Chapter 14

Not long after this, Kirk called me to his quarters, and I found that Spock and McCoy were in attendance as well.

"You do realize that this problem with Cartwright is going to create a whole hell of a mess, right?" Kirk asked, hands rubbing at his temples, as if trying to fight off a headache.

I shrugged. "Of course, Captain, but it is what it is."

I straightened with slight surprise as Kirk slammed his fist onto the table that he was sitting at.

"Not unless we can change it. As long as he keeps his focus on you, the crew might be kept from harm."

I frowned. "Are you kicking me off the Enterprise?"

Kirk shook his head. "Of course not. I just want you to keep a low profile."

I raised my eyebrows. "That's part of my job, you know: to keep a low profile." Kirk glowered at me. "Oh really? I've had to risk this ship more than once to rescue you, so I'm starting to have a little bit of doubt as far as you are concerned."

I leaned on the table, anger rising. "I didn't call for your help, Captain. I would have gladly died before risking this crew, and you damn well know that!"

Spock interceded before things could get out of hand. "What I believe the Captain is trying to say, Mr. Kempton, is that you have to become less confrontational."

I nodded. "Of course, Spock. I will do what is in the best interest of the crew as a whole, as I have always tried to do."

Kirk nodded. "Okay, Kempton. Keep to the shadows."

I smiled. "Yes, sir."

I turned to leave, but Kirk called me back. "What stopped you from torturing him? You were tempted, I know that?"

I looked back at Kirk. "Yes, very much so."

I looked at Spock. "It was Uhura that reminded me that I was human. Thank her for me."

Spock looked slightly smug for a quick second, then the emotion left his face. "I had no hand in the matter."

McCoy gave a snort. "My ass, you didn't!"

Spock raised his eyebrows. "Why are you so fixated on the posterior of the human anatomy?"

McCoy frowned, suddenly at a loss for words for the first time since I met him.

I burst out laughing as Spock left the room, who was smirking ever so slightly.

"That was brilliant! Pure magic!" I said, pounding the table as I roared with laughter.

Bones interrupted me by grabbing me into a head-lock, and turned for the door. "Permission to take the patient to the medical bay for post-battle checkup?"

Kirk nodded, smirking slightly. "Permission granted, Doctor."

I was barely able to give Kirk a salute before Bones pulled me with him. "Easy on the goods, Pops. There's only one of me."

McCoy snorted. "Don't be such an infant. I have to check you for anything ranging from space flu to Klingonese bacteria. Those big apes hardly ever bathe. While I'm at it, you're overdue on your monthly shots, so you were coming with me regardless of any fight that you charged into."

I sighed. "No rest for the weary."

McCoy shook his head. "Not a whole hell of a lot!"

I frowned. "Hang on. Did you say monthly shots? I thought crew members got annual shots."

Bones shrugged. "Well, due to the fact that you are the age of what my great great Grandfather would be, certain precautions have to be taken. Good God, man! You're probably the first person of your kind, traveling hundreds of years into the future. In other words, you aren't talking yourself out of this one."

We entered the medical bay as he finished, and he sat me down at my usual table. "While you are here, I've got to make you blend in with the crew."

He pointed to the beard that I had grown over the years. "In other words, this stuff is coming off."

I opened my mouth to argue, but he cut me off with a no-nonsense glare. "Look, Kid, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. The easy way is taking it like the man which I assume you are, and let me do my damn job in peace. The hard way is sedating your ass until I'm done. Now, how do you want to do this, champ?"

I raised my eyebrows. "Less focus around my ass would, first of all - The easy way!"

I yelped, as an impatient McCoy reached for his favorite dispenser. "That's better, wiseguy! Was that so hard?"

I shook my head. "I guess not. It's one of the few things remaining from my old life."

McCoy paused, then laid a hand on my shoulder. "I know, James. Life is about taking painful things, and moving on from them." I nodded, and realized he was referring to his ex-wife. On top of that, he had called me by my first name.

I reached out with some awkwardness, and hugged him. "Thanks, Dad." He patted me on the back. "Anytime, Son."

After he was done, he took great care to scoop the hair into a glass tube. "Let me guess: more tests?" I asked, and he gave me a grin. "Can you blame me?"


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