Chapter 1: Not a Babysitter
“...and this here is the medbay!”
Doctor Leonard McCoy looked up from his paperwork to find Jim Kirk strolling into his medbay, two children following obediently at his heels. It was a human boy and a girl, both with dark hair and brown eyes. They looked to be in the age range of seven to ten, with the girl being slightly taller than the boy.
“Kids, this is Doctor Bones! Want to say hi?”
The two gave him a shy but polite wave from behind him.
“Jim, what are you doing here?”
“Oh, nothing much. I just need you to watch these two for a little bit.”
McCoy’s eyebrows shot up to his hairline. He grabbed the captain by the shoulder. “If you’ll just excuse us for a minute,” he told the children. Shuffling Jim along, he led the blonde haired man into his office, making sure his office door was shut firmly before rounding on Jim.
"Look, I know what you’re thinking. But I only need you to watch them for a couple of hours!"
"Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a babysitter!" He looked out through the glass of his office door to study the two small children, sitting calmly side by side on an unoccupied biobed. "Can't you pass them off to someone else?"
"Everyone else is busy; it's either you or Scotty, and I'm sure you can understand why I came to you first. I would do it if I could, but I need to help the Ambassador with damage control over that stupid stunt one of his underlings pulled. It shouldn't take much more than a few hours, and he says he'll come pick them up afterwards."
McCoy looked around their stark, sterile environment. "And how exactly am I suppose to entertain a couple of kids in a medbay?"
"I don't know, give them a PADD with some games on it or something. Look, they shouldn't be any trouble. The Ambassador says they've been really subdued since... well, since their mother died, they've hardly spoken a word. He'd rather they not be alone, even if it means someone's just checking up on them every once and a while. Please say you'll do it, Bones?"
McCoy sighed, wearily running a hand through his hair in exasperation. "Alright, fine. But you owe me!"
"Thanks Bones, you're the best!" Jim grinned, opening up the office door and crouching down to address the boy and girl waiting on the other side. "This is Bones, he's gonna keep an eye on you for a few hours while I help your dad with his work, okay?"
The children nodded, and Jim smiled at them. "Great! I'm off then. You three have fun!" He stood back up, and with a quick wave he exited the sickbay, leaving McCoy with two children who looked at him with somber expressions.
Jim Kirk walked into the sickbay hours later and stopped in his tracks when he heard the sound of childish laughter. He looked over to the far side of the room, where the kids sat side by side on one of the bio beds as McCoy told them a story with wide, gesticulating motions.
"... And then his hands blew up to the size of grapefruits!"
"Cross my heart, I swear it's true. Next thing you know..."
"Isn't it wonderful?"
Jim turned to see Christine Chapel standing beside him, a soft smile on her face.
"I thought the Ambassador would have come to pick them up already?"
"Oh, he came all right. As soon as he saw this, though, he walked straight back out. He was so happy to see his kids smile again. Did you know that they haven't smiled since their mother died? Not even once. It's a miracle."
Jim's attention was pulled back to the trio as another round of giggles sounded from across the room. He was content to let his presence go unnoticed for a while longer as he stood there, smiling contently at the scene before him.
"Dr. McCoy, may I talk to you?"
McCoy was slightly surprised to see Pavel Chekov standing in the door of his office. The ship was deep into gamma shift, and even McCoy should have been asleep, though an unfortunate accident in engineering earlier that day left him with an excessive amount of paperwork to finish before the next day. Curious, he waved the boy in, and Chekov hesitantly stepped into the CMO's office, the door sliding shut behind him.
"I wouldn’t have expected you to be up this late, ensign. What's the problem? Are you feeling ill?" McCoy made to grab the tricorder sitting on the edge of his desk.
Chekov quickly shook his head. "No, it is nothing like zat. It is a more... personal matter."
McCoy watched as the boy stared intently at a loose thread on his sleeve and sighed. He attempted to make his tone gentle. "Look kid, I'm a doctor, not a therapist, and I-"
"I just can't take it anymore!" Chekov blurted out, cutting McCoy off mid sentence. "I'm tired of everyone looking down on me because of my age. Zey think zat because I am young, I am not able to do my job."
McCoy took a brief glance at the paperwork on his desk, then looked at the clock on the wall before deciding, screw it. Having a feeling he knew where this was going, he turned around to rummage through the small cabinet behind his desk. He spun back around a moment later with two small glasses and a bottle of whisky. He poured drinks for the both of them, passing one over to Chekov who took it with a grateful nod.
"Now that's not entirely true.” McCoy said after taking a sip of his drink. “I know for a fact that the captain greatly respects your abilities at the helm."
"Oh! Yes, zat is true. The bridge crew is wery wonderful, zey treat me like an equal. But I have heard many of the others whispering nasty things about me. They say I'm not old enough, not good enough to be here."
"Kid," McCoy said, idly swirling the amber liquid in his glass, "you've already proven yourself worthy for your station. You've earned your place here. The others are damn fools if they can't see that. You'll just have to keep proving to them that you've earned your place, and if it still doesn't get through their thick skulls, then who cares? The people that matter already believe in you, and that's all that matters."
Chekov set his glass on the edge of McCoy’s desk. "I have newer thought of it zat way."
"Yeah, well. Don't think I'm goin' sappy or anything," McCoy responded gruffly.
"No sir, of course not."
"Now, shouldn't you be getting to the bridge? It's nearly time for alpha shift."
Chekov looked at the clock on the wall. "Oh, I didn't realize the time!" He stood up, his glass untouched. "Zhank you, Dr. McCoy."
"Beat it, kid."
Chekov gave him a bright grin before making his departure. McCoy sighed, grabbing the ensign's abandoned glass and swallowing its contents in a single gulp.
The things he did for this crew...
Not sure if anyone would make a fuss about it, but just in case, about Bones giving Chekov alcohol: I figure that if you're old enough to explore the stars, you're probably old enough to drink. And given that there's so many different species in the Star Trek universe, which all probably reach maturity at different ages... I feel like they'd just make an exemption for Starfleet officers.
Chapter 3: Not a Boy Scout
It was a gloomy day in San Francisco, and the small group of Enterprise crewmembers stood out sharply from their dull surroundings. The overcast that perfectly matched their destination, a grey building with a sign out front that read “San Francisco Starfleet Retirement Home” in bold letters. The flowers planted out front seemed to be an effort to make the utilitarian style building more inviting to residents and visitors. It didn’t work very well.
“Remind me why we’re doing this again?” McCoy asked as they made their way up the path to the main entrance.
“Because,” Jim explained, "The higher ups suggested to us -and by that I mean ordered us- to do it. Said it'd be good for public relations or something. Anyways, I think it’ll be fun. All the residents served in Starfleet at some point in their lives. Think of all the cool stories they have to tell!”
“Well, I don’t see why they couldn’t have picked someone besides me.” McCoy grumbled. “I wouldn’t exactly call myself the friendly, sympathetic type. I'm a doctor, not a Boy Scout!"
Jim snickered."Aww, come on Bones, you’re bedside manner’s not that bad,” he joked. “Besides, it'll only be for a little while. You'll be fine." The doors slid open and they entered the retirement facility.
They were led by a friendly nurse into a rec room where many of the residents were doing various activities. The group split off as everyone left to go talk to the residents, and soon only McCoy was left. He stood there indecisively, contemplating whether or not it would be too late to slip away relatively unnoticed, until he felt something nudge his shoe. He looked down to see a bright blue ball of yarn had rolled near his foot. He picked it up and followed the unraveled end until he came upon the source; an elderly lady knitting what seemed to be a scarf.
He went to hand the yarn back to her, and she looked up at him with a smile. "Thank you, young man,” she said. “Would you actually mind holding that for a few minutes? I'm nearly finished."
"Uh, sure," McCoy said, pulling over a vacant chair from a nearby table and awkwardly taking a seat.
"You know," she said as she worked, "You look just like my Andrew. He's such a dear. It's been a while since I've seen him though, nearly four years now. I understand though, everyone's just so busy nowadays, you never get any time for yourself, it seems." She paused, and McCoy was spared from trying to come up with some sort of response when she quickly continued. " I'm sorry, where are my manners. I'm Carrie Michaels, it's nice to meet you."
"Doctor Leonard McCoy, ma'am."
"A doctor, did you say? Why, back in my day, I was a nurse on the USS Ardent."
McCoy sat up a bit straighter. "Really?"
"I certainly was. You wouldn't believe some of the things I've seen. In fact, the strangest thing that I've ever experienced happened on our way to Andoria. You see..."
A scarf turned into the sleeve of a sweater without McCoy realizing it. He only noticed how much time had gone by when Jim had come to collect him, and he looked out the window to see that the sun had begun to start making its decent into the horizon.
"See, that wasn't so bad, was it?" Jim asked as they left the building, a knowing grin on his face.
Bones didn't give him the satisfaction of an answer.
Chapter 4: Not a Schoolteacher
"Jim, do we seriously have to do this?" McCoy whispered, looking at the group of students in the adjoining classroom warily.
"Come on, Bones, it'll be fun!" Jim enthused in equally soft tones, grinning at his friend.
"Fun? Trying to keep the attention of a bunch of air-headed teenagers with the attention span of a gnat is fun? I'm a doctor, dammit, not a schoolteacher!"
"Don’t think of it that way. Think of it as an opportunity, to- to excite and enable the future generation. And face it; you know you're going to end up lecturing at the Academy at some point." Jim said. "If you can talk to a classroom of high schoolers for an afternoon, then talking to a packed lecture hall will be a piece of cake!"
"Besides," Uhura spoke up from McCoy's right, "All we have to do is tell them a bit about ourselves and our jobs. How hard can it be?"
The small group of Starfleet officers exited the classroom a short while later following a group of students, chattering excitedly as they prepared to leave school for the day. Uhura was grinning at McCoy as they walked. "Did you see the reaction you received? I swear, not a single kid wasn't paying attention to you. I couldn't even get that kind of response, and I spoke to them in Klingon!" she exclaimed as they weaved their way through the crowded high school hallways on their way towards the exit.
"Yeah, can’t see why you didn’t get that much of a response. You certainly are quite... captivating," Jim snickered, earning him a slap so loud that nearby students cringed in sympathy.
"How did you even manage it?" Uhura continued as if Jim had never said anything.
"Hell if I know," McCoy said.
"Well I think it was partly because of that natural authority that you seem to radiate. You know, the ‘You’d better listen to me, god dammit, or so help me I'll hypo you into submission,’ Jim mused. "That, and the story about that nasty outbreak of Cardassian Flu we had on the ship last year seemed to help a lot."
"Kids and their sick interests..." McCoy muttered.
Uhura laughed. "Well it certainly made those kids interested in what you do! What was it, two students that came up to you afterwards asking for more information about joining Starfleet Medical?"
"Three," McCoy corrected.
"Well, I'd consider this to be a success." Jim said. "And you know Bones, if you ever get tired of Starfleet, I heard from the teacher that the school's currently looking for a new xenobiology teacher..."
A hard jab to the ribs was Jim's only response.
Chapter 5: Not an Actor
Took me four years, but we have finally completed this work!!! My medical and video game making knowledge are close to zero, but we’re gonna explain my mistakes away with both the “it’s the future” and “it’s fiction.”
“You’ve done what?” Bones asked.
“I haven’t done anything. Starfleet was approached by LearnMore Virtual Entertainment and asked if they would be willing to collaborate on a small VR game about Starfleet. A short adventure where the player completes a few tasks in each major discipline onboard the ship.” Jim gestured grandly with his arms outstretched in emphasis, just barely avoiding hitting Spock and McCoy in the face. “They’re looking to distribute it as a headset game for schools as a career day sort of activity, but if it turns out to be popular, Starfleet would be interested in collaborating to expand the project to larger platforms as a way to encourage enlistment.”
“Why us? Why not some other poor saps?”
“Because the Brass thinks that we’re a “shining example” of what the Starfleet has to offer. I mean, we saved the world, Bones. That kind of thing sells.”
“But we’re on shore leave, Jim!”
“Come on, you said it yourself that you were gonna spend most of your time catching up on paperwork anyway. This’ll be fun! Scotty had a blast guiding them on how to “fix” a protective relay. Even Spock had a good time when we filmed our part earlier, didn’t you, Mr. Spock?”
“Wait,” McCoy inturrupted, turning to Spock. “You actually willingly agreed to do this little... school play?”
“Of course, Doctor. The guiding of young minds is one of the most important things one can do. I am happy to assist in such a worthy endeavour.”
“Worthy endeavour my ass. I’m a doctor, not a goddamn actor!”
“You’ll be a natural, Bones! Besides, you’ll really just be doing your job! Except... in front of a camera. And with a dummy. And remember, watch the language- this is for the kids, after all!”
“Give me one good reason why I should say yes to this.”
“Because Starfleet has made it an order. But hey, on the bright side, they are paying us for it! And it’s quite a sum, too. You do this little film for a couple hours, and you’ll have the fee for that summer camp that Joanna wants to go to paid off in one afternoon. Great, right?”
McCoy sighed. “Fine.”
“Awesome!” Jim grinned. “Chapel should just about be done helping them set up in the medbay.”
McCoy’s expression shifted abruptly at the remark, and he picked up his pace dramatically in the direction of the medbay. “Dammit, Jim!”
“Hey, don’t touch that!” McCoy shouted, making a curious sound technician who had been reaching towards the monitor on a biobed flinch and withdraw his hand guiltily. He turned back around to find the camera watching his every move, and scowled into the lens.
Jim had caught him up on their way to the medbay, giving him some papers outlining the way the game session was supposed to go, and McCoy had just enough time to brood over them in the turbolift before being met with the overenthusiastic director and his crew. Spock had bid them farewell, intent on getting his own work done. Jim, the bastard, said he wouldn’t miss this for the universe.
“So, our technician Tal here is gonna wear these special gloves and be the stand in for our VR players.” The director told McCoy. “Your job is to guide him on what he should be doing. It’ll make things easier for us to model the player’s possible reactions later on. We’ve got some notes for you on what the player needs to pick up from the exam, the diagnosis, etcetera, but we’d love for you to make this moment your own, you know?”
“Sure,” McCoy grumbled. “Alright, let’s get this over with.”
“Alright, so today we’re going to be assisting an Orion male with an infected shrapnel wound from an explosion in engineering. While our biobed and tricorder can pick up a wide variety of information, there’s more to being a doctor than some fancy technology.”
As the tutorial continued, Jim watched on from the side of the medbay, amused as McCoy attempted to guide the slightly blundering young man who stood in place for the player.
“I said laser scalpel, not tissue mitigator! What are you, blind?!”
“No, no, I told you to make a small incision, not dissect him like he’s a frog in a high school chemistry class!”
“Oh, well look at that. You just sliced through an artery and now he’s dead. Great job!”
“No- what are you grabbing the dermal regenerator for? This isn’t a paper cut!”
“My grandma can make straighter sutures than that, and she’s ninety-two and blind in one eye!”
Eventually, the “wound” had been closed, antibiotics had been administered, and a thoroughly frustrated McCoy put the last of his medical equipment off to the side with a huff. “We done here? Because I’ve got paperwork I need to catch up on, and for every incident report that is left infield, two more appear in its place.”
The camera woman looked up from where she had been reviewing footage and gave the director a nod. “Yeah,” the man said, “we have plenty to work with! Thanks for all your help. We’ll send you a free copy of the game when it comes out!”
Jim elbowed McCoy in the ribs to stop the reply coming out of his mouth. “Thank you,” he cut in smoothly, “We’ll be excited to see the end result.”
“I’d be perfectly happy to never think about it again,” McCoy muttered at their retreating backs.
eight months later
McCoy looked up at the swish of the medbay doors to see a grinning Jim waving a PADD in his direction.
“Your physical isn’t for another month, Jim. What are you doing here?”
“You’ll never guess what I just got.”
“Do I really want to know?” McCoy asked sardonically.
“Probably not. But I’m gonna tell you anyway. It’s the Starfleet VR game we worked on a few months back!”
“I’m not gonna play it, Jim.”
“Oh, you don’t have to. I did. It was great, and you’re really missing out. But do you know what I also got? The statical analysis reports for the game! Turns out, kids and teens really love it. It has really great reviews, and enlistment has increased by five percent, which Starfleet’s pretty excited about. They’re already trying to figure out how to expand from here- don’t worry, rumour has it that they’re thinking of something based around the academy next. But guess what- the medical minigame is the highest rated section of the game!”
“Yeah! Turns out the production team loved your sarcasm and spite so much, they left a lot of it in the game. And the kids absolutely love it! Apparently 45% of those who stated the game influenced them in their choice of enlisting with Starfleet plan to enter the medical track. See, I told you you’d be a natural!”
“Don’t you have work to do?”
Jim grinned at the deflection, but waved and made his way out anyway. As if on cue, McCoy’s PADD started to let out a loud buzz, signalling a video call. He pressed the button to accept and smiled at the face that appeared on screen. “Jo! Darlin’, how are you?”
A gap-toothed smile filled his screen. “I’m great! It’s good to see you, Daddy.”
“It’s good to see you too. To what do I owe this surprise?”
“Well, I just played your game! You were so cool! I’ve showed it to all my friends at school, and they’re soooo jealous that my daddy is a super amazing doctor and in a video game. You’re famous, Daddy!”
McCoy felt his heart melt as his little girl rambled excitedly at him. “Aww, well, I’m so glad you liked it, sweetheart...”
Chapter 6: I'm...
The peace negotiations on Klom V had been going smoothly. The away team had been on the tiny planet now for about four hours helping the rival factions of the planet, the Absors and the Loffs, find a middle ground for their treaty. McCoy was actually kind of bored, to tell the truth. He sat at a long conference table off to Jim’s left, trying to look like he was interested in the proceedings. Most of what the two sides were saying flew right over his head. He looked around lazily, hoping to find some sort of entertainment. As his eyes scanned over the various beings in the room, he suddenly became more alert as he noticed something strange.
One of the Loff guards was acting oddly. He was looking around the room nervously, and although all weapons had been banned from entering the room, the man kept bringing his hand to his side as if reaching for one. He kept licking his lips and looking at a clock as if he were waiting for something. It was all way too suspicious for McCoy. He tried to inconspicuously alert one of the security officers on the away team, just to be on guard, but it ended up being a bad move. The Loff saw him and panicked. He pulled out a weapon he had somehow hidden on his person and started shooting, spurring a few other Loffs to follow suit. One of the first ones hit was Jim.
McCoy immediately went into Doctor Mode, catching Jim before he fell and gently lowering him to the floor. He pulled out what medical equipment he had, cursing at his lack of supplies. This was supposed to be a peace negotiation, dammit! He started scanning Jim with a tricorder, frowning at the results. Whatever the projectile the Loff had shot him with had lodged itself in Jim’s shoulder, and even worse, it was secreting some sort of sedative that Jim seemed to be allergic to.
McCoy had barely begun to search through his meager bag of medical supplies before he felt something graze his arm. He looked down to see that one of the Loffs had hit him, too. Luckily the projectile hadn’t gotten stuck like it had with Jim, but he was gradually starting to feel the effects of the sedative. Barely registering the skirmish that was quickly being resolved around him, McCoy tried to work as quickly as possible to stabilize Jim before the sedative made it too hard to continue.
“B’nes..” Jim mumbled, attempting to look at McCoy between half-closed lids.
“You’re gonna be okay, kid. Just stay with me, Jim.”
Jim attempted to reply, but instead his eyes drooped closed. McCoy could feel his movements become more sluggish the longer he worked, but he couldn’t stop, he had to help Jim, he had to…
McCoy didn’t even realize he had stopped to lean against one of the conference table’s legs until one of the ensigns shook him to get his attention. “Doctor McCoy, the hostiles have been subdued and have been taken into custody of the Absors. We’ve also updated the Enterprise of the situation. Medical personnel will be waiting for us in the transporter room. We’ll be beamed up momentarily.”
Sure enough, moments after the ensign finished speaking McCoy felt the disorienting feeling of being beamed up to the Enterprise. He barely registered the rush of blue clad officers that greeted them, and it was only after he felt the sting of a hypospray being administered did he start to gain a bit more awareness.
He noticed that he had at some point been lifted onto a stretcher, which he tried to vacate in order to locate the others that had been injured. He was met with a strong arm pushing him back down, and looked up to see M’Benga giving him a grim smile.
“Status?” McCoy was able to get out.
“I’ll have to be quick, but besides the Captain and yourself, only two other officers were shot.” McCoy was barely able to make out the three other stretchers hidden behind swarms of blue as they started the short journey to the Med Bay. “Luckily, just like you, those two were only grazed, so after a hypospray and a bit of rest they should be fine. It’s the Captain that we’re worried about. We were able to stabilize him for a short time, but as long as that bullet’s stuck in his shoulder it’ll continue to give off that sedative. We’re going to have to go into surgery to get it out before his condition gets worse.”
They had made it to the Med Bay by then, and McCoy could see the nurses getting Jim prepped for surgery as he was transferred onto a bio bed. He tried once again to get up to help, only to be met with more resistance. “I can help… I’m his Doctor, d’mmit…” he inwardly cursed at the way he sounded.
M’Benga looked at him seriously. “Leonard, you’re in no condition to treat a cold, let alone perform surgery. I’m sorry, but you’re sitting this one out.” His expression softened. “Look, I know you’re his Doctor. But you’re also his friend. You’re in no state to be his doctor at the moment, but you are to be his friend, and Jim needs that right now. Can you do that?”
McCoy looked at him for a long moment, and M’Benga must have seen his answer in his eyes, because he suddenly gave him a smile. “Good man. Now, why don’t you take a nap, get the rest of that drug out of your system. I can guarantee you’ll be awake before the Captain is.” With that, M’Benga clapped him on the shoulder and hurried over to prep for Jim’s surgery.
McCoy finally rested his head back on the pillow as he drowsily watched the nurses finish prepping on the other side of the room. “I’m his doctor, I should be…”He felt another wave of exhaustion wash over him. “…but I guess, for now, I can handle just being his friend.” With that thought in mind, McCoy drifted off into blackness, encompassed with a feeling everything would work out just fine.