As she wandered the lower decks the Captain wondered, not for the first time, why the delta quadrant was such a hostile place. All around her she saw evidence of their latest encounter with the…..come to think of it she never even knew their name. The came, they saw, they fired, and in the end she had been forced to destroy them and she never even knew who they were. Stepping over a pile of debris, she came face to face with a very nervous crewman.
“Captain on deck.” She shouted as she struggled to attention.
“As you were, crewman.” The Captain placed a hand on her shoulder. “How are you faring down here?”
“Fine Ma’am, deck fourteen is secure, Ma’am.” She still stood ramrod straight.
“Yes, well, I can see that.” She wiped a smudge off the crewman’s face, and smiled. “But how are you?”
“Fine, Ma’am and yourself?”
“Crewman –Okuda, isn’t it?”
“Yes, well I’m not 100%.” She laughed and shook her head. “But I would be a lot better if you would relax and show me where the hull breach was located.”
“Yes, Ma’am. This way Ma’am.” She started forward, then hesitated at stepping in front of the Captain.
“Go a head, Denise---you take the lead, you know where we’re going.” The Captain patted her shoulder and laughed. She followed behind, assuring the few crewmen they came across, that this was an informal visit and they should relax. The work was just finishing up, as they arrived. “Lieutenant”
“Captain.” The very relaxed Lieutenant Rankin, nodded his acknowledgment. “We’re almost finished.”
“I see, good job.” She glanced at Okuda who stood ridged; just short of attention. “Okuda, take a lesson from Rankin her, relax a little. Lieutenant, please tell Crewman Okuda, that I don’t bite.”
“That’s right Okuda, she doesn’t bite.” He smiled at them both. “At least she has never bitten anyone who complained.” At this Okuda blanched and the Captain laughed out loud.
“Perhaps Crewman Okuda, I’ve chosen a poor example.” She touched the girl's arm again. “Try to find a happy medium between your current formal attitude and the unusually relaxed one of the Lieutenant here.” She continued to smile. She was still the Captain and there were certain protocols to adhere to, but out here, after six years, they all need to relax just a little. “I would tell you to carry on Lieutenant, but that might be giving you too much lee way. When you are finished here be sure everyone has some time off; nothing serious beyond this, the rest can wait till morning.”
“Yes, Captain, thank you.”
“Shall I show you the way back, Captain?” Okuda offered, as the Captain turned to go.
“Thank you, but I can manage.” She started away shaking her head. And speaking just loud enough to be heard. “Besides, I wouldn’t want you to sprain anything.” As she turned the corner she heard the welcome sound of their laughter behind her.
Kathryn checked on a few more repair crews then headed to the ready room. Gamma shift was already in place on the bridge; it had been a long day. She nodded to Harry, in the command chair and entered her office. A stack of padds awaited her on her desk. She replicated some coffee and sat down to work. Another hour, she promised herself, then she would take her own advice and go home to bed. The hour passed and then another, she was still buried in reports, when the chime rang.
“Come.” She looked up to see her First Officer drag himself across the room. “God, sit down, you look beat.”
“You don’t look so hot yourself.” He dropped down in the chair across from her.
“Thank you, Chakotay, you sure know how to turn a girl’s head.”
“Well, you do look like hell. Are you ever going to bed?”
“Is that an invitation?” She laughed at the shocked look on his face.
“It wasn’t, but it could be.” He showed her the dimples.
“Well, you appear to be relatively harmless, - at the moment.”
“I would object to that and try to be indignant----if I had the energy.” He chuckled. “Speaking of energy, where did you find enough to go around scaring innocent crewmen, in the middle of the night.”
“What? What Have I done now? And how do you always find out?”
“I have my ways. I keep pretty good tabs on you.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, Ma’am, it sure is Ma’am.” His eyes twinkled, belaying his fatigued condition. “Kathryn, stay off the lower decks. Those people aren’t used to you, you frighten them.”
“I don’t seem to frighten Lieutenant Rankin.”
“Well, Rankin is hardly a normal crewman, in fact, well, I’m not sure what he is.”
“I’m sure he’s not frightened of me for one thing. He implied that I do in fact bite, just not anyone who objected to it.”
“That sounds interesting.” He rubbed his neck and put his hand to his head. “I think I’ll have a talk with the Lieutenant; he may know something I’ve missed.
“Yeah.” He rubbed his temples. “This is supposed to be you; I don’t get headaches.”
“Guess that’s my fault too.” She came around the desk and took his hand. “Come here.” She smiled as he raised an eyebrow. “I won’t bite.”
“Too bad.” He mumbled as he followed her to the couch.
“Here.” She sat down and patted the seat beside her. “Lie down, put your head in my lap.” She laughed at the face he made, as he did what she told him.
“You’re not gonna bite me, right?” He stretched across the couch, placing his head in her lap.
“Only in your dreams, Chakotay—only in your dreams.” She began to massage his temples.
“No, Kath---in my dreams, I get to bite you.” He chuckled and she joined him. “MMMM that feels good.”
“Just relax, it should help your headache.” She continued the massage long after he had fallen asleep. She began to drift off herself, when the door chimed. “Come.” She called out softly.
“Captain…” Harry stopped when he saw them, his surprise evident on his face.
“Shhh, Harry he’s asleep.” She whispered and motioned him to come closer. “What can I do for you?”
“Just needed your signature on this requisition, since I knew you were in …” Harry blushed. “Sorry.”
“It’s OK. Let me see.” She took the padd and glanced over the requisition, placing her thumb print on it.” She looked him over as she handed it back. “How long have you been on duty?”
“Well, turn the bridge over to Simmons and get some rest.” She shook her head. “I’ll be in here if she needs me.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” He started for the door.
“Harry, before you go, would you hand me that blanket?”
“Sure.” He took the blanket off the chair and passed it to her. “Night, Captain.”
“Yes?” He turned back to see her spread the blanket over her sleeping first officer.
“Only if she really needs me.”
“Understood.” He smiled as he left the ready room.
Harry knew they were good friends and the affection they held for each other was obvious to everyone, but to see the kind of closeness that he felt in there tonight was rare. Tom’s right, he thought –they should be together. He turned the bridge over to Simmons assuring her, the Captain was just on the other side of the doors and then warned her not to call unless there was real trouble. In fact, he instructed her to call him first if she had any doubts. Simmons ran into no problems that night and the command team finally got a few hours rest.
Kathryn woke feeling strangely like someone was watching her. She slowly opened her eyes, feeling confused it took a few minutes to realize where she was, then it came back to her and she smiled. It wasn’t the first time she had slept in her Ready room, it wasn’t even the first time they slept there together, but it was still a little strange. She lifted her head off the back of the couch and look down and he smiled up at her.
“Good morning. How’s the headache?
“All gone, you have the magic touch.”
“Yeah, that a few hours sleep.” She laughed.
“We did it again, you know someone will catch us one of these days and there will be hell to pay.”
“Oh.” She laughed out loud.
“Harry. He came in last night to get me to sign something for him.”
“When I was asleep?”
“Yep, should have seen his face.”
“What did you do?” He was surprised she was still laughing, rumors usually upset her.
“I signed the padd and asked him to pass the blanket before he left.”
“God- Kath. What did he say? What did he do?” He couldn’t help but laugh with her, she was enjoying this. And he couldn’t quite believe it
“He said sure, good night. Blushed a little, like Harry will and left.”
“Well here we go again. Wanna bet how long before it’s all over the ship?”
“Nope. My guess is we don’t even have time for a bet.” She smiled and brushed back his hair. “Up—I need coffee.”
“Don’t start that again.” She crossed to the replicator. “Tea?”
“Yes, please.” He sat up and ran his fingers through his hair. “So, first on the agenda today?”
“Coffee.” She sat beside him. Putting the cups on the table. “Then a shower and some breakfast. How’s that sound? We can plan the day at breakfast.”
“Great. Do I get to share the shower too?”
“You’re pushing your luck, Commander.” She wagged her finger at him.
When they left the ready room, Alpha shift was already in place. The uniforms looked a little lived in, but when the ship was undergoing major repairs they often look that way. So it wasn’t too surprising to the bridge crew, when the command team exited the ready room at 0800 together.
“Tuvok, the bridge is yours, we have some things to take care of.” She smiled and he just nodded, as they crossed to the lift.
She caught the smirk on Tom’s face, as the doors closed, she just smiled back.
“He knows already.”
“Yeah, I saw it too.” Chakotay snuck a look, she was still smiling.
They took their showers and meet for breakfast, in the mess hall. It was between shifts, so not too many people were there and they had Neelix to cater to them, which just about put her over the edge—good thing for her up mood. They planned their morning and went separate ways with a promise to meet here at 1300 hours to compare notes over lunch.
The Captain's first stop was engineering, B’Elanna would update her on engine repairs and what systems still needed work. Chakotay was taking a look at several projects on the lower decks; he told her she wasn’t allowed down there.
“Lieutenant.” She entered engineering to find B’Elanna waiting.
“Captain, good morning.”
“Well, from the looks of you it is. I take it this means good news?”
“Yes, Ma’am.” She stopped and looked when the Captain rolled her eyes. “Did I say something wrong?”
“No, B’Elanna, I was down on deck fourteen last night and got Ma’amed to death—that’s all.” She laughed.
“Yeah, they get a little intimidated by me, so I imagine you being there really threw them off.”
“All but Rankin.”
“Oh yes, Mr. Rankin; nothing seems to phase him.”
“Well let’s get the run down on these repairs, shall we.”
She led the way into B’Elanna’s office.”
B’Elanna briefed the Captain on the repairs to date and the scheduled ones. They assigned a few work teams and grabbed tool bags and headed off down a jeffries tube, laughing. Joe Carey watched them go and just shook his head. He never would understand how two such very different women worked so well together, on and off duty, but then Joe figured he would just never understand women anyway. It was lunch time before they surfaced again and the Captain brought B’Elanna with her to meet Chakotay.
“Hello, am I late?” She set her tray next to his and sat down.
“No, I’m early—a good sign by the way.” He adjusted his tray so their's would fit. “Hi B’Ella, I take it this means thing are well in engineering.”
“Yep, we’re in good shape; should be better than new by tomorrow.”
“I think that calls for a celebration.” Tom sat beside B’Elanna.
“You know that’s good idea. What shall we do?” The Captain’s good mood continued.
“Well, by the old Terran calendar, next week is Christmas. We could have a Christmas party.” Tom offered.
“Is it really? I lost track of that calendar.” The Captain smiled. “God. I always loved Christmas as a child.”
“Never celebrated it.” Chakotay shrugged.
“Oh, Chakotay it’s wonderful.” She grabbed his arm, a dreamy look on her face. “We had snow and sleigh rides, a tree, music and of course presents. It was great fun.”
“Snowball fights?” Tom asked.
“Oh yes. We need snowball fights.” She was clearly excited at the idea. “Let’s do it. Let’s have Christmas.”
“OK, I can do snowball fights; I know about them and Tom you can teach me about Christmas.” B’Elanna joined in the excitement, then looked at Chakotay.
“Hey, it’s OK with me. I can sling snow with the best. And well, I’ll fake the rest.”
“You do a lot of that anyway; you’ll be fine.” B’Elanna patted his hand laughing.
“Good so Christmas it is. Tom you can do a holoprogram, with snow and sleighs and…” Her eyes were shining like a child’s and everyone was getting caught up in her enthusiasm.
“I know how to do it up; you’re gonna love it.”
“Good and I’ll talk to Neelix about the food.”
“NO leola root!” Tom added.
“No leola root, We'll work on a schedule so every one can have some time at the party.” She put her hand on Chakotay’s arm, giving him the crooked smile.
“OK, we’ll work on it tonight. Dinner?”
“Sure. Your place or mine?”
“Yours, but I’ll cook.”
“Deal.” They laughed, never even noticing the looks from across the table.
“Hi, room for one more?” Harry joined them.
“Sure, Starfleet.” B’Elanna moved over to give him room.
“What’s all the excitement?”
“We’re going to have a Christmas party.”
“Hey great—snow and mistletoe?”
“Yes, of course we can’t forget the mistletoe.” The Captain laughed. “What is Christmas without mistletoe?”
“What’s mistletoe?” B’Elanna asked Harry.
“It’s a little green bush thing …”
“I thought you had evergreen trees?”
“Yeah, but mistletoe is special..” He shrugged.
"B’Elanna.” The Captain explained. “You hang a bit of mistletoe in a door way or somewhere that people will pass under it—then if you find someone standing under it—you kiss them.”
“So it’s kind of a trap?”
“Well not exactly. —it depends on who you find under it.”
“Do you have to kiss them? I mean I like you and all, but I don’t want to kiss you.”
“I hope not! No you don’t have to kiss them, but they are fair game, in case you want to kiss them.”
“Jenny will probably pin it to her hair.” Tom slapped Harry on the back.
“Not entirely bad.” Harry rolled his eyes and blushed at his own remark. “Captain, I take it Simmons did OK last night. I didn’t hear anything from her.”
“Neither did I, thank you.”
“Anytime.” He continued to eat, ignoring the quizzical expressions on Tom and B’Elanna’s faces.
“Well, I have work to catch up on.” The Captain stood up. “See you later?”
“1800 hours—your place.” He looked up.
“See you then.” She whirled and was gone.
“What is going on here?” B’Elanna looked at the retreating Captain then at her friend’s smile.
“Awful chummy aren’t you?”
“No more than usual.”
“Hey this Christmas thing sounds good. What are we doing?” Harry interrupted changing the subject.
Tom started to explain, Chakotay excused himself and went back to work. B’Elanna just shook her head, she would never understand those two.
It was exactly eighteen hundred hours when her chime sounded.
“Come.” She called from the bedroom. “I’ll be right out.”
“No rush.” He set their dinner on the table she had set and poured them each a wine.
“Thank you, wine?” He handed her a glass. “Shall we sit?”
“Sure.” She followed him to the couch. “So how do you really feel about Christmas? Does it step on any traditional values?”
“No—we respect all types of cultural celebrations and it sounds like fun.” He chuckled.
“You certainly got excited about it; it’s unusual for you to volunteer to have a party.”
“Christmas is special—it holds such good memories—my family and friends, happy times.”
“I’m glad and so you’ll teach me about it?”
“Sure, right after you feed me.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” He ducked, but she hit him anyway.
They ate their dinner and she spent hours, telling him about the Christmases of her childhood. It was a great family tradition and she enjoyed sharing it almost as much as having been there. He enjoyed seeing her so obviously excited and happy. It didn’t happen often that she was just Kathryn with no trace of the Captain, so tonight was doubly special.
“Chakotay, what do you want for Christmas?”
“Want? I get presents too?”
“Sure, what did you think, only I got presents?”
“We always got to pick a special present for ourselves and if it was possible we got it. I don’t ever remember not getting my special present. What special present do you want?”
“I don’t think I can have mine.” He hoped what he said wouldn't spoil the mood. “And I hate to break this up, but I think I need some sleep tonight. We didn’t get much last night, however pleasant the surroundings."
“Yes, I suppose you’re right.” She got up and walked him to the door. “Good night.” She was quieter, but her eyes still sparkled.
“Good night, Kathryn, see you in the morning.”
“Chakotay, remember - Christmas is a magical time.”
“It will be great fun, good night.” He let the door close between them.
The following day the repairs were finished and with the ship in top shape the senior staff turned their attention to more important things, the Christmas party. Tom was already working on the program, with Harry’s help and a good deal of input from the Captain. Neelix had been instructed in Christmas food and was busy putting together the menu. The crew was excited and the Christmas spirit had taken over Voyager. Christmas carols could be heard in the mess hall and every one ate Neelix’s cooking to save replicator rations for presents.
Two days before the party, Tom invited the senior staff to tour the Christmas program. They were dressed for winter in their ski clothes and gloves, it was a strange sight as they progressed down the corridor to the holodeck. Once everyone was there, Tom let them in.
It was a winter wonder land, Evergreen trees, snow, a frozen lake, horse drawn sleighs. The scenery was breath taking. There was a large house, with a porch and many fireplaces where the party would be held, a hill for sleigh riding and the pond for ice skating. They toured the building, tested the ice and even took a ride down the hill.
“Tom you have out done yourself this is wonderful.” The Captain was twirling around like a child. “Isn’t this great?”
“Yes…” Chakotay managed to reach out and catch her before she fell. “Watch out, you’re making yourself dizzy.” He laughed with her.
“Really nice stuff, helmboy.” B’Elanna tested the texture of the snow. “This will work nicely.”
“Hey Captain.” Harry called out. “Snow angels”
“Oh, yes, I used to love to make snow angels.” She flopped back in the snow spreading her arms and legs, to form the angel.
“Kathryn, what are you doing?” Chakotay laughed at his normally straight laced Captain rolling in the snow.
“Making an angel.” She reached out a hand and he pulled her up. “See?”
“Oh, yes now I do.” He chuckled. “Sorry, I don’t have much experience with snow.”
“Hey, Chak.” B’Elanna called out and when he turned he was smacked with a snowball. “You know about this; I know that.” She laughed and reached for more.
“This is war, B’Ella.” He grabbed a fist full of snow and fired back.
A full blown snow war broke out and raged on holodeck two for over an hour, before and exhausted senior staff called a truce and went inside to get warm. Tom made hot chocolate and Harry built a fire in the fireplace. They all gathered close to the fire to warm up, sitting on the floor in a semi circle.
“So this is how Kathryn Janeway spent her childhood.” Chakotay chuckled and sipped his hot chocolate, she was leaning against him, next to the fire. “It’s not really all that different than what you do now”
“Having a snowball fight is like running a starship?”
“The way you do it- it is—Always trying to talk your way out to that next hit, sneaking up and returning fire when it’s least expected…”
“Not to mention batting those eyes to win over the other team.” Harry jumped it. “Just like the lady always says—use all your weapons effectively and you will come out on top.”
“And lucky for us she usually does.” Tom came back from the kitchen. “More hot chocolate anyone?”
“Yes, please.” She held out her cup. “So that what you think of my negotiating style, Harry, batting my eyes?”
“Hey, it works—for you anyway.” They all laughed.
“I have never batted my eyes in a negotiation.” She tried to stop laughing long enough to get it out.
“Please, Kathryn, you do it all the time.”
“I do not.” She sat up and pushed him.
“Captain?” B’Elanna made a face. “You do.”
“I do?! Really?”
“Yes, you do, Kathryn and like Harry says it usually works.” He rolled his eyes. “Hey, it always works on me.”
“Now, I know you’re lying---That would never work on you. I know that for a fact.”
“Oh, and how would you know that?”
“I tried it of course!”
The next two days passed quietly, except for the building excitement about Christmas. The party was just hours away, the shifts were arranged so everyone would have a chance to go. Tuvok tried to get out of it as usual, but the Captain had insisted and planned to take the bridge herself so he could attend.
Kathryn left the bridge early to prepare for the party, Tom and Harry were already helping Neelix set up and Christmas carols were played over the comm. It was Christmas on the starship Voyager and everyone had the spirit. The Captain soaked in her tub, planning her evening. She would leave the party for a short time to relieve Tuvok, but she was planning on going back to the holodeck after that. She reached for her comm badge.
“Janeway to Torres.”
“B’Elanna could you come to my quarters; I need to speak with you.”
“Sure, would fifteen minutes be OK?”
“Perfect, Janeway out.”
Kathryn reluctantly got out of the tub, fixing her hair and putting on her make up. She was still wearing her bathrobe when B’Elanna rang.
“Come in, B’Elanna”
“Captain, you wanted to see me?”
“Come in, sit down.” She poured two glassed of wine and joined B’Elanna on the couch. “B’Elanna I need a favor.”
“Sure, Captain.” She eyed her as she accepted the wine. “What can I do?”
“I have a special Christmas present for Chakotay and---I need your help with it.”
“OK, what do I do?”
“Well…” The Captain smiled
Chakotay picked her up at 2100 hundred hours and they made their entrance into the party in their usual quiet way. It was in full swing, with singing and presents, a fully decorated tree, plenty of food and drink, the music played and couples danced on the floor and outside in the snow. All in all it was a wondrous sight.—Christmas in space. They nibbled at the food, and shared a drink before going separate ways to mingle with the crew. They met up on the edge of the dance floor and shared a dance or two, before she left to relieve Tuvok. Promising to be back she hurried off to the bridge.
To everyone’s surprise, Tuvok showed up and made an attempt to mingle for a short time and then he was gone. Chakotay was just calculating the time it would take Kathryn to return when B’Elanna dragged him onto the dance floor.
“Dance with me.” She grabbed his arm. “I need to talk to you.”
“OK.” He moved them across the floor. “What’s up?”
“Damn.” She looked around at the people. “Not here, too crowded.”
“Let me grab my coat, meet me on the porch.” She was gone before he could answer.
Chakotay found his coat and wandered out the door. No one stopped him, they all assumed he was going to bring back the Captain. He waited outside a while and just when he thought she wouldn’t come, B’Elanna showed up. She was wearing a long hooded, red cloak, which she had pulled up on her head to block the cold and swirling snow flakes.
“I thought you changed your mind.”
“No, I just needed to get away from Tom. Come on.” She walked him down the steps and toward a path in the woods.
“B’E.” Tom was on the porch calling her.
“Damn.” She looked at Tom and back to Chakotay. “Go down this path, there is a cabin. I’ll be there as soon as I get rid of him.”
“B’Elanna, what is this all about?”
“B’E.” Tom called again.
“Please, I need to talk to you, but..” She glanced back at Tom. “Please.”
“OK, You take care of him. I’ll meet you.” He watched her hurry back to Tom, then followed the path to the cabin.
Chakotay went inside, there was a fire burning in the fireplace, so he checked around; no one. It was a cute little cabin- three rooms, but small. He looked around. The bedroom was so small it was almost wall to wall bed and the kitchen was tiny but stocked, there was plenty of wood for the fire and an ice bucket with champagne. Some one wasn’t going to like his being here. He was in the kitchen when the door opened. He came into the living room, to find her warming by the fire, still wearing her cloak.
“Hey, B’E, it’s warm enough in here you can take the cloak off.” He walked toward her. “Now what is this all about? Someone has this place stocked. I don’t think we should be here.” He stepped closer and she turned and dropped the cloak on the floor.
“Kathryn?” He studied her face. “Where’s B’E? What is this?” He watched her smile the crooked smile and stepped closer to him.
“Merry Christmas, Chakotay.” She reached up and drew his lips down to hers.
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ON TO SEQUEL 'THE
PRESENT' RATED NC17