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Story Notes:

Warnings: Mentions of Tarsus IV.

 

Posted with the permission of the original author

 

***



“Is it really that time of year again? Where did the time go? Why does it always have to come around? You know I hate this time of year, Spock,” the Captain was complaining as he did up his fly and yanked his boots on gracelessly. “I wish we could just cancel the holidays. I mean, we’re on the edge of the fricking Federation. You would’ve thought – ”

“The distance from the heartland of Federation space has no bearing on the affiliations or traditions of the members of Starfleet fortunate enough to count as the crew of this ship, or on their desire to observe their native festivals,” his lover intoned from the bed. It was Spock’s day off, and, after their extensive horizontal morning exercise he intended to spend the next few hours in bed, catching up on the latest scientific journals.

Jim looked at him with a mix of tolerant amusement and affection, and frustration. “Vulcans do not celebrate Christmas. Vulcans do not celebrate Hanukah. Vulcans do not celebrate First Snowfall, or Samhain, or Solstice, or Ank’mude, or Diwali, or…”

“Indeed.”

“It wouldn’t be logical. Now, there you have it, Spock. Why couldn’t we have a crew of logical Vulcans?” Kirk stood with his hands on his hips.

Spock raised an eyebrow, and Jim’s expression fell.

“Oh shit. Sorry. Foot in mouth.” Interiorly, Kirk castigated himself for his slip up. Of course they couldn’t have a crew of Vulcans; most of them were busy making little Vulcans and preserving what they could of Vulcan heritage on New Vulcan. He flopped down on the end of the bed, defeated.

“Jim,” Spock said gently, interlacing his fingers with Kirk’s. Jim looked up into eyes filled with fathomless love, loyalty and respect. “Have you spoken with Dr McCoy about this?”

“Yes. Bones couldn’t help me any further than he already has. It’s a bad time of year, unpleasant anniversaries, personal tragedies, life-ruining incidents, death… And my aversion to the holidays is a combination of delayed reaction stemming from lack of an adequate parental figure, anger, and, if I’m brutally honest, jealousy because my family was that family which never celebrated anything because there was never anything to fucking well celebrate. Yeah, yeah. Nothing new there. Talking with him was just rehashing the crap and the pain from my childhood.”

“Including Tarsus?”

Jim froze, making a move to slide his fingers out from under Spock’s. Spock gripped the retreating digits, not letting them go.

“What’s that got to do with it?” Jim’s tone was cutting and icy.

“I recall that last year at around this time the nightmares recurred.”

Jim was silent for several minutes.

“You know, Spock,” Jim said wistfully, “You know that I always dreamed of having a real holiday season, a real Christmas.”

Spock knew. He’d seen in their melds the broken memories of a child whose experience lacked the basic necessities: a warm place to sleep, blankets, peace in the night without the sounds of drunken fighting, basic safety. He knew Jim’s early existence had lacked the usual Christmas trimmings: presents, trees, reindeer, Santa, or even traditional Christmas fare. He knew in great depth the pain Jim still felt at the memories of how other kids wished for next Playtstation holosuite, where all he had yearned for was peace, a holiday season absent of fear and hatred and anger.

Spock also knew that Tarsus continued to haunt the steps of his beloved. Not even in their melds had Jim ever revealed the whole story; it was too deeply painful for that, more so than his earlier childhood. He knew the sense of betrayal that Starfleet never came. He knew the suffering of the young Jim had gathered around him. He knew the cost to Jim of caring for those kids and sheltering them as far as he could from the worst excesses of their situation. One particular memory remained with Spock, shared when Jim had been particularly drunk one evening. Kodos’ men had eventually tracked Jim and the kids with him to the caves in which they had taken refuge. One dressed up as Father Christmas, offering the starving children stale bread and the last remnants of dried jerky, presents eagerly devoured, but with a terrible price tag. The cost was Jim’s last remaining innocence. At least Jim offering his body to their perverted uses had in fact saved the other children from a similar fate (though they had been made to watch), and Kodos’ men were more interested in satisfying their lusts with Jim than revealing the location of a bunch of half-starved tiny scarecrows. They came back time and again. That had been the New Year Jim wanted to end, and he had sworn he’d never make another wish again, because he’d come to see dreams as mostly empty, wishful thinking.

Spock let the silence lapse, his heart grieving deeply for his mate. No child should have to endure what he had endured. That he was the man he was today, that he was functional at all, was nothing short of miraculous. And a testimony to Jim’s character.

Jim went on, his voice hard and bitter. “This holiday season’s about insubstantial dreams, myths, and wishful thinking. Oh sure, it might be about spreading around the good cheer and whatever. But fuck that. Anything that happens in life, Spock, is about sheer dint of effort and determination and a bit of luck. It’s got nothing to do with dreaming.”

“That does not explain why you do not wish to attend the senior crew New Year function.”

Jim whipped around to face Spock, his eyes flashing with hurt. “And be around a whole bunch of happy, hoping dreamers? Who when it comes to New Year’s wishes and resolutions will just want the usual: prosperity, new love, to lose weight. Same old, same old. What a fricking waste of time.”

Spock considered his next words carefully.

“There are a number of reasons why your presence is required at these events, Jim, some of which I know you are cognizant. Shall I list them?”

“Be my guest. Convince me, Spock.” Jim made a sweeping gesture with one hand, inviting Spock to “take the floor”.

“In the first place, you are the Captain of this crew. Regardless of your personal feelings on matters such as holiday observance, you must – and mostly do – set a good example to the crew of participating even in events you find distasteful. Furthermore, your absence would not only be noted and remarked upon, it would also send a message to your crew that you a) do not deem these functions to be sufficiently important to warrant your attention; b) do not respect the plethora of cultural traditions dear to many crew; and c) therefore do not, ultimately, respect them. It is the Captain’s responsibility to maintain crew morale, or to put into place measures to ensure its maintenance. Therefore, logically, it is preferable that you attend at least part of the evening.”

Jim opened his mouth to say something, but his lover hadn’t finished, and held up a hand to indicate as much.

“We must also consider the psychological importance you hold for the majority of Terran crew, and for others who come from hierarchical societies. As Captain, you must be aware – and in fact, I know you are painfully aware, at times – of the tendency of crew to project expectations and needs onto the role of Captain. You are not James Kirk, but to them Captain Kirk, the one who stands in loco parentis. To them, your laugh signifies warmth, acceptance, family, enjoyment. Your discipline signifies displeasure and disapprobation. For you not to appear at the New Year’s function would suggest to them that their parent, in absentia, does not care to oversee and bless their endeavours for the year ahead.”

Spock could tell that had struck a raw nerve; how many Christmases had Commander Kirk missed when she’d left her children on Earth in order to reach for the stars? Spock was not in the habit of judging others. Nevertheless, when it came to his bondmate, he had to suppress the primal anger which raged in his depths at the thought of what that poor child had had to endure. No Vulcan parent would...

“I put it to you, Captain, that perhaps instead of seeing the negative aspects of this obligation laid on you by virtue of your office, you may be able to see the possibilities. There are always possibilities.”

“Like what?”

“Is it possible, for instance, for you to look at this party as an opportunity to lay to rest some ‘ghosts of Christmas past’ as Doctor McCoy might say, and create new, positive memories?”

The question hovered between them.

“There is one final reason. A most logical reason. The most logical reason of all for you to attend the function tomorrow evening. And that is,” Spock moved forward on the bed to take his Captain in his arms so he could whisper into his ear, “because I wish it. It is always logical to please one’s mate.”

For a few minutes Jim closed his eyes and allowed Spock to cradle him, soothing away some of the bad memories their conversation had prompted. He felt safe, treasured in Spock’s arms. And so held, how could he refuse or refute the logic presented to him?

“All right, Spock. Because you wish it, and because it would please you. And because pleasing you makes me as happy as pleasing me makes you. And please me you most certainly do, Mr Spock.” He turned his head to look at Spock and kissed his cheek before pulling away.

Spock let him go so he could stand back a little. He did not preen under his lover’s eye, and he wasn’t aware of his nakedness, or of the desire which was making him already half-hard. Oh no. And nor did he deliberately flaunt it in an attempt to seduce his mate. No. He was Vulcan.

“And if I don’t hurry to the bridge, I’m afraid I might be tempted to stay so that we can please one another some more.” Jim’s voice had its own rumble.

Spock emitted a rumble from somewhere deep within, a cross between a purr and a moan, a sound he knew Jim couldn’t resist.

Jim rushed in to steal a passionate kiss, all tongues and teeth with none of their usual technique. A kiss which was a promise to return tonight for more… And giving the now frustrated Vulcan a saucy grin, Kirk skipped out of their quarters, resuming his Captain persona the moment he made the door.

Spock almost-smiled and allowed himself to fall back on the bed. James Kirk was a most frustratingly illogical man – and Spock loved him. While Jim’s insecurity and occasional lapses in self-awareness such as they’d witnessed this morning persisted, Spock was also willing, and counted himself privileged to be his mate’s sounding board, the one who lifted his spirits, in whom he confided. And it was mutual in ways Spock was sure Jim didn’t fully comprehend, their bond notwithstanding. It was sufficient to Spock that his mind was joined forever to that of the bright human, that they belonged to each other, and that they each made up for the other’s lacks.

Willing his arousal away, he picked up his PADD and turned to the place he’d left off.

***

Spock ushered his Captain through the corridors, feeling the petulant reluctance and grudging obedience to duty through the bond.

“It will be alright, Jim. I shall remain by your side the entire evening, and if you begin to tire, we can leave.”

Kirk nodded. Sometimes he felt Spock parented him. But truly, in the past fifteen months since they’d bonded he’d not been happier. He was content to cede Spock some ground because he was so unfailingly courteous and gentle.

The doors to the shuttle bay opened to reveal a party in full flight: someone had turned a portion of the bay into an ice-skating rink; someone else was running a stall which offered the opportunity to bob for apples; there was a fairy-floss stall, a may pole (a may pole? Really? At a December holidays party? Whatever.), and an enormous tree as tall as the shuttle bay itself. Amongst the branches Kirk could make out ensigns chasing one another with shrieks of laughter; on the far side of the tree he espied a children’s playground, only created to adult size. It featured a jumping castle, a ball pit with a slide from somewhere in the middle of the tree, rope bridges and climbing apparatus… and to top it off, a small rollercoaster.

This was certainly not what he’d had in mind when he envisaged a “senior staff New Year’s party”. But then again, what would you expect of a bunch of people, many of whom were still barely out of their teens? (Chekov wasn’t – he’d just turned 19.) When engineers and scientists and operations staff play… they’re only limited by the volume of material needed, space and their imaginations. Of the first, Jim imagined most of this was formed using a mix of holo-emission technology and replication (which recycled everything, nothing would be wasted). Of the second, well… the shuttle bay was more glitzy than a fair ground, and it filled the whole space. And of the third? Starfleet wasn’t for intellectual slouches or dummies, let’s put it that way. Jim himself had been privy and a contributor to some of Scotty’s wilder flights of fancy, and most of the engineering department, having been hand-picked by the chief engineer, shared his proclivities.

Jim burst out laughing.

“Did you know, Spock?”

“Know what?”

“That the senior staff New Year’s party was going to be a children’s fairground amusement park?”

Spock raised one eyebrow, the expression that clearly said, I’m not telling you anything, Captain, because it pleases me to allow you to guess – and be wrong.

Jim grinned. “You are one cheeky Vulcan. Did your mother ever tell you that?”

“Negative. I do not recall my mother calling me ‘cheeky’.”

“So… you promised you wouldn’t leave my side all night,” Jim began slyly. “Can I hold you to that?”

Without waiting for a reply, Jim grabbed Spock’s hand and dragged him to the fairy floss counter where a smiling yeoman handed them both sticks with the sugary substance wrapped around them. He dragged his mate all over the fairground, insisted that they romp in the ball pit and go on the rollercoaster, and then eat ice cream while sitting at the top of the Christmas tree. In the course of the evening he had a number of conversations with crew, who were all very pleased the Captain had not only come, but joined in like a big kid.

It was late by the time they decided to return to their quarters. Spock stopped on their way out at the last stall on the left, which didn’t appear to have anything particularly interesting on offer. Jim hadn’t bothered exploring that stall, too busy having fun to do anything more than observe the odd shy ensign approach the stall, credits being exchanged, and the proprietor handing over a small brown paper bag. Spock clutched his in his hand as they made their way up to the officers’ deck, as though it contained something precious.

“Wow, Spock! You were right. That was… completely awesome. I can’t believe you actually rode on the rollercoaster with me. I thought Chekov’s eyes were going to pop out of his head with surprise! And even Sulu was amazed when it went upside down and you let your arms dangle like a fangirl.”

“I did not, however, scream, Captain. Unlike certain others.”

Jim coloured. “Yes, well…” He nodded to a passing ensign who said: “Merry Christmas, sir!”

“I’m so glad you convinced me to go. Bones gave me a knowing look, the smug bastard. Did you get a chance to talk to him? I suspect he’s pretty heavily into that new lieutenant in botany… Adeline Carmody? I saw them snogging in the ball pit. Well, maybe it was more than snogging.” He chuckled. “Whatever. The man is so not going to live that one down.”

Spock listened as Jim prattled. He was pleased Jim had enjoyed himself so thoroughly. He would never admit it, but the fairground idea had been his own, albeit quickly hijacked by the more enthusiastic members of engineering and science who had worked together to create it.

They got to the door of their quarters and it opened. Jim went straight through to the bedroom and began stripping off his filthy clothes. Spock looked down at himself and noted with resignation had he too had streaks of chocolate ice cream decorating his front, and his pants felt grotty from rolling around in the ball pit and sliding fifteen times down the slide into said pit. He too stripped and followed Jim into the shower after carefully placing his package on the Captain’s desk.

Most often their showers resulted in extensive vertical exercise. But tonight Jim was too keyed up by their adventure to play anymore, and continued his commentary with the odd interjection by his Vulcan lover. They soaped each other’s backs and scrubbed themselves, sharing the water (a concession Spock had made for Kirk’s preferences, admitting it was… pleasant to share bathing time with this one, his mate). Kirk turned the shower off and grabbed two fluffy towels from the rack, and they performed the same actions as they had with the soap, tenderly drying one another before donning robes.

It was well past dinner time, but Jim was (predictably) hungry. Spock set before them both mugs of hot chocolate and pfeffernüsse cookies. Jim was calmer now, less hyped than he had been, though he was animated as they continued to talk quietly about the evening, sipping their chocolate and munching their cookies. Jim was quietly pleased to see Spock letting his hair down and drinking some chocolate; he loved it when the Vulcan allowed his inhibitions to slip. Spock was usually careful about where and when he chose to indulge, and Jim was delighted and honoured, treasuring the face that Spock was willing to be so vulnerable with him.

Kirk stilled and reached across the table, to stroke the back of Spock’s hand which was holding his mug. Spock gazed into the cerulean depths which were sparking with warmth and affection he knew mirrored his own.

“Thank you, Spock. Thanks for a perfect evening. Thanks for making new memories with me. That’s one I’m not going to forget too soon.” More softly he continued: “Lieutenant Butterworth told me it was your idea. Tell me, Spock, was all of that… for me?”

Spock put down his mug and turned his palm over to take the human’s fingers in his own. Their connection sparked between them.

“It was, wasn’t it?” Jim said with reverence.

Keeping his eyes fixed on Spock’s, he came around the table and sat himself in Spock’s lap, leaning in to offer a gentle kiss to his lips.

“You are the best mate ever. Thanks, Spock. I don’t really have the words, you know. I’m just so…” Jim bent his head down to rest on Spock’s shoulder. “I’m so lucky to have you at my side, in my mind and heart, in my bed. What would I do without you, my resourceful, creative, brilliant, logical First Officer and bond mate? Remind me always to listen to your sage advice, ok?”

He rested there, Spock’s arms around him, his wrapped around Spock’s neck. He distantly was aware of a rustling off to one side, and then Spock rose, urging Jim to his feet.

“What? – ” Jim began, and then looked up.

Spock was holding none other than a sprig of mistletoe over their heads.

Jim laughed uproariously, and even Spock’s mouth twitched.

“I can’t believe it, Spock. Is this what was in the last stall?”

“Indeed. It is the ‘genuine article’, maintained in stasis since our last visit to Earth, for precisely this occasion.”

“Two months?” Jim’s mouth gaped. He connected some dots. “Does this mean you’ve been planning this for two months?”

“Affirmative. And logically, our evening shall not be complete until we have observed this final tradition. I wish to create another memory with you, Jim. Will you join me?”

“Uh huh,” Jim murmured, wrapping his arms around Spock’s neck again. “You really are a romantic. I love that about you, Spock. I love the fact you completely baffle my expectations and surprise me over again. I hope we’ll always surprise each other with the good things we’re capable of.”

Spock leaned in under the sprig and joined his lips to Kirk’s the human way (which he’d come to enjoy above… many things). At first it was chaste and sweet, the flavour of chocolate still lacing their tongues and lips. Spock traced his tongue around Jim’s teeth, savouring the last hint of cinnamon and spice, and beneath it, Jim’s own unique taste – a taste he simply couldn’t get enough of. Jim’s tongue rubbed up against Spock’s duelling, dancing, sliding… Jim’s teeth tugged at his lower lip, nibbled and sucked along it in a way he knew Spock loved. Spock traced the human brows, and curved ears, his nimble fingers finding first Jim’s psi-points, and then down to the hollows beneath his ears, those tender patches at the join of neck and shoulder, down to pinch and tug and massage the human’s nipples until they could both feel the press of hard flesh beneath their robes.

Jim drew back, panting. Spock really knew how to wind a guy! And Jim wouldn’t have it any other way. He gazed into the lust-blown eyes, reading there the magnitude of the emotions Spock held for him, a flood, which, when their bond was fully open, was like a buoyant sea bearing Jim away to transports of delight.

Knowing Spock’s possessive, overwhelming care for him blew him away from time to time; this was one of those moments, when he realised just how much he meant to the Vulcan, and what he was willing to do to love and care for, and win over again the heart of a starship captain who knew he didn’t deserve such undying loyalty.

Threading his hands behind the Vulcan’s neck, he drew his forehead to meet his own, closing his eyes and simply enjoying the closeness of this one he loved, memorising it, committing each breath they breathed together to memory.

“How long have we been bonded and married now?”

“Fourteen months, two weeks, two days and fourteen hours since we were bonded.” The Vulcan’s hands roamed his back possessively, remembering their first pon farr together.

Jim remembered too, a small shiver of delicious memory passing through their bond. “I gave you my heart then, Spock. But you’ve got this way of loving me... It steals my breath and makes me want to give it all to you, all over again. So…”

He took a large breath, squeezing his eyes shut before opening them wide has he gazed into his love’s eyes.

“From this moment, Spock, from this moment, and in every moment for the rest of my life, I’m yours. I give you my heart again, with all that I am and all that I have. You’ve made my dreams come true, and you keep making my dreams come true, and that just leaves me… speechless. That you love me so much. That you’d do something like you did tonight for me. Fuck, Spock. I can hardly…” He blinked against his tears and threw his arms around Spock’s neck, holding him tightly. “I… love you… so much,” he whispered, clutching tight. They paused, holding each other close.

Jim pushed back to stare into Spock’s eyes, one hand on either side of his face, feeling the sparks of current as they paused over his psi-points. “I will do anything and everything for you, Spock. It’s not always easy, and I know I’m not easy to live with. But I promise you I’ll always put in the hard work.”

He allowed Spock to draw his head to rest once more on Spock’s shoulder, the Vulcan’s hand cradling the back of his beloved’s head.

Spock loosened his side of the bond, letting down his shields, and it surged between them, awash with the intense feelings and emotions: love, possessive protectiveness, desire, loyalty, affection, astonishment, acceptance.

From this moment on, Spock whispered through their connection, sending unending and eternal ripples which replicated all that they held for each other. And it was a reciprocation, his self-giving equal to that of his mate and lover, and just as tender.

“Forever, Spock,” Jim said as they opened their eyes, both of them with droplets like silver rain on their cheeks. Spock not-smiled back at him.

After a moment of sharing that gaze, Jim grabbed Spock’s wrist and tugged. He took the mistletoe and laid it on the shelf at the head of the bed.

“Come on, Spock. Let’s make even more good Christmas memories.”

And they did, long into the night, with the forgotten mistletoe standing guard as a sentinel in blessing.

FIN

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