Never Fade
Rosalinda StMatthew

Is this what we looked like? Leonard sat stiffly next to Jim, pretending not to watch Elizabeth Pike heft the huge platter of beef bourguignon over her head, while Christopher Pike stood at the head of the table, screaming for blood. Leonard glanced at Jim, whose eyes were big as saucers, and face was white as virgin snow. A crash, splatter and splash, more volatile swearing, and the smell of delicious beef filled the room. It wasn't enough to disipate the stink of hate.

Jim bolted to his feet, overturning the heavy oak dining chair, and ran out of the room before Leonard could blink. He muttered an unheard apology and took off after Jim. The front door slammed, and Leonard could just make out Jim's form sprinting towards their transport. "Jim!" He dashed outside and fairly slammed himself against the still vehicle. Jim was in the backseat, curled in on himself, gently rocking back and forth in the seat. He had his legs drawn up, knees tucked under chin, arms wrapped around folded in legs so tightly he could touch his own back again. Leonard swallowed shallowly and opened the door. "Jim."

"Every summer. They screamed like that every summer." Jim's eyes were still saucerlike, round and glassy and sightless. Leonard knew Jim was watching some horror unfold in the cold backroom of his mind. "Hell, probably did it the rest of the year, too. Just wasn't there to see it."

"Who's that, now, Jim?"

"Grandparents. Mom's people. Never understood how they had three kids. Still don't. Don't you have to not hate someone in order to keep having sex with them in the same house?"

Leonard rubbed soothingly at Jim's back. "Love fades, kid."

Jim's rocking stopped suddenly. "Is that what happened?" Leonard's hand stopped its circular motion just as suddenly. "Bones?"

"I suppose it is." Icy fear settled in the pit of Leonard's stomach, and he was suddenly glad that Dr. Pike had destroyed her ridiculously expensive and beautiful cut of meat. Leonard didn't think he could stomach trying to be a good southern gentleman guest just then. "I…I'd better make our apologies." Jim remained silent. Leonard patted him on the back and went slowly back to the slaughterhouse.

"Admiral-" Something flew over Leonard's head and crashed just above the doorjamb. "Shit! Just wanted to leave!"

"Then go! You're as bad as him, damn you! You and your damn rankings and militia and-" Leonard backed out of the house quickly, pulling the door shut in front of him, before Dr. Pike could find another glass knickknack to hurl in his general direction. He could vaguely hear the admiral screaming in response, but Leonard tuned it out and ran back to the transport, unwilling to get involved.

The ride back to the barracks was tense, at best. Jim stared out the window the entire time, silent, distant. Leonard clamped down on the urge to shout - it never worked, not with Joce, not with Jim. Apparently, not with the Pikes, either. Leonard tried for some music, but it only served to accentuate Jim's silence.

They entered the visiting officer's bunk one at a time, as if afraid to touch each other. Jim sat woodenly at the tiny desk and continued to stare. Leonard sat on the very edge of the narrow bed's foot and ground his teeth hard enough to make his face ache. They didn't speak for several minutes.

"Jim, just because-"

"Bones, I don't want-"

They stopped. They looked around the room, each avoiding the other's eye, as if bashful of one another. They waited.

Suddenly, Jim sprang over the desk, one foot using the chair for a springboard, the other sailing effortlessly to the side, where he tackled Leonard to the bed with the full force of his body. Leonard's breath huffed out in a gust, and before he could catch it long enough to protest the rough treatment, Jim's mouth was on his, demanding entry, worrying at his lips with sharp, insistent teeth. A giant, farm calloused hand gripped Leonard's jaw and squeezed, just firmly enough to pry Leonard's teeth apart. The other hand tangled in his hair and pulled, far less gently, as if to wrap the strands around his fingers and keep them there forever.

Leonard wrapped his arms around Jim's tense shoulders and squeezed, pressing up into the kiss, pulling his taut body down to his chest, his heart, his everything. Together they shuffled up towards the head of the bed, kicking off shoes and twisting in scratchy regulation blankets as they went. They eventually stopped on a diagonal, feet and heads hanging off, red faced and short of breath. "Jim."

Jim stared at Leonard, panting shallowly, eyes darting here and there, as if to map every line, every hair, every pore on Leonard's face, before diving in for another soul stealing kiss. Leonard bucked under Jim's intensity as he tore at Leonard's clothes, yanking until they ripped loose from their catches and ties with a loud shredding zing. He clawed fitfully at Leonard's skin where it was exposed to the over refrigerated air of their borrowed quarters, breath hitching with little growls and near silent sobs. Leonard's skin burned where Jim's nails left angry red groves and pimpled where it was freshly exposed to chilled air.

Leonard just held on tight as Jim worked out his hurt and fear, let Jim manhandle him onto the bed properly, moving only enough to let Jim decide which clothes to ruin and which ones could remain attached to his body, shifting arms, hands, legs as need be. He pulled Jim close as the younger man's coordination and lust disolved into frustation and desperation, ground up against Jim when it became obvious that there was no way Jim had the patience or frame of mind to ease himself into Leonard's waiting body. He rolled them, gently, pressing the length of his body, still covered in tatered civies, against's Jim's own shaking, fully clothed form. He kissed Jim's face, his eyelids, the tip of his nose, the tips of his fingers and knuckles, until Jim's sobs were fully formed, loud, wild, unrepentant, until the sobs ebbed down to nothingness, faded away with exhaustion and, Leonard hoped, relief.

They lay that way for several minutes, until Jim began to squirm under Leonard's weight. Leonard slipped to one side, leaving an arm and leg draped over Jim, brushing lightly at Jim's hair with his fingertips, watching his blue eyes stare up at the pebbled ceiling. "Okay now?"

Jim sighed and finally looked Leonard in the eye. "I think." He swallowed. "I think it's okay if our love fades, Bones." Leonard froze - his hand, his mind, his heart. Jim reached up to gently wrap his own hand around the fingers still touching his cheek. "I mean, if it does, then I'll just love you more than I love anything, not more than anyone loved anything. I think it'll be alright." He squeezed Leonard's hand. "On my end, anyway."

Leonard's heart skiped a few beats before picking up the rhythm again. "Don't matter, kid. It'll never fade."


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