December 4th

By Diane

Disclaimer: Star Trek Voyager is a registered trademark of Paramount Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended.

What could have happened if Christmas had fallen during the episode 'Basics'?



Finally, some good news, Kathryn thought, as she made her way to where Ensign Wildman was sitting, cradling her baby in her arms. Some food, no matter how little or how terrible it tasted, was sure to help boost the crew's morale.

And the morale of everyone had continued to nosedive since the Kazon had dropped almost the entire crew of Voyager on this God forsaken planet.

"How's she doing, Samantha?" Kathryn asked, bending down to see the baby in the ensign's arms.

"I don't know, Captain. She seems tired, listless."

Kathryn could hear the concern in the woman's voice, and quickly tried to reassure her.

"Maybe she's just adjusting to the environment. After all, she was born in space. Make sure you stay close to the fire... as soon as we have one," she added, hoping her crew wouldn't have to go too much longer without any heat.

She stood, placed a reassuring hand on Samantha's shoulder, and then turned to see how Chakotay was faring.

As soon as she saw him, she knew he was having the same bad luck as all the others. She knelt across from him, and wasn't surprised when he threw the sticks aside in anger.

"Trapped on a barren planet and you're stuck with the only Indian in the universe who can't start a fire by rubbing two sticks together. I was never good at this as a child and I'm still not good at it."

The frustration in his voice was evident.

"Don't be so hard on yourself," she began. "None of the others have had any success with it either. Must be the wood." She turned around to quickly check on them, just in case, and listened as Chakotay continued.

"We need kindling of some sort."

When she turned back to him, she stopped short at the expression on his face.

"What?" she asked warily.

"Something my father once told me about starting a fire."


~~~


Kathryn wandered around the last few groups settled near the edge of the camp, and felt relief flood through her again at the sight of the blazing fires. The loss of a few strands of her hair for use as kindling had been a small price to pay to see the relief on everyone's face when they realised they'd soon be able to warm up.

She was still surprised at how drastically the temperature had dropped since the sun had set, and had berated herself several times for assuming anything about this planet. It was a mistake she would not make again.

"Everyone appears to be settled, Captain," Chakotay informed her, as he fell into step alongside her. "Neelix was able to provide everyone with a good meal and was even able to put a little aside for the morning."

"Good."

Kathryn continued to walk, watching as the crew finished off their meals and began to huddle together for that little extra warmth. She was glad to see they were taking her advice.

She stopped when they came to the overhang, the entrance to their camp, and stood and stared at the view before her.

"Not how I'd intended for us to spend our second Christmas in the Delta Quadrant," she murmured quietly.

There were a few moments silence before she heard, "Oh, what would you rather be doing?"

Kathryn turned and stared at him, and then couldn't help but smile.

"Thank you, I needed that." She shook her head. She could always count on him to help her focus on the present, to stop her wallowing in pity when those rare occasions presented themselves.

"Well?"

"Well what?" Kathryn asked, puzzled.

"What would you rather be doing?"

She watched him for a few long moments, only to realise he was being completely serious. Chakotay explained.

"Neelix has the crew planning what we'll be doing when we get back to Voyager. Ensign Walker already has a three course meal planned, in detail." He chuckled. "I guess it's Neelix's way of keeping morale up."

Kathryn smiled again. Trust Neelix to try and make the best of a bad situation.

She turned to look across the near barren landscape once more, and considered his question.

"Well, I'd rather be wrapping the few presents I have lying about," she began, looking at him out the corner of her eye. She had very much been looking forward to giving him his present, and sincerely hoped she would still have the opportunity.

"On Christmas Eve?" Chakotay interrupted, amazed. "I thought you would have had that done long ago."

"Sometimes I like to wait until nearer Christmas day." She stopped and thought a little more. "I'd rather be listening to some Christmas music...I always have it playing when I'm wrapping presents."

Kathryn leaned absently against the rock, so engrossed in her thoughts that she didn't feel the cold seep through her uniform.

"What else would you do, if you were on Earth?" Chakotay prompted, pleased to see her forgetting her worries for just a few minutes.

"If I were on Earth?" she repeated, still so lost in thought that she didn't see Chakotay move behind her. "I'd probably be listening to the Carol singers. My Mom loved to hear them singing on Christmas Eve, it's something we always did together. It had become quite a tradition."

"I love Christmas," she added, and gradually came out of her daze. Only then did she become aware of the warm arms wrapped around her and the hands gently rubbing up and down her arms.

"You musn't allow yourself to get too cold," Chakotay said quickly and quietly, before she could move away, and continued to bring some much-needed warmth back into her body.

Just as memories of another cold night on a now distant planet assailed her, urgent cries from the camp grabbed her attention. She and Chakotay raced back, and arrived just in time to see Neelix and the crew he'd been sharing a fire with, come to a stop beside Tuvok.

"What's wrong, Neelix? What's happened?" Kathryn ordered, her thoughts of Christmas now long forgotten.

"It's Kes," Neelix cried. "She's gone."


The End


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