"Aw, come on, Chris," McCoy pled with the blonde standing resolutely in the doorway of his hotel room.

"No," she said emphatically. "I'm not coming in unless you promise me you'll give me my own private hot pants show."

McCoy stared down either end of the hallway, checking to see if anyone had heard the head nurse. Luckily, the coast was clear.

"Fine," he grumbled. "Now get in here before the whole damn ship knows we're together." He grabbed her arm as he was speaking, pulling her into his room, away from any prying eyes that might happen upon them.

"There are worse things than the ship knowing we're together," Chapel chided McCoy with a grin.

"Yeah, like being forced back into gold hot pants," he muttered as he moved to the bathroom.

"Don't worry," Christine called out after him. "I'll make it worth the effort."

She was rewarded with a roll of the doctor's eyes as the bathroom doors closed. Christine removed her shoes and climbed onto Leonard's bed, rearranging the pillows so she could sit up with her legs stretched out.

After a few minutes, Leonard stepped out of the bathroom, in all his hot pants glory.

Christine took a deep breath.

"Holy shit, Len," she said in an almost reverent voice. "The drone holovid really didn't do you justice."

She got up on her knees at the edge of the bed closest to McCoy and outstretched her hand to touch his chest. He stepped closer to make it easier for her and a soft moan escaped her lips as she made contact with his skin.

"You're beautiful…You know that, right?" she asked him softly as her hand roved the planes of his chest.

His eyes never left hers as she reached out with her other hand to touch him.

"You're not so bad, yourself," he murmured.

"Pretty sure I wouldn't fill those shorts as well as you are," she said with a twist of her mouth, her hand skimming along the waistband of the hot pants. "Turn around for me?"

He grimaced but acquiesced and his reward was her sharp intake of breath as she took in the view from behind. He felt her breath against his skin a moment before her lips touched his back and he froze as she trailed soft kisses down his spine.

After that, the hot pants were not long for this world. Neither was Christine's dress or anything else that could inhibit the two from feeling every inch of one another's skin. McCoy never ceased to be amazed at how wonderful his head nurse felt against him, at how each time he was inside her felt like the first time. There was a reason he'd continued their liaisons even though dating someone within his own department was something he'd sworn he would never do.

Later, tangled up together in the sheets, Christine rested her head on Leonard's chest, savoring the feel and sound of his heartbeat, a steady reminder that he was real – that this was real. A reminder that somehow she'd been lucky enough to meet this man and end up in his bed repeatedly. Chapel knew she was smitten with the Southern doctor and if the tender way he ran his hands through her hair and kissed her forehead was any indication, she wasn't alone in her feelings of love. But they didn't talk about their feelings because it was hard enough allowing themselves these moments together without feeling some sort of guilt about the disservice they might be doing to their duties. Pillow talk was instead confined to trivial matters.

"How are you going to get back at Jim?" Christine asked McCoy drowsily.

"I'm not gonna do a damn thing," he drawled, his own sleepiness making his accent more pronounced. Christine sat up and turned to look at McCoy and he met her eyes with a hooded look of his own that was like pure sex.

"Really?" she asked with a twinge of incredulousness, her hand reaching out to brush his hair off his forehead. How could McCoy pass up an opportunity to get back at his best friend? Anyone who had seen the two interact the number of times she had seen them together would know a big part of their relationship was unmercifully teasing one another.

He caught her hand as it trailed down the side of his face and brought it to his lips, kissing her fingers softly before responding.

"Yeah, really," he finally replied. "It'll drive him nuts, waiting for a revenge that never comes. He'll assume any bump he hears in the night is me. Trust me, the threat of revenge is more effective than revenge itself."

Christine settled back against his chest, allowing him to circle his arms around her and pull her tight against him.

"But surely you could enlist Scotty or Chekov to help you do something like reprogram his replicators?" she asked.

He snorted. "Amateurs, the lot of them." He ran a hand up her bare back to her shoulder. "Jim would be disappointed in me if I stooped to such measures."

She laughed. "I forgot. You two are beyond such childish jokes," she said dryly.

"Darlin', when we were at the Academy, I moved our entire suite down the hallway one day to get back at him."

"How?" Christine asked.

"I enlisted the help of a couple of friends who lived just a few rooms down from us. We spent a day changing out suites so that when Jim finally strolled back from class and walked into what had previously been our suite, everything of ours was gone. The two roommates – couple of Andorians – played along, acting like they had always been in that suite. When Jim showed up in our new suite, everything arranged just as it had been at the old place, he flipped. I treated him like he was having a psychotic episode. Let it go on till he was practically in tears."

"You're awful," Christine said appreciatively.

"Jim's no slouch either," McCoy said with a hint of defensiveness.

"I know," Christine replied. "At least he made sure you looked good today."

"Back to the hot pants again, are we?" McCoy nuzzled Christine's neck.

"All I'm saying is you should hold onto those," she giggled as he tickled her.

McCoy was right. It was two weeks after shore leave and Jim was still skittish as a colt anytime anything went the least bit awry. If McCoy was around, he'd turn to him and ask, "Is this it?" and the doctor would say nothing in return, giving only a cryptic smile.

It got to the point that Spock paid McCoy a visit one afternoon, sitting down in the chair across the desk with his back ramrod straight. McCoy didn't even bother offering the Vulcan a drink, knowing the response would be something condescending. Instead, he poured a more generous amount for himself. He'd need it to get through this.

"What do you want, Spock?" he grumbled, instinctively slouching more in his chair to counteract the perfect posture of the first officer.

"I would like to enquire as to when, exactly, you might be exacting your revenge on the Captain for what occurred on Risa?"

"Oh would you now?" McCoy retorted with just the tiniest of smiles.

"Yes," Spock answered. "I have found the captain to be more restless than normal upon returning to the ship and I must confess, his agitation is affecting both of us adversely."

McCoy took a moment to look at Spock – really look at him. It was then he noticed the bags under the Vulcan's eyes. He sat back in his chair and propped his feet up on the desk.

"Well, I'll be damned. Guess that psychic connection you two have isn't as wonderful as it seemed at first, huh?"

"Doctor, I never claimed it was wonderful. If anything, I have been very vocal about the dangers of such bonds –"

"Save it, Spock," McCoy said as he propped his hands behind his head. "I've got no plans for revenge against Jim. Tell him to relax already and get yourself a decent night's sleep."

"It would mean more if the captain heard from you that you have no intention of pranking him," Spock noted and McCoy made a dismissive noise.

"I'm sure it would, Spock, but I'm a busy man." He got up, signaling an end to the meeting.

"For a busy man, you appear to have more than enough time to drink in your office," the Vulcan noted.

"See you later," McCoy answered as he stood by the doors, ignoring the unsubtle jibe. "Hope you get some good rest soon," he added, throwing his own verbal dart at Spock.

Much as Spock had predicted, the captain didn't believe him when he recounted his conversation with McCoy.

"He's just telling you that to lull me into a false sense of security," Jim complained as he got ready for bed with Spock.

"Perhaps," Spock mused. "Or perhaps Doctor McCoy realizes that making you wait for a punishment that is never coming is punishment enough."

"Trust me, Spock. You don't know Bones like I do. He's planning something – something humiliating, I can feel it."

Three weeks later, on an away mission, things finally came to a head, in a way McCoy could never have foreseen. Jim, Spock, McCoy, and a few redshirts had beamed down to what was supposed to be an uninhabited planet but everything they'd seen since arriving led McCoy to believe, once again, that Spock's instruments on the ship needed a serious recalibrating.

"Uninhabited, my ass," he grumbled as he stared at a set of tracks in the mud that indicated a very large animal had passed through this area not that long ago.

"Captain, I propose splitting up," Spock pontificated. "It will be easier to assess the conditions of the planet if we break into teams."

Jim agreed and Spock left with a couple of red shirts to do a quick survey of the planet's wildlife.

Jim and McCoy stuck together and as they were investigating the area around them, McCoy heard a growl from the bushes behind them.

"Jim," he hissed to his friend. "Get down!"

Jim looked at him strangely and made no move to hide. Instead, a grin broke out on his face, making the young captain look even more boyish than normal.

"You almost had me there for a second, Bones," he said.

"What're you talking about, you damned fool?" McCoy growled as a large, lion-like animal crept out of the bushes behind Jim.

"This is it, huh? Tell me, was Spock in on this too? Did you guys deliberately choose this 'uninhabited planet' knowing there would be giant animals on it?" Jim turned around to look at the giant, multi-fanged animal slowly approaching him.

"Hey kitty," Jim cooed. "I'll bet you're a big pushover, huh?"

"Jesus, Jim, get out of there," McCoy frantically begged the captain, who shot him an insouciant look and moved closer to the creeping beast.

"Was that the plan all along, Bones?" Jim asked as he moved closer to the animal. "Get a holovid of me hiding from this giant furball with tears in my eyes? Gotta say, I expected better from you."

The animal released a low, guttural snarl as Jim approached it. McCoy got up from his hiding place and moved towards the captain.

"You fucking idiot," he called out. "I've never seen this animal in my life. This isn't a stupid revenge plot – it's real!"

At that, Jim turned to look at McCoy and his smile froze as he saw the fear on the doctor's face. He turned back to see the animal raising one of its giant paws, ready to swat at him.

"Shit," he cried but before the animal could hit him, McCoy pushed him out of the way and took the brunt of the swipe, falling unconscious.

"Bones!" Jim cried.

The animal trained its sights on Jim once more and he backed away, looking around for somewhere to duck and hide while simultaneously hoping he would be able to rescue his unconscious friend from becoming kitty kibble.

From behind him, a phaser sounded and hit the animal between the eyes. Unfortunately, the hit just angered the animal more, rather than subduing it. The large cat-like creature sprang forward, swiping Jim to the ground before Spock and the two red shirts were finally able to subdue it with their phasers.

Back in med bay, McCoy and Jim awoke in beds right next to one another, the wounds from their encounter with the large cat healing. Spock was there, waiting patiently for the friends to awaken. Once M'Benga had told the men they'd be okay, McCoy promptly began grousing at Jim.

"I can't believe you thought I'd set up an away mission with some alien animal just to get back at you, you sack of rotting corn," he grumbled as he attempted to sit up in his biobed.

"Come on," Jim almost whined. "You'd been threatening this great revenge – it seemed like the perfect plan."

"Only to an idiot," McCoy retorted.

"Gentlemen," Spock interrupted. "Perhaps we can use this incident as a lesson. No more pranks and revenge?"

McCoy and Jim looked at Spock and then at each other.

"Not a chance," Jim replied first.

"Yeah, get out of here with that shit, you pointy-eared gremlin," McCoy muttered.

Spock sighed heavily and came this close to rolling his eyes.

"Next time, you two are on your own," he told them both as he straightened his shirt and walked out of med bay.

"Such a drama queen," McCoy said softly to Jim.

"I know," the captain replied. "He acts like we almost died or something."

The two men laughed and then looked at each other.

"So, whose turn is it now?" Jim asked with a sparkle in his eyes. "Am I getting you back because you tortured me for all those weeks?"

"Like hell. I'm still not done making you pay for the hot pants," McCoy replied indignantly. "And now I get to add cat injury to the list."

"I didn't ask you to push me out of the way!" Jim griped. "That's hardly a reason to get revenge."

Christine showed up at that moment, hypos in hand and a glint in her eye.

"Now you listen here, chuckleheads," she said severely, looking at both men with a fierceness neither had seen before. "No one is getting anyone else back. The prank war is over, so help me, or I'll hypo you both into comas for the rest of the ship's mission. Do I make myself clear?"

Both men nodded their heads at her, too afraid to speak as long as she had hypos in her hands. Placated, she checked their bio signs and left them, smiling sweetly at them as she parted.

"What got into her?" Jim asked quietly once they were sure she was out of earshot.

"Not sure," McCoy lied, knowing full well what had gotten into his head nurse and vowing to make it up to her the first moment they were both free.

Later, she and Spock shared a moment together.

"Congratulations, Nurse Chapel," Spock said, raising his glass of non-alcoholic green juice to the blonde woman. "May we both get some peace and quiet now that the prank war has ended."

"Indeed, Mr. Spock," she replied, clinking her glass of bubbly against his. "Here's to keeping our boyfriends alive and safe."

It was a toast both drank to eagerly. While both had benefited from the exuberance of the prank wars, and the hot pants that remained as a testimony of the fun, they were ready for things to return to normal. Jim and McCoy would doubtless find themselves in danger again – this was the Enterprise, after all – but, hopefully, it wouldn't be over something as stupid as waiting for McCoy to prank Jim back.