Though I am currently focusing on the development of my space_wrapped story (posting date will be December 15th!), here is a fun piece that occurred to me in the meantime. I have been sitting on this for about a week and figured you might as well see what I have so far. Not sure about the ending yet, though!
It starts with the sidelong glances and the whispers. Leonard is not used to this reaction to his presence when he enters a room, per se, but he has had his moments of fame (and infamy, as it were) in the past so he is not exactly surprised, only a little confused. Had he done something recently—yelled at yet another diplomat or yelled at Spock (who is like the Enterprise's resident ambassador with all of his Vulcan-this, Vulcan-that arrogance)—to inspire such awareness from the crew? His moments of temper blur together quite often, especially on the "bad days" when nobody listens his sage advice—Spock, again—and invariably someone gets himself in the kind of trouble that results in hours of surgery—the Captain, who is bolder than an armada of Klingons but with less sense (at least in the sense of self-preservation). In conclusion Leonard has had his fill of foolishness from the supposedly smartest, most talented officers in all of Starfleet; thus he yells. A lot. It's good for his peace of mind.
But he cannot recall being in a pique for at least two weeks. So why is he popular today?
He pretends ignorance of his new-found attention and goes about his errand. After all, a ship full of curious beings is inevitably a ship rife with gossip. He lets his nurses keep tabs on the ebb and flow of the rumor mill, and they are wise enough to know when to bring certain subjects to his attention, even if they do it indirectly by discussing the rumors loud enough that he can hear them. He knows when Jim takes to midnight wanderings about the ship, and he keeps apprised of where Scotty has relocated his hooch still, and if someone notices that Spock is snippier than usual, Leonard makes it his business to poke his head into the science lab or on the Bridge and gage the XO's mood for himself.
Since no one in Medical has related a rumor about him, he must assume whatever is driving the stares is fickle in nature and very unimportant. Errand complete, Leonard returns to Sickbay and forgets the strange atmosphere altogether by settling into the familiar routine of his work. That is when, approximately an hour from shift change, the occurrences (which he will later nickname Events No CMO Should Have to Endure) begin.
Two days later
Leonard shushes the man with a quick flap of his hand. "Not now, Jim."
Jim Kirk, also known as the Captain of her Majesty, the Enterprise, slows in his approach and stops just abreast of McCoy. Leonard has almost flattened himself against the corridor wall as he peeks around its corner at someone or something. Jim edges past him and tries to look as well. "What's going on?"
Leonard jabs him in the side with an elbow. "Quiet for god's sake," he whispers, "or he might hear you!"
Jim straightens and stares at the back of the doctor's head. "Why, exactly, are you spying on my First Officer?"
"Not spyin'," the man mutters, never taking his eyes off of Spock standing at some feet away. "Hidin' first, spying second." He mutters for a few seconds under his breath. "...-eared hobgoblin."
Jim pulls a towel from his neck and rolls one shoulder to loosen tensed muscle. If he is disturbed by the odd behavior of the CMO, he gives no sign of it. "We'll talk later, Doctor," he says and strides past McCoy and into the corridor containing the focus of Leonard's attention. "Spock!" the captain calls cheerily.
Leonard withdraws and leans against the wall, rubbing a finger against his bottom lip in thought. "So they're in on it together," he concludes and shakes a finger at a passing ensign in triumph. "I knew it!"
Elsewhere, Jim walks into a turbolift accompanied by Spock. "Bones was watching you."
"Do you think he has figured it out?"
Spock replies, "Not at this time. However, discovery is imminent unless the doctor is suitably distracted."
The glint in Kirk's eyes is, as agreed upon by both his enemies and his friends, foreboding. "Consider him taken care of, Mr. Spock."
Leonard is considering whether or not he wants to call in a member of the Bridge crew and pry for the secret he obviously hitherto has not been allowed to know. There's a plan afoot, maybe a dastardly plan, and Leonard is being kept out of it. As if his days aren't mundane enough with physicals and vaccinations and paperwork. He is purposefully relegated to a state of boredom (and by a friend no less!) when he could be in the middle of something fun. Spock refuses to even comprehend the meaning of fun. So why is Spock a better choice than McCoy?
It is in this state of brooding which an officer encounters Leonard inside a nearly empty medical bay. "Doctor McCoy," the newcomer announces, "I'm here for your lesson."
Leonard ceases in his stabbing motion at a PADD and frowns at the young man. "Lesson?" Then he notices the pale tint of the man's skin and the fixed smile and asks "What's the matter?" while reaching for a medical tricorder with his free hand.
The officer swipes at beads of sweat along his brow and shifts his stance nervously. "I'm fine, sir. A little hot."
"Hm. Your blood pressure is up. Why don't you have a seat?"
But the officer stiffens, saying, "The Captain has ordered flight training for personnel of elevated rank, sir," as though Leonard hadn't spoken. When McCoy looks up from the tricorder in order to focus on him, the young man fumbles. "I mean, uh, not that you don't have the training or that you're bad at, um...sorry, it's a refresher course?" he finishes weakly.
Leonard requires some seconds to absorb this news. His initial desire is to slam the PADD down on the nearest surface—which he might be imagining is Jim's head—but he doesn't do that, however, because he knows how to play it cool when necessary and the medical equipment really isn't at fault. With an exaggerated care, he places the PADD and tricorder aside. The understated reaction has the desired effect: the officer swallows noisily and takes one cautious step backward.
Leonard asks, voice calm, "Does this order apply to all senior officers?"
"To senior officers not on a designated command-track, sir."
He stands up and rocks forward onto the balls of his feet, hands behind his back. "Are you implyin' I'm not in a position of command? That I don't command this department?"
"Because I can give you a clear example, Lieutenant, of the kind of command I am capable of—and you won't like it."
"Sir, no, sir! The Captain said it!"
"That I'm supposed to keep you in Simulation f-for a while! Captain's orders," the officer pleads like this is his last line of defense (and it is). His eyes grow large. "What are you doing with that?"
"Just checkin' the cartridge dose," the doctor says. After a momentary pause, Leonard puts a hypospray next to the PADD. "So. Jim wants me occupied." Wisely the officer offers no opinion on that comment. "Well now, we can't disobey an order, can we? Chapel!"
Christine Chapel enters the open bay area from a side door, her quick entrance leaving little doubt that she heard the entire conversation. "Yes, Doctor?"
"Seems I'm gonna be tied up this afternoon in a flight course." He eyes the pale-faced young man.
She lifts her chin slightly. "What do you need me to do?"
Leonard continues to stare at the officer, eyes intensely blue. He smiles. "Go about business as usual. Send somebody down to the docking bay in a little while. They'll be needed. Let's go," he says as he reaches for the officer's arm. "I want my pick of the shuttles."
"S-Shuttle? But we use the simul—"
"Can't have a proper flight lesson without a proper shuttlecraft!"
Protest goes unheeded. The officer whimpers over his shoulder at Christine as he is tugged out of Sickbay. She ignores him, collects the discarded PADD, hypospray and tricorder and calls the remainder of the medical staff out of hiding.
Twenty minutes and thirty-six seconds have passed since Captain Kirk left the conn in Spock's care in order to "proceed with The Operation." Spock recognizes the use of capital letters well enough through tone of voice but does not comprehend the reasoning behind that usage, particularly when it is not in proper grammatical context. Nevertheless, per Jim, The Operation is considered underway. Were Spock to question the particulars of it, he would be bound by logic to point out its inherent flaws. So he does not inquire why the Captain believes now is the appropriate time to move forward with the plans decided upon some weeks previous.
He realizes belatedly keeping apprised of all those 'particulars' may have been the wiser course of action. Ignorance lends no boon when dealing with humans.
"Sir," Uhura says while she adjusts the frequency of her earpiece, "shall I open a channel to the shuttle?"
Spock stands in front of the captain's chair, watching the vessel bob steadily in space before the Enterprise. Tiny as it is in comparison to the starship, the craft seems to hover with a menacing air.
"Please, Lieutenant." When the communications officer signals that the channel is active, he says steadily, "This is Commander Spock. Pilot, identify yourself."
Static crackles over through the speaker for a brief number of seconds, until it shapes into a voice the Vulcan has the misfortune to be well-acquainted with: "Well good day to you too, Mr. Spock."
Spock need not look around to feel the immediate alertness of the remaining Bridge crew. Though generally considering himself to be hale in both mind and body, Spock suspects if he was human he would be experiencing the sudden onset of a headache.
"Uhura," he says quietly over his shoulder, "the Captain should be in Rec Room II. Alert him of the situation."
"Already done, sir."
Spock focuses on the viewscreen and the open channel of communication. "Dr. McCoy..." He pauses momentarily to consider the many things he could say, and of those things which would actually have an effect on the human in question. "Your vessel has taken unauthorized leave of the Enterprise."
"Vhat he is doing out there?" Mr. Chekov asks in an undertone, brows drawn and side-glancing at Mr. Sulu. Sulu lifts his shoulders in a shrug.
Spock increases his pitch just enough to carry strongly through the channel. "You will return to the docking bay immediately. Tell the pilot—"
A low, dark chuckle breaches the space between them. "You're talkin' to the pilot. Ain't nobody out here but me, myself, 'n I."
Spock requires six point two seconds to formulate a response. During that time Chekov confirms quietly that sensors read only one life-sign aboard the shuttlecraft. He sounds awed.
Spock finds himself asking, or rather ordering, "Explain, Doctor."
"You ought to be askin' Jim to do that, Mr. Spock. Where's he anyhow?"
He cannot answer that question, unfortunately, and would not be surprised if the doctor knows this.
As though McCoy can hear his private conjecture, the doctor demands, "Well you'd better get him up here, pronto!" The shuttle suddenly seems to wobble, and the CMO's preferred choice of profanities fills the static. "...What—damn it, where's that confounded—? Hey, Spock..."
He turns to look at Uhura, who understands the unspoken command to place a rescue assembly on standby. "Doctor?"
"I bet you've got every bell and whistle on this contraption memorized."
"Then what's this button do?"
"Unless you engage the video relay, Dr. McCoy, I cannot know which button you are referring to."
"Hmph. No need to be smart about it!" More muttering comes across the channel. "...thought this was the—dadgummit!"
"Dr. McCoy," and no, it is not alarm which Spock is currently experiencing, only a slight trepidation for a possible unfortunate outcome, "it would be best if you do not—"
"I know how to fly a shuttle, Spock!" McCoy snaps. "I got out here, didn't I! Now, maybe Scotty did some re-engineering on this thing since I was last in it—"
That is high unlikely, but Spock knows there is no point in telling this to the riled human. Abruptly, as they are watching on the viewscreen, the shuttle shudders with violence, then stills. Spock hears a soft, familiar beep from Chekov's computer terminal. Relief is not unknown to Vulcans; Spock tucks his aside.
"What did I just do?"
"It appears you have engaged the forward deflectors."
"...Oh. Good. That's a good thing."
"The shield is best utilized when you are under attack."
"Then I'll kindly ask you not to shoot at me. Hrm, so what's this red thingamajig to the left of the deflector switch?"
Spock says hastily, "The button will fire the vessel's main phaser bank, Dr. McCoy. Please do not press that button." He is not certain he likes the implications of McCoy's laughter.
"Worried, Spock?" comes the merry drawl.
"At this time, my only concern is that you are not aboard the Enterprise."
"I'm flight trainin'."
Spock lifts an eyebrow. "Without the aid of an instructor?"
"Funny thing, the poor man started havin' heart palpitations. I couldn't clear him for take-off, now could I?"
Mr. Sulu hunches over his console, suddenly fascinated by some output or another. Spock pretends not to notice the way his shoulders are shaking—or Chekov's subsequent grin.
"Doctor McCoy," Spock begins in a steely tone. It is far past time to conclude this nonsense.
The lift doors open, admitting one harried and displeased-looking Jim Kirk. Kirk's eyes immediately narrow at the Bridge screen and the wavering pinpoint that is one of the Enterprise's shuttles. "Report, Mr. Spock."
"Jim!" McCoy crows with unnecessary volume over the loudspeaker. Spock forgoes speech and steps down from the chair's platform, placing his hands behind his back.
"Well now, don't sound so shocked, Captain."
Jim's tone indicates he is not only shocked but close to furious. "McCoy! What are you doing—"
"I'm in a bit of a pickle, you see. Somebody put me on the training roster for a flight lesson—"
Jim flushes, and Spock has to put his back to the sight. If ever there were a guiltier face... He takes a seat at the science station.
"—and seeing as how I don't really have the time or inclination to be playing around in space when I could be fixing people, I decided to get this over with. Now. Coach me back."
Jim's mouth works on a silent What?
"Jim," McCoy coaxes, "you wanted me out here so it's only fair you take some responsibility for bringing me home." There is a significant pause before the doctor adds, "...Unless you have plans to be elsewhere. You could always tell me about those instead and see if I let you beg off."
Kirk lowers himself into his chair, expression sour. Clearly he knows when he has been outmaneuvered by a crafty CMO.
It takes some time of step-by-step instructions and abundant patience to guide McCoy through the re-docking process. During that time, Spock comes to the conclusion Leonard's poor skill at piloting, given that he had smoothly and almost without detection maneuvered the vessel alongside the Enterprise before the ship's scanners sensed him, is in direct proportion to Jim's ire. He says nothing of this conclusion, however, and, glancing around, recognizes that no one else shall either. Had he had advance warning, he would have gladly explained to Jim in extensive detail why a flight lesson for McCoy is a terrible idea. But some individuals can only learn through the consequences of making a mistake. Jim, today and in this circumstance, is such an individual.
As for Leonard McCoy, the Vulcan muses, that is another problem entirely. He is proving to be powerful opposition to The Operation—and that must be dealt with, Spock determines, logically.