Christine Chapel was not an ambitious woman. Yes, she strove to be more than a nurse. She wanted more out of her career in Starfleet and not mourn for a man that would take his research away from her. She became a doctor in just over a year and was assigned to the refitted Enterprise. However, she did not expect to step aside, least of which for a man who had supposedly retired.
It was infuriating and she felt scorned. Beforehand, when she was a nurse, she had been the butt of the many jokes, arguments and more from Leonard McCoy. Now, the two had to work together with him being her superior because he had more years behind him. McCoy did not mind the draft after all, but did not like to be questioned on everything he diagnosed.
Christine had the upper hand in some ways. She knew the crew better, especially the newest members. She not only treated their wounds and illnesses, but also talked with them on a professional and personal level. Christine was sought out as the confidante. She kept secret all of their frustrations, hopes, fears and dreams inside of her and gave some advice and suggestions, encouraged the momentum and chided the ridiculous.
"But this is not fair," she mumbled to her as she finalized her report.
No, it was not. Starfleet sometimes made the worst decision. One of them was allowing Admiral Kirk back onboard. Christine did not know if it was his pushing or Starfleet putting him on the job. Either way, it caused this personal cascade that fell on her.
It also caused some awkwardness between her and McCoy. He returned with his usual ornery attitude. Christine can deal with it. However, his discontent was louder than normal. He did not like the refitted vessel. Sickbay had been modified and he was unfamiliar where items are and, in two instances, what a piece of medical equipment did.
This was actually normal. Some doctors did not keep up with the latest treatments, items and news. Christine almost made it a hobby more than an occupation, delving into ideas, cultures and bodies. For McCoy, it was more than that. It was a way of life that he wished remained in the past.
Despite the disadvantages, this did not mean they worked well together. Christine thought it prudent to allow the nurses to tend to McCoy for the time being before reaching out to him. Every time they spoke, he barked at her and hardly had a civil word to say past grabbing her when they heard Spock had boarded. His excitement was infectious. She kept it as professional as she could. It was the only thing she could do for a dear friend.
When Christine finished her work, she submitted it to the main database of the ship and stretched her legs. It has been a long day, she mused, and she sought to forget it fast. She did not want to think about their missing crewmembers. She had to work out a plan to pass McCoy and that required her full attention. Already, he was giving a nurse a dressing down, she heard, and it was distracting.
She peeked outside the door. McCoy's back was to her and the nurse in question hardly had her head up. Christine had a chance to leave quickly. She recognized the tone in McCoy's voice and knew that she'd love to not be a participant.
Christine grabbed her things and exited. She managed to get halfway down the corridor when a hard voice stopped her. It was McCoy. Sighing, she turned around and returned to Sickbay.
"We need to talk," he said, motioning to his office.
Christine nodded. There was no way around this reasonable request. She walked to McCoy's small space. When he arrived right behind her, he ordered the doors shut tightly. He wanted no soul to bother them.
"What is it, Doctor?" she asked calmly.
"I have been…too harsh on you," McCoy said. "I wanted to apologize. I am…happy for you. You've come very far."
Christine did not know what to say. McCoy was never this gentle with her. He looked to her for an answer, though, something of an acknowledgement that he was not being a dick. Christine saw the childish need and nodded her head in agreement. There was no need to elaborate on the subject. Forgiveness was enough.
She though the interview was over. She swiveled to leave when McCoy held her arm, to halt her again. There was something else.
"I know you are upset too, Christine," McCoy continued. "I don't blame you. I'd be pretty damned resentful too if someone took my place."
"It is not only that." Christine released herself from the hold. "I find it unusual that Starfleet allowed Admiral Kirk to be in command."
"It is an uncommon obsession," McCoy observed lightly.
"One that could have killed more people," Christine pointed out. "Doctor, aren't you concerned about your friend?"
Christine was afraid of McCoy's reaction. Indeed, it was one full of tension. The topic of Kirk's promotion was a source of contention for McCoy. He resigned because Admiral Ciana did not heed his warnings. It was not a best-kept secret.
"No, I generally think Jim knows what he's doing," McCoy admitted. "Being back on the Enterprise has opened his eyes, though."
"In what way? That he stole another man's position?"
"He did it because he thought he was the best man for the job."
"Captain Decker could have taken the Vejur threat. He was a sound commander."
"He also might not be here. And who then will be her captain?"
Christine had to think about it. "Captain Decker did not assign a first officer."
"No, he didn't," McCoy conceded, "and if Spock arrived, without Jim onboard, he might or might not have taken control of the ship. We do not know with that green-blooded hobgoblin."
"We won't, now that it is all over."
"And that's it, Christine. It is all over. We cannot be the same people, but we can work with what we have. Decisions do not need to define us completely."
The revelations froze Christine. McCoy was right. Nobody was the same. Between the five-year mission and the end of this one, they had all changed. Her ambitions and needs may have been different than Kirk's. They had different ideas of what life should be like after the docking into Earth. Most certainly their pathways separated and did not cross until now.
Kirk could have had a valid reason to take control of the Enterprise. It was not just his longing for her. It was a way to reunite with those he loved and save his home planet too. It was to undertake the position of savior. It could be that he thought himself the perfect man for the job. It also could be all of the above.
In either case, he made his choices. It may have affected the scorned, but it will not define her. Christine still had many chances in Starfleet. The Enterprise was not the only ship that needed a medical officer. She will be transferred…and she will embrace the change.
"Friends again?" McCoy asked her.
Christine smile broadly. "And colleagues."
And it stood still.