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A Christmas Shrub

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Leonard McCoy loved Christmas. Which was why he was humming along with an old carol as he put the last piece of tape on the brightly coloured paper, smiling as he reached for the ribbons and bow. He had only gotten out of a double shift at the academy infirmary about an hour ago, and Jim should just about now be landing back dirtside after a week long extra credit mission aboard a small starship that was touring various planets within the federation, and this was their second Christmas at Starfleet Academy. Their first year hadn't gone well—Leonard was still reeling from his divorce, Jim was still trying to prove way too much to too many people right out of the gate, and neither had really been in a celebrating mood. They'd managed to get very very drunk, and all Leonard remembered about the night was Captain Pike hauling them both through the door of Leonard's dorm room at half past three in the morning, and then shouting at them for half an hour about being better than this.

No, their first Christmas had not been particularly enjoyable. So this year, Leonard intended to make it something special. Something that, he hoped, neither of them would forget.

They'd commed almost daily while Jim had been away, and it had made Leonard smile to hear the excitement in Jim's voice as he talked quickly about all of the boring things he was doing.

“They actually have me checking star maps, Bones,” he said one night, a note of glee in his voice that Leonard had never before associated with maps and charts. “If there was a way to do this with my eyes closed, I could, I swear.”

“So you're having fun, I take it?” Leonard asked, smirking.

Jim was quiet a moment, then said, “Yeah, actually. Bones... it's beautiful up here.”

Leonard had closed his eyes and imagined it then, imagined standing with Jim and looking out a window to see stars and darkness. It was just as terrifying as he'd always imagined it would be. Then Imaginary Jim had slung his arm around Leonard's shoulders, and...

Leonard shivered as he remembered the way he'd felt safer, even just in his imagination. Licking his lips, he thought about everything again.

He'd known Jim Kirk for almost year and a half now. And he was pretty sure he'd been in love with the kid for the better part of a year. Jim was a force of nature, sure. It was impossible not to be swept up in the current of him. But more than that, Jim was... stable. Jim was dependable. Hell, Jim was a better friend than most Leonard had had in his lifetime, even just in this short time they'd known each other.

A glance towards the generously dubbed kitchenette in Leonard's room had him blowing out a breath. Mistletoe hung over the small space, which was still sending out the scent of cookies. Leonard was certain Jim would make a beeline for those the moment he—

“Bones!”

Leonard fumbled with the ribbon he'd been tying, jumping up as he looked at the closing door and the familiar figure that stood in front of it.

“Jim.”

Jim smiled at him, soft and tired and like he had finally come home, even though this wasn't his room. Leonard's heart leapt, and he stood up. Before he knew it, he was moving forward, pulling Jim into a hug and letting out a breath as he felt Jim's arms wrap around him in return.

“You miss me, Bones?” Jim asked, chuckling.

“Nah, it was nice to have some peace and quiet for a change,” Leonard said. He pulled back and smiled, patting Jim on the cheek.

Jim laughed, then sniffed a few times. “Do I smell cookies?” he asked, peering around Leonard toward the kitchenette.

“Do you ever not think with your stomach?” Leonard asked. Jim quirked an eyebrow, and Leonard flushed. "Aside from when you're thinkin' with your dick, of course."

“Hey, following both of those has kept me alive and happy so far,” Jim said. He stepped around Leonard and took two steps towards the kitchenette before freezing in place and glancing around. “Bones…”

Leonard turned to watch him, hands in the pockets of his sweats. “Jim?”

Jim’s eyes were wide as he really looked at the room. “This… what is this?” He looked at Leonard as though he’d somehow stumbled into the wrong dorm. Or maybe a parallel universe.

“It’s Christmas,” Leonard said, quirking his brow and frowning.

“Since when do you like Christmas?”

“I’ve always liked Christmas!”

Jim’s eyes narrowed. “...ok, fine, you’ve always liked Christmas. So where has this Bones been the whole time I’ve known you?”

Leonard gave him a flat glare. “He comes out at Christmas,” he said through gritted teeth.

“You didn't do this last Christmas.”

“I was adjusting to… everything, shut up or no cookies for you.”

Jim’s eyes went comically wide. “But Boooones.”

Leonard smirked. “Shouldn’t give you any anyway.” He stepped up and poked Jim’s belly. “You’re gettin’ a little soft there, kid.”

Jim swatted at his hand. “Pretty sure the only soft thing is your finger, old man.”

Leonard eyed Jim for a second, then slapped the back of his head.

“Hey!”

“Reflexes ain’t too bad,” Leonard said, “despite bein’ old.”

Jim stuck his tongue out at Leonard as he rubbed the back of his head. Turning back toward the kitchenette, he again paused as he spied the small desk with several presents wrapped in colourful paper and adorned with bows and ribbons. “Are those—”

“Those are for tomorrow, you infant, keep your paws off ‘em.”

Jim beamed at him, then walked into the kitchenette and grabbed a couple of cookies. Leonard grabbed up the last gift he’d been wrapping and quickly put the label on it, then placed it under the small tree he’d set up on the desk.

“Bones…” Jim’s voice trailed off, sounding uncertain around a mouthful of chocolate chips.

“Hmm?” Leonard turned to see Jim staring at the ceiling in the kitchenette and… shit. Looked like Jim had discovered the—

“You have a shrub growing out of your ceiling,” Jim said.

“What?” Leonard’s nose wrinkled in confusion.

Jim pointed at the mistletoe hanging over the center of the tiny standing space between the countertops and the half wall that attempted to divide the room.

Blinking, Leonard opened and closed his mouth twice before finally saying, “You're kidding, right?”

“No, I'm looking at it.” Jim looked back at Leonard, eating another cookie. “Do you not see it?” he asked, mouth full as he stepped directly under it.

Leonard’s mouth dropped open slightly. “You cannot be this dumb, you're some genius whiz kid.”

“...what's that have to do with the shrub?” Jim asked, swallowing and reaching for another cookie.

Gaping, Leonard marched over to Jim and swiped the cookie in his hand. “It’s—”

Jim pressed forward and kissed him.

Leonard stood frozen in shock for several long seconds. Then Jim’s right hand touched his cheek, and his eyes closed and he reacted. His mouth opened against Jim’s and his free hand slid around Jim’s waist, pulling him closer. The kiss deepened, Jim’s tongue flicking out against Leonard’s lips, and Leonard moaned into it. Jim’s left hand slid slowly up to twine in the back of Leonard’s hair, and he angled his head a bit more to prolong the moment. Jim tasted like the bittersweet chips from the cookies and slightly minty, like he’d brushed his teeth right before coming over. Teeth scraped over Leonard’s lower lip, and he shivered as Jim pulled back and they both opened their eyes.

For a few moments, neither of them spoke. Leonard was still too stunned, and if Jim’s wide eyes were any indication, he was too.

Swallowing, Leonard finally said, “How long?”

The pink tip of Jim’s tongue snaked out over his bottom lip before he said, “Long enough?” He took a breath and relaxed his hold on Leonard. “But I think I realised it during finals, when you came looking for me in the library.”

“Brought Chinese and told you to stop tormentin’ the books so much,” Leonard said, remembering. Their first year final exams had been hellish, and whenever not in class, Jim had simply vanished, it seemed. It had taken Leonard almost an entire day to figure out where he was. When he had, he’d simply ordered dinner and plopped onto the floor beside Jim in the small study area, then pulled out his own notes and told Jim to shut up so he could concentrate.

Jim smiled softly. “No one else worried about me. They all said I was fine. But you, Bones…” He gave a little shrug. “You cared.”

“I always care, it’s a terrible habit when you’re a doctor.”

Jim laughed. “Yeah, I’ll bet.” His eyes rolled up, and he smirked again. “So. Mistletoe? That was your great seduction plan?”

Leonard frowned. “Excuse me?”

“Not complaining, man, I’m just saying.”

“Jim?”

Jim hummed, and Leonard leaned in. Jim’s lips parted in anticipation of the kiss.

Leonard shoved the cookie into his mouth.

Spluttering, Jim stepped back, coughing out bits of cookie. “Bones!”

“Stop talkin’ Jim, or you won’t get to unwrap your present.”

Looking at the small tree, Jim asked, “I thought that was tomorrow.”

Winking, Leonard strode toward the small, private bathroom attached to his dorm room. “My family always opened one gift each on Christmas Eve,” he said, looking over his shoulder as he paused by the door. “And since you and I are on the same page regardin’ each other, thought maybe you’d like to keep up the tradition.”

Jim’s mouth worked several times before he finally said, “Oh.”

“Now he gets it,” Leonard said as he tapped the control to open the bathroom door. “So what do you say, Jim?” He held out a hand.

In response, Jim scrambled out of his t-shirt and tossed it toward the hamper. “I’d say you’re the best gift I’ve ever been given,” he said, pulling Leonard in for another kiss. Leonard grinned into the kiss and closed the door behind them.