Title: This Doesn't Taste Like An Intervention
Author: [personal profile] calicokat
Betas: [profile] black_regalia & [profile] dirty_smudge
Pairing: Bones/Chekov
Rating: R
Warnings: Alcohol, naked Russians, vengeful!Jim and pickle brine.
Summary: Every couple has their first spat. Only the when, the where, and the why are left to question.
Notes: Sequel to " Waiting Three Months To Learn What You Didn't Sign On For." Part six in a series.

Star Trek and all related properties © and TM 2009 CBS Studios Inc. and are used without permission.



This Doesn't Taste Like An Intervention
by [personal profile] calicokat




Today's alpha shift had been longer than Pavel cared to think about. Ship's morning had rolled around ten hours after a thirty-six hour standoff with two Klingon Birds-of-Prey. Nobody's nerves had fully calmed and the diversity of personalities among the senior officers was never more apparent than when tensions turned inwards. They'd lost the conflict – finally ordered to retreat by Starfleet Command. After thirty-six hours in condition yellow, everyone wanted a crack at something, even if they took it out on a friend.

The little Klingon vessels had looked like laughably diminutive circling the massive Constitution-class Enterprise, but no one in the Federation would joke about the power the ships packed. Some fifteen years ago, Klingon technology had leapt from competitive to awe inspiring. The Federation had only just assessed that the Empire spent the past twenty-five years reverse engineering the Narada after they retrieved the crippled vessel after its fight against the Kelvin and imprisoned its crew. The Klingons had no hesitation about throwing their weight around, in this case staking a claim on a comparatively massive, newly discovered dilithium deposit just within Federation space. The Federation and the Empire had spent those thirty-six hours negotiating a trade agreement, with the Enterprise at the center of a conflict that could have easily escalated into war.

After watching Kirk and Spock almost provoke each other to fisticuffs and having his own unexpectedly waspish exchange with Sulu at 1300, Pavel had come off his shift ready to blow off tension. Nowadays, that either meant getting knocked around the gymnasium by Sulu or keeping an eye on hallway foot traffic and slipping unnoticed into his boyfriend's quarters for naked recreation.

He'd chosen the sex.

Sitting naked at McCoy's desk with his anus still aching from the comfortable stretch of penetration, a continuous reminder of just being fucked into the pillows of a bed, Pavel was catching up on Federation news over the subspace network. McCoy had left to hit the showers, still unwashed from fifty-four hours ago, while Pavel had bathed that morning. It had made sex a little funky, but McCoy looking rugged with two days of stubble more than made up for it.

Pavel was contemplating taking a second shower (because he smelled more like his boyfriend than was strictly pleasant now that the rush was wearing off) when he hit Enter through a system notification that popped up over his browser. As the words "Establishing Connection" suddenly appeared over the screen, Pavel's suddenly panicked mind backtracked three steps and he stared at the notification underneath the grayed out screen: Incoming Call, Rebecca Lipsitz, Charleston, West Virginia, United States, Earth.

A Human woman appeared on the screen. With her hair pulled into a loose ponytail, wispy strands drifting free, her face clean of make-up and a sweatshirt on, holding a mug of dark, steaming liquid Pavel assumed was coffee, Pavel got the impression she'd only recently woken up. As he realized his own state of undress, he felt his face begin to redden.

She did a double take, pulling back a little and then taking a closer look. Laugh lines winkled at the corners of her eyes when she squinted, and Pavel guessed she must be close to Leonard's age.

"I'm sorry—" she said, and then, "Who are you?"

Pavel straightened a little, gathering the little professional composure he had left with his hair a mess and his clothes off in somebody else's bedroom in front of a stranger.

"Pavel Chekov, ma'am."

"Do I have the wrong room?" the woman asked with mounting trepidation. Pavel saw her eyes dart to the link readout at the corner of her screen and a block of ice sank into his stomach. "—alright. No. I don't," she said, visibly bewildered and becoming tense and suddenly masking both with better-practiced professional reserve. "How old are you?"

Chekov swallowed nervously. Even if he didn't tell her the truth, one search string with his name on it on the subspace network would tell her what she needed to know. Youngest marathon winner. Youngest Starfleet graduate. Youngest ensign in the fleet.

Younger than she probably wanted to hear.

"Seventeen, ma'am," he said with his chest in knots. "Eighteen in two months."

"Seven—I'm sorry, is it Chekov?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Does your captain know this is going on?"

"—yes, ma'am."

"Well, that figures. I can't believe they made Jims a captain," she mumbled, but brought her line of questioning quickly back on track, her eyes hard and piercing from the viewscreen: "Do your parents know?"

Pavel tensed, her onslaught completely unanticipated. He didn't appreciate the question from a stranger whose identity he could loosely assume who'd attacked the dignity of a captain he respected.

"I don't think you have the right to ask me that," he politely insisted, surprised by the sharp, cool detachment in his voice.

"So, they have no idea," she confirmed. Her lips pursed tightly and frustration cracked her professional façade. She looked tired and worried and exhaled sharply. "Christ on a stick. Where the fuck is Leonard?"

Adrenaline had hit Pavel's veins, but had no outlet, with no action to be taken. Instead he kept his tone crisp and removed.

"He vent to shower. I do not know vhen he's coming back to the room"

The woman was obviously displeased, as if she was withholding a lot of anger she wasn't willing to take out across the viewscreen.

"Please tell him to call Rebecca," she said curtly.

"Yes, ma'am," Pavel promised, his heartbeat accelerated and breathing nervous as the viewscreen cut out.

He got up from the desk, skin discomfortingly itchy. He walked the floor until his upset calmed and finally took a seat on the bed, its sheets still rumpled from all the sex he'd had earlier.

McCoy came back in another five minutes, in uniform with his towel hung around his shoulders and his face clean shaven. He stopped two feet into the room, because Pavel wasn't pretending like everything was alright – sitting uncomfortably on the edge of the bed, hunched over with his elbows resting on his knees.

"—something wrong?" McCoy asked astutely. He tugged the towel off his shoulders and tossed it onto his desk chair.

Pavel nodded, taking a deep breath and knowing his lover wouldn't really want to hear what he had to say.

"I accidentally answered your phone."

"Okay," McCoy said, cautiously waiting for the other shoe to drop. "Who was on the other end?"

"I think it was your ex-vife."

Bones looked from Pavel to the desktop monitor and Pavel could see the switches flipping to tense and angry and defensive.

"Rebecca?"

Pavel felt a little queasy.

"Da."

McCoy twitched as he rounded on Pavel.

"Why the hell would you even answer my phone?" he demanded, throwing a hand wide.

"I said it vas an accident!" Pavel retorted, not used to being on the receiving end of McCoy's temper, although he'd seen it inflicted to great effect on Jim and Spock.

"Great," Bones snapped, because apparently it wasn't an excuse. His eyes gave a cursory glance to Pavel's bare body without any of the usual affection. "Naked? You answered it naked?"

Pavel felt a scowl coming across his face.

"Because I vas naked."

McCoy huffed a lot of angry air, searching the room for a source of recourse or maybe somebody else to blame.

"This is unbelievable," he swore, and then, louder: "Goddamnit."

Pavel felt shaky all over, and tried to keep his own rarely exercised temper under control, offering hopefully:

"Maybe it's not—"

McCoy cut him off, still railing, and all his anger falling squarely back on Pavel:

"You didn't exactly look happy when I got in here, so I'm pretty sure it is. Does she at least know you're not fifteen?"

Hurt spiked inside the teenager, along with any lack of body confidence he'd ever suffered.

"Yes. Yes, she knows that," he placated quietly, a sinking sorrow taking the place of his own mounting temper.

The doctor didn't seem to notice, starting to pace the floor.

"I have to call her. I can't—" He broke off what would have been a string of explicatives starting with fucking. "—Have her making a stupid fuss and taking my visitation rights," he amended darkly.

"I'll go," Pavel supposed, not looking at McCoy and trying to hide his distress.

He moved stiffly around the room, collecting his clothing and yanking it over his body with more anger than he anticipated. Eventually McCoy stopped nervously pacing and stood there awkwardly, probably knowing he'd done wrong and coming down from his snit, but Pavel didn't want to look at him and left without fixing his bedroom hair or checking the hallway.

There were two science officers loitering nearby, and he didn't know if either of them noticed him as he tried to walk with some kind of composure and shake off his nerves. His eyes burned hot, but he only shed a couple of angry tears that he wiped off with the butt of his hand.

____


McCoy stood where he'd stood when Pavel walked out, staring at the floor, hands stuck on his hips, collecting his temper and already feeling like a jerk. That didn't bode well for when the anger wore off and he really felt like a jerk. He'd known eventually he'd end up yelling at the kid over something, because he'd never not yelled at somebody over something if they occupied the echelon of close personal acquaintance. There was a troubling aspect to him accepting that as inevitable that he didn't want to look too closely at right now.

The immediate problem was Rebecca, and McCoy took a seat at his desk and pulled up the subspace communications log, feeling a little bit intimidated as the network dialed her back.

She came onscreen in a white pullover tank, part of one of her three piece suits, one earring in her ear and the other in hand, her hair ironed but no make-up on, somewhere in the middle of the thirty minute assembly line of getting dressed.

"Leonard," she said. He hated it when she used his name like that – like it left a bad taste in her mouth. There wouldn't be any pretense of friendship, today.

McCoy decided not to pretend like he had something to hide. (He didn't have anything to hide. Not really.)

"Pavel told me you called."

Rebecca sized him up like welterweight champion stepping into the ring, but she didn't go on the offensive, remaining civil, instead.

"Right. You told me to get in touch when Joanna's standardized test scores came back."

McCoy set aside his own tensions for his legitimate interest in what she had to say.

"—how'd she do?'

"Above mastery in mathematics and distinguished in reading and language arts," Rebecca said, unable to keep from sounding as proud as she deserved to be.

"That's great, Becca," McCoy told her earnestly.

Normally, he would have asked her to put Joanna on so he could tell her himself he was proud of her, too. At nine years old, she was still a little confused and upset that her father had become only an intermittent presence in her life after her fifth birthday. He tried to mitigate that without overstepping Rebecca's boundaries.

From the looming danger in Rebecca's expression, McCoy didn't think he'd be talking to Joanna today. He didn't ask to.

"Pavel," she said, his name ominous, like an oncoming storm. "Are you two…?"

"Dating," McCoy supplied. The terminology was debatable, without any actual dates taking place, but 'fucking' didn't cover it, either.

"You're dating a seventeen year old," Rebecca stated, but somewhere in there were about a hundred questions McCoy didn't have the time or the patience for.

"I'm dating Pavel, who also happens to be seventeen," he corrected, because he knew she loved word games.

Rebecca made it obvious she thought he'd lost the rest of his mind with an exasperated roll of her eyes.

"He's eight years older than our daughter! That's closer to her age than yours. What would his parents think?"

McCoy had wondered that more than once, and hadn't asked, but he wouldn't concede that blow to his ex.

"I don't know. You know what? I don't know his parents. He's an ensign on this ship."

"Do you honestly think a seventeen year old is equipped to deal with a thirty-one year old man with your history?" she pursued, not ready to stop until she tasted blood.

McCoy's teeth clenched and he steeled himself against her oncoming rant. She saw she'd found purchase and pressed the advantage.

"He's not age of majority, Leo. He can't go out and buy a car. He can't vote. —I hope to god you're not supplying him with alcohol."

McCoy felt a twinge and lashed back, despite himself.

"I'm not 'supplying him with alcohol'!" He could hear the volume rising in his voice. "Could you stop being a—"

"'Bitch'?" she anticipated hotly. "Because I'm—"

"Lawyer," he snarled over her.

Her mouth snapped shut, although her defensive anger continued to simmer in her eyes.

"No, Leo. I can't stop being a 'lawyer.'"

He tried to be a doctor, in turn, and remember what their screaming fights did to their blood pressure.

"—am I doing anything illegal?"

Her lips pressed to a thin line.

"No," she admitted, but remained suspicious. "Not illegal. Immoral? Possibly – and probably unethical."

McCoy slumped in his chair, eying her back with equal suspicion. For once, she gave in first, leaning on the sides of her wall mounted monitor with both hands. She let her anger go and he felt the heartache coming on like it still could when she broke his guard.

"I'm scared. I care about you. I cared I couldn't keep you sober. I was afraid," she said, quietly – he'd heard these words before in different iterations, but she always had to remind him. "Just because I couldn't let Joanna stay in that environment doesn't mean I stopped caring. I'm sorry if naked teenagers don't sound like a cause for concern to you."

He saw the woman he'd loved gripping both sides of the console like she could shake him by his shoulders across a few thousand light years of space. She could still beat the shit out of him with the right words and more sympathy than he sometimes deserved. He didn't need her sympathy, now, though, and knew he wasn't in the wrong.

Maybe in a few more years being right would even start to save him from being wrecked by her.

"Becca, this is not the speech I need right now," he told her, sounding exhausted and feeling it down to his bones. "I'm almost happy. You remember happy?" He clenched and relaxed a hand uselessly, stress bringing on the nervousness that used to fuel his phobias. "Look, nobody here knows we're sleeping together except Jim. And maybe that's—…It might not be the way to go at it. You're right." It always helped to soften her up by conceding something, first. "He's still good for me – and I'm not fucking his life up."

She nodded tensely, guardedly half believing him, but damn if it softened the bitterness in her voice.

"Just fucking him."

"Becca—" McCoy growled, all bluster because he managed to shut up before he started handing her ammunition. Somewhere he grasped she had a legitimate concern for Pavel's well being. He almost appreciated that – because he could relate to it – except that it was mostly unwarranted.

She took the cue to back off. Shoulders slumping a little, she paused, asking hesitantly:

"How's the drinking?"

He should've taken that in the spirit it was intended – as an offering of peace. He didn't.

"The drinking's great. I'm about to get right on it."

He could see he'd scored a hit, a wound reopening behind her eyes. He’d hurt her plenty over the years, and he always felt bad at this moment – the moment he knew he’d hurt her, and he’d intended to do so. But it always only lasted a second, because he hadn’t married a wilting flower. True to form, she went for the razor blades.

"…at least you can't wreck the car."

McCoy grimaced at the memory of crumpling aluminum alloy and coming to with blood in his eyes. Recrimination was coming on strong, and it didn't help the urge to chase away his consciousness.

"—night, Becca," he said numbly. "Tell Joanna I love her."

He could see he'd given as good as he got, her tells marking her as a mess of pain.

"I will, Leo," she said, softly, and the link cut out.

McCoy stared at the empty screen.

He tried to remember when they were young professionals together, excited about their futures and each other's potential, crazy in the sack. They'd had a spring wedding in the rain in front of friends and family and people made embarrassing toasts. Two months later, she stood naked looking at her body in the mirror and said Leo, I want the career and a baby. He stopped getting dressed to kiss her and ended up fifteen minutes late to class. She stopped getting her injections.

She had one more menstrual cycle before the day he dropped the groceries – orange juice busting open inside the bag. She stood in the kitchen at their rental house with a smile on her face wagging the digital display of her pregnancy test. She'd dropped the test and pounced, thrown her legs around his waist and they'd crashed into the refrigerator. They made love on the floor. As the pregnancy progressed, he hyperventilated about every potential medical scare just like anybody else who knew too much about what could go wrong with a baby and she rolled her eyes and played the tough one. And then Joanna…

His train of thought broke off. It hurt to think about her. It hurt to think about going from the father who was there for every first – words and steps – to birthday presents once a year, long distance phone calls and she'd grown two inches, and the rare visit to take her out for an afternoon.

He'd closed that chapter in his life. He and Rebecca fought too often and too loud, even before their marriage fell apart.

When he actually produced the bottle of whiskey and a snifter from his cabinet and set them on his desk, he had to question his slavery to his compulsions. He had no pretenses about this. There was no lie of 'just one glass' under these circumstances. A heavy pressure sat on his shoulders, and it felt like some invisible vise was crushing his head from both sides. He knew with just a glass, or two glasses, or six, the tension would ease and his thoughts would spread out. His body would relax, and breathing wouldn't feel like lifting weights. The tension tight in his forearms and his chest would ease into liquid relaxation. His stomach would burn warm and the world would take on a softer glow that made reality stop cutting like knives.

He took the usual steps to try and divert his attention while staring the bottle down. Did he have a shift coming up? – a glance at the clock. Not until 0800. Couldn't he just lie down? – it didn't feel like it, at this point. Did he have another downer on hand? – sleep medication could do it. He had leftovers from drugging Jim. Would he wake up with the stress to drink still hanging over him? – that feeling had a way of not going away for days, if he fought it in the first place.

And for all his considerations, he was knocking back his first glass, the sour mash whiskey cloyingly sweet. He could almost remember when it used to burn his throat raw. That sensation was reserved for shots of overproof liquor after years of abusing his body.

The relief was almost instantaneous, although not total. He could've believed one drink was enough, at this point, with the pressure on him diminishing and his body promising That's what I need, and This is all I need. It felt like the itch had been scratched, but he knew from experience and had to remind himself it didn't work out like that. Pretty soon the intoxication would set in, and then it was just a little more and a little more than that and wouldn't it be nice to trip that trigger and step from tipsy to drunk? – that point where some essential element of consciousness disengaged and guilt and inhibitions fell to the floor.

The funny thing was, he was an intelligent man. He was even a responsible man, when sober, and usually, stiltedly, when drunk. That was the trick about alcoholism. He could be informed, and aware, and still watch himself doing this – but not enough like a spectator to be blameless. He remembered when it had started controlling his life, after the tragedy of his father, when he'd been drunk for days at a time and could go through the useless processes of talking himself out of it while climbing in the car to hit a quick mart or a liquor store.

He started to feel the whiskey – that sensation that he was floating behind his eyes, not quite like anything else.

He consoled himself with the fact that this hadn't happened recently. He mostly had Pavel to thank for that.

(Shit, he'd bitched at Pavel.)

This wasn't a binge, though; it was just a bad night. He thought – he was pretty damn sure – he could go back to a glass every few nights, even as he poured himself some more whiskey and lamented the bottle was three fourths of a liter. Hitting the bottom of a bottle usually stopped him from digging out the next one, mostly from drunken inertia, but a big enough bottle meant he'd drink until he forgot to drink any more.

(Pavel hadn't deserved that…)

His thoughts grew more circuitous as the alcohol really hit his blood stream. (A screen full of angry ex-wife when the kid had been naked and happy must have blind-sided him out of nowhere.) He stopped tasting it so much after the first couple glasses and it got easier and easier to imbibe. (Maybe Rebecca had a point. Seventeen was no age to deal with an angry, alcoholic fuck-up of a boyfriend.) Eventually he wandered to sit on his bed, taking his glass and bottle with him. (He'd shouted at Pavel. Pavel hadn't deserved to get yelled at. Pavel deserved better than him. He shouldn't have shouted at Pavel…)

He stopped drinking some time around two a.m. when his body had gotten heavy but his mind couldn't be more wide open and the world moved like water. By that point, he felt goddamn awful about taking his fear and apprehension out on Pavel. He grew possessed with the fact that he needed to apologize and made it to Pavel's quarters with years of experience pretending to walk straight and almost managing it.

It occurred to him, shortly, that Pavel was already asleep, but he'd already buzzed his door and was leaning on the doorframe for support. The door whisked The kid looked pretty good in pajama pants that hung low on his skinny hips and a serious case of bed head, curls flattened in places and sticking out in others. McCoy stared at him a minute, eyes on the muscles that made his collarbone stand out sharp and gave his skinny arms firm definition. He slowly registered Pavel was staring back at him, but with bewilderment.

"You're drunk."

"…yeah," McCoy said, and tried to remember why this'd seemed like a good idea.

"You're drunk. Outside my bedroom."

McCoy wondered blearily if there was a trick to that statement. He nodded a little and privately hoped there wasn't. Pavel made the most exasperated sound McCoy had ever heard out of him and stepped out of the way, obviously inviting him in. Not one hundred percent on his diminishing ability to find his room again, he accepted the invitation. The Russian thumbed the overhead light on.

"It's 0200," Pavel informed him as the door slid shut, not the most impressed he'd ever looked with him.

"I know. I didn't think—…I forgot you'd be sleeping," McCoy apologized, wobbling in the middle of the room. He guessed he hadn't digested all the alcohol he'd put in his system, some of it still sloshing around in his stomach. He didn't know if he wanted to let it digest, but at this point he didn't have a lot of options unless he wanted to (embarrassingly) talk Pavel into helping him induce vomiting.

Pavel stepped over, putting his hands on McCoy's waist and turning him toward the bed. He gave him a gentle push at the small of his back and McCoy focused on his goal and ended up crawling up the foot of the bed and letting himself collapse face down on it. It felt better not to move, the world spinning at his sudden reorientation. He decided to lie just like that for a minute.

Pavel didn't join him on the bed, but leaned against the wall, skinny arms folded across his chest. McCoy had time to think about him in the silence. He liked him. Loved him. He hadn't intentionally wanted to show up like this. Not really, anyway. He probably should have gone to Jim, who'd nursed him through worse nights than this, except it'd been Pavel he'd been thinking of. He closed his eyes and tried to find the apology he'd been mustering for the past half hours.

____


Pavel had been drunk more than a handful of times in friends' dormitory rooms and at parties and concerts. Moreover, he'd had drunken friends he'd helped to the bathroom for a round of puking and swearing. He sensed a difference in Leonard's intoxication, although at first he couldn't put his finger on it. He studied the flushed, bed-planted face of the lover he knew better than anyone, and maybe not well enough.

Pavel hadn't decided if he was still angry with him.

McCoy finally collected himself enough to roll onto his side, which seemed to take more effort than it probably should have.

"I came to—" He had to take a minute look for the answer. "—to apologize. For bitching you out."

No. No, Pavel was still kind of angry, as it turned out – partly from being woken up at 0200.

"You said I look like a fifteen year old boy!" he rebuked crossly.

"That's not—" McCoy began, and then, with dawning perplexity, "Did I?"

Pavel let his head fall back against the wall, staring at the ceiling instead of his lover.

"How are you supposed to apologize when you're too drunk to remember what you said?" he accused, easily able to assess that Leonard hadn't considered that before wandering halfway across the Enterprise.

McCoy grunted with the logic of that statement.

"Whatever I said. I'm sorry." He sounded fervent enough that Pavel's heart sank and came over to sit beside him on the bed. He reached out to touch Leonard's hair, brushing it from his face and supposing he really did look miserable about everything.

The misery. That was the difference. Pavel associated drinking with family gatherings and some of the best times he'd spent with his friends at the Academy. The idea of drinking to drown a sorrow had never really occurred to the ensign, but his lover's unhappiness was easily visible.

"Your conversation with Rebecca didn't go vell?" Pavel asked, wondering if that was too personal a question and deciding if it was they weren't as close as he'd hoped.

"My conversations with Rebecca never go well," McCoy assured him.

Pavel frowned, his fingers lingering behind McCoy's ear.

"I don't vant you to be unable to wisit your daughter because of me."

Leonard took his hand, carefully pulling it down to kiss his knuckles, his lips dry.

"That won't happen," he promised, although he didn't sound convinced. Pavel gently tugged his hand free to pet his lover's hair. His past experiences hadn't equipped him for this situation. Inside, he floundered, out of his depth.

"So vhy get so drunk?"

McCoy laughed, but it wasn't a happy sound and it wasn't at Pavel's ignorance, either, just something sort of sad and sick. He turned his face against the pillow, sinking into it and shutting his eyes.

"That's the question, innit…?"

Pavel took a deep breath, his hand resting on the crown of Leonard's head.

"Have you thought about not keeping alcohol in your room?" he wondered, feeling a bit young for even asking.

"It's not—…I'd just go to the replicator. I've gone a lot further than a replicator," McCoy said, chuckling unhappily.

Pavel contemplated calling Jim, not as his captain but as Leonard's best friend and a man who seemed determined to adopt him as a friend, by association. Normally when he needed advice, he talked to Sulu, if not McCoy, but explaining why the chief medical officer was drunk in his room in the first place seemed like a tall order for 0200.

"I vant to help you, Leo, but I don't know vhat you need," he said gently, utterly lost.

"Sorry—…Sorry. I didn't mean to show up like this. No, there's—…I'm sorry. I should've stayed in my room," McCoy mumbled, coming in and out of trains of thought, half slurring his words and briefly squeezing his eyes shut like he had a headache coming on. "M'sorry…"

Pavel believed him, because he sounded sorry, but he wanted to tell him it didn't make it much easier now that he hadn't stayed in his room. He still wanted a better apology, but it had become painfully obvious Leonard wasn't equipped to offer one. As indignant as Pavel still felt, right now he was mostly worried and, honestly, a little frightened of his own inability to affect his lover's suffering.

He got up and walked to the other side of the regulation bed, climbing onto it and situating himself behind McCoy. He slipped an arm around his chest and held him near him, pressing his face against the back of his neck and smelling the whiskey on him, strong and saccharine. His embrace, at least, seemed to have some effect. McCoy groaned quietly and relaxed against him, heavy in his arms.

"Better…?" Pavel asked quietly.

"Better," McCoy agreed with a soft laugh that sounded better humored.

"You do not usually drink so much," Pavel supposed, having tasted whiskey on Leonard before but never having seen him drunk.

"I used to, though," McCoy confessed. "There were about two years after my dad passed…hell if I could sober up…"

"What happened to your father?"

McCoy's answer, while slurred in places, was delivered concisely with the rote automation of memorization:

"Intravenous injection of sodium thiopental, inducing coma, followed by twenty milligrams of pancuronium bromide, inducing complete respiratory paralysis – subsequent death from respiratory acidosis and hypoxemia."

"Oh," Pavel said, understanding a little more than three fourths of it. "Oh," he repeated, comprehension dawning as he put the words together, and he tightened his arm around Leonard.

"I was one year out of med school. Progress of his disease accelerated. He wouldn't see anybody else…His son, the doctor. He kept sayin' he was so proud…And then he started begging to die with some dignity." McCoy sounded more resigned than conflicted. Pavel nodded against his neck, where he could feel it, and kissed his skin. He couldn't really wrap his mind around being asked to euthanize another human being, and not his own father.

Pavel had killed, and known he'd killed, with photon torpedoes he'd aimed and launched, their matter-antimatter explosions ripping through the decks of enemy vessels where strangers scrambled to man their own battle stations and engineers died asking their all of their ships. The Narada had been the first, and total, and there had been others, since. He had lost lives under his watch, as well, as early as his first mission, counting down the meters to Chief Engineer Olson's incineration and being unable to act fast enough to save Commander Spock's mother.

He didn't allow himself to pretend the losses of both enemies and allies didn't affect him, but they routinely came under the feather light bleed of adrenaline into his veins, in times that demanded he give his all and sort the consequences later. They weren't the consequences of premeditated actions. They didn't offer him days, or weeks, or maybe months to weigh the outcomes. They never happened close enough for him to touch the dying, or see their faces.

"I am sorry that you lost your father that way, Leo," he murmured softly.

"So m' I," Leonard sighed.

"You need to sleep," Pavel decided, because somebody needed to exercise authority over the situation and, unfortunately, it was left up to him. "Later I vill vake you up and give you some vater. I hate drinking vater when my stomach has just put up vith vodka."

"Okay," McCoy consented. "Sounds good."

Pavel held him awhile in silence, until his breathing had evened out and he'd fallen into slumber. He didn't feel tired anymore, himself; awake with the distress of his own ineffectiveness. He carefully wriggled out of bed, pulling the covers over McCoy and stopping to look at him. He'd watched him sleep before, of course, sometimes the first one up, but that was always in McCoy's room (it seemed strange to see him amongst his personal belongings) and Leonard had never been stripped this bare.

Still disquieted, Pavel headed to his desktop monitor, taking a seat and adjusting the volume down. He dialed intership, vaguely guilty about the early hour but unwilling to wait until McCoy had sobered up to commiserate with someone.

Jim appeared on screen leaning into his monitor and blinking and rubbing his eyes. A yawn overtook him, face stretching out of shape, and he said "Pavel?" so loud and incredulously that Pavel recognized his instinct to lower the volume as an apt one.

"Sorry, Keptin, I vanted to talk to somebody – and you are the option," he whispered.

Kirk grew suspicious, dropping his own voice.

"Why are we whispering?"

"Leonard is drunk and unconscious in my room," Pavel confided, experiencing an immediate relief now that he suddenly felt less isolated.

"He's drunk in your room?" Kirk exclaimed, failing to whisper at all. "Do I need to come kick his ass?"

"No!" Pavel hurried to correct as Kirk sat back in his chair and might or might not have been about to get up. "No, it's alright. I just—I felt like I needed—I…It's alright. Really."

"Okay…Okay, I believe you," Kirk said, sounding disappointed and making a disappointed face.

"I just thought that you vould probably know vhat to do vhen he's drunk. He seems wery unhappy."

"Yeah," Kirk said, scratching at his morning stubble, his face relief-lit in the light of his monitor. "He's a broody drunk. Don't take it personally."

"That is…difficult. Ve argued earlier, because I answered his phone and his ex-vife…I vas maybe naked." Pavel fought the urge to hide his face.

"Ooooooooooooh," Kirk groaned, wincing. "I am sorry. Rebecca. Yeah. I've met Rebecca."

"I got that impression," Pavel admitted shyly.

"No. Okay. You can't freak out when there's ex-wife drama," Kirk explained, splaying his fingers in the air demonstrably for emphasis, whispering long forgotten. "That's like McCoy rule one: There will be ex-wife drama. That is not your fault."

Pavel tried to take the captain's assertion to heart, but guilt still twinged at him.

"Don't make that face!" Kirk scolded pointing at his viewscreen. "That's a guilt face." He folded his arms across his bare chest. "I'm telling you, and he'll tell you the same thing when he sobers up: Rebecca makes him freak out, and then he's a total dick to everybody. There's no excuse, either. But I am totally here to lay on a beatdown if he makes you—oh my god, did he make you cry?"

Pavel gawked at his captain, not really wanting to lie to his superior officer because he wasn't very good at lying, anyway, and not really wanting to see Kirk beat up his boyfriend, either.

"Not wery much! I'm really alright!" he whispered insistently, knowing he'd turned six shades of crimson.

"That bastard," Jim swore, disbelieving.

"You don't need to hit anybody!" Pavel avowed. "Especially not my boyfriend!"

Jim made his fresh disappointment clear in his frown, but he huffed and said Fine and Pavel breathed a sigh of relief.

"—you really okay?" Jim asked cautiously. "We can go kick around in the gym, grab a late night snack…?"

Pavel shook his head, but he smiled.

"Thank you, Jim, no; I really just needed an ear. Besides, I don't vant to leave Leo by himself."

"No. Seriously. Kick the jerk out an airlock," Kirk contended, but he couldn't maintain his stern expression long and one side of his lips quirked up slightly.

"I think instead I vill get him some vater and try to go to bed," Pavel decided, mirroring the wan smile, with that particular course of action still leaving him with a lover in the morning.

"Yuh-hunh, and I will sit here. Awake. In the dark," Kirk agreed, nodding authoritatively. "—hey," he amended. "Call me whenever. I'm like a twenty-four hour Bones McCoy troubleshooting line."

"—but mostly you vant to hit him," Pavel pointed out astutely. "And mostly, I do not vant you to hit him."

"I'll try and control myself," Kirk swore, reluctantly, crossing his heart.

Pavel sighed at his captain, but couldn't deny his amusement. It had been incredibly awkward at the time, but by now he was thankful Jim had discovered his relationship with McCoy.

"Chekov out," he said routinely, breaking their communication.

____


McCoy woke up with a familiar headache throbbing at his temples. His mouth tasted stale and sour and he identified after a few moments that he wasn't in his room, the bed in the wrong place in the shadows cast by the ship's chronometer on the wall panel. The weight against his back and the smell of the pillow told him Pavel slept beside him, which meant it had to be Pavel's room. He slowly pieced together memories from the night before, increasingly fragmented and indistinct after his first glass of whiskey. He knew that if he moved, when he moved, he'd feel a hell of a lot worse than he did now, and just might learn he needed to vomit. He'd started to realize how dry his mouth felt, at this point, though, and there'd be no getting back to sleep until he'd had some water – whatever the consequences.

He groaned as he pushed himself out of bed, still in his uniform although it wrinkled against him in strangle places. He heard Pavel stir behind him.

"Leo…?" the teenager murmured.

"—gonna be sick," he decided, his body feverishly hot and the pounding in his temples acute and disorienting.

"Go be sick. I vill get you something to drink from the replicator," Pavel said, more generously than McCoy thought he deserved. He had the computer check the hall for passersby before he staggered out of the kid's room looking like shit warmed over. The brightness of the hallway lights made the world too sharp to look at. His hands shook as he gripped the edge of the toilet and emptied his guts of bile, stagnant booze and the half-dissolved remains of his dinner. There were few flashbacks to his youth with this kind of post-intoxication experience. Nauseous, sledgehammer hangovers were almost exclusively the domain of life at and after twenty-seven.

Still feeling like shit, but not like puking, he emptied his bladder, rinsed his mouth out, and dragged himself back to Pavel's room, trying to look as put together as he could in the hallway – but he'd seen himself in the mirror and it was a pretty haggard face.

The lights were on in Pavel's room and something smelled alright. The kid'd set out a meal on the desk and McCoy recognized the bacon sandwich, looking loaded with fatty, greasy replicated bacon that looked suspiciously good, but he didn't identify the oversize glass of cloudy liquid sitting beside it. Pavel was sprawled on his stomach on the bed reading a PADD, and McCoy wasn't sure if he was getting a cold shoulder but he risked asking, anyway.

"What's in the glass?"

"Pickle brine," Pavel announced. "Russian cure for hangovers. Full of electrolytes."

McCoy guessed from his continuing view of the kid's back that he'd made an ass of himself last night, but to rectify that he needed to take the edge off his hangover symptoms. His first sip of pickle brine told him, no, the kid hadn't been feeling all that generous after all. He shuddered as the cold liquid poured through his under regulated system and took a seat at the table. One bacon sandwich and a full glass of brine later he had to admit it hurt marginally less to be alive.

"Thanks," he said cautiously, and Pavel set his PADD down and rolled over to sit up on the bed, folding his legs beneath him.

"Of course. You are feeling better?" If Pavel was angry, his concern looked genuine, his eyes as big and expectant as ever.

"I think I can live through my shift," McCoy said, checking the clock. 0652. He had about an hour to pull himself together.

"Good. I do not vant you dying on your shift. Also: You are a dick. I am sorry I intercepted your communication, but I did not deserve to be yelled at, and I do not look like a fifteen year old boy."

McCoy cringed; impressed the kid could deliver an indictment without breaking that clipped, polite, accented pace. He almost started apologizing, but a memory snagged him from and odd angle and he thought he'd done enough of that last night.

"—you didn't deserve to be yelled at, and you don't look like a fifteen year old boy," he agreed, instead, because Pavel didn't deserve to be yelled at and as sweet a face as he had he'd lost the baby cheeks of a younger teenager, his face mature and angular..

Pavel frowned, worry lines troubling his brow.

"That didn't feel as good as I vanted it to."

McCoy snorted softly, looking away at his empty breakfast plates and appreciating the hell out of Pavel right now.

"Never does," he apologized with the voice of years of experience.

He heard Pavel shift off the bed and then the teenager touched him on the shoulder. He turned into a half-expected kiss and Pavel gripped his face and kissed the breath out of him. McCoy reached out to grip him at the waist, Pavel's mouth tasting clean against the flavor of his breakfast. Pavel made a small, hungry noise and pressed closer, a hand clutching McCoy's wrinkled sleeve.

McCoy remembered catching his arm a week ago, hand closing around his slender wrist as Pavel slipped out of bed. He remembered Pavel's startled eyes turning back to him, full of questions. He remembered Hey…I love you and the kid's face brightening like he'd been waiting for it, and he had, because days had passed since he'd whispered his own devotion.

He gripped Pavel's jaw and eased the kid away from him, shaking his head, even as hurt and concern registered in Pavel's expression.

"—don't do it like this. You'll be just as pissed off when we've come."

Pavel scowled, a little accusative and a little confused and every inch young and emotional. McCoy hurt for him, loved him for it, and held firm, even if he wanted to drag him onto the bed and fuck him until he had no doubts left that McCoy wanted to keep him exclusively his own maybe until both of them were old enough to think they'd been young and stupid, right now.

"I've had a lot of angry make-up sex," McCoy pointed out. "Let me make this up right. Come beat me at chess in the rec room tonight and then we'll get dinner. In mess."

Pavel stared at him a long time, expression blank and reeling, and then his smile spread brilliantly over his face, and, this time, in total surprise. After a minute of looking stupidly joyful, he schooled his expression back to slightly cross, warning:

"You were still a dick, just like Jim said."

"—wait. Jim? What?" McCoy asked, thrown for a curve and possibly a titch of suddenly, inexplicably jealous.

Pavel kissed him on the forehead.

"But: You are the man that I'm dating, and I vill tell you everything vhile we're playing chess."

McCoy couldn't argue with that logic, still kind of spun as he kissed the top of Pavel's head in return and headed out to find a hot shower. He still felt too-warm all over and his head kept up a steady pulse of aching pain, and his uneasy stomach did a somersault as he thought about pulling off a first date after eight hours in sick bay when he hadn't pursued a relationship in public since he first met Rebecca. He'd have to suck up the worries about his career, gossip on the ship, and when the hell Jim had been hanging out with his boyfriend, though, because, apparently, he'd committed to the commitment he'd been looking for.



"Sometimes We Drink To Remember, Sometimes We Drink To Forget">>
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