DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Mary Millard and Merel Inglis and is copyright (c) 1986 by Mary Millard and Merel Inglis. Originally published in Kobayashi Maru. Rated PG.

Three, Blind Drunk

Mary Millard and Merel Inglis

Captain James T. Kirk donned his fresh dress uniform and met Dr. McCoy in the transporter room.

"Guess what?" McCoy beamed. "I got a birthday surprise for you!" He glanced at the chronometer on the transporter console and bounced on his heels. "Should be arriving any time now."

What was it? Kirk wondered. An attractive young lady aboard who had expressed interest in spending the evening with him? A big present? A hand-delivered present? The transporter room doors opened to admit ...

"Mr. Spock!" Kirk exclaimed with great pleasure. "You're actually coming down to dinner with us?"

The first officer nodded solemnly and extended a hand. There was a little present sitting in his palm. "Happy birthday," he told his captain.

"Thank you very much, Mr. Spock," Kirk said, accepting the gift.

McCoy said, "Why don't you open that at dinner, Jim?"

Kirk agreed. He knew Spock's Vulcan curiosity would not allow him to beg off dinner. He would want to see Kirk's reaction to his present, wouldn't he?

* * *

Dinner was delicious, even in Spock's opinion. For the first time since he had most recently visited home, he was able to taste fresh Vulcan food. The elegant surroundings of the restaurant held a certain appeal as well. They sat, overlooking the ocean, and Jim waxed philosophical over their after-dinner brandy.

"That's where it all started, gentlemen," he said to his companions. "The ocean. That's where Humans began their drive to explore, to eventually seek the stars."

"With all due respect, Captain," Spock said gently, "Humans began their drive to the stars on Earth, not Cyprus."

McCoy glared at him. "Spock, you're so literal sometimes. Don't you ever let up?" Spock looked innocent. Kirk grinned sheepishly. McCoy tried again. "So, Spock, what do you think of the view? Pretty, huh? Or are you immune?"

"No, I am not. It is quite beautiful," said Spock. "Because I am not as vocal as you are in appreciation of beauty, you seem to assume I do not appreciate it."

"You don't appreciate much, Spock. My assumption isn't so far off."

"I especially do not appreciate your constant -- "

"Whoa," said Kirk. "Let's declare a truce here. I'll be more accurate in the future and Spock can keep his opinions to himself if he wants."

Spock seemed satisfied and McCoy relaxed, but got a twinkle in his eyes. "Was it good for you, too?" McCoy said to the Vulcan, referring to their verbal sparring but sounding very sexual.

At Spock's look of puzzlement, Kirk smiled infectiously. McCoy snorted and Kirk laughed and the two men were soon holding their middles in gales of silent laughter. "Say, Spock," McCoy gasped when he was finally able to speak, and he "serioused up" for this, "I know a place where you can see lots of beauty. And you can observe the interaction of the races in a social atmosphere, too."

McCoy kept a straight face and Kirk put one on, too. "Yes, indeed, Mr. Spock," Kirk added a little fuel of his own. "I think it would benefit you very highly to come with us. And I'm not opening this present unless you do."

"A bribe?" Spock said. "You must be inviting me someplace I would not want to go."

"Hell, Spock, you'll love it," McCoy offered. "A chance to see the social interaction of Federation races under less than ideal circumstances."

Kirk glanced at McCoy, taking his cue. "Yes ... a scientific sort of expedition, Mr. Spock. In fact, I might even order you to accompany us."

Spock's eyebrows went up. "That would be highly unfair, Captain."

"Wouldn't it, though," Kirk said wistfully.

Spock cooperated ... reluctantly.

* * *

"Well, Jim, here's to your 38th." Kirk winced, smiled, and raised his glass. "Wait a minute," McCoy snapped his fingers. "You haven't got a drink, Spock." Broadly smiling, he patted the startled Vulcan on the cheek reassuringly. Spock radiated waves of disapproval, but McCoy didn't even notice. He stood up. "I'll fix you right up, Spock. Be right back."

"Fruit juice," came Spock's faint plea.

McCoy made his way to the bar. The bartender, a Gorn, gave him a conspiratorial glance and a broad grin, which came oddly from one of his race. "I ssee you have a Vulcan in your party," Sam said. "Have I got ssomething for you."

"Whaddaya mean?" McCoy asked.

"Well, you've heard all that sstuff about how Vulcanss are ssuppossed to be immune to alcohol."

"They are immune," McCoy said, narrowing his eyes. "Get to the point, Sam."

Sam's smile got a little broader, which made McCoy a bit nervous. "They're not immune to all kindss of liquor, Doctor McCoy. Thiss new compound is a combination of liquor and Berengarian ssai leavess. The ssai leaves ssynergize the effectss of the ethyl alcohol sso well, I guarantee it'll put even that logical Vulcan on his backsside."

McCoy's eyes lit up. "Sounds great," he laughed. "But Spock'll detect it in a nanosecond. He has a way of smelling out fun and avoiding it like the Rigellian destu plague."

At that, Sam winked and pulled McCoy a bit closer. "But thiss sstuff is compounded to ssmell and taste just like Denebian ssincelfruit juice."

McCoy was ecstatic. He bounced on his heels. "Sam, you say you guarantee this stuff? If it doesn't get him drunk, are you gonna buy Spock's drinks?"

Sam laughed. Heh-heh-hesssssss. "If thiss doessn't get him drunk, the whole Enterprise crew getss free drinkss during thiss shore leave."

* * *

"Thass fasci-- fasci-- really neat," Spock slurred, indicating the lovely young lady's low cut outfit. "How's it stay up?" She just smiled and shook her head. Three of Sam's ssincelfruits had done their work. The Vulcan was delightfully, totally sloshed, and was obviously enjoying himself.

The girl, whose name, improbably, was "Bunny", was snuggled comfortably under Kirk's protective arm when the giant appeared. "Oh, hi, Turk," Bunny said innocently in her husky voice. "I didn't expect to see you till tomorrow night!" She waved amiably around the table. "This is my new friend Jim Kirk, and this is Spock, and this is ... Bones. (Is your name really Bones?)" she finished in a whisper to McCoy, who absently nodded, watching the big man uneasily. He was truly amazed at how quickly he had sobered up. Fear did interesting things for one's physiology.

The giant's muscles rippled as he tapped his fingers on the back of Kirk's chair. "Bones is what they're all gonna be," Turk said.

"Have asseat, Turk," said Kirk in his most diplomatic slur, extending his hand. Turk studiously ignored the hand and bored his sights into Kirk.

"Thanks, I think I will have a seat, Kirk. Your seat."

"His seass alreay occu-- occu-- oc ... er ... taken," Spock pointed out.

"Oh, that's alright," Turk said. "I can solve that problem." With a smooth motion, he grabbed a handful of Kirk's satin dress tunic and hoisted the surprised Captain out of his chair. Bunny, who had been leaning on Kirk, fell over, but speedily recovered herself and scrambled out of the way. "Nice material, Kirk," sneered Turk, still holding Kirk's tunic front. "It'd be a shame if I hadda ... mess it up."

Kirk, in shock, did not move until the tall man let him down. Quickly, Kirk put his tunic to rights and said gently, ramrod straight, "Kwee discuss this ... peashefully?" He added his most charming smile, which by this time had grown a little lopsided.

Turk leaned over Kirk menacingly and said, "Sure, I'll oblige ya. How many pieces wouldja like to be in?"

Slowly Kirk's smile evaporated, but he stood his ground. "Now, lissen, Mr. Turk," he slurred, "I'm not a violent man by nature--"

A loud coughing from McCoy's side of the table halted him in mid-sentence. "Sorry, Jim," McCoy spluttered as he wiped tears from his eyes. "Ah had a little trouble swallowin' that." And the physician doubled over in silent laughter while Spock watched him curiously.

Kirk balled his fists and shoved them under Turk's nose. "Shir," he slurred. "Have ya ever been in sshpace? Perhaps--" He hiccuped. "--you would care to jzoin the crew of the U. ESH. ESH. Ennerprize in ORBIT aroun' this haven for the mennally deficient. If you don' shcease an' de- des- ... if you don' LEAVE US THE HELL ALONE, you're gonna aszume sztandard orbit."

Spock was at Turk's side. "Shir," he said to Turk, "Perhaps we can all discuss this when we are all less inebri-- inebri-- when we don' have a snootful," he finished apologetically. McCoy shot the First Officer a strange look.

Turk's attention snapped over to Spock. "I don't like Vulcans, you skinny space jockey, and I like them a lot less right now. So just keep your little pointed ears to yourself."

Spock frowned. "I had no intention of giving them up, shir," he said.

"You gettin' smart wit' me, Vulcan?"

"I have been rated very highly in Federation testing, shir," Spock said with all seriousness.

"THAT DONE IT!" Turk roared, grabbing the front of Spock's dress uniform. Spock's eyes grew quite wide with startlement. Kirk quickly sat down. He conferred briefly with McCoy concerning strategy. "NOBODY talks to Turk Moynihanfrid like that 'n gets away with it, frouckhead," the giant said. He shook Spock a little. "You pointy-earred, green-blooded hobgoblin--"

He was interrupted by a tap on his arm. "Say, son," McCoy drawled (quite forgetting his fear). "Ah think that's mah line."

Glaring, the big man swatted at McCoy as he would a fly. McCoy slunk shyly back to his mint julep.

Kirk, aware of the threat posed to his first officer, nobly stood up, forgetting his strategy and knocking over his chair. "UNHAND my friend, you sonuva ... sonuva ... son ... of ... abish."

Instantly Turk's attention snapped back to Kirk. Maintaining an excellent grip on Spock's tunic, he said, "Just wait your turn, jerkwad. I'll be back to you in one minute."

Kirk, realizing his mistake, smiled obsequiously and waggled his fingers. "Oh, no problem. Don't hurry on my account. It's just that -- well, Spock was my friend, an' he said he always would be my friend."

Spock's eyebrows shot up into his bangs at Kirk's use of the past tense.

"Yer friend's a chicken," Turk snarled.

"You are incorrect," Spock stated influently. "He is not of the fowl species. He is a homo szapiens. Now ... put me down."

Turk obliged. "You're a wimpy, no-good son of a space freak. Your father is a framblefrodd. Your mother wears Fleet boots. Yer--"

That crack about his mother did it ... as usual. Spock went into action. He quickly swept his hand up to neck pinch the big gorilla -- and after a few suspenseful minutes, Turk went down, along with a handful of Spock's tunic front, which was still tightly in his grasp.

Spock's tunic fell open, eliciting sighs, gasps, and oohs and ahhs from every female in the place. (NOTE: The reader will recall that, although our Mr. Spock's features do not all resemble those of the 20th century sex symbol Tom Selleck, his CHEST does.)

Kirk rolled his eyes. Spock dusted off his hands. McCoy beamed and said, "Anybody for another round?"

* * *

McCoy brought drinks and started regaling Bunny with Space Stories. Spock was surprised to find himself quite entertained by the doctor's humor. He was rather enjoying this. Shore leave was quite pleasant, he decided. He felt quite contented and relaxed ... maybe a little too relaxed, he thought, taking his hand out from under his chin and attempting to sit up straight. He tuned in to McCoy.

"... And how 'bout the time we went to Orion's Four Provinces on New Connecticut, Jim? Those green Orion slave women were all over us!"

"Ohhh, yes," Kirk grinned in reminiscence.

"I remember that!" Spock exclaimed. Everybody stopped for a second to stare at the Vulcan. "Er ... I only meant that I had heard this story before," Spock articulated, "Not that I had actually been there. I was busy conducting scientific surveys at the time."

McCoy resumed telling stories. After his anecdote about the flying furworms of Carmeron III, Spock chimed in, "Tell the one about the tribbles, Jim, when they all fell out of the compartment onto your head."

Kirk fixed Spock with a strange look. Spock's glow began to evaporate. "Maybe I'll tell the one about the time I saw you hanging upside down from a tree, Spock."

Spock looked as though he'd gotten a very bad taste in his mouth. "Uh ... why don't we just tell about the shore leave planet?" he suggested quietly.

McCoy drained his glass, grinning in self-congratulation. Spock sure had a buzz on. It was kind of cute. "Ah think we should tell the bartender about another round," McCoy said, winking at the chastened Spock.

"I'll get the drinks," Spock volunteered quickly.

Spock stepped over the unconscious Turk and went up to the bar. He held up his empty glass and said, "Play it again, Sham."

Smiling, the Gorn bartender regarded the Vulcan. A feeling of pride suffused Sam for a moment. He's so drunk he's doing Bogart impressions! "You got ssome old sstyle movies on the Enterprisse, eh?"

Spock nodded as he watched Sam pour his drink. "I particularly like old Humphrey Bogart movies. Bogart was so nonchalant." ("Particularly" is hard enough to say when you're sober, but Spock managed it trippingly. Actually it had fewer syllables when he said it now, sort of like this: "p'tichhly.")

Sam signaled to the bouncer to remove Turk's inert form from the floor. "Y'like Bogart movies, huh? What're your favorites?"

Spock considered carefully. "I guess I hafta say the gangster ones. I like his gangster movies 'cause they remind me of this planet we visited a while ago. The natives were very intelligent mimics. It was sort of an example of life imitating art, know wha' I mean?" Sam nodded patiently, inwardly groaning. He knew he shouldn't have asked that question. "But then ... I think maybe my favorite movie's Casablanca ... it strikes at the very heart of human romance, the sadness of it all ... and the impossible hopes they hold ... "

God of the Egg, not another philosophical drunk. Please.

* * *

"Come on, you guys," Christine said to Uhura and Sulu. "Len's been telling me about this place for four years, and it's about time we tried it. I know we'll have a great time."

"It looks ... a little ... dumpy," Uhura said hesitantly.

Sulu, the eternal optimist, grinned. "That's the best kind of bar! We'll have lots more fun than in some ritzy place. It's too bad Scotty is busy tonight. He'd love it! Let's go."

They headed for the dimly lit bar. Chapel thought what a shame it was that Spock always spent his leave time doing research aboard the Enterprise, with his friend the library computer. Too bad he couldn't see her tonight, she thought, not that it'd make any change in his politely distanced attitude. Both she and Uhura, out of uniform, were dressed very nicely, and Sulu was clad in an elegant black jumpsuit that only someone of his nice physique could get away with wearing. He also wore a broad smile for his lovely companions.

Chris had spent quite a few credits for her outfit -- Uhura had persuaded her it was worth it. Black velvet, it showed off Chapel's blonde good looks to their best advantage. It also showed off her right leg, which was bared by a slit from the ankle-grazing hem to her upper (shapely) thigh. The low neckline, descending from below the shoulders, showed what Uhura termed "an ample but tasteful amount of decolletage." Uhura's dress, by the same designer, differed in cut (it bared one lovely arm) and was a striking blue.

"I expected just a little more ... atmosphere," Uhura whispered to Chris as they entered.

Waving smoke out of her eyes, Chris replied, "I think it has a little too much."

Sulu was looking for a seat or two at the crowded bar where single beings of all shapes and sizes and color congregated, making unsubtle passes at each other. (The phrase "Baby, where you been all my life?" was repeated in at least fourteen different languages, by Uhura's count.) Among the great variety of sentient beings in the place, Sulu saw some familiar humanoid faces.

"Look who's here, ladies," he grinned. Chris and Uhura looked in the direction of Sulu's pointing finger. McCoy was standing rather unsteadily, beckoning them with an upraised glass. They went to the table where he sat with Captain Kirk and a lovely young lady who turned out to be named Bunny. Greetings passed around the table; the three newcomers sat down. Bunny went for drinks, returning to place a Finagle's Folly before everyone at the table.

"Chris, honey, you'll never guess who's here tonight," McCoy whispered in her ear.

Chris said, "What do you mean, Len?"

A wicked grin decorated McCoy's face. "You aren't gonna believe it until ya see it. So, I'm not tellin'. But I'll give you a hint. He's up at the bar doin' Bogart!" the doctor cackled.

Kirk burst out in giggles. Sulu stared at his captain for a second and then laughed; Kirk had a funny laugh when he was buzzed (he sounded like an antique Terran submachine gun)! Uhura voiced nicer-sounding giggles of her own, and she nudged Sulu under the table as he wheezed away.

"You sound like you have asthma," she grinned, batting her eyelashes playfully. Sulu responded by reaching over to tickle her neck, and all traces of officer-like decorum disappeared in a flurry of giggles and wheezes ... and Finagle's Follies.

Christine, meanwhile, wished they'd gone somewhere more suitable for their attire. Males of all races were giving her licentious glances. Uhura was too busy giggling with (or at) Sulu and the captain to notice the looks she was getting, especially from the six-eyed Soligorian next to the bar.

Suddenly a pair of very warm hands descended upon Christine's bare shoulders. Glaring, she jumped up out of her chair and whirled to face the offender. Her mouth dropped open. Mr.-

"Spock!" she gasped. That chest!

"Hullo," he drawled, leaning toward her. He looked very strange.

Chris, a puzzled expression on her lovely face, said, "Mr. Spock, are you all right?"

"Fine," Spock said, his voice deepening in a very sexy way. He was wearing quite a debonair expression, although he was looking down her dress. He looked up to meet her eyes with full force. "An' so, my lovely Christine, are you."

She didn't quite know whether to smile or frown, so she just looked into those compelling, bleary eyes and said, "Thank you, Mr. Spock." She thought she sounded pretty poised, considering. She directed a visual question mark at McCoy and Kirk caught it.

Kirk lurched to his feet, grinning broadly at Christine and slurred, "Like I always say. Go for it!" He collapsed in another flurry of giggles.

Sulu leaned on Uhura, laughing in his peculiar way. Uhura was eagerly observing the interplay. At the moment, she was amazed to note, Mr. Spock's large hands were traveling up and down Christine's velvet clad arms and he was saying something in a very odd tone of voice.

"This feels real nice, Ms. Chapel. --Coul' I call you Christine?"

"You already did, Mr. Spock," she smiled wryly. She was enjoying this. (It certainly was a change from the way Spock usually spent his leave time, wasn't it?)

"Oh, thass right." He shook his finger at her and then placed it gently under her chin. "Par-- pardon my dichshon," he slurred. He leaned even closer to whisper, "Y'know, I have a confession t'make. I've often though' about seeing you off duty. Isn't it nice that of all the gin joints an' honky tonks on this planet, you shoul' walk into thiss one?"

* * *

"Hi, I'm Memory and I'll be your waitress tonight," said the fur-clad and nubile young lady to her new customers.

"Ah don't believe it! Memory serves!!" McCoy exclaimed, grinning in amazement. Sulu and Uhura were the only ones to catch the doctor's observation. They stared at each other.

"I can't stand it, I just can't stand it!" Sulu laughed.

Uhura smiled disbelievingly at McCoy. "Did you pay her to say that?"

McCoy merely shook his head and leaned toward the two lieutenants. "But I will pay her to bring more of these terrific drinks. What'll you have?"

Suddenly attentive, Kirk said to Memory, "Bring a round of Finagle's Follies and another special for my friend here," he indicated Spock.

"All those lil' animalz." Spock shook his head sadly, gaze fixed on Memory's fur bra. "Poor lil' things. You shouldn't be wearing that," he said to Memory.

She frowned at him, then smiled. "Oh, THAT place is down the street. We all wear clothes here."

Spock said quietly to Christine, "an' they have the best Den -- Den -- Denebian sincelfruit juice I've ever tas ... tasted."

It got YOU pretty juiced, Christine thought.

Spock's warm hand brushed across her shoulders. "Whyn't you siddown?" he said. "Oh. There's only one seat left. Hmmmmm." The Vulcan concentrated very hard for a moment. "Oh. Yeah! You sit -- " He sat in the chair and indicated his knee. "Right here."

Christine was still a little unsure of the situation but she thought she'd take Kirk's advice and press her advantage. Slowly she lowered herself onto Spock's knee and placed an arm around his broad shoulders. "How's this?" She smiled into his warm brown eyes.

"Mmmmm," Spock sighed, rising both eyebrows. "That will do very nicely."

* * *

Kirk felt like hell. In fact, he felt like two fan writers who'd stayed up til 3:30 a.m. Thursday to write this story. -- Now why did I think of that? he wondered. (We won't tell.)

The turbolift doors whooshed open in that annoying way they had. Kirk rubbed his eyes and pondered that perhaps they shouldn't have survived the previous night. Death might be a little ... quieter.

McCoy came to his side. "Need a little shot, Jim?" the doctor asked. He seemed somewhat better off than Kirk felt, but he still had that hungover look -- sort of like a Rigellian limpworm.

"As long as it's a quiet shot, Bones. In fact, I'm thinking of checking in for a nap."

"Naw, you can't do that, Jim. This whole hangover will be worth it just to see Spock." McCoy's face split into a wide grin and he bounced on his feet, only to stop abruptly. "That hurts," he whispered. He looked around, noting that Sulu and Uhura were still conspicuously absent.

Spock's yeoman entered, searching around the bridge. She stepped down to the Captain. "Sir, do you have any idea where Mr. Spock is? He hasn't checked in from liberty yet."

Kirk and McCoy grinned at each other. Kirk giggled and clutched his head. "Ohgod it hurts," he laughed. The yeoman looked quite bewildered.

Ensign Chekov caught her eye and made circles round his ear with his index finger. "Finagle's Bar," he enunciated simply.

The yeoman smiled endearingly at Chekov; then, all efficiency, asked: "Should I sign Mr. Spock out for another day of leave, Captain?"

Kirk, helpless with laughter, could not reply. McCoy gave him a shot with his hypospray and the Captain straightened up. He shook his head somberly at the yeoman and said, "See if he comes up in the next few minutes. Shift hasn't really started yet."

"He's always early, sir." The yeoman was frowning. "I thought he was still down on Cyprus. He's not in his quar -- " She stopped, not wanting to invade her superior's privacy. But McCoy's grin got even wider.

The turbolift discharged another passenger. The yeoman breathed easier.

"Good morning, gentlemen," Spock said in his typically cool tones. Kirk stared. Spock was the same as ever. But there was a certain ... smugness about his face that Kirk couldn't quite define. McCoy seemed puzzled, too.

Kirk leaned toward him. "What happened at Finagle's Bar last night? Was Spock really there or did I just start seeing green Vulcans?"

McCoy, lips tightly compressed, could only shake his head in reply. Spock raised an eyebrow at the two whispering men. His yeoman went over and held out some lectroboards for him to sign. Spock did so and moved to join Kirk and McCoy.

"I may as well get this over with, Doctor, Captain." He nodded to each in turn. "Thank you for ... compelling me to come with you last night. Your ... invitation provided a most ... novel experience." He sounded sincere.

McCoy cocked his head and frowned. "Aren't you a little upset with us, Spock?"

Spock raised an eyebrow. "Why, no, Doctor. I must say I ... " He pursed his lips judiciously, "enjoyed myself."

"Y'what?" McCoy said, startled.

"Really, Doctor, must I always repeat myself? I had a learning experience concerning the pleasures of socializing last night. I always find learning enjoyable. Especially when humans are involved."

"Well ... aren't you at least hung over?" McCoy asked in a disappointed tone.

Both eyebrows ascended. "Why, no, Doctor. I am Vulcan. I do not retain alcoholic compounds in my body tissue."

"Then how d'ye get rid of it?" Kirk was curious.

"Excrete it," Spock responded soberly.

"ALL of it?" McCoy breathed.

Spock nodded, a bit crossly. It had been a long thirty minutes in front of the urinal.

"I mighta known he'd come up with somethin' like this!" McCoy wailed. Excitedly he turned on Spock, grabbing his elbow. "I want a blood sample. If I can compound whatever it is, I'll bring relief to millions."

"It has been tried without success, Doctor. If you will excuse me ... "

Spock shook himself loose, gave Kirk an enigmatic look, and ascended to his station. Kirk flashed a "wait here" sign to McCoy and followed his first officer. "By the way, Spock," he said very quietly. "What happened after McCoy and I left?"

"Closing time," the Vulcan said. "Oh -- could you remind the good doctor that he owes Mr. Sulu forty credits?"

Kirk waved his hand impatiently. "Well ... after closing time?"

"I presume they locked the doors, Captain." There was that enigmatic look again. Kirk narrowed his eyes. Spock, half-smiling in that particular way he had, looked at him and -- winked?!

The turbolift doors opened. Chapel stepped out. "Binnacle list for today," she announced, extending a lectroboard for Kirk's perusal. "Mr. Sulu and Lt. Uhura commed in sick; they're going to be late for shift. I've contacted Duty Section A standbys for Communications and Helm until Sulu and Uhura can report for duty."

Kirk took the form, glancing at her. She didn't look hungover ... or tired. What she looked was radiant. Kirk shook his head, signed the binnacle list, and made his way back to his seat, studiously ignoring McCoy's " ... well???"

"Well," Kirk smiled, rubbing his hands. "I'm glad everything's back to normal." Over his shoulder, "Mr. Spock, how about a game of chess this evening?"

Spock and Christine, who had been quietly conversing, broke off. "It would be most enjoyable, Captain, but I have ... other plans."

Chapel headed toward the lift, gently smiling. McCoy, seeing he wasn't getting anything out of Kirk, bounded after, hot on her heels. Kirk grinned, remembering Bunny's ministrations and all the hilarity last night. And a certain first officer's frolic at Finagle's Bar.

Another Vulcan myth bites the dust, he thought. It had been a nice birthday. ... and he'd never even opened the present.