Title: The Right-Hand Man (5/10)
Fandom: Star Trek TOS
Pairing: Kirk/Spock/McCoy (eventually)
Summary: Bones uncovers a deadly experiment which is killing a colony of innocents; it’s his mission to save them, so that’s what he’ll do… despite those out to stop him—permanently.
Previous Parts: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
“How many more times will I have to repeat myself? I—didn’t—know—McCoy—was—alive!” Jim emphasizes each word with a smack of his fist on the table.
“Admiral Kirk, we believe you—”
“Then why are we having the same conversation I’ve been forced to have three times already?”
“We just want to understand the situation, Admiral. Starfleet Command is as stunned by this development as everyone else.” Is that so? Jim thinks, narrowing his eyes at the committee sitting across the conference table. He does not voice his doubts. “And, Kirk, we don’t appreciate being blindsided.”
I’ll bet you don’t! His mouth twitches.
He takes a deep breath, gathers what little patience he has left, and says somewhat forcefully, “I cannot answer your questions, gentlemen. And frankly,” he rises from his seat (without dismissal), “Leonard McCoy’s return is the best thing that could have happened to Starfleet.”
One man sighs to himself; another looks amused. It’s Admiral Johnson—who has no love for Kirk, nor Kirk for him—that takes offense.
“We are aware of your personal camaraderie with Doctor McCoy,” the man practically sneers. “But that does NOT excuse the fact that he informed no one of his apparent survival, and instead disrupts the memorial service commemorating his dead staff and CLAIMS they were murdered IN PUBLIC!” By the end of this little speech, Admiral Johnson is on his feet as well, literally pointing his finger at Kirk.
“Bones always did like a grand entrance.” Jim does smirk now, although he is more than a little upset.
“I’ll have you on insubordination, Kirk!”
“To a man of the same rank, Johnson? I think not.” Kirk gives a nod to the others in the room, turns on his heel and exits the room.
He’s got a doctor to track down, who owes him a very long explanation.
Joanna is packing her bags when Jim and Spock enter McCoy’s quarters. She gives them a brief “Hi” before continuing on about her business, folding clothes. All the condolence-cards and flowers she’s dumped in the trash.
“Joanna,” Jim tries.
“Lt. McCoy!” he puts rank in his voice. This gives her pause, and she turns to them both with a raised eyebrow.
“Uncle Jim, Mr. Spock. Now, you don’t have to be all formal with me, okay?” She is deliberately misunderstanding the order.
Spock raises his eyebrow in return. He makes no reply, but pulls out a chair for Joanna in invitation. She gives him a McCoy smile. “You’re very polite, Mr. Spock. I don’t know why my Daddy complains about your manners.”
“Indeed, I must agree with you, Ms. McCoy.”
He tilts his head, as he sits across from her, in silent acknowledgement.
Jim wonders how he could have forgotten that Joanna is too much like her father. (It might be because she’s female—Jim usually gives women the benefit of the doubt.)
“Joanna, how long have you known that Bones was alive?”
She wrinkles her nose a bit at the word Bones but regards Jim with knowing eyes. “I’m sorry, Uncle Jim, truly I am. But Daddy made me promise to keep quiet—and he was very specific that you and Mr. Spock shouldn’t know.”
Jim wants to rail We should have been the first ones! but he swallows his hurt instead.
“When did Doctor McCoy contact you—Joanna?” Spock asks.
“Five days ago.” She settles in to tell the story. “Uhura, bless her heart, has been taking care of everything.” They both nod in agreement. (Wonderful, sweet Uhura.) “Well—this is when you were out with Sulu, Uncle Jim—a carrier delivered a letter addressed to me. I know, an actual honest-to-God handwritten letter! Anyway, she handed it to me—I was so despondent, I guess—and asked me if I wanted her to open it. I almost said yes, but that’s when I noticed the flourish at the end of the ‘McCoy.’ I swear to you, I thought I was going crazy with grief ’cause only Daddy does that!” Her eyes are very blue bright. “So I opened it myself, alone.”
Joanna gets up from her chair and digs around in one of her bags. She produces a piece of paper, hands it to Mr. Spock.
Spock reads off a date and time. “Fascinating.”
“So Bones sent you a letter with instructions for what— Did he vid-comm you?”
“It was pre-recorded, Uncle Jim. And I destroyed the communication after I listened to it, just as a safety precaution.” Joanna walks over to them, places a hand on Kirk’s shoulder. “It was like seeing the sun after weeks of rain, Uncle Jim, when Daddy appeared on that screen.” Her eyes are wet.
“He said, ‘I’m alive, sweetheart’ and I didn’t believe it at first but then he started talking and it was Daddy and it was real.” She lets out a shaky little laugh. “I swear I’ll never forget those words. Ever.”
Jim is silent because he is picturing Bones through Joanna’s words, with a tender look on his face. It almost makes him want to weep too. But there are more important details he needs from her, despite how he wants to linger on the hope and joy that has been in him since McCoy transported onto that stage.
Spock takes control of the conversation. “What else did Doctor McCoy say? Were you aware of his intentions?”
“No, Mr. Spock. He simply said he was alive and coming home; that it was crucial no one know. He said I was to keep on like nothing was different, like he was still dead.” She mumbles then I tried I really did, but I was just so happy. “I couldn’t ask him any questions, why it needed to be kept secret. He did say, though, that the situation was dire and that he needed to know I’d be safe. Not knowing the details would keep me safe.”
Jim wouldn’t have argued that point with Bones.
“He asked me to reach out to Mr. Scott. I copied down a set of instructions and gave them to Mr. Scott when I could without people noticing.”
Jim hears the words “In two, Scotty” reverberating in his head, and now he remembers. Of course. Scotty hadn’t been at the memorial service. Jim remembers asking Uhura about that, who only shook her head in response to his query. Then the assembly had been called to stand for the initiation of the service, and Jim had forgotten all about the people who were (or were not) there.
Spock looks at Jim, and Jim says to Joanna, “Thank you for your help.” They know who’s next on their list of interrogations.
“You are prepared to travel. May I inquire of your destination?” Spock says so solicitously that it startles a laugh out of McCoy’s daughter.
“I am going to Uhura’s, actually. She offered to me a place to stay, since I mentioned that I would rather not be in these quarters when people start banging down the doors for Daddy.”
If Joanna cannot stay with him (not with all the officials knocking down his door), then Uhura is a wonderful second choice. Kirk offers to escort Joanna to Uhura’s apartment off the Starfleet grounds. She accepts, and the two of them bide Spock farewell. When Jim returns, Spock and he will catch the elusive Doctor McCoy.
Uhura greets both the Captain and Joanna with warm welcome. Joanna retires to the guest bedroom to unpack her bags while Kirk lingers in the doorway. When Kirk and Uhura are alone, he minces no words.
“Where’s Mr. Scott?”
Uhura looks a little surprised at this question but she responds calmly enough. “Your guess is as good as mine, Sir.”
“Well, I need to speak with him. He knows where Doctor McCoy is hiding.”
She says something sharp and likely unpleasant in her native language. Jim barely suppresses a wince. “I knew that man was up to something! Don’t worry, Captain, I’ll comm you as soon as Scotty tries to set a foot through this door.”
“Thanks, Uhura. Oh and, keep an eye on Joanna for me.”
“We’ve all got our eyes on Joanna.”
Jim smiles at that, thinks that yes it does take a lot of manpower to keep a McCoy out of trouble. He should know.
The evening comes in on the tailcoats of a heat-wave. At least, Joanna says this as she opens her bedroom window before joining Uhura for a quaint dinner. Uhura notes that Joanna fidgets every so often, glances at her watch like a woman waiting on her date.
So Uhura decides to take the bull by the horns. “Who are you waiting for, Joanna?”
Joanna misses her glass of water—stops and stares back at her dinner partner. “I’m waiting for someone?” she repeats sweetly.
“Yes, I do believe that you are. And I also believe that it is polite to let your hostess know if she’ll be entertaining more guests for dinner.”
Joanna blushes. “Ms. Uhura, I—”
There is a crash down the hall. Joanna scrambles out of her chair and is off running before Uhura can grab her arm. She does what any sane woman would—pulls out her standard-issue phaser from its little nook, sets it to heavy stun and heads into the guest bedroom.
Joanna is hunched over a figure, clinging and cursing at the same time. Uhura hears “Sweetheart, you gotta let me breathe—”
“Lights, 100%” she commands. The two break apart and Uhura sucks in her breath. One McCoy looks at her, grinning; the other eyes her phaser—says, “Now, Uhura, I don’t think that will be necessary. I’m just an old-country doctor, not a burglar.”
“In the flesh, what’s not bruised to pieces.” He sits up completely and flinches. “Too damn old to be climbing in windows…”
“…like a suitor come a’courting,” Joanna finishes with a laugh. “Daddy, once I’m done with this hugging, I’ve got a bone to pick with you.”
McCoy has the grace to look a little sheepish. “You could just be satisfied with a hug, darlin’.”
Uhura chimes in, “She’s not the only one with something to say, Doctor McCoy.”
“Alright,” he grumps. “Just pour me a glass of something strong, ladies, before you begin.”
Leonard heads straight for Uhura’s liquor cabinet and locates the brandy with a familiarity. Uhura (and Scotty) kept in touch with him after the end of the Enterprise’s mission, and he remembers well enough this apartment (how neat it stays, with that woman’s touch). During the long three years, he only made a handful of trips out to San Francisco. Never got closer to Headquarters than this place on the east side of town, all the while pretending that he wasn’t pining after a man named Kirk not too far away—or a Vulcan, even farther.
Uhura was kind to him then; Scotty too—in his own way, talking up a storm about engine modifications and how “these young pups don’t know a screw from a pin.”
Now she doesn’t look so kindly, not at all. If anything, Leonard is fully aware that she is about to give him a lecture he deserves. ‘Cause it’s not nice to let your friends mourn you for two weeks and then suddenly pop in with “Hey, I’m still kicking! April Fool’s.”
Well, Leonard has accused a great many people of being fools, but Uhura isn’t one of them. He owes her (and a Hell of a lot of other people) an explanation, but he wants to protect them all.
“Uhura,” he begins, “I’m sorry. Truly. Just plain sorry. You’ll have to forgive me, as best you can, but I did what I did because there was not much choice. If I could have spared you the pain without risking what’s at stake, I would have.”
Uhura reaches for his hand, surprising him. “I know that, Len. You’re not the type of man to do this without just cause. What I really want to know is… are you okay?”
If her kindness brings tears to his eyes, he doesn’t let them fall.
“I’ve been better,” he tries to joke but her eyes say I’m sorry.
“Is it true, then? All those people were killed on purpose?”
“Yes.” It’s a harsh word in his mouth. “My escape was pure luck, Uhura.”
It’s then that McCoy remembers Joanna sitting next to him, quiet as a mouse. He takes her hand, kisses the top. “What’s going on is too dangerous for either of you to get involved in.” Before Joanna can protest, he shushes her. “It is dangerous. And I’m still your father, Jo, and I’m telling you that I won’t let you get in the middle of this. I have a friend who will be waiting at the shuttle terminal for you tomorrow, to take you off planet.”
“Daddy, I’m not leaving you.”
“Yes, you are, even if I have to tell Scotty to beam you from this couch straight onto that shuttle.”
Uhura cuts in with “Joanna, you need to listen to your father. It’s better if you go.”
McCoy raises an eyebrow at Uhura, quirks his mouth with thank you.
Joanna scowls at them in equal parts, but she gives in after Leonard vows to sleep with one eye open and Uhura promises to watch his back. (He’s in good hands, Joanna; we want McCoy to live long enough to see his great-grandchildren.)
That night, McCoy stays over. He lies down on the guest bed, grimacing when Jo’s back is turned, and lets her curl up around him. Just like when she was a little girl, he speaks softly against her hair until she drifts into sleep. Some hours later, he slips out of bed without waking her and finds Uhura in her kitchen with a mug of coffee.
“She needs to be at the terminal at 08:15, 43rd docking station. Tell the man you have a passenger for Charon’s transport.” McCoy hands her a slip. “When he asks for her pass, give him this.”
“Who’s Charon, Len?”
“A man whose life I saved. So he owes me, and being the kind of man he is,” McCoy pauses, “he’ll be happy to be rid of the debt.”
McCoy hands her one other package. “When Scotty comes back, open this and play it. It should answer all of your questions.” Uhura turns the package over in her hands quizzically. McCoy warns her, “Only when Mr. Scott is in the room, do you understand?”
“Leonard,” she asks, “what’s going on?”
He looks very old, very sad in that moment. “Something inhuman, Uhura. Very cold and inhuman.” With those words, he puts on his dark jacket and departs into the pre-dawn night.