Wanted: One personal assistant to the CEO – preferably someone who can read and write, knows how to make coffee or at least how to get to a Starbucks, and is good at constantly scheduling and rescheduling appointments. Excellent compensation and medical benefits included. Must be attractive.
It’s not like Leonard wants to apply for this job. Really, this is the worst help wanted ad he’s ever seen, and he’s seen a hell of a lot of them lately. It’s poorly written, begging for a sexual harassment lawsuit and whatever jackass thought this was a good idea probably shouldn’t be running a company, let alone be looking for a personal assistant.
But there’s a small hand in Leonard’s, one that clutches at his fingers and looks up at him with wide, expecting eyes, and she deserves the entire world handed to her on a silver platter. So he applies, because this little girl is all he has, and she needs things he can’t give her while he’s unemployed and penniless.
He really has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
The guy who placed the ad (Jim Kirk his fancy name plate reads) looks like he’s straight out of high school, wet behind the ears and definitely not old enough to be the CEO of a company. He should be in college, raiding panty drawers, not sitting behind a desk that’s bigger than Leonard’s kitchen.
And he’s hot too, drop dead fucking hot, with dirty blonde hair and these eyes that are so goddamn blue Leonard is convinced they can’t be real but somehow knows that they are. Jim Kirk stepped right off the cover of GQ magazine and Leonard’s pants are a lot tighter than they were when he was out in the waiting room.
“You are extremely over qualified for this job. Why the hell do you want to be my personal assistant?” Jim is perched on the edge of his massive mahogany desk, Leonard’s resume in his hands. There is a pair of glasses pushed up on the top of his head and Leonard would bet anything they aren’t prescription.
“Is that really any of your business?” Leonard folds his arms over his chest, narrows his eyes, because fuck if he’s going to explain himself to some snot nosed little punk who has a silver spoon in his mouth.
“I thought it might be if you want to work for me. You should say something like ‘I love helping people’ or ‘I love fetching coffee’. Something that will make me want to hire you.”
“I love doing grunt work that a trained monkey could do,” Leonard replies and his eyes roll so hard it hurts, it goddamn fucking hurts. “Happy?”
“Extremely.” Jim pulls his glasses off his head and puts them on. They make him look a little older, a little less like a fratboy, but only a little. “So, you’re a surgeon. I really don’t get why you applied for this. Shouldn’t you be in a hospital somewhere, saving lives and….other shit that doctors do?”
Leonard gets to his feet and snatches his resume out of Jim’s hands. “Listen, if I can perform brain surgery, I sure as shit can get coffee for you and schedule a few goddamn appointments. Do I have the job or what?”
Jim laughs and sticks his hand out. “Welcome to Kirk Industries.”
On his first day of work, Leonard brings a lunch that consists of: one apple, one ham sandwich, a reused plastic bottle that he filled with tap water and a small piece of paper that has a tiny handprint and a red scribble that sort of resembles a heart on it. He takes his lunch to the office in a brown paper bag and it’s like he’s going to his first day of Kindergarten instead of starting a new job at a Fortune 500 company.
There definitely will be no recess in the middle of the day, that’s for sure. His desk is an overflowing mess when he arrives, piles and piles of files and papers encompassing every open inch of space, and it can’t even be possible to have this much work to do on his very first day. Leonard isn’t sure what the fuck he’s gotten himself into but he’s tempted to turn around and go back home. The weight of the brown paper bag in his hand and the tiny handprint on the note inside are the only things that keep him rooted in place, keeps him from running screaming from the building.
There’s an iPhone sitting on top of one of the files with a pink sticky note attached to it: Say hi to Siri for me.
Leonard sighs, because what the fuck does that even mean, and crumples the note. He apparently doesn’t have time to find out because the massive mound of paperwork on his desk gets bigger when a blonde with four inch beige stiletto heels stops by his desk and throws another folder on top.
The blonde, even with her ridiculous and probably painful taste in footwear, looks like a no-nonsense type of girl. She has on minimal makeup (but doesn’t really need it anyway), her hair pulled back into a tight bun, and her nails are short, trimmed, and not manicured. Working here, she probably doesn’t have time for such luxuries. “Ready to quit yet?”
“Yes,” Leonard says, putting his lunch down and sinking into his chair. It’s hard and uncomfortable and he groans loudly, shifting around. Lumbar support doesn’t exist here. “This is a joke right?” He gestures at the pile of paperwork.
“You wish. Make sure Kirk signs and dates each one of these and send them out by four today.” She pulls a pencil out from behind her ear. “I’m Christine, from legal.”
Leonard, Southern gentleman that he is, sticks out his hand and shakes with her. “Leonard McCoy. Please to meet you, ma’am.” He picks the top file up and flips through it, noting that he needs a hell of a lot of highlighters and post-its to make sure Jim signs these in the right places.
“Ma’am.” She laughs, and it’s a sweet sound, a little high pitched but maybe that’s because of the shoes. “I give you six weeks before you’re at the unemployment office.”
“I think I can handle getting a few signatures.” Leonard pockets his new iPhone and gathers as many as the files as possible. He heads towards Kirk’s office, ready to tackle this stack of paperwork so he can actually see what his desk looks like, and finds it, not as surprisingly as it should be, empty. “Where is Mr. Kirk?”
Christine bends down one of the folders in Leonard’s arms and scribbles an address down with her pencil. “You’ll most likely find him here. I’ve had to track him down once or twice for court appearances. He’s probably got his head stuck in an engine down in the basement.” She sticks the pencil back into her hair and smiles at Leonard, all white and perfect teeth. “Six weeks, farm boy.” She walks off, her heels clacking sharply against the tile flooring.
Leonard shuffles the files in his arms and looks down at the address and then immediately back up, a question burning on the edge of his tongue. He yells after her, “Hey, who’s Siri?”
Christine is long gone though.
Leonard takes a taxi to the address written on the file. He also takes along every folder that was cluttering his desk and now they litter the backseat and he really ought to think about getting a messenger bag or something. It took two trips just to get all the paperwork into the cab.
He sits in the back, his body swaying with each turn and curve of the vehicle, and plays with his new phone. It takes him five minutes to figure out how to turn it on, another three to stop accidentally dialing random people. The cab is pulling up at his stop when he holds down the home button and a woman speaks to him.
“Hello, I’m Siri. What’s your name?”
At least he accomplished something today.
The address turns out to be a hotel, smack in the middle of Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Jim Kirk (CEO, genius and tabloid fodder) lives in a fucking hotel like some sort of permanent tourist. And not just any hotel, naturally he lives in one that his family owns, one that was named one of America’s top hotels (the door says so).
Leonard feels like an intruder just crossing the threshold of this place. The floors are made of marble, the door handles of gold, and everyone is dressed like they’re going somewhere, like they’re very important people and the world would stop running if they suddenly stopped breathing.
And here’s Leonard, his arms full of folders, his tie crooked, his shirt already wrinkled, and he doesn’t look like he belongs. No matter what anyone says, he’s not stupid, wasn’t born yesterday, and Leonard knows he doesn’t belong here. But he has a job to do, so he keeps his head up, and makes sure he doesn’t bump into anything that looks expensive.
Even though Jim lives on the top floor of the building (according to the front desk clerk who gave him the stink eye for interrupting what is probably her daily manicure), Leonard finds him in the basement where he seems to have some kind of workshop set up. There are motorcycles everywhere, cars everywhere, and everything in this room costs more than Leonard’s entire life. It’s a goddamn waste, if you ask him.
“Mr. Kirk?” He juggles the files in his hand, holding them against his hip like his baby, and they’re rapidly slipping through his fingers. He has to look frazzled, overwhelmed, and fucking brain surgery is definitely easier than this shit.
Jim, hunched over one of the bikes and covered with what is probably grease, pulls his head up and grins at Leonard. “Hello, new assistant.” He wipes his hand on a towel that’s thrown over his shoulder and there’s still black lingering on his skin, beneath his nails, in the creases in his skin. He needs a good shower (but that’s a line of thought that doesn’t need to be explored at the moment).
“You need to sign these.” Leonard spreads the files out on the hood of one of the cars, an Aston Martin that must be in the process of being refinished since it’s missing two doors, a tire and the passenger seat.
“I’m kind of busy, Bones. Come back later.” Jim bends over the motorcycle again, his fingers working meticulously at the transmission.
Leonard pulls on the back of his shirt and thrusts a pen at him. “Sign the goddamn papers,” he grunts, not willing to put up with any shit right now. He’s had enough. He’s had enough with the files and the folders and the papers and the post-it notes. Jim is going to sign these or Leonard is going to have a shit fit on his first day of work.
“Bossy, aren’t you?” Jim takes the pen, smearing grease all over the Bic.
“Excuse me for getting a bit cranky. There are only eight thousand and eleven things I need you to sign and I had to track you down like a goddamn basset hound because you couldn’t bother showing up at the office today.” Leonard’s voice sounds harsh in his own ears, whiny and demanding, and this isn’t the way he wanted to start this job. This isn’t even the person he wants to be.
Jim opens the first file on the hood and starts to sign where Leonard placed small post-its (which alone took a good deal of his morning). “Bones, I couldn’t come in today. The transmission on my bike is shot.”
“Take another one! You have fifteen in here.” Leonard flips one of the papers and holds it for Jim to sign beneath. “And why the hell are you calling me that? Do I look like a skeleton to you?”
“You’re a sawbones, aren’t you?” Jim keeps signing, his signature becoming more and more illegible with every stroke of the pen. “That’s what your resume said.”
“Nobody says that anymore. This isn’t 1840.”
“No, it’s 2012 and I’m bringing sawbones back.” Jim finishes signing the papers and he tosses the pen across the room. His right hand, still pressed against the hood, slips and all of Leonard’s carefully constructed files and post-its go flying in every direction. “Oops.”
It takes everything in Leonard’s bones not to choke Jim Kirk.
“Siri, I have a headache.”
“I found six drug stores fairly close to you.”
Thank God for small miracles.
In Leonard’s almost six months with Kirk Industries, he has probably answered, deleted or ignored more than a million emails. That’s probably understating it too. Maybe more like a hundred million. A zillion? Whatever, it’s a hell of a lot of email.
He’s in the middle of answering one of the seven hundred emails currently sitting in his inbox when the lid of his laptop is slammed shut. He barely has time to yank his fingers away before he becomes a case of workers’ compensation. “What the fuck?”
Jim, who apparently can be a ninja when he wants because where the hell did he come from, is leaning against his desk. There’s a grin on his face, the one that’s almost permanent and reeks of cat and canary. “Bones, I need your help.”
“I am not giving you a prostate exam. You can stop asking.” Leonard rolls his eyes and starts categorizing some papers on his desk, first in order of importance, then by date received. He has to do something to with his hands and he might as well work until he can get back to his email.
“I thought hiring a doctor would be a lot more fun than this.” Jim thrusts two envelopes into Leonard’s face. They’re almost exactly identical – ivory, 3.5x6, with the Kirk Industries logo in the upper left hand corner. “Which one do you like better?”
“This is what you interrupted me for? I was rescheduling your interview with W magazine for the fifth time. One of these days you’re going to have to actually meet with them.”
“Yeah, but not today.” Jim wiggles the envelopes in the air. “Come on, which one. I’ve asked everyone on this floor and there’s no clear consensus.”
“Jesus Christ. I thought you were supposed to be a genius.” Leonard grabs the envelopes and licks the glue strip on the back of both. They both taste like shit (bitter and pasty and this is going to linger in his mouth for hours) but one tastes like fruity shit so Leonard shoves that one back into Jim’s hands. “This one tastes better.”
Jim’s looking at him with those stupid blue eyes, and they’re wide, like they’re going to roll right out of the socket and into his lap. “I’ve asked everyone this question. Everyone. You’re the first person to come up with that.”
“I have a doctorate in envelope licking.” Leonard pulls the lid of his laptop open and goes back to his email. “Now get out of here. You have a meeting with the board in half an hour and I can’t reschedule that. If you’re late, I’m going to shove your head so far up your ass you can examine your own prostate.”
“I love it when you threaten me.” Jim winks and then bounces away, in the complete opposite direction he should be going.
Leonard is going to have to track him down, grab him by the back of his shirt and drag him into the meeting like a toddler going through the terrible twos. The ad in the paper never mentioned that this was a glorified babysitting job.
It’s four minutes after midnight and the second Leonard’s head hits the pillow, his phone begins to vibrate. It dances and skitters across his nightstand until it falls off the edge, somersaulting through the air twice before landing on the shit brown carpeting that CSI has probably investigated a time or two.
The phone continues to vibrate there, in the carpeting, and Leonard pushes his face into his pillow. Maybe if he tries hard enough he’ll suffocate and death seems like a good reason for not answering the phone when your boss calls in the middle of the night.
He manages to only muffle the sound of the vibrating, not his respiratory system, so he dangles his hand off the bed, reaching for the hard plastic with his fingertips. Sliding his head out from beneath his pillow, his left eye pops open just as he pulls the phone up onto the mattress. He holds the phone in his hand but doesn’t answer the insistent request to FaceTime, not yet. He spots the bundle of blankets beside him; the moving, breathing, living blankets and leans over cautiously, just to check.
Joanna is still sleeping, right where he left her two hours ago: curled up on the far end of his mattress under the comforter, a ragged teddy bear pulled against her chest, her tiny thumb in her mouth. It’s a habit he needs to break her of but he doesn’t have the heart, not yet anyway, to take even the smallest comfort away from her. This little girl has him wrapped so tightly around her finger that circulation should be cut off and necrosis should set in.
This is all for her, so Leonard answers the goddamn phone, when he’s been up for twenty hours now and spent the majority of that cleaning out an inbox that only refills itself with three new emails for each one he answers and deletes. He gave up an hour ago but his job is never done. “What?” It’s a whisper, a whisper verging and melting into something higher pitched, something angrier and so very fucking tired.
“I can’t sleep,” Jim whines and from what Leonard can see, he’s in bed, in stripped red and green pajamas that make him look older than his twenty-four years (but not any wiser). They’re the stately pajamas of a CEO (or an eighty year old man) but Jim looks weirdly out of place. “What are you doing?”
“Building a space shuttle. What do you think I’m doing?” Leonard cups the phone with his hand, trying to shield the dim light with his fingers. He doesn’t need Joanna waking up and he really can’t afford to stay up all night rocking her back to sleep in his arms. “Take a sleeping pill; they’re in the medicine cabinet in the master bathroom. We have to be at the ground breaking ceremony for Kirk Tower at eight.” Leonard would know, he’s stolen a couple on occasion and more than once thought about grinding a few up and mixing them in with Jim’s mashed potatoes.
“Kirk Tower,” Jim scoffs, his nose crinkling up along with his upper lip and it would be kind of cute if it wasn’t midnight and Leonard wasn’t in his bed. “What a waste of time and money. We’re tearing down an architectural gem to put up a condominium.”
“That’s how you make money, Mr. Kirk. If you don’t like it, maybe you shouldn’t sign your name on all those papers without reading them first.”
Jim frowns and there’s something dark brewing in his eyes, something that might be remorse or regret but Leonard’s never seen this before and it’s hard to pin an exact word to it. Jim’s eyes are usually all fire, light, a ball of enthusiasm swimming in the bluest ocean. This is something else. “Maybe you’re right.”
“Great. So I’ll see you in a couple of hours. Goodnight, Mr. Kirk.” Leonard reaches for the end button. If he falls asleep now, he can still get a good five or six hours in before he has to get up.
“Jesus, Bones. Call me Jim.”
Sighing, Leonard nods, giving in on a battle he’s been fighting for months now. It’s too late and he’s too tired to be giving any sort of lectures on what is appropriate in the workplace. This isn’t work, this is his bedroom, and his eyes are about to close against his will. “Goodnight, Jim.” He ends the call.
He tosses his phone onto the floor and settles in to finally go to sleep when he hears a soft daddy from the other side of the bed. Fuck.
It’s going to be a very long night.
“Siri, I’m tired.”
“You haven’t slept a wink?”
“No, I sure as fuck haven’t.”
“Listen to me, Leonard. Put down your phone and take a nap. I’ll wait here.”
The ground breaking ceremony goes on as planned.
Jim is there, eyes hidden behind black sunglasses even though it’s an overcast morning and there are dark storm clouds rolling in from the east. He’s wearing the blue suit Leonard picked up yesterday from the dry cleaners and he looks good, damn good, but his body is rigid, his spine straight and uptight. He looks uncomfortable and from the hard set of his shoulders, the severe line of his lips, Leonard can tell he’s pissed off.
Christine appears at Leonard’s side and bumps his shoulder with hers. “You look like shit.” She looks far from shit, with her blonde hair, fuck me heels and tight fitting button down blouse. This is what all the women at Kirk Industries look like.
“I had a late night.” Leonard hides a yawn behind his cup of Starbucks (he had another one for the boss but tossed it when he was stood up on Jim’s door step this morning and was left finding his own way to the ceremony). “What crawled up Jim’s ass this morning?”
“Jim? You’re on a first name basis with him now?” She has one perfectly manicured eyebrow lifted at the moment and there’s a hint of a smile pulling at her lips. No doubt she’s thinking something highly inappropriate about Leonard’s work ethic.
There’s suddenly a lot of clapping from the crowd and Jim steps up to a podium to make his speech, the one still firmly tucked into Leonard’s back pocket. Leonard is about to have a heart attack, fall over and burrow himself six feet under right here and now, and Christine comments that he looks constipated. He’s in the middle of diagnosing his own heart palpitations when Jim pulls a piece of paper from his jacket pocket and begins to read from it like a programmed drone.
“Today is a historic day,” Jim starts out and the crowd is instantly mesmerized, hanging onto his every word like he’s a deity. If he told half of these people to jump, they’d ask how high and if their feet were allowed to touch the ground again in their lifetime. It’s the power of being a very important person in this world.
The speech is boring, lacks all of the sense of humor and charm that resides in the flash cards in Leonard’s back pocket. “He’s some sort of pod person.”
“No, he’s just a puppet and his strings are being pulled.” Christine nods toward the back of the small stage Jim is on and amongst the body guards, personal assistants and public relations employees, there’s a man about Jim’s height and stature, a bit older, in a crisp, black suit and expensive looking shoes.
“Sam is here?”
Leonard’s had the pleasure of meeting Sam Kirk three times in the amount of time he’s worked for Jim. Twice was in a board meeting (which only makes sense since Sam is chairman of the board) and once was in Jim’s penthouse apartment. There had been a disagreement of some sort and Leonard walked into loud shouting and carelessly thrown curse words that died on bitter tongues the second he stepped foot into the room. There was a lot of awkward silence that day on the top floor of Hotel Kirk.
As far as Leonard knows, Sam’s always been all work and no play, and surely he’s a dull boy. Though he definitely bears the signature Kirk looks and even though he’s older and has a stick lodged further up his ass, he’s just as attractive as Jim.
“Yeah. I heard from the secretary pool that there was a little disagreement last night about tearing this recreation center down for the tower.” Christine plucks the Starbucks cup from Leonard’s hand and takes a sip. The coffee must be lukewarm at best by now but she doesn’t seem to mind, just chugs the caffeine down like the nonfat soy white chocolate mocha was made for her. “I guess we know who really wields the power over this company.”
Leonard waits until Jim finishes the world’s most boring speech and then leaves Christine to meet him at the bottom of the stage steps. “Hey,” he says, taking the white sheet of paper that’s suddenly being angrily thrust at him. “I waited for you this morning.” It’s probably the worst, least important thing to say at the moment but it’s been on the top of Leonard’s mind for hours now. It boils down to being stood up, and even by an employer, it’s still annoying.
“Yeah, I had a surprise breakfast meeting with Sam. I meant to send you a text.” Jim seems distracted and he’s turning his head, looking here and there and everywhere but at Leonard. “Can we get out of here now?” He doesn’t exactly wait for Leonard’s approval before he starts walking off.
Leonard jogs a bit to catch up with Jim, shoving the paper into his pocket with the other speech. “Don’t you want to watch the wrecking ball?”
“No,” Jim says behind him, into the wind, and the words drift past Leonard’s ears and fade into the distance. “I sure as fuck don’t.”
They’re on the road, tucked safely into the back seat of a black town car when the wrecking ball tears apart an architectural gem.
Joanna is just drifting off to sleep (after three bedtime stories and a cup of warm milk) when someone starts banging on the front door. Her eyes pop open and all of Leonard’s hard work over the past hour is shot. At least she hasn’t started crying yet but her thumb has made its way into her mouth.
Leonard picks her up, balancing her on his hip, and her small arms snake around his neck. “Let’s go see who Daddy is going to murder,” he says, walking through the ridiculously tiny apartment to the door in all of twenty steps.
This place isn’t much, with its shag carpeting and peeling wallpaper, and Leonard certainly has the income now to move to a larger place, but for now this is home and it’s really all they need. Plus the neighbors are willing to watch his kid at all hours of the night. Win-fucking-win scenario.
Leonard throws the front door open and finds Jim standing there, fist poised in the air. “I’m off the clock. What the fuck do you want?” Joanna takes this moment to hide in his neck, burying her nose as far into his skin as she possibly can. He’s going to have to put a dollar in the swear jar.
“Bones.” Jim sways a bit, his hand falling to his side, and he’s drunk, so goddamn drunk. His eyes are glazed over, his pupils dilated, and the familiar scent scotch permeates everything – his clothes, his hair, his breath. He must be on some kind of spectacular bender. “Bones, you have a kid?” His hand is reaching out, poking Joanna in the shoulder.
Slapping Jim’s hand away, Leonard pulls him into the apartment and slams the door shut. “Yes and she was just falling asleep so thanks for ruining that.”
“Sorry.” Jim falls onto the sofa Leonard picked up on a sidewalk somewhere a few weeks ago. It was clean and free, which was right in Leonard’s furniture budget. “But Jesus, when were you going to tell me?”
“Never?” Leonard cranes his neck to look down at his little girl, a bit relieved that she’s falling asleep on him. Her eyes are fluttering, her lips lax and open and in a moment there’s going to be saliva on his collar. “It’s really none of your business.”
Jim digs around in his pocket and comes up with a flask. He takes a large swig and points at Leonard with his free hand. “Right. None of my business. Nothing is any of my business.”
Leonard rolls his eyes because a goddamn Jim Kirk pity party is the last thing he needs right now. He really needs a shower, a warm bed, fifteen hours of uninterrupted sleep, not this. He isn’t paid enough for this. “I’m going to put her to bed. Again. Just…don’t move.”
He leaves the room and lays Joanna down in the bedroom, covers her with a blanket and runs his fingers through her hair. She looks up at him through barely opened eyes, sticks her thumb in her mouth, and then falls asleep. She hardly ever falls asleep this easily and Leonard isn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth. He leaves the nightlight on, the door cracked open, and quietly retreats to the living room.
“What’s her name?” Jim asks from the couch, where he’s now reclining like he owns the damn thing. He just comes in and takes over everything and maybe he doesn’t do it on purpose but that’s the Jim Kirk way.
Leonard takes the flask from Jim’s loose fingers and sniffs at it before taking a swig. It’s smooth, really damn good, and he would expect nothing less from someone who can snap his fingers what get anything he wants. “Joanna. She’s almost two.”
“Joanna,” Jim says, his lips moving even when his voice is not, like he’s trying to wrap his tongue around the word. “She’s cute. We should open a daycare center so you can bring her to work.”
“Yeah, like that’ll happen.” Draining the flask, Leonard throws it back at Jim and stands in the middle of the room, hands on his hips. The booze is warming his stomach, trailing down his throat through his body, down to his toes. It’s been a while since he’s had anything that cost more than five dollars a bottle and he wants more. Too bad the flask is empty now. “What are you doing here?”
Jim rubs at his eyes with his fists and he looks exactly like a tired and worn out Joanna. It’s not as cute of a look on him as it is on her. “I don’t know. I wanted some company, I guess.”
“Company? I spent all day with you. Surely there’s someone else you can bother when you get shitfaced.” There’s no place left to sit since Jim is occupying the couch so Leonard sinks to the floor, leaning back against the sofa. He can’t see Jim and maybe it’s better that way.
There’s a pause, a lengthy and kind of awkward pause during which Jim breathes heavily (and Leonard notes that maybe he’s got the beginning of a respiratory infection brewing). Finally, after what seems to be eternity but can’t really be more than a couple of minutes, Jim speaks, “Not really. I only have you.”
Leonard can’t dwell on it, can’t even wrap his head around those words. Jim is surrounded by people constantly but there’s no one he really seems close with. He has no friends that Leonard has ever seen, no girlfriend or boyfriend. No wonder he ended up here on a bender. “What’s wrong, Jim? Why are you drunk on my sofa?”
“Sam is up my ass. He doesn’t like the direction I’m trying to take the company in.” Ah, that must be the anti-wrecking ball direction. “We’re not adding anything to this fucking world. We’re tearing shit down, shit that means something to people, and replacing it with ugly, modern overpriced condos. It’s all about making money and that’s not why my dad founded this company.”
Leonard leans his head back, trying to look up at Jim but all he can see is a jean clad thigh and a pale forearm. “So tell Sam to fuck off. You’re the CEO.”
“I can’t. He’s the fucking chairman of the board. I can’t take a shit without running it past him.” Jim suddenly slinks down onto the floor next to Leonard and they’re shoulder to shoulder, thigh to thigh. “I’m fucked.”
Turning his head, Leonard gives him a small shrug because there’s nothing Jim Kirk’s personal assistant can say to make this better. He’s not going to come up with a plan that’s going to change the company, change a brother’s mind. The least Leonard can do is give him a sympathetic shoulder before he tosses his boss out onto his ass.
“Where is her mother?”
It’s a rapid change of topic and Leonard’s head is spinning trying to keep up. It must be the alcoholic slowing his mind, throwing him through a loop, but he’s been a functioning alcoholic for most of his life and he can’t start blaming it now for things.
“Dead,” Leonard mutters, looking away. This is something he doesn’t want to talk about, doesn’t need anyone knowing about. He doesn’t want to see the pity in Jim’s eyes. “She died during childbirth.”
“That still happens?” Jim asks, laying his hand on Leonard’s thigh. It’s a supportive hand, an I’m sorry hand, and it’s anything but a drunk feel up. Probably.
“Yeah. It was a hard pregnancy. There were complications.” Leonard pushes Jim’s hand off his thigh. “I don’t want to talk about this. Why don’t you go home? I’m tired. I have a demanding boss who keeps me up all fucking night.”
Jim huffs and leans his head on Leonard’s shoulder. He’s crossing so many lines right now that there aren’t enough harassment courses in the world to cover them all. “I don’t want to go. That apartment is so lonely.”
“You live in a hotel. Go bang on someone’s door and lean on them. There are probably hundreds of people beneath your feet there that you can bother.” Leonard should push him away, should give him a glass of water and call a taxi to take him home. Instead, he lets Jim lean on him. It’s not every day an attractive, rich drunk noses Leonard’s shirt.
Jim presses his lips against Leonard’s neck and then pulls away. He looks at Leonard with those ocean eyes and they aren’t as glassy as they were earlier. He’s sobering up. “Yeah, but none of them are as hot as you are.”
“I think this is sexual harass—” Leonard doesn’t even get to finish his thought before Jim’s lips are on his and there’s a tongue dueling with his own. Jim tastes like the inside of a scotch bottle and Leonard can’t help himself, he licks into that mouth, chases after the alcohol that has long been digested.
This is the most inappropriate kiss he’s ever had and he gives in, lets it go on for far longer than it should before gently pulling away. “You’re drunk,” Leonard says, a stupid need to state the obvious settling into his brain. His lips are numb and he can still taste Jim.
“Not really, not anymore. I’ve wanted to do that for a while.” Jim is grinning, his signature cat and canary, and it’s a beautiful thing, it really is. But still, completely inappropriate.
Leonard shakes his head, trying to get his brain to start thinking and not his dick. “You’re my boss. We can’t do this.” He scrambles from the floor and puts as much space as he can between himself and Jim. It isn’t much since he lives in a glorified shoebox but it’s better than nothing. “Let me call you a cab.”
Jim sighs and looks down at his hands. Whatever he’s thinking, whatever he’s feeling, he keeps to himself. The grin is gone and in its place is an ugly frown. “Yeah, okay.”
This is something they won’t talk about again for a long, long time, but it’s something Leonard will think about every day.
“Siri, I did something stupid.”
“It’s okay, Leonard. We all mess up sometimes.”
It’s four in the morning and Leonard’s phone is vibrating across his nightstand again. Half asleep, he picks it up and wanders out into the living room. “You better be dying.”
“I think I am. My mucus is green. Is that normal?” To Jim’s credit, he actually sounds like death, like he swallowed a blowfish and it got stuck in his esophagus on the way down. It is cold and flu season and Jim couldn’t be bothered to get a flu shot when Leonard told him to.
Leonard rubs some crust from his eyes and lays on his sofa. He’s avoided sitting on it or even looking at it since Jim’s impromptu visit to his apartment a few weeks ago (avoidance has always been his strong suit) but now he sinks into the soft cushions and tries to find sleep again. “Do you have a fever?”
“I think so. I don’t know. I’m so goddamn cold, Bones. I’ve got like seven blankets on and it’s not helping.” Jim takes this moment to hack up a lung and from what Leonard can tell, it’s a wet, productive cough.
“Are you nauseous? Do you ache?”
“Yes and yes. I’m dying, I’m really fucking dying. Make sure Christine has a copy of my will. I’m not going to make it to see the sun rise.” What a drama queen.
Leonard gets off the sofa and starts looking for his shoes. “I think you have pneumonia. Stay put and I’ll come and get you. You need a chest x-ray.” He hangs up before Jim has any time to put up a fight about it. It’s not the middle ages anymore but this can’t be allowed to linger without treatment.
So Leonard leaves Joanna with the neighbor (who probably is really tired of answering her door at odd hours of the night) and spends the rest of his night and the next three days sitting by Jim’s hospital bedside. He was dead on with the pneumonia diagnosis.
And all he can think, while he sits there and forces Jim to eat lime Jell-O, is that this is his life, this is all he has. It’s not exactly what he imagined all those years ago when he studied sixteen hours a day and learned the inside of the human body as well as the back of his hand.
But there’s a reason he’s here today, working twenty hour days and never seeing his daughter while she’s awake. There’s a reason that festers in the back of his mind and pokes at him every second of every day, something that he sees when he goes to sleep and haunts him when he wakes.
Leonard made his choices and he has to live with them.
“Siri, what is the meaning of life?”
Today is Leonard’s first day off in eight weeks. As much as he’d like to spend the entire day in his bed, catching up on sleep he’s been missing out on for the past year, there are things to do. There are always things to do.
First up on the list is grocery shopping so he buckles Joanna into a shopping cart at the local Whole Foods and walks up and down the aisles, a pad of paper clutched in his hand. The cart is full of vegetables and fruits and everything that is required on a well-balanced diet, but Leonard finds himself drifting into the center aisles, where the store keeps the good stuff.
He’s checking the nutrition on a bag of potato chips (it unsurprisingly has no redeeming qualities), Joanna slapping at the bag playfully, when his phone rings.
“No. No fucking way.” There’s another dollar for the swear jar and Joanna’s giggling is almost enough to keep him from getting completely pissed about this. Jim Kirk can’t survive one day on his own. It’s sad, pathetic, and probably really good job insurance.
Throwing the bag into the cart, Leonard digs his phone out of his pocket. “I haven’t had a goddamn day off in months. Months, Jim. So if you’re not bleeding severely, I don’t want to talk to you.”
“Bones, shut up. I’m in jail. I need you to bail me out.”
Distracted, Leonard runs his cart into one of the shelving units and Joanna jerks forward and naturally, immediately starts to cry. “What the fuck did you do?” He bends down, wiping the tears from his baby girl’s face. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he mutters to her and in a few seconds, half of the store is going to be staring at them.
“I got into a fight with some asshole at a bar. It’s not really important. Just come down to the station and bail me out.” Jim sounds exhausted, angry, and more than a little drunk. It’s ten o’clock in the morning. Who in their right mind goes to a bar for breakfast and gets into a fight? This is ridiculous behavior but par for the course for Jim.
Leonard grabs a nearby box of cookies and rips the package open, shoving a Fig Newton into Joanna’s hand. It’s the wrong kind of reinforcement but she shoves it into her mouth and the crying stops. He’s such a good father. “Are you hurt?”
“A few bruises, nothing to get your panties in a twist over.” There’s some kind of commotion in the background, someone yelling indistinctly, and Jim sighs. “My time is up. Hurry.” He hangs up.
Leonard looks down at Joanna and tucks a piece of hair behind her ear. “I guess we’re going to have to live off bread and water for a little while longer, kid.” He picks her up, her sneakered feet swinging against his thighs, and stashes the opened Fig Newton box in the back of the shelf where hopefully nobody will notice it for a couple of weeks. He’ll have to come back later to pay for it (along with the rest of his abandoned groceries) but for now, he has an idiot to bail out.
Jim’s bail is set for a thousand dollars but it’s still a thousand dollars Leonard doesn’t have to throw around on shit like this. He uses the company credit card to free his boss and wonders how many weird looks he’s going to get when he writes bailing Jim Kirk’s drunken ass out of jail down on his expense report.
He waits for Jim outside of the sheriff’s office, keeping a firm hand on Joanna since he’s not particularly keen on losing her now or ever. She has a bit of Fig Newton crusted on her bottom lip but she refuses to let Leonard wipe her face. She’s being difficult for the sake of being difficult today. “Just a few more minutes, Jo, then we’re going to go home,” he promises.
Joanna nods and squats by his feet, inspecting something on the ground. It’s probably something dirty, something that can give her fifty different kinds of diseases, but before Leonard can scold her and yank her away, Jim waltzes through the front door of the office looking nothing like the well put together rich bastard that he is.
“Oh, you brought the kid,” he says, toeing the leaf Joanna was messing with away with the tip of his shoe.
“You called me in the middle of a grocery store. What was I supposed to do, leave her with the cashier?” Leonard picks Joanna up and rests her against his hip. She immediately buries her head into his neck, always shy around Jim for some reason.
Jim shrugs and shoves his hands in his pockets. “I don’t know. This isn’t a place for kids.” He has some bruising around his left eye socket, a cut or two on his right forearm and his knuckles are definitely busted up but there is nothing life threatening here. He looks like a college kid who wound up on the wrong side of a drunken argument. It could have been worse.
“I didn’t have much of a choice, Jim.” Leonard starts walking away to the car, leaving Jim to trail behind. If he hurries, maybe he can get his cart back at the supermarket and he won’t have to start all over again. The milk might be a little sour but at least his bag of chips will still be there waiting for him. “This was my first day off in months and you pull this shit. Then you decide to lecture me about bring my kid here? You’re a piece of goddamn work.” The swear jar is getting mighty full.
Jim isn’t following behind. He’s static, stuck on the top of the cement staircase, and his mouth is twisted into an ugly, upset frown. It’s not a good look on him. “Who else was I supposed to call?”
“How about you just don’t punch people in bars? Or hell, don’t go to a damn bar before the sun goes down!” Leonard tries to cover Joanna’s ears but it’s difficult with only one free hand. He covers her right ear and presses her head against his chest, where his heart is beating an erratic lub- dub, lub-dub. It’s the best he can do when he’s this worked up. “You make my life so fucking difficult, you know that?”
“I don’t exactly mean to,” Jim says and if there was any fight in him left over from this morning, it seems to have seeped out of him and spilled onto the concrete next to his feet. “This was important though. It’s not like I called you because I was out of milk or something.”
“Yes, this was important, but you call about everything! You call so much I can’t sleep at night and when you don’t call, I stay awake tossing and turning wondering if something terrible has happened to you where you can’t dial your phone. You know, I have a kid. I have other people to think about besides your stupid ass.” This is a good rant, one Leonard can feel from the tips of his toes to the last hair on his head, and he thinks maybe this is it. The last straw.
“I know you do.” Now Jim looks like a kicked and beaten dog left on the side of the road. He’s had a rough day and it’s barely past noon, but Leonard is so angry he can’t keep a lid on his mouth. He’s never been able to shut up when he should.
“You know but you don’t respect it. Half of the work you make me do is shit you could do on your own but you don’t want to work for anything. You want everything handed to you on a fucking silver platter because that’s what you’re used to.” Joanna is beginning to wiggle in Leonard’s arms but he holds onto her tightly. “Your brother doesn’t respect your ideas? Quit and start your own company. You can’t sleep? Take a fucking pill and deal with it yourself. You’re a goddamn grown man. Start acting like it.”
“God, Bones. Tell me how you really feel.” Jim is looking down at his feet now and his hands are shoved so far into his pockets that he must be trying to dive inside and disappear right out of this one-sided argument.
Leonard removes his hand from Joanna’s ear and she looks up at him with wide eyes that are bluer than they’ve ever looked before. She’s a little heavy in his arms, heavier than he remembers, and her hair is long, so long, and probably needs a cut again. Her legs hit him lower in the thigh than they used to and he doesn’t remember any of this happening.
He spends so much time babysitting Jim that he doesn’t notice the fact that his daughter probably no longer needs to be carried everywhere. One day he’s going to notice that she’s no longer a child and he’ll have missed everything in her life.
Joanna is the reason he has this job but it’s not worth it. Missing time with her isn’t worth any kind of paycheck. “I don’t think I can do this anymore,” Leonard says in a low voice.
Jim squints, his brow furrowed into a half a dozen tiny little lines and he suddenly looks so much older than he really is. “Do what? I won’t make you bail me out anymore. I’ll call Christine or someone.”
Leonard, the anger wearing off and leaving nothing but weariness and fatigue behind, looks at Jim straight in his ocean eyes, the ones that are rimmed red and bloodshot. “No, this. I don’t think I can work for you anymore. Please consider this my two weeks notice.” He begins to walk again because as far as Leonard is concerned, this conversation is over.
“Come on, don’t be dramatic. I won’t call after hours anymore.” Jim is trailing behind him and he’s begging. Jim Kirk doesn’t beg but he’s doing it now, on a street corner, in front of the Sheriff’s office.
“You will, Jim. You know you will.”
“At least stay on a few more weeks and help me find a replacement. You’ll train them up and then I’ll let you go.” He reaches out and snags Leonard’s sleeve, holding him in place even as he tries to unlock the door to his car. “Nice severance package and everything.”
It’ll give Leonard some time to look for a new job, maybe something that’s nine to five and will allow him to see his kid for more than an hour a day. He’ll have the financial freedom to really look, find something that fits him (although nothing will fit the way a scalpel used to). “Okay,” Leonard agrees, yanking his arm out of Jim’s grasp. “Okay.”
He buckles Joanna into her car seat and gets into the car, rolling the window down just a crack. “See you in the morning,” he says to Jim and then they’re off, driving away, and Jim is nothing but a small speck they left behind.
He has nothing to say.
Leonard posts the following ad on Monster.com:
Executive assistant wanted for Fortune 500 company. Must be able to answer phones, manage a heavy calendar, coordinate complex travel arrangements and compose and proofread confidential documents. Experience preferred.
Must be attractive.
Why rock the boat that much?
Three hundred and forty-seven people respond to Leonard’s ad. It takes him two days to weed through them all and he narrows the field down to a handful that can probably manage Jim Kirk. At least they seem to be able to on paper.
The first interview is with a guy named Montgomery Scott. He comes in dressed in a pair of ragged jeans with holes in the thighs, a flannel button down shirt and a wool beanie on top of his head. He looks like a Canadian lumberjack or some kind of hoodlum. Whichever the case, it’s one knock against him already.
“So your last job was with Enterprise Automotive?” Jim is looking over Scott’s resume, his glasses perched on the top of his head, the pair of glasses Leonard hasn’t seen since his interview. “You’re a mechanic?”
“Aye but I prefer the term Automotive Engineer,” Scott says but it’s hard to understand anything coming out of his mouth with the thick Scottish accent he has. So, not Canadian.
Leonard snatches the resume and looks it over. It’s not one he remembers putting in the pile. “And you want this job because?”
“Oh well, I’m in a wee bit of trouble. You see, if I don’t get a job soon, I’ll be deported, and as much as I love the motherland, I’d really like to see how Desperate Housewives ends.” Scott leans back in his chair, the legs tipping back off the ground. He’s one swift kick from being flat on the ground, his pretentious beanie knocked off his head. Not that Leonard would do that….right now. “Say, you got any sandwiches around here? I’m starving.”
“I think that’s all the questions we have, Mr. Scott. We’ll be in touch.” Leonard shows him out and then turns to Jim, a scowl sketched into his face so deeply he can feel it in his veins. “You are not hiring him.”
“I sort of liked him. He could help fix my bikes.”
“That’s about all he could do.” Leonard throws the resume in the trash and then heads out the door. “Next!”
There’s enough Chinese food spread across Jim’s desk to feed an army or at least half of the staff on his payroll. Jim had ordered one of everything on the menu and it’s an incredible waste but Leonard’s stomach is rumbling and the only thing lining his empty belly is his morning cup of Starbucks. At least there will be enough left over to take home for dinner.
They’re sitting on the floor, backs pressed against Jim’s monstrous desk, long legs stretched out in front of them, white cartons in their laps. This is supposed to be a working lunch but nothing is getting done and every single paper that needs a signature has been abandoned in favor of chicken lo mein and pepper steak. It’s sort of relaxing, a sanctuary in the chaos that is usually Kirk Industries.
Jim is struggling with his chop sticks, stabbing at a piece of chicken, and his grip is all wrong. It’s more than apparent that he doesn’t know what he’s doing but damn if he doesn’t find a way to get the chicken into his mouth. “So, what are you going to do now?”
“I don’t know. I’ll come up with something.” Leonard reaches over and fixes Jim’s grip on the sticks, moving his fingers until they’re just right. He tries to ignore the fact that Jim’s skin is soft, like it’s never seen a day of hard work, and warm despite its pallor. “I have some time.”
“I’m sure there’s some CEO out there that will kill to have you as an assistant. You shouldn’t have a problem finding something.” Jim manages to use the chop sticks correctly for a moment before his fingers slip and he’s stabbing at his food again. Sometimes you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.
Leonard snorts, he can’t help it. He’d rather eat glass than do this all over again with someone else. No more late nights, early mornings and working eighteen hours a day. Whatever his next move, it won’t be working under someone else’s thumb. “I think I’ll leave the assisting to the professionals. I’ve had enough.”
“Why don’t you just go back to doctoring? Is that a word? Surgeoning? Cutting people open and fixing their boo-boos?”
If Leonard could see his own face, he’s sure he probably looks like some kind of cartoon character, with wild eyebrows and wide, outrageous eyes that are about to pop out of the socket. The stuff that comes out of this kid’s mouth sometimes is incredible. And he runs this company. “Who taught you to speak? I want to meet them and smack them across the face.”
“My mom would punch you right back. She’s got a mean right hook.” Jim leans over and skewers a water chestnut out of Leonard’s carton of beef and broccoli. “She’s like one of those lady wrestlers from the WWF. You do not want to cross her.”
Apparently everyone in the Kirk family is crazy to some degree and that sounds like just another reason for Leonard to get the hell out of dodge as quickly as possible. He’s already too involved as it is. “Duly noted.”
“Now stop avoiding the question. Come on, why don’t you just use your fancy doctorate? I imagine you went through a lot of school for that or it at least cost a lot in bribe money.” Jim is using his chop sticks now to poke Leonard in the bicep. The Chinese would probably find this rude and definitely not a good use of utensils.
Leonard slaps the chop sticks out of Jim’s hands and they skid across the hard tile flooring, bouncing off the trash can before they come to a halt near the door. “I don’t want to talk about this.”
“Why not? You’re wasting time fetching my mail and running to Starbucks for me. I bet there are like dozens of lives out there you could be saving right now.” Since the chop sticks are gone, Jim has resorted to using his fingers to eat his lunch. Even Joanna knows that’s wrong and she’s a child.
And this is the end of lunch for Leonard. He climbs to his feet, grabbing onto the edge of the desk to haul himself up (he’s not as young as he used to be). “I’m not talking about this.” He throws a plastic fork down into Jim’s lap and then walks out of the office, taking a carton of moo shu pork with him.
Leonard eats the rest of his lunch at his desk, his head stuck in a pile of paperwork that needs to be filed and sorted. Jim thankfully leaves him to eat in peace.
“Your name is Spock?” Leonard really doesn’t mean to say it in the manner he does, dripping with incredulous sarcasm but it’s not every day he meets someone with the world’s stupidest name. “That’s it. No last name?”
“I did not believe you would be able to pronounce my surname so it seemed only logical to remove that particular piece of information from my resume.” This guy is a piece of work in a three piece suit. He talks like a robot, sits like there’s a rod shoved up his backside, and his hand was suspiciously frigid when they shook hands at the beginning of this meeting. Leonard itches to rip his face open and examine the circuit boards that must be underneath because this guy cannot be real.
Jim, who wouldn’t miss a job interview for the world, grins and his glasses slide down his nose a bit. “You’d be surprised by what Bones can pronounce. He once diagnosed me with narcot …narrsa…what was it?”
“Narcissistic personality disorder,” Leonard provides and he swears he’s dead on with that diagnosis sometimes. That minor in Psychology comes in handy around this place more often than not. “And this is beside the point. Why are you interested in this job, Mr. uh, Spock?”
“My many years of experience coupled with my educational background and previous knowledge in this particular field makes me the ideal candidate.”
“I bet it does.” Jim yawns and checks his watch, holding his wrist up to his face despite the glasses on the bridge of his nose. They can’t be prescription. “So, listen. We’ve got a meeting in like five minutes so we’ll call you.” He gathers a bunch of papers on his desk, papers he needs to put his John Hancock on, and shuffles them. “Yeah, we’ll call you.”
“I will be expecting your call,” Spock says as Leonard all but pushes him out of the office. He goes easy enough, his black leather shoes squeaking softly down the hall as he leaves.
The second the door is closed, Jim rips up Spock’s resume. “Oh my god, he’s so boring. I wanted to stab myself in the eye with a pen while he was talking and then I wanted to stab you in the eye for having him interview in the first place.”
“At least he was dressed appropriately.” Leonard takes the pieces of Spock’s resume that is now in a hundred tiny pieces and sticks them in the recycle bin. “I think he’d do well in this position. Sure, you might want to jump off a building while he’s around but imagine how efficient this place would run.”
“I’d rather marry a hooker who has syphilis and is only into me for my money than hire that guy.”
“I think that’s in your future anyway.” Leonard has to duck to avoid being hit in the face by a stapler.
Needless to say, Spock does not get a call back. Jim is no closer to a new personal assistant than he was a week ago and at this rate, Leonard is going to be retiring from Kirk Industries.
“Siri, I want to get drunk. Really, really drunk.”
“Ok, I found fifteen bars in your area. Six are fairly close to you.”
Yes, but the bottle of bourbon hidden beneath his sofa is closer than any bar. It’ll do.
It’s four in the morning and Leonard is completely shitfaced. He hasn’t been this drunk in years and he’s really kind of missed looking at the world upside down and backwards like this. Things are a little clearer now than they usually are, like a fog has been lifted from in front of his eyes, and he knows what he has to do.
Leonard picks up his phone (saying a quick hello to Siri, which sounds more like hi Sloshy, but it’s the thought that counts) and requests to FaceTime with the only person in the world who has to appreciate a drunk dial.
Jim’s face appears on the phone after just a few seconds and he’s rubbing his eyes with his fingertips. “Bones?” There are creases on his face, lines running horizontally on his cheek, and he must have been sleeping. Leonard finds that he doesn’t give a shit if he was.
“Hey, Jim. Hi.” Leonard props the phone up on the arm of the sofa and swings around so his legs are tucked underneath him. He’s like a twelve year old girl sealed up in her bedroom talking to her first boyfriend. It’s sort of pathetic. “Whatcha doing?”
“Sleeping. Jesus.” More eye rubbing and then there’s a bit of rustling. Jim is moving out of the camera range but Leonard can still hear him loud and clear. “What’s wrong, Bones? Is it Joanna?”
Leonard laughs a little and puts his finger up to his lips even though Jim apparently can’t see him with whatever he’s doing. “Shh, she’s sleeping. Don’t you wake her.” It took him two hours to get her to sleep; he might murder someone with his bare hands if she wakes up anytime soon.
Jim sticks his head back in the camera view and he’s far enough away that Leonard gets a glimpse of naked chest as well. Sculpted naked chest with broad shoulders and there’s a lickable smattering of freckles across his clavicle. “Are you drunk? Are you drunk FaceTiming me?”
“Maybe. How do you know?”
“You just said you want to lick my clavicle and while I definitely agree that you should, I don’t think you’d say that unless you were high or drunk or aliens took over your body. Is it aliens, Bones? Are they friendly?” There’s a bit more rustling now and then the freckles are gone, covered in gray, washed out cotton. Jim put a shirt on, damn it.
“I didn’t say that.” Did he say that? “There are no aliens. I just wanted to say hi. Is that a crime? Can’t an employee call his boss at whatever time it is to say hi?” Leonard squints at his phone but he can’t make out the time across the top of the interface. He can’t really make out much now that Jim is jostling his phone around. Leonard has a clear view of Jim’s t-shirt though and it’s really not as interesting as his ripped chest. “Take your shirt off again.”
Jim laughs. “Bones, I like you when you drink.” His face comes back into view and he’s walking somewhere. Maybe toward the shower. Leonard can only hope. “I’ll take it off when you’re sober, I promise. So what’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” Leonard leans forward and lays his head on the arm beside his phone. He can’t see anything now except for the ugly flower pattern on the couch, pink and purple carnations and god, this thing is hideous. He tilts the phone to catch the feed again, just in case Jim decided to get naked in the past three seconds. “Fuck off. Nothing is wrong.”
“Is this about the other day? Because I asked you why you aren’t a doctor anymore?” Jim brings the phone back up so the camera catches his face and it looks like he’s out of his bedroom because Leonard doesn’t recognize the his surroundings anymore. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“It’s my fault,” Leonard whispers, grabbing the phone tightly with his hand and holding it close to his face. The camera must be catching an eye or part of his nostril but he’s holding this thing like a lifeline, like he can reach through the phone and find comfort in a gray t-shirt and a freckled collarbone. “I shouldn’t have interfered. I didn’t mean to kill her.”
“What?” Something slams. “What are you talking about, Bones? You didn’t kill anyone.”
But Jim doesn’t know Leonard, not really. He doesn’t know anything about that day, about how he reacted, how he lost control. “She was bleeding out, Jim. All over the place and Joanna was wailing and I couldn’t stop thinking that I’d have to raise her alone, that she’d never meet her mom. I had to do something.” His hands are shaking, his chest heaving up and down now and he never planned to go down this road when he started drinking earlier.
Leonard doesn’t mean to spill his deepest darkest secrets to Jim, not like this, not ever, but there’s just enough liquor lubricating his blood and he can’t stop this from happening. “I pushed the fucking obstetrician aside, punched him in the face. He was an idiot. I knew I could save her. He wasn’t doing anything.” His face is wet now and he wipes at his cheeks with his sleeve. This is something he never thinks about.
“In the delivery room? You punched the doctor?”
Sometimes Leonard remembers this like it was yesterday. It’s engrained so deeply into his brain, tattooed into his memory, that he can still remember the dull tone of the flatline, the bright sheen to the blood and it looked so much redder on the floor beneath his wife than it ever did on his scrubs in surgery.
Jocelyn was gone, the complications of the birth were just too much to overcome, and Leonard stood there, her lifeless hand in his, and he had to do something, anything. Time was wasting, ticking away, and his wife was slipping through his fingers with each second. He had to save his wife. If another doctor didn’t have the balls, the knowledge, he could do it.
So he pushed the obstetrician and when the nurses tried to restrain him, he lashed out, catching the doctor in the jaw with his fist, knocking his head forward into the sharp corner the counter. There was screaming then, mixing in with the soft cries of his child and the heart wrenching sounds pouring out of his own mouth, and blood, so much blood but Leonard couldn’t see anything beyond the lifeless body of his wife.
Leonard managed two cycles of CPR before he was hauled away by security, the flatline mocking him as he was pulled from the room, his baby girl crying for a mother she’ll never meet. He names her Joanna later, when they finally let him see her. Her name means God is gracious but He was anything but.
“You can’t treat your own family members and I guess you can’t punch shitty obstetricians either. He lost his eye.” he says, lost somewhere in the past, and his stomach is churning from the alcohol, from the memories. “They suspended my license.” He pulls the phone away from his face and sees that the screen is black and he’s talking to nobody.
Leonard throws his phone across the room and it clatters with a loud bang against the refrigerator. This is another life choice he fucked up on. He should have kept his mouth shut; he shouldn’t have drunk that entire bottle of bourbon. Jim isn’t the first person he’s run off and he certainly won’t be the last.
Joanna is crying now, a soft wah blaring from the other room, and Leonard can’t deal with this right now. He can’t go and pick her up and rock her to sleep and pretend nothing ever happened. He can’t keep pretending to be a substitute mother and failing at it.
He buries his head in-between the arm of the couch and one of the cushions and he’s wondering how long it’ll take for him to pass out down here, suffocate from the heat of his skin and the lack of air in the fabric, when he feels a pair of arms snake around him. They’re strong arms, far bigger than those of his baby girl, and Leonard lifts his head. “I didn’t give you a key,” he says even though it’s the furthest thing from his mind.
“No, but I have one anyway. Don’t ask.” Jim holds onto Leonard tightly and he’s rubbing small circles into the fabric of Leonard’s thin shirt. This is the first time in years someone has held him like this and Leonard can’t help but sink into the embrace. Later on he’ll catalogue this away as a pathetic weakness. “You didn’t do anything wrong, Bones. You didn’t kill her. You did what you could.”
Leonard shakes his head and rubs at his face. He’s so goddamn drunk but this is his boss and god, this is the last person he wanted to open up his chest and show his black little heart to.
Jim rests his cheek against Leonard’s shoulder and he smells like mint toothpaste and some kind of Axe deodorant. “I’m sorry, Bones. I’m sorry this happened to you.” He presses a kiss against Leonard’s cheek, a soft brush of lips against his flesh. It’s not a naked shoulder but it’s even better.
Straightening up, Leonard pulls away from Jim’s tight embrace, and Joanna’s cries are ringing in his ears. “I woke Jo up.”
“I’ll get her. You just rest, okay?” Jim brushes a bit of moisture away from Leonard’s cheek and then walks away to the bedroom. There’s some soft hushing and then Joanna’s cries begin to die down.
Leonard slumps over, his shoulder digging into the cushions, and he means to wait up for Jim, but his eyes are heavy and the alcohol is pulling him down and down until he loses consciousness and the delivery room is just a nightmare he sees when he closes his eyes.
When Leonard wakes up ten hours later, Jim is gone and Joanna is playing happily at the neighbor’s apartment.
There’s this feeling settling into the pit of Leonard’s stomach. It’s that I’ve done something embarrassing feeling and it eats away at him like acid erosion and colors his cheeks rosy red like it’s the middle of dead winter and he’s standing waist deep in a snow drift. There’s a cold chill running up his spine, settling into the tip of his nose, the pads of his fingers, and he’s not sure he’s going to find warmth, comfort, in this office today or ever again.
He dreads going into the office and looking Jim in the eyes, seeing the disgust and repulsion that must linger there. Or worse, seeing the pity, the sympathy.
He’s going to apologize, just flat out walk into Jim’s office, say a quick I’m sorry about laying his bleeding heart out during a drunken fit. Then he’s going to push a handful of papers into Jim’s hands and it’ll be business as usual. It’s a perfect plan.
If Leonard’s lucky, they’ll never talk about this again for the rest of the time he’s employed at Kirk Industries. If he’s extremely lucky, he’ll be out of a job in just a couple of days.
So he walks into Jim’s office, his head held high (his stomach in knots), an apology hanging from his tongue. “Jim, I…” He stops in his tracks, the words dying in his throat, and he spots a young woman sitting in front of Jim’s desk. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you had a meeting.” And Leonard’s pretty damn sure Jim doesn’t have a meeting, since he’s the one who schedules these things.
Jim, who has his interview glasses perched on the top of his head, smiles and leans back in his chair. “Bones! Just in time. This is Carol.”
Carol, who is dressed like every other woman who ever enters through the door of Kirk Industries with platform heels and a tight pencil skirt, turns in her chair, her long blonde hair bouncing over her shoulder. “You must be Leonard McCoy.” She holds out her hand and he reluctantly shakes it. “I’m sorry to barge in like this. I know I don’t have an appointment. I just really wanted to meet with Mr. Kirk.”
“Yes, well, a lot of people want to meet with him. That’s why they schedule appointments.” Leonard rounds Jim’s desk and spots a resume sitting amongst the piles of paperwork he needs to complete by the end of the day. From the brief glimpse Leonard catches before Jim throws a folder on top of it, this Carol has a pretty impressive background. A law degree and three years of assisting at Nero Enterprises is nothing to sniff at. But she doesn’t have a doctorate in medicine so score one for Leonard.
“I know, I’m so sorry, but I came all the way from San Francisco. When I heard there was an opening here, I hopped on the first plane and here I am.” She smiles and bats her eyelashes and God, Leonard hates her already. “I have so much respect for this company and it would just be a dream to work here.”
Jim leans forward against his desk, his chest resting against the clutter of papers and folders that is seemingly never ending. “Well, who am I to deny you of your dreams?” He holds out his hand. “You’re hired.”
Leonard sighs and that feeling of embarrassment is quickly replaced with annoyance. This he can deal with.
“Are you sure about this?” Leonard is following Jim like a puppy dog, his arm full with folders and papers, as per usual. He’s disorganized, disheveled, and there’s a pen behind his ear and a sticky note on his ass (he’ll find that later). “She doesn’t have a strong background in property law.”
“And you have absolutely no background in it.” Jim stops abruptly and turns around, grabbing Leonard by the shoulders. The papers jostle but none fall from Leonard’s careful grip. “We’ve been looking for a long time and I know you want to move on. Carol has a passion for the company and comes highly recommended from Nero. She’s good enough.”
Leonard stiffens between Jim’s hands and he can’t help but remember the other night, when Jim’s warm arms were wrapped around him and Leonard spilled his soul like nonstop vomit he couldn’t contain in his stomach. This is different though, this is professional. “Well, as long as you’re sure.”
“I’m sure.” Jim lets go and plucks a folder from Leonard’s hands. There are at least thirty papers in there he needs to sign but he doesn’t bother to even open it, in true Jim Kirk fashion, and just runs his fingers against the yellow tabs Leonard spent all morning applying. “Now let’s drop this shit off so we can go to Starbucks. I’m dying of thirst.” He turns on his heel and begins walking again.
Leonard is left to trail after Jim and part of him is going to miss all of this. A very small part. It’s a part so small it’s practically nonexistent, like an atom or a molecule or whatever is the smallest spec in the entire universe. But still. “I think you’re going to die of diabetes, not thirst.”
“You wound me, Bones. Oh, my bleeding heart!” Jim clutches the folder he’s holding to his chest and then slumps against the wall. He makes a few gurgling noises and his tongue hangs out of his mouth like he’s seizing. He truly is a horrible actor. “Only a caramel macchiato will save me.”
Rolling his eyes, Leonard walks past Jim’s slumped over body and snatches the folder, if only to save it from the stream of drool running unappealingly down Jim’s chin. “I’ll write a prescription for you. Take continuously until your craving subsides or your teeth rot out.”
“You’re the best, Bones.” Jim springs to his feet and wipes the saliva from his face. “The best.” He rummages around in his pocket and pulls out a phone, thrusting it toward Leonard. “Oh, and this is for you. Your other one was cracked.”
Leonard takes the phone and it’s identical to the one he threw across his apartment in every way. It’s shiny and new and he doesn’t deserve this, not with so little time remaining here, but he won’t look a gift horse in the mouth, not ever. “Thank you, Jim.”
“Don’t mention it.”
And Leonard doesn’t. He doesn’t mention a damn thing. They never do talk about that night.
“Hello, I’m Siri. What’s your name?”
“Hello, Leonard. How may I help you today?”
It’s a clean slate.
Carol shows up on her first official day with her hair neatly curled down the center of her back, wearing a sharp, bright red suit (and she looks like a tube of lipstick and not a personal assistant) and a pair of non-functional, ridiculous stiletto heels. She looks like a pin-up girl, someone Leonard might see on a calendar he’d never buy. She fits right into the description he posted on Monster.
This girl (or woman really, but the Botox makes her look eighteen so she’s a girl in Leonard’s eyes), with her extensive legal background and years of experience, is sharp as a tack, quick on the upstart, and two hours into her first day, she’s neck deep in Jim’s schedule and handling it better than Leonard could ever dream of.
“So, it looks like you have things under control,” he says and he swears he’s trying to keep the bitter out of his voice. It’s been a long morning, or an early morning, or something and he’s not jealous or sour or anything. He’s just tired, extremely, very resentfully tired.
“This schedule is nothing compared to Nero’s, especially since Mr. Kirk doesn’t like to show up for things. I’ve confirmed him for only the necessary appointments and everything else is on a to be determined basis.” Carol tucks a pen behind her ear and smiles up at Leonard with her flawless, straight model teeth. “I’ve organized his paperwork by importance and left it on his desk to sign at his convenience.”
“Oh uh, good job.” He has no idea when she did that or why he didn’t think of this kind of stuff a year ago. “But you know he won’t sign any of that. You’re going to have to chase him down and threaten him.”
And then she bats her eyes at Leonard, actually bats them with that ridiculously perfect smile still gracing her lips. “I find that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, Mr. McCoy.” She gets up from her chair, flattens out the nonexistent wrinkles in her skirt and heads toward Jim’s office.
“It’s Dr., actually. Dr. McCoy. I’m a doctor,” he calls out after her but she disappears from his sight and he’s left alone, at his desk, with no one listening to him at all. “I’m a fucking doctor.” He sinks down into his chair, the one Carol has been hogging for the last two hours and rubs at his eyes.
With the way things are going Leonard is going to be out of a job by noon and he really thought he’d be a hell of a lot happier about it.
Leonard sticks his head into Jim’s office sometime after two. He has a stack of folders in his hands, which is pretty standard fare for a day at Kirk Industries, and is missing one key component that he’s supposed to be keeping track of – Carol.
“So, hey, I seem to have lost…” He stops in the middle of his sentence when he finds Carol perched on the edge of Jim’s desk, her smooth legs, sans stockings, crossed at the knee and her skirt is inches too short to fit into the dress code (not that anyone abides by that old standard anyway). “Oh, there you are.”
“Mr. McCoy! Jim and I were just going over his plans for the afternoon.” Jim? She’s been here six hours tops and he’s already Jim? How outrageous, how unprofessional, how completely…slutty of her.
Jim, whose hand is far too close to the expanse of silky thigh that’s displayed on his desk, grins and leans back in his chair. “This girl is amazing. I don’t know how I’ve lived without her.”
“Yeah, I don’t know how you did either.” Leonard dumps his folders down on Jim’s desk and puts his hands on his hips. “You need to look these over. Engineering needs your approval before tomorrow morning on these plans.”
Carol snags a folder and flips through the papers. “He’s already approved these, about an hour ago. Everything’s been approved.” She hands the folders back and smiles. “Jim is all set!”
“All set!” Leonard mocks back with a clenched smile. His molars are grinding together so hard he’s probably going to have a mouth full of dust by the end of the night. His tongue is already beginning to feel a little chalky. “That’s great. Great.”
“Carol is on top of her shit, Bones! I think we picked the right girl for the job.” Leonard’s not sure whether Jim is thinking with his brain or his dick on that one but he’d bet a large amount of money on the latter. “I’m in good hands.”
“I bet you are,” Leonard mumbles, turning to leave. He stops in the doorway and looks back over his shoulder. “So, hey, are we still on for tonight?” He runs his fingers through his short hair and it’s not the same as twirling a curled strand around his finger like Carol is doing but it’s the best he can do and it certainly seems to at least get Jim’s attention if the way his eyes brighten a bit is any indicator.
Carol perks up, sitting up a bit straighter on her perch, her legs uncrossing and crossing again. She probably smells an opportunity to kiss ass and now she’s like a fox on a hunt and she’s not going to back down until she sinks her teeth into Jim’s fucking neck and eats him for dinner. “Oh, are you guys doing something fun tonight?” Can’t this girl stay out of anything?
“I don’t know if you’d call it fun. I snagged a couple of Yankees tickets for tonight’s game, box seats and everything.” Snagging really equates to buying tickets off eBay for a ridiculous price and hoping to get someone to go with him. Since Leonard lacks any sort of real friends, and his baby girl doesn’t really count, he invited Jim a few weeks ago and received a surprisingly eager fuck yes a response.
“You’re going to a Yankees game? I love baseball!” Of course she loves baseball. She probably loves kitties and rainbows and apple pie and Bruce Springsteen and anything else under the sun that will help her get ahead in this company. If Jim loved mass murder, Carol would probably be right there with him hacking up arms and legs and putting them in the freezer to eat later. (Leonard needs to work on his metaphor skills.)
Jim’s eyes shoot over to Carol and then that grin is set on her again, his eyes brighten in all the right ways for her. It’s so irritating. “A girl who loves baseball? You’re the perfect assistant!”
The chalky taste in Leonard’s mouth is intensifying and he’s going to have to get dentures by the morning. He clears his throat, straightens his back and squares his shoulders. He’s not going to lose this round. “So, Yankees, right?”
“Sure, Bones, sure.” And with the uninterested wave of Jim’s hand, Leonard is dismissed.
“Siri, let’s say I killed someone. Where can I hide the body?”
“What kind of place are you looking for?”
Mines, reservoirs, swamps, dumps, metal foundries.
By no means is Leonard McCoy a Yankees fan. Growing up in Atlanta, the Braves are engraved in his soul, instilled in his blood. Swimming around in there with his plasma and red blood cells are little tomahawks and hell if he’d destroy that to follow a team who buys championships like he buys gallons of gasoline.
But at the end of the day, baseball is still baseball, and the Yankees, in all their evil glory, still play the game of Leonard’s youth. So he sits behind home plate, in seats that were far too expensive and should have been spent on things like onesies and diapers, and roots heartily for the away team (the Twins who have little to no impact on the National League and therefore are safe enough to temporarily cheer for).
Jim, on the other hand, apparently thinks that the Yankees are God’s gift to baseball. It’s wrong, just so goddamn wrong. “There is nothing wrong with winning all the time, Bones. If you ain’t first, you’re last.”
“Stop quoting Ricky Bobby.” Leonard throws a crackerjack at Jim’s head and his boss surprisingly leans his head back and catches the kernel in his mouth like a freaking Labradoodle or something. He always knew Jim was part dog. “You sound like an uneducated idiot from Bumfuck.”
“You’d like me even if I was an uneducated idiot from Bumfuck, don’t try to deny it.” Jim digs his hand into the Crackerjack box and comes up with a fistful of caramel and popcorn and sticky fingers. “At least Carol likes the Yankees. She told me all about how she grew up watching them.”
It takes almost every bit of Leonard’s willpower not to snort, not to laugh and throw his head back like that’s the funniest thing he’s ever heard, because really, that is almost the funniest thing he’s ever heard. “Oh, I bet she does. I wonder how a girl from San Francisco becomes a Yankees fan and not a fan of the Giants or the A’s or any team that is actually in California.”
“Who knows? But she really likes Derek Jeter! We should have invited her.”
And there goes Leonard’s molars again, grinding against each other, wearing away at the enamel until there’ll be nothing left and he’s toothless and gumming his crackerjacks like an infant. “I only had two tickets,” he says, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Ah, Bones. I could buy the fucking Yankees if I want. Tickets aren’t an issue. It would have been a nice gesture. Maybe I’ll see if she wants to meet up afterwards for a drink, just so she feels included.” Jim begins to pull out his phone and his fingers are flying fast over the interface.
Leonard snags the phone out of Jim’s hands and begins to delete the text message he was composing. It’s poorly written anyway and reads like a booty call (which it probably is, Leonard wouldn’t put anything past Jim at this point). “You know, she’s had a long day. I’m sure she’d much rather get her beauty rest than go to a sports bar at midnight.”
“You’re not jealous of her, are you?” Jim grabs his phone back but doesn’t compose another message. He just sticks his phone in his pocket and turns in his chair to face Leonard. “You’re the one who wanted to leave. I had to replace you with someone.”
Rolling his eyes, Leonard sinks down in his seat. “Of course not. Jealousy is for children. Besides, what is there to be jealous of? Her fake tits? Her bleached teeth? Please. She’ll make a fine assistant for you.” And an even better bedmate probably.
“She’s picked up on everything pretty quickly. Maybe she doesn’t need that much training and you can leave in a few days. I know it’s pretty soon but Carol has got everything down.”
Leonard swallows hard and nods, pulling a smile onto his lips. It’s everything he’s ever wanted (or what he’s wanted lately anyway) but it doesn’t feel the way he thought it would. He’ll have time to find something he’s passionate about, time to spend watching his daughter grow, but it all feels kind of hollow. What the hell is he going to do when he no longer has to spend every waking minute worrying about Jim Kirk? “Yeah, that would be…great.”
The inning ends, the Yankees are down by two runs, and suddenly Leonard finds his own face staring back at him from the Jumbotron. He slumps lower in his seat, pulls his Kirk Industries ball cap down over his eyes but Jim just laughs and throws his arm around him. “Wave, Bones! We’re on TV!”
Leonard doesn’t wave and he certainly doesn’t smile. He keeps his head down and tries to ignore the heat of Jim’s hand on his shoulder, the intoxicating smell of his cologne. He tries not to think about a life without Jim, a life that is approaching so fast he’s getting dizzy.
Carol has been at Kirk Industries for a week and Leonard has so much time on his hands he’s not sure what to do with himself. He shows up when he’s supposed to, answers the phone when it rings, fetches coffee when asked, but no longer handles Jim’s schedule or chases him down to sign papers. He doesn’t talk to legal, beg photographers not to sell those inappropriate photos or reschedule appointment after appointment.
Leonard McCoy has officially been replaced.
His goodbye party has been planned and scheduled, according to the email he received this morning from Christine (and probably wasn’t supposed to be copied on in the first place). So for the next two days, Leonard has absolutely nothing to do but sit on his ass and collect a paycheck. It’s a little upsetting and a hell of a lot boring.
He sits at his desk, the glass top now visible since the mass of folders, papers and notebooks have been relocated to wherever Carol spends most of her time (Jim’s bed probably). This is maybe the first and last time he’ll ever see his desk free of clutter. Someone else will take this spot over and it’ll become a ridiculous storm of paperwork once again but Leonard won’t be around to see it. He’ll be far gone, doing…something.
With nothing better to do and Jim’s coffee cup filled to the brim with sugar, Leonard spends his morning surfing the internet. He sifts through job ads, looks out for anything he might be qualified for, and really he’s overqualified for everything. Finding a job is not going to be easy and when his more than generous severance package runs out in a few months, he’s going to be pulling his hair out trying to make ends meet. The future is looking dimmer and dimmer instead of so big and bright he needs to wear shades.
Leonard’s chin rests in his palm, his elbow propped up against the desk, and he’s leaning far too close to the computer. There’s a bit of depression setting in and there’s little to look forward to after tomorrow. There’s his small apartment and Joanna and he used to think that was enough. When did that stop being enough?
Suddenly, Jim bursts from his office like a goddamn hurricane, knocking over a potted plant and Sheila from accounting in his wake. He calls out an apology over his shoulder, although Sheila looks anything except annoyed, and stands next to Leonard’s desk, hands on his hips, foot tapping obnoxiously against the tile flooring. “Bones! Where have you been all morning?”
Leonard straightens up and tries to minimize the employment website before Jim eyes it. There’s something decidedly not kosher about finding a job while you’re on the clock at your current one. “I’ve been here, where do you think I’ve been? Alaska?” He closes the lid to the laptop and cranes his neck up to look at his boss. “Do you need a coffee refill? Because I think Carol can handle that by now.”
“I just sent her to Starbucks. So I know you’re leaving soon but apparently I’m giving the MIT commencement speech next week and well, someone has to write it.”
“What? Since when is that on your calendar? You didn’t even go to MIT.” Leonard’s brain is whirling a million miles a minute. How long this speech needs to be, what it needs to be about, why the fuck he even needs to write it. He has two days left, two days. Hasn’t he passed the buck on by now?
“I know but apparently tales of my genius are so awe-inspiring that they want me to speak. What can I say?” Jim plops down on the clean slate of glass that makes up Leonard’s desk and the hideous plaid suit jacket he’s wearing fans out across the surface like a kaleidoscope of ugly that’s threatening to make Leonard’s eyes bleed.
Leonard is sitting precariously close to Jim now and he can smell his cologne, his fucking cologne that’s made from pheromones and all kinds of things that are supposed to drive women wild. And male personal assistants. It’s enough to give him a stiffy under his desk – if Leonard was the sort of person who got erections on the job which he is not (usually). “You can say no, the way you’ve said no to speaking at commencements since I started working here.”
“I know but Carol thinks I could use some positive PR.” Jim leans over and he’s hovering right next to Leonard’s ear. His breath is hot against Leonard’s skin and it makes him shiver in all the right places. “Because of that whole jail fiasco.”
Fiasco is putting it nicely. The tabloids have had a field day with Jim since his time behind bars. He does need some positive press but whenever Leonard brought it up, he was firmly shut down with a hell no and an eye roll. All Carol has to do is bat her eyes and Jim is crawling all over her suggestions. She’s such a whore.
“I’m not writing your speech. You have a brand new assistant who has a fancy, expensive degree from a pretentious school in a big city. I bet she can write it.” Leonard has to push his chair back, just to put some distance between himself and his boss. He really doesn’t need to get a hard on in this office, not when he’s so close to being done here. He can get all the hard ons he wants when he no longer steps foot in Kirk Industries’ corporate offices every day.
“But I want you to write it!” Jim’s lower lip sticks out, the full on pout, and it’s never worked on Leonard. Never. “You’re good at it. You keep me honest.”
It’s not the pout that makes Leonard give in, it’s not. It’s not the way that lower lip is quivering just like Joanna’s when she’s begging for a third bedtime story. He accepts because the MIT graduates deserve a great speech and for no other reason. “Fine but you’re watching Jo while I work on it. I’ll be at your place around seven. Make sure you have kid friendly food.”
Leonard gets up and walks away, leaving Jim perched on the desk with a foolish grin on his face. He has a speech to plan and the rest of the day to hide away in the bathroom trying to think of things that don’t involve his boss’ stupidly perfect face.
Sprawled out on the floor of Jim’s massive living room, Joanna sits with a crayon held tightly in her fist. She’s furiously coloring some kind of scene from My Little Pony that looks like a splatter pattern of red, black and yellow. Leonard should probably be worried that he’s raising some sort of serial killer but it’s cute and it’ll end up on his fridge by the end of the night. Jim sits next to her, a beer in one hand, a purple crayon in the other, working on his own pony picture. His will end up on the fridge too. It’s inevitable.
Leonard is hunched over his laptop, staring at the same sentence he’s been reworking for the past half an hour. “Good morning, graduates. Graduating class of 2012, good morning. Good morning graduating class of 2012,” he mutters to himself and this particular means nothing but he’s stuck on it. The opening to a speech sets the pace for the rest of it; if it’s shit, then the rest of it will be shit. And Leonard McCoy doesn’t write shit. “Hello, class of 2012.”
“Bones, nobody gives a fuck about the opening line. Move on to something else.” Jim switches crayons, now to green, and grins at Joanna, whose head has popped up. “Swear jar, I know.”
Joanna giggles and goes back to scribbling on her paper. She’s also switched to another color and now brown has joined the gaggle of color on the page. It’s an ugly, ugly pony.
“I care, all right?” Leonard reworks the line again, this time to Good morning, class of 2012. “Someone has to care about the little details.”
“Trust me, nobody cares about this one. Pick a line, move on.”
Leonard sighs, rubbing at his eyes. Jim is right (and he can count the times he’s admitted that on one hand – three fingers); nobody is going to bat an eye at the opening line. He wants it to be perfect though. He wants the last speech he ever writes to be the best one. It’s nerve wracking. “Yeah. Okay.” He leaves it alone and moves on but that doesn’t stop the gnawing feeling eating away at his stomach.
After an hour or so, he finally thinks he’s getting somewhere. The body of the speech is done and he just needs a good closing line. He’s deciding between good luck, graduates and thank you when the doorbell rings. “I told you not to order pizza,” Leonard grumbles. He’s not feeding his kid that kind of shit and he’s told Jim a million times.
“I didn’t order one. I was planning on waiting until you guys left for that.” Jim scrambles to his feet and tosses his crayon at Leonard. “This poor child is going to be deprived of the most important food groups – bread, meat and cheese.”
“She sure is. I don’t know how she’ll live.” He plucks the crayon up from where it landed in his lap and twirls it around his fingers, the closing line still ringing through his mind. It needs to be inspiring; it needs to be memorable. It needs to pop and if Jim Kirk does anything well, it’s pop. Thank you for your time deflates, if anything. He can’t think with all the fucking ringing. “Get the door already.”
“Sometimes I wonder who the boss is here.” Jim steps around Joanna and leaves the room. When he returns, there’s a hooker wearing stilettos and a short, black, skin tight dress behind him. Or no, not a hooker. It’s Carol. It’s so easy to confuse the two, seriously.
“Oh, Mr. McCoy. I didn’t know you would be here.” Carol smiles, and it’s a greasy used car salesman sort of smile that leaves Leonard feeling like he needs a shower. Her hair is pinned up in a way that reminds him of Betty Grable, and it’s a shame that she’s ruining classic pin-up models for him. “And there’s a child.”
Joanna sits up, crayon in hand and then she’s on her feet, running to Leonard and shoving her face into his bended knee. Leonard can’t blame her; the slutty lady scares him too. He strokes his fingers through her hair and palms the back of her head. “Yes, my child.” He doesn’t make an introduction, doesn’t try to get Joanna to say hello. He just doesn’t care to.
“She’s adorable. I want to have children when I’m your age.”
Leonard closes his laptop and gets to his feet, picking Joanna up and propping her against his hip. She fits comfortably there, like she was made to live in his arms, and she sort of was. “I’m sure you’ll be barefoot and pregnant far before you get to my advanced age.” He packs up his stuff and slings his bag over his shoulder. “I’ll just be going now. I didn’t know you were expecting company, Jim.”
“I wasn’t.” Jim is standing next to Carol, his hands stuffed in his pockets. They really do make a nice couple. Pretty belongs with pretty, not with old and grouchy.
“I just wanted to stop by to see if I could help with the speech writing. I wrote quite a few for Nero.” Carol sits down on the sofa and kicks off her heels. She just makes herself right at home. “I thought I could help out.”
“It’s almost done.” Leonard shrugs and starts to make his way to the door, jostling Joanna in his arms. Her head is tucked against his shoulder, her small fingers digging into his shirt. “I’ll just finish up and send it over in the morning. You two have a good night.”
“Bones! You don’t have to leave. I wasn’t finished coloring.” Jim follows behind Leonard, his expensive shoes clacking harshly against the hardwood flooring.
“You can color with Carol.” He looks down at Joanna and nudges at her with his chin. “Can you say goodnight?”
Joanna mumbles what probably is goodnight into Leonard’s shoulder. Her eyes are squeezed tightly and he hasn’t seen her be this shy in a while. Then again, she hasn’t met a lot of new people lately. It’s kind of cute.
Jim reaches out and pats Joanna’s back. “Goodnight, Jo-Jo.” He looks to Leonard, his eyes all big and bright and it’s sort of sickening. “Goodnight, Bones.”
Leonard nods and leaves, his girl on his hip, his bag on his shoulder. They’ll just have to color at their own home.
They’re about half way home when Joanna starts to wiggle around in her car seat. Leonard glances back at her in the rear view mirror and knows he’s about to have trouble on his hands. Her face is red, bright as a tomato, her eyes are wide, glassy, and there are more frown lines in her forehead than in her father’s. It’s a telltale tantrum, right in the middle of Manhattan.
“What’s the matter, kiddo?” He reaches back and grabs one of her small feet with his fingers. It’s the only part of her he can reach without removing his seatbelt and he sure as hell isn’t going to do that (he’s not an idiot most of the time). “We’ll be home soon.”
He can’t stop it though. Joanna starts crying, rivets of tears pouring down her face, and she’s still holding onto a crayon with her chubby fist. It’s hard to make her out, over the crying and carrying on, but Leonard makes out “ponies” and sighs. He left the damn My Little Pony coloring book at Jim’s.
“You have other coloring books at home. You can color some Ninja Turtles or something instead.” All kids love Ninja Turtles. They’re gender neutral as far as Leonard is concerned. “It’s okay, Jo.”
She apparently doesn’t believe him because she throws her crayon in the direction of the windshield. It bounces off the dashboard and falls to the floor, leaving a smear of red behind on the plastic. It’s going to look like a murder scene in here too if this keeps going on. “Jo, it’s okay. You can color when we get home.”
She continues to cry, beating her small little feet against the back of Leonard’s seat and he knows she’s going to be throwing this tantrum for the rest of the night and he has too much work to do to listen to it. He gives in, because how can anyone say no when their baby is having a full scale hissy fit in the back seat of a car? (He imagines it’s probably easy but he lost his backbone somewhere in the past two years.)
Leonard makes an illegal U-turn and begins the short drive back to Jim’s ridiculous hotel apartment. Fucking My Little Pony.
By the time Leonard is standing outside of Jim’s penthouse apartment, she’s stopped crying and is wiping her eyes with her tiny fists. There’s a small little smile on her face that she’s trying to hide in his shoulder but she can’t hide anything from him. He sees it. Jesus. If she’s pulling this kind of stuff now, Leonard can’t even imagine what she’s going to do at fifteen.
He tests the doorknob and finds it unlocked. He’s told Jim too many times to lock the fucking door. It’s not like he’s a high profile CEO that people might want to rob or kill or kidnap or anything. Leonard deals with nothing but children, all day every day, it’s a miracle he’s still sort of sane.
So he walks right in. An open door means an invitation so he turns the knob and walks in, an apology on his lips. “Sorry, Jim. Jo…” He doesn’t get far. He stops in his tracks and immediately presses Joanna’s head into his shoulder to shield her eyes.
Jim is sitting on the coffee table in nothing but his boxer shorts and tie. There’s a pair of handcuffs around his wrists. Carol is nowhere to be seen, thankfully. “Bones!” Jim’s cheeks flush, a harsh scarlet that colors his entire upper-body: his chest, his neck, his cheeks. It’s a nice look but there’s no time to focus on that.
“I’ve been gone for twenty minutes!” Leonard shakes his head and holds tightly onto Joanna. There’s an anger pulsating in his fingertips, throbbing through his veins and settling into his throat. He wants to scream and yell and he has no goddamn right. Jim is not his boyfriend; Jim is not his anything. Jim is his boss for another day and that is it. It doesn’t stop the anger from bubbling, doesn’t stop the awful feeling in his stomach and he wants to throw up.
“I can explain,” Jim says, his hands reaching out in front of him, the metal of the handcuffs clinking together. “Carol was just…”
“Tying you up like a Thanksgiving turkey?” Leonard quickly crosses the living room and grabs the fucking My Little Pony coloring book. He holds it between sweaty fingers and thinks it might slip right out of his hand. “Jo forgot her coloring book. We’ll leave you to…whatever you’re doing.”
“No! Bones!” Jim stands, stumbling over the coffee table. He hits his shin against the sharp corner and hisses, hopping around on one leg. “Motherfucker!”
Carol chooses this time to show up in her red bra and panties (which nicely match but that’s so far from the point right now) and hooker heels. There’s a candle in her hand and what the hell kind of kinky shit are they getting up to? “Mr. McCoy!” She puts the candle down and grabs for anything that might cover her up, which is a throw pillow from the couch and she looks like a living cushion with a gigantic head and killer legs. It’s all ridiculous. So fucking ridiculous.
“Sorry to interrupt. I’m leaving now.” Leonard turns on his heel and storms out. Or tries to anyway. It’s hard to storm when there’s a heavy weight bearing down on his hip and a color book in his fingers. And then there’s the hand gripping his shoulder, warm and familiar against his shirt.
“We were just…” Jim keeps his hand clamped on Leonard, his voice soft and strained. There is no talking his way out of this but then again, he doesn’t need to. “Carol was…”
Leonard brushes the hand from his shoulder and keeps his back straight, rigid. He didn’t think his career at Kirk Industries would end like this. At least it’s a break, clean or otherwise, and he’ll never come back here. “Save it, Jim. You don’t owe me an explanation. You’re my boss not my boyfriend.”
“Yeah, but I thought…”
Leonard glances over his shoulder, just for a second, because it’s hard to look at that face and those eyes and those goddamn handcuffs. “Whatever you thought was obviously wrong. Whatever I thought was wrong too. See you tomorrow.”
He leaves, his arms wrapped around his child, his heart stuck in his throat, and he kicks himself. Kicks himself so fucking hard in the ass. Because having a crush on his boss was bound to end like this.
Leonard is meant to be a lonely old fuck. It’s what he deserves.
Leonard’s last day at Kirk Industries is excruciating. He shows up bright and early, leaves a venti white chocolate mocha on Jim’s desk, along with a copy of his complete MIT speech (he finally settled on good morning and good luck sometime around five am), and then sits at his desk and watches minutes tick by on his laptop. He doesn’t watch to see Jim come in, doesn’t stick his head into his office to see if he needs anything. He sits and sits and waits until he can go home.
It works until noon rolls around and then Christine plops down on his desk and her bright pink skirt almost blinds him. She’s smacking on gum and smiling a one-hundred watt grin at him. “Last day, huh?”
“Yeah. Four more hours and then I can get the fuck out of here.” Leonard leans back in his chair, putting a little distance between himself and the blinding neon lawyer over here. He’s going to have cataracts, seriously. What was she thinking when she got dressed this morning?
“Sounds like fun.” She spits her gum out into Leonard’s trash can and then rests her hand on his shoulder. Her hand is small, compared to Jim’s, and huge compared to Joanna’s. He’s not used to having someone else touch him. It’s weird, alien, and he’s not sure he likes it so he pulls away. “Stop moping around. It’s time for your not-so-surprise going away party!”
“God, no. I’m not going. Tell people I died or I was drafted or I left the country. Tell them anything. I’m not going.” Leonard crosses his arms across his chest. He doesn’t want to go, damn it. Nobody can make him. He’s never been this petulant before but now is as good of a time as any to start acting like a whining, sniveling twelve year old.
“You have to go. It’s your going away party. We can’t cut the cake until you’re there, knife in hand. If you want to slit your wrists with it afterwards, I’m okay with that. I’ll plan your funeral.” Christine grabs his bicep and pulls on him. “It’s chocolate cake. You know you want it.”
He could use some cake right now. A hell of a lot of cake. In fact, the whole fucking cake. So, okay. Why the hell not. He stops dragging his heels and willingly lets Christine take him to his own not-so-surprise party.
The chocolate cake isn’t that great. It’s made with buttercream frosting and he hates, hates, hates fucking buttercream. The cake itself is dry and crumbles in his mouth, and he wants to throw his plate against a wall. Or really, he wants to throw it in Christine’s face (it wouldn’t be the first time either).
“I hate you,” he says to her from the corner he’s standing in. He’s trying to hide, stay away from as many people as possible but it’s hard when random coworkers keep walking up to him and lying straight to his face about how much they’re going to miss him and what a great asset he was to the Kirk Industries team. What a bunch of assholes.
“No, you don’t. I never said it was good cake.” Christine grins at him, a smudge of chocolate clinging to her lower lip. He should tell her to wipe her face but no, fuck it, let her walk around less than perfect. She deserves it for making him show up.
If he thinks about it, and thinks about it hard enough, he’s angry at the wrong person. Christine has done nothing (not today anyway) but Leonard wants to mope, hide his face, but he’s too big to crawl into his daddy’s arms and push his nose into his shoulder. Joanna is so lucky and she doesn’t even know it.
No, he knows who he’s angry at, who he wants to punch in the face, who he wants to kick right in the shins and stomp his feet in front of. And one of them just walked in the door.
“Oh, Jesus fuck,” he mumbles, sticking his fork into his mouth. The cake crumbles against his tongue and he wants to gag but he swallows the shitty cake down and tries to look anywhere but at his replacement, who is crossing the room and coming right for him. He turns, trying to find someone to talk to, a plant to hide behind, but Christine is talking to Sulu now (who is probably more interesting any day of the week than Leonard is) and this corner lacks fake foliage. So he stands there, plate in hand, fork in mouth, and tries to keep the thumping in his temporal lobe to a minimum.
“Mr. McCoy,” Carol says quietly, and Leonard idly wonders if her underwear matches today. “I just wanted to say how sorry I am for what happened last night.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Leonard replies evenly, pulling the plastic fork out from between his lips. He doesn’t want to think about this, doesn’t want to talk about this. Not here, not in front of fucking everyone. For a girl with a bunch of degrees, she sure doesn’t know shit.
“Last night in Jim’s apartment. Look, I know it’s uncomfortable to discuss but I just want you to know that I’m sorry you had to see that. Especially since your daughter was with you.”
“Seriously, Carol. I don’t know what you mean.” He bites down on his fork, breaking it in two and spits the plastic out into his plate. “It’s my last day so let me enjoy it in peace.”
Carol clears her throat and whatever remorse that must have been flowing through her seems to dissipate. “Of course. I hope you find a job more suited for you, Mr. McCoy.”
“I’m a doctor, you idiot,” he spits out, venom dripping from his words. He can’t take it anymore, can’t stand this stupid little girl who has everything that used to be his (this is his entire fault but he completely ignores that). “Get it right.”
“Are you still a doctor if your license is suspended?” Carol leans in, her perfume so strong it makes his eyes water. At least he thinks it’s the perfume. “I looked you up, Mr. McCoy. I’m not surprised you have failed at yet another career.”
“Fuck you.” Leonard pushes past her, dropping his plate onto the nearest table. He doesn’t have to take this, doesn’t have to sit around and be insulted. He’s supposed to leave at five but fuck, it’s close enough and it’s starting to boil in here. It’s hard to breathe in all this heat and he rips at his tie, loosening it with his thumb and forefinger.
He yanks the tie free from his shirt collar just as he runs smack into Jim. Jim, who is solid and wide and reaches out to steady Leonard with sturdy hands. “Jesus, Bones. You okay?”
Leonard pulls away from Jim’s touch. It’s the last thing he needs. “Yeah, fine. See you around.” He flicks open the top button of his shirt and turns away to get out of this room, out of this building.
Jim clamps his hand on Leonard’s shoulder, tight and uncomfortable. “Hey, wait. Let’s talk.” He pulls Leonard into the bathroom and finally lets go of him. “What’s going on? You look terrible.”
“Shut up,” Leonard mumbles and grabs onto the sink, turning on the water and splashing his face. “I don’t even want to talk to you.”
“Listen, about last night…”
With water dripping from his chin, his nose, his eyelashes, Leonard looks everywhere but at Jim. His eyes settle on the faucet, where his reflection is stretched like a funhouse mirror and it’s easier to look at than anything else. “Why does everyone want to talk about last night? I don’t want to talk about it. It’s none of my business anyway!”
“I just…I’m sorry you walked in on that.” To his credit, Jim does sound pretty upset about it. There’s a quiet, resigned quality to his voice that normally is masked by bravado and swagger. He’s raw and honest and maybe truly is sorry. It’s too bad that sorry has never meant much to Leonard. “She just threw herself at me and before I knew it…”
“You don’t have to explain yourself to me, Mr. Kirk.” Leonard runs his fingertips under the water, watches the liquid rivet down his hand and splash into the porcelain bowl, down the drain. “I’m your employee. You have a right to do whatever you want with whoever you want in your free time.”
“Mr. Kirk?” There’s a scoff, probably combined with a shake of a head that Leonard can’t see (doesn’t want to see). “Seriously? This is how this is going to go?”
“How else should this go? I am nothing to you and you don’t owe me explanations. You owe me a paycheck and that is it. I don’t need to hear your excuses and apologies or anything else.” Leonard stops himself there, bites down hard on his tongue to keep the word vomit from bubbling up.
“Of course you don’t want to hear it. You’re always so fucking difficult.”
Leonard grabs for a couple of paper towels and dries his face off. He turns to face Jim, the paper in his hands a wet and dry clump of brown. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I thought maybe we had something going, Bones. I thought we had this chemistry. But I must have been blind because nobody wants to be with an old curmudgeon, no matter how hot he is or how cute his kid is! You are so goddamn fucked up.” Jim is pacing now, back and forth through the expanse of urinals and stalls. His hands are shoved into his pockets, his back is straight and rigid and if Leonard had to bet, he’s ten seconds away from kicking something. “You’re too much to handle.”
“Oh, shut up.” Leonard throws the paper towels away and the water is still running, still shushing in the background like added white noise that isn’t needed right now. It makes his temples throb, his gut curl up and he can’t focus on anything but Jim and the poison spilling from his mouth.
He opened his walls to this person, he blew them up chunk by chunk but it still wasn’t good enough. He ripped his chest open and showed him his fucking black heart and the one piece of light still left in his life. And now it’s all being shoved back into his face. “I let you in and this is how you repay me. You sleep with my replacement. That’s great, Jim, great.”
“I didn’t sleep with her.”
“I don’t give a shit what you did with her. I’m leaving now. Dock my pay, whatever.” Leonard stops at the door, his hand resting on the cool brass of the knob. He turns and glances at Jim, just one last time, and he tries not to memorize every detail, every imperfection in his face, every hair out of place. “Have a nice life.”
Then he’s gone and he doesn’t look back.
Leonard makes one stop before he leaves Kirk Industries.
“See you later, Siri.”
He leaves the phone on his desk and walks away.
The problem with being unemployed is that there’s no real reason to get out of bed. Leonard sleeps in, sleeps in far too many hours and doesn’t get up until Joanna is pulling at him with her tiny hands, whining in his ear about being hungry. He had no idea quitting his job would make him the world’s worst father.
It’s hard to pull himself together, to wipe the crust out of his eyes and crawl out from beneath his sheets. He has no direction, no idea what to do with the rest of his life, but there’s this little face always looking at him and he can’t drown away in the sea of blankets on his mattress.
Leonard drags himself to the edge of his bed, planting his feet on the floor, and Joanna crawls up into his lap. “Breakfast time, huh?” He presses his face into her hair and breathes in the scent of baby shampoo and laundry detergent. He’s supposed to be doing right by her but he fails at every turn. She deserves everything and Leonard is giving her nothing.
He’s been out of work for three months, living off a more than generous severance package, but maybe it’s time to find a job. Maybe it’s time to find a meaning to all of this.
Finding a job isn’t that easy, especially considering that Leonard is overqualified for everything. His doctorate isn’t good for flipping burgers, ringing up jeans or any other menial job he finds in the weekly classified ads. He can’t sweep floors, empty trash cans or clean bathrooms. He’s almost completely unhireable, no matter how many references he has (including a nice one from his former boss at Kirk Industries) or how many degrees and years of experience he has.
Leonard thought he’d take this time to find his calling, what he was meant to do with this life of his, but months and months after his last day working for Jim Kirk, he’s no closer to an answer. There are no hobbies he can turn into a career, no special talents that he has to offer to the public. He can’t cook, can’t write a novel, can’t make tiny wooden horse sculptors out of a tree branch.
He has no idea what he’s meant to do with his life (but he thinks maybe he was meant to be a doctor).
Sometime before Christmas, Leonard hits the jackpot with a job interview. It turns out that he’s not overqualified for pharmaceutical sales and he’s offered a job five minutes after meeting with his interviewer.
This isn’t what he’s meant to do, that he knows, but it’s an income, a paycheck, a way to get Joanna into that fancy preschool he has his eye on. It’ll do for now. And maybe sometime in the future he’ll figure this life thing out, he’ll figure everything out.
He spends Christmas with Joanna on his lap, a limp, almost dying tree twinkling above a few haphazardly wrapped gifts, and a suitcase full of drug samples next to the couch. He drinks eggnog he picked up from the corner drug store, watches his little girl shred wrapping paper into ribbons and thinks he’s almost happy. This can be enough.
Leonard’s life soon becomes a tangled blur of waking up, feeding his daughter, dropping her off to daycare, hauling around a suitcase, going home, and going to bed to start the whole process all over again. He guesses this is what a typical day is like for someone, someone who isn’t on call to save a life or constantly running around after someone who needs to sign forty different papers at any given moment.
This is what a majority of people probably consider normal and Leonard has never known what it’s like to follow such a strict routine. It’s boring and he’ll never admit it, but he sort of misses the daily trek to Starbucks, the constant scheduling and rescheduling of appointments. Personal assisting is definitely not his calling but that doesn’t mean he can’t miss it. And okay, maybe he misses his stupid, pretentious asshole boss too, but he’s not telling anyone that.
He’s in the middle of his sales route on what he thinks is Tuesday (funny enough the days run together when he’s bored as much as they do when he’s busy) when he feels a hand upon his shoulder. He’s in a doctor’s office, standing at the sliding glass window of receptionist’s station, waiting for someone, anyone, to tell him he can go back to make his lame sales pitch. And then he feels that hand and he doesn’t even have to look. He’d know that hand anywhere.
Warm and familiar, the fingers resting against his shoulder dig into the thick material of his trench coat and Leonard thinks maybe he’ll have fingerprints embedded into his skin when he undresses later on. It wouldn’t be the worst thing, a little reminder, maybe to convince himself that all of this really happened.
“Bones, they told me you’d be here.”
Leonard whirls around, his grip on his rolling suitcase loosening until the handle slides right out of his fingers. The heavy, lop-sided bag tilts and tilts until it falls over at his feet but he can’t be bothered to pick it up. Not right now. “What? Who told you I’d be where?”
“Your office. I uh, called. Looking for you.” Jim looks, Jesus, he looks as good as he always has. He’s a little rough around the edges, sporting a five o’clock shadow that’s a bit out of character for someone who makes speeches and talks to big movers and shakers every day. He’s in a pair of ragged jeans that have probably seen better days and there are two holes in the bottom of his shirt. It’s been months since he’s seen his former boss and this person looks like Jim, feels like Jim, but this is all new. “Don’t ask how I know who you work for.”
“That’s not what I was going to ask although I have half a mind to yell at you for keeping tabs on me like I’m some sort of lost puppy.” Leonard reaches out and touches the side of Jim’s face lightly, trailing a finger down the scruff he hasn’t shaved off this morning or probably any morning this week. “You look awful.” Hot but awful, he hopes that comes across.
“I think I look pretty amazing. You don’t like the beard I’m growing?”
“It’s different.” Leonard pulls his hand away and picks up his bag. They can’t talk here, not in a waiting room full of people hacking up various parts of their lungs. “Come on, you obviously want to talk to me and I’m not doing it in here where I’m going to contract tuberculosis.” He leads Jim outside, into the freezing cold New York winter, and it’s not snowing today which is a small miracle in itself. It’s been a hard winter and probably not only for Leonard by the looks of things.
Jim, who isn’t wearing a coat, wraps his arms around himself and his breath lingers in front of his face. “So, selling drugs huh?”
“You make it sound like I’m some kind of dealer on a street corner.” Leonard rolls his eyes and takes off his coat, shoving it in Jim’s direction. He’s no more adjusted to these stupidly cold winters than Jim is but there’s still this part of him that wants to give and give and give to this man until he has nothing left. “I know the medications so why not?”
“Why not? Because it’s boring as shit?” Jim takes the coat and puts it on without protest. He immediately shoves his hands into the pockets. “Is this your calling in life?”
“No but what’s it matter to you? What do you even want?”
“Can’t your former boss just drop in to say hello?” Jim grins, his teeth chattering so loudly that it’s hardly an attractive look. It’s the same grin Leonard’s seen time and time again but something is different, something he can’t even put his finger on.
Leonard rolls his eyes. His fingers are growing numb and instead of tuberculosis, he’s probably going to get frostbite. Just his luck. “Not you. What’s going on? Why do you look like you’ve been living under a bridge?” That’s the nicest way he can say that someone looks like shit.
“You have got to stop telling me how terrible I look. I’ll get a complex.” Jim pulls his hands from the pockets of Leonard’s coat and nervously folds them together. “I wanted to say I’m sorry for your last day. Fuck, your last two days or maybe your entire career. I’m not sure.”
“You didn’t have to come all the way out here to apologize. A muffin basket would have been fine.” He could at least have avoided buying groceries for a few days with a muffin basket. Joanna would have been ecstatic.
“Muffins don’t really say I’m sorry, they say get better or I hope you choke on this and die. I just, I’m so fucking sorry, Bones. For the things I said, for everything.” Jim’s biting his lower lip and it’s hard to not accept his apology when he’s freezing his ass off and making that face.
Leonard runs a cold, numb hand over his face. He’s tired and exhausted and he sort of wishes he knew what day of the week it was now. He’s lost and disoriented and he’s never had anything to hold on to, especially not the person standing in front of him. “I have to get back to work, Jim. Some of us don’t have millions of dollars sitting in our bank accounts.”
“Haven’t you heard the news?”
News? Leonard hasn’t heard a damn thing about Kirk Industries or its CEO in months. He’s not actively avoiding almost everything to do with the company but he’s not paying attention either. If there’s news, Leonard has more important things to worry about, like putting food on his table now that the severance package is gone and making sure Joanna isn’t behind on her developmental stages (because somewhere in the back of his mind he fears this the most). So no, he hasn’t heard because he just doesn’t give a fuck. “No, did you burn the building down or something?”
“I probably should have.” Jim laughs, short and soft, the puffs of air hanging between them for a few short milliseconds before dispersing and disappearing. “I resigned.”
Leonard wasn’t expecting that. He really wasn’t. It’s sort of like he’s been hit upside the head with a cold fish and he’s reeling now. “What in the world for? Did Carol slap you with a sexual harassment lawsuit?”
“What? No. Why is that the first thing you come up with? I don’t even like her. She’s a tramp, if you haven’t noticed.”
“I noticed the first five seconds I met her. You apparently hadn’t. And you must not think she’s that much of a tramp to play cops and robbers with her in your underwear.” Leonard isn’t jealous. He’s not. Shut up.
“I’m telling you, she threw herself at me. It all happened really fast. I couldn’t exactly toss her out when she slapped a pair of handcuffs around my wrists.” Jim leans in closer and he doesn’t smell like his familiar, designer cologne. He smells like soap and hard water and it’s different but still nice. Really nice. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I sort of like cock.”
Leonard jerks, almost like he’s been hit with that cold fish again. “I, yeah, wait, what does this have to do with you resigning? Did a man slap you with a sexual harassment lawsuit? Was it Sulu?” Sulu is as crafty as he is smart; Leonard wouldn’t put it past him to try to make a quick buck in this sort of way. Okay, maybe he would. Not everyone is the devil Leonard makes them out to be.
“No, nobody is suing me!” Jim shakes his head and then grabs Leonard by the shoulders. “I’m following your advice. You were always yelling at me about how I never take control of my life, how I should do something else if I didn’t like the way the company was being run.” His fingers trail down to Leonard’s lapels and he holds him there tight. “So I left and I’m going to start my own company. Kirk Innovations.”
“Sounds pretentious.” Leonard doesn’t care about the company name, the changes happening in Jim’s life even though he should. He can’t focus on any of that. He cares about the fingers in his shirt, the heat radiating off the body in front of him. It’s warm and he’s so fucking cold out here.
“Oh, it is. But we’re going to focus on making the world a better place instead of tearing it the fuck up. More trees, less chopping, that sort of deal. It’s what I should have been doing all along.”
“I bet Sam is less than happy about this.”
“I don’t give a shit what Sam thinks about anything.” Jim shrugs, pulling Leonard up against him until they’re flush, chest to chest, and there’s not an inch between them. “I’m looking for a new personal assistant though. I had to let go the frigid bitch I hired a few months ago.”
Leonard is about to pull away because pharmaceuticals may not be his calling but fuck if he’s going to get dragged back into the non-stop rollercoaster that is being Jim Kirk’s personal assistant. No. He can’t do it. “I am not going to be your personal assistant.”
“Don’t be stupid. You are maybe the worst assistant I’ve ever had. You whine and complain and bitch and you’re always telling me right from wrong. You’re my goddamn conscience. It’s so annoying.” Jim’s grip tightens in Leonard’s shirt. “I was sort of hoping you’d put your medical degree to good use and join the R&D team.”
“Kirk Innovations s is going to make medical supplies?”
“Kirk Innovations is going to make anything and everything that makes the fucking world a better place and that includes start of the art medical supplies. I just need a stupid, genius doctor to lead the division. Know where I can find one of those?” Jim is close now, leaning in and Leonard can smell the coffee he must have had this morning still lingering on his breath. Their lips are almost brushing now and all it would take it just a tilt of the head, the extension of the neck, the pursing of the lips.
“I might.” Leonard chuckles and his hands settle around Jim’s hips. “But I thought I was old and grumpy and a miserable fuck up. I thought I was too much to handle.”
“I said I was sorry.” Jim’s lips are ghosting against Leonard’s and it’s all out in the open, on a sidewalk, but the world doesn’t exist outside of the two of them right now. “You’re just the right amount of fucked up and I want to handle you every day for the rest of my life.”
“Well, okay, but I’m going to make you pay for this –” Leonard doesn’t get to finish his sentence and Jim Kirk sure has a funny way of making him lose his train of thought. He doesn’t even know what he was going to say because Jim’s lips are on his and they’re both sober and they’re both freezing their asses off but none of it matters now. This feels right, in a way it’s never felt right before, not with Jocelyn, not with anyone.
They kiss, there on the sidewalk, in broad day light, and it starts to snow, a sprinkling of white dust settling down onto their shoulders. It’s cliché and pathetic and something out of a Hugh Grant movie but it’s perfect and when they part, chests heaving, foreheads touching, Leonard knows that maybe he’s finally done something right.
“I think I have frostbite,” Leonard whispers, his frozen fingers finding Jim’s still tangled up in his lapel. “We should find some heat. Take me home?”
“Always,” Jim says, giving Leonard one last peck on the lips before pulling away. “I hope you don’t want your coat back. I like it. I’m sure it gives me that homeless look I’ve been going for.” He keeps a tight grip on Leonard’s hand, the smile on his lips a mile wide and Leonard is stupid enough to know that his face probably looks the same way (and if it froze like this, out in this inane weather, it’d be perfectly fine with him).
“The dirt on your pants and the holes in your shirt do a fine enough job at that.” Leonard leads Jim to his car, leaving his suitcase behind on the sidewalk. He won’t need it anymore and he won’t miss it, won’t even a blink an eye or give a second thought about abandoning his job. This wasn’t the job for him.
“I can’t wait to gag you,” Jim says, fishing around in his jean pocket with his free hand. “Oh, this is for you. I think you’ll need it. We have a lot of work to do.” He shoves an iPhone into Leonard’s chest and laughs. “I know you’ve missed Siri.”
“Far more than I’ve missed you.” Leonard takes the phone, holds it tightly in his hand and kisses Jim’s cheek. “Thank you.”
“Sure thing.” Jim nods and shoves Leonard up against the car. “So, hey. Can I get that prostate exam now?”
“Get in the damn car.”
They probably break a few laws driving back to Leonard’s apartment, probably break a few more once they get inside, but whatever hole that’s been sitting in the middle of Leonard’s chest is filled now, filled with a gigantic head and an even bigger ego. For the first time, in maybe a long time, he’s happy, really, truly happy.
So maybe Jim Kirk is the other half of grumpy old Leonard McCoy’s soul. Who would have guessed?
“Siri, what is love?”
“Okay, here goes.”
Noun – a strong positive emotion of regard and affection.
Noun – a deep feeling of sexual desire and attraction.
Yeah, that sounds about right.