Chapter 1: In the Beginning. Sort of.
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 Jojo looks at him like he's been replaced by an alien before beginning to bounce.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.
"Daddy?" Joanna's voice wakes him early in the morning.
"What do you want?" he asks, though it comes out sounding more like "Mphwhrdduwan?". He's never claimed to be a morning person, after all.
"Can we go see Mister Jim, now?"
"Isn't it a little early?" Leonard struggles to get out from his bedcovers.
"But he said he'd have a cupcake for me," Joanna says pleadingly, then crawls into bed with him. He's barely shifted to make room for her when she wedges herself in under his arm.
"Can't have cupcakes for breakfast every day. You want to end up being as wide as you are tall?"
"No, Daddy, nooooo," she says.
"We'll go after lunch, promise. Until then, let's get a bit more sleep, kay?"
Leonard has just enough time to start drifting back to sleep before Joanna slips out of bed and scampers back to the guest room. Punching his pillow, he mutters to himself and tries once more. Unfortunately, loud banging interrupts his sleep a few, too-short moments later. As he punches his pillow again, he hears a crash and a plaintive cry of "Daddy!".
He's up and out of bed before he even realizes, running towards the guest room where his daughter lies trapped and crying underneath boxes from the closet. "Jojo? You all right?"
He tugs the boxes away from her and then checks her over completely. She keeps crying, quiet little sniffles as she burrows into his chest. Physically, she's all right and he suspects it's more out of embarrassment or being caught, but Leonard can't help the way that his heart continues to race as she finally quiets down
"What in blue blazes were you doing?"
"Wanted to see the pictures, Daddy."
"The ones of you and me when I was little." Joanna's thumb starts towards her mouth and then she stares at it before yanking it away violently from her mouth. Instead, she curls her fists into his damp t-shirt.
"Baby, you could've asked. I would've shown them to you." He doesn't say that he still thinks of her as little. She's getting too big for that, too big for pet names like 'baby'.
"But you were sleeping, and I know they're in one of these boxes."
"Jojo, you ever want to see anything like that, you tell me and I'll show it to you. Please don't ever scare me like that again."
Her voice is small as she says, "Alright, Daddy. Promise."
"Good," he says and then strokes his hand down her hair to rub soothingly along her back.
"I'm all right now, Daddy, you can let me go."
"I'm not all right, though. You scared me."
"Know what would make you feel better?"
Her voice goes impish and Leonard's instantly suspicious but he's just too happy that she's not hurt so he says, "Hugging you? Yeah, it makes me feel lots better."
"No, Daddy, I'd bet one of Mister Jim's cupcakes would make you feel better."
"Oh it will, will it?" he asks as he shifts his hands so he can tickle her. "I highly doubt that."
"Daddy, you gotta try it to find out! Experimentation!" she says through the giggles as he tickles her harder and harder. By the end, she's squirming and trying to both get closer to him and further away. Her little hands dig into his sides and he laughs, not because of the tickling, but because of the sheer joy of having his daughter with him. He silently thanks Jocelyn's poor timing once more. He hopes she's enjoying Spain.
Then, they're out of breath and she's lying on top of him by the end of the tickle war. "We'll go after lunch, baby. I thought maybe you'd want to see where your dad works."
"Are there going to be dead bodies?"
"Cool!" She pauses for just a moment and then asks, "Can I touch one?"
"Joanna Elizabeth McCoy! Where did you learn that sort of language?!" He picks her up, sitting up as he sets her down in one motion. He glares at her.
"Oh," he says and there isn't much else he can say in response. "Well, don't ever say that in front of your mother or your Gram, you hear me?"
"Okay, Daddy. Are you going to shower before we go? You have bristles." She rubs her hand along his chin to make her point.
"You're right. Can I trust you not to spill any more boxes on yourself?"
"I'll even clean this up, Daddy."
"All right, just no more climbing up and dragging more stuff on top of yourself. I'll only be a few minutes," he says, standing up to head to the door. "If anything's too heavy, you leave it for me."
"Duh! Now hurry up cause the sooner we finish at your work, sooner we can get Dora cupcakes!"
"Who's Dora?" his head baker, Scotty, asks.
"She's the little explorer. She's constantly picking up things that her monkey swipes. She does a wonderful job of teaching children to expand their limits, learn other languages and embrace diversity," Gaila answers instead from her perch at another table. One of her intricate wedding cakes sits on the table in front of her.
"Och, well then, ever so sorry I've not seen such a newfangled show. Back in my day –" Scotty begins saying but Gaila interrupts him.
"Yes, yes, back on Planet Scotland, they had black and white images of little men in kilts running around teaching kids how to say 'och' and eat intestines. It was great for putting hair on the chest and blue paint on the face," she interrupts him.
"Now, look here, Miss Sassy Pants New Age Hippie Wannabe," Scotty says, turning around to face her and waving a spatula threateningly in her direction, "I wasna going to say that. I was going to say that we didn't have Dora and as I have no wee ones, I haven't seen any of the shows."
"That's no excuse. You need to get to the toy section more often."
"I'll have you know – "
"For more than just your dolls."
"They're no' dolls! They're action figures."
"Whatever. 'Action figures' is just boyspeak for Barbies."
"Did you just say that Luke Skywalker is the same as Barbie?"
"Yep," she says, grinning at him around the elegant, four-layered, square cake.
Jim, forgotten in all their verbal tennis, just watched with a smile. From previous experience, he knows better than to interrupt his lead bakers as they go off like this. Instead, he sits, waiting, for a lull so he could interject.
"Since you're familiar with Dora, Gaila, do you mind taking a look?" Jim asks once they draw breath.
"Sure, Jim, just a moment," Gaila says as she puts another exact line down the side of the cake. Jim watched her finish her work, still always amazed that her wild, free-spirited temperament and appearance belied her meticulous and exacting skill as a decorator.
Once the piping's finished to her satisfaction, she sets aside her icing bag to come over and look over Jim's cupcakes.
Tilting her head, she says, "Her nose is off."
"That's what I thought."
He grabs another cupcake and tries again. He's using a source picture, and he knows that this cupcake will be acceptable, but he wants a perfect one to offer to Joanna, when she (hopefully) comes with her Dad to get her promised Dora the Explorer.
"That's the one," Gaila says at his last attempt.
"Great! I'll put it to the side. Don't let anyone sell this one, okay?" He grabs a box and then carefully sets the cupcake inside. "Scotty, any of the muffins ready yet?"
"Aye, aye, captain, just waiting and ready for you."
"You didn't make 'em all crazy, did you?"
"Butter pecan muffins, just as you asked." Scotty sounds offended and Jim grins in his direction.
"You're the best, Scotty." Jim hurries over to box up three of the muffins with the cupcake. "Make sure all of these stay right here, all right?"
"Aye, aye, captain," they both say with flippant salutes and then go back to what they've been doing.
Just then, Jim hears Pavel yelling about donuts once more and Jim's grin spreads further across his face.
When he'd refused to recommend her to her chosen program (Linguistics? With that mind? She had deserved so much better than a fine arts degree. She deserved Business Administration), she'd burned him with her passion for her case. Eventually, however, she had acquiesced to his recommendation that he sponsor her into the Business Administration program with a focus on International Business and Relations and Linguistics. He'd only been too happy to do it. When she'd been accepted, she'd invited him to her apartment, cooked him dinner, and then stolen what little bit of his heart he'd been able to keep from her.
Spock found that he hadn't been able to regret that moment nor the thousand and one moments that have come since. If he were a man prone to smiling, he would not only be smiling, but whistling as he enters Nyota's office at Chez Enterpríse.
As it stands, however, he is not that sort of man and, thus, he walks in to her office and greets her with a sedate, "Good afternoon, Nyota."
"Good afternoon," she says in reply as she stands and circles around her desk to press a light kiss to his cheek. "Ready to go over the tax filings?"
The serenity of numbers quickly fills the room as they discuss the quarterly tax filings and then move on to a discussion of the current payroll budget. Spock understands that Kirk is under quite a bit of pressure to hire the best but, with the current demands, they would quickly outstrip the projected budget and cut too far into the profits for either Spock or Nyota's comfort.
They discuss the possibilities of adding additional staff to meet the needs, with fewer accoutrements and expertise, and therefore able to work for less. Perhaps students to work the counter for the summer. From there, it's easy to transition to other accounting details in the upcoming month that they need to budget for properly.
As they speak, Nyota gets passionate about the new marketing plan she's about to implement and instead of listening, he finds that his eyes track the flow of her fingers as she gestures grandly and delicately. He watches the way that she smiles at the website improvements. She looks down, her hair cascading to cover her face, then he watches as her beautiful fingers take hold of the hair and tug it lightly before tucking it behind one ear. She looks up at him as her finger plays with the shell of her ear and he realizes that she's asked for his input.
"I'm sorry, if you could please repeat your query?" he asks. "I'm not certain I have all the pertinent details."
"I was wondering if you could work up some numbers on the possibility of some television spots for me for the next meeting?" she asks and releases her ear only to have tendrils drift back across her face. Spock watches her huff a quick breath and then tuck the tendrils behind her ears once more. "I've worked up a tentative idea for a commercial, and would like to see if it's feasible within the budget."
"Are sales not satisfactory at this time?" It's a rhetorical question. Of course Kirk would like to improve his sales numbers. Spock asks only to keep her talking. She's so passionate about this marketing push that he is reminded once more of when they first met.
"They are, but there's always room for improvement, particularly in this market. We have a specialty to offer: Gaila's five-star cakes coupled with Scotty's old-style country baking, and we can exploit that. I was thinking we should focus our advertising in local television, which will lure people in with the visuals so much more than radio or newsprint." Nyota smiles, her eyes lit up with excitement. Spock can only stare while she continues, "So, if you could get me some predictions on the cost-benefit ratio and a prediction of the increase in sales versus increase in staff for the next meeting…" her voice trails off and he simply nods in response.
"Of course. It will be done," he says and then gestures towards the door. "If we are finished, would you care to take a break for a pastry? I understand that Chez Enterpríse has a delectable assortment of brioche," Spock says, as if he doesn't get the brioche every time he comes in to see her.
"I would be delighted." She stands before the words are finished and offers her arm. Spock takes it and, feeling daring, quickly busses her cheek. Her tone is teasing as she asks, "If only I could tell everyone that a little brioche is all it takes to soften you up."
"You would not dare," he says evenly. She smiles at him. "It is not the pastry, but the company," he says, holding the door open for her.
"You wonderful man," she responds and kisses his cheek as they head towards the bakery.
"You are a vile, depraved man," Pavel says with a grimace from behind the counter.
"He is not! Daddy's only teasing you. You do know what teasing is, right?" Joanna steps to defend his honor, though Leonard is pretty sure she doesn't even know what those words mean. He grins at her before turning back to Pavel.
Pavel continues to grimace.
"Look, sorry I didn't realize you'd take it so personally. We'll just leave." Leonard turns to go, doing his best to ignore the way that Joanna looks crestfallen at not getting her cupcake. It's all she's talked about since they'd left his work. It's also the only way that he'd been able to get her to put her new toetag on her backpack instead of on her finger.
"No, sir, please, stay. You can't do that," Sulu says as he holds up a hand to both hold up Leonard and wave Pavel's complaints off. "Let me go get Jim."
"Already here. You tormenting my staff again?" Jim comes through the door and grins at them. Leonard ignores the way his pulse picks up just as he ignores the way that his eyes follow Jim's hands as he gestures grandly. "We'll have no more of that, sir. Pavel's a great asset to this bakery. Without him, we'd be lost."
"Without him, you'd have the 'D' word and I'd be eating one," Leonard responds dryly.
"Hi, Mister Jim!" Joanna interrupts, holding out her hand. Jim immediately takes it and gives it a firm shake.
"Well, hello, Miss Joanna. How are you this fine day?"
"I had some boxes fall on me but Daddy dug me out and patched me up."
"Oh yeah?" Jim looks up at Leonard, raising his eyebrows in a clear question. Leonard braces for recrimination, but it never comes.
"Yeah, Daddy was really mad at me for climbing the boxes and stuff but I wanted to see the pictures. I'm supposed ta wait from now on."
"That's a good plan." Jim grins up at Leonard, who returns it.
"Yep, Daddy's good at plannin'." Joanna nods, a quick, decisive up and down shake, and then looks at the glass display. Jo puts her hands on her hips. "Where's Dora?"
"She's waiting for you. I don't make Dora cupcakes for just anyone, you know."
"Can I see her?"
"Sure thing, I'll go get her. Why don't you and your dad head to our usual table?" Jim gestures towards the table they'd sat in the day before.
"Our usual?" He smirks.
"Yep," Jim and Joanna respond in harmony.
Leonard is still pondering the concept of a 'usual' table as Jim disappears into the back and Joanna grabs his hand and drags him to the table. She sits in the chair facing the kitchen, so she can watch as her treats come out, maneuvering him in the chair opposite. Leonard takes a moment to be disappointed that he can't watch, then he decides he prefers to keep his self-respect by not getting turned-on with his daughter at the table. Also, his time with his daughter is so short nowadays, he'd much rather spend his time watching her.
It's a joy to watch how excited she is. He's half-tempted to chastise her, ask her to sit like a little lady but, he figures he can spoil her this once. Her sudden stillness signals to Leonard that Jim's on his way back. He focuses on Joanna, smiling as her face lights up, but his mind is still wandering as it imagines Jim walking up.
"Well, Miss Joanna, I hope that this is to your liking," Jim says as he sets down a box on the table. There's a woman with Jim, and she's got the brightest red hair he's ever seen. She's holding a second box. "Gaila helped me with them. Gaila, meet Miss Joanna and Miss Joanna's dad, Doctor Leonard McCoy."
Leonard stands up and holds out his hand, waiting while she puts the box down, then gives her hand a shake. "Pleased to meet you."
"Oh, no, it's my pleasure," she purrs as she puts her other hand on top of his, trapping it. "You're better looking than I'd imagined."
"Oh yeah? How's that?" Leonard blushes. He can't help it.
"Well, after Jim told me about running into you again after your plane ride – " she doesn't get to continue as she's interrupted by a shorter man hovering behind them.
" Jim! You're not supposed to be sharing things with her that you don't share with me! That was the deal! How'm I supposed to do m'job without having all the details?"
"Scotty, I don't see why a story about a plane ride from Iowa to San Francisco would've helped out with making the muffins," Jim says as he shakes the box.
"Plane ride?" Leonard's mostly just confused, now.
"Yeah, about three years ago? Didn't you wonder how I knew your name yesterday? I've got a talent for faces and patterns and things. I stole your seat, you grumped at me. I'm sure you don't remember." Jim's speaking rapidly, his face a picture of affected regret and that's when the memory does hit him.
~ Three years earlier~
To say that Leonard McCoy isn't happy today is a bit of an understatement. In point of fact, he's completely grumpy, irascible and annoyed. Though many would say it's a normal day for him, he would disagree. Vociferally. Not just because he's currently fumbling his way down the aisle of an airplane trying to find his assigned seat (a degrading event, as planes are the one time that adults can treat other adults like they're all in kindergarten again), but today's he's leaving his daughter, his medical practice and life behind. No, it is definitely not a normal day for him.
Of course, when he finally trips up to his seat, there's someone else in it. Typical. "You're in my seat." He growls as he stuffs one of his carry ons above them.
"I like window seats better," the other man says. He doesn't make any attempt to move.
"It's just too bad that you don't happen to get to sit in this one, then," Leonard says as he gestures for the man to get out of his seat.
"Well, it was worth a try." The other man shrugs, gets out of the seat and waits while Leonard arranges himself properly. Once Leonard has his other bag stowed under the seat in front of him, legs bent awkwardly because airlines are made for kindergarten sized people, too, certainly not full-grown adults that are slipping towards middle-aged faster than one can say "hypothalamus", the man slides into the middle seat and then flashes Leonard a grin. "Don't fly well, do you? These things are pretty safe."
"Don't you pander to me, kid. These things are crashes waiting to happen. One little breach in the hull and those airbags don't drop fast enough and we'll all be breathing our last. That's if the depressurization doesn't make our heads explode or our blood burst in our veins. One little clot forms in our legs and bam!, we're dead from a heart attack or an aneurysm."
"Huh," the man says and watches as Leonard fumbles for the flask that he'd filled at the airport bar. Overpriced bourbon is still bourbon. And bourbon makes the flight easier. The man is still smiling at him, and it's obvious that he wants an invitation to get to know one another.
"McCoy, Leonard McCoy," he finally acquiesces, holding his free hand out.
The man shakes his hand, and replies, "James Kirk. You can call me Jim."
Leonard gestures with the flask and Jim takes his offer, grabbing it to take a swig. They are ordered to fasten their seatbelts while the flight attendant drones on about ridiculous things like 'emergency exits' and 'flotation devices'. As if. They'd never survive long enough to even remember these convoluted instructions as they would all be busy screaming or flailing.
He tenses as the engines rumble louder than before and the plane pushes back. "I might throw up on you."
In some reality, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship. In others, this would cause Jim to shift violently away from him while handing him the barf bag. In this one, it merely makes Jim spit out Leonard's prized and over-priced bourbon and start choking, delaying the flight on the runway as the flight attendants panic at Jim's wheezing and choking. Leonard could help, being a doctor and all, but he can tell that Jim's milking it for all he can as the flight attendants brush his hair and pat him. Leonard never plans on forgiving Jim Kirk for making this hell go on longer than he'd ever wanted.
"Huh." It's all Leonard can think of to respond with. He remembers, all right. The bastard.
"Mister Jim," Joanna breathes out, making each syllable into three. "Miss Gaila!"
"Yeah, sweets?" Gaila asks as they all turn to stare at Joanna.
"It looks just like her! Oh Mister Jim, you're the best!" Joanna launches herself off the chair and against Jim's legs, hugging them tightly. She lets go and repeats the exuberant hugging with Gaila. "Thank you thank you thank you thank you!" This all happens faster than Leonard can react, his mind still on a three year old memory. He really should tell her not to hug random people like this.
"Hey! I did most of the work. Gaila just looked it over!" Jim says and Joanna gives him another hug.
"I supervised the whole thing," the other man says, his brogue thick. "And I don't even rate an introduction. This is the thanks I get?"
"Sorry, sorry, Scotty. Leonard, meet Montgomery Scott, my lead baker. Scotty, meet Dr. Leonard McCoy, and his daughter, Joanna."
As he shakes Scotty's hand, Leonard barely hears Gaila say, "See? Jim does like me better."
"Och! Shut it!" Scotty gestures towards the other box. "Muffins are my creations."
"I'm sure they're excellent."
"Well, they aren't pink and extra sweet but I do what I can. Some of us are more concerned with what's in the food rather than what's on top of the food. Looks don't hold up and then you're left with rubbish caftans and crazy red hair and no substance."
"You're still pissed I called 'em dolls, aren't you?"
"And so what if I am?"
"Look, if it will get you over your pout, I'm sorry I called Luke Skywalker the same as Barbie. Really, I'm very, very sorry."
"Luke's not at all like Barbie! Mister Scotty's right." Joanna interrupts. "All Barbie does is wear stupid clothes and shop. Luke's brave and smart and cool and really good with a lightsaber!"
Leonard watches Jim gape at the way that Joanna leaps to Luke's defense while beaming proudly. Yep, he might not get his girl more than a few days a year but she's certainly not forgotten the way they'd both bonded over Luke, Leia and Han. He knows his ex has waged a war on Joanna's tomboy streak by making her wear frilly things and buying her Barbies and the like, but it's his little girl they're talking about.
"See, that's what I'm talking about, missy," Scotty says and reaches out a hand.
"And you, sir, aren't being very nice to Miss Gaila. She can like whoever she wants! 'Sides, Wedge is better'n Luke anyway. Who blew up not one but two Death Stars? Not Luke, no sirree! And who saved Luke's butt too many times to count? Who did a really cool flying thingy where he flew through the Tie Fighter he just blew up? Not Luke. Heck no, that's all Wedge. He's the greatest pilot of the Rebellion and the Republic!"
Oh yeah, there's his girl. Leonard pats her on the back and grins at the assorted lot.
"I must agree with the young child's assessment of the participants in Star Wars. There are many heroes, many of whom were unsung. Wedge Antilles was the better pilot."
"Who're you?" Joanna peers over Leonard's shoulder suspiciously.
"He's Spock," Jim says before turning to Scotty and Gaila. "You and you," he gestures, "back to the kitchen. And you and you," he says to Spock and his companion, "brioche is on the prep counter."
"Slavedriver," Scotty says but he's smiling so Leonard figures that he's only kidding. "Pleasure meeting you both."
"Scares me to agree with Scotty on anything, but it really was a pleasure to meet you both. I look forward to seeing you in the future." Gaila sketches a curtsy, making Joanna laugh.
Leonard thanks them both, and Gaila peers over Leonard's shoulder to says, "Good to see you, too, Mister Spock."
Leonard turns and sees Spock's companion, a beautiful woman who introduces herself. "I'm Uhura. This is Spock. I'm glad you decided to stop by again."
"Not the time or the place, Uhura," Jim says before Leonard can ask what she means.
"We shall leave you to your snack," Spock says as he inclines his head, and holding Uhura's elbow, he escorts her away towards the brioche.
"Interesting crew you have, here."
"Yeah, they're the best."
After Joanna slides back into her seat, Jim and Leonard sit, their knees bumping into one another due to the small table. His first instinct is to pull back but Leonard keeps his knee where it's at, enjoying the way that Jim's knee pushes against his. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Jim looking at him and then towards the muffins and then, once more, back at him.
Leonard reaches for the box of muffins at the same time as Jim, their fingers brushing against one another. Unable to help himself, he pulls back rapidly, almost knocking the box over. It's his turn to look at Jim, back at the muffins and then back at Jim. Jim's wearing a smirk and Leonard wants to wipe it off his face, preferably with his lips. And, yep, there goes his self-respect as his cock starts responding to the mental images. At least he keeps enough of it to remain stationary in his seat rather than squirm to try to relieve the tightness. He doesn't know what's wrong with him, that's he so attracted to this stranger so quickly. Christ, his daughter is here and it's a goddam bakery. He shakes his head as he grabs a muffin with resolve.
"So, Joanna, other than having boxes fall on you, how's your day going so far?" Jim asks, turning away from him for a moment, thank God.
"It's great! Daddy and I went to fly kites and then we hung out at the park for a long time and then we went to some stupid museum to see some stupid paintings but that was all right because then Daddy cooked me lunch and then he took me to see the dead bodies at his work. It was awesome. Wanna see my toetag?"
"Your what?" Jim looks at Leonard as he stutters over the words. "You went to see dead bodies?"
"Yeah, Daddy plays with dead bodies all day. You think Dora would mind if I ate her face first? Or should I go for her hair? I don't know if I'd want somebody eating my hair first. You ever wonder about how chocolate bunnies feel when you start gnawing on 'em?"
"I thought you were a doctor?"
"I am." Leonard waits. He loves this part.
"Then, um, what's up with the dead bodies?" Right on cue. Yep, Jim Kirk might think he's unpredictable but the dead bodies thing gets everyone. Every time.
"I'm a Medical Examiner. Chief Medical Examiner of San Francisco, if you want to get technical about titles."
"Whoa, that's cool."
"It's a job," Leonard says though he can't help the thrill that Jim's awe gives him.
"So you could be on CSI and shit?" Jim asks and then slaps a hand over his mouth. "I mean, stuff. That's totally what I said. Stuff."
They both look - Joanna doesn't care, she's too busy gnawing on Dora's ear.
"It's a lot less exciting and a lot more boring. Plus, I'm not an actor."
"Boring? CSI is awesome, surely some of it is true?"
"No, as it's utterly ridiculous tripe." Leonard doesn't admit that he has CSI:Miami TiVoed. That would only encourage Jim's idiocy.
"Nothing at all, huh?"
"Not even close." Leonard decides to turn the tables on Jim. "I'm certain your job isn't like Ace of Cakes."
"Oh man, Duff is awesome, isn't he? He's like a superstar of baking. But, I'm cooler and better looking, though."
"Of course you are. More modest, too," Leonard says dryly, grabbing a piece of the muffin and moaning at the way that the flavor bursts over his tongue.
"They're awesome, aren't they? Scotty's the greatest." Jim pauses, looks around quickly and then adds, "Unless it's Gaila that's the greatest. They share the title of 'greatest.'"
"Your crew is very interesting."
"Yeah, they are."
"Here, Jojo, want some?" Leonard offers up a piece of his muffin.
"Thanks, Daddy but I'd really like another cupcake." She turns her big blue eyes on Jim and Leonard sees Jim's resistance melt under the onslaught.
"No, Joanna. You'll ruin your dinner. Save some for later, maybe." Leonard gives her his best stern Daddy face.
"Oh man, I know this awesome place just down the way that makes the best pizza ever. We should totally go!"
"Ooh, pizza!" Joanna crows and Leonard knows his day is sunk.
"Won't take me a minute to box these back up and put them in the fridge fo you. Pizza it is. What's your favorite toppings, Little Jo?" He's like a steam train, Leonard can't keep up.
"I'm not little. I'm seven." Joanna rolls her eyes and, in a testament to her father, raises eyebrow just about to her hairline.
"Right. I got it, Jo Bear." Jim smirks.
"I'm not a bear."
"Course not, Jomalamadingdong."
"Mister Jim!" she says, giggling.
"You're being silly."
"I know, isn't it awesome? Come on, kiddo, let's get this stuff stashed." As the pair of them stand up, Leonard stays seated, crossing his arms and waiting for them to realize. It doesn't take that long. "Right, Len? Pizza, your choice and my treat?"
"I guess I'm outvoted." And what the hell is he doing anyway? Why is he agreeing to dinner with Jim? One more glance at the twin looks of glee informs him of exactly why he's agreeing to this. Heaving a somewhat dramatic sigh, he states, "You're buying me a mushroom and onion pizza."
"No way. We're totally having meat lovers."
"Green peppers and sun-dried tomatoes."
"Pepperoni and extra cheese!" Joanna exclaims, "And we can have green peppers, too, but no sun-dried nothings, Daddy."
It's short work to repackage the sweets, stow them and avoid Pavel's glares. Sulu, on the other hand, makes a point of waving them off. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do. I'll tell Uhura you're out for the rest of the day."
Once they're outside, Leonard's brain catches up. Feeling a little steam-rolled, it helps that Jim's walking slightly ahead of him, talking with Joanna, and Leonard can watch the way that Jim's ass sways from side to side. He's definitely got a strut, though subtle. But as they walk a little further, he notes that it's more of a self assured stride. He notice the way that Jim is constantly checking on Joanna, ensuring that she doesn't get too far away from him and putting himself between her and some of the street vendors. Every once in awhile, he turns and grins at Leonard over his shoulder, a quick grin that makes his pulse catch and race.
"Here we are, the best pizza on the face of the planet," Jim says as he opens the door with a flourish. "Risa's got the best food. Plus, they have like every arcade game you'd ever want to play ever. I'll whup you later at Missile Command."
"What, are we back in the 80s?"
"Oh Len, Len." Jim gives a sad shake of his head. "How soon you forget the awesome of our childhood."
"I'm quite a bit older than you."
"Yeah, whatever, old man. Come on, pizza. Pepperoni and whatever else Jo-along Cassidy said we were having."
She giggles again. It's official, she's in love with Jim Kirk, baker. Leonard sighs.
They order and grab a booth; Jim sitting across from Leonard and Joanna. Yet again, his knees touch Leonard's and now his feet keep brushing against his. Dammit, he's too old to be playing footsies. Hell, he never did play footsies. When he looks up at Jim, Jim's expression is completely innocent.
"So can I tag along sometime?" Jim asks.
"Tag along where?"
"To the morgue. I want to see the dead bodies, too. Maybe get a toetag of my own. Jo, you going to show me yours?"
"Sure, it's really cool. Daddy wouldn't let them put my name on it, though. Said it was 'too damned morbid' and he would lose his 'best father of the year award'."
"Well, it sort of is. You're not dead yet, are you?"
"No she isn't." Leonard jumps in,"and she's not allowed to for at least seventy more years. Which may be when I allow her to date."
Jo only rolls her eyes at him and then fishes the toetag out of her pocket to show Jim.
"Dude. I have to have one of these. Come on, let me go along sometime. I'll even get you a donut or something."
"Why would you want to go to a morgue? It's not a damned tourist attraction. People work there, you know. We do serious work."
"Yeah, I know. That's why it's awesome. I bet you wear a labcoat. Can we both wear labcoats? Oh man, that would rock."
"Someday is Dad-speak for never, just letting you know."
"Jo's still in town until this Saturday." Is he really making a date to the morgue? Is it even a date? Dammit, he hates this shit. He's too old and too set in his ways for this shit.
"Oh yeah, sitters, huh?" Leonard notices that Jim doesn't question Jo's leaving, a fact that Leonard's grateful for.
The pizza comes just as Leonard's cell phone rings. Pulling it out of his pocket, he rolls his eyes at the number. "I have to take this. Jo, stay right here. And you, watch her like a hawk and any funny business, I will kick your ass."
"Promise. We won't go play any video games without you," Jim says, looking slightly hurt at the implication.
"Good." He walks to a quieter part of the restaurant, trying to keep an eye on the table while flipping open the phone and saying, "Yes, sir?"
"Got a case we need you to consult on."
"I'm on vacation. My daughter's in town."
"High profile case. We need you."
"My daughter's in town for a few more days."
"Look, Leonard, I'll be blunt. It's a sensitive case involving a high profile person. The vic is a child . They asked for you and they're going to get you. We need you here tomorrow at least for the press conference." Christ, a child. Leonard closes his eyes, grimacing. A press conference made for nightmares.
"I don't have a sitter." Leonard watches Jim and Joanna battle over a slice of pizza. Finally, Jim pulls off two slices of pepperoni and Joanna grins triumphantly. Jim doesn't even look around to see if he's being watched.
"I'll see what I can do." Who the hell is he going to call? He's got no one in town that can watch Joanna. If he's in, Chapel'll be forced to work, too, so his assistant is out. M'Benga's already taking on Leonard's casework for the week of his vacation.
"Good to hear. We'll see you tomorrow. Eight o'clock sharp." The mayor hangs up the phone before Leonard has a chance to argue his case further.
"Fantastic," Leonard says bitterly and then slaps the phone shut. "Fucking asshole."
Quickly clearing his head of the thoughts of a child lying in the morgue tonight, he wanders back to the table with a smile pasted on his face, he's not at all surprised to see that there's only a slice left. "I'm gone for five minutes and the two of you devoured an entire pizza?"
"Yep. You snooze, you lose."
"Not like I was off having fun, you know," he snipes and then grabs the last slice.
"You're frowning, Daddy."
"Yeah, well, I have to head into work tomorrow. Can't have anyone else appearing in front of the media circus." Leonard concentrates on his pizza instead of saying anything else. knowing his tone could upset them.
"Let me guess, Joanna not allowed to go with you?"
"Nope. Press conference. Eight a.m. Means I gotta be there no later than seven. Possibly earlier, because I have to familiarize myself with the case details."
"I could totally watch her. I mean, she could come into the bakery and stuff. Hang out until you're done?"
"I wouldn't want to intrude at your work. I'll figure something out."
"What do you say, Jo-malaly-golly-what-a-day?"
"If you don't call me any more of those silly names. And you let me bake some cupcakes."
"And if you let me eat one, too."
"And if you – "
"No more, Jojo, be glad he's letting you go along," Leonard says and, with that, he seals the babysitting deal tomorrow.
"That mean you're ok with us taking care of her at the bakery?"
"No more than one cupcake for the entire day. I mean it, both of you," Leonard says.
"I'll even pick her up. You won't have to worry about a thing."
"I'm already worrying."
Burying his face in Sulu's shoulder, Pavel tries to blindly smash the alarm, only to be met with the slash of claws. Swearing and jerking, Pavel knees Sulu in the side.
"Hikaru, your cat is hungry."
"Your cat," Hikaru mumbles, barely registering Pavel's knee as it collides into his side. "And your alarm."
It couldn't be morning, already? They'd only gone to bed a few hours ago. Taking a second swipe, Pavel connects with the alarm, the silence countered with a sudden rumble of his stomach. Stretching, he ruffles Hikaru's hair. "Your Pavel is hungry, too."
"If we wait, Jim'll feed us," Hikaru says hopefully. "We could sleep in a bit, enjoy the summer. Once classes start, we'll be up even earlier."
Hikaru keeps one eye closed as he peers sleepily at Pavel while Pavel does the same. If they open both eyes, the hoped-for return to sleep is doomed.
"Hmm, a good point, but I might waste away from hunger, even before the lack of sleep drives us crazy." Pavel traces his fingers down the side of Hikaru's face. "And your waffles are the best."
"God, don't mention my waffles around Jim. Can you see him if he knew about the Eggos? He was bad enough with the muffin mix. You mention 'em around Jim and I'm totally using the 'd' word with you." Hikaru's arm drifts up from underneath Pavel and he returns the favor with the hair at the nape of Pavel's neck. If he's got to be awake, he's going to take advantage of all that skin right in front of him.
"What he doesn't know won't hurt him. There is no need to resort to threats of the 'd' word."
"You are absolutely insane, just in case I've neglected to mention that to you in the past few days. You'll eat Eggos but you faint at the mention of the 'd' word."
"It is not insane to recognize that they are evil and Eggos are fantastic and crispy and have no glaze on them. Especially when you make them."
"Fine, I'll make the Eggos if you feed Bulochka? That is, if she's back to being 'our' cat, instead of just mine."
Chuckling, Pavel kisses Hikaru's chin. "Sure, sure. She's ours." With another quick kiss, Pavel rolls out of bed, taking the covers with him.
"That was just unnecessarily mean," Hikaru mutters as he sits up and flails for the blankets. "If you're going to be like that, I get first shower."
With that, Hikaru heads towards the bathroom, pausing only to swat at Pavel's butt. A satisfying crack sounds and Hikaru grins.
"You!" Pavel yells, ducking into the kitchen. Muttering to himself about crazy boyfriends and even crazier bosses, he starts the coffee maker. It takes him a moment to find the can opener while Bulochka winds her large and furry body between his legs, doing her best to trip him. "Silly cat, you will eat quicker if you stop trying to kill me."
Bulochka doesn't acknowledge his words. Instead, she continues winding between his legs, pausing only to rub against first one ankle and then the other as he opens the can and then plops the food into her bowl. Before Pavel can set it down, she heaves her large, Maine Coon body up onto the counter and starts eating. "Silly cat. You don't eat up here. Hikaru would be very mad if he saw this. But after he slapped my ass, he deserves to have to clean your fur off the counter."
With that, he starts digging for their travel mugs - which he quickly forgets about when he finds the giant plastic cups in the back of the cabinet. An evil plan bursts to life and, fully committed to that plan, he fills it with icy water and tiptoes to the bathroom.
As he eases the door open, Pavel bites his lip to keep from laughing before he tips the cup of water over the top of the shower curtain, directly over Hikaru. Hikaru will never admit to the shriek that comes out of his mouth as the cold water hits his back. Reacting purely on instinct, he shoves the shower curtain open, grabs Pavel and yanks him into the shower; clothes, cup and all.
Stumbling into the shower, Pavel shakes with laughter. "You shrieked like a little girl!" He continues to giggle even as his clothes get soaked, and it takes a lot of effort to shimmy out of his sleep pants but he gets it done. Pavel tosses them out of the shower, along with the cup.
"Wasn't a shriek, you horrible, horrible boyfriend. I can't believe that you did that." Hikaru smiles as he reaches out a hand, grabs Pavel's arm and tugs him in closer. "Now you need to make it up to me."
"Make it up, hmm? Is starting the coffee and feeding your fat cat not enough?" Pavel lets Hikaru pull him closer, bringing his hands up to work the shampoo in Hikaru's hair, filling in where the cold water had rinsed it clean.
"Not nearly enough. That water was cold. It'll take a lot more than that to make us even. If you use your nails, that'll be a good start," Hikaru says as he turns and leans back into Pavel's hands.
Pressing his chest close against Hikaru's back, Pavel scrapes his nails over Hikaru's scalp. Pavel kisses Hikaru's shoulder as an apology of sorts. "Am I getting warmer? Are you?"
"Definitely not getting warm. In fact, I think I feel some icy water still," Hikaru says, reaching around and tugging Pavel's hands from his hair and across his stomach. "Feel it?"
"I think I feel something." Pavel scrapes his nails across Hikaru's stomach, smiling against his shoulder. Sliding a hand down to Hikaru's cock, Pavel makes a pleased sound, running his fingers up Hikaru's length. "Aah, yes - I definitely feel something. Let me warm that up."
"I don't think that's cold at all," Hikaru says as he grabs Pavel's hands and puts them back up into his hair. "I think you were washing my hair."
Pavel suddenly remembers that he's not the only one capable of evil plans.
"I suppose we have to get ready for work like a couple responsible adults. What time should I have dinner ready when we get home tonight, dear?" He tugs Hikaru's hair playfully before nudging him forward to get him under the water. "Rinse yourself, old man."
Then grabbing the shampoo, Pavel starts washing his own hair, singing boisterously in Russian.
"Oh god, not the singing again. Please, anything but the singing," Hikaru moans before leaning forward and rinsing his hair. He grabs his exfoliating cloth to start to scrub himself. It's completely accidental that he backs into Pavel while rinsing. So is the shimmy of his ass pressed up against Pavel.
"Anything, hmm?" Pavel stops singing, and grinds back, running his soapy hands down Hikaru's back. He's pauses to knead the muscles before gripping his hips and pulling Hikaru closer up against him.
Hikaru chuckles, but states quite seriously, "Anything that doesn't involve pain or embarrassing situations or sexual favors that I'll need to pay back eventually. Or you taking my saved games in Lego Indiana Jones. Or anything that I chose to veto. Though if you keep doing that, I might forget about that last bit."
Hikaru smiles as he bends over to wash his legs and there is no way that Pavel can pretend it's an accident as Hikaru's ass makes contact with his cock once more. In frustration, Pavel groans and debates tapping Hikaru's ass, hard and loud. Instead, he runs his thumbs down either side of Hikaru's spine, down to his ass. "Well, as long as your video game is safe." Sliding his thumbs down, Pavel presses against Hikaru's hole. "If we're fast, we won't run out of hot water."
"Yeah, but what are you going to use? Soap? Not my ass." Hikaru pushes back against Pavel's hands once more. Then he abruptly stands up, steps away and rinses himself up. "Besides, that cold water totally killed my ability to get it up. Sorry."
"Well, we wouldn't want the coffee to burn or Jim to give us hell all day if we are late." Pavel soaps himself, carefully stepping aside to let Hikaru out of the shower. "I'll be out in a second, if you're starting our gourmet breakfast."
"I don't think so. You owe me," Hikaru says, staying in the shower and pushing into Pavel's personal space to take over the job. "Least you can do is try to fix what you've broken, mister I'm-so-smart-I-got-into-college-early."
Hikaru's hands tease at Pavel's hips and along his inner thighs, drifting close but never quite touching Pavel's cock. Leaning forward, Hikaru kisses the spot where neck meets shoulder. "And Jim's got that little girl with him today so it's not like he won't be distracted. He'll never know we were just a few minutes late."
"Mmm, I think you can convince me." Pavel tilts his head to the side to give Hikaru more access to his neck. "Flattery helps, too. Tell me more about my genius. Hyperbole and big words are encouraged."
"Oh, Pavel, I love how you design a house, all those sharp angles and wide, wide curves. It's so detailed but I love your commercial buildings even better. Your soaring buttresses are so big. I want to climb them, wrap my arms around them and hang on for dear life. I love the way that you use a slide rule, too," Hikaru says in between kisses. "Your designs are supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Is that a big enough word for you?"
"Ooh, slide rule. You know how to get me going, you dirty voyeur, you. I liked your usage of buttresses, too. Maybe you should be the architecture student but then I couldn't reciprocate with talk about your firm grasp of focal lengths and lighting? How your eye for framing captures moments perfectly, even when you're simply filming me cooking dinner?"
"And I'll tell you about how I love the way that you hunch over your computer, the way that your fingers fly across the keyboard and I think of how they should be touching me instead. I'll tell you all about how I love the way that you hold a mouse and work it." Hikaru thrusts into Pavel's hips, his cock rubbing across that skin as he works his hand up and down Pavel's cock.
Pavel gasps, thrusting up into Hikaru's grip. "You, ah, your editing finesse always captures the spirit of your subject. Respectful. Loving. Intelligent. Steady, uh, steady handed. So good."
"That sounds like you're looking for praise. Are you? You want to hear about how I want to capture you with my camera? How I'd love to film even more of you?" Hikaru licks at Pavel's neck before sliding his mouth up to nip Pavel's earlobe. In his most seductive tone, he asks, "Want to hear about how I particularly want to film you playing Xbox?"
"God, it's hard to think when you're doing, ah, doing that. But game playing couldn't be all that interesting." Pavel breaks off with a shudder and a moan as he brings his hands up to cling to Hikaru's shoulders.
"Says you. I say it's interesting enough that I can't watch you work for long." Hikaru's hips move faster as he rubs against Pavel's hip and leg. "But the way you play, your focus during the game. I want it on me, all the time."
"No game is as good as you, Hikaru." Turning his head, he presses a shaky kiss to what he can reach of Hikaru's face. With a shudder and a gasp, Pavel comes.
Hikaru frots harder, trying to get enough friction to come. Finally, he pulls his hands away from Pavel and touches himself. When he comes, he bites Pavel's shoulder.
"Guess we'll need to clean up again."
Pavel laughs, kissing Hikaru. "Yes, yes. But we have to be quick or we'll be doused in ice water." Reaching over Hikaru's shoulder, he snags the shower gel, leaning in for another kiss. "Definitely worth it, though."
"Definitely. I always knew you were a sucker for a slide rule." Hikaru bathes quickly and then scrambles out of the shower and into the bedroom to towel off and pull on trousers. It's a rush to the kitchen to get the toaster waffles going quickly as he tugs on his shirt.
Singing loudly in Russian once more, Pavel finishes quickly. After pulling on his trousers haphazardly, he follows Hikaru into the main room, still toweling off his hair. Snapping his towel at Hikaru, he laughs at the sound of outrage. He finishes the song with a great flourish as he pulls his shirt over his head. Pavel bats his eyelashes at Hikaru as he pulls his trousers on.
"Breakfast is ready, daaaarling!"
"Kirk's going to kill us. We're going to be so late. Come on, put 'em on a plate and hurry," Hikaru says as he grabs some travel mugs and pours coffee into them. He dances around the kitchen, fastening his belt while trying to slip on his shoes, tie his tie and grab his books all at the same time. "Mind adding some jam to mine?"
"As you wish!" With his shirt half on, Pavel smears jam between two waffles and manages to get his pants buttoned without covering himself in strawberry. Shoving one in his mouth and the other in a napkin, Pavel grabs his bag and holds the door for Hikaru.
Hikaru pulls his bag over his head as he finishes tightening his belt. He'll have to adjust his socks on the train but it's good enough to get them to the train station. His sunglasses perch on top of his head as he hurries out the door, pecking Pavel on the cheek as he passes and snags his waffle. "You're such a good boyfriend."
Chasing each other up the stairs of the BART station, Pavel and Hikaru dodge commuters as they jog to the bakery. Rounding the corner onto Gough Street, they spot Jim and the doctor's daughter coming from the other direction. Quickly pushing through the doors and tossing their bags in the back, Pavel and Hikaru kiss quickly before slowing their breathing and standing at the ready behind the counter. Hikaru leans in to Pavel and whispers, "Don't think I didn't see that you fed Bulochka on the counter."
"I do not know what you are talking about," he whispers back just as Jim staggers the last few steps to the bakery while Joanna giggles. Shifting her weight, he tries to wrangle the giggling seven year old and the handle to the glass door. Pavel and Hikaru applaud their grand entrance.
"Very good! I give you a nine out of ten on your juggling and a ten out of ten on your escape prevention skills. What says the Russian judge?" Sulu holds the imaginary microphone to Chekov's face, biting his lip to keep from laughing.
"Hmm, I say sixes for both. Silly Americans, Russians invented child juggling! You have no appreciation for the great arts!" He sniffs, turning to walk into the kitchen. Sulu nods gravely at his back.
"There you have it folks, yet again does the brutish American disappoint the sensibilities of our Russian judge. Now back to you, Jim."
Jim rolls his eyes as Joanna laughs. "Yeah, yeah. Give nothing but your best, thanks Mom."
Joanna rolls her eyes at Jim, her exasperation a perfect copy of her father's. Jim grins at her, hitching a thumb towards the kitchen.
"C'mon, Jojo, let's show these cretins how it's done." Holding the door for her, he sketches a bow as she heads in.
Leonard pushes through the sleek glass doors to the bakery. Sulu and Chekov are wiping down the tables and counters, preparing to shut down for the afternoon. At his arrival, Sulu perks up.
"The two troublemakers are in the back. It's been quiet for a while, so either one of them is dead, or they're plotting world domination."
"I'm more likely to bet world domination, that's my girl you're talking about, there." Leonard grins proudly. "I'll just head on back, yeah?"
"Sure thing. Tell them I have dibs on the Eastern seaboard." Sulu salutes.
"You got it." Leonard turns as Chekov nudges Sulu with a smile. Leaning in, Chekov whispers to Sulu, "He doesn't stand a chance." Sulu shakes with silent laughter, nodding.
Leonard puts his ear to the door, hearing the rumble of Jim's voice through the wood. Slowly, he pushes the door open as quietly as possible. The sight that meets him brings his heart to his throat.
Joanna stands on a stepstool, clad in apron and too-large chef's hat. Jim stands behind her, guiding her hands as he explains the proper technique for frosting a cupcake.
Norman Rockwell, eat your heart out. He watches them through the door for a few more minutes, glad for the peace the scene brings him. The press conference had been rough. Dead kids always make him worry more about his own daughter. That's always a dangerous road to go down, usually ending with at least a drink too many and sleeping on the balcony.
He must have sighed louder than he thought because he catches Jim's attention. Grinning, he waves Leonard in. "Hey, Len! I kept my promise, see? No cupcakes eaten yet, just finishing up the touches on these excellent creations."
"Daddy! Mister Jim showed me how to make Cookie Monster! And I made a cupcake for you, with a 'D' for Daddy!" Hopping down from the stool, Joanna runs to Leonard for a hug.
"That's great, Jojo! Want to show me?" Letting her happiness soak into his low mood, Leonard inspects their creations. "These look wonderful. Why don't you go wash your hands and Mister Jim and I will pack these up?" As she bounces away, Leonard turns to Jim with a raised eyebrow. "So, no cupcakes, but how much frosting did you feed her?"
Batting his eyelashes at Leonard, Jim feigns offense. "Now why would you think I would do a thing like that?"
"I might not be a fancy CSI T.V. star-fake doctor, but I do know that blue smudge on her chin isn't normally there."
"Ah! I am found out! What skill has caught me! Should I call you Holmes?"
Rolling his eyes, Leonard leaned on the counter near Jim. "Yeah, yeah. You're quite the criminal mastermind, feeding children sugar. Whatever shall I do with you?"
"Take me to the morgue and give me a toe tag?"
"Sure, Jim. Would you prefer being stabbed with a pastry brush, or bludgeoned with a...what is this? A spiky rolling pin?"
Leonard brandishes the pin, cautiously testing the edges with a finger. "That'd leave a pretty bad mark."
"I'd stay away from that one. Gaila is picky about her fondant rolling pins." Jim grins as Leonard sets it down gently.
The morning must have been harder than Leonard is letting on, as his mouth had tightened immediately once Joanna was out of sight. Like magic, Leonard's face brightens when she comes back into the kitchen, frosting-free, a thousand watt smile beaming from her face.
"Thanks again, Jim," Leonard says, carefully setting down the evil-looking rolling pin down.
"We had a good time," Jim says as Gaila enters the room. Leonard notices the way that she immediately looks towards her work area.
"Definitely! I'm looking forward to hanging out with her tonight," Gaila says as she crosses the room to inspect the cupcakes. "You did a great job with these, Joanna. We'll make a baker out of you yet."
"Thanks, Miss Gaila!"
"Sorry, did you say tonight?"
"Yep," Gaila says blithely, boxing up the cupcakes carefully. Leonard's lost the trail of the conversation before he even had a chance to get a hold on it.
"I invited Miss Gaila to hang out while you go get Jim his toe tag. He tried to steal mine. Twice."
"I did not. I just wanted a closer look at it," Jim says defensively.
"You tried to steal a toe tag from a seven-year-old?"
"I wanted a better look at it!"
"Is it ok that I invited them?" Joanna looks up at him through her hair with an all-too-familiar look. Dammit, she's using the one look he can't resist.
Giving in, he nods to her and says, to Jim, "Right. I guess we'll have to go to the morgue just get to you your own. Least I can do since you watched Jojo today."
"Great! We'll be there at seven!" Jim agrees readily, grinning from ear to ear and exchanging high fives with Joanna.
What the hell has he let himself into, he thinks to himself as they make their goodbyes and hurry home.
Unbelieving at both the mess and the fact that his house is about to be invaded, again, Leonard hurries around the house trying desperately to get it fit for strangers to see more than the entry way. Piles of laundry cover every flat surface while dishes heap in the sink. Newspapers adorn what isn't covered by the laundry. Gaila and Jim should be here in just a few minutes and his house is a disaster. He'd forgotten how much clean up there is with a child, regardless of that child's neat tendencies or not. He's definitely gotten set in his ways when it comes to rhythms and routines.
"Jojo! Get your laundry picked up!" he yells up the stairs as he stacks the dishwasher. When she doesn't appear in a few minutes, he yells again. "Jojo! Your guests will be here in a few! You want your guests to see what a slob you are?"
"I was getting the toys ready!" she says huffily, finally reaching the kitchen. She makes no move to go to the living room to grab the piles of laundry needing to be put away, and Leonard glares at her.
"Jo, seriously - get the laundry put away and make your bed."
"I don't see why I have to clean just 'cause you have a date." She turns and stomps her way into the living room, her bare feet slapping against the hardwood floors.
"You invited them here, young lady! So you get to help. Also, it's not a date – I'm getting Jim his toe tag, that is all."
"Dad, it's a date."
"No, it isn't."
"Whatever." Leonard looks around the pillar and sees her gathering the clothes.
"Make sure they stay folded when you put them in the drawers. Neatly." With that, he puts the last dish into the dishwasher, dumps a pile of soap in it and turns it on. Knowing Joanna, she's stuffing her clothes in her drawers. He hurries up the stairs to help her along.
"You think Mister Jim will bring over dinner? I told him you liked steak," she says as he enters her room. She's actually putting the clothes away neatly.
"When did that come up?"
"Mister Jim was asking me stuff about you."
Oh? Leonard grimaces, fearing the worst. "Like what?"
"Um, he asked about your favorite food, and how long you and mommy have been divorced, and your favourite Star Wars character, stuff like that." She doesn't seem too interested in the why.
"Oh. Did you tell him?" Leonard asks casually, hoping she doesn't notice the way his voice catches slightly. Good God, it's like being in high school again. Maybe he should just run up to Jim and pull on his pigtails and be done with it. Is he seriously quizzing his seven year old daughter about what Jim says while Len isn't around? There are no words for the new low he's just discovered.
"Oh, yeah, Daddy! I told him you love steak, and that you moved away when I was five, and that your favorite Star Wars character was Wedge, just like me! And then we made cookies. Gaila painted flowers on them. They were really pretty."
Well. Perhaps he is, just maybe, reading this situation right. Or, maybe Jim had been just making conversation? Keeping Joanna occupied while he'd sat for her? Leonard knows full well what a chatterbox she can be, especially when hopped up on sugar. Maybe that's all it is. He's over-reading the situation, clearly. He frowns a little anyway.
"Daddy?" Joanna comes up to him. "You're not mad I told him that, are you?"
"No, no - of course not, darlin'. I was just wondering, is all." He smiles at her. She grins back, and turns to put away the rest of her things.
"Miss Gaila told Mister Jim to just ask you himself, and to get on with it, because dates don't happen if you don't ask."
Leonard's eyes bug out just a little bit, but Joanna is still turned away from him. She goes on, happily, "And Mister Jim got all red and left to check on the counter, and it was really weird."
Huh. Maybe he isn't reading the situation wrong, after all. That doesn't seem to help either way as he's now more nervous than ever. Dammit, this is a date! He looks down at his t-shirt and jeans and sighs. Perhaps he'd better find a nicer shirt. Definitely time for a nicer shirt. Just in case this is a date.
"Weird that he got all red, weird that he likes me or weird that a man likes me?" Leonard braces for her answer.
"Dads don't date. Ever. It's a rule."
"Is it?" He raises an eyebrow at her, crossing his arms and trying his best to look intimidating. She only giggles in response. Thankfully, his office staff isn't nearly as immune to his glare, which he thinks he's perfected over the years. "So then kissing is out of the question?"
"Yeah, duh. That's gross. Ew, Dad." She mimes throwing up and then slides the drawers closed before going to her bed, flipping the covers over the bunched-up sheets.
"What if we kissed when you weren't around?" Not that he has any plans for that because he doesn't. At all.
"I guess that'd be ok. As long as I don't have to see it. He going to move in and live here and stuff?"
"Honey, I don't even know if this is a date," he says as he crosses the room and hugs her. "You'd still get to visit and everything."
"But you only have a couple of bedrooms and I don't want to sleep on the sofa. Mary Ellen has to sleep on the sofa when she visits her dad and his new family."
"I promise this room is yours for as long as you want it, whether I'm dating someone or not." He hugs her a little tighter.
"So do you want to date Mister Jim?" she asks as he lets her loose.
"I don't know. Fix your sheets, you know better." She circles to the other side of the bed and they both straighten the sheets and then fix the comforter again. When they're done, she mimics his earlier pose, arms crossed and eyebrow raised. "What?"
"You totally want to date him. You get all googaly."
"I do not get 'googaly'."
"Yep, you do. Like right now, you're trying to look all annoyed and stuff but you're totally smiling. It's nice. I like when you smile."
"You, young lady, still have to clean up your bathroom," he says in an obvious attempt to derail the conversation. Maybe he does want this to be a date. Maybe he thinks Jim is funny and hot. But that doesn't mean that he wants to discuss it with his daughter who is way too young for boys other than the ones in the movies and video games.
"Can we play Wii?" she asks as she leaves the room. Leonard takes one last look around the room and figures it's clean enough for strangers to see.
"No smacktalking." When he reaches his own bedroom, he wonders if he should bother cleaning it and if he has enough time to change his shirt. Hopefully no one will look in there but just in case someone mistakes what room is Jojo's, maybe he should put away his own laundry. Or should he worry about cleaning the pantry? Is there enough to drink in the fridge? Has he hidden the alcohol? Maybe he should check. As he worries, he grabs a clean button down and slides it on over the t-shirt.
"But that's the best part!"
"Jojo, you have to be nice to them," he calls as he buttons up the shirt and then shoves it into his jeans. There, now he's nice enough for a date and casual enough to hang out with a friend. Oh God, why is he thinking about this? It is what it is.
"Yeah, whatever. I'm totally going to kick their asses!"
Leonard hurries into the bathroom, glad to see that she was wiping off the counter but still needing to address her language. "Joanna Elizabeth McCoy! What did I say about your language?!"
"Don't say it in front of Mom and Gram?"
"And strangers. No cussing in front of strangers."
"No fair! You just added that!"
This time, his glare works on her.
"Fine. And not in front of strangers."
"Strangers like Gaila who are being really nice by coming to hang out with you."
"So you can have your date."
"It's not a date."
"It totally is."
"I'm not arguing with a seven year old about dating."
"I win!" she crows as she folds the towels and hangs them on the towel bar. "And done."
The doorbell rings before Leonard has a chance to get downstairs to check on the drinks and alcohol.
"I'll get it!" Joanna takes off, tearing down the hall and then the steps, doing her best to sound like a herd of elephants as she slaps across the hardwood floors once more to race to the door.
"Dammit, Joanna!" Leonard yells as he rushes after her. "You don't open the –"
His chastisement stops abruptly as he sees Scotty and Gaila on the other side, bags from the bakery in hand and a very large, very black, poodle between them. "Come on in. Who's this?"
"Whatcha bring me?" Joanna asks as she opens the door further.
"Not a thing for the parental figure's enjoyment. Come along, Miss Joanna, show us around," Scotty says as he deftly avoids Leonard's hand as it tries to snag the bags. The dog looks at Leonard and then trots along with Scotty and Joanna.
"It's not more sugar, is it?" Leonard asks as he waits for Gaila to enter before shutting the door.
"None of your business, sir," Scotty says cheekily as he disappears into the living room following Joanna.
"Vegetable animals and a cupcake from earlier," Gaila explains with a shake of her head, as she hands over a box from the bakery.
"Yep, like lions made out of broccoli, cauliflower sheep and carrot giraffes. Scotty's really good at 'em." She leans in and pecks his cheek. Bemused, he raises a hand and touches his cheek.
"And who's that?" He gestures towards the dog as Joanna leads Scotty further into the house.
"That's Keenser, Scotty's poodle. He takes it everywhere. Don't worry; he's housebroken and great with everyone. Where should I put this?" She waggles the bag at him.
"Oh, kitchen. This way." Leonard leads the way into the kitchen.
"Nice place. It's really close to the bakery. How come you haven't stopped by before?"
"Never go up that way, just head in to work and come home." He doesn't explain that work is only a few miles away as that can only make it worse. The doorbell rings before he can make himself sound even more anti-social and he almost runs out of the room to get it.
He opens the door to find Jim on the other side. He forgets about Gaila in the kitchen and Scotty with his dog currently trooping through his house. Instead, he's stuck on the way that Jim's button-down looks on him and those jeans. Leonard wonders, briefly, if he could pitch a new law to the Mayor to make Jim in jeans illegal, because there is no way that anyone should look that good.
"Can I come in?" Jim asks, one side of his mouth turning up at Len's obvious staring.
"Yeah, sure, of course," Leonard replies, his face heating. He struggles to cover it up by blurting, "Everyone else is here, including a surprise Scotty and a surprise dog."
"Oh yeah, forgot to tell you that where Scotty goes, so does his dog. You're all right with dogs, aren't you?"
"I thought it was just going to be Gaila coming by."
"And so it was until I heard we'd be having cupcakes made by Miss Joanna herself. Can't be missing that now, can I?" Scotty says as he walks into the entry way with Keenser padding along behind him.
"Dad! Isn't Keenser awesome? Can we get a dog?"
"Yes. And, no." Leonard answers through the crowded hallway. There are too many people in too small of a space. "Kitchen's this way."
"Nice digs, didn't get a chance to tell you that, earlier," Jim says as he pushes past Leonard to head into the kitchen. Leonard breathes in the scent of Jim's cologne as he passes.
"And so close to the bakery, too. Means they can stop by more often," Gaila adds as she follows Jim.
"Aye, keep the counter staff in line. Those two would spend all day doing their homework and fighting with the customers if we weren't constantly watching 'em like hawks." Scotty mimes flying, flapping his arms and making an awkward noise that echoes.
"Scotty, you're going to scare the good Doctor and he'll make you leave. You want to be sent home?" Gaila chastises, waggling her finger as they all pile into the kitchen.
Jim's unpacking bags and boxes along with Gaila when Scotty nudges Joanna, and mocks Gaila.
"I can see you, Scotty."
"Oh yeah? What was I doing?"
"Rolling your eyes at me."
Scotty mouths, How'd she do that at Joanna, and Gaila laughs, continuing, "I can see you in the reflection of the fridge. Duh."
"Oh, now, well, I see I'll have to be a bit sneakier, then. Come along, Miss Joanna, let's let them take care of serving us while we get ready for the night of raucous entertainment."
"Raucous?" Leonard looks to Gaila and Jim, as Scotty leads Joanna out of the room with the dog trotting along behind them.
"Yeah, you should see him when he's playing Call of Duty. He's loud. Really loud."
"Gaila, lass, could you bring us a few snacks?" Scotty calls from the main room.
"Come get 'em yourself!" Gaila yells back.
"How well you get along with your neighbors?" Jim sidles closer to Leonard and whispers.
"Fairly well. Why?"
"Oh, good. Well, you ready to go?" Jim starts to head off but Leonard grabs his shoulder, ignoring the feel of muscle under his hand and concentrating on the worry of exactly what he's leaving his daughter with.
"No reason. Off to get a toe tag, Gaila. Be careful with Joanna." Jim tries to escape once more but Leonard grabs him with the other hand, holding on to him with both.
"They're a bit loud is all. Last time we all got together, my neighbors got pissed and banged on the door and threatened to call the cops until we all shut up. It was embarrassing."
"We aren't loud at all. We're just exuberant," Gaila says and then turns towards the living room with a tray. "I promise we'll take care of Joanna."
"Cell number is on the fridge. So's my ex-wife's and the hospital number and my number at work. Don't piss off my neighbors." Leonard lets go of Jim, taking a moment to smooth his shirt. It's either his imagination working overtime or Jim is actually leaning into the space his hands left. Either explanation is distracting. Leonard clears his throat. "Jo?"
"Yeah?" Jo yells from the living room. Leonard steps away from Jim, pausing for one last breath of his cologne, and walks into the living room.
"Want to try that again?" He raises an eyebrow at her and she slides off the sofa where she's playing with Keenser, who's wagging his tail gleefully.
"Sorry, Daddy," she responds in a much more sedate tone, looking at him.
"Better. We're going to be gone for just a little bit. You remember how to get a hold of me?"
"And you remember what I said?"
"And?" Leonard waits a beat and grins when Joanna plasters herself against his legs. He's really missed his little girl and he'll miss her even more when she leaves. Best not to think about that. Instead, he concentrates on the way that she's hugging him and he gets to hug her back. "That's better. Love you, Jojo."
"Love you, too, Daddy." Joanna lets go and then hugs Jim. "You be nice to my Daddy. No stealing toe tags from his work."
"I promise, no stealing of toe tags."
"We'll be fine. You two head out to your night at the morgue. Be good to the bodies or they won't be good to you back," Scotty says, waving towards the door.
"I have no idea what that means," Leonard says as he follows Jim to the door.
"Neither do I. But Scotty's always been a little odd. It's part of his charm."
"Bye, Jojo! Be good! Mind Gaila and your manners."
"Will do, Daddy! Bye Mister Jim!"
Jim opens the door and holds it for him. With one last look towards where Joanna sits on the sofa, he heads out just as he hears Gaila ask, "Who's ready to eat some endangered species!?"
"You hungry?" Jim asks as they walk down the stairs.
"We had pizza," Leonard says as he heads towards the BART station. "You mind taking the BART or you want me to drive?"
"BART's fine. Public transportation reduces our carbon footprint."
"Plus, it means that you can keep your attention on me rather than driving." Jim flashes a grin at him. In the murky light, Jim's hair shines like a beacon and Leonard loses all trace of the conversation.
"And just in case you want to stuff me into a drawer, I can escape instead of being stuck at your mercy miles and miles from home." Jim shudders dramatically before reaching out a hand and brushes at something on Leonard's shirt.
"Right," Leonard agrees as he watches Jim's hand play with his clothes. His imagination slips to how it would feel to have them playing with his bare skin.
"You're not listening to a thing I'm saying, are you?" Jim asks, finishing whatever he'd been doing to Leonard's clothes.
Leonard's brain replays the past couple of minutes and he says, "If I'd wanted to kill you and put you in a drawer, I would've stolen Gaila's medieval torture device and used that."
"You were listening, I'm honored."
"Asshole," Leonard mutters and heads into the station. Jim follows him as they dodge the assembled crowd. Once they're inside and waiting for the train, Leonard uses the excuse of the Friday night crowd and stands close to Jim, breathing in the scent of his cologne once more.
"You sniffing me?" Jim asks as a train rumbles past going the wrong way.
"Can't figure out the scent you're wearing."
"Was going to use Doctor McDreamy's stuff but I figured that was taking the T.V. Doctor thing too far. It's Pour Homme."
"More French?" Leonard says before he can help himself.
"Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?" Jim leers, making Leonard's cock pay attention even more.
"Je ne comprends pas."
"Nice, very nice," Jim says, holding up a hand. "Gimme five."
"What are we, five?"
"Yep, five whole fingers here," Jim pauses to waggle his fingers and then grabs Leonard's hand, "and five here. I'd say we're more like a perfect ten."
Leonard doesn't hear anything that Jim says as soon as he has their hands together. The roar of the train entering the station adds to the way that Leonard can only feel Jim rather than hear him.
"This our train?" Leonard watches Jim's lips move and wants to taste them.
"Yeah, come on." Leonard holds on to Jim's hand as he pulls him onto the crowded train. Of course he's picked a crowded car, one that's so crowded that he's forced to stand far too close for comfort. He can feel Jim's legs against his own as they're pushed farther into the train. His dick takes notice of the proximity as well and Leonard growls, trying to pull back so that Jim doesn't think that he's some crazy creep that gets off on crowded train cars. Even if he maybe is.
Only problem with him pulling back is that Jim leans back along with him, pressing his shoulderblades against Leonard's chest. The train lurches and Leonard finds himself flying forward, thrusting against Jim.
"We haven't even had a drink yet," Jim says over his shoulder, looking back at Leonard. Leonard gapes in response, earning himself a grin. "Not that I'm planning on getting you drunk and taking advantage of you."
"I'm sure that's a tactic you very rarely ever need to use," Leonard responds dryly.
"Well, sometimes, on the tough cases," Jim lets his voice trail off suggestively.
The train lurches before Leonard can respond with You flirtin' with me? Luckily, he catches his balance before he can tumble into Jim further. "This is our spot."
"I'll cherish it forever," Jim says, laughing at Leonard as they follow the tide of the crowd leaving the train.
As the crowd disperses, so does Leonard's almost-ease. Now that they've arrived, he has no idea how the hell he's going to get Jim inside the morgue, or at the very least, justify it. Especially on a Friday night. Especially when he's on vacation.
Maybe he can get away with claiming Jim's a med student? Leonard sneaks a look at Jim and decides that there's no way that he can get away with that. What if one of his employees starts asking Jim medical questions? No, that one's a horrible idea.
Maybe he can claim that Jim's his cousin in from Georgia and visiting with Jo? Leonard sneaks another glance at Jim and sees the answering grin. Instantly, his gut tightens and he wants to taste that smile. Nope, no way he's getting away with this one, either. Not if he keeps slavering all over the man.
Each step towards his office makes him more and more nervous. Hell, even if he gets Jim inside without any sort of incident, what are they going to do once they get inside? Hey, Jim, I'd love to fuck you and, by the by, ignore the body in the freezer doesn't exactly sound like the most romantic proposition.
Roses are red, violets are blue, I've got bodies in the freezer and a hard-on for you makes him snort derisively. That's what he gets for hanging out with a seven-year-old. Jim looks over at his snort and then elbows him lightly.
"Wanna let me in on the joke?"
"Me," Leonard says, meaning it entirely. He's awful at this whole dating thing and he doesn't know why he thought maybe that this might be one.
"Laugh at yourself first, before anyone else can," Jim says as they climb the stairs towards the security entrance. At Leonard's blank stare, he adds, "Elsa Maxwell, famous hostess with the mostess. It's a favorite quotation of mine."
"You have the most random knowledge," Leonard says as he holds open the door and looks at the security officers sitting behind the scanners and desks.
Maybe he can claim that this is a bet, one that Jim lost. Except the security guards aren't known for their sense of humor so he thinks he's probably better off going with what comes naturally. "Evening."
"Doctor McCoy," the one guard says as Leonard shows his badge and walks through the scanner. "Who's your guest?"
"Jim Kirk. I'll sign him in," he says with as professional and surly a tone as he can manage.
"Reason for visit?"
"Professional." When the guard starts to question, Leonard raises an eyebrow and glares at him. The man fills something out on the clipboard and then turns it towards Leonard. Yep, natural is definitely the way to go.
"I need a copy of his identification."
"Sure, he's right here with it," Jim pipes up, pulling his license out and letting the guard scan it. "Mind if I step through?"
"Come on through," the other guard says. Jim walks through, the scanner going off. "Got any metal in your pockets? Coins? A watch? Cell phone?"
"Oh, all of the above," Jim says and steps back through, emptying his pockets to go through the scanner and stepping through once more. As the scanner goes off again, Leonard's nerves increase until they're jangling with the sense of wrongdoing. This has to be one of his worst ideas. What's he going to do if Jocelyn calls tonight to confirm the flight plans? What's he going to tell her when a crazy Scottish stranger answers the phone to tell her that Leonard took a man to the morgue and left Jojo with him and his pseudo-hippy-maybe-girlfriend? He's such a moron.
By the time his brain stops churning with the thoughts of the doom and gloom to be visited upon him, Jim's getting wanded and grinning the entire time. "How anyone can be happy to be scanned by security forces, I have no idea."
"You don't like to get wanded?" Jim says, raising his own eyebrow.
"You ever think about anything other than sex?"
"Yep," Jim admits while the guard dismisses him. He grabs his things from the scanner and they head towards the inner sanctum. "What's first?"
"Um, well, we could…" How the hell is he going to justify Jim down in the exam rooms? And who the hell brings an almost stranger to the fucking morgue?
"I hope you're not going to say 'visit the bodies' because, seriously, bodies? No thanks." Jim pauses and grins up at Len. "I just want a toe tag. If Jo asks, we totally went there and I totally touched one. How about your office or somewhere without any dead people?"
Leonard boggles at him while his knees weaken in relief. "Sure, office it is. I don't suppose bakers have much need of cadavers, after all."
"I do! It's these newfangled controls I don't like! You have to wave about with this one," Scotty pauses to shake the controller, "while swirling about with this one," another pause and another gesture, "and would you look at that? Now Leia's gone off and gotten herself killed again."
"Han's doing just fine, though," Gaila says from her perch on the couch. "I like this game."
"Don't you have anything else?" Scotty says as he hurries Leia about to pick up the scattered points.
"Even my daddy does a better job and he's awful at games."
"Get me a regular controller and this would be fine. Nothing wrong with them."
"I don't think Atari joysticks work with the Wii, sorry," Gaila says dryly, as she makes Han shoot Leia. "And you're bleeding parts again."
"Son of a bit - that is, son of a bugger," Scotty curses. The doorbell rings, making him drop the controllers in relief as he rushes for the door. "Well, now, would you look at who's decided to stop by."
"We thought to ascertain if, perhaps, you were, as it were, in over your head," Spock says as he steps into the house.
"How'd you find this place anyway?" Scotty says as he waits for them to get in the house.
"Jim provided the address in case you required assistance. As we were in the neighborhood, we thought to assess the situation."
"We're fine. Scotty's not very good at playing games, though. You any better?" Joanna raises an eyebrow, crossing her arms and staring at Spock as he approaches.
"I find video games to be a waste of time that could be better spent reading and increasing one's knowledge."
"Lame," Joanna says and goes back to her game. "Or you're a scaredy cat. Whatever."
Scotty and Gaila laugh so hard that Gaila starts to snort while Scotty falls to the ground. Uhura glares at the pair of them and then, leaning into Spock, says, "She's got you there."
"I will attempt your game," Spock says.
Scotty hands over his set of controllers. "You'll have to make due with Leia in the bikini. Hope you don't mind, mate."
"There are no other acceptable characters?" Spock turns a look towards Uhura, who is raising her eyebrow as if to say, 'Princess Leia not good enough for you?'.He turns back and states, "I shall endeavor to perform admirably."
"Huh?" Joanna looks at Spock and then Uhura. "You talk funny."
"He means that he'll do better than Scotty."
"Oh, well, why didn't he say so?"
"Because he's got a stick up his as, err, butt." Gaila stops herself.
"I fear that is not appropriate language in front of a child."
"Yeah, Scotty shouldn't hear that sort of talk," Joanna says and then launches back into the game.
Within minutes, they've advanced another two levels while Scotty and Uhura watch.
"Boba Fett is clearly not this illogical in the original trilogy," Spock says as Leia blows up Boba Fett for a second time.
"Thought you said you didn't like games," Scotty says from his perch on the sofa.
"I do not. I am, however, rather skilled at them."
"You should see him when the guys get together," Uhura says and then claps her hands over her mouth. "Jim's going to kill me."
"What get together?" Scotty's attention immediately goes to Uhura.
"Nothing. Just sometimes, they'll play a game or something. Nothing planned."
"Sounds like a conversation that needs to happen." Scotty subsides into a pout that has Joanna glancing between all the adults.
"Mister Scotty? Want to play as Luke? You can, if you want." She offers her controllers to Scotty. "You can even get him blowed up, if you want."
"Thanks, lass," Scotty says, "how about you help me out with it?"
Joanna nods, slipping onto his one leg and mans the nunchuk while Scotty takes over the controller. They do almost as well as when Joanna had played by herself and they advance another couple of levels. When Scotty looks away from the television, he sees Gaila staring at him funny. "What?"
"Not a thing. You guys make a good pair." She smiles at him and his heart thumps at the honest affection in her voice and expression. His own answering smile crosses his face, making hers brighten further. Well, then, what just happened there?, they both think as they stare at one another.
"Sort of. I work down in the freezer a lot, too." Leonard barely resists grabbing Jim's wrist to keep him from moving more things.
"Bet that's cool," Jim says with a smirk.
"That was horrible. How the hell do you fool the world into thinking you're suave with shit like that?"
"My great ass makes up for it."
"Right." Leonard really has nothing to say to that, because he's beginning to believe it's true.
"So what's this for?" Jim holds up a bone. "And please tell me it isn't real."
Now how the hell is Leonard supposed to explain the bone without making himself look horrible? "It's real."
"You have a real bone in your office? It's a cow or something, though, right?"
"If that makes you feel better, we can pretend." Leonard grins at the way that Jim drops the bone quickly.
"You are one sick man. Why would you have a human bone in your office?"
"Long story. I'm sure you aren't interested." Jim only cocks an eyebrow as he rests against the bookcases. "Fine. So my ex-wife? She's a paleontologist."
"Right, Jo mentioned that."
"She was a TA for an anthropology class I took."
"Hot for teacher? Kinky. I approve," Jim says with a wink.
"Asshole. Anyway, I didn't realize that she was flirting with me while she tutored me over some bones. Turns out she was and she finally got fed up with me, kissed me. Got married, had a kid, she got fed up with me not paying enough attention to her. When we divorced, I took one of the bones from her collection, figured all I had left were my bones."
"That's almost poetic, Bones," Jim says as he gingerly picks up the bone and puts it back where Leonard had had it.
"Seriously, Bones, it's cool." They slide into an almost-uncomfortable silence. "So where's my toe tag?"
"We'll get it on the way out, if you're done messing my shit up," Leonard says as Jim reaches for another object off Leonard's desk. It's about time they get back to Joanna, after all.
"Not done yet." The words are said cheerfully but Leonard can't help but worry over the possibilities. And wonder about them.
"I say you're done. You've made a mess of my office." Leonard ignores the way that Jim looks from stack of paper to stack of paper and then over to the binders with information in them. "Don't look at me like that. I like my mess in order."
"Touchy touchy," Jim says, holding up his hands and waiting for Leonard to pass before he leans in and whispers. "I like that."
"Oversexed dick," Leonard mutters while his stomach tightens and he's in the same embarrassing situation he'd been in on the train. At least Jim's not right in front of him.
He's still quite flustered as they walk out of the building and into the fresh air. Leonard decides that, as much as he wants to get home to Joanna, he doesn't want the evening to end, quite yet.
"You forgot my toe tag."
"Dammit," Leonard mutters and turns back, slipping into the building, and ignores the security guards' looks as he hurries down into the bowels of the building. He grabs a bunch of toe tags and then walks back outside. He grabs Jim's hand, slaps a tag in it and then says, "Here, stop bitching. Even Joanna doesn't complain this much."
"Doesn't have my name on it like Jo's does."
"For that, you're buying me dinner," Leonard says, starting off towards his house. "And we're going somewhere nice. Hope you brought your wallet."
"I can see why you got divorced with those sorts of demands, Bones," Jim says, hurrying after Leonard.
"Seriously, you want dinner with me, you could try flattery. 'Hey, Jim, nice shoes, wanna fuck?' See? I'd totally go for that."
"Hey, Jim, shut the fuck up, you do have a great ass, and now you're going to buy me dinner."
"Much better," Jim says, clapping Leonard's shoulder. "I knew you had it in you to be romantic, Bones."
"Why the hell are you talking about bones?"
"I named you now I get to keep you. Rules of having pets." Jim swings his arm over Leonard's shoulder. He shivers, just a little.
"You just call me a dog?"
"Yep. But you shed less than Keenser."
"Now you're buying drinks, too."
"Sounds good to me. Lead on."
This time, the silence is companionable as they walk down the street, Jim's arm still over Leonard's shoulders. It takes a few minutes to get to the restaurant.
"Mind if I call the house?"
"Of course not. You think she's set the place on fire, yet?"
"Don't even joke about that." Leonard pulls out his cell and dials his house, pacing up and down the street as it rings and rings. Just as it starts to go to voicemail, someone picks up.
"House of McCoy, not a McCoy speaking," Scotty says. The dog's barking in the back while Joanna shouts something at someone else. Another low, male voice answers while someone else giggles.
"What the hell is going on there?"
"It's the McCoy himself. Well, good doctor, we've a bit of a party going on with the Wii. You didn't tell us that your daughter is a shark at video games. She's kicking our arses and isn't at all shy and retiring about it."
"That's my girl," he says proudly. "I hear other people, who'd you let into my house?"
"Spock and Uhura. Seems Jim didn't trust us to care for the wee one alone so he asked the responsible ones to stop by and make sure we weren't all dead."
"He did, did he?" Leonard turns and looks at Jim, raising an eyebrow. Jim does his best to look innocent but Leonard isn't buying it. "How responsible of him to invite people to my house."
"Oh, dude, sorry, forgot to tell you. Thought if anyone was good with making sure Joanna survives all while eating some vegetables, it'd be Spock and Uhura."
"So then she said she wanted to be Luke and who'm I to deny a girl her Jedi?" Obviously, while listening to Jim, Leonard's missed part of the conversation with Scotty. He doesn't even try to catch up.
"May I speak to my daughter?" Leonard asks, ignoring the puppy eyes from Jim.
"Course. Miss Joanna Skywalker, your dad's on the phone!"
"Howdy, Darth Dad!"
"You all right, Jo?"
"Dad, don't tell Scotty but Mister Jim's being mean to him and should invite him to his video game nights."
"He is, is he?" Leonard looks at Jim once more. Jim tries even harder to look innocent.
"Yep. You having a good time on your date?"
"It's not a date," Leonard says.
"Whatever. You having a good time?"
"Good. We're having fun, too! Mr Spock is really good at games, and Miss Uhura and Miss Gaila made me eat lions and giraffes. It was awesome." There's a muffled voice and Joanna giggles. "K, Daddy, gotta go. Mister Spock says that Leia can't beat the Rancor without Luke. Bye!"
"Bye," Leonard says but Joanna's already hung up the phone. He turns to Jim and says, "You."
"You invited even more strangers to my house. The one with my young, impressionable daughter in it."
"I invited people you've already met and who are more reserved than Scotty and Gaila. Spock can't breathe without the stick up his ass brushing a lung and Uhura would kick everyone's asses and make them like it if they got out of line."
"You ever do it again," Leonard threatens with a mock stern glare.
Not that there's any reasonable reason to believe that Joanna will ever visit him again, nor reason to believe that he'll see Jim again, outside of the bakery.
"I won't, promise," Jim says, holding up a hand in the classic Boy Scout salute. "Scout's honor."
"Let's go," Leonard says, looking forward to dinner, regardless, and trying to trust in the world just once.
"Oh, and by the way, Jo said something about Scotty finding out about your video games nights," Leonard says with a smirk.
Jim groans, making Len snort. He's suddenly famished.
Chapter 6: Goodbyes, Hellos and Mornings After
Leonard's quiet as they move through the Sunday traffic. It's fairly light, something that upsets him. He'd much rather it be heavier so that it'll take longer to get to the airport along with giving him something to concentrate on other than the fact that they're heading to the airport. He hasn't had enough time with his daughter, dammit. It's been three years of phone calls and webcams – neither of which offer the realness of a hug and a kiss. None of that gives him the unique scent of 'little girl' that permeates his house. Neither the phone calls nor the webcams will jump into bed with him and snuggle down in the morning while they both search for an extra few minutes of sleep. He can't exactly hold his daughter and sniff her hair as they read a story at night over a webcam.
"Dammit," he mutters, ostensibly because a giant SUV just cut him off, but mainly, because he needs to take his mind off the fact that his daughter is going to disappear from his life again.
"Daddy," Joanna says, reaching out a hand and putting it on his forearm. "I'll call you when I get home. Promise."
"I know, baby. You have a good time?" he asks as he swings into the right lane and slows down further. He doesn't mind that they're going fifteen under the speed limit over here.
"The best. You think Mommy will like the cupcakes?" Joanna holds the box containing the last two cupcakes she'd decorated with Jim on her lap.
"I think she'll love 'em. You be good and mind the flight attendant that helps you get to your plane, all right?"
"Course, don't want to get stuck in the wrong place."
"You got your bunny?"
"What about your toothbrush?"
"You got your toes?"
"Daddy," she says and, this time, she's giggling.
"Knees?" he asks as he looks over quickly and winks at her. "I think you're missing a pigtail. We better go back."
"You're being silly."
"Gotta make sure you have the important stuff." Because he can't resist, he reaches over and tugs at one of her pigtails. "You remember your flight information in case you lose
the flight attendant?"
"Yup." She nods emphatically and Leonard grins before cocking an eyebrow. Another giggle and then she recites the information back at him.
"Good deal, baby girl. You call if you have any issues, all right? You got the phone?"
She reaches over and digs through her bag until she pulls put the phone and waves it around triumphantly. "You're speed dial one and Mom is speed dial two. I just hold in the one and you'll be on the other line in a jiffy."
"You bet," he says as he takes the exit to the airport. All too soon, they're pulling into a parking lot and getting Joanna's bags from the trunk. Jo slings her backpack over her shoulder and carries the cupcakes while Leonard tugs Joanna's pink Disney Princesses wheelie bag.
It doesn't take nearly long enough to get through check-in and then wind their way through security. As Joanna gets ready to head past the gentleman checking identification, Leonard squats down and hugs her, pressing his nose into her hair and breathing deeply, over and over, trying to get as much of her scent into his memories as possible to get him through the next indeterminate length of time until he's allowed to see her again. For half a moment, he hopes Jocelyn's mother has a hospital stay so he can have his daughter again. Or maybe a dinosaur could crush Jocelyn and then he'd be home free.
"You ready?" he asks as he pulls back, keeping his hands on her shoulders.
"I don't really wanna go, Daddy," she confesses in a whisper. "I like it here."
"I know, baby," he whispers back, forcing out the rest. "But your mama needs you, too. Bet she's missed you so much. Bet she's waiting at the airport already." He smiles, raising a hand to brush across her cheek.
"You're being silly again."
"I'm going to miss you, Jojo."
"Miss you, more, Daddy."
"Call me if you need anything?"
"One more hug? Maybe a kiss? Don't want you to miss your plane." She nods and then leaps forward, hugging him again. Her lips press against his cheek and then he kisses her cheek, taking one last opportunity to breathe her in again. "Bye, Jojo."
"Bye, Daddy," she says and he can hear her crying.
"Be a good girl for everyone, show 'em us McCoys know how to act proper."
"Kay, Daddy." She pulls away and takes a deep breath. "Tell Mister Jim 'thanks again', all right?"
"Love you, too. Now go get on that plane. Your mama's waiting." He shoos at her, waving at her throughout the security process. With one last wave, she disappears with a flight attendant at her side. He ignores the emotions churning in his gut along with the sympathetic looks of the people around him as he hurries back to his car, drives out of the lot and back to his apartment. This time, he rushes through the traffic, speeding along until he gets to his house.
Now that he's here, he has no idea what to do with himself. Deciding to start small, he goes upstairs and strips the bed that Joanna had used and dumps the bedding in the laundry room. It takes him far longer than it should have to clean up from her visit. There are books to be re-read as he thinks about the past week and photos to look at.
The doorbell rings as begins to clean the kitchen. Thankful for the interruption, he hurries to the door, swinging it open without pausing to check who's on the other side.
"Hey, yo, Bones! You ready for this?" Jim says as he barrels into Leonard's house. Still numb from dropping Joanna off at the airport, Leonard simply watches his progress as he waggles a couple of bags at Leonard and then heads into the kitchen.
"Jim," he mutters.
"Yeah?" Jim says, popping his head around the corner.
"What are you doing here?"
"No offense, but you could really use some practice baking. So I thought, hey-I'm a baker. I could show you how to bake some bread. So here I am."
"You want to teach me how to bake bread?" Leonard finally gathers himself enough to follow Jim into the kitchen and watches as Jim unpacks a thousand and one instruments.
"You have a mixer, right? Everyone has to have a mixer."
"Somewhere." He gestures grandly towards the cabinets. He's certain he'd bought one ages ago or maybe the mixer is the thing he'd thrown out when he'd lost a part.
"Great! Could use a beer, mind if I grab one?"
"Jim, what are you doing here? Really?" Leonard asks after he reaches into the fridge and pulls out a couple of beers.
"You ever bake bread before?"
"It's an awesome thing, Bones. You mix it up, beat it up and it rises back. Then you beat it again and it rises again."
"What the hell you talking about?" Just as he asks, he gets the metaphor and feels a stupid, soppy grin spread over his face. "Oh."
"Sure, I'm really good at watching."
"As if. Oh no, my friend, we are so baking. Together," Jim says as he bends over and explores the cabinets until he gives a triumphant crow. "Ha! You do have one and it isn't bad either. It's no Kitchenaid or anything but it'll do."
Jim hefts it onto the counter and then fiddles in his bag, pulling an apron out and giving it a snap. "Here you go. Can't bake without looking official."
"People do it all the time."
"Martha does," Leonard says before he can catch himself.
" Touché, my friend, touché. We shall be like Martha and go forth apronless. Time to explore new worlds!" Jim's grin and exuberance is infectious, melting Leonard's moroseness until he can almost forget about losing his daughter for more than a couple of minutes at a time. With the way that Jim is constantly moving around him, shifting him, touching him, guiding his hands and breathing against his neck, Leonard can't concentrate on anything more than Jim's presence.
"You want me to what now?"
"Kneeeeead the dough. Imagine you're, oh, feeling for something on a body? And you have to um...palpate it a bit? I don't know, I'm trying to explain in your world without making myself sick. Just imagine that, except this time, instead of tons of extra paperwork, there's delicious, crusty goodness waiting for you."
Leonard eyes Jim skeptically, tentatively approaching the ball of dough. Prodding it suspiciously, he settles for massaging it, giving it a good poke every once in a while for good measure. The warm presence behind him makes him pause, turning his head and cocks an eyebrow at Jim.
"Well, I guess the fact that you took my instructions makes this a banner day, but I think the poor loaf would be better treated if we did this." Jim guides Bones's hands, folding and pressing the dough over and over. He pauses to cup flour in his hands and run them over Leonard's. "The better to keep them from sticking."
As they work the dough, Jim's breath teases across Leonard's ear, body warm and firm against him. It's all he can do to not simply lean back into Jim, but he doesn't want to break the camaraderie they're having.
Jim stills their hands, reaching past Leonard to cover the dough ball with a clean cloth, not moving away. A little breathless, Jim says, "Now, we, ah, leave it to rise again."
Leonard turns in his arms, leaning back on the counter, but makes no move to push Jim away. Jim grins unsteadily, not quite sure where to put his flour-covered hands. His grin turning wicked, Jim leans into Leonard, reaching behind him.
"Yes, Bones?" Batting his eyelashes, Jim leans a bit further forward, suddenly pulling back to scrub a handful of flour into Leonard's hair. Squawking indignantly, Leonard wrestles away from Jim, looking around for something to defend himself with. Jim stands guard on his arsenal of flour, but a lone squeeze bottle of olive oil catches his eye on the work counter.
Leonard has to look wild, hair disheveled and powdered white, and wielding the squeeze bottle. Jim's face splits into a grin. They circle the worktable, daring the other to mar its gleaming surface. Jim breaks first, lobbing his first handful unsuccessfully and flour fills the air. They laugh as he tries to duck the stream of oil that hits him in the face. Smearing the stuff across his face, he whoops, abandoning his post to tackle Leonard. Jim straddles his chest, stuffing the second handful down the front of Leonard's shirt. Leonard tears the top off the squeeze bottle, dumping the rest down Jim's front. After flailing at the counter for a moment, Jim grabs the nearest container and dumps confectioner's sugar on Leonard. They giggle like kids, Leonard feeling the most relaxed that he ever has in years.
As Jim sits on Leonard, he scoops the oily goop from his shirt, smearing it into Leonard's hair. Leonard flips them, leaning over and dripping on Jim as he really looks at the man below him. Jim's chest is heaving from laughing, eyes dancing beneath the crud all over his face. Leonard swipes his thumb over Jim's oil-slick lips, following its movement with his eyes.
Jim's grin shifted into something unsure, heart racing for a different reason. He looks back at Leonard, the intense look he meets a sudden shift from the mischievous grin before.
"Bones? Len...?" Jim wriggles, trying to get his attention, maybe break the tension that has filled the kitchen. Leonard places a hand on Jim's chest to still him. The fingertips of the other trace Jim's lower lip again before he leans down and licks the fragrant oil from Jim's lips. Jim reaches up to thread his hands in Leonard's hair, pulling him deeper into the kiss. It's unsure and messy and gross, but the terrible taste of the flour mixture is forgotten as the kiss deepens further.
Jim brings his hands up, threading them into Leonard's short, flour-covered, hair. Neither care that they're disgusting and on the floor like a couple of teenagers. All the tension and emotions they've held back burst forward all at once. Leonard growls as Jim arches up against him, but it's not enough, not close enough. Breaking the kiss, Leonard sits up, pulling Jim up by his shirt. Tugging Jim's shirt over his head, Leonard bites down on Jim's bared collarbone, eliciting a hiss and feeling Jim's fingers tugging at his hair.
"Too many fucking clothes, old man."
"I'll show you old, you bastard." Leonard grinds down against Jim, eliciting a gasp and a sharp buck of his hips. "That's what I thought. Get your ass up, I'm not fucking you on my kitchen floor."
Leonard stands, grabbing the waistband of Jim's jeans to haul him up when he doesn't move fast enough, bringing a finger up to stop the smartass remark about to escape Jim's mouth. "And it's not because I'm old."
He tugs Jim close for a rough kiss before pushing him in the direction of the staircase. They fumble their way up the steps, pausing to kiss or strip off another piece of clothing, dropping it wherever they can. By the time they reach Leonard's bedroom, they're both shirtless.
Jim shakes his ass at Leonard, dancing out of arm's reach before dropping his jeans. He winks and blows a kiss before losing his boxers too and throwing them at Leonard's head. Leonard keeps himself from muttering any of the insults that would usually have sprung to mind. Instead, he watches Jim as he reclines on the bed and abruptly stills. He catalogs every scar and freckle, unable to turn it off, even at this moment. Scrubbing a hand through his hair and over his face, he breaks himself out of it, pushing off the doorframe to take his clothes off.
"It's the flour and oil, isn't it?" Jim asks, tone surprisingly shy and self-conscious as he runs a hand over his chest, but at Leonard's disrobing, he grins and his hand moves to his cock instead.
Leonard walks to his bedside table, digging in the drawer to tuck a condom and lube under one of the pillows before climbing on the bed to kneel between Jim's legs. Reaching up to Leonard, Jim pulls him down into a kiss, breathing hard at the feeling of skin on skin.
It's hard to resist thrusting as Jim moans into his mouth, arching up into Leonard's body but he does his best. It's a test of his will power and self-control not to take what he wants as Jim's hands roam all over his body, picking at the flour and scrapping at his skin. His resistance only lasts as long as it takes Jim to grip his cock through his jeans.
"You going to fuck me or just kiss me all day?"
"Both?" Leonard suggests as he thrusts into Jim's firm grip, searching for more sensation that his jeans and underwear are denying him.
"Multi-talented. I like it," Jim says, lips curling into a smirk. The pressure of Jim's grip disappears only to return in a different manner as Jim's hands unfasten his jeans and push them down. "Nice choice of underwear."
"Oh shut up, they were a gift," Leonard says, embarrassed to be caught wearing his Batman boxers.
"I could make some crack about wearing tights but I think I'd rather just get rid of these before temptation takes over." Jim's hands echo his words, working quickly to strip Leonard completely. By the time Jim's done maneuvering him, Leonard finds himself on his back with Jim's lips against his bare stomach while his cock juts up close to his chin. "Much better, now we match."
Leonard raises an eyebrow and looks down the length of Jim's body. "I sort of doubt that."
"Well, yeah, you're wider and I'm longer."
"You're an asshole."
"Your flirtations go straight to my head."
Leonard wants to say something like I prefer you go straight to my head or something equally as awful but, instead, he threads his fingers along Jim's scalp. Jim looks up, winks and then licks a stripe across his stomach, tongue dragging along, dipping into his belly button before it delves closer to where Leonard wants, desperately, for it to go.
"Going to suck your dick. You have a problem with that?"
"Well, I'd say you're filthy with flour and oil…"
"Fuck you, you know what I meant."
"Yeah, I'm clean too," Jim says. "You want me to suck it?"
"Just wrap those fucking lips around my dick already. Always the talking with you. I thought you were a man of a-a-a-aaction." Leonard's voice catches as Jim slips his lips over the head and sucks, cheeks hollowing before taking a bit more in, releasing the suction and then repeating. His tongue traces the vein running the length of Leonard's cock. Before Leonard can control himself, he bucks up into that mouth, nonsensical words falling out of his mouth. When he feels his balls tightening, he tugs Jim off his cock. "Thought you wanted me to fuck you?"
"God, yes." Jim slides up Leonard's body, trapping their cocks between them, as he licks at Leonard's lips. "You going to do that?"
"I thought I might. It'll be a trial but I've been married, I can do it on demand," Leonard says, laughter bursting forth at the way that Jim's expression turns affronted for just a moment and then he grins.
"Well, if you must, then you must. I demand it."
Leonard tries to be suave as he reaches over his head for the lube and the condom he'd stashed, but he ends up knocking the pillows around and then the lube falls to the floor. Jim winks at him once more and then slides until he's leaning most of the way off the bed to retrieve the tube. Considering that Jim's ass is right there, it's absolutely impossible not to slap it.
"Hey!" Jim cries out with a laugh as he shimmies back onto the bed. "You don't get to slap my ass until after you've fucked me."
"Look at you taking charge."
"I run a tight ship."
"Yeah, you should see me in command. My employees fear the shit out of me."
Leonard figures that, if he lets Jim, Jim will continue talking and they'll never get to fucking so he does his best to shut Jim up. His hands grip Jim's ass and knead it, as if it were the bread they'd been working on downstairs. Jim moans, shutting up and arching his back, pushing into the touch.
Snatching the lube out of Jim's hands, Leonard drizzles some on his fingers and then pulls Jim's cheeks apart, running a finger across Jim's asshole and then sliding it in. "That's it. Take it in."
"Another one," Jim demands. Leonard can't quite achieve the depth he wants with lying under Jim like this.
"Want you under me," Leonard says and Jim nods his agreement before turning over obediently. Once Jim's on his stomach under Leonard, Leonard coats his fingers once more and then thrusts two fingers in, deep and hard. "Like that?"
"More," Jim demands, arching into Leonard's touch again. "Want your dick, not your fingers."
"I can do that," Leonard mutters, grabbing the condom and rolls it over himself before slicking it up. He's slow to slide into Jim. He's not taken enough time to prepare Jim like he would've preferred but, considering that it's been years since he's had someone under him and even longer since he's cared about that someone, Leonard lets himself get swept along with Jim's demands for more and faster and harder and please, Bones, fuck me now.
Sweat drips off his forehead, hitting the back of Jim's neck. Not breaking the rhythm, Leonard contorts until he can lick it off Jim. Once he's got the sweaty taste of Jim and himself on his tongue, he can't stop, sucking in Jim's skin and nipping at it before moving a hairsbreadth over and repeating his actions. He hopes it isn't enough to bruise as he'd prefer to not to think about Jim explaining the series of bruises to the rest of the bakery crew.
Jim grips his hand and slides it along his hip until he forces Leonard's hand around his dick. Oh, he'd forgotten about that part. It really has been too long. Leonard jacks Jim in time to his thrusts, speeding up as he gets closer. His orgasm comes on him quickly, sending his hips into quick snaps as he rides it out. Hand rough as he continues to jack Jim, mouth biting and nipping at Jim's neck and shoulders, he melds himself to Jim as best he can.
It's not long before Jim comes, knees collapsing under the weight of both of them. Leonard figures he should move - he has to be crushing Jim, but he can't really think right now. Perhaps Jocelyn had been right, Leonard really did only think with his dick and orgasm sent his brainpower out into the ether. That or sex turns him into a fucking moron with crazy ideas. Probably both.
When his toes stop tingling, his brain starts to work and he slowly pulls out of Jim then ties off the condom. While he's disposing of it in the bathroom, he sees how absolutely ridiculous he looks. His hair sticks out at all sorts of odd angles, he's got brushburn up one side and down the other, there are giant patches of oil soaked flour on his skin with paths traced by sweat rivulets. Dammit, he's appalling. How the hell did Jim ever find this attractive? He mutters to himself as he grabs a towel, dampens it and then washes off his chest.
Jim's hand on his stills him. He looks up to the mirror and sees Jim grinning at him, soft and indulgent, as he takes over wiping Leonard down.
"Figure I should be doing that to you," Leonard says as he watches Jim's hand trace over his skin.
"You can do me again, later." Jim continues to wash him and Leonard doesn't look away from Jim's face in the mirror.
"Jim," he starts to say.
"Bet that bread's risen so far that Christ pops out of it."
"That was bad, even for you."
"I feel like I'm covered in papier mache, and not in a sexy way."
"There's a sexy way to be...wait, I don't want to know."
"There's a sexy way to be covered in anything, you just have to go for it."
"Okay, piñata man, let's get you in the shower so I don't have to find out if there's candy under your hard shell."
"You're the best, baby." Jim uses a too flirtatious tone and then smacks Leonard's ass. "Go clean up your room, though, or you won't get any bread."
"That is just too far."
"Be out in a minute," Jim says and then steps into the shower, turning the dials while Leonard shakes his head and tries to figure out what the hell has happened to his life. He's sent his daughter back to Georgia, made a mess of his kitchen and bedroom and fucked Jim Kirk. All in the space of a few hours. Who the hell is he and what the hell has happened to him?
"You're thinking too much! Go clean or get in here and wash my back," Jim yells from within the shower.
By the time Leonard's put on some clothes and finished changing the sheets, Jim's stepping into the bedroom, toweling off his head with Leonard's towel.
"Ready to see what we've done to your kitchen and if that bread is salvageable?"
"You need some clothes," Leonard says. "Naked in the kitchen is a no-no."
"I'm grabbing some of yours, then," Jim says as he shakes his jeans and oily flour drips to the floor. "And I'll clean that up. Later."
"Fine." Leonard raids his dresser, pulling out a pair of jeans, a pair of boxers (in a fit of pique, he grabs the Incredible Hulk ones) and then tosses them at Jim.
"You're too generous."
Leonard heads downstairs as Jim dresses, barely resisting snarling at the state of the kitchen. Oozing mess covers every surface inside and out into the hall.
Jim speaks up from behind him, "We could...ignore it for now? Clean it up in the morning?"
Leonard sighs, shaking his head. "No, it'll only become worse. I'll get it corralled while you're salvaging the bread."
"You don't want to knead my dough anymore?"
"I'll – " Jim cuts him off with a kiss, winking and stepping into the kitchen. Leonard stands there for a bit, not quite sure what to do with anything that had happened tonight, until Jim's off-key singing breaks him from his trance and he goes in search of his broom.
In what seems like a few short minutes but is actually at least an hour of baking and cleaning, they're curled up in Leonard's bed, eating bread and licking butter from one another's fingers. Leonard wants to make a comment about how it's improper to eat in bed or something but he's too distracted by the way that Jim's lips curl around his fingers, reminding him of the way that those same lips had curled around his dick.
"Stay?" he asks before he thinks twice.
"Thought you'd never ask."
Jim stands, staring aghast at the contents of Bones's pantry. One hand is frozen where it had been scratching his bare stomach, the other pointing at the offending item.
Blinking, Bones comes into the kitchen, mumbling hello to Jim. Prodding at the coffee-maker, he watches it slowly drip coffee into the carafe. The smell finally rouses him enough to realize that Jim hasn't moved.
"What's the matter, Jim?"
Indignant sputtering is the only response, Jim finally moving enough to grab the box of mix, turning to shake it at Bones in anger. "What...what monstrosity is this?"
"Muffin mix? It's really tasty...?"
"Tasty? It's from the mouth of hell, Bones! A MIX!" He shakes the box for emphasis, sleep and sex mussed hair making him look savage.
Bones slowly backs up, hands raised. "Is this going to be like the donut thing?"
"Donuts are a step up from this! You know who uses this? Chiron! He makes the poor souls eat it as they're forced to cross into the underworld! SATAN tortures bakers with it in the inner circles of HELL!"
Quickly stepping around the counter, Bones feels safer with the island between them. "Look, Jim, we can't all..."
"Silence, heathen! This isn't just a torture device, it's a generic torture device! It' a VALU torture device. Not only is it so generic it's called "value" but the demonic forces who created it couldn't even bring themselves to finish the word!" Jim chucks the box at Bones, trying to wipe his hands of some imaginary, hellish residue.
"Well, clearly, as Satan's minion, I must take it upon myself to tarnish your heavenly standards." Sarcasm drips from every word and Bones snatches the box from the counter and starts pulling mixing bowls and measuring cups from his cabinets. "Stand back, angelic chef, I'm here to corrupt you."
With a moan, Jim collapses into a stool, face in his hands, muttering about the fate of delicate palates. Bones rolls his eyes, making the goddamn muffins.
Neither Jim nor Bones speak during the baking process, Jim sitting in a pouting funk and Bones trying not to hurt himself from rolling his eyes. Occasionally the words despicable, heresy or poisonous can be heard, muffled by the hands over Jim's face. Again, Bones mentally applauds himself for not picking the man up and hurling him off the balcony out of spite. Digging in the mix powder around flecks of "strawberry" he snags a chocolate chip, flicking it at Jim's head. The answering moan of horror makes him snicker, as he sneaks another one out for himself.
Finally baked and cooled enough, Bones snatches one, tugging Jim's head up by his hair. When his mouth opens to squawk in protest, he shoves the muffin in his mouth. "Try that, you snooty bastard." Turning back to the plate, he starts picking another one apart, eating pieces and muttering to himself. "See if I offer to feed you after fucking again...gonna make you cook and do all the goddamn dishes."
Jim glares at him, not moving his jaw. If his teeth pierce the muffin it would be admitting defeat. The smell is rather appealing, but no! He can't! Finally, needing to swallow or drown in his saliva, Jim bites down on the muffin. Chewing slowly with a scowl on his face, he tries to convey he's only doing this to appease Leonard and possibly ingratiate himself enough to see him naked again before the next Coming. With a gravity that could only be compared to Socrates drinking hemlock he swallows. "There, happy?"
"Hmm, well, you did deign to bring your cultured palate down to the commoners. But you can't deny it's tasty." Jim opens his mouth to respond, stopping when Leonard brings up a finger to silence him. "And if you lie, you'll be lucky to see even the slightest hint of my bedroom before you lose the ability to hold an erection, unaided."
"Fine, the chocolate's nice. If you can even consider it chocolate instead of chocolate product."
"Good enough." Leonard tosses Jim a triumphant look and pulls another muffin apart. "Want another one?"