It was a gorgeous spring day, and Jim Kirk was miserable. This was shaping up to be the longest week in the history of long weeks, and it was only Tuesday. He needed out of the office, and he needed it now; needed to be away from the never ending phone calls, impatient clients, and the questions. So many questions.
He loved his job, he really did, but was five minutes of peace and quiet really so much to ask for?
Decision made, Jim dashed out of his office, pausing to let his secretary know that he was stepping out and please, for the love of god, hold my calls. As soon as he reached the elevators, Jim pressed the ‘down’ call button, willing the elevator to move faster and resisting the urge to keep hitting the call button. It was a race to see which would happen first: the elevator car reaching Jim’s floor, or Jim’s patience snapping.
The elevator car won by a very slim margin.
Jim stepped into the lift and hit the ‘lobby’ and ‘door close’ buttons in rapid succession with the side of his closed fist. Gaze fixed on the floor countdown, he alternated between pacing and bouncing on the balls of his feet, waiting for the elevator to announce Jim’s arrival at the ground floor with a soft ding.
He walked quickly through the lobby, nodding his head in greeting at Hendorff as he passed by; the afternoon security guard was sedately watching the comings and goings, turned in such a way that he could keep one eye on the bank of monitors at his station and one eye on the main entrance of the building. Jim hit the heavy door hard with both hands, using his body weight and forward momentum to throw the door wide open.
Giving a cursory glance left and right, assuring himself he hadn't thrown the door open in someone’s face, Jim’s pace quickened to practically a jog as he headed straight for the park that was across the street from his office building. He wove his way through traffic, thankful it was nowhere near as heavy as it usually was here in the heart of the city, sprinting the last few steps across the curb and sidewalk.
As soon as Jim’s feet hit the grass he stopped abruptly. Throwing his arms wide, he closed his eyes and tilted his face to the sky, soaking in the sun and feeling the tension melting away. He stayed that way for several minutes, breathing deeply and absorbing the sounds and smells of spring and peace, enjoying the cool breeze that was gently caressing his face, neck, and bare forearms.
Feeling more like himself, Jim let his arms fall back to his sides and lowered his head, opening his eyes to lazily gaze around the park. There were half a dozen kids on the far side, some of them playing basketball, and some of them utilizing the dedicated skateboard area. Two women were walking a chihuahua and a golden retriever, chatting happily amongst themselves as they passed by Jim.
A few college students were camped out at one of the benches. Jim wasn’t close enough to see what they were working on, or hear what was being discussed, but if he had to guess they were a study group taking advantage of the nice weather. Its what he would have done if he was still in school.
Jim finished his visual sweep of the park at the large oak tree off to his right, underneath which a dark haired man, and equally dark haired little girl appeared to be having a picnic. A picnic with a teddy bear that was almost as large as the little girl. He watched in interest as the man and child talked, ate, and laughed, all the while sharing their food with the bear. To say he was utterly charmed by the adorable display would have been an understatement.
His feet were carrying him forward, towards the tree, with no conscious input from his brain. As Jim neared the picnicking pair, he realized that the neatly trimmed dark hair, and the broad shoulders on the man in front of him looked a bit familiar. Jim paused, taking in the way the man’s jeans clung to his thighs as he shifted position to stretch his long legs out in front of him, crossing them at the ankle, and the way the white polo set off the man’s tan, making his hair look even darker.
Jim didn’t know who the little girl was, but he was pretty sure he’d met the man before, and hoped that seeing him here at the park was a sign that Jim’s day was vastly improving. Running his fingers through his hair, Jim squared his shoulders, brushed invisible lint off his suit trousers, and marched forward.
Leonard McCoy glanced up when the sound of his name broke through Joanna’s sweet laughter. He squinted at the person approaching them; the sun making it difficult at first to discern any more than the fact that it was a tall, broad shouldered man in business attire.
“It is Leonard, right?” The voice sounded vaguely familiar, but Leonard was hard pressed to say where he’d heard it before.
As the man got closer, the colorless clothing sharpened into grey suit trousers, and a pale blue shirt with the sleeves rolled to his elbows; a dark blue tie with lighter blue accents was loosened at the man's throat. His blond hair was tousled, and the wide smile on his face created rather distracting crinkles at the corners of his brilliant blue eyes.
Oh yes, Leonard remembered those eyes.
“Yup, Leonard McCoy. And you’re Jim Kirk.”
It shouldn’t have been possible for Jim’s grin to grow any wider, but it did. By this point Jim had reached the edge of the Queen Elsa and Princess Anna blanket Joanna had insisted on using for their picnic, and he reached out to shake Leonard’s hand before crouching down to be more on their level.
Joanna’s small hand tugging on his pant leg brought Leonard’s attention back over to her. He was relieved to see she didn’t appear to be at all nervous or frightened at the sudden appearance of a new person. It was so hard to tell how she was going to react whenever she was introduced to someone new.
“Daddy? Who’s that man, daddy?” Joanna’s whisper was only slightly quieter than her normal speaking voice, but she was absolutely convinced that she was being so quiet that only Leonard could hear her.
“This is Mr. Jim, baby. He’s a friend of Uncle Scotty and Miss Gaila. Do you remember the party they had for me when we got settled into our new house?”
Joanna nodded gravely, her dark brown curls bouncing in their pigtails. “Yes daddy, and I had to stay with Miss Carol even though it was s’posed to be her day off, cuz it was a big people party.”
Leonard chuckled, and reached out to tweak the end of one of her pigtails. “That’s right baby girl, and that’s where I met Mr. Jim.”
Jim chimed in, “That’s right! I had a lot of fun talking to your daddy, and Uncle Scotty, and Miss Gaila, and all my other friends, but your daddy left before I had a chance to say good-bye.”
This last was accompanied with an exaggerated pout, drawing giggles out of Joanna.
Leonard felt himself flush at the attention. It was true that he and Jim had hit it off quite well, but he and Joanna had only just moved and getting her settled and his dream job started took precedence. So he’d taken the coward’s way out and left Scotty and Gaila’s while Jim was distracted, kicking himself every step of the way.
Joanna leaned towards Leonard, hand cupped around her mouth in an attempt to keep Jim from seeing or hearing what she was saying. Her exaggerated whisper only got louder. “Can Mr. Jim come to our picnic, daddy? Mr. Bear wants him to sit with us.”
Leonard winked at Jim. “Mr. Bear does, huh? Not Joanna Bear? Well, Jo, I think it’s Mr. Jim you should be asking, not me.”
“I can’t ask him daddy, you haven’t innerduced us yet!” She was scowling now, arms firmly crossed.
“I’m so sorry, Jo. You’re absolutely right.” Leonard cleared his throat in an exaggerated manner, as though preparing for a big speech. “Joanna, this is Mr. Jim. Mr. Jim, this is Miss Joanna McCoy.”
Jim bowed as best he could while crouched down, doffing an imaginary cap. He held his hand out to Joanna, bringing the back of her hand to his lips for a quick kiss once she placed her hand in his.
“Miss Joanna, it is an honor to meet you.” Jim’s overly formal greeting reduced the girl to giggles before getting to her feet and bowing to Jim, trying to match his solemn greeting.
“It’s an honor to meet you too Mr. Jim.” Her smile was wide, showing off her missing teeth. “Mr. Jim?”
“Yes Miss Joanna?” Jim’s eyes were sparkling as he pretended he hadn’t heard Joanna’s earlier question to her father, and so didn’t know what question was coming next.
“Mr. Bear and I want to know if you wanna picnic with us. Please will you picnic with us?”
“I think that sounds like a great idea Miss Joanna! But, aren’t my clothes too fancy for a picnic?” Jim gestured at himself as he asked the question.
“You can wear whatever you want to a picnic Mr. Jim. Right daddy?” She turned her big, brown eyes to Leonard, silently pleading with him to help convince Jim to stay.
“That’s right baby girl. You can wear jeans,” Leonard gestured to himself, “or a princess dress,” he gestured at Joanna’s replica dress from Frozen, “or a suit and tie.”
“Well in that case,” Jim stood up and stepped forward onto the blanket, before dropping down to sit cross-legged in between Leonard and Joanna, “count me in!”
Joanna jumped up and down, clapping her hands and squealing in excitement.
The three of them sat and talked, enjoying the weather and taking turns making silly faces at each other, trying to see who could come up with the silliest. Joanna only had to “remind” Jim once that he needed to share with Mr. Bear too cuz it’s not very nice eatin’ in front a somebody if you haven’t asked them if it’s okay first.
Leonard was happy to see Joanna acting so open and carefree with Jim, rather than being the reserved little girl she had the tendency to be with all but a chosen few people. He was happy to sit back and watch, letting most of the interaction take place between Jim and Joanna, and only joining in when addressed or when the laughter had become too contagious to resist.
Between reveling in the natural rapport between Jim and Joanna, and Jim’s knee being pressed into his leg, Leonard was very aware of Jim’s presence. He found himself watching Jim more than his own daughter, delighted in the animated way Jim was talking to her. Keeping everything light, and fun, and not talking down to her.
It might have been purely by chance that they’d run into each other here at the park. And as the little voice in his head delighted in reminding him, he’d been the one to run away from Jim before they’d even had a chance to exchange numbers, let alone actually begin dating.
But he was glad that this chance meeting had happened. That he’d had a chance to see Joanna and Jim together.
Of course, that also meant he was kicking himself that much harder for how he’d left things at the party.
He was so lost in thought that it took him a moment or two to realize that Joanna was studying him. Watching him watch Jim. She looked back and forth between them, and Leonard could see the wheels turning behind her eyes. Uh oh. His little girl could be too perceptive for his own good, and he had a funny feeling this was going to be one of those times.
Joanna climbed up into Leonard’s lap, her hands braced on his shoulders and her knees digging into his upper thighs.
“Daddy?” Her question was serious, brown eyes staring into hazel.
“Joanna?” Leonard matched Joanna’s somber tone.
“I really like Mr. Jim, daddy.”
“I really like Mr. Jim, too, baby girl.”
Joanna watched him for a few moments before smiling at him like he’d given the correct answer. She made a move to get off Leonard’s lap, but he grabbed her by the waist, lifting her slightly and setting her down on the blanket next to him, swiftly avoiding the painful accident he knew was likely.
As soon as he let go, Joanna crawled over to Jim, clambering up into his lap much the same way as she had done with her father. Jim glanced over the top of her head at Leonard, eyebrow raised in question.
“Yes, Miss Joanna?”
“Daddy and I really like you.”
“That’s good, Jo, because I really like you too.”
Joanna beamed at him. “Are you gonna be daddy’s new boyfriend?”
Leonard and Jim both choked at her question, and Leonard could feel his face turning beet red. Luckily, Jim’s face didn’t seem to be too far behind.
“I think that’s up to your daddy, sweetie, but why do you ask?”
“Well, Uncle Scotty has Miss Gaila, and Miss Carol has Mr. Andrew, but all daddy has is me, cuz Momma went to live with Grammy Darnell in heaven when I was a brand new baby. And we both like you lots so I think daddy should have you!” Joanna’s tone was bright and cheerful, as if she had everything all figured out.
He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at his daughter’s matter of fact reasoning behind the questions she’d asked, and hearing her parrot the explanation he had given her as to where her mother was. It was the only thing he could think of to tell the little girl in answer to her repeated questions of who the pretty lady in the pictures was and where is she now? that she might possibly understand.
Based on the way Jim’s eyes darted to his, widening in shock before he mouthed I’m sorry to Leonard, he didn’t know what to do either.
Joanna looked back and forth between Jim and Leonard expectantly, smile still on her face.
Leonard cleared his throat. “Well, Jim, what do you say? Want to go get dinner or something some time?”
“Yeah, Mr. Jim - what do you say? Do you want to go get dinner with us some time?”
Jim laughed and answered the two McCoys. “I say that I better give your daddy my business card before he sneaks away on me again so he has my number.”
Joanna turned and scowled at Leonard. “Daddy! Did you sneak off on Mr. Jim? You can’t sneak off on Mr. Jim if you want him to go to dinner with us!”
Leonard threw back his head in laughter, dimly aware of Jim and Joanna joining in. He’d have to explain to Joanna at some point that, in this case, going to dinner was a big people thing and she’d have to stay with Miss Carol. But she was happy and laughing, even if she didn’t understand what was so funny, and he was in no hurry to change that.