"Come on, Spock, it'll be fun!"

"I am strongly disinclined to agree, Captain."

Jim huffed in irritation and fixed his First Officer with his best I'm-the-captain-and-I'm-in-charge glare. Unfortunately for him, it had yet to create the desired effect. Like, ever. "Spock, we've been on this ship for 5 months. This is shore leave. You can't stay here hiding in your lab the whole time."

"I had no intentions of doing so, Captain, as I was and currently remain unaware of any imminent threats from which it may be prudent to hide," the Vulcan replied, raising an eyebrow. Jim knew him well enough to recognize that small gesture to mean Spock was simply being stubborn. Well, two could play at that game.

"I mean it, Spock. You're getting off this ship. If you don't come with us I'LL be the one you have to hide from." He turned on the full, not-messing-around face. Still nothing. That eyebrow rose even further so it nearly brushed Spock's hairline, and his lips twitched, as if holding back a smile. Not good.

"That is a most illogical statement, Captain, for if I were not with you there would be no need to hide to escape your presence, as you would be incapable of dealing me any physical injury."

Jim groaned and rolled his eyes. Spock may be his second-in-command and his best friend, but sometimes dealing with him was just a pain in the ass. Then inspiration struck, and he smirked devilishly. Spock immediately began to look uncomfortable- or at least, uncomfortable for him. "Physical injury, Spock? I would never!" Jim exclaimed, in mock horror. Then his voice dropped to suspicious innocence. "I was just going to let Uhura know that her boyfriend is an anti-social bump on a log who won't even go out with her tonight."

Spock's worried look deepened to something that was almost detectable to someone other than Jim, but he held his ground. "You call her only as a final resort, for Nyota-"

"What about me?" Uhura herself asked, stepping onto the bridge. Jim almost laughed aloud- Spock would have paled just then if he'd had any color in his face to begin with. "Are you giving Kirk a hard time, Spock?"

Spock looked as if he didn't quite know how to answer. "Our discussion might be described in that manner, yes."

"Good." Uhura said, firmly. Spock visibly relaxed, and the smirk dropped off Jim's face. Should have known those two would side together. Still...

"Oh come on, Uhura, I'm trying to help you! Thesaurus Robot over here thinks he can stay on board the entire shore leave," Jim whined, trying to sway the balance back in his favor.

"That is inaccurate, Captain. I have plans to disembark to collect some much-needed supplies for the science laboratories, as well as-"

"That doesn't count, Spock!" Jim interrupted, exasperated. "You need to chill out sometime. Relax. Have fun. Captain's orders. We're all going out tonight and you are coming with us." Jim's compelling look received the same, unimpressed result.

"I do not believe it to be within your prerogative to issue such an order, Captain. At risk of repeating myself, I would much prefer to remain on the ship-"

"Oh really?" Uhura asked, fixing Spock with a hard look. After only a second, the Vulcan's eyes lowered and his face adopted a resigned expression.

How does she DO that? Jim asked himself for the thousandth time. It didn't really matter though- he knew when his XO admitted defeat.

Sure enough, Spock's next words were, "However, should Nyota find herself in need of an escort to whatever unsanitary establishment of questionable legality you manage to locate, it would be discourteous not to offer my services."

Jim smiled triumphantly and winked at Uhura. "I knew we could get him." Ushering Spock off the bridge, with Uhura following close behind, he clapped a hand on his First Officer's back and said, "Discourteous, ha! You just wanted to deprive me of the pleasure of having your girl for the night."

Spock tilted his head ever so slightly toward Kirk and gave a small, conspiratory half-smile. Before Jim knew what was coming, Uhura had swept his legs out from under him then continued walking down the hallway with Spock, the pair of them leaving their captain lying in a heap. Without turning around, Spock called back, "I have no comment on the matter, Captain."

Jim watched them go for a moment before getting up. Those two, he thought, shaking his head and smiling slightly. What would I do without them?

Now this, Jim thought, is perfect. The entirety of the Enterprise senior crew- though calling them senior was probably a misnomer considering their average age- was squeezed around a single table in a comfortably loud, crowded bar. Everyone was laughing, talking, simply enjoying one another's company. Jim couldn't help but smile. These were his friends, his crew, his family. He sipped his beer, mostly ignoring Bones's rant about "damn-fooled jumped-up sapsuckin' greenies who can't tell the difference between a myelopathy and a myotilinopathy..." and simply observing his crew, together, safe, and happy. Scotty was already on his 4th scotch and was "entertaining" Sulu with a Scottish folk ballad from his youth. Chekov (who seemed to know more about vodka than Jim was strictly comfortable with) was energetically discussing the merits of Russian language with Uhura, who seemed more amused by the young ensign's enthusiasm than anything else. She was tucked snugly against Spock, who- for all his protests- had loosened up enough to put his arm around her. Jim took that as a good sign. He turned his attention back to Bones as the rant ended, saying innocently, "Not much faith in the local docs, then, eh Bones?"

Bones gave him a pointed glare and seemed ready to start up again. That was his cue. Draining his beer, Jim stood and said, "Another!"

Cheers from the entire table answered him, with the notable exception of one pointy-eared Vulcan. Jim rounded on him. "Spock! Loosen up, will ya? You obviously haven't had enough to drink."

"My hydration needs are perfectly met at the moment," was the calm, automatic reply. Jim wasn't having that.

"I'm getting you a drink. What do you want?" he asked in what he hoped was his best no-nonsense voice. Not that the Vulcan ever listened to him.

"I see no logic in my partaking of these 'drinks' as you call them, as you seem more than capable of indulging for the both of us."

Jim laughed. "Your 'indulgement' would be, like, half a shot, Spock! I bet you won't drink because you're a real lightweight."

"I weigh precisely 82.6 kilograms," Spock replied, straight-faced. The crew laughed, used to this sort of banter between their commanding officers but enjoying it every time.

"I bet Spock 'ere could drink ye under a table, Captain," Scotty called, slurring a bit. Uhura and Bones exchanged a quick look and laughed heartily.

"Spock? He wouldn't even last one round! You've been drinking too much, old man!" Sulu replied, simply for the joy of seeing Scotty splutter.

"Old? Who's old? Ye listen here, ye smart-mouthed bairn, I-"

Jim cut him off, not wanting to see where Scotty was going with that. "Uh oh, now we've GOTTA settle this!" He pointed at Spock, who carefully extracted himself from Uhura and looked at the accusing finger questioningly.

"I do not comprehend your meaning, Captain."

"Drinking contest, Spock. You and me. Loser pays. That'll get you to loosen up!" Jim bounced excitedly- the thought of seeing Spock drunk was just too hilarious to pass up.

"But Keptin Kirk, sir!" Chekov piped up, nearly bouncing out of his seat in his eagerness. "Ze Commander-"

He was cut off by Uhura's sharp elbow in his side. "Ze Commander" caught Chekov's eye with a piercing Vulcan glare and gave a small shake of his head. With a comical innocence, Chekov's eyes widened in understanding and he stepped back, lips tightly pressed together.

"What he means, Jim, is the hobgoblin's probably never had a drink in his life- have you?" McCoy stepped in smoothly, looking questioningly at Spock. Chekov slapped a hand over his mouth to contain his laughter and began to bounce up and down. There's nothing more exciting for a child than a shared secret- even if that child is a certified genius and navigator of a Federation starship. Sulu gave his friend a puzzled look, and Chekov began to whisper excitedly into his ear.

"What's the lad goin' on aboot?" Scotty whispered to Uhura. She simply smirked and gestured for Chekov to let the engineer in on the secret, which the young Russian happily did. When he finished, Scotty flashed Sulu a triumphant grin.

Meanwhile, Spock was answering the CMO's question. "Affirmative, Doctor. I have never seen the logic or the appeal in partaking of such a substance."

"Come on, Spock," Jim said lazily, slapping his First Officer on the back. "It's not logical, it's fun. You know what that is, right? Fun?"

"'Fun' is defined in Standard as a person, object, or activity that provides enjoyment or-"

"Ugh!" Jim exclaimed, covering his ears. "Lay off the Vulcan-ness for a bit, would ya? Be a human tonight."

Spock leaned back, head tilted slightly. The rest of the crew waited expectantly. "I must confess the logic of such an activity still escapes me. However," he said as Jim seemed ready to renew the argument, "as I am endeavoring to embrace my human side, and a great number of humans partake in these so-called 'drinking games,' I find myself amenable to compete."

"Really?" Kirk asked, as if amazed his friend had given up so quickly. He didn't notice every member of the crew had begun to grin, or that Chekov was actually bend double, shaking with silent laughter. "Great! First round's on me."

He left for the bar, stumbling slightly. As soon as he was out of earshot, the entire crew burst out laughing. Wiping tears from his eyes, Sulu said, "Have to hand it to you, Spock, you've really got one over on him."

"Ze Keptin truly does not know zat-?" Chekov asked, but could not even finish the sentence before breaking down again.

"Are you kidding? Jim paid just as little attention in Xenobiology and Anatomy as he did every other damn class." McCoy shook his head. "Trust me, kid, he's got no idea." He glanced at Spock. "You're evil, you know that? I didn't think you had it in ya."

"Believe me, Doctor, my motivations in this exercise are not malicious in the least," Spock replied primly. Then he quirked an eyebrow and allowed the tiniest of smiles to grace his features. "I am merely instructing the Captain in the existence of no-win scenarios."

"Bullshit," McCoy responded, and they all laughed again.

As Jim returned to their table, laden with drinks, he asked, "Did I miss something?" His only response was more laughter.

"We're just excited to see Spock take a drink for once," Uhura answered, making Jim laugh too.

"You'd better watch out, Spock, even your girlfriend's against you," he laughed. Then he got to business. "Okay, listen. We're each going to take three shots, just to warm up. Then we'll see who can drink the most Romulan ales before one of us passes out and Bones hauls our ass up to Medical. Sound good?"

Spock eyed the three small glasses Kirk placed in front of him with distaste. "On the contrary, Captain, I do not believe even one of those syllables was pleasant to my hearing."

Kirk simply laughed. "Ready?" Picking up a shot, he held it out and said, "To the starship Enterprise." Spock raised his eyebrows, but deftly clinked his own glass against his captain's. Jim threw his shot back, feeling the familiar burn in his throat, then turned in time to see Spock take one dainty sip from the glass. The crew laughed. "Spock! " Jim exclaimed. "You're supposed to drink it all at once! This ain't a tea party!"

"Thank you for clarifying, Captain. I was unaware of that qualification in the given game parameters." Jim squawked, but was unable to further admonish his XO in proper drinking practice because just then Spock poured the remainder of the drink down his throat. And the reaction was priceless.

A flush promptly stained Spock's cheeks, turning them a faint, sickly green. After a moment's effort, he failed to keep his composure and coughed violently, stopping only when Uhura handed him a glass of water. After a grateful drink, he set the water down and glared at Kirk.

Jim stopped laughing long enough to ask, "So what'd ya think?"

"Captain, that was undoubtedly the most vile substance I have ever had the misfortune to consume in my entire existence." The crew laughed wholeheartedly.

"Great!" Jim replied, enjoying the scowl on Spock's usually-implacable face. "Don't worry, soon you won't even be able to taste it. Ready to go again?"

"I strongly advise against this, Captain."

Jim ignored him and picked up his second shot. With a exhalation that from anybody else would have been called a sigh, Spock did the same. After they'd both taken their "warm-ups," Jim said, "Okay, from now on, when I drink an ale, you do. Keep up with me. First one to admit defeat loses."

"I do not foresee this concluding as you intend it, Captain. But let us proceed."

"That's the spirit! Here," Jim said, handing Spock a drink. With a nod, Spock took it and began to drink. Grinning, Jim did the same. When he finished, a pleasant buzz invading his senses, he asked his friend, "How d'you like Romulan ale?"

Spock looked intriguingly at his empty glass. "I believe your earlier statement was accurate, Captain. I am under the impression that all of my fungiform papillae have lost their function."

Kirk laughed for just a second too long. "That's great Spock. Round two!"

Round two was soon followed by three, then four. As the crew kept up a count of the drinks, and encouraged each of their commanding officers in turn, Jim was astonished to realize how well Spock was keeping up. Like Sulu, he really hadn't expected his First Officer to last through the first one. He decided he should ask how Spock was doing- after all, he wasn't used to heavy drinking. "Hey Spock, you all right? You really shouldn't go too hard if you're not used to it. You might hurt yourself."

"Is this you conceding our contest, Captain?"

Well, that wasn't the answer he was expecting. "No way! You are SO dead!" he yelled, grabbing his next drink. Spock, with a small, half-smile, did the same.

Round after round followed. Though he knew the crew was counting, Jim lost track of how many drinks they'd gone through. The buzz had invaded his entire being, and the bar itself seemed to be moving about. But that was silly, bars didn't fly... Unless the bar was a ship! Wouldn't that be great, if he had a bar that was a ship? But wait, didn't he have a ship...?

Kirk finally threw down his half-finished glass in defeat. "I give up!" he exclaimed, the alcohol heightening his already-potent melodrama. The crew cheered for Spock, who, amazingly, looked not at all worse for wear. Jim tried in vain to focus on his friend. "How do you do it, Spock? You an' Uhura go on drinking binges without me knowing?" He tried his best to glare at the still-perfectly-composed Vulcan, but the hiccup that escaped him just then rather ruined the effect.

"Captain, I assure you Nyota and I have done no such thing," Spock replied calmly. Jim must be drunker than he thought, because he could have sworn he saw his First Officer's lips twitch, as if suppressing laugh. Then something that sounded suspiciously like a snort penetrated his fuzzy senses, and he looked beyond Spock to see Chekov and Sulu choking on laughter. Feeling like he might be missing something, he turned to Bones for support- only to find that he and Uhura were smirking, while Scotty was very earnestly studying a menu.

"What's goin' on here...?" he slurred, trying to get someone to look him in the eye.

Spock obligingly met his gaze. "Is it possible I failed to mention, Captain," he said lightly, "that Vulcans cannot be inebriated by the ingestion of ethanol?"

Jim blinked once, twice, as the surrounding crew burst into furious guffaws, his brain struggling in its current state to interpret Vulcan-speech into something comprehensible. Then it finally clicked.

Standing with the intent to throttle his smirking First Officer, Jim only actually managed to get out one thought before passing out on the table.

"You pointy-eared bastard."