By the time Leonard McCoy arrived at the Enterprises shuttlebay, the science staff replacements were already disembarking from their shuttlecraft. The medical officer quickly joined Captain Kirk and Science Officer Spock.
"Nice of you to finally join us, Bones. I was beginning to wonder if my chief medical officer was coming," Kirk remarked.
"Sorry, Jim. I had an emergency in Sickbay," McCoy apologized, glancing at the new crew members.
One of the officers was having a great deal of difficulty gathering up her belongings. The doctor went over to help the young woman. "Excuse me, Lieutenant, but it looks like you could use some help."
The lieutenant pushed back long, auburn hair from her shoulders and looked up. "Oh. Thank you, sir. I-I guess...I do," she replied slowly, staring mesmerized into his sparkling blue eyes.
McCoy bent down to pick up one of the officers bags, but the shrill blast of the intercom stopped him. "Doctor McCoy, report to Sickbay immediately. Medical emergency. Repeat, medical emergency."
"Damn," the medical officer muttered under his breath.
"Thats all right, Doctor McCoy," Kirk said as he joined them. "I believe, as Captain of this vessel, I am more than qualified to assist the lieutenant."
McCoy looked at the captain and noted the glint in the commanding officers eyes. The doctor had seen that look many times before. Obviously, Kirk was attracted to the pretty science officer and wanted to impress her. Although Kirks interest was most likely a mere flirtation, McCoy knew from experience that once the captain turned on the charm, the object of it was unlikely to notice any other man on boardat least for several months.
"Sure. I guess that would be okay," the doctor said, then turned to leave. "Good luck, Lieutenant," he mumbled as he walked out the door.
"Thank you, sir," she called out softly after him, wishing fervently that he could stay.
"Lieutenant?" the captain asked as the young woman continued to stare after McCoy. "Lieutenant, are you ready to go to your quarters?"
"Sorry, Captain Kirk." Her cheeks reddened with embarrassment. "Im ready." Picking up a small tote bag, she followed him out.
After her hectic arrival aboard the starship early that morning, Lieutenant Malone was trying to organize her botany lab. Arms full of research reports, she was hurrying down the corridor when she ran head-on into the chief medical officer.
The disks went flying from her hands and scattered across the passageway along with McCoys compuclipboard. Mouth agape in shock, Malone stared unmoving at the doctor.
"Are you hurt?" McCoy asked quickly.
The lieutenant shook her head and gazed into the doctors eyes. "Gosh, theyre blue," she murmured softly, then recovered to add quickly, "Uh, I mean Im just fine." Malone kneeled down and began to pick up the reports.
McCoy retrieved his compuclipboard, then gathered up some of the multicolored disks. "I dont believe we were properly introduced this morning. "Im Leonard McCoy, and youre...?"
"Im Lieutenant Malone, sir. Im terribly sorry." She looked away, purposely avoiding his eyes. "I didnt mean to bump into you," she added nervously.
"Nonsense. Accidents do happen, especially aboard a starship. Frankly, I cant imagine anyone Id rather run into," McCoy said with a reassuring smile. He heard footsteps stop behind him. Turning his head, the doctor saw Spock watching them.
"Doctor McCoy, you are needed in Sickbay. I will assist Lieutenant Malone."
"I guess I can leave you in Mister Spocks capable hands. Maybe I can come back when youre settled in." Compuclipboard in hand, the doctor hurried down the corridor.
Malone stared after him. "McCoy is quite busy today," she remarked casually, then smiled to herself as she recalled the doctors soft voice and magnetic eyes.
Observing the direction of her gaze, Spock replied, "Yes."
Jennifer Malone carefully examined the plant specimen on the lab table before her. The scientist had been aboard the Enterprise several days and was finally able to begin a research project requested by Commander Spock. She heard the lab doors swish open and looked up to see Leonard McCoy walk in. Quickly drawing in her breath, she stared nervously back down at the plant.
The chief medical officer was leisurely walking around the room, inspecting the intriguing collection of plants. He smiled in Malones direction. "Good morning, Lieutenant."
The science officer pricked her finger with a thorn as she moved the potted specimen closer to her. "Ouch!" The lieutenant put her wounded finger up to her mouth, sucking the tiny droplet of blood that had appeared there.
McCoy came over and gently took hold of her hand. "Let me take a look at that finger, young lady." He carefully examined the injury. "Id better put something on it. Not poisonous, is it?" he asked, indicating the thorn-covered plant.
"Oh, no. Just one of the Rosa deneva variants Im studying for Commander Spock."
The doctor found the lab first aid kit and removed an antiseptic spray. There was a soft hiss as the protective coating was applied. "That should do it. Any problems, just let me know." He let loose of her hand and put the spray back into the kit.
Malone rubbed her hand as she watched McCoy, marveling at the gentle strength of his grasp. "I wish I could stay longer," he was saying, "but I have rounds to make."
"Of course, sir," she replied as she desperately tried to think of something clever to say. Disappointed, she watched him leave, and then went back to her work.
When Jennifer Malone was assigned to the U.S.S. Enterprise, the last thing she expected was to fall in love. But now it had happened, and she was in desperate need of advice. The natural choice was her new friend on board, Head Nurse Christine Chapel.
The lieutenant found Chapel in the mess hall, relaxing over a cup of steaming hot coffee. "Hi, Chris," Malone said, "have you got a minute?"
The nurse looked up and smiled. "Sure, Jen." Her smile faded as she noticed the unhappy look on her friends face. "Gee, you look like you just lost your last friend."
"Not really, but I do have a big problem." Malone looked down at the glass of orange juice in front of her. "Im in love, and I need your advice," she blurted out.
Chapel cleared her throat. "Im not so sure Im the one who should be handing out that kind of advice. My record isnt so hot, if you know what I mean."
The lieutenant knew exactly what her friend meant. Christine Chapels infatuation with the impassive First Officer Spock was certainly no secret aboard the starship, as was his refusal to acknowledge her overtures or her feelings.
Malone hesitated. "Well, if you dont want to help..."
Chapel sighed. "No, dear, I give up. Just who is he?"
The lieutenant lowered her voice. "Your boss," she whispered.
"Doctor McCoy? Youre kidding! Hes almost as unapproachable as Mister Spock. Tonia Barrows was the last one who had any success, and she transferred away a few months later. Good luck!"
"I cant help it, Chris. Every time I see those dreamy blue eyes, I just melt." Malone sighed.
The nurse shook her head. "And you want me to help you?"
The lieutenant blinked her brown eyes. "Please," she pleaded.
"All right, all right. But just remember, I warned you. All he thinks about is his work. The doctor has had one extremely disastrous relationship. From what little I know, it was a very brutal divorce, very painful for him, especially since it separated him from his daughter. Hes bound to be a bit reluctant to get involved."
"I know all that. Just help me think of a way to get his attention."
Chapel thought for a minute. "Well, I can give you his schedule, not that he keeps to it all that much. Hes always on call, but itll give you a fighting chance. Will that help?"
"At least I can probably be in the right place, at the right time," Malone said, her hopes flaring.
"Hell be here for lunch at exactly 1300 hours, and I just might have an idea," promised the nurse. She lowered her voice to a whisper, and the two friends began to make plans.
When Leonard McCoy arrived in the mess at precisely 1300 hours, Nurse Chapel and the lieutenant were anxiously waiting. The two women had purposely chosen a table across the room from Captain Kirk and Mister Spock, knowing that the doctor would join his two friends.
The first officer was leisurely eating a large green salad, and the captain was reviewing a report. Laying the viewcorder aside, Kirk got up and went to the automatic food dispenser. The women watched as he carefully coded in his selection, waited, then removed the tray of hot food. As he started back across the room, he caught sight of the two women and stopped to smile and nod a greeting, then proceeded back to his own table.
Kirks interest in the two female officers had not gone unnoticed by McCoy. When the captain returned, the C.M.O. was talking with Spock, but paused to look disapprovingly at the captains tray. "Jim, have you forgotten those five extra pounds that youve been carrying around?"
"How can I forget, Doctor, when you keep reminding me?" the captain grumbled.
The medical officer nodded. "Thats what they pay me for," he quipped. "Now, Spock there is setting an excellent examplea nice green salad."
"Thats fine for a vegetarian, but I need something more substantial," Kirk replied.
The Vulcan raised a single indignant eyebrow. "Im afraid I must agree with Doctor McCoy in this particular instance."
"Ganging up on me, eh? All right, tomorrow Ill diet. Today, Im going to enjoy myself." He looked at McCoys empty tray. "What about you? Arent you having your usual fried chicken?" accused the captain.
"But I dont need to diet," the doctor bragged, indicating his trim waist. Laughing, he headed for the food dispenser.
Across the room, Jennifer Malone was biting her lip to hold back a nervous giggle. Chapel reached over and tapped her arm. "Dont you dare," she cautioned. "Youre going to give it away."
"Are you sure Mister Scott took care of it?" Malone choked out. "What if something goes wrong?"
"You can depend on him. He knows every inch of this ship and how it operates. I can hardly wait for Leonards reaction," Chapel said as she stared at McCoy programming the processor.
While the women watched, the doctors back stiffened. He slowly walked back to join his friends. McCoy hesitated, then slammed his tray down onto the table. Removing a single red rose from it, he tossed the flower onto Kirks plate of food.
"I believe you forgot your dessert, Captain," the medical officer said tartly. Jim, he thought, has evidently made another conquest.
Shocked, the captain looked up with a look of surprise on his face. "Whats the matter with you, Bones?"
"Read the card," McCoy replied.
"From your secret admirer," Kirk read. "And thats supposed to be for me?"
"You were the last one to use the processor, werent you?" McCoy glanced over toward the table occupied by Chapel and Malone and frowned. "Cant you go even one hour without flirting, Jim?"
"Now just one minute," began the captain.
"Forget it," the doctor said in disgust. He turned to leave.
"Arent you going to eat lunch?" Kirk called after him.
"I just lost my appetite," growled McCoy over his shoulder as the corridor door swished shut after him. Spock and the captain exchanged puzzled looks and slowly resumed their meal.
On the other side of the room, Lieutenant Malone sat with her hands over her face. "Oh, no," she breathed.
Chapel reached out and patted her friend reassuringly on the arm. "Dont worry, Jen. Just a little misunderstanding. I think we can straighten it out."
It was late in the afternoon before McCoy finally finished making his rounds. He wearily headed to the quiet sanctuary of his office. The doors opened with a sharp hiss, and the chief medical officer drew in his breath. Several large containers of roses had been placed strategically around the room.
The doctor slowly crossed the room to his desk and looked down. A single red rose was lying on his compuclipboard. He picked up the flower and found a note underneath it. "To the object of my affection, J," he read out loud.
McCoy read the message twice and then began to fume. He immediately remembered the incident in the mess with the rose and the captains pretense of innocence. "J? Damn!" If this is Jims idea of a joke to get back at me for catching him flirting, it certainly isnt funny, he thought. l dont have time for this nonsense!
Angrily gathering up the flowers, he stormed out of the office and nearly collided with Nurse Chapel in the corridor. "Sorry, Christine," he apologized and moved quickly aside.
"Oh, what beautiful flowers. Who are they from?" she asked innocently.
"The captain," the doctor muttered.
Dumbfounded, the nurse watched him stomp down the passageway. "Doctor, wait!"
By the time McCoy reached the captains quarters, his anger had reached the breaking point. He took his fist and slammed it against the door buzzer.
"Come," Kirk called.
The doctor rushed inside, walked directly to the captains desk, then dumped the flowers into the middle of it. "Thanks, but no thanks," McCoy said curtly.
"Whats this supposed to mean?" the captain asked in bewilderment.
"Im a doctor, not a florist!" McCoy shouted, then noticed Spock was also in the room. The doctor felt his face began to redden with embarrassment. "Well, read the card," he mumbled.
Kirk picked up the note and read it out loud. "To the object of my affection, J. So?" he asked.
"So...the J stands for Jim."
"What makes you think that?" the captain asked, noting the angry look on his friends face.
"Youre obviously making fun of me, Captain, and I dont like it. Just what are these supposed to be?" McCoy asked as he indicated the crumpled roses.
Spock reached down and picked up one of the flowers. "These are from the Rosa genus, Doctor," stated the Vulcan.
"Damn it, I dont need a botany lesson, Spock! I know theyre roses!" McCoy fumed.
"Well, theyre not from me, Bones," Kirk assured him. "Somewhere aboard this ship, there must be a lady with the initial J that finds you most appealing."
"Fascinating," remarked Spock. "One must question her taste in"
"Poppycock!" the doctor retorted. "I still think theyre from you, Jim, and I still dont like it," he added with an edge of stubbornness.
The captain was about to argue the point, but decided it would be futile. He silently watched his friend turn and stalk out of the cabin.
Spock took the card from Kirks hand and began to analyze it. "Both of the messages were written by the same person, Captain. If the doctor was thinking rationally, he would realize they were not penned by you. The writing is somewhat neat and precise," the Vulcan remarked. "Probably a Terran female, of course."
Kirk wasnt sure if the first officer was insulting him or merely making an observation. Deciding it was best to ignore the first possibility, he cleared his throat. "I guess its up to us to find out just who this J is and prove my innocence."
After her encounter with the irate doctor, Chapel went immediately to Jennifer Malones cabin. She knew her news would be upsetting to her friend, but the lieutenant had to be told as soon as possible.
"Im afraid I have bad news, Jen," the nurse began.
"What now?" Malone asked and braced herself for the worst.
"Doctor McCoy thinks the roses are from Captain Kirk," Chapel answered.
"The captain?! Why on Earth would he think that?"
"I was outside his office after he found the flowers and note. He told me they were from Kirk. I guess you should have signed your whole name, Jen. Then he would have known for sure."
"Thats it, Chris. I give up." Malone paced back and forth, nervously wringing her hands.
"But you cant do that. Not now."
"Yes, I can," the young woman said with determination. "Hes mad, and things are only getting worse. If he does ever find out the truth, hell probably hate me," Malone said unhappily. "I guess I was doomed from the start."
The nurse could tell her friend was in no mood to persuade, so she let the subject drop.
Kirk was sitting in his command chair of the bridge, trying to remember all the female personnel with first names starting with the letter J when Spock came on duty.
The science officer came to stand next to the commanding officer. "Captain, I have scanned the ships computer records." He lowered his voice. "There are currently 143 female ship personnel, and I have narrowed that figure to only those women with first names beginning with the letter J."
Kirk drummed the arm of the chair. "Just how many are there, Spock?"
"Interesting how common the initial J is," the Vulcan mused. "There are nineteen possibilities. However, if we delete the names of the married personnel, the revised total is only fifteen."
"Fifteen! How are we going to find her?" Kirk asked in desperation.
"I believe I know who she is."
"Her name is Lieutenant Jennifer Malone."
"Malone?" the captain asked. "Who is she?"
"Her post is in the science division, botany to be exact," reported the Vulcan.
"Of course, the roses."
"The lieutenant was also in the mess at the time of the doctors unfortunate encounter with the food dispenser," commented Spock.
"That could have been a coincidence."
"As could the position in the botany department. However, there is one conclusive point."
"Which is?" Kirk asked.
"The handwriting on the notes exactly matches that of the lieutenants on a number of research documents on record."
Kirk sighed. "Why didnt you tell me that in the first place?"
The Vulcans eyebrow rose, but he made no verbal reply.
Kirk thought for a second, then slowly spoke, "Now we know who the culprit is, but how do we convince Bones?"
"Perhaps a neutral party could be engaged. The lieutenant is a friend of Nurse Chapel. The nurse could inform McCoy," suggested Spock.
"Not inform. I think I have a better idea, but Ill need your help. Tomorrow morning Ill talk with Chapel, and youll keep McCoy occupied," the captain said, then smiled as he began to devise a plan.
Early the next morning, Kirk and Spock went to Sickbay. The first officer went directly to the doctors office. He found the chief medical officer sitting at his desk reading a medical journal.
"Youre up bright and early, Mister Spock," McCoy remarked casually.
"Indeed. I was hoping to catch you before you made your morning rounds."
"What can I do for you? You look healthy enough. Have a hangnail?" joked the doctor.
"I do not require any of your unique medical practices. I have come for your report."
"Report? What report?" McCoy asked.
"The staff report that was due three weeks ago."
"Oh, that report. You know I never have those done on time, Spock. Just go back to your science station, and Ill get it to you." The medical officer looked back down at the journal pages. "Eventually," he added under his breath.
The Vulcan stood unmoving, his hands locked behind his back and stared down at the doctor. "I will leave when the report is completed."
McCoy scowled up at him. "Damn it! All right, its nearly finished anyway." He flipped on his computer terminal and adjusted the screen.
"Doctor McCoy," the science officer began. "I have been thinking about your dilemma."
The CMO looked up from the data on the screen. "Dilemma? What dilemma?"
"Your secret admirer. I believe you should ascertain her identity."
"I dont believe what Im hearing. I thought you didnt deal in emotions, Mister Spock. Youre the last one that I would ever expect to be spouting advice to the lovelorn," retorted McCoy.
"On the contrary, my advice does not involve emotions. I would think, as a typical Human, you would seek her out of curiosity."
"Well, this typical Human misdiagnosed you earlier. You are sick, and the ailment is called meddling," the doctor said sourly. He handed the first officer the finished report disk. "Dont worry, though. It should clear up the minute you leave my office."
The Vulcan nodded stiffly and accepted the disk.
While Spock was busy distracting McCoy, the captain went to talk with the head nurse. He found Chapel in the patient ward organizing the doctors schedule.
"Ill come right to the point, Nurse Chapel. You and I both know who has been sending flowers to Doctor McCoy."
The nurse looked around the room uncomfortably. "I really dont think I should be discussing this, sir."
"Im sorry, but I want this resolved today. McCoy has somehow gotten the ridiculous idea that Im playing an elaborate practical joke on him. Its time Lieutenant Malone came forward."
"Im afraid she doesnt want to do that, Captain. Shes convinced that it would only make things worse."
"Then Im afraid well just have to take matters into our own hands," decided Kirk. "Can I count on your cooperation?"
"I dont want Jennifer to get hurt," the nurse said.
"Thats just what I want to prevent. I think its time we got these two together," he said smiling. "I have an idea."
Although McCoy would never have admitted it openly, by the time he left Sickbay that evening, his curiosity was aroused. He mentally began to make a list of the women aboard the starship with the first initial J. It was about that time Yeoman Janice Rand passed him in the hallway. The doctor nodded nervously in her direction and hurried to his quarters.
He had just walked through the door, when the room intercom buzzed. Reaching out, he pressed the required button. "McCoy."
"Spock here, Doctor. There will be a meeting of the science department staff heads at 1900 hours in Conference Room One."
"But thats in ten minutes!" exclaimed McCoy.
"Affirmative. I am also requesting that the staff come in dress uniform," responded the science officer.
"Dress uniform? Is this some kind-some kind of joke?" the CMO sputtered.
"On the contrary, Doctor, there is no levity involved. Please report promptly. Spock out."
"Damn," the doctor uttered under his breath. He quickly got his uniform out and started to change. The Vulcan, McCoy decided, must be getting revenge for my reluctance in finishing that report on time.
After hurriedly dressing in a record-breaking four minutes, McCoy took one last look in the mirror and smoothed his jacket. Tugging at the snug collar, the medical officer left his cabin and headed to the unexpected meeting.
Even though he had rushed, McCoy knew that he was several minutes late. Hurrying into the conference room, he nearly fell as he tripped over a chair. The room was dimly lit, and the large conference room table had been removed. In its place were a small table and two chairs.
"What the devil?!" he exclaimed.
Astonished, he stared at the table. It had a lace covered table cloth and was set with old silver, crystal, a single red rose, and two flickering candles. A bottle of brandy was waiting. The doctor jumped when the hall doors swished loudly open, and a young woman rushed inside.
"Am I late?" she asked anxiously, smoothing back a lock of auburn hair. Where is everybody?"
McCoy stared at her a moment, perplexed, then slowly smiled to himself as he began to form a mental picture of Kirk and Spock as cupids. "I believe, my dear, that you and I are the only ones coming. Care for a seat?" He motioned to one of the chairs and graciously seated her.
Lieutenant Malone blushed. "I see. This is embarrassing, Doctor McCoy."
"Under the circumstances, I hardly think we need to be formal. Please call me Leonard," the doctor said as he took a seat across the table from her.
"Leonard then, sir," she said as she nervously twisted a strand of hair.
McCoy smiled at her sudden shyness. "I assume the lovely flowers were from you." He paused. "And just what does the J stand for?"
"Jennifer. Jennifer Malone." She looked hesitantly into his eyes. "I hope youre not still mad."
He laughed and poured brandy into her glass, then filled his own. "Mad? No, just the opposite. Im very flattered." He picked up his glass. "A toast to nosy friends."
The lieutenant tapped her glass against his. "To friends." Malone looked down, her long eyelashes fluttered against her cheeks, then she looked up again, into the deep blue of his eyes.
Music began to play softly over the intercom. McCoy rose and held out his hand. "May I have this dance?"
Jennifer Malone smiled and went to him. The doctor gently put his arm around her and drew her close. Together, they began to move lightly to the music.
Malone began to hum. Leonard McCoy stopped and gazed into her soft brown eyes. "Thats one of my favorite songs, Someone Wholl Watch Over Me, he whispered.
The lieutenant reached up and softly touched his cheek. Overcome with the moment, the doctor kissed her gently.
Jennifer Malone smiled to herself. Now if we could only get Chris and Mister Spock together, she mused.
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