BY Amy Jonas
Keywords: Jimmy Bond/Yves Harlow Angst/Romance
Feedback: Loved, wanted and adored at email@example.com
Archive: Sure. Just shoot off a note so I can visit.
Spoilers: Bond, Jimmy Bond, Diagnosis Jimmy and just a teeny weenie one from Like water For Octane
Summery: Sometimes a brilliant smile hides a deep pain.
A/N: Thanks goes to my fabulous beta Magsrose. And to Stephen Snedden for bringing Jimmy to life and giving us that smile.
"Come on guys," Langly said, impatiently. "Frohike lost the bet. The first and second rounds are on him. Double Tequila shots for everyone!"
"You sure you don't want to come?" Byers asked the youngest Gunmen.
"Yeah, you guys go," Jimmy said, "I got stuff to do and later there's this football game on ESPN." He offered a ghost of his usual bright grin. "Do a couple shots for me."
Byers smiled. "You got it." He glanced at Yves long enough to exchange worried looks then followed Langly and Frohike out to the van.
When the door slammed shut Yves folded her arms over her chest and eyed him carefully. "Why aren't you going to celebrate with them?" she asked. "This story was a coup for you boys."
Jimmy shrugged. "Just didn't feel like it."
She suspected there was a grain of truth in his words but not because of a football game. Something was amiss. She watched as he walked to the couch; sinking down on the decrepit thing almost in relief. His gait was slower than normal and there was a slight limp when he walked though he tried to hide it. Upon further reflection, she realized he had stayed in one spot as much as possible all day. When he did move around he favored one leg over another.
The possibility he had sprained his ankle was dismissed immediately. He wouldn't try to hide it from her or the boys. No, it was something else and she had a good idea what it was.
She strode over to him. He was holding the remote but hadn't turned on the TV. "Your knee is hurting you, isn't it?" she asked bluntly.
"No." His denial was much to fast. "I just didn't want to go out and miss the game."
She took the remote from his hand but despite his surprised expression, he didn't protest.
"Take off your pants," Yves said. He turned a light shade of pink and looked away from her gaze. She rolled her eyes in exasperation and amusement. "Jimmy, I've seen you naked on more than one occasion, I think I can handle seeing your knickers."
He quickly stood up, his face burning brighter. "It's not that," he muttered, still not meeting her eyes. "I'm fine. Really." As if to prove it he took several cautious steps. He still favored his left leg but when he put his weight on it, he hissed in pain. He was anything but fine and doing a poor job of hiding it.
"Jimmy." She only had to say his name and his gaze snapped toward her; guilt written over his face. He started to say something but she just raised an eyebrow telling him she wasn't going to give in. He shut his mouth and limped back to the couch. He undid his jeans and pushed them down, revealing solid white boxers and tanned, muscular legs.
She knelt down and skimmed her fingers over the familiar scars on his right knee. These were from when he underwent orthopedic surgery after skiing into a tree in Washington state nearly six months ago. She turned her attention to his left knee, tracing the thin scars there. She discovered the scars the first time they made love. It was then he told her how a promising future in the NFL ended prematurely after sustaining two injuries to his left knee. Before she could ask another question, he was running his hands over her; kissing her. Soon she was aware of nothing but the pleasure and heat between them.
She glanced up at him, searching his expressive face for answers. His gaze was focused on her fingers as they wandered over knees; unhappiness and...was that despondency on his face? "How long has it been hurting?" she asked gently.
He shrugged. "It just acts up every once in a while." He tugged his jeans up; sat back down and looked at her. "It'll be ok. Honest. I took some Tylonel earlier."
They stared at each other. She could see from his eyes he was telling the truth but he still hadn't answered her question. She waited.
He sighed. "Two days."
She sat next to him, shaking her head, understanding. Langly had gleefully regaled her with how Jimmy had tackled the smuggler on a narrow catwalk. They had both plummeted seven feet blow to the next level. He must have aggravated his knee then. Jimmy's face reddened as if he expected her to tell him how foolish he had been. She had no intention of saying anything he didn't know. Besides, Frohike already dressed him down for his impulsiveness.
Instead she asked, "How long has it been since your surgery?"
That took him by surprise. He snapped his head toward her; he knew she wasn't referring to Washington. His gaze dropped to his left knee. He was quiet for a minute. "Almost a year."
She didn't miss the regret in his voice.
"You miss playing professionally." It wasn't a question.
"Yeah." A ghost of a smile playing on his face. "But I don't miss the strict diet; someone telling me when and how to exercise or the early curfews." He chuckled. "Back then a funky poach would have been some of the guys sneaking out for beer and pizza."
His smile widened, brightening at the memory. "But yeah, I loved it. All of it. Even the times I was benched. It was exciting and energizing to be in the middle of all that. I couldn't believe I was being paid to have fun; to do something that was so much a part of me. It was a dream come true." He looked down at his hands, his face darkening. "Then when they said I couldn't play anymore -"
"That must have crushed you."
He looked at her, seeing the understanding in her warm brown eyes. Jimmy nodded; his Adam's Apple bobbed in his throat. "I spent my life training for that chance. It was all I wanted. Afterwards I didn't know what to do. Everyone kept saying I'd figure something out." No one had understood how lost he felt when he was handed a verdict that felt like a death sentence.
"Eventually I figured out a way to use what I knew to help other guys." Yves knew he was referring to the Barcadi Bats; a blind football team he had formed using sonar and beeping footballs so they could play. "I saw how people told those guys they couldn't do something because of their handicap. It felt really good to see them succeed when everyone expected them to fail." He smiled at the memory but it quickly faded. "But you know how that turned out." There was anger and guilt in his voice. "I failed those guys."
"That wasn't your fault," Yves reminded him. "You were set up by some dangerous individuals."
"I knew there was something odd about POE but I pushed aside the doubts because I -." He clamped his mouth shut; squeezing his eyes closed.
The demise of the blind football league would always be a disappointment and a part of him would always blame himself for it. Yves covered his hand with hers wanting to soothe his pain but she sensed there was something else that weighed heavily on him; something that went deeper. She waited, knowing he would talk when he was ready.
A few minutes later he opened his eyes; his gaze dropping to his jean clad knees. "Dr. Bromburg told me I was real lucky when I messed up my right leg," Jimmy said. "If it had been my left leg there would have been even more damage." He massaged his left knee absently. "Unrepairable damage."
Yves felt a sting of guilt. "I'm sorry Jimmy."
He gave her a wry smile. "It was my fault. Trying too hard to get the evidence. Not paying attention to my surroundings. Trying to prove to the guys I could do it."
"You did get the pictures," she reminded him. Until she destroyed the film so she couldn't be identified. "You are an invaluable part of their team." She purposefully stressed the last word, knowing how it would affect him.
"Yeah," he said, pride in his voice. He smiled at her and touched her cheek. His happiness though, was short lived. "But I don't do anything they can't do." He chuckled sadly; dropping his hand to his lap; his gaze following. There was such a bleak expression on his face she could feel the emotional pain radiating off him. "I'm the muscle. The guy who lifts the heavy stuff or goes undercover as `G.I. Joe' because I look the part. If I can't do even that," he averted his eyes; his voice a pained whisper, "then I'm useless."
She understood then. He was afraid of losing the thing he loved most and then there would be no place for him. She cradled his face in her hands so he had to look at her. "You will never be useless, Jimmy Bond," she said with a fierce protectiveness. "There is so much more to you than a strong physique. You have a beautiful soul, a kind heart, and an unparalleled honesty. You have an extraordinary empathy for people."
His eyes brimmed with unshed tears at her words. She leaned in and kissed him. It was a gentle pressure meant to comfort and sooth. Then her lips parted a fraction and he felt her moist tongue glide across his lips; her breath caress his skin. She pulled him into a tight hug, one hand on his back the other tunneling in his hair. "People trust you." Her lips brushed his ear and he knew she was letting him know in her own way how much he meant to her. "You make them feel safe."
He hugged her back; enjoying the feel of her in his arms. He inhaled her scent; letting it wash through him; ridding him of his doubts and insecurities. This was her magic, he thought. Her ability to make him feel as if he could soar. "Do you have to go yet?"
She pulled back from their embrace, gracing him with one of her smiles. "I can stay for a while."
His heart was already flying. "You're an amazing woman," he murmured.
The edge of her lips quirked. "I know."
For the first time in days he laughed. It felt good. He felt good. She favored him with another smile, curled her legs underneath her and leaned against him. He slid an arm around her shoulder and held her close.
If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Amy Jonas
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