lap?”

Jim glared harder. “I’ve never cried in your lap.”

“No, just on my shoulder, my best throw pillow, my desk—shall I go on? And quit shoveling those fried grease balls down your gullet—I’m going to get Catering to yank them out of the replicators, I swear it.”

“You do, and I’ll actually authorize that transfer to an Albarrian ore mine**.” Jim’s hands curved protectively around his doughnut hoard. “Now go away, Bones. I’ve only got ten minutes until my shift starts.”

“I just hope your ass still fits in the chair, captain sir.” Bones got to his feet. “Come by Sickbay tonight when you finally want to spill your guts—or puke them up, depending on how many more of those goddamned things you eat.”

 

Dr. Leonard McCoy, CMO of the USS Enterprise, never gossiped. Gossip was evil. Gossip was tacky. Gossip was against regs.

Gossip was the fuel that any starship ran on, and Command knew it, despite their holy attitude to the contrary. So Bones didn’t gossip; he just listened in as crew came and went in Sickbay, quickly ascertaining that Alpha shift on the Bridge had been as frosty as Delta Vega three days before Christmas. Whatever was going on between Jim and Spock, they hadn’t made up and played nice.

Bones knew his duty. After he finally finished his paperwork (plus an emergency suture job for that klutzy new ensign in Engineering who managed to carve off bits of himself on an average of once every three days), McCoy logged into the ship’s computer.

“Computer, location of Captain Kirk.”

“Captain Kirk is in his quarters.”

Oh, good. Probably hiding in his bunk with a fucking chocolate layer cake. Bones said good-night to his Sickbay crew and headed towards officer’s quarters.

 

Even with the soundproofing, Bones heard the music as soon as he got off the lift. The walls were practically throbbing, and McCoy knew where all that goddamned caterwauling was coming from. He braced himself and pounded on Jim’s door, which slid open after a moment of two, the wave of sound practically slamming Bones into the opposite wall.

 

But don't tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
I just don't think it'd understand
And if you tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
He might blow up and kill this man

 

The wailing rose to another chorus as Bones staggered into Jim’s cabin, the door sliding shut behind him. “Computer, music off!” He roared, and blessed silence fell.

“Jesus.” Bone shook his head, trying to stop the ringing. “Are you trying to make both ears bleed at once? And what the Hell was that noise, anyway?”

Jim, red-eyed and dressed only in the rattiest pair of gray sweatpants Bones had ever seen, raised his head off the sofa. “It’s 20th century classical country,” he said with dignity.

“That,” Bones proclaimed, “is an oxymoron.”

“Whatever.” Jim rolled over and buried his face in the cushions.

“Go away, Bones,” he said, voice muffled. “I’m gonna bawl again in a minute, and there’s no sense in you seeing it.”

McCoy shrugged. “Like I haven’t seen it before.” He got off the chair and sat on the edge of the couch, putting a hand on Jim’s shoulder.

“What’s going on, kid?” he asked gently. “You and Spock—I thought things were gong well. I would swear he almost smiled at me the other day—yeah, he caught himself before he did irreparable damage to his reputation, but still; I saw the faint upwards curl of his lip. So what’s happened? Why are the two of you falling off the happy shuttle?”

“We’re going to Earth next week.” Jim was still talking to the pillow.

“Yeah, I know that.” Bones smiled slightly, thinking of the opportunity to visit his daughter Jo.

Jim rolled over and looked at his best friend. “Spock—wants to meet my family.”

“Oh. Oh, fuck.” Now McCoy understood.

 

Bones was seriously considering putting in a requisition for a bloodhound—or maybe a pair of roller skates, since it seemed like he spent most of his time schlepping through the corridors looking for people. Being the sneaky asshole that he was (Bones didn’t care who argued otherwise; Vulcans were as sneaky as a clutch of Siamese cats at a salmon farm), Spock had managed to temporarily ‘remove’ himself from the ship’s computer and its locating system, technically against the rules, but being around Jim had rubbed off on Spock and made him less concerned about rules when it came to getting an outcome he wanted.

However, if Spock was sneaky, Bones was a master at reading behavior, so he eventually found the Vulcan’s hidey-hole—and promptly used his medical master to override the door lock and step into the small observation room, his ears instantly assaulted by the plucking-plinking of Spock’s Vulcan harp, which Bones liked only a little more than he liked 20th-century honky-tonk music.

Spock stopped playing and regarded the irritating human healer with a jaundiced eye. “I see the concept of privacy has no meaning for you, Doctor.”

“Not when I’m on a mission,” Bones agreed. He sat down on a cushioned bench and looked at Spock, his trained eyes noting that the Vulcan looked about as tired and worn as Jim.

“If Jim sent you here to talk with me, he had no right to do so.”

“Agreed, but he didn’t send me; in fact, he ordered me not to come near you. So it’s a good thing that just like Jim, I’m piss-poor at following orders.” Bones made himself comfortable. “Now, you can either hear what I have to say like the polite, well-mannered logical being that you are, or you can pick up your little toy harp and stalk out of here like a three-year-old leaving the sandbox because it’s nap time. Your choice.”

Spock glared at him, but he stayed. “What do you wish to say?”

Bones regarded him soberly. “You’re not being fair to Jim,” he said quietly. “The fact that he doesn’t want to take you home to meet his mother doesn’t have a goddamned thing to do with you—and it’s certainly not because he is ‘ashamed of a  monogamous relationship with a Vulcan male, as opposed to the stable of empty-headed, over-sexed females you normally associate with.’ Yeah, I’m quoting you directly based on what Jim said you said—you’re not the only one with a damned good memory, Spock, and every one of those words cut Jim to the bone.”

Spock stiffened. Hearing those words, as opposing to saying them, made them sound far more—petty—than Spock had realized.

“Now, Jim is proud, like most humans, and sometimes he picks the wrong time to clam up—again like most humans,” Bones continued. “He loves you, Spock, and he’d have no problem stating that in front of God and the whole graduating class of Starfleet Academy. The only reason he doesn’t want you to meet his mother is because he’s worried about your feelings.”

“I do not…”

“Oh, don’t even finish that sentence,” Bones said in total disgust. “You do have feelings; you’re as big a fluffy marshmallow as Jim is when it comes to your relationship. That’s exactly why he doesn’t want to take you home for Sunday dinner. His mother’s a bigot, Spock, a homophobe and probably a species-phobic as well, although she has to hide that most of the time.”

Spock stared at McCoy, bewilderment plain in his eyes. “But…she is a Starfleet officer.”

“Yeah, well, that doesn’t mean she’s not a horse’s ass, because she is. Not all Starfleet personnel are shining examples of all the virtues, like yours truly has the grace to be.” Bones snorted at the look on Spock’s face. “All right; that was laying it on thick. But the point is, Spock, Winona Kirk bears no resemblance to your mother—more's the pity. I know Amanda would have loved Jim,” he continued gently. “And because you know that too, you’re projecting her personality traits onto Jim’s mom. Well, sorry, but that won’t fly. Jim was trying to protect you, not hurt you.”

“But…why did he not simply say all that?”

“Because there’s no easy, cuddly way to say, ‘I can’t take you home to meet my mother because she’s a racist, redneck, closet gay-basher,’ that’s why.” Bone sighed. “And as I said, sometimes we humans clam up when we shouldn’t, just like sometimes we stick our noses into situations where we shouldn’t.”

Spock was silent for a long moment, and then he rose to his feet, heading towards the door. Much to McCoy’s shock, he stopped long enough to lay a hand on Bones’ shoulder.

“And sometimes humans interfere at exactly the right time,” he said quietly.

 

Spock stopped outside the door of Jim’s quarters, alarmed at the volume of…was that even music?...that was seeping through his door:

 

You can tell my arms, go back onto the phone
You can tell my feet to hit the floor
Or you can tell my lips to tell my fingertips
They won't be reaching out for you no more

But don't tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
I just don't think it'd understand
And if you tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
He might blow up and kill this man

 

 

 Spock thought about knocking, but he wasn’t sure Jim would even hear him. So he did the logical thing—bypassed the master code and stepped inside.

“Computer—Music off.”

Jim, still on the couch,  rolled over and looked wildly towards the door. “Spock, I…” He didn’t get a chance to say anything more before a remorseful Vulcan had him in his arms.

“I am sorry, ashaya,” Spock whispered. “I did not understand, and I drew a wrong and hurtful conclusion.” One thumb gently traced a dried tear track.

“Forgive me?” Spock asked in a whisper.

Jim wrapped his arms around his Vulcan. “Only if you take me to bed—right this second,” he murmured.

Spock was delighted to obey that order.

 

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about my mom.” Jim lay in that warm embrace, eyes drooping tiredly. It had been a long few days.

Spock pressed a kiss into Jim’s hair. “I should not have forced the issue,” he replied. He stroked up and down Jim’s back, feeling muscles easing from the tension they’d been carrying.

“I just hate the fact that she’s such a…”

“Redneck homophobe?”

“Yeah, that.” Jim grinned into Spock’s eyes. “Bones must have been talking to you. I told him not to, but I’m damned glad he did.”

“As am I, and I am grieved that I made you so miserable.” Spock kissed him gently. “I do not ever have to meet your mother, if you do not wish it.”

“Fair enough.” Jim snuggled close, ready to finally sleep.

“Jim?”

“Yes, ashaya?”

“That song that you were playing—did that…individual…have a successful recording career?”

Jim smiled against Spock’s shoulder. “Not really,” he said drowsily. “But he had a cute daughter—not as cute as you, though.”

“Good night, ‘shaya.”

“Good night, Spock.”

 

The following day, with a little help from a sneaky Science Officer, Bones had that miserable song permanently deleted from the ship’s library. Everyone in officers’ territory was appropriately grateful.

 

*see my story Christmas Gifts

**see my story Martian Death Flu.

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