Last one in this series! Seems like a good, neutral POV to end on after alternating Kirk and Spock for awhile.
Disregards Generations, because COME ON.
Leonard resisted the urge to leap up when he heard the sound of a distant car, cruising down the long country highway. After two false alarms and a pulled muscle to show for his enthusiasm, he forced himself to stay put and keep reading. But then the sound changed as the car slowed down, so he seized his cane, hauled himself to his feet with a groan, and limped over to the window.
Sure enough, there was a blue Nova cruiser pulling under the big oak tree in his front yard, hoverpads stirring up dust and bits of gravel. The glare of the midday Georgia sun on the windshield was too intense for him to peer inside, but he was already seeing the familiar faces in his mind's eye.
He hurried to the door as fast as his back would allow and struggled for a minute to tug it open, swearing at the humidity. Finally he won the battle, and the well-baked air of summer came rushing in just as the cruiser's doors opened.
"Jimmy!" He shouted.
"Bones!" The younger man laughed and half walked, half jogged up to the porch, leaving the cruiser door ajar behind him. Leonard felt a brief twinge of envy at his friend's spryness. Whatever happened to the days when one-hundred seemed old, he wondered with an inward smile at himself.
Even so, he still had to adjust his mental pictures every time he saw Jim. For some reason whenever they hadn't seen one another in a few months, the images always reverted back to Jim as captain of the Enterprise, more than a few decades out of date. He noted the gray in Jim's hair, the lines on his face that seemed just a little deeper than before.
Then Jim had reached him and pulled him into a crushing embrace. Leonard bit his lip against his back's protests and put an arm around Jim, leaning heavily on the cane with the other.
"So good to see you." Jim murmured, and Leonard sang silent praise to the angels when Jim let go with a final squeeze. He basked in Jim's smile for a moment, so open and genial that sometimes he could hardly believe his friend didn't hail from the south too.
He turned to Spock, who had strolled over in the meantime and was making his way up the porch steps, studying his surroundings with obvious curiosity. He looked distinctly out of place, not so much because of the ears or eyebrows, but rather the fact that he wore dark, traditional Vulcan robes in ninety-degree weather without a hint of discomfort. He reached their level and turned his attention to Leonard.
"Doctor." He nodded once, and judging purely from his eyes, he was beaming just as wide as Jim.
Leonard smiled and returned the nod. "Mr. Spock." Ah, what the hell; it had been over a year. "C'mere, you stand-offish, pointy-eared–" He bit his lip against his back and caught Spock in a hug, and although the Vulcan stiffened slightly at the touch, he assented to it with an awkward pat.
Jim chuckled at them and leaned against one of porch columns. "How are you, Bones?"
Leonard snorted. "Could be better. Damn near threw out my back earlier. And don't start fretting like a mother hen, I'll get it fixed Monday at the clinic." He shook off the concerned hand Jim placed on his shoulder and held the door open for them. "Well, come on in. Not all of us are gifted with that green excuse for blood."
They followed him into the foyer, Jim sighing gratefully at the cool air.
"There's gumbo on the stove, but it's got a little while left to go." Leonard said, the hospitality his mother had drilled into his head since he could crawl taking over. "How 'bout some mint julep?"
"That would really hit the spot."
"Thank you, doctor."
Leonard retrieved the pitcher and three glasses with ice from the kitchen, and took a moment to check on the gumbo. He returned to the foyer just in time to hear Spock ask Jim teasingly, as he wiped his brow with a sleeve, why humans inhabited climates that they found exceedingly unpleasant.
They all settled down in the sitting room, Jim and Spock picking seats by the window, Leonard gratefully sinking into the cushioned chair across from them both. An atmosphere of familiar ease settled over them, and for several seconds no one spoke. They just sat and looked around the room, exchanging silent smiles, soaking up each others' presence as Leonard poured the mint julep.
"How's T'Kel?" He asked after a minute.
"Good. Great. Doesn't write often enough, but what can you do?" Jim shrugged and looked vaguely wistful. Leonard offered him a sympathetic smile, remembering when Joanna had first left home.
"She is currently serving on board the U.S.S. Tesla, and was recently promoted to lieutenant." Spock picked up where Jim had left off, his voice smooth with pride. "And as I recall, Jim, she wrote fifteen days ago."
"Like I said, not often enough." Jim took a long first sip of his drink. "This is fantastic, Bones."
"Mint from my garden, water from the tap, and bourbon from great-granddaddy's best stash." He quipped. "Personally, I think it's the mint."
"I've no doubt." Jim nodded and tipped his glass to Leonard. "And how are Joanna and Rick?"
"Doing fine." He looked from Jim to Spock, then back to Jim with a faint smile. "Anniversary trip, right?" Jim nodded, and Leonard shook his head in disbelief. "So how long has it been now?"
"Twenty-three years?" Jim glanced at Spock with a furrowed brow, and the Vulcan tilted his head to the side ever so slightly, the way he did when he was about to show off.
"Twenty-five years, seven months, nine days, fourteen hours. Approximately."
Jim frowned and stared at his glass, lips moving silently for a moment before he turned back to Spock. "Wait, what're you counting from?" Before Spock answered, he broke into a slow, shy grin, and suddenly seemed to get very thirsty, finishing off the rest of his drink in one go. He was a little too flushed for whatever lingering effects the heat could have had.
"Not sure I want to know." Leonard muttered.
"Indeed." Spock watched Jim in obvious amusement, and when Jim finally sat the glass down with a gasp and clink of ice, Spock brushed his fingers briefly over the other man's. For a moment everything seemed so still and peaceful. Golden light filtered through the curtains, casting lacy shadows all around them, and the muted drone of the locusts outside was like a lullaby.
Leonard leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms, strangely thrilled that Spock had allowed him to be privy to such an overt display of affection. "Well still," he said, to break things up before they started to give him cavities, "over twenty. Can't believe it's been that long. I'll never forget how nervous this one was at the ceremony." He jerked his head toward Spock, who raised an innocent eyebrow.
Jim gaped at him, then at Spock. "No!"
"Never told you, did I? His IDIC pin was on upside-down." Leonard said, taking devilish pleasure in embarrassing the hobgoblin. "Had to fix it for him. And he had that face. You know, the one he usually got when you were in trouble."
"Where he looks like he's about to step up to the gallows?"
"Yeah, that's it." Leonard took another gulp of his drink to hide his smile.
"How come I couldn't tell?" Jim rounded on Spock.
"I had suppressed the emotion well before the ceremony began." Spock said nonchalantly. "You, on the other hand–"
"Oh, shut up."
"Now, now, Jim. You looked picture-perfect to me." Leonard teased.
"Hey, I think I was pretty damn sharp for someone recovering from the worst case of the flu he's ever had." Jim shot Leonard look that was both fond and exasperated. "Too bad 23rd century medicine hasn't solved that one."
Spock murmured something low and reassuring in Vulcan, and Leonard been around them long enough to recognize the word 't'hy'la.' Jim smiled and grew quiet, looking inordinately pleased with himself.
"I thought hobgoblins weren't allowed to lie." Leonard jabbed an accusatory finger toward Spock.
They both stared at him, Spock's eyes widened slightly in surprise he couldn't conceal. "How did you–" Jim began.
"He just said you were the prettiest princess at the ball. My Vulcan's a little rusty, I know, but I think I got the gist."
"More or less." Jim laughed and flushed again. "And it wasn't a lie, just ridiculous exaggeration. Spock, mind if I…"
"Of course." Jim reached for Spock's half-full mint julep with a murmur of thanks. Leonard was thrown off for a minute, trying to figure out if that was the telepathy at work or just plain old familiarity. He almost missed Spock's quieter statement. "It was no exaggeration."
Then the stove beeped right on cue, and Leonard rolled his eyes at them as he clamored to his feet to hobble off to the kitchen, turning away as fast as he could to hide his involuntary grin.
"No automatic yet, Bones? What is this, 1880?"
"The automatic stove only went into widespread use after the mid-21st century."
"Close enough. Want some help?" Jim called after Leonard, knowing full well what his response would be.
"I'm old, not dead." He snapped good-naturedly over his shoulder.
He stirred the gumbo for a few seconds and gave it an experimental taste before setting the pot on an unused burner. He paused and watched the wispy patterns of steam as he listened to the muffled conversation from the other room; something about unruly students at the academy, and Saavik's new professorship there.
He must be getting sentimental in his old age, because the prospect of hanging around the lovebirds for the next few days didn't bother him in the least. They radiated a strange kind of warmth when they were together, of a far more pleasant variety than the summer heat wave. At one time he would have been exasperated, or jaded, or maybe a little jealous, but now he was content to bask in the glow.
He knew couples half their age who had lost the spark. Hell, he knew a lot of folks who balked at 10-year marriage contracts, let alone permanent telepathic bonds. But then again, Jim and Spock were something else.
Leonard paused with his hand on the cabinet handle and decided to break out the good china. It had always been Natira's favorite.
And here endeth the fluff overdose.
I hope you all enjoyed! Thanks so much for reading and reviewing, everyone!