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Fic: Build in Sonnets, Kirk/McCoy, NC-17

Title: Build In Sonnets
Author: caitri
Rating: NC-17 (Language, Sex)
Pairings: Kirk/McCoy
Word Count: 7,583
Summary: AU. You can’t always go home again. Or, sometimes, you can. Sequel to Subject and Degree. Written for the awesome avictoriangirl because she’s awesome. Beta’d by the equally awesome gadgetorious, who is too damn sexy for her own good sometimes.
Disclaimer: I know this may come as a shock, but I am not, amazing as it may seem, Gene Roddenberry, J.J. Abrams, Paramount or Bad Robot. Just so you know.



They’re having a dinner party with some of their friends from the English faculty when Jim’s phone rings. He takes it out to look at who’s calling, and Leonard knows from the way he pales that it can’t be good.

“Excuse me, guys,” Jim says to Spock and Nyota, and goes into the back room. Leonard can just hear him through the wall. “Hi, Sam.”

When he comes back, he’s pleasant enough but Leonard can tell something’s bothering him. It’s not until the others have gone home that Leonard asks what’s wrong. “Talk to me, Jim.”

Jim lets loose a long breath. “My Step-dad died. I’ve got to go to Iowa.” When Leonard snorts, he looks at him with confusion. “What?”

“Don’t you mean we’re going to Iowa?”

Jim stares, then lets out a choked laugh of relief. To Leonard’s shock, tears are standing in his eyes. “What would I do without you, Bones?”

Leonard takes him in his arms gently. “Be bored, I expect. When are we leaving?”


Build in Sonnets


They sit in the car for a few minutes, just staring at the old house. There’s a barn just behind it, tall and painted a gray that’s more like a weather-beaten blue. Against the icy January sky, Leonard thinks that no home could be more unwelcoming than the Kirk residence. Jim’s expression is drawn, lips pressed tightly together in a thin line. It is so at odds with what Leonard has come to know now that it shakes him. “We don’t have to do this,” he says carefully. “Not if you don’t want to, Jim.”

Leonard knows only bits of the story. Jim doesn’t like talking about his past, and he really doesn’t like talking about his family. He knows about the father, dead in the same car accident that sent his mother into premature labor with Jim, knows about a step-dad with little patience for two young boys. He knows about a brother who ran away as soon as he could, leaving the younger with the distant mother still lost to her own grief. Knows that Jim was further pushed away from everyone around him by his youthful brilliance, managed to get into an undergraduate program while still a fairly young teen, and then into graduate school. It’s only been in these last few years that Jim has had something resembling a stable life—well, as stable as one can be when one is in academia.

Jim lets out a long, ragged breath before turning to him with a small smile. “Yeah, I do, Bones,” he says slowly, “but thanks.” He sucks in another breath. “Think you’re ready for this?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be.” He doesn’t say that Jim was with him when he picked up the pieces after his dad died, or when he came out to his mother, and for those things alone if not for all the rest of it, he wouldn’t leave his side for the world.

They get out, leaving their bags in the car. It’s even colder here than it is in Baltimore, and Leonard feels his cheeks ache from the bite in the air. Not even the partial beard he’s been experimenting with lately provides protection from this brutal chill.

Jim knocks perfunctorily at the screen door, then opens it followed by the second door. “Hello!” he calls out. His voice echoes in the dark home—there aren’t any lights on, and it’s late afternoon, which means that what natural light there is is steadily disappearing. “It’s us!”

“Coming!” A woman’s voice, somewhere in the depths of the house. “I’m coming!” She emerges a moment later—she’s tall, long blonde hair with threads of silver at the temples. She has dark rings under her eyes, and her skin has the sickly pallor of grief to it. “Jim.”

“Hi, Mom.” They regard one another for a moment, neither quite willing to give ground just yet. Then they step forward at once and embrace briefly, awkwardly, like it’s been years since they’ve seen one another and they aren’t sure what to do anymore.

Which, Leonard supposes, is exactly the problem.

They break their hug and pull back. They are almost the same height, as if Mrs. Kirk wasn’t a formidable woman already—a well-known engineer, a pioneer in her field of electrics, and of course, his boyfriend’s mom. “It’s good to see you, James. I’m glad you came.”

“Yeah. Well.” Jim tenses again—Leonard can see it in the set of his shoulders, the lines around his mouth. He looks over at Leonard, and loosens up a little. “Hey, there’s someone I want you to meet. This is Leonard McCoy. He’s my—my boyfriend.” The hesitation in his voice isn’t unexpected; they’d talked about it before the flight in, but—still. Leonard is the first boyfriend Jim’s ever brought home, and a funeral is hardly the best occasion to make introductions like this.

“Oh. Yes. How do you do, Leonard?” Mrs. Kirk nods her head at him politely.

Leonard nods back. She seems to be taking it in stride, much as his own mother had done—a welcome relief. “I’m fine, ma’am. It’s, uh, nice to meet you.”

“Mmm.” Mrs. Kirk makes a thoughtful noise, taking them both in. “Did you boys have a good flight?”

“It was fine,” Jim says just as Leonard answers, “We made it here.”

They exchange a look, and a little bit of the familiar light comes to Jim’s eyes; Leonard’s dislike of flying has become something of a joke between them—one that’s always funnier when they are actually on the ground and all. They glance at one another and that sets off something inside of them, nervous tension dissipating into nervous laughter.

Mrs. Kirk blinks at them in confusion.

“Sorry, Ma,” Jim apologizes, stifling another chuckle. “We’re just—tired, and all.”

“Sorry, Mrs. Kirk,” Leonard says.

She smiles a little at that. “Call me Winona, please, Leonard.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he says obediently. “Winona.”

~

They chat awkwardly. It’s decided they will stay in the Kirk house during the visit, downstairs in Jim’s old room. After an hour or so Winona disappears to her room to dress for the visitation. Unsure of when it was to be, they had worn fairly formal clothing on the plane, and only need to retrieve jackets and ties from the car. Oppressive silence descends.

Leonard fiddles with his tie in the bathroom mirror. Jim watches him with a small smile. “C’mere, you,” he says, and Leonard drops his arms to his sides mutinously.

“I hate ties and monkey suits. I’ve mentioned that, right?”

“Yep. There,” Jim says, stepping back to admire his handiwork. “All done.”

Leonard surveys his reflection in the mirror; he looks grave and austere. He frowns at himself, brow furrowing.

“God, Bones, you look so serious.” Jim’s voice, light and like his usual cheerful self, the one Leonard knows and loves so well. He can see the deep furrow in his brow relax as he turns to Jim, who kisses him gently. They cling to one another for a moment, before breaking apart.

“You’re the one with the death in the family,” Leonard says shakily, “so why am I the one who’s all nerves?”

“We take care of each other, remember?” Jim says, and it is and is not an answer.

“Hello?” A knock on the door and a man’s voice calling out. “There’s cars outside so we know someone’s home!”

“Sam!”

Leonard follows Jim back into the hallway down to the entrance, where stand a man in a suit and a heavily pregnant woman in a dark dress.

“Hey, little brother,” Sam says as he and Jim embrace. “Long time no see.” The man is like a blurrier version of Jim—the same height, the same close-clipped hair, though his is a lighter shade than Jim’s dark blonde. His eyes are a dark blue, though nothing close to the electric vibrancy of Jim’s. He grins at Leonard. “Are you the famous Doctor McCoy?”

“I don’t know about that. Leonard,” he introduces himself, and they shake hands.

“Sam. And this is my wife, Aurelan.” The woman smiles at them, shaking their hands too. There’s a brief flurry of nice-to-meet-you’s, and then it’s silent again. “Where’s Mom?”

“Upstairs, getting ready.” Even their voices are quiet and muted. Leonard isn’t sure if it’s the occasion, or just this place.

“It’s always like this,” Aurelan says, as if following his thoughts. “It’s not very welcoming, I know. Sorry.”

“Not your fault, sweetie,” says Sam, squeezing her arm affectionately. “It’s—well, it doesn’t matter. Is Mom still—?”

“She seems—I don’t know.” Jim licks dry lips absentmindedly. “It’s not what I would have expected, all things considered.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean.” Sam glances upwards, presumably in the direction of the room where Winona is right now. “I don’t know if I’m relieved or scared shitless.”

“You look confused—Leonard?” Aurelan says his name hesitantly, and both men turn to look at him. He feels himself flush a little at their concerned regard.

“I guess—My Dad died two years ago and it was nothing like this,” he says haltingly. Jim grasps his hand firmly, and he squeezes it back. “There were people everywhere—it was like you couldn’t go anywhere that wasn’t filled with strangers wanting to touch you and talk about it and stuff. Here, there’s no one, and—I don’t get it. Is this a Midwestern thing?”

“It’s a Frank thing, really,” Sam says quietly. “He—wasn’t the most personable person ever.”

“It’s probably going to be just us there tonight,” Aurelan says. “Some of Winona’s co-workers will stop by, but—“ She breaks off, shrugging. “It’s sad.”

“Really?” Jim snorts darkly. “You think?” Leonard blinks; there’s a wealth of angry cynicism in his words—emotions Leonard has seldom seen in the younger man. Jim catches his eye and gives a half-shrug of apology, and Leonard squeezes his hand again.

Hold on, Jim.

He presses it back.

Aurelan rolls her eyes, oblivious to the silent exchange. “Frank’s like this cautionary fable. All his problems in life were the fault of other people, not him, and over time the problems kept multiplying.”

“And the alcohol didn’t help,” Sam chimes in. “And then he lost his job and just—stayed here. It’s gross.” The home’s dilapidated air stands in starker relief with their words. Sam pulls Aurelan closer to him as he turns to Jim. “Maybe Mom’ll let us clean up a bit—later.”

“Maybe.”

“Alright, I’m ready.” They all jerk a little bit as Winona’s voice floats down the stairwell. When she emerges she’s in a black dress, golden hair done up in a neat chignon. She’s a striking woman, and Leonard hopes that they can get her out of this—just this. The dark horrible house, the stunted, sad life. “Oh. Sam. Aurelan.”

“Hey, Ma.” Sam gives her a hug in greeting. “Ready to go?”

They all ride together to the funeral home, Sam driving, Winona riding next to him. Jim sits between Leonard and Aurelan. They discuss the funeral, which will be held tomorrow morning, and the local pastor who will be conducting the service.

As predicted, only a handful of people come to speak with Winona and her sons in hushed voices. Leonard sticks close to Jim, and when people ask who he is he answers, “Doctor McCoy,” but doesn’t explain his relationship, and no one asks. In Georgia, the gossips would be hanging all over, both for the novelty of strangers to the community and prurient interest. But here everyone keeps their mouths shut and nods politely and then leaves. Leonard isn’t sure if he’s relieved at the lack of interest, or appalled that so few people care about a woman twice widowed.

At one point he edges to look at the man in the casket. Frank’s eyes are closed as if in repose, hands folded on his bloated stomach. He has lines around his mouth from smoking and burst veins on his nose from drinking, though an attempt has been made to minimize their appearance with makeup. He does not look like a pleasant man, and it’s all too easy to imagine him losing his temper with two small boys, raising his fists threateningly—

Leonard’s stomach twists in disgust, and he turns away. Aurelan spies his expression and takes his arm. “C’mon,” she says, leading him away. “You need a break. Let’s go find a soda machine or something.”

There isn’t a soda machine, but they do find a water cooler, and each take little paper cups of water.

“So,” she says after a moment, “you and Jim, huh?”

“So,” he answers, mimicking her questioning tone exactly, “you and Sam, huh?”

Aurelan flushes, then laughs. “I deserved that. Sorry. It’s just—I’ve only met Jim a couple of times before,” she says. “He’s important to Sam, even though they don’t talk that much. And Sam’s important to me, and—just take that for what it’s worth, I guess. Jim told Sam he was going to be bringing you, and we weren’t sure how to react, not exactly. But, watching you two...” She trails off, growing pink. “I know it’s not the best time and all, but you two look like you belong together.” She’s so patently sincere that Leonard feels guilty for mocking her moments ago, especially when she adds impishly, “And I know I’m not much to look at, but if you ever hurt him, I will show up with a shovel and a bag of quick-lime and not ask any questions.”

Leonard barks out a laugh of appreciation. “Damn, woman. You sure you aren’t from Georgia?”

“I’m sure,” she says. “C’mon, let’s get back to the boys.”

~

Afterwards they ride back in silence to the Kirk home.

“I think I’m going to call it an early night,” Winona says vaguely. “I’m very tired.”

“You do that, Ma,” Jim says, hugging her, followed by Sam who does likewise.

Aurelan frowns. “It’s seven, and you two are still on Eastern time,” she says to Leonard. “Do you want to have dinner with Sam and I? You can stay at our place tonight, if you like.”

Winona smiles at her. “Bless you, dear. Sam? Jim?”

“Sounds good to me,” Sam says.

“We’ll meet you back here tomorrow at ten?” Jim asks Winona, who nods. There’s another round of hugs, and then Winona disappears upstairs.

“Follow us back to our place,” Sam says. “We can all change, and then go out somewhere.”

They do just that. The other Kirk household is completely opposite to that of Winona’s farm: a small house, warm and brightly lit. They are put in the guest room, which is currently being remodeled into a nursery, the walls painted a cheerful yellow. There’s a double bed and a chest of drawers, and a small adjoining bathroom.

Leonard changes into jeans and a sweater gratefully, carefully hanging his suit up again for tomorrow. Jim has jeans on too, and an old Berkley sweatshirt.

There’s a knock on the door. “Are you decent?” Aurelan’s voice, low and playful.

“Sorry, we’re making passionate love,” Jim says, still pulling shoes back on. “C’mon in.”

Aurelan peeks in, grinning. “Hi, guys. Sam’s still changing. I have a craving for Indian food tonight. What do you think?”

“Sounds good to me,” Jim says.

“Me too,” Leonard agrees.

They load up into a single car again and drive to a nearby restaurant. It’s a popular place apparently, seemingly full though they are seated immediately. Music is playing and there’s a low cacophony of conversations throughout the large room, which has a high ceiling that emphasizes its size.

“So you guys are staying until Sunday?” Sam asks once they’ve ordered.

“Yeah, we both have class on Monday. We’re both on leave, but—“ Jim shrugs apologetically.

“Makes sense,” says Aurelan.

“I’m thinking, if Mom will let us, we should do some cleaning up after tomorrow,” Sam says. “I think it might—help things.”

“Frank’s been sick a while,” Aurelan explains to Leonard. “Things have always been messy, but the last six months or so, it’s gotten out of hand.”

“I wouldn’t mind condemning the place,” Sam says darkly, “but Mom would never let us.”

“Yeah, it was Grandpa Ti’s and then Dad’s,” Jim says. He turns to Leonard. “Did I ever tell you I got my middle name because of Grandpa?”

“Tiberius? Seriously?” Leonard asks.

“Yeah, it was this close to being more than a middle name for Jim here,” Sam says with a grin. He turns to Aurelan. “Doesn’t that make ‘David’ sound so much better?”

Aurelan holds her hands over her stomach protectively. “It does,” she admits, “but I still like ‘Peter.’”

“It’s going to be a boy then?” Leonard looks at her distended stomach, trying to estimate how far along she is. Another month at least, he thinks.

“Yeah,” Aurelan says, cheeks turning pink. “Our first.” The way she says it makes it clear that she wants a few more, too.

“Tell you what, bro,” Jim says to Sam, “when we end up adopting, I promise I’ll name our son David. How’s that?”

“That serious, huh?” Sam looks between the pair of them with interest. “Wow.” He grins. “So when’s the happy day then, and all?”

Leonard feels his cheeks warming, too. “We haven’t gotten that far yet,” he says.

“Yet,” Jim echoes, kissing his cheek affectionately.

After that, talk turns to more general topics, and the food arrives.

~

The funeral is a very small affair. Maybe a dozen people, all told, show up besides them. Pastor Graves gives a long, rambling sermon that quotes all the expected platitudes. Sam gets up and gives a short speech about knowing what you’re leaving behind, and as Leonard watches Aurelan blinking away tears, he knows that his words are meant for their baby rather than the man in the casket. And then, it’s Jim’s turn to get up and speak.

Jim has been fretting over the eulogy, Leonard knows: a difficult task made more so by the unpleasant relationship between a bitter man and his angry step-son. “Jesus, Bones,” Jim had said the night before in frustration, “why can’t I just quote some damn Shakespeare and have done?”

“I don’t know?” Leonard had answered. “Why can’t you?”

“Everyone here who knows me knows I’m not much one for words,” he says, and Leonard snaps back to the present. Sam and Aurelan chuckle at his words, because it’s so patently untrue. Their mirth echoes in the nearly empty room, and Leonard is struck anew by how they are the only ones who know Jim—he probably more than anyone else. Somehow, this breaks his heart a little. “So instead I’m going to read a poem by John Donne.

“You might not know this,” he continues, “but John Donne led a really interesting life. He was many things to many people—he was a husband and a father to his wife and children; he was a priest and chaplain; he was also a teacher and a parliamentarian. I teach his work—I think it says a lot about life, even four hundred years later. And I think about Frank, and I think about what he would have wanted to say to my Mom, if he could have. What he would have said to all of us, if he only had the words to do so.” So, that said, here is ‘The Will’ by John Donne.”

There’s a soft gasp, and Leonard watches Winona from the corners of his eyes. She’s gone pale, tears slowly trickling down her cheeks like pale calligraphy on rice paper, as Jim reads. Jim modifies his voice slightly as he speaks; Leonard privately thinks of it as him going into “professor mode.” His voice is low, intense, passionate.

Before I sigh my last gasp, let me breathe,
Great Love, some legacies ; I here bequeath
Mine eyes to Argus, if mine eyes can see ;
If they be blind, then, Love, I give them thee ;
My tongue to Fame ; to ambassadors mine ears ;
To women, or the sea, my tears ;
Thou, Love, hast taught me heretofore
By making me serve her who had twenty more,
That I should give to none, but such as had too much before.


There’s a ripple in the audience as people respond, almost despite themselves. Leonard’s seen it, hell, felt it himself in Jim’s own classroom. The effect he has on people when he reads, the way he makes people feel the words, is like nothing else. Sometimes Leonard imagines what Jim would have been like in another time, with a voice like that. Would he have been a preacher or a captain of men, or something else?

I give my reputation to those
Which were my friends ; mine industry to foes ;
To schoolmen I bequeath my doubtfulness ;
My sickness to physicians, or excess ;
To nature all that I in rhyme have writ ;
And to my company my wit :
Thou, Love, by making me adore
Her, who begot this love in me before,
Taught'st me to make, as though I gave, when I do but restore.


The room seems eerily quiet and empty as Jim concludes, stepping down from the dais and returning to his family. He sits down next to Leonard; he’s trembling all over, he can see, and from the set lines Leonard can read the anger in his posture. He knows now that Jim resented sharing something he loves so much with Frank’s ghost, but he did it for Winona’s sake. He takes Jim’s hand in his, and is relieved to see him relax, body loosening up in response.

Pastor Graves steps back up, eyes on Winona. She shakes her head at him. Though her face is blotched with tears, he recognizes that fierce, stubborn tilt of her head: she’ll share her pain with those closest about her, but not before an audience. Graves seems taken aback by whatever else he sees in her gaze, and turns to the rest of the room, trying unsuccessfully to hide his confusion. Well now I know where Jim gets it, Leonard thinks to himself, and only half-listens as the final prayers are said before they file out to drive to the cemetery. Jim doesn’t let go of his hand, and he figures if Jim doesn’t give a damn who sees, then neither does he.

~

Jim and Sam flank Winona at the graveside, Leonard by Jim and Aurelan by Sam. There’s a final prayer, and it’s over. The crowd disperses from its small series of rows, several people coming up to Winona and Sam.

Jim pulls Leonard away from the group. “C’mon,” he says. “I want to show you something.” Leonard follows him through the cemetery; he moves quickly, purposefully, and though Leonard shivers with cold he knows he’ll be out here as long as Jim wants him to be.

Jim moves unerringly down various rows of stones, only once stopping to look about with a perplexed expression. “Oh!” he says to himself, as if correcting a course he’s laid in, then he backtracks and guides Leonard over another row, until they stop before a grave with a weeping angel on it.

“Don’t blink,” Jim mutters in a half-serious joke. Not taking his eyes from the stone, he continues, “Bones, I want you to meet my Dad.”

George Kirk, 1958-1983 the gravestone reads. We die and rise the same, and prove / Mysterious by this love.

“It’s Donne,” Jim explains. He contemplates the stone in silence for a moment. Leonard watches him thoughtfully; his profile is as neat and bright as a coin. Jim’s face is serious, the line of his jaw taut with an emotion some place between anger and grief, his cheeks and chin already sporting the darkness of a five o’clock shadow. When he speaks again, an immeasurable moment later, it’s in that familiar cadence of recitation that Leonard has come to know and, somehow unexpectedly, to take delight in. It’s a different thing when he’s reciting the words just for the two of them—there’s none of the showman’s tricks like he sometimes uses in classes. It’s just—intimate and real, is the only way Leonard can think of it.

We can die by it, if not live by love,
And if unfit for tomb or hearse
Our legend be, it will be fit for verse ;
And if no piece of chronicle we prove,
We'll build in sonnets pretty rooms ;
As well a well-wrought urn becomes
The greatest ashes, as half-acre tombs,
And by these hymns, all shall approve
Us canonized for love .


“It’s from ‘The Canonization’,” Jim says, lips twisted ruefully. “My Aunt Jean told me when I was a kid. My Mom picked it out but—I was never sure why. I’ve asked—I’ve looked—” Jim breaks off and looks at Leonard, eyes wide and blue, and he thinks maybe he can trace the bare bones of the boy who was underneath the cocky, brilliant exterior. “John Donne—he—it became something I could share with him, kind of. Y’know?”

Leonard stares at him, struck by that simple admission. It seems a brutal thing to him, to only know one’s Father through two lines of poetry.

Jim grins at him, sheepishly. “Yeah. I know. It’s lame, huh?”

Leonard doesn’t answer; he just reaches out an arm and pulls Jim close to him, placing a swift kiss on his shoulder. Then he steps up to the stone, addressing the ground beneath it seriously. “Hi, Mr. Kirk,” he says quietly, and somehow not feeling as foolish as he thinks he perhaps ought to. “My name is Leonard McCoy. I’m sorry I never met you. I love your son very much. And—he doesn’t know I was thinking about doing this, but it’s only fair I should ask you first. I’m going to ask him to marry me. I hope he says yes.”

There’s a surprised intake of breath behind him, but he doesn’t dare look behind him. “Yeah, I know,” he continues his solemn address to the physical remains of George Kirk. “I only want him to be happy too.” He pauses, as if there were a reply. “Thank you, sir. That means a lot to me. To both of us, really.”

He waits another moment before turning around. Jim is shaking his head, smiling a little.

“What?” Leonard says gruffly. “I was just having a conversation with your Dad. He’s a very nice guy, by the way.”

~

They return to the others shortly afterwards. No one asks where they were; Leonard thinks Sam suspects, but isn’t going to bring it up. The drive back to Winona’s farm is punctuated with quiet talk about meeting for dinner later: the simple minutia of day-to-day overriding the intense emotions of the last few hours.

“I need to lie down for a little,” Winona says when they get back. “I found some sheets for the bed downstairs; they’re in there.” She points to the erstwhile living room, covered in haphazard stacks of books and magazines. A pile of linens sits on top of a piano that looks like it hasn’t been played in far too long.

“Thanks, Mom,” Jim says. She hugs them all again, and then disappears.

“Well,” Sam says once she’s gone, “how about we leave you to get settled in, and we’ll come by later tonight?”

“Sounds like a plan,” says Jim.

When they’re gone, Jim leads Leonard down the hallway to a closed door. “My old room was in the basement,” he says. “Ready to see the mind of teenage Jimmy Kirk?”

Leonard snorts. “I don’t think anything will prepare me for that,” he says. “Let’s go.”

The basement is chilly, and smells dank and a little bit moldy. It makes Leonard’s nose itch and he scratches it absently as he follows Jim down the wooden steps. They’re made of old wood, and echo and moan slightly under their weight. A flipped switch, and the odd remains of a former living space taken over by the detritus of an aging couple are illuminated. On the far end of the room is a bed and a bookcase; several posters, the most recent at least a decade old, are taped to the wall. Between the men and that living area, however, are dozens of closed boxes put away for storage; two bikes, one with sunken tires; and a floor lamp with its cord wound tightly about its stand.

“Time to break trail,” Jim says with his familiar bravado, setting his backpack on the floor. He starts moving boxes to the side, clearing an easy path to the bed. Leonard dumps his duffle bag on the ground and does the same, and sooner than he would have thought they have something resembling a neat space. Jim retrieves the floor lamp, plugging it into a socket behind the bed, and turns it on; the warm light makes him think this room just may be habitable for the next few days or so.

The bed is old, mattresses worn and beaten-looking; the brass of the bedstead has dull spots where the shininess of the metal has been lost to age. The two men take the sheets and blankets and put them on in silence, and when that’s done Jim throws himself on top of the bed to stare at the ceiling. “It’s way smaller than I remember it being.”

“Hmm.” Leonard isn’t sure what else to say to that, so instead he regards the bookcase with interest. It’s filled with paperbacks, many of them with spines cracked from wear, a lot of them with pulpy pages yellowed with time. They all clearly belonged to an adolescent Jim, and he feels his lips quirk upwards as he surveys the titles. There’s the Narnia books, and a fat book of Bible stories, copies of Call It Courage and Island of the Blue Dolphins. “Oh hey, I had this one,” he says, pulling out a still-bright hardcover book called The Way Things Work. He flips towards the back, where there’s a diagram of a fall-out shelter: a relic of the eighties. “Wow. I had forgotten some of this stuff.”

Jim turns to look, expression softening as he looks at the book. “Yeah. Me too.” He rolls over, reaching out to pluck out a paperback copy of The Swiss Family Robinson which has a garish orange cover and warped pages. “This one was one of my favorites.” He flips unerringly to a spot midway through the book, reading in silence.

Leonard reshelves The Way Things Work and continues to read the titles. Then he comes upon a group of especially tatty books and has to laugh aloud. “Oh wow. You, sir, have some explaining to do!”

Jim looks up in confusion, then grins when Leonard holds out the half dozen paperback editions of Shakespeare’s plays. “Hey, those were from high school. They were required reading. And I was too young to know better!”

“Uh huh.” Leonard hops on the bed, flipping through a copy of Macbeth. “Methinks you doth protest too much!”

“Shut up!” Jim smacks him playfully with a copy of Hamlet. “Science people. Jeez.”

Leonard sticks his tongue out at him. “Humanists!”

Jim pitches a book at him lightly, and then the two of them are wrestling playfully.

“Dork!”

“Shakespearian!”

Leonard rolls on top of Jim and kisses him hard, pressing his body into the bed. The younger man makes a low sound of surprise mixed with pleasure, hands coming up to cup the back of Leonard’s skull and card through his hair. They shift at once so that their thighs are pressed together, and he is somehow not remotely surprised to find that they are both aroused. There’s been too much emotion recently, a surfeit of feeling, and their bodies demand a physical release from the tension.

“Oh, Bones.” The silly nickname is warm with affection and desire. “Now. Please?”

Leonard doesn’t bother to answer, just starts plucking at Jim’s too-tight jeans. The bulge there is prominently outlined, and when he undoes the zipper and frees the straining cock, Jim’s gasp of relief is almost comical. He pulls pants and boxers down almost to the other man’s knees, pausing because Jim is tugging at his sweater. Jim pulls it up over his head along with the button-down shirt and plain undershirt at once, and Leonard shivers as his flesh is exposed to the chilly air around them.

“Southern boy,” Jim teases him. He pulls at the covers of the bed that they had made up so neatly only a little while before, and Leonard would feel foolish at how quickly he’s diving for them except it is cold down here, dammit, and he knows it’s colder yet outside. “Georgia peach,” Jim continues to tease.

“Hush you,” Leonard says sternly. He’s pushing his own jeans and boxers down, and they make a messy pile as they hit the floor. His shoes make a clattering sound on the old linoleum tiles. “You comin’ or not?”

“Impatient!” Jim pauses from where he’s fiddling with his backpack, then finds what he’s looking for—the bottle of lube—and rejoins him. He strips down quickly, wiry body pale, erect cock flushed and proud, and then he’s beside Leonard in the cool, crisp sheets.

They twine their bodies together for heat; Leonard is still shivering and Jim throws one leg over one of his, pulling him closer still. Their mouths reconnect for another kiss; Jim’s mouth is warm and hungry, teeth pulling at Leonard’s lips in biting passion. Their cocks press against one another, hot and hard, and as one they reach down under the covers to take each other in hand: Leonard rubs his thumb over Jim’s seeping head; Jim’s long fingers stroke Leonard’s shaft up and down.

“How—d’you want—to do this?” Leonard asks in between gasps of pleasure. Jim’s grip tightens over him, and he jerks in response, craving more contact. Jim doesn’t say anything, just kisses him again and rolls so that Leonard is on top, moving his hands and hips so that Leonard’s cock is against the warm cleft of his buttocks. “Lube?”

Jim hands it to him; the bottle is chilly from the time spent in Jim’s bag in the back of the car, as well as the temperature down here. Leonard shifts and pulls at the blankets around them so they come down over both of them, creating a warm cave of woolen fabric. He squirts some lube into his palm, rubbing it between his hands to make it less offensively cold and gel-like, and then uses it to prepare Jim. He insinuates a single finger in carefully, then he adds a little more lube to insert two. He makes the scissoring motion he knows Jim likes, and is gratified when the man’s hips thrust up off the bed eagerly. “Fuck, Bones!”

Leonard chuckles. “Soon, kid, soon.” He adds some more lube to his cock, then presses it against Jim’s entrance. “Wanna tell me how bad you want it?”

“Bones! I—want—you—to—fuck—me! Ah!” His words are punctuated with gasps as Leonard enters slowly into that tight, delicious heat of his, and the last exhalation is ragged as Leonard snaps his hips just so.

“Damn, darlin’,” Leonard drawls slowly as he nudges in and out with only the barest hint of pressure, “you know what I’d like—to do to you—sometime?” He pulls out slightly, only an inch or so, before thrusting back in.

“What’s—that?” Jim’s voice is slightly muffled; he’s half-curled under Leonard, thighs and ass raised to get more depth and friction.

Leonard pulls back to sit on his heels, withdrawing most of his cock so that only the head is still nestled inside Jim. He doesn’t talk for a moment, isn’t able to; the only sounds are their gasps and heavy breathing. He lets Jim contemplate the aching void in his ass, then pushes back in slowly. “Sometime,” he says, trying to concentrate on his words rather than his actions, “I’m—gonna get—a camera—and make a video of this.” Jim grunts in protest as he pulls partially out again, and Leonard fights the quivering that is building up all over his body. “You—should see—how fuckin’ gorgeous—you are—when we do this.” He thrusts back in, fast, then slowly pulls out again. He’s so close to coming, but Jim is transported underneath him, is once more that easygoing man he loves so much, and he doesn’t want to see him disappear again. “See—how beautiful—you look—when you wanna—beg—but don’t—Agh!”

He makes a harsh sound himself because, oh God, it’s true, Jim does look gorgeous when he’s like this, even in the dark of the blankets, and he can see very clearly in his mind’s eye that gorgeous pale body lifting up to his in ecstasy, the way Jim arches like a taut bow when Leonard pushes him to climax…

“Yeah?” Jim’s voice is low, breathy. “And then—we’ll watch—ourselves—fucking—huh?” He groans low, because Leonard is pushing harder now, and they are both so close. They are slippery with sweat, their bellies and thighs messy with precome and lube. “How about—we watch ourselves—while fucking—see what it’s like—when I fuck you—while watching you fuck me—Bones!”

It’s sensory overload: physical exertions matched with imagination, and Jim comes hard, warm wetness on both their chests because they are that close together. Leonard follows him seconds later, eyes shut tight, head thrown back. Afterwards he slumps down slowly into Jim’s waiting arms, Jim who holds onto his still-trembling body tightly. “Fuck, Bones,” he murmurs reverently, “I love you so fucking much.” His voice is thick with emotion, and Leonard can feel a ghost of a kiss on his brow.

“I love you, too, Jim,” he mutters back. “God, do I love you.”

~

They hold one another in silence for a while. There’s a small shower just past the basement steps, and Jim retrieves towels from upstairs so they can take turns cleaning up. Leonard is the first to emerge from his ablutions, and he goes upstairs with a borrowed book to wait for Jim. He finds Winona sitting in the kitchen, staring at nothing.

“Hi, Mrs—Hi, Winona.”

She blinks, eyes refocusing, then offers him a small smile. “Hello, Leonard. Sorry—my mind was off—elsewhere.”

“It’s okay.” He pauses, then decides to go ahead and sit down next to her. “My Mom did the same thing when my Dad died.”

“Did she?” Winona seems surprised and relieved all at once. “When did that happen?”

“A couple of years ago. It was cancer, so—we knew it was on the way to happen, but it was still a shock. For my Mom in particular.” He hesitates, then forges ahead anyway. “Your sons are worried about you. Sam wants to help around here, if you’ll let him. So does Jim.”

“Do you want some tea?” Winona is up and moving around, pulling at a cabinet drawer. “I have a few different kinds.”

“Um, sure,” he says. He’s not sure how to handle her avoidance. “Uh, whatever’s to hand is fine.”

They’re silent while she fills a kettle with water and puts it on the stove, then retrieves a pair of cups. “Think Jim will want some?”

“Maybe?”

She pulls out a third cup, then a box of tea bags. “They’re good boys, the both of them,” she says at last. “I know they had difficulties with Frank—so did I—but, I needed him so much back then.”

Leonard doesn’t know what to say. “Look, this probably isn’t going to come out right—Jim’s the one with the words, but—I think—They don’t need you anymore, but you’re their mother. They do want you to be happy and okay. Especially with the baby on the way and all.”

Winona looks up from where she’s been meticulously studying the box of tea packets. Leonard recognizes it as Honey Darjeeling; it’s one of Jim’s favorites as well. She offers him a watery smile. “You know, Leonard,” she says, “I wasn’t sure I was going to like you. But I think I do. Very much.”

He feels his cheeks warm. “Thanks.”

The kettle whistles and she pours the hot water into the cups, and puts one in front of him. “I’ll—be okay eventually,” she says at last. “I think we all will.” They sip their tea in silence. “Why does Jim call you Bones?”

Leonard startles, hot tea sloshing out of the cup. “Um—“ The nickname is one that’s only used between the two of them; if she heard it, that means—

Winona’s expression is torn between sympathy and amusement. “Old house,” she says shortly. “Thin walls. And floors.”

“Oh. Er. Um.” He can feel his face burning. Christ, it’s like being fifteen again. “Um. Well, it started off as a joke. I’d just started classes at Johns Hopkins, and Jim came to meet me in one of the labs, and there was this skeleton. I’d been down there working by myself and I was tired and slap-happy and had a test in the morning, and I started singing ‘Dem Bones.’ Anyhow, I was really into it and Jim heard me and let me go on a while, before jumping in. And somehow after that he started calling me Bones.”

Winona grins. “That’s cute,” she says. “I think you’re good for him, too.” She pauses as they hear the door to the basement opening again, and Jim’s steps down the hall. “We made tea,” she calls out.

“Hi,” Jim says, joining them. His hair is still dark and damp from his shower. He looks at them curiously, sitting companionably at the kitchen table with their cups. “What’d I miss?”

“Just some bonding,” Winona says lightly. “I was also complimenting your boyfriend on his prowess.” Jim nearly spits his tea out at that, as she blandly continues, “Just try to keep the enthusiasm down a little bit, okay? I’m an old woman and need my sleep.”

~

Sam and Aurelan come by later, and they go out as a group to dinner again. Sam tentatively brings up the idea of cleaning up the house a bit, and Winona consents. The next two days find the three men throwing junk out and mopping voraciously while Aurelan helps Winona pack Frank’s clothes to send to Good Will.

Somehow, as the house emerges from a decade or more of accumulated dust, junk, and minutia, Winona comes out of her shell as well. It’s not as dramatic as the change in the house itself, but it’s there, nonetheless, the same way Sam and Jim have relaxed with one another.

It’s funny, Leonard thinks, how tragedy can break people up, and then bring them together again.

On their last day there, he wakes up with light in his eyes. It gives him a headache, which is a pity since he’s barely even conscious yet. Jim makes a low groan next to him as he wakes up, before rolling and burying his face in Leonard’s shoulder.

Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us ?


Jim recites plaintively, and Leonard chuckles. For all that the other man may be protesting, only a morning person could be reciting poetry as shafts of warm light beam through the small window just above their heads. He opens one tired eye reluctantly, makes out the floating dust motes that hang suspended in the air, highlighted by the sneaking rays of sunlight.

Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world's contracted thus ;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere ;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.


Jim concludes with a yawn.

“This bed thy center?” Leonard echoes sleepily. He smiles when he feels Jim’s rough cheeks nuzzling him.

You are my center,” Jim says. “It just so happens you’re in bed. It’s in the center by extension.”

“Mmph,” Leonard grunts. He rubs his eyes; they feel itchy. Probably the mold. “Tell me that’ll make more sense with coffee.”

“It’ll make more sense with coffee.” Jim pauses. “Maybe.” Leonard snorts, and they share a tender kiss. “Look, um. Did you really mean what you said the other day—in the cemetery?”

“Jim, when have I ever said anything I didn’t mean?” Leonard eyes him curiously, but Jim lies next to him calmly, so he pulls him close. “I’ve been thinking about it for a while. And I’m going to ask you properly and all, but when the time is right.”

“No spoilers?” Jim nibbles the line of his shoulder teasingly.

“No spoilers.”

“Oh well.” Jim flops onto his back with a put-upon sigh. “I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.”

“Guess so,” Leonard says contentedly. They lie like that, thinking of all the things that could and would be, as morning light spreads around them.


Author’s Gratuitous Notes

Poems are, in the order of their appearance:

“The Will.”
“The Canonization.”
“The Sun Rising.”

Comments

( 58 comments — Add your .02 )
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zhen123
Jan. 20th, 2011 06:56 am (UTC)
This is beautifully written! Also, love love love the Doctor Who references!
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 12:05 am (UTC)
<3333

I'm so glad you enjoyed it AND picked up on the jokes!! *grins happily*
sirius04l
Jan. 20th, 2011 07:03 am (UTC)
The first part of this always made me smile when I read it and this part does the same.

And, I'm currently taking a class that studies Donne and everytime we read something I think of the story - probably one of the reasons I decided to take the class.
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 12:05 am (UTC)
AWESOME! *geek high-five!*
wyntreaurora
Jan. 20th, 2011 07:11 am (UTC)
Oh BB *sigh* this was just as lovely as everything you ever write! My only concern is whether or not there will be more (aka the proposal itself) to this 'verse? ;) Seriously tho, I LOOOVE the way you weave all the poetry in - your use of it in "proper context" not only makes the story that much better, but also proves your skill as an author (and now we know you're damn smart too!). Gorgeous, as always.

♥♥
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 12:07 am (UTC)
Yeah, there will be at least one more part. Not sure when, but yeag. *squishes you*
bandearg_rois
Jan. 20th, 2011 07:51 am (UTC)
I love this! All the pent-up frustration in Jim at his mom and the sorrow and happiness and...

It broke my heart in the best way and then put it back together.... I'm waiting to see that wedding proposal... I even think I know what poem from Donne Bones would use, if he uses Donne at all lol
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 12:08 am (UTC)
Yeah? Which one? *grins*
amine_eyes
Jan. 20th, 2011 08:05 am (UTC)
Oh tenderly done, I liked the slow pace of this, it really brought all the changes into light :)

caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 12:08 am (UTC)
*squishes you* Aw, thanks, bb!!!!
giggles149
Jan. 20th, 2011 12:32 pm (UTC)
this is beautiful. Thank you for continuing this verse :-)
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 12:09 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it!!! *G*
_samalander
Jan. 20th, 2011 12:53 pm (UTC)
I grew up with a mother who bathed in Donne, and this is just.... brilliant. Like coming home, but with a beautiful lovestory mixed in. Love it.
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 12:09 am (UTC)
*G* Thanks!!
secretsolitaire
Jan. 20th, 2011 01:09 pm (UTC)
This is so gorgeous. I enjoyed meeting Jim's family, and the love between him and Bones really shines out of my screen. :-)
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 12:09 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it!!!
avictoriangirl
Jan. 20th, 2011 02:08 pm (UTC)
Oh, BB! This is beautiful! You made me teary eyed yet happy all at the same time. I don't think I've ever told you this, but I have a serious weakness for poetry, and your choices here were just lovely. Not to mention the pronz was vera yummy. ;) UNF.

In short: THIS IS AWESOME AND YOU ARE AWESOME AND I LOVE YOU SO DAMN MUCH. ♥!!!!!
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 12:10 am (UTC)
I LOVE YOU TOO!!!!!!! *dances about with you delightedly*
abigail89
Jan. 20th, 2011 02:39 pm (UTC)
I remembered reading the first of this, and then, with horror, found I did not leave a comment. My complete, total bad. Because I loved the story; you hit on all my nerdy, intellectual kinks--students, literature, a visit to special collections *dies*, them being absolutely adorable. And the sweet tone of the story itself.

Here you come with a lovely, wonderful follow-up. So sad, yet there is warmth and hope to it. Loved Winona in this, serious and sad and yet playful. Jim's boyhood basement cave and sweet, sweet lovemaking. I think I'll have to read it again. :D

As always, graceful, clear, precise writing. A pleasure and delight.
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 12:10 am (UTC)
*blushes* I HEART this comment and I HEART you!!!!!!!!!!
vivid_moment
Jan. 20th, 2011 03:27 pm (UTC)
I've read this fic twice now, and I still don't have flipping clue what to leave you? Your writings incredible full stop, but when you got teacher/pupil!kink added into the mix it just makes my head spin. Literately. I have alot of kinks going on in my gutterhead, but that's one of my all-time favourites :DDD It's damn near impossible to say this was better than 'subject and degree' but it was. OMG! Such woven words and feelings, not to mention the basement. In fact I won't mention the basement, or else I'll ramble off somewhere and totally embarrass myself. Such a perfect!verse, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING IT WITH US! <3333!

caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 12:11 am (UTC)
*G* Glad you enjoyed it so much!!!!!!!
rubynye
Jan. 20th, 2011 05:16 pm (UTC)
The cemetery scene is one of the MOST ROMANTIC THINGS I HAVE EVER READ.

I am rushing, but I had to tell you I adored your wonderful take on Meeting The Family, and on Jim and Bones here.
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 12:11 am (UTC)
*grins delightedly* Thank you so much!!!!!!
aadarshinah
Jan. 20th, 2011 07:04 pm (UTC)
oh, god, this is such a sad story, particularly the begining. But you still managed to make me laugh in places, which has got to be a gift. I love the whole Bones-talks-to-George-Kirk scene, but my absolute favourite line has to be:

It seems a brutal thing to him, to only know one’s Father through two lines of poetry.
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 12:12 am (UTC)
*G* Glad it made such an impression on you!!! I was pelased with coming up with that connection, because clearly what Jim has is poetry in place of Starfleet!!
blue_jack
Jan. 20th, 2011 07:30 pm (UTC)
Oh, man, this was almost painful to read, the awkwardness of the family meeting and dealing with a man that no one wanted to come to mourn. I'm so glad Jim has Bones.
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 12:13 am (UTC)
But the porn made up for it, right?

Btw, you overlooked Even Angels Fall?? Cos it's Top!Jim for YOU, bb!!!!!!!! *teases you before dancing about with you*
soldierly
Jan. 20th, 2011 07:34 pm (UTC)
FIRST, oh god that proposal scene was really cute. Second, nice Blink reference <3 Third, I really like the way you did Winona. Excellent all around~
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 12:14 am (UTC)
I'm glad you got the Dr Who refs and REALLY glad you liked Winona--I've really struggled with her character which is why I've never really written her before.
gadgetorious
Jan. 20th, 2011 09:30 pm (UTC)
DRIVE BY LOOOOOOOVE. ;)
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 12:14 am (UTC)
<333
syredronning
Jan. 20th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
Very enjoyable AU. Didn't read part 1 until right now, but they're both lovely and touching. This one made me feel as if I were there with them on the family reunion.

Also, the sex was really hot!
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 12:15 am (UTC)
*G* Glad you liked it!!!
sail_aweigh
Jan. 20th, 2011 11:13 pm (UTC)
That cemetery scene absolutely broke me. I was holding up fine and then when Bones started talking to George I practically started bawling. This was so lovely and so true to life. I do hope you decide to do the eventual proposal for realsies, so we can all see. ♥♥♥
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 12:15 am (UTC)
Yeah, I think I HAVE to do a third one now. *G* Glad you liked it so much!!!!
tocourtdisaster
Jan. 20th, 2011 11:48 pm (UTC)
I want to leave you some sort of proper feedback, but I'm somewhat brain dead today, so all I can come up with is that I love this and I love your ability to write so many different AUs and still keep everything so interesting and new and fresh while still keeping everyone in character.

...let's just pretend that's a properly punctuated sentence and not an insane run-on, okay?
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 12:16 am (UTC)
It looks good to me, bb!!!!!!!!! *squishes you delightedly*
ebilchickens
Jan. 21st, 2011 01:12 am (UTC)
Beautifully done. A very good story, the relationships and dialogue was perfect. Thanks for posting this.
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 01:19 am (UTC)
Hee, glad you enjoyed it!!!!
writer_klmeri
Jan. 21st, 2011 01:43 am (UTC)
God I love you. And this. And Donne.

I can't tell you how ecstatic I was to see a sequel!! And this piece is simply gorgeous from beginning to end. You are a talented writer.

It’s funny, Leonard thinks, how tragedy can break people up, and then bring them together again.

So touching. So true.
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 02:01 am (UTC)
Awww, I **heart** you! *squishes delightedly* I'm glad you enjoyed it so much!!
weepingnaiad
Jan. 21st, 2011 02:58 am (UTC)
Oh, bb! This was gorgeous! Such a lovely thing to read after a snow day filled with stir crazy kids and a sick hubby.

I loved Aurelan and Bones' little 'discussion' and how she apologizes for the state of the Kirk house. Winona was well done, distant, but coming out of her shell.

Melancholy and bittersweet with the most tender and sweet proposal scene. Bones talking to George was deftly done.

Hot sexin' and sweet teasing and a loving, hopeful ending.

Love it!
caitri
Jan. 21st, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
*delighted squishes* I'm so glad you liked it, bb!!!!
joirerson
Jan. 22nd, 2011 03:01 am (UTC)
So apparently I need to read me som John Donne, because dayum, that was thinky and interesting, and sweet and the sex is always a nice addition too. I felt like there was this deep well of grief with your Winona, that she just never got over, but you didn't get too wangsty with it, which I appreciate! Just, I loved this. And I liked Aurelan, too, I think she doesn't get enough love. :) Well done!
caitri
Jan. 22nd, 2011 04:18 am (UTC)
*G*G*G*G* I'm glad you liked it!!!!!!
badwolf36
Jan. 22nd, 2011 05:49 pm (UTC)
Oh! Just so beautiful. I love your characterizations and the poetry interweave. Also Winona hearing the boys because that's freaking hilarious. Thanks for sharing!
caitri
Jan. 22nd, 2011 05:54 pm (UTC)
<3 Glad you liked it!!!!
therumjournals
Jan. 23rd, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC)
Gah, yay! I love Jim reciting poetry and being all serious and stuff.
caitri
Jan. 23rd, 2011 09:20 pm (UTC)
Hee, glad you liked it!!
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