The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

By Seema

Author's note: Written for Jerie for the 2005 Holiday Ficathon; she requested the triplets and a holiday. In other words, they're baaack! Previous stories in this series (if I might call it that) are: And Baby Makes Five, The Symbols of Our Love, and Til Death Do Us Part.


Harry Kim had never liked space walking and had done just enough to pass his practical at the Academy with the minimum marks. So the fact he was dressed in his EVA suit, tethered to Voyager's hull, while holding a gigantic prickly Christmas wreath adorned with red and gold bows, when he could really be inside hanging mistletoe with his new wife, really, really irked Harry.

He tried to twist around to see what Tom was up to. It had been at least three minutes since he'd last seen or spoken to Tom.

"Tom?" Harry asked finally, his voice echoing inside the confines of his helmet. "Where are you?"

There was a pause and then Tom said, "I'm on the starboard nacelle."

Harry contemplated. He knew he could maneuver himself into position, but that would also mean letting go of the wreath. He also knew the Captain, who had used up a month's worth of rations to replicate the wreath, and was now reduced to eating field rations, would be very unhappy with him and maybe even demote him.

"Hurry up," Harry said, letting exasperation creep into his voice. "I could use a hand up here."

"How hard can it be to hang a *wreath*? You do it every year."

Harry, ignoring Tom's jibe, let himself drift towards the ship. Even though it was a fragile sense of security, he felt a thousand times better when he reached out and could touch Voyager with his gloved hand.

"The Captain seems to be--" Harry paused, trying to choose his next words very carefully; the Captain, after all, could be listening. "She's very into Christmas this year, very determined to make it the best Christmas *ever*. It's a lot of pressure to handle."

"No more pressure than being married to Seven."

"And this coming from someone married to a *Klingon*?" Harry snorted and in that moment of complacency, the wreath slipped off his arm and it was only with quick thinking that Harry managed to grab the red ribbon twined around the greenery and pull the wreath back towards him.

"Take it easy, Har," Tom said. "This is *tradition*."

"Tradition has been going on for three months now, Tom, and every year, it seems to start earlier and earlier," Harry said. Gripping the wreath tightly, he pulled himself closer to the ship's hull, and thankfully, managed to get traction with his magnetic boots. Harry walked gingerly across the surface, before getting to what Janeway had deemed the center of the ship's hull. Thankfully, he had marked the spot the previous year -- which had been an excruciating ordeal in measurement, with the Captain overseeing every single second of the wreath hanging -- so he didn't have to think too hard about where to hang the damn thing. The previous year, the Captain in the final throes of pregnancy, had shrieked in her newly acquired banshee tones, "No! Harry! I said to the *right*! A centimeter to the right! No, no, that's *two* centimeters. You need to move it to the left *one* centimeter." All told, he'd spent nearly three hours out in space before Janeway had been satisfied with the position of the wreath.

Tom sighed. "You're right. I suppose it's motherhood. Janeway's been talking about the triplets' first Christmas since the day they were born so that's probably why she wanted to get a head start on the festivities."

"As long as she doesn't spend it sulking," Harry said. He managed to grab the hook he'd affixed to Voyager's hull the previous year and gradually maneuvered himself into position. "I hate it when she locks herself into her quarters and refuses to come out or speak to anyone except Chakotay." He pondered for a moment. "I'm not sure which I prefer -- the morose Janeway or the micromanager festive Janeway."

"Careful, Har. She could be listening and you don't want to be demoted."

Harry scowled, but then a few minutes later, he triumphantly attached the wreath to the ship and his bad mood dissipated. He pumped his fist, all signs of space sickness suddenly gone, and then gradually loosened his tether. "Tom, I'm done." He managed to not gloat, though he was very tempted to. "I'm on my way down to where you're at." He floated in space for a minute, before making his way down to the nacelle where Tom was struggling with strings of lights. Tom looked relieved to see Harry.

"Give me a hand with these, will you?" Tom asked.

"Sure. You got the port nacelle done?"

"Yeah, but there's a burned out bulb *somewhere* in this string of lights, and I can't get the rest of the lights to work." Tom sighed in frustration. "Do you think the Captain will notice if only some of the lights on this nacelle work?"

Harry considered. The Captain *was* incredibly focused on Christmas this year, to the exclusion of all else, but at the same time, he was sick of being in his EVA suit, and really, if the Captain wanted to decorate Voyager in lights and greenery, shouldn't she be the one out here doing all the work? And really, wasn't it enough that they'd strung thousands of kilometers worth of lights throughout Voyager's corridors, and that every door was decked out in mistletoe and holly, not to mention the little red velvet ribbons that adorned every turbolift touchpad? And if she really cared, wouldn't she have been micro-managing the decorating process rather than leaving them on their own?

"She won't notice," Harry said with confidence he didn't feel. And then before, Tom could object, Harry said, "Voyager, two to beam in."

A second later, they were in Voyager's transporter room, and Harry let out a shaky sigh of relief. He removed his helmet, and took a nice big gulp of re-circulated oxygen. In the background, Christmas carols played over the comm system. Unfortunately, Voyager only had about six carols in its library, and those six -- which included such classics as "All I Want For Christmas is a Hippopotamus," "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer," and "The Christmas Shoes" -- had been playing on repeat since Prixin (the decorations for which, incidentally, could still be found scattered throughout the ship. Harry had once suggested combining Prixin with Christmas for a Chrisprix celebration, but a scathing look from Janeway had killed that idea).

Harry nodded a greeting to Ayala, who was dressed in a Santa suit. "Thanks for bringing us back," he said.

"No problem. I'm just glad I'm not the one who has to go out there," Ayala said, as he took a sip of his drink. It was clear from his ruddy complexion and enthusiastic tone of voice that Ayala really, really enjoyed his drink. "I certainly don't envy you guys for taking on the task of decorating the whole ship."

"It's *tradition*," Tom said, but his tone didn't sound very convincing to Harry.

"Still, it seems like all you guys do is decorate this place," Ayala said. "First Prixin, now Christmas, and isn't there some other holiday going on now? Something Bajoran? Maybe the Borg have something going on? Wouldn't that be cool, a *Borg* holiday? I wonder what that would be like."

"Borg don't have holidays, they assimilate them," Tom said, looking quite pleased with his joke. "Besides, the Captain has decided it's going to be all Christmas all the time, and we only have *one* Borg on the ship so--"

"There *is* the Borg baby--"

"Is that eggnog you've got there?" Harry asked Ayala in an effort to change the subject. He'd heard this argument about which holidays should be celebrated aboard Voyager at least a thousand times and Harry was heartily sick of it. "I heard earlier Neelix was mixing up a batch."

"Yeah. If you hurry to the mess hall, there's probably some left. Last I heard, Tuvok put on his elf costume and is serving up the eggnog."

"Tom, do you want--" Harry stopped, noting with concern that Tom looked mildly green in the face.

"Excuse me." Tom rushed towards the doors, and Harry, realizing where his friend was going, dashed after him.

"Hey," Harry called as Tom nearly bumped into a holographic representation of the ghost of Christmas past in the corridor. "Are you going to be all right?"

"It's just space sickness," Tom said. "I'll be fine--" he paused to let the ghost of Christmas future pass by "-- as soon as I get a hypo. You'd better go see what the Captain and Chakotay need."

"Do I have to?" Harry didn't mean to whimper, but he couldn't help himself. "I'd better come to Sickbay with you. You don't look so good." He didn't want for Tom to answer, and instead followed his friend down the corridor and into Sickbay. The minute they entered though, Harry knew he had made a terrible mistake. "Uh…"

Tom gripped Harry's arm. "You can't let me go in there by myself. If you're any kind of friend, Harry--"

Harry shrugged off Tom's grip. "You know, I really should see what Seven--"

But it was too late. The current Sickbay occupants -- the Captain, her husband, and their triplets, and the Doctor -- had already seen them. Weakly, Harry followed Tom towards a biobed.

"Is everything all set with the exterior hull decorations?" the Captain asked sharply. She was currently dressed in a little red dress trimmed with white fur. Her outfit was complemented by candy-cane earrings, and knee-high black boots with gold buckles.

"Just as you wanted it," Harry said, amazing himself with how easily the lie came out of his mouth. The Captain looked satisfied.

"I apologize for not being able to monitor the progress myself," she said, "but Taya accidentally swallowed some of the mistletoe." She gestured toward the toddler dressed in a red velvet dress edged with lace. Taya smiled beatifically at Harry and Tom, seemingly unaware of the distress she had apparently caused her mother. Meanwhile, in the background, Chakotay -- dressed in a green flannel outfit, complete with tights and pointed black patent shoes -- was busily entertaining the other two triplets and at the same time, sipping out of a goblet filled with a creamy colored liquid.

"My people have a legend," he said in a sing-song voice. "There were once a tribe who did not have shoes and then at Christmas--"

"*Please*, Chakotay," Janeway said huffily. "Every year you tell this story and I *still* don't understand what shoes have to do with anything." She gestured at Taya. "Your daughter is SICK from eating mistletoe and all you can do is talk about stupid legends?" She frowned as "Santa Baby" started playing on the comm system.

"Well, I *specifically* told you mistletoe was a bad idea," Chakotay shot back. "But no, you had to go and replicate bushes and bushes worth of the stuff and then order Seven of Nine to hang it from every single door jamb on the ship. Have you noticed the crew hasn't stopped making out since you hung the mistletoe?"

"Well, at least everyone is *happy*, which is more than I can say you make *me* feel!"

Harry took the opportunity to nudge Tom in the direction of the hypo cabinet. "Hurry up," Harry said, "while they're still fighting." He glanced over his shoulder. Maybe there was time to slip out while the Captain and Chakotay were distracted.

"This coming from the man who thinks it's a good idea to spread rose petals all over the ship?" Janeway asked, her voice raising to glass shattering levels.

"I do that for you!" Chakotay cried. "To show you just how devoted I am to you, my flame!"

"Please. I'm the captain of the ship, not your flame. You *have* to be devoted to me. I *order* you to be devoted to me." The Captain squared her shoulders and struck a regal pose. Chakotay looked like he was ready to cry, but then Taya, sensing the tension, burst into noisy tears. Harry and Tom inched towards the door, but the Doctor stopped them.

"Gentlemen, didn't you agree to decorate the holiday tree--"

"*Christmas* tree! It's a *Christmas* tree!" Janeway shrieked.

The Doctor glanced at Janeway wearily and then back at Harry and Tom. "As I was saying, gentlemen, did you not agree to decorate the *Christmas* tree--" he gestured towards the back corner of Sickbay, where a gigantic spruce sat, shedding pine needles all over the red velvet skirt spread at its base "-- before the end of the day?"

"Well, we also promised B'Elanna we'd decorate the warp core with garlands of holly and ivy," Tom said slowly, "and you know how her temper is, now that she's two years pregnant…"

"I thought she wanted us to use tinsel," Harry said. He frowned. "I replicated at least fifty pounds of the silver stuff."

"That was before *your* lovely wife declared tinsel as a fire hazard and *refused* to allow it near the warp core. Do you know how long it took me to calm B'Elanna down after *that*?" Tom asked. He turned his attention back to the Doctor. "Either way, I'm afraid we're going to have to give B'Elanna's request priority, Doctor."

"Not so fast, Fly Boy!" Janeway whirled upon the two subordinates with alacrity, husband and child forgotten. "Christmas trees *must* take priority. What is Christmas without a tree?" And without warning, Janeway burst into her off-key rendition of *her* favorite carol, "Oh Tannenbaum." Suddenly, all three babies were wailing in concert with their mother, and the Doctor looked simply pained as the Captain sang with gusto, "O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum! du kannst mir sehr gefallen!" Chakotay merely plucked a candy cane from a basket on the Doctor's desk, and began sucking on it, seemingly oblivious to everything going on. On the last verse, the Doctor joined in, and gestured to Tom and Harry to do the same.

"O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum! Das soll dein Kleid mich lehren," they -- with the exception of the disgruntled Chakotay -- sang in unison. At the conclusion, Harry and Tom politely clapped.

"Very nice," Harry said weakly.

"I have a wonderful idea! You will all have to join me for the Holiday -- I mean, Christmas -- Carol sing-along this evening here in Sickbay," the Doctor said. Harry was about to object, but Tom kicked him in the shin.

"We'll be happy to," Harry squeaked out.

"And bring Seven as well. She has such a *beautiful* singing voice," the Doctor said with no attempt to disguise his adoration and admiration of Harry's wife. "As everything about her is *so* perfect."

Harry blanched, but managed to say, "I will certainly mention the sing-along to her."

"We can't have a sing-along without a Christmas tree!" Janeway cried. Tears streamed down her face. She sat down heavily on the biobed.

"We didn't say we wouldn't decorate it," Harry said haltingly. "It's just the list of things we need to do in anticipation of Christmas is so long and we're just trying to figure out the best and most *efficient* way--" he paused as Janeway's sobs grew louder. In the background, Chakotay continued to munch on his candy cane. Harry gave up. "All right, all right." He looked at Tom who was looking considerably recovered from his space walk experience. "We'll decorate the warp core later, and we'll do the Christmas tree *now*." He walked slowly over to the basket of decorations at the base of the tree and lifted out a garland of popcorn and cranberries and halfheartedly, draped it around the tree. Meanwhile, Chakotay had started hiccoughing.

"Harry," Tom said in a low voice. He gestured towards the Captain. "Shouldn't we do something to cheer her up?"

"I thought that's what decorating the tree is for. She'll feel better when she realizes we are all one thousand percent dedicated to making this the best Christmas ever for her, the triplets and then there's --" Harry counted off the senior staff on his fingers and then said slowly "-- the two of us who celebrate the holiday."

"Don't forget Ayala or the Delaneys. We promised to meet them in the holodeck for a party later tonight."

"Oh right, okay, then *five* of us, plus the Captain and the triplets." Harry hung a little figurine of a skiing Santa on the tree. "Don't worry about the holiday too much, Tom. We'll pull it off. We always do."

"I know, but--" Tom looked worried "-- you know how depressed she can get…"

"Yes, I *know*. We *all* know." Harry glanced pointedly in Chakotay's direction. "Do you want to give us a hand over here, Commander?"

Chakotay, in sleep-walking fashion -- dropped his candy cane on the floor, where it promptly disappeared under a layer of rotting rose petals and leaves, and made his way to the tree. He slurped the remainder of his drink and then tossed it in the direction of the Christmas tree; it landed with a clank near the wall, and then rolled a little ways toward the tree. From that angle, the goblet seemed to radiate light, and Chakotay was transfixed.

"My people have a legend about light. I like light," he said in a dreamy voice.

"Hell with the legend," Tom said grumpily. "We're trying to save Christmas." He glanced over his shoulder at the Captain who was still crying. Tom handed Chakotay a string of colored lights. Harry quickly hung the remaining candy canes on the branches, but not before Chakotay nearly knocked over the tree; pine needles and sap went everywhere. Harry sighed.

"Obviously, your people don't have a legend on how to properly decorate a Christmas tree," Harry said, not bothering to conceal his irritation.

"My light is the flame, a burning light in the distance." Chakotay hiccoughed again, and Tom stared at the first officer with some concern.

"Um, Harry," Tom said slowly," what was Chakotay drinking earlier?"

"Eggnog, pretty much the same as everyone else on the ship." Harry pondered for a moment and then lowered his voice. "Do you think our first officer is under the influence?"

Tom jerked a thumb back at the Captain and her brood. "Wouldn't you be?"

Harry had to admit Tom had a point, but right now, he was more concerned about Voyager being flown while under the influence. With Tom's help, he hauled Chakotay to another biobed. The first officer had now launched into a slurred version of "The Christmas Shoes": "Shir, I wanth to buy deese shoes for my Mahmaa, pwease it's Chwistmas Eve and deese shoes are jus' her size. Could you hurreeeeee, shir--" Chakotay stopped as Tom pressed a hypo into his arm. "Ah. Harry, Tom, nice to see you. Did I ever share with you the legend of my people about shoes at Christmas time?"

"Yes," Harry said with a little more sharpness than prudent, given the fact he was addressing a senior officer. "Commander, I think the Captain needs your, um, attention over there." He pointed to a still sobbing Janeway, and all of the triplets were wailing at the top of their lungs, their little faces red with exertion, and their noses overflowing with snot. Chakotay sprung to action, looking extremely efficient. Harry made a mental note that when the holiday was done with, he'd recommend laying off the eggnog for next year.

He and Tom quickly finished decorating the tree, and by the time they were finished, the triplets were blowing little salvia bubbles, and trying to eat their own feet, and the Captain and her first officer were making out, heavily, in the corner of the Sickbay. Meanwhile, the Doctor was sitting at his desk, legs propped up, hands behind his head, looking very smug. Harry nudged Tom.

"You know," he said in a low voice, "if we hurry, there's probably some eggnog left in the mess hall."

Tom nodded. "Tuvok in his elf costume and Neelix as Santa Claus, well, those are the highlights of the year. It's practically better than our weekly match-up with the Borg!" Then Tom's expression changed. "We probably shouldn't though. We have to decorate the warp core next."

"Actually, it might be the *perfect* time for an eggnog break." Harry looked meaningfully at his friend. The previous year, the warp decorations had *not* any more fun than hanging the damn wreath on the hull. B'Elanna had been very exacting about how her warp core was to be treated, and because she wanted to give equal honor to a minor Klingon holiday which fell around the same time as Christmas, Tom and Harry had been forced to balance bat'leth hanging with the traditional holly and ivy -- all without damaging the delicate material that contained the blue shimmery stuff that pulsated within. It had been a fierce balancing act, and Harry had sure been glad when it was all over with. This year, he expected more of the same, especially with B'Elanna being two years' pregnant and in a foul mood approximately 99.9 percent of the time. "What do you say, Tom?"

"I think you're probably right," Tom said slowly. He didn't blink as the ghost of Christmas present glided past them. "This would be a *great* time for a break."


"Lead the way, Harry. I'm right behind you."

They were halfway down the corridor, when a thought occurred to Harry.

"If you and I are responsible for most of the decorations, and the Captain, Chakotay and the Doctor are in Sickbay--" Harry paused as a leftover Prixin decoration caught his eye "-- and Tuvok and Neelix are in full costume in the mess hall, Seven's hanging mistletoe over every doorway, and B'Elanna's in Engineering overseeing the warp core decoration preparations--" he glanced at Tom with sudden fear. "Who's in charge of the ship?"

Tom clapped Harry on the back and steered him strongly towards the turbolift. "It's better not to ask, my friend. Better not to ask."

~ the end

Back to Seema's Fanfic Page

Feedback welcome at or in my LJ.