Yay! Christmas fic! Or Christmas ficlets, in this case. I figured it would be easier to put them all in the same place for the sake of housekeeping. Some will be fluffy, some will be angsty, some will be drunken and some will be very, very logical. At the moment there are six, but there are a couple of ideas I've been percolating on that might get added in at the end if I get my act together.
This one is inspired, and lifted in parts from the brilliant Scientific Inquiry into Santa (with some adaptions to fit Trek verse) that comes out of the woodwork in my office once a year.
Since the fic is called Glad Tidings, and since I love you guys and you are awesome, I figured I'd share some glad tidings of my own: turns out the plague is less plague and more a serious case of pregnancy. Best early Christmas ever! Hubby and I are over the moon, though he did a good job of panicking like the overgrown manchild he is. I'll say this though, if I'm sick for another seven months, he and I are going to have a serious falling out. On the plus side, maybe he'd feel bad enough to let me call the kid Zefram :p No? Shoot!
Bones slumped miserably into the kitchen and took a seat at the breakfast counter. Jim had his Warp Physics assignment spread over every inch of the surface and his nose buried in a digital manual.
Given his propensity to lose himself in his work, McCoy wasn't offended when his friend didn't even acknowledge his presence. The silence did make his mom smile though, emerging from the oven with a plate of piping hot gingerbread men.
"Leo, sweetheart," she dropped the smile once she saw his expression, "what's the matter? Is Jocelyn alright?"
"Unfortunately." McCoy grumbled, thinking all kinds of uncharitable things about his ex-wife.
His mom set the rack of cookies down on the counter after clearing away several of Jim constructed work mountains. He didn't notice, not until the waft of hot, sweet cookie hit his nose, then he looked up curiously from his work, "Oh hey, cookies!" He said cheerfully, reaching for one.
"Wait for them to cool, young man." Eleanor scolded, slapping Jim's hand lightly. Jim pulled his hand back, big eyes looking wounded, and it took all of five seconds for her to cave and nudge the tray closer. "Fine, go ahead, but if you burn yourself, don't be complaining to me." Jim lit up like a Christmas tree and began to nibble on the arm of the first gingerbread sacrifice.
"Thank you!" He said politely, "oh hey Bones, when did you get here?"
Bones rolled his eyes. "Haven't you finished that yet?" He said, waving a hand at the pile of work. He had his own assignments he needed to work on, but the majority of his work at the current stage of his Starfleet education were practical and lab work, things not easily transported home with him. Jim and his insane 'I can do it in three' schedule had about four times the workload.
"Nearly." Jim nodded. "I'm just crosschecking some of the variables against subionic temporal shifts in the Alpha Centuri Nebula."
McCoy stared at him. "Jim. You know you're in the Command Track, yes?"
"Yes?" Jim said slowly, arm devoured.
"Okay, so while I get that Warp Physics is not an elective you can drop, you are already the top of that class, which, half the actual Engineering students hate you for, by the way. Give yourself a break already."
"I'm nearly done, promise. Man, these are good! You're like a baking genius Mrs McCoy!"
"Thank you Jim." Eleanor smiled at him. "You want some juice?" Jim beamed at her in delight, somehow managing to look all of five years old despite the complex equations reflected on his face from the PADD in front of him.
Still feeling exceptionally irritable, McCoy scowled at his friend. "Why exactly is it so important, anyway?"
"Because I want to be Captain some day." Jim said, voicing a dream that McCoy knew well.
"And you'll have a Chief Engineer to tell you all about this stuff."
"Yeah, but I'm still responsible for the ship, which means I gotta understand her. Besides, I like physics."
McCoy rolled his eyes. How the hell Jim maintained his rep for being a devil-may-care cad when he was clearly the single biggest geek McCoy had ever met was beyond him. "I suppose you're going to learn how to perform emergency surgery then, for when it all goes to hell in a hand basket?"
"No," Jim said, looking at him like he was the idiot, "that's why you'll be my CMO. I know stuff, you know stuff, it's all the same." Jim accepted his glass of juice with another brilliant smile. McCoy just about managed one of his own when his mom passed him a glass, the smile on her face making it clear how amused she was at their antics.
"God help me." Bones muttered.
"Well someone woke up grumpy…er today." Jim eyed him critically. "What crawled up your ass?"
"James Kirk." Eleanor scolded, her silent laughter safe behind Jim's back.
Jim blushed. "Sorry."
"It's Jo." McCoy sighed, instantly killing the levity in the room.
"What's wrong with her?" Jim asked, one step away from panic.
"Nothing's wrong with her." Bones said hastily. "I mean, she's not hurt or anything." Both Jim and Eleanor relaxed.
"Then what's the problem sweetheart?" His mom asked, coming to stand next to Bones and take his hand.
"Some little bastard at her school went around telling all the little kids that Santa isn't real." Even saying it out loud sounded silly, but damnit, this was a very big problem!
Jim stared at him in bewilderment while Eleanor took a seat at the counter next to him, a smile tugging at her lips. "Oh dear."
"And my darling ex-wife, instead of having the balls to deal with the problem herself, said, do you know what she said?" He didn't give either of them time to answer, "she said, 'ask daddy'! As if daddy has any idea what to say to a four year old who has just discovered that she's been lied to her whole life!"
"Bones, I think you're throwing this way out of proportion." Jim said soothingly. "Like, way way out."
"Really?" Bones said, getting more worked up, "because you're not going to have to be the one to have that conversation."
"Come on Bones, you have tough conversations every day!"
"Telling your daughter that Santa isn't real is not the same as telling a patient that they have a terminal illness!"
"So stop looking like it is!" Jim said exasperatedly. "Look, why is this such a big deal? I mean, sure it's not great, but kids have to face these kind of truths about life sooner or later. It's sort of the way the world works."
"Oh yeah? How old were you when you learned Santa wasn't real?"
"Same age as Jo, actually." Jim shrugged. "Some snot nosed Ensign burst that bubble. Pike made him scrub the latrines with a toothbrush." He adopted a sappy sort of smile he often got when thinking about aspects of his childhood that most people would not have found even half as endearing.
McCoy sighed. "It's just…kids grow up fast enough as it is. She's growing up fast enough as it is. I miss so much, I just….I want her to still have this."
He was suddenly fixed with an intense stare, the kind Jim gave people when he was stripping them down and trying to see the truth of their intentions. Eventually his expression softened to something determined.
"Okay then, so let's do this."
"Do what?" McCoy asked, utterly lost.
"Physics, Bones, physics! And some math. Mostly math, actually. Oh, I'll need more juice, and probably four more of these." Jim pointed to the gingerbread men with an innocent smile. "Oh, and one of Jo's big drawing pads!"
When Jocelyn dropped Joanna off after school there was none of the usual fanfare of her arrival. She gave Bones a halfhearted hug and slumped dejectedly towards the kitchen.
"Miss Joanna." Jim greeted her with a nod and far less boisterous enthusiasm than usual.
The same could be said for Jo, who only sighed. "Hi Uncle Jim." How the hell someone so tiny could sound so jaded was utterly beyond McCoy.
"I hear the Great Santa Debate has arisen at your school." Jim said seriously, as only Jim ever could when talking about Santa.
Jo looked up at him, her eyes swimming with tears. "Billy Michaels said that Santa isn't real and only babies believe in him." She sniffed miserably and McCoy wondered if it was out of the realms of polite society to give Billy Michaels a good hiding. Jo was a baby for godsake!
"Oh he does now, does he?" Jim frowned, arms crossed over his chest. "Well Billy Michaels is an idiot, and uneducated ignoramus and quite possibly a poo poo head."
That started a surprised giggle from Jo who suddenly lit up with the possibility of an ally. "Do you believe in Santa, Uncle Jim?"
"I believe in science, JoJo, and science says it is totally possible for Santa to be real." That made McCoy raise an eyebrow. Not quite the argument he expected Jim to come out with.
'But Billy Michaels says there's no way Santa could ever deliver that many gifts in one night. He says it is impossible!"
"Oh, and is Billy Michaels better at math than your Uncle Jim?" She quickly shook her head. If you asked Jo, no one was better at anything than Uncle Jim. Except perhaps telling Uncle Jim he was an idiot, in which case her daddy had that prize. "Exactly. Now hop up here and I'll prove it to you."
Jim held out a hand and she raced across the kitchen so he could help her climb up into one of the stools. Her digital drawing pad was already set up and ready to go.
"Now," Jim said authoritatively, "we are going to look at this retrospectively, because with the intention of teleportation I'm fairly sure the big guy is just sitting around on his tush having a well deserved break after a few centuries of bringing joy and sparkles, don't you agree?" Jo nodded rapidly, even though Bones was sure she probably didn't understand at least one of the words Jim had used.
"So we're looking at Santa's operation before we developed warp capabilities, which, let's face it, are even more impressive." Jim continued. "Now, let's start with reindeer."
"Reindeer can't fly." Jo said, her shoulders slumping again.
"Kiddo, If I can get your daddy to fly then I'm betting Santa can get reindeer to do the same." Jim winked.
"Very funny." McCoy said gruffly, even as Jo giggled again.
"I'm kidding, I'm kidding!" Jim laughed. "Seriously though. At this current time, there are probably still one hundred thousand living organisms on Earth yet to be classified, so while we haven't discovered any flying reindeer, that doesn't mean they aren't just really shy." Bones shared a look with his mom.
"You gotta be kidding me…"
"Hush, I'm listening." Eleanor nudged him with her elbow.
Jim ignored both of them, firmly in teaching mode and his focus fixed on Joanna. "So, that problem solved for now, let's look at the numbers. There's what, two billion kids on Earth right now, yes?" Jo shrugged. "Two billion seven hundred and ninety six thousand four hundred and nine, at last census anyway, but we'll round things off." Jim prattled. "Okay, so last time I checked, Santa doesn't usually visit Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Jewish kids-"
"Well despite the fact that he's been a secular figure for like four hundred years now, some people believe that he represents a an intrusion of Western-"
"Jim, lay off the socio-politics and stick to the math." Bones warned, foreseeing a long winded rant on the subject.
"Oh right, yes. Well, anyway," Jim scratched the back of his head. "Assuming then that reduces the workload to fifteen point four percent of that two billion, again, we'll go with fifteen…that's three hundred, seventy eight million at a rate of three point five kids per average house hold, that's ninety one point eight million houses." Jo stared at him, her mouth open. It was obvious she had no idea at all what he was talking about, but she was enraptured anyway. Jim carried on, oblivious to the looks he was attracting from everyone in the room.
He scribbled those figures down on Jo's pad. "Right, so let's assume Santa is a smart guy, I mean he must be, right?" Jo nodded in awe. "Right, so he's going to be moving east to west, which means he has thirty one hours of Christmas in which to do all his deliveries. So that's eight hundred and twenty two point six visits per second."
"Do you have any idea what he is talking about?" Eleanor whispered in Bones's ear.
"I'm a doctor, not a mathematician!"
Jim carried on, clearly having great fun now he was in the swing of things. "Right, so Santa has one thousandth of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left – which is why I suggest soft foods, less chewing - get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house. Assuming that each of these ninety one point eight million stops are evenly distributed around the globe -which, of course, we know isn't true but for the purposes of our calculations we'll just run with it - we are now talking about zero point seventy eight miles per household on a trip totaling seventy five and a half million miles-" he continued scrawling on Jo's pad, "and we should probably allow the guy a few bathroom breaks with all that whiskey he's drinking - which means his sleigh is moving at six hundred and fifty thousand miles per second, which is three thousand times the speed of sound, and man, you can bet he gave Zefram Cochrane a pretty awesome gift the year he cracked the warp equation."
"I think Cochrane was Jewish." McCoy put in.
"Then he probably just sent a very polite thank you note." Jim carried on smoothly. "Anyway-"
"But Uncle Jim, how does Santa fit all those presents in his sleigh?" Jo piped up, impressing McCoy completely with the fact that she hadn't lost interest even if she didn't understand everything.
Jim bounced from one foot to the other. "A very good question Miss Joanna! Have a cookie. Wait, now I want one. Hang on." Jim passed her a gingerbread man then bit the head off his own and hastily swallowed. "Right. The payload! Let's assume here that Santa's being practical and all his gifts are on average two pounds or less, the sleigh is going to be carrying three hundred and twenty one thousand, three hundred tons, not including the big guy himself, who I don't think we should judge given the number of mince pies he has to work his way through-"
Bones cleared his throat again and Jim pulled himself back on topic. "Anyway! So now assuming these flying reindeer of his can pull ten times the weight of their earthbound counterparts, we'd need two hundred and fourteen thousand, two hundred of them and they would…" Jim's animated expression suddenly froze for a moment but then turned into a bright, cheerful grin that fooled far too many people. "So there we have it, it's a big operation for sure, but if Starfleet can do it, so could Santa!"
Jo seemed to ponder over that before brightening. "So Santa could be real!"
"I'm not saying he is for certain, but Billy Michaels sure does have his facts wrong!" Jim said brightly.
Jo erupted into cheers and wriggled down off her chair. "I'mma tell mommy!" She shouted, running from the room to her bedroom.
"That was surely something!" Eleanor laughed.
"Jim, what is it? You look like someone just stole the last cookie from under your nose." Bones frowned, seeing the truth of that fixed smile.
Jim raised sad eyes to look at him from across the room. "Two hundred and fourteen thousand, two hundred reindeer, Bones! That totals the combined weight of the sleigh to three hundred and fifty three thousand, four hundred and thirty tons, which, flying at six hundred and fifty miles per second creates enormous air resistance. The lead reindeer will absorb fourteen point three quintillion joules of energy. Per second. Each. In short, they will burst into flame exposing the reindeer behind them, and create deafening sonic booms and a big goddamn mess! The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within four point two six thousandths of a second. Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces seventeen thousand five hundred point six times greater than gravity. Which means Jolly Old Saint Nick would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by four million three hundred fifteen thousand and fifteen pounds of force."
The utter distress on the kid's face was mind-boggling. "Wait, what are you trying to say here Jim? Science killed Santa?"
"No! Poor delegation skills killed Santa! You'd have thought a guy who had that kind of global vision would have at least been able to hire a half way decent crew!"
"Jim, Santa isn't real." McCoy said slowly.
"Shut up." Jim glared, turning to his equations as if he could change them with the force of his own will.
"Oh no, we are not having another Kobayashi. Give me that."
"I'm taking that test again, Bones."
"So you've said." McCoy grumbled, wrestling the pad away from Jim before he could lose himself in the math. "Now for the love of god, sit your ass down and eat another cookie."
"I don't want-"
"I just finished up a batch of your favorites, sweetheart." Eleanor said kindly. "You wanna help me decorate them when they cool?"
Jim paused, considering. "Can I make the frosting?"
Bones groaned. Jim had absolutely no artistic talent at all and somehow managed to make even his mom's beautiful baking look utterly inedible by the time he was done frosting them. Eleanor glared at him. "Of course you can sweetheart. Leo, why don't you help?"
"Yeah Bones, stop being so grumpy." Jim smirked.
"I'm not the one who killed Santa!"
"I didn't kill Santa!"