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Passable?  Passable?!?  I’ll give that walkin’ computer passable.”

In the bedroom, Jim could hear his husband talking to himself while tapping in the door access code, at least three times.  Punching was a better word for it.  They would be lucky if the security system didn’t need repairs.


The bedside rotating holo compilation vibrated so much from the slam of the old-fashioned front door that the image jumped two frames.  Bones insisted on renting a house with a swinging door for their extended leave on Earth.  Now Jim knew why.  It was a non-verbal way to rant. 

The verbal rant continued as Doctor Leonard H. McCoy, stomped into the living room.

“Somethin’ cain’t be PASSABLE when there’s no standard to compare it to.  ‘Course the procedure was passable ‘CAUSE NO ONE’S EVER DONE IT IN A HUMAN BEFORE!” 

Pause for breath.

“Jim?  You here?”

Captain James T. Kirk, Hero of the Federation, recipient of the Medal of Valor and the Palm Leaf of Axanar Peace Mission, seriously contemplated not coming out of the bedroom. 

Since he didn’t have a phaser on stun setting handy, Jim determined that being stunning was the best protection from the Doctor of Doom mojo Bones had going on.  As he put on the I’m so happy to see the love of my life face, he threw off his henley to leave only a temptingly thin t-shirt over his jeans. 

Now he was prepared to face the Kling-…uh…music.  Come to think of it, Bones’ yelling might be Klingon music.  Uhura would know.

Done stalling, Jim rounded the corner from the bedroom into the living room and approached his man with open arms. “I’m here, my Bones!  Rough surgery?”

“Hell, no!”  The doctor waved his blue-clad arms in emphasis and Jim veered off from an embrace.  Too soon to hug the porcupine.

“Surgery was fine ‘cause we fucking did it!”  It was uncharacteristic of Bones to take a victory lap, even though he deserved to do so more times than Jim could remember.  So, something else was going on.

Jim waited for the other shoe to drop.  …three…two…one…

“But that First Officer of yours is gonna need surgery the next time I see ‘im!  I’ve learned a trick or two about wrastlin’ Vulcans, tryin’ to keep him alive almost as many times as you.”

Though Jim doubted any human wrastlin’ techniques would be successful against Spock, now was definitely not the time to debate such things.  He wanted to have sex with his husband sometime during this extended leave, thank you very much.

“I’m missing something here, Bones.  What has Spock got to do with your surgery today?”

“Before I get ta that, I need a drink of the good stuff.  Somethin’ passable, as that ingrate would say.” 

Revolutionary surgery.  Spock.  Passable.  It all became clear.  Jim turned around and yelled over his shoulder, so the person he respected most in the universe couldn’t see him trying to control a smile. 

“Let me play bartender, Bonesy, while you sit down and take your boots off.”  Jim made sure to show off his assets walking away.  “McCoy single malt, coming right up.”

Jim could hear Len settling himself on the couch, the end with line of sight into the kitchen.  The thump of shoes hitting the floor followed. 

The bartender was well aware of his customer’s location as he bent down for a while to rummage around in the lower cabinets for the best bourbon, which was hiding in plain sight.  Finally retrieving it, he poured a single for himself and a double for his distressed doctor.  Jim strolled back into the living room, as a pair of hazel eyes followed him.

“Best lookin’ bartender I ever saw,” was Len’s first statement at a normal volume since he walked up to the front door. 

Operation: Stun the Doctor of Doom mission accomplished.

Jim handed over the whiskey with a wink, “I know,” and settled at the other end of the couch with a subtle shimmy.

The wedding ring on Bones’ left hand glinted like the light in his eyes as he pulled the tumbler in for a sip.

“Alright, Bones.  A man can tell his sexy bartender things he can’t tell his therapist.  What happened?”

“I was enjoyin’ the view, but you’re right – I gotta get this off my chest.”  Len took another sip.  “Remember those medical people on Kalin II?” 

Jim nodded, “Yeah. You were pretty impressed with them.”

“I was and still am.  They use an unusual perfusion technique in their surgeries that would accelerate tissue functionality and improve outcomes for lots of patients, if we could adapt it for different species.  In most humanoids, the central nervous system has the least elasticity and is the hardest to grow for transplantation.  This technique gives a complex neural graft a fightin’ chance to become functional.”

“So, this technique could help someone with damage to their spinal cord, like Pike.”

“Exactly!  Since Kalin II, Geoff M’Benga and I have been working on adaptation of the Kalin technique for neural grafts in humans and Vulcans, the species we’re most familiar with.  Since the perfusate ain’t no good if it cain’t be delivered to the graft, we asked Spock and Scotty to help with the technology.”

Bones emptied his glass and placed it on the coffee table, continuing with his story.

“Geoff and I went through the sims and revisions with Doctor Boyce at SFM.  Just before our return to Earth, we got approval for trials in patients.  Today, we had our first surgery using the Kalin technique.  Spock and Scotty were invited to observe.”

“Let me guess: Spock observed, but Scotty declined.”

“That’s right.  For a whisky drinker, Scotty has a surprisin’ly weak stomach.  At any rate, the graft was transmittin’ almost a perfect signal before we were even finished with the surgery!  That young man is gonna walk so well in a few months, only him and his doctor will be able to tell his spinal cord was severed!”

“You’re the best, Bones.”

“It wasn’t just me, it was a team effort.  But Spock pissed me off!  When I asked him afterwards what he thought of the surgery, he said it was passable!  How can it be just passable when it’s never been done before?!” 

Jim thought for a moment.  “Bones, what if the standard he’s comparing it to isn’t the procedure, it’s the person?”

“What does that even mean, Jim?”

“What if the surgery was passable compared to all the life-saving things you’ve done?”

 “I cain’t believe that.”

“This young man was not going to die, right?”

“Right.  The surgery wasn’t about saving his life – his vitals were stable – it was about saving his pre-accident quality of life.”

“From the point of view of a Vulcan, maybe quality of life doesn’t have the same significance as quantity of lives – whether someone lives or dies.”

“If we’re talking about Vulcan, I need another drink.”

“Is that just an excuse to look at my ass again?”

“Will it work?”  Len’s voice made clear that he looked forward to the getting of the drink more than the drink itself. 

Because there’s nothing sexier than being desired, Jim jumped right up to bartend again and took his time while being ogled.

After pecking Bones on the lips and settling in a little closer together with a second drink, Jim continued, “You’ve saved so many lives with surgeries and treatments that the gift of life is the standard.  Walking unaided is a bonus.”

After a few moments, Bones chuckled.  “No wonder you’re the most successful captain in Starfleet history for negotiatin’ treaties.  Your diplomacy skills are somethin’ else.  I’m a doctor, not a diplomat, so I still don’t cotton to what Spock said.  But thanks for comin’ up with a way to settle things between a stiff-necked Vulcan and a stubborn doctor.”  He gave Jim a side eye with a wicked grin.  “It’s passable diplomacy, so I’m willin’ to stand down about the comment, for your sake.”

Jim returned the grin with a blinding smile.  He nimbly straddled his husband’s lap so that neither of them spilled a drop of the good stuff (which would have meant the Return of the Doctor of Doom) and gently ground their hips together.  “As long as a certain part of you stands up, for my sake.” 

They finished their drinks in the soft silence of sentiment and sensuality that needs no words.

When their whiskey was gone, Jim placed the glasses on the table behind him.  Leaning in again, he whispered in his love’s ear, “Don’t forget to tip your bartender, especially if the therapy was passable.” 

A low voice rumbled in return, “I’ll give you more than just the tip, darlin’.”  Jim’s heart still skipped a beat at the promise of lovemaking from this dedicated and passionate man, a thrill that hadn’t faded with the passage of years.  After deep kisses that left them both coming up for air, Jim started to get up, moving in the direction of the bedroom.

One of Len’s hands came up to cup Jim’s cheek, gently coaxing his head around so their eyes locked.

“The gift of life is our standard.  You gave me yours and I gave you mine.  I’d do it again and again and again – because you’re unsurpassable.”