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Story Notes:
July 30, 2009
The team leaves in fifteen minutes. That isn’t enough time, but it’s going to have to be. This isn’t the time to think about wasted years, after all. Jim knows the risks of this mission. He’s heard the percentages and listened to Spock coolly discuss the chances of success based on different variables. It doesn’t require looking at the faces of his officers to know that they are preparing to mourn even before the mission begins. There have been other missions in the past three years where his life has been threatened, missions where he returned to the Enterprise barely alive, yet he always knew, somehow, that he’d be okay.

This time, he doesn’t. And maybe that scares him a little, even as he accepts that it’s a good day to die.

When he reaches Medical, he scans the area but doesn’t see Bones, which means he must be in his office. He squares his shoulders and walks to the door, fully aware of the sad looks from the crew before they look away quickly. It must be all over the ship by now. A suicide mission is what Scotty’s calling it, and Sulu even suggested obeying the orders from Starfleet to retreat because the risk is too high. Jim can’t follow those orders, though, not when it’s a situation like this. There are children on Quarpo III being tortured and abused, women being raped and kept as slaves, men being killed or forced to perform atrocities in order to survive, and he can’t simply fly away because he doesn’t want to die.

Bones is staring at the wall when Jim enters his office. There are two glasses on the desk, and he smiles slightly at the familiar sight even as he bites the inside of his cheek to keep from breaking down. He’s the captain, which means he has to be strong. Sure, there’s a ninety-two percent chance that he’s not going to make it off Quarpo III alive, but he’ll be taking the sadistic leader with him when he dies. The citizens will be saved. Hell, maybe they’ll write a song about him or something.

“I have to be in the transporter room in thirteen minutes,” he says, taking his customary seat across the desk from Bones. He picks up the glass and takes a drink, recognizing the full flavor of the expensive bourbon that Bones usually only brings out for holidays and important occasions.

Bones glances at him and nods. “You’ve got time for a drink, then.”

“Yeah.” Jim licks his bottom lip and studies Bones’ face. There’s not going to be any demands that he stay and send someone else. There won’t be any yelling or ranting this time. They fight a lot, silly bickering that makes them both feel alive, but this isn’t the time for that. Bones knows why Jim has to do this, even if he’s not happy about it. It just isn’t something they have to talk about, and Jim’s grateful for that. Because there’s a small part of him that isn’t sure he could refuse if Bones asked him to stay.

“We’re ready here, so beam directly to medical if there’s need,” Bones says slowly, staring at Jim in a way that says so much more than his words. They’ve been best friends for six years now, like brothers, only not because Jim feels things for Bones that aren’t at all brotherly, and Bones feels things, too, even if they’ve never done anything about it. Friendship is more important than sex.

“Alright.” He takes another drink, holding his glass tighter as he thinks about this being the last time he’s going to share bourbon with Bones. The last time he’s going to look across the desk to see his best friend. “Bones, I--“ He stops because he doesn’t want to say. There’s too much to say, and none of it’s the right thing. He’s got to leave in ten minutes. That’s not enough time. And, damn it, he can’t help but think about lost time now that he’s here with Bones. All those months, the years, they’ve wasted. Friendship is important to them, but why couldn’t they have tried for something more?

“Save it, Jim. You can tell me when you get back.” Bones’ voice is gruff and slightly hoarse, breaking just a little near the end. He takes a drink and keeps staring at Jim, saying everything Jim wants to hear with his eyes and the curve of his lips and the tilt of his head.

“Yeah.” He laughs then, a dry laugh that sounds almost hysterical to him. “When I get back.”

“Eight percent odds, I’ve heard. You’ve had worse,” Bones points out, stroking his thumb over his glass as he gives Jim that intense ‘you’d better not fuck this up’ look. Bones has faith in him, even with these terrible odds, and that just makes Jim love him a little more.

“The people down there need us,” he says, reminding himself of that when he feels the selfish desire to live and see his thirtieth birthday and to have a future where maybe friendship can become the whole messy complicated relationship shit that he finds himself longing for now that he’ll never have it.

“You know that you’re gonna get your ass reamed when Starfleet finds out you disobeyed their orders to retreat.” Bones shakes his head slightly. “Be ready to deal with that when you get back.”

“Can consider that one of the positives of the ninety-two percent, I guess. I don’t have to deal with Starfleet then.” His attempt at humor falls flat, and he cringes slightly when Bones’ lips tighten. When he gets back, Bones keeps saying, and maybe that’s how Jim needs to think about it. When and not if. But he has to accept the if so he can go down there and do what needs done without putting his own life above everyone else’s.

“The positives for the eight percent are better,” Bones finally says. “Besides, we have an important conversation to finish when you’re done with this mission, don’t we? One that I think we’ve put off long enough.”

Jim finishes his bourbon and stands up. “I need to go,” he murmurs. “Whatever happens, just know that I’m always gonna be with you, yeah?”

“Stop it, Jim,” Bones growls softly, closing his eyes briefly as he takes a deep breath. “You sound like you’re about to go get yourself killed, which isn’t acceptable. Understood? Besides, when the hell did we start needing words and shit to say what we mean?”

“Words are pretty pointless,” he agrees as he walks around the side of the desk. “I just needed to say something, you know?”

“I know.” Bones smiles wryly, his gaze concentrated on Jim, following his movements closely.

“Enough with the talking.” Jim leans down as Bones tilts his head back. As far as first kisses go, it’s a bit awkward and messy, with teeth clanking and noses getting in the way, but that doesn’t really matter. Not when Bones reaches up to hold him so tight and they keep moving their mouths and faces until everything fits perfectly. Jim grips Bones’ shoulder as the kiss deepens, and he puts everything he feels into it, all the things he’s thought and wanted and felt over the years even before his feelings changed, and Bones gives it all back to him, the passion and need and understanding that makes it difficult to breathe when they pull apart.

Bones tightens his grip on Jim, and his voice is low and raspy when he says, “Eight percent odds, Jim. Prove them all wrong, got it?”

Jim blinks and nods, leaning down for one more desperate kiss. When he straightens up, he rubs his eyes with the back of his hand and fusses with his uniform. “Got it, Bones,” he whispers, wishing it were that easy. He smiles, a real smile because he doesn’t want the last image that Bones has of him to be scared or forced. “I’m always with you. Always.”

“Like a bad cold.” Bones smiles, forcing it at first before it becomes more natural. Jim sees the dimples and the promise in his eyes. “Just remember that you don’t believe in no-win situations. Now get out of here. You’ve got a planet to save and I’ve got work to do.” Bones stares at him, telling him that he feels the same way, that he’ll be waiting, that they’ll make this thing between them work out, that it’ll be okay, that all Jim has to do is survive and come back alive.

“I’ll remember that,” he promises, taking one last look before he leaves the office and goes to the transporter room. The odds of survival aren’t great, but eight percent still means that it’s possible. It might be a good day to die, but that doesn’t mean he can’t beat the odds and finish that conversation.