Again, if you haven't read Western Skies yet, these will make NO sense! Give WS a go, and I hope you like it! :)
Note: These are unbetaed. I abuse my beta enough, I spare her from these. XD
I Don't Feel Like Dancing
Len bowed to the lovely Bolian woman at the end of his randomly-paired dance, and walked back to where Jim was standing, rolling his eyes at the smirk on the younger man's face. "What, Jim?" Jim smacked him on the shoulder, and he barely kept back a wince.
"You old dog, you never told me you could dance! You cut quite the figure out there with Cadet Slic." Len scowled and grabbed a glass of champagne off a passing server's tray, taking an overly-large swallow.
"That's because I never had a reason to bring it up. Don't think I've danced like that since my wedding." Jim raised an eyebrow.
"That doesn't tell me where you learned to dance." Len glared at Jim, but the man just looked right back at him with that infuriatingly calm smile. Damnit.
"My mother made me take classes," He muttered quietly, and Jim grinned.
"What was that? I couldn't hear you." Len turned up the venom in his eyes, but it just bounced off the brat. Figured.
"You heard me, you ingrate." Jim made a hmming sound, before looking back towards the crowd.
"Looks like the next group is going to get called now." Len looked towards the stage, where the cadet that had been emceeing was holding up a PADD. Well, at least he was done. Jim hadn't been paired off yet, and they were almost done with this farce. Len glanced over at the sand-haired man, who was watching the host intently.
"Should I prepare for treating your partner's toes, Jim?" Len said, giving Jim a little smirk. Jim rolled his eyes and scoffed.
"I've been practicing, I told you. Just be prepared to be dazzled by my skill."
"I'll believe it when I see it." Jim opened his mouth to retort, but was interrupted by the announcer.
"Officers, Cadets, Honored Guests, it is time for the second-to-last round of our randomly paired dances! As always, if you are not confident in your skill, simply try your best, and get to know the person you are paired with." Len listened as she began to read off the pairs, noting that Cadet Uhura was paired off with a Vulcan instructor, and Admiral Gaynor was joined by a nervous looking male cadet. The dance floor continued to fill, and Len waited with Jim for his name to be called. It didn't take long. "Captain Christopher Pike and Cadet James Kirk." Len felt Jim stiffen next to him, and he glanced towards the cadets that had been doing the random matching, who were futilely trying to suppress their feelings on the scheme. There was nothing random about this, and a look over at the congregation of officers confirmed that he wasn't the only one who believed that. Captain Pike looked torn between amusement and annoyance, and Admiral Archer leaned in and spoke into the Captain's ear with a look that announced that he was utterly entertained by the whole affair. The crowd was already buzzing, and Jim groaned almost imperceptibly as he walked onto the dance floor to join the older man. The rumors had been persistent, despite Jim proving that he was there on his own merit soundly over the last year. Instead, they had actually gotten harsher, the whispers transforming from Jim having bent over for the Captain for admission to an on-going affair where the Captain was clearly adjusting scores in exchange for service on his knees; the meaner versions pointing out that Jim's mouth was probably the only reason why Pike put up with him, as there was no way that the Captain would hit that otherwise. It was completely baseless, disgusting, and it was also one of the only things that seemed to truly bother Jim; not for his own sake, but for the Captain's. All Jim had told him to explain their obvious camaraderie was that the two had known each other before Starfleet, and that Pike had been a friend of his parents. Jim's advisor was Admiral Archer, not Captain Pike, so there was very little opportunity for the types of dalliances that usually drove these sorts of rumors. Everyone who paid attention to the campus gossip would be watching them like a hawk.
The last of the pairs were read off, and everyone turned to their partners and gave slight bows. Len watched his friend and the Captain; Jim gave a bemused smile to the older man, who appeared to return the sentiment with a tiny shrug as the music began to play. The two formed up, the Captain's hand at Jim's waist, Jim's hand on Pike's shoulder. As they started to move, one thing became crystal clear to Len. Jim wasn't joking about having practiced. He wasn't perfect, but his mistakes were slight, minor footing errors as the two men worked their way around their portion of the dance floor. He could see that the two were talking to each other occasionally, but their constant movement and close proximity made their words impossible to decipher. As the music sped up, and they began to do the spins and twirls that often screwed people up, leaving elbows in stomachs and that sort of thing, Len realized that these two were incredibly comfortable with each other. There was no fear or tension, like two people in a forbidden affair might act in a forced situation, nor was there any great passion. They were relaxed and confident, and were most definitely one of the better dancing pairs on the floor. He got a very specific vibe from them, but it wasn't anything he would attribute to lovers. As Len and the rest of the crowd watched the dance wind to an end, he figured it out. It wasn't like watching a couple in love, it was like watching a parent and child dance at a wedding; affection and familiarity without any romantic emotions getting in the way. The two men bowed and said a few more words to each other before parting, and Len found himself coming to two conclusions. Jim and Captain Pike were most certainly not having an affair on the side. However, they were most certainly better acquainted than Jim had let on. Len could hear the gossipmongers chattering around him, and he sighed. These damn kids didn't know how to read body language. Jim walked back to his side, a strange look on his face, and Len raised an eyebrow, causing the younger man to give him a second glance.
"Ooo, what's the eyebrow for?" Len snorted and shook his head.
"Nothing. You were actually pretty damn good out there." Jim preened and chuckled, and this time Len did roll his eyes.
"I told you I practiced, Bones." Jim looked towards the officers; Captain Pike was facing away from them, but Admiral Archer inclined his head and gave them a smile. Jim returned the smile, before turning back to Len. "Got any plans for tomorrow?" Len shook his head no, and Jim grinned. "Awesome. I'll make us lunch. I'll pick you up at ten."
It didn't even hit Len until he was in the shower after the ball that he had been invited over to Jim's place. He had never been to Jim's place, didn't even know where it was. As far as it appeared, Jim popped out of the ground right outside the Academy wholecloth every morning. But Jim had a lot of secrets, it had just been one more to add to the pile of things Len didn't pry into.
The next morning, Jim blew in like a tornado, and before Len could get a word out edgewise, they were in a taxi heading away from campus, with Len quickly noticing that they were passing the area of tired residences that the off-campus crowd usually inhabited.
"Er, Jim, where are we going?" The smile Jim flashed was completely guileless, and Len decided to just shut up and enjoy the ride. The houses transformed from cheap rent fixeruppers to the moderately well-to-do gated neighborhood known as the Ghost Town, due to its mostly Starfleet residents leaving their homes empty during deployments. Len had been here once, during a party thrown by Admiral Gaynor for the Medical staff, but why the hell would Jim live here? The taxi pulled up to a tall, narrow house, and Jim paid for the fare without a word being said from the driver. As the taxi drove away, Jim hopped up the stairs like a goddamned rabbit.
"Well, come on!" Jim placed his hand against the identification pad, and the door unlocked. Len followed the younger man into the house, waiting for the other shoe to drop. "Hey Dad, I'm back!" Jim paused, just enough time for Len's eyes to widen in disbelief. "-and yes, I brought Bones with me." Len followed Jim's gaze, towards what appeared to be the entrance to the kitchen.
"Only took you a year to bring him over, Jim." Len turned his shocked eyes on none other than Captain Pike, who walked out of the kitchen dressed in a tight-fitting t-shirt and worn jeans, his hair falling in loose curls onto his forehead, with a dishrag thrown over his left forearm. He had never seen the man out of uniform before, and the effect was jarring. The Captain gave him an accomodating look as Jim slipped around them and into the kitchen. "Welcome to our humble abode, Doctor McCoy." Len remembered his manners enough to stutter out a reply.
"Captain! Jim didn't tell me about a damn thing, I wasn't expecting to see you." Len thought with a mental wince that that may have just been the dumbest thing he had ever said; Pike's expression split into heartfelt laughter, the lines around his eyes deepening with the motion, and Len decided that he was just completely out of his element. He glared past the captain in the direction of Jim, who was clanking around in the kitchen. "Friend of the family, huh?" He growled, and the captain chuckled again.
"Chris, Doctor; at least in my own home. My devious coward of a son-" A shouted "hey!" was heard from the kitchen, and Pike- no, Chris rolled his eyes. "-realized, as did I, that you were definitely suspicious after the whole dance racket last night. So I suggested he just man up and bring you over." Len blinked, and Chris patted him on the shoulder before turning and walking back into the kitchen. "You better not be eating my lunch, you brat!"
"You made a ton of it, old man, stop being so stingy!" Jim said, around what sounded like a mouthful of whatever was on the stove; Len looked into the kitchen to see what was going on, just in time to see Chris snap Jim in the head with the dishrag, causing Jim to drop the spoon he was holding back into the pot and grab the back of his head with a snarl.
"If you are going to eat it, finish cooking it for me. I'm going to have a chat with the doctor." Jim scowled but did not resist, and Chris dumped the dishrag on the counter by the younger man before exiting. Len followed Chris to another room, where he motioned for Len to sit down in a sofa while he dropped into a plush recliner. "Sorry about this, Doctor."
"Leonard. Or Len. Either is fine." Chris nodded.
"Fair enough." Chris crossed his legs and gave Len a serious look. "Well, go ahead and ask, Leonard." Len just blinked.
"Dad?" Len muttered, and Chris chuckled.
"It's not common knowledge, as you have just found out, but I've had custody of that scoundrel since he was eleven." Len looked at the man, and it suddenly all made sense. Their obvious affection, their frequent chats around campus (the same ones that had really spurred the rumors,) Jim's anger towards the people perpetuating the talk that effected the captain; it all made sense. People were just drawing the worst conclusions. "As I think was pretty plain last night, he was learning his ballroom dancing from me and John." Len nodded, but his brain caught the last word.
"John?" Len said, and he heard the front door open. Chris lifted a hand and pointed.
"John." Swiveling his head around, Len watched as an equally-casually dressed Admiral Archer walked in, giving him a kind smile before flopping into the chair next to Chris's.
"Admiral." Archer snorted, and waved a hand.
"Just John, Doc. No need to stand on ceremony when we are all in jeans and thrashed t-shirts." John quirked a naughty smile. "So, now you know that Chris isn't bending Jimmy over a table in exchange for good grades, yeah- ow! Motherfucker, Chrissy!" Len was pretty sure he looked like a moron, with his mouth hanging open as the normally unflappable Captain hauled off and smacked the famous tough-as-nails Admiral across the back of his head, leading to an interesting string of profanity and a...very amusing nickname. Chris glanced over at Len and rolled his eyes.
"Don't even think about it, Leonard." Len shook his head, and the older man nodded. "Smart man." Len felt a chuckle slip past his lips, and both Chris and John raised their eyebrows.
"I think I know where Jim gets some of his quirks from," He said as the chuckles moved into full-stage laughter; he was joined by both men moments later.
"He's got a point there, Chrissy."
"I think it's just you, old man." Len watched as the two of them began to argue back and forth, and he was reminded of the other rumor that occasionally popped up involving Captain Pike, before being dismissed in lieu of more scandalous stories involving Jim. The two men didn't even look up when Jim entered the room and sat down next to him on the sofa. Len leaned in towards Jim's head.
"Are they always this-" Jim grinned.
"-married? Yep, although they'll both deny it." Len looked at the two dubiously.
"I know many a person who would call what they're doing foreplay." That got a giggle out of Jim, and he shook his head.
"The two have been sailing the great river denial for well over a decade. It's reaching epic proportions at this rate." Jim affected a beatific expression as both subjects of their talking seemed to realize that they weren't alone, turning in unison to glare at the two on the sofa. Len barely suppressed a shiver.
"Is lunch ready, Jim?"
This was going to be an interesting next few years.
Takes place during their 1st military ball, in #5. :)