Admiral Leonard McCoy was a very old man now and he knew this. As he sat down on a bench in the Indiana sunlight and took a deep breath of the farm air that surrounded him, he did so with the knowledge that he was in the last year of his life. Then shaking his head with a grin, he corrected himself. He'd have to last to see the next Enterprise, so he had another twenty or thirty years yet.
The bench upon which he sat was in one of those small communities on Earth bent on living off the land like their ancestors. Some people here took this much more seriously than others, and technology itself was to be found all around him. But it was close to perfect from his point of view and he had managed to make it out here unaided and was relishing his moment in solitude.
That was until he noticed a young girl on a collision course for the tree right in front of him, and he had to intervene. "Careful there darlin'!" He called out to get her attention. He had to wonder what was on her PADD that had taken over her attention so completely.
She looked up at him with a start and paused, looking around herself to get her bearings. She frowned at the tree for daring to interrupt her reading, before putting a smile on her face, to hide both her embarrassment and her impatience to get back to her reading, and turning to him. 'Oh, she is a captain in the making,' Leonard thought with a smile.
"Thank you," she said and bowed her head regally in his direction.
"You're welcome. Why don't you come sit?" He gestured to the spot next to him on the bench.
She seemed to try to think of away to get out of this diplomatically and authoritatively, but in the end relented and came to sit next to him. "Thank you," she said again, and went back to her PADD.
Leonard raised an eyebrow. "What are you reading there that is so engrossing," he couldn't help but question. Then he wondered if 'engrossing' was to big a word for the little girl's vocabulary.
Apparently it wasn't. "The newest reports from a deep space Vulcan research vessel," she said without looking up. As though she was just any six-year-old, reading Alice in Wonderland. Now both of Leonard's eyebrows were up, and on the rise.
"Really now," he couldn't really think of anything else to say.
"I want to be a science officer," she stated as she finally looked up at him. "I will join Star Fleet someday, like my father."
Leonard smiled at her again as his eyebrows went back to more normal levels. He nodded and said, "There is nothing like serving on a starship. The good and the bad, nothing compares. 'Course I served on the best ship that ever-blessed space, the Enterprise."
He saw he had gotten his young companion's attention. "You were on the Enterprise?" she asked, wide-eyed and awe creeping into her voice.
He chuckled. "I was indeed, young lady. I served under James T. Kirk himself! I saw things that you would never believe! Light beings that took over a crew member, god-like computers, strange viruses, you name it! The best years of my life were that first five-year mission." He sighed and internally continued his reminiscing. He could have sat there for hours, but his young friend would not have it.
She seemed to have decided to ask him a question that had been worrying her for some time. She tugged gently at Leonard's tunic's sleeve, keeping her eyes on the bench. "Do you think I can make it in Starfleet?" She hadn't even asked her parents this.
Leonard gently took her chin and raised it so they were looking eye to eye. His face was very serious as he looked deep into the stormy blue eyes of the young girl. Then he let a kind smile grow over his face and said honestly, "I think you could be a captain to rival Kirk if you set you mind to it."
And that is just what Kathryn Janeway did.