"There is no goddamn way I'm leaving the hotel dressed like this," Leonard McCoy growled at a smiling Jim Kirk.
"Hey, you agreed to the terms of the bet," Jim said brightly. "The loser has to walk down the main drag of Risa City in whatever the winner chooses. And this is what I choose."
McCoy looked down at himself.
"This isn't even clothing, Jim!"
Jim gave the doctor a once-over.
"I don't know, Bones. I think you look pretty great."
"You would, you insufferable.." From there, McCoy strung together a group of expletives that would make even the hardiest of sailors blush.
"Hot pants!" he continued, his rant going into full swing. "And not just hot pants, but gold spandex?"
"Actually, it's gold lamé, but close enough," Jim corrected him. "And they look great on you!"
"Don't you dare check my ass out again, you invertebrate cheater!"
"Can't help that you've got a great booty," Jim said with such cheer that Leonard was tempted to punch him. "Also, I didn't cheat."
"The hell you didn't!" McCoy turned to the other person in the room. "You helped him, didn't you?"
Spock raised an eyebrow. "Doctor, I have already assured you I had no hand in his success against you. And, as you know, Vulcans cannot lie."
"You lie all the time, you green-blooded hobgoblin," McCoy retorted. "The two of you and that stupid bond – you probably fed him the answers, you pointy-eared –"
"Hey, lay off his ears," Jim complained good-naturedly. "I'm pretty fond of those." He slung his arm around Spock's shoulder.
"I hate it when you two gang up on me," McCoy snarled.
"No one ganged up on you – I beat you fair and square," Jim pointed out.
"There was nothing fair or square about that game," McCoy practically whined.
"Frankly, Doctor," Spock interjected, "I'm surprised you agreed to bet on a game about historical American pop culture, as it is well-known that the captain has a special proclivity for amassing useless information regarding frivolous American traditions of yore."
"Gee, Spock, thanks," Jim replied with a slight pout. "I'm pretty sure you just insulted both of us." He gestured at himself and Bones.
"Not like Jim's the only one who knows a lot about the past," McCoy grumbled but he knew Spock had made a very valid point. He'd been a few too many drinks in when he'd agreed to the bet and now he was paying for his hubris.
"Let's get this over with," he said to the other two men.
"Wait!" Jim cried. "Your outfit isn't complete yet!" He ran to the closet to grab the final touch.
"Good God," McCoy sputtered. "It gets worse?"
Jim returned with a sign hanging from a lanyard. "This is the rest of the look," he said with a gleam in his eyes. McCoy took one look at what the sign said.
"Fuck you," he muttered. "I'm not wearing that."
Jim moved towards him as McCoy backed away. "Yes you are. A bet's a bet."
"I hate you so much right now," McCoy seethed as Jim placed the lanyard over his head and around his neck.
"I know," Jim replied, unable to contain his glee.
He backed away and took a look at a miserable Leonard McCoy, wearing nothing but gold hot pants and a sign that said "Free Hugs!" It was perfect.
The hovercar ride to the other end of the main drag was filled with awkward silence. McCoy was certain this would go down as the worst shore leave he'd ever suffered through, and given all the antics Jim managed to get into during shore leaves, that was really saying something. Jim knew his best friend was at a breaking point and he didn't want to push the other man over the edge. He was also working on his PADD, making sure the drone he'd purchased to watch McCoy's walk of shame was in position. When the car stopped, McCoy looked at Jim in desperation.
"Please, don't make me do this," he begged.
Jim almost crumbled but the thought of watching a grumpy McCoy make his way back to the hotel was too much to pass up – not to mention, all the senior officers were already gathered to watch the feed from the drone.
"Sorry, Bones. You know the rules," Jim said with as much sadness as he could muster. The doctor's face changed from hopelessness to anger.
"You're gonna pay for this," he threatened Jim as they got out of the hovercar. Jim used his credits to pay the fare, then ran over to the nearest transporter booth.
"Have fun," he yelled to McCoy who replied with an extended middle finger.
Seconds later, Jim materialized in the room where everyone else had gathered to watch McCoy's walk of shame. The gang hooted and hollered over McCoy's outfit and Jim knew he'd outdone himself this time. He also knew that whatever McCoy came up with to get him back, it was gonna be a doozy.
For the first 20 minutes, McCoy's walk back to the hotel was everything Jim had hoped it would be. The doctor was surly and the crowd on the main drag was lively, with passers-by attempting to hug him or give him high fives. Fellow tourists stopped him to take holopics. It was a disaster and everyone in the room laughed as McCoy drew more and more beings to him and his frown grew deeper and more pronounced.
But then a funny thing happened. McCoy stopped being so embarrassed. Everyone was excited – the atmosphere was filled with laughter and the mood was one of revelry. No one was really laughing AT him. As more beings asked to get pictures with him, he found himself feeling more tolerant of the shenanigans. And when a girl who had to be close to Joanna's age ran up to him and gave him a hug – "Because the sign said so, mommy!" she had explained to her perplexed mother – that was when Leonard decided to embrace the whole damn thing. Would he have done it if not for the bet? Hell no. But if he had to be here, he might as well make the most of it.
Jim watched as McCoy began to smile more. He watched as his friend welcomed groups of tourists to take holopics, giving out hugs with aplomb.
"Well, that's not how this is supposed to go," he said softly.
"What? You wanted him to be miserable the entire way back?" Uhura asked him. She was next to him and perhaps the only person in the room who had heard his comment.
"I don't WANT him to be miserable – I just wasn't expecting him to embrace the whole –" he gestured to the screen, where Bones was laughing with a couple of Andorians who handed him a drink and then moved on.
"I mean, he's getting free drinks now!" Jim protested.
"Oh come on," Uhura replied. "Let him have some fun. You're just jealous because he looks better in hot pants than you would."
"Take that back!" Jim demanded, utterly wounded by her words. Instead she just smiled and left his side to grab another drink.
"As usual, the lieutenant makes a sound argument," said Spock, who had been listening to their exchange from behind Jim.
Jim turned around to face his t'hy'la. "Now don't you start too," he groaned.
"You placed Doctor McCoy in a situation you knew he would hate – but one that you, yourself, would thrive in. And it bothers you to see him enjoying himself because you like being the flashy, attention-getting one."
"But I still look better in hot pants, right?" Jim didn't care if Spock was right about all the deep, psychological mumbo-jumbo. He just wanted to know his vanity wasn't misplaced.
"I cannot answer that question logically, Captain, as I have a bias towards you. However, perhaps we could run some tests tonight to see just how good you look in hot pants."
Jim smiled. "I look better. I know it."
As the group continued to watch McCoy's walk, Jim and Spock stood behind the others, their fingers just grazing one another's.
When, at long last, McCoy returned to the hotel and joined everyone in the room where they'd watched his triumphant parade, he was buzzed and wearing a seldom-seen smile. The watch party devolved into a party-party and laughter filled the room. McCoy changed into clothes he was more comfortable with and more members of the Enterprise crew joined the fun. Music was blaring and the bar was stocked so there was no reason they couldn't dance into the wee hours of the morning.
During a lull between songs, McCoy made his way over to Jim.
"Looks like your walk of shame wasn't so bad after all," Jim said to his friend.
"Yeah, that could've been worse," McCoy agreed. "But if you think I'm not planning to get you back just because I managed to enjoy myself out there – well, think again, kid." Giving Jim a look that filled him with apprehension, McCoy sauntered off to chat up Nurse Chapel.
Jim rubbed his neck almost instinctually, wondering just how much Bones was going to make him suffer. But then he thought about the hot pants and the sign and smiled. It'd been worth whatever revenge awaited him.