Title: Never Lost Just Found (4/?)
Fandom: Star Trek AOS
Summary: FH!verse (AU); Sequel to A World of Crazy. Christmas Eve approaches.
Previous Part: 1 | 2 | 3
McCoy tries not to spit out his grape juice. When Scotty had offered him a drink, he’d been prepared to turn the man down. Then the Engineer had dug around in a box and pulled out two juice boxes. Len couldn’t help but laugh at himself for his assumptions.
Sure. Hard liquor in an insane asylum. Just what the psychologists ordered, no doubt.
Turns out that Mr. Scott is an amiable man once you get him on the subject of plumbing. In the thirty minutes since Leonard arrived in Engineering—actually, the boiler room—he’s learned more about the antique piping system of Fleet Heights than he ever needed (or wanted) to know. But Scotty seems happy enough with his little tool kit, and from the looks of things actually does a decent job keeping up the maintenance down here. (Len will have to remember to ask Pike if the repairman on the payroll is aware of this patient’s tinkering.)
Scotty blinks at him, once, twice and says, “What?”
“Did you just congratulate me?”
“Sure, lad. Congratulations,” the man repeats before turning back to twisting his wrench on some connection or other.
Not the answer he’d been expecting. How does “So what do I need to do to help the Captain and First Officer?” translate into a “Not a thing. We’re takin’ care of the details, laddie. Ye just sit back and accept our congratulations”?
Now he’s really confused and just a little more than afraid.
The engineer grunts and switches out his tool for another.
Len reaches over and slides the tool kit away from his companion. When Mr. Scott attempts to find a monkey wrench, his hand gropes only air.
“Doctor! What are ye doing?”
“You can have these back when you finish answering my questions.”
It’s then that the man seems to realize he shouldn’t be talking to Doctor McCoy. “Uhura’ll get mad.”
“Well, you can tell Nyota that I forced you to talk.” Len picks up a tool and dangles it precariously from one finger. “What would you say if this accidentally ended up… outside?”
“No! Please, I dinnae—please—”
Leonard feels kind of bad, at that moment, as Scotty looks horrified and close to tears. “It’s alright, I’m not going to do anything to your tools, Scotty. But—” He slumps over in his chair. “—you have to understand that bad things can happen if I’m not aware of what’s going on.” He catches Scotty’s eyes, holds them. “Just like a couple of months ago. You could have killed me.”
Maybe it’s not fair to bring that up, not when he knows how upset Scotty is over the whole ordeal. But how else is Leonard going to figure out how to make the man understand, make him explain?
“I cannae tell ye everything.”
“Okay. Then tell me what you are able to, and I’ll leave you to your work.”
There is a minute of silence between them as Leonard watches the man scrub at his forehead. (Jesus, Scotty’s sweating. This really must be a big plan.)
“A’right!” And the man—this friend (isn’t that strange?)—begins to talk.
Oh fucking shit.
Leonard knows that it’s been too long since he left Jim and Spock. (“Just going to piss, go on back t’sleep, Jimmy.”) Eventually the kid will figure out one of his bed-warmers is missing and then get Spock riled up.
How Leonard supposed to go back up to that room and pretend he knows nothing?
There is an even bigger question, a true complication that twists his stomach into knots, but if he gives into those thoughts, he’ll be little more than a nervous wreck shivering all night in the stairwell. (OhGodohgodohgod.)
Len closes his eyes and swallows. He wishes he’d never asked. He wishes… Hell, he CAN’T wish for that because what if, on Christmas Eve, he’d been standing there like the oblivious dupe on whom Jim and Spock had hinged their (fucking devious) plan?
Hey, Bones, Len hears in his head, let’s get hitched!
Marriage—even a sham or pretense of a marriage—scares the shit out of him. Half a year ago he had been married and dreaming of children. (How can they do this to him?)
He trusted both Jim and Spock to take it slow; so far they had proven that they understand how sensitive McCoy is about becoming entangled in a relationship (about opening his heart again). It’s as if everything he thought he knew about them—those annoying men that are squirming their way under his skin—is wrong. As if they are strangers after all. He shudders at the thought that he made a terrible mistake in letting them persuade him to start this “triad.”
Is it because Len is so needy for love that he couldn’t say no?
Is it because Len wants to believe that there might be people in the world who won’t abandon him, stopping loving him?
(Oh God, why?)
In the end, he drags himself first to the bathroom to wash the taste of (bitter) grape out of his mouth. If Leonard stares at himself longer than necessary in the bathroom mirror, he’s only taking stock of his pale face and terrified eyes. Once back in his room, he manages to slide onto the edge of the bed without alerting either occupant, his brain racing in unhappy little circles.
Jim rolls against his back, says sleepily “Bones” and is out like a light again. Len wants to cry. Instead, he grips the blanket in shaking hands, forcing the upset roiling of his stomach to subside. He doesn’t fall asleep, simply lies awake and wonders…
How is he going to stop this?
“You seen Bones?”
“Leonard informed me of an ’emergency’ meeting this morning.”
Jim frowns. “With who?”
“He did not provide this information, Jim.”
Kirk sits in silence for a few minutes, pushing the food around on his plate. “Did you notice how strange he was acting this morning?”
Spock’s eyebrow goes up.
“He didn’t yell at me when I picked up his toothbrush,” Jim clarifies. “He always does.”
“Captain.” Spock switches his tone (almost imperceptible to anyone else but Jim), “Are you aware that Doctor McCoy left our room during Beta shift for approximately fifty three point nine minutes?”
The other man goes very still. “No,” he answers quietly. “I remember him muttering about the bathroom.”
Spock turns to face Jim. “He returned, Sir, smelling of a particular fruit most commonly—”
Jim makes a noise, goes pale. They both turn to look down the table at the Engineer who is oblivious to their scrutiny. On his tray sits an innocuous red-and-blue juice box.
“Grape,” Jim breathes, horrified.
“Yes, Jim.” Spock’s voice is lower than usual.
The Captain drops his fork with a clatter and pushes away from the table. Spock is not far behind.
The Engineer blinks up at them. They three must be a sight—two pale Humans locked in a stare and a Vulcan sneaking up behind his enemy.
“Captain,” Scotty answers nervously.
Jim bends down, his fists planted on the table and leans in close to the wide-eyed officer. “Tell me about your meeting with Doctor McCoy, Mr. Scott.”
“I dinnae say anything—”
A Vulcan hand comes to rest on the Engineer’s shoulder and, if anything, Scotty looks more terrified. “Scotty,” Jim says too softly.
Uhura breaks into the scene, disbelief coloring her voice, and walks straight to Scotty’s side. She glares at Spock until the Vulcan removes his hold on her man and places his hands behind his back.
“Uhura, don’t interfere,” Jim snaps.
She turns cold dark eyes on Kirk. “Are you questioning Mr. Scott based on more than an assumption?”
Kirk says nothing.
Uhura pulls Scotty to his feet. She tells both of her commanding officers, “When you two quit acting like Klingon bastards, then you know where to find us.“
They watch, Jim and Spock, as the only clue to a potentially upsetting situation with their third disappears from sight.
McCoy waits until the secretary rounds the corner of a filing cabinet before he dashes into the little hallway and through the targeted door.
M’Benga blinks up at him from behind a desk piled high with papers and books. Rather than calling down the orderlies to deal with a runaway patient, as M’Benga’s predecessor Dr. Puri would have done, the man simply puts down his pen and asks “Yes?” as if having mentally unstable patients burst into his office is an everyday occurrence.
Maybe it is; maybe Jim’s done this more than once, Len thinks wryly.
He clears his throat. “Sir…”
“Please, Leonard, have a seat. And call me Geoff.” The man gestures at the empty chair across from him. He also warns McCoy, “Mr. Pike will be arriving shortly for our weekly meeting. I’d say you have only ten minutes to tell me your side of the story.”
Holy Jesus on a cracker, the man is smiling at him.
Leonard gingerly sits down like a man expecting a trap. Then he tells the man, easily enough, “There’s no crisis.”
Did he just imagine the Director’s (relieved) slump of shoulders?
Nope, definitely didn’t imagine that. Leonard actually feels a bit sorry for this man. Being Director to a band of adventurous loons like James Kirk cannot be an easy task.
“Geoff,” Len begins, “have you read my file?”
“An interesting case study,” M’Benga remarks as he leans down, unlocks a drawer, and hmms for a minute before dropping a large manila folder onto his desk.
Leonard stares at it. Damn. Why is it so fat? Surely he’s not that crazy. (Oh God, what if he is?)
M’Benga leans forward, speaks to him in a slightly cheerful (odd) tone. “You are an interesting case, Mr. McCoy, because your condition is quite… unexpected for a man with your history.”
“Yes.” The Director flips open the file, reads off a list of Leonard’s accomplishments.
McCoy stares at him like he’s the crazy one. “You know that means nothing, right?”
“Does it?” M’Benga pulls out a pair of reading glasses, sets them just so on the end of his nose and continues riffling through the papers.
“Yes,” Leonard answers suspiciously. “Just ’cause I seemed like a normal man doesn’t mean my craziness wasn’t brewing until just the right moment.”
The other man makes a noise of agreement.
Leonard switches tactics. “My wife left me.”
The Director shoots him a look over the top of his glasses. (Len finds it hard to decipher.) “A lot of people end up divorced, McCoy.”
“So I’m just a statistic.” He doesn’t attempt to sugar-coat the bitterness in his voice. Another man dumped by his loving wife.
“No. On the contrary, you are the oddity.” M’Benga leans back, watching Leonard with something akin to sympathy in his eyes. “Of those who do suffer through the betrayal of a spouse and divorce, you are the one who admits himself into the mental hospital for help.”
Leonard’s smirk is ironic. “Wouldn’t say I admitted myself, Geoff…”
“It is normal for a person to feel depression, anger, or any number of concentrated emotions. It’s part of the psyche, how the mind copes with trauma.” M’Benga stares him down. “Most people handle their feelings through counseling and medication.”
McCoy snorts. “Isn’t that what I’m gettin’ here, Doc?” He tries for a laugh but Geoff isn’t playing along.
“Over time, the mental imbalance subsides—is easier to deal with—and the person can resume a normal standard of living. You, on the other hand, seem to feel it necessary to join an institution. Tell me, Leonard, why is that?”
This is not how Len expected this conversation to go. He was going to confess his sins, suffer through a derisive laugh or two, and then demand a psych-evaluation (even though the new quarter is still one month away).
He didn’t expect M’Benga to be one step ahead of him.
“You talked to Chris.”
Dr. Geoffrey M’Benga chuckles. “Chris merely told me that you were a special patient which, given your floormates, piqued my interest. I’ve done a little more research on you than required by my position. I find you… fascinating.”
Leonard scowls, because damned if the man isn’t making a secret of enjoying himself and his patients’ quirks. (Len is insulted on Spock’s behalf, though he’d deny it if asked.)
“Well.” Leonard decides that he ought to concoct an Escape Plan B and stands up. “Been nice chatting, Doctor. I’m sure my ten minutes are up.”
“McCoy, what is it you that you wanted to address specifically?”
“Doesn’t matter,” Len tells him. “You seem to know all the facts.”
“Don’t worry, I am not gonna make trouble. I just wanted—” Shit. How can he actually say the words, knowing how desperate he’ll sound?
Somehow, M’Benga understands. “You want to know that I will be able to help you, should you decide to ‘suitably recover’ from your illness.” The Director stands up as well and walks to the door.
Leonard opens it, glances out at a startled Pike standing next to the secretary (who’s equally shocked to see the grim-faced McCoy). The Director—Geoff—briefly touches his shoulder, drawing Len’s attention back to him.
“Do you think that you are ready?” M’Benga asks quietly.
Leonard answers, in all honesty, “I might need to be.”
The kid catches up to him in the hallway.
“Jim,” he acknowledges flatly. For that, he gets spun around and gripped by two unyielding hands.
Kirk’s face is searching his. Leonard can clearly see a vacillation of some sort working its way through Jim’s thoughts.
“Spit it out,” he tells the blond-haired man.
“Do you know?”
Leonard tilts his head, silent. “Do I know what, Jim?”
“About—” Kirk cannot finish that sentence, cannot be sure if Leonard really does have an inkling of the upcoming Christmas Eve plan. (The wedding, Len’s brain supplies bluntly.)
Len isn’t about to help him. In fact, he realizes that this particular confrontation—in the cold empty hall, just him and Jim—can only lead to despair on both sides. As much as Leonard is scared and partially angry, at this moment, he is mindful of Jim’s feelings (and Spock’s).
So he says, “I missed breakfast. Think they’ve got something left over?”
Jim releases him, those hands lingering on his upper arms before they are retracted. “Spock saved you some fruit.”
Leonard barely nods. As he turns away, he closes his eyes and locks down on any visual sign of regret that might betray him. (It’s hard to smooth the expression from his face. How does Spock do it?) “Okay. Lead on, Captain.”
Jim does, though his walk is slower (and less certain) than usual. There’s nothing Leonard can say, not really. He’s gotten himself—and two other good (hopeful) people—involved in a messy tangle of emotions and desire (love?) that will cut them all to the quick before a resolution can be found.
How could Jocelyn do it, so carelessly and without remorse? Leonard doesn’t find it easy at all, breaking someone’s heart.