Pranks 17: The End.

If Jim Kirk were to spend any time guessing what his future held, this would have never made the list.

He stood at the podium, awkwardly tugging at his dress uniform, glancing down at his notes. Usually he preferred to do speeches without them, but this one was particularly difficult. He needed all the help he could get!

"Today we are here to honor an ensign who became an unlikely hero. I met him at the Academy. Our relationship could be described as competitive." To say the least! "He was the class comedian. Life was never dull with him around!

Time passed; he graduated and got assigned to a ship. It wasn't long until tragedy struck. Like many unfortunate ships in this sector, it fell victim to a Senali gas experiment. Everyone in the crew died, including Finnegan. However, his essence continued, too full of life to be destroyed. While his crewmates turned to hatred, nothing could destroy his prankster spirit.

Or so it seemed. As you all now know, a few days ago, he saved us all from a sinister plot by the Senali. They planned to undertake the ultimate experiment: to test a gas they believed would neutralize all species present here. Our scientists all agree that had they not been stopped, they would have succeeded.

In saving us, he was destroyed himself. No one can forget his dying scream, or the silence and stillness that followed. I wish to honor that sacrifice today made by an unlikely hero – Sean Finnegan!"

Everyone clapped and cheered, even McCoy in his pumpkin pants. He only wore them to honor Finnegan's final request. After today, he'd never wear the horrible thing again!

Jim stepped down from the podium and sat with McCoy and Spock. The few people there who knew Finnegan personally then stepped up and shared stories. Nobody there seemed particularly sad. But that was probably how the troublemaker preferred it.

Jim's mind wandered. As trouble filled as his days had been lately, it felt strange for him to be free from them all at once. What luxury it was to just sit here, undisturbed, without fear of being randomly, mortally embarrassed!

Meanwhile, McCoy was trying to chat up Spock. He felt strange ever since the mind meld, like something had shifted in their relationship. He'd learned things about Spock he'd never suspected, and it was taking time to process them. "So. It's all over."

"Indeed," said Spock.

"Now we can all go back to normal. Or whatever passes for normal in these parts!" McCoy conceded. Life was really never "normal" aboard the Enterprise. "Something extraordinary always seems to be happening."

"Indeed," repeated Spock.

"Is that all you have to say?" asked McCoy.

"What would you have me say, doctor?" queried Spock.

"How about how relieved you are that Jim's troubles are over? Or, what about how concerned you were when I wasn't myself? You might hide it, but you've got quite the emotional thunderstorm under there, Spock! I was wrong about you, weeks ago, when I said you'd never understand emotions. You just would like us to believe that you don't!"

"I do not have to possess the emotions to understand them," Spock argued.

"But you do "possess" them Spock! Don't forget, that meld of yours goes two ways! I know how you really feel about me."

"In this case, three ways. It being your first time, it is easy to see how you became confused about your experience."

"I know you, Spock," McCoy said, poking him lightly. "You don't fool me!"

"That is an illogical conclusion, since I already have." Spock's mouth made the barest quirk.

"Oh, you green-blooded hobgoblin! On the contrary, it shows that you did care. Didn't it? You pranked the Captain to help with his stress. Isn't it logical to conclude you were doing the same for me?"

"I believe it is time for us to go," Spock evaded.

While the Enterprise crew was indeed getting up to leave for the reception, McCoy knew it for the dodge it was. Nonetheless, he decided to let it go. His point had been made. Not bad for a guy wearing pumpkin pants!

That night, Jim Kirk reminisced about the past several weeks, starting with the burping computer, ending with today's funeral. Most people sat down and watched TV to get entertainment. With him, there was no need – his life was never dull!

He reached for his box of mementos. He was pretty sure he still had a hologram in there somewhere of the one time he'd managed to prank Finnegan good. He opened the box…

…and out popped a snake!

"AH!" Jim screeched in surprise, his voice going up in pitch like a girl's. He clamped a hand over his traitorous mouth, glad no one was there to hear it. "Looks like Finnegan left me one last surprise!"

He stared into the eyes of the obviously fake reptile. It reminded him of the Senali's true appearance, which had been revealed after Odessa's capture. Interrogating her revealed the Senali's plot to take over the entire quadrant without firing a single shot. So much disaster had been avoided with the aid of Finnegan!

"Maybe there is something oddly noble about his attitude. Maybe all that troublemaking challenged us to be the best we could be. Maybe being kept on our toes forced us to heights we never would have reached without it. Maybe that is the only way to defeat forces like the Senali."

Jim would never condone a full blown, all out prank war amongst his crew. Professionalism was important, and needed to be maintained. But perhaps a prank every now and then wouldn't hurt anybody. Maybe they could even have an official pranking week during particularly dull star mapping expeditions. He would talk it over with his senior staff. He had a feeling that Scotty would be particularly amendable. He'd never tell a soul, but he'd seen him put the bumper sticker on the Admiral's hovercar. Nogura still had no idea who'd done it! He had no idea his Chief Engineer was so devious. He'd have to watch out for him for sure!

But, in the meantime – and Jim never thought he'd say this – he was looking forward to a nice, quiet evening of paperwork, uninterrupted by the shenanigans of late.

For the first time in weeks, that is exactly what he got.

The End!

I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please let me know!