The Christmas Morning Conspiracy – part 5

‘I don’t understand why it is so important for us to be back on board Voyager in time for a meal. The crew normally goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid Neelix’s cooking.’

Kathryn Janeway turned in the pilot’s seat of the shuttle to look at her companion.

‘You aren’t sulking are you Seven?’

‘I do not sulk.’

Privately Janeway had her doubts about that, but she let it go.

‘I enjoy Christmas breakfast – I’d like to make it back if I possibly can – that’s all.’

‘You did not attend last year.’

‘No, last year I decided not to go – another reason for attending this year. I don’t want to miss two in a row.’ Briefly Seven wore her, "I don’t understand this species" expression, but then it faded into curiosity.

‘It seems strange to me that you persist in celebrating something you do not believe in.’ Well, she had her there, as Chakotay knew only too well, her scientific nature did not sit well with any aspects of faith. Nevertheless she felt the need to attempt to rationalise her behaviour, Chakotay would say that was unnecessary, but she wasn’t Chakotay.

‘Hundreds of years ago Christmas was an important time to many of the peoples of Earth. As times changed, the meaning got lost – or at least submerged; commercialism, disaster, war – they all played their part and Christmas became less important – but it never quite went away. Some people continue to celebrate December 25th as the date of their saviour’s birth, when I was a child my parents and the community they were part of celebrated Christmas. Being part of that celebration now makes me feel closer to them, to those memories.’

‘And that’s why you…’ Whatever Seven had been about to say was lost when alert signals went off on all the consoles in front of them. Checking the board Janeway found herself wondering exactly which systems hadn’t failed.

‘Its some kind of gravometric pulse,’ she said, ‘we’ve still got communications, send a distress signal to Voyager and launch an emergency buoy. Then I want you to maintain life support, while I try to get propulsion back on line.’

There were a couple of minutes of silent but frantic activity, and then Seven announced, ‘the signal and the buoy have been sent, life support is still on line.’

The shuttle rocked and lights flickered as they were hit by an energy wave.

‘Seven get away from the console,’ Janeway said urgently, reading the power build up, she obeyed without question for once, but the explosion still sent her crashing back into the shuttle. ‘Seven!’ There was no reply. Janeway tried to reach an extinguisher to put out the black smoke and the small fire that was burning in the co-pilots seat. Another energy wave, stronger this time, knocking her over, she tried to pull herself up but before she was on her feet again she was flung forwards, crashing into the consoles, smashing her head on the control panel – and it went dark.

She surfaced slowly, all her senses feeling bleary – the pain in her head was excruciating and she was fighting off waves of nausea as well. Her memories returned dimly, the shuttle, the gravometric wave. She opened her eyes suddenly, desperate to contain the situation, forcing herself up in the same movement, only to realise that her body wasn’t quite obeying her and that the light was far too strong.

‘Easy,’ the voice was endearingly familiar, as were the hands that stopped her movement and then helped her ease into a sitting position.

‘Chakotay,’ she rasped, her throat burning as she tried to speak, her hands gripping his arm.

‘I’m right here, everything’s fine, Voyager’s fine, Seven had a bang on her head and a twisted ankle, she’s regenerating now, the shuttles pretty banged about but more or less in one piece. You on the other hand fractured your skull, hence the headache and you inhaled a lot of smoke, that’s why your throat feels so sore. Would you like some water?’

She nodded and then sipped gratefully at the glass he handed her, her throat was painful, but the liquid was cool and soothing.

‘I’ll tell the Doctor you’re awake.’

‘How long was I unconscious for?’ She didn’t want to let him go just yet, she felt better knowing he was close by.

‘A day, you’ve outdone yourself this time Kathryn, slept right through Christmas.’

‘I was trying to get back in time for breakfast.’ She was slowly feeling more alert now, noticing things, like the fact that they were still touching – well, she wasn’t going to move if he wasn’t.

‘Ah, you’re awake,’ she turned her head to see the Doctor approaching, ‘how are you feeling? Headache? Sore throat?’ She nodded to both questions and wasn’t at all surprised at the hiss of the hypospray he pressed to her neck. ‘This should help with the pain and the inflammation of your throat. You need a few more hours rest and then I’ll allow you back on duty. Commander Chakotay will be getting some sleep as well. He’s been hovering over you for half the night.’

Chakotay’s embarrassed expression made her think he hadn’t wanted her to know about that. ‘Thank you,’ she dismissed the Doctor with a look and then leaned back into Chakotay, ‘I’m glad you were here,’ she said quietly.

‘I just wanted to make sure you were all right. I’ll let you get some rest.’ He disentangled himself slowly from her and turned to go, adding from the doorway, ‘this is another of those belated Merry Christmas moments isn’t it?’

She laid back down on the biobed, feeling her headache start to fade as the medication worked. She and Chakotay were still dancing around each other – not quite able to make up their minds about the exact nature of their relationship. It didn’t help that she was becoming more disenchanted with the limits she had imposed on herself and because of that she was overcompensating – being far stricter about the distance she maintained even as she craved more contact.

She’d been finding it harder to remember exactly who Kathryn Janeway was – in the void she’d lost her way entirely for a while, only Chakotay had been able to prevent her from sacrificing herself, forcing her back into life as surely as if he had breathed oxygen into her lungs. She wasn’t sure if he realised how she was still struggling with her guilt, with hr relationship with her crew. Asking for help was unacceptable – she ought to be able to work through this herself. One thing was clear, she needed to sort out how she felt about Chakotay and what she was going to do about it.

As her eyes slid shut, the sedative she knew the Doctor had slipped her, taking effect, she realised she had only been trying to work out precisely that for the last five years - without any notable success. There was no reason to think she was going to be able to figure it out any time soon.

End of part 5