Title: The Feeling of Being in Motion Again
Series: Going to Georgia
Pairing(s): McCoy/Chapel UST
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek. Someone else far cleverer than me does. The titles and excerpts are from Going to Georgia by the Mountain Goats.
Summary: When Christine volunteered to cover a few night shifts in Starfleet Academy's infirmary, she thought she had some idea of what to expect. She really should have known better. Pre-movie at the Academy.
A/N: Well, here it is. This is the first of the Going to Georgia series centered on Doctor McCoy and Nurse Chapel. It will follow their relationship pre, during and post-movie. At the moment, I plan to parse these out as related one-shots, but a few chaptered stories may sneak in. I hope you enjoy them as much as I've enjoyed thinking and writing about them.
Please let me know what you think!
the best thing about coming home to you is the feeling of being in motion again
When Christine volunteered to cover a few night shifts in Starfleet Academy's infirmary, she thought she had some idea of what to expect. She'd actually been pretty keen on the idea because of the access to the lab in the back. It was quieter than the one in the Biochemistry Department and a part of her preferred to actually conduct her medical research in a place where medicine was actually practiced. Not to mention the shifts kept her credentials up to date and she was technically an enlisted nurse first and at the tender mercies of Starfleet as it was.
So she took the shifts and figured that she'd have a few people wander in with some minor injuries, a few looking for anti-hangover remedies and maybe someone looking for some last minute prophylactics. The rest of the evening she'd be free to study and use the lab.
She really should have known better.
It was 01:00 and Christine was deep into updating her research notes when she heard the commotion. She stopped reading and tilted her head to listen. There it was again. In Exam Room 2. She left the lab, absently smoothed her skirt and cautiously walked down the hallway towards the exam rooms, her soft-soled shoes silent on the floor. The light from the exam room spilled out into the previously darkened hallway. She paused a few feet away from the open door, her hand on her panic button.
"I swear Jim, this is the last time I go out drinking with you," a gruff voice said. Drawers opened and slammed. "Where the hell are the medikits?!"
"I had no idea she had a boyfriend. She didn't tell me she had a boyfriend," a rather slurred voice said. "He was kinda big, wasn't he?"
"Yes, he was," the gruff man said. Another drawer slammed shut. "I should have just taken you straight to the dorms. This is the goddamn infirmary! Where do they keep everything?"
Christine decided to make her presence known, but kept her hand on her comm.
"We tend to keep everything locked away at night," she said as she entered the room. "You never know who'll start ransacking the place."
She took in the two people in her exam room. Both male, both wore rumpled, red Cadet uniforms and both stared at her in slight surprise. The one who had been making all the racket was tall with dark hair and a scowl on his slightly older face, blood on his shirt and knuckles that were beginning to swell slightly. The other one was younger, blond and when all the blood was washed off his face, and he sobered up, was probably quite pretty. Christine met the dark one's glare and asked innocently:
The pretty one on the table snorted and then groaned as the motion jarred his bloody nose.
"Oh for... Stop moving!" the dark one yelled at his friend. He fixed his glare back onto Christine. "I need a spray applicator with antibacterial solution. Leave out the anaesthetic. He deserves to feel this one."
"And you are?" she asked calmly.
"McCoy. Leonard McCoy," he answered. "I'm a doctor."
"I'm Jim," the pretty one piped up with. "You've got great legs."
She spared him an amused glance and got what could have been a charming smile if not for aforementioned blood and swelling.
"And I'm Christine Chapel, the nurse on duty," she said. She dropped the panic comm back into her pocket and faced McCoy. "And, 'Doctor', I'm afraid you'll have to let me patch up your friend. Regulations."
"Are you serious?" he asked incredulously. "I'm a fully qualified doctor!"
He slammed his bruised hand down on the counter top to punctuate his statement and somehow managed to hold in the exclamation of pain while his face contorted into a grimace.
"Clearly," Christine commented dryly. He looked like he was about to object again and she held out her hands in placation. "Look. I have absolutely no doubt that you are a doctor, but at the moment you are in my infirmary dressed in Cadet red with a bruised hand and therefore that makes you my patient."
He struggled with that for a moment; 'Jim' on the table just looked back and forth between the two of them.
"Fine," McCoy said at last. "But I'm not leaving the room."
"It never crossed my mind to ask you to," she said. "Wait here and I'll be right back."
She managed to keep the smile off her face until she reached the store room and she shook her head in amusement as she unlocked the cupboard for the medikits. She grabbed what she needed and then headed back to her patients. Halfway down the hall she started to wonder where she had heard the name Leonard McCoy before, but mentally shrugged her shoulders and entered the exam room.
McCoy stood more or less where she'd left him, but with his arms crossed over his chest and propped against the counters. Jim had lain down on the exam table; his eyes were closed and legs dangled over the side. McCoy just watched her with narrowed eyes as she walked over. Christine set the kit down on the counter next to McCoy and turned to stand beside the exam table next to his friend.
"Well, Jim, here we go," she said. His eyes remained closed. "I'm going to need you to sit up."
"Don't think I can," Jim mumbled. His eyes opened and his mouth quirked a little. "'Sides, I do some of my best work horizontally."
A muffled 'Oh, Christ' came from McCoy's direction.
"Jim?" Chapel asked with a patient smile.
"Ye-es?" Jim drawled, his mouth turned into a full-on grin. Christine dropped her smile.
"Sit up," she ordered.
Jim sat up. Slowly and with a groan that was probably not for effect. He glanced over at McCoy.
"You could have given me a push," he complained.
"Hey, I'm off duty," McCoy said. He nodded at Chapel. "Nurse's orders. You're on your own."
Jim sighed and faced Christine. She began by gently pressing his cheekbones and jaw, and then moved up to his nose.
"You don't use a scanner?" McCoy asked in a curious tone.
"For some things," she answered her attention still on the bones she was feeling under her fingers. "I was trained initially for emergency medicine and you don't always have time to set up a scan. I prefer the tactile approach."
"Refreshing outlook," he said, his tone close to respectful.
"Actually, it's kinda painful," Jim said, he winced away from Chapel's prod of his nose, but with her firm hand on his chin, he didn't get far.
"Well, Cadet," she said. "Your nose is not broken, so I won't have to pop it back in, but you're going to have a lot of swelling for a day or two."
"That's what Bones said," Jim said. At Chapel's confused look, he jerked his thumb in McCoy's direction. "He's Bones. All he's got left."
Chapel looked over her shoulder at McCoy who just rolled his eyes.
"Okay," she said with a small smile as she let go of Jim's face. "Let's get this blood off of you first, then I'll give you an antibiotic injection and something to reduce the swelling."
As Christine got out the gauze from the kit, loaded up the hypospray and the applicator, she was terribly conscious of McCoy watching her. She decided to ignore him and went back to Jim and began to clean the cadet's face. She was halfway finished when she became very aware that the kid was smirking at her. She raised her eyebrows in response.
"You're very pretty," he said, his blue eyes still hazy with alcohol. "You have very soft hands. And you smell like, like..."
He leaned into Christine's space and inhaled a little and then smiled triumphantly.
"Cookies!" he said gleefully. "You smell like cookies!"
Christine stared at him in amusement. McCoy groaned. Jim just continued to grin.
"It's highly attractive," Jim explained.
"Well, you're very drunk," she said slowly and matter-of-factly as one might if they were speaking to a three year old. "You have a swollen nose and a black eye. And, you smell like an alley behind a bar. It's highly un-attractive."
She took a strange amount of satisfaction in hearing the snort that came from McCoy's direction and the sight of the crestfallen look on Jim's face. However, the kid perked back up with a beaming smile.
"Does that mean you want to give me a sponge bath?" he asked hopefully.
"Jesus Christ, Jim," McCoy said loudly. "Knock it off and let the woman do her job in peace."
"Fine," Jim said with a sigh. He leaned towards Christine and whispered, "You do smell like cookies, though. And your hands are a lot softer than his."
"Duly noted," she whispered back.
She finished cleaning the blood off his face and threw the waste into the bio-hazard bin. She lightly applied a thin layer of disinfectant with the applicator on the worst cut. Then took the hypospray and while Jim cringed pitifully, gave him a shot with an anti-inflammatory/antibiotic solution. Then she stood in front of him and put her hands on her hips.
"Would it fall on deaf ears to tell you not to get into any more fistfights?" she asked with narrowed eyes.
"Probably," Jim answered.
"Definitely," McCoy answered at the same time.
"Ask a stupid question," she murmured to herself. Then she addressed him again. "Could you, at the very least, hold off for a week or two to let the bruises heal?"
"I'll try," Jim answered solemnly, his eyes wide and guileless. Christine didn't buy it for a second.
She turned to McCoy who was still propped up against the counter, brows furrowed.
"Your turn," she said. "Let's see that hand."
"It's fine," he said with a glare. She just looked at him. With a grumble and a roll of his eyes, he held out his right hand. Christine held it carefully and firmly in hers and lifted it up to inspect the knuckles.
"Only mild abrasions. Extend your fingers," she directed. She felt along each digit and was satisfied that it was only bruised and not broken or out of joint. "What did you hit?"
"Guy's face," he answered mildly.
"A guy's face broke the skin?" she asked as she glanced up at his face.
"The teeth in his mouth did," he said with a rueful quirk of his lips.
"Men," she said simply. "Okay, I'm not going to need to do much, just clean the cuts and I can give you a hypospray of antibiotic if you'd like."
"I'd like," he said with feeling. "I don't know where the hell that guy's been, but it probably wasn't hygienic. I doubt his mouth has ever met mouthwash let alone a dentist."
"Understood," she said. She let his hand go and rummaged in the kit for an alcohol pad.
"I have to say," she said casually as she opened the small packet. "You're being far more cooperative than I expected."
Christine turned back to McCoy and he obediently held his hand back out.
"Well," he began; his dark eyes watched her movements intently, "the first thing one of my instructors told me at med school was never to piss off a nurse."
She smiled as she applied the alcohol soaked gauze to his slightly swollen knuckles.
"Good advice," she commented.
"Only thing the man ever said that made any sense," he said with a slight wince as the alcohol seeped into his skin.
Christine chuckled a little and carefully patted the wounded area. When she was satisfied that she'd disinfected as best she could, she loaded up another hypospray with just a standard antibiotic. She looked up and realized that even though she was hardly petite, McCoy was a rather tall man. His chest and shoulders seemed to take up a large amount of space. She smiled apologetically.
"Bend down a bit, please?" she asked. With only the faintest of smirks, McCoy complied and bent slightly and tilted his head so that his neck was bared for her.
She pressed the hypospray against his neck and depressed the solution. He grimaced.
"We can build starships that explore the cosmos and yet, we can't create a hypospray that doesn't sting like a son of a bitch," he said. His eyes flicked to hers apologetically. "Pardon my language."
Christine just smiled as she put the instrument away.
"Well, if you follow what my mother used to say, it's probably not a bad thing," she said. He raised an eyebrow at her. "She used to say that if medicine tasted good, people would just stay sick."
McCoy snorted, "Ain't that the truth."
He studied her for a moment and Christine fought the urge to pull at her skirt or straighten her hair, his gaze was so serious. He seemed to come to some internal decision and straightened up.
"What are the chances I could get a medikit or two to keep at the dorm?" he asked. Christine smiled again.
"I think I can go you one better," she said. She grabbed her PADD off the counter. "If you give me your mail account, I'll send it on to the person who arranges the shifts. I bet they'd be happy to have a doctor on call. They're always short-staffed and you can generally get a fair amount of quiet time in the night shifts. Keeps your certs in line, too."
She handed him the PADD to type his information into.
"Plus," she added. "You get fairly unlimited access to standard medikits."
"Unlimited sounds about right," he mumbled as he shot Jim a glare before he typed in his address. Christine looked over at his friend who had fallen asleep on the exam table, mouth open and arms hanging over the sides.
"Will you need a lift back to your dorm?" she asked wryly. "I can call for a taxi?"
McCoy handed the PADD back to her and shook his head.
"No," he said. "The walk'll sober his ass up."
He cringed and opened his mouth, but Christine cut him off with a raised hand.
"I get the impression that if you apologize every time you swear, we'll be here for hours," she said. "I've got a father and four uncles. I've heard it all."
"Fair enough," McCoy said with a flash of a grin, which inexplicably did things to her stomach, but his grin quickly fell into an exasperated look as he regarded his friend. He walked over and stood right next to Jim.
"Get up," he said in a normal tone of voice.
Jim's response was a groan and a twitch of his arms. McCoy sighed deeply. He leaned down and spoke loudly right into Jim's ear.
"Get up now or I will leave your drunk ass in the gutter. Again."
One eyelid slowly cracked.
"No, you won't," Jim croaked. "You only left me there for half an hour last time."
"Last time I didn't have a throbbing hand due to a punch I really didn't want to throw," McCoy said through gritted teeth. "My hand hurts, Jim. Get up."
"It was damn good punch though," Jim said as he sat up. He swayed a little and then slid off the table to his feet. He glanced over at Christine. "He wouldn't leave me in a gutter. He's a doctor."
"So I've heard," Christine said. She glanced at McCoy. "You sure you don't need that lift?"
"Yeah, we're fine," he said. He grabbed Jim's arm and started to drag him out the door. "Thanks and sorry about him."
"Don't worry about it," she said as she followed them to the front door. "It's my job. I'll forward your name to the Infirmary Coordinator."
"I'd appreciate it," he said. He looked at her with eyes that had taken on a gleam and depth to them that Christine suddenly wanted to explore. "Be seein' you, Nurse Chapel."
"I'm sure you will," she said with a grin.
"Bye!" Jim said with a wave. McCoy huffed and pushed him through the open doors. Christine watched them walk slowly down the sidewalk back to the main campus. She smiled to herself and went back to clean up the exam room.
The rest of the shift was silent. Christine finished writing up her research notes and got a good start on her Xenobiology reading. When the morning staff turned up, she left quickly and headed to her apartment situated in the staff quarters. She breathed in the scent of salt coming off the Bay. It was approaching winter and the usually temperate climate was beginning to get a sharp cool edge. Christine jogged quickly up the last few steps of her building and quickly let herself in. She thanked numerous deities daily for the fact she had a room all to herself. She dropped her PADD on the table next to her bed and dragged herself into the shower.
It wasn't until she was curled up and drifting off to sleep that she remembered where she'd heard his name before.
"I read your article," a calm, female voice said to McCoy.
He looked up from his notes to glare at the person who had just interrupted his train of thought. The glare lost steam when he realized that the person who'd addressed him was the nurse from the other night. The blonde. Chapel. He'd actually expected to run into her again (and wanted to, admit it, Leonard), especially after he started to take on a shift or two in the clinic, but surprisingly hadn't. He certainly didn't expect to see her in his Xenobiology lecture class.
"My what?" he asked.
"Your article about pandemics in the 21st century," she clarified. "The section regarding the response to H1N1 made me reconsider my opinion of mass inoculations."
McCoy settled back in his chair and studied her. Intelligent eyes, clear voice and a level head; those had been the attributes that struck him that night in the infirmary and they were all present and accounted for now. Not to mention the legs; those were extremely well displayed due to the Starfleet uniform.
He may not be led around by his testes quite like Jim, but the kid was right about her legs. They were pretty great.
"Did you read it before or after I invaded your infirmary?" he asked with a smirk. She smirked back.
"Before, actually," she said. "I have a tendency to devour medical journals."
"There are worse hobbies," he commented thinking of the list of journals loaded on his own PADD on his bedside table. "What brings you to this neck of the woods?"
"I'm in the class," she said and she raised her head, as if preparing for a fight.
"You're a student?" he asked evenly.
"Yep. I'm going for my doctorate in Endocrinology," she said.
"And you're still nursing?" he asked feeling a little impressed.
"Only a few shifts a week," she said.
McCoy shook his head and chuckled a little.
"What?" she asked with a frown.
"Nothing. It's good. You going back to school," he said with a bit of a smile. "It's an admirable thing to do."
She actually laughed and the simple loveliness of it felt like sucker punch to his gut.
"How many times a day do you repeat that to yourself?" she asked with a smile.
McCoy actually let out a bark of laughter himself at her question.
"At least nine times before lunch," he answered truthfully. He shrugged. "Mid-life crisis."
"Funny, I didn't take you for being quite that old," her eyes had taken on an actual gleam.
"Well, I was always jumping ahead in class," he said with a grin that he just couldn't stop from forming.
She grinned back and was about to say something else when the instructor walked in and told everyone to take their seats. She looked at him and indicated the seat next to him.
"May I?" she asked politely.
"Sure," he drawled. "I'll warn you though, I tend to talk back and I've never met an argument I didn't like."
"I'll take my chances," she responded dryly. She set her bag on the floor and sat down, crossing her legs primly. A lock of blonde hair fell forward as she leaned forward to retrieve her PADD and McCoy caught just a whisper of her scent.
Well, goddamn if Jim wasn't right again.
She did smell like cookies.