DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Ingrid Cross and is copyright (c) 1980 by Ingrid Cross. Rated PG. Originally published in Odyssey #4.
No Time for Past Regrets
David Goodine and Ingrid Cross
"Doctor Leonard McCoy?"
The man so addressed turned and saw a young technician watching him. "Yes, what is it?" he asked gruffly.
"It's 0700, sir. The Enterprise is expecting you."
Leonard McCoy glanced out the window once more and sighed. This was it. From this point forward his entire life would change. The USS Enterprise was not his first starship assignment, but it was considerably different than the post he had recently left on the Hood. When he entered the transporter chamber and beamed over to the ship he could see from this window, he would assume the duties of Chief Medical Officer.
The thought was exhilirating. A senior officer aboard one of Star Fleet's finest ships! McCoy followed the lieutenant to the center of the room and stepped onto the transporter pad. His luggage sat beside him, and he made one final check to make certain he had not forgotten anything.
As if they'd wait for me to find a missing suitcase, he thought wryly. Even a CMO is expected to show up on time.
He watched the technician make a last inspection of his board. Get it right. I'm not about to arrive on the Enterprise as a bundle of disassociated molecules.
Finally, the whine of the machine started and McCoy gritted his teeth. Much as he disliked the transporter, at least it was a fast means of getting places. When he blinked and breathed once more, he was on the Enterprise.
McCoy sighed in relief when he realized he had arrived in one piece. He bent to pick up his luggage, straightened and looked up.
He was staring into the impassive features of a devil.
The doctor shook his head quickly, certain he was hallucinating. But no, the being in front of him was unmistakably real and satanic in appearance. The doctor gradually realized he was staring at a Vulcan.
It was quickly apparent this particular Vulcan was displeased about something. "You are Doctor Leonard McCoy?" The tone was frigid and controlled, as though the alien -- a lieutenant commander, McCoy noted by the stripes on the tunic cuffs -- did not approve of McCoy.
The doctor stepped down from the transporter pad and held out his hand. "Yes, I'm Dr. McCoy."
The proffered hand was ignored and McCoy could feel a slow anger beginning deep inside. "I am Spock, ship's First Officer and the science officer. I have been awaiting your arrival, Doctor," Spock said. Although Spock's face conveyed no expression, McCoy got the impression he had been accused of tardiness.
What the hell? McCoy thought, feeling a flush rising from under his collar. He looked pointedly at his wrist chronometer. "I'm only two minutes late," he said, making no attempt at sounding apologetic.
Spock did not reply. Now McCoy realized he was being silently scolded. "Where's the captain?"
Two brown eyes regarded him with the same interest McCoy would have afforded a useless laboratory specimen. "Surely you can understand that the captain is preoccpied with the details of our departure, Doctor. His duties required his presence on the bridge. A logical choice." There was the slightest emphasis on the word 'logical', and McCoy suddenly remembered what little information he had received in Star Fleet Officers Academy about Vu1cans.
Lord, no, he groaned inwardly. I'm gonna be servin' with a walkin' computer for the next five years!
Spock indicated the exit. "My presence on the bridge will be required shortly, Doctor. I will show you to your assigned quarters." He turned away and McCoy began picking up his three bags. There was no offer of assistance. McCoy felt like muttering something. Anything would have done just fine, but he preferred a few, well-chosen profanities.
But then, it probably would not have affected the Vulcan. He'd most likely give me a lecture on 'conduct unbecoming to officers'.
The two left the room at a brisk pace, and McCoy had to struggle to keep up with the First Officer. As they waited for the turbo lift at the end of the corridor, Spock began his lecture.
"Your quarters are on deck five. Officers' dining and recreation rooms are on deck six. Sickbay is on deck seven and--"
The elevator doors opened and McCoy brushed past the Vulcan, leaning his body and the three suitcases against the wall gratefully. "Spare me the guided tour routine, Mr. Spock," he said dryly. "I've served aboard a starship before."
"Indeed. I only thought to refresh your memory."
"Don't," McCoy retorted sharply. "I've only been on leave for two weeks. I'm certain I can remember where everything is on a Constitution class starship." He felt the need to best Spock somehow; his own ego had been taken down several notches. The damned Vulcan was treating him like a recruit! He'd love to take Spock down to Sickbay and cut him open, just to see where the internal refriegeration unit was stored.
Spock ignored the hostile glances the doctor shot in his direction and spoke only when the elevator came to a halt. "I assume, then, you do not require my assistance further?"
McCoy gathered his pride and his luggage and stepped out of the elevator. "No, thank you," he said, attempting to keep his voice sarcastic without becoming downright rude. "I'll manage just fine from here. I'm sure you have more exciting and challenging duties elsewhere."
Spock nodded. "Yes. I will inform the captain you have arrived, Doctor. Good day."
The turbo1ift doors closed before McCoy could think of a reply. He stood in the same spot for a moment, seething. "Just my luck," he muttered, wishing there was someone nearby to hear and sympathize. "I had to be assigned to one of the few ships in the Fleet with a Vulcan aboard. Worse than that, the Vulcan is a senior officer, too."
Still stinging from the impersonal greeting and the subsequent exchange, McCoy turned and looked both ways down the corridor. Crewmembers passed by, offering smiles and brief nods. McCoy felt completely disoriented, but refused to ask for help.
Which way to his quarters? On the Hood, he had been in officers' territory, but his room had been in a different section of the ship than those of the senior officers'. Now, the encounter with Spock still fresh and completely at odds with himself, he had to think carefully about which direction to take. He finally chose a left turn.
Thankfully, he soon found the door marked "McCoy, L. Chief Medical Officer". Once inside, he quickly unpacked the most essential belongings and set off for the Sickbay, anxious to assume charge of the one area on the Enterprise which would be his private domain. Privately, he hoped he would not have to see the First Officer for at least three days. By that time, he would have had enough time to cool down.
* * *
Leonard McCoy found Sickbay with only a small amount of confusion. He stood in the middle of the large wardroom and let his anger toward Spock dissipate slowly.
This section, from the wards to the biolabs, was his own territory, his area of authority. Aboard the Hood, he had served as second medical officer and been allotted limited chores with a modicum of responsibility. But here, he would oversee the entire medical department and be completely responsible for the health of this crew.
The sense of power became overwhelming for a moment. McCoy realized his scope of authority extended as far as the captain's. And, in some circumstances, he had more power than the captain. The chief medical officer had to constantly be in touch with the captain to keep abreast of the man's fitness. That thought brought to mind several items on a mental checklist.
McCoy looked around and then stepped into the lab adjoining the ward. He saw a tall woman taking inventory at the far end of the room. She wore a blue uniform, and he hoped this was one of his nurses.
"Excuse me," McCoy said hesitantly.
The woman turned.
"I'm Doctor Leonard McCoy, the CMO."
She was next to him quickly. "Christine Chapel, Doctor. I'm your head nurse."
McCoy appraised her critically. When he had checked his staff roster, he had noticed Chapel's credentials admiringly. She held a PhD in research biology and was considered to be one of the finest nurses in the Fleet. And judging by her voice, she was friendly. He felt he stood in the middle of an oasis.
"You're one of the first people I've actually met, Nurse," he smiled as they shook hands.
Chapel seemed puzzled. "Really? That must have been because everyone was too busy with departure duties," she explained. "I'm sure you'll get to know the crew soon. We're a friendly bunch."
"I'm afraid I've already had the pleasure -- and I say that lightly -- of meeting one officer," McCoy said ruefully.
"Who was that?"
"The first officer. Mr. Spock."
Chapel laughed in sudden understanding. "Our resident Vulcan? Yes, I can see how you might have received a less than warm greeting. You'll get used to him, too."
McCoy sincerely doubted it. "I'd like to set up some appointments for physicals, Nurse."
She picked up a clipboard and stylus. "How can I help?"
McCoy rubbed his forehead thoughtfully. "Captain Kirk should be first, I suppose. I'd like to see his medical records before I meet him." He phrased his next question carefully. "What's he like, anyway? All I've heard about James Kirk are reports that sound like Star Fleet P.R. releases."
The nurse nodded solemnly. "It does sound impossible for a man of 34 to have accomplished that much, doesn't it? Well, you might as well believe everything you've heard, Doctor. It's all true."
The doctor hoped not. The publicity most often associated with Captain James T. Kirk painted the picture of a living legend. McCoy knew the Enterprise was Kirk's first starship command, but his past experiences were awesome, to say the least. McCoy began to worry. First a living, breathing block of ice for First Officer and now a legend in command of this ship, depressed for a moment. Then he straightened his shoulders resolutely. Legend or not, James Kirk was required to appear for a physical examination.
"Nurse, I want you to set up an appointment with the captain for an hour from now."
Chapel nodded. "Yes, Doctor. I'll take care of that immedicately." She left the room, presumably heading for an intercom unit.
McCoy glanced at the chronometer on a table and decided to check out his office. He had some time before his commanding officer arrived, and he thought he would use the time to check the man's records.
* * *
The chief surgeon finished reading the tape in the viewer and turned it off. All the background information and medical history necessary for McCoy's examination of Kirk had been on that tape. Now all that remained was to actually meet Kirk.
McCoy took another look at the time. "Damn," he said softly. On top of everything else today, Kirk was an hour late. He debated calling the bridge and asking the communications officer where the captain could be, then decided to wait a little longer. Perhaps Kirk had been unavoidably delayed; he would probably shot up shortly.
The data recently read went through McCoy's mind again. He had already assumed that Kirk was in good physical condition, and he had been proven correct. McCoy could see only one problem with the exam: the captain's weight had a tendency to fluctuate without proper supervision. It might be necessary to put him on a strict diet.
He tapped his fingers against the table top impatiently. As much as he was willing to allow a reasonable amount of time to pass before getting angry over a delayed appointment, it was difficult to just sit here, doing nothing. Leonard McCoy prided himself on his own promptness and expected the same of everyone else. This seemed to be one time when his expectations would be disappointed.
He reached for the intercom. "Sickbay to Bridge."
A woman answered. "Lieutenant Uhura here."
Conscious he was making a first impression, McCoy chose his words carefully. "This is Doctor McCoy, Lieutenant. I'm expecting the captain for a physical exam."
Uhura sounded harried. "I'll relay your message to the captain, sir." The connection remained open and McCoy could hear her repeating his message.
Then, as clearly as if McCoy stood beside the captain, the reply came. "Tell him I'm too busy to go down there right now, Uhura."
McCoy could not believe what he had just heard. "Doctor, Captain Kirk said--"
"I heard what he said, Lieutenant!" McCoy closed the channel with a savage gesture and stood, angry once more. "He's too busy, eh? Well, he won't be too busy to talk with me when I get up there!" He left the Sickbay at a fast pace, nearly knocking Christine Chapel over as she was coming in. She watched her superior disappear into a turbo lift and began to worry as she realized he was extremely upset over something.
* * *
The elevator came to a halt and McCoy took a deep breath, not sure what to expect when he entered the bridge. What met his eyes was a scene of carefully orchestrated chaos.
He saw a black woman on his right as he stepped into the nerve center of the Enterprise. She glanced up to see who had entered the room and looked momentarily disturbed. McCoy glared at her and she glanced down at his sleeve, checking the rank against the blue uniform shirt.
"Doctor McCoy?" she asked tentatively.
He nodded once and caught sight of Spock at his station. The Vulcan had not noticed his entrance, however, since he was occupied with the computer. McCoy searched for James Kirk, not an easy task since he was not exactly sure who the man was.
His search stopped at the command chair. An older man with craggy features, wearing the red shirt of Supportive Services and the stripes of a lieutenant commander, was talking to someone seated in the chair. The discussion appeared to be serious, judging by the look on the older man's face.
"Listen, Scotty!" came a voice from the person in the chair. McCoy could not see him as the chair was turned away from his line of sight. "I don't care how you do it; I want those results on my desk within the hour. Do you understand?"
"Aye, Captain," Scotty sighed, his brogue catching McCoy's attention. "I understand." As the officer stepped aside, a yeoman handed a report to the man seated.
McCoy covered the short distance with two long strides and stood beside the captain's chair, hands on hips. The yeoman looked up, startled, but the commander had not yet noticed McCoy's presence.
"Captain Kirk?" McCoy asked, his voice barely under control.
The man in the gold shirt finally looked up. McCoy was surprised; although he had known Kirk's age, he had never expected to find the man to be so young-looking.
Kirk's forehead puckered as he frowned. "Yes?"
"You were due in Sickbay an hour ago, Captain!" McCoy continued to glare at Kirk, determined to sustain his anger. There was no way the man could excuse away this exam! Star Fleet required it and McCoy was going to see that the rules were followed.
Comprehension dawned at last in Kirk's eyes. "You're Doctor... ah...McBride?" asked Kirk.
"McCoy," a voice offered from behind the captain. McCoy looked over at Spock, who watched the proceedings with great interest. The correction, whether meant helpfully or not, did not sit well with the doctor. He favored Spock with a glare, too.
"It's McCoy, Captain."
"My apologies, Doctor," said Kirk, indicating the report lying on his lap. "But we've had some trouble with some readings down in Engineering and it required my attention. What can I do for you?"
"I want to talk to you. Now," McCoy added firmly when it seemed Kirk would remain seated.
The captain and medical officer locked looks for a long moment and the captain finally came to a decision. He handed the report to the yeoman who still remained at his side, stood and said, in a tone of displeasure, "All right. But make it fast, Doctor." Kirk led the way to the far corner of the bridge and stood waiting for McCoy to speak, his posture clearly indicating his impatience.
"According to Star Fleet regulations, section 6, paragraph 3, as chief medical officer aboard this vessel I am required to examine the captain and ascertain fitness for command," said McCoy tightly. "The appointment I set up with you earlier was missed by an hour. Not only do I consider that inexcusable, but I would be forced to make an official report stating you refused to meet that appointment. Do I make myself clear, sir?"
Kirk's eyes widened perceptibly and McCoy waited for the answer, matching the captain's glare. When the captain spoke, McCoy realized his commanding officer was close to the boiling point. "I will be there, Doctor. But an hour would be the earliest I could make it."
McCoy shook his head. Who the hell does he think he is? he sputtered inside. He knows the damned regulations require this! "You will accompany me now, sir, or I will call Security."
Now there was no question about it: James Kirk was angry. A quick thought flashed through McCoy's mind. If he was a dragon, I'd be incinerated where I stand. Kirk's hazel eyes were cold, snapping.
"Fifteen minutes, Doctor. That is the best I can do." With that, Kirk turned on his heels and stalked back to his post, reaching for the same report from the yeoman. He sat in his chair and pointedly ignored the physician.
McCoy was furious. That was certainly not the way he had expected to be treated! He looked over at Spock, and although the Vulcan had not turned in his chair, McCoy was certain Spock had heard every word of the conversation, even though the doctor had lowered his voice. Insult not added to injury, McCoy decided that the best offense would be a retreat ... before he said something he would most definitely regret later. He just barely reached the safety of the elevator before he muttered the phrases he had wanted to voice on the bridge.
Captain James Kirk, unbeknownst to Leonard McCoy, was seething, too. By the gods of war! Just who does he think he is? Can't the man understand I can't drop everything just for a blasted physical? he fumed. He was beginning to get a good idea of his CMO: a potential troublemaker.
The others on the bridge avoided their captain for the next fifteen minutes. Kirk waited until the quarter of an hour had passed exactly before standing calmly, straightening his tunic and moving to the turbolift. "Mr. Spock, you have the conn."
As the doors opened silently, Kirk thought with some satisfaction, Too bad McCoy wasn't there to see that those fifteen minutes weren't exactly the busiest moments of my career...
* * *
Leonard McCoy adjusted the medi-scanner and passed it over Kirk's chest. He was beginning to wonder about the man lying on the table before him. The captain had been very quiet since the examination began thirty minutes earlier. McCoy, although curious about this development, remained silent, too. He was trying to decide if Kirk was feeling guilty or trying to sustain his anger.
"Breathe deeply," the doctor instructed Kirk. The captain obliged and McCoy continued his introspective self-examination.
He was still fuming about the incident on the bridge, although not with as much intensity as when he returned to Sickbay. The worst thing about the entire matter was that this day was rapidly becoming first on the list of "My Worst Possible Day". It was a helluva way to begin a new phase of one's career. McCoy automatically noted the results of the tests on his clipboard and started with the vital signs.
He had to admit to feeling a little guilty, too. After all, he couldn't have created a good first impression on the captain. But he knew I was right, McCoy argued with himself. It's in the regulations. I was just tryin' to do my job. What's so bad about that?
Something caught McCoy's attention and he retraced his last steps to discover the problem. Absorbed in his work, it took several seconds to realize the captain had addressed him.
"Where are you from, Doctor?"
"Hmmm? Oh, Atlanta. Georgia." McCoy devoted his full attention to the board again.
Kirk seemed to be fishing for the right words to say. "I'm from Iowa myself. I've never been to Georgia."
"A pity," replied McCoy dryly. "It could have been an educational trip." The folks down South could have taught you a lot. Like the proper way to treat new folks in your territory. He decided to abandon this particular phase of the testing and return to it later.
"The stress test is next, Captain." McCoy watched as Kirk gave him an exasperated look and silently obeyed the order. The indicators on the monitor looked good and McCoy noted the results on the chart. He switched off the machine and motioned toward the next machines.
Kirk seemed to be ... tolerating the entire proceedings! That irked the doctor considerably. He felt completely exhausted and fed up with everyone and everything. And it was only his first day aboard the ship.
"Fine, Captain," said the doctor, keeping his voice professional, while silently wondering how long it would take to get used to this man and his right-hand Vulcan. He decided he would be fair and give the opposition a week. That's enough time to either kill each other or declare a truce, McCoy thought, feeling equitable about the decision. "I just have to recheck something and then you're free to go."
Kirk glanced over at him, suspicious.
"I'm not sure." McCoy reset the instruments on the scanner above the bed. "Get up here again, please."
For a moment McCoy was afraid that Kirk would balk. Then, shrugging eloquently, the man hopped onto the bed and laid back with an air of resignation.
McCoy watched the indicators carefully and nearly shouted when he discovered that his initial readings had been correct. "There, I thought so," he muttered.
McCoy tossed the captain's gold shirt at him and finished writing. He talked as he wrote, watching Kirk out of the corner of his eye. "Your blood pressure is up slightly and your heartbeat is a bit accelerated, Captain. Having any unusual problems lately?"
James Kirk opened his mouth to speak and then shut it quickly, obviously uncertain how to interpret McCoy's question. McCoy held his breath; he had chosen those words to ascertain whether this was the right time to offer a truce.
Finally, Kirk realized that McCoy had been only half-serious. "Oh," he answered slowly, pulling the shirt over his head. "Just one problem in particular."
The two officers smiled slightly at each other and Kirk held out his hand. McCoy, after a moment's hesitation, took the hand and shook briefly. There was a resounding 'crack!' before the doctor removed his hand from the clasp.
"What the hell was that?" Kirk asked.
McCoy massaged his knuckles with his left hand as he spoke. "Oh, just my old bones."
Kirk jumped down from the bed and the scanners automatically shut off. "Your old bones, eh?" he repeated softly.
The doctor picked up a computer tape and inserted it into the nearby console. "I should have the results of the examination by this evening, Captain. Want me to call you when I have them?"
"No, that's all right," Kirk replied, walking to the exit. "I'll come by after the fifth watch and see how I did for myself. Thanks anyway."
McCoy was wondering why the captain hesitated at the worrying how long he could maintain a gruff exterior when finally stepped close enough to the door for it to open. "That wasn't so bad," the captain offered.
The doctor only nodded in affirmation.
Kirk hesitated a moment longer, then a grin started at the corners of his mouth. "I'll see you later ... Bones," he said clearly, loud enough so that McCoy was sure to hear. Then, laughing heartily at his own remark, Kirk ducked out the door before McCoy had a chance to react.
Shocked, McCoy repeated to himself, "Bones?" For a second, he could feel anger preparing to assault him. Then he had to lean against the exam table as the laughter started to bubble up from inside and continued for the next ten minutes.