Santa Claus is Coming to Town…Space…the Enterprise. Yeah – the Enterprise.

"Keptain?" Chekov said in a mix of excitement and confusion. He turned his wide eyes to the Captain, shaking his head, making his blond curls bounce.

"Yes, Mr. Chekov," the Captain prompted, looking up from the padd on which was listed the rotations for the next week, including leave for the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Chekov's cheeks were bright pink, his expression vacillating between eagerness and reluctance. "What is it you have to report?"

"The sensor, sir. It is picking up a distant object."

Chekov stopped and Jim tried hard not to sigh in frustration. Was he going to have to bribe his young navigator to tell him what he had seen?

"The sensor, Ensign?" Jim asked with enough of his 'captain' voice to prompt Chekov to report what he had to tell him. Finally. "Is something endangering the ship?"

"Not endangering, sir. No sir. It's… it appears to be… sir, if you vould look for yourself, please," Chekov finally said, waving at his console in unspoken… confusion? Wonder? Anxiety?

Jim crossed the short distance to the navigational console, wishing that he hadn't sent Spock to the Science Labs. Although, he'd admit only to himself, he was glad for the respite from Spock's presence and the ever-present feeling that his First Officer was judging him, waiting for him to screw up again. On the other hand, if he were here, Chekov would be attempting to explain to Spock what he had seen but was incapable of describing. Well, Spock wasn't here and it was, ultimately, Jim's responsibility. He sat in the chair Chekov vacated, looking at the sensor at which his navigator was gesturing, a little afraid he was about to be clobbered by the Russian's enthusiasm.

"There, sir. Do you see?" Chekov asked, pointing at the object in question. The sector of space they were currently patrolling was, for the most part, empty, boring, driving them slowly up the proverbial wall.

Jim stared at the sensor, certain he was hallucinating. What he was seeing could not possibly be on the little screen. No. No, it absolutely couldn't be there. Space madness was real, right?

"Sulu?" Jim finally asked, looking over at his pilot, hoping he would contradict the evidence in front of Jim's eyes.

"I see it too, sir," Sulu admitted very quietly.

"Uhm…" Jim said, wondering if command school could have prepared anybody for this. Maybe a Captain with more than six months' experience at the helm would have a more expansive response. As it was, he was utterly at a loss for words.

"What do you want to do, Captain?" Sulu asked softly, leaning a little closer. The rest of the Bridge crew were absorbed in their own tasks, no one paying them any particular attention, for which the Captain was grateful.

Jim turned his blue eyes to Sulu, comforted by the fact that his normally unflappable navigator, Sultan of Cool, was flapped and decidedly not cool at the moment. "Beam it aboard?"

"Yeah," Sulu agreed. "Yes, sir," he amended, contacting Scotty to send him the coordinates.

"Tell him bring it into shuttle bay four. Spock and I will be down there shortly," Jim said, standing up and resuming his air of confident command. Feel it and you'll become it. Sure hope that worked in this instance, he thought to himself. "Mr. Spock," he said into the convenient intercom.

"Spock here sir."

"Proceed to shuttle bay four. Don't enter until I arrive," Jim ordered.

"Understood sir," Spock responded, this time not questioning the orders. A relatively new experience for Jim.

"Transport complete, sir," Sulu said, turning in his chair to look up at the Captain. "Should I alert security?"

"Ask Commander Giotto to meet us there. I doubt we are in any imminent danger," Jim decided. "You have the Bridge, Mr. Sulu."

"Aye sir," Sulu replied, looking over at Chekov who was still staring at his blank sensor screen in wonder. Sulu shook his head and returned his attention to his own sensors which were now blessedly empty.

Jim made his way to shuttle bay 4, finding Commander Giotto waiting in the corridor with a distinct look of curiosity. Jim had found Giotto to be an exemplary security chief and he'd have to remember to thank Admiral Pike again for recommending him. Sam had an air that brought calm to those around him – as though he'd been everywhere and seen everything. Nothing seemed to rattle him and Jim was consistently grateful that Sam was on his side.

"Captain," Giotto said when Jim approached.

"We detected an anomaly on the sensor," Jim explained. "We've had… the object in question beamed aboard."

"Lieutenant Sulu briefed me, sir. Briefly." They both turned to greet Spock as he arrived. "You aren't concerned that bringing it aboard will pose a danger."

Fortunately it wasn't a question, merely a confirmation that Sam agreed with Jim's assessment. Score one for team Captain. Jim felt sure Spock was about to put him back into a deficit as soon as he opened his mouth.

"What is it you have beamed aboard, sir?" Spock asked. Yep. Team -Captain back to zero.

"Not sure," Jim said, putting his command code into the shuttle bay doors to open them. He entered, staring at what was surely a living hallucination in front of them.

"Oh my Lord," Sam breathed, stopping short.

"So you see him too?" Jim asked just to make sure.

"I do, sir," Sam said in disbelief. Jim glanced over at Spock who looked as impassive as ever. Well, no real surprise there.

"Hello," Jim finally said, approaching the man standing in his shuttle bay, dressed head to toe in red and white fur. Next to him were two diminutive figures, dressed in insulated red pants and green jackets that would keep them warm under almost any circumstance. Under their fur lined hoods, he just knew their ears would look like Spock's. And, not surprisingly, they wore shoes that tapered up into curves, the tips of which were graced with several tiny bells. Behind Santa and his elves were eight reindeer, bells jingling on their harnesses any time one of them moved.

"Merry Christmas, Jimmy," the man said, his booming voice coming out of the tiny mouth nearly hidden by his fluffy white beard. "Merry Christmas, Sam, Spock." He laughed, the sound suspiciously similar to Ho-Ho-Ho.

"How it is you know our names?" Spock asked, studying the man like a science experiment gone wrong.

"Santa knows all the good little boys and girls, Spock. And you boys have been especially good this year," 'Santa' said with another jolly laugh.

"You can't really be Santa," Jim said, shaking his head.

"Just because you don't believe in me doesn't mean I don't believe in you, Jimmy," Santa said with a twinkle in his eyes.

"Santa Claus does not exist," Spock said firmly. "There is no empirical evidence that Santa Claus ever existed."

"Yet here we are. Me and two of my elves. And my reindeer of course," Santa pointed out. "What empirical evidence do you have that you exist, Spock?"

"I am here. I live. I breathe. I think," Spock said.

"I'm here. I'm living, breathing, and thinking. I think," Santa countered with a laugh. "Ergo, I must exist. You exist, right Cherry? Daniel?"

The elves agreed that they too were living, breathing, and thinking. They allowed as how they were pretty sure they were real since they could see each other as well as those from the Enterprise.

"Santa Claus is a mythical creature," Spock said, an edge of annoyance coming through.

"Maybe you are too, Spock," Santa said, looking over at the Captain and the Security Chief. "Let's have lunch and we can talk about whether or not any of us exist," he suggested with a laugh.

"Of course," Jim said. "Can we get your…reindeer something to eat as well?"

"Do you have any carrots or oats?" Santa asked.

"We have quadrotriticale," Jim offered.

"They love quadrotriticale," Santa said with a booming laugh. "Make sure there aren't any tribbles in it."

Jim had to laugh in response to the portly man's happiness. He couldn't possibly be Santa but he sure was merry and bright. "Commander Giotto, if you would see to feeding the reindeer."

"Certainly, sir," Giotto agreed. "Do we need to approach with caution?"

"Gracious no," Santa said. "They are as friendly as a tribble. No worries there, Sam."

Sam nodded and went to the wall comm to contact…someone to bring the grain and some buckets of water to shuttle bay 4. Jim led Spock, Santa and the elves out of the bay and up to Officers' Mess. It was crowded with those off and on duty, a sudden silence descending over the room when they entered. Every set of eyes, even those belonging to the non-Humans, were fixed on the man in the red suit and his small followers who were talking in low voices to each other.

"As you were," Jim said, leading Santa over to his table to find Bones already there. "Hey."

"Jim," Bones said absently, standing to get a better look at their visitor. "Hello."

"Merry Christmas, Leonard," Santa said, laughing. "Sit back down before you fall down."

Bones resumed his seat while still staring at Santa. "You aren't real."

"Apparently I am," Santa said, sitting across from him. "Spock doesn't think I exist either. But you can see and hear me. That seems pretty good evidence. Cherry and Daniel exist too," he said, indicating the elves with a nod of his head.

"Mass hallucination," Bones tried, shaking his head.

"Nope. I'm real. We all are," Santa said, looking up at Jim. "No milk or cookies, please. I'll have plenty of those over the next week. I'd like one of your cheeseburger and fries. Cherry? Daniel?"

"I'd like grilled cheese, please, Captain," Daniel said as he unzipped his jacket to reveal a warm red sweater with a tree woven into it.

"Of course," Jim said, looking at Cherry. "Anything for you, ma'am?"

"Ma'am," Cherry laughed, punching Daniel in the ribs. "Told you he was polite."

"Yeah," Daniel said, helping her out of her jacket. She wore a sweater much like the one Daniel had on. Her red hair was in one long braid down her back, bells secured to the end.

"He's waiting, Cherry. What do you want?"

"Oh, Jimmy, I'm sorry. I'll have grilled cheese too please. And some tomato soup," she requested, climbing up into the chair beside Santa. Daniel climbed into the chair next to her, smiling at Bones who was still staring at them.

"Of course," Jim said, nodding and going to the dispenser to request two cheeseburgers, one for him and one for their visitor, as well as the sandwiches for the elves. S

"They can't be real."

"Yet as he pointed out, they are living and breathing, sir," Spock said.

Jim could only shake his head as he returned with Spock to the table, giving their visitors their lunches before sitting down. The elves were talking with great animation to Dr. McCoy, who was nodding and appeared to be listening.

"I'm in charge of all action figures," Daniel said. "And what we euphemistically call fashion dolls. You know, need to avoid those copyright infringements by calling them Barbies."

"So you make the action figures of me that are always frowning?" Bones asked.

"Don't you, Leonard?" Santa asked, eating a fry with surprising delicacy.

"Yes he does," Jim volunteered. "That's why we call him Dr. Grumpy."

"I'm not two of the dwarves, you infant."

"Leonard," Santa said, shaking his head. "Name-calling does not become you."

"But he…" Bones stopped, having no desire to finish that sentence. He would not be reduced to whining. Absolutely not.

"That's a good boy," Santa said in approval. "Now we can bring you that new Mach 6 tricorder you've had your eye on."

"How is it you know about the next generation of medical technology?" Spock asked Santa, receiving a laugh in response.

"Spock," Santa said, his eyes sparkling. "Santa always knows."

"I'm in charge of the toy weapons," Cherry was telling Bones. "I make the replica phasers. And the lightsabers. If Jimmy continues to be so well behaved, he may be getting one under his tree."

"You're spoiling the surprises," Daniel chastised. He shook his head, returning his attention to the Captain and Santa who were discussing the party that was scheduled for that very evening.

"No, not everyone celebrates Christmas," Jim confirmed. "But we took a vote. 97% of the crew wanted to have the party. Nobody's required to attend."

"Oh very good, Jimmy. An excellent way to decide," Santa said in approval.

"So you'll stay for the party? Then I won't have to pretend to be…well, you," Jim said with a smile.

"We'd love to stay. I think we may have presents for all the good crew boys and girls," Santa laughed.

"Isn't the party early, Captain? Christmas isn't for another week," Daniel said.

"We're on shoreleave starting tomorrow," Jim explained. "We want to celebrate before we scatter."

"Ahh…" Daniel said. "Where are you going, sir?"

"He's staying at Starbase Pink Floyd," Bones answered before Jim could. "I told him to come with me to Earth but he refused."

"My place is with the Enterprise," Jim said, trying to convince himself as much as everyone else at the table.

"Your sense of responsibility is never in question," Santa assured Jim, one warm hand on Jim's arm.

"Thank you, Santa. Not everyone is as convinced," Jim said. Before anyone could ask what he meant, Uhura and Scotty came up to their table. They both looked… shocked.

"Yes, it is quite a surprise, Nyota. You are looking well, Monty," Santa said, laughing.

Uhura glanced at Scotty who could only stare at the visitors. "How's Mrs. Claus?" Uhura finally asked, at a loss to know what else to say.

"Oh, Nyota," Santa laughed. "She'll be very pleased to know you asked after her. She's fine. Wonderful in fact. Busy overseeing the elves as they hurry to finish the last minute wishes."

"Aren't you a wee early?" Scotty asked, his eyes still wide in wonder.

"It's a big universe, Monty. Takes a while to cover all of it," Santa explained. "The reindeer could use some of your magic."

"I think they have plenty of their own," Scotty said, shaking his head. "How long can you stay?"

"Until after the party. Then we have to fly away fly away fly away home," Santa said, adding another ho-ho-ho for good measure.

"Of course," Scotty agreed.

"When you have your lunch, come and join us," Jim invited.

"Aye sir. That we will," Scotty said, going with Nyota to get their meals.

"May we have a tour of your ship after lunch, Jimmy?" Santa requested as he ate his cheeseburger.

"Of course. I'll be glad to show you around," Jim naturally agreed. "Spock, you'll go to the Bridge?"

"Actually, if you have time, we'd like you to come too," Santa said before Spock could respond to Jim's request.

"Sir?" Spock asked.

"If Santa wants you to come, you should come," Jim agreed with a smile. Because, really, nobody outranked Santa.

"As you wish, sir," Spock said.

"Yes, Joanna did tell us she wants a pony," Cherry was saying to Bones. "I think she'll have to wait one more year."

"Jocelyn would hate it," Bones said hopefully.

"Now, Leonard, you know that's not in the spirit of the season," Santa told him.

"I know," Bones sighed. "Worth a try."

Santa could not help but to laugh at his expression before turning to chat with some of the crew who had built up enough courage to approach the jolly man in the red and white suit.

When lunch was complete, Scotty went up to the Bridge while Jim and Spock took Santa and the elves on a tour of the ship.

"And this is rec room 6," Jim said as the doors opened to admit them. "This is where we'll have the party." There were quite a few members of the crew already busily decorating the huge room. The party planners stopped what they were doing; all eyes turned toward Santa and his elves.

"Merry Christmas," Santa said as the crew approached. "You've done a wonderful job decorating."

"Thank you, sir," Lt. Matherson said, his brown eyes wide and curious.

"Oh now, Jason. I'm not a sir," Santa laughed. "You have a place for me to sit tonight? So I can listen to the Christmas wishes of the good boys and girls?"

"Yes…Santa," Jason responded, going to the love seat close by the artificial tree in the huge windows that looked over the stars. "Is this okay?"

"It's perfectly lovely. The tree, though," Santa said, tilting his head to one side to consider it. The tree stood shy of 2 meters, some lights twinkling on its branches. With one wave of his hand, the tree was magically transformed to stand a little over 3 meters high, every inch seemingly covered with twinkling white lights, an angel with wide white wings standing guard on top. "That's more like it," Santa said.

"Santa," Jim said in surprise. "That's… wow."

"You're welcome, Jimmy. All part of our service," Santa said with a ho-ho-ho.

"We're planning to take pictures of those crew who want them," Jason said, gazing at Santa in undisguised wonder. "Do you object?"

"Of course not, Jason. They'll want to share them with their family and friends," Santa acknowledged.

"Not to insult you, sir, but will you show up in the pictures?" Jason asked tentatively.

"Oh Jason," Santa said, laughing. "Of course I'll show up. You see me, don't you?"

"Yes," Jason agreed, looking at Spock who gave a tiny nod of confirmation that he, too, saw Santa which seemed to help convince Jason that the jolly man was indeed real.

"Will you be taking the pictures?" Cherry asked Jason, smiling up at him.

"I will for part of the time," Jason agreed. "We'll be taking turns."

"Makes sense," Daniel said, pulling Cherry by the hand over to where two of the crew were setting up a Nativity scene. The crew was glad for the help of the elves, much laughter coming from that corner of the rec room.

"We'll have plenty of food," Jim told Santa. "But for now, I'm afraid I need to return to the Bridge. Too much to do before we dock."

"Of course, Jimmy. We'll see you at the party," Santa said, watching as Jim and Spock left the Rec room, Spock one step behind his Captain. Santa shook his head before turning his attention to the crew waiting patiently to talk to him.


"He must be real, right?" Jim asked Spock as they took the lift up to the Bridge.

"All evidence suggests that he is, sir," Spock said, staring straight ahead at the controls of the lift that seemed endlessly fascinating to him.

"Still doesn't make sense," Jim said mostly to himself.

"If you were able to ask for one thing from him, what would it be, Captain?" Spock asked, surprising Jim. That was not the sort of question he would ever expect to hear from his stoic First Officer. Flights of fancy were not high on the list of his conversational topics. Comments on his Captain's failings were much more common. Nearly endless as a matter of fact.

"I don't know," Jim admitted. He turned enough to study Spock, wondering at the almost expression on his face. "What would you ask for?"

"To admit to my…wishes would not be appropriate, sir," Spock said.

Jim nodded at that. "I'm guessing your wish would be to have a Captain you consider competent. One you can respect," Jim said, no bitterness in the words for all that they sounded harsh even to his own ears.

"Sir?" Spock responded, his surprise evident to them both.

"You don't exactly keep it a secret, Spock. That you serve as my First Officer despite the fact that you don't believe in my abilities as Captain."

"I hold no such beliefs, sir," Spock said, studying his Captain as though he had never seen him before.

"Lift, hold," Jim ordered, staring at Spock. "Seriously, Spock? You really expect me to believe that? You criticize me. You correct me. You nag me. You do everything short of telling me I'm incompetent."

"Sir," Spock said, his eyes widening slightly.

"Surprised I figured it out, huh? Well. There it is. You want a new assignment for Christmas? I'm sure Pike will be willing to grant you that wish," Jim said with a shrug. He was going for casual and hoped to high heavens his supposed nonchalance hid the fact that he was quietly crumbling inside. They had danced around this for far too long. Who would have thought that the jolliest of all mythological creatures would be the one to finally put an end to the pain Jim felt every time Spock expressed his disappointment in his Captain?

"Captain… Jim," Spock said, correcting himself and surprising Jim. "I… apologize. I hold no such thoughts concerning you… your abilities. You …I have watched you grow from cadet to Captain and there is none other I would choose to serve."

Jim shook his head at those words. "I'm not angry, Spock. Disappointed, yes. First-Spock said we were destined to be friends. That is clearly not the case in our timeline."

"Jim," Spock said more sharply. "You have no reason to be disappointed. If I could ask Santa for one gift for Christmas, it would be that I be granted the courage to tell my Captain of my true…feelings for him. And they would not be disappointment or anger or…." Spock's voice trailed off, Jim studying him intently.

"What is it you are saying, Spock?" Jim finally asked, hoping to God he wasn't about to be assaulted by his First Officer in the lift. Because Spock surely couldn't be saying that he…admired Jim. That went counter to everything Jim knew Spock thought of him.

"I am saying that the professional admiration I have for you has grown into more. Much more," Spock said quietly, his black eyes softer, almost pleading for understanding.

"Okay. Wait. I'm confused," Jim admitted, his hand rubbing his forehead. "You're saying that you don't think I'm a complete… idiot who should have never been given command?"

"I do not think you are any kind of idiot. Except that it has taken you an inordinately long time to realize that what I want from you is not entirely appropriate for a First Officer to want from his Captain."

Jim took a deep breath, wondering if the mass hallucination Bones was sure they were suffering from was causing him to think that Spock was on the verge of propositioning him. Spock who scolded and cajoled and disapproved. Spock who was now confessing that Jim had become much more than just his Captain and was about to give Jim the only gift he'd ask from Santa if he were brave enough to admit it to himself.

"If you were to talk to Santa, would you ask him for me to be in your bed instead of under your tree?"

"Or your bed. As long as I was there as well," Spock agreed, taking one step closer.

"Why are you always so…stern with me? I just knew you hated me," Jim said, still trying to get the world to make sense. Because it no longer did.

"I want to ensure that you are the best Captain in all of Starfleet so that we remain on the flagship, together. On our ship."

"Our ship," Jim repeated, his blue eyes shifting from Spock's sparkling black ones to Spock's lips that suddenly needed to be kissed. And who was Jim to deny anyone in need?

When they finally parted, when they could finally breathe independently, they each took a shaky step backward.

"This isn't Christmas magic, right?" Jim asked with a dazed look on his face. "I mean. Tomorrow you'll still think the same thing, right?"

"I have thought the same thing for far too long to change my mind now," Spock said in a warm, quiet voice.

"I…" Jim shook his head, leaning against the wall of the lift. "Are you staying on Starbase Pink Floyd for leave?"

"Only because you are," Spock confirmed. "Is there a destination you would prefer we visit?"

"I don't care," Jim said, shaking his head. "There's a really nice hotel on the station. We could go there."

"Only if they have beds intended to accommodate two," Spock said in a seductive whisper, his breath caressing Jim's ear.

"Oh God," Jim said, shaking his head. "You have to stop."

Spock nodded and straightened, taking one long step back. "Of course."

Jim regretted the distance but knew it was for the best. He pulled down his gold shirt, schooling his face to what he hoped was an appropriately Captain-like expression. "Lift resume." The lift went back in motion, not that Jim was paying any particular attention. He was too busy staring at Spock and wondering if he was bound to wake up and discover it was all a dream. He sure hoped not.

Somehow they made it through the rest of their shift, glad that there was little demanded of them. When Beta arrived, Jim very much wanted to drag Spock to his quarters and make sure it was really his First Officer that had said those things in the elevator. But they had to at least put in an appearance at the Christmas party. Once they had exchanged uniforms for leisure clothes, they met in the corridor to go to the Rec Room.

"Have I mentioned that those jeans conform to your body in a most esthetically pleasing manner?" Spock asked Jim in a low voice as they walked down the corridor.

"Oh God," Jim groaned, hoping no one would notice that the front of his jeans suddenly conformed to his body in a tight, embarrassing manner.

"That shirt is most effective in deepening the already appealing blue of your eyes," Spock added.

Jim staggering to a halt and taking a deep breath, leaning up against the wall to retain his balance. He was suddenly light headed but not surprised by it.

"You have got to stop," he said in a husky voice.

"Is that what you really want?" Spock asked innocently.

"You know it's not. But we have to at least show up. I'm already fighting the urge to do inappropriate things to you in the hallway. You talking to me like that isn't helping."

"It would not be inappropriate," Spock said, his eyes innocent. But there was the faintest green blush painting his cheeks.

"What I want to do to you isn't inappropriate. Doing it right here would be," Jim said quietly, leaning just a little closer to provide the information he already possessed.

"Indeed," Spock said, one eyebrow cocked. "What do your plans for me include?"

"Shut up. I'm begging you," Jim said breathlessly. His jeans were definitely a size too small now.

"Is that an order, sir?" Spock whispered, the words brushing against Jim's ear.

"That's it," Jim said, turning back the way they had come and walking as quickly as dignity would allow to his quarters. "Get in here. Now."

Spock nodded, entering Jim's quarters. The doors barely had time to close when Jim had Spock pressed up against the wall, hands fighting clothes, breathing coming in snatches, lips consuming tongues and mouths.

They finally surfaced, sated and certain, limbs tangled in an inelegant heap.

"Wow," Jim said, one finger delicately tracing the graceful curve of Spock's ear.

"Indeed," Spock agreed from where his head rested on Jim's stomach. "Do you suppose they will notice we are not at the party?"

"With any luck, they'll think you didn't want to attend and think I decided to keep you company. Let's hope that's the way it goes, anyway."

"Which means we are not obligated to attend," Spock said.

"I need to at least put in an appearance. After I take a shower," Jim said.

"Unfortunate," Spock responded.

"And I need to thank Santa. For making my Christmas wish come true."

"I owe him my gratitude as well," Spock agreed.

"Yeah, Jim sighed. "Although. If he sees us when we're sleeping and knows when we're awake, he should know how thankful we are for making our wishes come true."

"That is most logical, Captain," Spock said, making Jim laugh.

"Merry Christmas to us and to us a good night," Jim said, as he rolled on top of Spock to play with his best Christmas present ever. And if he thought he heard a very faint ho-ho-ho drift through his quarters, no one was going to tell him he had only imagined it.

My submission to the KSAdvent calendar on livejournal. Hope you enjoy it! Most of all, Merry Christmas to one and all!