The first night you came aboard the USS Enterprise, your fellow crew members that you shared sleeping quarters with either stayed up all night with a sudden flash of homesickness or cried about the challenges ahead. You, on the other hand, were content with your placement and slept soundly. While all of the other new members fretted over foreign diseases and ailments, you were completely at ease. You knew that the last time you’d gotten sick was in your childhood, when your father returned to your planet with some alien animal that you’d briefly had an allergic reaction to. You could be fine and you could handle anything.
Which, of course, was the problem. You wanted to be sick, and it was all because you’d laid eyes on your CMO.
“You can’t infect me with anything?” you whined to your roommate who continuously smuggled onboard any cute-looking specimen she found. “Not a single slightly venomous bite that could leave me out of commission for a few days?”
“No! I’m a biological specialist… I wouldn’t purposely bring a dangerous animal onboard!”
“Come on, Elidia…” You shook her, hoping that the desperation was shining through her eyes so that she’d be a little more sympathetic to your plight. “I really need to get sick!”
She was stumped–all you’d ever talked about was how you planned on going out to missions to “kick ass and be praised as a god by less-developed cultures for a hundred years,” so she couldn’t make anything of your sudden desire to stay indoors.
“Have you lost your courage?” she guessed, trying not to prod you too far, lest you break her arm or cry or do both. “I thought you were excited to go out.”
“I am. But…”
“Who…” Her eyes narrowed as she tried to remember. “Wait, McCoy?”
“I’m pretty sure a title is supposed to go in there somewhere.”
“Oh, but he’s older!”
“Wow, Elidia! So are billions of other people!”
“You’re his subordinate, too.”
“But I don’t work in medical.”
“Thank you for the insight, Eli. The wedding plans must be cancelled now. What would I do without you? I’m so helpless.”
She huffed, realizing that she was losing. “Ah, you’re hopeless. Have you even talked to him?”
“Of course. We met on the first day.”
“And what did he say to you?”
Your eyes got a certain glow of soft, fond nostalgia as you went back to that wonderful moment. “He said… ‘Hold still. You’ll need this vaccine for the atmosphere of Blitz Ehne.’”
Elidia stared at you in disbelief. “And that’s it?”
“No, there’s more. I said ‘All right’ and he said, ‘We wouldn’t want your lungs to get an infection and wither away inside of you. It’d happen.’ And I said, ‘All right…’”
“Marvelous.” She shook her head. “Okay, well, in that case, I’m sure you can just make something up.”
“I’ve never been sick before! What am I supposed to say?”
“Do you have any idea how big the universe is?! Just make something up… I’m sure he hasn’t heard of everything.”
So you went on your way, desperate to think up some excuse to hit on your CMO. You weren’t well-versed in the gentler arts and you certainly weren’t prepared to hone your skills, so you thought that the next best course of action was to bait him as close as possible so that you could stare at him and possibly think up a witty remark.
You came into sickbay, feeling pathetic that you had nothing to really complain over. You looked so healthy that it was criminal and you wondered if you could briefly fake a limp. Apprehensive, you nearly flinched when a well-meaning nurse approached you and asked you what the matter was.
“Um,” you said, trying to make it look like you weren’t looking for someone in particular, “I cut myself.”
Bemused, she stared at you, wondering what could possibly be wrong with you. “A cut?”
“I cut myself on a… thing.” But that was true! You’d scraped yourself on the edge of a piece of metal and suffered the most minor of wounds. “I was just looking for something so that it doesn’t get infected. You do know about Belmoth infections. The special metals, um, used in building starcraft often contain deadly… things. So I was worried it might be serious, as you can tell. Do you have something?”
“Well, sure, sweetheart… Hold on a minute…”
Although she did disinfect your wound (with the greatest reluctance in the world), you left sickbay without a sense of victory, and you knew that you simply couldn’t stand for walking out empty-handed. You waited a day before returning, after spending the entire night thinking of ways to get yourself checked up by the CMO.
Inspired by a brief dream that occurred only when your body refused to stay awake, you got out of bed and skipped breakfast so that you could go down and claim to be suffering from Vangarian stomach poisoning. You still weren’t able to confront your inexplicable beloved, although you had so many nurses squawking around you that it sort of drew McCoy’s attention and you could have sworn that he glanced at you once or twice with bewilderment. Eventually the nurses decided that you only had a mild case of the disease which you only recently made up, and they told you to go without eating solid foods for the entire day.
…so another day passed, and your hunger kept you awake at night. The next morning, you dragged yourself out of bed, well aware of your lackluster condition: sallow, sleepless, and starving. Deciding that you looked less than attractive, you decided to skip out on making up diseases for the day as well as your own duties in order to sleep and eat. Unfortunately, one of your higher-ups noticed you walking into a wall on your way to breakfast, and, upon noticing your condition, had Elidia take you to sickbay to get a check-up.
“I don’t want to go!” you cried as she dragged you along. “I don’t look great!”
“This might be the one time you actually need to go, you know.”
“Are you kidding me? How much money do they spend on this medical equipment, and it’ll be used to tell me that I’m tired? What a waste! They should be, I don’t know, transplanting brains or something like that…”
The nurses all recognized you and promptly dropped you, all of them unwilling to deal with more of your absurd and esoteric issues. So you sat down, a pure grumpy air hanging around you as you were inspected by the one man you would have taken at literally any other time had it not been for the fact that you didn’t exactly resemble a good-looking individual.
“You’ve been in here often,” McCoy noted. “What seems to be the problem this time around?”
You wished that he’d be more eager to stick needles into you, preferably something with an anesthetic so that you could be unconscious during your brief humiliation. What could you say? A Gluriv beetle had crawled into your mouth when you slept and it was controlling your body, making you stay awake for days… You were struck by lightning on the fourth moon of Howell and sleep hadn’t blessed your eyes in three weeks… You’d vomited indiscriminately on other people the whole way to the Enterprise and now you couldn’t bear to look at food.
But your fatigue made you honest and you said, “I’m just exhausted.”
“That would seem to be the issue,” he agreed, examining you closely and making you fidget. Mistaking your embarrassment for nervousness, he pressed on with an attempt to ease your nerves. “Nothing too serious. Get some rest and you’ll be fine…”
He moved to your pulse to measure your heart rate, and you were struck by the feeling of his fingers on your wrist, moving carefully and almost gently on your skin. He leaned forward, muttering something to himself, and you could feel him get closer and closer as he continued his examination… In fact, he was getting so close that you could feel his breath against your cheek. He was so very close, oh… If you turned your head a little bit, you could actually kiss him, and then you could blame it on your fatigue…
“Good God!” McCoy remarked with sudden passion as you were snapped out of your reverie. You hadn’t noticed that he had furthered his examination and had a tricorder hovering around your chest. “It’s as I expected. Your heart’s racing… Not to mention that you’re burning up. You must have contracted fever from the trip last week!”
He was scolding you as he tugged you to and fro, busily continuing his examination. “At first, you definitely came off as responsible, you know… You could have bothered to take care of yourself for just a little while longer. With a fever like this, who knows? I saw a man lose his sight from this in a matter of minutes and decapitated himself on accident!” He stabbed you in the arm. “There’s an injection. Don’t flinch–a little suffering’s good for the soul…”
You felt enormously flattered that he was even bothering with you, even though it was unnecessary. You could deal with this, yes… You felt… victorious!
“I’ll have to keep an eye on you,” he warned, not knowing that he was doing precisely what he wanted. “You might be the type to need frequent medical attention… Don’t panic, that could exacerbate the disease. I’ll have something for it. Until then…”
And he was muttering something about gray hairs when he turned to look at you and see that you were smiling at him.
You said: “When can we start?”