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11

A man who was far more than an old country doctor stared at harsh readouts and disturbing data that made him wish he were as simple as all that, so that what he took from those readings wouldn't be so hideously clear as he recorded his findings.

"Healer T'Nia, once my instructor, has never been a typical Vulcan, but you wouldn't know that from her thoroughness. She summed up the medical records of young Peter Kirk rather well, when she said it would be easier to list what his captors did not do to the boy while they held him, most of it conducted in-cryo, on a victim who could not even scream."

McCoy gathered in his rage, needing to be more Vulcan-like in the recording of this report. He recalled how T'Nia had 'ruined' him for his dealings with other Vulcans. His naive assumption that they were all like her had ill-prepared him for Spock and others.

"They used Augment and other 'genetic cocktail' materials that only failed because the boy's natural DNA trumps anything artificial. Neat as that sounds, it has brought Peter no happiness and worse, cannot be explained merely by his hybrid physiology. The only way to account for the oddities of Jim's boy is to go with one of the simplest yet most easily misunderstood diagnoses of all time. Peter Kirk is a mutant, the first of a new species. To make matters more complicated, this Adam may have already found his Eve. Because his pattern-types and overall structural markers exist in one other - the girl who retrieved him and who is now his adoptive sister. The deep-down meanings of this turn in the evolutionary track are as of now not known, except in broad strokes : enhanced strength, telepathy that makes Betazoids look like carnival fortune tellers, and the fact that again, neither Saavik nor Peter have ever known the kind of peace you'd think their power would earn them."

McCoy was, to coin a phrase, a doctor, not an engineer. If Scotty had borderline agnostic questions about why the just suffer, McCoy could not permit this. The just, the innocent, and the soon-to-be-married suffered and died. A doctor knew this. An engineer could seemingly always find a miracle, but a doctor could only try, knowing full well that sometimes the answer is no. McCoy had started as even more militantly atheist than Scotty thought himself. Being in the presence of two men who roughly defined right person in the right place at the right time, and seeing those two save creation itself on more than a few occasions had sharply turned a man who once swore only by Apollo The Healer.

"But having your body able to heal from literally anything doesn't mean you never get hurt. There are generations of flesh, indicating growth and healing. Even absent scars or related tissue, one patch of skin shows signs of being newer than others, if only in scans. Needless to say, in cryo-stasis, Peter Kirk has not grown up, so there should be little growth. Yet instead----"

McCoy found his detachment wanting, when it concerned an innocent child, and especially so when that child was his best friend's firstborn son.

"---instead there is the equivalent of three centuries of cellular regeneration. Most disturbingly, there is evidence of ten years of extra regeneration near the anal cavity. Kidnappers have been known to hurt their targets, whatever the reason for the abduction. But this was not the result of random thugs, activists or hirelings going beyond their orders. This was deliberate experimentation upon a sentient being, done by professionals who knew in advance that their subject was immortal. On a less than professional level, this old country doctor must believe that the so-called people involved enjoyed their work. They had fun destroying a helpless boy whose greatest sin was probably a light crush on his mother-figure. Best part for these sadists? When they were done, they got to do it all over again. If there isn't a Hell, I want one to be built for them, so they can experience the same straight past eternity's end. Whoever ordered this to happen should get worse."

McCoy breathed in, gathered himself, but chose not to edit his words. If the 'report regulators' at Admiralty Hall wanted words with him, he'd give them words they'd never forget.

"Like these regenerations, toxins introduced, even when metabolized, leave traces of the enzymes used to do so. In addition to the attempted genetic enhancement of what may already be a cosmic apex predator--brilliant move, that--we have hard radiation at levels that could melt our hull. At some point, someone fed hot crude oil into his veins. I'll just assume they didn't inject with a hypospray full of ethics for lack of available material."

McCoy found that he was also not a Vulcan, and so moved to conclude his report.

"His body long past healed from every last thing they did to him. The mind of Peter Kirk is another story. What will become of the spirit of what was once a bright kid who tried to be happy despite it all? Well, on the chance that somehow someway our oh-so-clever mystery abductors get hold of this report, let me add one more medical diagnosis and some advice : Check your pulses. If they're still active, then Jim Kirk hasn't found you yet. That will change. Mark me on that."

 

12

The door chime sounded, and McCoy was not at all surprised to see his friend and Captain walk in.

"Jim, you look like fifty miles of bad road - all of it racetrack."

Kirk sat down, his troubled look again not a bit surprising. There were times the great man shrugged off his years. This was not close to being one of those times.

"I was thinking about..."

McCoy cut him off.

"I know who you were thinking about."

Kirk shot a light but intense enough glare before continuing.

"I was going to say Matt Decker."

McCoy felt a bit chastened, but still asked the obvious.

"And he relates to Peter how?"

Rather than engage in pointless denial of this assertion, Kirk got down to it.

"He, like a lot of other older captains, was opposed to my taking Enterprise. He and they felt there were worthier candidates, more seasoned and more mature. He told me I'd gotten lucky a few times - actually more than a few times, and that eventually my luck would run out. He even told me exactly how it would happen."

McCoy did not interrupt as before, but he did step in.

"Well, clairvoyant, he wasn't. Great man, Jim, but not always the most farsighted."

Kirk was not interested in defending Matt Decker ; even his own son had once said that thoroughness was a trait he developed, not inherited. But in fact the elder Decker could be quite prescient.

"He said that eventually, I would have to leave a crewmember behind. Not merely as in they died in the line of duty, or even pointlessly, as a crude demonstration of someone's power. He told me that luck like mine wore out right around that time when that one kid you liked and cared about would be lost, and you'd never even know for certain what really happened to them, and you would have no real way to ever find out."

Since this had in fact happened, the Doctor moved past it entirely.

"But now you know, and that kid is back. Jim, you mourned Peter openly as long as you could, and then you at least pretended to move on. Now, you don't have to mourn him any longer. I could offer a bunch of I told you so's on that video message, but it was a forgivable error. You were excited and proud of your boy, and wanted to show him off again. You're his father. It comes with the territory."

Kirk looked at his physician/confessor, his eyes slightly reddened from holding back tears he didn't care if some saw as unmanly, but which he did see as useless.

"Let's face it, Bones. I've never been much of anything to that boy. Saavik writes me that he's been calling Sarek 'Father'. But how can I resent either of them for this? If Sarek speaks to him once a day, Hell, once a week and asks how he's doing, he's being more of a father to Peter than I've ever been."

McCoy stepped in places few others would, which is part of why Kirk went to see him.

"You want I should rent or buy the violins, Captain?"

"Could you perhaps try showing sympathy, Doctor?"

McCoy did not relent.

"I have nothing but sympathy, for you and for Peter. I saw what he had been through etched onto his face, and I've watched it etch itself onto your face for the past decade. But the one place I have no sympathy for either of you is when you try to get up again when you are not ready. Father and son, both carrying the weight of the cosmos on their shoulders for as long as I have known either of them, and both too stubborn too ask for help until there is no choice at all. Worse still, you now expect it of each other. Peter's been asleep for ten years, Jim. What the hell is your excuse?"

Kirk calmed down, but looked no happier.

"I just thought at some point, there might be some joy in his life. That I could see him be happy, instead of just enduring. I'd even leave him be entirely, if I thought that would purchase it for him."

McCoy shrugged.

"Not happening, Captain. The boy could never let you go, even for a promise of happiness. When it comes to giving up, well, there's too much of his father in him."

Kirk saw an opening, and despite his depression, could not resist it.

"I know. That's what worries me. If he had just fled that abduction instead of standing his ground, he might have gotten word out to someone in time."

McCoy again disallowed this pattern to pity.

"Really? Because from everything Spock told me from analysis of the abduction scene, these were some well-prepared kidnappers. They even seemed to know the boy was stronger than he looked. But whoever they were, again according to our Vulcan friend, there were a lot less of them left when Peter was done. They may have won that fight, but they knew they'd be in one. Jim, I know that doesn't help much, but it does mean the boy is a tough one. He may just be a while in being himself again."

Kirk breathed in.

"I suppose asking for instant results is one of my weaknesses. Particularly when the one I'm asking it of doesn't have to obey my orders."

The door chimed again, and Spock walked into McCoy's office.

"Captain--Doctor. I believe the two of you should view this message."



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