Jim is allergic to bee stings.
This isn't all that extraordinary or surprising. A lot of people are allergic to bee stings. And Jim is allergic to a lot of things.
It shouldn't really matter that much, as a rule most people tend to avoid getting stung by bees. Being allergic isn't really a game changer, it just means carrying an EpiPen.
It matters a little bit more to Jim, partly because he grew up on a farm, but mostly because the farm has bees.
The bees have been part of the Kirk farm for years and a stupid thing like an allergic reaction isn’t going to stop him.
Leonard moved to Riverside, Iowa for one reason: it wasn’t Atlanta, Georgia.
After his divorce he saw no reason to stick around. Leonard loved being a doctor but he never cared for the cutthroat competitive environment of hospitals, especially among surgeons. He was of the opinion that saving a life shouldn’t be a political move. Frankly he was glad to leave it behind. Doctor had been his dream. Top-surgeon had been his ex-wife’s.
So Leonard opened up a small ‘family’ practice in the first small town that would take him. Maybe this wasn’t an obvious choice for the doctor whose bedside manner was renowned as ‘awful’, but taking care of people made him happy, even when they were idiots. And luckily when people were sick or injured they didn’t care so much if he was ‘friendly’ as must as if he was ‘competent’, which he was.
After about a month in town he’s finally feeling confident enough to try a new route home. When he stumbles upon a roadside stand. He rolls his eyes because it’s all so quaint, sometimes he can’t believe he actually lives here. That doesn’t stop him from easing off the gas to see what they’re selling.
The hand painted sign reads “KIRK’S HONEY STAND”
Well that answers that Bones thinks, fully intending to drive on. He really has no use for honey, even if it is homemade. But then next thing he knows, he’s pulling his truck off the road on the patch of gravel on the shoulder and climbing out of the cab.
His boots hit the gravel and it’s too late to turn back now because the kid at the honey stand has already seen him. He’s smiling all brightly at him and well Leonard hates to let him down so he walks over.
“Hi there, welcome to Kirk’s Honey Stand where our honey is sweet as sin,” the kid delivers the line with a quirk of his lips and suggestive wink. He seems to pick up on Leonard’s confusion because he keeps talking. “Must be your first time here, I haven’t seen you around town. Well we sell honey, of course, some different flavors, and even beeswax candles and some soap….”
Leonard realizes he is staring. At all the honey. Not at the kid with the hair the same color as the honey and eyes that match his blue jeans. Which Leonard hasn’t noticed are a bit too tight because Leonard is not checking the kid out. Because Leonard is not perv-ing on some 18 year old kid selling honey. Even if he did wink at him. He visibly shakes himself and points at the first jar of honey in sight, “I’ll take that one.”
Leonard tries to pay for his honey but the kid working insist that “if it’s your first time you get your honey free” with another wink, so he shoves his cash in the tip jar and hightails it out. He absolutely does NOT look back over his shoulder one last time.
They honey is actually pretty good. Great, actually. Leonard hardly ever eats honey, but he finds himself finding more and more reasons to. Not that he’s looking for an excuse to buy more or anything.
A few days go by and he decides he should probably send his mother package since he hasn’t been home in a while and she isn’t up to visiting. Maybe she’d like some honey.
This time when Leonard pulls up to Kirk’s he isn’t the only one there. A group of pre-teen girls are sucking on honey straws making doe-eyes at the man behind the stand. Leonard gives them his best death glare, they at least have the decency to look away. Leonard smirking to himself when he realizes he’s just gone territorial over a guy he bought honey from once. No he reassures himself I just wanted to buy my honey without them in the way.
Jim doesn’t have favorite customers. And even if he did he’s not sure the guy in the old blue pick up truck with the messy black hair and voice like sin would even actually count since he’s only been there once. However that doesn’t stop his heart from fluttering a bit when he comes back. “Hi there, back again?” Stop thinking about licking honey off him and focus Kirk.
“Yah, I’m uh sending a package to my mom. Thought she might like some honey, care to recommend anything?”
“Well my mother taught me everything I know about making honey so everything is mother approved. The candles are big hit, probably not so much the flavored honeys, those are kinda novelty item. I get bored of making the plain honey sometimes.” Jim shuts his mouth before he can ramble on anymore.
“Alright I’ll take a package of whatever you think is best, thanks.” Leonard is shocked he managed to get two whole sentences out. When Jim’s hand brushes against his to return his change he inhales so fast he has to fake a coughing attack to hide the shiver that runs through his body.
Leonard is back the next day.
And the day after that.
And almost every day for a week.
Seeing the kid at the honey stand smile makes him feel better even after a shitty day at work. He feels like an idiot. A perv-y idiot.
Jim starts to look forward to the 5 minutes he spends chatting with the grumpy truck guy every day. He even starts to gauge his own happiness on whether or not he can draw a smile from him.
One day when Jim spots him hovering behind an old lady and waiting impatiently he finally has to ask, “So you must really like honey?” and apparently he catches the guy off guard because he stammers for a few minutes before answering.
“Yeah, I, uh, hear it is good for your...bones,” he finishes lamely and turning bright red.
Jim smiles at him, and it isn’t his work smile, “If you say so.” He’ll let him get away with that one because it’s cute when he blushes.
“Hey Bones,” the kid at the stand greets him the next week.
Leonard raises his eyebrows in confusion, “Bones?”
“Well I figured since I don’t know your actual name, I’d give you my own.” Jim’s smile looks almost nervous.
Leonard suddenly realizes he’s been coming here for almost half a month and they haven’t even exchanged names. He also realizes his heart warms at the idea the kid thought he was important enough for a nickname, even if it is a stupid one. “It’s Leonard, Leonard McCoy.”
“Hmmm I think I like Bones better,” He grins and extends his hand “I’m Jim. Kirk, obviously.” He nods at the sign.
“Hi Jim.” He likes the way the name rolls off his tongue. He’s in deep.
The next day when Leonard arrives to Jim leaning on the stand chatting up a pretty blonde he can’t even pretend the heat that runs through him isn’t pure jealousy.
In fact Leonard’s pretty sure he’s jealous of all Jim’s customers, even the ones he doesn’t flirt with. Actually, he’s pretty sure he flirts with all of them. Leonard begins to feel a little slighted and even more like a fool.
It doesn’t stop him from buying a crate full of honey though.
He’s pretty sure all of his friends are going to kill him this Christmas.
Leonard is about to leave for the night when his receptionist tells him he has one last patient. He sighs and tells her to send them on back. He’s probably already missed the stand for the night anyway. Of course it is none other than Jim Kirk who walks through his door.
“Bones?” Jim bursts out in shock. It’s a toss up which one of them looks more surprised.
“Jim, what are you doing here everything okay?” His doctor mode takes over as he starts looking Jim over for injuries.
“I’m fine” and because he can still feel Bones checking him over he says it again. “I’m fine. Listen I just got stung by a bee and I had to use my EpiPen and well I need to restock and I figured maybe since there was a new doctor in town I could get them here instead of making the trip to the next town.”
“Wait, EpiPen? You’re allergic to bees. And you sell honey.”
“Yah, it’s usually okay. In fact I haven’t gotten stung since discovered I was allergic at 16, that’s 3 years without incident. I’m careful.” With a self-deprecating eye-roll he adds, “my Mom makes sure of that.”
Bones mentally calculates Jim’s age. 19. Shit. That’s young. “Jim, you know allergic reactions can get worse each time you have them right.”
“I do. Bones I love the bees and the honey. It’s not just my job. I know it sounds stupid. But those stupid bees saved me and my mom when my dad died. They’re kinda all we have left of him.” Jim hates that he can’t control the way his voice still chokes on those words. He hates that he’s even talking about it at all. He tries to lighten the mood a bit, “and hey, I make good honey.”
Leonard sighs, he recognizes Jim’s last remark for what it is. Leonard has his own defense mechanisms for when something hits too close to home. “It’s not stupid at all Jim. It’s just dangerous. And yeah, I know you make good honey.” He gives Jim a rare smile.
Jim looks relieved and Leonard’s glad he chose to let Jim’s accidental slip up over his past go without comment.
“Yeah, you do know.” Jim answers fondly, with just a hint of teasing, “Don’t worry, I’ll bee careful.” “Honey isn’t the only sweet thing I make.” He adds as an afterthought and then he bursts out laughing. “Wow even I can’t believe I said that.”
Jim’s silent for a moment, before he looks at Bones, voice full of accusation, “I can’t believe you’re a fucking doctor. What are you even doing at my stand?”
“I thought we’d established that you make good honey.” Bones grins.
“Bones!” Jim calls to him before he’s even out of his car. He tries to keep the smile off his face. “Bones, I made a new flavor last night and I think I might actually like it, wanna try it?” Jim’s smile seems to light up his entire face. And damn Bones thinks, when did my inner commentary turn into a walking cliche. Bones nods in answer to Jim because he’s already a sucker for making Jim happy.
Jim’s smile gets impossibly bigger and he starts twisting the lid off of a unlabeled jar. In the process manages to get honey all over his fingers and for lack of a better option sticks one in his mouth to lick it clean.
Leonard has to choke back a whimper. This just isn’t fair. It’s obscene. The kids got the sticky honey all over his hand and his tongue is lazily lapping it up in one deft swoop. Leonard’s mind is making him feel dirtier than he has in years. Reminding himself that he’s 10 years older that Jim isn’t helping. That’s when Jim’s eyes snap up to meet his and he’s caught looking. Jim doesn’t look away and he doesn’t stop either. The only thing that even betrays the fact he’s noticed Bones’ attention is the faintest blush on his cheeks. Then Jim slips an entire finger into his mouth and slides it out with a slick ‘pop’ and trails it lightly across his wet bottom lip. He’s doing it on fucking purpose.
“I’m too old for this shit,” Bones huffs and he grabs the jar of honey from Jim. He has to choke back another moan when he realizes it’s peach flavored honey.
Jim at least has the decency to look guilty, right before he starts giggling like a child. Bones takes the entire jar of honey as punishment.
Weeks go by and Leonard visits the honey stand like clockwork. Jim waving at him the second his truck pull up always sends a wave of warmth through his body.
Sometimes Leonard only manages to stop and chat for a few minutes. Other days Jim brings him new products to sample.
As the weather gets colder Jim flags him down on his way to work and gives him a warm thermos of tea - with honey, of course. Leonard leaves the kid with his own scarf telling him he’s bound to catch a cold out here and calling him a damn idiot for not bringing his own. Jim laughs and tells him it isn’t even that cold, but ties the scarf around himself none-the-less. Leonard makes note that the blue knit really brings out Jim’s eyes. He tries to ignore the way his heart threatens to beat out of his chest at the idea of Jim wearing his scarf all day.
It’s been a slow day at the office for Leonard and his receptionist had chased him off early for the weekend. Leonard’s practically humming as he nudges his truck off the road to park in what he’s come to think of as his spot. Perhaps that’s why he doesn’t notice something is off.
The stand is empty. He gets out of his car looking around in a confusion when he spots a hastily tacked up ‘closed’ sign hanging with fresh paint.
He leans back against the side of his truck as if the wind has been knocked out of him. Is he ever going to see the kid again? he doesn’t know where Jim lives, what if Jim’s moving away? He’s trying to calm the thoughts running through his head when he hears foot steps behind him.
He turns around to see Jim coming towards him setting aside a box of things he’s packed up for the stand. “Hey Jim, what happened?” He asks, trying to hide the disappointment in his voice.
“Hey Bones, uh we’re out of honey.” He runs a hand through his hair eyes crinkling just a bit as he smiles back. “You can’t really harvest it during winter because the bees need it. Usually I have enough to keep the stand open but this year we’ve done record business.” He sounds playful as he levels a look at Bones.
Even though Jim doesn’t seem too put out, Leonard feels a little guilty that his selfishness has caused Jim to have to close up early. He feels stupid over his wave of panic and even more for the relief that washes over him now. “Oh,” is the elegant reply he manages. Jim isn’t leaving. “Can I help you with anything, need a ride? We could probably fit the stand in the back of my truck.”
Jim agrees and they spend a few quiet minutes packing things into Leonard’s truck. He’s holding the door open for Jim to jump in the cab when the kid spins around to stare at him. “Bones, this is ridiculous, you have 3 crates of my honey in your truck. Are you going to ask me on a date or what?”
Bones stares at him for a moment. For all their flirting he never figured Jim was serious. He can hardly believe it. Finally he sighs “I’ve got 4 more in my house Jim. I never even liked honey all that much. So yeah Kid, I think I’m finally gunna ask you on a date.”
“Took you long enough,” Jim smiles as he hops up into the cab, “if it wasn't obvious, my answer is yes.”