anon_j_anon (anon_j_anon) wrote,
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anon_j_anon

Fic: The Dedication

Title: The Dedication
Author: jAnon
Beta: Elfqueen
Pairings: Kirk/Spock
Series: Star Trek XI
Rating: R
Length: ~8,000
Summary: Written for the 2009 K/S Advent Calendar. A K/S Chanukah piece.
Note: Many thanks to darstellen for additional help and comments.

Dedicated to all those who find themselves away from home this holiday season.


The Dedication



Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech ha-olam a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu le-had-lik ner Cha-nu-kah.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, sovereign of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam she-a-sa ni-sim la-avo-te-nu ba-ya-mim ha-hem bi-zman ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, sovereign of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time.

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam she-heche-ya-nu ve-ki-yi-ma-nu ve-higi-a-nu liz-man ha-zeh.


Blessed are You, Lord our God, sovereign of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.

--

He did not think to calculate the first night upon which Chanukah fell until some of the members of the Enterprise began to talk of winter holiday celebrations. Spock searched in the databases for information on the Jewish calendar and quickly discovered the convoluted system by which his mother’s kin counted their time. It was a lunar calendar, but like all lunar calendars major corrections had to be inserted so that the months would keep abreast with the seasons and the rotation rate of the planet. Reading about the seven leap years that took place in nineteen year cycles, he could not decide whether this system was ingenious or simply inefficient.

Nevertheless, Spock learned the intricacies of the Hebrew calendar. Basic mathematical analysis revealed that there were exactly fourteen permutations that the calendar year could take, which simplified the computations. He applied the conversion to the current stardate, and found that the first day of Chanukah had already passed. It was the fourth night.

For reasons unknown, that knowledge left him strangely empty. When that feeling was properly suppressed, he rationalized that it would not have mattered in any case. He would have not have been able to observe that night, as he did not have a menorah.

Even so, for the nights that remained, he recited the blessings in the privacy of his quarters, recalling his childhood years when his mother had first introduced him to the Festival of Lights.

--

Spock watched as his mother carefully polished a silver menorah. When she had wiped away all the tarnish that had accumulated since its last use, she put it to the side. She went to the small table by the window where she had prepared a place. She inspected the surface of the table one last time, wiped away some imaginary dust, and finally positioned the menorah at the center. To the side on a small stand, she placed a supply of candles and a means by which to light them, then draped a cloth over the objects to subtly conceal them. Amanda took a step back and, satisfied with the arrangement, set her mind to the next task. Her son followed her into the kitchen.

He watched her solemnly as she peeled the potatoes, her hands deftly stripping away the brown skin to reveal the pale starchy inside. She enjoyed the repetition of the motion, the rhythm that formed naturally as she picked up another potato and began again. After a few minutes, she had a pile to begin making the batter. Amanda restrained the urge to tell her son what she was doing. Spock had seen all of this before—he probably knew the steps better than she did. He would not appreciate commentary. She looked around for the grater, absentmindedly thinking about the first time she had made latkes for the family. Spock had been so curious, bursting with question after question. He wanted to know everything she was doing and why. Why potatoes? Where do they come from? Do Terrans eat them often? What was the genus and species of the tuberous plant?

Now, he was so serious and quiet. Ever since that—no, she wouldn’t think about it. It would only make her upset. And where had that grater run off to?

“Mother,” he held the apparatus to her.

She smiled, took it from him, and began to grate each potato into a large bowl. The shreds fell away in clumps, reminding her of the wet snows they sometimes got in Canada. She lost herself and her thoughts in the sound of knife blade against the wet flesh of the root slicing away. Periodically she would stop, unloose the bits trapped in the grater, even out the mound of shredded potato, then resume the motions. When the bowl was full and all the potatoes grated, she picked it up to set to the side. Spock cleared a place on the counter, took the bowl off her hands, and put it down near him. Without any prompting, he found a clean cloth and began to press the excess liquid from the potatoes, dedicating the same focus to the task as he did his calculus problem sets.

That almost broke her heart. What right did those children have, taunting him? What did they know about her son, her stern little boy who dared not speak what he thought or felt, but communicated everything so clearly in small actions?

She cut into the onion with a little more force than she intended. By now, Amanda was used to the sulfoxides in onions, yet as she diced, her hand reflexively went up to wipe away the moisture in her eyes. She quickly put her hand down when she realized her son was watching her, brows furrowed.

“This is a strong onion,” she laughed, then continued to cut. She transferred the pile into a bowl and gave it to her son. He diligently set about the task of pressing the onions as well. “Don’t dry them out completely, like last time.”

Spock nodded. When he was done, he combined the onions with the potatoes, then gave the mixture back to his mother. He watched as she added flour, egg substitute, and salt and pepper. She never used precise measurements as he had once insisted she do. His mother simply knew through experience how much of each ingredient to add, just as she knew how to gradually fold the flour into the mixture. When she judged the batter to be ready, she went to the stove, filled a pan with vegetable oil, and turned on the burner. She pushed her sleeves up further and set about the task of forming the patties.

With practiced ease, she molded the batter into thick circles. She had done this with her mother as a child, sitting in the kitchen with the sound of the latkes sizzling in the background. The view from the kitchen window opened into the typical scene of a Canadian winter—snow everywhere. The neighbor’s houses were invariably covered in lights and decorations, and she could catch glimpses of the large Christmas trees that sat in their houses. Her house was not decorated, and there was no oversized evergreen that occupied the living room, only a slender menorah by the window. But they were making latkes, her grandparents were here to visit, and for gelt, they promised her the most exotic ancient coins from far away planets.

Amanda smiled to herself at the memory, then checked the temperature of the oil. Still not quite hot enough. She made two more patties before she decided everything was ready. Spock had already laid out paper on the countertop to absorb the excess oil from the finished latkes. He watched as his mother put the latkes into the pan. The oil immediately began bubbling. In the back of his mind, Spock considered the chemical reactions taking place. Thermal lipid oxidation, hydrolysis, polymerization, aldehyde and hydroperoxide decomposition, dimerization between acyl groups. The continuous emanation of small bubbles around the latkes indicated the presence of water changing phases and leaving as steam. Fat was being absorbed into the latkes, which in turn was dynamically changing the composition of the oil. The entire process fascinated him.

After approximately two and half minutes, Amanda turned the latkes over, one by one. She was patient, waiting for each one to brown properly before she flipped them. After another three minutes, she began removing the latkes from the oil. She shook off some of the oil, then placed them on the paper that he had prepared. Amanda went to the cupboard and pulled out two plates. She rummaged through the cooler and retrieved the applesauce she prepared the night before. Spock watched as his mother went about the kitchen in an utterly haphazard manner, refilling the pan with oil, adjusting the heat on the stove, pulling out eating utensils, spooning out applesauce on their two plates, putting more uncooked latkes into the pan, transferring the finished latkes onto the plates. She placed one of the plates in front of him and motioned for him to eat, picking up her own utensil in the process.

This wasn’t how they had eaten latkes when she was a child. As a girl, the whole family usually gathered around in the dining room, a full spread of food before them. She and her cousins squirmed at the table and stuffed themselves to the brim with jelly doughnuts. But she didn’t mind this unspoken tradition she had her with son, eating hot latkes with applesauce in the messy kitchen before the first night of Chanukah.

Watching him methodically eat the oily pancakes, she suddenly felt that nothing she did would ever be enough. He would suffer the scorn and veiled derision of society—her human blood would follow him all his life—and she could not protect him. She was helpless. She felt that the small measure of her love would not be enough to sustain him. Amanda went back to the stove and flipped the latkes, willing herself not to cry. When she returned, she found that Spock had helped himself to her half eaten portion. He studiously avoided looking at her as she spooned more applesauce onto his plate.

She smiled. Perhaps she should have more faith in him, and in herself. After all, it was Chanukah, a holiday that celebrated the miracle of lights. The oil that should have lasted one night had burned for eight, long enough for new oil to be pressed, prepared, and consecrated. Her love would not be enough to see him through a lifetime, but perhaps it would burn long enough for him to find another miracle.

--

In truth, he had not mourned her death. He struggled to suppress the grief, but he never allowed its full expression. He avoided thinking about her altogether, focusing on the multiplicity of duties he had as James T. Kirk’s First Officer. There was no end to the conflicts that arose between them, the missions that demanded their attention, the emergencies that seemed to occur daily. There was no time for grief, and Spock preferred that state. Her memory could only bring to surface a thousand questions that had no answers. Did she know how much he loved her? Did she know how much he missed her when he was on Terra? What happens to the Terran soul? Does it continue? If it continues in some amorphous form, does she know that he would have done anything to save her? Did she know that he is proud to be her son? There was no point to asking such questions.

He had not thought about her until time and circumstance forced her memory on him. Chanukah, the Terran holiday season, was one of the few things he and his mother had shared without the looming presence of his father. Later during his years at Starfleet, he had not obtained a menorah nor given a second thought about the holiday, except to send a transmission to her. Her death changed that. He wanted, perhaps even needed, to commemorate Chanukah, as a dedication to the memory of his mother. But the first night was already long past, and he did not have a menorah or any candlesticks.

Suddenly, it was sickening to him that he had avoided her memory—almost as though he had purposefully forgotten her—for this long. It felt like a desecration to the woman she was that he deliberately shunned her in his mind. He had been selfish, afraid to face himself and remember all the times he had pushed her away, wanting to distance himself from his human heritage. There were far too many times when he had irrationally blamed her for his humanity, and far too few occasions when he had welcomed her embrace and been grateful for her unwavering and unconditional love. She had told him that no matter who he chose to be, she would be proud of him. He did not properly value the precious gift in those words.

In his mind, he felt as though he were approaching a ruined temple. A place once holy and safe, where the sacred lights burned, was now ransacked, lights extinguished. He entered and picked up the broken pieces that were scattered on the floor, the taint of death all around him. How could he have neglected this place? How could he have forgotten the sanctuary she had always provided? She had shown faith in him when he had known none, she had never left him desolate when he despaired. How could he deliberately ignore her death for his own convenience?

It was somewhat ironic that the very moment he acknowledged the depth of his denial, he truly had no time to spare for any personal reflection. They were deep into the first year of their mission. Every hour of his time was sequestered by the unending list of duties. Nothing could wait, but this could not wait either. He resolved to make time, small moments when he could sanctify the temple and restore her memory. He did not know how he would go about reconsecrating the place. But he trusted that the answer would come, and that somewhere, provisions had been made for this purpose.

--

That was it. Jim has had it up to here with Vulcans. He’d thought that dealing with Spock on a daily basis was bad—the full blooded ones were about ten times worse. Or 9.76 times with an uncertainty factor of 0.05%, as Spock would say.

Where the hell did they get off, looking at Spock and talking to him like that even after he’d saved the remnants of their population, not to mention the heart of their culture? Maybe they thought that humans wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, but Jim could. He could tell in the way that Spock’d go rigid, his usually expressive eyes disturbingly blank. He could tell because he wasn’t an idiot and he knew they were making little verbal jabs at Spock’s human heritage. When did being a logical species translate to being a species blinded by hubris?

Okay, he’s not being completely fair. Not all of the Vulcan diplomats they’re providing passage to are tools. A lot of them just keep to themselves. But he’s noticed that they’ve never thought to invite Spock to take meals together, never thought to include him in the quiet conversations they have about god knows what. Jim tries to be understanding. According to the files, these guys are fresh out of Vulcan’s diplomatic corps, on their first assignments. They’re probably nervous, though they won’t admit it. They’re probably shaken up by having their home planet destroyed, relocating to a foreign planet, then being sent to the corners of the Alpha Quadrant in a ship full of humans. Jim could sympathize with them, even if they would never accept that sympathy.

He still doesn’t get why they treat Spock like a leper, or some kind of heretic. Seriously, Spock’s the most logical guy Jim knows, his limited exposure to Vulcans included. He knows that they’re suspicious of Spock because he’s half human, but when did blood purity become an issue in Vulcan culture? That’s just—he hates to say it, but it is—illogical. If this is the shit that Spock has to put up with as an adult and hero of the Federation, he doesn’t want to know what they said to him as a kid. Jim holds off on the impulse to tell off the lot of them, even though he really (really) wants to. Instead, he tries to make sure he and no one else in the crew give Spock any kind of trouble. The whole mission makes him consider his First Officer in a new light.

So when Spock overcompensates and stays stuck in Vulcan-mode even after they drop off the last diplomat, Jim doesn’t say anything. He had watched the walls go up (he hadn’t been aware until that point just how far they had come down) he could wait for Spock to open the drawbridge and let everyone in again. It’s not an easy or a fun wait, since he feels like they’re back to Day One sometimes, arguing until a headache builds behind his eyes and he just wants to shake Spock. But he sticks it out, and by the eighteenth shift, Spock’s back to himself.

After one particularly bad day of being skewered by his First Officer, Jim goes down to Sickbay to unwind with Bones.

“I don’t know why you’re putting up with it.”

Jim shrugs. “He’s trying to prove something to himself. If I say anything, he’ll take it the wrong way and make things worse.”

“The way he’s going, burning his personality at both ends, he’s liable to go up in flames and then just snuff out.”

“It’ll be okay. We’ll make it through.”

Bones gives him a look.

“I’m still standing, aren’t I? This is just a setback. Nothing’s been broken that can’t be rebuilt.”

--

This time, he was aware of Chanukah’s approach. Awareness, however, did not imply preparedness. He still did not have a menorah, nor was he willing to simply buy one of cheap manufacture off the nets. The menorah his mother had was an heirloom, one the few that she brought with her from her home in Terra to Vulcan. It was, of course, lost to the singularity when Vulcan was destroyed. The menorah was the least of his losses.

He resigned himself to passing Chanukah again without the essential pieces when it happened that on a diplomatic mission, as the captain and the party were being given a tour of the capital city, he saw it. A menorah in the window of an antiques shop. It was silver, badly tarnished, with a hexagonal base and long central axis—an elevated place for the shamash. Branching linearly off the central piece were eight stems arranged symmetrically on either side, for the eight candles of Chanukah. The design appealed to his sense of mathematical aesthetic, and the silver reminded him of his mother. Spock noted the address and when the diplomatic talks were over, he sent the store proprietor a transmission. A few hours later, the transporter room reported that there was a package for him. Inside the box was the menorah, a kit for polishing silver, and large bundle of candles.

The first night of Chanukah, the 24th day of Kislev, before the calculated Terran sunset, Spock set the first candle to the far right on the menorah. He lit the shamash candle, recited the three blessings from memory, and lit the first candle. He set the shamash back in its stand and for a few minutes, simply watched the two lights burning in his quarters.

Then, the red alert sounded. He knew the tradition, he knew that the candle should stay lit at least one half hour after nightfall. But it would be reckless to leave a fire burning unattended. Spock carefully extinguished the flame, pushed the image of his mother aside, and reported for duty.

--

“The story of Chanukah is about a community divided on the inside, and attacked from the outside. It’s a story of desecration and destruction, a story of consecration and dedication.”

They had just lit the candles. The sun was setting on Vulcan, the sky lit blood red with streaks of deep purple. Spock watched the flame of the shamash dance, he listened as his mother’s lyrical voice recited the three blessings of the first night. After each blessing he offered a quiet “Amen.” Her steady hand lit the first candle, then set the shamash back in its proper place. Tomorrow night, he would light the candles and repeat the first two prayers, but his mother always reserved the first night for herself. And the first night, she always told him the story of Chanukah.

Every telling was different. He realized that as he grew older, his mother wove an increasingly complex tale, adding new sides. Yet at the core was the same burning image. The light meant to last one night continued for eight nights, the small miracle wrought by an ancient God for His chosen people. This variation that his mother offered was strikingly different from all others he had heard as a child.

“I will tell you from the beginning that the historical events of the Chanukah have been a subject of debate for many years. Its relative importance among Jewish people has been different too. In Judaism itself, the holiday is not very important. It holds the same relative importance as Purim, far lower than Passover, Rosh Hashanah, or Yom Kippur. But to other humans, particularly non-Jews, Chanukah is a large part of perceived Jewish identity. My parents didn’t think Chanukah was a particularly special holiday. We celebrated it because everyone else was celebrating Christmas.

“Still, the story of Chanukah has always been special to me. It’s a small story, the miracle of lights is nothing compared to the miracle of Passover, or for Christianity, the birth of their Savior. But even small miracles are worth remembering, and sometimes small miracles have as much power in our lives as the sweeping acts of God.

“At the time, the Children of Israel were under the rule of the Seleucid Empire, a Syrian-Greek empire. As it happens in every empire, the conquered people came into contact with new ideas, new peoples, new ways of life, and of course a new governing body. They faced the choice to begin a form of assimilation, taking on the traditions and culture of the conquerors, or to steadfastly hold onto their former identity. This theme is common enough in Earth history, though it certainly was not true for every empire. There were many where the conquered were never accepted, their rights revoked and identity violated. But when it was possible, assimilation opened new opportunities to the conquered, a chance to join their conquerors and climb the ranks to wealth and power. It often came at the cost of shedding his ancestral identity, and it sometimes happened that even after a person denounced his former background, he was not accepted.

“This theme—this choice—recurs in Jewish history. Time and again, you read of stories or prophets speaking in the wilderness, condemning the people for turning away from their God and worshipping false gods. The idolatry they could not tolerate usually came from the tribes surrounding them or the empires that conquered them. In this time, the people were adopting Hellenic traditions, absorbing the practices of their conquerors. The community was divided between the traditionalists who adhered to each word and rite of the Scripture, and the Hellenized Jews. Inevitably, conflict arose between the two camps, and it played itself out around and in the Temple walls.

“And here is where the traditional account and the modern scholarship divide. The traditional account portrays an oppressive and sacrilegious empire, one that forbade the practice of Judaism, stripped the Temple of its holy objects, massacred Jews, erected a statue of Zeus, mandated the sacrifice of pigs in the holy building. The revolt of the Jewish people that followed was a fight for freedom, a fight on behalf of their one and true God, and a fight to restore the purity of the Temple after it had been so desecrated by the conquerors. The victory brought back the true worship of God, and the Lord provided a miracle so that His people could reconsecrate the Temple.

“Historians argue that the conflict began between the people first as a civil war, and that the empire interfered later, causing an escalation in the ensuing fight. It’s not surprising that they threw their support to the Hellenized Jews. A victory for that side would strengthen the empire’s ties to Judea and the power over the people there. And so the ruler, declaring his support for the Hellenic side, did outlaw many traditional Jewish rites. But for the Jewish people, worship has always been central to their identity. A conflict that first began centered around religion and orthodoxy transformed into a war for liberation.

“I will not tell you which story to believe, or which to lend more or less credence. When I first learned of the complexities of this history, I was confused. Now, it seems appropriate to me that in a story about a divided people, the accounts should be divided as well. And what’s more, this history is only the background to the actual miracle that Chanukah commemorates.”

His mother looked at the two lights burning before them.

“Whatever the story, whatever the history, whatever conflicting reports made, whatever arguments put forward, they do not take away from the miracle. After the devastated Temple was recovered, it was necessary to reclaim and to cleanse it. For those rituals, consecrated oil was required to burn through the night in the menorah. But they found that there was only enough oil for one night, and it would take eight days to prepare new oil.

“Still they burned the oil. And the flame that was supposed to last only one night burned for all eight, long enough for a new supply of oil to be made and sanctified. It did not burn forever—that was not the purpose of the miracle. The light lasted as long as was needed, until more oil was ready. And each batch of the new oil did not burn eight nights. It was ordinary oil, prepared by human hands for the purpose of glorifying what is holy. They were able to dedicate the Temple, consecrate it for God.

“That is what Chanukah means. Dedication. Consecration. That is the miracle we celebrate. It is not something eternal and it is not something so large. A small dedication, a small remembrance. A holiday divided in importance and history. But,”

Amanda drew her son into an embrace and for that moment, Spock let himself lean into his mother.

“It has always had a special place in my heart. And to me, this smallest miracle of a burning light is the greatest miracle of all time.”

--

Jim loved Spock. Anyone with two eyes and an operating brain cell could see it (hell, one of the aliens species they encountered claimed they could smell it). Jim generally avoided thinking about it. He and Spock had just started the romantic side of their relationship, and he didn’t want to take things too fast. Didn’t want to push it too hard. Still, there were a few times that Jim had the (reckless? blind?) courage to admit to himself that he was deeply, madly, stupid in love with Spock.

But he knew so little about him. He was closer to Spock than anyone on the ship (except maybe Nyota), and got to see a side of him that almost no one was allowed to see. He knew the taste of Spock’s mouth and the texture of the skin on Spock’s neck, he knew the secrets of those long fingers and had discovered every way to coax a soft moan and a sharp gasp from Spock’s rigid control. There were other things he knew, like the thoughts expressed in his First Officer’s eyes. Jim was amazed that they had gotten this far at all, given that they’d started their acquaintance on opposite sides of the aisle at his academic hearings. And then there’d been the whole “at each other’s throats”—literally—business. Now they were (lovers) partners. But the half-Vulcan half-human continued to elude him.

Like this. He’s in Spock’s room (Spock is in Sickbay after a mission—he doesn’t even bother to tack on the adjective “disastrous” anymore, since it almost seems redundant), searching for some clothes and datapads that Spock wanted. It’s one of the few times that he’s been in Spock’s room, and it’s the first time he’s been in Spock’s room alone. He doesn’t think about whether that is some sort of milestone in their relationship. The non-thought disappears when he sees a menorah on Spock’s desk.

The first thing Jim does is rack his brain for the little he knows about Vulcan culture. Do they have any rituals that might possibly utilize a candelabra designed to hold nine candles? Because he knows that Spock’s not Jewish. He would know. Spock would tell him. Right? They’ve been friends and known each other for longer than they’ve been (lovers) partners, and Spock would have said something if he actively practiced Judaism. Jim doesn’t know everything about Spock, but he would know. Right?

He doesn’t ask Spock about it when he returns to Sickbay. He’s not exactly sure why he doesn’t ask. Part of it’s fear, because what if Spock tells him in that calm, collected voice of his that it’s none of Jim’s business so would he kindly fuck off. The possibility of that makes Jim’s stomach curl. But part of it is because Jim is stupid in love with Spock, and he understands (not completely, but on some level) Spock’s need for privacy. Jim’s so stupid in love that he resolves (not consciously) to wait until Spock feels comfortable enough to tell him about it, rather than push the issue. He wants to know Spock and the story behind that menorah, but he also respects Spock and will work to earn his trust.

Jim loves Spock. Everyone with two eyes and an operating brain cell can see it in the subtle (sometimes not so subtle) outward signs of affection they have for each other. The love they have is like single candle burning the darkness. But at the same time, people can’t see. They can’t see the depth of thought and emotion the two hold for each other—and perhaps Jim and Spock don’t see that depth either or dare admit it to themselves. Their love is like a single candle, the flame small and flickering with uncertainty. They guard it jealously, worriedly, afraid that it might go out at any moment.

No one anticipates the miracle they will witness when that single candle, meant to burn for one night, lasts for eight.

--

Thinking back to that story his mother told him about Chanukah, he realized that she was, in some ways, far more intelligent, and certainly wiser, than his father. After he was caught in the fight with the other Vulcan children, his father told him directly that “you will always be a child of two worlds, and fully capable of deciding your own destiny. The question you face is, which path will you choose?”

As a child, he had taken that question to be rhetorical. There had been no doubt in his mind as to which path his father desired him to choose.

His mother said nothing concerning his choices for the future. She only assured him that she would always love him and be proud of him. And he did not see it then, but she assured him of her love by such small signs. Making him latkes. When he was young, they spun the dreidel, the letters on the four sides standing for “Nes Gadol Haya Sham.”

“A great miracle happened here,” she would laugh and point to him as he collected the pile of gelt after winning the game.

And that story of Chanukah she told him. A story of a division, and a story of a miracle. A victory and a restoration, a dedication and a light. He understood only after her death the message she implanted in those words, and could not help but wonder if she had the rare gift of foresight. Had she known that this would happen?

Jim is lying beside him, skin flush and moist, sweat covering his body like oil. He’s relaxed and radiating satisfaction and, at this precise moment, nuzzling the back of Spock’s neck, kissing the skin there lightly. Spock turns around to face him.

Jim’s eyes are open and glow with otherworldly light. He puts his hand to Spock’s face and looks at him intently, blue eyes searching.

“What’re you thinking about?”

Spock hesitates to answer, then dismisses the moment of unease. This is Jim, his light and love. The man with whom he has discovered new worlds and new facets of himself, the man with whom he can rebuild and restore his shattered sense of home.

“I was thinking of my mother.”

That answer earns him a look. Jim’s curious. He remembers the first and last time he brought up the subject of Spock’s mother. That ended with a round of strangling. But he wants Spock to keep talking, because even in the privacy of their relationship, it’s rare that Spock ever talks about his past. Jim decides to push the issue, figuring that if Spock tries to strangle him this time, in this specific context, it actually might be fun kinky times.

Spock raises an eyebrow. Jim grins, knowing full well that Spock’s been eavesdropping on his train of thought. Kind of unavoidable, given their, um, specific context.

“What was she like?”

“Startling. I do not believe my father ever understood her completely, but I also believe he loved her for that quality. She liked to laugh.”

“Was she Jewish?” he nods towards the menorah, tucked away on a shelf.

“She did not practice the religion actively, but yes. Her family was Jewish. She learned, and passed down to me, the traditions they followed.”

A pause. Jim watches Spock, who seems to be considering something.

“Jim.”

“Yeah?”

“The Terran holiday season is approaching. I believe that Chanukah falls on the second week of December this year.”

Spock’s eyes are on him, dark and intense.

“Would you care to observe the holiday with me?”

Jim’s heart soars. Spock is oblivious.

“I am aware that you traditionally celebrate Christmas, but I would like—it would be agreeable if—” he exhales, frustrated by his incoherence. He focuses his attention on the menorah. “Your presence would be welcome.”

Jim makes no reply, though his eyes burn bright. He rarely gets to see Spock so clueless, and he can’t help but watch his usually eloquent Vulcan fumble with words. After Spock figures out, he’ll probably have to pay up for the joke. He doesn’t mind, given the specific context.

“I understand if you object to participating in the ritual and I will take no offense at your refusal. It was a plain ceremony that my mother and I shared when I was a child.”

Jim’s trying really really hard not to smile.

“However, it would not impinge on your Christmas celebrations, and I will, as I have always, join you in those festivities,” he finally looks back at Jim, who has been strangely silent.

He can tell the exact moment when Spock figures out that he’s been giving him a hard time. Spock opens his mouth but before he can say anything, Jim gives him a searing kiss.

Before long, Jim’s slippery with sweat again, as though the length his body has been anointed with fine olive oil. And when his lover finally climaxes, Spock briefly remembers the triumph he felt as a child, winning all the gelt.

“Nes Gadol Haya Sham,” he murmurs before the light takes him and the miracle burns through him, leaving him feeling swept and clean.

--

Jim watched Spock carefully polish the silver menorah. He counted the Chanukahs they’d shared, the past years when he’d watched Spock do exactly this—before their bonding. Those thoughts disappeared when he caught glimpses of Spock’s memories, the image of Amanda Grayson taking a rag and wiping away the tarnish until she could see her reflection in the surface. He felt the quiet emotions that were associated with that memory, the remnants of grief and deep regret, the love of a son for his mother. Those emotions receded to the background as Spock concentrated on circles he was rubbing into the silver, the repetition of the motion dulling the edge of his sadness. For a moment, Jim could sense Spock withdrawing into the past, remembering every detail of each Chanukah he had spent with her as a child. Jim allowed Spock that minute of privacy before he reached out over their bond to pull his t’hy’la back to him, to the present.

Spock responded to that pull, and let go of his sadness. He looked up at Jim, who was walking towards him. Jim took the menorah from his hands, set it down on the table. He took the polishing cloth away too. Neither made a sound as Jim leaned down and kissed him, while Spock reciprocated by taking Jim’s hand and threading their fingers together.

Jim reached down and pulled Spock’s shirt off with practiced ease. The cloth slid up Spock’s torso and off his body, his arms rising on their own accord. Spock exhaled when he was free of the material. He looked up at Jim. Those blue eyes were blazing, ever burning like the candles they would light together later. Spock stood from his chair, placed his hands near the hem of Jim’s shirt, and kissed the corner of his jawbone. Jim moved his head to give him better access as Spock worked his way down the curve of Jim’s neck. His hands slowly pushed Jim’s shirt up farther and farther until Jim decided to speed things up and rid himself of it entirely. Jim wasted no time unbuttoning Spock’s trousers even as Spock’s tongue was distracting him, teasing him in his mouth.

But before he could get Spock another degree closer to naked, Spock stepped back. Jim watched as Spock bent down and untied the laces and took off his boots. Jim kicked off his shoes and socks, then figured he might as well go all the way. He stepped out of his pants and boxers in one motion. Spock liked to prolong foreplay, using that scientific precision of his to push Jim to inhuman heights of anticipation. The results were always mind blowing, but tonight, Jim wasn’t in the mood. He wanted to drive the last of Spock’s lingering guilt and sadness from his mind, purge with light the remnants of darkness that remained. They had restored the temple, created a sanctuary for each other in the bond they shared. He would not suffer it to be spoiled by unnecessary remorse, and somehow he knew that Amanda would agree. Jim tossed his clothes to the side. They landed with a soft thud near the table.

Spock’s eyes, dark and intense, took in Jim’s form. For a moment, Jim simply stood before his t’hy’la, the expression on his face the same calm confidence he wore handling firefights with Klingons, the same burning resolve as Judas Maccabeus preparing for battle against the Syrians. Like a living incarnation of David, Jim stood before him, body at once relaxed and poised, rigid and flexible. The light in Jim’s eyes spoke of his determination. He would accept nothing but total victory, a complete restoration. A burning purification. Memory had its time and place—now was the time to rejoice and bask in their own miracle.

Jim stepped forward and kissed Spock.

No one thought they’d ever get this far. Few people thought they’d last. Everyone said that Jim burned too fast, too strong—they were right. He had always been reckless, a thrill seeker with something to prove. Spock had always suppressed the true light of his being, simultaneously longing and dreading that someone would see that light and take notice. They met each other, one an explosive supernova, another a hidden torch. They were only supposed to last one night, one year, one mission. They would only last one lifetime. Yet they met each other, and through shared time and circumstance, forged their own mortal, finite, limited miracle, a small thing totally inconsequential to every other being in the universe.

But it burned. It continued for eight nights, eight missions, eight decades—a whole lifetime, dedicated to each other. That is, after all, the miracle of Chanukah.

“That is what Chanukah means. Dedication. Consecration. That is the miracle we celebrate. It is not something eternal and it is not something so large. A small dedication, a small remembrance. A holiday divided in importance and history. But it has always had a special place in my heart. And to me, this smallest miracle of a burning light is the greatest miracle of all time.”

--

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech ha-olam a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu le-had-lik ner Cha-nu-kah.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, sovereign of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam she-a-sa ni-sim la-avo-te-nu ba-ya-mim ha-hem bi-zman ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, sovereign of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time.

--

On Vulcan II, the Ambassador went towards a window, where a menorah stood. He took out eight candles and placed them into the menorah. In his mind, he could not help but dedicate each candle to the members of the Enterprise, his human friends who had passed away long ago but were alive in this new universe, in a completely different incarnation. He carefully lit the shamash, reciting the two blessings.

The first candle would always be Jim. The one who burned for all eight nights, the one who had led and sustained them, the one who inspired the Alpha Quadrant, the one who dared to go where no man had ever gone before. The man he considered comrade, brother, and for a time, lover. Jim had sacrificed for him time and again, rarely asking for anything in return. Jim’s constancy had anchored him, Jim’s love had drawn him away from Gol, Jim’s memory had called to him in the vast emptiness of his mind after his death and resurrection. Spock pushed aside the complex emotions that rose to the forefront, concentrating instead on the flame that burned before him steadily, evenly, fearlessly.

The second candle, he dedicated to Admiral Leonard McCoy. He and the good doctor had never quite agreed on anything, but they had discovered the seeming paradox of a friendship built on differences. The arguments they’d had, the disagreements that at once amused and frustrated Jim, he looked back on them with fondness. McCoy’s special brand of Terran humor, his heart and humanity, his brilliance as a surgeon, the Ambassador remembered as he lit the candle. He had trusted the doctor to hold his katra, and the doctor had been willing to help.

The third he dedicated to Captain Montgomery Scott, the brilliant and candid engineer for whom he had immense respect. The fourth to Commander Nyota Uhura, her beautiful singing and her steady presence at the communications station. The quiet love and support she had for them all. The fifth to Captain Hikaru Sulu, his unequalled skills as a pilot, the easy camaraderie, and his sly humor. The sixth to Commander Pavel Chekov, the fearless and proud Russian. The seventh to Dr. Christine Chapel, her professionalism despite her emotion, and the genuine love she had once held for him.

The last candle he dedicated to Vulcan and the lives lost there. For that loss, there were no words, only profound grief. It was as deep and rending as his grief when he had learned of Jim’s death. That the very event that destroyed his home planet had also reunited him with the young Jim Kirk—it was as though the universe was twisting the knife it had plunged directly into his heart. Meeting his younger self and sending him off to restart the journey that had defined him—that was also bittersweet.

The Ambassador set the shamash back in place. Memories of Vulcan and Chanukah always led to memories of his mother. He briefly wondered if his other self also learned of this ritual, and if he practiced it. The Ambassador had never particularly identified with his mother’s kin. But now that he had been scattered across time to another universe, met with familiar yet unfamiliar faces, his home planet lost forever to a singularity and now living as one displaced in both time and space, he found it remarkably appropriate. The Children of Israel’s long history of living in diaspora, their yearning for Zion and their homeland, he could well understand. The Ambassador longed for home—Jim, Vulcan, the Enterprise. A lost time and a lost place.

He lit the candles in remembrance of that homeland.

But Chanukah was a holiday dedicated to a triumph and victory, the moment when the Jewish people reclaimed their holy temple and reaffirmed their traditions and vows to their God. It commemorated the miracle of a light burning in the darkness, defying several laws of physics and giving hope to a scattered people. Like all holidays, Chanukah was a remembrance, but its object was not in mourning. The lights pointed to a restoration, rather than a desolate past.

There were times when he envied his other self. The life he would lead on the Enterprise, the things he and Jim would discover! The Ambassador had already lived the full measure of his life. By all accounts, it had been quite successful, rich with unforgettable moments and incomparable friendships. Still, there were times when he could not help but envy his younger self. Tonight, however, those feelings were absent. The grief that had washed over him ebbed away, leaving behind clear memories. Regret, envy, guilt, sorrow, had obscured the true images of his dear friends.

Now, looking at the nine candles burning bright, it was not hope he felt, but a quiet sense of victory. An acknowledgement of a miracle, a clean remembrance of a single light, meant to burn for one night, that went on to continue for eight. His life aboard the Enterprise was never meant to last, and Jim had never desired immortality. Those years had sustained him until it was time to move on to another chapter in his life.

He understood now the small, finite, fragile miracle that had changed his life—he had wanted it to continue on forever, but now he understood that was not the nature of its power. It was a miracle of provision, ordinary in so many ways, yet simultaneously extraordinary that it happened at all. Deep inside, the Ambassador still had so many regrets, so many bittersweet moments in his life. But standing before the menorah lit in its full glory, he was grateful that he had those memories at all.

Time passed. He remembered everything so clearly.

And it seemed to him, watching the lights burn against the darkness, that a voice called to him from afar, telling him to wait. There were still things he had to do. Work that had to be finished on Vulcan II, their own temple to rebuild and rededicate. Wait a while longer until new provisions were made. The new oil wasn’t yet ready. The miracle must continue a little while longer.

Then, after eight nights and years of waiting, there was another miracle prepared for him.

A smile, a touch, a voice, a kiss.

And when the oil of your life is finally spent, return to me, t’hy’la. Come home.
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