“Daddy! This way!
“Hold up, Joanna, I'm right behind you.”
The elementary school had passed out fliers in the papers they sent home with the kids on the last day of school before Christmas break (winter break, Leonard reminded himself) advertising a free concert being put on at the Princess Theater by the Community Band. The Community Band consisted of volunteers from all walks of life who played band and orchestral instruments. Many of them were former band members from the local high schools, but some were retired symphony professionals, and even the odd one or two who had picked up an instrument in retirement and found they had a knack for it.
Joanna had been to several of their concerts, something she and her mother enjoyed to do together, but tonight's performance of Holiday Favorites happened to fall on a night that Jocelyn's boyfriend had tickets to some other concert out of town, so Leonard agreed to take his daughter. Honestly, he was looking forward to it. It had been awhile since he had had a chance to go out on the town, and who better to go with than his best girl?
The theater was old and small, but well cared for. Joanna had led them to a set of seats right in the middle – high enough to have a clear view of the entire stage but close enough to see the performers clearly. The choice had Jocelyn written all over it. That was fine with Leonard. One of the things that annoyed him living with Jocelyn was her constant need for preciseness, but it was a boon to have her occasionally pick out things, like seats. He was just glad he could now dress himself.
“OK, daddy, you have to be very quite and pay attention,” his eight year old instructed him very seriously. “Mr. Kirk is performing tonight.”
“Oh?” he asked, charmed by his little girl's grownup behavior, and being sure to match her in tone. She was clearly feeling mature in her velvet dress and shiny black shoes with the low heels. “Who is Mr. Kirk?”
“My music teacher,” she replied primly. “He's the best.”
Leonard grinned and turned his attention to the stage as the house lights went down and a man in a suit stepped front and center on stage, beginning the announcements for the night's event. He couldn't imagine what qualified as 'the best' for a music teacher at an elementary school. He wasn't going to ask Joanna, however. He didn't want to offend her. He might ask Jocelyn later, but only if he felt like getting her riled up.
The curtain finally rose after all of the announcements and introductions to reveal a nicely filled out and diverse symphony. The conductor raised his baton and the musicians raised their instruments.
“That's him,” Joanna whispered, leaning in close. “The first violinist.”
Leonard looked as his daughter resumed her position and paid close attention to the beginning strains of the first song. Leonard, however, wouldn't have been able to say what was playing if you offered him money to recall. His eyes had quickly found who Joanna was pointing to - the man sitting at the very edge of his row, right behind the clarinets; eyes, so bright blue Leonard could see the color from his place in the middle of the theater, focused on the conductor.
Obeying a signal McCoy was unaware of, Kirk brought the instrument up to his chin, elegant fingers finding their places on the neck, and a strong hand bringing the bow to bear on the strings. When he began to play, Leonard was certain he could hear him, separate from the other violinists, the strains of the song ethereal at his fingers, and the look on Kirk's face otherworldly as he lost himself in the music.
Mr. Kirk was beautiful. He was younger than McCoy was expecting, but certainly old enough to be an experienced teacher. The lights shining on the performers reflected in his golden hair and made it look like a halo was ringing his head.
He was so enraptured by the first violinist, he couldn't identify one piece of music that was played that night. Leonard didn't snap out of his trance until much later when Mr. Kirk stood and walked toward the front of the stage.
“What's happening?” he whispered over to Joanna, who gave him an odd look.
“The last piece of the night includes a solo vocalist,” she hissed back. “They just said that.”
“Sorry, kiddo, guess I was lost in my own little world,” he replied sheepishly.
His attention was drawn back to the stage when the orchestra started playing the first notes of 'Oh, Holy Night.' If Leonard had thought he was mesmerized by his daughter's teacher before, it was nothing compared to how stunned he was when Mr. Kirk opened his mouth and started to sing. If he had looked like an angel before, he sounded like one then. Leonard would only remember that one song that night as he hung on every note and syllable that left Mr. Kirk's mouth.
As the last notes faded, the auditorium was completely silent. After a moment, applause rung out and people began to stand. Leonard stood with them, clapping enthusiastically, his mouth open in awe. After a few bows, and a stunning smile, Mr. Kirk turned and rejoined the band, where everyone stood to receive more applause. Before Leonard knew what was happening, he was back to sitting and the closing announcements were being made.
“Let's go,” Joanna said as she gathered her coat and again started tugging on her father's sleeve. “I wanna see Mr. Kirk before he leaves.”
“What? Oh, OK.”
Leonard got up and followed his daughter out of their row and towards the stage, against the flow of people leaving the theater. He felt nervous. There were butterflies doing cartwheels in his stomach no matter how much he told himself that he was being ridiculous. He was just going to meet one of Joanna's teachers, nothing more. There was no way that brightly shining star was going to give a washed up divorcee a second look.
He started wondering how casually he could mention he was a doctor before he slammed down on that line of thought.
Instead of up onto the stage like he thought she might lead him, Joanna dragged him to an opening beside the stage that gently sloped up until they were at a door. Without hesitation, the little girl opened the door and pulled him into chaos. The backstage area was full of props used by the theater company that performed there as well as the musicians who were laughing, chatting, and packing up their instruments. Dead center of the chaos was Mr. Kirk.
Leonard just stopped for a moment. The other man had started laughing, the sound of it ringing out over the other noise, pure and musical. He had thrown his head back, mouth open to reveal white teeth, clearly finding what ever had been said to him hysterical. Leonard felt jealous, wishing he had made him laugh like that, and having to shake that thought loose. He didn't even know the man.
“Mr. Kirk!” Joanna suddenly shouted, letting go of her father's hand and bounding over to her teacher, who snapped his attention to the child.
“Jo Jo!” he exclaimed, giving her a big grin and accepting the hug around his middle. “I didn't think you'd be here, since you said your mom was off with what's his name.”
“Clay,” she smiled up at him.
“I still think that's something you play with in art class.”
“I do, too,” she giggled. “My daddy brought me! Mr. Kirk, this is my daddy, Dr. Leonard McCoy. You can call him Len.”
Leonard tried not to blush as he held his hand out to shake. So much for deciding not to bring attention to his profession. Joanna took care of that for him. He just had to quickly figure out how long he should grip the strong, broad hand in his. Kirk gave him that dazzling smile and Leonard realized it was trying to hide the younger man's own blush and that he was holding on just a little too long, as well. Well, maybe he'd just give an extra squeeze... and yep, he was definitely blushing.
“Jim Kirk,” he finally got out. “So, um, what kind of doctor, if you don't mind my asking?”
“Oh, I'm a surgeon,” McCoy replied, feeling unaccountably embarrassed to be discussing his career so early in their introduction... or whatever. Though he didn't know when it would be better to bring it up. He was suddenly realizing he was thinking of this as an introduction to start dating, not just him meeting his daughter's teacher. And why shouldn't the man want to know what he did? He, after all, knew what Mr. Kirk, Jim, did for a living. Yet more crazy, unorganized thoughts he tried to banish.
“Ah, an old fashioned saw-bones. Well, I'm sure Joanna told you that I'm her music teacher.”
“Yes, she said you're the best,” he smiled, and they both seemed to realize they were still gripping hands at the same time and quickly let go, both turning beet red.
“I knew you two would like each other,” Joanna crowed. “Daddy, ask him out for coffee!”
“Ask Mr. Kirk to go on a coffee date with you! That's what adults do first when they start dating.”
“Joanna, I don't...”
“I like coffee,” Jim suddenly spoke up, still blushing furiously. “I mean, I'm not sure if you like coffee...”
“I love coffee,” Leonard blurted. “So, um, how about tomorrow?”
“Jo Jo's got my number, just let me know where and when,” Jim winked, clearly getting his confidence back. “OK, kid, I think you've accomplished your diabolical plan and I've got to see some other people. Thanks for coming to the performance. And Bones? See you tomorrow?”
“Sure thing, Jim, I'll text you.”
With that, they all parted ways, Leonard getting him and Joanna out of the theater and into the car on auto pilot. The only things running through his mind were blue eyes, an amazing smile, and a nickname he'd never have tolerated from anyone else but one that he really liked coming from the man with the voice of an angel.
McCoy inspected the little girl sitting across from him in the Italian restaurant they had chosen, innocently slurping up spaghetti, a napkin around her neck to keep sauce off her dress. She still looked like his little girl. She seemed completely harmless. But, a little over an hour before, she had waylaid him and left him befuddled in a way not even her grown mother had ever accomplished.
“Joanna, dear,” he finally decided to ask, “did you plan all of that?”
“All of what, daddy?”
Oh, hell no.
“You know what.”
“Oh, with Mr. Kirk? Yes, but not until mamma had to go out of town and you said you'd take me,” she said nonchalantly. “Mamma had said before that you were probably more his type, you know, after her flirting didn't do anything, before she met Clay, and I like him so I took the opportunity to introduce you two and you both liked each other, but I knew you wouldn't ask him out, so I told you to and you did and now you and Mr. Kirk can date and get married and he can be my step-daddy!”
“Well, when you put it that way, it sounds so simple,” he laughed, leaning over on his hand while he looked at her in fond amazement.
And Joanna went back to eating her spaghetti. Leonard stared for just a moment more before shaking his head and digging into his eggplant Parmesan. Hell, maybe she was right. Maybe it was that simple.