NOBODY’S CHILD: The Saga of Doctor Leonard McCoy and Family-Chapter Six

NOBODY’S CHILD
by Pat McCoy

CHAPTER SIX – Spock!

When Patricia arrives back in her own quarters at her assigned post, and unpacks, she notices that her message light is blinking. “Computer, play messages.” She lays down on the bed while watching and listening to the messages play back. An image of Doctor Leonard McCoy appears onscreen and he does NOT look happy! “Patricia! I know that you are still away on shore leave. PLEASE call me as soon as you get this message! It’s about Spock!” The image fades from the screen and there are no other messages. “Strange”, she thinks to herself, “Gramps hasn’t called me by my formal name for YEARS! He usually calls me by a pet name. Oh, God! What’s happened to Uncle Spock!?” She gets up with a groan, a knot in her stomach, and sits down at the comm-system. She presses the buttons to call her Great-grandfather and his image immediately comes onscreen.

Leonard exhales in relief. “Child! FINALLY!” He peers at her. “You look EXHAUSTED! Did you just get home?” Patricia nods. “Yes, Gramps! My shore leave was quite busy and the journey home was tiring.” McCoy scowls at his Great-grandchild. “Shore leave is supposed to be for REST and RELAXATION! What were you up to?!” She knows that she can’t hide the guilty look on her face. “Well, I was playing with the Klingons, who also came to the party, enjoyed the Sail-a-bration of the Defeat of the Dominion, then helped Captain Sisko with his neighborhood block party/cook-out for Bajoran Freedom Day. Not much.” The old doctor shakes his head. “Even when you are under doctor’s orders to REST and RELAX, you STILL managed to get into mischief!”

Now it’s Patricia’s turn to become irritable. “Gramps! You know I start getting antsy if I don’t have SOMETHING to do to keep my brain occupied! Yes, it’s a form of stimming but at least it was a constructive form of stimming.” Her Great-grandfather calms down. “Did you enjoy the parties?” She grins at the memories. “It was FUN, Gramps, sharing an outdoor kitchen, cooking with Captain Sisko, and mingling with every sentient being from all quadrants! Sharing my cooking skills seemed to make it easier for me to socialize instead of focusing on work. You know what I mean?”

McCoy smiles. “I understand, child.” Then his smile fades. “I hate to be the bearer of bad news. Spock is missing!” She goes into shock. “WHAT?! Gramps! When?! How?!” “He disappeared shortly after you left for your shore leave!”, the old man replies. Patricia erupts in fury as she strikes the table with her fist. “WHY DIDN’T YOU CALL ME ABOUT THIS?!” McCoy attempts to stay calm during her onslaught of rage. “Because I know you very well, child! You would cancel your shore leave and get all worked up, exacerbating the health issues that required shore leave in the first place! You were under doctor’s orders to go off duty and REST! Besides, what would Spock expect from you?” She rubs her face with both hands, sighs, then looks up. “Uncle Spock would expect me to think things through and look at what I could logically … and physically … be able to do given my situation.”

The old doctor nods. “EXACTLY my point, child! Star Fleet Intelligence is already working on this case and Vulcan officials are doing what they can.” “Gramps”, she retorts, “I just don’t FEEL right sitting here, wringing my hands, and doing NOTHING!” The old doctor smiles at an old memory. “I remember saying something similar to that irritating old hobgoblin several years ago and received a well-placed verbal barb for that!” “Yes”, Patricia nods in agreement, “Uncle Spock would do that and he would have a point … no pun intended about his ears.”

Her Great-grandfather groans. “Even when you try to avoid puns, you find one anyway! Between Spock’s barbs and your puns, I don’t have a chance!” She is unable to smile at that. “Never mind that, Gramps. What do we do now? Where did Uncle Spock disappear? Was he on a diplomatic assignment on a Federation world or elsewhere? Should you and/or I go there?” The old doctor shakes his head and signals for her to stop. “Hold your horses, young lady! Neither of us goes anywhere until we hear back from the Top Brass! You know better than to go off gallivanting on your own without prior clearance from your bosses … and THAT includes ME! You are NOT James T. Kirk! Remember, I am still an Admiral!” “Yes, sir.”, she replies sadly.

The old man gives her an empathetic look. “Child, I know you want to ride to Spock’s rescue on a white charger! I want to do the same thing as badly as you do, given the history that he and I have since before you were born. Right now, until there is more information to go on, the only thing we can do is sit tight.” Patricia takes a deep breath and attempts to calm down. “What information is there, Gramps? Are you at liberty to share that with me or is it classified where only the Top Brass, like you, have access on a need-to-know basis?” McCoy pauses. “From what little that I’ve been told, Spock had gone home to Vulcan to take care of some personal or family business. You and I both know that he is as tight-lipped as an Aldebaran Shell-mouth when it comes to discussing ANYTHING that is personal! Not long after he arrived on Vulcan, he had an appointment with T’Pau but he never showed up. T’Pau knew that is VERY uncharacteristic of Spock as he is ALWAYS punctual! When the local authorities, their form of police, went to do a wellness check at Spock’s home, thinking he might have taken ill … there was no sign of him anywhere! His luggage and personal possessions that he brought with him were all there where he left it. You and I both know how neat and orderly he is with his stuff … but no indication of where he went.”

She knows that this is a very BAD sign. “And I presume that is when Vulcan contacted Star Fleet and/or someone within the Federation authorities who, in turn, informed you.” The old doctor nods affirmatively. “Yes. I knew that your shore leave was due to end after a certain number of days so I waited until it was close to when you were scheduled to come home to leave you that message to call me the minute you arrived. I had asked the Top Brass not to say anything to anyone until I had the chance to talk to you first, because Spock is considered family. If it had been leaked to anyone at Deep Space Nine, and someone else had told you, you probably would have been back here at Warp 10, or faster, and ready to wring my neck for keeping this from you.” Patricia scowls at her Great-grandfather. “Part of me understands your logic and another part of me STILL wants to wring your neck for not telling me as soon as you knew. You know how much I love my favorite Uncle!” “I expected as much.”, the old man answers, “At the same time, being your commanding officer in Star Fleet Medical, I also had to balance your own physical health with the need to know. If you had known earlier, your health might not have withstood the stress and I would have lost a good officer, not to mention my most beloved Great-grandchild. Once I knew that your health had returned to the required standards, then, and only then, could I take the risk to tell you the news about Spock. I can be certain that if I had put your health at risk, and something had happened to you, Spock would NEVER forgive me! He may be Vulcan but he still loves you as if you were his daughter as well, and he is VERY protective of you. As he might say, it is not logical, but it is true.”

Patricia sighs. “You’re right, Gramps! I’m sorry for getting angry.” McCoy shakes his head at his Great-grandchild. “Becoming angry is acceptable, under the circumstances, child. Acting out as a result of that anger can get you into a heap of trouble!” “HUH! Don’t I know it!”, she exclaims, The old doctor continues, “So for now, child, I’m ordering you to bed! You’ve just arrived home, after a long journey, and I can see that you are tired! Even though the bunks aboard ship are comfortable, I know you didn’t sleep well because it WASN’T your own bed, along with the ambient noises that every ship has. I know how your sleep patterns are. You’ve had that problem ever since you were little. Anyway, as soon as I get our orders, I will let you know. I promise!” She rubs at her face, attempting to rub the exhaustion away. “Thanks, Gramps! I’ll call you back later. Love you and signing off for now.” He looks back at her with affection. “Love you too, baby. Sleep well!” The image of Leonard McCoy disappears from the screen. She gets up from the comm-system, gets ready for bed, and is fast asleep a few moments after her head hits the pillow. She wakes up with a start, as the nightmare she was having fades. She gets up and begins puttering around her quarters until she is able to calm down from the night terror she had just experienced. She checks the time and realizes that she had not yet contacted Captain Benjamin Sisko to inform him of her safe arrival home. She sits down at the comm-link again and programs it to contact his office at Deep Space Nine. Captain Sisko’s image appears onscreen.

Sisko looks at his chronometer near his desk and is shocked. “Good grief, Pat! It’s the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT where you are! What are you doing up!?” She nods wearily. “I know. I just couldn’t sleep, Ben. It’s one of those nights again. I thought I should call you to let you know I arrived home safely and … to tell you that Uncle Spock is missing.” Sisko nods with empathy. “And that is probably why you can’t sleep!” She nods back. “You’re right, Ben! That is EXACTLY why I can’t sleep! I’m having all kinds of nightmares until I finally had to get up. I can’t DO anything except sit here and wait until I hear back from Gramps and/or the Top Brass regarding what I CAN do! That is hard as hell!” “I understand THAT all too well!”, Sisko replies, “I went through a similar experience during the conflict with the Dominion and I lost touch with Jake while he remained on the station! That was one of my WORST nightmares! He remained missing until we were able to regain control of DS9! I experienced nightmares as well until I was finally able to see my son again! Part of me didn’t want to let him out of my sight ever again and, at the same time, I had to recognize that he is a grown man who is capable of making his own decisions … mistakes and all.” Patricia rests her chin on her hand. “I remember hearing somewhere about a father’s burden … the struggle between faith in your child and fear for your child. You know that if you have done your job as a parent, correctly, then your child will be a productive member of society and yet, at the same time, cutting that umbilical cord is one of the HARDEST things to do! It feels like the reverse in my situation. Spock is like another father to me and I fear losing him permanently. That possibility is terrifying!”

“I understand how you feel.”, Sisko responds with a nod. “When Jennifer died at Wolf 359, I felt … lost! I forgot how to live. I was functioning … barely … because I had a young child to take care of … but I forgot the most important things that needed my attention. I forgot what Jennifer would have wanted me to do. The Prophets helped open my eyes the first time I met them.” Patricia considers this. “And I need to take a closer look at what I experienced during my own Orb encounter along with what Uncle Spock taught me during my own emotional struggles. I can only imagine that it wasn’t easy for him to try to get through to me. During the early years, after Gramps rescued me, I was physically combative with EVERYONE! I was a WRECK! I just did not know how to function! The only thing I knew was how to fight for survival, like a wild animal! I guess I can say that Uncle Spock ‘tamed’ that wildness.”

Sisko smiles at that. “Without breaking your spirit!” Patricia smiles back. “You’re right, Ben.” She looks at chronometer. “I need to let you get back to work and I’m going to try some Vulcan meditation techniques before trying to sleep some more.” “Take it easy, Pat.”, Sisko replies, “And I’ll talk to you later. I’m sure you’re going to need all the emotional support possible to get you through this.” She gives him a grateful smile. “Thanks, Ben! I’ll keep you posted as soon as I hear anything.” She signs off the comm-link and the image of Captain Sisko disappears from the screen. She then proceeds to set up the area for Vulcan meditation. At the end of the Vulcan Meditation period, she gets up, cleans up the area, putting the items away. She begins pacing back and forth, thinking aloud. “Fact … Uncle Spock went to Vulcan on personal business. Fact … he went to his home and unpacked his belongings, which were found later, neatly arranged as is his habit. Fact … he had an appointment with T’Pau but failed to show up. Fact … there was no mention of forced entry or violence at his home. Question … Did Uncle Spock leave voluntarily or involuntarily? Question … Did he leave alone or did someone accompany him? Questions, plural … If someone accompanied him when he disappeared, then who? What? Where? When? Why? How?” She looks at the chronometer again and sighs. “And it’s TOO early to call Gramps to talk about any of this!” Her comm-link chimes with an incoming call, which startles her out of her revery. “WHO?! At this time?! Does this mean BAD news?!” She sits down at the comm-link and activates it. The image of Leonard McCoy reappears onscreen. He looks haggard.

Patricia starts to panic. “Gramps! Bad news?!” McCoy holds up his hands and shakes his head. “No, child! No news at all. I can see you can’t sleep either.” She nods sadly in response. “I kept having those nightmares, again.” Her Great-grandfather gives her a worried look. “The recurring ones? The terrors?” She nods again, wearily. “Those plus some new ones about Uncle Spock.” The old doctor becomes even more worried. “No wonder you can’t sleep, child!” “And I don’t want to start that stupid merry-go-round of popping pills, developing more drug tolerance, changing meds, popping more pills, developing more drug tolerance while the insomnia continues! Damn pill-pushers don’t get that!”, she grouses with annoyance. “I hear you and I don’t blame you.”, the old man replies. “Not everyone understands the hell you lived through as a child nor do they understand the PTSD which is the result of that hell!” Patricia throws up her hands. “And I feel so frustrated and helpless about not being able to help Uncle Spock! He helped me! He saved my life! I need to find a way to help him!”

McCoy leans toward his view-screen. “He helped BOTH of us in more ways than we will ever know, child! Right now, you and I are struggling with this individually. I’m going to submit a request that you come over to where I am stationed. At least, that way, we can commiserate together until we know what can be done next.” She smiles at that. “Sounds like a plan, Gramps!” “Besides”, the old man adds, “I want to get a good look at you, health-wise. I know that you tend to neglect yourself when you get stressed … especially under circumstances like this!” Patricia nods with resignation. “Okay, Gramps! I understand.” “In the meantime”, he adds, “Go back to bed and try to get some rest and I’m going to do the same. I’ll talk to you later. Love you, child!” “Love you too, Gramps! Signing off!” The image of Leonard McCoy fades from the screen again. She walks over to her bed and lies down but is still unable to sleep. The longer she lays there, the more restless she becomes. She finally gets back up and walks into another room to find her crochet project. She finds her kit, brings it back to bed, sits up and begins crocheting. She has crocheted several squares when her comm-link chimes again. She gets up to answer it, taking her crocheting with her.

She presses a button and her great-grandfather’s image reappears onscreen. “Hi, again, Gramps!” He looks at the crocheting in Patricia’s hands and shakes his head. “Thought I told you to get some rest! Still couldn’t sleep anyway, huh?” She sighs. “Nope! At least concentrating on this”, she indicates the crocheting, “Took my mind off of everything else.” He wags a warning finger at his Great-grandchild. “Just don’t make it a habit of crocheting in bed all the time. That doesn’t help your insomnia. Your bed is supposed to be for sleeping, not working on fiber arts.” She gives him a mischievous grin. “I can think of a certain pleasurable activity to do in addition to sleeping! There might be snow on the mountain but the fire ain’t out yet!” Her Great-grandfather groans and shakes his head. “You sound just like James Tiberius Kirk!” She grimaces at the thought. “He’s too old to date me!” McCoy laughs out loud. “Don’t tell him THAT! He still believes he’s a ladies’ man!” She giggles at that.

Her smile fades. “Any updates on Uncle Spock?” The old man shakes his head again. “No, nothing new on that front. I’ve received approval for you to come to my station. How soon can you get here?” She thinks for a few seconds. “I just unpacked yesterday after I arrived home from Deep Space Nine. How much should I pack for this trip?” The old doctor looks thoughtful. “I don’t know how long this stay is going to be. It depends on what develops next while you’re here. Go ahead and pack what you did the last time, we’ll play it by ear once you arrive.” She nods with determination. “Sounds good to me, Gramps. Once I get there, then we can start doing some brain-storming.” McCoy grins at the thought. “Two McCoy’s brain-storming together! Now THAT is DANGEROUS!” She grins back. “Between the two of us, we might come up with more intelligent solutions!” Her Great-Grandfather laughs. “Get packing child and get over here ASAP! I’ll see you later!” “See you soon, Gramps! Love you!” She signs off the comm-link and begins packing for her trip.

As she rushes back toward the docking area to catch the next star-ship heading toward her Great-grandfather’s station, she encounters a member of her medical team, Doctor Greeley. “Hello, Doctor McCoy! When did you get back from Deep Space Nine?” She continues to hurry and really does not want to get involved in any conversations with this individual. “I just got back last night and I’m on my way out again! Doctor’s orders!” Greeley tries to edge closer, which annoys Patricia. “You’ve hardly had time to breathe! Why the rush? Is there a family emergency?” She continues walking toward the docking area, trying to figure out how to get rid of this interloper without appearing rude. “You could say that!” Greeley continues prying. “Is your Great-grandfather all right?” Patricia continues walking briskly. “Yes, he is. Thank you for asking!” Greeley attempts to pry further. “Then why…?” Patricia finally loses her patience, huffs, and then cuts him off. “DOCTOR Greeley! I hate to be rude but I just don’t have the time to discuss the details right now. I will call in as soon as I reach my destination and find out more information. I have to board NOW before I lose the opportunity! Good day!” She rushes to the waiting air lock and checks in. Doctor Greeley stands alone looking confused and flustered.

Once she’s aboard, she stows her luggage in her quarters while a crew-member waits nearby. “Thanks for checking me in.”, Patricia says to the crew-member. “I’m sorry for the last minute arrangements. Crew-member …?” She looks at the crew-member quizzically. “Silver Hawk.”, the crew-member replies, “No problem. We’re honored to have any of Doctor McCoy’s family aboard!” He hesitates as he glances out the window toward the airlock. “If I may be so bold, what was going on with that gentleman out there while you were walking to the airlock?” She follows his gaze. “Oh? You mean Doctor Greeley?” “Yes.”, Silver Hawk replies, “I may be mistaken, but he seems rather … smitten … with you.” Patricia gives an exasperated sigh and blurts without thinking. “Unfortunately, he’s young enough to be my grandson, straight out of the Academy! I think he’s infatuated with the FAMILY NAME instead of with ME as a PERSON! I’ve experienced that too many times and I’ve reached the point where I no longer have patience with it! Do you know, when he and I first met … he asked for my AUTOGRAPH?!” Silver Hawk looks confused. “And you were not happy with that?” Patricia shakes her head emphatically. “NO! I was NOT! When I was first assigned to this station, I was assigned as the Chief Medical Officer and Doctor Greeley was assigned as a member of my medical staff. I bluntly told him that I expect … even DEMAND PROFESSIONALISM … NOT hero worship! Didn’t phase him at all. He continued to tag after me like a drooling puppy! I don’t have the grounds to request that he be reassigned and, at the same time, my patience has been sorely taxed!” She suddenly realizes that this crew-member may not be the appropriate person to disclose this to. “Sorry. I should not have dumped that on you. I should have waited until I could vent to Gramps instead. Please accept my apology!”

Silver Hawk shrugs this off. “No problem. How old is Doctor Greeley anyway?” She pauses to try and calculate his age. “I think he’s still in his 20’s. Old enough to know better and young enough to still act foolish!” “Did you ever act foolish when you were his age?”, Silver Hawk asks. She hesitates before answering slowly, “Once … long ago, and it almost got me killed because I trusted the wrong person!” The crew-member suddenly feels awkward. “Oh.” Patricia realizes it’s time to speak in her command voice. “Never mind that, Silver Hawk! Now … since we have a long journey ahead … where does one go for relaxation aboard this star-ship?” “We have a recreational lounge on our forward deck and we also have holo-decks.”, the crew-member answers. “Sounds good to me!”, Patricia responds. “Tell the Captain that I’m looking forward to enjoying this trip!” “Very good, ma’am!” The crew-member leaves the guest quarters. Patricia goes over to the comm-link and taps on a key. One of the communications crew appears onscreen. “Good day! Would it be possible to get a message to Doctor Leonard McCoy?” “Yes, ma’am!”, Communications replies. Patricia smiles. “Great! Can you please let him know that Patricia is en route?” “Yes, ma’am! Right away, ma’am!” “Thank you! McCoy out!” She signs off the comm-link, finishes unpacking, then heads out of her quarters into the corridor of the star-ship. She suddenly realizes that she has no idea which direction to go. “Computer! Can you direct me to the recreational lounge?” A directional light begins pulsing, pointing the way to a turbo-lift. Eventually she finds her way to the recreational lounge. She looks around at what is available then makes her way to an empty table and sits down. A waitstaff person approaches her. “What would you like to have?” “I’ll have a glass of Root Beer and a Hot Fudge Sundae, please.”, Patricia responds. “Very good, ma’am!” The waitstaff brings her order to her table and she starts digging in. A voice chimes in. “That’s a sugar overload if I’ve ever seen one!”

Patricia slowly turns to look with quizzical annoyance at the source of the voice. “Excuse me?” A middle-aged gentleman is standing beside her, or, more accurately, hovering over her. She scowls at him. “Oh! Doctor McCoy! I didn’t recognize you from behind! Welcome aboard!” He holds out his hand and she stares coldly at him. He awkwardly withdraws his hand and clears his throat. “I guess I better start over and introduce myself first!” “Yes-s-s-s…”, Patricia responds drily. The middle-age gentleman tugs at his tunic and clears his throat again. “I’m the Chief Medical Officer here. Name’s Hatfield.” She quirks an eyebrow and replies, drily, once more. “Hatfield?” Hatfield is clearly feeling REALLY awkward. “I guess I put my foot into it! I am SO sorry for trying to joke with you BEFORE introducing myself! I don’t wish to start another family feud with another McCoy!”

Patricia’s annoyance is growing by the minute. “That’s a DIFFERENT group of McCoy’s that your clan fought with, NOT mine!” She pauses, then indicates a nearby empty chair. “Pull up a chair and sit down!” Hatfield grabs a nearby chair and sits down with Patricia as she turns her attention back to her dessert. “Based on your expression, I take it that you are not in a joking mood.” She eats a spoonful of ice cream and swallows. “No.”, she replies sourly, “I am not.” “May I ask why?”, Hatfield inquires. “No! You may not!”, she curtly replies. “This is neither an appropriate place nor time for such a discussion. I don’t know you!” Hatfield sits back as far as the chair will let him. “Fair enough. I didn’t exactly endear myself from the outset … and gave you a bad first impression. I am so sorry. I’ll leave you to your thoughts.” He gets up and starts to leave. Patricia glances in his direction. “I may speak with you later … depending on the situation.” She turns her attention back to her Hot Fudge Sundae. Hatfield clears his throat again and starts to walk away. “By the way”, Patricia comments, “Given that you have cleared your throat about three or more times, I would get that seen to.”

Hatfield quietly returns and sits down so he can speak privately. “I have Tourette’s Syndrome. I wish I could control it better. Unfortunately, I can’t.” Patricia responds just as quietly. “I’m an Aspie … Asperger’s Syndrome. I get it. We can talk later when there is less sensory overload about.” Hatfield is relieved. “Thank you. Enjoy your dessert.” He leaves Patricia’s table and heads out the door. She finishes her Hot Fudge Sundae, her Root Beer, gets up and leaves the Recreational Lounge to return to her quarters. She sees that a message light is blinking and presses a key. Her Great-grandfather’s image appears onscreen.

“Child, I’m relieved that you are on your way! See you when you get here! McCoy out!” The message ends. She shuts off the comm-link and decides to go to bed. Just as she lays down on the bed, the door chimes. She gets up with a groan, puts on her bathrobe, and pads, barefoot, to the door and opens it. Hatfield is standing there with his hands behind his back and she scowls at him again. Once again, Hatfield is embarrassed. “Bad timing again!” She takes a deep breath, then lets it out. “No. Just me being tired. Traveling is catching up to me in my old age.” Hatfield gives her a quizzical look. “How so?” She turns and gestures. “Come in, sit down, and I’ll tell you!” “Oh.”, he replies timidly as he enters the guest quarters and sits down in the nearest chair. She sits down in another chair. “I was ordered to take shore leave for several days, due to health-related issues. I stayed at Deep Space Nine during that period, and found work to do in spite of doctor’s orders. That’s just my nature. Just got back from DS9 yesterday when I got word of a family emergency and had to head out immediately. Haven’t really rested as I should.” Hatfield looks concerned. “How well are you sleeping?” “Given the circumstances”, she replies, “It’s difficult to sleep. I can’t wait until I’m able to see Gramps. Then I’ll be able to relax a little.”

“Is he having health issues?”, Hatfield asks. She shakes her head. “Thankfully, no.” “Then the family emergency is …?” His voice trails off. “My Uncle Spock. He’s missing.”, Patricia responds. Hatfield looks confused. “Your Uncle Spock … I don’t understand. He is a Vulcan, am I right?” Patricia gives him an annoyed look. “Yes, he is a Vulcan and he is my adopted Uncle and part of my FAMILY! You got a problem with that?!” Hatfield hastily backpedals. “Oops! Sorry. I won’t interrupt again.” Patricia scowls at him silently, for a few seconds, before resuming her narrative. “As I was saying, my Uncle Spock is missing and I am needed home during this family emergency.” “I’m so sorry about your Uncle Spock.”, Hatfield replies, “Is there anything I can do?” She shakes her head. “Right now … no. Just be mindful about my being cranky.” He nods. “Understood.”, as he gets up, “I’ll be available whenever you wish to meet with me.” Patricia gets up and walks him to the door. It slides open as they approach. “Thank you. I will consider it, Hatfield.”

Hatfield steps back into the corridor. “Good day/evening/whatever time it is!” She shuts the door and goes back to bed. Hatfield shakes his head as he walks back to Sick Bay, muttering to himself. “Remind me not to stress out an already stressed-out Aspie! Whew!” He arrives back in Sick Bay and enters. Patricia is still restless in spite of her efforts to relax. She gets up and attempts Vulcan Meditation but continues to feel antsy. She resists the impulse to pace around her quarters. Finally, she gets up, gets dressed, and heads over to the ship’s Sick Bay. Hatfield sees her as soon as she walks in. “Doctor Hatfield”, Patricia begins, “I owe you an apology. It’s not your fault that I’m cranky. I’m feeling frustrated about a lot of things and I took that frustration out on you, which is inappropriate. I’m sorry.” Hatfield shrugs. “I wasn’t helping matters any. Here, let me find you a seat.” He pulls over a chair and indicates it to Patricia, who sits down. “Thank you.” Hatfield pulls up another chair and sits down. “Look. Let’s start over. I want to apologize for my insensitive comment in the Lounge. That was completely uncalled for! My name is Doctor George Hatfield. Please call me George.” Patricia nods. “And I apologize for wiping the floor with you. It’s not your fault that I’m frustrated with the situation I am dealing with and it was completely wrong of me to take out my anger and frustration on you. Please call me Pat.” Hatfield holds out his hand. “May we shake hands on that … Pat?” Patricia shakes his hand. “Done … George!”

There is an awkward silence. Patricia awkwardly withdraws her hand. “I’ve never been socially graceful.” Hatfield nods. “I understand.” There is another awkward silence. “Tell me … would you be willing to participate in medical consults while you are aboard?” Patricia considers this. “I don’t see any problem with that.” Hatfield looks relieved. “Thank you, Pat.” “You’re welcome, George.”, she replies, “I’ll be getting back to my quarters so I can attempt to get some rest.” She gets up. “Would you like some medication to help you sleep?” She shakes her head. “No thank you. Drugs don’t help.” “But …”, Hatfield attempts to interject then realizes he’s about to put his foot in it again as she gives him a silent glare. “Never mind. You know your body better than I do!” Patricia isn’t sure how to take that last comment from a near-total stranger. “Thank you, Doctor.” She leaves Sick Bay and returns to her guest quarters. Upon her arrival, she gets out her crochet project, lays across the bed, and begins crocheting. As she is focusing on her project, she hears the door chime. “Come!” The door to her quarters slide open and the ship’s Captain, Captain Harrison, comes in. “Doctor McCoy?”, he calls out. Patricia sighs as she gets up, again, and walks into the room where the Captain is standing … grumbling loudly all the while, not heeding who might hear her. “Murphy’s Law! Every time I lay down to relax … SIR!”, as she stops short in surprise.

Both Captains react awkwardly to each other. “Ummmm … I just stopped by to see if everything meets your needs while you are a guest aboard.” Patricia glances around the guest quarters. “So far, my material needs have been met. I guess I should have stopped by the bridge to report to you before now, as a common courtesy, one Captain to another.” Harrison waves dismissively. “Nonsense! You are a guest. Sorry I disturbed you.” “Thank you”, Patricia replies, “If I need anything else, I’ll be sure to let you know.” Harrison heads back toward the door. “I’ll see my way out. Have a restful evening.” He leaves the guest quarters. Patricia mutters to herself as she heads back to bed and her crocheting project. “Maybe I should post a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the front of the door so they’ll leave me alone for awhile!” Just as she lays down and gets comfortable, the door chime sounds again. By now, Patricia has lost her patience. She stomps, barefoot, to the door and opens it, snarling, “WHAT?!” She finds a very young, very frightened, Ensign cowering there. “Doctor McCoy! I-I-I was hoping to get your autograph!”

At this point, Patricia has had enough. “Son, do you know what TIME it is?!” The young Ensign can only stammer, “I-I-I…” “It is TIME”, Patricia continues to snarl, “To post a notice on MY door that CLEARLY states: ‘Do NOT disturb! Until FURTHER notice! DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR!?” The young Ensign is clearly shaking as well as stammering. “I-I-I’m sorry! I’ll make sure no one else disturbs you for the rest of your stay!” He hurries away as the door closes. Patricia growls to herself. “That’s an amend I will need to make to that Ensign, AFTER I have gotten some SLEEP!” She goes back into the bedroom.

Captain Harrison, Doctor Hatfield, and the young Ensign encounter each other in the corridor. The Captain notices that the Ensign seems to be upset. “Ensign! What seems to be the problem?” The young Ensign hesitates. “Well … um-m-m-m …” “Do you wish to discuss it in Sickbay?”, Hatfield interjects. The young Ensign shakes his head. “No, sir. It has nothing to do with my health, sir. It … well … it’s about Doctor McCoy. I asked for her autograph and she yelled at me for disturbing her.” Harrison is concerned. “When did you speak to her?” “A few moments ago.”, the young Ensign replies. The Captain nods. “A few moments after I disturbed her rest.” Hatfield looks at both the Captain and the Ensign. “Not long after I disturbed her attempts to rest. No wonder she had a meltdown.”

The Captain gives Hatfield a confused look. “Excuse me?” Hatfield continues, “Captain, are you aware of the reason why she is aboard?” “I understand it has something to do with a family emergency …” His voice trails off as the sudden realization sinks in and he gives himself a face-palm. “Damn! She is stressing about that, trying to rest, and we interrupt her attempts to rest not just once but THREE times within a short span of time … all because we wanted to impress her. Some impression!” Hatfield nods. “My point exactly, Captain!” He turns and looks sternly at the Ensign. “And did you receive permission, from anyone, to approach her?” The young Ensign stammers, “N-n-n-no, sir! I didn’t mean any harm, sir!” Hatfield relents. “There’s an old saying about ‘good intentions’, Ensign! Remember that!”

The Captain interjects with a stern order. “Ensign, you are confined to quarters until your next shift. I want you to think about the consequences of your actions … as I need to think about mine, and figure out how to apologize, to Doctor McCoy, for our blunders. Do I make myself clear, Ensign!?” The young Ensign stammers again. “Y-y-y-yes, sir!” He hurries to his quarters. Hatfield turns to the Captain. “Weren’t you being a bit rough on the boy? You and I need to think about the consequences of what we’ve done as well.”

Patricia finally manages to get some sleep and awakens the next morning in a somewhat better mood, considering the circumstances. She gets up, gets dressed, and putters around her guest quarters. She walks over to the food replicator. “Computer, COFFEE!” A cup of steaming hot coffee appears. “Computer, a pitcher of toffee-flavored cream!” The pitcher appears and she picks it up, carrying both the pitcher and her cup of coffee to the table. She sits down, pouring some of the cream into the coffee and savors the taste. When she finishes, she places the dirty dishes in the reclamator, presses a button, and the dirty dishes vanish. After sitting quietly and thinking, she gets up and goes out into the corridor. She walks down to the nearest turbolift and enters it. “Bridge!”, she calls out. The turbolift takes her there. She steps out of the turbolift and onto the bridge. Captain Harrison sees her and gets up out of his command chair. “Doctor McCoy!”, he calls out to her. Patricia approaches him. “Good morning, sir! May I speak with you in private?” The Captain nods. “Certainly. Let’s go to my Ready Room.” He turns to his First Officer. “Exater, you have the Conn.” Exater, a sentient being with four arms, moves to the command chair. “Yes, sir!”

Captain Harrison and Patricia enter the Ready Room and the door shuts behind them. She turns to the Captain. “Sir, before you say anything, I have an amend to make and an apology to give.” The Captain crosses his arms and leans back against his desk. “Go on.” She sighs and begins pacing the room with her hands folded behind her. “Yesterday, I let my stress get the better of me and I snapped at Doctor Hatfield, at you, and a young Ensign, who stopped by my door last night … asking for an autograph. I’m old enough to know better. I was wrong … and I’m sorry for my outbursts.” “That makes two of us.”, the Captain replies.

Patricia gives him a confused look. “Sir?” The Captain continues, “I should have thought first before I acted on stopping at your quarters last night. I was aware that you are dealing with a family emergency. I just didn’t think things through before I knocked on your door … getting you out of bed. For that, I apologize. As for the young Ensign, he owes you an apology as well. He has a habit of being impulsive at the wrong moments. His impulsivity got you out of bed … again. You were tired … you were stressing about this family emergency … and we were not helping you with our demands.” “But I over-reacted …”, Patricia continues.

The Captain nods. “Yes, you over-reacted … from being over-tired. I’ve done the same thing, so I understand. Let’s just say we all contributed to this unhappy situation.” Patricia nods in agreement. “Given that I also hold the rank of Captain, I should know better. If I had been in command during a battle, my losing control like that would NOT be helpful for my crew!” The Captain walks around his desk. “Have you eaten yet, Doctor?” Patricia shrugs. “I’ve just had coffee a little while ago.” The Captain raises an eyebrow at her. “Which means you have NOT eaten yet! Doctor, I’m surprised at you for skipping meals that way!” She gestures. “I couldn’t eat until I got this situation resolved.” “I see.”, said the Captain, “How about if we have breakfast together?” Patricia raises an eyebrow back at him. “Which means YOU haven’t eaten yet either!” The Captain grins. “Guilty as charged!” She smiles back. “Then I accept your invitation! Tell me, why haven’t you eaten breakfast yet?”

He blushes. “I … tend to forget when I get busy preparing for the day ahead.” She nods back in understanding. “Ah …! I’ve done that too, more than once!” The Captain walks over to the food replicator. “What would you like for breakfast?” “Let’s see.”, Patricia considers, “I think I’ll have a couple of scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, biscuit, and a glass of orange juice. On the side, a container of grape jelly, butter, and a pepper grinder full of fresh peppercorns.” The Captain looks at her quizzically. “Grape Jelly? Butter? Pepper grinder full of fresh peppercorns?” “Um-m-m-m, yes.”, she replies, “Grape jelly and butter for the biscuit plus fresh ground pepper gives the food a special kick. You should try it someday!” He punches in the food order. “Sounds like you know how to cook without a replicator!” She nods affirmatively. “In fact, I do! It’s one of my many hobbies. To tell you the truth, fresh-cooked food TASTES BETTER than replicated! I don’t know how to explain it until you have been able to experience it yourself.”

Harrison looks back over his shoulder as he programs the food replicator. “But isn’t that a lot of work?” He takes plates of food out of the replicator and sets them down in front of Patricia and himself. After a silent pause, she starts to dig into her plate of food. “It can be, if you’re not into it. I have to tell you, fresh-cooked tastes a hell of a lot BETTER than field rations! I find that field rations just taste … UGH! NASTY!” She makes a face. Harrison sits down and picks up his fork. “When did you first have the opportunity to make these comparisons between fresh-cooked and field rations?” Patricia chews and swallows. “I’ll answer your question with a question, Dan. Have you ever had the opportunity to go on a training mission with the Klingons?” Harrison goes wide-eyed. “You mean that you …?!” Patricia nods. “Yup! I already had cooking skills from growing up with Gramps and Uncle Spock. We took many camping trips together, way back when. When I started the training missions with the Klingons, I quickly realized that I had to put my skills to immediate use in order to survive.”

Harrison leans forward. “I’m intrigued about your experiences during those early training missions!” Patricia swallows another bite. “In the beginning, it wasn’t easy. I have some physical challenges that I was born with. One Klingon tried to give me a hard time about them until I got fed up and punched his lights out! After that, I got respect!” The Captain looks curious but hesitates. “May I ask what those physical challenges are, if you don’t mind?” She takes another bite while she pauses. “Well, let’s just say that the physical challenges encompass neurological issues, digestive issues, physical endurance, and physical strength. I have my workarounds that have helped me to adapt to a variety of situations. This one individual thought it would be funny to target me because I was quote ‘different’ unquote, than your average Star Fleet type. I don’t take kindly to bullying in any form and he quickly learned that fact the hard way!” “What, exactly, did he do?”, the Captain asks. She swallows and clears her throat. “Tripping me, attempting to scare me with strange, ugly creatures … the usual schoolboy antics that I find very tiresome. I ignored those until the day he dumped over my cooking, picked me up by the front of my tunic, and spit in my face. THAT DID IT! He forgot that I still had a cast iron skillet in my fist when he put his hands on me. I was too angry to care when I punched him in the face and broke his nose! He was going to kill me when Martok intervened. Guaranteed that the bully NEVER attempted to mess with me again!”

Harrison is surprised. “MARTOK?! GENERAL MARTOK?! CHANCELLOR MARTOK?!” Patricia nods. “The one and the same. “Was there any fallout from Star Fleet over this?”, Harrison asks. Patricia shakes her head. “No, because Martok witnessed the entire incident from beginning to end. He vouched for me with the Top Brass and pronounced me an Honorary Klingon and a member of his noble House as his adopted daughter! The Top Brass weren’t about to go against the future Chancellor of the Klingon High Council of the Klingon Empire … even if he wasn’t a Chancellor yet! Martok seemed to command that kind of authority, even then. The Top Brass at Star Fleet seem to take the alliance between the Federation and the Klingon Empire quite seriously. When a member of Star Fleet is adopted by a high-ranking Klingon, especially someone like Martok, the Top Brass decided NOT to mess with that!” Harrison whistles then chuckles. “Remind me to NEVER get on your bad side! I don’t want the entire Klingon Empire coming after me!” Patricia chuckles. “”I’ll remember that!” The door chime to the Captain’s Ready Room sounds while Captain Harrison and Patricia are eating. The Captain puts down his utensils. “Come!”, he calls out. “The door slides open and Doctor Hatfield enters.

Patricia puts down her eating utensils and picks up her napkin to wipe crumbs off of her mouth. “Good morning, George.” “Good morning, Pat.”, Hatfield answers, “Feeling better this morning?” She puts down her napkin. “Yes, thank you. Sorry about being crabby yesterday.” The Captain turns to Doctor Hatfield. “Doctor McCoy was explaining what happened yesterday and I think we have finally cleared the air. The only loose end is the young Ensign. I would suggest letting him stew for a bit to think about his impulsiveness. This time it was harmless. Next time, it could get him killed!” Patricia nods. “Agreed! I presume that he is fresh out of the Academy? He seems to be about 17 or 18 years old … still a kid. The Captain nods in response. “Yes, he is quite young. He graduated early from high school. He’s very bright but socially inept. I worry about him and wonder if he will be a good fit here.” Patricia looks at both Doctor Hatfield and Captain Harrison. “Has this young Ensign ever been tested for the possibility of Autism Spectrum Disorder such as Asperger’s Syndrome or Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified?”

Hatfield shakes his head. “He’s very bright. Why should he be tested for that? Aren’t all people with autism low functioning?” Patricia gives Hatfield a pointed glare. “Because Asperger’s, which IS part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder, could be one possibility.” Hatfield nervously clears his throat. “You’re right! I should have thought of that!” He heads for the door. “I’ll get on this right away!” He pauses and looks at Patricia. “If it turns out that he has Asperger’s, then what?” “I would suggest counseling to work through the grieving process as there WILL be grieving for what might have been and what has happened in his past. There’s a lot of adjustment involved and he will need a good support system of people who won’t put him down because of his special challenges. He has talents that ARE needed or else he would have never gotten through Star Fleet Academy and been assigned to this ship!” The Captain looks at Patricia. “You sound like you have experience in this field.” Patricia takes another forkful of food, chews and swallows before answering. “Yes … I do.”, she responds slowly, “I wasn’t diagnosed until a few years ago.”

Harrison is surprised again. “Are you telling me … ? You mean you are … ?” Patricia looks at Hatfield and back at the Captain. “Yes, I have Asperger’s Syndrome … which is why I had the meltdown yesterday after becoming stressed out past my limits. It’s a long, convoluted story about why it took so long to find a qualified professional who was willing to talk TO an older adult who had suspected it for years. I won’t go into WHY I was never diagnosed as a child. I’m not comfortable discussing that now.” Harrison quietly whistles. “Wow! I never would have guessed!” “You’d be surprised as to how many Aspies … both diagnosed and suspected, have contributed much to science and society.”, Patricia continues, “It’s been long suspected that Albert Einstein, Mozart, Thomas Jefferson, possibly Zephraim Cochrane and Erik Soong, were Aspies. Why else were they perceived as ‘strange’, ‘weird’, ‘socially inept’, but were able to BRILLIANTLY think OUTSIDE the box’ and accomplish what they did?”

Harrison opens and closes his mouth several times without being able to speak as Hatfield grins at this. Patricia indicates the computer nearby. “I could probably check the database and give you a list of all the Aspies, diagnosed or undiagnosed but suspected, who contributed much to science and technology … things that you take for granted today and can’t imagine living without!” She notices that both Captain Harrison and Doctor Hatfield seem to be skeptical. She gets up from her breakfast, goes over to the computer and pulls up information. “In addition to Albert Einstein, there’s also Sir Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, Richard Feynman, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs. Now where would we be without THEIR contributions?” The Captain and Hatfield come around to read the computer screen. Both are wide-eyed and slack-jawed. Patricia gestures toward the computer screen. “See what I mean? So don’t count out this young Ensign as an insignificant misfit that should be thrown out like garbage!”

The Captain begins stammering. “Doctor McCoy, I didn’t mean to infer …” Patricia holds up her hand. “I know you didn’t … not consciously anyway. But I sensed the underlying attitude that could be just as damaging. The challenge, for you, is how to build up the Ensign’s strengths while helping him see how he can compensate for his weaknesses. I take it that this is his first posting since he graduated from the Academy. Am I correct?” “As a matter of fact, it is.”, the Captain confirms. “Doctor, this is new territory for me. How can I avoid doing the wrong thing by him?” Patricia pauses as she returns to her breakfast and sits down. “I can only speak from my own personal experiences, Dan. Please keep in mind that when you meet someone with Asperger’s … you have met only ONE person with Asperger’s. Not every Aspie thinks or behaves the same way. Asperger’s is a Spectrum Disorder, not one size fits all. Don’t assume that he knows everything that you think he should know. For example, approaching me on impulse instead of thinking first. I’ve done that when I was younger. Unwritten social rules are not instinctively understood. My meltdown was a violation of an unwritten social rule … so both the young Ensign and I had a bit of an Aspergian conflict … two aliens from the Wrong Planet trying to deal with a First Contact situation without any guidelines.” Both the Captain and Hatfield chuckle at the analogy.

Harrison nods. “Hadn’t thought of it from that perspective before. The way you describe it makes sense. Since the unwritten social rules are not instinctively understood, then I will need to sit him down and try to explain them. I’m not sure if I can do that.” Patricia considers her next suggestion. “Well, Captain, from my perspective, you are a bit of a father-figure to these new graduates … teaching them what they need to know to survive in the worst of circumstances, even the Kobyashi Maru. May I ask, do you have any children?” Harrison shakes his head. “No … not yet, anyway.” Patricia nods at this. “I’ll try to make a couple of suggestions that I hope will help. If you had a son, what would you want to teach him? If you are unable to imagine having a child of your own, maybe if you think back on your own impetuous, impulsive youth, the mischievous child that you might have been … what would you say to your younger self, given what you have learned, the hard way, from your own mistakes?” Hatfield chuckles and starts to say something but stops when the Captain glares at his Chief Medical Officer. Patricia continues. “We’ve all made youthful mistakes and indiscretions. That’s how we know not to repeat those mistakes in adulthood. Sometimes the School of Hard Knocks in the University of Life was the only way we COULD learn, in spite of what your parents tried to advise you.”

“If I understand you correctly”, the Captain interjects, “In addition to being his commanding officer, I’m also to be his teacher AND a parental-figure.” Patricia nods emphatically. “I think that sums it up quite nicely. I have no idea about his family background. You’ve worked with him longer, under your command than I’ve known him. You would know, better than I, if he’s homesick, or eager to please you to prove a point at home, or whatever his internal struggles may be. Trust me, he is PAINFULLY aware that he is DIFFERENT but doesn’t understand why. I’ve been there, done that!” Harrison looks thoughtful. “I’ll try to remember that.”

Patricia finishes up her breakfast and places the dirty dishes in the reclamator. “Thanks for the breakfast, Dan. I’m going to head back to my quarters and have some alone-time to recharge my batteries.” She starts to head for the door and Hatfield approaches her. “May I walk with you to your quarters?” “Certainly.”, she replies. The Captain also gets up to accompany both Doctors out of the Ready Room. “I’ll do the best I can,”, the Captain states, “Now that I understand what I might be dealing with here.” Patricia looks at him with all seriousness. “That’s all I can ask for, Dan.” She smiles at him. “For formality’s sake, permission to return to my quarters?” Harrison grins at her. “Of course, Captain … Doctor! You’re my guest, after all!” Patricia and Hatfield head out the door of the Captain’s Ready Room. The Captain calls out as he cleans up his own breakfast dishes. “One more thing, Doctor Hatfield. How soon can you be prepared to run those tests?” “I’ll need to consult with Doctor McCoy as this is new territory for me as well.”, Hatfield replies. He looks to Patricia who nods in agreement. The two Doctors leave the Captain’s Ready Room and go to the turbolift. The Captain leaves his Ready Room and heads to his command chair, which is quickly vacated by his First Officer. “I look forward to receiving your reports.” Patricia smiles. “Certainly, sir, and thanks, again, for the breakfast!”

She and Hatfield enter the turbolift. “Guest quarters!”, she calls out, and the turbolift starts to move. Hatfield looks over at her. “Care to talk about your own childhood pranks or other foolish, impulsive things you did when you were young?” Patricia’s mood instantly sours. “I don’t want to discuss my childhood, thank you!” Hatfield is confused. “I don’t understand. We all had childhoods …” “Well, I did NOT have a childhood!”, Patricia snaps back, “You want to know the details, ask my Great-grandfather! He MIGHT answer your questions. Until then, I REFUSE to discuss the subject! Do NOT pry into my affairs!” She withdraws into silence as she recalls how much she sounded like her Uncle Spock when someone was dumb enough to ask him about Pon Farr. Hatfield belatedly realizes that he just put his foot into again and mumbles. “Sorry …” The awkward silence continues until she arrives at her quarters and enters without saying another word, leaving Hatfield alone in the corridor as he mumbles to himself once more. “Well, old boy, you just did it again!” Patricia heads straight to bed and lays down, staring at the ceiling. “I wish people would just BACK OFF when they are reminded to BACK OFF! DAMMIT!”

Hatfield is walking back down the corridor, heading toward Sick Bay, when he encounters the young, impulsive Ensign. “Trying to stay out of trouble, young man?” The young Ensign stammers in response, “Y-y-yes, sir!” “I need for you to schedule an appointment with me!”, Hatfield informs him, “I have some things I need to review for my records!” “Yes, sir. Right away, sir! The Ensign hurries away in the opposite direction as quickly as possible. Hatfield thinks to himself, “Which reminds me that I have to have a consult with Doctor McCoy in spite of our latest falling out.” He enters Sick Bay, sits down at his comm-unit, and contacts Patricia’s guest quarters. When she hears the comm-link chime, she gets up and answers it. “McCoy, here!” “I’m sorry I’ve upset you … again.”, Hatfield begins, “Would it be possible to put our differences aside and collaborate on assessing the Ensign for Asperger’s?” Patricia gives him a wary look. “I’ll provide the types of assessments that were used to diagnose me. Give me time to pull them up.” She severs the connection without another word, leaving Hatfield feeling awkward. “Yep! I REALLY pissed her off this time!”

Patricia re-establishes the connection on Hatfield’s com-link. “Here’s some basic information regarding how Asperger’s is diagnosed. Look up the following links: . /lib/2010/aspergers-syndrome/ . /lib/2011/adult-aspergers-the-relief-of-a-diagnosis/ . /lib/2007/how-aspergers-disorder-is-diagnosed/all/1/ยป How Asperger’s Disorder is Diagnosed – Psych Central Asperger’s Disorder (also known as Asperger’s Syndrome, or AS).” Patricia continues, “Additional information will be provided shortly!” She severs the connection again, then reconnects the com-link with Hatfield. “And here is the Aspie Quiz that is designed for adults: Aspie-quiz .net Other languages:Out-of-date translations (final version 1) “Good luck!” She cuts off the connection.

Hatfield shakes his head. “There is NO question! I have pissed her off … AGAIN! I just don’t understand what is wrong with discussing her childhood. Why won’t she talk about it?” After attempting Vulcan meditation in an attempt to calm down, Patricia gets up and goes over to the comm-link. A communications officer appears onscreen. “May I be connected to Doctor Leonard McCoy, please?” “Certainly!”, the Communications Officer replies. In a few moments, Leonard McCoy’s image appears onscreen. Patricia smiles at the sight of him. “Hi, Gramps!” “And how’s my favorite Great-granddaughter doing today?”, as he grins back. Patricia’s facial expression changes to a scowl. “Frustrated! Upset! Irritable! Worried! You know … the usual!”

“Who are you having conflicts with THIS time?”, the old man asks. “The CMO on board this ship.”, she replies, “We got off on the wrong foot when he criticized what I chose to eat the first time he met me in their ship’s Ten-Forward. And this was BEFORE he introduced himself!” The old doctor shakes his head. “Uh-oh! That wasn’t smart!” Patricia continues, “Then a little while ago, he attempted to pressure me to talk about my childhood. WHY should I discuss anything personal with someone I do NOT know and have only just met?!” “Another move that was not very smart.”, the old man answers, “I presume you told him that you had no wish to discuss it?” Patricia nods. “Yep! And he STILL continued to push until I found myself having to choose between another meltdown or just shutting down.” “And which did you choose?”, he asks cautiously. “Relax, Gramps! I went into shutdown mode given that we were in a turbolift. Otherwise, I would have done a LOT of damage to both him AND the turbolift!” He nods in response as he gives a sigh of relief. “Lesser of the two evils …”, he pauses to think, “By the way, what is this CMO’s name? His behavior reminds me of someone I met. I just might know him.” “Hatfield.”, Patricia replies, “Doctor George Hatfield.” The old man gives himself a face-palm and shakes head. “Hatfield! I might have known!”

“You KNOW this guy!?”, she asks incredulously. Her Great-Grandfather frowns. “We have a passing acquaintance. We didn’t get along when we met at a medical conference. Commented about what I chose to eat and my choice of friends … including my being friends with Spock!” Patricia narrows her eyes as she considers this. “I see …” The old man continues, “He gave me the impression that he’s an arrogant know-it-all! The kind of personality that annoys me to no end!” “Unless he’s attempting to impress a lady …”, she interjects. Her Great-Grandfather quirks an eyebrow at that comment. “Tried to impress you, eh?” Patricia has a disgusted look on her face. “Operative word is that he TRIED! I have the impression from him that when he is told to back off, butt out, and shut up, he thinks you mean butt in and keep talking!” The old doctor nods. “Yep! That is the Doctor Hatfield that I came to be acquainted with! No question about it!”

“He also seemed to be confused about my reference to Spock as my Uncle.”, Patricia continues. The old doctor’s expression turns sour. “I got the sense that he doesn’t approve of, or like, Vulcans very much.” Patricia becomes even more disgusted as she responds sarcastically, “Oh … wonderful!” Leonard McCoy gestures toward the screen, “Let’s talk about something more pleasant, child. Do you know how soon you will be arriving home … OUR home … I mean? I told the Top Brass that I prefer to stay at the old digs in Georgia while you’re visiting. I have your old room set up.” “I need to ask Captain Harrison. I don’t know what Warp Factor we are traveling at. I can’t wait to get back to my old stomping grounds and be able to REALLY hug you again!” “And I can’t wait to see YOU, child! I’ve missed you!” “I’ve missed you so much, too, Gramps! Any new developments on Uncle Spock’s disappearance?”, she asks.

The old man reaches for something toward the side, where Patricia can’t see. “There has been some new developments. After the Vulcan Investigators analyzed the crime scene the first time, new pieces of evidence turned up, that they do not recognize, when they went back to wrap things up. I’ve asked if they could preserve the scene until you get there to look it over. I know you’re also into forensics. What was found has Terran origins but the local Vulcan authorities are stumped about it. I thought you might be able to recognize it.” “Has anyone taken an image of this new evidence?”, she asks, intrigued. He continues to handle an item, off screen. “As a matter of fact, yes. It was sent to me, asking me if it belonged to Spock. I knew it didn’t but I didn’t know what these things are. Here, let me put it onscreen for you to look at.” The images of the items appear onscreen. As she looks at these images of the evidence, all the color drains from her face. “Gramps”, barely speaking above a hoarse whisper, “I DO recognize these pieces of evidence and I KNOW exactly who it belongs to!” Leonard McCoy’s image reappears onscreen, looking concerned. “What? Who?” Patricia looks grim. “My brother, James Yuri!”

The old man is thunderstruck. “Are you sure!? How can you tell? You were so little when you were abandoned. How is it possible you remember that!?” She pauses to find her voice. “Some horrors stick in your mind for the rest of your life, Gramps! That was one of the instruments of torture that he and the Womb-Donor used to abuse me. I also have a confession to make. Remember when I returned from an assignment and my mood was worse than before? I saw my brother, in adulthood, not long after Womb-Donor died. He still had at least one of those pieces, at that time, and threatened me with it. In fact, he attacked me like he used to do years ago. This time, he didn’t expect Star Fleet defense tactics in return!” “Tell me about this encounter.”, the old doctor somberly requests.

“That assignment, that triggered my PTSD … was when I was stationed at a nursing home for the elderly, for my geriatric rotation. I was called to the bedside of a dying patient. You can imagine my reaction when, upon my arrival in the patient’s room, I discovered it was she who gave birth to me and abandoned me … sold me into slavery! She had been admitted under a different name … an alias! Ethically, I could not take her case and called in another physician …” She pauses and swallows hard. “Go on, child …”, her Great-Grandfather coaxes. She continues her narrative. “Having another doctor there, as witness, didn’t stop her venom. Her dying words, aimed at me, were curses, vile-names, wished that she had never given birth to me, I was a mistake that should have been aborted, her son was her ONLY child … ad nauseum. I asked her … if he was her GOLDEN child, why wasn’t HE at her bedside … being the dutiful, loving son? She couldn’t answer that. The nursing home staff informed me that he had disappeared, leaving no current contact information. When she started cursing me again, I pointed out WHERE she was and, if she preferred to die alone, be my guest as no one was required to listen to that kind of hate! It might not have been the ethical thing to say. The way I was feeling, at the time, I no longer cared given what she had done to me. She just got more vile and hateful. I left. The other doctor came out into the hallway, about a minute or so later, to tell me that she had just died.”

“How did you feel … right then?”, he asks. “I felt … numb.”, she responds, “This … creature … was gone. That monster could never hurt me again.” “If your brother was still missing”, the old man inquires, “… then … how did you encounter him?” Patricia nods. “I expected you would ask that question, Gramps. The nursing home staff still had his last known address at the time this … creature … was admitted. I used that as a starting point, given that I had resources available to me that the nursing home did not. I was able to track him down on one of the non-Federation worlds and … against my better judgment, went to see him to tell him that she was dead. I know now that was a HUGE mistake! If you thought that monster was hateful … he was WORSE! She trained him well. That’s when he attempted to physically assault me with that, she gestures toward the view screen, … instrument … that was still in his possession at the time. He never expected that I could wipe the floor with him … and did! That was the last time I laid eyes on him.”

Leonard McCoy looks thoughtful. “And you think your brother had something to do with Spock’s disappearance?” Patricia gestures again. “Those pieces of evidence left behind leave no doubt in my mind!” The old man looks puzzled and confused. “But these items were not found earlier! And we both know how meticulous Vulcans are when they investigate anything!” Patricia nods. “Which tells me that my brother made a return visit to deliberately leave a message.” “Leave a message?”, he replies, quizzically, “For whom?” Patricia points at herself with her thumb. “For me.” The old man looks even more puzzled. “I don’t understand. Why would he go after Spock? He’s stronger than a human, he has more battle skills than I can ever hope to have! He could have easily killed your brother, with Tal Shaya, in self-defense, if not torn him limb from limb. I’ve seen what Spock is capable of when he loses all emotional control and it’s NOT pretty! It’s just not logical!” Patricia tilts her head as she gazes steadily at her Great-Grandfather. “Is it, Gramps? I’m looking at this scenario from Spock’s point of view. Consider this … Fact … my brother knows that he can no longer physically threaten me. When he left those instruments of torture at Spock’s place, he was leaving me the message that even though he can no longer hurt me, he can STILL HURT people I love!” “I’m not sure I follow that logic …”, he replies. Patricia gestures more emphatically. “Think about it, Gramps! Knowing my brother’s twisted psyche, he probably expected BOTH of you to show up at Uncle Spock’s home, as you have been known to visit his home world from time to time, consulting with the Healers. It’s no secret and I suspect that my brother has been stalking one or more of us for years. When he was confronted with only Spock, I’m sure my brother was enraged that nothing went according to his sick little plan! He probably threatened to hunt you down, knowing that you would not have the same defensive skills, nor strength, that Uncle Spock still possesses.”

“Go on …”, the old doctor says, while nodding. She continues. “Knowing Uncle Spock, his logical and diplomatic skills, he persuaded my brother to take him hostage instead … buying time for you and me.” “If that is the case …”, the old man asks, “What can you and I do?” Patricia scratches her head as she thinks, then shrugs, shaking her head. “Right now, I don’t know. I don’t dare underestimate my brother … even though he is clearly a sick man!” Leonard McCoy shakes his head with an incredulous look on his face. “I just cannot imagine anyone so full of hate … directed toward you … when the two of you have not had any contact with each other since you were children. I just don’t understand it!” She gives her Great-Grandfather a grim look. “God only knows what twisted filth that monster filled his head with over the years until he finally dumped her in that nursing home and left!” She shakes her head. “Ironic, isn’t it, Gramps? When she sold me into slavery, she abandoned me … and took off with him. Then HE ABANDONED HER! There’s an old saying … ‘Paybacks are hell and Karma’s a bitch!’ Looks like the Karma goddess finally caught up with her! I only wish we could undo the damage she did to him!” The chime at her door sounds.

“Hold on, Gramps!”, as she gets up, “Let me see who that is. I’ll be right back!” She walks over to the door, which slides open. Hatfield is standing there and Patricia scowls at him. “And what do YOU want?!” “Are you busy?”, he asks tentatively. “As a matter of fact, YES!”, she snaps. Leonard McCoy’s voice can be heard from the comm-link. “Tell DOCTOR Hatfield that us McCOYs can consult with him … LATER!” Hatfield seems to recognize who is speaking. “That voice! I think I’ve heard it before!” “As a matter of fact, yes, you did!”, Leonard replies. Hatfield gives Patricia a confused look. “I did?” “Yes!”, Leonard says. Patricia continues to glare at Hatfield as she adds in. “As a matter of fact … at the medical conference, where you insulted an old man regarding his choice of friends, including a certain Vulcan named Spock!” Hatfield searches his memory. “I vaguely recall joking with some old guy …” Patricia’s scowl deepens. “And the joke was NOT even remotely funny!” Hatfield looks even more confused. “I don’t understand. What does THAT have to do with you?” Patricia continues to glare as Leonard McCoy continues from the comm-link. “Tell him, child!” “Huh? Tell me what?”, Hatfield looks bemused. “THAT ‘old guy'”, Patricia snaps out, “Is Doctor Leonard McCoy also known as ADMIRAL Leonard McCoy!” Understanding is starting to glimmer in Hatfield’s mind. “Oh-h-h-h, yes! I remember meeting Doctor Leonard McCoy at the medical conference!” “And DOCTOR Leonard McCoy happens to BE MY GREAT-GRANDFATHER, YOU IDIOT!”

Hatfield is starting to understand a little more but Patricia isn’t finished with him yet. “I also understand that you DON’T approve of humans ‘fraternizing’ with Vulcans, or whatever it was that you said to that effect, to Gramps, at that conference!” “Pat, you’re being too sensitive! Vulcans do have their place …”, Hatfield starts to say until she cuts him off. “THEIR place?!”, she shouts with a glare. Hatfield finally realizes that the time to play games is over. “Well, if you must know, I don’t believe that humans and Vulcans should be fraternizing at all. We don’t need any more half-breeds like that Spock fellow!” Patricia has had enough. “For YOUR information … Hatfield, that ‘half-breed Spock fellow’ also happens to BE MY UNCLE SPOCK!” Hatfield realizes, too late, that he has crossed the line and there is no going back. “But, but, but, I only meant it as a little joke!” “A VERY LITTLE joke, Hatfield!”, Patricia spits out angrily, “Now take your insincere, two-faced racist self OUT OF MY SIGHT!” She shuts the door in his face. Leonard McCoy has heard the whole exchange between Hatfield and his Great-Granddaughter. “THAT told him!”, he adds in.

Patricia sits back down at the comm-link. “I DESPISE idiots like that!”, she seethes. The old doctor gestures at her to calm down. “Don’t let it get to you, child!” She takes a few breaths. “It’s hard to ignore when I encounter obsequious fools who try to get on my good side as the means to either get to you … or attempt to make another sexual conquest to add to the notches on their bedpost! DAMMIT” “I hear you!”, he says, “You’ll be here in a few days and then we can focus more on the issue at hand … finding out where your brother took Spock.” She looks worried. “Which could be ANYWHERE in ANY quadrant, including the Badlands!” “Child, we can analyze the possibilities AFTER you get here!”, he replies, “For now, I prescribe rest and relaxation so you can calm down from that encounter with that moron!” Patricia nods in agreement. “Good idea! Thanks, Gramps! I’m going to try that! See you then! Love you!” “Love you, too, child!”, as he signs off and his image vanishes from the view screen. She gets up, goes over and picks up her crochet project, then relaxes on the bed. “Now … where was I with this?” She resumes crocheting.

A few days later, the ship settles in at Earth’s space dock. Patricia thanks Captain Harrison and is given permission to disembark. Hatfield wisely stays out of sight. She takes a shuttle and lands near her Great-grandfather’s winter home in Georgia. As she exits the shuttle with her luggage, Leonard McCoy comes out to greet her. She drops her baggage and hurries to embrace him. “Gramps!” She and the old doctor hug each other. “I’ve missed you so much!”, she exclaims as she kisses his cheek. He holds his Great-granddaughter back at arm’s length. “Let me take a good look at you, child! Bags under your eyes, pale complexion … and you’ve put on too much weight!” “Dammit, Gramps!”, she snaps irritably, “The last time we were together, you told me I LOST too much weight! I can’t win either way!” He gestures towards her. “Okay! Okay! Point taken, child! Let’s get your luggage over here.” “Thanks, Gramps!”, she says as she walks over to get her luggage, then calls over her shoulder, “What’s on the game plan regarding the Vulcan investigation?” “That’s what I wanted to talk to you about, in person, as soon as you arrived. Don’t unpack! We are going to Vulcan!”

Patricia straightens up, turns and faces him. “Why couldn’t you tell me this earlier?” He walks over to her. “I didn’t want to alarm you, child … nor tip off your brother. The Vulcan Investigators have found evidence that your brother has been monitoring our communications. That’s how he knew about your connection with Spock, your involvement with analyzing evidence, and my frequent travels with him. They’re just not sure HOW he was able to accomplish that.” “Gramps”, she responds, “Remember when I said that YOUR travels were no secret? The activities of you and Uncle Spock were often reported on the Federation News Network. My brother may not be a rocket scientist, but he DOES have connections to follow up on whatever plans he had been developing over the years based on what he learned from those news reports. For all we know, he could be hanging out with the Orion Syndicate … or still be in connection with the slaver creeps I was sold to.” Leonard McCoy nods at that. “And I still think that he found a way to tap into our communications so that he knew when we communicated … even recently. Not long after I told you that Spock had vanished without a trace and the local authorities were stumped … then those … things … suddenly appear at Spock’s home! The more I think about what you told me earlier, the more I understand that was his way to let us both know that he knew what we knew … besides giving you a threatening message.”

Patricia’s facial expression turns grim. “You have a point there, Gramps.” The old doctor gestures with his thumb over his shoulder. “I’ve got my bags already packed and a vehicle waiting for us. Let’s go!” She lifts up her luggage and starts to follow her Great-Grandfather. “How can we be sure that my brother has not set up an ambush before we get to our destination?”, she asks. As both McCoy’s approach the waiting vehicle, the driver overhears her question and responds, “Because I can make sure that you both get there in one piece!” Patricia stops and gives the driver a puzzled look. She doesn’t recognize him but her Great-grandfather starts grinning. “Who are you?”, she asks this new stranger, “I don’t think I remember you.” “Hikaru Sulu, at your service!”, he answers, “Your great-grandfather and I served together on the Enterprise! It’s been years since the last time you saw me so I can’t expect you to recognize me right away! You’ve come a long way since that little six-year-old I first met, all those years ago!” She looks back and forth between Leonard McCoy and Sulu. “You trust him with your life, Gramps?” Leonard is still grinning. “I most certainly do, child!” “But”, Patricia hesitates, “Don’t you think my brother picked up on the communication between the two of you?” The old doctor gestures toward Sulu. “That’s the beauty of it! When Sulu heard on the news about Spock’s disappearance, he came straight here without saying a word to anyone. At first, he wanted to offer his condolences. But when he learned about the circumstances, that’s when we came up with a plan to get us to Vulcan without your brother finding out.”

She shakes her head. “I know I’m sounding paranoid. I’m still afraid that my brother has ways to track us down no matter what we do or where we go.” “My piloting skills can take care of that!”, Sulu answers, “Plus I have friends.” “Thanks, Sulu!”, she says with relief as she places her luggage in the vehicle. Leonard McCoy also places his luggage in the vehicle. “By the way, child,” the old doctor says, “I brought along tri-ox and albuterol to help you breathe in the Vulcan atmosphere. The albuterol you take for your asthma might not be sufficient anymore as you get older.” She nods. “Thanks, Gramps! I never would have thought of that … especially given that I didn’t know I was going to Vulcan in the first place so I didn’t tote that stuff with me!” He winks at his Great-granddaughter. “Always looking out for your well-being!” Patricia grins back at him. “Yes, doctor!” Leonard McCoy scowls as Sulu laughs.

“By the way, Gramps”, she adds, “I’m sitting in the FRONT seat THIS time! You had your turn last time!” Sulu laughs harder. “LOVE your comedy routine, you two!” Patricia bats her eyes innocently. “What comedy routine?” The old doctor shakes his head. “You just want an excuse to sit with Sulu and flirt!” She gives her Great-Grandfather a mock scowl. “And what’s wrong with having a little fun during the trip?” Sulu is clearly ENJOYING this! “Come on, Leonard! My intentions with your Great-granddaughter are honorable!” Patricia wags a finger at Sulu playfully. “They better be or Martok might have something to say about THAT! He’s my unofficial body-guard, as well as my adoptive father, you know!” Sulu gives her a look of mock horror. “A KLINGON body-guard?! YIKES! I better be careful!” Patricia looks over the seat at her Great-Grandfather as the old man adds, “And if you are NOT careful with MY Great-granddaughter, then you WILL answer to ME!” Patricia grins as she looks back at her Great-Grandfather’s old friend. “Sulu, I think we better get going while Gramps is still in a good mood!” The old doctor quirks an eyebrow at that comment. “I’M in a GOOD mood?” She grins back at him. “Aren’t you always, Gramps?” Sulu continues to chuckle as he pilots the vehicle up.

The vehicle docks with one of the freighters in Space-dock on a nearby asteroid. The three passengers disembark onto the freighter and a departing passenger takes over the vehicle, piloting it away. Patricia gives a questioning look. “Which way, Gramps? I have NO idea where to find ANYTHING aboard a freighter! I’ve never had the opportunity to travel in one before. What kind of arrangements did you make?” The old doctor holds up his hands. “Don’t look at me! Sulu made these arrangements!” She turns to looks at her Great-Grandfather’s friend. “Sulu?” “Well, the way I look at it”, he answers, “You and Leonard would need to travel incognito. What better way than traveling aboard a Khobeerian freighter?” She nods. “I understand that, Sulu, given my brother’s proclivities. The thing is, I’ve never been on a freighter before, let alone a Khobeerian one, so I have NO idea where to find where we will be bunking, or where the Ladies Room is!” Sulu blushes while Leonard McCoy laughs. Patricia looks at both of them. “In that case”, the old doctor replies, “I think I can point the way. I’ve traveled on a freighter or two during my lifetime! Come on, child!” He starts to head down the corridor as Patricia begins to follow, and starts wheezing slightly. “Gramps”, she calls out, “Did you also bring along my old nebulizer that was given to me on Vulcan years ago? I think I’m going to need it!”

The old doctor turns toward her with alarm. “What symptoms are you having, child?!” Her wheezing is starting to worsen. “There’s something, possibly in the cargo bay, that’s triggering an allergic reaction.” Sulu turns to look at Patricia. “What are you allergic to?” She indicates her Great-Grandfather. “Gramps should have my medical records with him. There’s a long list of things. I thought I had outgrown them by now. Clearly, I have not!” She has a disgusted look on her face as she continues to wheeze. “I thought that with your experiences with the Klingons”, Sulu comments, “That you stopped having that kind of medical issue.” Patricia nods. “Normally, I have my asthma well under control, especially if I know what type of environment I’m going to encounter and prepare for it. However, this freighter is carrying some sort of unknown cargo that is triggering my asthma due to particulates floating in the air.” Sulu is puzzled about that. “I don’t understand how that is possible.” “As you may know, Sulu, on Star Fleet vessels, whether they are shuttles, runabouts, or star-ships, the air filtration system is required to be a certain standard and operates at peak efficiency. Non-Star Fleet vessels, such as Khobeerian and Ferengi, don’t always function at that same level. If you don’t have asthma, you don’t notice the difference … out of sight, out of mind. People like me detect it almost immediately and it feels miserable!” Sulu makes a face. “UGH!” “UGH is right!”, Patricia agrees.

The old doctor halts and points to a door. “Here’s one of the guest quarters. Let’s get you settled and get that nebulizer going.” The door opens and they enter the room. Patricia looks around hesitantly. “Gramps, how can you be sure that these are my quarters and not some random crew-person’s?” “Because Sulu and I had the chance to talk with the Khobeerian Captain before you arrived. These quarters are yours and the quarters across the hall are mine and Sulu’s. Now, let’s get you situated!” He sets down his luggage and starts rummaging for the nebulizer. Patricia looks at Sulu. “You’re rooming with Gramps?! Aren’t you two going to drive each other crazy?!” Sulu grins. “Me? No! If I could tolerate him on the Enterprise, I can tolerate him anywhere!” The old doctor glares over his shoulder at him causing Patricia to laugh. “Good enough for me, Sulu!” Leonard hoists the nebulizer triumphantly. “HERE it is!” “FINALLY!”, Patricia exclaims with relief. She takes it from her Great-Grandfather and places the nebulizer mask over her face. “That feels better!”, she says with a muffled voice.

Sulu and the old doctor wait quietly while Patricia completes her nebulizer treatment. “Ahhh!”, she breathes as she takes the nebulizer mask from her face and takes a deep breath. “THAT’S MUCH better!” “Did you have this much trouble while you were on missions with the Klingons?”, Sulu asks. Patricia shrugs nonchalantly. “On Corbus V, I had some challenges … both with the atmosphere and with a Klingon bully!” Her Great-grandfather grins proudly. “That’s where and when she broke a Klingon’s nose with ONE punch!” Sulu becomes wide-eyed. “Got it!” Patricia puts down the nebulizer. “Gramps, don’t forget that I cracked that dude with a cast iron skillet! Now, where do we get something to eat during this voyage?” “I’ll go check with the Captain.”, Sulu responds as he heads out the door.

The old man shakes head at his Great-Granddaughter. “Always thinking about food!” “Gramps”, Patricia retorts, “Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Take care of the basic needs and we can continue with self-actualization.” He puts his arm around her shoulders and gives a gentle squeeze. You haven’t forgotten that, have you, when I was discussing that with Spock and you were listening without me realizing it? At times I forget that you still struggle with those memories.” She rubs at her eyes. “Thanks, Gramps. I’m so glad you and Uncle Spock rescued me!” “It still enrages me that you were abandoned, in the first place, by someone who SHOULD have been protecting you!”, the old man states through clenched teeth. “Well”, Patricia replies, “She is receiving her justice in HELL for eternity!” Her Great-grandfather gives her a kiss on the cheek. “Let’s change the subject to something more pleasant, get you unpacked, and settled in for this trip!” “Sure, Gramps!”, she replies and starts to go through her luggage.

Sulu returns with good news. “Our friend, the Captain, has invited us to dine with him.” Patricia gives him a curious look. “Is this Khobeerian a good friend of yours?” Sulu shrugs. “Let’s just say he owes me a few favors.” She shakes her head. “I’m not sure I want to know …” Sulu laughs. “It’s not that bad. He and I play poker on a regular basis. I taught him the game and he’s been known to clean me out of credits from time to time. I just happened to win the last few games. Come on! Let’s go to the Captain’s Dining area. I’m hungry!” “I’m not sure about Khobeerian Cuisine!”, Patricia says reluctantly, “I’ve heard that it’s similar to the Ferengi diet, which I couldn’t stomach!” Sulu shakes his head. “It’s not as bad as Klingon cuisine!” Patricia gives him a doubtful look. “Depending on your taste preferences …” Sulu gestures. “Don’t worry! His food replicator can provide human food as well.” She looks relieved. “Well, in that case, I’m in the mood for sashimi!” The old doctor grimaces. “RAW fish?!” Both Patricia and Sulu turn and give him a raised eyebrow apiece. “And?!” “What’s wrong with sashimi and sushi?”, Sulu adds, “That has been part of my family’s cuisine for centuries!” “And don’t forget the Omega-3’s!”, Patricia chimes in with her best physician’s voice, “They are supposed to be good for you!” The old man holds his hands up in surrender and growls. “Forget I said anything!” Patricia and Sulu grin at each other as they all continue down the corridor toward the Captain’s Dining Area.

Sulu turns to her. “Don’t be surprised if he attempts to flirt with you.” Patricia stops short. “I think he needs to be forewarned that I’m not in the mood for flirting, especially with a total stranger. It’s one thing to joke with you, but as for anyone being interested in me … NO! Ever since Quon was killed on the Guardian’s planet, I have no interest in that department. I tolerated Quark’s flirting, to a certain extent while I was on DS9, because he’s … Quark. Anyone else … no thank you … NOT interested!” “I think Doctor Quon would have liked for you to go on living instead of existing.”, Leonard McCoy says gently. Patricia turns and looks her Great-grandfather square in the face. “Is that what you did, Gramps, after Great-Grandmother bugged out?” “That’s different!”, the old man snaps angrily, “And mind your manners, young lady!”

Patricia glares back. “I am no longer young, physically. I am old enough to be someone’s grandmother. Mentally and emotionally, I was not allowed to be young in order to survive. You know what I went through, Gramps! We both grieve the deaths of relationships and … both Quon and Great-grandmother are dead … murdered as a result of treachery by someone else. Face it, you and me being Star Fleet got them both killed. I don’t want to risk that again. I also made one other mistake, at Star Fleet Medical Academy, trusting someone who I thought cared about me, as I am, and he almost murdered me for my attempt to have a normal life, whatever that’s supposed to be.” Sulu clears his throat awkwardly. “Excuse me …” Patricia shakes her head. “Never mind. I’m not hungry now.” She turns and heads back to her quarters.

Sulu turns to his old friend, gives him a questioning look and the old doctor growls, “What?!” Patricia re-enters her guest quarters and locks the door behind her as she shouts, “Dammit!” Her Great-grandfather follows her to the door and finds it locked. “Child!”, he calls out. “Gramps!”, she shouts tearfully, “I was NEVER a child! PLEASE LEAVE ME BE!” He is at a loss about what to do. Sulu quietly approaches and gently pulls him away from the door. “Leonard”, he says quietly, “Give her some breathing room. I get the feeling that she has been dealing with a lot for many years. And now that Spock has been kidnapped by her brother, doing God knows what to him …” The old man pauses. “She’s probably having PTSD flashbacks to the abuse she endured. If only I can persuade her to try the new medication that’s recently become available. It’s better now than years ago.” Sulu gently places a hand on his old friend’s shoulder. “Leonard, drugs cannot undo the damage that was done since she was a baby. This is something that SHE needs to work through … without well-meaning interference from anyone. All we can do is be supportive. No one has the right to tell her how she SHOULD feel! Even Spock knows that.”

The old doctor sighs. “You’re right. And I should talk … given that I reacted the same way when my wife left me … taking everything in the divorce and leaving nothing but bones. I didn’t accept what happened. I simply ran away … to Star Fleet.” Sulu nods in understanding. “At least Pat has someone to run to … you and Spock. Now with Spock missing, she’s scared because she KNOWS what her brother is capable of doing!” McCoy nods back. “And I’m scared too! That man is a psychopath!” Sulu looks his friend straight in the eye. “Is that his fault, Len?” The old man shakes his head. “No. That MONSTER who married their father did all this to BOTH of them!” “We can only hope that Spock can talk some sense into her brother.”, Sulu replies, “Don’t underestimate him.” “You are correct there as well, Hikaru.”, McCoy says with a half-smile and a chuckle, “Don’t let Spock know how much he has influenced all of us. He’ll get a swelled head!” Sulu chuckles in response. “Okay. In the meantime, let’s go talk to the Khobeerian Captain. He’s probably wondering what’s taking us so long.” “Okay.”, the old doctor replies, “But I’m NOT having raw fish!” Sulu claps him on the back as they walk on down the corridor to the Captain’s Dining area.

Patricia makes several futile attempts at Vulcan meditation but fails. She gets up, with a sigh, and starts pacing around the room muttering to herself. “I know Gramps means well. I wish I knew if Spock is all right.” McCoy and Sulu arrive at the door to the Captain’s Dining area and push the door chime. They hear the Khobeerian Captain’s voice call out, “Come!” The door slides open to reveal the Captain straightening the table ware. “Good! Good! You’re finally here!” He gives the two humans a puzzled look. “I thought there would be three of you.” “My Great-granddaughter is not feeling well.”, the old doctor replies. The Khobeerian looks disappointed. “I see. Please let her know that I hope she feels better soon.” Both humans seat themselves at the table. “Thank you. I’ll do that.”, McCoy replies. Back at the guest quarters, Patricia eventually calms down after pacing for quite a while and unlocks her door. She lays down on the bed again. “I’m sure Uncle Spock would see this reaction as completely illogical.”, she mutters to herself as she shakes her head. She hears the door chime. “Come!”, she calls out. The door slides open revealing her Great-grandfather and Sulu. They are each carrying a covered dish. “I shared your regrets with the Captain and he insisted on sending you something to eat.”, the old man gestures with the covered dish he is holding, “He says you need to keep your strength up and, as your doctor, I concur!” Patricia sits up and accepts the dishes. “Thanks, Gramps, Sulu.” She lifts the lids from both dishes. “Sushi! Sashimi!”, she exclaims with delight.

Sulu grins. “I told the Khobeerian Captain that you liked this so he programmed his food replicator for it. It’s not bad for replicated food even though I prefer it fresh-caught near my ancestral home in Japan.” Patricia samples a piece of sliced salmon. “YUM!” Gramps shakes head with a grimace. “I can NEVER understand how you can eat RAW fish!” “Do you remember Oysters on the Half Shell?”, she asks. The old man gestures, “But that’s different!” “I love Oysters on the Half Shell as much as you do, Gramps!”, she continues, “Has it occurred to you that they are still RAW oysters?!” Sulu is trying hard not to laugh out loud. “And Gramps, I remember the last time you STARTED to prepare Oysters on the Half Shell for dinner and kept snacking your way through the prep! By the time you were done, you had spoiled your dinner and there were barely enough left over for my portion!” Sulu snickers. “Isn’t there a saying about Oysters and Lovers?” McCoy glares at him and Sulu holds up his hands. “Never mind!” “The point I’m trying to make”, Patricia says patiently, “Is that if we can eat raw oysters then we can also eat Sushi and Sashimi.”

“Spock’s logical mind has rubbed off on you!”, her Great-grandfather comments. “We’ve both have had a mind-meld with him so you also know how he thinks,Gramps!”, she retorts, “You also had his Katra and I didn’t, remember? Having his Katra gives you an advantage about understanding his Vulcan logic.” “Leonard”, Sulu chimes in, “I think you better quit this argument. You’re not going to win because you are basically arguing with yourself PLUS Spock!” Patricia grins. “Thanks, Sulu! Given that both Gramps and Spock raised me, both of their ways of thinking have rubbed off on me!” The door chime sounds and Patricia gives both men a quizzical look. “Who?” The door slides open, revealing the Khobeerian Captain who acknowledges everyone in the room. “Hello.” “Hello, again.”, replies the old doctor. Patricia indicates the covered dishes. “Thank you for sending the sushi and sashimi. I really appreciate this.”

The Khobeerian Captain bows his head to her. “You’re very welcome, Doctor McCoy. Are you feeling better?” “Yes”, she replies, “Thank you.” “I’m glad.”, says the Khobeerian, “If you need anything, please let me know. I’ll be on the bridge.” He leaves and the doors slide closed. Patricia looks thoughtful. “He seems … respectful … of my boundaries.” The old doctor hesitates before responding. “Child, I understand your caution. Just try not to become too extreme about it.” Patricia turns to her Great-grandfather. “And, at the same time, don’t jump into the deep end with both feet.” The old man gives her a quizzical look. “Meaning … ?” “Meaning”, she adds, “You can’t just blindly trust everyone completely. Trust has to be earned.” “I see …”, he responds. Patricia indicates the door, “Nothing against him, personally. I just don’t know him.” “Leonard”, Sulu comments, “She does have a point.” “As long as we get to Vulcan, safely, and find Uncle Spock …” Patricia concludes, “THAT is my top priority!” McCoy and Sulu nod. “Agreed.” The Khobeerian freighter arrives at the planet Vulcan. Patricia, her Great-grandfather, and Sulu disembark via shuttle as both McCoy’s detest the transporter. Sulu pilots the shuttle and lands it at a port near the city of ShiKahr.

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