Leonard opened Jim’s closet door and grunted in surprise. It was actually pretty tidy. With any luck Jim had Leonard’s extra med coat stashed in here and it would easy to spot.
It had to have been Jim. No one else would've taken it. He was probably using it to scam co-eds—although, no, Leonard thought with a rueful grimace, Jim didn’t need scams to get laid. If Jim wasn’t so good natured about it, Leonard would probably have to hate the kid on general principal for the way people just sort of fell onto his dick. So, odds were Jim hadn’t ‘borrowed’ the coat for a scam. More likely he was using it to play doctor with someone. The thought triggered a scowl. His coat had sure as hell better not have any mysterious stains on it or he was gonna…Leonard’s scowl deepened as he rifled through Jim’s uniforms and civvies. Goddammit. It wasn’t there.
He needed that coat. His regular med coat had been splattered with Argellian blood on his last shift, which was impossible to get out of fabric and whose smell approached toxic. And he had rounds in—Leonard glanced at his watch—shit, less than forty-five minutes.
He walked to his desk and grabbed his link, mood downgrading from annoyed to pissed when it went directly to message. “Jim, you inconsiderate ass," he growled into it. "Where the hell is my spare med coat? I have to be at the hospital in less than an hour and I need it for rounds. You better call me and you better have it and it better be pristine.”
He cut off the message and then paused. Maybe Jim would respond to e-mail faster. Getting his padd out he typed up the exact same message, hit send and then growled in exasperation when he heard a faint pinging sound coming from Jim’s desk. Stalking across the room he yanked the drawer open and, sure enough, there was Jim’s padd. Reaching in, Leonard palmed it and scowled down at the innocent device.
“For fuck’s sake.” Eyes narrowed, he typed in Jim’s password. He should toss the damn padd out the window but, no, he’d just leave a little message for the next time the dip shit accessed it.
My name is Jim Kirk and I am an ass. I will return my roommate’s med coat. I will respect my roommate’s possessions. Or I will find myself with three different versions of the goddamn clap!
After making sure the message would pop up as soon as the device was powered on, Leonard started to hit the off button and then paused, frowning at a folder labeled ‘Stuff.’ The very innocuousness of the description was suspicious since Jim tended to label his files with names like ‘Report that Shall Conquer the World’ and ‘List of Things Bones Should Do Before He Becomes an Old Geezer’ and 'List of Professors I Would Totally Do'.
Leonard's finger poised over the folder, hesitating. He really shouldn’t invade Jim’s privacy like this. Then again, Jim and personal boundaries didn’t really belong in the same sentence. Finally, giving in to curiosity, Leonard tapped open the folder, raising an eyebrow when he saw that it was a series of picture files with numerical names.
Huh. He didn’t know the kid was into photography.
Maybe it was Jim’s porn stash.
Except Jim already had a folder labeled ‘Epic Porn Stash.’
With growing curiosity Leonard tapped open the first file and, as the picture popped up, felt his jaw drop.
It was Jim.
It was a half naked Jim.
A low simmer of heat pooled in Leonard's belly and he shifted uneasily. Dammit, it wasn’t like he hadn’t seen Jim half clothed before, lounging on the bed in his boxers or stripping off his uniform with carefree ease. Jim wasn’t exactly shy. But he was posing in this picture; shirtless, wearing old fashioned button down jeans with the top buttons undone, just enough to show he was going commando. And he was just looking at the camera with those outrageously blue eyes of his, almost serious, the barest quirk of a smile on his lips as he leaned back, inviting the viewer to…Leonard felt his mouth go dry.
He opened the next one.
It was, if anything, more inviting than the last. Jim with a playful grin and mischief dancing in his eyes, looking about twelve except that his body was all man. Lean and defined. Wet. Water glistened off of his chest, darkened his blonde hair as he stood in the sun in nothing but a pair of wet swim trunks that molded to his…
He should close the files, Leonard thought, trying to ignore the arousal punching through him. This was ridiculous. Fine, yes, Jim was attractive. Leonard wasn’t immune. Hell, they’d even fooled around a couple months ago—Friday, October twelfth, his subconscious pointed out—drunk off their asses, alone and horny. It hadn’t gone far. They’d both pulled back after a few searing kisses, a few gropes that had burned into Leonard’s skin. They’d laughed, awkward and wary, and then put it behind them as a drunken moment that neither of them ever had to talk about.
And they hadn’t.
And maybe the memories of that evening refused to stay buried, kept popping up at inconvenient times, but a little frustration was a hell of a lot better than making a fool of himself over his best friend. Because throwing himself at someone like Jim would just be pathetic. And since Jim didn’t have a mean bone in his body, he'd let Leonard down easy. He’d be…kind.
Just the thought made Leonard cringe.
An image—a memory—flashed through Leonard’s mind, of the flat planes of Jim’s stomach, the hard angle of hip bones, the almost scorching heat of soft skin and the electric intensity of gleaming eyes…Leonard swallowed hard and opened the next file.
There was Jim in a cowboy hat, boots and chaps, holding a lariat and grinning. And there was Jim in Leonard’s med coat and nothing else, the coat hanging open, framing Jim’s sculpted body. Jim in shadows. Jim in sunlight. The pictures went on and on. Like a man possessed Leonard kept opening files until he'd seen them all, every single one irrevocably imprinted onto his brain.
The final picture was of Jim wearing nothing but a Santa hat—not on his head—and a jaunty smile. It would have made Leonard chuckle except his hard on was so painful by that point—and the ball of unhappiness in his stomach so knotted—that nothing about the situation seemed amusing anymore.
Because the kid had a healthy ego but no way in hell he’d gotten these done for himself. These were the kinds of pictures you did for a lover—and not a casual one. Someone was important enough to Jim that he'd thought these pictures up for them, had gone to the time and effort to set the scenes up.
These pictures were meant for someone. Someone else.
Jaw clenching, Leonard quickly closed the files and deleted the message he’d coded to pop up, powering off the padd and carefully placing it back where he’d found it. Then he went into the bathroom and grimly took care of his hard on, helpless to stop the images of Jim that flooded his mind.
He should never have looked at those goddamn pictures.
“Not a bad way to celebrate Christmas Eve, huh, Bones?”
Leonard thought about their evening. He had to admit, the kid had pulled out all the stops. Jim had gotten a takeout Christmas dinner from Sergio’s, a family restaurant in the city. They’d had ham and turkey, mashed potatoes with thick gravy, green beans, pumpkin pie and champagne. The last’d had Leonard raising an eyebrow in surprise since whiskey, bourbon or beer were more their style.
Jim had just given him a sheepish but determined smile. “What? Drinking champagne at Christmas is an old Kirk family tradition.”
Since there were few Kirk family traditions that Jim even acknowledged, let alone practiced, Leonard had shrugged and enjoyed his bubbly.
Over the past couple weeks, Leonard had discovered that Jim liked Christmas.
Jim liked Christmas a lot.
He’d watched, bemused, as the younger man turned their dorm room and the common areas into a festive celebration of green, red and silver, pressing various other students into service when Leonard refused to help. The kid had stopped pushing for Leonard’s active participation—well, had pushed less—after Leonard snapped that Christmas wasn’t exactly a jolly time for him what with an ex-wife who still hated him meaning a daughter he wasn’t going to get to see.
But Leonard hadn’t had the heart to grumble too much. It took a stronger Grinch than him to remain a moody, sullen bastard in the face of Jim’s cheerful determination to enjoy the holiday.
He’d put his foot down about the music though. Jim had taken to playing—and singing loudly—Christmas music at all hours until Leonard found himself humming the damn catchy tunes under his breath, catching himself with a scowl only to start humming again a few minutes later. Damn songs were like a fucking virus, infecting everyone who heard them.
The fact that Jim had been completely reasonable and stopped playing the music when Leonard had yelled at him only made Leonard feel like a more complete asshole. Which was probably why he’d relented to Jim’s patented combination of coaxing and badgering and agreed to attend the dorm Christmas party instead of hiding out in their rooms with a bottle of bourbon.
Jim had—of course—been the main instigator of the Christmas party, which coincided with the end of finals. The dorm party had somehow turned into a block party that had somehow turned into a campus wide party fueled by a never ending supply of spiked eggnog and mistletoe, and resulting in surprisingly few arrests. Even more surprising, Jim had managed not to be one of the arrestees.
So, yeah, apparently Jim really liked Christmas.
And now it was Christmas Eve and they were in the deserted dorm rec room, full of good food and watching the tail end of a couple of ancient Christmas classics in black and white. It seemed Jim could be quite the traditionalist when he wanted to.
It had been…an unexpectedly pleasant way to spend the evening. The ache in his chest for Christmas with Jo was still there but bearable, soothed by Jim’s company and the quiet.
Looking now at Jim’s expectant face, Leonard nodded. “Yeah, kid,” he agreed quietly, drinking the last of his champagne and dropping the glass back to the coffee table as they sat on the old, comfortable couch. “Not a bad way to celebrate at all.”
The credits from the last movie scrolled across the screen, and Leonard felt the peacefulness of the night settle into him as he listened to Jim’s quiet breathing by his side.
“Hey, Bones?” Jim’s voice was almost hushed.
“Yeah, kid?” He looked over and watched Jim nod his head at the wall clock.
Seeing the clock tick past midnight, Leonard offered Jim a half smile.
“Merry Christmas, Jim.”
They looked at each other for a moment and Leonard felt the air shift slightly, an odd sense of anticipation building, although he didn’t know of what. There was a look in Jim’s eyes he couldn’t quite...
Jim grinned suddenly, a flash of white teeth in the dim light. “Present time!”
Leonard chuckled as Jim disappeared off the old couch, the odd mood broken. He leaned his head back, closing his eyes to bask in the hushed atmosphere, feeling relaxed and, dare he say it, something approaching happy. Or at least not miserable.
He heard the steps announce Jim’s return but left his eyes closed.
“Dude, I know you’re old, but don’t fall asleep. It’s early yet.”
Leonard opened his eyes and scowled at Jim’s grin. “I’m not asleep. I was appreciating the goddamn moment.”
“Uh huh. So, anyway, Merry Christmas.” Jim held out a thin, flat, brightly wrapped package and Leonard took it, flipping it back and forth to examine it from all angles, aware of Jim hovering, almost fidgeting.
Leonard looked up at him. “My present for you is in our rooms. I can go get it if you want to open them at the same time.”
“Nah. Open mine first.” More fidgeting.
Puzzled by Jim’s uncommon show of nerves, Leonard stared down at the package and then shrugged and started removing the paper.
Apparently too slowly for Jim’s taste.
“Seriously, Bones?” Leonard could hear the eye roll. “You’re one of those? Just rip it already.”
“Shut up, Jim,” Leonard responded absently as he broke the sealant with precise moves, making sure not to tear the shiny red paper.
“Y’know my grandma used to unwrap like that.”
“Fuck off,” Leonard replied blandly. A lifelong inclination toward neatness had only been reinforced by his surgical training and he wasn’t going to be hurried along. Besides, the kid needed to learn some patience.
And then Leonard’s fingers jerked, the paper tearing from the involuntary motion as he uncovered the present.
It was Jim.
It was a half naked Jim.
It was an old fashioned paper calendar, the cover showing a very familiar picture of Jim in half buttoned jeans, shirtless; a picture of invitation.
Leonard slowly opened the calendar and flipped carefully through it, picture after familiar picture, showcasing Jim in shadows and sunlight and various states of undress. Jim, looking out at the camera, inviting the viewer in. Inviting Leonard in.
Jim had done all this for him.
He looked up at the younger man who was still hovering, standing on the balls of his feet like he was ready to make a fast retreat.
“I, uh, well, I thought you could…I mean, I’ve been kind of thinking about that night, y’know awhile back and…”
Jim stared at him in surprise and then some of the nerves dropped away, replaced by something steadier. “Yeah, October twelfth. And I was thinking we could try that again…only, sober this time. Uhm…if you wanted and…”
There was a sharp intake of breath at Leonard’s raspy order and then Jim was approaching with uncharacteristic caution. Leonard placed the calendar carefully on the coffee table and then focused on the real thing, reaching up to snag Jim’s t-shirt, dragging him gently down to the couch.
When he leaned in Jim was right there, tasting of champagne and desire, a heady combination that made Leonard’s thoughts swim. Jim’s mouth was hot and eager and yet the kiss felt like forever, the slow building of arousal somehow mellow and perfect in the midnight hour. When they finally pulled back, Jim’s eyes were heavy lidded, his face flushed and his smile happy.
Leonard figured he probably looked pretty damn happy himself.
“I like the present.”
He watched the corners of Jim’s eyes crinkle, pleased.
“I like the real thing even more.” It was sappy as hell but Leonard couldn’t regret it when he saw the answering smile light up Jim’s face, like he’d just gotten every single wish on his Christmas list.
Leonard leaned in again, hands reaching under Jim’s t-shirt to feel warm, soft skin over hard muscles, heard the unsteadiness of Jim’s breathing, felt the rapid beating of his heart.
Maybe they both had.