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Janeway's Christmas Carol

Deborah47 — 25 Dec 1999

Chapter 1

James T Kirk was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt about that. The Listener killed him, and Picard buried him on Veredian 3. Old Kirk was as dead as a doornail.

All other Starship Captains of his time, and those who came after his time KNEW he was dead, but they revered him anyway. And they mourned for his widow... The Enterprise.

A lusty ribald man, a leader to his crew, and a hero to his fleet. What Captain didn't lust for the adulation placed upon the shoulders of this man? What green ensign never whispered the secret talsiman, "What would Jim Kirk do" to ward of his fears on that first dangerous away Mission?

The mention of Captains, brings me back to Kathryn Janeway. What a hard core, by the book unless the book has to be rewitten, Captain. She ate, drank, slept "Voyager". Her love of her ship & crew rivals the greatest Captains in all of Star Fleet. Why, she's not only threatened to blow herself and/or the ship up, she'd done it, for the good of her crew!

She was dedicated, she was committed, she was blind to everything that was not "Voyager's" best interest.

In other words, she was burning out, and just didn't know it.

One day, the Doc appeared in her ready room to express his concerns over a "crewmember' that was exhibiting signs of increasing irritability.

KJ quickly reassured him that she would speak to BLT before things got out of hand again.

"It's not BLT" replied the Doc,"It's you. You need some rest, a diversion from the slings and arrows that come daily."He raised one eyebrow to express his intensity, "When was the last time you were on the Holodeck?"

She looked up at him from her chair,"I played the holoprogram with Dr Chaotica!"

"That was 12 months ago AND it was work. When did you last play it for fun?!"

KJ pursed her lips and muttered... "I've given up the holodeck entertainments for the holoworkout programs. The last few times ... I was Playing Velocity with 7!" She stated this triumphantly!

The EMH shook his head. "Your last game was 18 months ago, try again."

Janeway let her shoulders rise and fall in the classic gesture of capitulation.

"So Doc, Your prescription?"

"Fun." said the Doc,"No work, no worry, no saving the galaxy for at least 3 hours. Voy will live without you for that long, and if they can't, well they d@mn well better learn to. Cause they won't have a KJ in another 3 months the way you're running yourself into the ground."

KJ shook her head, "Three hrs?! Impossible, do you have any idea how hard it is to book the holodeck for an impromptu game. And do it for 3 HRS! That'd have to be done AT LEAST 3 wks in advance!"

"Actually, it takes only 1 wk, if you book for an hr 1 day under your name, and then 2 other hrs on succeeding days are booked under mine and Tuvok's name." The EMH smiled slyly.

KJ knew he'd won. "When?" she sighed.

"Tomorrow 6 am", came the answer. "I've cleared it with Commanders Chak and Tuvok. Tuvok said it was the only logical thing for you to do, and Chak suggested if you refused my argument, well, he and BLT were going to pick you up and toss you into the holodeck."

KJ's eyebrows arched at the implied challenge.

"Mind you," added the Doc, "Chak seemed to relish the idea more that BLT. But then again, BLT's probably worried you'll demote her and put 7 in charge in Engineering."

KJ smiled. "Now THAT's a thought!"

KJ went about her duties for the rest of the day. She saved an intelligent race called "The Snail Darters" from an evil Power in the quadrant, and had to diplomatically refuse an offer of Marriage from the Darters' Crown Prince, due to "biological incompatbility". (At supper that night, she shared with Chak the REAL reason she refused the Prince. She didn't want any amphibian baby jokes to haunt her, esp after she & Tom had their , well you know)

That night, KJ couldn't sleep.

So, what else is new?

She went through her library, but nothing sparked her interest. Finally, an entry in the Voy database caught her eye.

"The Mission logs of Captain James T Kirk," and she sighed. "It's been a long time since I read these, why not?"

Halfway through the first log, the Captain fell asleep on her couch.

She awoke to the sounds of clanking chains, "What the" she exclaimed, jumping up from the couch.

There, in the middle of her room, stood a being like none she'd ever seen. He was humanoid, but translucent. She could see front and back, the chains that encircled him.

What Godawful chains they were. His muscles continually bulged as he endeavoured to move about the cabin. Why did they need to be so thick? she wondered.

To her shock, the being answered her musing.

Taking one chain that was trailing behind him, he shook it briskly. Her eyes followed the shaking chain, and realized that it went out the view port and was attached to a translucent ship.

She did a double take at the ship, then turned to look the being in the face.

"You you you are" She choked on the words.

James T Kirk smiled rackishly. "I am you, if you don't heed my words, tonight."

Kirk grasped the chain that held him to the Enterprise, and a chill went over KJ's spine.

Chapter 2: The Ghost

Janeway couldn't take her eyes off the man, the LEGEND that was, even in this decayed state, Captain James T. Kirk.

Kirk noticed the effect he had, and smiled rakishly again (spelled properly ? this time).

"You have something to ask me?" he prompted his younger counterpart.

KJ simply pointed to the chains, and asked their purpose.

Kirk massaged the chain with wanton familiarity. "I wear the chain I forged in life." picking one section high over his head, he swore, "I made it link by link, and meter by meter. I welded it around myself of my own free will, and of my own free will, I wore it." He leered at KJ and asked, "Does it's pattern seem, familiar, somehow?"

Memories began to come to KJ, and she trembled at their mere recollection.

Kirk swished around the room, letting the noise of the chains shake her to her bones. "Do you wonder at the weight and length of the coil that you yourself bear?" He dropped one link into her hands, and the weight crashed to the deck."It was full as heavy, and long as this 15 months ago, and you have laboured on it daily since then."

Kirk leaned into KJ's personal space, and the stench nearly made her retch.

"It is a PONDEROUS chain." he revealed with awe in his voice.

Janeway KNEW this was bad news. Heh! She saw the Star Fleet officers' version of "A Christmas Carol" at the StarFleet Academy reunion of 4574. (Heck, people were probably STILL singing the praises of Jean Luc's portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge. The glory hound!)

Kirk took note of her meditation. "Hear ME, not some pretender to the Enterprise! I am here tonight to warn you, that you have yet A chance and A hope of escaping my fate, Kathryn Janeway of the USS Voyager."

Janeway glanced up with hope in her eyes.

Kirk's voice solemnly pronounced, "You will be haunted... by Three Spirits..."

KJ interrupted him. "Three spirits? Come ON, Kirk, I don't have time for 3 spirits. You MUST remember how it is, being Captain? We're right in the middle of a warp core refit, Seven has entered puberty and is trying to assimlate the male half of the ship ( only the male half, thank god, she added to herself), my tactical officer is going through a midlife crisis and wants to quit his post as Chief of security and become the ship's pastry cook, the Doc is making noises that I'm mentally unbalanced..."

"ENOUGH" growled Kirk, in a voice that could be heard by the unhappy souls he sent to Gre'thor. "ONE chance! One hope! THREE spirits!"

His voice then softened, "Kathryn," he added in that seductive voice that had captured a generation of women, "Without their visits, you can not hope to shun the flight path I must fly."

KJ squared her shoulders and nodded, as if to say, "Bring them on, Captain."

"Expect the first Tomorrow, when the bell tolls one." the tremble in his voice slowly increased, "Expect the next, on the following day, when the bell tolls two." His voice now revealed the fear that still possessed him,"And the last... expect on the third day... when the bell tolls three."

Janeway was about to ask how she'd hear ANYthing "tolling", since all of Voyager's chronometers were digital, but she didn't want to upset the Ghost any more than she already had.

As she looked once more at the rippling, though decaying muscles that carried that massive weight of chain, she saw the "slack" of the chain was being taken up.

Looking into Kirk's eyes, she saw regret, and contrition, "Hear me, Kathryn of Voyager, my time is nearly gone."

She watched as the chains pulled him closer and closer to the viewport, "Oh, captive, bound and doubled ironed," he cried, "Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused! Yet, such was I! Oh! And, such are you!"

With that last warning, was Kirk pulled through the viewport and back to the Enterprise. Janeway rushed to the window, and recognized the tell tale colour shift (spelled for the Brits) that indicates a starship, going into warp.

D@mn, she thought to herself, why does my neck hurt so much?

Before she could answer, however, she awoke on the couch in her quarters. The padd containing the logs of James T Kirk was sticking into her neck, as she lay crumpled upon the cushions.

"WOW!" she exclaimed aloud, "That was some dream!" She chuckled at her own imagination, then conceded, "Maybe the Doc is right. Maybe I do need a little fun, once in a while..."

With that thought, she took a quick sonic shower, and pulled on the pink sleeping gown that she'd loved so much those first few years in the DQ. Mark had bought it, and it made him seem closer, somehow. Funny, she hadn't worn it for...3...3 1/2 years... wonder why?

With that thought, she climbed into bed and fell immediately asleep.

Chapter 3

The next day KJ was up, partially dressed, coiffed and breakfasted by 5:45. She wasn't taking any chance at losing even one minute of her holovacation to tardiness.

The only thing she had to do now, was pick a program and make her costume. Queen Arachnia was a "HOOT"!, but once in that costume was definately enough for KJ. "How does Seven stand that tight of a girdle day in and day out?" She wondered.

Those old Gothic romances certainly paled after B'Elanna lent KJ her library of Klingon Romance novels. "Hmmmm," I wonder if BLT has programmed any of those into the holodeck..." purred Janeway.

"No.." she decided, "I could never walk from my quarters to the holodeck in that costume!" She looked up,"Unless I got Tuvok to do a site to site transport ... nahhh, Too much trouble" She sighed and went back to studying Voy's database."Stop trying so hard, kiddo, let inspiration strike."

Her eyes then lighted upon a title that sounded VERY promising to this Indiana girl. "The Adventure of Indiana Jones" She glanced through the various synopses about the program, she thought,"This is perfect! Adventure, romance, humor, booby traps... now just need to reprogram for a female lead ...There!" She heard the replicator beam in her togs for the part. Khaki slacks, a worn leather jacket and equally worn leather pouch, a holster with a 6 shooter, ammo, and a bullwhip.

KJ picked up the whip and swung it over her head before pullng it sharply down at her side. It CRACKED Quite satisfactorily.

"Oh, this is perfect!"

She found herself sauntering to the holodeck with a renewed purpose, FUN! As she turned the last corner, however, she saw a Lt. engrossed in the holodeck controls outside her destination.

"Lt, is there a problem" she asked quietly.

Unfortunately, the Lt. hadn't heard her approach, and yelped at her interruption. "Shoot! don't scare me like that!" he yelled as he tuned to KJ. It had been a few months since she'd seen anyone go as pale as quickly as he did, when he realized who he yelled at. ""oh my God... Captain! I didn't realize it was YOU!"

KJ smiled.

Lt Chapman's "nerves of steel" were legendary on board Voy. He was known to startle as much as Miss Goodheart in Tom's Cap Proton novel. She tried to sound stern, but a laugh nearly betrayed her,"That's ok, Lt. This time! Now what's the problem?"

He stepped aside to show her the circuitry, "Actually, Captain, I think I've just about solved it." Some guys playing on the night shift, were complaining of other characters winking in from other holoprograms." He adjusted the holobuffers as he spoke, It was certainly easier to look at the duotronic circuitry than to look at the figure Janeway cut in her "leathers" .

"Gotcha!" he proclaimed triumphantly, "It's ready to go sir, when you are..." his smile swiftly turned into a shock of embarrassment, "Errr, I mean Ma'am, ahhh, Captain!"

KJ again stifled a laugh. She'd already noticed the blush that had engulfed the Lt as she'd leaned against him to peer into the holocontrols. Best to reassure him now, rather than let him twist in the wind. "Don't worry, Lt. any of those terms will do." Picking up her leather pouch, she reached around his shoulder to input her holoprogram, "Thank-you for all you've done. From now on, you'll be known on Voyager as "my hero" for fixing the holodeck and saving the Captain's sanity."

As the doors swished open, she looked over her shoulder to add, "If anyone's looking for me, tell them to try Egypt."

Chapman was packing his tools while the doors swished close.

Then he simply disappeared.

Kj's senses tingled with excitement. It was nighttime, and the bustle at the ancient market, on the outskirts of Cairo denied the lateness of the hour. Her gaze was caught by 2 foreign soldiers as they fingered the rugs for sale.

"Nazis" thought KJ, as she recalled this program was set in 1936. WWII would occur soon enough.

The first task of this program was to procure supplies and guides for her journey to the Valley of the Kings. But first, she took a moment to breathe in deeply the sounds and smells of (to her) "ancient" Egypt. Suddenly, her eyes popped open.

"I smell coffee!"

Slipping through the crowd, she made a beeline for the nearest coffee shop. The only available table was outside, tucked next to the alley. She settled there, with her hands caressing the warm cup, and took a long deep drink.

"Ahhhhh, I should have come Here sooner." she sighed.

"Actually, I'd say you are here at just the right time," came the incredibly suave reply.

Janeway glanced nonchalantly to her right, and let her gaze slowly sweep, appreciatively, over the stranger.

"And What time would that be, friend?" she cooed with that throaty voice she'd cultivated over the years.

The stranger was tall, dark, and even in the low lamplight, ruggedly hansome. He straddled the chair next to her, and reached into his vest to pull out a pocket watch. KJ watched with interest as he popped open the cover to check the time. He then turned it toward her.

"See?" he asked mysteriously, "Right on time."

KJ gifted him with a "meaningful" look, and turned to look at the watch.

It read, One oclock, and then she heard the clock tower at the city center begin to toll...


With that warning, a wind blew through the market, bringing with it a sandstorm of a ferocity Janeway had never dreamed possible. It blew carts and animals, and people in front of it's path. It sandblasted every corner of the market, except, that is, where Janeway was sitting. It was as if both she and her companion were in the eye of the storm. But such things do not exist in Sandstorms.

Looking intently at "the Stranger", a suspicion began to creep from her subconscious to her consciousness.

"The Ghost of Christmas Past, I presume?" she asked in an even voice, as she reached across the table and lifted his hat brim.

She gasped when the lamp lit his face.

"Hello, Kath," Was his only reply.

"Hello, Mark."

Chapter 4: The Spirit of Christmas Past

Kathryn fell back into her seat with a very unladylike "THUD!" Mark leaned over, picked up her coffee and handed it to her. She drank from it gratefully. She never even noticed, that the coffee cup refilled itself after her draught.

"Am I supposed to believe that you are Mark Johnson?" she asked increduously.

"I am no Ghost, Kath, if that's what you are asking." A coffee cup materalized in his hands, and he tentatively sipped at the hot dark suspension. "Hmmm... interestng," he murmured, " I see your attraction."

KJ had recovered by now, and put herself on a fact finding mission.

"If not a ghost.. then who are you?"

Mark's eyes twinkled in that way that made her knees weak. "I am a spirit, Kath, I have never walked the Earth as a "man". He stopped to look himself over, "This form was chosen as it has meaning to you." He took another drink from his cup, and sighed, "Ahhh... I have the knowledge and memories you attribute to this form, but even still, do not be lead astray. I am NOT he."

KJ relaxed a little. At least this wasn't going to be another session with that afterlife alien that posed as dear old Dad.

The storm began to abate, and as the sand receded, she realized she wasn't in Egypt, anymore.

It was still Dark, but it was cool and wet. The winds were driving rain not sand. She and the spirit still sat at their cafe table, in a "no wind" zone, but KJ's memory tugged at her. She stood up, and walked out into the storm towards a large tree.

"Recognize anything?" called the spirit after her.

The closer she came, the more certain she was of the dark mass at it's base. It was a young girl, aged 12, laying curled in a ball, with her head pillowed on a gym bag. She was shaking in the cold.

"Yes." she answered, as she squatted next to the child, "Me."

The spirit joined her in the wind, "Why are you here?"

KJ shook her head, and tried to block the rain, with no success. "I'd lost a tennis match. I was so upset, that I decided I would walk the 12 miles home by myself." She shrugged, "I wanted to show Dad that he could be proud of me, even if I was a "loser", but.." she stood up ro face Th Spirit, " all I did was get lost in the storm"

A hover car came into view, and they could hear a man calling for his daughter. The child stirred and shouted back. KJ stood aside, as her father rushed to enfold his missing child in his arms. She could hear the fear in his voice, and hear the child's request for approval,"Daddy, I solved it! I figured out the Theorum!"

"You loved him very much."

"Yes." A tear touched her voice.

"And he loved you?"

"Yes... but it wasn't until years later that I was sure he did." KJ took a deep, cleansing breath, "I was in competition for his affection all my life."

"With your sister?" probed the Spirit.

"No," KJ shook her head as the car pulled away. "With his mistress."

The Spirit arched an eyebrow at this comment.

She shrugged, but then added, "Star Fleet."

The scene about them changed again. They were standing in the middle of a crowded San Fransico coffee house. The music was loud, the clothing outrageous, and the haircuts all Star Fleet regulation.

"Oh..My.. God!" whispered KJ. "It's our old Academy hangout."

She glanced about, and began pointing out old friends, and found herself laughing at the frenetic confusion whirling around them. "It was ALWAYS like this on a weekend."

"Do you recall this night?" he asked, as he lead her to a side table with 4 young cadets.

KJ stopped abruptly, as she saw her 19 year old self. A handsome young man was busily trying to engage her in conversation, when suddenly she bolted upright, apologized to him with a terse "I'm sorry, Will." and dashed out of the building.

"Did he say something.. untoward?" asked the Spirit.

KJ stood aside, watching the young Will Riker shrug his shoulders & go back to visiting with his friends.

"No, he didn't."and she smiled ruefully," I just couldn't Afford to let myself fall in love and distract me from my goal."

"What goal?"

"To be the "best" Star Fleet ever saw." she stated simply.


KJ snapped around to face this faux Mark. "You can STOP now, Spirit. I've already dragged myself through the mud over my father worship. "Yes" I wanted to be "Best" so he'd notice me!" She looked back at old friends,"So he'd love me."

Mark reached out to touch her shoulder, "You thought, by sharing his obsession, this "Star Fleet", that would make you closer."

KJ nodded, then sarcastically added, " But all it did was separate us. Now, instead of "him & I", we both had another love demanding our attention.

KJ's head started to ache with all the noise in the shoppe.

"We're done, Spirit, get me out of here."

KJ turned away from the Spirit of things past, and the scene changed again. They were standing on a balcony overlooking the Pacific ocean. A sliding glass door to the main suite was partially open, and the sea air rustled the shear curtains in its wake.

The spirit asked again,"Do you recognize this place?"

KJ slumped against the balcony's railing and closed her eyes. "Yes." Shaking her head, she straightened up and walked towards the door. "It was our summer home, the year I got Voyager."

It was just past dawn, and the master suite was occupied. KJ could see that Mark was just waking. She watched wistfully as he began to caress the sleeping form next to him. How he loved the feel of satin on her.

"Good Morning." he said, as her eyes fluttered open.

Kathryn Janeway, Captain of the Bonestell, smiled and returned his caress. "Good Morning, yourself" she said languidly, and reached over to kiss him.

"Now that's a promising start to a new day." he said with a grin.

"As long as we don't let it "end" there." was Kathryn's teasing reply.

"Actually, that's what I'd like to talk about."

"Talk?" asked Kathryn with a disbelieving question in her tone.

"Kath, when are you going to make an "honest man" out of me?"

This was a conversation they'd had before, and he could see the change come over her face. "I know. You are a star Fleet Captain, your ship is too small for me to join you, you rarely get back to Earth anymore, you're not ready to consider children... did I miss anything?"

Kathryn sat up during his speech, and stretched. "How about, we're not ready to settle down?"

Mark guffawed. "What do you call us, if NOT settled?" He reached up tp run his hand through her auburn tresses,"I haven't had anyone else in my life since you came back into it ... Have you?"

"NO!" she said emphatically. She then got up and crossed the room to the replicator.

"Then why not?"

"Coffee, black" she ordered, and drank half before turning to answer him.

"I've always been honest with you, Mark. About my goals, my dreams."


"The Chance that StarFleet is about to hand me, the Command of a new type of Starship" She wandered back to the bed, and sat next to him, their thighs barely touching. "I've worked for this for so long, I CAN'T stop when I'm this close." her voice caught on the last word.

"Who said anything about stopping?" he asked as she against his shoulder.

"Not you, Mark... it's me." she sighed. "I love you, I want to Marry you one day, make my forever home with you, and raise my family with you... it's just..." she gulped in air," It's just so hard for me to think of leaving you for months at a time, if we were married." She shook her head. "If you find someone else, now, while I'm gone, someone who could live the life you desire ... well ... then you'd be free to pursue her without legal action."

Mark shook his head,"You're talking semantics, Kath, we BOTH know that Star Fleet marriages can be disolved just as easily as civilian marriages, and without reflecting on the officer's career."

Her eyes snapped, "I didn't mean that!"

Mark smiled,"No but the idea of a marriage of your's failing is more disturbing than say.. oh, I dunno... "gee, I just broke up with my boyfriend" isn't it?"

She didn't reply.

"Maybe we can compromise." he said hopefully, and she turned to face him.

He stood up and pulled her along with him. Her face was clearly intrigued, until he dropped to one knee, then she was clearly alarmed.

"Kathryn Janeway, Captain of the USS Bonestell, and future Captain of the soon to be USS Voyager... will you marry me?"

"Mark...." she warned.

"Kath, I only asked if you "WILL" marry me, not When..." and his eyes twinkled in that way that made her knees weak.

"Do I get a chance to think about it," she asked in a humorous tone.

"50, 000 Nanoseconds."

"That long!" she laughed out loud. "Is there an "out Clause" to this betrothal?"

Mark rolled his eyes, "Voyager is being commisioned later this month. You star fleet types are always talking about "5 year missions" on your ships. Lets say that we "do this thing" in 5 years, or we renegotiate."

Kathryn's eyebrows nearly reached her hairline, "5 Years! My God, I'll be 40 by then!" she smiled coyly, "Surely you'll throw "this old hag" over for someone else by then!"

Mark coughed before he replied. "I'm still waiting ..." and she sank down upon his knee, and kissed him deeply. "In case that wasn't clear, Mr Johnson, that means Yes, I will marry you."

"Uhhh --- Kath?"


"My knee ... it's starting to hurt."

She laughed at him as she stood up and pulled them both upright. "Heh didn't you forget something?" she growled, and waggled her left hand.

Mark looked shocked, "Heh! I gave you that negligee last night, isn't that enough?"

Kathryn arched an eyebrow his way which indicated her opinion.

"Anyway," he hastened to add ," Whoever heard of a starship captain wearing jewerly?"

"Good save." commented Kathryn, as she pulled him back to bed.

And the scene changed for one final time.

KJ was wiping her eyes as the summer home disappeared. Before her was a living room full of people she didn't recognize. There appeared to be a birthday party going on for two cute little twin girls, who were 2 if the cake was to be trusted.

She turned to her Spirit Guide,"Did you bring me to the right place?"

"You tell me."

Children were tearing around the room, batting balloons and screeching for no earthly reason. Parents were busy trying to keep the party from turning into a full scale riot.

"Pam! Where's that husband of yours"! We want to do the cake before they revolt!" hollared a frazzled mom.

Pam stuck her head into the commotion, from the relative safety of the kitchen. "Oh, he just got a call, I'll get him... MARK!" she yelled as she made her way to the other side of the house.

KJ gave the guide a quick double take, and then ran after Pam.

"Mark, we're about to cut the... cake. What's wrong?" she asked gently.

Mark Johnson was sitting with his head in his hands. "Star Fleet just called. They talked, actually SPOKE with Kathryn yesterday.."

Even KJ could see the effect this news had on Pam. It stopped her cold.

"oh?" she squeaked.

Mark looked up and was clearly alarmed at her color. He swiftly ran to her side, and embraced her.

"You loved her." she stated simply, while holding onto him with all her strength.

"Yes, I did," he stepped back half a pace to look at her," And I still do. But like I told you 2 years ago. when Voyager's EMH first contacted Star Fleet. I loved her, but I'm IN love with you, with our life, with our girls." His eyes twinkled in that way that made Pam's Knees go weak. "You have nothing to fear."

She threw her arms about his neck, again, and buried her face in his chest. "Easy for YOU to say, you don't have to worry about a long lost love about to walk into your partners' life and take him away forever."

Mark looked up at the ceiling,"Oh really?" His eyes moistened."I lived with that fear every day that Kath and I were together." He looked down at his trembling wife,"And if she came back today, that same lover would lure her away within a month."

Pam frowned at this, "Who?"

"Star Fleet."

The Spirit of Christmas' past waved his arm dramatically over the scene, and suddenly he and KJ were standing in the middle of an empty hologrid. Egypt, Indianna, Sanfransico were all gone.

"Food for thought, Kathryn, food for thought." and he leaned over to gently kiss her cheek.

A voice was heard, asking the computer to open an exit onto the holodeck, and Mark disappeared, as Chakotay walked in. "Is there something wrong, Captain?" He asked with concern.

KJ tried to reorient herself, but was none too successful. "What's up, Chakotay?"

He smiled,"Well Captain, I'm going to have to put you on report, for overstaying your alotted time on the holodeck, and for not getting to your duty shift on time..."

KJ gasped and called the comoputer for a time check. "Good lord, who hates me out there, and why didn't they just call me...?"

Chak laughed,"Who's going to tell the CAPTAIN to get out so THEY can play?"

"Good point." KJ smiled at the thought. "Oh well, let me start damage control." and out she went to apologize to the ensigns she bumped. As she and Chak walked down the corridor, he eyed her costume. "Indianna Jones, I presume?" he said with a grin.

KJ nodded, "I take it you know the story?"

Chak nodded,"When you're ready to do "Raiders of the lost Ark" give me a call. It's one of my favorites."

KJ agreed and then continued onto her quarters alone. She wondered why she didn't tell Chakotay about her visions. If they were from overwork, then she was worse than the EMH suspected. If they were from a telepathic alien, then the ship could be in danger. But if it was "real"..."

The door of her quarters swished open at her approach, and closed behind her before she could utter a startled cry. He rooms were transformed by thousands of plants, flowers, fruits. Music filled the air and thousands of candles cast an erie glow. The air was full of odors, also, including the one that seemed to follow KJ everywhere. Fresh ground coffee.

In the midst of plenty, she saw a throne against the viewport. Outside the viewport, she noticed a speck of light coming closer with each second. It's intensity increased such that when it burst through the screen, she had to cover her eyes to prevent blindness. When the light leaking through her fingers no longer hurt her eyes, she tentatively looked from behind her shield.

The light was coalescing into a form. The form was lithe, and garbed in only a bright green robe, cinched loosely at the waist. A wreathe of Hollyberry encircled her?his? head. The right hand held a torch that seemed to absorb all the excess light that still filled the room.

As the form settled, KJ's eyes opened wide.

"Christmas Present, I presume?"

The spirit smiled,"Oh please, why be so formal? You can call me Kes."

Chapter 5: Kes Returns

Janeway stood in front of the "throne" and stared at a woman she'd not seen in 2 yrs.


"Come in Capt, and know me better!" cried the Spirit. "Have you seen the like of me before?"

KJ looked at Kes again, and realized that her appearance was that of the "child" that came aboard 5 yrs ago. Short Pixie hair, confident, unquenchable thirst to explore."

"Your form is familiar."

Kes hopped off her throne and twirled about. She smiled that crooked smile that KJ remembered so well. "Capt we don't have much time" "What will you share with me today?"

"What else? Today." and they left KJ's quarters for the Mess hall.

In the hubbubb, she heard a a crewman talking about the holodeck.

"We'd waited for 3 wks until the two of us could get time off together And the holodeck wasn't booked. Then what happens? Bumped by an officer!"

"Oh that happens to me a lot," said the Doc, who'd been eve's dropping. "I just walk into their program and tell them to leave."

"Yeah, right!" scoffed the ensign,"I'd like to see you tell Janeway to take a hike!"

The EMH bristled.

Andy spoke up. "Anyway, Doc, it's not like we're one of the chosen few. Would she risk it all for me? I don't think so."

"What "don't you think", Andy," asked Tom as he and B"Elanna moved into the room.

The crewman got strangely silent.

The EMH, however, felt free to fill the pair in on the conversation thus far.

"After 5 years on board this ship, you STILL don't seem to know your Capt." muttered BLT under her breath. "Don't you think it's time you tried?"

Andy looked like he was under siege. "What do you want me to do? Invite the Capt to play poker?" he asked derisively.

Kim wandered into the conversation at this point,"Why not, that's what I did the first time." he chuckled at the thought,"I invited her to meet with a gang of us at Sandrine's, and we had a ball."

"B'Elanna laughed out loud,"Remember when the Gigalo hit on her?"

TP's eyes rolled back into his head,"Oh God yes. I thought I was Dead!"

"Point is, guys, if you want to know your Capt better, She's not going to force her way into your lives, but she'll accept an invitation." added HK.

Nicoletti came forward at this point," You have a point, HK, but I think you're also wrong. Maybe KJ from our first year would join you pool in Sandrines, and even KJ from our second year, but ever since the Borg came back into our lives, she's been absent from most of our lives."

Seven was at a nearby table, playing Kotisot with Naomi.

Nic continued, "She's not the same, anymore, I can't explain it."

Someone cried out,"Where is our Touchy feely KJ?"

TP started laughing harder, as 7 asked the "meaning" of t-f KJ.

"You DON'T KNOW touchy feely KJ?" he turned to see BLT's laughter ring out. "Maybe Nic is right. Maybe the KJ we love is being replaced!"

Seven tried unsucessfully to control her impatience."Explain."

B'Elanna recovered first, "It started with Lt Tarion. One day, he came in from an away mission with the Captain"

"Alone, on a class M planet with just a tricorder, and a phaser to protect him." TP would have added more, but BLT elbowed him in the ribs and pointed at Naomi.

"ANYway, Tarion came back totally convinced that the Capt was in love with him."

7 raised a skeptical eyebrow. "Who is this Tarion?"

Kim stopped chuckling and said,"He was killed in a Kazon attack in our 14th month here."

B'LT nodded,"A good man, if slightly delusion. Anyway, he came to the messhall to talk to TP & I about how to handle this delicate problem. Well"

TP jumped in again,"Well, after we stopped laughing, we asked him for proof. He said, That KJ had leaned on his shoulder as she climbed up a rockface. He then recounted every instance KJ had somehow come into contact with him." Tom shook his head,"What else could it be?

HK was still laughing. "TP looked at me and said,"I guess that means she's madly in love with me too, since she's always grabbing my shoulder while I'm at the helm...hmm"

Ensigns jumped up and out of the way as Chak and Tuvok entered the circle. "It has been my observation that the Capt usually grabs your shoulder during periods of turbulance, so she will not fall." said the Vulcan.

Chak disagreed, "Actually, I thought it always looked like she was ready to pull him from the seat and pilot the ship herself. Kind of like my Father used to do the first time I learned to drive a speeder."

Laughter ensued.

Nic, stood her ground, "Ok, that was THEN. I remember that day in here when Tarion was being laughed out of the room. We all joined in with our own stories of T-F KJ, and he calmed down, when he realized that it's just her way."

Nic shook her head. "I have to admit it bonded me with my Capt, but today?" she looked clearly saddened, "If Tarion returned today, I don't think I could come up with a single instance of TF KJ in my life since the Borg came."

7 looked up at her sharply, but before she could respond, Neelix beat her to it.

"No, I think she "left" when Kes left."

Janeway turned to look at her guide. Funny, her hair was now long and flowing over her shoulders. This was he Kes that left her ship so long ago.

"I don't understand, are you saying I'm pining for Kes?"

Janeway did as Spirit "Kes" said, and kept watching.

"I DID IT!" cried Naomi. "I won, Seven! Now pay up."

Seven turned her attention back to the board to confirm her claim.

"You are the luckiest person I know, Naomi." praised Chak as he congratulated the child.

"Actually, she is the second luckiest," Seven said with only trace of a smile. "My experience on board Voyager suggests the Capt is the luckiest person I know."

Naomi leaned over to her opponent, and offered to play one more game,"double or nothing." and Seven agreed. As she set up the board (losers have to do that) Naomi turned back to Neelix.

"I've met Touchy feely Janeway, and its been since The Borg came, and Kes left."

Seven arched an eyebrow in her direction, "Don't tell me that even you've experienced this phenomenon? Am I the only one who has not met this T-F alternate KJ?"

Naomi shrugged her shoulders. "I dunno, Seven. It was when I presented my idea to the Capt on how to save you from the Borg."

Seven did the Borg equivalent of a double take, "You did what?"

"It wasn't a very good idea, but the Capt thanked me for 'my initiative', and later put her hand on my shoulder while she told me the 3 things they teach you in Captain school."

Chak was trying not to smile too condescendingly as he listened to the story. "Does our Capt's assistant recall what those 3 things were?"

Naomi's eyes got bright. "Oh Yes Sir! #1 Keep your shirt tucked in. #2 Go down with the Ship. And # 3, NEVER leave a crewman behind." She then turned to Andy and Nicoletti and said,"I believe her. Maybe you should too."

The crewman & Ensign looked embarrassed at the depth of faith the child had in her Capt.

"Maybe we should invite her to poker?" ventured Andy. "Think she knows how to play?"

Tom grinned,"Look, if she says she doesn't, but is willing to learn, DON'T trust her. That first time at Sandrines, she acted like she didn't know which end of the pool cue to hold."

B'Elanna finished the story for him, "Then she broke the rack and put 3 balls in separate pockets."

Chak shook his head, "Talk about frustrating opponents, Seven, she didn't even bother to look at the ball after she lined up a shot, and she still sunk it."

Harry laughed,"That's our Captain. The pool hustler!"

Seven glanced about the room. "Frustrating opponents, THAT is the woman I've come to know, not this TF creature."

"Hey, don't sound so negative, I happen to like the TF- KJ" argued Neelix. "I'll never forget the first time I really saw her in action." He stood next to The Doc as he recounted his tale. "It was 5 years ago, and Kes was being forced into premature puberty. Her hormones were out of balance, as was her ability to reason. She was so afraid, that she locked herself behind a forcefield in the Doc's office, and refused to come out." The Doc nodded at the memory.

"I tried my best to talk her out, and then the Capt just patted my shoulder and asked to try. It seemed nothing would work, till she finally pleaded with Kes to 'let' her help. Well Kes was a frightful mess, hair dripping with sweat, face flushed with 39.5 fever, eyes half mad with worry. But she let the field down, and Janeway just walked into the room. She said nothing, just opened her arms wide."

Seven looked puzzled, "Why?"

Naomi turned to her playmate, "Hasn't anyone done that to you?"

"No. I wouldn't know how to respond if they did."

Neelix looked kindly on Seven, "Kes did. She ran and jumped into The Captain's arms."

The Doc sniffed at the memory. "Sometimes you just need to know, you're not alone, Seven."

Tuvok looked pensive, "In some ways, our Captain has been "alone" since Kes left the ship.

"What are we?" asked Harry, "Chopped liver?"

Tuvok persisted, "Kes was the one force on this ship that regularly touched The Human behind the Captain. Everyone else responded to her as Captain. Even at Sandrines, she was the "guest" not "one of the gang" as Mr Kim so aptly described them."

Chak nodded,"Captain. That title was burned into my mind so deep, that when we were left behind on that planet with the viral contagion, I couldn't let it go." He smiled to himself at his self conscious gulp when she suggested he call her "Kathryn" "No ship, no crew, and it took me a week to get used to the idea of even using her name."

B'Elanna put her arm through Tom's, and added, "It took me 3 1/2 years to admit my love for Tom. It took me 5 1/2 years, to admit to her how much I need her. The rest of the time, I ignored her or fought with her over the decisions she made, for me or for the ship." She looked at Seven, and seemed ashamed. "I guess she IS the 'luckiest' person I know, since the majority of the decisions fell her way, but she's also the unluckiest."

"How so?" asked Tom, as he gazed into B'Elanna's eyes.

"I have you, and you have Harry. Neelix has Tuvok, Chakotay has me, Seven has Naomi, and Harry has every unattainable woman in the universe." She shrugged her shoulders. "Who does the Captain have?"

Harry shivered at a thought. "This is too weird. I feel like it's Happy Leon's Day, and we are eulogizing a former comrade."

"Excuse me?" asked Tom, "Who's Leon?"

Harry looked distracted. "I don't know. It's just a holiday that my freshman roommate celebrated every year. He was a nut for the christmas holiday, the songs, the decorations, the fun. Well, he'd turn on the songs every June and celebrate "Happy Leon's day". He said it was a time to recall the people who are no longer in our lives. Be it by death, or transfer, or irreconilable differences."

Harry shivered again, "I guess it feels like we're missing the Captain, even before she's gone."

Harry sighed again. "Heck, I'd be willing to go back to Borg space and try to contact Kes on that astral plane, if it would mean that the Captain would have a friend again."

Tuvok gazed at the ensign. "It isn't Kes or your courage that's required to solve this problem, ensign. It is the Captain's courage that is the key."

"Seven.... are we going to play, or what!" demanded Naomi.

The group disbanded and walked away from the Kotiskot players and back into their own conversations.

Janeway sighed at the thought of Tuvok's challenge, and turned to look at Her spirit guide, Kes.

This was a Kes she'd never met. Her hair was white as snow, and the face was wrinkled nearly beyond recogntion.

"Are spirit's lives so short?" she cried.

"Yes. My time among you is very short. It ends tonight." was the Spirit's only reply.

Janeway looked frantic, "Impossible. What time is it?"

"Midnight. Farewell Kathryn." and the spirit disappeared, along with the mess hall. Janeway found herself back in her room staring out the view screen. The only plants adorning it were the ones she'd ordered from the hydroponics bay, 3 days ago.

"This has gone too far." said Janeway aloud. "Sickbay! Medical emergency, Captain's quarters!" and then she sat down to wait for help to arrive.

Chapter 6: The Third Spirit

Janeway sat on the couch and alternatively looked out the viewport and then at the door. The "Captain" in her, also watched the chronometer to gauge her crew's response time.

"Swish" went the door to her quarters.

72 seconds.

"Captain! What's wrong?" demanded Commander Chakotay as he entered the room. Close on his heels were both Ensign Wildman and the EMH.

Janeway caught her First Officer's hand and pulled him down to her eye level. "Listen, Chakotay, I might not have much time. COMPUTER! Transfer all my command codes to Commander Chakotay until further notice from him!"


The EMH eyed her skeptically as he looked at the readings on his tricorder. "Just what is the Nature of this "medical" emergency, Captain? You seem perfectly fine to me."

KJ"s eyes bored into her First Officer, "I don't know how or why, but for the last 18 hours I've been bombarded by visions and experiences from the Alpha Quadrant to the Delta quadrant." She shook her head as if to clear these from her mind. "Am I under the influence of a telepathic alien? or am I being affected by alien technology again? or am I actually being taken from the ship...?... I can't be sure. But one thing's certain," her voice dropped lower, "I know it's not over, yet."

The EMH was about to protest at this melodrama, but then Ensign Wildman spoke up, "Doctor! Look at these readings of her telegenic neurotransmitters in the limbic system. These readings are off the scale!"

The EMH grabbed her machine and exclaimed, "Why can't I pick up these levels?" and quickly reprogrammed his tricorder for telegenic chemicals. "D@mn, there they are!"

Chak tapped his communicator, "Tuvok! I need an armed security team in the Captain's Quarters immediately! Also, start scanning the area for any sign of cloaked ships, covert communications, and telepathic energy signatures."

"Aye Sir." Was the Vulcan's only reply.

"Don't worry, Kathryn, we'll get to the bottom of this." he murmured as he sat next to her on the couch.

"Can we move her now?" asked the EMH, indicating the arrival of their armed escort at her door.

Chakotay nodded and he stood up with Kathryn and walked out the door.

"Chakotay, when it happens again, and I DO expect it at least once more, it will be at 3 o'clock..." KJ stopped at the turbolift door as Chak called for the lift.

"But Captain" piped up Sam Wildman,"It's 3 am now."

KJ threw an incredulous look over her shoulder at the Ensign. "Impossible! It was just Midnight a few minutes ago!"

The door to the turbo lift slid open, and Janewy's jaw dropped open. She could no longer feel Chakotay's hand guiding her elbow, or hear the EMH's tricorder whirring. All she had eyes and ears and sense for, was the sight of the 8 foot tall alien standing hunched over in her turbolift.

As it stepped out into the coorridor, KJ could hear the sound of her mother's antique mantle clock (still in the Alpha Quadrant?) striking three.


The cloak draping the creature was voluminous, but Janeway was not fooled.

She knew an 8472 when she saw one.

"Telepathic communication! Shape Shifting abilities!" she spat the words at the alien as it approached. "Have you been behind this the WHOLE time!?"

As she backed down the corridor, KJ noticed the alien had stopped its advance and was staring off to it's left. It was then she realized that they weren't on Voyager anymore. The bulkhead to the left was gone, replaced by a set of intricately carved wooden doors.

8472 extended a hand towards the doors, and they opened wihout a touch. It kept it's large claw like hand extended - pointing the way for KJ.

Suspicions warred in Kathryn's mind. "Are you species 8472, or are you the Spirit of Christmas past?" she asked warily.

The creature inclined his head a fraction, after the 2nd question.

KJ took a deep breath, and tried to logically decide her next move. "If this is a hologrid malfunction, like the Doc had 4 years ago, then I should just "finish" the story line and let the grid reset itself at the end. If this is a new way for an alien to infiltrate my psyche, then I should play along until I can get the upper hand.' She looked up at the creature towering over her,"And if this is all a delusion, all I can do is hold on and hope to God the Doc can bring me out before I've completely gone over the edge."

With that thought, KJ simply walked under the outstretched arm of 8472 and through the doors. "Why do these seem so familiar?" she wondered.

Well, she wondered, till she got inside.

She was in a chapel. Specifically, she was in a private side chapel at Star Fleet Academy's San Francisco campus. It wasn't empty, either.

In the middle stood a simple photon torpedo draped in the colors of the Star Fleet flag.

"Well," sighed Kathryn,"At least I made it home." She turned to her guide to ask,"I don't suppose you'd mind telling me if I made it home alive... or if I was brought home?"

The Spirit said nothing, it simply pointed down the aisle at the "casket".

"I didn't think so," muttered Janeway as she made her way down the aisle."Okay, so I'm dead. Listen, this isn't a surprise. I knew this was coming evetually. Hey, I've read "The Christmas Carol" before! Here I am, alone, like Ebeneezer, with only a Starfleet emblem to mark my passing."

She stopped at the torpedo and turned to the Spirit. "LOOK! I get the idea! You don't have to beat me over the head with it!" She glanced back at the areodynamic black coffin. "Can we go now?"

Knowing no reply would be forthcoming, she turned on her heel and began striding back up the aisle... and nearly ran into Harry.

At least, she thought it was Harry.

Her Ensign was grayer and thicker through the chest than she'd ever seen, but it was her Harry, alright. He'd walked halfway into the chapel, and was standing quietly, staring at the torpedo tube. Finally, with a large sigh, he forced himself to walk the rest of the way.

Laying a hand lovingly upon the top of the tube, he whispered, "Goodbye, old friend."


Harry looked up quickly, and removed his hand from the casket at the sound of her voice.

"Hello, Seven, I'm glad you could make it."

KJ, feeling distinctly uncomfortable at the prospect of seeing her funeral for a 2nd time, tried to lighten the scene. She turned to the Spirit and whispered,"Geezzz, she must have put on One, maybe Two kilos in the last 20 years!"

Spirits obviously don't have a sense of humor.

Seven of Nine walked up to the Photon tube and also place her and on it's side. "It HAS been a long time, Admiral, but I felt it was important for me to be here."

Harry smiled. "You are always welcome, Seven, but please, call me Harry."

"Soooo, Oxford is going to have to do without your wisdom and guidance for a day?" asked the EMH as it walked into the Chapel.

Seven accepted the welcoming handshake from her old mentor. "Professor Data has agreed to cover my classes for me." She shrugged as she added, "Like he says, one hand washes the other."

"Hail Hail, the gang's all here!" called out Tom, as he and B'Elanna walked down the aisle.

B'Elanna reached up and hugged Harry gratefully about the neck. "Thankyou for doing this for us, Harry. I couldn't just say goodbye in the middle of the StarFleet monstrosity of a ceremony that's planned."

Once B'Elanna released her hold on Harry, Tom grabbed him by both shoulders, as a prelude to his own bearhug. "Hey! Who could refuse the Head of Star Fleet?" he asked with typical sly smile.

"Tom," argued Harry,"I'm sure the Commandant of Star Fleet Academy could have arranged this if he'd tried, You just always like to take the easy way out by leaving the details to me!"

"Hey! I resemble that remark!" Tom replied with a knowing chuckle.

"Things never change with you guys." chided Neelix, as he came into the room.

"Thank God!" smiled B'Elana as she hugged the Talaxian.

"Professor! Glad to see you on this side of the Atlantic." said Neelix warmly as he grasped Seven's hand. "I can't thank you enough for taking me out to that wonderful restaurant last year. I've incorporated 2 of the recipees into the menu of the New Orleans branch of my "Deep in the Delta" restaurants, and they are a big hit!"

"Glad I could be of assistance, Neelix. Be aware I have a new restaurant in mind for your next trip." she said with just a trace of a smile.

"Soooo, that's where the extra kilos come from? Squiring Neelix around to various hot spots" teased B'Elanna.

Seven responded,"Only 0.45 kilos since we last met 3 years ago, B'Elanna. I have the documentation in my medical record if you need it."

B'Elanna began laughing, and the Doc brusquely added, "0.45? Just simple fluid shifts. Nothing to be excited over."

Harry glanced around the room, "Does anyone know if Tuvok is coming?"

Seven shook her head. "The ambassador was detailed to a peace conference arbitrating a border dispute with the Beta Quadrant 6 months ago. Needless to say, he could not return in time for the ceremonies."

Silence then fell on the group, and KJ turned to the Spirit with a confused look. "This isn't what I was expecting, did we read the same Dickens' novel?"

The Spirit just pointed at the photon tube and her clutch of friends.

"Time's getting late, Harry." said B'Elanna gently, as she laid her hand on his arm. "The real funeral is going to start soon in the Cathedral, and they'll need the guest of honor." She inclined her head toward the tube.

Harry Heaved a sigh worthy of a green ensign. "I know." He looked up the aisle, but no one was there. "I'd just hoped, you know..." his voice actually cracked with emotion.

"They hadn't seen each other in years, Admiral," began Seven in an unusually sympathetic tone.

Harry nodded his head,"I know. It was quite a coup for me to get them both to my induction ceremony 3 years ago." he smiled at the memory. "She told me that NO MATTER how high Starfleet promoted me, I'd still be her ensign in her heart."

Paris chucked. "When they came to my installation ceremony as Academy commandant 6 years ago..."

"Actually, Janeway told me she only came for my promotion to department chair in warp design. YOUR installation was only "gravy" laughed B'Elanna at her spouse.

"WHATEVER!" Tom mockingly growled at his wife," I remember Chakotay telling me that my promotion was Starfleet's revenge for all the tricks I played at school and on Voyager. Now I'd be reponsible for 5000 teenagers with new tricks to try."

Seven reached out to stroke the flag covering the tube. "It seems the only time they saw each other, after our return, and those months of debriefing, was during a milestone in our lives"

Neelix looked down the empty aisle. "Strange, isn't it? Even after all these years, I still think of them as "together". Like salt & pepper. I rarely mention the one without the other, yet Seven's right. The only time they saw each other was when one of us brought them together."

B'Elanna leaned into Tom, and muttered, "They were such a great team, I'd always assumed... you know ... that there was more there than simple mutual respect. When she was called to testify in his Maquis trial after we got home - why - I was Certain that their bond was more than "just" professional."

Tom hugged B'Elanna tightly. "I know. It was such an impassioned speech, It made me a firm believer in the power to move people with the simple word. One of the first things I did when I came to the Academy, was to revamp the ethics course to include "Janeway's defense of Chakotay" at the Cardassian war crimes tribunal."

Harry looked up,"And in conclusion, honored Ladies and Gentlemen, I assert that you must Not Only find that this man, this loyal officer, has already discharged by service in the Delta Quadrant, any guilt you feel he's carried from his association with the Maquis 8 years ago. I demand that you also reinstate him into StarFleet with full rank and priviledges his experience requires. In fact, if you are wise, and I think you are, you will promote him to the Captaincy he so richly deserves! I assure you, a better man, a better officer can NOT be found in this or any quadrant!"

KJ sank own into a nearby pew, her head dropping onto her chest.

"God. She WAS a firebrand, wasn't she?!" added Neelix softly.

A cough came from the entrance to the chapel, and the sexton pointed to his chronometer.

Harry nodded. "We're almost done." he told the sexton. Turning to B'Elanna, he added,"Okay B'Elanna. It's your show."

The friends crowded around the Photon Tube, and Seven removed the flag, folding it gently before setting it down.

B'Elanna pushed a series of buttons on the side of the tube, and soon half of the top of the tube hinged open.

The sexton watched from the open doorway, as B'Elanna took a deep beath, and reached into the casket to open the eyes of her friend. After staring into those eyes for what seemed forever, she then tilted her head back 90 degrees and HOWLED in a voice full of sadness, anger, love and most of all, warning. Her cries were matched in intensity by her comrades in the room.

"Geezzzz..." whispered a cadet passing by the door - "What the heck is going on?"

The sexton replied, matter of factly, "It's a Klingon ritual. They are warning the dead in Sto'vo'kor, that a WARRIOR will soon be joining them."

"Wow!" exclaimed the cadet. "A klingon funeral in the chapel, and a Captain's full dress funeral going on in the Cathedral, impressive."

The sexton turned to smile at the cadet.

"Especially when you realize they are both for the same person."

The men and women who once called each other "Voyagers" slowly moved their way up the aisle towards the cathedral. B'Elanna strayed a minute to replace the cover of the tube, and rearrange the flag.

KJ ached to see her friend struggle to maintain her composure as she walked away from the tube.

She looked at 8472 and then stood up to approach the coffin. She stood next to it and found herself stroking the flag. She started quietly. "I see I made choices, and that maybe they were not the ones I expected I'd make," she turned to look up at her spirit guide. "But it sounds like I still lived a full life. I remained a Captain. I kept in contact with my friends, with most of my friends. What more can one ask?" she demanded. "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, I'm not about to sit and moan about the road I've chosen now." and she slapped the Tube's casing with a hearty blow.

Repenting her action immediately, she straightened the flag again, and whispered to herself,"I wonder if Phoebe made it here?"

In answer, the Spirit slowly pointed to the aisle.

"Oh My God!" Kathryn exclaimed, "She looks just like Mom!"

A greyhaired woman in a tailored suit was slowly walking down the aisle. Her eyes were brimming and KJ's heart broke for her suffering. "Oh Phoebe... don't cry little sister ... I'm ...?"

Words suddenly failed KJ, as she was simply struck dumbfounded.

The woman's face, lit by the candles surrounding the photon tube, was not Phoebe's.

It was her own.

The older Janeway walked to the side of the Photon Tube, and bent over to lay her cheek on the flag draped coffin.

"You promised." she whispered. "You promised to always be at my side. Who will make this burden lighter, Chakotay, who?"

Tears fell like rain as she continued. "I could stand up to the Caretaker. I could stand up to the Q. I could stand up to the BORG! Why couldn't I find the courage to stand up to StarFleet?"

Her hands gripped the flag and tried to twist it into knots. "Why did I never learn my lesson? Star Fleet stole my father. It stole me from Mark. And it kept us from each other. What do we have left, Chakotay? What do I have left?"

She pounded the casing as he cried, "You weren't supposed to DIE FIRST! You weren't supposed to leave me ALONE!"

KJ's breath caught in her throat, as the tears were choking her air supply. She turned to 8472 and began to remonstrate with it. "Spirit! Tell me the truth! These visions ARE just visions! These events don't HAVE to come to pass! Tell me there's STILL time! TELL ME!!!" she cried.

"Tell you what, Captain?" asked Chakotay as he bent over her on the holodeck.

KJ blinked twice.

8472 was gone. The Academy chapel was gone. The Photon tube was gone.

She was laying on the floor of an empty hologrid, surrounded by Chakotay, Tom, B'Elanna, Tuvok, Seven, the EMH and Neelix.

"You're ALIVE!" shouted Janeway, as she sat up to hug her first officer.

"She's out of her coma now, Commander. That last dose of cordrizine did the trick!" reported the EMH.

Chakotay, still in the middle of her bearhug, looked over KJ's shoulder at the EMH and said,"Thanks for pointing that out, Doc."

The EMH sniffed. "Well, you don't have to be snippy about it."

KJ slowly loosened her grip on Chak and turned to her crew. "What the He!!'s been going on?" she asked.

B'Elanna indicated KJ's outfit. "Well, Captain, you came here to play a holoadventure 12 hours ago, but something went horribly wrong. Unfortunately, we didn't notice until 7:03 when you didn't exit the holodeck as scheduled. Thank God Vorick was next in line for the deck, someone else might have "just let you play through" their time."

KJ shook her head. But I remember Leaving the holodeck With Chakotay. He ended the program and joked about putting me on report for not showing up on time for my duty shift."

Chak looked kindly at his Captain. "That never happened. Vorick tried to alert you of the time with his communicator. He realized the system was down, so he tried to open an exit in the program. But without success."

Seven then ventured,"We have been here since 7:03, trying to get you safely out of the holodeck. We've been monitoring the holoprogram and great concern set in when we realized the holo safeties were off line."

The EMH added, "Your life signs were very erratic at the end. We thought we were losing you."

I sure don't remember any of that." said KJ, shaking her head again. "Are you saying that the original program kept running all day?"

"According to the logs," answered Tuvok. "Twelve chapters of the Holoadventures of Indiana Jones played out today."

"Captain, I'd like you to report to sickbay for a full physical." suggested the EMH.

KJ nodded and indicated she was ready to stand. Many hands reached out to pull her to her feet. As she approached the door to the holodeck, she turned to B'Elanna and said, "BLT, maybe Chapman's winking in/out problem wasn't fixed. Maybe what I recall was just spillover from other programs."

BLT and the EMH exchanged glances. "What problem was Chapman working on?"

KJ waved her hand, "Oh The Lt. was fixing the holodeck controls just before I entered the grid. He said people were complaining about characters from other holonovels winking in/out of their programs."

Tom whistled and the EMH sputtered. "But Captain, that's impossible. Lt Chapman has been in my sickbay since 2 am with a very bad case of the Deltan Flu. You couldn't possibly have seen him at 6 am outside this holodeck."

KJ stopped in her tracks. "Excuse me?"

"This sounds lke it's more than a simple computer malfunction." speculated Chakotay.

B"Elanna reached out and touched KJ's arm, "Captain, what happened to you in there?"

KJ shrugged. "I learned I don't want to be the subject of a Happy Leon's day celebration before my time."

Tom laughed, "What the heck is that?"

Kim's eyes, however, grew large. "Leon's day? Gosh I haven't thought of that since my academy days."

KJ spun on her heels to face her still fresh faced ensign. "You've heard of it?"

Chapter 7: Lesson Learned?

Kim looked uncomfortable. "Sure, I've heard of Happy Leon's day. My roommate at the academy was crazy for the Christmas holiday, and would celebrate it year round if we'd let him." Kim grinned at the memory. "Halfway through the year, he'd pull out his decorations and his music and call it "Happy Leon's Day". A day for remembering friends who've passed on, or been transferred away, or who've fallen away."

"So, who was Leon?" asked Tom.

Kim shook his head. "He never told me who he was."

"No'el" whispered KJ. "Its No'el spelled backwards." as she dropped her head thoughtfully. "Neelix. I think it's time we celebrate "Happy Leon's day" again. Are you up to an impromptu party?"

Neelix drew himself up to his full height and proclaimed, "Your wish is my command, Captain. Now if anyone cares to explain just what goes on at a Leon's Day or Christmas day party..."he asked expectantly as he glanced at his fellows, "Then I'd say we could be ready in 60 minutes."

KJ walked off the holodeck, on Chak's arm. "Take 90, and do it up right."

90 minutes later, Neelix had transferred holodeck 2 into Christmas at Sandrine's. He insisted on using the 2nd holodeck, because he thought KJ had already spent enough time on Holodeck 1 today... and anyway, he didn't believe Joe Carey's reassurance that everything "checked out" on #1."

After her trip to sickbay, KJ treated herself to a luxurious 45 min bubble bath. She felt refreshed enough to take on the BORG. Her door chimed as she was brushing her hair.

"COME" she said, as she checked the mirror one final time.

Chak was standing in the doorway, wearing his "civvies". "I realize I'm not a security escort, but I thought you'd like some company since we're going back to the holodeck."

KJ smiled and waved his concerns nonchalantly away. "Neelix was so worried, he called twice while I was in the bath, just to "make sure"I wouldn't mind the party being staged there."

She put her hand on Chak's offered arm, and whispered, "The 2nd time he called, I threatened to put him in the brig if he didn't leave me alone and just program the Darn thing!"

Chak threw his head back and laughed as they left for the party.

Sandrine's never looked so good. The dark, romantic atmosphere was heightened by the Christmas lights and candles. The party was already in full swing by the time the Commander and Captain entered.

"Welcome Captain Janeway!" twittered Neelix. "We decided since it's closer to Christmas than Leon's day, that we'd call this a Christmas Party."

"Wise choice, Mr Neelix, wise choice," she said with a grin.

Looking about the room, she saw Tom & Harry playing pool against Vorick & Ayala. By the groan Harry let escape after Vorick's last shot, she supposed the game was over.

"Gentlemen, giving up so soon?" she inquired.

"This is the 5th game Vorick has run the table." muttered Ayala. "I know that means we're winning, but it's very boring when you don't get to play."

Vorick looked nonplussed. "Isn't winning the idea?"

His partner huffed and handed his cue to the Captain. "The table's yours, Captain." and he walked away.

Vorick, for once in his life, took a hint and handed his cue to Chakotay. KJ looked her 1st officer over, with an appraising smile, and turned to survey the room.

"Let's be provincial about this, Commander." she said as she spotted her pale but recovering prize.

"HEY! Chapman!"

The Lt. jumped and nearly spilled his drink on his neighbor.

"Know anything about pool?" she asked.

"Yes... er.. No... er..."

"Good! Come over here and be Chakotay's partner." She then looked around the room til she saw her partner, and called out, "Nicoletti! How's your pool game?" raising her cue towards the woman at the bar.

Nicoletti coughed as she inhaled her Ale through her nose. "uhmmm, NON-existant, Captain."

"Great! Chapman can't play either. That evens up the odds." She waved Nicoletti over to the table. "We're about to have an old fashioned battle of the Sexes."

The game progressed in fits and starts, with KJ & Chak trying to coach not only their partner, but the opposing teams partner as well. Luckily, the laughter that resulted came loudest from the neophyte pool players, and not just from the audience. KJ's consoling pat on the back of either player was more frequent than her high fives when their ball finally dropped as planned.

Halfway through their third game, KJ relinguised her cue to Meagan Delaney and Chakotay offered his to Harry. They each moved on, working the room like a pair of politicians. Stopping here for a joke, there for a drink, here for an impromptu Carol. Rarely were they together after their pool game.

Stopping at the bar to order an Irish Coffee, she saw a couple of enginners sitting quietly in the corner, watching the spectacle unfold before them.

"Computer" she said quietly, "One standard 52 cardplaying deck, with appropriate poker chips." Picking them up from the bar, she walked over to the table.

"Gentlemen, You look out of place." She sat the chips and cards down on their table. "Any chance I could interest you in a game of 5 card draw?"

Andy looked up in shock. He didn't say anything, but did manage to nod his head vigorously. KJ sat next to him and leaned over to say conspiratorially, "I'm just a little rusty at this game, so we won't play for real credits... Tonight.... okay?"

She saw his doubletake, and noticed him glance at the pool table thoughtfully. "Sure Captain, just for fun...THIS time." and he smiled.

The hoots that came from the table 20 mintes later when KJ failed to fill an inside straight, drew half the bar to their corner.

"Ok, Okay, I can take a hint!" laughed KJ as she laid her hand on Andy's shoulders. "Anyone here who cares to take on this card shark?" she asked with grand eloquence.

Sam Wildman raised her hand and offered, "Only if I can check his sleeves first!"

KJ flitted about the bar again, stopping now at the Piano (they had moved it to accomodate the pool table). She sat next to the EMH on the bench, as he played. Tuvok accompanied him on his lute. It had been so long since she'd listened to Tuvok play, KJ had forgotten just how good he was. Slowly she swung in time to the music, till she realized she was relaxed enough to fall asleep. Touching Tuvok's shoulder in thanks, she got up instead to search for liquid stimulants.

Her progress all night had been observed by a quiet figure at the bar. A few ensigns even commented (with relief) about the re-emergence of "touchy feely Janeway", as they ordered their drinks.

Sandrine leaned over the bar and commented, "Very popular, Our Katrine' is tonight, No?"

Seven looked at Sandrine with a quizzical look, "She IS the Captain."

"True," said Sandrine, "But that doesn't mean anything. Look at Neelix, that orange tufted mouse-- he has no rank but is very popular with his fellows." she pointed at the Talaxian who was singing Carols arm and arm with Jenny Delaney and Naomi.

"Good Evening, Madame! What can I get for you tonight." asked Sandrine as KJ climbed atop the barstool next to Seven's.

"Coffee, black." was her only request as she turned back to survey the scene behind her. "Party's going well, don't you think?" she asked Seven. "Are you enjoying yourself?"

Seven eyed her half filled drink, "I don't know." Looking up at Neelix who was now embracing the winner of the latest pool match (Ensign Jenkins), she said, "I find some of these customs strange, even 3 years after leaving the collective.

"Oh?" drawled KJ. "Like what?"

Seven didn't look at her Captain, but instead motioned to Neelix, "This habit of personal contact - outside the sexual arena, of course"

KJ tried to keep her composure, "Of course."

"But what is it's purpose?" Seven asked.

KJ began simply, "It is a method of communication we use to bond ourselves to one another." KJ stopped to sip her coffee, as she deciided how else to explain it. "It is a way to reassure each other, that for at least the time the contact is made, we are the one most uppermost in another's thoughts."

KJ turned to look over the room, but still saw when Seven turned of to look her way. "This is something you do frequently." she stated matter of factly.

KJ nodded. "When I think it's appropriate. Take Neelix, he needs a lot of tactile reassurance, but Tuvok? Just a touch to him is like a bearhug to someone else."

Janeway then started to clap and whistle as Noah Lessing just hit his 5th bullseye on the ancient dart board someone hung at the end of the bar.

"Touch, Seven, can be as important as words." KJ said as she turned back to look at the young woman. "I can touch with my voice, it's true, but sometimes that's not enough."

Seven's eyebrow arched up inquisitively, "Your words were powerful enough to breach the Delta Flyer's force field."

"True." nodded Janeway. "But I remember a time when they weren't enough for you. In fact, I remember the first time they failed me and I held you in my arms."

A look of increduality came over Seven's face. "I don't recall any such incident!"

KJ smiled, "I don't doubt it. It was a traumatic period. We had disconnected you from the Borg, and had started removing your implants. Needless to say, you were not happy, and eventually ended up in the Brig." Janeway glanced away from her audience to survey the area for evesdroppers. "You decided to get my attention by throwing yourself repeatedly into the force field. Once I came into your cell, you tried to knock me out with a round house punch, but you missed and threw yourself off balance."

Seven's eyes were closed, bidding this memory to resurface. "You... caught me..?"


Seven's head tilted to one side,"You ..., carried me to a...bench?"


"I don't remember..."

I stayed with you until you fell asleep. Or whatever Borg equivalent that a disconnected Borg could assume." KJ answered quietly.

"Why?" asked Seven with sincerity.

KJ smiled, and like with Tuvok, she gently touched Seven's shoulder. "You needed to know, to feel, that you weren't alone."

Seven's eyes opened in wonder, as she whispered, "The bond you spoke of, on the Delta Flyer, you started it even then?"

KJ simply squeezed her shoulder, and glanced away to give her pupil some privacy.

"Seven, I'd say its time you joined this party. Lets get the Doc to do some more Carols." With that, she stood up and walked to the piano. Motioning her crew to follow, she was soon standing next to the piano with her left arm in the crook of Harry's right, and her right arm around B'Elanna's shoulders. Chakotay stood on the opposite side with his arms over Gilmore's and Carey's shoulders.

As the singing began in earnest, Janeway was conscious of a hand coming to rest on her left shoulder. Looking down, she saw the finely boned fingers wrapped in a borg exoskeleton, and she smiled.

At the end of the night, Janeway looked around the empty bar, and saw Sandrine, Chakotay and a sleepy ensign were the only ones left.

"Well, Kathryn, you throw one He!! of a party!" congratulated Chakotay as he picked up the sleepy ensign and pushed him towards the exit.

"I think they'll need a 24 hour R&R just to recover." laughed KJ as she watched the young man stumble out the the holodeck.

Chak watched the door open and close again, and he sighed, "Time for a little dose of reality."


Chak turned to KJ and asked, "Excuse me?"

KJ looked surprised, "I didn't say anything."


Chak and KJ now turned to see Sandrine casually cleaning the surface of the bar.

"Did you want something, Sandrine?" asked KJ.

The woman merely pointed to the ceiling, then returned to polishing the bar.

Chakotay and Kathryn both looked up to see the miseltoe.

"Chakotay?" asked Kathryn, "Have you ever read any Charles Dickens?"

"Yesss..." answered Chak, uncertain where this was going.

"In one of his novels, he said,"No space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity lost."

Chakotay smiled broadly, revealing those dimples that always made her knees weak. "Really?" he challenged her.

"Really." she smiled, as she reached to bring his mouth down to hers.

Sandrine obviously approved.

"Closing time, mon cher" she called to the lovers as they broke from the kiss.

Kathryn and Chakotay waved to her as they headed for the exit. As she reached the threshold, Kathryn turned back to survey the bar once more. But Sandrine was no longer alone.

At the bar, raising mugs of ale in her direction, were the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present, Future, and the Ghost of James T Kirk.

"Computer - End Program, and save." instructed KJ, as the visuals all disappeared.

As she walked down the corridor, holding Chakotay's hand, He whispered, "You know, this could get complicated."

KJ simply smiled. "Like Kes once told me, I can use some complication in my life right about now."

The End


Sandrine's disappeared and the holodeck doors closed.

A second later, the image of Sandrine's returned, with Kirk, Mark, Kes, and 8472.

"Is THAT all?!" Kirk demanded of Mark. "You put me through ALL of this just so Kathy would kiss Chuckles?!"

Mark's image faded and was replaced by a comely youth, tall, blond and broad through the shoulders.

"Father, You always said that the POINT of my existence was to learn what the continuum had forgotten."

"Yes dear," said 8472 in a very NON telepathic way. Then the image of 8472 dissolved to reveal "Miss Q". "But wasn't this an elaborate way to get to a simple act?"

Kirk disappeared and Q was revealed in all his unabashed glory. "If you wanted to learn about love, why couldn't you just visit Tom & B'Elanna's quarters, or just follow Riker around for 30 seconds, or..."

"Dad! The act isn't the point. It's how they fall in love, how they discover they're in love, and how much they risk by following their heart.. That's what I need to understand." He then looked to Kes, and her image faded to reveal a shining point of light that quickly left Voyager.

"As Kes told me just last week. The only way Janeway could teach me about love, was to allow us to teach her about it."

He then straightened his shirt and looked in the direction the light had flown. "Anyway Dad, I've got to go. Kes doesn't like to be kept waiting."

The End, again