I’m going with sad this week. I still feel crappy and I’m feeling sorry for myself, so therefore, so is Jim. My challenge was Bones, a Birthday and a Malfunctioning Tricorder.

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We were getting a rare bit of shore leave. And on Risa, of all places. But I didn’t feel at all happy about it. Partying hard was the last thing I wanted. More like drowning in my own sorrow.

I took my rotation and made my way down there. I spotted my favorite Risan bar right away. It was ridiculously crowded and not at all what I wanted. So I turned away to seek another establishment.

I was surprised to see Spock beaming down as he always told me he didn’t need shore leave. So surprised I invited him on instinct.

“Mister Spock. Surprised to see you here.”

“Indeed, Captain.”

“I’m about to go sit and have a drink. Want to join me?”

He hesitated for the barest of maybe ten seconds, but his gaze moved beyond me to where I noticed, for the first time, Uhura stood waiting. She had changed into a blue dress with a deep vee, exposing an ample amount of her breasts. The dress had a handkerchief hem and reached down to about the middle of her calves. She had little matching blue slippers on her feet. She wore her long hair loose. She looked pretty. Ready to take on the pleasures of Risa.

Spock glanced back at me. “Nyota and I have plans to attend the concert in the garden courtyard. You are welcome to accompany us.”

I’d rather eat boiled slugs. But I made myself smile and shake my head. “Nah, that’s okay. You go ahead. Enjoy the concert.”

He inclined his head but then said nothing further as he quickened his pace to join her. She linked her arm with his and they continued walking in the direction of the garden center.

For a brief time I had thought…but no. Bones had said there had been trouble between them during the Krall incident. But whatever it had been had obviously been resolved.

And really, it was not my business. It never would be.

I turned away from the sight of them and kept walking until I found myself a fairly quiet bar. I sat at the far end of the bar counter and ordered myself two whiskey sours.

“Two drinks when you’re drinking alone is not good.”

I glanced at my best friend and smiled. “How’d you find me?”

Bones took the seat next to me. “Followed the smell.”

“Ha.”

He gestured to the drinks the bartender had set before me. “What’s up?”

“It’s his birthday, you know.”

Bones frowned. “Who’s?”

I stared at the drinks, left them untouched for now. “Sam.” I picked one up and swirled it in the glass. “Or was.”

Bones was quiet for a while. Then he said, “I’m real sorry about your brother and his wife.”

“I hadn’t seen him in years.” And yet his loss still hurt.

“Have you heard from your nephew?”

And that was weird, wasn’t it? Having a nephew but no brother.

“This was his favorite drink.” I took a sip.

“You’re ignoring the question.”

“I haven’t. It’s difficult with him being on Earth. And Aurelan’s parents are raising him now.”

I heard the low whine of the tricorder Bones held in his hand as it scanned me.

“Bones.”

“Damn fool thing. According to this, you’re dead.”

I smiled slightly. “I guess you need a new one. Unless I am.”

“You aren’t. And I’m going to see it stays that way.”

I pushed the other whiskey sour toward Bones. “Have a drink with me for Sam.”

He picked it up and we clinked glasses, both taking a sip.

“I resented him, you know. For leaving.”

“I can imagine.”

“Mostly because he got away.” I swallowed heavily. “He never had to go to Tarsus either.”

“No,” Bones agreed.

“But he went to Deneva.” I sighed. “Birthdays suck.”

“Yeah.”

I finished the drink, letting it burn down my throat and then pinched the bridge of my nose. “God, this is a shitty day.”

“Want me to get Spock?”

I laughed. “For what? So he can parade his girlfriend in front of me? No thanks. I think I’m just going back to the ship and sleep for twelve or fourteen hours.”

As I rose, he put his hand on my upper arm. “You’re depressed.”

I snorted. “You think?”

“I’m concerned, goddamn it.”

“I’ll be fine, Bones.”

“Jim—”

I hugged him then, because at the moment it really felt as though he was the only one who cared. Stupid and wrong, I knew. But even still.

“Why can’t I love you instead?” I whispered.

He shook his head. “I wish I knew. Life doesn’t work that way.”

I nodded and pulled away. “Not for me. I do love you.”

Bones paused, his eyes becoming very sad. He nodded, then looked away. “I love you, too, kid.”

I looked at the now empty glasses on the bar. “Happy Birthday, Sam.”

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