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Love Is a Shield (or how to celebrate Christmas on the Enterprise)

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It had just turned November on Terra and James Tiberius Kirk, Captain of the Enterprise, found himself with a new problem at hand. Well, with an additional one anyway. Being the Captain of the flagship apparently made him the perfect man to find solutions to every and any problem possible on a Starship as big as the Enterprise.

He was sitting on the observation deck to watch the stars fly by; taking a needed breather. The last week of constant bickering with the Admiralty about the Enterprise’s reputation in the Federation and her supposed course into uncharted space while simultaneous running his crew through some important fight simulations had been stressful at best.

That didn’t stop small and bigger disputations between different crew members from being brought to Spock’s and his attention for a solution.
The assigned Therapists were doing their jobs amicably but his crew was still not operating in the standardized parameters of a normal Starship - mainly due to most of them being exceptionally young for the job, paired with all crew members having a form of PTSD or surviver’s guilt after the encounter with Nero and being the sole surviving percentage of cadets in their class afterwards.

 

He had hoped his crew would grow together into responsibility in the time between Nero and the now started five-year mission. However, leaving Earth for longer then a handful of months seemed to take its toll.

Sighting, he sunk deeper into his blanket and took a sip of his hot chocolate - and yes, he was very much defying doctor’s orders. However, what Bones didn’t know could not make him throw a hissy fit. To avoid too many hypos, I could always claim the stress reducing qualities were outbalancing the nutritional shortcomings, or something. Jim snorted.

That just sounded like something Spock would say. I should ask him for forgiveness, even if I’m still a bit pissed at his silent approval of that ‚scientific discussion’. I’ll come back from this mission with more gray hair than proper for my age.

Jim’s face was partly illuminated by the passing stars as a small smile graced his lips, up to his tired eyes. Last week he had been forced to settle a fight between one of Scotty’s engineers and a scientist of Spock’s department. Naturally one should think the First Officer might be held responsible for such a thing. Jim was forced to intervene himself, however, as the fight had simmered and evolved into a low-key competition between not only two whole compartments but also his two senior Officers.

 

After listening for the good part of two hours there was no way Jim could take part in any further discussion about the correct pronouns and original gender of his ship in the foreseeable future without a slightly hysterical outburst into childish laughter.
Being the captain, he decided to forward the solution of this question to Uhura and Chapel who were both neutral parties and brilliant enough in their fields to find an answer to questions like this. After reading a report half an hour ago (including some beautiful drawings of his ship as a female ballerina) that the discussion could, in fact, not be ended with the proclamation that the Enterprise was a demi-girl with she/her and they/them pronouns, Jim officially gave up his sanity for the day and went to his hiding spot.

As the captain needs to follow the protocol in every problem solving, he decided to bann Engineering from a three month long worth of Scotch consumption. (Jim indeed knows about Scotty’s secret alcohol production early on. In choosing to overlook the Scotsman’s still he simply restricted his compartments drinking habits.) In turn, he only allowed Spock to take samples on the away missions in the coming months.

He was self-aware enough to know that he had half-assed himself out of this situation by all means. To come up with creative punishments was a surprisingly good stress relief and after the last month of stress he simply couldn’t care less.

In his joy to have found the solution to his first problem only five minute in, Jim secretly replicated a hot cocoa instead of the Vulcan tea Spock had made him drink on more than one occasion.

 

Gazing at the stars Jim recapitulated the last missions and rebounded to the hysterical parts of his job on a space ship again.
The incident in medbay last month for example. (A sudden malfunction that lasted a week and had Bones in a bout of temper rivaling a healthy Klingon any day. Getting the engineers to work in the doctor’s territory made some of McCoy’s staff aware of the ongoing competition between Scotty and Spock. Naturally, they fueled it with providing information about different concepts of Gender norms around the Federation.).

Moreover, some humming plants had somehow escaped from Sulu’s botany to wreck havoc in a recreation room filled with instruments. Jim was forced to cut short an audio call with an Admiral to investigate the ‚running specimen of vegetable origins‘ on one of the lower decks.
The admirals face at Spock’s message made him crackle the whole way to the turbo lift. His crew gave him the crudest sense of humor in the galaxy, of that he was sure by now.

 

Long story short, until today Jim had forgotten to schedule a short shore leave around Christmas this year, for he had simply forgotten the festivities around 85 percent of his crew were going to follow. He himself had never truly celebrated Christmas and was surprised he managed to remember it. (Jim celebrated Christmas only the one time on Tarsus IV with his aunt and uncle. A bittersweet memory, forever tainted by the following year of hardship and hunger.) Where did the chocolate go, dammit? Jim frowned into his now empty cup.

 

Nevertheless, as a Captain he wished for his crew to enjoy the fest of love and friendship with every fiber of his heart. Curse the Admirals, for they still didn’t really trust his abilities to lead on his own and had restricted the shore leave in the first two years drastically.
To prove to his crew that he cared about their wellbeing as much as they started to care about his, he would simply have to organize some sort of gift giving that involved as less time to prepare and as much joy for the recipients as possible. Without issuing a full two week shore leave. Some food stuff maybe…. sweets, that was it! Two days of accidentally shore leave were always doable somehow.

 

Standing, he stretched his limps, took the blanket he stole from Chekov yesterday under one arm, dumped the now used cup into the bin and walked out of the Observation Deck. With a new spin in his steps, the Captain headed towards the recreation rooms to recruit at least his helmsman and his navigator for a new task. He had a sweet present exchange to work out.

 

ß — ß — ß — ß — ß — ß

 

Surprisingly, his idea got not only the acceptance but also the support of his senior staff. In fact, Uhura liked his idea so much she subtly tried to usurp him on more than one occasion.

On their first meeting, she and Chapel took over the organization for who would give the sweets (or drinks) to whom. As Uhura was the ‚assistant for cultural acuteness‘ and her best friend the ‚assistant for correct biological needs‘, their teaming up put the term power couple into a new dimension.

Sulu and Chekov teamed up as well to write and send out the messages - and be the spokespersons for any arising questions. Apparently, these two were part of practically every chat group on the Enterprise and on quiet shifts did live-blogging sessions of the happenings on the bridge. Jim had speculated about their constant activity even at the most boring times and wasn’t really surprised. It would certainly explain why Scotty and McCoy both knew so many inside jokes born on the bridge.

To speak of the devil, these two showed up on the second meeting, grumbling about how they were needed elsewhere. Against all odds, both announced their willingness to help with drinks and organizations in their respective departments. Chekov’s comment on Scotch and Mint Juleps being actually invented in Russia made Jim’s Head Engineer and CMO unequivocally team up against the young Russian with mocking outrage. Before the discussion could be blown out of proportions, through, some accident in Engineering immediately needed both their attentions.

That was the last time with all of them in a room together, as Spock and Jim were responsible for collecting all the food, and they had agreed to do this project in the spare time after shifts.

 

All in all, Jim was hopeful. This was not just to make the bonds between his general crew stronger but also helped with the communication and teamwork between his senior crew members. He should have known that a James Kirk never has it simple in terms of good intentions.

 

ß — ß — ß — ß — ß — ß

 

If one would pause for a moment and think about his record of landing in med bay, pretty much everyone in this crew told you: James Kirk definitely ends up in med bay after every away-mission - at some point. Either the captain was wounded himself or he had to look after the crew member who was wounded instead. Most times this crew member was nicknamed the green blooded hobgoblin these days.

 

After getting poisoned by some weird alien flower, the captain awoke in med bay with only foggy memory of the last two months and just panicked.
His heart rate was alerting Bones who in turn could not do anything to help Jim’s memory loss. Except giving him a hypo for stress relief and having Jim listen to the next healthy lecture about not plucking every damn alien plant on every corn field in bloody existence!. Jim was apparently no ‚fawning damsel in distress in need of a bouquet‘, and should get his act together.

 

Sadly, Uhura had heard this part of Bones rant and had let go of a small snicker before going up to her captain’s bed to convince him of giving her the executive rights on his gift giving project. As Jim was getting higher on drugs every moment of their argument she easily won this round and went to gather the Alpha Bridge crew to go over the last details.

And exactly like that, around the 22nd of December on Terra, I am your favorite space goddess, Kirk! Nyota Uhura had to save his day against his will by grasping his plan of Secret Santa-ing the Sweets out of his bare hands for real.

There was nothing much left to do, just delivering the presents correctly and, well, see the joy on the faces of his crew. And that was now Uhura’s privilege.

 

Why does my life punish me? Was this punch for liking people possessing as much stubbornness as beauty? Jim’s thoughts trailed off into a deep sleep filled with singing flowers and Spock laughing about them, Chekov and Sulu debating about the origins and merits of the Mohawk while fencing and Bones wearing blinking tinsel.

 

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Waking up what felt like the next day, Jim saw a mildly concerned Vulcan standing beside his bed. Judging by the small frown between Spocks eyebrows his Number One remembered the flower plucking incident all too well and was in no mood to refrain from a logical reprimand.

Still, Jim had to discuss the more important topic first.
„Spock! It’s a relief to see you in good health. As I was just telling the doctor: I need your help. Uhura is stealing my gift giving idea because I ‚cannot pull it off now that I’m injured‘.“
At Jim’s quotation marks Spocks eyebrow started to raise even higher than before.

„I am clearly having only surface wounds here. These are going to heal in no time, I have no need to give up my secret project.“, Spocks second eyebrow started to go up as well, but Jim was honestly starting to get agitated. This was his work and he wanted to do end it.
„Tell your girlfriend I am in no need to give up my organization because I’m as good as healed- Ouch! Bones, stop it already! I got three hypos since… being here. Don’t overdo it!“, Jim whined. Except that a Captain does not whine, but hey - nobody present should be surprised by his antics anymore.

Bones harrumphed, „I am doing my job, kiddo. You stop that complaining of yours about non-existent wounds and I may let you out the day after tommorow. You could still act like you should’ve done all the present giving Nyota and Christine are doing right now.“
He gave Jim another shot, „Aw, Bones!“ - „This is the last one, Jim. Now, get some deep breaths and stay in bed. I can always inject you with more sleeping aids if necessary.“, and with that his friend was gone again.

„How does he do that, Spock? He hypos me every damn time without me seeing it until it’s too late…“, Jim frowned. Come to think of it, that should not have went out of his mouth. Or be considered a truth; he did saw the last one coming. Maybe Uhura had made some good points about drugs at her visit. She had smiled at him constantly, if he remembered it correctly.

 

At the sudden silence, Spock - standing at the end of Jim’s bed now - spoke up for the first time since his arrival.
„Captain, I had planned to explain to you the merits of using a tricorder before collecting or consuming alien plant life. But as you yourself may have discovered by now“, the Vulcan eyebrows weren’t raised anymore.
His lips had, however, a small quirk wich indicated infuriation against better logic - huh, where did that come from?

„You are still under the influence of Dr McCoy’s medication and therefore your ability to form clear thoughts is in some ways restricted. I must depart for the bridge now, captain and it is likely my return will be in one of your REM phases.
However, I assure you that the 45 percent of your crew who has already received their present are well aware of your involvement playing a key factor.“, and with a last nod, and a murmured „Good night, Jim“ the First Officer was gone.

 

ß — ß — ß — ß — ß — ß

 

Somehow, now Jim was in a state of slight confusion about his feelings. He never cared about Christmas in itself, but had clearly developed a slight obsessions over the last month. Maybe the stress had come to bite him the bottom.

On the other hand, to work with Spock on anything was always a treat and therefore had motivated him to give his best in this as in all the other works he did with his Number One. To explain to the Vulcan why humans made gift giving into a tradition on the day a religious figure was allegedly born - well, he had had honestly more fun with researching Religions than he’d have expected.

 

As he was still feeling the aftershocks of Bones medication that relaxed his body his mind tried to rewind to the moment he had called Uhura Spock’s girlfriend. Had he actually seen the Vulcan’s eyes twitch nervously for a moment? Or was his own wishful thinking making things up?

Whilst sleep came over him again, he pondered over the depth of Spock’s brown eyes and how funny it was that they had the color of melted chocolate.

 

ß — ß — ß — ß — ß — ß

 

„Oh, come on Bones! You cannot be serious. The flower was definitely digestible or else it would not have smelt enticing to me.“, Jim sat on his bed for an examination, wildly gesticulating to cover up his instinct to flee. The doctor gave him an unimpressed look over a Pad before rummaging in his kit for the correct hypos.

„Take Spock for an example. He found me sitting near a patch of them and wasn’t affected - at all! And you cleared him for work over 30 hours ago, so that means you think so as well.“, Jim started to whine again, he knew that. But after having constantly too much work to do and then being forced to do nothing but lay here and sign paperwork on his Pad was suffocating.

 

„Don’t do your puppy eyes on me, Jim. I am serious. The plants smell shouldn’t have hit you so hard in the first place.“, and there was the first hypo accompanied by Jim’s slight grimace.
„I bet you have barely eaten and only caught some sleep because the hobgoblin stole your Pads again.“ Jim suddenly found a great interest in Bones tricorder sitting on the desk beneath his bed.

Bones shoulders slumped as he caught the blonds eyes.
„Listen Jim, your immune system is as weak as a hatchling’s again. Your body does not agree with your non-existing sleeping pattern and replicated snack bars.“,
Jim tried to defend himself but got cut off immediately by another hypo and a shushing hand wave.

„It pains me as much as yourself to keep hearing your sorry complains.
However, you need more rest. That bloody flower didn’t react with Ensign Synco as intense as with you and in this regard xis immune system is laughable.“
To Jim’s relief, the hypo was disregarded for a tricorder.

„So, that’s the last hypo for today - yes, I promise, kiddo! Now, lay down, your green blooded hobgoblin should be here any moment to give your brain some thinking to do.“, ranted Bones while he urged Jim into the bed and stored his medication kit away.

 

Laying down, Jim eyed his CMO’s back with knitted eyebrows,
„How do you know of Spock’s intentions to visit me, Len? Oh, you talked to him about me, didn’t you. And you two have worked out a plan to have me confined to this hell- “,
Jim stopped mid sentence as a slightly unfocused Spock entered sickbay in a hurry. Jim had never seen a Vulcan with ruffled hair before, but damn, that was sexy on Spock.

The Vulcan focused on Jim, shook his head slightly and ruffling the hair back into place, put his arms behind his back and promptly came over to his captain’s bed.
(No other beds were occupied at the moment, for even Engineering tried to minimize the damage around the next two days of shore leave.)

 

Spocks eyes seemed to convey a slight inner tension as he halted in front of the two men. Jim gave him the best charming smile he could muster and Spock nodded in return.
„Doctor, as we agreed after todays alpha shift, I have arrived now. You may now leave the captain under my supervision and attend the Christmas celebration Lt. Chapel invited you to.“

The doctor just harrumphed, grabbed a bottle of Aldebarran whiskey Jim had not noticed before from the neighboring bed and left towards the exit.
Standing in the door frame, he addressed Jim and Spock with a stern glance: „Nothing beyond light activities and no bloody hamburger for the captain in my absence, doctors orders. Is that clear?“

Jim started to smile again, „ Aye, sir, Bones, sir!“ - „Oh, shut up. I’m done with you for one day, bloody …“, and with that, Leonard McCoy had left med bay en route to the recreation decks.

 

ß — ß — ß — ß — ß — ß

 

Over Jim’s snickering Spock asked him about the hung up branches of the terran plant named Viscum album scattered over the most used doors of the Enterprise and also over some private doors. Jim’s giggles evolved into a coughing fit sprinkled with laughter.

Apparently even the young Spock had learned to lie through omission, for they were in Spock’s quarters, Jim setting up Spock’s chess set and Spock pocking through his dresser in search for something mysterious.

Jim was watching his back with a glimmer in his eyes. „I cannot believe you do not know about the human mistletoe tradition, Mr. Spock. Even I know what to do with mistletoe and as you know, my family did not raise me with Christianity in mind.“
Spock emerged from his search with a small package in hand, giving Jim a raised eyebrow as answer.

While he was situating himself on the other side of the chessboard, his captain started to smile again. The Vulcan was relaxed enough around him for Jim to notice a difference between the working persona and this current display.

That was a hard earned reward for countless put up discussions, miscommunications sometimes beyond reason all weathered trough and, of course, the worst start for a relationship in any form.
Trying to get killed by Spock to gain the captaincy was still causing him guilt more then three years later.

 

„White or black, Spock?“, questioned Jim to divert his train of thoughts into safer waters.
„Black, please. As you were the winner of the last match, against my calculations.“ Spock had momentarily developed a small frown in the crinkle around his eyes and between his eyebrows.
Jim was fascinated by the small cues of emotion on that Vulcan face - only the advanced spectator would see the differences to read between the lines of Spock’s behavior.

„After our last conversation as to why you chose to gift your crew with food, I purchased a small variety of doughnuts for us. As we were both not listed on your Secret Sweets gifting list, this will be the gift for both of us.
Sadly, I had no time to make the *sufganiyot myself or query if you preferred the traditional ones.“
With that, Spock put the opened box beneath the board on the table. He was avoiding direct eye contact with Jim and his ears spurted a light green hue.

Jim’s heart fluttered. Spock once had to listen to his complains about being unable to get his fingers on traditional Hanukkah food and not only remembered it but also tried to make him a joy he would’ve forgotten for himself.

„Wow, Spock. Thank you! I’m not even guessing how much credits you must have paid for these. And they smell delicious. May I eat some now?“ Why am I able to make Spock blush with something this simple? He is in no need to impress me further, honestly. Overkill suits his Vulcan competitiveness, through…

 

ß — ß — ß — ß — ß — ß

 

While playing chess, Spock gave Jim a review on the ongoings of the ship and of the last two Alpha shifts slept away. Jim in turn gave a colorful recitation of his dreams the night before. He could have sworn that Spock’s mouth turned up at the edges as Jim described Chekov with his Mohawk and Sulu lacking any manners and shirt.

Spock recalled the efforts of the real helmsman and navigator to ‚get a Christmas party going‘ for the best usage of all the drinks and food revealed today. Jim had to laugh at more than one antic and pre-programmed mishap.

Even if ladders and the concept of baking cookies were not originated in Russia, Jim was relieved to not be allowed to attend. He was simply not in the mood for so much alcohol any longer. Or maybe it had to do with him enjoying Spock’s company far too much to not wish for him being the sole recipient.

 

The further their game progressed, the further they played in silent concentration. The *sufganiyot were eaten by now and Jim had the strong suspicion that Spock was tipsy from the jelly inside.

Spock was pondering over his last rook and how to protect his queen for over ten minutes now whereas Jim had gotten somewhat melancholy. He had enough time to study his First Officer by now and connected some loose ends about Uhura's and Spock’s emotional well-being as of late.

Now was just the question as how to bring the question up without sounding like the impolite prying it very much could be. If I weren’t interested in an romantic investment myself…Oh well, I may have developed a slight crush over the best part of this year. Dammit, Jim. Only person on this ship you’re allowed to have a relationship with and you fall in love with them regardless of them being spoken for or not… I’m awfully tired. Might be better to go to sleep soon and lamenting Spock’s love life at a later date.

Looking up from the pawn in his hands and catching Spock’s gaze, Jim suddenly felt exposed under the open gaze of the Vulcan in front of him.
Now Jim’s ears turned red as he stared back into the eyes he not so long ago compared to ‚melted chocolate'.

I could lose myself in this expressive, multi-layered windows to Spock’s soul…

 

Spock was slightly drunk tho - or he would have given up eye contact by now. He was studying Jim like the most prized art in a museum full of beauty.

Jim started to recite Klingon vocabulary to turn down his desire, but started to fidget after two more minutes of intense staring and somehow blurted out the one thing he could think of: „Do you really want to know what the mistletoe is for, Spock?“

Jim cringed and prepared for a logical response. That was the most dump and stunted thing you ever-

„I asked Nyota to explain it to me once. I wished for you to demonstrate… Since I’m no longer with her I wanted to conduct an experiment - with you. If human views on this traditions are the same…“,
Spock’s inner eyelids were slowly blinking. He had a green blush on both ears and under his cheekbones.

Jim smiled softly and stood up. As much as it hurts to let this chance go, he had to. As the captain he had to be completely sure about romantic and physical consent. And that his love life did not interfere with someone else’s romantic connections.

 

As he went to the door, he remarked as offhandedly as possible „I think we should delay our chess game until tomorrow, Spock. To be honest, you seem a bit dunk on jelly to me and anyw- .“ Spock had followed him and was holding up his hand now.

„The relationship between Nyota and myself is no longer effective, as you probably could determine through the hints both Nyota and I were giving.“ Standing in the doorframe now, Jim’s eyes widened with every word.
Did he fall asleep and dreamt this whole evening? With Bones medication that was a possible scenario.

Spock had not stopped yet: „To my regret, we faced difficulties the best communication could not solve. Therefore we wanted to consider each other good friends from then onwards and have accomplished this goal-“
A chaste peck on his lips sufficiently cut off all other logical explanations. Jim berated himself almost imidiatly for losing self-control, but it was too late anyways. Spock was, for the first time in the almost four years Jim knew him, stunned beyond reason. Apparently his first officer was not informed about the mistletoe hanging outside his own door.

He’s looking like his eyes have become an old car’s headlight. Jim’s light snort snapped Spock out of his paralyzed state.

 

ß — ß — ß — ß — ß — ß

 

In a recreation room the Christmas party most of the crew was attending to, was on its peak of success.
Team „Chulu“ had just lost against Team „McOtt“ in a contest of reinterpreting the classic Christmas song „Last Christmas“ (wich was, of course, nearly invented in Russia). McCoy had brought his harmonica and Scotty had summoned a fiddle out of nowhere, and their solos had brought the aspired prize of a flask of violet alcohol only the two of them seemed to know. And actually drink.

The four contestants were now sitting on one of the tables, drinking their beverages and watching an intense duet between Nyota and Christine.
Surprisingly, Hikaru knew not only the time period („The 1980’s, I believe. I had an friend who was into that classical punk stuff and that seems to fit the time…“) but also the band name.

„Honestly, Hika. Who would call their band Camouflage? I would practically feel the constant eyes on me!“ „I didn’t chose the name for them Pasha. Didn’t came the New Wave music from somewhere near your home-“ - „Hush now, laddies, I wanna hear their performance. They are singing good.“

Nursing his drink, even Bones was enjoying himself. So much so that he had forgotten to look after his patient for the rest of the night.
It was Christmas after all. Should the kid sneak out as much as he wished for tonight.

 

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All of Jims' doubts shattered at the feeling of Spock’s lips on his, the soft touch or his mouth electrifying his system.

Spock had not only kissed him back - for Vulcan standards rather enthusiastic - he also had thanked him for proving his theory about mistletoe to be the truth.
After wishing him a good night and a reluctant retreat, Jim could now somewhat understand the virtues of the „Viscum album“.

Lying in his own bed for once and watching the glow of his star stickers slowly fade Jim realized his crush had long surpassed the level of mere admiration. He was in love, and he knew the exact moment he had allowed himself to fall for Spock.

To keep his stars lucky, Jim decided to keep not only the mistletoes a well meant suggestion for next year but the secret gift giving as well. Who knows what he would get out of it next time?