The last thing Leo is expecting when his long-estranged grandmother invites him to have lunch with her is to be told that he’s a prince. Really, out of everyone he knows, he would have expected this to happen to Jim.
Jim’s got the charm and grace for the royal life. He’s dashing and gorgeous and Leo is on the Science Olympiad team. Really, it should be Jim.
At least he, unlike Leo, would probably love it.
“Please tell me I’m not betrothed or anything.” Leo is sure that they wouldn’t do that to him. After all, it isn’t like it’s the 1400s.
“Well,” Leonard’s grandmother (Apparently the queen of Genovia, what even) starts to look extremely uncomfortable. “We do have an arrangement with a certain family in Genovia. The Darnell family. Very respected. Their daughter, Lady Jocelyn, is slated to be your Queen if you are unwed when it comes time to take the throne.”
Leo jumps up out of his seat. “What if I do find someone else? What if I fall in love?” He waves his hands around in the air. “Listen. I never signed up for any of this. I’m doing it because I cannot let down an entire country but I will not marry someone I don’t know.”
Clarisse does not react beyond raising her eyebrows slightly and setting her teacup down. She pats the table. “Come now, Leonard. We won’t force you to marry Jocelyn, though I do think you two would be a fine match.”
“You don’t know anything about me.” Leo sits down with his arms crossed and he feels too much like a petulant child so he uncrosses them. “Maybe if you had ever come and visited me, you would, but you didn’t so you don’t.”
“I may not have visited because your mother did not want me to come near you, but I did keep tabs on you. I do care, Leonard.” Her eyes are pleading even though the rest of her posture depicts indifference. “We won’t make you marry Jocelyn if you have someone else, but it is in everyone’s best interest to have a ruler with a stable romantic status on the throne.”
Leo can hear Jim’s laughter all the way from down the street and it pisses him off. The limo pulls up to the curb and Jim is standing there, peacoat on, stupid pretentious beanie perched on his head. His blond hair styled perfectly to make it look like he didn’t try at all. Laughter causes dumb creases by his stupid blue eyes. “Get in, idiot.”
Just because he’s in love with his dumb best friend does not mean that he has to be nice to him. In fact, he thinks it gives him even more of a right to be mean to him.
“So, your grandma finally told you that you’re a prince.” Jim casually hands Leo a coffee.
Leo just stares at him. Jim looks ahead casually and taps his foot to the music on the radio. “How did you know?” Honestly, sometimes he wonders if Jim is actually an international spy.
Jim turns to Leo with a gleam in his eye. “I’ve known since eighth grade. When we had to those dumb country projects and I did Genovia, remember?”
Leo nods vaguely. He does sort of remember. “Alright.”
“Well, I researched the family tree and apparently the Queen, Clarisse Rinaldi, had a son who ran away and no one saw him for a few years and then he came back and it was like nothing ever happened. And it would have been nothing, except when I looked at pictures of the royal family, they totally looked like you! So, I may or may not have hacked into several places of questionable legality and found your birth certificate and there it was. Father: David Rinaldi.” Jim settles back into his seat triumphantly. “I’ve known all along, Bones.”
Leo is suddenly angry, no, furious at Jim. The kid knew all along that he was royalty? “What the hell? You didn’t think that telling me would be important? Just let me found out or not?”
Jim suddenly looks like a dog that’s peed on the floor. “Well, I talked to your mom and she told me not to tell you. So I didn’t.” He twiddles his fingers in his lap and Leo can’t help but forgive him.
“You’re a pain.”
“Would you say I’m a...royal pain?” Jim smiles again, just a little smirk that plays up the corners of his mouth.
Suddenly, Leo is overcome with the intense urge to kiss Jim senseless. So he does.
Jim’s initial reaction is to shout a little and freeze but it only takes about half a second for him to relax and wrap his arms around Leo’s neck. He pushes past Leo’s lips with his tongue and suddenly he knows why Jim has the reputation that he does. He’s good at this.
Really really good.
“So. You didn’t think to tell me that?” Jim pulls away and laughs too hard to have really just been making out with his royal best friend in the back of a limo. “Really inconsiderate, your highness.”
Leo just punches him in the ribcage. Maybe he won’t have to marry Jocelyn.
Turns out life as a prince sucks royally. “Pun intended, Bones. Pun intended.”
The press are constantly following him wherever he goes and he can’t even kiss his boyfriend without it ending up on the cover of some random tabloid. He doesn’t even have to do anything important and he’s automatically one of the most famous people in the country.
“The all-american prince tells us all.” Jim giggles at the article in the magazine that Leo was forced to do. “Aw, look, Bonesy! You’ve even got your tiara on!”
Leo snatches the magazine away and hits Jim upside the head with it. “Honestly? Princesses wear tiaras. I wear crowns. Crowns, Jim, crowns. Besides, that isn’t even ours. That’s some dumb thing from JC Penny or whatever. Like we’d ever allow the crown jewels to be featured in Seventeen.”
For some reason, this makes Jim laugh way too hard. He doubles over and can’t breathe for so long that Leo is genuinely worried he’ll actually die. That would look bad on the cover of a newspaper. ‘Prince’s boyfriend dead from laughter.’
Jim is ever charming, of course. The press love him. The royals love him. [Bones loves him but it’s completely different.]
Leo thinks, not for the first time, that this might be it for him. Jim is lively and he doesn’t actually care about him being royal, despite the fact that he likes to constantly make jokes about it. After all, he’s known longer than Leo himself has and he’s never treated him weirdly.
Leo kisses Jim fiercely and the blond shouts a little like he always does when Leo does this, but they meld perfectly together and soon Jim is laying back on the couch and their shirts are both unbuttoned.
“Someone should probably tell your grandmother we’re going to be late.”
Somewhere in the mixed up world of salad forks and soup spoons and sitting up straight, Jim figures out that it isn’t right for him.
Clarisse of course thinks that he’s the sun in the sky. Ever charming and ready for a party at which he’ll have to lead Leo around and socialize with royals, Jim is the obvious choice for Leo to marry. She tells him as much. “He’s attractive and kind and a simply divine dancer. Really, Leonard, I commend you.” A swift pat on the arm before she is once again swept into the duties of being Queen.
It’s at moments like this that Leo realizes maybe he is loved by this woman who only wants him to be the best ruler for her country.
Leo actually takes up the mantle and by the time he’s eighteen, he thinks that maybe he’s going to be acceptable some day. He’s got Jim by his side and training enough to make him semi decent. He’s been accepted to the best school in the country and things actually look like they might go right.
Until they don’t.
“I’m so sorry, Leonard.” Jim is crying. Leo sees his bag laying, packed, by the bed. He doesn’t move from where he stands in the doorway.
“Why are you calling me Leonard?” Leo already knows, though. He’s known for weeks.
Jim sighs and stands up. He wipes the tears from his eyes. “Look, it’s not like I don’t love you anymore, Leo. I just can’t do this. I cannot be royal. They want me to be King and I am not made for that life. You are.” He shrugs and picks up his bag. “I’m so sorry. I tried, I really did.”
He walks past Leo and he could swear Jim packed his heart away in that duffel.
Of course, they both forget that they’re supposed to be roommates at Harvard. They never did say ‘Let’s just be friends!’ but they are forced into it.
“Honestly, Jim! You can’t just put your dishes in the sink? Are you ten years old?” Leo knows he’s being to harsh, but a two year relationship that just ended suddenly tends to cause some tension.
“Sorry, your highness. Not all of us are perfect little princes.”
So they argue. A lot. At first it’s dumb things like picking up their laundry and watching the wrong thing on tv. Sometimes it’s Jim giong out and getting hurt. Or coming in late from getting fucked by any number of people.
Their eyes only ever meet a few times that first year but when the next year comes they still choose to live together.
And the next.
And the next.
Eventually they stop fighting about the things that don’t matter like neatness or movie preference and start fighting about the things that they used to talk about. They argue about literature (Jim doesn’t like To Kill a Mockingbird that much. Leo thinks it’s the best book ever written) and politics (“Really Jim, to completely ignore another party’s views because you have decided they are always wrong it complete bullshit!”) and music (Jim is in love with Bastille. Leo would rather listen to Arctic Monkeys.) The whole time, though, they find themselves smiling after a fight rather than storming away.
Somewhere during Sophomore year, Jim stops being his ex-boyfriend (fiancee if they’re being completely honest) and starts being his best friend again. They argue a lot but it feels more normal than it did.
Of course, it’s not always like that. Jim is still the only person Leo’s ever loved and he’s also the only person he can’t have. Being a prince will get you a lot of things but it won’t make Jim Kirk love you again.
It hurts the most when Jim stops messing around and starts getting serious with people. One day he stops coming home in the middle of the night and stops getting beat up. Leo’s worried at first.
Then he brings home Carol. His new girlfriend. She’s lovely, and it kills Leo. She laughs at his jokes and makes fun of him for being a prince and going to school in the us. She’s a bubble of fun and genius topped off with beauty and a british accent. She’s perfect for Jim, who’s grown more mature and absolutely adores her, Leo can tell.
Of course, who can blame him? Even Leo falls for it and they become fast friends. She’s absolutely one of the funniest people he’s ever met (Jim excluded) and she cares about people so much. She knows about their relationship (who doesn’t?) and she doesn’t care. “I trust Jim. I trust you.”
Leo thinks that she shouldn’t trust him. If it were the only way to be with Jim, he’d slit her throat and forget that she ever even existed. If it meant that he could have Jim’s lips against his own just one more time, he’d do anything.
He cries a lot. He cries when Carol whispers to him late at night that she thinks Jim might be the one. He thinks vaguely that he probably looked a lot like her when he said the same thing to his mother at the tender age of seventeen.
He sobs for hours when Jim breaks her heart, too. She calls Leo at three am and begs him to come out and go to starbucks with her because she can’t be alone right now, she just can’t.
He shoots Jim a look across the room and grabs his coat. He feels blue on his back, begging him to come back, but he knows how it feels to be broken by those eyes, so he walks out.
Carol is distraught and Leo can tell that she thinks for a minute that maybe Jim dumped her for Leo, but obviously he shuts that down without a word. “How did you deal with it, Leonard? How did you move on?”
He really isn’t sure how to respond to that. Obviously, he’s gotten over it enough to live with Jim, but he’s still sure that he’d do anything for Jim. “It just comes eventually. One day you wake up and you don’t think about Jim Kirk.”
He hopes to god that she doesn’t see through his lie. Carol deserves to be happy.
“Really, Leonard. I insist that you at least meet her. She’s quite lovely and you are quite single.” Clarisse straightens Leo’s tie and gives him the ‘grandmother look’ that she has down to a tee. “I don’t understand why you’re behaving so standoffish.”
Leo rolls his eyes and pushes her away a little. After seven year of being a prince and respecting grandmother, he feels like he’s earned a little petulance. “I just don’t want to be pushed into anything, is all. I’m twenty four, not a child anymore.”
“You are twenty four and I am seventy seven. I want to retire eventually which means that you will soon have a serious responsibility.” She pushes him toward the door. “Come along, you’ll at least meet her.”
He walks out to tremendous applause. His crimson and gold sash hangs on his shoulders and his crown feels just a tad too heavy for the first time. His eyes meet Jim’s across the room. (Of course he was invited to the birthday party. They’re somehow still friends after all the shit.)
He socializes, says hello to Nyota, the ever stunning wife of Spock, the prince of a country Leo isn’t even going to try to pronounce. “Hello, dear. I hear you’re finally going to meet Joss tonight. She’s lovely.”
He doesn’t expect it, but Jocelyn really is lovely. She’s got honey blond hair and green eyes and she blushes and giggles like a perfect lady should. She rests her hand on his shoulder and whispers in his ear, “I thought this was going to be so terribly awkward because we’re betrothed and all, but it isn’t. I’m so glad it was you and not anyone else.”
It’s so different because Jim would never whisper that he was lovely. He would whisper dirty jokes and laugh too loudly. Jocelyn, however, is just the right volume and she glows under the lights of the ballroom. She was born into this life and she thrives.
So they dance all night and he sees his grandmother smiling her very own secret smile that looks so much like his own. He meets eyes with Jim once and he doesn’t understand what he sees.
For the first time ever, it almost doesn’t matter.
Jocelyn doesn’t attack him with too-dirty kisses at the end of the night. She gives him a light peck on the lips as they walk through the palace gardens under the moonlight. It’s totally cliche and far too sugary sweet but it suits Leonard just fine.
He takes Jocelyn out on a real date finally. He picks her up at her door with a bouquet of roses which she takes with the most ladylike of fingers brushing his own. They go out to lunch and people watch them eat. He hears whispers and sees flashes. When she starts to get shy, he hands her his blazer and helps her hide.
They somehow end up running down the street away from the paparazzi. Leo holds her heels in one hand and holds her small hand with his other.
They hide in a doorway in an alley and neither of them can stop laughing. “Well, Lady Jocelyn, I do believe that you might owe me a kiss for rescuing you.”
Jocelyn laughs out loud and it’s a bit harsher than before, loud and bursting with happiness, but it still suits her and he thinks it’s quite possibly the most perfect thing he’s ever heard. “Well, Prince Leonard. Who am I to refuse my rescuer?”
So she puts her hand on his neck and pulls him into a tender kiss that leaves them both breathless and smiling at the end.
For the first time in his life, Leo starts waking up and not thinking about Jim Kirk.
“So, do you think you’ll marry her?” Jim sits at the giant island in the palace kitchens. Leo stops where he’s been dishing out ice cream to look up at Jim.
“I don’t know. She’s absolutely wonderful. I think it would work out quite well.” He slides Jim his dish of ice cream. “Why do you ask?”
Jim sighs and digs in. “I don’t know. I just really don’t see it working out in the long run.”
Leo feels himself grow defensive and angry. “Really? And who are you to tell me whether or not my relationships will work out?”
“You need someone who’ll challenge you more, Bones.”
“Really? Because last time I dated someone who ‘challenged me’ it didn’t end so well, did it?” Leo pushes his bowl away and stands up.
Jim yells, “Really? You’re going to bring that up now? It has been six years, Bones. Let it go.”
They stare at each other for a long time. “Why are you even here, Jim?”
And suddenly it’s like everything Jim’s ever done catches up with him because his face just falls. “I thought that spending some time with my best friend would be a good thing.”
Leo honestly doesn’t know how to respond so he just stands there as Jim walks out of the room.
It all goes down at a garden party, of all things. There Leonard is, minding his own business with Jocelyn on his arm, when Jim shows up with Carol Marcus. Leo wants to kill him because Carol deserves to be over him and not have her heart tugged around.
“Hello, Leonard! Oh, I’ve missed you so much!” Carol kisses him on both cheeks and turns to Carol with a broad grin. “Oh, I have heard so much about you from Leo. Really, I have been so excited to meet you.”
So they all talk and it’s lovely. Jim brags about Carol’s multiple degrees and her big-time job as the leader of an engineering firm. Leo talks about Jocelyn’s charity projects. Both of the girls start to look very uncomfortable after a few moments and they both pull away from their respective dates. “Come along, Jocelyn. I’ve seen these two go at it before and it’s not pretty. We’ll just leave you to it, boys.” Carol smiles and rescues Jocelyn, who is looking extremely uncomfortable.
Leo turns on his heel and storms off through the gardens. He ends up by a lovely fountain that has flowers draped around it. It takes a few moments for him to remember the significance of this place.
“You need to learn to stop running, Bones.” Jim is behind him. Of course he is. “We could just talk once instead.” He looks around and picks a flower off one of the bushes. “Lovely place you’ve got here.”
“It’s where we kissed for the first time, Jocelyn and me.” He pauses for a split second, unsure of whether he should add the second part. Screw it. “It’s where I’m going to propose to her.”
Jim’s breath visibly catches and he steps forward. “I still think it’s a mistake. You two are not right for each other.” He smirks, knowing he’s getting under Leo’s skin.
“Shut up. You don’t know anything about me anymore. Screw you, Jim.” Leo turns away but Jim grabs his shoulder and spins him back around.
“I’m your best friend, Bones. I know you’ve got something against me, who knows why, but you need to stop acting like a toddler. You’re going to be inheriting a country soon.” Jim’s hand doesn’t leave his shoulder.
Leo yells out in frustration. “Really? The baby genius Jim Kirk hasn’t figured out exactly what I have against him? You were it for me, Jim, and you broke my heart. I finally got over you, thank god, and you won’t let me be happy. I loathe you.”
Jim steps closer and soon their chests are touching. “Oh, you couldn’t possibly loathe me as much as I loathe you.”
“Oh I think I could. I loathed you first.”
“I loathe you more.”
Suddenly, their lips are smashed together and their kissing like they never stopped. Leo lets himself melt into it for a second before he’s pushing Jim away and falling back into the fountain. He grabs Jim’s lapel and pulls him in after.
It’s not fun to explain his wet clothes and swollen lips to Jocelyn and Clarisse.
Leonard is on one knee in the garden (not in front of that fountain) and Jocelyn shakes her head with a slightly watery laugh. “No, Leonard. I can’t do this.”
His whole world feels like it’s coming down but he’s not really that upset for some reason. He doesn’t get up, though. He’s determined to marry her. “What? Why not?”
Jocelyn offers him her hand and kisses his cheeks. “You still love him. It’s okay, you two were meant to be, I think.” She pushes him towards the exit. “I’d better be invited to the wedding.”
So Leo kisses her chastely one last time. “Dear, you’ll be the maid of honor.”
She’s crying and Leo can’t help but think that they could have worked out in a different universe. Still, he turns his back.
He walks up the hill toward the palace and he sees the familiar form of Jim standing at the door. He’s clearly waiting for an answer. Leo realizes that he’s probably expecting him to be walking back with Jocelyn but she’s still in the garden.
Jim starts walking toward him when he sees that he’s alone. Then he starts running. “Didn’t you do it?”
“I did it. She said no.” Leo looks him in the eye and realizes that she was definitely right. He’s not over him. He doubts he ever will be.
For the first time, he doesn’t want to be.
“Okay. Good. I mean, not good for you but...oh god I’m doing so badly at this, aren’t I?” Jim runs a hand through his hair nervously. “What I’m trying to say is that if you married her, it would probably kill me.”
“No, shut up for once. I just wanted to say before you send me away for the rest of forever because I ruined your life, that I never should have broken up with you. I was terrified.” When Leo doesn’t respond, Jim starts to turn away. “Okay, I’m going back to Iowa for the rest of forever.”
“Jim, we argue. All the time.” Leo speaks and Jim pauses and turns back. “You get under my skin and make me want to scream all the time. I am going to go gray very young because of all of the crap you put me through.”
Jim looks crushed. “Bones please stop.”
“But what I’m trying to say is that we argue. Like, we’re always fighting. But I realized that I’d rather be fighting with you than being perfectly charming with her.”
Jim opens and closes his mouth a few times before dropping to his knee. Leo gapes. “Are you kidding me.”
Jim pulls out a ring box with a goofy grin. “I know we aren’t even together, really, but I’ve known you for my whole life and we were together once and we almost got married, remember that? The point is, I couldn’t stand to ever lose you again. Please say yes or this is going to get really embarrassing really fast.”
“You’re such an idiot. Yes.”
Their wedding is everything they ever thought it would be. Carol and Jocelyn are maids of honor, which makes them giggle because they call themselves “best women” like total dorks.
Jim walks down the aisle and takes Leo’s breath away. They say their vows and everyone cheers, including Clarisse, who’ll be giving up the throne in a year. She cheers and claps and even cries a little bit. It surprises everyone but Jim and Leo, both of whom roll their eyes.
At the reception they finally get some down time from being diplomatic and charming. Leo pulls Jim into a slow waltz. “So, how does it feel to be royal?”
Jim looks up at him and grins. “Honestly? The sash is weird and it’s a lot of pressure. I think I could learn to love it, though. When do I get my tiara?”
Leo laugh and kisses him. People cheer around them. “I love you, idiot.”
Yeah, he’s sure this is it for him.