Title: Never Lost Just Found (5/?)
Fandom: Star Trek AOS
Summary: FH!verse (AU); Sequel to A World of Crazy. Christmas Eve approaches.
Previous Part: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
Christmas Eve approaches and Leonard is none-the-wiser on how to prevent utter devastation. There have been temporary lulls in which he could have simply blurted out “I can’t marry you!”; inevitably, those moments were broken by Jim, Spock or both and some sweet gesture of theirs that makes his heart go thump-thump.
Leonard curses himself for having so little courage; he curses his tenderness and that little voice inside that says don’t hurt them, Len.
But how can he possibly continue on in this charade? The thought of a matrimonial ceremony scares him right down to the core. It brings up all those little memories of the past—Jocelyn admiring her diamond ring, their shared kiss inside a humble-sized chapel (her family’s, Len never went to church before Joce). The honeymoon thereafter, a time when Len was in caught up in the ecstasy of love and dreams of a glorious future (and a family).
He doesn’t think that he go through that again, not even with the repeated assurances of happily-ever-after. Leonard has learned the hard way that there are few happily-ever-afters in this world—and he’s not a lucky contender for one. Especially not here, secluded from the world as he is.
That was his mistake, he knows.
To have a chance at a happily-ever-after, one must participate in life. Leonard has been trying his damnedest to forego reality and all its little problems. He’s tried to hide from responsibility and disappointment, from those judging eyes of his peers and the empty bedroom he’ll go home to at night.
Sure there are ways to drown his sorrows (like he attempted with that final drinking binge) or numb his feelings. Sure he could pick up another woman easily enough to fill the void.
But he can’t do that. It’s as unappealing to him as vegetables are to Chekov.
He does want love; he does want acceptance.
But he’s afraid of failure and heartbreak, feels too old and too undesirable to start the dating game all over again. Jocelyn had been his big win—the one with whom he thought no more looking, this is it—and what a loss that had turned out to be. (A painful one, at best.)
Len wants to believe in Jim and Spock. He really does. But there is still the matter of the where and why that unnerves him. Fleet Heights, a mental institution. For the insane. How can a man trust himself to know what is real in this place and what is fantasy? How can a man trust that a relationship—of any kind—is more than fleeting?
What if Jim decides Leonard is not his Bones?
What if Spock’s family decides that the Vulcan needs to be closer to home? What if his father—that cold bastard, from what Jim says—makes good on his threat to ship Spock overseas tp a private “more secluded” facility?
What if Pike retires (as he is bound to, one day) and the new supervisor doesn’t take kindly to trysts on his floor?
Their relationship is subject not only to their own whimsical natures, but to the whims of others with greater power. And the more Leonard considers the situation, the more he concludes that mental patients are not powerful in the least. A man gives up the right to make decisions for himself when he is declared mentally incompetent. (To have the judgment reversed is easily a thousand times more difficult than it is to be marked and discarded.)
The world is sad on the outside and even sadder on the inside.
It seems that Leonard cannot win for losing.
With these (depressing) thoughts, he is helping hang garland around a large plastic Christmas tree. He says nothing as Spock, who walks beside Len as he circles, fixes the haphazardly strung garland in Leonard’s wake to just the precise spots (that only Spock can see). He pretends not to know that Jim is watching them both with a satisfied air.
And suddenly, like a snap of some unseen force, Leonard can no longer stand being surrounded by these laughing (insane, childish, happy) people. He bundles the rest of the garland against Spock’s chest, says “Finish it. I’ll quit makin’ a mess.” Then without a backward glance at any other person, even the ones who are drilling holes into his back, Len marches determinedly from the recreational room and to the windowed end of the second floor hallway.
He stops at his favorite one, with a view that overlooks wildly grown grounds in an (seemingly endless) stretch to tall gatework that wraps around the perimeter. The pane won’t budge when he shoves against it; dust collects on his hands as he searches for a clasp or lock. In the subsequent knowledge that he is truly trapped, Leonard drops one shoulder and his head onto the cold glass.
Laughter bubbles up in his throat. It’s raining. Of course. Always raining. The laughter comes out in a whimper.
“Spock.” Leonard’s monotone is a match for the Vulcan’s. He traces a finger across the glass, spelling S-p-o-c-k. “What’s your real name?”
“My name is Spock.”
Len rolls until his back meets the glass. Huh. (Jim’s silent for once.) “Spock’s your real name?”
The Vulcan watches him with dark eyes. Finally, “My mother called me Spock.”
Ah. He gets it. A sentimental nickname, between Spock and his mother, no doubt. The man worshipped the ground she walked on, of that much Leonard is sure. He wonders how much Spock misses her. (Enough to go crazy? How ironic, almost like McCoy himself.)
Leonard stares past Spock to Jim and says, “I want to go outside.”
Jim comes to him, takes his hand. “Okay.”
If there’s anything Leonard McCoy will remember about James Kirk, it is the man’s unwavering dedication to making his crew happy. Jim doesn’t hesitate to led them down to the first floor, doesn’t bother to contemplate what happens if they get caught.
No, he herds Leonard and Spock into a small room, tells them to wait. In a matter of minutes (just as Len is wondering how he could have demanded such a dangerous, foolish thing), Jim returns with an orderly Leonard had hoped to never seen again.
Giotto is tapping his foot with impatience, does a cursory sweep over both Len and Spock and dismisses them.
“It’s going to cost you, Kirk.”
“I’m good for it,” Jim answers calmly enough.
The big man nods once and fishes a card out of his pocket. “Back courtyard is empty this time of day. You got thirty minutes before I claim you jumped me.”
Jim nods, takes their ticket to freedom. “Let’s go.”
Leonard decides that thirty minutes might as well be a lifetime, so he is hot on Jim’s heels and dragging Spock along who, for once, is protesting this “illogical unplanned tour of the planet.”
Turns out that the Vulcans are a lot like cats. They hate getting wet.
Leonard throws up his arms to the rain as soon as he sets foot outside and ignores everything and everyone else. When he finally comes back to himself (to his body, his surroundings), Len hears Jim trying to coax Spock from the doorway.
He does the only sensible thing. He grabs Spock’s other arm and summarily yanks him out into the open.
“It is highly illogical to stand in the rain. I must protest. The probability of chest cong—”
“Oh can it, Spock,” Leonard announces with a grin. Jim is mirroring his amused expression. “Thanks, Jim.”
“Anything for you, Bones.”
Another crack in the wall around his heart. Damn. Does Jim know what he’s doing to Leonard?
McCoy drops those thoughts by the wayside. He does a slow circle around the stone-laid area, runs a hand across a low wall along one side. The courtyard is ill-kept, overgrown with weeds. He wonders if the administrators have banned outdoor activities for all patients. (Pike would know.)
Beyond the small courtyard is an acre of yard that bumps into a high iron-wrought fence. Was the fence built to keep the insane from getting out or the world from getting in? Is it a marker of property or protection?
All these little inane questions whisper through his head. Some of them he voices aloud; no one has answers. That’s okay because Leonard is just glad to breathe in the fresh air, if a little damp and smelling faintly of leftover autumn rot. The air is bitterly cold, which surprises McCoy because though his brain knows it’s mid-December, he hasn’t physically felt the change of seasons in over six months. Had forgotten the little details like cold mornings, the beauty of naked trees or an overcast grey sky that makes him wish fervently for snow. (Snow is a rare muted memory.)
When he shivers, Jim asks if he’s cold. “Not yet,” he says like a young child that wants to stay outside until sundown. Jim simply nods in understanding and pulls him in close to share body heat.
Spock seems to have forgotten his discomfort and is bent over inspecting a beetle waddling next to his foot. When the laugh comes out of Len’s mouth, he is as equally surprised as Jim and Spock.
Jim’s blue eyes dance and Leonard wonders if his own are doing the same.
“Thank you,” he says again. This moment of peace (of newness, hope) is worth a thousand thank you’s.
A corner of Kirk’s mouth goes up. “Perhaps you’d better show me how much you mean it, Bones,” he teases.
Normally Leonard would roll his eyes and push the kid away. He does the exact opposite, without a thought or misgiving. Jim’s body goes stiff for only a split second as Leonard kisses him on the mouth and then melts. It’s closed-mouthed and actually the nicest kiss Leonard can remember in a long time. Urgency is absent; there is only the soft splat of rain and the warmth of touching bodies.
When Leonard draws back, Jim’s eyes are still closed; Len watches them slowly open, reveal the clear blue of a mountain lake (the kind Len’d seen as a child once, in the Appalachians on a spring day).
Leonard cannot help himself. His eyebrow goes up. “Really, Jim. A man’d think you haven’t been kissed before.” He suppresses his grin.
Jim blinks at him and smiles. “Actually, my experience is pretty limited.” He tilts his blond head in the direction of the building.
Oh. Leonard punches down that little monster of sympathy-pity-regret that uncoils somewhere in his chest.
Jim plants a kiss on his jaw when he isn’t looking. “We can practice all I want, right, Bones?”
Leonard shudders, but not with cold. Oh crap. “Jim…”
Jim takes a step back from him, at the look that must be on his face. (Why won’t that monster inside stay the fuck down?)
Spock interrupts with “There are seventeen minutes and thirty-nine seconds remaining.”
Yes, there will be little enough time left for us, Leonard knows. But Kirk won’t be side-tracked. He’s still watching Leonard carefully. McCoy cannot stand the sight of him, tense in those proud shoulders—and the vulnerability too.
It’s a question, one he’s been sidestepping since the beginning. Leonard turns away. (Coward!) “Nothing, Jim.”
He lets out a sigh and prepares to let the Vulcan haul them back inside early. (The pleasure of the open outdoors is dissipating quickly, replaced by something ugly and desperate.)
“We’re not going back in until you share a truth,” Jim says. Suddenly the iron-wrought fence is closer than it seems, too close. Leonard stares at it, at the spikes topping each post, before turning to face the other wall—Jim and Spock, shoulder-to-shoulder and just as impossible.
“What truth do you want to hear?” He attempts to say the words in a mild voice but even Leonard can recognize their wavering.
“The truth… about us.”
“No, Bones,” Jim snaps. All the sweetness is gone—from the moment, from them. Bitterness is thick; fear, thicker. “About this!” The man takes hold of his arms and pulls him close. For an overhead observer, they each would form a vertex of a triangle, equally spaced and all facing center.
Jim’s voice gentles, then. “About our future.”
How (or why) he manages to say it, he never knows. “We have no future.”
Jim jerks back, like he’s been slapped. Spock’s eyebrows come down. “Explain.” The Vulcan says that one command as if the world hinges on it. (Maybe it does.)
Leonard slowly pulls out of Jim’s lax hands. He takes a shuddering breath.
“This is where I belong.” Len makes a gesture around them. “Out here; where I should have stayed in the first place.” He swallows hard. “I made a mistake. I’m sorry.”
Oh how the betrayal blossoms in Jim’s eyes. (Len refuses to acknowledge their sheen; let the man have his dignity, at the least, if Leonard is going to strip all else from him.)
“You didn’t,” Jim argues, voice breaking. “You came to us because you needed us, Bones.”
“Maybe I did, Jim. And you’ve helped me, both of you. You’re really have. I-I’ll never be able to repay that debt.”
Jim’s head drops; Leonard can no longer see those eyes. He’s sick with relief.
“So that’s it.” Kirk sounds hollow. “Thanks for the entertainment and so long.” That body wracks and Spock shifts, puts on a hand on his bondmate’s shoulder.
“Jim, it’s not like that.”
“No?” The echo of laughter is wrong, so very wrong coming from the kid. Jim balls his fists and finally fixes a look on Leonard that is more than pained. It’s angry. “It wasn’t entertainment for us, McCoy.”
“It was hope, and it was hard work. You think I liked being rejected, time and again, because you didn’t want to talk to anyone? Do you think that Spock has been so… open with his previous roommates, with anyone but me?”
McCoy’s throat is tight, aches—shame rising.
“We trusted you!” Jim says harshly. “We trusted in you because—” The man breaks off, steps away from both Spock and Leonard. The Vulcan is trying to call him back, but Jim keeps moving away. He doesn’t stop staring at Leonard (through him). “I won’t apologize for trying to love you. I’m not WRONG for what I want. It’s you—” The accusation shreds Len’s heart into ribbons. “—who are wrong.”
Then he’s gone, slamming back into the building in a despairing rage that Leonard cannot begin to match. Spock is silent, stiff-backed.
The Vulcan turns on his heel and walks away. Leonard is alone. Any tears he might cry are nothing more than steady trails of rain upon his face.
I’d let you use my tissue-box but I need every single one…