The view from the balcony was breathtaking. Azure waters called to him, promising freedom from duty if he would just come and float in their gentle swell. Kirk breathed in the salty air of the alien sea and sighed in regret he had not beamed down sooner. In fact he had not planned to beam down at all. They had put in to Starbase Nine for priority repairs to the Enterprise after a close encounter with a previously uncharted black hole and a temporal anomaly. Said repairs had taken all his time and attention for most of the three weeks they had been in dry-dock.
However, the fact that the starbase orbited the gorgeous planet of Chara Six, known locally as Giselle, had never been lost to him. Finally, after much assurances by Spock and Scotty that they had everything under control and dire threats of enforced bed rest by McCoy if he didn't take some R&R, Kirk beamed down to do just that. He knew they had gotten down to the nitty-gritty repairs, where his presence was now more a hindrance than a help. Spock was practically chest deep in the computer core, merrily completing that promised overhaul to stop it from addressing everyone as "dear". Scotty was outside re-knitting the support strut of the left nacelle that they had nearly lost on their trip back through time.
Kirk had arrived too late to do more than sit on the balcony and sip brandy, enjoying the sunset and casually admiring some nubile sun worshippers dedicated to the very end. The brandy was warm as it slid down his throat, like the fading sun as it kissed his skin. He was so tired, the last few months had been difficult; battles with god-like children and six-foot lizards had taken their toll on him. He sighed and leaned back into the chair, finally feeling some of the tension ease out of his shoulders. He had just enough time to finish his brandy and take a long, hot shower--no water rations here--before McCoy joined him for dinner.
He had just gotten out of the shower when McCoy buzzed for entrance; the warm, pounding spray against his shoulders and back had easily seduced him into oblivion. Slipping into the fluffy hotel robe, Jim begrudgingly went to greet the doctor.
"Well Jim, I know Giselle has a lax dress code and all, but I think you actually have to wear *something* in the restaurant we're going to," McCoy drawled sarcastically as he took in the lack of Jim's attire.
"Funny, Bones, come in and amuse me some more as I get dressed," Kirk tossed drolly over his shoulder as he moved to grab his uniform off the bed.
"What? You're going to wear your uniform tonight?" McCoy asked in dismay.
"I had planned to--what's the matter with that?" Kirk challenged back.
"Well, nothing, I guess. I mean, if you think that's the only way to get somebody's attention over me tonight--then, by all means--wear it," the CMO baited back.
Kirk gave him a sideways look of disgust at the blatant attempt of manipulation before laughingly shaking his head and moving to grab a set of civvies out of the closet.
"Fine, Bones, we'll play it your way. I'll give you any attention I can't handle," he replied smugly as he slipped on the dark trousers and matching shirt.
"You always tell me that but somehow it rarely happens," McCoy grumbled as he appraised Kirk in civilian attire and silently cursed the wardrobe suggestion. How could the man look so differently by just a change of clothes? Gone was the confident, but rigid, starship commander and instead there stood a handsome rogue with mischief in his eyes.
"Probably because I always seem to need a lot of attention," Kirk winked back as he motioned for McCoy to lead their way to dinner.
"Now, *that* is a true statement if I ever heard one, but I don't think we're talking about the same thing," McCoy mouthed as he passed Kirk's smiling face.
The meal was exceptional. Jim never balked when McCoy wanted to go to dinner. The physician had gourmet tastes and never steered him wrong. Yet, when the CMO suggested they amble over to the disco in the resort complex, Kirk made a face. "A disco? Bones, you don't dance and it wouldn't be my first choice tonight either."
"Wrong, I *do* dance--I just don't do gymnastics to war drums--but I've seen you do it on occasion," McCoy smirked.
"Very few and always under protest. So why the disco, Bones? There's other places more our speed and age bracket around here. I saw a swing club and a jazz bar on the promenade too," Kirk suggested hopefully.
"Right, but I bet you a year's pay if we go into either place you'll meet a beautiful research biologist or an astrophysicist, and I think you need something a little less complicated this time around," McCoy announced archly over the rim of his wine stem.
Kirk's brow did a Vulcan move as McCoy's words registered with him. "Why Bones, I didn't realize you felt the need to pimp for me," he replied mildly.
"Funny, Jim. Let's just say we're short on time. I have no doubt you could collect an obscene amount of notches on your belt before we beam back the day after tomorrow, but as physically and emotionally exhausted as you are right now--I'm encouraging you to only push the physical limits. You know how you get after leave--you meet someone interesting and that big romantic heart of yours gets jumpstarted. Then you have to go back to the ship and you mope for days, weeks even. No, I'm thinking the disco is more your speed this shoreleave."
"Can I help it if I think brains are sexy?" Jim asked somewhat defensively.
"I thought you once said talking was vastly over-rated," McCoy spoke as if prompting an aging memory.
"I never said that," Kirk answered but refused to look McCoy in the eye.
"Well, humor the CMO and lets try the disco," McCoy nudged appeasingly, knowing he'd won.
The music was loud and jumping in the swing club. Uhura came in from another round on the dance floor and tossed back the drink that kept appearing before her.
"Whew! That was fun, but I think I need to sit out a dance or two," she yelled over the din to her companion at the table.
"Girl, you better go lightly on those phaser burns or you'll be doing nothing but sitting," Charlene Masters cautioned as she grimaced, watching Ny gulp down the potent drink that tasted like innocent lemonade.
Charlene wished she had listened to her own advice earlier as the room spun in a direction not to her liking. Palmer and Tamura, the other merrymakers in their party, were still out on the floor enjoying themselves.
"I know, but they taste so good! I got so thirsty out there," Uhura giggled.
"Hey, you still want to try out that disco?" Masters asked, needing some air--any air--to straighten out her head.
"Sure!" Ny answered as she decided Liz's drink looked lonely and worked to remedy that.
"I'm going to go and tell Liz and Miko we're ready to move on," Charlene pointed toward the dance floor, ready to do anything to make the room stop whirling.
"Okay," Ny grinned, looking over the table for anything they should take with them and spied the remnants of Miko's drink-- 'Oh, that looks good too… .'
Masters returned to the table with her two comrades in arms--literally--they were arm in arm so they could help each other stay upright.
"Ny, hey Ny, let's go," Charlene nudged the beautiful woman who appeared to be bored at first glance, but instead was snoring soundly as her head rested in her braced hand. "Shit--she's out. Okay, you guys help me get Ny back to her room."
"Who's going to help us back to ours?" Liz whined as she moved to one side of Uhura and tried to lift her from the chair and nearly landed them both in the floor.
After several false starts they managed to get Ny on her feet and secured between Liz and Miko. Charlene charted an accurate if drunken course to room 4422, thankful they had not been seen by any of their crew mates. That was the last thing they needed - to be harassed that they could not hold their liquor on leave.
"All right, where's her room key?" Masters asked as she looked hard at the lock after realizing Ny was not going to wake up and tell the door to open for them.
"I dunno'" Liz answered--"look in her pocket."
After a careful pat-down that compared favorably to a strip search, Charlene found the back-up pass key in Ny's bra and proceeded to slide the card into the door lock. It did not work, so she flipped the card the other way and tried again. Still did not work. She slid it in and yanked it out fast--no luck. She slid it in and pulled it out slowly--still no results.
"Dammit, Charlene, she's gettin' heavy. Come over here and take my place and let me get at that lock," Miko stage-whispered in disgust.
"Okay," Charlene shrugged her shoulders and toddled over to trade places with the engineering yeoman.
After a few futile efforts, Miko threw the card down in disgust and pulled a small electronic wand out of the hem of her skirt.
"Friggin' cheap locks--but they won't beat me," Tamura muttered as she inserted the probe. With two deft moves--amazing considering she was practically laying face first against the door for support--the lock clicked and the door slid open.
"Damn--I'm good," Miko smiled smarmily from her new spot on the floor in Ny's room.
"Yes, you are--now get your butt out of the way before we all fall on top of you," Charlene ordered as she and Liz dragged Ny toward the bed.
"Damn, her room is way nicer than mine," Miko sighed as she pulled herself up off the floor and looked around.
"I guess it pays to work on the Bridge," Masters grinned.
"Some shifts have more perks than others," Liz interjected knowingly.
"Well, Ny's not about to share those two trophies. I know I wouldn't if I sat the same watch as the Captain and Mister Spock," Charlene leered over the drooping head of her passed-out friend.
"Yeah, she gets them all," Liz grumbled as she shoved Ny none too gently onto the inviting king-size bed, the realization making her just a bit more than jealous.
"Done!" Masters congratulated them all around, as if they had just flagged the peak of Everest. "Now let's go find us our own entertainment. Lights out. Sleep tight, Ny, too bad you're going to miss all the fun!" Charlene giggled over her shoulder at the softly snoring woman as she and her accomplices staggered back into the hallway.
The disco was as garish as Jim had feared. The music was blaring and the lights were strobing in a fair imitation of a red alert. McCoy had picked them out a table on the perimeter of the sunken dance floor, putting them on display.
After their drinks had arrived, McCoy leaned back and observed Kirk over the rim of his drink. Jim was sitting stiffly in his own chair, his eyes scanning the room surveying the interior with a strategic glare.
"Jim, they're not the enemy," McCoy admonished; this was not going as he had planned. Kirk glanced over at McCoy and shrugged his shoulders, neither agreeing nor disagreeing with the CMO, but the doctor noted he made the effort to relax in his chair and focus on his drink.
Once satisfied Kirk would not bolt for the exit, McCoy turned his attention to the dance floor and made his own assessment of the disco. The floor was awash in bodies and strobing lights. A fog of some sort occasionally misted across the room, capturing and swallowing grinding flesh as it seeped its way through the throng. He could hardly make out who belonged to what in that churning mass of nearly carnal knowledge. However, he could quite easily see the other tables that surrounded the floor. Each under its own spotlight, McCoy realized the table patrons were like a menu on display.
As he looked harder at the other occupants, McCoy discovered they were looking back just as hard at him--or more accurately--back at Jim. He glanced over at Kirk and saw that Jim was way ahead of him, his hazel eyes in subtle conversation with two beautiful blondes sitting across the room.
"Well, Jim, you already picked out your dance partner?" McCoy goaded.
"I'm not drunk enough for that yet," Kirk answered with a quick look at the doctor. Then, as if to reinforce his remark, he tossed back his drink and ordered another one.
"You'd better go light on that stuff. You've had brandy, wine and now liquor. I don't want to have to carry you out of here," McCoy scolded.
"Be quiet, Bones; I can drink you under the table any day. Besides, I need to be relaxed if I'm going to dislocate my spine out there--"
"Ah, so you are considering it?" Bones grinned.
"Let's make a deal. I dance one dance and then we go to the jazz bar. I mean this is really more of a college crowd," Kirk grimaced, making McCoy aware it was not his preferred scene.
"We'll see. You might just change your mind," McCoy answered smugly as he saw the two blondes step up to their table--two identical blondes with long flowing braids and sky-blue eyes.
"Hi, I'm Candi."
"And I'm Brandi."
The twins introduced themselves to Kirk, utterly ignoring McCoy. The snub did not bother the CMO in the least, he just sat back and watched to see how Jim would react to the two cute refugees from a Risan pleasure palace.
"Hi, I'm Jim and my friend's name is Leonard," Kirk, ever the gentleman, introduced them to McCoy. "Would you care to join us for a drink?"
"Sure," came the stereo reply. Kirk ordered drinks all around as he finished the one in front of him.
"This isn't your usual hangout, is it?" Brandi asked, turning her sapphire lens on Kirk.
"What makes you think that?" Kirk smiled back non-committingly.
"Because during this job we've kind of made this our place and we would have noticed you," Candi answered with a suggestive giggle.
Smiling pleasantly at the tease, Kirk asked, "This job? What kind of jobs do you have?"
"We're structural engineers sent out to study the stress fractures Enterprise suffered on her last mission," Brandi announced in a teenaged voice.
McCoy groaned, unnoticed by any of the others as Kirk's face lit up like a Chinese New Year's celebration. Bones watched in fascination as Jim transformed from a cranky stick-in-the-mud to suave flirt. They might not be research biologists or astrophysicists, but McCoy saw Kirk's interest go from casual courtesy to genuine attraction in a nano-second.
"Did you hear that, Leonard, structural engineers? Jim asked far too innocently.
"Yes, fascinating," McCoy replied with Spock's phrase if not his curiosity. It did not matter, as neither woman took her eyes off Kirk. McCoy knew he was definitely the fifth wheel of the four people present.
Three drinks later, after hearing about their findings on the Enterprise's strut fracture and never enlightening the ladies they were speaking to her captain, Kirk finally decided he was ready to dance. Not willing to slight either woman, he asked them both to accompany him onto the floor. He gave McCoy a charming, if drunken, smile and left with the twins, not in the least bit sorry he had all of their attention.
"Have fun, Jim," McCoy chuckled to himself as he just shook his head. It was not quite as he had envisioned it but at least Jim was having fun. Who would have thought that the women on either side of Kirk were engineers as they walked toward the dance floor in their spike heels, blonde braids and little else? Once they had begun to fawn over the Enterprise's sleek lines, McCoy knew Jim had found his companions for the evening.
He watched as Kirk disappeared into the ever-present fog, a possessive hand slid under their bound tresses and resting casually at the small of either woman's back. Sighing in envy at what Kirk was likely to wake up to, McCoy turned his attention to the other tables, determined not to wake up alone himself.
The instantaneous realization that something was terribly wrong struck Kirk as soon as he reached consciousness.
"Oh My God," he muttered in frozen panic as he found his nose buried in dark hair, breathing in familiar, but forbidden perfume. His body was spooned against warm, mahogany flesh, his right hand cupping an ample breast.
The body next to him went utterly rigid before exploding into motion and launching itself to the edge of the bed.
"What? Who? How did you get here?!!" Uhura screamed as she clawed for the sheet, seeking coverage of the skin she had so recently shared with him.
Kirk held onto a corner of the sheet, gallantry momentarily forgotten in favor of modesty. He too scurried to the edge of the bed, as if the three feet between them would make a difference. He winced in pain at her squealed questions. His head felt like a lead balloon filled past the point of no return. Eyes tightly shut, he scooted up in bed, gently propping himself against the pillow and headboard while trying to keep the contents of his stomach in place.
Opening up an eye to scan the room, Kirk offered gingerly, "I think that's more my question than yours, as we seem to be in *my* room.
Uhura looked around the room with wild eyes and realized he was right--this was not her room. Clutching the sheet tightly to herself, she tried to remember the night before and forget what she had felt pressed against the small of her back this morning. Her breast still tingled where his hand had touched her skin. Her neck was still aflame with the remnant of his warm breath against it. She was mortified, with no explanation except the obvious as to how she had ended up in her Captain's bed.
"I'm sorry, sir. I have no idea how I got here. Last thing I remember was talking about going to the disco," Uhura offered in embarrassment and realized her own head and stomach had issues.
At the word "disco" the lead moved into the bottom of Kirk's stomach. He remembered being at the disco. He remembered blonde hair and blue eyes--but not black hair and dark eyes. The fog had hidden a multitude of sins--anonymous hands and lips as he danced and caressed. The fog had taken away two senses, reason and sight, and left him with the scent of perfume--perfume that accused him of many things with the coming of the sun. His memory faded into nothing after that.
"I was at the disco last night," he finally managed to say.
"Oh My God," was the frantic answer he got for his confession.
"Lieutenant, we--" Kirk began but was cut off by the chiming of the door and McCoy's booming voice calling out.
"All right, Jim, it's nearly noon--time to get up."
With a yelp of panic, Uhura jumped out of the bed, taking the sheet with her. Losing the battle of the sheet, Kirk scrambled for her pillow to cover himself. Ny ran for the bathroom, trying to wrap the sheet around herself and not trip over the bedspread tangled in the floor. It and her clothes made a drunken path to the bathroom. Kirk caught a delicious glimpse of thigh and cheek as the sheet gaped, but then noticed she was doing her own perusal of skin in her retreat.
"Eyes Front!" Kirk snapped in his crisp command voice. His head was praying for a quick death, but he tried to salvage what dignity he could.
Eyes widening from the glimpse of *all* of him, she snapped her head forward and bolted into the bathroom. Her humiliation would be complete if McCoy caught her in Kirk's room.
Making sure Uhura was secured in the bath, Kirk tossed the pillow away and picked up his pants from his own pile of clothing in the floor. Sliding into them, he walked to the door, allowing it to open.
"Damn, son! You look like you've been hit with a photon torpedo," McCoy bellowed in good humor and tried to peer around Jim into the room. His own night had ended amicably--that jazz bar had been a good idea after all.
"I feel like I've been hit by one too," Kirk answered grimly, but made no effort to move out of McCoy's way. McCoy's eyes lit with mischief as he faked Jim off and entered the room anyway.
"Dammit, Bones, I'm in no mood for company right now," Kirk barked through clenched teeth--surely a photon torpedo would be a quicker death..."
"Keep it up, Jim, and I won't share my detox pills with you," McCoy sassed back as he took in the carnage of the bed, the closed lavatory door and the crumpled lace he could just see peeking out from the mangled bedspread before deciding slow torture was best.
"Please," was all Kirk could muster as he held out one hand while the other clutched his hair, trying to keep his head on his shoulders.
McCoy took pity and placed two pills in the pasty Captain's hand. However, the glint returned as he uttered, "Hey, wait Jim, let me get you some water to wash those down with," and made his way toward the bathroom.
"No! Wait!! I mean, I just let them sit under my tongue--they work faster this way," Kirk yelped, trying to keep McCoy away from the closed door.
"Are you sure?" McCoy asked in innocence as he hovered near the door.
"Yes, really. See?" Kirk popped the pills under his tongue and tried not to gag as they dissolved into foam.
"Well, I've never tried them that way. I think I would probably spew if I felt bad enough to need two," McCoy chimed in feigned amazement. He was enjoying this way too much...
"I guess you might be getting too old to handle two women at a time," he remarked casually, but making a show of looking the captain up and down.
"Not now, Bones. Talk trash later--please," Kirk moaned as he swallowed the disgusting pill foam and silently prayed for it to stay down.
"Okay, fine, Jim. Anyway, I just stopped by to see if you wanted to go to brunch. You know, I could really go for some bacon and fried eggs right about now." He watched in fascination as Jim turned a lovely shade of Vulcan.
The mere idea of food made Jim break out in a cold sweat and he had to sit down on the bed. Panting in deep breaths, he managed to hold down the bile that had rumbled ominously in his throat. He refused to charge into the bathroom, but he had to get McCoy out of there before Nature won.
"Fine Bones, I'll meet you downstairs in thirty minutes. I gotta take a shower and shave my tongue," Kirk sighed in misery.
Grinning like the cat that ate the canary, McCoy pounded Kirk on the back. "Good, good, all right I'll see you in thirty. You want me to stay just in case you need anything?"
"No! no--uh-just leave me a couple more pills--in case I need them." Kirk pushed himself off the bed and practically shoved McCoy out the door.
"Okay, okay, I'm going. You don't have to be so testy. I told you not to drink so much. And news flash--I found out that the fog at that disco intensifies the effect of alcohol, so remember *that* for next time," McCoy lectured like he was talking to a first year plebe.
Kirk shot the CMO an evil look as the door closed before sagging against the wall. Finally, out of sheer determination, he made it to the other side, stopping to toss the bedspread aside and grab up Uhura's clothes. Tapping gently on the door he spoke softly, "Here Lieutenant, swallow these and take a quick shower," then handed a couple of detox pills and a crumpled lace dress through a small opening of the door.
A muffled "yes, sir," came back to him as the door slid shut once again.
Kirk laid back across the bed and waited for the pills to take effect. Even after the pressure eased in his head the brain refused to share any more memory than it had before. How did a night of supposedly uncomplicated sex become such a nightmare? How did you just forget waking up cuddled against the soft flesh of a member of your Bridge team?--a member you had diligently trained yourself to see as just another member of the team and nothing more?
He didn't know if he felt relieved or cheated that he could not remember any of the details. The void kept his brain from torturing him with never-ending instant replay, but a part of him felt that if he had to live with the guilt he should at least get to remember the pleasure. Surely a night in her arms would be worth the guilt of the sin.
Hearing the water shut off, Kirk managed to pull himself up to a sitting position and wait for the door to open. A few moments later a timid figure stepped out, scrubbed and plain, her hair still damp. Uhura had to force herself to make eye contact with Kirk--her embarrassment even stronger now that the fugue had receded. She took in the sight of the man she had awakened with and realized he was just as embarrassed. His color was somewhat better--more pink than green--but he was definitely uncomfortable in her presence. She studiously ignored the fact that he sat there shirtless and with tousled hair.
"Captain, I--" Uhura began, feeling the need to apologize even if she did not remember for what.
"Lieutenant, will you hold that thought? I need to take a shower too or McCoy is going to be back. Please give me a few minutes." His tone was both careful and firm, as if he did not know whether to be her commanding officer or someone more tender.
"Yes, sir," she answered automatically, fervently wishing he would let her beat a hasty retreat. But instead she knew he would want to try and talk this out, come to some sort of understanding about the incident between them.
At her acknowledgement, Kirk grabbed his uniform off the dresser and escaped to the sanctity of the bathroom. Left with nothing but time and a vivid imagination, Uhura turned her attention to the room, using what little energy she had to redress the bed and pick up the last of his tossed clothes. Ny sat down on the edge of the now-made bed and sighed.
How could she have screwed up so badly? She had worked hard to gain his confidence and respect on the Bridge, and now, just when Uhura thought she had achieved it, all had been laid waste. What could he think of her now but some sort of wild woman? Would he now just consider her another trophy for his bedpost? She had heard all the rumors about 'love'em and leave'em Kirk', but she could not believe that of him, not the man she had come to know as her captain.
Why couldn't she remember anything after the swing club? Images and sensations of what she could remember had taken her hostage in the shower. The weight of his strong arm draped across her side, pulling her back against him while his hand had caressed her breast. The feeling of warm, firm flesh pressed up against her back. The glimpse of it all as she had run to the bathroom, unable to turn her head until he had barked an order for her to look away. God, that image would stay with her forever--perfection on a platter.
'Stop it, stop it, stop it!' Ny chanted to herself, reliving the visions anew; she had never thought of Kirk in that light before and did not want to start now. He was her commanding officer and a very intimidating one at that. Not that he meant to be, but he was just the same. She had focused all her time and energy into earning his trust that she would do her job well under any situation. One of the things she liked the most about him was that he treated her like any other member of the Bridge crew--she was an officer--period.
How would this fiasco change his opinion of her? She did not want to lose his respect. It had taken a lot of work to earn it the first time and she was afraid he would not give it back. Ironically, she never considered wavering hers; Ny knew she still thought of him as the best captain in Starfleet. Perhaps if she tried to make light of the situation and act as if it were nothing but the result of waking up on the wrong side of the glass, Kirk would accept it as such too. His earlier behavior had clearly indicated he was just as mortified to have found himself a star in this surreal exhibit.
On that thought Kirk came out of the bathroom. Dressed in his uniform, he moved with more confidence than he had before. His eyes were clear and unflinching. He walked up to Uhura and she could not help but look into his eyes. He reached out, awkwardly at first, but then settled his hands firmly upon her shoulders.
"Lieut--Nyota, I have no memory of last night nor any idea how we came to be together this morning. I'm sorry if my behavior has offended you or if you feel I have abused my position--"
"Captain--sir," Uhura interrupted before he could say anything more, "I can't remember anything either, so I can hardly fault you. You have not offended me or misused your authority. The only thing I ask is that you don't beat yourself up over this. If anything happened, then lets just consider it a *case of shoreleave* and leave it at that. Now, don't you think you'd better go meet Doctor McCoy before he catches us in your room?"
A woeful frown crossed his face at the mention of McCoy, but he quickly replaced it with a tender smile that caused Uhura's breath to catch in her throat. "Thank you, Lieutenant, I will try to do just that," he offered a quick squeeze of her shoulders, but kept his distance--too aware he could wreck her offer of absolution.
He went to the door and opened it, stepping out to check if the hall was empty. Seeing no one, he motioned that the coast was clear. Taking her cue, she walked past him and quickly disappeared into the lift. Kirk counted to thirty and then made his own escape.
Ny flew to her room on the second floor as quickly as she could. She did not want to be caught in last night's wrinkled attire. Entering the room, she lay down on the bed and tried to collect her thoughts before she noted the message light blinking on the comm. She punched the button to listen.
"Miz Uhura, this is the front desk calling and we just wanted you to know someone turned in your pass key to us. If you care to claim a new one, please stop by and we will be happy to take care of that for you. Thank you for staying at the Giselle Intercontinental ." 'Well, one mystery solved,' she thought to herself.
A second message was flashing for attention too so Ny punched the button again. "Hey, Ny, it's Charlene. We're at the pool if you care to join us."
A new wave of panic settled into Uhura's stomach. Did Charlene and the others know where she had spent last night? Had they seen her with Kirk at the disco? Being able to keep it just between she and the Captain might work, but if the others knew--it would be all over the ship before they ever beamed back.
Her mind raced wildly over worst case scenarios. 'God! How could something like this have happened?' Half the crew would be green with envy and the other half would want details. No one would dare say anything to Kirk but he would know just the same. His 'hands off' rule would be a joke. She was trying to be casual and sophisticated about this whole affair--bad choice of words, she thought--but she was not sure she could actually pull it off if it became common knowledge.
Uhura knew she had to find out what had happened, and if anything involving Kirk came to light, she must find some way to swear them to secrecy. She stripped out of her clothes and scrambled into a bathing suit and a cover-up sundress before leaving to stalk down her answers.
Working hard at appearing calm, she entered the lobby and headed toward the pool just outside. She had no trouble finding her erstwhile companions from the night before as they languished in the sun. Approaching their apparent ring-leader, she cast Masters in shade.
"What? Oh Hi, Ny, glad you finally decided to join us," Charlene greeted her in a mocking tone. Both Liz and Miko took notice of her as well.
"Yes ,well--I had a hangover," Ny answered truthfully, if obtusely.
"We don't doubt it," Liz piped up, "but next time wait till you get to your room before passing out."
"What?" Ny asked, trying to drag out more details without just blurting out her need to know.
"You fell asleep at the swing club and we had to carry you to your room and put you to bed," Charlene supplied with just a slight roll of her eyes.
"Oh, you did? Thanks--I mean, I really appreciate it. Uhhh-do you still have my pass key?"
"Nah, but it didn't work anyway," Miko got into the conversation. "I had to pick the lock. You'd think for the credits we're paying they'd have decent security," she mouthed off in disgust.
Her heart pounded wildly at this news but Ny fronted her best poker face to show nothing but self possession. She would use the key situation as an opportunity to leave without raising suspicion. "Oh--well I guess I need to go check in with the front desk and remedy that little problem."
"Okay, we'll be right here when you get back," Liz responded sleepily.
Ny tried to keep her pace cool and casual as she went in search of Kirk. She still did not know what happened in his bed, but at least she knew now he had nothing to do with getting her there.
Kirk made his way over to McCoy on the outside patio, the bright sunlight doing a number on his eyes.
"Well, about time you got here. I didn't know if I was going to have to haul you down or eat alone," McCoy groused.
"Shut up, Bones. I'm here," Kirk sighed petulantly as he sat down across from the doctor.
"My, aren't we cheerful this afternoon? I would have expected you to wake up in a better mood," Bones remarked pointedly with a suggestive waggle of his brows.
Suddenly sick with the idea that McCoy might have known it was Uhura hiding in the bathroom rather than anyone else, Kirk pushed the topic--trying to find out something--anything. "Come off it, Bones. Go ahead and ask your dirty questions that you *know* I'm not going to answer."
"What? Who me? Why, I'd never ask you what it was like to be sandwiched between two hot, young blondes--ah, and speak of the devil--here they come," McCoy grinned and sat back to watch the show as the twins spied Kirk and made a beeline for their table.
"Uh--hi, Candi--" Kirk looked up and started feebly just before a glass of ice water was tossed in his face.
"I'm Brandi--and *you,* I see, would be captain of the Enterprise; something *else* you forgot to share with us last night," the anger removing any trace of girlishness from her voice.
Kirk sat deathly still in his chair, accepting the icy splash as just desserts. McCoy had to clamp his jaw down hard not to burst into laughter in fear of drawing attention away from this soap opera.
Brandi stomped off in a huff as Candi took her place in front of the dripping Kirk. "You know, if all you wanted to know was what we were going to report about the Enterprise's fitness, then you could have just asked. Being led-on all night and then left out on the dance floor was just plain rude." She reached out and took McCoy's ice water out of his hand in mid-sip and dumped it over Kirk's head before storming off in her sister's wake.
Kirk did not flinch--he just considered it a fit ending to this comedy of horrors. He calmly picked up his napkin and tried to wipe the worst of the water out of his eyes.
"Soooo, Jim, I take it from this little scene that it wasn't Candi's or Brandi's clothes on the floor of your room, hmmmm? Just *who* did you hightail it out with? I didn't see you leave--went to that jazz bar after all. You know, it turned out to be a great place to meet women," the CMO beamed sheepishly.
Kirk gave McCoy a glare that could have etched diamond. For once McCoy took the hint and shut up. "I'm going to my room now to change clothes," Kirk started in that deadly quiet voice, "then I'm going to the beach to drown myself. I don't want to see you, or hear you until I'm back on the ship--if then. Is that clear?"
"Dammit, Jim--" the glare worsened--"I mean, yes, sir." The glare stood up and stalked off.
Kirk came back downstairs after changing into swim trunks and a shirt, intent upon salvaging something from this farce of a shoreleave. Remembering he had not gotten the opportunity to eat breakfast, he stopped by the juice bar to get something nourishing yet tame, to test his stomach. He was moving on toward the steps leading to the beach when he heard a familiar voice call his name.
"Captain Kirk, may I have moment of your time?" Uhura asked very professionally, suddenly feeling like she was broadcasting a public service announcement.
Kirk turned around and looked at Uhura, motioning for her to step with him over to the low rock wall beside the steps and out of the traffic path. "Yes, Lieutenant?" he asked, trying to keep anything out of the tone of his voice. He did not want her to read how nervous he was.
"Sir, I found out that some friends of mine were trying to put me to bed last night after one drink too many and they hacked into your room instead of mine--4422 instead of 2244--apparently an easy mistake if you're plastered."
A surge of adrenaline rushed through Kirk's body. Could it really be so simple? Could he have managed to get himself back to his room to sleep off the effects of the liquor and the fog and just curled up to a warm body? A warm *naked* body?
"Lieutenant, I'd love to believe that for so many reasons, but we didn't actually wake up dressed from the night before…." He let Uhura finish his train of thought.
"True, sir. I don't know about you, but I would be willing to believe I got up at least once during the night and then considered I'd sleep better without so many clothes on," Ny offered reasonably.
"Do you think it could be that innocent, Lieutenant?" Kirk asked in relief and, if truth be told, with just a hint of regret in his voice.
"Yes sir, I do. We know we didn't go to your room together and we were both too drunk to even remember getting there. If I'm that drunk, then I'm dead to the world, sir," she grinned in embarrassed knowledge from previous experience.
Kirk sat down on the wall and thought hard for a moment--trying to decide if he believed her scenario or just wanted to believe it. Finally, sipping on his drink, he looked over at her before breaking into a rueful grin. "Well, I guess I'm happy about this. I know I've sworn off drinking for the rest of this leave. You want a sip of my juice?" he offered teasingly.
Surprising him with her bold action, Ny leaned in and sipped from his straw. "I made the same vow," she winked, "hmmm, it's good and sweet--just like you."
Kirk laughed, somehow not embarrassed by her direct flirt. "Why, thank you, I think." Looking over his shoulder for a glance at the westering sun, Kirk then looked back and fixed Uhura with a wistful smile. "Would you like to walk with me for awhile on the beach? It would be nice to spend some time in your company now that I'll remember it."
"I'd love to," Uhura grinned back, thinking the day might have merit after all.
McCoy still sat at the table on the patio and discreetly watched Kirk walk across the lobby to the juice bar and then toward the beach. 'At least Jim would get some sun,' he commiserated to himself. He saw Uhura come up to Kirk and they moved to the side of the walkway. Curiosity aroused, McCoy changed chairs to better see their exchange.
He could not hear the words--just watch their faces and read their body language. They were both tense at first, but during their conversation a sense of relief seemed to sweep over them. Then, in a move that nearly threw him out of his chair--Kirk offered her a sip from his drink and she took it! Whoa! Had the mystery lady been found? It was not much evidence to be sure, but Kirk was always extremely reserved with the beautiful communications officer--probably overcompensating for his attraction to her--and the intimacy of sharing the same straw was pretty telling to a psychologist.
Fascinated, he got out of his chair and walked to the top of the steps leading to the beach. He grinned as he watched them stroll along the surf. No, maybe not hand in hand, but definitely with the air of a couple enjoying leave--and wasn't that what shoreleave was supposed to be all about?