Ok but after Krall and Yorktown, and after the Enterprise is finally back in space where she belongs, it’s like someone turned the lights on for Jim.
He hadn’t realised how much he had been hiding from himself until he saw the bursts of colours from the stars and nebulae they passed, until he was surrounded by his crew’s happy, excited faces, until the gold of his shirt finally looked like gold again, instead of just another shirt for another day.
But it wasn’t just those things Jim took a second glance at, it was Bones.
And God, he didn’t realise just how blind he’d been until he finally saw Bones.
He probably shouldn’t have been staring, no, he definitely shouldn’t have been staring; a crewman was bleeding out on the table after an away mission gone wrong, but he was safe in Bones’ medbay now so Jim isn’t feeling too guilty about stopping like a slack-jawed idiot.
Bones was tired, shouting, and covered in bodily fluids that Jim didn’t want to even try to identify, but fuck. He was the most beautiful thing Jim’s ever seen.
“What are you looking at? Don’t you go have to be obnoxious on the bridge like a good captain?” Bones snapped at him when he finally realised Jim was still there, but Jim didn’t take it too personally, if you wanted the best treatment, you saw Bones. If you wanted decent bedside manner, you saw literally anyone other than Bones.
“You’re beautiful.” It just slipped out of his mouth, rather loudly by the looks he got from the nurses, but Jim didn’t care.
“What? Oh for the love of– Jim we had the damn discussion about telling me when you hit your head.” Bones hands the crewman off to the nurse waiting at his side, who spares Jim a quick nod and a smile before turning to her patient, and the next thing in his vision is Bones’ angry face. “What did you do? Bang your head off a low cave roof again? For such a smart guy you can be pretty dumb. Concussions are dangerous, Jim. Even for Starfleet Captains.”
“I didn’t hurt my head, Bones. You’re just- You’re beautiful.” Jim knows he’s got a stupid smile on his face, and from the way Bones’ is scanning his head it’s obvious he does sound like someone that banged their head in a cave, but he doesn’t mind so much. He can finally see. “I didn’t notice before, but I do now, and you’re the best thing I’ve ever seen.”
Bones stops trying to scan him, instead just squinting his eyes at Jim with a peculiar expression on his face.
It takes a good few minutes before Bones seems to come to a conclusion, and that conclusion appears to be dragging a hand across his face and sighing loudly.
“You’re the best Captain Starfleet has to offer, and it’s taken you nearly a decade to realise you like me. We’re doomed.”
“Wait you knew?” Jim is confused, and from the way Bones sighs, it’s apparent he’s the only one. “How could you know if I didn’t?”
“Because I like you too, you damn space cowboy. Now get out my medbay, you’re an embarrassment and I don’t want to be seen with you.”
And just like that, he’s being spun around and shoved into the corridor, where Nyota is waiting for him.
“Captain, you’re needed on the bridge. What’s with your face?”
Jim was pretty sure the crew was meant to actually respect their Captain, but that was an argument for another day. “Did you know I liked Bones?”
Nyota sighs, scarily not unlike Bones, and turns to head to the turbolift. “He finally told you? Thank God. Now can we go to the bridge?”
“Nyota, I am very, very confused.”
“You have date nights every Thursday, Captain. I don’t know how you didn’t know, but you and McCoy are a thing. You have been for a while.”
So they stand there quietly in the turbolift for a few seconds, before the grin creeps back onto his face. Bones likes him. The man more beautiful than all the planets and stars Jim’s ever seen likes him.