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Summary: Kathryn and Chakotay honor some of Christmas' great traditions.

 

This Christmas Eve - Part 1
Christmas Traditions

Year: 2375

"Perfect!" Kathryn exclaimed, as Chakotay loosened his grip on the glittering angel atop the Christmas tree.

Chakotay let a smile overtake his features as he backed away from the tree to admire the work he and the Captain had done. It was absolutely gorgeous. The tree glowed with the several strings of white lights Kathryn had insisted upon. Each strand of gold bead garland draped across the branches shimmered in the light. The Christmas ornaments glistened as they swayed and twirled with the lightest puff of air. It looked nothing like the misshapen bush Kathryn had picked out while on Barinia a few weeks ago.

"I'm impressed, Kathryn. This has to be one of the most beautiful Christmas trees I've ever seen."

"See? I told you it would be just right!" she snickered, lightly nudging his side with her elbow as she joined him. "And you said that it would only be useful as firewood."

Chakotay chuckled. "OK! I admit that I was wrong. It looks wonderful. I guess all it needed was a little...'sprucing' up!"

Kathryn shot him a wicked glare, catching his pun. "Oh, that was terrible!"

He flashed another dimpled grin. "Well, at least it wasn't as bad as Tom's story about how the tradition began of putting an angel on top!"

"Now I *do* have to agree with that. And speaking of traditions, would you care for some eggnog?"

"That sounds wonderful!"

Kathryn gestured for him to have a seat as she walked over to the replicator, requesting two beverages. Chakotay settled down onto her sofa, happy to have a little free time...especially since he was able to spend that free time with Kathryn.

Kathryn sat down next to him, handing him the glass of eggnog. She touched the edge of her glass against his in a toast. "Merry Christmas, Chakotay."

"Merry Christmas, Kathryn," he replied, taking a sip. Chakotay closed his eyes, savoring the taste. "Mmm...this is delicious."

"It's my father's secret ingredient. A Janeway family tradition, if you will."

"You're really into traditions, aren't you?"

Kathryn nodded, as she began to point to the tree. "Why do you think I waited until Christmas Eve to put up my tree?" Noticing the puzzled look on Chakotay's face, she continued.

"When my sister and I were kids, our parents would wait until the absolute last minute to put up the Christmas tree. Used to drive us crazy. We truly believed that Santa only stopped at houses that had Christmas trees set up...and we were so afraid that Mom and Dad would forget! Every day, right up until Christmas Eve, we begged and pleaded with them. I even resorted to bribery. We finally broke them down, and on Christmas Eve night, we all would decorate the tree. From then on, even after Phoebe and I were grown, we waited until Christmas Eve to put up the tree."

Chakotay laughed the entire time as he imagined a young Kathryn Janeway, pouting and sulking until she got her way. Then he laughed harder when he realized that some things hadn't changed. "So *that's* why that tree has been in the cargo bay for nearly 3 weeks now!"

Her smile faded as she lowered her gaze. "I guess I just wanted to be reminded of home. Indiana is so beautiful this time of year. Snow is on the ground. The houses are all decorated..." Kathryn's voice trailed off. Chakotay knew that she was trying to fight back tears. He had seen her do it so many times. Taking a deep breath, she lifted her eyes back to his. "At least this way, I feel that a little bit of Indiana is here with me."

He covered her hand with his own. "Soon, Kathryn...someday soon, you'll be able to see your Indiana again. That's a promise."

She blinked back the tears as another smile tugged at her lips. "That's a promise that I'm gonna hold you to, Commander!"

A few awkward moments of silence passed as they continued to stare at each other. There was so much Chakotay wanted to tell her, but he knew that it wouldn't be right. Kathryn was still his Captain, still operating under Starfleet rules and regulations. He finally turned his eyes back towards the tree, once again admiring its sparkle and charm.

"You know, as perfect as that tree may be, it seems that there's something missing..."

She looked up at him in wonder. "What could possibly be missing? We have the lights, the garland, the ornaments, the angel...what else is there?"

He smirked as he reached over to the chair where he had discarded his uniform jacket earlier. From underneath it, Chakotay produced a small shiny package, topped with a red bow.

"For you, Kathryn," he said as he handed her the gift.

Kathryn's face lit up with surprise. "What's this?" she asked, admiring the wrapping.

"It's called a present. Another Christmas tradition. See, you open it like..."

She playfully punched his arm. "I KNOW it's a present, silly. But what *is* it?"

"Well, you'll have to open it to find out."

Kathryn gave him a suspicious look, then immediately began to rip at the paper. She opened the box, revealing a sparkling crystal ornament. She held it up, watching the light reflect many colors off of its surface.

"Oh, Chakotay...it's beautiful!"

Chakotay smiled. "I'm glad you like it."

"I love it! Thank you! But this must have taken up all your replicator rations! You really shouldn't have." Kathryn got up and began walking around the tree, searching for just the right spot to hang the ornament.

"Believe me...just seeing how happy you are makes it worth the 3 weeks worth of Neelix's cooking I'll have to endure!" he answered, watching her carefully hang the ornament from the branch.

Kathryn grimaced. "Now you've made me feel REALLY bad! Maybe I can let you borrow some of my rations. It's the least I can do!" She stepped back. "How's that?"

"Now, it's finally finished," he answered, noticing how the dimmed light from the tree made her even more beautiful. How it captured the highlights of her hair, and sparkled in her eyes...

"I think I had better go," he said, trying to shake away those intimate thoughts as he walked towards the door. "Good n-,"

"Wait...you can't leave just yet," she interrupted, pointing over his head. "There's another Christmas tradition you're forgetting."

Chakotay looked up, seeing the bright green sprig of mistletoe dangling above the door. When did she hang *that* up, he wondered, trying to remember the significance of mistletoe at Christmas. And if his memory was correct, mistletoe meant one thing...

"Is that within Starfleet protocol parameters?" he asked, grinning as he turned back towards her. Kathryn stepped closer to him, taking his hands into hers. She offered him a sly smile.

"I can assure you...this most definitely *is* within parameters." She leaned forward to place a gentle kiss against his left cheek. That was all Chakotay had expected. Kathryn looked up into his eyes. "Thanks all your help with the tree, and for the beautiful ornament...and for just being there for me all this time."

Chakotay felt himself blushing. He had never been this close to Kathryn since they had been stranded in the Delta Quadrant. And he had never seen her more relaxed and happy than she was right now. It was a side of her that he enjoyed seeing. And it was one of the many reasons that he found himself falling in love with her.

Kathryn continued to stare up at him, wondering what thoughts were running through Chakotay's mind. Hoping that they were the same thoughts which were racing through hers. As if to answer her question, Chakotay leaned further down. She tip-toed up to touch her lips to his. They both jumped a little as their lips made first contact. Very timidly, Chakotay pulled her a little closer and tenderly began to move his lips over hers, relishing in the sensation.

It had started out as an innocent kiss, but soon became more intense as Kathryn wrapped her arms around him, rubbing her hands up and down his back. Chakotay had his own hands entangled in her hair, not wanting to let her go. Only when Kathryn let out a low moan did he realize that this should stop before they ended up doing something they would both regret.

Besides, as he had told her before...there was plenty of time.

He hesitantly drew back, reaching up to brush her cheek with his hand. Smiling, he said, "*That* was not within parameters!"

Kathryn giggled as she rested her forehead against his chin, almost breathless. "Well, maybe I can talk Starfleet into changing their parameters!"

He nodded in agreement, and pulled her into a hug. "Thank you for making my Christmas wish come true," he whispered, placing a light kiss into her hair.

Kathryn once again felt the tears in her eyes. Why she had waited so long to allow this was beyond her. All her fears were unwarranted. The universe hadn't shut down, the ship was still moving, and the crew was unharmed. What had she been so afraid of?

She looked up at him, feeling a sense of peace as he gazed back. He placed another kiss against her lips, then released her to walk towards the door. As he stepped out into the corridor, she said, "Pleasant dreams, Commander."

"Only if I dream of you, Kathryn," Chakotay answered, as the door hissed shut behind him.

Kathryn placed her hand over her heart, feeling it flutter. This was going to be one Christmas she would remember forever.

[ Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 ]
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