“Carol… what about this?”
Carol Marcus looks at the flask in Leonard McCoy’s hand. “It’s nice. But… Leonard, you need something that-”
“Why? Just one good reason, that’s all I want you give me.”
Leonard sighs. “I just can’t. It’s not a good reason, OK? It’s my reason.”
“You brought him back from the dead. I think at this point, he knows.”
“He’d have said somethin’,” Leonard mutters, putting the flask back and shoving his hands in his pockets. He’s quiet as they continue walking through the shop, frowning as he looks at things that he can’t imagine Jim wanting, let alone needing.
As they step out into the chill of a late December afternoon, Leonard steps closer to shield her from the wind. “Didn’t you say there was a book store nearby?”
Carol nods. “Yeah, about a block and a half that way,” she points. “Why?”
Leonard licks his lips. “He likes books. Real books.”
A crease over Carol’s brow deepens as her eyes go wide, and she beams at him. “That should be perfect, then! We’ll find one he’ll like, one that says you consider him to be special.” She loops her arm through Leonard’s, and they set off.
When Leonard arrives at Jim’s apartment, he takes a deep breath, then punches in the door code and steps in. “Jim?”
“Bedroom!” comes the response. Leonard smiles as he toes off his boots, then makes his way down the hall to the living room. Jim’s small Christmas tree is sitting on one of the corner tables, lit up and decorated with small, tasteful ornaments. Leonard slips a wrapped package under it, smirking at the other one he sees.
“Take your time,” he calls, heading into the kitchen. The place smells amazing, now that he’s paying attention, and he blinks as he steps through the dining area. There’s a small but full Christmas dinner laid out and steaming. He frowns, checking the place settings. Only two are made up. Quirking an eyebrow, he walks through to the kitchen.
When he sees the sink full of dirty pots, pans, and other dishes, he gapes.
“I must have walked into the wrong apartment,” he calls. “Because there is a very real stack of dirty dishes in the sink, and a very enticing meal set out on the dining table.”
“Ha ha,” Jim says as he joins Leonard in the kitchen. Leonard does a double take. Jim’s dressed rather nice in a button-down shirt with long sleeves and dark slacks. Leonard suddenly feels under dressed in his jeans and open flannel over a plain tee-shirt.
“Shit, Jim, what’re you all cleaned up for?” Leonard scratches at the back of his neck. “I’m gonna get a complex, lookin’ at you all night.”
Jim’s cheek go pink at that, and he smiles. “Trust me, Bones. You’re perfect just like that.”
Leonard blinks, then nods and says, “Alright. Still don’t know what you’re done up about.”
“Can’t a guy dress nice once in a while?” Jim shrugs. “It’s Christmas. I wanted to.”
Leonard snorts. “Fair enough.” He holds up the bottle of bourbon he brought with him. “Can I tempt you?”
Jim’s cheeks flush deeper, and he says, “Don’t you always?”
Leonard chuckles and sets the bottle down as he reaches for a couple glasses. He pours generous amounts into both of them, handing one over to Jim and clinking his glass against it. “Merry Christmas, Jim.”
Jim holds his glass aloft, grinning, then takes a sip and says, “Merry Christmas, Bones.”
Leonard leans back against the counter and watches Jim for a moment, trying to figure out what’s going on. “Food smells good. You do all of it?”
Jim laughs and shakes his head. “I might have let slip that I was gonna try to cook, and several people shouted at me for about twenty minutes before I asked if they’d like to help.”
Jim’s eyes sparkled. “Uhura, Gaila, and Chekov, surprisingly.” Jim laughs. “Kid’s mouthy as fuck when he’s passionate about something and not strictly on duty.” He takes another sip of his bourbon, then tosses his head back towards the dining room. “Join me?”
Leonard smiles and nods. “Sounds good.” They sit down at the table and begin serving themselves. Leonard watches as Jim piles food on his plate. “You ever had cranberry sauce?”
Jim shakes his head as he places a dollop on his plate. “Nope.”
“Hope you like it, then.”
“Yeah, your mom said the trick was all in how much sugar you add after the berries pop.”
Leonard pauses with the fork halfway to his mouth. “My… excuse me?”
Jim freezes, looking at him across the table. “Fuck.”
Leonard puts his fork down, looking at everything. Turkey, ham, biscuits and cranberry sauce and dressing and gravy - all of it’s what he remembers from holidays spent at home. Even the green bean casserole.
“You commed my mother to get… recipes? Ideas? What?”
Jim takes a deep breath, looking down at the table. “I commed her and asked if there was something you’d want for dinner, something you always enjoyed.”
Leonard waits, then prompts, “And…?”
“And that… sorta turned into her telling me everything she used to make, and…” Jim looks up then. “And I just wanted to give you something… different. Something special.”
Leonard rubs a hand over his face. “Jim-”
“Just… hear me out, please.”
“I’m…” Jim stops. “The truth is, Bones, I’ve been… not good. Since everything. I’ve been trying. I go to therapy like I’m supposed to and I go to meetings with the admiralty and I come home and there’s just… nothing.” There’s a lump in Leonard’s throat when he tries to swallow, and Jim rushes to continue before he can say anything. “But some days…” Jim smiles. “Some days there’s you. Like a beacon of light reminding me that not everything is dull and drab and pointless.” He chokes on a laugh. “Some days, I’m pretty sure the only reason I’m happy is you.”
Leonard sucks his lips between his teeth as he listens, blinking at the stinging in his eyes.
“God, Bones, I… I’m pretty sure I’m in love with you, and… my therapist said I should address that, said I need to confront my feelings and either tell you or move on, but the thing is.” Jim licks his lips. “The thing is, how do you move on from the person you’re pretty sure is the love of your life? I’m talking… I mean epic, true love, here, the kind that makes someone go into space despite a crippling fear of it, or that pushes someone to bring their best friend back from the dead.”
Leonard squeezes his eyes shut and buries his face in his hands.
“I kinda got it, when I started talking about it with my therapist, that you’ve… you’ve loved me for a long time, and that I…” Jim’s voice shakes, and Leonard looks back up at him, vision blurry. “I never saw it, or I saw it and just brushed it off, said it was something best friends did, because I didn’t know better.” Jim takes a steadying breath, gets up and walks over to Leonard’s side. He kneels down, and Leonard turns to face him. “But I see it now, I understand it now and I’m…” Jim bites his lower lip. “I’m asking you, if you think you could ever-”
“Yes.” Leonard reaches out and pulls him up into a kiss. Jim’s arms go around him, and they lose their balance, falling to the floor in a tangle of limbs, still kissing each other. “God, I don’t even know what you’re askin’, but I’m yours, Jim. I been yours for years.”
“I can’t promise you forever,” Jim says, sounding wrecked. “But I want to, OK? I want to get to that point.” He presses his face close and says, “You’re my endgame, Bones. Pretty sure you always have been.”
Leonard laughs against his lips and kisses him again. “OK.” He smiles and nuzzles his face into Jim’s. “OK,” he says again. When he opens his eyes, he lets his smile drop just a bit. “Just do me one favour?”
Jim raises his brow in response.
“Promise me we’ll talk. When things are… are good or bad or anywhere in between. Don’t let whatever’s happening keep you from tellin’ me when you need or want somethin’.”
Jim licks his lips, then nods. “I can try.”
Leonard closes his eyes and kisses Jim again, fingers carding through his short hair as he rolls Jim over on top of himself. “Good.” He opens his eyes slowly, looking up through heavy lids. “So what do we do now?”
“Well.” Jim shifts so he can sit up. The movement presses his erection against Leonard’s thigh, which earns a growl and an involuntary thrust of Leonard’s hips. Jim grins, then continues. “I think we have two choices.”
“Yep. One, we get up, sit down, and finish our dinner.”
Jim winks. “Two, we get up, walk into my bedroom, and have sex until we can’t move.”
“Any particular way you’re leanin’ at the moment, darlin’?”
Jim cants his hips so that he presses his erection into Leonard’s thigh again. “Maybe,” he says.
Leonard smirks. “What a coincidence.” He grabs Jim’s waist and pulls him forward, pushing up with his own hips and pulling a gasp from Jim. “I was just havin’ the same idea.”
“So let’s go, old man,” Jim says as he hops up.
“You’re gonna regret that one, kid,” Leonard says, scrambling to get on his feet as Jim runs down the hall, laughter hanging in the air as he does so.
Leonard hums and turns his head, rubbing his cheek against the top of Jim’s head. “Yeah?”
“I think our dinner’s cold.”
Leonard laughs. “There are these remarkable contraptions called ovens.” Jim pokes his ribs, and he laughs again. “Hmm, I promise, I don’t mind waiting a little longer.” He opens his eyes and tips Jim’s head back so that he can kiss him. “You’re worth it.”
When he pulls back, Jim’s flushed again, eyes half open and a slight upturn to the corners of his mouth. “Were you angry? When you found out I commed your mother?”
Leonard shifts down in the bed a little, bringing himself eye level with Jim. “Surprised. But, and I don’t know if you’ve noticed this in the years we’ve known one another, but I tend to mask everything under a layer of grumpy and angry, mixed with a little frustration.”
Jim smirks. “I might’ve seen that. Once or twice.”
Leonard grins, then lets his smile fade into a softer expression as he scoots closer and presses himself against Jim. “Took me by surprise, the fact that you would do that. The idea that anyone would want to, really. After Jocelyn…” He sighs. “I just didn’t think I’d ever find anything like that again. And I didn’t want to, for a long time.”
Jim licks his lips. “So what happened?”
Leonard gives him a half shrug. “I sat down beside you on that shuttle. I fought it for a long while. Told myself I was just projectin’ the desire to be wanted and loved onto the first person who walked into my life and didn’t walk back out in a week.” He runs his hand down Jim’s side, palm pressing into his skin possessively. “But the fact is, I knew what it really was the moment you were told you were grounded, and I had to get on that damn ship.”
“Yeah.” Leonard nods. “I walked away from you and I… I just couldn’t, I couldn’t leave you. I stood there thinkin’, If he’s not with me, what’s the point? So I smuggled you on.”
“And the rest is history,” Jim says, grinning.
Leonard kisses him again. “I love you,” he whispers, eyes closed and lips brushing against Jim’s. “I love you, Jim.” He moves back, opens his eyes. Looks into Jim’s eyes and uses his thumbs to brush away the few tears that roll over his cheeks and nose.
“I love you too, Bones.” Jim relaxes against him, head dropping to rest against his chest. “Thank you.”
The short hair between Leonard’s fingers feels softer than he’d expected it to as he runs his fingers through it again and again. “You’re welcome.”
As they lay there together for a few minutes, breathing each other in and catching their breath, Leonard thinks that he doesn’t care about anything else - he’s got the best gift ever given to the universe right there in his arms.