-1CHAPTER TWO

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8:00 a.m. the following morning

"I still cannot believe you talked me into doing that!" Hissed McCoy sitting in the middle of the couch scratching viciously at the back of his hands and arms. "I haven't felt like such a damn fool, since the day that damn Vulcan caught me in my office with that ambassador's fiancée from Kolaxian VII. Are you sure that kid in security isn't going to blab the whole thing the minute someone looks like he's going to bust one of his pimples?"

"If he plans to graduate from the Academy and having a career outside of being a third class correction's officer, he will." Kirk firmly guaranteed coming out of his bedroom, digging at the already beet red skin on his arms. 'What the hell is this Bones?"

"It's a rash." Was the dry response.

"That much I deduced by myself." Growled Kirk as he plopped down next to McCoy. "What I meant was, where did we get it from?"

Giving the Admiral one of his best 'Get real' looks, McCoy began scratching on the arm. "Where do you think? We undoubtedly got it from some of that vegetation we were lugging around the countryside last night. I told you we should've gone back and a light of some kind. When it gets later in the day and the 'heat' has died down I'll saunter over to my office and pick up some ointment."

"It itches and burn's like hell." Kirk said, as if McCoy wouldn't have already been aware of the same fact.

"Just be glad it's on your arms and hands."

Taking only a smidgen of solace in that piece of advice, Kirk settled farther back into his couch when the door chimed. Neither one of them moved or took a breath as they sat completely still side by side on the couch, trying desperately to ignore the painful tingling that was running up and down their arms, quietly willing the soul on the otherside of the door to simply leave.

It failed miserably, as expected when the chimes rang out again.

"If it's the authorities, I'm warning ya right now, I'm singing like a bird when they haul me in. I was just following my commanding officer's orders. And if they want me to squeal, I'll squeal." McCoy quickly stated, resuming scratching along the back of right arm.

"Bones, you sound like you're in a 1930's B prison film." Kirk said as he hauled himself off the couch and headed for the door. "Try and hold it together until they atleast bring out the rubber hoses, okay."

When the door opened, Kirk was surprised to find a young Andorian standing there with an elongated gold foil box in hand, a large gauzy red ribbon tied into a bow around it. As he finished rolling down his sleeves, the Admiral glanced over his shoulder at McCoy, then back at the Andorian and box.

"Can I help you?" He finally managed, mentally going through his Rolodex of names to decide who had sent him any thing for Valentine's Day.

"Yes sir. We we're notified at the flower shop that Doctor McCoy was staying here for the weekend." The Andorian said glancing at his small datapad in held in his other hand. "Is this so?"

"Err…yes. Yes he is here." Kirk said trying to swallow the coughing spasm that nearly erupted when he heard McCoy's name.

"Great. These are for him." Handing the gold foiled box over to Kirk, the Andorian glanced at his datapad. "I don't suppose you would mind making the notification?"

Tucking the box under his arm, Kirk barely twitched a begrudging eyebrow as he punched in the necessary code. "There you go."

Checking the code as he started to turn away the Andorian deliveryman faintly smiled. "Great. Thanks Admiral. I see you guys were lucky last night."

"Lucky? In what way?" Kirk inquired stepping back in the doorway when hearing the last innocent comment made by the young Andorian. "Something happened last night, did it?"

Two steps away from the apartment door, the deliveryman blinked back at Kirk then half smiled, while one blue green antenna slightly quivered. "Well, yea. Someone broke into a few of the lobbies of the smaller instructive buildings on the Academy grounds. Weird thing is the only thing they took was the flowers out of all the planters, including some of the women's restrooms."

"Really?" Replied Kirk sounding enraptured by the news, as he planted a shoulder against the doorframe. "And they don't have a clue to who was behind it?"

"So far, they've only have a couple of blurry screens of two figures stumbling around in the dark, lugging around armful's of these flowers. You woulda thought they would've planned better, by bringing something to put those plant's in instead of dragging them around the grounds, risking a chance of getting caught."

"Sounds like one of those spontaneous, romantic types of action's by a pair of brazen, penniless young men in an attempt to ensure their sweetheart's a Valentine's Day they'll always remember." Kirk said smiling more at the news of the obscure video than anything else.

"Nah. The authorities figure it's just a coupla punks who had too much to drink, too much on time on their hands and not enough dilithium crystal's in their engines to start up a worker bee." Laughed the Andorian checking his wrist chrono. "They should find out who those two jerks are before the lunch."

The confidence had been quickly replaced with rankling, as Kirk straightened up from his post. "And why is that?"

The smile flashed briefly on the deliveryman's face once he saw the less than happy-go-lucky expression on the Admiral's face. "The authorities think they may have picked up a sound bite. One the bonehead's tripped headfirst into one of the planter's in the women's restroom in the zoological building, and spewed out a few words they're still deciphering. Rumors are it's ancient Vulcan. And of course, there was the hybrid poison Cupid's Globe blossom they ripped out of the planter in the botany building."

"Tell me, being a deliveryman for a local flower shop, how do you know so much about all of this?" Kirk asked his voice having an odd dangerous edge to it, while the elongated foil box under his arm was slowly being crushed.

Rechecking his chrono, the Andorian twitched an antenna anxiously. "The guy that was heading up security in that area last night, is my roommate. Excuse me, Admiral. I'm getting backed up on my deliveries."

Walking back into his apartment, Kirk's jaw was working overtime as he thought about what had happened overnight. Coming to a standstill at the end of the couch he glared down at McCoy, who was trying to keep from digging at his raw arms.

"Well, are we confined to quarters or what?" McCoy asked through gritted teeth as he rubbed his hand along the warm patch's of skin.

"These are for you." Kirk said tossing the nearly bent into box of flowers, the red gauze ribbon now totally limp hanging off to one side like a sweat soaked handkerchief.

"For me? Flowers?" He sounded more revolted by the gift than surprised, considering the irritated shape he was in. "If I didn't know any better, someone must have a sick sense of humor."

Removing the sad ribbon and tossing into on the coffee table, the Doctor cautiously tugged off one end of the box and peered inside. An eyebrow waggled uncertainly as he pulled the remainder of the lid off. Setting the crinkled lid on the table as well, he pawed through the tissue paper, long stemmed red roses and shred's of fern, he retrieved a small embossed note card.

"Hey! They're from Herminie!" A huge ecstatic grin spread over the Doctor's face when he glanced up at Jim. "She's inviting me for a Valentine's Day dinner at her place. Can you believe that!"

"No Bones, I can't." Was the firm response. "What exactly is Cupid's Globe blossom?"

"It's a hybrid they've developed at the Academy. It has an irritant from a poisonous plant brought in from Alrigirn III to be a deterrent to animals to keep them from eating the flowers, leaves and fruits off of it. Why?" Admiring the box of roses, it was plain the Doctor was about as interested in the main topic as he would in a Klingon baby shower.

"That much I guessed at, but what type of fruit was it crossed with Bones?"

Setting the box of roses on the coffee table, McCoy glanced back up at Kirk, with a feeble, 'don't do anything you'll regret later' smile on his uneasy face. "Um...peach."

"If I recall correctly, you made a specific request for peach blossom's if we spotted any. Which we did. Why didn't you say anything then, that it had an irritant poison!" Kirk had taken two advancing steps on the Doctor, before McCoy had decided to jump up from his seated position.

"How the hell was I going to know, that's what it was? The only thing I recognized was the smell! I kept telling you we needed a hand light of some kind while we were rummaging around out there? Besides, it was your idea originally. So don't go yelling at me about something I told you from the beginning was going to be either a gigantic dishonorable discharge trial or the death of both of us. But I had to be jackass enough to go along with ya!" Argued McCoy while sliding down to the opposite end of the couch, unsure if he should try to maintain a defensive stance or keep an opening to dodge back into the guest room.

"All right, all right." Relented Kirk realizing that he needed to take the brunt of the responsibility in the whole caper. "We got a little carried away last night. Maybe more than a little. Atleast it was all in a good cause, even if it wasn't necessary."

"Yea, well it don't mean much, considering that I won't be able to go." Snorted McCoy flopping back down on the end of the couch and absently itched at the back of his hand.

"Not go? We risked our career's last night so you could get a chance like this. And now she throw's one right into your lap, and you say you're not going to go? Why the hell not!" Demanded Kirk giving his friend a hard waiting look.

"You tell me how are either one of us going to be able to go out of this apartment for the entire weekend with this rash all over our hands and arms? If it's known that part of what was taken was the Cupid's Globe blossom, we'll be a walking advertisement. We might as well write, 'Arrest Me' and 'Plantnapper' on our foreheads. I can't go over there with this, especially with her being a horticulturalist. She'd spot it like Spock would notice if someone had replaced a string on that blasted harp of his with a piece of dental floss." Argued McCoy a deep look of melancholy settling on to his face when his eyes landed back on the box of roses. "Like it or not the two of us are going to have to spend the next forty-eight hours together in here."

"God what a waste." Muttered Kirk slowly sinking down on the couch as well. "Locked up in my apartment for forty-eight hours on Valentine's Day with you."

"Try not to be so maudlin, okay Jim." Sneered McCoy from his side of the couch.

For the next ten minutes, the two men sat quietly staring wistfully out the windows, both absently scratching at the swelling on their arms. Coming back to life first, Kirk blinked then glanced over in the direction of his bedroom door, the gazed out the window and finally looked over at McCoy.

"What am I going to do with all those flowers in the bathtub then? By tonight, they're going to start smelling, and not in a favorable manner."

"Well, will pull out some of those moving crates you kept and being a compost pile for the apartment building." Suggested the Doctor with a roll of shoulder. "With your capabilities in bullshit you should be able to convince them around here they need one."

Considering the idea, Kirk slowly nodded as he was already working on his speech for the apartment building's manager. If he touched it up here and there, he should be able to pull it off.

They became silent again, staring out the window and scratching once more. Then it was McCoy who stirred first.

"You know what Jim."

"What Bones?"

"I hate Valentine's Day."

FIN

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Wolf In The Fold: Actual planet the women were murdered on in the episode.