Bikini Atoll K/U [PG]

Image Courtesy of Anki

Disclaimer: Paramount owns Star Trek. I only own my fantasies.

The sky was turning a soft shade of violet as Uhura looked out the window of the condo she was sharing with Christine during shore leave. They were a part of the last shore party to enjoy some downtime on the beautiful blue-green planet of Beta Aquatine. The planet was noted for aqua farming, its amphibian population scattered throughout the many island chains encircling the planet. Tenga Yost was the largest of the islands and where she and Christine took up residence at one of the upper-end tourist resorts. Luxury must have required company, because most of the crew, including Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy, checked in as well.

Uhura sighed in relaxed bliss, intending to take a long, sensuous run in the soft light of dawn and enjoy the caress of the elements as they kissed her skin. Eager to greet the dawn, she turned away from the beckoning call of morning to quickly finish dressing. Too bad Christine did not share her enthusiasm for running--the sunrise was glorious.

~ ~ ~

"Why can't leave ever work out like I want it to?" Kirk sighed with a dramatic, but dejected air. He sat down on the beer cooler at his feet and leaned his head back against the condo wall. He shut his eyes, letting the coolness of the building seep into his aching head. He was afraid that McCoy's refusal to open the door was just the beginning of a day gone south...

"Dammit, Bones, you fell for the oldest trick in the book," Kirk mouthed disgustedly toward the open window just over his head. An awake, but hardly sober Starfleet CMO, lay just on the other side of the window.

"Well, Captain, you were there and I didn't see you tee-totaling either," McCoy moaned, not quite in the scathing tone he tried for. If he just kept his eyes shut the nausea was not so bad. Who counts drinks when you're on leave, especially when someone else is paying for 'em?

"Well, Doctor, I knew enough to remember we had to be on the beach by 0800--which, by the way, is thirty minutes from now," Kirk lobbed back testily to his supposed partner in the catamaran race they somehow found themselves entered into.

"I didn't agree to the bet, Jim, you did. Damn fool thing to do anyway. Why do you always rise to the bait those guys toss out?" McCoy muttered as he rubbed his temples gingerly.

"What bait? It's just a race between old friends, Bones. Don't you have something to take for that hangover?" Kirk tried to change the subject.

"No, I don't, at least nothing that's going to work fast enough to get me into that little boat. And yeah, those other guys are your best friends from the Academy, right? What delusion are you suffering from, Captain? Every one of them is so jealous of your rank and your ship that he can't see straight." McCoy thought if he just stuck to his guns, Kirk would finally see reason and leave him to his misery.

"Bones, you're the one who can't see straight," Kirk threw back in a huff. He would not comment on the motivations of the other officers, he just knew a wager was a wager. 'Why couldn't Spock or Scotty be planet-side this shore leave?' he thought petulantly. Who else was here that he could talk into sailing with him in exactly twenty-five minutes?

Just as Kirk opened his eyes, Lieutenant Uhura jogged into view, the slap of her shoes echoing off the tiled foyer. Apparently she had been for an early morning run and was just returning to the condo across from McCoy's. The captain sat up as Uhura became aware of him sitting in the breezeway. She was slick with sweat, her tank top clinging to every curve.

"Captain, are you okay?" The communications officer asked cautiously. She was not expecting to see the captain camped out in front of her apartment. Just as Kirk was attempting to reply, a disembodied voice assailed her through the open window above him.

"No, my dear, he's not and neither am I. You'd better keep going now if you don't want to be shanghaied before breakfast, "McCoy drawled in misery. The mere mention of food made his stomach roil.
Kirk stood up and threw an annoyed look through the open window at the shadowy figure lying on the couch before trying to answer again. "I'm fine, Lieutenant, but the good doctor has bailed on me at the last minute. A two-member sailboat team from the Enterprise has twenty minutes to get on the beach, or I forfeit too many things to mention."

He let loose his best smile and most entreating look. Uhura was Academy, which meant *she* knew how to sail; every underclassman crewed the old training schooner on at least one voyage before graduation. At this moment, Kirk did not care if she had only played with rubber ducks as a child in her bathtub.

"Would you be interested in a short race and then a day of pleasure sailing, Lieutenant?" He tried not to look impatient, but somebody needed to get to the beach or he was out some major commodities, some of which he possessed only in theory. It sounded good last night--and he still had no intention of losing--but he *must* have a partner.

"Uh, well, Captain, I'm hardly dressed for sailing right now and Christine and I are on the setup team for tonight's luau," Uhura stammered, shrugging her shoulders apologetically. She was soaked in sweat and her tank top was ickily clinging to every part of her.

Kirk acted as if she had not even spoken, "Good, I'll go stall for time on the beach while you change into--whatever." He motioned toward her door, trying to shoo her into action.

"Bones, since you can't meet your original obligation, you can help the Lieutenant meet hers. Help Nurse Chapel with anything she needs, wants, asks or thinks--that's an order. Consider yourself assigned KP for behavior unbecoming a doctor."

McCoy harrumphed from his make-shift bed, "too late, Uhura, you should've run when I told you. There's no dealing with him once he gets like this. He's even turning into Spock with this damn time count-down thing. And KP my Aunt Sally; when I can see straight, I'll show you how to roast a pig. Georgia barbecue is the best you'll ever taste-" with that thought McCoy's stomach made its final stand, causing the doctor to bolt for the bathroom.

Kirk turned from watching McCoy's kamikaze run for the head and seemed surprised to see Uhura still standing in front of him. "Go! We've got fifteen minutes to get to the beach before we forfeit." He looked appalled as he caught himself reciting the time again.

"I'll stall for as much time as I can," He called over his shoulder as he grabbed the cooler and ran for the beach. "God! How do I get myself into these things?" He muttered under his breath as he shifted the cooler to his shoulder and kept going.

Uhura stood in the breezeway, still dazed by what just happened. How had she let herself be conscripted for the day? It was not like the idea of sailing was bad or anything, but it would have been nice to actually have felt as if she got a choice in the matter.
Going inside to change, an evil gleam flashed in her eyes. "So that's the way we're playing, is it? Okay then, let's just see which bikini suits my mood...."

"Who are you talking to?" Christine muttered sleepily upon Uhura's entrance into the condo, a hot mug of coffee clutched in her hands as she teetered over to the couch and nestled into place.

"Uh, Christine, Doctor McCoy will be taking my place today for the luau setup," Uhura threw out nonchalantly as she quickly stripped off her running gear.

"What?" Chris shouted as she got up and came to the doorway of Uhura's room.

"Well, apparently I've been ordered to sub for the doctor today and he's been ordered to sub for me," Uhura clarified as she looked in her dresser and studied the bathing suits she bought for this leave.

"Ordered? Who ordered? You can't order something like that, can you?" Chris was totally confused.

"Ahhh, hmmm, well, if it wasn't an order, he missed a good chance." Uhura remarked dryly as she scrutinized each suit before picking the bronze metallic *almost* thong and its matching sarong wrap.

"He who? Captain Kirk?" Christine was still playing catch up.

"Yes, ma'am," Uhura acknowledged as she slid into the outfit and tied the wrap low over her hips. "Doctor McCoy got too drunk to sail in some race he and the captain are supposed to compete in this morning. I was 'lucky' enough to get back from my run just in time for the captain to decide I was a fair substitute." She rolled her eyes in the mirror as she brushed back her hair and pulled on a sun visor.

"Oh, I'm with you now. And that little CFM suit you're wearing is your way of getting even, right?" Christine looked meaningfully at the skimpy suit Nyota wore as she began tossing some odds and ends into her beach bag.

"This little ol' thing?" Uhura vamped innocently, "No way; I would have worn the pink one for that." She smiled wickedly.

"Yeah, you're practically wearing a burkha," Chris replied sarcastically.

"Oops, my ten minutes are up; gotta go defend our honor. Make sure Doctor McCoy helps you. The Captain told him explicitly to meet your every need--so today would be a great day to be 'needy', Christine. See you tonight!" Uhura called over her shoulder as she headed out the door.

"You'd better!--And bring the Captain--make it a part of the deal or something. Anyway, have a great time. You know, he probably didn't even realize how he said it!" Christine yelled at her back.

"Oh, yes he did, he doesn't want to lose the bet. You *know* how he is. And I *will* have a good time; I just have to make a point first." Uhura grinned mischievously before disappearing around the corner of the breezeway.

"Can you keep it to a dull roar out there?" McCoy called from his spot across the hallway.

"No problem, Doctor," Christine quipped back. "I believe the Captain said I had your complete cooperation today. Isn't that right?" She asked cheerily, already plotting a ton of chores for the good doctor.

~ ~ ~

Uhura slowed as she came within sight of the four catamarans beached in the sand. Each boat was being tended by its two-man team, except the last one-just one man was stowing gear and slipping a cooler in its ready-made slot near the stern.

She took a moment to study the captain without his knowledge. He wore a pair of navy blue shorts and an unbuttoned, short-sleeved white cotton shirt. The contrast of the bright white and his tan skin was a pleasant sight. He glanced her way and stood transfixed, drawing the other men's attention to her.

Uhura did not increase her pace but she did put more seduction into her walk. She remembered how the men of Enterprise stared at Harry Mudd's mail-order brides and here she was, getting the same look.
As she stepped next to Kirk he slowly raised his gaze and she thought he said," Oh my God, we're not in Kansas anymore."

"What, Captain?" Uhura asked innocently. She really did not understand his reference, but the look on his face told her plenty.

"Uh, right," he muttered to himself and then seemed to shake himself out of a fog. He leaned down, whispering so no one else could hear, "You're the evil twin, right? I want my sweet Lieutenant Uhura back."

"She's on shoreleave, Captain. I think you're stuck with me--sorry," she said brightly, no trace of apology in her voice.

"That suit's not even regulation--it'll probably dissolve when it gets wet," he hissed quietly.

"Did I mention we're on shoreleave, Captain? Regulations are better left onboard. You *did* say for me to change into 'whatever'. Well, this is it. I'm not sure about the dissolving thing; I guess we'll have to wait and see--"

"Hey, Kirk!! You gonna introduce us to your first mate?" a tall, ruddy-faced man yelled from the next boat.

"Sure, Mazetti, "Kirk turned and answered smoothly, not about to let the others see how rattled he felt.

"Captain Mazetti and Commander Tran, I'd like to introduce my chief communications officer, Lieutenant Uhura." Kirk acted as if he were in a routine briefing.

"Lieutenant, my pleasure. Jim, I think you came out better with McCoy getting sick," the other captain stated slyly; he wished his communications officer looked like the vision in front of him.

"Why thank you, Captain," Uhura beamed coquettishly, a totally vacant look on her face.

Kirk rolled his eyes and turned back to the boat. "You're enjoying this way too much, Lieutenant," Kirk commented sotto voce. Who *was* this woman?

"Oh, I've hardly started," Uhura said between clenched teeth as she smiled and waved to the ogling men near the other two boats.

"Fine--have fun--but make sure you remember we're here to win. And I'm on your team, so point that *talent* at the enemy over there." Kirk rubbed a hand over his eyes, like he was trying to wipe away the image of what was before him.

Pretending his action was a reaction to the bright sun, Uhura beamed back, "Yes, sir! Oh, you might try a few sun-drops in each eye to fight against the glare." She took a moment to protect her own eyes before giving the vial to Kirk. Uhura realized she unnerved him but was not ready to show mercy yet.
"Are we going to race or socialize?" Kirk challenged the other men. Somebody must get their attention; they were all still staring at Uhura.

"Oh, what? Oh yeah, race...I guess... if you're ready," Mazetti spoke distractedly, the woman in front of him was gorgeous, easily outclassing all the other females on the beach.

As they started to slide the boats into the surf, Tran almost rolled the boat over Mazetti, as he tried to watch Uhura push her side of the catamaran into the ocean. The smooth muscles of her arms and thighs stood out as she matched Kirk push for push.

Once in the water, Kirk helped Uhura aboard and swung himself over the side. They busied themselves with letting out the sail and easing out to the starting buoy. It would be a race around the eight buoys placed in the bay, requiring a certain amount of skill to tack through the course.

~ ~ ~

In the end it was a matter of determination. Only Mazetti and Tran were any competition, but that competition was now out in front and nearing the last buoy to tack against before the finish line.

Kirk held the rudder firm and let the sail take as much wind as it could; they were gaining on the other boat but not fast enough. If they did not get to the buoy first they would not have a clean line to cut around and head for the finish. To get there first they would have to go in too close to make the turn, but maybe....

"Lieutenant, do you want to take the rudder or be ballast?" Kirk yelled over the wind.

Uhura looked between Kirk, who was motioning toward the tiller or the starboard side of the catamaran, and the boat ahead of them. Watching their angle deteriorate, she knew what he planned and felt her stomach do a flip-flop.

"Do I lose anything in this wager?" she shouted, the terms of the contest suddenly taking on a whole new meaning.

"Definitely not--if we win," Kirk shouted back and laughed, the wind beating him relentlessly was invigorating.

"All right, then what do I get if we win?" she called out, the idea of their winning becoming real.

"Half the booty: romulan ale, real steaks, chocolate--"

"Okay, stop there. I'll take the chocolate and your attendance at tonight's luau--you keep everything else," she counter-offered. She would *swim* the course for chocolate and using her sudden leverage to coerce him into coming to the luau seemed perfectly fair.

He made a face at her before answering. "No fair! You're changing the terms mid-race."

"Fair's fair. I wasn't partner to those terms and didn't get to negotiate before now. Plus, I'm the evil twin, remember?"

"You're reminding me more and more. Okay, deal--chocolates and one luau," Kirk answered in a rush; he would worry about tonight later.

"In that case, I'll take the rudder and you can be ballast," Uhura laughed. She felt like she would have a better chance of cutting inside Mazetti's catamaran than she did holding the starboard side of the boat down when they made their move.

"I thought you'd prefer that." Kirk motioned Uhura back to take the tiller while he shrugged out of his shirt and stowed it under the seat.

"When we're about two lengths back, cut under him and lean hard. With this much wind I'm not sure we won't capsize anyway, ballast or not," Kirk said as he took his position on the starboard rail. The boat would swing up on one fin when Uhura cut the rudder and overfilled the sail. If she did not balance the rudder with Kirk's weight over the side, capsizing was a given.
As they neared their mark, Kirk grinned at Uhura, excitement tensing every muscle and flashing in his eyes. He was in his element, raw nerve and daring emanating from his very being. Uhura wished she could capture that picture with more than her memory, never having seen him so carefree and alive.

"NOW!" he shouted, and Uhura cut the rudder sharply.

The sail cracked loudly as it took on more wind than it was meant to handle. The starboard fin jumped out of the water and Kirk leaned himself backward over the rail, holding onto a secure line and using his body as ballast to hold the craft in a precarious balance. It worked! They were able to cut under Mazetti's line and were now only a hundred yards from the finish line.

As she completed their sweep around the buoy, Uhura cut the rudder back, watching as the starboard fin eased into the water and Kirk pulled himself vertical with the help of the rope. The effort caused his abs and shoulders to bunch; the depth of muscle was appealing to her. It was rare she got the opportunity to admire his body without being covert in her appreciation. And now, here he was down to a pair of shorts and oblivious to her scrutiny. The reality of him coming to sit beside her in the stern brought Uhura out of her trance.

"Great job, Lieutenant, we've just got to hold it steady and we've won!" Kirk shouted, grabbing her in a one-armed hug in his excitement. Uhura grinned back fiercely, caught up in the rush of his enthusiasm.

At the end there was no need for a photo finish but their victory dance nearly sent them both over the edge. Righting himself, Kirk dropped sail to wait for the others. "Oh well, that wouldn't do as they come to pay their homage to the victors." Kirk tried to sound dignified but the gloating tone was unmistakable.

"I don't know about that. Right now I bet they all wish you were in the drink," Uhura teased.

"Lieutenant, haven't you learned about the dangers of betting? It can be a costly vice--just ask these guys." Kirk chuckled as Mazetti and Tran pulled alongside.

"Okay, Kirk, you won with that crazy stunt out there. But it worked and that's all that matters. Do you want our cut planet-side or beamed to the Enterprise?" Mazetti sighed in disgust while Tran looked positively sick and just sat silently in the bow.

"To the Enterprise, please. Mister Spock will find it 'interesting' I'm sure." Kirk grinned in consideration of that upcoming lecture--one of many this race was sure to produce.

"My dear, that was one hell of a risk you took. Kirk can throw himself in the ocean if he wants but I'm glad you didn't go with him," Mazetti offered gallantly with a small bow.

"Why thank you, Captain Mazetti, that's so sweet of you to say," Uhura replied in a voice thick with honey.

Kirk shook his head at her continued acting career and spoke up. "Mazetti, we'd love to stay and chat but I promised the Lieutenant a day of sailing. Be a good sport and handle the details with Telarg and Jevissipik when they show up, okay?"

"Fine, Jim, I'll take care of it. Just be sure you show the Lieutenant a good time. I'd hate to hear that reputation of yours was just a bunch of hot air!" The older captain goaded, yelling across the distance after Kirk raised sail once again.

Kirk waved a hand in acknowledgement, but the reputation comment touched a sensitive spot. He angled the catamaran out toward open water and looked teasingly at Uhura. "All right, Lieutenant, you've got a whole ocean to choose from; any place in particular you want to go?"

"One of the resort staff told me of an atoll out a few miles. It's supposed to be a great place to snorkel and picnic," she offered as suggestion. Snorkeling was not mentioned previously, but seeing gear lashed in the bow of the boat, Uhura decided to take advantage of it.

"Okay, atoll it is," Kirk agreed, having gotten the same suggestion from the rental agent but keeping it to himself.

~ ~ ~

The catamaran skimmed over the water, barely cutting the surface. Kirk sat in the stern and held course for the atoll. It was easy to spot once they broke out of the bay. Uhura sat in the bow of the boat and leaned back, soaking up the sun. She might not need to work on her tan, but the sun was so relaxing it nearly put her to sleep. She closed her eyes and drifted on the edge of consciousness.

Kirk watched Uhura sunbathe and then wished he had not. It was difficult to see her as 'just crew' when she lay draped across the forward seat in nearly nothing. Her figure was exquisite: large, firm breasts, a taut stomach and voluptuous hips. Her legs were sensual and well defined from the running she enjoyed. The delicious curve of her exposed neck called to him. He looked out over the sea and tried to focus on anything other than the beauty before him.

He thought about the party tonight and considered how to get out of that obligation. He felt a brief appearance would be sufficient, leaving the crew to their choice of debaucheries without feeling stifled by his presence, just as he didn't plan to indulge his in their purview. No, this shoreleave would probably include rest, but little else. The ratio of men to women was woefully tilted in the women's favor and unfortunately, most of those were 'fleet. He knew they joked about his interest in alien women, but at least they usually did not end up stationed on your bridge....

~ ~ ~

The catamaran made good time toward the atoll's shallows, kicking up a spray of coolness as Kirk guided the craft through a break in the reef. A somewhat bigger wave came over the rail, dousing the drifting Uhura. Her yelp of surprise drew his attention, if not his sympathy.

"Ah, did the *little lady* get wet?" he asked just a tad too innocently. At least the bikini seemed to remain insolvent; a discovery Kirk was not sure made him happy or sad.

"I did lay it on a bit thick, didn't I?" Uhura laughed guiltily at Kirk's sarcasm.

"Oh, I'm sorry--were you acting, Lieutenant?" Kirk deadpanned, splitting his attention between Uhura and the sharp rocks he was navigating.

"Maybe not, sir, I might enjoy this persona on the Bridge too." Uhura quipped, welcoming the banter.

"I bet you'd just *love* her on gamma shift," he fired back pointedly, "I know I would."

"Fine, sir, she's gone once we beam back aboard," Uhura pouted dramatically.

"I knew you'd see it my way, Lieutenant," Kirk said brightly, doing a fair imitation of her earlier act as he dropped both sail and anchor.

"All right, it's not lunch time yet. Do you want to go snorkeling now or explore the island?" Kirk asked just a tad more seriously, taking a moment to look around and get a sense of what was around them.

"Oh, definitely snorkel," Uhura voted eagerly, watching Kirk lock the craft down like he did it everyday.

"Good choice," Kirk grinned as he motioned for her to pull the gear from the bow of the boat.

He stood and unzipped his shorts, sliding them off and tucking them with his shirt. Uhura immediately noticed Kirk's swimming trunks were not regulation either but rather a pair of low-cut blue briefs--a very flattering pair of blue briefs. Her eyes did a once-over of their own volition as she reminded herself to breathe.

Finally finding her voice, Uhura mocked his earlier critique of her own outfit. "Lets hope *they* don't dissolve in water."

Kirk laughed unselfconsciously. He had known that jibe was coming. Even so, he felt as if he had on more clothes than she did. Dressing this morning thinking it would just be McCoy, himself and the sun was now totally beside the point. Working on his tan was paramount on his mind then, and now it was too late to do anything other than just grin and bear it.

"We're on shore leave, remember? Regulations are better left on board, remember?" He tossed Uhura's own words back at her, grinning wickedly as he slipped on his fins and wet his mask.

"Absolutely--and you are *so* lucky I don't have a 'corder with me," Uhura fired back as she donned her own gear.

"What makes you think I don't have one? *I* wasn't the one who took a nap on the way here..." Kirk pointed out casually. Seeing the flash of alarm light up her face, Kirk winked before he pulled down his mask and dropped into the sparkling water below.

"I never get mad, but I do get even." Nyota mouthed sotto voce before joining him in the water.

~ ~ ~

The ocean was warm and clear. One could see from one side of the reef to the other in their little sheltered lagoon. They snorkeled up and down the reef, scaring all kinds of alien aquatic creatures in their journey. It was sad neither of them really possessed a 'corder because some of what they saw merited permanent cataloging.

On their return pass along the reef wall, Kirk flipped onto his back, perching his mask atop his head as he drifted in the gentle swell. He closed his eyes against the full-on glare of the sun, a serene smile playing across his lips. If he could just go to sleep without drowning, he would be content to float here for hours.

He glanced over at Uhura, noticing how she was slowly moving closer to the break in the reef where the swell pushed in over the coral. Sighing softly at his need to move on, he pulled down his mask and caught up, taking her hand in his to keep her away from the sharp coral in the rougher water. The exotic colors of animal and plant life so near the fissure made it worth the extra risks of the razor-edged coral and constant buffeting.

The chop of the water made it hard to focus but not too hard to see the large, dark shadow glide by in the gloom of the deeper water on the other side of the break. Whatever it was, predator or sea-grazer, it was too large to enter the fracture in the reef. As it was bad form to get killed by an alien life-form while you were on leave, it made them both appreciate the 'prediban' chips embedded in their face masks. The chips emitted a strong deterrent to most of the native sea predators.

Uhura popped up for air, startled by the giant shadow. Kirk broke the surface too when he felt Uhura's resistance to continuing. "Did you see that?" She asked with just a tad of excitement in her voice. The shadow came back from the other direction, still indistinct but seeming to slow near the hole in the reef.

"If you mean *that*, then yes, I did," Kirk answered as the shadow passed once again. He started to slowly move away from the break, pulling Uhura with him, his strong grip belying the nonchalance of his comment. She did not have a problem keeping pace. Once it became apparent the shadow could not--or would not-- pursue them, Kirk let go of Uhura's hand. "Are you ready to eat yet?" He asked, changing the subject yet still glancing toward the dark water as he spoke.

"That sounds like a plan," Uhura agreed quickly, her curiosity about sea life waning tremendously.

"All right, last one to the boat has to set up!" Kirk challenged as he launched himself toward the catamaran.

"That's not fair!" Uhura ranted in the splash of Kirk's strong kick but threw herself into game pursuit.

Uhura was an excellent swimmer, having spent a good deal of her summers on her older brother's fishing boats. However, so was Kirk and his extra muscle easily out-distanced her shorter stroke. Uhura came in strongly, allowing her splash to splatter Kirk's face. She touched the catamaran and held on to catch her breath. "Oh, so now who doesn't like to lose?" Kirk goaded as he rolled away from her splash and tried to give her an irked glare.

"That would still be you, Captain." Uhura fired back just a little more sharply than she intended.

"True, but I think I have some company, Lieutenant. In any case, why don't I help with lunch?" Kirk swam up alongside, grinning boyishly at her, earning him a return smile.

"That works better, sir." Uhura acknowledged the truce as she tossed her gear into the boat and pulled herself over the railing.

Kirk was glad he was still in the water. The sight of Uhura's glistening body rising out of the water sent a jolt deep through his groin. He pretended to have problems with his fins so he could take a moment to get himself under better control. His own wardrobe would only enhance any state of excitement.

In anticipation of Kirk pulling himself into the catamaran, Uhura moved over to the far side of the boat. She felt her own thrill of excitement as she watched him ease himself over the lip of the craft. Even on the Bridge she always appreciated the breadth of his shoulders, but now, with him standing in front of her, Uhura turned away to keep her gaze from giving herself away. Reaching over to grab her sarong wrap and tying it about her hips, she was thankful he could not see the blush she felt rise to her cheeks.

She quickly set herself to the task of stowing their snorkeling gear. Kirk pulled on his shorts before lifting anchor and allowing the sail to catch just enough wind to run the catamaran onto the beach. They worked silently, both well aware of the awkwardness between them and needing a minute to regain their composure.

Feeling a little surer of herself, Uhura broke the silence. "What do we have for lunch?" she asked, running ahead and spreading the waterproof tarp under a fuchsia-tufted tree.

"I have no idea, I traded out coolers when I signed out the boat," Kirk said as he grabbed the cooler and walked toward the shaded spot she had chosen.
"I told them lunch and drink for two, as I didn't recall you being much of a beer drinker." He explained as he started to pull items out of the cooler.

"Okay, lets see...we have bottled water, some red wine, sandwiches, chips and, oh, what's this? Chocolate-covered strawberries for dessert." He teased her with the treat before tucking them back inside to stay cold. Everyone on ship knew she was a chocoholic in the worst way. Kirk sat back and laughed, knowing that if he wasn't careful, she would not only get her share, but his too.

~ ~ ~

Lunch was lovely. The sandwiches were good, the wine was excellent and the strawberries...well, they were decadent. Uhura giggled as she snitched the last bit of chocolate off the now-empty platter. Kirk was a gentleman, claiming he was content with just two of the juicy berries. Uhura allowed him to be a gentleman as she gorged herself on the other six. She did not feel too badly; she let him have her chips and the crusts off her bread--quite a fair exchange in her opinion.

She leaned over on her side and rested her head in her hand, content to stretch out and savor the last of the wine. The familiar chirping noise coming from her bag still tucked under the seat on the catamaran was not a part of her plans for the afternoon. Making a face at the interruption to their lunch, Uhura dutifully got up to answer the call.

"Lieutenant Uhura here," she reported with just a bit of irritation in her voice.

"Lieutenant, I am attempting to contact the Captain; Doctor McCoy informed me he was last seen in your company."

"Yes, Mister Spock, he's here; just a moment." She handed the comm over to Kirk, who looked thoroughly caught at being tracked down by his first officer.

"Kirk here, what is it Mister Spock?"

"Captain, Special Agent Jansen has become rather insistent that I allow him to inspect "the booty" as he calls it, the provisions beamed over by Captains Mazetti, Telarg and Jevissipik." The mildness of tone did not hide any of the disdain the Vulcan had for being caught up in the middle of a conflict between the Internal Affairs officer and his captain.

"Well too bad for him. He can wait until I get back to shore," Kirk remarked testily. Uhura's ears pricked at the exchange between her commanding officers; there appeared to be another order of business she was not privy to.

"Affirmative, Captain; however, Agent Jansen has felt the need to call the Admiralty regarding the delay." Another reason for Spock's sufferance became clear, Admiral Komack was now in the mix.

"And? Have we heard from them?" Kirk's own tolerance for the circumspect conversation was waning.

"We have. Since you seemed to have forgotten your communicator, I took the liberty of handling their call. We've been ordered to cooperate to the fullest by Admiral Komack. He was not pleased you were unavailable." Kirk just bet he was not.

"I'm sorry, Mister Spock, I don't know what came over me to have forgotten my communicator like that." The words sounded sincere even if the tone fell short.

"Considering it is against regulations not to have a communicator in your possession while planet-side, I am at a loss in understanding it myself." His reprimand and forgiveness subtly expressed all in one sentence.

"I guess I just got overwhelmed by the excitement of the race," Kirk continued too innocently.

"Indeed; one would not assume it was an attempt to show his displeasure at being conscripted for a mission during shore leave," the futile beginnings of a lecture coming anyway.

"And a distasteful one at that; no, Mister Spock, one should not assume that." Kirk grumbled into the communicator as he paced along the shore.

"As I explained to the Admiral and Agent Jansen."

"Thank you, Mister Spock; I appreciate your diplomacy, as always." Uhura fought hard to suppress a snicker at how Kirk managed to sound both flippant and contrite at the same time.

Returning back the business at hand, Spock asked, "Captain, when may I allow Agent Jansen to inspect the commodities in question?"

"Are they still in stasis in bay three?"

"Yes sir, as per your orders."

Kirk stopped stalking the beach, his own tone now serious, "Good; tell Agent Jansen we're on our way back and I'll beam up with him. Under no circumstances will you allow him aboard before I give the command to beam up--and conduct your own discreet scans in the mean time. I want to know what he is after."

"I will relay the message, Captain. He will not be pleased by the delay."

"Understood, Mister Spock, I'm not pleased to have my day interrupted either. Kirk out."

"So, you ready to call it a day, Lieutenant?" Kirk looked over to the patiently waiting officer as if she knew what Spock and he were talking about.

Lost to the specifics, but realizing the party was over, Uhura began to stow their picnic gear as she answered. "Looks like we have no choice, sir; might I inquire as to what is happening?"

"I'll tell you as much as I know-which isn't much. Special Agent Jansen, of Internal Affairs, 'requested' that I get myself into a bet with some of the other captains-being sure to offer some 'off-manifest' goods in the wager." Kirk explained while helping remove their footprint from the tiny atoll.

"Off manifest? Contraband? Is he after smugglers, sir? Does he think one of our ships is running contraband?" The idea of a fleet ship smuggling shocked Uhura.

"Lieutenant, we *all* run contraband in the strictest sense-Romulan ale, Deltan chocolates-just to name a few indulgences. I don't know what, or which ship really has his attention, but he was pretty emphatic we cooperate." The pointed look that accompanied his remark made it crystal clear Uhura was glad she had not been privy to that conversation.

"Did he plan out the race?"

Tossing the cooler into its slot on the boat and lashing down their other gear, Kirk continued the story of how the plot thickened. "No, we just winged that; old classmates, stiff drinks, it doesn't take long for someone to get rowdy and stir up some competition."

"Sounds like Agent Jansen got lucky."

Shoving the boat off the beach and back into the lagoon, Kirk looked a bit put out at Uhura's assessment. "Lieutenant, luck has nothing to do with it. He picked the Enterprise to win so there was never any doubt. Now let's get back to the resort before Jansen calls Komack again; I would like another shore leave sometime before I retire."


They made the journey in relative silence, the laid back attitude of their morning nowhere to be found on the return trip to the resort. Regardless of his complaint about having his leave interrupted, Uhura surmised what truly rankled Kirk was the idea that one of their own could really be guilty of something like smuggling.

As they neared the beach Uhura could see a light-haired man pacing along the shore. Kirk drove the catamaran straight in, not directly aiming for the man Uhura suspected was Agent Jansen, but close enough to make a point.

"Kirk! You were supposed to come straight back after the race-not go on your way for a merry ole time." Jansen seethed as he raked his eyes over Kirk and Uhura, letting his opinion of their day trip bleed all over his face.

Uhura didn't like it; *she* might have started the day as a bit of a tart, but she did not like this man making any assumptions about her. She watched as Kirk gave the agent a considered look. His eyes were shuttered but Uhura could tell that Jansen was about one remark away from being put on his butt.

"I don't know what you're so upset about, Jansen, we won-we have the goods in question aboard the Enterprise-" Kirk started, successfully swallowing his anger if not his condescension.

"And your First Officer refuses to let me aboard to inspect anything. In fact, right now he won't even acknowledge my calls." Jansen interrupted, getting even more irate at Kirk's flip tone.

"Really? Lieutenant, do you think you might solve Agent Jansen's communications issue?" Kirk asked Uhura calmly, as if the man weren't fuming six inches from his face, impotently brandishing his silent communicator.

"Of course, sir, that shouldn't be a problem," Uhura answered in the same innocent tone. She wasn't sure exactly what Kirk's game was, but she had a good idea. She reached out and plucked the communicator from Jansen's hand as she stepped out of the catamaran.

"Enterprise-juno baker-Big Kahuna calling." She grinned an apologetic smile at Kirk as she used his code name after the security tag so Enterprise would scramble their message and authenticate the foreign transmission.

"Sorry, sir, we're still utilizing Mister Mitchell's security code names," she whispered to Kirk after he let out a heavy sigh.

"Enterprise here," Spock promptly replied before Kirk had a chance to respond to what he thought about Gary's whimsical list of nicknames for the captain. Uhura had no doubt that one of his first orders after leave would be to trash Gary's codes and have Spock compile something a bit more dignified.

"Standby for the Captain, Mister Spock," Uhura answered with a smug smile at the surprised and perturbed agent before handing the comm to Kirk.

"Spock, Agent Jansen says you have been ignoring him. Surely that isn't the case, is it?" His brow wrinkled in a concerned moue.

"No sir, however, he was not using a secure frequency when attempting to contact us. Regulation four three six, subparagraph eight, clearly states that any communication during an investigation must be secured-"

"Kirk! Don't play games with me. I'm warning you that I will cite you for obstruction-" Jansen shoved his face back into Kirk's, fairly shaking in rage.

"Agent Jansen, don't threaten something you can't deliver; Mister Spock was obeying regulations. You can argue it however you care to, but I'm sure a review board would see it was better to err on the side of caution rather than tip off the very people you're investigating." Not flinching, Kirk's eyes locked with the IAB investigator's--the fa‡ade of humor gone.

Verbally stepping between the two angry humans, Spock cautioned, "Captain, I do recommend that you and Agent Jansen beam aboard as soon as possible. The preliminary scans you ordered are highly unsettling."

"What did you find, Spock?" Jansen dismissed, all of Kirk's attention suddenly focused on Spock's warning.

"Lieutenant, which algorithm are we using for this communication? Spock queried Uhura, the hesitancy in his voice unnerving her about his discovery.

"A non-repeating heximal-lingual cipher, Mister Spock, invasion orders would be safe on this frequency." For Spock to question her meant he was extremely concerned about who might hear what he was about to say.

"Very well; Captain, we are picking up extremely minute traces of polysaccri-phenylcyclohexylpiperidine, colloquially known as Fairy Dust."

Kirk's eyes flashed alarm and his posture became less aggressive toward Jansen as the enormity of what the agent was tracking sunk in. "Fairy dust?" Kirk asked incredulously as Jansen took on the stance of someone vindicated. "Spock, are you sure?"

"Affirmative, Captain, while the scans are preliminary in nature due to the screening behavior of the stasis field, there is no doubt as to what they have detected." In fact, he had triple-checked his findings.

"Fine, Kirk, happy now?--glad you gave the bad guys some extra hours of freedom? What if they're selling their stash right now down here on the streets? Imagine being addicted to something after just one sprinkle. Imagine a whole room full of innocent bystanders deliberately and irrevocably addicted at a party because somebody wants to drum up a little more business.
"A two-hour euphoria tied to a lifetime of hunting for that next fix. But don't worry, because after six months or so, you have to inhale so much of it to get high that your heart just explodes in your chest. If you're lucky you don't last that long--or ever get busted and have to go without.

"Ever seen someone going through dust withdrawal, Kirk? It's not pretty; they scream nonstop for the first few hours as their jones increases. Next, the intractable seizures start-usually they die of an embolus or aneurysm-since one of the side effects is blood vessel damage--but it may take days.

"I'll take you with me as we back track the destruction of what one kilo of dust can do: steal from your boss-your family-sell your kids-sell your wife-all for the high of a lifetime-a very short lifetime.

"We've narrowed it down to three ships, but I needed a legitimate reason to search any of them. My only hope was picking up a trace of something on the goods you won that I could follow back to a specific ship."

Uhura blanched as she listened to Jansen's words, his face twisted by the pain of seeing such death and depravity happen over and over, his voice tinged with more than a bit of desperation.

Kirk's own face became stone as he listened to Jansen's indignation. "Spock, shut down ventilation on bay three, shields or not, I want no chance of anything escaping into the ship."

Anticipating such an order, Spock acknowledged, "I have already taken that precaution, Captain."

"Very good; get ready to beam Jansen and myself up on my signal. Standby." Kirk stepped over to Uhura, fixing her with a rueful smile. "Lieutenant, I'm sorry but I don't think you're going to get any of that chocolate now."

"Understood, Captain, sounds like I don't really want it either, sir." She shuddered at what she might have gotten along with the sugar high of the chocolate.

"Very true, Lieutenant," he answered in a tired voice as he stepped next to Jansen and called for beam out.


The luau was still lively but definitely on the decline from its zenith as Uhura made another pass through the crowd. She was enjoying taking candid shots of everyone having a good time. With the vid cam clipped to her ear, the tiny boom could be lowered in front of her eye, using her own POV to capture whatever imagery she found interesting. If she had the focal arm pushed up out of the way, it blended with her hair, becoming invisible.

Earlier she had captured McCoy's 'unveiling' of the pig as the pit was uncovered and the delicious meat was pulled from the bone. Christine said he whined most of the day about a headache but after the sun dropped behind the horizon he seemed to find his second wind and finally get into the spirit of the occasion. And speaking of spirits, after tasting his version of rum punch, Uhura wasn't sure how long any of them would be standing.

Now, having eaten her fill, Uhura was devoting her attention to capturing images of the party, something to tide her over during future long missions. She spied their newest ensign, Pavel Chekov, doing an enthusiastic flame dance in an attempt to wow his audience. She did not know the young ensign well, he had yet to make it to his rotation on the bridge, but his ongoing spiel that the Polynesians came from Mother Russia made him a definite addition to her collection.

Sulu was busy showing everyone how to do the limbo and Uhura made sure she got footage of the helmsman crawling along the sand as he slithered under a stick less than a foot off the ground. His sweat-drenched face a mask of concentration as he inched his supple body under the bar by the strength of his toes alone. 'Yes,' she thought dreamily to herself, 'these pics would definitely be enjoyed again and again'... .

The beach was littered with bonfires and tiki torches, casting everyone in warm glow or dark shadow. She looked around, convinced that something was missing and realized that Kirk had yet to make an appearance. How involved Jansen would expect Kirk to become was a mystery to her. She could only imagine what was going on aboard ship: confirmation and confiscation by IAB of the illegal drug, tracing back which ship beamed it over, the intense decontamination that the Enterprise would undergo before either Kirk or Spock were content. Hopefully, Jansen would take the dust and leave once he had evidence of where it came from.
She looked toward the darkness of the beach, the hairs at the nape of her neck suddenly standing on end at the sense of a brooding presence just outside the boundaries of the bonfire. She dropped her lens down in front of her eye and waited in readiness. Like a phantom, Kirk stalked into the firelight, his long, lean stride sensual as he stole within the edge of the fire's brilliance, his stare singularly intent on something or someone. Uhura felt as if his hungry eyes looked straight through her, but for the moment she thought him blinded by the glare of the fire. She stood transfixed as he moved closer to the flames; the play of the firelight capturing him in an abstract of blood-orange flame and stark shadow. She held her breath and hoped the 'corder captured every nuance of his arrival, now wearing an unbuttoned tropical shirt over a pair of low-riding khaki shorts, his hair wind-tossed and falling casually over his brow.

She continued to watch from the far side of the luau grounds as Kirk scanned the crowd, definitely looking for someone. Uhura shifted to get an unobstructed shot with her 'corder and his eyes found hers, making her realize with a sudden chill that she was his quarry. She could only watch, mesmerized as he approached like some golden god carved from the shadows and kissed by the fire. As he neared, she pushed the lens back into her hair, keeping this recording to herself. For a moment she understood the attraction Rand had confessed to her. He *was* handsome, and undeniably sexy, but the passion of his personality put the bonfires to shame. You had to be careful of such a flare.

To cover her momentary fluster, Uhura greeted him before he could speak. "I'm glad to see you could make it, Captain."

At her words he visibly checked himself, transforming from hunter to commanding officer with a subtle squaring of his shoulders. "It would appear to be the only part of your winnings you'll get to keep, Lieutenant." He finished with a wan smile.

"So, it was as bad as Agent Jansen feared, sir?" She asked quietly--no one was nearby but still she instinctively lowered her voice.

"It was Tran--I've known him since the Academy," he bit out by way of an answer, shock and disbelief still in his voice at who was in custody.

Uhura's mind flashed to the man Kirk introduced to her this morning. His shy, stammered greeting was not what she would have expected from a drug lord. "Was anyone else involved?" As first officer of his ship, he was in a perfect position to set up cover for 'off the book' operations.

"It doesn't look like it. Mazetti wasn't but that won't save his career. His first officer being able to carry on such activities without his knowledge doesn't speak well for his command abilities. Internal Affairs can't believe he didn't know. I can't tell if they're happy or not that it just seems to be Tran." He glanced at the bonfire, losing himself for a moment in the leaping flames.

"What's going to happen now, sir?" She prompted, sensing his hesitancy.

Coming back to the present, Kirk outlined the official game plan with little enthusiasm. "Tran is in custody. Mazetti is on administrative leave pending an inquiry. The Komodo is quarantined until it can be scrubbed and certified safe or it will be scrapped. Her crew is being interrogated to make sure no one else is involved and then they will be reassigned."

Uhura's face blanched at how quickly a ship and her crew were scuttled--hardly six hours to devastate sixty lives. "Does anyone else know yet?"

"No one down here does. Spock is directing the hazmat team on the Enterprise. Those on duty know Internal Affairs was looking for something and found it. They seemed relieved to see Jansen take it and go. Only you and Spock know the rest and Starfleet would prefer it stay that way."

"I'm sure." Uhura answered all too knowingly of how Starfleet would prefer to keep its reputation unsullied. Moving from intrigue to the practical, she asked, "Have you eaten anything? Doctor McCoy's barbeque is delicious."

"Actually, I'm starved, but really not in the mood for a party, Lieutenant. I only came because I promised you I'd make an appearance," he confessed with a weary smile.

Trying to lighten the mood and get Kirk back into a shore leave frame of mind, she answered, "So? You don't have to party. I can go get you a plate and a drink and meet you out on the beach. Then you can have the best of both--good food and no crowds."

His eyes flicked in irritation at her attempt to nurture him, but he only shrugged his shoulders, realizing he wasn't angry with her--just the whole sorry situation. "Maybe another time, Lieutenant, I'm not fit company tonight. I think I'll just grab something and take it up with me."

"That's okay, sir, I certainly understand." She smiled to cover her disappointment. He was the captain again; her earlier moment with just the man long past.

"Thank you, Lieutenant, goodnight." He nodded once as he bid his leave of her.

"Goodnight, sir." She watched him walk toward the food-laden tables, speaking but never stopping as he returned the greetings of surprised crew.

"Lieutenant, I'm ready for my close up!" shouted the young Russian as he tossed a flaming baton high into the air before running to do an aerial over Sulu's reset limbo stick, catching the brand just before it touched the sand at his feet.

She glanced over her shoulder, looking one last time at Kirk before giving in to the silliness of Chekov. "So I see, Ensign." She laughed loudly, flipping her lens back down in front of her eye--"so I see...."

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