Standing with her hands behind her back Seven of Nine took a deep breath and fought the human urge to sigh. Looking around she supposed that Neelix’s Christmas party on the holodeck could be considered a success by most of the crew. The air was a crisp and cold; snow covered the ground and had settled over the towering cedar trees. A huge bonfire drew most of the off-duty crew who took advantage of the cold to snuggle with their chosen companions. But Seven was completely bored. She was only here because the captain had made it clear that attendance was mandatory.
Surely she had fulfilled her required duty by now, the young woman thought. The captain had yet to show and Seven had hoped to glimpse the perfection that was Kathryn Janeway before she left, but she had reached her tolerance level for ‘fun’.
Just as the former drone had decided to return to cargo bay two the holodeck doors parted and Captain Janeway walked through. Seven watched as her eyes widened in surprised delight and she took a moment to scan the happy crowd. Crewmembers were throwing snowballs at each other, some were sledding and more were chatting happily while roasting marshmallows over the fire.
Slate-gray eyes came to rest on a reluctant blonde and Kathryn’s shoulders slumped slightly in resignation.
Seven noted that Janeway seemed to enjoy this celebrating as much as the others of the crew. The captain was dressed the part in a heavy parka with a simulated fur collar. A brightly colored scarf was wrapped around her neck and leather gloves covered her hands. Blue jeans and warm hiking boots completed the ensemble.
Eyeing Seven up and down Janeway sauntered up to the curvaceous blonde.
"You’re making me cold just by looking at you, Seven," the captain remarked; referring to the blue and gray bio-suit the former drone wore.
Raising an eyebrow at the teasing tone in her commanding officer’s voice Seven returned, "I fail to see how a visual observation of my appearance would chill you, Captain."
Janeway chuckled good-naturedly then gestured for the younger woman to follow her. Replicating a jacket for the Borg, Kathryn said, "I realize your suit regulates your body temperature, so just humor me. Honestly, Seven, didn’t anyone explain the nature of this party to you?"
"Actually, Captain, I researched the concept of Christmas extensively, but still do not understand its purpose."
Janeway patiently assisted her young friend into the warm garment, waiting until they were facing one another again before responding. "Walk with me, Seven. Look around."
Seven did as suggested, observing Ensign Megan Delany and Lieutenant Phillips kissing contentedly by the fire. Naomi Wildman screamed with delight as she ran from Harry Kim who was chasing the half-Katarian with a snowball.
"What am I supposed to be observing, Captain?"
Kathryn obtained two mugs of a steaming beverage from a picnic table and handed one to her companion before continuing their stroll.
"Christmas is about family, Seven. It’s about spending time with friends and loved ones. In some cultures gifts are exchanged as a token of affection. Generally," Kathryn said, coming to a stop beneath a copse of trees, "it’s about taking the time out of our busy schedules to acknowledge all we’ve been blessed with."
Seven quietly considered what Janeway was telling her. It was hard to believe that one occasion could represent so much, but if Captain Janeway said it was so then it must be. Seven trusted this one human above all others and knew the diminutive woman would not lead her astray. The deliciously smoky voice cut into her musings.
"That spiced cider you’re holding is my family’s traditional drink for this time of year. Just the scent of it can bring back so many wonderful memories."
Kathryn watched the play of emotions cross the aquiline features of her friend. Others might have sworn that no such thing occurred, but Kathryn’s heart had taught her to look closer.
"There’s another tradition that I’d like to acquaint you with," Kathryn said, gaining Seven’s curious attention just as she wondered if she really had the guts to go through with it.
She knew that the former Borg had feelings for her and that she returned those feelings. There had been too many encounters between the two for her not to know. And Kathryn Janeway was nobody’s fool. She had gotten to be captain by being more observant than her fellow officers and taking the lead where others would have balked. After all, she reasoned, what did she have to lose?
Pointing, Kathryn focused the younger woman’s gaze overhead. Seven observed a cluster of vegetation directly above them that was inconsistent with the barren winter landscape. Not understanding what possible correlation this greenery could have on the mystery of Christmas, Seven looked back at the captain in confusion.
"Mistletoe," Kathryn whispered.
Reaching up slowly, Kathryn gently cupped the back of the golden head. Tugging slightly she pulled Seven to her and gently brushed the full lips with her own. A shock of electricity shot through Kathryn’s veins, surprising her with its intensity. She pressed their lips together again, taking time to deepen the kiss and savor the softness and flavor of the sweet mouth.
A few moments later, Seven pulled away with a look of wonder on her face.
"Captain," she said in a husky voice, "I believe I am beginning to see the appeal of this holiday."
Bending down, Seven happily recaptured the deliciously sweet lips.