Rite of Passage

by Winter

Alternate Universe - Star Trek


Chris found out what happened when Buck went to talk to Vin. He rushed down to sickbay to find that Vin was sleeping. Nathan said he cold come back in the morning to see him. Early the next morning Chris was striding down the corridor towards sickbay. Josiah had first watch on the bridge and Chris was planned on spending his morning with Vin. As he rounded the corner he saw JD just ahead. He caught up with the ensign outside the doors to Nathan's domain.

"Mornin' captain," JD said.

"Ensign," Chris greeted him. "Nathan release you for duty yet?"

"No sir," JD answered. "He wants me to take it easy for a couple of days."

"That's fine," Chris said. "We miss you on the bridge."

"Really?" JD asked surprised.

"Yes," Chris smiled. "Buck has no one to tease and he's driving everyone crazy."

JD laughed as they walked into sickbay. Nathan looked up and saw the captain and JD laughing. It was good to see things were slowly getting back to normal.

"Vin's not awake yet," Nathan said as they walked over.

"That's alright," JD said. "I'll wait."

"Guess I will too," Chris said as he grabbed a chair and sat down. "So how is he Nate?"

"I just can't get him to shake the pneumonia," Nathan sighed. "Hopefully we can get him to eat something. That should get his strength back and help fight the infection."

They sat talking for half and hour when they heard Vin scream out JD's named. JD sprang out of his chair and rushed towards Vin. Chris grabbed his arm to restrain him.

"Slowly JD," Chris said and let him go.

They walked over to find Vin sitting up and hugging Lila. The big cat growled as they walked closer and Vin looked up. Vin stared at them and Chris slowly walked forward.

"Hey Vin," he said. "You alright?"

"Buck wasn't lying," Vin said not taking his eyes off JD.

"Nope he wasn't," JD said as he walked to the side of the bed.

None of them were prepared for Vin to move so fast, least of all JD. Vin grabbed his arm and pulled him into a fierce hug. JD was tense at first but relaxed when he realized Vin wasn't going to do anything and hugged him back. Vin let him go and slumped back against the pillows.

"I thought I'd killed you," Vin said in a shaky voice.

"Nah," JD said with a smile. "I'm hard to kill."

"Vin do you remember anything?" Nathan asked.

"I remember we were just about to crash on a plane," Vin said. "And some of what I did to JD."

Vin started coughing and Nathan started fussing over him. Vin started to protest and JD laughed. Lila lay across Vin's legs and got comfortable.

"I feel like shit," Vin sighed and they could hear how congested he was.

"I bet you do," Chris said. "That was a stupid thing you did leaving the shuttle."

"I couldn't stay there," Vin said hanging his head. "Not after what I did."

"Vin," Nathan said touching his arm. "Have you ever heard of Pon Farr?"

"No," Vin replied.

"Well Ezra did some research," Nathan began. "Remember before you left you were feeling tired and were a little aggressive?"


"Well it's something that happens to male Vulcan's when they mature," Nathan explained. "A sort of blood lust develops and if you don't find a mate you'll die. The other alternative is you have a fight to the death."

"What?" Vin asked confused. "I almost killed JD cause I wanted to have sex?"

"Something like that," Chris smiled. Leave it to Vin to get right to the point.

"This happens every time?" Vin asked.

"According to what Ezra found, yes," Nathan answered.

"Chris you'll have to send me away," Vin said desperately. "I don't want to fight someone every night."

"What are you talking about?" Chris asked confused.

"Buck has a different women every night," Vin sighed.

"No Vin this is different," Nathan said trying not to laugh. "This only happens every seven years."

"Oh," Vin said perplexed. "I don't get it."

"Doesn't matter," Chris assured him. "We'll explain it better when you're up and around."

"Alright," Vin said with a yawn.

"Hold on Vin," Nathan said. "Don't go to sleep yet. I want you to eat something."

"Ain't hungry," Vin said as he yawned again.

"You can have anything you want," Chris said.

"Anything?" Vin smiled.

"Yes," Chris said knowing he was probably going to regret it.

"Oatmeal cookies," Vin said. "Warm with lots of brown sugar and butter. Oh yeah and raisins."

"Vin you can't have cookies for breakfast," Nathan protested.

"But Chris said I could," Vin reasoned. "And he is the captain."

"He has you there Nathan," JD laughed.

"Look Nathan it's better than nothing," Chris pointed out.

"Alright," Nathan said reluctantly.

He walked over to the replicator and programmed it for warm oatmeal cookies. Within seconds a plate of cookies appeared in the machine. He carried them over to Vin and the Vulcan reached to take one. Vin's hand shook but they ignored it. Vin ate two before falling asleep with a third in his hand. Chris reached over and took the cookie from Vin's slack fingers.

"Darn I thought he'd stay awake longer," JD sighed.

"It's the best thing for him." Nathan said.

"I know," JD said. "Its just I have nothing to do."

"Alright, alright," Nathan said throwing up his hands. "I'm declaring you fit for limited duty."

"Yes!" JD exclaimed. "Can I go now?"

"Bridge to Captain Larabee," Ezra said over Chris combadge.

"Larabee here," Chris said tapping his badge.

"Admiral Travis on the line."

"Thank you Lieutenant Commander send it to sickbay."

"Aye sir," Ezra signed off and Nathan's communication board beeped.

"Captain Larabee here," Chris said.

"Ah Chris," the admiral said as he appeared on the small screen. "How is everything?"

"Better sir," Chris replied. "Ensign Dunne has been cleared for duty and Lieutenant Tanner's awake."

"Good I have a new assignment for you," Travis said. "I want you to head to Corbin 27. They have requested help with a pirate group that has been attacking their space freighters."

"I don't remember them being part of the Federation," Chris said.

"They aren't yet," Travis admitted. "The Federation has been trying for a few years to get them to join."

"I see," Chris smiled. "And if we help they might be swayed to consider joining."

"Exactly," Travis said. "I'm sending the Maverick since your crew is a combat vessel and I know they can keep their heads under fire."

"Thank you Admiral," Chris said.

"Don't thank me," he said. "You might not like this assignment. I'll send all the details to Lieutenant Commander Standish."

They signed off and Chris sighed. Just what they needed. He didn't like going into a situation like this with out his full first line officers. The young ensign replacing Vin was fine on a milk run but not for something like this.

"Come on JD, let's head for the bridge," Chris said.

"Aye sire," JD said enthusiastically.

"You take it easy," Nathan admonished.

"Jeez, Nathan, all I do is sit in a chair and push some buttons," JD argued.

"Is that all huh?" Chris said raising his eyebrows.

"You know what I mean," JD shot back. "Uh sir."

"Let's go," Chris said with a chuckle and headed for the door.

JD followed eagerly behind. They arrived on the bridge and JD relieved Ensign Corin at Ops. Ensign Michaels looked over at JD and smiled. JD acknowledged him with nod. Ensign Michaels was glad to see JD up and around. He wanted to prove himself to the captain and he knew JD would help him.

"Ensign Dunne plot a course to Corbin 27," Chris instructed.

"Corbin 27, aye sir," JD said as he ran his finger over the console. "Course plotted sir. We should reach the planet in seventy-two hours at warp seven."

"Ensign Michaels warp seven," Chris said turning to the navigator.

"Aye sir," he replied.

"Lieutenant Sanchez, Commander Wilmington in my ready room," Chris said as he saw the walk on the bridge. "Lieutenant Commander you have the con."

"Aye sir," Ezra said leaving his station and coming over to sit in Chris's seat as Josiah and Buck followed Chris off the bridge.

"I'm really looking forward to working with you," Michaels said leaning towards JD.

"Yeah sure," JD replied not taking his eyes from his console.

"Wonder why we're going to Corbin 27?" he asked. "They aren't part of the Federation."

"I couldn't say," JD lied.

"Jeez would you look at this," Michaels said reading from his computer. "They don't even have transporter technology. They're practically a backwater."

"Gentlemen are we on the bridge or is this social hour?" Ezra asked. "May I suggest you concentrate on your jobs."

"Aye sir," JD said promptly. He knew Ezra wasn't mad at him.

"Yes sir," Ensign Michaels said grudgingly. He really hated the smug security chief.

JD glanced to the side at Ensign Michaels. The ensign smiled at him but JD wasn't sure about him. He certainly wasn't Vin. Vin didn't talk much when he was on duty but every once in awhile he'd wink at JD. JD sighed and hoped Vin got better quickly. He just wasn't comfortable working with Ensign Michaels.


Vin's health improved dramatically over the next two days. At first he would wake every few hours from nightmares but someone was always round to reassure him. Since JD was on light duty he spent most of his free time with Vin. Nathan watched them together and he noticed Vin would reach out to touch JD. It was as if Vin was checking to make sure he was really there. JD never seemed to notice or was ignoring it and gradually Vin stopped. Vin spent most of his time sleeping and when he wasn't doing that Nathan was making him eat. Finally Vin was recovered enough that Nathan knew he wouldn't be able to keep him in sickbay. Nathan decided he might as well let him go. Vin couldn't go anywhere on the ship and Nathan figured he'd be fairly safe. He walked over to Vin carrying his uniform.

"Mornin' Vin," Nathan said.

"Howdy Nathan," Vin said with a smile. "Is that for me?"

"Yup I'm letting you go," Nathan answered. "Under one condition."

"Anything," Vin said swinging his legs off the bed.

"You have to take it easy for another day," Nathan said.

"Alright," Vin agreed enthusiastically.

Nathan handed him the uniform and Vin disappeared into the bathroom. He came out twenty minutes later with his hair wet and dressed in the clean uniform. Nathan shook his head and sent him back in to dry his hair. When Vin came out the second time Nathan asked where he was headed. Vin replied that he wanted real food and was going to the Saloon. Nathan watched as he left noticing Vin was still limping slightly. Nathan was able to save Vin's foot from the frostbite but it was still a little sore. After Vin left Nathan went back to his office to do some work.


Vin was glad to be out of sickbay. Nathan was nice and all but he felt trapped. It was good be out walking around. His foot still hurt but it wasn't that bad. Some crewmembers passed Vin and gave him odd looks. Other looked at him suspiciously. Vin didn't notice as he made his way to the Saloon. He walked in the sliding doors and everyone looked up. It was late in the afternoon so it was crowded. Vin saw his favorite table in the corner was empty and waked over and sat down. The Vulcan didn't notice the conversation level dropped when he walked in. Vin sat down and smiled at Inez when she came over.

"Good to see you Vin," Inez said. "What can I get you?"

"Double hot fudge sundae," he said.

"I don't think Nathan would approve," Inez scolded. "You've been sick. Why don't I get you a nice bowl of soup."

"No, no more soup," Vi sighed. "I feel like I'm going to float away."

"Alright," Inez laughed. "Double hot fudge sundae with the works."

Vin sat back and waited for his order. He glanced around the room and noticed a few people he knew. When he caught the eye of a female ensign he knew he waved a greeting. Vin frowned when she quickly looked away. Vin thought the behavior odd but then again humans did a lot of odd things. Inez arrived with the sundae and placed it in front of him. He thanked her and she went back behind the bar. She'd over heard a couple of the conversations and everyone was talking about the Vulcan. Inez knew what happened and she knew Vin would never hurt anyone on purpose. The Vulcan spent a lot of time in the saloon and Inez was glad Vin considered her a friend. She picked up a towel and began to wipe down the bar keeping an eye on Vin.

Vin ate a spoonful of the sundae and sighed in pleasure. He hadn't eaten one of these in awhile. Vin tried not to listen in on any of the conversations going on around him but it was hard. His superior hearing made it easy for him to hear a conversation across the room. He caught his name being said and he was curious.

"I can't believe the captain is just letting him walk around the ship."

"Yeah I know. He should be drummed out of Starfleet for what he did."

"Yeah but then you'd have to get rid of all Vulcans. The males can't help what happens to them at mating season."

We're just lucky it only happens every seven years. I sure don't want to be around him when it happens again."

"I know what you mean. JD was lucky."

"Now what a minute. You're all new to the Maverick. I know Vin he wouldn't hurt anyone."

"I think he's an abomination and should be locked up."

Vin heard enough and quickly stopped listening. The sundae had been delicious but now it was giving him a queasy feeling. Vin stood up and walked out the door. He heard one last comment before he left.

"He doesn't deserve to live with decent people."

Inez watched as Vin made his was quickly to the door. She knew Vin must have heard some of the conversation and guessed that's why he left so quickly. Inez could hit some of the insensitive louts that came here. She chewed her lower lip as she decided what to do. Vin didn't like to be fussed over so she decided to let him be. She would check on him later.


JD hated that Nathan wouldn't let him go back to full duty. He never knew what to do with his free time. JD decided to head for the Saloon. At least the he could sit and watch everyone. When he entered he saw that it was busy and made his way to the bar. Everyone greeted him and seemed overly friendly. JD noticed since he'd been hurt everyone was being nice him, even people he didn't really know. Inez came over as he sat down.

"Hello JD," She said. "What can I get you?"

"A root beer," JD said. "And some French fries."

"You got it," she smiled and walked away.

JD liked Inez. He liked the way she teased Buck. She wasn't part of Starfleet, which confused anyone new who came aboard. Buck fought a duel for her to keep her away for a cruel man who wanted to hurt her. Chris wasn't too happy about the whole mess but knew he couldn't leave Inez on the planet when they left. Inez didn't want to be a burden and offered to cook for the ship not realizing they had replicators. Ezra came up with the idea of the bar so everyone could have a place to relax and unwind. Chris liked the idea and the bar was created from and empty cargo area. Inez returned with his order and placed it on the bar.

"Thanks," JD said and began to eat.

"JD have you seen Vin?" Inez asked.

"Isn't he still in sickbay?" JD asked confused.

"I think Nathan released him," Inez said. "He was here earlier. He over heard some people talking about him. I was going to check on him but it got busy and I couldn't leave."

"Computer give me the location of Lieutenant Tanner," JD said.

"Lieutenant Tanner is in his quarters."

"Don't worry I'll go check on him," JD said.

JD left and quickly made his way to Vin's cabin. When he came around the corner he noticed Lila scratching at the door. The collar she wore gave off a signal to door she was allowed to enter and Vin's should have opened for her. That is if Vin hadn't locked it. JD jogged the rest of the way and stopped behind Lila.

"Hey girl Vin have the door locked?" he asked as he petted her head.

JD hit the call button but got no answer. He tried again and nothing. He tried the old fashioned way and banged on the door.

"Vin I know you're in there," JD called.

When he still didn't receive a reply JD got worried. Maybe Vin had a relapse and was unconscious. He didn't have the authority to override the door. He also didn't want to call anyone incase there wasn't anything wrong. JD finally took a small tool case from his pocket and opened the control panel next to the door. In a few minutes JD had the door opened. JD walked in and was hit by warm air as he entered. The ensign stepped further inside and felt Lila brush pasted him. The cabin was dark and JD called for lights. The computer wouldn't obey his commands and JD stumbled over to where he knew the couch was. As he got closer he saw a faint light. He found Vin curled on the couch staring at a small holoprojector. JF moved closer and saw an older couple standing next to a horse. Sitting on the horse was a small child. He looked closer and saw pointed ears on the smiling child and realized it was Vin. JD never saw Vin's parents before and he could see they were a happy family. JD carefully sat next to the hologram.

"Hey Vin," JD said. Vin didn't say anything and JD sighed. "I don't know what they were saying in the Saloon, Vin, but you know your friends don't feel that way."

"Why?" Vin asked quietly.

"I don't understand." JD said.

"Why don't you hate me?" Vin asked not looking at JD. "I'm a monster."

"No you're not," JD said leaning forward and pushing Vin's hair away from his ears. "These make you unique."

"I wish I wasn't," Vin said sitting up and covering his ears with his hair. "I don't understand what's going on."

"What with the Pon Farr?" JD asked.

"Yeah that," Vin said. "But also I'm just confused."

"Hell can't say as I blame you," JD laughed. "Being attracted to females sure confuses me."

"Really," Vin said looking at JD.

"Yeah sure," JD said. "I never understand Casey. One minute she's happy to see me and the next she's ready to take my head off."

"Buck doesn't seem to have any problem understanding them," Vin said.

"Yeah well Buck is Buck," JD laughed.

"Nobody trusts me any more," Vin sighed.

"That's not true."

"Everyone thinks I should be punished for what I did to you."

"Admiral Travis doesn't," JD said. "You read his report didn't you?"

"Yeah," Vin admitted.

"Then it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks does it?"

"I guess not," Vin sighed and smiled at JD. "Thanks."

"Hey what are friends for," JD laughed. "So what do you want to do?"

"Want to go to the holodeck?" Vin asked.

"Yeah sure," JD said standing up. "What are we going to do?"

"I want to go riding," Vin said shutting off the holoprojector.

"Cool," JD exclaimed. "So does that mean ancient Earth western era?"

Yeah," Vin said and followed JD to the door.


Ezra was looking forward to tonight. It was their usual night to play cards and Ezra planned on winning against his fellow officers. Nathan released Vin from sickbay earlier and Ezra knew he would make the evening challenging. The lieutenant Commander made his way to the Saloon to wait for them. When he entered he found Josiah already seated at the table.

"Good evening Counselor," Ezra said as he sat down. "I'm surprised to find you hear so early."

"Early bird catches the worm as the ancient saying goes," Josiah said jovially. "Tonight should be entertaining."

"I sure hope so," Buck said as he walked over. "Lieutenant Phillips said no to my invitation for later."

"Phillips, the pretty brunette from engineering?" Josiah asked.

"That's her," Buck said with a smile. "I'll win her over."

"Care to place a wager?" Ezra asked. "I believe the Lieutenant is immune to your charms."

"Alright, ferengi, you got a bet," Buck said. "You name it."

"Indeed," Ezra smiled. "I will give you one week to convince the Lieutenant to go to dinner. If you lose you will reward me with a blue singing crystal from Yavin."

"Damn Ezra that's steep," Buck said.

"I certainly understand if you aren't up to the challenge," Ezra said.

"No you got yourself a bet," Buck said.

"And what do you desire for payment should you win?" Ezra asked.

"The same," Buck said. "Always did like the sound those crystals made."

"Deal," Ezra said holding out his hand.

"You're gonna be sorry," Buck said shaking his hand.

"Who's going to be sorry?" Chris asked as he walked over with Nathan.

"Ezra bet I couldn't get a date with Lieutenant Phillips," Buck said.

"I see," Chris said as he rolled his eyes.

"Has anyone seen Vin?" Nathan asked.

"Nope," Buck said. "Come to think of it I haven't seen JD either."

"Ensign Dunne was on bridge duty this morning with me," Ezra said. "But I haven't seen him since."

"Computer locate Lieutenant Tanner and Ensign Dunne," Chris said.

The computer informed them they were in Vin's quarters. They all decided to head down to Vin's room to see what they were up too. When they got to Vin's quarters the doors slide open and the five officers moved inside. They found JD sprawled in the chair wearing an old fashioned suit. Strapped to his hips were two colt lighting. Covering his eyes was a bowler hat. His booted feet were up on the coffee table and he was snoring softly. Vin was face down on the couch dressed in tan pants and a fringed leather jacket. Around his waist was a gunbelt. The weapon was on the table by JD's feet.

"Well now we know where they've been," Josiah said quietly.

"Yup," Buck laughed. "JD's always pestering me to go to the holodeck to play gunslinger."

"Let's leave them alone," Nathan said as he headed for the door.

They all left the two youngest sleeping and headed back tot he Saloon. They spread out around the table and Ezra pulled out a deck of cards.

"This game is five card stud," Ezra announced. "Jocker's wild."

"No cheating," Buck said.

"You wound me," Ezra said as he dealt the cards.

They all laughed and spent relaxing evening playing cards.


Vin woke the next morning still on the couch. He glanced over to the chair and saw that JD was gone. Vin rolled over and smiled. They had a great time yesterday in the holodeck. The Vulcan was grateful for JD's little talk. He realized the ensign was right. It didn't matter what anyone else thought as long as his friends trusted him, Vin frowned when he thought he only one that might not trust him was the commander. He knew he'd let Buck down when he hurt JD and he was determined to win back his trust. He got up and headed for the shower. Vin really had nothing to do since Nathan hand't cleared him for duty yet but he hadn't said he couldn't go to the bridge. Twenty minutes later Vin strolled off the turbolift and onto the bridge. Ezra saw him and nodded. JD was at Ops and another ensign was at navigation. Vin didn't know who he was but he could tell JD wasn't comfortable with him. Chris was supposed to be on duty but wasn't on the bridge. Vin figured he must be in his ready room. Buck had the con and he smiled at Vin when he walked on the bridge.

"Incoming message for the captain," Ezra announced from his station.

"I'll take it on screen," Chris said as he walked on the bridge. He raised his eyebrows at Vin but didn't say anything.

"Admiral Travis on screen," Ezra said.

"Morning Chris."


"Just called to let you know the problem on Corbin 27 has been resolved. You can return to your patrol of Sector 7."

"Aye sir," Chris said. The screen went blank and he turned to JD. "ensign plot a course back to Sector 7."

"Already plotted sir, and laid in," JD said.

"Ensign Michaels," Chris commanded. "Impulse power. We'll use the time back as training session."

"Aye sir," Michaels said as he swung the ship around. Suddenly an alarm sounded.

"Klingon bird of Prey decloaking," Ezra said. "We're on a collision course!"

"Ensign evasive maneuvers!" Chris shouted.

Michaels was frozen in place as the Klingon bid of Prey filled the view screen. The computer announced collision in five minutes. Suddenly Michaels felt himself pushed out of the chair. When he hit the floor he looked up to see the Vulcan sitting at the console.

Vin just couldn't stand there and do nothing. Chris was shouting orders but the ensign just sat there. Vin moved quickly to the console and shoved the ensign out of the seat. Vin's fingers flew over the board and the Maverick changed course just in time. They passed close enough that they could hear the wing of the Bird of Prey brush against the hull of the Maverick. Once the Maverick was out of danger Vin brought the ship around to face the Klingons.

"Klingon vessel hailing us," Ezra said.

"On screen," Chris orders.

"This is captain Kragor of the Bird of Prey Scorpius," said a very intimidating Klingon. "We regret the mishap. This is a training vessel and the pilot miscalculated. He has been punished for his error."

"It's a calculated risk when you fly with a green crew," Chris said.

"I wish to know the name of your pilot," Kragor said. "So I can tell the crew who is responsible for saving them."

"Lieutenant Tanner," Chris said.

"Ah the Vulcan," Kragor said. "I should have known. I wish to speak to him."

Chris motioned for Vin to stand and the Klingon captain looked at him as Vin obeyed Chris's commanded.

"This isn't a Vulcan," Kragor protested. "This is a human and a rather scrawny one at that."

"No sir I'm a Vulcan," Vin said as he pushed the hair behind his ears.

"So you are!" Kragor bellowed. "Your flying skills are to be commended and if you ever wish to leave the frail humans you have a place on this ship."

"Thank you sir," Vin said. "I'll keep it in mind."

"Qapla!" Kragor shouted and banged his right hand against his breast as the screen went black.

"That was some flying Vin," Buck said as the Scorpius pulled away and disappeared.

"What the heck were they doing so close?" JD asked.

"It is a training exercise," Ezra explained. "They see how close the crew can get without being detected."

"They should be brought up on charges," Michaels yelled.

"Speaking of being brought up on charges," Chris said looking down at him where he sat on the floor. "You disobeyed a direct order and endangered the crew and ship."

"It wasn't me," Michaels lied. "The controls locked."

"The console is functioning normally," Vin said.

"How dare you contradict me Vulcan!" Michaels shouted as he jumped up.

"Ensign Michaels!" Chris snapped, emphasizing 'ensign'. "You're relieved of duty. Now get off my bridge."

"Aye sir," Michaels said reluctantly as he walked to the turbo lift.

He looked back and saw JD talking excitedly with the Vulcan. The commander and the captain were also pleased that Vin was there. Michaels hated the Vulcan for making him look bad. If it weren't for Vin he'd be the navigator on the Maverick. Michaels looked over and saw the security chief staring at him. Ezra raised and eyebrow ad gestured tot he turbolift. Michaels scowled as he got on the lift. They hadn't heard the last of him.


Vin spent the day on the bridge. Nathan wasn't happy when he found out but Chris reasoned that Vin would get in less trouble sitting on the bridge. Nathan relented and said Vin and JD could return to full duty. Plans were made to play cards again since the youngest missed the game the night before. Vin was the first to make it down to the Saloon and he grabbed their usual table. Other crewmembers at the bar still gave him odd looks and Vin ignored them.

"Hello senor," Inez said as she came over. "Playing cards again tonight?"

"Yup," Vin said with a smile.

"Do you want me to bring the usual snacks?" she asked.

"Yeah but I'm hungry can you also bring me a hamburger," Vin said.

"You realize only you, JD and Buck eat that horrible thing," Inez shuddered.

"They're good," Vin protested.

"And which culinary delight is Vin calling good?" Ezra asked as he walked over.

"Hamburger," Inez answered.

"That, sir, is and abomination," Ezra shuddered.

"What is?" JD asked as he walked over with Buck.

"Lieutenant Tanner has ordered a hamburger," Ezra said.

"Great I'll have one too," JD said. "With fries and a root beer."

"Make that three darlin' but make mine a real beer," Buck said with a smile.

"It's your body," Inez said with a shrug.

"Beautiful ain't it," Buck said as he turned in place.

"It's perfect, if you were six months pregnant," Inez said patting his stomach as she walked away.

JD laughed hysterically and started teasing Buck. Ezra rolled his eyes as he pulled out a deck of cards and began to shuffle them. Vin just smiled and watched their antics. Josiah was the next to arrive and JD told him what Inez said. The counselor got a good laugh and complimented Inez on her observation when she delivered the food. Chris and Nathan came together and joined the table. Nathan took one look at what they were eating and shook his head. Ezra asked if they were ready to lose to him and Chris told him to deal the cards. The lieutenant commander informed them not to get any food on the cards as he dealt the cards.

Ensign Michaels watched from across the bar. He resented the fact that they accepted the Vulcan amongst them. That monster almost killed JD but they treated him like a friend. Michaels didn't think that was right. They Vulcan should be punished for his crime. Then with the Vulcan out of the way he would become the Maverick's new navigator. Michaels sat drinking and staring at Vin. The ensign smiled as a plan came together to get rid of the Vulcan.


Vin was glad Nathan released him for full duty. He wanted to try to get things back to normal. The Vulcan knew he would have to gain the trust of the crew again. Vin was walking back from the old stellar cartography dome. When he was troubled he went out to the dome to look at the stars. He lost track of time and knew Nathan was waiting for him. Vin wasn't paying attention to his surrounding and wasn't prepared when someone jumped out and hit him with a hypospray. Vin turned and grabbed his attacker but darkness enveloped him before he could see who it was.

JD made his way to sickbay looking for Vin. He knew Nathan scheduled Vin for a check up this morning and decided he'd meet him down there. JD walked trough the doors and looked around.

"Hey Nathan," JD called. "Where's Vin?"

"Good question," Nathan said annoyed. "He was supposed to be here ten minutes ago."

"I'll go look for him,' JD offered. "Computer give me the location of Lieutenant Tanner."

"Lieutenant Tanner is outside airlock 7."

"What the heck is he doing down there?" JD asked.

"I am unable to answer," the female voice said. "Please restate the parameters."

"I don't know," Nathan said ignoring the computer. "But let's go find out."

They left sickbay and headed for the turbolift. Once inside they request level three and the lift went down. JD exited the turbolift and moved quickly down the corridor followed closely by Nathan. When they came around the corner by the airlock they saw Ensign Michaels messing with the controls.

"Hey!" JD shouted and started to run.

Michaels looked up and saw JD approaching. He wouldn't be stopped now and quickly made the last adjustment as JD pulled him away.

"You're too late," Michaels said in triumph.

"Warning atmosphere leak in airlock seven," the computer said. "Airlock seven is depressurizing. Warning."

"What did you do?" JD asked as Michaels began to laugh.

"Emergency shut down of airlock seven!" Nathan shouted.

JD turned towards Nathan and saw the doctor looking through the window of the airlock. Suddenly JD's mind put the pieces together. Vin must be inside the airlock.

"You son of a bitch!" JD cried and punched Michaels.

JD was satisfied to hear bone crunch in Michaels nose. JD was so mad he kept hitting Michaels until someone grabbed his shoulders. JD swung around ready to take on whoever stopped him.

"Hold on there tiger!" Buck said as he held up his hands.

"Vin!" JD yelled just as Nathan was stepping into the airlock. JD tried to dash inside and was stopped by Josiah.

The other five officers came when Ezra informed them of the emergency shut down of the airlock. This was a security breach and they wanted to see what was going on. They weren't prepared for what they found.

"It's bad, but he's alive," Nathan said as he hit his combadge. "Transport emergency beam out to sickbay."

Chris had entered the airlock with Nathan and saw blood seeping from Vin's ears and nose. When Nathan called for an emergency beam out he knew it was bad. He stepped back as a familiar shimmer surrounded them and they disappeared. When they were gone from the airlock Chris turned and walked towards Michaels. JD had done a number on him. The Ensigns nose was obviously broken since it was twisted in an odd fashion. Blood flowed freely from his nose and from a cut on his lip. Chris pushed his unconscious form with his foot.

"What happened?" Chris asked in a deadly quiet voice.

"I don't really know," JD admitted. "Me and Nathan came looking for Vin. We found Michaels messing with the controls. When I grabbed him he said I was too late. Didn't know what he meant until I head Nathan yell. Then the pieces fell together and I knew Vin must be in the airlock."

"Is that all?" Chris asked.

"I'm afraid not Captain," JD said. "I was so mad I started punching him. I take full responsibility for my actions and I'm willing to take any punishment."

"There won't be any," Chris said looking down at Michaels. He's just lucky it was you. Lieutenant Commander Standish."

"Yes captain."

"Put this piece of garbage in the brig," Chris growled.

"Aye sir," Ezra said and signaled the two security personnel with him to take the ensign.

"I think we better head to sickbay," Josiah suggested.

JD ran down the corridor to call the turbolift. The others followed and boarded the lift. When they got to sickbay they found the main area closed off and a nurse waiting for them.

"Nathan took him in for emergency surgery, "Nurse Chapel said.

"He's pretty bad," she admitted. "Major internal bleeding. He stopped breathing. All we can do is wait and hoe for the best."

"Shit!" Chris cursed after the nurse left.

"Counselor might I suggest a prayer to the many gods you are familiar with," Ezra said.

"Already working on it," Josiah said solemnly.

"Why?" JD asked out of the blue.

"Why what kid?" Buck said.

"Why'd he try to kill Vin?"

"I don't know," Buck admitted.

"I aim to find out," Chris vowed. "Then I'll have him court martialed."

"That might be easier said than done," Ezra said.

"What do you mean?" Josiah asked.

"Do you know who his father is?" Ezra asked and they shook their heads. "Admiral ???"

"Rear Admiral Michaels?" Josiah asked. "The one on the staff for the president of the Federation?"

"The same," Ezra answered.

"I don't give a shit who his father is," Chris said angrily. "He tried to kill one of my officers and he'll be punished."

They didn't argue with Chris when he was like this. Buck looked at Josiah as Chris began to pace. The counselor shook his head. He knew Buck wanted to talk to Chris to calm him down, but now wasn't the time. As first officer Buck's duty was to take command of the ship if he felt the captain wasn't fit for duty. Ezra looked over at Buck and knew what he was thinking. He didn't want Buck and Chris to get into a fight here in sickbay.

"Captain," Ezra said.

"What is it Ezra?" Chris asked turning to him.

"I just wanted to inform you that Lieutenant Chanu had the bridge," Ezra said. "Shall I inform him he has the bridge until further notice."

"Yes," Chris said gratefully. "We're in friendly territory so there shouldn't be any problems. Have him report any trouble here."

"Aye sir," Ezra said and hit his combadge to talk to Lieutenant Chanu.

"It will be a good learning experience for him," Josiah said.

"Yeah," Buck said relieved. "He's a good officer."

With the command of the Maverick settled they all took seats to wait the out come of the surgery. All of them except Chris who continued to pace.


Four hours later still found them in sickbay. JD had fallen asleep in one of the chairs and was snoring softly. He was still recovering from his injuries and Buck was glad he was sleeping. Ezra was in the corner playing cards. Josiah was sitting on the floor meditating or praying he wasn't sure which. Chris had returned a short while ago after talking with Michaels. When the ensign came to he demanded to speak to the captain. Chris couldn't refuse him. He wanted to hear what he had to say and went to the brig. When he came back Buck was sure he was madder than when he left. When he finally calmed down enough to tell they what Michaels said they understood why Chris was so angry. Apparently Michaels felt Vin should be punished for what he did to JD. Michaels also had the delusion that he should be the navigator of the Maverick and he would get the position any way that he could. Even if it meant killing Vin. He reasoned that if the Klingons could kill a rival for a higher position why couldn't he. Buck kept an eye on Chris as he sat calmly in the chair. The commander knew Chris for a long time and knew he was anything but calm.

"What the hell is taking so long!" Chris yelled as he bolted out of the chair.

"Easy Chris," Buck said as he saw JD startled awake and looking around.

"This is going to take some time," Josiah said soothingly.

"Don't you think I know that!" Chris said.

"Lieutenant Tanner is in good hands," Ezra reasoned a he placed a jack of hearts on the queen of spades. "Lieutenant Jackson will do everything in his power to repair the damage."

"I know," Chris said as he sat back down.

"Vin will be OK," JD said but didn't sound so sure.

"Sure he will kid," Buck smiled. "The elf's tougher than he looks."

They were all agreeing with Buck when Nathan walked out the door. The Chief medical officer's face was grim as he walked towards them.

"He's alive," Nathan announced. "It was touch and go there for awhile but with rest he should be alright."

"You're not telling us everything," Chris said.

"I did everything I could," Nathan said. "His lungs were severely damaged. He's breathing on his own but I have him in a life support capsule to make it easier for him to breathe. I won't know if I fixed the damage to his eyes until he wakes."

"Are you trying to tell us Vin might be blind?" Buck asked shocked.

"It's possible," Nathan admitted. "When Vin was exposed to the vacuum of space he was basically being crushed to death. Luckily he's a Vulcan. If it had been you or me we'd be dead. Well just have to wait and see."

"Can we see he?" Chris asked.

Nathan nodded and led them inside. They could all see the Vulcan's slight form encased in the life support chamber. Chris moved closer and watched as Vin's chest slowly rose and fell. Vin's skin was a pale and they could see the green veins in his neck and arms. Chris gripped Vin's hand and it was cold.

"Damn it Nathan he's freezing," Chris said.

"I know," Nathan replied. "I've had to warm him slowly so he wouldn't go into shock."

Nathan let them stay for a few minutes. He said the best thing for Vin was quiet and rest. They could come back and see him later. Chris knew he had to get back to the bridge but he was reluctant to leave. Nathan assured him if there was any changes he would notify him immediately. Chris reluctantly agreed to leave and followed the others out. Sometimes he hated being the captain.


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