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Summary: Chakotay recreates a fond childhood memory for his family.

 

This Christmas Eve - Part 4
Christmas Lights

Year: 2380

"I wish you would just tell me where we're going," Kathryn argued, crossing her arms in front of her. "I always like to know what I'm getting into."

Chakotay continued to button Emily's coat up, intentionally slow...just to annoy Kathryn even more. He whispered loudly to his 3-year-old daughter, "Tell Mommy she needs to learn to be a little more patient."

Emily giggled, then looked up at her mother. "Be little more patient, Mommy."

Chakotay couldn't help but laugh as he fastened the last button, then helped her put on her mittens. He stood up, still flashing his grin at Kathryn. She was trying so hard *not* to laugh, but how could she not? Those dimples got her every time.

"Besides, Kathryn, you didn't know what you were getting into when you agreed to marry me, did you?"

She finally broke, a smile consuming her face. "Well, I have to admit...you certainly have been a surprise every minute!"

Chakotay leaned over to give her a gentle kiss, then turned to pick up her scarf. "I really wish you would wear this...it's going to be a little cold there."

"Chakotay, it's the holodeck! You can program it to not be so cold, can't you?"

He cocked his head to the side. "And take all the fun out of it? Not on your life!"

She squinted her eyes at him, still somewhat irritated, then she snatched the scarf from his hands, wrapping it around her neck. Chakotay snickered as he grabbed Emily's hand to lead them out of their quarters and down the corridor. They stopped just outside of Holodeck 2, and Kathryn attempted to walk on inside until Chakotay took her arm.

"Not yet...I have to start the program." She playfully rolled her eyes as he requested his program. When the computer acknowledged that the program was ready, he turned back to her.

"Ok, girls. Before we go in, I just have one thing to say." He stepped close enough to the door, causing it to open. A blast of cool air hit them as he exclaimed, "Merry Christmas!"

Kathryn stood in awe at the scene that lay before her. For as far as she could see were Christmas lights. Twinkling lights, light figurines, icicle lights. Everywhere were lights. Emily began clapping her hands. "Pretty!" she squealed, running inside the holodeck.

"Don't go too far, sweetie!" Chakotay yelled as he followed Kathryn in. He walked up beside her, smiling. "Well, what do you think?"

"Oh, Chakotay! It's beautiful! Where is this?" she asked, taking his hand.

"I can't exactly remember the name of the park, but it's from Earth. I remember the spectacular light display my parents took me to see there as a child. They called it 'The Lights Before Christmas'. And I never forgot it."

"I can see why! There must be a million lights here!"

"Actually, it's closer to 3 million. They barely left any surface untouched."

They began to make their way though the park, with Emily just ahead of them, running from display to display, laughing and giggling at each sight.

The first part of the huge display had a zoological theme. There were many light figurines around...tigers, giraffes, bears, butterflies, flamingos, zebras. Some of them were even animated, from monkeys swinging through the treetops to ostriches running along the paths. Emily's favorite was the animated baby elephant, who was splashing water over his head.

Throughout the walkways were towering palm trees, their trunks coated with white lights. The tops had green spotlights shining upwards through the branches. Other trees had Chakotay's favorite multi-colored lights thickly wrapped around the branches. Many of the trees had twinkling snowflakes and stars cascading through their branches.

But the most spectacular sight of all was the bridge leading over the river to the botanical gardens. The bushes were draped with blue lights...all different shades. Giving the appearance of water. The entrance to the bridge had an animated dolphin leaping from the water and over the people.

From the arches over the bridge dangled blue icicle lights, faintly sparkling like rippling water. Chakotay lifted Emily up onto his shoulders so she could touch the lights as they passed under them. Along the sides of the bridge were lighted figurines of sea creatures...sea turtles, squid, crabs, a variety of fish, and even a few sharks. At the end of the bridge was a plethora of lighted trees and figures, depicting an underwater fantasy.

As they returned from the botanical gardens, Emily began pointing to the large carousel across from the bridge.

"Mommy, can I ride?"

Kathryn smiled in agreement. As she walked over, Chakotay told them he would get them all some hot chocolate. He returned and waited for the ride to stop. Each time Emily went around, he had to wave, each time nearly spilling the drinks. Not really caring if he did spill them. These were moments he would cherish forever.

Kathryn helped Emily down from the horse and taking her hand, led her down from the carousel. Just before they got back to where Chakotay was waiting, Emily tugged on her mother's coattail. Kathryn stooped down so Emily could ask her a question. Emily whispered into her ear, to which Kathryn shook her head.

She placed a finger over her lips, saying, "It's still a secret. We'll tell Daddy later, okay?"

Emily nodded, then rushed over to her father. He carefully handed her the hot chocolate, which she began to drink immediately. Kathryn took her cup, but not before giving Chakotay a grateful kiss.

"This has been a wonderful evening. Thank you for bringing us here."

"Oh, it's not over yet."

"You mean, there's more?"

"Plenty more," he replied, leading them around the corner of the hot chocolate stand. More lights. More decorated trees. And snow. Beautiful drifts of soft white snow.

"YAY!" Emily exclaimed, rushing towards the closest drift.

Before moving on to the displays, the three of them fashioned a lopsided snowman, complete with a corncob pipe, a button nose, and two eyes made out of coal. Kathryn even loaned him her scarf, much to Chakotay's delight.

Along the way, there were many more beautiful light figurines. Trains with their wheels appearing to turn, large gift boxes, teddy bears, elves working, reindeer. All amongst a beautiful winter wonderland.

To top everything off, Santa Claus was even there, getting last minute gift ideas. He lifted Emily up onto his lap and began listening to her Christmas wishes. At one point, she whispered into Santa's ear. He began to chuckle and whispered back, "I'll see what I can do!"

They walked around a little longer before returning to their quarters. Emily immediately ran to the Christmas tree, and proceeded to shake each of her packages underneath it.

Chakotay snickered. "Talk about impatient! Now I wonder where she gets that from?"

"Can't imagine!" Kathryn responded, throwing her coat over the couch. "Emily, I told you to be careful. Some of those may be breakable. Now let's go get you dressed for bed. Daddy will tell you a story when we get back."

"I will?" he asked, surprised.

Kathryn shot him a glare as she followed Emily into the other room. He returned a grin.

A few minutes later, Emily returned with her teddy bear. She crawled up onto her father's lap, settling herself into his right arm, and waited for the story to begin. Kathryn sat down next to him, snuggling into his other arm.

"My two favorite girls in the whole universe," he commented before starting the story.

While he talked of eight tiny reindeer and one jolly old elf, Kathryn gazed intently at Chakotay. She loved to hear his voice. So soft and gentle. Many a night his calm voice had lulled her to sleep. As she noticed Emily fighting to keep her eyes open, Kathryn realized that she wasn't the only one affected by his voice.

"I guess we should get this one to bed," Chakotay said after finishing the story, looking down at Emily, who was fast asleep.

Kathryn nodded, and rose to go turn down her bed. Chakotay carried her into the bedroom, but as he was tucking her in, Emily awoke. "Did Mommy tell you?" she whispered sleepily.

"Tell me what, sweetie?"

"About the baby," she answered with a yawn, closing her eyes and drifting off to sleep again. Kathryn stopped dead in her tracks, hearing what Emily said. She turned to face Chakotay, who had a look of confusion on his face.

"Baby?"

She began to smile, and could feel the tears welling up in her eyes. They had been trying for several months now to have another child, with no luck. But finally, during her last checkup, the Doctor had some good news for her. It had been very difficult for Kathryn to keep the news a secret for a whole week, but she could think of no greater Christmas gift to give her husband.

"She's been dying to tell you all day."

"Then it's true, Kathryn? It's really true?" he asked, continuing to stare at her. When she nodded her head, Chakotay swept her into his arms, hugging her tightly.

"Merry Christmas," Kathryn whispered, tears flowing freely.

"This is one of the best Christmas gifts you could ever give me, Kathryn," he said, finally releasing her. "Now it makes my gift look so...insignificant."

Chakotay led her out of Emily's bedroom and over to the couch by the tree. He picked up a small shiny package, one that Kathryn was getting accustomed to receiving each year. She immediately opened it, removing a crystal ornament in the shape of Santa Claus.

"It's to remind you of the place I took you to tonight."

Kathryn looked up at him and smiled. "How could I ever forget it? Everything was absolutely gorgeous."

"One day, I promise to take you and Emily...and the little one, there. When we get home."

He pulled her closer and she rested her head against his chest.

"When we get home," she repeated softly, closing her eyes.

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