Drifter shows up in town. Meets a gorgeous dame who happens to have a husband slash lover slash father who treats her terrible. Drifter and dame conspire to get rid of the man in her life. Murder happens. Followed by unhappiness in the form of prison time or even death.
Leonard’s read the stories, seen the movies, and he knows it’s such a cliché that he can’t help but laugh. Only difference is his dame is a gorgeous young man, and there’s an abusive stepfather with control over the family money instead of a romantic partner keeping them from exploring their attraction. The other big difference is that Leonard’s already had his unhappy ending, courtesy of a miscarriage and a cheating wife who had to choose his best friend to move on from the misery of losing their baby with.
Jim is everything Leonard’s always wanted but figured he’d never have. So smart it’s sickening, so pretty everyone gives him a second look when he walks into a room, so loving that he manages to worm his way through the walls around Leonard’s heart, and so sexy that Leonard finds it difficult not to touch him just to watch the way his beautiful blue eyes darken with lust and the way his skin flushes beneath his tan.
It’d be perfect if Frank wasn’t around. Frank’s the stepfather in their own personal cliché of a fucked up story. The one Jim’s mom married before going off to work all over the world. The one who drove off Jim’s older brother due to his alcoholism and his abuse. The one who inherited everything with Jim’s mom died in a car crash when he was sixteen. The one who owns the family diner that’s been in the Kirk family for generations, which is the only reason Jim’s still there. Leonard’s heard about it all, listened to Jim whisper about how Frank beat him up so bad when he tried to move out after graduating high school, listened to how Frank gets off on having Jim under his thumb, listens to how the abuse is always physical but borders on a line that could easily sway into something that would make Jim fight until one of them was dead.
Leonard’s just a drifter working at the diner. No one knows about his past. No one cares but Jim. He’s a good man under the bluster and grumpy attitude, and the people in the town accept him easily. They can see how he makes Jim happy, and Jim’s the darling of everyone, so that makes Leonard acceptable. They don’t know he’s actually a doctor who dealt with his own bout of drowning his sorrows in liquor after his wife lost their baby girl and then he lost his wife. They don’t know he isn’t a dumb fuck like the guys in those cliché stories. They don’t realize he’s actually just as smart as Jim, only he’s got a heart that’s been battered and bruised in a way that’s taken away his optimism and joy in the little things that Jim, thankfully, still has.
That’s why Leonard rewrites their story.
He knows what medications mix to cause death in a way that’ll look like natural causes for anyone not specifically looking for foul means. He knows the habits of an alcoholic, the patterns that follow the possession of a brand new bottle of Kentucky Bourbon. He knows how to be patient, to wait for the perfect opportunity, and it’s easy. Almost too easy, but he’s smart and focused, and their story is suddenly rewritten on a bright summer day with a warm breeze blowing in from the north.
That’s when Jim comes home from the diner to find Frank passed out on the couch with a broken bottle on the floor beside him. That’s when Jim freaks out and calls an ambulance because Frank’s not breathing. That’s when Frank’s pronounced dead at the scene, and Jim’s grief is real because he might hate Frank but he’s still been his stepfather for twenty odd years so there’s emotions there beneath the hate and contempt that have built over time. That’s when the ME declares the cause of death a heart attack and closes the case without bothering to look deeper. The ME is a good man, likes a slice of cherry pie and cup of coffee every night at the diner, and Leonard knew Pike wouldn’t bother investigating much if the man making Jim so unhappy crossed his table one of these days.
Leonard watches Jim take over the reins of the Kirk family businesses and take to it like he’d been doing it all the time. He watches Jim grow more confident and happier without Frank around to beat him and keep him down. He watches Jim smile more often, hears his laughter all the time, feels his warm hands touching him as they fuck in their new house without worrying about getting caught.
There’s already blood on Leonard’s hands, a cheating wife and a best friend who betrayed him who ran off together when he found out, poor Doctor McCoy lost everything didn’t he, bodies buried so deep they’ll never be found. He doesn’t mind adding a little more to keep his Jimmy from ever feeling that way. To keep his hands clean.
They get their happy ending.