Fandom & Pairing: Star Trek Reboot (aka AOS, ST XI, etc.), Pike/McCoy
Warnings: Non-con, slavery, mpreg
Word Count: around 6,000
Summary: Everything had changed on Burning Night, and Leonard was just surviving from day to day. Then a certain gray-eyed Commandant appeared and everything changed again.
Disclaimer: Any resemblance to anything whatsoever is purely coincidental.
A/N : This is set in an AU based on Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. You should read Part 1 and Part 2 first or this won't make any sense.
Chris now looked through him, not at him. They still fucked regularly, though Leonard couldn't tell if it was because Chris wanted to, or out of a sense of duty, or because he knew he was being reported on. Chris always took him from behind, now, with Len on his hands and knees or face-down, flat on the bed. There was no more foreplay, no lingering touches, no basking in the afterglow. No tenderness. Afterward, Chris would clean them both up perfunctorily and then roll to his side of the bed, sleeping with his back to Leonard.
Leonard had thought he'd known what it was like to feel like a whore. He hadn't had a clue. He knew now, though. And it was his own damn fault. He'd brought this down on both of them.
Chris was taking his meals alone, spending his free time in the study, and when he came to bed he didn't talk to Len, didn't look at him or touch him more than necessary.
Leonard, for his part, had stopped going out for walks. He didn't want to eat, couldn't sleep at night, listening to Chris's steady breathing next to him. The days were long. He didn't want to read, or watch the 'nets. He couldn't face Jim so he almost never went outside, and never when Jim might be around. He spent his time sitting listlessly on the armchair in the living room, and took long naps most afternoons that somehow never left him feeling rested.
Frederick and even Hannah seemed concerned about him, tried to get him to eat or take an interest in things. It did no good. He listened with half an ear when someone spoke to him and then sank back into a stupor as soon as they gave up. Every day, the thought of the laser scalpel tucked into his medical bag was more and more tempting. It was only a matter of time before he gave in.
Then one morning, when he was lying in bed thinking about nothing in particular, he felt a fluttering, low in his abdomen.
He froze. Maybe he'd imagined it. But no - there it was again. He'd felt it before, and it was an unmistakable sensation. He was pregnant.
It should have changed everything, and in some ways it did, but in some ways it changed nothing. Chris - the father of his unborn child - still wouldn't look at him. Leonard still couldn't sleep, couldn't eat, although now that he was paying attention, he was sure that some of his queasiness at the thought of food was morning sickness.
Because he hadn't been eating much, he hadn't gained any weight. But now that he knew, he would have to force himself to eat, for the baby's sake, and then he'd start to show pretty quickly.
He couldn't imagine bringing a child into this shithole of a world, but then, he wasn't sure he could survive losing another baby. He didn't know what to do, and it was tearing him apart. So he did the only thing he could think of. He went to Jim.
At breakfast, he told Frederick that he'd be taking a walk after he ate. Frederick smiled with relief and told him to take his time, enjoy the fresh air. Hannah gave him an encouraging look and a wink as he headed out the french doors.
He walked out past where Jim was weeding the garden. He gave him a small nod and cut his eyes toward the woods. Jim gave a minute nod back, and he knew he'd been understood.
When he got to the oak tree where he'd talked with Jim before, he settled himself in to wait. It didn't take long.
As before, Jim sat cross-legged across from him on the ground. He smiled, but his voice was serious. "What's up, Bones?"
He wanted to confide in Jim, but first, there was something he needed to know. "Why are you here, Jim?"
Jim looked at him in that disconcertingly direct way of his, like he could read all of Leonard's deepest secrets right on his face. Then he sighed. "You found out what Pike does for a living, right? I figured you were processing it and that's why you were avoiding me. I wanted to give you some space."
Leonard nodded slowly. "Yeah, I did. But that doesn't answer my question."
"In a way, it does, Bones. I'm here to assassinate Pike."
Leonard literally rocked backward. His eyes widened. "What the fuck do you mean, Jim?"
Jim's sigh was a bit impatient. "Assassination, Bones. I'm going to kill him." While he was speaking, he was taking something out of his pocket - it was a slim silver tube with a glowing green light at one end. Jim put it on the ground between them. "To make sure we're not overheard," he said by way of explanation. "I already checked when I got here, but this'll turn red if there's any listening devices or humanoid life signs besides ours within range."
Leonard gaped. This was all a bit too much. "Where the hell did you get that, Jim?"
"From the Resistance, of course. You didn't think I was just here on my own on some kind of personal vendetta against Pike, did you?"
Leonard hadn't actually gotten as far as considering why Jim was here to kill Chris; his brain was still stuck on the fact that he was here to kill Chris. He'd heard of the Resistance, of course - whispers among the Bearers at the Centre. But he'd always dismissed it as a fantasy, a fairy tale like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. A comforting lie that helped people make it through the night.
"The Resistance," he repeated dully.
"Yeah," Jim said, and now his voice reverberated with suppressed excitement. "We were tiny at first, but we're growing. And we're finally gaining some ground. We've become dangerous to the Regime - the first real threat to them since they took power. But they've got such a lock on information that most people don't believe we even exist." He looked pointedly at Leonard, who flushed. "Anyway, a high profile assassination is something they won't be able to keep under wraps, not completely. And once people know we're out there, and that we're really a threat to those in power - well, Bones, that might be the tipping point in this war."
"War?" Leonard felt like he was making his way through a dense fog. "What war?"
"Bones, come on, you're naive, but you're not this naive. Of course it's a war. Pike mentioned that one of his duties is head of counter-terrorism, right?" Leonard nodded. "Well, who do you think the 'terrorists' are? We're at war, Bones, and the Resistance has lost a hell of a lot more soldiers than the Regime has. It's time to start evening the score."
"By killing Chris?"
"Yep." Jim nodded firmly. Then his eyes widened in horror. "Jesus, Bones, you're not still in love with him, are you?" Leonard looked away. "Oh, shit, you are. Fuck, he's got his claws into you deep."
"You can't kill him, Jim." Leonard forced himself to look at Jim, to let Jim see how important this was to him. "Find another target. There's got to be plenty of evil assholes in the Regime to assassinate."
Jim gave a short, humorless bark of laughter. "Bones, it took almost a year and cost two Resistance members their lives to get me in a position where I could do this. I can't just pick a new target."
Leonard took a deep breath. "Jim, I'm pregnant with his child."
Jim's eyes closed briefly. "Fuck," he whispered.
Leonard's breath came out in a shuddering exhalation. "Yeah. Look, Jim, there's got to be someone I can talk to. Someone high up the Resistance, your leader, whatever you call him or her. I've got to convince them that Chris, despite the mistakes he's made, despite the things he's done - he's not evil. I can't let this happen, Jim. You've got to put me in touch with the head of the Resistance."
Jim smirked, though the expression lacked its usual panache. "You're looking at him."
Leonard's jaw sagged open. He was aware he was staring like an idiot but he couldn't help himself.
"Jeez, Bones, thanks for the vote of confidence. You don't think I can handle it?"
Leonard considered Jim, sitting cross-legged in the dried leaves and dirt. There'd always been something about the kid - a spark. The potential for great things. He'd always had charisma to spare but he'd never been interested in being a leader. He'd been more likely to use his charm to find a willing bed partner - or two or three - for the night. He was a genius but he used it for things like calculating the physics of pool so he could hustle beer money. It made sense, though, given everything that had happened, that Jim would have changed. That he'd have the focus he'd always lacked, now that he had a goal worthy of his extraordinary gifts and boundless energy.
Despite everything, Leonard had to smile a little. It was reassuring to know that horrible situations brought out the best in some people, even if they brought out the worst in most.
"'Course you can do it," he said gruffly. Jim gave him one of those genuine little boy grins that had always melted something deep inside him. "But if you're the leader, why are you here, on the front lines, so to speak? Aren't you too valuable to take this kind of risk?"
"Gotta lead by example, Bones." Jim shrugged. "I won't ask any of my people to do something that I'm not willing to do myself. Not gonna hide in a bunker somewhere and send other people out to die."
That was Jim Kirk, all right, through and through. He smiled again, but sobered when he remembered what they'd been discussing. "Please, Jim, I'm begging you. Don't kill him. He's the father of my child."
Jim's eyes softened but his voice was firm. "Bones, you're the father of your child. He's just the bastard sperm donor."
"Not to me," he said simply.
Jim sighed. Then there was silence while he digested what Leonard had said. He could practically see the gears turning in the kid's head. Leonard held his breath, knowing that now his fate rested in Jim Kirk's hands, that his future would be determined by whatever Jim decided.
Finally, Jim spoke. "If it was anyone else on earth asking me this, Bones..."
Leonard's breath left him in a rush. It was going to be okay. "Thank you, Jim. I owe you a debt I can never repay." His voice was shaking.
Jim shook his head. "There's no owing between us, Bones. Never has been, never will be. You've saved me more times than I can count. I just have to figure out how the hell I'm going to explain this to my crew. Uhura's going to kill me."
"I still want to try to repay you somehow. Anything I can do, Jim?"
Jim looked at him speculatively. "Actually, yeah, we do need a doctor. And you can't stay here. You know that as well as I do. You don't want to raise your child like this."
Leonard took a long, slow breath. He didn't want to leave Chris. The mere thought of it made his stomach clench painfully. But Jim was right - he couldn't raise a child in this atmosphere, assuming the baby even made it to term. And... he couldn't live like this any longer himself. Whatever was between Chris and him was slowly dying anyway, poisoned by their respective positions in the Regime. Everything to do with the Regime was poisonous, and now that he'd been offered an out, he had to take it.
He nodded. "All right, Jim. I'll go with you. When?"
"Tonight," Jim said. "I'll call the abort code this afternoon and we'll be retrieved at midnight. We'll meet here, at this tree."
"Tonight? But Jim, that's too soon. I need time to - "
"To work yourself into a state of nerves and guilt? To say or do something that'll give away the plan to Pike? Or even to decide you'd rather stay with him after all? No, Bones. A quick, clean break is best. Tonight, or not at all."
Leonard looked at Jim, agonized, but Jim's eyes were steady. Sympathetic, but steady. He saw an inner steel in Jim that had never been there before. There'd be no convincing him to change his mind. And anyway, Jim was right. Leonard was no good at keeping secrets, never had been. He wouldn't be able to keep something of this magnitude from Chris for long.
So, slowly, and with infinite heartbreak, he nodded. "All right, tonight. Where are we going? How far away from Chris will I be?"
Jim was already shaking his head as Leonard finished the sentence. "I can't tell you that. It's better if you don't know. If the plan goes to hell, you can't reveal secrets you don't have."
Leonard felt a chill. If the plan "went to hell," as Jim called it, what would happen to them? To Jim, to Leonard, to his unborn baby? Would he be interrogated? Tortured? Would Chris be the one to do it? He shook his head to clear it. It was better not to walk that road even in his thoughts.
Jim stood up, brushing himself off. "Listen, I've got to get back. Can you do this? Can you act like nothing's different today and then get out here at night without anyone noticing?"
Leonard gave it some thought. It wouldn't be easy, but... it wasn't just himself he had to consider now. He had the welfare of his unborn baby to think of. He nodded firmly. He would do this.
Jim nodded back, accepting Leonard's answer. "All right, then. I'll see you tonight, Bones. It's good to have you onboard." He grinned his quicksilver grin once more, grabbed and pocketed his monitoring device, and then loped off, disappearing into the trees.
The day dragged interminably for Leonard. Strange how on other days he'd sat in the same armchair and somehow hours flew by without him even noticing, but now it seemed like every second was an eternity.
Forget second thoughts - he was having third, fourth, and fifth thoughts. But in the end he always came to the same conclusion - he had to get out of here, both for his baby and for himself. He'd miss Chris like hell, but it was the only way. Finally, he fell into an uneasy doze, snapping awake when he heard the front door open and close, followed by the sound of Chris's voice.
He was rubbing the sleep out of his eyes when Chris came into the living room. He looked up and caught his breath. Chris was looking at him in a way that he hadn't in weeks, if ever. There was affection there - and maybe even something more. There was sorrow, and regret, and a whole host of other things that Leonard couldn't decipher.
He found himself standing up. "Chris, what is it? What's wrong?" Shit, did Chris somehow know? Maybe the game was up already.
In three large strides, Chris was in front of him, in his space, and then he was being engulfed in Chris's embrace. He heard a rough "I'm sorry," breathed into his ear, over and over.
Leonard squeezed his eyes shut and tightened his own arms around Chris. He still didn't know what was going on, but he couldn't stand seeing Chris suffer. "Shhh, it's all right," he soothed.
"No, it's not. But Leonard, I am sorry - for everything."
Leonard didn't respond. What was there to say?
For a few moments, they just held each other. Then Leonard pulled back far enough to see Chris's face. "What brought this on?" He tried not to sound scared, or suspicious, but wasn't really sure he'd succeeded. Luckily, Chris didn't seem to think there was anything odd about his reaction.
"I couldn't stand it anymore - this distance between us," Chris said simply.
Leonard searched his face, but didn't see anything there that indicated Chris knew or suspected his escape plans. He swallowed down a lump in his throat. This would have been easier - walking out, leaving Chris behind - if he could've held onto his hurt and anger. But he couldn't find it in himself to reject Chris. Despite everything, he still loved the bastard. So he laced his fingers through Chris's and spoke. "Come on, darlin', let's skip dinner tonight. Take me to bed."
Chris's eyes darkened with desire and he nodded once, before leading Leonard up the stairs and into the bedroom.
They explored each other for hours, kissing, touching, sighing and gasping, just basking in their togetherness. And when Chris finally slid home into Leonard, oh-so-carefully, looking deep into his eyes, Leonard knew that Chris was it for him. There would never be another for him, as long as he lived.
He couldn't express what he was feeling in words, so he didn't even try, but he knew Chris understood him when he murmured, "Me too, Leonard. Me too."
Chris was slow and careful, as if Leonard was something fragile, something precious. He finally came inside of Leonard with a low, broken groan, and Leonard clenched around him, clutched at him with arms and legs, trying to pull him even closer, trying to pull Chris inside his own skin.
When Chris had shuddered through the aftershocks, he slid down Leonard's body and, without warning, swallowed down his cock. After so long on the edge, after having Chris let go and pour himself so sweetly into Leonard, he was so close that he gave a muffled cry and came immediately, right down Chris's throat. Chris hummed and swallowed around him, milking him of every drop.
Chris crawled back up his body, settled himself on his side next to a still-panting Leonard, and placed a possessive hand over him.
Len felt relaxed, boneless in a way that he hadn't in weeks. Whatever was to come, he couldn't regret this moment with Chris.
He closed his eyes and just drifted for a while, while the sweat cooled on his body and Chris breathed deep and even next to him. He felt the still-unexpected fluttering in his abdomen, and then the realization slammed into him that Chris could probably feel it too, with his hand on Leonard's stomach the way it was.
His eyes flew open and met Chris's, which were widening in shock. Chris's mouth dropped open and after a few seconds, he spoke in trembling tones. "Leonard - is that..." He trailed off, seeming unable to finish the sentence.
"Yeah, Chris, it is. I'm pregnant." Leonard held his breath, tense with uncertainty as to Chris's reaction.
What he hadn't expected was for Chris's eyes to fill with tears which he hastily blinked back. A tremulous smile lit his face, and grew until it was an enormous grin. In fact, he looked kind of smug. Leonard rolled his eyes but he was smiling too.
Chris gathered him in, pulled him tight against his body. Leonard clung back. The baby chose that moment to give a tremendous kick and Leonard heard Chris's breath catch. Leonard could feel the tremors racing through Chris's body, but he said nothing, merely stroking soothingly along his back.
"How long?" Chris asked, somewhat ambiguously.
"How long have I been pregnant? I don't know for sure but I'd estimate around 16 weeks, judging by the fetal movement. How long have I known? Only a few days."
Chris nodded and Leonard scowled, a thought occurring to him. "It's not Jim's, if that's what you're worried about. He hasn't been here long enough. Besides, it isn't like that with him. There hasn't been anyone else but you since we first met."
"I believe you, Leonard," Chris reassured. "And - there hasn't been anyone else for me either."
Leonard burrowed a little further into Chris's side. "I'm leaving, Chris," he whispered, the words escaping him without any conscious decision to speak. Then he froze. Chris tensed but stayed silent. Leonard could practically feel Chris processing the words, weighing and measuring their meaning.
"How? Where?" he asked after a moment.
"I don't know where. Somewhere far away. I can't raise a child like this, Chris. I can't. As for how..." he trailed off, knowing Chris wasn't going to like this.
Chris's arms were like steel bands around him, holding him fast. There were several long moments of silence. "Jim?" Chris asked hoarsely.
"Yeah," Leonard admitted.
"Tonight." He heard Chris's sharp intake of breath, felt his arms tighten painfully but he made no protest.
"It's not safe out there," Chris said. "I can't protect you if you leave."
"You can't protect me here. You said yourself that I could be used against you by your enemies, as a political tool, a hostage. Imagine how much more tempting it would be for your enemies to use a child that way. It's not safe here, either. There's nowhere safe, not anymore."
Chris was silent again, and Leonard knew he'd won. He wished he could find some relief or happiness in the knowledge. "You could - come with us," Leonard said finally, hardly daring to hope.
Chris gave a bitter laugh. "No. No, I made my bed a long time ago and now I've got to lie in it."
Leonard started to say something, protest, convince him he was wrong but Chris cut him off. "Leave it alone, Leonard. We don't have much time left. I don't want to spend it fighting."
Leonard felt the tiny flare of hope he'd been nursing flicker and die. He swallowed hard, willing his tears back. "I'm going to miss you, Chris. You've got no idea how much."
"Oh, I think I have some idea." Chris's voice was dry but the pain behind it pierced Leonard to the core.
"I love you," Leonard said. "Never stopped. I'll never stop, even if I never see you again. I don't think I could stop the way I feel about you and I wouldn't choose to even if I could."
Leonard heard Chris's slow exhale. "I love you too, Leonard. I think I always have, no matter how hard I tried to deny it."
The pleasure of hearing those words was tempered by the agony of knowing that Chris was saying them only because they were going to be parted, likely forever. He wanted to scream, to rage, to tear down the house around them at the unfairness of it all. "I'll wait for you," he suddenly blurted. "I don't care how long it takes, I'll wait for you. I won't give up on us. I won't give up on you."
He could feel Chris shaking, just slightly. "No, Leonard, don't wait for me. Find what happiness you can, even if it's with someone else."
Leonard knew what those words must have cost Chris. But this time, Leonard wasn't going to let Chris push him away. "I can't make you come with me," he said. "But you can't make me give up on you. Deal with it."
Chris was startled into a chuckle, and this time there was even some humor in it, even if it was tinged with a kind of desperate sadness.
"Promise me you'll take care of yourself," Chris said. "Promise me you won't blame yourself if you lose the baby. Promise me, Leonard."
Chris knew him too well. He swallowed hard. "Yeah, all right, Chris. I'll do my best."
They held each other for a few minutes more. Then Chris tilted Leonard's chin up and covered Leonard's lips with his own. The kiss was demanding, taking everything he felt and giving it back in equal measure. It seemed to go on forever, the love and passion building until Leonard thought they would both catch fire.
Then, abruptly, Chris pulled away. He rolled away from Len and got to his feet. "I... can't stay here. I don't know if I'll be strong enough to let you go if I hold you any longer. I'm going to go to my study. Be safe, Leonard."
With those words he turned and walked out the door.
And when Leonard stole out of the house a few minutes before midnight, he didn't look back.
One year later
Leonard scrubbed his hands carefully in the sink of the exam room, and winced as the walls rattled in the high winds outside. The tiny med clinic was a bit rickety, a temporary prefab shell pressed into service as a permanent doctor's office and hospital. It was hardly what he had been used to - the automatic sterilization fields, the diagnostic scanners and biobeds from the Before Times - but it didn't matter. He was practicing medicine again. He was healing people, helping them. It was the only thing he'd ever wanted to do and for the first time in a long time, he was at peace.
There was only one thing - well, two things - he was missing, but he didn't let himself think about that, at least not until the dark of night, when the thoughts came surging into his mind whether he wanted them to or not.
He shook his head. No time for that now. He had a full slate of patients this afternoon, from Gaila, to see how her broken arm was healing after a sexual encounter gone wrong which apparently involved climbing apparatus - and no, Leonard really did not want to know the details, thank you very much - to Jim, who had a legion of cuts and bruises but luckily nothing more serious after yet another death-defying rescue mission.
Christine poked her head into the exam room. "Doctor, you've got an unscheduled patient. He says he needs to see you and it's urgent."
Christine looked puzzled, as well she should. Their off-world base-camp wasn't so big that most of them didn't know each other by sight. New faces were a rarity, though not unheard-of, with all the crazy-ass chances Jim and his crew took to recruit people for the Resistance and "extract" them, as he put it, from the Regime.
Probably someone Jim had brought in on his recent return. He sighed. Another lunch break foregone - he'd have to grab a nutrient bar between appointments. The damn things tasted like pressed sawdust. "Show him in," he said, trying not to sound too irritated. From the wince Christine gave, he hadn't exactly succeeded. Oh well.
He busied himself getting a sterilized set of examination equipment ready, not turning around at the footfalls as his new patient arrived. Finally, when he was good and ready, he turned around, holding a thermometer. "All right, let's take your - " his voice failed, the sound cutting off abruptly, as his jaw hung open.
Chris was standing in front of him, looking years older and wearier, but standing tall as always and with a different look in his eye than Leonard had ever seen before. Determination, and pride. That, and love that he wasn't even trying to hide.
"Leonard," Chris said. That was all he got out before Leonard had dropped the thermometer and stumbled the few steps to reach him, grabbing him tight enough that it had to hurt, but he didn't care, couldn't bring himself to loosen his hold. He buried his face in Chris's neck, almost choking on a sob as a wave of emotions crashed over him - joy, love, anger, and most of all, overwhelming relief. Chris's arms came around him and for an endless moment they stood there, clinging together, nothing else in the world existing but them.
Then he felt Chris pushing him away. He let out a growl - and good lord, had that sound really come from his own throat? - and tried to hold on, but Chris was having none of it. He was speaking soothingly to Leonard and finally the words penetrated his consciousness. "Leonard, hold on. I'm not going anywhere. But there's something - someone - you've got to see."
Leonard couldn't imagine that there was anything he needed to see other than Chris, but he reluctantly stepped back.
And then Chris was reaching behind himself and nudging someone out from hiding behind his legs - it was a little imp of a girl, her eyes impossibly wide. But what drew his attention and had him falling, trembling, to his knees, were the dark glossy hair, the pointed nose, so like his own, and the stubborn chin, so like her mama's. He distantly noted that there were tears streaking down his face as he choked out, "Joanna."
Joanna cocked her head for a moment and then from the space of one instant to another she breathed, "Daddy." She ran forward and threw herself into his arms, and it was as if the sun had finally risen after a night that lasted for years. He was holding her, rocking her little body against his pounding heart, and she was clinging to him like she was never going to let go again.
Leonard looked up over her shoulder to see Chris's face. There was weariness there, but also a smile, and his eyes were suspiciously bright. Leonard mouthed, "Thank you." It wasn't sufficient - nothing could ever be sufficient to repay this - but he had to say it anyway.
Leonard didn't want to pull back from Joanna, but eventually she started squirming and he loosened his grasp, content to hold her at arm's length and look at her. She looked healthy and though her eyes were wide with astonishment, she didn't have the haunted look of someone who'd survived unspeakable trauma. He silently thanked God and Chris for bringing his little girl back to him.
Just then a noise penetrated the fog he was in - the unmistakable wail of a crying infant. It was coming closer, and then the exam room door opened and Christine entered, carrying a squirming, screaming bundle.
She froze at the scene in front of her, clearly unsure how to react. Leonard stood and took the baby gently from her arms and then pushed her out the door, shutting it behind her. She looked both curious and miffed, but too bad. He'd explain later. This was too private for witnesses.
The baby stopped crying and settled down to hiccupping and fussing quietly. Leonard looked up to see Chris, frozen, his mouth open just as his had been only a few moments ago. "Is that..." he breathed the words, apparently unable to complete the sentence.
Leonard nodded. His throat was thick, but he cleared it and spoke anyway. "This is your son. Christopher James McCoy. He was born seven months ago." He held the baby out, offering Chris a chance to meet his son. Chris made a choking noise and stepped forward. He awkwardly took the baby from Leonard's arms and stared into the tiny face. Leonard knew what he'd see - eyes as clear and gray as Chris's own. The baby stared solemnly up at Chris, seeming almost to already recognize the man holding him. Then he opened his mouth and let out an unholy screech. It devolved into wails and Chris hastily handed him back to Leonard.
Leonard took his son back, and the wails became cranky fussing. He crouched down again, letting Joanna get a look at the baby. "This is C.J.," he said. "Your brother."
Joanna stared at him intently, then wrinkled her tiny, pointy nose. "He's kind of noisy. And smelly," she said, looking doubtfully at her father.
Leonard chuckled, even if it was a teary laugh - it was sheer happiness. "You're right, darlin'. He is. I think he needs a change and then a bottle." He looked up at Chris. "What do you say to learning how to change a diaper?"
He was sure the smile on his own face was just as wide as the one on Chris's. Chris wiped his eyes and then reached out for the baby again. "I'd love it," he said, and Leonard knew he was talking about so much more than changing a diaper.
Leonard stood and busied himself changing C.J.'s diaper, wordlessly showing Chris what to do. He didn't want to allow himself to hope, didn't want this one perfect moment of happiness to end, but he had to know.
"Are you - staying?" he managed to ask.
Chris nodded firmly. "I burned all my bridges. I got in touch with Jim a few months ago, and we set up an escape plan. I sent him all the classified information I could get my hands on, and then the day I left I sowed as much chaos as I possibly could - gave orders for the troops to disband, for the Regime's food supplies to be opened to the public, released all the 'terrorists' who were actually political dissidents and not criminals. I can't go back. And I wouldn't want to." He took a deep breath. "I'm going to join the Resistance. Help Jim and the others as much as I can. And... be with you. If you'll have me."
It hurt to see the fear of rejection in Chris's eyes, so very unlike any expression he'd ever seen on that proud face. He wanted desperately to reassure Chris, to take him in his arms and act like they'd never been parted. But he had to make something clear. "Chris... I'm your equal here. Not your slave. I won't go back to that, not for anything." He glanced down at Joanna, knowing that his declaration wasn't entirely true, but close enough. Chris would understand what he meant.
Chris took a deep breath. "I can't promise I won't be high-handed, or possessive. I've always been like that, even before... well, before. But I swear to you, Leonard, if you let me, I will be your partner, your equal in all things. And if I forget it, feel free to smack me." He smirked a little at that, but his eyes were serious.
Leonard nodded slowly. This had the feeling of a vow, a binding promise that would make them a family, and Leonard couldn't think of anything he wanted more. "All right, Chris. All right."
Chris looked relieved beyond words, almost sagging against the exam table where C.J. was wiggling, now in a fresh diaper and eager to be fed.
Chris picked up the baby while Leonard turned to the sink to wash his hands. Then he lifted Joanna up to sit on the exam table. "Want to learn how to give your brother a bottle?" he asked. She looked a bit uncertain, but nodded decisively. Leonard felt a bittersweet pang - that expression was so like Jocelyn's look of determination in the face of misgivings.
He rummaged around in the upper cupboards of the exam room, finding the extra bottle and formula he had stashed there. He made up a bottle while Chris stood close to Joanna, letting her touch the baby's face and the fuzzy green blanket he was wrapped in.
Leonard showed Joanna how to hold the bottle, while Chris held the baby. He looked at the man he loved, he looked at his children, and his heart had never been fuller. This wasn't how he'd ever expected his life to turn out, and he knew that there were difficult and dangerous times ahead, but - looking into Chris's beautiful gray eyes, he knew he wouldn't change a thing.