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McCoy stowed the last of his gear with relief. He hated unpacking worse than packing and to do it immediately was a sternly-imposed self-discipline. The task done, he permitted himself the luxury of a mental pat on the back and with a rueful inward smile at his own present need for simple tasks and rewards went off to his new Sickbay.
He found himself searching his memory for his head nurse's name - he must overcome this new lack of concentration before it leaked over into his professional duties - Chapel, that was it, the forename would come later. Comfortingly, the impressive list of qualifications following her name was still vivid in his mind. Someday he'd have to take an interest in why such a highly qualified woman had chosen a nursing career in Starfleet - for the moment he'd stick with his own problems.
He asked for a few changes to suit his own working methods, nodded his thanks to Nurse Chapel and left, intending to go to his quarters and send a final tape to Joanna. Cynically, he wondered why he bothered; her mother would return it unopened, he was certain of that, but there were things he needed to say to erase some of the bitterness of the last few years.
He'd barely settled at the desk when the door buzzer went. "Sorry I wasn't free to welcome you aboard, Doctor."
McCoy's eyes flickered to the braid on the gold sleeve. Captain? This... boy? He got to his feet.
"Sit down, Doctor, sit down. It makes me uncomfortable when people keep leaping to their feet. I gather you've been to Sickbay. Everything to your liking?"
"I doubt it," McCoy said gruffly. "Never for longer than an hour or so, anyway."
Kirk grinned. "We've got a healthy crew, at least," he said comfortingly.
McCoy frowned. "I see we have a Vulcan on board - I've been doing some cramming. I don't know more than the basics of Vulcan physiology."
Kirk's grin deepened. McCoy looked at him suspiciously.
"Uh... I wouldn't cram too hard, Doctor. Mr Spock is half Human. I've heard Dr Piper complain he never knew where he was with him."
McCoy grunted, sourly contemplating the prospect before him. Well, he'd wanted a greater challenge. It seemed he would get it sooner or later. He hoped it would be later. His eye fell on the blank tape on the desk - maybe he should leave the old problems and concentrate on the new.
Kirk followed his glance. "Last minute messages?" he said sympathetically. "I'll leave you to get on with it. If you can spare the time I'd like you to join the First Officer and me for dinner in my quarters."
McCoy picked up the tiny spool and swept it into a drawer.
"I'd be pleased to, Captain. There's no point in wasting my time on messages that won't be heard."
Kirk heard the underlying bitterness and eyed his new Medical Officer consideringly.
"Can I help, Doctor?" he asked gently, touched by the unhappiness in the older man's vivid blue eyes.
McCoy smiled cynically. "Not unless you know a way to get a message past a determined woman, sir."
Kirk's gaze had taken in the hologram on the desk, the blue eyes of the young girl, so like those that faced him.
"Your daughter?" he said softly.
McCoy nodded, not intending to elaborate, but somehow this young man's compassion was almost tangible. "Her mother has custody of her. I didn't fight it. I thought it better to get right away, but... " He broke off.
"There are still things that need saying?"
McCoy nodded wordlessly, remembering the unhappiness and sense of betrayal in Joanna's eyes when he had left the house for the last time. "I... just walked out of her life," he said harshly. "Sarah will send the tape back like she did the last one - there's little point in sending it."
"Send it to her school," Kirk said quietly. "They'll see she gets it."
The blue eyes lit with sudden hope. "You're right, of course," McCoy said gladly. "It was so obvious I couldn't see it."
"It always helps to share a problem," Kirk told him. "Make your tape, and then come and have a drink."