--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

CHAPTER TWO

Thirty six hours later, the 'Enterprise' had been at Star Base 43 for just over five hours, when Kirk entered the cafeteria with a delicious looking, auburn haired dish on his arm. Five foot eight, dressed in a short filmy dress of a deep blue that matched her eyes, she also wore gold bangles on her arms and as earrings, matching the necklace of small gold coins and links of chain. The auburn hair streaked with gold was done in a style leaving it down with a couple of heavy, thick ringlets falling down her back, basically framing a nice little shapely form that moved with more grace than most in that cafeteria had seen in six months.

McCoy watched them as they approached the table he was sharing with Spock, unknowingly he had stopped chewing the mouthful of fried chicken he had chosen for dinner. He nearly stopped most functions the closer she came, but regained some minor composure when he noticed the curious look Spock had shifted towards him.

"Good evening gentlemen." Greeted the Captain, as the scent of gardenias suddenly rushed around the table in a thin wonderful cloud. "Mr. Spock. Doctor McCoy. I would like to introduce Ms. Coriander Kleinhuizen."

"Cori." She quickly through in with a deep rich voice, that went perfectly with the flashing enticing smile.

"Cori. This is my Second in Command, Mr. Spock. And my Chief Medical Officer, as well as the most cantankerous man in Star Fleet, Doctor Leonard McCoy." The sly, complacent expression on Kirk's face became even more blatant.

Both men started to stand up as the Captain introduced them only to be stopped the lovely Coriander with a wave of her hand and another flash of her smile. As they both sat back down, Spock and McCoy glanced at each other as they were waiting for the other to speak first.

"We've already been introduced on the Starbase, Captain." Spock said picking his napkin back up again. "We had a lengthy discussion of the benefits of the many types of crystals in use with meditation early today."

"Yes, it's been quite awhile since I've had such in-depth conversation." Deep sapphire eyes danced from Kirk to Spock and back again.

"You poor girl." Murmured McCoy reaching for the half-eaten drumstick laying on his plate then spoke directly to Spock. "With such a beautiful creature as this interested long enough to speak with you and the only thing you could think of to talk about was meditation. And you wonder why so many women fall asleep in your company."

"It would seem Doctor, that even if what you say is true, it is still a better situation than you generally find yourself." Returned the Vulcan without batting an eyelash.

"I suggest you quit now, Bones. I don't want to your swearing between sobs through my cabin walls interrupting my night." Kirk said under his breath as he glanced over at Cori with a tight, 'what can I say' smile.

Giving Spock a hard look that wavered between being peeved at what he had said or stunned by the fact he had said it, McCoy finally tore his eyes away from the stolid Vulcan and studied the couple.

"Did we embarrass ourselves again or do you have another reason for just standing there and not joining us for dinner?"

"Yes and yes." Kirk heatedly answered through his teeth. "We had dinner on the Starbase. I offered to give Ms. Kleinhuizen a tour of our ship. Anything she wants to look at, I'll be glad to show here."

Rolling his eyes towards the ceiling, McCoy coughed into his napkin. "Sick bastard."

Seeing the black eyebrow arch high along Spock's forehead, McCoy gave him a hard glare daring him to open his mouth. And for a heartbeat it appeared that the Vulcan was on the verge of making a reply, when a sharp toe of a boot caught him in the shin. It was equivalent to a opossum running up and punting an elephant, and although the Doctor's foot regretted the action it had made the impression enough that that the Vulcan lowered his eyebrow back down to respectable level.

"If you'll excuse us gentlemen. We've still got a lot to look at yet." An amazing amount of restraint was the only thing that kept Kirk from actually throttling McCoy with his bare hands in the middle of the room. That and the fact that Spock probably would have eventually applied that Vulcan nerve pinch just before the Doctor went completely unconscious.

Once the couple had left the cafeteria, Spock started to pick up his salad fork again silently wondering at the odd little wink McCoy had given the pair when they moved away from their table. However, he chose to refrain from inquiring about it, deciding it would be wiser to sit back and keep an eye on the situation in case it developed it something that the Doctor was unable to handle. He had his suspicions that it wasn't going to take long before the entire ship knew what was going on.

A wicked smile spread over McCoy's face as he returned his attention to his plate of food only to hesitate when catching the contemplative stare from across the table.

"What Spock?" He demanded dropping the drumstick again, the irascible glower returning to his face.

"I was just speculating Doctor." Murmured the Vulcan stabbing at the beets on his plates.

"Speculating?" Asked McCoy with a faltering tone. "About what?"

"That last comment you made before the Captain and Ms. Kleinhuizen left." Spock quietly replied then paused long enough to chew up and swallow a pickled beet, before fixing a razor fine stare on the Doctor. "If it was in reference to the Captain or yourself."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
It took the Captain less than hour to whisk Cori through the rest of the ship before he managed to herd down the corridor to the door of his cabin. The wool coat he was sporting was on the verge of slipping clear off to reveal the 'Canis lupus' side of his nature, before he had a chance to follow her through his cabin door.

Standing in the middle of the cabin Cori glanced around the space, a delicate eyebrow shifted slightly along the smoothly tanned forehead at the sight. Candles in different states of use were place in every corner of the room, while what other space was available was filled with crystal stones of every color imaginable. Pieces of silk were draped around the candleholders, and across the small round table in the corner of the room that also held the four candles, four rose quartz stones and in the center a fist sized piece of amethyst.

Clasping her hands behind her back, Cori wandered over to the table to give it look of interest. "I didn't realize you had any kind of curiosity in crystals and holistic healing, Jim."

"Well, you know Cori, out here it's always wise to have an open mind about everything and all the techniques that go along with them." Kirk said as he retrieved the slim lighter he had tucked away next to the door, and began lighting the candles while dimming the cabin lights at the same time. "Being a representative of Star Fleet, I think it shows our friendly intention's if we express some interest in the different cultures and traditions."

"'Friendly intentions.'" Murmured Cori running a long perfectly manicured finger over the jagged edges of the amethyst in the middle of the table. "If I remember right, that's the words Gary used when he first introduced himself to me back at the Academy."

"Yea, well Gary borrowed alot of things from me back then." The smile grew on Kirk's face as he continued around the cabin lighting the candles.

"Not everything, Jim." Came the warm murmured from the corner of the room.

Thinking it better not to add a comment to that, Kirk finished lighting the remainder of candles then replaced the lighter before turning his attention back to Cori who was studying the array of stones placed along the shelves of his desk.

"I'm amazed at the number of different crystals you have Jim. From agates to zoisite. Really I'm impressed." While speaking, Cori picked up an opaque green stone with tiny particles that were quite shiny and threw it at him.

Catching it in one hand, Kirk glanced at it a corner of his mouth twitching. "Green Aventurine. Protects and clears the heart. And attracts love."

The next stone she tossed, was a brilliant orange with both dark and lighter bands across its surface.

"Rhodochrosite. Encourages positive attitudes. And supposedly pulsates with love. It's also said to encourage spontaneous expression of feelings and passionate urges."

Lips pursing together in a highly attractive thoughtful pout, Cori slowly began to move in the Captain's direction. "Well, you do seem to know your stones, don't you?"

"Always have." Kirk replied with his infamous charm smothered half smile as Cori slithered up against him.

Looking up into the Captain's hazel gaze, Cori smiled softly. "Yes, I suppose you always thought so."

Feeling her fingers brushing against his left jaw line, Kirk tried to keep some focus on the subject they were discussing. "A few other's along the way have agreed on the matter."

"I'm sure many have." She purred her lips just grazing his, while pressing her body against his even more.

Quickly tossing the pair of stones in his hand off into the corner, Kirk slipped one arm around her slim waist. "Let's just say that I've had a one or two admirer's."

For a lapse for a number of seconds the pair were caught up in an entanglement of lips and bodies that the Captain would later describe in his personal log in surprisingly great detail with a few entries that needed a quick check in his thesaurus.

Breaking the lip lock first, Cori gave him another coy look while her mouth took a strange curve, her breath warm on his lips. "I don't suppose one of those admirer's could be Admiral Kenneth Faraway, my husband?"

"Husband?" Choked Kirk abruptly pushing the woman away from him, his face becoming three shades paler, then lost two more coats as he really let the news sink in. "It never said anything about a marriage in your records!"

"Automatically that makes me fair game, right Jim?" She spat back taking a step back a viscous crooked line forming across her painted lips. "I'm actually surprised you took the time to read my record! But I'm also pissed off that you would do such a thing to scope me to begin with! Not that it did you any good to begin with!"

"Listen, Cori this just a simple misunderstanding..." Kirk weakly began taking a step towards her hands raised in a gesture of some type of goodwill.

"Misunderstanding! I'll tell you what's a misunderstanding Jim! The repulsive fact that you've managed to convince yourself that every woman you flash that overly practiced smarmy smile of yours at is going to fall into some glorifying breathless love with you! Well, it doesn't always work that way fella! I didn't like you back in the Academy! I sure as hell don't like you now! And I'm pretty damn sure I won't be too appreciative of you later on in life either! Why the hell do you think I went out with Gary to begin with? Because I thought you were the biggest, freaking conceited ass I ever met!"

And with that she grabbed the closest thing she could get her hands on that had some weight to it and she was sure would make a nice deep dent in the man no matter where it struck.

The large chuck of amethyst made a dazzling beautiful arch as it flew across the cabin followed by a dull sickening thud which was the followed with the sound of a body crumbling to the floor. The last sounds were a satisfied snort followed by the word 'jerk', then the noise of filmy material rustling as the cabin hissed open and then just as quietly shut. Only noise remaining was the unusual pig-whistle breathing emanating from the prone figure lying on the floor next to the hunk of amethyst stone.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Now tell me again, she flat out hit you with the stone or threw it at you? Because, if she did throw it she must have hell of an arm." McCoy said doing absolutely nothing to hide his grin as he double checked the gash and goose egg sized lump on the side of Kirk's head.

"Threw it Bones. For the hundredth time, she threw it." Growled Kirk wincing slightly when he felt the Doctor's fingers graze the swollen area. "You're enjoying this way too much."

"Nah. I haven't even started yet, Jim." Taking a step back from the examination table, McCoy cocked his head slightly and managed to let his grin grow another eighth of an inch. "After all of this, I'm going to enjoy it."

Gingerly touching rising knot, Kirk blinked once then twice as he let the last sentence sink in and finally slowly looked over at the beaming Doctor. "You knew. You knew along, didn't you?"

"No. I didn't know all along." Shaking his head as he pursed his lips in a pondering manner, McCoy stared at the floor for a moment in supposed deep thought, then glanced back up at the Captain grin back in place. "I never had a clue she was married until I talked to her the other day. And married to Admiral Faraway."

"You…contacted her…after we spoke…the other morning!" Shock and angry echoed in both Kirk's voice and face as he started to slide off the table. "How could you do that?"

"Probably the same way you did. I asked Uhura to contact Star Base 43 and then I…"

"You know what the hell I'm talking about Bones!" Shouted Kirk and wished it hadn't when it felt as if a bomb had exploded in the side of his head. "How could you go behind my back and do such a…a..."

"A deceitful sick act?" Suggested McCoy waggling an eyebrow while rocking on his heels in a highly satisfied manner. "Simple, Jim. I knew there was no way come hell or high water would I ever have a chance to ever get back at you for the last few years of April Fool's Day jokes you've managed to spring on me on the actual day. So I thought, what the hell! What a perfect time to get you and you'd never see it coming. And when I explained to Ms. Kleinhuizen what you were up to, she was more than willing to help. Seems like a nice young woman too. Has a lot of common sense apparently."

"All this, because of some stupid April Fool's jokes! I can't believe it Bones. I just can't believe it! And that she went along with it." Obviously dumbfounded by the whole explanation, Kirk leaned back against the examination table in disbelief.

"Well, she did say she never liked you Jim. But we'll keep that just between you, Cori and me. And the Admiral.

That and the fact that you trapped her in your cabin and tried to seduce her. We'll keep all that between the four of us. And possibly the Judge Advocate." The tone of the Doctor's voice dripped with evil amusement. "I mean, if there's every a reason that comes along that I think they should be notified about this."

"Blackmail? Bones…you would stoop…to blackmail?" Kirk felt both physically and emotionally as if an entire squadron of armored Klingon's had run over him in spiked boots.

"Hell yes!" Snorted the Doctor. "I sure as hell ain't gonna spend every April Fool's Day or birthday from here on out having to lock myself in my cabin or be accompanied by an armed escort everywhere. It would be a pain in the ass, and more than little difficult to explain in the bathroom."

"But…why?" There was no question that the Captain was having some difficulty to grasp that anyone would do such a thing to him.

"Because Jim. You're a deceitful, sick bastard." The grin just continued to spread, as McCoy went to his medical cabinet and pulled a small bottle out, removed a few tablets from it then replaced it. "And you've been kinda asking for it."

"And I used to call you one of my closest friends." Grumbled Kirk straightening up from the table again.

"Only a good friend would show you what a jackass you've been." McCoy prophetically said handing Kirk the tablets. "Take these aspirin, get some rest and stay way from married women who have ninety seven-mile an hour fast ball."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"You know what you could do Jim, save all those stones and make some of those fancy stepping-stones with your name etched in them for Christmas presents." Suggested McCoy the next morning as he and Kirk entered the cafeteria. "Or maybe during off time you could take a jewelry making class. Or possibly Spock and I could chip in for your birthday and buy you some of those more of those holistic books and you can start a side job when Star Fleet starts dismantling it's ships."

"Bones, I'd advise you to shut your mouth or I'll find some place to put every single one of those stones." Muttered Kirk still nursing a small headache, as he paused just inside the door and glared around the filled cafeteria. "And don't you ever mention Valentine's or April Fool's Day to me as long as you live."

"What about mentioning women? I suppose I can still mention those I bet. Night and day. Seven days a week. Three hundred and sixty-five days out of the year."

"Yes Bones. You can." Kirk sighed sagging against the food processor while the Doctor ordered his breakfast. "Just not for few days. Unless you're alone in your cabin, then you can."

"Please Jim. By lunchtime I'll probably have a have a dozen female crewmembers in my sickbay with numerous complaints that I don't dare mention here because of its possible corruption of some of the younger members of this ship." Sniffed McCoy as he removed his tray from the processor and proceeded to look for an empty table.

Getting his own tray, Kirk followed the same path the Doctor had to a table at the back of the room and set his tray down across from McCoy's while doing a quick scan of the tables around them.

"I wonder where Spock is?" He wondered out loud after draining a third of his coffee.

"Maybe he's finishing his unpacking and is trying to cross-reference his underwear." Grunted the Doctor over his coffee cup.

"Still smarting over that dig from last night?" The tip of an eyebrow rose a degree or two, as Kirk managed a small smile.

"I'll get my revenge." McCoy declared waving his fork at the Captain. "I got my revenge against you. I'll get my revenge against that green blooded Britannica set."

"Believe me Bones, Spock probably believes having to be in your presence is revenge enough." Kirk replied poking a forkful of hash brown's into his mouth to keep from grinning.

Swallowing a bite of egg, McCoy scowled at Kirk. "So what are you going to do with all of those stones? You must have nearly two hundred of them."

Shrugging, Kirk began to speak then stopped again and suddenly narrowed his hazel eyes and gave the Doctor a suspicious look. "Why are you so interested in them?"

"No reason. I was just trying to make conversation. You know talk about something else besides, the next mission, the ship or those other thing's, with soft curves and big beautiful eyes." Was the innocent enough sounding answering, although the devil was dancing away in the pale blue gaze. "Why?"

"Because while I was cleaning up my cabin this morning, I noticed that a few of them were missing." Eyes narrowing even more, Kirk set his fork down and leaned a little farther over the table. "You wouldn't happen to know what became of them, would you Bones?"

"Me? How the hell would I know where they are?" Exclaimed McCoy appearing to truly be disturbed by the accusation. "Cripes, I wasn't in that cabin when she started throwing things. They could be anywhere. Under your bed, dresser or desk. In the shower or someplace better left unspoken."

"Ah-ha." Was the less than assured response.

Two minutes of eating went by when Spock appeared at the table and sat down next to the Captain with a peculiar look in his nearly black eyes. For him he appeared to be strangely unrested, but not in the sense of stress or tension. More in the line of a night that you weren't sure what was exactly wrong, but it was enough that you couldn't a decent ten minutes in a row of sleep look.

"If you don't mind my saying so Spock, you look like hell." McCoy said through a mouthful of sausage. "Like ya've been rolling around inside a full vacuum cleaner bag."

Blinking in the direction of the Doctor, Spock acted as if he wasn't sure what to give as an answer. "I was unable to rest during the night, and I'm a little hesitant to explain what the problem was."

Concerned at his First Officer's obvious quiet distress, Kirk straightened up in his seat glancing over McCoy who was still slathering orange marmalade on his toast, then shifted his eyes over to Spock.

"Why?"

Pursing his lips, Spock blinked again as he gazed down at his bowl of cereal an eyebrow quivering slightly until he glanced over at the Captain again. "For some unforeseen reason, for the entire night I was unable to keep from rolling out of my bed."

Staring at the Vulcan unsure if he really heard what he knew he had, Kirk ever so slowly moved his gaze back over to McCoy who was totally involved with cleaning up the rest of his breakfast. Well that was one stone that could accounted for. It was the rest that he had to worry about locating before the day was over with.

"Captain, if I may inquire..." Spock had noticed the gash on the side of Kirk's head and was giving it a scrutinizing look.

"Oh come on Spock...can't you tell?" McCoy said a grin exploding on his face as he waved a hand in Kirk's direction. "Without your always-strong honorable and pure influences keeping him in check the last few days, the Captain just went completely out of control, Spock. And he got stoned for Valentine's Day."

FIN

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Crystal Bible--A Definitive Guide to Crystals by Judy Hall
The American Timber Wolf