The greenish glow that emanated from the Borg alcoves was slightly alleviated this morning by the competing red, yellow and blue lights twinkling from around the edges of all the surfaces near where the five ex-Borg regenerated. The usual quiet of the room was also being encroached upon by the whispered comments and half controlled giggles that were coming from the two person redecoration crew, Neelix and Naomi Wildman.
"Will the tree be here soon?" Naomi questioned for the fourth time in eight minutes.
"Shhhh." Cautioned the Talaxian casting a glance towards the eldest of the alcoves residence to make sure she was still sleeping before, in a very quiet voice, he replied. "They said it would be here by 0800 hours, that's still five minutes away. According to Harry the lack of suitable trees in the hydroponics bay means they're having to build an alternate type tree, whatever that means. Don't worry I'm sure it'll be here in plenty of time."
Satisfied for the moment Naomi went back to securing the tiny lights to the Borg console, her excitement at bringing Christmas to the other children and even more so her friend Seven, made the young girl just want to shout out her 'Merry Christmas' in a loud cheerful voice there and then, but she knew that having the tree in place would make all the difference, not to mention there were other guests who would be less than pleased if she spoiled the surprise. The idea for the Christmas surprise had originally been Naomi's, her mother had introduced her to the festival their second year onboard and it had soon become her favourite holiday, so she had gone to Neelix with the idea of bringing the spirit of the season to the newly arrived Borg, not to mention the presents and glitteringly colourful decorations.
The senior staff soon become involved and plans were drawn up for keeping the inquisitive former Borgs from finding out what was going on. Captain Janeway had informed Seven that several members of the Gamma shift would need to work in cargo bay 2 that morning, so she and the children should disregard any slight noise that might occur, the last thing they needed was for all the ex-Borg to wake and enquire what they were doing as soon as the decorations started going up. Harry Kim had been entrusted with procuring a tree under which they planned to lay all the presents, and when a natural tree was unavailable he had called on the help of B'Elanna Torres to construct one, the nature of which Naomi was still rather concerned about. The presents had been more of a group effort, Tom Paris had been working diligently on making tiny interactive holo-images for each of the children, similar to his beloved game from childhood. Chakotay had decided to add a little spirituality into what was after all a religious occasion, but instead of just concentrating on the one Earth religion that Christmas related to he incorporated several different forms of belief, all centred around individuality, love and things non-Borg, into a set of story books. Janeway had added paints, charcoals and other artistic materials to the growing present list, hoping to encourage the former Borg's imaginations. B'Elanna, Tuvok and the Doctor had all been working together on the most complex of gifts, the one for Seven, which was a set of puzzles. The idea behind the puzzles was for them to stretch Seven's mental and emotional abilities, so instead of them just being simple logic problems that the highly intelligent woman would have little or no problem dealing with, they incorporated several different levels of reasoning and understanding.
As well as all the presents Neelix, Harry and Samantha Wildman had been busy in the kitchen working on food for the holiday. Their ideas were slightly hampered by the Doctor's list of ingredients that might prove unsuitable for the ex-Borg, Seven in particular had gone without ingesting food for such a long time that her stomach was still proving sensitive to many substances, but the three happy chefs just took this as a challenge to their culinary skills and spent many a happy hour trying out recipes before they came upon the perfect menu of treats.
At the sound of the cargo bay doors opening Naomi lifted her head from securing the last light to the underside of Mitzoti's alcove, and saw what she could only describe as a monstrosity entering the large room.
"What is that?" She hissed to Neelix as they both rushed towards the thing.
"I don't know." The optimistic little man stood for a moment trying to think of something good to say about what Harry and B'Elanna were busy wheeling into the room, but for once even he was unable to look on the bright side. The object was tall, at least eight feet, and a blackish brown colour that did little to make it welcoming, the twisted pointy appendages that seemed to strike out in all directions reminiscent of children's nightmares. "What is that?" Neelix asked the two carriers, secretly hoping it was some alien artefact the Captain had ordered stored in the very back of the room.
"It's the tree." Harry beamed, as if unaware he'd confused Christmas with Halloween and wasn't meant to be frightening everyone.
"It's horrible." Naomi squealed. "You can't put that up."
"It'll be fine." B'Elanna assured her and proceeded to wheel the thing toward the open space to the side of the alcoves.
Neelix and Naomi shared a worried look, both knew about the animosity that had until recently coloured the relationship between B'Elanna and Seven, and hoped this wasn't the engineers way of spoiling the surprise. She had, however, been working furiously on preparing Seven's present, and been very supportive of the celebration from the beginning, plus both knew it wasn't in her nature to be so spiteful or dishonourable. Turning to take another look at the monster masquerading as a tree the two tried hard to imagine the thing being seen as anything other than an eyesore, they couldn't, but Harry's smiling face made both wonder if maybe they had missed some nuance of the Christmas tradition which called for the most unattractive tree possible.
"It is, well it is rather off putting to look at." Neelix mentioned diplomatically.
"Just wait." B'Elanna and Harry shared a conspiratorial smile.
Standing by, the two person decoration committee watched as the tree was manoeuvred into position, its bulk obscuring part of the cargo bay and adding a sense of gloom to the otherwise festive room. They continued to watch as minute adjustments were made to the trees position, as if any amount of manoeuvring could make the thing pleasant to the eye.
"I think that's it." Harry whispered eventually, the smile still plastered to his face.
Coming to join the other three B'Elanna nodded her agreement before pulling a small device from the waistband of her trousers, both Starfleet officers having arrived in civilian attire, then held the device out to Naomi. "Press the middle button." B'Elanna whispered to the child, her eyes staying with the young half Katerian as the darkly imposing tree was transformed with the press of a button into a mass of shimmering lights, spreading a warm glow throughout the room. The corresponding glow that lit up Naomi's face was more than enough reward for the hours B'Elanna had spent with Harry working on the engineered tree, and made her anxious to see the other children's reactions to their hard work, not to mention Seven's.
"It's beautiful." Came Naomi's awed voice, followed by a fierce hug for both B'Elanna and Harry, which inspired a similar thought in both their minds, 'I wonder if Seven will hug me too?'
"Quite something." Neelix agreed, then proceeded to communicate with the rest of the partygoers that the time had come for them to bring in the presents and food.
As if they had been waiting outside the doors the senior staff and Sam Wildman came silently into the room, all weighed down with gifts or plates of food. Neelix as party organiser set about directing everyone into place, while Naomi and B'Elanna arranged the presents beneath the tree. Soon they were ready, and taking positions behind the various consoles and crates in the cargo bay awaited the end of the Borg's regeneration cycle. Janeway had given the computer special instructions to turn off all lights in the cargo bay, including those from the alcoves, as soon as regeneration was complete. Then even with Borg assisted eyesight the five wouldn't be able to see anything until the lights on the tree were switched back on, followed closely by the smaller lights around the room.
"What's taking so long?" Tom questioned Tuvok, the helmsman had become rather excited by the prospect of a party and was anxious to see how the children liked his presents.
"The time allotted for the regeneration cycle does not finish for another 43 seconds." Tuvok was the only one of the party not consumed with excitement at that moment, but even he registered a certain degree of, purely logical he was sure, anticipation for the upcoming events.
"Shhh." Janeway chastised, and silence overtook the cargo bay.
'24, 23, 22, 21.' B'Elanna began counting under her breath, her eyes fixing on the form of Seven of Nine, hoping to catch the first unguarded reaction to the surprise, aware that within moments the usual Borg stoicism would settle itself onto the beautiful face, masking Seven's true feelings.
"Regeneration cycle complete." Came the feminine tones of the computer voice, and with it the extinction of all light in the cargo bay.
"There appears to be a malfunction with my ocular device." Icheb's reasonable voice was the first to be heard.
"I can't see." Added Mitzoti.
B'Elanna gave a squeeze to Naomi's arm and the young girl again pressed the button to light the tree. The shimmering lights drew the attention of all the ex-Borg and in the minimal illumination B'Elanna was sure she saw the beginnings of tears in Seven's eyes. The other Christmas lights soon joined those of the tree, and standing up from their various hiding places the crew shouted out "Merry Christmas!" Much to the astonishment of the bemused ex-Borg.
"Captain?" Seven raised an enquiring ocular implant at Janeway.
Janeway walked over to take the younger woman by the arm, leading her towards the tree and presents, and smiling warmly at her friend explained. "Its the children's first Christmas onboard Voyager Seven, and we wanted to make it special for them, and you."
"None of the children are Human Captain, they do not celebrate Christmas."
"Well then just think of it as our way of including them in our culture and customs." Janeway added logically, then witnessing Azan and Rebi staring wide eyed at the array of presents added. "Besides its a time for children, let them enjoy it."
Chakotay and Neelix quickly had everybody in place, sitting on the various cushions that had been placed in a semicircle around the tree. The only person who seemed reluctant to take their place was Seven, the young woman was maintaining a position slightly away from the others observing the event as if it were a science experiment. Noticing this, and the impatient look on Chakotay's face as he prepared to start explaining what was happening to the children, B'Elanna gave him a signal to carry on, while she made her way over to the tall blonde.
"Is something wrong?" B'Elanna whispered, trying not to disturb the story Chakotay was unfolding before his rapt audience.
"Oh sure." Came the sarcastic retort, then deciding on a change of tactics B'Elanna placed her arm around Seven's waist and giving it a gentle squeeze tried again. "What's wrong Seven? We planned this as a surprise for you, a happy one."
"I." Seven was somewhat distracted by the contact with the other woman, and allowed her body to relax into the hold. "I remember Christmas."
B'Elanna started a slow massage of Seven's lower back, hoping to comfort the young woman through what must be painful memories. "Was it a bad time?"
"No." The slow tingling sensations in her back were becoming more and more distracting, and unable to stop herself Seven reached up to place her own arm around the half Klingon. "I can remember a time with my parents, before the Borg, they gave me presents and we all sat round singing songs and playing games. I was happy then, I was laughing." Seven's voice caught, and she took a moment to continue. "I miss them, I miss the years I could have spent with them if not for the Borg, and their own obsession."
Unmindful of the others sitting only feet away B'Elanna took hold of Seven in a tight embrace, whispering in her ear. "I'm sorry. I wish I could make it better for you." Then depositing a tiny kiss to her cheek.
"You already are." Seven answered honestly, her earlier melancholy lifting with the feel of being held by this one special woman.
B'Elanna moved slightly so she was directly infront of Seven, their faces only inches apart. "Think of this, of today, as the beginning of more happy times, with this your new family." Looking at the full lips barely a movement away B'Elanna yearned to reach out and kiss them, but she held back not wanting to take advantage further of what was an emotional time for the former drone.
Seven nodded, scared her voice would betray her tumbling emotions, only to have a tear escape to role down her cheek, where it was kissed away by the other woman, who then looked startled by her own actions. Smiling more radiantly than ever before Seven leaned forward and captured B'Elanna's lips in a loving kiss, which was returned with equal love and attention by the delighted Klingon. Ending the kiss Seven brought her hand up to trace the ridges of B'Elanna's brow, continuing the feathery touch across her cheek and passed her lips to rest at the base of her neck. "The beginning of very happy times."
B'Elanna nodded before capturing Seven's lips in another final kiss before they parted, and with happy smiles brightening both their faces joined the others around the tree.
Chakotay gave a silent prayer of thanks as the two women joined the group, from his position infront of the others, he had been aware of what appeared to be going on between the two and had tried his best to keep the others from turning their way. He could just imaging Mitzoti or one of the twins interrupting his story to enquire why the two women were kissing, and if that were a part of the Christmas tradition. Although there was nothing wrong with the two sharing a quiet moment together, and personally he was happy they seemed to have found one another finally, he didn't think either would welcome the close scrutiny on something so personal. So putting aside his dignity he had leapt into the story of ancient times and religious awakenings with much arm flailing and odd sounding effects to keep his audience riveted, the spiritual side of him hiding its head in shame at the rather cavalier approach he was taking to someone else's beliefs.
Chakotay's story finished Kathryn took charge of handing out the presents, the ones they had all worked on for Seven and the Borg children were joined by similar ones for Naomi, the young girls face lighting up at being included in this part of the celebration. Tom had displayed the more caring and thoughtful side of his nature by sitting patiently with the children and explaining the intricacies of their new holo-image games, then once joined by Harry turning back into a kid himself as they all started to play the game. The Doctor moved around the group capturing the occasion on his own holo-camera for future reference, his excitement growing with each shot to rival that of anyone. Neelix and Sam sat by the food table, it was still too early for the main meal they had prepared, but smaller delicacies had been arranged as an alternative to the traditional breakfast. Filling up the plates they proceeded to hand them around to all the guests, the Borg contingent looking somewhat alarmed at first by the oddly shaped treats until they were reassured by the others of there non-toxic nature.
Seven was standing near to the children as Tuvok explained to her the nature of the puzzles she had been given. They were soon joined by Kathryn, Chakotay and B'Elanna, the later of which then proceeded to interrupt Tuvok's explanation with a more excited one of her own. The Vulcan took the interruptions well, unknown to Chakotay he had turned to look in the two women's direction during the story and understood the Human, or even half Human need to impress or excite those people they were attracted to.
"So Seven was this a surprise?" Kathryn asked once the dual puzzle instructions had ceased.
"Yes Captain, I was totally unaware of the plans."
"But are you enjoying the surprise?" She tried to clarify.
"I am alarmed by the fact I was so easily fooled by your 'surprise'." An ocular implant rose in consternation, "but I am very much enjoying my first real Christmas Day with my new family." Here Seven looked over at B'Elanna trying to convey her feeling of happiness to the other woman, and from the wide smile she received in return gauged her intentions successful.
"I'm so glad." Kathryn gave Seven a tiny sisterly kiss to the cheek.
"Seven!" "Seven?" The group were interrupted by Naomi and Mitzoti carrying their games. "Come and play with us." Naomi pleaded, her words backed up by a beseeching look from the young Borg girl.
"I will join you momentarily." Seven said sternly, before reaching down to ruffle both girls hair with a mischievous smile, the gesture having been one she'd remembered her father performing on that Christmas Day so long ago. Straightening their hair and trying to look annoyed and grown up, the two obviously happy girls rejoined the other children.
Seeing Neelix and Sam approaching with yet more food Seven motioned for them to join the group. "There is one thing I would like to say about today's events." The relaxed woman of mere moments before was suddenly replaced by the straight backed Borg they all new, and many in the small group began to worry about what she would say next. "Thank you." Turning to join the children she stopped and looking back her eyes captured each one in turn before settling on those of B'Elanna. "And Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas Seven."
The End....but only the beginning of a wonderful day.
Return to Voyager Fiction
Return to Main Page