Disclaimer: Have never owned Star Trek or Paramount. Copyright 2004 (c) by MySchemingMind. Rated PG.
My Heart Goes Boomity Boom
Walking into sickbay a half an hour late, McCoy carefully refrained from looking in the direction of Christine Chapel, who was putting away the newest shipment of medicine that had arrived that morning. She had only caught the staggering blur of blue of the corner of her eye before it disappeared into his office, but knew instinctively that the man was going to be a bear the entire day.
Less than ten seconds later, McCoy came back out of his office, narrowed his blood shot baby blues and glared across the room at the medical cabinets. After some careful calculations he started forward at a slow pace that built up speed until he arrived at his destination and placed a half-steady hand on the glass cabinet. For a moment he stood still ignoring the waiting look from his Head Nurse, then opened the cabinet and retrieved a full bottle of aspirin then returned to his office in the same fashion.
Two minutes later, Captain James Kirk hesitated while grabbing hold of the doorframe to steady himself and readjust his blurry gaze in the startling bright light of sickbay. Catching the movement of Chapel at the cabinets, he immediately straightened up and strode into the room, absently straightening out any disheveling wrinkles in his dull gold shirt.
Half-turning from the cabinet, Christine raised an eyebrow and pointed towards the dimly lit office, then watched the Captain make his way to the door, again pause before stepping into the more comfortably lit room. When the office door shut, she set the lock on the cabinet and returned to her desk knowing someone was going to have to stay close to an intercom, if anyone wanted to know why the Captain wasn't on the bridge.
Grabbing the back of a chair to re-steady himself again as the office door hissed shut, Kirk grimaced as he ran a hand over his tired face. "What did we do last night?"
"I don't know, Jim. I'm not real sure how I got into my office this morning." Grumbled the Doctor, still trying to open the aspirin bottle he held. "I may have slept here all night for all I know."
Sinking into the chair in slow motion, Kirk winced again when he did finally land. "I was in my own cabin when I came to, but that's about it. Everything after Scotty tried showing Chekov the right way to wear a kilt is a complete and total blur."
"Lucky you." McCoy grunted, tossing the still unopened aspirin bottle on the desk. "You won't be having nightmares of what happened later. It's amazing how when your three sheets to the wind something can be hysterical and the next day while you're dying on your bathroom floor, you wonder why you would even participate in something so asinine. Of course, next week I'll be saying the same thing, so what the hell do I know?"
"Bones, you're talking too much. It's making my head vibrate even more than it already was," Kirk murmured reaching with slightly trembling fingers for the bottle of aspirin.
With amazing amount of gentleness and prudence McCoy laid his forehead on the cool desktop and sighed exhaustedly. "Next year when Scotty decides to throw a party for that grand laddie Robbie Burr again, either shoot him or me."
"I'll save myself a lot of trouble and shoot you both," Kirk decided as the top finally popped open on the aspirin bottle.
Suddenly the desk intercom buzzed causing both men to cringe at the abrasive, loud noise. It was going to be a long painful day.
Rolling his head back and forth on the desktop, McCoy moaned quietly. "Just shoot me now, Jim."
"Doctor." The voice that would've normally sounded benevolent to the two men grated like someone running a metal rake on a concrete road. "When the supplies came in this morning, there was a package for you. I set it off to the side on the shelves, since I knew you would need as much desk space as possible this morning when you came in."
"God, I hate smartass people this early in the morning," groaned the Doctor, slowly lifting his head up from the desktop. "Promise me when I'm gone that you'll make everyday of her life miserable while she's still on this ship."
"Only if I don't die before you," Kirk gurgled, dumping three aspirin into his hand, then reset the bottle back on to the desk.
Squinting around the office, McCoy spotted the box in question sitting at one end of a display case of nineteenth and twentieth century medical books. With the breakneck speed of a half-spiffed sloth, he rolled the chair back then a few feet to the left, pulled the box off the shelf and rolled back to the desk. Setting the twelve inch square box on the desktop, he stared at it with as much enthusiasm as a certain Vulcan Science Officer would stare at an all meat platter.
"I wonder what it is?" he inquired more to himself than anything else.
"You weren't expecting anything?" Kirk asked, perking up about 29 percent as he glanced around for something to take with his aspirin.
"I don't remember expecting anything particular." Blinking at the box before looking up at Kirk, McCoy could only frown even more as he tried to recall anything that he could have done or said before ten o'clock last night.
"Why don't you activate the identification chip? I'm sure that'll help." Kirk pointed out, still scouting around with little hope of at least a crust of bread to use in swallowing the bitter pills.
Giving his friend an irritated look, McCoy moved a few degrees forward in his seat to examine the top of the box. In truth the only thing he felt like doing was having gently, lovely and quiet young lady help him back to his cabin, where he could roll up in his blanket, stuff a couple of pillows into his ears and fall into a deep dreamless oblivious sleep until this time next month.
Finding the tiny flat square button in the top left corner, he pressed it and instantly regretted it when the overly zealous, giddy voice reverberated off the walls surrounding the two men.
"This special gift has been sent just to you! Because you're thought of each day through! You're sweet and kind and loveable, too! That's why we sent this on to you! We hope this Valentine's gift brings you happiness and smiles till your day's are through."
Hand covering the small speaker that the cheerfully, skull-splitting voice was bubbling from McCoy propped his head up with his other hand in agony. "What sick, twisted mind would send something so heinous to me?"
Slowly lowering his hands from his ears, Kirk stared dubiously at the box. "Someone who obviously hasn't been around you for the last fifteen years."
"I don't know if I want to open it or not, if it's going to be that obnoxious already." Slowly rising to his feet, McCoy deactivated the box's seal. "God knows what it could be."
"What me to call security?" suggested the Captain nearly managing a tiny painful smile.
The bleary eyes gave Kirk an ill-humored look before the Doctor started pawing around in the box. Feeling something soft and furry upon the first touch of the object, McCoy pursed his lips silently praying to anything of a holy nature that it wasn't one of those banes of the universe. A tribble. But there wasn't any trilling noises or any body warmth to it and he if he wasn't crazy he thought he could feel a small round ear. Thank the heavens. Deciding it was somewhat safe, as long as they were already in sickbay, he removed it from the box and held it up to look at.
"It's a teddy bear," Kirk exclaimed, the miserable looking smile growing a degree or two at the sight of the pale beige chenille bear. "My God, Bones, somebody sent you a teddy bear."
"Now that's just despicable," grumbled McCoy, giving the ten-inch bear a disgusted look. "What person, in his right mind, would send me anything like this for any reason, let alone Valentine's Day? And Valentine's is what? Three weeks away yet? It's got to be some kinda twisted joke."
Suddenly the stuffed creature came to life in his hands, its cheeks glowing bright red through the chenille fuzz while the head began to tilt from one side to the other. Its hockey stick arms stretched out towards McCoy, while the unmistakable cartoon sound of a heartbeat was being emitted from the little furry chest.
"I love you. You make my heart go boomity-boom," it giggled at the Doctor who was the verge of being physically ill.
"Oh God. That's just sick," he growled,turning his head away from the toy until he was gazing at it from the corner of an appalled eye. "If I ever find out who sent this thing, they're gonna find out what goes boomity-boom."
Finding that it felt like a jackhammer in his head when he laughed, Kirk could only grin at the embarrassment. "Maybe it's from Jocelyn."
An ugly snort was McCoy's first reaction. "If that were the case, lasers would've shot of its eye the minute I picked it up. This is somebody with a real depraved mind."
"What about Joanna?" was the next suggestion, as the Captain contemplated the idea of just swallowing the aspirin whole or chewing them up first.
McCoy started to speak then stopped himself as he shifted his eyes back to the bear. "I suppose it's possible. But it's still just … odd and damned early."
"Who knows, Bones, it might be from last year and finally caught up to us? You know how the personal mail can be if it's not something sent through channels," suggested Kirk miraculously standing up in one sweeping motion and only teetering once, as he decided to hold on to the aspirin until he could get his hands on some tomato juice. "Or possibly she sent early to guarantee it would be here in time for Valentine's Day. You should be thrilled. Bones, it's probably the only thing you'll get."
"Considering the fact that neither one of us can remember anything that happened last night, I wouldn't be too sure you get any roses from anyone from the female gene pool on this ship for the day either," was the caustic retort from the disheveled Doctor as he quickly slipped the teddy bear back into its box.
"You're not going to keep it in here?" asked Kirk trying so sound at least halfway pseudo-surprised as he watched McCoy seal the box back up.
"Are you out of narcissistic mind?" snapped McCoy, regretting it when his head throbbed violently under the strain. "If anyone on this ship came in here and spotted it sitting in the corner of my office, I would never hear the end of it. And I'm not going to go into what that green-blooded back-up computer would say the second he came sauntering in here and saw it. Nope. It's going right into my cabin."
"That pretty well ensures that no one else is going to see it," agreed Kirk trying to focus his eyes on the office chrono.
"For a man who supposedly has a hangover that could kill a full sized Romulan armored mammoth, you really are still quite the comedian, Jim," muttered McCoy, picking up the box and tucking it under his arm. "Now if you'll excuse me, Captain, my office is closed for the rest of the morning and probably the day."
"And why is that, Doctor?" inquired Kirk, taking on a faint authoritative posture. "I have all intention of working my shift today."
"Yes, but then you are the big brave Captain of this ship. You're expected to be the prime example of strength, integrity and goodness. They don't believe that you'd actually have feet of clay, or you won't let them, let's just say," elaborated the Doctor, as he made his way around the desk. "I, on the other hand, am the cantankerous, irascible Chief Medical Officer, who enjoys spending my day forcing people to disrobe down to nothing, then poke and prod them with instruments that they believe are actual medieval torture devices. The only time they want to see me is when they come in here carrying a body part or vital organ in their hands, wanting me to magically put it back for them. And unless that does happen, I am spending the rest of the day in my cabin, where I have my own bottle of industrial strength aspirin, maximum strength antacid and earplugs."
An eyebrow rose along the aching forehead as Kirk watched McCoy pass him on his way to door. "Admit it, Bones, you just want to spend some time alone with your new friend."
Pausing in the office doorway, McCoy glanced back at Kirk with a disturbed exasperation. "There are times I actually wonder why you bother asking a woman out sometimes."
* * *
It was two days later that McCoy finally remembered the package that he had set on his worktable in his cabin. Opening it, he removed the beige teddy bear, wincing again at the little diddy it sang to him as its head moving and cheeks becoming a unsettling crimson color. It hadn't just been the hangover; the damn thing was an atrocity.
After a few moments of thought, he finally decided to sit it on one of the shelves by this desk after a pang of guilt hit his fatherly nature. He was already walking a fine line with his daughter, the last thing he wanted was for her to show up on an off chance and inquire about the lovely Valentine gift she had sent him. It would little shabby to say it was in storage with his chalk board and lunch bucket from his school days.
Taking a step back from the desk, he gave it an introspective look. Of course he couldn't be sure that's who it was from, but it did seem reasonable the more he thought about it. He sure as hell knew Jocelyn hadn't sent it. Then again, the more he really did think about it, the more he wondered who really did send it.
With another step back, he found himself drawn to the small black eyes staring back at him. It was strange for such a supposedly stomach churning cute toy, to have cold beady little eyes. They seem to be staring straight at him with interest. A sinister interest.
Maybe Jocelyn did send it.
The intercom abruptly buzzed, jarring McCoy enough that he fidgeted as he glanced around to see if anyone had seen him jump. A move that made him feel even more idiotic in his cabin, by himself, as he walked over and flipped the intercom switch.
"Bones, you do plan on attending our first briefing on the Dolcrockian agenda. Because it would be nice if someone from the medical staff would be here just in case while they were onboard my ship an emergency suddenly came up," Kirk growled through the intercom, making it quite apparent that he was already feeling some heat from the small Federation group that had set up the whole thing. "Or would you rather have all of us come down to your cabin?"
"I'm on my way, Jim," sighed the Doctor then switched the intercom off, his gaze flickering back up at the bear again. "And you. I expect to find my cabin exactly as it is when I come back."
The cheeks began to glow again as the small head slanted off to the left, its little black eyes glittering after him as McCoy ducked out his cabin door. "You make my heart go boomity-boom."
* * *
Early the next morning, after a night of tossing and turning, McCoy tracked down Uhura just leaving the cafeteria. Under his arm he carried the small box that had contained the diabolical bear that was taking residence in his cabin.
A little surprised by his half-asleep appearance, Uhura deposited her tray back at the food processor while listening to his request.
"All I want to know is if you can track down who could've sent this to me?" he asked gesturing towards the box.
A delicate eyebrow rose as she gazed at the box. "You mean, there was no identification of who the sender was at all?"
"Yes Lieutenant, there was. But with the spare time I have, I'm working part time with Star Fleet's shipping services in the customer services department. These day's I'm working on the reliability factors of backtracking any packages sent out to see if they keep records of everything coming and going, because some Vulcan got ticked off when his harp showed up without of its strings," snapped the Doctor shoving the box at the woman. "Can you do it?"
"Well, yes. Of course Doctor." She barely was able to managed taking the small box from the insisting McCoy. "Are you sure you're all right this morning?"
"Fine. Bear awake all night, though."
With that explanation he promptly walked out of the cafeteria, leaving Uhura standing in front of the food processor holding the small box with a completely bemused and troubled look on her face.
* * *
Two and half weeks later, Kirk stormed down the corridor towards McCoy's cabin trying to control his temper which was difficult to do when wearing a dress uniform that had a collar already cutting off the oxygen supply. Snarling several strings of incoherent words, he brushed past crewmembers that were more than a little startled at their Captain's lack of amenities, considering there were Federation members aboard and a delegation from Dolcrock beaming aboard any minute.
Punching the door chimes outside of McCoy's hard enough to make the switch stick, Kirk stood waiting for the Doctor to answer. He had his short, point blank, searing words all planned from the second he made up his mind to tell McCoy face-to-face instead of having everyone in the transporter room hear. The last thing he needed was to have a roomful of witnesses at his trial for murdering a fellow officer.
The speech was gone, however, when the door opened and a haggard looking McCoy stood in the doorway. He had managed to pull on his dress uniform, but he needed some work yet by the wrinkles and the fact that he had missed a snap as he was dressing so it pouched out a little around his chest. Pale, drawn and hair looking like a dried out hay stack, he looked like he hadn't slept in days. On top of that, he had the air of edginess to him like his nerves were within hairbreadth of shredding to complete pieces.
"Bones? What's the matter?" he quietly asked, herding the piqued physician back into his cabin.
"Matter? Nothing. Fine, just fine," McCoy replied in a rattled voice. "Why?"
"Because you look like you're on the verge of a breakdown," answered Kirk, doing a quick survey of the room that looked as if it hadn't picked up since the day McCoy had moved in. "You sure you're all right?"
In the last two weeks he had had little time to spend with any of his officers, that wasn't actual official duty with the Federation contingency following him around like a noisy sibling on a blind date since they had arrived onboard. He had nearly ignored most of his crew save for Spock, his saving grace at these times, usually forced to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with at least one member of the group or another and in-between was either on the bridge or being given more unnecessary lesson's about the Dolcrock thinking and etiquette. He was getting the severe idea that someone didn't believe he was capable of handling a Sunday afternoon sock wash. Now he wondered if possibly they might be right if he wasn't paying close enough attention of his senior officers as well as one of his closest friends to realize there was a definite problem.
"All right. Bear up all night, though," said McCoy jerking his head in the direction of the stuffed bear still sitting on the shelf.
"Bear?" repeated Kirk taking a cautious step towards the desk to squint at the small beige bear. "What do you mean up all night? Are you saying you haven't slept the last few nights?"
When he didn't receive an answer right away, Kirk turned back to the Doctor to find him counting on his fingers, with a weary determined look.
"Six days total out the last fourteen," he finally concluded sounding extremely taxed after the matter.
"My God, Bones, why haven't you said anything to anyone?!" exclaimed Kirk throwing another curious look over at the small stuffed bear.
"Nothing wrong. Just bear," McCoy again said.
Both eyebrows went up in a bewildered expression, as Kirk looked over his shoulder at the Doctor again, then back at the bear. Moving closer to the desk, he started to reach for the little toy, when McCoy stopped him.
"Don't touch it. It's happy right there. Bear happy right where it's at."
Straightening up, Kirk gave his Chief Medical Officer a hard, anxious gaze. "Maybe we should to down to sickbay and see if you can't get some rest."
For a second it appeared that McCoy was thrilled with the idea, but did relent once Kirk took him by the arm and started steering him towards the door. As they ducked out the door, Kirk threw another look at the bear and noticed the light gleaming off one of the tiny jet black eyes in their direction.
Out in the corridor Kirk flagged down one of the junior security officers. "Van Dyke, I want you to go into Doctor McCoy's cabin. There's a teddy bear sitting on a shelf by the Doctor's desk. Take it and for the time being place it in his closet. Then see if you can straighten it up in there somewhat. Whatever you do don't ever repeat this to anyone else onboard this ship until I finally retire. Understood?"
"Aye sir," acknowledged the Lieutenant, although his face had clouded over doing little to cover his skepticism at the request.
After arriving in sickbay, McCoy seemed to have regained some of his perspective and near normalcy when he sat down in his chair in his office. His uniform was smoothed out and snaps redone properly, while he somehow had gotten his hair slicked down enough that he looked presentable even for a Federation official.
Out in the examination room, Kirk was talking with Chapel. "So you haven't noticed anything out of the norm with the Doctor then?"
The worry shone in the woman's eyes as she stared past the Captain through the open office door at the Doctor. "No, nothing completely out of the ordinary. There were a few mornings he came in complaining he hadn't slept much during the night. Other than that he hasn't said or done anything unusual. Is there something I should be watching for, Captain?"
Silent for a moment, Kirk glanced over his shoulder at McCoy who was going over the disks lying on his desk. "I don't know. Right now, he seems to be fine. But ... I still would feel better if he stayed here until I get the Dolcrocks settled for the night."
"Sure. I'll stay here with him until you get back." With an understanding nod, Christine glanced away from the Doctor to meet the Captain's upset gaze. "I should be able to handle him okay."
"That's why I put you in charge of him." A confident smile emerged on Kirk's face. "I've got to get back to Spock, before the Federation delegates decide to hand me my head when I do catch up to them."
"Before you leave, sir, I don't suppose you know what it could possible be that's causing him to be acting the way he is?" She was hesitant in her question, her eyes darting back over to McCoy who had risen from the desk and moved out of sight.
Stopping at the sickbay door, Kirk half turned toward the Chief Nurse. "Remember that package that came a few weeks back for the Doctor? I have a feeling there was more in that box than any of us realized."
Absently fingering the disks she held, Christine stared in the direction of the office door again after the Captain had left sickbay. Her curiosity was piqued, especially when Kirk had refrained from saying what exactly had been in the package. It generally didn't bode well when nothing was said. And it made her wonder if that was the rest of the crew's benefit or for McCoy's.
* * *
Standing in the banquet room with glass in hand and disquieted frown on his face, Kirk half listened to the polite conversation floating around him. His mind kept going back to McCoy and the damn bear that seemed to be effecting the Doctor's brain. If he hadn't witnessed it, he probably would have laughed in the face of anyone who could've suggested such an outrageous idea.
"Captain, you seem preoccupied tonight." Spock had silently stepped up beside Kirk, hands clasped behind his back as his dark eyes continued to scan the crowded room. "I'm to understand your distraction is connected to the reason Doctor McCoy was unable to join us."
"Yes, Spock, you would be right again," answered Kirk with a single nod. "But considering the nature of the situation, I think it would be wise to wait until we can discuss it further alone. To save a lot of embarrassment for us, the Doctor and Star Fleet."
An eyebrow rose quite high along the Vulcan's forehead. "Yes, of course Captain. If I may suggest though, to attempt some interest in the conversations at hand. The Dolcrockians and Federation affiliates are already troubled with your lack of attention."
As if on cue, Boniface Yates appeared at Kirk's other elbow with glass in hand as well, a polished bureaucratic smile fixed on his round face. "I hope there is nothing wrong, gentlemen? It doesn't reflect well on either Star Fleet or the Federation if the ship's two top officers are off in a corner talking secretly to one another."
Immediately draining the rest of his drink as soon as Yates had stepped up, Kirk gave the smaller man a noxious look. "No, Mr. Yates. Mr. Spock was just inquiring about Doctor McCoy."
"Ah yes, the Doctor. How is he?" There was absolutely no drop of believable concern in the man's slick voice, as he shifted his narrowed gray eyes from Kirk to Spock and back again. "I understand that you, Captain, were the one who escorted the Doctor down to his own sickbay?"
An irked eyebrow came up at a steep instantly angry angle. "If I did or didn't, Mr. Yates, it's a matter that concerns my crew, my ship, and myself. And considering it's only been a few hours, how did you happen to gain information on the matter?"
"Captain, there were a number of people in the corridor when you and the Doctor made your way to sickbay. Being your ship, you should realize how fast rumors spread. If you haven't, then I suggest you should be a little concerned." The slippery smile grew as Yates raised his glass to his lips.
An acidic retort was on the verge of exploding from Kirk, when Spock quickly broke in, seeing the familiar initial jabs being made by both sides.
"I believe the Captain was merely minimizing any need for apprehension for Dolcrockians, knowing there have been several concerns recently since announcing their interest in joining the Federation," the Vulcan expertly explained, his deep impassive brown eyes staring straight into Yates' smoke-gray gaze. "And I seriously doubt, Mr. Yates, that the Doctor's minor illness is in anyway capable of hampering your negotiations, which it would seem you are neglecting while you're standing here with us."
The oily smile vanished from Yates's face as he gave Spock a cold glare that he also threw at a nearly beaming Kirk, before whirling on his heels and returning to his own group.
"Like the way you told him off, Mr. Spock," Kirk commented unable to hide or resist a small grin.
Watching Yates mingle back within his assistants, Spock tilted his head to one side. "I was merely pointing out the obvious to Mr. Yates."
"That's what I said, Mr. Spock."
A questioning expression was in the dark gaze when Spock glanced over at the Captain. "I realize that you have a certain amount of aversion towards a number of those in office in the Federation, Captain. But did it not seem odd for Mr. Yates to inquire about the Doctor when no one has mentioned anything of the nature of his absence?"
Pursing his lips, Kirk blinked as he let that bit of news sink into his brain. "You're right, Spock."
When he had arrived at the transporter room after leaving sickbay, he had quickly explained that Doctor McCoy was incapable of joining them, because of an unexpected emergency. He hadn't said a single word of what it was or that it was Bones who was the actual emergency to begin with. The infamous prickling along the back of his neck started working again as he recognized that something was definitely on the hinky side.
"I think I might do a little digging after tonight is over with, Mr. Spock," he finally added just loud enough for Spock to hear, just as the emissary from Dolcrock approached them.
When Kirk first saw them as they materialized in his transporter room, Kirk couldn't help but think of a little round, chef hat-wearing, dough boy from the twentieth and twenty-first century. Except the Dolcrocks averaged five foot to five foot two inches in height and were a few inches slimmer in comparison to their miniature counterpart. Any that he had met were blue eyed, differing shades but all strikingly large and eagerly intelligent. And unlike the tiny biscuit man, they had differing colorations of skin tone much like that of any humanoid race. Movement was surprisingly swift for such short, plump creatures Kirk had found out as soon as they leapt off the transporter pads to shake hands with him and Spock. Taking both, well, one anyway, by surprise. They were highly benevolent, clever and likeable. Including the one that had been chosen to take the office of ambassador if they were accepted within the inexplicable shrouds of the Federation.
"I hope you don't mind an intrusion, Captain."
"No Counselor Hu'n Gry Jahk." Looking down at the small Dolcrockian, Kirk caught sight of Yates hastily approaching from the corner of his eye. "What can I do you for you?"
"If possible, tomorrow may we be allowed to visit the gardens you have here aboard your ship?" It was hard to ignore the fact that while he spoke that Dolcrocks also had the strange lack of lips, causing Kirk to unknowingly moisten his own lips as he listened. "We found your plants extraordinary. Especially those bushes with their colorful flowers."
"The rose bushes," Kirk instantly surmised, his smile growing. "One of my favorites too. If you would like, Counselor, I can have one of the horticulturalists who maintains the garden take you and your people on tour of it and the laboratories they use."
"That would be most appreciated, Captain." The Dolcrockian sounded truly gracious at the offer, as the thin line of his mouth seem to encircle most of his face as he beamed at Kirk. "We have enjoyed the tour of your marvelous ship, the wonderful repast and the excellent company. But it has been a long day and evening for us and wish to retire."
"Of course, Counselor Hu'n Gry Jahk. I'll have one of junior officers show you back to your cabins, if you wish," offered Kirk, just realizing how slowly the Dolcrocks blinked as he found himself trying not to focus on the snail's pace motion.
"That is not necessary, Captain," replied the Counselor as he waved a four fingered dough-like hand Kirk. "We are going to be spending a few days aboard your ship, it would seem both wise and practical to find our own way to our rooms rather than be any more of nuisance to your people. Good evening, Captain. Mr. Spock."
"Good evening, Counselor." The two officers' spoke simultaneously as the Dolcrock and his troupe bowed then left the banquet hall in an amazing quick herd.
"It seems you've made a good impression on Counselor Hu'n Gry Jahk, Captain." Yates had approached the two officers again and ignored the instantly choleric spark that had entered Kirk's hazel stare. "So far everything is running smoothly. With any luck we won't be having the same type of escapades as you did during your mission to Babel, Captain."
"Good night, Mr. Yates," Kirk quietly said, the words ringing quite clearly with a cold dismissal.
A nerve twitched under a gray eye as Yates set his empty glass on the banquet table behind Kirk and Spock, then gestured over his shoulder towards his staff it was time to leave. With one more quick scan of both Star Fleet officers, Yates leisurely turned away and followed the dozen or so people out the door.
Once he was sure Yates had left, Kirk released a frustrated breath before smacking a fist into the tabletop. "I don't know what it is, but everytime I lay eyes on anything closely related to a bureaucrat, I just want to my fist as far as I can down their throats. Present company excluded, Spock."
"Of course, Captain," acknowledged Spock with a nod as he folded his arms in front of him.
"They seem to delight in torturing me whenever they have to cross my path," grunted Kirk setting his empty glass down on the table next to the one Yates had left.
"I personally see no reason why they would chose you specifically, Captain, considering the number of officers within Star Fleet who deal with the personnel of the Federation," Spock said as they moved towards the door when the staff from the kitchen emerged and began cleaning up the banquet hall.
The eyebrow rose a fraction once again. "Of what specifically, Captain?"
Wavering in mid-step as he started through the door, Kirk glanced back at his First Officer. "You've been spending too much with McCoy lately."
* * *
"What I don't understand is why Yates seems to have it in his mind that something is going happen." Standing at the back of the turbolift, hands resting on the railing on either side of him, Kirk was gazing contemplatively at the ceiling. "I don't recall anything in any of the records or files about any subversive groups that were against the Dolcrockians joining the Federation."
"There is a small group within the Federation that is hesitant in allowing them to become a member. As you recall the main reason they were approached to begin with was for their Manigolitite deposits. A mineral considered to be equivalent to that of silver or gold in its use and disbursement. There are a few who fear that the planet will be laid to waste if it's allowed to have too aggressive mining to begin," explained Spock his gaze remaining fixed on the lift's closed doors.
"Even so, Spock, there isn't much of a chance that someone from the Federation would try any type of violence to prevent even some contact with these people. They can be pretty damn burdensome at times, but violent?" Shaking his head Kirk shifted his gaze over to Spock.
"Captain, there is the possibility that someone within the Federation may have leaked the information of the Manigolitite unknowingly to someone who would use violence if they thought it would prevent a planet from being destroyed," Spock quietly suggested, meeting Kirk's eyes. "Or possibly have been leaked to a party that would prefer to use the planet's sudden fortune for themselves, rather than that of the Federation or Star Fleet."
"The Orions?" Kirk offered pushing away from the back of the lift as the subject became more and more intense.
"It is always a possibility." Taking in what Kirk had said, Spock cocked his head ever so slightly to the right. "It is widely know that Orions have spies planted everywhere throughout the galaxy. Even with the Federation and Star Fleet keeping this mission under tight and complete sealed security, there is the chance they may have learned of the Manigolitite deposits."
"Well, that's all we would need," sighed Kirk as the lift came to a soft stop on deck G. "I'll head for sickbay to check up on Bones. I want you to do some checking on the intergalactic grapevine around here to find out if there has been anyone else making any inquires?"
"Intergalactic grapevine?" repeated Spock, giving his Captain a bemused look as he left the lift.
"Gossip, Mr. Spock. I just want you to listen to some good gossip," Kirk called back over his shoulder just as the turbolift doors closed.
* * *
Entering sickbay, Kirk had to grab Nurse Chapel by the arm to keep from knocking her clear to the floor. "Sorry Christine. I thought I'd come down to see how the irascible old goat was doing."
Steadying herself by placing a hand on Kirk's shoulder, Christine half smiled. "The old goat is sleeping in his own stall for now."
"What?" Kirk questioned somewhat surprised.
Searching the Captain's face, Christine hesitated for a heartbeat. "Lieutenant Van Dyke came in here thinking you would still be here. He said that he had done as you had ordered and wanted to let you know. I told him you had to greet the delegates from Dolcrock, but I would let you know since he didn't seem to want to have to notify you through the intercom."
Bless that young Lieutenant pointed little head, Kirk silently thanked. "McCoy went up to his cabin on his own then?"
"Of course not!" Christine huffed back, clearly affronted by an inclination that Kirk hadn't intended in his words. "I took him personally back to his cabin and gave him a sedative so he could rest during the night. He seemed perfectly normal, I didn't see any harm in letting him sleep in his own bed."
"When you returned him to his cabin, how did he act?" Kirk was oblivious to her tone as his mind was fumbling with two different dilemmas at the same time.
"For the most part, he was fine," she replied with a small shrug, then paused, as her face became a soft mask of thought. "There was a moment when he kept staring at the shelves by his desk. It was as if he expected to see something sitting there. Then he just relaxed and was nearly asleep when I left."
Nodding as he listened, Kirk shot a quick look at the closest computer chrono. "He didn't say anything ... unusual or abnormal?"
"Not unless you count snoring?" she said giving Kirk a questionable look. "What's going on, Captain?"
"I can honestly say, at this moment, I'm not entirely sure," sighed Kirk, feeling abruptly tired all over. "Just be careful of when you receive a package anytime soon."
"Oh, there is one other thing, Captain," Christine added when Kirk began to leave. "Uhura called down here to talk to the Doctor. I explained to her that he was in his cabin and wouldn't answer a twenty-one gun salute right now. Maybe she might be able to help you. And if you find out anything you can tell me."
"Thanks, Christine." Half-smiling, Kirk started for the door again.
Staring at the door when her assistant appeared from the connecting examination room, Christine shook her head in befuddlement. "I wonder if anyone onboard this ship has any idea of what's going on half the time."
* * *
Tracking Uhura down to the recreation center, Kirk was surprised at seeing she had the small foot square box that McCoy's demon bear had arrived in with her. Sitting down next her at a table next to the pool, he glanced, then did a second glance at the hourglass figure clad in a simple white bikini on the diving board that lasted at least ten seconds longer than the first. After the young ensign had disappeared under the surface of water, he redirected his attention to his communications officer who was giving him a stare that forced the Captain to try his best to fix a sheepish smile on his face.
"Trust me, it isn't working," she said in a quiet tone that still had a sharp edge to it.
Clearing his throat, Kirk let the smile fall away. "Christine tells me you were looking for the Doctor earlier. I don't suppose you could tell me if it had anything to do with that box?"
"Well, yes, it did," she replied, shooting a look over at the empty box, then gave the Captain a skeptical gaze well aware of what kind of tomfoolery went on around this ship. Not that she didn't participate, but she didn't want to be blamed for something that she really was innocent of. "Why?"
"Because, Lieutenant, what came in that box is seemingly playing mind games with Doctor McCoy and I'd like to know who and why," answered Kirk, pointing at the offending item. "I have a feeling that is what the Doctor wanted to know as well."
"Two weeks ago, he asked if I could find out who sent it to him. I received a message less than hour ago." Handing Kirk the box, Uhura gave it an unappealing look now that she heard what it was all about. "It arrived at Starbase 35 just as the Enterprise's supplies were being dropped off. It took a little doing to find out how it arrived there, but it was originally ordered by someone from San Francisco, but the package itself came from a colony on a small planet called Kah'bla-om. Who the individual was that actually sent it, I never could find out. And who the person was on this Kah'bla-om, I never discovered either. So I guess I wasn't as much help as the Doctor had hoped."
Holding the box in his hands, Kirk stared at it ruminatively slowly piecing things together. "No, Lieutenant, you were a great deal of help. Believe it or not, you were."
The wall intercom whistled from the other side of the room. "Captain Kirk, this is the bridge."
Everyone there recognized Spock's voice and instantly turned waiting eyes towards Kirk, who had already risen from his seat, box in hand, and crossed the recreation area. It had only been thirty minutes since he and Spock had gone off on their separate missions and he was a little amazed as well as pleased that his First Officer had once again managed the impossible in short amount of time.
Punching the intercom with a fist, Kirk planted a shoulder against the wall. "What do you have, Spock?"
"Pertaining to what we were discussing earlier, Captain." The Vulcan's voice had toned down a notch or two after Kirk answered. "From what I have been able to ascertain so far, is within the last month there has been a group making some quiet inquires concerning Dolcrock and their mining rights with the Federation. From what I gather from their actions and demeanor in their interaction with those planets around Dolcrock, it could very well be what we were considering."
"Damn." Glancing around the half-crowded recreation room, Kirk scowled. "What do you know about a planet called Kah'bla-om?"
There was a three second span of silence. "Within the last five years it has come under control of criminal organization. And I have noted it mentioned twice within the context of some of the communications I was able to pick up."
"Mr. Spock, I have a theory. A very strong theory, albeit more than strange sounding when I first tell you about it. But I need you to answer me one question before I go any further." A corner of Kirk's mouth twitched as he imagined the expression on his friend's face when he heard the question. "What do you know about teddy bears?"
* * *
Running down the corridor past his own cabin, Kirk slid to a stop in front of McCoy's cabin, slamming the override switch of the door with a fist. As soon as the door began to open, he managed to hasten it along with a strong shove and dived into the cabin ordering the lights on in the process. Skidding around the bed that had a large fetus-shaped lump in the middle of it, he opened the closet door and instantly ran his eyes along the top shelf, only to discover it lacking anything that resembled the beguiling devil bear he remembered from the Doctor's office.
In a brief moment of panic and frustration, Kirk swore repeatedly under his breath and he began poking through the rest of the closet. Clothes began to fly out on to the floor, occasionally a pair of pants would make it far enough to land on the bed floating across the snoring Doctor as he shifted around enough to be facing the cabin door.
A growl of impatience rumbled from Kirk's throat as he stumbled back out of the closet and advanced on the prone McCoy snuggled comfortably from head to toe in the warmth of his blankets. Whipping back the bedspread and top blanket, Kirk grabbed the Doctor by his shoulders and shook him to grogginess.
"Bones! Damn it, Bones, wake up!!" Shaking McCoy harder, Kirk tried to get the man in a sitting position by propping him up against the backboard. "Where the hell did you put that damn bear?!"
He wasn't exactly surprised by the sudden turn of events. Something told him that when Christine mentioned the fact that McCoy had noticed the bear was moved, he would've waited until he was sure that she had left his cabin and would've gone in search of it. Where he would've gone with it from there was another question. And one that was going to take a little work to get if the Doctor to snap to within the next fifteen seconds.
"Damn it!! Bones, wake up!"
Head rolling around like a rag doll, McCoy started making familiar gurgling noise of coming up for air when the back of his head banged against the wall. Heavy lidded blue eyes opened and gazed at Kirk through a haze of sleep and dark locks of hair that had fallen over his forehead into his gaze. For a moment, he merely stared at the man who was holding him up, too pooped to honestly care what or who was thrashing him about like a mop. But a light finally dawned after the second time his head met the wall for the second time.
"Jim! What the hell are you doing in my cabin! Are you drunk again!" shouted McCoy, trying to push the Captain away from him and grabbing his covers at the same time. "I finally get to sleep and you gotta come staggering in here because you forgot to take left instead of right. And don't think I'm letting you sleep it off in here either! The last time it took me three months to get the smell out of my carpet."
"Bones, shut up for one minute and try to focus on what I'm saying!" Kirk had kept a firm grip on the Doctor's shoulders as he spoke slowly and directly into McCoy's face. "What did you do with that damn teddy bear?!"
"What?" McCoy snarled with an ugly scowl as he kept tugging at the bedspread. "Bear? Some stupid jackass had stuffed it into my closet. The last thing I want to do when I start digging for uniforms is have that stupid thing sniggering away at me first thing in the morning. I tossed it into the back of bathroom cabinets. Thing gives me the creeps. If you want it to give some little bouncy yeoman, go for it. I doubt Joanna will ever know. Just as long as I can go back to sleep."
Releasing his death grip on McCoy, Kirk leapt off the bed, diving for the bathroom door. "You might want to get out of here, Bones, instead of worrying about getting your beauty sleep."
Throwing the rest of the blankets and sheets out of the way, McCoy pushed himself out of bed and followed Kirk into the bathroom, casting a quizzical look at the pile of clothes all over the floor. In stocking feet he stood in the doorway watching in disbelief as Kirk tore through the first set of cabinets.
"Do you mind if I ask why, considering its mine to begin with?" he asked as Kirk crawled under the sink.
"Because, Bones…" Pulling his head out from the cabinet, Kirk pursed his lips as he sat back on his knees and gave the Doctor a deadly serious look. "Spock and I think someone from the Orionian organization was the one ordered it to be sent to you."
"What?!" Blurted out a stupefied McCoy grabbing on to the doorframe to keep from falling over.
"We figure the Orionians are trying to disrupt the Dolcrock from joining the Federation, by setting off a bomb on board the Enterprise," continued Kirk ignoring the thunderstruck doctor. "And we think they used that damn bear to get it on board."
"What?!" McCoy stammered completely dumbstruck at the fact he had been living with a bomb in his cabin for the last two and half weeks.
"Bones, you can do three things for me right now?" Kirk barked back, opening the second set of cabinets. "One; quit saying that. Two; tell me exactly where the hell that fuzzy little deathtrap is. And three; do you have any of your equipment in here?"
Mouth still hanging open, McCoy stared flabbergasted down at Kirk, pointed towards the single cupboard door that was just above Kirk's head. Once he had managed the second of the three requests, McCoy ducked back into the main room of the cabin and began tearing through his dresser drawers.
In the bathroom, Kirk hadn't touched the last cupboard door when he heard the high pitched giggling voice coming through loud and clear.
"I love you. You make my heart go boomity-boom."
It was an insidious device, Kirk acknowledged as he cautiously opened the door and peered inside. The cheeks were bright and flashing like a klaxon warning system in the middle of a Klingon attack. While the head was in danger of actually spinning all the way off of its neck, the arms swinging wildly like propellers on a B-52 and that heartbeat was pounding away loud and clear. The bear's and Kirk's.
Deciding it best not pick it up in case that would set it off prematurely, Kirk waited until McCoy reappeared in the doorway holding a handful of equipment and a old model tricorder slung over a shoulder.
"Any of this useable?" he asked holding out the handful of items for Kirk to investigate.
Spotting the tricorder, Kirk snared the strap from McCoy's shoulder knocking the other objects from the Doctor's hands, scattering them on the bathroom floor. Activating it he aimed it at the out of control stuffed creature and watched the display as the first readings started beeping across the screen.
"It's already started its countdown. Activate the intercom. Spock's down in the transporter room," ordered Kirk staring at the display screen and the tiny digital numbers.
"Hurry it the hell up, Bones!" he shouted as the numbers continued their rapid dwindling.
Slapping the intercom switch, McCoy managed to keep his first highly tainted comments under his breath. "Spock, you there?!"
"Yes Doctor, has the Captain found..."
"Spock, I've got an out dated tricorder down here! Pick up its signal and beam it out as far into open space as you can. And that's an immediate order!" Kirk interrupted as bead of sweat dribbled down the side of his forehead. "Now, damn it."
As he spoke Kirk placed the tricorder in the cupboard space with the wildly gyrating bear that was still spewing out its now garbled signature line over and over again. Automatically shutting the cupboard door, he was back on his feet and out the bathroom door, sprinting over the bed as he could hear the well-known hum of the transporter beam behind him.
Already ensconced behind the bed McCoy scrunched up even more when Kirk landed beside him, both men holding their breath and sweating as they listened as well as braced themselves for the inevitable.
"My heart goes boomity-boom--" could be heard trailing away as the tricorder and bear were whisked away from the Enterprise several sectors away.
The ship rocked gently when the waves of energy swept over the ship followed by two more before the Enterprise shuttered back into its normal warp track. Inside, it was barely felt unless you were one of the three who were aware of its approach to begin with.
In the transporter room, Spock stood soberly behind the instrument control panel checking the readings once more before side stepping for the totally lost ensign who had had the misfortune of being the one duty when the First Officer swooped in on him for no apparent reason than to just fiddle with his dials.
In McCoy's cabin, the two officers sighed in utter gratified relief and went literally limp on the floor still braced against the Doctor's bed.
Smiling at the fact they had pulled it off Kirk glanced at McCoy. "Well, that made my heart go 'boomity-boom'."
"Mine stopped," murmured McCoy, still carrying his shocked expression on his face. "But I'm pretty sure I did something else. Maybe twice."
* * *
"All right, so I can understand that the Orionians caught wind of the Dolcrockian mining situation. They somehow managed to get a spy in earshot of the high mucky-mucks of the Federation and that's how they found out about it. And that's how they probably found out that the Enterprise was going to be the ship assigned this mission. Which would explain why they send that chenille covered terror to us to begin with. What I don't understand is why me?"
The three men had gone back to Kirk's cabin after they met just outside of McCoy's cabin door to regroup. The sat around the small round table, Kirk sipped at a glass of bourbon, McCoy had chosen Altair water remembering the sedatives that Chapel had given him earlier, and Spock as always merely sat with arms folded in front of him regarding the two other officers stoically.
"That has an easy answer, Bones, believe it or not," replied Kirk after another generous sip from his glass. "Whoever it was that set this whole thing up was aware that the V.I.P rooms are one the same decks as the senior officers. They were also intelligent enough to know that we always keep the highest ranking of our visitors next door to our Chief Medical Officer in case of emergencies."
"The Orionians were also aware that it is one of our priorities to check all luggage and property brought aboard by any visiting dignitaries. Because of this, Doctor, they needed another way to secret the bomb onboard without raising any questions," added Spock moving slightly in his chair.
"It also says that whoever developed that bomb knew what they were doing. They set up a timer that would guarantee it would detonate in the range of two and half to three weeks. The time span that the Dolcrockians would be aboard the Enterprise. He was also smart enough to use small enough parts that would fit within the mechanics that made the bear operate, as well as using a material under the chenille fabric that would block out the basic scanning." Kirk went on gazing into nearly empty glass, realizing how lucky they had been with piecing everything together as fast they had.
"The Orionians have always proved themselves to be extremely intelligent as well as dangerous," Spock quietly pointed out.
"Yes, Spock, we were pretty damn lucky." Kirk sighed then drained the rest of his bourbon.
"Well, I'll be damned," murmured McCoy running his fingers along the side of his glass, then his face screwed up in an irritated frown. "But what about all the trouble I had sleeping and everything?"
"The best we can figure is that they surmised that you being a senior officer, were probably fortunate enough to have the evenings off and would be sleeping. That's when the device would activate itself to pick up its surroundings and possibly send back any information it picked up to the closest Orionian post or ship around. You probably heard its internal workings when you did sleep and somehow registered it as actually being the bear," Kirk said, unsure if it sounded as genuine as he thought it had when he first came upon the idea.
"In other words, I was paranoid," surmised McCoy shifting his tired blue gaze from Kirk to Spock and back again.
"I wouldn't say that Bones. I mean you had a bomb sitting in your bedroom all this time and even if you didn't realize it, you knew something wasn't right with the whole picture. Otherwise you wouldn't have had Uhura tracking down where the package had originated from," Kirk replied before finishing his bourbon. "Maybe at the end you went off your onion, but I wouldn't say you had completely become paranoid."
"That's supposed to make me feel better right," McCoy said with a nod as he gave Kirk a "wait until it's your turn" look. "I think it's time for this old sawbones to head for bed."
"Sounds like a well thought out plan, Doctor," agreed Kirk as all three rose from the table. "In the morning, Spock, send a report to the closest Starbase, the capital of Dolcrock, Star Fleet Headquarters and of course, let's not forget the Federation."
"Aye, sir," Spock said, hesitating at the door waiting for the Doctor to pull his socks back up before making his way to bed.
"What about Yates? He didn't have any part of this then?" McCoy asked almost disappointedly as he tugged at the top of the right sock then the left.
"'Fraid not, Doctor," Kirk said sounding equally discouraged. "It seems the man just turned out to be another bureaucratic pain in the ass pinhead. Present company's families excluded of course, Mr. Spock."
"Nobody's perfect, Jim." McCoy flashed a grin as he started to head for the door.
"One more thing before you leave tonight, gentlemen."
Both Science Officer and Doctor paused and glanced back at their Captain who was smiling at them with a menacing shadow underneath it.
"If anyone gets a package that doesn't have identification on it and makes any noise close to 'boomity-boom', send it back!"