A/N: Jim Kirk is a Lt. Commander in Starfleet and he has a four day pass. He has flown to Iowa to visit his son, Lucas James Kirk, who is being held in juvenile detention for theft of a vehicle along with a friend of his. Commander Kirk's ex-wife and her husband are at wits end with the sixteen year old.

A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION

"Jim, I don't know what else to do. This time he's involved in stolen property and they crashed it into bushes and dented in the side panels."

Jim stood in his ex-wife's kitchen and listened to the tale.

"I can't believe he stole the air-car?"

"I've been telling you for the last year that he's out of control. I don't know what else to do. I know you're on a short leave, but could you handle this, this once?"

Kirk flashed her his green eyes and smiled, "Don't worry, I'll take care of it. I was going to invite him to San Fran for three days, but that's sort of a reward."

"If you can get him out, take him. I need a break. We need a break," she nodded towards the outer room.

"Alright, but this isn't going to be the vacation I thought I'd take him on. I'll arrange it that he does several hours a day of menial work and make him pay for half of the damages. Was he piloting?"

"No, his friend, Mick was, but that doesn't matter, he went along," she raised her voice.

"I know, I know. Is he down at, the Stone Street Station?"

'Yes, you have to talk to officer Paul Thompson. I left him there all night, Jim, I was hoping it would make a dent in his thick head."

Jim sighed and shook his head, remembering the many times he found himself in trouble with the law. He reached over and shook her hand lightly, "I'll bring him back in three days and I hope I can correct some of his behavior."

"Thanks and good luck."

Jim jumped in his rented air-car and flew into town and parked. He was thinking of what he'd say to him when he saw him and tried to keep his anger controlled. He hadn't had any sleep in two nights and he wasn't too pleased with his son.

After reading the police report and signing him out he waited while the criminal was released. Kirk looked up at a disheveled young man. Lucas was looking down and didn't see his father until the last minute.

"Lucas."

"Dad, I didn't know you were home," he stopped in his tracks and his heart began to beat hard.

Officer Thompson spoke, "He's in your custody until the estimates come through for the damage. He is starting to collect a steady amount of incidents, Mr. Kirk. I hope you can influence him to change the road he is heading down. We have a contact number and you'll be hearing from us."

"I'm afraid I'm only dirt-side for a few days, but his mother and I will discuss this before I leave. Officer, I assure you, this will not happen again," he glared at Lucas who looked down.

They walked out in silence and headed for the air-car. "Get in," Kirk said.

Lucas slumped in the co-pilots seat, not looking at his father. Kirk sat in his seat and stared out the window. "Lucas, I'm very disappointed in you."

He turned and faced him, "Did you hear me?"

"I'm sitting right hear, I'm not deaf."

Commander Kirk grabbed his son's face and turned him to face him, "Don't talk to me like that. It will be yes, sir and no, sir from you. Do you understand?"

"Whatever you say...sir."

His father released his face and slid back in his seat. He let a short amount of silence pass between him. He could see his son's future ahead of him if he wasn't wise in his discipline now.

"You're never around," Lucas said softly.

Jim half heard him, "Excuse me?"

Lucas looked out the window and shrugged his shoulders, "What do you care, you're never around."

"I don't have much of a choice, Lucas, I'm sorry."

"Sorry. You're sorry, you're always, sorry. Jeez!" he yelled in frustration and slammed his hand on the door handle.

"Calm down, Lucas."

"You calm down, you bastard."

Before Kirk knew it he had slapped his son across the face. Lucas yelled out and opened the side door and jumped out. He started to run towards the sidewalk.

Jim jumped out his side and ran after him calling, "Lucas, stop."

Lucas kept running, but his father was in excellent shape and caught up with him. He grabbed his arm and Lucas swung his other hand to try and hit him in the jaw. Jim ducked away and grabbed him around the chest.

"Lucas, stop it, calm down." Lucas continued to try and pull out of his father's arms and he dropped to his knees defensively and then pushed himself back towards his father. The momentum pushed both of them to the ground with Lucas on top and squirming away. Jim grabbed him around the throat and rolled him off to the side and threw one leg on top of him. "Stop it right now, Lucas." He had him pinned and blood was dripping from Lucas's nose. Jim held him firmly and watched as a few people down the street stared at him. "I'm going to let you loose and we're going to stand up, like two calm people. Understood?" He shook him, "Understood?"

Lucas shook his head in affirmation and his father slowly loosened his grip and helped him to stand up. "Come on, let's go back to the car. Are you alright?"

Lucas nodded without looking at his father. He wiped the blood with his hand and Jim gave him his handkerchief. Both of them walked in silence as the adrenaline left their bodies shaking. Jim admonished himself for loosing his temper. He glanced at his son, who was only a couple of inches shorter than him.

They both slid into the car and before Jim started it up he said, "I"m really sorry, Lucas. I had no right to slap you."

Lucas dabbed at his nose and said, "It's alright, Dad."

"No, it's not. I think we have a lot to talk about and not just about this stealing incident. Let's go get something to eat."

Lucas nodded and buckled up his seat belt. Jim chose a restaurant where he could get a drink and they could have privacy.

They took a booth in the back and sat down.

"Morning, gentlemen, what can I get you to drink?" the waitress said.

Lucas mumbled, "Just water."

Jim said, "I'll take water and a shot of whiskey on the side."

The waitress walked away and Jim said, "Your nose is bleeding again."

"I'll be right back, Dad."

He nodded at him and glanced at the menu. The waitress returned with their drinks and said, "I'll come back in a few minutes, sir"

He smiled and said, "Thanks." He was sure she saw the blood on Lucas's face and his rumpled appearance.

Lucas returned with his face cleaned and his hair combed. He glanced at the menu and looked up at his father.

"Hungry?" Jim asked.

"Not much."

"Let's start with soup and then go from there. We have a lot to talk about."

Lucas sighed and leaned back in his seat. Jim smiled to himself, remembering all the times he did that to his parents and his older brother. Teenage angst.

The waitress returned and said, "What can I get you?"

"We'll both have the soup to start with and decide after what else we want."

"I'll bring it right up, sir."

"Thank you," he replied.

She walked away and Lucas said, "Even the waitress calls you sir."

Jim folded his hands on the table and said, "It's only out of respect of the uniform."

Lucas scoffed at his comment.

"Lucas, can you tell me why you're so angry?"

No one had ever asked him that before and he hesitated even to look at his father. He had so many feelings inside of him and he wasn't sure which one he should even speak about.

"You're angry with me, aren't you?"

Lucas remained quiet. He didn't want his father to know he needed him. He didn't want to admit to himself he needed his father.

"Lucas?"

The waitress returned and delivered their soup and then left.

"Let us thank, God for this meal," Jim said.

They bowed their heads and his father said a quick prayer of thanks.

"I know I've not been around when you've needed me, Lucas. I wanted to be here for your ball games and your award ceremony last year, but I was as far away in the galaxy as our ship could take us and I had no way of returning. I even tried to ride a supply ship back, but it would have taken too long. Is your step-dad treating you okay?"

Lucas sipped his soup and nodded, "He's never much trouble, Dad. He stays out of me and Mom's arguments."

"Why are you giving your Mom such a tough time?"

He shrugged his shoulders and kept quiet.

"Lucas, I can't help you if you don't tell me the truth."

Lucas looked into his dad's eyes and said, 'You're never around, Dad. I can barely reach you on subspace radio. The time distance is so weird, I just give up. I have so much energy and I want to do things and Mom won't let me. She's always grounding me and yelling at me."

"Why have you been grounded, Lucas?"

"Different things."

"The police officer said you're making quite a list of charges and once you turn seventeen, they'll treat you like an adult and then you'll be in more trouble that I can't get you out of. Now tell me, what has Mom grounded you for?"

Lucas began to truthfully tell him the many stories of his misguided judgement. They finished their soup and Jim tried to hide his disappointment.

"Still hungry?"

"Yes, sir."

Jim waved the waitress over. "We'd like to order something and I"d like another whiskey."

"Certainly, what can I get you?"

They both ordered sandwiches. Once the waitress left Lucas said, "Jeez, Dad, that's two drinks before noon."

"It's midnight in my head. I've not adapted to the time change, yet."

As they finished their sandwiches, Jim thought about what to say to his son. He still had two more years on his contract and then he'd re-up for another few years.

"Dad, can't I come with you for awhile?"

"No, son, you know that. Starfleet doesn't allow families onboard, it's too dangerous. I've talked with your Mom a bit this morning and this is what I'd like to propose to you," he paused and looked at his slouching son, "are you listening? Sit up, you're not a two year old."

Jim felt his command training coming forward and calmed himself.

Lucas sat up abruptly and looked at his father, "Yes, sir."

Jim smiled and said, "That's better. I want to take you with me for three days to San Fran, but since you've gotten yourself into trouble, we won't be doing all of the fun things I had planned. I'll make arrangements for some work details and we'll have part of the day and evening together. Would you be open to that?"

A little twinkle sparkled in Lucas's eyes and he answered, "Yes, Dad, I would be open to that, but what kind of work details?"

"That's for me to work out and for you to obey. Agreed?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good, we'll go home and pack up some of your things. Do I have to tell you to apologize to your Mom?"

"No, sir, I'll take care of it."

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Before long the two were flying over the open fields and around the Rocky Mountains. San Francisco came into view and Jim landed the air-car on the top level of his apartment building. They took the lift to the tenth floor and Lucas was mesmerized by the view of the bay. Several layers of air-cars were in circular flight patterns over the city. The afternoon sun sparkled off the many shiny cars. Below were tree framed parks with people walking to and from jobs or shopping. Lucas had never been in this apartment before.

His father walked up to him and he said, "Wait until you see it lit up at night. It has a beauty all of it's own. Come, I'll show you to your room."

Lucas threw his bag on the bed and went to use his wash room. When he came out his father asked, "I have to check into my office on campus, are you ready?"

"Yes, sir."

They quickly flew the five minutes to the campus of the Starfleet Academy. They parked the air-car and wove their way across campus. Jim watched as Lucas took it all in. Cadets of every class walked or rode above their heads in air-cars on their way to classes. Many saluted his father as they passed. Jim led the way to the next building when he ran into Dr. Leonard McCoy.

"Bones, when did you get back?"

"Just flew in last night, Jimmy boy. Say is this, Lucas?"

Jim smiled and said, "Yes, this is my son, Lucas. Lucas, this is Dr. Leonard McCoy. We started out together and have served on the same ships occasionally."

"Pleasure, sir. I've heard Dad speak of you often."

Dr. McCoy shook the teens hand and said, "He speaks of you often, Lucas. I know he wishes he could see you more often, too. Say, Jim, if you don't have any plans tonight, Scotty, his nephew, my Joanna and a few others are meeting for dinner. We thought the kids could hang out while us adults talked. We're having dinner at my place and I'm cooking. I'd like you to come along."

Jim looked at his son and said, "Is that alright with you, Lucas?"

"Yes, sir, we hadn't made any plans yet."

"Good. What time and what can I bring?"

"1900 hours and any liquid refreshment you'd like. Lucas, I promise, we won't commandeer all of you and your Dad's time."

"That's alright, sir, I'm not used to seeing much of him, anyway."

He felt more than saw is father's reaction and looked over Dr. McCoy's shoulder to avoid his father.

"Well, then, tonight, Bones. See you later."

Once they were out of ear shot Jim said, "Lucas, I haven't seen Bones all year, but I can cancel if you prefer to spend the time with just me tonight."

"I said it was fine, Dad," he answered quickly.

"I get the feeling it's not fine." He stopped him on the sidewalk and faced him, "Lucas, tell me the truth."

"I told you, it was okay, Jeez!"

His father continued to stare at him and then continued down the walk way. They entered his office and Lucas took a seat. Jim lifted the window shields and let the sunlight filter through.

"I have two calls to make and then I'll take you on a tour of campus, if you'd like."

Lucas nodded and walked over to his father's bookshelf. He had started a collection years ago of real books, many were ages old and could only be handled with special gloves. Those were on the top shelf, but Lucas pulled out a copy of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. The old edition had yellow pages, but it was still readable. Lucas loved the smell of old books. This was one interest that he and his father shared.

"Yes, we made it here safely and I'll keep him busy for the next three days. We're having dinner with Bones. I will. Take care."

"That was your Mom, she hopes you'll enjoy part of your stay here and behave yourself."

Lucas just nodded from the bookshelf.

"Come on, son, let's take the tour. Anything special you want to see first?"

"Yes, take me to where they are building the newest star ships?"

"That's up in space, Lucas, you know that," he walked over to him and touched his shoulder, "what's wrong?"

"Nothing, Dad. Nothing."

"Come on, let's go."

Commander Kirk took his reluctant son on a tour of the campus while hoping he could instill some interest. Lucas perked up at the mention of the flying school. His father showed him the many ships at the school that they all learned to fly.

"Any interest in flying, Lucas?" he asked.

"If I could, I'd fly right out of here today."

Kirk finished with the tour and took him back to their apartment.

"I've made arrangements for your work detail tomorrow. We report around 0900. I'll come back for you at 1300 hours and we'll go from there. I expect you to show respect and be a good worker."

"Yes, sir."

Kirk sat on his couch and motioned for him to take a seat. He began a short but firm discussion on behaving properly for his mother and step-dad.

From his seat across from his father, he answered, "Yes, sir."

"Go get cleaned up and put on a nice shirt. You'll be meeting Bone's daughter, Joanna and she's real pretty."

"Dad," he smirked. He left for his room and Jim went to his and put on clean civvies. Dark blue pants and a matching short sleeve shirt.

They took the lift to the roof and flew over to Dr. McCoy's house. He parked behind three other air-cars and walked into the house. The smell of southern fried chicken wafted throughout the house. Bones met him at the door.

"Come on in fellas, everyone is here. Joanna," he called, "come here."

A girl about one year younger than Lucas, but much more beautiful walked up to her dad and smiled. He blue eyes matched her father's dark blue eyes. Lucas could tell she adored her father.

"Lucas, this is my daughter, Joanna and Jo, this is Lucas Kirk, son of the notorious James Kirk, standing next to him."

"Commander Kirk, it's a pleasure. Lucas, a pleasure meeting you, too."

Lucas found himself staring at her blonde hair and deep blue eyes. His father nudged him from behind.

"Uh, yeah, happy to meet you."

"Joanna, why don't you take Lucas and introduce him to the others. I think they're outside trying to get away from us adults."

"Come on, Lucas, we'll get something to drink and head outside."

Once they left Bones looked at Jim and said, "Well?"

"I need a double, if you're serving."

Bones chuckled his throaty laughed and bounced on his heels, "Come on, that's what the doctor ordered."

Scotty's Scottish burr could be heard above the din in the family room telling a long tale of his honorable exploits. Bones handed Jim his drink and they chuckled from their end of the room. They made greetings with all of their old friends and Jim made a few new ones. Dinner was served and the night proceeded.

As the evening went on the pool lights came on and the teens took turns pushing each other into the pool. Lucas had quietly slipped away and found a lone bottle of whiskey on a side table. He took a gulp and made a face. He grabbed some plastic glasses and left for the pool area. Mr. Scott's nephew, Callum, saw him coming with the booze and he looked around the area.

"Where'd you get that?"

"Where do you think, inside. No one saw me, so here have a glass." They went to a corner and Lucas poured him a small amount of whiskey.

Callum took a swallow and his eyes watered and he shook his head, "Wow, that's, that's strong."

"You're such a beginner. Come on, let's share the wealth." When Joanna had gone back inside for more snacks, Lucas and Callum gave each of the other two guys a glass and told them to keep it quiet. They hid the bottle under a towel. When Joanna returned they ate some of the snacks and one by one they would go back to the chair with the towel and bottle on it and had another large shot.

The boys began to get louder and Joanna thought they were acting differently than they had an hour ago. She decided to distract them by turning on the gas lit fire pit. The evening was feeling more damp as the sun set. There were equal boys and girls and soon they divided up into couples. Lucas pushed one of the lads out of the way and sat next to Joanna.

"Joanna, do you live here in San Fran?" Lucas asked leaning towards her.

She pushed him back a little and wrapped her towel tighter around her shoulders. "No, I'm just in town while Dad is here. I live in Georgia with my mother. How about you?"

"Iowa, with my Mom and step-dad. It's a blast," he laughed.

Joanna looked at him and studied his now obvious red eyes, "Have you been drinking?"

Lucas scowled and said, "Who, me? Where would I get any booze? Do I look like I've been drinking?" he said as he leaned toward her.

Joanna pushed him back towards his seat. "You have been, I can smell it. Whiskey, too."

"Would you like some?" he wobbled at the edge of his seat.

"Lucas, how much have you had to drink? And who else is drinking?" She looked around her group and she called to her friend, Susan and motioned her over.

"Susan, have you noticed if Callum, David or Sam have been drinking?"

"Noticed? We're all pushing them away from us. It's disgusting."

"My Dad is going to be furious," Joanna said.

"Oh heck, my old man is always furious with me, just add it to the list," Lucas slurred.

Joanna motioned Susan to go with her. They walked into the house and soon, Dr. McCoy and Commander Kirk came out of the house.

"Lucas," the Commander called as he shut the sliding door to the house.

Lucas turned toward him and blinked a few times. He heard Callum say, "Oh heck," as he spotted his Uncle coming out of the house, too.

Lucas tried to stand, but his feet got tangled in the leg of the chair and he stumbled to the ground. He rolled over onto his back just as the chair was snatched away and his father grabbed his arm.

His face was so close he could almost focus on the rage in his eyes.

"Stand up, Lucas."

"I'm trying, sir," he emphasized the sir loudly.

"Where did you get the booze?"

"Uh, it was, it was sitting on the table inside that door over yonder, I believe. Dad, would you like a swig, there is some left."

Lucas leaned over to uncover the bottle and toppled over. He pulled out the bottle that was now empty.

"Sorry, Dad, you're a little late to the party," Lucas said laughing.

Jim grabbed him by both arms.

Bones said in a death voice to the rest of the kids, "Alright, who here has been drinking? And don't even think of lying."

"Dad, it's just the boys, not us girls."

Scotty grabbed his nephews arm and mumbled something under his breath that caused Callum to stiffen.

Bone said, "All of you, in the house and into my office. I'll examine you to see how bad off you are."

The other three boys stumbled past the doctor. Jim pushed Lucas behind the other three and he stumbled again. His father picked him up and led him into the house.

The four fathers with their inebriated sons came out of the doctors office. He had given three of them shots to help with the hangover, but Jim refused to let Lucas have one.

"If he's so grown up and able to handle his liquor, let's see how he feels in the morning on his way to work detail."

"Okay, Jim, it's up to you. Call me in the morning, if you need anything."

"Bones, I'm sorry, I'm really sorry."

"Jim, I understand. Take him home and I'll call you later." He slipped him a red pill in his hand and winked.

The commander apologized to the other's on his way out and he threw his son into the air-car with a bag to use if needed.

During the night, he heard Lucas up retching, but he rolled over and fell asleep until 0700. He got up and made coffee. He took a frying pan and spoon and went into Lucas's room.

He put the pan near his head and banged on it with the spoon. Lucas jumped and yelled, "What the hell are ya doing?"

"Time to rise and shine, son. You have to report to work in an hour."

He sat up and grabbed his head. His stomach turned and he ran for the rest room, banging his shoulder on the door way.

Jim left as the swearing continued behind the door mixed with retching. Half an hour passed as Lucas staggered into the kitchen.

"Dad, I don't think I can make it, today."

"Oh? Here, Dr. McCoy said to take this after you eat something. It'll make you feel better."

Lucas caught the little red pill and sat at the table holding his head. His father gave him some toast from the replicator and a cup of tea. He left him sitting at the table and leaned against the window watching the traffic above and below his apartment. He had received a call from Bones late last night and they commiserated together about raising teenagers while they were off-planet.

The Commander dressed in his uniform walked past his son and said, "Come on, Lucas, time to leave."

As they rode the lift down, Jim could see his son glancing over at him. He finally said, "I can't tell you how disappointed I am with you, Lucas. You've got all day to think about what you've done. I'll pick you up at 1300 hours."

Lucas quietly said, "Yes, sir."

The Commander dropped him off at the maintenance office where Lucas was instructed on what his jobs were for the day. Jim left and smiled as he heard the list of things he had to accomplish. Most of them were outside in the hot sun. Jim had called in earlier and warned them what his son had done the night before and to watch for dehydration, but other than that, they were free to make him work for the next four hours.

Jim went to his office and got caught up on a ton of incoming mail and correspondences. He called his mother and they had a long chat. He then made a call to Jack and Maria who lived on his ranch in Iowa and took care of it and the animals when he was off-planet. They were like grandparents to Lucas and Jim loved them like they were family.

"Jack, I can't tell you how glad I am that you'll take him for the summer. It will be good for him and for his mother."

"Jim, don't worry about him, I remember a certain young Jim Kirk who was in the same position a few years ago. Maria and I will take him on, and don't you fret none. I'll make sure he gets back safely to his Mom in the fall."

"Thanks, Jack. I'll keep in touch when I can."

"Bye, Jim."

That was a load off his shoulders. Keeping Lucas busy on the ranch and working hard would do a lot for a rebellious teen.

Lucas was sitting in the office drinking water waiting for his father to return. He had a rosy glow from sunburn and the manager said he was pleased with the way he handled himself.

"He'll be back tomorrow at the same time, Lieutenant," Jim looked towards his son who was looking down at his feet.

"Come, Lucas, we'll get some lunch."

They walked in silence to the air-car. Before Jim lifted off he turned to his son and said, "How's the head?"

"Fine."

"Hungry?"

Lucas nodded and looked out the window. His father lifted off the ground and flew to the northern part of the city. He knew of a small cafe that they could have lunch in and not be disturbed.

As Jim went to open his door, Lucas said, "Dad. I'm, I'm sorry about last night and calling you a...bastard."

His father looked at him and said, "Good, that's a start. Let's go eat."

Jim knew what his son was going through, but he had to take responsibility for his actions and he hadn't learned that lesson, yet.

They ordered sandwiches and a salad. They said a prayer of thanks for their meal before they started. Jim waited until they were done eating before he spoke to Lucas.

"Lucas, if I told you I knew what you were going through, you wouldn't believe that, but I do know. I know part of your behavior is because you're angry I'm never around, and it seems when I am, I'm always punishing you. Am I right?"

He looked up at his father and nodded, "Yes, sir, I guess."

"My father was in deep space and gone all of the time, too. Sam and I gave my mother a run for her money, and I got into my share of trouble too. My only advice for you is, make good choices. Ask yourself first, what are the consequences of my decisions. I know it's hard to buck your friends when they're pulling you in one direction and you know you should go in another. You've got to be the leader. Just tell yourself to make good choices."

Lucas's bright blue eyes met his green. "Dad, I'll try."

"Good, because if you get another police report, there will be no fixing it with detention and service hours."

"Yes, sir."

Jim finished his water and asked, "Did you bring hiking boots?"

"No, sir, I out grew mine last year."

"Would you like to take a short hike before it gets too late?"

"Sure."

"I spotted an outdoors specialty shop down the street. We'll get fixed up with boots and a day pack. Let's go."

Within the hour they had on their new socks, boots and sunglasses. A map of local hiking trails and water with snacks in their day packs.

"I thought we'd try the Muir Woods. It's easy, gentle and beautiful. Have you ever seen redwood trees?"

"Only in holo pictures in school."

"You'll be amazed."

Kirk landed the air-car in the parking area. They scanned their id's into a scanner and began the short walk. The temperature cooled off and the pleasant dirt and musky smell of the outdoors calmed their nerves. A short distance down the trail was a long canopy of immense redwoods that had stood the many earthquakes and storms in the region. The cedars that surrounded the trees gave off a pleasant aroma. Lucas found a secluded spot on the trail and laid down to get a full look at the tall ladies of the forest.

His father caught up with him and smiled.

"Dad, you just can't imagine how magnificent these trees are until you see them in person. It's beautiful," he said almost in a whisper.

Each corner they turned brought them to a scene that you can only experience yourself to understand. The thousands of years of decaying top soil made the trail soft and spongy. The national park was well preserved and taken care of since the great earthquakes of the early 21st century.

Once they returned from the trail and had a snack and drank some water, Lucas said to his father, "Thanks for bringing me here, Dad."

The ever charming smile on his father was mirrored on his son's face. He brushed the hair on Lucas's head and pulled him to his chest.

"I love ya, son."

"Love you, too, Dad."

They put their gear in the back of the air-car and buckled in.

Lucas asked, "Can I fly, Dad?"

"No," came fast and firm, "You're not out of the dog house, son, you've been given an afternoon reprieve." His father took one more look around the area and lifted off.

They flew in silence the short distance back towards the academy, but his father kept going further south.

"Where are we going?"

"You have a couple of apologies to make for last night."

Lucas put his head down as he recognized Dr. McCoy's neighborhood. He saw the roof of their home and his father gently landed the car in the drive way.

Lucas sat without unbuckling.

"Come on, son, let's go. They know we're stopping by for a short visit."

Lucas looked at his father, "Dad, I can't, I'm so embarrassed. I"m sure Joanna hates me, anyway. Can't I do this by intercom?"

"Consequences, my son."

Lucas opened his door and slowly stepped out. He hoped the right words came to him because he felt very foolish.

Bones met them at the door with his cordial smile, "Come on in, you two." He stepped aside at the door way.

"Bones, I'm glad you could fit us in in your day."

"We weren't busy, Jim. In fact I'd like to invite you for dinner. We have lot's of left overs."

Lucas cringed inside. The thoughts of sitting at the table with his father's best friend and daughter after he ruined their party the night before was almost more than he could bear. He glanced around and hoped his sunburn covered his distress.

Jim said, "First things first, Bones. I think Lucas would like to speak with you privately and then Joanna, if she's speaking to him."

Bones hid his smile behind his hand and waved Lucas to his office, "Come along, son, this is probably going to be more painful for you than for me and the sooner you get it over, the better you'll feel."

"Yes, sir."

"Jim, help yourself, you know where the good stuff is."

"Thanks, Bones." Jim walked to the liquor cabinet and reached up for a particular bottle of Tennessee whiskey and poured a shot glass full. He heard the kitchen door slam and turned to see Joanna walking in from outside in her bathing suit and towel.

"Oh, sorry Commander, I didn't know you were here, yet. I'll go get dressed and be right back."

"Take your time, Joanna."

Jim wandered outside to the pool area and around his friends rose garden. Bones had quite the green thumb when he had time and he hired a gardener while he was gone. The multitude of colors and aromas lofted through the spring air. Jim was particularly fond of a creamy yellow rose with tinges of pink on it's edges. His mother used to grow those and cut the big blossoms and float them in a brandy snifter for decoration on the kitchen table.

The outside door slid open and Bones came out with a subdued teenager.

"Don't worry, Jim, we're all good now."

"I hope so, but he's waiting to talk with Joanna, too."

"She said she'll be down in a second."

Jim glanced at his son who looked like he'd just confessed to kicking a puppy.

Lucas said, "Can I wait for her inside, Dr. McCoy?"

"Yeah, go ahead, Lucas."

Once he left, Bones handed Jim another shot of whiskey along with his. "Let's have a seat."

They lounged around the pool, trying not to laugh out loud, but still having stern looks on their faces.

"Jim, we both have done the same thing. I guess it's just part of growing up."

"Sure, but what if he would have gotten the girls drunk?"

"Well, I'd have had to beat the living snot out of him, then."

Jim choked on his drink trying not to laugh out loud.

The two teens remained in sight sitting at the kitchen table talking for quite awhile.

"Jim, please stay and eat some of these left overs for me."

"Okay, Bones. It looks like Joanna at least isn't throwing him out of the house."

"No, she was upset it broke up her party with her friends, but she's had the day to get over it. Come on, let's warm up the BBQ and eat."

After a much different dinner experience than the night before and helping to clean up, Jim called it a night.

"Lucas has some more work detail to do tomorrow and he has a few calls to make tonight, too. Thanks for dinner and thanks for being understanding."

Bones and Joanna stood at the door and said their good byes. Lucas lingered and tried to think of something brilliant to say to Joanna, but all that came out was, "Thanks, and I hope to see you later."

When Lucas buckled up his belt and his father gently lifted the air-car he turned to his father and said, "I know this sounds strange, Dad, but I'm going to marry that girl one day."

"Oh, Jeez," Jim mumbled under his breath.