Disclaimer: Ship and crew belong to Paramount, just like always
'This story is archived at JCFicHaven without the author's permission'
Note: This story was inspited by my favourite Christmas carol, "O Holy Night" It will mean a lot more if you are familiar with it
By Mary S.
The captain sat disconsolately in her ready room, trying to keep her mind focused on the contents of the padd in her hand. She was not very successful. Despite her best efforts at concentration, her mind kept drifting away, far across the wide expanse of space to the Alpha Quadrant, Earth, Indiana, home.
Christmas Eve. What would they be doing, her family, on this, their favourite holiday. The wave of homesickness caught her off guard and tears spilled down her face before she could stop them. Damn! After seven years, she should be used to this, to not being there. Most of the time, she dealt with the feelings of nostalgia and loneliness easily, but Christmas was always the hardest. Each year, she tried every trick she knew to hold back the despair. Some years, she was more successful than others.
Her door chimed. Oh blast! She wiped her cheeks hurriedly, trying to hide the tearstains. “Come.”
Chakotay ambled in, a smile on his face, which disappeared as he took in her expression.
“Kathryn, what is it? What’s the matter?” He was most concerned; she very rarely cried. He took her hands, lifting them so he could hold them and stroke her cheeks.
She gave him a ghost of a smile. “It’s nothing. I’m….” she straightened her shoulders, “I’m fine.” She went to pull away from him, but he held on to her.
“No, you’re not,” he said flatly. “Now, out with it.”
She sighed, her whole body drooping. “Do you know what day this is?”
“Uh, no. Should I?”
“I guess not. You don’t celebrate Christmas, do you?”
“No. Is that today?”
“Christmas Eve. Today is Christmas Eve.” She did pull free then, and turned away to look out the viewport. “I can’t help wondering what they’re doing right now, my family,” she added.
“Is it a holiday for you?”
“The biggest. My parents always had a Christmas tree, decorations, presents, lots of visiting with friends and family. It was a very special time. I miss that.” Her voice wavered. He moved to stand close behind her, resting his hands on her shoulders.
“Somehow, I wouldn’t have expected that from you, the dedicated scientist.”
“I know. I guess it is contradictory.” She smiled sadly, then shook her head to clear it. “Don’t mind me. I’m just a little more ‘down’ than usual this year. I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever spend Christmas at home again.”
“Kathryn, of course you will.” He turned her to face him, tilting her head with a finger under her chin. “Come on now. Where’s my intrepid captain? Mmm?” He gave her the smile he knew she liked, then bent and kissed her gently. “You’ve been cooped up in here too long. Let’s go for dinner.”
“Is it that late already?”
“Yes, it is. That’s why I came to find you. Why don’t you wash your face first, then we can go.”
He got a real smile this time, as she hugged him quickly. “I’ll be just a minute.”
The pair exited her ready room to find shift change already completed. “We better hurry,” said Janeway. “The mess hall will be getting crowded.”
“Neelix will find a place for us,” Chakotay replied comfortably. “He always does.”
In fact, when they arrived on deck two, the mess hall seemed even busier than usual. As they took their place in line, bits of overheard conversation informed them that tryouts for the next talent show would be held tonight. A lot of the off duty crew were staying to watch even after they had finished their meals. However, as Chakotay had predicted, a corner table had been kept for the command team.
“Captain! Commander! I’m glad you finally got here! It’s so crowded tonight I’ve had trouble keeping a table free!” Neelix was in his element, bustling to and fro, making sure everyone who needed a meal got one, and at the same time, sorting out the ‘talent’.
Janeway and Chakotay settled themselves and began to eat, listening to the good-natured banter from across the room. Most of it seemed to be centred on Tal Celes, of all people. The captain was surprised – she had thought Tal far too self-conscious to want to participate in talent night. Perhaps she was coming out of her shell. Good for her.
She did seem to need a lot of coaxing, though, mostly from Billy Telfer. Quite the pair, Janeway smiled to herself. Chakotay saw her relaxed expression and breathed a sigh of relief. Nothing like a little food and company to bring a person out of the doldrums.
“What are you smiling at?” he asked.
“Over there. Tal Celes and Billy Telfer. I think he’s trying to talk her into participating in talent night.”
“Good for him, if he can do it,” commented Chakotay. He turned to watch just as Tal jumped to her feet, starting to the door. But Billy caught her hand and refused to let go, amid more laughter. They could hear her protest.
“Billy! Really, I’m no good!”
“That’s not true! You have a wonderful voice! Come on, Celes. Do you know what today is?”
“Christmas Eve. And if I were home, I’d be helping wrap presents for my sisters, and decorating a big fir tree, and….all that stuff. Call this a Christmas present. For me. Please?!”
She looked down at him, his eyes pleading, and relented. “Well, okay. But what should I sing?”
“Did you ever learn any Christmas carols while you were at the Academy?”
“Yes,” she replied slowly. “I don’t remember most of them, but there was one. I always liked it.”
She turned slightly to gaze out the viewport, although she didn’t let go of his hand. She paused, took a deep breath, and began to sing in a clear soprano voice.
“O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth”
Voices died away as heads turned towards her, conversations stopped in mid-phrase. Chakotay quietly hailed the bridge, ordering a shipwide comm. channel be opened from the mess hall.
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and soul felt its worth”
All over the ship, from the bridge to the lowest deck, hands stilled, putting down whatever task they had been working on. Feet slowed as bodies came to a halt so that they might better hear.
“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn”
The voice strengthened and shivers ran down every spine.
“Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born
O night divine!
O night, O night divine!”
The voice, at full power now, soared to the high note, then sailed down the scale effortlessly, touching the final notes lightly before gradually fading away.
The entire ship was still, spellbound by the voice’s beauty and grace. And they erupted in shouts and applause. “Bravo! Bravo!”
For a moment Tal looked somewhat taken aback, then she smiled in thanks as everyone crowded around her, exclaiming that no one had known how wonderfully she could sing. Billy’s face threatened to split in two, his smile was so wide.
Chakotay, standing, turned to look at the captain, still seated. One hand was at her mouth, clenched in a fist, the other clutched the table as she trembled. He bent down to her, suddenly concerned.
She looked up through eyes filled with tears. Her cheeks were wet; she was obviously trying valiantly to rein in her emotions.
“Oh, Kathryn!” He reached down to raise her to her feet, putting his arms tightly around her and kissing her head. “Ssh, sweetheart. Ssh, now.”
She lifted her face to his. “My god, Chakotay! I….that went right through me!” He brought one hand up to wipe her face.
“Go and tell her.”
“What you just said. Go and tell her.”
She nodded and turned to walk towards the throng on the other side of the mess hall. As if by magic, the crowd parted to let her through, more than one crewman gasping in surprise at the captain’s tearstained face. She reached Tal and held out her hands.
“Celes, I can’t ever thank you enough for that. I was feeling quite miserable tonight, spending another Christmas out here, but you changed that. You brought Christmas to me, to all of us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
On impulse, she reached forward and hugged her quickly. Tal had a smile now as big as Billy’s.
“I’m glad I could do something for you,” she replied softly.
Neelix came trotting forward then. “That was wonderful, Celes. Will you sing some more? I’m sure we would all like to hear you.”
But she smiled shyly and said everyone would have to help because she didn’t remember any more carols. Billy pulled her down beside him, hugging her. Neelix called everyone to gather round – a party was underway.
Hours later, as the captain and commander strolled down the corridor to their quarters, he asked if she was feeling better now.
“Oh yes,” she answered. “ In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever spent a happier Christmas.”
“Maybe you were so busy remembering your family on Earth, you forgot about your family here.”
She grinned. “You know, you could be right.”
EMAIL RETURN TO MARY'S INDEX