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Title: Those We Leave Behind
Fandom: Star Trek XI (AOS, nu!Trek, Reboot)

Pairing/Character: McCoy, Joanna McCoy, implied Kirk/McCoy
Disclaimer: Really not mine, not even a little bit.
Word Count: 725
Summary: [livejournal.com profile] jim_and_bones (lj f-locked, join for pretty pictures) Flash Fic Challenge; prompt was Leonard says goodbye to Joanna before he steps onto the Enterprise for the first 5-year mission.

Daddy!”

Leonard dropped his carryall and scooped the seven-year-old – oh, God, when had she gotten so big? - love of his life into his arms.

She smelled of baby shampoo and strawberries, clean laundry and little girl. Slender limbs wrapped like vines around his neck and waist. He buried his face in her hair and wished he never had to let go.

What are you doing here, baby girl?” On Jupiter Station, of all places. Just about the last place anyone should expect to find two McCoy's of the Georgia McCoys.

The Admiral brought me,” she muttered into his shoulder. “He came to our house and talked to Mama for a long time and we flew in a shuttle, Daddy.”

Oh, yeah, he needed that image in his head. He owned Admiral Pike – who else? - a round of immunizations. Including the one for Rigellian Herpes. And a really good bottle of Scotch for bearding his ex in her den. Fine, they were probably even.

Green eyes flecked with amber – the opposite of his own hazel ones – lifted to meet his. “I had to say goodbye, Daddy.”

Oh, fuck.

I'm sorry, baby girl.”

Do ya hav'ta go?”

Yeah, baby girl, I do.”

Because somewhere between Starfleet, what the fuck do I have to lose and the stripes on his sleeve, that first shuttle flight and the one he got off of an hour ago; the first day on campus and a the death of a planet and a people; between that drink with a stranger as out of place as he and breakfast every morning with his best friend and lover...he'd found a place to fit. One that was right and his in a way his old one had never been no matter how much that life had been the one he'd planned and expected.

I can't let Jim go off by himself, can I? Not without a doctor on board?” Because he'd do something stupid and heroic and unbelievably brave and need to be put back together with regenerators and scalpels and stitches and sheer don't you dare fucking die on me force of will.

Jo bit her lip, eyes moving to the Captain only a few feet away with Pike, bright and gilded in Command gold, solemn in a way few people had ever seen him. He knew what it was liketo be the one left behind.

No, I guess not. Can't I come with you, Daddy? I'll be awfully good, I promise.”

Her eyes welled, and his damn near did, too, at the earnest plea. “I know you would, baby girl, but your Mama'll get lonely without you.” Not to mention the thought of his little girl in a floating tin can – even one as swift and sleek as Enterprise – was horrifying.

Not that planets were safe, either. Another reason for leaving, for being out there, ready, on the front lines.

The universe was full of Neros.

When will you be back?”

Six months, a year, the end of his tour – never, maybe. How do you tell that to a little girl? “As soon as I can, Jo. And I'll comm you every chance I get. Twice a week, just like e said, right?”

She sniffed. “'Kay, Daddy.” And hugged his hard, pressing her face into his neck.

She'd be bigger, older, wiser, the next time he saw her. Would she have outgrown being picked up? Hugged by her daddy? She'd be a teenager by the end of his first tour, no longer a little girl who thought her daddy knew all the answers, chased away the monsters under her bed. Joanna would know her father was flawed and human; would understand that he'd chosen medicine and Starfleet and space over Earth and being close enough for weekend visits.

Would she still know, believe, he loved her? Or would anger over that choice make her feel otherwise.?

He hugged his baby close, knowing he'd only ever be a long-distance father to her now – since the divorce, really.

I love you, baby girl.”

Love you too, Daddy.”

He kissed his daughter, set her in Christopher Pike's lap, and walked away from his old life, Earth, and his baby girl.

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