-1Takes place between Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

DISCLAIMER: And I do not own anything of Star Trek, other than a few hundred books and such, but anything that will gain me any money. Yea right! As long as we all keep dreaming...

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THAT VALENTINE ITCH

"I hate Valentine's Day!"

"You've still got time Bones. Valentine's Day isn't till Sunday." Reassured Admiral James T. Kirk, as he clasped a hand on the Doctor's drooping shoulder. "We'll come up with something. We usually do."

"Right. We've got only a few problems with that optimism." Muttered Doctor McCoy staring despondently into half empty glass of bourbon and branch water. "We're no longer on the 'Enterprise', this isn't some mission from hell were on, Spock's not here to give us the answer to save our butt's and most importantly…she doesn't even know I'm alive. God, I hate Valentine's Day."

An irritated glint appeared in Kirk's hazel stare at the Spock dig, as he swiveled around on his barstool to face his nearly empty glass. "Believe it or not Bones, I do think I have the precedent over Spock when it comes the fairer sex."

"Oh yea, sure you do. No one is questioning 'how much' experience you've racked up over the years." Bones snorted folding his arms in front of him then rested the one the curved edge of the bar. "It's just in general, you're wrong."

Managing to spit the mouthful of bourbon he had been in the process of swallowing back into it's glass, Kirk gave McCoy a incredulously affronted look while dabbing at the liquor stain on the front of his uniform with a paper napkin.

"If you're implying that I have flawed understanding of women Doctor, I'll remind you of the last tally made…" Began Kirk with a bit more bravado than he intended to display in the crowded bar.

"I never said it was flawed, Jim." Interrupted McCoy, supposedly trying to smooth down his friends ruffled feather. "Admittedly your advice works good for you. But then, look around. Here you are, midnight on a Friday night, sitting with me in a bar. Something I'm sure you're going to be bragging about Monday morning."

Absently playing with his glass, Kirk glanced up and down the bar his annoyance growing visibly. "Listen Bones, do you want my help or not?"

"I don't recall asking for your help!" Bones snapped back finally looking up from his drink to meet Jim's narrowed gaze. "I thought you came along because ya didn't have a date and figured ya might as well have some kinda company in your misery."

"You don't necessarily have to bring that up everytime you open your mouth." Snarled the Admiral lowering his voice as he shot a look around the crowded barroom.

"You don't think anyone else noticed you walked in here with a decrepit, disheartened Doctor, instead of some poor, fresh delicate creature, who hasn't been in town long enough to make any friend's to warn them about you? Please!" McCoy threw back before taking a long sip from his glass, then set the tumbler back down. "They're probably wondering how long were going to sit here until someone finally has to ask if we've forgotten our way home."

Pushing aside his glass, Kirk rested an elbow on the edge of the bar, then planted his chin in the center of the palm of his hand. "God Bones, it's been quite awhile since you've had it this bad."

"Yea...well..." Pausing, McCoy arched an eyebrow indignantly. "Listen, you know I have had a date since Lee surrendered to...ahem, a certain Yankee."

Suppressing a smile, Kirk shook his head when the bartender approached the two men. They had already been there for over two hour, nursing their drinks in a silence that was uncomfortable to the Admiral, as he patiently waited for his friend to finally spill whatever had been eating him up for the last three days. And when McCoy finally blurted out what had been eating him up, Kirk downed his first and second drink then started immediately on his third.

Herminie Blumenshine. The second Kirk had heard the name two weeks earlier he envisioned some pinch faced, straight as a two by four, confirmed ninety year old spinster with the ethic's of Victorian school matron who had never stepped out of her school building once. The name just instantly implied a stern, needle nosed woman who walked around with a ruler clenched tightly in a bony hand, stalking any of those who were caught slouching in their seats, or inadvertently fell asleep in class. And all in all, had about as much sex appeal as a wool sock someone had lost in the local contaminated pond.

The second that he actually saw her in flesh and blood, he loathed the Doctor for having the foresight to attend the Academy's monthly faculty meetings. The pair usually never attended any of the faculty get together's, believing they had done their share of listening to stagnant air over the year's from more senior officer's than either care to recall. But one day, the Doctor had broken their tradition and went out of desperation of being bored beyond means since the Admiral was still preoccupied with overnight company. Or so he claimed considering the Doctor was unable to prove otherwise, with the apartment building walls being sound proof, and that Jim had apparently overlooked the fact he hadn't given one of 'oldest and closest' friends the access code to his apartment door.

If he had know that a five foot seven inch, honey blonde, with indigo eyes and the figure that was taken care of like that of 'Enterprise's' engines, had been standing around waiting for someone in a Star Fleet uniform to come in and fall head over heels in love with her, sure Kirk would've struggled out of bed that morning. But he hadn't and McCoy had, which lead up to the reason why they were sitting in a bar on the edge of the Academy grounds on the verge of midnight, and both were thoroughly discouraged, dispirited and disgusted.

"What do you mean, 'she doesn't know you're alive'? I thought you told me you introduced yourself after the meeting?" Kirk asked as he tried to recall the conversation the two had had when McCoy first told him about the new micro horticulturist he had meet.

In truth, Kirk hadn't listened to too much of it once he got passed the description of the thirty-five year old woman. His thoughts had drifted off into two separate tracks. One was a road better left trampled only by the Admiral. The other dealt with a long lecture about attending all faculty to-dos' with the Doctor from now on.

"Well, I did. I tried to, let's put it that way. That little slick, pain in the ass Polzwaski from the neurological department butted in before I had any real chance of either making a fool out of myself or not." Sighed McCoy finding his glass empty for the second time. "She probably thinks I was part of catering staff. Or worse, just stopped by to see if the had any leftovers I could take with me."

'God this was getting depressing by the second', Kirk thought his gaze starting to stray off towards a young brunette that would've made a Vulcan hesitate for a moment, even if the didn't sneak a peek back before moving on.

"Then do something that'll make her notice you." Kirk finally suggested forcibly pulling his gaze away from the brunette back to his friend beside him.

"There's an original thought." Groused McCoy as he ran a finger along the sides of his glass. "I wish I could've though of it. No wonder I find women dripping off of you ever time we meet up. 'Do something that'll make her notice you', like I haven't come to that brilliant conclusion myself. The question is…what! I mean, I'm not exactly on top of what is considered 'hip', 'cool' or 'in' for these types of problems."

"Nobody expects you to be, Bones." Answered Kirk then quickly held a hand up just as the Doctor was on the verge of another scathing protest. "What I meant, was…" Think fast Jimbo. Think fast. "Everyone knows that you are the enduring 'southern gentleman'. You have own down home polish that just naturally comes through that no one else around here can imitate. Don't sweat it."

The arched eyebrow rose another quarter of an inch over the pale blue eye. "I either another drink or to go to bed. That charmed bullshit of yours is starting to make sense to me."

A grin spread over Kirk's face hearing the familiar cantankerous tones of his friend coming back to life in his voice. "I suggest bed. After tonight's mental lube job we should come up with something to work with in the morning for the Ms. Herminie Blumenshine."

Sliding off his barstool, McCoy half smiled. "Right now, while I've got the liquid courage still working is when I should come up with something. In the morning I won't care if you brought in the entire topless chorus from that review we saw back on Alpha Proxima II, into my room."

As he paid the bartender, Kirk gave McCoy a dubious look. "Somehow I seriously doubt that Bones. I've seen you hung over, and it hasn't stopped you before."

The half smile spread at Jim's comment, but McCoy refrained from saying what had entered his mind instantly. "Yea, well after spending the last fifteen years running around with you, I've learned that one needs to take the opportunities when they can, no matter their condition. Because they'll never have it again, once you've made your presence known."

Deciding to take it as a compliment, Kirk merely continued grinning as McCoy took the lead and the two officers's made their way to the exit. Once outside and a few dozen yards away from the bar, they stood silently gazing contemplatively up at the cloudless night sky. Thousands upon thousands of stars glimmered for a second, then dimmed only brighten once more then again dim.

"Wish you were out there again?" Inquired McCoy quietly already aware of what the answer was.

"Every moment I breathe."

The smile on McCoy's face shrank at the hardly spoken words, as he fiddled with the snaps of his jacket before his fingers broke off from the chill of the February night.

"You know we sort of had an advantage back then. Most of the girls we tried to run around with we never had to worry about really putting on any kind of best foot forward." Theorized the Doctor while snapping the two-bottom button of his jacket. "I mean, hell we were never gonna see them again after the 'Enterprise' left,..

While McCoy spoke, Kirk had taken the time to zip his own jacket up halfway and shifting his hazel gaze from heavens began to scan their surroundings until he stumbled over the outline of the main Academy building. An idea began to form, take root and send a tiny green tendril towards the light bulb that had suddenly come on, as an eyebrow began to rise at his wicked plot.

"Bones, do you know where Herminie is staying at?"

Snapping a third button, McCoy glanced up at Kirk curiously. "I know what building. And that I had to bribe out of that little pin head down in records. I think he thought I was up to something."

"Aren't you?"

Giving Kirk faintly disgusted look, McCoy readjusted the collar of his coat. "Possibly. But I doubt that I'll have to worry about trying to get dressed quietly in a dark closet later on. Why?"

"Because, I think I have an answer to your problem." Kirk replied deciding to be kind enough to over look the Doctor's remark.

McCoy's eyebrows knitted together suspiciously. "This isn't going to involve anything that Star Fleet could track down later and use in my dishonorable discharge trial, is it?"

"No." Came the swift, somewhat surprised response from the Admiral. "Of course not, Bones."

"Okay, Jim. But I don't believe you. So this should tell you how desperate I am." McCoy pointed out shoving his hands into his jacket pockets. "What do you have up your sleeve?"

"Flowers." When Kirk said it, one couldn't help but get the impression that he had been the one who had come up with the original idea, and was being gracious enough not to expect a commission on every sale made.

For a second McCoy waited for the rest of it, but when nothing followed he rolled his eyes back up at the stars and quickly started walking away.

"Now, wait a minute Bones. Let me explain my idea." Kirk just caught McCoy's elbow as he marched by him.

"I hate to tell you this Jim, but that idea is older than me. And Scotty. And there's the slight possibility, older than Sarek." Jerking his elbow out of Jim's grip, McCoy gave his a friend a vaguely disappointed look that could barely be seen in the lamp light. "If that's all you got, I'm going to have to re-evaluate my opinion of you and your highly questionable magnetism, you've been so proud of the last twenty five years."

"Would you shut up and listen for a second." Kirk growled casting a look around to see if anyone else had come staggering out of the bar and may be able to over hear anything said. "For the sake of argument, let's just say for the most part, in general, women appreciate receiving flowers. Right?"

This time the other eyebrow rose over the other blue eye. "I suppose so. More so, if you spell their name right on the card, if it is their name to begin with."

Straightening up Kirk gave the Doctor a narrowed unappreciative stare. "Look, you came to me asking for help. I'm trying to help. Why are you being more irascible than normal?"

"Because Jim, I know you. I know you better than you know yourself. The only one can claim to know you better, is Spock. A man who if I remember correctly has never had to ask you on advice for much of anything. And because of the fact, that I do know you so well, I also know that whatever you're seriously speculating is either going to get me into trouble or blow up in my face. And if it does, I'll probably never get a woman to give me a second look the rest of my life, let alone do anything else"

An irked twitch tugged along Kirk's lips. He wasn't sure if he was more ticked off at the McCoy's sarcasm or the lack of confidence the man seem to have in his one time commander. Which, for a split second, made the Admiral wonder how long the latter had been going on.

Seeing the expression on Jim's face, McCoy sighed exasperation but managed to make it sound as if it was full of penitence. "All right Jim, what's your plan?"

Either appeased or doing a damn fine job of acting as if he were, Kirk faintly smiled again. "As I was saying, from both of our experiences, women can be easily impressed with a box of flowers. But I think we can both agree, if you take a little time and little extra work make an even bigger impression."

"No." Disagreed McCoy shaking his head slowly as he recalled his own experiences in the past whenever he tried to do that little extra. "Jocelyn, never did. In fact, the last coupla years we were together, she didn't appreciate too much of anything I did. 'Cept whenever I left the house."

Kirk had meant Jocelyn McCoy once, not long after he had taken up his post at the Academy, and he hadn't been dazzled with her personality either. He had never said anything to McCoy about it, fearing the inevitable question of what he thought of her and the argument that would follow when he would give him his opinion. He still had a soft spot for his ex-wife, although Kirk couldn't help but think it in his head.

"Excluding anyone here right now, ex-wives, women appreciate it more when you go out of your way for something a little extra for them. Correct?"

Shrugging in response, McCoy tilted his head to one side in a thoughtful move. "Where the hell am I gonna get flowers tonight without having to go halfway around the world? It's after midnight."

"That's the beauty of this Bones. They're free." Exclaimed Kirk clapping a hand on the Doctor's shoulder, forcing the man to take a small staggering step.

"Free?" Repeated McCoy the skepticism had sparked back to life the pale blue eyes. "If you think I'm walking to any damn cemetery tonight, you're outta every loving tree."

"Don't be morbid!" Kirk snapped back having already scratched that idea off his list when he figured how far the closest one was five minutes earlier. "I wasn't thinking for that and nothing that would be that far away."

"And free?" Reiterated the Doctor the doubt becoming deeper in the stare.

"Absolutely." Kirk reaffirmed flashing one of his irrefutable grins.

"I won't have to spend a single penny." Mused McCoy as the two men started to walk away from the overhead lamplights. "Except for bail, the lawyer, and property damage."

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TBC