Never let it be said that James T. Kirk didn't know how to enjoy a good bar fight.
Normally, that was because he'd started the fight in the first place. On purpose, most of the time, although sometimes even he underestimated how obnoxious he could be when he put his mind to it.
But that didn't mean that Jim wasn't just as keen on getting in on the action when it was somebody else's business - and blood - getting splattered all over the room. Which was why his only reaction when a swarthy-skinned humanoid, a scattering of jagged glass, and a blistering volley of cursing crashed through the window of the dive bar he'd been about to walk into was to grin broadly and quicken his step so he didn't miss the fun.
What? Punching people in the face was good stress relief.
It wasn't a total dustup, Jim realized sadly as soon as he walked through the door; there was a pocket of heated discussion on the far side of the room - a handful of Andorians apparently objecting to how they were splitting their bar tab - that looked about ten credits away from degenerating into a fistfight and, more interestingly, three remarkably ugly humanoids with the same complexion as the window guy literally chasing another humanoid wearing a long brown coat in circles around the room.
And Jim wasn't (entirely) the type to choose sides based on appearance, but three on one was shitty odds, especially when the Uglies were built more like brick walls than people and Brown Coat looked like he'd break his own hand if he tried to hit a guy that size. And Jim did enjoy being a hero, which made it pretty easy to decide which side to come in on.
Not to mention that it was so much more satisfying to hit the big ones.
So Jim wove his way through the scatter of tables, chairs and drunk clientele, angling to intersect with Brown Coat's trajectory. It worked like a dream: Brown Coat and his pursuers charged past in a jumble of charging feet and bouncing chairs; Jim stepped in with a sharply executed right cross before they'd even registered him as a threat; and Ugly Number One went down like a felled tree. He overturned a table on his way to the floor, which made enough clatter and bang to distract the other two, giving Jim plenty of opportunity to try for the birdie.
Unfortunately, his advantage didn't last long. Uglies Two and Three recovered from their shock far sooner than Jim really appreciated and Jim's next attempt at a one-shot knockout went wide. He landed a glancing blow on Two, but it quickly became apparent that they didn't just look like brick walls - they hit like them too. Jim swore when Three landed a hit that made Jim's entire arm go briefly numb, trying to shake out the ache without letting down his guard. Of course, two against one wasn't all that much better when fighting guys this big, and Jim quickly found himself struggling to keep from getting flanked and beaten to a big, meaty pulp.
It was always at about this point in a fight, Jim had to admit, that he remembered why his day job always involved bringing backup.
"Duck!" a voice shouted from behind him.
Jim wasn't about to argue.
He hit the floor in one smooth slide, barely getting himself out of the way in time to avoid getting hit by a sudden glittering mist that invaded the space where his head had just been. The Uglies got a good face full each and promptly collapsed. The concussive smack as they hit the floor was enough to bring the entire room to a brief, but immense, standstill. Even the Andorians stopped arguing long enough to look.
It was a good thing that Jim had never liked being inconspicuous.
"Knockout gas," the guy said, absolutely radiating smug self-satisfaction. "Found it on a trip to New Earth a while back. Well," he corrected himself, as Jim started climbing to his feet, "Technically it found me the first time, but in my defense the last human in existence was wearing my friend at the time and I was a little bit distr-" Their eyes met and Brown Coat's went wide "-Jim!" he exclaimed delightedly.
Now, Jim was more than used to being recognized by people he didn't know - between the whole 'saving the Earth' thing and his policy of being willing to try anything in a bed at least twice, it was almost a wonder that there were still beings in Federation space who didn't know who he was. But the hero worshippers didn't usually go by his first name and this guy didn't seem like he was remembering Jim for the size of his dick. More's the pity. Brown Coat had a remarkably pretty face and he cut a slim, appealing figure in his well-fitted suit. Jim definitely would have tapped that if he'd had the opportunity.
"Jim Kirk," Brown Coat said, with clear relish. "Should have known it would be you, charging in like that. Never could resist a good bar fight, hey?" He clapped Jim firmly on the shoulder. Jim raised an eyebrow but didn't protest. He couldn't wait to see where this was going. "Guess this means I owe you another banana daiquiri. And don't even pretend that you don't like them."
"Oh, I won't," Jim said dryly.
"Of course you won't," Brown Coat said fondly. "Good old Jim. Just look at you! You look-" he faltered suddenly, a strange sort of realization creeping across his face, "-unexpectedly young. Right!" He released Jim abruptly and hooked his hands behind his back, beaming broadly. "Hello, I'm the Doctor. I've heard so much about you, Captain."
"Right," Jim said, not believing it for a second. "Somehow, I don't think there are all that many newsfeeds about my taste in mixed drinks."
"Oh, you'd be surprised."
Ugly Number One chose that moment to stir. Jim tensed, but the Doctor hardly flicked a glance at him before twitching a discrete puff of knockout gas above his face. One's whole body went abruptly slack, his head lolling to one side and showing off the beginnings of a bruise on his cheek in the shape of Jim's fist.
"That can't possibly be Federation sanctioned," Jim said.
"What? Nonsense! It's perfectly safe." The Doctor flipped the canister in the air - one smooth arc end over end - and threw Jim a cheeky grin that probably got him out of a whole hell of a lot of trouble. "Never know when you might be in need of a quick nap."
"Right. So," Jim said, with a significant glance at their comatose opponents. "Should I ask what's going on?"
"Well, that depends." The Doctor started towards the bar without bothering to check if Jim was following. He was obviously used to people jumping to chase after him.
Jim could see why: he wasn't a follower by any stretch of the imagination, but that didn't stop him from falling immediately into step, hungry for more information.
"Depends on what?" he asked, as he leaned against the pitted surface of the bar at the Doctor's left.
"It depends," the Doctor said, scrolling through the drinks menu on the cheap PADD set into the synthetic wood. "On whether you're in the mood for getting into more trouble today."
A frisson of pure adrenaline, not satisfied by the all-too-brief fight, sparked in Jim's brain. "And what kind of trouble are we talking about?"
"Saving the universe trouble," the Doctor said, sounding at once nonchalant and totally, utterly serious. Without looking up from the menu, he pointed a finger at the aliens they'd left sprawled out on the floor. "They're part of an ancient and very antisocial religious sect that's spent the last four thirds of a millennium creating a big shiny totem that has the potential to turn every planet in the universe into space dust. Or possibly custard; I didn't really get a good look at the schematics before they found me. But this-" he fished into his pocket and held up an oblong stone that glinted violently green in the light "- is a power relay manipulator sort of… thing that makes everything wobble the way it's supposed to wobble when the totem gets activated. Without it, no planet smashing."
Jim frowned a little. "So why don't you destroy it?"
The Doctor heaved a sigh. "It's not that easy, you see. Glowy green power relay manipulator things aren't that hard to find on the Orion black trade market. Give it another few months and they'll be back in business."
"I'm still not seeing why you want my help - and what are you doing?" Jim demanded. If the Doctor claimed there was secret code hidden in the bar menu, Jim was walking.
"Hmm? Oh, looking for their daiquiris." The Doctor shifted abruptly so that he could lean back against the bar, propping his elbows up behind him. "Did you know that the human race is the only species in existence to have invented the banana daiquiri and yet you can still find it on nearly every bar menu in the universe? Funny old universe, isn't it? One of the most popular drinks ever created, and all because of you clever, ridiculous humans." He tilted a grin at Jim. "Well, and me. But I really didn't have that much to do with it. Really, it's down to the French. Don't let the history logs fool you; the French definitely know how to party."
Jim blinked at him for a moment, trying to process that massive glut of information. "You would drive my First Officer nuts," he said, almost admiringly.
The Doctor's answering grin was strangely knowing. "I bet I would, yeah."
There was a moment of silence between them. "You still haven't explained what we're going to do about this planet exploding totem thing," Jim reminded him.
"Oh, that's easy." The Doctor waggled the stone in his hand. "I can use this to invert the process and destroy the totem instead." He paused thoughtfully. "Of course, I need to reinsert it in the totem for it to work."
"So you're proposing that we go up against an entire religious sect of how many people?"
"Oh," the Doctor said, drawling out the sound until it was almost a sentence in and of itself. "Only about a hundred or so."
Jim stared at him. "A hundred."
"It's a rough figure," the Doctor said.
"Just the two of us?"
The Doctor shrugged. "Not the worst odds I've seen. Besides, I'm a doctor! What have you got to worry about?"
"Yeah, no. My CMO worries enough for ten people. On a good day."
"Ah," the Doctor said, with a cheeky, brazen confidence that Jim would very much like to learn how to replicate. "But unlike the very esteemed Doctor McCoy, I'm never just a doctor. And I think we both know that the higher the odds are stacked against you, the more fun you enjoy it."
Well. He had a point there.
"This is an incredibly stupid and dangerous thing to do, isn't it?" Jim asked.
The Doctor's grin was breathtakingly eager. "Oh, yes!"
Jim's answering smile was slow and wicked. "Well, alright then. What do we need to do?"
"Um," the Doctor said, busy staring at something over Jim's shoulder. "Run, I think."
Jim turned to look. There was a small, spiky alien heading their way; it was electrically blue from top to bottom and wore an expression that was meant to make people get the fuck out of his way.
He also came up to Jim's knee.
"What, from him?" Jim laughed. "Are you serious?"
"You ever get that feeling when you're so angry you could almost explode?" The Doctor's tone was absent, distracted. His eyes cast back and forth across the room, looking for what, Jim couldn't even begin to fathom.
Jim's answering smirk was humourless. Boy, did he ever. "Of course I do."
The Doctor tipped his head towards the still-approaching alien. "For him, there's no 'almost' about it. Come on."
"Are you serious?" Jim demanded again, in a very different tone of voice, but the Doctor was already pushing away from the bar and bee-lining towards a wall that looked exactly the same as all the other walls. Cursing, Jim fumbled to catch up. "Doctor!"
"Not to worry!" the Doctor called over his shoulder. "This works nearly every time!"
"Oh, because that makes me feel better," Jim muttered.
The Doctor reached the wall a good few heartbeats ahead of Jim and started running his hands hurriedly over the bricks.
Jim glanced back at the potentially explosive alien. He was closing the gap between them at a worrying speed and Jim could see more of the ugly aliens shoving their way through the door. "Doct-"
"Aha!" The Doctor hooked his hand into a recess that Jim would never have noticed if he hadn't known to look for it and gave it a sharp tug. A section of wall swung out, revealing a distinctly sketchy-looking corridor on the other side.
"Smugglers," the Doctor said, in response to Jim's expression. "Always have the best secret hideouts. Not the greatest taste in home décor, though. You should probably look out for booby traps. Oh," he added, twisting to look at Jim over his shoulder. "Make sure you remind me of this when we get stranded on Rura Penthe with nothing but a packet of exploding bubble gum and a coat hanger."
Jim blinked. "Wha-"
"Come on, then!" the Doctor said, plunging into the dark corridor with his coat snapping behind him like a call to arms. "Allons-y!"