Fandom: Star Trek XI
Characters: Kirk, Bones.
Rating/Warnings: R, language, character death. Can read as slash or major BFFery. Is poetry a warning too?
Word Count: 1,327
Summary: It was an eventuality they had prepared for but one which Bones found himself unready to face. Jim must talk him into letting go.
Bones pulled Jim more firmly against him, pressing his hand hard over the gaping, bleeding wound in his torso. Jim’s head lolled against his friend’s shoulder, and his limbs were too heavy and loose, sprawled uncomfortably.
“Dammit, Jim! I’m your friend, not your pillow,” Bones grumbled, but the flat attempt at humor was more for Jim than it was anything Bones actually wanted to say. There was too much blood. There were too many enemies. There was too little time.
It was amazing that even after all these years serving with Jim—had it been ten already? Fifteen? He couldn’t remember, but it felt like forever—he always seemed to forget how much the other man bled. But he was intimately familiar with the amount of blood the body held, even his friend’s, and this was too much.
“Don’t die on me, Jim. Not now. Not days before we retire to cushy planetside positions where we get to send everyone else on the adventures,” he ordered, a raspy, pained sounding admonition. “Not now.”
Jim’s breath puffed slowly against Bones’ neck, and the blond groaned quietly. “Know… know I wouldn’t be happy b’hind a desk,” Jim slurred breathily, a slight wheeze to his voice.
“Dammit, Jim, no,” Bones cursed again, pressing against the wound harder and squeezing his eyes shut with equal force, resting his forehead against Jim’s head. “I can’t let you go.” The request lurked under Jim’s struggling words—Bones knew him so well after so long.
“Bones…” His name was said on a sigh and a groan. “Un’er t’ wide an’ starrr… sky...”
Bones stifled a sob against Jim’s matted hair. Anyone else would call Jim delirious at this moment, but Bones recognized the quote. Jim had once quoted the poem to him when they were both drunk and morbid after Earth was saved but Vulcan was destroyed. There was even a small, framed, calligraphied version of it on a wall in Jim’s quarters somewhere.
“Dig the grave and let me lie,” Bones whispered hoarsely, hunkering down lower as he heard more shots being fired nearby. “No, Jim, no. Please.” Leonard McCoy had never begged anyone for anything in his life, but he begged now.
“Glad did I live,” Jim continued stubbornly, one hand struggling to lie across the top of Bones’, to press hard against it. It managed to weakly brush the blood-streaked appendage. “Glad did I live,” he repeated emphatically, as if to impress on Bones how he felt. Bones could hear the meaning behind it—gladly did I live with you at my side, you at my back, you in my heart.
“But not die, Jim, not die. What about the chaos we’re supposed to cause back at central command?” He was babbling, probably in shock himself, and desperate.
“Y’ know ‘s not m’ place. ‘S yours, Bones.” Jim coughed, a hard, painful sound that ground his spine against Bones’ chest. “Gladly… die. On’y regret… leaving you.” There was a pause and for a frightful moment Bones though Jim had died or passed out. “An’ t’ crew, an’ Spock,” he added as an afterthought, but it didn’t have the same weight as the previous words. “Most’y you.”
Bones cried. He couldn’t help it. He’d loved this man too long to lose him now. “No, no, no. NO. Jim.” A shudder ran through him along with the sob. “James.”
“Oh, Bones…” Somehow, someway, Jim’s hand reached up and cupped Bones’ damp, dirty cheek. “’S okay. Jus’… in t’ next room.”
It was so easy to forget how smart James Kirk was, even after all this time. Until he did sentimental shit like this and quoted random shit—poetry of all things—at someone in such a profound way, or suggested a revision to an equation, or did something so profoundly genius that you were reminded of it. But poetry, vaguely recognized and remembered poetry from books Bones’ had seen in his quarters through the years… now, of all times. It was enough to break Bones’ heart.
“I’ll wai’ for you for the interval.” The reassurance was given weakly, Jim’s breathing becoming more labored by the second.
“You better, you bastard, you damned well better,” Bones rasped. “You fucking well better.”
Jim’s thumb brushed Bones’ jaw gently. “Lemme go, Bones… bring me ‘ome… bu’ lem’ go…” He was fading and fast.
“I’ll bring you home, I promise,” Bones swore. He continued to hold him tight, but his lips brushed Jim’s ear. “And I laid me down with a will.” It was only seconds after those words of acceptance, of benediction, that he felt Jim’s heartbeat falter, stutter, and stop. The rescue team found them over an hour later; they had to sedate Bones in order to get him to release the body.
The service was attended by nearly as many people as the mass memorial service for the personnel from the Narada incursion so long ago. Too many people, too many sympathies. Bones was numb. His daughter, in her Starfleet uniform, quietly directed his movements and gently urged him to respond when addressed, despite the fact that she very obviously wanted to cry as well. Joanna had adored her Uncle Jim.
It wasn’t until afterward, when Bones took Jim’s ashes as laid out in his will and as discussed in the past between them, that he started to feel again. He clutched the urn to his chest and booked the shuttle flight to Iowa. He rented a vehicle there from a man who seemed to doubt his sanity but allowed it anyway. And from there, he drove to the farm where Jim had grown up.
There was a quiet corner under several trees in the furthest pasture. Jim had shown it to him once, the first time he’d dragged Bones to Iowa. He’d acted like an enthusiastic child showing off, going so far as to grab Bones’ hand and drag him, but Bones had been able to read an underlying seriousness to his demeanor.
Once there, Jim had flopped down and patted the ground beside him. They’d sat in silence for a long moment before Jim broke it by saying, “I hated growing up here, but I love this spot. It’s beautiful, especially at night, when the stars shine. There’s peace here. This is where I want my ashes to be scattered when I die.”
And as quickly as he’d said that, he’d changed the subject, but Bones had always remembered it vividly.
Bones sat, his bones aching with the age and experiences acquired since the last time he was here as well as with the grief that permeated his entire world. He stayed there for hours, urn in his arms, cradled like a precious child. He stayed until the sun set and the stars started to wink in the sky, clear here in a way they never were in San Francisco. There was even the smudge of the Milky Way. Finally, after the darkness had settled around him, Bones opened the urn. Slowly, into the gentle breeze, he tipped it out, and softly into the silence he murmured the poem that had meant enough to Jim for him to remember as he was dying.
“Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be,
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.”
Ashes gone, settled and floating still, Bones bowed his head and cried once again. He must remember to bring Joanna here, so she would know where to bring him when he died—bring him here, bring him home, like he had done for Jim.
But despite the grief, he knew deep down that it was as Jim had quoted in the other poem. Death was nothing, and they would meet again.
He just had to survive the interval.
A/N: The main poem referenced is Requiem by Robert Luis Stevenson. It does not belong to me. Neither does the other poem, Death is Nothing at All by Henry Scott Holland. Thanks to triskellion for the beta!