Hearts and Hands

By

Pat Foley

Now that the shooting was over, and his surgery patients were settled and sleeping in the ward, McCoy was hoping for a long drink and a short nap, in that order. Instead Christine brought him a hot cup of coffee and told him she had a small queue of patients more or less triaged and waiting in the outer exam area. He'd forgotten that they were carrying 'a hundred valuable Federation passengers'. And ones not used to fireworks and Starship decks dropping out from under them.

There was only one fairly serious injury, a broken wing from a creature that looked rather like an ostrich. But even the ostrich agreed the wing was vestigial and the injury thus relatively minor. While McCoy pinned it, the feathered diplomat, his huge eyes still sparking with excitement, crowed about how he thought it was well worth the inconvenience to say that he had been in a real starship battle, and confided that with a little judicious embroidery in the telling (perhaps alluding to his wing being broken in some heroic saving of the ship) he could dine out on the tale for months. McCoy considered that as the ostrich ate mostly insects, worms and yeasty grain mashes, such dinners couldn't be worth the inconvenience of breaking even a vestigial appendage, much less the risk of a starship battle. But he himself was rather jaded in the area of such fireworks and, not wanting to rob the creature of his assumed glamour he saw him out, theatrically dragging his newly pinned wing.

He plowed determinedly through the queue until he got to the last patient, the injured tail of the Felinoid Ambassador himself.

"Not a very honorable scar," the Ambassador said, who had listened to the previous patient's feathered delusions of glory, not without a slight gleam and a tale twitch -- in spite of his injury -- at what was essentially tempting prey. Instincts die hard, even in Federation ambassadors. He confided that he had caught his tail in one of the turbolift doors. McCoy diagnosed a painful sprain, rather than a break. A dose of sonics, and a hypospray of anti-inflammatories soon had it as good as new. Mraow, the Ambassador, was both grateful and delighted at McCoy's deft and ready cure, explaining that one could hardly move with an out of joint tail, it serving as a rudder and balance for any agile four legged creature such as himself.

He tried out its renewed functionality with typical feline enthusiasm by bounding around the room at a brisk canter, coming inadvertently on a collision course with Amanda, who had just stepped out of the ward doors into the outer exam room. Mraow tried to skid to a stop, but his paws and claws had no purchase on the smooth floor, and the panicked expression on his cat face would have been amusing under other circumstances. After a few seconds of sliding and a dismayed yowl, he executed a neat half twist, narrowly missing Amanda. Seeing the four hundred pounds of feline muscle heading directly at her, Amanda had aided his evasive move by a drop and roll of her own, surprisingly quick thinking for a woman who'd been through a rather horrendous ordeal already that day. McCoy peeked out from between his fingers, having covered his face with both hands when he had seen the fur, so to speak, begin to fly. After a day like today, he expected the worst. The complimentary bow and allemande had left the pair nearly nose to nose on the floor together, both momentarily stunned and bemused.

With his felinoid reflexes, Mraow recovered first, held out a paw and purred suavely, a tomcat in his distinguished tiger stripes. "A thousand pardons for my clumsiness, my lady. A small difficulty in traction. And I feel my tail is not quite over its sprain."

Amanda accepted the paw and rose with grace to her feet, her charm undiminished by the event. "Not at all, Ambassador Mraow. I often wish I myself had four legs when I see one of your people, you are all so agile."

"Ah, you could not be more so, my lady, even if you had all four legs and the tail too," Mraow said gallantly, and bouncing back to his paws took his leave and his tail, which once again narrowly missed being snapped up again in the closing door until McCoy gasped and hollered a warning. Mraow belatedly pulled it in just ahead of disaster and the doors snapped closed behind him.

"Whoever said cats weren't clumsy? After all that, I really need a drink," McCoy said, with a huge sigh. "But first, are you all right?"

"Oh, yes" Amanda brushed the accident off. "When you are used to a half ton of sehlat heading for you in Vulcan's heavy gravity, you learn to drop and roll quickly, if you want to keep your knees unsprung."

"I shouldn't have let him canter like that in sickbay." McCoy grumbled, and rummaged among his bottles. "All these felinoids act like they are permanently high on catnip."

"'Their tops are made out of rubber; their bottoms are made out of springs'," Amanda commented obscurely.

"Huh?" McCoy looked up from his perusal of liquors. He needed something with a real punch.

"Tigger." When he still looked blank, she added. "Winnie the Pooh?"

"Good God. How did you end up married to Sarek?"

"I was kidnapped by a cartel smuggling green Orion slave girls into Vulcan and traded to Sarek as a bribe," she said matter-of-factly, watching him rattle his bottles. "Haven't you got any Orion applescotch? I grew to like it in the pens."

"Really?" McCoy's jaw gaped open and he turned to her in shock. "Really!"

"Good lord, I was teasing."

"Oh, of course." McCoy said, embarrassed.

"I've never liked applescotch. A pallid drink. What I really prefer is tea." She dialed the Earl Grey herself from a servitor and sipped. "Anyway, slavers wouldn't waste good scotch on stock. We never got anything but water in the pens."

"Now, look here," McCoy said severely, after he'd finished coughing out the fifty year old bourbon he'd inhaled when he'd choked. "I've had a long day patching up your Vulcans while the ship was being shot out from under me, and if you're not going to tell me the truth, at least don't lie with such a straight face."

"He saw me across a crowded room and it was love at first sight." Amanda confessed solemnly. "For him that is. Quavered about romance the moment he laid eyes on me. Naturally, I kept my head and held out until he promised me a dilithium mine – he's fabulously rich -- and the planetary rulership. Given that some day I'll be matriarch of Vulcan I thought the marriage worth it just for that irony alone. Not to mention the dilithium. A girl can never have too many good stones. One of my very first dictates as matriarch will be that every Vulcan has to believe six impossible things before breakfast and --"

"Amanda!"

"Though he's not bad looking. If you overlook the ears."

"Enough! I give in!"

"And if you like that devilish type."

"He couldn't possibly be more devilish than you!"

Amanda smiled. "May I have some more tea?"

"Dial it yourself," McCoy growled. "If I was an Orion slaver, I wouldn't go after you even with a tractor beam."

"Sarek has been known to say the same thing. But with slavers – and Vulcans – there's no moneyback guarantee."

McCoy sat back and looked her over. "Now I know where your son gets it."

"Gets what?" she asked innocently.

"If you only knew how that Vulcan son of yours has plagued me. I can see he learned it at your knee."

"I know a little bit. About your plagues. He writes."

"Not fair, him telling tales out of school."

Amanda suddenly grew serious. "Doctor. I don't know how to thank you. Honestly. I know about what you did for Spock when he was in Pon Far. And now…you've given me back my whole life. Twice."

"Now, none of that," McCoy said with alarm. "I don't need thanks, much less tears."

She brushed away at her eyes. "Sorry. Just chalk it up to my being an emotional human," she smiled wickedly, if still a little watery. "Of course, there's always the dilithium mine."

McCoy snorted. "I'll settle for some more sehlat stories. A little telling tales out of school on your part. I need ammunition against that son of yours."

"Me? I would never embarrass him, a Vulcan." Amanda said demurely. "I'm his mother."

"Think of it as helping him find his own humanity," McCoy suggested.

"His father already thinks he's done too much of that," Amanda said dryly.

"Not you, though."

Amanda stopped, suddenly serious, pensive. "Oh, I don't know. What I'd like, and what I really want, what I think is best for him, are two very different things. In some respects, I do think his father is right. He belongs on Vulcan, following in his father's footsteps."

"You can't really believe that."

"And you don't really know what it means to be Vulcan."

"I know it has its shortcomings."

"Yes. But Vulcans can't easily be anything else, and survive."

"Sometimes it takes being a little human to survive. A little flexible. Or so I've observed with your son. And so we discovered today."

"Perhaps it does." She shook her head. "I know I'm grateful for your help – all your help in that regard. But Spock has to make that decision. I can't make it for him. That's one of the things you learn, with Vulcans. They are hard to convince, and slow to change. If you love them, you just have to bear with that. Impossibly hard though it may be at times."

"Well," McCoy said heavily. "That's a discussion for another day. And I know it has been several hours, a murder, a space battle, and a major operation since your husband was telling us it was already a long day for you. I think its time we both got some rest."

Amanda shook her head. "I can't leave."

"Just a cat nap," McCoy teased, a bit wickedly. "It seems appropriate."

Amanda didn't smile. "I'm not leaving them." She looked at McCoy. "I just got them back, Doctor. I thought I had lost them both."

McCoy sighed. "What if I have the monitors programmed so that if your Vulcans so much as blink an eyelash, you'll be called."

"I don't know."

"Give me any more trouble and I'll arrange for it myself. I'm expert with drugged tea and a shifty hypospray. As you well know."

Amanda drew back fractionally. "I'm glad I dialed my own drink."

"You were probably wise. Come on, your Vulcans are sacked out. Past time for us humans to join them. We need to be bright and cheery to poke pins in them tomorrow."

Amanda sighed and shrugged. "Well. I'll take a nap. If I can stay right here."

"You're in luck. I happen to be the proprietor of this establishment. I'll find you a spare ward bed. And not even for the price of a dilithium mine."

"Near Sarek."

McCoy glanced at her. "And here you were just rolling around on the floor with that tomcat of an Ambassador." When Amanda just looked mulish, he amended, "As close as you can get, without being in bed with him."

"Don't think I wouldn't prefer that, if he wasn't recovering from major heart surgery."

McCoy reached down to take her arm. "Seems to me, their hearts are in good hands."

She surprised him by taking both his hands instead, very lightly. His own human heart turned over while she brought them almost reverently to her lips and kissed them, meeting his blue eyes with her own. "I'll say."

And for once speechless, McCoy couldn't think of a last word.

"You walked into that one, Doctor," she said demurely, the sparkle back in her eyes, and linking his arm with hers, led him back into the ward.

Hearts and Hands

By

Pat Foley

Holography series (5 something)

July 2006

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