Chapter Five

Christmas Eve had at last arrived and Uhura's party was in full swing. Everyone was atired in their finest uniforms, and no one seemed to mind them, not even McCoy grumbled, possibly because there was plenty of refreshments to appease him. Uhura, Rand and Chapel with glasses of eggnog in hand, were congregated around the illuminated Christmas tree, Kirk was trying to convince the carolers to do a repeat performance, and Scott was torturing the entire gathering with a very warped rendition of "We wish You a Merry Christmas" on the bagpipes he claimed had been passed down through generations of his family. "I wish he'd stop that." groaned Sulu, who was giving the enthusiastic scottsman a wide birth.

"It sounds like he is killing a targ." Chekov grimaced.

Casting his eyes about, Sulu knew someone was conspicuously absent. As if reading his mind Chekov said dolefully, "I don't think our plan vorked, Hikaru. He isn't in enough of de Christmas spirit to come to de party."

Sulu had to admit sharp disappointment. He'd been so sure once Spock experienced all the holiday had to offer, he would be agreeable to participating. What more could they have done to get past his vulcan reserve? Uhura had made it a point to invite him to the celebration, so he couldn't use that as an excuse. "At least de computer and all systems have been repaired," commented Chekov, "it vas not fun being crammed in a turbolift for over an hour."

"No, I don't suppose it was," Sulu said distantly, his mind still whirling with possibilities of Spock's choice to separate himself so thoroughly from the rest of the crew.

He was certain they had done all they could to include him in what they considered to be a time for social interaction on a more casual level, but perhaps Spock didn't want to be reached on a personal level. Throughout the celebration he tried to push Spock from his thoughts, but the shadow of his absence lingered. It just wasn't right for one of their own to be so completely alienated. Of course, no one had alienated him, he'd gone to a conscious effort to be alone. "Cheer up," Chekov coaxed, "maybe he's sick and can't make it."

"Spock doesn't get sick." countered Sulu sullenly.

"Vell, maybe he is now." persisted Chekov.

Sulu didn't answer, he was more interested in the person now entering the rec room. "Why Spock, you old tease," the doctor called, "we thought you weren't coming."

There was a hesitancy in Spock as he joined McCoy and Kirk at a nearby table. "I have not been engaged in any practical amusement, doctor."

"We're glad you came, Spock." Kirk added.

"Turning down Uhura's invitation seemed very ungrateful, and would be considered poor behavior."

"So that's the only reason you're here?" demanded the doctor, "so you won't hurt Uhura's feelings?"

Looking nonplussed Spock said, "I have also come for another reason."

They waited but Spock was content to keep them in suspense. "Well?" the doctor grouched irritably, "are you going to make us guess?"

Now even more reticent, Spock turned to Kirk. "Captain, may I make a request of you and the rest of the crew?"

Kirk looked bewildered. "We'll do anything we can, Spock."

The captain stood, raising a hand for silence. It took a few seconds for conversations to die and for Chekov to tap repeatedly on Scott's shoulder to mute his bagpipes before the desired result. "Are ye goin' tae make a speech, captain?" Scott called out.

Kirk shook his head. "Fortunately no."

There was a round of laughter before he continued. "Mr. Spock wishes to make a request. Please give him your full attention."

Several pairs of curious eyes instantly turned on the vulcan who rose with some trepidation and began. "Your dress uniforms are sufficient for this environment."

"He vants to talk about uniforms?" Chekov whispered to Sulu.

"Shhh." Sulu hissed.

"However, if I may, I would like to suggest a more suitable environment for this celebration."

This was the last thing any of them had expected and it was Uhura who spoke first. "A different location, Spock? Where?"

"That will be disclosed after you all have returned to this room wearing winter atire."

Conversation broke out but Spock quickly overrode it. "I realize this is a peculiar request, but if I may be permitted to continue?"

He looked to the captain for approval. Once given Kirk was the first to make his way to the door. "I suggest we follow his orders." he told the rest of the startled crew.

With everyone bundled in coats, scarves, hats, snow boots and gloves, the rec room was extremely stuffy. Once Spock had counted everyone present he gestured to the captain. "If you will all follow me, please?"

In bewilderment, everyone filed in to the corridor after the vulcan. "What do you suppose this is all about, Pavel?" Sulu asked.

"I haven't de faintest idea." Chekov said, "all I know is dat dese clothes are overheating my blood."

They trailed Spock in to a rarely used corridor, stopping as he punched in a security code and the doors slid aside. "If you will all please enter."

Obediently they did so, and Chekov jerked to a stop in complete amazement. Everywhere he looked, whiteness stretched before him. There was a dusting of white on the benches dotted here and there about the room, white powder on several evergreen trees grouped around an ice-covered pond, and white granules drifted softly over the entire scene. In wordless awe, Chekov leaned down to scoop some of the... "Snow?" he breathed in wonderment.

"I believe that is the proper term for it." Spock affirmed.

"Spock." Kirk exclaimed softly, "How? Why?"

Spock actually appeared startled that Kirk had to ask. 'I am attempting to conform with the holiday, Jim."

"You...are?" Kirk asked haltingly.

"Indeed." Spock answered.

"But ye didna have tae go tae all this trouble, Mr. Spock," Scott pointed out, "you could've come tae the party and that would have been fine. Not that I donna wholeheartedly approve of this winter wonderland it's"

As if Scott hadn't spoken Spock continued his explanation. "On the day the tree was decorated and the group of officers entertained us with Christmas carols, Uhura reminded us of the custom that carolers must have snow in order to fulfil their duty. As they were dressed quite improperly for the heated environment of the rec room, I thought to recreate a portion of the custom so they might enjoy their singing in a more suitable location."

Complete and utter silence filled the snow covered gathering as they stared in wide-eyed astonishment at the first officer. Spock had gone to such great lengths to accomodate a holiday they all loved, and the thoughtfulness was so extraordinary, that no one moved or was able to give voice to their emotions. No one would have guessed this reticent, often times baffling and mysterious man of two worlds, could be capable of such deep sentiment and friendship. "Spock, this is great!" Kirk finally managed, "but how did you do it? How were you able to create snow?"

"I researched several human databases containing holiday customs, so as to be well informed of what the season required. Then I was able to locate several diagrams of old-style earth snow machines. The design was simple enough, and it was not difficult to create a similar device, with more accurate results."

Again silence overwhelmed them before Sulu began to applaud. "Three cheers for Spock!" he cried.

Following his lead, all the crew exploded with cheers and whoops of joy. "This emotional outburst is not necessary." Spock said, but his voice was drowned in the tumult of boisterous cheering.

The carolers, who no longer needed to be prodded in to performing, struck up a lively version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" before moving on to "Silent Night". Everyone clapped and praised them, giving them a standing ovation, so that they performed one last carol before returning to their friends, glasses of replicated hot chocolate and cider in their hands. spock took the brief lull in activity to inform the captain of his puzzling conclusion with the computer malfunctioning and the link that didn't exist between that event, and the one that had taken place in his quarters. "I am at a loss to explain the malfunctions, or who or what might have caused them," he finally admitted, "nor can I explain how the computer was repaired so easily. It took me less than 7.5 minutes to return everything to the proper parameters."

Kirk heaved a heavy sigh. "I'm sorry, Spock, but I believe I have a confession to make."

Spock waited, wondering what the captain had done wrong this time. Most likely it had something to do with breaking another claus of the prime directive. "I rigged the computer, Spock."

Spock was stunned but quickly regained his words almost at once. "You, captain? For what purpose?"

"I overheard Sulu and Chekov discussing their plans to decorate your quarters, and their dilemma of how they might slip in at a time when you weren't there. When I realized they hadn't thought of a diversion to keep you occupied, I decided to take matters in to my own hands."

"You caused the malfunctions, captain?" Spock asked, not particularly to receive confirmation of his statement, but to clarify things in his own mind.

"That's right, Spock. I was only doing my part to get you in to the holiday cheer."

It never crossed Spock's mind to mistrust his captain and friend, and this time was no different. He was aware of Kirk's fondness for including all his officers in activities he thought they might enjoy, but never would Spock have guessed him capable of such subtle acts of sabotage. He said as much to Kirk who only laughed. "Well, I had to do something, didn't I?" he protested in his defense, "nothing short of malfunctioning equipment could keep you from meditation. Just doing my job to ensure all my officers are happy and satisfied."

Spock nodded, deciding to let the matter drop. After all, the mystery had been solved and that made things a lot less complicated.

Spock wasn't certain who threw the first handful of snow, but that was all it took for a snowball fight to get under way. For once Spock didn't point out the illogic of this childish game, but when Kirk hurled a snowball at him, he had no choice but to reciprocate. Taking careful aim, he launched his missile. It struck Kirk right between the eyes, and spluttering in surprise, he wiped a gloved hand across his face, blinking snow from his eyes. "What did you do that for, Spock?"

With all the innocence of an emotionless vulcan, spock replied, "I was only defending myself, Jim."

A gruff laugh heralded McCoy's arrival. "He's got a point there, Jim."

Kirk whirled to face him. "You're agreeing with Spock? Are you feeling all right?"

Realizing what he'd inadvertently done, McCoy scowled then said quickly, "It's the season of goodwill, and even pointy-eared vulcans deserve that much."

"You may keep your goodwill if it makes you feel any better." Spock told him.

It was Sulu's approach that finished the argument. "This is really great, sir." he commented to Spock.

"It is simply a way to keep up the crew's moralle." Spock explained.

"So do you forgive us for decorating your quarters?" Sulu wanted to know.

"There is nothing to forgive, Mr. Sulu," he returned, "you were simply behaving in a manner befitting your human status, and for that I can't fault you."

Sulu exploded with laughter and moved off to find his own snowballs. "You know, Spock," Kirk mused, "I think you're getting the hang of the hollidays."

"I believe your assessment is too optimistic, Jim. However, I will admit it is a rather officient way to illiminate stress for the crew."

"So it is," Kirk chuckled, "so it is."

McCoy's eyes glinted, but not with amusement or annoyance, but with something that looked suspiciously like tears. Not wanting to embarrass the doctor, Spock made no comment, but it appeared the doctor was still feeling enough of his goodwill to continue to freely give it. Looking solemnly at Spock he said in all earnestness, "Merry Christmas, Spock."

taken aback by this direct kindness from the usually grumpy doctor, Spock found himself at a loss for words. He raised his hand in the vulcan salute, then deciding another more appropriate response was in order, he lowered his hand and said with equal solemnity, "Merry Christmas, Dr. McCoy."