Beta: The amazing seren_ccd
Warnings: Sex and violence, but only for the deserving.
Word Count: 50000
Disclaimer: Nothing recognisable is mine, and trust me, I'm making nothing from this!
Notes: Written for het_bigbang.
Three weeks of leave separated the first and second years of her training at the Academy, and she spent two of them at home with her family trying to sound convincingly excited about nursing before taking a shuttle to Titan to meet up with Carol for a week’s indulgence at a spa hotel there. It had been hard to talk to her friend about her experiences in Starfleet without mentioning Section 31, but she had managed it. For all she knew, Carol could be Section 31 herself, and could have orders to silence her if she spoke about it. She doubted it – Carol was so sunny and cheerful and devoted to her work that she just didn’t seem the type to be a potential killer. Carol had taken a lot of convincing about Christine’s switch to nursing from medicine, but Christine thought she had sold the story well.
She had changed her ideas about the importance of nurses as the year had progressed. Doctors charged in and out of patients’ lives, but nurses were the ones that they saw the most and who developed a better relationship with them. She’d come the top of the class, and she was determined to stay on top in her second year too. This year she wouldn’t be so closely monitored during her time on the wards, and she’d be taught new procedures. She’d also be involved with surgeries after a period of observation, and she idly wondered if she’d see McCoy more this way.
He’d been a very pleasant stress relief during the past year, and they’d developed a tentative friendship outside of the times that they’d spent in bed. It helped that they were both still affected by their previous relationships. Although Christine liked to forget about Roger as much as possible, he was difficult to ignore in the media as he announced his plan to excavate Exo III. Every time she saw his distinguished features blazoned across a journal or an appearance of his on a science show, she was struck by the nastiness of their separation and the callous way he had treated her. Her grandmother had shown her solidarity and support for Christine by actually getting through to a radio talk show that was promoting his lecture series by pretending to be a fan, then letting rip at him on air. She’d eventually been cut off, but for three minutes and twenty three seconds listeners all over the planet had learned of his low character and bad personal hygiene. That last part had been a lie – he was nothing if not conscientious in that regard – but it had been fun listening to Roger’s spluttering voice over the airwaves denying that he had raging halitosis and bad body odour.
It was very possible that Christine loved nobody as much as she loved her grandmother.
McCoy had been in touch via comm. link after her grandmother’s little radio adventure. It was just a text message, but he told her that he’d never enjoyed listening to talk radio as much. She’d sent him a message back, and then they were in touch just about every day. No vid calls, just little wry observations on their everyday activities. They agreed to meet for a drink on their first night back, which didn’t lead to their usual fun afterwards as Jim Kirk had tagged along.
The Leonard McCoy sitting opposite her in the bar this year was not the same as he had been the year before; nervous, ill at ease, distracted. He smiled more often now, although you would never describe him as a happy or relaxed person. He seemed calmer, and it was clear that he and his friend Kirk were close.
“So what’s the deal with you two anyway?” Kirk asked, pointing first at Christine, then at McCoy.
“The deal?” Christine asked.
“You’re not in a relationship, because otherwise Bones here would be sleeping somewhere other than our room. But you’re not just friends either, because whenever I mention your name he growls at me to shut up and then throws something at my head.”
“That’s a fairly standard reaction to you,” McCoy said darkly. “Ask Uhura.”
“He’s my flight sim partner,” Christine said honestly. “And we hang out sometimes to get away from all you teenagers and your unusually active hormones.”
“So you two old people swap jam recipes?” Kirk said, clearly not believing her.
“And talk about how the youth of today are so disrespectful to their elders,” McCoy said heavily.
“What we are, Jim Kirk, is friends,” Christine said, emphasising the “friends”. “You should try talking to a girl longer than it takes to get her into bed. You might be surprised what could happen.”
“I’m only going to be around for so long, Christine,” Kirk said, shaking his head sadly. “I just can’t afford to waste any time.”
That got him pelted with the nuts and olives that were in the bowl on their table, so he retreated to the bar to get another round of drinks.
“I’m sorry about him,” McCoy apologised.
“He’s funny,” Christine said dismissively. “Just ignore him. He’ll stop if you don’t react.”
“You said we were friends,” McCoy said after a moment.
“Well, we are, right?” Christine replied. “Otherwise this is a very confusing evening.”
“You sleep with all of your friends?” he asked, the words coming out a little quickly.
“I don’t really think it’s your business who I sleep with, as long as I’m not risking your health,” Christine told him coldly. “And you know that I’m not.”
“Shit,” he said, running a hand through his thick, dark hair. “Sorry. That came out wrong.”
“We can stop,” Christine said, although a pang of sorrow hit her hard at the thought. “If this whole arrangement isn’t what you want any more…”
“No,” he said forcibly. “No,” he repeated, toning down his voice a little. “That’s not what I meant, and I apologise for how I spoke.”
“Apology accepted,” Christine told him.
“I just wanted to know…I suppose I wanted…”
Christine took pity on him. “I’m single,” she said. “I’m not interested in a relationship, just like I’ve been since I met you. What with the whole Roger thing, and the Academy being so intense, I just don’t have the time or the inclination to get into the whole relationship thing again. I like what I have with you, McCoy. It’s not complicated. You know that if I don’t see you for a while it’s not because I’m playing games, it’s because I’m busy trying to cram thirty hours of work into a twenty four hour day. “
“I know that feeling,” McCoy said, giving her a wry smile.
“I think you’re very attractive,” Christine said bluntly. “And you’re really good in bed. I don’t want to go anywhere else. I just don’t want to make my life more complicated, because if I had to add “girlfriend” to the list of jobs I have to do every day, I think I’d finally crack.”
That was true, she told herself firmly. That was a completely true statement. There was nothing in that statement that wasn’t one hundred percent true. So why was it that she felt that she was lying to herself, if not him?
Their conversation was interrupted by Kirk finally making it back from the bar with a round of drinks, more nuts and a drinking game that eventually got them asked to leave the bar an hour and a half later. They walked back to the Academy together, parting at the fork in the path that separated their accommodation buildings.
“You need me to walk you to your room, Christine?” Kirk leered. “Since you and Bones are just friends and all.”
“I value my non-STI status too much for that, Kirk,” she told him, deadpan. “Go take a bath in some penicillin, won’t you? McCoy can hook you up.”
“She’s too clever to fall for your lines, Jim,” McCoy sighed. “Leave the nice lady alone.”
“One day you’re going to realise you’re with the wrong guy, Christine,” Kirk said, sounding completely serious, all big blue eyes and deadly intent. “When you do, you know who to call.”
“I’ll bear that in mind,” she told him. “Now go and sleep it off. Night, McCoy. See you tomorrow.”
“Eight am sharp on the wards,” he agreed. “Night, Chapel.”
Now she had passed her first year, Christine spent a lot more of her time on the wards. She began her observation of nurses assisting in surgeries, and soon started to take her own place. Now that she was based in the medical centres more often, she saw more of McCoy. They had a language class together this year, and by common consent partnered up to practice their Andorian. They were also in the same hand-to hand class, which surprised Christine. This was a more advanced class, which she had qualified to be in because of all of the extra hours she had spent the year before training for Section 31. She didn’t think that he had enough hours logged, although a quick trip through his personnel file courtesy of her Section 31-sponsered computer classes revealed that, as a younger man, he’d studied judo. His ranking must have been enough to put him in the class, even though he didn’t currently practice the art now.
Another surprise was the fact that the class was run by Jim Kirk.
“How the hell did you qualify to teach this?” she asked bluntly during their first lesson. “You’re not old enough to be an instructor.”
“Age ain’t nothin’ but a number,” he said solemnly. “The Bible says that.”
“I’m pretty sure it doesn’t,” she retorted.
“It’s in the back somewhere,” he said dismissively.
“Kirk,” she said in warning, advancing on him.
“I was a pretty active kid,” he said, backing away from her, arms raised. “My mom enrolled me in everything she could to use up my energy. The instructors said that learning martial arts would help me focus and be more controlled, so she signed me up for as many as she could find. I stuck with some. The Academy noticed, and I’m getting an instructor credit for helping lead the class. Don’t worry, there’s a qualified person here too.”
“How’s that control and focus working out for you?” she asked, unconvinced.
“Oh, I can be really focused when I want to,” he teased.
“Go away before I make those blue eyes black,” she told him, only half-seriously.
“Just for that I’m making you partner with Bones,” he told her.
She wondered why that was such a punishment, and then, after their warm up, she discovered why.
The man just would not attack her.
“Come on,” she said, exasperated. “I have to practice this throw!”
“I don’t want to hurt you,” he said clearly embarrassed. “I’ll ask somebody else to switch.”
“Who says that you’ll get the chance to hurt me!” she all but shouted. “Get over here and try to attack me!”
“I’m a lot stronger than you are,” he said doubtfully.
“You’re going to be in a lot more pain if you don’t hurry up,” she warned him.
He sighed, and advanced on her in the way that he’d been instructed to do five minutes ago. He was moving slowly and telegraphing his every move to make it easier for her, which did nothing but piss her off. The move they had been taught by their instructor and Kirk was a variant on one that she’d been learning with her Section 31 tutors, so she found it no trouble at all to block McCoy’s deliberately fumbling attack and use his own momentum to flip him upside down. She added the arm twist just because she was feeling annoyed.
“You were being deliberately slow,” she accused. “Do this properly, or don’t bother doing it at all.”
“Okay,” he said, pulling himself up from the mat and rubbing his arm. “You’re a lot better at this than I thought you’d be,” he said grudgingly.
“Well, you’re not,” she said, deliberately trying to provoke him. It worked; he attacked her much more quickly this time, but he was sloppy due to anger and again he found himself laying on the mat.
“Want to swap?” she said. “Shall I attack you now?”
“I think you just did,” he groaned.
There was a flash and a click, followed by what could only be described as an evil chuckle. They both looked up to see Kirk holding a PADD and viewing the photograph he’d just taken.
“I’m going to make a scrapbook,” he told them. “Of all the times Bones gets thrown on his ass.”
“I’m going to kill you,” McCoy said flatly. “I know how to do it and make it look like an accident.”
“Break it up boys,” Christine said firmly, McCoy’s words unsettling her a little. She’d tried very hard to forget the boy in the holosuite, and she’d never quite managed it.
“She’s right, Bones,” Kirk said. “You’re not doing her any favours by holding back. She might have to fend off someone bigger than her one day, and they’re not going to go easy on her.”
“Alright,” McCoy grouched. “Point taken. Let’s go again.”
They went again, and it was more difficult for her to throw him this time, but she managed it four times out of five despite their difference in body weight. He had a strength advantage on her, but he hadn’t been practicing his hand to hand for the last year, and he hadn’t had the benefit of extra training with Section 31 specialists. She could tell that he was annoyed that she had the upper hand, despite the height and weight difference.
“Next week, this will be different,” he said at the end of the first session, a sweaty mess on the mat. “Be ready.”
He said that at the end of every class for the next eight weeks, and each time he was wrong.
Their schedules were as busy as ever, but they still found time to meet in Christine’s very useful single room for hand to hand of a very different sort. Something about the sex felt different to Christine, though; despite her firmly held conviction that she did not want or have time for a relationship with anybody, she found herself anticipating their encounters far more than she had done previously. Sometimes they were slow and languid, other times they moved with speed and energy but there seemed to be a greater emotional connection each time they met. He’d cling to her afterwards, resting his dark head on her breasts, and she’d comb her fingers through his hair until the clock said that one or the other had to move. On a few occasions, she’d found herself turning to him and the strength of his arms and she…well, there was no other word for it, she was cuddled. And she liked it.
She never let him stay the night, though. To his credit, he never asked to, but she always made a point of stressing her other commitments. If she let him stay the night, she wasn’t sure what would happen next, and she needed to be in control of something in her life. She’d had her life spin out of control as Roger suddenly ended their relationship, and she’d been shanghaied into secret agent training, of all the damn things, disrupting her own tentative plans for the future. This…thing she had with McCoy, it was easy and simple as long as she let it remain easy and simple. Getting emotional would just mess everything up.
It seemed that she wasn’t the only person taking stock of her relationship with McCoy. She knew that sooner or later Section 31 would use their knowledge of her sex life against her in some way, and it came halfway through the year. She’d been informed that she’d be needed on Friday evening, and the car had arrived on time in the designated pickup place, never the same location twice. She’d submitted to the sedative without complaint, and came to in the holosuite once again. Admiral Marcus wasn’t present this time, and she was wearing the uniform that she’d left the campus grounds in. There was a phaser on the ground next to her, and she noted that it was locked to a fatal setting. She kept it in her hand as she took in her surroundings. It was a corridor, simple and rather bland. It could have been any office building in any city in the world, or off it for that matter. The pocket of her tunic was weighted down – further examination revealed a small holo-emitter.
When she activated it, she recognised the face it showed as one of the people who sedated her for her return trips to the Academy.
“Your mission is to infiltrate the locked office at the end of the hall, retrieve the data chip hidden there and exit the building through the main doors, located through the blue door at the end of the corridor. Use any means necessary to ensure the data chip remains in your possession.”
The holo-emitter jumped in her hand and she yelped in surprise as it suddenly glowed, became very warm and self-combusted. Shaking her hand to rid it of the ash, she scowled at the ceiling of the corridor.
“A little warning about your spy toys would be nice,” she told the unseen observers. “Or gloves. Gloves would be good.”
Rubbing her hurt palm on her side, she took stock of her surrounding. There were no other people around, and careful checking of the rooms in the hallway failed to produce either an access card or someone to open the door for her. The only alternative was brute force, so she used the phaser on the door lock. It ate through the circuitry and the door opened immediately. Christine was tensed for alarms to go off, but there was no noise other than that of her breathing.
She opened the door to the office room. It was more of the same – bland colours on the wall, a simple desk and chair in the middle of the room.
“Not even a pot plant,” she muttered as she tried the drawers of the desk. They were unlocked. The data chip was sitting in the second drawer, just ready to be taken. Her hand hesitated over it. This was all too easy. Nobody for her to talk her way past, no need to use her defensive training or her computer skills – how on earth could this be a test?
There was only one way to find out. She picked up the data chip and tucked it into her bra. Her pockets were too shallow for them to be of any real use, and if somebody got close enough to try and retrieve the chip from her bra, she had a good chance at fighting them off.
She moved towards the door, but stopped suddenly as a figure appeared there.
“Give me the chip,” McCoy said, walking towards her.
“No,” Christine said, shaking her head, but whether she was talking to the false McCoy or the vicious creators of this latest psychological test, she wasn’t sure.
She backed away from him and raised the phaser.
“Move out of my way, or I’ll shoot you,” she told him.
McCoy advanced. She shot. The phaser was set to kill, and her aim was true. She watched as she burned a hole through the chest of a man she considered a friend and a lover, and she continued to watch as he dropped to his knees, and then the floor. She checked for a pulse, and found none. Swallowing heavily, she stepped over his body and out through the door and along the corridor again. When she reached her starting point, the simulation faded.
The doors opened to reveal one of the agents responsible for taking her back to her dorm.
“There is a psychologist available, if you’d like to talk about this phase of your testing,” he told her.
“I’m good,” Christine said through gritted teeth. “Take me home.”
“It’s what they do,” the man said quietly. “It’s how they see if you’ll cope. They pick someone they know you’re attached to.”
“I get it,” Christine said. “I passed, right?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Full marks.”
“Good,” she told him. “Now get me home.”
She understood their point; Section 31’s interests came above all else and one day she might be asked to make a decision between her mission, and her personal feelings. She hoped that she’d made her point too. She was committed. If it meant shooting a collection of holograms that looked like the man she was…a man that…a friend, then she’d do it. It wasn’t as if it was real. It wasn’t as if she loved him.
As soon as she came around in her room, she headed out for McCoy’s building. The real McCoy, not the one she had just killed. The real McCoy. On another day, that would have been funnier. She hadn’t bothered to change out of her uniform, and she hadn’t even run a brush through her hair.
The door chime alerted him to her presence; one low, flat chime that buzzed for ten long seconds then stopped abruptly. It could only be her – he’d never met anybody who could make ringing a doorbell an act of aggression.
He palmed the door controls and it slid back to reveal her standing there in the standard cadet reds that they wore when not on active duty in the medical centre. Of course, he thought wryly, she wouldn’t bother dressing up for him, or swiping a slick of colour across her lips. It was enough that she was there, clearly.
“This isn’t a thing,” she said brusquely, stepping past him and into the centre of the room. “Don’t think I want to be your girlfriend, McCoy.”
He let the doors close with a hydraulic swoosh and took a half step forwards. She had already pulled the release tab on her uniform jacket and it peeled off, falling onto the floor in a puddle of fabric. Her bra was black and lacy, and thrust her breasts forward in a decidedly non-regulation way. A seductive slide of her hips, and the skirt followed, revealing striking green underwear that clashed with the black and the red in a way that meant he couldn’t take his eyes off her backside. She stepped out of her skirt, caught it on the toe of her boot, and flicked it towards his face.
“Nice,” he said, catching it just before it hit him in the face.
“You’re not naked,” she pointed out. “This is easier when you’re naked.”
He watched as she perched on the end of his unmade bed and tugged at her boots. Her calves were so slender, he noted, that she didn’t have to unzip them.
“For somebody who’s not my girlfriend,” he said mildly, still watching the show in front of him, “you get naked with me a lot.”
“I should have known you’d be the old fashioned type,” she said dismissively, flicking the catch on her bra. She paused to look at him. “Well?” she demanded. “Are you going to take your clothes off, McCoy, or do I have to do that for you?”
She let the bra drop to the floor. McCoy pulled his shirt up over his head quickly.
“That’s better,” she said, leaning back on her elbows. “Keep going.”
He’d just been in the shower; he’d only had time to pull on a pair of pyjama pants and t-shirt, so there wasn’t much to take off. Her eyes roamed appreciatively over him, and it wasn’t only his ego that swelled at her attention.
She grinned as she wiggled her body back up the bed, leaving him room to stretch over her. He opened his mouth to speak, but she silenced him with a searing kiss that sent lightning bolts straight down to his toes.
“This isn’t a time to talk,” she told him with authority, then pulled the a move she had used once in Jim’s hand to hand class and he ended up flat on his back with her straddling his hips.
“You have got to teach me how to do that,” he said, his fingers tugging at the edge of her underwear. She lifted her backside obligingly and the bright green panties went sailing across the room.
She planted her hands either side of his face and shuffled upward, bringing herself down centimetres above his lips.
“I said, no talking,” she said firmly. “Use your mouth for something more productive.
He was not a stupid man. He did as he was told.
“Well,” he said carefully, after they were done. “That was…unexpected. You usually call first.”
That was the wrong thing to say, he could tell. She recoiled from him, and gathered the sheet around her.
“I can go,” she said, looking around for her clothes. “If it’s a problem, I can…”
“Would you stop putting words in my damn mouth, woman?” he said irritable, hauling her closer. She battled for a moment, then gave up, laying limp in his arms. “I didn’t say I don’t want you here. I just meant that we normally use your place.”
“You said that Kirk wouldn’t be here,” she told his chest. “Survival training.”
Somehow, he didn’t think that was it. God knew that they weren’t always slow and gentle, but she’d been a wildcat in bed and he was pretty sure he had her fingernail marks all over his back. Something wasn’t right with her. She always had control, in whatever she did and tonight it was like that control had just left her, and what he was seeing was the raw Christine underneath.
And what was with that girlfriend crap? He knew damn well what she did and didn’t want, and he hadn’t said one word about how he’d been feeling. Once the numbness of his divorce had worn off, he’d found himself more and more drawn to Christine. There were actual feelings involved now, although he knew he was a damn fool for having them. She couldn’t have been more clear about what she wanted and how she felt, and he’d told himself that he respected that, and he was grateful for what she allowed him to have.
Now here she was, clutching him like he was a security blanket. He rubbed his hand along her arm soothingly.
“Something spooked you tonight,” he said quietly. “You want to tell me what it is?”
“It’s nothing,” she said eventually. “Just stress.”
“Alright,” he said, not believing her for a second. “Okay, then.”
He watched her eyelids droop and her breathing slow. She was falling asleep, and he wasn’t about to stop her. Suddenly her whole body jerked and her eyes popped open.
“Sorry,” she said, pulling away from him. “Today’s just been really busy.”
She began pulling on her underwear and McCoy sighed deeply. He’d lost his chance to get her to stay, something he’d been quietly trying to achieve for some time.
“No apologies necessary,” he told her. “Stress makes us do strange things.”
“Some of us more than others,” she said ruefully. “Do you have a kit handy? I can fix your back. Some of those marks look nasty.”
“You practicing unlicensed medicine, nurse?” he asked as he fished out a first aid kit from under the bed.
“I am being supervised by a qualified practitioner,” she said absently, rifling through the kit. “Or so he tells me. Turn around.”
He winced as she swabbed the scratches with an antiseptic wipe.
“That stings,” he said accusingly.
“I seem to remember being in a similar situation before,” she replied, clicking on the dermal regenerator. “And you called me a baby.”
“I’m pretty sure that these are more significant injuries,” he said, wincing as the regenerator did its work.
“You, McCoy, are an absolute infant of the first order, and I’m sorry for what I did to your back,” she said, turning away to repack the kit.
“You’re forgiven for what you did to my back,” he told her, moving to look over his shoulder in the wall-mounted mirror.
“Do my efforts pass inspection?” she asked.
“Well, your practical skills are top notch, but your bedside manner could use a little work,” he teased. “Do you maybe want to hang around for a bit, practice some?”
“I’ve got a class,” she said apologetically.
“Right,” he said, sighing. “Of course you do. I swear, the rate you’re going you’ll beat Jim Kirk to graduation.”