Disclaimer: Paramount owns all. I only play in their neighborhood. Paramount, won’t you let me be your neighbor?
Dedicated to DeForest Kelley. . .thank you for giving us such a remarkable, durable and forever lasting character. "He’s not dead, as long as we remember him." De, may there be a star to guide you.
"Too many crew members have been complaining about your bedside manner, doctor," Kathryn Janeway said. One hand on her hip, the other directing traffic in her enigmatic way of communicating.
"Captain, I assure you, I do my best. But it doesn’t help when I have Ensign Paris throwing bad jokes around." Doc pursed his lips together in a straight line, his eyes rolling in exaggerated movements. "I have, since my activation, tried to improve my bedside manner."
"It’s not enough, doctor."
"Captain, you yourself are a prime example of what I deal with. Half the crew, I have to practically drag into sickbay when they need their physicals. My recommendations fall on dead ears. All in all, I have a motley crew that refuse to cooperate."
Janeway paced, her head down in thought. "Then I give a suggestion, and I recommend that you think deeply about it." She waited until she knew she had his complete attention. "I want you to dig into your medical database. Find a Starfleet doctor who you find admirable. Bring them to life on the holodeck and submit to me tomorrow, a report on deportment in the sickbay and for that matter, what you learned."
"Captain, please—I’m a doctor, not a student."
"That’s an order. Then I will make my final recommendation as to what to do."
Doc rolled his eyes and then nodded in agreement. He went into his office and began looking into his database.
"Computer, activate EMH-Beta-four. Doctor Leonard H. McCoy."
Moments later, a slender man of normal height stood before the EMH. His clothing fit a bygone era of Starfleet. A maroon woolen jacket with a green turtleneck. Dark pants that flared at mid-calf with boots shined to perfection.
"Where in blue blazes am I?"
Doc looked at him, walked up and gave what he considered to be his most pleasing smile. "Ah, Dr. McCoy. You are on the Federation Starship Voyager."
"Who the hell are you?" McCoy said. He looked around the grid of the room.
"I am the Chief Medical Officer."
"Oh, really." McCoy leaned closer, his arms crossed over his chest. "And do you have a name, Doctor?"
The EMH’s face fell slightly. "Well, not really. I am a emergency medical supplement."
"I am a hologram. I am programmed with the medical references of over 40 Starfleet medical doctors."
"Dandy," McCoy said, walking around, not really looking, but studying the man before him. "What will they come up with next. Let’s see, Spock was bad. Then I met a few androids and let me tell you, they were synthetic. Now…holographic doctors."
"Our medical staff died when we were brought here."
"Here? And where, prey tell, is here?"
The EMH looked at the man, thinking if the captain could see this man, she’d stop threatening to change his bedside manner.
"The Delta Quadrant. We were brought here by a sporocystian life form called the Caretaker."
"Sporo what? What the hell is that?"
The EMH seemed to relax a little. "It’s classified as a non-corporeal life-form native to another galaxy. We believe them to exist at least partially in a subspace domain."
McCoy looked at the balding EMH. "You’re telling me son, that you classified this life-form? We ran into non-corporeal life-forms all the time in my day. Hell, the month wouldn’t be complete without at least one encounter."
The EMH brightened. He found himself liking this man. "Would you be interested in seeing sickbay. I can show you the remains of the one that brought us here."
McCoy raised an eyebrow and looked at the EMH. "Well, I suppose I may as well. Seems there is nothing pressing here."
Within moments, the two were in the sickbay. McCoy looked around in awe at the room, going from thing to thing. "Well I’ll be damned. They still use some of this stuff. I guess it really doesn’t go out of date."
The EMH handed McCoy a padd. "I used one of your procedures on a patient. It saved her life."
McCoy looked through the contents. He let out a laugh as his blue eyes danced with merriment. "I used that technique on that green blooded Vulcan. Telling me how to operate. . .I still don’t think I should have reconnected his mouth." He looked at Doc. "Tell me son, you got any Vulcan’s aboard?"
Doc sighed. "Two. Stubborn, pigheaded—"
"Pointed eared hobgoblins!" McCoy said. "The most opinionated, logical, unemotional—"
"—beings we have the pleasure of knowing. One is our Chief of Security."
"Now if that ain’t the most illogical thing. A peace loving Vulcan, in charge of security." McCoy shook his head. "Now, what about this non-corporeal being you wanted to show me?"
The two moved to the back lab where the remains of the caretaker were kept in a cabinet. The EMH went into a lengthy discussion about what it was, what had happened when the remains came close to Susperia. McCoy listened with interest.
"It seems, that you are much like I was. It seemed that every week, we encountered some new disease, a new plague. Mind you, these were the early days of exploration. I was on one of twelve ships assigned to chart the Alpha Quadrant. We were the only one to come back. I saw many things—things that intrigued, challenged me as an explorer, an officer and as a doctor."
"Would you tell me about some of your adventures?" Doc asked.
"Where to start. Well, I guess you’d have to say, that with Jim Kirk at the center seat, there was adventure around every corner. I always thought that he deserved a social disease for all the women he seemed to attract and know, but that’s another story. We had our share of non-corporeal beings. Did you know that Jack the Ripper was such an entity."
"A fascinating case," Doc commented.
"You sure you’re not a Vulcan?" McCoy looked around the sickbay, speaking as he went. "Anyway, I saw things that even now I don’t think I could explain. A robot bringing back Montgomery Scott from death. Or there was the time Dr. Lester and Jim exchanged souls. I cured a Horta with the compounds we used at the time to make emergency shelters. Fountains of youth, surgically altering crew members, time travel. I remember adventures—the friends. We weren’t just co-workers. We were a family. Even that pointed eared Vulcan."
Doc looked at the man. "Did you ever find yourself hardened by it all?"
McCoy stood in thought for a moment. "There was the instance of Scott’s nephew. He was an engineering cadet and when they got him to sickbay—there was just nothing that could be done. I saw how it teared at Scott. I saw the pain that crew would endure for one another. But being hardened, no."
Doc pondered the statement. "Do you have any advice on how to be more personable to patients. My bedside manner, according to the captain needs improving."
McCoy laughed. "First, never let your patients have the last word. You, no matter what, can supersede the captain in medical matters. You find something that needs to be done—do it. Never stop at one answer---make sure your theories are sound. Make sure you keep plenty of bourbon or whiskey, hell whatever your captains poison is, nearby. You never know when you’ll become a counselor. Don’t take any logic from a Vulcan. They are fallible, but in the long run, they can be your staunchest supporter—even your best friend. Flirt with the ladies. Make sure your assistants are good enough to help you, but not such ‘yes people’ that they won’t question your orders once in a while. I’m assuming you understand the Hippocratic Oath?"
Doc nodded his head.
McCoy continued. "That’s your outline. You do whatever you can to keep your patient alive. Even if it means kicking your captains rear end to get him—"
"Her, in here to for her physical. You hold life near and dear to you. And my best piece of advice. . ."
"Never be afraid to be an explorer. There thousands of things you’ll never understand—remedy. But as long as you can, keep reaching."
Doc held out his hand shook the hand of McCoy. He smiled, then addressed the ceiling. "Computer, end McCoy subroutine."
"What did you learn?"
Doc stood in front of Janeway’s desk, hands behind his back. He teetered on his heels, smug in his answer. "I learned that it’s not enough to be just the doctor on board this ship, captain. We are explorers, like our comrades of a hundred years ago. We have a duty—not only to ourselves, but to our historical figures, but to our future as well. We have a duty—to boldly go. And we have. We’ve gone boldly, with our share of mishaps, but nonetheless, we’ve learned from the those mistakes."
He stepped over to the replicator and ordered a coffee—hot and black. "My first lesson, is to have the poison of choice available to my commanding officer as a form of peace offering, or in some cases, to have a shoulder to lean on and a face to talk to." Janeway raised an eyebrow. "I learned that I do have power, even if I am not a ‘flesh and blood’ member of this crew."
Janeway looked at him, then down to the padd she held. "Doctor, I see you’ve done your homework. I am impressed."
"Captain, there are a few things I would like—that I believe may make my job easier."
"First, I’d like a rank. Even the counselor on the Enterprise under Picard has rank. I believe that would help with my respect for ‘fellow officers’."
Doc continued. "Also, I want you in for your physical. You are overdue and frankly, I do outrank you in medical matters."
"And from now on, I will have the last word."
The Admiral smiled as he looked out the window. At 140+ years, time had finally crept up on him. The sun was bright, the air fragrant with the smell of magnolia’s and roses. It smelled of warmth. He looked at the young child beside him.
"Grandpa, please finish the story."
"Well now son, as I was saying, we were in a race against time. This torpedo was encoded for four minutes. Enterprise was crawling at a snail pace—and here comes that pointed eared Vulcan. Calm and cool as day, he tapped in the controls. To this day I don’t think he thought anyone was watching. It was hectic down there."
"One in the same. He turned and I was there. "Are you out of your Vulcan mind? No human can tolerate the radiation that’s in there." He looked miles away, distant as I said that. "As you are so fond of observing doctor, I’m not human." I stood there, knowing that this was one battle I might not win. "You’re not going in there." I insisted, but low and behold, I fell for the next action, hook, line and sinker. "Perhaps you’re right," he said, "what is Mr. Scott’s condition?" I turned, fool that I was. Son, sound advice, never turn your back on a Vulcan. Well anyway, I did. "Well, I don’t think that he—" That’s as far as I got. I felt those vise grip fingers on my neck and I heard his voice. "I’m sorry doctor, but I have no time to discuss this logically." Then—then…"
The boy looked at the old man, his white hair in twisted and fluffed out disarray. "What happened next, grandpa?"
The old man looked out the window into the day. He saw a life time of precious memories pass before the window. Then, he saw faces of those who had passed into another life there. The smiling face of a young head strong captain, a young woman who’d followed in her fathers footsteps, many faces. They all smiled at him, beckoning to him. He turned his eyes from that window and looked back at the young boy. Fourth generation…
"What happened next?" the boy prodded.
Admiral McCoy looked at the boy and smiled. "Then he said the one word that says everything."
"What was that?"
McCoy took a deep breath—the faces becoming clearer outside the window.
"Remember. . ."