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This Business Of Art

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Jim looked out the newly installed peephole, hesitating before he threw back the deadbolt and opened the door. On the front walk of the fire hall, wearing dark aviators, a navy windbreaker and some jeans was Agent Koenig.

“Hey.” He pulled the glasses off his face with one hand, folding the arms and tucking them into his collar. He looked so much older than he did even as little as a week ago, his hair newly shorn on the sides.
 
“Hey, what’s up?” It had been a long week of answering questions. The FBI wanted to know everything he knew, the press wanted every juicy detail, even his mother in one intense phone call that almost had her on a plane out to San Francisco when she had found out about how his show had turned out.
 
Almost everyone had been questioned, even Pike with his box had reappeared within 48 hours looking ashen faced when he saw Jim the FBI waiting area while Bones was being questioned. Everyone seemed to be involved in some way, most of all Hikaru.
 
Jim looked over his shoulder at where Sulu was sitting at the island in the kitchen, still nursing a mug of tea Jim had given him hours ago. He had been completely gutted by the recent turn of events.
 
His father, his whole family, his mother, his sisters had been so entrenched in the family business they were all facing the consequences: jail time, bail and probational periods. He was the only one left to pick up the pieces. And there were a lot of pieces. All the illegally controlled facets of the Sulu Empire had to be weeded out. Then the wreckage had to be salvaged, rejuvenated with a kind of business savvy that Hikaru had never possessed.
 
But all of that hadn’t been the reason the usually spirited man was now sitting hunched over a cup of earl grey, drawing dull patterns into the counter top with one fingertip. Hikaru had always been separated from his family, their seeming betrayal was nothing compared to someone who had earned his complete trust under false pretenses.
 
“I brought you something. It’s no longer evidence, it doesn’t hold any pertinent details to the case.” Used-to-be-Chekov shifted allowing Jim to see a large brown paper and twine wrapped parcel leaning up against the brick wall outside.
 
Jim frowned. He couldn’t fathom what was once evidence belonging to him that looked like that…but then he was being offered a small familiar green leather journal.
 
“Not that. That is from Spock, I was just going over a few last questions with Pike at the Maru and he told me to bring this over when he found out I was coming to see you.” He trailed his fingers over the paper and Jim nodded.
 
“Right, okay, thank you.” He took the journal and slid the package inside quickly trying not to notice the way Koenig was lingering, looking sad and tired.
 
“Listen…do you know how he is? I’ve been trying to call but he hasn’t answered and-” Jim waved a hand sharply at him, eyes darting over to see if Hikaru had been paying any attention to their conversation, but he was still immersed in whatever pattern he was conjuring on the counter.
 
He then stepped outside, closing the door gently behind him and faced Chekov. Putting aside the thoughts in his mind about accents and betrayal, he tried to just remember that his man in front of him no matter what his name was had genuinely become his friend at one point.
 
“I’m not going to lie to you. He’s not doing well.” He felt a bit like a doctor delivering bad news to a patient’s family. “You really hurt him.”
 
“I didn’t mean for this to-” He shook his head, pushing past Jim before he could stop him and into the home. He strode straight over to Sulu grasping his shoulder and trying again.
 
“I didn’t mean for any of this to happe-” Was as far as he got this time before Sulu slugged him right in the cheek, mouth drawn up in anger, eyes flashing with more life than Jim had seen in far too long.
 
Chekov reeled, clutching his cheek, “Son of a- nng,” he cursed. “Okay, okay I deserved that.”
 
“You aren’t even Russian! Did you tell the truth about anything?!”
 
Jim crept backwards, unwilling to get drawn into what was surely going to be an epic fight to end all fights. Either they were going to be together forever after this or Jim was probably never going to see the young agent ever again. So he dragged his package towards the stairs. Managing to angle it just right so he could drag it one armed, without the corner catching, down into the basement.
 
He really hated the sling. It would come off permanently very soon, and he could still remove it to dress and wash and things, but his shoulder didn’t really hurt all that much any more. All it was really doing these days was getting in the way. He was only putting up with it for one lone, singular, independent reason that happened to be working in the basement.
 
Bones had gotten a little over protective since the incident. There had been copious amounts of mother-henning over the past week: sharply informing even the largest, senior-most FBI agent that Jim needed sleep, elbowing photographers looking for a front page illustration, even telling Spock to back off about the details of Jim’s show left unattended to in the wake of crazy they were all adrift in.
 
So Jim dutifully figured out the angles to heft the package with one arm and shuffled it towards the back of the basement as quickly as possible. Scotty was not in, probably off having The Transporter repaired. It had died one spectacular death the night of the show just when Bones had apparently insisted on following Jim off to the FBI headquarters.
 
Jim grinned, thinking of Bones, hearing Bones, and finally, finally seeing Bones, working away at his wheel making Sulu a mug by the looks of it. Upon Jim’s entrance he pulled his foot off the pedal, looking up through his hair flopping onto his forehead. He gave an irritated huff, pushing it back with his wrist but unfortunately smearing some grey slip across his forehead.
 
“What’d ya have there?” he asked, resting his hands curled slightly, palm up on his knees. Jim laughed unable to stand looking at Bones, so surly with mud on his face and ambled over to swipe the slip away with this thumb.
 
“It’s a present for you,” he said, watching Bones’ eyes following his thumb’s progress to wipe the slip off upon his apron. He looked at the package and then at Jim, raising his eyebrow skeptically. Jim just grinned back at him and urged him to stand and come open it.
 
Bones did stand, gathering up an old towel to wipe his hands with and quickly removing the worst of the slick slip coating his palms.
 
“I swear to god, Jim, if this is a huge picture of your face I’m putting your head through it.” He reached for the twine, pulling it gingerly and letting it fall away from the parcel. Jim just rocked happily back on his heels.
 
“No, no, just something I thought might look nice down here in your studio.”
 
Bones threw him a look of obvious disapproval before crouching down and removing most of the brown paper. When he recognized it he paused, hands still outstretched over the surface of the paint.
 
“You…aren’t selling it?” Bones asked in confusion, gazing at Southern Ice, still as beautiful and captivating as ever surrounded by clay dust and brown paper.
 
“Nah. It’s yours. I told Spock to take it out of the show as soon as possible.” Jim watched as Bones slowly stood and turned around to look at him.
 
“I heard some of the offers people were making for it Jim…” He began to shake his head in refusal of the gift, but Jim waved a dismissing hand.
 
“I know. Spock practically begged me to reconsider.” He shook his head at the memory, “But I can’t sell it. It was yours from the beginning.” He kept his gaze level. He wasn’t hiding from anything anymore, least of all Bones.
 
A slow slightly predatory smile started to spread over Bones’ face and Jim couldn’t help but grin back.
 
“Is that so?” He looked around his studio, “Well, I don’t think I could find a place for it down here.” Jim’s smile faltered only for a moment absorbing the small rejection, but Bones was still smiling like he knew something Jim didn’t.
 
“But I believe there is an available space in the bedroom.”
 
It was Jim’s turn to raise an eyebrow in surprise.
 
“Really?” He drew the word out luxuriously, taking a lazy step closer to the other man. Bones rolled his eyes, still Bones then, despite all the smiling.
 
“Yes. Perhaps you could help me find a spot for it.” Bones cocked his head back towards the stairs. Jim let his grin intensify as he slipped even closer, wrapping his arm around Bones’ waist.
 
“Oh, I think I could definitely help you find a bit of empty wall.”
 
If they forgot the painting, and never managed to leave the studio, well, Jim didn’t mind.