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Failure to Communicate

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Failure to Communicate

Jim was pliant underneath him as he hardly ever was. Pliant, but still responsive as Leonard's tongue entered his mouth, seeking that elusive taste of pure Jim that would remind him, reassure him that Jim was still there, and still his.

Too damn close. Again.

He couldn't stop his hands as they fumbled with the fabric of Jim's shirt almost frantically, desperate to get to touch the skin underneath. Without looking, his hands were careful as they roamed over Jim's ribs, mindful of the recently mended break on the left side, careful not to be too rough on the sensitive new skin that covered what had been a gaping wound just a few hours earlier.

But he needed to touch. Right now, Leonard needed to feel that Jim was still there, with him, with all his senses. He needed to smell him, taste him, hear him gasp, and most of all he needed to feel him. As his hands roamed underneath Jim's shirt, pushing up the fabric along his path towards Jim's nipples, he broke the kiss – hesitantly – to bite and nip a tender line along his jaw and down his neck.

Jim was moaning softly, eyes closed and his breathing slightly hitched, and simply held on. His hands were a warm weight against Leonard's bare shoulders as he leaned into his lover's touches.

Right now, Leonard needed this. He needed to feel the simple fact that Jim was still alive, had somehow escaped this near-miss. With wounds, but ones Leonard had been able to fix. He had been able to fix Jim, this time at least, and now he needed to fix himself and quell that horrible fear inside that one day he could be too late.

It wasn't the first time it happened, and testament to the fact how screwed up their lives were that there was something like a regularity to these situations, an ingrained need to feel one another as closely as possible after the threat of loss had loomed over them.

Reluctantly, Leonard tore himself away from the stubbly column of Jim's throat and kissed his way down the other man's chest. The shirt was bunched up around Jim's collarbones, his arms still stuck in the sleeves, but Leonard didn't let that deter him as he kissed and licked his way along the skin of Jim's chest. His arousal was mounting, pressing against the confining fabric of his briefs, but he put that on hold for now.

Jim arched against him as he ran his tongue over one hard nipple, and with a smile Leonard kissed his way over towards the other one. Normally, there was a frantic undertone to their lovemaking in situations like this, but he had to admit that he liked this change of pace. He liked that it didn't feel like a race with a goal that had to be reached. Sex with Jim was wonderful, exhilarating even, but at times like this it was hard to get him to slow down a little and savour the moment. But even if it took him years, he was going to teach Jim the fine art of savouring sex.

Jim gave a sleepy hum as Leonard ran his fingers over his other nipple, his breathing deep and even and his hands a gentle weight against Leonard's shoulders.

Leonard stopped pressing kisses to Jim's skin and looked up into his lover's face. Jim had a relaxed smile on his face, his eyes were closed and his face turned slightly into the pillow. Kiss-swollen lips were parted a little as he breathed deeply, snuggling even more into the pillow as Leonard watched.

The effect of that sight was more instantaneous than a bucket of ice water could have been.


His quiet question was met with a sleepy grunt and a slight shift against the pillows, but there was no mistaking it. Jim was asleep.

Jim Kirk, the crazy oversexed bastard who was always up for sex, had fallen asleep right in the middle of Leonard's attempt to induce some life-affirming sex in the light of the fact that Jim had nearly died.

He felt like he had just been punched in the gut, and Leonard shifted quickly away from Jim as the realization sank in. He scrambled so that he sat beside Jim on the bed, running his hands through his hair. Whatever arousal had been mounting earlier had evaporated by now, leaving Leonard to feel strangely empty inside as he looked at Jim sleeping peacefully on the bed.

He had been trying to seduce Jim, and his lover fell asleep on him.

Well, wasn't that just great. And a brilliant testament to his qualities as a lover. This whole thing, these close calls on a mission, had happened before. More than once. And normally, Jim was riding so high on adrenaline afterwards that he didn't only enthusiastically partake in sex as soon as they got back to their quarters, more often than not he initiated it. It was as if it were a need deep within him to reassure himself that he was alive. And so far, Leonard had always believed that he played a big part in that, as well.

Apparently, he had been wrong.

Leonard swallowed against the sudden feeling of a lump forming in his throat, and suddenly he couldn't stay in the bed for any longer. He got up and shrugged into a pair of sweatpants and his t-shirt. Jim slept on even as Leonard moved out of the bedroom and settled on the sofa in the living room.

He should have seen it coming, really. Despite all declarations that it didn't matter, the age gap between Jim and him couldn't be denied. And neither could the fact that they were in different places in their lives. He should have known that one day, a strong friendship and some physical attraction wasn't going to be enough anymore. Jim needed more, and apparently he needed something Leonard couldn't give him. He was a doctor, not a gymnast.

And while he had never been as active as Jim in his youth, surely his older age should mean more experience to fall back on. Which might be true, but Leonard had always considered himself more apt at making love than at sheer acrobatics between the sheets. Maybe that wasn't enough for Jim anymore. Maybe he wasn't inventive enough, not experimental enough for the younger man.

Or maybe he just wasn't good enough, too boring and uninventive, and today Jim had been too tired and exhausted to pretend otherwise.

Wasn't that what Jocelyn had always said? Well, not always, but towards the end. Their personal relationship had suffered, and his abilities as a lover definitely hadn't been enough to make up for everything else that had been lacking in their marriage. It wasn't the sole reason of course, but it had definitely played a part towards the end that he hadn't been skilled enough, not good enough to satisfy her needs. She had been awfully clear about that, on more than one occasion. And if he hadn't been able to satisfy Jocelyn, it had been ridiculous that he had ever thought he could be enough for Jim.

Just like with Jim, the sexual aspect of their relationship had never been something he questioned with Jocelyn, not until everything else was falling apart. But by that time, there were plenty of scathing words from his wife that made him doubt he had ever been good enough.

He must have been blind to run into the same situation twice. But he had. And now he had to deal with the fallout of his ineptitude.

The sofa wasn't comfortable, and no matter how much Leonard tried to ignore what had happened, the thoughts didn't leave his head, and kept him from sleeping. Instead, he sat there and watched the stars move past one of the small windows. Enterprise was in transit, so he only saw a gentle blur of white against the endless expanse of space, too blurred to make out any individual stars. But it was hypnotic, almost soothing to have something to focus his eyes on as he tried to shut off his mind, without much success.

Leonard didn't know when he fell asleep, but at one point he must have drifted off, because the next thing he knew the lights were on in the bedroom area, and Jim was standing beside the partition, hair mussed from sleep and his boxer shorts riding low on narrow hips.

Leonard felt a pang as he saw the small line of red bite-marks along Jim's right collarbone, an immediate reminder of what had happened the previous night. He forced himself to look away.

"Hey," Jim said as he slowly moved over towards him. "What are you doing out here? I didn't snore, did I?"

Leonard was taken aback at the light-hearted tone in Jim's voice, and he forced himself not to flinch away as the other man put a hand on his shoulder and pressed a kiss against his cheek.

A chaste kiss, and not even on the lips. It was definitely not the first kiss like that in the two years of their relationship, but today it stood out to Leonard like a glaring neon sign.

"I couldn't sleep," he replied, not looking at Jim as he got up and turned towards the bathroom. He couldn't look at him because the other man would be able to tell that he was lying right away. And if Jim was trying to pretend nothing had happened, he could do so as well. It was only going to hurt more if he tried to cling to the hope that he had it all wrong. "Didn't want to wake you up."

He kept his back turned towards Jim as he pulled a fresh uniform out of the closet and turned towards the bathroom, and thus he missed the confused frown on the other man's face.

Leonard felt a little more secure once he was showered and shaved, back in his uniform. It was a ridiculous thought, of course, but it felt a little like a shield he could hide behind until he knew what to make of everything that had happened.

Jim was lounging on the sofa as he emerged from the bathroom, a PADD on his knees and his face pressed into the pillow Leonard had been lying on for the night.

"Just give me a couple of minutes to take a shower, then we can go get some breakfast, okay?"

Leonard shook his head before he even had the time to think about it. "No."

Jim turned, eyes narrowed in surprise. "What?"

"No, I…I'll eat something in my office. I have paperwork to catch up on. I'll see you tonight."

He left the room before Jim even had the chance to reply.

Really, it was better this way.

Leonard worked a double shift that day. And while he'd never say that it was a good thing that their engineering crew contained more than its fair share of idiots – because people nearly blowing off perfectly healthy limbs never was a good thing, damn it – it gave him a valid reason to stay in Medical for much longer than the normal shift plan suggested. Once he was done treating the patients, he soldiered on through the paperwork, a task he would have normally postponed until the day afterwards no matter what Christine had to say on the matter. But today it was all the excuse he needed not to go home to Jim and face the inevitable fallout of what had happened last night and this morning.

He was sure that Jim knew about the added workload in Medical, so he wasn't surprised when the other man didn't bombard him with questions as to his whereabouts as soon as he entered their quarters early into gamma shift. Instead, Jim looked up from the PADD he had been working on with a sympathetic glance.

"Did the day suck as much as the reports from Medical suggested?"

Leonard just groaned and shed his blue shirt on the way to the bathroom.

"Don't ask."

In hindsight, the silence that followed his admittedly gruff reply should have been a warning sign. But as it was, Leonard didn't want to discuss his day in detail – especially not since Jim was going to read all the gory details in his reports tomorrow, anyway. He only wanted to take a shower and get into bed as long as his exhausted state was still promising immediate sleep.

The absolutely last thing he wanted was for Jim to start talking to him about his behaviour that morning. If Jim didn't even remember that Leonard had been about to seduce him when he had fallen asleep, his seductive powers couldn't have been all that memorable. Which made it definitely not something Leonard wanted to talk about. A conversation like that could only end with one of them getting hurt, and Leonard had the distinct impression that it wasn't going to be Jim. It probably couldn't be avoided, but right now he'd rather have it later than sooner. If at all.

The bed was still mercifully empty as Leonard emerged from the bathroom, which could mean either of two things. One was that Jim knew something was up and felt like it wasn't the right time to prod for Leonard's reasons yet. The other possibility was that Jim simply hadn't noticed anything amiss. If he was completely honest with himself, the second possibility scared Leonard even more.

But whatever reason Jim had for staying up, right now Leonard couldn't help but feel a little grateful for it as he lay down on the mattress and wrapped himself in the comforter. Half his mind was telling him that it was nothing, that he was giving the fact that Jim had fallen asleep on him far too much importance, but he couldn't help himself. The end of his marriage had snuck up on him like that as well, with small events that had seemed insignificant at the time. In the end, it had nearly broken him, and Leonard was sure that he wasn't going to be able to deal with something like that a second time around. Especially not since Jim held a place in his heart that Jocelyn had never been able to reach.

But sleep wouldn't come.

Of course not. Sleep meant having Jim close to him. It meant being wrapped in the other man's arms and letting the regular cadence of his heartbeat soothe him to sleep. Ever since the relationship between Jim and him had crossed the threshold from friendship to more, Leonard hadn't been particularly good at sleeping alone anymore.

After a while, it might have been after just a few minutes or much longer, Leonard couldn't tell, he heard the sounds of Jim's nightly routines from the adjacent bathroom. The flush of the toilet was followed by the sound of water running, then the muffled sounds of Jim brushing his teeth, so low that it was barely audible and Leonard only heard it because he knew each and every one of Jim's routines by heart by now.

It didn't take long until steps approached the bed and the mattress sagged towards the right as Jim sat down on his side of the bed. Leonard thought that there was a short moment of hesitation before Jim stretched out on the mattress beside him. Leonard kept his eyes closed and pretended to be asleep, even though he knew perfectly well that after all these years, Jim would be able to tell if he was really sleeping or not.

After a few long moments, Jim rolled a little closer and his hand settled on Leonard's hip, seeping warmth into his skin. Despite everything, Leonard felt muscles relax that he hadn't even been aware had been tense before. At least Jim didn't try to talk, and Leonard was glad for that. He wasn't a big fan of talking about issues in the first place, talking about them in bed was even worse.

He remained immobile as Jim shuffled beside him, working his way into a comfortable position. The arm around Leonard's hip tightened as Jim moved even closer, pressing his face into Leonard's back with a small sigh.

It should have been easier to fall asleep like that, with Jim curled up around him like he usually was. But if anything, it made it even harder. After a while, though much longer than it normally took, Jim's breathing evened out and he went completely slack against Leonard's back, but it was a long while still before Leonard finally drifted off to sleep.

The next day continued just as awkward as the previous one had. Leonard kept telling himself that it was stupid, and that he was overreacting, but he simply couldn't get the thoughts about what had happened out of his head. It wasn't just that Jim had fallen asleep on him. It was…a symptom, rather than the thing that was really wrong. But he was a doctor, and he knew all about symptoms, damn it. They didn't just show up without a cause, and that was a fact.

Just because he hadn't really been aware of anything before didn't mean it hadn't been there.

What was really wrong was that there was no denying it – he was getting old. And Jim was still the same young, beautiful, urge-driven, sexual creature Leonard had fallen in love with. But maybe it was about time he faced up to the fact that he wasn't going to be able to keep up with that anymore. Jim might not be aware of it now, but it couldn't be long now. Not long before it wasn't exhaustion that pulled him away from Leonard's touch but the realization that it wasn't enough anymore.

And then? Leonard didn't want to go through the same thing that had happened with Jocelyn – all those attempts to breathe new life into their sex-life, the lack of enthusiasm no matter what he tried, the sharp words of judgment about his abilities. He'd rather spare himself that kind of pain the second time around, so he did the only thing he could think of to shield himself from at least some of it. He tried to keep Jim at a distance. Jim was going to realize soon enough that it was for the better.

It sounded easy.

It was anything but. Most of all, it hurt. Leonard loved Jim. He loved him more than just a little, more than was healthy, and way too much to make withdrawing an easy feat. But maybe this time around, it wasn't going to break him entirely if he only tried to create some distance before Jim made the inevitable step.

So Leonard worked another extended shift the next day, even though the blood culture analysis he busied himself with during the late afternoon could as well have waited for another day or two. Christine seemed to think so, too, if her dark glares were anything to go by. But as long as it sounded like a proper reason for him to be here instead of in his quarters, there was nothing she could do about it.

As far as Leonard was concerned, it gave him a legit excuse to not face the shambles that his relationship was going to end up in soon, so he could take a few angry glares from his head nurse. And the paperwork form the blood culture analysis was going to be as good an excuse as any for him to stay in Medical beyond the original shift plan tomorrow.

Wasn't that what Jocelyn had said back then, too? That he worked too much, that she couldn't live with someone who put his work first and her second? Maybe he was doing not only Jim, but also himself a favour that way. As long as he gave Jim another reason to vent his frustration on, they wouldn't have to talk about the fact that it was his age, his inability to be what Jim needed that caused this rift between them.

Jim didn't put on a cheery façade that night. He didn't pretend that everything was all right when Leonard came through the door to their quarters far later than he should have, though he didn't say anything, either. But Leonard saw the expression on the other man's face, the way his eyes wrinkled as he narrowed them a little, in a way that clearly conveyed that he knew something was up.

But they weren't like that, fortunately. They weren't talkers, not even about those things they maybe should talk about. It had worked for them so far – or maybe not, Leonard was still on the fence about that – but right now it was working in Leonard's favour because it meant he could keep pushing off the inevitable, if only for a little longer.

Jim's hand didn't settle on his hip that night, and he didn't curl up against his back, either.

Leonard barely slept.

The way Leonard evaded Jim might have worked for two days, but it should have been obvious from the start that he couldn't go on like that for long. They couldn't go on like that, he and Jim. It just hurt too much, and it was exhausting. Maybe it was cowardly to try and give Jim a reason to be the first to finally speak it out and admit that something was wrong with them, but that's just the way it was. Life wasn't fair, and perhaps the fact that Leonard was working more than he was supposed to was going to be the thing that pushed Jim into realizing that he wasn't happy with their relationship anymore. How could he be, when not even the fact that he had nearly died stopped him from falling asleep while Leonard was trying to seduce him.

It might speed up the inevitable, even if Leonard had no idea if that was what he wanted or not.

Still, it was the easiest way to just try and stick to working as much as he could, to try and avoid any and all confrontations he wasn't ready to deal with. Yet. Or ever. Damn if he knew.

Christine was giving him her darkest glare whenever their paths crossed, something that normally would have sent all the alarm bells in Leonard's head ringing, but even she knew better than to disturb him once he closed his office door behind him. So when there was a knock on his door at some point towards noon, Leonard hoped there'd better be a damn good reason for the interruption, because he really didn't want to have to yell at his best nurse on top of everything else.

"Come in," he called, tiredly pinching the bridge of his nose as he put down the PADD he had been working on. To his surprise, it wasn't Christine but Nyota Uhura who came into his office, and judged by the expression on her face, she was pissed. Leonard knew Nyota, and he knew that there were only a few things that could get her into a mood like that. One was Spock, though those instances were something she never talked about, but that didn't change the fact that occasionally it was there. Most times though, she got like that when something important went wrong during a critical situation, and judged by the fact that they were pretty much flying through the most boring stretch of space Leonard had ever seen, he had the distinct impression that it was not work that had her riled up like this.

Which left only one possible reason for her mood, if he disregarded the small chance that this time it was something new, something he hadn't encountered yet over the course of their friendship.

Sometimes, even after three years of serving under him, Nyota still got this riled up about Jim. By now she knew how to deal with him, of course, and she also knew when it was better to just not listen to him instead of getting worked up over what he said or did, but sometimes it simply didn't work.

Since Leonard hadn't heard talk about anything out of the ordinary happen on the Bridge today, and no emergencies that would require for her to come down here, he simply assumed that whatever Nyota had on her mind now had to do with him, either directly or indirectly through Jim.

Just great. Exactly the thing he had been trying not to think about. He forced himself to smile at the enraged woman.

"Nyota, what can I do for you?"

She folded her lean frame into one of the chairs in front of Leonard's desk, the glare still firmly on her face.

"Fix whatever problem you have with the Captain," she said without preamble, stunning Leonard into momentary silence.

"What?," he eventually croaked out, but she only rolled her eyes as if he was purposefully playing dumb.

"Listen Len, I have no idea what's going on between the two, but there's one thing I know for sure. If the Captain turns up on the Bridge in an unearthly mood, at a time when the ship's in perfect working order and there's no crazy aliens trying to kill us all, then there's a good chance his mood has something to do with you. So whatever it is, fix it."

There was little privacy on a starship, but damn it if that meant Leonard was willing to accept that everyone considered his relationship their business.

"There's nothing…"

"Don't even start, Len." Nyota's voice was firm, but without any trace of the anger that was still visible on her face. "I've known Jim for a couple of years now, and I know what he's like when everything's all right. Trust me, it's not the way he's behaved for the past two days. He's many things, but he's never inattentive or distracted while he's on duty. Well, never except for now. Normally he doesn't snap at his crew either, hardly ever when they make a mistake and much less when they did nothing wrong in the first place."

That statement earned her a raised eyebrow. "Jim snapped at someone?"

Normally, Jim was far more indulgent with his crew than a Captain was supposed to be. Most other Captains couldn't afford to be because they didn't have the kind of unconditional trust that Jim held. Jim had a temper, but he never let it out on his crew.

Nyota, however, simply crossed her arms in front of her chest and nodded.

"Apparently, Sulu didn't react fast enough to the course correction he ordered. He lost no time to make it absolutely clear that the pilot of a starship needs to react faster, and let me tell you that his tone of voice when he did wasn't exactly cheerful or friendly, either. He spent the rest of the shift in his Ready Room after that, and I'm pretty sure he realized he was out of line, but it can't go on like that, Len."

Maybe it was the admonishment, or the fact that Nyota was meddling when Leonard didn't even know himself what he was going to do about this whole mess, but he felt his anger rise.

"So Jim was in a pissy mood for his Bridge shift. I hate to tell you Nyota, but that doesn't mean it has anything to do with me, or that I can fix it."

Nyota's expression spoke volumes about what she thought about that particular response.

"Seriously? Okay Len, you might not be aware of it, but the way Jim behaves? One way or another, it's always about you, or tied to you. When things between you are fine, he's at his best. When the two of you are fighting, he's grumpy, and when you're hurt or someone is stupid enough to pose a threat to you, it's best not to cross his path. Everyone knows that, Len. And it's good that way, because it's something to rely on. I'd say pretty much everyone aboard this ship knows that, and it's something steady we all can rely on. What's been going on for the past days, though, with him having such a short fuse and being all unreasonable, even by James T. Kirk's standards, that's new. And I don't like it. I'm worried, Len, because I get the feeling that if everything was all right between the two of you, he wouldn't be acting the way he does now. So I can only say it again: whatever is wrong between the two of you, fix it."

Leonard didn't know what to respond to that, he really didn't. Nyota was looking at him expectantly, but he evaded her intense gaze and instead busied himself with the PADD he had been working on earlier.


Nyota's voice was a lot softer now, but Leonard still didn't look up at her. Not until a slender, dark-skinned hand reached across the desk and squeezed his own hand. When he finally did look up, she was watching him, her expression suddenly worried.

"What's going on, Len?"

He sighed. "Damn if I know, Nyota. Damn if I know."

"But something is going on," she concluded, her hand still lying atop of his. He shrugged.

"I guess so."

"You guess? What is that supposed to mean?"

He withdrew his hand slowly, then leaned back in his chair and rubbed his hands over his face tiredly.

"I don't know, Nyota. I feel like I don't know a damn thing anymore." He stared at the ceiling tiles for a few long moments, as if searching the smooth panels for possible answers. Nyota was a close friend, and had been for years. She was his confidante, if there ever was something he couldn't or didn't want to talk to Jim about. She confided in him in pretty much the same way. That didn't mean they shared every petty little detail of their lives, but over the past years he had learned to appreciate the knowledge that someone was there in case there was something he wanted to talk about.

And damn it all, maybe things would finally start to make sense if he only talked to someone about it. But still, it was easier for him if he didn't have to look her in the eyes while he did so.

"Did you ever have the feeling that your relationship took a turn somewhere and you didn't notice?"

Even as he said it, he knew it had been the wrong question to ask. As much as he trusted Nyota's judgement, she was in a relationship with a Vulcan. Compared to his relationship with Jim, that was a whole different story altogether. And while he wasn't privy to many details about their relationship, he seriously doubted that she and Spock had ever encountered similar problems. To him, Spock had always seemed like an observer of his own relationship as much as he was a participant. He doubted that he and Nyota would ever let it get that far.

A small frown appeared on Nyota's face at that question, and she thought about it for a few long moments before she replied.

"Like waking up one morning to the realization that you don't love the other anymore?"

If there was one thing Leonard didn't doubt, then the fact that he loved Jim, and he didn't think that love as a whole was their problem. More like they didn't know how to arrange their lives around it anymore.

Or maybe Jim had simply fallen asleep on him one damn time and he was making so much more of this than it was actually worth.

The nagging voice in his head wasn't exactly helpful, and the more he allowed his thoughts to circle around the question whether the problem he saw was even a problem at all, the more he could feel the start of a headache pounding away behind his eyes.

"More that one moment you suddenly realize that things are no longer working out the way they used to."

Nyota shook her head. "No relationship I ever heard of stays the way it started out. I'm fairly sure you're clever enough to know that."

Again, Leonard ran a hand over his eyes and down his face. "Of course I do. It's just…complicated."

So damn complicated that he himself didn't really understand it anymore. Nyota smiled compassionately.

"That's what happens when you leave two men to figure out their issues on their own."

"Ha, ha." He rolled his eyes. "You're a riot, anyone ever tell you that?"

She leaned forward in her chair. "What's wrong, Len?"

She had asked the same question before, only this time it seemed so much easier to answer.

"I'm not too sure I am what Jim wants anymore."

The moment he said it, he realized for the first time how much it hurt, and how badly it would break him if it turned out to be true. Separating Jocelyn had nothing on the kind of pain the mere thought of separating Jim caused.

Nyota's eyes widened slightly at that statement.

"Did he say so?"

"No," Leonard sighed. "At least, not with words."

The raise of Nyota's carefully arched eyebrow was nowhere close to being in the same league as Leonard's own, or even Spock's, but still it managed to wordlessly convey that she was waiting for an explanation of that particular statement.

"Then how did he do it?"

Leonard shook his head. No matter that this was Nyota, there was no way he was going to tell her the details of how Jim had fallen asleep while Leonard had been busy trying to seduce him.

"Listen Nyota, it doesn't matter."

"What, the fact that you think Jim doesn't want you anymore doesn't matter?"

"No." Another shake of his head, this time at her deliberate obtuseness. "Why I get the feeling that Jim feels that way doesn't. I have my reasons, okay?"

Again, Nyota thought for a few long seconds before she said anything. "Have you talked to him about it?"


"Is there anyone else? I mean, did either of you act upon this whole…issue and actually cheated on the other?"

"What?" Leonard thought he hadn't heard right. "No!"

Of course not. At least he hadn't. And he was fairly sure that Jim hadn't either, even in case he felt completely and utterly fed up with their relationship by now. They had been cooped up on this ship for the past weeks, and the crew was completely out of bounds for Jim.

Nyota sighed. "Okay, okay. Sorry. I just don't know what you want me to say, Len."

"Well, you were the one who came barging into my office, Nyota. It's not like I decided to get all touchy feely here."

With anyone else, the gruffness of the words might have been too much, but Nyota only shook her head.

"Talk to him, Len. I still have no idea what the hell you think is going on with the two of you, but I highly doubt that Jim's about ready to end it."

"Oh, and what makes you say that?"

"The fact that the two of you are not talking," she made a vague circular hand gesture at him, "or whatever else it is exactly that's going on with you, and he starts acting up on the Bridge as if he's looking for an outlet, that's what. Or maybe the fact that normally he looks at you like you hung the moon. Or well, at least some of them."

That did its job and brought a slight smile to Leonard's face, even though it also stung a little.

"Talk to him," Nyota repeated as she got up from her chair. "Just a couple of weeks ago, the two of you nearly caused a diplomatic incident when the Taridian Prime Minister caught you making out in a darkened corridor like hormonal teenagers instead of appreciating his guided palace tour. I sincerely doubt that things could have changed that quickly."

Leonard nodded, though his heart wasn't in it. He didn't notice that Nyota had come around his desk until her face suddenly appeared right in front of his own, her eyes narrowed at him.

"I mean it, Len. Talk to him and fix this, because if Jim shows up to duty in such a mood again, and if he decides to snap at me for no reason at all, I won't be as nice as Sulu was today."

She softened the threat somewhat with a smile, and pressed a quick kiss to Leonard's cheek before she straightened up again.

"I'm sure it's all going to work out, Len. Just talk to him."

Leonard didn't look at Nyota as she left his office, but he heard the sounds of her boots on the floor move towards the door, and then the pneumatic hiss as the door opened and then closed behind her.

For a few long minutes, Leonard stared at the unlit display of the PADD in front of him. Just talk to him. Yeah. As if it was that easy.


Nyota's words didn't stop ringing in his head even long after she left. No matter how much he tried to focus on the paperwork on the PADD in front of him, the words blurred into meaningless gibberish until he finally pushed the PADD away with a frustrated groan. He wasn't going to get anything else done today, he knew that. Besides, it was nearing the end of his shift anyway, and the paperwork could wait another day or two. Hell, it could wait for another week or two and nobody was going to complain. He had only tried to use it as a valid reason not to have to confront Jim.

Just talk to him.

Yeah. Easy for Nyota to say because she wasn't the one who had to actually look into those incredibly blue eyes and face the fact that quite possibly their relationship was on a steep decline.

He tried to find something else to occupy himself with, but Medical was unexpectedly empty and Christine was levelling him with that particular brand of glare again, and Leonard had to realize that there was nothing else he could do to stall. He'd have to go home.

And damn if that didn't feel reminiscent of the last months of his marriage to Jocelyn when he had dreaded to go home because he could feel that something was wrong beyond redemption, and staying at work for as long as he could meant he didn't have to confront that issue.

Leonard didn't dawdle, and he didn't make any detours on his way to their quarters, but he most certainly didn't hurry, either. But still, the door to their quarters appeared in front of him in what felt like no time at all. For just a moment, he hesitated before he drew a deep breath, punched in his access code and entered the room.

Jim was home.

Of course he was, Leonard scolded himself inwardly. He was on alpha shift rotation for the next two weeks, and on-call for beta shift. On that shift rotation he always tried to finish up whatever work was left towards the end of beta shift in their own quarters, if at all possible.

So really, even though Leonard had secretly hoped that Jim might still be on the Bridge or in his Ready Room, he really wasn't surprised to find that Jim was home.

He was sitting at the large desk they shared, but as Leonard entered the rooms he immediately put down the PADD and pushed his chair away from the desk. He remained silent, though, which in itself was very unusual. Leonard didn't quite know what to say, either.


Of all the things he could have said, that was probably the lamest one on the entire list. Jim didn't respond to the greeting. He rubbed his hands over his face, but when he looked up, despite the obvious fatigue in his expression, the overwhelming emotion on his face was frustration, mixed with anger and, unless Leonard was much mistaken, hurt.

Leonard drew a deep breath and tried to steel himself, because he sure as hell wasn't ready for the conversation that was about to happen.

"No paperwork keeping you busy in Medical until the middle of gamma shift today?"

There was snark in Jim's voice, and a clear provocation, but Leonard was too tired, rubbed too raw emotionally to care. He sank down in the nearest armchair and leaned his head into his hand. He didn't answer Jim's question, though, because he knew it wasn't the kind of question Jim had asked in expectation of an answer.

The next question, however, left no room for doubt as to whether Jim expected it answered. He most certainly did.

"What the hell is wrong, Bones?"

The response was automatic, almost a reflex. "Noth…"

Jim cut in before he could even finish the word.

"Don't you even think about telling me that nothing's wrong, Leonard! For the past three days, you've gone out of your way to avoid me. Hell, the way you were doing your best to not even be in the same room as me, it's a small wonder you still slept in our bed. You've been pulling double shifts in Medical even though there was no good reason for it, and you didn't even insist on checking up on me at least once or twice a day like you normally do after I get hurt, so don't you dare go ahead and tell me that nothing is wrong!"

Maybe it was the fact that Jim was angry when by all rights Leonard thought that was his privilege in this messed up situation. Or maybe it was the use of his given name, a name that hardly ever crossed Jim's lips when they weren't making official introductions, and never when they were alone. To Jim, Leonard had always been Bones, and over the past years that name had somehow become a part of his identity, even though it hadn't even been a conscious process. It felt strange to suddenly hear Jim call him anything but Bones.

"What the hell do you want to hear, Jim?" Leonard snarled right back.

"I want to hear what the hell is wrong, for fuck's sake! Don't you think I've been wracking my brain for the past days trying to figure out what put you in that mood? Because I did, and call me an insensitive bastard for not figuring it out, but I didn't! I have no idea what the hell is bugging you, and if you think I screwed something up then I simply don't get it!" Jim got up from his chair and started pacing up and down in front of the desk, one hand buried in his hair as he gestured wildly with the other. He had worked himself up in a state, and somehow the sight of this overrode Leonard's fatigue and only served to fuel his own indignant anger.

"Don't strain yourself, Jim. If you haven't figured it out on your own by now, I guess it's just not important enough to bother you."

Leonard barely recognized the ice in his own voice, but the thought that Jim still had no idea why Leonard wasn't so much angry as he was hurt only increased the pain. And damn it, he wasn't a damsel in distress who needed the strong hero to swoop in an save the day. But maybe he had hoped for Jim to be at least a little more emphatic to his feelings by now.

"Don't give me that crap, Bones! One moment everything was just fine, and now you won't even let me touch you!"

"What for, so that you can fall asleep on me again?"

It was out before Leonard knew it, no conscious involvement of his brain at all.


For a moment, Jim stared at him in stunned silence, incomprehension clearly written on his face. And somehow Leonard knew, with an aching clarity, that if Jim didn't understand what his problem was now, it meant that something was truly damaged between them, and he simply hadn't noticed it until the realization had been unavoidable.

For a moment it all hung in the balance and Leonard barely dared to breathe. Jim looked at him, as if catching up on all the eye contact Leonard hadn't allowed over the past days, and Leonard could see all the anger evaporate from those incredible blue eyes.

"God, I did, didn't I?" Jim said with a sigh, running his hand over his face. It was no relief, but for some reason Leonard couldn't name it was important that Jim got it, that he had finally caught up on what the problem was. Yet at the same time, it made Leonard feel incredibly stupid. This was how hormone-driven teenagers who knew nothing about life and love acted, not grown men for crying out loud.

A symptom, not the cause. That's what it had to be, after all. It wasn't about Jim falling asleep as much as it was about what else seemed to be wrong with their relationship. Hell if he knew what that was, though.

"Damn it Bones, that's what this is all about? That I fell asleep?"


And no.

And damn it, was his brain degenerating right along with his behaviour? What was going to be next, was he going to start sprouting acne again?

"It's about the fact that apparently you didn't seem the slightest bit interested in having sex with me!"

Leonard was standing now, too, though he didn't even remember getting up.

"I was injured!" Jim spread his arms wide for a moment as if that could somehow convey his point, then he buried them in his short hair. "Just hours before, I had a gaping hole in my side. Normally that's reason enough for you to keep me confined to Medical, not an incentive for sex!"

"Yes, and normally whenever you go out and get hurt on one of your fool missions, you're running so high on adrenaline that you can't wait to get into my pants!"

"What, first you keep stabbing me with hyposprays, then you complain because they make me fall asleep?"

"Those were antibiotics and not sedatives! Antibiotics don't make you fall asleep, for crying out loud!"

They were standing just a foot or two apart and yelling at each other, and for a second Leonard realized how ridiculous this was. Jim and him weren't like that. They didn't have many serious fights, and they especially didn't have those kinds of fights. Only, apparently they did.

As if he was having the same thoughts, Jim seemed to fold a little in on himself, the fight draining out of him with the next exhale. His shoulders sagged with the lessening tension and he ran a hand through his hair with a sigh.

"Listen Bones, I'm sorry, okay? I don't even really remember falling asleep. All I remember is that the pain was gone, I was comfortable and warm and you were there, and I guess I must have drifted off. I'm sorry if that interrupted any of your plans for that night, but it's not like I did it on purpose. I really don't want us to fight about this."

"You really think that's what this is all about?"

Jim seemed shell-shocked at that statement, as if Leonard had pulled the firm ground he finally believed himself to be on out from under his feet.

"Then what? What the hell is this about, Bones, because I really don't understand it anymore."

Leonard shook his head, cursing his mouth for running away with him yet again. But things were already screwed up, so he could as well see things through to the end. Maybe it was like ripping off an old-fashioned band-aid, and it was going to hurt less if he just got it over and done with. He didn't really believe it, but this whole conversation was so far up the creek already, his only comfort was that if this was going to mark the end of his relationship with Jim, at least this time around it was going to be him who brought it on.

Nobody to blame but himself this time around.

"All I'm saying is that you can't have been that impressed by my attempts to seduce you if you fell asleep before I even got started."

Jim's blue eyes widened impossibly, but Leonard forced himself to look away.

"Bones, it was an absolute shit-fest of a day, I really don't think…"

"And I get it, really." Leonard interrupted without really listening. He needed to get this out in the open once and for all, or else he was never going to work up the courage to save the two of them a lot of grief in the future. "I'm not getting younger, and it was only a matter or time before it caught up with us."


"I understand it. I mean, you need someone who can keep up with you, someone as young and sensual as you are, and not someone as old and dull as me. And that's okay. I mean, it's not okay, but it was probably inevitable, and in the long run it might even turn out to be good that it happened now…"


"We had a great time, and it's not like this is easy, but if you face the facts you'll have to realize that you're probably better off with someone who can give you what you needs, someone your age who won't grow old before you do."


The touch to his arms felt like an electric current, but Jim gripped his biceps hard and didn't let go even as Leonard took a startled step back. Jim shook him slightly and Leonard clamped his lips together to stop the flow of words. Jim remained silent, though, until Leonard couldn't stand it anymore and hesitantly looked up. The blue eyes that were looking at him from mere inches away were wide with confusion and also, inexplicably, pain.

Almost reluctantly, Jim let go of one of Leonard's arms and brought his hand up to cup Leonard's cheek. It took all of his resolve not to lean into the touch and forget about everything he had just said.

"Bones, what's going on? Where is all that coming from?"

Leonard averted his eyes and tried to shrug out of Jim's grip, but the other man's hold on him was firm.


It sounded pleading, but Leonard couldn't help it. It was one thing to finally lay it all out for Jim, but he didn't think he could stand it if Jim wanted to take his words apart.

"Bones, I fell asleep once. It shouldn't have happened, but it did, and I'm sorry about it. But it was one time. That doesn't mean that anything's wrong, or that you're too old or…dull for me. I have no idea where all this is coming from all of a sudden."

Finally Leonard managed to pull his arm our of Jim's grip and he took a step back immediately. But Jim was right there, in his personal space, and didn't leave him a chance to withdraw. God, why did he have to make this so difficult? Jim was like a force of gravity all of his own, and this close it was almost impossible to resist his pull.

"I thought we were good. Tell me I didn't have that wrong, Bones. Tell me I didn't miss something this big for so long."

Leonard shook his head. "We…it won't stay that way, Jim. It never does. In the long run, I can't be what you need."

Jim took a step back. "How do you know that, Bones? Why do you think you know what I'm going to think a few months or years down the line?"

Leonard swallowed against the tight feeling in his throat. "Not like I haven't been there before, kid."

For the first time, calling Jim that didn't feel like a tease, or an endearment, but like a verdict. If possible, the gaping chasm in his chest started to hurt even more.


It wasn't a question, and Leonard shook his head as if that could somehow keep Jim from talking. He should really know better by now. If there was one thing he knew, then that it took a lot more than that to make the other man shut up.


"Is that what she told you? That you were too dull? Too…unimaginative in bed? Is that the kind of crap she fed you?"

Leonard was still shaking his head, and refused to meet Jim's eyes. Jim accepted that for maybe a couple of seconds, then he was back right in front of him, gently turning his chin with his hand until Leonard had no choice but to finally look at him.

"I'm not Jocelyn, Bones."

He nearly laughed. "Trust me, I know that."

But Jim didn't smile, and if anything the expression in his eyes hardened a little.

"Apparently you don't. I don't know what happened between her and you, and I'm probably not an expert on marriage. But you told me that there were good times between you, too. Maybe you should think about those when you're dragging up the things she might have said to hurt you once things were no longer working out."

"Listen Jim, let's just forget…"

"No. No. We're not just going to forget about this, because you've been acting like an ass for the past three days, and I'm not going to stop until you get it into that thick skull of yours that you worked yourself into this state without a damn reason. There's nothing wrong with the way you are, Bones. There's nothing lacking at all about our sex life."

He was shaking his head again, a movement he couldn't have stopped if his life depended on it.

"Not yet, maybe. But I'm not getting any younger."

"Neither am I!" Jim's hands were on his shoulders now, their touch normally warm and soothing but now seemed to burn through the fabric of his uniform shirt. Leonard was tempted, sorely tempted, to just drop his head to Jim's shoulder and give in to his exhaustion, but he didn't dare to move.

"Six years, Bones. You're six years older than me, not a couple of decades. Six damn years. They haven't been a problem until now, and they sure as hell will matter less and less the older the two of us get. Or do you think that once I'm eighty, old and grey, I'm going to care whether you're eighty-six, eighty-two or seventy-eight? I don't give a damn, and it definitely never mattered when we were in bed. What, do you think I was faking it all those times that we had sex?"

Leonard was still too distracted by the touch of Jim's hands against his shoulders to really respond to the question. Of course he didn't think Jim had pretended anything, but that didn't mean it wasn't going to happen at some point down the road.

Apparently though, Jim wasn't content to let that statement stand without reinforcing it. His grip on Leonard's shoulders tightened, and the sudden press of lips against his own was as surprising as it was invigorating and reassuring, a feeling of coming home. It was a firm kiss, quick but not any less determined, and even though Jim withdrew as quickly as he had approached, he remained close, just withdrawing enough to focus on Leonard.

"I love you, you jackass. And that means I love the grumpy doctor who never hesitates to kick my ass when I need it just as much as I love the beautiful man who can reduce me to a quivering mess with the way he touches me. I love all of you, and if there was anything in this relationship that wasn't working out, you have to trust me that I'd let you know."

Leonard didn't quite know what to say. Jim sounded sincere. Hell, Leonard didn't doubt for one second that Jim was sincere. He didn't say those words often, and definitely not as often at once as he had just done. Of course Jim was sincere; of course he meant what he said. But that could change, and if there was one thing his marriage had taught Leonard, then that those changes could sneak up stealthily in all their overwhelming force.

"Stop that!" Jim shook him by the shoulders, not forcefully, but strong enough to tear him out of those thoughts. "Stop thinking about what could possibly happen in the future and just trust me, okay? You're not old, you're definitely not dull, or boring or whatever else attributes you've given yourself over those past three days while you were brooding instead of just slapping me over the head for falling asleep while you were trying to seduce me. I would have definitely earned it, though I have to say I think I've been punished hard enough for that by now."

Leonard felt his eyebrow rise up on his forehead. "You've been punished?"

The small, tentative smile on Jim's face grew wider, and there was a gleam in his eyes that Leonard knew all too well as Jim took half a step forward, back into Leonard's personal space.

"Oh, I'd say I most definitely have been punished. Not only did I miss out on what I'm sure would have been great sex, admittedly through my own mistake. But you barely touched me for three days, Bones. Worse, you didn't even kiss me." Jim was so close now that his breath fanned warmly over Leonard's lips, and his hands were resting on Leonard's shoulders, no longer holding him but resting there as if waiting for permission to move.

"You haven't kissed me for three days, Bones," Jim repeated. "I'm pretty sure that's a punishment. A pretty harsh one at that. I'm not sure, but it might even qualify as a crime."

This time, Leonard couldn't stop the smile from sneaking its way to his lips. "A crime, huh? Of course that's unacceptable."

Suddenly, it seemed like the most natural thing to lean forward and close those few inches of space between them, finally pressing his lips against Jim's. Jim made a small sound in the back of his throat and leaned into him as if this was the permission he had been waiting for. His hands were roaming over Leonard's back as his lips yielded and opened up to Leonard.

Maybe Leonard was a bit of an idiot. Not so much for thinking what he had thought, but for brooding about it for days on end when he should have just come to Jim to get his ass kicked for being an idiot. Apparently he had forgotten that Jim wasn't the only one in this relationship who occasionally needed that.

"Three days," Jim rasped as they broke apart for air and he mouthed a wet trail down the side of Leonard's jaw and throat, "is definitely too long."

Leonard was busy enjoying the attention Jim bestowed upon his neck, and was admittedly mildly distracted by the way his own fingers had wormed their way underneath Jim's shirt, but once the words registered he had to agree. It had definitely been too long, and it hadn't been Jim's fault.

"I'm sorry." It was accompanied by a small moan as Jim sucked on that spot right underneath his jaw.

"Don't be." Suddenly, those incredible blue eyes were directly in his line of vision again, looking at him intently. "Just talk to me the next time you're about to make decisions about the future of this relationship, okay?"

He wanted to reply, he really did, but coherent thought was a difficult thing to achieve when Jim was sucking and nibbling on his neck again while trying to move them towards the bedroom at the same time. Coordinating hand and feet and mouth at the same time was nearly impossible, and Leonard decided he'd rather keep his mouth shut – or tracing the shell of Jim's ear, as it was – than fall flat on his face. He'd just have to keep in mind that he owed Jim an answer to that particular rhetoric question.

How they managed to tumble onto the bed in a tangle of limbs without knocking each other bruised and bloody with knees or elbows would probably forever remain a mystery to Leonard, but right now there was Jim, and Jim was pulling off his shirt, and there was no way in hell he was going to keep trying to solve unimportant mysteries in the light of that.

He shrugged out of his own shirt as quickly as he could, regretting every second that he had to break eye-contact. Jim was all warm skin against him as he pressed Leonard back into the mattress, his mouth seeking out Leonard's hungrily. Leonard ran his hands down Jim's back, fingers seeking out the dip of his spine. The immediate response was a low moan breathed into his mouth as his fingers ran along Jim's spine, and he smiled into the kiss. He had taken great care to learn everything there was to know about Jim's body, and not for medical reasons.

"The things you do to me," Jim panted as they broke apart. "You don't even know…"

He shook his head as if he didn't know how to continue with words, and instead leaned down for another hungry kiss. He was lying half atop of Leonard, straddling one of his legs and rubbing himself slowly against Leonard's left thigh. Leonard was still running his fingers tantalizingly over the sensitive skin on Jim's back, following the curve of his spine down to the small of his back and up towards his shoulder blades again. He lifted his left leg just a tad, pressing the heel of his foot into the mattress, and Jim broke the kiss, threw his head back and moaned loudly at the increased pressure.


With a chuckle Leonard flipped them over. It was a move they had practiced a thousand times in the gym, but it was only ever in bed, when Jim was sufficiently aroused and distracted, that Leonard managed to pull it off without so much as a trace of resistance from the other man.

Before Jim even had the chance to process the change in position, Leonard leaned over Jim, rendered breathless for a second by the sight of Jim below him, eyes-half closed, hair mussed and lips parted around his panted breaths. He loved Jim like this, loved how responsive Jim was to every touch and caress. He was writhing on the mattress as Leonard started to tease one of his nipples, gently caressing it with his tongue only to bite down on it, just this side of painful, and blue eyes that were blown wide and almost black with arousal flew open and a strangled moan broke free past those full lips.

"Like that, don't you darlin'?"

Jim only moaned in response, and his breathing hitched as Leonard leaned over and repeated the motion with the other nipple. He had always been a fan of synchrony, and judged by the sounds Jim was making he appreciated the effort. Leonard would have loved to draw this out for much longer, but Jim was right – three days without so much as a kiss was a long time, and how the hell could he have been so stupid in the first place? But he was going to make up for it, starting right now.

His hands found the fastenings of Jim's pants blindly, and he undid button and zipper as fast as he could. One should think that a species that sent people to space and dissolved their atoms regularly without making a fuss about it would have found a quicker way to undo a pair of pants by now, but he was working with what he had, over-eager fingers and a squirming man beneath him included. Jim canted his hips up with an impatient sound, and Leonard pulled uniform pants and briefs down in one movement.

It was a struggle to get the pants off since Jim was still wearing his boots, and it wasn't made any easier by the fact that Leonard was somewhat transfixed by the sight of Jim's cock, hardening as it nestled against his belly. But somehow they must have managed – though again Leonard couldn't for the life of him tell how the hell it had happened – because Jim spread his legs, his hands clenching in the sheets by his hips, blunt nails digging into the fabric.


Leonard knew what Jim wanted. He always did, or at least had thought so until he had started worrying about one thing his mind had blown way out of proportion. It wouldn't be the first time he had to realize that he wasn't exactly the most emphatic person for the finer nuances at all times.

But this here, right now, was obvious, and there was no shred of doubt as to what Jim wanted. What he needed, if the quivering of the muscles in his thighs as he tried to spread his legs even wider was any indication.

Leonard smiled and leaned down, running a teasing fingertip along Jim's length from the root to the tip. Jim's immediate response was to rut his hips, a movement halfway between pulling away and pushing into the tentative contact, and the garbled sound that escaped his throat was as frustrated as it was pleading. Leonard wasn't going to tease, though, not tonight. He followed the path his finger had taken with his tongue, and Jim's whimper turned into a loud groan as he wrapped his lips around the head.

Jim loved being on the receiving end of this kind of attention, and his hands clenched helplessly against the sheet for a few moments before he tangled them in Leonard's hair. He didn't push, but Leonard knew it wasn't going to take long until Jim grew impatient. He slowly lowered his head, taking Jim in as far as he could.

He loved this probably just as much as Jim did, if for different reasons. He loved the feeling of Jim's cock against his tongue, hot and pulsing as he grew even harder under those ministrations. He loved the feel and the taste of Jim, heavy and heady with a slightly salty tang against his tongue. More than that, he loved what this simple act was doing to Jim, how it was able to reduce him to a moaning, incoherent mess if Leonard really set his mind to it. But tonight wasn't the night to take Jim apart like that. Maybe later, but for now, Leonard had different plans.

He bopped his head up and down once more, teasing Jim's most sensitive spots with his tongue before he straightened up and reluctantly let the cock slip from his lips. Jim moaned, in protest this time, and half-heartedly tried to push Leonard's head back. But Leonard was undeterred and slowly kissed his way up Jim's chest, over his throat and the stubble on his chin until he reached Jim's lips and pressed his own against them greedily.

The kiss lacked any finesse; it was all about tongues and teeth, about tasting and possessing, but it was right in its single-mindedness.

"I love you," Leonard panted, barely having pulled back enough to speak. But suddenly there was nothing more important than letting Jim know.

Jim just smiled at him and pressed another kiss against his lips.

"I know. And I love you. Even if you're acting like an idiot."

His hands ran down Leonard's sides as he spoke, and Leonard couldn't suppress the small shudder that ran through him as the fingers skirted across a ticklish spot below his ribs, only to stop at the waistband of the pants Leonard was still wearing. Jim pried open the button, but Leonard beat him to opening the zipper and pulling down the pants. He was already too far gone, if Jim touched him now they wouldn't get much farther.

"We need lube."

If he hadn't been so sure that he had just spoken, Leonard wouldn't have recognized the raspy voice as his own. Jim remained where he was for a moment, as if he had to remember how to move first. But then he rolled over as quickly as he could and started to rummage around in the bedside table. Leonard took that time to shrug out of his pants and briefs and kick them off along with his boots and socks. He barely had the time to drop them to the floor before he found himself with an armful of warm and naked Jim pressing him into the mattress. Leonard pulled Jim down in another open-mouthed kiss, gasping as their cocks touched without any barriers of fabric in between.

Leonard squirmed underneath the other man, breaking their kiss just enough to rasp out his next words.

"You might wanna hurry, Jim."

Jim laughed, a sound Leonard was never going to tire of, and started kissing his way down Leonard's chest and stomach. "Patience, Bones." He chuckled again, and by now he had progressed so far down that his breath was fanning tantalizingly over Leonard's hard and straining cock. Seeing the shudder that ran through Leonard's body at the almost-contact, Jim grinned and blew another breath over Leonard's cock, firmer this time and more deliberate.

Leonard let his head drop back into the pillow with a groan.

"If you continue like that, all the patience in the world isn't going to help me anymore."

Jim laughed again and his hand ran over Leonard's thigh, parting his legs with a gentle but firm touch.

"Bossy," Jim smirked, the amusement evident in his voice. Leonard wanted to lift his head to glare at Jim and was just contemplating whether it was worth the effort when there was the sound of a plastic cap being torn open hurriedly, and a few moments later there was a gentle touch to his entrance. Leonard sighed and let his legs fall open wider.


A warm hand settled on his thigh. "So gorgeous," Jim whispered as he slid a second finger into Leonard alongside the first. "Do you know what you're doing to me, Bones? Do you know how hard it makes me to see you lying there like that, to know that the way you're flushed and hard and panting, all that is for me? Because of me?"

The fingers inside him moved, sought and found his prostate with well-practiced moves, and Leonard felt his fingers dig into the mattress as his vision blackened for a second.

"Jim, damn it, I need…I…"

"I know," Jim whispered, and suddenly the fingers were gone, and Jim was right there again, kissing him tenderly on the lips. "I know."

Leonard watched, barely able to contain his anticipation as Jim picked up the lube again and slicked himself up. From the way he was biting his lip and gripped the base of his cock tightly, he was just as aroused as Leonard was. It had been too long, long enough that Leonard was beginning to feel starved for Jim's touch. He knew that the last couple of days must have been impossibly harder on Jim, who needed human touch like he needed air to breathe.

He drew breath to say something, though he had no idea what – maybe to apologize again – but Jim kissed him again before he could bring out a single sound.

As he felt Jim push against his entrance, he let his legs fall open wider, hands stroking down Jim's back and towards his hips to pull him closer. Most other times, he preferred it if Jim took him from behind – or bent over whatever surface was available. There was just something about the angle, and the way Jim felt inside of him in that position. But right now, he needed to feel as much of Jim as possible, his weight atop of him, skin sliding on sweat-slick skin as Jim slowly eased into him.

"Move, Jim." He canted his hips up almost desperately, trying to get Jim to finally start moving inside of him.

"As I said," Jim chuckled. "Bossy."

But he did start moving before Leonard could think up a suitable threat, and Leonard quickly lost himself in the feeling of Jim sliding in and out of him. From this angle, he didn't hit Leonard's prostate as much as Leonard might have wanted him to, but the warm, slick hand that wrapped around his achingly hard cock more than made up for it.

"So hard for me," Jim panted, running his thumb over the head of Leonard's cock. "I love it when you get like this, Bones. When you're almost begging for me to touch you."

Right now, Leonard couldn't understand where Jim took the energy or coherency from to speak in full sentences while he was moving into him again and again, but he tossed his head to the side and bared his throat to Jim who immediately latched onto it, biting and sucking on the skin there.

"Don't ever think you have to change, Bones. Don't."

He had known, of course, but it was good to hear it, especially in a moment like this when he knew that Jim didn't have any of his usual defences up.
Beyond words, he pulled Jim down into a lingering kiss, one which he hoped was able to convey everything he felt but wasn't able to say out loud. Jim kissed back, and the speed of his thrusts increased. Something tightened in Leonard's belly at the sight of Jim above him, flushed and panting, eyes blown wide with lust, lost in complete abandon. Leonard ran his hands along the line of Jim's spine again, fingers finding all of Jim's sensitive spots blindly, and for the first time since this whole mess started Leonard stopped thinking, and simply felt.

Nothing mattered but this here, right now, and the fact that Jim still wanted him like this and he was a complete idiot for ever thinking otherwise.

His orgasm hit him out of the blue. He had been skirting the edge for a little while now, but hadn't been aware that he was that close. Yet all it took was one forceful thrust that was angled just right and the tightening of Jim's hand around his cock as his thumb skirted over the head, and he came all over Jim's hand with a startled shout. He felt himself tighten around Jim as he rode out his climax, and if possible it felt even fuller, even more intense as Jim thrust into him another couple of times before his back stiffened and he came with a groan, his teeth clamping down on the skin of Leonard's shoulder almost automatically.

"God, Bones…"

For a few moments they lay like that, Jim a boneless heap atop of him. But even boneless, Jim was by no means a light man, and Leonard carefully tried to rearrange them so that he could at least breathe freely. Jim withdrew with a small sound of protest, but curled up against Leonard's chest with a content sigh nevertheless. Any lesser man might call it cuddling, but Leonard liked his balls accounted for and firmly attached where they were, so he kept these moments of post-coital bliss unlabelled in his head. Instead, he shifted his arm under Jim's shoulder and pulled him closer.

Jim shifted against him, blue eyes blinking tiredly.

"We good?"

He didn't even have to think about it. "Other than me being a giant idiot, we're good."

Jim smiled and nuzzled his face back into the crook of Leonard's neck. "That's okay," he sighed. "I kinda love this giant idiot."

That brought a smile to Leonard's face and he closed his eyes, and he would have been content to just drift off, but then he remembered something Jim had said earlier.

"Did you mean it?"

"Huh?" Jim already sounded half-asleep. "Mean what?"

"What you said earlier. That…you know, about how when you're old and grey you still won't care if I'm a bit older and greyer?"

Jim huffed out a laugh. "Of course I did." He lifted his head from its position against Leonard's chest. "What, you didn't think I mean it?"

"No. It's just…it's good to hear it, is all."

Jim looked at him for a few long moments, his head cocked to the side. He ran a hand along Leonard's cheek and then settled back into his earlier position with his head resting against Leonard's chest. His fingers were tracing gentle patterns against Leonard's skin.

"Good. You better believe it, too. Dunno yet where I'll end up a couple of decades down the road, but I'm not going anywhere without you." He shimmied along the mattress, trying to find the one perfect sleeping position. "And now shut up, Bones. You're ruining the afterglow."

Leonard laughed and pulled Jim a little closer. "Okay, okay. I'll shut up so that you can sleep."

"Sleep," Jim agreed, his voice already drifting off. "Then a shower. And food. And more sex."

They might have to reconsider the order, Leonard thought as he closed his eyes and melted into the feeling of Jim pressed up against him. But other than that, it was a plan.

The End