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The first time couldn’t be blamed on anyone. The world that Captain Kirk was currently on had never heard of Jesus or Bethlehem, or holly and ivy, or one horse open sleighs. It had never heard of Earth, or of humans, or of any of their multifarious religious celebrations. It was doubtful it had ever even heard of snow…

Christmas was not foremost in Jim Kirk’s mind at that moment either, crouched as he was behind a half-shattered concrete wall, phaser in hand, with the heat of a desert sun beating down upon his back and desiccated weed-like plants crumbling under his boots.

Another volley of weapons fire hit the wall and he ducked instinctively, even though his head was already well down. Shards of concrete splintered off from the force of the energy striking the barrier before him, peppering his face like tiny darts. He wiped his hand across his cheek and saw blood on his knuckles, and he swore under his breath.

‘Captain, may I suggest – ’

Spock’s voice was ridiculously calm in the face of the noise and the chaos around them. Kirk couldn’t see him, but he could feel him, so close to him he was almost touching, angled to cover the captain from behind while Kirk concentrated on the rubble-strewn street in front of them.

‘If you’re going to suggest I should leave Bones in there – ’ Kirk began heatedly.

His narrowed gaze on the building opposite never faltered, and his hand remained steady on his phaser, despite his clipped, tense tone of voice.

‘Nothing of the sort, Captain,’ Spock said in a low voice that managed to cut through the blasting gunfire better than a shout. ‘I was about to suggest that you allow me to make an attempt at crossing to the building opposite. I am considerably faster and more – ’

‘Not for a moment, Spock,’ Kirk said decisively. ‘It’s my responsibility. I sent him in there. It’s my job to get him out.’

‘Dr McCoy volunteered to attend the casualties,’ Spock pointed out. ‘No one expected the situation to escalate to the point of a hostage situation.’

‘If we can just get in there and bring down the force field we can beam them all straight up.’

‘Agreed,’ Spock nodded. ‘But there is very little ‘just’ about that scenario. May I suggest that we both go, Jim. If you take the left hand course and I cut to the right I should think that one of us might make it to the building. Their fire is continuous but not thick. I don’t think they have many sentries.’

‘All right,’ Kirk said after a moment. ‘All right, but if you get hurt I’ll – ’

‘I’m sure you will do your best for me, as we are now doing for the good doctor,’ Spock said rationally.

‘All right,’ Kirk said again. ‘On my mark, then. Three, two – ’

‘Jim,’ Spock interrupted, and Kirk stopped in amazement, turning as Spock turned so they were finally facing one another. Spock leant forward just enough to plant a kiss on Jim’s lips, and said in a very low voice, ‘Good luck.’

‘I didn’t think luck was for Vulcans,’ Jim replied with a quick smile.

‘No,’ Spock said. ‘It is for you.’

‘Good luck, Spock,’ Jim said. ‘Three, two, one – go!’

As they split and both tore out across the rubble littered street, weapons fire erupted around them with fresh anger. Jim zigged and zagged, aware of the blue flash of Spock’s tunic off to his right and trying not to look at him. He could only concentrate on the path he needed to take, and on avoiding the hot streams of fire that were coming far too close for comfort. As he ducked and rolled behind a half-demolished wall on the other side of the street he suddenly remembered that this was Christmas Day.

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