The Neelix Claus
by Suz

Disclaimer - Characters are Paramounts. Bah, humbug.

Someone said that as I was offline for nine days I owe you four stories. I have some catching up to do :)

I can't decide if I should write a sequel to this or leave it as it is. Opinions?


"Captain...I have a favour to ask."

Kathryn Janeway looked up from the padd she was reading, taking a sip from the mug of coffee she held in her other hand. "Go ahead," she told him after swallowing the liquid, noticing for the first time since he entered her ready room his rather worried expression.

Neelix's fingers interlaced across his stomach and he rocked on the balls of his feet. " know it's Christmas tomorrow?"

She smiled, genuinely happy. "Of course."

"I've been planning something for the crew, but I injured my back moving some storage containers about in the cargo bay." Lifting his hands to wave off her response, he continued "I know, I should have been more careful, as the Doctor told me many times when he treated me." Pausing, he licked his lips. He was clearly reaching his 'favour'. "The point is, although he treated me, he also told me to take it easy with my back for the next few days. As you're the Captain, I know I can trust you."

Placing the padd down on the table and leaning forward, Kathryn spoke. "Trust me to what?"

He grinned feebly. "Well..."


Ho ho ho indeed.

Neelix was going to owe her a very big favour for this one.

Grunting, moaning and sweating, she crawled along the Jeffries Tube wishing she could take her clothes off. They were far too hot. But he'd absolutely insisted that she had to wear them the whole time.

Why was she doing this? She had reports to read, reports to make, a ship to run. Yet there was some kind of elementary fun to the whole situation, even though she wasn't sure that she was the one who should be doing it.

Not having much of a chance to plan about how she was going to get it all done in time, she started thinking about it now as she made her slow progress. The main problem was the shift rotations. One third of the crew would be off duty, one third would be on duty, and one third would be asleep. Those on duty wouldn't be a problem, and most of those asleep probably wouldn't be either. As for the others....that's why she had brought the tricorder. Before she went into someone's quarters she would scan for lifesigns. If someone was there and awake she'd come back later.

It would be so much easier just to beam them in, or leave them outside the doors to their quarters, but again the Talaxian had insisted.

Reaching an intersection in the Jeffries Tube, Kathryn used the diversion as a brief respite, wishing for once that all she had was a glass of ice cold tea.

The doors leading to the Jeffries Tube directly opposite her started to open. Her mouth opening with horror, Kathryn grabbed the bag she'd been dragging with her in one hand, while the other moved even faster to the console next to the door, preventing it from opening all the way. She heard the voices throught the crack where it had opened slightly.

"What's taking so long Vorik?"

B'Elanna! Oh Good Lord...

"I am not certain Lieutenant. I am having difficulties in getting the door to open."

Placing the bag softly on the floor, Kathryn kept overiding Vorik's instructions, while her now free right hand worked on the console next to the Jeffries Tube to her right. It took her a little longer than she wanted as she had to the programme the doors to close as soon as she dived through. They opened on her command so she quickly shoved the bag in as far as she could. Finally she dived through the entrance as she removed her left hand from the other console, hoping that the sound of their door opening would mask the sound of hers closing.

She didn't hang around to find out. As soon as the doors closed behind her she grabbed the bag and scurried as best she could in the ridiculous outfit.


Back at the intersection, Vorik and B'Elanna stared at each other, then back at the object that was lying on the floor. Pulling out his tricorder, Vorik took a scan.

"What is it?" B'Elanna asked, almost afraid to touch it.

"There is no need for concern Lieutenant," he informed her, closing the tricorder and hooking it back on his hip. Reaching down, he picked the object up by the white, apparently hairy area. "It is a hat."


Kathryn grimaced. Neelix would just have to do without his hat in the future. He could always replicate a new one anyway.

Seven minutes after the close encounter in the Jeffries Tube, Kathryn found herself next to an access panel that would lead into the Wildman's quarters. Scanning through the metal with her tricorder, Kathryn detected two life signs - both asleep. Quickly opening the panel and crawling through, she emerged into the Wildman's bathroom. Pulling the bag out with her, she gratefully stood as she rubbed her aching back with her right hand. How was she going to last all night? Her mouth set in a grim line. By using that Janeway determination.

It didn't take very long to find Samantha's and Naomi's presents, and soon Kathryn was tiptoeing towards their respective bedrooms. There was no problem with Samantha's present, but as she placed Naomi's present by the foot of her bed the young girl began to stir.

Rather than do the obvious thing - leave the room or duck - Kathryn froze. She couldn't help it. It was instinctive reaction natural to all humans. Only it was highly doubtful that lack of motion was going to prevent Naomi from seeing her if she woke up.

She didn't. Muttering something, Naomi sighed loudly in her sleep then turned over, crushing her Flotter doll beneath her small form.

Almost sighing herself, Kathryn quickly left the room and then their quarters.


It was several hours later that Kathryn found herself scanning the last room she was going to have to go into. It had been an eventful evening. Nearly getting caught by everyone; discovering exactly what Harry kept in his bedroom; actually getting caught by the Delaney sisters, and an hour ago, catching on tricorder readouts something between Tom and B'Elanna that she shouldn't have known about. Still, it was a hell of a way to celebrate Christmas.

Now she was concerned though. Neelix had specifically asked her to deliver this persons present last.

Confirming that no one was in there, she crawled into Chakotay's quarters. Approaching his bed, she smiled as she realised this was it. The last present delivered. No more. The smile vanished and she started to frown. Now she was feeling depressed! This was ridiculous.

Looking down at the object she was holding, she ran her fingers around the box. She had the incredible urge to open it. Was it wrong to open it? Didn't she deserve something after spending all those hours in cramped Jeffries Tubes, trying to make everyones Christmas better?

No. She didn't have a right.

Kathryn placed the silver box down on his bed, but noticed a few kinks in the bow resting on top of it. Tugging at the bow to straighten it, she paused when she heard a hissing sound coming from the present. Immediately she began to get drowsy, her limbs becoming heavy.

Falling towards the bed, she then fell back onto the floor, unintentionally pulling the present with her. She recognised the sensations. It was some kind of sedative.

Lying on the plush carpet of Chakotay's bedroom floor, Kathryn managed to angle an arm and her head towards the box before she realised that the impact on the carpet had knocked it open. A small piece of paper had fluttered from the now empty box, and she managed to read the words just as her eyesight blurred over.

'Happy Christmas Commander. Enjoy your present.'

She was going to kill Neelix.

And then she lost consciousness.


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