Who said “I love you” first
Just in casual conversation.
They’re just shooting the bull in Bones’ office. Sickbay is slow today, and Jim’s not on bridge duty until beta. They’re only a week into whatever this is, but after spending years in each others’ pockets and six months in deep space, there’s nothing unusual about seeing the captain in sickbay or the CMO on the bridge, and the conversation is easy, comfortable. Jim’s got his feet propped on Bones’ couch, and Bones is sprawled haphazardly across his desk, swinging his left foot and sipping a cup of coffee.
“I’ve got seven in engineering that are late on their vaccination schedule,” Bones is saying. “So, I’ll be handling that fallout later today.” He shakes his head and makes a mental note to check Jim’s record. “I don’t know what it is about engineers, Jim. It’s just a damn hypo.”
“Hey, Bones,” says Jim suddenly. He sits up on the couch, as if the thought has only just occurred to him. “I love you.”
It surprises Len.
In fact, Len doesn’t even answer, he’s so shocked.
In fact, Len spends the next 30 seconds or so hacking and sputtering on the coffee he’d inhaled.
“Jesus, Bones, I just professed my undying devotion to you,” Jim laughs. “Try not to die on me, okay?”
“I’ll… I’ll have your records transferred to M’Benga,” Len says when he can finally speak.
Jim just rolls his eyes.
Who would have the other’s picture as their phone background
The background of Len’s PADD is solid black. Anything else distracts him as he’s trying to read.
The background on Jim’s PADD is a picture of the bridge crew on their most recent shore leave.
They’re on a beach. The sand is fine and black, the sky painted in streaks of soft oranges and greens. Jim’s grinning widely, holding a sprawling Chekov in his arms. Bones has his arms folded across his chest, but the tiny grin that tugs at the corner of his lips and his dancing eyes give him away. Sulu and Scotty are both in mid-air, Scotty’s face screwed up in concentration, Hikaru’s arms and legs outstretched like an exuberant starfish. Nyota’s got hold of one of Pav’s feet, and she’s laughing. Spock looks particularly relaxed, one hand resting delicately on Ny’s shoulder.
It’s Jim’s second favorite picture ever.
When he activates his device, though, the background changes.
This one is of Bones.
It’s a rare moment. Jim had snapped a photo of Bones on that same shore leave, on that same beach. It’s rocky, here. Bones is propped on a large white stone, weight resting on one hand, the other arm slung easily over his knee. He’s looking over the water, away from the camera. He’s shirtless, still damp from swimming, hair mussed from the wind. He’d been completely heedless of Jim’s presence, relaxed and utterly at peace, a soft little smile dancing on his lips.
It’s the only candid picture of Bones that Jim has, and Jim will never, ever change his background to anything else.
Who leaves notes written in fog on the bathroom mirror
Jim likes to leave notes for Len everywhere, not just in foggy mirrors. In fact, Jim has a bundle of old school yellow sticky notes that he uses for exactly this purpose.
It starts in the academy.
Jim leaves an occasional note for Len to find. Len’s confused by them, at first.
He thinks, at first, that it must be some sort of strange recall technique, a weird study habit that Jim had picked up from… somewhere.
When they start to pile up, Len decides that enough is enough. He gathers them up and stuffs them in a spare shoebox. He tosses the box under his bed, thinking Jim can ask for them, if he needs them.
It’s not long before he has quite the collection.
The notes never say anything important, sometimes a random word - “Vagarious,” or “Apoptosis,” or “Jumentous.” Sometimes it’s a quote. Jim’s got an astounding repertoire of collected wisdom, Len learns, referencing everyone from Mark Twain to Surak to Lady Gaga. Sometimes it’s just a garbled, out-of-context sentence - “I do not know where family doctors acquired illegibly perplexing handwriting,” - and occasionally, Jim sketches.
He sketches everything, little scenes from his day, Len’s medkit, a PADD, a discarded bottle of brandy. Jim’s not an artist, not by a long shot, but his subjects are instantly recognizable to Len, if a little cartoonish.
Len finds a few of himself. One in particular that he’s pretty confused by.
He’s sleeping, he can recognize this by the scattering of zzzz’s that surround his face and his (over-exaggerated, Len thinks) mussed hair.
This note is labeled.
“Lips,” it says.
Len furrows his brow at this one, but adds it to his box, anyway. It’s just a habit, by now, his automatic response.
At the beginning of second year, when Jim’s Survival Strategies field study group goes missing, Len finds himself sitting on his bed with the box in his lap.
Jim’s been gone for days. Len’s hounded and hounded administration, and gets the same deferral every time. “We have no information to disclose,” they say.
Len takes the notes out of the box one by one and just stares.
The depth of emotion that they evoke, the ridiculous sentences punctuated by stark wisdom - “Gary eats lots of pies,” juxtaposed with, “It is paradoxical, yet true, to say, that the more we know, the more ignorant we become in the absolute sense,” - the surprisingly elegant script, it all brings Len to his knees, and in that moment, Leonard McCoy quits fooling himself.
He’s in love with Jim Kirk.
Jim, of course, comes sauntering back into the apartment at 3 am that morning, unkempt and sleep-deprived, but otherwise totally fine.
And Len can breathe again.
He doesn’t say anything about the notes, but he starts to look forward to them. He’s keeping them intentionally now, storing them up for the one awful, inevitable day when Jim doesn’t come back to him.
“It’s just part of the game, Bones,” Jim’s words echo in his thoughts. “Command is all about sacrifice.”
Len feels a little guilty about it, like he’s doing something he shouldn’t, like he’s harboring a dirty secret by hoarding away little pieces of the man who will inevitably break him. Loving Jim Kirk is like loving a streak of lightning - blazing, brilliant, blinding and beautiful, but gone far too soon, and leaving a trail of devastation in its wake.
Len knows he’s going to get burned, but he keeps the notes anyway.
Later, after the boys fucking finally sort things out and Len pulls his head out of his ass, it becomes a game to Jim, leaving sappy post-its around sickbay for Bones to find.
And Len saves them.
Every single one.
Who buys the other cheesy gifts
Totally Len, at least at first.
It starts during their first Christmas at the academy.
Len buys Jim a coconut bra.
Jim wears it proudly, sauntering up and down the dorm hallways and singing Blue Hawaii at the top of his lungs until Len’s burying himself under his blanket and wondering what in the name of god possessed him to think that would be a funny joke, anyway.
After that, it becomes a fierce competition.
Who initiated the first kiss
When Jim beams back on board after spending a week and a half in a Romulan prison camp, something in Len snaps.
He charges up the steps of the transporter pad, heedless of his audience, and catches Jim hard by the upper arms.
Jim, who’s shirtless and smiling.
Jim, who appears to be remarkably intact.
Jim, who’s eyes are impossibly blue and sparkling.
Jim, who’s bare skin is deliciously warm beneath Len’s palms.
Jim, who is so wonderfully, blessedly alive.
“You stupid, stupid fuck,” Len breathes, and then his lips are on Jim’s.
It’s instinctive, automatic.
Jim’s eyes open wide, and then he’s kissing Len back, feverishly, desperately, clinging to Len like a drowning man, soft little groan humming in his throat.
It goes on for a while. Len curls his body protectively around Jim’s, and Jim melts into him, finally, finally, and it’s like coming home.
“Oh,” says Jim, a little breathless, as Len pulls back.
“Yeah,” Len tells him simply.
And after that, things fall into place.
Who kisses the other awake in the morning
Len, contrary to popular belief, is the early riser of the two. It’s a product of years of early morning surgeries and wonky call schedules; try as he might - and oh, does he try - he has a hard time sleeping in.
It’s a rare thing, on the Enterprise, for them to have a morning together.
Len savors it.
Len lays still as long as he’s able. He counts Jim’s respirations, the steady in and out whoosh of soft breaths that tickle Len’s cheeks and flutter gently through his hair. He numbers the tiny freckles that kiss Jim’s nose, traces the delicate curve of Jim’s eyelashes and the tilt of his jaw.
He lays there and he memorizes Jim, piece by piece, reveling in the stillness of the moment and the heat of Jim’s bare skin on his.
Finally, when he can stand it no longer, Len eases carefully out of bed and replicates a cup of coffee.
He has every intention of letting Jim sleep, of sitting on the edge of the bed with his hand resting on Jim’s shoulder and the latest issue The United Federation Journal of Neurosurgery pulled up on his PADD, but then Jim gives a snuffling little sigh and crinkles his nose just so, and Len is done for.
He slides smoothly back into bed, wrapping his arms and his legs around Jim and starting at the hollow of his neck.
Who starts tickle fights
Jim tries this once.
Who asks who if they can join the other in the shower
It is a foregone conclusion that Jim’s gonna follow Len uninvited everywhere.
Into his office.
Into the bathroom.
Into medical staff meetings.
Into supply closets.
Into the shower.
Who surprises the other at work with lunch
During the academy, he can rarely catch Len. Their schedules never quite seem to jive, and when Jim does occasionally slip out of his Tactics class a little early, Len always seems to be seeing a patient or doing a case.
He manages it just once, in their third year. Len’s shocked to see him, but grateful for the sandwich. They sit huddled in the tiny clinic break room, and if Dr. McCoy seems a little less tense after, “Jim Kirk, my roommate, not my boyfriend,” leaves, well, the nurses don’t say a word.
Later, on the Enterprise, it’s a little easier. Jim typically a has a pretty good idea of what Bones’ schedule looks like, not to mention a direct commlink to the CMO, so they take their lunch breaks together more often than not, usually in Bones’ office.
Bones will never admit it, but it’s the highlight of his day.
Who was nervous and shy on the first date
Len’s a bundle of nerves too, but seeing silver-tongued Jim stumbling over his words fixes that real quick. Len’s an utter gentleman by nature, and god, after so long, it’s just so good to finally be with Jim, without pretense or doubt, that Len finds all his apprehension falling away. He’s suave and charismatic, disarming Jim with an easy smile and a southern charm that’s as natural as breathing.
Years later, Jim asks him about it. “Were you not scared, Bones?”
Bones shakes his head. “Of course not,” he says. “I was with you.”
Who kills/takes out the spiders
“Bones.” Jim’s standing at the edge of the room, pointing a shaking finger.
“My god, Jim, it’s just a wolf spider.”
“It eats ants, Jim, not people.”
Jim’s shaking his head emphatically. “I do not care,” he whines. “I want it gone, Bones. Please.”
Bones is laughing now.
“It thinks you’re ugly too, you know,” he’s saying as he reaches with his bare hand. He’s paying more attention to Jim, not the spider.
The spider, who’s back seems to be writhing, pulsing, moving.
Len nudges her gently with a finger, and the babies go swarming, hundreds of them pouring from her back and scurrying across the floor.
Jim shrieks and launches himself on top of his desk. “Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.”
“Well, I’ll be,” says Len softly, wondering how the hell he’s going to get them all out, now that they’re scattered through the apartment.
It’s a long, long time before Jim forgives him.
Who loudly proclaims their love when they’re drunk
Jim boldly, loudly, unapologetically proclaims his love for Len when he’s drunk.
Len’s a little quieter.
Oh, he’s a shameless flirt, but his words are a little softer, the platitudes a little sweeter. He catches Jim by the waist and calls him beautiful. He nuzzles into the back of Jim’s neck, and he smiles into his skin. “Jim, Jim, Jim,” he whispers, over and over again, running his hands worshipfully over Jim’s chest and shoulders.
Jim is unashamed to admit that these are his favorite nights.