Series: ST XI
Word Count: ~11,000
Disclaimer: They're not mine, unfortunately.
Notes: Written for ksadvent.
Summary: For the prompt: During a rare shore leave on Earth over the holidays, Kirk invites Spock to his (empty) family home complete with log fires, and teaches him how to decorate a tree.
“Jim, would it not be safer to pull over at the next designated rest area and simply beam to your mother's home?”
“There aren't any rest stops between here and there,”Jim shouted over the sound of the wind gusting through the open window. He gripped the steering wheel with his right hand as he craned his head out the window and stared into the blinding snow. “Besides, I know what I'm doing.”
“I beg to differ--” Spock began, but was interrupted as the car jerked swiftly to the right. His hand slipped down to grip the door handle as he stared through the windshield into the seemingly unending whiteness.
Spock hadn't questioned Jim when he suggested they use an antique Earth vehicle rather than a hover car for their trip to Jim's childhood home. The car was a rental. The windshield was cracked and the heating system rattled when Spock turned it past the first setting, but it had a new set of snow-tires and Jim had jumped in happily and started the car.
The blizzard hit forty-five minutes into their drive. Fluffy white snowflakes turned to sheets of ice pellets, blustering around the car and leaving them with almost zero visibility, turning their drive into a white nightmare – at least, according to Spock.
Jim, on the other hand, was enjoying himself.
“Just gotta keep the car lined up with the yellow median line,” Jim shouted with a grin. “Easier to see it with the window open.”
“Indeed, Jim” Spock replied, gripping the door handle with both hands as the car swerved violently again.
“You're starting to look like Bones over there,” Jim yelled in reply. “You're gripping the door handle the same way he grips his seat in the shuttle.”
“Doctor McCoy's fear of space travel is misplaced and illogical,” Spock said, raising his voice in order to be heard over the outside noise. “Traveling through a white-out, during a blizzard, on a snow-packed road is infinitely more treacherous.”
“Spock,” Jim sputtered. “You've traveled all over the galaxy and you're afraid of this?”He chanced a glance at Spock, who was staring back at him wide-eyed. “You're fine,” Jim said with a laugh. “We're fine. Trust me. And we're almost there.”
Keeping his neck strained out the window, Jim stretched his arm over to turn up the radio. Spock kept a tight grip on the door handle as the sounds of an outdated Earth Christmas song filled the car.
When Jim finally turned the wheel, Spock realized they were pulling into a long gravel driveway. The car fish-tailed for a moment as Jim steered them toward a large whitewashed farmhouse.
“Well, we're here,” Jim said simply as he shut the car off. He glanced up through the windshield, squinting at the dark house. “Looks like nobody's home.”
Spock looked at him curiously. “You mentioned that your mother and brother would be absent. Were you expecting someone to be here?”
“No, Sam's with Aurelan, visiting her family, and my mom jetted off with her new boyfriend.” Jim said, shrugging his shoulders. “I'm never home for Christmas anymore, anyway, but still – it's weird. The house looks so dark.”
Jim let out a huff, his breath visible in the chilly car, before pulling the door handle and jumping out. “Come on,” he called, slamming the door behind him. “Let's grab our stuff and get inside before we freeze.”
Spock removed his suitcase from the trunk of the car before following Jim up the icy steps. The rubber soles on his boots caused him to slip slightly, and his hand slapped down on the railing as he attempted to keep himself upright. Jim turned back, clasping his hand on Spock's wrist and holding on tightly as Spock made his way from the steps to the front door.
“I am unaccustomed to ice,” Spock explained.
“You'll get used to it.” Jim said, kicking his boots against the doorstep in an attempt to remove the snow. “Now let's get inside, it's freezing out here.”
“Should've known it'd be freezing in here too.”
Jim threw several logs into the wood stove then brought his bare hands up to his mouth to blow warm air on them as he looked around for some matches. As Jim moved around the room, Spock stood in the doorway still fully dressed in his coat and boots.
“You wanna take your stuff off? It should be warm in here soon,” Jim asked after locating a book of matches and quickly starting a blaze in the wood stove.
“Negative. It would be illogical to remove layers before the temperature has reached an acceptable level.”
“Completely illogical,” Jim said with a laugh, glancing down at his own t-shirt.
Heading for the kitchen, Jim turned back to glance at Spock. “You can stand by the fire if you want. When the temperature's at an acceptable level take off your stuff and come to the kitchen. I'm going to find something for us to eat.”
“Bathroom's at the end of the hall. Sam's room's here.” Jim led Spock into a dark room, flicking on the light as they entered. “There's probably old stuff in the dresser, but you can hang your things in the closet if you want. Make yourself at home.”
The room was dimly lit, the overhead light casting the room in a yellow glow. A few old posters adorned the walls, and the dresser and bookshelf were coated in a thin layer of dust. “Sorry,” Jim said, running his hand over the surfaces in an attempt to wipe it away. “I guess no one comes in here much.”
“There is no need to apologize,” Spock replied as he set his suitcase on the bed and pressed several buttons to unlock it. He took out a few items of clothing and a small black travel bag, laying everything neatly on the bed. Jim watched him unpack for a moment before turning toward the door.
“My room's down there, on the left.” Jim pointed vaguely, and Spock nodded. “If you need anything just let me know.”
“In regards to the morning, is there a specific time I should be awake and ready for our forest hike?”
“Nah,” Jim replied. “We're on holiday, so I'm not setting an alarm. Sleep as long as you want. Get up and ready whenever you want.”
“As a Vulcan, I require less rest than you. It is quite likely I will be awake and ready several hours before you. I hope this will not infringe upon your own rest period.”
Jim laughed. “Nope, I'll just wake up whenever.”
“Have a good sleep,” Jim called behind him as he headed down the hall.
“You as well,” Spock replied, easing the door shut until it clicked.
Spock awoke with a start, his internal clock informing him he'd been asleep for thirty-seven point five minutes. A chill seemed to be seeping through his Starfleet regulation pajamas, and Spock quickly determined that the temperature in the room was dropping, causing his own temperature to slowly decline. In short, he was cold.
Spock shifted in the small bed, pulling the covers up over his ears and moving his feet in an attempt to warm them. When his efforts began to seem fruitless, he finally threw back the covers and sat up in bed. He let out a huff of air and, although he could see nothing in the absolute darkness, in his sleepy state he was convinced it was cold enough to see his breath.
Standing, Spock headed for the door. As he opened it, he determined the hallway felt noticeably warmer than his bedroom. Spock tiptoed quietly down the hallway, hoping the movement would restore feeling to his frozen toes. His pace slowed as he reached Jim's door and, as he turned to head back in the direction he came, the floor board under him creaked. Spock paused, shifted, and attempted to take another step. Another creak echoed through the hall.
“That you?” Jim's voice was rough with sleep as he called out from the darkened room.
Spock was silent for a moment, before realizing he had no other option but to reply. “Affirmative, Jim.”
“What're you doing out there?”
Running his hand across the wall in front of him, Spock flicked a switch and the hallway was bathed in soft yellow light. From his position in the doorway, Spock could see Jim's bed, and Jim in it – a lump buried under several blankets.
“I was attempting to raise my body temperature through physical activity.” Spock said, shifting his feet again and curling his toes against the floor.
“Physical activity? What, like jumping-jacks?”
“I am unfamiliar with the term.”
Muffled laughter emanated from under the blankets. “Never mind, never mind. Are you cold?“
More laughter. “Affirmative. Jesus, Spock, why didn't you just say so? Come on, I've got a double-bed, you can sleep in here.”
“I do not believe that is necessary, Jim.”
“Look,” Jim called out from beneath the blankets,” “I'm warm here, and I'm not getting up to put more wood in the stove. So just come sleep in here and we'll figure things out tomorrow night.”
“That is not--”
“Spock! Just get in here.”
Jolting at Jim's command, Spock flicked the switch to turn off the light and moved carefully in the direction of the bed. He heard Jim shift, and what Spock presumed was Jim drawing back the blankets for Spock to climb in. “Here,” Jim said as Spock slid beneath the covers. He had barely a moment to adjust before Jim tossed them over him, the layers feeling surprisingly heavy and warm.
“Old farmhouse,” Jim explained. “I always had to sleep with a million blankets in the winter.”
“A million?” Spock said quietly.
“Okay, not a million, not literally.” Jim grinned. “You know what I mean.”
Spock attempted to shift under the weight of the blankets. “I am beginning to understand.” He shifted until he was lower in the bed, the blankets nearly covering his head, before he finally settled.
“Warmer now?” Jim's voice seemed louder than it had been a moment before, his own head evidently under the covers as well.
“I am, as you might say, getting there.”
Jim laughed again, kicking his foot out to bump against Spock's and pulling it back with a yelp. “Spock, your feet are freezing!”
“Indeed. That was the reason for my presence in your hallway.”
“I know, but I didn't realize-- never mind.” Jim shook his head before throwing the covers off and jumping out of bed. Spock could hear the sound of a dresser drawer opening, and Jim fumbling in the darkness before the bed sagged as Jim climbed back under the blankets.
“Put these on,” he said, thrusting something soft and scratchy toward Spock. “They're wool.”
Spock unfolded the bundle, pulling two socks apart, before reaching down to put them on his feet.
“Better?” Jim asked.
They were silent for several minutes, and Jim was nearly asleep before Spock spoke again, “when my body temperature has risen to a comfortable level I will return to my room.”
“Nah, you don't have to do that,” Jim mumbled sleepily. “Just stay here.”
“It is unnecess--”
“Spock,” Jim said firmly. “Go to sleep.”
Spock turned on his side, enjoying the feeling of warmth that was beginning to move over his body, and listened as Jim's breathing became more shallow.
“Night, Spock,” Jim mumbled as he drifted off.
When Spock woke the following morning, his gaze shifted around the unfamiliar room. Wallpaper was peeling on one wall, and a shelf on the opposite wall held several model starships. Two bookshelves leaned against the wall at the foot of the bed, their shelves lined with several well-read and dog-eared paper books, a few toy cars and other stray remnants of Jim's childhood, and an outdated photo of a man in a Starfleet uniform. The man's eyes looked very much like Jim's, and Spock easily determined the man was Jim's father, George Kirk.
Upon remembering he was in Jim's bed, Spock turned his head to the left and realized he was alone. He had somehow managed to sleep not only though the night, but longer than Jim. Spock threw the covers off himself and got out of bed, stopping to glance at his sock-covered feet. Reaching down, he pulled the socks off and folded them carefully before placing them next to Jim's duffel bag.
The floor was cold on his feet and he quickly moved from Jim's room back to his own. As he headed for his suitcase, which he had moved to the floor the night before, Spock spotted two clean pairs of rolled-up wool socks sitting on top.
In the kitchen, Jim was busy making breakfast. He was frantically moving between the stove and the toaster as he juggled eggs and bacon and toast, when Spock descended the back staircase.
“Making you some eggs,” Jim said, when he spotted Spock in the doorway. “And toast. And there's fruit on the table.”
Spock took a seat, noting the apples and oranges Jim had cut up and placed in a bowl next to his plate.
“Sorry, nothing fancy,” Jim explained apologetically.
“There is no need to apologize. This is more than acceptable.”
Jim grinned as he moved from one area of the kitchen to the other, pacing in his sock-covered feet. His hair stood on end, obviously sleep-tousled and unbrushed, and he wore dark pajama pants and a faded gray t-shirt. Spock glanced down at his own clothing, almost self-consciously. He was already properly dressed and prepared for the day, his hair combed and falling smooth against his head. “Perhaps I am overdressed for breakfast.”
Jim glanced over at him and laughed. “You're fine. Like I said, we're not on duty here so do whatever you want. You wanna wear your pajamas to breakfast, do it. You want to shower and get dressed first, do it.”
Spock nodded in understanding as Jim approached the table. “Shit,” Jim hissed in frustration. “I should've juiced the oranges instead of cutting them up.”
“Jim, I assure you, everything is fine.” Spock picked up a piece of apple and bit into it. “I am greatly appreciative of your efforts.”
Jim smiled to himself as he spooned eggs onto Spock's plate. “You want some coffee?”
Spock shook his head in response as he swallowed the apple, then poked curiously at the eggs on his plate. “These have an interesting texture.”
Jim let out a barking laugh. “Yeah, it's called real,” he explained, taking a seat across from Spock. “You're used to replicated eggs. Real eggs are fluffier.” Jim jabbed a fork into his eggs, and took a quick bite. “And I know how to cook them without turning them to rubber, so that helps.”
“I was unaware that you were so knowledgeable in the field of cooking,” Spock commented as he took a bite of his own eggs.
“No, no, I'm not,” Jim replied. “But I know how to make a few things. Sam and I were on our own a lot, so I learned the basics.”
Spock nodded thoughtfully as he continued eating his eggs. “Is there an itinerary for today?”
“Just one thing,” Jim replied. “The most important element of our holiday.”
He paused dramatically, causing Spock to raise an eyebrow. “And that is?”
“We're gonna go for a hike in the forest and find ourselves a tree.”
As they trudged up another hill, Spock paused briefly to kick the snow off his boots while Jim walked ahead carrying an ax under his arm.
“You alright back there?” Jim turned to look back at Spock, eying him suspiciously.
Reaching the crest of the last hill, Spock paused again. “Snow on your boots?” Jim asked.
Shaking his head, Spock pointed at a tree standing by itself at the edge of the forest. It had a gap on one side where several branches were missing, and the other side was weighed down with snow. It stood by itself, several feet from any other trees, and shook as the wind blew through it.
“That tree gives off the impression of loneliness.” He stared at it for a moment longer, before turning to glance at Jim who had not responded. Jim was staring back at him with surprise.
“Does it not?”
Jim nodded, “yeah, it really does.” He gave his head a quick shake. “I'm just surprised to hear you say that.”
Spock raised an eyebrow. “My ability to project feelings onto inanimate objects surprises you?”
“Well, yeah.” Jim grinned, walking back to stand beside Spock. “But you do a lot of things that surprise me.”
They stood silently together, staring at the tree, before Spock finally spoke again. “It appears lonely.”
“Yeah, looks almost like a Charlie Brown tree.”
“I am unfamiliar with the reference.”
“It's just an old Earth cartoon. I'll show you sometime.” Jim turned back toward the forest, stepping into his footprints from a moment earlier. “Come on, let's keep looking.”
They traveled deeper into the forest, the trees growing thicker around them, making things seem much darker than a typical early afternoon. The snow was thick, falling silently around them, and quickly covering the tracks they made in the snow. Occasionally, a crack would ring out as one of them stepped on a branch, but otherwise they were surrounded by a calming silence.
“Jim, you appear to have an innate sense of direction,” Spock commented as Jim led them through the forest. “It seems possible that one would become disoriented in this type of environment, without the sun or a compass to lead the way.”
“Yeah,” Jim said, stopping to wait as Spock shook the snow off his boots again. “It helps that I played in here when I was a kid. I recognize a lot of the paths.”
Spock looked at the ground with a hint of surprise. “I was unaware that we were traveling on a set course.”
“We're not really, but I know where I'm going.” Jim grinned at him. “Now, you wanna explain what's going on with your boots?”
Spock glanced down at his feet and then back up at Jim. “There is nothing going on with my boots.”
“Spock, you've been stopping every couple minutes to kick your feet around.” Jim walked back to where Spock stood. “So, what's going on?”
“I have been attempting to remove snow from the inside of my boots. The build-up is making my feet grow increasingly colder as we travel.”
“Spock! You're cold again? Why didn't you just say so?” Jim passed him on the path, heading back in the opposite direction. “Come on, let's go back to the house.”
“That is unnecessary, Jim,” Spock replied, standing his ground on the path. “I do not wish to be a hindrance. We should continue our search for a tree.”
“Spock,” Jim exclaimed in exasperation as he walked back to clasp a hand on Spock's shoulder. “You're not a hindrance. We've got four days to find a tree. If you're too cold, we're going home.” With that, he gave a sharp tug on Spock's jacket, pulling him back in the direction of the house.
“You want some milk or sugar?”
Spock shook his head, blowing on his mug in an attempt to cool the steaming tea. “This is sufficient.”
Jim grabbed his own mug, sloshing hot chocolate on the counter, before heading toward the back staircase. “We can pull down all the decorations from the attic, and then they'll be ready when we bring back the tree.
Spock nodded, following Jim up the stairs. When they reached the second floor, Spock watched with interest as Jim tugged a dangling chain, and a ladder unfolded from the ceiling. After following Jim up the ladder, Spock paused to take in his surroundings.
There was a chill in the air as wind whistled through the rafters and caused the old window panes to rattle. The room was dark, and the ceiling was slanted on all sides, following the slope of the roof. Boxes were stacked high, some tipped over and open with their contents spilling out onto the floor. An old tricycle sat in the far corner, cobwebs covering its handlebars.
“That was mine,” Jim said quietly, as he watched Spock. “Not sure why my mom kept it.”
“I was under the impression that was the purpose of an attic.”
“What, to keep junk?”
“To store things, and also to keep items which hold a degree of sentimental value.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Jim kicked his way through a few cobwebs, and slid several boxes out of the way as he attempted to locate the Christmas decorations.
“I find it to be somewhat intriguing.” Spock said quietly.
“My old tricycle?”
“That,” Spock nodded, continuing to look around the room. “And the room in general. Attics are– were a rare occurrence on Vulcan. Placing sentimental value on inanimate objects, and continuing to possess objects which are no longer useful are considered to be illogical practices.”
“And what do you think?”
Spock lifted the lid of a box and discovered a stack of photos from Jim's childhood. “As I said, I find it intriguing.”
“Found them!” Jim suddenly shouted. He pulled several boxes down from a stack, and slid them along the floor. “Tree stand is back here too.”
“Would you like assistance?”
“Nah, there's not much. Keep looking around if you want.”
Twenty three point six minutes later, they were seated side-by-side on the floor sifting through the box of old photos. Spock held up one of Jim. In it, Jim was grinning as he held up a piece of watermelon, his hair stood on end and he was missing several teeth.
“Yeah..” Jim groaned. “Adorable, right? I was six or something. Family barbecue at my Grandma's house.”
“You appeared to be a happy child.”
“Yeah, I had my moments.” Jim forced out a smile as he drank the last sip of his hot chocolate. Suddenly his hand shot into the box, pulling out a photo of a man holding a very small boy. Jim stared at it thoughtfully for a moment. “That's Sam” he explained, pointing at the boy in the photo. “And my Dad. This was taken right before he left for his last mission.”
Spock listened silently, watching Jim as he examined the photo. Finally Jim glanced up at him. “You cold? Wanna head downstairs?”
“We can leave whenever you are ready.”
“I'm ready,” Jim said, jumping to his feet. “We have to take all these boxes down, and it's freezing up here.”
Spock descended first, and Jim passed the boxes down to him. “Just a sec,” Jim said, after handing Spock the final box and disappearing for a moment. When he reappeared and descended the ladder, Spock spotted the photo sticking out of Jim's back pocket.
Spock was tiptoeing as silently as possible as he moved down the hallway. The wool socks on his feet made silent travel much easier, although they had done very little to keep him warm in Sam's freezing bedroom. He was careful to avoid the creaking floorboards outside Jim's door, and turned on his heel to head back toward his room. On the return trip, he wasn't as lucky, and a soft creak echoed down the hall.
“That you again?”
Spock considered an attempt to return to his room, weighing his chances of making it back down the hall in silence.
Jim laughed. “Get in here.”
Jim shifted in the bed, and Spock followed the sound in the darkness. Jim was once again holding the covers up for him, and Spock slid in quickly before Jim let them fall with a whump. Moving down below the covers, Spock once again allowed himself to enjoy the feeling of warmth that quickly surrounded him.
“You having a good time?” Jim's voice was loud, his own head once again under the blankets as well as they both hid from the cold air of the room.
“A good time?”
“Yeah, here, I mean. The last day and a half.”
“Yes, Jim. I admit I am enjoying myself.”
“Not too boring for you?”
“Negative. I have never experienced an Earth Christmas.”
“Your mom didn't do Christmas on Vulcan?” At Spock's silence, Jim turned apologetic. “Sorry, I mean, if you don't want to talk about it– I shouldn't have brought it up.”
Spock shifted onto his side to face Jim in the darkness. “I do not mind discussing it. My mother made a few attempts to merge her traditions with my father's Vulcan traditions, but was relatively unsuccessful. I have a vague recollection of hanging stockings when I was very small, but that is all. She seemed to give up after that.”
Jim was silent for a moment. “Do you miss her?”
“Yeah, of course you do. Sorry,” Jim shifted in the bed. “I'm just full of stupid questions tonight, apparently.”
“Your questions are not stupid, you are simply inquiring out of interest. I appreciate the gesture.”
Jim let out a weak laugh before stretching out in the bed. “Okay then, tell me about the most hilarious thing you did as a kid.”
“I would argue that Vulcans do not do hilarious things.”
“Most Vulcans don't,” Jim replied, and Spock could hear the grin in his voice. “But you do, so tell me about the most hilarious thing little awkward Spock did as a kid.”
Spock smiled into the darkness, thinking carefully before replying, “Well, I once attacked a childhood bully in a learning pit at the Vulcan Learning Center.”
“Learning pit?” Jim broke into laughter, as Spock continued his story.
As Jim's eyes slowly opened, he yawned and stretched before pulling the covers off his head. Struggling to recall the night before, it suddenly came back to him – Spock wandering the halls again, and then an hour or so of comfortable conversation, and Spock amusing him with stories of his childhood on Vulcan before they both drifted into sleep.
Sitting up slowly, Jim glanced over at the sleeping Vulcan in his bed. Spock's mouth was slightly open, and he was breathing softly. With his usual defenses down Spock appeared very human, and Jim took advantage of the opportunity to watch Spock sleep. After several minutes he finally looked away, easing himself out of the bed and making his way downstairs before Spock woke up.
Spock woke with a start, his internal clock telling him it was almost 11:30. He glanced quickly at Jim's empty spot, realizing Jim had once again woken before him, and jumped out of bed. Standing at the top of the stairs, Spock listened carefully for movement in the kitchen but was met with silence. Figuring Jim had likely eaten already, Spock headed for the shower.
As he made his way downstairs, Spock glanced around the empty kitchen before making his way into the sitting room.
He circled through the rooms on the main floor, noting the roaring fire in the wood stove but the absence of Jim. Finding the house empty, Spock finally checked the front door and realized Jim's boots and coat were gone. He stood at the door for a brief moment, staring out into whiteness, and then turned to head back to the kitchen.
As he placed two sandwiches in a pan, movement outside caught his eye. Glancing out the window, Spock spotted Jim trudging across the snow-covered field. On his back he was carrying a tree.
Spock ran to the door and threw on his boots before heading out onto the front porch. Jim was just walking up from the barn area, when he spotted Spock on the porch. “You'll freeze out here!” He shouted with a grin. “Go back inside!”
“Do you need assistance, Jim?” Spock shouted back.
“Nope,” Jim replied, heaving the tree off his back and dragging it the rest of the way by its trunk. “It's actually lighter than you think.”
Despite Jim's instructions to head back inside, Spock stood on the porch and watched as Jim finally reached the house and brought the tree through the front door. He carried it into the sitting room and stuck it in the tree stand, turning the knobs to keep it from falling over.
“Look familiar?” Jim asked, giving the tree a shake and causing snow to fall to the floor.
Spock eyed the tree for a moment before recognizing the gap on one side. “The Charles Brown tree?”
“Charlie,” Jim laughed. “Yeah, I figured we'd give the lonely guy a home for Christmas.”
“An admirable decision,” Spock replied. “Should we decorate it now?”
Jim shook his head. “Nah, gotta give it a day or so to settle. The snow will melt away and the branches will even themselves out a bit.”
Jim kicked off his boots and stood beside Spock for a moment, both of them admiring the tree.
Suddenly Jim turned to look at Spock with confusion. “Is something burning?”
Spock's eyes grew wide and he ran to the kitchen.
“I apologize for the meal,” Spock said, setting down his half-eaten sandwich and pushing his plate away. “I am not accustomed to cooking, especially not something as foreign as grilled cheese sandwiches.”
“Well, I appreciate the effort,” Jim said, popping the last bite of sandwich into his mouth. “And they were delicious, despite the charred side.”
Spock stood to gather their plates, placing them in the sink. “Since you have already obtained a tree, and we must wait a day to decorate, did you have something else in mind for today's activities?”
“Nothing specific. There's a storm headed our way, so we should probably stick around the house. If we can get you enough layers to wear, we can go outside and have a snowball fight if you'd like.”
“I believe I might enjoy that.”
Jim winked at him. “Just don't throw me in a learning pit if I win.”
As it turned out, Jim didn't win.
After teaching Spock how to form the perfect snowball, he fell prey to Spock's unbeatable attack strategy – waiting for Jim's fake out, and hitting him on the second throw.
Jim fell for it every time.
“You faked out the faker!” Jim shouted with a laugh, when the battle was over, throwing himself on Spock's hastily thrown-together barrier.
He stayed there, upside-down in the snow, staring up at Spock. “So, what'd you think?”
“I must admit, I enjoyed myself.”
“What?” Jim stretched out over the snowbank, throwing his arms up in mock surprise. “So you're admitting you had fun?” Jim grinned up at him.
Spock reached down and picked up a handful of snow, stuffing it in Jim's upside-down face. “Affirmative, Jim.”
Picking up his travel bag, and flicking off the bathroom light, Spock headed for Sam's room. He had just reached the doorway when he heard a muffled shout from Jim's room, “Spock, what do you think you're doing?”
Shuffling down the hallway in his wool socks, Spock stopped outside Jim's bedroom door. “Jim?”
“You aren't seriously going to try sleeping in Sam's room again, are you?”
“I was going to attempt it.”
“Forget it, get in here.”
Spock made his way to the bed to discover Jim had already turned down his side of the covers, anticipating his arrival.
“You do not mind?”
“Spock, you've woken me up the last two nights tiptoeing around in the hallway because you're freezing. This way we just skip that step.”
Spock nodded into the darkness. “I apologize. Your logic is sound.”
“Sorry, I didn't mean it to sound so negative,” Jim said quietly. “I actually don't mind.”
Spock let out a breath he didn't realize he had been holding, and hunkered down under the covers. “So, I believe this evening we should discuss ridiculous things you did as a child.”
“You might regret that,” Jim laughed. “We could be up all night.”
After hearing about a young Jim crashing his bicycle into his mother's rose bushes, stealing his grandmother's undergarments to play capture the flag, and sending his stepfather's car over a cliff, they somehow got onto the subject of motorcycles.
“I had an old one before I joined Starfleet. It didn't hover, but it was smooth riding.”
“And it is no longer in your possession?”
“Nope, but Sam's is probably around. Maybe in the tool shed.” Jim paused. “I almost wish it was summer, so we could go for a ride. You ever been on a bike before?”
“Yes,” Spock replied. “My father had one when I was a child, and he allowed me to accompany him on frequent 'joy' rides.”
“Your dad had a motorcycle?” Jim practically yelled. “Are you shitting me?”
“If you are suggesting I am attempting to delude you into believing a falsehood, I assure you, you are wrong.”
Jim burst out laughing, rolling from side to side in the bed. “Your dad having a motorcycle and going on joy rides? Delude you into believing a falsehood?” Jim was nearly panting as his laughter eased off and he attempted to catch his breath. “Oh god, Spock, do you realize these things are hilarious before you say them? You have to know, right?”
Spock shifted in the bed, turning onto his back and away from Jim. “I am pleased that my anecdotes amuse you.”
“Hey, woah,” Jim grew quiet suddenly, his laughter dying away. “You're not mad are you?”
“Vulcans do not get mad.”
“Jesus, Spock, come on,” Jim turned and reached out in the darkness, his hand clasping onto Spock's shirt sleeve. “I didn't mean to offend you. I just never know what to expect from you, and then you say certain things and it makes me laugh. It's not a bad thing.” Jim's hand slid down Spock's arm pausing at his wrist and giving it a gentle shake. “Don't be mad at me. I just like it.”
“I am not mad,” Spock said firmly, his voice muffled by the blankets.
“Okay then,” Jim said, and Spock easily recognized the grin in his voice. “I'm glad you're not mad, even though you still sound mad.”
“Jim.” Spock warned.
“Spock.” Jim replied in mock-warning.
“I believe we are both over-tired. Perhaps it would be wise if we went to sleep.”
“Okay, just promise to not be mad in the morning.”
“I am not--”
“I know,” Jim said, giving his wrist a gentle squeeze. “I'm just teasing.”
As they fell into silence, Jim's hand remained clasped around Spock's wrist. Spock stared wide-eyed up into the darkness, listening as Jim's breathing grew more shallow as he drifted into sleep. After determining Jim was asleep, Spock turned to face him once again and clasped his opposite hand on Jim's own wrist. Then, with Jim's breath falling softly across his face, Spock fell asleep.
“You wanna decorate a Christmas tree today?”
Spock opened one eye to see Jim looking down at him curiously. He ignored his internal clock in favor of glancing at the digital clock on the nightstand. “You are waking me at 09:00 hours to ask me to decorate a tree?”
“Sorry,” Jim said sheepishly. “I just saw it downstairs and got kind of excited. I can let you sleep.”
“I am awake now,” Spock replied, attempting to sit up in bed as Jim hovered excitedly beside him.
“You wanna shower first?”
Spock glanced down at his regulation pajamas and over at Jim's own t-shirt and flannel pants. Jim's hair was flattened at the back and standing straight up on one side, and Spock assumed his own hair was in a similar state.
“Negative,” he replied, and Jim gave him a surprised grin. “I will decorate the tree in my pajamas, if that is acceptable.”
“Whatever you want!” Jim exclaimed as he headed for the door. “I made pancakes and hot chocolate, and tea for you. Come downstairs.” Jim went thundering down the stairs, and Spock followed quickly behind.
Spock helped Jim string the lights, passing the strand back and forth behind the tree after wrapping it around the front. “My mom always put up white lights,” Jim explained, “but I always wanted colored ones. So we're doing colored lights this year.”
Spock nodded, admiring the glow of the greens and reds and blues and yellows.
After the lights were strung in a relatively even manner, Jim dragged several boxes closer to the tree. “Ornaments,” he said, pointing to each box. “A lot of these have been around since I was kid. We got one in our stocking every year.”
“There's probably supposed to be some order to this, but I usually just pick the ones I like and put them where I want.” Jim reached into a box and pulled out a ratty looking Santa Claus. “Drove my mom crazy. She'd let me help, and then she'd always rearrange it after I went to bed.”
Jim hung the ratty Santa on the left side, and then pointed to the boxes again. “Help yourself. If you want it up there, put it up there.”
Spock examined the boxes, before pulling out a fuzzy pipe cleaner candy cane.
Jim grinned. “I made that. I think I was four.”
The corner of Spock's mouth rose with the hint of a smile as he placed the candy cane in the center of the tree.
As they continued decorating, Jim paused frequently to explain the origins of various decorations from his childhood, and Spock gave each one a position of prominence. Upon finding a box of Sam's decorations, Jim took the time to place each one on the tree.
When they were nearly finished, Jim pulled a large white angel from a box. “Damn it,” he said under his breath.
“Have you encountered e a problem?”
“Nah,” Jim replied. “Just the stupid tree-topper. I completely forgot.”
“Is it broken?”
“No.” Jim turned the topper over in his hands before continuing. “My mom always put an angel on the top of the tree, but I always wanted a star.”
“Perhaps the angel had special significance for her,” Spock suggested.
“Nah, I don't think so. She got a new one every couple years, so it's not like she was attached to them.”
“We don't need a tree topper this year.” Jim tossed the angel back into the box. “The tree looks awesome anyway.”
Spock joined him at his side, and they both stood back to admire the tree. The colorful lights twinkled around the mismatched decorations. Jim had even thrown some tinsel on the tree in an attempt to cover a few holes where branches were missing.
“It actually looks really good. You can hardly see the gap now.”
“Affirmative,” Spock nodded. “It is quite aesthetically pleasing.”
Jim glanced over at the clock. “Damn, it's almost one. You want some lunch?”
“Yes, that would be acceptable.”
The storm finally hit mid-afternoon. The wind whistled outside as the snow whipped around the house.
“It can no longer see the barn from this distance,” Spock observed as he looked out the sitting room window.
“Yeah, when I was younger it'd sometimes get so bad that we couldn't see the car from the front door.”
Jim joined Spock at the window, leaning his head against the cold pane and creating a circle of condensation with his breath against the glass. Jim traced his finger through it. “Ha,” he said to himself. “I used to do this too. Scribbled stuff I liked on here. Drove my mom crazy when I mucked up her windows.”
Spock watched Jim for a moment before blowing a huff of air on a separate pane.
“Should I write something?”
“Yeah, go ahead!”
Spock hesitated. “I unsure as to what I should write.”
“Write whatever you want. Something you like, something that makes you happy, whatever you're thinking about right now.”
Spock considered the area for a moment before he raised his hand and began to slowly trace an equation through the condensation.
“Euler's Identity?” Jim asked after watching him for a moment.
Jim smirked at him.
“Euler's Identity ties together the fundamental elements in math,” Spock explained. “It includes four very important numbers, pi, e, 1, and 0, the imaginary number i, and all of the important mathematical operations of addition, multiplication, exponentiation, and equality. It is an equation of unity and perfection.”
Jim laughed at him as their eyes met. “Why am I'm not surprised you love that one.”
“Indeed,” Spock replied, suppressing a smile as he turned back to the window.
For a few minutes, Spock grew distracted, tracing each symbol perfectly in the window pane. Finally glancing up from his equation, and realizing Jim had wandered off, Spock's eyes moved to read Jim's writing on the window.
Spock examined it for a moment before noticing a small heart scribbled in the top right corner.
Glancing toward the kitchen, Spock heard the clatter of pots as Jim began preparing for dinner.
Walking into his bedroom, Jim was pleased to find Spock already buried under the covers.
“Glad to see you came to your senses,” he said teasingly, as he switched the light off. “I don't know how Sam slept in that room all those years anyway.”
Climbing under the sheets, Jim shifted until he was low enough that the blankets covered his ears. “You under here?”
“Affirmative,” came Spock's muffled reply.
They were quiet for a significantly longer period than previous nights, until Jim finally broke the silence. “So, how'd you like your first tree decorating?”
“At the risk of repeating myself, it was quite enjoyable. Much more so than I was expecting.”
“You like the lights?” Jim cringed inwardly as his awkward questioning continued.
“They are colorful and quite pleasing to the eye, yes.”
“Good, good.” Jim fell silent, waiting for Spock to continue the conversation.
“May I..” Spock paused. “May I move closer to you?”
“Sure,” Jim sputtered. “Sure, yeah, of course.”
Spock shifted closer, but then seemed to hesitate and stop completely.
“You wanna come closer?” Jim asked cautiously.
“Yes.” Spock's voice seemed to waver a bit and he shifted even closer, until his breath was warm on Jim's face.
“This is kinda nice,” Jim said quietly after a few minutes had passed.
Silence fell between them until Spock finally moved, his arm shifting in the darkness as if he was reaching out for something. Jim waited, but felt nothing, and Spock's movement stopped.
“Did you wanna--” Jim paused, unsure what exactly he was asking.
“I mean, were you gonna do something?”
“I do not--”
“Because if you were,” Jim said quickly, “it's okay.”
Spock's seemed to consider the statement for a moment, before his hand moved under the blankets and curved experimentally over Jim's. Carefully, Jim turned his hand and curled his fingers around Spock's, and Spock let out a stuttering breath as if the motion took him by surprise. “Jim..”
“Yeah, hey, I'm here.” Leaning forward, Jim paused for a brief second before brushing his lips against Spock's. “This okay?”
“Yes,” Spock whispered.
Jim kissed Spock again, slightly more forcefully, attempting to encourage Spock to kiss back. As Jim's tongue jutted out to taste Spock's mouth, he finally kissed back, letting out a soft moan into Jim's mouth as their tongues circled each other.
“Jim,” Spock whispered against Jim's mouth, moving his lips over Jim's before trailing them down his jaw and neck. He repeated Jim's name as he flicked his tongue against Jim's collarbone before sucking at the tender skin there.
Jim shifted, moving even closer, and pulled Spock against him. As they pressed together, Jim could feel an unmistakable hardness against his leg, and in return he slowly thrust his own half-hard cock against Spock. At the motion, Spock seemed to tense and ease off. His lips slowly trailed back up Jim's neck, giving him a soft kiss on the lips before pulling away completely.
Jim shifted onto his back, unsure how to respond as he felt Spock shiver next to him. “Hey, you alright?”
“Affirmative,” Spock replied. “However, I think it best that I go to sleep.”
“I–“ Jim began. “It's okay, you know.”
“Jim,” Spock said almost pleadingly. “I do not– I must rest.”
“Okay,” Jim reluctantly moved away, but kept his fingers clasped around Spock's. “Can we keep doing this?”
“That would be acceptable.”
Jim gripped Spock's hand, not wanting to let go until he fell asleep, and when Jim woke the next morning he realized he was still holding Spock's hand tightly in his own.
When Spock woke up in Jim's bed, he replayed the previous night over in his head. Despite the brief loss of emotional control, he noted that he was not experiencing guilt or remorse. The only underlying emotion he detected was a mild sense of embarrassment at having stopped their interaction.
As he left the room and headed down the hall, he spotted Jim in the bathroom. Jim stood in front of the mirror, the collar of his shirt pulled down as his fingers prodded a dark purple mark by his collarbone. Realizing he was being watched, Jim glanced up sheepishly and pulled the fabric of his shirt back over the purple mark.
“Storm let up,” he said. “I was gonna go into town. Get some food for Christmas dinner tomorrow.”
“Would you like me to accompany you?”
“Nah, I have a few things I need to get.” Jim winked at him. “Secret Christmas stuff.”
“You want some breakfast before I go?”
Spock nodded again, feeling somewhat ridiculous at his inability to respond in a proper manner.
“I'll make us something then. Wouldn't want to leave you to cook for yourself,” Jim said, winking again. “You might burn the place down.”
Spock followed Jim downstairs, feeling relieved that Jim's behavior did not seem different than it had the previous day, and remaining quiet as Jim listed their options for breakfast.
The bells above the door jingled as Jim entered the old store. It'd been over a decade since he'd set foot inside, but the place looked exactly the same. Jim kept his head lowered as he made his way through the small aisles, hoping no one would recognize him.
Pausing in front of a glass display cabinet, he leaned down to examine the sugary treats inside – real homemade fudge, saltwater taffy, hand-spun candy ribbon, and stacks of Christmas goodies.
Spotting the white chocolate, Jim glanced above the counter, hoping someone would assist him. As his eyes traveled upward he found himself staring directly into the eyes of older woman who was staring back at him with curiosity.
“Well, doesn't this beat all” she said, as she made her way toward Jim. “If it isn't little Jimmy Kirk.”
Coming out from around the counter, she came right up to stand beside Jim and laughed when she realized how short she was in comparison. “You've sure grown since I saw you last!”
“Mrs. Miller, it's nice to see you.”
“Sure is nice to see you too. What brings you to town, Jimmy?”
Jim spent the next hour filling the older woman in on his latest adventures as she helped him pick out several Vulcan-friendly treats.
“You'll have to bring in your Vulcan friend someday soon,” Mrs. Miller said, tying a ribbon on the gift bag she had prepared and handing it to Jim. “I've met a lot of interesting folk in my day, but never a Vulcan.”
Jim smiled. “I'll do my best,” he replied, holding up the gift bag. “You never know, if he likes these treats we might have to stop by and stock up before we head back into the black.
“I'd love that,” she said as as she led him to the door, the bells above him jingling as he pushed it open. “Oh, and Jimmy, be sure to say hello to your mother for me. She sure had a tough go of it after your father died.”
Jim nodded. “I will.”
He headed down the street, feeling very warm, and paused when something in a window caught his eye.
By the time he'd finished his shopping, the sky was growing dark and Christmas lights twinkled along the snowy streets. Jim carried his purchases back to the rental car and headed toward home.
“You made dinner?” Jim grinned when he entered the house as strange but delicious-smelling scents hitting him.
“Affirmative,” Spock called from the kitchen.
Jim followed the sound of Spock's voice and discovered two place settings at the kitchen table. The counter was covered in pots and pans and what appeared to be a layer of flour, and Spock stood in the center of it all looking slightly disheveled but pleased with himself.
“Trying to prove me wrong?” Jim laughed as he took a seat. “I didn't really think you'd burn the house down, you know.”
“I had assumed as much,” Spock replied as he spooned some sort of liquid into Jim's bowl.
“Smells good,” Jim said. “What is it?”
“It is an altered version of ulan soup. I was forced to make substitutions as I did not have access to several of the ingredients, but you will find the flavor to be quite similar.” Spock took a seat next to Jim and watched patiently as Jim lifted his spoon and cautiously blew.
“Never had ulan soup,” Jim said, taking a small taste. He shoved his spoon back into the bowl and ate several more spoonfuls. “But I like it.”
Spock sat beside him, his body turned toward Jim, and watched with fascination as Jim continued to eat. Finally Jim realized he was being watched, and turned to look at Spock.
“Hey,” he said gently, raising another spoonful to his mouth.
“Hello,” Spock replied.
“I believe so, yes.”
“I'm glad.” Jim spooned more soup into his mouth. “You wanna hang stockings tonight?”
“I do not believe there were stockings in the boxes we found.”
“I know, so I bought some today.”
Spock looked down at the floor, suppressing a smile as he recalled his only childhood memory of Christmas with his mother. “Thank you, Jim. I would enjoy that.”
Just before bed, they hung the stockings side-by-side, and Jim waited until Spock had disappeared upstairs before he slipped the bag of treats and another gift into Spock's stocking. Smiling to himself, he slipped a few candy canes into his own and headed upstairs.
Jim listened as Spock brushed his teeth, the water turning on and off in the old-fashioned taps. Finally the bathroom light clicked off and he could hear the soft pad of wool socks as Spock moved down the hall. When Spock entered the room, he moved easily in the darkness, making his way toward the bed and climbing under the blankets.
“You cold?” Jim asked out of habit.
“Negative. It is always warm here with you.”
Although Spock was lying at the very edge of the bed his hand moved toward Jim, searching for Jim's own hand and sighing contentedly when their fingers were finally entwined. As Jim's thumb stroked the side of Spock's hand, Spock shivered. “Jim,” he said, and Jim was unsure if it was a plea or a warning.
“Hey, come here.” Jim pulled Spock closer, turning toward him and shifting so Spock was underneath him. He leaned close, his mouth inches from Spock's. “Hey.”
He stared at Spock in the darkness, unable to see a thing but somehow sure there was a nervous look on Spock's face.
“We don't have to do anything,” he said quietly, “I just want to be close to you.
Spock raised his head slightly, pressing his lips against Jim's for a moment, and Jim let out a sigh.
“I like you,” he whispered, breaking against Spock's mouth. “You drive me crazy and you make me laugh and I like to tease you and god, you taste good. I thought you might and I wanted to know and now I know and fuck, you're amazing.”
Spock was silent, and Jim pulled back. “Shit, I'm sorry. It's just, being with you turns me into a rambling idiot.”
“You are not an idiot,” Spock said quietly, pulling Jim back toward him and kissing him again. “And, I must admit, I enjoy your rambling.”
As he spoke, his fingers slipped up under Jim's shirt. “You both intrigue and frustrate me, more so than any human I have ever encountered.” He pulled Jim closer, grinding up against him almost shyly. The thin fabric of his regulation pajama pants hid nothing as he pressed his hard length against Jim. “I desire you, and it is an eye-opening realization. I am unsure how to deal with it.”
Jim was quiet, unable to form a coherent thought as he ground his hips down into Spock's, his own cock pushing painfully against the inside of his flannel pajama bottoms. “God, Spock,” he panted, his mouth open against Spock's as he spoke. “I want you too. Have for a long time.”
Spock's fingers twisted in Jim's shirt as they rubbed against each other, until Jim finally reached down to yank the fabric up over his head. Then suddenly Jim was talking, seemingly unable to stop himself. “That mark on my collarbone, fuck, it drove me crazy all day thinking about it. That you could do that. And I wanted you to do it again. I was scared you might not.”
As Jim spoke, Spock's mouth moved over his body, licking and nipping at his jaw, down his neck, over the mark on his collarbone, and settling on his nipples. He stroked each one with his tongue, causing Jim's head to loll back as he continued talking. “Ahh, fuck, Spock. I'm glad you're here. I wanted you here. Like this.”
Jim reached down to tug at Spock's shirt, and they paused just long enough for Spock to remove it. Then Jim fell silent as his mouth moved over Spock, kissing him, licking at his throat and down across his chest.
“Jim,” Spock warned, his fingers falling from Jim's hips to his backside. He gripped Jim's ass, bruising the skin there as he pulled Jim harder against him as he continued to thrust up.
“Yeah,” Jim panted encouragingly. “Do it, it's okay.”
“Jim,” Spock said again, pleading this time, his face curling into the space between Jim's neck and shoulder.
“Spock, it's alright,” Jim said, panting against Spock's ear and thrusting against him harder, his hands wrapped around Spock's shoulders. “I'm going to, too. Just go.”
A shuddering breath escaped Spock's lungs then, as he suddenly stilled, holding Jim hard against himself. His cock pulsed once, twice, and warmth flowed between them as Spock ejaculated against the thin fabric.
“Amazing,” Jim whispered against Spock's hair. “You're amazing.” Spock's grip eased as Jim began thrusting against him again. “Tighter,” Jim panted. Spock's fingers clenched around Jim's ass, holding him almost in place and thrusting up against him hard.
“Ahh,” Jim panted. “Yeah, Spock, there. There.” He let out a laugh as his cock pulsed and spurted, spilling into his pajama bottoms, and he let Spock continue thrusting up against him until the stimulation was almost too much. “Done,” he whispered, grinning against Spock's ear as Spock stopped moving and allowed Jim to slump against him.
They remained silent for several minutes as their breathing returned to normal, and when Spock began wriggling uncomfortably Jim forced them both to get up out of bed. “Take those off,” he said, switching on the bedside lamp.
Spock quickly removed his damp pajama bottoms and stood shivering in the chilly room until Jim tossed him a fresh pair. “Put these on.”
Jim dropped his own pants, kicking them into a corner of the room, and pulled on another pair before quickly jumping back into bed and flicking off the light. Spock joined him under the blankets, both of them shifting until they were both hunkered-down again and their hands reached out for each other.
“You still alright?”
Spock squeezed his hand reassuringly. “I am, Jim.”
Jim returned the squeeze, grinning to himself as he enjoyed the warm darkness, with Spock beside him, and the blankets smelling like sex.
“Jim,” Spock whispered. “Are you awake?”
“Hrrrmph?” Jim's face was half-covered with blankets as he opened his eyes and squinted up at Spock.
“It is Christmas morning.”
Jim suddenly jolted, sitting upright in bed. His hair was sticking in all directions and he raised a hand to his head in an attempt to mash it down. He stared up at Spock, who seemed surprisingly excited, and gave him a goofy grin. “Let's go see what Santa brought!”
He hopped out of bed, threw on a shirt, and went thundering down the stairs with Spock close on his tail. As they rounded the corner Jim was almost taken aback to see a large present sitting under the tree.
“I was actually just joking about Santa,” he laughed, approaching the tree suspiciously. “What is that?”
“It appears to be a gift.”
Jim glanced back at Spock, who seemed almost nervous. He was shifting slowly from one foot to the other, and his eyebrows were lost in his hairline as he stared expectantly back at Jim.
“Is it for me?”
“Yes,” Spock replied. “Open it.”
Jim grinned, kneeling in front of the box. The wrapping paper was crooked, and the tag said simply JIM. WITH REGARDS, SPOCK. but Jim stared at it as if it was the greatest thing he'd ever received. “You really got me a present?”
“Jim” Spock was beginning to sound exasperated. “Open it.”
Jim carefully peeled off the gift tag and set it on the floor before he tore into the wrapping paper. Inside was a plain cardboard box. Lifting the flaps, he saw wads of crumpled newspaper, and then in one corner something shined as light reflected off it. Jim reached in and grabbed the shiny object, giving a tug, and discovered it was a tin star.
He stared at it for a moment, turning it over in his hands. The edges and angles were perfect, obviously precisely measured and cut.
“Did you make this?”
“Affirmative,” Spock replied almost shyly.
“Yesterday, when you were away. I was able to locate the necessary scraps and tools in the shed.”
Jim turned to him with a smile, “Spock, you made this for me?”
“Yes. Do you know what it is?”
Jim turned it over in his hands again, and it suddenly hit him. “For our tree?”
Spock nodded. “Is it sufficient?”
Jim blinked, “yeah, it's more than sufficient.” He rose to his feet, holding the star in one hand and reaching for Spock with the other. Grabbing the back of Spock's head, Jim pulled him in for a kiss. “It's perfect,” he said as he smiled against Spock's mouth.
Stepping away, Jim stared down at the star for another moment before a feeling of dread hit him. “Aw, Spock, now I feel like a jerk.”
“Jim,” Spock began. “I do not require a gift.”
“No,” Jim explained. “I got you something, but it's nothing as nice as this.”
Spock raised an eyebrow, obviously surprised that Jim had thought to give him a gift. “I will appreciate any gift you choose to give me.”
Jim shook his head as he made his way over to their stockings. “I put all your stuff in here last night. But now it just seems lame.”
Spock picked up his stocking, before looking at Jim. “May I?”
“Of course, yeah,” Jim replied. “I got it for you.”
Spock headed to the nearest chair, and took a seat, while Jim settled on the armrest. Reaching inside the stocking, Spock pulled out a small wrapped gift. Balancing it in the crook of his arm, he reached in again and pulled out the gift bag of treats. Holding it up, Spock examined the contents inside.
“Candy,” Jim explained. “From this local place I loved when I was a kid. I know you don't eat chocolate, so I got you some white chocolate instead. And taffy and other sugary stuff.”
“Thank you,” Spock replied. “It is a thoughtful gesture.”
Jim reached suddenly for the other gift balanced on Spock's arm. “And that one we can just forget about.”
Spock moved his arm, causing the gift to fall away from Jim's grasp. “I would like to open it.”
Jim closed his eyes and brought the palm of his hand up to rub against his forehead. “If you really want to,” he muttered.
Spock waited until Jim opened his eyes, and then slowly ripped the paper off one end of the gift. He turned it, glancing inside, before tilting it and allowing the contents to fall into his lap.
Out tumbled several pairs of wool socks, in various colors.
“Socks,” Spock said, as the edges of his mouth seemed to curl into a smile.
“Sorry,” Jim replied. “It's stupid. I just thought you're always cold here, and you've been wearing mine all week, and this way next time you come here..” Jim's voice trailed off.
“Jim,” Spock said, taking his hand. “I am grateful to receive a gift from you. I am..” Spock paused for a moment to consider his wording. “I am touched that you thought of me and were imaging another holiday here together.”
Jim grinned at him. “So you're saying you love your stupid socks.”
Spock smirked back. “That is what I am attempting to convey."
Giving Spock's hand a tug, Jim pulled him to his feet as the socks tumbled to the floor. “Come on, let's put the star on the tree.”
Spock followed him over to the tree, watching as Jim reached up to place the star at the very top.
As they stepped back to admire it, Jim's arm slipped around Spock's waist.
“Merry Christmas, Spock.”
Spock turned, pulling Jim closer and giving him a soft kiss. “Merry Christmas, Jim.”