It's a rare Tuesday off for him.
Even rarer, Leonard has his daughter Joanna skipping next to him, as they make their way to the park. Not for the first time today, Leonard thanks whatever deity is listening for arranging the start of summer holidays, Jocelyn's conference in Spain, and a lack of dead bodies and demanding cops (more the cops than the bodies as there are always plenty of bodies) so that he can spend this day with Jojo.
Add to that the presence of sunshine a balmy temperature and a marked lack of fog and Leonard has promised to same deity to continue doing exactly whatever it is that's earned him such a surfeit of good luck.
"Daddy," Jojo exhales, wonder and awe in her voice. "Look, Daddy!"
Leonard ambles over to the storefront window Joanna's currently pressing her nose against and then grins at her star struck expression as she stares at the delicacies within.
"Which one you want?" he asks, ignoring the voice in the back of his mind that sounds suspiciously like his ex-wife, muttering all the while about processed sugar, white flour, and preservatives, let alone all of them this early in the morning.
"Really?" Jojo looks at him like he's been replaced by an alien before beginning to bounce. She grabs his hand as he nods at her. "Really? I can?"
"Don't tell your mother," he says and then grins at her giggles. "Let's go in and see what they have, shall we?"
He glances at the name of the bakery where it's etched into the glass door. Chez Enterpríse has to be the fakest French name for a bakery he's ever seen. Even worse, it claims to be a boulangerie as well as a pâtisserie. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned English? 'Bakery' could sum it up nicely, he muses.
"Daddy," Jojo breathes out, the wonder even more apparent as she squeals in delight at the rows of cupcakes iced prettily with the faces of Abby Cadabby, Irvine the Grouch, Elmo, and more Muppets than Leonard's ever even heard of. Back in his day, it'd only been Kermit, Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird and Ernie and Bert, and he'd been happy enough with them on all the scratchy, rabbit-eared goodness of television back then with none of this expanded cable and even more Muppets. Back then, Mister Hooper ran the store and that was that. None of this crazy Christmas Eve on Sesame Street for Jojo to learn just how awesome Mister Hooper was.
Muppets are looked over now for the sugary zoo sitting just below them, where the monkeys, lions, and elephants are staring out in a sea of temptation and candied sprinkles.
"Hello!" a young man with a Eurpean accent calls from behind the counter. "How may I help you?"
"Need a minute," Leonard says, as Jojo presses her nose up against the glass case once more. The place is extremely fancy and upscale, certainly not the sort of place that would appreciate little girl nose and fingerprints all over their chrome and glass. Tugging her back, he chastises her, "Jojo, it's rude to touch the glass."
"But, Daddy, look! There're monkeys!"
"You've decided, then? A monkey cupcake?"
"You want a Cookie Monster?"
"And a monkey!" Jojo exclaims, nodding emphatically as she bounces from foot to foot.
Leonard rolls his eyes and gives in. "What do you say?"
"Please, Daddy? May I have a monkey and a Cookie Monster?" She flutters her eyelashes at him. She's her mother's daughter.
He sighs, and turns to the young man. "We'll take a monkey, a Cookie Monster and a plain glazed donut, please."
"What did you say?" the young man behind the counter in a shocked tone, his eyes bulging.
"Aren't the cupcakes for sale?"
"Did you say…" the young man's voice trails off, the horror in his voice evident.
"I said: one monkey cupcake, one Cookie Monster cupcake, and one plain, glazed donut."
"Oh god!" The young man cries and hurries away, colliding with a coworker as he runs towards the back room.
"What did you do to Pavel?" the coworker demands. Leonard can only raise his eyebrows in question.
The overdramatic young man, who had stopped to lean up against the back wall looking tragic, answers for Leonard. "He wanted… he wanted -" Pavel turns, sounding horrified as he continues, "He said the 'D' word!"
"You said the 'D' word?" The other bakery worker glares at Leonard as if he's killed his dog.
"What 'D' word? 'Dammit'? I didn't say that, though I could. Right now. As in, 'Dammit, all I asked for was a couple of cupcakes and a donut! So, if I could just get my order, we could be on our way."
"Hikaru! Make him stop!" Pavel cries out, throwing a dramatic hand over his forehead.
"Does this mean that I'm not getting my cupcakes and donut?"
"Please don't say that word, again," Hikaru says, looking between Pavel and Leonard while Joanna watches as well, fascinated by the goings-on.
Pavel cries out once more and then slumps to the ground, fainting.
"You, you, you -" Hikaru stammers, and runs over to help his coworker.
"What the hell is going on here? What sort of bakery are you running?"
"Does this mean I'm not getting Cookie Monster?" Joanna asks as she looks over at the case and then to the men behind the counter before looking longingly at the cupcakes once more.
"Just a minute, Jo," Leonard says, looking over toward the two men. "Is he all right?"
"I don't know. I think he might've hit his head when he fell."
"Dammit," Leonard says, "Stay out here, Jojo; I need to see how Mister Pavel is doing."
"All right, Daddy."
He rounds the counter, and leans over to check on the histrionic young man, just as another comes out from the kitchen, and takes in the scene. "What's going on out here?" He asks.
"I have no clue," Leonard says as he takes Pavel's pulse and checks him for a head injury.
"Who are you, and what happened to Pavel?"
"I'm a doctor and your Pavel, passed out," Leonard says as he looks up
"Hikaru?" Pavel's eyes open as he moans. The man from the back crouches down beside them. Leonard makes brief eye contact with the newcomer before concentrating on his task once more.
"Pavel?" Hikaru responds.
Leonard, in the meantime, can't find a head injury and the young man's pulse seems normal. He sits back on his legs and watches the circus continue to unfold.
"He said… he said…" Pavel looks between them and shudders dramatically.
"Sulu?" the newcomer prompts.
Leonard watches as Sulu mouths the word 'donut' at the other man and shudders.
"This is all over me asking for a donut? Really?"
"Pavel doesn't like them so we don't carry them." the new man says, a smirk forming on his lips.
"They are an affront to bakers everywhere! They are insulting and plebian. They are nothing to do with us," Pavel stutters with an increasing agitation and flair while his accent thickens.
"Look, I'm sorry Mister -?" says the other man.
"McCoy, Leonard McCoy. Doctor McCoy."
"McCoy! Oh hey, how are you? Long time no see!" The young man from the back looks much friendlier than he had a moment ago.
"Sorry?" He cocks an eyebrow, wondering if he knows this person.
"Daddy?" Joanna pops her head around the corner. "Is he going to be all right?"
"Hey, who's this?"
"I'm Joanna. I'm seven." His daughter sounds much more polite than he would've been in the same situation.
"Did you make the cupcakes?"
"The ones I wanted before Mister Pavel fell over."
"Which ones are those?"
"Cookie Monster. And the monkey, I like monkeys."
"Those are definitely mine. The fancy ones are made by a friend of mine."
"Oh. So can I finally have one if Mister Pavel is done rolling around on the floor?"
Leonard barely keeps a snort in. He hears Pavel harrumph.
Jim chuckles. "Sure, which one you want?"
"I thought you said Cookie Monster," Leonard says, standing up and letting Hikaru hold up his coworker, who seems to be on the mend.
"I want Elmo, now. Please."
"One Elmo, coming up," Jim says, grinning as he stands up and then holds out a hand towards Leonard. "Since you don't remember me, I'm Jim Kirk. This is my bakery."
"Interesting place, with interesting people." Leonard doesn't even try to hide the condescension in his voice as he looks towards Pavel, but holds his hand out to shake Jim's anyways.
"Can I get you something?"
"A donut?" Leonard asks, smirking.
Pavel sighs dramatically, before sitting up and glaring at him. His voice belies the previous faint as he shouts, "Who do you think we are? Krispy Kreme? You want cheap coffee with it, too? Maybe you think you wandered into Dunkin' Donuts by mistake?"
"Maybe you could have an éclair, instead, Daddy?" Joanna asks.
Just as he is about to ask for something else, Jim gestures him to the side. "I've got a great muffin with your name on it."
"A muffin?" Standing, he follows Jim, ignoring the crowd that had formed around them.
"Sulu, you've got the counter," Jim orders as he reaches into the glass case and pulls out two muffins and a monkey and Elmo cupcake.
"I wanted Cookie Monster."
"Right. Cookie Monster. My mistake." Jim slides the Elmo cupcake back into the case and grabs Cookie Monster instead. "Come with me. There's a great table back here."
Leonard watches, amused, as Jim leads his daughter towards the back of the bakery. Sulu takes over serving the customers and Pavel continues to glare at him from behind the counter. It would take a stronger man than Leonard to resist miming the word 'donut' in Pavel's direction. The resulting cry makes him grin as he heads toward the table where Jim is chatting with her about cartoons, her face and hands already covered in blue icing.
"Caillou is for little babies," Joanna says as she stuffs more Cookie Monster cupcake in her mouth.
"I think he's pretty cool." Jim smiles.
"I like Spongebob."
"You let her watch Spongebob?" Jim asks him as he sits down and grabs one of the muffins.
"Her mother does."
"I live with my mama. Daddy just gets to see me when she's stuck going somewhere else and Gram can't watch me." Joanna happily babbles, her mouth still full of cake. For his part, Leonard calmly and methodically peels the paper back from his muffin while deliberating the merits of homicide and his ex-wife, not to mention anyone who is in earshot of his daughter's offhand comments that sear him to the bone. Unfortunately, his thoughts are interrupted.
"Oh," Jim says blankly, and Leonard barely resists the urge to punch his sympathetic face. He's fairly certain he's never before met this man and he's suddenly very angry that his private life has now been put on display like so much of Jim's wares at the front of the bakery. He grimaces as he forces the now seemingly sandpaper dry muffin in his mouth.
Jojo goes on as if nothing's wrong. "Mom's a paleontologist. That means that she studies dinosaurs. She's really smart."
She then launches into a discussion on the various types of dinosaurs while Jim appears to be fascinated, now eating the other muffin. Leonard finds himself watching the man as he breaks off little pieces of the muffin, nibbling them, his tongue darting out to catch the crumbs from his fingers. It's fascinating to watch. Too fascinating. Hell and damnation, what is he doing with his tongue? Leonard suddenly finds himself getting hard watching the display; everything this man is doing seems teasing, almost as if he wants to make Leonard hot. He finds himself dragging his eyes away and focusing on his daughter – his daughter - Good god! Sitting right here, between the two of them.
"Daddy's taking me to the park. Want to come?" Joanna asks as she shoves the last of the cupcake into her mouth.
"Jojo," Leonard starts to say and then finds himself at a loss as to how to explain that she can't just go about inviting strangers along on their days.
"Can't, kiddo, sorry about that. Got to work. How about you come back tomorrow, though, and I'll have whatever you," Jim pauses to look at Leonard, "and your daddy want for breakfast? What do you say?"
"Can we come back, Daddy?"
Leonard looks from Joanna's hopeful face to find a disturbingly similar expression on Jim's face. Still, he purposefully pauses to take another bite of the muffin before giving in to the inevitable and nodding. "Sure, if that's what you want."
"Thanks, Daddy!" Jojo hugs him and then lunges out of her chair to kiss his cheek, smearing blue icing all over him, naturally.
"So, Joanne, what kind of cupcake would you like when you stop by tomorrow?"
"Dora the Explorer!"
"I'll see what I can do," Jim says. He looks at Leonard. "What about you?"
"A donut. A plain, glazed donut."
"You're a hard man to please, Leonard McCoy." Jim's grinning as he says it, and Leonard smirks back.
"Actually, another one of these muffins will be fine. It was good."
"High praise, indeed," Jim says, rolling his eyes and reaching out to snag the last piece of Leonard's muffin. Leonard grabs his wrist, calmly putting Jim's hand back on the other side of the table.
"Don't even think about it."
Jim only smiles and Leonard's heart trips a beat at the way that the grin fills Jim's face making Leonard wistful for a moment, remembering what it was like to smile so easily, to be happy for no reason. Gruffly, he commands Jojo, "Come on, let's get you cleaned up and let Jim get back to work."
Joanna agrees with a smile as she stands up and then curtseys to Jim. "Thank you, kind sir, for the cupcake." With that little show, she's off to the bathroom by herself, leaving Leonard to wonder how he can get his wallet out of his back pocket without ending up with blue icing smeared on his ass.
"How much do I owe you for the muffins and cupcake?" Leonard asks, distracted while he searches for a napkin.
"Don't worry about it." Jim starts to clear off the table.
"But, surely – "
"Seriously, man, don't worry about it. Your company more than paid for it. Besides, there's nothing quite like getting to watch a cute kid eat one of my creations. Makes it all worth while." Jim pulls a napkin out of God-knows-where and then wipes Leonard's hands off.
"Got a bit on your face. Let me," Jim says before he leans in and wipes across Leonard's face, holding his jaw immobile while staring with fierce concentration.
Leonard wonders idly if Jim bakes with this kind of concentration. Or fucks. Oh, what the hell! He goes to move away, but Jim tightens his grip, making his face tilt, then wipes across the corner of his lips. "I think I got it all." Jim states, satisfied.
"Thanks," he says, embarrassingly breathy.
"Welcome," Jim says, just as feebly. But Jim hasn't let go of Leonard's face, something that becomes uncomfortable to Leonard only as Joanna tugs at his hand to get his attention.
"You ready to go, Daddy? I want to fly kites."
"Dunno if it's windy enough for kites today, honey," Leonard says, and before he can say goodbye they're out the door. His face burns with the touch of Jim's hand as he turns back to look at the bakery.
Joanna notices him looking and tugs at his hand again. "We're coming back tomorrow, right?"
"I don't know, honey."
"It's rude if we don't."
"Jim's promised to make me a Dora cupcake. Someone promises to make you something special; you eat it all even if you don't like it." It's obvious that she's parroting his words back at him. He can still remember urging her to eat her pawpaw's lima bean casserole at that last birthday party before the divorce.
"You're right, Jojo. We'll come back tomorrow."
"Good," she says and then hurries them towards the park.
Leonard's thoughts are on Jim for the rest of the afternoon, like an itch he can't scratch. Then he remembers – he'd never asked how Jim knew him.