DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Cheree Cargill and is copyright (c) 2007 by Cheree Cargill. This story is Rated PG.
OBSESSION: THE CORRECT QUESTIONS
Stardate: 3621.3, Personal Log, First Officer Spock recording.
I found Dr. McCoy at work in his office and asked, "May I speak with you, Doctor?"
"Sure, Spock. Drag up a chair." He was dressed in his medical duty tunic and, from the serious expression on his face, I surmised that I had interrupted him in the midst of his day's work.
I remained standing. "Thank you, Doctor. This won't take long."
"I came to inquire if you have closed your Medical Log entry on the Captain yet?"
"Not yet. I'm in the process of drafting my report right now."
I nodded. "May I ask then what you intend to report on the Captain's medical condition?"
McCoy leaned back in his chair and regarded me cooly with an expression I'd heard Nurse Chapel call his "cat face" -- eyes half-closed, gaze direct and piercing, as if he were a feline sizing up a mouse before pouncing. At last he answered. "Spock, you know better than to ask me to breach doctor-patient privilege. Jim's medical records are strictly confidential ... just like yours are."
"I do not ask out of idle curiosity, Dr. McCoy," I responded with a like amount of steel in my voice. "I am speaking here as the First Officer to the Chief Medical Officer regarding the Commanding Officer's fitness for command. You know perfectly well that I have a right and obligation to discuss this with you."
McCoy was silent for a few seconds, then nodded. "Agreed. But please sit down, Mr. Spock. I hate looking up at someone when I talk to them." I accepted this time and seated myself across the desk from him. "Now, what do you want to know? Within bounds of confidentiality, of course."
"I wish more information regarding the Human psychological condition termed 'obsession'. I do not comprehend all of the nuances involved," I said.
McCoy nodded again. "Well, you would probably get more information by talking to Starfleet Medical, but then again you might get too much information. You might end up thinking Jim is fruity as a nutcake when he most definitely is not."
"Nutcake? I do not understand."
"Nothing. What do you know about obsession?"
"That it is the Human drive after a single purpose to the exclusion of all else," I replied.
"More or less," the doctor answered. "There is a lot more to it than that. Obsessive thinking can be anything from a determination to do something, which can be a very good thing -- it's one of the things that makes Jim a damn good commanding officer -- or it can devolve into obsessive-compulsive disorder and on into psychosis. Jim's obsession with this cloud creature was somewhere in between. We all have obsessions, Mr. Spock. Even you. The obsessive drive to be über-Vulcan, for instance."
"I do not agree, Doctor. I have no obsessions--"
"No? Well, then we'll just schedule a series of psychological profiles and see what we can find in that stubborn noggin of yours!"
I stiffened. "That is not necessary," I stated icily.
McCoy chuckled, although the seriousness did not quite leave his eyes. I could tell that my next medical exam would likely include just such mentioned tests. He returned to the subject at hand. "Anyway, obsessive thinking is an emotional defense to help us disassociate from the emotional pain we were experiencing. What sort of emotionally traumatic things can you think of in Jim's past that might have led to this?"
I thought for a moment. "The massacre on Tarsus IV, which he narrowly escaped. The deaths of his captain and crewmates on the Farragut. The death of his brother and sister-in-law on Deneva. The loss of Edith Keeler." There were many other instances, but those stood out in my mind.
"Exactly. Jim's emotional defense, and his weak point, is his obsession that he can fix things and make them right. It's what drives him as a commanding officer. He utterly believes that he is doing the right thing when he makes a decision, particularly a command decision. Most of the time it is right, but other times, the emotional baggage gets in the way. You see, he has been able to handle the trauma of Tarsus IV because he exposed Kodos' cover as the actor Karidian and thereby obtained some sort of posthumous justice for all those murdered by Kodos. He was able to see to the destruction of the Denevan parasites, thereby obtaining justice for all those killed or injured on that planet. And he's taken over guardianship of his orphaned nephew as the just thing to do for his late brother. Even with Edith Keeler, he has been able to deal with that loss because allowing to happen what had to happen saved billions of lives and this ship. In effect, in all those cases, Jim 'fixed' things."
"I see. But the Farragut incident--"
"Bingo. The Farragut had not yet been 'fixed'. Until, that is, Jim encountered the cloud creature once again and went after it, seeking justice for his dead comrades. Well, the creature is destroyed and Jim's subconscious is satisfied. He knew that his actions were irrational and that he was seriously jeopardizing our mission to deliver those medical supplies, but his subconscious would not allow him to do otherwise."
"And your evaluation of his fitness for command then?" I asked the pertinent question.
McCoy took a deep breath and once again regarded me with his feline expression. "I intend to report that I am satisfied that this was a relatively minor incident, subject to further exploration and examination of the Captain's psyche. Jim is a damn fine commanding officer and I am not going to scuttle his career by obsessing--" He smiled a little, sardonically. "--on his obsessions. Oh, I fully intend to run all those psych profiles I mentioned. I want to find out what other demons are lurking down there at the bottom of his brain. But, meanwhile, my medical log is closed on the incident."
I nodded thoughtfully. "So you do not believe this is cause for concern on Starfleet Command's part?"
"No. We all have demons, Spock. They used to call them 'monsters from the ID'. Old Freudian term. Every single Human being has them. And I expect Vulcans do, too, as I said. The problem happens when those monsters get loose and run wild. As long as they're kept chained up, we all live happily ever after."
I rose. "Thank you, Doctor. I shall file my report in accordance with yours. Good day."
I exited his office and made my way through sickbay toward the corridor. In doing so, I happened to glimpse Nurse Chapel attending to a patient and a vision flashed through my mind that made me distinctly uncomfortable. It involved a bowl of soup and raised voices.
I intended to keep that particular monster chained as long as possible.