Leonard Horatio McCoy growled in annoyance as another splinched witch ambled into the medical waiting area. That made five tonight! "I hate magic," he muttered with a shake of his head as he updated the patient list with a wave of his wand.
"That's a strange thing for a wizard to say," a cheerful voice replied unexpectedly.
Leonard looked up to see a young blonde thing smiling at him. He furrowed his brows. "I know you?"
Her smile never dimmed. "Nope! Christine Chapel." She offered her hand and he gave it a quick shake. "Just finished my healer training."
Great, just what he needed—another overly excited idiot who likely didn't know spattergroit from scrofungulus. But his momma had raised him with enough manners that he grunted a reply: "Leonard McCoy."
"Oh, I know who you are," Chapel told him, still smiling. (Why was she smiling so much? Didn't she realize what kind of idiots most of their patients were?) "You're Healer-in-Charge." Also known as her boss.
That was, McCoy assumed, the end of their conversation. Most of the staff knew him well enough to know not to engage him unless absolutely necessary; apparently no one had informed Chapel yet. "So why do you hate magic?" she asked after only a few moments of blessed silence.
Leonard frowned. "I don't." Not really. (Well, maybe a little bit at times because some things could be done without it, damn it, but try telling that to a witch or wizard.)
"Then why did you—?"
"It's the dumbasses wielding it I really despise." This was actually said as much for Chapel's benefits as for the newest arrival—Jim Kirk, famous Auror and idiot savant. (Heavy on the idiot as far as McCoy was concerned.)
Chapel's expression was one of pure shock but Jim was grinning. "Aw, c'mon, Bones," a nickname earned at their first meeting thanks to the Muggle-born Kirk not knowing the meaning of the embroidered bone/wand symbol he wore, "y'know you love me."
Leonard's expression didn't change. "What'd you do this time?" Something to his right arm, judging by the way he was cradling it.
As always, Jim was evasive. "Look, it wasn't my fault."
"It never is," Leonard replied dryly.
Jim blew a raspberry. "The perp was getting away! What was I supposed to do?" He didn't give Leonard a chance to reply. "I'm Auror Kirk, by the way," he said to Chapel, flashing his favorite 'lady killer' smile. "James T. Kirk. But you can call me Jim."
Leonard cuffed him on the back of his head. "Knock it off." He hated it when Jim flirted with his staff. They'd get so damn distracted by the kid they'd forget to do their jobs.
Rubbing his head, Jim pouted. "I thought you took some kind of oath to do no harm."
"Why don't I take Mr. Kirk to a room before you end up with a lawsuit on your hands?" Chapel suggested. There was an amused smirk on her face but she didn't seem to be fawning, so that was a good sign. (Besides, she didn't really wait for him to agree—just herded Kirk away before either man could argue.)
As was customary after a Jim Kirk visit to the hospital emergency ward, Leonard accompanied him down to the cafeteria. The food was mediocre at best but the company was good (not that he was admitting it) and he was usually overdue for a break, anyway.
Today they had soup. It was called vegetable medley but McCoy was pretty certain that was an overstatement of things. Judging by the dubious look Kirk was giving his own bowl, he didn't seem to be alone in that assessment.
Jim let his spoon drop and looked at Leonard. "Thanks for the patch job, Bones."
Leonard shrugged. "S'what I'm here for."
They fell back into comfortable silence for a minute. Then Jim grinned in a way that always made McCoy wary. "I like that new girl. What was her name? Christie?"
"Christine." McCoy pursed his lips thoughtfully, stirring his soup. "Yeah, she's all right. Surprisingly competent."
Jim raised his brows. "Why is competency a surprise again?"
"Because so often the new healers aren't."
The Auror laughed. "You're such a hardass, old man."
That made Leonard roll his eyes. "And you're an idiot."
"Maybe so…" the smile playing on Jim's face was a dangerous one (although, they all were, really), "but at least I know a good-looking woman when I see one."
Leonard suppressed the urge to sigh. "What's your point, Jim?"
"Your divorce has been finalized for two years, Bones—when are you gonna get out there again?"
Never mind that divorce was enough to make any man gun shy, divorce from Jocelyn had very nearly convinced him to take up monkhood. "I'll pencil it in for the Saturday after never."
Jim clapped Leonard on the shoulder. "C'mon, where's your sense of adventure?"
"Firmly locked away ever since I met you," he replied pointedly.
"Pfft," Jim waved that off easily, "I think you're afraid of having fun."
Leonard gave him a Look. "And you're afraid of gators. Nobody's perfect."
Shrugging, Jim picked up his spoon again. "Fine. Maybe I'll ask her out, then."
That made Leonard frown but he didn't object. He'd learned that lesson by now. (Best way to make certain Jim Kirk wanted something? Tell him he couldn't have it.) Besides, it wasn't like he really cared. It was just that Jim was a frequent flyer around these parts and he didn't need his staff, particularly the competent few, distracted by nonmedical things.
As it happened, Jim did continue to flirt with Chapel whenever he landed at the hospital. He tried asking her out several times but she deflected him easily with a warm smile and a chocolate bar. And, no matter how he pouted, she never did change her mind. (Secretly, he was glad. A little humility was good for Jim—and he was pleased to avoid the aforementioned staff concerns.)
On the list of Leonard McCoy's Least Favorite Things, visits from Undersecretary Spock from the Department of Magic was near the top. In fact, he was relatively certain it would be at the top if not for the fact that he was forced to regularly deal with the man in a social capacity, thanks to their common friendship with one Jim Kirk.
Still, McCoy was feeling grouchy when Spock dropped by for an unannounced visit. The man was inspecting their new potion-making facilities because: "As a Potions Master, I have a personal, as well as professional, interest in seeing them."
Leonard had rolled his eyes but kept mum on the subject. (At least he wasn't there to bother his department, right? Except that any visit from Spock inevitably led to visits to every hospital department.)
So, understandably, he made himself scarce when the Undersecretary came to make his rounds on their floor. Not so was the case where Chapel was concerned; she stood in plain view of the man with an eager smile on her face. She didn't hesitate to engage him in conversation, either—something most people were far too intimidated to attempt.
When Spock moved on with his tour, McCoy breathed a sigh of relief. Bad enough when he invaded his personal time. He really didn't need to deal with the man on the clock, too.
He headed to pick up a new chart when he overheard Chapel speaking with Healer M'Benga. "Is it true he's an expert Potions Master?"
J. Geoffrey M'Benga, a notorious gossip, made an affirmative noise. "One of the youngest ever. You know he designed part of the Auror's practicum?"
"You don't say…"
Leonard glanced to see this Look on Chapel's face that was just… well, he hadn't seen it there before and could say he liked it all that much. (It was all too reminiscent of how the majority of the female healers on his staff looked at Kirk whenever he came swaggering in.)
Shaking his head, Leonard turned and continued on his way. If he didn't know Spock was practically married to an expert Ancient Rune decoder, he might've been concerned. After all, Chapel was an intelligent woman—it wouldn't be a stretch for him to show an interest back. And then he might have to see the man even more and that was not something he wanted to face.
Leonard McCoy hated Mondays, and he hated meetings. So Monday morning meetings? Pretty much his least favorite thing ever. But he sat through them because it was his job and tried not to scowl too much at his boss, Karen Puri.
He couldn't stop himself from frowning, though, when Puri asked him to stay after. (He had important things to do and dealing with bureaucracy wasn't one of them.) "What's up, Karen?"
A spry woman of seventy-eight, Karen liked to keep moving. She gestured for him to walk with her before she began. "I'll keep it brief, Leonard. I know you were looking to fast track Chapel into being your number two but she's put in a request to transfer. Since you've given several reports regarding her abilities, I won't be needing anything from you. I just thought you'd want to know."
Blindsided didn't even begin to describe what Leonard was feeling. "I, uh… thanks."
Karen patted his shoulder before heading off, leaving him with his thoughts. Problem was, Leonard didn't particularly care for the ones currently circulating his mind… or the unsettling feeling in his gut.
Christ, he hated Monday morning meetings.
To say Leonard McCoy was on a tear would've been an overstatement of things—but not by much. He'd been irritable and short-tempered since his talk with Puri (even by his own standards), and he knew it. He just couldn't bring himself to care because every little thing was seriously pissing him off this week.
Christine was nearby when he ripped into a medwizard for a common misdiagnosis. She waited until the poor man finally made his mistake then addressed Leonard. "Jeez, who spit in your pumpkin juice?"
Slapping down the papers he'd been working on, he glared at her. "What do you care?"
Crossing her arms, Christine was the picture of unaffected. "Okay, now you're just being ornery."
Leonard could see an audience gathering out of the corner of his eye, so he took Chapel by the elbow and led her to an empty room. Once they were inside, he rounded on her. "Look, if you wanted to leave, you could've just told me."
There was faint amusement playing on her face as she lifted a brow. "Because you're so approachable?"
Leonard grit his teeth and made to move past her. "Forget it."
"Hey." She stopped him with a hand no his arm. "I was teasing… mostly." Christine offered a smile. "I didn't say anything because… well, I was a little embarrassed."
Her cheeks grew rosy. "Because the real reason I requested the transfer has nothing to do with what I put down on the form."
She might as well have been speaking Romanian for how well Leonard felt like he understood her. "Okay?"
Christine rolled her eyes. "I'm leaving because I don't want you to be my boss anymore."
It shouldn't have hurt. Leonard had been told as much (often in much unfriendlier terms) from more than one subordinate over the years and it'd never bothered him. Yet, coming from Christine, it did. It gutted him, actually. And he had no idea why. "Oh."
"Stop that," she scolded. "It's not for whatever reasons you're inventing in your mind."
Leonard was frowning as he met her gaze. "Then why?"
"Because," she tucked her hair—a nervous habit she almost never displayed, "it didn't seem right to ask you out while you held significant power over my career potential."
Well, that wasn't what he'd been expecting at all. "What?"
Her face was full red now. "You heard me."
"But I thought…" he cleared his throat, "Spock…"
"Love his brain, can't stand his stiff attitude. Besides, he has a girlfriend that he happens to love very much and who I respect far too much to even consider him beyond an intellectual."
"Is a fabulously fun and funny date, I'm sure, but would probably make about the worst boyfriend alive." She wrinkled her nose. "I don't think monogamy is his thing."
Leonard had to give her that much. "True." He pursed his lips. "But still I—"
Christine put her hands on her hips. "Look, are you trying to talk me out of this because you don't want to go out with me?"
"No!" He was momentarily startled by the vehemence he felt. "Of course not, I just—"
"Then stop." Christine smiled. "I like you. Deal with it."
"I…" A lopsided smile made its way onto Leonard's face. (It was easily the most sincere warm expression he'd worn in years.) "Okay." He quirked a brow. "Dinner at my place on Friday to celebrate your new position?"
"Mm-hmm. You cook and I'll bring dessert." Leonard had a feeling she wasn't talking about a cake. He couldn't bring himself to mind.