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Fic: Many Happy Returns, Kirk/McCoy, PG

Title: Many Happy Returns
Author: caitri
Rating: PG (mild language)
Pairings: Kirk/McCoy
Word Count: 2,915
Summary: Leonard McCoy spends his twenty-ninth birthday at the Academy, with Jim. Can be read as Log!verse if you squint.
Disclaimer: I know this may come as a shock, but I am not, amazing as it may seem, Gene Roddenberry, J.J. Abrams, Paramount or Bad Robot. Just so you know.

Acknowledgements: gadgetorious is amazing! I want to be just like her when I grow up!



Many Happy Returns

Leonard McCoy spends most of his twenty-ninth birthday in the ER of Starfleet Medical. It’s standard for medical personnel attending the Academy to spend at least a shift a month in the emergency room, and Leonard hadn’t paid attention to what day he’d been assigned for that month.

Honestly, he hadn’t paid too much attention to his birthday, either. Leonard has been trying very carefully not to think about it, what with being a whole continent away from his family back in Georgia and all. He got a comm from his Mom first thing that morning actually, wanting to know if he’d gotten a box in the mail yet. “Not sure,” he said. “Mail runs aren’t until this afternoon, anyway. I bet it’s in there.” Pause. “I have to go to work now.”

Leonard used to be close with his family. His Dad’s death had been the first part of the separation, a sort of self-exile of shame, and his divorce from Jocelyn had been a clincher. Leonard knows he’s difficult for most people to get along with, while Joc was always a people-person—beautiful, the kind of person others gravitate to like moths to flame. Blonde, blue-eyed, charming: she was his antithesis in every way. And somehow, in the divorce, she got most of the McCoy clan as well as the rest of the damn planet.

So. He spends eight hours tending to a variety of cuts, burns, and scrapes—standard stuff for Academy training sims—plus one burst appendix, one case of Andorian shingles, and one broken arm.

“Sulu,” he says, “I think I see you in here almost as often as I do Kirk. What gives?”

“He vas teaching me self-defense, Doctor,” says a young cadet with a thick Russian accent. He is shifting from foot to foot, hovering nearby. He looks like a puppy that needs to pee.

“Pavel’s been getting some ‘tude from some of the other cadets,” Sulu says. “I was showing him some moves and, uh, gravity became an issue.”

“He fell,” says Pavel. “Is he going to be okay?”

“Yeah, yeah, no problem,” Leonard says, already working the osteo-regenerator. “But wouldn’t it be just as helpful to, you know, actually report any bullying that’s going on?”

“It’s Finnegan,” Sulu says shortly. “That dude has like a super power for disappearing when the commandants are around.”

“Mmph.” Leonard grunts, because it’s true. He’s well aware of Finnegan’s predilections—and just as aware that it’s only a matter of time before Jim Kirk and the Irishman have a brawl to end all brawls. “Well that’s very chivalrous of you, Mister Sulu,” he says with his sarcastic drawl that makes the younger man flinch, “but do be careful next time, please.”

“Yes, sir,” Sulu says meekly, and he and his friend disappear shortly thereafter.

All in all it’s not a bad shift, but nonetheless Leonard is bone-tired when it’s over. He heads to his dorm, wondering if Jim might be up for going out and getting trashed tonight. Probably. He flips out his communicator to call him, but Jim doesn’t answer. He’s probably busy with his pretty Orion friend.

Somehow that makes Leonard feel even more glum.

He picks up a bottle of Bourbon from a nearby liquor store just off-campus, then heads back to his room, prepared for a long evening of alcohol and self-pity.

When he gets to his room, it’s unlocked. The first year barracks have old-fashioned doors with metal locks and knobs instead of modern computerized doors. Jim has a theory that’s it to weed people out, but Leonard isn’t so sure. Pranks are rampant in the dorms, but no one’s tried anything on him, yet—he’s too old, and no one really wants to piss off someone who may well be tending their life-threatening injuries later. Moving quietly, he nudges the door open with his foot, peering in.

“Stay right there!” commands a familiar voice from within the room.

Leonard freezes. “Jim?” he calls out in surprise. “Is that you?”

“Hold on!” There are some shuffling noises. “Just a sec. Promise!” There’s another mysterious thump and a muttered “Ow!”

“What are you doin’ in there?” Leonard should be appalled at this invasion of his personal space, but it’s Jim Kirk. As hard as he tries, he just can’t get mad at the guy.

“Okay!” Jim says, ignoring the question. “It’s safe to come in now!”

Leonard takes a deep breath, mentally preparing himself for whatever he might see. He’s half expecting some weird science experiment, or possibly something like the leftovers of a frat party gone wrong, or even worse, a combination of those two things.

He’s completely unprepared for what he does see, though.

The folding table that he generally has stored on its side has been set up, and balanced on it are several packages. One is a plain brown box that says “Happy Birthday, Leonard!” on the sides of it in his Mom’s curly handwriting, the others are wrapped in bright-colored paper. A large and only slightly lopsided cake with several candles on top sits nearby.

“Happy birthday, Bones!” Jim says with a big grin.

Leonard just gapes at his friend. He feels his lips start to twitch in a smile. “Jim,” he says, “what’s all this? How—“ He gestures at the cake, the presents. “Why?”

Jim laughs slightly. “Working backwards,” he says, “it’s your birthday. I stopped by earlier and saw your mail, checked to confirm the date was indeed today, and then did some scrambling. Why didn’t you say something, Bones?”

Leonard shrugs. For some reason he feels like he should be apologizing, though he can’t quite articulate why. “I just—didn’t,” he says. “I don’t,” he starts. Stops. Tries again. “I’m not—“ he breaks off. He’ll try to talk to Jim about all this later—the things he left behind, the wounds that are still healing—but right now the words just aren’t there.

Jim seems to get it. The younger man nods and smiles. “Don’t worry, Bones,” he says. “It’s no big. Anyway,” he continues brightly, “I did pretty damn good for last minute notice. What do you want first, presents or cake?”

“Where’d the cake come from?” Leonard asks. It looks delicious: it’s tall, with fluffy white frosting spread in buttery peaks over the surface of the cake.

Jim looks positively smug at that. “I baked it,” he says.

“Jim,” Leonard says sternly.

“Seriously, dude,” the younger man says, sounding affronted. “I called in a couple favors and got permission to work in the mess kitchens for a couple of hours today. It’s cherry chocolate chip cake with vanilla buttercream,” he adds. “If you don’t like this cake, you have no pulse.”

Leonard has to snort at that. “Alright then,” he says. “Let’s try it out, then.”

“Awesome!” Jim grins, delighted, and for a moment he looks so completely boyish, so innocently pleased with himself that Leonard’s heart squeezes in his chest painfully. Stop that, he tells himself sternly. You know how Jim is. He’s just being a good friend. So. Deal. The younger man fiddles some more with the candles, lighting them, and Leonard tries to ignore the bittersweet ache he feels as Jim begins to sing “Happy Birthday.”

“And many mooooooooooore,” he concludes with a falsely flat note. “Make a wish!” Leonard obediently blows out the candles. He probably hasn’t had a cake with candles on it since he was a kid, he thinks, but is nonetheless touched by the gesture. I wish you could think about me the same way I do about you. The thought is unbidden, and Leonard feels himself grow warm at the thought. Goddammit. You are not a fifteen-year-old, for Chrissake! he admonishes himself.

“Alright, try this. I dare you to tell me it’s not the best cake you’ve ever had in your life,” Jim is saying, carving out a heavy slice and putting it on a plate before him. Leonard takes a bite, holding it on his tongue for a moment. The taste of the cake is rich, but not excessively sweet; it’s buttery and moist and (and Leonard knows it’s trite, BUT) it melts on his tongue. He swallows, then licks his lips thoughtfully.

Jim looks even more smug; he has his piece on a plate now too, yet untouched. “Told you,” he says.

“It’s—not bad,” Leonard allows.

“Not bad!” Jim echoes with false outrage. But his eyelids are crinkled in amusement, light blue eyes sparkling with mirth. “Not bad?!”

Leonard starts laughing. “Pretty good?” he says as he takes another bite.

“Philistine!” Jim declares. “Heathen!”

“Alright, alright,” Leonard says. “Yes, Jim, this is probably one of the best cakes I’ve ever had. Seriously, you made it?”

“Yeah,” Jim says, looking down with a little smile as he finally starts digging into his own slice. “I’ve worked my fair share of odd jobs. A few of them were in restaurants. Back in Riverside, we had this one place where everyone went for their big outings—you know, birthdays, graduations, shit like that. This was the star item on the dessert menu. Chef refused to share the recipe, but I figured out how to reverse-engineer it.”

“I bet you got to try it a lot, being star genius boy and all,” Leonard teases.

Jim freezes for a second, expression faltering slightly. Leonard catches his breath; the two men have been friends for a couple of months now, and he’s learning how to read Jim. For a second there, he went from being just “Jim” to putting on his gameface—his countenance one of perfect, flawless control. Leonard just looks at him, and something flows between them. The cocksure look melts, replaced by a more rueful visage.

“Nah,” Jim says. “I never went there for myself. I went there once last year, with my Mom and with Sam. He got engaged and came home so we could meet Aurelan,” he says.

“You don’t talk about your family all that much, Jim,” Leonard says softly.

“Neither do you,” Jim answers. The two men are quiet for a moment. “Anyway,” he continues more brightly, “this recipe was the best thing to come out of that gig.”

“It’s damn good,” Leonard says sincerely. “Thank you, Jim.” He doesn’t just mean the cake, either.

“You’re welcome, Bones,” Jim says, understanding. “So. Presents?”

Leonard smiles at that. “Presents,” he agrees.

He opens the packages up, slowly. He’s always been that way; he likes to take his time with things. Jim’s first present to him is small, and when he opens it up he stares at it for a moment before laughing.

“What’s so funny?” Jim asks. His voice is honestly puzzled, but lips are twitching in a smile at Leonard’s amusement. “Bones?”

“I don’t know,” Leonard answers when he can talk again, holding up the box of condoms. “It just is!” And that sets him off again.

Jim looks at him like he’s lost it completely. Maybe he has. “Oooookay,” he says, drawing the word out. “This next one then. You clearly need it.” He pushes the next one package to him, this one taller and heavier—in fact, he can identify the contents from the shape of the package as much from the sloshing sound of it as he opens it up. Removal of tissue paper reveals a bottle of good Kentucky Bourbon—a larger one than Leonard had purchased earlier in the evening.

“Thanks, Jim” he says as the man brings over a pair of glasses. Leonard pours for both of them.

“To Bones,” Jim toasts him. “My best friend.”

“To Jim,” Leonard toasts back. “Who’s damn thoughtful when he isn’t being a smug bastard.”

Jim’s blue eyes glow as he salutes him with his glass. “Many happy returns,” he says. They drink both shots in a gulp.

Leonard reaches for Jim’s last gift. It’s small, square and flat. “It’s kind of lame,” Jim is saying as Leonard opens it, “but I thought you might like it anyway.” It’s a small book, real paper too: a copy of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems. “I went down to City Lights to get it. It’s kinda touristy, but…” He trails off. “Do you like it?”

Leonard hasn’t read much of Ginsberg, but he does admire real printed books. He recognizes this as being one of the standard copies that the famous bookstore sells for tourists. Jim has inscribed the front endpapers, though.

October 2253.
Happy Birthday, Bones!
To you I
‘must give/for no return/as thought/is given/in solitude.’
Best wishes always,
Jim Kirk.


“This is nice, Jim,” Leonard says honestly. “How’d you think of it?”

“’The weight, the weight we carry,’ Bones,” Jim quotes. Leonard quirks an eyebrow at him in question, and the younger man smiles, flushing slightly. “Just read it, you’ll get it.”

“Will do,” Leonard agrees.

That leaves him with the package from his Mom. The box is large, but not huge. When opened up, it reveals an old quilt he recognizes from his old room back at the house, a container with a chocolate pound cake in it, and several holovids. The first one reads “From Jo,” and he punches the play button eagerly.

“Hi Daddy!” The image of his daughter greets him. She serenades him with the birthday song, and he feels moisture in his eyes. “I helped Mama El with the cake,” she says afterwards. “You be good and share it with Mister Jim, it looks like he don’t eat enough.” Both men laugh at that. “I love you, Daddy! I can’t wait to see you at Christmas! Love you, bye!”

“Wow, she’s a cute kid,” Jim says. “I can’t believe she remembered me.”

“You made an impression on her, Jim,” Leonard says. “It’s a habit of yours.”

Leonard remembers the occasion well. Jim had been in the room on a comm call Leonard had gotten a few weeks ago, almost when they had first started. The call came unexpectedly on a Sunday morning, and the two had been out late the evening previously—a not unusual occurrence when Jim Kirk is involved. Jim had taken the couch and blearily answered the comm without thinking.

“Hey,” said Jo. “Is my Daddy there?”

That had woken Jim up in a hurry. “Yeah. Sure! One sec! BONES!” Jim had roused him out of bed and gotten him to the vidscreen.

“Hi, Daddy,” Jo had said in relief. “Who was that?”

“That’s my friend Jim,” Leonard had answered.

“Oh,” Jo said. “Can I talk to him real quick again?”

“Uh, sure,” Leonard had said in surprise. “Jim?”

Jim had sat next to Leonard, hair still spiked up in a fierce case of bed-head. “Uh, hi, Jo,” he greeted the little girl. He seemed unusually shy and un-Jim-like. “Sorry about that. I’m a friend of your Dad’s.”

Jo had nodded. “That’s good, he needs more of those,” she said with all the authoritative wisdom of a six year old. “You promise you can take care of him good and make sure he don’t get lonely over there?”

“Yeah, I’ll see what I can do about that,” Jim had said.

“Promise?” Jo gave Jim the gimlet eye.

“Promise,” Jim answered. In a surprisingly boyish gesture, he sketched an “X” over his chest as he then declared, “Cross my heart, hope to die.”

Jo had nodded then. “You’ll do then,” she had said shortly.

“She’s quite the kid,” Jim says as Leonard returns to the here and now. “She takes after you a lot. It’s cute,” he adds.

Leonard smiles at that. “Yeah, she’s all McCoy,” he says softly. “No doubt about that.” He pulls out the next holovid, this one labeled “From Mom.”

“Happy Birthday, Leonard!” Eleanor McCoy greets him. “I’ve sent you an extra quilt so you’ll keep warm. I don’t know what those dorms you’re in are like, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to make sure you’re prepared. I also baked your favorite cake—it should get there right on time. If it doesn’t, let me know—I’ll make sure the people at the post office get an earful!” She continues on for a while, with little bits of news about neighbors, friends of the family, that sort of thing, before concluding. “I miss you very much, Leonard. But I think—I feel—that what you’ve done, joining Starfleet, will be good for you. I love you, son. We’ll see you at Christmas.”

“She’s right, you know,” Jim says after a pause. “This whole Starfleet thing,” he explains at Leonard’s questioning glance. “We’ve both been here a couple of months, and you’ve—changed, already. It’s good for you.”

“Yeah, well,” Leonard says. “There’s other things, too. But—I do like it here,” he admits. “I’ve got a purpose again. I feel needed here, as lame as that sounds.”

“Not lame,” Jim says. “And yeah, you are needed.” He doesn’t explain that, just pours two more glasses of Bourbon before continuing, “Happy Birthday, Bones.” They salute each other once again, and drink up.

Author’s Gratuitous Notes

Jim’s recipe for his famous cake can be found in Warren Brown’s CakeLove book.

Sam and Aurelan are of course referenced in the TOS episodes “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” and “Operation: Annihilate!”

I may be optimistic in assuming that the City Lights Bookstore is still around in the twenty-third century, but I figure if it’s a landmark now, maybe it still will be in two hundred and forty years.
Anyhow, that’s the store that first printed the Beats’ stuff back in the 1950s, including Howl. They have a special section on the second floor of all their stuff, including a slender series of books for tourists.

Jim’s quotations are from Ginsberg’s “Song.” The fragment he quotes to Bones finishes “is love.”

Comments

( 25 comments — Add your .02 )
secretsolitaire
Jun. 21st, 2010 11:21 pm (UTC)
I smiled pretty much all the way through this. Their friendship makes me happy. ♥
adafrog
Jun. 21st, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
Lovely.
dramapunk
Jun. 21st, 2010 11:53 pm (UTC)
Loved this fic. So cute. I was drinking coffee across the street From City Lights the other night. Love that place. You get Beatnik love.
caitri
Jun. 21st, 2010 11:58 pm (UTC)
Hee, awesome!! I've only been to SF the once and that was the one place I HAD to go. *has both Howl AND the tshirt* :)
dramapunk
Jun. 22nd, 2010 12:09 am (UTC)
Awesome. I live just out side of sf so I go into the city all the time. I have to say my North Beach is one of my favorite places to be. My friends and I are trying to get enough cash to move there.

Next time you come to SF I recommend going to The Haight and checking out The Anarchist Book Store. That's not it's name it doesn't have a name but that's what everyone calls it, because there are meetings there and it's run by Anarchists. As well as grabbing a slice of pizza at Fat Slice.
caitri
Jun. 22nd, 2010 12:11 am (UTC)
Awesome!! One of my friends is moving to Pleasanton and I'm totally planning on visiting her sometime. I figure it's also research for fic-writing purposes!! :D
dramapunk
Jun. 22nd, 2010 12:15 am (UTC)
Research is always good, even when it isn't related to fic. ;)

I have friends in Pleasanton, it's really nice and the weather is normally really nice.

I live coastside. Which is The Pacifica thru Halfmoon Bay Area. Like 20 minutes outside SF.
caitri
Jun. 22nd, 2010 12:17 am (UTC)
Awesome!

Because random question is random, have you ever been to Pinole?
dramapunk
Jun. 22nd, 2010 12:21 am (UTC)
Random questions are awesome. Yeah I have it's in the east bay. The college newspaper I used to work for competed against a school out there.

It's really close to Mountain View which has a huge concert venue.
caitri
Jun. 22nd, 2010 12:23 am (UTC)
Awesome. Yeah I wrote a modern day AU and located Jim in Pinole, and basically did all my research via google and craigslist. May I ask permission to PM you reference questions when I start in on the sequel proper? *hopeful hopeful puppy dog eyes*
dramapunk
Jun. 22nd, 2010 12:24 am (UTC)
Sure go for it. I can be your bay area Reference Guide. :) I can send you my email too if you want.
caitri
Jun. 22nd, 2010 12:25 am (UTC)
Woot! Awesome, dude!!!!!!
dramapunk
Jun. 22nd, 2010 12:30 am (UTC)
sent you a pm
missjaneregrets
Jun. 22nd, 2010 01:54 am (UTC)
I loved the balance of sweet and sad here. And joanna!
Now I want cake.
gadgetorious
Jun. 22nd, 2010 02:24 am (UTC)
Dude! I want to be just like me when I grow up, too. Also, I want you to bake me a cake. Or cupcakes. Either one, I'm easy.

Sooooo, does this count as a STXI/CakeLove x-over? I think it does.
caitri
Jun. 22nd, 2010 02:27 am (UTC)
All ya gotta do is come to TX. :P

And yes, I think it counts as a crossover too.

Man, watching Chris cook? OMG.
gadgetorious
Jun. 22nd, 2010 02:33 am (UTC)
ROFL. How much batter do you think you could lick off a person before you make yourself sick?
gadgetorious
Jun. 22nd, 2010 02:34 am (UTC)
Just out of curiosity.
caitri
Jun. 22nd, 2010 02:42 am (UTC)
Ordinarily I'd have no desire to figure this out.

But it's Chris.

...
tresa_cho
Jun. 22nd, 2010 02:40 am (UTC)
Lovely!
weepingnaiad
Jun. 22nd, 2010 03:39 am (UTC)
AWWWW... this was really wonderful! I loved Jim baking a cake and making such a heartfelt effort for Bones! It's good to see them like this... early on in their relationship, but already the seeds of their deep and abiding friendship are planted.
zauzat
Jun. 22nd, 2010 06:30 am (UTC)
Lovely friendship fic. It's nice to see Bones' birthday being the centre of attention rather than Jim's.
blcwriter
Jun. 23rd, 2010 11:57 am (UTC)
That giant snorfling noise from the East Coast? That was ME.
blue_jack
Jun. 23rd, 2010 06:28 pm (UTC)
Ah, this was lovely. I can totally see Jim being sweet enough to think of this and sneaky enough to pull it off. And Bones totally got his birthday wish! XD
spockelle
Aug. 25th, 2011 04:05 pm (UTC)
So sweet :)
( 25 comments — Add your .02 )

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