VGR J/C P/T
Categories: Ship, Het, Fluff, Angst
Characters: Janeway, Chakotay
Spoilers: Set in season seven, no specific spoilers.
A/N: Written for Sylvia's J/C Christmas Story Contest.
Disclaimer: Merry Christmas, Paramount.
"Mistletoe? Again? Tom, you hang that up every year, and every year he just kisses her cheek."
"Well, when I first fell for B'Elanna, and she would barely give me the time of day, I would have traded a week's rations just to kiss her cheek."
Harry smiled at his friend's romantic side and included mistletoe on the list of items to replicate for the annual holiday party.
It was their seventh Christmas aboard Voyager. After the third, Kathryn Janeway had made herself a promise. This was the year she had to follow through. There was a choice to be made, and this time she wasn't confident of her ability to make the right decision.
Both choices were problematic. She finished her coffee and headed for a bath, vowing to make a decision before she got dressed for the party in the mess hall.
Voyager's annual Christmas party was one of Chakotay's favorite events. As long as Tom Paris continued to volunteer for the decorating committee, it would retain that status. Fortunately, as first officer, Chakotay had the power to make sure that Tom Paris always volunteered for the decorating committee.
He fingered the ribbon on Kathryn's gift, wondering again if it was wise to give her such a personal gift. She'd love it, he knew that, but he wasn't sure she'd allow herself to accept it. Perhaps it was a gift best left for the Alpha Quadrant, but he was tired of waiting for the Alpha Quadrant. He had to wait until the Alpha Quadrant to hold her, to kiss her, to make love with her and start a life with her. Perhaps he had no choice but to accept all of that, but he didn't want to wait just to give her a simple gift.
As she dressed, Kathryn began to rethink her decision. She had changed her mind several times during the course of her bath. Each time she decided one way, a crippling pain shot through her heart and she wondered if it would even be possible to live with that choice. Yet each time she thought of the potential consequences of the other, fear gripped her, forcing the very breath from her body.
She reminded herself firmly that she was a Starfleet captain. She had faced the Borg. Fear, as they would be the first to tell her, was irrelevant. The Borg would consider this entire dilemma irrelevant. Her mind wandered off to explore a number of irrelevancies before she could force it back to the subject at hand.
The door chimed, sending a shock through her. Time was up. "Come."
Chakotay looked wonderful in casual clothes. The white shirt contrasted well with his golden skin tone, and the smile on his face took her breath away. She moved towards him as if drawn by gravity, and reached to touch him as she had so often in the past.
They exchanged smiles, but Kathryn's faded as the decision she had made earlier reasserted itself in her mind. The grief almost overwhelmed her. She couldn't tell him tonight; that would be cruel. But after the holidays, it had to happen. Seven years was too long.
The light in her eyes brought joy to his heart, but when her smile faded his happiness followed it. "Kathryn?"
"I'm sorry, I..." She bit her lip. "Maybe I shouldn't go, Chakotay."
His tongue was suddenly coated with the metallic tang of fear. "Are you feeling ill?"
"No," she said. "I just... I'm not feeling very festive. Everyone would have a better time without me.."
"Nonsense." He took her hand in his. "The crew would miss you, Kathryn. I would miss you."
She gave him a weak smile. "Okay."
When they arrived in the mess hall, Chakotay began his search for the mistletoe Tom always hung somewhere. He didn't want to miss that opportunity, but first he had a captain to cheer up.
"Shall I fetch you some egg nog?" he asked. "Or would you prefer coffee?"
"I think you know the answer to that." She smiled, but it didn't reach her eyes.
He squeezed her elbow softly before walking away to fetch her beverage. He tried to hope that a little coffee would lift her mood, but he knew better. Whatever had caused the joy to fade from her eyes couldn't be fixed with caffeine.
It had happened when she had touched his chest. Was she dissatisfied with the status of their relationship? Perhaps his gift was what she needed after all; it would remind her of how much he treasured her friendship. It would assure her that his unspoken promise for the future still held true.
Coffee in hand, he returned to her side. Was he being arrogant to think that her mood revolved around him? She smiled again when he handed her the drink, but that look of sadness remained in her eyes.
"Thank you, Commander." She took a sip of coffee.
Commander? He tried not to let it sting. She called him by his title off duty as often as she called him by name on duty. He was the one who was always careful in his choice of address. "Kathryn, please tell me what's wrong."
She studied his face, and didn't try to deny that something was amiss. "Not here. Not tonight. Let's just enjoy ourselves tonight."
"Then dance with me." He was suddenly desperate to hold her in his arms. It was beyond a wish, a desire. It was a need.
Had he imagined that her eyes were moist with unshed tears when she nodded? Protocol be damned. He pulled her close, thankful that she didn't protest. It was all he could do not to kiss her and whisper words of love into her hair.
At times like this he didn't care that she was a Starfleet captain, capable of facing down the Borg. She was the woman he loved, and he wanted to comfort her. But she wished to follow protocol, and he obeyed. It was his duty. More importantly, she needed him to agree with her decision, and her needs would always come first.
When she slid her arms around his neck and buried her face in his chest, he realized she was fighting tears. He held her tighter, and maneuvered so that the crew wouldn't notice.
"Kathryn, whatever it is, we'll face it together."
She looked up at him, and the pain in her eyes shot through his soul. "It isn't about the ship...this...it's personal."
"It doesn't matter, Kathryn. Whatever it is, we'll face it together." He stroked her cheek. "You never have to be alone."
Her tears spilled over at his words. "But I do."
"No," he said firmly. "Never, my love. You don't ever have to be alone." Too late he realized what endearment had slipped from his lips; he refused to take it back. "I love you, Kathryn, and I may have to wait thirty years to kiss you properly but I will not let protocol keep me from supporting the woman I love when she needs me."
"You shouldn't have to wait," she whispered. "I want you to find someone else, Chakotay."
"Kathryn, there is no someone else." He tipped her face upward, forcing her to meet his gaze again. "There never could be someone else. If you wait, then I wait. And in the meantime, let me be there for you as a friend."
She started laughing, tears still in her eyes. "I'm a fool, Chakotay."
He wiped her tears. "Why's that?"
"I thought that this decision was mine to make. It isn't." She grabbed him by the hand, dragging him towards the corner where the mistletoe hung. "You don't have to wait thirty years to kiss me properly."
He kissed her properly, pulling her close once again and kissing her thoroughly. The kiss lingered, ending only when the need for oxygen was severe. "Kathryn?"
"Want to tell me why I finally got to do that?"
She smiled, and this time it reached her eyes. "Because I love you."
He almost choked on the joy that bubbled up in his chest. "I love you too, Kathryn."
She smiled. "Several years ago, I made a promise to myself. I decided that on the seventh Christmas, if we were still out here, I would make a decision about us." Her hand came up to stroke his tattoo. "I just realized that the only reason I chose Christmas as the deadline was because there really is only one decision I could possibly make."
A grin split his face. "Merry Christmas, Kathryn."
She returned his smile. "Merry Christmas, Chakotay."
He kissed her properly once again.
Over in the corner, Tom Paris nudged Harry Kim. "See, it finally worked."
Star Trek™©, Star Trek: The Next Generation™©, Star Trek: Voyager™© and related properties exist as Registered Trademarks of Paramount Pictures. No copyright infringement intended. No profits made here. © Spiletta42, November 2002.