Disclaimer in first chapter.
A/N: So this is Jim's pov. This should probably be the first chapter, but I actually like this set-up. SO GLAD you like it Faith! My g-mail does not work when I am at home for the hols (dial-up is a bitch), but I'll mail you asap.
Jim Kirk is not a patient man. In fact, his crew - if asked - would probably doubt that he knew the meaning of the word. Yet here he was, sitting and waiting, as he did (or at least tried to do) every year at this time. He wasn't sure exactly what had caused this 'tradition' to spring up. What was it that first pointed her in his direction? It wasn't as if he'd taken any of her classes: even as a first year student he had tested far out and beyond any of the hand-to-hand classes the Academy offered. The chance to be a T.A. had been extended - in an official, impersonal manner - but he had had to turn it down.
Taking four years-worth of classes in three years was possible, but by no means easy, not even for him.
So no, he didn't think he'd ever met her, though he had seen
her. She was hard to miss, even with her diminutive stature. She was the sort of person who commanded attention, as if there was a ten foot divide between herself and her surroundings, as if nature itself was holding its breath and watching her in fascination. It didn't hurt that she was beautiful. Not in a conventional way, he doubted there was anything about her that was mundane enough to be conventional
. She was beautiful the way the Enterprise was beautiful, the way a jungle cat was beautiful, the way Sulu's collection of old Earth-forged swords was beautiful.
He didn't think that he could have caught her attention, though she had surely caught his.
Then, one day, in the middle of November, she showed up in front of him out of the blue while he was sitting on the front steps of the main Academy building. He was watching the snow fall and feeling sorry for himself, not something he indulged himself in very often, and thinking about the upcoming holiday which he would most likely spend alone (he didn't count his rotating squadron of bed-warmers as 'company'). She was abruptly just there
, watching him with piercing eyes.
"Walk with me," she said, and it was not a request.
He did, and what followed was one of the oddest conversations he had ever had. She questioned him thoroughly about his family (mother in space, father a dead hero, brother not on speaking terms), his coursework (superb), and a myriad of other subjects that he somehow felt were not precisely her business... and yet he found himself telling her things he hadn't even told Bones (who was, admittedly, the closest friend he had had - ever).
It wasn't one-sided, either. After she'd inquired after his life (interrogated him mercilessly) she began to offer up little tidbits about herself. By the end of their walk around the Academy grounds she knew him more intimately than the most determined lover - and there was something in the tilt of her eyebrows, the way she smiled up at him with a knowing, wry look, that made his heart thump and his breath catch. He hadn't pursued her prior to this because she was an instructor, and while there were few authority figures Jim Kirk respected, he had enough
on his romantic plate with his fellow cadets, let alone starting a rule-flouting liasion with a teacher. Now though, now he felt something indefinable spring up inside him, between
them, and he didn't think he could tumble happily into bed with her and just as happily right back out again.
He looked at her smile, still wry and so knowing
he felt something in his chest clench tight, and was scared shitless. He did not run
, precisely, but he did find an excuse to leave, rather quickly. She watched him go, he knew by the faint prickling at the back of his scalp. Part of him felt as if he'd just survived another incident like the one that had resulted in the destruction of a classic car at the bottom of a deep gorge, but the rest of him felt like he was falling far and hard and fast.
Jim knew that it wasn't the fall that killed you.
He did not see her again until Christmas. She showed up at his door at exactly 2359 on Christmas Eve night with a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a wrapped present in the other. She smiled at his startled look and cocked her head to one side, quirking an eyebrow:
"Gonna invite me in, cadet?"
He stepped to one side, wordlessly indicating with his arm that she was to enter. Jim's brain was still trying to catch up with her presence, still in the regulation instructor uniform of black shirt and (indecently and gloriously) short skirt. She smiled slightly at his lack of welcome and stepped into the room, daintily skirting the few small piles of clothes and other rubbish that had accumulated since Bones had headed back to Georgia for his court-allowed holiday visit to his daughter.
She sat on his desk chair, watching him gather his composure. "Might want to shut the door."
"What are you doing here?" he asked as he obeyed her, moving a little further into the room and leaning faux-nonchalantly against the wall. "Isn't this a little late
for a room-check?" he continued, pasting a lascivious grin on his face and allowing his eyes to run up and down her trim figure appreciatively.
"You don't have any Christmas decorations," she said in lieu of an answer, frowning around at his room.
"I left my Christmas tree in my other pants."
She rolled her eyes and tossed the wrapped bundle towards him, "Catch."
"A present," she replied, as if speaking to a very young and exceedingly slow child, "you open them."
He grimaced and turned the cheerfully-wrapped package over and over again in his hands.
She stood and walked to him, laying her hands over his. "How long has it been since you had a Christmas - " seeing his raised eyebrow, she continued, " - a real
He opened his mouth, paused, swallowed and then stopped for a second to think. "Six years since I had one with my mom, eight since I had one with my brother and
She turned away from him and wrapped her arms about herself, "Its been about the same for me too." She looked over her shoulder at him, and he did not think that it was a trick of the light that there was an extra shininess to her eyes, "I want to celebrate Christmas, a real
Christmas. So tell me, cadet, what did your family do at Christmastime?"
That first year they did together all the things that their families used to do. This included, but was not limited to going sleighing, opening presents, drinking eggnog, singing carols, attending a late-night mass, and eating Chinese food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Christmas day. They spent the entirety of Christmas day together and tumbled into bed together that night. When Jim woke up the next morning, she was gone.
He did not seek her out after the rest of the cadets came back (to be fair, she didn't seek him
out either). He didn't really know how
to, not that a lack of know-how had ever really stopped him from doing something he wanted to do before, but at the same time he felt that whatever there was between them was fragile. Sometimes he wondered if he had dreamed the entire encounter, but then he would open his desk drawer and look at the shiny ornament there (a medium-sized glass ball with an exact replica of the Enterprise within) and he would know that it had been real.
Then, the next Christmas, just as he was about to go out, she showed up again. Present in one hand, bottle in the other, and pranced into his room (how did
she first get his code?). She smiled at the sight of the Enterprise ornament hanging, rather sadly he thought, from the light-fixture in the ceiling.
"You kept it," she said, beaming.
"Of course," he replied, as if it was obvious. To him, it was.
They spent that holiday together too, though this time they spent more time talking than they did aping their old Christmas traditions. Jim liked to think, in the privacy of his subconscious, that they were making new
Christmas traditions, just for the two of them... but he knew in reality that that was silly.
The next year, his last year as a cadet, was more of the same - a third ornament and another bottle. A day spent together doing whatever struck their fancy, and it was marvelous. Neither spoke about his upcoming graduation and posting to a ship. Neither knew what the future would hold.
The Narada Incident happened, Jim's elevation to Captaincy happened, but he still managed to be there (on Earth) for Christmas the next year. He paced, in his new, shiny Captain's quarters, wondering if she would be able to find him (though he knew that that was idiotic), wondering if she would want
to (and that was much less so). And then she was there, ornament (for he could guess now) in one hand, bottle in the other. It was Christmas, she
made it so.
Years had passed since then, that first year of change and uncertainty, but still he wondered every year if it was the last year. If she would say something and stop this - whatever this was, between them. He knew that he wouldn't, couldn't. She had become his Christmas, his something to fight for and come home to, even if he only came home to her once a year. When they couldn't meet, it wasn't the sex that he missed (though the sex was - pardon the cliche - earth-shattering), it was her
He knew that the crew noticed his black mood when they could not be on Earth in time for Christmas, he knew too that they had noticed both times when he had come back from holiday in a deep melancholy (both those years were years when she was away on assignment, where
she would not and could not tell him). They didn't ask, though, and he wouldn't have answered if they had. This - whatever this was, was between them. Between him and Buffy.
The door opens (she knew his code, and he wouldn't change it for the world), and he is up, out of his chair, striding towards her, beaming fit to break his face.
She is here.
He is home
And this is what Christmas is about.
A/N2: Happy holidays!