Doctor Leonard "Bones" McCoy stared at the Rigelian's gift in sheer disbelief and shocked surprise. It was several moments before he could speak.
Finally he exclaimed, "I hope Spock doesn't find out about this! He'll never let me live it down!"
"Pavel Chekov grinned and nodded. "I can hearr heem now in my head. 'Perrfect for you, Doctor McCoy.
' He'll be as calm as everr on the outside but an eyebrow will go up and therre will be a twinkle in his eyes."
McCoy groaned, "No. Mr. Chekov; a smug gloat!"
Pavel grinned and nodded.
They heard the door wisp and turned around to see Captain James T Kirk entering sickbay and trying futily to keep a straight face.
McCoy was holding his present in front of him. It resembled an ancient African Witch Doctor's mask.
The Captain laughed, "Don't let Mr. Spock see you with that. He'll never let you live it..."
"We know!" Said Doctor McCoy and Chekov together.
Kirk said, It’s a nice gift, Bones, or at least well intentioned and gratefully given. The Rigelians are just so grateful you found a cure for the green spot plague.
" The one who handed this to Lt. Fletcher to give to you told him, 'We are grateful each one of us from our tail brain to our head brain and all of our hearts beat as one for him.'"
McCoy nodded, "They can do it do it too, Jim. Rigelians actually have a second language mostly emotional. Their hearts can thump out a code other Rigelians can hear and understand.
All three of their hearts beating in tandom indicates deep gratitide. I feel deeply honored but really nervous because when Spock finds out...."
Captain Kirk grinned. Actually Bones I have both bad news and great news."
"Oh?" Said, Dr. McCoy, rolling his eyes upwards.
Chekov just stared.
Kirk grinned, "The bad news s you have to wear your gift at the Rigellian Royal Regalia where you will be presented with the rest of the traditional ancient Rigelian medical uniform..
And remember, to them it is a uniform, not a Witch Doctor's costume."
McCoy stared at his Captain, you have got to be kidding!"
Kirk shook his head, "Sorry, Bones, but Rigelian custom dictates anytime a gift is given that gift must be used in public to demonstrate the recipient's gratitude for it.
We aren't going to be orbiting Rigel much longer so this is your only chance not to offend the Rigelians."
McCoy crossed his arms and rolled his eyes upwards again, "Heaven help me, Jim! Must I reiterate repeatedly 'when Spock, "finds out...."
Kirk pointed out, "Well Bones, here is the good news, As Mr. Spock himself has pointed out, "We are the Body of Christ and individually members of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27.
So anytime we help one another Heaven is sort of helping us. Because don't worry about Mr. Spock. We aren't all required to go to this, just enough of us. So I already have this covered.
When you go to the Regalia our mischievous Vulcan will be busy giving a tour to the Vulcan delegation to Rigel. That ought to make him happy: getting to hobnob with the other side of his nature.
So he'll never know about your present because I've already sworn the crew to secrecy."
McCoy stared at Captain Kirk with real respect and awe. "Jim! You would do that for me?"
Captain Kirk smiled, "of course, Bones. And in just the same way you have been kept from learning a few amazing goofs our meticulous Mr. Spock still managed to make.
And don't you dare ask what those were!"
McCoy nodded, "I actually won't, Jim. You are protecting my dignity here. So for once I won't try to take it away from Mr. Spock!"
McCoy had every intention of leaving the ship before Spock left the bridge to escort the Vulcan delegation but the best laid plans of Mice and Doctors go astray.
It would be that their Roonoid crew member's baby decided to leave his Mommy's pouch for the first time at exactly the moment Doctor McCoy should have headed to the Regalia.
It wasn't a birth. Little Joe Joe (as the crew had nick-named him) had passed through his Mommy' birth canal about three Earth months earlier in too small a size to cause his Mommy any pain.
And then he spent the next three Earth months growing bigger and stronger, sucking milk inside his Mommy's pouch.
Only after those three months or so would a Baby Roonoid un-tit and stick his or her head out of his or her Mommy's pouch for the very first time and since Mommy's pouch was very wide
it caused no pain, only great joy.
But it was Doctor's McCoy's first chance to see Little Joe Joe with own eyes and not medical scanners; too wonderful a thing to miss.
In fact it was being recorded and broadcast over the entire ship. So quite a few of the Enterprise crew were late for the Rigelian Royal Regalia.
Fortunately tending to a new Mother and child was one of the few exceptions to their rigid demand that Folks be right on time for events.
But Mr. Spock and the Vulcan delegation knew nothing of it. They were in a hallway at that time.
Finally after a quick and painless medical exam Doctor McCoy pronounced Little Joe Joe a healthy, happy, bouncing (literally bouncing) baby Roonoid.
To entertain the new, little Tyke McCoy put on his mask and thinking Mr. Spock was safely busy with the Vulcan delegation he stepped into the hallway with jaunty confidence.
Feeling relaxed and joyful after the miracle he had just witnessed McCoy got a little playful.
"Booga, Booga, Booga!" He chanted and danced around Little Joe Joe and his Mother who had both hopped into the hallway after him.
Mommy beamed for her new Baby was practically shrieking in glee and jumping up and down.
What a welcome into the Universe!
" She thought, not for the first time she felt very grateful to the Grand Creator of all she had listened to her courage and not her fears and chose to serve aboard a mostly Human starship.
The mask obstructed much of McCoy's vision so he did not see Mr. Spock and the Vulcan delegation coming up the hallway.
The Vulcan delegation actually came (for Vulcans) to a screeching halt!
Two dozen eyebrows lifted simultaneously.
Mr. Spock did not miss a beat. "And here we have our ship's Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Leonard McCoy demonstrating one of his most sophisticated medical devices; a fascinating device indeed.
"He stated meanfully at the embarrassed Doctor. "I plan to have several lengthy discussions with him as to its function and his obvious skill at using it.
He is a Master of the Art of Medicine and it is situations like this that demonstrate this."
McCoy wished he could sink into the floor! He didn't dare take the mask off.
He knew his face was turning red and that would have embarrassed him even more to make such an involuntary emotional response in front of Spock's stoic species!
Mr. Spock's face was as emotionless as ever but somehow McCoy could tell the confounded Vulcan was gloating!
Spock asked, "Doctor McCoy would you care to tell the Vulcan delegation exactly how this sophisticated piece of medical equipment works and its success rate?"
For once McCoy managed to get the last word! "Oh no Mr. Spock. Some medical equipment works better if the Patients don't know how well a piece of equipment works.
For this piece this is definitely true."
Mr. Spock gave his Friend and devoted, verbal sparring partner a quick, microscopic grin. "Quite true, Doctor McCoy, and well played!"