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Summary: Kathryn partakes in too much of the Christmas spirits.

 

This Christmas Eve - Part 2
Christmas Cheers

Year: 2376

Neelix's huge Christmas party was in full swing. It was quite a formal affair...dancing, a giant spread of food, elaborate decorations. And of course, Santa Claus. At first glance, it seemed that almost every crew member was there, enjoying the festivities. Unfortunately, some crew members had felt that the party needed a little "livening up", and subsequently, added a special ingredient to the Talaxian punch. The same punch which Kathryn had grown entirely too fond of.

Shortly after she had consumed several glasses of the tainted punch, she wandered over to Chakotay's side at the party.

"Merry Christmas, Commander!"

"Merry Christmas, Captain. Are you enjoying the party?"

"I'm having a blast! Have you tried this punch? Neelix has really outdone himself this time!" She gave him a silly grin, holding up her half-empty glass. "Wanna try it?"

"No thanks, I've already tried it...and from the looks of it, you've tried enough of it!" He took the glass from her hand, much to her dismay. She attempted to snatch it away from him and fell into his arms. The remaining punch and its container dropped to the floor, undamaged. Kathryn almost yelped.

"You spilled my drink! Now I'll have to go and get more!"

"Oh no, you don't! I'm taking you to your quarters," he replied, tightening his grip on her. She began to struggle, but to no avail. Chakotay wasn't letting go, not that Kathryn really wanted him to. Deciding to stop fighting a losing battle, she relaxed in his arms.

"Fine, Commander. You win. But I'll only go under one condition."

He stared back at her suspiciously. Kathryn was up to something. He knew her too well...sober or intoxicated. "What condition?"

She glanced up over his head and grinned wickedly. "Kiss me."

He looked up. Mistletoe. Once again, she had managed to strategically place them underneath that mischievous little plant.

"Are you sure you want me to kiss you here in front of all the crew?"

"It's Christmas, Chakotay. It's expected. Besides, you wouldn't want to break tradition, would you?"

Before she had the opportunity to change her mind, he pulled her lips up to his, parting them for a deep, tender kiss. She wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him closer as he lifted her up.

The crowd had grown silent at their affectionate display. Sensing that silence, Chakotay broke the kiss, setting Kathryn back down on the ground. They turned towards the speechless crew. He smiled broadly, pointing up.

"Mistletoe," was all he said. A few whispers began to resonate through the room as he took Kathryn's arm and led her towards the nearest exit. As they walked out the door, Kathryn turned around and yelled, "MERRY CHRISTMAS!!"

The doors shut behind her, and an immediate cheer emanated from the room. Chakotay couldn't resist a laugh as he helped Kathryn stagger towards her quarters.

"I'm so tired I can barely walk!" she groaned, throwing her shoes onto the floor as she and Chakotay walked in. She instantly stumbled on them, causing her to erupt into a fit of giggles. Chakotay continued to support her on his arm, helping her over to the couch.

"I don't think you're tired, Kathryn," he responded. He kicked her shoes to the side to prevent himself from tripping, as well. "I just think you're drunk!"

"I'm not drunk! How dare you accuse me of being...<hiccup>...drunk?" she retorted, pushing herself from his grasp. Losing her balance, she collapsed onto the couch, another bout of giggles coming. Chakotay sat down next to her and waited for her to stop laughing. He couldn't resist a smile, thinking about the gossip that must be flying through the ship right about now.

"B'Elanna warned you about that punch, didn't she? She *told* you someone had spiked it," he scolded, reaching over to brush a loose strand of hair from her face. She smiled lightly.

"But *you* were drinking it!" Kathryn said, trying to sit upright on the couch.

"I had one glass. One! That pales in comparison to your 15 glasses!"

"I did NOT have 15 glasses of punch! I only had...," she started, counting on her fingers and mumbling the numbers. When she ran out of fingers, Kathryn stopped counting and held her head in her hands, letting out another groan.

"I'm gonna feel this in the morning!"

Chakotay began to chuckle. "And on Christmas Day, no less!"

Kathryn began to groan even louder. "Oh Chakotay...I'm sorry! We were gonna open our Christmas presents tonight!"

He took her hands away from her face, gazing into her eyes. He could see the tears there, threatening to fall. Though he wasn't sure if they were tears of regret or pain...or even laughter.

"It's ok, Kathryn. Technically, we probably shouldn't open presents until tomorrow anyway."

"But I can't wait until tomorrow! I want to open my present now!" she insisted, reaching out to grab the front of his shirt. Now she was acting like a little kid again. He snickered, amused by her antics.

"Not in your condition. You need to be sober to open *my* gift."

A frown crossed her face. She began to bite her lower lip, searching for an idea. She slapped her hands together.

"The Doctor! He can give me an antidote! Something to counteract the effects! Let's go!" Kathryn quickly rose, then threw her hand over her forehead, swaying. Chakotay caught her arm, preventing her from falling back onto the couch.

"Hold on! You're not going anywhere else tonight. I'll go and see the Doctor. You wait right here. Ok?"

She nodded slowly, trying not to encourage the headache that was threatening. Chakotay left her quarters, heading straight for Sickbay.

He returned a few minutes later, hypospray in hand. As soon as he walked in, he stopped. Kathryn was asleep, her knees pulled up to her chin. Chakotay smiled, finally settling down by her side.

"At least this will keep you from having a terrible headache in the morning," he whispered, gently touching the hypospray to her neck. She whimpered a little, then nestled into his embrace, her head rested underneath his chin. He reached up and began to stroke her hair. "Oh, Kathryn, what *am* I going to do with you?"

Chakotay gazed at the Christmas tree which Kathryn had again set up in her quarters. It was another beautiful tree, slightly larger than the previous year's tree. She still had the white lights and the gold trim. And to his delight, the crystal ornament which he had given her last year. A smile crept across his lips as he thought about how their relationship had developed since that last Christmas.

It wasn't an intimate relationship, but it was more than a simple friendship. Chakotay allowed Kathryn to set the pace, not wanting to force her into something she wasn't ready for. He knew that he would be ready whenever she was. He had been ready for 5 years.

They had definitely begun to spend more time together...so much more quality time than they shared during their evening dinners, where they discussed ship's business. Free time on the holodeck...hand-in-hand moonlit walks on the beach, picnics in the park, quiet talks by the fire...learning about each other's likes and dislikes.

In some ways, Chakotay was happy with the slow development of their relationship. It allowed him to get to know Kathryn as more than just his Captain.

He had never been in a relationship where he had taken the time to discover so much about one person as he had with Kathryn. She was so much different from all the rest. Chakotay had never met anyone quite like her. And he realized that he never would again.

"How do I tell you that you mean more to me than anything else in this entire universe? That I want to spend the rest of my life with you by my side?" he whispered aloud, continuing to stroke her hair.

Kathryn spoke in a timid and very quiet tone. "You just did."

She lifted her head and turned to face him, a single tear trickling down her face. Chakotay didn't know what to say. He hadn't intended for her to hear his dilemma. But that was irrelevant now. Kathryn continued to stare at him, as if waiting for him to say something. Suddenly, the words came easily.

"Kathryn Janeway, I love you with all my heart and with all my soul. Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"

Kathryn touched her fingertips to his tattoo, tracing it lightly. She moved her hand around behind his head and locked her eyes with his. She began to smile as she pulled him closer, whispering her response.

"Yes."

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