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Title: Stumbling Into Each Other is Complicated
Pairing: McCoy/Chapel, with an appearance by Janice Rand/Jim Kirk
Rating: PG-13
Prompt: From [info]fringedweller  who gave me: Chapel's been pining for McCoy for ages, but realizes in horror that she's slipped firmly into the 'good friend' zone. Urged by her friends on board the Enterprise, she starts to dip her toe into the dating pool. It's only when she's starting to see somebody else that McCoy realizes what an idiot he's been, and is determined to woo her into submission. But I sorta accidentally reversed it...sorry, hope you like it anyways. :/
Word Count: 4,886
Disclaimer: Characters aren't mine, but oh if wishing made it so.
A/N: Written for the 2011 [info]mccoy_chapel Holiday Exchange. I hope you like it [info]fringedweller .  Also thanks to [info]izzyfics for her cheerleading and excellent advice on where to add more. :) And of course her incomparable beta skills. And as always comments are cherished like small furry pets. :)

Christine Chapel finds herself smiling at the conversation going on at her table in the mess.  She’s laughing at some inane grousing comment Leonard has made, about the 400th one this week, and she can’t really tell you why it’s still funny, but to her it is. He’s got Janice and Nyota laughing as well.  And before she’s fully aware of what is going on, he’s excusing himself from the table to head back to sickbay.

Christine is finally drawn out of her mental reverie when Janice asks her, “So when are you two going to stop dancing around each other and start dating?”

“It’s complicated.”

Nyota glanced at Janice, and Christine doesn’t like it one bit, it was a look that screamed pity and she wasn’t someone who wanted or needed anyone’s pity. She bites out an acerbic, “Stop that.”

Nyota had the decency to look chagrined, “Sorry, I just don’t want to see you and Len drop into the just friends zone and never give this obvious chemistry a chance.”

“We are not dropping into the friend zone.  We’re friends, and colleagues, and maybe something more eventually, you know we’ve had to contend with his ex-wife wanting to trying it again.  And well Roger coming back, but turning out to not be himself, wasn’t exactly a cake walk either. We’re just trying to figure things out that’s all.”

Janice tries to placate Christine by putting a hand on her arm, but Christine shakes it off, Janice starts speaking anyway, “You know we are just trying to help, hun.”

Christine growls and stands. “Don’t. It’s fine.  We are just fine.” Christine can almost feel her blood boil when she stomps off to the refresher unit, and she’s not exactly sure why the conversation pissed her off so much, but damn if she isn’t furious. She can feel the anger washing over her in waves, and she knows she shouldn’t be, that she should fight harder to stop the anger that is rising up in her, an all too often occurrence these days, but she just can’t, she doesn’t have the energy, so she gives into the deep feeling of anger and hate and bitterness that engulfs her and chases the good sense out of the forefront of her mind.

9999999999999999

Christine spends the first three hours of her afternoon shift mad at the world, and scaring off all of her subordinate nurses, and one of the junior doctors.  She’s sure that if McCoy were to come out of his office, he’s not stirred once in three hours which means he’s doing paperwork and God help you if you interrupt him, he’d have something to say about her general disposition—damn hypocrite.  But he’s not around and she can’t be bothered to care, because despite what the rational part of her brain knows to be true—Janice and Nyota are wrong damn it—she can’t shake the feeling that maybe, just maybe they are right, and she’s not really sure what to do with that information, so she retreats back into what has become her functioning normal ever since the whole thing with Roger being a robot happened.  She lets the anger and the frustration roll over her like a summer rain storm, fast, scary and dangerous, and stops letting it worry her that she really shouldn’t be feeling this upset about it or be this angry and friends who are simply trying to help.

She goes back to checking the charts her nurses had handed in for her review and tries to focus on what she is working on, but she can’t shake the internal thought that something just isn’t quite right.

Christine’s attention is forced elsewhere when the doors to sick bay slide open and Jim Kirk strolls in with a pretty, trim, well-proportioned brunette.

“Ahh Chris, I’d like you to meet our newest crew member, Dr. Helen Noll. She’s a psychologist, and Starfleet has assigned her to be our new ship psychologist.  Everyone will be assigned a time to meet with her to be evaluated, if you could help the nurses not complain too much, I’d be much obliged.” Jim offers her a wink, they both know that getting Enterprise crew to mix well with a Fleet psychologist is like mixing oil and water. 

“Of course captain,” Christine says in the most serious voice she can muster, because really this whole thing is more than a litter preposterous.  Damn Starfleet thinks that they are all about to crumble under the pressure of a five year mission because they are the youngest damn crew in the fleet. As if the Narada incident hadn’t made them all battle ready in an instant. 

Jim nods, as if he knows what she’s thinking, “Oh, pardon my manners.  Dr. Noll, this is Head Nurse, Christine Chapel. She’s Dr. McCoy’s right-hand woman.”

“Interesting.  It’s nice to meet you Ms. Chapel.”

Christen has to bite her tongue to remain civil.  She knows when she’s been dismissed. Seems the pretty Yankee psychologist has decided she’s not worth much because she doesn’t have a PhD after her name.  Christine seethes.  I am so not in the mood for this shit.

“Is he in his office?”

“Yes, and approach with caution, he’s reviewing the supply manifolds, and sorting out leave requests, you know how he gets with that stuff.”

“Duly noted.  Come on Dr. Noll, once more into the breach.”

Christine managed to laugh at Jim’s statement, while Noll mutters an interesting.  Christine bites down on her tongue again and manages to keep her growl held in until the Captain and Dr. Noll have passed through the door to McCoy’s private office. 

Christine doesn’t like Helen Noll, and it’s not just the fact that she dismissed Christine after learning she wasn’t a doctor.  No, if Christine’s granny Chapel taught her anything it’s to trust your gut instincts and right now, Christine’s gut is telling her to stay as far away from Helen Noll as possible.   

She’s been focusing on actual work, for about twenty minutes when the Captain and Dr. Noll finally exit.  She hears McCoy’s voice as he steps out of the room a moment later, his hand in the small of Helen’s back.  That’s when the small ball of fury ignites deep inside Christine.  And it grows larger when she hears what he’s saying, or rather how he’s saying it.  Son of a bitch, he’s using the southern drawl.

“Nice meetin’ ya Helen.  I’ll see ya, round ‘bout six?”

“Sounds nice Leo, see you then.”

Christine grips her Pad so hard she’d be afraid it might break in half, if she could focus on anything but that giant ball of fury that is wound so tight she might actually explode.  She can’t even think logically, can’t process this new information, can’t really tell what she’s feeling except for jealous and green with envy is never a color she’s worn well.

Well, damn.

Christine doesn’t notice that she’s slammed the Pad onto the  table, or that she’s stormed out fifteen minutes before the end of her shift. And she certainly doesn’t notice the stares, or the way Jim Kirk looks at her half knowingly and half sheepish.  She doesn’t notice the crowded hallways or the stares she gets in the turbo lift. She doesn’t really notice anything until she’s pounding on the door to Nyota’s room. When the door slides open, Christine’s got her arms wrapped around herself and just starts speaking.

“That surly, difficult, jackass just asked the new ship psychologist, who is a real piece of work by the way, to dinner. Wanna get drunk?”

Christine never really looked at who was at the door, she was staring at her shoes, trying to avoid the fact that she had clearly over reacted when Nyota and Janice (who were apparently very right) had tried to help her.  So it’s a bit of a surprise when she hears Spock’s dulcet voice, “Nyota, I believe your expertise are needed, I shall see you tomorrow.”

Christine steps into the room as he gives Nyota a brief kiss good bye and then sinks onto her couch as he leaves, “Oh kill me now. Sorry, I interrupted your plans.”

Nyota is already rifling through her closet and comes up with a bottle of whiskey when she turns back to Christine, and says, “Don’t worry about it.” She starts to pour when she says, “Now tell me everything.”

99999999999999

Christine has slept off a rather impressive hangover, and is eating breakfast when McCoy finds her the next morning.  As he slides his tray onto the table and takes the seat next to her she finds herself wondering if perhaps Nyota was right, maybe she read the whole situation wrong. Maybe he was just being polite and trying to save Jim the trouble of having to entertain Dr. Noll on her first night on the new ship.  Jim and Janice had plans last night after all. And maybe he was just trying to make her jealous to force an end to their seeming in ability to get on the same page about whatever was happening between them. 

“Are we still on for our usual drinks and medical journals?”

Christine smiles as it’s an odd tradition but one she loves none the less. Once a week they sip bourbon and talk about the latest medical research, the progress on her doctoral research, and the latest shenanigans that their respective staff members are pulling.

“Of course, wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Len smiles a genuine smile and manages to catch her hand in his giving it a gentle squeeze.  “Good.”

And Christine feels her sprits buoy, maybe Nyota was right. Christine finishes her breakfast and feels much better than she has in days, “See you tonight.”

McCoy nods and she’s off on her way, decidedly more cheerful.

9999999

Christine arrives at McCoy’s room at the regularly scheduled time, and has a smile on her face, as usual, but when the door slides open and Christine finds Helen Noll on the other side, holding two glasses of Bourbon she feels like the floor’s gone out from underneath her. 

Just smile, you can do this, just get through this

It’s a mantra that plays over and over and over in her head, through the explanation—poor Helen doesn’t have any friends yet, and really what’s the harm in inviting her, she’s a medical professional too—through the endless talk about psychology—Christine did you know Leo has a specialty in psychology?—why yes I did, I’ve only been his friends for years and you’ve been here all of five minutes, Do you know his favorite fruit? His momma’s first name? His grandma’s favorite flower that she planted all over the property he now owns?—But when it comes to the flirting, God damn the incessant flirting, Christine can’t take it. She feels something inside her give, and all the proper training in etiquette, all of her granny Chapel’s lessons on enduring even the most insulting situations in the name of propriety can’t force her to sit in the chair any longer and watch Lenard McCoy flirt with that woman. 

“I’m sorry, I’m going to have to go. I just remembered I need to check on one of my simulations that’s running in the lab, if I don’t it will terribly effect the data for my dissertation. “

Helen looks smug, she’s never wanted to hit someone so much in her life, and Leonard, well he just looks surprised and she really can’t handle that right now. The whole situation leaves her feeling crazy and jealous and so hurt she can’t help but be angry just to cover it up.  And that just makes her feel crazy.  Christine heads for the door.

“Good luck with the sim, see you tomorrow Chris.”

And it about kills her, the soft way he says her name, the way she loves to hear.  It’s something private, and tender and so simply McCoy.  But right now it mostly makes her want to claw her eyes out because it clearly doesn’t mean what she’s always thought it meant, and she feels so damn stupid to think he was interested in her. Because if he ever was, clearly wasn’t now that he had a beautiful leggy psychologist to spend his time with. 

She makes it back to her room, and throws on her comfortable sweats, and pours a heavy shot of whiskey into a glass before typing out a message to Nyota and Janice.  It was simple and short and to the point.   S.O.S. – Need you girls now, my life is falling apart, please hurry.

Perhaps a bit over dramatic, but she can’t care less. She’s got half the bottle drank in the twenty minutes it takes for her friends to arrive. She’s three quarters into the bottle before she starts to cry, and that is when Janice gets mad.

They are all three drinking from a second bottle of whiskey when Janice speaks with determination, “God damn it Chrissy, you are not going to let him make you cry and you are not going to let this damn Yankee steal your man.”

Nyota looks at Janice with her head cocked to the side, “How much of that second bottle have you had? You seem to have forgotten that you’re a Yankee too.”

“Nope, I’m an honorary southerner, Chrissy said, besides, that damn Noll woman is making my life hell. She’s got access to everyone’s files, and noticed Jim was on Tarsus so she wants to sit down and analyze him so bad she’s practically salivating, and he’s dodging her like crazy. It’s making my professional life difficult and my personal life hell. Plus she’s making Chrissy here crazy.”

“Hey! I’m not crazy.”

Nyota and Jancie just give her a look and she withers a little.

“Ok so I’m having a bout of insanity, just a small one though. And maybe I’ve been acting like a bitch, but I just don’t understand what happened.  Before Roger—or the robot that formerly was Roger—came back McCoy and I were this close to being a thing, and now he’s only got eyes for Helen.  Ugh, I hate that name.”

Nyota takes the bottle out of Christine’s hand and screws the lid back on, “Okay that is enough liquor for one night. You are going to want to kill yourself in the morning…”

“No she isn’t,” Janice interrupts Nyota with a smug smile on her face, and before Nyota can tear her to shreds for interrupting she smiles and digs a hypo out of her bag, “Jim sent this along, one of McCoy’s patented anti hangover hypos. Just administer before bed, and you’ll be fit as a fiddle when you wake up.  Jim’s totally in your corner by the way.  He thinks Len’s got his head up his ass.”

“Damn right he does.”

Nyota rolls her eyes, but still chuckles anyway, “As I was trying to say.  We have to get you out of this funk.  There is no reason you have to take this laying down.  I think it’s time to fight fire with fire.  You’re Christine fucking Chapel.  Bring your A game girl.  Seduce that man till he can’t remember his name, let alone Helen’s.”

Janice lets out a cackle, “Yes that is perfect.  Wear that dress you wore for Mardi Gras last time we were on planet. You had every head turning on Bourbon Street. McCoy won’t know what hit him.”

Christine brightened at their suggestions, her foggy mind clearing enough to recognize a good suggestion when she heard one.  “I don’t have that with me, but I think I know what will be just the ticket.  Here let me try it on, see what you two think.”

Forty minutes later Christine was snug in bed and feeling the drunkenness fading under the assault of McCoy’s hypo.  Nyota and Janice had loved her outfit and she was relieved to finally have a plan.  True she’s nervous as hell, because if he has truly classified her squarely under the friend column, than she’s going to look like a damn fool.  But she’s had her pride wounded more than once, and this if anything was worth the risk.  Her last thought before she drifted into sleep, her mind made up and her plan well mapped out in her head, was please God let it be worth the risk.

999999999999999

Leonard McCoy was sitting in his office having his midafternoon cup of coffee (he’s a man of habit and there is nothing wrong with that thank, you very much) and wondering what in the hell was wrong with Christine Chapel.

She’s been angrier and snappish than usual ever since Exos and the whole having to shoot her robot ex-fiancé, which was understandable in a way, it was a hell of a trauma to go through.  But she’d been acting crazier than that ever since Helen had shown up and after last night’s abrupt exit from their usual bourbon night she’d been conspicuously absent all day. 

He’d been hoping Helen could help Chris deal with some of the baggage her last encounter with Roger had left, that was why he’d invited Helen to their bourbon night, but Christine seemed to dislike Helen with a vengeance.  And that left him pretty much back at square one, wondering what the hell was wrong with Christine Chapel and why she was hiding from him.

He’s distracted from his thoughts, his coffee, and his still unfinished paperwork when he hears the chime, and calls out a “come in.”

He would have said more, but honestly his voice is stuck in his throat. The mystery of where Christine Chapel is has been solved, because at the moment she’s taking off her white lab coat and tossing it over the chair on the other side of his desk, and wait, what the hell? She’s now sitting on the edge of his desk wearing an outfit that ought not to be legal.  Leonard McCoy can feel his trousers getting tighter than they were five seconds ago and his confusion is growing by leaps and bounds. But he can’t help but let his hand linger on her bare calf.  She is a vision, and he can’t look away.  Her skirt is tight and short and made of what he thinks is probably the softest, buttery, leather he’s ever felt, and the slit in the side, well he’s seeing more of her legs than he ever has before and his head is damn near spinning.

And the top. Oh God.  He’s pretty sure it has no back and dips low in the front, and made of this shimmery silver fabric that looks feather light and almost non-existent, and he can’t for the life of him figure out why she is wearing an outfit like this or why she is in his office, but damn if he cares at the moment.

She chuckles, low and husky, “Like what you see McCoy?”

And he doesn’t even think, just slides his hand along her smooth gorgeous leg and mutters a “Yeah.”

And she’s moving closer to him, and practically in his lap, she’s kneeling on either side of his legs, her butt on his desk for support, her hands on his shoulders, before his brain reengages and he can find enough vocabulary words to put thought into speech, and mutters, “What the hell is going on Chris?”

She freezes then, and he can see the tension start to roll back into her, the anger that’s been there is starting to build again, he can see it the set of her jaw and the hurt in her eyes.

She won’t look at him when she starts to pull back and says a rather dejected, “Never mind.”

He grabs her wrists as she starts to lean back and he traps her gaze in his, “Come on Chrissy, talk to me. Why are you acting so strange?”

“Let me go! I’m not acting strange. This was a mistake, let me go, and we’ll pretend this never happened.”

“No.”

“What?”

“I said no. Because you are under the impression that I’m somehow unhappy about this course of events, and let’s get one thing clear right now darlin’ you can come in here looking like that and sit on my desk anytime you want.  But you’ve spent the better part of the last three months pissed at the world, and pushing everyone away, so I’m going to ask why it is that you are suddenly here, and looking so damn good.”

Christine looks chagrined, and dangerously close to tears and he can’t help but pull her into his lap and wrap his arms around her, “I’m here, darlin’ tell me what’s going on.”

She snuggles into him, her face burrowing into his neck, and he knows it’s so she doesn’t have to look at him as she talks, but as long as she talks he doesn’t really care. 

“We’ve been dancing around each other for three years. And I thought you liked me, and then you go and asked Helen Noll out on a date, and you’ve been so different since I killed Roger, and I’m just so upset all the time. I was so jealous I couldn’t stand it.”

McCoy chuckles at the mournful way she says the last part. “Chris, look at me.”  He waits for her to pull away enough to look him in the eye, and when she does he catches her chin with the two of his fingers so he knows she’s looking at him, “I do like you. Damn it I’ve been in love with you for the better part of the three years we’ve been dancing around each other.  But it was never the right time, and you’ve been beating yourself up so much I didn’t know what to do to help you.”

Christine blinks at that, and he can see in her eyes that she’s processing that information. Her face starting to soften, and he can tell she’s close to tears.  He pulls her in tight against him.  “I asked Helen to dinner as a courtesy; she and apparently you too, took it the wrong way.  I asked her to drinks last night because I think you need to talk to someone about what happened with Rodger. I hate watching you do this to yourself.”

Christine sniffled, “You’re right, I do need to talk to someone, sometimes I feel myself getting so mad and so upset and I know I shouldn’t, that I’m overreacting to the situation, but I can’t help myself.”

He hugs her tight and rubs her back, “Sounds like PTSD to me.”

“I know. And I’ll talk to someone, but not to her. I’m just not a fan.”

He chuckles, “I can understand that. I’ll make some calls, we’ll find someone ‘Fleet approved who you’re comfortable with. ”

She nods and sighs, “So where does that leave us?”

“Well I’m not thrilled it too this to get us here, but since you know I like you, and I’m hoping you being dressed that way means you like me too, I’d say let stop pretending otherwise.”

Christine places a kiss on his neck and is pleased when he lets out an involuntary sigh of pleasure. “I’d say that sounds like a fabulous idea.”

“And if you’d like to wear this outfit again, say in private quarters, I’m not going to promise to be the southern gentleman I am.”

She chuckles, and squirms on his lap, rubbing against his obvious erection that she’d noticed when she first sat down on his desk.  “Well good, because we’ve taken forever to get this far, I’d hate to have to wait too much longer.”

Leonard pulled her into his lap and kissed her deep and slow and lingering.  She sighed as his tongue licked into her mouth, hot and wet, and everything she’d been imagining for ages.

“Mmm, keep kissing me like that and you can bet we won’t be waiting.”

She chuckled, “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”

“Trust me darlin’, I intend to keep them.”

Christine gives him another kiss this time, quick and dirty, before she slips off his lap.  She’s grabbed her lab coat and is buttoning it up again while he’s still trying to wrap his mind around what’s just happened.

“Come by my quarters for dinner, and if you’re good, you might get to see what’s under the garments I had hidden under my lab coat all day.”

McCoy groans, “It’s a date, now get out of here you vixen, my old heart can’t take much more.”

Christine laughs as she leaves his office, she checks her watch and decides she has time for a late lunch, and maybe she can still catch Janice and Nyota and tell them thank you.  She feels better than she has in a long time and she knows she owes her friends an apology and details of a plan well executed. And it was an excellent plan.  Besides, now that she’s seen McCoy struck dumb with lust she plans to make sure she sees as often as possible. She smiles and feels lighter than she has in ages.


Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
secretsolitaire
Jan. 4th, 2012 05:08 am (UTC)
Aw, sweet! I like that even in his lustful haze McCoy slowed things down and tried to figure out what Chapel was really feeling. Good man. :-)
sleepygoof8784
Jan. 5th, 2012 03:46 am (UTC)
Lol. Thank you. I'm glad it works. :)
fringedweller
Jan. 4th, 2012 06:16 am (UTC)
Thank you for my great fic!
sleepygoof8784
Jan. 5th, 2012 03:46 am (UTC)
Your welcome! I'm so glad you liked it! :D
esme_green
Jan. 6th, 2012 10:50 am (UTC)
Professional, intelligent, handsome, *and* stopping to put her well-being first when she turns up dressed in leather? McCoy, you are perfect!!!

Also I kinda can't concentrate staring at your Geeks Are Sexy icon... :)
sleepygoof8784
Jan. 6th, 2012 10:10 pm (UTC)
lol. I'm glad you like it. And yeah, I love that Geeks are Sexy icon...that man is too good looking :)
lullabymoon
Jan. 6th, 2012 11:40 am (UTC)
Hee, I loved this! ♥
sleepygoof8784
Jan. 6th, 2012 10:11 pm (UTC)
Yay! Thank you! I'm glad you liked it. :D
izzyfics
Jan. 7th, 2012 03:06 pm (UTC)
Still love it. ♥

Especially with the hurt/comfort aspects. Go McCoy!
sleepygoof8784
Jan. 7th, 2012 05:59 pm (UTC)
Aww thanks! I'm glad you liked it. And thanks for all your help. You're the best, bb!

hiddencait
Feb. 4th, 2012 05:57 pm (UTC)
*fans self* Oh boy Chapel in leather baby!!!! Great job with this. Love how McCoy was just totally clueless but had the best of intentions lol
sleepygoof8784
Feb. 5th, 2012 03:02 am (UTC)
:) Thanks hun! I'm glad it worked and that you enjoyed it. :)
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )