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Leonard McCoy parked his car in front of a small white house with green shutters. He lifted his collar against a gust of wind as he shut the door. He knocked on Christine Chapel's door despite the late hour; there was light in the windows, so there was a good chance she was still up. Today had been royally shitty and he had no one to talk to beside himself and he was getting worried there was a little too much of that going on lately.

Christine poked her head out, trying to keep the cold November air from coming in. “Leonard? What are you doing here?”

“Ah, I'm sorry, Chris. I should have called...”

“No. No, it's fine. Come in.” She stepped aside to let him in, taking his jacket and scarf and hanging them by the door. “What brings you here?” she asked, knowing he'd met with the Board today.

“Nothing good I'm afraid,” he answered as he followed Christine to the kitchen.

She gave Leonard a once over then bit her lip, thinking for a moment, before reaching for the upper cabinet to retrieve a bottle of bourbon and two glasses. Apparently, Leo appeared in bad enough shape to warrant busting out the good booze. She held the bottle and raised an eyebrow at Leonard who nodded gratefully at the offer. Drinking; there had been a lot of that going on too.

Christine poured some bourbon for both of them, then they lifted their glasses in a silent toast. She took a sip, and Leonard drained his glass in one go.

“They put me on leave, Chris,” McCoy said as the bourbon finished getting rid of the chill that had settled in his bones. “Actually, they hinted that they would suspend me if I didn't take a leave. After all the work I've put in at the hospital, can you believe they did that to me?”

Christine sighed heavily. “Yes I can,” she admitted. Leonard slumped back in his chair, looking pitiful. “Come on, Len, you know as well as I do that you haven't been yourself lately.”

“You mean since the divorce,” Leo said. The reason for his behavior wasn't a secret, it was a well-known fact.

“Yes. That, and the whole debacle about your father. That really hurt you and your family,” she said, sympathetic. Leonard pressed his lips into a line and nodded grimly.

“The director asked me what I thought,” Chris said. It made sense. After all, Christine Chapel was the Head Nurse and she had known McCoy for years. “I told them you deserved another chance, but...”

“But?”

“I agreed with them you could use a break,” she said. Leonard was never one to sugar coat things, and she hoped he would appreciate her candor.

“Ouch,” he said, pushing his glass closer to her, silently asking for another pour.

“After the investigation, you threw yourself into your work. Since your wife left you, you're hard to work with, Len. You're late, you miss meetings, and you're irritable,” she told him as she refilled his glass.

“Irritable?”

“Yeah, well, I was trying to be polite. You've been acting like an asshole, really. You made two nurses cry this last month,” she said, heat rising to her cheeks. It made her angry, because she knew Leonard was a better man than this. He hadn't deserved all the shit he'd gotten, but the way he was handling the stress and depression wasn't working.

Leo huffed and drained his glass again, avoiding Christine's gaze. He should have known she'd put him right. Wasn't that why he had come here in the first place?

“Why don't you go on a vacation? Somewhere sunny, with a beach and pretty women? You need to get a grip on yourself. I don't care how you do it. Date some people. Get some therapy. Get laid. I don't know. But please, don't waste this opportunity. We care about you and we know how great you are at your job. Find a way to be happy again so you can go back to helping people. Because right now, helping people isn't enough anymore.”

Leonard felt a lump in his throat, the truth in Christine's words hitting him hard. He knew she was right but he had no idea where to begin.

A noise got his attention. Christine's daughter walked into the kitchen, opening the refrigerator to get a soda. Her eyes were red and puffy and she didn't seem to have noticed Leonard's presence.

“Hey, Mel,” he called.

“Oh, hey Len,” she said quickly before running back to her room.

“Is she okay?” Leo asked, concerned by Mel's behavior. The young girl was usually much more outgoing.

“Do you remember when she was angry at me for not letting her go on that trip to Argentina with her friend? Well, her friend is missing.”

“What happened?”

“We don't know for sure. She was traveling with a couple of other girls, but they got into an argument one night. Her friends assumed she ran off with some guy she met that night. She hasn't called her parents or sent any postcards since that night.”

“What are the police saying?”

“There isn't much they can do. They reached out to the local authorities, gave them a picture and a description, but there's nothing so far. She could be anywhere. She could have had an accident, or...”

“Gotten kidnapped?”

“Yes.”

“Fuck.”

“You're telling me. I can't imagine what I would do if that had happened to Mel...”

“Who's this girl?”

“Janice Rand's daughter, Sarah.”

“Janice Rand, the Head of Psychiatry?”

“You know her?”

“I've met her once or twice. She seems nice.”

Christine nodded. “She is. Sarah and Mel met at one of our fundraisers a couple of years ago and they've been friends ever since. I told Mel she couldn't go abroad on her own until she's eighteen. Sarah is twenty.”

Leo stayed a while longer, talking about the missing girl, his heart going out to the poor parents who had no idea what had happened.

“Some of us have to work in the morning,” Christine finally said with a yawn.

Leonard snorted. “Yeah, okay. That was just mean, Chris,” he told her with a smile.

Christine reached out, laying her hand on Leonard's and squeezing. “Think about what I said. Change your scenery. Do something exciting,” she said sincerely.

“Okay. I will, Chris. Thank you.”

She saw him to the door, helping him in his jacket. He hugged her and ventured into the cold again, Christine's advice and thoughts of Sarah Rand swirling in his mind.

**

McCoy hated flying. He gripped the armrests of his seat as the plane lifted off the runway. He avoided looking out the window, and tried to disregard another wave of panic by thinking back on his meeting with Janice Rand. The woman had gone from polite to guarded, then from angry to grateful. She didn't really understand Leonard's reasons for doing this for her family, but she was desperate for assistance, for any lead that could help the authorities with their investigation.

Janice Rand and her husband were pretty well off and they provided Leonard with some funds, which were very welcome considering how broke the divorce had left him. Soon he would land in Buenos Aires. He would get a car and a gun, then he would drive to the last place Sarah Rand had been seen.

He had no idea if he would find her. He knew this was ridiculously dangerous and that he was about to meet the dregs of humanity; people who felt the lives of others meant very little. Strangely, he didn't fear for his own safety. His family kept him at a distance. His ex-wife hated him. The hospital didn't want him around. He just hoped he could bring the Rands some closure.

Chapter Text

Leonard McCoy didn't care what it looked like. He didn't care if, to knowing eyes, he gave the impression he was here to trade. In a way he was, after all. Not to trade in people, but in facts. He had tried to give the thick roll of bills to the greasy looking bartender, but the man had refused it.

Leonard insisted, grabbing his wrist and shoving the money into his palm persistently. The man finally glanced down at the money, eyes widening at the amount. Leo knew it was a lot. More than he had ever offered anyone for any scrap of information. The other two leads hadn't panned out and if this didn't work, McCoy didn't know what else he could do.

The bearded man took a moment to count the money. Satisfied, he nodded at McCoy, whose stomach lurched nervously. After all this time, was he finally getting what he'd been looking for? The barkeep waved at the two large men that served as bouncers for the establishment. They approached the bar; the shorter one talked quietly to the bartender, receiving the money, while the tall one stared at McCoy like he was a piece of dirt under his shoes. Fine by him; Leonard shot the same look right back at him.

Leonard was surprised when the tall man with a pony tail, who was obviously the muscles, grabbed his biceps and pushed him toward the exit in the back of the building. Was Leo to talk to someone there? He tried to ask, but the two brutes escorted him out without a word. They pushed him against a van, patting him down for weapons they did not find. He was a doctor, not a gangster. Leo had learned early on that carrying a weapon would end up with it being turned against him. He'd been much more successful with handing out money than dishing out threats. The bouncers found his phone, however. The shorter man with a large mustache opened the phone, ripped the battery out and threw it into the bushes before shoving the useless phone back in Leo's back pocket.

“You damned idiot! Her picture is in there,” Leonard yelled. How was he supposed to show them Sarah's picture to find out if she'd been here? He cursed under his breath.

Without warning, he was put into an arm lock, then one of the men produced a linen sack, and shoved it over Leonard's head. He yelled for help as handcuffs were slapped around his wrists, but no one came to his rescue. They forced him into the vehicle, one of them getting behind the wheel while the other kept an eye on McCoy in the back.

Leonard demanded an explanation, but the men kept silent. Shit, Leo wasn't even sure they spoke any English at all, and his nerves made him forget the little Spanish he knew. He stopped talking and strained to hear anything that could be useful later. They seemed to be on the main road for a few miles, before turning onto a gravel road. They stopped for a minute, the driver exiting the vehicle to open a gate with loud rusty hinges. Leo concentrated on committing all the details to memory before they faded.

After a short bumpy ride, the van came to a halt. When the engine was cut off, Leo could hear the faint noise of waves. He was pulled out rather roughly and pushed toward an unknown location. Leonard's heart was thumping in his chest. He had prodded and poked these people for the last time. They would take his money and kill him, right here in the middle of nowhere. No one would ever know what had happened to him, not his mom, his ex-wife, nor his colleagues back home. Not even the Rands knew where he was.

He was guided inside a building, the wood of a porch resonating under their feet, until Leonard stumbled over the entryway. He was confounded when someone unlocked the cuffs and removed the sack from his head. He blinked as his eyes got used to the dim light and looked around. The room was large and the ceiling high, the walls, once white and pristine, were now peeling and heavily damaged in places, and a strong musty smell permeated the air.

The two bar goons were at his sides, four other men were playing poker and drinking straight whiskey at a small rickety table lit by a naked light bulb. There were small bills scattered on the table, and Leo spied what looked like a crack pipe and a small blowtorch. The thugs and the gamblers exchanged quick words. One of the card players folded his cards with an annoyed sigh, but he pocketed the money he was offered and disappeared in the back room as Leonard waited. This was bad. He'd expected information. Names. Places. Instead, he was here with unknown criminals in the middle of god knew where doing god knew what.

Leo heard what sounded like a scuffle. The door swung open, a man crashing through it head first, falling to the ground with a pained groan. He was facing away, so Leo couldn't see his face yet, but he could see that his hands were tied together behind his back. He was breathing harshly and was struggling to get back up, which seemed to amuse the others greatly.

The gambler finally took pity on the prisoner -or more likely got sick of watching him try and fail- and pulled him up to his feet. The man was young -younger than Leo had first guessed. It was hard to tell, the young man's face being covered with so much dried blood Leonard couldn't see his features clearly. His hair was blond and also caked with blood in places. His lips were chapped, the bottom lip split and swollen. He looked at Leonard with unfocused, gleaming eyes that were a striking shade of bright blue -even in the dark. McCoy's breath caught at the defiance and hatred in them.

Leonard looked around the room, even more confused than before. If they were not giving away information and not killing him, then what? Who was this young man and how was he supposed to help Leonard?

“What is this?” he asked pointing at the bound man.

“Blond. Blue eyes,” the gambler said, forcing the young man to turn his face so Leo could have a good look at him.

“This isn't...” Leo started to protest.

The young captive snorted loudly, answering before the others could. “What? Don't like what you see?” he spat. “Good. Next!”

Leo frowned, trying to catch up with the events. Like? Next?

The gambler rewarded the young man with a punch to the kidney, the kid wavering but stubbornly staying up despite his pitiful state. Leo's first instinct was to run to him to check him over, but fear rooted him into place.

“Yours. Yes?” the gambler asked.

“Mine? No. I didn't mean to...” Leo stammered.

“Not good?”

“No.”

“You leave. We keep half your money,” the gambler said, pulling the blond man to walk him back into the room he'd been taken from.

“Wait. Wait... I...” Leonard mumbled. This was his last chance. He was out of bribe money, and it appeared that this lead was going nowhere. He looked at the young man who was now staring at the floor dazedly, as if the events around him didn't concern him. Maybe he could offer information Leo could use. But Leonard knew for sure that if he refused this transaction -which he never wanted in the first place- and left the young man behind, those blue eyes would haunt him forever.

“I'll take him,” he said, voice cracking in shame and dread. What the fuck had he just gotten himself into?

The gambler smiled a toothless grin, shoving the blond forward before the bag was stuffed over Leonard's head again.

**

The next time Leo was able to see again, he was standing in front of his hotel, which was in the next town. How had these guys known? Did they know who he was? A chill ran up his spine as he realized how close to dead he really had been, and might still be. The smaller the town, the more tightly knit the criminals were and they had the whole population covering for them out of fear.

The driver pushed the young man to his knees, and then turned to McCoy, lifting his shirt to reveal a gun tucked in the waist of his jeans. “One hour. You go,” he gritted out, spitting on the ground before getting back into the vehicle.

As the van peeled off, the tall man yelled out of his window, “Una hora!”

The sound of the van faded away and soon only the crickets and the wind in the leaves of the tall trees could be heard. There was a light still on in one of the second floor windows and someone peeking out of it, but Leo knew better than to expect someone would get involved. He willed his limbs to move, stepping over to help the young man up. The kid struggled to break away, but the attempt was so weak that Leo had no problem guiding him to his door. Leo's hand shook as he unlocked the door. He pulled the other man inside, and then rested his back against the door, his breath coming in short, harsh intakes.

The young man fell to his knees with a weak groan and collapsed to the floor without a word. Leo scrambled to him, turning him over. He found a piece of duct tape stuck over the young man's mouth that he hadn't known was there. He ripped it off, mumbling an apology, and then started on the ropes that bound his arms together. The knots were tight, and Leo's usually nimble fingers still refused to work properly, so he hurried to grab a knife from his bag and cut the ropes. The young man groaned in relief, rolling onto his back as he massaged his arms, eyes closed and tongue wetting his dry lips.

McCoy hooked his hands under the man's shoulders and dragged him to the bed, laying him carefully over the comforter, and propping his head with a pillow. He grabbed the bottle of water from the nightstand and tipped it against his lips. Some of the water dripped down his chin, but as soon as the cool liquid made it inside his mouth, the young man's hand shot up to reach for the bottle to drink more. Leo had to urge him to take it easy.

“What's your name, kid?” Leo asked. The young man snorted and looked away.

“I'm Leonard. Look, I'm a doctor and I want to help you. But they gave us only one hour to leave town, so let's get out of here before they come back and shoot our sorry asses, okay?”

The young man's answer came in the form of a faint shrug. Leo huffed and announced he would pack his things.

He grabbed his suitcase and shoved his clothes in it, then stalked to the bathroom to collect his items, throwing them into a small bag he also stuffed in the luggage. From the nightstand drawer, he retrieved a bottle of bourbon, and a small medical kit. From under the mattress he got a handgun. Out of habit, he checked his cellphone for service, only to be reminded his phone was dead. No battery. He cursed out loud and put all his bags in the trunk of his car then returned to his room.

The young man was asleep, having pulled one of the pillows to him and hugging it closely against his chest, his face pressed into it. He seemed so peaceful; Leonard was reluctant to wake him. But he had to.

“Hey, kid,” Leo called, nudging his shoulder gently, kneeling by the bed.

The young man woke with start, flinching away from Leo, as if he'd already forgotten where he was.

“What's your name?” Leonard asked again as soon as the man seemed to get his bearings back.

“James,” the blond answered, looking down at his hands blearily. McCoy could see ligature marks around James' wrists, and his chest constricted painfully as he imagined what James had been through.

“Listen, James, I know you're not feeling well, but we need to move now. These people will kill us if we're here when they come back for us,” he explained patiently, hoping the young man would follow willingly.

“And if I refuse?” James asked roughly.

Leonard sighed. “You can stay here if you want. Do you have a place to stay? A car? Money? Friends?”

James looked at him suspiciously, unwilling to share any information. He wasn't stupid enough to admit he had none of those things to a stranger who had just purchased him from a bunch smelly, cocaine addicted hoodlums. He just glared at McCoy.

“Okay,” Leo said, getting desperate to convince James to go with him. “Look at it this way: I'll give you a ride to the next big town where we'll be safe. You can use my phone to call your friends then.” He reached inside his back pocket, pulling out his phone and handing it to James. “Here. Hold on to it. I have another battery in the glove box. Much good it'll do us... There's no service in this goddamn town.”

James raised an eyebrow at the cellphone screen, before swinging his legs over the edge of the mattress. He got to his feet silently, took a step then wavered with a wince. Leonard swore and sprung to his feet, sliding his arm under the kid to hold him up. James pushed at him weakly, so Leo gave him some room to move. When Jim's legs wobbled again, McCoy wrapped his arm around James' waist, throwing his arm over his own shoulders.

“Let me help you, dammit,” he snapped, pushing the screen door open and dragging the young man with him to the car. This kid had to be one of the most stubborn patients McCoy had ever dealt with.

McCoy wanted to keep a close eye on James as he drove, so he dropped the kid in the passenger seat and secured him in with the seat belt. He put a bottle of water in James' hand. The young man tightened his grip around the phone, but his head drooped to the side almost as soon as Leo stepped away to shut the door.

When Leo shut his own door, James was startled once more, dropping the bottle of water on the floor, panic in his eyes.

“You're okay, James,” Leo said soothingly, picking up the water and giving it back to James. “We're leaving now. We're going to leave and never come back. Try to sleep.”

James let his head fall back and shivered. “M' cold,” he said weakly.

Leonard took off his plaid shirt and draped James' front with it. “Let me know if you need anything,” he said, but James didn't answer. Leo started the car and drove off with a peel.

At the edge of the town, Leonard noticed a police car parked by the side of the road. He slowed down when the officer waved at him. Before Leo had a chance to roll his window down, the cop tapped the handle of the gun in his holster and pointed at his own eyes, then at McCoy.

I'm watching you.

A cold shiver traversed Leo's body. He wasn't very surprised that the cop was in on it; it explained how the men from the bar had known where he was staying, but he was struck again by how close he'd been to getting hurt. He sped up, anxious to put distance between him and this damn town.

Chapter Text

James kept dozing on and off, repeatedly waking with a start and looking down to examine his hands.

“Are your hands okay?” Leo finally asked as he drove, concerned.

James stared at his hands, turning them over. “It's just... It feels weird.”

“How so?” Leo pressed on, wondering if the young man had nerve damage from being tied too tightly.

James dropped his hands to his lap. “It feels weird that they're not tied,” he said, his blue gaze crossing with Leonard's.

“I'm sorry,” Leonard offered, knowing it didn't help. James nodded at him and closed his eyes.

Half an hour away from the town where that cursed bar had been, it started to rain heavily. The soft noise of the falling rain and the regular whirring sound of the windshield wipers helped lull James into a somewhat peaceful sleep.

The peacefulness was only short lived. Before long, James started shivering more noticeably, his breathing becoming a mix of small groans and wheezes, and sweat beading on his brow. Leo pulled over and felt the ill man's forehead; it was burning. He pulled up an eyelid, spied the state of his pupil, and took his pulse, finding it erratic. Fuck.

Leo reached for his bag, finding a tin of pills. He picked two, and turned back to the young man.

“Hey,” he whispered, “are you allergic to Tylenol?”

The young man's eyes opened, revealing small slivers of blue, and he shook his head.

“Okay. Good. You have a high fever. I want you to swallow these pills.” Leo placed the pills between the ailing man's lips, but James spit them out, then uttered a weak no. Leo wasn't that surprised; who knew what kind of drugs he'd been given by his captors?

“We need to do something about your fever,” McCoy pleaded hoping he wouldn't have to force the kid to take the medication. “Look at the pills,” Leo said, showing the pills to him, unsure if James could even see correctly, “it says Tylenol on them. I'm not trying to trick you. Take them, please.”

Something in McCoy's tone must have struck a chord, because the young man peered down at the tablets, closing one eye to better focus on the small letters through his haze. He leaned back to let McCoy put the pills on his tongue and then took a sip of water to swallow them.

“I'm going to find us a motel so you can rest,” Leonard said, rummaging though his bag. He found a protein bar, giving it to James who ate it silently, taking small sips of water between each bite as they resumed their dash for safety. Leonard saw a sign for a town, drove until he found a small motel, and got them a room for the night.

**

Leo helped a sluggish James inside, laying him out on the bed, and ran back to the car to get his things.

Upon his return, James had already dozed off. The clothes he wore were too big for him; the t-shirt, the sweat pants, even his sneakers were a size too big. Leonard removed James' shoes, noticing black stains at the bottom of his socks. He frowned. What the hell? He carefully removed one sock, his heart sinking when he saw the state of his sole. It was lined with angry red gashes that were obviously infected. The other foot was the same.

Leonard found the antibiotics in his medkit and James took the tablets, too weak to protest this time, and his eyes drained of all the defiance that had shone in them earlier.

Leo sat by James, feeling his forehead. “James? What happened to your feet?”

James opened his eyes, searching for Leonard's face. “Nero,” he slurred, another severe shudder wracking his body.

“Nero?” Leonard had heard the name before. From the little he knew, Nero was a big time drug dealer with ties to the police and politicians. Big fish. The type of guy who was untouchable through legal channels. His name had come up early in his investigation, but Leonard hadn't followed that lead, because his informant had maintained Nero only bought men. “Don't worry, kid. I'll take care of you,” Leonard assured the young man, wiping his forehead using his plaid shirt. “I promise.”

A few hours later, James opened his eyes, finding Leonard siting up in bed next to him, reading a book. The young man looked down at himself, taking note that all his clothes were still on, except for his shoes and socks. As soon as the doctor noticed that his patient was awake, he dropped the book carelessly and leaned over him.

“Hey, Kid. How are you feeling?” he asked quietly.

The disoriented young man eyed Leo suspiciously and pushed away from him, almost falling off the bed.

“Hey, take it easy. I'm here to help you,” McCoy said, raising both hands in surrender and getting off the bed. “They only have rooms with one bed. They have running water and an AC unit that kind of works,” he told the young man, pointing to the large air conditioner stuck in the window across the room.

James rubbed his eyes and sat up, looking around, taking in the new scenery. His eyes found the door. The stranger was right in front of it and James didn't like it.

Leo stepped aside. “The door's right there. But it's raining pretty hard,” he said as he reached inside his suitcase, digging his passport out of what seemed a secret compartment. He also pulled his wallet from his back pocket, showing it to James before throwing them both at him on the bed.

“Those are my passport and ID cards,” Leonard announced. “I know you have no reason to trust me, but I have no intention of hurting you,” he said as James went through his wallet and studied his passport.

“Let me guess. You just want to cuddle,” James said, sarcasm dripping from his words. The documents looked real enough, but James wasn't ready to trust this Leonard McCoy. After all, he could be a sick fuck too.

McCoy ignored the comment. He asked James to hand him his cell phone from the nightstand where it'd been charging. Thank god he had a spare battery. Leo fiddled with it for a moment then showed a picture to Jim who looked at it with a furrowed brow.

“Who is she?” Jim inquired.

“Her name is Sarah Rand. She disappeared in this country a few weeks back and I offered to come looking for her. The hospitals have no record of her, so I have to assume she was kidnapped. Have you seen her at all?” Leo asked, knowing the chances of James having met Sarah were slim.

“No. I'm sorry,” James told him regretfully. “You must have been close,” he commented.

“I've never met Sarah. I've met her mother a few times. She's the director of the psychiatry department at the hospital where I work.”

James shuffled through the ID cards. “Atlanta, Georgia. Sawbones, huh?” James said, appearing mildly impressed.

“Yeah. Wait, who the hell uses the word sawbones?”

“My grandfather did,” James answered, lips imperceptibly curling at the thought of his grandfather. “But if you're a doctor, why are you investigating a kidnapping?” the young man inquired. What kind of man was McCoy to come here in the middle of nowhere and risk his life to find someone he didn't know? It sounded incredibly brave, but equally reckless.

“Yeah, well, I never said I was smart...” Leo huffed as he ran his hand through his hair.

James examined the passport picture closely. “Your hair's different,” he noted idly. In the picture, McCoy's hair was dark brown, with long bangs neatly swept to the side. Jim liked that better than the current short blond hairdo the man was sporting.

“I decided to change it before I left. A sort of disguise, I guess,” he said, self-consciously combing his hair using his fingers, only succeeding in ruffling it even more. “I'm not sure I like it this way,” he admitted.

James exhaled and threw the wallet and passport in Leo's direction. He checked the bars on the phone, finding no service, before plugging it back in. Leo had to step closer to retrieve his papers, and he sat on the very edge of the bed, waiting for whatever James would ask next.

“So, if you were here looking for her, how'd you end up with me?”

“Fair question. My Spanish must be worse than I thought. I was looking for information. Told them I was looking for someone young, someone blond with blue eyes. They took the battery out of my phone before I could show them the picture,” Leonard related. “I offered a good amount of money, and there you were. I just couldn't leave you with them.”

“What about Sarah?”

McCoy sighed. “I followed her trail for as long as I could. But I can't go back there. From what I saw, even the police are involved. All I can do is give the Rands and the police back home the information I gathered. Maybe they can send someone who's more cut out for this kind of thing.” Leo tried to push away the guilt eating at him for failing at his task.

“Jim,” the young man uttered suddenly.

“What?”

“Jim Kirk. It's my name. Only my mom calls me James. Please, call me Jim,” he said. A cold shiver shook his body and he whimpered as his vision blurred. He held his head, blinking at McCoy who'd scooted closer on the bed, but had stopped short of touching Jim without his permission.

“Are you okay?” the doctor asked.

“No.”

Leonard slowly moved his hand, giving Jim plenty of time to object before pressing his palm to his forehead. It didn't feel as hot as before. The fever had gone down a bit, but it was still there. “I saw your feet, Jim. They're infected. I gave you antibiotics, but the lacerations should be disinfected. Will you let me do that?” he asked.

Jim looked down sheepishly, biting his bottom lip nervously.

Leo frowned. “What's wrong?”

Jim hesitated for a moment, then he shifted on the bed, grasping the bottom of the over-sized t-shirt he was wearing. He turned as he pulled the garment off, revealing his back to Leonard.

“Oh my god,” Leo whispered. Jim's back was covered with the same kind of wounds as his feet. Some had healed, but some were still fresh, their red coloration telling Leo they were also getting infected. “Jim...” he choked out, sadness making his throat too narrow, then anger bloomed within him, hot and fierce, making his cheeks burn. He breathed deeply, trying to focus on what needed to be done. Jim needed him. “These need to be washed. I'll get the bath ready for you. How does that sound?” Leonard offered.

“Yeah. Okay,” Jim replied, his voice thin and shaky.

**

Leo got the tub ready and helped Jim, who seemed to be walking as gingerly as possible, to the bathroom. Leonard shut the door and gave Jim some privacy.

Jim took his filthy clothes off, and stepped into the water. The cuts under his feet stung badly and he almost fell over. He held on to the tiled wall and sat on the toilet.

“Hey?” Jim called out.

“Are you okay in there?”

“I think I'll need some help getting in without killing myself.” Jim knew he shouldn't trust this man so easily, but his gut told him Leonard McCoy was being truthful. There had been palpable honesty in the man's eyes and voice when he'd talked about Sarah Rand. If Leonard had been after something else, he could have kept Jim tied up and weak. If Jim believed McCoy really was a doctor, then he should let him do his job.

“Do you want me to come in?” McCoy asked through the door

Jim plucked a towel from the counter, covering his lap with it. “Please.”

Leo opened the door, finding the young man sitting down, his blue eyes wandering around the room, avoiding looking at Leonard who took a quick inventory of Jim's body. Jim's chest seemed untouched, so did his arms, except for the rope burns on his wrists. His body appeared healthy enough, his skin covering layers of lean muscles, indicating that Jim hadn't been starved for any long period of time. Thank god for small mercies.

“C'mon, Jim. Let's get you cleaned up,” Leonard uttered in a falsely cheerful tone. Jim held the towel around his hips, then grabbed Leo's elbow.

Leo allowed Jim to hold on to him as he clambered into the tub, hissing at the stinging sensation as his feet were immersed in the warm water. Then he sat down cautiously, rearranging the now soaked towel so it would cover his groin. Leo handed him a washcloth, and Jim reached for the bar soap, wincing as the movement pulled at his back.

Leo noticed and kindly grabbed the soap for Jim.

“Do you want me to wash your back?” he asked as Jim washed his face.

The kid turned to him, his face free of dried blood for the first time. Leo had already noticed the deep blue of his eyes, but he hadn't had a chance to notice just how handsome Jim was until now. There was a cut above one of his thick, dark eyebrows, and one on his bruised cheekbone, below the left eye. His lips were lush and light pink, perfectly shaped but for the bottom lip being cut and slightly swollen. With all the blood, Leo had feared Jim's nose might have been broken, but it was perfectly straight, which was a relief. His jaw was square and his chin came to a fine point, in perfect proportion with every single of his features. His cheeks were covered with a couple of days old stubble, which meant he'd been allowed to shave not long ago.

“Yeah, I don't think I can manage that,” Jim said, “but I can do the rest.”

Leonard got a washcloth of his own and delicately washed Jim's back with it.

“Jim,” he called softly as he cleaned the dried blood off, “I need to know...”

Jim looked at him with a small crease between his eyebrows.

“Those guys -Nero- did they hurt you anywhere else?”

“You mean, did they rape me?” Jim said, as Leonard held his breath. Apparently Jim wasn't one to beat around the bush. “No,” Jim answered. “Nero did some sick things to me, but he didn't do that.”

Leonard pressed his lips together and nodded.

“So, how did you end up looking for a girl you don't know in a foreign country?” Jim asked, abruptly changing the subject.

“It's a long story.”

“I have time,” Jim said, offering Leonard a small, sad smile. “It doesn't look like I'm going anywhere anytime soon.”

“Alright,” Leo conceded. “Sadly, I had nothing better to do,” Leonard said. It sounded lame, but it was true.

“Really? I find that hard to believe,” Jim commented. “You're a surgeon. You should be making tons of money patching people up. I mean, you're young, and handsome; you should be married and raising a family instead of running around here with gangsters.”

Handsome? Leonard's cheeks flushed at the compliment. “I tried playing house. It didn't work out. The ex-wife took the whole damn planet in the divorce. All I got left is my bones.”

“Your bones, huh?” Jim said with a small smirk.

Leo huffed and finished cleaning Jim's back. He was about to get up, when Jim asked him to help him wash his hair. He used a plastic cup to wet Jim's hair, then added shampoo and worked the lather in, massaging Jim's scalp carefully. There was a small cut close to Jim's forehead, but it wasn't deep. Jim relaxed a bit, some of the tension in his shoulders easing, and he uttered a few contented sighs that made Leo smile despite himself. He rinsed Jim's hair, trying not to get any of the foam over his lacerated back.

“I'll get you something clean to wear,” Leo said. “Tell me when you're ready.”

Jim nodded. “Thanks, Bones,” he said. “But don't think you're off the hook. You still have to tell me your story.”

Leonard raised an eyebrow at the nickname, but he didn't protest. Jim was obviously a very resilient young man, and Leo was impressed with his calm demeanor in face of the unknown. As far as he was concerned, Jim could call him whatever he wanted.

**

Wearing a pair of well-worn camouflage cargo shorts, Jim laid down on the bed on his belly, with his feet hanging over the edge of the mattress. Bones was applying some antibiotic ointment to the wounds under them, his movements quick and well assured. He wrapped Jim's feet with clean bandages then did the same for his wrists before moving on to Jim's back.

“Ready?” Leonard asked. Jim hummed into the pillow; Leo scooted closer and started spreading the ointment. It felt cool and the light touches of Bones' fingertips caused Jim to break out in goose bumps, as the feeling of being cared for warmed Jim to the core. He simply couldn't help feeling safe in Bones' hands.

“Get on with your story, Bones,” Jim mumbled sleepily.

Leonard sighed, but he couldn't refuse Jim. “I guess I should start where my life started going to hell. My father was a doctor too. A little after I got married, we learned that he had cancer. It had spread so quickly, treatment was useless. All we could do was keep him comfortable.”

“Being stubborn, as a McCoy should be, he refused to stay at the hospital. He said he wanted to die in his own house. The responsibility to take care of him fell to me. It was hard, seeing him like this; my mom cried herself to sleep every night.”

“One morning, my mother found him dead. I loved my father, but it was a relief to see his suffering end. My mother was inconsolable, and for some reason, she asked for an autopsy. They found a lethal dose of morphine in his system.” Leonard paused. “My own mother called me a killer. My own family, Jim. They thought I killed my father.”

“But you didn't,” Jim piped up. It didn't sound like a question. Jim was sure Bones could never do such a thing.

Leonard shook his head. “I was questioned and accused. My father's death was splashed across the newspapers, our privacy was invaded. In the end, the evidence showed my father's fingerprints on the syringe and vial. He'd done it himself.”

“My own family thought I was capable of doing this. It's... It's mind boggling. How could they?” Leo asked, his voice rising in anger. He caught himself, breathed deeply and exhaled. He was done with the ointment. “I think I have just enough gauze to cover your back. I'll have to get more.”

Jim sat up and looked at Bones, his blue eyes shining, as if they had tears in them. “I'm sorry, Bones. I know I barely know you but, for what it's worth, I know you could never hurt anyone.”

Leo stared into Jim's honest eyes for longer than he should have. His throat constricted at the kind words he wished he had heard from his own family. He cleared his throat. “Thank you, Jim. It means a lot,” he murmured. Jim gave him a small sad smile then turned around so Bones could finish taking care of his wounds.

Leo bandaged Jim's back, and helped him into a comfortable gray shirt. It was too wide on the kid's shoulders; Leonard's being wider than Jim's, but the shorts had stayed on Jim's hips without a belt. Jim slipped under the covers Leonard had left open for him.

Fever and soreness were still nagging at Jim, but the bath had left him feeling so much better, as if it had washed away some of his anxiety as well as gotten rid of the smell of the cage he'd been held in. Bones' behavior had been exemplary, and Jim's belief in him, which was mostly based on a gut feeling, had only been reinforced. For the past month or so, Jim had been wary of all the people he'd been in contact with. From the man who'd kidnapped him to Nero and his domestics, to his henchmen. All of them were out to use him; some of them were better at hiding it than others, but they still only saw Jim as a means to an end. Jim could tell, could feel, Bones was different.

Jim sighed. He felt safe for the first time since his ordeal had started. Before that, he'd felt invincible. He'd known better than his grandfather. Better than his mother. Better than his godfather. He'd been justified in all his actions, he would have been damned if any of them had tried to tell him what was best for him. Now, he just wished he had listened. And it seemed he was being given a second chance.

Bones walked closer, dropping two tablets on the nightstand. “Story time is over. Time for your antibiotics, but first, let me take your temperature.”

Jim propped himself up on his elbow, licking his lips before opening his mouth with an exaggerated “ah.” Leo slipped the thermometer in Jim's mouth. Jim's full lips closed around the thin device then curled into a small smirk, his blue eyes looking up at Leo who crossed his arms over his chest, unwilling to look away. Heat rose to Leo's face as he was struck all over again by how good-looking Jim was. He gave up and looked around the room as if he hoped to find something there that hadn't been before.

Jim seized the chance and let his eyes wander down, taking stock of the man before him. He had already noticed the expressive eyebrows above eyes that'd seemed brown earlier in the car, but looked bright green in the bathroom. Right now, in the light of the small lamp on the desk, they appeared a little of both. Leo was wearing the same jeans and white sleeveless shirt he'd worn when he'd found Jim, minus the plaid cotton shirt he'd given Jim when they left town. Leonard's shoulders were wide, and his arms long and graceful, like his hands and fingers. He was in good shape, his body tight and muscled; every single one of his movements was measured and elegant.

Leo finally pulled out the thermometer to read it. He arched an eyebrow. “Much better,” he announced. “You should get more rest,” he advised, retrieving his book and siting in the only chair in the room.

“What about you?” Jim inquired.

“Me?”

“Yeah. Don't you need some rest?” Jim asked with wide eyes. He'd been out of it most of the time, but he was almost certain Leonard hadn't had any sleep.

“I'll be fine. I'll sleep here,” Leonard countered, unable to stifle a yawn.

“That chair looks mightily uncomfortable...” Jim commented.

Leonard leaned forward, elbows on his knees. “I'll be fine right here. I'm the doctor here so...”

Jim huffed. “So what you're a doctor? You know how to take care of other people, I'll give you that. But who takes care of you?” Jim asked pointedly. “Because right now, no one is. Not even you. You've been up all night, dealing with assholes, driving in the rain and taking care of me. You need to rest too, Bones,” Jim pleaded sincerely.

Leonard straightened up, considering Jim seriously. “Okay,” he conceded. Jim was right. Leo doubted he would be able to stay up for very long.

Jim patted the mattress. “You can sleep here.”

Leonard tilted his head. “Are you sure? Because you...”

Jim cut him off. “I know... I get jumpy. But after all you did for me, I'd feel awful to make you sleep on that chair, or on the floor.”

Leo walked to the other side of the bed, and laid his book on the nightstand. “Promise you'll tell me if you change your mind,” he demanded.

“I promise,” Jim said before taking his antibiotics with a few large sips of water.

Leonard lay on the bed, on his back, right on top of the covers, while Jim was underneath them. “Good night, Jim,” he said, flashing a genuine smile that reached all the way up to his hazel eyes. It was impossible for Jim not to return it.

“You saved my life, Bones. Thank you,” Jim whispered, meaning every word. “Good night.”

Jim closed his eyes, and Leo lay still, watching as Jim quickly fell asleep. He was still feeling the effect Jim's smile just had on him. It was the first time Leonard had seen him really smile. He'd seen the flash of his white teeth and the cute crinkle at the corner of his incredible blue eyes. As he pictured it in his mind's eye again, the same wave of heat spread to his lower abdomen.

Chapter Text

Nero's manicured fingers cupped Jim's chin, turning his head so he could have a better look at the face of his newest toy.

“Ayel was right. You're a pretty one,” he whispered. “Oh yes, niño bonito, I think we'll be good friends,” he added, letting go of Jim's face to run his hand down Jim's chest. Jim tried to wriggle out of the man's reach, but his body wasn't cooperating. He tried to move his arms, but they were bound above his head by metal cuffs.

Jim blinked and shook his head, trying to get rid of the cobwebs. His vision was distorted; the colors were all wrong and the man's voice seemed to be coming from far away. The last thing Jim remembered was feeling drowsy at the bar. His head hurt, and his stomach roiled.

“As long as you do what I want, I'll take care of you, muchacho guapo,” the fat bald man said before leaving, slamming the door behind him.

A loud noise woke Jim, and he sat straight up in bed, ready to bolt. Leonard had just walked into the room after buying some food from the motel owners. He stood where he was, unmoving, waiting for Jim to calm down.

“Hey, Bones,” the young man finally said, as his heart still pounded in his chest. Leonard stalked over to him and sat down, setting the bag he was holding on his lap.

“How are you feeling this morning?” he asked, obviously concerned.

Jim self-consciously ran his hand in his messy hair - he'd fallen asleep with his hair wet, which was always a disaster the next day. “I was dreaming...”

It didn't answer his question, but Leo went along with it. “Oh yeah, what about?” he asked, reaching into the bag and pulling out a couple of oranges and two sweet rolls. He threw the fruit at Jim who caught it and set it on his lap before receiving his breakfast pastry.

“About Nero...” Jim replied.

Leo looked at Jim, lips pressed into a thin line. “Do you want to talk about it?” he asked, as casually as possible as his heart sank. The poor young man was reliving his ordeal in his dreams.

Jim started to peel his orange as Leo waited patiently for Jim to decide.

“I had my own room,” Jim started after a long moment. “A big bed with silk sheets, my own bathroom, a big flat screen TV, books... Meals three times a day. The maid cleaned my room every day. I had a balcony to take some sun. I hated going out there, because whenever I did, an armed body guard stared at me from the other balcony. There were cameras all over the place and I had no privacy. None,” he told Leonard who busied himself with his own fruit.

“Nero was out on business most of the time, so he only came for me once or twice a week. When he asked for me, it was the maid who cuffed me. The first time, I refused to let her do it. She left the room and when she came back in, it was obvious that she'd been beaten. So I let her cuff me,” Jim continued, unable to stop.

The floodgates were open, and Jim let it all flow out with relief. He swallowed with difficulty, his mouth dry. Leonard gave Jim a cold bottle of water he accepted gratefully. He drank almost half of it before continuing.

“His bodyguards took me to the dining room. I had dinner with Nero, one hand cuffed to my chair. He was nice to me, wined and dined me like I was his date. He gave me an expensive watch,” Jim said bitterly.

Leonard knew that Nero's behavior was a smoke screen hiding something sinister and he cringed internally at what would follow.

“When we were done eating, his men took me to Nero's office. My wrists were tied, and I was made to lie face down on his couch. He talked to me. Told me I was pretty. Told me he knew what I wanted but that he would never give it to me, unless I begged him.” Jim took another sip of water, staring at his orange.

“He hit the bottom of my feet with a cane. No matter how hard he hit me, I tried not to scream. But the pain...” Jim's voice trailed, and he shook his head as a shudder traversed his body at the memory. “When he was done, he had his men string me up by the wrists, and then asked them to leave us.”

“That day, he didn't beat my back. He just laughed at me struggling to stand up on my bloody feet. He said I needed to be taken down a few pegs. He said he knew I wanted him to fuck me. That I was a tease and I was asking for it. He jerked off the whole time he was talking to me, until he came on the floor, saying the floor was more deserving of it than me. Then he had his men take me back to my room. Every time he sent for me it got worse,” Jim described. His voice was cracking here and there, but he was determined to get the whole story out.

“It was always the same pattern. He would talk to me like he knew me, like we were friends, and he would give me presents. Then, he'd get angry, call me names and beat me. The maids that fed me and nursed me while he was gone tried to explain to me I should give Nero what he wanted so he wouldn't hit me so hard. He wanted me to cry and beg, but I refused to give him that,” Jim said, his voice taking a hard edge.

“He started beating my back too. He never hit my face. He said he wanted to keep me pretty. He also wouldn't beat my ass, because he wanted it to be perfect for when I'd beg him to fuck me. He said that if I did that, he wouldn't hurt me ever again. I just figured it meant he'd kill me afterwards...” Jim glanced at Leonard, who'd stopped working on his orange a while back and was now staring at Jim with watery hazel eyes. The compassion on the other man's face was plain to see, and Jim felt encouraged to continue.

“I was there for about a month. Then one day he just had me brought to his office. No food, no wine, no presents. They strung me up after he beat my feet so he could beat my back - in front of his men this time. He told me he found someone younger, prettier and louder than me. Someone more fun and more exotic. He told his main guy, Ayel, to get rid of me. I was sure he was gonna kill me. Instead, he brought me to a bar that night. Ayel was playing poker with a bunch of gangsters and he was losing. He offered me as collateral. He lost. Ayel never raised a hand to me, but those guys he sold me to... They turned me into their own personal punching bag. Two days later, you found me.”

Jim exhaled and looked at Leonard who swallowed around the lump in his throat. Suddenly, all the things Leo had been through, or whatever problems he thought he had, seemed very trivial.

“I'm so sorry, Jim. You didn't deserve to go through this,” Leonard uttered.

“Who says?” Jim asked, tears pooling in his eyes.

Leonard frowned. “Hey, listen here. I say so, dammit.”

“You don't know me. You don't...” Jim choked out. “That night, I went out looking for trouble. I wanted to get drunk, and stoned, and find a quick, hard fuck...” Jim got quiet as Leonard pulled him close and hugged him fiercely.

“I don't care how you got there, or what you did before. No one deserves this, especially not you,” Leonard maintained, his voice low and soothing in Jim's ear. Hearing the kid blame himself broke his heart.

After the initial surprise of the sudden embrace, Jim wrapped his arms around Leo as tears freely flowed from his eyes and his body shook. Leonard just held him tighter, petting the back of his head soothingly until the tears stopped. Jim figured he should pull back, but he let the warmth of Bones' body soak through him. He turned his head, the tip of his nose touching the skin of Leonard's neck, his lips brushing against it. Leo's pulse picked up as he felt the warm puffs of Jim's breath. Once, then twice.

“I'm sorry...” Jim said, pulling away suddenly, wiping his cheeks.

“No need to apologize. You didn't do anything wrong,” Leonard assured him, holding on to Jim's biceps.

“I slobbered all over you, and you barely know me,” Jim countered, sniffling.

“It's strange. I feel like I've known you for much more than just a couple of days,” Leo said.

Jim nodded. “Same here.” He stared at his half-peeled orange, falling silent and feeling drained. Leonard stood up, sensing it was the end of that conversation for now.

“Eat your breakfast. If you feel up to it afterwards, we can go sit outside. It stopped raining and the sun came out. Some fresh air could do you good.”

“Yeah. Okay,” Jim whispered, starting on his orange again. Leo walked into the bathroom and shut the door. He washed his hands then splashed cold water over his face. He thought of Jim's breath on his neck, and a shiver ran through him. Fuck. Get a hold of yourself, McCoy. Jim had been through so much already, he didn't need to deal with unwanted attention from a lost grumpy country doctor.

Jim, feeling like a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders, sat on the bed enjoying the delicious orange Bones had brought for him. Bones. Not only did Jim trust him, he liked him. Liked the way they interacted and how easy it had been to talk to him about his most inner thoughts. Liked his company, and the way he talked, with just a sexy hint of a Southern drawl here and there. Liked the way Leonard's body fitted against his as he'd held him. Liked the way he smelled. Fuck. Get a handle on this, Kirk. Leonard McCoy had gone through enough bullshit; he didn't need to handle a lost boy crushing on him as well.

**

Later on that day, Bones let Jim pick a book from the few he kept in the trunk of his car, and then they sat on the porch of the motel, rocking and reading like two retired old men.

The motel was small, with only ten rooms. It was a couple of miles from the main road, right outside a small town. There was a noteworthy waterfall nearby that kept a steady flow of tourists coming through town. The family that owned it lived in a house attached to the motel that also contained a small general store out of which they sold a bit of everything, including freshly cooked food.

The rain had left the air humid, but the sun was shining brightly, and Jim happily let its rays warm his body. It felt amazing to be able to freely enjoy the sun, without a man with a machine gun eyeballing him. Birds were chirping loudly from their perch in the lush green trees. The sky was a beautiful blue, with only a few wispy clouds. The song of the cicadas could be heard all around them and a light breeze helped keep both men cool. It felt too good to be true.

“Hey, Bones?”

“Hmm?” Leo rumbled keeping his eyes on his book.

“Aren't you afraid they'll come after us?”

Leo took off his sunglasses so Jim could directly look into his eyes. “I highly doubt they will. It wouldn't make any sense for them to let us go and then hunt us down. As long as we don't show our faces there, we have nothing to worry about.” Leo asserted.

“I guess you're right,” Jim said, uncertainty still nagging at him. He suspected he would have to live with this feeling of impending doom for a while.

“Their business depends on word of mouth. If they killed all their clients, who'd wanna buy anything from them?” Leo reasoned. “And besides,” he added, “if they try to take you back, I'll shoot them.”

“Are you telling me you own a gun?” Jim asked, his eyebrows rising in utter surprise.

“I guess I am.”

“I thought you took an oath to do no harm...”

“That's true. But if someone threatens me or the people I care about, I'll harm the fuck out of them, oath or no oath,” Leonard said evenly.

Jim smiled. “You care about me?”

“As a matter of fact, I do,” Leo admitted, his cheeks turning pink. Jim's smile grew wider.

A short while after, Jim was nodding off in his chair, his book open on his lap. Leonard woke him and shooed him inside so he could take his antibiotics and a nap.

“I'll wake you up in a couple of hours with dinner. I will be on the porch if you need anything,” he told Jim as his eyelids drooped.

**

Wake up, pretty boy. Wake up, mi ángel con ojos azules.

Jim's heart sank. Bones had only been a dream, and when he would open his eyes, Nero was going to order him to get ready for dinner. He held his breath and forced his eyes open. Instead of a fat man in a white linen suit leering at him, Jim saw a tall handsome man looking down at him kindly. Jim wanted to jump up to hug and kiss him.

True to his word, Leonard had woken Jim holding a tray with two bowls of soup and a large plate piled high with freshly baked empanadas. The delicious aroma made Jim's mouth water.

Leo propped up the pillow for Jim who ate with gusto, the tray sitting across his lap as Leo ate on the chair a few feet away.

“I talked to Maria,” Leo announced.

“Who's Maria?”

“The wonderful lady who made these delicious empanadas. She and her husband own the motel. Anyway, I talked to her about letting you use their phone to call your family. In exchange for some money, of course.”

Jim's enthusiastic chewing slowed. “I don't have any money.”

“I'll pay, Jim,” Leo said.

“I don't want your money.”

It was a weird thing for Jim to say. Why bring up money now, after Leo had paid hundreds of dollar to buy him, after feeding him and nursing him? It was just a phone call. Five dollars max.

“Don't be silly,” Leo said. “Don't worry about the money. You can pay me when we're both home. No big deal.”

Jim grunted in reply and finished his food in silence. Leonard didn't like this at all. Why had Jim's mood turn foul at the possibility to call home? He finished his food, placed the plate, the bowls and spoons on the tray with the intention of returning it to Maria later on.

He sat next to Jim and stared at him.

“What?” Jim asked after an awkward minute.

“I'm waiting for you to explain what just happened.”

“It's a long story,” Jim replied, using the lame excuse Bones had used the day before.

“I have time,” Leo answered with a smirk.

“Are you sure you want to use it to hear my sob story?” Jim insisted.

“Yes. I'm sure. You can tell me as much as you want,” Leo assured him with a kind smile.

“Okay. You asked for it,” Jim quipped. “My dad, George Kirk, was a cop. He married my mom after she got pregnant with me. On the way to the hospital, my parents were hit by a car. My dad died, but my mom made it. She gave birth to me in the ambulance. She had multiple fractures, and head trauma. She recovered but suffered from chronic pain ever since.”

“She was always very distant toward me. She never talked about my father; there were no pictures of him around the house. I had to keep the one I had hidden. Her father ended up raising me more than she did. I was too young to understand it at the time, but later on I found out that she was struggling with an addiction to pain killers. Anyway, my grand-father was a good man, and he did his best raising me. When I was 15, he passed away. He'd been the one person who kept me centered; after he was gone, I went wild. My mom was barely around, and when she was, she usually had some lousy boyfriend with her.”

“I got involved in things I shouldn't have. Petty crime, drugs, fights. She was at the end of her rope with me, not that her rope was very long in the first place... By then I knew she was getting high, so nothing she said could reach me.”

“One night, the cops brought me home, catching me out after curfew. She went off on me. She told me she never wanted me, that George was the only reason why she kept me. She'd wanted an abortion but he had convinced her otherwise. She said that if it weren't for me, my father would still be alive.”

“That's an awful thing to say,” Leo murmured. He understood why Jim might not want to call her.

“Needless to say, things didn't improve after this. I moved out as soon as I turned eighteen. I had dropped out of school already, had no family. I worked odd jobs, not all of them legal. Until one day, a man called Christopher Pike found me at the bar around the corner from where I lived. I'd just gotten into a fight, I had napkins stuck in my bloody nose,” Jim said, a small smile playing on his lips at the memory. “His name was familiar; I remembered my grandfather mentioning him when I was a kid.”

“Pike had been my father's partner on the force. He said my father had asked him to be my godfather, just a few days before the accident and that he accepted.”

“You had no idea?” Leo asked.

“My mom never told me that. She asked Pike to stay away, because seeing him was too painful for her. Just like that, another part of my father's life taken away from me. Anyway, I was an adult now and he said he'd be in my life if I wanted him to. For the first time in my life, there was someone who'd known my father and told me about him, instead of acting like he'd never existed.”

McCoy noticed how some of the tension in Jim's body had eased. Whoever this Pike guy was, he had a positive effect on Jim, and just the thought of him seemed to make the young man feel better.

“After a while, Pike offered me to live with him, and I eventually accepted. I went back to school. Turns out I'm pretty smart...” Jim told Leonard with a smirk.

“Well. What d'ya know?” Leo said teasingly with one eyebrow raised. Jim huffed, drank some water and continued.

“One day, Pike came to me with a request. Winona, my mom, had reached out to him. She was making amends - it's a 12-step program thing. Pike told her I lived with him and she asked to see me.”

“I refused, and Pike let it go. But just over a month ago, he put his foot down. My mom had been sober for eight months, and he wanted to have her over for Christmas. He begged me to give her a chance. He said she was coming no matter what and that it was up to me to be there or not. I called him a traitor and I left. I filled a backpack and went to the airport. Argentina was at the top of the departure list.” Jim took a deep breath and waited for Bones to say something.

“I think your godfather would love to hear from you,” Leo said.

“I've been such an idiot... If only I had listened to him...” Jim mumbled.

“This Christopher Pike seems like a nice man.”

“He treated me like a son. Said he saw great things in me. I disappointed him. I bet talking to me is the last thing he wants,” Jim told Leo, guilt twisting his gut.

“Call him, Jim. Just tell him you're safe. He won't give a shit about the rest, I can promise you that,” Leo said. “When you're ready, go call him, okay?”

Jim was lost in thought for a moment. “Okay,” he said. “Who do you call?”

Leo winced. So far he'd only called the Rands. He avoided calling Christine, who had unleashed an astonishing barrage of curse words when he'd told her what he was planning to do. When she had advised him to go on an adventure, she hadn't meant for him to go play private investigator in the middle of South America. He barely spoke any Spanish, for god's sake.

“I've been giving updates to the Rands. I probably should call Christine.” Leo informed Jim.

“Ex-wife?” Jim inquired.

Leonard snorted. “No. Pamela and I have nothing to say to each other.”

“Girlfriend then?”

“Just a colleague. We've known each other for years. She's the only one who's not afraid to tell me when I'm being a jackass,” Leo explained.

“People are afraid of you?” Jim asked. He'd noticed Bones could be bristly, but he'd been so patient and kind, it was hard to imagine him scaring people away.

“Let's just say I've grown grumpier in recent months. After I was cleared of all accusations, I cut all contacts with my family, and most of my so-called friends, and I threw myself into my work. Pamela ended up leaving me for someone else. Looking back, I can't really blame her; she'd been through the wringer with the press too and I was never there,” Leonard related.

“Without realizing it, I became angrier, and I took it out on the people I work with. The board of directors forced me to go on leave. Then, I heard about Sarah and... Well, I guess I was desperate for a purpose, even at my own safety's expense. You should have heard Christine when I told her I was coming here and why,” Leo said smirking.

“It was a brave thing to do,” Jim said, causing Leo to raise an eyebrow. “But it was also very stupid,” Jim added.

Leo lowered his eyebrow and let his head fall forward, his shoulders slumping. “You're right. I knew I might get myself killed doing this, but I didn't care. I'm lucky to be alive. I just... I just wanted to help these people. Helping people is all I have left.”

“It was stupid, but I'm glad you did it, because you saved me. Helping people is great, but maybe you need to let people help you. You don't have to face everything on your own,” Jim gently scolded him.

The lump in Leonard's throat prevented him to say anything. Jim patted Leo's knee, letting his hand linger for longer than necessary. When Jim removed his hand, the spot where it had been felt cold, and Leonard wished Jim had left it there.

Later that night, they watched soap operas on the small television set, sitting on the bed and munching on snacks. Jim kept making up his own lines, dubbing the actors over, and Leonard found himself laughing harder than he had in ages. When Jim finally fell asleep, Leo pulled the blanket up to the young man's chin and lay down next to him. He stared down at Jim fondly, until he too drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Jim offered to go get breakfast with Bones. He finally got to meet Maria and her husband, as well as their two sons. Leonard wasn't an expert in any way, but it appeared to him that Jim's Spanish was fluent, and every time Jim rolled an r, the exotic sound made pleasant warmth spread to Leo's lower abdomen.

Leo had made his purchase and was ready to leave, but Jim lingered behind, perusing the merchandise. “Hey, are you coming, kid?”

“Could you do me a favor?” Jim asked quietly.

“Sure,” Leo answered as he approached.

“I, uh... I wanna buy a pair of sunglasses, and make a phone call,” Jim mumbled, putting his hand to the side of his face as if holding a telephone. Leo gladly pulled a bill from his wallet and handed it over to Jim who took it, his fingers sliding over Leonard's briefly. The approval that shone in Leo's eyes only strengthened Jim's resolve.

“Thank you, Bones. Go ahead. I'll meet you in a minute,” Jim said. Whatever anger Jim had held on to had melted into guilt for running away when things got hard. His godfather had never wanted anything else but the best for Jim. Jim was overwhelmed by the need to apologize and make amends.

Leo nodded and smiled. “Bring us back some coffee, will ya?” Leo said before leaving Jim to his business.

**

A few minutes later, Jim entered their room with a smile. He sauntered to the bed and let himself flop down on it, face first. He turned his head and gazed at Leonard who was sitting on the chair. The curtains were open, letting in the golden morning sun. It caught Jim's hair, making it look more blond, and causing his eyes to sparkle like priceless blue gems.

“Well, you look happy. I take it went well,” Leo observed.

“You were right, Bones,” Jim announced with a grin.

“Would you mind writing that down and signing it? Christine won't believe it when I tell her...” Leo kidded.

Jim snorted. “Seriously, you were right. Pike was just relieved to hear from me. He apologized for being so pushy. When my mom heard what happened, she decided not to come for Christmas, not unless I wanted her there. She left a letter for me,” Jim recounted.

“Will you read it?” Leo asked.

“I think so. I've changed a lot these past few months. I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't believe other people can change too,” Jim explained.

Leo hummed in agreement. “Did you tell him...?”

Jim's expression darkened. “No. I'll tell him the truth when I get home. It's not really something I want to say over the phone. I told him my papers, money and phone were stolen, and that I got really sick,” Jim related. “I told him about you.”

“Really?”

“Bones, you saved my life. Of course I mentioned you. He wants to meet you,” Jim told Bones, hoping he'd want to meet Pike too. Bones meeting Chris meant his newest friend would stick around for a bit and possibly stay with him in San Francisco for a while.

“I'd like to meet him too,” Leo said as he watched the expression on Jim's face brighten again. If it all had been up to Leonard, that was the way he'd want to keep Jim all the time: happy, smiling and carefree.

“Pike said to call again when we're in Buenos Aires. He can help me get my papers in order so I can leave the country. I didn't know exactly when that would be. I told him a few days. I'm anxious to get home, but I like it here,” Jim said, omitting the with you he wanted to add at the end of that sentence.

“I've got to admit, this is finally starting to feel like a real vacation,” Leonard confided, instantly regretting saying it. "I mean, now that the worst is behind us..." he added quickly, not wanting to downplay what had happened to Jim. "What I mean is, yesterday was the first time I didn't feel I was here on a mission." Beyond the fact that Jim needed his medical expertise, Leo found he connected on a more personal level with the young man, and he enjoyed it thoroughly. “Better late than never, I guess.”

Jim just continued smiling. “You know, it's not really a vacation without a fling,” Jim stated, his eyes sparkling playfully.

Leo's stomach flipped, and he waived his hand dismissively to hide his turmoil. “Over-rated.”

“Spoken like a man who hasn't gotten laid in a while...” Jim teased.

“Excuse me, but...” Leonard started to protest, but he gave up almost instantly and exhaled loudly. What was the point in lying? “You got me. Guilty as charged,” he conceded, resting his elbows on his knees, looking defeated.

“We'll have to fix that then,” Jim said with a lopsided smile that made him look like he was up to no good. “Do you want to go to the waterfalls with me today?” Jim asked, turning to his side, still avoiding laying on his wounded back.

“Did you ask your doctor if that was wise?” Leonard asked with a playful smirk. Jim was young, and his body strong. His injuries were healing well and his fever was completely gone.

“My doctor will say yes, because he can see I'm in a good mood, and that if I don't spend some of this energy, I'll be bouncing off the walls and annoy the living hell out of him later,” Jim said with mock seriousness.

“Since you put it this way...” Leo said. “I'd love to go with you.”

“Yes!” Jim said, pumping his fist in the air and doing a small victory dance while still on the bed. It was silly and over the top, but Leo couldn't repress a smile. Then he noticed the way Jim's hips rolled from side to side and he felt heat rise to his cheeks. He needed a distraction.

“Uh, Jim?” Leo called.

Jim stopped his writhing. “Yeah?”

“Where's our coffee?”

“Ah, shit.” Jim sprung to his feet and stepped out, winking at Leonard before shutting the door.

Leo was glad that Jim wasn't there to see the tip of his ears turn pink. As Jim's condition improved, more and more of his personality shone through. Jim was smart, funny and charming, and the more time the doctor spent with Jim, the more Leo was attracted to him.

“I'm so screwed,” he thought out loud, dropping his chin to his chest and rubbing his eyes with the heels of his hands.

**

Leonard refused to let Jim walk to the waterfalls and insisted on driving there. Jim might have been feeling energized now, but Leo suspected that Jim would run out of steam before long, plus the kid shouldn't be on his feet for extended periods of time.

It was a short drive to the small parking lot and a short walk down the gravely path that opened up on the falls themselves. The falls were several meters high, the stream was narrow and strong at the top, but the water fanned out as it glided down the bedrock, breaking into smaller streams and thinning before falling into a pool like a curtain.

There were a few local kids playing in the pool, a couple of young women getting ready to leave after sunbathing, and a small family having a picnic on the sandy bank.

Jim picked a spot on the other side of the pool, where the trees were tall and thick, hiding the small creek that ran from the pool to the nearby town. Leonard approved of the choice; it was a good distance from the other tourists and provided some shade for Jim, who was still taking antibiotics that made him sensitive to the sun. Leo took the blanket that hung from his arm and laid it down as Jim put their small cooler on the ground.

Jim sat down and took off his shoes, which actually belonged to Bones. Jim had asked Leo to throw away all the clothes he'd been wearing when he was rescued. Jim took his socks off revealing the pristine white bandages that were wrapped around both his feet. The wounds were healing well and weren't bleeding anymore, but the bandages helped cushion Jim's soles. Jim started to undo the bandages, eager to feel the warm outside air on his feet.

“Wait, let me,” Leonard interjected, leaning closer to Jim's feet to unwrap them. Jim smiled languidly as he watched Bones working with a small frown of concentration, his long fingers' movements quick and precise. Jim would have been lying if he said he didn't enjoy having Bones fuss over him.

They were both so engrossed in each other, they didn't notice that one of the girls had walked up to them.

“Hi, guys,” the brunette said, startling both men. She'd left behind her blond friend, who seemed embarrassed by her friend's audacious behavior. “I thought I saw you at the motel, and I, well, we were wondering if you guys were going to the barbecue tomorrow night,” she told them, throwing her long hair behind her shoulder.

“What barbecue?” Jim asked.

“It's a weekly thing, every Friday night in town. Anyway, we're going and we were hoping you'll be there too. I'm Ellie by the way, and that's Stephanie over there.” Ellie waved at her companion and Stephanie waved back. Jim and Leonard waved at her too.

“I'm Jim, that's Bones,” Jim announced.

“It's Leonard, actually,” Leo corrected.

“Nice to meet you. See you there, then?” she asked, hopeful.

“See you there,” Jim confirmed. Leonard turned to look at Jim in surprise as the girl walked back to her friend who had already retrieved her bicycle from the fence.

“See you there, uh?” Leo asked sarcastically.

Jim shrugged. “Why not?”

“They're too young,” Leo retorted.

“I don't discriminate based on age, race or gender,” Jim replied.

Leonard raised an eyebrow at this. “In general, or in your love life?”

“Both,” Jim answered, waggling his eyebrows comically.

“Jim, they don't look over twenty years old,” Leo protested. “The same age as Sarah Rand, dammit. And they should be more careful. Shouldn't talk to strangers like that.”

“Look, it's just a barbecue. We don't have to hang with them. Have you ever had asado? Because that stuff is amazing!” Jim said, his mouth watering at the thought.

Leonard sighed. He was less annoyed with Jim accepting the invitation knowing Jim had thought with his stomach rather than his dick. “Fine,” he finally capitulated, and then he finished taking the gauze off Jim's left foot.

They sat and enjoyed the view, talked a bit as they drank a couple of sodas and ate the cold sandwiches Maria made for them. They lay side by side for a good while, looking at the large clouds moving across the sky, until the splashing of the kids could not be heard anymore. By the time Jim sat back up, the kids and the family were gone.

“I don't suppose my doctor will let me jump in the water,” Jim said staring at the green pool without any high hopes.

Leo sat up, giving Jim an apologetic look. “Too early. You're still healing,”

“That doesn't mean you shouldn't,” Jim countered.

“I didn't bring a swimsuit,” Leo replied.

“So?”

Leo snorted. “Are you expecting me to swim naked? In public?” he asked.

“There's no one here,” Jim retorted. “It's too bad the girls left. They were staring at you the whole time. I'm sure they would have enjoyed a free strip tease,” Jim said, chuckling.

“Staring at me? I doubt that. It's you they were looking at, pretty boy,” Leo said. Jim's smile faded and his eyes went dull. After a moment, Leo put his hand on Jim's shoulder. “Hey, are you okay?”

Jim blinked, his eyes regaining their focus before he gazed at Leonard. “Yeah, it's just that name, 'pretty boy'. Nero and his guys called me that all the time.”

“I'm sorry,” Leonard said. “It's a pity they ruined a perfectly appropriate description of you,” he added, his cheeks flushing. He wasn't sure if it was prudent to say things like that, but he couldn't help it, because, fuck, the kid was pretty as hell.

The corner of Jim's lips curled. Bones had just admitted to finding Jim pretty. Somehow, it made Jim feel better. “Make it up to me by going swimming,” Jim said, his smile returning at full strength. If a casual suggestion didn't succeed, maybe a bit of manipulation would work on Bones and convince him to take his clothes off.

“What do you get out of that exactly?” Leo asked, looking at Jim sideways.

“There's no reason for both of us to be dying of heat. Just go,” Jim replied. Jim was dodging the question, but Leo didn't press him for details. He felt awful about sending Jim into a flashback, so he decided to do as Jim asked.

Leo tilted his head, observing Jim's face over his sunglasses. “Okay, you win.”

Jim gave him a sly smile. “Good. Now go swim. You're going to love it.”

Leonard kicked off his sandals, and handed his sunglasses to Jim. He got up and removed his t-shirt throwing it to the ground. Jim had seen Bones without a shirt on before, but every time it had only been a furtive glance; now Jim just stared for all he was worth.

Leonard was very aware of the kid's piercing blue eyes on him, even through Jim's brand new pair of cheap sunglasses. He kept his eyes trained on Jim and undid his belt, Jim holding his breath as Bones pulled the tab of his zipper.

There were boxer briefs underneath.

Leonard smirked at a disappointed Jim as he let the cargo shorts drop and stepped out of them. “Did you really think I was going to strip naked here?” Leo asked through a smile, crouching to fold the garments.

“Well... I would have done it, but that's because I'm a lot more fun then you are,” Jim replied, thoroughly enjoying the barely veiled flirty banter. Was there any way Leonard McCoy might be interested?

“I'm all kinds of fun,” Leonard deadpanned before trudging toward the water. His black boxer briefs showed off his butt, and Jim pulled his shades down his nose to have good look at his firm ass and long tanned legs as the doctor entered the water, carefully stepping on the flat rocks on the edge of the pool.

Bones bent his knees and leaped forward, diving into the bluish-green pool with perfect form, his long muscled body slicing into the water seamlessly. Jim uttered a small 'oh' of surprise. He could see Leo's outline underwater, and his graceful movements as Leonard swam for the surface.

Leo popped back up, taking a deep breath, then he turned around to look at Jim who was smiling at him widely. Bones dove back in, Jim losing sight of him for a moment. He soon emerged, closer to where Jim was this time. “It's deeper than it looks. Plenty of room to swim. Feels great,” Leonard told Jim, wiping water from his forehead.

“Told ya,” Jim quipped. He wanted to get closer to observe but he doubted that walking over sand would be good for his feet, plus Bones would scold him for it. Jim shooed Bones away with a movement of his arm. “Get under the falls,” he yelled at the doctor.

Leo turned to examine the waterfall; the kids had been playing right under it, so he figured there was an easy way to access it. He swam up to it with a few strokes. He found a ledge of hard rock and pulled himself up, finding himself standing right between the curtain of water and the bedrock. He could see Jim still sitting on the bank, unmoving. Leonard took one step forward, right under the waterfall, bowing his head forward, as the cooling water splashed over his broad shoulders and his back, the impact pleasant, not unlike a massage.

Jim stared at Bones, gaping. He looked around to make sure no one else was around; no doubt, this was a show just for him. He watched as Leonard shifted under the water, throwing his head back and letting the water fall over his chest for a while, his long arms stretched on either side. The older man was gorgeous, and the way he moved his body under the waterfall was sexy, even though Jim knew it probably wasn't meant to be. Jim felt a stirring in his groin. Fuck. Why had he pushed Bones to do this? What did he think would happen?

Leonard turned multiple times under the refreshing shower, enjoying the sensations, his thoughts focused on Jim the whole time. Leo didn't like leaving him alone for long; he plunged head first into the water from the ledge and swam back to the left bank.

He pulled himself out, slicking back his hair as he walked back to Jim who was trying really hard to will away the onset of a hard-on. Leonard knelt down on the blanket, taking a quick look at Jim, who seemed a bit dumbstruck, and shook his head vigorously, sending drops of water everywhere.

“Bones!” Jim cried, laughing as the cool drops hit him.

“It's good to see you laugh,” Leonard said, smiling.

“It's good to see you half naked,” Jim retorted, his cheeks reddening. That was so blatant even he could not believe he'd said it. But there it was. More truth out in the open for Bones to hear.

Leonard's lower abdomen fluttered and filled with heat. He wondered how he should handle this. On one hand, he was attracted to Jim, but on the other hand, Jim had been victimized and technically, Leo was his doctor. If Leo gave in to this temptation, he would no doubt feel like he was taking advantage of his position.

“I wish you could have enjoyed that with me,” Leo said, stretching his legs and leaning back on his arms, letting the sun and the breeze dry him. Without a word, Jim crawled closer, settling his head on Leonard's thigh, the coolness of the damp skin feeling wonderful against the back of his neck. He handed the sunglasses back to Leo and waited, his heart thumping in his chest, unsure of what Bones would do next.

Leo slipped his sunglasses back on. Jim's heart skipped a beat when he felt Leonard's hand petting his head. He hummed as Bones' long fingers carded thought his hair. Leo brushed back some hairs that stuck to Jim's damp forehead, then he traced the outline of Jim's ear with the pad of his index finger. The light touch made Jim shiver, sending more blood rushing to his groin. There was something unmistakably intimate about the moment that finally convinced Jim that yes, Bones was attracted to him. How far was Jim willing to take this?

A couple entered the area, chatting as they held hands. The stranger's loud laughter drew Jim's attention, the timbre of it setting off an alarm within him. He tensed and jerked up, slipping out of Leonard's grasp.

“What is it?” Bones asked, startled by Jim's sudden movement.

Jim blinked at the couple that was now sitting down by the water. “The way he laughed. It reminded me of someone,” Jim explained after realizing the man was unknown to him.

Leo reached out to squeeze Jim's shoulder. “Do you want to leave?”

Jim shook his head, and let Bones pull him back. Jim's body relaxed, and he closed his eyes, focusing on Bones' fingers that were gently stroking his cheek, his temple or smoothing his hair back.

When Jim started to doze off, Leo called it a day. Even though Jim hadn't done much of anything, he felt exhausted and he sat silently as Bones bandaged his feet again before driving them back to the motel. Jim fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow and Leonard McCoy sat next to him, watching Jim's chest rise and fall. As he admired Jim's handsome features without the fear of being caught staring, Leonard wondered if he had gone too far by indulging in those small sensual touches at the waterfalls. It had truly felt like a natural thing to do at the time. So why did Leo feel like he'd done something wrong?

Chapter Text

Leonard was waiting for Jim with his medkit next to him on the bed. The kid had taken a shower, and then let Leo check on his back before getting clothes and shutting the door again. Leo had offered buying Jim some clothes of his own, but Jim had shrugged, saying he was fine, unless it was an issue for Leonard. The truth was Jim enjoyed wearing Bones' clothes. There was something comforting about feeling the soft, slightly worn garments on his skin. Leonard heard the water getting turned off, and the hairdryer being turned on.

When Jim came out, he was only wearing a white t-shirt and faded blue jeans, but his face was freshly shaved, and his hair looked flawless. Jim had obviously put hair product in it and Leonard couldn't help staring with his jaw slack.

Jim grinned at Leonard, who wore a black casual dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up and worn black jeans. Jim had never seen him in dark clothes, and he found Leonard extremely attractive in black. But at this point, Jim was pretty sure he'd find Bones attractive no matter what he did, or didn't wear.

“You look good too, Bones,” he commented, loving the slight pink coloring creeping over Bones' cheeks.

“Ready?” Leo asked.

Jim nodded.

“Sit down, I'll bandage your feet. We're going to walk. It's not too far, and I plan on drinking, so no driving for me,” he informed Jim who obediently sat down on the bed. Jim stretched his legs, placing his feet on Bones' lap. Jim was imbued with a familiar warm fuzzy feeling as Leonard placed the protective layers around each foot.

The sun was setting as they headed to the center of the town. They walked with their noses up in the air, admiring the clouds colored with brilliant oranges and pinks. It was breathtaking; Leonard glanced at Jim as the young man looked up in awe, and Leo wasn't sure what he found more beautiful; the sunset, or Jim Kirk looking at it, seemingly happy and carefree?

Jim caught Bones staring at him. “What?” he asked, voice tinted with amusement.

Leo shook his head, smiling. “It's beautiful,” he said, returning his gaze to the sky.

“Yes, it is,” Jim agreed, eyes still on Bones, loving the way the doctor looked in the soft warm light of the sunset.

There was quite a crowd at the park, and Leonard was slightly taken aback, his mind turning to Jim's safety. What if some of those assholes were here? He instantly wished he'd taken his gun with him. He didn't want to worry Jim needlessly, so Leo kept his misgivings to himself.

There was a fee to enter; it included a full meal, music and dance, and fireworks later. Jim pulled Bones by the sleeve, heading directly toward the barbecue, drawn by the delicious smoky aromas.

After quickly browsing the offerings, Jim ordered some items from one of the people that toiled over one of the many coal pits. Jim kept the two plates he held away from Leonard, refusing to let him look until they found a seat. Leo smiled the whole time at Jim's excitement over food.

Jim set a plate in front of Bones with a grin. “Chorizo and provoleta,” Jim announced happily, as if he'd cooked the food himself. “Really great with beer,” he added waggling his eyebrows.

A resigned Leonard scanned the area and quickly found the nearest bar. When he returned, Leo noticed that Jim was already talking to the locals, perfectly at ease among strangers despite what he'd been through.

“You get only one beer, Jim. You're still taking antibiotics,” Leonard told him as he set the plastic cup on the table next to Jim.

“Yes, doctor,” Jim quipped with a mock salute before draining half of the beer. Leonard raised an eyebrow and chuckled, warmed by Jim's easy demeanor and impetuous energy. He truly believed Jim would be alright; no matter how hard, Jim would rise above all this and live life to the fullest, Leo was sure of it.

After what Jim called 'appetizers', he got a pile of succulent ribs for them to share. Leo washed them down with another beer, and Jim with orange soda, of all things. It was dark, now, and musicians played live music as people danced, while others still ate or stood around a large bonfire.

Leonard excused himself to use the bathroom. Leo left Jim by the fire, promising to be right back. He found a long line of men waiting. He stood in it for a minute, trying to keep his eye on Jim. He felt uneasy about leaving him alone for too long; he should have made Jim come with him. Dammit. He looked around. They were in a park, and there were tall trees and bushes on the other side of park. Walking there and back would be faster than waiting here.

Leonard walked toward the edge of the woods, finding a large bush to hide behind. He undid the button of his jeans, when he heard someone coming behind him. He turned, holding his breath. It was Ellie.

“Sorry. Girl emergency,” she announced as she passed him by. She chose a spot to crouch, right in Leonard's field of vision and looked up at Leo as she relieved herself. What the hell? Leonard tried to ignore her, but it was hard to let go with a stranger a few feet away, especially a woman.

Once done, Ellie stood up and neared Leonard. “You're not from these parts, are you?” she asked.

Leo raised a dismissive eyebrow at her, before staring intently at the tree in front of him, not bothering answering her question. This girl was playing dangerous games, and he had no intention of encouraging her in any way.

“Performance anxiety?” she asked, glancing down.

Leonard looked at her briefly before pulling up his zipper. “You should stay close to your friend,” he advised her, turning around and heading toward the fire.

Ellie rolled her eyes. “Wow. That backfired,” she told no one before heading back to find Stephanie.

Leonard ran into Vincente, Maria's husband, exchanging a few friendly words with him, then he tried to locate Jim; he wasn't where he'd left him. Leo walked around the fire once, then made for the bar. Maybe Jim had taken the opportunity to go get another beer, against his doctor's orders. But Jim wasn't there. He asked the bartender if he'd seen Jim, but his inquiries were received with confused looks. He took another lap around the small park. He saw Ellie and made for her.

“Have you seen Jim?” he asked urgently.

“Oh, you're talking to me now?” she said, obviously bitter.

“Ellie?” Stephanie scolded her. “No, I haven't seen him. Sorry.” Leonard gave the young girl a curt nod before moving on.

“Why are all the cute ones gay?” he heard Ellie say behind him. Stephanie told her to shut up. McCoy couldn't care less. The more time he spent looking for Jim, the more his gut twisted painfully with fear and the faster his heart beat under the surge of adrenaline. Finally, Leonard decided to head back to the motel to see if Jim was there.

The room seemed dark through the window. Leo unlocked the door with shaky fingers. He saw the light filtering from under the bathroom door and sighed in deep relief as he locked the door behind him.

“It's me, Jim,” Leonard announced quietly. “Are you alright?” he asked inches from the closed door. He heard a faint rustling sound inside.

“Bones?”

“Yes, Jim,” Leo said, holding back from rattling the knob. “I looked for you everywhere.”

“I'm sorry,” Jim uttered, his voice strained and barely audible through the door.

“Sorry for what?”

“For leaving like this,” Jim mumbled.

“Can I come in?” Leo asked. There was a long silence afterward that left Leonard feeling uneasy. What was Jim doing in there?

“No,” Jim answered. McCoy's heart wrenched in his chest at the refusal, but he could hardly blame Jim. After all, Leo was still a stranger despite the fact that they had quickly bonded over the past days. Going through hardship did that to people.

Seconds later, Leonard heard Jim turn on the tap, and the sound of splashing water in the sink. He patiently waited for Jim to collect himself.

After a long moment, Leo heard Jim lean against the other side of the door; he stepped back, Jim unlocking the door and slipping out a moment later. Jim stood there, looking at the carpet sheepishly. Leo looked him over. His knees were muddy, there were dirt smears in the shape of a hand on his shirt and he was holding McCoy's bottle of bourbon in his hand.

Jim looked up at Leonard. His cheeks were flushed and his eyes were red, as if he'd cried. “Jim...” Leonard whispered. “What happened?”

Jim took a step forward and wavered; Leonard wrapped him in his arms and held him, waiting for the young man to explain. It had been about thirty minutes since he'd seen Jim, and it'd been enough for Jim to get upset to the point of running away to hide.

“I saw one of them, Bones,” Jim rasped in his ear.

“Who?” he asked, frowning deeply as a cold shiver ran up his spine. Who else? He asked himself with dread.

“One of the gamblers,” Jim said, trembling in Bones' embrace.

“Are you sure?” Leo asked. It'd been dark out there, and Leonard hoped Jim's mind was playing tricks on him.

“I saw him. Or at least , I thought I did. And then I couldn't breathe... And you were gone. You weren't there, Bones,” Jim recounted, his voice rising and his breathing becoming more ragged. “I ran when I couldn't find you. It was dark, I fell...” Jim's chest heaved as he took large gulps of air.

McCoy shushed him and rubbed large soothing circles over Jim's back, murmuring “I'm here now,” over and over. “I shouldn't have left you alone. And I shouldn't have allowed us to stay here this long. It's just that... well, I was really enjoying myself. We'll leave tomorrow,” Leo announced, guilt ridden. Jim had seemed to enjoy their time together, but it had been selfish of Leo to keep Jim here with him these past few days. He should have headed back to the city earlier.

Jim eventually calmed down and Leonard slowly turned, taking Jim with him as he sat down on the bed. Jim exhaled and pulled away, setting the butt of the bourbon bottle on his thigh, glancing up at Bones guiltily before handing it over to the doctor. “Sorry, Bones,” Jim reiterated. “You said I shouldn't drink, but it seemed like a really good idea at the time.”

“Still is,” Leo quipped, swiping the bottle and taking a very large swig of it. Jim stared at Leo's Adam's apple bob as he swallowed the same amount of alcohol Jim had consumed while hiding.

“That's my secret stash. How did you know about it?” Leo asked, licking his bottom lip.

Jim produced a soft snort. “The bottom drawer of your nightstand is hardly secret...”

“True,” Leonard conceded. “You don't have to feel sorry. I don't care that you drank; I'm just glad you're okay. And if one of them was out there, I'm glad you left and hid from him.” Leo didn't dare imagine what would have resulted from Jim confronting the man he'd seen.

Jim nodded, then he reclaimed the bottle to take one more sip, noticing how Bones' hazel eyes stared at his lips. Jim offered the bottle back to Bones who took it, and drank from it once more.

Leo screwed the cap back on and reached across Jim's lap to put the booze on the nightstand. The movement forced Leonard to stretch a little, and he found himself with his face only an inch away from Jim's. Time seemed to slow down; he felt the ghost of Jim's breath on his cheek, its damp warmth sending intense heat to his groin. He lingered like this for far longer than was required, his body reacting strongly to the kid's proximity and his mind automatically generating the same arguments as before, although they seemed noticeably more lame this time around: he shouldn't feel this way; it wasn't right; he couldn't do this to Jim; he...

Leo's train of thought came to a halt when Jim pressed his lips to his cheek, warm and plush, and still moist with bourbon; Leonard let go of the bottle, but didn't move away nor looked at Jim. Jim's fingers slipped on either side of Leonard's neck, cradling his face with his palms and slowly turning Bones' face toward him. Leo could do nothing but go along. Jim's eyes were dark, the brilliant blue reduced to a thin ring around his pupils. The young man licked his lips, the gesture an open invitation. Leonard could smell the alcohol on Jim's breath, and he wanted nothing more than to taste it right from Jim's tongue.

“Bones,” Jim whispered, tilting his head and running his thumb along Leo's jawline. He could see the heat in the doctor's eyes; he could feel Bones' pulse racing under his fingers as he held on to Bones' face.

“...shouldn't,” Leo managed to say, swallowing hard.

“Why? Don't you want me?” Jim asked, nudging the tip of Leo's nose with his. The simple touch sent electricity through McCoy. Want Jim? Shit, Leonard couldn't remember ever wanting someone this badly. He started to feel the effects of the alcohol trickling through, releasing some of the tension Jim's disappearing act had caused.

“I do. Believe me, I do,” Leo said, putting his right hand over Jim's on the side of his face, “but after all you've been through...”

“Should I renounce everything I want because of Nero?” Jim asked quietly. “Should I stop wanting you just because that bastard kidnapped me? Am I not free to give myself willingly to someone I trust and makes me feel safe?” Jim's voice was low and calm, but he was frowning at Leonard.

Trust. Safe. Leonard's heart flipped in his chest at the young man's words.

“Don't let him take this away from me,” Jim added.

Leo lifted Jim's hand from his cheek, turned his face and deposited a reverent kiss in the middle of the kid's palm, making Jim's breath hitch. With his free hand, Leonard reached for Jim's face, smoothing back the hair right above Jim's ear, then gently pulling him closer. He pressed his lips to Jim's forehead, the young man closing his eyes as the older man kissed away what was left of the crease on his brow, then the bridge of his nose and the curve of his cheek.

Jim felt Bones' lips on the corner of his mouth then on his chin. He tipped his head back as Bones kissed his throat in the same gentle, unhurried manner, working his way to his ear. Leonard traced the shell of Jim's ear with the tip of his tongue; Jim shivered as Bones' breath tickled his ear, making pleasant goose bumps crawl across his skin.

Leonard nuzzled into Jim's neck with a contented sigh. Jim's scent made Leo's mouth water, and he tasted the skin there, letting out a short quiet growl that made Jim shiver. Jim draped his arms around Bones' wide shoulders and leaned back, taking the older man down with him.

Jim's head landed on the pillow, Bones shifting his body to avoid crushing Jim under his weight. Jim stared at Leonard with half-lidded eyes, waiting as he played with the short hair in the back of Bones' head. Leonard smoothed Jim's hair back with his left hand, pressing the length of his body to Jim's side.

“Are you sure?” he asked hoarsely.

“Yes. Absolutely,” the young man whispered, licking his lips in anticipation as Leonard leaned in and hovered, his lips brushing Jim's.

It's Jim who made the move, lifting his head to put an end to the delicious torture. He grasped a handful of short hair and pulled Bones closer. Leo hummed when he finally felt Jim's lush lips on his; sharp spikes of arousal shot through him, and he wondered how the hell he had made it this far without kissing Jim Kirk.

Leo slid his tongue between Jim's soft lips, exploring the young man's mouth before letting him do the same to him. For ages, that's all they did; getting to know one another with an all-consuming slide of tongues and lips rather than words. Jim whimpered softly and nipped at Leonard's bottom lip, the twinge of pain pulling Bones out of his trance.

After all Nero's venomous words, vile groping and hateful beatings, Jim craved Bones' careful touches on his bare skin. “Bones. Touch me, please,” Jim demanded huskily when Leonard pulled back, sucking at his sore bottom lip.

There was no way Leonard could resist such a request. He slid his hand down Jim's torso, noticing the smears of dirt that were still there, reminding Leonard that Jim had a panic attack not long ago. He reached the hem of the T-shirt, and ran his fingertips over the bare skin of Jim's stomach, from one hip to the other.

Encouraged by the way Jim quivered under his touch, Leo slid his whole hand under the garment to feel Jim's defined abs with splayed fingers. Jim gasped, one hand twisting the bed covers and the other tugging on Bones' hair jerkily. Leo stilled, worried he might have gone too far. But Jim's soft chuckle reassured him. “Fuck, Bones. Your hands...” Jim murmured. Every graze of Bones' soft healing hands elicited surprisingly intense tingling sensations that spread like electricity across his skin, and down his spine. “It's like I've never been touched before,” Jim added with a small smile.

“It's a good thing, then?” Leonard asked with an eyebrow raised, rubbing his palm over Jim's stomach.

Very good,” Jim answered, his cock throbbing in response to Bones' touch. Jim looked down at himself, frowning at the filth on his shirt. He grabbed the hem and wriggled on the mattress to pull it off.

Leo had seen Jim shirtless many times, but it had mostly been in order to care for Jim's wounded back. Now, Jim was undressing so Leonard could touch him; the thought sent more blood to Leo's cock, which he wasn't surprised to find already fully hard and uncomfortably constrained in his jeans.

Even though Jim had slight tanning lines from the little time they'd spent in the sun together, Jim's skin was quite fair, soft, and dotted with freckles. Leonard rubbed his hand over the light dusting of hair on Jim's sternum. He studied Jim's face closely as he caressed Jim's bare chest, drawing the outline of each pink nipple until it pebbled. Jim was highly responsive to all of Bones' touches, gasping, humming and quivering under the older man's fingers. With the pad of his index finger, Leo dared follow the trail of hairs below Jim's navel - an adorable little outie that begged to be kissed. Jim arched his back as Leonard neared the waist of his jeans, and Leo noticed the bulge that lay right beyond.

His eyes followed the line of Jim's legs, noting that the kid was still wearing his shoes. Leo slunk away to remove Jim's shoes, then his socks. Jim wanted to protest and call Bones back to him, but he held back when the doctor started to unwrap Jim's feet.

Leonard held Jim's left foot and bent Jim's leg at the knee so he could lay a kiss on its bare sole. Jim shuddered. It wasn't sexual - not exactly - but it was definitely sensual. Leo glanced up at Jim as he worked, the heat in his gaze promising this was only a short interlude. He closed his eyes and kissed the bottom of Jim's other foot, the intimate gesture causing Jim's eyes to mist. Without words, it was as if Bones was acknowledging Jim's pain and offering to help make it all go away.

Once done, Leo kicked his own shoes off and then crawled back on the mattress, Jim crooning when Bones and his lean, warm body returned to him.

Leo made Jim turn to his side, not wanting to irritate Jim's back, then, cradling Jim's cheek with one hand, he ran his thumb over Jim's pretty lips before kissing them again. Jim snaked his arm around Leonard's waist and scooted closer, seeking more pressure on his erection. He moaned into Leo's mouth when he felt the other man's bulge pressing against his.

Feeling Bones' arousal like this sent more lust flowing through Jim. He pulled back a little and ran his hand up Leo's shirt, wanting to rip it open. But since Jim was wearing some of Bones' already limited wardrobe, he figure it would be rude to damage the shirt. And for entirely selfish reasons, Jim didn't want to risk Bones never wearing that shirt again; the older man looked so damn good in it, it'd be a shame to ruin it. Jim undid the buttons, one by one, biting his lip.

The Argentinian sun had been good to Bones. Jim brushed his hand across the tanned skin of his chest, pushing the black garment off his left shoulder so he could kiss along Leo's collarbone. He licked and kissed Bones' neck then captured Leonard's lips again, humming happily as he felt the bare warm skin of Leonard's chest on his.

Jim wrapped his arm around Bones, under his shirt, caressing the whole length of his back. Jim rolled his hips, grinding his hard-on into Leo insistently. Leonard's hand slid down Jim's back, careful and feather-like, until he felt the curve of Jim's ass and groped it through the denim. Leo ducked his head into Jim's neck, letting his teeth scrape the sensitive skin there; Jim shuddered strongly in his arms, shoving his tongue back inside Leonard's mouth and hooking his leg over Bones' so he could hump him better.

“Jesus...” Leonard whispered, thoroughly turned on by Jim's unbridled need. He'd meant to take his time, to be patient and cautious, but Jim had other ideas and Leonard was being swept away by Jim's enthusiasm.

Jim smiled that crooked, seductive smile of his, then he crashed his lips back on Leo's as he rolled his hips eagerly. Leonard moved in time with the young man, doing his best to provide him with a decent counterpoint. Jim kept on like this for a while, then he broke the kiss, breathing hard against Leonard's cheek. “Ah, fuck, Bones...” Jim panted, “I don't think I'm going to last long...” he added, looking a bit guilty.

Leonard held Jim's face with one hand while he pushed Jim's ass into him with the other. He could feel Jim's muscles hard at work, flexing as he ground his erection into Leo's bulging crotch. “Do it, Jim,” he encouraged, watching Jim's face as the young man worked himself closer to release.

Jim's body began to shake, a loud moan escaping his parted lips. Leonard watched as Jim came right inside his jeans, his seed soaking through the front. Leonard gently petted Jim cheek with the pad of his thumb as the young man came back to his senses. Jim's blue eyes opened, glazed over, and unfocused for a moment. Jim chuckled softly. “I made a mess in your jeans...” he huffed.

“I don't care about...” Leonard began, but Jim was undoing the button of Leo's black jeans and pulling the zipper down, rendering him silent. Within seconds, Leonard had Jim's hand wrapped around his cock, just holding him as it throbbed in his grasp.

“Jim...” he moaned. Leo hadn't been touched like this for a long time; Jim's hand squeezed his erection once, Bones groaning and his pelvis jerking as he tried to rock right into Jim's fist.

“What?” Jim asked innocently as he ran his thumb over the tip of Bones's cock, smearing the precum that leaked from the slit there, making Leonard groan again. Jim was clearly enjoying the fact that Leonard couldn't string two words together. “What were you saying?” he insisted playfully as he started to pump Bones' erection with the clear purpose of getting him off quickly. There was no attempt to make this last; just Jim's desire to see Leonard McCoy coming undone at his hand. Jim watched Leo's eyes roll back, loving the way the thick cock felt in his hand.

Leo arched into the touch, eyes closed, then he heard Jim talk again. “Fair's fair, Bones. I came for you. Now, come for me.”

Leonard willed his eyes open as Jim increased the speed of his movements. His hips stuttered and his balls tightened; he saw Jim's beautiful eyes looking back at him, filled with raw lust, and Leonard came, his cock twitching in Jim's hand, his hot cum spilling over Jim's fingers as the young man squeezed every last drop of pleasure out of him.

Leonard's body gave a last shudder he couldn't control, only then did Jim release his hold on his cock. There was a mix of satisfaction and awe on his young handsome features. Then something else came over Jim's face; Leo identified it as that 'up to no good' look Jim had exhibited before.

Jim brought his right hand up, turning it under his gaze for a second to observe it. It was covered in Bones' cum. Jim opened his mouth and shoved three fingers into his mouth, sucking the cum off them, then lapping the rest off hungrily. Jim hummed approvingly and licked his lips. “You taste good, Bones.” Leonard cursed under his breath and licked across Jim's sticky lips, and across his cum stained fingers, tasting himself as Jim kissed him back passionately.

After drifting drowsily for a while, Jim stirred to get up, but Bones stopped him with a hand pressed on his sternum. “Where are you going?” he asked, nuzzling into Jim's neck.

“I was going to get out of these jeans...”

“Hmm,” Leonard agreed, seeing the dark wet spot on the crotch of Jim's jeans. He helped Jim remove the uncomfortable pants. “Don't move,” Leo said, retreating to the bathroom. He came back with a warm washcloth and wiped Jim's groin, removing the cold remnants of his orgasm. Jim hummed at the warm, pleasantly rough texture of the wet terry cloth.

“You're spoiling me,” Jim commented.

Leonard shook his head. “It's not called 'spoiling' if you deserve it,” he said throwing the washcloth on the floor and wrapping Jim in a tight embrace, kissing Jim's forehead before the young man settled his face in the crook of Bones' neck.

Leonard McCoy pulled the sheet up over them, then he petted the short blond hair until Jim fell asleep. If anyone who'd hurt Jim came back for him, Leonard would put them out of their misery. Jim deserved to be treated with care, he deserved to be loved. Leonard's chest tightened at the thought. Was he even able to give Jim what he deserved?

**

“You wait, pretty boy. One day, soon, you'll beg me to fuck you. I know you'll enjoy it, because I can tell you're a slut. You won't be able to help yourself. Next thing you know, you'll be have those pretty lips of yours wrapped around my cock before and after I fuck you. There's nowhere to go and no one is coming for you. You'll break down, muchacho guapo. They always do.”

Nero laughed.

“Eres mio, pretty boy,” the man said, raising his arm to hit Jim one more time.

Jim woke up, his heart thumping in his chest, and ready to vomit. He looked around the room, glad to find his surroundings to still be run-of-the-mill motel décor rather than the opulent furnishings in which he'd been held captive for a month. He was even more glad when his eyes came to rest on the form of the man who was still sleeping next to him, oblivious to Jim's distress. Bones' mere presence was enough to calm Jim's frayed nerves. He breathed deeply in and out, then sneaked out of bed quietly so he could surprise Bones with breakfast and a cup of coffee.

After getting dressed, he headed to the store. They were going to leave today, right after lunch. It was going to be another beautiful day, and Jim wondered if they'd have time for one more excursion before they headed back to the city. This morning, he wasn't even sure he had really seen one of the gamblers at the barbecue. His memory was fuzzy, and he could not remember the man's exact features. Maybe he had imagined it all.

Jim bought a few pastries and coffee. As he was leaving, he saw Maria's sons sitting outside on the porch. Jim crouched next to oldest one - he must have been twelve years old - and asked him if he knew of a good place to visit. The boy mentioned the falls, but Jim asked if there was a secret place, a place where tourists didn't usually flock to. The boy's face lit up and he smiled as he nodded. He ran inside to swipe a tourist brochure and a pen. He explained there was an abandoned vacation resort close by. From what Jim gathered, the small town had been underwater for twenty-five years, leaving everything white washed and smelling musty. It was deemed unsafe, and was closed to the public, but it was easy to sneak inside. The kid drew a mark on the small map of the brochure, then handed it over to Jim.

Jim thanked the boy, who ran along to play with his brother. Jim stood up and stared at the X on the map with a growing feeling of dread. Could it be? He took two steps back, running into the wall. His head spun as he pictured the rooms where the gamblers had kept him; the high ceilings, the marble floors, the musty smell, the strange tall white tree outside the window.

“Fuck,” Jim whispered. He looked at the bag of food and the coffee in his hand and willed himself to walk to the room. Before Jim reached for the doorknob, he already knew what he would do.

**

Leonard heard the door close. He opened one eye and smelled coffee. There was a paper bag and a cup of coffee by the bed. He smiled and sat up. He hadn't slept this good in months. Like a rock. Dreamless, deep wonderful sleep. “Jim?” he called before taking a sip of coffee. He frowned when no answer came. The coffee was piping hot, Jim couldn't have been that far. Leo got up and peered through the slats of the blinds.

“What the...”

McCoy jumped into his pants and pulled on a T-shirt. His car keys weren't on the desk. Why had Jim taken the car without saying anything? He quickly slipped into his sneakers and ran to the store. He asked Maria and Vincente if they'd seen Jim. They confirmed Jim had bought pastries and coffee. Matias, their son, said something to his parents Leo didn't understand. After a little back and forth between them, Maria explained Jim had been given directions to Villa de Lago. Met with Leo's blank stare, Matias got another brochure from the rack and drew a map for him too. After explaining he had no car, Vincente offered to drive him.

Leonard accepted. He ran back to his room, lifting the mattress to retrieve his gun. It was gone. He cursed and kicked the bed in frustration.

On his way to Villa de Lago, Leo pressed Vincente for information about the resort, trying to sound merely curious rather than alarmed. Soon, Leonard had formed a theory and he didn't like it one bit. Jim had gone after the men who'd hurt him. Armed. And alone.

Chapter Text

Vincente turned into a gravel road and drove until they reached a gate. Leonard's car was parked by a rusty gate that was locked with a chain and a padlock. Large white signs hanging on the gate warned trespassers in bold red letters. Leonard's still empty stomach wrenched. A gravel road that led to a rusty gate, the faint noise of waves, the musty smell; this really was where Jim had been held when McCoy had stumbled upon him, weak, sick and rebellious even in his darkest hour.

Leo thanked Vincente and exited the vehicle. With a forced smile, he waved at the motel owner as the truck turned and went where it came from. The family man had no idea what was at stake here, and Leonard had no intention of involving him any further.

Leonard climbed the gate - the only place that wasn't topped with barbwire - and hit the ground running. There had been about fifteen to twenty minutes between the time McCoy heard the door close and the time he'd gotten in the truck with Vincente. He hoped he wasn't too late.

The gravel road bent sharply, turning into a sandy path that opened up on a beach. Leo jogged toward the middle of the shore, scanning the area for any movement or a clue to Jim's whereabouts. There were multiple foot prints and tire tracks in the sand, and Leo decided to follow the path that seemed used most, its deep grooves leading further into the center of the decaying small town.

The scenery was eerie; straight rows of bone-white dead trees still stood in the lake and on the land, their skeleton-like forms towering over white crumbling brick walls. Once inhabited buildings lay collapsed, their broken slabs of concrete like giant heaps of trash. Yet, the place was oddly beautiful and so alien that Leo felt transported to a strange new world.

The tracks led him to an arched entryway, in the part of town where the structures still stood. He flattened his back against the wall and listened. He heard nothing, so he crossed the arch and carefully looked around the corner. There was a blue pick-up truck parked there, right in front of a door with a wooden porch in front of it. This was the place. Leonard's blood was pumping so strongly he could feel it beat at his temples.

He crept around the truck and silently walked over the porch until he reached the door. The door was ajar; Leonard swallowed thickly and pushed it open, straining to hear something. For a long moment there was nothing, but suddenly he heard a male voice. It spoke in Spanish. Leonard wasn't sure what he was about to walk into. All he knew was that Jim might be in danger and there was no way in hell he'd leave him to his fate. He took a deep breath; his nerves steeled, just like they did before a surgery, when someone needed him to be level-headed and efficient. Leonard McCoy meant to go in there and make sure Jim Kirk was safe, no matter the price.

The voices Leo heard originated two rooms beyond the entrance. What he saw when he entered the room made both relief and apprehension wash through him. Jim stood in front of three men, his gun pointed at them. Jim had found the gamblers sleeping, sluggish and obviously hungover from yet another long night fueled by booze and cocaine. Jim seemed unhurt, but he was poised to take a life. Or three. McCoy knew he had to stop Jim.

He walked lightly into the room, raising his arms in surrender. “Jim...” he called quietly.

The three men and Jim were startled, but Jim quickly returned his gaze to his prisoners. “Bones?” Jim said, bewildered. “What... How did you find me?”

“I asked around,” Leo answered vaguely, reluctant to name anyone in front of those men. “I came because I didn't want you to be alone.” Leonard noticed that Jim's hands trembled; the longer Jim held the weapon, the worse it was going to get, and the worse his aim was going to be.

“We were going to leave today, you and I. What happened?” Leo asked, turning his back to the gamblers so he could look into Jim's eyes, the gun only inches away from his shoulder.

“I dream about these assholes every night. I see them when I close my eyes, I see them in the crowd.”

“No one is expecting you to be okay so quickly. You've been doing great, you just need more time,” Leo assured him.

Jim shook his head. “I may act like I'm okay, but I'm not, Bones. I like to think that the reason Nero let me go is because I beat him, you know, because I resisted. But that's not true.”

“It's true you resisted, Jim,” Leonard insisted.

Jim scoffed. “It didn't take long for me to think about giving in, Bones. Do you know how long it took me? Two times. After the second beating, I started to believe that maybe he would treat me well if I let him do what he wanted. See, the weird thing was he could be so nice and gentle. He always made sure I got everything I needed. I pictured it, how it would be like, what he would do to me, and it turned my stomach. But each time he beat me, the idea turned my stomach a little less. You know what, Bones? The truth is that I would have eventually begged him to fuck me. I know it. And he knew it. He knew I'd break. But he found someone else. That's the only reason why he let me go.”

“Jim...”

“I can't stop thinking about the other boy,” Jim continued. “There's a boy sleeping in my old room, having dinner with Nero and then getting beaten until he can't stand up. He's there, and I'm here. And there's nothing I can do about it. Nero's a fucking cartel guy, filthy rich and protected. I can't reach him. But these guys here... I can make sure they never hurt anyone else. I can stop them right now. Tell me why I shouldn't, Bones, because I can't think of one goddamn reason to let them live,” Jim pleaded.

“Only one reason, Jim. You,” Leonard answered.

“Me?”

“They're scum. I don't give a shit about them, and they probably deserve to die. But you, you're a good man, and you don't deserve to live with the guilt of killing them. Because no matter what, you will torture yourself over it. You're not like them.”

“And it's your vast experience as someone who saves lives for a living that helps you draw this conclusion I suppose,” Jim sneered.

It was Leonard's turn to scoff at Jim, who glanced at him quizzically. Leo's gut twisted into more painful knots as he readied to say out loud something he'd never told a living soul. “I know you'll regret even thinking about killing them. Because there isn't a day that goes by that I don't beat myself up for considering killing my father when he asked me to.”

Jim's stomach lurched, and he glanced at Leonard again, the gun still pointing at the men kneeling on the floor. “It's not the same, Bones. He was your father.”

“What do you think happens when bad men end up on my operating table? I struggle with it. Do I do everything I can to save this known murderer, or do I just do the bare minimum? Do I nick this artery here and see what happens?” Leonard recounted, his voice steady despite his desperation to bring Jim back from the brink. “Every time, I had to redefine what kind of man I was. What kind of man are you going to be, Jim? The man you've always wanted to be? The man Pike knows you can be? The man I know you are, or the man Nero made you into?”

Jim tightened his jaw and scrunched up his nose as tears welled in his eyes. His hands shook worse than before, because his resolve had just taken a hard blow. “What do you propose we do now?” he asked as the tears rolled down his cheeks.

The “we” Jim uttered made Leo's heart skip. He'd finally reached Jim somehow and he wasn't going to let go. “I'm going to get the gun from you,” he said, hopeful.

“But what about them?”

“Oh, don't worry. I'll aim at them while you secure them,” Leo assured him.

“Why don't you go and secure them now?”

“Well, I hope you don't mind me saying this, but your hands aren't as steady as mine, and you're making me a bit nervous right now,” Leonard said, injecting some humor in his tone.

Jim could see his own hands trembling; he'd tried to keep them from shaking, but it had proven impossible. He sucked in a breath and nodded slowly. “Okay, Bones.”

Leo approached slowly, then he replaced Jim's hand underneath the gun with his. He slipped his other hand around the handle, his fingertip on the trigger and the muzzle of the gun pointing right at the gamblers. Jim blinked as he took one step back, staring at the gun in Bones' hands. They were incredibly steady and unmoving. The men kneeling down didn't understand much English, but they could see that the man holding the gun now wasn't cut out of the same cloth as the blond one. The young man had been twitchy and obviously upset. The new guy was cool and collected, and somehow even more scary than the first.

“Now get over there and tie them up one by one,” Leo directed.

“I have an idea,” Jim said.

“I'm listening.”

“There's a cage in the back room where they kept me,” Jim pointed out. The corner of Leo's lip twitched up for a second, leaving Jim wondering if it had happened at all.

“I like it,” the doctor said. “We need to pat them down before putting them in there. Do you think you can manage it?”

Jim nodded curtly. He looked around, quickly locating a length of rope and walked toward the men. He looped it around their wrists, leaving them tied to each other. They weren't the most secure knots, but it would keep them from running away as they were moved to the cage.

Jim took a deep breath as nausea twisted his stomach. Touching these men made Jim's skin crawl, but Bones was counting on him, so he checked them for weapons. He found a knife in one of the men's boot, three sets of keys and two cell phones in their back pockets. When Jim was finished, he returned to Bones' side.

“Okay. Let's move them,” Leo whispered to Jim. “Okay, assholes. You're going inside the cage. One false move and I'll fucking shoot you, understand?” McCoy threatened in a tone that made even Jim want to comply. He had no idea his kind understanding Bones could be so authoritative and menacing. The prisoners looked at him blankly.

“Un movimiento en falso y él pondrá una bala en les el culo,” Jim helpfully translated, adding his own little flourish.

Leonard raised an eyebrow at Jim's fluent Spanish, but kept his eyes trained on the gamblers. “Nice,” he commented with a smirk and heat in his gaze. Jim smirked back, thoroughly surprised by Leo's flirting in such an absurdly dangerous situation. Leonard's presence was soothing his frayed nerves, and Jim wondered what kind of hell he'd be in now without the doctor's intervention; hell, Jim was starting to wonder if he'd be able to cope at all without Bones around.

For whatever reason, the men were still on their knees. Leo fired a warning shot, sending concrete chips and dust flying in front of them. The gamblers squeezed their eyes shut, recoiling in fear. “Move!” Leo bellowed.

“Hacerlo!” Jim barked. All three men jumped up, moving in a line to the room where Jim had been held the night Bones had found him. There was indeed a holding cell in the corner. There was a thin dirty mattress on the floor, and a bucket against the wall; that was all.

Jim fiddled with the key sets he'd found, finding the key that locked the cage. Once they were locked in, Leonard put away the gun and pulled out his phone to snap a picture of the gamblers.

“Let's go,” he told Jim.

Once the door was closed, Leo headed to the small table. He crushed a bag filled with crack rocks under his foot and sprinkled the powdered contents on the floor, then he collected the phones and a small black book filled with columns of notations he didn't understand. He exhaled loudly and looked at Jim. “We're going to get our things from the motel, then we'll drive to the city.”

“What about them?” Jim asked.

Leonard threw a couple of cellphones at Jim for him to carry. “I'm guessing their cop friend will come looking for them. Eventually. If not, well... Out of our hands,” he said with a shrug. Leo grabbed a large bottle of water before heading out.

Once outside, Leo stopped by the truck and unscrewed the gas cap. He poured the whole bottle into the gas tank, then lifted the hood. He disconnected the cords from the distributor cap, ripping them out before closing the hood again. Jim followed Bones out onto the beach and watched as he threw the cords out of view into a pile of concrete.

“If I didn't know any better, I'd say you have a bad streak in you, Bones.”

Leonard shrugged and gave Jim an innocent look. Jim tried to hold back his smirk, but he couldn't. He should have known Bones would be this awesome. The man dealt with life and death situations for a living, he was here dealing with criminals looking for a girl he didn't know, just because he felt it was the right thing to do. Bones wasn't a killer, but he wasn't an angel either.

**

Once in the car, Jim tried to apologize, but Bones wasn't having any of it.

“I understand why you did it, Jim. I'm just glad you didn't cross that line,” Leo maintained. He was more worried about Jim forgiving himself. He didn't care how justified Jim's actions were, he knew first hand that guilt might find its way into Jim's heart.

Jim stared at the yellow lines disappearing under the hood of the car as they put distance between them and Villa de Lago. He stayed silent for a while, deep in thought. “I understand why you considered doing what your father asked,” he said.

Leonard didn't say anything. He simply reached over for Jim's hand and laced his fingers with his as he raced toward the motel.

**

They threw all their belongings into the car and drove off within minutes from pulling into the motel's parking lot. As much as they wanted to, they didn't say goodbye to Maria and Vincente, afraid to involve them in any way. They left their room keys on the bed with a note written by Jim, thanking them for being such welcoming hosts.

Leonard and Jim didn't dare relax until they were miles away. As the tension slowly seeped out of their bodies and minds, they allowed themselves to think that yes, maybe they would make it back safely.

**

When they were close enough to Buenos Aires to get - thank the fucking gods - a good cellphone signal, Jim had been in charge of picking a hotel for them, preferably close to the U.S. embassy. Jim chose a four-star hotel to which Bones agreed without protest. Money be damed, if Jim wanted a few nights in luxury, then he would get them. Leonard already knew he was nearly unable to refuse Jim anything.

As soon as they made it into the room, Jim called Pike despite the hour. It turned out Pike had already warned the Embassy that his godson was on his way to get his papers so he could return home.

Jim gave Leo his phone back. His shoulders slumping and his limbs felling like lead out of sheer exhaustion. Bones asked about the call, so Jim explained they were expected at the Embassy tomorrow; they only needed to ask for someone called Uhura.

**

Jim collapsed on the mattress. “Oh god, this bed is amazing,” he groaned, stretching and twisting to crack the kinks in his back. Leo sat at the end of the mattress, bouncing on it. The thing was like a fluffy cloud and he hummed in agreement before removing his socks and shoes, letting them fall carelessly, the thick carpet muffling the noise they made. He leaned back too, the top of his head touching the side of Jim's. The small area of contact sent a flash of heat through Leonard despite the fatigue.

“M' tired,” Jim mumbled. Leo smiled; Jim sounded like a little boy when he was tired and it was adorable.

“Me too,” Leo told him. Shit, he could fall asleep right here, like this. He willed himself back up anyway. He pulled his shirt off, throwing it on the back of a chair, then took his pants off, keeping his underwear on. Jim twitched awake when he felt Leonard tugging at his shoes. Jim groaned and undid the button of his own jeans. Apparently that was all the help he was going to provide Bones with, because his arms refused to work properly. The muscles of his arms and shoulders were sore from holding the gun.

“Let me help you,” Leo said unsure if Jim had heard him or not. He pulled Jim's pants off him. “Do you want your shirt off?”

“I dunno, Bones. Do you want my shirt off?” Jim mumbled, opening one eye. Leonard laughed quietly at Jim's half-asleep attempt at flirting. Adorable indeed. He pulled up the hem of the shirt and Jim raised his arms to facilitate the process.

Leo walked around to the other side of the bed, throwing the soft sheets and thick duvet open. He plumped Jim's pillow. “Come up here, Jim. Down pillow waiting for you,” he singsonged. Jim huffed and stayed put. “Warm bodied doctor hoping to spoon waiting for you,” Leo tried.

This time, Jim's head shot up and Jim rolled over to his spot blindly. “Now, you're talking,” he said with his eyes closed as he laid his head on the pillow. Leonard smiled and scooted closer to Jim, pressing his chest to the young man's back and draping his arm around his middle. Soon, Jim's breathing evened and Leo fell asleep listening to it.

**

It was the middle of the night when Leonard woke up, shifting on the mattress. Jim was curled against him, the young man snuffling as the movement roused him. Leonard couldn't help being surprised. Jim had been a very light sleeper the whole time he had known him - and with good reasons. But right now, Jim was still asleep despite Leo's slipping out of bed. He wondered what would happen to Jim once they separated. Because this was... what had Jim called it? A vacation fling? Leonard made his way to the bathroom and shut the door so he wouldn't disturb Jim as he took a shower.

Jim woke, the faint noise of the shower slowly bringing him out of his deep sleep. He stretched on the bed, realizing that Bones wasn't next to him. He obviously was in the shower. They'd fallen asleep when some of the sunlight was still filtering in through the blinds, but now the room was dark, save for the thin crack of light escaping from under the bathroom door.

Jim started to feel a touch of panic. At the motel, Bones had always left the lamp on for Jim in case he woke up in the middle of the night, so he would know where he was. The darkness and the loneliness oppressed him, reminding him of his captivity. His heart started beating hard in his chest. He quickly jumped out of bed and headed toward the bathroom and turned the knob. He was glad to find the door unlocked. He fought his anxiety, and knocked anyway.

“Bones?” he called out.

“Dammit, I woke you up, didn't I? Sorry,” Leo said from inside.

The mere sound of Leonard's voice helped calm Jim down a bit. “No, it's fine. I needed to use the bathroom anyway,” Jim half-lied, unsure why. Something inside Jim kept him from admitting just how much he relied on Bones' physical presence to feel safe. “Can I come in?”

“Yeah, sure,” Leonard allowed through the door.

Jim stepped in, regaining his center as the light flooded his senses. He did use the toilet and flushed it, then he washed his hands before standing around, wondering what he should do next. Truthfully, he didn't want to leave the room. He wasn't willing to face the dark again, didn't want to step away from Bones' comforting presence. How weird would it be if he stayed here until Bones was done? Of course, there was another possibility...

“Hey, eh... Can I jump in with you?” Jim asked tentatively, biting his bottom lip nervously as he waited for a reply.

There was a prolonged silence during which Leonard's stomach filled with heat at the thought of Jim's wet naked body against him. Jim read the pause as hesitation on Bones' part, when in fact the doctor was rather thrilled by the offer.

“You could take a look at my back,” Jim added, hoping to appeal to the caretaker in Bones.

Leonard smiled at the words; Jim Kirk knew what to say to get what he wanted. “Alright. Hop in,” he agreed, trying to play it cool when in fact his pulse was racing and his gut burning hot with excitement.

Jim slipped out of his underwear, took a deep breath and slowly pulled the curtain open. Leonard was standing under the spray of hot water, gloriously naked, fingers working a lather into his wet hair. Jim's cheeks visibly flushed as he took a moment to admire the view; the water splashed over Bones' tanned skin and hard muscles, dripping down his tight stomach and over his groin where dark hair surrounded Bones' soft member, then down his thighs, all the way to his feet.

“Well?” Leo asked with a smirk. He hadn't missed Jim's examination of him. “Do I pass the test?”

“Uh?” Jim asked, tearing his eyes away from Bones' chest to look at his face.

“You're checking me out. Do I pass the test?” Leo insisted.

Jim turned a deeper shade of red. “You graduated a while ago,” he answered. He stepped into the tub, Leo giving Jim enough space to get under the water.

The water hit Jim's bare back, the hot water relieving some of the itch the injuries had started to cause as they healed. Jim let his head fall back, wetting his hair as Leo watched, already half-hard in anticipation. Jim opened his eyes, catching Bone leering at him, with his hair still covered in foam. Jim shifted to allow Bones to rinse his hair, and Leo passed right by him. There was about an inch between them as they orbited each other, both of them breathing harder as arousal made more blood rush to their groins. They'd never been completely naked in front of each other; neither man had ever felt the other man's bare skin pressing along the whole length of his body, and even though they both craved to do so, for now, they were happy with doing this little dance that teased and aroused them both more with every passing second.

Leonard tilted his head back to rinse out the shampoo, closing his eyes to keep the foam from dripping into them. He felt Jim's hand on his chest. The young man had gotten soap from the dispenser and he was now rubbing circles over Leo's chest. Their eyes met. Jim smirked, spreading soap around Leonard's neck and shoulders too.

Leonard leaned back, the water rinsing the soap as Jim got more. He used both hands to clean both of Leonard's arms, then his stomach, slick fingers sliding over Leo's slick skin. Jim's hands were soft, and from the gentle way in which he was touching him, he was more interested in feeling up Leo's body than to really clean him.

“You know, I already washed up,” Leonard admitted as Jim crouched to wash his legs. Jim continued working until he was finished with the feet. He let his fingers drag along the side of Bones' thighs as he stood up.

“Are you sure you washed everywhere?” Jim asked with a devious smirk, as he rubbed his thumbs over the crest of Bones' hips.

“Pretty sure,” Leonard whispered, looking into Jim's eyes and noticing how dark they'd become.

Jim let one hand slip beyond Bones' hip, over his ass cheek. “Here?”

“Yeah,” Leo breathed as his cock throbbed.

“And here?” Jim murmured, dipping his finger down Bones' cleft.

Leonard shivered, unable to answer right away. He swallowed hard. “Yes,” he answered, in a barely audible whisper. Jim just ran his finger up and down between Leonard's ass cheeks, enjoying the way Bones' face flushed under the touch.

“That's alright. I might feel like kissing you there later on,” Jim whispered near Bones' cheek, the tip of his nose bumping into it. Arousal flowed through Leo's entire body at the thought of Jim kissing him there, and a soft growl escaped his lips before he could stop it.

The young man slipped his finger out to get more soap. He rubbed the foam over Leonard's entire ass, his other hand working some lather into the other man's dark pubic hair. Jim's heart thumped in his chest as Jim delicately washed Bones' sack too, before curling his soapy fingers around Leonard's length. Leo groaned and arched his body, following Jim's lead. The kid seemed intent on taking his sweet time right now, and that was more than fine with Leonard.

He had yet to put his hands on Jim; they had yet to close the short distance between them to press skin against skin. The wait was driving Leo wild with desire, yet he was in no hurry to bring this to a close. With Jim, the desire-filled wait was almost as intense as reaching release, and getting there was most of the fun.

“I'm definitely planning on kissing you here,” Jim said, glancing down at his hand as it slowly pumped Bones' now rock hard cock. Leo hummed at the idea of Jim's lush lips wrapped around his cock. Fuck.

Jim let go, gently coaxing Leo back under the shower and urging him to pivot under the spray to get rid of the soap. Bones ducked his head under the water once more, then he turned around and opened his eyes, finding Jim already on his knees, in the tub, smirking up at Leonard.

“Jim,” Leonard said. “Get up, please.”

“What Bones? You don't want me to?” Jim asked, half his smirk slipping away.

Leonard chuckled, Jim tilting his head at him in confusion. Leo reached down and cupped Jim's cheek with one hand. “Want it? How can I not?” Leo asked, his features going serious all of a sudden as he looked down into Jim's beautiful eyes. Good god Jim was stunning. He wanted to feel Jim's mouth on him. Badly. But Leonard ignored his impulses. “Let me check on your back first. Otherwise, I might forget,” he told Jim, who got back up grumbling a faint 'okay'.

They shifted again; Jim got the spot closest to the shower and Leo examined Jim's back before gently cleaning it with some soap. He licked water drops on Jim's shoulder before giving Jim's neck and shoulders a short massage. The kid sighed as the knots in his muscles were kneaded loose. Afterward, Leo also washed Jim's legs and feet. He took a moment to knead Jim's round butt, breathing in the kid's ear as he also ran a soapy finger down Jim's ass crack. He stepped closer and pressed his erection to Jim's ass as he reached around Jim, finding his cock as hard as his own. Jim moaned and pressed back into Leo before turning around.

Leo's hands naturally slipped to Jim's ass, just as easily as his lips found Jim's. Despite his best efforts, Leonard could not keep the kiss from getting heated fast. What had started as a gentle press of their lips quickly turned into messy slides of wet tongues and enthusiastic nips of teeth, punctuated by Jim's sexy whimpers, soft moans and breaths.

Leo pulled back. “We should get out of here,” he whispered breathlessly.

“Why?” Jim asked, eyes barely open, chasing after Bones's mouth.

Leonard stayed just out of reach. “Remember that comfy bed?” Leo asked, raising an eyebrow. Jim smiled and turned the water off without asking for anymore explanations. The drying was a quick, half-hearted business during which both men smirked and leered at each other more than wiped water off with their towels. They soon found themselves out of the bathroom, shivering a bit, still partially wet.

As soon as they reached the end of the bed, Jim pushed at Leo, forcing him to lay on the bed as he fell to his knees right in front of him. It was quite a sight, Jim Kirk on his knees, but this wasn't how Leonard wanted tonight to go. He remembered the hurry and intensity of the other night with Jim. It had been a rush and he hadn't been able to resist being swept away by Jim's enthusiasm, but tonight, he wanted to keep the proceedings slow.

Leo straightened right back up. “Jim,” he murmured as the young man crawled closer and nuzzled his cheek inside Leo's knee. “Jim,” Leonard called more firmly. Jim looked up, his blue eyes glazed over by lust. Leo reached for Jim's wrist and pulled him off the floor, gently but soundly.

Jim's eyebrows dipped into a small frown. Why was Bones interrupting him as he got ready to give what he hoped to be a mind-shattering blow job? Even though Bones' face was serious, there was heat in his eyes; so what was wrong? He let Bones pull him unto the bed, next to him. Jim opened his mouth to ask what he was doing, but he was silenced with a searing kiss that made him forget what he wanted to say.

Bones cradled Jim, laying him down on the mattress and pressing the whole length of his body against Jim's, their legs intertwining. Bones' kisses were soft, slow and deep; his splayed hands traveled down his sides, then very gingerly over his back, then down to feel the curve of Jim's ass. Jim felt his need to hurry recede and relaxed under Bones' caresses.

Leo pulled back and looked at Jim, whose eyes were dark and his lips redder from kissing. “There's no rush. We have all night,” Leo said. Jim gave him a minute nod of understanding, and Leonard dove into Jim's neck, licking and tasting the clean skin, working his way ever lower as he kept sliding his hands over every inch of skin he could reach. Jim closed his eyes and gave himself over to the touches, surrendering to Bones' careful exploration of his body. Leonard felt Jim melt against him; the young man's hands stopped their groping, switching to rubbing small circles over the same patch of skin on his lower back. Pleased, Leonard shifted, pressing his groin to Jim's languorously.

Leonard found Jim's nipples, sucking them both into hard peaks before nibbling at them. Jim let out soft whimpers that made Leo's abdomen flutter, and he continued teasing Jim's nipples with gentle bites before licking down Jim's chest.

Jim had been lost in the warmth of Bones' body, in his masterful touches, feeling cared for and wanted. Safe. Then Bones shifted on the bed, his body moving away, leaving Jim feeling cold, but his soft lips still connecting to the skin of his belly. Jim opened his eyes, finding the older man rearranging his body along Jim's, with his head toward Jim's feet. Jim saw Leonard's hard cock bob in front of his face, then he felt Bones nuzzle into his crotch. Jim moaned and rocked his hips, pressing his hard-on to Leo's cheek as he got a hold of Leo's hip. So not only Jim would be allowed to give Bones that blow job, it looked like Bones was planning on returning the favor. Leonard felt Jim's cock twitch against his face.

“I like the way you think,” Jim said as he scooted a little closer.

“I was hoping you would,” Leo replied, his voice thick with arousal. He groaned and tried to keep his hips from jerking when Jim ran a fingertip up along his erection. Jim traced the veins of Bones' thick cock, then the edge of its glans, enjoying the way it jumped under the feather-like strokes. He licked his lips and readied to mouth the side of the shaft; Bones beat him to it, the older man flicking his tongue across Jim's cock head first.

For a moment, Jim forgot what he had meant to do; all he could do was feel Bones' warm, wet tongue now gliding over his cock, then his lips slipping over his glans, enveloping him with delicious heat.

Jim found his concentration evenly split between giving and receiving pleasure. Numerous times, he had to shake himself out of a trance as Bones' mouth slid over his cock deliciously, stealing all of his attention, so he could give as good as he got. The resulting contrasting sensations of pulling and tugging prolonged Jim's enjoyment, until his jaw started to feel sore.

Leonard let Jim's cock slip out from between his lips and stuck two fingers into his mouth, generously covering them with saliva. He pried Jim's thighs apart and slipped the digits up along Jim's perineum until he found Jim's small puckered hole. Leonard wasn't sure if Jim would appreciate the touch. He had no intention of pushing Jim too far, and he waited, gently rubbing the area around Jim's anus.

Not only Jim didn't mind, he loved it. He moaned around Bones' cock, before pulling back. “Watch it, Bones. If you keep doing that, I'm going to lose it,” Jim warned. The words only spurred Leo on; he took Jim back into his mouth and sucked him deep as he kept teasing Jim's asshole. The sounds Jim made, even muffled by Leo's cock, were sinful.

Jim felt his orgasm approach. Bones was sucking even harder now, but his touch on his asshole was still gentle and controlled. Jim wished it wasn't. He wished to feel the digits push into him, force him open, causing that spark of pain mixed with pleasure he'd always enjoyed so. He would have begged Bones to do so if he didn't have his mouth full of cock. Fuck. He wanted it so badly, Bones' long fingers fucking him. Jim increased the suction, causing the older man to moan too. Leonard lost some of the cool he'd been able to maintain throughout, the tip of his fingers nudging at Jim's tiny opening more roughly than he'd intended.

The fingers didn't penetrate him, but the sudden pressure was enough to trigger Jim's orgasm. He went rigid as dizzying waves of pleasure made him forget where he was, and his cock sent load after load of cum down Bones' throat. As soon as Jim regained his focus, he shifted, his cock slipping out of Bones' lips, spent but somehow still half-hard. He rolled Leo unto his back, seized Bones' cock by the root and swallowed it until he gagged. Leonard's hips jerked as he looked down, catching Jim's glazed over blue eyes staring up at him, his pink lips stretched around his throbbing erection. Fuck. So pretty. Leo licked his lips, tasting more of Jim's cum on them and he hummed contentedly, reaching down to pet Jim's hair. Jim started bobbing up and down with urgency, hollowing his cheeks and sucking hard. Jim already knew how good Bones tasted and he wanted more. He wanted to feel the other man's seed flood his mouth and then he wanted to swallow every drop.

Leonard was quickly sent spiraling down. He grasped a handful of short blond hair as his cock pulsated against Jim's soft warm tongue, his cheeks, and his palate. Jim swallowed eagerly, humming appreciatively as he kept sucking and savored the other man's cum on his tongue.

Jim laid limp, sated and relaxed, as a dazed Leonard turned around on the bed so he could crawl closer to him. Leo kissed Jim's chest and throat, then his plush lips still sticky with his own cum. Jim slipped his hand behind Leonard's head to pull him closer, his tongue delving between the doctor's lips as Leonard wrapped his arm around Jim's shoulders. After a long while, the kiss ended, their damp chests and stomachs still pressed against each other. Jim sighed at the feeling of peace; something he wasn't familiar with. At least, not lately.

Leonard held Jim tightly, still torn by how easy and natural sex was with Jim, and how risky it was to engage in these intimate exchanges with the young man. Despite all the blows it had received, Jim's inner spirit still burned so bright, Leo was utterly blinded. Becoming attached, allowing himself to fall for Jim would surely prove to be a mistake.

Jim breathed Bones' clean scent deeply, his nose buried in the older man's neck. He knew he shouldn't get attached so quickly, just as he shouldn't have trusted Bones so easily. But he couldn't help it. Leonard McCoy was an anomaly in Jim's life. Sure, Christopher Pike had Jim's trust; but there were still plenty of secrets between him and his godfather, whereas Jim was ready to bare his soul to this man he'd met only days ago. Jim knew he shouldn't. But he did anyway. Because the alternative was too painful to consider just yet.

Chapter Text

The next day, Jim and Leonard visited the U.S. Embassy as planned. They found out that Uhura was actually Ms. Uhura, a recently hired official; so recent, in fact, that her name wasn't even on her door yet. Jim and Leonard were shown into her office, where boxes were still waiting to be unpacked. An attractive young woman dressed in a sharp red suit with gold accents was placing books on a shelf lined with dictionaries in various languages - one for every country she's worked in.

“Mr. Kirk is here, Ms. Uhura,” the secretary announced.

“Ah, yes. Thank you,” Uhura said, turning around, her impeccable long pony tail swaying behind her as she walked toward them, extending a hand to each man in turn. “Mr. Kirk. Dr. McCoy.”

“Uhura. That's a pretty name; is there a first name that goes with it?” Jim asked with a waggle of eyebrows that made Leonard roll his eyes.

“I hardly think it concerns the matter at hand, Mr. Kirk,” she replied smoothly, unruffled by Jim's flirtatious manner. “You must have friends in high places,” she told him pleasantly as she walked to her chair.

“I'm sorry... what makes you say that?” Jim inquired, confused. Beside Pike, who was a San Francisco Police Captain, Jim's so-called friends were in rather low places.

“Well, as you can see, I'm still unpacking. I wasn't supposed to start until Monday. But my boss insisted that I sort this out as soon as possible, which means I spent the last two days working on your case rather than getting settled,” she explained. If being forced to work early upset her, it didn't show on her face or in her tone of voice. “I have been in contact with Captain Pike, and all that is left to do is fill and sign a few forms. We can have your passport ready by tomorrow.”

“Wow, I...” Jim stammered. “Thank you. I really appreciate it,” he finally said.

“You're welcome,” she said, opening a file and pulling sheets from it before placing them in front of Jim for him to fill out. She explained what each form was for, double checking every detail was in order before Jim dated and signed them. When she read Jim's middle name out loud, both of Leonard's eyebrows climbed high on his forehead.

Tiberius?” Leo asked.

“My paternal grandfather's name,” Jim explained. “It's not like Horatio's any better...”

Leo tilted his head and pouted slightly. Of course, the tidbit hadn't gone unnoticed when Jim had checked his passport out. “I guess you're right.” he conceded. Jim chuckled.

They went over how Jim had lost his papers. He had already decided not to mention Nero, or that he'd been held prisoner for a month. Not only did Jim believe that making an official statement would bear no result, it might actually get back to Nero through his police connection and bring Jim trouble he wanted to avoid. Instead, he recited a story he'd rehearsed in his head. He'd been attacked outside a bar and mugged. The story was believable, especially considering the fading bruises and cuts on Jim's face. She asked if Jim wanted to file a report with the local police, but Jim shrugged. He hadn't seen who had done it and he wasn't even able to tell them the name of the bar he'd been in. He doubted a report would be of any use to anyone. Uhura seemed to ponder this for a moment before moving on to the next form. Jim exhaled through his nose and looked at Bones, who nodded at Jim. He respected Jim's decision; it was difficult to know how corrupt the authorities were.

Just as Jim was signing the last form, Uhura's intercom rung. “Ms. Uhura, sorry to disturb you, but you wanted to be told when your fiancé arrived,” the secretary announced through the speaker phone.

“Ah, yes. Thank you. We're almost done here. Please, ask him to wait,” she said before returning her attention to Jim and Leonard. “There's only one more step: getting your passport pictures taken. There's a photographer on the lower level. Just bring them back up here and leave them with my secretary, Lucy. Your documents should be ready just after lunch tomorrow,” she explained.

She wrote her phone number and email address on a pad of paper. “I don't even have a business card yet, so here,” she said, handing it over to them. Jim practically snatched it out of her hand, gazing at the digits with relish, as if he had just convinced a girl to give him her number.

Leonard huffed and tried to pluck the paper from his hand. “You don't even have a phone, kid,” he grumbled. Jim kept the paper just out of Bones' reach, grinning cheekily. Leonard rolled his eyes and gave up. “Alright. Thank you, Ms. Uhura. We'll get out of your hair then,” Leonard said, rising from his chair. Jim imitated him, stuffing the paper in his pocket.

“About to get married, uh?” Jim asked Uhura. “That's too bad,” he quipped.

“Bad for you. Great for me,” she replied through a smirk, accompanying them to the door. On the other side, a tall pale man with jet black hair and intense dark eyes rose from his seat to meet Uhura.

“You're the lucky man?” Jim greeted him.

The man cocked his head, as if trying to understand the blond man's reference. Uhura hooked her arm to Spock's and smiled at him. “I suppose one could say there was some luck involved, yes,” the man said neutrally.

“This is Mr. Kirk and Dr. McCoy. This is Spock,” she introduced as the men shook hands politely.

“Spock and Uhura. No first names? You're obviously perfect for each other,” Jim said, Leonard grabbing him by the elbow and pulling him away. “Thank you,” Jim added with a small wave as Spock looked at him with a dramatically arched eyebrow.

Uhura shook her head with a smile. Jim Kirk wasn't at all what she had expected. He seemed like an overgrown kid, but the people who had intervened in his favor were big shots, and obviously wanted to have him back as soon as possible. Her curiosity was piqued; maybe there was more to this young man than met the eye, but she would probably never find out.

**

After informing Pike of the latest news, Jim went to pick up some money his godfather had wired him. They took some time visiting the area around the Embassy, spending quite some time in the Japanese Garden. The beautiful scenery brought Jim some calm after the Embassy's highly formal atmosphere. There had been a tense moment when Jim had thought Uhura was doubting his mugging story, but she hadn't insisted and had moved on. It probably had all been in Jim's head. Jim had tried to deflect his nervousness with playful flirting, and he wondered what Bones thought of it. He most likely thought Jim flirted with anybody, and that bothered Jim a bit. He wanted to explain, but not now.

They were sitting on a bench admiring the scenery and enjoying the sun, and Leo offered to get some refreshments from the nearby kiosk. When he sat back next to Jim and offered him his lemonade, Jim looked at Leo with a frown, his blue eyes filled with panic as he tried to keep his breathing under control.

“Jim? What's wrong?”

“Shhh. I think one of them is here,” Jim whispered.

Shit. “The gamblers or Nero's men?”

“Nero's,” Jim answered, his voice cracking. “I think.”

“I want you to keep breathing, Jim. You're doing great. Focus on me,” McCoy said. “He won't do anything here, not out in public,” he assured Jim. The young man took a few deep breaths. “Where is he? What does he look like?” Leonard pressed him.

“Sitting by the small stone pagoda. Wearing a suit,” Jim answered.

Leonard turned as he sipped his drink, laying his arm across the back of the bench. He rubbed his fingertips over Jim's spine, the contact easing some of Jim's tension. “He doesn't look like a tourist,” McCoy observed.

“That's the first thing I noticed. He stood out. Then, I realized he looked familiar,” Jim exhaled loudly and took a sip of his lemonade, following Bones' lead in acting nonchalant. Jim had never been the type to lose his cool, or to panic in the presence of danger. Hell, he relished a good rush of adrenaline, but this was different. What if Nero had heard he was still around and wanted to have him back? The mere thought made him want to throw up.

“As soon as another herd of tourists on an organized tour walks by, we'll join them,” Leonard announced. “We'll see if he follows, and it might give us a chance to sneak out if he does.” Leo pressed his palm over Jim's back, his thumb brushing over the bare skin behind his neck. They looked at each other, and the determination in Bones' eyes gave Jim some courage; he rolled his shoulders and pushed the fear away as best he could.

By the time they'd reached the other side of the pond under the cover of a group of Americans, Leonard was ninety percent sure the man in a suit was following them. There was always the tiniest probability that it was just a coincidence, but Leo wasn't about to take any chances. Should he find the garden's security guards? But then what? They weren't armed, and if they even believed Jim and Leo's story, what else could they do but call the police? Was Leo willing to contact the police over this? What if they were in Nero's pocket and just handed them over to the man that followed them? They could simply run and hope for the best, but maybe more enemies lurked about ready to pounce in the way. Leo had no means to protect Jim. Fuck.

Leo figured that they should let the man think they hadn't noticed him and should act like the couple of tourists they were supposed to be. He and Jim gave the impression to be looking at the next place they would visit, examining the map right by the gate, pointing here and there at the landmarks close by. Jim was unusually quiet, and his face was pale as he tried hard to keep his composure.

Leonard made him look into his eyes. “Jim. I won't let anything happen to you,” he whispered, voice and gaze steady enough for the both of them.

Jim swallowed hard, staring into Bones' eyes, bright green and gold in the sunlight. This was wrong; Bones shouldn't have to risk his life because of him. “It's me they want. Maybe they'd let you go if I gave myself...”

“Dammit, Jim!” Leo barked, drawing the attention of the people around them. He breathed in and out before continuing, his anger barely contained. “You're not going back to them. You're staying with me. We're going to make it together. I'd rather die than see you taken back. Got it?” he said tightly, hazel eyes flashing.

“Yes. Got it,” Jim mumbled, stuffing his hands in his pockets, thoroughly scolded.

“Good,” Leo snapped. He exhaled and rolled his shoulders. He was angry at Jim for considering giving himself up, even if it was to insure Leonard's safety. Now, he was worried Jim would run away again, right into the arms of these creeps. In a way he was surprised by Jim's offer. He'd have to keep a close eye on him.

“Bones?” Jim called, staring at the paper he'd found crumpled in his pocket. He showed it to Leo who raised an eyebrow at it. Bringing in Uhura could be risky, but they were out of options. Leonard pulled out his phone and dialed her number.

“Ms. Uhura? It's Leonard McCoy,” he said. “We're in a bit of a bind and I didn't know who else to call.”

“What kind of a bind? Can I help?”

“I hope so. We're at the Japanese Garden and we need to get away quickly. And then we need a place to stay, until tomorrow.”

“Why?”

“Look, I'll explain later. Can you pick us up?”

“Are you and Jim in danger?”

“I'm afraid so.”

“Should I call the police?”

“No. Please. I don't think they'd help us. I swear we didn't do anything wrong.”

There was a long pause. “Alright, be on the lookout for a blue Mini Hatch by the main gate. Ten to fifteen minutes.”

“Thank you, Ms. Uhura, we're in your debt.”

“I will need an explanation, Dr. McCoy.”

“I understand.”

Nyota Uhura hung up and looked at Spock, who had stopped pulling out books out of a box. The expression on her face made him frown. “Nyota? What is it?”

She got up and grabbed her purse. “We're going for a ride,” she announced.

**

Leo saw Uhura's red suit first, and the small blue car second. He whispered in Jim's ear, telling him not to look yet. Leo sneaked another furtive look at the suspicious man in the suit, to gauge how far he was. Their gazes crossed. Dammit. He knew.

“Now!” McCoy yelled, grabbing Jim's arm and breaking into a run, the mysterious man giving pursuit. Uhura was shielding her eyes from the sun, scanning the entrance of the Japanese Garden for the two American citizens. When she saw McCoy and Kirk run toward her chased by a stranger, she pushed the back seat open for them to get in.

Leo made it there first, and he practically dove into the back seat. Jim looked back, just as the gangster pulled a gun from his waistband. Jim draped himself over Uhura to protect her. “Get in! He's got a gun!” She scrambled in, Jim ending up in the front with Spock, who peeled off before Jim had a chance to shut the door.

“Dammit! He's got a ride!” Leonard warned them, craning his neck. “Black SUV. Faster!” Leo urged Spock.

“There is a speed limit, Doctor McCoy,” Spock said.

“They're trying to kill us! Would you rather get a speeding ticket or a bullet between the eyes?” Leonard growled. Spock raised an eyebrow at the doctor in the rear view mirror. He pressed the gas pedal a little more and went as fast as he dared in the dense Buenos Aires traffic.

“They're closing in fast. Three cars behind us!” Uhura cried, eyes glued to the road behind them.

Jim looked back, searching for the vehicle. It was one of those ridiculously large SUV, a black Cadillac Escalade. He turned around, looking for a way out of this mess. The road was filled with cars, the sidewalks teemed with people. Then Jim saw it. “Alright, there! There! We can lose them there!” Jim exclaimed pointing at an alleyway to the left.

“If you are suggesting we utilize the passage between the approaching structures, the car will not fit,” Spock disagreed.

“We'll fit,” Jim retorted.

“Mr. Kirk, we will not fit,” Spock reiterated.

“We'll fit. We'll fit!” Jim insisted with conviction. He knew they would. They had to.

Spock suddenly changed lanes, and drove right into the alley.

Jim grunted through his teeth as Uhura screamed and Leo swore. The Mini went through the narrow passage, the brick walls scraping both side view mirrors as they went. A man carrying grocery bags scrambled into a doorway to avoid them as he screamed insults in Spanish. They emerged at the other end, Spock having to cut off someone to slip back into the traffic. Jim groaned with relief. They were all breathing heavily after holding their breath; everyone but Spock, who still seemed as collected as when they'd met him at the Embassy.

“I told you we'd fit,” Jim quipped.

“I am not sure that qualifies,” Spock rejoined.

“Any sign of them?” Jim asked Uhura and Leonard.

“No. Which worries me,” Uhura told him. She'd have much preferred having seen the Cadillac get stuck in the alley.

“We lost them,” Jim said, praying he was right.

“Or they're going around the block to catch us at the next traffic light,” Uhura countered.

“Or, we lost them,” Jim repeated, because all he could do right now was believe with all his heart that they'd escaped from the clutch of Nero's men.

“Take a left,” Uhura said.

“But that'll take us the way we came,” McCoy protested.

She nodded. “You called me to get my help, then let me help you,” she replied. “Turn left, Spock. Take us back to the Embassy.”

The Embassy wasn't far, and soon Spock entered the underground parking. There, they switched into Uhura's car.

“What now?” Jim asked.

“Now? We're going to my place, and you have some explaining to do,” she replied.

 

**

Everyone was glad the ride to Uhura's condo was devoid of thrills. Jim, quiet and sullen, sat in the back with Leonard, who eyed him with concern.

Once inside Nyota's apartment, Jim excused himself to the bathroom, Leonard staying behind reluctantly. When Jim was out of earshot, Nyota turned to Leo. “Doctor McCoy, what is going on?”

“Please, call me Leonard,” he said. “I'm afraid it's not up to me to tell you. Just... Give Jim some time. He might tell you, but... I can't.”

“There were people trying to kill you!” she exclaimed.

“Please, trust me. Jim didn't do anything wrong, I swear,” McCoy insisted. “He's been through a lot today. Give him some space.”

Nyota leaned back against the wall with her arms crossed, mulling it over. McCoy meant what he said. And Jim Kirk had a police captain and a FBI heavyweight backing him up from home. It was plain to see that Jim was under extreme stress, so she figured she could wait for her explanation. “I'll make some tea,” she announced finally.

“Thank you,” Leo gratefully.

**

Later on, Nyota prepared a meal. Jim, whose appetite was usually healthy, only nibbled at the pasta in front of him, the other three making small talk as they ate. Finally, Jim piped up he was tired. Nyota jumped into action, bringing a pillow and a blanket for Leonard to use on the couch, explaining she would set Jim up in their guest bedroom.

Leonard took the pillow and blanket from Nyota and glanced at Jim wonderingly. They had spent every night together since Leo had rescued Jim. Jim gave Leo a resigned look, and patted his shoulder as he walked passed, following the young woman to the spare room. Leonard frowned as he stared at Jim's back until he turned the corner.

Leonard laid his makeshift bed. He was unable to sleep and wondered how Jim was doing. Had Nyota left a light on for him? Would Jim have another nightmare? Would he wake in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar room and have a panic attack? Leonard was too tense to fall asleep.

**

“I saw you,” Nero said tauntingly.

“What?”

“I saw you, mi ángel. I know what you did after I last saw you,” Nero said, a smirk twisting his lips.

“I don't know what you mean,” Jim said, rolling his eyes at Nero's cryptic words.

“Ah, always playing hard to get... You know, it would be so much easier if you just admitted it...”

“I have no idea what you're talking about,”Jim spat, glaring at his captor.

Nero laughed. “I saw you. In the shower, after I sent you back to your room. I saw you jerk off that pretty cock of yours. I saw you when you came, pretty boy,” Nero said, sneering more noticeably when he saw the look of shock on Jim's face.

The air in Jim's lungs vanished, as if it had been removed with one quick wave of Nero's twisted magic wand. Jim remembered now, and he was unable to ignore the shame he felt.

“It's alright, muchacho guapo. You don't have to say anything,” Nero laughed. “I can see through you. After I beat you like the little whore you are, you just had to come, didn't you? Because I didn't let you. I know your type.” Nero's sneer intensified.

How had Nero known? Jim had thought he was alone when that happened. He'd been in pain, alone, tense as a bowstring and he'd found a semblance of release, as fleeting as it was.

“How?” Jim managed to ask.

“I have eyes everywhere,” Nero said. “You can't hide from me. Ever.”

Jim woke with scream in his throat. He wasn't sure if he'd cried out loud or not. His forehead was damp with sweat, and his heart threatened to jump out of his chest. When the door opened, Jim recoiled in his bed. But the light came on, and Jim saw Leonard's face, full of concern.

“Bones,” Jim croaked.

Leonard hurried to the bed, Jim scurrying closer to hold on to Bones. Leo pushed back the hair that stuck to Jim's damp forehead. Jim's body was tense, drenched in sweat. “You're safe, Jim. You're here with me, Nyota and Spock are down the hall. We're leaving tomorrow. You'll be home soon.”

After a moment, Leo pulled back. “Let me get you a glass of water,” he said. Jim clung to him, refusing to let him go.

“No, Bones. Stay. I can't...”

“I'm not going anywhere,” Leo assured him, squeezing him tightly. “You're shaking,” he remarked. “You're soaked. Let me help you out of this.” Jim let go of Leonard and let him pull his shirt off.

Leo leaned back slowly and stretched on the bed, Jim curling around him. Leo pulled the blanket over them and stayed awake long after Jim slipped into a deep sleep, his handsome face now rid of tension. No matter how much Leonard wished he could avoid separating from Jim, he knew he'd have to leave him sometime soon. The young man was relying on him so much, Leonard wondered if he'd even be able to walk away if Jim begged him to stay.

Chapter Text

In the morning, Nyota woke first and headed to the kitchen to brew coffee for everyone. She noticed that Doctor McCoy wasn't on the couch. She turned on the coffee maker then checked the bathroom to see if McCoy had everything he needed; no one was in there. Where was he? After yesterday's unfortunate adventure, she couldn't help imagining the worst. She opened the door to Jim's room without knocking.

“Jim! I can't find...” she exclaimed, bursting into the bedroom. Leo was holding on to Jim's body, the young man curled against him. Leo's nose was buried in Jim's hair, and his arm was tightly wound around Jim's middle. Jim had flinched awake at the sound of Nyota's voice, but Leo hushed him, depositing a small kiss behind his ear.

“Ah, uh... Sorry. Coffee's on,” Nyota mumbled before shutting the door again. She returned to the kitchen and waited for the coffee to be ready, kicking herself for not seeing it before.

**

“How long have you and Doctor McCoy been together?” Spock asked conversationally.

Nyota swallowed her bite of scrambled eggs sideways. “Spock!” she scolded him.

“You told me you found them in bed together this morning. It's logical to assume they are dating. I am merely making conversation,” Spock reasoned evenly.

Uhura's cheeks flushed a little; she felt like she'd been caught gossiping. “Yes, well, it's a personal question, Spock. Try not to be too nosy,” she replied.

“No. It's okay,” Jim intervened. “We're not...” he stopped, turning his head and finding Leonard staring at him. “I mean, we are...” he stammered, realizing he had no idea what to tell Spock. Furthermore, he had no idea what Leonard thought of their relationship.

“We've only just met,” Leonard stated neutrally, coming to Jim's rescue.

“Bones saved my life,” Jim blurted out, poking at his scrambled eggs. He knew an explanation about yesterday was in order, and this felt like as good a time as any.

“How?” Spock asked with an eyebrow raised, looking at both men in turn with sharp curiosity in his dark eyes. Leonard was sure it was the most excited he'd seen Spock so far.

Leonard put down the glass of orange juice he had meant to drink from and stared at the toast on his plate; the question wasn't his to answer. He glanced at Jim, catching the determination in his blue eyes. Leonard nodded, communicating he'd go along with whatever Jim was willing to share with the couple who had saved them from certain harm, without even knowing them.

Nyota put her fork down. Jim started to talk; he explained how he and Bones had met, omitting some details, but giving Spock and Uhura an accurate albeit short version of the events that had transpired. When Jim was finished, there was a long silence.

“I'm sorry, Jim. I'm glad to help in any way I can,” Uhura said finally, Spock nodding in agreement.

“Nero is a very dangerous man,” Spock said. “He is well known at the District Attorney's office where I work. I heard he routinely threatens and buys witnesses. They suspect Nero had some of them killed, but they've never been able to pin it on him. It is rumored he is close friend with the Chief of Police. I regret having to say this, but as long as Jim is here in Argentina, he is in serious danger.”

“We need to leave the country as soon as possible,” Leo agreed.

“We can help you with that,” Nyota offered. “I have to make a phone call. You guys clear this up,” she ordered, rising from her chair to find her cellphone. All three men shoveled more food into their mouths and started clearing the table while they were still chewing.

“Hendorff? It's Nyota. I need your help,” they heard Nyota say from the living room.

**

Getting Leonard and Jim to hand over their hotel room key took some convincing, but Spock's logic was difficult to disagree with. Leonard needed his money, but also all the evidence he had gathered on his trip. There was also the small matter of the gun. Spock promised to dispose of it properly after they recovered it. Leonard would be glad to see it go. The thing had been more trouble than help in the end, and pointing it at anyone had proved a sure way to have them clam up on you. Jim had almost taken lives with it...

Spock theorized that Nero's men had probably expected Jim to go to the Embassy and had waited for him to show up, then followed him to the Japanese Garden. The hotel room had been under Leonard's name, and Leonard had no reason to believe Nero knew his real name. They knew his face, however, and it would be too risky for Jim or Leonard to return to their room. Spock was the logical choice for the job. Nyota reluctantly agreed, but she made Spock take Hendorff, the head of Security at the Embassy, with him.

Hendorff surveyed the hotel lobby while Spock booked a room at the Front Desk. It was difficult to tell if any of the men waiting there were Nero's men, but he made a mental note of a few potential bad guys. Not one of them followed when he and Spock got into the elevator.

They exited on the 20th floor, and used the stairs to the floor below. They walked right passed room 1930 –their target– and headed to their own room at the end of the hall. No one had been prowling in the hallway. Hendorff pretended to fetch ice, making sure that no one was lurking by the vending machines, then he checked both stairwells for lookouts in hiding. Nothing.

Spock entered the room and quickly packed Leo and Jim's things as Hendorff guarded the door, his hand ready on his gun. They used the stairs on the way down, avoiding the lobby.

**

Spock returned from the hotel accompanied by Hendorff. Thankfully, Spock had been right, and they hadn't run into any problems. Spock introduced the security guard to Jim and Leonard as Hendorff handed Jim his passport. Spock went on to explain that Hendorff would be driving them to the airport and he and Nyota were staying behind.

As Nyota shared their plans with Hendorff, McCoy took Spock aside and gave him all the information he had dug up about Sarah Rand's disappearance. The thought of the young woman being still out there made McCoy sick, but the trail had already grown cold by the time he'd gotten here, and the last lead had been the thinnest of all. Spock made copies of everything and promised he and Nyota would do what they could, despite the probability of finding Sarah being extremely low.

Before leaving Jim hugged Uhura, who returned the embrace warmly, then he hugged Spock who was stiff in Jim's arms, obviously uncomfortable with the demonstration.

“Thanks, Spock. I owe you,” Jim told him.

“You do,” Spock answered. “The damage to my car was extensive.”

Jim snorted a laugh. He found Spock's tendency to take everything literally both infuriating and endearing “That's not what I meant,” Jim replied smiling. “But yeah, I'll pay for that.”

The drive to the airport was quiet. Despite the lack of trouble at the hotel, there was a chance Nero had men there watching for Jim and Leonard. Using his clearance from the Embassy, Hendorff was allowed to escort Jim and Leo to their flight. There was only a slight chance that Nero would try something inside the airport, but there was still a possibility that they'd be followed. Spock had insisted they made a stop in Mexico City rather than a non-stop to San Francisco, to help throw Nero's hounds off the scent. It would make their trip back longer, but it was well worth the trouble.

**

After boarding their plane, Leonard insisted on sitting in the aisle seat. “I may throw up on you,” Leo mumbled, clearly agitated.

“I think these things are pretty safe,” Jim replied, slightly amused by Leo's uneasiness. Apparently, the doctor had nerves of steel, but only as long as he had both feet on the ground.

“Don't pander to me, kid. Who knows how drunk our pilot might be, or if there's a tiny crack in the hull? We might get struck by lightning. See if you're still so relaxed when you're fried to a crisp, plummeting down at 120 miles per hour. I bet you'll pray for hypoxia to knock you unconscious,” Leonard growled.

Jim just smiled indulgently. He reached for Leo's lap to secure his seatbelt before adjusting his own. He then slipped his hand over Leonard's, intertwining their fingers together. When the plane took off, Leonard's palms started to sweat, and he started bouncing his knee nervously. Jim made Leo look at him. “Look at the bright side; if you plummet, you'll be plummeting with me. Lucky you,” Jim said with a cocky smile. Leonard huffed, but Jim could see the warmth in his eyes.

As soon as they were allowed, Jim flagged a flight attendant and ordered a double bourbon for Bones. He lifted the armrest that separated them, and closed the small distance between them, making sure their hips and thighs touched. As soon as Bones had swallowed his drink, Jim started talking. He talked about anything he could think of; Bones never relaxed completely, and Jim never went to sleep despite the fatigue. There was simply no way he'd let Leonard McCoy to face his fears on his own.

**

The cab stopped in front of a house Leo guessed was Christopher Pike's home. He squeezed Jim's hand. Jim gazed down at their hands and then, looking at Bones regretfully, he let go. “Chris doesn't know... that I like men,” he admitted. “I will tell him, but not like this.”

Leonard nodded. “It's your show, kid,” he said, smiling reassuringly.

“I mean it,” Jim insisted.

“I know,” he assured Jim, getting his wallet out to pay the fare.

Jim had to ring the bell, since he'd lost his keys with everything else. Christopher Pike opened the door, immediately pulling Jim into a hearty hug. “Glad to see you, son,” he said warmly, patting Jim's back. “Don't you ever run off on me again.”

“I'm sorry, Chris. I won't,” Jim replied when Pike finally let him go. Jim wished he could explain that he hadn't meant to be gone that long, that he couldn't reach out to his godfather and that he felt awful for all the grief he'd caused him. Technically, Jim wasn't responsible for his lengthy disappearance, but it was his impulsive actions that had set it all in motion. Jim wanted to tell Pike all this, but not now.

It was late, and Pike's wife came down the stairs wrapped in her bathrobe, fussing over Jim and Leonard, insisting on making them sandwiches before she went back to bed. Pike's questions about Jim's trip were met with rather vague answers, and soon Pike dropped the subject altogether, sensing there was something there Jim wasn't willing to share. Both travelers were weary from the long flight, so Pike showed McCoy to his daughter's old room, shaking his hand and thanking him sincerely again for helping Jim when he was sick.

Leonard looked at Jim who stood in front of his own room down the hall. Separate rooms again.

“Are you going to be alright, kid?” Leonard murmured.

“I guess we'll find out, won't we?” Jim mumbled.

Leo left his suitcase where it was and walked over to Jim. He nudged Jim inside, pressing his hand over the small of Jim's back. “What are you doing?” Jim asked. “You can't sleep here...”

“So you say, but can I at least tuck you in?” Leo asked, his hazel eyes shining with amusement.

Jim chuckled, glancing back at the stairs down which Pike had disappeared. “Yes. You can,” he relented with a smile.

Jim's room was simply decorated. There were no trophies or medals, the sort of things one might find in a young man's room. Just a desk with a computer, a well-filled bookshelf and a dresser. A framed picture on the nightstand showed a young man in a police uniform. With his blond hair and bright blue eyes, it was easy to tell it was George Kirk, Jim's father. It must have been the picture Jim had held on to all these years as a child.

Jim took his jeans off, which technically were Bones'. He took off his socks and padded over to the bed. Leonard turned on the lamp right next to George's photo, then he turned off the ceiling light. “How's that?”

“Good,” Jim answered opening the bed covers before sitting down. He rubbed his eyes and yawned. “I'm exhausted,” he said. “I barely slept at Nyota's and I didn't sleep on the plane.”

“Yeah, well, you did that to yourself. I told you to get some sleep, but you insisted on staying up with me,” Leo said.

Jim shrugged. “I owed you that much,” Jim said, slipping his feet under the bedding.

Leonard stood by the bed, looking down at Jim very seriously. “No, Jim. You don't owe me anything.”

Jim laid his head on the pillow. “I owe you everything.”

Leo just shook his head, unwilling to argue. “You're home, kid. You're safe, now,” Leonard whispered, pulling the blanket and comforter up to Jim's chin. “Good night.”

“Good night,” Jim replied. “See you tomorrow.”

Leonard gave him a little smile, then he closed the door, making sure he pressed down the button on the handle, locking the door before shutting it.

Leonard didn't even unpack his luggage. He sat on the bed for a long moment, refusing to lay down despite his fatigue. Leo reflected on how very dependent on him Jim had become. He didn't know if he could stand the look in Jim's eyes when he left. He told himself that Jim was not alone anymore, that he was where he was supposed to be. Leo sighed deeply and made his decision. He exited his room and quietly made his way down the stairs. As he was bent over to put his shoes on, he heard someone clear his throat behind him.

“Going somewhere?” Pike asked quietly.

“You caught me,” Leo replied with small sigh.

“Care to tell me why?”

Leo closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose. How was he going to explain this without giving any details away? Jim was the one who had to tell Pike about what happened, in his own time, in his own words.

Pike saw the tension in the man before him. “Do you have time for a drink before you go?”

“Sure,” Leo allowed. He followed Pike to his study.

“Will Scotch do?” Pike asked, pouring a little Balvenie in two lowball glasses when Leo nodded. “Does Jim know you're leaving?”

Leo took his glass, then sat opposite the police captain, looking at the single ice cube that floated atop his drink. “No.”

“Why not? I thought you guys got along rather well,” Pike observed.

“Yes, we do. It's not that.” Leo sighed deeply. “You see, I can't explain everything to you. It's not my place.”

Pike frowned. “Jim didn't tell me everything, has he?” Leo nodded once in response. “I see,” Pike whispered thoughtfully.

“I believe it's better if I leave now. I'm afraid Jim might get upset when I leave and...”

“And then, it'll be harder for you to leave?”

“Something like that.”

“Well, as long as you think it best. That's all I want for Jim, even though he doesn't believe he deserves it yet. Whatever happened down there, I'll make sure Jim is taken care of. He's with the people who will take care of him.”

“I wouldn't leave if I didn't think Jim was in good hands,” Leonard said. He thought for a moment, then reached for the front compartment of his luggage. He pulled out a thick yellow envelope from it and set it on the top of the desk in front of him.

“After Jim tells you, I want you to open this envelope and look at the contents. I'm just a doctor, and I'm not exactly sure what to do with what's in here,” McCoy said, tapping his finger on the envelope. “You decide if you want to show it to Jim, as well as what is to be done about it.”

Pike slid the envelope on the desk until it was in front of him. “Thank you for your confidence, Doctor McCoy.”

Leo nodded and finished his glass. Pike called him a cab and Leo made him promise to call if Jim needed his help.

Leo was just about to open the door of the cab. “Bones?” Leo heard behind him. Jim was standing on the sidewalk, barefooted and wearing only boxers and a t-shirt despite the chill. His hair was messy and it made Leo smile despite himself. He would miss that.

“What...” Jim murmured. Then he cleared his throat and squared his shoulders. “You're leaving,” he stated.

Leonard nodded. “I'm sorry, Jim. I couldn't...” he stammered.

“What? Say goodbye?” Jim asked pointedly. Leo looked at Jim, guilt written all over his face. Whatever anger Jim felt melted at the sight. Jim sighed and stepped closer. He took Leo's hand, Bones glancing nervously at Pike who was watching from the open front door.

“Pike is watching,” he told Jim.

Jim shrugged. “I don't care. I'm done keeping secrets,” Jim said, closing the distance and kissing Leonard right on the lips before hugging him tightly. “Goodbye, Bones. And thank you.”

Jim let go and turned his back on Leonard, leaving him to stand and stare dumbly after the young man as he climbed the steps and disappeared inside. Pike gave McCoy a last look and then shut the door.

Leonard shook himself and entered the cab. Did Jim know why he left? Leonard hadn't expected Jim's reaction to his sneaking away. He'd expected tears, or even panic, but not the resignation Jim had displayed; it was as if he'd expected it.

“Airport, sir?” the driver asked his silent customer.

“Yeah. Please,” Leonard answered distractedly, staring out the window, his throat constricting with emotion. He tried to convince himself what he did was for Jim's good. The kid needed the support of his family and the people who loved him, not of a quasi-stranger who'd taken advantage of his position and allowed him to become attached, only to make things worse for Jim down the line.

If it was true that Leo had done what was best for Jim, then why did he feel like his soul had been crushed and his heart shattered, its pieces scattered on the sidewalk in front of Pike's house?

**

Jim stood at the bottom of the stairs with his head bowed and his hand on the rail, his back turned to Pike who waited. He had known there was something off about Jim as soon as he'd seen him. He had no inkling of what it might have been about. Until he saw Jim kiss the other man goodbye.

“Jim?” Pike called after a moment. Jim lifted his head, but didn't turn around. “Are you in love with him?”

Jim let out a short derisive laugh. “I don't even know, I don't know anything...”

Pike stepped closer, throwing his arm around Jim's shoulders. He gently guided Jim up the steps and into his bedroom.

“What happened?” Pike asked. From the looks of it, it seemed Jim had fallen for a man who didn't return his feelings. Pike wondered if McCoy had played with his godson's feelings. But then, what was this business with the envelope in his study? “Did he hurt you?” he asked, feeling some anger bubbling up.

“No!” Jim practically yelled, startling Pike. Jim took a deep breath. “No,” he insisted, more calmly. “It wasn't like that.”

“How was it then?”

Jim explained how his drink had been spiked at a bar, and how he had woken up captive. He explained the things Nero did to him and how he had been sold like an object and beaten, until, by a strange twist of fate, Leonard McCoy had swooped in and rescued him. Jim also told him how they escaped Buenos Aires with Uhura and Spock's help.

When Jim stopped talking, the fact that Bones was truly gone hit him fully. It knocked the breath out of his lungs, just as the punches in the gut the gamblers had dished out. Jim could swear he could smell the rank smell of his cage in Villa de Lago. He choked out a sob and Pike scooped him up again and he let his godson cry on his shoulder. Pike slept in Jim's room that night, keeping the lamp on for his godson, watching the young man toss and turn as he was haunted by nightmares.

Chapter Text

It was difficult, but Jim found a way to focus on getting better.

When Jim got the urge to run away, he remembered what Bones had said about choosing the kind of man he was. Jim didn't want to be the kind of man who ran when things got hard. Pike had helped him find a good therapist, and Jim had put all his energy into changing his life for the best. Jim, who turned out to be somewhat of a genius, could have entered the Physics or Engineering program at the university, but he decided to enter the San Francisco Police Academy instead, following into his father's and Pike's footsteps.

He wanted to have an impact, to save lives, to make a difference. He kept in top physical shape, working out religiously and keeping a busy, regular schedule that kept him from sitting idly and dwelling on the past.

Jim hadn't been that surprised when Bones left him. Hell, most people Jim cared about had either died or abandoned him, so it was nothing new. It still hurt like hell. Pike had explained Leonard had been worried about Jim falling apart. Jim supposed Bones had a point, considering how Jim reacted to being left alone, but it didn't bring Jim any comfort. He was rather disappointed in Bones for not facing him squarely when the time came, and it fueled Jim with the will to prove him wrong.

One Friday evening, Jim came back from the gym as usual. He threw his bag on the floor, then took a moment to look through the small pile of mail that was on the shelf by the door. Someone knocked at the door. Jim looked through the peephole; it was the mailman. Jim frowned. He was holding today's mail, so why was the mailman here? Had he forgotten to drop something off? Jim shrugged and opened the door.

“Mister James Tiberius Kirk?” the man asked in a thick Spanish accent.

“Yeah?”

The man reached into his messenger bag, pulling out a handgun instead of a letter, and pointing it at Jim who lifted both hands. “Inside,” the mailman barked, looking left nervously. As the impostor looked to his right to make sure no one was watching, Jim struck his arm to knock the weapon out of his hand, but the gun stayed put. Jim immediately gripped the man's wrist and jerkily straightened his own arm out to push the gun away. Keeping the gun pointed away from him, Jim hit the man a few times in the face, once on his cheek, then on his nose. The man grunted in pain as blood spilled from his broken nose. Finally, all those hand-to-hand combat and self-defense classes were paying off.

The impostor leaped forward, Jim toppling down to the ground with his attacker on top of him. Jim tried to repel the man, but it was difficult with one hand still trying to restrain the armed hand.

“Chris!” Jim yelled. Had Pike's car been in the driveway? Jim hoped so. “Help! Bring your gun!” Jim was able to scream before his attacker wrapped one hand around Jim's throat and squeezed, using his weight in an attempt to crush it.

Jim heard footsteps behind him, and the familiar noise of a gun being cocked.

“Get off my godson or I'll shoot you,” Pike growled, gun pointing right at the intruder's left temple. Jim took the gun from his hand, and the man slowly moved off him to his knees, raising both hands in surrender.

“Who are you?” Pike asked. The man snorted and looked away.

Jim stared at him for a moment. “Do you work for Nero?” he asked. The man simply glared at Jim with a sneer. It was confirmation enough. Jim used the butt of the gun to hit his attacker behind his head, knocking him out cold. Jim looked at Pike, who kept his weapon trained on the man now sprawled on his floor.

“We were afraid of this. I was hoping it wouldn't happen,” Pike said to Jim.

Jim nodded. “What do we do now?”

“We have two choices; we hide or we fight back,” Pike replied.

“Fight back? How? You know as well as I do that Nero's untouchable. If we get rid of this guy here, Nero will just send another. They know where I live, now,” Jim countered.

“I know someone who can help,” Pike announced. “Alexander Marcus owes me a few favors.”

“Marcus?” Jim inquired with a frown.

“Old friend of mine, and your dad's. Head of FBI,” Pike explained. “He helped me get you out of Argentina quickly.”

So, that was what Uhura had meant by friends in high places. “We'll play this however you want, Chris.” This mess had just turned into a new animal. Not only was Jim in danger, Pike and his family also were. Vina was visiting her family out of town, and Pike's kids had moved out of the house a while back, but Nero's men probably could find them all easily, if they already hadn't.

They moved the gangster to Pike's study, securing him to a chair and gagging his mouth with a handkerchief, before Pike got on the phone.

**

Hours passed. Nero's henchman was awake, and Jim had to refrain from hitting him over and over, until his arm weakened. He and Pike both stiffened when they heard someone ring the doorbell. Jim answered the door while Pike hid behind the door with his gun. A tall man with slick black hair, alabaster skin and icy blue eyes stood outside.

“Mister Kirk?” the man asked in an incredibly deep voice. Jim simply nodded. “I am John Harrison. Alexander Marcus sent me,” he explained in a British accent.

Pike relaxed and peeked around the door, inviting the man in and shaking his hand.

“Please, Captain Pike, take me to your problem,” Harrison requested without further pleasantries. Pike led the way to his study. Jim followed them, noticing Harrison's movements were smooth, almost feline, and he seemed perfectly calm. Jim, who couldn't stop his hands from trembling, found comfort in the fact that at least one person here had his head on straight.

Harrison placed his suitcase on Pike's desk, then took off his jacket in one fluid movement. He opened his suitcase, then tilted his head and asked them to leave him alone with Nero's man. They quickly obliged. A few minutes later, Harrison called them back in. The prisoner had passed out again, more blood dripping from his nose onto the front of his stolen uniform, and his lip freshly split. Jim noticed a small leather pouch unrolled on Pike's desk. It was lined with small pointed instruments that belonged in a dentist's office, or a horror movie. Jim's eyes widened.

“Did you use these on him?” Jim asked, horrified.

“Sometimes, Mr. Kirk, all that is needed is a visual aid to loosen one's tongue. Especially if that someone has the courage of a mouse,” Harrison said, nodding toward the prisoner and flexing his gloved hand. Jim noticed the blood on its black leather and shivered; the cool collected man in front of him was a killer, Jim knew it, and he was glad Harrison was on his side.

Harrison spoke as he replaced the gag into the bound man's bleeding mouth. “You are alive only because Ayel Sosa permitted it. His orders had been to kill you. His reasons to spare you weren't noble, and now that Nero is aware of your whereabouts, he will not stop until you and the people close to you are dead.” He moved to roll back his leather pouch. “Ricardo here claims you have knowledge of the inner workings of the Nerada fortress. Is he correct?”

Jim nodded.

“May I ask how you came to acquire this knowledge?”

“I, uh... Nero kept me there, against my will. He beat me...” Jim started, but Harrison lifted his hand to stop him.

“I am aware of Nero's.... predilections. If it is easier for you, you may keep your story to the less painful details that could help us devise a strategy to stop him.”

Jim sat down and wiped his clammy palms on his sweatpants. “You know what he does, and you never did anything about it?” he growled.

“International diplomacy is quite complex, even more so when extensive amounts of drug money are involved. Nero's reach goes far and deep within both the government and the police. Our options are limited. You are the first one to escape from his clutches, Mr. Kirk. Any insight you are willing to share with me today will help us take action.”

“If I give you this information, you have to promise me you'll rescue whoever is held captive in my old room,” Jim said firmly, holding Harrison's pale blue gaze.

“Very well,” Harrison agreed. “Of course, there is no telling if and when we might take action, as it is largely dependent upon the quality of your information.” Jim nodded. Harrison placed his phone on the desk to record the conversation and gestured for Jim to start.

Jim related what happened at the bar where he'd been drugged, and who he'd talked to. He explained his daily routine and Nero's comings and goings. The names of the servants, and his henchmen. The description of all the rooms he'd been in. What he saw from his balcony. The type of weapons the guards used, the makes and colors of cars he'd glimpsed. Where were some of the cameras. What the maids had gossiped about. The bar where Ayel had given him away in a poker game. Villa de Lago and the gamblers. The man in the park. The man in the Japanese Garden. And Doctor Leonard McCoy.

Harrison didn't hide his amazement at the insight Jim was able to provide. Jim's memory was sharp and he even remembered the color of the drapes in the rooms, or the cologne Nero wore. So far, it had been a curse, something that just made Jim's nightmares more vivid, but now it was going to help take Nero down, and Jim gladly spilled out all he could remember for the agent who could barely repress a smirk every time Jim answered a question.

Harrison pulled an iPad from his suitcase, and showed Jim dozens upon dozens of pictures. Some were mugshots, other were candids obviously taken during surveillance. Jim knew some of the men by name, some he'd only glimpsed, and some were perfect strangers. Pike handed over the envelope McCoy had given him. It contained a flash drive with names, places and photos, a small black ledger taken from Villa de Lago and multiple SIM cards and memory cards from the gamblers' phones.

Finally, Jim drew a map of the first and second floor of Nero's mansion to the best of his recollection.

“Director Marcus is insisting on providing you with a security detail. We are recommending you keep the family away for a while. I also would refrain from contacting Doctor McCoy. We cannot be certain of exactly how much Nero knows, or how much surveillance he may have set up here in San Francisco. According to Ricardo, it seems they know McCoy only under the fake name Michael, and it would be unfortunate to tip them off of his real identity,” Harrison advised.

The FBI agent untied Ricardo, slipping handcuffs on him before pulling him off the chair. He pushed him out of the study, followed by Jim and Chris. He shook Pike's hand before turning to Jim.

“Thank you, Mr. Kirk,” he said, shaking Jim's hand. He held on to Jim longer than required, and seemed to hesitate before adding, “I am sorry that you went through this. I will do my best to honor our agreement,” he declared.

“Thank you,” Jim replied, squeezing Harrison's hand and pulling him closer. “If you get the chance, say hi for me before you put a bullet in that fat bastard's head,” Jim whispered in his ear.

Harrison hummed and pulled away, his lips curling into a smirk that made Jim shiver. Special Agent Harrison was a cold man, but Jim got the feeling he had a conscience, and Jim trusted he would save whoever Nero had kidnapped.

Jim watched him shove the handcuffed gangster in the back of a large black SUV before crossing the street to talk to the driver of a similar vehicle, most likely their security detail. After a quick exchange between the two agents, and a curt nod to Jim, John Harrison climbed into his vehicle and drove away.

The final decision was now out of Jim and Chris' hands. It belonged to Marcus and his team. Nero had been a thorn in the side of the FBI and the DEA for a long time, but the lack of informants willing to talk kept them from striking. But now, Nero was sending assassins to kill a high ranking police officer and his family, a friend of the Director, no less. That was more than enough to tip the scales. As he drove, John Harrison was already conceiving a plan to eliminate Nero, thanks to Jim Kirk's excellent inside information.

**

Leonard had met with the Rands right away, turning over any shred of information he had. He explained that Spock was still circulating Sarah's picture in Argentina. He left feeling empty despite the warm thanks from the couple. He didn't tell them about Jim and Nero, and he couldn't bear to tell Christine. He felt awful about getting involved with Jim and then leaving him like a coward. Jim deserved better; maybe it was best Leo stayed away from him after all...

It only added more strain on the doctor, who still suffered from having no relationship with his family and his ex-wife. Leonard had a lot to sort through on his own, and he had no idea where to start. He desperately needed help. This time, he did the sensible thing and asked for a referral from Janice Rand, for one of her colleagues, hoping to disentangle the mess of anger and guilt that plagued him.

A few months passed. Leonard had resumed his post as Chief Surgeon, and he was still working a lot and drinking a bit too much. Any time he felt annoyed, or whenever he became angry, his mind would drift to Jim Kirk, and the frustration would melt away, replaced by sadness and resignation. It meant Leonard wasn't a tyrant to his staff anymore, but Christine Chapel wasn't entirely happy with the change.

At least, Leonard had some fight in him before he'd embarked on his fool's errand.

Now he seemed to have lost his fire. She tried to find out what happened in Argentina, but Leonard remained vague. He explained he'd seen both ugliness and beauty that had made deep impressions on him, whatever that meant. She kept a close eye on him, finding some reassurance in the fact that Leo was talking to his therapist every week and making progress repairing parts of his life. Leo had also picked up running every evening. As a result, he was in great shape and looked better than he had in months, but he was oblivious to his effect on others. He had many suitors, but was closed to the idea of going on a date.

Forgetting Jim Kirk proved to be impossible. Of course, Leonard thought of Jim every time he stepped in the shower and every time he went to bed. He thought of Jim every time he heard someone speaking in Spanish. What Leo didn't quite expect was to be reminded of Jim each time he bandaged a patient, or when a nurse would wear scrubs in a particular shade of blue. Like Jim's eyes.

After a month without news from Jim, Leonard told himself Jim needed the time to recover, and that it was better that he did it on his own, without him around to use as a crutch. Besides, if things were bad, Pike would have contacted him. After two months, Leo started to feel less sure that Jim was going to come back in his life. But after four months, he had pretty much accepted that Jim had decided to leave him be. Who could blame Jim after the way Leonard had left him? And what else could Leonard do but respect Jim's choice?

**

“Bones...”

Leonard woke with groan and a smirk on his lips. When he realized that he was alone in bed, he sighed deeply. Just when he thought he'd finally pushed Jim out of his thoughts, his subconscious mind betrayed him. He still had a raging hard-on under the blanket, and he swore he could still feel where Jim's stubble had scratched his neck and the crest of his hip in his dream.

In the shower, he couldn't resist. With one hand pressed against the tiled wall, he took himself in hand and recalled the dream he had this morning; Jim kissing his neck and chest, working his way down to Leo's cock, whispering his nickname before taking him into his mouth...

Even when Leo got aroused by something that wasn't Jim, at the moment of climax, it's Jim's face that Leo called to mind. Leonard came, whispering Jim's name, then he watched the remains of his orgasm go down the drain with the water. The fleeting moment of happiness was replaced by the guilt and regret for leaving the way he had, and never trying to contact Jim. Then came the endless unanswered questions. How was Jim? What was he up to? Was he still in school? Did he miss Leo? Had he really moved on?

Did he ever think about Leonard, the way he thought of Jim?

**

It was the middle of the summer, almost six months after he returned from Argentina, when Leonard's heart skipped a beat, finding an email from Christopher Pike in his inbox. It was the first time the man had contacted him since the day Leo had left; a day he'd been trying to erase from his memory with no success. There was nothing in the subject line, but there were two links in the note. He clicked the top one. It took Leo to a news website in Spanish. Using his web browser to translate it, Leo read the article, his heart beating hard in his chest.

There was a picture of a fat, bald man named Nicolas Ernesto Rodriguez, also known as Nero. He was dead. His large fortified compound had been blown up by a bomb. The police were looking for a man that had been caught on camera before the blast. His face wasn't visible, but he was believed to be a white man, with dark hair, about 6 feet tall. They believed the suspect had sneaked inside and disabled the security system before placing the bomb. Out of the twenty or so bodies recovered from the rubble, the police identified a few well-known criminals, including Nero's body. However, his main bodyguard, Ayel Sosa, was still missing. The police had very little to go on, and they blamed a rival drug cartel for the attack.

The feeling that bloomed in McCoy's chest at learning that the creeps responsible for hurting Jim were dead was close to joy. Yes, joy. He was happy that Nero and his men had died. He hoped it had been a painful death. Leonard noted that the article dated from about two months after their return to the United States. Why was Pike sending this news now?

McCoy clicked the second link. This time, the article was much smaller, and without any pictures. It was dated about one week later than the last one. It told of another explosion, much smaller, south of Buenos Aires. A hotel in the abandoned vacation resort of Villa de Lago had been completely destroyed, and five men had been killed, including the police officer of a nearby small town. The reason for the bomb was up for debate; the article mentioned drugs and rumors of police corruption, but no definite motive had been decided on.

Leonard sat back in his chair, absolutely astonished. If someone had wanted to take revenge on those who'd preyed on Jim, they couldn't have done a better job. There was nothing else in the email. Why? Leonard poured himself a couple of fingers of bourbon to steady his nerves. There were so many questions unanswered. How was Jim doing? Was he happy? Were the bombings simply a coincidence, unrelated events that had more to do with the criminal world than vengeance? Why had Pike contacted him now?

McCoy finished his drink then typed a short reply to the email. He waited a while, hoping for a quick answer, but he ended up having to go to bed. He slept badly, constantly checking his phone. The alarm woke him up in the early morning. Pike's short answer made him sit up like a bolt.

Please, come at once.

There was a link to a plane ticket purchased in his name by Pike; that was all. Nothing about Jim, no explanation. Was there something wrong with Jim? “Goddammit, Pike,” Leonard grumbled, scrambling out of bed. He replied with more questions about Jim's health and wellbeing, but he simply could not wait for an answer. He called the hospital to tell them he was leaving for a few days and packed a bag without even taking the time to make coffee before leaving; he'd have to wait to get to the airport for that. Leo was so worried about Jim that he forgot to be upset when the plane lifted off the ground in direction of San Francisco.

**

Of course, McCoy's plane was late. He skipped getting a hotel room in favor of going directly to Pike's house. Leonard stared at the doorbell and the golden 1701 right above it. What was he going to find on the other side of this door? He gathered all his courage and pressed the button.

The police Captain answered the door, greeting McCoy with a wide smile and a twinkle in his blue eyes.

“My plane was late. I'm sorry. I came as soon as I could...” Leo mumbled.

“No matter,” Pike said, waving his hand dismissively at the doctor. “I'm glad you're here. We were running out of excuses for not cutting the cake...” the man announced.

Leonard frowned. Pike didn't sound like a man in the middle of a crisis. “Cake?”

Pike nodded, still smiling. “Jim's birthday cake.”

“So Jim isn't...”

“Jim's fine. He doesn't know you're here.”

“But I thought...”

“Ah, yes. I know. It was a bit dirty of me to let you think the worst,” Pike admitted. Leonard's nostrils flared as he glared at Pike, who raised both hands defensively. “Look, I wanted to make sure you'd come. I know what kind of man you are, Doctor McCoy, and I knew you'd show up if you thought Jim was in trouble...”

Leonard found himself wondering if he indeed would have made the trip if Pike had simply told him the truth; Pike was right, Leo would have hesitated to surprise Jim with a visit. He exhaled loudly. “His birthday, huh?”

“Come in, Doctor.”

Leo entered, leaving his suitcase by the door and following Pike to the dining room, his heart beating wildly in his chest.

Chapter Text

Jim was smiling, his face turned toward the young man sitting next to him when Pike got everyone's attention.

Leo wasn't listening anymore. He didn't even hear Pike introducing him as “the man who saved Jim's life in Argentina.” All he could focus on was Jim Kirk; he saw Jim's smile fall away, and his blue eyes mist over, then Jim stood up, came around the table and wrapped his arms around Leo's shoulders.

Leonard held Jim for a few seconds, eyes closed, and completely lost into the hug. When he reopened his eyes, Leo saw the smiling faces of the guests staring up at them. He cleared his throat, patted Jim's back and held him by the shoulders at arm's length to have a good look at his face. Jim had grown his hair a bit longer, and he was sporting just the right amount of stubble; it made him look like a model in a cologne ad.

“You look good,” Leo commented, holding back the flow of emotions that assailed him. He would have acted differently if they'd been alone. He wanted to pull Jim back to him and keep him there; to feel Jim's body, warm and solid against him, until he had his fill -which Leonard guessed would be never.

“You too.” Jim reached out and swept Bones' long bangs aside. “I really do like it better this way,” Jim said, echoing something he'd said a long time ago. Jim saw Leo's cheeks flush, and he looked into the hazel eyes, wishing there wasn't an audience. Jim had to shake himself or he'd be staring at Bones all night. “Wow, I had no idea you were coming,” Jim said, the emotion in his voice barely contained.

“You have your godfather to blame for that,” Leo told him, nodding toward Pike, who looked mightily pleased with himself.

Jim patted Leo's shoulder and introduced each person around the table; there was Vina, Pike's wife, and their son and daughter. Jim's mom, Winona, was here with her boyfriend Frank. There was a handsome Asian man called Sulu and a young man called Pavel Chekov next to him. When Jim pointed out Spock and Uhura, Leonard received a hug from the young woman and shook her finance's hand mechanically.

“What are you two doing here?” McCoy mumbled.

“We came for Jim's birthday, of course,” Spock answered.

“Yeah, okay, but...”

“I'll explain later,” Jim promised, giving Spock's shoulder a squeeze and Leonard a meaningful look.

“Take a seat, Doctor,” Pike called, heading for the kitchen with his wife as the guests resumed their conversation.

Leonard could barely pay attention to what was being said. He tried not to stare at Jim, but it proved impossible. Jim looked stunning, even more handsome than Leo remembered. He was hale, his eyes sparkled with life, and his skin had a light tan. He was noticeably more muscular than before. His body completely filled the white V-neck T-shirt he wore; it showed just a hint of Jim's sparse chest hair, and Leo blushed at the sight. Leo gratefully accepted the glass of white wine Pike's daughter handed him. The wine was delicious, but it did little to keep Leonard from undressing Jim with his eyes.

Leonard's gaze was drawn away from Jim's pectorals when Pike and his wife came out of the kitchen holding a large cake decorated with a ridiculous amount of candles. Everyone broke into song, and Leonard couldn't do anything but join in. Jim blew his candles after being reminded to make a wish. Jim blew every candle on the cake and beamed at Leonard as everyone clapped and cheered.

It struck Leonard that this was what normal families did. Jim had rarely experienced this type of united, welcoming family atmosphere as he grew up, and Leo was glad to find Jim thriving in this environment. Leo couldn't imagine a better setting for Jim to heal and recover in.

After the cake, Jim opened a few presents. Pavel gave Jim a series of books about the Hubble space telescope, filled with breathtaking images. Pavel had been the one Jim was smiling to when McCoy had come in. The kid seemed quite young. He was slim, had green eyes and curly light brown hair. There was something intimate about his interactions with Jim, and it made McCoy wonder if those two were more than just friends.

At some point in the conversation, Pavel referred to his own room, pointing toward the stairs, and Jim insisted that Pavel's room was in fact his room. Leo drained his glass of wine and pressed his lips together. His eyes prickled with tears, and he drank water trying to soothe the ache in his throat. Of course Jim had moved on. Leonard knew he should be happy for Jim, but deep down, he was devastated. He stood up jerkily, earning a frown from Jim, and announced he was going to the bathroom.

He stayed there for as long as he dared, splashing water on his face and staring into the mirror. For a moment, he entertained the thought of leaving again, only to berate himself mentally for even thinking about it. Jim Kirk didn't deserve another disappearing act on his part. Leonard had to stay and give Jim all his support, even if it broke Leo's heart to see Jim with someone else.

When Leonard returned to the dining room, everyone was helping clear the table of dirty dishes to the kitchen. Winona and Frank had to leave right away, as they had to drive back to Iowa. Nyota and Spock excused themselves citing an early meeting. Pavel and Sulu needed to work on a particularly difficult paper, and they left together, discussing fine points of astronautics that sounded like gibberish to Leo. It left only the Pikes, Jim and McCoy in attendance.

When Leonard and Jim offered to help with the dishes, Vina practically chased them out of the kitchen, Jim narrowly escaping the swipe of her dishrag with a laugh. No way were the birthday boy and his special guest going to wash dishes on her watch.

Jim looked at Bones fondly, his grin turning into a more subdued smile. He picked up the bottle of fancy bourbon Chris had given him from the table, as well as two finely carved crystal glasses from the bar in the living room.

“Sorry, I don't have a gift for you. I didn't know...” Leonard mumbled.

“Stop it. I don't care. C'mon, Bones,” Jim beckoned, nodding toward the patio door. “Let's go sit outside.”

Leonard slid the screen door open and followed Jim into the pleasantly warm June air, his pulse racing at the mere thought of being alone with Jim.

**

Beyond the wooden patio with its plastic furniture and large grill was a small white gazebo. Jim set the bottle on a table in the center after pouring bourbon in the lowball glasses. He tipped his own glass against Leo's with a soft clink.

Leonard sat on the bench and took a sip, looking at the city lights in the distance and then fidgeting with the glass in his hands. He hadn't felt this nervous in a very long time. Count on Jim Kirk to make him feel like a teenager all over again. Jim kicked off his shoes before hopping next to his friend, barefooted. He sat facing Leo's profile, his back against a column and his arms wrapped around his knees.

“You're not drinking?” Leonard asked, noticing that the glass in Jim's hand was still untouched.

Jim shrugged. “I haven't had any bourbon since you left,” he answered. Leo raised a surprised eyebrow. “Well, I tried to, but it reminded me too much of you. And besides, this is more of a scotch house.”

Leonard's temperature spiked as he recalled Jim's bourbon laced kisses all those months ago; he drank a large sip to hide his turmoil as Jim observed him, his face half-hidden in the shadows.

“Why did you come, Bones?” Jim asked in a low voice, finally taking a sip.

“Your godfather let me think something was wrong. I came as soon as I could,” Leo explained.

“Pike said he had something special for my present,” Jim said with a warm smile. “Why did you come?” Jim repeated, more seriously.

“Because I care about you,” Leo admitted. He hadn't come all this way to lie to Jim. But he had no desire to make things hard on the young man. If Jim didn't want him around, Leonard would go where he came from.

“Even after all this time away?” Jim asked, dubious.

Leo let out a derisive chuckle. “There wasn't a day I didn't think about you, wondering how you were doing, hoping you were safe. So many times, I wanted to contact you, but I didn't know if you wanted that. I thought that maybe you'd rather forget all that happened in Argentina, including my sorry ass. Who was I to pop back up into your life and bring back those memories?” Leo asked as his stomach tied itself in a knot.

“At first I was angry at you. I thought you were a coward. I was angry that you didn't think I was strong enough to handle the truth. And the truth was that you didn't want to be with me,” Jim uttered, determined to tell Bones exactly how he felt about him.

“Jim...” Leo tried to interrupt, but Jim continued. Jim understood why Bones left. He had plenty of time to think about this, and he now believed Leo had done the right thing. It'd been hard, because Leo had been what kept Jim from completely falling apart. But Jim had worked at it and felt content now. Mostly.

“Then I told Chris everything. He told me what you said the night you left. It was you who could not stand to see me heart broken when you left. Then, I got help; I sorted things out in my mind, and I realized that in that short time, I'd grown so dependent on you for feeling safe that I scared you. I scared you away. It was my fault.”

“Please, don't say that,” Leonard protested. “I told myself I was leaving for your sake, that staying here longer would only make things harder for you in the end. But in reality, I was a fool, and a coward. I've been miserable since I left that night. I'm just glad you're doing well. And I'm glad to see you found someone who makes you happy.” It wasn't a lie, but it didn't hurt any less. That was what he was supposed to say, right?

“What do you mean?” Jim asked, cocking his head.

“Pavel seems really nice,” Leo replied, sipping his drink to keep his countenance.

“You think Pavel's my boyfriend?” Jim asked, his voice rising in surprise.

“Isn't he?”

“No!” Jim exclaimed. “He's...” Jim stopped, considering what to say next. Pavel's story was not his to tell. But this was Bones, and Jim trusted the man with his life. “Did you hear about what happened to Nero and Villa de Lago?”

Leo nodded jerkily. “Pike sent me links to articles. Yesterday.” Leo pronounced the last word in a sarcastic tone; he was still bitter at Pike for not sending the links earlier.

“Those explosions weren't coincidences, Bones. Someone made it happen,” Jim revealed.

“Who?”

“After I'd been back a few weeks, one of Nero's men found me and tried to kill me. Apparently, there's only one James Tiberius Kirk in San Francisco... Go figure.”

“Do you know why?”

Jim sighed and sipped his bourbon. “We found out that my stupid little stunt at Villa de Lago pissed the gamblers off. They contacted Nero to complain about Ayel selling them a troublemaker,” Jim related. “I was right; Ayel was supposed to kill me, not sell me. I had seen too much while I was there, so Nero told Ayel he had to correct his mistake. They tried to get to me in Buenos Aires, by following us from the Embassy. They knew I had to go there before I could fly back home. It didn't matter, because they had my phone, my passport, my wallet... Pike and I had been hoping they wouldn't pursue me here, but they did.”

“I see,” Leo murmured.

“Pike has an old friend who's high up in the FBI. We couldn't fight Nero on our own, so we contacted him and asked for his help. He sent one of his agents, a man called John Harrison -although I doubt that's his real name. I couldn't contact you, Bones. We didn't know if they bugged the house, my phone, my computer. I didn't want to lead them to you.”

Leo nodded. “What's it got to do with Pavel?” Leo asked, still not understanding how the young Russian was involved.

“When I told Harrison everything I knew about Nero's mansion, I made him promise to rescue whoever was in my old room. He rescued Pavel. He was the one who replaced me. And he went through much worse than me,” Jim explained.

“Good god...” Leonard breathed, unwilling to even imagine what the young man had been through.

“Pavel was on a trip to Argentina, to meet with other physicists when he got kidnapped. Harrison saved him under the FBI radar. He left Pavel with Nyota and Spock with instructions to get in touch with me. They helped him get back here, and we let him stay with us. We became very good friends, but he's not my boyfriend,” Jim explained.

“Ayel wasn't in the rubble. What happened to him?” Leo asked, remembering the part of the article that had bothered him.

“He's in custody. We got the call a few days ago. That must have been when Chris decided to contact you,” Jim answered.

“And Spock and Nyota?”

“They live in California now. After Pavel, we stayed in touch. I started a small support group for victims of human trafficking and their families. We try to provide legal help as well as moral support; Uhura knows a dozen languages and knows people all over the world. Spock is an immigration law genius. We plan on lobbying the legislature to change the law here in California. Human traffickers don't get nearly what they deserve,” Jim explained.

“That's amazing...” Leonard said, truly impressed with what Jim had accomplished in only a few months. Now, the young couple's presence made sense.

Jim shrugged. “I was one of the lucky ones... It would feel wrong if I did nothing to help others, you know?”

“So... you're single, then?” Leo asked tentatively, warmth pooling in his abdomen.

“Yeah. I tried, you know. I tried dating a few people, but I always got the feeling that it was going nowhere. It never got far enough to face the whole 'what are those scars from?' problem. I'd have to explain what happened to me, and then they'd probably freak out.” Jim licked his lips nervously. “But the biggest issue was that none of them were you.”

Leonard's head snapped around to peer at Jim in the dark. The scarce light only illuminated part of Jim's face. Leo watched Jim's lips move as he continued to talk.

“It was so easy with you. I always trusted you, and you never judged me. I just can't forget you, Bones.” Jim's voice was low, but steady. He brushed the tip of his toes against the side of the other man's leg.

Leo's breath hitched at the slight touch; he felt his cock stir as his heart fluttered in his chest. Oh god. Who but Jim Kirk could make him half-hard with just a poke of his goddamn toes? Jim rubbed his toes on him more insistingly, an enigmatic smirk playing on his lips.

“What?” Leonard asked, as strong waves of heat flowed through his body from the small point of contact.

“Go ahead. Take a look. I know you want to,” Jim taunted, sliding his big toe on the side of Leo's jeans. Leonard looked down at Jim's feet. The last time he'd seen them, they'd still been healing. Jim was right; he wanted to take a look at the healed wounds.

“There isn't enough light,” Leo tried to protest weakly.

“Just use your sense of touch then,” Jim whispered.

Leonard finished his bourbon and set the glass on the table, then turned slightly toward Jim. Slowly, he reached for Jim's foot, sliding his fingertips over it, and then wrapping his hand around Jim's ankle. Jim shifted, allowing the doctor to inspect his sole. In the semi-darkness, Leo could not see much. He held on to Jim's ankle and felt the slight lines of healed tissue with the pads of his fingers. The touch was more a reverent caress than a clinical examination.

Jim felt conflicted about the scars. On one hand they reminded him of his ordeal as a captive, but they also reminded him of Bones and how the man had saved him, healed him and proved to him there was still good in the world. Of course, Jim wished he hadn't had to go through the pain and fear, but at the end of it, he'd found Bones, and that, somehow, made the unbearable bearable. Out of the ugliness and hate, Jim had found beauty and love.

“You're perfect, Bones,” Jim suddenly murmured.

Leonard huffed loudly, obviously not agreeing with Jim's statement. Jim removed his foot from Bones' grasp and let his feet hit the ground. He scooted closer to Leo, whispering to him as Leo looked away.

“I don't know what other people have been telling you, Bones, and I don't know what you've been telling yourself. But I'm telling you: you're perfect. I don't care how broken or how hopeless you think you are. It'll never change the way I feel about you. You're perfect for me.”

Leonard looked at Jim, his eyes filling with tears. Damn the things that came out of this kid's mouth. Jim chastely kissed Leo's face, tasting the salty tear that had rolled down his cheek. “You can't even see how amazing you are. That's why you need me around; so that you can be reminded of it every time you look into my eyes. Look at me. Do you see it?

“Dammit, Jim. Stop playing with me,” Leonard grumbled, refusing to look at Jim.

“It's me, Bones. I don't lie to you,” Jim insisted.

“Jim...”

“I had time to think. I fell for you fast, and I fell hard... I needed to clear my mind, to take a step back. But deep down, my feelings haven't changed. You don't have to say anything, I just need you to know,” Jim said quickly, desperately trying to get the words out he had to keep for himself for months.

“Jim...”

“I'm not even sure I'll ever see you again after tonight, but I have to tell you... I love you,” Jim whispered.

“Dammit, Jim. Stop,” Leonard interrupted firmly. Jim looked down, crestfallen. Leonard finally turned to Jim. He reached out to cradle Jim's face with both hands, looking right into the kid's sapphire blue eyes. “I love you, too.”

Jim's whole body warmed as Leo pressed his lips to his. Despite both men wanting to slam the other man against the nearest flat surface to blow off all the steam accumulated over the past months, the kiss was slow and careful.

Jim pulled back with a hum. “Mmm, I missed your bourbon flavored kisses,” Jim was able to whisper before Leonard captured his lips again. Without breaking the kiss, Jim moved to straddle Leonard, who palmed Jim's ass through his jeans, pulling him close. Bones emitted a low happy rumbling noise as Jim rolled his hips and pressed his groin against his. The sound spurred Jim on and he slipped his tongue inside Leonard's mouth.

The kiss was getting more heated, and Jim finally broke away, his breath already ragged and his cock fully hard. He glanced at the house, from where emanated voices, laughter, and the clink of dishes being piled up and put away. “Not the best spot for us to make up for lost time...” Jim murmured regretfully against Bones' cheek.

Leonard let out a small grunt in agreement as he mouthed Jim's throat. “Do you have a better idea?” he asked before baring his teeth to playfully bite the side of Jim's neck, making the young man shudder.

Jim smiled. “Yep.”

Leonard raised an eyebrow, and Jim's smile widened. “Upstairs,” Jim said. “The third floor has been turned into a small loft and I'm renting it. Pavel lives downstairs in my old room. That way I'm close to them, and I get to be independent. It's been working pretty well,” Jim explained.

Leonard turned his head and spied the flight of stairs that went all the way up to a door on the third floor.

“Why don't you head up there with the booze and get comfortable? I'll go get your stuff, and then I'll join you,” Jim proposed.

Leonard mumbled a shapeless word of agreement before pressing another kiss to Jim's lips. Jim regretfully slipped off of Leo who snatched the bottle and the glasses from the table, and Jim headed back inside.

**

When Jim announced he was retiring upstairs and that McCoy was staying with him, Pike smiled. “Good. Just make sure you two idiots don't make too much noise,” he mumbled under his breath, glancing at Jim who blushed furiously.

Pike had been slightly upset when Jim had told him he was attracted to men as well as women. Not because Pike disapproved of such things, but because Jim hadn't told him earlier and had hidden that side of him. Hell, Pike said that if he'd known, he would have set Jim up on dates with a couple of nice young men he knew. To Jim's utter relief, ultimately, Pike didn't care if Jim found love with a man, or a woman; he just wanted his godson to be happy.

“Chris, don't...” Jim groaned, shaking his head. He huffed, stepped closer and hugged his godfather. “Thank you. I couldn't have asked for a better birthday present.”

“I figured it was time for you two to have a talk since we're all out of danger,” Pike replied, patting Jim's back. “No matter what happens between you and him now, you needed to address the past together.”

“I know. Thank you,” Jim repeated before picking up Bones' luggage. It was the very suitcase Leo had used in Argentina. Instead of sending him back into a loop of horrible memories, Jim's mind conjured up images of Bones rummaging through its contents for clothes he thought would look good on Jim. Jim grinned, took the sandwich Vina had made for Bones since the doctor had only had wine and chocolate cake for dinner, and headed upstairs.

Jim rolled the luggage to his room. He hadn't expected finding Bones in the shower, but it would do just fine. He wrapped the sandwich, saving it for later. There was no way in hell Bones was going to finish showering alone. And there was no chance Bones was sleeping on the couch tonight. Or any other night.

Chapter Text

“When I told you to get comfortable, I didn't mean for you to hide in the shower,” Jim said, loudly enough for Bones to hear him over the noise of the running water.

“Huh? I... well, sorry,” Leo stuttered, Jim grinning on his side of the curtain.

He had an intense feeling of déjà-vu. It was a lot like the night in that fancy hotel in Buenos Aires, but his emotional state was completely different. Back then, Jim had been driven by looming panic and fear of isolation as much as his attraction for his savior.

Now, Jim just wanted to be closer to Bones, and the few words they'd exchanged outside carried the promise of happiness he'd never even thought possible a few months back.

“You see, I was rather looking forward to unwrapping my present myself,” Jim said, his pulse racing as he pulled the curtain aside to peek at Leonard, who had his back to him. Bones had always looked good, but he seemed a bit more bulky and had gained some muscle definition.

Jim's eyes roamed over Leo's body, watching the water splash over his broad shoulders and drip over his ass and down his long legs. This was the man Jim had missed so much, his chest ached when he thought of him. This was also the man who'd just professed his love outside, and now, he was here, in Jim's loft. The ache in his chest was long gone, replaced by a warm fluttery feeling. It was the best Jim had felt in months. As if a missing piece had just fit into place.

Jim cleared his throat.

Leonard turned around, his flat stomach and semi-hard cock coming into view. Smirking, he crooked a finger at Jim, silently inviting him in. Jim smiled and undressed, his movements clumsy in his haste. He carefully stepped inside the tub, and stood there for a moment, peering into Bones' hazel eyes, letting that warm feeling grow hotter still.

He took a step forward, his body only an inch away from Leonard. He let his body respond to Bones' proximity, his breath hitching and his pulse racing wildly. His desire for Leonard McCoy hadn't been blunted by the time they'd spent apart, but rather sharpened even more. He savored the moment, blood flowing to his cock, and arousal making him dizzy. Leonard reached for his face, holding it as he looked into Jim's blue eyes adoringly.

“I missed you so much,” Leo whispered, swallowing hard. Jim placed his hands over Leo's.

“I've waited for this,” Jim replied, sliding his hands down Bones' forearms and closing the distance between them. Jim slipped his hands over Bones' shoulders, pulling him closer, his chest pressing on Bones', groaning when their cocks became trapped side by side between their bodies. “Don't ever leave me like that again, Bones,” Jim said, tears prickling his eyes.

Still holding on to Jim's face, Leonard shook his head, his nose bumping into Jim's. “Never,” he promised, delicately kissing Jim's plush lips.

They stood there in the shower, kissing and running their hands over each other's slick skin until Jim tugged Bones from under the water, trading places with him as they kept making out.

“Turn around,” Jim said after pulling back.

As hard as it was to let go of Jim's lips, to part from him and the way their bodies perfectly fitted together, Leonard turned around. But not before a last slide of their wet cocks against each other, and another passionate, sloppy kiss.

Leo let Jim push him face first against the wall opposite the taps. The young man wasn't far behind; Leo felt the nip of Jim's teeth on his trapezius, his chest pressing flat against his back, and his hard cock rubbing against his ass before slotting into Leonard's cleft.

Jim tightened his hold around Leo's slim waist, making him gasp. Leo laid his cheek against the cool tiles, arching his back and pushing his ass out for Jim who was breathing hard against his shoulder blade.

“Jim...wait,” Leo breathed.

“No, Bones,” Jim growled. “Don't tell me there's time. I'm not even sure a lifetime would be enough for me to do all I've thought of doing to you in the past six months,” Jim breathed into Bones' ear as he slid his hard cock right between Leo's ass cheeks. “Go ahead. Tell me to slow down. Tell me you can wait for this,” Jim taunted as he let go of his shoulder to grab a hold of Leo's cock.

“Fuck,” Bones groaned. He could feel Jim's desperation in his grip and the urgency in his movements. He could hear Jim's arousal in his harsh breath and the roughness in his voice. Leo could also feel Jim's hand pumping him as his cock rubbed right against his asshole; Leonard's mind became clouded as more steam billowed around them. Jim was right. There was only now. And Leonard didn't want to wait anymore.

“Tell me to stop,” Jim insisted, sinking his teeth into the firm muscles of Leo's shoulder.

Leo's brain converted the pain into sparks of pleasure that radiated from the bite to his groin. He produced a shapeless moan before replying, “Don't stop, Jim. Please,” he begged.

“Wasn't going to,” Jim grunted before kissing the bite mark and looking down to watch the head of his cock as it popped from Leo's ass crack as he rolled his hips up. Leo was straining under Jim's ardor, muscles taut as he pushed back into Jim so he wouldn't just collapse against the wall.

Jim was already dizzy with lust, but when Bones begged him, he almost lost all control. Jim pressed his cheek to Bones' back, humping the perfect sheath formed by his lover's ass hard and fast as pleasure swelled within him. He felt his orgasm roll out, the first waves of it so intense, they made his vision whiten at the edges.

Leo felt Jim's cock twitch, he felt Jim's cum coat his ass crack as the kid moaned behind him. Jim's hand faltered around Bones' cock, the rhythm broken by the strength of Jim's release. He felt Jim's grip loosen, and then Jim's hand tugging at his hip in an effort to make Bones turn around.

Leo turned obediently and held on to the side wall. Jim dropped to his knees in a totally familiar way; this time Leonard didn't stop Jim. The young man used both hands on Bones' thick erection, jerking him off as he looked up at Leo's face. Jim's eyes glowed as they flicked from Leo's face to his cock, his cheeks flushed and his lips slightly parted. Leo thought Jim looked like an angel – a very naughty angel, but an angel nonetheless. He wasn't going to last long with the gorgeous kid kneeling before him; he'd thought about this countless times, each time scolding himself for carrying a torch for Jim, when the young man had moved on with his life. Leonard had never been so happy to be wrong.

Leonard reached back, and slid a finger down his own ass crack; it was slick with Jim's cum.

Bones' movement didn't go unnoticed. Jim groaned, obviously thrilled with this development. He kept one hand around Bones' cock, reaching between Bone's legs with the other hand. His fingers bumped into Bones'. Leo removed his hand, letting Jim do as he wished, threading his own fingers through Jim's wet hair. Jim used his own seed as makeshift lube, pushing one finger right inside Bones' asshole without any preamble.

“Fuck,” Leo swore when Jim's finger breached him, his cock instantly bursting in Jim's hand; the first jet of cum splattered on Jim's chin. Jim rushed to suck the tip of Bones' cock as the older man shook with more waves of pleasure, unwilling to miss another drop.

Leo arched his body as Jim pumped him dry, and swallowed every drop. He shuddered when Jim slipped his finger out of him and freed the glans of his softening cock from his lips. Leo wavered, his legs weak for the moment.

“Jim...” he said, brushing his thumb over Jim's temple letting all his love for Jim show. The feeling in his chest was so intense, his own body seemed too small to contain all of it, his eyes filled with tears. Jim smiled at him, holding his hand out so Leonard could help him up.

Jim wrapped Leonard in a tight embrace, holding the other man close as the water beat at his calves. “I know, Bones,” he whispered into Leo's ear.

**

They both slipped on boxers and t-shirts. After taking a bit off the edge with this preliminary shower tumble, they settled into Jim's small kitchen, where Leo ate Vina's sandwich as Jim spoke to him of the police academy and his relationship with his mother, which had went from rather cold to civil, and steadily evolved with time.

“It's not always easy, but she's trying hard to make amends. And it's not like I was an angel either, so...”

“I'm glad it's working out.” Leo said.

“I became a big believer in second chances since I was given my own,” Jim said.

“Lucky for me,” Leo quipped.

“How are things with your mom?” Jim asked.

Leonard related that his own mother had been sick, and that he'd rushed to her bedside, where they'd reconciled. He had also reconnected with his ex-wife, Pamela, and apologized to her. Thanks to some introspection guided by a good shrink, Leo has realized that a lot of the anger he carried with him was in fact directed at himself, for being a bad husband and for entertaining the thought of killing his own father.

Leo pushed his empty plate away. Jim put it in the sink and poured two more glasses of bourbon.

“Fuck, I missed you, Bones,” Jim blurted after setting Bones' glass on the table.

“Me too, kid,” Leonard replied, grasping Jim's wrist before the young man had a chance to sit down. Jim let himself be pulled onto Bones' lap. As he straddled Bones, Jim sipped his drink, Leonard huffing impatiently and taking away his drink. He slipped his hands inside Jim's t-shirt, fingertips roaming over Jim's back. Jim shivered, and buried his face into Bones' neck.

“I can hardly believe you're really here,” Leo said.

“Oh, I'm here, alright,” Jim quipped, nipping at Bones' trapezius to prove he was indeed real.

“I thought I'd never hold you again,” Leo went on as Jim kissed his neck.

“Well, you're holding me now,” Jim retorted, laying a line of small pecks along Bones' jawline until he reached his lover's lip. Jim rocked his hips with a soft moan as their lips connected. Just as on the gazebo earlier, both men quickly lost any sense of restraint, Jim eagerly grinding his cock against Bones', the chair creaking precariously under their combined weight.

Leonard cupped Jim's ass, and rolled his hips. His cock was already hardening. Jim threw his head back, so Leo kissed his throat, Jim's clean scent bringing back memories of the few times they'd shared a bed. Leo dragged his teeth over Jim's pulse; Jim moaned and hummed, Bones rocking his pelvis up at the sound.

Jim pulled back, breathless and his eyes darkened by desire as he stared at Bones. As if they had silently communicated, both men suddenly moved, Jim awkwardly climbing off Leonard, who rose to his feet even as Jim pulled him toward his bedroom. The glasses of bourbon remained on the table, forgotten.

As soon as they crossed the threshold, Jim turned around, Leonard walking right into him as he ducked his head to kiss Jim again.

The back of Jim's legs hit the side of the bed, and they toppled over, Bones falling awkwardly on top of Jim. Jim laughed, and Leonard smiled, the sound like wonderful music to his ears. He traced Jim's lips with his tongue and slipped his hand underneath Jim's shirt, the garment bunching under Jim's armpits as Bones caressed Jim's skin, and the muscles underneath it.

“Want you so bad,” Leo murmured against the corner of Jim's mouth, before licking at Jim pulse on his neck. Jim pawed at Bones' back to pull his t-shirt over his head. Why they even bothered getting dressed was a mystery.

“Want you too,” Jim replied. To show Bones just how much, he crawled away from for a moment to rummage through his nightstand drawer. He showed the lube and condoms to him.

“Are you sure?” Leo asked.

“More sure than I ever been in my life,” Jim answered. Bones nodded and Jim approached, handing over the goods to his lover. “I want you to fuck me.”

Earlier, in the shower and just before on the bed, they'd been in a frenzy. But this, Jim offering himself to be fucked by Leonard made him slow the pace down. He wanted to make this good for Jim.

Jim removed his own shirt, Bones taking care of Jim's boxers. Jim's cock had already sprung back to life as they made out on the bed, and it leaned, hard and gorgeous, against Jim's stomach. Bones lavished his cock with long slow licks, Jim's cock jumping after each one, the young man petting his hair.

Leo kissed and licked his way to Jim's hip, then all the way up his stomach and chest, stopping to lightly bite Jim's nipples. Jim grasped a handful of Bones' longer hair and pulled, guiding him into a kiss.

“Get me ready, Bones,” Jim said, unwilling to wait any longer to finally have Bones inside him. Leo got the lube, and then laid next to Jim, who spread his legs for him. Bones rubbed a slippery finger around Jim's asshole, keeping his forehead pressed to Jim's temple, watching Jim's face.

Jim wrapped his hand around Bones' wrist, coaxing him to penetrate him with his digit. Bones huffed, but he relented, his finger sinking into Jim's tight entrance without meeting resistance. Jim moaned, and flashed a self-satisfied smile before letting go of Leonard's wrist.

Leonard pulled at Jim's ring of muscle, stretching it carefully to prepare Jim. He wasn't exactly small, and he didn't want to hurt Jim.

“More,” Jim begged, his blue eyes dark with arousal.

Leo tried to add another finger. “Fuck,” Jim whimpered with a wince, his cock throbbing as Bones stretched his hole a little more.

“Sorry, I'll be more careful,” Leonard quickly apologized.

“No, Bones. Fuck me now. And fuck me hard. I want you to, I need you to.”

Leo tilted his head, to better see Jim's face. Jim's lips curled into that devilish smile Leonard hadn't seen in so long. Damn, he'd missed that. Since the beginning, Leonard had always striven to treat Jim as gently and carefully as possible, as if Jim would break if he'd just let loose all of his passion, all of his desire. He'd always feared to push him too far, to cross a line Jim wasn't ready to cross.

“Nero was a sick bastard who tried to crush my spirit and failed,” Jim said, as if he'd read Leonard's mind. “I refuse to let him fuck my shit up. I want this. I want you. I choose this, now, with you,” Jim pleaded.

Leo remembered Jim's admission, months ago. Hard and dirty. Was that what Jim was looking for now?

“Just fuck me,” Jim whispered.

“Jim...” Leo whispered. “I don't want to hurt you. Never.”

Jim cocked his head, and frowned slightly. Of course, Bones was still seeing him the same way he had been months ago.

“I appreciate the sentiment, but go ahead,” Jim insisted. Leonard bit his lip, staying still as he hesitated. Jim shifted, placing his palm over Bones' chest, firmly pushing him back flat on his back. Leonard let out a small gasp of surprise when Jim straddled him. Jim grabbed the condom, ripping the packet and unrolling it over Bones' erection with practiced ease. Then he found the bottle of lube and squeezed some in his palm, keeping his eyes on Bones' who was staring at Jim's hands dazedly.

Jim slicked Leo's cock and then scooted up. He added a bit of lubricant to his own hole then he reached back and placed the tip of Leonard's cock right against it. Leonard made to get up on his elbows, lips parted to kiss Jim, but Jim flattened him again, keeping him pinned down with a hand pressing hard on his sternum. Jim could hear Leo's harsh breath as his chest rose and fell under his palm. His hazel eyes were smoldering; he knew what Jim meant to do. He could see it in the young man's eyes; that wonderful deviousness that made Jim's eyes sparkle in a way that went straight to Leo's groin. He had pictured that same look in his mind for months, sometimes the mere thought of it making him hard.

Jim wiggled his hips and pressed down. Leo's cock head breached him. “Oh god...” Jim moaned, Leo again trying to rise, familiar concern appearing on his face.

Jim pushed Leo back down, harder this time, shifting his weight forward, and leaning over Leonard as he let the cock slip inside him, in a long, slow delicious slide. He hummed at the stretch, his eyes trained on Bones', who was trembling underneath him as he sank deeper into Jim's tight heat. Leo let go of the blanket to clutch Jim's thighs.

Jim hit bottom, the curve of his ass flush with Bones' hips, Bones' cock deep inside him. Jim rolled his hips, wanting to feel every inch of Bones' thick cock, Leonard groaning as the kid rotated his pelvis in small smooth circles. “Fuck, you're so...”

“What, Bones?” Jim asked. He knew Leo held back complimenting him, afraid to bring back bad memories. “Say whatever you want to say. Your words are not his words. Yours come from a loving place. I know the difference. I wanna hear everything you have to say, Bones.” Jim whispered, staying still.

Leonard swallowed hard. “You're so sexy, Jim. So pretty,” he murmured, Jim rewarding him with another roll of his hips.

“I'm not your patient anymore. You don't have to treat me like a broken thing,” Jim said in a hoarse whisper. “I know what I want, and I want to feel how much you want me,” Jim breathed in Leonard's ear. “I want you to make me scream.”

Leo hooked one hand behind Jim's neck, pulling him into a brutal kiss. Then he bucked as he held on to Jim's hips, rolling them over, deftly managing to stay buried inside Jim, Leo falling on top of Jim awkwardly. Jim was smirking, his eyes glinting with satisfaction, as Bones rearranged his limbs more comfortably.

“Don't look so damn happy with yourself, kid,” Leonard teased, giving Jim a quick, deep stroke that made Jim moan.

“Can't help it. I am happy,” Jim retorted. Bones smiled; he was happy too. He rocked his hips one time; Jim threw his head back and bit down his bottom lip.

Leonard leaned in so he could kiss Jim, starting to move with smooth, slow movements.

“Fuck me, Bones,” Jim begged as soon as Leonard released his mouth.

“Yeah, kid. I know. And I'll give it to you,” Leo promised. He would give it to him, because he was ready to do anything for Jim. “Just let me feel you for a second,” he whispered. “Can you do that for me?”

Jim nodded, pulling Bones back to him to taste his lips as Leonard started to move with long, smooth strokes.

Jim's ass was tight and hot around Leo's cock. Jim ran his hands over Bones' back, the drag of his blunt fingernails making the older man shudder. Jim whimpered and panted, meeting Bones' movements with his own. Jim was trembling with need underneath him, his motions impatient and eager. Driven by Jim's palpable impetuousness, despite his best intentions, Leonard fucked Jim faster, and harder, until it became difficult to continue to do so in this position. Leonard straightened up, kneeling between his lover's spread legs. He shimmied forward a bit, his cock still inside Jim.

Jim hooked one leg behind Leonard, urging him to move again. Bones wrapped his hand around Jim's free ankle, and felt compelled to kiss the sole of Jim's foot. He pressed his lips to the healed scars; Jim stopped pulling at Bones with his leg, his blue eyes misting over.

“Do you remember this?” Leo asked, keeping his eyes locked into Jim's, depositing small, moist kisses under each foot in turn, his cock fully sheathed into Jim's tight heat.

Jim swallowed hard, the memories from their first night together in that small motel making his throat too narrow. Jim had been scared out of wits that night, rattled by a panic attack. But now, as he looked back on that night, it was Bones whom he remembered most. Bones had been so sweet, so gentle, so understanding. It also had been an absolute thrill to seduce him. “I remember how you pulled me from the brink,” he finally says, Leonard letting go of Jim's ankles.

“I'm pretty sure it was the other way around,” Leo replied. The short time he'd spent with Jim had really been cathartic, opening his eyes to the fact that he'd given up, to the point of throwing his own life away at the first opportunity.

Jim squeezed his muscles, deliciously gripping Leo's cock. Leonard rocked his hips, his cock sliding almost completely out of Jim. He thrust back in, hard. Jim moaned, his eyes wide, as jolts of pleasure ran up his spine. “Yes,” he hissed. The single word was enough to spur Leonard on.

He gave Jim what he wanted. And Jim took everything he gave him. Jim's body shook every time Bones hit bottom, his cock bouncing on his stomach with each move. It was unbelievable. His mind became blank, the world falling away as Leonard let go and let loose of all his passion. His moves weren't polished, nor refined, - as Jim knew they could be - but they were strong and passionate. The mixture of pain and pleasure they caused was exactly what Jim needed at the moment.

Leonard tried to at least maintain some sort of rhythm. Sweat dripped from his forehead as he leaned into it, doing his best to give Jim what he wanted. That was all Leonard even wanted to do – to make Jim happy, to fulfill his every need for as long as Jim would allow. He leaned on one hand, grasping Jim's leaking cock with the other. Jim held on to the headboard; Leo slowed the pace down just a bit, Jim canted his pelvis, Bones' cock sending strong sparks of pleasure through him as it hit home.

Jim moaned, willing his eyes open to see Bones' face. “Fuck yes...Yes, yes, yes...” he hissed, delirious as Bones fucked his orgasm out of him.

Jim's cock burst in Leo's hand, throbbing as his semen pulsed out of it in long spurts that splattered his belly. Jim's ass gripped his cock in waves as he came, Leonard finally letting go as he watch Jim writhe in the throes of ecstasy. He stayed buried inside Jim, wracked with intense ripples of pleasure made better by the fact that he was inside Jim.

“Damn...” he huffed, the muscles in his legs suddenly weak, and his whole body buzzing from release.

Jim let go of the headboard, reaching to cup Bones' handsome face. “Damn right,” he replied with a smile.

With a quick wince, Leo shifted, holding to the base of the condom as he pulled out of Jim.

Jim tried to help, scrambling out of the way so Bones could lie down next him without too much difficulty. Bones collapsed next to him, limp, his hazel eyes closed. Jim watched him, committing the sight to memory: Bones' hard body, covered with sweat, still panting from the effort, his lips slowly curling into a knowing smile.

“I love you,” Leonard said, opening his eyes and finding Jim peering at him, just like he thought. Jim smiled back, wrapping his arm around Leo's middle.

“I love you, too” Jim replied, laying his head next to Bones'. He listened to his lover's breath, hearing it slow down and then even out. He curled his arm around him a little tighter and sighed. That night Jim Kirk had the best night's sleep in memory.

**

Leonard woke a little later, Jim still curled against him. By the blueish glow of the night light, Leonard could see the scars on Jim's back. Jim's skin had mended well, but pale marks were still visible. Like his wounds, Jim had healed well. Just like the scars on his back, the trauma would always be there, never forgotten and changing him forever, just as meeting Jim had changed his life.

When they'd met, they had both been damaged, made out of broken pieces held together by some miracle. Now, that they had healed some, the edges of those fragments were less jagged, and seemed to fit into each other like a jigsaw puzzle.

He ran a fingertip over one of Jim's scars, and shifted to gaze at Jim's face as he peacefully slept. The movement woke Jim, who snuffled into his pillow before cracking an eye open.

“Bones?”

“I was just thinking...” Leonard whispered.

“'bout what?” Jim mumbled sleepily.

“There's got to be a hospital in San Francisco that would hire an old country doctor, right?”