Amongst the glittering reds, greens, and golds that adorned the Captain’s quarters, Spock handed Jim a large plain box decorated with several holes. There was a scrabbling sound coming from inside the box, and Jim’s eyes instantly lit up.
“Aww, Spock! You got me a pet? And all I got you was a book.” Jim opened the bow-topped animal carrier and pulled out the tiny furred creature inside. “Oh, um, you got me a rat?”
Spock, appearing not at all perplexed, replied, “It is a Chihuahua, and therefore a Canis lupus familiaris.”
Jim dubiously eyed the small puppy. It was mostly black, with splashes of white on the tip of its nose and on its chest, its paws, and at the end of its tail. Jim swore it hardly weighed more than this communicator, and its eyes seemed way too big for its head.
“You got me a Chihuahua? Why?”
“I am aware that humans have the propensity to get ‘lonely’ when their partners are away, and there are many times that I cannot see you because of our schedules. Everything I read said a pet could ease the feelings of solitude and stress. Since a starship is limited in space, I determined that a Chihuahua, the smallest of the dog breeds, would suit the environment well. Small animals under twenty pounds are not against regulation, I have been assured it is trained to use the pet box.”
Jim made an uncommitted sound. “Well, I guess that’s logical. What should I name him?”
Lifting his brow, Spock replied, “It is a girl.”
“You got me a girl Chihuahua?” Jim could already imagine the jokes the crew would come up with, many probably involving purses and pink things.
Spock frowned, though only around his eyes. “Is the dog not to your liking, Jim?”
Jim gritted his teeth to prevent him from saying, “What dog?” Instead, he stared in the puppy’s overly big, brown eyes. The puppy twitched her nose, then laid her ears back and wagged her skinny tail. Jim melted a little at the gesture and smiled.
“She’s perfect, Spock. I think I’ll name her Holly. Holly the Christmas puppy.”
The Captain of the Enterprise then proceeded to smother the small puppy in kisses and baby coos, the puppy returning the favor with sloppy licks and pleased whines.
It was later that night, with Holly curled up at Jim’s side between he and Spock (“Just for tonight, I promise”) after crying from the side of the bed to be let up that Spock began to get an inkling that something might have gone terribly wrong.
“Aww, isn’t she just the cutest thing ever?”
“Oh, Captain, can I hold her?”
“If you ever need a pet sitter, I’m more than willing to help.”
The puppy sneezed. Adoring squeals followed as Jim patted Holly on her head. Spock sat stiffly by his side, attempting to avoid brushing against any number of the women surrounding his mate. His knuckles on his right hand turned a pale green as he took out his Vulcanly (and therefore nonexistent) frustrations on his spoon. No one seemed to notice.
Spock had never been more pleased to see Doctor McCoy approach the table. Taking one look at his overcrowded seat, McCoy barged in and shooed the disappointed women away. Spock relaxed his grip on the abused eating utensil.
McCoy glared at the puppy in his typical disapproving frown. “Should that mutt be at the table?”
Jim was thoroughly offended, covering up the puppy’s still floppy ears with his hands, presumably to prevent Holly from hearing the doctor’s remarks. If Spock were human he’d be rolling his eyes along with the doctor.
“I’ll have you know, Holly is a purebred. Right, Spock?” Jim turned eagerly to his Vulcan.
“That is correct, Captain.”
McCoy grunted and sat down. “I can’t believe you got him a puppy, Spock. I suppose you have very logical reasons to do so.”
Before Spock could reply, Jim jumped in, holding Holly up against his cheek. “Yup! She’s my replacement for when Spock’s gone. Best Christmas gift ever!”
Spock’s eyebrow shot up. He had not quite thought of it as Jim described it. As if sensing his mate’s dissention, Jim turned and kissed him quickly on the cheek. Spock flushed a delicate green and looked at Jim with a frown, who only smiled.
“Don’t worry, babe, you’re still my favorite.” Spock was placated.
Or at least he was until Jim covered the Chihuahua with kisses and praise not mere moments after his statement. McCoy chuckled, watching the display from across the table. He leaned over his tray and said to Spock, “Better watch out, buddy. Looks like you’ve got stiff competition.”
Spock did not encourage McCoy by voicing the “indeed” aloud.
Vulcans do not get sick. They therefore cannot get colds. Thus, Spock’s impeded ability to breathe clearly through his nose was nothing more than a little nasal irritation from the dust churned up by working in one of the Jefferies tubes.
And because that irritation made smelling a little difficult, he did not notice Holly the Christmas puppy’s own special gift she left in front of the door. That is, not until he stepped in it.
Spock immediately noted the sensation of his polished boot squishing something into the carpet.
At the same time, Jim called out as he stuck his head out the bathroom door, “Hey Spock, watch out for the dog poop! It’s just…oh.” Jim let a chuckle escape before he clamped his mouth shut. Spock stood very still on one leg, the other held up in the air. His face was carefully blank. Looking down, he noticed the adolescent Chihuahua sitting on her haunches and looking up at him with what he considered a smug look. She even wagged her tail.
Jim rubbed the back of his neck. “Ah, sorry Spock. I was just coming to clean it up.” He waved the tissue paper he had balled in his hand, not quite managing to keep the amused grin off his face.
Spock, in a feat of Vulcan control and balance, pulled his hands behind his back, looking as dignified as it was possible for someone standing on one leg and who had dog poop on the bottom of their shoe.
“I had thought this dog was toilet trained. It has now been several months and she has refused to use the pet box an average of 47.53 percent of the time.” He eyed the dog with an accusing glare. She merely wagged her tail harder.
“Well,” Jim said, bending over to pick up the mess off the carpet, “she may have been, but she was thrown into a new environment.”
Spock narrowed his eyes at the bent over form of his mate. “She has been living with us now for two point four months, and has deigned to urinate by my closet a total of 27 times.”
“Uh,” Jim said unintelligently. “28?”
Spock’s eye twitched.
Jim pulled up from his crouch on the floor, messy tissues held out at a distance. “I cleaned it up,” he said with a shrug. “You know that super cleaner makes it so there won’t ever be a stain or smell.”
Spock was not very mollified.
“She’ll get better at it, I promise. Besides, you were the one who got her for me.”
Sighing in reluctant agreement, Spock carefully tiptoed to the bed so he could remove his sullied boot.
It was late when Spock found himself returning to his and the Captain’s shared quarters after spending several days in the lab with a time-sensitive experiment. All through that time he had very little contact with his mate, and was looking forward to curling in bed by his side (it was logical to share body heat).
The doors swished quietly open, and, as he was now accustomed to doing, Spock looked quickly down, inspecting the carpet before crossing the threshold. The room was dark, but Spock’s vision was adequate for him to navigate around, stepping over the squeaky toys Holly had left skewed around the floor. Once he had stepped on one after returning late and the noise had woken Jim and sent the dog into a flurry of staccato yips, because, under Spock’s opinion and understanding of the definition, anything that came from the tiny dog could not be classified as a “bark.”
Quickly preparing for sleep, Spock entered the sleeping alcove where he and Jim shared a bed. His customary side was empty, and Spock carefully pulled back the covers so he could slide in next to Jim.
As soon as he touched the comforter, a growl rented the air. Spock froze. Looking in the corner where Holly’s bed was, he determined it was empty and that the lump next to Jim’s side was not a pillow hidden under the covers. As if to affirm the notion, the lump moved upward and a black and white head peaked out from beneath the comforter.
Spock figured that the dog could now smell him and realize who he was and proceeded in his attempt to get into bed.
Spock froze again, unsure what to do. He was concerned the dog’s growling would wake Jim.
“Holly, it is I, Spock,” he whispered. “Please cease your behavior.” He pulled the covers out of the way. Holly merely growled louder. Spock sighed, resigned to the animal’s growling. He would just have to get into bed as fast as possible and maybe the dog would settle down. Reaching out a hand to fluff his pillow to optimal parameters, his fingers passed the grumbling Chihuahua’s face. The dog let out a loud growl-yip and clamped her minute teeth on the Vulcan’s sensitive forefinger.
Spock was too shocked to make a sound, and indeed he would not have in any case. He did, though, bite the inside of his cheek and tried to will the painful stinging in his finger away. The dog had little strength to puncture his tough Vulcan skin, but she had administered a strong pinch.
“Mm, shh Holly,” Jim mumbled, rolling over and gathering the little dog to his chest, falling back asleep instantly. Spock was a little bit offended, and glared at the black mass of fur who was currently watching him as she pressed against his mate.
“Bad dog.” Somebody had to discipline her.
Holly simply blinked up at him. Spock quickly fit himself under the covers, making sure he kept his fingers well away from the softly growling dog.
When the first sock went missing, Spock had a new one replicated, presuming it had gotten lost in the ship’s laundry, a not uncommon occurrence. When the second one went missing, Spock sent a communications to the head of ship services, requesting the laundry department be more careful with his clothing, to which he was assured they would.
When his underwear was missing from his once-folded pile of dirty clothes in the bathroom when he stepped out of the sonic shower, he became suspicious.
“Jim, please cease taking my clothing.”
Jim propped himself up on his elbows from where he lay on their bed. “Huh?”
Spock ignored the inelegant response. “I have not changed my opinion about ‘practical jokes.’”
Jim yawned wide and rubbed his face, saying, “Your clothes have gone missing too?”
Cocking his head, Spock asked, “Do you mean to imply articles of your wardrobe have also been mislaid?”
“Yeah? And a couple of PADD styluses too. But don’t worry about it, they’ll show up.”
Spock was not at all satisfied by this statement but nonetheless complied with Jim’s request.
It was a couple of days later when a loud shout and the sounds of a small scuffle drew Spock to the sleeping area.
“Jim? Do you require assistance?” Spock could see his head peaking over from the other side of the bed.
“Yes!” His voice sounded strained as Spock circled around the bed to ascertain the source of the problem.
“She won’t let go!”
The scene which Spock encountered was probably categorized as humorous, but he was above such things.
Sprawled out on the ground, Jim had both hands wrapped around his red boxer briefs as he tried to wrestle it out of Holly’s mouth. The dog was issuing fierce growls from her tiny throat, and had planted her paws into the carpet. Jim would tug, and she would tug back.
Jim looked up at Spock.
“Aren’t you going to help me?”
With that encouragement, Spock strode over and picked up the tiny dog, and she immediately let go in favor of wriggling in his grasp; Spock set her back down and she jumped up on Jim’s knee as he stood, begging to start the game again. He held out his underwear with his hands, examining the clothing.
“Aww, look, she put holes in them!” To demonstrate, he stuck his pinky though a sizable hole chewed into the backside of the underwear. “These were my favorite.”
“Perhaps,” Spock told him, “if you did not leave your clothes on the floor she would not have gotten hold of them.”
Jim glared ruefully at Spock and pointed at the dog’s bed in the corner.
“’On the floor,’ huh? Then how did she get your stuff?”
Spock elevated an eyebrow and went to investigate. Hidden underneath the blankets piled in Holly’s bed, among the chewed dog bones and squeaker toys, Spock found four socks and two pairs of underwear, two of the former and one of the latter being his. Under closer inspection, all three had holes chewed into them. Jim’s missing styluses were also present.
He sighed and left them all to their new owner.
Perhaps it would have been better if Spock had gotten Jim a cat instead of a dog.
Jim placed his bag on the transporter pad, sighing in resignation. The ship was docked at Starbase 17 for holiday shore leave, though there was to be no rest for the Captain of the Enterprise.
“I’m sorry I’m not going to be here for our second Christmas together.”
Spock looked down at the transporter controls, pretending to be wholly occupied with ensuring the proper settings and resolutely blocking any disappointment he felt from reaching Jim through their fledgling link. It was illogical to feel anything, as Vulcans did not put any significance to the holiday.
“Jim, you have a tendency to forget that I am Vulcan, and thus have no emotional attachments to your human holiday. Furthermore, Starfleet ordered you to Earth for reasons greater than any I could offer.”
Spock watched Jim from under his lashes, and so saw when his mate stepped from the pad and approached him.
“Spock,” Jim said, placing a hand under the Vulcan’s chin, prodding him to raise his head and look into crystal blue eyes which Spock knew were unmatched in beauty by anyone else.
“Spock,” Jim repeated, “you know there is nothing more important than you? If you ever really needed me, Starfleet could take their orders and shove it in a really uncomfortable place. Or, well, uncomfortable without some prep and a generous amount of lube.”
He smiled at his own Joke. Spock obviously didn’t laugh at Jim’s attempt at humor, though he secretly appreciated the gesture, one no doubt intended to lighten the mood, so he allowed the control over his facial expressions to slip. The small upward curvature of his mouth had Jim’s eyes lighting up with warm appreciation, and he leaned in over the control console and stole a quick kiss before turning away and returning to the transporter pad.
“Well, Spock, you take good care of Holly. I’m sure you two will be the best of friends by the time I get back.”
Once his mate had disappeared into the transporter beam, Spock relinquished control to the Ensign on duty and left the room. Normally when he was off shift he would be down in the labs, but with Jim gone, he had other duties to attend to.
Mainly, pet sitting duties.
Opening the doors to their quarters, Spock was immediately greeting by the uncontrolled yapping of a black and white annoyance. Jim constantly insisted the way her white paws jumped off the floor as she barked was “simply adorable.” Spock, however, did not see it, when every single time he returned to his quarters it was an occasion for a noise akin to the red alert siren.
“Quiet,” he ordered aloud, since he’d learned that firm glances did not work on Chihuahuas as they did on humans. Also something he was coming to understand, voicing the command to the dog did not work either, as Holly simply ignored him and continued to bark.
Spock did not sigh, as that would accomplish no purpose and therefore be illogical, and walked further into the room, letting the doors slide shut behind him.
As he had expected, Holly eventually decided he wasn’t worth her time and fell silent, turning her back to the Vulcan and sitting in front of the door, eyes fixed upward and ears perked.
“Jim will not be home tonight,” Spock told the dog, belatedly considering the merits of telling the animal something it did not understand. Perhaps it was the way Jim spoke to Holly as if she were a person that made him dismiss this fact; however it may be, Holly refused to acknowledge him. I-Chaya, his childhood sehlat, had never been this disobedient.
Spock quietly worked for some time at his computer terminal, going through reports and extracurricular papers, for the moment letting himself forget the other presence in the room. That other presence did the same.
Soon enough, Spock’s internal clock made him aware it was nearing late evening, and the time for which Jim instructed Holly should be fed. He shut down his monitor and stood, glancing at the small black figure still lying in front of the door, patiently waiting for her master to come home. Spock was forced to give the dog credit; she certainly was as loyal as I-Chaya.
There was a setting for Holly’s meal already programmed into the small replicator allowed to the captains of starships. Spock pressed the button, waiting while the machine whirled and clicked, before the shielding slid open and a pink bowl marked “Princess” was revealed, filled with an assortment of meat, vegetables, and special pet health mixture that looked akin to oatmeal. Spock was not one too keen on meat, but Jim had claimed multiple times that Holly’s food looked good enough to eat himself.
Spock reached into the replicator’s compartment and pulled the dish out, and then turned around, stopping mid-step to avoid tripping over Holly, who had decided Spock was worthy enough now to offer him her full attention. Spock looked down at the little dog, and she immediately stretched up so her paws rested on his knee and gave a few eager scratches, whine-growling in excitement, tail wagging wildly.
Spock was curious at how the dog could be so unashamedly happy at something he had to offer. It sort of reminded him of the way Jim looked at him after Spock allowed himself to show his streak of witty humor, or when he brushed two of his fingers against two of Jim’s own, or even occasionally when Spock simply entered a room. Currently Holly mimicked Jim’s wide, expressive eyes, adoring expression, and large grin.
In layman’s terms, it was more than a little bit endearing. Spock recalled the affection he felt for I-Chaya, and supposed it would do no harm in feeling a little fondness for the pet that gave Jim so much pleasure.
The Chihuahua ran in circles as Spock bent and placed the bowl on her dining mat before the dog attacked her food with the ferocity of a starved Le-matya. Spock let his fingers brush the smooth fur on the dog’s back as he rose, sensing from her mind merely feelings of happy, happy, happy, good, content. Spock alleged that this was an example of the value of what human’s called “the simple things in life.”
Spock would never be the first to admit that a hot bowl of Plomeek soup always seemed to sooth his mind when it was troubled.
The dog fed, Spock returned to the replicator and dialed the numbers, waiting once more as the machine whirled to life, and then pulled out a large, steaming bowl of the Vulcan soup.
After dinner, Spock changed into his meditation robe and settled down in front of his fire pit. He meditated for no longer than five minutes before he heard a series of staccato squeaks followed by the sensation of an object dropping into his lap. He opened his eyes and looked down, finding that a stuffed cat had been dropped onto his person. A quick glance in front of him resulted in a sharp bark as Holly saw his attention on her before she dropped into a half-crouch, her backside still high up in the air.
Spock looked back down at his lap at the dog toy and then back up at Holly. He raised a brow.
“You wish to play?” The dog gave another quick yip and wagged her tail as if she understood what he said. Spock, of course, knew that she didn’t, but nonetheless continued to talk; it would be nice to speak his mind without the added responses a human, such as Doctor McCoy, would deign to add.
“I am not practiced in the skill of ‘fetch,’ but I have observed Jim participate in this activity. I hope you find me an adequate substitute.” Without further ado, he tossed the cat across the room. Holly turned on her haunches and raced for it, snatching it up with her teeth and giving it a sharp shake. Then she trotted back to Spock, squeaking the toy energetically, and dropped it once again in his lap. He picked it back up and threw it again, a little farther. Holly repeated her previous run before stopping once again in front of Spock, although this time she did not let go of her toy.
“I cannot throw it again if you do not release your hold.”
Holly squeaked her toy in response. Spock reached out and took hold of the slobbery cat’s backend, thinking that would result in the dog letting go, but she instead tugged on the toy. Spock was unprepared and it slipped from his grasp, and then he understood.
“This is the game called ‘tug-of-war.’ I recall Jim incorporating this into your fetch sessions. Very well.”
For the rest of the hour Spock had set aside for mediation, he alternately threw the toy cat and tried to wrestle it from Holly’s surprisingly strong hold.
Later that night, as Spock lay in bed, mentally organizing his mind for sleep, he was interrupted once again by an insistent whine-growl and scratching at the side of the bed.
“Holly, you have your own bed to slumber in; please cease your futile actions.”
After some moments the scratching stopped and Holly sneezed in what Spock decided was analogous to a human pout. He heard the dog settle into her own bed, which involved much scratching and nosing of her blankets and circling before she collapsed into the bedding.
Satisfied, Spock went to sleep.
The following days were filled with much solitude, with the barest skeleton crew remaining on the ship, the rest on holiday leave. Spock, without the influence of Jim to force him into strenuous activities human’s called “vacations,” merely caught up on experiments and spent some time reading new reports published. He was not adverse to the solitude from noisy, emotional humans, but he missed Jim. It was surprisingly comforting to check on Holly during the day and make sure all her needs had been met. Every time he walked into the quarters he was met with the same raucous barking, though he noticed the amount of time the dog engaged in this activity decreased by 12.79 seconds each time.
The second night had been much like the first. This time when Holly had presented a toy to Spock, it had been a plastic Christmas tree.
Spock examined the toy in his hand.
“Tomorrow it will have been one year since you’ve come to the Enterprise,” he told the dog. She was uninterested in his words and barked to get him to throw her toy. Spock obliged. As he waited for the dog to return the toy, he glanced around at the bare walls of his and Jim’s quarters, and had an idea. Just because Jim wouldn’t be here for Christmas tomorrow didn’t mean he couldn’t experience the holiday when he got back. All it would require from Spock is a little alteration to their quarters.
That night as Holly went to sleep curled up in her bed, it was underneath a small, decorated Christmas tree.
On Christmas eve, Spock fed Holly and then replicated himself a bowl of mixed Terran and Vulcan vegetables. He sat down at the multipurpose table in the room and methodically began eating the slightly spiced dish.
Not moments later, Holly leaned up on his knee with her front paws and scratched, emitting her whine-growl. Spock simply stared down at the begging dog.
“You have completed your meal, and thus do not require further sustenance.”
The dog ignored him; Spock continued to eat, similarly ignoring the scratching at his pant leg. It would be illogical to encourage her by giving her with a small piece of his dinner.
The dog was highly persistent, though, and Spock had witnessed Jim feeding the dog some of his meals, so Spock speared a zucchini with his fork and stood up, walking over to Holly’s own bowl and dropping the vegetable in it. Holly scrambled over and eagerly sniffed her bowl, before taking a test lick. She sneezed and looked ruefully up at Spock, licking her lips. She did not eat the spiced zucchini.
“Forgive me, that is all I have.” Holly whined in response. She remained Spock of Jim when he pouted after not getting what he wanted.
After dinner, Spock once again settled down to meditate, this time making it 46.73 minutes uninterrupted as the dog sulked in her bed. He must have been forgiven after the short time period because she approached him to jump up on his chest. Taking a few moments to end his meditation, Spock opened his eyes to find large, liquid brown ones looking up into his.
Noticing his attention on her, Holly rolled immediately onto her back, paws hanging in the air.
“A most curious gesture,” Spock remarked. “In canines, this is a submissive sign, and one done to induce affection.” Spock reached out and scratched at Holly’s smooth belly. Flashes of happy, good, love flowed though Spock’s fingers in contact with the dog; peculiarly, he noticed his body functions such as blood pressure and endorphins decreased and increased, respectively, as he gave the dog an abdominal rub.
Sometime later, Spock returned to the replicator and fiddled with the controls. Moments later, the door slid open and Spock pulled out a biscuit shaped like a bone. Holly wagged her tail excitedly.
“It is past midnight on Christmas day,” he told her. “As you are a Terran native, I conclude it would be appropriate to give you a gift.” He offered the dog the treat and she snatched it up and promptly devoured it.
“Merry Christmas, Holly.”
That night, Spock was unable to sleep, disturbed with the pitiful whining coming from beside the bed.
Jim entered the quarters silently, placing his bag by the door and tiptoeing inside. He was slightly started to see the room decorated for Christmas, complete with the small artificial tree in the corner. Spock must have decorated the room for when Jim returned. Hopelessly touched by the gesture, Jim padded across the room to the sleeping alcove.
He smiled when he saw Spock curled up on his side, dim light of the quarters throwing soft shadows on his face. For a species that claimed they required less sleep than other species, Vulcans sure looked like they enjoyed it.
He had returned early from his trip to surprise his favorite Vulcan…what better way to wake him up than with a Christmas kiss?
Carefully, Jim placed his hands on the mattresses and leaned over. A growl stopped him short.
“Holly?” Jim’s smile widened to an almost painful degree as the little Chihuahua wiggled her head out from underneath the covers at Spock’s side.
Oh, this was too much, Spock letting the dog sleep in bed on Christmas.
“Aww,” Jim whispered, “did you take care of Spock while I was away? What a good girl,” Jim cooed. Now that Holly knew who he was, he began leaning forward again to give Spock that kiss. Holly growled again, louder this time. Jim paid her no heed, unaware it would be his only warning.
Holly had found Spock to be a very efficient heating blanket, and did not wish to be disturbed. She indicated this to Jim by nipping him clear on the nose when he leaned in close enough.
Spock smiled slightly into his pillow and curled the dog firmly to his chest so she could no longer bite at his mate. Holly, feelings of satisfaction at a job well done filtering from her, sighed and fell back to sleep as Spock pulled an offended Jim down to soothe his sore nose with a kiss.