Invigorated by the cheers of his crewmates, Lieutenant Kevin Thomas Riley moved the plastic stick-on lip-print teasingly across the lifesize cardboard model of 2240's Terran bombshell Cherry Abbott. He milked the cheers of the crowd, holding the lips now over one breast, then the other, smirking as the room noisily encouraged his naughty indecision. Finally, he deposited the symbolic kiss triumphantly in the nook between her breasts. "My favorite place to wake up," he told the rest of the group, earning him a deafening applause as he strutted back to his seat making "raise the roof" motions with both hands.
Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu grinned and leaned back like a lazy cat in the makeshift throne his friends had constructed for his bachelor party. All around him were the noises of happy carousing as his fellow crewmembers drank, talked, ate cake, and filled the room with their laughter. And at the other end of the room, Dr. McCoy stood proudly beside the cardboard woman who now bore the plastic kisses of over fifteen men, his arms folded in their usual position across his chest to match his smug grin.
"This party is really something, Bones." Captain Kirk leaned backwards in his chair to talk to his good friend. "I'm really amazed how you put all this together so quickly--and that Cherry Abbott cutout--that was such a wonderful touch!"
"Well, it really wasn't me." McCoy smiled diffidently. "Chekov had all the ideas. I just made a few calls." He whacked Chekov heartily on the back, causing the young Russian to choke on his third vodka.
"Well, it was nice of both of you." Kirk said over the ensuing coughing.
"Ve printed zat pinup model on the color plotter and used leftower Starfleet recruitment posters for backing," Chekov said when he was able to speak. "It vas de next best ting to ze real Cherry Abbott being here."
"Yeah, can you imagine if we'd have been able to bring her here?" McCoy speculated. "Sulu's just 'bout bust his face in half grinnin'."
"I don't know how Yeoman Rand would feel about that," said Kirk.
"But Keptin, Cherry Abbott is not as young as she is in zat picture anymore," Chekov protested.
"She is *still* quite a lady, Mr. Chekov, and probably will be until she's eighty-five," McCoy said sharply. Then, scanning the room with his clear blue eyes, he called out, "Okay, quiet everyone! Next person. How about Tom Nylen?"
Ensign Nylen stood up at his table and faced Sulu. Following the pattern of the rest of the evening, he spent two or three minutes extolling on Lt. Sulu and his upcoming marriage with Janice Rand. His insights were unique because of his genetic background--biologically female but post-op male. He mentioned how great it felt to be a part of a real bachelor party. "May all your babies have her eyes and *your hair*!" he finally concluded, to raucous laughter. Rand's ridiculous beehive had been the target of a running joke all evening.
When Tom was done speaking, McCoy gave him a set of plastic sticky lips to place anywhere on Cherry Abbott he wished to deposit a kiss. After a long and mock-serious deliberation, he finally selected the corner of her neck. "Ooh, a hickey!" yelled some anonymous partygoer.
As the room cheered, Kirk looked protectively at Spock sitting beside him. He knew the Vulcan was mainly there as his companion, and was generally uncomfortable in a raucous party atmosphere. Spock had chosen to attend the party and leave the bridge to Scott and Leslie for the time being rather than take the easy way out, however, because he did wish to pay his respects to the highly competent helmsman in this traditionally human way.
Spock wasn't showing it, of course, but Kirk could sense his feelings of isolation and slight alienation at the drinking, the overt sexuality, and the often derogatory humor. Kirk covered the Vulcan's hand on the table with his own comfortingly. A little ripple of empathic gratitude was his reward.
According to McCoy, it was time for Kirk to give his own speech. Jim took a long gulp of his June Bug and stood.
"Lieutenant Sulu is very proficient with a sword. Sometimes he's even seen running through the hallway waving one around." Small guffaws from the other guests punctuated his words. "And he's going to need that sword if he ever gets tangled up in his wife's hairdo!" The room broke into laughter. "Seriously...." Jim quieted them with a wave of his hand. "Seriously, Sulu is a good officer and a good man, with more energy than anyone else I know, and Janice Rand is a fine woman and definitely an exemplary yeoman. I bet their children will all be starship captains. Best of luck to you both!"
Whistles and cheers followed these words, and Kirk held his hand proudly out to a thoroughly beaming Sulu.
McCoy leaned over and handed Kirk his sticky-lips. "Go get 'er, Jimboy!" he snarled affectionately as Jim sashayed to the cardboard coquette.
"Welcome to the Enterprise, Miss Abbott," Kirk murmured in a mock-flirt. "I'm Captain James T. Kirk, but you can call me Jim." Then he stuck the lip-print square on the mouth of the model.
The room hooted. It was what they were expecting him to do.
A door opened at the back of the room and a blonde head appeared. "Oh, shit!" someone yelled in an intoxicated voice.
Yeoman Rand looked very embarassed as she picked her way through the rec room crowded with extra tables and chairs, not to mention bottles on the floor, to deposit a PADD in Kirk's hand. Sulu did his best to look sheepish.
Kirk signed the PADD as quickly as humanly possible to let Rand escape. She regarded the Cherry Abbott poster with a bemused expression. Then she left the room, shaking her head and muttering, "Men!" But she was smiling.
The room erupted into nervous giggles at her exit. "It's your turn, Spock," McCoy drawled loudly, attempting to return the evening to its tracks.
"Very well, Doctor," Spock said calmly, and stood up.
"Qviet!" yelled Chekov. The noise trickled to a murmur.
"My impression of Lieutenant Sulu as a member of the bridge crew has been nothing but positive," Spock said to the room. "He works quickly during emergency situations, and his enthusiasm never interferes with his efficiency. I wish him and Yeoman Rand a companionable marriage."
Kirk smiled as the room applauded Spock's speech. He was glad the Vulcan had chosen to participate in tonight's little diversionary adventure.
McCoy was ready with the next set of sticky-lips. But when he urged it on Spock, the Vulcan shook his head briefly and said, "No, thank you, Doctor."
"Oh, c'mon!" McCoy insisted. Ordinarily, maybe, he'd have let it slide. But he'd had quite a bit to drink, like most of the other men in the room. "She doesn't bite." He tossed the lips on the table in front of Spock.
"Not until she knows you better," Chekov added mischievously.
Spock had already sat down, however, and wasn't even facing McCoy.
"Give her a kiss!" the Doctor urged.
"It is illogical. I do not wish to deposit a kiss anywhere on Ms. Abbott," Spock argued softly.
Kirk looked at McCoy and shook his head subtly, also shaking his palm parallel to the floor. Enough. He knew Spock did not think of such things lightly.
"Awright, now, it's Chekov's turn," McCoy conceded. The room's attention turned away from Spock.
As everyone listened to Chekov wax eloquent on his close friend, Kirk's eyes met Spock's. Spock returned the gaze, then looked down at the plastic sticky lips in front of him. "You sure you wouldn't have been okay with that?" Kirk asked in a whisper.
"I am certain," Spock confirmed. "I would have had to place it on a man."
Kirk nodded, smiling slightly, then shifted in his chair to face Chekov and listen to his speech. The navigator prattled on and on about how glad he was to see Sulu and Rand together finally. Suddenly, Kirk felt an unfamiliar texture pressing gently but insistently onto one of his hands, resting on the table. He looked down to see Spock's plastic sticky lip-print decorating the back of his own hand.
Their eyes caught each other for a moment of happy connection, and sparkled a little.
When the party was over, and Lt. Sulu had been lifted on Chekov and Riley's shoulders and carried to the Cherry Abbott standee to give her his "kiss", it didn't take the room long to clear. This was, after all, a starship with business to attend to, and people needed to either get to their shifts or get some sleep.
Kirk and Spock left together, both a little weary after a long day, but talking busily. "I can't believe I'm performing another wedding tomorrow," Kirk commented. "That, on the power of my words, I have the ability to join two people's lives."
"You are merely serving as a legal officiator," replied Spock. "Only Mr. Sulu and his future wife are able to truly join their lives together."
"Well, of course, Spock, but human society--Western society, at least--concentrates its respect for the relationship--in particular, its depth and permanence--on marriage."
"A third party would be superfluous for a Vulcan bonding," Spock pointed out. "But a human marriage does not include the undeniable biological fact of a bond."
"Un--less--the--human was bonded to a Vulcan," Kirk countered flirtatiously. He checked the hallway in both directions. Nobody. Not a soul besides the two of them.
In one swift motion he pulled the kissprint sticker off his hand and stuck it on the nearest appendage of his first officer, which happened to be his left elbow.
Spock raised his eyebow and looked at the sticker, but he did not say anything. They continued to walk in silence to the turbolift.
Once safely inside the small compartment, Spock peeled the kiss from his uniform sleeve. "You will be assigned a new yeoman soon. I believe Ms. Rand is leaving the ship after her marriage." As if it was something he did every day, he placed the sticker on Jim's right cheek.
Jim smiled warmly. "Yes, she's.... returning to Earth for officer training. To replace her they're assigning me Tonia Barrows. Do you know her?"
"Only by name. We have never met."
"She's been working for Scotty and his department," Kirk explained. "Anyone who keeps the entire engineering section well-fed with coffee earns my respect." Kirk removed the lip-print from his face and stuck it casually to the side of Spock's neck.
The turbolift stopped and the two men stepped out onto their deck. "Please, explain to me, Jim, why is Mr. Sulu fascinated with this Cherry Abbott?" Spock asked. "She is from an older generation than he is, yet he reveres her in her younger days more than any contemporary vid star." Jim keyed open his door, and Spock slipped inside behind him before the door shut, depositing the recycled kiss sticker on his captain's forehead.
"Oh, well, you know how Sulu loves all those adventure stories," said Jim. "She played Milady DeWinter in the 2249 film version of 'The Three Musketeers'. She was in a couple other vids likes that, too." He carefully scrutinized Spock as he spoke, and after he stopped talking, he took the sticker off his forehead and put it on Spock's cheek.
Without saying a word, Spock removed the sticker and reached around Jim's body. Jim gasped and blinked with surprise as he felt the sticker being pressed onto his rear end.
They stood motionless in Jim's cabin, staring at each other, counting coup. I dare you. It was Jim's game. What was his next move?
Slowly, deliberately, he reached behind him with one hand and peeled the lip-print sticker off of the seat of his pants. He breasted up to Spock, and, holding the sticker between his thumb and index finger, aimed it at Spock's lips.
Then, quickly, he grabbed Spock around the waist with his other hand and covered the Vulcan's mouth with his own. //Checkmate,// he said into Spock's mind.
Spock melted, and the plastic stick-on kiss print fell to the ground.