He does not even consider submitting a full report on this. There is absolutely no way in hell.
“I’m not doing it, so please don’t ask.”
Jim leaned back against the wall and glanced up. “Computer, lock doors.” The computer chirped acquiescence and Jim sighed. “I figured you’d say that.”
“Then why ask,” and, really, he had to order more ciprofloxacin, this was ridiculous, the crew were going through his supply like it was vitamin supplements. Every time they were exposed to any bacterium the whole lot had to be dosed, and he lived in dread of the time he’d dose them all and watch it have absolutely no effect. Resistant bacteria, his space-faring ass.
He looked up to see Jim studying the floor. Well, shit. This didn’t bode well. “Jim –“
“Just because,” Jim said slowly, “you won’t use the virus for bio-weaponry, that doesn’t mean others won’t. The universe doesn’t work that way.”
“There’s no guarantee that anyone will stumble on it,” McCoy said after a pause. “There’s not even a high likelihood; if we stick a plague warning on the planet, no-one is gonna want to investigate.”
“No-one rational,” Jim pointed out. “I hate to break it to you, Bones, but not all our enemies have turned out to be the rational type. And what then? Sure, you don’t want anything to do with this, but what if someone else does? Doesn’t even have to be malicious intentions. One rumour, and an ambitious scientist thinks they can fix the virus so it’s not lethal. It’s possible, right?” His hand crept to the half-visible lesion on his forearm, skirting the edges as he scratched. The lesions had shrunk dramatically once McCoy had administered the serum, and the other symptoms had abated, but the entire landing party still had a shred or two of blue about them, and would do for a few days yet.
“It’s possible,” McCoy admitted. “Maybe. It’s far more likely, however, that some self-important paper-pusher back at Starfleet HQ thinks he knows better, and decides that this would make a prime research opportunity. It’s far more likely that it’s our own people that manage to set loose a mutated version of this thing and, sure, we’ll be able to stop it-“ he threw up his hands, “in a few months, maybe; a few weeks if we’re lucky. A few weeks, and meanwhile it’s wiped out a planet or two. Maybe we catch a break and it’s somewhere out of the way, or maybe we don’t, and it’s Rigel or Antares, and the damn thing is in the shipping routes and wiping out half the sector and then it doesn’t matter if we have the antidote, because we won’t be able to manufacture enough to make a blind bit of difference!” He glared at Jim for a moment, defiant, then turned back to his paperwork.
Ciproflaxin, right. Did the blood bank need topping up? Spock was overdue to give blood; he’d have Chapel schedule it. Worst possible time to find they’re running low would be when Spock was bleeding out on his table.
He could feel Jim staring at him for a while. It felt like a while, anyway, because he was most definitely not looking up, and this wasn’t even a discussion.
Jim sighed. “All right. I see your point.” He looked around. “I think I need something medicinal.”
McCoy looked up at that and managed what was almost a smile at Jim’s rueful expression. No love lost for paper-pushers in that corner, although he could appreciate the difficulty Jim was in, trying to decide what would be the greatest risk. “Now that I can get behind.” He still had a little bit of that Saurian brandy left and, really there was no better time. He fetched it and a couple of tumblers, pouring generously for them both.
Jim squinted at his drink. “I’ll need to speak to Spock, you know.”
McCoy leaned back in his chair and sipped from his glass. “No,” he said. “You won’t.”
Spock had already beaten him to it, presenting his carefully-doctored report for McCoy’s approval. It was probably already in Jim’s inbox by now, telling the tragic tale of Miri’s world and the plague that killed all post-adolescents. Spock had clearly hedged his bets, limiting his report to the activities of the landing party and the status of the stricken world. With respect to the medical aspects of the contagion, he had deferred to McCoy’s report on the matter.
And McCoy… well. He had told the truth, after a fashion. His report had not lied about the nature of the virus, nor its side-effects. However,there had been no need, in his opinion, to mention the age of any of the afflicted. They looked like children and, medically, there was nothing about them that screamed immortals. With his serum, they would age normally from this point on.
(He has already destroyed all his notes on the virus.)
Jim didn’t look terribly surprised.
Immortality, for goodness’s sake. Whose idiotic idea had that been.
It is a young man’s game, his father had once told him, and McCoy had never forgot it. Surely it would be the other way around? With young men laughing at mortality, and old men grasping life too tightly for breath...
It wasn't anything like that. Not even a little bit.
Immortality is a young man’s game, and old men have no business reaching for it. Leonard, Leonard, listen to me. I don’t want to live like this. Leonard, please –
McCoy reached for the bottle.