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> Christmas Memory

Christmas Memory

By Crusher

'Chakotay to Kathryn.'

'Chakotay to Kathryn,' he repeated finally breaking through the fog.

'Kathryn here Chakotay,' she grumbled as she burrowed deeper into her blankets.  'This isn't an emergency is it? And how do I know this, you ask? One; I don't hear the red alert and two; you're calling me, Kathryn.  This better be good because I was doing what you and the Doctor are always complaining I don't do, and that is sleeping.  You have five seconds before I cut the connection and go back to sleep.'

'I'm sorry, I have a belated Christmas present for you but it can wait for another time,' he teased her.

'What present?'  Kathryn asked sounding more alert then a few seconds ago.

'Can I come over and show you?' Chakotay questioned.

'Fine, but this better be good,' she warned as she rose from the bed.

She was just picking up her robe as the door rang so she called him in. 

Chakotay walked through the door as she entered the living room, slipping on her robe.  He looked toward her and stopped in his tracks as he took in the woman before him; she took his breath away.

Not noticing Chakotay's scrutiny Kathryn tied her robe and then stood with her hands on her hips.

'I'm awake now, so where is my surprise,' Kathryn snapped, causing the big man to laugh at her abruptness.  Kathryn was never one to beat around the bush especially when there was a present for her.

Walking forward, he pulled a small box from his pocket and held it out to her.  Kathryn froze for a moment as she looked at the small velvet box before shaking herself realizing that it was not what she thought.  After all, it was just recently that they had started talking again on a personal level.

Taking the offered box, her fingers brushed the palm of his hand causing a shiver to run up his spine at her gentle touch.

'Chakotay you didn't need to get me anything; after all you already gave me a Christmas gift,' Kathryn said as she looked up at him.

'Okay, I'll take it back,' he said as he reached for it but she spun around heading for her couch.

'No, that's all right,' she said as the excitement of what could be inside built.

Sitting down she bit her lip as she slowly raised the lid.

'A data chip,' she questioned as she pulled the small object from its resting place inside the box.  'Are you just torturing me for the fun of it?  May I remind you I was sleeping,' Kathryn stated with her death glare in full force.

'It's a chip for the holodeck and if you get dressed I'll make breakfast and we'll go and explore the program,' he encouraged as he pulled her up from the couch and turned her toward the bedroom.

'Who says I want you to join me?' she said saucily.

'Because the person who created it, invited me along,' Chakotay threw at her as she froze in her steps.

Spinning around she walked back over to him.

'I thought you created it,' she asked confused.

'Nope I was asked to give it to you and to join you,' he said firmly as he turned her back toward her bedroom.  'Now get dressed,' he ordered as he indicated her bedroom.

'Yes, sir,' she snapped out sharply as she saluted him.

'I'm going to take your present back,' he threatened.

'Nope, it's mine,' Kathryn said as she held it possessively in her hand close to her chest.

Chakotay took a menacing step toward her that had Kathryn backing into her room quickly grumbling that he was bossy.

Returning a short time later, Kathryn found Chakotay putting the finishing touches on the table.  She watched him for a moment unobserved as he placed an orange juice and coffee at her place setting.  Looking him over she liked what he was wearing. The man definitely looked good in anything.  She loved him in his uniform but casual was nice too, and she smiled as she looked at the black pants with a dark gray v-neck sweater over a black t-shirt.  Yes, he was easy on the eyes.

Kathryn shook her head to curtail her errant thoughts, and then kicked herself for letting her mind wander in that direction.

Unbeknownst to Kathryn, the man she was observing was looking at her and he liked what he was seeing.  She was wearing a long straight gray skirt with a blue sweater that buttoned down the front.  The top three buttons were undone and revealed a matching blue camisole underneath trimmed in lace.  Her hair was brushed out in loose waves that just touched her shoulders.  He missed her long hair at moments like this because he knew her long tresses would be reaching down her back in waves and curls.  He wished she hadn't cut it but he hoped that maybe she would grow it again one day.

Realizing he was staring and hoping she wouldn't notice, he walked around the table pulling the chair out for her.  'Your breakfast is ready madam,' he said with a flourish as she picked up her napkin.

'Thank you, sir,' Kathryn laughed as he bowed before moving to his chair and food.

Chakotay felt Kathryn staring at him and looked up to find her looking thoughtfully at him.

'What?' he asked as he took a bite of his eggs.

'So can you give me a hint of the author of this program?' she wheedled.

'No, so stop trying to find out and eat your food,' he ordered as he took a sip of his orange juice.  'And by the way, the holodeck is booked for us all day,' he threw out knowing it would drive her crazy.

'All day?' she said surprised as she bit into a melon slice.

'Yes, so eat up,' he responded evilly.  'And then the adventure can begin.'

'This better not be one of Tom's Captain Proton programs,' Kathryn warned as she pushed a half-empty plate away.

'Kathryn, you should be eating more than that,' Chakotay encouraged as he drank his tea.

'I'm not that hungry,' she offhandedly replied as she drank her coffee.

'Please, for me, try to eat some more,' he attempted to persuade her with his dimples.

Looking at his pleading face, she pulled the plate back and ate a bit more as he finished his breakfast.

'Okay, Kathryn, I think you've forced yourself to eat as much as you can so let's clean up and go,' Chakotay said as Kathryn jumped up and grabbed her plate, glass and mug heading for the replicator.

Moving back to the table, Kathryn grabbed the data chip as they made for the door.

Chakotay could see her excitement building as they approached the holodeck.  The doors opened at Chakotay's request revealing the empty room adorned by grid lines.

Moving to the arch Kathryn, slipped the chip and called for the program to be activated.  The grid disappeared to reform into a living room or more specifically the Janeway living room.

Turning to Chakotay with an arched brow, Kathryn silently asked the question as to why they were there.

'Do you remember a couple months ago you had a communication with your mother?'  He prodded as he watched her face cloud over a bit as she remembered the painful call.

'Mom, are you okay?'  Captain Kathryn Janeway asked the flustered woman on the viewer.

'I'm fine, Kathryn,' her mother reassured her as she sat down in a chair that had been placed in front of the view screen in the Alpha quadrant.  'I was just running late and had to rush to make the call on time.'

Kathryn visibly relaxed as her mother smiled that oh, so, familiar smile.

'So what were you up to that had you running late?' Kathryn asked as she leaned against the console.

'Making arrangements for the Janeway Christmas get together,' her mother answered as she went on to explain the food she was ordering along with some extra chairs.  'It was supposed to be at Phoebe's but she can't do it this year.'

'Why not,' her eldest demanded thinking her mother shouldn't have to arrange such a large celebration.

Kathryn's thoughts went back through the years to the loud, boisterous but truly enjoyable parties.  With these thoughts swirling through her mind, the homesickness hit hard. She missed home so much it hurt and she had to take deep breaths to control the tears that wanted to come.

'Kathryn,' she heard as she looked at the screen.

'Sorry, Mom, what were you saying?' she asked as she tried to keep the tears at bay.

'I said your sister is due next month and can't do the party, so I am this year and she will next or if you're home by then you can have the party,' her mother said hopefully.

'That would be nice, Mom,' Kathryn whispered as a few tears slipped down her cheeks.

'Oh baby, I didn't mean to upset you,' Gretchen said as she watched a man walk into the room unnoticed by Kathryn.  'I just hope that you will find a way home soon.'

'Me too, Mom,' Kathryn answered quietly.

Gretchen watched her daughter then the man behind her.

'Do you celebrate Christmas on Voyager?'  The older woman asked.

'Yes, we try but last year we were dodging a nasty group of aliens that kept us on the run for four months and by the time things settled down it was St. Patrick's Day,' Kathryn chuckled at the memory of Neelix in a green Santa hat.

The man behind her smiled also causing Gretchen to ask another question.

'Do you celebrate with Chakotay at least?  You haven't mentioned him as much in your letters lately.'

'No,' Kathryn answered but the man could hear the pain.

'Why not? You were always telling me about your dinners and trips to the holodeck or about your debates over day to day running of the ship?'

'We seem to have drifted apart lately, I think he's finally moved on,' Voyager's Captain explained but Gretchen could hear her heartbreak.  'He's better off that way,' Kathryn said.

Gretchen noticed the shocked look on the intruder's face.

Kathryn pulled herself together as she remembered something her mother had said and decided to distract her.  'Phoebe is pregnant again?'

'Yes, she is due in the next three weeks, so she can't have Christmas dinner with a two month old,' the proud grandmother stated. 

'Another baby,' Kathryn whispered as she felt jealousy course through her and then felt guilty because she had made the choice to join Starfleet.  Phoebe on the other hand had not wanted anything to do with it and had carved out a nice life with David her husband of ten years.  She was an artist and he was an architect.  They had five year old Amanda and three year old Andrew and soon another.

'Yes, she says this will be the last but I don't think so,' Gretchen commented as she watched her oldest daughter fight to keep her emotions under control.

'Tell her congratulations and I hope I get home some day to meet her brood,' Kathryn replied as the man in the background turned and left.  'Well, Mom, our time is nearly up so I'll say goodbye and I miss you terribly.'

'I miss you too, baby and I know you'll get home soon,' her mother told her firmly as the signal started to break down.

Kathryn stood trying to get her tears under control as her mother's image was replaced with a star chart.

Nodding her head as she tried to control her emotions, she answered.  'Yes I remember but how do you know about it?'

She hadn't talked to Chakotay about it at the time or since their relationship had improved.  Kathryn had a thought as she looked at him.

'You overheard that conversation?' she asked as he nodded.

'I walked into Astrometrics by accident that day and I know I should have announced myself or just turned and left but I heard your mother apologizing for upsetting you.  I thought maybe I could help you then I came up with the idea of contacting your mother but I needed someone's help.'

'I left astrometrics before you saw me and went in search of the person I knew could help me.  Tom and I nearly collided in the hallway; he had been looking for me.  He was on a mission; he wanted to con me into letting him have a party but I distracted him with the mention of doing something for you.'

'When he talked to his father we had Admiral Paris contact your Mom and she was beamed to the lab.  After Tom talked to his Dad I spoke to your Mom and together we put together this idea,' Chakotay finished.

'Creating my family's living room at Christmas,' Kathryn asked confused.

'No Kathryn creating a Janeway Christmas for you,' a voice said from behind her.

Slowly she turned to find her mother standing in the door to the hallway.  Kathryn blinked a few times not believing her eyes as he mother moved toward her. 

Stopping in front of the now speechless, strong and determined Captain of Voyager her mother explained.

'Chakotay asked me to record the inside of the house so he could put together a Christmas day for you but I helped him do one better.  We filmed the festivities then gave the recording to Reg Barclay and with his genius and a few others we have put together this memory for you.'

Kathryn turned to Chakotay and whispered, 'This is too much.  The energy that must have been used up to transfer this program and then to reserve the holodeck all day for me, I can't ask that of them.'

'Kathryn, it's done and it's what your crew wanted to do for you.  They wanted to show how much they care for you and how they appreciate everything you are doing to get them home.  But mostly for what you did four months ago,' he said as the memories of that terrible trade deal came flashing back.

They had been attempting to negotiate for important minerals and were nearly finished with the deal when the Dacan explained that a member of the crew would have to endure a ritual to show that the ship was worthy of the material.  Janeway had tried to discuss a different solution but they would not hear of it and so she had accepted the challenge without knowing what it entailed.

Chakotay tried to argue with her offering to endure the test himself but of course, she refused.  He then tried to tell her that she was the Captain and had a duty to remain unharmed so she could get the crew home but again, she countered with the fact that it was her responsibility to do whatever was needed to for the crew.

The Captain was led away from Chakotay to a guarded building.  The wait had been frustrating as well as nerve-wracking the not knowing what they were doing to the Captain.

Hours later, she was led back to Chakotay they sat done with the head trader and finished the talks.  Every once in a while he looked at the Captain but could see nothing unusual as she finalized the list.  Thanking the Dacan, the Captain left with her Away Team beaming back to the ship.

Chakotay stepped off the pad and realized the Captain wasn't beside him snapping orders.  Turning slowly around he found her still standing and as he watched the colour drained from her face and she swayed on the spot as she called to him.

Jumping back up to her, he caught her as she blacked out.  He called for transport to Sickbay and the awful truth was revealed about what she endured in that building.  And to think she done this for the crew.  She never wanted them to know what she had endured and had sworn everyone that had been in Sickbay to secrecy.

That terrible day had come back to him when he'd walked into Astrometrics and her call.  He'd searched out Tom and that was when they'd put together the idea, with the crew's approval. Some of the facts were explained to them but not all details were given, enough though to make the crew aware of what their Captain would do for them.

'Oh Chakotay,' Kathryn whispered as she realized what he'd done. 

'Kathryn please just enjoy the day we've created for you,' he pleaded.

'Kathryn,' her mother called as her daughter looked back to her.  'A lot of people were a part of this, so enjoy it,' she encouraged as she hugged the younger woman.  Holding her daughter for the first time in years, she held her tightly with tears pouring down her cheeks.

Taking a deep breath she pulled back to look at Kathryn brushing the tears from her daughter's cheeks.  'I've missed you so much my baby.'

'Me too, Mom,' she responded with a tear-filled voice.

Pulling herself together as best as possible, Gretchen decided it was time to start Kathryn's day.

'Come on we have things to do before everyone else arrives,' her mother said as she pulled Kathryn along.  That means you to Chakotay.'

The big man laughed as he followed the two women.

'What are you laughing at?'  Kathryn asked as she turned with hands on her hips.

'I know where you get that bossy manner,' he chuckled as he walked past her to be stopped by another Janeway glaring at him.

'You can peel the potatoes,' Gretchen ordered.  'For being smart,' she said as Chakotay hung his head.

'Yes, ma'am,' he answered as he headed for the large bowl containing the mound of vegetables causing Kathryn to laugh.  'You can help him young lady,' her mother admonished.

'Yes, Mom,' she answered properly chastised.

They worked for a while in silence as Gretchen observed the command team.

'So, Chakotay does your family celebrate Christmas?' she asked as his peeled the potatoes.

'No, ma'am,' he responded as he cleaned the fifth potato to her daughter's second.

'Chakotay why don't you come over and help me here while Kathryn finishes off those it seems she hasn't gotten any better at it,' her mother observed.  'She can't do any harm peeling them but I think you can be a big help over here.'

Laughing Chakotay threw Kathryn an apologetic look as he gazed at the pile of potatoes that remained.  Moving to the counter he found her mother had laid out all the different vegetables she wanted to have with the dinner.

Quickly picking up a knife he started to cut up the green beans as well as yellow.  After finishing them, he moved onto the carrots.

'So, Commander, you appear to know your way around a kitchen,' Gretchen observed as she worked on the crust for the pies.

'Yes, my mother thought it was important for her children to know how to feed themselves if they needed to.' 

'I thought it was important too but my oldest daughter thought quantum mechanics was more important,' Gretchen commented as her daughter glared.  'Kathryn that might work on your crew but not on me so behave.'

'If I don't behave, can I go to my room?' Kathryn threw out saucily.

'No, because that never worked when we were kids,' a female voice said from behind Kathryn. 

'Phoebe!' Kathryn cried as she turned to find her sister beside her.

Grabbing each other, they hugged and cried for the next few minutes, their mother joining them in the hug and tears.  Finally breaking apart, they laughed and kissed as they wiped each other's tears.

'Phoebe, you look great,' Kathryn said as she looked over her younger sister surprised to see the changes that had happened to her while she'd been gone.  Being a mother had made her more beautiful if that were possible.

'And you look like you don't eat much and have too much stress, big sister,' her sister admonished.

Chakotay smiled at the 'big sister' comment but not the stress observation because she only knew the half of it.  He looked at the three women and chuckled again, Kathryn might be the oldest sibling but size wise the sisters were the same height.  Phoebe had blond hair to Kathryn's auburn and hazel eyes where Kathryn's were blue-gray, but that was where the differences ended.  Both women were the same height and slender stature just like their mother.

'I have been so lonely,' Kathryn told her sister and mother.

Phoebe noticed the big man behind them and his reaction to this statement.

'Kathryn, I'm sure you're not alone out there,' Phoebe commented.  'After all you have an entire crew.'

'Yes, I spend time with the senior staff but I miss family,' and once again Phoebe noticed Chakotay's reaction.  'I do have two people I'm close to Tuvok is one and,' turning to Chakotay she smiled through her tears as she reached out her hand.  'Phoebe, I would like you to meet my very good friend, my First Officer, Commander Chakotay.  Chakotay this is my pain in the butt little sister, Phoebe,' she laughed at Phoebe as she stuck out her tongue.  'Oh, very mature, Phoebe.'

'Always,' she answered back.  'Very nice to meet you, Commander. I pity you having to put up with this one,' the younger sister said smartly.

'Kathryn's not that hard to deal with,' Chakotay answered as he extended his hand.  'Very nice to meet you, Phoebe.'

'Nice to meet you too,' she said as she introduced him to her husband and children.

Kathryn hugged David then knelt in front of her niece and nephew.  Chakotay watched as she talked quietly to the children as only Kathryn could, and watched in delight as their shy smiles disappeared and full-blown grins appeared on their faces.

'So where is the newest member?' Kathryn asked as she rose from her kneeling position.

'Sleeping; we put her down in my old room; I'll introduce you later,' Phoebe said as Gretchen fussed around her grandchildren getting them cookies and milk.

'How are preparations going?'  Phoebe asked as she hugged Kathryn again.

'Fine,' Gretchen said as she poured a coffee.  'Chakotay has been a big help, unlike your sister,' their mother commented as Chakotay chuckled.

'You know I don't like cooking,' Kathryn whined.

'But you do like to bake,' Phoebe countered.

'Phoebe,' her older sister growled. 

'Has she never told you, Chakotay?' she asked and continued when her shook his head.  'Kathryn won second prize at the local fair for her cherry cobbler.'

'Really?' Chakotay said astounded as he looked at his friend.

'Phoebe,' Kathryn said menacingly again.

'What, you should be proud of it. Has she ever made it for you?'  Phoebe asked Chakotay.

'No,' he said as he watched Kathryn blush.

'I have the ingredients here. Why don't you make it for us so Chakotay can try it?' her mother suggested as she moved back to the pies.

'Go on Kathryn,' her sister urged as she pushed her toward the counter.

'Fine, but it's been a while since I've made it,' Kathryn warned as she went about gathering the things she needed to make the cobbler.

Work on the meal progressed until a break was decided for lunch.  After lunch, David suggested taking the children out to play. Chakotay offered to go as well, encouraging Kathryn to join them.  Agreeing she went upstairs to change out of her skirt and sweater to something more conducive to snow play.  Chakotay requested something more comfortable, and went to change as well.

Dressed in warm clothes the group trekked out to the backyard to enjoy the new snowfall.

Amanda wanted to build a snowman while Andrew wanted to build a fort.  The men said they would help in the fort building while Kathryn went with Amanda.

Kathryn had forgotten how much fun playing in the snow was as she rolled the base for the first figure.  After rolling the next ball they had the middle of the snowman and while her aunt lifted the ball Amanda went about creating the head.

'So what shall we call this creation, Miss Amanda,' her aunt asked while they worked on their creations.

'Daddy,' she answered as they put the base of the next one beside the first.

'Okay and what shall we name this one,' Kathryn asked already knowing the answer.

'Mommy,' the little girl answered as she patted the ball in front of her.

'I see a pattern here young lady. So, how many snow people are we going to make?'  Kathryn questioned as she eyed her niece.

'One for me, Drew, Granma, you and Uncle Kotay,' Amanda explained as she looked up at Kathryn.  'Our family, oh, and my new sister.'

Laughing Kathryn hugged her niece before getting back to work on their project.  Putting the finishing touches on the last snowman, the two ladies stood back to look at their work.  Kathryn was turning to look at the men and their fort when a snowball hit her.  Hunting for the thrower of the projectile, she found a smiling Chakotay.

'Is that how you want it, Mister?' she demanded, as she looked him over.

'What?' he asked as he brought his hand from behind his back to fire another snowball at her.  Ducking behind the statues Kathryn gathered some snow as she called to Amanda to join her.

'Okay, Amanda the enemy has fired the first salvo but with your help I think we can get him back,' her aunt said firmly.

Nodding her head the little girl set about making ammunition and handing it to Kathryn.  The war started with snowballs flying about and laughter drifting on the air.  Kathryn popped up to look at the location of the enemy.  David was peering over the wall to fire his next snowball with Andrew beside him to supply the snowballs.  Where was Chakotay, she wondered but not for long when she was hit from behind by a snowball.

Spinning around, she found her second in command standing a few feet away with an armload of snowballs.

'Kathryn, I think you've been outflanked,' he said with a dimpled smile.  'Do you surrender?'

'Never,' she defiantly said as she tried so scoop up some snow.

'Okay,' Chakotay responded as he started firing his arsenal.

Because of his surprise attack, Chakotay had her pinned to the ground but he hadn't counted on retaliation from the side as snowballs pelted him.  Looking over he found Amanda with a larger arsenal of ammunition.

Chakotay's break in firing snowballs gave Kathryn the chance she needed to push him down on the ground.

'So who should surrender now?' she asked triumphantly.  'Didn't you learn anything from our battles with the Borg and Hirogen?'

Flipping her under him Chakotay smiled down at her evilly.  'Yes, I learned a lot from you especially to expect the unexpected.  Once again, I ask do you surrender,' he said as he hovered over her. 

But his victory was short lived as a small body hit him and then another.

'We'll help you, Aunt Kath'n,' Andrew announced as he climbed on Chakotay's back with his sister.  'Don't hurt, Aunt Kat,' he cried out as he pummeled Chakotay's back.

Laughing Chakotay cried for mercy and the assault stopped.  Taking the momentary break, Chakotay reached up and grabbed Andrew then his sister laying them down on either side of Kathryn.

'Now, you two, I have captured you along with your Aunt,' he laughed as he tickled them.

Kathryn looked past Chakotay and smiled as she grabbed the children and pulled them to her side.  Chakotay realized too late what was about to happen when a pile of snow landed on his head worming its way down the collar of his jacket.  He heard the deep laughter of David behind him.  Jumping up he tried to stop the snow from getting too far into his clothes as Kathryn laughed at his antics along with the children.

'David, can you bring the children in?' Phoebe called as she watched Chakotay jumping about.  'All the children David our guests will be here soon.'

Kathryn pulled Chakotay along, 'come on let's go get dried off.'

The group came together in the living room, dry with rosy cheeks from the cold.

'I have hot chocolate for everyone,' Gretchen announced as Kathryn entered the room.

'Oh, thank you Mom that will hit the spot,' her daughter said, wrapping her hands around a mug as she sat beside Chakotay.  'Where's Phoebe?'

'Right here,' she called from the doorway.  'Someone wanted to join the festivities,' Phoebe explained as she moved to stop in front of Kathryn.  'Kathryn, I would like to introduce you to the newest member of the family,' she said as Kathryn placed her mug on the end table.  Laying the child in Kathryn's arms, Phoebe stepped back.

'Oh, Phoebe, she's beautiful,' her older sister whispered as she stroked the baby's chubby cheek.  'You know I haven't heard her name.'

'Kathryn, I would like to introduce Kathryn Anne,' Phoebe said with tears on the edge.

'You named her after me?' Kathryn said shocked.

'Yes and my sister for the second name,' David explained, as Phoebe was too choked up to continue.

'Thank you,' Kathryn whispered as she looked back down at the small bundle.

Chakotay watched Kathryn as she stared at the gurgling bundle.  Reaching out he stroked the baby's curly hair.

'Red hair,' he teased.  'She's going to be a handful,' he warned David.

'Don't I know it; I've heard stories of her aunt and seen her in action,' the other man commented.

'A handful is an understatement,' Chakotay commented as he was jabbed in the ribs.  'Ow!.'

'Don't be such a baby; you deserved it,' Kathryn reprimanded.

'A handful,' David agreed as he took the baby back when Gretchen mentioned their guests would be there soon.

Wiping her tears, Kathryn rose and after giving her sister a hug, they walked arm in arm to the kitchen to help with the preparations.

Company started arriving an hour later and the noise level rose to a dull roar.

'Chakotay,' Kathryn called as she walked a small woman up to him.  'Aunt Martha, I would like you to meet my First Officer, Chakotay.  Chakotay my Aunt Martha,' she said as he looked at another small version of Kathryn.

He smiled as he thought about the fact that the women in this family were quite similar in appearance.

'Very nice to meet you, ma'am,' he said as he shook her hand.

'Ma'am is so formal young man, just call me Aunt Martha,' she told him as she pulled him down to her level to give him a hug.

Kathryn hid her surprise at the instructions that Aunt Martha gave to Chakotay.  In all the years that Mark had known her, he'd never been invited to call her anything but Martha.

'I like him Katie he has a good heart,' Martha told her as she pulled him along to a chair near the fireplace where she talked to him until dinner was called.

'Martha bring him over here; he can sit with you and me,' Gretchen ordered as she sat at the head of the table.  'Kathryn why don't you sit at the head down there,' her mother directed as she sat down not missing her daughter's momentary disappointment about being separated from Chakotay.

'It's okay Sis, David and I will keep you company,' Phoebe encouraged as they walked to the other end of the table.

Everyone else took a place while the children sat at a smaller table off to the side.

'Kathryn have you met any interesting aliens,' Uncle Stanley asked as he grabbed a roll from the passing basket.

'Yes, some nice and some not so nice,' the Captain of Voyager answered.

'Could we hear some stories of the nice ones,' her cousin Sally asked.

Laughing, Kathryn thought about the different races they had encountered before settling on a few that she could tell them about.

'Well right off we met the Ocampa and a trader named Neelix.  Kes, an Ocampa, chose to travel with us because she wanted to explore beyond her planet.  Ocampans only live nine years but Kes made the most of those years by traveling with us seeing things her species would never experience.'

'Did she die?'  Phoebe asked in a whisper hearing the pain in Kathryn's voice.

'No, she left us to go on to another level of being.  It's a little hard to explain, as we didn't know what was happening to her and neither did she.' The oldest of the Janeway children explained as she wiped a stray tear.

'Kes was evolving beyond what most know about her race and if she stayed on Voyager it would have destroyed the ship,' Chakotay explained.  'She is missed.'

'Neelix is our resident chef and I use that term loosely,' Chakotay continued giving Kathryn time to get past the moment.  'He was also our self-appointed morale officer but after six years and finding a group of fellow Talaxians he also left us.'

The group around the dinner table became quiet for a bit, giving the command team time to mourn their losses.

'What about enemies?' asked Kathryn's young cousin.

Laughing Chakotay looked down the table at Kathryn.

'Yes, we have enemies but most of them can't be discussed over a meal, Riley,' she told him and smiled at the disappointed face.  'But after dinner we will talk.'

She watched her cousin for a few minutes smiling at him with pride. Her mother had told her that he had joined Starfleet because of her.

'So Riley are you enjoying the Academy?' Kathryn inquired as she took a bite of potatoes.

The young man in question sat up a little straighter in his chair.

'Yes, but some of the instructors are tough,' he said with a grimace.

'Chakotay was an instructor at the Academy,' Kathryn informed Riley.

The young man sitting beside Chakotay asked questions that he was more than happy to answer. 

Conversation died for a time as everyone enjoyed their food but then Kathryn saw Aunt Martha look at her with a mischievous smile.

'Gretchen, do you remember the time Edward gave me the Altairian liquor?' her aunt asked.

'Oh, yes,' Kathryn's mother chuckled.

'Kathryn was about two when we had the family dinner here at Christmas,' Martha explained to Chakotay.  'Edward gave me a drink and I sat it down on the coffee table in front of me as I didn't want to drink it at that point.  Kathryn toddled over picked up the small glass and, before anyone knew what was happening, threw it back.  She placed the glass back on the table and then climbed up on the couch beside me.  We were all still stunned by what she'd done but when she looked up at me and I guess the drink hit her.  Her little face screwed up in a grimace and her tiny body shook then she went quiet.

'She looked at me as if it was my fault she drank it,' Martha explained as the group roared with laughter.  'Gretchen brought her a glass of apple juice and she cautiously smelled it first before taking a sip.'

Chakotay laughed with the rest as Kathryn groaned.

'What about the time Kathryn decided to leave home,' Uncle David reminded everyone.  'I opened my front door to find a very serious five year old standing there with a bag in one hand and her bear in the other.  Kathryn informed me that her parents didn't have time for her anymore because of her sister.

'It seems that the young runaway had learned to count in groups of three and her mom and dad were too busy with Phoebe to pay attention.  Kathryn had gone upstairs and packed her favorite sweater and jeans in her backpack and grabbed Teddy and run next door,' Gretchen's older brother explained.

The table erupted in laughter as Kathryn hung her head.

'Are we finished embarrassing me yet,' Kathryn groused as she looked about the group.

'No, we could tell Chakotay about the time you decided to go blonde,' Phoebe threatened.

'You wouldn't,' Kathryn shouted.

'Of course I would, I'm that irritating little sister of yours,' she explained.

'Kathryn, you dyed your hair?' said an astounded First Officer.

'Yes,' she said as she started to turn back to her sister but was stopped by the man at the end of the table.

'Kathryn, your beautiful hair,' Chakotay said shocked.

'I used to get teased all the time,' Kathryn grumbled.  'But I hated the blonde hair even more.  Mom left me with it for a few days to teach me a lesson.'

'I wanted you to realize that there was nothing wrong with your natural colour and I thought that hideous colour would help,' her mother commented.  'She'd used some god-awful platinum blonde color that made her look like a ghost,' Gretchen explained to the man beside her.

Chakotay just shook his head as he looked down at an embarrassed Kathryn.

The children became excited about opening their gifts so David and Chakotay ushered them into the living room while Phoebe went off to feed the baby and the rest of the group helped to clear the table.

The dishes were washed, dried and put away by a group consisting of Kathryn, her Aunt Martha and cousin, Daniel.  Another group worked on putting the leftovers away while Gretchen put the bones from the turkey on to simmer to make her mouth-watering soup.

Another group laid out the desserts on the dining table along with plates, forks and cups for coffee or tea.

Forty minutes later, everything was clean and put away allowing the cleaning crew to join the others in the living room.

Looking about Kathryn found an empty spot beside Chakotay on the small couch.

'Having a good time?' she asked as she made herself comfortable.

'Yes, this is great,' he answered as he watched Amanda pleading with her father to open her presents.  'All your Christmas celebrations were like this?' he inquired.

'Pretty much sometimes they were bigger sometimes smaller but always loud and fun,' Kathryn laughed as Phoebe joined the group and David gave Amanda permission to open the present she had been holding.

Presents were handed out with laughter and cries of joy were heard as what lay beneath the wrapping was revealed.

'Here, Aunt Kat,' Andrew said as he handed her a present.

'For me,' she asked surprised.

Nodding his head, he handed a parcel to Chakotay.

Surprised the big man slowly opened the gift to find a hand knitted sweater in various shades of brown.

'The real one will be waiting for you when you get home,' a voice said from across the room.

Looking up he found Gretchen smiling at him.  Pulling out the sweater he found it was more than large enough allowing for room for another top to be worn under it if he wished.

'Thank you, Gretchen it's beautiful,' he said in awe of the work that was done.

Kathryn opened her present to find a smaller version of Chakotay's sweater but in shades of blue.

'Yours will be waiting for you also along with the rest of your gifts.  I have one for each birthday and Christmas that you've missed,' her mother explained as Kathryn wiped a few tears that had gone unnoticed at first.

'All of them,' Kathryn asked in a shaky voice.

'All,' her mother answered.  'I knew in my heart that I hadn't lost you and that somehow you would find your way back.  And I was right because you have contacted us and I'm sure one day you two will be here for Christmas.'

'Oh Mom,' Kathryn cried as she made her way across the room.  Sitting beside her mother, she wrapped her arms around Gretchen hugging her tight as she cried.

'Now enough of this, baby; you're suppose to be enjoying Christmas,' her mother admonished.  'Let's dry those tears and get some dessert,' her mother encouraged as she pulled her daughter from the couch.

'Kathryn, did you make your cherry cobbler?'  Aunt Martha asked as she followed the women into the room.

'Yes, Phoebe and Mom talked me into it,' Kathryn admitted as she looked at the dish.  'I just hope it tastes as good as everyone remembers.'

'I'm sure it will,' her mother assured.

Everyone wandered in grabbing plates and taking a small sample of each dish.

'Chakotay, here, I saved a piece of Kathryn's creation,' called Kathryn's mother as he moved into the room.

'Thanks Gretchen, I've been looking forward to this,' he said as he winked at her.  'I still can't believe she bakes.'

'I still have a few secrets from you,' the woman in question said as she stepped up to him.

'I've noticed,' he said with a smile.

'Aunt Kat?' Amanda interrupted their banter.

'Yes, little one,' she asked as she knelt in front of her.

'I found this under the tree,' she said as she held a small box out to Kathryn.

'Mom,' Kathryn questioned.

'Not from me,' Gretchen answered.

Kathryn looked down at the package and saw the tag on the gift written with a familiar hand.  Looking at it, she tried to remember where she had seen it before then it dawned on her and she looked up into Chakotay's face.

'Chakotay?' she whispered.

'Open it, Kathryn,' Gretchen encouraged.

Unwrapping the small package, she discovered a flat, black leather bound case.  Slowly opening the lid she found a fine gold chain with an oval stone attached to it.  The stone was a dark blue colour.

'Oh, Chakotay, it's beautiful but,' she started.

'Kathryn, I saw it on Kalan IV and I just knew it was meant for you,' he said as he took it from the case.  Walking behind her, he placed it around her neck making sure the clasp was closed firmly.  His fingers lingered on her neck for a moment before he removed them.

'Kathryn, it's beautiful,' Phoebe said as she looked at the gift.  'The way it glows it's like there is a fire in the stone.'

Looking down Kathryn found the stone glowing a brighter blue.  Turning she looked at Chakotay for an explanation.

'I was told that a person with a loving heart would bring out the true nature of the stone,' he told her but Gretchen thought he wasn't telling her daughter everything.

'It's beautiful, Kathryn,' her mother said.

'Yes, thank you, Chakotay; I love it,' Kathryn agreed as she gave him one of her crooked smiles.

They stared at each other for a few minutes until her mother interrupted them.

'Chakotay would you like another piece of cherry cobbler?' the older woman asked.

'Yes, please,' he said eagerly.

'A tea or coffee with that?' she asked as she handed him another plate of cobbler.

'Tea, please,' he answered as he flashed his dimples at her.

'Those must get you far,' she quipped as she poured him a tea.

'Not all the time but I'm persistent,' he countered as Gretchen laughed.

'I'll bet,' Kathryn's mother said as she passed him a tea.

Going back into the living room Chakotay sat beside Kathryn.

'This is very good Kathryn,' he complimented her as he took another bite of the cobbler.

'Thank you, I 'm amazed that I could remember how to make it,' Kathryn admitted as she sipped her coffee.

'Well, I'll just have to make sure you practice,' he teased as he held up a forkful for another bite.  'Have you had any?'

Shaking her head, she sipped her coffee.

'Here try some,' he encouraged as he held a forkful out to her.

Leaning toward the treat, Kathryn engulfed the morsel in her mouth.  Pulling back she slowly chewed with a smile on her lips.

'Hmm, not bad.' she said as she licked her lips.

'It's great,' Chakotay corrected her as he reached forward to swipe some cherry sauce from her lip.  Licking the sweet treat from his thumb, he answered.  'Very good.'

Kathryn was speechless as she watched him lick his thumb clean.  Jumping up Kathryn excused herself making a hasty retreat for the kitchen.

Phoebe had observed the exchange and smiled at her sister's retreating back.

Kathryn was gone for a few minutes before Phoebe saw her return.

'Chakotay, would you mind getting me a glass of water,' she asked innocently.

David started to rise from where he was sitting willing to interrupt his conversation but his wife waved him down.

'Of course, Phoebe,' he said as he rose from his chair.

Moving to the doorway, he met up with Kathryn returning from the kitchen.  Stopping just inside the doorway, he made to back up but a voice behind them stopped him.

Phoebe yelled for them to kiss as the command team looked up to see they had been maneuvered under the mistletoe.

'We should have her on our bridge,' Kathryn quipped as she looked up at Chakotay.

'Yes, I think she would have helped with the Vidiians and Kazon,' Chakotay countered.

'Kiss,' Phoebe yelled again.

Chakotay bent over and kissed Kathryn on the cheek.

'Not a kiss like you would give my mother, Commander; a proper kiss,' Phoebe pushed as Kathryn gave her the Janeway death glare.

Chakotay slipped his finger under Kathryn's chin directing her to look at him as his lips descended towards hers.  The kiss was gentle and soft. He nibbled on her lower lip causing Kathryn to moan and open her lips slightly.  Chakotay slipped his tongue inside her mouth, exploring and sweeping over her tongue and teeth.  As he retreated, Kathryn followed suit to explore every inch of his mouth. 

Chakotay's hands moved from her face with one cupping the back of her head while the other snaked around her waist to pull her close.

Finally breaking the kiss Kathryn stood taking gulps of air as she tried to remain standing on her wobbly legs.  Whistling and hooting for their performance, with calls to get a room coming from their audience.  Kathryn buried her face into his chest as he wrapped the other arm around her.

'Was that better?' Chakotay asked as Kathryn stiffened at his comment.

'Well, it definitely looked like you meant it,' Phoebe replied.

'I did,' he whispered as Kathryn looked up into his dark brown eyes.  'Every moment of it,' he told only her as he kissed her on the lips again.

'Can you two wait until everyone has left, after all, there are children in the room,' Phoebe teased them as Chakotay hugged her.

'Do you think everyone could leave?' Chakotay whispered in Kathryn's ear causing her to laugh.

'Unfortunately they are just getting started,' the small woman in his arms explained as she hugged him tighter.

'Okay, I'll try to behave, for now,' he pouted as he looked over her head.  'Do you still need that water, Phoebe?'

'After seeing that kiss I need to cool off so get me the water, Mister,' she ordered causing Chakotay to jump.

'Yes, ma'am,' he said sharply with a salute.  'Did she learn her bossiness from you?'  Chakotay teased as he kissed Kathryn on the forehead then moved before she could hit him.

Returning, he handed Phoebe her water then sat beside Kathryn slipping his arm around her shoulder.

'Kathryn would you like to hold Katie?' Phoebe asked from her spot on the other couch.

'Oh, yes,' she readily answered.

Phoebe moved to Kathryn and placed the baby in her arms.

'Hi, little one, I'm your Aunt Kathryn and for some reason your Mommy was mean enough to name you after me.  'Kathryn whispered as she brushed her cheek.

'She's going to be a strong and determined woman just like her aunt,' Chakotay whispered in her ear.

'I thought I was a stubborn handful,' she teased as she smiled at him.

'Ah but I love your stubborn trait,' he tossed back as he kissed her forehead.  Hugging her closer they made a beautiful picture.

Hours later Chakotay and David entered the living room after putting the children down to find the Janeway daughters curled on either side of their mother on the couch.

They were whispering secrets and asking questions of each other.

'So what did Harry do then,' Phoebe was asking as Gretchen laughed.

'He tried to hide behind any piece of furniture that was available as the girl's father chased him down,' Kathryn said between fits of laughter.

It wasn't funny at the time Voyager nearly ended up in a war.  Harry had been nice to the King's daughter and she had taken advantage of that to anger her father.  She wanted to marry the man she was in love with but her father wanted her to marry his choice.  Even though nothing had happened between the young girl and Harry, it didn't look that way when the King walked in.  He saw a half-naked Harry and started throwing knives at him.

Kathryn was able to straighten out the mess and help the girl to convince her father but it was five days of painful negotiations between the two with Harry finally being released from their dungeons.

'He kept apologizing to me and it was all I could do to keep a straight face,' Kathryn chuckled.  'Harry finally left my Ready Room and I fell on the floor laughing.  Tuvok found me there and his stern look had me laughing even harder.  I hadn't laughed like that in a long time.  He was so uncomfortable he asked Chakotay to check on me. It took me twenty minutes to stop long enough to tell him.  Tuvok found the two of us laughing on the floor and just turned and left, making us laughing even harder.'

She told them a few more stories that had them in stitches.

'Well, big sister, I'll have to say good night; the kids get up early,' Phoebe said as she got up from the couch.

Kathryn got up also stepping over to her sister to give her a hug.

'This was a great day,' the Captain of Voyager whispered.

'Yes it was and hopefully next year you will be home for real,' her sister said as they hugged tightly.

Kathryn watched her go up the stairs with David following a minute after.

Turning back, she found her mother standing behind her.

'I don't want this to end, Mom,' she said honestly.

'I know, baby, but it has too,' her mother admitted.  'I believe you will get home soon but you can't do it alone Kathryn let him in.'

'Mom, how can I enforce Starfleet rules and break them myself?' Kathryn asked.

'Those rules don't apply to a ship lost seventy-thousand light years away.  Give yourself a chance to love and be loved,' her mother encouraged.  'Now, I'm afraid I also need to go to bed, Goodnight baby,' she said as she hugged her oldest daughter.

'Goodnight, Mom,' Kathryn said tearfully.

Chakotay came to the living room entrance as Gretchen was leaving.

'Goodnight, Gretchen, it was very nice to meet you,' Chakotay said.

'And I enjoyed meeting you too,' she told him as she hugged him.  'And your first Christmas back, you'd better be here,' Gretchen ordered.

'Yes, ma'am,' he snapped out quickly.

They watched the elderly woman walk up the stairs and disappear.

'Thank you, Chakotay,' Kathryn said tearfully.

'You don't have to thank me,' he told her honestly.  'You do so much for us every day and ask for nothing.  We decided “ oh, okay, I decided “ that you should have a reward for everything you do and the crew agreed.  I'm just glad you enjoyed it,' he said as he aimed his dimpled smile at her.

'I did but I guess we have hogged the holo-suite for long enough,' she agreed as they stared at each other.  'Computer save file and end program,' the computer responded by reverting to the yellow grid room.

Exiting the room, they walked quietly to the turbolift.  Stepping off the lift, they headed toward their quarters.  Stopping in front of Kathryn's cabin, she looked up at him.

'Would you like to come in?' she asked.

'Yes,' he answered.

Entering her quarters, the doors closed as Kathryn headed for the replicator.

'Tea or coffee?' she asked but was stopped when a hand spun her around.

She started to say his name but was stopped when a pair of hungry lips pressed down onto hers.  Arms wrapped around her waist pulling her toward him in a tight embrace.

=<>=

Kathryn slowly woke in a warm cocoon of blankets, an arm around her waist and broad chest against her back.  Smiling she moved to get up but the arm tightened, holding her in place.

'Chakotay, it's time to get up,' she tried.

'Not yet,' he said sleepily.

'We're going to be missed, plus I need to use the washroom,' Kathryn explained as he finally let her go.

She sat up as the door opened and an impatient Gretchen Janeway stood in doorway.

'You two, get up now; there's an impatient group downstairs waiting to open presents,' her mother grumbled.

'I'm trying but someone isn't letting me up,' Kathryn confessed.

'She's not fighting that hard, Gretchen,' Chakotay snitched.

'I can imagine, considering she's pregnant and your daughter is downstairs.  Can you keep your hands off her long enough to join the family?' Kathryn's mother asked.  'You have been married for three years and have a two year old. I think you can come down and enjoy your first real Janeway Christmas with the family instead of...' she continued on her rant until Kathryn stopped her.

'Mom, it's okay, we're getting up. I didn't hear Lily or I would have been up sooner,' her daughter tried to placate the small woman.

'I was up here getting a sweater when I heard her wake, so I took her downstairs,' Gretchen admitted.

'Come on,' she encouraged.

'Let's make another Christmas memory,' Kathryn said as she rose to get dressed.

'Sounds like a plan,' he agreed as he finished dressing.

Hand in hand, they headed for the stairs and day of fun.

The End

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