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Title: And Tango Makes Three
Author:[ profile] ennui_blue_lite
Fandom: Star Trek AOS
Word Count: 1060
Rating: PG-13 (Art rated G)
Summary: Jim owes Bones bail, cab fare, and eternal servitude. The universe owes Jim a penguin. Jim/Bones pre-slash/UTS.
A/N: Good Lord it took me a long time to post this. Anyway, as always, all credit and praise to my overlord and beta [ profile] skyblue_reverie, without whom none of this would be possible. Anyway, hope you enjoy, and don’t forget to check out the sketch at the bottom!

Bones had a pair of aces.

Ben Franklin, the cheater, looked altogether too smug as he drew another card from deck. Seven hands and Ben hadn’t lost a one; Bones was getting a little sick of his gloating. Across from them, Laurence Olivier counted his chips, as Lincoln held his cards close and tried to bluff.

It was his. He knew it, in that was that one simply knows things in dreams. He grinned, tipped his hand to the biobed, and was about to tell Niels Bohr to lose the shirt, when Lincoln’s hat rang.

“Wha!” Bones’ eyes shot open at the insistent chirp of his comm, and quickly closed again. No, no NO! Fuck! He wasn’t on call tonight, and Jim…

Jim’s bed was empty. This time, Bones’ eyes stayed open.

“Hello, what, hello!” he barked into his comm. “Yes, this is he. What…? …Oh for God’s… You’re joking.”

The woman on the comm didn’t sound like she was joking. Officers rarely do at three in the morning. “Okay, okay,” Bones rubbed a fist against his eye and groaned. “I’ll be there in twenty minutes, just tell him…tell him to sit tight. And that I’m going to kill him.”

On the other end of the line, the officer went on in monotone instructions while Bones clipped the comm to his ear and groped for his clothes. They felt strange this time of night, the heavy cloth of his uniform against skin that wanted to slide between the sheets again. He sighed, stopped. What was he doing? He had morning class, eight o’clock, and Jim – Jim had gotten himself into this. A night in a jail cell wouldn’t hurt him. Bones wagered that he could go back to sleep with a clean conscience.

Instead, he closed his eyes and pulled on his socks. “Ma’am,” he said wearily into his comm. “Can you tell me why he was arrested?”

She did.

Bones paused halfway through tying his shoe. “…He tried to break into a what!?


“Jim, you owe me until the end of time.”

“Mm hmm!” Jim chirped, his body half-draped over Bones’ shoulders as they walked out of the police station. Outside, the cold air struck Bones all over his skin, and the emptiness of the streets around them made the world feel surreal. Unreal. The blue cab at the corner was a shock of color against the drab haze of the dark, and the only sign of other life for miles. For a moment, Bones felt that cab might take them to other worlds tonight – and then he shook the feeling away. Foolishness.

“You’re so nice,” Jim slurred, wrecking the quiet. He leaned a little heavier against Bones. “You came and got me, and paid sho I could go home, even after I got kick out of that…”Jim swallowed “bookstore, and I don’t mind if I owe you forever, caush I don’t want you to ever go anywhere without me, and…” Jim trailed off, his expression turning confused. “I forgot what I was sayin’.”

“It’s okay, Jim. I’m sure it will come back to you tomorrow morning while we’re fighting sleep during our eight o’clock diplomacy class.” Bones steered a lurching Jim toward the curb. “Bookstore?”

Jim nodded. “I was causing a…a disturbance in the childrensh section.”

Bones stopped, looked at Jim.“ You caused a – you know what? Forget it.”

“ ‘Kay.”

“No vomiting in the cab.”

“No,” Jim agreed.

“I’m serious, Jim. You already owe me bail and cab fare. Don’t add a new shirt to the list.”

“No,” Jim repeated, then sighed sadly. “I didn’t get my penguin.”

“Your – what?” Bones’ arms fell slack against his side, and Jim slumped halfway to the pavement before Bones caught him. “You broke into an animal shelter for a penguin? A penguin, Jim?”

“I was gonna take good care of him,” Jim argued.

“Jim, they don’t keep penguins in animal shelters. No one has a pet penguin!”

“N-no, no, they do!” Jim insisted. “I saw thish vid from, like, 200 years ago. This family in Japan had a penguin. He wore a backpack. It was awesome.”

Bones loaded Jim into the cab and let him flop against the door on the opposite side. “A backpack, huh?”

“He kept fish in it.” Jim smushed his cheek against the cool glass of the window. “He was gonna be our penguin.”

“Jim.” Bones knew, knew, that he was going to hate himself for continuing this idiotic conversation, but Jim’s tone sounded so damn…mournful. Alcohol or not, Bones couldn’t ignore that. “Jim, what would we have done with a penguin?”

“Just…” Jim gestured wildly with his right hand, nearly striking Bones in the face, “taken care of him. Fed him. Taken him on walks…I was gonna call him Tango, like the book.” He closed his eyes, and Bones wondered if Jim was picturing the three of them on a walk, little Tango with his backpack, while he and Jim each held a flipper. Or maybe Jim was just starting to get sick. “Jim, you okay?”

Jim didn’t say anything for a minute. Then, “I was kinda scared.”


“I – I didn’t know if you were gonna come. No one ever… I won’t get arrested again.”

“Good,” Bones said. “I’ll remind you that, next time I’m posting your bail.”

“’kay,” Jim mumbled. He looked for a moment like he was going to say something else, but only managed an, “uhg,” before slumping over into Bones’ lap.


“Don’t feel good.”

“No throwing up, remember?” Bones swallowed, eyes closed. Jim’s breath ghosted hot and fast against his crotch, and, drunk or not, there was something he was bound to notice. “Come here,” Bones said, and pulled Jim into a loose embrace, letting Jim’s head loll about his chest.

“ ‘m sorry, Bones,” and the tightness in his voice clenched Bones’ heart. It was the alcohol, he told himself; Jim was tired and nauseous and wasted beyond reason. His tears had nothing to do the two hours stuck in a jail cell, waiting for the only person in his life who might show. Who might not.

“It’s okay,” Bones said, holding Jim’s head steady against his chest. “It’s okay, just try to sleep.” He let his fingers comb through Jim’s hair, straightening sweaty strands. “I will always come for you, Jim.”

Jim didn’t give a reply. Bones hadn’t expected one.

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