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The Correct Response

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Part of the Slash Advent Calendar 2004

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***

Kirk had been looking forward to the Christmas Eve party in McCoy’s quarters.

There would be a ship wide gathering tomorrow for the Human-Christian crewmembers in lieu of families left at home. However, as Captain he felt he needed to retain a certain dignity at these gatherings, and couldn’t really relax there as much as he would like. He was therefore looking immensely forward to the small gathering of senior officers and good friends.

As all cultures and traditions were respected within the Federation, usually a large number of non-Christian Humans and Alien races joined the celebrations.

Speaking of which...

“Spock! Merry Christmas.”

Kirk opened the door to his quarters in response to the buzzer to find Spock.

“Merry Christmas, Captain,” he replied formally.

Kirk motioned him inside.

“How are you enjoying the Christmas festivities, Spock?” Jim asked with a smile.

“Most illuminating, Jim. I have researched the significance of Christmas for Humans extensively, but it is fascinating to see it put into practice.”

“Fascinating,” Kirk thought with a smile of what Spock would make of Scotty dressed up as Father Christmas tomorrow.

“I wished to speak with you, Jim, before the gathering at Dr McCoy’s.”

“Oh yes?”

“I have consulted my mother on what might be an appropriate gift for a friend.”

At this Spock produced a box wrapped in gold paper.

“Spock!” Kirk said in delight. “Thank you.”

“You are welcome, Jim,” Spock replied. He continued talking as Kirk opened the gift.

“She told me that jewellery and flowers were inappropriate,” Kirk stifled a smile at the thought. “That clothes may be acceptable, so long as they were not intimate apparel, and were either definitely to the other’s taste, or had some personal significance.”

Kirk had an intake of breath at the silky shirt he unwrapped. Exquisite material of a goldy-green reflecting in the light.

“Yes,” said Spock with a note of satisfaction, glancing from the shirt to Jim’s face and back again, “I believe you will find that is the exact color of your eyes.”

“Thank you, Spock.” He was moved by the present, but as always with his first officer wondered how much he should really read into Spock’s behavior. “Your mother must have had quite a busy time. I also contacted her about an ‘appropriate’ gift for a friend.”

He fished in a drawer and brought out a small gift.

“Thank you, Captain.”

Spock opened the gift and inside was a small icon of intertwined gold and silver strands.

“Jim. Thank you, this is most... appropriate.”

Kirk smiled at the Vulcan’s dispassionate choice of words, when he could definitely see a rather un-Vulcan spark of pleasure on the strong features.

“Your mother and I thought so. She told me this is the symbol of... esteem between Vulcans. Where you respect and admire the other. A symbol of a bond of trust. I figured that was Vulcan for friendship,” he grinned.

Spock raised an eyebrow at the gentle dig at his culture.

“From what I have seen of Mr Chekov and Mr Sulu when passing the mess this evening, it does appear superior to the Earth expression of friendship which seemed to comprise of plying each other with poisonous substances until the onset of unconsciousness.”

Kirk laughed. “Speaking of which, we’d better head along to McCoy’s, to meet him and Scotty, where you can see real experts at that game, played with the finest brandy.”

“I shall watch with interest.”

***

They set off together down the corridor, passing a number of crewmembers, who wished them a Merry Christmas.

“Merry Christmas,” they replied, “Merry Christmas,” “Merry Christmas.”

“And a Happy New Year,” Spock added on one occasion.

Kirk raised an eyebrow as this improvisation.

“I have made extensive research into the appropriate response to Christmas activities. I understand that ‘Merry Christmas’ can be answered with the same, or extended to include a ‘Happy New Year’. I understand that it may be appropriate to wear brightly colored hats. Also, that people may possibly expect recompense in return for disturbing you and singing a few bars of unsophisticated and often out of tune songs. Most oddly, I am also lead to believe that should one be presented with a small, cylindrical, paper devise containing explosives, that the correct response is to pull it.”

Kirk spluttered a chuckle. “Yes, I suppose that does seem a little odd.”

“Indeed.” Spock shrugged slightly in response to the bizarreness of human behavior. “However, I am confident that I shall be able to react appropriately at Dr McCoy’s ‘party’.” Spock appeared to be trying the word out for size in his mouth.

“I’m sure you will.”

They reached McCoy’s door and knocked.

As the door opened and they stepped through, it became clear that McCoy and Scotty had been indulging in an ‘expression of friendship’ for some time as they both began howling with laughter, and pointing intermittently at Kirk and Spock, before clutching their middles in helpless paroxysms of hilarity.

Kirk turned to look at Spock, a little unsure of what to make of this himself, and eager to see Spock’s reaction.

Spock was regarding him calmly.

And without any warning at all, Spock inclined his head to press his lips against Jim’s.

They were warm (hot!) and somehow both firm and soft at the same time and utterly shocking.

A few heartbeats passed and then Spock straightened.

Kirk was peripherally aware that McCoy and Scotty had both stopped laughing and were staring at them, open-mouthed. Mostly, however, he was staring at Spock’s lips.

He only tore his eyes away when Spock gestured ‘up’ with his chin. He looked up to see mistletoe hanging over the doorway.

“I believe that was the correct response,” Spock said and calmly went to sit down.

Kirk stood gaping at him, along with Scotty and Bones, until he finally found the sense to sit down himself.

***

The evening, to be honest, had not gone quite as Kirk had expected. McCoy and Scotty seemed to get over their entrance quickly and began regaling Spock with tales of Christmases past. Spock himself clearly thought nothing of it at all, and responded to McCoy’s tongue-in-cheek comments on the superiority of Human culture with his own special brand of Vulcan ‘jokes’.

Jim, for his part, had spent most of the evening either staring at Spock’s lips or deliberately not staring at Spock’s lips, and wondering if Spock would know the correct response to a game of spin the bottle.

The end of the evening came, as Spock had indirectly predicted, with the onset of unconsciousness for one of them. Scotty, as it happened, and so Kirk and Spock left him sleeping on the Doctor’s couch as they left.

“Jim,” Spock spoke as they walked along the corridor, “I feel I need some clarification on some of the more obscure parts of Christmas culture. Perhaps you could accompany me to my quarters and explain one issue to me?”

“Of course.” Jim, probably because he thought alcohol on severe shock was not a good idea, had not indulged in a great deal of brandy. He was still quite sober enough to be quietly amused by Spock’s request. If it had been anyone other than Spock, he would have assumed he had just been propositioned. The old ‘Christmas Culture’ line, eh?

“It is to do with the mistletoe,” Spock said as they approached his door.

Kirk groaned, inwardly. Of course. Couldn’t be about carol singers or figgy pudding, oh no.

“Yes?”

“My understanding about human culture is that the correct response to kissing is often to proceed to more intimate exchanges.”

“Yes, uh," Kirk coughed awkwardly, "yes, that’s true.”

“Is this the case with mistletoe-induced kissing, or does this particular seasonal circumstance supersede normal practice?”

“Uh. Well, I suppose that the mistletoe is a way of, um, encouraging kissing. And then the people can decide if they wish to pursue the more... ‘intimate exchanges’.”

“I see.” Spock pondered this for a moment. “And how does one tell, if the kissing is not in itself a clear sign, if further exchanges are appropriate?”

“Well, er, perhaps the passion and length of the kiss, I suppose.”

“I see.” Kirk could see the next question coming, and wondered if he’d have to give it in seconds to two decimal places. “And how long would indicate further activities?”

“It’s difficult to tell Spock,” he said, hopefully with finality. “If you start counting in minutes it’s probably a good sign.”

“I see,” Spocksaid again, as he opened the door to his cabin.

Over the doorway was a large sprig of mistletoe.

“Would you like to come in and put this into practice for me, Jim?” he asked, stepping through the doorway and turning to face Jim expectantly.

Kirk stood for a moment considering all the reasons why this was probably a bad idea.

“Sure.”

He stepped inside and as the door closed behind him, pressed his lips to Spock’s. The kiss was passionate, tender and definitely lasted more than a minute.

As he pulled away, he wondered if it was odd that he should feel such a swell of affection at the thought that his partner could probably tell him how long it had lasted in seconds to two decimal places.

“I love you,” he said, without really thinking.

“I love you, too.”

He felt a moment of uncertainty.

“The correct response, Mr Spock?”

“The absolute truth, Jim.”

END