Title: Cookies and Cakes Oh My!
Fandom: Star Trek AOS
Word Count: 6452
Disclaimer: Characters are property of others; their hither-to-unknown quirks are my addition. ;)
Summary: In Bones’ world, baking for that special someone is akin to sharing affection. Except Bones is stuck on the ‘Fleet campus for Christmas and there is only one possible reason – or person – that could have triggered the need to bake in Leonard McCoy. And Jim hasn’t a clue that hot-from-the-oven cookies mean I pine for you.
Author’s Note: Written for space_wrapped; based on the following prompt: The very first time Jim and Bones spend the holidays together, Bones sort of freaks out completely without warning and starts to bake manically. Pies, cookies, bread, etc. Jim tries to figure out what is driving such crazypants behaviour.
There is a (pseudo-)sequel to be read following this fic if K/S/M is your cup of tea: I Bake for You.
It starts with simple, old-fashioned sugar cookies. The basics: cream the butter, add sugar, eggs, vanilla flavoring, sifted flour and a pinch of salt. Leonard does this all without thought and certainly without care for a measuring cup. In the early days of his childhood with his grandmother—sometimes his mother too—he would measure, weigh and calculate, the corner of his tongue peeking out between firmly pressed lips.
Grandma McCoy told him, “Sometimes a little guessing is the best way, child. It shows you trust your instincts.” She would then dump a “good enough” amount of shortening and butter—dribble in milk as well—into a bowl of flour and knead, knead, knead until the biscuit dough was just to her liking.
Mmmm… biscuits. He’ll have to remember to make those next time.
There will certainly be a next time. The Christmas season has arrived, and Leonard is missing his family. Stuck at Starfleet Academy, unable to see Jo this year… In order not to give in to a looming depression, he bakes himself to happiness. Or rather, the other stray cadets still haunting the dorms will be happy because of him; soon enough they will discover anonymous goodies left in the dorm hall’s second-floor kitchen.
Jim is also staying in San Fran this holiday season. In other words, there are no classes, no time-consuming training and only Jim, Leonard, and free time to share. So Leonard, when he isn’t working a night shift at the hospital, squirrels away in the kitchen during midnight hours. It is peaceful; it soothes his nerves rather than scraping them raw. Jim insists that the Christmas season is Party Central and Good for a Hot Time—which in Jim-language translates to booze and sex. (In McCoy-language, it means early morning vomiting and possible STDs.) Leonard has come home too many nights to find Kirk either stumbling out the door for another pub crawl or stumbling into their small shared room with a bimbo whose hands are already down Kirk’s pants.
Leonard never sticks around in those moments, not even to bitch. Two years—two years of building a close companionship with a guy—rooming with him and patching him up; the result is a bright blue-eyed puppy called Jim who follows Leonard around, shares his meals and his woes. And less than three months ago, the truth struck Leonard like a lightning bolt from God.
He’s fallen in love with the bastard.
What a Goddamn fool he is. He can’t even stay a proper bitter divorcee; one sexy pout, a peek of mischievous blue eyes, and Leonard is ready to have his heart broken again. Suddenly that makes spending time around Jim seem awkward. Surely someone as old and jaded as McCoy has lost the penchant for acting like a dopey, infatuated teenager. The fact that he goes speechless sometimes (which pisses him off to no end later) and itches to pull a crazy stunt like actually touching Kirk indicates otherwise.
Leonard had pursued Jocelyn with passion and determination when he’d realized he wanted her.
Jim is impossible to pursue. Ironically, Kirk may not believe in the no-win scenario but Leonard is pretty damn sure he’s found his. It’s over six-foot, likes to wear tight pants and has a bad habit of not closing its mouth when it chews.
Maybe the aftereffects of a nasty divorce have made McCoy vulnerable; maybe inside his locked-up heart is a fierce craving for love.
Maybe he is simply terrified of being alone, despite that he thinks he is destined for it—in a very dismal, fuck-my-life kind of way.
The Kid comes along and Leonard makes the same old mistake of caring; that caring blossoms into something deeper.
So Leonard hides in the only place that could possibly console him. It’s a place that Jim would never think to look, the community kitchen… because Leonard H. McCoy is a secret baker.
Most days he eats the Academy’s provided cafeteria meals and doesn’t care enough to complain about the lackluster food. It has nutritional value (most of it), though Jim seems to find the most unhealthy and diabetic-coma-inducing crap to consume. If Leonard and Jim want a change of pace, they go out to a bar or a visit one of the standard cadet hangouts for quick food.
He hasn’t seen the inside of a nice restaurant since his second-to-last wedding anniversary with Jocelyn. And he certainly won’t waste what little credits he has on a fancy meal. Better to save the money for JoJo’s gifts; like her Christmas gift, which he had so carefully picked out (Jim tagged along) but had to ship rather than give it to his daughter in person. (Damn his ex-wife.)
His thoughts are interrupted by the good smell of something sweet filling the air. McCoy closes the medical journal article he had been perusing while the cookies bake. Some many minutes later, the alarm goes off on his PADD. A timer is vital to the process of baking. It is something he simply refuses to do without because Leonard is liable to forget or be distracted and end up with a ruined mess for all his efforts. He carefully wraps the ends of his uniform shirt around the edge of the baking sheet and places the cookies on a make-shift cooling rack.
His baking supplies, such as the cookie sheet, the bowl and whisk, are items he had to borrow from the female dormitories. (And wasn’t that a fun explanation, only resulting in knowing, strange looks from the ladies. They’d said something about baking parties and sleepovers but he hadn’t stuck around to listen.) The rest, the ingredients, come from one short trip to the local market. The cashier had said, “The wife send you, son?” He had smiled tightly and grunted. There’s no need to bring up those kinds of memories, and no need to answer nosy assumptions made by strangers.
Luckily, Jim had been out of the room when he’d come back juggling bags. A carefully made space in the side of his closet, some air-tight containers, and the flour, sugar, and other baking supplies can be safely stored. The rest he buys stays in the common frig-unit, subject to fools and punks who want to waste eggs on rowdy games or chug vanilla flavoring.
Ha. In all likelihood he’ll be the one to pump their damn stomachs or treat some sort of bacteria poisoning with grotesque symptoms.
When the cookies are properly cooled, Leonard eats one for posterity’s sake and places the remainder on the kitchen table for anyone to grab. Then it’s on to re-packaging the now clean and dry items in the sink. Automatic clean up is by rout, taught by his momma, and almost as cathartic as the actual baking.
McCoy realizes belatedly that he has been humming.
Or rather, the idiot cadet that pops his head into the kitchen, eyes wide, says, “Are you humming, dude?” Then said-cadet’s nose identifies freshly baked cookies, dances over to the kitchen table and pops one in his mouth.
The “Mmmm… Oh My God!” and subsequent quick use of a PADD (messaging, McCoy suspects) are signal enough for McCoy to hightail it back to his floor.
The cadet wants to know, “Wow, did you make these?”
“Hell, no,” he grouches. “And whatever little fool did is an ass. Left a mess to clean.”
“Doesn’t Starfleet have, like, people or robots or something to clean?”
He glares. “Do you think you’re too good to clean up your own shit, man?”
The nameless cadet must know of McCoy, because he starts edging towards the door, the plate of cookies clutched to his chest.
Leonard advances on him, unknowingly swinging a spatula like a baseball bat.
“Ooo, uh, I gotta go, hey I didn’t—DON’T—”
“Cadet,” growls the doctor, “you’d better put those cookies down. They’re for sharin’.”
The boy hurriedly slides the plate back onto the table top, but steals another warm sugar cookie in the process. McCoy chases him to the door.
After he has successfully organized his baker’s tools in a bag, McCoy runs into two scuttling, excited cadets just outside of the community kitchen. They pay him no mind as they disappear inside. He stops dead-still in the middle of the hallway when he hears the chorus of “Holy shit, cookies!”
Yes, maybe a little baking this season will be good for everyone’s spirits.
News spreads quickly.
The Good Fairy of Cookies and Cakes visits Dorm Hall Six almost nightly.
Leonard learns that he has to be particularly careful on some days. A line of cadets seems to form down the hallway approaching dawn. No one really cares who is doing the baking, only that there is baking and the end results are not replicated. It’s a bonus that the taste is as good as the smell.
On Tuesdays, Leonard bakes breakfast sweets like cinnamon rolls or whole-grain, blueberry muffins. (Why not make healthy treats? It’s not like the idiots are going to watch out from themselves.) Thursdays are pie-days and Saturdays are for cakes. The rest of the time he bakes whimsically.
Apple pie is almost as big a hit as dark chocolate pecan pie – and one is as easy to make as the other, so long as Leonard stops himself from cutting out pretty shapes to decorate the top crust. (But it’s awful boring, that plain top crust.)
A cadet even dares to leave a note attached to the refrigerator. It starts “Dear Anon-Master Chef…” Kids know nothing these days. A chef is NOT a baker. “…I <3 your chocolate chip cookies but there was only one left when I got here. Can you make more? PLEASE? PS: I live in the next dorm. …Your love, she spreads." There is a cute smiley face as a signature. Leonard snickers to himself and doubles his batches. By the second week, someone has set up a comment box which McCoy takes the time to secretly peruse. Most of the comments are simple like good pie; pecans, I want pecans; or U make lunch too? Fleet food sux in barely legible scribbles. There are also gifts of free condoms and bubblegum galore.
This mysterious Good Fairy may have to hire some help at this rate of demand.
The baking frenzy keeps Leonard from roommate interaction on a regular basis. He thinks along the lines of “if you don’t see the problem, it doesn’t exist.” That never stops McCoy from moping over a brownie or two and wondering what Jim is doing right at that moment. (It’s pathetic, he knows.)
These days, when they happen to pass each other, Jim has stopped saying, “Where are you going?” and started demanding “What the Hell, Bones? Why can’t I come along?”
He often suspects that Kirk has attempted to tail him once or twice, but McCoy has taken the proper precautions to become lost in the Friday night crowd and backtrack to the dorm hall. He also “accidentally” loses his comm unit just in case Jim has rewired it into a damn tracking device.
Leonard’s paranoia knows no bounds.
Jim’s persistence is a bottomless pit of aggravation.
Leonard is still in the dorm room one afternoon (preparing to leave and silently counting how may scoops of whole wheat flour can be substituted for white) when Jim practically falls through the door.
Kirk is staring open-mouthed and waving around an object. “Do you know what this is?”
Leonard’s nose has already identified it. “Peach fritter.”
Kirk stares at the back of his head; the small hairs on Leonard’s neck stand on end. “Bones…”
“Yes, Jim?” He makes an effort to sound absent-minded, though his heart is pounding.
“Someone made peach fritters.”
Leonard turns to look at his roommate. “Yeah. So?”
“Someone in this dorm made peach fritters.”
“How do you know it was someone in our hall? You think any of these idiots can cook?” A deliberate substitute of wording. He’s rather proud of himself.
“‘Cause the kitchen only clears our student cards.”
Oh. OH SHIT. McCoy hadn’t thought twice about the swiping of his card to get into the kitchen. “Maybe it’s a girlfriend of some moron cadet. Really, it could be anyone!” Fuck, did he just laugh like a nervous maniac?
Jim throws himself onto his bed, takes a bite of the remains of the crumbling fritter in his hand and moans in delight. “I don’t care if it was a Klingon, dude. These—are—so—good. I’m in love!”
“You’re in love with a Klingon?” Leonard clarifies with a raised eyebrow.
Jim crams the last of the treat into his mouth. “Omph-oorg-er-oh.”
McCoy grabs the nearest pillow and slams it down on Jim’s head. Kirk gives a muffled yell and sits up choking. Leonard has no pity. “Don’t talk with your mouth full, kid.”
Jim gives one last cough. “B-Bones… Fuck, I almost died!”
“Jim, not all of us learned our table manners at a petting zoo. Hell, even my daughter had more finesse at the age of three!”
Kirk blinks. “What’s the matter with you?”
Leonard’s eyebrows come down. “What do you mean?”
“I mean,” Jim shifts into a cross-legged position, “you’re more crabby than usual. And you’re never around.”
“You’re the one who’s never around, Jim! Holiday sex to be had, and all that.”
Kirk doesn’t acknowledge those words with his usual big grin and bloated ego. In fact, if Leonard had to give Jim’s expression a name, it would be pained and… disappointed. “I am around, Bones,” says his roommate. “I’ve been here at 2100, waiting for you.”
Leonard hopes that he can save face. “Late shifts.”
Jim’s eyes harden. “Bullshit.”
Now Leonard knows that he is in trouble. “Jim…”
“I checked, Bones. If you… if you’ve got other plans—” Without me goes unsaid. “—then, okay. But don’t lie to me.”
“Jim, I’m sorry.” And he is, very sorry to hurt his friend that way. “I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t realize that you, uh, wanted to spend time together.”
Leonard narrows his eyes.
Kirk frowns and picks at a loose thread.
That pisses McCoy off. “Damn it, Jim, you can’t be mad at me for blowing you off if you don’t admit to wanting to hang out!” Leonard fairly shouts.
Jim is off of his bed and across the room before Leonard can take a second breath to keep shouting. McCoy does the only thing that makes sense in that moment. He leaps the distance between them, latches onto Kirk’s collar and knocks him into a wall.
Then, before Jim can right himself (mouth open in surprise), McCoy has flung open his closet, grabbed the nearest canister and shoved it into Kirk’s hands. Jim looks startled.
“For Christ’s sake, don’t drop it, you idiot,” he warns.
Jim tilts the canister. “Bones, what is it?”
Leonard shifts his weight, suddenly unable to voice an answer. Finally he manages to say (rather gruffly), “Just open it, Jim.”
Kirk does so. He stares at its contents, frowns, and then sticks a finger in it. Leonard snatches the canister back with a hiss.
Kirk sticks his finger in his mouth, makes a noise. Leonard takes two steps back.
“Bones,” Jim says in a strange voice, “is that flour?”
“Why is there flour next to your shoes?”
“My shoes are in the bottom of the closet,” mumbles the red-faced man.
Jim considers him, then opens Leonard’s closet and peers inside. McCoy can hear him moving items. There is a surprised muttering; then Jim’s head pops around the corner of the closet door. “Bones… Is there something you aren’t telling me?”
It’s that earnest blue-eyed look that cracks McCoy. His shoulders slump. “Peach fritters.”
“I made ’em.”
Leonard sits down on the end of his bed, still clutching the open canister of flour. He and Jim just stare at each other.
“You, Bones?” is the soft question that breaks the silence.
He leans over, the canister pressing into his stomach. “Yeah.” He adds stupidly, “Used fresh peaches too.”
Somehow that snaps the spell. Kirk grins. “You bake!”
Whatever Leonard’s expression is, he knows that it has just turned dark. The “Of course I bake!” sounds very defensive.
“No, no!” insists his now-bouncy roommate. “That’s not bad. YOU BAKE.” Kirk’s eyes get larger by the second. “Can you make gingerbread men?”
“Bones,” the blond-haired fool insists, “’tis the season!”
He’s towering over Kirk in a heartbeat. “Are you laughin’ at me?”
“Hey no, man—”
“Because I don’t think it’s damned funny!” With that, Leonard chucks a handful of flour into Jim’s face. Kirk’s stupefied moment of astonishment makes McCoy’s day a whole lot better. He surveys his handiwork—the (literally) white-faced Jim—and smirks.
Jim, of course, doesn’t react like a normal person; the kid shakes his head like a dog and sends up a cloud of flour that makes them both choke upon inhalation. McCoy is so distracted by the scratchiness in his throat that he is unable to prevent Jim from snatching the canister of flour.
McCoy is liberally doused, courtesy of Mr. Kirk.
The ensuing battle is rather fun. Leonard doesn’t spare a thought on why they had argued in the first place.
Were anyone to call Leonard a little Suzy-homemaker, he’d deck them with his stirring spatula. There is one such devil-dare, of course; Jim saunters into the kitchen late one evening, starts licking the homemade icing off of a spoon, and then has the audacity to insinuate certain things about Doctor McCoy.
Leonard snatches away the bowl of icing (disgusted), finishes decorating the red-velvet cake, packs it up and marches out of the kitchen with it. Jim is dumbfounded because this is the first time that Leonard hasn’t just left whatever concoction he made in the community kitchen for starved, holiday-depressed cadets.
“Bones, the cake… what are you doing?” Is it McCoy’s imagination or does Jim sound upset?
“Takin’ it to people who aren’t boneheads like you.” He adds for good measure, “People who’ll appreciate the hard work of slaving in a kitchen.”
Jim whimpers. “I’m sorry!” He jumps in front of McCoy, and Leonard almost drops his bundle in surprise. “Please, can’t we… talk about this?”
Leonard raises an eyebrow. “I’m listening.”
Kirk stares at McCoy.
“But I won’t be listening forever” is the sharp reminder.
“…Do you want, er, payment?”
“Payment? Payment?” Surely he did not hear that correctly. What in the name of Hell is Jim thinking? “I’ve been scraping together food for our damn dorm for weeks, and now you ask about payment! You know what, kid?” He shoves the container of cake into Jim’s arms. “Take it.”
Leonard ignores Jim’s shout of “Bones! Wait!”
Stupid infant. Stupid, clueless infant.
He is resolute to ignore Jim, that is until Kirk grabs his arm and halts his stomping progression across the campus. For some reason, he lets Jim lead him over to a low wall. Kirk sets down the cake and pushes McCoy into a sitting position beside it. McCoy fixes his grumpiest you-piss-me-off look on his face.
Jim isn’t buying it. Kirk folds his arms and asks, “Why do you do it, Bones?”
“Why does it matter?”
“I’m not saying that it does. But let’s pretend. So why?”
“I don’t know.” Yes, he does.
“You spend every night in the kitchen because you don’t know?” Kirk’s look clearly says try again.
“It’s Christmas,” he answers lamely.
“So you only bake at Christmas? Tell me what you made last year.”
He shrugs. “Jo likes florentines.”
Jim is momentarily distracted. “What’s a florentine?”
“You know…” If Leonard’s hand wave is meant for clarification, it does a poor job. “Kinda like lace cookies, only ya make ’em with almonds, honey and sugar, ‘n cut ’em once they’ve baked, then make a sandwich with melted chocolate…” He trails off because Jim looks dazed. McCoy snaps his fingers in front of Kirk’s face. “Have you been drinking?”
“Um, no. Where was I?”
“You were asking dumb questions,” McCoy supplies dryly.
“Oh. So, how many times did you bake last Christmas?”
“Jim, this is stupid.”
Kirk leans over him, planting hands on either side of McCoy’s hips. Leonard has to lean far back in order to exit kissing range. His hands have death-grips on the stone wall.
“Bones,” says Jim in a low voice. “How many?”
“Three,” he breathes.
Jim lowers his eyelids to half-slit, and Leonard thinks he is going to do something foolish—like confess or fall backwards off of the wall.
He pretty much does that last thing, rather ungracefully. A yelp, a quick desperate snag of the front of Jim’s shirt, and the two men pitch over in a tangle of limbs.
Leonard realizes much too late that his hands have grabbed onto places that are friendship-inappropriate. When he makes a strangled noise and immediately rolls to his left in embarrassment, there is a squelch under his side and elbow.
Jim somehow relaxes into a sprawl that looks natural and grins. McCoy watches as Kirk’s finger snakes out, swipes Leonard’s sweater and returns with a dollop of red and white. “Bones, I’d say you look good in cake.” Leonard cannot look away when Jim licks the cake off of his finger. “Mmm… Taste good too.”
“Okay, Jim,” he says after one or two tries, “that’s enough.”
“Enough what?” That innocent look is wickedly deceptive on James T. Kirk.
Leonard pushes himself up from the ground, eyeing his ruined attire with dismay. He sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose before retrieving the overturned container which, sadly, is empty of a fine dessert.
“Jim!” he barks. “For God’s sake, man, don’t eat that!”
Jim pouts and drops a piece of cake back to the grass. “Will you make another one?”
“Yes. Yes, fine.” He sits down on the wall, suddenly too tired to stand.
Jim settles beside him. For a moment, neither speaks. Then Kirk turns to him. “Why?” he wants to know. Leonard understands the question, but Jim adds, “Is it because you miss Jo?”
“Partly,” he answers. “It’s… something we do together. But—shit, I don’t know, Jim. It just… takes me away for a little while.”
Jim squeezes his shoulder. “Everyone needs a break. Especially you. You work too hard.”
“That’s not what I meant, kid.”
Jim doesn’t say anything, simply waits.
“In my family, it’s tradition that you bake to show you care for someone. On holidays, the whole family’d help make something—whether it was just setting out the ingredients or watching the oven. And when it was done, we all shared. I guess—” He looks over at Jim, meets steady blue eyes. “—I just can’t think of any other way to express how I feel.”
“You can always use words, Bones,” Jim tells him gently.
“What if they don’t want to be heard?”
“Whoever it is—whoever you care about,” Kirk says seriously, “would be an idiot not to listen.”
He sucks in a breath. “Thanks.”
His roommate smiles. “You’re welcome.” That smile blossoms into a wide grin. “You have cake in your hair.”
Leonard slowly runs his hand along the inside of the container, scooping up icing and cake bits. Then he just as slowly wipes his hand on Jim’s head. “Now you do too.”
Jim bursts out laughing.
Jim begins to spend more time watching McCoy bake over the following week. Leonard catches a strange, unreadable expression on Kirk’s face once or twice. He hesitates in those moments but decides against asking Jim what’s on his mind. If the kid wants to share his thoughts, he will, given time.
On a Thursday, McCoy sighs and starts vigorously stirring a bowl of dough. Jim is sitting at the table; McCoy has his back to him.
He grunts, which means you may proceed.
“What are you making today?”
“Chocolate chip cookies.”
“I thought that you said Thursday was pie day.”
“Jim,” Leonard thunks down the bowl on the counter and grumps, “I just don’t have the money for pie ingredients today. We’re going simple.”
There is a brief silence.
“What do you need?”
McCoy pauses. “Well, I’ve got the basics, but I need a filling. It ain’t a pie if it’s empty, kid.”
“We can go shopping!”
He turns around. Jim is already out of his seat and grinning. “I can’t take you to a grocery store.”
Jim narrows his eyes. “Why not?”
“Because you’re worse than a rambunctious toddler. And I forgot to buy a leash,” he says dryly.
Kirk seems to believe Leonard’s words are a challenge. “We’re going. I’ll pay.”
He shrugs in response. “Fine.”
So they do. McCoy is in the fruit and vegetable section, trying to decide what seasonal fruit he wants to use (apple pie was last week, rhubarb the week before) when Jim comes wandering back to his side. The man shoves a can into their basket.
Leonard pulls it back out and makes a face. “This is shit, Jim!”
“It says ‘pie filling,'” reads Kirk over his shoulder.
Leonard has to clear his throat because Jim’s aftershave has a nice, enticing smell. “Hell no. I don’t use the canned stuff.”
“But it’s pumpkin.”
“You want pumpkin, you buy a pumpkin. See? Right over there—the big round orange things.”
Watching Jim roll his eyes reminds McCoy of Joanna. He resists the urge to go into parent mode. McCoy tells him to return the can where he got it from and to NOT come back with something else.
So Jim wants pumpkin pie. Hmm… Leonard has no problem with that, so long as he can convince Jim to cut up, scoop and process the pumpkin.
That’s definitely not going to happen, he knows.
So… Ah, yes. Good Lord yes.
Jim returns—thankfully empty-handed—and McCoy says, “Here’s what we’re going to do. Go get some milk. You saw at least two eggs in the frig, right?” He doesn’t wait for an answer because he already knows that there are eggs in the refrigerator. “Then grab some heavy whipping cream And Jim? If you come back with half-and-half instead, I will kill you.”
Once Jim is sent off on the errand, McCoy gathers a few choice sweet potatoes and a bag of pecans.
The cashier, who is eyeing Jim like a piece of candy, glances over their items and exclaims, “Oo, sweet potato casserole?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Leonard confirms.
“My grandmother used to make this for every holiday.”
They smile at each other. Jim, unfortunately, wants to know, “What’s sweet potato casserole?”
“Oh you poor thing,” says the cashier at the same time that Leonard remarks, “Jim, you’re one deprived son of a bitch.”
He looks between the two and finally shrugs. McCoy doesn’t protest when Jim pays for the groceries. Kirk is practically stepping on his heels to campus.
“Do I like sweet potatoes, Bones?”
“How should I know that? Have you ever eaten them?”
Jim squints one eye. “No?”
Leonard stops, stares at Jim who just looks pleased with himself. They go back to the kitchen in companionable silence.
The casserole comes out of the oven, and Jim has somehow locked the kitchen door to prevent the entrance of starving cadets who are following a savory smell. Kirk has a look of anticipation on his face to match McCoy’s. Leonard serves them each a nice helping of hot fresh casserole; Jim gets more topping because the kid has a sweet tooth, one that will most likely affect his figure in the future.
Leonard’s first bite takes him back to family holidays in Georgia when he was young.
Jim is saying, “Hey, this is pretty good—”
McCoy just shovels another spoonful into his own mouth, enjoying the sweetness and the crunch of pecans. He swallows and says, “My grandmother taught my mother—though she was only a McCoy by marriage—and when Grammy died, Mom made it for us every Thanksgiving instead.”
The “Bones…” is sort of choked.
“I learned from the best, Jim.”
It’s the way his name is gasped that causes McCoy to glance up. Jim’s face is not a pretty color. Leonard drops his spoon with “Shit!“
Fucking Hell! Of course Jim would be allergic to sweet potatoes!
His medikit is in their room. Leonard jumps into action, manages to catch Kirk who slides off of his chair with a strangled, wheezing noise.
“Hold on, Jim!” he nearly shouts.
Jim nods, despite fighting panic at not being able to breathe. His faith in Leonard never fails to astound the doctor. After propping Jim up against a table leg, Leonard unlocks the door on his second attempt. The door opens to reveal a startled cadet who begins “Is there any left—”
“You!” McCoy grabs the young man and pitches him towards Jim. “Watch him! If he stops breathing, try to breathe for him.”
“What?” squeaks the suddenly scared cadet.
“Do it!” Leonard uses the nearest wall comm to send a medical emergency alert. Then he runs up the stairwell, no thought for how winded he is. All his mind does is count down the seconds until Jim’s respiratory distress kills him.
Please God, just let Jim make it this time. Please.
When he gets back to the kitchen, the cadet is white-faced and in full panic mode. Jim is passed out cold. Leonard stabs him with a prepped hypospray, ignoring the way his hands want to shake.
The pitiful, strained breathing takes much too long to ease back into a more normal pattern. (It takes seconds.) Leonard is already running his personal tricorder over the limp body, gathering and assessing stats. The medical team arrives then. He helps a uniformed medical tech gently roll Jim onto a transport gurney.
Leonard identifies himself and issues orders. When he climbs into the vehicle beside the gurney, already charting a treatment, his mind is carefully blank of all else except Jim’s past medical history (the parts he is privy to).
He does not think of what he is going to say to the kid once Jim wakes up.
When Kirk starts coming around, Leonard is talking with two nurses on the floor.
“Bones?” It’s groggy and whispered, but Leonard hears it.
Both nurses look from Leonard to Jim, smile and leave.
“Hey,” McCoy says softly. At Jim’s mumbling, he replies, “Turns out you’re allergic to sweet potatoes.”
I’m sorry, Jim, he thinks. So sorry.
What Jim sees in his face prompts Kirk to reach out and take his hand. Leonard squeezes back.
“Don’t worry. You’ll be out of here in another hour or two.”
Jim nods and tries to sit up. His voice is scratchy when he speaks. “Sorry, Bones.”
Leonard sighs. “No. I’m sorry, Jim.” He whispers then, “I’m your physician as well as your friend. It’s my job to keep you alive, not kill you.”
God, talk about guilt. He is practically wallowing it, has been for the last hour or so. Leonard had been genuinely happy to bake something that Kirk hadn’t tasted before, to share a treat that was special to his own heart. Instead, the price for his foolishness could have been too steep. It is an accident, yes, but accidents caused by carelessness have little excuse. McCoy is a doctor; he truly understands—and has seen—the consequences of carelessness.
“Bones, it’s not your fault. You know me, I’m a special guy with special talents.”
Leonard snorts, and Jim smiles. McCoy pats Jim’s sheet-covered thigh. “I’ve got to see about restocking my medikit.” At Jim’s look, he adds, “Don’t worry. I won’t leave you alone in the big, bad hospital. We’ll go home together.”
Those bright blue eyes (Lord, Leonard had been desperately afraid they’d be closed forever) are staring at him, through him. Jim looks smug. “Do I get a treat if I’m good?”
Leonard raises an eyebrow, grabs a hypospray from a tray, and hits Jim in the neck before the man can react. “Maybe,” he answers.
As it turns out, Jim does get a treat. Whether that is a result of Leonard’s still-nagging guilt, his soft heart, or the simple fact that he wants to make Jim happy, no one will be quite sure.
Leonard reluctantly enters the dorm kitchen after three days of avoidance. The first thing he sees is an empty casserole dish, cleaned and tucked neatly to the back of the counter. There is a note attached to it.
It reads, The casserole was good. The word good is underlined two times.
He automatically thinks of Jim, but decides that the kid isn’t crazy enough to express his appreciation for a dish that landed him in a hospital visit. It was probably someone in the dorm who didn’t care why the sweet potato casserole had been abandoned, only that there was the opportunity to steal the rest of it.
Leonard suspects that he might not make this particular dish for a while. At least, not anywhere near Jim.
He opens his bag and pulls out the proper ingredients. The urge to bake is waning now, but there is one last treat to make—a combination of love, hope, and wistfulness.
He goes to work.
“Bones, where have you been? We’ll be late for the party.”
Leonard enters their dorm room and hesitates. Jim is shirtless with a towel thrown over his shoulders; that short blond hair is wet and just freshly towel-scrubbed.
Kirk keeps talking. “Galia’s got some Romulan ale. I know you won’t want to pass that up. We should—”
Jim stops digging through a pile of clothes and turns around. His gaze drops to the covered plate in Leonard’s hands. “Bones?”
“Here.” McCoy thrusts his burden forward.
Kirk takes it and carefully peels back the foil. He looks back up at McCoy. “Bones, what is this?”
Leonard takes a deep breath. “They’re florentines.”
Jim switches the gift to one hand and reaches for a florentine with the other. When Jim picks one up, already mindful of its delicacy, Leonard tells him that they are safe to eat. He is certain, as he had painstakingly listed out all the ingredients, then the ingredients of the ingredients, and cross-checked everything with Jim’s known list of allergies.
The look on Jim’s face as he chews makes Leonard’s heart go thump-thump.
“This is great,” Jim tells him. Leonard takes the plate back so that Jim can focus on enjoying the second florentine. “Man, these are sooo good.”
“I’m glad you like ’em.” McCoy lays the plate onto Jim’s desk. “Don’t spoil your appetite for the party.” He fetches his coat from the back of a chair and slips it on. When Leonard faces Jim again, Kirk has not moved or attempted to find his shirt.
“Aren’t we going?” Leonard asks.
“Bones, you made me florentines.”
“Yesss,” drawls the man.
Jim steps up to him, looks at him earnestly. “Why?”
Leonard doesn’t speak right away. When he does, the answer is soft. Simple. “I wanted to, Jim.”
Jim lets out a breath that Leonard did not realize the kid had been holding. He feels awkward, wonders if he is disappointing Jim in some way.
Then Jim blurts out, “Who are you in love with?”
Leonard’s body is a traitor; he can feel the blush on his face. His response is muttered so low that Jim leans in.
“Say that again, Bones.”
“Does it matter?”
Jim settles a hand on the side of Leonard’s face. Leonard thinks that his heart is going to break his ribs, the way it’s slamming around in his chest. “Who, Bones?”
He drops his eyes for a moment, gathers some courage before meeting Kirk’s eyes. “I made you florentines.”
Jim nods knowingly.
“Jim, I’m not good with words.”
That hand is stroking a thumb along his cheek. “Then don’t use words, Bones. Show me.”
It is a leap of faith, but the trust in Jim’s eyes tells Leonard what he needs to know. So Leonard McCoy tries his best. He closes the distance between them and kisses the corner of Jim’s mouth.
Jim doesn’t let him go far; his friend, roommate, and something more places a warm hand on the back of Leonard’s neck to halt his retreat.
“Thank you,” Jim whispers against his mouth. “Now let me show you.”
It is a joint decision to forgo the campus Christmas party. They—Jim and Leonard—enjoy a private celebration instead. At some point, Jim confesses, “I like your baking quirk, Bones. Does this mean that I’ll always get a cookie after we have sex?”
Leonard’s answer is part exasperation and part mischief.
2 cups sliced almonds, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons honey
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (or a combination of both)
Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir the almonds, flour and zest in a medium bowl. Stir the sugar, butter, cream, and honey in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the almond mixture. Cool the batter for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using 2 teaspoons of batter for each cookie, spoon 8 mounds of the batter onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly apart (the cookies will spread). Flatten the batter slightly with your finger.
Bake the cookies until they are lacy and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Gently slide the parchment paper with the cookies onto a rack and cool completely. Place in freezer if necessary to help them set. This is important as the cookies will be very thin. Remove them carefully to paper towels. Repeat with the remaining batter, lining the baking sheets with clean parchment for each batch. (The cookies can be made up to this point 2 months ahead. Cool completely, then store airtight in the freezer. Defrost before continuing.)
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Spread the melted chocolate over the bottom of 1 cookie. Top with a second cookie, bottom side down, pressing lightly to adhere. Repeat with the remaining cookies and chocolate.
Allow cookies to set in refrigerator to harden the chocolate.
Recipe courtesy of Food Network’s Giada and tweeked by klmeri.
- A Series of Laughs (10/10) – from February 25, 2011