Christmas Cheer

by The Grrrl

Title: Christmas Cheer

Author: The Grrrl

Author's email: thegrrrl2002@yahoo.com

Author's URL: http://www.geocities.com/coffeeslash/thegrrrl/

Archive: Ask first.

Fandom: Star Trek Enterprise

Date: Nov 19, 2002

Pairing: Tucker/Reed

Rating: NC-17

Author's notes: A response to Marie's Christmas Challenge. Hope you are feeling better soon! As usual, I didn't manage to fit in all aspects of the challenge. But I got most of 'em! This is unbeta'd, so all the mistake are mine. Mine mine mine.

Well, I'll be damned. Wouldn't have believed it if I wasn't seeing it with my own two eyes. To be honest, I kind of doubted my own eyes until the captain joined me and saw the same thing. But there he was, right in front of us, dressed like one of Santa's cutest little elves. And having a grand ole time decorating the 'tree' with Hoshi. My Malcolm.

It seems like Malcolm loves Christmas. He's been celebrating it with a vengeance all week long. Who would have thought it?

"Come on, Trip!" he calls to me. "Be a proper elf now and give us a hand." My lover waves the glowing, colorful fiber optic cable at me enticingly.

I glance at the Captain and he shrugs, clearly confused as I am as to who this bundle of Christmas spirit is. "Maybe he's been possessed by an alien?" I whisper.

Jonathan looks concerned. "Best to just humor him then. Go on." He gives me a little shove.

Malcolm and Hoshi burst into song, that one about wassailing. Whatever the hell that is. The two of them are belting out a commendable two-part harmony as they string the cable around the tree. I trot over to help, jingling, feeling more than a little silly in my tights and green tunic. Not to mention the spiffy cap and belled slippers. The fact that both Hoshi and Malcolm are wearing the same outfit only helps a mite. Because both of them look much cuter than I do.

"Commander, the tree looks great!" Hoshi gushes after the second verse peters out. I wonder if either of them know all the words. I also wonder how much hot buttered rum both of them have had to drink.

"Yes, marvelous job, Trip. Just like the real thing," Malcolm says. Then he snorts with laughter.

Smartass. I think the tree looks pretty damn good considering. It took me most of yesterday to put the thing together. Sure, bears a passing resemblance to a glorified coat rack, but I only had pipes, wires and an old discarding railing to work with. I think I did a pretty good job. Although it's not quite like the majestic eight-foot pines we usually end up getting at home. The kind that takes all night to decorate no matter how many Tuckers are helping. Or more like getting in the way. In my mind I can smell the cookies baking, and hear the laughter and the shouting.

Then I actually do hear laughter, right behind me. I turn to glare at our youthful boomer, almost doubled over he's laughing so hard.

"Commander, it's a good look for you. Really. All three of you," Travis manages to gasp out. "I love the hats…," he shakes his head and loses it again.

"You find our costumes amusing?" asks Malcolm, stalking over to the man, looking pretty darn threatening. Or at least as threatening as a person can look dressed as an elf.

Travis takes a step back and Malcolm's face lights up. "Hah! Got you. "He grabs Travis's head and plants a big kiss on his lips. "Mistletoe," he explains, pointing to the ceiling. "Just spreading a little Christmas cheer."

The shocked look on Travis's face cracks us all up, although in the back of my mind I'm thinking about that whole 'possessed by a space alien' concept again.

"What's in the box?" Malcolm opens the box Travis is holding and red lights reflect off his face. "Oooh! More decorations!"

Travis has brought us a bunch of silver balls with flashing red lights. "Made them from the spare hazard lights for the shuttlepod," he explains. At my look of concern he hastily adds, "Don't worry, they're still useable. I grew up doing this kind of stuff."

"Of course you did." Trust a boomer to be inventive. I slap him on the shoulder and he looks a bit nervous and sidles out from under the mistletoe, eyeing me warily.

I'm just a little insulted. I decide I need to console myself with some more buttered rum. As I get near the table I groan as I hear the two of them start up the same carol. "If I hear that Christmas carol one more time, I refuse to be responsible for my actions," I grumble to the folks surrounding the bottles.

"Why? It's a great song!" Hess exclaims. "Don't be such a grinch."

"But they only know one verse."

"There, there, Trip," the captain says. "Have some more rum, and it won't matter."

Being the good little Starfleet officer that I am, I follow my captain's orders and fix myself a hearty one. Meanwhile the crew is filtering in, most of them bringing some sort of handmade ornament for the tree. And Malcolm is still spreading the Christmas cheer. I watch as he catches Hoshi under the mistletoe this time and dips her for a grand, sweeping kiss. Her hat falls off as she giggles hysterically. I gulp down the rest of my drink and fix myself another, wondering how many people I'm gonna have to watch Malcolm kiss before the night is over, and I finally get to kiss him the right way. In the privacy of my own quarters. I plan to strip him naked, except maybe for the hat, and kiss every single sweet inch of his body until he's begging me to—

Oh damn. I forgot how revealing these tights are.

I tug on my tunic but it's not really covering. I sneak to the other side of the table to the protective cover of the punch bowl. A second later I hear Liz behind me. Laughing, of course.

"You guys look so adorable!" She reaches up and jingles the bell on my hat. "But I've got to know, how did you convince Malcolm to dress up?"

"Convince him? It was his idea." I help myself to some punch, since it's right there in front of me. And because Malcolm has taken to just standing there under the mistletoe, looking appallingly cute and kissable. And this hasn't gone unnoticed by the rest of the crew. If I plan on kissing him it seems I'll have to wait on line.

"Oh, right, Commander," Liz scoffs. "It was Malcolm's idea to dress up like elves. I wasn't born yesterday, you know." She notices the mistletoe situation. "Oh. My…excuse me, I don't think I can pass this up." She winks at me and joins the line.

I'm finishing my glass of punch and making nice small talk when I hear a chorus of 'ooooh' from around the tree. Everyone's gathered around T'Pol and I'll be damned if she doesn't look a little flushed with pleasure.

"It's perfect, Sub-Commander! Just perfect!" Hoshi and Malcolm are nearly besides themselves, pulling big handfuls of fluttery, silvery streamers from a bag.

"You made tinsel?" I ask, astonished. T'Pol's the last one I would have expected to get into the spirit of things. "How'd you do that?"

"I shredded a few old thermal emergency blankets," she intones. She watches gravely as the drunken pair of elves begin to festoon the tree with it. They're both staggering just a mite. "I admit, I find this human ritual fascinating."

"So you're familiar with the whole mistletoe thing, then." I say, gesturing vaguely to the life-like sprig dangling from the ceiling. "You might want to watch where you walk."

She watches as Travis struggles to escape the embrace of yet another crewmember. Then turns to me. "Thank you for the warning, Commander," she says.

***

The Captain and I are sitting at one of the tables, gorging ourselves on chef's banquet. I'm not saying much, focusing on the food, eating steadily, trying to soak up all that rum and god-knows-what that was in the punch. I eventually realize the Captain's watching me. He says gently, "You miss them, don't you."

I put down my forkful of stuffing and give him a weak smile. "Yeah. Only a bit, though." I'm lying and the Captain knows it. I push the mashed potatoes around on my plate and sigh. "First Christmas I ain't been home, you know. Even when I was on Jupiter station I managed to arrange it so I'd be home for Christmas. With a little help from a friend," I acknowledge with a nod.

Jonathan smiles warmly. Last year I dragged Jonathan home with me for the holidays. Christmas is a real family affair with the Tuckers. Lots of laughing, eating and drinking; kids and dogs running around and of course presents. A whole lot of presents. We love opening them and making a real mess, and always end up throwing the balled up wrapping paper at each other while my mother scolds us for it. Jon loved every minute of it.

"Well, you know, I'm looking forward to having another Christmas with the Tuckers when we get back. Believe me."

"Even though Aunt Sadie got drunk and felt you up?" I ask. We both laugh at the memory of Jon trying to politely extricate himself from her grasp. And I feel a little better because really, there's no place in the universe I'd rather be right now then here on the ship. Because the man I love is here. Somewhere. There will be plenty of chances to have Christmas at home when this mission is over.

***

I finally find Lieutenant Mistletoe standing in the corner, staring at the tree with a dreamy look on his face. He's slowly eating the chocolate cake clutched in his hand. When he sees me coming his face lights up just like the damn tree. My stomach gets all fluttery, in a way that has nothing to do with that huge turkey sandwich I just ate.

"Hey darlin'," I say, stealing a chocolate-flavored kiss.

"Hey yourself." He feeds me the last bit of cake, and I have to lick his fingers to get it all. Really, I do. I like the frosting.

"Quite the naughty little elf, aren't we?" Malcolm asks as I made sure no chocolate is left behind.

"Oh yeah. Wanna ring my bell?" I shake my cap at him.

Malcolm grins. "Anytime, anyplace." He leans against me, sighing happily. We watch people circle around the tree, poking at packages, even shaking a few. Jonathan bends over, picks one up and motions to Hoshi.

"That is one heavenly bum," Malcolm murmurs.

I'm startled. I draw back and look at him. He looks shocked, too. "Did I say that out loud?" he asks.

I have to fight the urge to laugh. He looks so mortified. "Yes you certainly did. Ogling the Captain's ass. Shame on you, Malcolm Reed."

Malcolm snorts with laughter and buries his face in my shoulder. "Good lord, I must really be knackered." Then he looks up. "But believe me Trip, it doesn't hold a candle to your lovely backside."

"Took you long enough," I sulk.

He kisses me until I feel better. Which doesn't take very long at all.

"You know, you're the last person I would have pegged as bein' so—so into all this Christmas spirit," I tell him.

"You know," he responds, "Me too. First time for everything, huh?"

I'm surprised. "You're kidding, right?"

"No." Malcolm puts his arms around me. "Christmas at home was always a dreadfully dull affair."

"Real 'proper', huh?" I ask cautiously. Malcolm hardly ever talks about his family, or what it was like for him growing up.

"Exactly." He looks out over the jolly, drunken crew. "But here—I really feel like I belong here. At home. It feels like I'm with my real family."

I look over the crowd too, and realize they are my family too. To be honest they are really starting to resemble my family now that they're throwing tinsel at each other. I can feel Malcolm's body vibrate in my arms as he starts to laugh. Feels great.

I lean down to whisper in his ear. "Listen Malcolm, after we get back to earth I'm bringing you home. We'll celebrate Christmas right, with my family. They're gonna love you. Just like I do."

Malcolm leans against me and snuggles into my shoulder. "That sounds bloody marvelous. I love you too, Trip." His hand slides under my tunic and he pats my ass. "Yes, indeed. The finest bum on the ship." His words are slurring.

Just then Santa makes a grand entrance, laughing it up and waving his arms. He's carrying a big sack of presents. With a start I realize it's Phlox, and then I'm laughing along with the rest of the folks, even though it disturbs the elf leaning on my chest. Phlox is playing his role with gusto. And I'm feeling good. It's Christmas, I've got my lover pressed up against me. Everyone is having a good time. The punch is flowing and the tree is sparkling.

Hmmm. Sparkling a little too much. Actually, now it's more like sparking. I tap Malcolm on the shoulder. "Should the tree be doin' that?" I ask, squinting at the dazzling lights.

He stares at the now-spectacular display. "Beautiful!" he exclaims, clapping his hands in delight.

My brain is moving slow-like but it occurs to me that the fiber optic cable must have overloaded, maybe from the power pack attached to the holographic star that Jonathan placed on top. Or maybe the rotating crystals that Hess put on there got tangled in the makeshift tinsel. Or maybe it was the microcircuit powering those whirly things Rostov made.

I guess it doesn't matter. The crowd goes silent as the doomed tree pops and fizzles. It shoots out one last shower of sparks before falling over in a tangled, smoking heap. After a brief period of dead silence the clapping and cheering starts. Damn, I hope we can get that to happen next year. It did look really cool.

Phlox gets the crowd's attention, primarily by waving the cheerfully wrapped present in the air. Soon everyone gathers around as he hands out the gifts. Hoshi pitches in, and runs up to me with a bright red package in her hand.

"This one's has your name on it, Commander," she says breathlessly. "Merry Christmas." I get a wet, sloppy kiss on my cheek.

"An' you didn't even have to stand under the mistletoe," Malcolm mumbles.

I shake the gift carefully, holding it next to my ear. I don't know who got my name in the grab bag. I stand there, with the gift in one and the other resting on Malcolm's waist, watching everyone else open their gifts.

"Don't you want to know what it is?" asks Malcolm. He nudges me. "Go on, open it."

I kiss him and begin unwrapping the gift. But I've got my real gift already. It came early, in the shape of a certain armory officer. And it's just what I always wanted.

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