Author‘s note:  This story makes references to the Halloween story
"Masquerade", written by me and Amy.  Thanks to Niamh for the
translation of the title.
An Nollaig na Grá (Christmas of Love)
by Cheile

        Neelix whistled as he dug in a low cabinet.
        "Wha--oh, hello Captain.  I‘m sorry--I was searching for
something.  What did you need?"
        "Was I hearing things or were you whistling ‚Jingle Bells‘?"
Kathryn smiled.
        "Guilty!" Neelix said cheerfully.  "After the Halloween party, I
remembered that you mentioned the holiday Christmas.  I had a look
through the databanks and read up on it.  The files also includes
recordings of several old-fashioned musical pieces called ‚carols‘.  I
was whistling one of them.  You called it ‚Jingle Bells‘?"
        "That‘s right."  Then Kathryn took a closer look at the clutter
behind the counter--flour, sugar, chocolate chips, some unrecognizable
items, and what looked like a small plastic jar of red candy sprinkles.
"Neelix, are you Christmas baking?"
        "Guilty again.  It mentioned that baking of sweets was common.
I took a couple recipes and I‘m going to try them out.  Now if only I
could find the green sprinkles I replicated...."
        "Well then, I‘ll leave you to your project."
        Kathryn turned back around.
        "I was wondering if we could have a Christmas party."
        "I don‘t see why not.  I‘ll leave preparation up to you."
        Neelix rubbed his hands together in glee and bent down to look
in the cabinet again.  He needed those green sprinkles for his cookies.
After all, one couldn‘t have red without green at Christmas, now could
        (Two days later)
        "So, ‚Lan, are you going to the Christmas party Neelix is
throwing?" Joe Carey asked that day in Engineering.
        "Probably.  Are you?" B‘Elanna answered.
        "Of course.  I‘m taking Sam and Naomi."
        "You two are getting pretty chummy, aren‘t you?" B‘Elanna
        Joe‘s face reddened, but then he grinned wickedly at her.  "I
could say the same about you and a certain pilot.  If you don‘t mind my
asking, what are you getting him for his Christmas present?"
        "I don‘t know what to get him."  She dropped her gaze.  "I don‘t
have that much experience with giving gifts."
        Joe saw the hurt in her eyes and set a hand on her shoulder.
"If you need help, I can talk to Tom, see if I can find out something.
Then you can go from there."
        "I appreciate that, but you don‘t have to."
        "It‘s no trouble."
        "So what are you getting Samantha?"
        "I finally decided on a hardbound set of Shakespeare‘s
tragedies.  It includes Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet, King Lear, Julius
Caesar, and Titus Andronicus.  We‘ve already read Macbeth, King Lear is
her favorite, Othello is mine, and the other three she hasn‘t read yet."
        "Sounds good."  B‘Elanna glanced up as the doors opened, and saw
the second shift crew come in.  "You‘re off, so get out of here."  She
playfully slapped Joe‘s arm.  "Go wrap those books for Samantha."
        "Aye, Chief," he grinned.  Giving her a mock salute, he headed
out the door.
        (Christmas Eve)
        Seven stared quizzically at her reflection.  Ensign Kim had
suggested dark green, saying it was a Christmas color, but she still did
not comprehend what the point of this holiday was.  However, Halloween
had proved to be interesting.  Perhaps Christmas would as well.
        Settling herself into a chair, though she was still unused to
sitting, she waited for Ensign Kim.
        B‘Elanna headed for the holodeck.  She, of course, wanted to go
to the party, but was terribly self-conscious about her outfit.  What
would any of her crew say?
        The holodeck doors parted, letting her through.
        Neelix had obviously put a lot of work into programming this
setting.  The room was dominated by a dance floor, with chairs around
the edges.  A large brightly decorated Christmas tree sat in one corner,
a door near it that led into another room with a fireplace and couches,
and garland was draped all over the place.  "Carol of the Bells" was
playing in the background.  Windows were on the far side, and through
them, snow could be seen falling.
        Uncertain, she stood in the doorway for several seconds until
Neelix spotted her and came bustling over.
        "Merry Christmas Eve, Lieutenant," he said cheerfully.  "Would
you like anything?  Hot chocolate?  Eggnog?  A candy cane?"  He held one
out.  She took it and offered him a weak smile.  He smiled back.  "You
look very nice."
        "That‘s the understatement of the year," a voice said softly
from behind her.
        She turned.  Tom was standing there, a gentle smile on his face,
eyes full of wonder as he took in the sight of B‘Elanna in her crimson
velvet off-the-shoulder, floor-length gown, the color emphasizing her
beauty, candy cane in hand.  Of course, he didn‘t look too bad himself,
dressed in black slacks and a dark green silk shirt.
        "You look beautiful," he murmured, drawing her close to tenderly
kiss her.  She pulled away, blushing.  "Tom!"
        "Look up, ‚Lanna."
        B‘Elanna gaze drifted upwards to see what looked like a small
plant hanging over the doorway.  "What is that?"
        "Mistletoe.  Earth tradition says you‘re supposed to hang some
over a doorway and those who go under it get kissed."  He touched his
lips to her forehead.  Her blush deepened.  He grinned.
        "C‘mon."  He took her by the hand and led her into the other
room, where they sat down on one of the couches, near the warmth of the
fire.  Not sure what to say and still feeling shy, she looked down at
the candy cane.
        "B‘Elanna, are you all right?"
        She lifted her gaze to meet his.  "I‘m fine.  It‘s just that--"
She dropped her gaze again.
        "What?  Tell me," he said softly.
        "It‘s just that it‘s been so long since I‘ve celebrated
Christmas.  When I was small and my father was still around, we
celebrated it.  My mother even got into it, making a blood pie and
decorating it with holly leaves.  After he left, she refused to
celebrate it anymore.  There was so much that went by after he left.
Christmas, Easter, Cinco de Mayo, my birthday--"  She stopped.
        "You don‘t have to go on if you don‘t want to."
        She looked up at him.  "Thank you, Tom.  For listening to me."
        "It‘s all right.  That‘s what I‘m here for."  He took her in his
arms, resting his cheek atop her head, breathing in the scent of plasma
coolant mixed with her orchid perfume--the scent he loved, simply
because it belonged to her.
        "Are you ready to go out there?" he asked.
        She nodded and rose.  He took her hand in his and together, they
walked out into the main room.
        Much time had apparently passed, for the lights were down low
and some of the crew was already gone.  Others were dancing, including
Chakotay and Kathryn.
        "About time," B‘Elanna murmured to herself.
        "Chakotay and the captain.  It‘s about time they got together.
For too long, it seems, I‘ve watched the two look wistfully after the
other.  They finally found each other, and I couldn‘t be happier."  She
looked up at Tom.  "Except being with you, of course."
        He hugged her close.  "And I couldn‘t be happier than being with
        The song changed to "Silent Night", B‘Elanna‘s favorite carol.
He held her close as they danced and she sang along softly with the
        After "Silent Night", people began to break off into couples or
small groups and leave the party.  Tom and B‘Elanna were one of the last
ones to leave.
        "Let‘s go by my quarters.  I have to get something."
        When they reached his quarters, he stepped inside, leading her
into the darkened room.
        "Computer, lights."
        Instantly, the room was aglow.  When her vision cleared, she
realized that the bright colors were coming from a small, decorated tree
sitting in one corner of the room, lights twinkling.
        "Merry Christmas, B‘Elanna."
        She turned to him and smiled.  "This is so sweet of you.  Thank
        "Anything for you, ‚Lanna."  He glanced down at the box sitting
on his couch.  "Where did this come from?" he said aloud.
        She hid a smile--it was her present for him.
        Tom read the tag.  "Well, it has my name on it, so I guess I can
open it."  He pulled off the paper and opened the box, then looked up at
her.  "French poetry--B‘Elanna, how did you know?"
        "Do you remember talking with Joe Carey about books?"
        "Yes, he told me about the collection he got for Ensign
Wildman--"  He stopped, a grin spreading across his face.  "And I told
him I liked French poetry.  You had him ask me so you would know what to
        "I didn‘t know what you liked.  I don‘t have that much
experience with gifts."
        "That‘s all right.  This is perfect---thank you."  He kissed the
top of her head.  "Now if you look under the tree, you might find
something for you."
        She did so, and sure enough, there was a small, brightly wrapped
box with her name on the tag.  Returning to her place on the couch, she
looked at Tom uncertaintly.
        "Go ahead.  Open it."
        B‘Elanna slowly unwrapped the small box, her heart pounding.  It
couldn‘t be an engagement ring--could it?  They had only been dating for
six months--would he ask so soon?
        She opened the box and her eyes widened.  Slowly, she took out
the contents--a gold necklace with a small gold key hanging from it.
        "Do you like it?"
        "Yes, it‘s--it‘s beautiful."  Then her brow wrinkled in
puzzlement.  "But what is this key for?"
        Reaching beneath his shirt, Tom brought out a necklace of his
own.  Strung on the flat chain was a miniature heart-shaped lock.
        "The key to my heart," he said simply.
        B‘Elanna felt tears brimming in her eyes.  "Tom, I don‘t deserve
        "Yes, you do," he murmured.  Gathering her in his arms, he
kissed her tenderly again and again as tears coursed down her cheeks.
He rocked her, pressing his cheek against the top of her head.
        When her crying slowed, then ceased, he tilted her face up to
meet his eyes.  "My heart will always be yours."  Taking the necklace,
he fastened it around her neck, then brought his hand up to caress her
cheek.  "I love you, ‚Lanna."
        "I love you, too."
        "Computer, play ‚Silent Night‘, the Gaelic version, by Enya."
        And they listened to the timeless carol, watching the stars
streak by outside, wrapped in each other‘s arms.

Legal B.S.  Paramount‘s characters, my story.  "Silent Night" belongs to
whomever wrote it.  "Oiche Chuín", the Gaelic version, belongs to Enya.
Copyright December 10, 1997, by Cheile.  Comments?  Email me: