This started as a one-shot that I wasn't very fond of, so I started completely over and it turned out completely different. Unfortunately (fortunately?) it decided to expand into a multi-fic piece along the way. I will warn you all now that I am back in college and my schoolwork is now first priority. So this will come when it can, but I can't promise frequent updates. I will promise to finish it, since I hate leaving work undone, but it might take a while!
The young, bright, sunny secretary beamed up at the room in general. Her first week on the job had not yet taught her the appropriate demeanor for the dismal atmosphere at Starfleet Recruitment. For a second nobody stirred. Then a pair of long legs and a glare further darkened by several days worth of stubble unfolded itself from the far corner and loped to the front desk. The secretary smiled up at him, undaunted by that formidable glower now aimed at her person.
"Just through those doors as soon as the Admiral is ready for you," she chirped.
The secretary was unprepared for the low, hoarse Southern slur, and she frowned politely.
"That's Doctor, missy. I'm a Doctor. Doctor McCoy."
He was not shouting, exactly, but neither was his irritated correction quiet, and the silent recruitment office had no trouble hearing every word. He seemed undisturbed by the attention, however, and laid a hand on her desk in front of him to emphasize his point. "I went through twelve long years of medical school, and I do believe that that earns me the right to call myself Doctor. If I've got nothing else, I've got that, for however much it's worth. Am I understood?"
The secretary felt her sunny mood disappearing in the wake of this unexpected confrontation, but she pasted a repentant smile on her face and prayed for the doors behind her to open. "Understood, Doctor. I apologize."
The man's face softened, and he removed his hand from the desk and scratched it across his jaw instead. There was an awkward pause in which someone behind him coughed uncomfortably and the scarlet-faced secretary prayed more fervently, but then he said in softer gravel, "Naw. I'm the one should be apologizing. You had no way to know. The fault ain't yours; I've got no call to be bawling you out. I am sorry."
The secretary blinked in surprise, but she accepted the proffered hand. She was expecting a rather raw shake-on-the-deal, but received instead a firm, gentle, lingering clasp and a warm smile that brightened briefly the darkest, saddest eyes she had ever seen. But then the doctor released her hand, the eyes faded back to dull, weary grief, and the door behind her opened.
"Just through those doors, sir," she stuttered.
"Thank you, ma'am." He ran his fingers through tousled brown hair and disappeared through the door. The secretary was left with her roster and a room full of silent would-be Starfleet recruits. As the door closed with a gentle hiss, she pondered those haunted eyes and wondered for the first time what sort of despair could bring a man to Starfleet. Nothing could be further from home, further from everything a man knew and loved on earth than Space. She could hardly imagine leaving her family, her home, and her beloved homeworld to travel uncharted space for years at a time.
But then, she thought, if a man had no home and no family, what better place to create something worth living for than enlisting in the most strenuous, challenging, and prestigious military endeavor in the Federation? She looked down at the roster and sent another prayer heavenward for one Leonard. H. McCoy, Georgia, age thirty-nine, hair: brown, eyes: blue, height: 5'11.
May you find whatever it is you're looking for in Starfleet. God bless you, Doctor.
If first impressions were all Admiral Christopher Blake based new recruits on, the wrinkled, scruffy specimen in front of him wouldn't have had a chance to sit down before he was shown exactly where to exit. Fortunately for the unfortunate-looking gentleman, Admiral Blake was willing to wait for the second impression.
"Have a seat, sir," he said.
The man sank into the chair across the broad desk and placed both hands on the armrests comfortably. "Thank you, Admiral," he said gruffly.
"Name, age, and reason for enlisting in Starfleet," Blake said. He clasped both hands in front of him and looked for eye-contact. Surprisingly, it was given him immediately.
"Leonard McCoy, age thirty-nine. Reason…well, I'd have to say to escape, sir."
"To escape what, McCoy?"
To the man's credit, he maintained the eye-contact, though Blake saw his hands clench the armrests nervously.
"A nasty divorce," he said quietly. "My wife took just about everything I care about here on Earth, including my daughter. I need to get away. I've got to get away and I want to practice medicine in a place that doesn't remind me of the private practice I lost."
"So you're a doctor." Blake's mind attempted to reconcile the image of white-coats and sterile equipment to the three-day growth and crumpled, though admittedly clean, clothes on the skinny, vaguely desperate figure before him. He was again surprised to find it in the squared shoulders, well-manicured hands, and the obvious intelligence in the eyes. "And you want to be a Space Doctor."
"Are you sure that's what you want? There'll be little tolerance for deserting once you've sobered."
The man's eyes flashed and Blake could have sworn that the man grew several inches in his indignation.
"I might not be much to look at, Admiral, but I am entirely sober. I'll admit I've not come my best, and I'll wager you've seen prospective recruits looking a thousand times more qualified. But I'll promise you that I draw the line at drinking myself painless to the point that I don't know where or who I am or what I'm bloody doing. And I'd be unpleasantly surprised, sir, if you can't see that."
Blake held up a dismissive hand. "I consider myself duly chastened, Doctor."
The would-be recruit relaxed somewhat, even looking slightly ashamed of his outburst, but his eyes were still sparking. He let his gaze dance around the room for a moment, and then they returned fixed on Blake's curious gaze.
"Do you want to know why I lost my private practice?"
Blake nodded. "And I warn you, McCoy, If your reason isn't something bloody good you'll be out this office faster than warp..."
Blake was unaccustomed to being interrupted and he nearly retaliated, but something in this man's demeanor calmed him. It was an explosive combination, this insolent, bordering-on-insubordinate confidence with strangely quieting, reassuring competency. It struck Blake suddenly that either this man would be completely unable to function when faced with the demanding Fleet officers, or that he would be among the best doctors Starfleet had ever seen. He realized that he had already accepted McCoy into their ranks in his mind, and was again astonished with himself. What was so incredibly charismatic about this man's personality? The doctor was eyeing him with one eyebrow raised, and he waved an impatient hand.
"Go on, then."
"My ex-wife's father granted me the place when I married his daughter," he said without preamble. "I came to her with nothing and would have been happy to have nothing, but he wouldn't hear of sending her off to live any less than the wealthy upbringing she had. We signed the documents as a wedding present. I've been working ever since we were married to pay it off, and I was almost there when she decided she wanted a divorce. It wasn't until after we'd signed the papers that we found that all of the documents were under her name before mine. She took the whole place when she left—I could have gone to court, maybe gotten it back, but the hurt wasn't worth it. It wasn't really mine yet, anyway, not since I still owed her father." The doctor shifted in his chair, chewing at his lip. His voice was so quiet when he spoke again that Blake had to lean forward to catch the words. "And if her having it means she can support my Joanna, I'd give her ten times as much."
Blake looked at McCoy for a long moment, wrestling with himself. The man's story was nothing he hadn't heard before, but something about him felt different. It came to him when McCoy's eyes met his again, and he saw the spark behind the sadness. Most men and women he'd met who had lost everything were beaten. This man was anything but. Broken, yes. Desperate, yes. But beaten he was not.
"How old is your daughter?" he heard himself ask. He was glad he had when the spark brightened in McCoy's face, touching his lips in a soft smile.
"She's eighteen. Heading off to college in the fall—going into medicine. Always hoped she would…" his voice tailed off, and he shrugged proudly. "She's a beautiful girl. Looks like her mother, acts like me." He laughed, and the sound made Blake smile involuntarily. "She got the best of both worlds."
Blake leaned back in his chair, positive this man was going to Starfleet. He didn't know where, yet, but something big and potentially life-changing was stirring in his mind—he didn't know how his superior officers might take it, but he'd always been an openly intuitive man, and right now his intuition was slapping him across the face.
"Well, McCoy," he said. "I want you in the Fleet. Consider yourself recruited."
McCoy reacted much as Blake had suspected he might—a soft little grin, and then the veil across his eyes dropped again as he stood. He extended his hand, but Blake waved it away.
"Sit down. I'm not through with you."
McCoy sank back down and waited while Blake watched him through lidded eyes, turning a PADD pencil over and over in his hands.
"McCoy, I'm going to offer you something you may or may not want to take," Blake said at last. The odds had been weighed, and, whether luckily or unluckily, they had come out in McCoy's favor.
"I'm going to offer you a position on the Enterprise."
Confusion, and then realization dawned and McCoy's jaw dropped. "The Enterprise, Admiral? Well, now, I'd hardly expect…"
"I'm not finished. The new Captain of that Starship happens to be a friend of mine, and one who reminds me of me when I captained my own ship fifteen years ago. He's young, brash, extraordinarily intelligent, and remarkably intuitive. Some are calling him the potentially best Starship Captain we've seen in decades. This is his first commission, so I guess you'll be among the first to see if the rumors are true. I think you'd work well with him."
"On the Enterprise." McCoy shook his head ever-so-slightly, but the smile was back in his eyes. "You're sure about this, Admiral?"
"I'll have to run it by my superiors," Blake said, "But they've trusted my judgment for nearly ten years now, and I think they'll be willing to give you a shot. But don't let me down—I'll have to pull a few strings to get a civil practitioner with nothing but a crash course in Starship training into the Fleet, much less onto their beloved Flagship. She's just undergone some rather extensive rebooting, and she's turned out a real beauty. Light years from when Captain Chris Pike first took her out a few years ago. I'd rather you didn't blow this for both our sakes."
"Thank you, sir. I won't let you down."
"Then that's all we have left to discuss." Blake stood, and McCoy followed suit. Blake could swear the man positively bounced as they shook hands. "You'll report in two days to the Starfleet Training Academy. You'll only get a three-week course in Starfleet equipment and regulations, and then you're on your way. It'll be brutal, but the Enterprise leaves the quadrant on her maiden voyage in three weeks and you'll need to be on board when she does."
"Yes, sir. I'll be there."
Blake nodded. "One more thing. You'd better be serious about this, because she isn't coming back for a few years. The Fleet has her scheduled for what they're calling a "five-year mission", and she's not expected to make many trips in the area of home. Once you're signed on, you might just be stuck for a good long while."
McCoy inclined his head. "Understood."
"Then good luck, Doctor. And welcome to Starfleet."
Review, please...let me know if I should make time for this now, or if I should let it go until my semester ends because no one really cares...just kidding. I think.