Kirk just barely managed to twist the key to unlock the old-fashioned door without losing his grip on an armful of bags. He kicked open the door wide enough so that he could shove himself and his luggage into the log cabin. Behind him, his travelling companion quietly sighed. “Would it not have been less troublesome for me to unlock the door?”
Jim turned his head just enough to glare over his shoulder. His playful smile offset the otherwise sour expression. “Even I know, Mister Spock, that it is the host’s responsibility to open the door for his guest to properly welcome him to the house.”
Spock blinked then nodded pointedly at the single duffel bag he easily carried. “Just as it is your responsibility to struggle with carrying both of our necessities, despite my greater strength and endurance to do so?”
Jim heard the unspoken words clearly. You are behaving illogically. You are also being stubborn in your refusal to let me assist you. He smiled at his new bondmate of only two months. “I’m not about to make you haul our things into my grandfather’s old house,” he argued lightly. “Or do I need to remind you that you carried everything around for me when we went to Vulcan for our bonding?”
Spock straightened his posture. “I have an eidetic memory, Jim. I do not need to be reminded.”
“Of course you don’t, Spock. But we’re on Earth now, so it’s only fair that I return the gesture.” Jim turned and trudged his way through the living room and headed straight for the stairs. Spock had no choice but to follow him, hoping he would not drop anything or, as a result, fall down the stairs being overburdened and reluctant to accept his help. He had hoped that Jim would have stopped at the entrance of the cabin in order to remove his snow-covered boots, but Jim had gone onward, leaving his mark behind him in the form of his wet boot-prints.
Spock’s worry for his new bondmate’s safety overruled his need for cleanliness. However, the idea of stepping in the puddles Jim left behind and gaining wet socks had Spock chosen to remove his boots would invite a more uncomfortable experience than adding to the trail of melting, dirty snow through the cabin. Therefore, Spock kept his boots on and followed Jim, who had continued talking as he walked noisily through the main room and towards the solid wooden stairs, clearly determined to climb them even if it meant in the dark since his burdened arms did not allow him to hit the old-fashioned light switch. “This place was where my mother grew up, Spock. Grandpa didn’t believe in unnecessary conveniences, so he and my grandmother went to quite some effort to make this place as non-modern as they could. They believed in hard work and thinking to solve your problems instead of relying on technology to solve your problems for you.”
Spock wondered if that had inspired his bondmate’s talent to think quickly on his feet, making him an excellent starship captain and improviser. He also thought that perhaps Jim’s grandparents had simply preferred a quieter, slower lifestyle than the kind enjoyed by the majority of Federation citizens. With both of the former owners of this cabin long since deceased, Spock had no way of learning either of these answers. He could only make an educated guess.
Jim’s voice brought him back to the present. “We, Sam and I, used to spend a lot of time here when we were growing up, especially when Mom and Dad had things to do with Starfleet that took them away for a little while. My favorite time was the Autumn. They used to have a barn and some horses. That’s how I learned how to ride and properly chop wood.” Spock could hear the fond smile in Jim’s voice even though he could not see it. “He taught me how to survive in the woods, which is probably why I—”
Survived Tarsus IV. Those words Jim didn’t say aloud but Spock knew they were the end of his unvoiced thought. They did not speak of that period of Jim’s life, just as certain points in Spock’s life were not discussed. In the times that Jim nearly did speak of it, Spock allowed a brief flicker of hope in the anticipation for himself to comfort and support his bondmate and captain as the man had often comforted and supported him in the years they have known each other, even before they acknowledged their affection for each other. But Jim stopped himself before the topic could be truly opened for discussion, and by doing so denied Spock the opportunity to provide the emotional security Jim had periodically stated he received from Spock. How could he help his bondmate if Jim kept his deepest pains buried in places where not even Spock could reach? In the moments where Jim decided to suppress or fight his past demons alone, Spock felt particularly useless and helpless.
Determined to make himself useful in that moment, regardless of Jim’s words or lack thereof, Spock flipped the antique switch that illuminated the stairs. Jim may have been very familiar with the layout of this house, but Spock had never before been there and would prefer to see where he stepped rather than guess or feel his way around. “Thanks, Spock,” Jim whispered, still obviously disturbed by his near mention of Tarsus IV. “I guess I forgot you’ve never been here. I could find my way around the place blind if I had to.” Jim hurried up the stairs like the demons of his past pursued him.
Spock’s worry increased as he heard something bump into a wall or a door. He hurried up the steps and found that Jim had plopped their baggage in front of a door. Jim’s smile lost some of its confidence and now held a hint of nervousness. “You are okay with coming here, right? I just thought that after McCoy’s boisterous and abundant Thanksgiving, you’d like to get away for a while.”
He had no idea from where Jim’s sudden insecurity had come. Spock placed the duffel on the landing and approached his mate. “It was a rather overwhelming week at the Doctor’s residence,” he admitted.
Jim smiled up at Spock but it did not reach his eyes. “That’s why I thought my family’s old cabin, straight up north from Georgia, would be good for us. It’s quiet so you can meditate when you want. No technology here so not even ‘Fleet can disturb us.” A hesitant spark of mischief crept into his gaze. “I’m afraid you’re trapped with me, Mister Spock.”
Spock allowed his affection for his bondmate to show in his expression. Jim needed to see it in that moment. “I have been trapped with you before, Captain, on many occasions and in many locations. I am certain I will survive it.”
This time, Jim’s smile did reach his eyes. “I’ll make sure you do,” he promised, as he cupped his husband’s jaw and applied enough pressure to indicate what he wanted. Spock obliged and let Jim pull him forward to meet their lips, not with a fierce, passionate need of one another, but with a steady, deep reassurance of their commitment to each other. “Now,” Jim said as soon as their kiss ended. “Since you introduced me to all sorts of Vulcan traditions when we got married—”
“Bonded,” Spock corrected patiently, knowing Jim wouldn’t bother to amend his words. A man like Jim did not backtrack often. A man like Jim continued moving forward.
“—I think there’s no better time than now to introduce you to the rest of the Winter Holidays.”
Spock could not prevent his eyes from widening. “There is more to the Winter Holidays than Thanksgiving?”
Jim laughed and the sound pleased Spock. He preferred it to moments where Jim brooded. “Oh, there’s much more than Thanksgiving, Spock.” He flung open the door which revealed a bedroom. “But first, I think we should get settled, then see what my nephew managed to stock our kitchen with for us to eat.”
Spock bent to pick up the duffel bag again, then entered the bedroom, stooping to snatch up another large bag as he passed Jim, whose mouth fell open in mock offense. “I thought I told you I was carrying everything like you did on Vulcan,” he protested, grabbing the other bags.
Spock did not pause in his movements choosing a place to set the bags and begin unpacking them. “We are on leave, Jim. You cannot order me to do or not do anything.”
“Oh, Spock?” Jim asked rhetorically as he set one of his bags alongside Spock’s on the bed.
Spock raised an eyebrow at his bondmate. “Furthermore,” he added, waiting until Jim looked at him. “We are most assuredly not on Vulcan anymore.”
Jim’s eyes narrowed even as he fought a smile. A moment later, Spock’s vision was obscured by the shirt Jim threw in his face.
Jim’s focus only lasted until half of their belongings had been unpacked. His rumbling stomach compelled him to abandon his haphazardly arranged suitcase in favor of searching out dinner options in the kitchen. Spock listened to the enthusiastic search proceed, hearing pots and pans clanging about, drawers being opened and shut again, the water running to fill a pot. “Spock! Peter left fresh garlic bulbs!” Jim shouted up the stairs to him. Spock had opened his mouth to reply but Jim continued shouting excitedly. “We’re having genuine garlic bread tonight!” Spock hoped he did not mean that would be all they would have for dinner. Jim’s laugh echoed in the open-designed cabin. Apparently, he had picked up Spock’s thought. “Don’t worry,” Jim reassured him, “I’ve got enough vegetables and lettuce to make you salads for days, at least.”
“I did not doubt your culinary skill,” Spock loudly replied as he finished with his own unpacking and turned to Jim’s abandoned cases and bags. He decided that it was logical to settle his bondmate into their temporary lodgings while Jim took on the task of preparing dinner for them. Spock did not deny to himself that he looked forward to a meal.
“Is Italian alright?” Jim asked, the nearness of his voice indicating that he’d come closer to the stairs.
Spock hesitated. What should he say? The question lacked specificity. The term Italian could imply a large variety of dining options. Spock had eaten several kinds of Italian cuisine before, especially during his time at Starfleet Academy. There were not many Vulcans enlisted in Starfleet at the time in which he was a student, therefore encountering specifically Vulcan options in the various mess halls proved an uncommon occurrence. The needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few. It would be illogical to spend the time and effort to prepare his native dishes when it would require the staff unnecessary effort and time to accommodate such a low number of enlisted Vulcans in Starfleet. “I have had limited experience with Italian food,” he admitted.
“It’ll be simple,” Jim promised. “Just a quick penne with garlic and oil, a salad for you, and some garlic bread for both of us.” Spock heard the distinct sound of a bottle being uncorked. Apparently, they would be having wine to accompany their meal. “Will you be ready to come down in about twenty minutes?”
True to his word, Spock left the bedroom and made his way into the kitchen area of the cabin, led there by sound and scent more than anything else. He turned the corner leading into the kitchen and dining room to find his bondmate placing the hot plates on the table where he’d already set their utensils and a plate of oven-heated bread positioned next to a small bowl containing warm oil and minced garlic. Ever the romantic, Jim had lit a candle in the middle of the table. Jim smiled shyly at him then surveyed his work. He snapped his fingers and turned back into the kitchen. He returned seconds later cradling a small bowl of salad in one hand, and somehow managing to carry two glasses of red wine in the other. Spock reached to assist him, but Jim playfully glared at him, clearly refusing his help. Again. Spock indulged him and watched as Jim slid the salad to just the place he wanted it on the table. Once that hand was free, he transferred one glass of wine to it and set both down simultaneously at each respective place setting. He sighed in relief and then smiled proudly at what he had created. Another successful mission.
Spock could not help the small smile from curving his lips upward at Jim’s childlike pride in that moment. His mate often exhibited nervousness whenever he cooked for Spock, and it was just another among many traits about him that Spock found endearing. Jim could fearlessly charge head-on into the unknown and stay in control, but when it came to Spock’s approval of his cooking skills, he turned into a shy suitor. Spock inhaled the scent of the meal slowly. “It appears delicious,” he observed.
That shy smile returned. “I hope it tastes as good as it looks.”
Spock nodded and took his seat. “Then, we must consume it to make that determination.”
Jim’s shy smile transformed into one of amusement as he joined Spock at the table. “Logical, as always, Mister Spock.”
Spock had already skewered several penne noodles. “I always endeavor to be so, Captain.” He masked his own smile by taking his first bite of the pasta, his focus entirely on his meal.
“I know.” Spock looked up and froze at the way in which his mate gazed at him. Jim watched him eat, his fingers resting around the stem of his wine glass, and a fond smile playing at his lips. Spock swallowed the penne and watched as Jim’s attention went to the movements of his throat, his pupils dilating. Spock lowered his fork slowly, transfixed by the open excitement Jim could not control. Jim didn’t miss the move and brought his eyes back to Spock’s. The flame of the candle between them danced in his eyes, charging the energy between them. Jim licked his lips as he inhaled deeply. “Spock,” he exhaled.
Spock knew that tone very well and it made his body ache for his mate. He was torn between wanting to give in to their mutual desire for each other immediately and wanting to build upon that desire over the course of the evening for a more rewarding experience when they finally came together. They did not have many opportunities to engage each other while travelling with their crew during the last few weeks of the holiday shore leave. Spock concluded that they had resisted their carnal urges for that long and thus several more hours would be negligible. But he did not want to completely extinguish his lover’s desire for him, not when he felt the same longing for Jim. “Soon,” he promised.
Jim held his gaze, the fire in them dimming to warm embers that would wait for Spock to stoke them to life when he was ready. He lifted his glass and took a long, slow sip from it, never once taking his eyes from his husband. When he swallowed the liquid, he smiled seductively as he noticed Spock’s eyes follow his throat just as his had to him. “Soon,” he confirmed, his smile turning wicked.
With great effort, Spock broke their eye contact and focused once more on their meal. It did taste as good as it appeared and smelled. They ate in silence, broken only by the sounds unavoidable when eating together, the utensils clinking, glassware being set back down, the contented sounds of chewing soft pasta or crisp lettuce. It was a comfortable silence between them, though highly charged with anticipation.
“Spock, look,” Jim said quietly. Spock raised his eyes and saw Jim gazing out the window close to the table. “It’s snowing.”
Spock rarely experienced snow, and certainly without the peaceful wonder that Humans seemed to experience when witnessing it. It was only water. He did not understand. He did not know what to say. He did not know what to say during many of these Human traditions Jim had wanted him to experience. Thanksgiving had been entirely foreign to him, yet he had enjoyed it in the end. Now, on this winter retreat for the two of them, he had no idea how to react to these traditions, either. He knew of the existence of some of them from his mother, but they had never practiced them on Vulcan. In many ways, despite his mother being Human, these upcoming days with only his bondmate for company would be his first experience with any kind of Winter Holiday traditions observed by Humans. He did not want to ruin it for Jim, who had been looking forward to this long shore leave since he had received word of only its possibility. Spock said nothing, but he did watch Jim’s calm joy as he watched the snow falling.
“We need a tree.”
“I do not understand,” Spock said hesitantly. One moment Jim stared out at the snow and the next moment he declared that they required a tree of some kind. This did not make sense. “Why do we need a tree?” Jim turned back to him with a soft smile Spock recognized. He was amused. Spock did not think his puzzlement amusing.
“On Earth, we traditionally decorate a pine tree,” Jim explained patiently, his smile never fading. “Afterwards, we admire it through the duration of the Winter Holidays.”
“Ah,” Spock sighed in relief at understanding a little more. “This tree is outside.”
Jim’s smile disappeared and he bit his lips as he thought of his next words. How would he explain this to Spock? “Well, we—um—usually we just—” He suspected how Spock would react to this information, and decided to simply get it over with quickly. Jim hurriedly explained, though half-mumbling, fully aware that Spock’s superior hearing would still pick it up anyway. “We cut the tree down, bring it into the house, and decorate it here.”
Spock’s face reflected nothing. “You wish to kill a tree solely for decorative purposes?”
Jim cleared his throat awkwardly. “Well…” He trailed off as he could come up with nothing to say to that which would satisfy Spock. He sighed in defeat at the low possibility of introducing his husband to that particular tradition. “When you put it quite that way, I suppose it does sound a bit—”
“I was going to say strange, actually.”
“I originally meant to say barbaric.”
Jim realized that Spock, while still not supportive of cutting the tree down, deliberately tried to lighten his mood by playfully bantering with him. “Illogical?” he countered teasingly.
The mischievous gleam finally shined in Spock’s eyes. “And useless, Jim.”
Jim knew that look, and wondered if he hadn’t just been teased this entire conversation. The objection itself to cutting down the tree had probably been genuine, he admitted. Contemplatively, he swiped up the leftover sauce on his plate with a piece of his bread. Then, he latched onto something. “You mean to tell me,” he said with a sly grin, half-heartedly pointing the sauce-covered bread at Spock, “that your mother never did a single Earth tradition with you around the holidays?” Convinced that he’d cornered his husband with that, he victoriously bit into his bread and waited for Spock’s reply.
Spock shook his head. “My mother had informed me of some practices, but we did not participate in them. She chose to fully embrace the Vulcan way of life, including my father’s traditions.”
Jim swallowed hurriedly so he could have his say. “And therefore discarded every tradition she ever grew up with? Isn’t it illogical to deny a part of herself like that?”
He knew it had been the wrong thing to say the moment the words left his mouth. He regretted them as soon as Spock stiffened in his seat. His voice was even and his words carefully chosen. “My mother is very content with her bond with my father.” He paused, lifting his eyes to be sure his mate could see the sincerity there. “Just as I am content in my bond with you.”
Jim’s regret only grew with that statement. “I never meant to imply that you weren’t.”
Spock set his utensils down on either side of his nearly empty plate and folded his hands together on the edge of the table. “Because my mother chose to conduct herself in accordance with Vulcan traditions and behaviors since bonding with my father, it does not follow that my decision will mirror hers.” He had no idea how to reassure his mate of his contentedness more concretely other than to explain that he did not let the decisions of others dictate his path for himself. Jim should have been aware of this. Then, he recalled that this shore leave was unique for them both. Spock had never participated in the Earth Holidays, and Jim had never had another with whom to share those traditions in such an intimate and meaningful capacity. Perhaps that would repair this small misunderstanding. “I enjoy observing the traditions of both Vulcan and Human culture.” He raised his eyebrow, allowing a smile to accompany it, knowing he would get a hesitant smile from his mate in return. He was not disappointed. “After all, I am half Human and half Vulcan. As you correctly pointed out, it is illogical to deny either of those parts of myself. My mother’s circumstances were quite different from mine.”
“To say the least, Mister Spock,” Jim added, staring down at the remnants of his dinner.
“Jim,” Spock said, drawing his mate’s eyes back to him. “Despite my objection to it, I see no reason for you to deny yourself the enjoyment of your traditions. If it pleases you, I will assist you with your efforts in decorating your tree.”
Jim’s entire expression brightened. Unable to say anything in response right away, he slid his arm across the table with his palm turned upward. He knew Spock would understand. He did, and a moment later, Spock met his palm with his own and allowed Jim to curl his fingers around his hand gently. Spock returned the gesture. “I promise we’ll get an artificial one next time.”
“That would be appreciated,” Spock agreed.
“Not to mention logical,” Jim teased him fondly.
They finished their meal in companionable silence, though refusing to give up the intimate contact of their hands by unspoken agreement. As Jim finished off the last of his wine, Spock took the opportunity to break the silence with a question. “Must I accompany you to cut down your tree?”
Jim managed to swallow the wine before he laughed. “No, I’ll go get it.” He stood from the table, still keeping their hands joined. With theatrical flair to which Spock had long grown accustomed, Jim bowed and pressed his lips to the back of Spock’s fingers, eliciting a shiver of pleasure from the Vulcan. Jim enjoyed toying with Spock’s sensitivity to his touch for years, but that tactility had only grown since their bonding. “You stay here where it’s warm.”
Spock nodded. “Very well.” With a delighted chuckle, Jim went to their bedroom for a coat, which he returned wearing in a matter of moments. “While you are gone,” Spock said, stopping his husband’s departure. Jim turned back to him with the front door wide open. Spock tried to ignore the sudden chill that snuck inside the cabin from the outside. “I will clear the remains of your Italian dinner.”
Jim smiled at his husband, knowing precisely why he specified the type of meal they’d eaten. He knew the Vulcan form of praise when he heard it. It was not nearly as obvious as praise given by Humans. Vulcan compliments were shrouded in subtlety. He understood that Spock just told him that he had both enjoyed the food and appreciated Jim having prepared it for them. “I knew you’d love it,” he said.
Spock nodded once. “Indeed, I do.”
“I’ll be back soon.” Jim immediately ventured outside, struggling to fasten his coat properly while trying to shut the door on his way out. Spock knew he would not accept his help this time either, so he did not move to assist him. He did hope, however, that the means with which to cut down the sought after tree were kept outside of the cabin, otherwise Jim would be back sooner than expected to retrieve the necessary tool. For the sake of his bondmate’s pride, Spock hoped Jim would return only once when he proved triumphant in his hunt of the perfect pine tree.
By the time two hours had passed, Spock felt the first stirrings of concern. He had not truly taken note of how much time had passed until he looked back outside and noted that the sun had nearly set, the snow had continued to fall quietly, and there remained no sign of Jim’s return. He had occupied himself with some research into the Winter Holidays on his personal padd, knowing his mate would appreciate the effort. He’d spent more time preparing for Thanksgiving, but his research had been very lax regarding the Winter Holidays he would spend with his mate. As soon as he’d gathered sufficient information to his liking, Spock set out on a search for various items in the cabin, succeeding in some of them and unable to find others that would suit the occasion. He had just brought the last small box downstairs he thought appropriate when the front door opened. A cold blast of air accompanied his mate’s arrival in addition to the pine tree Jim grasped and dragged through the doorway behind him. Along with the tree, Jim also dragged some of the fallen snow into the cabin. Spock suppressed a sigh at the sight, knowing one of them would have to clean up the water all over the floor once the snow melted.
“You cleared a space for it!” Jim exclaimed happily when he noticed the cleared place in the corner of the living room.
“I hope you will place it far enough away from the fireplace, in the event that we choose to utilize it.”
Jim bit his lip to keep from laughing. “After all the work I put into this, there is no way I am going to risk catching it and this house on fire, Spock.”
By the time Jim stabilized and kept the tree standing securely, Spock had brought over the various items he had found around the cabin. Jim turned and saw some of the objects and smiled happily. “You did some research while I was gone.” Spock nodded. Jim reverently touched the baubles and silvery wisps in the boxes. Spock learned that these objects were called ornaments and tinsel. “Thank you,” Jim said, meaning much more than gratitude for finding the objects. He cupped Spock’s cheek in his mitten-covered hand and pressed their lips together chastely.
Spock drew back when he felt how chilled his mate’s skin and lips were against his own. “You are cold,” he stated. That explained why Jim still wore his mittens, scarf, hat, and coat. “I will make you tea.” Before Jim could protest, Spock fled into the kitchen area and quickly began the process of providing a source of warmth for him. As the antique gas-stove lit, Spock stared at the fire and realized something else that would help. He went back into the living room and immediately headed to the fireplace. “Has this been properly cleaned prior to our arrival?”
Jim stopped in his careful removal of the ornaments from the box and looked at Spock. “I’m not sure. I’ll call Peter tonight and see if he had that arranged. I’m sure he did.”
“No need,” Spock insisted. “I will contact him.”
Jim stepped toward him as he tossed his mittens away. An instant later, he encased both of the Vulcan’s hands between his own. “Are you cold? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I am not cold,” Spock reassured him. “But I am concerned for you. You have been outdoors in the snow and the cold for two point six hours. Had you delayed any longer, I was prepared to go after you to be sure that you had not—”
Jim stopped his husband’s rambling with a kiss. “You don’t have to worry about me, Spock. I know this area very well, ever since I was a boy.”
Spock lowered his head in exasperation that he did not want Jim to see. “You are my mate, Jim. Your welfare will always be my concern.”
He looked down at their hands and rubbed the back of his husband’s fingers with his thumb. “As yours will always be mine, love.” Jim let the quiet moment linger between them like a truce. “Do you know what would improve my welfare, Spock?”
“Tea?” he asked hopefully. After the many years of serving aboard the Enterprise with Jim, Spock could never manage to convince him to drink tea when he wasn’t ill. The only time he had ever witnessed the captain drink it was under the compulsion of Doctor McCoy’s medical order for it and the additional forbiddance of both coffee and alcohol. To Jim, tea equated to a form of punishment, not a drink to enjoy. But Spock would continue to try to at the very least convince him that tea could be consumed for pleasure not only for medical reasons.
Jim smiled at him, seeing a spark of hope in his eyes. “Not for me, Spock. In fact, I was hoping for a good mug of hot cocoa.”
Spock immediately visualized the cabinets he had opened moments ago, mentally checking if they had contained what his mate desired. He nodded. “I believe I can accommodate your wish.”
“You should have some, too. It’s part of the Winter Holiday experience.” He waited to see if Spock would accept the challenge, wondering if his husband felt safe enough with him alone to drink a mildly intoxicating beverage like hot cocoa with him.
“I have agreed to cut down a tree in observance of your traditions, Jim,” Spock reminded him. “I cannot accept that your holiday traditions involve both murder and a state of drunkenness.”
“Well, for some people it might,” Jim admitted. “But it’s never been a requirement in my family.” He would allow Spock to escape his clutches that time. “The Winter Holidays, above all else, are about spending time with those you love. Everything else, even the traditions, doesn’t matter as much to me. I just wanted to share it with you this time because I love you, Spock.”
Spock saw the sincerity in his husband’s eyes and struggled to find the words that would best reciprocate his own tender regard for Jim, but as he finally settled on those that sprang from his homeworld, the high whistle of the tea kettle demanded his attention. The moment shattered with that sound and Jim dropped his hands in silent yet resigned understanding. Spock turned and went to pour tea for himself and the desired hot cocoa for his mate.
They sipped the drinks as they decorated the conquered tree, with Spock trying to place the various ornaments in a precise distance from each other to maximize aesthetic appeal and keep the tree itself equally balanced to prevent it from tipping over with the weight of too many decorations on one side of it. Jim would purposefully disrupt his efforts by randomly placing his favorite ornaments in the places of honor, or where they’ve always hung on the tree in years past. Near the end of their efforts, Spock chose to watch Jim finish hanging the last few ornaments while sipping the last of his tea. Jim proceeded to toss the silvery threads Spock had found all over the tree without much care as to where any of it landed. “You are blocking some of your decorations with the tinsel,” Spock advised.
Jim shot him a playful glance over his shoulder. “Tinsel is to make it look like there’s snow and ice on the tree so it glows when it’s lit.”
Spock blinked in confusion at this nonsensical practice. “Then, would it not have been more appropriate to leave the tree where it had stood outside and let snow and ice naturally occur?”
Jim laughed merrily, but did not respond. He stepped back to admire the tree and their decorating before he sat down next to his husband, snatching up his now cold hot cocoa on the way. “It looked just like this when I was growing up.”
“That is impossible,” Spock countered, stubbornly. “It is not the same tree.”
Jim finished his drink quickly, trying and failing to hide his smile in the mug. “I think we’ll light it tomorrow morning. It looks better when it’s lit.”
After gazing at the tree for a few more minutes, Jim leaned forward to place his empty mug on the table and then stood from the sofa. Spock allowed his mate to lift his empty teacup from his grasp without complaint. When Spock looked up at Jim’s eyes, he saw them aflame with desire as they had been during their dinner. It made his breath catch, knowing precisely what his mate wanted and seeing it so clearly in his expression. “Jim,” he said the name with a breathless sigh.
Jim took a deep breath, charged with arousal. “Come to bed, Mister Spock.” Without waiting for his husband, Jim turned and went to the stairs, leading the way to their bedroom. It seemed that the “soon” Spock had promised his mate had finally arrived.
Spock followed Jim unhurriedly but with equal ardor and intention. He heard Jim bustling in the room quietly and identified the sounds immediately. Jim had turned back the comforter and blankets. He heard clothing sliding off Jim’s body and then landing somewhere – the floor, a chair. It didn’t matter. Spock had a very clear idea of what awaited him in that room just by the sounds. He approached the doorway, feeling similarly to the day he had bonded with Jim, who had informed him that the sensation was one that humans referred to as butterflies.
With only steps away from the open doorway, Spock noticed that the sound of rustling fabric had stopped. He swallowed. With hands he could not seem to steady, Spock began to undo the fastenings of his own clothing. His breathing became audible. He was aroused with the anticipation of joining with his mate. He stepped through the doorway of the room. His fingers stopped their task as he looked at the turned down bed directly in front of him. He jumped as hands came around him from behind and took over the task of undoing his clothes. “Why did you stop?” Jim asked, his voice lower than normal. Spock felt him kiss the fabric covering his shoulder in a wordless promise that those lips would soon touch his bare skin. Spock shivered.
Jim pulled his husband against his chest as he blindly undid Spock’s black traveling robe, sliding it slowly off his shoulders and down his arms until it fell away completely. Jim did not let it fall to the floor, but deliberately tossed it so that it landed safely on the bench at the foot of their bed. His hand immediately returned to Spock’s body the instant he tossed the robe. He gently held his husband’s hipbone in one hand, sneaking his thumb beneath the undershirt Spock wore until he could stroke the cool skin there slowly, teasingly. He was not so patient with his right hand. Jim slid it underneath Spock’s shirt and rested it directly over the location of his husband’s heart, noting that the rhythm had increased. He smiled at the discovery of physical evidence of Spock’s reciprocating arousal. He came closer to Spock, pulling his hips back against him enough so that there would be no mistake of Jim’s desire for him. “I want you,” he told Spock huskily, kissing the same spot on his shoulder through the thinner fabric.
Spock’s respiration became irregular in his excitement. He felt Jim’s desire for him, his craving for him, both physically and telepathically. The multiple sensations overwhelmed his senses. “Jim,” he whispered. “Please.”
Jim released Spock only long enough to peel away the shirt between them. This garment he let fall to the floor. His hands went back to his husband, but this time he worked on freeing Spock from the rest of his clothes. “I’ve wanted you all day.” Spock loosely grasped Jim’s forearms, feeling the muscles moving as they quickly accomplished their task, feeling Jim’s building passion through the contact.
He did not protest or hinder his mate’s hands as they pushed the layers of fabric away from his hips, the experience of those hands sliding against his now bared skin overpowering his senses. He stood as still as he could, his control failing, as Jim kissed his way down his back as the path of his hands forced him lower behind Spock. Spock’s breath stopped when Jim ran his tongue along the lowest sections of his spine. He struggled for a full breath as Jim kissed the skin at his hipbone. When he felt his mate’s teeth possessively mark that same spot, he moaned. “Oh, Jim,” he gasped, reaching down to run his fingers through Jim’s hair and looking down at him tenderly. “Jim.” The look he received as his reward contained a silent promise from his mate. In that moment, Spock knew he would end up on the bed before them, shaking from the aftermath of being overcome with the pleasure Jim intended to give him that night.
Jim smiled wickedly at his husband. Patiently, he helped Spock step out of the pool of fabric at his feet. Once accomplished, he guided his hands on a reverse path they’d just traveled. He pressed kisses along the way as he slowly brought himself to his feet before his husband, not forgetting to linger over Spock’s heart with his lips. Spock held him to his body, but he did not lead Jim nor ask for anything. With their bond, they could feel the responses their touch earned, silent or voiced. Jim recognized that Spock’s desire mirrored his own and he abandoned his attention at his husband’s side to stand at his full height so that he could claim Spock’s lips.
At that contact, Spock could no longer control his passion for his mate. He kissed Jim with equal enthusiasm, eager for him. Jim responded to his cue and took Spock by his shoulders firmly. With the gentle pressure of a lover, but with the authority of one accustomed to command, he pushed Spock back towards the waiting bed. Without pausing in their kisses, Jim helped Spock to lie back, covering him with his body and pressing him down into the soft linens. They both moaned into their kiss as their bodies finally and fully met each other. “I love you,” Jim gasped between kisses.
“Jim, now, please.” Jim shifted his body until he managed to settle himself between the spread legs of his husband. Jim ran his hands down Spock’s chest stopping his descent when he reached his thighs. Licking his lips in barely restrained eagerness, he helped Spock to comfortably situate his legs around his hips. “Please.”
Jim did not obey Spock in that until a long torturous session of teasing his husband and preparing his body to accept him. As he’d suspected, by the time Jim pressed inside of him, Spock lay breathless, shaking, and overwhelmed with the passion his mate had for him and the pleasure he gave him as a result of that passion.
Many hours later, the bondmates were still in bed with their bodies wrapped around one another’s as they slept beneath the heavy comforter and hand-made quilt. The constant vibration against him disturbed Jim’s rest just enough to wake him but not enough to entice him to leave the bed. He loved waking up to Spock purring contentedly in his arms after a particularly passionate evening. When Spock purred, Jim considered it high praise of something he’d done. But when Spock purred in his sleep, Jim took that to mean that Spock was satisfied completely with Jim as his mate, and that he felt comfortable and safe enough with him to reveal his contented state even when unconscious. Spock could lower his shields with Jim and allow himself to be seen as the beautiful person Jim knew him to be, the one that Spock revealed to none other.
Jim tightened his arms around his husband, who was draped halfway over his chest, and kissed Spock’s disheveled hair. Spock moaned softly at his kiss, shifting slightly, but his small vibrations against Jim’s body did not cease. “Jim?” he whispered for his mate’s attention.
“Hmm?” Jim kissed Spock’s hair again, delighting in the way his husband sounded when he just woke up, quiet yet hoarse all at once.
“Is enduring unbearably low temperatures indoors a requirement for me to truly experience the Winter Holidays?”
Jim was immediately awake with that question. He realized that Spock had not been purring against him, but shivering with cold. He tightened his embrace around Spock further and felt the coldness of his husband’s skin. “You’re so cold. Why didn’t you wake me?”
Spock blinked quickly several times, trying in vain to snuggle closer to his mate, desperate for his natural warmth and illogically trying to draw out more than Jim produced. “You were asleep and comfortable. I did not wish to disturb you for my own needs.”
Jim looked at him in mild exasperation. “Sweetheart, if you’re cold, don’t be afraid to tell me, no matter what I’m doing.” He ran his hands down Spock’s back, then back up to his shoulders, trying to coax some warmth back into him. “You’re freezing,” he observed guiltily.
“No, I am only experiencing a slightly lower than—Jim!” He used the embrace he held Spock to his advantage and flipped their positions so that he had him pinned between the mattress and his own body. Jim was colder than normal as well, but his concern was for Spock in that moment. “I am fine.”
Jim grabbed the bedding and pulled it further towards their necks, tucking it tightly around their bodies to keep whatever heat existed beneath the covers from escaping. “I thought Vulcans can’t lie.”
“I am half-Vulcan, as you know.” Spock shivered again beneath him, causing Jim to shift against him, trying to cover him as fully as the blankets.
“Well,” he said to his shivering husband, wrapping his arms tightly around him and rocking against him just to create movement, the end goal being to generate heat between them. In that moment, Jim did not have any intention of making love to him but every intention to keep him warm. “As appealing as staying in bed with you would normally be, we can’t possibly do that.”
Spock shook his head in agreement. “We cannot.” He slid his arms around Jim’s solid torso and pulled him close. “But I would not object to staying like this a little longer.”
Under normal circumstances, Jim would all too eagerly accept that proposal. But not while Spock was clearly freezing and needed a source of heat other than Jim’s body. “If we stay here in bed much longer, you know I won’t be able to resist you for long.”
“I do not wish you to resist me,” Spock said, through clenched teeth to prevent them from chattering in his chilled state.
Jim licked his lips, trying not to give in to his physical desire for him. Spock made that even more difficult to do when he slowly spread his legs and curled them around Jim’s, his eyes pleading. “Spock,” he warned, “That’s a temporary fix. I think the power might’ve gone out while we slept.”
“I will accept a temporary fix, Jim,” Spock insisted, “for now.” He shivered violently again. “Please.”
Jim sighed. “You know I can’t say no to you.” He rested his full weight on Spock and trailed kisses everywhere his lips could reach. Eyebrows, forehead, cheeks, jaw, lips, neck, ears. He used his knees to further spread Spock’s legs for him, and rocked gently against him. He held Spock tightly, keeping as much contact with him as possible, to give him as much of his body heat as possible. Within minutes, Jim pushed into his husband’s body and established a deep, steady, hard rhythm until Spock’s shivering was no longer caused by the cold but by the intensity of their lovemaking. “Is this helping?” he asked. Spock nodded shakily, holding tighter onto Jim. In less time than either of them wished, they reached the pinnacle of their mutual pleasure and grew still once more, kissing lazily between heaving breaths. “Now, while you’re a little warmer, I’m going to see what I can do about the rest of the house.”
He kissed Spock deeply before sliding off the side of the bed, trying not to lift the comforter any more than he had to in order to leave. The cold hit him hard and he shivered. “Stay in that bed, Mister Spock,” he said, using his captain’s voice. “It’s far too cold for Vulcans.” He quickly searched out some clothes and put them on as quickly as possible. He knew Spock liked to watch him dress for duty in the mornings, but Jim could not possibly tease him while he could see his breath in the room. After hurrying into a pair of jeans, he found a long-sleeved t-shirt and pulled it on. The cold went right through it. He quickly slid his arms through a thicker shirt, a red and black plaid shirt, and struggled to fasten the buttons as quickly as possible. Lastly, he grabbed the coat he wore outside to fetch the tree and put that on, too, hoping the thickness would insulate him as well as it had outside. He shoved his feet into his boots and didn’t even bother to lace them.
His footsteps were loud as he went to the thermostat on the far wall. Without really taking note of the set temperature, he slid the dial almost fully to the right, to the highest temperature setting. It would serve as a test. If the cabin didn’t start to heat up, then it would confirm that they were stuck without power. He turned to look at Spock, who still lay nestled beneath the covers, but thankfully not shivering for now. “Don’t leave that bed. You’ll be cold all over again.”
Spock sighed. “I will have to rise eventually.”
Jim nodded. “I know. Let me find you more blankets, first, though. If it’s cold for me, then it’s guaranteed to be too cold for you.” He headed towards the door, but turned back with a grin. “Don’t you move, Mister.”
Spock burrowed himself further into the covers. ”I will not.”
“Be right back,” Jim said, then left in search of the promised blankets. He went systematically through the cabin’s rooms, gathering up all of the blankets he could find. Even as a boy, he remembered his grandmother had often been knitting afghans as she rambled about how it got too cold during winter and she had to do her part to keep everyone warm. So she knitted and knitted and knitted. Every grandchild received a handmade blanket or quilt for the holiday, sometimes also for birthday gifts until she passed away when Jim was eleven years old. Jim longed for the many blankets he had back at his apartment, and the two he brought aboard the Enterprise. But they were in this cabin, and his blankets were not here. He resumed his diligent search. There were three blankets in the guest room, and another draped over the chair in his grandfather’s office. He wandered into the living room and discovered two more, the first decorating the back of the sofa, and the last one accenting the back of the large, antique wingback chair that alsoelonged to his grandfather.
With his arms laden with his prizes, he trudged back up the stairs to the bedroom. “Spock?” he called. “I think this will help you to get—” He stopped talking when he noticed that his husband, practically invisible except for his eyes and his hair sticking out of the covers, had fallen back asleep. Jim smiled at the image and quietly set the pile of blankets on the floor to sort them out. One by one, with patience and care not to wake Spock, Jim managed to lay five blankets on the bed. Only when he draped the last one into place did Spock open his eyes. Jim smiled at him. “I found six extra blankets for you.”
Spock blinked slowly. “It is heavier,” he observed, his voice muffled from the comforter over his mouth. “I am certain it will suffice.”
Jim chuckled to himself. “It’s all the blankets in the house, sweetheart, so it’ll have to do.” He tucked the edges of the blankets a little closer around Spock’s head. “I’m going to go and see if I can make something hot for us to eat.”
“But we do not have power.”
Jim nodded. “True,” he agreed. “But the cabin has a gas stove, not any kind of electric or anything like that. Gas stoves still work without power.”
Jim laughed softly at only being able to see Spock’s eyes and his raised, hopeful eyebrows from under the covers. “So, how does a thick soup sound with lots of vegetables?”
Spock blinked again quickly. “More than adequate,” he said through an emotion he could not fully identify. Jim knew that his actions were touching to Spock, that he appreciated his efforts.
Jim leaned down and kissed his husband’s forehead. “I’ll come get you when it’s ready. You stay here.” Spock watched his mate leave the bedroom, illogically torn between wanting Jim to return to their bed with him and wanting to continue enjoying Jim’s attentiveness towards his comfort. Until Jim, very few had taken his needs or his comfort, into much consideration. Jim’s affection for him overwhelmed him at times. He did not wish to take advantage of it, but he wanted more.
He had not always wanted his captain’s attention, but now that he had it, now that he recognized Jim’s desire to care for him selflessly with honest intentions rather than one who expected a reward. So many others in the past had acted kindly towards him with an expectation of receiving something after the fact. Jim had never expected anything from Spock in return, and it had been that quality that had caught Spock’s interest, then endeared Jim to him, until finally Spock did not wish to lose such a light from his life. After they had melded following a tough mission during which four members of their crew had been slaughtered in front of the captain, Spock realized how easily melding truly was with Jim. Later, in the privacy of Spock’s quarters, he had asked Jim to meld with him again. The captain had agreed without hesitation and Spock had slipped into Jim’s mind effortlessly. Jim’s mind had met his without training or effort in return, and in that meld, both had achieved a sense of peace and serenity which had eluded them individually until that moment. Spock had selfishly not wanted the meld to end. As he withdrew from that mental joining, Jim’s essence had chased after him, refusing Spock’s departure, but Spock had ended their meld anyway despite his own reluctance to do so. After it was over, Spock had felt bereft. He wanted to touch Jim’s mind again. He learned that Jim desired the same thing when he sought entrance to his quarters during the middle of ship’s night. They spoke of ship’s business at first, until Jim had abruptly asked Spock to meld again. Spock had complied, and upon joining with Jim’s mind again, understood the depth of his captain’s feelings for him. More than that, Spock understood his own emotions pertaining to his captain. Spock loved his captain, and Jim loved his first officer.
Two years later, they were on Vulcan, their very minds, bodies, and souls joined together in a marriage bond.
He heard the steps creaking as Jim climbed them. How long had he been lost in thought? The light knock on the doorjamb brought him from his thoughts. “Soup’s ready,” his mate announced. “You okay to brave the cold?” Spock rolled over in the bed, taking some of the covers with him, and effectively bundling himself further in them. Jim smiled at the sight. “Is that a no?”
Spock shook his head. “I am curious as to your culinary inventiveness.”
“Well, lucky for you I am a creative person.”
Spock raised an eyebrow. “And resourceful.”
Jim stepped closer to the bed on which Spock laid smothered in blankets. “Stubborn.”
He sat on the edge of the bed near his husband’s covered body. “And devoted to you.”
Spock lowered the covers away from the rest of his face. He wanted Jim to see the sincerity in his expression, a thing he only revealed to his mate. “As I am to you, Jim.”
Jim smiled softly at Spock. Without letting too much of the cold air into Spock’s warm cocoon, he slipped his hand beneath the mound of blankets on top of his husband and found Spock’s index and middle finger with his own, seeking a Vulcan kiss. “Come on, Mister Spock. No logic in letting your hot meal get cold before you can eat it, right?”
“Indeed not,” he agreed, though could not quite get his body to cooperate to leave the warmth of the bed. Jim understood that reluctance, and removed his coat. “What are you doing?” Spock asked.
Jim didn’t immediately respond, but instead took off his plaid shirt and shoved it under the covers. “It’s already warm from me, so you don’t have to put on something cold.” He took off his undershirt as well and gave that to Spock under the comforter, shivering from the chill of the bedroom, huffing as he exhaled. “No offense, though, but I’m keeping these,” he said, slapping the fabric encasing his thigh meaningfully.
“Jim, you did not have to do—”
“I can warm up faster than you,” he interrupted, already rummaging through more clothes to find some replacements for himself. Spock, underneath the covers, managed to squirm his way into Jim’s warm shirts, illogically emotional at his mate’s care and thoughtfulness for his comfort to the detriment of his own. They had never worn each other’s clothing before. Even though Jim had only worn it for approximately two point six seven hours, the shirt carried his scent. Spock found this comforting, to have Jim’s scent so close to him even though Jim was not physically close to him. He inhaled deeply as he fastened the buttons of the shirt. “Here,” Jim said as he tossed flannel-lined denim trousers onto the bed. “Those will probably be warmest for you.” Spock lowered the blankets enough to quickly snatch up the garment and then dressed beneath the covers hurriedly. After tossing some thick socks at him, Spock slipped those on too.
When he looked up at his mate, determined now that he was dressed, to go and eat something hot, Spock froze in surprise. Jim had just finished slipping on his thick, dark meditation robe. He could see one of his thick tunics beneath that. His mate turned to him with a shy smile, and gestured to his new clothing choice. “I bet you never thought I’d be in Vulcan robes,” he guessed. “But I thought you’d want something of yours to wear later, so…I’ll warm it up for you. Is that alright?”
Spock finally pushed aside the blankets he’d been huddled in and stood from the bed, trying to hide the discomfort of the cold floor finding its way through his socks, and went to Jim. He said nothing, but he could see Jim’s apprehension growing as he came nearer. He found Jim’s nervousness unwarranted. “Thank you,” he said. Spock leaned forward and kissed away his mate’s fear that he had crossed some cultural line by wearing his Vulcan attire for him. He cupped Jim’s jaw and held him there, asking him wordlessly to prolong that connection. Jim happily complied, sliding his hands up Spock’s body, enjoying the feel of his familiar shirt on his husband, until he reached his biceps and grasped them firmly to keep Spock in place. All too soon, they separated. Spock could admit to himself that he was hungry. “I will make tea,” he offered before turning and leaving the bedroom. After Jim had made him something hot to eat, making tea was the least Spock could do in return.
“I don’t suppose I could persuade you to try some hot cocoa, could I?” Jim asked, following him down the stairs.
Spock glanced over his shoulder. “Perhaps.”
The smell of the soup directed Spock, even though he knew the location of the small kitchen. Having already prepared tea last evening, Spock knew precisely what to do and where the required tools were kept. It felt strange yet comforting to be preparing tea while in Jim’s clothes. His legs were still cold, but his upper body, in the pre-warmed shirts carried almost the same sensation as trying to accomplish simple tasks while encased by his mate’s arms. It made his lips curl upwards at the corners with pleasure.
Jim settled them on the sofa in order to eat, claiming the wooden chairs at the table would be too cold for Spock, who did not argue and allowed him to dictate their survival tactics. He made sure Spock nestled himself comfortably on the cushions then darted back up the stairs without a word. Seemingly seconds later, a thick blanket billowed over his head from behind the sofa to drape over his body. Spock wrestled with it until he could satisfactorily move his arms freely so he could eat. After he accomplished this, Jim handed him his bowl of soup and joined him there.
They ate in relative silence, Jim watching Spock carefully for signs of growing colder the entire time. Spock relished in the sensation of being warmed from the inside by the soup. The heat blossomed in his chest and he sighed contentedly. His face was still very cold, but his body was slowly regaining heat. He knew that a significant factor in his personal comfort lay solely with his bondmate. Having eaten, had tea, and being warm, Spock felt sleepy contentedness tempt him. He barely felt the empty bowl gently taken from his hands, or Jim slowly coax him into lying across the couch, his head pillowed by his mate’s thigh. Spock did, however, feel Jim’s fingers stroking his hair, encouraging him to sleep. He did not remember even closing his eyes.
He had no idea how he did it, but Jim managed to extricate himself from the sofa, and get a throw pillow under Spock’s head, all without waking him up. He took their dishes into the kitchen and piled them near the sink as quietly as he could. Wearing Spock’s thick Vulcan robes had been a good idea. They were incredibly warm. He wondered how Lady Amanda would react to a request for some of his own. No doubt she would smile knowingly and politely say nothing but make sure someone carried out her son-in-law’s request.
The garments were warm, but nothing took away a chill like a hot drink during the cold times. He turned on the stovetop to heat up some more water, this time to make some hot cocoa. He looked back to the sofa, glad that Spock slept so deeply bundled in the blanket on the sofa. Perhaps the misery of being without power would pass quicker if he slept through it, even though it had not been the way in which Jim intended to share their time alone together. He turned back to the stove, keeping an eye on the kettle to turn it off before the high whistle shrieked and inevitably woke his husband up. As he turned the flame off when the water was hot enough, Jim suddenly had an idea.
It would simply involve as many large pans as he had in the cabin to do it.
When he reached the halfway point in accomplishing his mission, Jim crept over to his still sleeping husband, and gently ran his hands through the short black hair. “Sweetheart,” he whispered, crouching beside the sofa to be at Spock’s eyelevel. Spock shifted in his sleep, the collar of Jim’s plaid shirt sticking up oddly out of the blankets. “Come back to the land of the living, Spock,” he teased. Spock stubbornly jammed his face back into the knitted yarn like a turtle retreating back into his shell. Jim laughed softly at the image Spock made. “Wake up,” he said through his amusement. Finally, Spock opened his eyes and peeked above the edge of the blankets. “There you are,” Jim said unnecessarily. “Come on.”
Spock groaned. “I do not wish to move, Jim. I am quite comfortable where I am.”
Jim smiled and carded his fingers through Spock’s hair again, earning a soft sigh for it. “You can’t stay on the couch the whole day.”
“There is no reason why I cannot,” Spock said stubbornly.
“How about that your bondmate just spent almost an hour making a hot bath possible for you?” He knew he would have no hope of convincing Spock to move if he didn’t tell him a good reason. But with Spock’s Vulcan heritage, that much water used solely for bathing had been considered either a waste or a luxury. He hoped Spock didn’t think it a wasted effort or resources. “Isn’t it illogical to refuse such a gift from your husband, sa-telsu?” He used the Vulcan term purposefully, knowing what reaction Spock experienced when Jim decided to speak in Vulcan with him. It had taken him many years of practice, but Jim learned the important things to say in Vulcan.
“It is the height of illogic,” Spock mumbled into the blanket.
“And are you illogical?” Jim asked with a victorious smile, already knowing he had won this battle.
“I am not.”
Jim stood up and headed back to the kitchen where another large pot of water probably waited for him to take into the bathroom. “Go to the master bath, Spock. I’ll be right there.” He heard Spock shuffle out of the living room in his blanket-jacket. Jim didn’t mind the thickness of Spock’s Vulcan robes, but the sleeves were cumbersome for him and difficult to work around. He’d been terrified of setting the sleeves on fire or spilling hot cocoa or boiling water onto them that he paid more attention to the damn sleeves than what he did most of the time. Somehow, though, he’d managed multiple trips to the bathtub and back with the huge pots of water. He still had many other trips to go before the tub could be considered filled. He hefted up the next heavy pot and followed his husband into the master bathroom. By the time he got there, Spock hesitantly tested the temperature of the water with his foot, even while still wrapped tightly in the blankets. Jim poured the water he carried into the tub and set the pot down on the floor so he could approach his husband.
He parted Spock’s protective layer of blankets and let them drape over his Vulcan’s shoulders. Glancing at Spock’s eyes for a moment of permission, and upon seeing it, Jim undid the buttons of his shirt that Spock wore, giving him little choice but to commit to getting in the tub. “Will you join me, Jim?” Spock asked, his voice rough and bashfully hopeful.
Jim shook his head. “Eventually,” he said. “I have a few more pots heating up yet. So I’ll put those in, get four more going, and when it stops being warm enough for you, then I’ll get in.”
Spock frowned. “I meant together.”
Jim looked up at him then, flashing his confident and clever grin. “If we’re both in there, then who’ll keep bringing the hot water in?”
Spock sighed. “You do not have to go to this much trouble to ensure my comfort.” He shrugged the blankets away from his shoulders and pulled off the plaid shirt.
He stopped Spock’s undressing with his hands. “Spock, it’s not troubling to me. I want to do this for you. I don’t want you to be uncomfortable here.”
Spock removed the long-sleeved undershirt. “You had no control over the loss of this structure’s power sources.” He undid and stepped out of the warm jeans.
Jim smiled sadly. Clearly, Spock did not quite understand his motivation, his desire to feel needed by his husband. Jim enjoyed caring for Spock just as much as Spock enjoyed caring for him. Sometimes, Spock forgot that about Jim. He caught his husband’s hands in his and stepped directly up to him. “But it is in my power to make sure you are warm and don’t freeze because of it. I’d be failing if I chose to ignore what you need right now. I wouldn’t deserve you if I didn’t care for you. Do you understand?”
Spock stared at Jim for a long moment, seemingly unaffected by the frigidness of the air around them. He could clearly see the need in Jim’s eyes, the sincerity behind his words, the love he held for him by putting Spock’s needs before his own. The realization made him incapable of speech, but he managed a single, sharp nod. Jim sighed in relief at being understood. “So, let me help you,” he requested.
Spock willed his own rigidity away and allowed Jim to help him into the hot water of the waiting tub. The drastic temperature difference made him hiss as he sunk into the water, but he could not deny that the heat felt glorious. He situated himself quickly in the tub, sliding lower to get more of his body beneath the surface. He sighed when he felt the tension of his muscles ease and his body relaxed in the water. The sensations and calming heat of the bath distracted Spock to such a degree that he had not even heard Jim leave the bathroom until he returned, grasping another large pot of water, the steam billowing from the top of it. With a shy smile, Jim slowly poured it into the tub in which Spock reclined, carefully making sure the new very hot stream of water was not aimed directly over any part of Spock’s body. Spock felt a renewed burst of heat with the added water and it made him sigh contentedly. “Feels good, right?” Spock nodded in reply to his mate. This hot bath, despite the freezing temperature in the rooms, proved a superior idea. He looked at Jim, pleased to see the pleasure evident in his face at Spock’s enjoyment of what he had prepared for him. He lifted his arm from the water and extended the first two fingers of his hand toward Jim. With a soft smile, his mate returned the gesture and touched their fingers in the ozh’esta of the Vulcan people.
However, a moment later, Jim completely destroyed the propriety in that gesture by curling his fingers around Spock’s, leaning forward and scandalously kissing the back of his husband’s hand. Such a demonstrative act of affection would have been completely inappropriate on Vulcan, especially in public. Even alone with his mate, Spock could not stop himself from blushing at the action. His flushed cheeks only made Jim’s smile widen.
All too soon for Spock’s liking, Jim released him and picked up the empty pot from the floor as he departed the room. Spock watched him go, and illogically wanted to persuade Jim to return so that he could join him. He regretted that his biology made him unaccustomed to the cold in such a way that it slowly ruined his mate’s enjoyment of their Winter Holiday time together. He sighed as he pointlessly wished he were not both Vulcan and Human, but rather one or the other. In that moment, he desired to be more Human so that he did not cause his mate to worry for him because he was too cold, so that Jim could relax during their leave instead of bustle around the cabin to keep him comfortable, so that he could be a more compatible bondmate.
“What are you thinking so hard about?”
Spock gasped as Jim spoke beside him. He had not heard him return. And he had not poured more water into the tub to warn him of his arrival into the bathroom. “It is nothing.”
Jim frowned and picked up the new pot of water and poured it into the tub. The action only made Spock feel even guiltier. He ducked his head to hide his face from Jim, hoping he would not notice him biting his lip with his worry. “You’re upset,” Jim stated. Sometimes, Spock disliked Jim’s intuition. It usually proved accurate. “Is it the power being out?” he guessed. “Would you rather leave and go back to the apartment in San Fran?”
Spock shook his head. His mate was only partially correct, but he did not wish to leave the cabin. “No, I prefer to remain here.”
Jim perched himself on the edge of the opulent tub. “I know it’s not the best place right now, but I’m trying to make you comfortable and—”
“I wish you would not.”
That brought Jim up short. Of all the things he expected Spock to say during this conversation, asking him not to take care of him had been among the last. He swallowed the lump in his throat, not knowing what to say anyway.
He stood and went into the bedroom. He took off Spock’s robes that he had been warming up with his body and shoved them between the sheet and the comforter of the bed. He quickly gathered a full change of clothes for himself, plus some extra layers for Spock before pushing them alongside of the robes. When they went to bed later, their heat would not only keep each other warm, but it would also warm up the clothes they would wear the next day. Jim gathered yet another change of clothes for the both of them before he returned to the bathroom.
Spock slumped in the tub with his head hung low, and his eyes vacantly staring into the steaming water. He did not even look up at Jim’s return. He didn’t let that dissuade him. With practiced efficiency, Jim stripped and approached his husband. “Spock?” he whispered. He traced the shell of his husband’s ear with his fingertip in a way that could be interpreted as a Vulcan kiss. “When we first came in here, you wanted me to join you. Do you still want that?”
For a long moment, Spock did not respond. Just when Jim decided he should leave him in peace, Spock shifted in the water, sitting up and moving to the center of the tub. He did not need to verbally respond. Jim understood the clear invitation. He stepped into the tub and slid into the hot water until he had his legs on either side of his husband’s body. Jim got comfortable and leaned back against the tub, draping his arms over the edges. He sighed as he felt the heat of the water relax his sore muscles. He’d been on his feet the whole day, and carrying huge pots of water he hadn’t planned on to make this bath happen. He closed his eyes to maximize his relaxation.
But he opened them moments later when he heard the water sloshing and felt Spock turning enough to face him in their confining space. He waited until Spock was ready to talk. “I wish to apologize,” he said, miserably.
“This is not how you intended our time together to progress. I have been less than amiable today, and you have spent your time ensuring my comfort. I have not shown gratitude for that.” Spock looked at him then. “But you must know that I am grateful. I do not intend to dismiss your attention and care. I am—” Spock seemed to struggle with the correct word. “—may never be accustomed to someone truly caring for me.”
Jim reached out for his husband, asking Spock to come to him. After staring at his hands in silence for ten point three seconds, Spock turned in the water again, facing away from Jim, and slowly leaned backwards. Jim caught him and enfolded him with his arms, pulling Spock’s back against his chest and held him there. Spock’s hands slowly rose from the water to cover Jim’s in return. “I am sorry, Jim.”
Jim tightened his embrace and pressed a soft kiss where his husband’s ear met his jaw. “You have no reason to be,” he said into the damp skin there.
They stayed in the water until the heat began to noticeably cool away, then carefully and gently bathed each other’s bodies, running their hands worshipfully across the other’s skin, kissing their favorite places or areas that always sparked pleasure in the other. By the time, they finally emerged from the tub, the water could no longer be considered hot, or even barely warm.
Jim silently led his husband into the bedroom while they were still wrapped in towels, both of them not even bothering to dress. They slid beneath the covers together. When Jim opened his arms to Spock, his husband did not hesitate to fold his body into his mate’s embrace. They slept, despite the cold of their cabin, soothed by the love for each other they felt in their marriage bond. For Spock’s sake, Jim hoped the power would come back tomorrow.
That hope went unfulfilled by the time they rose from their bed the next morning. Jim impressed himself with his stealth skills as he accomplished the seemingly impossible task of disentangling himself from Spock, get out of the bed, and blindly feeling around in the covers for which items among the pre-warmed bundle of clothes belonged to him so he could wear them and not be cold. By the time he dressed, those clothes felt amazingly toasty. With another glance at Spock, he made his way into the kitchen to make them both a warm breakfast.
He settled on a hearty vegetable quiche. After all, the eggs would have kept even if he’d left them on the countertop the night before with how cold the place had gotten since they lost power. He made some tea for Spock, but he needed the comfort of marshmelons and hot cocoa that morning.
“You have risen early,” Spock said from behind him.
Jim turned and smiled, happy to see Spock looking semi-comfortable with his heavy Vulcan robes on. He’d obviously found them in the covers when he woke up. Putting them in the bed to warm them up had been a good decision. “I knew breakfast might take a little while today.”
Spock inhaled deeply through his nose. “What have you made?”
Jim lifted the tea strainer from the brew and set it aside, then offered the finished tea to Spock. “Well, I made you tea to start off with.” Spock accepted it, cradling the cup in both hands, seeking its heat. Jim did not draw attention to it, not after last night. “And I thought we could have quiche.” He flashed a satisfied smile at his husband. “You’ve always liked my quiche.”
Spock sipped his tea before replying. “I do. You are an excellent cook.”
Jim’s smile glowed from the flattery. “Why thank you, Mister Spock.”
“But you are a far better starship captain, Captain.”
Jim opened the oven and slid a butter knife into the quiche. Not quite done. He closed the door and leaned against the counter. “Not here, though. Here I am just Jim Kirk.”
“Then I am just Spock.”
“Come here,” Jim said. Spock barely took two steps before Jim met him. Spock lifted his tea out of danger as his mate held him to his chest for one moment, then kissed him soundly the next. “Good morning.”
“Good morning, Jim.”
Spock could not contain his delight in the taste of the quiche as they ate. He preferred when Jim cooked between the two of them. Spock’s culinary skills, while always precise and to the recipes, were not terribly inventive. Jim could look into their food storage unit, even when it seemed like there could not possibly be enough to make a meal for one person, and somehow accomplish the impossible of creating a meal for both of them that burst with flavor and filled their stomachs. Spock admired him for that skill. However, because he tended to strictly follow a text recipe, Jim insisted that Spock bake more than he did. Baking required more precision, more discipline, and Jim convinced Spock that he was ideal for those occasions. Cooking, on the other hand, remained open to taste and personal flair – both of which Jim had in abundance. Put simply, Jim enjoyed cooking a great deal, and Spock would consume anything his mate prepared with the sole exception of meat.
They passed the afternoon reading on the sofa. The options for activities were limited, and both of them were on leave. They rarely could read for leisure while aboard the Enterprise, despite both possessing several novels and texts they intended to read during their off-duty hours. Time and responsibilities did not always permit them that luxury. On most occasions, they could barely focus on a game of chess because they were still discussing ship’s business even when battling each other in a simulated game of strategy.
Spock looked over to Jim at one point during their mutual reading and noticed that Jim had fallen asleep, his head angled to the ceiling against the back cushions of the sofa. At the sight of his mate so tired that he could not enjoy his reading, Spock felt the first sting of guilt that day. Jim had been working constantly since their arrival. He’d made all of their meals, slowly heated a bath solely for Spock’s sake, kept him bundled in blankets, had the idea of sleeping with a change of clothes in their bed so they would not have to dress into cold attire when they got out of their warmth of their blankets. He had even gone outside to cut down a tree because it was a Human tradition to do so. Spock had not contributed too much to their leave. He did not want Jim to feel that Spock had taken advantage of his mate’s kindness.
Spock closed his book and rose from the sofa. He lifted Jim’s open book from his hands, inserted the old-fashioned bookmark, and set it on the nearby end table. Thinking of what Jim would do in that moment had Spock been the one asleep, he grabbed one of the nearby blankets his mate had tucked around him when they sat down and gently covered Jim with it, being extra careful to tuck the edges in as well. Just like Jim had done for him.
He wandered into the kitchen, holding the ends of the blanket together around him as he went, in order to make himself some tea. After he turned on the kettle, he noticed the tin canister sitting next to his tea glass jar of tea leaves. He opened it and the powerful, rich scent of cocoa powder assaulted his olfactory senses. He looked back to Jim asleep on the sofa, thinking once more how Jim had done so much to make Spock content during this leave so far while Spock had done very little. Jim had expressed a hope of Spock drinking some hot cocoa. Since both of them knew what cocoa, in actuality sugar, did to Vulcan inhibitions, Jim had never pressured him to do anything, at least after Spock had refused adamantly. But he had tried to get him to drink hot cocoa several times since Spock had first witnessed Jim drinking it. Perhaps, while Spock did not particularly desire to lose control of his inhibitions, seeing him finally drink it would make Jim happy. And Jim had put so much effort into making Spock content during the entire leave since their bonding. If he could not drink one beverage to please his mate, how satisfactory could he be in their partnership?
Before he realized he had done it, Spock had transferred three heaping spoonfuls of cocoa mix into a large mug. He repeated the process with a second mug, Jim’s mug. He recalled that Jim piled tiny marshmelons on the top of his beverage. Quickly locating them, he set the container near his workstation and waited for the water to finish heating on the stove. Just before the whistle began to sound, he snuffed the flame and finished preparing the hot cocoa. Having no real concept of just how many marshmelons to put in the beverage after he stirred the mix fully into the water, Spock grabbed a generous handful for Jim’s mug, and a slightly less generous handful for his own, and added them to the drinks.
He carried them over to the sofa. Jim stared at him, having clearly just woken up. “I wondered for a moment where you went.” He accepted the mug from his husband and smiled at the near overflowing mound of marshmelons. “You gave me some bonus ones there.”
Spock sat beside him. “I do know how much you enjoy marshmelons in your hot cocoa.”
Jim noticed that Spock did not have tea in his mug. “Spock, did you—are you? You’re trying some?”
“I would think that is obvious, Jim.”
Jim beamed at him, his teeth showing in his joy, and the mirth shining in his eyes. “I never thought you’d be willing to try it.”
Spock hoped Jim would understand what he did not say. “I understood that it would please you. And it is logical to please one’s mate, is it not?”
Jim nodded, reaching over to rest his hand on Spock’s thigh comfortingly. “But not when it doesn’t also please you. I don’t want you to be unhappy with me, or do something for me because you feel like you have to or that I would want you to do it.” Jim squeezed his leg briefly before holding the mug in both hands to take a sip. His eyes widened in surprise. “Wow, how much did you put in?”
Spock had taken his first sip at the same time as Jim. He found the flavor remarkably intense. “I believe I placed three large spoonfuls into each of our mugs.”
He expected Jim to laugh, and grew slightly concerned when he did not. “Spoonfuls? No measurements, Science Officer?” he asked teasingly, though Spock knew the question to be sincere. It was true. Typically, he would have provided exact measurements. That he had not done so unnerved him as it had apparently unnerved his mate.
To cover up his blunder, Spock took another long sip of the flavorful drink. He suspected he would suffer the effects of it soon. “Is it poorly constructed?”
“No,” Jim denied it immediately. “It’s very…rich, though. Stronger than I normally make it.” He tried to offer an encouraging smile. “I like it. But I imagine for you this would be like drinking three or four shots of Scotty’s precious whiskey within two seconds for me.”
Spock did not understand the comparison as quickly as he had hoped. Perhaps the drink had already begun to affect him. “Then I am in error,” he concluded. “Perhaps I should not make this beverage again.”
Jim’s hand settled back on his thigh and Spock stared at the point of contact. “I didn’t say that,” Jim clarified. “I simply meant, well, I guess what I’m trying to ask is: Can you handle it, Commander?”
In answer, Spock took a very long, slow sip of the hot cocoa.
And promptly closed his eyes as his senses spiraled out of his control. This was a mistake, but it was a delicious mistake. Spock took another sip of the smooth liquid. When he lowered his mug, his attention fixated on the decorated pine tree in the corner of the room. Before he could stop himself, he spoke words he did not mean to voice. “The effort we put into the tree has been wasted.”
Jim put his mug down, realizing that Spock had been affected very quickly by the hot cocoa. “What are you saying?”
Spock stared at the tree. He felt an irritation that he did not understand. “If it could not serve its traditional purpose as an illuminated decoration then the effort to bring it into this cabin has been for nothing as we cannot properly illuminate it without source of power for it.” He gazed morosely into his drink. “I would have liked to see your tree lit, Jim. You said the aesthetic is improved when it is illuminated. But we cannot do so. Therefore, we have cut down a tree for no practical purpose.”
Jim looked at his husband, now obviously a bit past the level of tipsy, and then he looked to the tree. His lips parted as a thought hit him. He did not even bother to tell Spock about it, because he may not remember this conversation by the time he recovered from his near-drunken state. Without a word, Jim stood from the sofa and went to the tree.
Spock watched in complete confusion as Jim strode over to their decorated tree. Confusion turned to horror as Jim started to remove ornaments from the branches, ornaments they had painstakingly placed on it last night. “Jim, what are you doing?” he exclaimed.
“Fixing something,” was Jim’s vague answer.
Spock’s chest tightened in panic. He had said something that triggered this reaction in his mate. He had displeased him. What had he said wrong? He put down the mug and got to his feet, swaying a little but steadying himself with a hand on the back of the sofa. “I repeat, what are you doing?”
“Nothing, just sit back down.”
Jim ignored him. Jim did not look at him. When Jim did not look at him during conversation, it typically implied that he was angry or irritated with him. Spock disliked those instances intensely. “I have said something to anger you. Whatever it was, I did not intend to offend you.”
“It’s fine, Spock,” Jim growled.
Spock could not hide his distress. He approached Jim in as direct a path as he could manage. He placed a firm hand on his shoulder. “Please do not dismantle our work. I apologize for what I have said.”
Jim let the handful of tinsel he held fall to the floor so that he could steady Spock by his shoulders. “Spock, it’s okay. This is not a bad thing.”
Spock slumped in misery. Even when clearly unhappy with him, Jim denied that unhappiness as being Spock’s fault. He did not deserve Jim as his mate. “I have ruined your Winter Holiday,” he admitted. “I am sorry.”
Jim froze at those words and stared sadly at his husband. “No!” he sighed softly. “Don’t say that, Spock. You didn’t ruin anything. It’s fine. Things just don’t always go according to plan. Like some of our missions,” he added helpfully. “All of them don’t go the way we want them, but we adapt, we make do with what we have.” Spock looked at him hopelessly. “That’s what we’re doing now. We’re adapting to still have an enjoyable leave with each other.”
Spock shook his head. “I have failed to adapt thus far, and it has led to this.”
“Spock, you haven’t failed.”
Spock lowered his gaze. “Please do not let my foolishness lead you to removing the tree you very much wanted in this house. I do not want to cause you any unhappiness.”
Jim gently forced his husband to look into his eyes. “If you don’t know by now that no one has made me happier than you, then the failure lies with me in not telling you or showing you.”
Spock did not believe him. Not in that moment. “Please do not continue to dismantle your tree,” he begged him. “Not because of me.”
Jim sighed. “It’s for you that I’m doing this.”
Confusion overwhelmed him. He did not know what to say.
Jim took advantage of Spock’s speechlessness and turned him around. Leading him by the shoulders, he guided Spock towards the stairs. “Now, you’re a little drunk, sweetheart. I know you didn’t mean to be, but I think the best thing for you would be to sleep it off for a little while, okay?”
“Do not distract me,” Spock said petulantly. “I am a Vulcan. We are not easily distracted.”
“Yes, and you’re my Vulcan, and my husband, and my first officer, and also my science officer. I need him in top form.” Jim thought that if he teased Spock, the chances of him cooperating might improve.
“And I am not functioning at peak efficiency. That is what you are indicating?”
Jim nodded, pushing Spock further towards the stairs leading to the bedroom. “Right. And in order for someone to regain their peak efficiency, what should that someone do?”
Spock knew that only one answer would do. “Rest.”
“Right, Spock. So, as you are someone not functioning at your best right now, what should you do?”
Spock sighed in defeat. He had been outmaneuvered. Like when Jim would defeat him in chess, Spock ended up tipping his king glumly, then immediately demand a rematch. They were terribly alike in that both of them did not enjoy losing a battle of wits and strategy. He had to yield to his victorious opponent in that moment. He blamed his overindulgence in the hot cocoa. “I should rest.”
Jim smiled at him adoringly. “Then get to it, Mister.” He watched Spock climb the first three steps before he turned back around and went back to what he had been doing.
Spock, meanwhile, had eventually made it to the bedroom. He could not be certain, but as he’d gone up the stairs, he thought he heard something being dragged on the floor downstairs, followed by a door opening. After that, he heard nothing. Spock pushed open the door of the bedroom and stared at the very inviting and large bed. He stumbled to its edge, and climbed onto it fully clothed. He wormed his way under the covers and almost immediately slipped into unconsciousness.
A soft kiss to his lips brought him out of sleep. He opened his eyes when he felt his mate’s fingers in his hair, pushing his bangs away from his forehead. Jim sat on the edge of the bed, a soft smile stretching his lips, and love gentling his eyes. “Come with me, Spock.”
“Jim, I—” Fingers against his lips stopped his words. Jim reached down and took Spock’s hand, pulling him up and leading him from the bed. With Spock standing there, he grabbed the thick comforter and wrapped it around Spock’s shoulders. He smiled as he looked him over. It was not just anyone who got to see a Vulcan bundled up in a blanket. The sight was positively endearing. Without a word, Jim left the bedroom and stood just outside of the door waiting for him.
They went downstairs and as soon as they reached the halfway point on the stairs, Spock could feel a difference in the ambient temperature. Surely he imagined it. Then he heard something crack and hiss. “Jim?” His mate, who looked tired yet happy, looked back at him with a smile. He gestured to the living room with a sweep of his hand.
The sight that greeted Spock stole his breath momentarily. The furniture had been repositioned that allowed for maximum open space in the middle of the living area. The coffee table had been shoved against a wall, while the chairs, sofa, and end table had been pushed back to further widen the floorspace. Occupying that open area was a haphazard arrangement of several blankets and many pillows. Jim had often described what camping out entailed, especially regarding the sleeping necessities, but Spock had never seen what his mate had spoken of until that moment. But, the impromptu bedding did not capture his attention most of all. That honor went to the light and the heat and the rustic noises coming from the blazing fireplace. He turned to his captain, his friend, and his mate, overwhelmed with emotion. “Jim,” he whispered his name as though he were incapable of saying anything else.
Jim understood and recognized the overload of gratitude radiating from Spock. He went to him, coaxed open the comforter from around Spock’s body and nestled himself against the Vulcan’s body. Spock wrapped him both in his arms and the comforter. “I hope you’re amenable to sleeping where it’s warmest in the house.” Spock nodded. Jim allowed Spock to hold him for a few minutes longer before slowly stepping out of his arms. “Then, come on,” he said. “Let’s get comfortable by the fire.”
Spock walked over to the pile of blankets and pillows after Jim’s lead. Jim lay down on the thick mound of impromptu bedding and shifted about until he was comfortable. He looked at Spock out of the corner of his eye. “You coming, Mister Spock?”
Spock unwrapped himself from the comforter and joined Jim on their makeshift bed, pulling the heavy duvet over both of them as he lay beside his mate. He began to position himself in his typical manner, half-draped across Jim’s chest with his head nestled in the space between shoulder and neck, but Jim stopped him from fully settling. Spock looked at him questioningly. Jim kissed him briefly before he directed him to lie on his right side, facing the fireplace. “After all the work I put into this, I want you to enjoy it and warm yourself up.”
Spock settled onto his side as Jim wanted, watching the hypnotic flames in front of them. Jim’s arm slipped around him as he scooted close to him, only growing still when Jim’s entire front pressed comfortingly and possessively against Spock’s back. Spock crept his fingers up until they found Jim’s hand. Soothed by the rhythm of the fire, Spock lazily traced patterns on the back of Jim’s hand and fingers, teasing him with light and playful kisses. “Where did you get the firewood?” he asked.
Jim smiled against Spock’s neck. “Well, I decided to put the tree to a more logical and practical use.” Spock understood his meaning only after a brief delay. When he did, he craned his neck to look over his shoulder at Jim, who looked quite pleased with himself. “Besides, I told you it would look better lit up.” He nodded to the fireplace meaningfully. Spock had no argument for that claim. Jim snuggled closer to his husband. “Feels better too,” he murmured into Spock’s hair.
Spock relaxed quickly as he stared into the fire his mate had built to keep him warm in this freezing, powerless cabin. He pressed back against Jim, who simply tightened his embrace around him, and whispered a nearly inaudible, “Love you,” against his skin. Spock felt his eyelids grow heavy under the calming hypnosis of the fire. Without realizing he did it, his chest rumbled rhythmically. The sensation vibrated against Jim, who refused to make the same assumption twice. “Are you shivering, sweetheart?”
“No,” Spock sighed. “I am quite content.”
Comprehension dawned on Jim a moment later. “So, you’re purring this time.”
Jim chuckled to himself. He kissed Spock’s neck, one of the only places he could reach with his lips at the moment. Both were too comfortable and too tired to move more than absolutely necessary. Jim settled for chasing Spock’s fingers with his own while he held his husband in his arms, trying to seek out as many Vulcan kisses as he could steal. Soon enough, Jim lost the energy to maintain the chase and chose instead to hold Spock against him. Just as he fell asleep he heard Spock’s voice, though he couldn’t be sure if it were in the room or in his head. “Thank you.” They slept comfortably and peacefully in each other’s embrace, nestled against each other, close to the warm fire.
They could not have predicted that the power would be restored to the cabin as they slept, and that the thermostat Jim had set for the highest it could reach would cause him to wake up roasting hot, soaking with sweat, and uncomfortable. In the end, Spock had the opportunity to return the attentiveness Jim had shown him when he had been freezing. Spock did not waste a single moment in taking care of his cherished bondmate and providing for his comfort.
The first thing he proposed was to request that Jim teach him how to properly construct a biped made of snow.