Not Tonight
Michelle Perry

The first time, he let it go easily enough. Bones was pissed, and he wasn't in the mood for company. He plopped onto the couch, kicked his shoes off and opened his Jack Daniels and took a deep, long pull. He didn't even look up, and when Jim tried to ask what was wrong, he got a growl in response. Jim shrugged and left the dorm room, opting to spend the night in the library.

The second time, getting booted out didn't come as easy. Bones came home drenched in sweat, clearly coming home from a hard day at the Academy Clinic. He offered coffee, but Bones shook his head. "Thanks, but no. I just want to be alone, ok?"


"Please, Jim, c'mon. Not tonight, ok? Can't you..."

Jim sighed. "Fine."

Bones didn't even seem to notice the terse tone Jim had given him. He pulled out the brandy as Jim left the room.

"Well, that's just great, isn't it? STOP using our child as a weapon, you cold blooded bitch, it ain't gonna- Jocelyn! JOCELYN!"

Jim looked down at his Advanced Navigation assignment, pretending he hadn't heard the yelling from the other room. He looked up briefly when Bones stormed into the room. "You okay?"

"She hung up on me," he said tersely.

"Didn't let you talk to-"


Jim raised his hands. "Sorry, I-"

"Look, kid, don't worry about it. In fact I'm sorry, I shouldn't... it's not your fault. I just... kinda need to be alone right now."

Jim frowned. "Maybe you shouldn't. Maybe-"

"Jim, I'm really not in the mood for company right now, okay?" He was getting testy.

So was Jim. "Well, I'm not letting you kick me out tonight, Bones!"

"Dammit, Jim, I-"

"I'm expecting a call from my mother, and I can't exactly take it in the library, so..."

He let out an exasperated sigh and stormed out, tucking his flask into his coat pocket before he left. Jim glared at the door for a long time before taking a swig of one of Bones' various liquors himself. The call with his mother was pleasant, but his mind was focused on his friend, and where he'd found to hole up and drink that night.

Jim could tell it was shaping up to be a library night. For the last week, Bones had been his usual self - hanging with Jim, talking about classes, complaining about the evil Physical Training instructor, who always gave him the hardest time of all, because "you Science trackers think you're getting it light, and I'm NOT that kind of woman!". It had been a dream - the old Bones who griped and laughed and made sarcastic remarks, instead of growling and glaring and not saying a word, storming around like a dark cloud.

Tonight, though, his attitude had changed again for the worse. Bones walked slowly into the dorm, dropped his bag just inside the doorway, kicked his shoes off, and went directly for the unofficial liquor cabinet - the shelf in the kitchen where the extra dishes were supposed to go, but which had been slowly filled with brandy, tequila, rum, gin and various whiskeys. He pulled down the Whaler's Rum, but didn't bring down a glass. Didn't look Jim's way at all.

Hm. Not good.

Bones sank down heavily onto the couch and stared at nothing. Jim watched him from just inside the room - saw his eyes fill with tears that somehow refused to fall. He came into the room and sat in the chair beside the sofa. "Want to talk about it?" he asked softly.

Bones looked over at him as if he'd just realized he wasn't alone. "Daddy's terminal," he said, voice deadpan and mechanical, which felt worse to Jim than if he'd sounded like he were on the verge of tears. "Doctors give him six months at the outside."

The air left Jim's chest in a shaky sigh, and he felt completely deflated. "Oh, Bones, I... I don't know what to say."

Bones was already staring straight ahead again. He shook his head. "Nothing to say, is there?"

"I'm so sorry, Bones. Do you... I mean, if you need-"

"I just need to be alone." He fixed Jim with the tiniest of smiles. "Sorry, you never seem to get use of the room a full seven days in a row, do you?" Before Jim could answer, Bones looked down, sighed, and opened the bottle.

Jim watched him for a few seconds, then stood up and headed to the kitchen. He pulled out the Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey, then walked slowly back into the main room. He sat down next to Bones on the couch, close enough so that their bodies touched from shoulder to knee. Bones looked at him, completely shocked. "Jim, I said I-"

"Nope. Not tonight." He took the rum away and pressed whiskey into his hand. "You'll be able to get more of this in you before you start puking," he said.

Bones stared at him for several seconds. Then, the hurt, shock and outrage melted into amusement, and he laughed - a deep laugh that shook them both. He opened the sweet whiskey and took a swig before passing it to Jim. "You're an ass," he said with a smile.

"Yeah, so are you," Jim replied, sipping before passing the bottle back. "Must be why we get along so well."


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