This fic was inspired by a story by talesfromthespockside called Hero. I just couldn't get it out of my mind and I had to continue it, with permission of course. You don't have to read Hero first, but I highly recommend it.

I am not really familiar with the Star Trek universe aside from the 2009 movie, so please let me know if I have made any mistakes.

I own nothing related to Star Trek and I'm definitely not making any money from this.


Chapter 1

"Ensign O'Donnell, how nice of you to finally join us," Dr. McCoy wryly commented as he nodded at the nurse standing at her shoulder. "Thank you, Nurse Chapel that will be all."

"Of course, doctor," Chapel replied as she turned to leave, patting Ensign O'Donnell on the shoulder and giving her an encouraging smile.

Marissa stepped into the room and let the office door swish shut behind her. She felt like she had just entered the den of a napping bear. Dr. McCoy was reading over some PADDs stacked in front of him, his stylus occasionally making marks or comments, but there was an air of anticipation in the room that was making her uncomfortable.

After a month on the Enterprise everyone was aware of the good doctor's caustic temper. He may treat a person's physical complaints and injuries with the utmost professionalism and competency, but rarely did anyone escape his acerbic tongue. The doctor didn't believe in accidents or bad luck. If you were sick or injured then it was your fault and you were lucky that he was there to patch you back up. Just don't be so stupid next time.

There was no way she was going to break the silence hanging in the room, so Marissa continued to stand at rest, her eyes wondering about the spartan office. He wasn't much for decoration. Dr. Puri, who had held the office of CMO before Dr. McCoy, had been an art collector. The one time she had seen his office, before the Enterprise had shipped out on its first disastrous mission, she had been amazed at the range of artwork the doctor had collected from the worlds he had travelled. A person could spend days looking at the photos, holograms, sculptures, and other artwork on the walls and in display cases throughout the small room. It should have made the room seem cramped and crowded, but Marissa had likened it to Ali Baba's cave – there was so much to see and take in, and it seemed to go on forever.

Aside from a few official documents on the wall, there was only one small picture frame on the corner of Dr. McCoy's desk. All the other shelves and flat spaces were filled with PADDs and, amazingly enough, actual medical books. Those must have been pretty old, seeing as most everyone preferred to keep their professional information and references at their finger tips on a PADD or computer rather than tote around a 10 pound book that carried minimal information in comparison.

Shifting slightly to relieve the strain in her shoulders, the doctor finally glanced up at her.

"Am I keeping you from something, Ensign?" he asked politely, though his eyebrow was raised in a way that let her know that he knew he wasn't and he didn't care if he was.

"No, sir," she shook her head, "but if you are busy I can come back another time," she offered hopefully. She groaned inwardly as soon as the words were out of her mouth. That was the wrong thing to say.

McCoy sat back in his chair and stared at her, his look disbelieving. "Now why would I do that, Ensign? If I let you go now I may never get you back here." He steepled his fingers and looked her over. "I'm not one for asinine rules and regulations. I like things to run smoothly, but I don't get too worked up about the details," he told her conversationally. "But when Starfleet tells me to do something; to have something done on time – I do it. Do you understand, Ensign?"

"Of course, sir," Marissa nodded; her voice a bit hoarse. She could tell by the narrowing of his eyes that he was getting angry.

"That's how it works in Starfleet. The higher ups say jump, and those below say 'how high.' And when I say jump, those below me say 'how high.' That's what keeps things running smoothly on this ship and that's what makes everyone above – and below – happy. So imagine my surprise when I'm preparing to send my first communication to Star Fleet regarding personnel physicals and I can't because they are incomplete!" By now Dr. McCoy was standing behind his desk, his voice rising in volume.

"Incomplete, I say. How can that be?" he asked in mock dismay. "I personally scheduled each and every person on this ship for their physical with me or one of my nurses. 548 crew members, but I scheduled them; sent out messages to the department heads and the crew members themselves. All my nurses had copies of the schedule and so did the captain. As the first official duty that I had to report to Starfleet as the CMO of this ship I wanted to make sure I had this in hand." He now began to circle his desk coming to stand in front of her leaning down to look her in the eyes.

"Everyone on this ship made it to their scheduled physical, and if they couldn't make it they rescheduled. Everyone that is, except for you, Ensign O'Donnell. You rescheduled 6 times and never showed up!!" Marissa took a steadying breath, but forced herself not to step back.

"I'm a busy man, I have a med bay to run, nurses to oversee, surgeries to perform and god knows what else that the captain might get us into. I do not have time to chase down a reluctant ensign who is afraid of a simple physical. I expect that ensign to act like an adult and a member of Starfleet and follow orders!" he practically bellowed in her face.

Marissa's eyes snapped to his in reflex, despite his obvious anger. "I wasn't afraid," she declared. "I'm not. But I was busy and…"

"Pardon me," Dr. McCoy cut in with a smirk, "if I don't think that the library of a starship is so overwhelmed with work only a month out from space dock that they couldn't spare you for the 20 minutes it would take for an exam."

The blood rising to her cheeks heated her face uncomfortably. She knew there was no excuse for her to miss her physical once, let alone six times. There was nothing she could say that he would believe or accept, except maybe the truth, if he wasn't as hard-assed as he appeared to be.

With a deep sigh she met his eyes again, hoping for a bit of compassion. "I know there no excuse for missing my physical, except…." She trailed off, his eyes glaring hard and causing her to look away. "Except I was afraid – not of the physical itself, but of what you would find out." Looking back at the doctor she could feel the tears forming, but did her best to fight them, not wanting to appear weak.

For a moment his glare softened as he gruffly asked, "Are you afraid there's something wrong with you, ensign? Do you think you are sick or have some disease?"

Marissa shook her head. "I'm not sick," she told him. "I'm pregnant."