Title: A World of Crazy (7/10)
Fandom: Star Trek AOS
Summary: AU. Leonard is shipped to Fleet Heights where he learns that he is part of a legendary crew that could change the world—except everyone (including him) is certifiably insane.
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Jim doesn’t lay a hand on Leonard again. Sure, they go back to a tentative balance of Captain and Doctor in which Jim (at least) speaks to him as crazily as he does the others. The difference between his treatment of Len, however, is glaring obvious when compared to the rest of the crew. Jim is his normal touchy-feely self: a hand on Spock’s shoulder, a slap on Scotty’s back, or a squeeze of someone’s arm. But Leonard? No, definitely not. It’s as if Jim cannot come within a ten feet radius of the doctor or he’ll get stunned by an electric force field.
Leonard doesn’t like it. At all.
Of course, he’s berated himself for being so foolish over it. Told himself that he ought to be thrilled to get what he wanted. Then it occurs to Len, late one evening as he stares up at that same spot on the ceiling, that he really has been lying to everyone (and himself) for a very long time.
Leonard actually enjoys Jim’s hands on his person. It is a connection to another human being that he feared he would never feel again; had been convinced that if Jocelyn didn’t want him, there must be something desperately wrong with Leonard.
But along comes Jim, with no compunction whatsoever about getting into Leonard’s personal space, like he belonged there.
And now Leonard is going to have to convince Jim to start doing it again.
He’s contemplated several scenarios. He could ask Jim to forgive him, say sorry again, but that will probably be as useless as before; this issue goes much deeper than a simple apology between them. Yelling at Jim seems like a good idea too, but if the kid is as jumpy as he seems right now, it might backfire and land them both in time-out (or worse) and still no better off in their relationship. (Shit, he just acknowledged that they have a relationship.) He has also thought about making the first move. (Lord, why does this sound like two awkward teenagers too afraid to say Hey, wanna date? to the other?) Now, the ending to this scenario will go either one of two ways: Jim is shocked but thrilled and attempts to jump Leonard’s bones (which he’ll have to refuse again) or Jim is shocked but understanding, for an insane person, and gets the message that it’s okay to touch Len.
But that’s the real problem here. Is Jim insane? Because, frankly, there are moments of such lucid clarity from the man that it defies logic. It’s as if the Captain is Jim’s mask that he can wear at will, and discard at will too. It makes the doctor curious, on a scientific level; on the other hand, it makes him seriously confused and throws him into a whole other world of crazy. Leonard is here by choice, at Fleet Heights; well, he arrived by choice. Getting out is another matter entirely, and probably the biggest (most important) blind-spot he wasn’t in any decent shape to consider when he knew he needed to get away from everyone and made that snap-decision walking out of the psychiatrist’s office.
So if that does make him crazy, well, Len is okay with that. Everybody is screwed up in some ways; sometimes it’s just more obvious, and Leonard firmly believes that no one likes to be reminded how fragile the mind can be.
Jim, Jim. Why is he here?
Of course, there’s only one way to find out—and it’s not getting five different stories from five lunatics.
Leonard cannot help the smile on his face, and he is very glad that it’s dark so Spock cannot declare how “fascinating” it is. Tomorrow he does have a date—with Admiral Pike.
Uhura settles onto Chekov’s bed and rests her feet on Scotty’s lap, who is on the floor below her. Sulu is bouncing around from one corner of the room to the next as Pavel directs him to “clean up for the guests.” She throws a practiced eye over the room, seeing nothing too terribly suspicious, and decides to let it go in lieu of the larger problem on their hands.
“Hikaru, sit down,” she says in Japanese, then repeats the sentiment to Chekov in Russian.
They both obey like puppies and that pleases her.
“The meeting is called to order, gentlemen,” she says, trying to imitate the Captain’s voice. It has the effect of making their eyes go wide in appreciation. She hides her smile.
Chekov rocks forward with “Where is the Captain?”
“The Captain can’t be here for this, Pavel, because it concerns him.” She pauses, notes their full attention (and probably Keenser’s too). “It also concerns Doctor McCoy and First Officer Spock.”
“Oooo…” Pavel is always one for secrets. That’s why Uhura likes him so much; they share gossip and she can update her log on the undercurrents of Fleet Heights. (She’ll admit that it makes her a little upset if the day’s entry remains blank.)
“What’s going on, Uhura? With the Captain, I mean?”
“Sulu, I’ll tell you—” She leans in and lowers her voice because she’s very knowledgable about secret spy stuff like this; Uhura always had a close eye and ear on every neighbor within a three mile radius of her mama’s house. “—Leonard won’t accept the Captain’s offer of marriage.”
Sulu and Pavel nod knowingly but Scotty blinks his ignorance. Uhura takes pity on her man, who thinks she’s beautiful (because she is); after all, he does spend a majority of his time in the Engine Room, fiddling away with those pipes. It’s a good thing Scotty was in his family’s plumbing business; that is, until an angry client called the authorities on Scotty and his father, and Scotty got sent here. (His family was very upset, he told her in confidence—another secret in her precious journal.)
“You all know that I decided to let Spock marry the Captain last Christmas.” They agree with her, as one. It was a big event, one that she is very proud of—her announcement to the cafeteria: Spock, I release you to the arms of Captain Kirk! “You also know that the Captain has always had two lovers.”
They all do; Kirk has tested each one of them, as they arrived—though Scotty is the exception because he was here before Kirk and that was a very, very long time ago. Uhura recalls being a little put-out that she wasn’t One of the Triumvirate, as the Captain liked to say; but she got over it, when Jim left and Spock arrived. But then Kirk came back and she had to get over it all over again. (It’s a small consolation that she knew Jim was on his way back—after all, she comprehends Klingon well enough and her trusty spy hearing-kit works marvels; Uhura can hear even through closed doors.)
“Well, Leonard McCoy is the third!”
Scotty blinks again, and says, “Oh.” Uhura frowns at him. He winces, tells her, “Sorry, lass, but I just don’t understand why the Captain needs ’em both. Can’t a man be satisfied with just one?”
“A normal man like yourself, yes, Mr. Scott,” she purrs in response and he blushes. “But we all know that the Captain is more than a normal man. He is our Captain and we don’t follow normal men!”
There is a chorus of No, we don’t!’s.
Uhura falls into her role with ease. “Captain Kirk has had a dream all his life—” Well, not quite, since he has thirteen or so (but that’s their little secret). “—of a starship called Enterprise and a crew just like us. We are his family; we love him. And he loves us, protects us as a father would his children.” She pauses to raise her chin. “The Captain needs one more, to cement our power in the Universe. The Captain needs Doctor McCoy.”
She looks each man in the eyes and finally says, “And it’s our job to make sure he gets McCoy.”
“How?” Pavel and Hikaru want to know.
This is why she’s in charge. “I have a plan, and it shall commence immediately!”
Uhura gets up, walks to the door, and surveys the outside. No one listening. Excellent. When she goes back to the huddled three, she looks down upon her men with fondness.
“What does a woman want most in the world?”
“No, Chekov, though that’s a good guess.”
“A man to devote his life to her?” Scotty tries. She rewards him with a bright smile and the words “Close—and while very true—not quite what I’m thinking.” Sulu doesn’t like the guessing game, so she lets his participation slide.
“A woman wants to be rescued,” she tells them. “The Captain has to rescue the Doctor from grave peril and he’ll love him forever!”
Sulu and Chekov are in awe of the triumph in her voice, but again, it’s Scotty who looks unsure. “McCoy isn’t a woman, Nyota,” he argues.
She indulges him with a wave of her hand, “Technicalities, Scotty. He’s still a man who’ll need to be rescued.”
“Really? Is he in trouble?”
She pulls her makeshift purse from the bed and unfolds a piece of paper from it. “This,” Uhura points, “is where we come in—and the Klingons.”
It’s very well-known that Nyota Uhura is a fantastic tactician, only second to the First Officer. It is the reason why, though she is currently Head of Communications, Uhura is on the command track too. Maybe it’s time to remind the Captain of that little fact.
A brilliant plan is discussed, tweaked, and set into motion.
“What can I do for you, McCoy?”
Leonard wastes no time. He shuts the door to Pike’s office and drags a chair up to the desk. “You can answer a few questions about Jim.”
“Leonard, you understand about patient confidentiality; here, at Fleet Heights, its adherence is even more necessary.”
He tries another approach. “As the Captain’s Doctor, it is my right to be privy to all of Jim’s medical history—and by medical, Pike, I mean mental as well as physical.”
Christopher Pike leans back in his chair, amused. “And do you truly provide Jim with care?”
Uh. “I could,” Leonard hedges.
“How fantastic. A man on the brink of self-destruction wants to oversee the health of my godchild. What kind of fool do you take me for?”
That’s it! If this asshole doesn’t want to play fair… “The kind of fool—excuse me, bastard—who traps a sane man in a nuthouse when it’s wrong.”
Pike’s nostrils flare. It is so reminiscent of one of Jim’s angry expressions that Leonard wonders just how long Jim has been in this man’s care, to pattern after him.
“It was Jim’s choice,” Pike tells him.
What? Leonard slowly relaxes his hands on the armrests of the chair and lets his body slump in a casual manner. Don’t give the Admiral any indication that you don’t know, Len. Don’t. Because Leonard was talking about himself and that Pike assumes he’s speaking of Jim is a misunderstanding that might get McCoy much further than he anticipated.
“Well, it was the wrong choice,” he tells Pike.
Pike rises from behind his desk and paces over to a bookshelf and back. (God, so much like Jim.) “Don’t you think I know that! Don’t you think I want better for my godson than to be locked up in this place the rest of his life!” he snaps at McCoy.
Leonard swallows to get his heart out of his throat. Uhura’s words suddenly flash back to him: …when the Captain came back. He says slowly, “Jim was released, but you just said that he made the decision to return.”
Pike frowns at him. “I wouldn’t say he just walked back in here and asked for a place to sleep. The kind of shit that kid pulled—I’m lucky Dr. Puri didn’t recommend a permanent padded cell for him in the Isolation unit.”
Len briefly closes his eyes. “Jim has a God-given talent for working people up. Tell me something I don’t know.”
Then Pike is narrowing his eyes at Leonard in such a way that has the doctor’s heart go thump-thump with nerves. “How about you tell me something, McCoy. Why am I having this discussion with one of my patients?” What makes you different than the rest?
Leonard decides to be honest. “Because I understand Jim’s decision a whole lot better than most, Sir. I played the doctors at St. John’s on purpose.”
There is a short silence in which Pike leans a hip against his desk, crosses his arms, and studies Leonard McCoy. “You realize that I could just accept your words as the talk of a crazy desperate man.”
“I am crazy,” Leonard tells him. “Why else would I want to be here? And I was desperate. My wife left me for my best friend and… the world just sort of fell to pieces. It wasn’t a place I wanted to be anymore.” He can’t explain it better than that.
“Suppose I believe you, McCoy. If by those standards, you are crazy, then so is Jim.”
Len smiles before he can stop himself. “I’ll agree with you there. The kid is a loon, alright. But he’s also more than that, though I wasn’t sure why.”
Pike nods in understanding. Leonard has him on his side, at the moment, so he takes advantage of that. “Why,” Leonard asks calmly, “was Jim put here in the first place?”
They’ve circled back around to the initial issue. Will Pike share that information with him? If not, Leonard has one more trump card to play.
“Maybe you should ask him to tell you,” Pike says with caution.
“And Jim’ll give me a straight answer? I think not.” Leonard decides to throw down the last card. “You told him about me, Pike, despite—and I quote—the confidentiality clause. It’s only fair to tell me about James Kirk.”
Pike drops his head, and Leonard feels a brief satisfaction at his win. He doesn’t make the mistake of letting it show on his face.
“Jim’s father died in a farming accident. I know, because I was there visiting at the time. George—that was his name—was and always shall be my best friend. Winona was pregnant with Jim, and the shock and stress of George’s death sent her into early labor. Jim was born in this world without knowing his father, and I have tried very hard to fill the gap for him.”
Leonard tightens his jaw and locks down his painfully trembling heart.
“Winona eventually remarried just for that reason—to give Jim a father. But Frank—” Pike spits the name out like a bad taste in his mouth. “—was a selfish son-of-a-bitch who didn’t give a shit about being a dad to a young boy.” Pike stops to get himself under control.
“And?” Leonard prompts after the silence goes on for too long.
“And Winona left one summer when Jim was thirteen, for training in a new position at work—she was so happy about it, about the better pay and being able to afford to leave Iowa one day.”
Leonard sees where this is going. “What did that bastard do to Jim?” His hands want to shake but he clutches the armrests with all of his strength.
“Frank had a temper and Jim was good at pissing him off. Took out his car and turned it over into a ditch.”
Running through the possibilities of injuries, on instinct, makes Len feel ill, imagining a young broken Jim. Pike seems to know what Len is thinking about, because he assures the man, “Just broke his arm. This was right before Winona left, so Frank was waiting to punish Jim—only no one knew it.”
Len wonders if Jim did, back then, and begged his mother not to leave him with Frank. He shudders.
“Frank locked him in a grain silo for almost two months.”
“Jesus.” There is bile in the back of his mouth. “How come no one—”
“Frank was mean as Hell but not dumb; he’d let Jim out to take Winona’s phone calls and he gave the boy water, scraps of food. It’s a miracle Jim didn’t die of dehydration in there, or suffocate from the heat.”
Jim Kirk has a strong will, they both know that. But his mind…
“It’s my fault, Leonard, because I was supposed to visit that summer. Winona asked me to, just to check in with Jimmy, and I—I had just started here. I didn’t get out to Iowa until much too late.” Pike ages in the light of his self-blame.
Leonard has no consoling words for the man, because there aren’t any. “And Jim had a mental break-down?”
“You know, to this day, I’m not entirely sure. He was in the dark, starving in the heat, for so long. I think he lived in his mind, in a fantasy that helped him escape.”
“The space ship.”
“Yes. An idea that Jim has loved since he was a child; he used to have an entire collection of sci-fi novels in his bedroom.”
It makes too much sense. Captain Kirk in the deep black of space, with a loyal crew, villains to fight and worlds to save. What child wouldn’t want to be a hero? A truth strikes Len so hard, he has to suppress a gasp. If Jim had grown up normally, without the tarnish of incarceration in a mental institution, then James T. Kirk would have become a hero, no doubt—would have been a great man that others aspired to be like. And this reality makes Len ache for Jim and what could have been.
It also intensifies his hate for the stepfather called Frank—if that’s possible.
“At least tell me the bastard got what he deserved.”
“He’s still in prison. I won’t say that it is what the man deserved, Leonard, because I came very close to killing him myself. But I couldn’t lose my only chance to help Jim survive, to keep him here with me.”
Len nods. There are so many more questions he could ask, should ask—like did Jim make us up too, this supposed triad with Spock and me? But he has had all the heartache his mind can handle right now. Leonard wants to be alone, to think—and to grieve for that child named Jimmy.
He pulls himself up out of the chair, tells Pike thank you. As his hand is on the doorknob, turning it, Pike says to Leonard, “Jim has created a world in which he can live safely, can control, and he does so. But don’t assume that he fails to recognize the line between what’s real and what isn’t—because he does. All those things he imagines, Leonard, they are his hopes and dreams. Don’t assume, either, that just because Jim desires Doctor McCoy that he doesn’t want Leonard. You would be very wrong.”
He cannot reply to that, nor does Pike expect him to—but he thinks of nothing else for the next hour, as he does a slow walk through the corridors of the second floor.
Just when dinner-time is closing in, Leonard sighs and steps back from the window (it’s raining outside). He is turning a corner when he hears “Doctor McCoy!”
“Chekov?” Pavel is staring at him with wide anxious eyes. “What is it?”
“Don’t turn around, Sir. I’m very sorry!”
Huh? “What are you bab—” There is an explosion of pain in the back of his head, and his knees buckle. He catches a glimpse of someone dropping to their knees beside him, but blackness consumes all thought thereafter.
“Perhaps you hit him too hard, Scotty.” Pavel is beside the sprawled, unconscious Doctor McCoy, patting the man’s back as a show of apology.
“I dinnae mean to, lad. I’ve never done that before!” Mr. Scott juggles the wrench in nervous hands. “Should we move him? Do you think… he’s alright?”
Pavel continues his petting because it’s soothing his own anxiety. “I think so. In Russia, the princess never dies before the prince rescues her.”
Scotty blinks at him. “You mean she does afterward?”
“Sometimes,” Chekov answers.