DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Kiristeen ke Alaya and is copyright (c) 2001 by Kiristeen ke Alaya. Rated PG13.



Four Christmas

Kiristeen ke Alaya



Spock walked off the Bridge at his usual, even measured pace. Once inside the turbolift, he allowed his mind to turn to subjects other than his duty. Most of the ship's complement was gearing up to celebrate Christmas. The day of the celebration was still two weeks away, but even now bright decorations were appearing in the corridors and lifts. Several of these seasonal parties had come and gone while he'd served on board the Enterprise.

In the past he'd limited his involvement in this Terran holiday to giving gifts to the captain and the doctor and to 30 minutes spent at the party. This year was the first he wished to actively participate to a greater degree. He had already purchased their gifts and had them wrapped, tagged and hidden in his quarters. He was at something of a dilemma though. He had no idea what kind of gift to get for Christine.

He was due to meet her, Captain Kirk, and Doctor McCoy in the officer's lounge in ten minutes. He would have just enough time to get there on time, if he was quick. The fact that his shift replacement had been late relieving him was the cause of this need to hurry. He, however, had not bothered to remark on the man's late arrival. It had been a matter of only 1.46 minutes, and taking the time to point out his tardiness would have taken more time than it was worth, besides, one had to allow a certain amount of leeway when dealing with humans.

"Deck 5, officer's quarters."

In the aftermath of returning to the ship and his encounter with V'Ger, he was grateful for Christine's willingness to 'give him a second chance'. She had no logical reason to do so, considering his rather undignified retreat the last time they'd become ... involved and for once in his life he was ... glad of the illogical nature of humans.

The pace she set this time, however, was even slower than the one he had set the first time around. While he logically understood the need, there was a part of him that desired a quicker return to what they had achieved before he left for Gol. His encounter with V'Ger had forever altered his perception of what was 'proper' behavior for him and two months after the fact he was still acclimatizing himself to it. It felt ... right, but that did not make a lifetime worth of training easily overcome.

His world, while a more ... comfortable one within himself because he no longer fought so hard to prevent the small displays, was now split into two separate categories; on duty and off duty. Never before had he seen any need to compartmentalize his life in this manner, but now it was different. Now, he saw the logic in allowing a certain amount of...relaxing of his ever present control during off duty socialization. He would, of course, never allow that type of lapse on duty, hence the need for the new distinction.

The lift stopped before his destination and he waited patiently for the person who signaled it stepped on.

"Greetings, Doctor."

"Hello, Spock," McCoy said, smiling congenially.

As the lift stopped at deck five Spock turned to McCoy. "Would you please inform Captain Kirk and Miss Chapel that I might be late arriving?"

"You? Late? I didn't think that was physically possible."

Spock stifled a sigh and merely raised an eyebrow at the sarcasm in Dr. McCoy's voice. "When one must depend on the whims of humans in order to be prompt, the probability of being late is ever present."

McCoy dramatically clutched his chest and moaned. "I'm mortally wounded, Spock!" he said, but ruined the effect by grinning mischievously.

Studiously ignoring McCoy's attempt at dramatics, Spock stepped out of the turbolift and strode more quickly than was his custom, for his quarters. He stepped inside with six point three minutes remaining. As soon as he was behind closed doors his thoughts returned to their previous track.

One night, when he'd allowed himself to smile more than once during the course of the evening, Jim Kirk had asked him about his new ... demeanor and how he seemed almost two different people at times. He'd had difficulty explaining exactly why the changes had occurred, and why he allowed it, but Jim had simply grinned at him. He'd understood completely. He'd even gone on to say he'd been doing it for years.

Three point two minutes later Spock stepped out of the sonic shower and began putting on a fresh uniform. He made it out the door with one point two seven minutes remaining before he was to be in the lounge. He realized with an internal sigh that he was not going to avoid being late. He did not ... like being late. It fell into the same category with waiting for someone else who was late.

The path his thoughts were taking were something of a surprise to Spock. In the past tardiness on the part of others had merely been an inconvenience, nothing more and promptness on his part nothing more than ingrained habit due to his training. To like or dislike it wasn't logical, but Spock realized with no minor startlement, it was fact.

He was learning there was a price to pay for his newfound freedoms. For the first time in his life, while in his right mind, he was allowing what he felt to dictate a few of his actions and it was a difficult thing to balance. He had absolutely no precedence to follow, so was 'charting unknown territory', so to speak.

He found it was easy to slip into a pattern, and once there, it was difficult to get back out. When he found himself growing ... anxious about the direction of the relationship between himself and Christine, it was no longer the simple thing it had once been of realizing there was no logic in worrying about it.

Now, it took more effort on his part to ... convince himself of it. He did wonder briefly what his father would think of his actions. He raised an eyebrow at the thought. It would probably be one more thing that his father did not agree with and found it within himself to wish it could be different.

Once again he stopped the direction his thoughts were taking. This was unproductive. Instead of dwelling on what would never be, he would be better served thinking of what was possible. Anything else was not logical. While he'd known for a very long time that logic and emotion had very little to do with one another, he'd never really internalized it. He'd not had the need to. His respect for his non-Vulcan associates and friends grew each day, as he began to wonder how they managed to behave with as much decorum as they did, while their emotions ran freely within them.

He stepped through the door into the lounge just as Christine laughed. Her voice rippled across his awareness like a caress. Sometimes he wondered why he'd never before noticed what delightful laughter she had. It affected him in strange ways, ways he'd never fully appreciated until now. He stopped where he was and watched them a moment longer. McCoy and the captain sat beside her at the table. As her laughter rang out once again, causing an unexpected shiver down his spine, he wondered if the best was yet to come.

The captain leaned closer to her and spoke quietly and Spock continued to watch as she reached out and smacked his shoulder in response. There was obviously an easy affection between them. He watched closely and wondered when that had developed, then chided himself as he realized almost immediately it had to have happened while they were both on Earth.

He had to admit, it would make his association with both of them easier since they'd become friends in a situation completely unrelated to him. A very small part of him, that was well aware of the captain's reputation wondered ... more, but he stopped that thought in its tracks. Logically, it was none of his concern what had happened between the two of them during the time he had been trying to eradicate them from his life. If the relationship between him and Christine proceeded the way he ... wanted it to, he would know soon enough. However, he couldn't completely erase the concern. It wasn't logical. It shouldn't matter, but somehow it still did.

Taking a deep breath and stepping forward and froze once again as the captain rose, leaned down and rested his hand on her shoulder. He fought with himself a moment as a new sensation tightened his chest, then stepped forward, seemingly as calm and controlled as ever.

All three officers looked up as he approached and he took a seat next to them amid greetings and smiles from all of them.

"I'll be right back," Kirk said as he walked away. "I wanted to get something from my quarters."

"He's being mysterious," Christine said.

"Yes, he said some mumbo jumbo about having a special surprise in his quarters." McCoy leaned close to the other two and whispered conspiratorially. "He had such a strange smirk, I don't trust him at all."

"Indeed." Spock turned to look at the door Kirk had left through, wondering just what he could be up to.

The three of them ordered their meal while they awaited the return of Captain Kirk. McCoy and Christine speculated quietly on what he could possibly be planning. Spock watched on in amused tolerance.

"You realize, do you not, that this speculation is useless?"

"No, it's not," McCoy answered with a grin.

Spock's eyebrow raised. "Oh? What purpose does it serve?"

McCoy leaned closer to Spock and whispered. "It's fun."

Christine burst out laughing at Spock's reaction.

"Really, Doctor," he said with clearly feigned insult. "That is not a purpose."

"Yes, it is."

Realizing he was going to get absolutely nowhere with this conversation, Spock busied himself with eating, sparing a quick glance toward Christine. She wasn't laughing anymore, but it was apparent it was only because of will power on her part.

She looked up from her plate after she was absolutely sure she wasn't going to laugh anymore. "I missed the arguments between the two of you."

"We were not arguing," Christine heard in perfect stereo. It was too much and her laughter bubbled up once again.

Spock and McCoy exchanged a glance, not sure if protesting further would do more harm than good. They were both saved from having to reply by the return of their Captain. He was surprised and not just a little uneasy at the being the center of attention of all three of his companions. "What happened while I was gone?" he asked cautiously.

Spock allowed a half smile at Jim Kirk's sudden paranoia. "We were merely discussing the possibilities of your 'surprise'."

"Really?" Kirk asked with a slight smirk, finishing his approach. He took a seat, looking at each of them before landing his gaze on Spock. "Isn't that a rather ... illogical thing to be doing?"

Spock nodded. "That was my assertion, but the good doctor asserted that there was indeed a purpose to the endeavor."

Kirk leaned back in his chair after placing a small cloth bag on the table. "And what was that?"

Spock hesitated, waiting for one of the others to reply. No reply seemed forthcoming, so he continued. "That it was ... fun."

Kirk roared with laughter, then leaned forward peering closely at his Vulcan friend. "So did you have ... fun?"

Spock did not answer immediately, he merely straightened his already perfect posture and raised an eyebrow, then with perfect aplomb said, "Captain, Vulcans do not have fun."

"In a pig's eye!" McCoy muttered half under his breath.

The three other officers turned to stare at him in mute surprise. All of them calling to mind the only other time the doctor had uttered those words. He grinned, surprised to find he'd actually gotten the last word for a change.

"So, Jim, what's your surprise?"

His curiosity finally at a peak, and very grateful for the subject change, Spock leaned forward and echoed McCoy. "Indeed Captain, what have you brought?"

Jim Kirk reached out and slowly pulled open the draw strings and dumped the contents of the bag onto his hand. As soon as he did so, the colorful stones that fell out started a soft rhythmic humming.

Christine gasped in astonished surprise. "They're wonderful!"

Smiling grandly he held them out to the middle of the table. "Singing Crystals," he said proudly. "They're from a newly discovered planet and they emit a slightly different hum for each person that holds them. Of course, there's a legend that goes along with them." He set the cloth bag in the center of the table and allowed all four crystals to tumble randomly onto it.

"So what's the legend about them?"

"I'm glad you asked that, Bones," Kirk grinned, he'd known all along that at least one of them would ask. "Legend says that if the love between two people is true, the crystals will hum in harmony for them when they each hold one of the crystals. If not the sounds will be discordant."

"How would the crystals be able to decipher what was 'true' and not true?"

Kirk laughed. "You don't actually believe it do you? It's just a fascinating legend."

Spock eyebrow lifted at the suggestion he might actually believe in legend. "I believe that was the point I was trying to make, Captain. To believe in such things would be the equivalent of believing in Earth's ancient astrologers."

"Okay, okay, Spock." Kirk said with a graceful grin. "Now, according to legend you're supposed to take the one nearest you." So saying, he reached out and took the one that had fallen closest to himself. The sound it made was indeed quieter than when he'd held all four stones, but was the same tone and rhythm.

"Like a fortune cookie," McCoy said and reached out for one. He grinned and chuckled as it did indeed begin humming as soon as he touched it, setting up an easy counterpoint to the one Jim still held.

"Well, Captain, is there something you should be telling us?" Christine said with a smirk.

"Of course not!" McCoy said hotly, then looking into Christine's eyes, he realized he'd fallen very neatly for her teasing. "You've been around me too long," he mumbled and took a drink.

Spock, slowly recovering from his shock at Christine's outrageous question, reached out and picked up the appropriate crystal. He was not surprised by the pleasant humming, nor the fact that the sound melded perfectly with the sound from the first two stones.

Christine had watched the three men pick up the stones with equal parts fascination and dread. While she didn't really believe the legend, she couldn't help but wonder just what would happen if, when she picked up a stone, it sounded bad when mixed with the other three. Of course, the likelihood of that happening, considering the first three sounded lovely together, was probably low. The crystals probably sounded good together no matter who picked them up, but she couldn't quite rid herself of just a touch of worry as she slowly reached out for her own stone.

She touched the crystal lightly and released an inward sigh of relief as the tone and rhythm it emitted slid well into the three others still singing. She grinned and picked it up, cradling it in her palm.

The volume emitted by the four crystals increased at least threefold as the stone hit her palm. All four officers jumped and the room gasped collectively. It was as if a circuit had been completed.

"Well, I always said we made a good team." McCoy said laughingly and a ripple of laughter made its way through the crew in the lounge.

"It seems that legend agrees with you, Bones."

"Indeed."

All of them, slightly uncomfortable with all the attention they, and more likely the crystals, were getting, set them down and resumed eating their meal. Jim Kirk went and got his.

The rest of the meal was spent quietly, with only the occasional comment breaking the companionable silence of all four officers.

* * *

Christine cradled the singing crystal in the small cloth bag the captain had given her. Shortly after their unplanned symphony, he had pulled out one for each of them. He, of course, placed his back in the original bag, and everyone had follow suit.

She spared a quick glance at Spock, who had offered to see her to her quarters. These last two months had certainly been far different from any she could have envisioned. He had been a quiet presence in her life, neither pushing nor withdrawing. She didn't fully understand what was going on. She loved him as much as she ever had but found that she couldn't take that first step back toward what they had started so long ago.

It was about time she did something though. The status quo wasn't what either of them needed. At least it wasn't what she needed. For all she knew he could be quite content with things as they stood. She let out a long sigh, not quite able to keep her insecurity to herself.

Spock looked at her a long moment before saying anything. "Christine, it wouldn't have mattered if the crystals had been discordant."

Startled, Christine's head snapped around and she stared at him. "How...?"

He allowed a half smile. "Given your slow uptake of the captain's gift, your quiet introspection and ... our history, it was a logical conclusion to assume that you might be wondering."

Christine's eyes widened as she thought about what he'd said. "I guess you actually know me pretty well," she said, more to herself than to Spock.

"I have endeavored to get to know you as well as I can."

"Yes, you have, haven't you?" Christine marveled at that a little, but they arrived at her quarters before she could continue her thoughts. She stepped close enough to trigger her door open.

"Good night, Christine," Spock said with a slight bow of his head.

"Good night, Spock," she answered quietly and watched as he turned and walked away.

She retreated into her quarters and wondered what the heck she was doing to herself. It was obvious he wanted to resume their relationship. He had been attentive in his own quiet Vulcan way, never once stepping outside the bounds of propriety. He had never even initiated a touch between them, as he had the first time around.

Obviously he was waiting for her to indicate in some way that she was ready. She sighed heavily and dropped down onto her bed. What was she waiting for? Did she really believe he would back out twice? No, she didn't. So, she was back to the first question. What was she waiting for?

As she showered and dressed for bed she chased that question round and round her mind for nearly an hour, before giving it up as a lost cause. She didn't know why she couldn't take that first step that would truly admit him back into her life. She only knew she couldn't yet make it.

She fell asleep wondering why she had to make things so difficult for herself. Why couldn't she just take the risk that always came with opening yourself up to someone?

* * *

Spock sat cross-legged and meditated. He had followed his instincts and given Christine time to accept that he wasn't going anywhere. It didn't seem to be leading anywhere except ... nowhere. However, he did not see anything else he could do to convince her of his intentions.

He was almost ready to rise up out of his meditation when an inspiration came to him. He had fallen back on old thinking habits. She was human and needed a more direct indication. As he stood, slowly stretching muscles that had been in one position too long, a small smile formed. He knew exactly what he needed to do, and it would make a perfect Christmas gift as well. As he prepared for bed, he realized all that remained was whether or not he could follow through with it.

* * *

"I'm getting frustrated, Jim!"

Jim laughed. "You are?!" he said with an amused shake of his head. "I imagine the two of them are a little more frustrated than you could ever be."

McCoy snorted. "I doubt it. They seem perfectly content to act like ... like two children too timid to take the chance the opposite sex might actually be cootie free!"

"Well, unless one of them comes to us, it's none of our business and since I don't see that happening in the near future, that leaves us sitting on the sidelines."

"Sometimes I just want to knock those two heads together, then maybe they'll start thinking sensible like."

Jim shook his head. "That wouldn't be a good idea Bones."

"Oh, I know that," Bones said with a negligent wave. "But why am I beginning to feel like the old man on the porch with a shotgun trying to figure out some boy's intentions?"

Kirk chuckled at the image that brought to mind. He could just see Spock facing down an irate father demanding to know whether or not his attentions were with 'honorable' intent. "Perhaps it's because we've had way too much time on our hands lately."

"Possible," McCoy amiably agreed. "However, I'd rather have too much time, than get into the middle of some fight."

Captain Kirk wanted to agree, should have agreed, but he was bored with endless, uninterrupted border patrol, so he remained silent on that subject. "The upcoming Christmas party should help some," he said instead.

"Speaking of boredom ... "

"Were we?" Kirk asked with a smirk. "Indirectly. You've really got to do something about the latest ship's pool, before any hint of it gets back to either of them."

Kirk's jaw dropped. "No way! Don't tell me my crew is betting on them."

McCoy didn't tell him, he just nodded. "You should hear some of the bets being made."

"No, I don't think I should." Kirk rose and headed for the door. "I've really got to get Command to give us something better than border patrol before this gets out of hand."

"Too late." McCoy said as the door closed behind Captain Kirk.

* * *

Christine awoke curiously light of heart. She lay in bed several moments trying to figure out just what had changed. Last night she'd been confused and uncertain. Suddenly she giggled and then clamped her hand over her mouth. She hadn't really giggled since she was a teenager. What had come over her?

Well, whatever it was, she was delighted with the change. Hopping out of bed, she set about getting ready for the day. Several minutes later she was surprised to discover she was humming softly to herself. She grinned at her reflection as she put the final touches on her hair.

"I don't know what caused the change, but I like it," she told herself.

Wandering into her living area a flashing on her screen immediately caught her attention. Her smile grew broader. She'd forgotten she'd programmed it to do that. The screen flashed and rippled a colorful Merry Christmas. It was Christmas Day, the day for sharing and rejoicing in friends and family. After watching it play across the screen for a couple of moments she switch off the small program.

To her surprise, the screen did not go dark. Instead, in the same swirling pattern as her own message was another message. She stared at it musingly a moment.

"I've got a surprise for you," she read aloud. Now who would have done that? Her first thought was Leonard, but no, he wouldn't have the skills to hack into her system. After all, it wasn't just a message sent to her, it had been added to the program she'd gotten from Uhura.

Jim? She shook her head. It didn't seem his style. Spock? It couldn't be ... could it? Who else could it be? She grinned to herself yet again. Now, this kind of intrigue she could handle; a mystery that had her curiosity in high gear.

Glancing at the chronometer, she realized she'd better get going. If she hurried she would have just enough time to actually enjoy her breakfast before going on duty. Casting one last look at the computer console she headed out the door. She would find out eventually just who had a 'surprise' for her.

Three paces outside her cabin, she realized the reason for her change in mood. Somewhere during the night, she'd subconsciously come to a decision. It was time to forget about the past and live for the future.

* * *

Spock checked briefly in the mirror just to make sure his appearance was appropriate. Just as he'd known it would be, nothing was out of place. Heading out the door he wondered if Christine had received his message yet, and if so, what she thought of it.

He was not surprised to see the walls above the doors decorated with wreaths and other assorted Christmas paraphernalia. Every year on December 24 the Enterprise was transformed over night. While no one got overzealous, because technically all of this was against regulations, the command of this vessel politely overlooked the small, tasteful decorations that many humans and even some of the non-humans enjoyed so much at this time of year.

The officer's lounge, as well as the crew's rec room, were different stories. These were the two places that the crew was allowed to go all out. They had taken that to heart every year. Spock assumed they would do so again this year, and when he stepped into the lounge for breakfast, he discovered he had been correct.

The corners and the tops of the bulkheads were adorned with streamers and tinsel of all descriptions, as well as a variety of flashing lights. Wreaths adorned the walls. Poinsettia arrangements graced the center of each table and in discreet places about the room hung small twigs of mistletoe. The pine tree had been put up in the center of the room and decorated with tiny twinkling lights, strung with popcorn, and several personal ornaments from various crew members. As he walked past it, he was surprised to discover it was a real tree. He briefly wondered who had gotten it aboard.

Taken together the gold and silver, reds and greens were a burst of riotous color. If asked his opinion of the color combination before stepping into the room, he would have said it would not have been particularly pleasing to the eye. However, having seen it, somehow, it worked.

During the course of his breakfast he noticed four different women and three men get 'caught' under one or another of the mistletoe. However, according to his observations only three of those people were truly surprised by the kiss they received. Most of them knew exactly where and under what they'd been standing.

Several groups at different tables alternated singing the songs, or 'carols' associated with Christmas. That was another thing that puzzled him about this ritual. How could parents foster the belief in an individual who did not exist? One year he'd asked the captain about it.

His first answer had not been helpful. He'd said only, "It's part of Christmas." When pressed for a better explanation, he answered that it was simply tradition. Spock understood tradition. How could he not? However, this one seemed particularly illogical.

He began to question the advisability of his taking a more active role in these activities as he headed out of the lounge and heard a group of young lieutenants break into a song about flying reindeer. He shook his head as he started for the Bridge.

He ordered the lift to the Bridge, and he realized all his careful attention to his surroundings and the efforts of others to enjoy themselves had successfully divert his thoughts from what he planned to do tonight. Unfortunately, alone in the lift there was nothing more to occupy himself with.

Tonight would be the big party for most of the day shift senior officers. That is when those who chose to, would be exchanging gifts, and that is when he would, hopefully, prove to Christine, once and for all that she could trust his presence in her life.

As he exited the lift, several conversations ended abruptly. While this was not an unusual occurrence, as Junior Officers tended to 'gossip' when their commanding officers were not present, the strange and somewhat guilty expressions gave him pause. As he crossed to the command chair to relieve the night watch lieutenant, surreptitious glances from a couple of the night Bridge crew, that he studiously pretended not to notice, made him consider the possibility he'd been the subject of the abruptly ended conversation.

"You are relieved, Lieutenant."

"You have the Conn, Commander."

As he sat in the command chair, he banished such thoughts from his mind. He was now on duty.

* * *

Christine hadn't seen Spock all day, so had been unable to inform him by word or deed, that she'd finally come to her senses. For one of the few times in her life, she wanted to be anywhere right now, rather than working in Sickbay. The day had been a series of hour long minutes. Despite her best efforts not to 'watch the clock', she couldn't help glancing frequently to the chronometer. It seemed each time she did she was sure an hour had gone by, to find that only ten minutes had passed.

Every time the Sickbay doors opened she kept expecting someone with a clue to her 'surprise'. Her growing anticipation of what it could possibly be, made concentration all but impossible. Several times already she'd scolded herself to keep her mind on her work. Usually she was the epitome of efficiency, but today nothing could make her mind stay on her work for long periods.

When Ensign Korasca came in with a broken leg, she'd been surprised when she checked the time as she walked away from him. She'd managed to clear everything except work from her mind for over thirty minutes.

That had mollified her somewhat, as it proved that should the need arise she would be able to concentrate. Sitting at her desk and doing paperwork wasn't exactly an enthralling occupation, which was what she'd spent the majority of the morning doing. Sometimes she was of the opinion that both hospitals and starships ran on paperwork rather than anything else.

* * *

Spock sat back as he finished the last comprehensive report on the newly discovered asteroid field they were currently studying. After the captain came onto the Bridge and began his shift, relieving Spock to his own station, Spock had dove into his work with a zeal that surprised him. He normally accomplished his work with quiet efficiency. Today however he had sought total immersion. The studies had provided that quite satisfactorily.

According to their surveys it contained abnormally large amounts of rare metals and crystals, including dilithium. Some of the metals were not normally found together and it was a rare and fascinating chance to study the affect of finding them in the same source.

He routed all the reports and findings to the appropriate heads of sub-departments, including a copy to the captain. That accomplished he realized with a start that he had completed all of his duties well ahead of time. He still had thirty minutes left of his duty shift with no ship's business to occupy his time. That had never happened before, especially not in the middle of a survey. Even during the 'slow' times of border patrol, he had several experiments running that he could occupy 'free' time

However, earlier today, before the scans of the field had been completed by astrometrics, he'd completed the final stages of two of his experiments. Then, after the lab had passed on the sensor data to him and he was waiting for the computer to finish compiling it, he had completed the necessary tasks for his final running experiment. It was then he realized just how quickly he'd been working today. Today's work would normally have taken him well into the night, or barring working on it off duty, well into tomorrow.

Now, he played a waiting game. At all times on the bridge, part of his attention was on the sensor readings that flowed past him from his console, but that required such a minute portion of his attention, that he usually kept busy with other duties as well. Now with only that minor chore to occupy his thoughts, he found he was beginning to think about his plans for the evening. His mouth went dry, his stomach became curiously tight and he began to wonder if he was capable of caring through with his plan.

It was true he had not thought it out well, as was his normal wont and it was not something he would ordinarily ever consider doing, but last night he'd come to the conclusion that some ... gesture on his part would be required to regain what was lost. He closed his eyes momentarily and couldn't quite stop the sigh before it escaped his lips.

His eyes snapped open just before Uhura turned to look at him. To cover the lapse he in no way wanted to explain, he glanced back at her and merely lifted an eyebrow, allowing a questioning expression to spread. Uhura opened her mouth and Spock just knew she was going to call him on his 'bluff', so he was pleasantly surprised when she turned back to her console with a confused expression. He almost smiled when he heard her mutter to herself about imagining things.

That exchange had taken mere moments and as soon as it was finished, Spock found his thoughts returning to the night ahead. He immediately rose and walked with carefully measured paces to the command chair and Captain Kirk. As he stepped down beside him, the captain tilted his head in Spock's direction, then swivelled his chair around to face him.

"Something interesting, Spock?"

"Actually Captain, a number of interesting 'things'. However, I doubt you would find them as interesting as I do. I merely wanted to inform you that the survey reports are completed and that you would find a copy on your terminal when you are ready to read it."

Kirk looked at him thoughtfully a moment. Something was going on here that he couldn't quite see. It was just as obvious Spock wasn't going to say anything about it, so he decided to draw out the conversation to see if he could figure it out on his own. "Did you write it in Standard this time?"

Spock cocked an eyebrow and replied with just a hint of indignation. "I always write my reports in Standard, Captain."

"That's odd, I could have sworn the last one was half Latin." Kirk leaned forward and spoke quietly. "Confidentially, I didn't do so well in Latin at the Academy and what I did learn I've mostly forgotten."

Spock hesitated then leaned down just a touch. "Then you will be gratified to know that I appended a copy to your report that transposes most of the 'Latin', to laymen's terms." So saying, he turned and headed back to his station.

Kirk watched him in astonishment, wondering if he was teasing or if he had actually done it.

Spock sat at his station, his peripheral attention still on his captain. He knew the captain well enough to know that he had to be curious whether he had actually done what he'd said. He silently observed, as the curiosity grew in the human and he finally turned and began accessing the computer records from his command chair.

Spock had known it wouldn't take him long to need to check the report. He waited patiently for Kirk to discover the truth, turning only moments before he chuckled. Kirk turned toward Spock, grinning. Spock raised an expectant eyebrow and continued waiting.

"Okay, you got me." Kirk admitted ruefully.

Allowing a half smile to form before turning away, Spock resumed monitoring the sensor data still being fed to his station.

Moments later both of their replacements exited the turbolift. After completing the change of shift Kirk and Spock left the Bridge together.

* * *

Spock strode down the corridor with Kirk on one side and McCoy on the other, the three of them having decided to arrive together. Despite the normalcy of this arrangement Spock once again felt the curious tightening of his stomach. It wasn't exactly nausea, but it was discomforting nonetheless. He attempted to ignore it.

The three of the swept into the lounge at nearly the same time. Spock lost half a step as he noted just how crowded the lounge was. Last year there had been approximately half this many people. "Jim, I ... did not expect to find so many of the crew here."

McCoy chuckled and answered before the captain could. "That's because you usually don't arrive until the party's half over."

"I see," Spock said, wondering if perhaps it might be better to wait after all. He had not planned on there being quite this many spectators. He was sure the incident would spread through like wildfire through a virgin forest no matter how many people were here, but it would be easier if there were at least the illusion of privacy. Well, no matter, he thought to himself. He'd decided on a course of action, and logically the number of people present was not a valid reason for changing it now. "If you will excuse me, gentlemen, I have something to which I must attend."

"I thought you were planning on actually attending the party this year," McCoy objected.

"I am," Spock replied without stopping or even glancing back in their direction.

McCoy watched Spock weave his way across the room and leaned closer to Jim. "Did he seem ... nervous to you?" he whispered.

Kirk looked at McCoy in surprise. "Well, now that you mention it, yes. That is exactly how I would describe his behavior today."

McCoy glanced at Kirk. "Today? You mean it didn't just start?"

"No."

Both men returned to watching Spock's progress as McCoy muttered. "Just what has that Vulcan got up his sleeve?"

* * *

Spock positioned himself unobtrusively, right where he needed to be. He had spoken briefly with Lt. Uhura after his duty shift and enlisted her aid. He had refused to divulge why he'd wanted her assistance, which he knew had incited her, quite natural, feminine curiosity. In the end, he managed to assure her that if she did assist him she would be one of the first to know what it was all about. Naturally, at that point, she agreed. He doubted the proverbial 'wild horses' could have prevented it at that point.

The opening of the secondary door to the lounge interrupted his memory of the meeting. There was Uhura, right on time. As planned she stopped just past the doorway.

"Nyota, I can't get in the room unless you move out of the way," Christine said, good humored exasperation coloring her voice.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Uhura answered sweetly. "I guess I lost myself in the moment." Movement to her left caught her attention, and at Spock's approach she moved out of the way.

Spock nodded his appreciation and turned his attention to Christine, framed in the doorway. Now his presence in front of her impeded her forward motion, however she did not protest this time.

Uhura moved further into the room, with a surprised yet very delighted grin on her face. Before going too far however she turned around to see what was unfolding. She had finally figured out exactly what Spock was up to the moment she stepped through the door and she didn't want to miss a moment of it.

"Good evening, Christine."

She smiled up at him. "Good evening Spock. I'm glad you..." Her voice trailed off. The expression showing only in his eyes causing her heart to skip a beat.

He half smiled at her reaction. "Have I ever told you how asc ... lovely you look?" he asked rhetorically, knowing he never had.

She smiled a touch warily, but pleased with the unexpected compliment. "Why, no, Spock, I don't believe you have," she said with a mouth suddenly gone dry.

"In that case, you look lovely," he said casting a quick purposeful glance up and then back to Christine's eyes. "Especially right now."

Almost without conscious thought, Christine's gaze followed Spock's and when she saw what he'd looked up to, her knees nearly buckled under her. He couldn't be...? No, not Spock! Her jaw dropped slightly as the implications sunk in.

Spock took the moment of her distraction to step forward. When she looked back toward him, his face was mere inches from hers. He reached up and curled his hand behind the back of her neck, pulling her forward to meet him halfway and leaned down, pressing his lips against hers.

Shock held Christine immobile for all of about 2 seconds, then she responded to the kiss. She leaned into him, her hands resting lightly on his chest. His other arm found its way around her waist pulling her closer to him and he deepened the seductive assault on her lips.

She responded willingly, eagerly until she knew that if he wasn't holding her up, her knees would have given out.

In the back of his mind Spock heard the entire room go silent. He felt himself begin to flush at the implication, but refused to react to it. He did not pull back until Christine herself began to do so. Straightening, he looked down at the face so near him. She was flushed and breathing irregularly. "Merry Christmas, Christine."

"Merry Christmas, indeed," she said. Drawing a ragged breath she desperately tried to control the racing of her heart. So quietly she was sure Spock was the only one who could hear her, she continued. "I love you."

The corners of Spock's lips turned up slightly. He reached up and traced the curve of her cheek with two fingers and although he didn't say the words he let her feel all that he felt through his touch.

She gasped at its intensity, never having realized the strength of it. "I never knew."

Spock nodded in acknowledgment of her wonder. "It is why we control them," he said so softly that only she could hear and she had to strain to do so.

Both jumped as the entire room burst into applause. They both turned and the first face they focused on was Uhura, was standing their with a grin to rival a Cheshire's. Christine blushed deeply, only just now realizing they had been the center of attention for their entire exchange.

Kirk and McCoy came to their rescue, escorting both of them to a table. McCoy was practically bouncing with comments he managed to hold back, most likely from sheer will power alone.

When they had seated themselves and the attention of the room melted back to the individual groups, Spock turned to McCoy with a resigned yet slightly amused expression. "Go ahead Doctor, I did not consider doing this without first realizing what I would be 'letting myself in for'."

"Well," McCoy drawled in his best southern accent. "Now that I have your permission..."

The end