O, were it but my life,
I’d throw it down for your deliverance
As frankly as a pin. (3.1.11)
— Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
Jim finished fastening his jacket, almost fumbling with the task, time now pressing back down on us.
“I’ve got to go,” he said, unnecessarily, looking at me now with considerable concern, which was not how he’d been looking at me only a few minutes before. But I’d already seen that switch flipped, back to Captain mode, back to action, back to saving the day.
He paused long enough to put a hand to my cheek. “I’m going to get us out of here, Hani, I’m…” he broke off, and again in my new-found clarity I could see the two sides wrestling, the man and the captain.
The man came in for one last kiss, fast but definitive, a murmured, “You’re an amazing woman,” before practically bolting out the door.
Words like that, spoken just that way? You want to file them away somewhere safe, someplace where you’ll never forget them.
I stood there in his wake, and wondered if I was going to die.
Reader, you may not believe this, but in that moment, it didn’t really matter.
In a way it never had. The idea of Death had never really scared me. Not my own, anyway. Other people’s yes, fear of having something taken away from me, fear of losing something, someone, in my life. I’d known that terror for sure.
But for myself? I guess I was born with that pre-programmed belief that we’re all on some eternal continuum. Even as a kid I remember thinking of “death” as just one of the many transitions we make. It was like my childish fascination with the dark. I understood that darkness didn’t mean there was nothing there. It just meant we couldn’t see what was there at the moment. Sooner or later the sun would come up again, and all would be revealed. Again.
This wasn’t something I felt comfortable talking about with people, for obvious reasons; certainly not in those days. But the belief was there, and now it remained with me as I put a hand to my belly and almost idly tried to picture what was going on inside me.
In case that sounds just a little too noble to be true, I admit I was very clear about one thing. If it turned out that my body couldn’t fight the thing off, I would make them swear to put me out of my misery when the time came.
In a reverie part hormonal, part metaphysical, I lay back down, and that’s how Bones found me, stretched out, limp in the aftermath of a release I hadn’t had in so very long.
His look mirrored Jim’s as he got straight to business, barely saying hello as he scanned my body, frowning in concentration. He focused on his instruments. I focused on his face, ready to read the first sign of reaction. The man has a hell of a poker face.
In that few minutes of silence, I’m not sure either of us drew a breath. Then, finally, he raised his eyes to mine, relief too great for hide.
“Jim’s clear, Hani. And your body’s doing exactly what we predicted. In fact, here – see for yourself. Absolutely amazing.” He did indeed look utterly fascinated. “Look.” He tilted the screen toward me. It looked kind of like what you’d see through a microscope. I didn’t really know what I was seeing, but he was eager to explain. “See there, those dark cells, that mass… we’re very glad to see that, it means the mass successfully transferred cohesively, from Jim to you. And you can see it, even as we’re watching, you can see it’s dissolving. That’s your body, at the cellular level, attacking the intruder. It’s happening, Hani. It’s working.”
He set his device aside, looked toward the door, then back at me. “I’ve got to let them know. Before we…” He hesitated, then he reached out a hand and laid it flat on my belly. “Absolutely amazing,” he repeated, shaking his head in wonder. His hand lingered, and somehow, subtly, crossed his own invisible line just then, sliding down, as if of its own accord, to rest between my legs. And in the gentle caress, I felt tenderness, awe, and the tingling electricity of desire.
He was gone only a minute before he came back in and sat down beside me. Outside, I knew, Jim and Spock would already be busy planning their next move; freed, so it appeared now, from the specter of their imminent deaths.
“You’re feeling okay?” Bones asked. I nodded with a blush. Okay seemed a guilty understatement.
“So, I said, “This takes a little…pressure off?”
“Well, it just leaves us with some planetary level conspiracies and a hell of a diplomatic problem, but, yes, the signs are definitely promising.” He reached out again, put a hand to my waist. He gave a little laugh, “Oh, Hani, now I feel like I’m just here to take advantage.”
“Leonard McCoy, you of all people know better than that.” Me, back to gentle teasing, feeling my own wave of relief bubbling up. It’s hard to explain, but now that I knew the potency of all of this, I began to ache to hold him, almost like a mother aches to hold her child, fiercely protective, fiercely loving, and sure of her place in the scheme of things.
I never called him by his given name. No one did. I could see that it warmed him. He put a hand to my cheek, and once again, I felt myself flow into a touch.
But this was different, and I let myself, so tentatively at first, have the wonder of that, the distinct smell of him, the texture of his hair, the pattern of beard growth under his smooth-shaven cheek. The way his healing fingers played on my skin.
His energy, too, was so different from Jim’s. If Jim’s element was air, all constant motion, changeable, quixotic and teasing, capable of blowing your house down with a single spontaneous and perfectly targeted breath, Bones was water; fluid, lapping waves against your skin, leaving no surface unexplored, untouched. Not even the remotest crevice could remain dry in its wake.
As we moved in full awareness of the urgency without, I still felt his languid Southern charm like a slow dance on a hot evening, as if there was all the time in the world to get there, as if we already knew every step of the way by heart.
Where Jim had come to me in some tumbled gust of fatalistic abandon and worldly attitude, Bones slid into me like my body was some familiar land he knew well, like some neighborhood bar where he knew everyone would know his name, where he already knew he would feel right at home. Easy, so very easy.
If I felt satisfied after my time with Jim, I was in something of an altered state by the time Bones collapsed and rolled over beside me, both of us covered in sweat.
No time to linger, he briefly let himself touch my body as if memorizing the landscape, before putting himself back together, the uniform sharply re-adjusted. And, of course, back to business, he took new readings, though now there didn’t seem to be any official dividing line between his normal bedside manner and his, well, bedside manner.
Like Jim, Bones was able to flip that switch, back into total medical mode. I smiled, exhausted, thinking how most women would be a little pissed at how fast these guys were able to change like that, leave a girl still catching her breath while they bolted, but, compared to Jim, this new Bones defied categorizing. With one hand he held up the scanner again, now no layer of fabric between patient and physician. He propped the screen against my thigh, so he could read the display while his other hand lay perfectly at home on the soft curve of my hip. I stretched, cat-like, under his touch.
His attention focused more sharply. A short, exhaled laugh. “My god, Hani, I thought it might be possible, theoretically but…”.
At my quizzical look he grinned. “Frankly, I was a bit concerned that the effect of the acidity would be diluted over time, in essence what Spock explained earlier. In which case, it might well be that the cure couldn’t …repeat itself, or not without enough time… between to let your natural stasis return. Of course, time is what we don’t have. But I thought there might be another possibility, and sure enough, I think that’s what’s happening.”
“Darlin’, what are you talking about?” I prodded him, the unexpected endearment rolling spontaneously off my tongue.
His fleeting, pleased smile was his only reaction to that small intimacy. He concentrated on the work at hand. “I think your defense systems, rather than being depleted, are going into hyper-drive. My guess is that, honestly, being exposed to two different men kicked your vagina up into high gear, in a way. That’s very good news for all of us.”
“So,” I relaxed back down beside him, “you’re saying, the more I, uh, embrace you all, the more I reject you?”
“I’d put it a little differently,” Bones replied softly. “The more you… open up, the greater your power to heal.”
Oh. Damn. I could see his keen blue eyes sparkling, as if with tears welling up, or was it only my own? The thing is, I couldn’t demur or contradict this. I could feel my own body, pulsating with an energy that I could barely contain. I couldn’t explain to Bones, couldn’t explain that I simply knew, with a certainty beyond what his instruments could ever register, that this, too, was the playing out of an inevitability that was the music of my life. That this wave engulfed us all, that we were all caught in a web of some larger construction whose far limits I hadn’t even begun to guess at. This sweeping cosmic certainty was so strong…. Reader, It’s almost impossible to describe, this sensation of being flooded with inner electricity, with some clarity of vision that only in hindsight would I think to label, so very inadequately, as “mystical”.
Ah, but Bones only smiled, and sighed, as he briskly stood to leave. “You holding up all right?” he asked, reaching out, just one last time, to brush the hair off my forehead. “Ready for Spock?”
I couldn’t help a little grin, thankful to be re-tethered to earth, however dazed I remained. “Is anyone ready for Spock?” I asked.