Shore leave left Captain Jim Kirk both very excited to get away from his shipmates and very lonely for his shipmates. The contrast between never really being alone on the ship and being completely alone on Earth was startling. Perhaps that's why he couldn't help but seek out female companionship every time he stepped foot off of the Enterprise. Uhura called him despicable, but he found her relationship with his first officer just a disturbing.
For the third evening in a row, Jim Kirk was sitting at a bar in California, knocking back gin and listening to the conversations around him. An older man was complaining about the government. A young couple was having a spat. A group of middle-aged women was having a serious discussion, their heads bowed together. And Captain Kirk of StarFleet fame sat alone at the bar nursing a gin.
The door swung open and a disheveled young woman blew him. She was well-groomed and put together in a smart black blazer with jeans, but the wild look in her eye and grimace betrayed her true feelings. The newcomer took a seat at the bar one down, leaving an empty stool between her and Jim. "Hey, Lars. Hit me."
The bartender grinned and slid a shot of honey-colored brown liquor to her. "You got it, Jo." He had another poured and in front of her just as her empty shot glass hit the wood. "Bad day?" Lars asked knowingly.
Jim wondered if she was a regular, if the bartender was hitting on her, or both. The woman was quite attractive in a down-home way. Her freckles were the color of honey and her long curly hair the color of coffee. She was pleasantly curvy and looked like she could hold her own in a fight. Despite the worn-out look on her face, something sassy lie therein, and he had to get to know her. Everything about Jo, as the bartender had called her, was a magnet pulling Jim's attention. After years adventuring in space, he was looking for someone like her.
Rolled her eyes, the woman ran a hand through her hair and shrugged at the bartender. "Annoying day. One more."
Lars wiped his hands on his apron and raised an eyebrow. "You sure, Jo? Someone around to drive you home?"
"I don't need-" the woman started.
"I can drive the lady home if she needs," Jim spoke up. He grinned and raised a hand in greeting. "Jim Kirk. Hi. I've been there." Nodding toward his glass of gin, he shrugged. "Sometimes it's a three drink night."
Jo scrutinized Jim for a moment. "StarFleet, huh?"
Jim did a quick check of his wardrobe. No uniform, no insignia. "Yeah. How-?"
The woman grinned and shrugged. "I know some guys in StarFleet." Turning back to the bartender, she nodded. "Yep, this guy can give me a ride home. If he can fly through space, he can make it a few blocks over."
Lars chuckled and poured another shot. "Yes, ma'am."
"So, Jo?" Jim asked as the bartender turned to other customers.
"Jo," she confirmed. "And I'm drinking bourbon like a proper southern lady. And yes, you can buy me another one."
If there was something Captain Kirk enjoyed in a female, it was cutting straight to the chase. "Bourbon?" Jim replied in surprise. "It's usually grizzled old guys who drink bourbon." He made a mental note to casually sit up straighter.
"Bourbon," Jo nodded. "It's a drink worthy of the day I've had."
"Sorry to hear it," Jim groaned. "Care to share? I happen to be a great listener." He flashed a smile and leaned on his elbow.
"It all started last week when I up and quit my job – hell, my life – on Cerberus," she began.
For the next two hours, Jim listened to the charming woman describe her life. She was a natural storyteller: her eyes crinkling in delight at happy memories while her lip curled in contempt for the retelling of her hellish job.
"So your job at the hospital sucked. You quit and moved back to Earth with no game plan. Ever thought of joining StarFleet? We can always use nurses," Jim suggested.
"Nice try," Jo scoffed. "Like I haven't heard that a thousand times. No, thank you. I know too much about StarFleet to want to join."
"I, uh, I'm actually captain of the Enterprise." Jim grinned. "We're on shore leave at the moment."
After chatting with a female for that long, Jim would usually try to usher her back to his room or invite himself to her place. This time, however, he was genuinely interested in what she had to say. Something about Jo seemed familiar, but nowadays most humans he encountered did. Especially American humans. Especially American humans who drank bourbon and felt like an old friend.
"Uh huh," Jo nodded. Over the course of the night her panicked expression had been soothed and she now wore a small smirk. "Well, Mr. Captain of the Enterprise, why don't we have one more drink, then you can drop me off at my place?" Before he could answer, she repeated, "Yes, drop me off. I may not have a job, but I'm meeting an old friend for breakfast in the morning."
The outright rejection stung a bit, but didn't deter Jim. He motioned for another round of drinks. "Sure. You're here in town for a while?"
"Maybe," Jo replied. A mischievous smirk passed her face. "Maybe not."
"All right," Jim conceded as drinks appeared before them. "You don't want to tell me. I get it.
"It all depends on what I wake up in the morning and think about you." She downed her drink and shrugged. "A smart girl doesn't make these sort of judgments when she has a belly full of bourbon." She reached into her bag and pulled out a notepad. "Give me your number and I'll let you know in the morning whether I'm going to be in town or not."
Jim barely slept.
The woman smiled and wove tales through his mind all night. Her bouncing chocolate hair looked so soft that he reached out to caress it, but woke up and found himself touching the cold pillow next to him.
He groaned and ran his hand over his face. Damn. That girl. Why was Jo so appealing? Was it the thrill of the chase? No, it was something different. He had to know her. More stories. More laughs. More bourbon.
When his communicator buzzed, Jim's head snapped up to search for his phone. It was blinking on his nightstand. He half rolled, half stumbled out of bed, unable to move fast enough. An unknown number blinked up at him and sent his heart pounding. Slight tremors trembled from his wrists to his fingertips.
I'm in town. Drinks at your place tonight?
A wide grin spanned Jim's face. His fingers flew over the screen frantically as he tapped out his response. The phone nearly flew from his grasp not twice, but thrice.
Jim: Make it 7:00. I'll cook dinner, too. Come hungry!
The phone vibrated almost immediately in response.
All right, Kirk. Shoot me your address and I'll be there hungry at 7.
"Yee-ah!" Jim shouted, punching the air victoriously. Suddenly, though, he froze and his stomach dropped. "I can't cook," he announced in disgusted realization.
That evening, the beautiful American woman grinned back at him as she strolled into Jim's apartment and caught a whiff of the food on the table. "I could have sworn you said you were going to cook dinner."
Jim chuckled and tugged at his collar. "Yeah, yeah. It's, uh, an expression." He glanced at the bucket of fried chicken on the table and immediately felt like an idiot. "But it's good. Goes well with bourbon."
Jo laughed a throaty, harsh laugh. "I like you. And I like greasy chicken." She sat down at the table and helped herself to the food. "So," she sat, tearing crispy skin from a drumstick with her teeth, "what does a StarFleet officer do all day when he's on shore leave?"
"Worry about how messy the hotel is," he admitted. "Sorry. You must have had a more interesting day than me. I'd love to hear about it."
Jo batted her eyes slowly and deliberately, chicken leg still in hand. "Nah. You've heard my life story and know everything there is to know about me. Tell me about you."
"I'm a StarFleet captain." Jim nodded. "I was born on a starship. My father died in an attack right after I was born. Sort of a, uh," he trailed off and stared at his liquor, "broken family life as a kid. Got in a lot of trouble. Captain Pike found me in a bar in Iowa and now I'm here." He tried to grin, but it came out as a grimace. "Not a bad life. Just a little rough." He finished his bourbon, food still untouched.
The second the glass hit the table, Jo was pouring him more. "I get that. Broken families suck. My parents split quite a while back, but it's been a constant barrage of hatred between them ever since." She topped her own glass off and held it up. "To screwed up kids from screwed up families."
In a week, he'd realize that was the moment he should have suspected the much-too-familiar woman sitting across from him.
Shore leaves were usually long, much too long for Jim Kirk's liking. He missed adventure, the familiarity of the Enterprise and the crew, and the way Bones and Spock bickered like an old married couple. Shore leave left him empty and longing for his new family. Jim Kirk could have taken a one day shore leave and been fine.
This time was different. When the alarm blared, Jim turned it off quickly and squeezed his eyes shut. There was a lot to do. It was the last day before he boarded the Enterprise for another multi-year tour in space. Though practicality demanded he get out of bed and on with his errands, the warm bare body curled against him effortlessly persuaded him to stay.
Over an hour later when a stirring woke him again, Jim sat up with a jolt. "Shit. I gotta go!"
"I was just gonna make coffee," the woman next to him mumbled. She sat up and brushed the mane of wild hair back from her face. "No time to say good morning? Geeze," Jo scoffed.
Though he was halfway to the door, Jim turned back and crawled onto the bed. "Good morning," he mumbled against her lips. They were soft and warm, and somehow she managed to have minimally offensive morning breath.
"Oh, darlin'," she murmured as she traced her lips down his jaw and to his neck, "I will definitely never forget this week."
Something like a strangled laugh or sob caught in Jim's throat. He cleared his throat. "Yeah." Truthfully, he'd saved all of his to-do list for today to ensure he'd be too busy to see Jo any further. Saying goodbye wasn't easy for Jim, so he was going to avoid it all together. Jo was an amazing woman, but she was a woman on earth and he was a man leaving earth.
"No time for coffee, I'm afraid," he managed. "I won't be back on earth for a few years, so I'm sure you can imagine I've got shit to get done."
"Hey," Jo called after him as he reached the bedroom door again.
Groaning, Jim turned back around. "I've really gotta go. Like, gotta go."
"I know," Jo replied quickly, swinging her legs to the side of the bed.
Jim tried not to let the emerald panties and bra lure him back to her.
"I told you I know StarFleet people. I know what you're doing." Jo smiled a lopsided grin and cocked her head. "My dad acted like this when it was time to leave, too. This is goodbye, then. Come here." She crossed the room with arms extended. "You look me up when you're back on earth, all right?"
Before Jim could move, Jo had wrapped him in a hug and pressed her lips to his cheek. "Goodbye, Jim Kirk."
The restaurant around Bones and Kirk buzzed with a lunchtime rush. Silverware clinked on plates, groups laughed, and unruly children screamed as they ran about the dining room, creating an ambiance of camaraderie.
Bones finished his first sweet tea and sighed. "I'm sorry we have to get back on that godforsaken bucket of nails. It's been quiet. Relaxation. Enjoying an actual atmosphere and actual gravity. Why can't we stay on shore leave for another week?" His usual apprehension had returned, as it always did when shore leaves neared their end. Even after years of space travel, he still hated it.
Jim waggled his eyebrows. "I spent the entire shore leave with this incredible girl. She's sexy and smart and drinks bourbon." He laughed. "Hot bourbon girl, we'll call her. Best shore leave of my life." Sadness washed over him at the thought of her, but he pushed it away. "Man. Seriously."
"Good for you," Bones mused. "Just one girl? I'm surprised."
"She's all I needed. Clever. Quick as a whip. And there's just something about her! God, I hope she's not married when we're back here in three years." Jim realized he was babbling. Shrugging, he asked, "What, no women for you?"
"No, no women. Just silence and a delicious batch of my famous baked beans. Beats buying some filly bourbon every night."
"Keep telling yourself that. It was the beans that kept the women away."
Bones almost smiled. "Hilarious."
The small bell over the front door tinkled, drawing their attention. A young woman walked in and paused to take off her sunglasses.
Jim beamed. Jo tossed her hair over her shoulder and smiled in his direction. As much as he didn't want to tell her goodbye again, he was thrilled to see her.
At once, Jim exclaimed, "There she is!" and Bones waved in her direction: "Jojo!"
"Daddy!" she called back, smiling and heading for their table.
Jim's jaw and stomach dropped. His expression changed from delight to utter terror. Run! Run! he thought manically.Stepping behind Bones so Jo wouldn't see him, Jim glanced around the restaurant for the nearest exit. Escape was the only option. The only viable option. Otherwise certain torturous death awaited him once Bones made the connection that the hot bourbon girl was his daughter.
"You know Joanna?" Leo mused, turning and catching Jim's bewildered face. "What's wrong?" As he turned to his daughter, Bones's lip curled and eyes narrowed. "Wait. No. No. Jim!"
Reaching the table, Joanna batted her eyes, which were the same caramel brown as her father's. "No what, Daddy?" When he stepped aside in annoyed stupor to reveal Jim, her eyes widened. "Oh! You've met Jim, I see." Her head tilted in confusion. "What're you doing here?" She raised an eyebrow. "If this is some sort of big grand gesture to impress my fath-"
"It's not." Jim grimaced. "Uh, hey, by the way. So Bones is your dad! That's... exciting."
"Bones?" Joanna repeated. "You know each other?" Fleeting panic passed her face before she arched an eyebrow and nodded. "Do go on."
"Long story," Bones snapped. "But what in tarnation-"
"If I can just," Jim interrupted, throwing his hands up as if ready to fend off blows. "Let me have a shot at explaining this."
Suddenly the trio was talking over one another, all using exaggerated hand motions. The lunch crowd was captivated by the sudden outburst of drama. All eyes in the restaurant shined in their direction. Though whispers hissed through the air, no one dared intervene.
Bones took a step toward Jim, suddenly seeming taller than he really was. "You may be my Captain, but so help me God if-"
Jo shook her head and put a hand on his shoulder. "It's not like it's serious, Daddy, I-"
Jim stepped forward to meet Bones toe to toe. "She didn't have a McCoy name badge on or else I'd have-"
"She's only twenty-three! Younger than Chekov!"
"You know we're leaving in twenty four hours anyway. What's it -"
"Jim, Dad, I-"
Bones jabbed a finger into Jim's chest. "Not a snowball's chance on a Louisiana day you're going to-"
"Stop! We can just-"
"Bones, c'mon! I had no idea-"
Finally, Joanna slapped her hands down on the table, upsetting water glasses and rattling silverware. The men stopped bickering and stared at her. As did the rest of the restaurant.
"That's better," she announced. "It's not either of your choices to decide what I'm gonna do or who I'm gonna spend my time with," Joanna barked. "Daddy, sit down. We're having lunch. Jim, sit down and explain how you know each other." Then, with a pleasant smile, she turned to the rest of the dining room. "So sorry. Please, enjoy your meals!"
Eying each other apprehensively, Jim and Bones sat back at the table and scowled at anything but each other - their hands and coffee cups, mostly - as Joanna sat in the chair between them.
"Now," she said. "Jim. How do you know my dad?"
Heaving a sigh and puffing out his cheeks, Jim looked to the ceiling and sent up a silent prayer to whoever was listening. Please let this thing work itself out. He cleared his throat. "Your father is my chief medical officer."
Joanna nodded. "Okay. Wow. So you really do work on the Enterprise." The same sneer that Bones often wore melted onto her face. "Oops. I thought you were lying."
Jim scoffed. "Lying? I told you I'm captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise and-"
Rolling her eyes, Joanna broke into a good-natured laugh. "No one our age is captain in StarFleet, let alone of a flagship! That's why I figured you were spinning a tale." Jo looked to her father. "You're gonna have to confirm that for me. Verbally. I really thought he was some communications guy lookin' to make himself seem more important than he really is."
Leo rolled his eyes. "Well, he may be captain, but you aren't wrong."
"Thanks," Jim muttered.
Jo smiled to her father. "So. As you've apparently been able to deduce, I've been seeing Jim during his shore leave. What's new with you?"
Leo sighed and leaned on his elbow. "We're really going to act like this isn't weird? What're you doin' with him, anyway?" He groaned. "Just a fling, right?" His lip curled more with every word. His cheeks were blushed bright red.
Jim had seen the look before. Bones was either enraged, embarrassed, or more likely in this situation, a combination of the two.
Joanna rolled her eyes. "Daddy. You really want to know all the details of my sex life?"
"No!" Bones choked. "No! Just not him!" He gave Jim a hard stare. "She's my daughter, for God's sake, Jim. My daughter!"
"I see that now!" Jim snapped back. "You think I'd have spent my entire shore leave with her if I'd have known having to deal with you was the direct outcome?" He laughed. "Not a chance! And for the record, she lied to me."
Jo blinked rapidly. "What?"
"You said you were 26, not 23!" Jim held his hands up. "So I'm just saying." He ignored Jo's glare, figuring it was more important to mend things with his CMO before taking off for another three year mission with him. "I'm not a predator, Bones! Geeze."
Bones let his forehead rest on his hands. "I'm not having this conversation with either of you. This isn't happening. I'm hallucinating."
"Daddy, stop. You're both leaving again tomorrow, anyway. Case closed."
"Yeah, except I'm supposed to give you this." Bones pulled a tablet out of his pocket. "Your acceptance into StarFleet and your first assignment. U.S.S. Enterprise. Sorry for the late notice but there was a backlog of applicants. I just received our new nurses this morning. Welcome aboard," he grumbled.
"No way," Jo beamed. "The Enterprise? Really?" After a moment, she furrowed her brow. "But you can't be my direct supervisor."
"I'm not. Doctor Cat Greenberg is. She just wanted me to be the one to tell you." Bones rubbed his forehead. "You should go call your mother."
"Oh my god," Jo giggled. "You're right. I'll be right back!" She practically danced out of the restaurant.
When they were alone again, Jim and Bones held eye contact and silence for a moment.
"You know I can't be involved with crew members," Jim blurted out. "So we're good. Right? We're good. Good. Really good." His neck burned hot.
Rolling his eyes, Bones finally cracked a pained grin. "Like you've ever let rules stop you from anything. Jojo can hold her own. Just keep the," he made a face and waved his hands, "keep it to yourself. I don't want to see it. I don't want to hear about it."