Stardate 2260.344

(A.K.A. December 10th, 2260)

Jim sat in his chair, overlooking the bridge as they cruised through neutral space. The forecast for today was heavy boredom with slight chance of random napping. The Enterprise was assigned to star mapping, a thinkless task but something that was required. And since in the two years that Jim had been captain Starfleet still didn't quite trust their publicity stunt of a golden boy, they kept giving him vanilla tasks. Even his First Officer had voiced some concerns at their schedule.

That First Officer in question was currently standing next to the chair where Jim was sprawled in a bored, lazy heap, head on fist, peering up at the Vulcan. Spock was saying something about their current task, but Jim was too busy daydreaming, attempting to keep a bland look on his face. But in his mind, he was undressing his first, trying to imagine what was under that crisp blue tunic and black pants that were not nearly tight enough.

"...holiday events?"

Managing to catch the tail end of Spock's question, Jim blinked, his mind clearing of the space pale, green tinged body that he could always revisit later. "What sort of holiday events?" he asked quickly, trying to cover his momentary lapse.

"The doctor did not specify. He simply stated that the crew might enjoy exchanging gifts during the human festivals."

Thoroughly confused, Jim sat up from his lazy slouch. "When did you talk to Bones? Wait, no, why were you talking to Bones about holidays?"

"I stated previously that crew morale has been extremely low." Gesturing at the PADD in his hands, Spock kept his eyes locked on the captain. Jim thoroughly hoped that Spock dismissed his confusion as normal human forgetfulness or captainly stupidity. "Maybe it would be best if you chose one of the holidays to celebrate. Which one would you prefer or shall I form a committee?"

Jim had to stop and think about that one. It had been a long time since he had actually wanted to celebrate anything. Last year, the ship had been in the middle of a refitting, so everyone was off to do their own thing. He liked the idea of a shipwide celebration.

"I always enjoyed twelvetide," Jim said with a smile. "When Sam and I were still on Earth together, we would sit out on the back porch when we exchanged gifts. It was freezing, but we had enjoyed it." Up until Sam left and Jim had been forced to stay with just Frank. Then Jim stopped celebrating all together.

Spock's eyebrow arched perfectly over his right eye. Jim dreamt about that look on a regular basis, the slight confusion in human tendencies to do things they really shouldn't. "Forgive me. I am not familiar with the holiday of twelvetide," he said carefully, avoiding the topic of cold gift exchanges.

A laugh escaped the captain. "It isn't a holiday. It's-"

"Captain," came a voice from behind him. Lieutenant Uhura was watching him, one hand pressed to the earpiece on her head. "I'm getting a strange transmission."

"We'll continue this later," Jim said as he turned to Uhura. "What are you picking up?"

-o0o-

Stardate 2260.346

'Later' unfortunately never came. The signal Uhura was picking up turned out to be a distress signal from an old ship trapped in the sector. The ship, completely deserted and seemingly void of life, had proven more difficult than any of them could have imagined. Jim stared up at Bones as he was setting his broken leg, knowing what the doctor was thinking.

"Devoid doesn't mean safe, Jim."

"Thanks, Bones, but I'm thinking I'm going to save the right to lecture me for Spock when he wakes up."

The doctor rolled his eyes and pressed down a little harder than necessary on the offending limb. "If you hadn't rushed into danger, he would be awake now."

"Okay, I owe him-ow owow!" Trying to swat the doctor away from his leg, Jim let out a short hiss at Bones. "Just set the damn thing and let me get back to my quarters already."

"You know that command is going to have a few words about-"

"More than a few," Jim muttered. "I still have to file the reports, then they can yell all they want." It was no secret that every time someone was injured on the Enterprise, Jim felt immediately guilty for it, even if it wasn't his fault. He took his command more seriously than those above him could properly see. "After this stunt, I bet we'll have another year of star mapping."

"No one died, only you, your Vulcan body guard, and one member of security were even injured, and you managed to salvage the data from that exploratory ship," Bones said, not for the first time being the voice of reason. "Which is a lot better than most other captains would have managed. But that doesn't mean I forgive you for giving me more work just before the holidays."

Jim stared at the wrapping around his leg and frowned. "Remind me to send Hendorff an apology of some sort for getting him phasered. Maybe a few extra cupcakes?"

Bones did his best not to snort in laughter at the joke only the people on the Enterprise would actually understand. Poor Hendorff had yet to live down the infamous nickname bestowed upon him by the captain. "And would you like me to leave a note on your bedside table?"

"Shut it before I take the C out of your CMO," Jim said irritably. "And help me back to my room."

Giving one last pat at the wrap around the captain's legs, Bones shook his head and helped Jim from the biobed. "Fine. But you'll still need to talk to Spock about that away mission."

"Yeah, I know."

"And no trying to run the ship from your bed!"

Jim's crooked smile appeared and Bones just shook his head again.

-o0o-

Stardate 2260.348

Spock sat in his quarters, staring down at his PADD with an annoyed expression. Whoever said that Vulcans showed no emotions had never seen one get exasperated. He could find nothing on the ship's on board library about 'twelvetide', nor in the ship's databanks. He even tried the often incorrect Stellarpedia in hopes to find some reference, but came up dry.

His final hope was the digital book he was downloading onto his private systems, labeled 'Terran Holidays for Beginners', from the Vulcan Science Academy library. It had cost him a ridiculous amount of credits for a digital copy, but in attempts to please Kirk, he was willing to sacrifice them. If this proved fruitless, he would have to ask one of the humans on board, and that idea made him shudder. Spock was not one to declare defeat, ever.

A chime went off on his PADD and Spock looked down, seeing that the book had finished downloading. He opened it and searched quickly for the section on Terran winter holidays. He found explanations on everything from Christmas, Hanukkah, Saturnalia, Advent, Yule, even Newtonmas, but nothing on twelvetide. Just as he was about to snap the PADD in half, his eyes focused on something labeled 'Twelve Hours of Christmas'.

There was only one paragraph relating to the actual celebration, the rest was history. Spock focused his attention on the paragraph, reading it through carefully.

'Celebrants observing the Twelve Hours may give gifts on each of them, with each hour representing a wish for the corresponding month of the new year. They feast and otherwise celebrate the entire time through Epiphany morning. Lighting a candle for each hour was a tradition in earlier centuries, however in current times, the simple lighting of the Twelve Hour lights is used instead."

Spock stared at the PADD once more, his mind working in overdrive. A gift each hour, on the hour. He did some quick calculations and reasoned that the celebration must go from midday to midnight on Christmas day, which he was well familiar with.

But that also left him with another problem. Each hour was celebrated with gifts, which Kirk had already claimed an enjoyment of. Spock let out a quick sigh. This would be harder than he originally thought. They would pass a starbase just before Christmas, but by only a day or two, depending on if there was a crisis. He could order his gifts and have them sent there and collect them, but if something went wrong, then Twelvetide would be ruined.

With this in mind, he started searching for the perfect gifts for one James Tiberius Kirk, his mind full of any ideas that seemed to match up with where he wanted to be with Kirk during the corresponding month.

-o0o-

Stardate 2260.359

Jim was a bit disappointed. Spock seemed to be actively avoiding him and now, sitting in Rec Room 4 with the entirety of the bridge crews from all shifts, his first officer was across the room in a discussion with Uhura about whatever they find to talk about during parties. The gift exchange had happened first thing in the morning, and his secret Santa had picked him out a suspiciously familiar unlabeled bottle of whiskey that he was tempted to take back to his quarters and test out. Other gifts, from close friends, had been exchanged, but the only other gift he received was from Bones, which was a bottle of brandy specifically designated for 'medicinal use only'.

At this rate, he was sure everyone would think he was an alcoholic.

There had been no gift from Spock. Jim had scraped together enough money to buy a specially made Vulcan IDIC pendant for his first, hoping that he would appreciate it, but instead Spock had stared at the item blankly and quickly thanked the captain. Confusion and some minor worry came from Jim then. He previously believed himself and Spock getting on better, but now, he wasn't so certain.

It was approaching midday and he had promised the current bridge crew that they could cycle out and enjoy the party. Since there were no pressing duties to attend to, Jim signaled for Sulu and Chekov to join him as the skeleton crew to take over. The rest would be able to enjoy the party in it's fullness.

When he reached the bridge, the realization that this was no better than sitting in the rec room with everyone else dawned on Jim even as he planted himself in the captain's chair. This was going to be a long and rather uneventful Christmas if he could accurately predict anything.

The early morning gift exchange was starting to take its toll on the captain who had consumed far too many of the colorful sweets and was starting to nod off when his yeoman tapped his elbow gently. She had three cups of what smelled like cocoa flavored coffee (where she had obtained it would be a mystery to Jim) and a small box wrapped in silver. The cups she handed out and the box she placed in Jim's hands.

"Who's your gift from, captain?" Sulu asked, taking a sip from his cup. Chekov looked up from his own cup, causing himself to accidentally burn himself on the hot liquid, which went largely ignored by the other two.

"There's no tag," Jim responded, glancing at his navigator as the younger man sucked in air quickly. "Yeoman, some ice for Chekov." His eyes went back to the box in his hands and he slid his finger under the silver wrapping paper, pulling it open. Someone had taken a great deal of time to do this by hand, the folds perfect around the box. With some effort, Jim managed to pull the paper free without ripping it and set it aside.

Sulu laughed at that, standing so he could come up and take the paper. "Since you went through so much trouble saving this, would you mind if I made something of it?"

"Go ahead," Jim replied, not looking up from the box. It was the same silver as the paper, and he slid the top free, confusion the first emotion becoming evident on his face. With the tips of his thumb and forefinger, Jim carefully gripped a tiny flower, frozen in stasis, and lifted it from the white pillow it was resting on. Holding it up, he looked at the creation, no bigger than two inches in height even with the stem, and turned it slowly.

The overhead lights caught on the glassy surface of the flower, bouncing off in shades of yellow, reflecting the colors onto his hand. With the same confused expression, he looked up to see both Chekov and Sulu watching him from where they were.

"A daffodil?" Sulu asked, setting the paper aside as he walked slowly back to the captain's chair, bending so he could take a closer look. "Perfectly formed and frozen at the height of its beauty." The pilot looked at Jim, his eyes narrowing. "Who would send you such an expensive gift?"

Jim was speechless, his mouth moving but no words coming out. Who would send it? He turned the perfect little flower in his hands, looking at it from every angle. With no tag on the gift, of course he had no idea, but it was a strange sensation to be given this little beauty.

"Interesting," Sulu continued. "Whoever it is...you may want to find out. The daffodil is the symbol of unrequited love, a wish that the receiver return the sender's affections." A grin suddenly lit up Sulu's face. "Captain, I believe you have a secret admirer."

"Great," Jim said with no enthusiasm. He placed the flower carefully back in the box and set it aside, both elbows landing on his knees and his face burying itself in his hands. After the debacle of picking out the wrong gift for Spock and not receiving one at all in return, all he needed was some crew member crushing on him. With the non-fraternization regulations, the only people he could even think about having an affair with were the CMO and the XO.

Bones would rather boil his crotch in fifty different acids than sleep with Jim. And for all he knew, Spock felt similarly.

This Christmas was turning into a disaster.

-o0o-

Stardate 2260.359 Supplemental

After receiving two more gifts on the bridge, Jim was more than glad that his short stint was up. Picking up the box with the flower, the bag with the heart shaped violet crystal, and the single wrapped copy of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, all of which confused him greatly, the captain retreated from the bridge and took the lift down to the living quarters. He wanted to drop the gifts in the nearest airlock, but he wouldn't do that because even if they were from a secret admirer, he was the captain and he expected civil behavior from himself.

What he didn't expect was the stuffed animal sitting in front of his door. Glancing each way down the hall (and especially checking Spock's door to make sure the Vulcan didn't see the embarrassing amount of presents), he grabbed the animal and opened his door, making sure to lock it behind him. The gifts were dropped on his desk and he stopped to look at the stuffed animal. It was big for such an item, the size of a small child, with a red and green bow around its neck.

It looked almost like a bear, but with tusks and a tail that ended in a little tuft. Jim picked the thing up and dropped it into his chair, turning and intending to go to the party still being held in the rec room. Maybe by this point someone had spiked the eggnog and he could drink without worry of needing to be back on the bridge anytime soon. If not, he was sure Scotty would do the honors if he just asked.

-o0o-

Stardate 2260.359 Supplemental

To say that Spock was confused and very downtrodden was an understatement. He saw Kirk enter the rec room and move over to the refreshment table, appearing distraught and extremely stressed. The captain wasted no time in reaching for the now alcoholic eggnog, tasting it, and the pouring himself a large cup. Five minutes and forty two seconds passed with Kirk downing drinks before McCoy intervened, leading the captain away from the refreshment table and to one of the small benches set up.

Spock walked over as well, watching as Kirk spoke in whispers to McCoy. Even his Vulcan hearing could not make out what was being said over the sound of 'Deck the Halls' playing loudly from the speakers, so Spock closed the distance and sat on an adjacent bench, his cup of tea in one hand, looking at the captain.

"Is there something amiss?" he asked quietly, leaning forward slightly so both Kirk and McCoy would know he was addressing them.

The doctor gave Spock a cursory glance and shook his head. "Just Jim getting bent out of shape over a few surprise Christmas gifts." He gave the Vulcan a half grin. "They were from an admirer, apparently."

"I don't need someone on board thinking that I'm going to be romantically involved with a subordinate," Kirk said from between his hands, which he was currently resting his head in. Spock grew cold on the inside from his words. "But at least I'm pretty sure that they could only afford the four presents on the salary we receive."

No sooner had Kirk said that then his yeoman came in with another wrapped package. Spock had spent the entirety of the day previous carefully planning the delivery of the gifts, and now he was regretting that attention to detail. He had known where the captain would be by his previous study, and as the woman crossed the room to hand the gift over, the look on Kirk's face told him that deciding this course of action was clearly a mistake.

Kirk would not return his affections. Instead he was showing signs of revulsion, anger, and annoyance.

This gift was the carefully constructed wrap style tunic, made with a beautiful green fabric lined in gold and sized specifically to the captain. However, Kirk did not even unwrap it and instead stood, storming from the room, leaving behind Spock and an extremely confused McCoy.

"I was unaware that the captain would hold such animosity towards receiving gifts," Spock said quietly to the doctor. At McCoy's snort of laughter, Spock turned back to him instead of staring at the door that had closed behind Kirk. "I am also confused as to why this is so humorous to you."

"This is the first time I've seen Jim receive a gift intended to show interest and not act on it. He must really not like the sender." McCoy's locked eyes with Spock, his smile crinkling the corners of them. "Any idea on who it is? So I can laugh harder."

Instead of answering, Spock stood and walked out of Rec Room 4, retreating to his room. The last gift would tell the captain exactly who it was, if there was any doubt in Kirk's mind. The stuffed sehlat should have given it away, and Spock took his confusion and, although he was reluctant to admit it, hurt, back to the safety of his quarters, a locked door, and his meditation mat.

-o0o-

Stardate 2260.359 Supplemental

If Jim could slam his door, he would. But that was impossible with the sliding doors, so instead he gave it a good kick to show his displeasure, fracturing three toes in the process. In the past eight hours, he had received eight different gifts of varying value and meaning, the last three being a tri-d chess set in gold and blue, a small box of chocolate candy molds with meltable chocolate, and an extremely nice set of brandy glasses. Now, sitting in the medical bay getting attended to by one of the nurses on duty, he was staring at the ninth gift that he had yet to open.

This one was in a box that was twelve inches long, three inches wide, and three inches deep. He just stared at it, afraid to open the thing. Having received boxes exactly this size in the mail before and knowing what they contained, there was no way in hell he was opening it in front of Nurse Chapel. And if his secret admirer knew him this well, knew that he liked these objects, he would have to talk to security tomorrow about it. He couldn't have a stalker aboard the Enterprise.

His toes were still sore but mostly healed as he walked back to his room, box firmly grasped in both hands. It was with a severe level of uncertainty that led him to slide into an alcove so he could check what was in the box, his curiosity getting the better of him.

Popping open the hinged lid, Jim was met with solid black foam. It took him a moment to pull the foam free, exposing the object inside. And the heat coalesced in his cheeks at the sight. Jim was instantly glad he hadn't opened this in front of Chapel. He would never have lived it down.

The perfect green tinted clear phallus sat on a lower bed of foam, protected on all sides from damage. It was nine inches long, with a double ridge at the head, slender shaft, and a crafted ball on the end for grip. Jim felt his stomach contract at the sight. It was truly a work of art.

Hearing someone coming down the hall, Jim hastily replaced the foam protector and snapped the box shut, leaning against the wall as casually as possible as the random ensign passed by. He was partially glad that this holiday was almost over, but part of him wondered if his secret admirer would send any more gifts.

The captain made it back to his room and let the door slide shut again, happy to not kick it once more.

-o0o-

Stardate 2260.360

It was just past midnight when Jim received the twelfth gift. The silver envelope was handed to him by an exhausted yeoman, and Jim, equally exhausted, thanked her before the girl turned and disappeared down the hall again. He turned and walked slowly back to his chair, moving the stuffed animal before he sat down, hugging the creature close as he opened the envelope. Even if the gifts were a little creepy, he would not deny that the animal was soft and very huggable. Instead of being added to the stack sitting on the desk (which now had a set of passes into one of the prime rest resorts and set of beautifully set emerald rings) the animal fit perfectly into his arms.

The paper inside was folded into exact thirds, and Jim unfolded it, seeing that whatever this was contained three pages of hand written words. The script was elegant, and he took a moment to just admire the beautiful lines, covering over the page in a swirling dance of letters. Jim shook himself out of his momentary daze and started at the top of the page.

Captain,

By this point you have received the previous eleven gifts as is customary in your Twelvetide celebration. I do hope you found them a satisfactory representation of my intentions. When you first mentioned the holiday celebration, I was forced to research into it and found it an intriguing and worthy undertaking. In the spirit of-

His reading was interrupted by a ringing at his door. Jim looked up from the letter and called for the door to open. To his chagrin, Spock entered, the door sliding shut behind him as he looked at the captain, one eyebrow raising as his gaze leveled on the stuffed animal in Jim's lap. It was unceremoniously tossed aside as Jim crossed his legs to look a little more casual, knowing that he failed miserably. Now Spock would believe him an even more illogical human than before.

"Captain, I wish to apologize for my misunderstanding of your desires for the holidays," Spock said, taking one more step into the room. "It was my own fault, and I will accept any sort of demerits you feel appropriate for my transgressions."

"Spock...I don't understand." Jim stood, setting the letter aside to read later. "What transgressions are you talking about? Do you...you didn't do anything this Christmas." Jim saw his eyes go to the stuffed animal on the floor, and Jim turned to glance at it once before comprehension dawned on the captain. "Do you know anything about these gifts, then?" he questioned slowly, carefully, turning so he could study the Vulcan.

Spock never looked nervous. He was always cool and collected. But here, standing before him, was what Jim could only call a nervous Spock. He was shifting, his hands clasped behind his back, his eyes averted.

"I must admit that I was the one who sent them. In accordance to your Twelvetide festivities, I found gifts I was hoping would represent the months of next year."

A smile started forming on the captain's face. "Spock. Um...thank you? But...why did you send them all today?" That was what bothered Jim the most. It wasn't the gifts themselves, but the frequency of receiving them.

"The text I read to research the holiday said that it was usual to send each gift on the hour, such as in the song 'The Twelve Hours of Christmas'." Spock finally looked at Jim. "Had I known that you would not be receptive of the gifts, I would have not sent them."

Jim laughed. He couldn't stop himself. "The...Twelve Hours of Christmas?" Unable to stop laughing, Jim doubled up slightly, pressing the heels of his hands into his eyes. His entire stressful Christmas was caused by what appeared to be a mistranslation. "Spock, it's the Twelve Days of Christmas, not hours," he managed to get out, looking up at the Vulcan.

Spock's cheeks were quickly coloring green. "Days," the Vulcan repeated. "Next year I will be more prepared. And hopefully you will find my gifts more acceptable." He gave a nod of his head, the signal that he was ready to leave.

Comprehension once more dawned on the poor captain. Jim could have kicked himself as his mirth slowly died and he walked forward. One arm snaked past Spock's shoulder and blocked his access to the door. "Wait, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have laughed. But Spock, you have no idea how much I was freaking out." He looked up at his first officer and froze, swallowing hard. "I..."

What did he say to that stoic face and eyes that were looking at him with such despair. Most said that Spock was emotionless, but Jim knew better. He watched, he saw. But here, with those brown orbs burning into him so intensely, words failed. Whatever he would say wouldn't be eloquent, but would be the truth.

"Look, if that was a declaration that you liked me, I guess I should tell you that I reciprocate those feelings." There, he even managed to throw in a few words that Spock could approve of. "The daffodil, the symbol of wanting love returned. Spock, I return that love."

Emotional outbursts were not acceptable Vulcan behavior. But the moment that Spock pushed Jim against the wall and pressed his lips against Jim's, the captain would have bet that Spock wasn't thinking or giving two damns about acceptable behavior. His thinner form pressed the human up against the cool metal, hands running down his arms to entangle fingers as Jim licked at the crease in of Spock's lips until they parted, granting him entrance.

This was more intense than any other kiss in Jim's formidable sexual history, and he managed to push back when he needed to breathe. His head met the solid wall behind him with a small thud, bringing him back to reality as he gasped to regain control over his body.

"So that's a 'yes, it was a declaration of love', then?"

Spock nuzzled his neck, and Jim could almost feel the Vulcan's facial muscles twitching against his skin as he controlled the urge to smile.

"That would be the logical conclusion," Spock replied quietly.