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It is, without a doubt, the weirdest Christmas Jim's ever had.

This is not to say it's the worst, because it isn't. All the worst ones happened between the ages of five and fifteen and despite the staggering number of completely shitty Christmases (the year Sam accidentally pushed him down the stairs and he broke his ankle, the year Frank moved in and laughed at the lumpy clay pot Jim made for his mother, the first year Sam had to be bailed out on Christmas Eve, the second year Sam had to be bailed out on Christmas Eve, and perhaps worst of all, the year Sam wasn't there at all), Jim can't work up the energy to dwell on them simply because he's glad they're over.

There's no Frank in the house anymore. It has nothing to do with Jim - hell, if Jim had had any kind of influence over that particular marriage, Frank would have been gone two weeks after he moved in - and instead has everything to do with Frank tiring of Winona being off-planet more often than she was on it. There's no Sam in the house either because he's on Deneva with his own family. But Jim has Spock in his house for the first Christmas ever, and the borderline absurdity of the thing hasn't eased much since they arrived.

It isn't their first Christmas together. They had their first three on board the Enterprise as Captain and First Officer - as friends. Another two as something more than that, something that took them a while to adjust to. And then four more as bondmates officially recognized on both New Vulcan and Earth. This is their fifth one - their tenth overall - situated between the end of one long exploratory mission and the beginning of another. There's just enough time to spend the holidays with Jim's mother, something he hasn't managed since he was just an angry juvenile delinquent with no future.

And of all the things Jim's dragged home to present to his mother over the years - the frogs, the snakes, the occasional mutt, a hoverbike with no motor, an ex-girlfriend's tearful runaway sister, a couple of Riverside mechanics, and on one memorable occasion, a donkey - he never expected one of them would be a bondmate. Much less a male one. Much less a Vulcan.

So yeah, it's one of the weirder Christmases of his life. Thank god Winona has retired for the evening - it may not be the first time she's interacted with Spock but it's the first time they've spent days together in the same space, and it just adds to the weirdness. He's grateful to finally have some quiet, private time with his partner.

He's also grateful his mother still indulges in the annual Kirk tradition of spiking the eggnog. It's pretty weak compared to previous batches he remembers, so he's only barely got a nice warm buzz going by the time Spock joins him on the battered old sofa in the den. Before Spock can even say a word, Jim takes one of his hands and starts massaging gentle circles into the palm, trying to ease him out of his stiff, rigid posture. "Hey," he says quietly, "if she's making you uncomfortable we can always take off tomorrow and spend the holidays with Bones instead. Or we could head for the colony early. Or just spend some time alone. It's your call."

Spock takes a moment to respond, his spine relaxing by slow degrees. "She is... not at all like my own mother."

Jim snorts at that. "No kidding."

"I meant no offense."

"I know." He leans further into the corner of the sofa, kissing the back of Spock's hand before returning to the massage. "She didn't make some offhanded crack about your ears or something, did she?"

"Jim. Your mother is a Starfleet officer. She has no reason to make disparaging remarks about alien races."

"I didn't say disparaging. I just know she puts her foot in her mouth a lot. It's where I get it from."

Spock doesn't deny it, leaning against the sofa with his hand slowly turning to mush under Jim's fingers. "She is ... an interesting woman," he says after some deliberation, as if trying to choose the correct descriptor.

Jim chuckles at that. "Interesting," he repeats.

Spock raises an eyebrow and takes on what Jim likes to think is his stern professor look. "You disagree with that choice of term?"

"Not necessarily. I just think it's funny that you default to 'interesting' whenever something doesn't meet your standards for 'fascinating' instead."

The expression doesn't change, though Spock's spine is still making that slow merge with the battered cushions of the sofa. "Explain."

Jim tries to think of the best way to describe the difference, thumbs stroking over the pulse point in Spock's wrist, more of an unconscious gesture than a deliberate massage at this point. "The fact that I tear up more shirts than anyone else in the crew is fascinating. The ion storms around Halkan are fascinating. Those short Starfleet skirts are fascinating - don't deny it, because to this day I still catch you looking at Uhura's legs."

"And I frequently catch you doing the same."

Jim shrugs, unbothered by the fact that both of them tend to stare at his Communications Officer. It's not his fault she's got the best legs in the Fleet. "So all that's fascinating," he says again. "Whereas my mother is interesting. The fact that Chapel has an obvious thing for you is interesting. My taste in music is interesting. It's as if it's a code word for 'ridiculous' or 'unpleasant.'"

"Your mother is not unpleasant," Spock rumbles in disagreement, though it's not lost on Jim that he makes no mention of Chapel's crush or Jim's collection of classic rock music.

Jim reaches for Spock's other hand to start up the same soothing circles in his palm. "I don't know if you've noticed, but you're kind of a genius. And I know how articulate you are. And yet you default to two words all the time: interesting and fascinating. All the words in the English language and you get stuck on those two. It just doesn't seem like you, that's all."

He can see the moment Spock changes from a Vulcan enjoying a borderline erotic hand massage to a Starfleet professor, the voice changing from a low rumble to something more precise, academic. "As you know, English is not my first language. The Vulcan equivalent of the word 'interesting' is set'ki. It describes an item or idea that has caught one's notice. An alternate meaning is something that absorbs the attention. It is a temporary state, a fleeting sense of curiosity."

Jim watches him rise from the sofa to put another log in the fireplace, still lecturing him as he works. "Your musical preferences, while not to my taste, are nonetheless provocative enough to capture my interest for short periods of time."

"Is that what that is when you're grumbling about the volume? How provocative it is?"

"No, the volume simply hurts my ears. The music itself-"

"All right, all right," Jim interrupts, not wanting to hear another long-winded diatribe about politically incorrect lyrics and illogical band names. "What about Chapel?"

Spock's ears are tinged green with embarrassment though it doesn't come through in his voice. He moves back to Jim's sloppy sprawl on the sofa, kneeling at his feet and working at untying his worn hiking boots. "I find it curious that she persists in her attentions toward me despite my being bonded to you."

"And my mother?" Jim asks, slipping his feet out of the boots and using one to skim along Spock's thigh. Spock is like a work of art with the fire flickering behind him, and Jim congratulates himself on keeping his attention on the conversation rather than staring at him like an idiot.

"I have not yet puzzled out my opinion of her and will therefore have to use my... 'default,' as you say; she is interesting. I am unsure what further meaning I can ascribe to her."

Jim can't help smirking at him. "So for English being your second language, you've managed to think up alternate descriptions for two interesting things so far. Imagine the possibilities if you tried the same exercise with 'fascinating.'"

Spock's eyebrow goes up again, but this time it isn't academic (and it's ludicrous that Jim can translate Spock's mood based on the angle of that one ambulatory eyebrow, but there it is). Instead he looks almost mischievous. "The Vulcan equivalent of the word is sem-rik," he murmurs, pulling off Jim's socks and stroking the soles of his feet. "It means a full captivation of the senses rather than a passing curiosity. Its secondary, more subtle meaning is an irresistible attraction to an object or idea."

Jim loses some of his teasing mood, no longer interested in bringing up any number of things Spock has described as fascinating in the past. Instead he flexes his foot against the slow, rubbing fingers, voice coy rather than outright playful. "Is there anything in particular captivating you at the moment?"

There's no answer at first, Spock reaching for Jim's worn flannel shirt and unbuttoning it slowly. They work together to remove it, Jim tossing it over the back of the sofa and waiting for Spock's next move. He expects the hands to wander over his newly exposed skin, perhaps start working at his pants next. He's surprised when long fingers encircle his wrist, when heated lips press a chaste kiss to the pale skin of his forearm.

The translator, he realizes. He had it implanted during their last stop at a starbase. This new subcutaneous version is in its experimental stage but Jim is a willing guinea pig because it serves a particular purpose: it lets him understand Vulcan, a language he's never been able to pick up with any kind of proficiency. The translator is far from perfect: it doesn't produce accurate metaphors and there are some words that simply do not translate. But it means Spock can speak in his native language and generally Jim can understand him, can glean the nuances of meaning dependent upon Spock's choice of vocabulary - nuances that he doesn't always express when he's speaking in English.

Spock's voice changes when he speaks Vulcan, which is how Jim knows when he switches to it. It falls on his ears with the same even tempo, the same careful articulation, but the timbre is just different enough to be noticeable. Jim imagines it's an echo of Vulcan as it once was, ancient and savage. Invincible, maybe. He certainly doesn't stand a chance against it once it starts pouring over his senses.

"Your skin is enticing," Spock murmurs, his hands settling at Jim's feet again and fingertips dragging along the soles, tracing the arch, making a slow, meandering path to Jim's ankles. He shivers at the not-quite-ticklish feel of it, toes curling reflexively, trying to stay still and enjoy whatever it is that Spock intends to do with him. "The average body temperature of a Vulcan is forty-six point eight degrees Celsius, almost ten degrees higher than the average human body temperature." And oh hell, that timbre of his voice is dark and sensuous even when it's devolving into a lecture he's heard dozens of times over the years. Spock's fingers slide under the legs of Jim's pants and press along the backs of his calves, almost a cradling gesture. "As a result, touching you creates a pleasantly chilled sensation."

Jim shifts into the contact, reaching forward and brushing through Spock's hair. "And touching you is like getting singed by the furnace."

He receives no answering quip about Vulcan biology or the merits of their construction as a desert-born race. Instead Spock drags his hands over the rough material of Jim's jeans. The right hand comes to rest over his stomach where the flatness of his youth has given way to a very slight paunch. "Vulcans are also built to be naturally leaner and more muscular than humans. I find your body's abundance of flesh here to be intriguing." And damn if that isn't the sexiest way anyone's ever pointed out that he's packed on a few pounds over the years. He lets out a rumbling murmur of approval at the words, his pants feeling uncomfortably snug.

"Your pulse," Spock continues, his left hand resting over Jim's ribs, thumb stroking along the skin there, "is another of your curious qualities that I find most engaging. It should be vibrating through the skin here," and he pauses to lean forward and press another of those chaste, heated kisses to his skin, nose pressed into his side and inhaling deeply before pulling back to look at him again. "Logically, I should not find it so appealing that your pulse differs so greatly from my own. But there is something compelling in sensing no life under the skin here," and he pauses, moving his hand from Jim's stomach up towards his chest, pressing it between the pectorals and allowing himself the smallest of smiles, "and finding it here instead. Sluggish, but existent."

"Humans have a thing about the heart," Jim manages to say, in a voice that's closer to a whisper than he anticipated. "In the past we believed it's what made us fall in love."

"Indeed," Spock returns almost as quietly, keeping one hand over his heart and dragging the other upwards again in a slow cataloging of Jim's body. "Vulcans have always believed such feelings to emanate from here." He sets his fingers in a familiar arrangement over Jim's temple, but he doesn't initiate a meld. Instead he rubs lazy circles into the psi-points there, and it's a little like having small jolts of electricity wired directly into his brain. "Your mind is perhaps your most irresistible quality. I do not understand how you can make so many leaps in logic and reasoning on a constant basis and still be able to function, much less be able to find solutions to the kinds of problems we have encountered as members of Starfleet. Your mind is messy, disorganized, and colored everywhere by your emotional response to a situation as well as your more rational one."

And from any other Vulcan that would be an insult, but there's a warmth in Spock's eyes and a blatant affection in his expression that has Jim both melting against the cushions and straining in his too-tight jeans, squirming uncomfortably despite the warm lassitude he feels at the words. "Spock..." he mutters with a whine tinging his voice, dragging short, blunt fingernails over the hand pressed against his chest.

The warmth banked in those dark eyes sparks to a true fire, the affectionate expression shifting to one of focused hunger. "Your impatience is another of your charming qualities," he says, and there's only the slightest touch of sarcasm in the voice. His fingers make quick work of the fastenings, working the jeans off Jim's hips carefully. "It is a quality that I initially believed could be irritating enough to warrant a rethinking of our relationship, or at the very least some device that would prevent you from speaking during our sexual encounters."

Jim's foggy brain tries to catch up with all the Spock-speak, helping to pull his legs out of his pants. "So the fact that I'm loud and demanding made you almost break up with me? Or gag me?"

"The latter quickly became the more pleasant solution, although over time your demands became attractive rather than aggravating."

He lets out a soft laugh, breath hitching halfway through it when Spock grabs his hips and drags him forward, nose pressing against his belly as he starts up another series of scorching kisses. "You're something else," he tells him, voice gone soppy and strained, fingers delving back into the glossy black hair.

In response, Spock presses one hand to his thigh, encouraging him to spread his legs while the other wraps firmly around his cock, one finger stroking along the slit and gathering up the small beads of fluid there. Jim gives him a heartfelt moan, hips jerking upwards until Spock pins them back down. "Your anatomy differs from a Vulcan's," Spock rumbles into his skin, pressing another kiss just below his navel. It's another lecture he's heard a dozen times but he never tires of this one, not when Spock's voice goes so low and reverent as he speaks. "Exposed at all times, which seems inconvenient at best and dangerous at worst-"

"Not inconvenient now," Jim manages to interrupt him despite the grunting, panting quality of his breathing.

Spock responds by fisting him slowly, fingers a perfect heated grip around him, and he almost misses the rest of Spock's speech in the haze that's starting to take over his senses. "A single ridge here rather than two," he continues, thumb tracing the curve of it and preventing another thrust of his hips with the easy strength of his grip at Jim's thigh. "Thick here, and red due to your alien blood."

"M'not... an alien," Jim rasps, fingers clutching at Spock's hair in an effort to get him to do something that isn't a tease. He wants pressure, movement, anything.

"You are alien to me," Spock returns quietly. "However, some aspects of your anatomy are more familiar than others." And without preamble, he moves forward and licks over the head, tastes another little bead of precome there, drags his tongue over the ridge and along the shaft. It's another cataloging of Jim's body done with the tongue rather than the fingers, concentrating on giving pleasure rather than leisurely exploring.

Jim is able to keep his eyes open and focused on Spock's face up until the point where he opens his mouth and sucks him down almost to the root. And with that he gives up any semblance of self-control he had, eyes squeezed shut and head thumping against the back of the sofa, his breath coming out of him in long ragged moans. It's rare that Spock does this; it's not that he doesn't enjoy it but rather that he can't abide being interrupted or hurried. He can indulge in a quick fuck when they're strained for time, has no problem stroking him off hastily before they have to be on the bridge or in a conference or reporting to Sick Bay. But this - for this Spock needs a long block of time guaranteed to be free of interruptions: rather an impossible requirement on the Enterprise.

But they're not on the Enterprise. They're in Riverside, Iowa, secluded in the den of Jim's childhood home. Spock settles happily between Jim's legs and devotes long minutes to the task at hand, alternating between maddeningly slow suction and long, heated licks along his entire length. Jim has long since learned that begging, whining, and pleading are ineffective at this point. He keeps his hands fisted in Spock's hair and simply hangs onto him, closes his eyes and lets himself drown in the heat, the pressure, the quiet hitches of breath and the sense of being pulled apart with focused precision.

Spock keeps him dancing on the edge of it for what seems like hours. He'll bring him right up to the second before orgasm, then ease him back. He rides the cycles as best he can with Spock keeping him pinned to the furniture, letting his desperate attempts to drag oxygen into his lungs and his embarrassingly loud moans tell Spock exactly what he's doing to him. He loses all sense of time as Spock leads him through the building and easing sensations again and again, his consciousness alternately feeling razor sharp against his body's desires and then floating away again.

It narrows to a pinpoint focus when Spock takes him down to the base and swallows around him, fingers cradling his hips rather than forcibly pinning him. He's been kept on the edge for so long, so fucking long, that he can't control his body's reactions anymore. His hips buck forward, thrusting into that blistering heat and coming with an intensity that makes him wonder if he'll humiliate himself entirely by losing consciousness. His body strains and shudders its way through orgasm, and Jim whimpers and shudders again when he feels Spock swallowing him down and licking him clean.

He doesn't lose consciousness - and thank whatever higher power for that, because Spock can get downright evil about his sexual performance and he's already got enough dirt on Jim to last a lifetime, thank you very much - but when he's done he merges into the cushions with a grunt, feeling like he's been broken apart and hollowed out. Spock presses a kiss to each thigh before moving to join him, stretching out horizontally over the sofa and pulling Jim down against him. He collapses more than curls into him, burrowing his face into the rough flannel of Spock's shirt, grinning into it when he realizes that Spock hasn't lost so much as a scrap of clothing yet. "Hell of a Christmas present," he croaks against his shoulder, resting a hand over the telltale bulge in Spock's trousers.

Spock lets out that one sound of his that's a borderline purr, his lower body shifting restlessly. "It was less a Christmas present and more a lecture on semantics and my choice of vocabulary. You gave no adequate response when I asked what you wanted." His voice has lost that ancient quality, and Jim realizes he's switched back to English.

"It was more than adequate," Jim returns. "I said I wanted you."

Spock's cheeks turn faintly green but otherwise he shows no sign of how much that comment affected him. "You also asked that I try to think of alternate phrases to use rather than relying on 'fascinating' so much."

"See? I got what I wanted." He grins at Spock's doubtful expression, tilting his face up for a kiss. Jim gives him a gentle squeeze through his trousers, his grin increasing when Spock emits another purring moan into his mouth. "Well, fine. If you think it was such a crummy gift, I guess I'll just have to return it."

That earns him another lift of the eyebrow, the irritation there easily translated. "With interest," Jim adds hastily.

"If you require any assistance with the return..." Spock offers with a look of mock-suffering, hands moving to assist Jim with the removal of his clothing.

"Always grateful for your help, Mister Spock," Jim rumbles into a pointed ear.