Author: Andriech PM
Doctors on Starships don't get to choose their patients. McCoy struggles with his own fears and uncertainties, knowing Jim Kirk isn't about to transfer new Navigator just to please the medical staff. Please R&R!Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Angst - P. Chekov & L. McCoy - Chapters: 2 - Words: 12,193 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 14 - Follows: 1 - Published: 09-11-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2576447
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McCoy was again scrolling through the information on Ensign Chekov displayed on the computermonitor, only this time it was current readings: not his medical history. It did little to quiet the Doctor's unease. If anything, it reinforced it. The current readings, themselves, were sobering.
He raised bright blue eyes to the young man standing in the doorway of his office. Early again. Always true to his life pattern. Although his wide brown eyes were steady, the Ensign carried a bottle of wine in one hand and had a large woven basket slung over the other shoulder. He's making a clear statement that he has no intention of being here very long, McCoy considered with slight amusement at the man's brazen nerve.
"Please have a seat, Ensign." It would have been downright ludicrous to invite him to make himself comfortable.
The Navigator placed the bottle of wine on the edge of the desk and lowered the basket to the floor as he took the chair on the opposite side of the desk from the Doctor.
"Well, Mr. Chekov," McCoy observed easily. "I have your exam results here. There's just a few things I want to go over. You're in excellent physical condition with a large percentage of muscle mass. "The problem I see is that body fat percentage is what helps fight off infection. You have very little body fat and a very high metabolism. I want to see you increase the amount you're eating."
"That's not possible," the man replied bluntly.
The Doctor glanced up at the flat tone and Chekov scowled. "Ask anyone who knows me: I couldn't possibly eat more than I do: no human could. I don't get sick," he added helpfully.
"Oh really?" McCoy asked with amusement.
"No. Viruses' don't seem to like me."
"Well, then we won't be seeing much of each other."
Chekov just stared silently at the ship's Chief Medical Officer, his dark eyes unreadable. It unnerved the Doctor, which was probably his intention. The man didn't seem to do much that was unintentional.
"I didn't say I never get hurt," the Ensign stated.
An understatement, McCoy thought ruefully. "Do you lift weights?" he asked.
The Navigator frowned in confusion. "For what reason would I do that, Sir?"
"You do work out in the gym," the Doctor noted, without explaining that it was obvious by how limber the man was.
"Well, if not to maintain your bulk, then why?" he questioned.
Chekov straightened, brown eyes calculating as he considered his answer. "There are women there, Sir." He shrugged, a smirk skirting across his lips. "Women in very little clothing."
McCoy glanced away, struggling to contain his grin. He cleared his throat. "I noticed from your psyche profile that you don't like men," he observed.
"Now, what it that supposed to mean?" Chekov demanded self-righteously.
The Doctor glanced back at the young man, letting the grin spread across his face this time. "I only meant that you're heterosexual: not that you have some sort of deep seated emotional problem."
"Oh," the Ensign intoned, subdued. "Sorry, Sir."
"I only mentioned it because you've fallen behind on your routine shots. I'll catch you up before you leave today."
"I don't need any shots," Chekov declared fiercely.
McCoy leaned back in his chair. "Do you have intimate relationships with women?" he asked. Had the Ensign preferred men, the Doctor would have known this from his physical exam. Medically, there simply no way to tell the same thing about a man's relationships with women unless an exam's timing was exceptional good.
"Yes," Chekov scowled. "I have girlfriends. I just don't have one at the moment. I just got here, remember?"
McCoy studied the young man's wholesome, good looks for a moment. "If you plan to start a family, son, a deep space assignment is not a good choice."
The new Navigator growled low in his throat, glancing away to stare at some distant point on the floor. "I do not have a girlfriend now," he maintained sourly. "When I do, rest assured, I will come for my shots."
"Most people keep their shots up...to be prepared," the Doctor observed. "You know they have no long-term ill effects, I'm sure."
"I am not most people," Chekov snarled.
No, McCoy thought, sighing. You are certainly not most people. It didn't come as a surprise to the Doctor that the young man would consider routine sterilization treatment as a needless intrusion to his person at times. His psyche record did note that the Navigator preferred established relationships to casual ones.
The Doctor leaned on his desk, gesturing with a hand. "What about spontaneity?" he asked curiously.
The young man chewed on his lower lip a moment. "There are options for men that have existed since before recorded history, should the need arise."
McCoy forcefully bit back a grin. 'Most people' avoided such primitive options at all costs. "Yes," he agreed, clearing his throat. "Son, if you find you don't prefer what the computer can provide, I have a large quantity of natural styles available for your convenience."
"Why, thank-you," the Navigator growled under his breath, squirming in his chair as he did so. "Is this amusing you, Sir?" he spat out darkly at the Doctor when the older man poorly attempted to hold back his grin with a strategically placed hand.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Chekov," McCoy countered. "It just seems that this conversation is making you uncomfortable. I'm your Doctor, you know: not your father."
"My father I would be comfortable speaking to," the young man muttered.
The Doctor smiled gently at that, leaning back in his chair. The record indicated that Chekov had an extremely close relationship with his parents.
"I noticed that your parents are both cultural anthropologists and you moved around with them while growing up," he commented.
"Yes, their work involves much travel."
"That must have been difficult as a child," the Doctor mused. "Moving all the time meant you were unable to establish long term friendships with peers or go to school. Did you feel adrift, without any real roots?"
The Navigator's dark eyes stared at him stolidly for a long moment. He leaned forward then, folding his arms and resting them on the desk. "My parents brought me everywhere they went. Doctor, I felt wanted. And important."
McCoy watched him the clear stance of confrontation and the challenge in Chekov's face as he spoke. He was reminded of the detailed Academy psychological profiles in the medical record that the Doctor had already confirmed in his own mind. This young man had a strong sense of himself, a rock solid positive self image, and was brimming with enough self confidence to be considered downright cocky. It took special parents to produce such a human. The kind of parents that bring their kid to work with them every day, the Doctor reflected.
Chekov leaned back in his chair again and shrugged in a luxurious motion. "I learned to make friends quickly and was advanced in my schooling because of home tutors. I also learned to speak many languages in our travels."
The Doctor nodded in understanding. The file said the Ensign had completed several basic Academy courses before he actually attended the institution. What McCoy observed aloud was: "The language center in the human brain absorbs new languages quickly at young ages."
"Is your specialty psychiatry?" the Navigator asked suddenly.
"No, I'm a surgeon."
"Then is there a point too actually going through all this?" Chekov questioned. "The Academy's psychological testing is quite thorough. Just read the file, Sir."
"Yes, the standard testing is there, but in fact," McCoy commented, "There doesn't seem to be a lot of notations in general that were made by the Academy medical staff."
"Yes, well, they avoided me," Chekov retorted evenly. "Just like at the Clinic--I seem to have that affect on Doctors."
Blue eyes widening, the Doctor fixed them on the young man. "Now, I can't imagine why," he drawled languidly.
The young man scowled at him.
"Do you like the taste of human blood?" McCoy asked, feigning innocent curiosity in his question.
The Navigator's dark eyes fluttered up to the Doctor and stayed there firmly. "Now I'm a vampire? Surely you've sucked on a paper cut," he replied.
"That was my own blood, not someone else's. I can't say that I've ever tasted human flesh either," he rasped.
Chekov rolled his eyes, drawing them away from the medical officer again and shrugging. "Tastes like chicken," he quipped.
"Do you think everything is funny?" the Doctor demanded, outright offended.
"Yes, pretty much so," the young man admitted.
"What you did to those Doctors at the Clinic wasn't funny in the least," McCoy bit out.
The Ensign sighed and screwed up his face in disdain. "Got my point across," he muttered. "They left me alone." He added louder: "I was angry and they got in the way."
Chekov cleared his throat as he looked down and brush some invisible fleck off his pants. "I didn't expect to hit bone," he observed under his breath.
"Dr. Chapman still has scars," McCoy charged without apology.
"So do I," Chekov retorted, looking back up at the Doctor.
McCoy leaned back, studying the Ensign for a moment. "Scars can be surgically hidden. You kept them for a reason."
"I've had enough surgery on my leg to last a lifetime, thank you, Sir."
The Doctor nodded in understanding, then shifted in his chair to ease the building tension. "Your record doesn't say how you were injured," he observed.
"No, it doesn't," Chekov agreed evenly. "You have all the information you need."
"It would be helpful to know what caused your lower leg to be so violently amputated."
"Don't you enjoy a little bit of challenge to your imagination?"
"You still have nerve damage in that leg," McCoy continued, ignoring the baited comment.
"It's not noticeable. Not all the nerves cooperated with the Doctor and became functional again."
The Doctor watched the vague emotions skirt across the wide brown eyes, despite the cold tone in the man's voice. The human nervous system was an electrical one at its most basic level. Modern medicine could reconnect the wiring when need be, but it was up to the body to make the current again. Severed nerves opened a live circuit box in a body and the pain caused by the slightest movement or touch was excruciating.
"You could have spared yourself a great deal of pain and rehab by simply getting a bionic replacement. You did realize that, didn't you?" he asked.
"Not in my nature," the Ensign quipped.
McCoy sat staring at him, unmoving.
Chekov eyes darkened and sank, becoming bottomless as he met the Doctor's steady stare. "Sir, the Command School at the Academy does not accept cadets with artificial body parts. The don't want to start with damaged goods."
McCoy's insides stilled and he forced himself not to swallow hard. This young man had willingly paid an enormous price for his Starfleet commission and a shot at the Captaincy. Chekov could have transferred to one of the other schools and spared himself.
"How did you get injured?" the Doctor flatly asked again.
"You're not going to drop this, are you?"
"Not in my nature," McCoy quipped.
Sighing, the Ensign considered his answer. "Would you believe a shark bit it off?" he finally asked.
"And yet you had the leg to reattach?"
"Apparently, I do not taste so good."
"Very funny," McCoy drawled. "You need another cover story, son. We have ways of keeping track of ocean life now. Do you know how few shark attacks have occurred on Earth in the last few centuries?"
"One is all it takes."
The Doctor chuckled quietly. "You keep people at a distance with your humor," he observed.
"Not always," Chekov replied quickly. "Sometimes I bite them."
Despite himself, McCoy felt the blood drain from his face.
The dark eyes regarded him with humor. "You're not planning to make me angry, are you?" Before he could reply, the younger man leaned on the edge of the desk. "Why did you send your bodyguard away?" he prodded.
"What?" the Doctor began, but then realized that Chekov did have a well-trained or inherent skill for sizing up people and situations quickly and accurately. It was obviously something learned from traveling about so much as a child. "Dr. M'Benga," McCoy finally identified his so-called 'body guard': a label which was more accurate than he cared to admit.
"You trusted me: humans tend to return what they get. I have a very good staff: you'll get used to them."
McCoy hesitated, noticing how the younger man's jaw tightened, his skin graying. The Doctor's eyes remained steady on the Ensign, refusing to ignore what he observed.
"I trust you," Chekov said tightly after a moment.
The Doctor interlaced his fingers in his lap thoughtfully. He considered the young man and his history again before deciding to share his previous decision. "Ensign, situations arise that may make it necessary for you to receive medical attention from whatever staff is available," he stated. "But our contract is that I am your primary physician."
The now familiar word sparked something in Chekov and the Doctor saw his dark eyes gleam. "Contract," he repeated soundly, his accent thick as he nodded in agreement. He sat there chewing on his bottom lip, shades of hesitancy playing over his face.
McCoy allowed him the space to think in silence and finally saw a shift in the color of the young man's eyes. Expressive, he thought. The man's eyes betray everything he's thinking. When he lets them, he resolved, knowing already the Ensign had a knack for controlling the human interactions he was involved in. It was obvious to the Doctor that Chekov had come to a decision.
"When I was at the Chapman Clinic I was uncomfortable," the Navigator explained evenly. "All those Doctors and nurses and technicians and procedures . . . " he stopped, quelling his emotions with a visible shudder. "I was uncomfortable and the medical staff kept pestering me unnecessarily. They didn't listen. They didn't understand."
McCoy didn't need the young man to elaborate. He didn't need the details of the man's stay at the rehab clinic to know his injury and recovery would have peaked the scientific curiosity of any medical person. It only surprised the Enterprise's Chief Medical Officer that the Ensign realized how many of the medical procedures inflicted upon him probably had nothing to do with treating his condition.
The Doctor shifted in his chair again, making a point of meeting the young man's steady gaze. "Son, every patient has the right to direct the course of his medical treatment: including refusing any treatment. Don't ever apologize for having a backbone. You'd be surprised how easy it is to get so wrapped up in a treatment plan that you forget there's a person putting up with it." He silenced for a moment, staring at the man's huge brown eyes of liquid chocolate.
"I suggest you work on your communication skills with medical personnel, however."
He saw Chekov's eyes sparkle wickedly as he fought back an impish smirk.
"You say you were 'uncomfortable' while you were at the Clinic?" McCoy felt safe in continuing carefully, eyeing the Navigator.
The young man started, shooting the Doctor a ludicrous look. "Yes," he snarled thickly. "I had an accident and went to the Chapman Clinic for rehab. It's the finest in the galaxy. I could not walk when I arrived there.
"You have my file," he challenged, his accent growing heavier.
"It's in your file," the Doctor agreed. The young man's accent seemed to vary with his mood: as did his command of the English language. By now, McCoy was not at all willing to think it unintentional.
It was not the cold written facts in the record that made the deep impression on the Doctor, however. He had now seen first hand the ravages the accident had left on the young man's body. Steely blue eyes remained fixed on Chekov. "Son," he asked quietly, "What exactly do you consider pain, as opposed to discomfort?"
The Ensign merely averted his eyes from the Doctor's. McCoy let him sit there, feeling no compulsion to do anything while waiting for an answer.
"When something becomes an everyday part of your life it loses all quality of being remarkable," Chekov finally commented in a rare glimpse into the depths of his thoughts. "Pain and I are old acquaintances. I have a heightened startle reflex, but I don't usually notice pain. It just doesn't bother me.
"Why did you alter your pronoun use?" he asked, glancing back at McCoy as he obviously changed the subject to make himself more comfortable.
"Pronoun use? What do you mean?"
"You stopped calling me 'boy',"Chekov observed. "You're calling me 'son' now."
McCoy blinked. Kirk had made a good choice, he thought. Quick-witted, clever, observant and inherently able to judge how to manipulate a situation: this young man had the makings of a fine command officer. "I'm sorry. Does it bother you?"
The young man stared at him, considering. "No," he replied. "I wish to make it part of our contract."
McCoy blinked again, startled by the unexpected solemness toward something he had so casually slipped into. He didn't question it, however. "That will be fine."
"I still question why you changed your pronoun use," the younger man persisted.
"Human beings-- flesh--makes a greater testament to a person's character than any piece of paper or computer readout," the Doctor explained evenly. "I examined you, son. I know what you endured and how hard you fought to get to where you are. You stopped being a boy a long time ago."
This time it was Chekov who blinked in surprise. Wide brown eyes stayed fixed on McCoy's steel blue ones. The basic respect he saw in them the Doctor saw returned two fold without hesitation.
"Speaking of being a boy," the Doctor asserted, a knowing glint coming into his eyes. "Did you enjoy jumping off the roof of your house when you were a child?"
The Ensign's head jerked upright, regarding the ship's Chief Surgeon as though he'd gone insane. "I most certainly did not! Our home was three stories with a full attic," he declared. "I'm still alive, aren't I?"
McCoy's eyes narrowed, staring at the new Navigator as he considered the possibilities. A sudden grin swept over his face. "I know you: you had a favorite tree you climbed and were too impatient to climb down: you always jumped out of it."
"I..." Chekov began another protest, but stopped to eye the Doctor. "Why do you say this?"
"Hip damage," McCoy stated simply. "You have hip damage which was caused by routinely jumping from a height of approximately six feet."
The young man stared at him in blatant curiosity. "You can tell this just by the damage?"
"It's not even modern medicine, son. It's not apparent to you now, but it's quite visible to anyone with even primitive equipment. No one ever told you that you have hip damage?"
"The Doctor's at the Academy avoided me," he reminded the older man. "Dr. Bob was busy treating my leg."
"I'm sure you didn't know jumping out of that tree could lead to arthritis. You're young but I'd advise you to get it fixed before it starts causing you problems: it'll only deteriorate without treatment."
The Ensign leaned back at this, scowling. "I suppose you want to operate," he rasped.
"Frankly, son, I've got plenty to keep me busy without adding you to the list," McCoy retorted. "The damage won't interfere with your life for years. Once it does, it can't be entirely reversed, though. Live with it as long as you choose: suit yourself."
The Doctor examined the skin on his hands casually as he felt the young man studying him.
"How long a stay in sickbay would this procedure require?" Chekov inquired. "Would I be unable to perform my routine duties?"
McCoy chuckled silently to himself, still staring at his hand. The first question most patients had would have been about the discomfort involved and the length of time it would be endured. That the Navigator didn't even consider the pain spoke to his assertion that such inconvenience he considered a mere fact of life. He was only worried that he wouldn't be able to report to duty as scheduled.
Character, the Doctor observed ruefully. Jim Kirk is usually right.
The Chief Surgeon heard also the underlying question of how long Chekov would have to endure a stay in sickbay. He raised his eyes to meet the younger man's gaze. "It could be done on your day off. Usually, I prefer using the privilege of moving a person off the active duty list so a day off isn't wasted. You'll come to realize how precious the time you have to yourself is in deep space service after a few red alerts, but I don't suppose you'd be willing to consider that option."
"No, Sir, I wouldn't."
"I didn't think so," McCoy acknowledged. "The procedure wouldn't take more than an hour. I usually prefer to observe a patient for the rest of the day." He forcefully bit back a smirk when he saw the man's reaction to that. "Son, I'd be willing to accept that you are quite familiar with your own body and can relax in your own bed after such a simple treatment."
The Doctor instantly threw up a finger when he saw the outright glee in the young man's uncontained wild grin. "That's assuming you'll be willing to accept my house calls during that time," he rasped.
"Yes, Sir," Chekov agreed emphatically.
"It's part of our contract," McCoy continued. "I'll always offer the least invasive option available. No matter what a pain in the ass it is."
The Ensign nodded gratefully. "Thank you, Sir."
"Just part of my job, son."
Repeating the nod, the Navigator then bent over and casually reached into the basket he'd placed on the floor when he'd arrived.
"I heard we have something in common, so I brought some things for you."
"I'll have you know that I'm not above bribery," the Doctor observed helpfully, peering over the desk's edge to try to see what the younger man was doing.
"Not bribery: payment in tangible goods," the Ensign corrected.
"An old country Doctor is definitely not above that, either. What do you have there?" he insisted, becoming downright impatient now.
Chekov straightened and held up a hand containing two round objects: their brilliant color shocking in the dismal gray universe of a deep space ship. He offered one to the Doctor with polished graciousness.
"Good God Almighty!" McCoy exclaimed, grabbing it and pressing the rough, scented skin against his nose and mouth in sinful delight. "Where on Earth did you get fresh oranges?"
"In Georgia," Chekov replied with maddening simplicity. He ripped the rind of his orange open, sending an intoxicating spray of scent into the air. "Georgia has the best citrus fruit on Earth. I brought some for my purser's stores."
That made sense, the Doctor thought as he tore into his own precious fruit. Officer's all had an assigned storage section in the purser's stores and having just come aboard from Earth, there was no telling the treasures that Chekov had hidden away in his.
"Georgia is famous for its peaches," McCoy said through his mouthful of dripping flesh. "Citrus grows a bit south, in Florida, Chekov."
A wry smile gleamed in the Ensign's dark eyes, but it didn't reach his face. He indicated the bottle he'd placed on the Doctor's desk. "I also brought you some Georgian wine. There's still no finer vintage in the known Galaxy."
"Son," McCoy drawled with a fine southern accent. "The only liquor made in Georgia is 'shine, and it isn't put in fine bottles like this.
"What is it exactly that we have in common?" he asked as he picked up the bottle and studied it's strange label.
"We're both Georgian," the Navigator replied.
McCoy froze and raised his bright blue eyes, staring at the young man solidly. "Ensign, your classic Muscovite features and big puppy dog eyes identify you as a Russian instantly."
A sudden, dark glance and tightened jaw told the Doctor he'd hit some button, but he couldn't begin to comprehend how. The new Ensign seemed to have more buttons than any man rightly deserved.
The young man made a show of placing his orange rind in the basket on the floor. He straightened and softly cleared his throat, but did not meet McCoy's gaze. "Doctor," he said with care. "Calling a Russian a Muscovite is considered an insult. It means they're pretentious and uppity."
"I didn't realize that," McCoy explained, but a cursory survey of the younger man's face told him it was hardly his largest mistake. "What else did I say?"
The dark eyes did glance at him this time, although they flitted on past him almost immediately. "You never use the word 'puppy' in any description of a Russian man--not if you want to live."
The Doctor chuckled and began working the cork out of the wine bottle. "Mr. Chekov, puppies are cute, cuddly and irresistible. You can't tell me that you don't realize you inspire those sentiments in the females around you: I've seen you with them. There are far worse things you could be called."
The comment caused color to flash into the Navigator's cheeks. His warm, soulful eyes did touch McCoy's this time. "Not if you're a Russian man, Doctor. 'Puppies' in Russia are small, emasculated and intellectually slow males that are completely unable to ever function as adults. They need to be taken care of and are a burden to the community rather than a contributing member. 'Birdie' has the same meaning."
"Imagine," McCoy remarked. Being five foot six with a small frame, he knew Chekov had defended himself against the term more than once in his lifetime. "I bet you would have punched me in Russia."
In all honesty, Chekov nodded. "Not very well, though," he admitted. "My father doesn't approve of violence, so he always yanked me away from fights. I was in the remedial personal combat class at the Academy." He smirked wildly, dark eyes sparkling as he pushed another piece of fruit into his mouth.
As if I'd believe there was such a class. McCoy refused to acknowledge the bad joke with a smile. He reached behind him to retrieve glasses off a shelf and filled them with wine. "Are you actually trying to tell me that you're an American of Russian decent--from Georgia, no less?" The notion wouldn't be all that ludicrous if it wasn't for the man's pervasive accent.
An easy, bright smile flashed over Chekov's face and sparkled in the warm brown eyes. "That is an interesting idea." He puzzled the notion with such seriousness that it caused the Doctor to chuckle finally. The deepened grin told McCoy that it was the man's intention.
"I am not an American Georgian," the Ensign said. "I am Georgian from the country state of Georgia."
"You're not Russian?" McCoy asked, staring down into the glass in his hand. "This is good wine," he observed as an afterthought.
"I am a Russian citizen," Chekov replied tolerantly. "But Russia is just the largest country-state in the Independent States of the Russian Federation. There are dozens of other country states: Georgia, Belarus, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan…"
"So you're not actually Russian?" the Doctor repeated, purposely interrupting what promised to be a lengthy geography lesson.
Chekov squirmed sheepishly. "With this face? Yes, of course I am Russian. My mother is a Great Russian: that is an actual ethnic Russian. My father is Georgian, though," he explained. "See, I have his dark eyes."
"I wonder what he's using to see," McCoy commented ruefully as he refilled his glass. "So your eyes are your only Georgian trait?" he asked with mild interest.
"Well, no," the younger man muttered, staring into his glass like there was something swimming in the wine. "Georgian men are supposed to be darker, hairy and have...attributes that, well, women seek."
"You meet those criteria," the Doctor agreed. Chekov lost the appearance of being young and innocent with his clothes off. He had a chest full of thick, dark hair as well as the other 'attributes' women sought. He even had a tattoo on his shoulder for some ridiculous reason.
"Georgian men are generally believed to be innately more talented than either Don Juan or Valentino, as well," Chekov confessed reluctantly. "The Georgian government still objects to women traveling in the country alone."
"Humph," McCoy scowled. "I'm not thrilled to find out that your overpowering charm may actually be genetic--if that's possible."
"I hope you're hungry," the younger man observed, reaching back into the basket on the floor and ignoring the Doctor's pointed jibe. "I don't advertise my Georgian heritage," he commented thoughtfully as he rummaged in the basket. "Despite what everyone thinks, being branded by such a reputation has its disadvantages: women and men both have certain expectations of you. Everyone looks at my face and assumes that I'm entirely a Great Russian ethnically and I let them. I trust that you will treat information to the contrary as privileged information."
Chekov straightened again and held up a wide thermal container. "You did tell me not to miss meals. I brought dinner along, thinking you might join me. Here, take a plate."
McCoy's automatic refusal was swept away by the overpowering assault of smells on his senses when the young man opened the container. No odor could ever duplicate genuine meat and fresh vegetables from Earth. Exactly how much fresh food the new Ensign man had brought with him to his first posting was a question that consumed the Doctor instantly. Such a store pitifully never lasted long…especially if an officer was wont to share his good fortune, as Chekov obviously was.
McCoy wasn't about to spurn his share now while it still existed.
The Navigator ladled a heaping portion of some type of thick stew onto the plate before the Doctor. In the dark broth were massive chunks of actual meat, mushrooms, carrots, onions, parsnips and potatoes. The Doctor groaned aloud in primal pleasure without shame as the first taste assaulted him.
"This is incredible, Ensign. Don't try to tell me that the ship's cook managed to create this: even with your ingredients."
"I did help him," the Navigator admitted. In the word 'help' McCoy understood 'taught'. "Fresh bread?" the young man continued.
Chekov grinned as the man grabbed without shame for the offered treat. "It's Russian Black Bread," he warned.
"I like pumpernickel," the Doctor commented, but straightened as he chewed and the unusual flavor assaulted him. "Not pumpernickel," he observed. "But it's good."
"I am glad you approve. It is considered a treat."
The Navigator slowly savored the stew, watching with amusement as the Doctor devoured his own portion. He paused to ladle more on the Doctor's plate after the man emptied it.
"What is this meat?" McCoy asked curiously. "It certainly isn't game, but it's not anything domesticated I recognize. It's not beef, buffalo, ostrich, emu..."
"No," Chekov agreed. "They tried to domesticate them at one time, but they couldn't. They're beautiful animals, but they're quite headstrong. It's actually my favorite meat."
"I can see why they appeal to you," the Doctor observed. "You have a lot in common with these animals." He flashed a wry grin when the Ensign glared at him. "What kind of meat is it?" the Doctor persisted, shoveling more of it into his mouth enthusiastically.
The younger man took the time to swallow before answering. "It's reindeer meat."
McCoy straightened, freezing as he eyed Chekov. "Reindeer? As is Santa Claus?"
"Yes," the Navigator confirmed. "Ninety percent of the Earth's reindeer population are raised by nomads in Siberia."
"Ninety percent?" the Doctor repeated with dubious curiosity about the truth of the statement. "Really? Aren't they at the North Pole?"
"No: in Siberia," Chekov insisted. "The rest are in Alaska and Norway.
"Sulu can't eat it," he added, scowling in thought at the piece of meat on his spoon. "He gags on it: says he has some sort of hang-up about Rudolph.
"I have told him," the Ensign insisted, his accent growing thicker as he pushed the meat into his mouth. "The instant any reindeer is born with the ability to fly they call Santa immediately."
The Doctor laughed out loud despite himself. "I didn't know Santa hung around Russia, Son."
"He generally doesn't," the younger man agreed again. "Father Frost and his daughter, The Snow Maiden, deliver our presents and they don't use reindeer. We do know about Santa, however, and have no objection to providing him all the magic animals we come across."
"Mighty sporting of you."
"We're that way."
McCoy chuckled again and returned his attention to his stew.
Chekov stared at his own empty plate in silence for a moment. "Did Doctor Chapman actually put in my file that I…"
The Doctor stopped eating, raising his eyes to stare at the new officer. "Have an appetite for Doctor's?"
"Interesting way of putting it," came the muttered observation as the young man's face greyed.
"It's professional courtesy to pass on all information that might be important to future medical personnel," McCoy stated.
"That confirms my suspicions of why the Academy Doctors avoided me."
"We don't have that option here," McCoy observed. He sighed and put his spoon down on the plate. "Son, whatever your accident was, you developed an extraordinary discomfort with the medical profession during treatment that you need to deal with: that we need to deal with. Young children sometimes bite. You're not a child and I'm clearly willing to classify your behavior as something other than biting."
"I have strong jaw muscles," Chekov retorted in reply. "What else did Dr. Bob helpfully put in my medical record?"
The Doctor shrugged, blue eyes sparkling. "Well, let's just say if you don't show up for an appointment I'll know where to go looking for you." He smiled warmly when Chekov flushed.
"I'm a little big for that," he said curtly, squirming in an obvious effort to regain some dignity.
"Son, according to your records, you were the same height and weighed more when you were sixteen. 'Dr. Bob'," he continued, using the younger man's nickname for Robert Chapman, "Noted that he also used that solution for his own needs on occasion. Let's just say I'm taking the hint and having a nearby closet emptied and equipped with a strong lock in case you feel compelled to break our contract."
Chekov dropped his dish and spoon into the basket on the floor. His jaw tightened. "Well, now, Dr. Bob did do a lot of chatting in my file, didn't he?"
McCoy nodded easily. It had disturbed him when he first read it, but after having met Chekov, he now found it enchanting that Dr. Chapman had found such a unique way to control the young man's wild moods. "It's your file. You can read it if you want, you know."
The shadow that crossed the young man's face told McCoy that if he'd known it, Chekov certainly had not considered the option.
"I do not need to: I lived it. That closet door was never locked," the Ensign divulged.
The Doctor drained the wine glass, studying the Russian with interest while he spoke. "When did you find that out?" he asked. It wasn't noted in the record, but, again, McCoy felt better about Dr. Chapman when he believed Chekov's information about the lock.
"I always knew there was no lock. Dr. Bob just knew I just needed a space . . . to do what I needed to do sometimes."
"Do you anticipate 'needing space' while you're aboard?" McCoy goaded.
"Why, Sir? Are you planning to rip a piece of my leg off?" Chekov asked sharply as he stood up. "I found ways to live with the pain. I sincerely pray that you never understand what lengths that can necessitate. Throwing a screaming tantrum was, at times, quite helpful."
"You can have the rest," he continued, indicating the food. "Share it with someone. Are we done yet, or do I need more psychoanalyzing?"
"I think we're done," the Doctor observed. "Thank-you for the food."
Chekov remained standing there, his dark eyes studying the ship's Chief Medical Officer. "We have a contract, don't we, Doctor?"
McCoy nodded deeply. "Yes, son, we have a contract.
"Mr. Chekov," he added as the Ensign moved to leave.
The young man hesitated at the door and turned back. His warm, expressive dark eyes stared at the Doctor out of the sweet, innocent face of an angel.
McCoy didn't buy it. Not for an instant.
He casually reached his hand into his Grandmother's bag, still resting on the desk where he'd left it.
"Your smile is one of your best features, Ensign," he observed. Fixing cold, steel blue eyes on Chekov, the Doctor dropped a crude set of steel pliers next to his plate.
"Don't make me change that."