“Don’t talk,” Bones says sharply. Jim blinks as he turns his head slightly, towards a pale light off to his right side. Bones has turned on a PADD, which is providing the faint glow currently illuminating...wherever they are.
When Jim opens his mouth to ask Bones where they are, to find out how they got here, Bones leans forward and places his hand over Jim’s lips. When he moves closer, Jim’s able to see the cuts, bruises and blood on his face, which makes his stomach twist into knots, the bad kind that always accompanies any Bones related injury or fight that goes beyond teasing or bitching.
“I said no talking, asshole.” Bones follows the term of endearment, as that’s what it’s become during the years of their friendship, with a smack against the back of Jim’s head. It’s a light smack, too light if they were okay and everything was normal, but it somehow manages to make Jim feel better about everything because, well, it’s one of their things, and Bones wouldn’t react out of habit if they were captured by evil creatures intent on killing or torturing them. Would he?
Jim frowns and shifts, glancing down to see that he’s lying on a makeshift blanket made out of ripped cloth. There are bloodstains on the dark colored material, which cause him to tense again because he isn’t sure who the blood belongs to. Some of his worry must have been evident in his face because Bones makes an aggravated noise before moving his hands to Jim’s shoulders.
“Jim, stop,” he demands in an authoritative tone of voice that Jim doesn’t hear that often. “It’s not yours. Or mine. I had to use what was available to make sure you weren’t lying on the dirt, though, because that’d be more dangerous for that head wound than patches of clean cloth.”
When Jim looks back up at Bones, he tries to relax. It’s too frustrating, just lying here not knowing what happened after he got knocked out. He reaches up to touch his throat, wondering why it’s so sore, then moves his hand to rest on Bones’ chest, palm flat against the damp material. “Hurts,” he says, frowning again even as he starts to relax at the feel of Bones’ heart beating under his hand.
“It’ll be okay.” Bones looks away, a muscle in his cheek throbbing as he stares behind Jim’s head. When he glances back down, Jim can see the exhaustion and fear because Bones isn’t able to hide it fast enough. “After Weller died, those things attacked us. One of them got to you, where you were lying unconscious, and it had a grip on your throat.” Bones pauses and licks his lips, his hand shaking slightly as he moves his thumb lightly over Jim’s Adam’s apple. “I thought...you were so pale and lifeless...” He swallows, and Jim can feel his heartbeat speeding up. Bones looks lost and confused as he finally looks back at Jim’s face and catches his gaze. “Your phaser was there, lying by my feet where you’d dropped it, and I just...they weren’t gonna hurt you anymore, Jim. I couldn’t let them hurt you.”
Oh. Oh. Jim’s eyes widen slightly as he curls his fingers into the fabric of Bones’ shirt. Bones had…Jim doesn’t care if it hurts; he can’t just lie here saying nothing. “You saved me,” he says firmly. It’s more of a hoarse whisper than a sharp ‘don’t feel guilty for killing a bunch of evil creatures who planned to use you as a damn toy and to torture me’, but he knows Bones will understand. Hell, Jim had killed Weller, his own Lieutenant, regardless of the betrayal and set-up that brought them here, so it’s not like he’s going to judge Bones for getting them out alive. But it’s not his own opinion he’s worried about. It’s Bones’ tendency to beat himself up and feel guilty whenever he can’t save a patient and how he takes that vow to do no harm pretty damn seriously.
“It’s not the first time I’ve had to take a life instead of save it, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat if it meant protecting you, but there were a lot of them, and they were crazy. Weller was right about that,” Bones mutters, his thumb moving along Jim’s chin and across the curve of his jaw. “I think I got ‘em all, Jim, but there’re probably more of them out there. They’ll find us, and I don’t know if I can keep them away again. I’m just so--“ His voice trails off, and Jim watches his shoulders slump. It doesn’t take a genius to fill in the blank. Tired, hurt, stressed, hungry, weak: any of those that are probably appropriate because Jim feels it, too.
“You’re not alone anymore, Bones,” Jim says, meaning something a hell of a lot more than just facing those beings. His throat and his head hurt like hell, but he isn’t so weak that he’s letting Bones deal with all this on his own. It’s his fault they’re here, after all. If it hadn’t been for him wanting to spend some time with Bones away from the ship, they’d both be safely sipping some whiskey over a card game in his quarters right now instead of fighting for their lives against an unknown foe.
Bones looks at him, really looks at him, and Jim wonders what he sees in the pale glow from the PADD because he’s pretty damn sure he isn’t doing a very good job of hiding his emotions the way he normally does. It doesn’t really seem worth the effort, not when they’re here like this, and there’s a chance they might not make it back. The knowledge that he might have died, almost did, without Bones knowing the truth makes his stomach knot again, and he blinks rapidly when he feels moisture gathering in his eyes.
“I almost lost you.” The words are barely a whisper, harsh and broken, and Jim is convinced he’s the one who said them because he’s thinking them and they’re right on the tip of his tongue, but it isn’t his voice. He stares at Bones, clutching his shirt more tightly when he feels a thumb brush across his lips. “It’s not the first time, of course, but it feels like it,” Bones whispers, clearing his throat as he blinks down at Jim. He moves his hand suddenly, as if he’s going to get burned, and Jim raises his other arm fast, not caring about aches and pain as he grips Bones’ shoulder and tugs him down.
“You’re never gonna lose me,” he promises, voice cracking as the words slide against his sore throat. He leans up, pressing his forehead against Bones’ and sighing. “We’ve been gone too long now. They’ll be looking for us.” It hurts a little to talk, but it’s worth the discomfort in order to comfort Bones and get him to stop expecting the worst.
Bones lets out a short bark of laughter, soft puffs of air against Jim’s dry lips. “Great. Just what we need: Spock coming in and playing hero. He’ll be smug for weeks.” Jim can feel Bones’ fingers tentatively moving through his hair, careful not to brush over the wound but softly caressing his scalp in a soothing way. “I’ll deny it until I die, but I’d really love to see his pointy face right now.”
“He’ll find us.” Jim’s sure of that. Spock didn’t want them to come down, after all, and Bones’ distrust of Weller had caused Spock to be cautious about him, too, not that either man would likely admit to sharing the same opinion. In the future, Jim’s going to trust Bones’ freaky sixth sense because he doesn’t want a repeat of today if he can avoid it. He tightens his grip on Bones’ shoulder when he remembers the way Weller looked at him and thinks about all the ways this could have been even worse, could still be if their hiding place is found by those creatures. “Need to hide.”
“We are hiding.” Bones shifts position, which makes their noses rub together. “I carried you to that lake. Weller didn’t want us going near it, remember? I figured maybe, well, those things didn’t attack until it stopped raining, so that might mean something. Doubted it’d hurt to be near the water, anyway. It’d probably be easier for Spock to find us. I don’t know. Might have been a stupid idea. I’m not a strategist, damn it--”
Before Bones can start ranting and getting himself agitated again, Jim tilts his head slightly and presses their mouths together. The words stop instantly as Bones tenses, his body stiffening at the hesitant touch of Jim’s lips. He must have been wrong. He’d thought, after all that’d happened, that maybe Bones felt the same way. He’d never have kissed him if he hadn’t been reasonably confident, not wanting to ruin their relationship like this. Jim starts to pull away, feeling stupid and anxious and a dozen different emotions that make his head hurt even more, but Bones doesn’t let him get away. Instead, Bones leans in and kisses him. It’s almost shy, as if Bones isn’t sure what he’s doing, and Jim can understand that because this is different than anything that’s come before. Bones is different.
When they pull apart, Bones is breathing heavy, and Jim doesn’t need to see clearly to know the look that’s probably on his face. “Jim, what are we…”
“Don’t talk,” Jim says, leaning in for another kiss. Less hesitant, more firm, and he takes advantage of Bones’ parted lips. Their tongues meet, light licks and exploring touches before Bones groans, pulling Jim closer as the kiss deepens. There’s a desperate quality to the kiss, as if they both can’t forget they’re hiding from creatures that want to torture and kill them, but Jim kinda thinks it’d feel this urgent and needy regardless because it’s taken them years to reach this point. And he knows now, without a doubt, that they will be leaving this planet one way or another because there’s no way in hell he’s going to lose Bones now that he finally has him.