Chapter 1: From Me to You
Chapter 1: From Me to You
"Dammit, John!" Dr. McCoy slammed his clipboard down against the metal countertop in his examination room. His patient, John Kennex, jumped slightly at the loud, unexpected noise but recovered quickly.
"Look pal," Kennex started to say but Leonard McCoy wasn't the kind of doctor that took lectures from his patients. He doled them out. And no one ever needed a lecture as much as the man creasing the paper cover of his examination table with his smug, unruly, intractable ass.
"No, you look," Dr. McCoy poked a finger in the middle of John's chest. John looked down at the infringing hand murderously. "You have been a no-show for every appointment I've set up for you in the past fourteen months. Frankly, seeing you here is a shock."
John wasn't about to admit that the only reason he was here was that he'd been practically dragged here by his android partner and husband. "I haven't needed anything," John responded lamely.
The doctor looked ready to blow a gasket. He'd been John's attending physician since before his accident. All through his coma, Dr. Leonard McCoy saw to John's health and wellness, and now he hadn't seen the man in over year and he comes waltzing back through the doors for his abandoned, standing monthly. "Bullshit," McCoy muttered, waving his hand dismissively through the air in front of John, "How has physical therapy been going?"
John shot his eyes up then back down, "Good, great even. I think I can stop now, actually."
The doctor looked like he'd swallowed a lemon wedge. He turned his back on John and took a few deep breaths. When he spun back around, his voice held a thicker Georgian accent than normal. "You liar. You haven' been back since the secon' day. It's all in yer file!"
"It was just a workout!" John argued back, but quietly. He wished this guy would chill the fuck out and keep his voice down. He didn't need Dorian privy to any of this. "I went, saw what they had me do, bought the equipment and did it at home. And look, I'm fine!" He held his arms out as if to display himself.
"A physical therapist is not a personal trainer, John," the doctor looked so exasperated and, frankly, pissed off.
John was kicking himself for letting Dorian see the appointment notice in his email. Nosey benedict android. John had no smart reply so he just squirmed on the table. He didn't think this doctor had any right caring this much about what he did and didn't do. It was his damn life.
McCoy leaned one hand on the table and gave the man finally back under his care an annoyed look, one eyebrow arched up across his forehead like it was trying to escape. "If you had continued with your therapy, you'd have recovered much faster and you wouldn't walk so stiffly on your right side."
"I don't walk stiffly," John countered.
The doctor's eyebrow climbed ever, impossibly higher. He tapped the white wall in front of them and it dissolved into a large light screen. With deft fingers, the doctor scrolled through files, accessing the security cameras. He scrubbed through the hall video and stopped it, expanding the screen so John could watch himself walking in next to Dorian.
John's right side was pronouncedly stiffer than his left. But the doctor lost his focus when he saw Dorian. "Is that one of the older model police androids?" he asked.
"Yeah," John said, gnawing on his bottom lip. Desperately searching his mind for a good reason to escape this room early.
"Isn't this your time off?" McCoy asked, still studying the tape.
"Yeah," John said, furrowing his brow, "look doc, can we speed this up-"
McCoy held up a hand in front of John's face to shut him up. "You haven't been in this room in over a year and you want to speed this up?" he captured his patient in a stale gaze.
John folded his arms and looked away.
McCoy stared at him coolly long enough to see him squirm again then went on with his examination. When he asked John to remove his leg, the detective just sat there a moment until Leonard clapped his hands and said, "Stop wasting my time, John."
John slid off the table and unlaced his boots and heeled out of them, then he loosened his studded belt and pushed his pants down off his legs. He stood there in his black boxer briefs and sighed.
"Back up on the table," McCoy ordered.
John was never ever fucking coming back here. Dorian was going to have to carry him in physically to get him back in this room and even then he wasn't going to comply. Fuck this doctor. Fuck his smug face. Fuck his eyebrows. Fuck his moral superiority. Fuck his stupid accent. While his mind reeled with expletives, John obeyed the doctor and sat back on the bench.
McCoy inspected his leg carefully, looking at the connection. "Take it off."
"I assume you meant to say please," John grumbled as he removed his synthetic part.
"Why'd you assume that?" McCoy muttered, sinking to look at the connection pad at the end of John's thigh. "Been feeling a little less responsive lately?" the doctor quirked his eyes up at John who looked down at him a moment before nodding softly.
"The monthly appointments are designed to keep everything up and running with your connectors. I'm going to have to get in and replace this pad. It's been neglected too long."
"You mean like a surgery?" John asked, trying to keep the stress out of his voice.
"You'll have to go under but it's simple, outpatient, yes."
"This pad is fine," John said, reaching for his leg and snapping it back into play. He slid off the table and stomped back into his pants.
"You leave that pad as is and it'll quit on you, leave you stranded. Two months, tops."
"Well I guess that's what happens to me then," John said, sitting down to lace his boots with shaking hands.
When he sat up, the doctor put his hands over John's and held them steady. "John," he said gently, "You're still apprehensive about hospitals. I told you the last time I saw you, I have a psychologist that can help you with that. Dr. Spock is really good, logical. He won't make you get all emotional."
"Pass," John said, wrenching his hands back. "Anger management was bad enough. I don't need my fucking head shrunk, too."
McCoy leaned against the counter again, crossing his legs at the ankle comfortably. "Are you alone, John? Or do you have someone in your life now?"
None of this seemed relevant, but arguing wasn't getting him anywhere with this guy. "I'm married," John said, his eyes flashing up at the wall where the screen was paused on Dorian and him. McCoy looked at the still image too and a smile ran up his face.
"Is there anything you wouldn't do for your spouse?" McCoy asked.
This was pure manipulation. John ran a hand down his thigh, his fingers pressing at the ridge that marked the end of his body and the start of his synthetic leg.
"I'm married, too," McCoy added, jostling John along with continued conversation, "And there isn't anything I wouldn't do for my husband."
John pressed his lips together and looked up at the doctor, his eyes looked glassy with emotion.
McCoy sighed and put the kid gloves away again. "I'm putting you on the schedule for next Tuesday. Listen John, if you don't show up for this surgery on time, with an empty stomach, ready to make it happen, I will personally find you, knock you out with a hypospray, and drag your ass into my OR."
John pulled himself together enough to roll his eyes, "Are we done?"
"I need to get your labs, then we're done," McCoy slapped his hand on the exam table again.
John sat on the table and dragged one sleeve up his arm. The doctor wiped alcohol on his arm and pinched the hypo into his vein, drawing six vials of blood.
"Doesn't a nurse usually do this part?" John asked, wincing when the needle jiggled slightly in his arm as the doctor pushed the final tube into the hypo.
"Yeah," McCoy grumbled, "But I like my nurses. They don't need to deal with the likes of you."
When he was done, McCoy stuck a cotton ball on John's arm and held it tight against the injection site. Then he placed a bandage over the cotton and tapped John on the shoulder. "Up."
John pulled his coat on and followed the doctor out of the room. Dorian was sitting right outside the door and from the look on his face, John could tell he had heard everything. Stupid androids and their supersonic hearing.
"See you Tuesday, right?" McCoy asked, popping John's chart under his armpit, "8 AM, no food or drink for twelve hours, right?"
"He'll be there, doctor," Dorian said, putting a hand on John's shoulder.
McCoy smiled at Dorian and held out a hand, "Leonard McCoy," he said, "just Len is fine."
"Dorian Kennex," the android replied amicably, "I'm sorry John hasn't been coming to his appointments. He'll be here from now on."
The doctor ran his eyes between John and Dorian and smiled. He seemed genuinely happy. John suppressed a groan.
"That's music to my southern soul," McCoy said, clapping Dorian on the shoulder. The doctor walked off, his perfectly pressed white scrubs hugging his form and making him look clean and sterile.
"I like him," Dorian said.
"You fucking would," John muttered and took off down the hall. Dorian walked with him.
"You'll need to take the week off to recover," Dorian said, "I've already informed the captain."
John glowered at him, feeling picked on and annoyed. His stomach was upset just thinking about going under anesthesia again.
As they walked toward the exit of the hospital, a blond man making his way in stopped in his tracks and dropped the bag he was carrying. A salad in a plastic clamshell container rolled out across the floor, spilling lettuce and sending cherry tomatoes rolling and croutons skittering through the clean halls. "John?" he asked in happy surprise.
Before John could react, the attractive younger man had his arms tossed around his neck, squeezing John so tight. The detective put his hands up in shock, splaying his fingers in the air.
The man hugged him, squeezing him snug and long, his chin nuzzled against the back of John's neck. When he pulled back, his bright blue eyes were pooled with happy tears. He covered his nose and mouth with both hands a second while admiring John. "I can't believe it, John, you look so fucking good! Up and about. Moving around. God!"
John was so confused. A homeless spark of recognition ran through his mind as he heard the man's softly graveled voice. It was reminiscent of the dizzying, intoxicating first few minutes of the headrush caused by taking a Membliss pill.
Dorian watched with wide, curious eyes, his blue lights running as he identified the young man with his facial recognition software.
"Oh, gosh, I'm so sorry," the stranger said, reading John's face and chuckling. He looked away to smear a his fingers under his eyes, still beaming, "You don't even really know me and I know you so well." The excitement in the blond man's voice was palpable.
John was even more confused. "How do you know me?" He was desperate to connect the voice to his sunken memories.
"Honey, you were in a coma and," he paused, looking at the hospital walls with a frown. "Look I dropped my salad and that's perfectly okay because I'm sick of eating salad. Do you guys have time to grab a burger so we can chat?"
John didn't like the sound of that. "We'd love to!" Dorian chimed. Of fucking course.
"I'm taking what's left to Len and I'll meet you by the front entrance in five minutes, okay?" the kid scooped up the bag he dropped and checked on the salad inside. "Promise you'll be there waiting, John."
Dorian stuck a hand out and introduced himself. "We'll be there." Dorian promised.
"Great!" the man said and took off down the hall, he turned on his heels after a few steps and called, "and I'm Jim; Jim Kirk-McCoy!" He knocked into a nurse and had to apologize before speeding off down the hall.
John and Dorian walk to the entrance. "Let's get the fuck out of here," John said uncomfortably.
"No, I promised!" Dorian insisted, "He seems really nice."
"He's married to my asshole doctor."
"Your doctor is amazing. Everyone should be so lucky to have a doctor who insists on their wellbeing," Dorian practically scolded.
John felt increasingly agitated. Finally, Jim returned and looped his arms through John's and Dorian's. "I know the best burger joint and I never get to go because I'm married to Captain Heart Health. What'da'ya'say gentlemen?"
John unthreaded his arm from Jim's and said, "That's fine."
They didn't have to walk far and they were at the Burger Bar. Jim procured a quiet booth in the back and they slid around the C-shaped bench.
When the waitress came over, Jim ordered a pitcher of beer for the table and said "We'll take three of the house specials."
Dorian said, "Make that two. I don't eat." He flashed his lights.
Jim stared a moment then nodded as the waitress took off.
Flabbergasted, John said, "Did you just order for me?"
"You'll thank me," Jim winked.
Dorian cut in, not wanting John to open his big mouth and keep picking a fight over the ordering process, "So you were going to tell us how you know John."
Jim's eyes sparkled, "You know I said Dr. McCoy is my husband, right?"
John grunted in response.
"Yeah well, he's none too happy with you, either," Jim said, "I'd be afraid if I was you." The waitress came with a pitcher of beer and Jim poured John a glass and himself. He looked at Dorian with pity and the DRN waved him off because it was nothing.
John sipped his beer and felt himself relax. Listening to Jim speak had a strange soothing effect on John's overwrought mood. "I'm not afraid of him," he said, and smiled. Dorian relaxed seeing John's disposition lighten.
Jim said, "Anyways, Len and I were upset because no one was coming to see his patient who was in a coma." Jim's voice trailed off a little as a slightly hurt expression passed John's face. Dorian thought his synthetic soul might shatter listening to that and observing John's reaction.
Jim reached over and gave John's hand a pat. "I'm sorry. But that's how it all began."
John pulled his hand back slowly, "Yeah, I'll bet Len was upset, sure…"
"Well it was my idea," Jim admitted, "But Len approved! I hated you in that room with nothing but your own beeping machines to keep you company. So Len suggested we eat our lunch with you on days that he was working. I was coming in with lunch every day anyhow."
John listened while looking at his beer. Dorian was locked on Jim with eyes that betrayed his deep gratitude.
"I liked to visit you, John," Jim said, "I would stay and chat with you, tell you about my day, complain about Len when he wasn't in the room," the musical laughter in Jim's chest sounded so familiar to John. "We saw each other nearly every day for a year and a half, and then one morning, I came in for lunch and you were just... gone."
John was touched and unsure of what to say.
Jim didn't give him a chance anyhow, "I used to practice my singing for you, I'm a singer, kinda." Jim set his beer down and straightened his spine in his seat. He placed a hand on his chest and opened his mouth and sang a few lines from a Beatles song:
If there's anything that you want
If there's anything I can do
Just call on me and I'll send it along
With love from me to you
John felt his throat thicken with emotion and he struggled to swallow it before it could reach his eyes. Too late, he felt them prickle and his eyelids juggled the unshed tears. He could remember that voice and that song like it was a dream, a long forgotten dream that penetrated his mind in his darkest hour. Jim's voice was honeyed and modulated, his interpretation of the song was sweeter and slower than the original. Goosebumps rose across John's arms.
"You sang to me," he said, lifting his beer up and taking a swallow, pulling himself back under control. "I think I remember that, Jim."
"Now don't scare me, John," Jim warned, with a laugh, "Don't go remembering everything I told you. I must admit, I was a little chatty when it came to talking to my friend John."
John was searching for the right words. Thank you didn't seem enough. He was about to crack the words out of his throat anyhow when the burgers came.
They looked amazing. Under the table, Dorian gave John's hand a squeeze and John squeezed back, letting his husband know he was okay. They locked eyes a brief moment.
Jim stuffed four french fries at once in his mouth and gave them an enthusiastic thumb's up while he chomped away.
John hesitated, lifted his burger to his mouth and took a bite. It was the best burger he could ever remember having in his whole damn life.
"Didn't I tell you?" Jim asked, as John marveled at the burger in his hands while he chewed. "Good stuff."
Dorian put an arm around John's shoulders and looked at Jim, "I can't thank you enough for taking care of him when I couldn't."
Jim waved him off, "Oh hell, I didn't take care of him. That was Len. I just talked his poor ear off while he was sleeping. If he starts to remember our conversations, he'll start sending me psychotherapy bills."
Once John recovered from the shock of his delicious food he said, "Really Jim, thank you."
The blond man had a twinkle in his eyes as he picked up his own burger. "What are friends for?"
John stuffed another bite of burger in his face.
While You were Sleeping
Chapter 2: To Make You Well
"John, it's 8 PM," Dorian said, as John peered into the refrigerator.
"Thanks for the update, Big Ben," John moved the milk to the side to see what was behind it, clucking his tongue at a whole lot of nothing.
"You are fasting as of four minutes ago, you need to have no food or drink for 12 hours before your surgery tomorrow," Dorian informed.
"That's more of a guideline, a suggestion, than a rule," John retorted, finding a half-eaten chocolate bar behind the jelly. Score!
Dorian snatched the candy from his fingers and shut the fridge door. Wordlessly he pointed John out of the kitchen. When John folded his arms and didn't budge, Dorian said, "I don't want to imagine what Dr. McCoy would say if you showed up full of chocolate the morning of your operation. Besides, I promised to get you there."
"Don't make promises you can't keep," John taunted, trying to swipe the chocolate bar. On occasion, he enjoyed driving his android husband just left of insane.
Dorian figured it was a good way to keep his mind off the surgery, but he wasn't in the mood to fight John on the basics. He tossed the bar over the man's head where it landed perfectly in the trash.
John looked at the bin with mournful eyes, "You didn't have to waste it." He plucked the candy bar out with two fingers, inspecting it, covered in spaghetti sauce.
"Gross, John," Dorian said, taking it from him and plopping it back in the trash. He took his human husband by the shoulders and pulled him into a hug. He knew John was scared to go back under anesthesia. Afraid he'd go under and wake up two years later again.
John cinched his arms around Dorian tight and laid his head to rest on his shoulder, slackening against him. "I hate this," he muttered.
"I know," Dorian said, his lips brushing John's jaw. "But it is important to keep you up and running. Let's put on our pajamas and watch a movie."
John nodded and pulled himself upright and away from Dorian's chestplate. That sounded like a nice distraction, "What movie?" he asked.
Dorian walked behind him down the hall to the bedroom so they could change, "Your choice, John. But please not Blade Runner again."
John snapped his fingers in feigned disappointment and wiggled purposefully out of his pants. Dorian decided then and there that no matter what movie they chose, it was going to have to wait.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
Jim and Len were in their rather large, beautiful kitchen cleaning the dinner dishes. Len was washing and Jim was drying and putting things in their perspective places.
"So, John's surgery tomorrow," Jim began cautiously. It had been a point of contention for them in the past few days.
"It's not right for you to be there, Jim," Len said, "We talked about this. He doesn't know you and you don't really know him, either."
"I will have you know, we made fast friends over lunch last week," Jim replied indignantly.
Len sighed, "Did John tell you what time his surgery was going to be? And where? And what it was for?"
"No, you did," Jim said putting the pan under the counter and tossing the dishcloth over the lip of the sink.
"Then it is a HIPAA violation, kid," the doctor said, "I will call you after and let you know he's alright."
"Wouldn't that also be a HIPAA violation?" Jim was deeply dissatisfied. "I know they would be happy to see me. '
"No you don't," Len hit the lights. He was beat from the Monday rush. All the medical issues over the weekend in the ER led to a buildup of surgeries and visits. By far, it was his least favorite day of the week.
Jim followed him out of the kitchen and to the couch. Leonard sat down and flipped on the Light screen television. Jim folded his arms a moment and considered turning this into a real fight but Len looked so damn exhausted. He decided on a simpler course of action, grabbed a blanket from the cubby, and tucked himself up under his husband's arm on the couch for some cuddle time.
Grateful for the break, Len planted a kiss on the top of Jim's blond head. fifteen minutes into the news, Len was sleeping soundly, remote in one hand, his other arm wound around Jim.
Jim took the remote and killed the TV screen. Then he shook Len awake gently and prodded him up to the bedroom for a proper night's sleep in a bed. Afterall, Leonard was working on Jim's friend in the morning and needed to be on the top of his game.
. . . . . . . .
John wasn't allowed to have coffee.
It was total. fucking. bullshit. The whole procedure was ridiculous. If that butcher didn't put him back together perfectly, John was going to sue his ass. He was going to knock his lights out. He was going have his license to practice medicine revoked. He was going to raise hell, bring a world of pain down, knock his block off, and make a scene.
Dorian was so tired of John's ranting on the way to the hospital. He knew it was just the detective's nerves getting to him. He placed a calming hand on John's knee and said, "It's really okay sweetie, you're going to be fine."
"Don't sweetie me," John huffed, but placed his hand atop Dorian's and squeezed. Dorian flipped his palm over and laced John's fingers. It was six in the morning and still dark out as they made their way into the parking garage.
John yawned and followed Dorian into the sterile halls that were once his home for over two years. The smells, the sounds, the soft shoed professionals, it all made his stomach churn.
He signed all the necessary forms, giving Dorian permission to hear anything about his medical condition and he even took Dorian with him into the initial exam room. The nurse took his vitals and asked him a few personal, unrelated questions as she worked, getting him comfortable. Dorian smiled at her with grateful eyes, seeing John relax a little talking about his favorite soccer team. She left so John could strip and get himself into the gown.
Dorian watched him undo his clothing, holding his hand out for each discarded garment as they came off, so he could fold them up and keep them all with him.
John put the gown on and his breath shook out of him uncomfortably. He hated this part the most.
When he got himself up on the gurney, Dorian came over and pulled him into a big, tight hug. He kissed his ear and his neck and his mouth and then said, "You are going to be fine. It won't take very long, and when we get home I will get you any takeout you want in the whole damn city."
"Can we eat it while watching Blade Runner?" John asked, with a devious smile.
"If we must," Dorian conceded, smiling too. He was glad John was joking a little bit now. Dorian hated that movie.
It was still very early and the surgery wouldn't be for another hour. Still, Leonard McCoy stepped into the room with a smile on his face. Dorian liked that he looked fresh and well-rested.
"Hello, Dorian," McCoy said, shaking the DRNs hand firmly. He turned to his patient, "How are you this morning, John?"
"So full," John said, grabbing his stomach, "Those all you can eat pancake joints oughta be illegal," he moaned.
Leonard's sunny disposition fell off his face and he started to scowl. Dorian jumped in and said, "He's kidding, doc. He hasn't had a bite to eat since seven last night."
"Spoilsport," John said and was surprised when the doctor smacked him in the arm rather hard.
Len blushed, forgetting his own advice to Jim last night. They don't know each other that well, it just felt that way.
"Empty stomach?" Len asked Dorian, pointing a thumb in John's direction.
"Yes, doctor," Dorian confirmed.
Len put his hand on John's shoulder and gave him a squeeze, "You ready?"
"Does it matter?" John asked, but smiled.
"Nope," McCoy said.
John lay back in the bed and Dorian came over and grasped his hand and gave him a kiss. "I'll be here when you wake," he promised.
"We're going to take good care of him," Len said, directing Dorian to the waiting room. "Should only be a few hours."
. . . . . . . . . .
Dorian settled into a chair in the waiting room of the hospital surgical center. He wasn't really worried about John, he knew his husband was in good hands with Dr. McCoy and the procedure was far from life-threatening. The hardest part-waiting for it to happen-was over.
In the surgical waiting room, Dorian sat with his spine ram rod straight, his arms gently folded in his lap.
A man across the room was holding up book in front of his face, wearing a baseball cap. When he lowered the book, he was wearing sunglasses. Dorian glanced away, trying not to stare. The man hopped up and looked down the hall in both directions then smiled brilliantly and came and sat by Dorian.
He pulled off his cap and glasses and grinned, "Hey, Dorian!"
"Jim!" Dorian said with happy surprise.
Jim gave him a big hug and released him. "Did you like my disguise?"
Dorian smiled while Jim wiggled the cap back onto his head for a second.
"It worked," Dorian conceded kindly.
Jim set the book, hat, and sunglasses in the empty chair next to him and took hold of Dorian's arm. "I know you are nervous, so I thought I would spend the morning waiting with you. Is that okay?"
"I really appreciate that," Dorian said genuinely. He marveled at the continued kindness of this man.
"Good, I can stay then," Jim said, digging through the bag he was carrying. He pulled out a scrapbook and set it in Dorian's lap.
"What's this?" Dorian asked, surprised.
"I wanted to bring you something," Jim said, he dug in the bag some more and pulled out a teddy bear. It was a normal looking bear but it had a little blue plastic leg. he gave it a squeeze, "I bought this for John. They make them for kids who are adjusting to having synthetic parts. I know he will probably hate it but when I saw it in the gift shop I had to have it."
Dorian reached out and squeezed the bear with his hand and smiled, "He'll pretend to hate it, but don't worry, I'm sure it will have a place of honor on our bed."
Jim stuffed the bear away and Dorian looked at the book on his lap and opened the first page. The image was shocking. There in the middle of the page was John. He was on a hospital bed, his face battered and torn, his arms bandaged, and his missing leg a wrapped and swollen stump. He had a tube in his mouth and several wires and tubes running to his body. Dorian looked up at Jim with wet eyes.
"I know," Jim said softly, putting his warm hand on top of Dorian's. "I am not trying to upset you. I kept this book for John because I read online that families should document everything for coma victims. Pictures, no matter how gruesome, help them connect the pieces of their mind and cope with the loss of time." His blue eyes glistened with tears because Jim was a sympathetic crier. He could barely stand to watch someone on television cry let alone a new friend. Also, though he wouldn't admit it, looking at this book always made him a little sentimental.
Jim reached down and turned the page. A newspaper article, printed out, about the raid on Insydicate was pasted on the bright paper. "I grabbed everything I could," Jim explained, using his thumb knuckle to drain the tears in his eyes. He pointed to a dried flower that had been flattened and laminated between clear plastic sheets. "That is from the bouquet the Delta precinct sent."
Dorian felt overwhelmed looking at all of this. "Why didn't you give this to John when he woke?" he asked, emotion still wobbling his voice.
"God, I wanted to," Jim said, sounding just a little angry, "Len said I shouldn't bother him after he came to and that it would be an invasion of privacy."
"I wish he hadn't," Dorian said, "I think John would have benefited from having a friend."
Jim looked grief-stricken, "I know," he crowed, "It sounds stupid but, I wondered if Len was right. I'd spent all that time with John, but once he woke up, I was afraid he wouldn't like me. I let Len convince me that staying away was for the best."
Dorian smiled at Jim sadly. Who in the world wouldn't love being around his sweet, sunny disposition?
"It wasn't easy, staying away. I was so jealous that Len still got to see him, got to put his leg on him and take care of him and he wouldn't let me anywhere near his patient," Jim frowned. "He only told me he was sullen and angry. It made me want to see him all the more."
Looking down at the article in the book, Dorian read the words "Investigations are ongoing to assess the possible criminal involvement of Detective Jonathan R. Kennex, leader of the raid and sole survivor of the attack." The answer dawned on Dorian at that moment.
The android ascertained that Dr. Leonard McCoy had been unsure whether or not John was involved in the crime. Of course, he wouldn't want Jim to be around him if that was the case. Jim must not have figured that out. The doctor knew that every person in a coma needed someone, regardless of their circumstances. However, criminals who wake up need to make it on their own.
A pained look crossed Dorian's face but he completely understood Len's logic and felt the same way thinking about John. His association with Anna had cost him so much, Leonard wanted to save Jim from making that kind of connection.
All of that made it even more touching that Dr. McCoy still wanted John to be well taken care of in his comatose state.
"When I finally wised up and checked Len's schedule, I came in to the office and waited to see John and intercept him when he came in for his checkup. But he never came," Jim explained, "I held this book and brought it to every appointment for six months before it became clear that John wasn't ever going to show up."
Dorian turned the page of the book and clutched at his shirt over his chest plate. A picture of Jim cutting John's hair for him. John's wounds looked healed around his face and his bruises were gone. The wires and tubes were still there. John's slacked face looked lifeless around the tube in his mouth. "I cut his hair, made sure his nails were trim, brushed his pretty teeth-you know they don't do that for you? I told Len that is just terrible."
More pictures of John and his room, cards from coworkers, cards from Jim and Len in Jim's handwriting. A folded mylar balloon crinkled on one of the pages. When he saw a picture of Jim with a cupcake with a candle in it for John's birthday, Dorian had to shut the book. His eyes were wet with tears and he turned in his chair, grabbed Jim on both sides of his head and planted a kiss on his forehead.
Jim laughed, leaking with tears, too.
"Jim, I can't ever thank you enough," Dorian said, he let the young man go, picked the scrap book up, and hugged it to his chest. "Knowing you were there for him means everything to me."
Dorian sighed deep and reopened the book. They flipped through together with Jim telling Dorian the stories behind each item. Hospital bracelets, stickers, copies of chart files Jim shouldn't have even had access to were plastered in the pages of the thick book.
Before he knew it, Len was walking out of the double sliding doors with news. Jim had kept him so expertly preoccupied, the time seemed to fly past.
"Oh shit," Jim said, grabbing his hat and sunglasses and fumbling them on in an exaggerated play to hide himself from his physician husband.
Leonard gave him a look of pure murder and sat on the other side of Dorian, taking his hand. He eyeballed the scrapbook in the android's lap and took a deep, calming breath. Avoiding sending Jim another look. "Dorian, he did great," Len said, feeling Dorian squeeze his hand back, "The new pad is on, there were no complications."
"Thank goodness," Dorian puffed his breath out in relief, "When can I see him?"
"It shouldn't be too long," The doctor assured, "The nurse should come get you once he's awake and she'll give you an informational packet and instructions. You'll take good care of our boy, right?"
"I promise," Dorian smiled, patting his other hand on top of Len's before letting him go.
The kindness on Leonard's face melted away as he turned to Jim who was looking off in the other direction like a stranger on a park bench. "Come with me, Jimmy," he crooked a finger.
"I want to see John first," Jim pleaded.
Len wanted to grab him by the arm and yank him out of there but that wouldn't look too good on his part. He took a calming breath. "Come on, let them be."
Dorian took hold of Jim's arm and cradled it, "Please, Dr. McCoy, he helped me through this today. I couldn't have done it without Jim. John will want to see him."
Leonard scowled. "See you at lunch, Jim," he said with an ominous intonation before walking off to his next appointment. He stopped short and turned to Dorian, "I'll be back in to check on John in a bit, once he wakes up."
They waited in silence for the doctor to leave and then Jim burst out laughing. Dorian observed him curiously. "I'm a dead man," Jim chuckled.
Dorian looked at him wide eyed with concern.
Jim waved him off with his hand, "He's a big kitten. I'll just scratch him behind the ear and have him purring again in no time."
That reminded Dorian of John enough to make him smile.
When the nurse came to get him, Jim walked with Dorian down to the room but opted to wait outside so Dorian could go in first.
John looked groggy and his leg was bandaged at the thigh. His synthetic leg was on a nearby table, turned off and looking silvery blue.
Dorian set the scrap book down way off to the side and sidled up to the bed and took John's hand, giving it a squeeze and rubbing his thumb across the top. "Hey sweetheart," he said softly, watching John's dilated eyes catch on him. "You're all done. And you're awake. You've only been out for about two hours."
John smiled at him and sat up gently. Right now he didn't feel anything in his leg. "Did it go okay?" he asked.
Dorian leaned over and planted a kiss on his lips. He tasted like a hospital. "It went so well. Dr. McCoy took good care of you, honey." He leafed a hand through John's hair.
"When can I go home?" John asked with a creaky throat.
"Soon as the nurse says so," Dorian said, "You have a visitor, too."
John looked confused. Dorian opened the door and ushered Jim inside. Jim came in with a warm smile on his face. He halted awkwardly just short of the he'd When John was in his coma, Jim greeted him every day with a kiss to the forehead. It was strange to have those big, muddy green eyes watching him and he lost his nerve.
"John, you did great," he said, plopping the little teddy bear in the crook of John's arm.
The incapacitated man looked at the bear with his eyebrows arched in confusion. "Thanks," he said flatly.
Jim bit his lip, a rolling wave of nausea attacking his stomach. Standing in this blank room, looking at John in the hospital bed again gave him mixed emotions. He was overjoyed when he learned that John had emerged from his coma. But it was bittersweet, with Len's refusal to let him continue to see John, the last two years were spent pining for his friend. Now, seeing John back in the bed, he felt sick.
The man in the bed wasn't intubated and beeping, he was up, breathing on his own. His eyes were searching Jim, trying to figure out what to make of him. Jim was hit with the sudden realization that Leonard was right. He didn't know John, not really. He had a fantasy of John as his friend, but in reality, John was a total stranger.
"I gotta go," Jim said, giving John's hand a squeeze.
John watched him curiously. It was strange to have someone feel so connected to him without really knowing him. He didn't keep too many people close and this guy was in his hospital room giving him gifts. It made his mind reel. He suddenly felt the need to hold this kid at an arms' length. "I think that would be best," he said, his eyes shifting uncomfortably away from Jim and over to Dorian.
The words seemed to cut Jim like a knife. He doubled forward slightly and looked like he might puke. He numbly held out his hands to take back the bear.
John twisted gently, holding the teddy bear tightly. "No, I want it," he said, squeezing the stuffed animal possessively.
The blond man nodded, his arms falling back at his sides. He still looked like his heart had been ripped out of his chest.
Dorian sensed his growing need to escape and gave Jim a hug and brushed a kiss onto his cheek. "Thank you, Jim, for sitting with me, and for, everything."
Jim nodded, on the verge of tears and desperate to leave the room. Dorian saw Jim's clear plastic cell phone coiled in his hot palm. He placed a finger on the phone, blue lights traveling along the circuits there.
"I gave you my number, give me a call anytime you want, kiddo," he said.
Jim nodded and fled.
John looked at the bear with a grumpy face, pinching at the plastic leg. "Can I leave yet?" he complained, and Dorian settled in for what was certain to be a long wait.
"Dr McCoy will want to see you first."
John adjusted himself in the bed, still feeling a little murky from the anesthesia. Dorian picked up the bear and looked at it with a sigh. He knew John didn't mean to hurt Jim's feelings. John didn't let people get very close to him, not without a struggle. Dorian knew that struggle all too well.
When Dr. McCoy came in a few minutes later, Dorian saw his eyes sweep the room for Jim.
"He left," Dorian said, shifting a little, "I think he may have been upset."
Len nodded, his lips pursing a little, "How are you feeling, John?"
"Fine," John said, "I think I may be the reason Jim is upset, though."
McCoy nodded again, tightly, pulling back the covers to inspect John's bandage. No bleeding. Everything seemed to be in order physically. it was a matter of healing now. Like any tech, upgrades were necessary and the newest connection pad would be a big improvement for John. "You have a few days of healing ahead of you. I think I'll want to see you back before you put the the leg back on. We'll make an appointment a week out."
"He'll be there," Dorian spoke on John's behalf.
"About Jim," Len said, pausing to choose his words carefully, "He's been through a lot. Being there for you, it meant a lot to him. He comes on a little strong, but cut him a few breaks, okay?"
John didn't answer, but he did listen. McCoy put a hand on his shoulder and nodded then added, "See you in a week." He picked up John's synthetic leg, "I'll keep this until then, so you won't be tempted."
John's protests fell on deaf ears as the doctor left the room.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Jim walked fast down the halls, managing to smile at the nurses who all knew him and loved him. They all knew that Jim was the reason behind the cupcakes on nurses day, the beautifully wrapped Christmas gifts, and the occasional smile on the doctor's face.
He reached Len's office and burst through the door, closing it behind him and leaning into it. His husband wasn't there so he curled into the chair and tucked his legs up to his chest and buried his face in his arms.
Dr. McCoy knew right where to find his husband. He entered his office and looked at the sight for sore eyes coiled behind the desk. "Jimmy," Bones said softly, carefully tucking John's synthetic leg into the cabinet.
Jim looked up with red eyes and smeared his sleeve across his face before getting up and crashing into Len.
Putting his arms around his husband, one hand clutching at the back of his head, Len asked, "What'sa matter, kid?"
"John," Jim choked out, his voice as messy as his face.
"He's going to be okay, kid," Len assured.
Jim nodded in understanding but that didn't seem to improve his mood.
"Was he mean to you?"
Jim shrugged, then shook his head, "No."
He pushed himself back off of Len and smeared at his eyes, "You were right. I don't really know him. I-," It was all he could manage through his hitching voice.
Len checked his schedule and grabbed his coat. "C'mon kid, let's go to that damned burger joint you like." He hooked Jim behind the arm, pausing before opening the door to smear the tears of Jim's face with his hands and give his soft-hearted husband a deep kiss.
Thank you for reading!
This chapter title is inspired by this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oozQ4yV__Vw
Thanks to everyone for their encouragement and enthusiasm for this little universe.
Chapter 3: Reasons to Believe
While You Were Sleeping
Chapter 3: Reasons to Believe
Dorian was ready for this week to be over. John-without-his-leg was the worst, most aggravating experience of his entire life. The hobbled man was like a moody, grounded teenager with limited mobility but a perfect throwing arm. Dorian had been hit by remotes, soup bowls, a cell-o, salad, cutlery, couch pillows, cell phones, coffee mugs (with and without coffee), and on one lovely occasion, an electric guitar. Thank goodness John's checkup was today; Dorian was just about ready to start hitting back.
He pulled the car around and his grumpy husband was waiting by the curb on his crutches. "Took you long enough," John muttered, maneuvering himself into the passenger seat.
"I told you to wait inside and I'd come get you," Dorian said, the words against his teeth, his patience dangling by a string.
John shoved his crutches clumsily into the back seat and huffed. A few minutes into the drive, he muttered, "Dr McCoy better gimme my leg back today."
Dorian held back from saying, If he doesn't, I'm putting you in adult daycare.
Instead, he forced a smile, patted his husband's arm and said, "I'm sure he will. We've taken good care of the pad site. Followed all of the directions."
John made an tetchy, almost-inhuman growling noise. He'd been forced to follow the directions by Dorian. First thing he was gonna do with his reattached leg was kick his pushy, android husband.
They pulled into the underground parking lot and Dorian attempted to convince John to let him grab a wheel chair. He was told, with no small amount of snarl, exactly where he could shove a wheelchair.
Dorian breathed deep. Thought of calming numerics sliding past a smooth display. Imagined John as a baby. Imagined John holding a baby. Calmed himself to the point where he could park the car and say, "Okay sweetie, whatever makes you happy." What a fucking pill.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Jim sat in Len's office, playing solitaire on his desk computer and looking absolutely bored. The light screen flickered a few times and he banged the base with his hand.
"Technology doesn't respond to physical violence," Len said, entering while juggling a cup of coffee and a cell-o loaded with patient digital charts. He didn't look up at Jim to see the miserable look on his face. Boredom and Jim did not go well together.
Len took a seat in the guest chair across from his own desk, flicking at the cell-o with a furrowed brow. Jim reached over and took the doctor's coffee cup and drank from it then made a face and said, "Bleck, this is cold, Len."
McCoy was too busy staring at his chart and looked up after a second and said, "Oh yeah," and waved his hand, "I don't mind much."
Jim dumped the coffee in the garbage and said, "I'll get you a fresh one."
He hopped up and left the desk chair spinning and Len chuckling. In the hall, a nurse passing by said, "Well hello, Jim, big weekend?"
"Opening night!" Jim said with a wink, "Are we gonna see you there, Mary?"
"Wouldn't miss it for the world," the nurse said with a smile most women reserved for their children.
"I'm getting Len a cup of coffee," Jim said, "Can I get you one, too?" His smile made her whole day.
"No thank you, sugar," the nurse gave his arm a squeeze, "Aren't you sweet, though!"
Jim headed for the break room and poured two cups of coffee. He added a pack of sugar to Len's and three packs to his own. Then slipped the lid off a liquid creamer and dumped it in his, stirring each cup in turn with a red plastic straw. He ran the hot straw through his lips and tossed it in the trash and walked back carefully, a coffee in each fist.
He leaned into the door to Len's office just as John Kennex came barrelling around the corner, swinging too fast on crutches and nearly taking out Mary the nurse. "Sorry," Dorian said, apologetic to the stunned woman. John continued on without so much as a second glance.
Jim felt himself flush and hurried into the office and kicked the door shut quickly. He put the coffee down in front of Len and said, "You didn't tell me John was coming in today."
"Didn't think it was any of your business," Len said, not looking up, his hand blindly finding the coffee cup. He burnt his tongue and set it back down.
"Of course not," Jim said, barely hiding the hurt in his throat that made his voice scratchy. He grabbed his coat and waited, listening for the click of the crutches to pass by the office.
"Where are you going?" Len asked, finally giving Jim his attention and setting the cell-o aside.
"Home," Jim snapped, deeming the visitors far enough away and pulling the door open.
"Jim," Len drawled, trying to sound even-tempered and accommodating, "He is my first patient. Hide out in the office and I'll come get you-"
He was cut off by his door shutting a little too loudly. "Dammit Jim," he hissed to himself, waving his furious husband off with a hand. He was just starting his day and he didn't have time for Jim's hurt feelings. Kennex was hard enough to deal with and Jim had a difficult time letting go. There was no need for all this drama. McCoy sighed, dug John's leg out of storage, and carried it with him to his examination room.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
John was in such a foolish rush that he didn't even see Jim duck into the doctor's office as they approached through the sterile halls. However, the doctor's husband didn't escape Dorian's sharp observation, nor did the look of panic on the kid's handsome face fail to register.
John was the first patient and the nurse led him right to a room to start the initial check up. Dorian tried to follow him back but John poked him with a crutch and said, "Stay in the waiting room, I don't need two people lecturing me in here."
Dorian's protests fell on deaf ears, then walking away ears, then the ears were just gone. Dorian thought for a moment about boxing those ears.
Dr. McCoy was stalking past the waiting room when he saw the DRN, "Dorian, how are you?" he asked, his tone betraying the slight annoyance he was already feeling.
"Good luck with John, Doctor," Dorian said with a similar tone, "I've made sure to follow all of your instructions but he's been in a rare mood. If you don't give him back his leg, I'm not taking him home. You can keep him."
"That bad?" McCoy asked, a smile testing out his lips.
"You make me take him home on crutches and I'll beat him with them," Dorian admitted, then winced, knowing he shouldn't make those kind of jokes with strangers. For some reason, he kept forgetting the doctor was not one of their close friends.
McCoy choked on his coffee, laughing. "Well now I almost want to send him home without his leg," he teased.
Dorian grinned and brought the conversation around, knowing he was taking up the doctor's valuable time, "Len, I saw Jim. Do you think he'd mind if I went and chatted with him?"
"He'd love that," McCoy said, gratitude in his voice, "But he stormed out of here. You might be able to catch him at the bus stop." Len couldn't help but roll his eyes at the thought of Jim riding the bus. It was his favorite thing to do when he was spiteful, use public transportation like it was his only option. If Len was Jim, and he'd wanted to make a big impression, he'd have stormed off with the keys to the Jag and left the other to find a way home. But that wasn't Jim's style, he'd rather suffer for his causes.
Dorian nodded and clapped the doctor on the shoulder in a friendly gesture and took off down the hall in hopes of catching the young man. McCoy smiled at the DRN and wished everyone, himself included, could be that genuinely kind.
Jim was slumped on the bench of the bus stop next to a man in a hospital gown who was muttering to himself. Dorian spotted the blond angel and walked up to him, offering a hand.
Jim took it and felt himself pulled up to his feet and into a hug. When they broke apart, Jim said Dorian's name in the saddest way.
"Let's go get a coffee," Dorian said, "I need a break from John."
"You don't drink coffee," Jim accused but walked out of the bus stop regardless.
Dorian shrugged and headed across the street to Starbucks with Jim. Once he had his heated sugar milk with three shots of espresso, Dorian directed them to a small table where they could sit and chat.
"How is John?" Jim asked, distantly, blowing past the top of his coffee and sucking carefully at the whipped cream, so as not to touch the scalding hot liquid beneath it.
"A pain in my ass," Dorian said, making Jim laugh and spray whipped cream across the table. Dorian laughed and smeared his face while Jim hurried for napkins.
"Sorry," Jim chuckled, cleaning off the table. "Did he like that book I made?"
"Didn't show him yet," Dorian said, watching a disappointed look muddy Jim's features. "I want him to be in the right frame of mind."
Jim nodded but said nothing, taking an adventurous, miniscule sip of the still-too-hot coffee drink.
"Don't take it personally, what John said last week," Dorian said, reaching his hand out and placing it on Jim's, patting gently. "This has been a rough time for him. I'm not giving him an excuse, I'm just saying, I think you should stick with it Jim. He could use a friend. I think maybe you could, too."
A blush crept up Jim's neck and he wished he'd ordered his drink iced. "Len didn't even tell me he was gonna be in today," he complained, suddenly aware that he had a confidant in the android.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
In the examination room, Len was inspecting the pad connection site on John's leg with a critical eye. "It is healing nicely," he said, "Does it hurt?"
"No," John said, and it wasn't even a lie. "The old one never stopped hurting, this one actually hasn't hurt for two days."
"I coulda fixed the old one if you'd've come in to see me," the doctor said, his arms across his chest as he stood up.
John's eyes rolled to the ceiling."Not this again," he begged to the sky, "spare me."
"Anyhow, I'm not worried about you half as much now that you have Dorian," the doctor said, turning and pulling his gloves off. "He seems to have taken good care of you in the past week."
"Dorian?" John asked incredulously, he poked a thumb into his own chest, "I'm responsible for my own self."
"Bullshit," McCoy said, tapping at his cell-o. He picked up the leg and said, "Let's see if the connector works and if you can walk on it without adding pain to the site. I suspect your pain last time was from attaching too early and walking on it too much."
John allowed the doctor to slide his leg on and twist-lock it into place, feeling awkward sitting there in his underwear. The leg snapped to life and started the noisy calibration process. The disabled detective swung his leg, testing the bend of his knee.
"Get down on your good leg," the doctor urged, "don't put too much pressure on too fast."
John slid off the table onto his legs equally. McCoy shook his head in frustration as John walked around the room. "Feels great, doc," he said, parading in his underpants.
It made McCoy want to give him a slap but he reminded himself, once again, that he didn't know John Kennex. He only knew him enough to know that the man needed a slap. Instead, he sputtered, "I hope you know how lucky you are, John."
"You use that line on all your patients with prosthetic limbs from bombs?" John retorted, grabbing his pants. He unhooked the clip that held his rolled pants and stepped into them.
"I'm not talking about your leg," McCoy grumbled, "I'm talking about your husband."
"You want him?" John asked, waving a hand, "You can have him."
"I'm not kidding," Len said, putting a hand on John's shoulder, "Pull your head out of your ass, John."
"Are we done?" John snapped, yanking on his coat.
"I'll see you in a month," Len said, "A month, not a year"
John walked out on his leg, ignoring the pain that was spiking with each step.
"You experience any pain, come back sooner," the doctor called after John who waves his hand. Len had been in the business of healing people for a long time, he could tell John was hurting. He told himself he would give Dorian a call tonight and talk about it, but that may be a violation. He flipped on the cell-o and navigated John's chart, smiling at the forms he found signed with John's tight, scrawly signature.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
When John exited the doctor's office, he scoped the waiting room for Dorian. He wasn't there. He patted himself down for his phone only to discover that, in his haste, he had left it at home this morning. Annoyed, grumbling, he walked on his tender leg to the nurses station only to see the woman he had barrelled into rather rudely this morning working the reception desk. She fixed him with a challenging look of utter disdain.
John chickened out and went back to the waiting room, sitting down in a huff. As he sat there, he contemplated where Dorian may have gone and it dawned on him that he wasn't even sure what Dorian's number was without his pre-programed cell phone contact list. He grumbled to himself even more when the doctor came out and saw him sitting there and smiled slightly before walking over.
"He's with Jim," Len said, "Come sit in my office, we'll wait for them to get back."
John's first instinct was to tell him to fuck off but he actually liked the doctor and he really wanted to get away from the nurse he nearly toppled because she looked like she was getting ready to come over and say something and he'd like to avoid that at all costs. So he got up and followed Len down the hall.
"Mmhm!" the nurse said as he passed, causing Len to turn his head and John to speed up.
John sat in the chair across from Len's desk and looked around the cluttered but large office with dark, quirking eyebrows.
"Coffee?" Len asked, taking a draw from the cup Jim had brought him earlier. It was cold again.
Shifting in his seat, John said, "Sure."
Len left to get the coffee and John looked around, turning a frame with a picture of Jim smiling happily on a boat. The image make John smile too, despite himself. Jim was always so happy, it was hard not to smile around the guy. It made John feel crummy for upsetting him last week.
When the doctor returned with the coffee he saw John set the picture back down. "From our vacation last year," he said, sitting at his desk.
"Jim's really...nice," John said lamely. Len nodded into his coffee mug. "I really didn't mean to hurt his feelings last week. I know what he did for me when I was in my coma was…"
"It was for him, more than for you," Len assured, "Maybe I should set him up with another vegetable." He winced at his own stupid mouth and John looked into his coffee cup and blushed.
"He really came and saw me every week?" John asked, anything to move the conversation forward.
"Almost every day," Len complained, "near the end, even on my day off he wanted to swing by the hospital."
"Why?" John blurted because it seemed logical.
Len stayed quiet a long time, thinking. Then he finally said, "I think you should ask him that."
John took a hot sip of coffee and sighed.
"Your leg is hurting a little with the synthetic attached," the doctor said, "No running until that subsides. If you slam too hard, too fast, you'll never be pain free."
John looked up at him, his brown-green eyes trying to figure out what he was doing in this man's office, essentially hanging out with him. He was saved when Jim burst in and looked surprised, Dorian was behind him.
"Jimmy," Len smiled, happy to see his husband hadn't left and he might be able to patch up the morning.
"Hi Jim," John said, setting his coffee down and standing up almost too fast, nervously.
"Hi John," Jim stuck out a hand and John took it, giving it a firm shake. He saw Dorian in the hall and nodded. Jim moved into the office and hung up his coat much to Len's relief.
"See you next month," John said quickly, quieter than he would have hoped and fled the room.
"Careful on the leg," McCoy called, "No running!" He shouted the last part so Dorian could hear it, too. John wanted to go home so badly, he tugged on Dorian's sleeve but the DRN shucked him off.
"Nice talking to you, Jim," Dorian said, "We'll be seeing you soon. And thank you doctor, I'll keep him at a snail's pace."
Jim favored him with a grateful smile and Len nodded as Dorian left. Soon as the door closed behind them, Len grabbed Jim around the waist and pulled him into his lap, grateful to Dorian for bringing him back and laughing again.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
John was quiet for the first part of the drive home. Dorian was waiting for him to explode. He had meant to be back before John was out of his appointment. Instead, the man was uncharacteristically quiet which made the android worry all the more. Finally, John unclicked his seatbelt and lifted the center console to make the front seat into a long bench. He slid over toward Dorian, who drove, and leaned into him.
Dorian took one hand off the wheel and placed his arm behind John's shoulders and gave him a squeeze, utterly shocked by the unexpected cuddle. "Sorry," John muttered into his shirt, "I've been awful this whole week, Dee."
Dorian squeezed him tighter but didn't deny it. He placed a quick kiss on the top of John's head, in the middle of his hair, his hand sliding up and down on John's shoulder through his coat.
"There's no excuse," John added.
"You've had a rough week," Dorian said, "we both have. It's okay."
John seemed to accept that and nodded, still feeling like a total jerk. He breathed in Dorian's scent, "You smell like coffee," he stated and smiled. It was a comforting smell.
"I took Jim to Starbucks," Dorian said.
"How is he?" John asked, realizing he actually wanted to know.
The android was silent as he took a turn onto the street where their apartment was located, then he said, "He was in a bad mood today, but I talked to him and learned a lot. He's had a rough life, you know?"
"Yeah?" John asked, his voice genuinely curious.
"Foster kid," Dorian said.
John winced. He knew the system well and the proclivity for abuse and corruption that seemed to breed within its walls. Most of the children who fell victim to poor foster care situations ended up in the back seat of their cruiser. "Poor Jim," John said, his hands snaking in front of Dorian's belly and holding tight.
"He bounced around from a family to family until he was old enough to be kicked out," Dorian said.
"Chewed up and spit out," John grumbled. "What a fuckin' shame." John sounded sleepy to Dorian and he rubbed his hand up into the man's thick hair.
"He found his way," Dorian said, patting his husband. They pulled into the parking garage and Dorian parked the car. When they got out of the car, John's leg was tender and Dorian let him lean on him as they walked toward home.
"You want me to carry you?" Dorian asked, smirking.
John shook his head and said, "Shut up, robot," but his voice was a chuckle. Dorian waited until they were in front of the door and scooped John up and carried him inside like a new bride, enjoying the string of expletives he was rewarded with until he could smother John's dirty mouth with his own.
Chapter 4: You Are Not Alone
Chapter 4: You Are Not Alone
"Where in the fucking hell are you dragging me, Dorian?" John demanded. He'd been told they were going on a special date night and the finicky DRN had even laid out an outfit for John to wear. A button up shirt with a colorful, lightweight sweater vest and a suit jacket with matching slacks. He picked up the striped sweater which had the audacity to contain at least four colors John never wore. "We already got married. I never have to wear shit like this again."
"Put it on," Dorian urged, not wanting to sound too pushy but ready to go there if necessary, "we're gonna be late." He was already dressed up in a perfectly snug, sharp white shirt with a crisp collar and a clunky, unnecessary watch. His slacks fit nicely and the belted waistline made him look like he belonged on the cover of GQ.
John hated being dressed up like a doll for Dorian but this wasn't the first time or the last time it was going to happen. When they got married, John didn't own anything that wasn't black. His entire closet was one black row of shirts. Now, his closet looked like Mardi Gras threw up on his wardrobe. Knowing he wasn't going to get out of this without a fight, John pushed his black sweatpants off and kicked them across the room in the general direction of the hamper and stomped into a pair of boxer briefs before slipping into the rest.
Once dressed, they headed for the car. John followed Dorian and itched at his sweater even though it was nice and soft. "You still haven't told me where we're going," John practically shouted as they entered the stairwell of the parking garage.
"It's a surprise," Dorian said for the gazillionth time.
The rinky dink theater was already packed with cars by the time Dorian rolled the cruiser up. He parked the car in a field and turned off the engine. "Where are we?" John asked, watching another car pull up filled with kids. The whole family was wearing jeans and the detective quickly deduced that they were overdressed for whatever the hell this nightmare was.
"Just smile and have fun," Dorian pleaded, turning off the car and climbing out. John sat in the car a moment and counted down from four with his eyes closed, then he got out and followed his husband and a handful of strangers to a building.
A sign made out of plywood and hand-painted with big colorful letters announced: "Shadyside Community Theater Presents Into the Woods." John pulled a full-stop when he saw it and the woman behind him crashed into him.
"Sorry, sweetie," She said politely, stepping around him.
Dorian looked back at John.
"No. Fucking. Way." John said.
"Language, young man, there are children here!" an elderly gentleman said as he passed by with his grandkids.
John looked ready to pounce but Dorian said, "Sorry kids, he's just excited."
Then he seized John's hand and yanked him inside the crowded, hot little theater. Dorian presented their tickets, not letting go of his husband who, on occasion, was a runner in a bad situation.
They were led to the very front and took the seats that had been reserved for them. John balked when he saw Leonard sitting there in a nice sweater and a pair of dark jeans. It was odd to see him out of his scrubs, looking all polished and casually sophisticated. He did a double take when John and Dorian were directed to the seats right next to him.
"Jim got to you, eh?" He smiled at Dorian who nodded.
John sat forward to say something and Dorian gave him a look of pure death, hoping to scare nice words into his fool mouth. "So this is Jim's fault? Where is he?"
Len raised an eyebrow. "He's in the play...of course."
"Oh," John said, snapping back in his seat and tugging at his stupid shirt collar. he unfastened the first buttons anxiously and fanned himself with a program before he thought to take a look at it.
Dorian leaned toward Len and whispered, "He isn't much into theater but he really does want to be here."
Len smiled and was about to say something but the house lights flashed, sending everyone to their seats. John looked around and was surprised by the size of the crowd for a community theater. The woman next to him placed a hand on his knee kindly and said, "Oh, is this your first time here?"
"Yeah," John nodded, staring at the unwelcome intrusion of his personal space.
"You will love it!" the woman gushed happily, "Jim McCoy is the best thing that ever happened to this theater."
John nodded as politely as he could and thanked her, then opened the program and held it in front of his nose so he could read it in the darkening lighting and also to end the unwanted conversation. Everyone in this burb was so friendly. Jim was the director, set designer, and he played a prince and the big bad wolf. John was surprised he didn't give himself larger roles, he certainly could have. He thought about that a moment but put it out of his mind quickly because the play was starting.
John prepared himself for terrible acting. However, for the next three hours, he watched what turned out to be a really amazing production of the play. When Jim was on the stage, he shined. He was head and shoulders above the rest of the ensemble but he didn't overdo it and upstage anyone.
When it was over, Jim took the mic after all the final bows and thanked everyone for coming to opening night and suggested everyone spread the news about the next five performances. He was so well received, it was clear he was loved by so many in the audience and the actors on the stage. Len pulled a bouquet of flowers from under his seat to give to him when he could make his way to his side.
John saw that and smacked Dorian on the side with his hand and said, "You didn't bring flowers? What is wrong with you!?"
Dorian had to laugh about that. Before the play started, John was sitting on nails, now he was scoffing at the audacity of not bringing a gift.
"I hope ya'll stick around and come out for a drink with us afterwards," Len said to them as the crowd swelled out of the building and toward the parking lot.
"We'd love to!" John said, a smile on his face. If Dorian had a human heart, it'd be spasming in his chest right about now. He was shocked.
"Good," Len said, squeezing Dorian's arm, "I'm gonna go catch up with Jim. Don't leave now, we'll meet up when everyone has left for the night."
"Sure, Len, we'll be here," Dorian said and watched the doctor walk off to the outer hall of the theater.
John leaned into Dorian and kissed him.
"You had fun," Dorian smirked.
"Jerk," John said, refusing to admit anything. It wasn't his style.
When the theater was mostly clear, Jim came through the doors with a little sheen of sweat on his brow, still dressed like a prince from his performance. He trapped Dorian and John in his beaming smile and shouted, "You came!" he walked over and took their hands in his in turn, Dorian first. "Thank you so much, and look how dressed up you are, you both look great!"
John blushed and looked down at himself with one hand on the back of his neck, feeling self-conscious suddenly.
"It was really great, Jim," Dorian said.
"Sorry we didn't bring you flowers, we owe you some!" John blurted.
Jim smiled with his eyes, "No need. But hey, you guys are coming out for a drink right?"
"Yeah," John said.
"Head out to the lobby while I kill the equipment and lock the place up," Jim said, "Len is waiting." He drank in the sight of his friends with a big smiled before speeding off.
John and Dorian found Len in the lobby and chatted while waiting for Jim. Miraculously, the blond man emerged through the stage doors looking nice in a button down shirt and a pair of jeans and sneakers. "Ready to go?" he asked, looking from Len to Dorian to John with a smile. None of them knew how he could look so good in such short time.
Len held out his elbow and Jim took it with a smile and they all walked to the parking lot that only held two cars now.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
It was Jim's favorite club, a red velvet nightmare with low lights and deep black leather booths. They slid into a corner booth and gave their drink orders to the waitress. Len also placed an order for a number of appetizers, knowing Jim must be famished after his long performance.
Jim and John were on the inside of the circular booth and when the drinks came, John lifted his beer and said, "Great show, man," clinking glasses with the thespian. Jim blushed as everyone jumped in to agree. Dorian looked at John and wondered who this imposter was and what he had done with his real husband.
The appetizers came out and John stared at all the food in shock. It was enough to feed an army.
"Eat!" Leonard urged, Jim was already elbow deep in the chicken wings.
John didn't need to be told twice and was happy to dig into the impressive spread.
"How's the leg?" Len asked. It had only been four days since it was reattached.
"Fine," John responded around an overloaded nacho.
"Pain free?" Len asked, his eyes slipping to Dorian as well.
John nodded, still chewing. "He's been walking better," Dorian said, "I think he hasn't been this pain free in two years."
"Anyhow," John said, desperate to change the subject away from his leg and his walking and his pain. He didn't have anything to add though.
Jim was quick to pick up the slack of awkward conversation in order to save John. He set down a loaded potato skin and took a drink of his beer then said, "You know, Dorian you have a strong presence, you should come be a part of my community theater troupe."
"You could be a tree," John suggested, offering the DRN a catty smile that would have been more effective if his face wasn't covered in wing sauce.
Jim knocked into John playfully and insisted he, "Be nice!" Then he added, "You could do it, too, you know?"
"No way," John said, stuffing three french fries into his mouth at once. Dorian watched a large drip of catchup fall onto the front of John's new sweater vest. He snapped up a napkin and tried to clean it but was batted away by the sloppy detective, who picked up his own napkin and smeared it into the soft material, ensuring the stain would last.
Dr. McCoy observed Dorian's crestfallen face and jammed a thumb in Jim's direction. The blond man had barbeque sauce on his chin. "I can't take him anywhere, either."
Dorian chuckled and felt better while Jim kicked Len under the table in the most obvious way possible. Len gave his husband with an annoyed grimace, reaching down to rub his shin. He couldn't help but notice that Jim normally ordered a cocktail when they went out but today he'd ordered a beer, just like John.
Len had a glass of wine and wasn't overly interested in most of the appetizers.
Dorian prompted Jim to talk more about the theater. They found out that a few years ago the community theater was closing down and, with Len's financial help and Jim's artistic expertise, it was spared and in just a few years it was turned around and going strong.
"Which is amazing, really," Jim added to the end of his story about the theater making a strong comeback, "because it is hard to compete with the movie theaters."
John shrugged his shoulders and said, "Most the movie theaters don't even play the good stuff. You gotta go to the 'skirts if you want to see anything good!"
"Like the Chinese theater in the Koln Avenue District," Jim chirped.
"Yes!" John was so excited, no one ever knew about that theater and it was his favorite place to kill time. "You like that place?"
"They are playing Ong Bak next week and Lenny doesn't want to go," Jim said, looking at his husband with big eyes.
"I can't stand those fighting movies," Len complained, "I can't follow it. And the subtitles are always wrong and hard to read."
"The acting is terrible," Dorian added, "and it encourages people to perform crazy stunts." He eyeballed John meaningfully.
"Fine!" Jim said, "John and I will go without you! If you can't appreciate Tony Jaa, one of the most amazing martial artists of all time, then you are just a wet blanket at a picnic!"
John was nodding while eating. "Yeah!" he said, with his mouth full. Dorian winced and wished there was an inoffensive way to teach a grown man table manners.
"Then," Jim paused to yawn uncontrollably, covering his mouth with the back of his wrist, "it's settled."
"You've had a long day, Jim," Dorian said, nudging the evening toward a close.
"I'm okay," the sleepy blond man reassured. He dug in his pocket and came up with an energy chew in a wrapper.
Len snatched it from his hand as he tried to open it. "These will make your heart explode, Jim!"
"No they won't," John argued, "trust me. I have them all the time."
Shaking his head, Len said, "Well as your physician, I'm telling you to stop. Both of you."
Jim pulled another one out of his pocket and showed John under the table where no one else could see and John smirked. Len and Dorian weren't that stupid and exchanged annoyed looks of exasperation.
John and Jim spent the next half hour jabbering about kung fu movies old and new, their favorite actors and films, and how under appreciated their genre was while sucking down beer and finishing off most of the food.
"It's getting late," Len said, glancing at his phone, "hate to be the party pooper but I need to be in my bed soon."
"Go on," John said, "we'll drive Jim home. Dorian can stay up all night without getting sleepy. Cranky maybe, but not sleepy."
Jim nodded happily. He was having so much fun finally getting to know John. His heart was about to burst like an energy chew incident.
Dorian sighed and put his face in his palm. "Let's call it a night, John."
"Tell you what," Len said in his bargaining tone, "let's end the evening here and then in Sunday, you guys come to our place for a barbeque?"
Jim bounced with excitement and looked to John and Dorian for confirmation. "Please say yes," he begged.
"Sounds like a plan," John said and Dorian nodded his approval.
John and Len both got their but drives out to pay for the table on the light screen in the middle. "John!" Len said in warning, "absolutely not! We invited you out."
"Let's split it," John offered, moving forward.
Knowing who he had to deal with most, Jim reached out and stole John's bitdrive from his hand and played keepaway so Len could pay. Both John and Jim were too drunk to do anything with grace. John twisted in the booth trying to reach his drive but Jim held his arm up over his head and back, his knees banging into the table hard and jostling the drinks.
When Len was done paying, Jim handed it back quickly and John afforded him a punch to the arm that made the blond man gasp in shock and punch John back. A nearby booth of far more sophisticated people were staring. It was definitely time to go home.
"See you Sunday?" Len asked with a smirk, gathering Jim close in the booth to give him a squeeze to pull him away from John before they fought any more. "I'll text you the details tomorrow," he was speaking to Dorian since John was too busy laughing.
Dorian nodded and said, "Thank you for the lovely evening, you didn't have to treat. That was nice. Sorry...if…" he gestured toward John.
Len smiled and waved a hand to dismiss the thought. He was incredibly happy that John and Jim had found common ground. Jim spent far too much time just hanging around the hospital day and night; he needed some friends in his life. Jim was friendly with everyone, but rarely let people get very close.
They all slid out of the booth and walked to the parking lot to their cars. Jim was well loosed on beer. He could nurse a cocktail for hours but beer in a pitcher just went down like water. When they said goodbye, he threw his arms around John tight and squeezed. John was surprised but relaxed and hugged Jim back. He was drunk too and it felt good to hug his friend.
Jim hugged Dorian too, and planted a kiss on his cheek. John shook Len's hand, feeling awkward, then headed for the car. "Drive safe," Dorian said, shaking Len's hand, too, and following his partner to the cruiser.
On their way home, Jim chattered to Len, in between yawns, about how great John was and how they were friends for sure. He kept adding, "Told ya so, didn't I?" to the end of every other sentence.
John and Dorian had a longer drive home and John sleepily told Dorian that "the kid isn't half bad, after all," and then he took off his seatbelt, laid his head on Dorian's thigh, and fell asleep.
Dorian stuck his fingers in John's hair. He knew he should make him put on a seatbelt but he was proud of him for being so social and so nice to Jim. He resolved to simply drive them home safely.
Chapter 5: Every Breath You Take
While You Were Sleeping
Chapter 5: Every Breath You Take
On Sunday, John felt butterflies in his gut over the barbeque. He was excited to see the Kirk-McCoys but he also wondered suddenly if this was a huge imposition. Dorian assured him that they wouldn't have invited them if they didn't want to see them.
"He's my doctor, though," John complained as he clicked his leg into place in front of the charging station. "This is like work for him."
"I don't think he's gonna ask you to turn your head and cough, John," Dorian teased. A blush crept up John's neck. That joke did nothing to make him feel more comfortable.
John hoisted his jeans on and buttoned them. Dorian watched him stare into his closet in deep conflict, looking at the sea of shirts. John wasn't used to having friends. Even Dorian only got to know him because they were forced to spend time together as partners. His indecision over finding the right outfit took Dorian by surprise and warmed his synthetic soul so much that he came up behind John and wrapped his arms around him, grabbing onto his bare chest and kissing his neck.
"You are so adorable," Dorian insisted while John grunted at the word choice.
The android dragged John backward to the bed, delighting at the sound of the man's laughter. It was coming easier these past days and Dorian suddenly realized just how much pain his stubborn human had been in at any given moment in the past. This recent surgery had changed John's life. It all made sense now as Dorian looked down at John's laughing face beneath him across the bed. He felt his synthetic eyes prickle at the thought that John had been living with constant physical pain in his leg and it had kept him from living a happy life.
Dipping down for a kiss, Dorian quelled John's laughter and sent the man into a rush to writhe out of his jeans. Dorian sat up on his knees and pulled off his shirt and then worked at his jeans, shoving out of them and kicking them off each leg and onto the floor.
"We're going to be late," John laughed, inching up the bed and squeezing at his own cock.
Dorian pulled John under his knees and dipped down to kiss the soft part of his belly, feeling the man's erection poking at his neck. John put his hands on Dorian's head, trying to push him down.
Dorian didn't budge, placing the pad of his thumb on John's opening, causing a surprised clench in his cheeks. Dorian forced John's thighs further apart, reducing his ability to effectively control the muscles in his ass. John whined in anticipation as Dorian pulled up at his large cock with his fist a few times then pressed his erection against John's and ran his hands around both of their members, thrusting slightly.
The DRN's self-lubricating cock made John slick as well and all the more hungry for his husband. "C'mon, Dee," he begged.
"What?" Dorian asked, pushing John's legs up toward his shoulders, effectively lifting his ass in the air so the android could dip down and run his tongue up along the quivering puckered muscle, forcing it inside and sending John's body into a fit of tension.
John was stammering out noises, in an attempt to tell Dorian what he wanted, he finally managed to breathe out the words, "Fuck me," in a small and desperate voice.
"You didn't say please," Dorian teased, and dipped his tongue in again with vigor, putting one hand on the base of John's cock and pressing a thumb into the stem right above his testicles until he felt the precum dribbling onto his fingers.
"Ah," John cried out, "Fuck you!" He gasped as the Dorian withdrew his tongue and sank his teeth into the meaty skin of his left buttcheek.
"Naughty," Dorian said after letting go of the flesh. He sat up and pressed the head of his cock into John, slipping it inside the tight cavity then withdrawing it.
John wrapped his heels around behind Dorian and tried to pull himself down closer to Dorian's slick tip. He was rewarded for his efforts and finally Dorian began to pump inside of him, leaning in close, so they could look into each other's eyes.
Dorian kept a slow and steady pace at first, his hand circling John's cock and working it to the rhythm of their lovemaking. John's fevered face and open mouth were beautiful to Dorian. He admired the way his hands gripped hard into the pillows above his head and his hips bucked almost involuntarily with their movements.
He continued the steadied pace and drew John's leg back to look at the connection between his real thigh and his synthetic kissed the seam on John's leg again and again and nuzzled it against his face then looked down at the man who was tensed in the throes of ecstasy. "Don't lie to me, John. Are you really pain free now, sweetheart?" Dorian asked, still thrusting into him with force.
John nodded with eyes wet and wide at the truth of the admission, tears slipping quickly down the side of his face and pooling into his ears. Dorian smiled, his own eyes growing lipid with emotion. He sped up the pace until John moaned in delirium and came hard onto his own belly. Dorian drew out of him and lapped at his tummy while John trembled in recovery, his fingers tangling into Dorian's hair.
"We really are late now," Dorian said, "Can you get dressed fast?"
John nodded, grateful for the subject change. He sat up and ran a hand over his face, smearing off the tears and sweat. Dorian pulled him up to his feet and kissed him, smoothing his hand back into John's hair, cradling his head.
"Okay," He smiled, "Let's get a move on, we still need to hit the liquor store." John knew it was coming, accepting a smack on the behind from Dorian who loved to pop him one when he was feeling possessive.
He grinned and went into the bathroom a moment before emerging and pulling into his underwear and jeans again. Dorian was already dressed, of course. He handed John a red vintage t-shirt and a short sleeve button up shirt to wear over it, solving the outfit dilemma that started it all.
"Grab the salad out of the fridge," John said, pulling the t-shirt over his head.
Dorian nodded and headed for the kitchen while John toed into his sandals and jammed a stick of deodorant up under his shirt on each side before shrugging into the button up shirt and heading for the door.
At the liquor store, John stared at the rows of wine bottles feeling utterly lost. Dorian was waiting in the car and John was regretting that decision. Finally, he gave up and grabbed a case of beer and lugged it to the counter. There was no sense in attempting to look sophisticated, he simply wasn't that guy.
When they pulled up to the house, John gave a long, low whistle. It was a modern home, fairly large compared to John's refurbished warehouse apartment. The outside was well kept. "Nice place," John muttered to himself, turning the car off and taking the salad from Dorian before getting out. Dorian grabbed the beer and followed John to the front door.
Jim answered the door in his jeans and a t-shirt, drawing them inside and hugging John with one shoulder as he took the salad. "Come in, come in!" he said excitedly then turned to the stairs and hollered at the top of his lungs, "They're here, Len!"
He led them to the kitchen and took the plastic wrap off the salad and dug in the drawer for salad forks, setting them in the bowl. "You didn't have to bring anything," Jim said, "But this looks great."
Len came down the stairs and into the kitchen to greet them. "You have a lovely home," Dorian said, looking around the kitchen. John's kitchen was just a cubby off the side of the living room. Dorian felt envious of the sprawling space and all the cupboards and surfaces.
"Jimmy can give you the full tour if you want," Len said, leaning to look in the salad bowl with a smile. "Mmmm!."
Dorian set the beer on the counter and Len chided, "You didn't need to bring anything!" He opened the huge fridge and added the beers. He turned with his hands on his hips and said, "But thank you."
"You treated us on Friday night and you invited us over," John countered. He smiled at Jim and said, "Can I have the house tour?"
"Right this way!" Jim gestured, looking back to see if Dorian was coming too. The DRN waved them on.
As Jim took John up the stairs, Dorian picked up the cruiser keys from where John left them on the counter. "I bought the scrapbook Jim made for John. I'm going to go get it so tonight they can go through it together."
"Perfect," Len said, gratitude clear in his voice.
Dorian put his hand on Len's shoulder and gave him a hug. The doctor was surprised and accepted the hug while blinking, trying to think.
When Dorian released him, he said, "Thank you, doctor. John's a different man since you fixed that connection pad. He's pain free for the first time in years and I can see a huge change in him."
"I only wish he'd come in sooner," Len said, "like he was supposed to."
"Me too," Dorian nodded and then headed out to the car. When he came back in, he set the book aside, it was for later.
Len was out on the back deck. They had a nice inground pool and a well kept garden. It was still a little cool for swimming but it was getting there. the weather was perfect for outside and Dorian stood by the grill while Len laid out the meats and vegetables on the heated surface.
"Jim's been different, too," Len admitted, "I think he really needed John to like him so I am glad they connected so well on Friday night."
"John and I need friends," Dorian admitted, "we spend way too much time at home in our own company."
"Same," Len agreed, "and Friday was nice, I really needed that break. I had a crazy incident that day and it was just a mess. It was a nice way to end the evening."
"What happened on Friday that was crazy?" Dorian asked curiously, taking a seat on the plush outdoor furniture.
"Guy came into the ward looking for a fight," Len said, picking up his tumbler and sipping his red wine, "I reported the family a few months ago when the kids kept coming in with broken arms. Two little twin girls, three years old. Broken arms, bruises on them that told me what I needed to know. So I called the CPA. It's my job."
"Terrible," Dorian exclaimed. "Those poor babies."
"I couldn't tell Jim about it," Len sighed, his voice low, "The kids went into the state care for a while. He's a foster kid himself and well, he never would have been okay with the outcome. I tried to find out where they were, but the system just doesn't work that way." A pained look crossed Len's face. "Anyway, the father of those kids has been lurking around the hospital all week, apparently. I didn't know until Friday when a nurse found him in my office and called security."
"Did he take anything?" Dorian asked.
"From what I can tell," Len said, "He took the framed picture of Jim from my desk. The one from the boat where we were on vacation. I don't want Jim to know about that either. Some stranger stealing his picture, he is vain enough as it is." Len tried to laugh at his attempt to inject humor into the situation. Instead, it came out as a strangled chuckle.
Dorian shifted uncomfortably. "He took a picture of Jim?"
"Yeah," Len said. "Oh they are coming, please, let's talk about this later?"
Dorian nodded but remained concerned. Something about the story unsettled him greatly.
Len turned the food on the grill as Jim and John came out on the back porch. "And a pool?" John said, gesturing to the gorgeous backyard. "Man, Dee, you gotta take the tour. They have a bathtub the size of our bathroom."
Len laughed at that statement. "When you don't live in the city, you can go bigger."
John raised his eyebrows at Dorian and said, "Hmmmm, bigger?"
Jim snorted with laughter and Dorian rolled his eyes.
"Get plates, darlin'," Len said.
John followed Jim in and helped him carry plates and silverware out, and they each grabbed a beer in their free hand. They set the outdoor table and Len brought a platter over loaded with foods.
Jim ran back in and grabbed the salad and few other sides and set them on the table. They all sat around the table to eat. Jim couldn't peel his eyes off of Dorian. He was watching him with a sad look on his face.
"I'm really okay, Jim," Dorian assured the young man.
Setting his elbows on the table and resting his chin on his hands, peering at Dorian with big, sad blue eyes, Jim huffed, "All we ever do is eat and you have to just sit there and watch. I absolutely hate it."
"You'll get used to it," John assured. "And he likes to watch." He grinned at Dorian, sticking a finger in his ear and wiggling it till Dorian dipped his head away.
"Don't worry, Jim," Dorian said, slapping at John's hand, "I have no desire to eat, but I enjoy the conversation at meals. However, if it will make you feel more comfortable, I can excuse myself when you eat."
"Oh my fucking god, no!"
Jim shouted so loud that Len tapped his arm and hissed, "The neighbors!" through his closed teeth.
"Oh who cares about them," Jim said, waving Len off. He turned his attention back to Dorian and said, "Don't you dare! I just worry about you being bored by us and our constant mastication." He snorted with laughter.
"Mutual mastication," John added, sending Jim into fits.
Dorian rolled his eyes. "Really Jim, I love to watch humans masticate."
Jim was laughing so hard at this point he couldn't breathe.
Len looked at Dorian with a smirk and patted Jim on the back. "Pull it together darlin'," he urged. "Been a long time since junior high, kid."
They finished out their meal with more laughter as the sun dipped toward the horizon. Len built a fire in the pit and they gathered around it, telling stories. When Jim got up to use the bathroom, Dorian went in to fetch John another beer and top off Len's glass with wine. He lingered in the kitchen and waited for Jim, calling him over when he exited the bathroom.
"What's up, Dee?" Jim asked, having heard John use the nickname. He tested it out for himself and wondered if John would be mad about him using it.
Dorian reached up on top of the fridge and handed Jim his scrapbook from John's ordeal. When Jim saw it, he crushed it to his chest. He spent a lot of time and energy on that book and it was nice to see it again. He'd turned the pages more than he cared to admit.
"Are you up to showing this to John tonight?" Dorian asked, giving Jim's shoulder a squeeze.
Jim looked at the book in his arms then up and Dorian and nodded. "I'll get comfy on the couch and you send him in."
Dorian nodded, "We'll be outside if you need us."
He walked out and handed Len a full glass of wine and John a cold beer. "John head on in, Jim wants to show you something," Dorian said, craning his neck toward the house.
John took a swig of beer, cocking his eyebrow. But he got up and headed into the house.
Len raised his eyebrows at Dorian who sat down around the fire as John went inside.
"He'll be okay," Len reassured quietly, noting Dorian's tense shoulders.
"They both will," Dorian said. He leaned forward, "Can we talk about your office picture?"
"You're worried about that?" Len asked. He waved his hand, "Don't worry about that guy. Nothing he can do."
Dorian dropped the subject for now but it still bothered him.
. . . . .
Inside the house, Jim was sitting on the couch when John entered. "You want a beer?" John asked, observing Jim and wondering what it was he wanted to share.
"Nah," Jim said, patting the cushion next to him.
John dropped onto the couch beside Jim, breathing out. The fire outside flickered through the sliding glass door and the house seemed incredibly quiet in comparison to outside. "What is it, Jim?"
"This might be hard to see," Jim sighed, picking up the scrapbook and running his hand over the back of it. "It's a book that details your time in the hospital. I made it so you would have a better idea of the time that passed while you were sleeping."
John looked at the book with eyes sprung with moisture. He swallowed.
Jim sighed, "It'll be hard to look at, but I want to show you. I think it might help you. Also, it will let you know that I really cared about you and I wasn't just a...a…"
"Coma groupie?" John asked, a little too quickly. He'd been thinking about that for a while, unsure of Jim's motives.
"That's one way to say it," Jim smiled, his eyes were watering too and he willed himself not to cry. "Are you ready?"
John sat a moment then nodded. Jim opened the large book across his knees and slid it over so John could see. The first picture was like a kick to the gut. John hadn't seen himself after the accident. He looked terrible. A chewed up mess of human suffering. In John's mind, the picture made him feel weak.
"I looked like shit," he said, his eyes running over the battered stump at the end of his thigh.
"You were in bad shape, John," Jim said, waiting for John to be ready to turn the page.
They went through the book slowly, Jim explaining each piece. Every photo and item had a date and time. Each thing had a small story. When they reached the end, John's pictures were looking better. He was healed from his injuries and stabilized. The final picture was of the empty room, the day Jim found out John had awoken.
John flipped back through the pages, his hands brushing them with care. Pictures of Jim cutting his hair, lighting birthday candles and Christmas trees, carving pumpkins, and hanging cards. "Why?" John finally asked, "Jim, for real. Why did you do this for me?"
"I told you," Jim said, "I wanted you to have an idea of how time passed. I saw it on the internet."
"Not this book," John said, closing it and cradling it in his arms as Jim had been earlier. "I mean, why did you visit me so much and do all this for me? It was a lot of work for you."
Jim shrugged but he knew damn well. John waited patiently for the answer. "Look I know what it is like to not have anyone give a shit about you," Jim finally said, looking off to the side at his hands and the ground. "I'll never forget that feeling. I didn't want that for you."
John set the scrapbook off to the side carefully. Jim looked so small and unsure, staring off to the side, divulging his best kept secrets. It was tragic to imagine the ray of sunshine in front of him feeling unloved and alone at any moment. Johns arms moved without his consent, dragging the skinny young man to him and crushing him against his chest. He held him tight and whispered, "Thank you, Jim."
John didn't realize how much he was crying until he felt his t-shirt sticking to his chest. The torrent of emotion that welled up inside him seemed to be coming from the past, from years of pent up frustration. They were the tears accumulated from 17 months trapped in a body that couldn't move followed by two years of a heart that couldn't trust.
Jim hugged John back, hopeless against the onslaught of tears in his own eyes. He planted a kiss on John's forehead when they broke the hug and said with a quavering voice, around a smile, "That's how I used to greet you in this hospital," he grabbed three tissues from the box on the table and blew his nose loudly, "I've wanted to do that since I first met you in the hospital hallway."
John laughed past his sloppy emotions and grabbed tissues for himself and pressed his face into them. "Well look, you've made a mess of both of us," he said, "How are we going to go back out there like this?"
"It's dark," Jim said, standing up and pulling on John's wrist to help him off the couch.
Jim needed Len anyhow and when he went out, he plopped right into the doctor's lap.
John sat beside Dorian and leaned into him. The DRN wrapped an arm around John's shoulders and planted a kiss on his temple. "We should head home," Dorian whispered against John's hair and felt the slightest nod.
They stood up and Len tapped on Jim, urging him to his feet. They turned off the fire and helped clear the table but simply dumped the dishes unwashed into the sink at Leonard's insistence.
John grabbed his scrapbook and Jim embraced him. Len was full of wine and hugged Dorian and John in turn before sending them out to the car. John walked on numb legs. He remembered the salad bowl at the last minute but decided to forget it on purpose.
Jim and Len watched them drive away before closing and locking the front door. Len could tell Jim needed to get into bed and cuddle. "Dishes can wait," he said, kissing Jim and nudging him toward the stairs. "I'll be up in a minute, going to go lock up."
Leonard McCoy set the alarms and locked the doors. He turned off all the lights and headed for the stairs. He didn't notice the car parked across the street or the dark figure inside, watching.
Chapter 6: Precious and Fragile Things
Read the new tags and note that things are gonna get a little heavy. Chapter title comes from the Depeche Mode song: Precious
While You Were Sleeping
Chapter 6: Precious and Fragile Things
It was a rare occasion that Dr Leonard McCoy called off work but he needed a personal day. The fact of the matter was, he needed Jim. His young husband had been through an emotional weekend and Len didn't have the heart to leave him alone in the house or drag him to the office. The on-call doctor would have to be inconvenienced.
He slipped out of the bed, walked to the bathroom and relieved himself then grabbed his cell phone and padded downstairs to call in to work. The nurse who took the call was sweet about it and said she hoped everything was okay and that she'd miss seeing them today. He knew she would only really miss Jim and he was totally okay with that. He went back upstairs, turned off his alarm clock, and got into bed. The moment he was back in the sheets, Jim gravitated toward his warmth and cuddled into him, sighing softly.
Feeling peaceful while playing hooky, Len untangled the blankets and fell back to sleep.
. . . . . . .
"Fuck! Len! Fuck!" Jim was shouting and it startled his older husband out of a deep dream with a snort and a full body jerk.
"Jesus Christ in a cathouse, what're you yellin' about?" Len demanded, surly and wiping drool off his chin.
"We overslept! You're fucking late for work, Leonard!" Jim snapped back, throwing a pillow at Len's face. He hated it when Len used his angry tone on him when he didn't deserve it, even if he was just cranky from being sound asleep five seconds ago.
"I called in," Len said, yawning and stretching his shoulders.
Jim was stepping into his pants and tripped at Len's admission. He popped back up and kicked the pants off the end of his legs and sat on the bed. "Why? Honey, are you okay?"
"It's a clinic day," Len said, "So I have no regular patients coming in, just leftover ER cases. I needed a day away from that. And I wanted to spend time with you, kid."
"Leonard Horatio McCoy," Jim said, crawling across the bed and plopping himself onto Len's legs, straddling him. "I didn't know you had it in you to just shirk your responsibilities like that." He clucked his tongue.
"What can I say?" Len smirked, "Takin' care'a you is a full time job." He wrapped his arms around Jim's torso, one sliding just under Jim's magnificently plump ass, the other locking around his thin waist, pulling the younger man toward him so Len's face could press into Jim's t-shirt that still smelled like fabric softener and sleep.
Laughter was Jim's happy response as Len rubbed his whiskered face into his chest. "You gonna take care of me today, daddy?" he asked, making his voice a little smaller than usual and wiggling his hips which made Len hold him even tighter.
The older man rumbled happily in his throat, still locking Jim in place and breathing in his scent. Moments like these, he had to take them in and savor them. They had the potential to seem unreal or to slip by in the busyness of their lives, unnoticed and unappreciated. He wanted to properly recognize his life with Jim. So often he failed to do it, but today he was going to relish every moment. He would luxuriate in each scent, sound, taste, and touch that this day would bring.
And then of course, the sight. Jim was gorgeous. So much so, that Len often wondered how he managed to keep hold of the magnificent creature. However, their relationship was one of love and trust from its conception and Len knew better than to question Jim's loyalty based on such shallow assumptions. His eyes roved the Adonis on his lap with predatory hunger and deep need to ensure his safety, health, and happiness.
"Lenny?" Jim asked, looking down at the man who was twelve years his senior and the rotation of his whole world.
"Yes, baby?" Len asked, nuzzling his nose into the softness of Jim's belly.
"You okay?" Jim questioned, Len's arms still held him firmly in place.
"Just drinkin' you in," Len admitted.
Jim laughed and peeled his husband's arms off of him. He backed away from the doctor and grabbed the hem of his t-shirt and pulled it up over his head and off, then he used both hands to fluff his pillow-ruffled hair. Jim wore cotton briefs that were red with white piping. "Still thirsty?" Jim teased, shifting his hips.
"C'mere," Len said, his voice a growl.
Jim smirked, his plump lips quirking up the side of his face.
"I said come here, baby," Len said again, pushing the bedsheets down and beckoning. Leonard McCoy was by no stretch of the imagination an old man. He was a trim and solid and his skin looked downright tan in comparison to the milky thighs and chest Jim was sporting.
Jim's perfect mouth spread at the sides, his smile revealing his teeth, bright white like bleached bone. His smile put crinkles in the skin around his eyes that made the older man's hardware thicken with desire. Len put his hand on the bedside drawer and found the lubricant as Jim slipped off the bed.
Before Len could stop him, Jim was down the stairs.
Len got up and stretched and stalked after his husband. He found Jim sitting on the quartz countertop in the large island of their kitchen. He was eating a banana and trying to look seductive. When Len saw him, he stopped and put his hands on his hips. Jim took a giant bite of banana and then lost it, his body jumping with laughter at the absurdity of the whole situation.
"You're gonna choke!" Len scolded. Jim's mouth was so full of banana that his cheeks were bulged as he chewed. He finally managed to swallow it and cracked up laughing.
Len walked over and grabbed an ankle, pulling Jim to him, the skin on his backside that wasn't covered by the underwear catching and squeaking on the counter. "Did you hear daddy tell you to come to him, upstairs?" he asked, silencing the laughter and feeling Jim shiver under his hands.
The younger man wrapped his legs behind Len's bare back and bit his bottom lip, giving big, sad eyes. He loved playing the part of the well-cared-for baby. He nodded slowly.
"So why do I find you down here, getting your dirty body all over the clean countertops?" Len asked, his hands on Jim's naked thighs. They felt cold from the stone.
Jim shrugged as best he could, wanting to play the role properly.
Len made a tsk noise with his tongue and looked around, grimacing and drawing a heavy rubber spatula from the the kitchen tool caddy. He flexed it in his hands and said, "What is daddy going to do with you?"
Squirming with excitement, Jim whimpered as best he could and let Len flip him onto his belly. The cold counter made his already erect nipples turn to steel. "Sorry, daddy," he sniveled softly, pressing his forehead into the cool surface to hide the thrill he was experiencing.
Len peeled Jim's cute red underpants down off his ample backside, sucking air in at the sight. He would never grow tired of the perfection that was Jim's ass. It was like a ripe peach and always looked better with a little bit of color. He applied the spatula heavily across Jim's behind, alternating from one cheek to the next several times, eliciting moans and yips out of Jim who arched his back to improve the view.
Len couldn't wait another second. He tossed the spatula to the ground and dug out the lubricant from the pocket of his pajama pants, smearing it generously against Jim's eager opening. Pushing his pants and underwear to the floor, the dark-haired man slicked his greased fingers down his aching cock and pushed inside Jim's tight cavity until his hips rested against the hot flesh of his ass.
They both moaned in unison at the thorough penetration. "Good boy," Len whined, unable to control his voice as he slowly moved inside of Jim who clenched and released in rhythm with the pace Len was setting.
Len was going so slow that Jim wiggled at each thrust, attempting fruitlessly to slide back into the movement and speed it up. He moaned at the teasing tempo of their lovemaking. Len ran his palms up Jim's back and dragged his fingernails lightly down and was rewarded with a full body shiver.
Finally feeling Jim's muscles loosen properly, Len increased the gait of their lovemaking but not as much as Jim wanted.
After several moaning moments, Jim finally begged, "Fuck me harder, daddy," chewing on the pad of his thumb. He drooled in a pool on the counter.
Len stopped. He couldn't properly get to Jim on this tall counter. He pulled out, listening to a disappointed mewl. "C'mon Jimmy," Len said, gathering his tense body to sit up on the counter. He kissed the tip of Jim's finally accessible, twitching cock. Then he hoisted him up and carried him to the couch. Jim's back sank into the soft cushions and Len entered him again, their fingers entwining above Jim's head, leaning down to kiss the blond man. Jim thrust his erection up between his own belly and Len's, crying out at each nudge of Len's cock.
With minimal stimulation of his trapped cock, heavy with arousal, Jim was able to stave off orgasm while Leonard alternated fast and slow thrusts of his hips to improve his staying power. His hands were still pinned above his head so Jim sank his teeth into Len's shoulder until the man winced and let go of his fingers. Len unlatched Jim's teeth from his shoulder. "Dammit, Jim," he said with a reluctant grin, inspecting the dental records on his skin. He pulled out again, looking down at the pink man beneath him, his chest heaving. "Turn."
"Okay, daddy," Jim said, obediently turning onto his belly, lifting his eager behind.
Len swatted him hard and unexpectedly a few times, drawing a sharp gasp from Jim. "No biting," he said and impaled him rigorously. Now he could reach a hand under the young man's body and stroke his neglected member, tugging on his soft testicles and squeezing the base, all the while pumping his hips with pointed thrusts.
When he felt Jim's come spill out onto his hand, Len allowed himself his own release, dropping his sweaty forehead onto Jim's back. They both gasped and shuddered in the morning light filtering in from the window in the vaulted ceiling of the family room.
Len pulled Jim even closer and maneuvered them so they were on their sides, cuddling him on the couch with an arm around his middle. Jim burrowed back into Len, his soft golden hair against the man's neck. Len breathed in the fresh sweat mixed with the smell of soap close to Jim's scalp and kissed his ear. He ran his fingers over Jim's skin slowly and sighed happily. His cock was still buried in Jim's meaty ass and he was reluctant to get up but Jim had goosebumps in the cool air.
Finally faced with the decision of falling asleep shivering or getting up, Len prodded Jim off the couch, reluctantly disconnecting. They drew a bath in their large tub and got in together, making plans to go out for breakfast and then they could do whatever the younger man wanted to do for the rest of the day. Jim used his self-proclaimed monkey-feet in the bubbly bath water to poke and grasp at Len's cock until the older man pulled on his skinny ankle, dipping him under the sudsy surface unexpectedly.
Jim came up flailing and sputtering in shock, wincing and rubbing the sides of his nose.
"That's gonna cost you!" Jim huffed, punching the surface of the water toward Len's face, splattering him.
"What are you going to do about it, brat?" Len teased, shying away from the splash.
"You said we could do whatever I want after breakfast?" Jim said with a cocky smirk, "Well I wanna go shopping."
Len rolled his eyes and sank beneath the water dramatically, sending Jim giggling.
. . . . . . . . . . .
The rest of the week at the hospital went so well, Len wished he could call off every monday. Even if his staying home did cost him a few hundred bucks and a slight back ache, it was totally worth it. Jim was in a great mood, too and had even scheduled a date with John to go see his silly fighting movie downtown.
Len hated those movies but he hated Jim going to the Koln Avenue district by himself even more, so he was grateful that John was going with him. From what he gathered, John felt pretty comfortable on that end of town, having grown up in the city and with a father on the force.
It was comforting to have friends in the city. Len and Jim had a wealth of acquaintances, but very few close friends. John and Dorian were the first couple Len felt like he could stand to spend time with on a consistent basis.
On Friday night, Jim got ready to go out to the movies while Len wound down after his shift. He watched Jim primp for his 'date,' feeling just a little bit jealous despite the fact that he was 100% comfortable with his relationship and with John. "Why are you getting all dolled up to watch a kung fu movie?" Len asked.
"Muay Thai," Jim corrected, pulling on a light jacket, "And I'm not! If you don't want to be jealous, come with us."
"Pass," Len said, stretching.
Jim shrugged and walked over, giving Len a quick kiss, "Gotta run," he said.
Len held onto the front of Jim's shirt to keep him from pulling away, knowing how much he'd hate stretching it out. "Be safe, please. Park close to where John parks. Stay together. That district is a mess."
Jim peeled Len's hands off his shirt and gave him another quick kiss, "You worry too much, hubby."
"No such thing as worryin' too much about you, darlin'," Len said, watching Jim fly out the front door with his keys.
. . . . . . . .
John was waiting for Jim at the theater entrance when the blond man jogged up. "Sorry I'm late!" he said, "Len makes it impossible to leave the house sometimes!"
"Sure," John said, directing Jim through the doors, he already had the tickets, "Blame Len because he isn't here."
"Shut up," Jim laughed, filing into the theater. It was small and old and it smelled like buttered popcorn and musty clothes. They were in the theater practically alone. In the front row, a homeless man seemed to be sound asleep in a chair. Other than that, it was just them.
"After this, I'll take you to my favorite noodle joint," John said, kicking his booted feet up on the seat.
"You want popcorn?" Jim asked.
John turned his head to think about it and nodded. "Sure."
"Be right back!" Jim said, popping up.
John watched him go with a smile. The previews were running when Jim returned with popcorn and drinks and candy. John looked wide eyed as Jim handed him an arm load of junk food and plopped down in a seat with his own.
"Thanks, Jim!" John said, juggling his snacks.
"Yo welfcome," Jim said, his mouth full of gummy worms.
It made them both laugh and Jim drooled sugar on his own shirt. He didn't care, he was having fun. The movie started, it was poor quality with English subtitles clearly created by a non-native speaker. Both of them gasped and gaped all the way through the film.
When it is was over, they were both so happy that they watched all the way through the credits. It was a new experience to watch with someone else who enjoyed the film. When the lights came up, the sleeping man was still snoozing away. John and Jim walked back out onto the streets of the run down district. Neon lights lined every building and the sidewalks were congested and smelled of cigarette smoke.
Jim walked next to John a few blocks down to a street vendor with bar seating. Jim's eyes were wide as John took a seat and patted the stool beside him. He sat down, licking his lips absent-mindedly. Len would have a kitten to see him eating here!
So he took a picture and sent it in a text that read: Movie was great. Having dinner with John. So much fun! Speak later
Where are you eating?
not there, right?
Answer your phone
Jim watched the texts roll in, showing John his phone screen.
John laughed as Jim's phone began to ring. "You are torturing him!" John accused, "I love it."
Jim turned his phone off and stuck it in his pocket as the noodles arrived. They ate and laughed together, talking about Jim's past a little and about John's situation before the raid that turned his life inside out. They each had a few bowls of noodles and a few beers.
"Almost midnight," John said, slipping his thumb past the lock screen on this phone. He stretched and yawned, "We better call it a night." They heading back to their cars. John was in one garage and Jim was a few blocks down.
"Let me give you a ride to your car," John said, at the entrance to his garage.
"Nah," Jim said, patting his belly, "Gonna walk off all the carbs and sugar."
John laughed, "Well, I had a good time, next time a good movie is in the theater, we're doing this again."
"Deal," Jim grinned, throwing an arm around John and heading down the street.
"Hope Len doesn't kill you when you get home!" John called after him, "And turn your phone back on, Jim!"
John chuckled at Jim who gave him the finger as he walked away.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
John's phone was ringing, vibrating against the bed stand. He woke up and grabbed it but it wasn't in time. He peered at the screen in the dark. It was a missed call from Leonard.
"Who was it?" Dorian asked, sitting up. "It's three in the morning."
John pulled himself up and turned on the lights. He hit the dial back button on his phone and held it in front of him on speaker phone.
"John?" Leonard McCoy's voice was loud and panicked, "Is Jim with you?"
"Jim? No." John said, "You mean he didn't come home tonight?" fear pitched in John's voice, too.
Dorian was out the bed in a flash, getting John's leg and snapping it on for him.
"No," Len said. "I just woke up and he's still not home. His phone goes straight to voicemail. What time did you guys part ways?"
"Hours ago. Midnight," John said, a painful pause between them, "We will be there as soon as we can, Len. I'm going to call the station and see if anything was reported. We're on our way, Len, I am sure there is a good explanation."
"Thanks," Len said, his voice taking on a strained quality.
Dorian said, "We will find our Jim, Len."
John hung up, sprung out of bed and pulled on the outfit he wore for work, his face shadowed with despair.
Dressing quicker than one would have thought possible, both men were out the door in the black night air, the sounds of the river and the city amplified in John's tragedy heightened senses. John drove the cruiser and Dorian's face flickered with light as he contacted the station and every hospital in the area looking for Jim.
John hit the siren and flew through the streets toward the burbs. His mind was reeling as they drove. When he pulled into the driveway, he looked at Dorian for a meaningful beat. His teeth crushing into each other, the blood in his head rushing against his temple, John said in a hollow voice, "I should have walked him to his car."
Chapter 7: What Have We Done
This chapter gets a little rough. Go forth with caution if you have triggers.
While You Were Sleeping
Chapter 7: What Have We Done
It had happened so fast, Jim tried to remember the details but he was finding it difficult to concentrate on anything other than the throbbing pain in his swollen face. All he knew was that he was almost to his car when someone big grabbed him from behind and carried him to a van, kicking and screaming. When he shouted in the van, he was hit in the face so hard he blacked out.
When he woke up, he was in a dark, small space with his arms tied behind his back and his ankles lashed together. He'd screamed for help and the door had opened, letting in a flash of bright light. A big man snarled, "Shut the fuck up!" and kicked him in the thigh so hard he spent the next hour on his side crying silently. He could only imagine the bruise forming there. His whole leg was tender to any movement.
Jim knew he was in a closet. It wasn't the first time he'd been locked in a closet. He'd lived with a family in his foster care years that used to lock him up for any offense and leave him there, sometimes overnight. On one occasion, he spent over two solid days in the little prison before someone sobered up enough to look for him. The memory of that time washed over him clear as crystal and Jim felt new tears slipping down his messy face. He rubbed his leaking nose against the foul-smelling carpet.
His cell phone and wallet were gone as were his shoes. He laid still, afraid to make too much noise after the vicious kick. His mind reeled through the possibilities. He and Len had no enemies. He must be slated for sex trafficking, organ harvest, or maybe even just the victim of some kind of serial killer. He found no comfort as he examined his predicament.
Len sat in the police station looking pallid and haggard from worry and lack of sleep, an untouched Styrofoam cup of coffee sat in front of him. Dorian had an arm on his back, staying close. They were camped in an interrogation room and John was pacing a trench into the floor.
"He was only two blocks away," John explained.
"You never should have let him walk to his car by himself," Len snapped, rubbing at his sore right eye with three fingers. "Fuck, John, I trusted you." The doctor buried his face in his hands.
John stopped his pacing and dropped his head. Dorian gave him a worried look. The MX sent to scope the Koln District found Jim's car with a theater ticket for the show on the ground nearby, but no other signs of struggle. The cameras in the parking garage had been coated in spray paint last week and there was no video footage on the level. All they had was Jim walking into the stairwell, a happy look on his face.
"I'm sorry," John said, "I should have insisted." The pained look on his face was killing Dorian who stayed by Len's side. "I'm going to get some water," John said, stalking quickly from the room.
Len sighed into his palms. "Who would do this?" he muttered, hypothetically.
"Well, it wasn't John," Dorian said softly.
Len lifted his head to look at him a moment then nodded. "I'm sorry," he said, "It's been a long night."
"I know," Dorian reassured, "Can I get you something?"
Len frowned and shook his head, then sighed, "Could you get John back in here? I need to apologize for snapping at him. This isn't his fault."
"I'll do that," Dorian said, standing up. Len grabbed his hand and gave it a squeeze. Dorian nodded at him in understanding and left the room, sending Halverson in to sit with Len so he wasn't alone. The young man was happy to oblige, hiding a yawn in his shoulder.
Dorian knew where John would be. He bumped down the stairs to the basement level, one floor above the MX charging corridor. That rarely used hall had a men's room unknown to almost everyone and it was often John's escape from humanity. Once, early in their partnership, Dorian had followed John down to the bathroom and discovered him eating his lunch at the sink.
Dorian entered the bathroom, the lights were off and it was pitch dark. He turned the lights on and sure enough, he could see John in the far end stall, sitting on the dirty floor. "Sweetheart," Dorian said softly, walking to the stall and turning the lock from the outside with his thumbnail. He pulled the door open.
John looked up at him, furiously trying to dry his face. "I let him walk to his car," John said, "Everything I touch turns to disaster."
Dorian turned and locked the door behind him and sat beside John, against his better judgment given the state of the floor, and pulled the man easily into his arms. "That's not true," Dorian whispered.
John leaned into Dorian and clung to him, squeezing his eyes shut, desperate to make this unhappen. He wanted to see Jim again and he knew the statistics for getting someone back after they disappeared were hopelessly low. Koln Avenue was the closest district to the wall. If Jim was on the other side, they'd never see him again. The thought made John's stomach lurch in his throat.
He moaned, his mouth watering as he pushed off of Dorian's chest, closing his eyes and willing himself to not throw up. He couldn't afford to fall apart. He needed to keep his shit together and help find Jim.
He pushed himself up and rose to his feet, grabbed a wad of toilet paper and blew his nose. He unlocked the door and stepped over Dorian so he could get to the sink and wash his face and the back of his neck. John rinsed his mouth and spit into the sink.
"You okay?" Dorian asked, wrapping his arms around John from behind.
John shrugged him off, a steeled look on his face. He turned to look at Dorian with hard eyes, "I have to be." He left the bathroom and Dorian followed, worried.
When John returned to the room where Len was waiting, the doctor got out of his chair. "John," Len said, approaching him swiftly and placing his hands on both of his shoulders, "This isn't your fault. I'm sorry I-"
John cut him off. "Len, don't worry. We need to focus on Jim. I'm not going to stop until we get him back, okay?"
It was a promise that John wasn't sure he could keep, but he needed to believe it, too. Len kept his grip on John's shoulders a few seconds longer then let him go with a pat.
John poured himself a cup of coffee from the overused pot and took a scalding hot sip. He looked at the light wall that held the meager information they had been able to gather. An aerial view of the district, and the parking garage. The blueprints of the parking garage. The footage from the street showing Jim walking into the structure. Jim's 3D identification image with his head rotating slowly on the screen.
"What is the last communication you had from Jim?" John asked, not turning away from the screen, still working on calming himself.
Len dug for his cell phone and handed it over. "A picture message of some filthy street noodle stand. I think he was trying to make me think you guys were actually eating there."
Dorian and John exchanged a look but neither said anything. John looked at the picture and felt his eyes prickle. It was only about eight hours ago that he was there with Jim, laughing and chatting. "I told him to turn his phone back on," John sighed, "as we said goodbye."
"Is there anyone who would want to harm Jim?" Dorian asked.
Len shook his head immediately, "No, I mean, you know Jim. Everyone loves him."
"That's true," John said, "But think about it for a while anyhow."
"Could Jim have been involved in anything without you knowing?" Dorian asked Len, hating the question. "A dispute? A club or group?"
"No," Len said, "I don't think so."
"Can we get access to his social media accounts and his emails?" Dorian asked.
"Sure," Len said, shaking his head as he thought about it, "I don't know the passwords. Maybe he has them written down somewhere at home."
Before John could ask Dorian to work on cracking the passwords, Sandra Maldonado opened the door and entered the space. Her hair was in a bun and she looked exhausted. "Tell me what's happening, John."
As John ran down the events of the past twelve hours, Sandra was shaking her head more and more. "Stop, John, you can't work this case." She held up a hand.
"Like hell I can't," John snapped back. He wasn't in the mood.
Maldonado was also not in the mood. "It's too close to home. It's too personal, John. You can't be the lead detective. I'm putting Paul on the case."
John's fingernails dug into the meaty part of his palms. "You take me off this case and I quit," John threatened. Len got to his feet, this was the last thing he wanted.
He recognized Sandra as one of the few people who ever came to visit John after his accident, even though those visits tapered off quickly, they were back in full force once John woke from his coma. "Please, it isn't worth losing your job, John," Len said.
Sandra looked at Leonard and held out her hand, "Sandra Maldonado."
"Dr. Leonard McCoy," Len shook her hand, "Please, John is the detective I trust to help find Jim."
Not one to mince words, Sandra nodded. She softened her voice a little to talk to the doctor, "I'm just taking him off the lead. He'll still work the case. I just need someone with less emotional attachment in charge of the facts. Trust me, there is a good reason we take these measures."
Len nodded and accepted that. Sandra reeled back on John and said, "My office, now."
She strode out. Once she left John looked for the best thing to punch. The whole room was fucking glass. Dorian stepped in front of him and put hands on both sides of his face. It was just Len in the room with them. "You want to go back to group and talk about anger issues for another six months?" Dorian asked sternly, needing John's full attention.
John heaved a big sigh and closed his eyes to calm himself. Techniques he learned from his last stint in anger management.
"Better," Dorian said, "Go talk to the captain and mind your manners." He pushed John toward the door.
John gave him the finger as he left, making Dorian smirk.
The android turned to Len and said, "Richard Paul is going to ask you hard questions. Questions you may not like. Just answer them to the best of your ability and try not to get offended, there is a method to all of this."
Len nodded, he looked terrible. Dorian sat by his side again and said, "When that is over, I'll take you home so you can rest. You have to take care of yourself for Jim's sake."
Len nodded but didn't imagine he'd be getting much rest anytime soon.
"I'm going to stay with you until we find Jim," Dorian said, "For security. Also, I don't want you to be alone right now."
Len nodded, lifting his eyes as Richard came into the room with a tablet, scanning over the facts. Dorian introduced them and excused himself. He went to go get some breakfast for both John and Len. He had a feeling he was going to have to make sure they were both taking care of themselves until this ordeal was over.
If this ordeal was ever over.
The closet door opened and Jim curled in on himself, instinctively ducking his head down toward his chest to protect himself. The large man crouched over Jim and hauled him up by his shoulders, lifting him out of the closet and dragging him out into a narrow hall. Jim writhed helplessly, his muscles aching from his arms being trapped behind his back. His captor reached down and grabbed a fistful of his blond hair and hauled him down the hallway by his scalp. Jim howled in pain, unable to fight back in any way.
Luckily, they didn't have far to go. He stopped in front of a small bathroom with no windows. The house they were in was run-down, clearly uninhabited. Dumped back onto the floor, Jim whimpered, blinking his eyes in the harsh light. The man stepped over him and produced a knife.
Jim panicked until a heavy booted foot landed in the middle of his chest, pinning him to the ground and making it hard to breathe. The man above him said, in a deep growl of a voice, "Hold still or I will cut you."
Jim held his breath while the rough hands of the man flipped him around and cut through the binds on his arms and then his legs. He was hauled to his feet and slammed against the wall. "Listen kid," the man said, "I'm going to give you two minutes in the bathroom. There is no escape so use your time wisely. You try anything funny, I'll beat you bloody." He threw Jim into the tiny bathroom that consisted of a toilet and a sink with a chunk of the porcelain corner missing. He relieved himself gratefully then then turned to the sink. The water came out brown at first.
Letting the water run a bit, Jim inspected himself in the dirty mirror. His eye was swollen shut on one side and a tremendous bruise had formed on his cheek and around the orbital socket. He touched it and winced in pain. Jim looked all around the room, there was no means of escape but he didn't want to be beaten anymore by the man anyhow. He shoved his pants down enough to look at the spot where he had been kicked. The bruise on his thigh was huge and dark purple.
He pulled his pants up and looked at the water, cupping it in his hands and running it over his face. He was so thirsty from crying that he drank the foul water from his palms, grateful to wet his lips.
The door opened again and he was seized by the wrist, one arm twisting around into the small of his back. Jim was hopeless to fight back against the man who probably weighed three times as much as he did. The man's arms were thicker than Jim's thighs and he seemed impossibly tall.
Jim was pushed into a wooden chair in the run-down kitchen. He was quickly lashed to the chair with handcuffs on his wrists and ankles. He stayed silent during the process, shying away from every movement in fear. Finally the burly man sat down at the kitchen table which was strewn with magazines.
The man ignored him for a long while and finally Jim dared to ask, "What do you...what do you want with me?"
Jim knew the danger of questions. This man reminded him eerily of the foster fathers he'd dealt with in his youth. Brooding, seething, heavy handed men who took advantage of their size and strength against weaker people, less capable of defending themselves. Usually there was a pronounced lack of intelligence in people like this. Ask a man like this the wrong question, or use the wrong tone, and the asker might end up spitting out teeth.
The man shifted his dark eyes up at Jim. He didn't speak, just slapped his knife onto the tabletop, forcing Jim to jump in shock and surprise.
"You know, I have money if it is money you need," Jim started, words pouring out of him quickly and desperately, "You're in luck because you took me and I am married to a doctor and he can help you. He can give you money and help, too, psychological help, physical help, whatever you need to live a normal life. It's just he's not gonna be happy if anything happens to me so if you let me call him, he can come over right now and pick me up and you can meet him and he can give you whatever you need and, oh, he is so nice and he has good solutions for every problem. I bet you'd like him-"
"I know your cocksucking husband," the man interrupted Jim's rant.
Jim clamped his mouth shut, breathing heavily, thinking about the implications of the words. Finally he said in a small voice, "You know Len?"
"He took away something I loved," the man said, his eyes boring holes into Jim, "So now I took something he loves."
Jim hung his head. He thought about Len and what must be happening right now. He couldn't tell how long it had been since he was taken. It probably felt longer than it truly was but for sure Len was worried by now. He was probably sick to his stomach. Tears rolled down Jim's face again thinking about Len and how upset he was going to to be if something happened. He had to get out of this place alive at all costs.
"Let's send him a little message," the man said, picking up his knife and walking over to stand in front of Jim. "Hmmmmm." He slid the knife edge very gently up Jim's cheek, not cutting him. The restricted man shivered and held his breath. The big man's calloused fingers tugged on Jim's left ear, squeezing it while considering. He let that go and moved down to Jim's hand, pulling on his pinky finger and setting the knife edge at the base. Jim winced and looked away in terror, preparing himself for the terrible pain.
However, the pain didn't come. Instead, a rough hand grabbed his hair in the back and yanked his head up. "Don't move," the man threatened, his lips curling around his teeth when he saw the tears on Jim's soft face. He slid the knife edge along Jim's scalp, right along the edge of his hairline, removing a fistful of golden blond hair.
He held the hair in front of Jim's face. "Bet the doctor won't think you're so pretty without this," he said. He set the handful of hair on the table and went in for another, scraping the knife further back until a huge patch of hair was missing on the top of Jim's head.
Jim willed his tears to stop falling but he couldn't. "Quitchyer blubbering," the man said, annoyed.
He pulled out a camera, a polaroid reproduction novelty. Standing in front of Jim, he examined him with a small amount of psychotic glee. He lifted Jim's chin, almost tenderly, to examine his face. He said, "Oh child, I don't think he's even gonna recognize you, the way you look."
Jim pulled his chin out of the man's grip quickly, earning himself a rather hard slap across the mouth. He tasted blood where his teeth cut into his cheek.
"You best learn the rules, boy," his tormentor ground out the words cruelly. He lifted Jim's chin again, less gently than before and said, "Open your mouth." Jim shook with terror and parted his lips reluctantly, a thin trickle of blood making its way down his chin. The man shoved a page of the print newspaper into Jim's mouth to display the date. The blood absorbed into the newspaper along with some of Jim's tears.
"You're leaking like a faucet," He said in disgust, holding up the camera. "Say cheese!" He took the photo and watched as the Polaroid printed out the side. He waved it a few times and held the picture up for Jim to see. He looked like shit. His missing hair looked worse than he imagined and the ghost of the slap on the side of his face mixed with the tears, blood, and the vicious shiner left him looking like something out of a horror movie.
Fresh tears sprang to his eyes. "Not so cute now, are ya?" his kidnapper chuckled.
Jim's mind went straight to Len. That picture was going to kill him when he saw it. His heart broke for his loving husband. "What did Len do to you?" Jim asked with a hitching voice, the tears splashing onto his shirt since he had no way to wipe them off.
"I told you," the man said, "He took something I loved." He grinned at Jim, looking at him like he was a trophy or a statue he had won.
"Can I call him?" Jim asked bravely, desperately.
The man's face fell. He stood up and came around the table to Jim's side and grabbed the back of the wooden chair, tipping it onto two legs. He dragged him down the hallway, still tied to the chair.
As he dragged him, he said, "Boy you gotta learn to keep your mouth shut. I will beat your ass, you little pervert."
Jim felt sick to his stomach at those words. He was shoved back into the closet, still cuffed to the chair. His ankles ached from the jostling of the metal cuffs and his head felt cool where his hair was missing. Back in the pitch black of the closet, Jim felt himself fall apart.
Chapter 8: When Enemies Are At Your Door
The search for Jim continues.
Chapter title comes from the song "Gone Gone Gone" by Phillip Phillips
While You Were Sleeping
Chapter 8: When Enemies Are At Your Door
It was getting dark out and Richard Paul had been questioning McCoy for hours. As per police protocol, Len had to be questioned to rule out his own involvement. There were no leads thus far and every passing moment decreased the possibility that Jim would be recovered. Flying drones all over the city were scanning for Jim’s face in every corner and back alley, even on the other side of the wall.
Dorian had only managed to get a little bit of food down both Len and John, and had to force John to drink some water and lay off the coffee. When Richard called it a day, Len was slumped on the table, his face buried in his arms. John was on the verge of taking up smoking. He was so high strung he could barely stop moving.
Dorian gathered them both and pushed them out to the cruiser. The ride was silent, Len hugged himself around the arms and scoured the sidewalks with his sharp, sad eyes, as if hoping to see Jim walking down the street, looking lost. John stretched out in the back seat, his eyes shining with unshed tears, silently replaying the events of last night in his mind on a constant loop.
When they pulled up to the house, Len looked at it in dismay. Dorian put a hand on his shoulder and said, “You won’t be here alone, Len, we’re staying.”
Len nodded numbly. He knew he should argue that he was fine but he also knew Dorian wasn’t going to relent. Truthfully, he didn’t want to be alone; every single thing inside the house reminded him of Jim. “You are staying too, right, John?” Len asked, turning in his seat.
“No,” John said, “I’m going to head back to the station. Put a few more hours in.” Dorian was shaking his head vehemently.
“The hell you are,” Len said, “Come inside.”
John sat up, smearing his sleeve over his eyes and stretching, “Just for a minute,” he conceded.
Dorian wasn’t arguing yet, but he’d be damned before he let John get hold of the keys.
As they approached the front door, Dorian saw an envelope on the porch. He held out an arm to halt their steps and said, “There is a package. Stay back.”
John marched toward the package much to Dorian’s annoyance. It was small and looked like it could be a bomb. John pulled on black rubber gloves and lifted the envelope up carefully, picking the flap open and peering inside. He turned white and shifted his eyes away from the contents, handing it quickly to Dorian.
Len was twisting his hands together, “What is it?” he begged.
Dorian looked inside and as he pulled out a polaroid, a few strands of loose hair floated toward the ground. Len reached out and caught them, examining the fine blond hairs in horror. He clutched them in his fists while Dorian looked at the photograph and stuck it back in the bag. “In the house,” he said, ushering them toward the front door.
Unable to move, holding the hairs in his grip, John had to tap on Len to get him to palm the door open. Dorian held the door, letting the humans walk numbly inside. Once the door was shut and bolted, Len turned to Dorian and said, “Let me see,” his voice was quaking.
Dorian put his hand on Len’s arm, “You may not want to see this,” he said.
“Show me,” Len said, his eyebrows an ominous ledge above his storming eyes.
John hung back. He was already feeling queasy. He’d been witness to horrific murder scenes in his time but when it came to Jim, he was finding the situation harder to stomach.
Dorian handed the photo over, and pulled out a wad of hair from the envelope. Nothing else was inside; No note or demands.
Len held the picture with shaking hands. Jim looked terrible, badly beaten, abused, and desperately sad. The doctors knees turned to jelly and they hit the ebony wood floor in the foyer. He choked out a noise that was something between a scream and growl, the picture falling from his trembling fingers.
John picked it up and looked at it. He turned and punched his hand through the wall. Shouting, “Fuck!” as he drew his arm out and covered his face with his plaster-dusted hand, the knuckles bloody from the impact.
Dorian took the picture back and slid it into the envelope. Without demands, this package was designed to torment. He needed to order a tap and tracer on Len’s phones.
John remembered his anger management group and tried to think of the mantra he had been forced to memorize. He asked himself if his anger was improving the situation. He decided that he needed to pull himself together or he would only hurt Jim further. Instead, John dropped to his knees in front of Len who had his forehead on the floor, sobbing.
John pulled Len up and wrapped his arms around him while he cried, squeezing him tight.
“He’s alive,” John said, “He’s on this side of the wall.” He repeated the sentiments several times while holding Len. Dorian’s face was lit with blue, analyzing the hair. It was Jim’s. The envelope and picture were coated with DNA smear, to make it impossible to pull prints or identify the last person to handle it.
John coaxed Len up and over to the couch, helping him sit down, and then he went to fetch him a glass of water from the kitchen.
“I need something stronger,” Len said, taking the water.
“Where do you keep it?” John asked, thinking that he could use something stiff as well.
Len waved his hand, “Fucking...I don’t have anything but wine and beer, so fuck it,” tears poured down his face. “Jim would kill me, anyhow.”
John realized Len might have had a problem with alcohol at one point, and decided water was best anyhow. He took a seat beside the doctor and Len found his hand and laced their fingers, giving John’s hand a squeeze. “Thanks,” Len rasped, smearing his eyes on his arm. He noticed John’s knuckles were bloodied from smashing the wall and sighed. “Let me take care of that,” he said.
“Don’t worry ‘bout it,” John shrugged it off.
Len stood up and yanked John up after him, “This is somethin’ I can actually do,” Len said, “Don’t argue with me.” John followed Len to the kitchen and let the doctor fuss over him. When John hissed at the old fashion antiseptic cleaning solution poured into the open wound, Len told him not to be such a baby.
When he wrapped John’s knuckles in gauze and tape, Len started to sniff and cloud up. John watched him carefully. Len finished bandaging John’s hand and let it go gently. “You’re lucky Jim isn’t here to see that hole in the wall,” he said, tears spilling over his eyes, “He’d have a fit, you know?”
“When we get him back, he can shout at me all he likes,” John said.
Len didn’t look great. His forehead was dappled with sweat suddenly and his skin looked blanched. He mumbled something impossible to decipher then his legs gave out and John grabbed him before he could smack his head on the countertop as he fainted. “Len!” John gasped, holding the doctors limp body and struggling to gently lay him on the floor.
Seconds later Len’s eyes popped back open and he looked around. “I fainted?” he muttered, sitting up. “That’s embarrassing.”
John’s eyes were fierce with concern. “I’ll drive you to the hospital,” he said.
“Jesus Christ alone on Christmas,” Len said, pressing his fingers into his eyes with both hands, “I just fainted, it happens. It isn’t dangerous; it’s humiliating.”
John stood up and dragged Len to his feet by his arm. “Look, Doc,” John said, “This is a good thing, believe it or not. He’s hurt but he’s alive...this bought us some time.” Len nodded rotely, the picture was burnt into his memory though and he ached for Jim, desperate to soothe his poor, missing ball of sunshine.
Heaving a deep sigh, John added, “I lost Jim. I’ll find him again.”
Leonard put a hand under John’s stubbled chin, lifting his head, looking at his frightened green eyes. “You didn’t do this, John. Stop blaming yourself.”
John backed away from the touch and nodded. The last thing he needed to do was add to Len’s worry. He said, “Sure, Len. You should sit down, though. You just passed out.”
Dorian was sweeping the house and perimeter. He couldn't shake the feeling that the kidnapper was doing this for his own enjoyment. It didn’t bode well for Jim’s safety that there was no ransom demand in the envelope. As he wandered the house, Dorian noticed that there were pictures on every wall and surface. Much like the scrapbook, Jim kept their lives well documented and photographed.
As he reached the bottom of the stairs, Dorian admired a picture of Jim and Len on a sailboat, their hair blowing in the wind. Jim wore a colorful pair of topsiders with no socks and Dorian swore he’d seen them before.
Then it dawned on the DRN like a lightning bolt striking his circuits. He rushed to find Len, finding John and him in the kitchen. “Doctor!” Dorian said, “What is the name of the disgruntled patient who stole Jim’s picture from your office?”
Len’s eyes grew wide. “Of course,” he said, “Of course, Dorian, it has to be him!”
John looked back and forth between them, wondering what they were talking about. Len looked for the details on the man’s name while Dorian filled John in on the trespassing stranger.
“His name is Bruce Dekker,” Len said, looking at his phone.
“Let’s roll,” John said, holding out his hand for the keys.
“We’re staying with Len tonight,” Dorian reminded, “We’ll call Paul and have him send a team over. You need water and rest, both of you.”
John nodded in agreement which shocked Dorian nearly to death. “I’ll make the call,” John said, “You help Len upstairs.” He leaned in and gave his android husband a kiss.
Dorian nodded, grabbing a bottled water out of the fridge and handing it to the doctor. They climbed the stairs together. John smiled and grabbed a bottle of water too, and looked at the cruiser keys in his hand, having plucked them expertly from Dorian’s coat pocket.
He slipped out into the dark of the night, eager to get to the cruiser. John sat in the car and pushed the ignition button. Nothing happened. He dug the key fob out and tapped it on the dash and hit the start button once again. Nothing.
The door opened, nearly scaring John out of his wits. It was just Dorian. “Sweetheart, I deactivated it,” the DRN explained. He yanked John out of the car. “I called Paul and gave him the information. Get in the house.”
John sighed and handed the deactivated key fobs to Dorian who palmed them into his pocket. As they walked back to the house, John eyeballed Len’s blue Jaguar in the driveway and Dorian smacked his ass and said, “Don’t even think about it.”
They locked up the house and John opted to sleep in his boxers, not wanting to disturb Leonard, who was already in bed, just to borrow a set of pajamas. He didn’t think he’d be able to sleep with everything going on but the moment John’s head hit the pillow in the plush guest bed, he was snoring.
Len tossed a while before drifting off from pure exhaustion. Dorian plugged himself in to the portable charger and sat in the hallway between Len and John’s rooms. He would keep watch tonight, his mind on Jim, wishing he could have tucked him in, too, on this terrible night. Wherever he was, Dorian wished him comfort but knew it was too much to hope for.
Jim was stiff and aching from sleeping in the wooden chair. His head had no where to rest so it flopped on his shoulder, making his whole body hurt when he woke with a start. His neck was so sore that he could barely turn his heavy head.
The long night was the worst in his memory. His hope of survival had dwindled slowly to nothing as he realized the man who took him was taking so much pleasure in his pain. His face ached with every blink and the slightest movement had him gasping.
The closet door flung open and the meaty hand on the back of his chair tipped him and dragged him out and down the hall. Jim could do nothing to defend himself so he was simply along for the ride. The man dropped the chair legs in front of the bathroom and uncuffed him, fixing Jim in a mean glare as a reminder that he had no means of escape and an attempt would result in an inordinate amount of pain. Jim felt dizzy on his legs as he was slammed into the bathroom.
He didn’t recognize himself in the mirror, turning on the water to splash his face and scrub off the dried blood that crusted on his skin beneath his lips. He relieved himself and washed in the sink as best he could, dragging the water up his arms to the elbow. He felt filthy and clammy, the stench of this house settled deep into his pores.
When the door opened again, he was manhandled down the hall and into the kitchen, forced back onto the chair. His legs were re-cuffed but his arms were left free. He flinched at every movement of the big man.
The man stood by the old stove, the surface coated with the thick film of grease and food from years of neglect. He fired up the burner and Jim shifted uncomfortably. His mind reeled at the possible ramifications of a hot surface. He thought he might vomit when he realized that his hands were left free, possibly so they could be pressed into the coils.
All he wanted was to hear Len’s voice once more before he died, so he could tell him not to break apart. Not to start drinking again and waste away to nothing. Not to throw his talent for medicine in the trash over losing him. He knew, however, that his death would be the death of both of them. The thought made hot tears sting in his swollen, weary eyes. He didn’t think he’d had any tears left in him.
The terrible man pulled out a pan and set it on the burner, slicing a few pats of butter into the sizzling heat. He cracked several eggs into the pan and pushed them around with a spoon he picked up out of the grease on the stovetop. Jim felt his mouth water and couldn’t tell if it was from hunger or nausea.
When the man set the plate of greasy eggs in front of him, Jim looked up at him.
"Eat," the tyrant barked.
Jim looked at the somewhat scrambled, somewhat cooked eggs and felt his stomach turn.
The man seemed to be waiting and Jim swallowed the sick feeling in his throat and held his fingers awkwardly over the plate.
"What's the matter?" the man demanded, gesturing wildly, "Oh, does the princess need a fork?" he mocked. He stalked over to his own plate and picked up the fork he had been using and stuck it in his mouth, closing his lips around it and pulled it out 'clean.' Then he tossed it onto Jim's plate.
With shaking fingers, Jim picked up the filthy utensil and stabbed at a portion of eggs, bringing them slowly to his mouth. He chewed the eggs quickly and swallowed the first bite, steeling himself, willing himself not to throw up. Something told him it would result in a beating.
The man stood so near to him, he could feel his heat.The man’s body odor was ripe. Though, Jim wondered how he smelled right now and couldn’t imagine it was much better.
The feeling of looming authority at the table gave Jim a deep shudder. He thought back to when he was ten years old and living in a home with several other foster children where dinner meant silent eating and clean plates. HIs foster-mother used to let her cigarette ash fall into whatever pot she was stirring as she chained lethargically in front of the stove. He remembered with renewed clarity the terror surrounding mealtime in that house and the way his forehead rebounded off the wooden edge of the table when he dared to backtalk his cantankerous foster-father.
Jim shook off the memory and ate as quickly as possible, realizing that he needed the sustenance. The fact that the man was feeding him was a good sign. It meant he wanted to keep him alive, for now.
When he had cleaned his plate, forcing himself to keep the food down, the man took his dish away and set it by the stove. Jim tried not to think about the fact that the thing probably hadn’t been washed in a long time. He stared at the floor, knowing that the wrong look could set the crazy man off. As much as he hated the closet, sitting in the kitchen with his captor was worlds worse.
The bull of a man sat down in a chair on the other side of the beat up round dining table that nearly filled the whole space in the old country kitchen. Jim’s eyes darted stealthily to the window. He saw trees and assumed he was in one of the agro districts, out in the country.
“Even if you knew where you were, what could you do about it?” the man chuckled. “Who you gonna tell, kid?”
Jim lowered his lids again then looked up at the man, his one visible blue eye rimmed in red and swollen from sadness. “Did you send that picture to Len, sir?” he asked slowly, the sound of his own voice foreign in his ears.
“What should we send him next?” the man asked, chuckling, “Name’s Bruce.”
Bruce. Jim had a name for his hatred.
“I promise if he hurt you, he didn’t mean to, Bruce,” Jim choked out.
“I saw your little play,” Bruce said, as if he couldn’t hear Jim when he spoke. “I bet it was easy for you to play that little prince. That big house, fancy car, money bags husband. I bet you get whatever you want whenever you want it.”
Jim shrunk his shoulders, unhappy with the direction of this conversation. It made him shiver to imagine Bruce in the audience of his little theater.
“Oh dear,” the man said sarcastically, “You have a performance tonight, don’t you?” He winced. “The show must go on, though, right?”
He stood up and loomed in front of Jim again, forcing the young man to blink rapidly in fear. He picked up Jim’s left arm by the wrist, holding too tight to the limb. He looked at Jim’s fingers, zeroing in on his wedding band. It was gorgeous gold with a row of small diamonds down the middle, spanning the entire circumference. Bruce whistled low and said “Fan-cee!” as he worked it roughly off Jim’s finger.
“Please,” Jim cried, feeling the symbol of his marriage slip off his slender digit.
“Let’s send this back to the good doctor and save him some money,” Bruce suggested, his lips curling happily around his brown teeth, “The show must go on. He can give this to his new boy.”
Jim felt tears splash on his face again. His emotional well being was easy to assault and Bruce was a master. He felt the eggs and grease churn in his belly and sat forward quickly, placing his head between his knees in an attempt to calm himself.
“You’re getting a little too old for McCoy anyhow,” Bruce said, stroking Jim’s hair in the back, where he still had golden locks. The tender finger strokes send goosepimples across Jim’s body and he held his breath, waiting for the big man to stop touching him.
When he finally moved away, Jim sat up and watched Bruce drop his wedding ring into an envelope. “We’ll take a special photo for him later,” the big man taunted with a portentous leer.
Jim wiped at his face with his free hands, staring at the white band of skin where his ring sat for the past ten years.
John woke with a start from a nightmare where he was flailing in dark waters, his leg too heavy to move, dragging him down and making it hard to escape the predators in the water. He sat up in the foreign sheets, looking around the overly decorated Kirk-McCoy guest room. The memory of their current predicament flooded him. He prefered the dream terror over this waking nightmare.
He left the bed and stooped to pick his clothes up from the floor, pulling his pants back on. He sniffed at his shirt and sighed, pulling that on, too. He exited the bedroom and breathed in the smell of coffee brewing and something sweet cooking. Entereing the kitchen, he found Dorian scraping pancakes off the griddle, stacking them onto a plate for Halverson, who was in his officer’s uniform and seated at the bar. Len was in the nook, holding a cup of coffee, reading his cell-o and looking sour.
John’s hair stuck up in every direction, so it was no different than any other day. He zeroed in on the coffee, pouring himself a cup and checking his watch. “Halverson,” he said, nodding to the young man who always seemed to get stuck with them. He wondered how the kid felt about that, but he always seemed obnoxiously, genuinely happy.
“Detective Kennex,” Halverson smiled. “Good morning.”
John took a bitter sip of coffee and stared at the young man. He walked over to Len and sat across from him. Len had a half eaten stack of pancakes and an untouched bowl of fruit. John reached his hand across and patted Len’s.
Dorian brought John his breakfast and set the plates down saying, “Eat and then we can go.”
“Why’s Halverson here?” John asked.
“He’s going to stay with Len while we’re on the case today,” Dorian said.
“What did they find last night?” John asked, all business.
“Eat,” Dorian said.
John glowered at him from the booth but Dorian walked away, sitting by Halverson and talking to him. John looked at the syrup bottle, it was sugar-free. He quirked an eyebrow at Len who shrugged and said, “I’m a doctor.”
John shook his head and jammed a quarter of a pancakes into his face. Len watched in horror but was reminded a little of Jim. “You’ll choke,” he scolded.
John chewed quickly, eager to get to the station and find out what happened when the team raided Bruce Dekker’s house.
He shoveled his food down and gulped at his coffee. Len was feeling hopeless today and watching John scarf his food down did nothing to improve his confidence in the search.
John finished his pancakes and began to slide out of the booth when Len slammed his Cell-o down on the table. John stopped, looking at the doctor who’s hands trembled. “Len?” he asked.
“The hell am I supposed to do today? Sit here and wring my goddamned hands?”
Dorian came over and put his hand on Len’s shoulder, “Stay by your phone. We’ve got everything wired. We need you to be here so we know where you are. It will feel like you are doing nothing, but this is really where we need you to be. The person who has him may make a demand soon.”
John nodded, feeling so bad for Len. He put his hand on top of his and said, “Try to stay calm. We won't withhold information from you Len. As soon as we learn anything, you will too.”
“Even if it’s bad,” Len wasn’t asking, he was telling.
“Promise,” John said,
Len nodded, “Get out of here then,” he sighed, “Waiting is killing me.”
John nodded and got up out of the booth, giving Len’s hand a final squeeze before following Dorian out the door to the cruiser.
While You Were Sleeping
Chapter 9: So Show Me Why You're Strong
Shortly after arriving to the station for the day, Dorian received a call from Richard Paul, asking them to come to Bruce Dekker's home. The overnight raid team still hadn't returned from their mission.
"Did his wife have any details?" Dorian asked.
"You could say that," Richard said, a chuckle in his voice before he hung up.
News crews were already in the yard when John and Dorian rolled up to the house. Even though he knew it wasn't the way these things worked, John felt his heart thump in hope that Jim was in the house and the news crews were interviewing him
They breezed through the police cordon, facial rec displaying their credentials in the air for a brief moment. There was a familiar, thick odor in the air as they entered, and right away, John knew they would find a body inside. He felt bile lurch up his esophagus and pushed the feeling down. The curdled blood on the kitchen floor was spread all around the body of Dekker's wife. She had been beaten to death with the man's fists, and forensics estimated that he'd continued to beat the body long after the death.
John felt an uneasy relief in his chest that it wasn't Jim, followed by a new sense of dread. He cringed at the grotesque sight. The room was full of flies and Richard Paul walked up and stood beside them, staring down at the pulp of human life that laid out before them.
"She's been dead for a while, before Mr. Kirk-McCoy was taken," Paul said, "What a fucking mess."
John nodded, "The guy's a psycho, obviously. Anyone who would do this." He gestured to the puddle that was once a woman.
They spent a few hours looking through the house with gloved hands, turning up almost nothing in the cluttered wreck of a home. It was filthy, with stacks of junk in every corner.
Paul gave John a side-long glance, "You know your friend…" he paused, thinking of the right words, "The chances that we'll find him alive…"
"I know," John ground out the words. He needed fresh air so he pivoted on his heels and left the scene.
"Any clues as to where the guy might be?" Dorian asked Paul.
The short detective shrugged his shoulders and shook his head, "If he's smart, he's halfway to Mexico by now."
Dorian followed out to find John, who was in the backyard looking a little queasy. He placed a hand on John's shoulder, but received a call from Halverson saying another package had been delivered to the McCoy's front door. No one saw it dropped, of course.
"Let's go," John said, "We can come back once the body has been cleaned up. I want to sweep for evidence but I don't want to do it with the….with Mrs. Dekker there."
Dorian nodded, "Let's get back to Len's and see what's in the new package."
When they arrived back at Len's home, Halverson met them at the door looking a bit over his head. "We noticed it after lunch," he said, his voice a little shaken up, "I didn't see or hear anything. I wanted him to wait but he-"
John pushed past the young officer and Dorian smiled at Halverson and patted his shoulder, softly saying, "It's okay, son."
Len was at the nook in the kitchen, his head buried in his arms. Dorian approached him slowly. His boots crunching on the kitchen floor, He put a hand on the back of Len's neck. In front of him was a gold ring and a polaroid picture of Jim, lying on a linoleum floor in his underwear, the same underwear Len had peeled off his body in the kitchen only a week ago. His body was bruised all over and his face was turned away from the camera. His ankles and wrists were chafed and dark with marks from being bound.
John couldn't stand the sight and turned away, gulping at the air silently.
Dorian grimaced at the picture and turned it over on the table. He looked at the ring in dismay as well and asked, "Was there a note this time?"
Len shook his head no, still not lifting his eyes from the fabric of his sweatshirt sleeves.
Dorian saw John shaking and put a sturdy hand on his shoulder to stabilize him. His other hand remained on Leonard, running finger across the back of his head, deep against his scalp to soothe him.
"He's trying to hurt you," Dorian said in a low voice. He looked around the kitchen and saw that the floor was covered with broken glass and shards of porcelain. The walls were nicked and glass in the cabinet doors was fractured and falling. It was clear that Leonard hadn't taken this well.
"It's working," Len said, his voice muffled by his arms and the table, heavy with emotion. "I'm hurt."
Those words cut through John like a hot knife through butter. He jerked and staggered forward, stumbling over the broken shards under his boots and out onto the back porch slamming the sliding glass doors shut behind him.
"Dr McCoy was really upset," Halverson said, gesturing to the kitchen apologetically, "I couldn't...I couldn't calm him down."
"It's okay," Dorian said, reassuring the young officer again, but staring in the direction John went, distracted.
"Um, his feet," Halverson added, gesturing weakly.
Dorian looked under the table and saw Len's bare feet. They were dripping blood onto the floor and stuck with slivers of glass.
Dorian shook his head and grabbed paper towels. He said to Halverson, "Find a broom, kiddo, see if you can start sweeping up this mess." It wasn't in the job description, but the young man didn't mind. He went off to poke through logical closets for a broom and dustpan.
No longer capable of juggling the raw human emotion from both Leonard and John, the fear of losing Jim, and his own synthetic soul's desire to crumple in despair, Dorian broke the protocol of police work, male friendship, and personal space. He scooped Len up in his arms and carried him out of the kitchen and up the stairs, catching the blood drips under his punctured feet with the paper towels.
He sat Len on the marble countertop in his master bathroom and turned on the faucet in the sink until the water was hot. He dragged the sweatshirt up over Len's head, taking the undershirt with it. Running a washcloth under the faucet, Dorian handed it to Len and said, "Put this on your face," in the calmest, softest tone he could manage. Len obeyed numbly, letting the hot cloth cover him from his forehead to his chin.
Dorian dug through the bathroom drawer until he found a pair of tweezers and he dipped down to examine Len's feet, pulling the tiny-and some not so tiny-glass from where they stuck in his skin.
It wasn't as bad as all the blood had made it look. Scanning his feet for any more damage, Dorian was satisfied that all the glass was out and he wrapped Len's feet in gauze from the first aid kit under the sink. "How about a nice warm bath?" Dorian asked.
Len lifted his heavy head up from the washcloth. His eyes were red and desperate. "Bruce Dekker...did you talk to him?" he demanded, his voice strained.
"No," Dorian said softly, "But I think he is the one who has Jim. We found his wife dead in his kitchen this morning."
"He's going to kill JIm," Len said, looking past Dorian at nothing.
"Not if we can find him first," Dorian said, attempting to calm the man. "How about a bath? To help calm-"
Len cut him off. "He's abused him now, physically, probably sexually, too," he let his head sink again, a sob in his throat, "My sweet Jim."
Dorian pulled Len into his arms and held him, feeling the doctor grip onto him tight while his body shook hard from silent weeping. Dorian picked Len up again, and carried him to his bedroom, tucking him into the bed. "Is there someone I can call?" Dorian asked, "Someone you'd like to have here, to sit with you?"
Len shook his head.
"Your mother? A sibling? A friend?" Dorian prodded. He needed to get back on this case but leaving Len alone right now wasn't an option.
Len shook his head again and rolled his skull into his pillow, curling his body into a curve.
"I'll be right back," Dorian said, brushing a hand up Len's forehead and through his hair.
Dorian went down the stairs and past the kitchen where Halverson was sweeping up glass. He strode out to the backyard and found John slumped near the back fence, sitting on the box that hid the pool filter. He was smearing a hand at his face.
When Dorian approached, John said, "I can't do this anymore, Dee." From the looks of John's shirt, he had clearly thrown up.
"We need to get back out there and keep searching," Dorian said. Len was allowed to fall apart right now, but the android needed his husband to stay strong, stay a detective for Jim's sake.
"Fucking fat lot of good that will do," John said, pressing a hand against his own chest a moment and closing his eyes like he was battling another wave of nausea. "You know and I know that he's gonna torture and rape and beat Jim," he paused again to fight the sickness, "And then he's gonna kill him. If we get close, he'll kill him even faster. Don't fucking tell me otherwise."
Dorian had heard about enough. He pulled John to his feet and held him at an arms length. Lifting John's chin with his fingers, Dorian pressed his lips into a hard line while examining his tall, human partner. "Jonathan Reginald Kennex," his voice was an even, rational keel but with an edge of seriousness. "Jim is out there somewhere. He is alone and hurt and frightened. He isn't dead so don't you go burying him yet. It's our job to find him because we are all he has got. You can fall to pieces over this when it is over. You can cry, and get sick, and stay in bed for days and I will indulge you. But right now, I need you to snap the fuck out of it and step up, for Jim's sake. Right this minute, or you'll hate yourself for the rest of your life."
The words sobered John's emotional state and brought him back from the metaphorical ledge he was teetering on. "You're right," he whispered, casting his eyes downward.
"I know I am," Dorian said, giving John a kiss on the cheek and a slap on the back.
Dorian knew John was going to start beating himself up for breaking down, so he jumped right back into business. "Paul needs to know about the package with the ring and the picture. We need to do another sweep of the Dekker home, and someone needs to stay with Len. I'm afraid he isn't doing very well right now."
"You stay," John said, nodding to himself as he made the decision. "I need to go home and change clothes, then I'll go back over to the Dekker place, it should be less busy now, and I'll take a look around."
"You shouldn't go alone," Dorian said, unsure of this plan.
John let his mouth twitch slightly at Dorian's concern. "I will go home and change, sweep the house, then come back here to you with anything I find. I promise."
"Take Halverson with you," Dorian said in a non-negotiable tone.
"No," John said, in a similar fashion. He hefted the keys in his hand and turned to walk to the house.
Dorian caught his elbow and turned John back around, kissing him. "Take Halverson," he warned, then made a face, "And brush your teeth."
John wrenched himself free and walked few feet to the house. Then he paused and sighed, turned to his husband and said, "Thanks, Dee."
As John disappeared through the sliding glass doors, Dorian said, "I love you, too." and followed him inside.
Dorian headed up the stairs to check on Len while John locked himself in the bathroom to wash his face and dab the vomit off his shirt. He stole a swig of mouthwash and spit into the sink, standing up to look at himself in the mirror. He was ashamed for falling apart out there but seeing Jim looking so beaten and frightened clouded his vision.
He shifted his eyes away from his own mirror image in disgust and slammed out of the bathroom and out of the house, leaving Halverson in the kitchen with his impossible chore.
Dorian watched John peel out of the driveway by himself and shook his head. Len was sound asleep in his bed and Dorian lowered himself into a chair in the large room and quietly kept watch.
Jim was still shaking in the bottom of the closet where he'd been thrown. He was still in nothing but his underwear. Bruce's demand that he strip for a picture had drained the last of the fight out of him. He knew what Len would think when he saw that horrible polaroid. The thought of Len's pain made Jim's stomach hurt and he curled into the fetal position despite the cuffs keeping his arms behind his back.
Eager to deliver the photo, Bruce had cuffed Jim quickly and dumped him in the closet before leaving. Jim laid in a heap, not even crying, just staring at the sliver of light that came from under the door, illuminating the dirty carpet fibers in front of his battered face.
His stomach flipped over when he heard Bruce return. The bear of a man was in a good mood, whistling to himself, which was utterly terrifying.
When the door flung to the closet flung open, Bruce put his hands on his hips and stared down at the young man huddled inside. "Sitting around in your underwear, eh boy?" he boomed, his clammy mits circling Jim's arms and lifting him to his feet. "Lazy!" he said into Jim's ear, causing a twitch.
Lazy. Jim hated the word on an atomic level, with every vibrating cell that comprised his being. Lazy was hurled at him all through his youth. It was an easy way to cut a young man down to size, to suggest he wasn't worth his own time, that he wasn't pulling his own weight. People who accused laziness were prone to moral superiority. He'd had the word lazy etched on his soul when he was a child, and it took ten years to wash that feeling away. It only took ten seconds to bring it back in full force.
His feet were unshackled and he was walked to a new room in the house. It was piled high with pizza boxes, newspapers, and beverage cans. The living room, Jim guessed, looking at a filthy couch, fallen on one side from a collapsed frame. There an even dirtier reclining chair neary and an actual physical television. Jim hadn't seen a flat screen television in years, everyone was using light screen these days.
Bruce took the cuffs off Jim's arms and pressed him down onto the couch. "If you sit here like a good boy while I go get them, I'll let you have your clothes back," the man's foul breath in his face made Jim wrinkle his nose involuntarily.
"I will," Jim eked out, his voice a scratch of what it once was.
"If you move," Bruce said, not needing to finish his sentence. Jim flattened himself against the couch. It was the first soft surface he'd sat at in a while and his aching body sank into the stained fabric gratefully.
Bruce returned with his clothes from the kitchen and stood there while Jim dressed. When he was done, he cuffed Jim's hands in front of him and then settled his massive frame into the reclining chair. He turned on the television, looking over his shoulder at Jim with a sick grin, as if he wanted the young man to feel privileged and happy that he was allowed to watch the television.
"I bet you'll be on the news tonight," Bruce said, his eyebrows jumping up into his hairline.
Jim didn't react. he didn't move. He was happy to be back in his filthy clothes and on the filthy couch. His head thrummed like a powertool, the heachache started in the middle of his shoulder blades to the top his dome. He felt like someone had split his skull.
The television flickered to life, the image saturated with color as the old televisions often were. Bruce put on a sitcom Jim vaguely knew from commercials and nestled back into his chair to watch, belly laughing at the stupidest jokes. Occasionally, he would laugh hard and glance at Jim, who forced himself to crack a smile.
Jim hoped with all his might that the man might fall asleep. If he did, then he would make a run for it. With just his hands cuffed in front of him, this may be his only chance to survive. The prospect make him perk up just a little bit.
John entered the house, feeling like he'd been gone for a very long time. In reality, it had only been a little over a day and a half since Dorian and he had rushed out the door in the middle of the night, worried sick about Jim. Still, the space felt forbidden at the moment. With Jim still missing, Len melting down, and Dorian sitting with the doctor for his own safety, it felt wrong to be in the comforts of home even for a quick change.
John brushed his teeth first, scrubbing at his mouth with his toothbrush to clear out the terrible taste of his own stomach. He moved into the bedroom to change and a little bit of blue sticking out from under the unmade bed caught his attention. He bent down and plucked it up off the floor, staring at the little teddy bear Jim had brought him after his surgery, a little blue plastic leg on one side to represent the synthetic leg John wore.
He had been so mean to Jim that day, suggesting that he get lost. John sat on the bed and clutched the soft bear to his chest, feeling his eyes prickle and grow misty as he held the silly toy. He leaned down onto the bed and hugged the bear and himself, despair creeping in and covering him like a lead blanket.
It wasn't fair that Jim was taken. John wished with all his might that he could take his place and spare his new friends this terrible pain.
John knew from personal experience how easy it would be to turn off his feelings, crawl into bed, and stay there until it was all over, until they recovered Jim or Jim's corpse. He knew Dorian would come home to him and even still love him. He hated himself for letting Jim walk to that parking garage alone. He couldn't imagine how deep his hatred would run if he let himself shut out the world right now.
"Fuck this," John said, getting up and setting the bear on the bed. He grabbed his keys, not bothering to change his clothes, and left the shelter of his apartment. He didn't care if he smelled like vomit and two days worth of sweat, he had a lot of work to do if he had any hope of fixing his mistakes.
Another difficult chapter. We promise they will get easier. Thanks for sticking with us as we tell this story!
Title from this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p6PcFFUm5I
Retrograde by James Blake
Chapter 10: Share in your Suffering
While You Were Sleeping
Chapter 10: Share in your Suffering
John entered the Dekker house and found the investigation teams had gone home for the day. The body was cleaned up but the smell lingered. The floor of the kitchen was stained dark from the blood and John avoided walking on those parts of the floor as he started his slow but thorough search.
He upended kitchen drawers and read the notes on the fridge. He went into the bedroom and concluded that Bruce was a big man from the size of this clothes. He pawed through drawers and stacks of boxes. He found an office with a filing cabinet and rifled through the mess of papers within, looking for a deed to another property or land.
Hours later, and John was coated in sweat, ripping boxes out of closets and upending them into the middle of the cluttered rooms. He kicked at sentimental shit and tore at the neglected, leaning, soggy stacks of papers like a man possessed.
He reached a room at the end of the hall and found two small beds and a plethora of girly toys piled in heaps of pink and purple plastic. It hit John in the gut that these people had children in their lives not too long ago. He knew there was nothing to be found in this room and bumped back down the stairs. There was a storage shed in the meager back yard and he went out to check it, finding a padlock securing the doors. He rattled the handles angrily then retreated to the garage to find a tool that could smash the doors open.
The sun was setting and the yard was already growing dark. John found a hammer in the garage, skirting around the car parked inside, taking up the only space left that wasn't filled with useless crap, piled to the ceiling. He took the hammer out to the shed and beat at the lock until the wood on the doors splintered under the impact. If felt really good to hit something.
John pulled out his cell phone and used a flashlight app to illuminate the small, space. Inside there were gardening tools and a riding lawn mower. He frowned at the typical garden shed and let the hammer slip out of his hand. He walked back in the house and heaved a sigh.
John leaned against the kitchen counter and looked at the stain on the floor, the only thing left of the mystery woman who shared her life with a man so capable of true evil. "Help me find the motherfucker, lady," he pleaded to the kitchen, to the stain, to no one at all.
He stood up and opened the fridge, hoping for a bottled water. Instead, he was assaulted with the pungent smell of rotting food, packed so tight in the shelves that it was barely kept cool. His stomach was already sensitive from his emotional breakdown. He staggered back into a small table by the door that held a glass bowl. It fell to the floor, shattering against the ruined kitchen boards and sending the contents skittering throughout the room.
John patted his chest, startled. He looked down at the wreckage and saw a set of keys in front of his boots. He bent down and picked them up, pressing the lock button on the fob. A beep sounded from the garage and John went out to look at the car. It was an older model, probably a 2040 or earlier, with bald tires and two carseat in the backseat. It was badly in need of a wash, John discovered as he slid around the vehicle to reach the driver's side. his black pants and shirt were smeared with road dust.
Unlocking the vehicle, John climbed inside. He pressed the start button watched the dash light up. The center console was out of date but the screen shone with bright letters, "Enter Address."
John ran a tongue over his dry lips and held his breath as he poked the button that read, "Previous destinations." A list of addressed filled the screen, containing various stores and one for the courthouse downtown. There was one address in particular that stuck out to John. It was in an agro district.
He dug out his phone and spoke the address into Google, pulling up the satellite and street view. It was an eerie little farm house with boarded windows and graffiti on the outside.
"Fucking got you," John said.
When Len woke in his bed, Dorian was still by his side. It had grown dark out while he slept. He peered in the low light at the DRN in the chair, charging and waiting patiently, watching over him.
"Len?" Dorian asked, turning on the light beside his chair.
The doctor slipped out of the covers, staring at his bandaged feet, the memory of his episode in the kitchen flooding back to him. His heart felt like a rock in his chest and his eyes were welts from crying. He winced as he stood on his feet, hissing at the first few steps toward the bathroom as he put pressure on thin cuts from the glass.
Dorian disconnected from his charging cord and stood up, checking the window to see if John had returned yet. His car wasn't in the driveway. He silently called John's phone but it went to voicemail.
He didn't want to worry the captain but he thought he ought to update her on the situation. He dialed in to the station, opting to perform the call internally while listening to Len turn on the shower.
"Talk to me, Dorian," Maldonado said, still in her office despite the late hour.
"Wanted to give you a head's up on the current situation," Dorian said, "John is over at the Dekker house, scouring for clues of where the guy could be holed up."
"You aren't with him," she said, sounding vaguely surprised and a little disappointed. Police protocol demanded all human officers perform their duties with android partners. All of the time, not some of the time.
"Dr. McCoy is struggling," Dorian said, hesitantly. His relationship with Sandra was strong and he considered her a friend outside of work. However, at work he understood she was all business. "We had reason to suspect he might self-harm. John insisted on going and I deemed it safe enough."
"But you're calling for a reason," Sandra said, cutting right to the chase.
"He's not answering his phone," Dorian admitted, "I'm not worried yet. We haven't been home in a while. I think the battery may have died."
"I could send an MX," Sandra said, actively thinking. "No, look, Dorian, if you haven't heard from him in an hour, open his location and go get him. Can you do that without danger to Dr. McCoy?"
Dorian was grateful, "Yes, Captain. That's a reasonable solution."
"Good," Maldonado said coolly, "Don't let this become a habit. John...John needs his android partner by his side more than most officers." The last bit, Dorian could hear the slight smile in her voice.
"A statement I cannot argue against," Dorian said warmly. "Thank you, Captain."
"Dorian," Sandra said, her voice gentle now, "I hope you find Jim. I'm worried about John if you don't."
A long pause wedged between them before Dorian quietly said, "Me too."
"Take care of them," Maldonado said affectionately, "Keep me in the loop." She cut the line and Dorian nodded to himself.
Len came back into the bedroom wrapped in a towel. "Are your feet okay?" Dorian asked.
"I'm fine," Len said, pulling an undershirt over his head. "My own damned fault." He dropped his towel and pulled on a pair of underwear and his jeans, not thinking much about Dorian being in the room until he turned around and saw the android staring at the far wall like a gentleman. "Dressed," he said, "sorry."
"You need to eat," Dorian said, putting an arm around the man and giving him a squeeze. "Come on down stairs."
Len nodded and followed. Right now, it was easier to just have someone tell him what to do so he didn't have to think too hard. When they got downstairs, Halverson was at the bar in the kitchen, his head on his arms, sound asleep. There wasn't a piece of broken glass to be found anywhere in the whole house.
Dorian smiled and placed a hand on the young man's back. Halverson woke with a jerk and gasp. "Sorry sir," he said, a blush creeping up his cheeks, "I must have nodded off." A pained look passed his face.
"It's okay, Danny," Dorian smiled, squeezing the kid's shoulder reassuringly, "Your shift ended hours ago. I'm so sorry, I thought you'd gone home."
"I don't mind," the young man said.
Len leaned his elbows on the counter and said, "Thanks for cleaning up all the glass kid. It wasn't your job to do all that."
"Protect and," Danny Halverson was taken prisoner by a massive yawn, "...serve."
"How about some dinner?" Dorian asked, "Making a stir fry."
Danny smiled and shook his head softly, "I gotta get home, my mom is probably worried sick."
Len's eyebrows shot up.
"I mean, girlfriend?" Halverson said, kicking himself.
"Scoot," Dorian grinned, "Drive safe. Lucky you, for having a mom who worries."
"Secret is safe with me," Dorian winked, "I wont tell my gossip of a husband. Promise." The android knew that John would just love to torture Halverson with mommy jokes. Halverson knew that, too.
"Thanks," Danny said, grabbing his things. He turned and waved, "I'm sorry, Dr. McCoy, I hope we find Jim soon."
Len waved back and watched the young man out to his car before bolting the front door again. "Nice kid," he remarked.
Dorian was busy in the kitchen. Len sat at the bar and watched Dorian prepare food for him, feeling useless. He leaned on his elbows and asked, "Where is John?"
"Good question," Dorian said, his face flashing blue as he dialed his husband. The call went straight to voicemail. He made a sour face, "He went to go search the Dekker home. I told him to take Halverson with him, dammit."
Len's stomach felt sick at the thought of anyone in that man's house. "He's alone? What if the guy comes home or something?"
Dorian flicked his eyes up, realizing that his worry was causing Len to worry more. The poor guy didn't need that right now. "John can handle himself," the DRN reassured, "He's got his weapon and he's good in the field."
The doctor nodded numbly. Dorian set a cup of tea in front of Len in a plastic cup. Most of the mugs and plates and glasses didn't survive the kitchen episode. When he served up the stir fry, it was in a large metal bowl. Len blushed and took a bite. If Dorian wasn't here, he'd be driving to the liquor store right now to drown in his pain. He was grateful and resentful all at once for his glorified babysitter.
When it was finally time for the evening news, Jim was yawning heavily. He hadn't slept properly in over 48 hours and the soft couch cushions threatened his escape plans. Bruce, however, showed no signs of fatigue.
The news began and Jim watched sleepily, his mind wandering while the newscasters delivered reports on weather, sports, and traffic intermixed with friendly banter. When he heard his own name, his eyes snapped to the screen. "Local man, James Kirk-McCoy, was reported missing Saturday morning and has yet to be found," he saw a picture of himself on the screen. He recognized it as one of Len's favorites and swallowed hard, imagining his beloved husband trying to select the best photograph to hand over for the story.
"The main suspect in Mr. Kirk-McCoy's disappearance is Mr. Bruce Dekker, who is also a wanted suspect in the murder of his wife, Mindy Dekker. Mrs. Dekker's body was found this morning, bludgeoned to death."
An image of Bruce displayed on the screen while the newscaster spoke. Bruce turned in his chair and grinned at Jim and said, "I'm on the TeeVee!" He seemed genuinely pleased with himself for making it on the news.
Jim sat forward so he could listen over the celebratory noises Bruce was making. The story unfolding before his eyes filled him with a sinking feeling.
"According to Dr. Leonard McCoy, Mr. Kirk-McCoy's husband of ten years, Mr. Dekker harbors a grudge from earlier in the year when the doctor was forced to call the CPA to investigate child abuse charges against Dekker stemming from abuse suffered by his twin daughters," the woman on the television announced.
Jim watched with his lips hung open. Two identical girls with curly blond hair and dimples filled the screen. The little angels on the television sent a chill through Jim, as he imagined the massive man in the recliner before him responsible for their wellbeing. In the picture, they couldn't be more than than three years old.
"After more than one incident of broken limbs, Dr. McCoy reports that the girls were placed in foster care," the newscaster explained, Jim hung on each word.
Len's picture flashed on the screen, making Jim's throat close up. "He took my baby girls," Bruce accused the television, turning to look at Jim with a furious scowl on his face, like he wanted to hit him. "He took my babies so I took his boy."
The story continued on to Bruce's wife. He had a satisfied look on his face as he examined Jim while the reporter stood in front of a dogpatch house and explained the horror hidden inside its walls. The anchor grimly stated that Mr. Dekker allegedly beat his wife to death with his bare hands.
"I did," he agreed with the television.
Jim swallowed hard, his mouth felt like cotton.
Bruce fixed him with a steady look, his eyes were smiling but his mouth stayed still, "She never got over losing the girls. She blamed me." He shook his head, "She had to go. I wish her mother had been alive for it, the old bat. I'd have enjoyed it more. I'da sent her pictures, too."
Jim closed his eyes, his long eyelashes resting soft against his skin, realization washing over him. He wasn't ever going to make it out of here alive. There would be more pictures. Strips of this clothing would show up at Len's door, and eventually parts of his body might roll in. The longer he clung to this world, the more Len would suffer. If he was going to die, he might as well die today, and spare his adoring husband the pain of uncertainty.
Jim opened his eyes, determination replacing fear. His blue eyes pierced the air between them and his full but dehydrated lips forming a hard line on his face. "You fucking monster," Jim said, his voice confident for the first time in his interaction with the violent man.
Bruce seemed injured by the words. "I let you watch teevee with me, and this is how you talk to me, you ungrateful little shit." He stood, the chair beneath him rocking as his weight left the seat.
Jim found his way to his feet as Bruce approached, looking up into the face of the brutal killer. "Fuck you and your ancient television and your filthy house. Fuck your little packages and your polaroid camera. Fuck your greasy eggs on your filthy plates. I'm glad Len took your daughters away, you disgusting waste of space. I'll gladly die so they can live a life far a-fucking-way from you! You abusive piece of shit!." The words flew out of his mouth while the man stood over him like a tower, breathing heavily through his nose, his face purple with rage.
He grabbed Jim by the neck and slammed him heavily into the wall by the couch, crunching the slighter man's back into the plaster that cracked beneath him. He leaned his face into Jim's close, pausing in the silence and using his size, strength, and demeanor to intimidate. "Boy-" he started to say but Jim cut him off.
"Shut up!" Jim shouted, shoving at bruce with his cuffed hands. The man didn't budge. "I dealt with assholes like you my whole goddamned life," Jim managed to say, despite the meaty palm leaning on his chest hard. "You think you can use your size and strength to beat on children, and women, and other men so you can feel like a big man." He paused to breathe, daring himself to keep his eyes on Bruce's, refusing to look away. "You're the smallest kind of person there is. The ugliest. The worst, The-"
A heavy fist to his gut silenced Jim's next words as he doubled in pain. The kidnapper slammed him hard back into the wall, his grip on Jim's arm so tight, the pressure from his thumb felt like a knife against the blond man's skin. "You got a deathwish, eh kid?" Bruce chuckled past his rage. "I'm going to make you beg before I kill you. From here on out, death is the nicest thing that could possibly happen to you, got that?" He stuck his face right down in Jim's so his hot breath pushed past the stubble on the younger man's unshaven chin.
Jim breathed, Bruce was waiting for a response. Most likely waiting for the young man to beg forgiveness. Instead, Jim moved his mouth in a circle and spat into the bully's hideous face.
Bruce wasn't expecting that and he hauled back and slapped Jim hard across the face, whipping his head to the side. Jim made a mad dash past the lumbering ox of a man since his feet were unbound. But he didn't make it far. Bruce shoved him with both hands, sending him hard into the bannister that lead to the upstairs. Before Jim could regain his composure, Bruce grabbed him by a fistful of his remaining hair and dragged him back into the living room and slammed him down face-first into the coffee table, which splintered beneath him.
From the debris, Jim saw his cell phone and wallet tumble to the carpet. Bruce's hands were on him again, lifting him back to his feet. Jim's wrists were bloody around the metal cuffs from being jerked around so violently. Another punch to his gut doubled him over and dropped him to his knees.
Jim moaned in misery and coughed against the carpet. "Had enough?" Bruce asked, lifting him once again by the hair on the back of his head.
Jim had blood down the corners of his mouth and out his nose from rough contact with the coffee table and Bruce's hands.
"Fuck you," he managed to say.
Bruce lifted him by his arm and swung him hard across the room. Jim landed clumsily against the stone hearth of the fireplace. He howled and crushed his teeth together as he felt the bone in his arm snap against the hard ledge. He screamed when Bruce picked him up by the broken limb. the arm giving way unnaturally in his grip.
"Oh look at that," Bruce said, pleasure in his voice that still shook in fury. The man mixed emotions in the most terrifying and unnatural of ways. Jim's fight was gone. The pain was blinding.
Bruce threw him to the floor of the living room and took off his belt while stepping on the middle of Jim's back with a heavy foot. He bent down and wrapped the leather belt around Jim's legs, pulling it tight and tucking in the excess. Jim's legs were bound hard together and his wrists were still cuffed. He drooled blood onto the carpet, wheezing in pain.
Bruce lifted his head off the ground and so he could look into Jim's swollen face. "Not so cocky now, eh hotshot?" he said, letting go of his hair and allowing Jim's face to smack hard into the floor again. "Stay there a while and think about what you did," Bruce growled and climbed the stairs heavily, his thumping feet marching away.
Jim cried in pain but knew this may be his one and only chance. He dragged himself on his belly across the floor with the elbow of his good arm. Every movement sent fresh pain through his broken arm and he bit his lip hard to keep from screaming out.
finally, he reached his cell phone and powered it on with his good hand. His other lie there limp and purpled, pain coursing through his every nerve.
When the phone finally booted, Jim touched the button and placed a video call to Len.
Chapter 11: My Rugged Heart
While You Were Sleeping
Chapter 11: My Rugged Heart
Dorian was cleaning the dinner pans and Len was finishing his meal when the sleek cell phone in the doctor's pocket began to play a rendition of an old folk song. The phone sang in Jim's sweet timbre, "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are grey. You'll never know dear, how much I love you-" It sounded tinny from being sung into the phone speaker one night, in bed, as a joke. Len loved the sound clip so much he'd set it as his ringtone for Jim right there and then. Hard to believe that was three whole years ago.
Len looked up at Dorian with wide, terrified eyes. He jumped up so fast the barstool hit the floor behind him. "Jim!" he shouted, "That's Jim! He's calling!"
Dorian came around the counter in a flash while Len pulled the phone out and answered the call with trembling hands.
"Len?" Jim's voice sounded rough.
The video screen was black, showing no picture.
"Baby, where are you?" Len asked, his voice cracking out of him on the verge of hysteria.
"Len," Jim's garbled reply was thick with emotion. "I don't know. Listen, if I don't-"
"Jimmy, we're going to come get you, we just need to know where you are, darlin'," Len cut him off, not wanting to hear what Jim had to say if it was about never seeing him again. "I can't see you, baby." Tears streamed down Len's face.
"I can see you," Jim said, a smile in his pained voice, "Don't cry, hubby. Please."
Dorian had his finger on the back of the cell phone, attempting to trace the origin of the call.
"Why can't I see you, Jim?" Len asked desperately, "Where are you?"
"I don't want you to see this," Jim admitted softly, "I don't know if you can get here in time, even if i knew where I was."
"Has he hurt you?" Len choked the question out. He already knew the answer.
Jim was breathing hard. "Listen, Len, no matter what happens, you have to take care of yourself."
Len shook his head violently. "Stop it, Jim. Stop talking like this!"
"No drinking, no sadness, no loneliness," Jim listed, "No hiding away." Now relentless in his determination, a pained sound in his voice made his hands jump and a sliver of light showed on Len's screen. It was clear Jim was holding his thumb over the camera
"Fuck, Jim, I have to see you," Len's face was a mess and he didn't care. "Please!"
"I love you too much," Jim said, "to do that to you."
"Listen to me, Len," Jim begged. "You made my life so important. You took care of me when no one else would and you gave me the one thing no one else wanted to. A family, a loving home, hubby. I'd rather die now, having been loved by you for the past ten years, than live to be a thousand-oh shit." His voice trailed off and grew silent.
"Jim!" Len begged.
"The fuck're you doin'?" a deep voice cut the air and a gasp from Jim made Len feel weak behind the knees. He watched as the light filled the screen but the camera moved fast until he was looking at the mean, scraggled face of Bruce Dekker. "Look, it's the doctor," Bruce said, smiling sadistically into the camera.
"Let him go," Len demanded, his voice dropping into a venomous, dangerous force.
"Hope you enjoyed saying goodbye," Bruce said, turning the camera on Jim, showing Len the writhing, injured body of his lover. Jim buried his face, unwilling to let Len see him.
"Don't you fucking touch him!" Len threatened, his body jerking angrily but helplessly. Dorian placed a stabilizing hand on the doctor's shoulder.
With the camera still trained on Jim, Bruce delivered a brutal kick to his shoulder, causing the blond man to cry out in pain. That is when the phone call went black, disconnected.
Len fell hard to his knees, screaming so hard that no sound escaped his throat.
Dorian yanked him to his feet, "I have the location!" He said firmly, taking Len by the shoulders and giving him a shake. "I am going right now, with backup already on the way." Dorian's face danced with blue light in circuit patterns.
The shocked man staggered after Dorian as he ran to the front door. It was dark outside and Len jammed his bare, damaged feet into his loafers, and gave chase.
Dorian stared into the driveway, forgetting that John had taken the cruiser. He turned and nearly ran into Len who was following. "I need your keys."
Len produced the fob to the Jaguar, shoving it into Dorian's palm as he ran to the passenger side.
"Stay here," Dorian said, holding up a hand at Len.
Len marched forward and got into the passenger's seat.
Dorian opened the driver's side door and peered inside, "Len," Dorian said, his face full of light. He was simultaneously directing back up forces to the GPS location, warning that the situation was dangerous and critical, attempting to call John,and now arguing with Leonard McCoy.
"I'm going with you," Len said, his non-negotiating tone matching his sharp eyes. His normally perfect hair swept across his forehead sloppily. "You'll have to arrest me to keep me away and even then…"
Dorian dropped into the seat. They didn't have time to do this. "Seatbelt," he said, kicking the engine on and rolling them backward out of the driveway before tearing down the road. Once they hit the open road, Dorian dropped the petal, shifting effortlessly, the engine thrumming under the hood as he weaved in and out of traffic without the benefit of a siren.
Len's teeth crushed into each other and his hands gripped at the leather console and door, white around the bones as they soared down the 606, Dorian's precision driving keeping the long wheelbase on the pavement. The doctor's adrenaline was skyrocketing and no speed seemed fast enough as they flew past other motorists.
The kick had been savage. Len played it over and over again in his mind, Jim's terrible cry of pain still fresh in his ears. He wasn't sure if Dekker continued to beat Jim after the call ended but he suspected he did. The way he had said that Len was saying goodbye made the doctor fear the worst. He knew Dekker preferred to use his hands. That was how the insane man's wife died. He felt the stir fry in his stomach heave into his throat but he swallowed the acidic burn that made its way to his nasal cavity. Staring out at the traffic in their path, he pressed his right foot involuntarily into the floor, desperate for the car to move faster so that he could get to Jim.
Unable to contact John, Dorian gave up and activated his missing husband's locator chip. What he discovered nearly sent them off the road. "John!" He shouted aloud, his hand gripping Len's shoulder briefly before returning to the wheel and pressing the engine even harder.
"What is it?" Len demanded, his eyes wide and his jaw set.
"He's there. He's there. With Jim," Dorian said, "I don't know how...but he's there."
John parked down the road from the rundown farmhouse and walked through the field, approaching cautiously. There was a big, windowless van parked in front of the rotting porch and he knew, beyond doubt, that Jim was in the house. His mouth was dry and his body tingled as he reached the deck, leaning his shoulders into the decrepit wood paneling next to the front door and listening with piqued ears.
In the back of his mind, John knew he ought to call for backup. Going in this house alone went against every part of his police training. He was the first to tell rookie cops that real police work was nothing like the movies. Law enforcement was about procedure and safety. He could talk a big game, but when it came to taking action, John almost never practiced what he preached. It didn't help that since returning to his post, he had an android partner who took care of each and every protocol on his behalf. As he looked at the looming structure in the eerie night, he couldn't help but miss the feel of Dorian's hand on his elbow and the blue lights on his face.
Right now, John was working on pure instinct. He'd turned off his phone as he left the Dekker house, not wanting to be derailed from his mission by his husband who was also married to the rules and had been blowing up his phone all evening. Now, as he stood beside the door in the dark night, nothing but cornfields in every direction, the city a bright light in the distant sky, John realized the error of his ways. The guilt over losing Jim on his watch led him to this porch, this door, this house. He really ought to call in backup. But if Jim was in there, he couldn't spare another minute.
He didn't know what awaited him behind this door. He didn't have the tactical gear he ought to be wearing. Bottom line, he was on his own. He drew his gun and gripped it in his hands, holding it close to his chest and closing his eyes before testing the door handle and finding it unlocked. His heart began to knock in his chest.
John crept catlike into the musty old farmhouse.
Jim ignored the pain in his body as his eyes settled on the tiny phone screen. There was Len, he was a fucking mess, but Jim felt a calming peace nestle inside of his heart to see his loving husband again and to hear his voice. He wished he could soothe the hurt there.
Jim kept his thumb over the camera, unwilling to allow what may very well be the last image of him be the bloodied mess of his current state.
When he heard Bruce approach him from behind, he knew it was over. Bruce took the phone and taunted his sweet Len. Jim curled to protect his head as a kick slammed into his shoulder, sending terrible pain through his broken body.
Bruce turned off the phone and tried to bend the device in his meaty hands. The titanium frame didn't budge so he settled for tossing it from the room. It skittered down the hallway, where it slid across the floor, finally coming to rest against John's boot.
The big man was about to pick Jim up again when he heard the footsteps behind him. "Don't fucking move, you piece of shit."
Jim reeled his head up, seeing John standing there, his gun trained on Bruce, his face twisted with disgust. His heart pounded in his chest at the concept of rescue. He wondered if John was real or a dream. An almost animal whine of hope escaped Jim's lips
John swept his eyes past Jim quickly before shifting his focus back on Bruce. His face hardened at the terrible sight of his badly injured friend.
Jim struggled to watch, his muscles shaking with the effort. He laid his head down, a hot tear sliding out of the corner of his eye. He couldn't count himself saved until Bruce was taken down and John was no longer in peril. He hoped John understood the kind of man he was dealing with.
"Up against the wall, asshole," John demanded, gesturing with his gun toward the far end of the room, away from Jim. Bruce took a few steps but didn't go all the way. A smirk spread across his face.
"Don't fucking test me, you sick motherfucker," John said, his teeth clamped together all the while, his grip shifting on his weapon. "If I have to discharge my weapon, it will be to kill, not injure."
"How many fucking boyfriends do you have?" Bruce asked Jim, like John wasn't standing there at all. "Does the doctor know about this one? You little slut."
"Get against the fucking wall now," John said, taking a step forward toward Jim, trying to work himself between the two of them.
Nodding with feigned respect, Bruce sighed and walked to the wall, standing there. "Now what, officer?" he asked.
Jim felt a sick feeling in his stomach. Bruce was fucking with John; something terrible was about to happen, he could tell. He wanted to warn John, but his breathing was so sharp and labored, he couldn't find the words. All he could manage was to almost inaudibly shake the words "Sh-sh-shoot'm," from his listless lips.
John pulled the cuffs off his belt with his left hand, the right still holding his gun. "Put your hands behind your head," John demanded, adding, "You scum of the fucking earth."
John holstered his weapon to place cuffs on the man, his thick wrists almost too large for the metal clamps. He fit one on Bruce's left wrist and reached up to grab the right hand from where it rested on the back of his head when Bruce turned quickly, laying a fist across John's jaw.
Jim whimpered as he watched John reel from the unexpected punch. He managed to stay on his feet and drew his gun. Bruce knocked the weapon from the detective's hands and it clattered to the far end of the room. John used his synthetic leg to kick Bruce, the extra force bringing the giant to his knees. John spit a wad of blood to the side and turned to grab his weapon.
That is when his leg locked, pitching him forward. He scrambled to press the buttons on the side of his synthetic limb but when he tugged at the ankle of his pants, he saw the color of the leg was a steely blue. "Fuck!" John barked. Of course he hadn't charged his leg in over two days, the power was completely drained.
He tripped away from Bruce who was holding his fractured shin and howling from the brutal kick John had delivered. If John had stuck with physical therapy, he'd have learned how to walk on his leg without a charge. Instead, he staggered clumsily and the large man got hold of his synthetic ankle and wrenched John's feet out from under him.
He hit the ground hard, his forehead cracking against the fireplace on his way down. John saw stars, gasping into the soiled carpeting. He felt the big man dragging him backward. John was fairly certain that if he let Bruce get too near, it would be the end of him. He struggled, twisting his body to detach his leg from the port pad on his thigh, wincing against the pain in his head.
Still yanking on the leg hard, Bruce fell back as it gave way. It was caught in the tapered fabric of John's pants, wedged there, but gave him a little extra space. John's fingertips grazed the hilt of his gun, scratching at it desperately.
Bruce was crawling forward now, giving up on tugging John toward him. The wretched murderer grabbed a heavy cast-iron poker from the fireplace tool caddy. With Bruce distracted, John lurched his hip up and gripped his gun. He swung it forward as Bruce rose up with his weapon over his head.
John put a bullet between the big man's eyes, watching his face contort into a blank slack of skin. Bruce's legs folded beneath him and his heavy torso landed hard onto John, the metal poker clattering close to John's face as the big man slumped dead onto the ground.
John gasped, shoving the stinking man's corpse off of him with both hands frantically. He wormed out from underneath the body, wrenching free his detached, deactivated leg last. It was still trapped in the fabric of his pants.
He faintly registered the sound of Jim's soft sobbing. When he sat up, his head swam and John leaned over and fought the urge to puke as the room spun. As a former football player and a man of action, John knew a concussion when he felt one. He stabilized himself enough that he could drag his body over to Jim.
"Jim," he said, his voice an effort.
Jim pushed himself up on his good arm, the other cradled against his body looking purple with pooled blood. John sidled up to Jim and put his arms around the smaller, younger man, careful not to squeeze.
"You...you...found me," Jim said, shaking with sobs that hurt, rubbing his forehead into John's chest. "I thought...I thought for sure...I was going….to…"
"I know," John said, planting a kiss on the top of Jim's head, where his hair was missing.
"Is he...dead, John? He is really dead, right?" Jim asked in a panic, burrowing closer into John, his tears soaking the detective's shirt. "You have to...have to kill him...kill him...kill him…please kill him, John," he begged, on the edge of delirium.
John's head felt like a brick, so heavy and hard to hold up. "He's gone, Jimmy, but I'll kill him again. I'll kill him as many times as you want, buddy." He lifted his gun and pumped four more rounds in Bruce's body. It shuddered with each hit but didn't move. Jim flinched at each shot, coiling his working hand, still trapped in cuffs, into the fabric of John's shirt.
"He's dead, Jim," John responded, blood in the corner of his lips and down his chin. The taste of it in his mouth did nothing to help his nausea.
They sat there a while in the foul smelling room, staring at the lump of a corpse. John knew he had to get Jim up and out of there, he just couldn't imagine standing up yet and he needed to get his leg back in place.
That's when the raid team burst in through the doors, men in tactical armor with big guns flooded the room. Relief hit John so hard that tears spilled in his eyes. The familiar legs that approached filled John with happiness.
He tilted his head up past the boots, up the black, fitted slacks, the blue coat, and finally up to the blue eyes of his android husband, standing before them with his hands on his hips, a twitch of a smile marring the concerned look on his face as their eyes met.
"I don't fuckin' care about the crime scene, goddamnit!" a loud, thick Georgian drawl sounded from outside the room, "Jesus Christ on a crouton! Let me through, I'm a doctor!"
Jim perked up, pulling his head from John weakly and staring at the doorway. When Len burst through, a police woman yanking on his arm and attempting to stop him, he zeroed in on Jim, falling to his knees in front of his battered husband. Jim looked so tender, it was hard to find a good place to touch him without hurting him. Len settled for putting a hand on the back of his neck and leaning in to kiss his forehead.
"You...You're safe, darlin'," Len said, tears of joy splashing on his cheeks.
Jim stared, disbelief on his face as if he wasn't sure if he was dreaming or in heaven. His voice was a scratch as he said, "Love you, Len."
They both wanted to wrap their arms around each other. Jim was still cuffed at the wrists and his arm and shoulder were battered and broken. Len settled for running his hands gently down the sides of Jim's face cupping it in his warm palms.
Jim managed a big smile before passing out.
Chapter 12: My Cornerstone
You Were Sleeping
Chapter 12: My Cornerstone
"We've got a compound fracture in the right arm, contusions in the arms, torso, legs, face, and deep bruising in the left thigh. Broken ribs on both sides of the cage, and we'll need to check for internal bleeding, it's hard to tell with the discoloration from the impact. Lacerations on the wrists and ankles, battered face may mean concussion. Also, severe dehydration, he's already on a drip!" The EMT shouted as he pushed Jim into the crowded emergency room, past the waiting area and through the swing stable doors to the medical center. Len ran ahead of the bed, grabbing a stethoscope from the nurses station and a medical records tablet from the charging dock.
"Excuse me, sir!" a nurse bellowed. When Len turned around she gasped, barely recognizing the normally scrubbed and polished physician in his jeans, a loose sweatshirt, and fly-away hair. "Dr. McCoy, I didn't realize it was you, did they find…" Her eyes went to the bed shuttling past and landed on Jim Kirk-McCoy. The beloved man was battered and broken. Also, his lush, golden hair was missing in huge clumps. He was a terrible sight and she gasped, her hands on her mouth. "Jim! You found him. Praise Jesus!" She put her hands up gently in the air and happy tears dripped on her face.
Len skirted behind her in an annoyed rush and grabbed a stylus and a pair of gloves before jogging down the hall after Jim's team.
The nurse grabbed the phone the moment he left, fanning her face and punching in a 4-digit internal number.
John was right behind Jim, strapped to the gurney because he wouldn't stop getting off of it in the ambulance ride over." Let me off this fuckin' thing!" he demanded at the top of his lungs.
Each man was taken to a room, directly across the hall from each other in the ER checkpoint. Len stood in the doorway of the room poking at the screen on his tablet until Jim's eyes fluttered open. He handed the tablet to Dorian and muscled his way through the residents stuck on the graveyard shift to get to his confused husband.
He held Jim's pallid left hand in both of his, gently applying warm pressure. Jim's eyes looked terrified as he woke. "Jim," Len said softly, his voice nearly cracking. "Jimmy, you're safe, kid, you're in the hospital."
"You're in the way," Dr. Hikaru Sulu said, standing behind Len, holding the tablet he took from Dorian.
Len turned to look and shook his head. "Oh no...not you," he gestured to the door.
"I'm the attending," Dr. Sulu said through his teeth. He and Dr. McCoy didn't get along. Len believed in emerging medical technology while Hikaru was a student of history and believed in a more holistic approach to healing. They'd been at each other's throats ever since Dr. Sulu was a cocky resident under McCoy's tutelage. Leonard would be the first to admit he wasn't a great teacher, and students with agendas always put him in a bad mood, none more than the bumptious Dr. Sulu.
Dorian watched helplessly as Len and the other doctor fought over Jim's care. At the same time, he was scanning the reports back at the crime scene and intercepting calls. There was a baby crying one room over, and over the din of all the residents and the two doctors snarling at each other's throats, he heard the crash of John pushing the stretcher at the EMTs and shouting at the top of his lungs that they, "Get the hell out! Get out!"
Worst of all, Jim was whimpering in pain, forcing Len to awkwardly go back and forth between comforting him and shouting at his unwanted colleague.
Dorian watched the EMTs pull their gurney out of John's room while exchanging furious looks between them for the man they'd just dumped in the hospital bed. Jim was fussing at Len to stop shouting, barely able to keep his eyes open. Dorian wanted to run away and find a quiet place to sit down for a moment. He had humans fighting and shouting on both sides of him, and several more flooding his internal circuits with cellular messages and images from the crime scene. He had a fast processor but this was too much.
Seeing that the yelling was upsetting Jim, McCoy turned to Dr. Sulu and said through his clenched teeth, "I am politely asking for a different doctor. If I could do it myself, I would." He snapped the tablet out of Dr. Sulu's hands.
At that, Dr. Sulu put his hands up and walked a few steps back, clearly annoyed. He stopped at the foot of the bed and said, "I hope you are on your feet soon, Jim. I am so glad you are here with us." He smiled sweetly at Jim who forced himself to smile weakly back. Then Hikaru straightened his spine and gave Len a look that could curdle gin before striding out of the room.
"Dr. Pavel Chekov is on the floor," a resident informed sheepishly. They were all a little terrified of Dr. McCoy and his temper. Everyone, of course, loved Jim.
"Chekov?" Len groaned, "Doogie Howser?" Chekov was a brilliant doctor but he was a babyfaced boy wonder. He pinched the bridge of his nose and said, "Fine, page him."
Len turned his attention back to Jim who caught his hand and squeezed. The terrible cuts on his wrists from the handcuffs were now covered in soft gauze. "Be nice," Jim said groggily, making Len smile. The residents all pretended like they didn't hear that.
Dorian watched, hoping this meant a little less stress. He didn't think it was possible but he suddenly felt exhausted. As if on cue, John hopped past him, holding up his non-functional synthetic leg. He wobbled in Jim's door, obviously dizzy. "You okay, Jim?" he asked.
Dr. Sulu had just arrived to John's room and was downloading his chart. He peered around and called out, "Nurse, where is the patient?"
The overloaded android thought his synthetic soul might melt out the side of his face if things didn't calm down soon. He picked John up off the ground and carried him back into his room effortlessly while the furious human battered him. If Dorian was a human he'd never survive John, he'd have been taken out by his elbows or his antics long ago. "You focus on you," Dorian demanded, dropping John in the bed, "Jim is in good hands."
"I just wanna see how he's doing, dammit! You don't have to carry me like I'm a fuckin' four year old…"
"Well then stop acting like one!"
Dorian raised his voice, and John gave him a look like he'd been slapped.
"John…" Dorian lowered his tone, taking a calming breath. He didn't need to breathe, but it gave him something to focus on. "I know you're worried about him, but the last thing Jim needs is one more person, hovering over him. You need to stay in here and let the doctor…"
"I have a concussion! You can see that by looking at the thing growing out of my forehead! Why do I need a bunch of expensive tests? I can't breathe in that stupid MRI machine anyway!"
"We do have an open MRI," the doctor offered this helpful bit of information and John grunted. Dorian turned and held his hand out to the physician.
"Dr...Sulu." Dorian read the man's name tag and shook his hand. He hadn't caught the man's name during the fight. "My name is Dorian. Dorian Kennex. I'm sure you can see by John's medical history that he has had a rather long hospital stay in the past." Dorian glanced at his husband, who fidgeted nervously on the ER bed. "As a result, he's very uncomfortable in this setting. While it is understandable, he does need medical attention."
Dorian then fixed his John with a look, and the big detective averted his gaze. His head hurt and he felt like he might throw up again. He just wanted to go home.
Sulu glanced at John's chart and nodded.
"If my husband gives you any more trouble, you have my permission to sedate him if necessary." He said it to the doctor but his blue eyes were still fixed on John.
"Hey! A little appreciation for what I did would be nice!"
"I do appreciate it John, and so do a lot of other people, believe me. But right now, I am trying to coordinate with the crime scene, keep Leonard from having a nervous breakdown, and deal with you. Captain Maldonado is going to be here in about five minutes demanding to know why I wasn't with you at the Dekker house earlier. If one more thing happens I will be on literal overload."
Dorian was holding on to John's forearm, staring him down.
"Do you understand?" Clearly Dorian was about to blow.
"Yeah. Ok...you shoulda charged earlier though…"
Dorian gave a near hysterical laugh. "When would I have had time for that John? Going over everything that happened today, when should I have fit that in? Maybe at the same time you were charging your leg?!"
"Sorry." John mumbled.
"If you move a muscle off of this table John…"
"I won't." John shook his head. "I'll...I'll go for the tests, or whatever."
"Thank you." Dorian sighed in relief and kissed John's temple.
"I'll be back to check on him shortly."
Sulu nodded as Dorian strode out of the room.
"That's your husband?"
"Yeah," John gave the doctor a dark look.
"Wouldn't mind having him in here on a Saturday night...keep all the crazies in line."
Dr. Sulu looked John over, asking a few questions about the goose egg on his forehead, the skin nearly split over the shiny purpled welt that had swollen tremendously in the past hour.
Jim was leaving the ER, off to have his arm x-rayed before the surgery that would undoubtedly be necessary.
Len was holding his breath when Dorian came up to him, falling in step beside the troubled-looking man.
"He's safe now, Len," Dorian assured.
"I know," Len sighed, looking haggard, "He has to get the X-Ray next. It is the most painful part of a break. They have to move it all around."
For a doctor that regularly called patients infants for expressing their pain, Len was wringing his hands over the thought of Jim experiencing discomfort.
At the door to the X-Ray room, Dr. Chekov asked the nurses to take Jim in while he turned to Leonard. "Eet may be better for you to vait out here," the young physician put a hand on his arm. He knew, as well as Len did, that patients experienced more pain when a loved one nearby seemed upset.
"Will you be…"
"I vill make eet as painleess as posseeble,"
Len nodded. He didn't want to leave Jim but he also felt like he might pass out if he had to see him cry in pain. He walked in and gave him a kiss, saying he'd be right outside.
Once out in the hall, Dorian put his arm around Len and said, "Why not change into your scrubs? I'll keep watch over Jim until you are back."
Len looked down at himself, realizing he was at work, dressed in jeans, no socks, and a baggy, hooded sweatshirt. He nodded, hugging himself self-consciously and agreed he could do more for Jim if he looked the part. "I'll be back in a flash," Len promised. "What about John? Don't you want to be with him?"
"He's a big boy," Dorian assured. Inwardly, he knew he had to relax and stop being cross with John for being so reckless. His actions saved Jim's life, but they were dangerous and in many cases unnecessary. Dorian didn't want to think about what might have happened if John had lost consciousness when he fell. A quick phone call when he first discovered the address would have changed everything.
True to his word, Len was back in record time. He was wearing crisp scrubs and sensible shoes. He also looked like he'd washed his face and run a comb through his hair.
When Jim was wheeled out, he was smearing tears off of his face. Moving his arm for the X-Ray was terrible, and the kick to his shoulder hadn't helped make any of it more bearable. Len was by his side in an instant, running a thumb over his cheek gently, collecting a wayward tear. "The worst is over, baby," he promised.
While the X-Ray was collected, Jim was subjected to an MRI and all the advanced admissions bloodwork that he'd missed by having the surgery tonight.
After going over the X-Rays with Dr. Chekov, Len felt confident that the surgery would be a success.
Even as Jim was prepped, Len was rattling off his concerns to the young doctor.
"His medical record is up to date, but he has a long list of allergies. Sulpha, morphine, cephalosporins, the contrast dye in the..."
"Iz ziz all in his chart Dr McCoy?" Chekov looked up at Len calmly with his sweet puppy eyes, a hand on McCoy's arm.
"Yes, but..." Len looked over at Jim lying so still on that gurney. He felt panicky at the idea of letting Jim out of his sight now, even for a minute, let alone a surgery that would take two to three hours.
"I vill take good care of him. I promise you. Eef I have any concerns at all, you vill be here to consult, yes?"
McCoy nodded, a lump forming in his throat as he blinked back sudden tears.
"You have to let them take him now, Len. So he can start to heal." Dorian rubbed the man's back gently.
"Can I..." McCoy gestured toward the gurney weakly. He couldn't bring himself to form the words, "say good-bye," not after what had almost happened tonight. He'd been torturing himself over the fact that he hadn't told Jim he loved him as the kid had rushed out the door to head to the movies with John. He wasn't ever going to make that mistake again.
"Of course." Chekov smiled and urged him toward Jim's still form. "Ze anesthesia is setting in now, but he vill know your voice."
Len approached slowly, his breath catching again at the sight of Jim, so very pale and broken. Dorian and Dr Chekov stood apart giving the man some privacy.
"Hi Darlin'," Len's voice broke and he took a shuddering breath. "They're gonna take you to surgery now to fix your arm. Dr Chekhov is gonna do it. You'll like him...he's...he's young and brilliant. Just like you." The dark-haired doctor bit his lip and looked up at the fluorescent lights in the ceiling,"We're gonna have to talk about the kitchen when..."
Dorian stepped forward with an encouraging nod. It was time to go.
Len looked down at Jim, and tears filled his eyes as he leaned down and kissed his love's forehead. He wanted more than anything to see Jim's eyes just once more before they rolled him away. .
"I love you." He choked the words out, finally giving up and letting himself cry. " All this ain't worth nothin' without you Jimmy. So you...you have to come back to me."
Len knew the surgery would be fine, but there was no telling the long-term effects this nightmare weekend would have on his sweet Jim.
Dorian felt synthetic tears in his own eyes, and thought of his own husband. They were so very lucky to have each other.
Len gave Jim one final kiss and stood back to let Dr Chekov do his job.
"Ve vill be back before you know it," he assured Len.
Len slumped into a waiting room chair once Jim was out of sight, on his way to the OR. His leg was jumping nervously.
Dorian's face lit with blue. "My captain just arrived. Len...do you mind checking on John? You seem like you need a little distraction."
Len pushed out of his chair, grateful for something to do besides sitting and worrying himself sick.
Maldonado walked through the sterile hospital halls. She looked worn out. Dorian spotted her and waved, walking over.
"Captain," Dorian smiled rotely, expecting a little bit of displeasure.
"Where's Kennex?" She demanded, scanning the waiting room, shifting on her feet, arms akimbo.
"He's getting an MRI," Dorian said softly, watching as Sandra let her hands fall to her sides gently.
"Is he okay?" she asked, becoming more conversational.
"Concussed," Dorian informed, "and a little bruised. He took a good clip to the jaw."
"So, he's okay," Sandra seemed momentarily relieved. "What about Mr. Kirk-McCoy?"
"Pretty badly beaten. He's in surgery now," Dorian admitted, "He was injured, but the potential psychological scars are far more troubling."
Sandra nodded, her lips pursed. There was little more to say about Jim's state. She looked up at the DRN and said, "Tell me, if John hadn't gone off on his own, would the end result have been different?"
Dorian thought about it and nodded. "I think Jim would have been taken out of that house in a body bag instead of on a gurney."
She examined him quietly, "I can't have him going off without an android partner."
"I'll talk to him," Dorian promised, "I'll take care of it. It wont happen again. Jim is… John had to save him."
"Uh huh," Maldonado said, shifting her eyes to the ceiling in frustration. "Go on, Dorian. Go be with John."
"Do we need to worry about John being investigated for this?" Dorian asked, hesitant.
Sandra rubbed at her forehead, then hid a yawn behind the back of her wrist, "No, don't worry about it. Just...don't let it happen again."
"Sleep tight, Captain," Dorian said by way of thanks as Sandy strode off.
Len found John in the MRI shield room, sitting on the edge of a the bed, looking miserable. "The doctor said you have an open MRI," John explained to the nurse in front of him. He was rubbing his arm ruefully.
"He didn't request that in the orders," the nurse said. She was prepping a vial to draw blood.
"But," John let his voice trail off a little, staring at the MRI machine. He hated the thought of going back into one of those things. His synthetic leg was still detached and he looked anxious. "Dr. what's his name, he said so. You think you can call him?"
"You'll be okay," the nurse smiled, turning with the needle in her hand. "Let's try this again, Mr. Kennex."
"Get it...get it in this time, please," John mumbled. It was clear he was pouting and Len wondered what had happened to subdue the man enough to let this nurse stick him a second, possibly third time.
John was wincing. The young nurse was bent over the detective's arm and he held it out, looking away and biting his lip and she stuck a needle in his arm and waited for the vial at the end to fill with blood. When it didn't, she began to dig.
"Stop," John pleaded, writhing in his seat, "Jesus lady, stop!"
Len walked in and put his hand on the nurse who looked flustered. She was a baby, fresh out of school. He gave her shoulder a squeeze and nodded toward the door, then pulled up a small swivel stool and sat on it, looking at John's arm. When the nurse was well away, Len ran a warm hand up the inside of John's elbow and said, "Thought you were a pincushion, eh?" The veins in his arm were blown.
John's face looked flushed. The young woman had stuck him four times, unsuccessful. "Let me guess, Dee sent you down here to check on me. You're gonna yell at me, too, right?" He looked defeated and exhausted. It was the wee hours of the morning and John's skin was dirty. Len realized the poor guy hadn't even showered since Jim had disappeared. His sunken eyes and rounded shoulders made him look so tired.
Len stood up and walked to the sink, washing his hands up to the elbow thoroughly. Then he shook them out and pulled on a set of blue rubber gloves. He opened a cabinet and took out a new needle and vial, bringing them over to John.
"Make a fist," Len said, moving to John's left side and watching him obey the command. While John watched on, Len rubbed a thumb over the patch of soft skin near the bend of his arm. Painlessly, with an intense tenderness and quiet, he slipped the needle into the vein and watched the vial fill with John's deep red blood. While it filled, Len said in a low, calm voice, "I'm not here to yell at you, John." He switched the vials effortlessly, with deft hands. "You saved my Jim tonight."
Len drew the needle from John's arm and pressed his thumb on the puncture site right away to prevent any pain and to stop the bleeding. John barely felt the poke of the needle at all.
"I lost Jim in the first place," John said, "So don't try to thank me, doc. I was just cleaning up the mess I made."
Len set the blood vials on the lab holder, placing the printed out labels on the sides. He peeled off the gloves and snapped them into the trash. "Bruce Dekker wasn't some random kidnapper in a van, John," Len said, walking over to stand in front of the dejected man. He put two fingers under John's chin, lifting his head so their eyes could meet, "He was going to take Jim no matter what. It could have been worse, he could have run Jim's car off the road and injured him worse. He could have killed you to get to Jim. No matter what, the lunatic was on a mission. It had nothing to do with you."
John didn't look convinced. His eyes were shiny. Len stepped forward and wrapped his arms around the trembling detective and held him tight. John just sat there at first, then he brought his arms up and gripped into Len's back.
There was a noise behind them of someone clearing their throat. John let go instantly and Len sighed deep and patted the back of John's head before turning to look at the intruder. Dr. Sulu stood there, looking slightly confused.
"I told the tech to give you the open MRI, Mr. Kennex," Dr. Sulu informed uncomfortably, "They'll be in to move you to that room in a moment. The nurse said she had trouble getting bloodwork as well."
"John is my patient," Len said, folding his arms over his his chest.
"Of course he is," the other physician rolled his dark eyes dramatically. He poked angrily at his tablet with his stylus, shifting the patient files to Dr. McCoy. "Anything else you want to lay claim to tonight? My office? My stethoscope? The coffee machine? If you want to take over the ER, I'd be more than happy to go home for the night."
Before Len could retort, the younger man marched out of the room. "Prick," Len bit out, making John smirk.
"Let's get you in the open MRI," Len said, grateful for this distraction.
"How's Jim?" John asked, still a little choked up over the unexpected kindness from Leonard.
"In surgery," Len grimaced, "his arm."
John nodded, "Will this MRI take long? I'd like...I wanna be there when he gets out."
"Lie back," Len said, helping push John down onto his bed. John was getting real tired of riding around on the bed. Len pushed him to the shield room that held the open MRI.
This machine was much less intimidating. Len let the techs take over, clasping John's hand, "I'll be here when you're done."
He waited while the machine scanned John. The bump on his head was tremendous and Len could tell that John's head must be killing him. The guy needed a shower and a good long sleep.
When the MRI was over, one of the techs brought John his clothing and a pair of crutches and led him to a room where he could get dressed. John gasped when he pulled his filthy shirt back on. It brushed against the knot on this head and it smelled like decay.
He'd been on the verge of puking since the hit to his head and now he buckled against the pressure and emptied his stomach into the wastebasket. Len broke into the room and closed the door again behind him, putting on a hand on the back of John's neck.
John wiped his mouth on his sleeve and stood up one dizzy leg. Len stabilized him with hands on his arms. John moaned and rubbed his jaw. It was purpled from the punch Dekker had laid across his face a few hours ago and vomiting had forced it open painfully. "Fuck," he spat.
"You need to get home, John," Len said firmly, "You need rest."
"Where's the waiting room?" John asked, feeling like shit but determined to stay strong. He hated himself for puking. He bent down and picked up the discarded crutch, tucking it up into his armpit and heading for the door.
"John," Len said, blocking the door, "Look you saved Jim's life. Now I need you to take care of yourself a little. And Dorian. Both of you need a break. It's what Jim would want."
"Okay," John conceded easily.
Len puffed out a sigh and said, "Thank you." He unblocked the door and let John out. The man swung down the hall toward the operating room. Len sighed and followed, figuring John's compliance was too good to be true.
Dorian was on a couch in the waiting room. John made his way over to him and plopped down in his lap. The DRN was surprised and shifted the lanky detective so he was comfortable and wrapped his arms around him.
"Take John home," Len said, having followed John in.
"I won't go," John said sleepily. "Gonna wait and see Jim."
Dorian knew John didn't feel well. He would never cuddle up to him like this in public unless he was sick or incredibly tired.
"Maybe he can take a shower here?" Dorian asked Len.
The doctor thought about that and then nodded. "I'm admitting you to my ward," Len said, "There will be a bathroom with a shower. I'll get you a pair of scrubs and a toothbrush. That way I can at least make sure you sleep tonight."
"Thank you," Dorian said and John nodded. Len poked at the tablet he'd been carrying with him and went off to find a nurse and to get John's leg brought up and put on a charger in the room.
Jim still had another hour at least so Len urged John to shower. It was painful with the lump on his head but also refreshing. He pulled the scrubs on after and emerged feeling like new man.
When John returned to the waiting room, Len and Dorian were talking to a young Russian sounding doctor out in the hall.
John approached slowly, still a little unsteady on his crutches, and all three men turned to look at him.
"Feeling better?" Dorian smiled and reached for John's hand.
"Yeah, I am." The taller man took his husband's hand and stood close to him. John wasn't big on PDA, but it had been a hell of a night, and his head still hurt. Besides that, he was feeling more and more comfortable around Len , even though he was a doctor.
"Is Jim out of surgery?" John looked at Len and glanced at the other doctor. He looked even younger up close. The detective wondered if he'd assisted with Jim's operation.
"He just went to recovery." Len answered, relief in his voice. "Surgery went off without a hitch."
"That's great." John smiled slightly, his jaw still sore.
John glanced at the doctor next to Len again, and McCoy shook his head, "I'm sorry John, this is Dr Pavel Chekov. He performed Jim's surgery."
John nodded as the doctor's eyes widened, "You are ze one I have heard about." he smiled.
"Pardon me?" John cocked his head, confused.
"Da, all ze nurses are talking about it. You are John Kennex, yes? You are the one who saved my patient."
John glanced at Dorian, feeling a blush creep up the back of his neck, and Dorian gave him an encouraging smile.
"I uh...I was just doing what needed to be done, is all…"
"Vell, I have heard that you took quite a risk to save Mr. McCoy."
"Yes, he did." Len agreed. "I'll never be able to repay him for what he's done for me."
McCoy glanced at John, but then looked away quickly, not wanting to get emotional again.
"I did it for me, too." John said quietly.
Dorian leaned closer to his husband, fighting the urge to hug and kiss him right there. John Kennex had a big heart, but it was seldom that he let others see it.
"Vell, I am wery glad to see that you are recovering also, but I would suggest some rest."
Chekov turned back to McCoy and continued, "I vill check in on Jim later ziz morning. Ve vill have to see how his other vounds are healing as vell, and of course, he vill need some physical therapy but…" Chekov waved his hand in a dismissive motion, "ze most important…" he looked at John and Dorian with a hesitant pause then back to Len.
"Go ahead," Len urged, "You can speak freely in front of them."
The young doctor nodded and said with confidence, "Zer waz no eveedence of sexual assault."
Len's shoulders dropped in relief. The thought of Bruce Dekker injuring Jim in that way was too much to bear. He had asked the doctor to check while Jim was unconscious, not sure he could trust his young husband at his word. He knew if it had happened, Jim would try to protect Len from finding out. They'd been together for ten years and Jim could still surprise him with small details of his closely kept childhood struggle.
John squeezed his eyes shut at the news, swaying against Dorian slightly. He was overwhelmed with relief that Bruce hadn't touched Jim in that way, further corrupting man's youthful innocence.
Dr. Chekov smiled as Len gripped his arm tight in thanks, then he walked off to finish the rest of his shift.
A nurse Len knew well came up to see them with happy tears on her cheeks, "Jim is up and in his room now, Len."
He gripped her in a quick embrace, a rare occurrence for the doctor who worked hard to maintain his reputation as a tyrant. "Thank you, Karen!" he exclaimed, "Can you get a wheelchair for Mr. Kennex?"
"I don't need one," John said as the nurse pushed the soft leather of the wheelchair seat into the back of his leg and pulled on his shoulder until he was seated. She was used to the plight of patients who didn't need a wheelchair, but the brave detective was swaying in place and running on fumes.
Karen pressed a kiss into John's cheek from behind, leaving her lips planted on his face for a few seconds. "Thank you for saving our Jim," she said and pushed John down the hall behind Len. John felt himself blushing again at the continued praise.
Jim was sound asleep in bed, his arm in a soft, well-stabilized sling. The swelling from surgery would have to go down overnight before a hard cast could be applied. "He will sleep through the night," the nurse informed, petting Jim's hand lovingly.
Len put his hand gently into what remained of Jim's hair. The poor kid still looked like death warmed over and the surgery hadn't helped. He looked even paler than usual, his skin almost clear. "You did good, baby," Len whispered.
John forced himself up out of the wheelchair and hopped over the side of the bed, looking down on Jim. "Sorry I lost you," he whispered.
"You need rest," Len said to John, looking concerned. "Jim will be here in the morning and he'll be awake."
Dorian pushed the wheelchair back to John and coaxed him to sit. He tried to push him back but John wedged the breaks into wheels. "Staying right here," John said.
Len nodded gently. "Okay John, but only if you let me put you on a drip," the doctor said, his eyes looking tired, "You're dehydrated and you need electrolytes."
John didn't look pleased but he agreed, happy that no one was fighting him about saying in Jim's room. Len gathered supplies, ordered a bag of fluids from the nurse. He gently stuck the needle in John's arm, half-heartedly calling him an "infant," for hissing.
Within minutes, John was drooling, slumped in his wheelchair, dead to the world.
Dorian gave Len an embrace. "I can't believe he fell for it," the android smiled.
Len chuckled and watched Dorian push John out of the room, taking him to the room that had reserved. He tucked the drugged detective into the crisp white sheets. It had been a long day and Dorian was grateful to plug himself in. He gave John a kiss on the cheek and eased himself into the chair, closing his eyes.
Len pulled his chair right up to Jim's bed, gathering Jim's soft, limp left hand in both of his. Finally alone, he kissed the tops of Jim's fingers and let his forehead rest against the edge of the bed, careful not to touch Jim's bruised torso and legs. Len fall asleep with his head on Jim's mattress and tears on his weary face.
Chapter 13: There to Catch You
You Were Sleeping
Chapter 13: There to Catch You
John rolled over onto his stomach a reached blindly to his right. There was no one there. The fact that his hand was hanging off the side of the bed was even more troubling. Why was the bed so narrow all of a sudden? He felt something pulling in the arm that was pinned under his body and heard an insistent beep. He moved to find a more comfortable spot and his sleepily brain registered that the sheets didn't feel right. He and Dee both loved soft flannel sheets. These were scratchy and they smelled like...like a hospital.
John felt a moment of panic as cold artificial air fluttered the thin sheet that covered him. Memories of endless days spent in his hospital bed after he awoke from his coma, and then in the rehab wing he was moved to, flooded his foggy brain.
He whispered the name and uttered a prayer that he'd receive an answer, but he already knew he was in the room alone. He could feel it. He tasted a familiar bitterness in his mouth and opened his eyes to a white sterile room. He was back in the hospital.
Sitting up too quickly caused the room to spin and John gripped the railing on the side of the bed. His head hurt so bad he winced and felt his forehead begin to throb steadily. He was on an IV drip and his leg...his synthetic leg was gone. He glanced around quickly, suppressing the rising feeling of fear in his chest.
It was Sunday...or...Monday. There was no date on the screen where nurses usually put their notes but...it was Monday and he was here because of Jim. He was sure of it. He needed Dorian though. Needed to be sure that everything was okay. "Dorian?" he called louder this time.
John took a deep breath and tried to think. His head ached even worse this morning and he ran a hand across his forehead and withered in pain as his fingers brushed into the impressive knot on the top of his head. The last thing he remembered was being in Jim's room.
Terror suddenly took hold of John. He wondered what had transpired to put him in this hospital bed. His chest heaved. If there was something wrong with his head, he wasn't going to stick around and wait to die on this rolling bed.
John reached down and ripped the IV out, blood running down his arm as he pulled himself out of the bed and onto his leg. He was still in the scrubs Len let him borrow. He looked around, bleary eyed, not finding his leg which was plugged in on the other side of the curtain. "Fucking perfect," he muttered, dripping blood on the floor and swaying a little on his leg, trying to find his balance.
A nurse breezed into the room and paused in the doorway. "Mr. Kennex, what are you doing? Do you need help to the bathroom?" She got closer and saw his arm bleeding and ticked her head to the side. "What happened? Did your IV pull out?" She pulled on a pair of gloves.
"Stay away from me," John warned, "Go get Dorian, now!" He was trembling.
"Who?" She asked, pushing him back down onto his bed with firm but cautious hands.
John sat back on the bed rather than fight the woman, of course, but his face contorted with displeasure. "What happened to me?" he demanded, "Was I-was it my head?" A low whine in his voice as the nurse put cotton on his arm, cauterizing the wound with pressure.
"You needed a good night's rest, that is all," she said, exasperated. "Dr. McCoy was looking out for you."
John's head throbbed with sharp pain from the welt and his eyes seemed to have trouble focusing, "What?" his voice came out as a startled rasp.
"Lie back, honey," the nurse said, giving John's pillow a smack.
"No, fuck," John said, worming his arm out of her grip. He cupped his hands over his mouth and shouted, "Dorian!" into the echoey halls.
"Mr. Kennex," she said, pulling up the railing on the side of the bed and locking it in place. "Do I need to call for help or are you going to calm down?" She was prepping a new IV and John was shaking his head. The motion only caused him more pain in his battered brain.
John's chest was heaving and he was hugging his arms tight to himself. "You're not putting another fucking needle in me! I'm not getting drugged again!"
"These are just fluids," the nurse said, she was talking to him like he was stupid, like he was an unruly child.
"I want to see my husband," John said, his voice came out smaller and more desperate than he had hoped, "Where is he?"
The rather rough nurse was getting annoyed. "I just got here, Mr. Kennex. I am sure I don't know where your husband is."
She said it in such a dismissive tone that John started to truly panic. Maybe his life had been a coma-induced fever-dream. Maybe he was just awake for the first time. His heart was beating out of his chest, sending the machines by his bed beeping furiously. The sound made him instantly sick to his stomach.
"Mr. Kennex," the nurse almost pleaded, "Give me your arm."
She reached out to touch him and John moved as far away from her as he could get, looking wild-eyed and desperate.
His skin was clammy with instant sweat and his tan skin looked blanched. Tears welled in his eyes, catching on his fluttering eyelashes as he fought the urge to puke. The woman pawing at him wasn't helping and now she was storming over to page the doctor.
At that moment, Dorian walked in with a bag and coffee. He dropped them on a table quickly when he saw John in the middle of a panic attack, blood drying on his arm and hand, tears on his face. In a split second, his arms were wrapped around John, yanking the bed rail down and holding him tight. "I got you, I got you, John. I'm right here." he murmured into John's ear, running his hands the over the man's shoulders.
John sobbed against Dorian's shirt, unable to pull himself together with the added relief of knowing his life wasn't just a coma nightmare. The android held tight onto John, turning his head over his shoulder to glower at the nurse, his lips pressed together and his eyes sharp. John was muttering into his chest. His hospital phobia was at its worst and Dorian felt terrible for leaving.
"I woke up...I called you...but…" John hiccuped, still trying to catch his breath, and get as close to Dorian as possible.
"Are you his husband?" the nurse asked in an exasperated tone.
Dorian just looked at the woman, and turned back to John, who was only whimpering now.
"He yanked out his IV," the nurse said, indignantly. "I'll have to inform the doctor."
"Why don't you?" Dorian asked sharply, pointing to the door.
The nurse threw her arms up in the air and headed out, shaking her head.
"Where were you?" John demanded now in a moany voice, his face still carefully buried in Dorian's shirt. It was hard not to brush up against the bump on John's forehead.
"I went to get you breakfast," Dorian sighed, "I'm so sorry, punkin. I never thought you'd wake up before I could make it back." He fawned and fussed over his husband, wiping the tears off his face and frowning at the bruised skin.
John gave him an angry shove but didn't manage to send him anywhere, "You drugged me," he accused.
"I didn't," Dorian said.
"Len did," John huffed, his hands fisted into Dorian's clothing with a severe need to keep the DRN close.
"You needed to sleep," Dorian said, gripping John and bracing him. "And you need to eat. I got your favorite." He put a gentle kiss on John's cheek, running a thumb on the other side of his face tenderly. "Let me get it."
John relented, and let Dorian walk to the table where the coffee cup and paper bag had been dumped. "I know you hate hospital food," he said, watching John peer into the bag of doughnuts. Dorian felt his chest unwind a little when a small smile appeared on John's face right before he took an enormous bite of one of the sugar-coated confections.
The events of the last day seemed to flood John's mind as chewed, his cheeks stuffed with doughnut. "Where's Jim?" he asked, spraying sprinkles.
"He's up, he's doing well," Dorian said, noting the slump in John's shoulders and correctly assuming the man wanted to be there when Jim woke. "Eat and we will go see him." He handed John a cup of coffee.
"I need my leg," John said, "And I need to go to the gift shop."
"He won't want a gift," Dorian said, but clamped his mouth shut again when John gave him a look that brokered not argument.
Still looking overtired in his scrubs from the night before Leonard appeared at the door of the room with the offended nurse.
"Yanked out the IV, huh?" Len surveyed the dried blood on his patient's arm, and the powdered doughnut in his hand.
John was angry at Len for what he'd done, but he was also embarrassed at how he'd behaved when he woke up alone in the room. Before he could say anything Dorian spoke up.
"It's my fault. I went to get him breakfast and I wasn't here when he woke up. He had a panic attack."
Len took in the sight of John's blotchy, tear-stained face, and the way he was holding Dorian's hand like his life depended on it.
"Well, I don't know if I'd call that breakfast, but, makes sense." He turned to the nurse next to him.
"Get something to clean up Mr Kennex's arm."
She turned to walk away but he stopped her. "Next time nurse...make sure you read your patients charts before you come on the floor. This man has PTSD. He was disoriented after being given something to induce sleep. Waking in unfamiliar surroundings and then experiencing an episode is fairly common. Had you reviewed his chart, you would have been better prepared to assist the patient."
The nurse glanced at John, who managed to give her a "fuck you" look without even lifting a finger. He liked to think that was one of his many talents.
Once she was gone, Len walked into the room.
"She's not touching my arm." John stated, still chewing his doughnut.
"Sounds like you're feeling better." Len quipped. John gave him a sidelong glance.
"I'm awake, no thanks to you, and my head is fucking killing me."
"John…" Dorian gave his husband a look. "Please don't start."
"Start? He's the one that fucking drugged me against my will!" John pointed a finger at McCoy, who stood by calmly, waiting for the detective to tire himself out.
"If you had just asked me nicely like…"
"I did ask you, John. I asked you more than once to go home and get some rest. You refused."
"I wanted to be here for my friend. For Jim." If John could have stomped his foot while lying in that bed, he would have.
"You refused," McCoy continued, "and as your doctor, I did what I thought was best."
John turned back to his bag of doughnuts and glowered. "Now he's already awake and I haven't even gotten to see him yet. He probably thinks I don't care."
"Jim has been in and out of consciousness all morning John. He barely knows I'm there." Len explained.
"Is he okay?"John looked up at Dorian accusingly. "You said he was okay!"
"All things considered, he's doing well. It's going to be a day or two before he's really coherent I'm afraid." Len suddenly looked exhausted, and John felt guilty for yelling at him.
"John," Len stepped forward and stood next to the bed, putting his hand on the pillows behind John's head.
"You took quite a blow to the head last night. You sustained a serious concussion and you were exhausted. After what you did for Jim… for both of us, I couldn't forgive myself if I didn't take the best possible care of you. Jim wouldn't forgive me either."
John let out a breath and let Dorian entwine their fingers again.
"If you weren't so damned stubborn you coulda been sleepin' in your own bed, but as it was, this is the best I had to work with."
"Can I go see him please? Just for a minute?"
"'Course you can. Let's get you cleaned up a little and we'll head across the hall. Then, you can get out of here."
John leaned back against the pillows with a sigh, and Dorian kissed him gently.
"Can't wait to get home, Dee." he whispered.
"I know, John. Me either."
Twenty minutes later, after some arguing about hospital policy on the use of a wheelchair, even if all you were doing was going across the "fucking" hall, Len led the way and Dorian pushed John into Jim's room. John caught his breath at the first sight of Jim, and synthetic tears burned Dorian's vision. Bruised and battered, hooked up to IV's, and one arm in a soft cast, Jim looked small and helpless.
Seeing him like this, John could no longer try to pretend that what had happened over the last two days was just a bad dream. The reality was that both of them had barely escaped the situation with their lives, and for Jim at least, the road to recovery was just beginning.
"Hi Darlin'...I'm back." Len leaned down to kiss Jim's forehead. "I brought some visitors with me."
John got up from the wheelchair and approached the bed slowly, the beeping machines still calling up unbidden memories of his life just after coming out of the coma. Jim's eyes were closed, his mouth drawn in a slight frown even in unconsciousness. McCoy seemed to notice that as well, and moved to take a look at the pain med list in Jim's chart.
"Hi Jim." John's voice came out as little more than a whisper, and he cleared his throat, suddenly not sure of what to say. "Sorry I wasn't here sooner. I uh...got waylaid by my doctor." Behind him, Dorian couldn't help smiling at that remark.
"Got a bump on my head, but...anyway…" he reached down and touched Jim's hand, squeezing the younger man's fingers gently. He suddenly thought of the night they'd gone out to the movies, when Jim had joked and laughed, talking non-stop. Now he was so still. John hated it. He was so lost in thought that he was startled when he felt Dorian's warm hand in the small of his back.
"Dee's here, too," he said, moving so that Dorian could stand next to him by the bed.
"Hi, Jim," Dorian reached forward and brushed his fingers against Jim's forehead, but the young man didn't move. John held Jim's hand a few moments longer, and then with a sigh started to pull away. At that moment, Jim's eyes opened, and he tried to smile, gripping tightly onto John's fingers.
The detective's eyes widened in shock and he gasped, looking at Len for confirmation that he wasn't imagining this. The doctor just smiled and nodded.
"John…" It came out as a scratchy whisper, but he heard it.
"Hey...hey buddy…" The lump in John's throat prevented him from saying anything else, so he just smiled back.
John shook his head. He didn't want thanks. He just wanted Jim well and out of that bed, so that they could watch shitty kung fu movies and crack bad jokes. It seemed he had barely found his friend, only to have him almost taken away again.
"You just rest." John told him, finding his voice. "Don't let this guy give you too much grief." He tilted his head in Len's direction, and Jim tried to smile again.
"If he gets outta line, you just let me know, okay?"
Jim pulled his hand from John's grasp, and gave him a weak thumbs up. John looked at the bright light above Jim's bed and blinked back tears.
"Excuse me, Dr. McCoy?" A fresh-faced nurse appeared behind the three men. "We need to take Jim down for a follow-up CT scan."
Leonard gave a sigh and nodded. "Time to take a ride Jimmy."
The blonde moved his head, trying to focus on Len, and his eyes closed. John watched silently as the hospital bed was wheeled out of the room by the nurse and a tech.
"You two, go home. I already took care of John's discharge papers. I don't wanna see either of you here for at least twelve hours."
"What about you?" Dorian asked with concern. "What do you need, Len?"
"I'm okay," the doctor grumbled.
"Physician heal thyself," John said, looking at the older man pointedly.
"Did you have any breakfast?" John asked, pushing his luck.
"I didn't have a doughnut, if that's what you're askin'."
"You're not gonna be any good to Jim if you run yourself into the ground."
Len laughed and shook his head. "I'm supposed to take advice from a guy who missed how many appointments, to the point where he couldn't even walk normally?"
"See, now you're turning this around on me," John said. "I've been to therapy, I know how that works."
"Go home John. Let your husband take care of you."
"We'll call you later," Dorian walked up and gave the doctor a hug. "Thank you for taking care of John."
"You know I'm right," John said over his shoulder as Dorian pushed him out into the hall.
John let out a breath as he walked through the door to the apartment. It seemed like weeks since they had been home, not just two very, very long days. Dorian shut the door quietly behind them and locked it.
"Good to be home?" he asked, leaning up to kiss his husband on the cheek.
"Yeah," John shook his head with a slight smile. "really good."
In the car he'd been thinking he would change clothes and head back to the hospital to sit with Jim. There would be reams of reports to fill out after had happened. Seating in a hospital room would be the perfect place to get some of it done. Now however, his feet and his head both felt like lead.
"Change your clothes and I'll fix you something to eat." Dorian told him.
" 'M not hungry." Kennex mumbled as he made his way to the bedroom, shedding the borrowed scrubs as he went.
The unmade bed in their bedroom looked like an oasis. John considered finding a pair of clean sleep pants, but the pull of the bed proved to be too much. He managed to launch himself face first onto to bed, and turn his head just in time to avoid his goose egg coming in contact with the sheets.
Chapter 14: What Do You Need?
While You Were Sleeping
Chapter 14: What Do You Need?
John ate another spoonful of the oatmeal that Dorian had forced on him. He hated to admit that with a little sugar and butter, it tasted pretty good, and warmed his stomach. Dee called it "healthy comfort food." That was an oxymoron, but John was not in the mood to argue.
He leaned back on the couch next to his husband, still waking up from his earlier nap. Dorian was flipping through channels on the light screen when John saw a glimpse of himself, and one of Jim, on the afternoon news update.
"Go back one...turn it up."
A perky blond reporter stood in the field adjacent to the house where Jim had been held captive, a very grave expression on her face.
"Behind me is the rundown shack where Jim Kirk-McCoy was held captive, and tortured for 48 hours. Yesterday evening, Mr McCoy was rescued single-handedly by Detective John Kennex of the Delta precinct. His captor, Bruce Dekker was shot dead. We spoke to Mr McCoy's husband Dr Leonard McCoy, earlier today about the ordeal.
Len's tired face filled the screen. "It's something you never want to imagine...the person you love most in the world at the mercy of someone who only wants to hurt them. If it hadn't been for officer Kennex...I would probably be a widower right now. I'll never be able to properly thank Detective Kennex and his husband for their friendship, and their help in finding Jim. Jim has his recovery ahead of him, and it won't be easy, but I feel incredibly lucky right now."
A male reporter stood next to Len in a perfectly pressed shirt and tie, making the doctor appear even more disheveled.
"Is it true that Jim was with officer Kennex last Friday, before he was taken? Do you feel like that played any part in what happened to him?"
"The guy who took Jim was trying to get to me. He wasn't going to stop. I'm grateful John is part of our lives, for a lot of reasons, but, if it hadn't been for John, and Dorian I know I wouldn't have gotten Jim back. They saved both of us."
The screen changed to the blond girl again, and John set his empty bowl on the coffee table, listening intently as she spoke.
"It should be noted that the Detective went against official protocol, and went after Dekker without the back-up of his android partner, Dorian, who also happens to be his husband. When asked about the police department's reaction to their officer going against regulations, Captain Sandra Maldonado had this to say:
Sandy looked exhausted too, and John began to realize how many people this incident had affected.
"Detective Kennex is absolutely one of our best officers. He doesn't always play by the book, but, good police work is a lot of instinct too. While I can't encourage my officers to 'go rogue', John is a very experienced detective. He knew he was racing against the clock to find Mr McCoy, and he did what he had to do. This department is very lucky to have him."
The reporter continued in her cheery yet serious tone, "Clearly, Mr McCoy was very lucky to have Officer Kennex in his corner. We should also mention that there are two three-year-old little girls who are now orphans. The twins, whose mother died by Dekker's own hand, are currently in a foster home, awaiting further medical and psychological evaluation before being placed in a more permanent setting."
The blond gave a final nod and the screen switched to the man and woman who were anchoring the news report. Another over-eager blond, and some guy with overly styled hair offered their own commentary.
"That's quite a story. How lucky that Officer Kennex was able to find him. And they're friends too, right? Amazing." The blond smiled for the camera.
Her co-anchor nodded, "Isn't that the same officer from a couple of years ago…"
John raised an annoyed, bruised arm, the plastic bracelet still loose on his wrist, and snatched the remote from Dorian. He turned the television off in disgust and the light screen vanished from the wall.
"I was watching that," Dorian sighed. He didn't push the issue though, his eyes fixed on John with concern. The last few days had been horrible, and it couldn't have been fun to see his name in the news again, even in such a positive context. To this day, he was often brought up in news reports about Insyndicate.
"Let's get back to the hospital," John said, obviously antsy.
"It was nice, that news report," Dorian said casually, making no move to get up. He put his hand on top of John's.
"I just did what I had to do to save Jim," John said, pulling his hand free and crossing his arms. He still felt like he was in limbo.
"Well," Dorian said, pushing out a sigh and cocking his head as if searching for the right words, "Not really, John. You saved Jim, but you didn't have to take the risks you decided to take. You could have-"
"Jesus Christ, can we not talk about this?" John asked, vaulting to his feet and grabbing his oatmeal bowl, the spoon clattering loudly against the side as he slammed into their small, galley kitchen off the side of the living room, dropping it loudly into the sink.
Dorian had to smile a little. John always thought he could change the topic of conversation through dramatic gestures and loud noises. He followed to where John was washing out his bowl in an effort to make a racket. It was truly a miracle to see John wash a dish so promptly. When the man opened the dishwasher and slammed the bowl inside, Dorian knew he must be upset.
"John," he said, blocking the only exit from the kitchen, "You chose not to call for backup."
"I'm going to see Jim," John said, shoving past the android who could have easily stopped him.
"Okay," Dorian said, "But you can't avoid this conversation forever."
John walked toward the bedroom as if he hadn't heard the last comment.
"We will discuss what happened."
John scowled at his husband's ominous statement and kicked the bedroom door shut.
Len was taking a catnap in the comfortable recliner next to Jim's bed. He shifted a bit, opening his eyes to check on his husband, and just as it had every other time he glanced over at Jim, emotion hit him like a freight train. He was here, and alive, and Len was going to make sure that no one ever, ever hurt him again. He reached over to caress the skin on the inside of Jim's wrist, on the arm that wasn't wrapped in a cast, and the younger man's eyes fluttered open.
"Hi Darlin' " Len smiled, standing up so he could bend over and kiss Jim on the cheek.
Jim smiled weakly, and keeping his eyes on Len's face, groped for his husband's hand on the bed.
"Hi Lenny." The sound of his scratchy voice made Len's eyes sting with tears, but he blinked them back. He wanted to be strong for Jim. He could deal with his own emotions later.
"Thirsty." Jim rasped, pulling Len out of his thoughts. He grabbed the tall cup of ice that sat on the table over the end of the bed, and fed a few small chunks to Jim with a plastic spoon.
"Not too much now," he cautioned, "go easy."
Jim nodded and closed his eyes, letting his head fall back on the pillow. Every part of his body felt stiff and sore.
"Surgery's over?" he asked.
"Went like clockwork. Dr Chekov says he wants to get you up and walking. He should be by later."
Jim groaned at the thought, but he knew the longer he waited, the more painful it would be. He opened his eyes again and tried to smile at Len, who reached to touch his cheek.
"I'm sorry…" Jim said suddenly, tears clouding his blue eyes.
The words felt like a punch in the gut, and Len caught his breath.
"John wanted to...walk me to the car…"
Len lowered the railing on the side of the bed and moved to take Jim in his arms, trying to maneuver around IV lines, bruises, and a broken arm.
"Hush baby. Don't talk like that. It's not…"
"I should have listened. I was so stupid..." Jim insisted, his good arm wrapped around Len's waist like a vice.
Len shook his head in protest. "I should have told you about that maniac when he showed up at my office. If I had…" Len moved so he could see his husband's face. It was still badly bruised, and the doctor tried not to think too much about how those bruises had gotten there.
"There was a car parked at the end of the block a couple of times last week. I'm sure it was…" Jim shivered, thinking about that man watching their house. Watching them. He leaned into Len again and closed his eyes.
"Can we just stay like this...please?" Jim asked.
"Of course honey. You just...just tell me what you need, alright?" Len sat awkwardly on the edge of the hospital bed, with Jim leaning into him, his head against Len's chest. Both men seemed lost in their own thoughts.
"I was so scared…" Jim's voice was barely above a whisper. Len closed his eyes, and felt a sharp pain in his chest. "I knew I wasn't coming home...knew I'd never see you again."
He could barely get the last word out, and Len cradled Jim's head while the younger man's body shook with silent sobs.
"You're safe now darlin'. I promise." Len's own voice was shaky, as he willed himself to keep his own emotions in check. Jim clung to him, unable to do anything but cry. The doctor in Leonard knew this was a good thing. It was a start to letting go of some of the fear and pain that Jim had suffered. The other part of him however, the part that was a husband, could hardly stand to see Jim like this.
"I tried...tried to figure a way...but there wasn't…" Jim hiccupped around the words that tumbled out.
"It's alright honey…" Len soothed. "It's alright now."
"He killed his own wife. Did you know that?" Jim looked up into Len's dark green eyes and the older man nodded. "He killed her...that's when I knew, he wasn't going to let me go…" Jim licked his lips, tasting his own tears. "He was just going to keep sending you those fucking pictures until…"
"Jim…" Len's voice broke. He didn't think he could listen to anymore right now.
Jim broke down again, and there was nothing for Leonard to do but hold him. Several minutes passed before the younger man's sobs turned to quiet weeping, as Len rubbed his back. Finally, he laid his husband back against the pillows and wiped away the last of his tears.
"I want to go home." Jim said, his voice hoarse from crying.
"I know," Len said quietly, carding his fingers through the dark blonde hair that was left on Jim's head.
"Perhaps I can help you wis zat." Dr Chekov nodded when the couple turned at the sound of his voice.
"Afternoon Doctor." Len wiped at his own eyes quickly and held out his hand.
Chekov acknowledged his colleague before turning to his patient.
"How are you feeling, Jim?" he asked as he took a look at the pad with Jim's chart information.
Jim sniffled, feeling disoriented and sore. "I'm awake. That's a start I guess."
Chekov smiled and looked at the bruising on the other man's face. Why was it that bruising always looked worse as it was getting better?
"I would like to see you take a walk ziz evening, if you are able. Just down ze hall and back for now. We will recast your arm tomorrow I think." He nodded to himself, as Leonard tried to sneak a peek at what he was entering into the pad. The shorter man glanced over his shoulder and smiled.
"Do you wish to consult, Dr McCoy?"
Len blushed at getting caught. "Oh...sorry…" he scratched the back of his neck and shifted his weight from one foot to the other. Jim lay looking up at the ceiling, seeming to be a million miles away.
"Actually," Dr Chekov glanced at Jim once more, and seeing that the injured man had closed his eyes, he continued. "I vould like to speak vith you for a moment"
The younger, curly-haired physician led McCoy out into the hall.
"Is something wrong, Pavel?" Len's heavy brows knitted together in concern. "Jim's arm is ready for the cast isn't it?"
"Yes of course," Chekov made a dismissive motion with his hand, leaving McCoy even more confused. "It iz not his physical healing I vish to discuss."
Len let out a sigh and nodded, waiting for the other man to continue.
"You are aware he vill suffer many after effects from ziz ordeal, yes?"
In addition to his medical degree, McCoy had a PhD in psychology. He was painfully aware of the struggles that his husband was facing.
"I am. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get him through this."
"You are an excellent physician Dr. McCoy. Sometimes it is not easy to be objective vith someone that ve love."
"I vould like to suggest zat Jim speak vith someone, before he is discharged, and I zink that you both vould benefit from talk therapy."
"Jim is my main concern. I can handle this just fine. As long as he…"
"Ziz has affected you as vell Doctor." Chekov glanced pointedly at Len's feet and the older doctor felt uneasy for some reason.
"You have not had anyone examine you since Jim vas brought in?"
"Me? What for?" Len scowled at the doctor with the cherubic face, wondering what the hell he was getting at.
"Your feet doctor. If stitches vere necessary, it is too late now but…"
"How…" Len cut him off in surprise. "How did you know about…"
"You underestimate me because I am young Leonard?" Chekov smiled knowingly at him. "Zat iz surprising considering who you are married to."
Len stood with his mouth hanging open as the Russian continued. "I am saying zat your emotional health is just as important as Jim's. Perhaps more since you are his support system. You must take care of yourself, yes?"
Len took as shaky breath as the words sank in, and nodded.
"You know Doctor Spock? He is an excellent therapist vith experience in treating patients who suffer from post-traumatic stress."
"I know him," Len nodded. How ironic that he'd probably end up talking to the doctor he'd recommended for John.
"His viife, Dr. Uhura has recently joined his practice. She is highly regarded as vell, and I zink her personality might be better suited to Jim. It is your decision of course, but…"
"Thank you Pavel." McCoy shoved his hands in the pockets of the scrubs he was wearing, his nerves suddenly on edge. Jim was home, but they had a long road ahead.
Chekov nodded, and laid a hand on McCoy's arm. I vill send in a nurse to help Jim get up for avhile. He also needs to eat. Vhatever he vould like."
"Of course. Thank…"
"Do not vorry Leonard. If Jim vere not strong, he vould not have survived this. The love you have is a source of strength also. You must rely on that."
With words of wisdom well beyond his years, Dr Chekov took his leave. Len stood in the hall a moment longer, his mind trying to process everything that had occurred in the last ninety-six hours.
The sound of Jim's still-scratchy voice brought the man out of his own head as he hurried back to his husband's side.
Jim smiled up at him and reached for his hand. "I'm...sort of hungry. Did Dr Chekov say I could eat?"
Len smiled back, thrilled beyond measure that Jim was asking for food. It was something normal, and a sign that he was healing.
"Anything you want darlin'. Just say the word." Len hit the buzzer for the nurses station, feeling Jim's big blue eyes watch him.
"What is it baby?" he asked softly, squeezing Jim's hand.
The younger man glanced away for a moment, his face actually coloring with embarrassment.
"It's…" his voice caught in his throat, and Len watched Jim's eyes fill with tears.
"What is it Jimmy?" Len moved closer and cupped his face, his heart squeezing as Jim leaned into the touch, closing his eyes.
"It's stupid…" he whispered almost fiercely.
"No honey, just tell me. If I can do it for you…"
"Can you cut my hair...please?"
Chapter 15: For You
While You Were Sleeping
Chapter 15: For You
"You don't have any bears with casts on their arms?" John gestured to a massive wall of stuffed animals.
This was the fourth toy store they had visited and Dorian stood there, arms folded, watching his husband berate another teenaged store clerk over something beyond her control. He was desperate for a bear with an arm in a cast to match the one Jim had given him when his synthetic leg was replaced.
The young girl looked near tears as she chewed her lip, her eyes roaming the shelves. Finally she reached out and plucked a bear down, holding it out to John. "This one has a synthetic arm, will that work?"
John took the bear and waved it about. "Sure, sure, thanks. I'll just cut my friends arm off and this'll be perfect."
"John…" Dorian sighed as the girl ran off in search of a manager and the frustrated cop slammed the teddy bear back into the shelves. John took a few gulping breaths while holding onto a shelf.
Dorian slipped his hand on the back of John's neck and squeezed gently. He knew his husband struggled with anger but he couldn't go crazy on a teenaged girl over a teddy bear. "Let's go," the DRN suggested, rubbing his fingers into John's muscles. "Jim doesn't need a bear but I'm sure he'd like to see you."
Looking up and shrugging the comforting hand off, John took a deep breath and hovered his hand over the shelves before grabbing a normal teddy bear and storming to the check out. Thier next step was a drug store and Dorian watched in awed silence as John wrestled with the teddy bear in the passenger seat. He was wrapping its fluffy little arm in gauze. When he finally got it perfect, he examined his work from every angle then pulled out a marker and wrote as neatly as he could, signing his name on the little bear's cast. Then he handed the bear and the marker over to Dorian to do the same.
"You are so sweet when you want to be," Dorian said, an uncontrolled smile on his face as he took the gift and scrawled his name perfectly on the tiny arm.
John took the bear back and held it tight in his arms. "He was….I need to do something special for him while he's there. In the hospital."
Dorian put his hand on John's hand gently, "Sorry if I teased you," he said, "this is really nice of you, John."
"Can we just get to the hospital now?" John asked, he seemed anxious as the afternoon marched toward evening.
Dorian rolled the engine over and drove them to the downtown hospital, parking the car in the garage. As they entered the corridor that lead to the main hospital, John held up his hand to shield his eyes from the camera flashes that blinded him to the surging crowd of reporters shouting his name. "Detective Kennex!" they cried, swarming him. Soft microphone covers were pressed to his chin and lips and the strangers from behind him held onto his coat in the back, deceptively trying to hold him in place for questioning.
Dorian was separated from John and completely ignored by the sea of screeching reporters. "How did you find Mr. Kirk-McCoy?" one woman repeated over and over while a man at his side asked, "What is your relationship to the victim?" Another person prodded at the gift in John's clutches and piped, "Is that teddy bear for Jim?"
Dorian pushed at the crowd politely at first but with growing urgency he began to knock cameramen and reports out of the way to reach his husband. John was high strung, sleep deprived, and still struggling with long-standing anger management issues. Any minute now he was gonna knock someone's teeth into their throat or pull his weapon and that was the last thing anyone needed. Dorian was especially, personally invested in ensuring that John didn't break the law or anyone's jaw at this point in time.
When he finally muscled his way to John, he could tell the man was on the verge of a snap. He held John's wrist tight and gave it a squeeze. Then he helped push through the hall with the man in tow. John batted away microphones and kept his head down and turned away from the cameras. The reporters were on their heels all the way to the elevator despite hospital security urging them back. Once the doors slid closed, John slumped against the wall in exhaustion. "What the fuck was that?" he grumbled.
"This is an exciting story for the spectators," Dorian sighed, licking his fingers and fixing John's rogue eyebrow.
John slapped his hand away and then the elevator doors opened to their floor and they walked to Jim's room.
They found Jim up and awake in bed, eating an impressive tray of food, his whole head shorn and his face still a blossom of bruises and cuts. The room was overflowing with flowers, cards and gifts. There were four or five nurses gathered around the bed, talking with Jim while Len busied himself putting notes in Jim's chart. John suddenly felt shy, torn between not wanting to share this visit with anyone else, and fearing that Jim would rather talk to his friends from the hospital than to a sullen, exhausted cop.
The kid had become very important to John, and caring so much about anyone other than his husband was something he was still getting used to. The tall man hung back in the doorway, not budging, even as Dorian gave him a confused look and pulled on his hand. John didn't want to talk to all these people, he just wanted to see Jim.
Just then, Jim glanced up and saw his friends in the doorway. His smile was so bright that it lit up the room.
"John! Dorian!" Jim said, suddenly halting the conversations around him. Kennex blushed as everyone turned to look at him, a couple of the nurses whispering to each other as he entered the room.
"Hey kid." John gave him a little smile, holding the bandaged bear in his hand. He'd been proud of his handiwork on the toy, but next to the impressive bouquets and cards that lined every flat surface, it looked cheap.
"Go ahead John," Dorian smiled encouragingly, making Kennex feel even more awkward.
John pulled the bear out of the jacket pocket that he'd stuffed it into, and held it out to Jim.
Jim smiled, a soft look on his bruised face. "Is this for me?" he asked, touching it almost reverently. "Where did you…"
"I uh…" John cleared his throat. "I made it...the bandage anyway."
Jim looked at the little ball of stuffing in his hands, holding it as though it was a precious, Faberge egg. "I love it." he declared, as his eyes filled with tears.
He placed the bear on his lap, and reached for John with his good arm to give him a hug. John, who was more than a little uncomfortable with any public show of emotion, rested his cheek on top of Jim's head, and hugged him back without a second thought.
"You know, I hate to say it," An older nurse suddenly spoke up, "but we should probably be going. " She gave her younger colleagues a look and they began to make motions toward leaving.
"It was so nice of you all to come by and see me." Jim told them, pulling away from John and wiping at his eyes.
"I'll stop by tomorrow too, Jim." The older nurse put a hand on Jim's shoulder and bent down to kiss his temple.
"I might be home by then." Jim commented hopefully.
"I doubt it." McCoy answered in a gruff, annoyed tone. Jim referred to it as his "doctor voice".
"See ya Jim." one of the other nurses called as the group filed out the door.
"They didn't have to leave…" John began, covering up his relief that the strangers were gone.
"I'm kind of glad they did." Jim smiled, "I want to sit with you for awhile."
Len looked to Dorian and asked, "Did you run into the vultures downstairs?"
"Yeah," Dorian confirmed, his hand resting protectively at the small of John's back. "I'm surprised they're respecting this space."
"I ordered it," Len said, "They're not allowed past the first floor."
John nodded in approval, his hands knotting on the hard plastic side of the bed.
"Can I buy you a cup of coffee, Len?" Dorian asked. Leonard walked over to move the tray full of food away from Jim's bed, and motioned for John to sit in the recliner he'd been living in over the last several hours.
"Actually, I was thinking about getting some dinner at that diner across the street. They have great coffee." He helped Jim sit up and fluffed the pillows behind him. "You okay if I leave for a little bit, darlin'? Half an hour or so?"
Jim nodded and smiled. "I think I'm in good hands."
John looked at McCoy in surprise. If anything happened, which it wouldn't, the place was crawling with doctors. It was a hospital, but still...John felt uneasy. The last time Jim had been left to his care, the unthinkable had happened.
"Want me to bring you anything?" Dorian asked, placing his hand over John's.
"No thanks. I'm good." Dorian leaned down to kiss John's cheek, and to his surprise, the dark-haired detective turned to capture his lips.
"Love you, Jimmy." Leonard said, as he and Dorian exited the room, closing the door behind them. Len was surprised that he'd been able to get those words out without his voice cracking this time.
"Are you sure you want to leave?" Dorian asked. "We can go to the cafeteria."
"It's just across the street. I know I gotta give him a little space...but I wouldn't do it for anybody but John."
Dorian put an arm around the doctor as they walked. "Thank you Len. Thank you."
"Were there a lot of reporters downstairs?" Jim asked. He could tell that John was nervous and he didn't quite know what to do.
"Seemed like it." John stared down at his hands for a moment.
"I wish Len would let me talk to them. I want everybody to know what you did for me."
John turned to look at the younger man in shock. "What I did for you? Fucking almost got you killed is what I did."
Jim cringed, hearing the way John spat out his words. He couldn't stand the idea that John might feel guilty about what had happened.
"I should've walked you to your car. I see the shit that goes on in that district every day. I'm a fucking cop for god's sake…"
"I should've listened to you. I should've turned on my cellphone," Jim countered.
John shook his head, "Don't turn this around on me Jim..."
The younger man turned, and reached through the bedrails to grab John's arm. "You risked your life for me John. He could've killed you…"
"If I'd had my head on straight none of this would've happened in the first pl…"
Jim squeezed the other man's arm tightly, closing his eyes against the images that burst to life behind his eyes. He would never forget watching that monster crawl toward John on the floor, holding that fireplace poker in his hand. "Please stop."
John hung his head with a sigh. He hadn't meant to hurt Jim, but it seemed he'd done it again.
"Sorry", he murmured. "I didn't mean…" He looked up at his friend, taking in all of the bruises that covered his face and arms. "I'm sorry Jim."
"You saved me John. You found me and...you got me out." Jim's voice cracked, and John felt his eyes burn with tears. Jim gripped his hand and choked back a sob that turned to laughter when Kennex tried unsuccessfully to lower the bedrail.
"Goddammit!" he swore through clenched teeth. "I hate these fucking things."
"I'd help you," Jim explained with a smile as tears ran down his face. "but I only have one arm right now." That remark got a smile out of the dour detective as well.
Finally removing the barrier between them, the pair embraced, with John laying a hand gently on the top of Jim's buzz cut. For his part, Jim was quiet, squeezing the bigger man tightly for several long moments before laying back against the pillows. The pair sat in companionable silence for a few minutes, before Jim spoke again.
"I keep seeing it...that place." He refused to refer to that filthy hell hole as a house. "As long as somebody's talking to me, I can forget for a second but.."
"It's harder when it's quiet." John observed.
"Len keeps telling me to rest. Every time my mind wanders…"
"You should talk to him about it, Jim." John observed the man in the hospital bed. The megawatt smile he'd worn earlier was now replaced with dark under his eyes.
"I don't want him to worry. I'm so...so glad to be home. I know he's exhausted."
"You have to, Jim. It's important."
"So who did you talk to when you first woke up?"
"Doctors." John shrugged, not feeling very comfortable with the turn this conversation was taking.
"What about Dorian? Do you ever…"
"Sure…" John glanced at the man next to him and backtracked a bit. "I mean...we have talked about what happened. He knows everything." John chuckled to himself. "If he'd been around in the very beginning I might be a lot further along than I am now but...you can't keep it inside, Jim. I know what I'm talking about, believe me."
The blond sighed, absently caressing the fuzzy bear that lay next to him.
"I know you're right," Jim conceded.
"Good." John nodded, glad that they'd settled the issue. After a moment though, Jim spoke again.
"I know I need to talk to somebody. Len won't ask questions right now, until I tell him I'm ready to talk about it."
"He loves you, Jim. He just wants everything to be...okay. He wants to help you."
"I love him. More than anybody will ever know. I can't…" Jim sighed, searching for the right words, as John waited expectantly.
"I don't want him to know about what happened. I don't want it to touch our life. I don't want it in my home. I just want to be with Len and get back to my theater, and…"
"I thought you said you were gonna talk to somebody," John reminded him quietly.
"I will if I need to. But I don't want that darkness in our lives, John."
John sighed. He understood what Jim was trying to say. He also knew that it wasn't possible. Things would be different now. Different for all of them.
"I can talk to you though, right?" Jim was cradling the bear in his arms, and looked up at John, his voice suddenly small and unsure.
"Sure, Jim. Whatever you need."
"Good." Jim swallowed, looking at the foot of the bed rather than at John. "You're the only one..the only one who really knows."
John wanted to ask what he meant by that, but a nurse came into the room right then to check Jim's vitals. John noticed it was the same idiot nurse that he'd encountered when he woke up this morning. She did a double take when she saw him sitting next to the bed, and then set her jaw, as though she was ready for a fight.
"Good evening, Mr. McCoy. Did you enjoy your dinner?" she asked, taking in the discarded trays of food in the corner.
"Yes, thank you. It was very good."
John huffed a laugh. "Pig slop tastes good when you're starving," he mumbled.
The nurse and Jim both gave him a look, and Jim smacked him on the arm, trying to keep him quiet. "Just sayin'" the detective explained.
"If you'll step outside please," the nurse pinned John with her eyes. "I just need to check Mr McCoy's vitals and…"
"He can stay." Jim interrupted, patting John in the same spot where he'd just slapped him. "I'd like for him to stay."
The nurse glanced at John, who raised an eyebrow in triumph. He leaned back into the recliner, threading his fingers behind his head in an exaggerated pose as she fussed over Jim, checking his blood pressure and fluid intake.
"Any idea when I can bust out of here?" Jim asked with a wink.
"You're doing much better than this morning, but you'll have to ask your doctor about that." she said.
"Ask his doctor about what?" Len walked into the room with Dorian right behind.
"Jim was asking Nurse Ratched here…" at the reference to a sadistic nurse from a well-known old movie, the nurse at the foot of the bed shot daggers at John with her eyes. "Sorry...Nurse Randall. I misread the name tag."
Dorian rolled his eyes and Jim looked at John curiously, wondering what he'd missed.
"He was asking when he might be discharged, Dr McCoy." The nurse interrupted in a cold, professional tone.
"Well," Len cleared his throat, trying to not to laugh at John's "mistake." "If you can eat a couple more good meals, and get up and around tomorrow, once the new cast is on…"
"So maybe tomorrow?" Jim asked excitedly.
"We'll see Jim. Gotta get the sign-off from Dr. Chekov first."
The nurse made a last note in Jim's chart before she turned to leave. "I'll be on duty tonight Mr. McCoy. Let me know if you need anything."
"Thank you." Jim smiled sweetly at her.
As she walked out the door, John turned to wave. "Bye Nurse Ratch...er Randall."
Len laughed in spite of himself. "You beat all, John Kennex."
"You're incorrigible." Dorian scolded as Kennex stood up from the chair and stretched.
"What are you talking about?" Jim asked looking back and forth at all the faces in the room.
"I'll tell you later kid. I think it's time for us to get going."
"But you just got here." Jim whined.
Len smiled and walked over to take his young husband's hand. "I think you need some rest Jim. It's been a long day."
Dorian nodded in agreement as he took in the doctor's wrinkled clothes and sallow complexion.
"What do you need Len?" he asked. "Can we bring you back a change of clothes or…"
"Nah...m'fine." McCoy waved away the offer with his hand, but Jim sat up a little straighter. "Yes please...I hate to ask but…"
"It's no problem." John smiled. "What do you need doc?"
McCoy sighed. He hated being in this position. He was the caregiver. It wasn't supposed to be the other way around, and besides that, it had been a long damn time since he'd had friends close enough that he'd ask for this kind of help. Maybe too long.
"Well, I guess...if you…"
"Maybe a change of clothes and some pajamas for both of you?" Dorian offered helpfully.
"That would be wonderful." Len smiled, grateful for the gesture, and the fact that he didn't have to say the words out loud.
"You should have them water the plants, Len." The doctor gave Jim a look, but John spoke up again before Len could protest.
"Sure. Anything else?"
"Can you bring me the book that's on the nightstand? The one on the left side of the bed."
Dorian nodded. "We'll be back shortly"
Jim smiled brightly at the detectives from the middle of hospital bed. "Bye guys."
"Bye Jim," John smiled back and then followed his partner out into the hall.
Chapter 16: If Only For Your Good
While You Were Sleeping
Chapter 16: If Only For Your Good
The pair had barely made it into the squad car when a call came in from the station.
"It's the captain." Dorian said softly.
"Well...fuck." John sighed loudly and then growled in frustration. He knew what was coming. "Put it on speaker so we can get this over with."
"Hey Sandra, what's up?" He was too tired right now for formalities.
"This is an official phone call, John." despite the words she spoke, both men could hear the slight smile in her voice.
"Understood." Kennex gripped the steering wheel and kept his eyes on the road.
"How are you doing? Head better?"
"Yep." John answered in the affirmative even though his head was killing him.
"That's good to hear." Came the reply. "Just wanted to let you know that you're on administrative leave for the next week, starting now."
"What? Sandy I don't need…"
"This isn't a request John. You need to recover fully, and it'll take a few days for the press around all of this to die down. I don't want to see either of you at the station for the next week. Paul can handle your case load."
"More like fuck it up." John grumbled. Dorian sighed pointedly and John gave him a dirty look.
"Speaking of that…" Captain Maldonado paused again for emphasis. "There is one other thing that we need to discuss."
John bit the inside of his cheek to keep quiet. The last thing he needed right now was to say something he couldn't take back.
"You know what I'm going to say John. You know that protocol requires that your partner be with you during any investigation, especially one as sensitive and risky as the scene at the Dekker house."
"Risky?" John huffed. "What's risky about a hoarder's shack?"
"Dekker could have shown up at any time…"
Kennex laughed derisively at her statement. "He was too busy getting his jollies off beating on Jim. There was no chance in hell he'd show up back there. Especially with…"
"I could grant you that Detective, but there was NO reason for you not to call for back-up when you realized where Mr McCoy was being held captive."
John sighed loudly, keeping his eyes straight ahead, so he wouldn't have to look at Dorian right now.
"I understand why you did it John, believe me, but it can't happen again." Maldonado was silent then, letting her words sink in. When John didn't respond however, she continued.
"Are you there Detective?"
"Yes." John's voice was tight as he fought with his own emotions.
"Can you at least acknowledge understanding?" Now it was Sandra's turn to sound annoyed. John was a brilliant detective, but he was also a huge pain in the ass.
"Are you gonna write me up for this?" Kennex asked.
"I'm required to document your file John. I'm also documenting that the suspect was successfully apprehended, and the hostage was saved. All due to your detective work."
John let out a breath, and the feeling of exhaustion that he'd been keeping at bay washed over him.
"Thanks." he said, his voice almost hollow.
"Get some rest, John. Both of you, get some rest. Let me know if you need anything."
With that, Maldonado signed off, and the couple drove on through the night, back to the McCoy house.
They picked up the items that had been requested, watered the plants and put the mail on the kitchen counter, then headed back to the hospital. Dorian was driving this time, watching John doze in the passenger seat. It was almost 9PM, and the android knew his husband must be completely worn out.
"Don't scan me." John said suddenly, in a voice that was something between a yawn and a growl.
"I wasn't." Dorian smirked.
"Liar." John still had his eyes closed, reaching across the seat to punch Dorian lightly in the arm.
"And you were the one griping about the Captain giving us the week off."
"She's doing it because of the damn reporters."
Dorian glanced at him as he turned the corner and pulled into the hospital parking lot. "She doing it because you were hurt John, and because this case was very...personal for you. For both of us."
John grunted in response, crossing his arms in front of himself and closing his eyes again.
"You're going right to bed when we get home. We can talk in the morning."
John cracked open one tired eye, and looked at his partner. He didn't like it when Dorian used that tone. His 'Dad' tone. He'd been getting by with it more lately, but John didn't like being told what to do. Especially not when he was sore and fucking exhausted.
"The fuck is there to talk about?" he griped, "Everything's over."
Dorian gave him a look and opened the driver's side door to get out. With a heavy sigh, John followed.
The pair dropped off clothes, books and sundries to their grateful friends, with promises to check in with each other in the morning.
They made their way back to the cruiser, with Dorian opening the passenger side door for John and motioning for him to get in the car. John scowled, and Dorian looked at him unapologetically.
"I can open my own door, dammit! Stop treating me like a fucking invalid."
"I'm trying to help you, John. That's what partners are supposed to do for each other." Dorian pinned him to the spot with steely blue eyes. "I guess I shouldn't be shocked though, considering how little consideration you have for your partner."
Dorian slammed the door, and stalked to the driver's side of the car, leaving John sputtering at his unusual display of anger.
"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" John demanded, as Dorian threw himself into the cruiser and started the engine.
"Really? Do you really want to do this right now?" Dorian turned toward John, his face hard, his lips in a thin, determined line.
"Do what? You're the one slamming shit around and yelling at me! Like I haven't had enough crap to deal with! Did you not charge this morning?"
If Dorian had been human, he would have had a vein pulsing in his forehead at that moment. As it was, he stared blankly at his husband, and silently worked through some simple algorithms in an attempt to calm down. It didn't seem to help.
"Why is it that every time I feel any emotion that isn't happiness, you attribute it to a low charge? Don't you realize I'm capable of feeling a range of emotions? I thought you at least understood that much by now."
The physical toll of the last few days, along with the emotional overload that he'd suffered, left John ill-equipped to deal with his more logical spouse. He just wanted to go home and go to sleep.
"I'm angry, John. I'm angry at you for putting yourself at risk. Again!"
"Aww Jesus...here we go," Kennex let out an exasperated sigh and squeezed his eyes shut.
"This isn't funny, John."
"Do I look like I'm fucking laughing, Dorian?" John jerked his head up and glared at his husband.
"All you had to do was call me." Dorian said, in a low even tone. "If not me, then somebody. Anybody. One phone call."
"I didn't have time…"
"Bullshit." Dorian leaned forward and pointed an accusatory finger in John's face.
"You're telling me that it didn't cross your mind once from the time you left Dekker's house until you made it to the Argo District? Maybe when you turned your phone off?" Dorian gave John a look that dared him to deny the truth in his statement.
"I saved his life goddammit! I'm not gonna sit here and be interrogated by you!" John made a move to open the car door, but Dorian reached across and grabbed John's arm.
"You're not going anywhere. Not until I've finished speaking."
The force of Dorian's grip, and something in the tone of his voice gave John pause. He looked at the man across from him, a being that he had been to hell and back with. His partner, his friend, his husband. John felt cold in the pit of his stomach, and he wondered if maybe this time he'd pushed Dorian too far.
"You weren't even wearing a vest John. Nothing. There was nothing between you and that maniac." Dorian's eyes glittered, and John sighed, scrambling for an excuse.
"It's the job Dee, once I realized where he was I…"
"No it's not. That's not the job. The job is to be safe and follow protocol. It's there for a reason. Dekker could have gunned you down and then what would Jim have done? What would I have done, John?"
John scrubbed at his eyes, growling in frustration.
"Would you approve of me going into that situation alone, with only one weapon?"
Dorian waited only a moment before continuing. "Answer me, John! If it had been me…"
"No! NO! I fucked up alright! I admit it!" John broke away from Dorian's hand that now held his arm gently, and slammed his fist into the dashboard.
"It could've all gone to hell...it almost did!" John gestured toward the large bump still visible on his forehead. "I just...fuck Dorian, I…"
"I just want to understand why you do this." Dorian interrupted. "I used to think it was because of the raid, because of everything you…"
"Not everything is just about that," John said quickly, cutting him off.
"Then explain it to me John. Explain why you constantly put yourself in these situations, without a thought for the consequences."
John took a shaky breath, his eyes shining as he looked out through the windshield at the dark hospital parking lot.
"I...I had to fix it. I didn't want you there in case something went down. I had to fix this myself."
"John…" Dorian reached over to cover John's hand with his own. "You have to realize that happened to Jim…"
"Don't. Don't fucking say it. It was my fault. I left him there."
John bit his lip and glanced over at Dorian, then looked away. "I keep thinking about how horrible it must have been when that guy grabbed him. When he woke up in that fucking hell hole." A shiver went through his body, and Dorian tried to move closer, but John seemed to curl in on himself.
"I was walking up to that house, and I knew he was in there. I knew it. I kept thinking, even if I couldn't do anything last time...at least I had a chance to save Jim."
Dorian said nothing for a moment, simply squeezing John's hand.
"You did it." he finally whispered.
"Yeah." Kennex took another shaky breath, not bothering to hide the tear the trickled down his cheek. "I'm...I'm sorry Dee…"
Dorian reached up to catch another tear on his fingertips. "You know you're not alone anymore. You have more than yourself to think about."
"I know," John said quietly. He allowed Dorian to gently turn his face so that he could look at him.
"Do you John? Do you understand what it would do to me if something happened to you? Especially if it was something that could have been prevented?"
John looked up at his husband with beautiful, tired eyes, and Dorian felt his synthetic heart overflow.
"Sometimes I feel like you're just waiting for the bottom to fall out."
"It usually does. At least for me."
"I want us to be happy John. I want to make you happy."
"You do. More that I can say."John answered quickly, threading his fingers with Dorian's. "I still can't believe...it still scares me sometimes. Last time I was happy, it was all a lie." Kennex sighed heavily, upset with himself that he was still allowing the pain of his past to keep him from the present in some way.
Dorian caressed the side of his face, and let his fingers comb through John's hair. He smiled when his husband leaned back into the touch.
"I'm not going anywhere, John. I thought I made that clear when we got married." Dorian winked at him and Kennex smiled back, ducking his head a bit. "I need you. I'm planning on getting on your nerves for years to come, so you can't play the lone wolf anymore, understood?"
John nodded, trying to take a breath without sniffling.
"Jim is going to need you now too, more than ever. Please remember that from now on. Remember how much I love you."
The bigger man nodded, as fresh tears filled his eyes. Dorian pulled him into an embrace that lasted for several long moments.
"I love you too." John finally whispered. "I'm...I'm sorry."
Dorian squeezed him tightly and kissed the top of his head. "Ready to go home so I can tuck you into bed?" John took a deep breath and positioned himself so that his head was in Dorian's lap, his eyes sliding closed.
"I'll take that as a yes." The android smiled and put the car into drive, finally heading home.
Chapter 17: Hold On To Me As We Go
While You Were Sleeping
Chapter 17: Hold On To Me As We Go
John turned over and snuggled closer to the warm, solid body next to his. He seemed to sink deeper into the bed and under the covers, sighing contentedly as a pair of strong arms held him tightly. After a few more moments, he moved again, slowly waking up.
“Good morning.” Dorian smiled against John’s forehead and kissed the bump that looked much better than it had the night before.
“Mmmm.” was the only reply that John gave as he buried his face in the android’s neck.
“Did you sleep ok?”
John nodded, letting one hand move over Dorian’s hip,to his backside and pulling him closer.
Dorian was still for a few moments before attempting to untangle himself from his sleepy husband.
“I’ll be back…” he smiled, placing another kiss on the top of John’s head.
“Where you goin’?” John whined, moving toward Dorian even as he tried to get out of bed.
“I thought I’d make you breakfast.”
“Too early.” John stated, pulling on Dorian’s hand until the other man relented, and the pair were one again entwined together under the covers.
“You feel like cuddling, huh?” Dorian pulled on John’s t-shirt, and the bigger man allowed it to be pulled gently over his head, enjoying the feeling of Dorian’s warm hands on his bare skin.
“Love you Dee.” John spoke the words quietly. He didn’t say the words out loud as often as Dorian did, but he meant them with every fiber of his being. “You know that right?”
Dorian smiled down at his husband. No one was sweeter than John when he was half asleep. “I love you too Baby.”
“Let’s just stay right here for a week.” the dark-haired man declared.
“We could,” Dorian observed, “since we have the week off.”
“Feels so good to be home. To be here” John whispered. It seemed like weeks since they’d been anywhere but the hospital.
Dorian pulled John’s sleep pants down over his hips, and then removed his own shirt. Once they were both naked, he pulled John underneath him and kissed him.
“I was scared.” John whispered as Dorian kissed his neck. The other man moved to look into John’s eyes, letting his fingers thread through thick brown hair.
“Of what honey?”
“Scared that that psycho freak was gonna kill me...gonna kill Jim.”
Dorian sighed and pulled John closer. Obviously he’d been thinking about this more than Dorian had given him credit for.
“Me too.” He allowed John to turn onto his back, laying on his side so he could watch the expression on his husband’s face.
“Everything has been pretty great since we got married...no fuckin’ way was I gonna get taken out by that hulk. We still have to go camping.”
Dorian grinned and ran his fingers over John’s chest and down to his torso. “When did we decide that again?” he asked.
“You promised, and you’re not gonna weasel out of it.” John grabbed his hand and squeezed for emphasis.
“I seem to recall there being a few conditions tied to that promise Jonathan.”
John rolled his eyes. “Are you gonna be a hardass about that?”
“You like it when I’m a hardass.” Dorian’s hand slipped beneath the covers to fondle John’s growing erection. “See?” He leaned over and nipped at John’s jaw as the color rose in the other man’s cheeks. “Just thinking about it turns you on.”
Dorian cradled John’s balls in his palm and sucked on his bottom lip, making him moan.
“Shall we talk about the rules John?”
John swallowed, and nodded his head, then when Dorian raised an eyebrow, he spoke up. “Yes...please.”
“There’s my good boy.”
John flushed at the praise. and thrust into the hand that now held his cock.
“You like being my good boy don’t you? Doing things that no one will ever know about except you and me…” Dorian kissed the shell of John’s ear as he whispered into it, smiling as he felt the shiver that went through the detective’s body.
“And while we’re away...away from home, away from everything, we’ll be able to do whatever we want. Won’t that be wonderful?”
“I can even feed you in bed every morning…”
John caught his breath, thinking about it. It was one of the most intimate things they did with each other, in John’s mind, and didn’t happen often. Just talking about it turned him inside out.
Dorian caressed John’s face, his eyes drinking in the details of this man who was the most important being in his world.
“Always so strong for everyone else...so brave.” he whispered. “You need someone to take care of you.”
“Never had anybody take care of me like you do, Dee. Never had anybody love me like you do.”
Dorian smiled slowly at him, pressing his own rigid cock against John’s and taking them both in hand.
“You’re mine John...always.” John bit his lip as Dorian whispered wantonly to him, stroking them both with increasing speed, his body pinning John to the bed.
“ Yes...yes...I’m your’s...”
“Tell me John. Tell me again.”
The way Dorian said his name made John moan, and buck his hips off the bed.
“Always yours…” he panted, his hands grasping at Dorian’s strong shoulders. Dorian smiled, slowing his strokes just a bit.
“You’re so hard for me baby.” He leaned down to capture John’s lips in a messy kiss, leaving the other man whimpering in protest when he pulled away. “You’re ready aren’t you?”
John nodded, his green eyes almost black with desire. “Please…”
“My beautiful boy.” Dorian breathed the words, and John roared his release, his body jerking almost painfully.
Dorian pumped him through it, and then brought his hand up to John’s mouth, tracing his lips with a cum-covered finger.
“Open.” he coaxed, and John parted his lips, taking Dorian’s fingers inside and swirling his tongue over them until they came out clean.
“Breakfast isn’t the only thing you like to be fed.”
John’s neck turned red and Dorian chuckled, “Don’t be embarrassed. Don’t you know how sexy you are?”
John’s blush deepened even more and Dorian rolled his hips against the other man, reminding John that he was still hard. “I’m always thinking about you. Thinking about you like this.” Dorian nuzzled his neck and John let out a breathless sigh, his spent member trying valiantly to rally.
“Will you come inside me…please?” John ran his hands over Dorian’s bare back and spread his legs for the other man.
Dorian rocked his hips again, his teeth grazing the skin beneath John’s collarbone. “I hate to say no when you’ve asked so nicely...but we can save that for later. Do you know what I’d like to do right now?”
John’s half-closed eyes darkened with renewed desire at Dorian’s question.
“It’s something very special.”
“Anything…” John whispered. “You can do anything you want to.”
Dorian leaned down to kiss him, and John pulled him close, not wanting the embrace to end. He needed this. Needed to feel close to Dorian, after the horrible days they had just lived through. When they finally parted, Dorian spoke.
“I want to mark you...with my cum.”
John’s voice sounded smaller, younger when he was alone with Dorian like this, allowing his husband to see a side of him that no one else was ever privvy to. He still held Dorian tightly against him, his arms and legs wrapped around the other man. He loved to be marked. To feel Dorian’s warmth spilling out onto his skin. This was another, very private pleasure that they shared.
“Yes I do. I want you to see how much I love you John.”
Dorian brought John’s right hand down to his ridgid member, and then covered it with his own. He was slick and hard, and John moaned feeling the weight of his cock. Dorian braced himself above his husband, their foreheads barely touching.
Their joined hands moved slowly at first, then faster. “Feels so good John....”
“Fuck...Dorian...do it. Mark me...cover me…” John pleaded.
He let out a hiss of surprise as the first warm stripe of cum hit his chest. A second one followed close behind, marking John from his neck to his torso, and Dorian’s low growl of pleasure made John’s stomach quiver with want. His own moans were lost to a hungry kiss, as Dorian continued to empty himself onto his husband’s willing body.
When it was over, both of them lay still, with Dorian feeling the wave of euphoria that came at the end of his orgasm, and John trying to catch his breath.
“That was…” John closed his eyes, unable to put into words how he felt. When Dorian moved to lay on his back, pulling John into an embrace, the man went willingly, burrowing into Dorian’s neck as their legs tangled together under the covers.
“Are you hungry?” Dorian asked softly, his fingertips moving back and forth over John’s bare shoulder. When the other man shook his head, Dorian smiled. “Go back to sleep sweetheart. I’ll be here when you wake up.”
A little over an hour later, John was eating breakfast after a long hot shower. He was feasting on doughnuts, along with an omelet and fresh coffee. He also ate a small bowl of fruit, much to Dorian’s happy surprise.
“So what do you want to do today, honey?” Dorian asked from across the table. John shrugged, washing down a mouthful of food with cofee and setting down his now empty cup.
“I dunno.” He answered in the non-committal tone he often used when he actually did have something in mind, but was still feeling it out. Dorian bit back a smile, and waited patiently for his human to elaborate.
“I was think about that hole in the wall.” he watched as Dorian stood up to get the coffee pot and refill his cup. “I feel like I should be the one to fix it.”
Dorian turned and inclined his head. “When was the last time you fixed drywall?” he asked.
“I’ve done it before, Mr Condescending.”
“Is that so? Well then I stand corrected.”
“Yeah, it’s not rocket science.”
Dorian picked up John’s empty plate and took it to the sink, enjoying taking care of his husband while the other man was in a complaint mood. Morning sex always made John more agreeable.
“Maybe we should call Len first though...do you think Jim will get to come home today?”
“I don’t know.” Dorian smiled at John. “One way to find out. Let’s give them a call.”
Jim and Len were having breakfast when someone knocked at the door to Jim’s hospital room.
“Come in,” Len called, turning toward the door.
A lovely African-American woman in a black and white knit dress entered the room with a smile.
“Good morning. I hope Dr Chekov told you to expect me today. I’m Dr Uhura.” She extended an elegant hand toward Len, and he took it with a smile, starting to stand up.
“Please, no need to get up. I just wanted to check in with you before discharge today.”
“Today?” Jim’s blue eyes lit up at the prospect, and Len cleared his throat.
The beautiful female doctor looked back and forth between the two men, embarrassed. “I’m so sorry. Did I spoil a surprise?”
“Not at all,” Len shook his head. “I just hadn’t mentioned it yet.”
Jim was practically bouncing up and down on the bed as Dr Uhura approached. “I can see you’re ready to get out of here.”
“You have no idea.” Jim smiled, and pushed his tray of food to the side.
“Better eat up Jimmy. You’re gonna need your strength…”
“I can’t eat anymore Len, there’s too much to do…”
“Do? All you gotta do is move from the bed, to a wheelchair, to the car, to the house. That’s it.”
Jim rolled his eyes as Dr Uhura took a seat and took a Padd out of her briefcase.
“Dr Chekov wanted me to talk to both of you about setting up some counseling appointments once you’re settled at home Jim. Do you have any apprehension about going home?”
Jim cocked his head, surprised by the question. “Why would I be apprehensive about that?”
“Sometimes, after something traumatic has happened, you don’t know how it will affect things once you get back to your regular routine. I just want to be sure that you have the support you need.”
“I have Len. We’ll be just fine.” Jim smiled up at his husband, who felt himself flush with love and protectiveness. Loving Jim was the most important thing in his life.
Uhura turned slightly in her seat and smiled as well. “Dr McCoy, would it be alright if I spoke to Jim alone for just a few minutes?”
Len blinked, and stood silently for a moment. He shouldn’t have been surprised by the request. He knew that he couldn’t be with Jim every second, and that his husband would certainly need some individual counseling, but he was hesitant to leave just the same.
“Of course...I’ll...I need to check some charts anyway. I’ll be back shortly.” He glanced at Jim, and thought about how young and vulnerable he looked laying there. He turned to go, grumbling as his phone buzzed.
“This is Dr McCoy...Hey Dorian, how are you this morning?” Jim watched as door closed behind Len’s retreating form.
“It’s obvious your husband loves you very much.” Dr Uhura observed, once she and Jim were alone.
“I’m the luckiest guy in the world.” Jim smiled, and then, glancing at his arm, gave a rueful laugh. “Most of the time anyway.”
“I’m sure the two of you are a great support system for each other. Is there anybody else that you’re close to? Your parents, or…”
“My dad died the day I was born, in a car accident.” At the doctor’s look of shocked sympathy Jim waved his hand, “It’s a long story. Anyway...my mom...she didn’t handle things so well after that and she…”
The man paused and cleared his throat. It had been a long time since he’d talked about this. Even Len didn’t know everything about his childhood.
“I was foster kid. Aged out of the system. I met Len when I was twenty-two, so...he’s my family.”
Dr. Uhura nodded, making a note on her Padd.
“We do have some great friends though. My friend John...he’s somebody I can always talk to.” Jim smiled brightly. “His husband is awesome too.”
“It’s important that both of you have people around that can help as you heal.”
Jim nodded and the doctor put her pad back into her large leather tote. “I’m going to give your husband the number to my office. Maybe you can stop by next week to talk?”
“Ok.” Jim agreed. He liked Dr Uhura already, but he wasn’t sure he’d need to see her too many times. Right now all he cared about was getting out of the hospital.
“You don’t have to do that John. I can hire…” Len sighed, and shook his head with a slight smile. “If it’ll make you feel better than yes. Go ahead.” Len walked down the hall a short distance and sat in an uncomfortable chair.
“He’s good. Ate like a champ this morning so I know he’s feeling better. We’re actually...we’re coming home this afternoon.” Len’s smile widened as he listened to the excited exclamations on the other end of the phone. “Yep...you know how paperwork goes though. It’ll be three o’clock before we’re outta here.”
The doctor paused again to listent to John, and once again felt an overwhelming rush of gratitude, friendship, and even disbelief at all that had happened between them since the day that John had finally shown up for his appointment. “Well, I’d say just wait ‘til we get home and you can see him there but...I’m sure Jim would love it. You could come down about two I guess. I’ll call you if something comes up.”
McCoy glanced up to see Dr Uhura walking toward him. “Hey listen, I gotta go. I’ll see you guys later, yes?” With that, McCoy ended the call.
“Sorry for interrupting.” She smiled.
“Just making preparations to go home.” Len explained.
Uhura crossed her arms and surveyed the tall doctor in front of her. “I know you’re both anxious to get there.”
“Did you talk with Jim?” Len asked, concern leaking through in his voice. Uhura nodded. “I’ll send you the number to my office. I think it would be a really good idea for the two of you to check in with me next week, after you’ve been home for a few days.
“Ok.” Len drew a shaky breath and Uhura reached out to pat his arm. “One day at a time Len. Just, take it slow, and be there when he needs you. Don’t forget to take care of yourself as well.”
The man nodded and let out a sigh. “I just...I don’t want this to change him. I know that’s stupid but…”
“No it’s not. You didn’t ask for this to happen. The thing is..it already has Len. It’s affected both of you. There’s no getting around that. What matters is how you handle the changes.”
McCoy nodded, suddenly grateful that Pavel had suggested counseling for him and Jim.
“You’d better get back to that husband of yours, otherwise he’s libel to break out of here without you.” She smiled, and got Len to give a small laugh.
“Thanks Dr. Uhura. We’ll see you soon.”
Chapter 18: Home
Jim is finally ready to go home, and he and Len are both wondering what their "new normal" will be. Luckily, John and Dorian aren't going anywhere.
While You Were Sleeping
Chapter 18: Home
Len walked back into the hospital room and was greeted by an almost radiant smile from his husband. Even with the fading bruises and the buzz cut, this was the most Jim had looked like himself since Len had gotten him back.
“I love seein’ you smile Darlin’.” Len bent down and kissed his husband’s forehead, his fingertips rubbing gentle circles in Jim’s scalp.
“We get to go home Len!” Jim hugged the older man tightly, burying his face in Len’s scrubs.
“You wanna shower before…”
“I want to do that in my own bathroom.” Jim interrupted, shaking his head.
“Ok.” Len smiled, still holding on tight.
“I like Dr Uhura,” Jim said suddenly. “She seems really nice.”
Len nodded and moved to sit in the chair next to Jim’s bed. “She is. I’ve only heard good things about her so, once we get home and get settled we can…”
“He never touched me, Len.”
McCoy refocused on Jim, whose expression had gone from excited to serious in an instant. It took his mind a couple of beats to handle the sudden subject change and register Jim’s statement.
“He didn’t touch me…not like that. He just...he just hit me, that’s all.” Jim couldn’t say his abductor’s name. He didn’t want to say it, or hear it ever again.
Len’s chest tightened. He wasn’t sure how to respond. He’d made the study of the human body and mind his life’s work and yet, all of that knowledge completely failed him in this moment.
“I just wanted you to know in case…”
“I know Jimmy. Dr Chekov told me after he examined you. After your surgery.”
“Oh.” Jim’s expression changed, but Len couldn’t tell what he was feeling.
“I’m sorry...I should have told you sooner.” Len said quickly. “I just didn’t want to bring it up yet if you weren’t ready to talk.” Len reached over and took Jim’s hand in his, squeezing gently.
The younger man was quiet for several seconds, lost in his own thoughts. That was something Len wasn’t used to. As a rule Jim never kept anything to himself, he was always talking.
“Promise me something?” he finally asked in a quiet tone.
“Anything. Name it.”
“Promise me that when we get home you won’t treat me any differently?” Jim gripped Len’s hand more tightly as he searched his face.
“Promise me we’ll still go out to dinner on Friday’s and take our drives on Sunday afternoon. I want to have John and Dorian over for another cookout, and work with you in the garden. I have to start getting things ready for the new production at the theater. Remember you said…”
Jim was becoming more frantic with each word, almost desperate.
“Jim...Jim honey, wait a minute…”
“Please Len, I don’t…” The younger man stopped, seeming to choke on his words a bit.
“You don’t what?” When he saw that Jim was fighting tears, Len felt it like a kick in the stomach. They hadn’t even started talking about this and he was already a mess.
“Please talk to me darlin’. Whatever it is you can tell me.”
“I don’t want things to be different now. I...I love you...so much…” Jim’s voice cracked and Len pulled him close for another embrace. “I love our life, and that’s all I want. I just want to go home and…”
“Go home and forget?” Len finished the sentence for him and Jim nodded, sniffling against his husband’s chest. Len kissed the top of his head, once again trying to find the right words to say.
“Dr McCoy? I have Jim’s discharge papers ready.”
Len sniffled, and then cleared his throat, turning around to face the nurse. Dr Chekov was right behind her. He took the papers from the young girl’s hand and looked them over.
“I can come back in a few minutes if you vish.” He smiled almost benevolently at McCoy and Leonard wondered how he had ever doubted the young man’s ability as a doctor.
“No...we’re fine. It’s fine.” Len smiled weakly, and motioned for Chekov to come in, wiping at his eyes.
“You are ready to go home, Jim?” He looked at the young man in the bed, his eyes traveling over the new cast, and then took his digital chart from the end of the bed.
“Counting the minutes,” Jim smiled.
“Good. You are healing vell so far. I vill expect to see you in my office Monday of next veek.” Putting the chart back where it belonged, the young doctor glanced back and forth between the two men. “Have you...you have spoken vith Dr. Uhura?”
“Yes,” Len answered quickly. “She was here just a bit ago. We talked about meeting with her next week as well.”
“Excellent.” Pavel nodded his approval, as Jim twisted the corner of a blanket in his hands. “Vell, I have already signed ze discharge paperwork, so you are free to go vhenever you vish.”
“Thank you Doctor...for everything.” Jim spoke up then and held out his good hand to the physician.
“You are most velcome, Jim. It is my vish to see you completely healthy once again.” Chekov shook Jim’s hand with a smile, and then gave a slight bow as he took his leave.
After all that had happened to bring them here, it seemed this moment was a bit anticlimactic. All that was left to do now, was to actually go home. Len began to gather up the clothing and books that were piled on the small couch in the corner of the room. Jim closed his eyes, suddenly feeling tired.
“Jim, do you want me to put the…” Len turned around to his husband, and stopped mid-sentence when he realized that the other man had fallen asleep. He watched Jim for a moment, and then walked over to pull the blanket up around him, and let his fingers caress the younger man’s cheek.
At thirty-two, Jim didn’t look his age, and when he was sleeping, he looked even younger. Len suddenly felt a surge of emotion, realizing again how close he had come to losing the love of his life. He walked quickly out of the room, breaking down completely by the time he’d made it out into the hall. He tried in vain to take a deep breath, shaking with silent sobs.
Dorian took in the sight of his friend crying brokenly outside of Jim’s room, and closed the distance between them in a few long strides.
Leonard shook his head and turned away from the other man. He tried to regain his composure, but when Dorian put an arm around him, the doctor broke down. Dorian embraced him briefly, and looked around for somewhere more private to sort out what was wrong.
He led the way into a nearby family waiting room and shut the door. “What’s wrong?”
Sinking down onto the couch with Dorian keeping a hand on his back, it seemed all Len could do was cry. After a few minutes, he finally pulled himself together enough to speak.
“I’m...I’m sorry… .” He ran a hand over his face and tried again to take a deep breath.
“Don’t apologize.” Dorian spoke softly and shook his head. “After everything that’s happened, you’re allowed to have a moment.”
Len let out a snort, clearly disgusted with his lack of control. “We’re going home. I should be happy. Instead I’m…” he waved his hand with a sigh.
“What is it, Len?” Dorian moved his hand in comforting circles on the man’s back.
“I’m afraid, Dorian.” Len’s voice broke on Dorian’s name and his pressed his lips together to keep from doing anything more than that, until he was able to continue.
“In all the time I’ve been with Jim...I’ve never been afraid of… of what was coming next.”
John sauntered into the hospital room, surprised to see that it was empty. Jim was sleeping fitfully in the narrow bed, his brow creased with some unknown tension as he kicked against the sheets that covered his legs.
“Please don’t...don’t…” he whimpered pitifully in his sleep, his turning his face into a damp pillow.
John took in the sight, feeling a strange deja vu watching someone else have a nightmare. Is this what he looked like to Dorian, he wondered? Small and miserable, trapped in the darkness of his own mind? His heart clenched as he listened to Jim, begging some unknown tormentor to leave him be.
“Jim?” John put a hand on the younger man’s shoulder and shook it gently, to know avail. When he saw a tear slip from the corner of Jim’s tightly closed eyes, he leaned in closer to wake him.
“Jim, it’s ok. You need to wake up…” He gripped the young man’s upper arm, and was thrown off with surprising force as Jim broke through to consciousness, his blue eyes bright with terror.
“Get away! Get away from me!!” He tried to back up in the bed, but there was nowhere to go. He looked around, disoriented and gasping for air as John put his hands up quickly, and then touched Jim’s foot to try to ground him.
“It’s just me Jim. It’s John.”
When Jim’s eyes finally focused on him, John smiled reassuringly and slowly moved to touch the younger man’s good arm again. “You’re in the hospital, Jim. Just try to take a deep breath, okay?”
The deep breath came out as a strangled cry, and when Jim reached for him, John didn’t hesitate to put his arms around his friend. “You’re safe JIm.” John repeated the words a second time, trying to keep his own voice as steady as possible. He knew the awful feeling of waking up like this, and the thought of Jim going through it made John want to put his fist through another wall.
“I’m sorry…” Jim began, his tears staining the front of John’s shirt. “...sorry.”
“You got nothing to be sorry for.” John told him. “Just breathe. It’ll be okay in a minute.” He could feel the kid’s heart beating a mile a minute as he fought to come back to himself. When Jim loosened his hold on John a bit, the detective reached to grab a tissue from the table next to the bed, so Jim could blow his nose.
“Want to talk about it?” he asked. When Jim shook his head John had to smile. How many times had Dorian posed that same question, and how many times had John vehemently refused, until one day, he opened up, mostly because Dorian wouldn’t shut the hell up about it. He’d gone on about how important it was to share feelings, and how it would lessen John’s anxiety. Of course the damned android had been right.
“I know it might seem stupid.” John began. “I mean, who wants to talk about the shit that just gave you a panic attack but...it really does help.”
Jim glanced at him with cautious red eyes as John pulled the chair closer to the bed. After another moment, the blonde let out a tired sigh.
“It was...he had me tied to a chair most of the time I was there, and I...I couldn’t move away when he touched me...I was in that chair in the dream.” Jim concentrated his gaze on a particular spot in the thin blanket that covered his legs, not looking at John. He didn’t see the pained look cross the other man’s face as he spoke, and the expression was gone by the time Jim finally looked up at the older man.
“Do you still have bad dreams?” Jim asked quietly.
“Sometimes. Not much anymore. Once I started talking with Dee about them, and once we uh...once we got together, things got a lot better for me.”
Jim smiled faintly thinking of Dorian. “He’s really good for you.”
“He’s the only one who can put up with me.” John smirked. Jim chuckled, and the detective felt a sense of victory when he saw the familiar michievious glint in those blue eyes, if only for a moment.
“You’re awake.” Len smiled as he opened the door to the room, but the smile faded when Jim jumped at the sound of his voice. “You okay, Jim?”
“I’m fine.” Jim answered quickly as his husband and Dorian entered the room. John turned to nod to Dee, who had a concerned look on his face.
“You don’t look fine.” Len came closer, and took in Jim’s red eyes and blotchy face. “Looks like you been cryin’. What is it? Is your arm…”
“It’s fine Len, really.” Jim turned away, feeling his emotions returning to the surface now that Len was here and concerned about him. “It was just a dream. I’m better now.”
Len glanced at John, who gave the doctor an apologetic look, as though he thought Len might somehow blame him for Jim’s distress. McCoy said nothing, and instead moved to Jim’s bedside and took hold of his hand. Jim smiled up at him, and Len felt himself getting emotional again.
“It’s gonna be alright Jimmy. I promise.”
“Of course it is.” Jim pulled Len down into an embrace, and John stood, prepared to give the couple some privacy. He caught Dorian’s eye, but before they could leave the room, Len stopped them.
“Hold on a minute, both of you.” Len straightened up, motioning for his friends to stay put. “While we’re all here…
“We can give you guys some privacy…” John began, hoping to make it out of there before things got too emotional.
“No John. I think we need to talk.”
Kennex rolled his eyes, but complied, watching as Jim looked up at his husband curiously.
“I uh...I started to say this once before...that first night when you brought Jim back, but, we were interrupted.” Len took a deep breath, and Dorian reached to take John’s hand, somehow sensing what was coming.
“There really aren’t enough words to express this but, I want to thank you...both of you, for all that you’ve done for Jim and me.”
John started to speak but Dorian gripped his hand tightly, willing him to stay quiet and let the doctor finish.
“We owe you so much...I just hope we can…”
“You don’t owe us anything,” John cut in, shaking his head. “At least not me.” He glanced at Dorian before continuing.
“You fixed my leg Len. You didn’t give up on me, even when I blew you off month after month, you hung in there.” John smiled when Len’s face reddened with a bit of self-consciousness. “I didn’t do anything to deserve it but, I’m so grateful for what you did. Because of you I don’t wake up hurting anymore.”
Dorian listened to John’s words and felt synthetic tears gathering behind his eyes. It made him so incredibly happy to see John this way. Open and grateful, with a sense of hope that his life was worth living.
“Jim didn’t give up on me either. All this time I thought there was nobody...nobody who really knew what I survived for all of those months, nobody who cared whether I lived or died…now I know I was wrong. I know I was worth...worth waiting for.”
John looked up to see tears slipping down Jim’s cheeks, and felt his own emotions getting the better of him. Clearing his throat, he pushed through the almost overwhelming burn in his chest. If ever there was a time show his feelings, this was it.
“When I woke up, I didn’t have anybody. I had to figure out how to survive on my own because...it was too hard to think about losing anybody else. When I met you again Jim...when I found out what you did for me, it changed everything.”
Jim smiled through his tears and nodded as John continued. “I’m the one who should be thanking both of you, so don’t...don’t say you owe me anything alright?”
“So you’re saying you risked life and limb for me for purely selfish reasons, because you couldn’t imagine life without me? Is that it?” Even though his voice was breaking, Jim’s eyes danced, shining with merriment and unshed tears.
“Pretty much.” John winked at him, wiping at his own tears with the heel of his hand. “Gotta have somebody to watch movies with, don’t I?”
As he made the joke, John moved back to the side of the bed and gave Jim a hug, turning to embrace Len as well. Dorian patted Len on the back and shared a smile with Jim. His synthetic soul was full to bursting with emotion.
“Well,” Len proposed, “What do you say we get the hell out of here?”
“Sounds like a plan.” Dorian moved to take one of the bags of clothes off of the couch, and John grabbed the other.
“John, wait…” Jim put out a hand to stop his friend. “Can I ask you something? A favor?”
“Sure Jim, what is it?”
“Can Len take a picture of us together?” Jim smiled hopefully, as John looked around, a bit confused.
“Here?” he asked. “Wouldn’t you rather do it when you get home?” In John’s mind the last place he would ever want a “party pic” was in the hospital.
Jim shook his head immediately. “I want one here, before I leave.” John still looked unconvinced, so Jim explained further. “This is where we met John. Last time we were here together though, you didn’t even know it. Now I’m the one who’s going home...we’ve kind of come full-circle, you know?”
John looked at his friend for a moment, letting the truth of what Jim said wash over him. He wasn’t one to believe in destiny, but if he did, he would say that he and Jim were destined to be friends, just as he and Dorian were destined to be partners in every sense.
“You got a camera Len?” John asked as he sat on the edge of the bed next to a smiling Jim Kirk-McCoy.
Len and Dorian both took pictures, with Jim’s bandaged bear tucked in next to his broken arm, and both men sporting wide grins. John usually hated pictures of himself, but even he had to admit that these were pretty good.
After one last glance around the room to check for stray plastic bags and books, Len moved to take up his spot behind Jim’s wheelchair. He caught John watching him and had a sudden inspiration.
“Why don’t you drive John?”
“Thought you might like to see things from this side of the chair.” Len commented.
Kennex shrugged and moved to grip the handles as he headed out the door. “Home Johnathan!” Jim commanded, raising his fist in triumph.
“Watch it kid.” John tipped the chair up and popped a wheelie, laughing as Jim squealed in shocked delight.
“Be careful John!” Dorian told his husband as the man sped down the hall with his charge.
“Goddamit John! This is a hospital, not a racetrack! Slow down!” Len and Dorian ran after the other two men, following the sound of Jim’s laughter.
So this is the end...but only for now. A sequel is planned, and in the "idea" stage. Both Readithoney and I are going through some RL changes - all positive, but nonetheless, they're cutting into our writing time.
We PROMISE that the beginning of the sequel will be out after the first of the year. It will explore Jim and Len healing, and the next stage of life for them, and John and Dorian.
A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who has read, followed and commented on our story. It is so close to our hearts, and we hope that you will all come back to share in the next part of this journey. Thank you for your patience in waiting for this last chapter. Sorry it's late, but hope it was worth the wait :)