Well that was real mature...

Well that was real mature...

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Star Trek: Course Corrections, Part 10 (Finale)

Continuing my unpublished Star Trek prose short story. If you are new follow the links to and  each part:  Part 1  Parts 2 & 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6 Parts 7 & 8 and Part 9


            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.
            "I hope your new home is a happy one, Bones."
            "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?
"Course corrections."

Friday, April 29, 2016

Star Trek: Course Corrections, Part 9 (of 10)

Continuing my unpublished Star Trek prose short story. If you are new follow the links to and  each part:  Part 1  Parts 2 & 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6 and Parts 7 & 8

            McCoy lapped the saucer section several times before his ire cooled. Leave it to that green blooded son of bitch to screw everything up, he thought. You're not being fair, Leonard, came a voice in the back of his head. Spock has spent years of service in deep space. He deserves a chance to go home as much as anyone. McCoy paused. Just because he didn't have a real home, didn't mean that others weren't anxious to spend some time at theirs. That's what it came back to. He lost his first home when his dad died. Oh, the house was still there, but the memories made it difficult to call home. He made another home with his wife and their daughter, Joanna, and losing that one is what drove him out into deep space to start with. Now, it appeared he was losing this home as well.
            McCoy looked up and realized that, in his wandering of the halls, the morning shift had started to stir. The darkened halls were noticeably brighter and they were starting to get more busy. He made his way to sickbay. He entered to find the outer section empty. Nurse Christine Chapel rounded the corner. He expected to see her looking tired and ready to retire to her quarters after pulling an all-nighter with M'Benga, but she looked fresh. Happy even.
            "Good morning, Doctor McCoy. Did you sleep well?"
            "No, Christine, I haven't. Too much on my mind," McCoy said, "But you look as fresh as a daisy after such a long night."
            "Nothing peps you up like a little good news."
            "I'm intrigued. I could use a little good news."
            Chapel went over to the desk monitor and spun it around as she dropped a data disk into a slot. McCoy leaned in and blinked a few times to get the text to come into focus. I hope it's just tired eyes and not something that needs to be fixed with a Retinax prescription, he thought. The words clicked into focus and McCoy felt himself smile.
            "Christine, I had no idea. Congratulations! Why didn't you tell me?" McCoy asked.
            "I didn't want you to pull any strings at Starfleet Medical."
            "Chris, I'm just an old country doctor, I don't have any strings to pull," he said with a smile as he gave her a hug.
            "When did you decide to do this?" McCoy asked.
            "A few months ago. I knew we would be home soon and I felt my career needed a little, oh, I don't know..."
            "A course correction."
            Christine laughed at the description and nodded.
            "That sounds like an apt description, Doctor."
            "This is just great!" McCoy said.
            "So you've heard."
            McCoy turned his head to see Doctor M'Benga standing in the archway.
            "You knew that Christine was accepted into Starfleet Medical School?"
            "Not since she told me this morning. I just assumed you were discussing Perez."
            McCoy crossed the room and walked past M'Benga into the other section of sickbay. He was relieved to see the ensign awake and clearly doing well. As he walked toward his patient, he could hear M'Benga and Chapel still discussing her future.
            "With earned credits for your work out here, I estimate you should have your degree by the time Mister Scott finishes the refit," M'Benga said.
            "Oh, I'm sure Doctor McCoy would prefer to have a top nurse and not another doctor who will argue every little diagnosis with him," Chapel said.
            McCoy could hear M'Benga's soft chuckle as they left him to his work. It was an odd sound. M'Benga was almost as stoic as Spock. It must have been something he developed while doing his internship on Vulcan.  Dear God, it might be contagious. Maybe I'm better off not shipping out with Spock again, he thought. Besides I'd kill him before we got out of the solar system. He turned his attention back to Perez and could not help but smile. He tried, and failed, to put on his "stern" face.
            "How are we feeling Mister Perez?"
            "I'm a little sore doctor."
            "As well you should be. Didn't your parents ever tell you not to play with sharp objects, Ensign?"
            "I wasn't left much of a choice."
            "I've heard. You saved the life of another crewman," McCoy said, patting the young officer on the shoulder.
            "However, don't expect extra rack time just because you're a hero. We need to get you healed up and out of here so the beds are ready for regular folks when they need 'em. No special treatment  for heroes," McCoy said.
            "Aye, aye sir. Thanks, Doctor McCoy."
            "No son, thank you."
            McCoy started to turn but then stopped and asked, "Why do you do it, son? Why this job in the fleet"
            "It's just what I do, sir. I make sure my fellow crewmates get home safe and sound," said Perez.
            McCoy smiled and left his patient to rest. For the first time in twenty four hours, he felt like he won one.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Star Trek: Course Corrections, Parts 7 & 8 (of 10)

Continuing my unpublished Star Trek prose short story. Part 1 can be found here parts 2 & 3 here, part 4 here, part 5 here. and part 6 here.


            McCoy left the Rec Room feeling better about Chekov. If Sulu says he has been contemplating the change for a while, then he certainly isn't reacting to the events with the Vindresi and Klingons. The two working shoulder to shoulder over the years had become quite close. He suspected Chekov viewed Sulu as the big brother he never had. He also suspected Sulu enjoyed mentoring the young Russian.
            With a little food in his belly and the light buzz of the brandy wearing off, McCoy returned to his quarters for a quick shower and uniform change. He decided to talk to Spock about the Nogura issue and Jim's career. If the two of them could agree, surely Jim would dig in and request another command. It would be only logical.
            The turbo lift came to a soft stop at the bridge, and McCoy exited to a dimly lit bridge. Spock sat serenely in the center seat alternately checking readouts and watching the screens while Rahda worked the controls at the helm. DePaul was next to her calculating an equation at the navigation console. McCoy scanned the outer ring of the bridge. Palmer was at communications. Boma was looking into the viewer at the science station, while Haines and Russ kept track of the readouts at the two substations. On the other side of the bridge, Leslie was manning the Engineering Station while Gabler and Osborne operated the Environment and Bridge Support stations.
            McCoy quietly walked up to Spock.
            "Are we out of the Vendresi system yet?" McCoy asked.
            "Affirmative Doctor. We have been for some time," Spock replied. "I take it Mister Perez is out of danger?"
            "For the moment."
            McCoy paused, unsure how to proceed. Spock was not the type to discuss personal issues while on duty. Who am I kidding, McCoy thought. He's not one to discuss personal issues off duty either.
            "Something, Doctor?" Spock asked, his slanted eyebrows pinching slightly above the bridge of his nose.
            He was intuitive though, McCoy had to give him that.
            "I was, ah, I was hoping that I, ah, I could have a world with you in, ah, in private," McCoy managed to stammer out uncomfortably. Spock remained silent for a moment. McCoy wasn't sure why he was so uncomfortable broaching the topic with Spock. Sure, they had more than their fair share of arguments, but each one always began with good intentions on both sides. He would rather eat anti-matter than admit it out loud, but he really respected Spock and he suspected Spock felt the same way.
            The moment seemed to stretch into infinity, before Spock the rose from the command chair. "Mister DePaul, you have the bridge until I return," Spock said and turned toward the turbo lift.


            Once in the lift, McCoy gave the lift control a twist and set it in motion. Once it was on the move, he explained to Spock the situation with Nogura and Jim's general mood. Spock listened intently taking in all the details. McCoy finished, he was clearly upset. Another reason to try to try to shed all vestiges of emotion, Spock thought.
            "Well, Spock," McCoy prompted, "Say something."
            "Doctor, I agree with you that command of a starship is Jim's first, best destiny," Spock began. "Anything else would be, simply put, a waste."
            "Good, good, if we both go after him, he'll realize that and stand up to Nogura when he comes knockin'," McCoy said rubbing his fingers together.
            Spock felt a pang of regret and quickly smothered it as he replied to McCoy.
            "No, Doctor. Jim must make his own decision in the matter. We each must find our own paths, anything else would be illogical."
            McCoy's face darkened.
            "It's illogical to allow a friend to make the wrong decision. It's illogical to sit back and allow someone to make a mistake that will harm them."
            "I disagree, Doctor. Sentient beings often learn the most from their mistakes."
            "This is a mistake that will ruin his career, perhaps even his life."
            "His life, Doctor. His career."
            "So you are just going to let him walk away from all this," McCoy said, his inflection indicating it was not a question.
            Spock, none the less, felt obliged to confirm his position.
            "I will support my friend in his decision, even if I disagree with it."
            "Well, I hope you'll excuse me, if I don't give in that easily, Mister Spock,"
            "On the contrary, Doctor. I hope you are successful," Spock said.
             Choosing his words carefully he, quite logically, chose to appeal to McCoy's emotion. "In fact, I believe the captain might phrase it this way: 'Good luck, Bones.'"
            That appeared to take the wind out of McCoy's bluster, which relieved Spock to no end. The doctor's emotional outbursts, while occasionally helpful, were frequently a distasteful display, no matter how well intended.
            The turbo lift came to a stop and the doors slid open. Lieutenant Farrell was about to step in when McCoy held up a hand.
            "We're full up!" McCoy said sharply and then pounded the door close button.
            The doors slid shut, hiding Spock's view of the stunned Farrell.
            "I take it there is something more, doctor?"
            This time McCoy's tone was softer, perhaps even a little hesitant.
            "If I can't get Jim to turn down Nogura, they say you will have your pick of the fleet after we get back," McCoy said avoiding eye contact. "You, ah, might need a little, ah, human intuition to balance out your, um, ah, logic from time to time, so I was, um, hoping that, ah..."
            McCoy paused and looked directly at Spock as his faced darkened again. Spock had to resist the impulse to turn away.
            "Boy, you really are a pill aren't you Spock? You're really gonna make me come out and ask aren't you?" McCoy said. "I know a lot of our sparring is just friendly back and forth, and at the end of the day we both know you're gonna need me out there, but you're just dying for me to come out and ask. You'd probably even like it if I begged. I won't go that far, but I will ask. Spock, will you request me as your Chief Medical Officer on your first command?"
            Spock, was surprised. The doctor frequently behaved as if he was being dragged out into deep space by Jim. He, logically assumed, McCoy would be glad to return to Earth. Spock worked hard to suppress his feelings but had no desire to hurt Doctor McCoy's.
            "Doctor," he began slowly, "I will not be taking command of another ship when we return."
            "That's great, extended shore leave on Earth while you and Scotty refit the Enterprise."
            "That's not what I mean, Doctor. I will be leaving Starfleet and returning to Vulcan to undergo the Kolinahr ritual."
            McCoy took a step back as if Spock had reached out and physically struck him. In the process, he released the turbo lift control causing it to come to a stop.
            "You're leaving Starfleet? Spock you've served in the Enterprise longer than anyone. I can't believe it. No wonder you don't want to help with Jim. You knew our next target would be to get you to put your head on straight. It's like everyone has lost their minds at once."
            The doors the to turbo lift slid open as Spock started to try to explain his need for the ritual, but McCoy had already exited and stalked off down the corridor. Even with no one around Spock waged an internal war to keep his face from betraying the torrent of emotions he was fighting to control.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Star Trek: Course Corrections, Part 6 (of 10)

Continuing my unpublished Star Trek prose short story. Part 1 can be found here parts 2 & 3 here, part 4 here and part 5 here.

            Noyota Uhura stretched back in her seat in the Rec Room trying to work out a kink that manifested itself during her shift on the bridge.
            "You alright?"
            She blinked and smiled back and Hikaru Sulu, who was nursing his coffee across from her. He was patiently waiting for his way too hot soup to cool. He had only picked at his meal earlier when the crew ate and now the empty spot in his belly was starting to protest.
            "Nothing a workout in the gym and a good night's sleep won't cure," she replied.
            "I'm always in the market for a good fencing partner if you're up for it," Sulu said.
            "Oh, I don't know, I'm more of an Akido gal," she said.
            "Well at least we know you will sleep well. Who's your favorite sparring partner? Sam?"
            "Sam if I want to learn. Painter or Hanson if I want to win," she said with a smile.
            Sulu chuckled out loud and she could not help but join in. His deep resonant laugh was always from the belly, always genuine and always contagious.
            "No kidding, last time I sparred with Sam, he threw me around like rag doll," Sulu said. "I still get a twinge when I have to reach across the helm with my left arm."
            Uhura noticed Sulu's attention wane as something behind her obviously caught his eye. She turned to see a haggard McCoy slowly walk into the Rec Room. He was still wearing his scrub uniform with the short sleeves. She knew he had performed surgery on Ensign Perez, just a few hours ago. His lazy gait looked to be two parts fatigue and one part alcohol.
            "That's not a good sign," she heard Sulu whisper.
            "I don't know, if Carlos was in any danger he would still be in sickbay," Uhura said, only half believing it her self.
            They watched as McCoy got some food from the synthesizer and turned to seek a place to sit. Uhura made eye contact with the doctor from across the room and he made a bee line for their table. He slid into a seat next to Sulu.
            "I'm glad to see you two here," McCoy said before taking a bite of what looked to be a chicken sandwich.
            "I figured things were going bad when I didn't see you at dinner," Sulu said.
            They both knew McCoy preferred to eat with the crew. Uhura always thought it was a subtle way the doctor kept tabs on the crew's mental health. Casual conversation over a meal frequently lead to someone venting their frustrations.
            "How is Ensign Perez?" Uhura asked.
            McCoy, in true southern gentlemanly fashion, kept them waiting for a moment as he chewed his bite of sandwich before answering. It would be rude to speak with a mouthful of synthesized chicken.
            "Stable for the moment. Chris and M'Benga are keeping tabs on him. We're playing the waiting game right now," McCoy said.
            The answer seemed route to Uhura. He's probably already been asked several times on his way here, she thought.
            "I'm glad to catch you here," McCoy began, "I hear there is chatter that Nogura is our new fleet commander."
            "News travels at light speed but gossip travels at warp speed," Uhura said.
            "And gets distorted along the way," Sulu added.
            "Any distortion on that front?" McCoy asked between bites.
            "Nope, it's official as of this afternoon," Uhura confirmed.
            McCoy paused in the meager repast, throwing the napkin down on the remainder.
            "What's wrong, Doc?" Sulu asked.
            "Nogura," McCoy paused and made a face before continuing, "is known for getting what he wants and he appears to want all the commanding officers who are finishing up large scale deep space missions, like this one, to work at command back home."
            "That's great! Captain Kirk would make a great Admiral," Sulu said tasting his formerly thermonuclear soup.
            McCoy made an "oh really" face and turned toward the helmsman.
            "I'll give him six months," McCoy said.
            "Six months before what?" Uhura asked.
            "Six months before he's climbing the walls with boredom," McCoy said.
            "He'll crack up behind a desk. A man like the captain was meant to be out there," McCoy said with a wave of his hand, "Not rotting in some planet side office."
            "Surely, they would give him another deep space mission if he turned down the promotion, wouldn't they?" Sulu asked.
            "That depends on what's news and what's gossip when it comes to Nogura," McCoy said giving a pointed look toward the communications officer.
            I should tell them, Uhura thought before taking a deep breath.
            "Do you remember Commodore Wesley?" Uhura asked.
            Both men nodded.
            "He was in command of the Lexington when we tested that damn Multitronic unit created by Richard Daystrom," McCoy said. "He retired to Mantilles about a year after that and got into politics."
            The mention of Daystrom's M-5 unit chilled the trio to the bone. Over five hundred starfleet officers were lost during the tactical test, including the entire crew of the Excalibur.
            "He also looked just like Security Chief Giotto. I mean, seriously, they could have been separated at birth," Sulu said with a weak smile trying his best to lighten the mood.
            Uhura gave him a glare causing the helmsman to shrug, then she continued.
            "From what I understand he didn't retire voluntarily."
            Sulu and McCoy exchanged glances.
            "Nogura either wanted him promoted for not having to destroy the Enterprise or blamed him for the whole incident and wanted him assigned to a ground position," she said, "I don't know which. Way out here, we hear different accountings. But he pushed and pushed until finally the Commodore had enough and just opted out with early retirement."
            McCoy looked ashen, like all his fears were confirmed. The trio sat in silence for a few minutes before McCoy finally spoke up again.
            "Have either of you considered what you are going to do when we get back to Earth?"
            Sulu broke into a smile, the future was clearly something he looked forward to.
            "Well I, for one, am going to enjoy a nice long shore leave in San Francisco and hope for a good posting as either a helmsman or a first officer somewhere, hopefully another deep space assignment."
            "You don't want to work on the Enterprise refit?" McCoy asked.
            "I wouldn't turn it down. It would be great to be home for a while, but really I would rather get back out there," Sulu said. "Helming one of the other big ships like the Enterprise or perhaps as first officer on a small science vessel. I hear they have one that is going to be studying and comparing fauna on recently explored planets."
            Uhura felt McCoy's eyes shift to her. When she made eye contact, all he did was arch his eyebrow as away of asking, What about you?
            "If they ask me to help with the refit I would be glad to. This place is like home to me now," she said, prompting a smile from McCoy. "However, the idea of getting another deep space assignment is appealing or even getting to do some translation work for the Federation Diplomatic Corps would be a great challenge. It's hard to say doctor, the future just seems so wide open with opportunities."
            McCoy seemed to contemplate their answers. He smiled weakly.
            "I envy your youth and options," McCoy said with a wistfulness, "I hope Chekov keeps his options open."
            "What do you mean, Doc?" Sulu asked, concern creeping onto his normally open face.
            "Aw, because of what happened with Takahashi and Perez, the kid has it in his head that he needs to go into security," McCoy said.
            Sulu leaned back in his seat looking almost relieved.
            "I don't know, Doc. I think he has been thinking about that move for a while now," he said. "I know he's mentioned it to me several times."
            "Humph! Maybe I didn't give the kid enough credit," McCoy said more to himself than to Uhura and Sulu.
            "It wouldn't be the first time a person made a path change in Starfleet. Did you know I was originally assigned to the astrosciences division as the ship's physicist before becoming a helmsman?"
            "So you made a career 'course correction' Lieutenant?" McCoy asked.
            Sulu smiled at the phrase. "You could call it that, Doc."
            McCoy smiled, excused himself and started to leave, but Uhura felt she had to ask.
            "Doctor, what are you going to do when we get home?"
            McCoy let the question hang in the air for a moment. Uhura wasn't sure if he didn't have an answer or if he just didn't want to share it.  He looked at his feet and shifted uncomfortably before finally found his voice.
            "I'll be honest, I've been wondering that myself," he said, "I always figured the captain would turn down a promotion and request another long term mission and I would just tag along, but now..."
            McCoy shifted again uncomfortably.
            "You know, Doc, scuttlebutt has it that Mister Spock will get his choice of missions when we get home," Sulu said. "I'll bet my collection of antique firearms that he picks either a science vessel or a deep space probe. He'll need a top doc."
            "And a first officer who can fly a ship as well as head up both astrosciences and botany labs?" McCoy said, his smile growing.
            "Only if he can find someone that brilliantly multi-talented," Sulu said smiling back.
            McCoy turned to leave, then paused.
            "Hikaru, do you ever regret leaving astrosciences?" McCoy asked.
            Uhura didn't know it was possible, but Sulu's smile hot even bigger, so big that she couldn't help but smile as well.
            "Not for a second, Doc," Sulu said. "Not for a second."