McCoy walked into the mess with a smug smile firmly in place. The blue eyes quickly scanned the full room of morning after victim's as he moved to the food replicator to give his order. After a moment he spotted his victim cradling a half cold cup of coffee in one hand and his aching head in the other.

Tray in hand, the Doctor gleefully made his around the other tables of one time carefree revelers now suffering in the gloomy hour of the morning. Arriving on tiptoe at the table occupied by Kirk, McCoy allowed the grin to spread over his face as the tray suddenly dropped on the slick table top.

Head ducking and teeth clenching at the skull splitting racket, Kirk tightened his hand around the coffee cup and glared up at McCoy.

"God Jim! Don't you look just absolutely…like death on a cracker." Flopping down in the chair opposite the Captain, McCoy continued grinning as he began stirring his grits with his fork.

"Bones," Came the horse grunt through dry lips, as the bleary eye's fixed on the insidiously smiling jackass across from him. "I'm only going to say this once. Either shut up or leave. And if possibly I would appreciate it if you managed both in the next five seconds."

"Who knew that the dead could talk." Exclaimed the Doctor with mock astonishment. "Don't smell all that great, but you got that speechifying down real good."

Glaring over the lip of his cup, Kirk licked his cracked lips trying to come up with some quick retort as well as maintain some composure when the smell of the food finally struck him.

"You do realize that I could have you thrown in the brig for mutiny, Bones." He finally managed after a long hard swallow.

"Why? Because I dare to sit down and eat a good hearty breakfast in front of my bagged Captain?" Was the innocent reply followed with the usual batting of big blue eyes, as the Doctor began pouring syrup over his pancakes.

"I am not bagged." Kirk choked back, trying to keep his eyes from straying to the plate of biscuits and gravy that sat only inches from him.

"No, I guess your not at that, are you." Agreed McCoy squinting at Kirk over his heaping plate of steaming, aromatic food. "You're more like what's left over after the sanitation people have taken the bag away."

"You could at least show some guilt or repentance over all of this, you southern fried witch doctor." Snapped Kirk, followed by a regretful wince at his momentary lapse of good sense. Again.

"Guilt? Over what? You're a big boy Jim. You know what can happen to anyone when they imbibe in too much liquor. It's not my fault it only took three to put you under the table. Or on top of it in this case." Pointed out the Doctor before stuffing a fork full of sausage into his mouth.

"How many people serve whiskey in water glasses, for crying out loud Bones!? What the hell were you thinking?"

"I ran outta punch glasses by the time you decide to show up. I suppose if I was as industrious as some pointy eared computerized compilation sets, I coulda whipped up some pretty little tea cups from folding a bunch of napkins for ya." Argued the Doctor taking some delight in the obvious pain Kirk was suffering from the sharp tone he was purposely using. "And I'll have you know that was not just 'whiskey' Jim. It was a fine southern Kentucky sipping bourbon. I have a friend in shipping who managed to misdirect several cases in my direction for emergencies. So look at it this way Jim, you did get bombed on some of the best stuff to come out of the blue grass state. What happened after you poured in down your gullet was of your own sorry inebriated manifestation."

"What it was Dr. McCoy, was a clear case of subterfuge and attempted assault on myself as well as seventy five percent of this crew." Countered the Captain before swallowing a sip of the ill tasting brown liquid that lingered at the bottom of his cup. "If I thought I could find any witnesses who had partially sober last night I would've had you in the stockade this morning before you had a chance to brush your teeth and work on your virtuous physician facade."

"I don't know how you can call it mutiny or attempted anything Jim." Replied McCoy after shoveling in another mouthful of sausage, gravy and grits. "Especially if I pointed out to Starfleet that I was just doing what you ordered me to do."

It took a second for Kirk's face to gradually screw up in aching dubiousness, as every nerve seem to protest any action that might actually mean movement.

"I don't recall telling you at any time, and I'll admit that my mind isn't at it's sharpest this second, giving you any instructions to getting the greater percentage of my crew spiffed and turning my ship into the flop house for those waiting in line for Dante's Inferno."

"True. You've never said that to me before."

"Then what the hell are you talking about?!"

"Remember that great buffet spread last night?"

There was a slightly embarrassed and heavily irritated pause from Kirk, as he considered the question.

"Bones, I woke up this morning curled up in a mop bucket in Scotty's cabin, with a bedpan on my head and a bouquet of dead flowers stuffed down the front of my pants. I really prefer not to remember most of last night. If I could remember it to begin with."

"Yea." Mused McCoy as he let a ruminating shadow flitter over his face while scratching just under his chin. "I don't think your libido could handle it now that you're sober."

"Bones. The point."

The evil grin returned instantly to the Doctor's face as he stabbed another piece of sausage. "That's the point Jim. You don't remember it."

Blood shot, stinging eyes merely stared coldly at McCoy for a long moment.

"I must have lost something along the way."

"If I had a real dollar bill for every time you said that last night, I would be able…."

"Bones, I maybe suffering a hangover that would've killed my grandfather's prized heifer, but trust me I can still find the strength to strangle one physician, if he doesn't find some point to his extended period of idiocy."

Giving the Captain a long amused look, McCoy twirled his fork between his finger and thumb, sending droplets of gravy and egg yolk in every direction. Leniency finally got the better of him and he set the fork down and retrieved his coffee while letting the complacent light glint brightly in his eyes.

"Remember all that fruitcake you told me to do something with?"

One eyebrow began to sluggishly wiggle along Kirk's forehead as he recalled the incident of the fruitcake through the dense fog that surrounded his brain.



Pursing his lips, Kirk slouched another inch in his chair, more from overall exhaustion than frustration at the self-pleased quack on the other side of the table.

"If I'm catching your drift here Bones, what you're saying is that the buffet was all fruitcake?"

"Yep. Save for the plates, napkins, utensils, glasses and of course, the whiskey." McCoy answered as he wiped away a gob of gravy from his lips. "Everything else though, was fruitcake. Deviled fruitcake. Fruitcake and carrot salad, but without the carrots. Fruitcake au gratin. Fruitcake casserole. Fruitcake tartar. Fruitcake in Jell-O. Fruitcake nog. And also fruitcake parfait, among other things. I even managed to make ice cubes with some of the tougher ends of the bigger bricks. Those things are so durable I don't think they'll ever melt. "

The ashen hue shifted to a pea green as Kirk settled farther down in his chair and rolled his eyes toward the ceiling.

"That's just sick and depraved."

"Like four hundred people giving their Chief Medical Officer for Christmas four years in a row isn't?" Snorted McCoy attacking his plate of food again. "That should be considered cruel an unusual punishment."

"So what you're saying is that you did all of that for revenge?" Kirk stared at McCoy as if he was confronting the most devious and evil mind villain that he had crossed in all his years.

"Actually I did if for three reasons." McCoy explained as he dipped a corner of his toast into the center of egg yolk. "To get rid of the fruitcake. Get my revenge on all of you. And thirdly, make sure that I get better gifts next Christmas. Mostly for the revenge however."

Considering the pain his head was going through, Kirk somehow twisted a half-assed stunned look on his face.

"How could you walk across this room and think these people weren't going to kill you?!"

McCoy gave the question another minute of speculation as he sipped at his coffee. "Hell Jimbo, they probably didn't know if it was me or Uhura waltzing through the door the shape they are all in. Now that I think of it, a few though I was last night too. I may have to have a talk with Scotty and Chekov later."

"How could you get everyone bombed last night and feed them nothing but fruitcake, then come in here and sit there gloating like it's the greatest idea since the warp drive?" The tone in Kirk's voice made it evident that he was giving serious thought about the man's sanity.

"Damn straight it's a fantastic idea. How the hell else did you think I going to get them to eat any of that garbage to begin with? I made sure they were all well blottoed then started handing out hors d'oeuvre's of fruitcake crackers with some of that squeezy cheese on 'em."

"What kind of a man are you?!"

"Jim, I'm the kinda man that can get up in the morning eat a large delicious, wonderfully greasy breakfast." Began McCoy as he sopped up some of the country gravy with a hunk of biscuit. "Then head off fo his shift for the day, confident in the knowledge that I am not going to embarrass the hell outta myself by throwing up in the lap of one of my junior officers."

A disgusted look mingled perfectly with the already nauseated shade that had taken residence on Kirk's face.

"One thing I know Doctor, is that as of now there is no way my day can get any worse. No possible way period." A sad attempted smile plucked at Kirk's lips as he started to struggle out of his chair. "When these people start coming out of their misery and see you wandering around in their midst, that my friend is the beginning of your pain and suffering. I'm just sorry I won't be here when they have you suspended from the ceiling and using you as a pinata."

"Are you kidding?" Scoffed McCoy. "You couldn't remember anything from last night. What makes you think any of these barely paper trained kids are going to remember where they are this morning let alone what they did last night?"

If he hadn't rendered him unconscious Kirk would've attempted his own version of a cruel smile as he swayed slightly in front of the Doctor.

"You made your only mistake by telling me everything, Bones."

Giving Kirk an exasperated look, McCoy buttered his other slice of toast. "Do you think I would have told you anything if I was worried about it. Gees Jim, and you thinking you know your senior officers so well."

"We'll see." Countered Kirk as he started shuffling away.

"Before you get to far Jim."

Pausing only a few steps away, Kirk grabbed the back of the closest chair to keep from tipping clean over and slowly glared over his shoulder at the Doctor.

"What, Bones?"

Licking away a small dollop of butter from his fingers, McCoy leisurely rolled his blue eyes at Kirk and grinned again.

"Don't forget your physical this afternoon."