Title: Simple Gifts

Author: Caroline Crane

Email: caroline_crane@hotmail.com

Website: http://desiderium.slashcity.net/

Date: 12/20/01

Category: Slash

Rating: NC-17

Pairing: Archer/Tucker

Summary: Jon's depressed so Trip tries to cheer him up by decorating his quarters for Christmas. Lame smarminess ensues. You've been warned.

Comments: Answer to a challenge posted on the enterpriseslash list, the required elements were as follow: One festive chief engineer. One or two partner(s) of your choice. One sprig of mistletoe (or similar alien substitute). Two generous cups of Chef's Special Gourmet Egg Nog. A pink of bright blue underwear.

Trip stopped in the entrance to the sick bay and looked around, humming "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" under his breath as he waited for Dr. Phlox to appear from whatever experiment he was conducting. He smiled to himself as he thought about his plans for the evening—everything was going to be perfect, all he needed was one last touch and he'd have exactly what he'd been wanting since they first left Earth. Well, since before that really, but being in such confined quarters for so long just made it that much harder to ignore. So he wasn't going to ignore it anymore, he was going to do something about it. Tonight, if everything went as planned.

"Ah, Commander," the doctor said from behind him, a curious smile lighting up his features as he approached the human. "What can I do for you? Don't tell me you're feeling ill."

"Nah, I'm good, Doc," Trip answered, matching the doctor's smile with a grin of his own. "In fact I'm great. But I have a little problem that I was hoping you could help me with."

"I see. I'm happy to help in whatever way I can, Commander. What problem do you need my help with?"

Trip glanced around Sick Bay at the variety of alien plants and creatures the doctor had collected so far in the course of their explorations, hoping that at least one of them would come close. When he turned back to Phlox he was still watching Trip curiously, a hint of mischief in his eyes. "Have you ever heard of mistletoe?" Trip asked.

"Mistletoe…ah, I believe so. It's a holiday tradition on Earth, is it not? A sprig of plant leaves hung where people will be most likely to stop under it. If I'm not mistaken it's some sort of aphrodisiac, is it not?"

A short laughed escaped Trip's throat as he shook his head at the look on the doctor's face. "Not exactly. I mean the tradition is that if two people stop under the mistletoe at the same time they're supposed to kiss. Anyway it's a little hard to come by this far from home, so I was hoping maybe you'd have some kind of reasonable facsimile. Or maybe know of something from another culture that could work?" Trip stopped talking and looked up hopefully, his smile taking years off his face as he waited for an answer.

Dr. Phlox nodded and glanced around Sick Bay until he found what he was looking for. "I'm afraid I don't have any mistletoe, but I do have a Pahndooran Lotus plant. I believe the leaves will make a fair substitute." He reached for a pair of sheers and clipped a sprig of greenery off the plant, holding it up for Trip's inspection. "Will this do, Commander?"

"Perfect." Trip turned the plant clipping over in his hand before looking back up at that doctor. "Thanks, Doc. You're a lifesaver."

"You're certainly welcome, Commander," Phlox answered. "Might I ask if you're planning something special for someone in particular?"

Trip grinned and backed toward the door, a hint of mischief in his eyes as he shook his head. "I hope so," was all he said before he turned and left Sick Bay. He whistled to himself on the way back to the habitat ring, smiling at whatever crewmembers happened to pass him without really paying attention to his surroundings. He had lots to do before dinner, and he knew he had to get started or he'd never finish in time. He stopped in front of quarters that weren't his own, thankful that he was the Chief Engineer so he could let himself in. There were definitely advantages to being in charge of all the ins and outs of the Enterprise, especially when he needed to let himself in somewhere and be discreet about it. The last thing he wanted was for anyone to find him before he finished what he'd been planning for a week now.

When he was safely inside the quarters he closed the door behind him and looked around, frowning as he tried to decide what would be the best place to hang Phlox's substitute mistletoe. Finally he decided that his best bet would be to suspend it from the ceiling right in the middle of the room, at least that way he wouldn't have to worry about having to catch Jon in the doorway. He smiled at the logic of that and fastened the mistletoe to the ceiling before he turned to the box of decorations he'd stashed in the room on the way to Sick Bay. It had taken him forever to figure out how to make Christmas decorations from scraps he found around Engineering, but he was pretty pleased with the way everything had turned out.

Granted, the "tree" wasn't exactly an evergreen—okay, it wasn't even green. But it still looked festive, and he'd managed to weld the metal into a reasonable facsimile of a tree before he lit it with spare bulbs and painted some ball bearings red and green to hang on the branches. It wasn't perfect but it was better than nothing, and he knew from experience how much his best friend missed home and his dad around the holidays. So the least he could do was try to brighten up his quarters a little, and if he got something out of it in the bargain he wasn't going to complain.

He heard a soft whine from behind him and turned to grin at Porthos. "Don't worry, buddy, I didn't forget you," he said, squatting down next to the dog and patting his head before he reached back into the box and pulled out a set of jingle bells. "Took me forever to make these, pal, so I hope you appreciate it."

Trip laughed when he finished fastening the bells to Porthos' collar and stood up, watching the dog shake his head and try to find the source of the new noise. He turned back to his decorating and before long the once bland Captain's quarters were covered in decorations. He turned in a circle, admiring his work as his gaze wandered over tinsel-covered furniture and the small gift-wrapped box sitting under his homemade tree. It wasn't much, but he hoped Jon would at least get a kick out of all the trouble he'd gone to and maybe it would make him feel a little better about floating around in space during the holidays.

When he was sure everything was done he let himself back out of his best friend's quarters and headed down to the Mess Hall, humming "The Holly and the Ivy" as he walked into the kitchen and scanned the room for Chef. When he saw the man walking toward him with a silver pitcher and two cups he grinned and slapped him on the shoulder. "Thanks, Chef. You're a true artist, has anyone ever told you that?"

"Yes, they have," Chef answered without missing a beat. "Go easy on that stuff, Commander. It's my old family recipe, I didn't spare the quality rum."

"I think I can handle it," Trip said, taking the pitcher and the glasses from the other man before he turned to head out of the kitchen. "Thanks again."

Once he had the final touch he headed back to Jon's quarters, hoping that he'd beat his friend back to his room. He knew Jon would be on the Bridge for most of the shift, but lately his best friend had been leaving the Bridge to T'Pol's command more and more. Trip would find him in his quarters, talking to Porthos or staring out a porthole at the stars rushing by, his normally expressive face going blank the minute Trip walked into the room. He'd started to worry that there was something wrong with Jon a couple weeks ago, and as time stretched on without his best friend confiding in him he'd started to wonder if maybe it was because Jon was scared to tell him what was on his mind. It could just be wishful thinking on his part, but if there was a shot he wasn't going to let it pass him by.

When he got back to the Captain's quarters and found them still empty he set Chef's special gourmet egg nog down on Jon's desk and poured two glasses, doing one last check to make sure he hadn't missed a detail. He didn't hear the door slide open behind him, but the gasp that escaped Jon's lips made him spin on his heel, nearly dropping one of the glasses still in his hands. "Johnny," he said, surprise shifting to a nervous grin as he held out a glass to his friend. "Merry Christmas."

"What is all this?" Jon asked, his forehead furrowing as he looked around at the decorations covering practically every inch of his room. "Where did you get all this?"

"Made most of it in Engineering," Trip answered, pride creeping into his voice as he looked around at his handiwork. "Although Chef helped me out with the egg nog." He thrust one of the glasses into Jon's hand, letting his fingers brush against the other man's before he pulled his hand back and lifted his own glass. "Cheers."

"Cheers," Jon murmured as his gaze finally returned to the man standing a few feet in front of him. He heard a ringing of something eerily close to sleigh bells from his feet and looked down, his eyebrows shooting up as he watched Porthos jump up against him and jingle again. "Did you decorate my dog?"

Trip took a sip of egg nog to bolster his courage before answering the question, his eyebrows raising as he tasted the liquid and realized that Chef hadn't been kidding about the quality of the rum. "Guess I did. He didn't seem to mind, though. Just thought you could use a little Christmas cheer, you've been acting kinda…well, mopey lately."

Jon frowned at that explanation and tore his gaze away from Trip's, inspecting the decorations more closely so he wouldn't have to look at his best friend. The last thing he wanted to do was admit to Trip why he'd been spending more and more time alone lately, he couldn't talk about that with his best friend. Especially when his best friend was the reason for his mood. "So this is what you've been using your time in Engineering to do?"

Trip's tentative smile faded along with most of the color in his cheeks, and he set his glass down on the desk before turning back to his Captain. "Well, not all of it, Sir. I mean…well the tinsel took awhile, but the rest of it…"

As he listened to Trip stumble over his explanation a small smile began to tug at the corners of Jon's mouth in spite of his best efforts to suppress it. He didn't want to enjoy the sight of his best friend standing in the middle of his quarters, looking uncertain and just a little lost underneath…wait, there was a decoration that had escaped his notice on first inspection. Hanging just above Trip's head was what looked like…but it couldn't be. Where the hell would Trip have gotten mistletoe?

Trip followed the other man's line of sight and grinned as he realized where he was standing. Well this wasn't exactly the way he'd planned for the evening to go, but he was willing to be flexible. "I know, I know, it's not the real thing. Pretty good imitation, though, isn't it? Phlox gave me a cutting from some plant in his collection."

Jon laughed and took another step forward, setting his glass of egg nog down next to Trip's. "I have to admit, it's a pretty good substitute."

"I know it's not really mistletoe but don't you think we should stand on tradition? I think I heard somewhere that it's bad luck not to kiss when you're standing under this stuff."

Jon started to laugh, but the minute he looked up at Trip again the sound died in his throat. He almost looked serious, but he couldn't really mean it. He couldn't actually want Jon to kiss him. He hadn't moved, though, so Jon took another step forward and stopped a foot away from his best friend. "You know I think I heard that somewhere too."

"Don't want to tempt fate," Trip reasoned, leaning forward almost imperceptibly as Jon inched a little closer to him. "I mean no sense taking any chances."

"Right," Jon breathed, but he didn't really hear whatever Trip was murmuring about. All his attention was focused on the pair of lips hovering inches from his, his mind racing as he tried to convince himself this wasn't some crazy dream. Then his brain shut down completely as he felt warm lips brush against his own, his hands reaching up to land on Trip's waist to steady him as he felt his knees start to waver. Too soon Trip pulled away, looking more sheepish than Jon had ever seen him in their eight years of friendship. His brain kicked back in and he looked down at the floor between them, trying to tell himself it hadn't really meant anything. "Crisis averted," he murmured, his cheeks flushing as the words escaped his lips.

He felt a strong hand close around his arm and tug him toward his bed, looking up sharply as Trip pushed him gently to the edge of the mattress. "I have something for you," Trip said, crossing the room to stop next to his makeshift tree and retrieve the package he'd placed underneath it. He walked back to the bed and sat down next to Jon, smiling nervously as he deposited the box in his friend's lap. "It's not much."

Jon glanced from the package in his hands to his friend's expectant expression, his voice failing him as he realized that Trip really had gone all out to cheer him up. It was insane that Trip was trying to snap him out of a mood that had everything to do with Trip himself, but Jon couldn't tell him he'd been moping lately because he was wondering if his best friend was ever going to return his feelings. All he'd wanted was a sign, even the tiniest of hints that Trip felt the same way he did. He glanced around the room again and took in all the trouble Trip had gone to, swallowing as he wondered if this counted as a sign.

"Well go on, open it," Trip said impatiently, shifting a little closer to the other man and nudging him with his shoulder.

Jon flashed him a tight-lipped smile and started working on the box, pulling off the top and reaching in to pull out what looked like a model of a ship. He held it up and turned the small model in his hands, his eyes widening in shock as he realized what Trip had done. "This is…"

"I know it's not perfect," Trip interrupted, the words coming out in a rush of breath, "it's hard to work on that scale even with the lasers we've got in Engineering. I got as close as I could to the original, though."

"No, it's amazing," Jon answered, his gaze still locked on the model in his hands. "How did you do this? You never saw the original, did you?"

"Well not in person," Trip answered, smiling in spite of his nervousness at his friend's reaction to his gift. "But there are records of your dad's plans for the prototype of his first starship. It wasn't that hard."

"Trip, this is the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me," Jon said, his voice catching in his throat as he looked over at the other man. "The model, the decorations…you did all this just to cheer me up?"

Trip shrugged, his sheepish smile returning as he watched Jon watching him. "You're my best friend, Johnny. When something's bothering you it bothers me too."

Jon smiled then, his first unguarded smile since he'd walked into his quarters and found Trip waiting for him. He'd meant it when he said it was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for him, but he still hadn't gotten exactly what he wanted for Christmas. As he watched Trip's eyes darken a shade and his lips part slightly, however, he realized that he might just get what he wanted after all. "Thank you, Trip," he said as he leaned forward and pressed his lips to the other man's. This time Trip didn't pull away, instead his mouth opened under Jon's and his hands landed on his friend's shoulders to pull him closer. Jon hesitated long enough to set his Christmas gift down on the table next to his bed, never breaking the kiss as he slid his hands down Trip's uniform and began working the zipper down.

He eased the jumpsuit over Trip's broad shoulders, pulling away long enough to slide the fabric down his friend's arms to his waist. Their eyes locked as Trip grinned and grabbed the waistband of his uniform, pushing it over his hips and down his legs to land on the floor next to the bed. When the other man was stretched out in front of him in nothing but his Starfleet issue underwear Jon grinned and reached out to run one hand down a smooth, solid thigh. "You know, blue really is your color," he teased as his hand left Trip's leg to tug his undershirt over his head.

"As I recall it looks pretty good on you too," Trip answered, letting Jon pull his undershirt off before he leaned forward and reached for the zipper on the other man's uniform. He tugged at the fabric, stripping it off as quickly as he could before Jon pushed him back against the mattress again and yanked the last bit of bright blue fabric down his thighs. Trip gasped as his head his the pillows, his back arching into the body covering his as warm lips found his neck and began kissing their way across his collarbone and down his chest. "God, Johnny, we waited way too long to do this," he murmured, unsure if he'd even said it out loud as hands and lips wandered over his skin.

Jon smiled against Trip's chest, his tongue darting out to flick across one taut nipple before he turned his attention to the other one. Each time he earned a throaty moan and the insistent press of hips arching into his thigh. He trailed his lips down Trip's chest to his abdomen, taking his time to taste and touch as he learned what response he got from each spot on his best friend's body. They'd waited way too long, Trip was right. He had every intention of making up for lost time, though. He planted a series of soft kisses across Trip's stomach, a throaty chuckle escaping him as Trip groaned and buried his hands in Jon's hair to try to guide him further down his body.

"Johnny, please," Trip moaned, and Jon wondered briefly if his best friend knew what it did to him when Trip called him that. He couldn't, could he? But he'd obviously known that Jon wanted him, so maybe he did know everything that Jon had never said. Finally he took pity on the man underneath him and pressed his hands on either side of Trip's hips to hold him against the mattress, his tongue sliding experimentally across the slick head of the straining erection before he closed his lips around it and engulfed Trip in wet heat. He began moving slowly up and down Trip's length, using his tongue to tease and memorize what made his friend whimper and thrust helplessly against Jon's mouth. When he felt Trip tense and let out a low groan he slid his lips as far down as he could go and hollowed his cheeks, swallowing against the hot flesh between his lips.

Trip's fingers tightened in his hair and he thrust up forcefully, moaning Jon's name as he came. Jon swallowed around his length before he pulled his mouth slowly off his friend, planting a soft kiss on the tip before he slid back up the mattress to look at the other man. He settled against the pillows and smiled as Trip grinned lazily up at him, reaching out with one boneless arm to run a hand under the undershirt Jon was still wearing.

"I didn't get you anything for Christmas," Jon whispered, his voice laced with regret as he ran his fingers through Trip's sweat-slicked hair.

Trip smiled and pushed himself up on the mattress, pushing Jon's undershirt up to his armpits before his friend took the hint and slid it over his head. When the shirt was history he pushed Jon back against the mattress and reached for the waistband of his undershorts, pulling them down over the other man's thighs to join the rest of their clothes on the floor. "I already got what I wanted for Christmas," he finally answered. "Besides, it's the simple gifts that come from the heart, right?"

"Yeah," Jon said, a bemused grin lighting up his features as Trip planted soft kisses on the inside of his friend's neck. "I guess you're right."

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