A/N: Well, this is it! Final chapter. I had originally written this story for the Strange New Worlds III contest, but I didn't win (obviously...lol), so I though I'd post it here. I also wrote a Voyager story for SNW (again, not a winner), which I might post here as well. The Original Series is my favorite Star Trek series, and Dr. McCoy is my favorite character, probably of all the series together, although Q comes in a close second (except for that last Voyager ep they put in him. That one just whomped, and should be about as canon as Star Trek V). I hope I did him justice.

Thanks for all the reviews!! I really do appreciate them!! And I'm enjoying reading the other stories here as well (when I have time, that is)!

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McCoy glanced up at the deep blue sky, squinting in the bright light of the noonday sun.

Where the hell am I? He wondered.

He found himself in a small clearing, surrounded by trees, and he could see the sun glittering off a lake through the tall pines, but he had no idea where or how he had arrived in this place. He felt a weight hanging from his right arm and he looked down to see that he was dressed in civilian clothing and was holding a frying pan. He turned slowly, finding a campsite set up behind him, complete with a crackling campfire.

"Daddy!"

McCoy turned around in time to drop the frying pan and catch his daughter as she threw herself at him with a laugh. Her chestnut locks were pulled back in a ponytail and her blue eyes fairly sparkled as she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek.

McCoy's mind was in a whirl. His daughter was here, in his arms, whole and healthy. It didn't seem possible--it was not possible, he reasoned. He didn't care to unravel the enigma, however. He just held her tightly, afraid to let her go, lest she vanish.

She finally pulled back and looked in his eyes. "Don't worry, Daddy," she whispered, smoothing his brow with her small fingers. "I'll make everything all better." And before he could even wonder what she was talking about, she leaned forward and kissed his forehead.

He felt a strange feeling wash over him, and sensed that there was something he was forgetting, something important. He struggled to bring back that missing part of himself, but it was no use.

"Daddy." Joanna's childish reproof brought him out of the depths of his thoughts. "Can we clean those fish now?"

Suddenly, everything came back to him, and he felt like a fool for his lapse in memory. He must have been out in the sun too long because he couldn't even remember why he was holding Joanna, but he did know that he was on his annual camping trip with her, and they were about to cook their traditional fish dinner. He kissed her forehead in return, and set her down.

"Are you hungry?" he asked, picking up the frying pan.

She took his free hand. "Starved! So try not to burn it this time, okay?"

As the world faded into darkness, he laughed, feeling wonderfully alive and well.

The darkness faded to reveal the surroundings of his quarters. Joanna and the campsite had disappeared, but he still felt wonderfully alive and well, and completely awake. He sat up and ordered the computer to raise the lights.

Strange, that dream about Joanna, he thought. It seemed so real, and he was perforce reminded of the recent dreams that Jim had described about his lost brother, Sam. Only those dreams hadn't been dreams at all, but telepathic contact from the Naidu. And from the way Jim had described it, they had been pure torture for him, seeing his brother dying like that. McCoy couldn't begin to imagine what that must have been like.

Hell, he thought, I can't even remember much of last week. He must have worked himself into a such a state of exhaustion trying to save the Naidu that he'd developed a short-term amnesia. He'd seen such cases before, and the effects were usually temporary, so he didn't devote much energy to worrying about it. Of course, that bottle of Saurian brandy probably didn't help the situation, he mused. It must have been a hard week. And had Jim been in the officer's lounge with him last night? He couldn't remember much of that incident, either, and he finally gave up trying.

He rose, rubbing the last vestiges of sleep out of his eyes, and made his way over to the computer station at his desk. The images of Joanna pleasantly clung in his mind, drawing a smile from the depths of his heart up to his face. Still, he thought, something seems missing . . . wrong, somehow. He had the vague impression that she had been sick--very sick. He intellectually knew she was fine, given her recent transmission, but the uneasiness that impression caused would not let him rest until he had addressed it.

He sat down at his desk. "Computer," he said to the station.

"Working," replied the mechanical female voice.

"Begin recording personal transmission."

McCoy looked at the holo of Joanna that stood next to the computer station and smiled. "Joanna? It's Dad. I'm just checking up on you. Maybe it's a doctor's instinct, or a father's, but I just wanted to be sure you're okay. So humor your old man and let me hear from you soon. And Joanna--" He paused, the image of her bright eyes and laughing smile floating on his mind, "I love you."