Jim opened the farmhouse door to young Vanik.
Jim frowned. “Vanik?” He looked beyond the boy but saw no one else. “Are you alone?”
“I am, Jim,” the boy said. “I came to speak with you about Uncle Spock.”
“How did you get here?”
“By shuttle of course.”
Jim rolled his eyes. “Do your parents know you’re here?”
“You’d better come inside. Your ears are probably getting frostbite.” He yanked the young half-Vulcan into the house.
“About my uncle—”
“But he is most apologetic and misses you terribly.”
Jim closed the door and gazed down at the boy. “Did he send you?”
“No,” Vanik admitted. “But I know that it is true.”
“Vanik, you’re just a kid, but you’re going to find out in life that sometimes relationships just don’t work out.”
“Perhaps. But that is not true in your case. You are fated mates.”
Jim snorted. “Yeah, whatever. Your uncle is a big jerk.”
Vanik nodded. “That is no doubt true, but I know that nevertheless, he cares for you a great deal. He wishes to apologize.”
“Then why isn’t he here instead of you?” Jim raised both eyebrows expectantly.
“He wants to but he is shy.”
Jim actually laughed at that. “Uh-huh. I’d better contact your parents.”
Vanik bit his lip. “If you like, you can return with me to San Francisco and meet with Uncle Spock.”
“Because I agreed to spend the Christmas holidays with my mother and she arrives here in two days. I’ll have to get your parents to come get you. I don’t know how in the world they let you travel here alone.”
“I am not a child.”
“You are ten years old. That’s a kid.”
Jim walked further into the house with Vanik following.
“You could contact Spock to come and get me.”
“I think it’s better to contact your parents.”
Vanik stopped and looked at the Christmas tree Jim had been putting up in the living room. “I could help you finish decorating the pine.”
“Well, maybe, while we wait for your folks. It’s probably okay. You sit there while I contact them.”
Vanik sighed and did as he was told. “Very well.”
It was a couple of hours later when Jim heard the doorbell ring. With Vanik’s help, he had finished decorating the tree and had even strung the lights on it, which he’d just turned on. It looked pretty good, he decided. And his mom would be pleased.
He had gotten Vanik a cup of warm cider and a plate of cookies, so he sat on the couch now and munched away.
“That’ll be your folks.”
Jim smiled at the boy and went to the front door to greet Sybok and Anoria.
He blinked into the face of Spock.
His former boyfriend wore a big fluffy navy sweater and he looked unexpectedly pale.
“Jim.” His name was like a soft whisper on Spock’s lips.
Jim’s stomach flipped. “You…aren’t here to collect Vanik?”
Spock frowned. “What?”
“The kid he’s here. I contacted Sybok. I thought maybe he sent you.”
“No.” Spock shook his head. He reached for Jim and pulled him out into the yard. And though it was cold and their breath could be seen, Jim didn’t really mind. “I miss you every moment of every hour of every day. I cannot sleep or eat or do anything, really. I love you more than mere words can convey. If you will forgive me and allow me back into your life, I will spend every moment of every hour of every day convincing you that I am worthy of your affections.”
“Well I…” Jim’s throat clogged and he attempted to swallow. “I think somewhere in there was an apology.”
“A most humble one. I cannot guarantee I will not upset you again, Jim, but please know that I never intentionally hurt you, for you are the most precious being in all the universe to me.”
“Spock,” Jim said, brokenly, throwing himself into Spock’s arms. The Vulcan’s arms came around him, holding him so close he could barely breathe, and he cared not at all.
“Then you forgive me?” Spock asked.
“Yes. Yes, of course.”
“You will return to our home in San Francisco?”
“Yes. Well. No. I mean not yet. Mom’s coming for Christmas and I said I’d stay through the new year.” Jim pulled back to look at him. But Spock barely let him go. “Will you stay here with me?”
“There is no way I am going anywhere without you.”
They turned as one to see Vanik standing in the doorway to the farmhouse clapping.
“Vanik,” Spock said, shaking his head. “When your father comes—”
“Actually.” Vanik cleared his throat. “I contacted my parents and advised them that now that you are here, I wish to stay for the Terran holiday season as Jim’s guest.”
Spock stared. “Vanik—”
Jim chuckled. He felt too happy to do much else. Spock still held on to him. “It’s okay, Spock. He can stay.”
Spock glanced at him. “Are you certain? I can make sure that my brother collects the pest.”
“Really. It’s fine.” Jim kissed him. Spock kissed him back. “Come on. Let’s go inside where it’s warm.”
“That would be most agreeable.”
Jim went to move but Spock kept him there. “You have to let me go so I can walk.”
“Perhaps I should carry you.”
Spock sighed. “Very well.”
And he released Jim but took his hand almost immediately. Together they entered the house, Vanik before them, and went to begin their celebration.
It was very merry indeed.