The Christmas Morning Conspiracy – part 4

She looked up from her report when her comm badge chirped, ‘Neelix to Captain Janeway.’

‘Yes Neelix, what do you need?’ It was symptomatic of her mood that she automatically assumed it was going to be bad news.

‘Its about Christmas breakfast.’

She frowned, wondering why he was bothering her with what was basically a triviality, when she had so much else to do.

‘I was wondering if you were planning to join us?’

‘I don’t think so, thank you anyway.’

‘Are you sure?’ He was difficult to say no to at the best of times, but now with Kes gone it was almost impossible. If she was upset by Kes’ absence it must be so much worse for him and yet he went on about his business cheerfully enough, seldom complaining. ‘There’s mince pies and coffee.’

A tempting offer, ‘even Commander Chakotay’s here.’ The good humour that had been growing inside her vanished abruptly. She didn’t want to spend anymore time around Chakotay than she needed to.

She was still reeling over their disagreement about the Borg. Inevitable, perhaps that they would see things differently and yet she hadn’t expected their argument to become so deeply personal. She was sure that the wounds they both bore would take time to heal.

‘I don’t think so Neelix. I’ll give it a miss for this year, but thank you for asking me.’

They’d have a far better time without her anyway – she rationalised. Using her status as Captain and her impression that it made it necessary for her to keep a certain distance into an excuse for avoiding an encounter with Chakotay.

She wondered briefly if Seven of Nine had ever celebrated Christmas before she was assimilated, whether it would be a good opportunity to help her get to know some more of the crew.

‘Janeway to Neelix.’

‘Yes Captain?’ She could tell from his voice that he hoped she’d changed her mind.

‘Have you invited Seven?’

‘No I haven’t.’ he sounded perplexed at the thought that he had forgotten to include their newest crew member.

‘I think it would be good for her to mix with some of the crew.’

‘I’ll contact her immediately.’

‘Thank you Neelix.’ She terminated the connection almost wishing she was going to be there to see him coaxing Seven into her first mince pie. Seven would probably wonder why she wasn’t here, a lot of people would wonder the same thing, perhaps even Chakotay. Well Chakotay might be relieved at not having to face her. Their interactions of late had been scrupulously polite and careful – almost as though they were afraid they’d return to the endless debate of who was right or wrong if they relaxed even a little.

It was irrelevant of course, Voyager had scraped through the encounter with the Borg, in fact the only casualty had been the Captain’s friendship with her First Officer.

Janeway couldn’t help thinking that it had been too good a friendship to simply abandon over a disagreement, however fundamental. The Borg destroyed too much without helping her and Chakotay tear themselves apart. With a burst of determination she decided to do something about it, to find some neutral ground to talk to Chakotay – to find a way to leave this all behind. Perhaps over a game of velocity or something similarly impersonal they could start to rediscover the dynamism that had characterised their professional relationship. She missed looking over her shoulder to find him standing beside her and knowing with absolute certainty that he was thinking the same about whatever was happening. As a Christmas present to herself – and him, she was planning to sort this out and put it behind them.

End of part 4