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It takes only two hours before Winona finally tires of them and chases them out of the house. "Sam could control this little monster," she says to Aurelan but slaps Jim's hands away from tweaking the pearls and ivory roses on the bridal veil perched on the counter for something like the thirtieth time that day. "If you can't keep your hands to yourself why don't you go outside and play?" She punctuates her stern words with a hard slap to Jim's bottom that makes him jump. There's a moment where Jim looks unsure how to react, then his face relaxes.

"Mom," he says in a tone that strives to be very grown-up and instead falls somewhere in the neighborhood of a whine. "I'm an adult, not a—"

"Three year-old who needs to touch everything like a hyperactive ferret?" She smiles.

"That's the best description of Jim I've ever heard,'" Leonard comments. Jim's mother laughs and gives him a conspiratorial wink. Behind her, Jim gives him a wounded, 'et tu, Brute?' puppy face that fazes Leonard not in the slightest. This teasing banter is new. Leonard takes it as a sign that the awkwardness between Jim and his mother is beginning to fade.

Not even a minute later, Jim deliberately sticks his finger into the cake cooling on the counter and gives Winona his most charming grin. It takes a combination of Leonard's grip on his ear, another helpful slap on the rump from his mother, and Frank sticking his head into the kitchen to finally get Jim's ass in gear. Aurelan's tinkling laugh and Winona's lower, huskier chuckle follow them out the door.

The air outside is still and hot. They sit on the porch swing, rocking in time, Leonard letting Jim set the pace because Jim'll make it into a competition if Leonard doesn't, and stare out over the yellow fields. Leonard ignores Jim's jiggling foot and the way he rocks them just a little too fast, thinking of logistical things like what he's going to wear to Sam and Aurelan's wedding the day after tomorrow, and how he can possibly keep a drunk Jim from slugging Frank during the reception that won't involve hog-tying.

Jim jumps up. "Let's go exploring," he says, like he hasn't already given Leonard the grand tour of the house two days before when they arrived.

"Let's not," Leonard says, settling even deeper into the cushions of the porch swing. "It's hot."

"What the hell, Bones," Jim kicks his ankle. "Didn't you grow up in Georgia?"

"Also known as the land of climate control and air conditioning. You know, civilization."



"Everybody wants to know where the famous Captain Kirk grew up," Jim says in a his best reasoning voice, with an expansive gesture at the yard, which is rather unimpressive. Bright pink geraniums grow in a wild sprawl across the front of the house. A single beech breaks the expanse of the overgrown lawn, rusted spokes of what had probably been a bicycle sticking dangerously out of the ground. Whatever Winona does in her retirement, gardening sure isn't it. "I'm giving you the grand tour of Casa de Kirk, and for free, so quit bitching."

"I'm flattered," Leonard drawls, giving him the finger. "See if I feel sorry for you and come here with you again."

"It was either you or that Andorian over in Personnel Records," Jim tells him, bounding down the steps in one giant leap as if Leonard's already said yes. "But you've got nicer breasts."

Leonard's minded to give him the double bird and remain planted where he is just to be contrary, but then Frank comes out onto the porch. The effect is instantaneous: Jim's shoulders stiffen, his jaw jutting in that way Leonard knows means trouble's soon to follow. The tableau is an all-too-familiar one that played out countless times in the two days Jim and Leonard have been there: the older man, gray and deeply wrinkled, staring with mute appeal at his step-son, Jim staring back with hostility.

For fuck's sake.


There isn't much to see. Bare yard with dust that puffs up with every step, alternating fields of fallow soil or wheat and green corn stretching to the horizon in every direction. A water reclamation unit off the corner of the yard, irrigation units, and a small peach orchard off to the side. No wonder Jim had been a delinquent, he thinks as they ramble, shading his eyes against the glaring sun. If Leonard had grown up here, he'd have gone a little stir-crazy too.

Jim keeps up a running commentary as they go, as if to keep Leonard from asking anything he'll have to dodge. Leonard lets him, no stranger to strained family relations himself. At least the constant chatters fills the oppressive silence that presses down upon them like a suffocating blanket, only rarely broken by the drone of a cicada or the low buzz of a transport passing by on the adjacent road.

They've come to a large barn on the other side of the yard, and Jim's got it into his head that he needs in there, right now.

"Ah, ha—try to get this—ow, it's rusted shut, but I bet I can kick—" the clatter of metal and shattering wood.

Leonard rolls his eyes. "Can't we just ask your mom for the key?" Another bang, this time louder. Leonard looks back at the house. "You said you used to steal things when you were a kid? No wonder you got caught all the time."

"Bones, I'm a law-abiding citizen of the Federation, and a highly decorated Starfleet captain. I have no idea what you're talking about." Jim grunts a little as he jiggles the rusted padlock to the barn, then draws back and gives it a couple more horse-kicks. The door gives with a rusty groan.

"I used to hide in here and play space cowboys when I was a kid," Jim says almost reverently, craning his neck to look around. The inside's just as boring as the outside, with nothing of particular interest besides wisps of dry hay gone practically to dust with age, motes of dust floating in shafts of golden light that pierces through a roof more holes than not. The only plus Leonard can see is that inside is cooler than outside, maybe by ten degrees.

Jim runs inside anyway, then whirls. "Booooones!" he crows, pointing at Leonard with his index finger. "Pew, pew!"

"The heck?"

"You're supposed to fall down." Jim sounds aggrieved. "Didn't you ever play space cowboys? No, wait." He holds up a hand, sitting up from behind the bale he's thrown himself behind. "I forgot you were born before the advent of fun."

"I know how to have fun," Leonard growls, fighting the urge to use you whippersnapper.

"Yeah, back in the day when you had to trudge uphill ten miles to school. Everyday. Both ways. Barefoot. In the snow. Oh fuck!"

Leonard half-thinks that maybe Jim's had some sort of epiphany about tired cliches, when Jim shoots five feet straight in the air and seems to be having a grand mal seizure. He lands to flop around on the ground, slapping at himself. "Jim, what're you—"


"What—Jim—" His medkit is back at the house, he thinks wildly as he runs forward.



"I can't believe it's still here," Jim says. He sounds happier than he has all day—hell, all week, or even since he received the wedding invitation and recognized it for what it was: an attempt at mending the rift that had grown between Winona and her children since her marriage to Frank. Jim hasn't told Leonard why he hates Frank so much; Leonard only knows Jim returned to Iowa more for Sam's sake, who had apparently reconciled with Winona and Frank years ago.

Leonard's in no position to advise or lecture. He just watches. When they'd first arrived Jim had seemed carved out of brittle stone like he'd shatter with a misplaced tap, but he's been gradually relaxing. Today has been positively normal for Jim, even including being ambushed by unfriendly fauna.

After escaping the barn, Jim said in that easily distracted magpie way he has, "Hey, I wonder if—" then struck off on a tangent into a patch of weeds. Following that bobbing blonde head into the bushes that were surely filled with ticks and snakes and more spiders isn't exactly like following Jim off the ends of the earth, but it's close. Leonard doesn't complain as much as he could, because it's nice to have the old Jim Kirk back again for a short while, even on a wild goose chase.

But Jim's memory is true. The large pond is at the far end of the Kirk property, hidden in a culvert, nearly undetectable until one almost falls into it. It's an oasis in the sere, ticking heat with coolly inviting, fathomless depths shaded by a grove of weeping willows and cattails that encloses them in dappled privacy. A small turtle startles when it sees them and slips off its rock with a splash.

"Come on!" Jim shouts, shucking his clothes in a scattered beeline towards the water. The heat and humidity drives Leonard along in his wake, shooting looks over his shoulder at the house barely visible over the high line of scrub.

"Look," Jim says, stark naked now and completely unashamed before God and everybody, pointing up. Leonard shivers despite the thick heat. Jim's all lean golden lines against the backdrop of tawny wheat, the toned muscles of his back and buttocks flexing as he looks up at a tree that overhangs the water. "Sam and I used to swing off this thing when we were kids."

"I'm surprised you lived to tell the tale," Leonard replies, and even to him his voice sounds faint, stolen by the humidity and this indefinable moment of Jim, just purely Jim, illumined by the sunlight, golden against the darkness of the trunk and the water like some sort of Adonis, every hair on his body picked out in visceral detail.

He hasn't been a teenager in over fifteen years, but Jim can always turn him into a maudlin, hormonal fool—and the kid knows it, too. "I'm going in," Jim tells him and clambers up the tree, fingers and toes as agile as a monkey's on the aged handholds that'd been nailed there decades ago.

"Wait!" Leonard shouts, sure they're going to end the day with Jim breaking his fool neck, but Jim ignores him as selectively as usual, wedging his feet into the ancient, cracked tire and launching, swinging out in a wide arc over the water, laughing carelessly as a sprite. As long as Leonard lives, he'll have this image of Jim burned into his mind: Jim flying as if gravity and worry are only fiction, white grin slicing the thick air.

Jim lets go at the apex and curls up, tucking his head in, and cannon-balls into the deep end. The splash ripples water over Leonard's shoes.

"Jim?!" he shouts when Jim doesn't come back up. He runs over to the bank that overhangs the deep end, counting the seconds. A minute—two—surely it's been at least two minutes. He toes off his shoes and yanks his t-shirt up off his head, preparing to dive into the murky water and only praying he isn't too late.

Two arms launch out of the depths, grasping him around the neck, and yank him in.

Leonard inhales water. He comes back to himself, coughing like his lungs are coming up in pieces. Jim's got him back on the shallow side, supporting him against a bank.

"Ack—Jim," he manages, "what the hell—god—" thinking frantically of pneumonia and e.coli and leeches, probably looking like an idiot with his mouth gaping open, his hair plastered down over his eyes.

"Fuck, sorry Bones," Jim's saying, when Leonard has enough of his senses back online to hear him. He sounds torn between laughter and concern. "Bones, say something."

"Fuck you very much, Jim," Leonard says.

Jim's breath comes in a chuckle and he leans in to press his hard forehead Leonard's cheek, his long eyelashes brushing the line of Leonard's jaw in fluttering flickers, his skin slipping cool against Leonard's bare chest.

"You have a strange way of asking for cuddles," Leonard says hoarsely, turning his face enough to inhale the scent of Jim's hair, of water and algae, vegetation and thick mud. He traces up the curves of Jim's muscled back, almost involuntarily, and Jim hums in approval, pressing Leonard into the mud, rubbing up against his thigh as sleek as a cat. Leonard goes from half-drowned to aroused in an instant. "What if someone comes? Your mom?"

"Way to kill the mood," Jim gripes, though he's got nimble fingers working at the buttons of Leonard's pants, simultaneously shoving at Leonard's socks and the cuffs of his pants with his toes. "New rule. You stay naked unless I tell you otherwise."

"Or I could relieve you of command for mental incapacity," Leonard says, the addition of a sardonic Captain forgotten under the roughness of Jim's tongue lapping at the corner of his mouth, seeking entry. He opens to it, seizing Jim's tongue with his teeth, sucking it into his mouth.

There's several strategic squirms against his legs as they kiss, Jim's agile toes gripping the fabric and tugging, then Leonard's pants slide down to his knees. "That's a talent," Leonard observes, in between the kisses that steals his breath until the world swims. He lifts one foot, then the other, to allow the socks to slip off.

"Huh?" Jim makes slick thrusts against his exposed thigh, the weird lubrication of the water only broken by the rasp of coarse hair along the lines of Leonard's cock.

"Getting my pants off in less than thirty seconds without using your hands," and Jim laughs, in that Of course, because I'm awesome like that way he hasn't heard in days, that always makes Leonard's balls tighten and his hands clench on Jim's ass.

Water drips onto Leonard's face and he can't tell if it's sweat or pond water, only that it feels like he's been waiting years for this, for the slide of Jim's cool lips over his, hesitant as if they've never kissed dozens of times before, and in places much, much weirder than a pond out in The Middle of Nowhere, Iowa. Then those fingers trail down his belly and he pulls away from that tempting mouth to push up into them, his soft groan breaking the still, thick air.

"You know I can hold my breath for four minutes?" conversationally, impossibly cornflower blue eyes framed by spiky dark blonde lashes—how more stereotypically midwestern can he get?—turned upwards at him and crinkled with laughter.

"Is this truth or dare?" Leonard challenges.

"Truth. But." A quirk of those swollen lips. "But it could be a dare."

"You sound like a really bad porno."

"Let's make it a really bad porno." Those white teeth flash again in a comical leer, accompanied with a harder thrust time that shoves Leonard's ass deep into the soft mud behind him and leaves Leonard with no doubt of. But all thoughts of mud up his asscrack or of rolling his eyes flies out of his head as Jim, always a master of distraction, mouths a hot trail down his chest. Leonard arches into that tugging, talented mouth, tangling his hands into Jim's wet curls.

Jim's chin is already in the green water, his eyes incredibly blue against the dark flush of his face as he watches Leonard squirm. Leonard barely manages a weak, "Wait a sec—" before Jim takes a deep breath and plunges out of sight.

If there's something Jim Kirk dearly loves, it's a dare. It's his driving force, his motivation for achieving, the compulsion behind everything he does—the dare to see if he can. The pond's likely full of algae and parasites and god knows what else, but nothing short of an earthquake is going to stop him, even if Leonard could muster enough control to drag him back up from where he's moving against Leonard, unseen hands touching and exploring, before bubbles float to the surface and something slick and warmer than the water surrounds Leonard's cock.

The suction is sweet, sweet and tight, going on forever and not long enough. Somehow Jim isn't drowning, strands of waving blonde hair visible through the murk and occasional bubbles escaping his nose. It's awkward as hell but also perfect, his concern for Jim's lung capacity soon swamped under by his orgasm roils up from his toes.

Jim pops back up as Leonard's still shuddering, fists tearing clumps of grass and mud from the bank, his vision still splintered as much from the sun dancing off the water into his eyes as from his orgasm.

He can only taste water on Jim's tongue, organic and muddy; texture is diluted until there was nothing left but the slick pressure of teeth and the rapid-fire of Jim's panting breaths. Leonard leisurely explores his mouth, teasing out Jim's increasingly desperate moans as he grips the muscle of Jim's ass with both hands, dimpling the flesh and feeling the radiated heat from Jim's flushed skin despite the cooler water that laps at their bodies.

Jim looks inordinately pleased with himself when he pushes away, but retains enough control to observe, "Only four minutes, Bones?" and shakes his head like a dog, spraying drops into Leonard's face. It makes Leonard growl, makes him nip that infuriating grin and worry it between his teeth. He moves his grip on Jim's ass just a little until he reaches the little pucker there with his middle finger and strokes it. Then strokes it again, and this time presses in, just a little.

Jim's eyes darken instantly, but he still doesn't lose that Cheshire cat grin as he surges forward, his cock slipping up and pressing into the flesh of Leonard's lower belly. "Got something to say?" Leonard asks innocently, heading off Jim's answer with another dip into that inviting pucker, and he's rewarded with a choked off obscenity. That agile tongue pushes back into his mouth again, skittering across his teeth and upper lip, that hard length surging forward in time with each exploratory stroke.

Leonard tugs at Jim firmly enough for Jim to break out of his trance of rub and suck and lick, repositioning them until Jim's thighs surround Leonard's and they slot against each other like a jigsaw puzzle. Jim pushes up on his toes against the muddy bottom for leverage, the force of it coupling with the buoyancy of the water until he's practically bouncing against Leonard in an increasingly frantic tempo. But the water's a hindrance, cancelling friction and pressure; it isn't long before Jim sobs in frustration and lets go of Leonard's shoulder to grip his own cock.

Leonard lets him, sucking a purple bruise into the pulse point of Jim's throat and laving it with his tongue. Then as Jim works away at himself, his swollen mouth falling open as he concentrates, Leonard pushes a fingertip into him, teasingly working it into the first knuckle, then pulling out slowly. He feels the flesh contract around his finger, a soft, broken sound escaping Jim's lips.

Soon Leonard's the only one supporting Jim, Jim's hips jutting forward and his upper body leaning back, half-lying in the water; long thighs around Leonard's, a white-knuckled hand clamped onto Leonard's forearm like it was a lifeline.

Jim's beautiful like this: every muscle tensed and shaking, hand frantic and splashing arrhythmically, golden lashes trembling, lush lips caught in his teeth, blonde hair floating around his head in the water like a corona. "Come for me," Leonard says, low and hoarse, pushing two fingers into him up to the second knuckle, catching Jim off guard. It's a sharp pleasure when Jim's voice goes up an octave, shuddering to his climax in irregular jolts, the water shivering around them in response.

Leonard tongues along the taut lines of Jim neck until Jim finally relaxes, leaning forward and resting his forehead like an exhausted child against Leonard's shoulder.

They stand there for several long moments, Jim making pleased, sleepy sounds against his skin.


Jim gets him into a lot of embarrassing situations, but this one takes the cake.

Winona's expression doesn't change as she takes one look at their dripping clothes. "Did you fall in?" she asks, rummaging in the hall closet for towels, but Leonard doesn't miss the way her lips twitch. Jim doesn't either. His ears pink.

Leonard doesn't know how, but Winona just knows. Surely there's a special place in hell for people who get caught fucking by their mothers. "We had an accident," Jim tells her, his brilliant blush and the way he's edging up the stairs giving away the lie.

"Sure." She says it mildly enough but with just a slight emphasis that loads it with a world of innuendo. Jim looks like he wants to die on the spot. Despite his own discomfort, Leonard grins. He's never seen Jim embarrassed like this over being caught. It's a look he could grow to like. "You're good people, Winona," he says to her as Jim narrows his eyes at him.

"Why thank you, Leonard," she says, and pats his cheek. "I like you too."