DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Johanna Cantor and is copyright (c) 1974 by Johanna Cantor. Rated G. Originally published in Tal-Shaya #3, 1974.
I'm Not Dead Yet!
McCoy blinked, trying to bring the print on the reader into focus, then unobtrusively leaned his head on his hand. It wasn't enough, so he dropped his head, clasping his hands behind his neck. The dizziness began to clear. Gradually he became aware of the silence in Sickbay -- deserted except for a sleeping patient and himself. Probably his staff were all down at the lab. They had some experiment cooking there whose nature they hadn't seen fit to reveal to their chief medical officer. McCoy sat up and leaned back, fighting the nausea caused by the bitterness in his mouth.
"Dammit!" he said aloud. "I'm not dead yet!"
This would never do. After all, he told himself, it was quite usual for the medical staff to be working on research projects -- in his last report he had proudly listed over thirty publications. They'd tell him about it sooner or later. Probably he hadn't been at his most approachable in the weeks since his return from Yonada.
His thoughts strayed to a tall, queenly woman with a deep bosom to cradle an aching head...
He jerked back and swore at himself. He'd known since this morning that today would be a bad one, but this was the worst he'd yet experienced. Well, better be sensible. He checked the patient's readings -- no problem there -- and buzzed the lab to signal for a nurse to cover sickbay. Crossing to Christine's office, he picked up a memo board and scrawled: "Chris -- I'm off for a nap -- want to be fresh for the Ktildo Gala tonight -- see you there." He initialed the memo with a flourish, squared his shoulders, smiled, and entered the crowded corridor in a passable imitation of his usual jaunty stride.
* * *
The noise of a group in the hallway woke him. "Change of shift," he thought and groped for his chronometer. Good. If he'd slept through dinner, his staff would have been alarmed. As he lay still trying to gather the force of character to get up, his buzzer sounded. "Undoubtedly Mother Hen Chapel," he thought as he activated the door.
"Come in, Jim." McCoy swung his legs off the bed.
"Am I disturbing you?"
"Not at all. I was just getting up."
"How are you?"
"Can't complain. Can I sell you a drink?"
McCoy punched the code of his cabinet, poured a brandy for the Captain, then nobly measured out a small tranya for himself. The instructions M'Benga had issued with his last prescription had been apologetic but firm . "Mud in your eye."
The Captain's reply was cut short by the intercom.
"Spock here, Doctor. Would you come to Bio Lab C? I think you might be interested in an experiment we have just completed."
"Spock, what the hell's going on down there? It sounds like an Aurelian mating dance."
"It rather looks like one, Doctor." Spock's tone clearly conveyed his opinion of such carrying on.
"Sounds exciting. I'll be right down."
"What have they been working on?" Jim asked.
"Haven't a clue." McCoy spoke rather brusquely, then caught himself. "But they've been working on something down there for almost a month. If that was M'Benga whooping like that, it must be pretty exciting."
Kirk was silent, his throat constricting by sudden hope. Wishful thinking? Maybe. But what else would they hide from McCoy for so long?
* * *
Christine hardly waited for them to get out of the elevator before throwing herself into McCoy's arms, laughing and crying at once. Instantly they were surrounded by the chattering, excited group of medical staff and lab technicians.
"Mr. Spock!" McCoy appealed to the one sane-looking member of the party. "What--"
"Spock found it!"
"Three cheers!" M'Benga whooped.
Spock waited for the retorts to stop ringing before attempting to speak. "As you may remember, Doctor, the people of--"
"We've found a cure for xenopolycythemia!" three people shouted in unison.
"A cure!" McCoy swayed, and was instantly steadied on all sides.
"Mr. Spock found it in the Fabrini archives. We've been testing it ever since. It works!"
"Three cheers for Mr. Spock!"
"Please." Spock's protest was cut short by the demented noise. McCoy took the moment to pull himself together.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"We were reluctant to raise hopes which might prove groundless, Doctor. However, we have now tested the Fabrini method."
"What is it?"
"If you will come this way?" Spock unobtrusively slid his arm under McCoy's, and the doctor leaned on it gratefully as Spock led him to a table covered with an impressive array of apparatus. He showed McCoy the Fabrini text and translated it, then explained how they had synthesized and tested the drug. "Of course," he concluded, "it has not yet been tested on a human. However, I estimate 92.7 per cent probability of success."
"Spock--" McCoy heard his voice tremble and stopped for a deep breath. "Commander, " he said steadily, "you've got a volunteer."