All I Gotta Say

Sometimes, when his work shift is over, Leonard McCoy settles into the chair in his quarters, sips a glass of something fermented, and thinks. Mostly he thinks, wryly, about how he came to be on this ship: a course of events twisted enough to be true.

To leave Earth and join Starfleet after a divorce was hardly uncommon; just as with many of Earth's Navies of older days, most put on the uniform to escape something in their past. It was also entirely expected that he be bumped from ship to ship for a while, as Starfleet wasn't exactly strapped for doctors and he wasn't the easiest person to work with. Here, his reminiscences would draw a snort. Might as well be honest: he had a history of insubordination and a reputation of being at best a smart-ass and at worst caustically abrasive in his language.

Yet one chance meeting with a young command track ensign back before he shipped out had afforded him another chance when that ensign got a captaincy and a ship to go with it. When he'd fixed Jim Kirk's nose after a nasty bar brawl and they'd then proceeded to get hammered on cheap sake, he'd apparently made enough of an impression on Kirk to be remembered 10 years later when Kirk was looking for someone to replace Doctor Piper.

Despite the fact that he's not part of the direct chain of command, he often finds himself the third point on a decision-making triangle with Captain Kirk and Commander Spock. He thinks he's the odd one out because sometimes it's hard to see where a grumpy old sap like him fits between the bold-as-brass and cool-headed variations on heroes.

Sometimes, after another close call, Doctor McCoy collapses in his office, barely taking time to tug off soiled gloves and tunic. Professional detachment, my ass.

He's never had this problem before. Medical school taught him to operate on human strangers, and some Starfleet courses prepared him to do the same for certain alien species. The sight of blood, guts, vomit, and all the horrible ways things can break in the humanoid body haven't turned his stomach since he was a kid, and hardly ever then. And the most damning thing of all is that he can operate steady-handed and cold as a Vulcan even when it's his best friend lying on the table.

Invariably it's because Jim did something foolishly heroic and it's up to McCoy to put the pieces back together, while Scott takes command and Spock stands outside the operating theatre, stiff-backed and blank-faced. McCoy wonders how Spock pulls this off every day without feeling like he's going to break in half.

He knows that when Jim wakes up, they'll both have to play the charade that everything is alright. He worries that someday he'll just snap and Jim will be on the receiving end of something violent and embarrassing, though he's not sure what, for scaring him so darn many times. He worries more that someday he won't be able to fix Jim and then there won't be time to say anything.

Flip the situation, when it's Spock on the bed and Jim pacing the hall outside, and he's surprised to realize he feels mostly the same way. Despite all the invective he piles regularly on his verbal sparring partner's head, despite the fact that Spock is the most irritating person he knows, he has to admit he'd miss the guy.

He reflects, as he sits in his office pulling himself together, that humans are pretty illogical after all.

Sometimes, at the end of the day, Bones joins Jim and Spock in the Officer's Mess for dinner. He berates Jim to eat healthier and Jim points out that Bones is eating something delicious and artery clogging as well and Spock raises his eyebrow over his salad. They talk about their last adventure, Bones and Spock disagree over some point or other and argue, heatedly, until Jim steals something off one or the other of their plates.

And as Bones follows his two best friends to the Rec Room to heckle the first five or ten minutes of their chess game, he thinks that this is right where he belongs.