not to be Gay but I can't imagine for the life of me how Bones could *not* love Jim. both in a friendly way and in an "I'm in love with you way". it's just kind of an inevitability imo and Bones is 100% the type of person who gets all sappy and adorable in private because Jim Kirk Deserves To Be Loved Dammit and Bones doesn't really do "casual" (plus no way would Jim do that with Bones because It's Bones???)
*holds ur face in my hands* anon,,, if this is you being Gay,, please always be as Gay as possible
this is such a beautiful ask; i don’t know if i’ll be able to provide even half as satisfactory an answer, but i’ll do my best
- a simple fact: bones loves jim. bones is absolutely head-over-heels, awfully, terribly, ridiculously in love with jim kirk.
- it’s not an easy kind of love. it’s a very difficult, complicated sort of love, and yet it’s also the simplest kind- age-old, bone-deep devotion, slowly developed over years. bones would go to the ends of the earth for jim kirk, alongside jim kirk, with
only milda lot of complaining, but that’s the thing: he’d follow jim anywhere; no matter how much he grumbled and criticised jim’s often questionable decisions, he’d drag himself by a fingernail to be with jim every step of the way.
- it’s not instant love, either. there’s no chorus of angels, no sharp sting of cupid’s arrow hitting it’s mark when bones sees jim kirk for the first time. when bones first meets jim on that shuttle in iowa, he just sees another kid starfleet scraped off the streets and stuffed his head full of pretty, empty promises of honour and hope and glory and the excitement of exploring the vast uncharted void of space. they’d swallow him up and, once they’d extracted everything they could gain from him, they’d spit out the broken, useless remains.
- bones has already left a daughter and an ex-wife behind. he doesn’t someone else to take care of. someone else who will destroy themselves and drag him down with them when they do. but when bones looks at jim- really looks at him- and sees the determination built on more than just starfleet’s manufactured fantasies burning in his eyes, he realises he has no choice in the matter.
- bones is a healer. he has a gift for repairing people, for putting them back together. that’s why he became a doctor. and bones knows jim, before he even knows jim, will be an unstoppable force when he decides to rush headlong into danger and dash himself to pieces at the bottom. but maybe, just maybe, bones can be there to pick up the pieces. to hold them together as best as he can.
- (loving jim is an inevitable conclusion, but the journey to get there is a complicated one, one that bones has to undertake and accept in his own time, on his own terms.)
- and so every day for three years, bones forces himself to wake up in the morning, and every day he finds himself by jim kirk’s side, listening with incredulity to this genius kid with his too-loud mouth that can’t speak in whispers and his too-bright eyes that are feverish in their intensity ramble on about his hopes, observations, ambitions and opinions and somehow, no matter how much he gripes and insists that jim’s a damn fool, headed for a hard fall one day, mark my words, he somehow finds himself agreeing with him every single time.
- jim kirk burns his candle at both ends, and yet somehow stubbornly continues to burn hotter and brighter, even as the darkness closes around him, and bones finds himself realising he’d do anything to be there to weather the storm for this kid who has no concept of personal privacy and steals his alcohol, who labels him with shitty nicknames and petty insults that sound too much like fond endearments to be safe, who gets into stupid fights because he can and always calls bones first because he knows bones will drop whatever he’s doing to be there with harsh words and gentle hands when jim kirk needs him the most.
- (a deep, long-buried part of bones knows that jim kirk is saving him, too, but that’s a secret he keeps even from himself, for both their sakes.)
- bones doesn’t just love jim- he’s devoted to him. it’s devotion that makes him follow jim into space- “disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence” and all- despite his aviphobia and his reservations about jim’s decision making-abilities, because at the end of the day, where else would he go?
- and so every day bones forces himself to wake up and carry on, and every day it gets a little easier and yet so much harder at the same time, because one day bones looks into jim’s eyes and finally sees what he thought was reckless abandon and a hunger for self-destruction replaced by the hope that lit them from within all along, and soon after has to stop looking altogether, because doing so causes his mouth to go dry and his heart to stutter painfully in his chest.
- bones knows he can’t have jim. jim won’t survive being tied down, and bones refuses be the one to clip his wings and try to ground him. bones is a doctor- he’s good at putting things back together, repairing them. he’s also very skilled at taking them apart.
- bones has taken it upon himself to hold jim together when the rest of the world is against him. he won’t betray jim’s faith in him by breaking him. bones devoted himself to jim and to starfleet the moment he first stepped on the enterprise at the beginning of their five-year mission. he’s made his peace with that. and that’s enough. it has to be.
- and it is, until they’re on a recon mission and for the first time in months there’s no hostile native species, no tricks or traps or battles to be fought, and the whole crew is relaxing on the planet they beamed down to. chekov found a lake with clean water, and spock deemed it safe enough to bring food down to the surface. and bones is just sitting and watching them all enjoy themselves- chekov and sulu examining the local flora, uhura reclining on the grass with chapel, spock trying to console a fretful scotty- when bones looks up and there’s jim kirk, standing directly in front of him, one hand thrust out like an offering.
- “go with me” says jim. “where?” asks bones, and jim smiles. “does it matter?”
- and as bones forces himself to meet jim’s eyes for the first time in months and sees his own devotion reflected back at him, something inside him falls, gracelessly, but with an inevitability that is strangely comforting, into place.
- oh, it says.
- there you are, it says. i’ve been looking for you.
- bones stands up and dusts off his pants. “alright” he says. jim hasn’t moved; his hand is still outstretched, waiting.
- he takes it.
shkshjs im sorry this turned in a rambly fanfic/headcanon dump