“You know, it’s not very logical. Sparkling spheres.”
“Indeed. I am aware of that.”
James T. Kirk, Captain of the USS Enterprise, well into the third year of their five-year mission, raised a playful eyebrow at his bondmate, who was attaching the twelve ‘sparkling spheres’ in question to a plastic Christmas tree with meticulous care. The raised eyebrow got one in response, and Jim grinned, resting his chin in his hand, his dancing blue eyes following all Spock’s moves. Watching Spock was one of the pleasures in his life (and one of his life-saving tactics for boring bridge shifts).
“They look ancient.”
Spock raised his head, momentarily pausing in his attempt to put the eleventh sphere in just the right position, and looked questioningly at Jim, who gestured at the tree.
“The ornaments, I mean. They look really old.”
The Vulcan looked down at the delicate, blown glass orb in his hand. “They are.”
“… put this one on that branch… yes, just like that! You are so good at helping me, Spock.”
The young child, barely more than a toddler, managed to suppress a smile of delight at being so praised by his mother. He looked with satisfaction at the tree. He had a nagging suspicion that his father would tell him it was illogical, but it was… est… aest… aesthetically pleasing, too. His mother, who was human, and smiled a lot, sat on the sofa and gestured at Spock to sit on her lap, which he eagerly did. His mother embraced him, feeling her cool human breath in his hair. Traditional songs from Earth that she had put on before continued to play in the background, and the child closed his eyes feeling safe, warm and content. The sparkling tree, dedicated to a human holiday, was very pleasing, and after the festival he would start school. All was well.
…The young Vulcan looked around, the bare walls of his lonely Starfleet Academy dorm room looking blankly back at him. In front of him lay a mysterious package from Vulcan which could only have come from home. He and his father hadn’t spoken to each other since that day, months before, when he had declined an offer of a place at the VSA. Cautiously, he opened it. The light in the room was brighter than normal, enhanced by the sun streaming through the window, reflecting off the unseasonably early blanket of snow outside. Snow… he shuddered just thinking about it, and then immediately chastised himself. Shuddering as he thought about something was an impermissible lapse in his control. He had to be careful about his control, living among humans, as they constantly tested it to its limits.
Inside the package there was a small note lying on top of a layer of polystyrene, a polymer he was familiar with, frequently used to protect fragile items. He stared at the note. It was from his mother.
“For your first Christmas alone. Love, Mother.”
Carefully extracting one of the contents, he raised a sparkling sphere, recognising it from the set that had belonged to his human great-great-grandmother, and wondered why he’d been sent the unexpected gift when he hadn’t participated in Christmas since he was a very young child. Inexplicably, he suddenly didn’t feel so alone anymore.
Jim nodded, examining one of the spheres and smiled. Then he clapped his hands and laughed. “It’s almost perfect Spock… a perfect, private Christmas party.”
Brown, slightly uncertain eyes met his. “You are not displeased at my suggestion that we… ‘sneak out’ of the crew Christmas party?”
The captain shook his head. “Christmas is for family, isn’t it?” He furrowed his brows, while his first officer silently basked in the implicit meaning of the comment.
“I have a surprise for you, as well! Wait… and put the gift under the tree, will you?”
“I do not see the logic in placing them there, only to remove them again in order to open them in approximately 3.54 minutes—”
A swish of the door and Jim was gone.
With a slight shake of his dark head, Spock did as he was told, his fond exasperation at his bondmate’s sometimes utter lack of logic mingling with a warmth that he attributed with 92.76 percent probability to celebrating this traditional festivity with his t’hy’la.
8.34 minutes later, his sensitive ears picked up Jim’s recognisable footstep outside their quarters, followed a moment later by the sound of the door opening. He looked up from where he had just carefully and precisely placed his gift under the tree, ensuring it was symmetrically displayed in such a way as to maximise its aesthetic possibilities (Jim had wrapped his in a most haphazard fashion, and he made a mental note to undertake all the gift-wrapping for the next 98.45 years).
He raised an eyebrow.
Jim grinned in response. In his hand he held a jug full of a dense, yellow liquid which Spock surmised there was a 96.13 percent probability of being eggnog.
“I was unaware the replicators could make such beverages, he commented as he gracefully rose to his feet in one smooth move, while Jim looked wide-eyed as he placed the gift under the tree.
He cleared his throat. “Uh? Replicator… No!” Jim looked at his bondmate with playful indignation. “I made it with all fresh ingredients! I bought them two days ago, while we were at Starbase Twelve for those repairs.”
Jim’s grin widened when Spock leaned forward and cautiously sniffed the liquid. “It’s a traditional Christmas Eggnog recipe, with fresh milk and fresh cream, although I switched the fresh egg for synth-ovas… I even found rum and nutmeg!”
Spock affectionately regarded his glowing bondmate, and the warmth he felt inside increased by 34.37 percent.
“Indeed. I did not know you could make eggnog, Jim.”
Warm blue eyes took a distant look. “I learned years ago…”
“…No no no! First, you have to warm the milk, cinnamon and cloves! What did I do to have such a stupid little brother? What? What?”
“Shut up, Sam. You must have been a mass murderer in your past life! Pass me the recipe.”
The older, slightly darker boy raised a battered book over his head while the other, considerably blonder and shorter boy, tried in vain to take it, jumping up and down noisily in the old kitchen.
“Not on my life, bro! It’s old, you know? It belonged to our—”
“—great-great grandmother, yes I know, but if you don’t tell me the recipe…”
“Children… Children! What’s going on?” a voice called out to them.
Both boys stilled and the smaller one shouted back, “We’re just playing, Aunt Patty! Don’t stress your leg – the doctor said you mustn’t move today!”
A huge sigh came from somewhere inside the big farmhouse, the kind of sigh that speaks of knowing a disaster is just bound to happen, one that countless adults have sighed – since the days of living in caves – when leaving children alone to their devices.
“All right, Jimmy, but be careful.”
“Will be, auntie!”
The older boy, who was eight years old, and therefore practically grown up, wrinkled his nose, mouthing ‘auntie’. For his trouble, he received a playful punch from his younger brother… who seemed too young and small to talk about reading recipes, given his blue eyes were level with the table, or they would have been if he hadn’t just climbed onto a chair to reach the assorted cooking devices in front of him.
In a whisper, the five year-old said, “So. What to do we do now?”
The older boy looked at the recipe, and mouthed back, “Half a teaspoon of vanilla… half a teaspoon, Jimmy!”
“I like vanilla.”
“The recipe says half a teaspoon!”
“All right, all right… you and your half a teaspoon…”
When they were done, the giggling children ran with as much speed as they could muster carrying a very full jug of yellow eggnog over to the shining tree in the family room. They paused for a second, and exchanged a look of pure connivance when they heard a loud snoring noise from the room they had to pass, which devolved into more giggling.
“No, you be careful!”
“Easy, easy… don’t spill it!”
“Real rum Sam! We’re like pirates now, aren’t we?”
“Cretin, there aren’t any pirates now!”
“No you’re the cretin! I was talking about space pirates you idiot!”
“Shhh… don’t wake up Aunt Patty!”
In the end, because God helps children and madmen, they managed to reach the old, cosy sofa in the family room, where they poured the warm eggnog reverently into two cups.
The brothers sat on the sofa in the big farmhouse, that stood isolated and quiet, like an island in a sea of snow or, if you had a child’s imagination, like a starship in a white, sparkling universe. Outside, the full moon shone through the window, and all the lights were off, save the ones on the tree. The boys smiled at each other, stared happily at the tree and sipped their eggnog, which was surprisingly good. From time to time, the comfortable silence was broken when they made faces at each other and then burst out giggling.
“Tomorrow, mom will call!”
“Yes.” There was a sound of inner pleasure in the voice of the younger boy. “I’m glad she’s making friends. She’s too lonely, isn’t she, Sam?”
“Yes she is. At least she’s spending Christmas with Frank, and not alone.”
The younger boy gave a serious nod, because Christmas shouldn’t be spent alone. He sipped his eggnog, thinking about snow, and presents, and eggnog, and mother’s call, his bare feet tucked under a fuzzy blanket, a dazzling smile on his little face.
“I’m very good at making eggnog! Just taste this, Spock! And don’t give me any of that ‘Vulcans don’t drink alcohol’ stuff. It’s Christmas!”
Jim used his forearm to move a stack of datapadds from his desk, causing them to fall, clattering, to the deck, the action eliciting an internal wince from a certain Vulcan. The captain, who had just carelessly scattered last week’s reports, put the jug of warm, yellow liquid on the desk and went to the replicator.
“Computer, two standard cups.”
Two very red cups, with splashes of green emblazoned over them that were, on closer inspection, holly leaves, appeared in the unit.
Spock raised an eyebrow.
Jim looked amused. “I bet this was Scotty’s doing. Well, as long as he puts it all back to normal tomorrow, I won’t say anything.”
The captain raised a cup, looking at it doubtfully. “Better than the singing trout that appeared last year every time someone asked the replicators for food,” he added with amusement at the memory.
Spock’s wince was not only internal this time. “Indeed.”
Jim chuckled and brought the two not-so-regulation cups over to the now empty desk, deftly avoiding treading on the padds scattered on the deck.
Spock looked at said padds.
“Don’t you dare touch them! It’s Christmas. Christmas. We’ve just completed a very stressful mission patrolling the Neutral Zone, and I need relaxing.” The captain carefully poured some of the warm, yellow and, Spock noticed, quite thick liquid, into the festive cups. “Take this. I’m sure you’ll love it.”
The Vulcan raised an eyebrow, but silently accepted, cradling the brightly coloured cup with his slender hands.
Jim looked at the long fingers, cleared his throat, and walked with determination to the rug he had placed in front of the tree.
A moment later, Spock joined his bondmate on the floor.
Jim smiled, put his cup down and covered their legs with a blanket. Spock’s eyebrows shot up in surprise, but he wisely chose to ignore the illogical action, since it was a simple enough matter to request a higher temperature, if the captain so wished. Instead, he took an experimental sip of the ‘eggnog’. Again, his eyebrows shot up – it was surprisingly good – a rich, sweet and complex flavour. He tasted it with care, took another sip, and decided he liked it.
Jim was grinning widely, over his own cup. “Computer, lights to ten percent,” he ordered, and the lights immediately dimmed.
For a while, they remained silent, basking in the relative quiet of the Enterprise.
Then Jim slid a little closer and put his blond head on his bondmate’s shoulder. Spock looked down for a moment, brown eyes soft and gentle, and put his left arm around his Jim.
Jim smiled again, blue eyes shining. “Merry Christmas, Mr Spock,” he said, playfully.
An expressive Vulcan eyebrow rose, followed by a human chuckle.
“I believe the correct response is, ‘Merry Christmas, Captain’,” Spock said, in his perfectly regulated tone. The chuckle evolved into a full-bodied laugh that brought an answering quiver to the Vulcan’s lips.
The laugh died off and, blond head resting against dark, they gazed at the sparkling spheres as they sipped eggnog, quiet and warm the memories surrounding them, as they shared this special time with the one they loved.