STAR TREK: COURSE CORRECTIONS, PART 10
Jim Kirk pulled on a fresh duty uniform top and took a quick drink of his coffee. It had grown cold since he finished breakfast but that didn't matter. It was a good morning. There was nothing like getting a good night's sleep and waking up to good news. M'Benga had reported that Perez was doing well. Starfleet sent a message that the Vendresi had already contacted them opening up diplomatic relations, thanks to the Enterprise helping defend them from the Klingons. The Organians, per their imposed treaty, were even leveling sanctions against the Klingons. That was a surprise. Since their initial contact with the Organians, they had been oddly quiet and Kirk worried that perhaps they had grown disinterested in keeping the Federation/Klingon conflict at bay.
The door chimed and Kirk allowed admittance. McCoy entered. Although he had changed uniforms, he clearly still had not slept.
"Good morning, Bones."
"Morning, Jim, I see a good night's sleep has done you some good."
Kirk shrugged. It takes more than a good night's sleep to get over losing an officer, but he had to keep moving forward, he'd be crippled with hesitation and doubt if he kept looking back.
"You look like you could use one," Kirk replied.
McCoy waived him off and tried to make a joke of it.
"Well, Jim, if you had my superior constitution, you could probably function as well as I do on no sleep."
"Short changed by genetics, was I, Bones?" Kirk replied with a smile.
McCoy smiled back but it quickly faded.
"Jim, ah, I'd like to talk to you about the future."
Kirk could see his friend was serious.
"What's up, Bones?" Kirk asked as he sat on the corner of his desk.
"I hear Nogura is the new fleet commander, and I hear he is offering promotions to commanders of deep space missions and I wanted to warn you not to consider one of those offers when you're in one of the moods you were in last night," McCoy said has he paced in a circle as large as the small quarters would allow.
"You're right, Bones, on both counts," Kirk said, "Nogura had already contacted me long before it became official yesterday. When we get home he wants me to take over as Head of Starfleet Operations."
"You told him to shove it, right?" McCoy asked hopefully. "I mean you are going to push for another deep space mission, right?"
"Bones," Kirk began, "I'm tired. I'm tired of being responsible for four hundred and thirty souls. I'm tired of making decisions that alternate between the mundane and life-and-death with no in between. I'm tired of constantly moving on and never putting down roots."
"Oh, give me a break, Jim," McCoy countered. "If you think you're tired of being responsible for four hundred and thirty souls, wait until it's twelve times that. Every time something happens to a ship, you'll blame yourself for sending them there."
"That's," Kirk paused before continuing, "actually quite fair. I will do that."
McCoy blinked. Clearly he didn't expect Kirk to give in so quickly.
"But it's a change and I need that right now. I need..." Kirk trailed off. trying to find the right words.
"A course correction?" McCoy asked.
"Yea, Bones" said Kirk, his face brightening, "That's a great way to put it."
"How committed to this 'course correction' are you?"
"I have already recommended a commander for the Enterprise."
"Yea, about that, Jim. Spock isn't interested. He's wanting a 'course correction' as well. He's going home to Vulcan."
"I know, and because of that I recommended Captain Willard Decker to take command and oversee the refit under Scotty."
Kirk could see McCoy working to recall the name. He knew when he got it because his eyes widened.
"Matthew Decker's kid. Jim are you crazy? Decker lost his mind out there," McCoy said.
To be fair, Kirk knew he hadn't seen Matt at his worst when he was aboard the Enterprise, but the events where quite out of the ordinary. Matt was a good man.
"Will is not his father. He's fast track brilliant, and already captain of a small ship in the Delta system. I have already requested that you, Scotty, Sulu, and Uhura be assigned to the refit team. And Chekov will be his Chief of Security when he gets certified and hopefully Chapel will have finished Medical School by then."
"Jim, the Delta system is like playing in the back yard. It's not a real test for a captain," McCoy said, "The worst thing that could happen in that solar system is that a crewman might pick up an STD on Delta IV."
"That's why I want a core of solid, experienced officers I know and trust with him out there."
McCoy took a seat and let it all sink in.
"You knew about Spock, Chapel and Chekov?"
"Bones, I'm the captain, when I don't know something about my ship and crew, then you should worry," Kirk said with a smile trying to lighten his friend's mood.
"Jim, I've been thinking about this all night," McCoy said, "and for a long time I thought it was about you. Don't get me wrong. You're making a mistake and you'll regret it. Maybe before you get that nice big office in San Francisco or maybe a year or two after you get there, but you'll eventually realize it's a mistake. But somewhere along the way, last night I realized the reason I was so fired up was that it really is about me. This ship has become home to me and I don't want to lose it. All I have back on Earth is my father's house, but it's not home. It hasn't been for years."
"Bones, I'll be honest. Men like us don't have families, we have this," Kirk said pointing casually and randomly above his head indicating the Enterprise. "However, don't think you're losing your home because you're not. I'm asking you to stay," Kirk said.
"I can't, Jim. Because, while this is home, You're the one I trust to bring us back safely. It's what you do. Without you in the center seat, this ship it's just like dad's house, just a place and not a home," McCoy said.
"Bones, when I tried to talk Spock into taking command, he pointed out that life is change," Kirk confessed. "If we stayed, things would be stagnate. With Will in command, the change would be good for you and the others. The dynamic would be different. Not better or worse. Just different."
"In a fit of anger last night, I told Scotty I would leave the fleet if you took that promotion. I was only half serious, because I never thought it would happen. You were meant to be out there," McCoy said.
"Don't feel trapped into making a decision due to an idle threat, Bones," Kirk said.
"I'm not. I think I just realized, that I need to build my own home. You see I was basing it on our relationships and this vessel. But now I realize that you can't do that in this line of work. I need to put down some of those roots you mentioned earlier. So I'm going to go to dad's house, hang out my shingle and build relationships in a community that doesn't travel at warp speed. I'm going to deliver babies instead of stitching up men hacked up by Klingon swords. I'm going to look at swollen tonsils instead of phaser burns. I'm going to get to know farmers, and storekeepers and their families instead of engineers and scientists. I'm going turn that house into a home and my roots will grow deep."
A long silence seemed to hang heavily in the room, until Kirk finally and sincerely spoke.
"It's something I really should have done a long time ago, Jim," McCoy said, "I've been running when I should have been building."
After another silence, McCoy mercifully tried to break the tension by clapping his friend on the shoulder and lightening his tone.
"Well, Jim, we're acting like we're saying good bye now. We still have several months before we get home and, after that, Georgia is just a few seconds away from California by transporter. You can stop by any time."
"You're not going to come to San Francisco?"
"Hell no, Jim. Once this mission is over, I'm never stepping foot in one of those blasted atom scramblers ever again."
Kirk laughed and so did McCoy.
No one knew what the future held, Jim Kirk just hoped that all of his crew, especially Bones and Spock, would be happy in the next phase of their lives, with their...
How did Bones put it?