Strength of Character

Title: Strength of Character
Author: charliesdragon
Betas: weaselett & monica_catch22
Artist: davincis-girl
Fandom: Star Trek 2009 (reboot ‘verse)
Genre: pre-romance/sci-fi
Characters/Pairings: pre-relationship Kirk/McCoy, Spock, Chapel, Uhura, Scotty, OCs – see here for a full cast list
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 35,952
Warnings: genderbent character; v. v. mild almost non-con; possible abuse of advanced tech.
Summary: During an evacuation there’s a transporter “malfunction” and a crew member re-materializes a little wrong. This story is about how that little change caused (big) problems, and how Dr. McCoy and the Enterprise crew dealt with them.


Original Author’s Notes


Forty three hours ago

“Captain, there’s a distress call emanating from a planet in the Vectus system, audio frequencies only. It’s from a new Federation research facility,” Lieutenant Uhura said calmly as she turned to look at the Captain.

“Put it through the speakers,” Jim replied immediately.

“This is Doctor Lockley of the Federation Research Facility on Vectus Prime. We require immediate assistance to evacuate all base personnel. We have a team stuck in a cave in, as well as a severely ill patient and multiple injured personnel. I repeat, assistance required for evacuation, medical team essential.”

Uhura turned the speakers off as the message looped, repeating what they had already heard.

“It would seem to be a genuine signal, Captain. I have verified the authentication codes embedded in the transmission.” Spock said, turning to face the captain, “Will we be assisting them, Captain?”

“Of course we will Spock.” Kirk replied with a slight smile and a fire in his eyes.

It had been a while since they’d had an actual honest-to-god interesting mission to do; not that research facilities were Jim Kirk’s idea of fun; but a mission needing him to do more than put together an away team, beam down, watch over the team as a few samples were taken and beam back up to the Enterprise, had him rapidly filling with excitement.

He practically bounced out of his chair (though, if you called him on the bouncing, he’d deny it ’til he was red in the face and then some), Jim stepped forward, stopping at the helm console; his brain already busy working out how many teams would be needed and who to put on which one; as he turned to face the bridge crew.

“Sulu, lay in a course for Vectus Prime, warp four. Uhura, keep an ear on that distress call, if it changes even minutely, let me know…and send a transmission to Starfleet telling them we’re responding to a distress call and that we’ll continue with our previous mission as soon as everyone’s been rescued. Spock, find me all the information we have on Vectus Prime and the research facility, I want to know what we should expect to find when we get there,” Jim ordered, focusing on each person in turn as he spoke.

“Course is laid in Captain. We should arrive in the Vectus system in forty three hours. Going to warp four, now,” Sulu said.

Jim caught Sulus’ eyes and nodded in acknowledgement, his eyes scanning the rest of the bridge watching as his orders were carried out quickly and efficiently. He nodded slightly to himself before moving towards the door of the turbo lift.

“I’m going to inform Doctor McCoy of the situation. Mr. Spock, you have the con.”

-*-*-

“So there’s no knowing what this sick researcher has?” Dr. McCoy asked from his seat behind the desk in his office. Jim had just finished informing him about the distress call and that they were en route to answer it.

“Nope. Though the message did say ‘very ill’, and then there’s the ‘multiple injured personnel’ as well. Looks like you’ll have your hands full for once, Bones,” Jim teased, a wide grin on his face.

Seeing Jim so happy about a darned rescue mission, Bones grimaced and sank further into his chair, remembering all the other times Jim had looked this way before an away mission; those tended to be the ones that he had to patch his best friend and Captain up from, more often than not.

“Damn it. I’ll need you to find out at least an approximate number before any of my staff beam down there, need to make sure I send the right people. I guess this means I’m going to have to go down as well,” scowled Bones, unhappy with the twin prospects of an away mission and having to use the transporters. As he re-filled their glasses with the bourbon Jim had given Bones in payment for losing the last poker game, he muttered to himself about the transporters; at least they were quicker than a shuttlecraft, even if they were even more unnatural.

“Everyone’s going in shuttles Bones. Didn’t you get the memo from Scotty about the repairs and upgrades he’s been doing on the transporters since that comet trail we were taking samples from?

“He insists that whatever radiation it gave off affected the transporters so he’s recalibrating them…or something like that. And why the heck are you going down? Shouldn’t you be organising the sickbay and all that sort’ve stuff?” Jim enquired, face twisted in slight confusion.

“This sick researcher could have anything, a bad case of Mendakan Pox, which you know is treatable and only mildly infectious if you’re not vaccinated. Or he or she or whatever could have the Telurian plague which is completely incurable and so contagious that over seventy percent of the Enterprise would be dead or at deaths door within eighteen hours. I won’t know what the researcher has until I can do a full examination, and I can’t do that from all the way up here!” Bones expounded to a now slightly flustered Jim.

“So you’re going down to make sure Enterprise has the capabilities to treat this person? Ok, you can have the fun this time then Bones, just make sure to come back in one piece, I can’t patch you up no matter what level of genius people say I am.” Jim said with a grin. After a couple more minutes talking about the upcoming recue mission, Jim left for his Ready Room and the seemingly never ending amount of paperwork.

-*-*- ~ ~ ~ -*-*- ~ ~ ~ -*-*-

Now

“We have arrived at the Vectus system, preparing to drop out of warp.” Sulu announced.

As the Enterprise dropped out of warp, the view on the main screen changed from the stretched-out stars of warp travel to the black of space which was this time broken up by the double suns of the Vectus system and Vectus Prime and II. It was really rather beautiful, but no one on the bridge took the time to acknowledge that as they had an evacuation to assist.

“Time to arrival at Vectus Prime, thirty minutes,” came Sulu’s voice from the helm.

Acknowledging the report with a quick “understood”, Jim straightened in his chair from the slouch he’d slipped into and addressed his communications officer.

“Uhura, open a channel with the Research Facility, let’s see if anyone’s home,” Jim said.

“Channel open, audio and visual, hailing them on standard Starfleet frequencies, sir.”

“Federation Research Facility, this is Captain Kirk of the USS Enterprise. We picked up your distress signal and are thirty minutes out from Vectus Prime. What can we do to help?” Jim said, looking every inch a Federation Captain.

Moments later, a worried and harried human male face appeared on the forward screen, fuzzing in and out of focus, for the Captain and bridge crew to see. A few seconds later his voice came through the speakers.

“I am Doctor Marcus Lockley, Head of the Federation Research Facility here on Vectus Prime. We require your assistance in evacuating everyone and as much of our equipment from here as possible.”

“That’s what we’re here for Doctor. If you don’t mind me asking, why do you need to evacuate all of your personnel?” As the Captain spoke he stood and took a couple of steps forward from the Captains’ chair so he could be seen clearly.

“Vectus Prime is nowhere near as stable as was initially believed. It would appear that the planet’s volcanoes were in an especially dormant phase when the initial exploration took place and we are now experiencing the consequences. In a few days the planet will no longer to be able to support human life due to the amount of ash we predict will be thrown into the atmosphere. We’ve been lucky so far, the volcano closest to our base is only just becoming active, but our readings suggest that we have less than 24 hours before it erupts and this site is destroyed.” replied Dr. Lockley, his face twisting in anger as he thought about how little time they had to execute a full scale evacuation, smoothing back over as soon as he realised he’d lost his professionalism in front of their rescuers.

“I’m sending you all the details on personnel numbers and the types of equipment we have down here. We’ve managed to stabilise the most injured of our people, but with so many people involved in getting everything ready to evacuate, a sedated and quarantined Scientist and the death of our CMO and two nurses in an earthquake a few hours back, we’re in sore need of a medical team or two down here before we can pack up our Medical Centre,” continued Dr. Lockley. “Will that be possible?”

“Personnel and equipment data received, Captain,” Spock said from his position at the Science station on Jim’s right.

“I’m sure it will be Doctor,” Jim said calmly, smiling reassuringly at the still out of synch video feed, “we’ll be in orbit of Vectus Prime in twenty minutes and should have teams on their way to you shortly after that.”

“Thank you Captain Kirk, your aid is most appreciated. If you don’t mind, I’ll go and tell the Department Heads that evacuation will be able to go ahead, now.” Dr. Lockley said, his body relaxing slightly in an unconscious response to Jim’s calm and professional attitude.

“Of course not Doctor. Kirk out.” With that, all communications between Enterprise and Vectus Prime were cut.

“Chekov, alert the designated rescue teams to prepare to evacuate Vectus Prime.” Jim said, sitting back down on his chair.

“Yes Keptin,” came the young Ensign’s reply.

“Attention designated rescue teams. We will be arriving at Vectus Prime in eighteen minutes. Please report to your designated shuttlecraft for pre-flight checks. That is all. Chekov out.” The young Ensigns’ accented voice emanated from every speaker onboard the Enterprise, sounding as if he was in the room with you instead of booming out like a foghorn.

-*-*-

With the Research Facility on Vectus Prime being the largest one installed since the Narada Incident (as it was now being called) seven shuttlecraft carrying purely evacuation away teams and two carrying medical teams were sent down to the planet. More were standing ready to deploy if it was decided that they were needed.

Five of the non-medical shuttlecraft were filled with evacuating scientists almost as soon as they had touched down and opened their doors; the other two were similarly being rapidly filled with supposedly irreplaceable equipment that the Department Heads had deemed worthy of taking with them, people squashing their selves in around the equipment as well.

The medical shuttlecrafts on the other hand, were left well alone as soon as their pilots re-directed the evacuees to the other shuttlecraft and word spread through the throngs of people.

Whilst the evacuation teams continued to pack people and equipment into their shuttlecraft like so much cargo, the two medical teams quickly made their way to the Medical Centre, located just off to the east of the main buildings. When they reached the main triage, Dr. McCoy asked the nearest nurse for the quarantine area and then he and the rest of his team made their way over, one of the nurses staying in triage as a go between for the two teams.

“You’ll find the haz mat suits to the right of the door to quarantine. There should still be enough for all of your team,” the nurse called out to Dr. McCoy as he took a step down the corridor to quarantine.

“Thanks,” came McCoy’s curt reply before striding off down the short corridor and taking the suit passed to him by Nurse Cruver.

Quarantine procedures in effect. Please check suits before continuing, came the computer’s voice in the de-pressurised ante-chamber to the quarantine room between the team and their as yet undiagnosed patient.

Everyone quickly double checked the person on their right’s suit before McCoy set about opening the quarantined room. They were hit with, if it’s at all possible, the whitest room that they had ever been in, the only sound being the steady in-out of the patients breathing and the quiet and as yet, unobtrusive beep-beep of the heart monitor.

“Right people, we have a patient to diagnose, start on medication if at all possible and get out of here and back to the shuttle and barely any time at all. You all know what you’re to do, get to it!” Came the oh-so rousing pep talk from McCoy.

He had barely finished speaking when the junior Doctor and Nurse with him hurried over to where their respective jobs could be done best, Nurse Cruver noting down both the baseline and current states of the patient – one Research Fellow Lisa Portman – and Dr. Harris began to set out all of the equipment and medication that they’d brought with them.

McCoy got out his tricorder and began scanning her body from top to toe. Upon finding she had nothing immediately identifiable as deathly, he injected her with drug to wake her from her sedated state. Deeper scans and a quick blood analysis let him and his team narrow down her illness.

As fate would have it, Ms. Portman’s illness was one of those McCoy had thrown out at Jim earlier. Luckily it wasn’t the Telurian Plague though; McCoy shuddered at the thought of having to treat anyone with that at all, but especially in an evacuation situation.

Mendakan Pox, nothing too serious thankfully. Sometimes the universe seems like it might actually like me Bones thought to himself.

As he ran his fingertips over the vials of medication that they’d brought with down from the Enterprise, searching for the correct one to treat Mendakan Pox, his communicator beeped and continued to do so when he didn’t immediately respond.

“Harris, treat for Mendakan Pox, I need to take this call,” with that McCoy left took a couple of steps away from the biobed where Ms. Portman was waking up and being treated.

“Ms. Portman, I’m Doctor Harris from the U.S.S. Enterprise, we’re evacuating the whole Research Facility. You’ve been diagnosed with Mendakan Pox, nothing too severe at all. The first treatment is already loaded in this hypospray, will you consent to let me treat you?” Asked Dr. Harris, eyebrows drawn in concentration and body hunched over slightly in order to catch even the slightest whisper of sound from the prostrate woman beneath him.

“Go ‘head,” she said in a slightly hoarse voice from not speaking in a while.

As soon as he had heard her give him permission to treat her, Dr. Harris gently pressed the hypospray to her neck and began rattling off potential side effects from the treatment but assured her that it was unlikely that she’d get anything other than a little dizziness or a mild headache as she was in good health other than having the ‘Pox.

Just as Ms. Portman had finished the small cup of water Nurse Cruver had given her McCoy came back over, brow furrowed in annoyance and shoulders set in determination. Looking at his staff he addressed them in his normal gruff clipped manner.

“We need to pack up immediately. Cruver I need you to carry the equipment back – if Espanoza’s still in triage give her half and drag her with us. Harris, you and I will be assisting Ms. Portman back to the shuttlecraft.”

When he turned to look Ms. Portman in the face, he was mildly shocked to see the determination in her face and that she was moving to stand on her own.

“Ms. Portman, Doctor Harris and myself will assist you to our shuttlecraft, you couldn’t make it on your own, so don’t try to.” As he spoke Dr. Harris got her sitting up and moved to her right, leaning her against his shoulder, waiting to take his half of her weight and get out of there.

-*-*-

“Spock to shuttlecraft seven.” The Science Officers’ voice came through the shuttles’ internal speakers clearly, startling the pilot from her quiet reverie.

“Lieutenant Gayna here, Sir,” replied the pilot, immediately ready for action.

“Our latest scans of the planet show that the volcano nearest to your position is going to erupt much sooner than was previously estimated. It would appear that it will now erupt within the next seventy minutes rather than one hundred and eighty minutes as was originally predicted.” Hearing that, Lieutenant Gayna gulped, eyes widening in shock. “You should prepare to leave at any given moment. It should also be noted that the transporter will be up and running in approximately forty five minutes, if it becomes necessary for it to be utilised.”

“Received and understood, Sir. Have the away teams and other shuttles been told yet?” She asked.

“Affirmative. Do not linger any longer than is necessary Lieutenant. Spock out.”

With that, the communicator turned off and Lieutenant Gayna went about getting the shuttlecraft primed and ready for immediate take off, but not rushing as she knew from personal experience, that mistakes were much more likely to occur then, and the last thing they needed was the shuttlecraft transporting the CMO of the Enterprise to crash or get caught in the volcanoes’ pyroclastic flow.

-*-*-

If they hadn’t been supporting a now barely-conscious patient and carrying multiple packs filled with medical equipment, McCoy’s team (Dr. Harris, Nurses Cruver and Espanoza, and two security personnel they had picked up on their way out and himself) would have been running flat out for their shuttlecraft. As it was their bodies felt as if they were, but that was more due to the ash that was now raining down on them, the wind direction having changed since there arrival. Damn wind direction changes.

What were the initial explorers thinking, marking this planet as safe for human habitation? McCoy thought to himself and not for the first or last time.

Despite travelling in the opposite direction to the volcano, McCoy could swear that the stench of the sulphur-like gases was getting stronger instead of fading away. As they crested a small natural outcropping of rock he could see the shuttlecraft on the top of the next outcrop and people moving around outside it.

Who the heck’s out there? Only person there should be our pilot. Thought McCoy to himself, not bothering to waste precious breath on voicing it. Before he could think about it anymore, his communicator went off.

“Lieutenant Gayna to Doctor McCoy.”

“McCoy here.”

“A science team and a couple of survivors of the last cave in have turned up and are on the shuttlecraft as we’re the last still planetside. There’s not enough space for all of your team. One of you is going to have to beam up to the Enterprise or wait for another shuttle to come back for them, though I don’t recommend waiting, the volcano looks set to go any minute now, Sir.”

Damn it all.

“Understood. I’ll beam back. We’re two-three minutes away so get everyone strapped in Lieutenant. You’ll need to leave as soon as they’re all in, we’ve got a sick woman to treat.”

“Received and understood Doctor. Standing by for your team. Lieutenant Gayna out.”

Barely breaking his stride, McCoy flipped his communicator on again and contacted Scotty.

“Doctor McCoy to the Transporter room.”

“Scotty here Doctor. What can I do for you?”

“As soon as the rest of my team and our patient are in the shuttlecraft, beam me up.”

“If I may ask Doctor, why aren’t you going with them?”

“Got a few unexpected evacuees on the shuttle, and I need to prepare the sickbay for the various injured coming in. Will the transporter be ready then?”

“Of course she will be! Standing by to beam you up Doctor. Scotty out.”

And with that, Scotty fervently hoped he’d caught all of the problems that had occurred with the transporter since they’d flown through a comets trail collecting samples for overzealous researchers back on Earth, a week back, whilst keeping his back to the Captain who was standing at the back of the room by the door, and hoped that the Captain didn’t notice the less-than-confidant expression currently adorning his face.

Two minutes later he saw Dr. McCoy’s life signs separate from the rest of his team and the other’s altitude change, and promptly beamed him up to the Transporter Room.

Upon re-materialisation, McCoy realised something was wrong as Jims’ eyebrows were in his hair and Scotty was stuttering like a corrupt audio file.

Seeing that there was nothing wrong with what he could see of the room, McCoy got curious and turned around in case something had happened behind him. When he moved and nearly fell over from his feet unexpectedly sliding around in his shoes his curiosity turned into confusion. Looking down, McCoy’ eyes widened when he saw his trousers pooling slightly around his feet, his top all baggy around his waist, and his breasts.

His breasts.

BREASTS.

HIS. BREASTS.

Obviously something had happened to him during the transport up to the Enterprise and he was hallucinating. Doctor Leonard McCoy is a man and most certainly does not have breasts. Closing his eyes and willing everything in the hallucination gone, he counted to ten and back down again, breathing deeply as he did so. When he opened his eyes again and slowly looked down, nothing had changed.

Upon noticing that his body was, in fact, now that of a woman’s, and that he had absolutely no idea of how it had happened or, more importantly, how to get his proper body back, Bones’ eyes bulged, his right eyebrow raised itself so far that Jim privately thought it’d go through the Transporter rooms’ ceiling, and his face turned a bright red.

“GODDAMNIT!”

“Now Bones-” Whatever Jim was going to say was cut off by the fierce and slightly manic glare that McCoy levelled at him.

“Not. A. Word.”

Jim mimed zipping his mouth shut and throwing away the key.

McCoy ran his left hand through his hair, calming minutely and completely bewildered as to how he was to act, and he (or should we now be saying she?) took a couple of what were supposed to be deep calming breaths and fixed his gaze on the Engineering Chief.

“Mr. Scott, care to explain this?” McCoy asked in a very quiet, very controlled voice.

“Uh, well, I can only think that the ionised trail of that comet twelve days ago did even more damage to the transporter than I’d originally thought. Hmm…it could have messed with other systems as well, I’d better check them…” Scotty said, trailing off, never quite realising just how annoyed Bones was.

“I think you’d better work out how in the heck this happened to me, or I’d suggest you take care not to wind up in the infirmary anytime soon. I don’t think you’d like it,” McCoy replied.

“I’ll find out what happened, you can bet on that, Doctor,” Scotty said. The lure of the challenge to find out how the gender transformation had occurred had Scotty virtually blind to what was going on around him.

“You see that you do,” McCoy said, eyes narrowed in anger and still fixed on Scotty.

When his top started to slip down his right shoulder and show off more skin than was normally visible, he hiked it up around his neck until it resembled a built in scarf and rolled the now-overly-long sleeves up ’til they were firmly in place at his elbows. Not caring what the others in the room thought of him, he knelt down to take off his too-big shoes and picked them up with his left hand, looking up, lips pressed thin and eyes threatening long and painful check-ups in the near future if anyone so much as whispered within his hearing, he proceeded to stalk out of the Transporter room aiming for his quarters.

Where did I leave my belt? Did I put it in the drawer or at the bottom of the wardrobe? McCoy thought to himself as he walked down the corridor to the turbo lift, completely ignoring everyone that he walked passed.

-*-*-

Back in the Transporter room

“Mr. Scott, make this…malfunction and its fixing your top priority. And assign a team to check the rest of the systems for faults or malfunctions. We can’t have the Enterprise doing this to everyone who needs to use the transporter, can we.” Jim said in perfect Captain mode.

“Aye Captain. I’ll have a team on it before the shift’s over.” Scotty replied, already turning over and dismissing several crewmembers names in his head.

“See that you do. If you haven’t found even a hint of anything by the end of the shift, I’ll assign Mr. Spock to help you.” With that, Jim left the Transporter room and made his way to McCoy’s quarters, determined to give his best friend a show of support, even if McCoy didn’t want it.

-*-*-

As he walked to Bones’ quarters, Jim ran through all of the things he could think of to say to Bones and came up short when he realised that there was just nothing he could say that would make the situation any better or easier. Opting to just wing it as that had worked just as well for him in the past as most well thought out plans had, he stopped at Bones’ door, staring at the chime, unsure if he should just waltz on in like normal or sound it in case he really wasn’t welcome. Very quickly he decided that using the chime would just make Bones think he was treating her like a woman and isn’t that an odd thing to think about your male best friend?! and he really didn’t want to annoy him, her, Bones any more than had already happened.

“Bones, you in here?” Jim asked as he stepped into the room, his voice echoed around the seemingly empty room. He couldn’t see anyone but there was a discarded and rumpled uniform on the end of the bed. Guessing that Bones was in the bathroom, Jim sat on the bed and waited ’til he came out.

“If it wasn’t halfway through our shift I’d say we crack open the bottle of whiskey I know you have stashed here somewhere,” Jim said loudly enough to be heard in the bathroom.

“Dammit Jim, don’t you know when to leave alone?” Bones shouted through the closed door, voice only slightly muffled.

“You know me, I can’t leave anything alone, I’m far too curious for my own good, or so you’ve said dozens of times,” Jim replied, the cocky grin on his face evident in his words.

Bones was looking in the small utilitarian mirror in the bathroom, clothed in the uniform that had somehow got shrunk a little the first time it had been washed, feeling rather glad that he’d kept it and hoped to out wait Jim.

Now if I just had a bra I could just walk out there without worrying about having my chest ache after a few minutes and pretend everything was normal and just ignore the fact that a darned piece of technology screwed me over and I now have the body of a fucking woman.

He sighed and dropped his head between her shoulders, hunching his upper body in on itself a little. With his eyes closed he could pretend that this was all some sort of fucked up prank that Jim had decided to pull to boost crew morale or some shit like that.

Not like I even know how to work out what size I’d need, and there’s no way I’m asking anyone. I wonder if I could do my job from in here, then I wouldn’t have to deal with this mess ’til Scotty fixes it.

As he opened his eyes and stepped back from the sink, and took a proper look at his now-feminine body in the mirror he realised it could all be a lot worse, looks wise any way. At least this body wasn’t ugly. So the hair cut wasn’t exactly the most flattering, but since when had he cared what the hell his hair looked like? So long as it wasn’t in his eyes and in the way, it could be the most hideous style known to man and he wouldn’t bat an eye.

Looking a little more intently he decided that the jaw line was a little strong for a woman to be called beautiful and as a result, made his ears stick out a little too much.

But really, all of that was nothing in comparison to the fact that he was now a woman with no known end point to look forward to.

Before he could get even more lost in his thoughts, Jim’s voice filtered through the closed door.

“Are you ever coming out of there, Bones? They might miss me on the bridge, but I’m staying here ’til I’ve said what I came here to say.”

“And just what would that be, hmm? That I shouldn’t worry about this? That someone will fix it all up and I’ll be back to normal, back to being me again at a click of someone’s fingers? If that’s all you’ve got to say then you can just march yourself right outta my quarters and park yourself on the bridge. I don’t want any of your platitudes Jim.” Bones said, getting more and more angry and upset.

“You really think that I’d try and palm any of my crew off with crap like that? Especially you, Bones? No way. Anyway, what I wanted to say is nothing like that.”

Rapidly becoming unsure of everything, Bones shrugged his shoulders to his reflection and slowly walked over to the door to his room. Whatever Jim had to say couldn’t be worse than anything else that had already happened, could it?

“Glad you decided to join me, Bones,” Jim said jovially as he stepped out of the bathroom, the door swishing shut millimetres behind him. He stared straight at Jim, arms crossed and leaning back on the door as if he couldn’t care less, all in an attempt to hide the fact that he was more scared than he could remember being in a long while.

“Go on then, say what you wanted to say and then go, I’ve got patients to treat and Sickbay to re-organise, and oh yes, lets not forget, I have no dick! These breasts aren’t just a fun stick on accessory Jim, they’re the real deal from what I can tell and my dick being absent just seals it. I’ve been turned into a woman and I don’t have time to deal with what passes for a joke in the brain of James T. Kirk.” Bones bit out much harsher than he had in a while when it was just the two of them.

“Okay, enough of the ‘how much of a pissy bitch can I be’ routine!” Jim snapped out, standing to face Bones and looking down for once to meet her eyes, irritating the newly-female Doctor even more.

Before Bones could speak, Jim interrupted him with a finger on his lips, and with an awkward yet gentle manner that stunned even him stupid, continued speaking.

“Look, you could be the ugliest son-of-a-bitch known to the universe, be covered in fucking slime, hell, you could even have tentacles coming out of everywhere, and I’d still want to be your friend, still want you to be my best friend. I’d still be there, I’d still have your back,” Jim leaned down and rested his forehead against Bones’ gently, then said quietly, “and if you tell anyone I even know the meaning of ‘sensitive’, then I’ll have you thrown out of an airlock.” Jim grinned and took a couple of steps back, his head cocked to his right.

The tiniest of grins flittered across Bones’ lips at Jims’ words, too quick to really register and too small to be really noticeable.

“Are you going to be ok Bones? And don’t try to fob me off, I know you too well, remember.” Jim asked after a few moments of gently awkward silence.

“Honestly? I don’t know. What I do know is that I need to keep busy or I might just go stark raving mad, if I’m not already.” Bones said somewhat shakily, picking imaginary lint off of his uniform trousers (now held up with the black leather belt) in an attempt to feign normalcy.

“I’d better get to Sickbay, Lord only knows what’s going on in there without me. The evacuees are going to need so much paperwork filling in for them and someone really needs to keep an eye on that researcher, Ms. Portman. Guess I’ll have to get myself checked out first though,” Bones said nervously, clearly wanting to get back to a suitably normal situation but not wanting Jim to know just how scared he was.

“You’re going to go out there like that?” Jim asked.

“Like what?” Now Bones was just plain confused. He looked down at his uniform, granted it was a male uniform on a female body, but that couldn’t be helped. The sliding-around-in-the-shoes problem had been fixed by wearing six pairs of really thick socks and the cuffs of both the trousers and tops had been rolled up and were held in place by spare sets of enforced clips.

“It’s pretty obvious you’re not wearing a bra, Bones.”

Of course he’s going to have noticed that, this is Jim Kirk I’m talking to. Bones thought to himself, resigned to having to listen to all sorts of titty-comments from his best friend.

“And I can’t just let you go back on duty without one on. Hear me out before you have a go at me, ok?” Jim said, knowing that Bones would be oh so very liable to let loose with a rant if he didn’t get Bones to listen to him fully first.

Nodding minutely in reply, Bones looked back up at Jim and settled in to listen to whatever it was that Jim felt compelled to say about his lack of a complete set of feminine underwear.

“In case you haven’t noticed, you’re not exactly lacking in the chest department. I’m not saying they’re huge or anything, but you have breasts. If you don’t wear a bra, you’re just going to end up hurting yourself, and I don’t like seeing you in pain, Bones.”

At this, Bones’ eyebrow lifted again, but he managed to resist the urge to comment on the multiple bar fights he’d been dragged into or the extra self defence classes that Jim had given him that left him more black and blue than flesh coloured. Jim continued as if he hadn’t seen the raised eyebrow.

“Also, you’ll distract the crew. Well, the ones who go for women at least. You’ll be all bouncy and…jiggling and it’ll be distracting,” Jim finished, nodding slightly as he spoke.

Shaking his head, Bones frowned at Jim, annoyance filling each and every crease in his forehead.

“Whether you’re right or not about any of that, just where am I meant to have gotten a bra from, Jim? I don’t happen to have any hanging around ‘just in case’ nor is there any left from last night’s one night wonder,” Bones asked, sarcasm filling his words with a sharp heat.

“You could ask someone for help. I know for a fact that Nurse Chapel would help you out, she considers you a professional friend, and Uhura would if you asked politely. There’re probably a few others who’d be discrete enough to help you out if you’d just ask.” Jim fired back.

“So I ask one of them to pick up a bra for me and they just magically happen to know my size?!” Bones said incredulously.

“I know you’re not stupid Bones, so don’t even try to act it. Of course you don’t hope they know your size, you ask someone, I’d suggest someone you trust a lot, to measure you properly and then that person or someone else that you trust gets a couple of bras in that size for you.” Jim said; looking Bones straight in the eyes as he talked about someone Bones trusted a lot.

“Do you trust me, Bones?” Jim asked the nervousness he was feeling mostly masked.

“And you call me stupid,” Bones replied, a small grin tugging at the corners of his mouth.

Taking that to be an affirmative, Jim stepped right into Bones’ personal space and carefully put his hands on her hips making sure that they weren’t so low as to be groping his arse, searching his eyes for something only known to the brain of on James T. Kirk. When he’d found whatever it was he was looking for he slowly slid his hands up Bones’ sides until they’d reached his chest, and gently cupped his breasts, blushing slightly, and held them as if weighing them, fingertips softly stroking the sides of his breasts.

“What in the HECK do you think you’re doing?!” Bones practically screamed out, outraged at his friends’ audacity to quite thoroughly grope him.

“I think they’re a B cup. I’m not entirely sure what the other measurement is, but I’m pretty certain you’re a B,” Jim said whilst stepping back unable to meet Bones’ eyes properly.

Still rather embarrassed about the not-quite groping of his best friends’ breasts, Jim shuffled his feet slightly, smoothing out imaginary creases in his uniform.

“I should probably report back to the bridge, Spock might be getting too comfortable sitting in the Captain’s chair.” For the first time in a long while, Jims’ attempt at humour to diffuse an embarrassing situation failed. At that, he fairly ran out of Bones’ quarters in his sudden haste to get back to the bridge

In spite of the pretty methodical groping from Jim, Bones dismissed Jim’s behaviour as, well, Jim and wondered where he would be able to get a B-cup bra from and who – apart from Jim – he trusted enough to help him out. As he came to the rather depressing realization that other than Jim, he doesn’t really have any good friends either onboard the Enterprise or back on Earth – oh sure he gets on well enough with the Senior Staff and the Medical Staff, but none of them were what he’d call friends – he pushed off from the bathroom door, picked a PADD up from his desk and slowly made his way to the door to the rest of the ship, the feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach growing a little.

-*-*-

Nurse Christine Chapel had of course, been informed of what had happened to Dr. McCoy (the gossip network on board being much quicker than the official communiqués), but hearing and seeing are two very different things. She was reminded of this when confronted with the sight of a woman who could pass for Dr. McCoy’s twin sister in a man’s uniform, striding into Sickbay and aiming straight for the CMOs office.

“Nurse Chapel, my office now. Please.” Bones snapped out a few steps short of her office door, the last part said in a more hesitant tone than the rest of the order.

She followed her boss into the office, curious as to what was going on.

Has Dr. McCoy been taken off of duty? No, M’Benga would have told me he was acting CMO. If he she wanted a status update McCoy’d call M’Benga or possibly Harris in before me.

“Pull up a seat Christine, this isn’t anything bad. I, I find myself in need of your help,” McCoy said, sitting behind the desk as he spoke, face lightly flushed with embarrassment at having to ask for help in what was now clearly a personal matter.

“How can I help you Doctor?” Christine asked, settling into a chair on the patients’ side of the desk. McCoy looked at Christine intently as if measuring her against a pre-formed list of requirements and found her passable, nodding a little as he decided he’d chosen the right person to talk to.

“I’m going to take myself off of active duty, set M’Benga as acting CMO whilst I’m not and get a full physical examination done to make sure the darned Transporter didn’t do something else to me, something not so noticeable. Before I can do that though, I uh need you to help me and umm measuremeforabranadgetoneforme.” The last part was said very quietly and so rushed together that Christine had no chance of understanding what had been said.

“I understood the first thing you said but could you run the last by me again?” Christine requested politely. She leant forward a little and her eyebrows drew together slightly as she attempted to work out just what McCoy had asked her to help with.

Not wanting to repeat the words but knowing that he had to, McCoy sighed and sat straighter in his chair all the while wishing that he could just disappear and sink into it.

“Finding myself as a woman has lead to a few problems with clothing as you can see, and I find myself needing the help of a woman in order to work out just what sizes I now need.” McCoy said, taking a breath before continuing.

“I need you to measure me for a bra and get one for me in the right size. I, I believe that I’m a B, if that helps at all.”

At this both of them blushed, Christine in realisation of just how embarrassing the situation was for her boss, and neither could meet the others eyes for a few moments.

Realising that she needed to take this in her stride and treat it as just another odd situation caused by living on the Federation’s flagship and having ‘the youngest Captain in the history of the Federation’ as her Captain, she stood up, turned her PADD on and walked round the nearest corner of the desk.

“If you could stand up for a minute and lift your arms up and to the side, Doctor, I’ll have this over in a moment,” Christine said in the most professional manner that she was able to drag up.

After a couple of minutes of noting measurements down and double checking them, Christine had what she needed and told Dr. McCoy that he could lower her arms again and sit back down and walked over to the door.

“I shouldn’t be long, half an hour at the most, Doctor,” Christine said, turning back to face McCoy as she opened the door.

Sitting again, PADD already on and glowing, McCoy nodded in acknowledgement, face still flushed with embarrassment.

After what felt like both far too long and barely any time at all, Christine was walking back through the door into the CMOs office with a small pile of black and blue clothes.

“I thought you’d want clothes that fitted you a little better as well as a couple of bras. I also took the liberty of requesting a smaller pair of shoes for you. They’ll be dropped off at your quarters at the end of the shift.” Christine said as she deposited the pile of clothes on the desk in front of McCoy, lifting up the two blue science team tops, she showed the pair of bras that she’d acquired.

“Thank you Christine, thank you,” McCoy said fervently, a relieved smile on his face as he looked over the clothes.

-*-*-

Christine was writing up the notes for the latest evacuee that she’d done the initial triage for (multiple minor cuts and bruises, possibly bruised ribs) when the door to the CMOs office opened and a much better outfitted Dr. McCoy walked out. Christine glanced up as McCoy crossed the room to speak to Dr M’Benga, before returning her attention to her work.

Moving on to the next evacuee she began to run the tricorder over his head and shoulders, noting the low grade concussion, and saw out of the corner of her eye, McCoy sit down on an empty biobed out of the way of the main load of evacuees. Dr. Harris then joined him after a couple of minutes.

Having finished taking the initial scans of this evacuee she moved on to the next, and the one after that, until there were no more waiting for her to get to them. When she’d finished triaging the patients in her section of sickbay she found herself a couple of biobeds away from where Dr. McCoy was being examined. As it was, it appeared that his examination had just ended and Christine overheard the last part of the conversation between the two of them.

“If I hadn’t known you were born a man, I’d be wondering why you were in Sickbay. You’re in all the healthy ranges for a woman in her early 30s and I can’t see anything in any of these results to show otherwise.” Dr. Harris said with a small reassuring smile, taking the sting out of his words.

“Just to be safe I’m going to recommend that you stay off of active duty for the next forty eight hours in case the last set of blood tests come back with anything significant, or a previously unknown side effect presents itself. You know the drill Doctor, take it easy, don’t over exert yourself and don’t eat or drink anything you wouldn’t normally.” Dr. Harris continued, his smile still in place, the fingers on his right hand juggling his PADD and tricorder as his left hand held two small vials of what Christine presumed to be Dr. McCoy’s blood.

“Yes yes, I get it and I’ve already taken myself off of active duty, M’Benga knows that. You will contact me as soon as the blood tests come back, right?”

“Of course, Doctor.” With that, Dr. Harris walked off over to the medical lab located off the entrance to sickbay with the two vials of Dr. McCoy’s blood. Dr. McCoy sighed quietly to himself, mumbled something under his breath and walked out of Sickbay with the clothes Christine had gotten him, presumably to his quarters, Christine thought to herself.

-*-*-

Meanwhile…

Jim was outwardly composed as he walked onto the bridge and relieved Spock. Inside he was vaguely unsettled as to how the not-quite-groping of Bones’ breasts had felt right to him.

“Uhura, is the distress call still sounding?” He asked as he sat in the Captain’s chair, swivelling slightly to face his Communications Officer.

“Negative Captain. Doctor Lockley disabled it a few minutes after we contacted the research facility.” Uhura replied calmly.

“That’s good.” Jim said, turning in his chair to face the helm as he continued speaking. “Sulu, take us out of orbit and lay in a course for the Sydan system, our original destination, warp three.” He ordered.

“Laying in course for the Sydan system. At warp three it’ll take the Enterprise five days and thirteen hours to reach the Sydan system, the de-tour to Vectus Prime took us quite a way off of our route, Captain,” Sulu replied, hand hovering over the controls to confirm the course.

“Set the course, Sulu.”

“Yes, Captain. Engaging warp three now.”

As the Enterprise sped across the galaxy, its crew doing their work as well as they had been for the six and a half months they’d been working together, Jim found himself contemplating a few things about the situation with Bones and what had happened in his, her, quarters earlier.

He is my best friend and best friends don’t just grope each other like that and like it. Even if Bones is a woman now, it doesn’t make it acceptable, does it? It was taking advantage of him, her or the situation, wasn’t it?

Realising that he was wool gathering when he had multitudes of reports to fill in and file and a couple of important messages to send to Starfleet, Jim got out of his chair, gave Spock the con and left the bridge for the Captain’s ready room, dreading the number of reports and requests to sign off on that would be awaiting him.

But they can wait until I’ve told Starfleet about the evacuees. Jim thought to himself as he walked through the door.

Mentally composing the message to Starfleet, Jim picked up all the PADDs on his desk and sorted them into reports for him to write up, reports from varying departments to read and requests to sign off on or not. Seeing that the second pile was by far and away the largest and that the first wasn’t inconsequential, he groaned out loud and flopped into his chair in a manner reminiscent of a rebellious teenager, not that of a decorated Captain of Starfleet.

“Computer, set status to ‘disturb only if absolutely necessary’,” Jim said, turning on a PADD set to make and receive messages from Starfleets’ Admiralty. The flashing light in the corner told him that he already had a message, and from its time stamp, it’d been waiting a while.

Damn.

He settled into his chair and opened the message.

Stardate 2258.242

From: Admiral R. Barnett, Earth
To: Captain J. T. Kirk, USS Enterprise

RE: Vectus Prime and ensuing evacuation.

Captain Kirk,

We commend you and your crew for answering the distress call so promptly. As soon as you have dealt with the reason for the distress call you are to proceed to the Sydan system where you were originally headed.

If there has been the need for evacuation, you are to contact us immediately so the nearest ship to your co-ordinates can be sent to rendezvous with the Enterprise and bring the evacuees back to Earth.

Admiral Barnett

Jim could swear that he could hear the “And don’t get our Flagship destroyed, boy” at the end of that communiqué.

Like I didn’t know that already, he thought. At least they acknowledged our ‘good deed’, but did they have to explain everything like they were talking to a delinquent toddler?

Shaking his head and setting the PADD from ‘read’ to ‘record’, Jim went about recording a vid-reply and a brief report of the situation, ending with slightly more in depth information on Bones’ predicament.

“… From talking to Doctor McCoy a short while after the incident occurred, McCoy seems to initially be taking the situation in stride and hasn’t let it affect his professionalism. The first thing he requested after making sure that someone was working on a solution to what had happened was to ask that he be allowed to get back to work after having had an examination. I acquiesced to his request; results on the examination are still pending at this point in time. As soon as they are reported I will act accordingly and make sure they are copied to Starfleet Head Quarters immediately.”

Switching the PADD from ‘record’ to ‘stop’, Jim sank further into his chair and leaned his head back against the inbuilt headrest. As he closed his eyes, just for a moment, he wondered if he hadn’t made too light of the situation to the brass and that it might come and bite him, or god help us, Bones or the whole crew, right in the butt.

Before he could have more than a handful of minute’s rest, his communicator beeped at him insistently.

“Kirk here.”

“It’s Scotty, Captain, thought you’d want an update on the Transporters and so on.”

“What’ve you got for me then Scotty.”

“It’s been an hour and I’ve got two teams searching both the life support and the non-essential systems. So far they’ve found no traces of anything else being altered, but it’s early days yet. No luck on fixing the Transporters yet either, I’ve taken them down so no one can accidentally use them to beam in or out of the ship.” Scotty reported.

“Received and understood. Keep me up to date with your findings. I’ll assign Spock to your team anyway from the beginning of his next shift. This needs to be fixed asap. Kirk out.”

With that, Jim flipped his communicator again and summoned Spock to his ready room, leaving Sulu with the con.

As Spock walked in, Jim put down the PADD with the catering staffs’ requests that he’d been signing off on, and gestured for him to have a seat.

“As I’m sure you’re aware by now, our good Doctor McCoy was accidentally turned into a woman by a malfunction somewhere in the Transporters subroutines. Whilst Mister Scott is an engineering genius, this is a highly important situation and I’m going to assign you to work directly with him to get this fixed as quickly as possible, starting from your next shift. For the rest of this shift I want you to go through the data collected about the comet whose trail we flew through last week and see if there’s anything in there that could help explain this mess. Any questions, Spock?”

“It is a most logical approach Captain. Is anyone checking other systems for malfunctions? It would seem prudent to do so.” Spock said calmly, belying no outward reaction to the news that a fellow Officer had been altered at a molecular level.

“Scotty assures me that he has teams working on both life support and non-essential systems, so if anything’s happened to either it should be caught soon.” Jim replied.

“Might I suggest that you inform the crew that they should use only the most necessary of systems until they have been fully checked over and suggest to Mister Scott that the most non-essential of systems be shut down during their examination? It would reduce the likelihood of a situation occurring similar to that of Doctor McCoy, or worse.” Spock said.

“Thank you Spock – I’ll do the announcement as soon as I’ve spoken to Scotty, he can be shutting the systems down whilst I talk to the crew. You’re free to go.” Jim replied, glad that someone was able to think past the fact that Bones was now a woman.

Nodding to Jim as he got up, Spock left the Captain’s ready room and made his way to his console on the bridge and opened all the relevant files from the comet exploration.

-*-*-

“This is Captain Kirk. As I’m sure some of you are aware by now, the least essential systems on board are being shut down. This is due to a possible malfunction in the Enterprise’s subroutines. For at least the next forty eight hours, it is strongly recommended that you only access those systems that are absolutely necessary for you to carry out your work. You will be kept up to date on which systems are currently offline and if the need for limited system activity needs to continue passed the forty eight hour mark. Kirk out.”

Jim sighed to himself, awaiting what he was sure to be a barrage of politely worded but still angry complaints about all the music, vids and other recreational systems being offline as some of those least essential systems he had mentioned. When there was no immediate outcry, he turned back to his still substantial piles of ‘paperwork’ to finish off.

The life of a Starfleet Captain was nowhere near as glamorous as recruitment posters would have you believe. At least, not all the time.

-*-*-

Jim had just finished the last of the reports that he had to write up and submit when someone activated the chime on the door.

“Enter,” Jim called out.

Dr. Harris entered, carrying a PADD and looking mildly bemused.

“Captain, Doctor M’Benga told me to report my examination of Doctor McCoy to you myself, as I was the one to examine him. Her.” Dr. Harris said in reply to the slightly raised eyebrow from the Captain upon seeing the acting Deputy Chief Medical Officer in his ready room.

“So what did you find? Anything to indicate how long Doctor McCoy’s going to stay a woman?” Jim asked, leaning forward on his desk to make sure he didn’t miss anything.

“Firstly, Doctor McCoy has been taken off of active duty for the next forty eight hours. This is a precautionary measure in case anything was to crop up that didn’t show in the initial examination.” Dr. Harris said with cool professionalism, giving Jim confidence in his work and the belief that he wouldn’t go into medical jargon trying to impress his Captain with how much he knew.

“From the results I have so far, I wouldn’t be able to tell you that the Doctor has ever been anything but a woman. If I hadn’t known Doctor McCoy before now, I’d believe someone to be pulling an annoying prank on me. I do have a couple of blood tests running and I’m hoping they can give me something to work on, but at the moment, I’d hesitate to say that Doctor McCoy is ever going to turn back without technological intervention.” Harris said, folding his hands in his lap after putting the PADD on the edge of the desk nearest to him.

“Damnit. Ok, so no luck on the changing-back-to-a-man front.” At this point, Jim leant his head in his left hand, combing his fingers through his hair. “Did the change do anything to McCoy to indicate any additional problem to her health other than anything that was there before the change?” Jim asked.

“From the initial examination, no additional health problems have shown up. I’ll be conducting a further examination before Doctor McCoy is released back on to active duty. If the results come back looking like these ones, then there’s no reason why sh..he couldn’t be back on rota as Enterprises’ CMO.” Harris replied, stumbling a little over which pronoun to use for Dr. McCoy now.

“Thank you Doctor, if you would keep me apprised of any changes to Doctor McCoy’s status, I would appreciate it. You’re dismissed.” Jim said with a friendly smile gracing his lips, taking any harshness out of the dismissal.

“Of course, Captain.” Harris replied as he left the room.

-*-*-

As Bones left sickbay, only detouring from getting the heck out of there to pick up the better fitting clothes that Christine had gone and gotten for him, he quickly checked that the corridor was empty before striding off to the nearest turbo lift. At the ‘swoosh’ of the closing door, he allowed himself a couple of seconds to close his eyes lean back on the wall of the ‘lift and forget about everything, just for a moment.

“Deck nine, section two,” Bones instructed the ‘lift as he opened her eyes and straightened up.

Again, making sure that the corridor was clear or as close to as was possible for Alpha shift, Bones walked from the ‘lift over to his quarters. Once the door to his quarters had shut behind him, the sound reverberating around his skull sounding like a death knell instead of the quiet ‘hiss’ that it really was, he set the pile of clothes in her hand on the top of the dresser and collapsed into the seat in front of his desk.

With his whole body as limp as it was possible to be whilst still stressed and his head leant back against the headrest of the chair, Bones contemplated opening the whiskey Jim had mentioned earlier and decided that whilst the situation definitely called for it, he couldn’t be bothered to move more than he had to. Not because he was tired, but because leaning down to get the bottle out if the box that it was hidden away in would cause him to squash his new breasts on the floor and he’d already learned just how much normal movement, or normal for Bones when she had been a he, hurt him and he had no wish to cause himself more pain.

Bones let his mind just drift, float away from the disaster that was today and found himself thinking of the days back before Starfleet, before his marriage had dissolved into bitter words, too much alcohol and fights too loud to be contained by the house that Jocelyn and he had lived in. He found herself thinking of the times when they both had a day off and spent it together, sometimes being as lazy as possible, other times going out and exploring the town or city that they lived in but rarely had time to spend time in, but always having fun just being the two of them.

They had always been competitive but back then it had been friendly and they’d joked about it.

– The first Christmas living together

“You never know when to give in, Len.” Jocelyn said, panting from the exertion of keeping the Christmas present away from Leonard’s long arms and hands that seemed to have been designed specifically to find and attack the most ticklish spots on her body.

“I’m a Doctor, curiosity’s how I find out what’s really wrong with my patient and treat them properly. I’m just, transferring the skill.” Leonard replied with a wicked gleam in his eyes and a broad grin.

“But didn’t you hear, curiosity killed the cat.” Jocelyn quipped, slipping out of Leonard’s arms and running for the stairs, her blonde hair streaming behind her and brown eyes glinting with suppressed laughter.

– Their third anniversary

“I’ve got to say, you’ve adapted well to living in a city, country boy.” Jocelyn teased, her fork loaded with pasta halfway to her mouth.

“I’ve had a great incentive to do so.” Leonard said, heat and lust loading every word as he took in the long, low cut dark blue dress his wife was wearing, his foot sliding up her leg just a little.

“Hmm, I’d better make sure that you’ve always got a reason to adapt to where my work takes me then, hadn’t I.” Jocelyn replied, a sultry smile tugging at her lips as she reached for her wine glass, eyebrow raised as Leonard’s foot slid up her leg a little more.

– Their sixth New Years’

This was only the second New Years’ Eve and New Years’ Day together since they had gotten married and they weren’t wasting it on a party with people who’d be too drunk to remember that they’d both been there. Instead they were at home, celebrating in their own fashion.

Her slinky black dress was casually draped over the dresser, her bra hung from the corner of the door and her panties, well, they’ll be going in the bin come morning. His trousers and boxers were haphazardly kicked across the floor and his shirt seemed to be hanging from the curtain rail.

On the bed the two of them fought for dominance, kissing and teasing each other’s bodies as they went. When Jocelyn pinned Leonard to the bed with her hands on his wrists and her legs entwined with his, she leant down to whisper in his ear.

“You going to let me drive tonight, Len?”

“Depends, can I touch or’m I gonna have to stay like this?” He replied, bucking his hips up in to hers, accent coming through thicker with arousal.

“Of course you can touch, just let me be in control,” she whispered back, slowly sliding back, kissing him until they had to break apart just to breathe, eventually she sat back on her knees leaning over him.

“Just relax and have fun on the bottom for once.”

Expecting to feel the sheets beneath his back and Jocelyn’s warm body around his, Bones was a little startled when he opened his eyes and saw that he was still in the chair at his desk and more than a little disappointed that he could barely ever think about the good times with Jocelyn without the bad times encroaching on them.

“Well it could be worse, I could’ve found myself back in the screaming and shouting of the last year with Jocelyn,” Bones said to himself as he levered his body out of the chair, turning slowly to take in his room and trying to find something, anything, to do to keep his mind off of what had happened. He had no intention of relaxing enough for more memories of his marriage to slip through as that part of his life was over and done with and he had no desire to be reminded of the teasing and joking becoming more and more bitter and twisted.

He settled on tidying everything away and putting the men’s uniform at the back of the wardrobe and the ones that Christine had got earlier in their place and resigning himself that for the foreseeable future, he’d be wearing women’s uniforms.

Well, the top and a smaller pair of trousers at least, there’s no way anyone’s getting me to wear one of those damned skirts. I’d look a right fool in one.

With all the clothes put away and the dirty ones sent to laundry, Bones changed the sheets-

“Do you trust me, Bones?”

-unbidden, the memory of Jim “measuring” him for a bra earlier popped into his head and the sense memory feeling of Jim’s hands on his breasts forced Bones to close his eyes and do his best to ignore the shudder running down his spine and spreading warm feelings through his body.

At least I can trust Jim to still be himself around me, by now I’m not sure if anything can phase him. Bones thought as he wrestled with the pillows.

Once the bed was all made up he sat (not collapsed this time) into his desk chair and got to work on the many and varied reports and patient write ups that he had to do. Despite being off duty, he still had work to do and it’d just build up even worse if he left it ’til he was on duty again.

Best to get it all done now, and besides, I need to keep busy. If I don’t I think I really will go nuts.

-*-*-

It had been just over thirty one hours ago that Jim had informed Starfleet of what had occurred when they had reached Vectus Prime, the ensuing evacuation and the incident with Bones, when he received a reply to his report. Hoping that they weren’t going to demand that he send Bones back with the evacuees, Jim crossed his fingers under his desk and opened the message.

Stardate 2258.243

From: Admiral R. Barnett, Earth
To: Captain J. T. Kirk, USS Enterprise

Vectus Prime evacuation and associated incident

Captain Kirk,

Thank you for your prompt and detailed report. There is no ship currently close enough to the USS Enterprise to relieve you of your evacuees. The nearest ship is the USS Persephone who will rendezvous with you at the edge of the Sydan system in eight days.

The Captain of the Persephone, Captain Lifton, and yourself will discuss whether it is best to send his Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Trent, to the Enterprise to examine and evaluate Dr. McCoy as an objective outsider, or to send Dr. McCoy to the Persephone. Whichever the two of you decide, once Dr. Trent has performed his examination, he will report his findings directly to Starfleet Headquarters.

In the mean time Dr. McCoy is to be placed on light duty as the recommended level of work allowed, and is to only accompany you on any away missions in the Sydan system if absolutely necessary. Upon Dr. Trent’s findings, it will be determined whether Dr. McCoy is to be re-called to Earth, allowed to stay on as a member of the Enterprises’ medical team or keep the position of Chief Medical Officer.

Admiral Barnett

Fuck it. Bones deserves to be here, not re-called to Earth like a defective toy. Not going to happen, not on my watch. Jim thought to himself fiercely, his defensiveness wasn’t just because Bones was his best friend either, Bones really had earned his position of Chief Medical Officer.

Determined to make sure that the Admirals let him keep Bones onboard, Jim set about gathering whatever data he could get his hands on as well as hacking into the medical systems to get Bones’ last two physicals (forgiveness and retroactive permission are sometimes so much easier to get), and began to construct his argument to keep Bones on the Enterprise and as its CMO.

-*-*-

Two hours later, Captain’s ready room

“Doctor M’Benga to Captain Kirk,” Dr. M’Benga’s voice came over the communications system.

“Kirk here,” Jim replied.

“I won’t be able to make the briefing in a few minutes, we still have our hands full from the accident in engineering earlier, I’m going to send Doctor McCoy in my stead,” Dr. M’Benga stated wearily.

“Acknowledged, make sure you catch McCoy as soon as you’re next able and get a rundown of what went on,” Jim said.

“Will do, Captain. Doctor M’Benga out.”

As Jim’s double checks…who knows what, Spock walks in, escorting Dr. Lockley, and before they were seated, Scotty and Bones walked in.

“Doctor, I was under the impression that Doctor M’Benga would be attending this meeting in your place as you are off duty,” Spock said, eyebrow raised minutely in what would be rebuke mixed with curiosity.

“He’s still all caught up in the injured personnel from the engineering incident a few hours ago so you’ve got me instead,” Bones replied, grouchy personality at the fore as per normal.

“Doctor Lockley, as you’re here representing everyone from the research facility please join in anything that comes up that any of your people may be able to help out with.” Jim said, looking at the slightly greying man who despite his beard beginning to show his age was still remarkably in shape for a Head Researcher.

“Thank you Captain, if I think of anything, I’ll be sure to share,” Dr. Lockley replied, taking stock of the young man in front of him. He’d heard about the Golden Boy of Starfleet and how it was down to him and the others in the room with him that Earth was still around, but damn, did the boy Captain have to look quite so young? Despite that, he had first hand evidence of the kind of man Captain Kirk was, and found that he liked him. He wasn’t too sure about the rest of them, but if they were even half as good as the gossip made them out to be (not that he would ever admit that he, like many others, listened to gossip), he knew that the people he was responsible for were in good hands.

“Mister Scott, do you have any news on the system scans or the Transporter malfunction?” Jim asked.

“Aye, we’ve found nothing wrong in the life support systems at all and a third of the non-essential systems have been checked and a couple of re-calibrations made. Non-essentials should be finished inside of thirty six hours, hopefully more like twenty four hours. Though until we dock somewhere and completely overhaul the entire ship, I can’t say that we won’t have the odd hiccup, but everything we’ve found has been very minor, wake-up calls going off a second early and music playing just a decibel or two higher than specified, if that.” Scotty reports.

“I concur, Captain. The teams assigned have been most thorough and I see no reason not to believe Mister Scott’s projections,” Spock said.

“That’s a relief. At least we have a time frame to work with now. Anything on the Transporters yet?” asked Jim.

“Well I think we now hold the record for the fastest strip and overhaul of a Transporter system on a working star ship.” Scotty said with a grin.

“So far we’ve de-coded all of the altered subroutines and set them back to factory standard if you will and just before this meeting we started testing the Transporters with vials of unusable blood. We transport them from here to there,” he said, motioning with his hands, “and a lovely Ensign in the Science department will be testing it to make sure the DNA is still the same as pre-transportation. Unfortunately there were so many minor malfunctions, more like teeny tiny mistakes, that on their own, I doubt they’d have done anything, but all together, caused Doctor McCoy’s unfortunate situation. In fact, due to the sheer number of them, I highly doubt we’ll be able to reverse the change.” Scotty said, the last part said with a frown. Turning towards Bones, Scotty continued speaking.

“I’m sorry Doctor, I really am, but I’m not giving up on this, just, thought you’d want to know the odds.” Regret lined Scotty’s normally cheerful face.

“I guess it could have been worse. I could be dead or have been stuck with tentacles instead,” Bones said, shrugging, not meeting anyone’s eyes.

“That’s the spirit, Bones,” Jim said, attempting to break the tension that seemed to have descended on the five of them.

“I’m sorry for interrupting, but what situation has Doctor McCoy found herself in?” Dr. Lockley asked, confused, eyes flicking over Bones for any signs of anything wrong with her body.

“The problem would be that when I was beamed up from Vectus Prime, I was a man. When I re-materialised up here, as you can see, I was no longer a man.” Bones bit out, trying to stay polite – after all it wasn’t the Doctor’s fault that he now had the body of a woman – but only partially succeeding.

“Oh,” Dr. Lockley said, eyes bugging out a little and brows trying not to meet his hairline. “I’m sorry for asking, I didn’t mean to upset you or anything.”

“No, it’s alright. How were you to know anyway?” Bones replied, tone less biting and more resigned this time. Flicking through notes on the PADD in her hands, Bones cleared her throat and sat up straighter.

“My turn now Jim?” Bones asked.

“Sure, what’s Medical got to share with us?” Jim said.

“Even with the extra people on board, overcrowding and everything it entails isn’t an issue yet as the Enterprise is only two thirds staffed – you did get the requests I sent you for who to interview for positions when we’re near Earth again, didn’t you?” Bones said.

“Yes, I’ve gone through half the recommended personnel from all departments,” Jim replied, cutting in quickly.

“Good. We’re slightly concerned about food and how the evacuees will adapt to life on a star ship for the unknown duration of their stay on board with us. I suggest integrating them as much as possible and as much as they want to be. It’d help out the Enterprise’s crew and would also stave off any feelings of boredom and associated incidents that always occur when people have too much free time on their hands. In addition it would make them feel useful and like they’re pulling their own weight instead of feeling like dead weight.” Bones reported voice rather dry.

“Researcher Portman is recovering nicely by all accounts. She should be over the Mendakan Pox and able to be put on active duty in twenty four hours, thirty as a maximum.”

Upon hearing that Dr. McCoy was considering his peoples’ mental as well as physical wellbeing and seeing no negative reactions from the other senior officers, Dr. Lockley relaxed and the tension lines around his eyes and mouth smoothed out a little.

“Well that’s a relief. Thank you so much Doctor McCoy, and everyone else, thank you. I’ve heard nothing but good things from my fellow researchers about how the crew of the Enterprise has treated them. I can’t see any reason why any of us would say no to helping you out in whatever way we can, and I’m assured that our medical team, or what’s left of it after the accident that left us without our Chief Medical Officer, is definitely more than just competent, so we can definitely help out there, take the pressure off of your team for however long we’re here.” Dr. Lockley said.

Most of it was said whilst looking at Bones, trying to get across a silent apology for the fact that he’s now a woman because he beamed up from the planet because he was helping them. As he continued, he looked round at the rest of the assembled officers.

“I’m not sure how well the rest of us will be able to fit in being that it’s an even split between botonists or xenobotonists, and xenoaarchaeologists. If you can find places to fit us in to help out, I’ll send you the best people I have for the places. Oh! You’ll want to fit a couple of our chefs in for sure, they make this delicious dish, I can’t for the life of me remember what it’s called, but oh my, is it tasty!” Dr. Lockley said, eyes almost glazing over in fond remembrance.

At the last part, both Jim and Scotty grinned, though Jim’s was a little more restrained. Being the Captain and all he had to be seen to be at least trying to act like he had manners.

“I’ll be sure to take that into consideration Doctor.” Jim said, nodding his head in acknowledgment.

“I think the idea of temporary integration is a great one, especially as Doctor Lockley believes it will be embraced by his people. I’ll set up a meeting for all the Department heads on Enterprise and their counterparts from Vectus Prime for a coupe of hours’ time if that’s alright with everyone.” When Jim got four sets of agreements he continued on.

“Mister Scott, commend your team for me on such a quick job with the malfunction hunting. I don’t know how you managed to get them to work so fast – and from that look, I don’t think I want to know,” that part was said with half a laugh in it when he saw Scotty’s furtive look over at Bones and subsequent tug of a grin at his lips, “but I’m going to need positive test results with something more substantial and complex than small vials of blood, before I can sign off on the transporters being safe enough to be used by living beings. You’ve got a maximum of nine days to do so Mister Scott, but I’d prefer it gets sorted before then.” Jim said, making a note to set the meeting between Department heads for three hours time.

“If you pardon my asking Captain, but why the nine day limit? Not that I’ll be needing that long you understand.” Scotty asked.

“That would be because in nine days we’ll be meeting with the USS Persephone who’ll be taking everyone from Vectus and their salvaged equipment back to Earth. I don’t want anyone in the ‘Fleet to think that the Enterprise and her crew can’t handle themselves out in the black when it’s not a planet-wide life or death situation. We might be the flagship and I know that the crew I have is the best of the best, but there’ll always be people wanting to show that that’s not true, and I don’t want to give them ammunition against us.” Jim said seriously, the Captain in evidence in this short but heartfelt explanation.

“Anyone thinking the Enterprise isn’t the best ship that Starfleet’s produced is plain crazy and I’m not about to let them think otherwise, Sir.” Scotty said passionately, the threat to his precious Enterprise making him determined to work extra hard to protect her reputation.

“I’m glad to hear that, the poor girl can’t speak for herself, so we’ve got to do it for her.” Jim said, full smile in evidence.

“Aye, you’re right there.” Scotty said.

Doctor Lockley had been watching the exchanges between Captain and Chief of Engineering with a faint smile and his respect for this ridiculously young crew increasing with the sheer passion on display in the short exchange.

What they lack in age and experience, they make up in enthusiasm and love for their jobs, he thought to himself. When the Captain spoke it broke Lockley from his inner thoughts.

“Mister Spock, I believe that you’ve got a report on the Sydan system for us.” Jim said, the question no more a question than cake or death was a question.

Dipping his head in affirmation, Spock began speaking.

“Only a cursory examination of the Sydan system has been carried out before our arrival. From the previous data, it is known that the Sydan system is composed of seventeen planets and one sun estimated to be the same age as Sol. At least two of the planets are class M. Ten are smaller than Mars in the Terran system, four approximately the size of Earth and one marginally larger than Jupiter, and like its Terran counterpart, it is also a giant gas planet. At the time of the initial exploration it was noted that between planets thirteen and fourteen outward from the sun there was an asteroid belt, the majority of the asteroids being magnetic enough that a notation was made to take a larger than normal path around it to head further into the system in order to minimise the effect on the star ship’s systems.” Spock informed them.

“‘At least’, so the previous exploration wasn’t a complete one then?” Jim asked, brow furrowing mildly in thought.

Why wouldn’t an exploration team have fully explored the system they were meant to be mapping out? Jim thought to himself.

“It would appear not to have been, Captain.” Spock said. If he had been human, he too would have shown signs of confusion over a mission not completed. As it was, he was only half human, so he only thought them.

“I don’t like the sound of that, have everyone be extra careful until we know why the previous mission wasn’t completed.” Jim instructed.

“If I knew how strong a magnetic field we’re talking about I’d be able to work out a safe distance for our pilot to fly at.” Scotty questioned.

“I have forwarded the initial reports to all Senior Officers. You should have them now, Mister Scott.” Spock replied.

At Spock’s words Scotty looked down at his PADD and noticed the new file on it. Opening it up and scanning down to the part about the asteroid belt and its magnetic field he took note of its strength and made a few notations to himself.

“I can work with that. I’ll have a safe distance for the shift pilot by the time we get there, though I’d recommend dropping out of warp a little earlier and scanning the asteroid belt again to make sure. The prior mission apparently not being completed leaves me a little sceptical of its data.” Scotty said the last with slight disdain for the scientists who’d leave a job half done.

“I concur, it would be most logical to re-check the data for ourselves.” Spock said, nodding his head just a tiny bit to show his agreement.

-*-*-

After leaving the briefing, Bones wandered the ships’ decks seemingly aimlessly, until he ended up in the Mess Hall. As his stomach protested the lack of food in it when he smelt the mixed aromas that wafted over to where he was standing just inside the room, he slowly walked over to the small queue collecting their food and drinks and picked up a tray, noticing that some crew members were doing double takes upon seeing him voluntarily in public and alone for one of the very few times since the incident. Not that Bones hadn’t eaten since then, rather, Jim had arranged for food to be brought to Bones’ quarters when he couldn’t do it himself.

Just as he was about to sit at an empty two person table in the corner where he could hide from most of the people who were still attempting to sneak looks at him but failing to do so with anything resembling stealth, he was accosted by Christine who dragged him over to a table where Uhura was already sitting.

“Doctor,” Uhura said, tilting her head slightly in greeting.

“Lieutenant,” Bones replied automatically, unsure of why he was being accosted by the two most prominent female crew members of Enterprise and feeling more than a little weary of being stared at so much.

“Sit down, we don’t bite, well, not unless asked to,” Christine said with a grin as she sat down opposite Uhura.

Sighing as he slipped into the chair next to Uhura, Bones started to eat his food, deciding that he wasn’t going to start a conversation, if Christine had brought him over to share their table she was going to have to be the one to explain it all. Dammit, he was a Doctor not a toy to be towed about wherever his Head Nurse wanted!

All three of them were quiet for a while, the quiet a companionable one, only broken by the sounds of eating and the occasional scrape of cutlery against the plates.

“We didn’t think you’d appreciate being left to the animals on board,” Uhura said as she picked her drink up.

“Excuse me?” Bones replied, his brow furrowed as he tried to work out what she’d meant.

“As much as the Enterprise is crewed by the best left in Starfleet after the Narada, most of them are men and most men are pigs. Especially around good looking women. And McCoy, you happen to make one fine looking woman, but I’m sure the Captain’s already told you that.”

Blushing lightly at her last remark and slightly confused as to why she specifically mentioned Jim instead of a more generic turn of phrase, Bones pushed his plate away and sank a little into his chair.

“That’s mighty nice of you to say, but if most men are pigs as you say, then surely we’re drawing more attention being all together, seeing as how both of you are fine examples of the female gender,” he said, trying to remove the blush and not look at anyone in particular.

“I know you didn’t take the Command track like I did, but surely you know about strength in numbers, Doctor?” Uhura replied, an eyebrow raised as if annoyed at his lack of understanding, but the slight smile at the corners of her mouth belied any actual annoyance.

At her words, a memory of Jocelyn, her sister and youngest cousin sitting on the sofa at Thanksgiving just before the rest of the families descended on them, laughing at something between themselves and shaking their heads at him in amusement when he just didn’t get it “female logic” he remembers thinking as he slowly backed out of the room to go and get himself a beer.

Yeah, strength in numbers, especially when concerning beautiful women, was a good thing for them and a deadly combination for anyone who dared to get in their way or hurt one of them.

Memories of the last few months before the divorce was finalised crept into Bones’ mind and the scene changed from the laughing trio on the sofa to the harpy-like attack on him whenever they caught sight of him. Shaking his head to get rid of the painful memories, Bones looked over at Uhura and Christine.

“I understand that all too well and thank you for uh, saving me this time around, I don’t think I can take being stared at like a carnival freak much more before I do something a Doctor really shouldn’t.” He replied, trying to inject just a small amount of levity into his voice.

“It’s not likely that all three of us will have meals at the same time every day and I have a feeling that you’ll have a few questions that only a woman can answer once you’ve accepted that you’re a woman, for however long it’ll last, so I, we wanted to tell you that when you do have those questions, you can come to us and we’ll do our best to answer them for you.” Christine said as Uhura nodded her agreement with what was being said.

“Thank you, that’s very kind of you. Thank you.” Bones replied, a small smile creeping into his lips.

“I’ll give this piece of advice now as you might need it sooner than you realise, but chocolate really is your friend.” Uhura said grinning as she stood up. As she walked away from the others and back to the rest of her shift on the bridge, she heard McCoy’s puzzled questioning of Christine and Christine’s gentle laughter.

-*-*-

Four hours later

As he read through the various logs and reports of the USS Servitor surrounding their exploration of the Sydan system, Spock discovered the reason for the lack of full sets of data on that particular expedition. The USS Servitor had been overrun with tribbles and had had to turn back to dispose of them safely.

If Spock had been human instead of only half, he’d have winced in shared pain for the damage shown in the photo’s accompanying the reports. As it was, he hoped that the person or persons responsible for bringing such a potentially dangerous creature onboard a star ship had been properly disciplined.

Having now found the reason for the partial data sets, Spock prepared a report for the Captain, informing him that it wasn’t something that was caused by natives of the system that had caused the Servitor to leave before completing their assignment.

-*-*-

13:48 hours; 2258.244

Dr. Harris re-checked the results in front of him for the seventh time to make sure he really hadn’t missed anything. As he re-read the blood hormone count results he allowed himself a private and fleeting grin as he declared the results to be true and now looked forward to telling his patient the good news and forwarding it all on to the Captain, who he was sure would (in private) would be ecstatic at the results.

There was no reason at all that Harris could find for anyone in Starfleet to remove Dr. McCoy from the Enterprise or from the position of Enterprises’ Chief Medical Officer.

Tamping down the elation he felt at seeing the results (Dr. McCoy might have a grouchy personality but he really was a great Doctor and took the time to explain things to the less experienced Doctors’ and Nurses’ on board), Dr. Harris made his way from the med lab back to Sickbay as quickly as he could. Walking straight up to where Dr. McCoy was still sitting on an out of the way bio bed.

“Doctor McCoy, I’ve got your test results back and after going over them thoroughly, I can’t see any reason to keep you from duty any more. As of this moment, you are back on active duty with the provision that you take a half hour self defence lesson every day for the next fortnight.” At this Dr. McCoy’s eyebrow raised itself until it almost met his hairline in the typical excuse me? expression that had precluded many a rant in its time. Pretending to not have noticed McCoy’s reaction to the news, Harris continued speaking.

“That one’s non negotiable and is just this side of a direct order from the Captain. Not only will it help you to relearn how to defend your self on away missions, but I will help you to get used to the different centre of gravity that a female body has and how to use your new body most effectively and efficiently.” As he was speaking Dr. Harris copied McCoy’s test result data on his PADD and attached it to a partially written report for the Captain that would also be copied to Dr. M’Benga, hiding his relief at managing to divert a rant. It wasn’t very often that he could divert one, but it still made him sigh in relief when he did manage to.

“I suppose that’s all reasonable, so long as whoever’s teaching this little self defence class isn’t a complete ass,” Dr. McCoy mumbled to himself as he slid off of the bio bed and straightened his uniform out. As he looked over at Dr. Harris, he caught the big grin on his colleagues face.

“Out with it Harris, what’s the joke this time.”

“Oh nothing Doctor, just that the Captain said he’d be teaching you, one on one. So unless you think the Captain’s an ass, I guess you’ll be ok.” Dr. Harris replied the grin smaller but still there.

“That little-. Hmph, it could be worse I suppose.” With that Dr. McCoy walked off to his office to try and catch up on any paperwork that Dr. M’Benga hadn’t yet done.

-*-*-

“Dropping out of warp now, Captain,” Sulu said from his place at the helm.

The bright streaks of white in the bridge view screen that were stars quickly merged, solidified and became the Sydan system. Most of the seventeen planets were just in view from this position. Two of the ones that were Earth sized and the largest planet were instantly visible along with most of the smaller ones whilst the others were hidden from view by the asteroid belt.

“Captain, initial readings of the asteroid belt agree with the readings in the USS Servitor’s report.” Spock said turning to face Jim after confirming the two sets of data.

“Understood. Sulu follow Mister Scott’s recommendations and take us around the asteroid belt on impulse engines only.” Jim ordered. “We’re here to explore, so we might as well let the Scientists take all the readings that they can get from these asteroids.”

As Sulu navigated the Enterprise around the asteroid belt, close enough to take detailed readings and photographs, but far enough away to avoid any damage being done to the ship’s systems by the natural magnetic field, Jim found himself thinking about the upcoming rendezvous with the USS Persephone and all that it’d entail.

So long as nothing extra comes up on the tests this Doctor Trent does, there’s no reason at all for them to take Bones away from here, from me. Nothing came up in either of the examinations Doctor Harris did of Bones, so what’s this Trent supposed to find? There’s no cellular degradation, no memory loss and Bones seems to be adapting to being a woman rather well, at least physically.

Maybe they’ll try for the psychological angle, say that Bones’ is unfit for duty because the change has caused some form of PTSD or some other crap like that. Something like that’s not something I can protect Bones from or stand against.

Maybe Bones’ll even want to leave because of this.

Fuck.

I can’t let Bones think I’m going to let him her – and isn’t that ridiculous, I can’t even think in pronouns without trying to correct myself and failing – just leave.

Guess I’d better come up with a plan to show Bones that volunteering to leave is not an option.

-*-*-

A couple of rather uneventful of hours passed, the odd Ensign came to the bridge to pass a report over and a few requests from Life Sciences came in but weren’t immediately important so they were left for later when Jim would be in his ready room instead of on duty on the bridge, and Jim was no nearer to having a proper plan to keep Bones on the Enterprise if he was going to volunteer to leave.

His looks of intense concentration from being deep in thought over trying to create the plan to keep Bones onboard, had drawn the notice of the bridge crew, though none of them had mentioned anything to their Captain, not wanting to annoy him by asking him about it, wisely deciding to keep their thoughts to themselves.

“Captain, initial readings show three of the planets in this system as being potentially able to support humanoid life, another one that could well support life if it breathed methane instead of oxygen. I suggest we get closer to them for more detailed scans.” Spock said from his position on the bridge.

“Understood. Send the co-ordinates for the nearest planet likely to support oxygen breathing life to Mister Sulu. Sulu, take us in closer to that planet, set us in high orbit once we’re there.” Jim ordered.

“Yes, Captain. Receiving co-ordinates now. Laying in course for the sixth planet from the sun.” Sulu replied.

“Set the course and impulse engines only, Sulu.”

“Yes, Captain. Engaging impulse engines now.”

-*-*-

Interlude

It was the end of the shift and Jim had managed to escape the Bridge with nothing having gone wrong at all for the last hour and a half. Not even a minor mishap in the labs. He’d just walked passed the division between sections one and two on Deck nine when a ship wide hail went out.

“Can I have your attention please. Due to unfortunate accident in Laboratory nineteen, Deck thirteen, Section seven, Sections five through to ten on Deck thirteen are on lock down for next eighteen hours. That is all.” Chekov announced, his voice much clearer and confident over the comm system than even a fortnight ago. Jim was so proud of him, youngest crewmember in Starfleet and more intelligent and loyal than most, Jim just knew Chekov was going to grow into an amazing Officer.

When he got to Bones’ quarters he let himself in, not bothering with chiming at all, despite the time, and immediately had to stifle his laughter at the position Bones had fallen asleep in.

That’s got to hurt, he thought whilst biting his lip to stop the burst of laughter that wanted to escape.

Bones was still collapsed over his PADD at his desk, head pillowed on his arms and breasts squashed on the table edge. The mussed up hair and small pout turned a normal exhaustion-induced collapse into something a lot more adorable. Knowing all too well from experience just how painful sleeping over a desk was and imagining it was worse with breasts getting in the way, Jim carefully made his way over to Bones and shook his shoulder gently, wanting to wake him up and send him to bed properly like Bones had done for him many a time during their years at the Academy.

“Computer, lights to one hundred percent, lets see if that’ll get you up Bones.” Jim said to himself.

“Bones, hey, Bones. Wake up. Come on grouchy, wake up.” Jim said quietly, not wanting to startle Bones. Only moments later he was rewarded with Bones blinking his eyes open and murmuring to himself incoherently.

“Wha’s amatter? No ‘larm goin’ off s’not ‘mergency. Why’re y’here Jim?” Bones mumbled out, accent thickened so much it was barely decipherable. Squinting his eyes at the light and slowly standing up, wincing as the release of pressure on various body parts caused darts of pain to flare up, Bones walked over to his bed and flopped down, not caring that he now resembled a debauched and fallen angel.

“Computer, lights to fifty percent. What’re you doing here Jim?” Bones asked a second time when Jim didn’t immediately answer, looking over at him to make sure Jim did answer him.

“Why do I ever see you when we’re not on duty, Bones? You’re my friend. Do I really need a reason to hang around with you?” Jim asked, a slight defensive tone creeping in there at the end.

Thoughts of Bones wanting to leave the Enterprise and Jim not being able to see him everyday, even if sometimes they went days without speaking properly, crept back in and his arms wrapped themselves around his torso, unconsciously hugging himself in comfort. Some part of his thoughts must have shown on his face as Bones frowned to himself and waved Jim over to sit on the bed as well.

“Now what’s really going on in that head of yours? Might as well tell me straight up or I’m going to have to guess and that’s going to land us in the area of ‘acting like teenage girls’, whilst I may now resemble one, I refuse to change how I act in my own quarters. Now spill.” Bones said, his stubbornness out in force.

If I have to be awake when I want to be asleep, I don’t see why I should put up with bullshit excuses and talking round in circles.

“It’s nothing, don’t worry so much, Bones. How come you fell asleep over your desk? I thought you said that you’d put all that behind you when we graduated?” Jim asked, hoping his weak attempt at diversion worked.

“Don’t even try that bull with me. You woke me up, so you can damn well answer my questions.” Bones retorted whilst sinking further into his bed.

Jim started in on some line of bullshit diversion about being worried at the rate Engineering were going through spare parts that Bones saw through within two words. He raised an eyebrow and silently told Jim to just stop fucking around and talk already.

“You’re just going to call me a big girl and I’d rather not lose my image of a stud, thank you very much. No dice.” Jim replied. He sat on the bed rigidly, making sure that he was close to Bones but not touching, unconsciously putting himself between Bones and the door.

“It wouldn’t be the first time and I doubt it’ll be the last so just spit it out and get it over with. The longer you pout and refuse to talk, the more girly you’re going to get.” Bones replied dryly, a small smile on his lips.

Sighing in defeat, knowing that Bones was like a like a dog with a bone when he wanted to get something out of you, Jim gave in and spoke up.

“I was thinking that you might want to leave Enterprise what with all that’s happened to you.” Jim said robotically, not a hint of inflection or emotion betraying just how scared he felt at the idea of an Enterprise with no Bones.

“Bullshit. You’re scared that I’m going to leave you.” Bones said.

Jim blushed at that.

“Now you’re making me sound like a pathetic girlfriend who needs to know where her guy is all the time.” Jim said, pouting just a little as he knew Bones couldn’t see his face completely in the dim light.

“I just know that you have abandonment issues, kid.” Bones replied.

When Jim didn’t reply, just shrug in acceptance of the statement, Bones carried on speaking.

“Jim, for a certified genius, you’re awfully dense on occasion.” Bones said, shaking his head as he did so. “Why would I leave the Enterprise? Or you for that matter? The best crew in the Federation is here, so if there’s anyone who’s going to work out how to fix me it’ll be someone here, someone onboard the Enterprise. Plus, most everyone that I can tolerate and the few that I actually like are on here too. I’m not going anywhere unless the Admirals’ force me to, and considering Pike’s one of them now, I’d say we’re safe for a while.” Bones said, looking over at Jim for the first time since Jim had said what was eating at him.

What he saw was relief and gratitude dance across his friend’s face before being pushed away as a blush stole over Jims’ features, the look of relief not leaving his eyes though.

Instead of replying with any kind of “thanks for that” or “good to know”, Jim nodded his head in acknowledgement of what had been said, and launched into a spirited discussion of ship-wide gossip and “Chekovs’ eighteenth’s coming up in a month, what’re we going to do for him? Can’t have Enterprises’ baby become a man and not celebrate it Bones.”

-*-*-

As there was little else that could be done on or with the planet, Enterprise slowly moved on to the fifth planet of the system, another one of those noted as being able to support life as they knew it.

About three quarters of the way through the initial scans of the planet, Chekov noticed two small and regularly fluctuating areas of low level electricity on the western edge of the largest continent. As he double checked what he had found, he realised that firstly, they were most definitely too regular to be natural, and secondly, that in the areas just outside of the two areas of electrical signatures, the land appeared to have been farmed.

“Keptin, the scans have picked up vhat may possibly be two rather small settlements within two distinct areas of unnatural electronic signatures.” Chekov said, turning around to face Jim as he spoke.

“Do the scans show anything else yet?” Jim asked as he walked over to Chekov’s terminal to look at the data himself.

“Not yet Keptin, it vill take a closer and more in depth scan to tell what type of sentient life ve are dealing vith. From vhat ve have already, I vould guess that they are likely humanoid but not necessarily human with an unknown technological level, but no lower than mid twentieth century earth as electricity appears to in use all over the region vith the life signs.” Chekov replied, his speech getting a little faster the more he got into it.

He was rather excited that they’d found another planet with life on it and not another pretty but boringly empty planet, as planets with life forms tended to be more interesting. Granted, they were also the planets that tended to have the most injury reports filed when the exploration ended, but the new cultures and the trade agreements they ended up making were much more like the space exploration Chekov had occasionally imagined when growing up. The side of him that was a highly intelligent member of Starfleet knew that most of space exploration wasn’t that glamorous and required a lot of dull routine work, but sometimes he let the side of him that was a seventeen year old boy out and just wished that space exploration really was as cool as the recruiting adverts made it out to be.

“As soon as the initial scan is complete, set up a series of scans over that particular area,” Jim said, pointing to the area he was talking about, the one with the sentient life forms, as he spoke.

“Sulu, take us in closer and establish a geo-synchronous orbit when the initial scans are complete.” Jim ordered, still leaning over Chekov’s console.

“Aye, Keptin.”

“Yes Sir.”

Walking back to his seat and picking up his PADD as he sunk into his seat, Jim started putting together a preliminary away team list, sure that the results of the further scans of Sydan’s fifth planet would require a first contact away mission.

-*-*-

Jim was in his quarters, having finally finished signing off on a multitude of reports to be submitted to Starfleet and authorising various rota alterations (who knew experiments in med labs would require the Chief Engineers’ authorisation to lock down certain systems and his attendance during the whole procedure; poor Scotty, he’s going to be bored out of his skull, Jim thought to himself), when Bones walked in to the room. On the plus side he had rung the bell requesting permission to enter, but ever since Jim had known the authorisation code to get into his quarters on Enterprise, Bones had known them and vice versa, so Bones hadn’t actually waited for Jim to give his permission to enter.

“Just what the heck do you think you’re doing putting me on the away team going down to the fifth planet?” The words exploding from Bones bare nano seconds after the door had shut behind him.

“And just what are you doing on it as well? We’re to meet up with the Persephone in one week and you’re just going to get yourself injured, don’t give me that look, I know you far too well, and being injured due to your own fault. Did I not just say to not give me that look? In front of a Captain and crew far more experienced than you or virtually any of your crew. No, you are not to butt in on me, you will be injured, or ill, because knowing you and your propensity for trouble, you’ll get something that’ll not heal completely between you getting the injury and the meeting with the Captain of the Persephone. You really shouldn’t be going on this mission Jim.” Bones ranted, pacing up and down the room in front of where Jim was sitting, scowl deepening the longer the rant went on, finishing up with a particularly piercing glare and his hands resting on his hips. Jim refrained from telling Bones that he now resembled Jims’ mother more than ever, and instead grinned and relaxed more into the chair he was now lounging instead of sitting on.

“Bones, you’ve got to learn to relax. With you with us on the mission, I’m much less likely to get any major injury, just think of the last missions we did together, I only got a couple of scrapes and a small burn, and this is probably going to end up a first contact mission so I can hardly not be on it, being the highest ranking officer on board able to undertake a mission. We’ll have a security detail with us and everyone on the bridge watching our stats and the transporter room ready to beam us out if things look like they’re going to go badly, so don’t worry.” Jim said earnestly and full of charm. It must’ve worked a little as Bones calmed down from ‘blow a fuse’ angry to ‘glare, grumble and possibly smack on the head’ annoyed, and sat down in the chair opposite Jim.

“I’m flattered, really I am,” Bones said dryly, “but don’t think that your flattery is going to get you everywhere. I still think you shouldn’t have put me on the away team, especially not without checking with me about it first. What if I’d had someone’s surgery planned for tomorrow? And whilst I’ve been cleared for duty, I’m not sure I should be on away missions’, you’ve seen what I’m like in those self-defence classes you’ve got me taking-”

“And you’re coming on fine, you’ve already got a much better front kick than you ever had before and I know that you’re able to dodge most punches, you’ve just got to believe in your self a little more, Bones.”

“-Whilst you may believe that Jim, I still think M’Benga should be the one going with you, if you need a senior member of the medical team with you. Harris is coming along well and needs more away mission experience, why not take him?”

“I don’t know about Harris, I’ll see if I can get him assigned to the away team for the mission after this one, and whilst I know that M’Benga’s more than capable, he showed his capability as acting CMO when you were off active duty straight after the ‘incident'” Bones would swear that he could hear the speech marks around the word incident and shook his head a little as Jim ploughed on, “and whilst I know your medical team is the best in Starfleet, there’s no one I trust with my health more than you, so come on. What could happen to either of us that’s worse than what we’ve already been through?”

“Hmm, let me think about that. Death. We could be killed, shot to death, stoned to death, there could be an unknown pathogen raging through the population. All sorts of unknown things could go wrong Jim!”

“All the more reason for you to be with me on the mission then,” Bones would swear that he could hear Jims’ smile in his words, “I’ll have the best care from the start if I get injured off-ship and you’ll have me and a whole security detail protecting you whilst we’re down there. How long has it been since you got off of Enterprise for something that wasn’t an immediate emergency? It’s got to be at least as long as it’s been for me, so just agree to go on this mission with me and treat it as a mini break. Chekov’s scans say that it’s late spring on the planet and no rain or bad weather forecast for the next few days. Come on. Maybe you’ll find some plant that’ll help you cure the Telurian Plague, you’ll never know unless you come on the away mission.” Jim continued along in this vein until he could tell that Bones was about to agree. He wouldn’t normally have begged and pleaded anywhere near this much, but for some reason Jim really didn’t want to leave Bones on Enterprise without him there to, what? Protect him? Internally shaking his head, Jim slapped on his biggest shit-eating grin when Bones sighed and spoke.

“Ok, fine, I give in, just stop your god-awful wheedling, you sound like a spoiled brat.”

Mentally doing the dance of joy, Jim continued grinning and got the half empty bottle of Bourbon and a two glasses that he kept in a cupboard for a post-shift drink with Bones, and turned the conversation away from tomorrows away mission and onto other subjects, glad that despite Bones now having a female body they could still relax together after a shift and it not feel awkward.

-*-*-

“Whilst it’s oh-eight-hundred hours on the Enterprise, it’s closer to thirteen-hundred on the planet so keep in mind that we don’t have a full shift to explore the area in. Other than that it should be standard procedure, no one goes off alone, call for back up if you find yourself in a situation with the locals and so on.” Jim said, facing the away team as they assembled themselves in the transporter room.

The first half of the team (mostly the security personnel and a xenobotanist) were beamed down and as soon as the pads were clear the rest of them were beamed down as well.

After a couple of hours of investigating the natural flora of the planet (Bones had found a plant that from the initial tri-corder reading may or may not have medicinal properties, but it’d definitely be a hit with the cooking department) and encountering nothing more dangerous than the planet’s version of a bee (ok, so if you were one James T. Kirk who was allergic to bees and a million and one other innocuous things, that was actually quite dangerous), the away team stopped for a short rest, one half on look–out whilst the other half rested. They’d been over a majority of the area immediately outside of the zone of unnatural electric activity and hadn’t found anything out of the ordinary.

Unfortunately, those on lookout must have overlooked some part of the surrounding area when checking for danger, as one minute there was just the away team sitting around the trees, looking over the readings on their tri-corders and chatting between themselves, and the next they were surrounded by what Jim estimated to be twenty to twenty five extremely well armed not-quite-human-but-still-humanoid soldiers. The Security Officers, upon seeing their opponents’ level of armament immediately took up what defensive positions that they could around the rest of the away team members.

When it became apparent that they were at a standoff, neither side wishing to test out the others resolve, or more importantly, their firepower, Jim did the only thing he could think of. He walked up to the not-quite-human soldier who appeared to be in charge and spoke to him in a calm voice.

“Take us to your leader.”

-*-*-

They walked for a while, following their guards with only the occasional quiet murmur in single file. Jim took advantage of the enforced walk to analyse what he knew of the newcomers.

Their uniforms are well kept and their bearing and attitude is typical of low to mid level military, they speak a non-Standard language that I haven’t heard, I wonder if Uhura has? They haven’t been overly violent with us but they’re not the friendliest of people either. Oh and they’ve got purple skin, white hair and completely black eyes can’t forget those little details. I wonder if the purple’s just this race or if everyone on this planet’s purple? Hmm…unless their gender definitions are vastly different from humans’ it looks like these guys are all, well, guys.

Jim continued musing in this vein for another couple of minutes whilst keeping an eye on the other members of the away team that he could see without drawing the purple-skinned soldiers’ attention to himself. Everyone else seemed to be coping well considering that they were effectively captives and the three xenobotonists in front of him were able to hold a low level running commentary on the various new species of flora that they walked passed, leading Jim to assume that their captors were only worried about the away team keeping up with the pace the soldiers kept, lending more credibility to Jims’ belief that these people weren’t overly violent, just strict.

One of the xenobotonists had only a moment ago pointed out a weird pile of stones (well, she’d pointed out a plant growing out of it, but Jim could only see the stones), when the whole group shuddered from an unexpected not-quite-painful static shock that disappeared almost as quickly as it had come up. That wasn’t the strangest thing though, not by a long shot.

When they looked up from having half-curled up on themselves from the unexpectedness of the static, the entire human part of the group gasped in shock. What had a moment ago been yet more pleasant rolling country side, was now a small but bustling town, complete with technology at least equal to that of the Federation.

Apparently cloaking technology wasn’t just a theoretical possibility anymore.

They weren’t allowed to remain stationary for long though. Jim could still feel tingles in the ends of his fingers and toes when they were all prodded in the back with one of the formidable weapons that resembled the bastard child of a modern phaser and a 20th century G36 assault rifle.

As they walked on, occasionally prodded in the back to go this way or that, Jim noted that the purple colouration darkened with age as the few children he did see where much paler and their eyes were a mid to dark blue instead of black.

It wasn’t too long until they reached their destination, what could only be the building where the Leader of these people lived or worked. It wasn’t the tallest building in the street but it fairly oozed power, wealth and importance. Stone front and intricately carved columns with what looked like gold and gems tastefully incorporated into the designs. The door was opened by yet another militaristic-looking native and they were all ushered in to the building and left in what Jim assumed was an ante-chamber with only two guards in the room with them. Unfortunately, no one knew how many there were stationed outside the room and as they hadn’t been treated badly so far, Jim thought it safe for them to stay and wait.

He did make sure that his Security Officers and himself were loosely surrounding the scientists and Bones though, just in case anything were to happen.

When nothing happened in the first ten minutes, conversations began to pick up and gain volume, changing from the hushed whispers of the walk here to normal banter between friends and colleagues.

“What do you think they’re going to do with us?” Bones asked as he sat down in the chair that Jim was leaning on the back of. Jim was keeping an eye on everyone in the room and bouncing what resembled a slightly small cantaloupe from hand to hand.

“And where did you get that…fruit from?”

“The fruit bowl under the painting of…something, it looks like something by Dali, but if he’d been an alien. It’s odd, too much pink and neon yellow.” Jim replied, twisting round so he could face Bones, hands stilling until the cantaloupe sat in his left hand.

“We’ll probably be brought before their Leader shortly, after that it could go so many ways. They could want to set up trade, blame us for desecrating a religious monument or place, try to sacrifice us to their God or Gods, have one of us marry a son or daughter, or any number of things. Those are just the most common situations that I’ve come across. Who knows what they’ll come up with though.”

It wasn’t too long before a non-soldier member of the purple skinned race came in through the door and motioned for them to follow him (or at least, Jim guessed it was a man due to the physical similarity this person had to the guards, but the outfit, was more gaudy than a two credit whore on a good night). They followed him down a long corridor taking the third right and rounding a couple more corners until they reached an extremely large door, much fancier than all the others that they’d walked passed so far and with what Jim would guess was writing carved into the stone around the arch of the door.

I wonder if Tolkien was one of this species hiding on Earth? Jim thought as the door was slowly opened and the room beyond came in to view.

Unlike the rest of the away team with him, Jim wasn’t overcome with awe at the sheer size of the hall and the conspicuous wealth of its owners. Instead he walked up to the bottom of the dais that three people were sitting at the top of and began speaking.

“I am Captain Kirk of the Federation ship Enterprise. Who are you and why have you had your people bring us here?” Jim said with all the authority of his rank.

All he got in reply was an incomprehensible babble from the middle person on the dais to who Jim assumed was an aide. Moments later the aide came back with a big clunky cuboid object and a table to put it on. Once it had been set up and the aide had bowed to the people on the dais and gone back to his station, the middle person spoke slowly, still an incomprehensible babble to Jim’s ears, but seconds later he could hear a bland male voice in the back of his head speaking to him.

“What you hear inside you is our device speaking for our Leader. Your group has violated the neutral territory. You are to tell us your names and which of Druvedges’ people sent you.”

Jim looked back to the rest of his group to see if it was just him or if the whole away team had just heard that. Seeing the bugged out eyes of a couple of people and Bones’ raised eyebrows (both of them this time) he surmised that it was everyone. Shrugging at Bones in response to Bones’ “what the fuck was that and how the fuck did they do that?!” expression, Jim faced the dais again and repeated most of what he had said before the device had been brought out.

“I am Captain James T. Kirk of the Federation ship Enterprise, with whom am I speaking?” Jim asked, natural curiosity mixing with his need to know as much as possible in order to protect his crew to the best of his ability.

Once again, the Leader spoke and almost immediately the bland male voice in the back of Jims’ head spoke up.

“Surely you know who I am? You are from Druvedges’ community, spying on us and claim to not know your opponents. In case you have become brain addled, I will tell you this once that I am Korsche, leader of both the town above and the city below.”

“I apologise on behalf of my team and I for trespassing on the neutral territory but as you can plainly see from our appearance as well as our clothing, we are clearly not from these parts. Also, we know of no one and nothing by the name of ‘Druvedge’, and nothing of this town above and city below that you say you are the leader of.” Jim said keeping eye contact with the Leader.

“Whilst you may speak the truth, you could also be spies or terrorists in disguise, very poor ones at that. Do you have any way of proving who you are?” The bland voice said with no inflections but Jim could read them from the way that Korshes’ eyes flickered over all of the away team and wrinkling in what was either confusion or disgust when his eyes landed on the female members of the away team, especially when he got to Bones and noted what he assumed to be marks of rank on her uniform.

“What do you need for us to do, take a test?” Jim snapped, a little irritated when Korsche’s upper lip curved in a sneer when he looked at them, Bones in particular.

Behind Jim, Bones let out a grunt which clearly said in Bones-speak “Don’t be an idiot, Jim.”

Jim inhaled sharply through his nose, closed his eyes, and then straightened as he spoke much more calmly than he was feeling after catching Korshes’ smirk.

“We are not spies, and we are not terrorists. I speak the truth, and I can give you proof of this but you would have to trust my team and I. Are you willing to trust us, to trust that I speak the truth and that we bear you and your people no ill will?”

Korsche appeared to be considering Jim’s reply when a quiet but obtrusive tinkling sound started up from a panel in the wall behind Korshe’s chair. Without even apologising to Jim and his team for having to go for a moment, Korsche got up and went to the panel (which turned out to be their version of a vid-screen), and spoke to the person comming him in hushed tones.

Once Korsche had finished the conversation and sat back down in his seat, now with a rather dissatisfied and annoyed expression on his face (not that most people would notice, Korche was after all a leader and trained diplomat, but Jim being both of these things as well, led him to notice more than the average person, to be frank, in a game of poker between the two of them, Korche wouldn’t stand a chance), the babbling that was his native tongue and the split-second later bland interpretors’ voice began again.

“It would appear that we have a situation here. Druvedge and his people have never heard of nor seen you before and demand that you be punished for breaking the Neutral Territory Agreement as he believes you and your team to have been spies from my communities. I have assured him that this is not so, but it leaves me with the problem of proving this to him and his people and stopping another outbreak in the feud. If you are who you say you are, a leader of people and a military man, then you will understand that whilst I may want to believe you, I cannot trust you until I am certain you pose no threat to my people. To this end I would like to ask you for this proof you offered earlier in the hopes of staving off a re-start of the feud.”

“Thank you for assuring this Druvedge that we mean no harm to his people, just as we mean no harm to yours. I assume that you have a manner of extracting blood?” At Korsches’ nod, Jim continued speaking. “In which case I volunteer myself for one of your Doctors to extract one vial of blood from me and compare it to that of your people to prove that I am indeed telling the truth, on two conditions,” Jim said calmly and with a completely neutral expression.

“My taking you up on this offer would depend one just what your conditions are. If it proves to be feasible, then I will accept it and call for my personal physician.” Came Korsche’s translated reply.

“The conditions are really quite simple. One, that you give your word that nothing will happen to my people whilst I’m not with them. The second would be that you allow my Chief Medical Officer, Doctor McCoy,” as Jim spoke he pointed to where Bones was standing behind him, “to accompany me and oversee the procedure, purely as a formality.” Jim said, his poker face set.

Korsche’s face momentarily twisted in distaste at the mention of Bones not only having rank but a very high one. He quickly managed to school his features in to his not quite perfect mask of neutrality though.

“I find these conditions…acceptable. I will have a comfortable waiting room prepared for your people to relax in and will personally pick members of the High Guard to watch over them whilst you are with the Doctors’. I take it that would be to your liking, Captain James T. Kirk?” Korsche replied.

“Thank you, that’s definitely acceptable.” Jim said with a slight smile.

With that the away team was lead to an even more splendid room than the one they had been waiting in before and only moment’s later two guards took Jim and Bones to the Medical Centre to draw the vial of blood and analyse it. The two of them were back in the waiting room within the hour having no complications with the procedure occur.

-*-*-

Glancing down at his wrist chronometer every couple of minutes didn’t make the time they were waiting go any quicker, but it did inform Bones that it had been forty three minutes since they had returned from the Medical Centre when they were yet again taken before these people’s leader, the cuboidal translator was all set up on its special table again, and a large table with enough seats for the whole away team had been placed in front of the dais where Korsche sat.

The away team seated themselves around the table, Jim in the centre and Bones to his left, while the rest of them spaced themselves out evenly.

“I have good news Captain James T. Kirk, the initial analysis of your blood has come back and it confirms what you said earlier. This is proof for both that old stick Druvedge and myself that you are neither spies nor terrorists and as such, we can begin proper talks between our peoples.” Korsche said in what could only be called a gleeful manner. He was practically bubbling over with joy at Jim’s blood being able to prevent a resuming of the feud that he’d mentioned before.

“I am thankful that my blood has prevented the feud that you mentioned from starting up again. Before we get into any talks between our peoples, I need to communicate with the rest of my people as my team was meant to check in over an hour ago and they’ll be getting worried and more of my people may breach your neutral territory unknowingly, when searching for my team and I.” Jim said, finishing up with a disarmingly friendly smile.

“By all means, you may use my communicator panel on the wall behind me if you can get the right frequency. We can’t have your people thinking mine have done something to you now, can we?” Korsche replied friendlily.

Jim nodded his head in thanks and walked over to it, fiddling with a couple of settings to get it to work how he wanted it to, and then hailed the Enterprise.

-*-*-

On the Bridge of the Enterprise

“Commander Spock, zere is a signal coming from the planet’s surface but I cannot determine its’ origin.” Chekov reported from his station to Spock who was sitting in the Captains’ chair. As Chekov spoke, his face scrunched up in confusion as he noticed something a little odd with the signal.

“It has a code embedded in it Sir…Sir! It has Keptin Kirks’ current ident code attached – it is a message from the Keptin!” He said excitedly, turning to Spock as he spoke.

As soon as Uhura heard the word ‘message’ she copied the signal to her station and began decrypting and de-coding it.

“Lieutenant, have you got the full message yet?” Spock asked.

“Almost Sir, it’s not particularly long but is in three different languages.” Uhura replied, the last part said with a raised eyebrow at the languages Kirk had used. Orion, Andorian and Latin weren’t usually mixed together, and the mixture sounded awful to her ears.

Moments later Uhura played the message on the main screen, the Captain’s face filled it almost completely, only the vague outline of a large room and pillars could be seen in what background had made it into the vid.

This is Captain Kirk, the away team and I were escorted to a town a few hours ago. We’re all perfectly fine. Doctor McCoy hasn’t had to treat anyone for anything. It might be a while before we leave this town and can be beamed up. I can’t see anything bad happening whilst we’re here, started off with a misunderstanding that was quickly sorted, now we’re just going through the diplomatic niceties and getting to know each other a little better. If this goes well, we may well have some new technology or at least the theories behind it for you Spock, and Scotty too, to have some fun with.” That part was accompanied by a fleeting mischievous grin.

“As I said, nothing to worry about at all, but it wouldn’t hurt to stand by for immediate beam out just in case. Kirk out.”

“That’s the whole message Commander.” Uhura said quietly from her place on the left side of the Bridge.

“Thank you Lieutenant. It would appear that the away team have been taken somewhere that our scans have not been able to detect. Ensign Chekov, where were the last readings of them taken?” Spock asked in his customary un-emotive manner.

“Aye Commander. Ze Keptin and away team vere last recorded as being here,” with that Chekov pulled up a scan of the region and placed little green dots representing each member of the away team in their last known position. “Approximately one hundred and sixty minutes ago they vere joined by a large group of other people, biological scans showed humanoid but no race zat we have come across before, and approximately nineteen minutes later their life signs disappeared, but not in a manner that suggested death, unconsciousness or injury. They just, wanished.” Chekov reported.

“Most disconcerting.” Spock mumbled to himself. “Ensign Chekov, you are to keep a watch for the return of any of their life sign’s and notify me the instant that occurs. Lieutenant Uhura, you are to monitor all frequencies for the Captains’ ident code in case he tries to contact us again.” He ordered calmly.

-*-*-

Jim sent his message, internally grinning at confusion he was sure he’d cause Uhura with the languages that he had used. When he returned to his seat at the table Korsche looked at him oddly.

“Surely you cannot have communicated with your people in such a short amount of time?” He asked Jim.

“I only needed to send a quick message, so not much time was needed.” Jim replied.

“Well that is all good then, now to our talks.”

“What is it that you would like to discuss, or were you wanting to negotiate trade or something more along those lines?” Jim asked.

“Right to the heart of the matter, I like that in a man Captain James T. Kirk.”

“Please, call me Captain Kirk or just Kirk, my full name’s a bit of a mouthful.” Jim said as he politely butted in on what Korsche was saying.

“As you wish, Captain Kirk. What I wish to discuss with you and your people is the business of the feud between Druvedge’s people and mine. I will give you more information in a moment, but frankly, we, Druvedge and I, strongly request that you, Captain Kirk, be the neutral third party in our cease fire and peace talks. You will be allowed to bring your woman with you,” as Korsche said this he glanced at Bones, “and a set number of guards, which will be the same number as both Druvedge’s and my parties will contain, and all of you will have to be unarmed, as will all of us.” Korsche said, tone completely neutral but the odd tic in his expression giving away how important this was to him.

“When and where would this peace talk be and why did the feud start in the first place?” Jim asked. “I will need to know the reason for it before I commit one way or the other.”

Sighing and shaking his head at having to dredge up his least favourite topic, Korsche slumped a little in his seat.

“Up until approximately one hundred and fifty five years ago we, the Parthracians, my people and Druvedge’s people, we were one. We lived in one large city some miles east of where we are now, and everything was good. Before then there had been disputes over who should inherit the leadership of the people but it had always been sorted out fairly and no hard feelings were harboured. Then along came G’thet and Levip.

Neither would back down from claiming leadership upon the death of the previous leader and both had completely valid claims, and they were both backed by a large number believing one not the other to be the true leader. Very swiftly, the arguments in council spilled over and into the everyday lives of the people. Within months the city was divided and violence had been committed by both factions. The acting leader, Trivian, declared that if neither would cede to the other, then neither were welcome in the city, effectively banishing them from their home.

G’thet and Levip left and formed their own communities and within weeks their supporters and families moved into the new communities with them. Within a year our fair city was empty and forgotten.

Over time both communities grew to spy on each other for technological advances. Before we had our cloaks, we mined out and enlarged two of the main cave systems below this town and created a city below where one of the cave systems was set up so that our scientists could work on their latest theories and discoveries and protect them from the spies and the other for the people to live in and thus help disguise our true numbers. It is an open secret that both communities ended up doing similar things to protect their discoveries and people but as far as we know, neither side has a complete map of the other’s city below.

Ever since the two communities were created we have fought over whose leader is the true leader of our people. It is only in the last eighteen months that Druvedge and I have been able to keep the spying and raiding to a minimum, and it is in that time that a majority of both of our communities have expressed a wish for the hostilities to be over and done with. The general consensus appears to be that the public don’t care if the communities merge or stay separate; they just want the fighting and suspicion to be over.

This is why we need you to join the talks, Captain Kirk, to show to our people that we’re serious about following their wishes and that neither side is taking advantage of the other.”

Jim was silent for a couple of minutes as he thought over everything he’d just heard and went over what he had seen of the people both in the town and inside this building.

None of the Parthracians had looked ill or poor and they all seemed to have a job or purpose, their Medical Centre was well stocked and the Doctors and Nurses well trained. The guards would fit in seamlessly with Starfleet Security personnel and their level of technology for a planet previously unknown to the Federation was astounding. If this was a fair representation of the whole community, then it would be in their best interests as well as those of Starfleet to help them negotiate a Peace Treaty, especially if the feud were to be restarted and their technology turned to armament instead of, well, whatever else it was they did.

“Leader Korsche, whilst I am…humbled that you think me worthy of helping you and your counterpart come to an amicable understanding and form a Peace Treaty, I hardly know you and most certainly don’t know this Leader Druvedge. I will need a little time to think this over and to confer with my colleagues. Would it be possible for us to be allowed in a room similar to the last one that we were in, but with a working communications panel?” Jim asked, his entire attitude screaming capable, caring and intelligent.

“Of course Captain Kirk, you will be taken to a room fitting your needs immediately.” With that the guards that Jim had begun to distinguish between escorted them all out to the aforementioned room.

The walk back to the room was filled with a silent conversation between Jim and Bones, conducted with eyebrow raises, shrugs and multiple other small facial manoeuvres. By the time they’d reached the room, they’d decided that as long as the talks took place in an area that the Enterprise could monitor, they were allowed to leave for their rendezvous with the Persephone (not that either Jim or Bones planned to tell Korsche about the other ship, just that they had a prior engagement that might take a couple of days, no lying there), and no other Senior Staff had any objections, they would accept and be the neutral party in the Peace Treaty talks for the Pathracians.

-*-*-

The long distance briefing went well and apart from expressing concern for their wellbeing between now and getting back to the Enterprise and working out which Security Staff to take with them, the Senior Staff still onboard the Enterprise agreed with Jim that aiding the Peace Talks was the right thing to do and that the stipulations that Jim and Bones had come up with should be perfectly reasonable.

Now they just waited to be called back to see Korsche again.

They didn’t have to wait long as a guard poked his head in to check on them, noticed the communication panel turned off, nodded and went to tell his leader that the newcomers were ready to talk again.

Only a couple of minutes passed between the guard leaving and two guards coming in to the away teams’ room carrying the translation device and one of Korsches’ aides walking in behind them.

“Leader Korsche wishes to hear Captain Kirks’ decision. If it is alright with you Sir, your people may stay here and rest whilst waiting for you as Leader Korsche does not want to annoy you or your people by making them walk back and forth between rooms for no reason. You can come with me now, yes? You have reached your decision, yes?” The aide asked, trying for a tone of importance but not quite hitting the mark.

As the aide was speaking, Jim nodded at Bones and stood up. Slowly walking over to the aide, making sure that he made no threatening moves as the aide looked a little scared when Jim got closer, Jim spoke.

“I have come to a decision and will tell Leader Korsche now if he isn’t too busy. My people will wait here and I will thank your Leader for his kindness in letting them rest. Today hasn’t exactly gone as planned for any of us.” He said with a slight wry grin over the last sentence.

“Follow me please.” With that the guards carrying the ‘bulky box of wonders’ as Jim’s brain had dubbed it, slowly walked out and back to the audience room, Jim and the aide following carefully behind them.

-*-*-

It wasn’t so much that Jim was no longer in the same room as Bones that got to him, Lord knows that Bones knows that Jim can handle himself if a fight broke out, it was more the waiting that got to him as well as the fact that he was now the Senior Officer in the away team, and a woman. The latter fact didn’t change the fact that everyone in the away team would follow his orders in lieu of their Captain being there to give them, but given what he’d observed about the attitudes of the Parthracians towards women – especially him as his uniform showed that he, a woman, had rank in a military organisation, albeit in a medical role – he was leery of being left without a Senior Officer to act as a buffer between him and the Parthracians. Being the Ranking Officer, albeit temporarily, left Bones feeling twitchy and uncomfortable, not that he was about to let it show to either the away team or the guards.

After being in the room for more than ten minutes without Jim and having investigated everything that looked interesting (the books were in a non-human language, which wasn’t really all that surprising, and paintings and sculpture weren’t really his thing), Bones was bored; bored and restless.

He was half way through outlining his report on this mission – nothing bad in getting ahead on the paperwork Bones thought to himself – when Jim and the two guards came back in, Jim with his big shit eating yes, I reallyam that awesome grin in place.

“Everyone pack up, we’re going back home.” Jim said. As soon as the words had left his mouth everyone suddenly bustled to life. It was surprising just how far a couple of items can be spread when in a new space.

Through the whirlwind of activity that was very soon over, Jim walked over to Bones and told him that he’d get the full run down of what went on back on the Enterprise, but basically, the Parthracians agreed to the stipulations and gave them a time and location to meet. Tomorrow. At four hours past sunrise.

I knew there was a reason to get ahead with the paperwork, Bones thought as they filed out of the luxurious room and began walking back through the maze that was the town halls’ halls, towards the town and the static shock inducing cloak around the edge of the town.

As they were walking back to the co-ordinates for the Enterprise to beam them up from, Jim turned to Bones.

“You were wrong about this mission, Bones.”

“What was I wrong about?”

“No one got injured. Not even me.”

Before Bones could reply, they were beamed up.

-*-*-

Three hours later, Enterprise: Captains’ Ready Room, Senior Staff meeting

The atmosphere in the Captains’ Ready Room was that of curiosity and intrigue. Everyone who had been on the Bridge when Jim’s message had come through was dying to know what had happened.

“What I want to know is why they let us go and why they trust us to turn up tomorrow?” Bones said, face set in what would previously have been a thunderous scowl, ever since being turned into a woman, his expressions had softened somehow and the aforementioned scowl was now a scowling pout.

That’s not to say that Bones’ expressions had lost any of their power, oh no, they just looked a little different now is all.

“They let us go because Leader Korsche didn’t want Leader Druvedge to think that he had had an undue influence on us, and they trust us to be there on time tomorrow because I gave my word that we would.” Jim said.

Various people around the table nodded at that, knowing that when their Captain gave his word that something would be so, then come hell or high water, he would keep his word.

“Captain, perhaps you could enlighten us as to what occurred on the planet and how it was that we were unable to detect you for so long despite there being no discernable “The details will be in my report and those of the rest of the away team. At approximately oh nine thirty Enterprises’ time we were accosted by a large group of soldiers and taken to their town. The town didn’t appear on any scans that the Enterprise had conducted other than as an unnatural electrical anomaly due to it being shielded by some form of cloaking device, and no, before anyone asks, I wasn’t able to get a hold of any of the technology or the blueprints for it, sorry for getting your hopes up,” that part was directed at Spock and Scotty whom Jim had half promised to acquire new “toys” for them, “we then began diplomatic talks with the leader of the people, they call the planet Parthrace and themselves Parthracians, which culminated in myself, Doctor McCoy, and a security detail being requested to come back tomorrow at four hours past sunrise planet time to be a neutral party in Peace Talks between Leader Korsche’s community and the community led by Leader Druvedge. I accepted the proposal to act as the third party and now we’re here.” Jim said, his summary of the day given clearly, concisely and quickly.

At the mention of working cloaking technology, both of Spock’s eyebrows raised marginally (which was the same as a humans’ jaw dropping in surprise) and Scotty’s eyes bulged and he was mumbling quietly to himself something about how he wanted the pretty, that he needed to see the shiny.

After a few more questions from around the room asking whether they could really trust the Parthracians and whether they should try and get them to join the Federation or not (this was ultimately shot down after the debate threatened to overrun the meeting and the fact that the Parthracians hadn’t asked to join, only asked for a small amount of help), the main conversation turned to which members of security should be included in the next day’s delegation. They had been given permission to bring up to six ‘guards’ with them, the same number as that of both Parthracian delegations.

Once the six security personnel had been picked and approved, the Senior Staff were all dismissed and left to get on with their varying daily tasks.

-*-*-

Jim, Bones and a security detail beamed down to the co-ordinates that had been given to them the day before and were greeted a couple of minutes later by the aides of both Leaders, both of whom were making almost identical sweeping and very obvious follow us motions.

As Jim started to walk over to them the rest of the team positioned themselves accordingly, Bones at his left and the security detail split up, two taking point and the other two taking rear guard. Despite being unarmed as per the agreement with the Parthracians, the security detail were determined to do all they could to defend the Captain

After what Bones’ wrist chronometer told him was seventeen minutes they walked through another one of the Parthracians shields and down a set of surprisingly well lit stone steps at the back of what looked to be a small cave. They were led down to a large non-natural room, three sides of which had a stone ledge jut out about twelve inches at Bones’ hip height, the fourth side was dominated by a hand crafted stone alter and statue. Time had worn away the most prominent features on the statue, leaving it a rather misshapen lump in Bones’ eyes.

In the centre of the room was a finely carved wooden table obviously dismantled and moved from its usual placing specially for this meeting. Only three sides of the table had chairs at them and in the centre was one of the big clunky cuboid translation devices like the one that had been in the meeting room of Leader Korsche.

Once everyone was seated (those from the Enterprise in the middle seats, Jim at the centre with Bones on his left again, Leader Korsche and his entourage on the left of the table and Leader Druvedge and his entourage on the right) and the preliminary pleasantries out of the way, the conversation turned towards that of sharing medical knowledge and finding a peaceful way to end the tensions and hostilities between the two factions and unite the race again.

The only problem was that every time Bones said anything even vaguely intellectual to the delegates of either side, the only response was a particular version of the patronising you don’t know what you’re talking about little lady look that he’d last seen directed at Eleanor Lincoln in second grade (their teacher, Mr. Coones, had been a real piece of work).

The delegates would only listen to Jim, even when he pointed out that Bones was the medical expert not him. After two hours of this (never let it be said that Bones let his temper get in the way when it really mattered) Bones picked up the PADD that Jim had brought with him, noted everything that he could think of that would be important to the meeting, passed it back to Jim, and excused himself from the meeting.

The Parthracian’s response was to request that Jim not let his female (the translator didn’t convey the implications Jim could hear in the tone that had been used by Lord Druvedge) stray more than fifteen meters from the cave entrance. Jim just looked at Bones and made a well what can I do? motion, Bones grimaced to himself and waked out and up the stairs in to the sunshine.

-*-*-

At least one of us can relax and enjoy the sun, Jim thought as he heard Bones walk up the stairs leading to the cave’s entrance. He shifted slightly in his seat to give the two leaders his full attention in an effort to keep from falling asleep or knocking their heads together and telling them to grow up.

Now I know I’m getting old, I’m thinking others should grow up thought Jim. If he could, he’d have banged his head on the table in front of him at the thought of getting old. As he couldn’t, he settled for an internal groan.

It seemed that it was just his presence that was needed, not actually his input, as the talks progressed. Jim wasn’t sure how long they’d been sequestered down here but his stomach was telling him it thought his throat had been cut.

After what felt like an entire day had passed and Jim’s legs were bouncing and burning with the need to move, both Dorsche and Kruvedge announced a “break for midday sustenance”.

Lunch hell yes.

Everyone else was getting up as if they’d been sitting on comfortably padded chairs and not solid, un-cushioned wood for a good few hours, Jim however, was carefully stretching out his legs and arms, wincing minutely at the pins and needles as sensation crept back into his extremities. Once he’d got up and the Parthracian entourages were mingling a little, Jim zeroed in on three Parthracians’ he’d not seen in the cave before. When he saw them depositing what appeared to be sandwiches and some form of soup or stew on a section of the ledge that ran around the room, he dismissed them as a threat but kept half an eye on them in case.

Before he could see what the sandwich fillings were, the room descended into chaos.

What the hell is going on?! Jim thought as the roof of the cave cracked and part of the doorway crumbled in immediately after the resounding “boom” of two nearby, almost simultaneous, explosions.

Before he could do more than stand up straight and note who was where in the room, good, Travers and Matthews are working with local security a group of five un-uniformed but well armed people stormed the room and shot at both Leader Druvedge and Korshe as well as Jim and a couple of other delegates.

Shit, Druvedge is hit bad. We need Bones in here, shit where is he? Oh no, he might have been attacked before they got here. Can’t think like that, got to keep focused. Got to stop them before they can shoot anyone else.

Whilst that was all running through his head, Jim ducked down so that the table hid him and crept around it slowly so that he was side on to the two attackers who’d come the furthest in to the chamber. He saw that Travers, one of Enterprise’s security team, and one of the Parthracian security forces were working together and looked like they were going to go for the two attackers at the entrance to the chamber. As they saw him he signalled what he was going to do and they nodded in acknowledgement. On a count of three they all jumped out at their targets, knocked their weapons out of their hands before they could shoot anyone else (Jim with a little more force than strictly necessary) and proceeded to tackle them down to the ground where other security personnel joined in the fracas and helped to tie them up.

None of them came out unscathed, but a collection of bruises and scrapes was much more preferable than the injuries they could have gotten if the attackers hadn’t been caught unawares.

Realising that they’d only taken down four of the five attackers Jim shot up and took off for the stairs, running passed the unconscious forms of the four guards who’d been stationed at the cave entrance, hoping to catch the last one before he could get away with the attack. Jim didn’t get very far before he saw the last guy on the ground out side the cave, his face down in the dirt and Bones tying his hands and feet together whilst a Parthracian security guard held the attacker down with a knee on the attackers’ back and hands on his shoulders.

“Bones, multiple injured downstairs, Druvedge is bleeding badly, some from the attacker’s ‘weapons and some from the rock falls caused by the explosions.” Jim had barely finished rattling off the information that he knew Bones’d be asking for when Bones grabbed his medi-kit and practically ran back into the cave.

Shaking his head and grinning a little at Bones being so…well, Bones, Jim regarded the captured attacker in front of him and helped the guard turn him over and drag him back down to the chamber to be questioned.

When they made their way back into the chamber and deposited the attacker in a corner under the supervision of security team of Parthracians and Enterprise personnel, Jim noticed Bones in the middle of the room looking ready to rip someone’s head off and shove it up their ass.

Apparently, even in critical medical situations such as they were in now that the attackers had been rounded up, the Parthracians couldn’t listen to a woman’s advice.

“ATTEN-TION!!!” Jim shouted in his most commanding tone. The one that fairly screamed “fuck with me and die”.

“You will follow my Chief Medical Officer’s directions otherwise the deaths of your Leaders and colleagues will be on your heads.” He informed the Parthracians in the room, already knowing that all of the away team personnel able to help out would be doing so.

“You expect us to take orders from a female?!” One of Korsche’s aides said in a most confused and startled tone.

“Yes.” Jim bit out. “Get to it!”

With that the able bodied Parthracians glanced from one to the other and decided that with Korsche unconscious and Druvedge not speaking against what Jim was ordering them to do, they could follow the female’s orders. With that they tentatively turned to Bones and began to follow her directions. If anyone were to question their actions later, they could always say that they were just working in the best interests of their Leaders and that just happened to coincide with what the female was telling them to do.

Almost immediately, Bones took charge and started issuing orders as if he were in Sickbay. Whilst he treated Korsche, Bones gave instructions to those working on the other seriously wounded, luckily there was only one other and Jim had had experience of treating injured people, mostly himself, but hey, experience counts no matter where it’s gained, right?

-*-*-

After what felt like an age, all of the critically injured had been made as stable as they could be made and emergency medics from the nearest medical centre had arrived and were carefully manoeuvring the patients into vehicles to take them back to the centre for further treatment.

Damn it, I wish we could’ve beamed up to Sickbay, then I’d know they’ll be alright. At least they’re still all alive, it was touch and go for a while, but thankfully enough people were willing to take orders from a woman at this, Bones snorted out loud, meaning enough hands were available for everything that came up, Bones thought to himself as he watched the last of his patients get carried out.

Whilst the patients had been carefully taken away, the captured ‘terrorists’ had been removed to a very secure prison but with no where near the care that the injured had received.

“Doctor McCoy. I would like to apologise for not trusting that you knew what you were doing. You obviously do and we are forever in your debt for saving the lives of our people. The speed with which you managed to sort everyone out and get treatment for all those injured was astounding. Surely without your skills we would be preparing for more than one funeral. Thank you.” Leader Druvedge said to Bones from where he was resting against the opposite wall. Their eyes met and despite the lack of pupils in Parthracian eyes, Bones could tell that Druvedge truly meant what he had said.

Bones’ eyebrow raised and he straightened up from the half crouch he was in.

“Apology accepted, Leader Druvedge. I hope my skills keep your people alive long enough for your own Doctors to heal them completely.” Bones replied. Druvedge smiled slightly at that, stood up and walked over to where Jim was talking to an Ensign in the doorway.

-*-*-

“Captain Kirk, this may seem crass of me, but after a short break we need to get back to working on the Peace Treaty. Sk’ril can stand in for Korsche. I would also like to assure you and your team that neither I, nor any other Parthracian involved in these talks knows just who our attackers were nor where they came from. My educated guess would be that they’re part of a small faction that don’t want peace between the two communities. I have already sent word to both my office and Korsche’s for our assailants to be investigated and my security tell me that all of the captives will be very closely guarded.” Druvedge said, looking Jim straight in the eyes.

“It is crass but I can see why it’s needed. Thank you for your assurances about the captives. Are you sure you wouldn’t like us to take them off of your hands for you?” Jim asked.

“Whilst I would love to hand them over to you and never have to see them again, my people, not just my community but all of Parthrace, would be disgusted in us if we just handed over some of our own to people we barely know. Thank you for the offer though.” Druvedge said, a wry smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.

“In which case, shall we break for one hour and let everyone calm down and clean up and continue after that? I’d imagine that we could only write a preliminary Peace Treaty today as the situation stands. When would you like us to come back to sign and witness it?” Jim asked, walking back in to the chamber as he spoke, Druvedge walking with him.

“Unless a Doctor informs me any differently and we manage to get a preliminary copy hammered out today, I would suggest that your people, everyone who is here today and their partners if they have them, come back in ten sun cycles for the signing and celebration.” Druvedge said after taking a couple of moments to ponder over his reply.

“That sounds fair. One hour and we’ll all be back in here.” Jim stated, helping a bruised aide stand up as he spoke.

The rest of the afternoon went off without a hitch, not even so much as a misplaced document nor too many seats broken for the number of remaining delegates to have a seat each.

-*-*-

When they got back to the Enterprise and had been officially checked over in Sickbay and written up their individual reports for the mission, Jim and Bones found themselves in Jim’s quarters, a bottle of bourbon open, an old vid playing that they’d watched to death during hungover Sunday afternoons back at the Academy, chatting about anything and everything. Whenever there was a silence, it wasn’t uncomfortable and eventually, once they had both wound down from the stress and adrenaline rushes of the day, they fell asleep on the sofa together.

-*-*-

In the days after the Parthracian Peace Treaty had been outlined, it was the first set of the yearly medicals for a third of the crew and Bones had his hands full trying to schedule physicals around rotas for hundreds of people. Luckily his staff helped out and very quickly they had it all sorted out and anyone who tried to weasel their way out of it hastily found themselves rethinking it when they heard their name coming out of the ship-wide comm. system from a politely pissed off member of the medical staff.

Fortunately for Jim, his medical wasn’t scheduled for this batch. He pitied the people that tried to get out of theirs when it was Bones they were scheduled to see. He knew from experience just how much a hypospray could hurt when the person giving it to you was annoyed with you.

Jim found himself almost as busy as Bones and getting very little sleep during the last few days leading up to the meeting with the USS Persephone and her Captain and CMO. He didn’t want to give the impression that he couldn’t handle his commission, that he deserved it despite his age, and to that end he was chasing up every late report and every single last upgrade and update that should be being worked on and wasn’t quite yet done; and that was on top of making sure that the evacuees were alright, that they had everything they needed and were all set to be sent over to the Persephone and taken back to Earth.

Work output nearly doubled for the next four days despite the yearly medicals being done as no one wanted to disappoint their Captain and certainly didn’t want to give anyone the impression that they weren’t every bit the best in Starfleet as was befitting of its flagship.

-*-*-

2258.251, The Bridge

“Captain, we’re being hailed, both audio and video. It’s the Captain of the USS Persephone.” Uhura said, her clear voice carrying across the bridge.

“Put it up on the screen, Uhura.” Jim replied, body tensing in anticipation of the imminent conversation and the meeting it would lead to.

“This is the USS Persephone and I am its Captain, Robert Lifton. We are ready to receive the evacuees when you are ready to send them on over.” Captain Lifton said from his chair on the bridge of his ship. He carried himself in a manner that told you that he was used to giving and not receiving orders from anyone his equal or lesser and that the orders that he did give, he expected to have followed immediately. The hair at his temples was going grey and starting to spread along his hairline.

“We’ll be sending the evacuees by transporter in batches starting in half an hour, so long as that’s alright with you and your crew, Captain?” Jim said, every bit the Commanding Officer that was used to having his orders followed because those ordered to, wanted to and not because they were forced to do so.

With his authoritarian yet nonchalant attitude, Jim seemed to have managed to annoy Captain Lifton in just one sentence, as was evidenced by Lifton’s minute frown and the clenching of his jaw.

“I take it that your transporters are working again then?” Lifton asked, his tone as if he were talking about the weather and his face gave nothing away, yet the undertone of just what kind of Captain are you, letting situations like that occur under your command? came through loud and clear.

Bristling with indignation at the implication that not only was he useless but that his crew didn’t know what they were doing, Jim swallowed back his first retort (“Fuck you and the horse you rode in on, Lifton”> and rose from his chair, stood at ease and replied.

“That they are. They were fully operational within forty eight hours of the malfunction having been discovered. Are the evacuees to be transported to the Persephone’s transporter room or is a different destination being used?”

“To the transporter room. We’ll take them from there.” Lifton replied, his minute frown growing ever so slightly at Jims’ retort.

“Understood. I’ll inform my Transporter Chief the second we’ve finished arranging everything.” Jim replied, his friendly-but-fake grin in full evidence.

“Tell him now. We still need to discuss the arrangements for my CMO to examine yours. Do you want to take this to ready rooms or keep it on the bridge?” Lifton asked, his own diplomatic-but-not-real smile plastered on.

“Let’s take it to ready rooms. I don’t know about you, but I don’t talk about my crews’ health in front of the rest of my crew, let alone unknown members of other ships.” Jim said coldly.

“Acknowledged. See you in three minutes, Captain Kirk.” Lifton replied, relaxing minutely when Jim showed that he put his crew above his need for one-up-man-ship.

With that, both the Enterprise and Persephone’s view screens went blank. Jim quickly relayed the destination of the evacuees to the ranking officer on duty in the transporter room and walked briskly to his ready room.

Jim was determined that Bones would not be treated like some form of circus freak by this Dr. Trent (not that Jim thought he would outwardly or officially do so, but he didn’t want to take any chances), and decided that he’d go on the polite-offensive with Lifton. Taking a couple of calming breaths as he sat in his ready room chair, he turned on his personal vid screen to Captain Lifton’s serious face. Without letting Lifton get a word in at all, Jim began speaking.

“Having spoken to Doctor McCoy and read the medical report on his status –”

“Don’t you mean her status?” Lifton butted in.

“No, I mean his. Doctor McCoy is a man literally trapped in a woman’s body. Until every avenue has been explored and turned up negative, who knows when we’ll be able to give him his real, male, body back? Just because a technological accident caused his body to become female, doesn’t mean that his personality, memories, attitude or views on life suddenly became feminine.” Jim said clearly and vehemently. Lifton made no move to continue his interruption.

“As I was saying, having spoken to Doctor McCoy and read the medical report on his status, I would say that which ship the examination takes place on most likely wouldn’t matter to him, but in the interest of maintaining a certain level of calm and not making Doctor McCoy feel like a prize dog on show, I would suggest that your CMO – it is Trent, isn’t it? – performs his examination onboard the Enterprise. If he needs or wants to bring any equipment with him, that’s perfectly fine – just let the crew in my transporter room know what to expect.” Jim said.

“I see no reason why that should be a problem. I will of course be checking with Doctor Trent before I confirm it with you. Providing that he is agreeable, what time should I send him over?” Lifton enquired.

“It’s fourteen thirty-seven at the moment, I’m guessing that he’s either part way through a shift or about to start one, right?” Jim asked.

“Part way through.” Lifton replied.

“It would make sense for him to come aboard – assuming he has no problems with that – at the start of his next shift, just in case his examination of Doctor McCoy takes longer than he estimates.” Jim suggested.

“That sounds fine. I’ll run it by him and send you a message at the end of the shift.” Lifton replied.

“Understood. Kirk out.” With that, Jim signed off of the comm. system and stayed staring at the blank vid screen, whole body tensing up at the thought that in less than a day he could be told by a Doctor that he’d never met before, that Bones, his best friend, his only best friend ever, was being recommended for transfer back to Earth.

Fuck it all. It’s not going to happen and if it does, I’m not going to let it go through. Jim thought to himself, finally relaxing and slumping back in to his chair for a couple of moments before walking back to the Bridge.

“Spock, you have the conn. I’m going to escort our guests off of Enterprise.” Jim said.

“Understood, Captain.” Came Spocks’ reply.

Forty three minutes later (yes, Jim was keeping count) Jim received a message from Captain Lifton stating that Dr. Trent had no problems with Jim’s suggestions and that he was looking forward to meeting Dr. McCoy.

-*-*-

“Captain, before I leave, I would like to add my thanks to those of my colleagues for you and your crews’ generosity. You went out of your way to include us and make us feel welcome and not like a burden. I have only the highest of respect and regard for everyone on the Enterprise that I have met and I will tell anyone who asks that Starfleets’ flagship is in the best of hands.” Dr. Lockley told Jim as he stood at the base of the transporter, about to be beamed over to the Persephone.

“Thank you Doctor, that’s very kind of you. I’ll make sure to tell my crew that they’ve been doing a great job. It’s nice to know that someone’s judging us on our skills not our ages.” Jim replied with a smile, shaking Dr. Lockley’s hand firmly as he stepped backwards on to the transporter pad.

Seconds later Dr. Lockley and the last of the evacuees from the research facility were beamed aboard the USS Persephone.

Almost before the transporter pads had returned to normal, the front most one flared up again and in a swirling beam of light a single man in a blue medical uniform and the rank of Commander on his sleeves appeared.

“Doctor Trent, I presume.” Jim said, stepping forward to greet the newcomer and giving him a once over, taking in the serious yet approachable expression on his face and the confident stance.

“That would be me.” Trent replied, smiling a little.

“Captain Kirk, I wish we could have met under better circumstances, not that circumstances are bad per se, just, not the best to meet new people under.” Jim said, introducing himself and finding himself replying to Trent’s smile with a small one of his own.

So long as he doesn’t fuck up whilst he’s here, I think he’d be a good guy to have onboard. Jim thought as he shook hands with Dr. Trent.

“Oh? What circumstances would they be?” Trent asked, thinking that something had happened since he’d been informed of Dr. McCoy’s predicament.

“You being called in to check that our CMO’s still fit for duty. I’ve been finding out recently that my crew’s a little more protective of it’s Senior Staff than I’d previously realised.” Jim said with a proud look on his face and lips twisted in a wry grin.

As they were talking, Jim steered them to the nearest turbo lift, setting it to take them to the nearest exit to Sickbay.

“Permission to speak freely, Captain?” Trent asked as the turbo lift doors closed on them.

“Permission given, Doctor.” Jim replied, wondering where this was leading.

“From the ships I’ve worked on, the ones where the crew gives a damn about each other were the best crews I’ve worked with and the ones that got through the bad as well as the good together. If you say your crew’s like this, then you’ve got a rare thing going for you, Captain.” Trent said, looking Jim straight in the eye as he did so.

“Thank you Doctor, I appreciate it.” Jim said, slightly shocked.

The turbo lift stopped and as the doors began to open Jim spoke again, shock replaced by a smile and genuine friendliness.

“And this would be your stop, Doctor. I hope your stay here, short as it will be, isn’t too painful.”

“So do I, Captain.” Trent replied. With that he stepped out of the turbo lift and walked across the corridor into Sickbay.

-*-*-

The second that Dr. Trent walked in to Enterprises’ sickbay and he was confronted by this medical teams’ version of organised chaos, he smiled slightly to try and cover his conflicting feelings of familiarity and displacement. He took a couple of moments to orientate himself and looked over the people nearest him to find someone who’d be able to direct him to Dr. McCoy.

After a moment or two Trent noticed two nurses, one blonde and one brunette, off to his right in a corner having a quick conversation. As he walked over he noticed the nurses’ body language shift from friendly to tense as the brunette nurse noticed him and said something to her companion, walking off a second later. As the brunette nurse walked passed she smiled politely at him, the smile didn’t reach her eyes though, and continued on her way to the main area of the Sickbay.

“I’m sorry for intruding on you, but I was wondering if you could direct me to Doctor McCoy? I’m Doctor Trent, I’ve come over from the USS Persephone to examine he- … Doctor McCoy.” Trent asked, sticking his left arm out in order to shake her hand.

As he spoke he noticed the nurses’ expression become distant, colder, still professional yet more reserved.

“Nurse Chapel.” She said as she shook his hand. “I can take you to him, Doctor.” With that she began walking over to an out of the way biobed with a privacy screen half set up around it. When they reached the bed there was a tall brunette woman with the rank markings of a Lieutenant Commander at her wrists.

“Doctor McCoy, this is Doctor Trent. He’s here to conduct your examination.” Chapel told the tall brunette who now had a mild scowl on her face that was at full power, which Trent thought would probably be able to stop a Klingon dead in his tracks.

“Thank you Christine. The inventory of the anti-bacterials needs re-doing after the mess up last shift.” Doctor McCoy said, appraising Doctor Trent as he gave out his order.

“Yes Doctor. I’ll leave you two to it then.” Chapel replied, some warmth entering her voice as she spoke to Doctor McCoy. As she walked away from them she pulled the privacy screen all the way around the biobed.

-*-*-

Bones continued to look over Dr. Trent as Chapel left them, staring him right in the face as Trent put his medi kit down on the end of the ‘bed. Before Trent could say anything Bones took a step forward, keeping her eyes on him, and spoke.

“Let’s get something very clear before we get any further. Normally, I couldn’t give a rats ass about rank and its politically backstabbing ways, but as we’re both CMOs in our own right,” at this, Bones’ expression dared Trent to reply negatively, “and you have a higher Starfleet rank but aren’t on your own ship, I thought we should get Chain of Command sorted out in case a situation occurs whilst your our guest on Enterprise.” Bones said, pausing to take a breath and see if Trent was going to kick up a fuss. When he didn’t say anything or even look annoyed, Bones’ expectations of him rose a little.

“Whilst we’re in Sickbay, I’m in charge. You aren’t. Unless a military situation occurs in here, not even Captain Kirk outranks me in Sickbay, so you definitely do not. At best, you are to act as my deputy unless otherwise ordered. Outside of my Sickbay, onboard Enterprise, I don’t give a rats ass what you do or how you expect to be treated, so long as you don’t end up in here injured. Is this clear?” Bones said, eyebrow raised at the lack of interruptions.

“That seems reasonable Doctor McCoy. If the rest of your staff acts like the two nurses that I’ve met so far, I doubt they’d listen to my orders if it weren’t a life threatening situation anyway. Not that they were unprofessional at all, just, not as friendly towards a superior officer as one would expect.” Trent added as he noticed Bones’ expression darken. “They seem very loyal to you.” Trent responded, his expression neutral as he accepted the terms as they had been laid out to him.

“Then let’s get this unpleasant experience out of the way then.” Bones said as he hopped up on to the biobed.

-*-*-

Four hours into Alpha shift, 2258.251, Captain’s Ready Room

All of the evacuees had been beamed aboard the USS Persephone and were, as far as Jim had been informed, being treated well. Dr. Lockley had sent copies of a few messages that his people had sent to Starfleet regarding their stay on the Enterprise and Jim was making his way through them in between his duties as Captain. If Jim hadn’t seen them with his own eyes, he wouldn’t have believed that every single one of the reports praised his crew, commended them on their hospitality and adaptability as well as those who had met Bones saying that they felt no reason for removing him from the Enterprise as he was a perfectly competent Doctor and officer. Every single last one of the reports contained some variation of that.

Jim was so damn proud of his crew.

When he had read through them all and still hadn’t been interrupted by anyone needing him, Jim began outlining his report to Starfleet on the handing over of the evacuees and other shipboard happenings, ending it for the moment, with a diplomatically phrased refusal to have anyone other than Bones as CMO on Enterprise.

Before Jim could even put the PADD down on his desk, the door chime to his Ready Room was activated.

“Come in,” he said. The door opened to reveal both Dr. McCoy and Dr. Trent. They walked in and sat in the seats opposite Jim, Trent letting Bones pick a seat and sit first.

“Doctor Trent, I’m going to assume that you’ve finished your examination of Doctor McCoy as you’re both here.” Jim said, looking Trent straight in the face, internally worried about what Trent may have found but showed none of it in his expression.

“I have. I thought I would save time and tell the two of you together as I’m not going to have to go into any details that would breach confidentiality.” At that, both Jim and Bones raised eyebrows. “To be perfectly honest Sir, I can’t find anything that would suggest that Doctor McCoy had been born a man, and I doubt that anything will be found in future examinations that would say that was the case.” Trent told them.

“As such, I see no reason why I shouldn’t recommend that Doctor McCoy stay onboard Enterprise as her Chief Medical Officer.” Trent concluded.

Shock and relief were equally etched on both Jim and Bones’ faces, but Jim regained control of his expressions first.

“Thank you for that Doctor Trent, as you can probably imagine, that’s the good news that we’ve been waiting for.” Jim said, standing up and going over to Trent to shake his hand.

With relief still visible on his face, Bones turned to Trent.

“Thank you Doctor. It’s a relief to know I’m not going to suddenly find myself stuck halfway between the old me and the new me or some other big ol’ mess.” Bones said, his accent slipping a little at the end due to relief.

After a few more minutes talking and comming Captain Lifton to tell him his CMO was free to go back ‘home’, the three of them left the Ready Room and got in the turbo lift. Bones left them when they got to Sickbay whilst the Jim and Dr. Trent continued on to the Transporter Room where Jim personally saw the Persephone’s CMO back to her.

-*-*-

Bones’ situation must have been more important to the Admirals than Jim had realised as not even twenty four hours had passed from Trent’s courtesy message informing Jim that he’d sent his report back to Starfleet and a message flagged as important popping up on Jims’ PADD.

Despite having had two well trained, highly regarded medical professionals inform him that there was no medical reason for Bones to be removed from his position as CMO and from Enterprise herself, Jim couldn’t help but open the message with some trepidation.

-*-*-

Four decks down and multiple sections over, Bones was in his office sending off requests to Engineering for someone to come in and have a look at two biobeds whose sensors had gone completely out of whack. Something had happened to make them register all organic material (humans, broccoli, and leather boots were just the first three ‘organic samples’ tested by an over zealous and frankly, rather bored, Nurse) as a heavily pregnant female Klingon.

You can see why Bones wasn’t in the best of moods when he received a message flagged as important from Starfleet’s Admirality.

-*-*-To: Captain J. T. Kirk, USS Enterprise

RE: Status of Lt. Cmdr. Dr. Leonard McCoy MD. PhD.

Captain Kirk,

Upon receiving the medical report and examination notes from Dr. Trent of USS Persephone and taking the report filed by Dr. Harris of USS Enterprise into consideration as well, it has been decided that Dr. McCoy of USS Enterprise shall retain the commission and position currently held, but with certain conditions. Said conditions are outlined below and are in the communication sent to Dr. McCoy regarding the status of aforementioned commission.

• Dr. McCoy will be subject to a minimum of one medical examination every four weeks, in addition to those carried out pre and post away missions, for a period of no less than one earth year.

• If anything anomalous is found during one of these medical examinations that is not explained by an injury or illness that is logically reasonable for Dr. McCoy to have gained/contracted, Dr. McCoy shall be removed from duty and put under medical restriction until said anomaly has been analysed fully and an explanation found.

• In a situation where no explanation is found for an anomaly, Dr. McCoy will be sent back to Earth for own sake in order to try and fix and understand said anomaly.

It should also be noted that our decision was aided by the multiple reports that we received from the Researchers that you evacuated, all stating that not only did they find your crew to be very capable, adaptable and willing to go out of their way to help strangers out, but that if they hadn’t been informed of Dr. McCoy’s predicament, they would never have guessed that Dr. McCoy wasn’t a natural woman. This showed us that Dr. McCoy has a healthy attitude towards this and that is most important.

Over the course of the last ten days we have amassed a large amount of reports and personal messages from members of your crew regarding the situation with Dr. McCoy. Whilst they were not individually taken into consideration when deciding on Dr. McCoy’s fate, the quantity of them ranging from diplomatically informing us that they wish to have Dr. McCoy remain CMO of Enterprise and citing logically thought out points, to flat out refusing to work on a ship that doesn’t have Dr. McCoy as CMO and that if we were to ‘pull’ Dr. McCoy from Enterprise, they would resign their commissions, showed that your crew is indeed very adaptable if they are willing to go to such lengths to aid a man who now has the body of a woman.

At first we believed that either you or your Senior Officers were leaning on the crew to send these, but from the varying tones of the messages and persons sending them, we now believe each of them to be acting alone. Well done Captain, you have a crew that is loyal unto itself, not many Captains and Senior Officers can generate that kind of loyalty in an entire crew.

Do not forget the conditions attached to Dr. McCoy remaining you CMO, Captain.

Admiral Barnett

Holy shit! Jim thought as he re-read the communication a second time. Bones is officially staying here!! No one was around to witness their Captain’s shit eating grin nor the little dance of joy he did when it sank in that they’re letting Bones stay.

Once the joy that the message from Admiral Barnett had cooled down to more manageable levels of relief and happiness, Jim found himself feeling so damn proud of his crew and their loyalty to Bones.

I wonder if I could get our next shore leave extended a day or two, they’ve earned it. Jim thought to himself as he left his Ready Room and went to Sickbay to see Bones.

-*-*-<?p>

Bones was both shocked and elated. According to the message in front of him, he was being allowed to keep his commission and position on board Enterprise. The increased number of medicals was an annoyance that he’d grin and bear when the other choice was to be sent back to Earth like a Christmas toy no longer wanted or a dog who couldn’t be trained.

He was still staring at the message on his PADD when Jim walked in to his office.

“We’re keeping you Bones, they’re not taking you from us.” Jim said as he flopped into the seat across from Bones, the great big shit eating grin back in force.

“So it would seem. I just hope they don’t decide to retract their decision a couple of months down the line.” Bones said in a slightly disbelieving tone.

“They can’t, not unless something really awful happens to you. Think about it, the rest of the Fleet won’t trust them if they go back on their word to Senior Staff of their flagship. They just can’t.” Jim said sincerely. No way in hell was Jim going to let the Admirals go back on their word now that they’d given it.

Bones sank back in his chair, a rare smile creeping over his face making the now feminine features soften and relax, which in turn caused Jims’ stomach to do weird things. Ignoring the sudden strange feelings taking over his body, Jim smiled back and relaxed into his chair, feeling as if all was right in the universe; that he could take on the entire Klingon armada singlehandedly and win, giving Bones something to moan about whilst he treated him for his scrapes.

After talking for a little while about what they’d like to do on their next shore leave, they made plans to meet in the mess hall for dinner the next night, both unofficially pulling double shifts to keep everything on an even keel, and went back to their respective stations for the remainder of the shift.

-*-*-

None of the away team were in their dress uniforms, but they had all made the extra effort to look the part of Officials presiding over a momentous occasion. Before them were the specific diplomatic teams for both Parthracian communities assigned to their Leaders for this purpose, the creation and signing of a Peace Treaty between both communities with additional provisos for the sharing of medical knowledge.

In order to prevent one side from appearing weaker to the less eager members of their communities, the neutral party from the Enterprise signed the Peace Treaty as witnesses to the creation of the Treaty and after both Parthracian Leaders had signed it, they would all once again sign it as witnesses of the signatures.

As Jim put the old fashioned quill down next to the ceremonial pot of ink, he felt a sense of achievement as not only had he helped create peace between two alien communities, but he’d also, in a small way, helped to show them that women are just as important as men. That you shouldn’t judge based on gender, rather on capability, personality and expertise.

As the small crowd gathered around them cheered, all three parties shared similar smiles of accomplishment. When the cheering had died down and the crowd began to disperse, all of the members of the delegations, Security teams and Officers and Leaders alike, walked over to the large pavilion that had been set up to hold the celebratory feast. Drinks were passed out as they walked in through the opening and general chit chat filled the air. It wasn’t until both Leaders’ Korsche and Druvedge made their way up to their seats at the head of the room that anyone began to quieten down and sit.

-*-*-

Each course of the meal had had a speech made at the beginning of it by one of the three delegation leaders. Jim was just thankful that his had been first and was now out of the way. Korsches’ had been short out of necessity, the poor fellow had barely finished healing from his injuries and was still prone to exhaustion from long bouts of standing.

As Druvedge wound up his speech about acceptance and learning from those with similar but different views on life, Bones realised that maybe he’d had more alcohol than his new body could cope with in such a public setting. Once Druvedge had sat down and the desserts were being served up, Bones leant over to Jim and began whispering.

“I’m going t’go get some fresh air, clear m’head a little. I probably shouldn’t have had that last, whatever the heck it was, fruity alcohol filled thing, made m’head go all fuzzy. I’ll be back in a few minutes, Jim.” Bones slurred a little as he whispered, accent more noticeable than normal.

“Don’t go far Bones, wouldn’t want anything to happen to you.” Jim whispered back, smiling a little at Bones’ accent slipping.

“‘M’not a child, I know not to go far in unknown terr’t’ry.” Bones said as he got up from his chair and walked slowly but steadily out through the nearest door-flap in the pavilion.

Jim was so intent on watching Bones walk away and everyone else was focused on having a good time that no one noticed one of the younger Parthracians’ slip out of the pavilion as well.

-*-*-

Bones was leaning against a tree in bud and watched the stars through its’ mostly bare branches. He found himself thinking about how strange it is that on board Enterprise, or any other spaceship for that matter, he’s down right petrified of seeing the black of space and the stars and planets all around him through the portholes and view screens. Yet whilst on a planets’ surface, he found it enthralling watching the stars wink in and out of sight and the heavenly bodies move to a dance that only they knew. He supposed it was because from down here, they all seemed so far away and like parts of stories his mother used to read to him at bedtime, but up there with them, in amongst the fiery balls of gas, asteroids and planets, they were real and any minute deviation from their set patterns could spell death and destruction for all living beings caught in their wake.

Shaking his head to cast off such thoughts, Bones sighed to himself and wrapped his arms around himself as much for warmth as for comfort. He hadn’t allowed himself to think too much about what having a female body meant to him or to other people passed the fact that it had happened and he had to re-learn how to balance properly as anything more that that he was pretty certain would lead to a freak-out of some sorts followed by actually having to accept that for the foreseeable future, he is a woman, complete with working female genitalia and a complete lack of manhood.

As Bones shuddered at the thought that maybe, just maybe, there wasn’t a cure, that he really was stuck as a woman, he felt another body next to him, hand reaching for his shoulder. Bones started turning towards the person, assuming it was Jim, but when he saw the purple skin highlighted by the moon, Bones hastily took a couple of steps away from the other person.

“Didn’t your ma ever tell you that sneakin’ up on people just isn’t right?” Bones said, taking another step back and realising for the first time, that maybe drinking alcohol when he obviously didn’t know this body’s limits, at a very public event in unfamiliar territory, wasn’t the best of ideas.

“Aw, there’s no need to be shy little lady. We’re all having fun now that there’s peace.” The unknown guy said, walking towards Bones as he spoke.

“M’not shy, just don’t really need or want any company at the moment, thank you.” Bones replied, back up some more when the guy didn’t stop coming towards him, but remaining polite as he vaguely recognised him as one of Leader Korsches’ sons from the introductions earlier in the festivities.

“No one wants to be alone at a celebration, and one a lady pretty as you shouldn’t be left alone. Might give people, ideas.” The Parthracian leered as he finally got close enough to Bones to pull him in by his shoulders.

Bones’ upper body strength was lower than he was used to having and his reaction times had been slowed by the alcohol, so he didn’t immediately push the male Parthracian off of him. Instead, at the unwelcome touch and movement, Bones instinctively stiffened up in fear of what could be about to come. Then some part of him that sounded suspiciously like Jim, told him to get the fuck away now, and fuck fighting fair! As Bones’ head tilted up to keep eye contact with the Parthracian, he lifted his right leg and knee’d his assailant in the groin and, bringing his foot down sharply, he stamped on his assailants’ foot.

When the Parthracian let go of Bones in shock, Bones turned and fled, not getting very far before he ran into a solid wall of flesh. Fearing that his assailant had brought backup, Bones reared back to punch the new person, but stopped mid swing when he noticed the gold Starfleet uniform of the new person.

“Jim?!”

“Stay here, I’ll deal with him.” Jim said, his eyes as hard as stone and the colour of gunmetal as he stalked over the doubled up Parthracian who was mumbling curses on Bones and his family for the next twenty generations in a very high pitched voice.

“How dare you do that to the person who saved your fathers’ life? How dare you do that to my Bones?” Jim hissed out quietly, his voice sounding all the more intimidating for being so calm and cold when most people would have been shouting and swearing if they’d come across a situation such as this one.

When Jim didn’t get a reply immediately, he hauled the guy upright and repeated what he’d said, staring the Parthracian in the face as he did so, making as if to beat an answer out of him when he took too long to answer the second time around.

That is Doctor McCoy? I’m so sorry, I meant no offence. Please don’t hurt me. I swear it won’t happen again, I don’t know what came over me. I’m so sorry.” The now-injured and embarrassed Parthracian squeaked out.

Jim shoves guy away in disgust and starts in on the guy about how forcing women is wrong, how no man with any shred of decency would even think about doing something like that, but Bones beats him to it. Walking up so that he stands just behind Jims’ right shoulder, Bones cocks his head to the right in an unconscious imitation of Jim and speaks.

“Tonight’s the first time I’ve seen the women of your community out in public, and despite how your society doesn’t view females as equal to males, I’ve seen plenty of women, both spoken for and single, reject the advances of men they didn’t want the advances of and no harm come to them. How am I any different? Don’t I have the same right to refuse the advances of any man, anyone, I don’t want the advances of like your women?” Bones said, clearly but getting heated as he continued.

“I don’t remember giving you or anyone here that I don’t already know, the impression that I wanted more than friendship at most, so what gives you the right to try and force me?” Bones spat out.

“I…I…I don’t know what came over me. I really don’t. I just saw you by the tree and you looked so beautiful. I’m sorry. I swear, by all I hold dear, I’ve never done anything like this before and I never will again. I’m sorry, so sorry. Please don’t kill me.” The Parthracian babbled, scared that Jim was going to kill him over the incident Dr. McCoy who was clearly spoken for by the Captain, even if neither of them realised yet.

“I won’t kill you, but what to do with you, isn’t up to me. You did this to Bones, to Doctor McCoy, so Doctor McCoy may decide whether this gets officially reported or not.” Jim said, Captain Kirk in full evidence in his stance and tone of voice.

Bones stared at the alien for a few moments, watching with off-handed fascination his squirming and the fear in his eyes. Finally he pinched the bridge of his nose and looked over at Jim.

“He’s not worth the energy wasted in killing him,” he finally said, his voice a little grittier than a few moments ago, and barely a quiver of emotion.

Spock would be so proud of me. Bones thought, mentally snorting at it.

Jim looked like he wanted to argue, but finally pulled the Parthracian in close enough to make eye contact.

“All right, you heard what the lady said.” He added an edge to his smirk, however, as he added, “But I’ll be sure to pass on to your father that you need a lesson in manners.” With that, Jim gave the guy a small push, indicating that he should leave. Now.

As he watched the guy all but scuttle off as fast as he could with a sore crotch and bruised foot, Jim turned and caught sight of Bones in his peripheral vision. Momentarily he found himself irrationally jealous that someone else, someone that wasn’t him, had been able to get close enough to Bones to make his hair all dishevelled and his face all flushed, but a second later he stamped it down as he remembered that Bones only looked that good because of ‘unwanted attention’.

“What do you say to ditching this party and heading back to Enterprise?” Jim said, slinging his arm around Bones shoulders like he’d done many times before and noticing just how much smaller his shoulders were now and how well she he fit with Jims’ body like a missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle.

When Bones didn’t flinch away, Jim let out an internal sigh of relief and squeezed Bones’ shoulder, silently telling Bones that he’s there for him just like always.

“That sounds like a very good idea. Let’s go.” Bones replied, tugging Jim’s arm when he didn’t start walking immediately.

“Your wish is my command ma’am.” Jim teased as they slowly walked back to the pavilion.

Bones rolled his eyes at Jims’ typical behaviour and groaned when Jims’ arm dropped from shoulders to waist as they walked into the pavilion and up to the table where they had originally been sat and where Leaders’ Korsche and Druvedge were still sitting.

“Leader Korsche, Leader Druvedge, it is with deep regrets that Doctor McCoy and I must say goodnight and return home. It would seem that today’s been a lot more tiring than we thought it would be. Thank you for all of your hospitality, it’s been wonderful getting to know you and your people better.” Jim said honestly whist managing to imply that there was a whole other reason that the two of them wanted to retire for the night.

As Korsche and Druvedge picked up on the implied reason and grinned at each other and Jim, they said their goodbyes too. There was one last toast to “Captain Kirk and his people” for their help in creating peace between the two communities before they bowed out.

Just as Jim was walking away from the main table, he caught Korsches eye and nodded outside. Korsche raised his eyebrows in surprise and understanding. Moments later Jim and Bones were joined by a curious Korsche.

“Before we leave, I have a promise to fulfil and something that you need to hear.” Jim said seriously, his arm dropping from Bones waist as he spoke.

“A little while before the two of us,” Jim pointed between himself and Bones, “came back into the pavilion, there was an…incident outside with your youngest son, Zanten, and Doctor McCoy. In the end, nothing actually happened, but we both strongly recommend that you have a very thorough talk with him about how you treat women in…romantic situations and that when a woman rejects your advances, you don’t continue with your advances.” Jim said authoritatively.

As Korsche read between the lines and realised what Jim was talking about his eyes widened in shock and chagrin, then transforming into anger as he realised just what his youngest had come very close to doing.

“You have my word, Captain. First thing tomorrow, Zanten and I will be having what appears to be a long overdue discussion. Doctor, I am deeply sorry that you were subjected to such treatment. If there is anything I can do, do no hesitate to ask.” Korsche said, mortification seeping into his voice.

“Have the talk with your son and keep an eye on him and that will be enough, Leader Korsche.” Bones said.

“As you wish.” Korsche replied.

With that done and Korsche walking back inside, Jim pulled out his communicator and requested that he and Bones be beamed back to Enterprise.

-*-*-

They’d been beamed back safely and were heading towards a nearby turbo lift, both thankful that they only walked passed a couple of Ensigns deep in discussion over something on their way to the ‘lift. As they walked in and Jim set it to take them first to Deck 9 and Bones’ room, Bones turned to Jim and ran his hand through the lengthening hair at his nape. Blinking slightly to clear the last of the alcohol induced fogginess, Bones couldn’t quite look Jim in the face, instead staring at his left ear as he spoke.

“Um, thanks, for, y’know, on the planet and so on. I’d have been ok, but, yeah, thanks, for looking out for me and all. Just, umm, yeah.” Bones said, not at his most articulate and blushing like a virgin on her wedding night.

“Nothing to worry about Bones, I was just looking out for a friend, you’d have done the same if it’d been the other way around.” Jim said confidently, as if he had all the answers in the universe laid out before him at the time.

Moments later the turbo lift stopped and the door began to open. Bones stumbled backwards slightly through the door and into the corridor, ignoring the entire flock of butterflies in his stomach that were nothing to do with alcohol as he noticed Jims’ expression and finally looked Jim in the straight in the eyes.

“I, umm, yeah. I’ll see you tomorrow, Jim.” Bones said as he pulled his hand back down to his side and took off for his quarters.

-*-*- ~ ~ ~ -*-*- ~ ~ ~ -*-*-

Epilogue

“Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Leonard McCoy, personal log Stardate 2258.256, time oh-two-thirty-six…”

How can I put into words what the last two weeks have felt like? It’s been a rollercoaster ride, and certainly not always the fun kiddie safe variety. More like that damn Disney-Planet place Jim’s always trying to talk me into, on drugs. I can’t even explain to myself how I feel, let alone articulate it properly to a recording device. I mean…how?

Fourteen days ago I was a man, red-blooded good ol’ boy like the next Earthling, just as I had been for the whole of my life up to that point, when suddenly wham! I have breasts and no dick. So far, I’d like to think I’ve dealt with this fairly well, but it’s only been two weeks. Only two weeks. Fuck. I have a feeling that the next two weeks will make Uhura’s comment about chocolate make perfect sense to me.

Note to self, if I start watching romantic shit like Gaila’s always blathering on about, shoot self.

It’s still pretty damn strange, having soft where it used to be hard. Having to sit every time I go to the bathroom…I miss my dick. Shit, I really miss my dick. – I had a point. The most difficult physical thing had to be learning to balance properly again and not feel so top-heavy. Theoretically, I’d known for almost forever that men and women’s centre’s of gravity were different, but there’s nothing like experience for driving home theories.

I really miss my dick.

Shit. I think this requires more bourbon than I’ve got at the moment.

There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m going to feel out of place as long as I’m stuck in here, but maybe I should just start accepting that for the moment at least, I have a female body and will be treated like a woman by everyone we come across. Maybe I should just acknowledge that even though in my own head I’m still a guy, I’m going to have to learn a few things about being a woman.

Bones looked down at the glass in his hand, and back to the PADD display, before he sighed and pressed a button to clear the screen.

Damn the alcohol, and to hell with the log update, I’m going to bed.

With that Bones finished taking her uniform off, shoving it down the shute for laundry, and pulled on an old faded pair of sweats and a now baggy t-shirt, and collapsed into her bed.

-*-*-

Four decks up and one section across found Jim ready for bed but unable to fall asleep, as the moments dragged on and sleep still eluded him, he found images of Bones from the last couple of weeks and the odd one from back at the Academy float through his mind.

Clearly my self-denial button is broken, Jim thought to himself, realising just why these images in particular turned up in his minds eye when he couldn’t sleep.

Ok, so maybe I’ve always had a little, minor, inconsequential thing for Bones, but as a guy, he was the best friend I could ever hope to have, but as a woman, he’s the best friend and the perfect woman. All wrapped up in one neat, sarcastic, hot little package.

Shit, this is all fucked up, and I haven’t got anything even vaguely alcoholic left.

Running a hand through his hair and closing his eyes, Jim tried very hard to get the images of Bones out of his head by telling his brain that he would slowly increase his flirting with Bones and decrease it with people who weren’t Bones, and see what Bones’ reaction was.

Slowly the images faded and Jim felt himself slip closer to sleep.

In-depth planning in my personal life certainly isn’t my specialty, but for Bones, I’m going to do my best to make sure that this doesn’t become a no-win situation.

~ The End

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