Title: A World of Crazy (9/10)
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.
Previous Part: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
Naught But Us
Eventually Leonard’s voice grew strained and he had to stop. Left in the deafening silence, with a monstrous headache and shredded nerves, the doctor lets his mind wander. Perhaps, at some point, he drops into a despondent sleep because Leonard finds himself in a place that cannot possibly be real.
It’s a house—a large, gorgeous three-story home with a wrap-around porch. Leonard opens his eyes to the rocking of the swing beneath him. He blinks at the sunlight on the grass in the yard beyond and his brain says that the air is fresh. There’s a giggle to his left and he catches the glint of blonde hair along the edge of the porch.
“Hey there.” Len keeps his voice quiet.
A cute little girl peeks over the edge with dirty hands and mischievous twinkling eyes. “I see you, Daddy!” she tells him before scampering off into the yard.
If Leonard had thought peace at last, then he is sorely mistaken. Inside his chest, there is a familiar ache for a wish he will never have.
The staccato click-click of heels rap along the wooden porch but Leonard doesn’t have the heart to look up. Someone settles beside him on the swing. From the corner of his eye, he can see neatly shaped pink nails in an aproned lap. “Hello, Leo.” He shudders at the sound of that voice.
She settles against the back-boards, crossing her lovely legs. The outfit on Joce is wrong, Len thinks, because she hated long dresses and simple patterns.
“This isn’t real,” he tells her.
“Yes,” she agrees. Finding a meager scrap of courage, he looks at her face, studies the soft smile playing on those pink lips. (The color is a match.)
“So I’m just torturing myself.”
Wonderful. Bad enough to tortured by others; now Len’s brain is purposefully screwing with him. Why?
“This is what you wanted one day, Leonard. This is what you wanted from me—a warm home and a beautiful child.”
Yes, he did; though Leonard never dared bring it up with Jocelyn because the one time he mentioned it (hopeful), she stared at him like he was a stranger. You’re going to be a doctor, Leo, she told him. And I’ll be a lawyer; we’ll live in the kind of society that we should have been privileged to! That’s what we want, Leonard.
“It was a dream,” the woman with Jocelyn’s face says. “A foolish dream.”
He shoves fingers through his hair, head hanging in tired resignation. A hand comes to rest on his thigh, squeezes it. He takes the hand into his own, runs his thumb along the knuckles.
“So I’m telling myself to let go, huh?”
“Yeah, Bones, you are.”
His head snaps up and he stares at the Jocelyn-now-turned-Jim.
“Jimmy?” Those blue eyes (like the backdrop of the bright sky) are smiling at him with compassion. “Why are you here?”
“I’m always here, with you.” He taps Len’s forehead with his other hand—the one which Len isn’t clinging to, has forgotten to release.
“Present also, Leonard.”
He had assumed that stretching shadow on his right was a porch column. He finally notices that no part of the house casts a shadow; only Leonard does, Jim too, and that third that he had failed to see, overlapping the two upon the white-wash of the porch.
First Jocelyn tells him he’s been living in fantasyland too long—that Len can accept. Maybe it is time to start the healing process. But why in the name of Hell are Jim and Spock on his mind? Why—
Why should they be here? Why does he want them with him?
Is he actually considering their offer?
“What!” he snaps, but the word doesn’t come out as satisfactorily loud as he wants. He wakes up on the floor of his padded cell.
“Bones, can you hear me?”
Holy shit, Jim?
“Jim!” Len struggles in the straight-jacket for a moment before he gives up and rolls onto his knees. “Jim, you’d better get me out of here right now or so help me, God, ya’ll haven’t seen CRAZY!” Again, he doesn’t think he’s as menacing as he hopes; his voice is pathetically weak.
There are mumbled words like “Spock, did you get—” and that wonderful solid “Affirmative.” Shit, it is Jim and Spock. He wonders if he kisses them, they’ll take it as more than the happiness of a freed man.
Leonard ignores the protest of his brain sloshing around in his head as he stands up. Stupid concussion, stupid jacket, stupid…
“Bones, just hold on, okay? Spock’s got the ring of keys but we need just a minute—”
He leans against the door. How strange, this tingling at the sound of Jim’s voice so close. If only… “Spock? Spock, can you say something?”
“What do you require me to say, Doctor?”
“Nevermind, that’s all I needed to hear.” He smiles at the thought of Spock trying to puzzle out his words.
“Okay, just—Hey—I think this is—”
Leonard’s ears pick up a muted (angry) shout in the background and just as his stomach drops, Spock says, “Captain, the Klingon that escaped has returned with reinforcements.”
Oh God. “Jim,” Leonard calls with urgency. “Jim, just forget about me; you and Spock get the Hell away from here!”
“No way, Bones.”
“Yes way, you damn fool! Jim? JIM, LISTEN TO ME—” That crazy blond-haired maniac shouts, then, but it isn’t at the doctor, he knows. There is a sharp “Captain!” from Spock and then the sound of them are drowned in a hulabuloo of noise.
Leonard jumps back as something large slams into the metal door. Fuck fuck fuck! “Jim!” he yells. “Spock!” Goddamn it, if he could only rip this stupid jacket off! Len stumbles back into a padded wall and lets out a frustrated yell. He can’t stand to listen to the fighting, not knowing, not being able to help.
If only there were a way!
He spins at the clear warning of locks being disengaged on his door. Leonard leaps forward, about fall into the person opening the door when it swings backward (barely misses the side of his body) and someone smacks into him. They go tumbling down, and Len’s vision darks momentarily to gray even though he manages to twist and fall on his shoulder, to keep his head off the floor.
His sight clears in time to see Spock shoved into the cell and the highlight of a terribly familiar figure. Hatred swells in Leonard.
“You fucking bastard!” he spits between groans.
“Don’t say I never did anything for you, McCoy. Now you’ve got company. Enjoy.” The door swings shut again and, at least, Len cannot see that sick smile on Puri’s face.
“Jim?” he whispers. “Spock? Can you check on Jim? I can’t—”
The Vulcan reaches under Len first and sits him up. Spock stares at him for a second before turning to Kirk. He rolls the man onto his back. Jim’s out cold, his jaw starting to swell.
“Help me outta this thing so I can look at him.”
Spock undoes the buckles along his back and sides. As soon as the sleeves go slack and Len can unwrap his arms, he shudders with relief. “Thank you, Spock,” he says quietly. Long fingers rub the back of his neck briefly, then disappear up into his hair.
“You are injured.” How can a man sound so grave?
“S’alright, Spock. It’s getting better,” he lies.
Spock, thank God, doesn’t argue with him. Len knows he cannot handle anger right now. He bends over Kirk and runs his fingers along the side of his face, probing. “Did Jim strike his head?”
“I do not know.”
McCoy checks for bumps, feeling around the back of his skull. “Seems okay to me. That’s good. We don’t need two out of three with head-trauma. That sets the odds against us.”
“Leonard,” Spock is solemn, “the likelihood of our escape is—”
“—slim. Yeah, I know, but a man can hope.” Leonard did hope; he hoped for Jim and Spock and now he’s got them both… with him in Hell. Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate what he wishes for.
Pike is about to skip waiting on the director and break McCoy out of Isolation himself—consequences be damned. That Jim and Spock are not with the group of sad-faced patients makes him take deep breaths. Because neither man plays by the rules and Chris has a fairly good idea what they’re up to. He just hopes that he can fix this mess in time.
“Tell Dr. Puri—” Pike is cut off from his instructions to the secretary when the director’s voice floats over his shoulder.
“You wanted to see me, Pike?”
“Dr. Puri, yes. We’ve made a serious mistake.” He knows better than to say you did, because Puri easily takes offense.
“In what way? No—let’s discuss this in my office. With me, Pike.”
Pike lets Dr. Puri proceed ahead of him, and Chris quietly motions his pack of—well, Jim’s crew, he supposes—to follow. The secretary just gapes as he leads four mentally deranged people in the office labeled Director of Fleet Heights. Puri turns around too late, as Scotty closes the door and announces “Klingon Ambassador, Sir, you’ve captured the wrong man. I’m the one ye be lookin’ for!”
Pike tries to shush the upset denials from Scotty’s friends.
“Pike, what is this? Do you understand how many regulations you’ve broken, by allowing these—”
“—patients,” Pike says with a warning in his tone. “I am fully aware of my actions, Puri, make no mistake of that.”
Puri looks disgusted as he takes a seat behind his desk. “I hope, for the sake of your job, that the reason is sufficient.”
Chris tells him, “Leonard McCoy does not belong in Isolation.”
“Oh?” Puri’s eyebrow goes up with interest though Pike knows from experience that this rat of a man couldn’t care less about the patients of Fleet Heights. He’s in the job for the money and the power he can have over others, weakened by illness. Well, Pike’s not ill and he’s had enough of Puri’s games.
“McCoy attacked no one.”
“That’s right,” Scotty interrupts. “‘Twas me, Sir.”
“I told him to!” Uhura wails as she clutches Scotty as if the man might be dragged away at any moment.
“And who’s to say that one of your… patients isn’t lying, Pike?”
“I hit him! I hit him!” Scotty pushes to the front and leans over the desk. Puri draws back like the man is a leper.
Pike pulls Scotty away, turns him around. “What? You hit McCoy?” The man nods, his head down with shame.
“On the head, Admiral, wid one of me tools.”
Pike turns on the director. “Why is McCoy in Isolation if he’s injured?”
“I have no knowledge of the matter; besides, the warden of Isolation would have notified me, and McCoy would have been taken immediately to the resident nurse, I’m sure.”
The man’s lying through his teeth. Pike lets his gaze bore into Puri’s. “Of course, Sir. You understand that I will have to check on McCoy myself, to verify the situation.”
It’s a snake’s smile that Puri gives him. “Certainly. Be my guest, Christopher. If, for any reason, you find fault with McCoy’s treatment, please feel free to discuss the matter with me. I try to provide the best care for our residents here at Fleet Heights.”
Pike nods, expressionless, and snaps to the crew, “Retreat.”
Thankfully, they give him no argument or struggle, filing out the director’s office. Pike herds them to the elevator, but does not call it as the pager on his hip gives a sharp little buzz. So he waits, there in the hallway; they all do—Pike and the Captain’s crew—for five minutes in which Pike lays a calming hand on whoever starts fidgeting. The secretary pretends to ignore them but she takes small peeks at the odd group as she shuffles papers on her desk.
Five minutes until Puri comes out of his office, stops at the sight of Christopher Pike and four blinking, pajama-clad people under his command.
“Pike, what are you doing?”
“For me? Did you have another matter—”
“No, not for you.” The elevator dings—like a gift from a god with a perfect sense of timing. Pike greets the newcomer. “Puri, you remember Doctor Phillip Boyce, don’t you?”
Puri’s eyes are switching back and forth between Pike and Boyce. He says, “It’s an honor, Doctor Boyce, to have you here. I was unaware that you rescheduled your yearly visit—”
“Oh, this is an unannounced call, Dr. Puri,” Boyce tells him. “Chris asked me to come around to check on Jimmy and his friends.”
Pike smiles at Dr. Puri, for the first time in years.
“James Kirk?” The director’s face is rapidly losing color.
“Sure. Bright kid and always into trouble like his godfather!” Boyce pats Pike’s shoulder with a friendly hand. “You know, Chris, you still owe me a game of golf.”
“To be reconciled, Phil, I promise. But Jim’s having a bit of a time today.”
“Oh?” There is no surprise in Boyce’s face. Puri is the one (sane) person present who seems shocked.
“Yes. I’m afraid he’s in Isolation.” Pike doesn’t need to see Puri’s face to confirm his suspicions.
Boyce is already pushing the button to the elevator. “Well, that just won’t do.” Phil Boyce motions Dr. Puri to come up the front of the crowd, and then turns to the wide-eyed Chekov who has crept very close to the man’s side. “Hello there, son. I don’t believe I’ve meet you. You are…?”
“Lieutenant-Commander Pavel Chekov, Sir! Navigator on the Captain’s Enterprise!”
“Well met, Lieutenant Chekov.” Boyce pulls the kid’s hand from salute position and shakes it firmly. “I am Doctor Boyce, from the Department of Mental Health in Georgia. You’re serving under a fine Captain, Chekov.”
“We know, Sir!”
The elevator dings. Pike waves over the secretary—who has been gaping from around the corner of filing cabinet. “Watch them,” he tells her and ushers Dr. Puri into the elevator with Boyce.
“But, Mr.—” The door closes on whatever plea the woman was about to make. While Pike hopes that Uhura, Sulu, Chekov and Scotty will be okay, he has to focus on the other three under his supervision, who take priority at the moment.
Dr. Puri is sweating and not attempting small talk with Boyce in the least. On that score, Chris can be proud. He and Boyce have been building a case against Puri for a long time. He only wishes that it didn’t have to culminate like this, at the expense of three innocent minds.
Jim wakes up to a hand stroking his hair. He turns his head, sees Bones with arms wrapped around a bent knee; he has the grumpiest scowl Jim has seen yet-to-date.
Jim rolls his head back into position and blinks up at the dark eyes watching him. “Hey, Spock,” he says. “Thanks.”
The hand ceases movement, which makes Jim frown. “You are welcome, Jim. My mother believed one may calm another through a simple gesture of physical contact; after careful study, I must conclude that she was correct.”
Jim smiles. Spock rarely discusses his family, in particular his mother. Jim only knows that she died when Spock was a teenager and that he loved her very much. He pictures a young Spock comforted within the arms of a dark-haired woman, perhaps in the wake of a nightmare. (Jim thinks of his own mother, then, rocking him in the hospital during the bad periods.)
“How do you feel, Jim?” He turns his attention back to the present, to Bones.
“Are you okay, Bones?”
“I asked first.”
He likes Spock’s lap, feels pretty comfortable. Why bother testing the annoying aches and pains? Instead Jim answers, “My jaw hurts like I got punched… which I did punched so…”
Ah, there’s that loveable snort of disbelief. Surely, Bones knows by now that Jim is perfectly capable of joking about his own injuries. (Better to laugh than cry, right?)
“Any effect on your vision, intense pain, or—”
“—nausea?” he finishes. “No, I didn’t whack my head, Bones. I’m fine, really.”
“The Doctor has such symptoms, Captain.”
Jim sits up immediately. “They hurt you!” Oh those mother-fuckers! He reaches for Bones before his brain goes No! and reminds him why touching is a bad idea. (Because McCoy takes it as a bad idea; that truth still hurts Jim, much more than his sore jaw.)
Bones groans, but it’s with exasperation and not pain. “Spock, you tattle-tell. All you’re gonna do is raise the kid’s blood pressure—not to mention mine! Besides,” he looks at Jim, “it wasn’t Puri’s goons—it was yours, Jim.”
He swallows, asks in a rough voice, “Which one?” Oh, that betrayal is sharply painful too, like a knife twisting in his heart.
“Don’t know. Chekov warned me and apologized, I think, but whoever clobbered me did it from behind.” Bones’ voice goes quiet at the end.
“I—I’m sorry, Bones. I never wanted you to get hurt. I didn’t think…”
“That’s right, Jim, you don’t think.”
The knife drives a little deeper.
Spock interrupts with “Doctor.” His tone is warning enough, but Jim assures him, “It’s okay, Spock. Bones is right.”
McCoy sighs (probably at them both). “Look, what I mean is, you have to understand that your crew won’t react as expected.”
Oh, Jim knows that; he loves that about his crew—their wildness, difference; it’s like a swirl of color in an otherwise black and white world.
“They’re going to do crazy shit and people can get hurt, like me, because they don’t know better. I imagine that they thought they were helping—” Bones gestures at his head with a grimace. “—for whatever cockamamie reason. It probably wasn’t malicious, just dumb.”
Is he serious? “You’re in a padded cell—” Jim glances around for the first time, realizes, we’re in a padded cell and tries to shove down a sudden rush of bad memories. “—with a concussion, and you’re saying I should forgive them for doing this to you?”
The doctor laughs lowly. “Oh, I’m pissed, never fear. I want to blame them, Jim, I really do. But somehow, I don’t think I’m going to be able to. Just don’t expect me to sleep with both eyes closed ever again.”
“If you apologize one more time, you are going to have a concussion,” the doctor grumps.
Jim cannot help himself. “Sorry.” He doesn’t even have to pull back to avoid the half-hearted swat. It’s easier to ignore the looming walls and locked door if he keeps talking, or they talk to him. Jim settles himself between the pair—his Vulcan and his Doctor—and wipes sweaty palms on his pants.
“Jim, are you ill?”
Good ol’ Spock, ever observant.
“No,” he says, throwing him a quick grin.
When McCoy takes his wrist in hand, it’s like an electric jolt. (Bones is touching him.) “What’re you doing?”
“Checking your pulse, stupid.”
Jim doubts the man needs to do that when his heartbeat sounds so loud to his own ears.
“Your diagnosis, Doctor?”
Wait, what? “Okay, enough play-time, boys. I’m the Captain and I say we need to focus on an escape plan.”
“Sure, Jim; let me know when you come up with something brilliant that won’t get us killed. In the meantime, I want you to focus on breathing deeply through your nose.”
Maybe that’s not such a bad idea, because he does feel a little out of breath. “You’re the doctor, Doctor.” That doesn’t come out as funny as he’d planned, not in his thick voice.
“Jim, don’t worry, you won’t be in here long.” Bones is patting his hand. It feels surreal. (Jim’s body is not shivering, not at all.) “Spock and I are here, right here with you.” Why is Bones talking to him like that, so quietly? It sounds like—
“I’m not crazy,” he tells them. “And this is real.”
“Yep,” Bones agrees. “Very real. Trust me, the brains leaking out my ears are definitely saying this is real.”
Jim’s eyes pop open, and he flicks his eyes over Bones’ face. “Don’t tease me like that!”
McCoy doesn’t look repentant in the least—or sound it either—when he grins and says, “That’s better.”
Something inside Jim settles, fits back into place. There is a period of comfortable silence, in which Jim leans his head back and listens to both men breathe on either of him. It’s reassuring, to know he’s not alone. (Or that he’s not imagining it, like before.) Then, for some strange reason, the words just start tumbling out his mouth.
“It was like this, in Iowa.” He cannot say in the silo because his brain fills with images that terrify him. (They didn’t stay in Iowa long, after Frank was taken away.) “I’d picture the two of you, just this way, with me. We were best friends, you know.”
A shoulder shifts by his, touching.
“When I was still a kid, we were friends.” He smiles, “Captain Kirk and his two trusty sidekicks.”
“I’m not a sidekick,” Bones grunts.
“I think I even imagined you saying that to me, Bones,” Jim says with a hint of secret delight. “Though I’m not sure I ever pictured you this irritable.”
“That’s what happens, Jim. You get the unexpected.”
Jim makes a split-second decision. He pulls the doctor’s fingers from his wrist (Bones forgot to let go, and Jim wasn’t about to remind him) and locks them into his own. “I got something better. I got you.”
Too close to a truth, he knows, that Leonard McCoy cannot handle quite yet. So Jim turns his head to Spock. “And you were the brainy one, Spock.”
“I bet he wasn’t a Vulcan,” Bones adds.
“Nope, but I think I like having a Vulcan partner.”
“It is my pleasure to please you, Captain.”
“Much thanks, Mr. Spock.”
“Jim.” There’s a tug on his fingers.
“Why didn’t we stay your best friends?”
The answer is simple, really. One in which he feels no shame. “I grew up, and I was here at Fleet Heights. I was lonely.” One day the fantasy just changed; it was rather easy, smooth almost, the transistion from friends to lovers.
“And having just one didn’t suit you?” How can Bones make a question sound so gentle?
“No,” he tells the man. “I loved you both—and I couldn’t give up either of you.”
Bones turns slowly on his side; his eyes are very sad, it makes Jim want to hold him until the sadness passes. “Jim—” He loves the way Bones says his name, different than Spock, but just as right. “—I am not a fantasy lover,” the doctor tells him. “I am a real man.”
Jim wants to kiss him, but doesn’t. “I know. For that I’m grateful.”
“I just don’t think I can be what you imagine I am.”
“Do you think that Spock is what I imagine him to be? Spock?” He reaches up and runs a hand along Spock’s jaw. “What were the results of your last mental health evaluation?”
Spock quotes: “Submersive schizophrenia, most notably characterized by patient’s augmented delusional state and emotional disassociation.”
“And what does that mean?” Jim asks him to clarify.
Spock blinks. “I am Vulcan.”
“Precisely.” Jim kisses Spock with his fingertips in proper Vulcan fashion. “I imagine you to be just what you are.” Jim smiles back at McCoy. “I’m nothing, if not adaptive, Bones.”
“You mean, you’ll take us as you can get us.”
“No, I mean I’ll put up with your mood swings, Bones, because it’s part of the package deal. You don’t have to be someone you aren’t.”
Bones closes his eyes and says, “Keep on convincing me, Jim.”
“Okay. How about the saying… Two is better than one, and three is better than two!”
“I think you tacked on something there.”
“But it works, right?”
“Spock, help me out here.”
“The Doctor and I have spoken on this matter; Leonard is aware of the facts.”
“Facts! Why, you arrogant, green-blooded—”
Bang-bang! Bones is cut-off mid-rebuttal and Jim wiggles out from his position between Spock and McCoy. They all hear the loud “Jim!”
A strange sense of déjà-vu washes over Kirk. He recalls the voice, half-weeping his name (Jimmy), soft and choked; it woke him up from his dream, to the world, that voice; and it was a man’s strong arms (Chris’s) that carried his dry, brittle body from the sweltering darkness and rotting grain into the sunlight. He can almost remember and not hurt, sometimes, from the remembering. The cell door swings open, and Jim smiles. This time, when he leaves his prison behind, he has more than just the fragments of a strong desire—something more precious than a glorious starship, the name Captain and a faint ring of cheering from millions of voices across the galaxy.
He has two real, flesh-and-blood hands in his own.
Who wants an epilogue? :D