DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Trish and is copyright (c) 2001 by Trish. Rated PG.
The Quest: A Christmas Story
They had stood in line for at least two hours. Christine's feet were aching and she could tell by the way her husband was standing that he was feeling just as much discomfort, although he would never admit it. She looked up at Spock's stoic expression affectionately. He had been so understanding and patient with all of her Earth traditions.
She reached over to whisper in his ear. "Thank you. I know you don't go in for all this Christmas stuff, but it means so much to the children." She shifted their youngest son on her hip. The baby had grown tired of his stroller about a half an hour before and preferred the comfort of his mother's arms.
"I would not wish to disappoint them," Spock told Christine. "Or you." The vaguest of smiles played around the corners of his mouth, so slight that only Christine, after ten years of marriage to the Vulcan could tell. He knew that Christmas was his wife's favorite holiday, and would not have dreamed of demanding that it not be celebrated. "Do you wish me to take him for a while?" He motioned toward the sleeping infant in Christine's arms.
"Please." She relinquished her precious bundle to the only other person she trusted with her child, his father. The mall was absolutely packed with harried shoppers each vying for their holiday treasures before anyone else could grab up the bargains. There was no place more crowded than the area directly in front of the main water fountain, which for the entire month of December, and most of November had been magically transformed into Santa's workshop. Hundreds of eager boys and girls were anxious to take their turn to tell the merry old man their heart's desire. Christine was beginning to wish that she had foregone the heavy sweater she had worn in favor of lighter gear. The closeness and body heat of the other shoppers was making her light headed.
"Mommy, I'm hungry." The little girl with dark pony tails and pointed ears proclaimed as she leaned sleepily against Christine's legs.
"I know, Sweety." Christine tried to appease her five-year-old. "We'll get something to eat after you tell Santa what you want. Okay?" She stroked her daughter's head and took her hands. T'Kia sighed and settled in to wait for her turn.
To Spock, Christine whispered. "How long is this going to take? We've been waiting forever."
"We have been waiting for two hours, seventeen minutes, and forty-eight seconds," he reported to her. She rolled her eyes a little at his accuracy. "The line does seem to be moving a bit slowly," he agreed.
"As long as that diaper holds out, we'll be fine." Christine nodded at the baby who was sleeping on his father's shoulder. At that moment, tiny Soval fussed a little and squirmed in Spock's arms. His mother and father held their breath and then allowed themselves a collective sigh of relief as their smallest child nestled back into his nap. "Come on, Daddy. Hurry up, Mommy." A miniature replica of Spock beckoned to him and Christine from a few feet ahead. Their eldest son, eight year old Sirem had been on pins and needles with excitement for days at the prospect of giving his wish personally to Santa Claus. There was only one thing the young boy wanted, and he was sure Santa would bring it to him. Spock and Christine looked at each other with parental pride and did as they were told.
Finally, they reached the end of the line. Jolly ol' St. Nick himself sat smiling at them. Sirem was ready and tried to run to the old man, only to be stopped by his mother's firm hand. "Let your sister go first. She's about ready to drop."
"Aw, Mom," Sirem protested, but was quickly silenced by a stern look from Spock.
"Your mother is right. T'Kia is smaller than you are and less able to wait. You will get your turn," Spock told him. Sirem accepted his enforced delay, but sulked as he watched his mother lead his little sister by the hand toward Santa.
Christine helped her kindergartner settled herself on Santa's lap. Spock stood to the side, the spectacle completely lost on him, as he held their son back from knocking T'Kia off the padded knee and jumping onto the mall Santa. It was clear that the man in the red suite was elderly and certainly would have been injured by the rambunctious third grader.
"My, what a pretty little one you are," Santa exclaimed over T'Kia. "What do you want for Christmas pretty girl?"
T'Kia sat quietly for a moment and seemed to be thinking. She looked at her mother. Then she looked at her father and little brother, ignoring her older brother altogether. Then she looked down at the floor. Then she looked back at her mother. Then she looked up at Santa Clause. Then her face contorted into a look akin to the expression she made when she had a stomach ache. For a moment it was unclear whether she was nervous, scared, or in pain. Christine waited and tried to urge her on with and anxious smiled. Suddenly, T'Kia let loose with the loudest yowl her parents had ever heard her issue and burst into tears. The little Vulcan girl sat on Santa's lap, screaming and sobbing in fear.
Christine was at her daughter's side in a heartbeat, lifting her from Santa and enfolding the frightened child in her arms. "Shhhh. It's alright, honey. Everything's okay," She comforted. Spock looked at his wife concerned, but was told without words that it was nothing to be worried about.
"Now, can I go?" Sirem demanded.
"Yes. You make have your turn now," Spock answered and led his son up to the huge chair on which Santa Claus sat. The boy wasted no time finding his seat, as Spock joined Christine to check on T'Kia. Soval, still sleeping on his father's shoulder, was blissfully unaware of his older sister's trauma.
"And what would you like Santa to bring for you, little boy?" The man asked in pretend joviality.
This was the moment Sirem had waited for. He had practiced for it. He took a deep breath, and with all the clarity of his conviction stated matter of factly. "I want a Max Star Blaster."
Santa laughed, seemingly pleased. "That's a very nice toy. I will see what I can do." He set Sirem back on his feet and patted his head as he turned his attentions to the next customer.
Sirem joined his parents, completely overjoyed. He could barely speak as the family searched for and finally found a shared table at the crowded food court. Spock went off in search of something vegetarian to feed his family, while Christine remained at the table with the children. Little Soval had been placed in his stroller, but was fully awake and ready for his bottle, which Christine fished for in the diaper bag which was doubling as her purse. T'Kia sat in a state of depression having blown her chance with Santa. Sirem could not help but laugh at his sister while reveling in his own happiness. Christine quickly silenced him with glare. Even that was not enough to wipe the grin from his face.
"It's alright, T'Kia," Christine said, pulling the full bottle from her bag and her youngest onto her lap at the same time. "I'm sure Santa knows what you want anyway. How about we write him a nice letter when we get home?" she offered. That seemed to placate her disappointed daughter.
Spock returned after some time with Italian for everyone and they hungrily dove in. Sirem could hardly eat for excitedly recounting every detail of the event that his parents had just witnessed for themselves.
"That was so cool!" the boy exclaimed.
"Please do not use slang, my son," Spock corrected him.
"Sorry. That was totally awesome!" Sirem rephrased. His father rolled his eyes but allowed the child to continue.
"Do you think I'll really get what I asked for?" Sirem questioned, hope burning in his eyes.
"I am certain you will receive the gift you want," Spock answered, not realizing the boy would take his word as gold. Christine cringed.
"Sirem, sweety..." She handed her son a few credits. "Take your sister over there to that stand and get you both some ice cream." She pointed to a kiosk only a few feet from their table. Close enough to allow her watch her children, but a safe distance away so they would not hear her admonish their father for his faux pas.
When the children left the table she turned to Spock. "What's wrong with you? You never tell a child he's going to get exactly what he wants for Christmas," she lectured. "What if we can't find it? That's the hottest toy in years. It sells out in minutes. Every little boy wants one. Remember I tried to find him one for his birthday."
Spock was still unsure that he agreed with this human tradition of lying to children and of lavishing them with gifts. He was, however, certain that his offspring would have whatever they desired. "Come now, T'hyla. I'm sure finding a Max Star Blaster will not present a problem. I am sure the stores have been well supplied for the holiday shopping season. I will stop by the speciality shop tomorrow on my way home from Headquarters," he assured her. "Sirem, will have his gift on Christmas morning."
"Well, you're going to find it," Christine warned. "I don't want any part of it. You can fight the crowds and just see what you've gotten yourself into."
"My dear," Spock said nonchalantly. "How difficult could it be to find a child's toy?" He almost smiled at the absurdity of the thought.
Christine smirked. "You'll find out."
* * *
Christine looked up at the chronometer on the kitchen wall for the hundredth time. Spock was late, very late. She knew he was alright, their bond told her that. Still she wondered where on Earth, literally, her husband could be. He always called when he had to work late and usually never missed a family meal together. She had already fed the children, they had been far too hungry to wait. Now it was nearing their bedtimes and she feared their father would miss their nightly story ritual. Then she remembered the errand he had promised to undertake after leaving Headquarters and a slight self-satisfied smiled crossed her face. So that's it. She looked down at Seval, cradled in her arms. "Maybe your daddy has bitten off more than he can chew." Christine allowed herself a small laugh, but still hoped that Spock would be home soon.
She was just about to put her baby in his crib and start the dishes when the door to the garage opened. Relieved and eager for a report, Christine hurried into the mud room with Seval. When she saw the expression on Spock's face, she leaned against the doorway in delight.
"Hard day?" Christine teased. "Where've you been?"
Removing his uniform jacket and ignoring his wife's mocking tone, Spock recounted his afternoon. "I have been to no less than fourteen stores in the Bay area. Not one had a single Max Star Blaster left in stock," he lamented.
"Not as easy as you thought, uh?" Christine asked.
"I have never seen so many people in such a frenzy over a toy," he told still reeling in amazement. "I was pushed, shoved, stepped on, and punched with an elbow. One woman even told me to get out of her f---ing way. At three stores, there were so many people I could not even gain entrance."
"Well," Christine took pity on her husband. "You tried. If Sirem doesn't get a Max Star Blaster for Christmas, he'll get over it. Really. Those things are important for a while, but then kids forget them and move on." Spock looked at her questioningly.
"I mean when I was a little girl. I wanted a Barbie Galactic Dream Palace," Christine remembered.
"Did you get it?" Spock asked.
"No. I never got it." Christine's eyes were far away for a moment. "Even though I put it on my list for four straight years, I never got it." Lost in memory she continued almost as if Spock was no longer in the room. "Everyone else had one, but not me. Boxes and cheap plastic furniture for my dolls. I mean would it have killed them... Every year I asked for it ... but nooooo." She caught herself and smiled. "And see, I turned out just fine. Come on." Christine looked at him lovingly. "I kept your dinner warm."
"Thank you." He followed her into the kitchen.
As Spock sat watching Christine from across the table he became certain of one thing. If it was the last thing he did, he had to find a Max Star Blaster.
* * *
It was Christmas Eve. Christine and T'Kia were busy in the kitchen making cookies to set out for Santa Claus and the reindeer. Soval was practicing his new found voice from his highchair, and Sirem was racing throughout the house in a rush of nervous excitement. Spock was still canvassing the state for the illusive Max Star Blaster. His quest was continuing to prove fruitless.
It had been reported on the news vids that Tom's Toy Treasury in Barstow had received a full shipment Max Star Blasters the previous night, and the Vulcan had wasted no time in transporting to the town immediately. The store was actually a large warehouse that contained every imaginable toy. Surely they would have his grail.
Quickly Spock scanned the aisles. Stopping only for a few moments to pick up several pretty little items T'Kia would like and a few developmental toys for Soval, he finally made it to what appeared to be the boy's section. The crowd that had already gathered could be heard before they could be seen. The lane had become a vast sea of swarming people, all of whom had seemed to have lost the holiday spirit. Several were shouting profanity at each other, a number of women had apparently confused the Max Star Blasters for tug-of-war ropes and were locked in a heated struggle. Another group of irate fathers were actually in a fist fight. This was not going to be easy.
Spock took a deep breath and jumped into the melee. It was for Sirem after all. He had not ventured two yards before being elbowed in the ribs by a heavy set woman with tinted red hair that competed with her lips for fingernails for the darkest shade. She had retrieved her prize and was ready to fight anyone who tried to take it away. Suddenly boxes began flying through the air above him. Ahead, Spock could see that two sales people had climbed to the top of the shelf and were throwing boxes to the crowd, unaware that their actions were making matters worse.
An opening appeared in front of him, the space vacated by a man who had caught one of the boxes only moments before. Spock swallowed all of his Vulcan pride and tried to remember the finer points of catch that his mother's father had once tried to teach him. In no time a box sailed through the air directly toward him. He prepared to reach for it and lifted his arms at the ready. It was coming closer. He almost had it. Just then he was slammed against the shelves and the box was caught by a ecstatic young mother who must have been half Christine's size and age. For a moment, Spock wondered what would have happened had his wife been there. The Vulcan picked up the threads of his wounded pride and prepared to try again.
"That's it, people," one of the teenaged salespeople called to the crowd. "We're all out." From the tone of the crowd, Spock felt that it was good thing the announcer was perched out of reach. He also realized that it was best to vacate the area lest Christine have to bail him out of jail on Christmas Eve.
"Any luck?" Christine asked him nervously when he returned home, a bag of gifts for their other children in his hands. His expression told her the grim reality. "It's alright. You tried harder than anyone could have expected and that's what counts," she comforted him.
"That is not the point. Sirem wanted this gift and I have failed him," Spock answered.
"What? Oh, no. Don't you start that," Christine warned. "Don't you think for one minute that your success as a father depends on giving Sirem this one toy. You were raising three wonderful, smart and well adjusted children before you ever heard of this Max Star Blaster thing, and that will never change." She took him in her arms and held him for a moment.
"What would I do without you?" he asked her.
"Well, for one thing, you'd have to bake your own Christmas cookies." Christine grinned, taking a warm creation from the cooling rack and popping it into her husband's mouth. Spock's face registered his delight. "You like?" Christine smiled.
"Yes, they are quite tasty," Spock answered. "But not as much as this." He bent his neck and captured Christine's lips in a passionate kiss.
"Oh, gross," they heard their eldest son exclaim as he stopped himself at the entrance to the kitchen.
"What?" their daughter yelled from the family room.
"They're kissing again," Sirem answered.
"Oooooo," T'Kia exclaimed, as her parents enjoyed a private laugh.
* * *
"Gramma! Grampa!" Sirem and T'Kia yelled as they ran, nearly knocking Amanda and Sarek down in the doorway.
Amanda embraced her grandchildren gleefully as Sarek greeted his son and daughter-in-law and then stood watching proudly and noting how much the children had grown since his last visit. Christine and Spock relished the sight of their happy children, the youngest of which was seated comfortably in his mother's arms, but still seemed to recognize his father's parents. Amanda managed to pull herself away from T'Kia and Sirem long enough to greet Soval. The children followed their grandfather to the living room where he added even more gifts to the mountain already under the tree. It was clear that Sarek was no stranger to the Earth custom of Christmas. Christine gave her youngest son over to her mother-in-law happily and received a hug in the process.
"Oh, Christine." Amanda exclaimed. "He's gotten so big."
"Tell me about it," Christine laughed.
Amanda barely noticed her own son standing next to his wife as she fawned over her smallest grandchild. "How's my big boy?" she cooed, lifting the baby into the air over her face and kissing him on the way down.
"He is apparently very pleased to see you, Mother. As am I," Spock answered.
"I'm sorry, dear. How have you been?" she apologized.
"Very well. Thank you," he said.
"Dad!" Sirem rushed in almost quivering. "You said we could open our gifts when Gramma and Grampa got here. Can we?"
"They have just arrived. Perhaps in a few minutes," Spock offered.
"I see no reason for the children to wait any longer," Sarek said from the doorway. He was eager to spoil them, although he would never admit it.
"Very well," Spock conceded.
"Yes!" Sirem cheered.
The adults took their places on the sofas and chairs and watched the utter delight of the little ones on Christmas morning. T'Kia soon found herself amidst a pile of stuffed animals, dolls, and games. Sirem was equally hidden behind treasures of his own. Even Soval was delighted with the gifts he did not yet comprehend. The grown-ups too had not been forgotten and each received their own delights, including some handmade soon-to-become heirlooms from the children.
Christine was surprised to find that the largest package under the tree was labeled with her name. She eyed Spock suspiciously, but read the tag aloud. "To Christine from Santa...." It was in strangely familiar handwriting. "Please forgive the delay."
Under the bright paper and shiny ribbon, the once disappointed little girl finally found her Barbie Galactic Dream Palace. Christine giggled with delight and beamed at Spock. "Thanks, Santa," she winked. He tried to look innocent.
"Yes! Oh, yes!" The sound of Sirem's happy screech brought Christine and Spock back to reality. To their surprise they realized that he sat holding up his very own Max Star Blaster. "Look Dad! Look! Santa brought it, just like you said he would."
Spock and Christine both turned toward Amanda, who was doing her best to look innocent.
"Where did you find that?" Spock whispered completely perplexed.
"The stores are full of them on Vulcan. They can't give them away," she smiled innocently. Of course she neglected to mention that had been months ago and she had actually found this one in London, after several days of searching. She passed a knowing glance to Christine.
"Thank you, Mother," Spock said, awed. "I believe you made him very happy." He looked over at his son, lost in play. His mother never ceased to amaze him.
Later that day Christine noticed T'Kia sitting quietly in the chair next to the living room window. Spock too, saw his daughter with her nose pressed against the glass pane and was also curious. He joined his wife as she tried to find what so interested their little girl.
"What are you looking for, T'Kia?" Christine asked.
"I'm just waiting for Santa to come back," the little girl answered calmly.
"What? Why?" her mother questioned, confused.
"'Cause Daddy said that Santa was going to bring me a pony," T'Kia reported, her wonder-filled eyes never leaving the sky.
Christine breathed in exasperated. Turning to Spock she did not say a word, but pointed sternly at the door. As the Vulcan left, he wondered where he would find a pony on Christmas Day and Christine wondered where they would put it.