First, I must apologies for the long spell between chapters. Just when I thought I was getting my life together shortly after the last chapter in January. I was handed a diagnosis of Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Since then I have undergone many tests, surgery and Chemotherapy. During all of this my muses have been temperamental at best. I got sidetracked by a plot bunny when our Mars Rover Opportunity died and felt I needed to write a better ending for her. That little story is called A Prime Opportunity and it is over in the Transformers section if anyone is interested in reading it. Finally, though, Ash stirred and insisted I get busy again on this. I will admit this chapter was not an easy one to write. It does not have the intensity of the last three chapters but there are a lot of hints and bits and pieces that are important to the story line. As always, I own none of Star Trek but do own my original characters in this tale. This is a fan fiction done for fun, not profit. One last thing…it is nice to be back!

Birthdays, Chess and Coffee

Spock read the report again. It was illogical to hope that its rather volatile wording had changed between one reading and the next, but of course it had not. Stifling a sigh, (and no… that was NOT exasperation he was feeling.) he leaned back in his chair, long fingers going up to gently massage his temples. As Second in Command he had many duties. Going over his Captain's reports before they were transmitted was one that he had taken upon himself after the first time James T. Kirk's legendary diplomatic skills had failed when it came to communicating with Star Fleet Command. It was not uncommon for the Vulcan to send reports back to his commanding officer with recommended changes designed to save the man from getting busted back to Crewman third class. Usually, the Captain would smile, take his advice and make the changes…although sometimes not in a timely fashion. Both he and Doctor McCoy were notorious for "delaying" their paperwork if they thought they could get away with it. Although, Spock could not say he was surprised at the speed in which these particular reports had hit his desk. Nor could he say that the content was not expected. He had been in the Medbay while their CMO had treated Ensign Ash after that disastrous shore leave. He had watched as the Doctor, using archaic technique's, stitched torn wing sail closed where the badly healed scars had split under the stress of being airborne. Both he and the Captain had seen the specially modified ultrasound scan of new micro fractures present on weakened, twisted bones. McCoy's expressive face had tightened in anger…but his hands remained gentle, his tone of voice soothing as he did what he could without the aid of the advanced tools of his trade, then released the dragon into the care of her room mate with the admonishment to keep the damaged wing's movement to a minimum for a few days. Tired hazel eyes had met the cold, cold blue ones of their ranking officer before the Surgeon had quietly excused himself and disappeared into his office. The click of the closing door was rapidly followed by the crash of something being thrown against a wall and the sound of shattering glass. Recalling the look in Kirk's brilliant gaze as the Captain had turned on his heel and stalked away, it was no surprise that his required report to the Draconian ambassador had beaten the Doctor's to his desk by mere minutes.

Realizing that his massaging fingertips were doing absolutely no good, the Vulcan steepled them together in front of him, his index fingers unconsciously tapping against his lips as he reread the files for the third time. Up until now, both officers had managed, with his help, to avoid a diplomatic incident when it came to dealing with the Draconian's ruling council. Their ambassador had been no help when it came to getting any helpful information about Ash. In fact, all logic pointed to the fact that the arrogant creature was going out of its way to make sure that this experiment in Draconian/Human cooperation would fail! It really should come as no surprise that both the Captain and McCoy had finally reached the end of their patience in this matter. Dark eyes shifted over the CMO's medical report one more time, silently lingering on one particular line. The Doctor had proven many times that he had an eloquent command of the English language. Usually, time honored Southern manners prevented the man from turning it loose in quite this fashion. Spock blamed his growing headache on the fact that, for a moment he wondered, considering the Draconian's unique physiology; if what McCoy suggested was even anatomically possible. Probably not when one took into consideration the elder Draconian's prominent horns.

The fingers tapping his lip stopped as his mind registered the rare physical tick. Spock pulled in a long breath and released it though his nose as he slowly settled his hands on the desk. His headache and his evident lack of control were proof that he needed to take some time to meditate. He was expected at the party for Mr. Scott which had been delayed due to circumstances, then rescheduled here on the ship. Logically his time would be better served by staying in his quarters to bring his mental state back into an even balance. There would be alcohol present for off duty crew members to imbibe, so the Engineer would likely not even notice his absence. First though, he had to come to a decision about these reports. He noted that his fingers were now restlessly tapping the tabletop, again he forced them to stop. This just would not do. Lifting a hand, he rested the errant finger on one button on his communications console. Logic dictated that if a course of action brings no results when repeated then another solution must be implemented. Up until now, the Draconian Ambassador had paid no mind to their diplomatic requests for information. There was the possibility that a different language was needed here. All logic pointed to the fact that if they did not get some answers about their resident dragon soon, things were going to end very badly. Diplomatic solutions be damned. The Vulcan would forever deny that the small, hot ball of fury he had pushed down to the very depths of his mind at the first sight of Ash's crippled wing eased up a fraction when he made his decision and his finger stabbed down on the send button.

After a quick sonic shower, and change into his meditation robes, Spock had just settled in front of his altar when his door chimed. Noting the time, the Vulcan smoothly rose to answer it. He was expecting one James T. Kirk to be waiting outside so he was already organizing his facts as to why he would not be attending Mr. Scotts party when he palmed the door open. Those thoughts came to a screeching halt when the door slid open to reveal not the Captain, but someone much taller and… scalier! One elegant brow slowly rose as golden eyes flashed to red, then back to gold before Ash took a small step back and dropped her head down to his level.

"Commander Spock, the Captains wishes to see you in forward observation lounge, deck two. I is to be yours escort."

Before he could open his mouth to refuse… the dragon rose to her full height. Her red on black striping seemed to flash in the corridor lights while her long taloned fingers tapped a nervous tattoo against her belly plating.

"I is ordered to brings you to Mr. Scotts Birthdays party… Captains says I can carries you if I has to…is my orders."

The second brow rose to join the first. He had to give the man credit. Sending the Draconian was not only underhanded and sneaky, it was also logical. Spock could not refuse without countermanding a superior officer's direct orders. And even if he did, Ensign Ash was one of the few members of the crew with enough muscle to back up the Captain's threat.

"Carrying me will not be necessary, Ensign. Please come in while I take a moment to change."

He stepped back to allow the dragon into his quarters. The Vulcan was turning to head into his sleeping area when Ash made an odd sound deep in her throat. He turned to catch her whipping her tongue back in from where it had been testing the air around his backside. The dragon seemed concerned as her long neck curved around trying to keep both eyes on his behind.

"Are you sures you nots want to be carried? Doctor McCoys says you ass is too tight…might break your main springs if not loosened up. I no want you to break main spring… no problems to carry you to party if you want."

Spock was ashamed to admit, it took his brain a few seconds to make something of this illogical statement. Their CMO, it seemed, was most likely already imbibing at the party. He would have to mention to the good Doctor that the dragon had as much trouble sorting through the man's skewed literary idioms as he did.

"I assure you Ensign that I, in fact, do not possess a main spring; hence there is little chance that it could be broken. Please wait here for a moment."

It only took the Vulcan a few moments to change back into a clean uniform. When he stepped out into the main area of his quarters, he found the draconian standing silently in front of his meditation alter. Her long-fingered hands were still folded up against her belly scales, but her tongue flicked lightly above a shimmering crystal flame that took the center place on it…tasting the air around it without actually touching. Much to his surprise, the crystal chimed softly in response to her attention.

"Please do not touch the Jasif, Ensign, it is quite fragile."

The golden eyes that turned his way were shadowed with sorrow.

"Is sad…is alone…why?"

Spock hesitated, taking a moment to subdue the very visceral emotions that stirred to life at the dragon's words. There would never be enough time or logic to make that loss hurt any less.

"The Jasif is a small remnant of my world. The Katric crystal searches for those that are no longer here. It resonates, but there is no answering harmony."

Ash vibrated her scales, edge rubbing against edge to create a low, sad keen. She dropped her long face until she was looking him in the eyes.

"Is so sorrys, Mr. Spocks! Draconians not know what happening until planet screamed…too lates then…. would have come if had known."

One elegant brow slowly rose.

"It is illogical for you to feel sorry about that Ensign Ash. Without faster than light capabilities, Draconian ships had a zero percent chance of reaching Vulcan before it was destroyed. There was no logical way for your people to be of aid."

Something flickered in the dragon's knowing gaze, before she looked away. Her shoulders lifted, and her wings rustled in what looked like a noncommittal shrug before she softly growled.

"Maybes true, but I still sorrys for Vulcans now, they has no home."

Spock just inclined his head, not trusting that his voice would not reveal the emotions that this simple apology loosed from his iron control. He looked up as Ash hummed softly, deep in her chest, then blinked and straightened up. She shook head, her tightened fringe loosening to dance on the breeze this motion caused.

"You is ready to go now? Captain says I is off duty when we gets to party…I has not beens to a Birthdays before. Abigail Joneses says they is fun."

Spock nodded as he turned towards the door.

"Yes…I have been told the same thing."

He felt Ash as she shifted to stride slightly behind and on his left as security protocol dictated when dealing with a flight risk. REALLY, if he was not a creature of logic…that would be…insulting. His thoughts on how he was going to deal with one James T. Kirk were interrupted by the draconian softly muttering…

"Hmmm… McCoys must be wrong, you ass no looks too tight from back heres."

McCoy leaned against the wall, hazel eyes noting which crew members would probably be down to Medbay before their shifts for hangover relief. He took a sip out of his cup, rolling the strong, incredibly smooth liquid over his tongue before swallowing. The command crew had sanctioned real alcohol be served and most of Scotty's friends had responded by donating their favorite poisons. The CMO had donated a couple of bottles of very good Southern Bourbon. But that's not what he was drinking. Leonard was currently on duty. He had gone ahead and switched shifts with Dr. Mbenga so that the man could take a much-needed break and enjoy himself. His friend had shown his appreciation by gifting McCoy with a very large thermos of authentic Denubian coffee. The Doctor crossed his arms, careful of his cup, and sighed in contentment. If there was one thing he liked as much as good bourbon it was good quality coffee. The feathered Denubians were known for growing incredible coffee beans. The birdlike aliens had extremely high metabolisms, and any stimulant they ingested had to be very strong to affect them at all. There was something about the soil on the high mountains of their home world that produced a very expensive coffee that was dark, rich, smooth and very high in caffeine. A little went a long way. If he was careful, he could make it last a few days. Hot or cold…it did not matter…the brew was just that good.

Leonard had just lifted his cup for another sip when the doors slid open to admit one slightly pissed off looking Vulcan and his scaly escort. Most would have noticed no difference in the man's calm demeanor, but McCoy knew the half breed well enough that he could see the human side peeking out as Spock stalked into the lounge. Hazel eyes widened slightly as that dark gaze swept the room, settled on him for a moment, then narrowed before they moved on, presumedly to find one James T. Kirk. The Draconian behind him flashed a toothy grin at the doctor before tilting her head and giving the Vulcan's behind a pointed look. McCoy choked on his coffee… OH CRAP… she wouldn't have mentioned THAT…would she? The man hastily straightened up, maybe now would be a good time to lose himself amongst the crowd! Yeah…that was it…time to mingle.

Captain James T. Kirk sprawled loosely in his chair, both arms flung over the back. In one hand he held a curved glass of shimmering blue liquid. It was not his first and was over half empty, so the man was feeling pretty relaxed. A small amount of tension fought through the potent alcohol as he watched Spock stalk his way. Noting where Ensign Ash strode to the left and slightly behind the approaching Vulcan, Kirk had to hide a small smile behind his glass. He would have to commend the draconian on her attention to security protocols. Spock had a history of shaking his escorts. As a matter of fact, he was so good at it that Jim had held on to the small hope that the dragon would resort to carrying him. He just managed to wipe the smile this image brought to his lips as the Vulcan came to a stiff-backed halt by his table. Turning his innocent (he hoped) gaze towards Ash he flashed her a smile, while lifting his glass in a small toast.

"Ah… Ensign Ash, glad to see that you found him. You are relieved of duty. Go have some fun."

To Kirk's delight, the dragon's bright red striping shifted…bleeding to yellow then to a brilliant green. As she turned away, the dragon lifted her lips in a toothy close-mouthed grin.

"I broughts him safe and sounds…no broken mainsprings."

Kirk choked on the sip he had just taken. No emotions his ass. With the way the Vulcan's smoldering dark eyes narrowed it was a wonder that somewhere in the party one Leonard Horatio McCoy did not spontaneously combust. He risked a quick glance at where the doctor had been leaning against the wall and noted that the man had wisely vanished into the crowd. Settling himself back in his seat, Kirk took another fortifying sip of his drink and risked meeting his Second in Command's dark gaze.

"Hey there Spock…glad you could make it!"

Something wicked flickered in the Vulcan's eyes, and for a moment, he looked every bit the devil that McCoy sometimes accused him of being. It seemed like the temperature in the lounge sky-rocketed. Ash, who had not left her post yet, blinked and very casually took a step back. The Captain fidgeted in his chair, wondering for the second time in the space of a few minutes if spontaneous combustion was possible. He was thinking about making a run for it, then his friend blinked and whatever was there shifted to his usual calm expression. Spock stepped over and settled his long frame into a chair.

"It is not as if you left me any choice in the matter, Captain. Utilizing Ensign Ash to escort me here was quite logical if not a little underhanded. It is something I shall not soon forget."

Kirk froze for a moment, the sip he had just taken just held in his mouth. That sounded a bit like a threat! Startled blue eyes met brown as one of the Vulcan's elegant brows slowly rose. Kirk managed to swallow his mouthful. He had played chess with Spock often enough to know the Vulcan was incredibly adept at playing the long game. He planned his strategies well in advance of his actual moves. If the half breed was planning revenge, Jim and McCoy would never see it coming. In all probability they were well and truly screwed!

Curiosity held Ash in position for a few moments after she was dismissed. The tension that swirled between the two males had her cautiously stepping back as one did not want to get caught between two Elders spiraling towards a Challenge. She could not stop her tongue from carefully sampling the air and was surprised when she tasted no true anger from either of them. Spock's emotional flavor was always muted so it was no surprise when what little taste flowed around him disappeared as the Vulcan settled into his chair. Strangely, something almost like fear teeked the Captain's scent before the man swallowed, then grinned as he raised his glass in a toast towards the other. The Draconian gave herself a little shake before turning away. It was always best to avoid involvement when two strong males were at odds. The relationship between the Eldest of the ship and his officers reminded her of the Conclaves that the powerful Drakes of her society gathered in their efforts to influence and win the rare and elusive Queens. Only the strongest would gain a place at a ruling Queen's side as mate. The others were honored to protect and support the breeding pair and their nestlings. Being able to gather and control a group of loyal Drakes as one's Conclave was proof that a male had more than physical strength to offer a discerning Queen.

Ash snorted and looked for Abigail amongst the crowd. Her sharp eyes spotted her roommate across the lounge where the woman was playing music along with several other crew members. Her friend had tried to coax the dragon into singing with her tonight, but even with the Captain's permission, to many hard lessons in her former life made it difficult to try. This did not mean that she could not wander over and ENJOY the music though. If she were quiet about it, they might not notice if she hummed along. Ash glanced one more time at her commanding officers then strode away with one last thought. It was a shame Captain Kirk was not a Draconian, he would have made one hell of a Drake!

Ash's appearance and size had people parting before her as she made her way across the crowded room. Most all of them carried drinks along with plates of food and the Draconian found it impossible to keep her questing tongue in her mouth. The scent/taste of the food that the sensitive organ teeked out of the air was tantalizing but the same could not be said for what they were drinking. She had yet to find a drink containing alcohol that did not turn both her stomachs. Just as she was pulling the appendage back in, lips wrinkled a bit in disgust, it picked something out of the air that made her mouth water. Before she could follow it though, Abigail waved, calling her over. Ash hesitated, wanting to follow that scent/taste to its delectable source, but loyalty persuaded her to join her friend.

McCoy took a sip of his second cup of coffee and realized that maybe he should have stopped at one. The colors in the room were brighter, the sounds louder. Not to mention the way his heart rate had picked up probably was not healthy. Well…darn…he could not show up to an emergency with hands that were shaking…. but it was such a shame to waste any of the Denubian nectar of the gods! He had been standing (hiding) amongst the crowd that gathered around their little group of musicians. He was not surprised when Ash joined the group. It was amazing to watch how easy it was for her slip her very large body between the dancers. Something that big, sporting a long sinuous tail, should not be able to move that smoothly through a crowd. The dragon settled close to where her roommate was playing a complicated looking keyboard. Whereas she did not seem interested in dancing, her saurian head nodded in time with the music while her tail tapped a counterpoint as she listened. When Ensign Jones flashed her friend a startled smile, Leonard glided a bit closer only to hide a smile of his own by taking another risky sip of his coffee. The dragon was softly humming a harmony to the song the girl played. Abigail had confided in him that Ash sang for her all the time in the privacy of their quarters. Maybe someday, their dragon would feel comfortable enough to sing for all of them.

Since he was not planning on getting caught up in the dancing, the doctor checked the other side of the room for potentially exploding Vulcans. Both Spock and the Captain had migrated towards where an intense game of tri-dimensional chess was being played, Sulu must have been drinking for him to challenge Chekov. The whiz kid could give their resident pointy eared chess master an occasional run for his money! Seeing that said pointy eared hobgoblin actually had a mug of hot chocolate in hand and was notably more relaxed, Leonard casually made his way over to the game. He did not see the Draconian's bright golden gaze following him as her tongue flicked out, tasting the air.

Sulu sighed, and counting himself lucky to have lasted this long against his opponent, he tipped over his black king. A small splattering of applause pulled his attention away from the board. He had not realized that they had drawn their own little crowd, the Captain, Dr. Mcoy, and Mister Spock included. When Chekov flashed him a cocky grin and asked if he would like to play again, the pilot just shook his head. Even slightly tipsy he did not want to humiliate himself a second time. Looking around, he noticed that Spock was sipping a cup of hot chocolate. OHHH…that just might be interesting. The half Vulcan rarely played amongst a crowd…but if he was imbibing chocolate just maybe…? Sulu got up and turned towards their resident pointy eared chess master.

"Maybe Mr. Spock would like to play. He would certainly be more of a challenge then I was."

Chekov's rather predatory grin faltered as Spock's answer was to set his cup down and then fold himself gracefully into the chair that Sulu had vacated. Sulu flashed the boy a deviously charming smile in return all the while thinking, take that you little chess shark! Chekov returned a look that could only be read, I will get you for this, before turning to join Spock in setting his pieces up for what was going to be a challenging, possibly humiliating game. Sulu snagged himself another drink and found a place to watch. There was no way he was going to miss this!

Kirk swirled the remains of his third drink in its glass as he watched the chess match unfold. He had switched to Andulasion ale which was legal… and more important…much less potent then the Romulan variety. It would not due to for the ship's commanding officer to get publicly shit faced. He winced a little as Chekov moved one of his knights. The whiz kid was holding his own, but if he continued with his current strategy the Vulcan would have his king in ten moves. A slight motion behind his CMO caught Jim's eye and he watched in fascination as Ensign Ash glided silently up behind the man. It never ceased to amaze Jim how something that big could move so quietly when she wanted to. It was also obvious that McCoy had no idea the dragon was hovering just over his left shoulder. The man was clueless when that narrow saurian head dipped down and slithered to the side in order to slip a long black tongue into to his cup of Denubian coffee. The Captain clamped his teeth down on his tongue the second time Ash stole a clandestine taste but smothered snickers around him showed that others had noticed what was going on and were less apt at hiding their amusement. It wasn't until the third time the dragon slipped her tongue in uninvited that McCoy noticed something was off as more people watched in silently snickering fascination.

"What are ya all looking at? Have I suddenly grown second head?"

The Doctor lifted his arms to check himself over. When he did this, his left arm interfered with Ash's latest attempt and her tongue slurped up the man's hand instead of hitting the cup. McCoy gave a very unmanly shriek and spun around.

"CHRIST on cracker ASH…How many times do I have to tell ya… personal space…!" The dragon probably would have gotten away with just this verbal admonishment, but the Surgeon's detail-oriented eyes just happened to notice the small drop of coffee that chose this moment to drip from her scaly lip. Ash's agile tongue hastily slid out to catch it before it could be wasted on the floor. The CMO drew himself up straight and pinned the beast with his best glare.

"Ash…you did NOT have that…" He stabbed a finger at her errant tongue… "Swimming around in my drink, did you?"

The Draconian hastily pulled the offending organ with its drop of evidence back into her mouth.


Everyone around the table, except for Spock and Chekov (who was trying to figure out how he had just lost that knight) broke out in laughs they could no longer contain.

Ash blinked at the laughter then lowered her head as the Doctor narrowed his eyes and put his cup out of reach. She wrinkled her lips up in a closed mouth ingratiating draconian smile.

"Well…. Yes…. I is very sorrys."

The way she smacked her lips as her greedy gaze followed that cup, gave the impression that the dragon was not sorry at all.

A slightly crestfallen look crossed her long face as she watched McCoy cover his drink with his hand...even though it WAS a little late for that.

Kirk finally managed to get his amusement under control.

"Do you like coffee, Ash? I never see you drink it in the mess hall."

The draconan's lips curled up in a look what could only be described as absolute disgust.

"That's nots coffee…it be nastys!"

The sound of several snorts and snickers (the Captain's included) proved that she was not the only one in the room to think this about the poorly replicated beverage!

"We calls it Brakleehia. I likes it but not gets very oftens at home."

The Captain knew that his dragon had won when McCoy's hazel eyes widened in sympathy at her softly spoken words. He uncovered his cup and pushed it towards Ash.

"Ah hell….here! I had enough after the first cup. Just be careful its as strong as…"

His words trailed off as the dragon grabbed the cup and tipped its contents down her throat. She made sure she got every last drop with that dexterous tongue. Smacking her lips, Ash looked the CMO up and down with eyes that had turned red. For a moment, the surgeon got the impression that she would have no qualms taking him apart to check if he had anymore. Then her eyes flicked back to gold as she gave herself a little shake. Her expression was wistful as she handed the cup back.

"Thanks you… that was very tastys!"

Kirk hid a grin behind his own drink as he watched Leonard inspect the spotless cup. He knew the grumpy CMO hid a heart as soft as bezzlebee down. When the man's hazel eyes left the cup to search the table… the Captain was ahead of him. Jim grabbed a bowl of snacks off the table, upended it, wiped it out with his sleeve and handed it to his friend.

"She is a big, and that cup is awful small."

McCoy snorted and strode over to pull his thermos from a warming cabinet in the beverage table. He came back with a full bowl which he promptly handed to a surprised but happy dragon.

"I'd probably explode all over the Medbay if I kept the whole thermos to myself. Might as well share it with someone who appreciates good coffee."

The sideways glance he gave his Captain made it amply clear who he was talking about. Kirk just grinned and settled back to finish watching the chess match. Ash took her bowl, and settled on her keel behind Chekov, her long neck giving her a good view of the board over the Russian's head. Kirk was more than a little surprised that the kid saw the trap that Spock was laying for him and rallied. Forty-five minutes later though he was back in trouble. Muttering to himself in Russian, Chekov reached to move his rook only to freeze when a soft rumble came from the dragon behind him. He pulled his hand back and glanced sideways in surprise when her long muzzle appeared at his shoulder.

"Nots good to moves that one."

The young man blinked and looked over to his opponent. It was considered bad form to get advice from another during a match. Spock's eyebrow was raised but he gave a slow nod to show that it was not a problem for him. Chekov leaned back a little.

"So, what piece would you move if you were playing, Ash?"

The Draconian hummed and then reached over his shoulder to delicately pick up his one remaining bishop. She moved it up a level and set it down in such a way that it threatened one of Spock's knights. Kirk wasn't sure what she intended but the sudden narrowing of Spock's dark eyes and the tilt of his head proved that he sure as hell did. Chekov did not miss the Vulcans reaction and he studied the board closely in an attempt to figure out what the next moves would be. The Captain saw the exact moment it clicked as the boy grinned and then winced as he looked back up to the man across the board. There was no anger on Spock's face just something that might have been appreciation mixed with curiosity. (IF Vulcans felt those sort of things.) The Vulcan pinned ash with his dark gaze.

"Do you play chess, Ensign Ash.?

The dragon gave a slight shrug of her shoulders, and Jim watched, rather fascinated, as her folded wings echoed the movement.

"No, I no plays. Just be watchings… is easy to sees how the pieces needs to move."

Well…that was the first time Jim had ever heard anyone say that learning to play tri-dimensional chess was…easy. Chekov's brows furrowed then his eyes flew wide.

"OH…I get it!"

"Really…?" Leonard's southern drawl became more pronounced when he was irritated. Kirk understood that irritation though, the Doctor was STILL trying to learn the complicated game.

"Why doncha enlighten the rest of us."

The doctor's irritation was lost on the perpetual enthusiastic Russian.

"We tend to think in two dimensions, side to side, forwards and back. Its hardwired into us, that's why this game can be so hard to learn. We have to train ourselves to add up and down to the equation. Draconians though are born to fly." The boy winced here and stole a glance back at Ash. She just nodded at him.

"Yessss…most Draconians can thinks in three spaces at once…some though, thinks in more than threes, makes it easy to see where pieces has to move."

WHAT…Kirk was not the only one who blinked in confusion at the dragon's slightly slurred words.

Confusion turned to concern as Ash huffed, causing the Russian's curls to blow in the breeze her breath caused. Then her long slender muzzle gradually settled to rest on the boy's shoulder as her eyes shut.

Spock leaned forward to lightly tap her on the nose.

"Ensign Ash, are you intoxicated?"

"No…um…maybes…what is entoc…entoxat…."

"Drunk…" Kirk finished for her. "Are you drunk?"

Those golden eyes blinked slowly at him and were half red as Ash's inner eyelids refused to rise all the way.

"I is very sleepys."

The Draconian only twitched when Kirk reached over and plucked the almost empty bowl of coffee out of her hands.

"I think you have had enough of this tonight."

He turned to grin as his concerned CMO slipped around the table to examine the drooping dragon. He turned a bewildered look on his Captain.

"Jim, I swear I did not know Draconian's could get wasted on coffee!"

Kirk just grinned at his friend as he tried to lift several hundred pounds of unsteady dragon on to her feet.

"I know that Bones. But since this IS your fault, I nominate you to help me get our drunk dragon safely to her bed."

Between the two of them, and with a little help from Spock, they managed to get Ash to her feet and unsteadily moving in the right direction. It wasn't easy going though. Even trapped between the two of them, keeping the draconian walking in a straight line was impossible at best.

Ash shifted against Kirk, almost taking him down as she lost her balance. A grunt and yank from McCoy's side kept them all on their feet. The Captain was surprised when Ash's good wing opened slightly in to settle over his shoulders. It seemed to help her stabilize herself as they headed down the corridor. After a moment's hesitation, the crippled wing opened to gingerly settle on McCoy. The CMO opened his mouth to admonish her for using the wing while it was still healing then snapped it shut as the dragon began to softly hum. The hand that was not being used to help stabilize her mass lifted to gently pat the folded limb. The Captain lowered his head to hide his smile. Yep, his friend's heart was softer than a bezzlebee's down. He did not notice that his own hand was doing the same.

Just a fun little chapter but there are a few important hints about Draconians mixed in there. I hope you enjoyed it and promise that it wont take me as much time to get the next chapter out. As always, your reviews are the jelly to my peanut butter. I do enjoy hearing from you all. Please take a moment and let me know what you think!