Forget Me Not

Nikita < nik_cleo @ >

Series:  ST: TOS

Pairing:  K/Mc


Author's Notes:  Written for the Kirk/McCoy Fuh-q Fest  Answers challenge #42. After the Fal-Tor-Pan McCoy is his old self, except for one thing: He can't remember his relationship with Kirk. How will Kirk refresh his memories?

I'm trying something different there - no McCoy POV, just Kirk's.  It's a challenge for me since I usually see things through McCoy's eyes, but Captain James T. Kirk yelled the loudest this time and I'm giving him his way...just like he's used to.  ;)

Thanks to the fest moms who encouraged this pairing - I never would have done it without such a great challenge!


"I'm all right, Jim."

All right, he tells me, though his face is haggard and his eyes seem dark and dull, not at all like their normal twinkling blue. 

He's really telling me not to worry about him and to focus on Spock.  And I did, then...  I focused on Spock's recovery and tried not to think of the losses. 

The Enterprise...

My career...


The loss of my son and my ship cut me like a knife, but the possibility that I would lose the two people closest to me had kept
me going - fighting to stop it. 

And now, as I watch Spock walk away with the other Vulcans and know that he at least recognized me...I can return my thoughts to my other troubles once more.  The rest of the crew has already gone to their assigned lodgings, but I've stayed up, looking up at the sky and trying to decide what will happen next.  What my next step should be.

Only problem is...I'm tired.  Way too tired to deal with the mess.  How long has it been since I've slept?  Far too long, a voice in my head answers.  That voice sounds suspiciously like Bones and that spurs me to remember that I wanted to check with him again. Make sure he really *is* all right.  Not only that...I want to hold him.  Reassure myself that he is himself again - whole and complete.  That there is no trace of Spock's katra in him still. 

Once I'm there - in his arms once more - I know I'll find the strength to face the rest of it.  Bones always knows just what to
say and when not to say anything and to offer his patience and understanding instead.  He is amazing in his ability to read me and keep me on an even keel.  I've missed that balance these past few days.  With Spock gone I felt my logic and strength weaken, but with Bones not himself...I've felt as if my spirit was missing. 

An acolyte shows me the way to where McCoy has been settled and I thank her before entering the chamber without signaling my presence.  I don't want to wake him if he's already sleeping, he must need a lot of rest right now.

The room is dark, but a small oil lamp in the corner of the room gives me enough light to see the slight form under the covers on the bed.  I smile at the sight and strip off my uniform top.  I'm a bit ripe, but I'm far too tired to try and find a sonic shower just now.  The form on the bed stirs slightly at the sound of my boots being kicked off, but quickly stills.  I quietly pad over to the bed and lay down beside my lover, one arm eagerly reaching around to hold him.

"Uhn - what's goin' on?  Jim?"  Bones sounds almost drugged, his words slurred.  I'm a bit concerned, but I figure he's just dead tired so I pat his chest reassuringly.

"Just me.  Go back to sleep."

But he doesn't obey and instead struggles against my hold to look up at my face.  "Wha- Are they out of beds?  Thought the place was big enough..."

Well, that certainly wasn't the warm welcome I was hoping for - I frown at him and scoot back a little to give him more room.  "Do you mind me sleeping here?  I just want to go to sleep...and I didn't want to be alone just now."

He continues to squint at me in the dim light, but his face softens a bit and he nods before closing his eyes with a sigh.  "Of course not, you can sleep here.  Jus' surprised me is all..."

He's asleep within seconds and I lie there watching him, suddenly not so tired after all. 


The morning comes all too soon and I climb out of the bed I haven't slept in with an aching feeling.  Not just in the bones, though they are getting old, I admit...but an aching in my heart.  So much has changed...I'm not sure I'm ready for what lies ahead.  I look out the small window of the room and see distant figures in the courtyard performing some sort of calisthenics.  They move in such perfect precision and efficiency of movement - it's quite a sight.

"Still here?"  I turn and see Bones sitting up in bed, rubbing his forehead tiredly. 

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah...just gotta doozy of a headache.  I'm fine...just need to rest, I guess.  How are you?"

Typical Bones - always worried about others.  " fine as can be, anyway.  I thought maybe I should go down and contact Starfleet properly.  Turn myself in.  Unless you fancy turning pirate with me?"  I try a boyish grin on for him, but he just frowns and shakes his head.

"No way they can blame you for what happened - those Klingons would have done anything to get Genesis.  You kept it safe from them.  And I'll be sure to tell them - and so will the rest of the crew, and you know it.  You're not turning yourself in alone, Jim." 

I open my mouth to protest and let it fall closed with a sigh.  I know he's right - my crew will stand with me no matter what.  And I know Bones will be by my side every step of the way...even if I end up in a penal colony. 


Luckily, in the end it didn't quite come to that.  He only had to follow me on a rather desperate trip through time in search of
humpback whales.   It seems that saving Earth from certain destruction was enough to redeem us for our trespasses.  The
reduction in my rank didn't even hurt as much since it meant I was back where I truly belonged - on the bridge of the Enterprise.

It was only once the crew began to settle onto the ship and make it our own that I had time to realize that Bones and I hadn't spent one moment alone together to really talk.  We'd spent each night bunking where we could and when we could and never once together.  I was rather looking forward to that moment.  To lay down in our bed and hold him.  After everything that has happened these past months, I really need some closeness.  Among other things... 

I couldn't help but grin at that thought.  It'd been too long.  Too *damned* long.

I had to swallow the grin as a yeoman handed me a padd to initial.  It was far too lecherous of a facial expression for the bridge, even if I do have a reputation.  After checking the padd, I turned my chair to check on Spock.  He was busy organizing the science department and their consoles to his liking.  It was comforting to see him over there, quiet and efficient.  Things were finally getting back to normal...

"Captain, I need a word with you!" 

I turned at the caustic shout behind me and found Bones barreling out of the turbolift, brows drawn together and lips twisted into a terrible scowl. 

Several fresh young crewmembers were startled by the tone and lack of respect that seemed to emanate from the doctor, but quickly turned away at my warning gaze.

"Is there a problem, Doctor?"  I was torn between amusement and anger, myself, at such blatant lack of decorum.  No one could say that Leonard McCoy was anything but direct and it was one of the things I enjoy the most about him.  But there were times and places for such fits of temper and the new helm of the Enterprise was not one of them.

He must have seen that he was treading a fine line with me as he brought himself up short and squared his shoulders slightly.  "I need a word with you *in private*, Captain."  His voice was much more subdued now, though his eyes were blazing.

I nodded and motioned for Spock to take over as I followed Bones back into the turbolift.  The crewmembers had all gone back to their work, but I could still see their eyes darting to watch us leave.  Not the best foot to start off with - Bones had better have a good reason for such a display.

"Deck 5."

The lift moved and I leaned against the wall and looked expectantly at him.  He sighed heavily and met my gaze with some
chagrin.  "Sorry, Jim..."

I felt myself melt at that, he's not one to apologize easily for losing his temper.  "What is it that's upset you?"

He opened his mouth to answer, but the lift opened and two crewmembers were waiting just outside.  We exited and walked over to the observation alcove that I'd meant for us to go to for privacy.  It was a bit small, but it held two tables and a couple of chairs set up for stargazing and conversation area.  It was empty at the moment as we both sat down, facing one another.

"Jim...I - there's something weird going on around here."  His voice was quiet and his eyes stared intently into my own. 

"What do you mean?"

"Meaning I think someone's playing a practical joke on me.  Or rather several someones - and normally I'd laugh it off, but..."  he leaned back and looked away from me.

"But, what, Bones?  What is the joke?" 

"My quarters! Or rather lack of - I've been in sickbay all this time organizing the damn staff and equipment and I finally get myself an hour's peace and I go look for my quarters to catch a quick nap and unpack and what do I find?  No quarters!  I spent the next fifteen minutes tracking down the damn quartermaster and demand to know where my gear is and where I'm supposed to sleep!  He just gives me a funny look and tells me that my things have been stowed where they belong - in the Captain's room!" 

Impressed as I am with his lack of air during his rant, I'm a bit confused at what exactly he's angry about.  "Where else would they be, Bones?"

He blinks at this and then seems to suddenly realize something.  The anger drains from his face and he leans back in his chair as a small weary smile appears on his face.  "All right, I see.  You're in on it, too.  It was your idea, I suppose?  Very funny.  I give up.  How much of a bet was it?  And was Spock in on it, too?  Be about time the damn Vulcan developed a sense of humor."  He chuckles and shakes his head.

Now I'm worried.  "What do you mean, Bones?  We talked about this - you said you wanted something a bit more permanent."

Leonard slowly lost his grin as he stared at me.  As my words sunk in he began to look angry again.  "Look - I've been a good sport about this whole thing, Jim.  The joke is on me, but enough is enough.  Captain."  He added the last word as an after-thought.  He obviously thought I was stepping over a line with him.

But my own concerns and fears were growing to the point where I didn't care about his anger...only his odd behavior.

"Bones...I think perhaps we should have a little chat with Spock right now..."


"There is no practical joke going on here, Bones - I swear."

McCoy angrily cut a look at Spock and found only the usual deadpan expression looking back at him.  Spock nodded, but stayed quiet, his eyes were watching the doctor closely as if he is working on a problem.  I can only hope that he will be able to help me solve it.

Bones finally looked back at me with resignation.  "This doesn't make any sense, Jim.  WHY are my things in your room?  What do I have no quarters of my own?  What's going on?"

It's my chance to glance at Spock, but I quickly look back at Leonard and put a hand out to touch one of his on the tabletop.  He looked down at my hand in surprise which grew exponentially as I spoke.

"Your things are in 'our' room, Bones.  Yours and mine...I know we haven't shared crew quarters on a ship before, but I figured...and the crew, I suppose, figured that we would live together on the Enterprise just as we did on Earth.  I didn't say anything about our living conditions, but it's not like our relationship is much of a secret by now, you know."

I hadn't thought his eyes could get any wider, but they did - the shock on his face made my stomach sink to see it.  His hand suddenly jerked out of my own and I let it go reluctantly.

"What relationship?!" he shouted as he stood up hastily from his chair which fell with a clatter behind him.  I stood as well, but
Spock remained where he was leaning against the wall, not reacting outwardly at the outburst.

I stepped forward, one hand reaching out to him; placating. 

Leonard shook his head, denying my gesture.  "I want to know what you are talking about, Jim.  Why is everyone acting as if I - as if you and I..." he shook his head again, despairing of being able to finish the sentence.

It hurt to see him hurting in such a way - I wanted nothing more than to take him in my arms just then and hold him until all his fears and doubts left him.  But that was obviously the last thing that would comfort him just then so I instead I finished the sentence for him.  "As if you and I were a couple?  Because we are."

I expected him to shake his head again - deny it and insist on proof.  I was already prepared to prove it all - holos of us together on shore leave...a poem he wrote me once during a medical convention he'd gone away on...I even thought of the rings we kept at home, but didn't wear because of regulations...  But he didn't deny it; he just stared at me as the blood drained from his face until he had a grayish waxy complexion.  I thought he was going to faint, but instead he fled the room without a word.  Spock and I raced after him, but we needn't have worried - he was heading to sickbay. 

He locked himself in there for the next two days.  Not literally, of course.  He was simply too busy to leave - he'd signed himself up for a series of tests and was consulting with his medical staff over every one of them.  I decided to leave him to his own devices for the time - let him find some medical facts or evidence to help him deal with this problem before we dealt with it together.

As for me...I found those two days to the longest and loneliest ones I could remember.  It was amazing just how much I missed him now that I knew he didn't miss me.  Not the way I wanted him to, anyway.  What would happen if the memory loss were permanent? 

I questioned Spock on his own memory problems and he informed me that most of it had come back with hard work and returning to his normal routines.  But he also noted that his brain and his particular situation were different from McCoy's.  No one knew what holding a Katra and then releasing it might do to a human mind.


Finally...after two days of only the briefest of messages on his status, Bones signaled that he had concluded his tests.  I suggested we meet in his office in sickbay, hoping that a meeting on his own turf would lessen his anxiety.

Spock joined us, sitting beside me at Bones' desk as we waited for the doctor to speak.  I couldn't help noticing how tired he looked.  Was he sleeping at all?  I'd spent the last two nights staring at our belongings in our bedroom missing him.  I glance over to the back of the office and see that the blanket on his cot looks a bit rumpled.

I look back at him as he sits down before us with a weary sigh and tosses a pile of data disks in front of us.

"I've been tested and poked and prodded until I was ready to fire my entire medical staff - I'm cleared for duty.  I was concerned that there might be other memory gaps - ones that I wasn't aware of until I was in the middle of operating on one of our crew..."

I wince internally at the thought - I'd been so concerned about my own personal loss that I hadn't realized just how serious Bones' memory loss might have been.  And what it would mean if the Chief Medical Officer was operating with less than his full faculties.  "And there are no other gaps?" I ask him cautiously.

"None that we could find - I cleared all of the medical boards and performed simulated operations under supervision and there were no aberrations from my past records.  I could remember the details from my past lab experiments and the last crew physical reports."

He must be tremendously relieved to know he is still fit for duty - I don't want to imagine what it would do to him not to be able to practice medicine, no matter how temporary.  "That's good news, Bones...but what about the memory gap we do know you have?"  I try to say it gently, but I can see him tense up anyway.

He refuses to look up at me - fussing with the data disks in front of him as he answers.  "That I can't find an answer for...I looked up my personal files and I just don't recognize the last five years of my private life.  I remember being on Earth and teaching at the Academy...I even remember the conferences I went to..."

There is an awkward silence until Spock speaks up for the first time during the meeting.  "The events that you do remember - are their any details that appear to be missing or inconsistent with the rest of your memories?"

Bones looks up at Spock as he speaks and I feel a flare of petty jealousy.  He won't look me in the eye, but he will for Spock?  I stifle the feeling as best I can - I can't imagine how he must be feeling right now, but he is obviously uneasy with me because he can't remember our relationship.  He needs my support right now - not childish petulance.  I focus on listening to his answer as he frowns in concentration.  He almost seems in pain as he tries to remember.

"I can remember my work...but I don't remember where I's all fuzzy.  I vaguely remember an apartment...not the one I used to's darker...the kitchen's not where it should be..."

Excitement thrills through me - our apartment, he remembers it!  "You liked the kitchen - you said it had a good view and you
could grown herbs on the windowsill," I insist, moving one hand out to touch his own.  But his hand twitches just out of my reach and I become aware that Spock is almost frowning at me.  I withdraw my hand with a muttered apology.

Bones lets out an explosive sigh and shakes his head.  "But it doesn't look familiar to me - just an odd fuzzy image and I don't
remember living there..."

Spock nods and leans forward.  "I might be able to facilitate the recovery process of these memories, if you wish.  The healers on Vulcan were well versed in many techniques that I believe I could help you with.  Or you could consult with the healers yourself-"

"No!  I can't stand anyone poking in my mind than they already have!" the doctor says vehemently, "I consulted with one of the healers this morning and they said there are no guarantees anyway."

"That is an accurate assessment," Spock concedes as he stands up.  "However, should you decide otherwise, the offer remains.  I should return to my duty post if that is permissible, Captain."

I nod and he exits, leaving Bones and I still seated on opposite sides of his desk, the data disks still scattered between us.  I'm
at a loss as to what to say.  I want to argue with him - tell him that he should take up Spock's offer and try to recover his
memories, but I doubt it would go over well.  Since the memories that he's missing are not vital to ship business and shouldn't
interfere with his's not really my place to tell him what to do.  As a captain, anyway. 

As his friend...his lover...I want to 'make' him remember me.  I want to kiss him. 

Hold him. 

I want to get up, grab him, and shake him until he remembers. 

Beg him not to leave me.

But in the end I do none of those things.  Instead, I ask him how he's feeling. 

"Fine...tired, I suppose."  He shrugs and fiddles with the corner of one of the data disks - his eyes on the desk.

"So what will we do now?" I ask.

"What do you mean?"  He still won't look up at me.

"Our living situation - shall I have new quarters reassigned?  It'll take some shuffling..."  It'll be annoying as hell.  Scotty has the quarters Bones usually would have been assigned to and that means Uhura has Scotty''ll shift the whole senior staff over until some of the lower ranking crew is moved around...  But it's a part of ship life and I would have done it already...except I'm hoping he'll say no.

"That's not really necessary - I don't want to displace everyone."

I feel a twinge of hope, though it is tainted by disappointment that his only reason is not to want to inconvenience everyone else.  "So you'll stay in our quarters?" I ask.

He looks up at me finally and I see panic in his eyes.  "I don't - I have a bed in here," he says quickly.

"That is not a bed - it's a cot," I say a bit harsher than I mean to, "you can't live in your office, Bones."

His panic is gone, replaced with anger at my tone.  "Are you going to throw regulations at me, *Captain*?"

I hate the way he throws that word at me like an insult, but I realize that I'm not handling this well at all.  I'm antagonizing him.  I'm deliberately soften my voice, "That's not what I meant, Bones.  I just meant that its not comfortable in here and that you shouldn't feel afraid to go to your own quarters."

He relaxed at first, but then narrowed his eyes, "I'm not *afraid*!" 

I can't help smiling, "Good.  I'll see you tonight then."  I get up and leave his office before he can answer. 


I arrive to our quarters before he does, even though I was later than usual due to some last minute paperwork.  Tossing my uniform jacket on a chair before pouring myself a drink, I can't seem to stop my mind from churning over the challenge I threw at him before leaving his office earlier today.

Maybe it wasn't the best way to handle the situation - not the gentlest - but if I leave him any more time to himself I'm afraid he'll manage to avoid me, and this problem between us, for the rest of our lives.  He's a stubborn man, but so am I and throwing him a challenge the way I did is my best hope to get him to come to me.

And still I worry - what if he changed his mind and decided to take up the offer of getting his own quarters?  I look around the rooms and see all of his belongings still on their shelves.  The ensigns that set up our quarters did a good job in blending our things together.  It looks a lot like the way we had our apartment decorated in San Francisco.  I suddenly wish we hadn't been assigned this mission right away.  What would have happened if we'd had to stay on Earth for a while?  Would he have remembered where he lived and recovered his memories faster?  Perhaps this is all a result of the instability and fast turns our lives have taken in the past few months.  I never thought I'd regret taking the helm of the Enterprise before, but I now wonder if I've doomed our relationship because of it.

The door swishes open and interrupts my brooding.  I see him hesitantly enter the quarters and my worries melt away at the sight of him.  I'll win him back - I'll help him remember our life together and fix everything between us.  It doesn't matter where we are or how hectic our lives will be - we'll manage it together...just as we always do.

He comes in only far enough for the door to close behind him and his eyes travel over main room to take in the decorations and mementos before they finally rest on me standing by the bar. 

"Can I fix you a drink, Bones?"

I can see the easing of tension in his body at this bit of normality.  As long as I can remember we've shared drinks and
discussions in my quarters while off-duty.

"Yeah, I could really use one.  Make it a double."  He sits on one of the chairs and continues to look around the room.  It's a lot nicer than the quarters we had on the original Enterprise - there's a bit more emphasis on the aesthetic and comfort side of shipboard life.  Psychology's growing contribution to Starfleet I suppose.  Bones would know more about it, I'm sure. 

I hand him his precious Kentucky bourbon and sit down in the chair opposite of him as we sip our drinks in silence.

"I didn't come because of your ham-fisted attempt at reverse psychology, Jim."

I look at him and see him staring into the depths of his glass.  "Then why did you?"

"Because...I owe it to you...and to myself... to try and remember."


By the time we've had our third drink the conversation is flowing easier.  I tell him everything I can think of about how the
relationship started.  How teaching at the Academy had given us both more time on our hands than we were used to and we'd begun to spend more time together in the evenings.  I took him horseback riding a few times and he took me for long walks along the beach - telling me stories about his family and childhood.  We'd developed a deeper connection those quiet evenings alone...I'd never known what it was to belong somewhere - other than the stars. 

"You weren't totally happy - you wanted to be out hopping galaxies," he says suddenly.

I spare him a guilty look.  "My birthday - yes.  You knew that there was something bothering me.  You never did approve of me being an Admiral."

He snorts and takes another sip of his drink.  "You weren't living the life you wanted.  I just wanted you to be happy."

I smile at that and set my drink down.  "You make me happy."

He looks up at me curiously.

I'm through with talking.  "I don't know about you, but I'm tired...shall we go to bed?"

A dull flush rises in his cheeks and he nearly chokes on his drink.  I reach over and take it from him.  "Just to sleep, Bones...we have to get up early tomorrow for the staff meeting."

It's awkward getting ready for bed.  I strip and change into loose fitting pajama bottoms as I usually do, but Bones goes into the fresher to get ready for bed and comes out wearing a full set of pajamas I don't remember seeing him wear before.  He eyes the bed a bit before claiming a side and I'm encouraged when I note that it is his usual one.  Habits die hard, I suppose.  I lie down beside him and turn out the lights.  His body is rigid next to me as he lies on his side, facing away from me.  I stare at his back and wish desperately I could touch him...just stroke his back or put a hand on his arm, but I can feel the tension thrumming through him.  One touch and he'll spook like a high-strung thoroughbred. 

I fall asleep remembering our first time in bed together.  His touch had ignited fire within me and the sex had been passionate and wonderful, but the best part of all had been the soft caresses and gentle sighs as we held each other until we fell asleep.  I miss him so much...we lie inches away from one another and yet we are miles apart.


I wake up to a rustling sound.  I rub sleep out of my eyes and squint in the semi-darkness to see a huddled figure going through the drawers in the closet.  Bones pulls items out one at a time and examines them in the dim light.  A holo, a scarf, a small book of poems...he pulls out a small box and I recognize it as he opens it up.

"Those are our rings," I say softly.

He starts at the sound of my voice and nearly hits his head on an opened drawer above him.  "I didn't mean to wake you," he says regretfully.

I shrug it off.  "We bought those just a few months before the mission with the trainees.  You told me you didn't need a ceremony or anything fancy...but I wanted to give you something traditional..."

He looks back into the box as I speak and pulls out one of the rings, it gleams in the light.  "They're beautiful.  Why are they in a box?"

"Against regulations to wear them most of the time and while we were on the ship...we kept them in the box to be safe."

He stares at the ring for a long time and I hold my breath, hoping he's remembering something.  But he puts the ring back into the box without a word and places it back in the drawer.  Closing the last of the drawers he pulls out a clean uniform and disappears into the 'fresher.

We arrive for the staff meeting well ahead of scheduled time.  I watch him shuffle his data disks and fuss with his computer terminal while we await the rest of the staff.  His actions are distracted and I can tell his mind is on something other than the coming meeting. 

The doors open and senior staff members trickle in - Spock, Chekov, Uhura, Scotty...I greet them as usual and start the meeting.  It's only when it is time for the medical portion of the briefing that I realize Bones hasn't been paying attention.



He looks up finally with a shocked look and glances back at his notes.  "Oh, yes...the crew's fitness reports indicate..."  I watch him as he gives his report and worry about his distraction, but he's strictly professional for the rest of the meeting.   

The conclusion of our meeting signals the beginning of our first mission.  The Enterprise is ordered to handle an increasingly dangerous dispute near the neutral zone and I feel torn by conflicting emotions over what this will entail.  I'm eager as I always am for adventure and feeling the ship racing off to face danger, but at the same time I'm concerned about the timing with Bones.  I'll be spending quite a lot of time on the bridge and he'll be busy preparing sickbay for potential casualties.  But that's what life is like on the Enterprise...I can only hope our problems can be dealt with after this crisis is over.

Bones doesn't seem to suffer any regret at the chance to take his mind off of his troubles - he dives into work in sickbay with
gusto.  It takes five days to reach the coordinates we have been ordered to and he spends three of those nights sleeping in his
office on that blasted cot.  I spend those nights pouring over the information that Starfleet sent me, but I can't help noticing the
empty space next to me when I try to catch some rest.  The other two nights he lies next to me on the bed facing away from me just as he did the first night.  I want so much to touch him...

I'm almost grateful when we reach the coordinates and find ourselves in the midst of an ambush - I'm too busy to even think about our relationship as I try to keep the ship in one piece.


"You idiot!  Goddamned, thick-skulled - !"

I swim in and out of consciousness.  The only thing I am aware of is his voice - swearing at me with a harsh sound that I know hides his deepest fear.  I want to answer him, but just as quickly I fall away from the sound and return to the black silence.

Time, I have no idea how much, passes until I become aware of the sound of his voice again. 

"...his vitals are getting stronger, but it'll be some time before he's well enough to receive any kind of a briefing."

Another voice joins his.  "You will comm me when he is able to speak?"

"Of course I will."  If I were well I would be grinning - I know that tone of voice.  He'll comm when he's damn well ready to comm.
And Spock knows that, too - there is a brief silence before I hear Spock leave sickbay and I know they must've traded their customary confrontation looks over my biobed.

Bones was right about my not being ready for a briefing, though.  I fall asleep immediately after that and its several more attempts before I'm able to stay awake for any period of time.  I find myself in the recovery area of sickbay and struggle to get up, I only make it halfway.  A shadow appears by the doorway and I squint at the light in order to see his face.  He looks haggard, but a relieved smile appears on his lips at the sight of me sitting up.

"Where do you think you're going?" he asks and walks over to push me back down on the biobed. 

"I need to get to the bridge."

"How did I know that was what you were going to say?" he says dryly, but his hands are still holding me in place.

"I need to be on the bridge - what's happening?" I ask urgently.

"Take it easy.  Spock is eager to tell you all about it - there's been a cessation in hostilities and he's negotiating the peace as we speak.  He's damned good at it, too - he's getting more like his father everyday."

I relax slightly at his words - should have known Spock would take care of everything.  I try to think back to how I got into sickbay in the first place.  "No one else was hurt on the away team?"

"No, you were the only one foolish enough to get shot - the rest of the team got you back onto the ship without further incident.  Spock's using your injury as a bargaining tool - apparently it's a taboo to injure leaders in their cultures and they are eager to listen to Spock's terms now."

I feel my strength weakening as my adrenaline fades.  It would be so easy to lean back and let him put me back into the biobed.  But the thought of being stuck here isn't a pleasant one.  "I should go to the bridge anyway..."

"Oh no, you don't.  You are on bed rest, Captain.  Doctor's orders.  You lost way too much blood and I spent far too much time patching you up to let you ruin my good work."  His face is grim and I can see he means business.

"But Bones..." I try.

"Don't - I meant it about bed rest...but if you'll agree to stay in your 'own' bed..."

I nod eagerly - anything to get out of sickbay.  It'll be far easier to get back to the bridge from there.

But he knows me way too well.  "I don't trust you without supervision, though.  I'll take you back to the cabin.  Come on."

He gently helps me out of bed and out of sickbay.  I lean gratefully against his arm as we shuffle down the corridors.  It's been so long since he touched me.  We reach our rooms and I regret the fact that he will soon leave me alone in bed once more.  I'm surprised, therefore, when he tucks me in bed, turns the lights down to the lowest setting and then lies down beside me under the covers. 

I feel an arm creep around me and his breath on my neck.  "You're not getting up anytime soon, Jim...Spock can handle it."

I ignore his words and simply relish the closeness.  As he shifts his arm around me and a glint of gold catches my eye in the dim light.  I look at his hand in shock - there on his left hand is his ring.  The one he had found in the box in our closet...the one I gave him in that little Italian restaurant in San Diego...

He sits up slightly to look at what I'm staring at and smiles sadly when I look up at him questioningly.  "It felt right to put it
on...I think I'm at an age where I don't give much of a damn for regulations...feel free to reprimand me, Captain."

The warm glow I felt at his words enveloped me until I was grinning impishly back at him.  "I'd rather flaunt regulations right along with you," I whisper and he kisses me just as passionately as he ever has.



42. After the Fal-Tor-Pan McCoy is his old self, except for one thing: He can't remember his relationship with Kirk. How will Kirk