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Document number 23.10150.1 led to DOC 23.10150.5. DOC 23.10150. 5 had to be submitted with DOC 23.200.1 A1,ii, unless a flag grade Star Fleet officer had previously submitted DOC 23.213 within the last thirty days, in which case DOC 23.200. had to be filed with Star Fleet Operations prior to DOC 23.10150.

All this to replace two baffle plates, blown to pieces when they'd had a slight run in with a motley crew of Klingon pirates. Jim's first mistake was to forgo Star Base 10, its Star Fleet engineers and supplies, that were more than able to accommodate the Enterprise. No, in order to be expedient, Jim had opted for Genio Station, one sector closer, run by the current bane of his existence, Oset Knut, an Osarian merchant with a penchant for technicalities and an inability to speak plainly.

Jim ran both hands through his short blond hair, pulling hard at the ends. He might be a genius but Administrative Law was the last bastion of soul killing, brain atrophying, intergalactic mental masturbation. Anyone who honestly could say they understood the ins and outs of requisition forms applicable to an independent, alien run repair station on the ass end of the Galaxy, was either lying to move up the glacially slow ladder in the Judge Advocate program or an asshole. There was only one being on the ship that understood this mind-numbing jargon and he wasn't a liar nor was he in JAG. That would be Jim's Vulcan First Officer, Science Officer, best friend, lover, and resident asshole.

Jim indulged in a brief fantasy of Spock staring down Oset Knut, flipping through the bevy of documents at warp speed and emerging quietly triumphant with the baffle plates. It didn't even register that his fantasy had nothing to do with sex, which was usually the case when Spock came to mind.

But Spock was unavailable. At this very minute, he was lying under a pile of blankets in his sweltering quarters, shivering, coughing up a lung, and spreading sickly green mucous over Jim's borrowed pillow. McCoy, who was checking on Spock periodically, confided that although the Altarian Flu was not contagious, it might be wise to stay as far away as possible from the increasingly testy Vulcan.

Jim rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands and stared blearily at the computer screen once again. DOC 23.10150.5 had been filed already with Oset Knut, who had replied with no less than 24 additional forms to be used instead, or in tandem, or in perpetuity, Jim honestly didn't know. He submitted the documents for translation (because of course, they weren't in Standard), set the computer for automatic fill and began again.

The soft 'ping' of the computer was his first warning, which he ignored in favor of filling one more line. It was followed by a chime, his second warning, also ignored, when he completed the page. Suddenly, the screen blanked and a message flashed advising that the files were corrupted and deleted and would he like to request additional forms from . . .

Jim might have screamed in frustration. He most definitely slammed his hands on the top of his desk hard enough that the computer screen blinked again and went black.

"No, no, no!" Jim pushed back his chair and kicked his desk leg with his stocking feet. This was another miscalculation. Jim only allowed himself the indignity of hopping around his cabin on one foot for a few brief seconds before he began to pace, limping across the small room, swearing a blue streak as quietly as he could.

God, it hurt. His foot screamed, his eyes itched; he had a migraine starting up and was well beyond furious that he and his ship were being held hostage by a soft, self-satisfied bureaucrat who had no respect for Star Fleet. Actually, Jim had a niggling suspicion the Osarian had no respect for Jim himself. It was something about the sly squint, the snide comments when Jim asked for clarification, and the fact that even when he sent exactly what was requested, he heard giggling or gurgling, he wasn't sure which. Yes, he was the youngest Captain in the history of the Fleet, but damn it, he had to get Enterprise up and running and on to her next assignment before the Admiralty decided to add on another layer of pain.

Oset Knut was probably sitting in his office right now, a plumb spider spinning webs of paperwork, lying in wait for Jim to make yet another mistake. If Jim could just talk to someone, someone who was brilliant, had an eidetic memory, and a talent for detail. If he could just get that someone to peek at the docs . . . (which hadn't really disappeared into the ether, life was inherently unfair that way). If he just sat in Spock's room, basking in his presence, he might absorb some of his attention to minutiae. Or, he could bribe him. Yup, that was the ticket.

Although Jim couldn't be characterized as a romantic, he did have his moments. There was the time he'd covered Spock's bed with rose petals, only to arrive later than planned to Spock sitting in the middle of the bed snacking on the blooms. He had endlessly researched Vulcan cuisine and finally came up with a recipe for Plomeek soup and coerced Chief Ramsey into making it, unfortunately causing Spock to have a severe allergic reaction that resembled sunburn. Jim fondly remembered rubbing soothing cream into Spock's skin, however.

Jim was loath to bribe Spock with more food, but he had a secret weapon, designed to both cheer the Vulcan up and grease the skids, as it were, to help Jim with Oset Knut. An actual, honest to god, unreplicated avocado, grown in an ancient grove in Santa Barbara, California and sent through a variety of disreputable sources to the Enterprise, intended only for use in this specific kind of scenario.

With that tactic in mind, Jim grabbed his PADD, limped to the fresher door adjoining Spock's quarters, and palmed the mechanism. He stopped at the sink and looked in the mirror. At the sight of his blood shot eyes, he gave his reflection a toothy grin and splashed water on his face, taking a moment to brush his teeth, because you never knew when a Vulcan would make a spontaneous recovery. Jim scrubbed a towel over his dripping face and carelessly tossed it back on the rack. As he turned to go, he glanced back at the crooked towel and had a brief pang of guilt. Spock always straightened the towels and chastised Jim for leaving the room untidy. Jim smiled at the towel and reached over to dampen it, taking the peace offering with him as he entered Spock's cabin.

Over the last few months, he had annoyed McCoy endlessly by extolling Spock's virtues. The bridge crew had learned to look away and smother their smiles behind well-placed hands as Jim frequently beamed at Spock. Spock would deny both modesty and immodesty as human traits but unquestionably basked in Jim's attention and appreciation at every opportunity.

Jim could write sonnets and sing songs about how perfect Spock was. His intellect was precise, his humor sarcastic, his delivery deadpan. He was meticulous about every detail of his life, from his work, to his uniform, to his unnaturally shiny hair. And he was beautiful, usually.

Not tonight though. Spock was a heap of linen; just the tip of his nose was visible, shiny and bright green. His hair was stiff with sweat and an unwashed odor wafted from the bedclothes. And the sounds! Between the wet coughing, followed by a grating clearing of sinuses, interspersed with snorts and possibly snoring, he was hardly his usual picture of perfection.

Jim loved him dearly but even he had to admit he was not pretty at the moment. Or desirable, or, more importantly, conscious. Well, true love is not a coward and Jim was desperate. He sat gingerly on the edge of the bed and placed a gentle hand on Spock's shoulder and gave it a tender squeeze.

Spock responded with a gurgle that might have originated from his nose.

Jim rubbed Spock's bony shoulder with just enough pressure to be soothing.

Spock responded by clearing his sinuses with a honk and a wet swallow.

Jim was becoming nauseated but persisted with a gentle shake.

Spock rolled over on to his back and let out several explosive sneezes that coated Jim's face and tunic with, well, emesis.

Spock opened green puffy eyes and squinted up at Jim.

"What do you want?"

Not exactly the response Jim wanted to hear. He wiped his face with his sleeve and handed Spock the warm towel in the hopes of pacifying his legendary but rarely expressed temper.

Spock rubbed his face with the towel and sneezed into it a couple more times before handing it back to Jim. Jim took it with two careful fingers and dropped it onto the floor. Spock propped himself up on an elbow and glanced at the towel on the floor and back to Jim accusingly.

"I'll pick it up, I swear."

Spock's expression was disbelieving and Jim was momentarily crushed. Then he remembered his mission and brightened.

"Spock, I have a favor to ask you and I'll make it worth your time."

Spock frowned and coughed wetly into his hand. "The only thing you have that I might desire, I do not at this time."

Jim's eyes widened. He hadn't even considered offering him sex. Clearly, Oset Knut and DOC 23.10150.5 had gotten the better of him. He changed tactics in a nanosecond.

"Well, perhaps not now, but as soon as you are better . . ."

Spock shook his head, not willing to be bought so cheaply.

"I may not have much time left, so tell me what you want so I may drown in peace."

Jim smiled and produced his PADD from behind his back. Spock snatched it and laid it down on the rumpled bedclothes. After one last glare at Jim who was batting his eyelashes, Spock began to review the forms at the expected warp speed.

"This will cost you."

"I know and I have just the thing."

"What is it?"

"Don't you want to be surprised?" Jim's blue eyes got rounder.

Spock glared.

"An avocado."

Jim saw the tell tale interest flash across Spock's face before the inscrutable screen slammed down.

"Guacamole is hardly a sufficient reason to . . ."

"Not guacamole. An honest to god, unreplicated avocado from Glen Annie Road in Santa Barbara."

Spock was transfixed. "Glen Annie Road?" He gulped wetly.

"In Santa Barbara."

"I am not deaf, Jim. I heard you clearly. I just could not believe my ears."

Jim looked fondly at Spock's fever flushed ears. "Then we have a deal?"

Spock didn't answer but returned to a now frenzied review of the PADD. After a few moments, he looked up, meeting Jim's eternally hopeful eyes with a frown. "I do not understand."

Jim literally sagged. If this Byzantine morass was too much even for a Vulcan, albeit a sick one, what chance did he have? Jim started to slide the PADD back toward him, looking as pathetic a possible.

Spock grabbed it back and an index finger stabbed the screen. "You have filed the correct forms to replace the baffle plates. What more do you want?"

"What? No! I have to file DOC 23.200. , or Pike has to file DOC 23.213 or someone does."

"No, Jim." Jim heard "idiot, moron, or insufferable human," in his tone.

"You filed DOC 23. .b when we arrived at Genio Station, you need not file anything further."

"Then, tell me why Oset Knut, that evil son of a . . . keeps sending me all these new forms?"

Spock coughed delicately into his fist and reached for a glass of water. "Perhaps you should offer him the same impetus you have offered me?"

"You want me to sleep with him?"

"Certainly, Jim, if that is your wish."

Jim smacked the sarcastic bastard with the PADD.

"Give him something he desires and can not obtain elsewhere in addition to the credits and forms."

"You mean BRIBE him? With what?"

"I believe Osarians have an unfortunate obsession with certain blooms."

"You want me to send him flowers?"

Spock tisked. "I would suggest you ask Mr. Sulu to part with some of his hibiscus plants, perhaps in a festive red or yellow color, and send them to the station with your compliments."

Jim studied Spock's puffy face closely to make sure he wasn't being sarcastic again. No, he seemed serious.

Jim rubbed his fingers over his chin, thinking. It would be laughably easy.

Forty-eight hours later, the Enterprise was on her way, complete with two new baffle plates. Jim sat at his favorite table in the mess, bragging about how he bested Oset Knut. Certainly, the command crew sitting with him and McCoy were well aware of the real truth of the matter but Jim's over-the-top retelling had them all laughing at him with affection.

It was a chorus of teasing and jeers that greeted Spock when he entered the mess and found himself standing at Jim's shoulder, one eyebrow cocked. Jim turned and grinned up at him.

"I assume the nature of this gathering is celebratory?"

McCoy huffed, "You assume correctly. Jim was able to pry those plates from that Osarian's sticky fingers with a masterful play, if I do say so myself."

"Aye, me bairns are feelin' most safe and secure." Mr. Scott sighed and leaned back precariously in his chair.

"Had to give up some flowers and other things, but well worth it." Mr. Sulu sounded vaguely regretful; he hated sending his plants to a new home.

Spock brightened. "I take it Mr. Knut was satisfied with the flowers then?"

Jim glanced around the table. "More or less."

"In that case, Captain. I am here to collect, now that I am recovered."

"Collect what Mr. Spock?" McCoy's eyes twinkled.

"Why, my payment for sorting out the forms on my sick bed. I believe, Captain, you owe me an avocado."

"Well, Spock, about that . . ." Jim looked guiltily at his hands clasped on the table.

"Yes, Sir?"

"You see, well, maybe you don't. Oset Knut is very fond of hibiscus plants and appreciated the gesture but we needed a little extra grease to get the deal."

"Grease, Captain?"

"You know, a little something extra to sweeten the pot."

"You mean you offered him my avocado?"

"Well, not exactly."

"Not exactly, what?"

"It wasn't exactly yours yet, so . . ."

"Captain. I regret to inform you, payment was offered and accepted. I expect remuneration."

Jim threw up his hands, placatingly. "What do you want me to do? It was the only avocado we had."

Spock straightened and glanced around the mess.

"In that case, I will take you up on your other offer."

With that, Spock grabbed Jim by the elbow and propelled him out of the mess and back to his cabin. As the mess doors closed behind them, Jim's chuckle punctuated by an occasion yelp was heard clearly from the corridor.

It was knowing smiles all around the mess table.

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