“No,” Leonard tells Jim. Short and sweet, and that’s how he ends the conversation. Jim isn’t done yet, though. Bones is working in his office, probably filling in all that paperwork he has to do. Jim sits down on his desk, taking his PADD away. “Please, Bones. This is Sam we’re talking about.” “You want to go to your brother’s wedding and lie about a relationship? That’s horrible,” Bones says, “you’re a horrible person.” “Please,” Jim repeats, “my brother is always better at relationship stuff. I want to one-up him this time.” “You want to one-up him on his wedding. Again, you’re a horrible person, I don’t know why we’re friends. And we’re definitely not fake dating.” “I’ll give you a week extra off. You can skip all the pre-departure preliminaries.” Bones takes a deep breath, and he clenches his jaws in the way he does when he’s annoyed; something Jim finds both infuriating and incredibly attractive. “Fine,” Bones finally says, “I’ll be your dumb boyfriend.”
Bones looks so good; a dark blue suit and a black tie; Starfleet insignia pinned to his chest. Jim reaches out to touch it, grinning when the other rolls his eyes. "Can we go inside or what?” Bones asks, nodding towards the doors to the reception hall, and Jim nods. “Can you at least try and pretend to be happy to be with me?” Jim asks, “I really need tonight to work.” “Did I mention you’re a terrible person?" “All the time,” Jim says, and Bones huffs. “Okay, let’s go inside.”
It’s like the flip of a switch the moment they get inside. Bones’ arm is around Jim’s waist and he’s smiling. He’s greeting Jim’s family members and he’s laughing at bad jokes and, surprisingly, he doesn’t drink a lot. Jim’s surprised, pleasantly so, at this stranger on his arm. "James!” Winona said, cupping Jim’s cheeks and kissing his forehead like she always does. “Mom,” Jim said, catching Leonard smirking from the corner of his eyes. “Mom,” Jim continues, “this is-” “I know who this is,” his mother says, “I knew the two of you would eventually get together. You should’ve told me sooner, though.” “You… what?” Jim asks. “Well, obviously the two of you are dating. You’ve been “roommates” since the Academy,” she says, and Leonard smiles. “I can’t believe you didn’t even tell your mother about us, Jim, oh my God,” he says, and Jim feels terribly lost.
Leonard tells Jim’s family about their incredibly romantic dates they went on, made up out of thin air. He kisses Jim’s cheek before he leaves to grab another drink. He’s constantly reaching out for Jim’s hand, or his arm, or his waist, anything. And he doesn’t even hesitate when Jim pulls him to the dance floor. “What is all this?” Jim asks, sliding his arms around Bones’ shoulders, “I’ve never seen this side of you.” “Well, you know, countless years pretending to like my in-laws, I can do this,” Bones says, and Jim laughs. “What about that date we were describing? Stargazing at the Golden Gate Bridge? What secret romantic is hiding inside that grumpy exterior?” “Nothing secret about it, you literally call me Mr. Sensitive all the time,” Bones points out, and Jim nods. “That’s fair,” Jim says, and he smiles fondly at the other. Being this close to Bones, he finds himself thinking about kissing him. But they haven’t yet, other than cheeks, and this is different. Jim catches himself having feelings, and Bones looks so good. The other pulls away before Jim can do anything regrettable and impulsive, though, and with a conflicted mind, Jim watches him leave.
“Hey,” Sam says as he approaches Jim, and Jim smiles. “If it isn’t the groom. Congratulations,” he says, patting Sam’s shoulder, and then he pulls him into a quick hug. “You too,” Sam says, and Jim raises an eyebrow. “Huh?” “You and your doctor,” Sam says, “I gotta admit, I thought you were going to get an escort just to get back at me for being better at relationships than you.” “What? I would never do that,” Jim says, grinning stupidly. “I can tell. You look more in love with Leonard than I’m with my wife, and her and I are a for-life deal.” “Ha, yeah,” Jim says, and then: “wait, what?” "I see the looks you two give each other,” Sam says, nudging Jim’s shoulder, “that’s how you know it’s for real.” Jim glances in Bones’ direction, who’s speaking with Jim’s mother, and when he catches Jim looking, he smiles lightly before turning back to the conversation with Winona.
Jim promises he’s going to help clean up afterwards. He walks Bones outside, only letting go of his hand once they were out of sight from most family members. “Thank you for this,” Jim says quietly, and Bones shrugs. “It’s okay, I had fun,” he says, “you know that if you’re going to clean up, I can help.” “You’ve helped enough,” Jim replies. He hesitates, and then adds: “You’re really good at pretending.” “Huh?” “You said you did this all the time, pretending to like your in-laws. It’s really convincing. Even had me fooled,” Jim explains, running a hand through his hair. “It helps that it’s not all pretend,” Bones replies, and Jim frowns. He studies the look in Bones’ eyes, but he detects no annoyance or anger. No lies; instead, he smiles, possibly slightly intoxicated, and so Jim smiles, too. “Maybe we don’t have to play pretend,” Jim says, “we could just actually date.” Bones laughs, and Jim feels the doctor’s hands on his shoulders. “If this was your elaborate plan to get me to date you, you should know, it’s ridiculous, and complicated. But, I guess, it did work,” he says, and Jim grins. He reaches out, pulling Bones in closer, and he kisses him. Really kisses him, not just on his cheek.
“Jim,” Jim’s mother says, so suddenly that it startles Jim, and he pulls away from Bones. “Jim,” she repeats with a sigh, though it’s clear she’s hiding a smile, “are you going to come inside to help or are you going to keep making out with McCoy over here?” “I’m coming,” Jim says. “I’ll help,” Bones offers. “Mom, I’m dating this guy,” Jim announces as he walks inside next to her, and Winona laughs. “I know, Jim, you couldn’t shut up about it all day.”