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title: shitty birthdays
fandom: star trek 09
pairing: none, just some quick k+b gen.
rating: pg-13 for language.
word count: 768.
notes: prompt here. "I turn nineteen tomorrow, and I thought to myself: we've seen most of these characters in their twenties-thirties (with one notable exception)--what were they like younger than that? I don't want kid!fic, I want the in-between."

Jim Kirk leans against the wall and stares out into the bar and thinks moody thoughts about his life and his job and his world. He thinks about how it’s his birthday today but no one cares. The people who know about his birthday are the drunk regulars at the end of the bar who can’t remember their own names, nevertheless the birthday of the bartender. He pours himself a beer and takes a gulp. He’s nineteen today and still not legal, but no one cares. His boss pays him under the table because he’s charismatic and convinces people to buy this and that, and the people here like him because he’s young and cute and a little cynical. He’s been drinking and working here since he picked up that piss-poor fake ID three years ago today.

“Happy birthday,” he grumbles to himself as he looks up at the gentleman entering and sitting down at the bar. A particularly scowlly-looking kind of guy, with a round face and wrinkle lines and dark hair and two day’s stubble. The guy looks like he could use a drink, too.

“What can I get for you?” He asks, approaching the guy and studying him more intently. Heavy brow, green eyes. Attractive, even if it’s only in an aesthetic sense. Probably be even more attractive if he didn’t look so angry, really.

“Jack, straight up,” the guy snarls, but his voice sounds more tired than angry, like he just wants to drink until he passes out. Jim knows how that is.

He pours the guy his whiskey and watches him for a second after.

“What’re you looking at?”

“Trying to figure out what’s bothering you,” Jim smiles an easy smile, trying to comfort this stranger, and drinks his own beer. “You look like a nice guy who hates everyone, and normally there’s a reason for that kind of thing.”

Apparently the guy isn’t interested in comfort, because he just rolls his eyes and drinks.

“I’m Jim,” He holds a hand out, and his smile turns bitter. The guy has something about him, some kindred angry soul, even if he’s older and a total stranger. “And I know how much shit the world can give you. It’s my birthday, and no one fucking cares. My mom is out in space somewhere, my dad would rather beat me, and everyone I meet at my job either wants to fuck me in the ass or can’t remember their own name, let alone mine.”

“Leonard McCoy,” the man doesn’t shake his hand, but he’s not offended. “And let me tell you, it just gets worse. And keep it coming.

He’s got a southern accent. Jim likes it. He pours Leonard more whiskey. He learns Leonard is a doctor and was fucked quite thoroughly by his ex-wife and her expert legal handling of their divorce, which is why is he is in Iowa with nothing besides a couple pairs of clothes, his doctor’s tools, and a few hundred dollars.

“Happy birthday, kid,” he says, after three drinks. “Mine too, you know. And here I am, getting drunk and spilling to a bartender that looks underage and probably doesn’t give a fuck, just listening to get me to buy more drinks.”

“I do give a fuck,” Jim says indignantly, though he slips down the bar for a second to pour one of the regulars a beer and wink at a lovely woman ordering a martini before coming back. “After all, we were born on the same day. That means we’ve got to look out for one another.”

“Just what I need, some jailbait bartender looking out for me,” McCoy mutters. Jim laughs.

“I’m nineteen,” he says, and Leonard looks sharply up at him. “Yeah. Nineteen. And I work at a bar.”

“Punk,” he says, but despite the derisiveness of the word and his permanent glare, Jim senses a certain fondness in his tone.

“If you need a place to stay, you can stay with me.” He leans down, putting glasses in the dishwasher and organizing the bar behind him, making sure it’s nice. It’s pretty late, and the owner normally comes around closing time to make sure everything isn’t a mess. “For a couple of days, at least. I have a shitty little apartment, but I do have a couch.”

Leonard stares at him for a long time, dark eyes glazed with alcohol and old anger that he hasn’t let go of, not yet. Jim can understand. He fosters his own anger.

“Thanks, kid,” the doctor says. “Why the fuck not? S’not like things can get any worse.”

Jim picks up his beer, smiles. “Toast? To shitty birthdays?”

“To shitty birthdays.”

They drink.