They’re the only two left. The other five members of their landing party have been slowly tortured and killed in the last five days, since they got caught exploring the newly discovered planet and first contact resulted in them being put in a makeshift cell. Leonard is pretty sure that his ankle is sprained, and Jim definitely has a broken hand. Of course, those injuries aren’t going to be very important soon. Not when one of them will be next.
“I wish that I’d made more of an effort to know my daughter,” Leonard says quietly as he stares at the rock walls that make up the majority of their prison.
“Stop that, Bones,” Jim warns. His voice breaks, too raspy and hoarse for Leonard’s comfort. The lack of proper food and water is hitting Jim hard, not that it’s any easier for himself. They’re both getting weak, though that hasn’t stopped them from fighting whenever one of the aliens has come to get yet another crew member.
“I don’t have to be half-Vulcan to know the odds aren’t good, Jim,” he points out, his own voice raspy. “It’s getting colder, which means they’ll be here soon for one of us.”
For him, because he’s not letting them take Jim while he’s alive to stop it. If he’s going to die, it’s going to be on his own terms, preferably quick so Jim won’t have to hear him screaming during torture. Those screams from the lost crew members are already haunting him, and he doesn’t want that for Jim, even if he only lives another day once Leonard is gone.
“That’s why you don’t think about odds, Bones. You think about us getting out of here and nothing else.” Jim coughs and cradles his hand against his abdomen while staring at Leonard.
“It’s been five days, as far as we can tell.” Leonard sighs. “It’s rather difficult to not think about the odds when we’re stuck here waiting to die.”
“I’ve tried to get us out,” Jim says. He looks broken when Leonard focuses on him. “I’m just so tired and there’s no way out.”
“This isn’t your fault.” Leonard can see the guilt and blame already forming in Jim’s expression, and it makes him angry. “We’re going to die because a bunch of aliens are blood-thirsty murderers. You’ve done everything that you can to protect us, Captain.”
“If I had, we wouldn’t be preparing to die.” Jim cringes and glances at the entrance to their cell. “I shouldn’t have had you come here. I could have brought anyone from medical, but I had to have you. It’s my fault that you’re here.”
“I think I prefer the optimism to this negative remorse,” he mutters. “I don’t want my last hours of life to be spent listening to you accept the blame for everything. I chose to come down here, so that’s my responsibility, not yours.”
“My last hours,” Jim says. “I won’t let them have you. Like you said, it’s been five days. Spock and the others have to find us soon. The planet isn’t that fucking big. It’ll give you another day if they take me tonight.”
He doesn’t argue because he knows that he’ll go tonight. Jim can live another day and, hopefully, be saved before it gets cold again. Instead, he looks back at the rock wall and says, “I hope that Joanna doesn’t resent me. I should have fought Jocelyn more, should have done something to be a better father.” He licks his lips and clears his throat, wishing he had some water. “I don’t suppose you have any regrets, do you?” Jim always lives life so fully that Leonard can’t see him ever not doing something he wants to do.
Jim laughs weakly, which makes Leonard glance at him. He’s staring at the entrance to the cell again. “You’re wrong.” Jim shifts on the dirt covered ground and leans back against the stone. “I know about regrets, Bones.”
“Oh?” Leonard watches Jim. “What’s your biggest one, then?”
He sees Jim tense and doesn’t think he’s going to answer. Then, he hears Jim speak so quietly that it might not even qualify as a whisper. “I regret never telling you that I’m in love with you when we had time to actually do something about it.”
There’s a feeling in Leonard’s gut that he doesn’t recognize. It’s heavy and twisting, like a weight that’s making it difficult to breathe and think. Jim’s in love with him? He can’t believe it, even though he knows that Jim’s not lying or joking around. Not at a time like this. What’s he supposed to say to that? Jim’s his best friend, the only person in his life that he’s willing to die for, which is something he never really expected to have to prove until now. He cares about Jim, and, okay, maybe there have been a few times over the last five years when he’s thought about Jim sexually, but it just isn’t anything he’s really considered.
“Forget it,” Jim says, rubbing his bicep as he keeps his attention on the entrance.
“Jim--“ He isn’t sure what to say, not that he gets the chance. There are footsteps coming closer, and he feels a rush of adrenalin spread over him. He ignores the throbbing in his foot as he crawls over to Jim, watching those pretty blue eyes widen as he gets closer. Leonard impulsively kisses him, shaking as he raises his hand to grip Jim’s neck as he starts to return the kiss, deepening it as the footsteps get closer. He presses his fingers into Jim’s skin, finding pressure points and hoping he's strong enough for this to work, feeling him go slack as he goes unconscious. “Forgive me,” he whispers before he moves to the entrance of the cell.
When the aliens arrive, they see Jim passed out, and Leonard starts fighting them, getting in a few punches after they open the cell. He can’t understand their language, so he doesn’t know what they’re saying, but they drag him away from the cell and leave Jim alive, which is all he wants. They strip off his clothes when they reach an open area where others of their kind have gathered. The torture starts immediately, and he bites his lip hard enough to bleed to keep from screaming.
He isn’t sure how long it lasts when he hears an explosion. Everything becomes gray as smoke fills the space. Arms move around him, human arms, and words are murmured against his ear, ‘Doctor’ ‘safe’ ‘Captain’ ‘Enterprise’ before he slips into darkness.
His head is killing him when he wakes up to find himself lying in a biobed. His back and legs hurt, too. He can remember the feel of a blade against his skin and the smell of burning flesh, which makes bile rise in his throat. He turns his head and vomits, getting it on him and the floor. It takes him a minute to become aware of the hand smoothing down his hair and the other rubbing his back.
“It’s okay, Bones. You’re safe. I’m never gonna let anything happen to you,” Jim is murmuring repeatedly while petting him. When Leonard finishes throwing up, Jim is there to wipe his face and clean up the mess. He looks tired and pale, but his hand seems to have been healed. Or possibly it’s still healing. Leonard can’t really tell, and his head aches when he tries to focus on the injury.
“What happened?” he asks, coughing as his throat burns from talking.
“They located us, but it took them time to infiltrate the caves,” Jim says. He sits down in a chair beside Leonard’s bed and takes his hand. “They got us out before you…” He trails off and gulps before he tightens his grip on Leonard’s hand. “What the hell were you thinking?”
“That I had to save you,” he says simply, studying Jim’s face. He squeezes Jim’s hand as he comes to a realization that isn’t as surprising as it would have been before they got captured. It’s very possible that he’s in love with his best friend. More than possible. “Now, we have time, Jim.”
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July 17, 2009