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Part One

The lesson in arms continues after that, but it’s thankfully less fraught. Jim is a good teacher, Leonard finds: patient, calmly correcting with a word here or a gentle touch there. They play a couple of sparring bouts with wooden dummy-knives at the end, and though Leonard is far from a natural at it, he thinks he makes a respectable showing.

“You’re not bad,” Jim comments when they’re done, following his thoughts in that eerily accurate way of his. “Neither of us could last against a real Cassiline, but you’re faster than I was when I first started.”

“When was that?” Leonard is busy unlacing the vembraces, so he’s not watching Jim’s face when he answers.

“Oh, twelve, I think,” he says uncertainly. “Maybe thirteen.” He sits down next to Leonard, staring off into the distance again. “I’d been with Pike a few months. Nyota and Spock had already been here for a few years. I was still learning the way of things.” He looks at him again, with those light blue eyes. “You know I’m not D’Angeline, right?”

Leonard stares at him. “I think you’re D’Angeline in all the ways that matter, Jim,” he says gently.

Jim is dubious. “How d’you figure?”

Leonard can’t help but snort with laughter. “You saved the damn country. It’s a helluva start. And Jim, who are you kidding?” he continues when Jim looks dubious. “Have you looked at yourself in the mirror? Ever? Oh, come on,” he growls as the other man still looks doubtful, and takes him by the hand, leading him to his bedroom.

There’s a tall mirror there, and he places Jim squarely in front of it, hands on his shoulders. “You are D’Angeline to your core, Jim. The blood of the angels flows in your veins as much as it does in mine—Hell, maybe even more so.” He pauses, taking in that light, sea-blue gaze of Jim’s again. “You could be a scion of Azza, with eyes like that.”

“I grew up in Tiberium,” Jim says then, so low that Leonard can barely hear it. Then his lips thin, and his body stiffens.

“It doesn’t matter where you grew up, Jim. Hell, it doesn’t matter who you are, not really,” Leonard says gently. He carefully puts his arms around the other man, aware that Jim might shrug him off any second. “All that matters is who you want to be.” Jim doesn’t move, so Leonard dares to push a little farther. “Didn’t Pike teach you that?”

Jim doesn’t answer.

~

Pavel has run a bath—Jim’s habit after a workout, apparently.

The tub is large, carved from marble the color of salmon, upraised on a dais with two steps leading up to it. There are faucets for running water—a Tiberian adaptation, Leonard has heard of them—but it has already been filled. The water steams ever so slightly in the confines of the bathing room, and the surface of it is covered in rose petals. Their fragrance perfumes the air with a heavy, sensual scent like seduction. He’s surprised at it, somehow: it doesn’t seem Jim’s style, not from what he’s seen thus far.

Jim says nothing, however, just strips wordlessly. He sinks into the tub with a sigh, tilting his head back. His eyes are closed, his forehead furrowed. The expression is one Leonard most often sees on patrons who have not slept well, or who suffer from headaches. Leonard makes a mental note to make the other man a tea if he isn’t relaxed by the end of the bath.

He spies a nearby sponge, dips it into the water, and then runs it over Jim’s still dry shoulders. Jim shivers at his touch, though the water is hot. He opens his eyes, grasping Leonard’s arm gently. That intense blue gaze again: “Get in here, Bones.”

“Why do you keep calling me that?” Leonard asks as he slips off his tunic, followed by his breeches and boots. He steps into the water gingerly—it’s far hotter than he is used to when he’s bathing himself, but after a moment he acclimates and sits down opposite Jim.

The other man nudges at Leonard’s leg with his foot. “I told you. You turn my bones to water, Bones.” He waggles his eyebrows playfully, but that strained expression is still there under the surface.

“Mmm. C’mere, you,” Leonard says, holding one arm open invitingly. Jim obediently shifts, water sloshing over the edge of the tub as he moves to Leonard’s side.

Leonard pulls him close, sinking further down into the warm water which envelopes them like a blanket. Jim half floats, half lies directly over him, and Leonard loops a foot over one of Jim’s ankles, anchoring him in place.

“Bones,” Jim murmurs. His eyes are half-lidded, his head moving closer to Leonard’s in awkward, hesitating little jerks—like he wants to kiss the other man, but he’s somehow afraid to for some reason. Heresy? The word pops into his brain once more, and Leonard’s worried because if that’s what the problem is, he must be very careful now, when he’s won this much intimacy from the other man.

So he waits patiently, waits for Jim to come to him. Lips parted, breath held; his own pulse loud in his ears because he wants Jim, wants him with all the blessing of Naamah and Elua both…

“Bones,” Jim mutters again, and then his mouth is sliding against Leonard’s own. The kiss is tender at first, gentle and questioning, and then the tenor of it changes and heats. Something flutters in Leonard’s stomach again, like the beating of a dove’s wings, and Naamah’s grace descends with an assurance he has never known.

He runs his hands over Jim’s back, down to the upper curves of his buttocks. He presses his thighs upward, so the tip of his burgeoning erection brushes against Jim’s own.

“I want you, Jim,” he mutters in the other man’s ear. “Please, for Naamah’s sake—“

Jim is still then, caught and unsure, but then he nods. “Yes, Bones. Yes.” The words are quiet, barely more than a whisper, but they are there. “I want—need—“ He breaks off, but moves their bodies so that his erection bobs against the cleft of Leonard’s ass.

“I know,” Leonard says. He pushes downwards so that Jim’s cock rubs against him more fully, providing delicious friction. “I want you to. Please, Jim.”

Jim nods, breathing hard. He pulls back for a moment, reaching down to the side of the tub and pulling out a small bottle of oil. He removes the stopper, pouring a generous amount into his palms as he sits up. His erection bobs against his stomach, and he massages the oil into it firmly as he eyes Leonard with blue intent.

Leonard quivers inwardly at that glance. He hasn’t done this in so long—but he wants it, wants Jim with a desire and an affection he’s never known before. He exhales, spreading his legs and tilting up slightly as Jim pours more oil into his hands and then approaches him. Jim’s oily fingers slide into his cleft, toying with the ring of muscle there, dancing around it tauntingly before gently insinuating a single finger.

“Oh Blessed Elua!” Leonard’s words are as much a prayer of thanksgiving as they are an exclamation of pleasure. Jim’s lips quirk upwards in amusement, and he pauses in his deft, pleasurable invasion of Leonard’s body.

“Trust me, I’m not God,” Jim says with an impish grin, “but I’ll do my damnedest to make you think I am.” He gently pushes his finger in up to the third knuckle, and then crooks it, seeking for—

“Jim!” Leonard sees stars for a second, he swears. His whole body almost lifts out of the tub, water splashing everywhere.

“Shhh,” Jim murmurs. “I’ve got you.” A second finger joins the first, moving inside him experimentally, and Leonard moans with the pleasure of it. “You like that, huh?”

“Dammit, Jim!” Leonard grates out. “Stop playing with me. I need you, now!”

Jim chuckles, but he removes his fingers, and then playfully grasps the fat head of his cock. “You want this?”

“Dammit, Jim!” Leonard feels empty, is unbelievably aware of the warm water circulating around his stretched hole and ass. He eyes Jim’s cock, thinks how good it would feel to have that in him, how damn close he is to begging to be fucked, fucked hard— “You know what I need!”

“Say it, Bones.” Jim is taunting him now. Leonard would be infuriated if it were anyone but him, but right now he’s so relieved that Jim is doing this with him, at least, that he’d do anything the other man asked of him. Anything.

“I want you to fuck me, Jim,” he says clearly. “I want you to fuck my ass with your cock, I want you to fuck me until you come, I want to feel it in my ass, how much you like fucking me—“ He breaks off, because Jim is toying with himself to his words, and for one horrible moment he thinks he’s not going to get what he craves, but then, no, Jim is just preparing himself, taking care, and now he’s lifting one of Leonard’s legs up over his shoulder—

Leonard braces himself, pressing his hands against the side of the tub for purchase so that he can stay in place as Jim enters him. Rose petals adhere to his stomach, water sloshing against the sides of the bath (Naamah! but a third of it must be all over the floor now) as they move together, Jim going slowly, so damn slow! And then he’s finally seated, and Leonard can feel the other man’s balls pressing against his own flesh, feel the hard outlines of Jim within his own skin.

“I’m not going to last long, Bones,” Jim warns. He’s panting a little, face red from heat and desire and the exertion of being careful. “Just so you know.”

“I don’t care,” Leonard growls back. “Now shut up and fuck me like you mean it!”

Jim laughs at that, and then he’s moving, and it really is quick, but it’s also the best damn thing Leonard has felt in—ever, maybe.

The first strokes are careful and slow. “Fuck, you’re tight, Bones,” Jim says. “Have you been waiting for me, all this time?”

“Yes—you—damn—fool,” Leonard answers, because it’s true: on some level, he has been waiting for Jim Kirk all his life. It doesn’t make sense, but that’s such a small thing in comparison to a life spent in indentured servitude, of prayers and offerings given to gods and angels who may or may not listen.

That’s when Jim finds his sweet spot. Leonard keens a wordless cry, and Jim moves to keep hitting him just right, just there, and all too soon they call out together as they come, Jim filling Leonard with his seed, Leonard’s own mixed in with the waters and flowers around them.

They are both breathing hard, panting really, afterwards. Jim’s body is trembling against his with the aftershocks of pleasure. He waits until the quivering stops to remove himself from Leonard, and again the warm—well, lukewarm, now—water swirls around his emptiness. They lie next to each other in the cooling bath, surveying the havoc they have wrought: the floor around them is covered in water and petals.

“Pavel’s going to kill me,” Jim mutters.

Leonard draws him close again. “I very much doubt that,” he says. He kisses a kiss to Jim’s brow. The other man is glowing slightly, replete with satisfaction.

“Mmm,” he says. Another grin spreads over his face. “I think we need a bath after our bath. What do you think?”

~

That night they sit outside, watching the stars. They lie on their backs, shoulders touching companionably.

Jim points upwards. “That’s the North Star. We used to say you could always find your home by it.”

Leonard turns to look at Jim. Pavel and Scotty had arranged a couple of lamps out here, so he can see the other man clearly. Light flickers over his face, which at the moment is calm and content. “And did you?”

“Yeah,” Jim says slowly. “More than once.”

They lapse into quiet again.

“I’m glad you’re home, Jim,” Leonard says quietly. He means it, too, thinking of de Mornay’s “Exile’s Lament.” “No one should ever be kept from their home. Not if they want to go back.”

“Do you want to go back to Balm House?” Jim asks, to his surprise.

“It’s—it’s home,” Leonard says slowly. “I suppose. I have a friend there, and it’s safe—but it’s safe because it’s what I know.” He grimaces. “It doesn’t matter.”

“Of course it matters, Bones,” Jim says. He sits up, looking at him directly. “Where would you go if you could? Tell me.”

“Um.” Leonard isn’t sure how to answer, because he’s always kept thoughts like these to himself. “I’d like a place I wouldn’t have to share with a dozen other people. Able to come and go as I like. I’d—I’m interested in Yeshuite medicine, but I don’t know if they’d let me study with them. Servant of Naamah, and all,” he adds with a shrug.

“I know a guy,” Jim says immediately. “He’d be willing, I’m sure. I could talk to him—“ He breaks off. “You’d have to be free, though.”

Leonard shrugs. “Story of my life.”

Jim rolls over then, straddling him firmly. “Mine, too,” he says, and kisses him gently.

~

They head back to Jim’s bedroom shortly afterwards. Something seems to have thawed within the younger man, and once they are past the closed door he presses Leonard up against the wall. Their thighs are pressed together, both of them half-ready. “Would you be here if you weren’t a Servant?” Jim demands, his gaze half-lidded and curious.

“What do you think?” Leonard asks. He thrusts his hips forward, so that their bulges rub against one another. “In some other world, would we have met like we did here? I don’t know. But I do know, Jim Kirk nó Pike, that wherever we would find ourselves, I think I’d be with you if I could.” Something flutters in the back of his mind as he says the words, and he’s not sure what it is, only know that it’s true. Jim’s eyes are wide and astonished, and Leonard knows that whatever he just experienced, Jim felt it, too.

“I’m with you,” Leonard says, like the words can chase away that odd feeling—and they do. Jim groans into his mouth as he kisses him, and Leonard pulls him close, tugging at his bottom lip with his teeth. “I’m with you,” he repeats more quietly, to reassure himself as much as Jim.

Jim makes a low moan again, and pulls him down to the bed, quickly divesting him once more. Eager hands run over him, and he can feel the familiar beating wings of desire as he gives himself once more over to the other man.

“Tell me about you,” Leonard asks later. They are both sated for the moment. Jim’s skin glows with his pleasure, expression calm and relaxed, and Leonard allows himself a moment of smugness. “Are even half the things they say about you true?”

Jim snorts with surprised laughter, and Leonard can’t help but grin at the sound. “Probably. Depends on which half you’re talking about, though.”

“Well.” Leonard sits up, propping his head up on one arm. He wants to be careful about this, but—honest, too. “I heard you grew up on a Tiberian slave galley.”

Jim rolls onto his back, staring up at the ceiling as he talks. “That part’s true enough,” he says to Leonard’s surprise. “Duke Pike bought me off the pier when he saw me being whipped bloody—I’d tried to run away again, you see,” he explained. He grins a little crookedly when he sees Leonard’s look of horror. “I was ten. Chris is—was a good man. They make him out to be something mysterious or awful with that ‘Whoremaster of Spies’ name they gave him. But he loved us—all of us he adopted. Nyota and Spock. Me. We were a family, Leonard. And Lord Nero took that away from me.” His expression darkens then. “I’m glad he’s dead,” he says. “I shouldn’t feel that way, but I am.”

“You saved the kingdom, Jim,” Leonard says softly. “You’re a hero.”

“I’m not a hero.” The revulsion in the younger man’s voice makes him flinch. “I’m not even a scion of the Night Court. And I’m welcome at the palace—of course I am—but I’ve no friends there, either. Not really. I don’t belong anywhere.”

Leonard’s heart squeezes in his chest, and he feels the familiar beating of wings in his chest: Naamah’s call. He pulls the younger man to him, holds him tightly, presses kisses to his face and brow—and to his surprise, Jim lets him this time. “You belong to me, now,” he hears himself murmur, and he isn’t sure what that means, or how an adept of the Night Court who barely has the start of his marque can make a promise like that, but the words feel true. His lips touch damp skin and taste salt. Jim quivers below him, taut body relaxing when he covers it with his own. “You belong to me.”

They make love then, with a fierceness Leonard hadn’t expected but that a part of him welcomes—craves, even. Jim’s hands move across his body, taking possession of him with a firmness and a determination that might have made Leonard quail. But there’s something in it he responds to, wants, needs even.

And that’s the way it is.

~

Pavel is cheerful as he serves them breakfast in the morning. “Anyzing else I can do for you, my lords?” he asks, curls bouncing. He reminds Leonard of an eager puppy.

“No, we’re good, Pavel,” Jim says. “Thanks.” He beams at the boy, who bobs at them both, grinning, and then disappears. Delighted laughter can be heard through the doors to the kitchen, and both Jim and Leonard pause to stare in bemusement.

“Do I even want to know?” Leonard asks as he puts jam and butter on a piece of toast.

Jim smiles as he does the same. “Pavel thinks you’re doing me good, and he’s happy about it.”

Leonard feels his cheeks warm, but he doesn’t quite know how to answer. “Well, I’m glad,” he mutters.

“Me, too,” Jim says. He smiles, looking more cheerful and relaxed than Leonard has ever seen him. The blonde man feigns comfort and ease so often it’s a part of him, he realizes belatedly, but in the last two days he’s honestly begun to enjoy himself.

Because of Leonard.

Shaken, he stares at his food. Be careful, Leonard, he warns himself again. Just—be careful.

After breakfast they go out into the orchards, where Hikaru is working. “Hello,” the man greets them with a wide smile. He holds his hand out to Leonard. “We haven’t been formally introduced. I’m Hikaru Sulu, I help out on the Duke’s farm here.” They shake hands; the other man’s grip is firm and warm.

“Nice to meet you,” Leonard says politely.

“Hikaru won’t tell you this, so I’ll tell you for him,” Jim says in that casual way of his as he slaps Sulu on the back, “the man’s a genius. He’s working at crossing the apple strains, making a hybrid.”

“We won’t know for a few years yet if it’ll work,” Hikaru says, leading them to a line of seedling trees nearby, “but I’ve been examining the work of some priests in L’Agnace. I think I can reproduce it with the fruit here.”

“He will, watch him,” Jim says confidently. He slaps the man on the back again, and they leave him to his work.

The orchards and grounds of Jim’s estate are actually quite large, Leonard realizes. They walk companionably, Jim pointing out this or that landmark fondly. That was the place where Spock first taught Jim and Nyota how to play the lyre; that was the tree Jim had climbed up when he wanted to see if he could see the sea from there.

“I couldn’t, of course,” he says sheepishly, “but I’d never been so far inland, before. It didn’t make sense to me that you couldn’t see the sea from everywhere!”

Leonard laughs at that, pulling the other man close to him with affection. Jim laughs too, blue eyes bright.

They sober a little as they gaze at one another. Jim brushes a strand of hair away from Leonard’s face. The light blue eyes turn dark.

“I think you should go back to the City, Leonard,” Jim says.

Leonard stares at him, shocked to his core. First because this was the first time Jim had used his real name in days, and second because he’d thought—he’d thought—

“Why?” he blurts.

“Because,” Jim says with a grimace. “Because I’m not good for you—because being around me is bad for people I care about, okay? The people I love die, and I can’t let that happen to you. Do you see?” His voice breaks on that last word.

“Dammit, Jim.” Leonard is angry—and upset and hurt. And he also knows he’s getting close to the mystery that is Jim Kirk. “Tell me what’s going on. Tell me what happened.”

Jim shakes his head, but the words are falling out of him, as if once started they can’t stop. “When Lord Nero attacked—we weren’t expecting it. Who would have? Spock and I were practicing daggers in the courtyard, and Nyota was watching. And then Nero’s men came in, and you could tell—they would have blasphemed against her.” His words are hushed. “I would have—I couldn’t—Spock performed the terminus. Pike tried to fight them off, but there were so many—“

The rest of the story comes out in fits and starts, then: Nero had given orders that Jim was to be brought to him alive, because he had the key to what he wanted. Having grown up in Tiberium among the slave-galleys there, he knew certain things about the shipping routes or—something, Leonard can’t tell because Jim is talking really fast, and it’s the least important part of the story anyway.

“He said he would let me live if I—if I—“

Jim had consented, but it wasn’t far from rape. Bleeding and numb, he had managed to escape, managed to find shelter along the long journey home—managed to get the word of Nero’s planned invasion to Komack.

There had been battles then—intense and bloody, but successful. There had been no march of Eagles over the City of Elua, then, no Imperator demanding the D’Angelines bow before him. Terre d’Ange remained free.

“Don’t you see, Jim?” Leonard says, pulling the man to him. “None of it was your fault. Spock, Nyota, Pike—they didn’t die because of you they died because of Nero. And he’s dead now, too. You see? Nothing’s going to happen to me.”

Jim shivers in his arms, though the day was warm—hot even. Leonard feels cold, too, even as he made soothing sounds to calm the other man. “Nothing’s going to happen to me, okay, Jim? You’re safe. I’m safe. You see?” He presses kisses to Jim’s lips, face, eyelids. “We’re safe.”

He tries to reassure Jim in the best way he can, holding him tightly. Jim’s trembling eases in the warm sun, and then his hands are pulling at the laces of Leonard’s tunic, his breeches. “I need you, Bones,” he mutters. “Now.”

Leonard rather doubts that, but he doesn’t argue. He lets Jim pull him down to the ground, slipping out of his tunic as Jim does the same. They kiss hungrily, Jim’s hands running over him once more with possessive need as he tugs his breeches off.

“Roll over, Bones, I want to look at you,” Jim says in a low, dark voice, and Leonard does. Jim has been nothing but kind and gentle to him thus far, but something has changed abruptly in the last few minutes. He isn’t making love to Leonard right now, and—Leonard might not be making love to him, really. Then there is the reassuring sound of wings, once more, and Leonard calms as he gives himself over to the other man.

Jim guides him into a kneeling position, head down, ass in the air. His legs shake slightly from tension, and his own half-hard cock bobs against his bare stomach, pressed there by his thighs. Long fingers toy with his hole, and then he inhales roughly as a warm tongue circles the sphincter.

“Fuck, Jim,” he murmurs. “Ah!”

Jim deftly inserts his tongue, making a low noise in the back of his throat. Leonard can hear the tell-tale slap of skin on skin, as Jim roughly works his cock at the same time. Jim’s tongue moves in and out of his hole, nothing like the hard penetration, the claiming he intensely desires right now. It is torturous and delicious all at once, that slight friction of the warm tongue against his delicate nerves.

And then it is gone. “Bones!” Jim cries out, a strange, lost sound, and he feels wetness on the back of his legs. Hears the other man’s heavy breathing.

He rolls over, erection bobbing up hungrily, but Jim sits on the ground, half-stunned, wet marks down his cheeks. “Shh, it’s okay, Jim,” he says, pulling the other man to him. He holds onto him, carding his fingers through the thick dark blonde hair as Jim’s breathing slows.

“I love you, Bones,” Jim mutters after a time. “This is why you have to leave.”

~

They go back to the house quietly, then. It is early afternoon, yet, and as they approach Jim starts calling out orders to his servants. “Pavel! Bring Leonard’s trunk to the door, would you? Scotty, prepare the carriage!”

Both men stick their heads out of windows, looking thunderstruck. Scotty has been smoking a pipe, and it falls into the grass as he gapes. “Sir?”

“You heard me! Now!” Jim says sharply, and with that the two men hurriedly do as he bids.

“What’s going on?” Hikaru comes out from where he was working by the arbor, scrubbing sweat off of his forehead. He looks alarmed and confused.

“I’m sending Leonard back to the City,” Jim says shortly. Leonard bites the inside of his mouth, frustration and shame burning in his gut.

Hikaru gapes at the blonde man, looking back and forth between Jim and Leonard in confusion. “Why?”

Jim has his jaw set stubbornly. “It’s the only way.”

“Dammit, Jim, no it’s not!” Leonard finally blows up then. This was undoubtedly going to get him in trouble, but what else was new? He may as well be honest. “Look, I get where you’re coming from—you’ve lived through things that are unimaginable to most of us. But you’re hiding from it, and you just can’t do that. Okay?”

Jim glares at him, blue gaze dark. He says nothing.

Leonard sighs. “Look,” he says more quietly—speaking faster, too, because he can hear Pavel and Scotty coming back, and Hikaru is standing off to the side still looking confused—“I just—you should know before I go that I love you, okay? And I have faith in you, in the kind of man you are, Jim. You are good, and Elua and Naamah know that. And whatever healing you’re looking for, I hope you find it.”

Jim still says nothing, just stares at him. His mouth is tight, lips thinned with tension.

Scotty coughs behind them. “We’re, ah, ready to go, sir,” he says.

Leonard looks at Jim, who is still silent. Sighing, Leonard gently kisses his forehead in farewell. “Rest and be soothed,” he says, quoting the canon of his House.

Then he gets in the carriage, and doesn’t look back as they drive away.

~

Christine frowns when he returns that night. “You’re back early,” she says.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” he says gruffly.

“Did he—was it—?” She looks confused.

“I made him happy,” Leonard says. “That was the problem. And that’s all I’m going to say about it.”

He receives the summons from the Dowayne early in the morning, two days later. His stomach clenches, because he knows what must be coming—Elua knows he’s been through this enough times by now already. But for the first time the knowledge that he hasn’t pleased his patron burns him, because it’s Jim, and he thought--he doesn’t know what he thought. That Kirk was different, maybe.

He enters Gaila’s chambers, taking his place before her, kneeling abeyante. He doesn’t dare look up—he doesn’t want to see that damn pitying look of hers.

Compassion is an ugly thing, sometimes. Canon or no.

“Leonard.” The Dowayne’s voice is soft, gentle, and he looks up despite himself. “Your patron gift has come. Would you like to see it?”

He feels himself nod.

Gaila claps her hands, and in walk three men. To his astonishment, he recognizes Pavel, Hikaru, and Scotty, the last of whom winks at him jocularly. Each of them bears a small chest, and at some unspoken signal they open them up at once. The contents glimmer and sparkle and shine in the light of the room: gold and silver and jewels. Leonard stares, and has no doubt he must be gaping like a fool.

“Do you know what this means?” Gaila asks. He can hear a smile in her voice.

“My marque,” he hears himself say. “It’s made.”

~

He’s able to have a word with Pavel at least before the three men depart again. “What happened?” he asks. “What—did something change?”

“Somezing, yes,” Pavel says. To his surprise, the boy hugs him, hard. “Ve must go,” he says, “but ve vill send vord! Promise this!” And then he’s off and running, and gone.

Leonard gets used to the stares from the other adepts after a few days. Well, “used to” isn’t the right way to put it—he stops wanting to laugh at them, at any rate. He can see it on their faces, wondering what in the world he did to Jim Kirk to deserve the gift of freedom from only three days of service.

Envy is mixed with the bewilderment on their faces.

Christine at least is pleased for him. “What will you do now?”

“I’m not sure,” he says honestly. He voices a desire that has always remained unspoken, except for his time with Jim. “I’ve thought about practicing healing. Only healing.”

Chris smiles at him. “Then you should.”

Leonard makes the appointment with the marquist. “I haven’t seen you in a long time,” the man says. He grins at Leonard. “We’ll see each other a lot over the next few weeks.”

Leonard’s marque is completed in stages, allowing the tender skin to heal. At that first appointment, the outlines of the marque are completed. At the second, the base green color is added. At the third, the fine details: the veins in the leaves, the color of the roots. At the last appointment, he asks for a final adornment.

“A star?” the marquist asks blankly. “That’s not in the canon of your house.”

“No,” Leonard says patiently, “but—it means something to me.”

The old man shrugs. “As you wish,” he says.

There’s plenty of money left over, too, after his marque is made. More than. He buys an apartment in a nice part of the City, and furniture to fill it, and sits in the first home he’s ever had to himself, wondering what the hell he’s supposed to do with himself now.

On a whim, he takes up pen and paper, and writes a letter to Jim. Well, tries to, anyway—far more pages than he is comfortable with end up in a scrap heap, before he gets something remotely resembling what he considers to be a satisfying missive.

Jim,

You may not believe me, but I meant every word I said. Like the old poem said, “Laughter winging airborne, we struggled / For advantage, neither giving quarter”—and that was the problem, wasn’t it? Neither of us could give in.

It’s our natures.

But you should know, anyway. What I said before, it’s still true. And I guess that’s all there is to it.

Your Bones


He sends the letter before he has the time to change his mind. He feels foolish after it’s gone, and in the morning he’s half wondering if he could obtain a horse and ride to catch the postman before it arrives at Kirk’s estate.

As if on cue, there’s a knock on the door, and he opens it. Jim Kirk is on the other side, breathless but with a slight smile hovering around his lips. “Hi, Bones,” he says. “I thought about writing you back, but I decided I’d much rather see you in person.”

Leonard’s voice is rough when he answers. “I’d rather, too,” he says. The words are barely sensible, really, but then they are together: lips, hands, cocks, skin to skin. There’s the familiar sound like a dove’s wings, and the simple pleasure of being with Jim, and the two of them laugh and touch and sigh with delight, and Leonard has never understood Naamah more. It’s easy and free, the way they are together now—the way they should be.

Much later, when they are both sated, Jim kisses him, leaning back with that same, delighted smile that is so new to him.

“What changed?” Leonard asks. “How?”

Jim looks sheepish. “Well, after I sent you home Pavel and Hikaru double-teamed me,” he says. “They were both mad as hell about how you left. As they should’ve been,” he admits. “That was badly done and I’m sorry for it.”

Leonard remembers the pain of their leavetaking, swallows it down. “It was,” he says, “but—I don’t blame you for it. You thought you were protecting me. It was damn foolishness,” he continues dryly, “but at least there were good intentions involved.”

“Yeah.” Jim shrugs. “Anyhow, that night, I had a dream about—about Nero. You were there, and—it was different. Because you were there, I knew things would be okay, and I fought back. And I won that time.” He pauses, looks at him intently with that bright blue gaze. “I love you, Leonard,” he murmurs. “I need you. Please?”

It is the canon of Heliotrope House, but it’s just as true for them, now: “Thou, and no other,” Leonard murmurs, and he has no doubt that somewhere Elua and Naamah are looking on with approval. And Jim smiles, and Leonard pulls him close.

Generation upon generation, the blood of Elua and his Companions runs still in the veins of their descendants, each of whom will one day follow to the land that lies beyond. And though centuries pass, they do not forget, but call their land still after that further one, and keep always sacred the precept of blessed Elua, that is, "Love as thou wilt."
-- Earth Begotten

Comments

( 88 comments — Add your .02 )
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suddenlyswept
Nov. 15th, 2010 06:41 am (UTC)
so . . . i have mentioned that i think this is wonderful (even if i am missing the cross-over context) but i had to mention it again.

WON-DER-FUL!

*squishes the awesome bundle of fabulousness that is caitri*
caitri
Nov. 15th, 2010 06:46 am (UTC)
I HEART YOU.

That is all. :D :D :D :D

**happy squishes**

Now go read those books!!!!!
ivorysilk
Nov. 15th, 2010 06:54 am (UTC)
This is fantastic, even though I don't know the crossover verse (I've heard of it, but don't know it)--thank you so much! I should be asleep or working or both, probably--but I had to read it first, and I'm glad I did. Thank you!
caitri
Nov. 15th, 2010 03:48 pm (UTC)
Hee, thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it!!
elfsausage
Nov. 15th, 2010 09:56 am (UTC)
I'm just blown away! I've never even heard of Kushiel's Legacy, but you managed to make it all feel real and complete without any prior knowledge of the verse. Just amazing. And awesome romance made it even better!
caitri
Nov. 15th, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)
Aww, thank you!!!!!! *beams*
avictoriangirl
Nov. 15th, 2010 12:33 pm (UTC)
I don't know anything about the x-over verse, but this, this is just beautiful! What a wonderful thing to start my Monday off with. ♥
caitri
Nov. 15th, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you, bb!!!
akuchan_47
Nov. 15th, 2010 12:47 pm (UTC)
This was lovely! I don't know the crossover verse either, but that didn't take away from the story at all. You were able to make clear what that world is like.

Loved the interaction with Jim and Bones and how they just fit together. Lovely and steamy!
caitri
Nov. 15th, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)
Wow, thank you!!
amine_eyes
Nov. 15th, 2010 12:48 pm (UTC)
Hmmmmmm - I think I'd need to read the books to get the full enjoyment, but still pretty damn awesome! I love the descriptions of everything here, it all feels peaceful and otherworldly :)

lovely work :D
caitri
Nov. 15th, 2010 03:50 pm (UTC)
Dude, the books are awesome and some of my favorites!! (Like LOTR-level awesomeness!)
madscribbles
Nov. 15th, 2010 12:57 pm (UTC)
I don't know the crossover at all but, still, gorgeous piece. Sexy, sweet and a little sad.
caitri
Nov. 15th, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked it!!
vivid_moment
Nov. 15th, 2010 01:44 pm (UTC)
God that was so beautiful -

*iz left all limp and breathless ...*
caitri
Nov. 15th, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
Hee, thanks!!!
anutty1
Nov. 15th, 2010 02:25 pm (UTC)
I've no familiarity with the crossover material, but, truthfully it's not needed. You've created a strange and delightful world. Great job as always!
caitri
Nov. 15th, 2010 03:55 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you, bb!!!
secretsolitaire
Nov. 15th, 2010 02:45 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is gorgeous. Your sweet vulnerable Jim slays me.
caitri
Nov. 15th, 2010 03:55 pm (UTC)
*beams* Thank you!!!
affectingly
Nov. 15th, 2010 03:20 pm (UTC)
Like others here, I've never read the crossover stuff, but this was great story, regardless. Thanks for sharing.
caitri
Nov. 15th, 2010 03:55 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you!!
bandearg_rois
Nov. 15th, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
.... KUSHIEL

yeah so you have earned my eternal gratitude by crossing this... because somehow I'd never thought about it before, which obviously, was so that you could write this.

<3!
caitri
Nov. 15th, 2010 03:56 pm (UTC)
Hee, thanks!!!
blue_jack
Nov. 15th, 2010 03:30 pm (UTC)
I love you sooooooooooo much
This was wonderful, Cait! *SQUEEEEEE* Seriously, just gorgeous and touching and impressive, lol! I still have no idea how you managed to get so much done in such little time and make it as comprehensive as you did. You know I love the Kushiel series, and having Jim and Bones in there fills me with such joy. They're perfect together. Loved this.
caitri
Nov. 15th, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
Re: I love you sooooooooooo much
**SQUISHES** I love you tooooooooo!!!! I'm so glad you liked it!!!!! *beams and squishes more*
Re: I love you sooooooooooo much - caitri - Nov. 15th, 2010 04:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: I love you sooooooooooo much - blue_jack - Nov. 15th, 2010 06:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: I love you sooooooooooo much - caitri - Nov. 15th, 2010 06:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
sail_aweigh
Nov. 15th, 2010 06:05 pm (UTC)
That was amazing! I know nothing of the Kushiel books, but I did not feel the lack one bit. This was so deftly embedded into the other universe, yet the characters still stayed so true to the Trek world it was a sheer joy to read, I just flew right through it enjoying every word.
caitri
Nov. 15th, 2010 06:31 pm (UTC)
*grins like a fool* Thanks so much!!!
weepingnaiad
Nov. 15th, 2010 06:43 pm (UTC)
Oh, bb! Gorgeous, lush, and melancholy. I loved their instant connection, how they were meant to be, and how that attachment saved them both.

Such richness here and I didn't need to know the original to enjoy and feel immersed in the world.

Fabulous job of placing the characters in another world, another context, but keeping them them.

Lovely!
caitri
Nov. 16th, 2010 02:32 am (UTC)
*beam* Oh thank you!!!! :)
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( 88 comments — Add your .02 )

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