Disclaimer: Star Trek Voyager belongs to Paramount/CBS. No infringement intended.
Summary: On the first Christmas following Voyager's return, Janeway shares her family with Chakotay. J/C
The First Noel
The Christmas Eve snowstorm had intensified into a blizzard while Kathryn Janeway waited at the transport station for Chakotay to arrive, so the eight-block walk to Phoebe's house was a frigid, slippery struggle. Chakotay put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close to conserve warmth and limit the effect of the biting wind.
"The storm wasn't supposed to be these severe," Kathryn said as she clung to his jacket.
"The weather net over the Lake Michigan went down this morning, so the north wind is having a greater effect than expected."
"Well, it's a good thing I like a white Christmas."
"I like snow any time," Chakotay replied, pulling her closer as she nearly slipped on a patch of ice. She snuggled under his arm, grateful for his help. They felt like walking snowmen by the time they reached Phoebe's house, and the heat and noise of the Janeway family reunion was a physical blow.
After disposing of their parkas, Kathryn stood in the foyer, four steps above the level of the living room, and clapped her hands to get the family's attention. When every eye was on her, she put her hand on Chakotay's shoulder.
"This is Chakotay, my first officer on Voyager and now a professor of tactics at Starfleet Academy. I could bring him around and introduce each of you by name, but he'd never remember. So please introduce yourselves and help him feel at home."
She took his arm and waded into the crowd, stopping in front of a tiny little lady with brilliant blue eyes, snow-white hair, and an impressive, if not imposing, personal presence. Chakotay's eyes widened as he realized that this was what Kathryn would look like in forty years or so.
"Chakotay, this is my great aunt Martha, my grandfather's sister. I've told you about her."
"Yes, I remember. It's a pleasure to meet you." Chakotay took her small hand in his. "Kathryn has told me how your stories inspired her to become a Starfleet captain."
The blue eyes sparkled. "I wish I could take credit for that. She's informed me of my inaccuracy about Shannon O'Donnell's role in the building of the Millennium Gate. I was sorry to have such a good story ruined, but I have others!"
Chakotay grinned and guided her toward a nearby loveseat. "Please, tell me some of them."
"Will you be okay if I leave you and go check on Mom and Phoebe?" Kathryn whispered as she followed them. "I've already heard all the stories. A few times, in fact."
"Don't worry," he answered, giving her a wink. "I can handle a Janeway. I've had years of training."
Kathryn stayed busy helping her mother and sister most of the morning, but she checked on her former first officer on a regular basis, usually finding him working his way through one branch of the family or another. Soon, her relatives began to seek her out.
"Kathryn, tell me more about him," her cousin, Cheryl, gushed. "Is he married? Is he taken? Do you have his number?"
Her aunt Martha said, "He's a natural politician! He made me believe that he was hanging on my every word, when it was obvious that he was actually watching you. I hope the feeling is mutual, Kathryn, because that man is playing for keeps."
"This first officer of yours," Uncle Len commented. "He was a Maquis, right? Good thing he's on our side again. His analysis of the Battle at Ansisla put the usual explanation to shame. He's a very impressive tactician."
It was Phoebe who surprised her the most. "Kathryn, I'm getting a divorce. Chakotay just took the lumps out of the gravy, recited a poem on blizzards, changed a poopy diaper, and rocked Terry's baby to sleep in less than ten minutes. A teething baby, Kathryn! With colic!"
"He's multi-talented all right. And I think dealing with me all those years prepared him for any tantrum a teething, colicky baby might throw."
"His dimples are irresistible. You're telling me that you two worked side-by-side for seven years without even one kiss?"
Kathryn nodded, a blush crawling up her neck. "Not even a real hug."
"Well, then, you ARE the ice queen. Even Mom can't resist him. She asked me if I thought he was too young for her."
Kathryn looked up to see Chakotay expertly carving a huge golden turkey that he had just hauled from the kitchen, laughing into Gretchen's adoring face as he placed each slice on the platter she held for him.
"He's probably telling her a tribal legend about his people's feasts, or carving turkeys, or blizzards." She lowered her voice. "He makes most of them up, you know."
"Who cares?" Phoebe sighed. "What a hunk!"
When the meal finally began, Kathryn and Chakotay found each other as they waited in line for their turn at the buffet table.
"I like the Janeways," he whispered in her ear. "But then, I thought I would."
She turned and studied his face, their eyes locked in a moment of clarity. "The feeling seems to be mutual, from all I've heard."
"There's really only one Janeway whose opinion matters."
"Oh, really?" she grinned. "And that would be?"
He leaned closer, and, for a moment, she thought he might kiss her. "It isn't Aunt Martha."
"Chak-ho-tay!" A small body wedged itself between them. "Help me get my dinner!"
They looked down into the shining face of Phoebe's three-year-old daughter, Amy, her red hair cascading down her back as she held an empty plate toward him. Chakotay picked her up, and she gave him a loud kiss on the cheek. "No veggables. And lots of cwanbewwy sauce."
Kathryn laughed. "As you can see, command comes naturally to Janeway females."
"So I noticed," he gave Amy a peck on the cheek. "Good thing I've always been partial to women with freckles."
Amy's arm snaked around his neck, pulling their faces close. "I like you. You're nice."
Kathryn clicked her tongue in mock disapproval. "I think I'd better tag along as a chaperone, just in case."
Later, as darkness fell, the relatives dispersed to their own homes, leaving Phoebe and her family, Gretchen, Kathryn and Chakotay to clean up what was left of the mess. Chakotay pitched right in, soon taking over the kitchen sink, washing a mountain of dishes, pots, and pans, and joining in on the singing of Christmas carols whenever he knew the words.
The children's excitement mounted as the time approached for the opening of presents, reaching a fevered pitch as they gathered around the huge Christmas tree and the mounds of gifts beneath its branches. Having learned to read that fall, Amy had the honor of serving as the "present elf," reading the name tags and proudly delivering each gift to the appropriate person. When she brought one to Chakotay, he gave Kathryn a worried look.
"You didn't mention a gift exchange," he whispered, holding up the package.
"Don't worry. You aren't expected to reciprocate. Just relax and enjoy."
They took turns opening the gifts, a process that let the little ones enjoy each toy for a short while before they ripped open the next one. It took over an hour, but Chakotay found that enjoyed watching each person react to his or her gift, and didn't mind being the center of attention when his turn came around.
Once they finished, Chakotay wore a new sweater that was so delightfully soft and warm that Amy gave up all her presents but a small doll and nestled into his chest. Kathryn modeled a new red silk blouse and tried not to feel too jealous of her niece's obvious attachment to her former first officer. Chakotay, on the other hand, was caught up in the way the silk blouse accentuated Kathryn's curves and brought out the blue in her eyes.
Everyone grew silent as the doorbell rang.
"Who could that be?" Phoebe's husband, Charles, headed for the door, returning moments later, barely able to see over a huge box that had been left on the front porch. "This is addressed to Chakotay."
"Oh, good. Right on time." Chakotay detached himself from the child and quickly opened the box, revealing a treasure trove of brightly-wrapped gifts. He pulled out one that was covered in red shiny paper. "Here's a present for Amy!"
Amidst the squeals of the children and the bemused surprise of the adults, Chakotay distributed a gift to every adult, and three to the children. Kathryn clutched his gift of an antique, leather-bound volume of love poetry as she watched Phoebe's three children climb all over him as if he were a piece of playground equipment.
"You didn't even hug him?" Phoebe leaned toward her, rolling her eyes. "I'd say it's about time."
"I'd say so, too." Kathryn laughed and shook her head in resignation. "I should have known better than to neglect him."
Chakotay peeked out from under the pile of squirming children, his eyes full of happiness and pleasure. "Red alert, Kathryn! I need someone to come to my rescue."
"Battle stations!" Kathryn answered as she joined the fun, soon finding herself pinned to the floor next to him. "Thank you," she said, giving him a quick peck on the cheek. "Thank you for being so thoughtful."
"Kathryn, it was my pleasure."
"Time for hot chocolate!" Gretchen announced from the kitchen bringing on another scramble as the children joined the adults in the next room, leaving Voyager's command team to pick themselves up from the floor and collapse on a sofa, grateful to have a moment to talk privately.
"I'm afraid I underestimated you," she said, snuggling into the soft warmth of his new sweater. "I'm going to have to stop doing that."
"As long as you keep on doing this, I'll be happy."
"Are you happy, Chakotay?" She looked up at him with tears in her eyes. "You deserve to be happy."
"I'm not just happy, Kathryn, I'm in blissfully happy."
"And you can put up with my family?"
"Our family. You can put up with them?"
"No problem." He shifted slightly, reaching into his pocket for a small black box. "Don't you think it's time you put on this ring and told them about tomorrow's wedding ceremony?"
"I think so." She laughed as he slipped the ring on her finger, and then she held it up to admire the way the tree lights sparkled in the diamond's facets. "I just hope Amy doesn't disown me for taking her man."
With a laugh and a quick hug, Kathryn stood up and pulled Chakotay to his feet. "We might as well get this over with."
"Shields to full power," he smiled down at her.
"Prepare for boarding!" she ordered, leading him toward the kitchen. "Hey, everybody, we have an announcement to make!"
Author's note: This story is dedicated to the memory of my dear friend Pongo, a fellow VAMBie and J/C fanatic who especially loved Chakotay. This is for you, Fiona—rest in peace.