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Jim couldn't remember the last time he'd awoken on Christmas Eve morning to such a delicious scent. It drew him out of the guest bedroom, down the stairs and into the kitchen (pants were almost dismissed as superfluous but he caught himself at the last moment). This was his third day in the McCoy house and he had decided that he wanted to wake up to a big homemade breakfast every morning for the rest of his life. He hadn’t entirely forgiven Bones for holding out on him for over a year.

Bones wasn’t slaving away on his own; his mother was turning strips of bacon while he tended to the grits. Their heads were bent close and they were talking in low, urgent voices. Both looked up, startled, when Jim said good morning. It was the weirdest thing: Bones turned red and hunched over the stove, while Eleanor McCoy gave Jim a long, appraising look. Jim fidgeted under her gaze and asked if he was interrupting.

The look on her face was almost…smug, Jim might say. “Not at all, honey. Have a seat, everything‘s just about ready.” He blinked in surprise as she patted his cheek, her palm soft against his skin. Then Bones was shoving a plate of pancakes and maple syrup - the real stuff, not the synthetic crap - at him, and Jim let the hushed conversation slip his mind.

As the extended branches of the McCoy clan were due to arrive that afternoon, Eleanor wasted no time in putting them to work in the kitchen while she started on cleaning the already spotless house. Jim appreciated the chance to help - she’d hardly let him lift a finger before this, though he had finally managed to wrangle dish duty the night before.

But he soon realized that there was a downside to Bones’ genetic heritage of culinary prowess: he was a fucking control freak with an oven mitt. He kept peering over Jim’s shoulder and brusquely offering to get him more salt or show him how to roll the dough out, like Jim couldn’t handle the simplest task on his own. If this was how he managed hospital staff, it was a wonder he never got a hypo in the ass for his trouble.

His frustration at being mollycoddled mounted until only one course of action seemed like the appropriate retribution. Gauging his moment, Jim struck.

Bones gaped at him, eyelashes and lips and nose dusted white like they‘d had a freak indoor snowstorm. Jim had time for a single chortle before Bones swore colorfully and dumped a handful of flour on his head.

Before long they were breathless with laughter, skidding on the floor in their stocking feet. Jim had just scored a major victory in the form of snap peas down the back of Bones’ pants when the lady of the house returned. She swatted at them both for making a mess (though Jim could see her fighting a grin) and banished them from her kitchen. Jim's sentence was sweeping the verandah front and back, while Bones got bathroom duty. It took them longer than was strictly necessary, as Bones proceeded to open all four bathroom windows so he could hurl abuse at Jim for starting "a goddamned food fight of all things, what are we, twelve?"

They'd come to a reluctant truce by the time they finished and settled on the couch. Bones’s scowl eased when he flipped the channel to an ancient-looking movie.

"I like this one," he explained a bit sheepishly when Jim raised an eyebrow. "And it's the original, too, not one of the awful remakes." Jim kept his smirk to himself - mostly.

While he wasn't really following the plot, there was something vaguely familiar about the gaggle of sisters and their beaus. It nagged at him for twenty minutes until one of the girls ("Judy Garland," Bones muttered, rolling his eyes. "'The Wizard of Oz'? I know it doesn't have naked women or shit getting blown up in it but honestly, Jim.") sat down at a piano on Christmas and began to sing. He realized that this was why they were showing the film on Christmas Eve; and he remembered that his mother used to listen to this song. It always made her cry, and no wonder - the lyrics were surprisingly downbeat for an old Hollywood musical and the woman's clear voice seemed to draw from a deep well of sorrow.

Of course, the holidays in general were not Winona Kirk's favorite time of year. Thus the reason she'd stopped coming home for them, and why Jim had gone surfing in Mexico last year instead of back to Iowa like he'd told Bones. Not exactly your traditional holiday celebration but hey, it beat the time he'd spent Christmas Eve in the lock-up (thanks for that one, Frank).

He'd been sunburned and hungover when he returned to a roommate wearing holes in the floor. Bones went absolutely apeshit, ranting about Jim being a thoughtless, irresponsible asshole and how anything could've happened to him and nobody would have known because he didn't fucking bother to tell anyone where he was. He shouted, Jim yelled back and it turned into their first big fight, culminating in Bones walking out. Jim got a stomachache that lasted until his birthday, which he decided to celebrate by going on a one-man bar crawl across San Francisco. It turned out like many such expeditions had before he'd found somebody to drink with, only worse. Bones had been there when he woke up, and in an entirely out of character move said not a word about how Jim ended up in the hospital. He'd simply gripped Jim's left arm tight - just about the only part of him that wasn't bruised, broken or bandaged - and said quietly, "Next time you call me, kid. Okay?" And they hadn't spoken about Christmas again until a month ago, when Bones had told Jim he was coming to Georgia this year and that was that.

Lost in thought, Jim suddenly realized that he wasn't watching Julie Whatsherface anymore. He nudged Bones in the ribs. "I thought you said you liked that movie."

Bones didn't look at him. "Eh, I've seen it a million times."

They compromised on a program about the history of Christmas. While it appealed to Jim's inner history geek, the combination of heavy food and childish antics soon had him nodding off. In fact he nodded right off out of his own personal space and woke up with his head on Bones' shoulder. Drowsily he noted how comfortable said shoulder was, all broad and muscular, and how Bones smelled like baking things, and he really hoped he hadn't drooled all over him.

Bones craned his neck to look down at Jim. He had the strangest expression on his face. It was an intense kind of look, and while Bones was normally kind of an intense person he'd been much more relaxed in the past few days (case in point: it was impossible to imagine Doctor Cadet McCoy smearing gingerbread dough all over anyone's face). And yet his eyes held a measure of soft warmth that made Jim want to curl up against him and go back to sleep.

Lifting the arm that wasn't trapped by dead weight, Bones slowly ran his thumb along Jim's cheekbone. Jim's heart thrummed a little faster. It wasn't like they were unaccustomed to physical contact - Jim was a tactile person and Bones considered it too much effort to keep pushing him off - but they didn't generally go around touching each other's faces.

"Flour," Bones explained, his voice a low rumble. His eyelashes looked so long and dark from this angle that Jim couldn't help but wonder how they'd feel fluttering against his lips...

Yeah, no. Bad things happened to Kirks around this time of year, and making an uninvited move on Bones when he'd been nice enough to bring a pathetic sad-sack friend home for the holidays would definitely qualify as a Bad Thing.

Bones seemed to realize they'd hit an awkward moment just then. He cleared his throat and hastily withdrew his hand, while Jim picked his head up so fast it nearly gave him whiplash.

"I'm gonna go see if your mom needs any help," Jim said a bit too loudly. Bones nodded, looking relieved. Mentally cursing himself, Jim ignored the pang of disappointment and returned to the kitchen, hoping the statute of limitations on his exile had run out.

Bones was a little twitchy around him until people started arriving around 1500, and then he was too busy greeting aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins and, Jim was fairly certain, a few strangers who'd wandered in off the street in search of country ham. Bones might have been an only child, but he certainly didn't lack for extended family on either side. Jim thought it polite to hang back a little; he knew this was only the third year since David McCoy's death and the first time Eleanor had been up to having everyone over for the traditional Christmas Eve dinner.

But Bones stuck close to him, making introductions and murmuring anecdotes about various family members. Jim wasn’t about to complain because it was kind of difficult to carry on a conversation with somebody whose name and place on the twisting family tree he had no hope of remembering. While he would never call himself anti-social, this wasn’t exactly a keg party. For one thing he actually gave a damn what these people thought of him. For another, everyone was loud and friendly and he was, to tell the truth, a little overwhelmed. A hand on his elbow or the small of his back kept him grounded.

He did object to Bones insisting on making his plate for him, but Bones stubbornly set his jaw and nodded to the crowded kitchen. There was so much food that they'd had to set folding tables up in neat aisles.

"Jim, I know all those dishes and exactly what's in them - you don't. I set you loose in there and you're bound to pick up something with soy or shellfish or mango extract or a dozen other things you can't eat." He crossed his arms over his chest and treated Jim to his very best I'm-a-doctor-you-dipshit face. "Do you really want to spend Christmas Eve in the emergency room?"

Jim had to concede the point, even if he did feel like he should be sitting at the kids' table.

"Green beans, my favorite," he grumbled when Bones set a plate piled high with food in front of him.

Bones kicked him in the shin. "Green beans made with bacon and fatback." He watched Jim take a bite and smirked at his faint noise of surprise.

"Okay, we're definitely going to have to move into a place with a kitchen," Jim said fervently, trying something with black-eyed peas and yet more bacon and finding it equally delicious.

He spent most of the actual dinner part of dinner concentrating on the food and listening to the many conversations rising and falling around him. Hearing Bones volley back and forth across the big table was his favorite part. Most of the time he didn't really have a strong accent; it tended to come out only when he was very tired or very drunk. But it had gotten slower and deeper with every passing day spent at home, and with his family surrounding him he'd reverted to a true Georgia drawl. Jim answered a question here, laughed at a joke there, but it was Bones he heard even over the heated argument Aunt Gwen and Cousin Jerry (or maybe Harry?) were having to his left.

There was simply no way around it: Bones' voice did things to Jim, especially when it got all lazy and rich like this. It wasn't his fault that a frisson of lust rolled down his spine because Bones asked if he wanted another beer or piece of pie, was it? As long as he didn't act on it, he could go right on thinking his best friend had the sexiest voice in the world. It didn't hurt Bones and it wouldn't hurt Jim until he went to bed to jerk off while he imagined Bones whispering sinful things in his ear.

After they’d all been stuffed to the gills, Bones retreated to the study to call Joanna. They had worked it out so that she would spend tonight with her grandparents in Atlanta and travel to the McCoy house after she opened presents on Christmas morning. Jim knew he was afraid Jocelyn would back out at the last minute. It wouldn’t be the first time, but Joanna was getting old enough to recognize when she was being used as a pawn; Jim didn’t think Jocelyn would risk upsetting her on Christmas.

“You’ll be okay on your own?” Bones asked before he went, touching the back of Jim’s hand.

Jim rolled his eyes, suppressing an embarrassing shudder at the touch, innocent though it was. “Yeah, Bones, I’ll be a brave little soldier.” Bones snorted and left him picking up plates and silverware.

The crowd was beginning to thin out, people wishing Eleanor a merry Christmas as they gradually talked their way to the door. Jim wandered over to the fireplace in the den. He’d noticed the pictures on the mantelpiece, but this was the first chance he’d gotten to examine them up close. Though there were a couple of holos, most were old-fashioned still photos. He spotted Bones’ parents on their wedding day: David looking solemn and handsome and so much like Bones that Jim had to do a double-take; Eleanor with a slimmer frame and curled auburn hair instead of gray, but wearing the same wide, kind smile with which she’d welcomed him into her home.

Bones as a round-cheeked baby made him laugh - he was glaring out of the photo like Jim had left dirty underwear on the floor again. But he was smiling in the rest of the childhood pictures, right up to three graduations in a triptych-style frame. Then there was a candid shot of him holding an infant Joanna, staring down at her face with perfect wonder.

He was still looking at that one when a woman’s voice said, “Eggnog?”

“Thanks,” Jim replied, accepting the glass. She was a pretty, curvy redhead around thirty who he thought might be a cousin from Eleanor’s side of the family. “Er, Mary?”

“Maureen,” she corrected easily, smiling at him. She took a sip of her drink and he did the same, unsurprised at the fumes that crept up his sinuses. She was a McCoy, after all - well, technically she was a Hardesty, but it was close enough. Gesturing to the picture, she said, “I take it you’ve met the famous Miss Jo?”

Jim nodded, glancing at a holo of Joanna from this past Halloween. Bones had gotten a real Starfleet nurse’s uniform altered for her and she’d been thrilled. “She came out to San Francisco for a week over the summer.” He didn’t mention how long and hard Bones had fought for that visit, unsure of the ex-wife’s standing within the family circle. After the divorce Eleanor had pledged to keep mum for her granddaughter's sake.

“How nice of Jocelyn to have arranged that. She’s such an attentive mother, bless her heart.” Maureen said this with a barely perceptible little moue and Jim grinned. Before he’d spent time with Eleanor, he wouldn’t have understood that she had just insulted Jocelyn in Genteel Southerner. She smiled in return, looking a bit less like she was sizing him up. It seemed to be a trend amongst women in this family.

“Can I just say, we are all so happy to meet you,” Maureen said, fiddling with her long strand of pearls. “How long have you two been together?”

Jim’s mouth fell open and worked soundlessly for a moment before he managed to speak.

“Uh, we’re not - Bones is - I mean Leonard -”

“Oh, I’m sorry!” Maureen put her hand on his arm, looking thoroughly scandalized by herself. “Len didn’t say anything, but he’s so private, I just assumed - I am sorry.”

Jim could feel the tops of his ears heating up. He let out an awkward little cough-laugh. “It’s okay. No, we’re just very close friends.”

“Well, in that case, I’m glad to know he’ll have a friend out there in the black,” Maureen said, unintentionally twisting the knife a little deeper. It had never been Bones’ intention to seek a posting on a starship; Jim knew that even though they had never really talked about it. He suspected it was the very reason they hadn’t talked about it.

She excused herself not long after, clearly still smarting over her gaffe. He knocked the rest of his eggnog back and headed to the dining room in search of some straight-up whiskey.

Like he’d been summoned by Jim’s decidedly un-friend-like thoughts, Bones intercepted him.

“Hey, I’ve been lookin’ for you. C’mon, it’s too close in here.“ Grabbing Jim’s wrist, he tugged him around to the back of the house.

Jim let himself be pulled, studying Bones. He was usually happy after he’d talked to Joanna, every so often pensive and sad; but at the moment Jim couldn’t quite gauge his mood. His face was suffused with nervous tension, but it wasn’t necessarily a bad kind of nervous. He looked, Jim concluded, like he had a secret.

They ended up on the back verandah. A breeze kicked up and Bones shivered a little, though it was downright tropical by Jim’s standards of winter. Bones turned around and leaned against the white-painted rail, finally letting go of Jim's arm. He took a deep breath and gave Jim that look - that damned look he hadn’t been able to figure out all day.

“Hey, did you know your cousin Maureen thought we were dating or something? How crazy is that, huh? I bet my mom’d be excited about me landing a doctor - you know, wherever she is tonight.“ Oh God, he was babbling. Somehow he’d ended up holding the glass and he drank it down to shut himself up, noting that Bones spiked his with bourbon instead of brandy. Of course he did.

Desperate to avoid Bones’ eyes, his gaze lingered skyward after he’d tossed the eggnog back. That was when he saw it, nestled amongst the beams over his head.


He had turned around to face the barn. In the silence Jim could hear some of the kids playing hide and seek around the side of the house. No, not hide and seek - one of them shouted “Green light!”

“You hung mistletoe for me?”

The flicking porch light shone on Bones' dark hair like a halo. His knuckles whitened on the rail.

And at last Jim got today. Sneaky Eleanor at breakfast, the looks, the teasing, the small touches - God, the flour

Jim couldn’t help it. He laughed aloud.

Bones spun around with fists clenched, glowering. He looked so pissed off and that was even funnier, and Jim laughed again. Bones tried to push past him into the house but Jim grabbed his arm.

“Red light! Billy, you’re out!”

“Am not!”

“Wait, wait, wait - Bones!” Jim doggedly hung on as Bones tried to shake him off. “I’m sorry, it’s just -” He reached up to cup Bones’ cheek, stubble rasping the heel of his hand.

Bones looked at him, eyes burning with hurt and shame and finally a little bit of doubt. That was all Jim needed.

“You hung mistletoe for me,” Jim repeated softly. He watched the doubt grow and bloom into something more like hope.

“Maybe.” Bones moved until his back hit the railing again, gaining confidence at each step Jim took to match him. “What are you gonna do about it?”

Jim glanced up at the mistletoe one last time. “Well, I guess if you’ve gone to all this trouble…” Bones' mouth twitched and he finally let himself smile. For that Jim gave him the kiss that, according to a very old custom based upon a poisonous parasite, he was due.

It started off chaste, just the flavor of nutmeg and bourbon on dry lips. But Jim had been coasting in a state of frustrated desire for months now and it wasn’t long before he was kissing Bones hard enough to leave an impression, crowding him up against a post. Bones didn’t seem to notice the aged wood creaking. Point in Jim’s favor for successfully driving him to distraction; point against him if they ended up breaking the porch. He should really -

Ah, fuck it, the ground looked soft enough.

Protesting architecture wasn’t enough to bring them up for air - but a platoon of small children chorusing “Ewww!” did the trick.

Well, it worked on one of them anyway. Bones pulled away, though Jim’s lips and tongue kept moving in the empty air. He blinked, surprised to find himself not being kissed into a stupor any longer. Stupor achieved, apparently.

“Y’all get outta here or Santa won’t bring you nothin’ but coal,” Bones barked over Jim‘s shoulder.

The kids scattered like jacks, one little girl in a blonde ponytail hollering, “Mama, Lenny’s kissin’ Mr. Jim!”

Bones shook his head, looking as dazed and punch-drunk as Jim felt. “Damn it, Jim.”

“Oh my God, your voice.” Jim reached for him again. Bones ducked under his arm, chuckling at his thunderstruck expression.

“Hang on, cowboy, I need my coat and then we can head out to the barn.”

“The barn?”

Bones rubbed the back of his neck, looking nervous again. “Yeah, coupla people are staying the night so I put the air mattress up in the loft. We don’t have to share,” he added quickly. “But it’s got heating and it‘s clean.”

“And not right down the hall from your mother’s room,” Jim pointed out, warming to the plan. He warmed a little more when a grin broke across Bones’ face and he quickstepped forward to kiss Jim again, swiftly but mercilessly. Leaning back against the post, Jim admired his retreating ass and congratulated himself on finally getting his hands on it. If it had to happen two storeys over a bunch of sleepy horses, he trusted it would be worth it.

He did manage to slip his hands down Bones’ back pockets as soon as the barn door slid home, and the ass he groped was every bit as fine as it looked. Unfortunately that was as far as he got before they were interrupted again, this time by an anxious whicker: Bones’ mare Delilah had heard his voice. He grumbled about jealous females and went off to soothe her before she woke her stablemates. Jim was glad to clamber up the ladder. He didn't really get along with horses; Bones claimed it was because he was excitable enough to exhaust even the most placid mount.

The main hayloft was open space but there was a small room at the back. It normally held bins of feed and various supplies, which Bones had dragged out to make room for the double mattress. Jim whistled in appreciation - he had really made a effort. The temporary bed was decked out in seasonal green sheets and a pale quilt, lit by a lantern hung overhead. It was the kind made to simulate old-fashioned oil light and it cast a soft glow off the oak boards. A vague whiff of sweet feed and leather lingered, obscuring the scent of horses. In summer the enclosed space would be oppressively hot, but for late December it was warm enough that Jim stripped off his shirt without a thought.

He rather liked the idea of fucking in a barn - there was something both rugged and quaint about it. Took him back to his teenage exploits. Though there was a world of difference between the McCoys’ functional, well-maintained stable and the dilapidated old structure behind the Kirk house. There’d been a tire swing once, but the rope had rotted through when Jim was six and no one ever bothered to fix it. All it had been good for was hiding out when Frank was drunk - he didn’t like the barn, always said it was bound to fall down around their ears someday.

Bones called his name then, rescuing him from further cheerful thoughts about home sweet home. His mouth quirked when he saw that Jim was half-naked and perched on the mattress. Jim caught his coat as he tossed it. “Pocket,” was all he said.

Rifling through the wide pockets, Jim pulled out several condoms and a bottle of lube. He cocked an eyebrow at Bones, who blushed and raked a hand through his hair.

“Jim, I -”

“Fuck me.”

Bones’ eyes darkened, but he hesitated. “You sure? I mean, I just brought that stuff in case, I didn’t want to presume…”

“Godammit, McCoy, don’t go gettin’ all Southern gentleman on me now,” Jim said in his best imitation of Bones’ drawl, which must not have been very good because it made Bones wince. Then he chuckled, looking down through half-lowered lashes like he knew Jim had been fantasizing about them just a few hours ago.

“Please, the Southern gentleman thing worked like a charm.”

“Whatever. Take your pants off,” Jim said breathlessly, rolling onto his back to wriggle out of his own jeans.

It took awhile, what with Bones falling onto him and nipping at his chest and shoving a hand down his briefs instead of taking them all the way off like a normal person. But at last they were lying naked together and Jim could wrap his fingers around Bones’ cock, thick and flushed and curved just a bit. Bones groaned so prettily that he had to take a brief detour from their destination. He pushed Bones flat and leaned down, noticed he was being watched and licked his lips before sliding them over the swollen head. Bones fisted his hands in the sheet and rode it out with little jerks of his hips. Jim could feel the weight of his gaze all the while.

He ran his tongue firmly along the vein on the underside and Bones let out a harsh cry.

“Fuck, Jim,” he ground out, thrusting shallowly into Jim’s mouth. “You keep at it and this’ll be over right quick.”

Jim sucked at him a little longer, to be contrary and because he enjoyed it. Then he slowly pulled off and let Bones haul him up for a hard, desperate kiss. By the end of it Jim was the impatient one, barely able to grant Bones enough room to slip a hand between them. He gave Jim’s cock a few quick pulls before reaching back to press two fingers into him.

“More - oh God, like that -”

“Easy, easy,” Bones murmured, voice threadbare as his thumb rubbed circles over the wet tip of Jim‘s cock.

Another finger and he could feel the stretch, not quite a burn - it was like an itch he couldn’t scratch and it drove him crazy, made him writhe under Bones’ hands and gasp, “Inside me, Bones, please.”

Bones mumbled assurances, kissed him somewhere in the vicinity of his mouth, and rolled a condom on before Jim had a chance to show off the trick with his teeth. No matter though, because Bones was slicking himself up and kneeling between Jim’s spread legs and fuck but Jim wanted him.

For all that, he was a little too eager and Bones pushed in a little too fast. Jim knew he saw the wince because he went perfectly still. “Oh fuck, I’m sorry, I -”

“Hush, you’re fine. Come here,” said Jim hoarsely, holding him with one hand on the back of his neck and the other between his shoulder blades. He focused on relaxing, letting his body adjust. He didn‘t bottom very often and it had been a few months since the last time. Bones was biting his lip, his arms starting to shake with the strain of holding back. Jim threw his head back on the pillow and breathed, “Okay."

He finally started to move, slowly at first, only loosening up when Jim let out a groan that was nothing but pleasure. This was the part he loved, when his flagging erection became interested again and his partner - Bones, Bones, it was so much better because it was Bones bearing him down - was a steady beat of heat and pressure inside him.

Bones rolled his hips, staring down with an adorable furrow of concentration between his brows. It seemed that after his initial reservations Leonard McCoy had put his mind to fucking Jim good and proper, and he usually accomplished what he set out to do.

“Feel good?”

“Mmph, harder,” Jim panted, thinking it was still a bit too proper. His reward was a fierce grin and Bones coaxing his legs up against his chest. Jim made a sound that was definitely not a squeak and clutched his knees as Bones pounded into him, angling to hit his prostate on damn near every stroke. He freed one hand to tangle in soft non-regulation brown hair. Bones turned his head to touch his lips to a racing pulse, never taking his eyes from Jim’s face. This time Jim would admit to whimpering. And who could blame him? Certainly not anyone who’d had the privilege of Bones‘ undivided attention in bed. Hell, he’d known guys who couldn’t find their own sweet spots, much less pay any attention to Jim’s, and wondered if it came with the medical degree.

He liked to think the things Bones was murmuring were all for him, though. “Beautiful reckless boy,” he said, and “Christ, Jim, so tight” and “Never thought I’d have this.” And once, tucked under Jim’s jaw like he was afraid to set it free - “Mine.”

Jim swallowed hard, starting to shake under him and not because he was close. “Need you,” he whispered before he could think better of it, closing his eyes.

Bones faltered in his rhythm. The sound of their harsh breaths filled the moment's pause. Then he dropped kisses on Jim’s lids and buried his face in Jim’s neck. When he raised his head again Jim had regained enough control to meet his eyes and his renewed thrusts. Bones looked a bit shell-shocked, like he'd needed that moment too. Jim grunted and rocked up against him, wanting to get past this before it threw them off balance.

Bones gave a faint shake of his head, bending down to close his teeth on Jim's bottom lip. His voice was gruff when he spoke again.

“So how d'you like your present?” He shifted to one arm so he could take Jim’s cock in hand. His palm was slick with sweat and lube, his agile fingers kneading just this side of too rough and Jim knew he was done.

“Best - Christmas - ever,” he managed to get out before he came. It was the kind of world-shaking, white-light orgasm that rendered him almost mute, threatening to drag him down into unconsciousness - but Jim wanted to see and feel and hear Bones get there too, and so he hung on. Bones' breathing grew more ragged as Jim's body clenched around his cock. His eyes were an anchor point, a hazel ring burning around black pupil. Jim couldn't have stirred even if he'd wanted to with Bones looking at him like that. He pushed deep for a few more strokes before crying out Jim’s name and collapsing atop him.

Jim lay flat on his back, chest heaving, and waited for the neurons to start firing again. Bones didn't remove his weight so much as redistribute it, sprawling halfway across Jim with a knee pushed between his thighs.

"So," Jim said at length, when his heart rate had begun the long descent back to resting. "That was..."

Bones heaved a contented sigh. "It was."

Jim turned into him and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. Their kisses were lazy and sweet now, hands stroking idly instead of greedily. It wasn't anything like Jim's usual post-coital dilemma between starting another round and having to get back to his place to study or write a paper or some other task that couldn't wait.

Bones dragged his fingertips down Jim's sternum to his navel. Jim shivered, sweat beginning to cool on his skin. He dragged the forgotten quilt up. Wherever the condom and the sticky mess on Bones' hand had gone, he certainly hadn't dared to soil a handmade heirloom. Jim had thought it plain at first, but now he could see that the smooth fabric was stitched in an elaborate pattern. He traced the interlocking rings and Bones caught his hand.

"Jim." His voice was hushed, almost reverent, as though he didn't want to break the calm.

Jim nudged closer. "What?"

Bones reached up to card his fingers through Jim's hair. "What are we doing?"

It was a question he might have thought to ask before he fed Jim peach pie and set up the red light district of the North Pole in his barn. Jim decided not to point this out. He was silent for a minute as he skimmed his hand over the planes of Bones' back. When he lifted his chin he found Bones regarding him with a kind of earnest vulnerability that made his heart ache. He wondered, not for the first time, how a person could ever leave a man like Leonard McCoy so bitter and empty.

"Hell if I know," he said with a one-shouldered shrug. "You willing to figure it out with me?"

Bones searched his eyes. Jim let the thoughts he usually kept guarded run across his mind - you're my best friend, can't lose you, can't fuck it up, don't know if I can do this but I want to try, God do I want to. He didn't say any of it. He didn't need to because after a moment Bones nodded slowly, arm tightening around Jim's waist.

"Yeah," he said thickly, the lantern illuminating flecks of green in his eyes. "Yeah, I can do that."

Jim let out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding. Bones got up to put the light out and Jim missed being able to see him, lean muscle and sun-kissed skin and the smile that was all Jim wanted to wake up to on Christmas morning. But at least he could feel it still, curving against his brow.

"Merry Christmas, Bones," he whispered in the dark.

Bones pulled him close and arranged the white quilt until it covered them like a snowdrift. "Merry Christmas, Jim."