DISCLAIMER: For lo, the
Deity Paramount doth own these characters; I
do but frolic briefly with them in their playground.
Spock looked away from the screen of his viewer for the third
time in an hour, again distracted by Kirk's activities, even though
the Human was doing his best to be quiet. Contrary to Spock's
expressed preferences for a private room, he had been assigned a room-
mate when he arrived at Starfleet Academy 2.73 months ago, sent to
share the dormitory room of a Human named James Tiberius Kirk--and
Spock had to admit that, to date, Cadet Kirk had probably been the
most ideal room-mate he could have hoped for, now that he had been
forced to endure having one.
Kirk was quiet and studious; though he had many friends,
including some of the opposite sex, he was respectful enough of
Spock's privacy not to invite any of them to his room without
consulting the Vulcan first. Also, although he enjoyed various forms
of recreation, he was not given to the excessive bouts of drinking,
casual sex and other illogical activities that Spock had seen other
Humans engaging (or talking about engaging) in. And most of all,
Kirk actually seemed to find *his* company pleasant, always striving
to include Spock in his plans (even when Spock didn't necessarily
*want* to be) instead of avoiding him or gossiping about him when he
thought the Vulcan wouldn't hear, as almost everyone else did.
One result of this open, eager friendliness, however, was that
Kirk was forever trying to involve him in activities that conflicted
with his Vulcan upbringing. Sometimes, to his everlasting shame,
Spock had allowed himself to give in if they were alone, since
Kirk's respectful and compassionate treatment of him had earned his
trust--but now they had come to a line which Spock could not cross, a
line that may as well have been the width of an abyss for the degree
of separation it put between himself and Kirk. They were on Earth--
for Spock, wanting to get the best possible view of the inner
workings of Starfleet Command, had chosen to attend the main branch
of Starfleet Academy, adjacent to Starfleet Central Headquarters in
San Francisco--and it was roughly mid-December; Kirk was packing to
go home for Christmas vacation.
Spock watched in silence as Kirk moved quietly around the room,
gathering up items to put in his travel bag. Realizing that Spock
was again watching him, Kirk paused as he reached the bed with his
current load, turned to the Vulcan, and again asked what he had
already asked twice before: "Are you *sure* you don't want to come
with me, Spock? There's still time for you to get packed if you want
to change your mind."
"As I have already endeavored to explain to you, Mr. Kirk,
Vulcans do not recognize emotion-laden Terran holidays such as
Christmas," Spock reiterated patiently. "Besides...I do know enough
of such 'celebrations' to be aware that they are meant as family
Kirk took a few steps toward him as Spock carefully returned his
eyes to his viewer. "And *I* told *you*, Spock--you'd be welcome.
I've mentioned you to Mom. She wants to meet you," he tried to
assure Spock. "Besides...I'd miss you."
The unspoken truth that Spock was as aware of as Kirk was that
Kirk was afraid to leave his half-Vulcan room-mate alone for three
weeks. The Academy's Commanding Officer had assigned Spock to his
room for psychological reasons, in the hope that the more extroverted
Kirk would draw out the shy, reserved Vulcan and help Spock with his
social skills, which were still poor, by Starfleet/Human standards;
Kirk's efforts were continually hampered by Spock being the only
Vulcan at Starfleet Academy, and all the difficulties that that
There were other offworlders there, of course, but none of them
were half-Human--which somehow seemed to make it worse instead of
better. Spock had struggled to keep that part of himself suppressed,
but somehow the other cadets had found out about its existence--he
knew only that (aside from the necessary facts provided for his
Personnel records) *he* had only revealed the truth about his hybrid
heritage to Kirk, who, he was sure, had kept his secret. Kirk had
been privy to at least some of the resulting teasing and insults; he
had heard the taunts of "cold-blooded freak" and "go back to Vulcan",
which seemed to be the most popular among those who could not keep
their prejudices to themselves.
And Kirk ached for him, certain that somewhere beneath the
seemingly impassive facade of logic, Spock was hurting and lonely,
thinking that he had no choice but to suppress and ignore the
emotions. He had by now come to know just enough about Vulcans in
general and Spock in particular to be unconvinced that being here
alone for three weeks at a time when most cadets would be spending
the holiday with their families would be as beneficial as Spock
Though Spock did not dare allow himself to consider the question
of whether or not *he* would "miss" *Kirk* (the answer threatened
only to confuse him further), he could not help feeling an upsurge of
gratitude for the obvious sincerity of the Human's emotions as he
allowed some awareness of them to filter through his mental shields.
His manner softened somewhat as she responded. "I assure you, there
is no cause for concern. I intend to keep myself quite fully
occupied with my studies--I shall be several assignments ahead of you
in xenobiology by the time you return."
It was one of the few classes they shared, since most of
Spock's were more advanced; that they had *any* of the same classes
was only possible because Kirk was two years ahead of him. "As if
you aren't *already* wiping up the floor with me," he retorted dryly,
turning back to his bag and resuming his packing.
Spock directed a raised eyebrow at the Human, paying more
attention to the disappointment apparent in Kirk's manner than to his
puzzling wording. The more time he spent with Kirk, the more Spock
regretted refusing him *anything*. He asked so little, and he
gave...more than Spock knew how to accept. And Kirk always seemed so
crestfallen in the wake of Spock's refusal that, even with his mental
shields at full strength, the Vulcan was physically
uncomfortable. "But it is you who excel in our officer training
courses," he pointed out helpfully.
Kirk shrugged it off, not looking at him. "That's one of your
only first-year courses--and *my* only advanced one," he countered.
"Nonetheless...my instructor says I 'seem to have trouble with
leadership roles'." Spock did not mention his misgivings about
having this much difficulty with an introductory-level leadership
course, but he could not help wondering how he could ever cope with
the more advanced command-level courses that Kirk had already passed.
Kirk turned back to him finally, aware of his concern. "Don't
worry--you'll get it. It just takes time," he consoled Spock,
indicating the bag. "That's it, except for the stuff from the
bathroom--and I'll put that in tomorrow morning before I leave," he
announced, then. "For now, I better get to bed; it's a long way to
Iowa, and my shuttle leaves at 0800. You going to stay up and study
Spock thought about it and realized he would have plenty of time
to study after Kirk was gone. "No, I suppose I may as well go to
bed, too," he decided.
Kirk nodded approvingly as he moved his bag off his bed and
began to change into his pajamas, pausing as he did so to glance
sidelong at Spock. "Will you at least come with me to the
shuttleport and see me off?" he requested hopefully.
"I do not understand what purpose it would serve, but...if you
wish," Spock acceded hesitantly, not wanting to refuse Kirk again
when it wasn't necessary, as he likewise began getting ready for bed.
When they were each in
their beds and the lights were off, Kirk
belatedly spoke again: "Promise me you'll get out, go for walks and
things--I don't want you spending the whole three weeks shut up in
this room. You can't have *that* much studying to do."
Spock was reluctant to make a commitment that he might not be
able to keep. While the Academy grounds were quite attractive and he
would have liked to examine them at more length than he was usually
able to, he seldom went out unnecessarily unless Kirk was with him;
such "walks" otherwise tended to lead to trouble, since he was far
too easy a target for verbal abuse from other cadets when alone and
out in the open.
He might *appear* invulnerable to them, but he was not
masochistic enough to be willing to again endure what he had become
far too accustomed to on Vulcan--not unless he was accompanied by
Kirk, whose presence seemed the only thing so far that consistently
diverted his attention enough for him to ignore their taunts. Why
this was so, Spock was not certain. "Except to eat, I have little
reason to go anywhere else," he pointed out quietly.
It was possible, Spock realized, that the Human might spend
*his* three-week holiday worrying illogically about his Vulcan room-
mate if he did not give his word, and Spock did not want to be
responsible for *that*. Kirk, at least, should be able to celebrate
the holiday in the customary manner--and after all, Spock would not
wish his level of isolation and loneliness on anyone, least of all
this man who seemed to be trying so hard to be a friend to
him. "Very well...I promise," he gave in, finally.
"Good." Kirk paused. "I wish your mother could come to visit."
Spock knew that Kirk did not understand his room-mate's
shattered relationship with Sarek, or why being in Starfleet should
be such a source of shame to the Vulcan's father--Spock had not told
him enough about it for it to be *possible* for Kirk to understand;
he knew only that Sarek had, for some vaguely-related reason, broken
off all contact with Spock and refused to let his mother do more than
write to him. "So does she," Spock responded faintly, keeping his
voice carefully controlled.
//And so do I,// he thought regretfully. Amanda always came
back to Earth to visit relatives at Christmas, anyway, and it seemed
unfortunate--for both of them--that she could not also visit Spock.
She still loved him, he knew--and unlike Sarek, she still accepted
him as her son. A part of him frequently longed for her affection
and gentle Human wisdom..."Mr. Kirk..."
"For the thousandth time, will you *please* call me 'Jim'?"
"Jim," Spock repeated uncertainly--it still seemed presumptuous
to address Kirk so informally. "Would you really...'miss' me?" The
idea that Kirk would even *think* about him while celebrating
Christmas with his family seemed simultaneously unlikely, intriguing,
and unsettling. He had no interest in sharing Kirk's Christmas, but
the increasing evidence that Kirk wanted him to inspired other, more
disturbing emotions in Spock.
"Of course, I would. We're friends--I'd much rather us be
*together* for Christmas," Kirk answered matter-of-factly.
Spock was silent for so long after that that Kirk assumed he had
gone to sleep. "Thank you," Spock said softly, at last.
"For inviting me to go with you. Even though I cannot accept, I
appreciate the offer. I am not accustomed--" Spock struggled to
reinforce his emotional controls, succeeding finally in time to stop
himself from revealing any more. "--to receiving such invitations,"
he finished awkwardly.
"You're welcome," Kirk returned, not knowing what else to say.
"Good night, Mr. Kirk," Spock sighed, at last.
"Good night, Spock," Kirk yawned, in response.
The next morning, Spock accompanied Kirk to Starfleet Central's
shuttleport, in accordance with the latter's request. Their good-byes
were short and awkward; Kirk was accustomed to emotionally
demonstrative greetings and partings, and the Human part of Spock
yearned to oblige him with a brief hug, but they both knew that his
rigid Vulcan training in emotional control would not permit such
openness--especially not in the public setting of a shuttleport
passenger lounge. Which left them both wondering what gestures, if
any, would be appropriate, since simply saying good-bye and going
their separate ways seemed impolite (even to Spock).
Eventually, Kirk--still looking disappointed--offered his hand
to Spock, something he had not done since the day they met. In fact,
since learning how much Vulcans disliked physical contact (because of
the unwanted heightened awareness it gave them of the other person's
thoughts and emotions), he had done his best not to touch Spock at
all unless he was certain the latter was sufficiently prepared to
accept it. He looked at Spock entreatingly, praying silently that
the Vulcan would permit it now, rather than reject him again.
Spock took the hand cautiously, reinforcing his mental shields
against the hurt and unhappiness he knew would flood into him from
Kirk's mind. He squeezed Kirk's hand slightly as they exchanged
good-byes, thinking to himself that these were *not* the sort of
emotions that his mother had taught him to associate with
Christmas. "I believe the correct expression is 'Merry Christmas',
Mr. Kirk. No doubt your family is anxious to see you," he offered
"Thanks, but I don't *feel* that 'merry' right now," Kirk
responded resignedly. "My mother and brother will be there, all
right, and maybe a few others, but...somebody's going to be missing."
For a moment, the expression in Spock's dark eyes clearly
indicated that he would be no happier here alone, but then he quickly
lowered them, hoping Kirk had not seen the emotion he knew they must
be revealing. "Perhaps the time will pass quickly," he suggested
//For me, maybe. But what about you?// Kirk thought doubtfully.
Spock sensed the thought with unsettling clarity and realized
that he was still holding Spock's hand; he let go immediately.
Kirk shook his head sadly, wondering where and from whom Spock
had learned this fear of being cared for and worried about. It
didn't seem likely that it could only be what Spock described as "the
Vulcan way", though that might account for his apparent fear of
reciprocating. Someday, he would have to get Spock to discuss it...
if his room-mate ever allowed him close enough emotionally to trust
him that much, which for now seemed highly unlikely. "Well, the
shuttle won't wait much longer. I'll see you in three weeks," he
concluded, turning finally to go.
Spock watched him go through the windows until Kirk had actually
boarded the shuttle and could no longer be seen, then he turned and
headed resignedly back to his dorm room.
Spock soon discovered
that as long as he kept himself busy with
his studies and did not allow his mind to wander to thoughts of Kirk,
he hardly noticed the Human's absence. But at other times, on the
infrequent but inevitable occasions when he had to think of something
else, the emptiness of the room penetrated his concentration, making
him increasingly uncomfortable. He found himself periodically
glancing over at Kirk's empty bed, which he had made up after
returning from the shuttleport, and wondering what Kirk would say to
him if he were watching the Vulcan now. Was this what it meant
to "miss" someone, in the context in which Kirk had mentioned it?
Spock could not help thinking that it must be, though he could not
remember ever having experienced such emotions before and did not
understand how or why he was doing so now.
Before the end of the week, Spock had gotten further ahead in
most of his classes than he had any need to be; he had already
outdistanced most of his Human classmates, just working at his normal
pace, by the beginning of the Christmas Vacation stand-down. Kirk
had warned him against alienating them by "showing off", as he called
deliberately doing better than one's classmates in order to humiliate
them--though Spock had argued that he never *meant* to "humiliate"
anyone--just to do his best. When Spock realized he had started
thinking of Kirk again, he decided to take a break and start keeping
his promise to Kirk to "get out"; perhaps a change of scenery would
lighten his mood.
Spock took the elevator down to the ground floor of the
dormitory, one of several such cadet housing facilities--actually,
updated and converted barracks--in the complex, and made his way
slowly across the Academy grounds. Beneath his customary mask of
Vulcan non-emotion, he could not help being surprised at how few
people he saw; apparently, more of the offworlder cadets than he had
expected had taken advantage of the Academy's hospice program, which
paired them off with host-Humans for each Terran holiday observed by
It was not mandatory, so Spock had chosen not to participate,
considering the whole idea an expression of unwanted pity based on
the false (if well-intentioned) idea that all offworlders *wanted* to
share Terran holiday celebrations with a Human. Besides...he had
calculated the odds as being overwhelmingly *against* being assigned
to Kirk--the only person, Human or otherwise, with whom he had even
the beginnings of a rapport with. Kirk had made it clear he was
willing to share the holiday with him, willing to familiarize him
with the customs involved, willing to do most anything to help him
enjoy Christmas, if Spock would just agree to spend it with him...
Spock shook himself out of his reverie, not wanting to dwell on
thoughts of his absent room-mate. He realized he had traversed
approximately three-fourths of the Academy's central courtyard and,
realizing also that he had not eaten in several days, decided to go
on to the Base Cafeteria. It, too, was virtually deserted, and not--
as Spock now knew--just because it was after normal lunch hours. He
made his selections and went to sit down at a table in a corner,
knowing he should be grateful for the silence and solitude, a chance
to eat his meal without the usual accompanying background noise of
(mostly) Human conversation, as he was accustomed to doing on Vulcan.
But since meeting Kirk, solitude seemed only to remind him that
the isolation he thought he had long ago accepted as being part of
following the Vulcan way was becoming increasingly unsatisfying and
uncomfortable for him; he was starting to remember that he had left
Vulcan because the Human part of him needed something more--
acceptance, friendship, *some* kind of emotional connection to
*someone*. This Christmas holiday would have been a good time to
start working on that connection, if only Spock had not been so
afraid of embarrassing himself or Kirk in front of the Human's family.
After spending twenty minutes or so futilely pushing vegetable
around his plate with a fork, Spock concluded with a resigned sigh
that he was still not hungry. He did not understand why, but the
fact existed that food held no interest for him. How could he be so
emotionally affected by his inability to participate in a Human
holiday that held no meaning for him? *Did* it hold some meaning for
him, beyond being a time when Human emotionalism ran more rampant
than usual, or did he just envy Kirk's easy sense of belonging--
something Spock had not found and did not ever expect to find? Spock
searched his memories of everything his mother had ever told him
about Christmas, getting up finally and returning his food tray
before heading back to his room.
Once he had returned, he played the message tape that had
finally arrived from Amanda earlier that week, keeping his eyes on
the image shown of her on his viewer as he listened to her words:
"Spock--I wanted more than anything to come see you for
Christmas, but Sarek's been completely unmovable on the subject.
Thank goodness you have your room-mate--hopefully, you can spend
Christmas with him. Don't refuse if he invites you, Spock. You'll
regret it. You need to be *with* someone over Christmas, and this
Jim Kirk obviously wants to be your friend. Let him. Go with him.
Don't worry about how to respond--you'll learn. He'll teach you.
This holiday could be a good way to start. I'm sorry I can't be
there to discuss this with you in person, but maybe next year. I
want you to be happy, Spock; please don't waste this chance.
Remember, I'm proud of you and I love you--Mother."
After the screen went dark, Spock sat and stared at it for some
time, deep in thought. His mother meant well, and her words mirrored
the instinctive thoughts that had already begun to nag at him deep
within his Human half, but she did not understand...he was a Vulcan;
the Human part of him that she knew so well was, as it had always
been, irrelevant. Still...it was that part of him that had driven
him to attend Starfleet Academy on his mother's homeworld. Any
number of Academy branches would have been closer, but Spock had
wanted to study Humans in their natural habitat. He had hoped to
learn how to interact with them, curious to see if they would accept
him any more readily than his peers on Vulcan had. And so far, only
Kirk had reached out to him with anything resembling acceptance.
Spock realized reluctantly that he would have liked to at least
*try* to celebrate the holiday with Kirk. With no classes to attend
and not enough faculty or cadets left to easily observe, the Academy
held little interest for him just now. It was empty, echoing the
emptiness Spock felt deep within him. No amount of Vulcan logic or
emotional control had ever filled that void, for it was the same one
Spock had tried to fill (or ignore) using the prescribed methods for
as long as he could remember. He turned off the viewer with a
sigh, got up and went to sit on his bed, assuming his customary
meditation position--head bowed, fingers steepled, legs folded and
crossed beneath him--and prepared for a long period of meditation.
The following days were much the same for Spock. He meditated,
read, played chess with the computer, and generally tried to ignore
his awareness that it was the Christmas holiday and he was alone. He
was always alone, it seemed, even with all the Academy's normal
population present, just as he had been on Vulcan--and being
accustomed to it was not the same as enjoying it. There was only one
time he did *not* feel entirely alone...and it was all Spock could do
to keep himself from dwelling on it. When Christmas Eve finally
arrived, Spock found himself looking out the window next to Kirk's
bed, studying the gray December sky and wondering what Kirk was doing.
As he looked out across the grounds, he noticed a small number
of cadets--probably all the Humans that were left--wandering past the
various dormitory buildings; when they reached his, Spock detected
the sound of singing drifting up to him, audible even through the
closed window, and realized they must be doing what his mother
called "carolling"--an ancient Terran tradition in which the
participants went door-to-door singing "Christmas carols". The sound
only deepened the feelings of depression that Spock was already
struggling to control, but he listened anyway, trying vainly to
identify the carols, until the cadet carolers had moved on to the
next dormitory. Then he got ready for bed and turned out the lights--
though he knew it was unlikely he would sleep.
The next day, Christmas, Spock spent sitting on Kirk's bed and
looking out the window, atypically hugging one of the Human's throw
pillows, feeling as if he might start crying at any moment and
wondering if he would have the strength to suppress the urge when it
came. After not eating and only sleeping sporadically since Kirk's
departure, he had fought for control all night. Meditation
techniques that normally allowed him relaxation and easier emotional
control had merely left him numb from the effort without providing
him any real comfort--apparently the emotions inspired by this
holiday, even his own, were too strong or deep to be affected by
Vulcan emotional controls, though Spock still did not understand why
that should be true for *him*.
The day wore on and morning turned to afternoon without any
lightening of Spock's mood. Then, at around 1430, the door to his
room opened without warning and he jumped to his feet, startled. In
walked Kirk, still dressed for Christmas in Iowa--in a heavy sweater
over a shirt and jeans, in addition to his coat--and carrying a big,
wrapped package. His whole face beamed a greeting to the Vulcan.
"Mr. Kirk?" Spock responded, in open astonishment.
"I had to come back early--we opened our Christmas presents last
night, and I took the first shuttle out this morning. I just
couldn't stand the idea of you being alone on Christmas," Kirk
explained, setting down his travel bag and eagerly handing the
present to Spock. "This is for you. From me."
"For me?" Spock repeated doubtfully, taking it slowly from Kirk
and sitting down on hiss own bed to unwrap it. When the wrapping
paper was off, Spock opened the box and took out a heavy, gray
sweater with thick, braided ribbing down the front and sleeves,
identical to the one Kirk was wearing.
"You always seem so cold, so I thought you might need something
like this to wear in winter," Kirk told him. "You can wear it alone,
if the itchiness doesn't bother you, or wear it with a shirt under
it, like I do. And it's gray, which will go with almost anything--"
He paused, staring at Spock, who had bowed his head and was clutching
the sweater to his chest as if it were of incalculable value--or as
if he thought someone might take it away. Kirk sat down beside him
on the bed, still studying him worriedly. "Spock?" he prompted
"No one...except my mother...has ever given me a present
before," Spock revealed softly. "On Vulcan, they are considered
illogical and superfluous because of the...emotional connotations."
"I hope *you* don't view them that way."
Spock shook his head, remembering his mother's attempts to
commemorate birthdays and any other Terran holidays that might serve
as ann excuse for her to give him an unexpected gift. "I always
appreciated Mother's presents. And I would have welcomed--" he
stopped abruptly, unwilling to discuss or dwell on the intensified
feelings of rejection by his peers that had always followed such
occasions when he reflected on "celebrations" that only his mother
wanted to be a part of. In the face of Kirk's current tangible
expression of affection, those memories seemed far away and
irrelevant. He looked up at the Human finally, an expression of
mingled shame, confusion and gratitude filling his dark eyes. "Jim,
why...why do you care? Why does it matter to you...what I feel, or
whether or not I am...alone?"
Kirk sensed somehow that Spock was talking about more than just
the present. "Why *shouldn't* I care?" he asked, puzzled and
Spock lowered his eyes again. "I am a Vulcan. I am unfamiliar
with most Human emotions and customs. And I obviously am not very
good company for Humans," he elaborated awkwardly. "Why would you go
to such lengths to include me in *anything*?"
"Because you're 'good company' for *me*. Otherwise I wouldn't
consider you my friend--and I *certainly* wouldn't have wanted you to
spend Christmas with me and my family," Kirk countered kindly.
"It *is* still Christmas," Spock observed, looking up again
slowly as realization dawned. "You...left your family to be with me
Kirk nodded. "And to bring you that present while it still
*was* Christmas." He watched the Vulcan anxiously, as always,
uncertain how to console him without touching him. Cautiously, he
slipped an arm around Spock's shoulders and rested it lightly there,
waiting to see if Spock would object or pull away.
To his surprise, Spock did not withdraw, sitting quietly instead
and allowing Kirk to draw him closer. It was the first time Kirk
could recall that he had ever let the Human hold him, even in such a
cautious partial embrace as this. "Forgive me," Spock murmured. He
had only wanted to sense the sincerity of Kirk's emotions for him,
directly, just for a moment; it was so pleasant to think that someone
could want so much to be with him...but, as usual, the feeling was
drowned in shame as soon as his emotional controls re-asserted
themselves, and he straightened quickly. "You said you would not
object," he reminded Kirk hopefully, referring to a previous occasion
shortly after they had met, when Kirk had been obliged to reassure
him, after an accidental "intrusion" (Spock's word), that he did not
and would not object to the Vulcan's touch.
"I don't," Kirk reiterated gently, noting that Spock had still
not completely detached himself from Kirk's half-embrace. He made a
mental note to ask Spock about it later.
"Thank you for the present, Jim. It was...most kind of you...
and I shall always treasure it as my first gift from a...friend,"
Spock acknowledged sincerely, at last. "Do you feel 'merry' now?"
he asked, knowing the Human would recognize his reference to Kirk's
unhappy departure for Iowa.
"Now, yes definitely," Kirk decided, scarcely having to think
about his answer.
"Then it *would* be appropriate for me to wish you 'Merry
Christmas', would it not?"
Kirk nodded again, happily. "Merry Christmas, my friend. Come
on, try on that sweater and see if it fits. You can wear it when we
go to the Base Cafeteria to see if they've got any Christmas goodies
left--I haven't eaten since I left Iowa."
Spock knew as his eyes met Kirk's that the latter had noticed
the weight he had lost in his Human room-mate's absence--probably
also know, or at least suspected, that he had eaten virtually nothing
since Kirk's departure. Spock lowered his eyes again as they both
got up, then he silently moved to oblige, removing his short,
layered Vulcan robe and exchanging it for the even thicker sweater,
which--following Kirk's example--he wore over a long-sleeved, high-
collared shirt (a dark gray Vulcan bodyshirt with a mandarin-ish
collar, as opposed to Kirk's denim-blue turtleneck, that looked as if
it had been *made* to go with the sweater--or vice versa).
The sweater proved to be a little baggy, but almost sinfully
warm, and looked good with the heavy, black, corduroy-like leggings
he was wearing. "It is very comfortable, and it does match my
clothing," he admitted, allowing his pleasure to show in his eyes as
he looked back up at Kirk.
"It's a little big, but that's because you're too skinny. I'll
have to fatten you up," Kirk warned him playfully.
Spock cocked an eyebrow at him knowingly. "Is that a threat?"
"A promise," Kirk asserted, pulling a large, red, cylindrical
tin out of his bag and brandishing it at Spock like a high-powered
phaser. "And this'll be a start. Mom sent a bunch of Christmas
cookies back with me. I hope you like iced sugar cookies and
chocolate-covered chocolate chip."
Instantly curious, Spock moved closer and reached toward the tin.
"Oh, no, you don't--not until after dinner. Come on, the
turkey's waiting. Or for you, corn-on-the-cob. And dressing--" Kirk
stopped, realizing that Spock had stopped and had his head bowed
again. "What's wrong now?"
"The custom, as I recall, is that gifts are *exchanged*," Spock
reminded him faintly. "I have nothing to give *you*."
"I'd settle for your friendship."
Spock looked up and opened his mouth to protest that he could
not promise something he might not be able to give--then he changed
his mind. "I have no experience with the emotion, but I suppose...it
might be interesting to...study the Human concept of 'friendship'
first-hand," he reasoned hesitantly, though the Vulcan in him
questioned the logic of his true motivations.
Kirk smiled knowingly at him. "Rationalize it all you want,
but it's the best present you could give me."
"The giving of it may take a long time to achieve...if it is
even possible for me to give it," Spock warned him quietly. "And you
may not find it worth the wait."
"Let me decide that. For now, just humor me and let me spend
the rest of my Christmas vacation with you," Kirk suggested, reaching
out to lightly touch Spock's arm. "Let's go to dinner."
"As you wish, Mr. K--Jim," Spock acceded, correcting himself in
response to the look Kirk gave him. He was secretly relieved that
none of his efforts to discourage Kirk from involving him in his
Christmas celebrations had worked. He still marveled that Kirk, a
Human, would even *think* of involving a Vulcan in such
festivities ...but he had by now decided that submitting to Kirk's
wishes in this was far more pleasant than the isolated feeling of
being *forbidden* to take part, forbidden by more than Vulcan custom.
Kirk was at least opening to him a new world of choices--and
possibilities. Even the Vulcan part of him was curious about the
holiday, and his mother had been right; the loneliness he had
experienced during this time had caught him totally unprepared for
its intensity. It had been more than his emotional controls could
consistently handle, and the Human part of him now longed for the day
when he could share such celebrations--at least, with Kirk--with no
reservations or second thoughts.
As Spock studied his incredibly patient Human room-mate, he
realized his mother had been right about something else, too: Kirk
*wanted* to share Christmas with him, and would teach him as much
about the holiday--and how to deliver on his special promised present
of friendship--as Spock would allow. Instincts born of Spock's
Human half told him that it could turn out to be the best possible
present for *him*, too--if only his Vulcan half would permit it. As
he and Kirk reached for their coats and headed out the door for the
Base Cafeteria, Spock silently willed himself to remain open to
Christmas and the possibility of friendship growing between them: //I
am ready, Jim. Let the lessons begin.//
[END OF STORY]
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