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A Cat's Gift

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Bones drags himself in after a grueling clinic shift. He feels hollowed out and so, so fucking tired. But he can't just fall face-first into his bed and sleep it off because every time he closes his eyes he sees their faces littered with scrapes and bruises and blood. So, so, so much blood.


He had been on his way to the on-call rooms to get some much-needed shut-eye when the ambulance came in. A car accident, most likely a hit and run, too, with two men severely injured, kids if you asked him. First responders had had a hard time getting to them. First of all, the car had slid down a rather steep bank, it has been raining all day and the embankment was unstable and slippery, and secondly, both passengers had been thoroughly stuck inside the wracked car.


The driver had flat-lined once already en route to the hospital and the second time Leonard hadn't been able to do anything but to report time of death. Christ, they were just kids, younger than Jim, probably barely older than all those other bright-eyed and bushy-tailed cadets surrounding him on a daily basis, with their hopes and dreams for a bright and exciting future. Leonard swallows the acidic taste of regret and sadness, thinking of all this wasted potential. He tries to dispel it with a generous pull on the already almost half-empty bottle of cheap bourbon he bought on his way home.


Leonard fervently wishes Jim would be home already and they could snuggle up under the covers and Jim could kiss and fuck the pain and memories away, leaving Leonard's mind empty and his body relaxed. But, as it is, Jim is still stuck in one of his many many tactical sims and wouldn't be home until midnight, maybe. Leonard couldn't even send him a comm, damn it. So all that was left is to drink the pain away with the ratty booze, which tastes more like ethanol than anything else. At least, he consoles himself, it does the job.


-------


And apparently it does the job pretty fucking well, considering Leonard wakes up the next morning with a head the size of Jupiter, the distinct taste of dead rat on his tongue, and no recollection of the previous night whatsoever. The only reason he wakes up at all is because Jim - the bastard - has nothing better to do than leave the bedroom to take a piss and yell at him.


“Fucking hell! Bones!!”


Leonard winces as the sheer volume of Jim's voice is sending waves of unbearable pain through his head and body.


“Jesus Christ, Jim. Lower your goddamn voice”, he groans and throws his arm over his eyes to block out the light stabbing like tiny pinpricks in his skull.


“Lower my voice?” He can hear the incredulity in Jim's voice from a mile away. “What the fuck, Bones? What happened? Where were you last night? I came home and you weren't there. I sent you at least three dozen messages. I called you. I called the hospital, they said you had gone home hours ago. I was worried you asshole. And now I wake to a comatose boyfriend, who has obviously decided to drink himself into an early grave, and barely avoid tripping over a dead rat in front of my bedroom. And that's all you got to say?”


Leonard groans again. Jim is too loud and the world is too bright and his head is killing him. At least now he knows the origin of the dead-rat-taste in his mouth, still why it is there in the first place remains an incomprehensible mystery. He probably owns Jim an apology – no, scratch that - he definitely owns Jim an apology if he ever wants to dream about sleeping in the same bed with him again.


Bones groans some more and shifts while he tries to sit up. He distantly notices that he is only in underwear and a thick blanket is covering the rest, but right now he really doesn't care. His head is spinning from the change of positions and he feels nausea coiling in his gut. Leonard takes some deep, calming breaths to keep it in check and moves even slower, even though his body is protesting every movement as it is. He finally makes it into a somewhat sitting position and shifts a little further to face Jim, still standing next to the bedroom door, arms crossed over his chest, looking pissed as hell.


“Listen, Jim. I'm really sorry … last night was just-.” His apology brakes off abruptly, cutting the planed, heartfelt monologue considerably short, as he bolts and rushes into their small bathroom. The fact that Bones manages to get there at all before his guts violently try to exit through his mouth, is only due to the sudden rush of adrenaline spurring his body into action.


Leonard braces himself on the toilet seat and tries to breathe through the pain pulsing in his head, the sudden movement only makes the nausea worse. He remains like this, unmoving, and wheezes as his gut continues to seize and empty itself of things Leonard is sure he ate weeks ago. He feels so miserable and Jim hates him and last night was horrible and there is a dead rat in their apartment and Leonard just can't take it anymore. A sudden sob wrenches itself from his lips and he starts to shake as hot tears prick behind his closed eyelids.


“Aww, Bones.” Jim's soothing voice next to his ear should have startled him, but Leonard is just too exhausted to care.


“Shhh, it's ok. Everything will be ok.” Only now he becomes aware of Jim's warm hand rubbing long circles along his back and the cool washcloth carefully dabbing around his mouth and jaw. Bones turns his head and blinks his eyes open, his vision swimming a little as the tears begin to fall silently. Jim is so close and his shining blue eyes are now clouded with worry.


“Jim. God, I'm so sorry. I... .” Jim shushes him and strokes a gentle hand over his forehead and through his hair. Leonard pulls a bit of a face because he must be pretty sweaty and disgusting right now, but Jim doesn't seem to care one bit.


“I'm sorry too, Bones. I shouldn't have yelled at you like that”, he acknowledges and presses a soft kiss to Leonard's forehead. “Now, come on let's take care of you and then we'll sit down and talk about all this.”


Leonard nods slightly, careful not to worsen his headache and set his stomach off again. Jim rises from the floor next to him and leaves the bathroom to retrieve Leonard's medkit from their bedroom. It isn't long, not even a minute before he is back at his side, but Leonard misses the steadying warmth of Jim's body immediately.


“Which are the anit-hangover ones?” Jim asks as he is ruffling through the medkit. Usually, Leonard would be pretty pissed off about Jim destroying his neatly organized system, but right now he just leans his head against his shoulder and breathes steadily through his nose.


“The orange ones with the gray dot”, Bones murmurs. He has long since their first year at the academy color-coded everything inside his medkit into Jim-friendly and Jim-unfriendly.


Jim ruffles some more and then he can hear the telltale click of loading the cartridge into the hypospray and the soft hiss and slight pinch as it is pressed against and injected into his neck. Leonard doesn't move and neither does Jim, as they sit together on the floor of their shoebox-apartment's bathroom and wait for the meds to take effect. It's not long before Leonard feels his stomach settle and the headache abate and they finally relocate to the living room. Jim parks him on the couch and then brings him a cup of strong coffee, some water, and some clothes.


Clothed and caffeinated Bones finally doesn't feel like death warmed over, but he still feels miserable enough to avoid eye contact with Jim.
Jim, who silently sits beside him, with his own cup of coffee, and patiently waiting him out. Bones sighs deeply and runs a hand through his already messed up hair.


“I lost a patient last night. Car accident, police think hit and run. He was so fucking young and I couldn't do a single goddamn thing to help him. His friend went into surgery and we managed to stabilize him enough after four hours on the table. I don't know if he made it through the night. Boyce kicked me out after my shift and threatened to set security on me if I dared to come back before my next shift on Monday. I didn't know what to do and ... I guess I fell back into old habits.” He sighs again, still not daring to look at Jim. “I'm really sorry.”


He hears Jim move next to him and then he sits on the coffee table across from him and ducks his head to catch Leonard's eyes, his gaze open and warm.


“Hey, it's ok, I'm not mad. I never really was, to begin with. I was just worried sick and maybe a bit hurt. I'm sorry I acted that way. And I'm sorry you lost your patient. I know it doesn't help right now, but you need to hear it regardless. You did everything right, everything that could be done. We can ask Chapel for an update on the other one if you'd like to know.”


Leonard sniffles a bit and nods and Jim surges forward to wrap him up in a tight hug. He instinctively buries closer, rubbing his nose along Jim's neck and inhaling his scent, letting Jim's body heat seep through every pore of his skin and calming his frayed nerves.


They just sit there for an undefined amount of time, just holding each other, before Jim breaks the silence.


“Now, that this is settled, could we see to the proverbial elephant in the room? Or more literally the rat?”


“We should probably bury it somewhere”, Bones grunts, but refuses to let go of Jim.


“Already took care of that. I texted Gary while you were in the bathroom. He wasn't overly happy, but he'll deal with it. I put it in a box outside the door. But Bones, why?” He feels Leonard shrug in his arms.


“I don't know. I must have gone out to blow off some steam, but I usually don't hunt. You know that.”


“I do”, Jim assures him. “But maybe the bourbon impaired your control over your natural instincts and it just happened. Did you ever chance while being drunk before?” He can feel Bones stiffen at his words and automatically resumes rubbing a hand up and down his back.


“No, I've never done that before.”


“So it could be possible?”


“It could.”


“So, you do realize that cats bring home their prey to show their affection and care towards their owners?”


Leonard can hear the shit-eating grin in Jim's words and opts to stab him in the side in retaliation.


“Hey!”


“It's just me showin' my affection and care towards you”, Leonard drawls, his tone dry as the desert. Jim snorts and shakes his head a little.


“Enough of this, I missed out on a whole night of cuddles. Let's get you cleaned up a little and then go back to bed”, Jim proclaims after a beat of companionable silence. And Bones thinks he is probably right, sleeping the day away next to Jim sounds like heaven right now.


So, after a quick shower-piss-brush Bones steps into their bedroom, Jim already cozy and comfortable under the sheets. He hesitates and Jim catches his gaze.


“What is it?”, he asks, rising a little.


“Would you mind if I … you know … change? I just think it would help.”


Jim smiles softly, one of those little things solely reserved for Leonard.


“Sure. I prefer cuddling with you as a cat anyway.” Bones huffs, but can't help the smile tugging at his lips.


“No, you don't. You just like cuddling, period.”


“Yeah, you're probably right there.”


Bones snorts and shakes his head, then he takes off his clothes and swiftly changes into his cat-form and jumps onto the bed. As a cat, he is lean, with really fluffy, soft (Jim's assertion, not his), dark-brown fur with an orange tortoiseshell pattern and white paws. He likes this form because it is small and unobtrusive. It's just so much more relaxing, too.


Jim lifts the covers for him and Bones readily crawls closer, curling up into a ball and snuggling close to Jim's chest. Jim rolls himself up and around Bones' small body, together with the covers building a secure cocoon of warmth and love around him. His fingers instinctively find their way into his soft fur, stroking and scratching lightly at the base of Bones' ears. It's perfect and Bones feels himself leaning even further into the touch, purring loudly.


“Love you too Bones”, Jim's words are a little muffled by the pillow and the fact that he is already half asleep, but Bones hears them loud and clear. He turns his head and softly licks over Jim's fingers in response, then he burrows deeper into the embrace, sinking into a restful sleep within seconds.


 

The End