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

NOBODY’S CHILD
by Pat McCoy

CHAPTER THREE – Academy Challenges

After obtaining her high school diploma, Patricia wanted to begin her Academy studies immediately. Doctor McCoy insisted that she put on the brakes and allow some breathing room between completing high school and preparing to enter medical school. “Child!”, he fussed at her while they were hanging out in his kitchen, “At least give me time to adjust to having an empty nest before you fledge and test your wings!” Patricia looks at him confused. “Your house doesn’t look like a bird’s nest to me, Gramps!” The old doctor growls back, “Cute! Very cute!” She giggles and kisses the side of his face. She gives him a wistful look. “Gramps, I’m looking forward to going to Star Fleet Medical Academy and, at the same time, I’m feeling homesick now. I wish I didn’t have to leave you alone, here, in Georgia. Who’s going to look after you?” Doctor McCoy shakes his head. “Child, I’m not THAT helpless! I’m still Star Fleet myself, I would have you know! I can pop in for a visit anytime I want to! Besides, I want to make sure the young men treat my Great-Grandbaby with respect!” “Yes, Gramps!”, she sighs, “Just be careful how you swing that baseball bat! You smack ’em, I stitch ’em up!” Doctor McCoy snickers. “I’m not THAT evil, child!” She giggles again then pulls out her class schedule. “Gramps, you actually did all THIS when you were in medical school?!” He nods. “Of course, child! And that was BEFORE I went to Star Fleet Medical! At first, I started out at ‘Ole Miss’. I was able to give you a head start with biology, chemistry, physics, and any other required pre-med courses. Now you’ll be looking forward to pre-clinical coursework plus rotations through various wards at the teaching hospital and beyond. All I ask is don’t pull a ‘McCoy’ on anyone!”, as he wags a finger at her. Patricia looks at him, genuinely confused. “Pull a ‘McCoy’? What does that mean?” The old doctor gives her a stern look. “It means, child, don’t drop my name in an attempt to get special privileges. I will NOT be a happy camper if you do THAT!” She nods. “I understand, Gramps. Besides, I want to earn my own merits and not be accused of riding on your coattails!” He places an arm around her shoulders. “That’s my girl!” “Thanks, Gramps!” She grins. “Can I start borrowing your medical books again? I need to get busy!” Doctor McCoy sighs, shakes his head at her, and smiles.

The first semester at Star Fleet Medical Academy feels overwhelming. Trying to adjust to a new schedule, a new environment, learning her way around campus, getting lost, and struggling with her Asperger’s, even though she still had not been officially diagnosed with the Syndrome. Her Great-Grandfather set up another home, nearby, so she could have a quiet place to study, away from all the sensory overload. Some of her classmates reacted with disapproval and accused her of being a stuck-up snob. Others looked down on her and pronounced her “Weird” and/or called her a “Stupid Freak” among other names. None of this rejection was new to her. She had encountered the same behaviors from her school-mates when she was a younger teenager the short time she attempted to attend public school. But this time, she knew that their opinions did not define her. One classmate seemed to treat her differently and acted as if he was genuinely interested in her as a person.
When she came home from class, and was practicing self-defense techniques with Captain Uhura, she described this young man who seemed to like her. “I just don’t know what to make of his attention”, Patricia commented, in between practice bouts. I’ve never had a boy really interested in me before. Uhura looked thoughtful. “Patricia”, she advised, “Just take it slow. He’s young and you’re young. This might be his first time away from home, too.” Patricia nods in agreement and resumes self-defense practice.

Weeks went by, and the young man intensified his attentions toward Patricia, so much so that she started feeling distinctly uncomfortable. She had initially trusted him. Now, he was starting to really creep her out as he became more controlling. The more he attempted to aggressively seduce her, the more she backed away. He was reminding her, too much, of what she had endured when she had been a child-slave. Finally, he cornered her, when she was studying in an empty room, and made the mistake of trying to force himself on her. When she responded with “NO!”, he became enraged and started punching her. When he pulled a knife and started slashing at her, her self-defense training kicked in. When she was done, he was lying on the floor, bleeding and she ran from the room, wanting to get as far away as possible from the nightmares that were resurrected in her memory. Unfortunately, the incident did not end there.

The following morning, as she was having breakfast with her Great-Grandfather, and was telling him some of the details of the incident with her aggressive classmate, Star Fleet Security showed up at the door announcing she was under arrest. Patricia was stunned into silence and Doctor McCoy erupted in fury! He accompanied his Great-Granddaughter to Star Fleet’s Security Office where he learned that she was being charged with an unprovoked assault with a deadly weapon. As a result, she was now facing expulsion and jail time. Doctor McCoy was so angry he was literally seeing red! He posted bail, took her home, and immediately contacted Spock and Uhura. As for Patricia, she did the only thing she knew how to do, withdraw into a silent shell. Uhura was unable to respond right away as she was dealing with another situation. Spock arrived within minutes, conferred with Doctor McCoy, then attempted to encourage Patricia to tell what had occurred. All she could do was give him an anguished look and remain mute.

“Are you having difficulties finding your words, Patricia-kam?”, Spock asked. She nodded yes. “Would it be easier to have a mind-meld?” Again, she nodded yes. When he touched her Psi-Points, he instantly saw images of the young man attacking her, punching her, attempting to force himself on her, then pulling the knife on her, slashing. Her reactions to his attack was the real cause for his injuries…a clear case of self-defense. “Patricia-kam, have you shown anyone your injuries from his attack?” She shook her head, then looked fearful. “Patricia-kam, you need to have your injuries documented for your defense.” She uttered one word: “Uhura”. Once she knew the full extent of what had occurred, Captain Uhura wasted no time getting to the McCoy home. When she walked in the door, Patricia was ready to show what had been done to her during the attack. When she removed her tunic, her Great-Grandfather was appalled to see the contusions, cuts, and abrasions from where her assailant had punched and slashed at her. He understood all too well why she had been reluctant to show her body to anyone as she had been unable to allow treatment of her external childhood injuries and scars. “Child, where is the uniform you were wearing at the time of the attack? Go get it!” She did as she was told and Spock examined the uniform, finding the slash marks, along with her blood, in the material. “Leonard, I believe we have enough evidence to begin mounting a defense.” He turned to Patricia. “We must make images of your injuries, Patricia-kam, if you wish to defend yourself against these false charges. I fear you were not his first victim.” She reluctantly nods in response.

Back at Star Fleet Medical Academy, the assailant was bragging to his friends about how he had managed to get rid of the “freak’, laughing about how he had fooled the administrators into believing that HE was the victim! As he brags further about how he had done this to other women and gotten away with it, a tall figure walks into the room behind him. He turns to see the imposing figure of Ambassador Spock, who is also accompanied by a school administrator and Star Fleet Security. The assailant realizes, too late, that these new arrivals have heard everything that he had just said. He immediately attempts to claim he was simply joking and really meant nothing by it…just locker room bragging. “In that case, Folsom” barks the school administrator, “You would have absolutely no objection to taking a polygraph test!”

Folsom knew there was nothing else he could do. He was also aware that this imposing Vulcan, standing before him, could easily force the truth out of him with a single touch. Seeing the controlled fury in Spock’s eyes told Folsom that if he wanted to keep his own hide intact, he better cooperate! When he was marched back to Star Fleet’s Security Office, he finally confesses to what he had done…naming his prior victims…who had been forced out of school because of his actions. He made the mistake of assuming that Patricia would not press charges or would agree to having him plea to lesser charges to make it easier on herself. By this point, however, Patricia had recovered enough that her own McCoy fury came to the fore.

After being an abuse victim during her childhood enslavement, something in her spirit said, “No More!” and she came out swinging! When all was said and done, there was more than enough physical evidence to convict him of the criminal assault that he had committed on Patricia. His previous victims had been located and were more than ready to testify against him, once they learned that his last victim was seeking justice. Patricia had the satisfaction of seeing her assailant led away, to jail, in handcuffs and also learned that he had been expelled. She was subsequently reinstated and was able to resume her medical studies. From that point onward, however, she rejected any male who attempted to come anywhere near her. She decided she would NOT make that mistake again given that it could have cost her her life if not her academic career! She had also given up on making friends. No matter how hard she tried, the result was the same. Because she was “different”, she was labeled the “weird one”, “the freak”, and shunned. For the remainder of her medical studies, she decided, she would focus on work and give up on socializing. When she returned home at the end of a school day, and Doctor McCoy asked her how her day had gone, she commented to her Great-Grandfather, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. No one ever realized that maybe Jack had no choice because no one wanted to be friends with him! It’s just as well. I’ve got more studying to do.” Doctor McCoy sadly watches her withdraw into her bedroom and her books. He also heard her listening to the same ancient song being played repeatedly, Simon and Garfunkel’s “I Am a Rock” as she studied.

“Spock, she’s isolating herself again, just like she barricaded herself as a child! What can we do to counteract that?”, McCoy asked, frustrated. Spock sat at the kitchen table, in his friend’s home, looking somber. “Has Patricia-kam discussed with you about this latest turn of events?” McCoy shook his head. “No, she mumbled that old saying ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’, denies she has a problem, and retreats into her room to study. She is as tight-lipped as an Aldebaran Shell-Mouth! I have a sneaking suspicion what’s happening and she’s attempting to keep a Vulcan stiff upper lip about it. She’s trying to emulate you, you old Hobgoblin.” Spock nods. “What time will she come home from the Academy for the day?” The old doctor squints at the chronometer nearby. “She should be walking in the door any time now.”

At that moment, the front door slides open and Patricia enters, heading straight to her room as she had been doing for several days ever since she was able to resume her studies. McCoy and Spock observe this silently until they hear her bedroom door slide closed and her favorite song begins to play once more, starting with the lyrics: “A winter’s day – In a deep and dark December; I am alone, Gazing from my window to the streets below – On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow. I am a rock, I am an island…” Spock turns to his old friend. “With your permission, Leonard, I would like to try and talk with her. I do not wish to usurp your position as her parental figure.” The old doctor scowls at him. “Spock, ever since she ‘adopted’ you as her Uncle while we were on Vulcan, you are still considered as much family as I am! When we tag-teamed her years ago, it worked in helping her to start healing. It helped then. I strongly feel that tag-teaming will help now.”

Spock nods, gets up and approaches Patricia’s door. “Patricia-kam, may I speak with you a moment?” The door slides open and Spock sees a sad face looking up at him as she sings along with the music: “…I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain. It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain. I am a rock, I am an island.” She pauses in her singing as the song continues. “Come in, Uncle. I was just studying and completing my homework.” She turns and walks back to her bed, picking up her singing along with the music: “I have my books – And my poetry to protect me; I am shielded in my armor, Hiding in my room, safe within my womb. I touch no one and no one touches me. I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain; And an island never cries.” There is silence for a few moments as she clears away the PADDs and writing implements scattered about. She sits back down with a sigh and slumps dejectedly.

Spock pulls out her desk chair and sits down. “Studying at the Academy has become quite difficult for you, Patricia-kam.” She shrugs her shoulders as she looks down at her hands, fidgeting. “I’ll be fine, Uncle. No problem.” Spock gives her a stern look. “That was an observation, Patricia-kam, not a question. Talk to me.” She sits up and gives the old Vulcan a quizzical look. He continues, “If I must resume my role as a Star Fleet Captain and give you a direct order, I will do so, cadet!” She looks down again and sighs. “Yes, sir.” “Talk to me”, Spock repeats. She sighs again as her shoulders slump further, looking at the floor and shaking her head. “So much STILL doesn’t make sense. I thought that once people, here, at Star Fleet, became adults, they would stop acting like children…they would stop bullying others. Adults bullying adults is illogical! When I attempted to attend public school, the other kids either picked on me or shunned me. I thought that once I started attending Star Fleet Medical Academy, my peers would be more mature. Unfortunately, they are not! I’m still being picked on and/or shunned, because either I can’t join in the activities they want to do or because I’m too different to be tolerated.” She pauses.

Spock nods. “Go on, Patricia-kam.” Patricia looks up and continues, “Some of my classmates are drinking, even though it might be Synthehol. Many of them are legally underage for that. I AM UNDERAGE for that! With my history of addictions, I cannot be around that because it triggers cravings that I don’t need. I KNOW what will happen if I pick up that first drink! I may be still a kid, in many ways, but I’m not THAT stupid! If I revive my addictions, I will lose everything! I’ve worked too hard and too long to risk throwing away my future with Star Fleet! I’ve tried to find an AA group on campus, as well as nearby, without any luck.” Spock looks thoughtful. “Perhaps, Patricia-kam, you can start one of your own.” She tilts her head and peers back at him. “How, Uncle? I’m the only one, like me, on campus.” Spock leans forward and gives Patricia a slight smile. “I would suggest speaking with your instructor, Captain Smith. He might enlighten you concerning this issue.” She remembers him from the private interview during her application process. “I’ll try that, Uncle. It can’t hurt.”

When Patricia returns to campus, she approaches the door to Captain Smith’s office and pushes the door chime. She hears his response, “Come in”, and the door slides open. The Captain looks up from his desk. “Ah! Cadet McCoy! Come in and sit down!” “Yes, sir.”, she replies as she walks in, the door sliding closed behind her. The Captain looks at her as she takes a seat. “What can I do for you, Cadet?” Patricia takes a deep breath, lets it out, and looks the Captain full in the face. “I need to start an Alcoholics Anonymous group. Uncle Spock suggested I talk to you about it.” The Captain nods, looking thoughtful. “I see. What brought this about?” Patricia reaches into her book bag and pulls out her copy of the Big Book, setting it on the Captain’s desk. I’ve been reading the story of Bill W. and Doctor Bob…how they started Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill W. was alone, in a strange city, facing a choice between picking up a drink or finding another alcoholic to help. That’s when he met Doctor Bob and made his first Twelve Step Call, before there were even any AA Steps written down. By helping Doctor Bob, Bill W. was able to avoid picking up that first drink, on June 10, 1935, the day Alcoholics Anonymous began. I can relate to that story because…here I am…in a strange city, facing a choice between picking up a drink or finding another alcoholic to help.” Captain Smith nods at her. “And Ambassador Spock thinks I will be able to assist you.” “Yes, sir.” Patricia continues, “I’ve been corresponding with the AA main office, through their Loners Interplanetary program because I’ve been unable to find a group, during my travels. Now that I’m enrolled in Star Fleet Medical Academy, I’m encountering situations that is taxing my resolve to remain clean and sober. I feel it’s time to become involved in a support group with others…like me.” Captain Smith nods approvingly. “Very good, Cadet! Give me your PADD.” She hands it over to him and he writes on it: “Report to Room 10, in the Zefram Cochrane building, in one hour and bring your Big Book with you. You will need it! Dismissed!” She looks at the PADD and gives him a curious look. “Yes, sir.” She gets up, puts her PADD and her Big Book back into her book bag and heads out the door.

At the appointed time, Cadet McCoy arrives at Room 10 in the Zefram Cochrane building and looks around. She is the only one there at the moment. A few moments later, she hears the door open and shut behind her. When she turns around, Captain Smith is standing there, holding a Big Book of his own! She stares at him wide-eyed. Suddenly, the comments he made during the application’s private interviews made sense! He gives her a stern look, “Who you see here, what you say here, when you leave here, it will stay here!” She nods back at her commanding officer. “Y-y-yes, sir!” Captain Smith walks over to the nearby table and sets his Big Book on it. “Very good, Cadet! Would you like some coffee?” She shakes her head. “Not right now, sir, thank you, sir.” The Captain looks at her. “At ease, Patricia! We are here for an AA meeting. For this time period, I’m Bob. Once this meeting is over, then it will revert back to Captain! Understood?” “Yes, sir…Bob. Perhaps it would be better to call me ‘Pat’ as ‘Patricia’ is so formal.” The Captain nods, “Very good! ‘Pat’ it will be in every AA meeting. Welcome aboard! Shall we begin?” Pat walks over to the table and sits down, opening up her Big Book to the chapter on “How It Works”. The Captain pulls out a small card, introduces himself as “Bob, a grateful recovering alcoholic”, and begins to read from it:

“Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA membership; we are self supporting through our own contributions. AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.”

He puts the card away and continues, “Again, my name is Bob and I’m a grateful, recovering alcoholic. I am glad to welcome you, Pat, to your first AA meeting on Star Fleet’s campus. Keep coming back!” “Thank you, Bob”, she responds. Bob continues, “Would you like to read ‘How It Works’?” “Yes, sir. By the way, my name is Pat and I’m a recovering alcoholic and a recovering drug addict.” Pat picks up her Big Book and begins, “Rarely have we seen a person fail…”

Bob tells his drunkalogue of when and how he picked up his first drink, what happened, and what it is like now…his experiences, strength, and hope. He shares, that until the moment Pat requested his assistance in setting up an AA meeting, he had also been in the Loners Interplanetary Program. Then it came Pat’s turn to tell her story. She takes a deep breath and, for the first time, shares her story aloud to someone other than Gramps, Uncle Spock, or Captain Uhura. At times, she finds herself breaking down in tears but she continues speaking. She pauses and looks at the chronometer, “Sir, our time is almost up.” He shakes his head, “Just for today, I’m extending this meeting. You need to get your story out…ALL of it!” Pat nods and continues her story, finishing with her arrival at the AA meeting they are both sitting at. Then she falls silent, wiping the tears off her face, and the silence stretches for several minutes. Bob clears his throat. “Pat, you have a lot of intestinal fortitude and I admire you for that. Not many young people have gone through what you have…and survived, let alone thrive. The fact that you are willing to go to any length to stay clean and sober speaks volumes. I’m hoping that, eventually, other young people will come to know what a good person you are.” “Thank you, sir.” Pat responds. Bob nods. “With that said, let’s close this meeting in the usual way.” They hold hands, pray the Serenity Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, then shake hands stating together: “Keep coming back! It works if you work it!” Then Captain Smith resumes command and orders Cadet McCoy to return to her classes.

Each day, at the same time, Patricia reports to Room 10 of the Zefram Cochrane building for one hour. Other classmates notice and attempt to taunt her about “sneaking off” and threaten to report her to Captain Smith for going AWOL. Patricia ignores them. Finally, a group of her tormenters decide to follow her. Once they see which room she has gone into, they decide to “play a joke” on her. One of the group gets a hold of a firecracker and the group positions themselves outside the door. One punches the door open, another throws the lit firecracker into the room, then the door is punched closed. They burst out laughing as soon as they hear the firecracker explode. Their laughter is cut short, however, when the door reopens and they discover Captain Smith glaring at all of them! Patricia is standing behind him, arms folded, and looking annoyed. They all head back to Captain Smith’s office.

Captain Smith has all the cadets standing at attention, Patricia included, as he walks up and down the line, looking at each one. The Captain asks the first “prankster” what did he think he was doing. He responds with, “I don’t know, sir.” The Captain goes down the line, asking each cadet the same question and getting the same answer. When he finally reaches Patricia, he asks her what are her thoughts. She looks at her tormenters then back at the Captain. “Sir, with all due respect, they might benefit from attending an open AA meeting. They just might learn something new.” The Captain thinks this over and nods. “You’re right, Cadet! They just might learn something!” He looks at the group of pranksters. “When you are not in class, or on rotation, you are confined to quarters until further notice! Is THAT clear?!” “Yes, SIR!”, they respond in unison. “Dismissed!” The pranksters file out the door and Patricia starts to follow. The Captain calls out, “Not you, Cadet McCoy. I have a few more questions for you!”

She stops. “Yes, sir.” Once the door closes and the Captain is certain that the pranksters are out of earshot, he looks at Cadet McCoy. “How do you propose to set up an Open AA meeting when it’s just the two of us at the moment? I don’t think it’s a good idea to break our anonymity.” Patricia looks at the Captain. “I’m not suggesting that, sir. I’m thinking along the lines of contacting the AA office and asking if they can refer any Loners over our way for a Speaker’s meeting. The Loners get to share their Experience, Strength, and Hope, which helps their sobriety…the pranksters just might hear something they can identify with, your and my anonymity remains intact. Who knows, we just might get some new members to join our AA meeting.” The Captain smiles. “I like the way you think, Cadet.” His smile fades. “I get the feeling that you know something that you are not telling me.” Patricia chews her lip. “Permission to speak freely, sir?” The Captain folds his arms. “Go ahead, Cadet. I have the feeling I’m going to hear this, sooner or later, either inside or outside of an AA meeting.” Patricia nods. “That’s just it, sir. I’m imagining…if I were in your shoes, with your rank, and I became aware of someone, in Star Fleet under my command, needing a 12-Step Call. Which takes priority … Star Fleet regulations or working the 12th Step and getting that person into treatment?” The Captain looks stunned. “As Captain, my responsibility is to enforce Star Fleet regulations.” Patricia presses her questions, “What if … enforcing those same Star Fleet regulations leads to someone’s death from addictions when getting that person into treatment, instead, could have made a difference … saving a life? I’m not saying these things have to be mutually exclusive, sir. I’m suggesting using the ‘carrot or stick’ approach.”

The Captain looks intrigued. “Go on, Cadet. Explain your thinking behind the ‘carrot or stick’ approach.” Patricia takes a deep breath. “Well, sir, to make a long story short, I’m thinking along the lines of offering this person a choice when conducting an intervention … either go into addictions treatment or have Star Fleet regulations enforced and possibly be expelled, if not court-martialed if they are already a member of Star Fleet. I would suggest going ahead with this Speaker’s meeting, with all of these Cadets attending as part of their consequences for today’s actions, then meeting with each one privately to discuss what each of them has learned. Even if they don’t admit to anything, at least they will be informed that if they choose to disregard the help that is being offered, and if they are caught drinking illegally, while underage, or indulging in alcohol and/or drugs while on duty, regulations will require they be expelled, or court-martialed. The knowledge, choice, and responsibility, will be theirs. Hopefully, we will be able to retain good officers.” The Captain nods. “For a young person, you have an ‘old’ head on your shoulders.” “Yes, sir”, Patricia replies. “Cadet, I will go ahead and contact the AA office regarding Loners being referred here. Due to security issues, they will need to go through a background check, which is part of my responsibility as a commanding officer. Dismissed!” “Yes, sir!”, Patricia replies again, then heads out the door. When she returns home, after classes, she gives both her Great-Grandfather and Uncle Spock the latest updates.

During one of her scheduled rotations, one of her tormenters, Cadet Daniel, approaches her. “What are you up to, McCoy, about this so-called Open AA meeting?” Patricia looks at him and quirks one of her eyebrows. “Excuse me?” “You heard me, freak!”, he snaps. “What is this Open AA meeting?” Patricia replies matter-of- factly, “It’s an Open meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. Anyone can attend.” He is taken aback. “Are YOU calling ME a DRUNK?!” Patricia puts down her PADD and faces her tormenter squarely. “Fact, I know you are drinking alcohol and Synthehol even though you are legally underage. Fact, you are drinking daily. Fact, every single time you have picked up a drink, you end up doing something STUPID, for example, that firecracker incident! I don’t believe you can get through 24 hours without a drink!” The other cadet bristles. “I’m NOT a lush! Only lower class people do that and I’m BETTER than those kind of people! I’ll PROVE it to you that I can go for a WEEK without drinking ANY alcohol or Synthehol! I’m in complete control of what I drink, when I drink, and how much I drink! Bet me on that!” Patricia nods back at him. “You’re on!” He didn’t last twelve hours before he got caught by Star Fleet Security, several sheets to the wind, mooning passersby and demanding they salute him. The intoxicated cadet was summarily frog-marched to Captain Smith’s office.
Patricia has just gotten home and was about to sit down to dinner with Doctor McCoy when her comm-badge sounds. “Captain Smith to Cadet McCoy!” She taps her badge. “McCoy here, sir!” “Report to my office, immediately. I have a candidate for you!” Patricia looks at her Great-Grandfather while replying, “Yes, sir! Right away, sir! McCoy out!” She gets up from the dinner table. “Sorry, Gramps! Duty calls!” He waves off her apology. “No problem, child! I’ll keep dinner warm for you until you get back home!” She gives him a kiss on the cheek. “Thanks, Gramps!” She heads back out the door.

Upon arriving at Captain Smith’s office, she smells the tell-tale stench of an alcoholic in digestive distress. Sure enough, she spots Cadet Daniel, in the “head”, kneeling before the porcelain altar, giving up his offerings. The Captain gives her a look and shakes his head. “Cadet, I’m hoping he’s ready to hear you. Otherwise, I won’t have any choice.” “Yes, sir!”, Patricia replies, while she patiently waits for the other cadet to finish. Eventually, her tormenter emerges, looking as terrible as he feels. He’s not happy as soon as he sees Patricia. “What the HELL are YOU doing HERE?!”, he snarls. “Trying to save YOUR lead butt, if not your career, you idiot!”, she snaps back, “Not TWELVE hours ago, you bragged to me that you could go a WEEK without drinking! What happened!?” The drunken cadet looks from her to Captain Smith and back, uncertain what to say. The Captain gets up, “I’ll go bring back some coffee while you two have a chance to talk.” He glares at the drunken cadet. “You will be given a decision to make upon my return and I hope it will be the right one! I would strongly suggest that you listen to what she has to say!” He leaves his office to give the two cadets privacy.

Patricia folds her arms as she glares back at her tormenter. “Well? I’m still waiting to hear what happened that resulted in what I’ve just seen!” He snarls back at her. “What business is it of yours!? You’re only a cadet, not my commanding officer!” She shrugs her shoulders. “If you want to be expelled, be my guest. You have the freedom to choose that…if that is what you want.” That stops him in his tracks. He attempts to continue his bravado while eying her suspiciously. “Did you snitch on me?” She shakes her head. “Nope! I had finished my classes and rotation for the day and was about to sit down to dinner with Gramps when I got the call to return to campus. If anyone snitched on anyone…you snitched on yourself. Now, I’m going to ask…one last time…what…did…you…do!?”
He sits back, sullen. “I had a drink with my buddies!” Patricia looks at him skeptically. “You just had ONE drink?” His bravado starts to lessen. “Maybe a couple of drinks with my buddies…” She continues to look at him with skepticism. “A COUPLE of drinks? What happened to being able to go without ONE drink for a week?” He starts to say something, then realizes there is nothing he CAN say to justify what had occurred. “The Captain says I have a decision I have to make while talking with you. Why are you involved?” She leans forward. “Before I answer that, Daniel, I need to know, up front, do you wish to remain a student at Star Fleet Medical Academy? Because if you’re not interested in finishing medical school, then I’m not going to waste my time!” She can see that he is realizing he is in SERIOUS trouble! “If I get thrown out of school, my Dad will KILL me! Star Fleet is a family tradition!” Patricia thinks about that for a few moments. “So…do you want to stay in school for yourself…or for your Dad?” He shrugs his shoulders. “I-I-don’t know! He wants me to become a doctor, just like his grandfather. He couldn’t become one, himself. Long story.” Patricia’s irritation starts to lessen. “What do YOU want, Daniel? What are YOU interested in? Don’t think about pleasing others…what do YOU REALLY want for YOURSELF as a career?” The other cadet looks uncertain. “Promise you won’t laugh?” Patricia nods. “I promise!” Daniel sighs, “I want to major in theater but my Dad says there is no future in that!”

Patricia nods. “But if you keep drinking the way you’re drinking, you’re not going to have any future at all! That rot-gut is tearing up your insides!” The other cadet looks back at her. “Which brings me back to MY question…why are YOU involved, McCoy?” She looks him full in the face. “Because alcohol…and drugs…nearly killed me. I’ve been where you are now. The Captain will be returning soon and he’s going to demand that you put on your Big Boy pants and make a decision regarding your future! What decision will that be? Do you want to live or do you want to die? As I see it, you are slowly killing yourself because you don’t like yourself very much! You’re trying hard to be what your father wants you to be instead of being who you ARE!” They hear a tap at the door. The door slides open, revealing Captain Smith carrying a tray with three steaming cups of coffee. He sets the tray down on the desk and turns to the drunken cadet. “I believe you have a decision for me, cadet?”

The cadet hangs his head. “I want to live…but I don’t know how. I-I-I don’t know what to do!” Patricia reaches over and taps his knee. He looks up. “Let me ask you a question, Daniel. Right now, is your life manageable or is it a mess?” He squeezes his eyes shut, then rubs his face with both hands. “Everything is a BIG MESS!” Patricia nods again. “If I may make an observation…you cannot control alcohol. Alcohol is controlling you, and you have NO control over where alcohol takes you or what you do while under the influence! Would that be a fair statement?” The other cadet nods his head. “That describes it exactly!” Patricia continues, “You’re admitting that you are powerless over alcohol?” The cadet nods his head again. “Yes, I’m powerless over alcohol and my life is a mess! I need help! Help me! Please!” Captain Smith walks over and places his hand on the cadet’s shoulder. “You’ll get the help you need, Cadet. That is a promise! I’ve arranged for you to go to Detox. Once we get the alcohol out of your system, then we can talk about your future with Star Fleet.” “Yes, sir.”, the cadet mutters.

After Cadet Daniel is transported to Detox and admitted, Captain Smith returns to his office where Patricia was ordered to remain. The Captain sits down behind his desk, looks at the now-cold cups of coffee, then at Cadet McCoy. “Well, what do you think about working your 12th Step this evening?” Patricia sighs. “I tried to carry the message, sir. It remains to be seen if I really got through to him once the alcohol clears out of his system. There might also be another complication. He’s admitted that the real reason he’s enrolled here is to please his father and carry on the quote, Family Tradition, unquote. His heart is in the theater but his father has put the kibosh on THAT! He’s been using alcohol to numb out his feelings and we both know where that leads!” Captain Smith considers this new information. “He wants to be in the theater, huh? Maybe there’s a way he can achieve what he wants while remaining in Star Fleet.”

Patricia impulsively blurts, “Role-playing, recruiting, and/or training holo-vids?”, she says hopefully. The Captain gives her a stern look and she realizes her mistake, “Oops! Sorry…sir!” The Captain half smiles. “Apology concerning your impulsiveness accepted. Keep working on that. As for your question regarding the holo-vids…looks like you’ve read my mind. It all comes down to what this young man wants to do with his life…once he gets the alcohol out of his system and can begin to think clearly…for himself.” Patricia tentatively raises her hand and the Captain nods at her. “What if his father refuses to agree?” The Captain looks thoughtful. “I’ll have to wait and see what develops and base my decision on those factors.” She gives him a puzzled look. “Sir?” He looks up at her and continues. “His father is an admiral.” She blurts out again. “Uh-oh!” Then catches herself. “Sir!” She shakes her head. “I wonder what Bill W. and Doctor Bob would say about all of this?” The Captain smiles. “I think my ancestor would remind me to ‘Keep It Simple’, among other sayings he was famous for.” Patricia looks back at him, curiosity written all over her features. “Sir?” The Captain continues while smiling, “I usually avoid name-dropping as you are not the only one with a famous relative. My five times Great-Grandfather was Doctor Bob.”

When she returns home, Doctor McCoy was waiting up for her. She sits down in the living and slumps, exhausted, in her chair. “Tough case?”, the old doctor asks. She nods, “And complicated on top of it all.” She looks at her Great-Grandfather. “Gramps, what would you do, if you were doing the right thing, for a patient, and the patient’s next-of-kin, a high ranking official in Star Fleet, countermands your instructions…and you know that countermand would, or could, cause the death of your patient?” Doctor McCoy leans forward. “If it were me, my medical decisions would out-rank this high ranking official.” Patricia scratches her head. “You’re an admiral, Gramps! But what if…I were the doctor…a medical student, intern, a cadet, on rotation and a high-ranking admiral, who is NOT a doctor, countermands my medical decision because he’s the Admiral and I’m only a cadet. What then?” Doctor McCoy looks straight at her. “The medical decision…YOUR medical decision would still stand! The admiral, who is NOT a doctor, will just have to lump it!” Patricia continues to think about this while rubbing her chin.

With Captain Smith’s permission, Patricia visits her classmate while he is in the Detox Unit of the teaching hospital. She’s under strict orders not to work this unit as part of her rotation due to a perceived conflict of interest per the Medical Code of Ethics. During the visit, Daniel’s father, the admiral, shows up and he is NOT happy about the fact that his son is a patient in Detox! Patricia involuntarily cringes the moment she hears him yelling in the hall. She looks over at Daniel and realizes he is feeling the same way. She quickly taps her comm-badge. “McCoy to Captain Smith. Please report to the Detox Unit STAT! You are needed! Emergency! McCoy out!” She then braces herself for what is to come. She’s hoping she can stall the admiral until Captain Smith’s arrival. A few moments later, the admiral bursts through the door, his face beet-red! “WHAT IS THIS?! MY SON IN A DRUNK TANK?! HOW DARE YOU EMBARRASS ME, YOU IDIOT!” He attempts to stomp over to his son with his fist raised.

Daniel is cowering on the bed, when Patricia steps between him and the Admiral. “Excuse me, sir. I don’t believe we have been properly introduced.” He glares down at her and brings his fist close to her face. “GET THE HELL OUT OF MY WAY, CADET, BEFORE I GIVE YOU A TASTE OF WHAT HE IS GOING TO GET!” She looks at his raised fist, squares her shoulders and looks back at him, determined to stay where she is. “With all due respect, sir, NO! I will NOT permit you to physically…or verbally…assault a patient, or anyone else…myself included!” She sees his blood pressure rise several millimeters of Mercury just by observing the coloration of his face. Before she could react, he hauls off and back-hands her across the face. The next second, the Admiral is pinned, face-down, on the floor! Daniel is cringing, wide-eyed, on his bed when Captain Smith rushes into the room. The Captain barks at her. “That’s ENOUGH, Cadet!” She releases the Admiral and steps back. The Captain notices the redness, along with her eye swelling shut, on Patricia’s face and quickly realizes what has occurred. He turns to the Admiral as he gets to his feet.

The Admiral stabs a finger in Patricia’s direction. “I want that insubordinate little whelp thrown in the Brig, IMMEDIATELY! She DARED put her hands on ME!” The Captain looks back at him, the calmness in his voice belying the anger he feels. “With all due respect, sir, you are twice her size and weight. Judging from the injury on her face, I can deduce that you just slapped her a few moments ago because she was obeying MY orders to PROTECT MY PATIENT!” The Admiral is enraged. “HOW! DARE! YOU! DEFY! ME! I’LL HAVE YOU LOCKED UP FOR INSUBORDINATION!” The Captain stands toe-to-toe with the Admiral. “As the Doctor in charge here, I’m telling you to GET OUT! You have one of two choices…leave voluntarily or I call in Security and you will leave INVOLUNTARILY! What is it going to be?” The Admiral angrily works his jaw for a few moments, turns on his heel, and stomps toward the door. He looks back at the Captain. “You’ll PAY for THIS! I PROMISE YOU! YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE LAST OF ME!” The Admiral storms off down the hall.

Patricia tentatively touches her injured face and winces. “Damn! That is one HELL of a badge-heavy bully!” She looks over at Daniel with sympathy. “Now I understand what you are drinking AT! He’s enough to make a SAINT want to get drunk!” Captain Smith snaps at her. “That’s ENOUGH, Cadet!” She hangs her head. “Yes, sir. Sorry, sir.” Captain Smith turns to face her and sees that her eye has swelled shut. He calms down. “No, Cadet. I’m the one who should be making amends to you. I’ve known, for years, what that man is capable of doing and didn’t do enough to protect the both of you! Report to my office, McCoy. I’ll be there shortly.” “Yes, sir”, she replies. She leaves the room while the Captain turns to speak to the other cadet. Daniel looks up at his commanding officer. “What do I do now, sir?” Captain Smith stands quietly for a few moments before responding. “For now, Cadet, you are under my orders to continue treatment. You will have another physical evaluation to determine if the level of alcohol in your system has dropped to zero and if there is any permanent damage. I will review those results and make my decision based on what I see. Until then, I will see to it that your father will not be permitted to harass you. Now get some rest!” The Captain turns and leaves the Cadet’s hospital room.

Captain Smith enters his office and Patricia immediately stands to attention. “At ease, Cadet, and let me take a look at what the Admiral did to your face.” The Captain examines her injuries as she winces. He steps back and looks her full in the face. “Why did you put yourself in harm’s way, Cadet? Why didn’t you wait until I got there?” Patricia looks back at the Captain. “I couldn’t just stand there and watch that bully beat on Daniel. No one deserves that! There was no time to wait, as his rage was just out of control, and I couldn’t see how Daniel could possibly defend himself against his own father given the state that man was in. I thought that if the Admiral was hell-bent on beating on someone, then it might as well be me so the patient would be safe until you got there, sir.” The Captain nods. “I understand. You acted on the limited options you had. Let me treat that facial injury.” Patricia holds up her hand. “With all due respect, sir, I think you better document it instead. I have a strong gut feeling that Admiral is going to cause more trouble and we need the evidence to defend ourselves. I can wait until I get home and put some ice on it.” The Captain nods, walks over and picks up an imager. “Very well, Cadet.”

When Patricia arrives home, and Doctor McCoy sees the red hand print on her face, as well as her eye swollen shut, he demands to know what happened. Spock and Uhura, who are visiting, are appalled when Patricia describes her conflict with the Admiral over a patient’s treatment. The old doctor’s temper hits the roof! He demands to know the name of the Admiral who had assaulted her. Patricia shakes her head. “I can’t tell you that, Gramps! Once you know the Admiral’s name, you’ll know who his son, the patient is. It won’t require rocket science for confidentiality to be breached! The patient has a right to privacy.” Doctor McCoy calms down a little. “You’re right, child! I’m still NOT happy about the fact that ANYONE, including an Admiral, slapped you!” Patricia proceeds to apply ice to her facial injuries. “I understand, Gramps, I hear you. At the same time, this is MY battle! You can’t fight it for me!” Spock replies, “She is correct, Leonard.”

Uhura chuckles and everyone turns to look at her. “I would have LOVED to have been a fly on the wall, watching you as you pinned that Admiral to the floor! I have a sneaking idea who he is as he has a reputation for having one hell of a NASTY temper!” Patricia walks over to Uhura and bends down. “Whisper the name to me, Captain.”, she asks. Uhura whispers in her ear and Patricia nods. “I can neither confirm nor deny it.” Spock, who has overheard the whisper, nods. “But it confirms my suspicions. He is trouble!” Patricia looks at the three elders, confused. “If he is trouble, and that violent, how did he manage to become an Admiral?” Spock looks at her with a somber expression. “Unfortunately, Patricia-kam, there have been some individuals who managed to rise through the ranks in spite of their abusive tendencies. If the Admiral, who assaulted you, is the same one that I suspect…most likely, he has been abusing his family behind closed doors for years. You inadvertently brought it out into the open.” She sits down with a thump. “Yikes!” Doctor McCoy stands up. “Except, THIS time, he assaulted the WRONG person! He’s been used to getting away with pulling rank and abusing weaker individuals all this time. Now he has to deal with us McCoy’s!” Patricia shakes her head emphatically. “Gramps! No! As I’ve said before, this is NOT your battle! I have to wait and see what happens next. My injuries have already been documented for my defense. My commanding officer is dealing with his part of it as we are sure that this Admiral is going to be coming after both me and the Captain.”

Sure enough, within the week, charges were brought against Cadet McCoy for physically assaulting an Admiral, and against Captain Smith for insubordination. Once again, she found herself facing expulsion. When the hearing was convened, she saw the Admiral sitting there, smirking at her. He was sure that he would get his own way, once again, and she would be sent packing. She saw his facial expression change as she heard others enter the room behind her. When she turned to look, Ambassador Spock, Doctor McCoy, Captain Uhura, Cadet Daniel, and a huge crowd of other cadets along with other officers were filing into the room. Captain Smith walks up to her and sits down beside her. He places his hand on her shoulder. “I refuse to leave you twisting in the wind, Cadet. This situation was never your fault from the beginning!” He glares at the Admiral. She notices that the Admiral is looking elsewhere and she turns to see who he is looking at. She realizes that her loved ones are glaring back at the Admiral. She can see that, in spite of Spock’s calm demeanor, there is anger in his eyes. To her recollection, this is the first time she has ever seen her Uncle Spock showing any emotion, however slight, in public.

The hearing gets underway and the Admiral spins a tale about how he was attacked, by this cadet, without provocation and how she was insubordinate to his rank, refusing to obey his orders. Evidence is produced of Patricia’s facial injuries at the time of the incident, which the Admiral explains away. Because Captain Smith was not there to witness the Admiral slapping Patricia, the Board stated that it was simply Patricia’s word against the Admiral and the Admiral’s rank must take precedence. Just as the Chair was about to pronounce expulsion, Daniel stands up and shouts, “NO! Oh … HELL … NO! This has gone far enough!” The Admiral shouts, “Daniel, shut up and sit down!” The Board Chair also orders Daniel to be silent. Daniel walks forward. “Throw ME out for being insubordinate but I’m NOT going to sit by and watch my friend being punished for protecting ME! I WAS THERE AND SAW THE WHOLE THING!” The Admiral growls, “Boy! If you don’t shut up and sit down, you know what will be waiting for you when you get home!” Daniel faces down his father. “I don’t care what you do to me! You’ve beaten on Mom, you’ve beaten on me, and NOW you’ve started beating on my friends because they dared say NO to you! That STOPS! NOW! HERE! TODAY!”

The Board Chair asks Daniel to describe what actually occurred and Daniel happily obliges. He turns to Patricia. “I used to pick on you because I thought you were a weird freak, because you’re different and you still defended me when you didn’t have to. Now I understand what friendship really means.” He turns back to the Board. “If anyone deserves to be thrown out of Star Fleet Medical Academy, it should be me! I was the one who broke the rules. Cadet McCoy stepped up to help me and help save my life. The only reason I enrolled is because my Dad ordered me to become a doctor like his Grandfather. HE knows WHY he can NEVER become a doctor on his own! He thought he could live his dreams through me!” He looks at his father defiantly. “Well, guess what, Dad! I’m going to work toward my own goals, NOT YOURS!”

Daniel went on to describe the years of abuse that he and his mother had endured at the hands of the Admiral. How he was forced to abandon his own aspirations in order to march to his father’s orders. His mother eventually died under mysterious circumstances. He quietly added, “The only way I knew how to cope with everything was to get drunk. Cadet McCoy helped me understand that I don’t have to live that way anymore. She helped me see that I was slowly killing myself. I don’t know what I’m good for but I know that I don’t have to be my father’s puppet nor do I have to live in fear of being beaten by him again.” He returns to his seat and there is silence in the room.

The Board Chair considers this turn of events. He looks at Cadet McCoy. “The charges against you are dismissed.” The Admiral starts to splutter his outrage and the Chair turns on him. “As for you, ADMIRAL, I’ve heard enough! There has been too many suspicious incidents, involving you over the years. It ends today! Security, take the Admiral into custody! The Board will deal with him at a later time!” Security surround the Admiral and escort him from the room while he splutters in outrage. Patricia starts to shake uncontrollably. Captain Smith places his hand on her shoulder again and nods at her reassuringly. “See you at the meeting!” He gets up and leaves the room. Doctor McCoy approaches his Great-Granddaughter and she gets up to hug him. “Gramps, I feel the need to go hide from everyone. I’ve had enough for today!” The old doctor looks at her. “What are you going to say to your new friends?” She looks confused. “Huh?” He indicates a crowd of cadets standing behind him…all of them smiling at her. “Child, I think you’ve just earned yourself some respect. Not everyone, like you, are willing to take on a bully the size, weight, and rank of that Admiral!” Daniel approaches the two McCoy’s and holds out his hand. She shakes his hand. “Thanks, McCoy, for coming to my defense. I’ll never forget it.”

Patricia gives him a quizzical look. “You talk as if you are leaving. Where are you going?” He shrugs. “I don’t know. I doubt I can stay here and continue studying to be a doctor.” “Don’t you like Star Fleet at all?”, she asks. “Sure!”, he responds, “But how am I going to study theater and be in Star Fleet?” Patricia thinks for a few minutes. “Would you like to act in holo-vids?” “WOULD I?”, he shouts, “I would LOVE to be able to do THAT!” “What about Star Fleet holo-vids, for training and/or recruiting? Would that fill the bill?”, she asks. “Would they let me?”, Daniel inquires. “Go ask Captain Smith. I think he might be able to find something for you to do.”, she responds. Daniel nods. “Thanks, again, McCoy! I owe you one!” His friends come forward and shake Patricia’s hand as well. The whole group invites her to dine with them in the future and she agrees. He heads out the room with his friends. She looks at the three elders standing with her. “I think I did a good deed for today. What do you think?” Doctor McCoy ruffles her hair and grins.

She enters Room 10 of the Zefram Cochrane building, carrying her Big Book. Captain Smith is waiting, with his Big Book, and two cups of coffee. Just as she sits down, the door opens and Daniel enters the room. “Am I late?”, he asks. Patricia grins at him. “Nope! You’re right on time, Dan!” Captain Smith gets up. “Do you want a cup of coffee, Dan?” “Yes, sir, don’t mind if I do, sir!” The Captain brings over another cup of coffee and hands it to Daniel, then he sits back down at the table. He hands a small card to the newest member and asks would he like to read from it at the beginning of the meeting. Daniel looks confused. “I-I-I’m not sure what to do.” Patricia takes the card. “Tell you what, Dan, I’ll read the Preamble and you read How It Works. Just follow our lead!”

She turns to the Captain who introduces himself, “Hi, I’m Bob and I’m a grateful recovering alcoholic. Welcome to your first AA meeting, Dan!” Patricia holds out her hand to Daniel. “Hi, I’m Pat and I’m a recovering alcoholic and recovering drug addict! Welcome to your first AA meeting, Dan, and keep coming back!” Daniel looks at both the Captain and at Patricia. “Hi, I’m Dan and I’m a SCARED recovering alcoholic! I’m glad to be here where it feels safe!” Patricia claps him on the back. “You’re in the right place, Dan! Let’s start the meeting as we only have an hour!” She reintroduces herself then reads the Preamble. Then she turns back to Daniel. “Okay, Dan, you want to go ahead and read ‘How It Works’? Daniel nods. “Hi, I’m Dan and I’m still a SCARED recovering alcoholic!” He picks up Patricia’s Big Book and begins to read, “Rarely have we seen a person fail…”

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