Hey all!  This is a nice little story written expressly for a Christmas fic contest.  I picked out twelve words from my 1925 dictionary and made myself work them into this story.  The words are the following; stir, propagate, amend, reindeer, crucifix, trinket,  butler, indecent, infinite, plea, crotesque, and compilation.
This is a sequel to Dornröschen, though you do not need to read it to make sense of this story.  Unless, of course, you'd like to meet my original characters or you'd like to know what play Janeway & Chakotay are talking about in the opening scene.
Disclaimer: Kathryn Janeway, Chakotay, Tom Paris, B'Elanna, Seven of Nine, The Doctor, Harry Kim, Tuvok, Sam Wildman, Naomi Wildman, and Neelix do not belong to me.  Neither does anyone else you can recognize from the Voyager.  Ava Heulle, Jihana Korrus, Keely Cordovan, and Char Pike do belong to me.


If You Can't Kill 'Em
By Dana Quell

 We're bored.  The usual attempts to get that little captain and her big, handsome hunk of a first officer together have failed.  The group has now resolved to petty things; bugging Tuvok, locking B'Elanna and Tom into closets (not that they mind), and making fun of Neelix and his cooking, clothes, and porcupine haircut.  If this should continue, the group will get disheartened, and we will have to disband.  If the group disbands, I know not what I'll do.  It's the only thing keeping me tethered to this realm and should it suddenly snap, I'll slip deeper and deeper until all that is left is an empty shell of what I once was.  What can possibly revive the group?

Day 1: It Begins (Wednesday)

 Sam Wildman waited in the turbolift for it to arrive at the proper deck.  It was almost her daughter, Naomi's bedtime, and she was going to retrieve the little girl from the holodeck, where she played with such holographic characters as Flotter and Treebus.
 The turbolift came to a stop, but something was wrong.  Sam watched the doors slide open, and realized that it had brought her to deck 2 rather than deck 6.  Shrugging, she got off, deciding that a little visit to Neelix in the officer's mess wouldn't hurt.  Naomi would probably love the extra time anyway.  She'd call in the turbolift problem later.
 The mess hall was strangely crowded, and Neelix looked busy.  He stirred a boiling pot of... something in one hand, while serving crewmen something that looked like pie with the other.  She thought to come back later, when Naomi was sleeping, but he had already seen her.
 "Sam!" he cried.  "What are you doing here?  I thought it's Naomi's bedtime."
 "It is.  I was going to the holodeck to get her when the turbolift took me here instead.  I thought I'd visit while I was in the area.  But you're busy; I'll come back later."
 He put down the serving utensils and took her hands in his.  "I'm never too busy.  Let's sit down."
 "Okay," she replied, feeling a little strange but going along with him anyway.  "So, what's new?"
 "Oh, I haven't told you!  I just got the okay from the captain today.  I'll be holding a Christmas party."
 "Christmas?  Isn't that that old archaic holiday that nobody celebrates anymore?" Sam asked.
 Neelix nodded.  "We'll be celebrating this year.  The party's this Friday, here in the mess hall.  Bring Naomi, too.  There'll be a special surprise for her."
 "What?"
 His beady little eyes twinkled.  "If I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise."
 Sam laughed.  "All right, I can wait two days to find out."  She sniffed the air tentatively.  "Is something burning?"
 "My stew!" Neelix screamed, jumping from his seat.  "My stew is burning!  Oh, dinner is ruined."
 "It's okay.  I've gotta go pick up Naomi anyway," Sam replied, feeling it time for her to duck out.
 Neelix was too busy trying to beat out the fire that had started upon the stew to reply, so she left and headed for the holodeck.
 "Did you hear that?" Ava whispered to Keely and Jihana, her two closest friends.  They sat at a nearby table.  "A Christmas party..."

 A Christmas party, yes, that will be perfect.  This is just what I need to reinvent that old group spirit.  I only wish the spirits were able to see what we will have planned.  Two days, this does not give us much time...

 "Come," Kathryn Janeway called to whoever had rung her doorbell.  She didn't look up to see who came in.
 "Here's that report that you wanted," a familiar voice said.
 "Good, just put it on my desk."  She still didn't look up.  It was a very interesting data padd she was reading.
 Five minutes later, out of her peripheral vision, she noticed movement and glanced up.  Chakotay stood there, and Kathryn had a hard time trying to stop herself from blushing.  Ever since Ava had staged her play, Kathryn had become uncomfortable around her first officer.  And that had been nearly a month ago.  Perhaps part of her discomfort was because they hadn't yet talked about it, but she was sure she'd prefer this discomfort to the one she'd have if they discussed it.
 "Was there anything else?" she asked, trying to hide her discomfort.
 He hesitated, and her heart leapt into her throat, hoping that he wasn't about to start discussing it.  "Actually, there was.  Are you going to the Christmas party that Neelix is throwing?"
 "I hadn't much thought about it.  Why?"
 Chakotay diverted his eyes to study the suddenly very interesting floor.  "Just curious."
 Kathryn frowned.  'Just curious'?  Since when was her first officer 'just curious'?  "Chakotay?"
 "Well, I was sort of wondering if we could... show up together."
 Kathryn stifled her laughter at Chakotay's obvious displeasure.  "Sure, I guess we could.. 'show up together'."
 "We could?" Chakotay's head shot up from his study of the floor.
 "We have some things to discuss, though."  She could almost hear his groan.
 "Such as?"  Going for the indirect approach, huh, Chakotay? Kathryn thought.
 "Well, such as the play last month."
 "Oh."
 There was dead silence in the captain's ready room as each stared at the other.  Finally Chakotay broke.
 "You know Ava hadn't told me that you were Ensign Cordovan's replacement?"
 "I know."
 Silence again.  Kathryn sat at her desk, her hands clasped in front of her.  Chakotay shifted uneasily on his feet.
 "You know that Lieutenant Heulle probably planned for that to happen?" he asked.
 "I know."  A pause.  "For what to happen?"
 "The kiss," Chakotay prodded.
 "Oh.  Yes, I know."
 "Oh."
 "You do know that she blackmailed me into doing it?"
 "Did she?"
 "Yes."
 "Oh."  Another pause.  "Blackmailed you with what?"
 Kathryn sighed.  "A picture."
 "Oh.  Does that have anything to do with why I was scrubbing Neelix's ovens with my toothbrush?"
 "Maybe."
 Silence.
 "Well, I should get back to my duties.  I just came to give you that report," Chakotay said, heading for the door.
 "Chakotay?" Kathryn called to his retreating back.  He turned.  "Don't forget to pick me up at 1900 hours on Friday.  And wear something nice."
 He smiled.  "Yes, ma'am."  With that, he left.
 Kathryn burst into the giggles that she had been holding back.  When she was finished, she picked up the padd she had been reading before and began to read.

Day 2: The Plans (Thursday)

 Today is very important.  Everything must fall into place.  The group has agreed to the plans I have made, and even expanded more upon them.  The possibilities for this party are infinite.  This will almost be too easy.  The group has even expanded our manpower to most of the crew.  Well, everyone except that stodgy, uptight Vulcan... but I won't let him bug me today.  Now, if only I had some cookies around here.  Maybe Neelix has some chocolate chipped ones in the mess hall.

 "Come," Kathryn called absentmindedly at the doorchime.  She was reading again.
 B'Elanna Torres entered the captain's quarters.  "Captain, what are you doing reading?  You've only got one more day to prepare for the Christmas party tomorrow!"
 "Prepare?  I'll only need half an hour to prepare tomorrow night," Kathryn replied back, putting down the book.
 B'Elanna looked at the title and raised her eyebrow.  "Two of Me: The Amended Compilation of Early Genetic Duplication?  Really, Captain."
 "What?" Kathryn asked, frowning.  So she was a little bit nerdy.
 "Ugh, never mind.  Let's just go over everything, shall we?  What are you wearing tomorrow?"
 "Uh-"  Before Kathryn could answer the chief engineer's question, the doorchime rang again.  "Come!"
 Seven of Nine stalked in.  "Captain.  Lieutenant," she said, acknowledging their presence.  "I am here to assist you."
 Kathryn looked at B'Elanna, but the half Klingon avoided the captain's gaze.  "Good, Seven.  We were just about to go over Captain Janeway's dress."
 "Dress?  I was just going to wear some slacks and a shirt."
 "Pants?  You can't wear pants to a Christmas party!" B'Elanna complained.
 "Who says?" Kathryn asked, placing her hands on her hips and trying her best Janeway glare o' death.
 B'Elanna gave her a scorching look of her own.  "I say.  And so does tradition.  Now come on, let's have a look at your closet and see if you've got anything decent in there."
 B'Elanna and Seven went into Kathryn's bedroom, and the older woman had no choice but to follow.  The two other women were already digging through her closet.
 "I cannot believe this!" B'Elanna cried.
 "You have nothing sufficient," Seven added.
 Kathryn did not think her clothes were insufficient.  Kathryn really liked her clothes.  So she gave her death glare one more try.  "What's wrong with my clothes?"
 "You can't 'show up' with Chakotay to a Christmas party wearing any of these clothes."
 "They are insufficient and would- I believe the word is clash- with what the Commander is wearing," Seven replied.
 Kathryn stared at them.  "How do you know all this?  That I'm going to 'show up' with Chakotay, and what he's wearing?"
 "Word travels fast on a ship this size.  Besides, Chakotay told Tom, and Tom told me."
 "And then we sent Ensign Paris, Ensign Kim, and Lieutenant Pike to go help him with what he's wearing.  With specific instructions on what he is to wear and what he's not to wear."
 "Oh.  So, if I can't wear any of my clothes, what am I supposed to wear?"
 B'Elanna went to speak, but shut her mouth, being unprepared for this situation.  She had expected the captain to have at least something decent in her closet.
 Seven, however, had seen the captain's closet before and knew that there was going to be trouble.  So she had brought something to help them.   "It is a good thing that I have brought the Doctor's mobile emitter."
 "Good thinking, Seven," B'Elanna congratulated the ex-Borg, knowing the Doctor's designing skills.
 Seven nodded in acknowledgement and activated the Doctor, who knew the fashion emergency and quickly walked to the nearest console.  Apparently, Seven had briefed him before they came.
 "Here we are, Captain," he said after a few minutes.  "All you have to do is replicate this and all your fashion problems will simply float away."
 Kathryn looked at what he had just designed.  It was more revealing than Queen Arachnia's outfit, if that was to be believed.  Simply put, it was a flame red, skintight dress.  It had no straps to it, which made her feel very insecure about cleavaging.  The hemline was too low where it was supposed to be high, and, though the dress was ankle length, it had a slit nearly up to her waist.  She wouldn't be able to wear a bra or underwear if she didn't want it to show.
 She opened her mouth to protest and demand that they leave, but before she could say anything the door chimed again.
 "Doctor, could you get that?" B'Elanna asked, examining the design.
 "I'm a Doctor, not a butler," the hologram muttered, but he did it anyway. When he came back, he was in the company of three women.  Ava Heulle, Jihana Korrus, and Keely Cordovan held at least three pairs of shoes each.
 "We came to help," they said, holding out the shoes.
 Kathryn sighed and massaged her temples, trying to fight the headache she knew would come.

 Later in the dark of night (or the closest you can get to in space to the dark of night), deep in the very bowels of the ship, an assembly of the crew gathered in a darkened room to discuss the upcoming Christmas party.
 "Are we all clear on the plans, or do I have to go over them _again_?" the first voice said.
 "Ow!  Who's foot was that?" another voice asked.
 "Mine.  I am unclear as to why we must sit here in the dark.  Why can we not turn the lights on?" a third voice asked.
 "Because, that would ruin the mood, idiot!" yelled a fourth voice.
 "Idiot?"  The third voice was uncertain.
 "Slang, now forget about it and focus on the plans," the first voice chided the others.
 "What does idiot mean?" the third voice demanded to know.
 "Will someone please stop kicking my foot?"  The second voice had decided to chime in.
 The fourth voice sighed in exasperation.  "Nitwit, nincompoop, imbecile, ignoramus, dimwit, booby, jerk, fool, simpleton.  Get the picture?"
 "I really don't appreciate being kicked in the shins, people!"  The second voice was now very, very annoyed and very, very bruised.
 "Computer, double the illumination in this room!" the first voice called out.  To the others, it asked, "Solve your problem?"
 "No, now I have to see your grotesque face," cried voice number 4.
 "Hey, you don't have to be part of this."
 Voice 4 mumbled.
 "Yeah, that's what I thought.  Now to get down to business... is everyone clear on the plan and the parts that they play?"
 A chorus of 'yes' trailed after Voice 1's question.  "Good.  Dismissed."

Day 3: The Party (Friday)

 Tonight is the night.  Tonight is the night.  Tonight is the night.  Our plans of nearly six years will finally come to fruitition.  If everyone does exactly as they're supposed to, Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay will finally be together, as the spirits foretold it four hundred years ago.

 The door chimed.  After yesterday, Kathryn was annoyed as hell to hear it.  A total of twelve 'well-wishing' female crewmembers (plus the Doctor) had shown up to help her for tomorrow.  All they had managed to do was give her a headache.
 "Come," she said anyway, knowing it was Chakotay.  She looked in the mirror one last time, then headed out of the bathroom into the main room of her quarters.
 She hadn't followed B'Elanna or anyone else's advice on what to wear, instead choosing out a long, black skirt and a dark maroon sweater.  Glancing over Chakotay, though, she could see that he had followed the men's advice and worn something quite nice.
 Dressed in black slacks and a dark green shirt that very nicely fit his upper torso, he looked like a man out of one of those romantic holonovels that her friends had always been running as teenagers.  She shook herself out of the daze that had been created by the effect of dark colours on him- it was a great change to see him out of those light, neutral colours that never flattered him but he always wore.  She'd think of him as her tall, dark stranger, except he wasn't much of a stranger by now and he wasn't that much taller than she.
 "You look gorgeous," he said to her, pulling one hand out from behind his back and presenting her with a single, ruby red rose.
 She accepted it blushing.  "You don't look so bad yourself," she replied.
 Chakotay grinned.  "Are you ready to 'show up together'?"
 "As ready as I'll ever be."  Kathryn smiled at him, and together they walked out of her quarters.

 Everything is ready.  Everything is in place.  The only thing we need to get the proverbial ball rolling is for Janeway and Chakotay to show up.  I wish they would hurry.  The group is getting anxious.

 "Some more tart cakes?" Neelix offered the group standing around the buffet table.
 Ava smiled politely.  "Sure," she replied, taking one and biting into it.  Her smile wavered for a few moments, but she set it straight.  "What kind of tarts are they, exactly?" she asked sweetly.
 "Oh, they're the leola root tart cakes that I had prepared for the play, but nobody wanted.  They're going pretty fast here, though.  I think leola root tart cakes only get better with age," Neelix confided, then moved away to greet Sam and Naomi Wildman and offer them some tart cakes.
 Ava grimaced and spit out what she hadn't swallowed into a napkin.
 Jihana and Keely laughed.  "I think they're only going fast because Tom's already spiked the punch with something different that really does get better with age," Jihana managed to joke in between splutters and fits of laughter.
 This only made Keely laugh so hard that the punch she had been drinking came up out of her nose.
 Meanwhile, Naomi was busy grilling Neelix for information on her surprise.
 "Is it... a partridge in a pear tree?" she was asking.
 "No," Neelix replied slowly, a bit confused.
 "Two turtle doves?" she guessed again.
 "Nope."  He didn't have a clue as to what turtle doves were.
 She bit her lip trying to remember her third guess.  "Three French hens?"
 "No.  I didn't know you wanted a bird for Christmas?"  Neelix was very confused by this point.
 Sam laughed.  "She's been studying old Christmas songs so she can lead everyone in a sing along."
 "Oh..."
 Seeing that Neelix still didn't get it, Sam began to explain more in depth about the song, the 12 Days of Christmas, and its sequel, the 12 Days After Christmas.
 "Well," Neelix said to Naomi after her mother was done explaining.  "You'll just have to wait and see what your surprise is when the Doctor walks in."
 Just then, the doors slid open.  Naomi glanced at it hopefully, but was disappointed when it was not the Doctor.
 Everyone else wasn't.  A whispered murmur of "They're here," went through the room as all eyes turned towards the door, where Kathryn and Chakotay stood in full party regalia.
 They stopped when they saw everyone's eyes on them.  Kathryn blushed, and Chakotay looked away.
 They were saved from saying much because the Doctor came up behind them.  "Ah, hello Captain, Commander.  How are you two, this fine evening?" he asked as he stepped into the Mess Hall.
 As he crossed that last step in, his appearance began to change.  His form bent over and turned brown.  His hands and feet changed into hooves.  His ears grew longer and turned into antlers.  His nose turned red.  Pretty soon, the Doctor was a reindeer with a human face and a very, very red nose.  His uniform was also... missing.
 Kathryn and Chakotay burst out into laughter, and soon the entire assembled crew did the same.  The Doctor, failing to realize what he looked like, also failed to see what was so funny about his question.
 "Well," he said, trying to make the best of their laughter.  "I see you're fine, if a bit drunk already.  You look different; did you grow taller, Captain?"
 This made her laugh even harder.  Instead of replying, she pointed to him.
 He looked down and nearly jumped up.  "All right, who did this?  Was it you, B'Elanna?"
 B'Elanna, standing nearby, next to Tom, shook her head.  "No, but I wish I could take the credit for it, Doctor Rudolph."
 "I did it," Harry stepped forward between giggles.  "At Neelix's prodding, of course."
 "Of course," the Doctor replied bitterly.
 "Was this my surprise, Neelix?" Naomi asked, bursting out in a fresh cycle of laughter.
 "Yes, sweets.  That was your surprise."
 "Oh, Neelix, you really didn't have to," Sam said.
 "Yes, I did," Neelix replied.
 "No, you didn't," Doctor Rudolph argued.  "I feel so indecent.  And this was a very illogical thing to do.  If a medical emergency comes up, I will not be able to attend to any injuries."
 "Relax, Doctor.  You're starting to sound like Tuvok.  Besides, I'm capable of handling almost anything that can come up," Tom interjected.
 The Doctor went to the punchbowl and sniffed it.  "You've already spiked the punch.  And if I was a betting man- reindeer- I'd say that's your third or fourth glass of punch already."
 "Second."
 "Hmph."
 Pretty soon the party-goers attention was led back to the thing they had come to do; party.  They talked amongst themselves and drank punch.  But they kept their eyes on the couple of the evening.
 "Do you get the feeling we're being watched?" Kathryn said to Chakotay after they finished singing with Naomi about many birds and people.
 "Yes," Chakotay replied, his eyes giving the room the once over.  "But nobody is."
 Yet the invisible eyes were still on the commanding officers when their backs were turned.
 Somewhere else in a darker corner of the room, one particular pair of eyes saw Kathryn and Chakotay exactly where those eyes wanted them.  The hand that belonged to those eyes tapped a combadge that had been already adjusted to use a specific com frequency.  "It's me.  Are you all set in there?"
 {Everything's ready,} a voice said from Transporter Room 1.
 "Good.  They're on Point Triple X now.  You are hereby authorized to shoot."
 Above Kathryn and Chakotay, the hum of the transporter began, and a single sprig of mistletoe appeared over their heads.  B'Elanna, whom they had been talking to at this point, just happened to notice this and pointed it out to them.
 They glanced at each other, uncertain as to what to do.  "It's mistletoe, for Kahless' sake!  Kiss already," B'Elanna shouted, growing impatient.
 Chakotay shrugged and leaned over to kiss her on the cheek.  B'Elanna sighed in frustration.
 Fortunately, Naomi Wildman had been running from a certain holographic reindeer, who wanted her to get her daily nutrients from the leola root tart cakes and then wash it down with some punch.  Not watching where she was going, she just happened to accidentally bump into Chakotay, who was then pushed into Kathryn and kissed her full on the lips.  They began to fall into the kiss, then realized what was happening and sprang quickly apart.
 The crowd that just happened to be watching them had been holding their breaths, and slowly sighed it out as the kiss ended.  Then they went back to their own business.
 "Sorry," Naomi apologized breathlessly, then began to run from the Doctor, who had caught up with her.
 B'Elanna raised her eyebrows and moved away to talk to Tom about... something.
 "It didn't work," a voice said.
 "I guess it's time for Plan B," another voice replied.
 "Plan B?  I was hoping we wouldn't have to use Plan B," the first voice muttered.
 The second voice sighed.  "Yeah, I was kind of hoping I wouldn't have to die."
 Kathryn and Chakotay, totally oblivious to the conversation and similiar ones like it that were being said around the room, stared at each other.  In their heads, they were both thinking how much they loved each other, but of course both were too stubborn to admit it outloud.  Kathryn wouldn't give up her precious protocols, even for love, and Chakotay loved her too much to make her do that for him.  It was a take and give relationship.
 They started dancing to some old Christmas music; music that sounded like it was from the 1980's that Neelix had dug up in the databases.  After a while, Kathryn began to notice that Chakotay had something hard in his pocket.  At least, she hoped he had something hard in his pocket.
 She had drank some of the punch and so decided to be a little gung-ho this night.  "Is there a spaceship in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?" she asked, feeling so very out of character.
 He sprang away from her, embarrassed, until he realized that it was just her Christmas present and nothing more.  "I brought something for you for Christmas," he said, feeling like he might as well give it to her now.
 "Really?  What?"  She felt just like a child again.
 He reached into his pocket and brought out a large black jewelry box.  "Open it," he ordered.
 Kathryn's mind screamed at her that she was the captain and shouldn't be taking orders from an inferior, but she told it to shut up because she wanted to see what Chakotay had gotten her.  Opening the box, she saw a delicate silver trinket.  It was a claddagh, the hands, heart, and crown that symbolized friendship and love.
 "Oh, Chakotay, it's gorgeous," she sighed.  "Thank you so much.  But- I don't have a present for you."
 "Oh, it's okay," he said, even though it wasn't.  He loved her, though, and so he wasn't going to demand a present from her.  Just being around her was enough.
 She looked like she was going to say something else- perhaps the spiked punch was doing it's job and she was about to abandon her stubborness and admit to him her true feelings- but before she could say anything at all, the lights went out and Plan B went into affect.
 Someone screamed in the dark, and then there was silence.  Everyone waited patiently for the emergency lights to come back on, but they didn't.  Soon Kathryn grew bored and flicked on her wrist beacon.   Others did the same.
 "Is everyone okay?" she asked.  This was before her beacon of light shone on Tom's dead body, bruised and bloody on the floor.
 "Guess not," she blurted out without thinking.
 B'Elanna gave a surprised gasp and dropped to the floor next to him.  She checked his pulse, and, upon finding none, began to bite her lip to stop the flow of curses.  "He's dead."
 Kathryn hit her com badge.  "Janeway to Tuvok.  Tuvok, we've got a situation in the Mess Hall.  Bring a security team."
 There was no reply.  "Tuvok?  Tuvok, are you there?"  Still, nothing.
 "Damn," Kathryn muttered as she closed the connection.  Tuvok was supposed to be on the bridge.  If he wasn't running it, then who was?
 "Janeway to the bridge.  Is anyone there?"
 She thought she heard a giggle, but that might have been Naomi.  Neelix was tickling her to stop her from being afraid.
 "Damn," she muttered again.  She turned to B'Elanna and Harry.  "See if you two can get the Doctor back to his usual self so he can find out how Tom died."
 No answer.  She turned around to where she had seen them standing last and found them not standing at all.  Well, B'Elanna wasn't standing.  She was slumped over Tom, one of Neelix's kitchen knives poking out of her back, crimson Klingon/human blood running down her dress.  Harry, however, was standing by the window, a glassy, far away look in his eyes.  Kathryn went over to him and shook him.  He immediately fell to the floor, and she could see that there was a huge hole in his forehead where blood and brains oozed out onto the carpet.
 "Guess he had a headache," a callous voice said.
 Kathryn turned.  "All right, looks like we're dealing with a murderer here.  I want everyone to stay calm.  No one leaves this room.  Engineers, I want you working on getting emergency lighting back on."
 A chorus of "Yes ma'am" went up around the room.
 "There's no way out even if anyone wanted to get out," a voice whispered in her ear.  "I tried the doors already."
 She jumped, then realized it was just Chakotay.  "What about the Jeffries tubes?"  Even though she had said that nobody was leaving, she didn't like the possibility of no alternative escape route.
 "Sealed.  They won't budge."
 "Damn."  That was the third time in five minutes she'd said that.
 He sighed.  "I wish it weren't so dark in here.  There are a lot of things one can do in the dark, but finding a murderer isn't one of them."
 A shiver went through her.  Suddenly the fear of being trapped in the dark with a killer was overwhelming.  "Chakotay, are you scared?"
 He hesitated.  "I am.  What about you?"
 Kathryn surprised him when she said she was.
 Having nothing to do but wait, they sat down near a wall and watched the darkness with the kind of paranoid feeling that one gets when one is about to die.  Occasionally they would hear a scream go up from across the room and more whispered murmurs, but they didn't get up to investigate.  They knew that another one had bit the dust.
 They would watch the wrist beacons and monitor their crew's progress from there, but the remaining crewmembers would turn off the dead's beacons.  Eventually, there were so few wrist beacons left that the remaining crew was tripping over dead bodies.  Kathryn and Chakotay had both agreed to turn off their wrist beacons so as to not let the killer know where they were.  They then moved from their position, and didn't talk.
 After a time, there was only one wrist beacon left bobbing in the dark.  The last crewman alive in this godsforsaken mess hall.  When it fell to the ground and moved no more, they knew that they were the only ones left alive.  Hopefully the killer would think them dead and go.  Hopefully.
 Those few moments when they realized that they were the last left were the most terrifying.  It is a period of time when the mind wonders what if; what if the killer doesn't leave?  Will he/she kill us then?  What if the killer does leave?  Will he/she go onto the rest of the crew?  No where in their thoughts was the question 'Who is doing this and why?'
 The lights flickered back on, but only to half illumination.  Glancing around, they saw the Mess Hall was literally a Mess Hall.  Dead corpses were scattered around casually, missing an arm here or a leg there.  The buffet table was overturned onto the three women who had the misfortune of standing next to it, and one of their heads- Lieutenant Heulle's, Kathryn noted- had been cut off.  It looked bloodier than it should, as if someone had then proceeded to batter it some more by playing soccer with it.
 The horror of the scene could not be put into words.  Even then, though, Kathryn and Chakotay were trying to do so, hoping that if they could, perhaps it wouldn't seem so surreal.  Perhaps, they were thinking, it was just a dream.  A subconscious anxiety brought upon them in their dreams Thursday night about their first date.  Maybe any moment, they would wake up.
 No such luck.  When Kathryn realized that they were really, truly dead, she felt those tart cakes coming up.  She ran to the doors, which, surprisingly opened, but before she could run for the lavatories, it came up.  Vomit and blood poured out of her mouth until it ran clear and was just water.
 Chakotay had followed her out, and now he was rubbing her back.  When she was done, he asked, "Are you okay?"
 "I'll manage," she replied, wiping her mouth with the sleeve of her sweater.  "We've got to get to the bridge and find out what's going on."
 "Agreed.  Come on."  He took her arm and helped her to the turbolift.  Chakotay thought he saw a shadow flicker in the hallway, but the doors closed before he could check it out.
 "Deck one, bridge," Kathryn said weakly, sagging against the turbolift wall.  It powered up and immediately began to comply.
 "Kathryn?"  Chakotay was worried about her.
 "They're all dead," she replied after a couple of seconds.  "What are we going to find on the bridge?  Why didn't they respond before?"
 "I don't know," Chakotay replied in truth.
 The turbolift stopped, and they waited for the doors to slide open.  It took a few seconds longer then it usually did, but they opened.  And deposited Kathryn and Chakotay into Engineering.
 "Oh my god," Kathryn moaned, staring wide eyed at the destruction that had occured.  Chakotay found himself unable to say anything.
 The scene in Engineering was even worse than the Mess Hall.  Everywhere was blood; red, green, purple, nearly every colour one could imagine.  There weren't whole bodies in here, except for one.  Hanging from the warp core was a large crucifix, one complete with the bloody and bruised body nailed to it.  Neither Kathryn nor Chakotay could tell who it was though- the unknown crewmember's face had been smashed in.  Pink and green bits of brain mixed with the blood and ran down the neck to stain the uniform below.
 "Oh, god," Chakotay finallly said, picking his way through the scattered limbs to the crucifix.
 Kathryn put a hand on his shoulder and tugged him back towards the turbolift.  "We've got to go."  The terror was apparent in her voice.
 He nodded silently and ran to the turbolift with her.  "Deck one, bridge!" he shouted at the computer.  Silently, he hoped that it would break down and leave them stranded between decks.  At least that way, they wouldn't have to face the carnage that he was certain would be in the bridge.
 When it slowed down, he was disappointed.  This time, though, the doors did not open, and his hopes soared.  Apparently, this only made Kathryn's terror soar.
 She began to kick at the doors.  "Come on, open, dammit!"
 When she started pounding on it with her hands, he moved to stop her.  She had such nice hands; he didn't want to see her ruin them.
 This was about the time when the doors slid open to reveal... the empty corridor.  Moving out of the turbolift, they realized they were once again on deck 2.
 "Closer this time," Chakotay commented.  Kathryn nodded.
 They were about to head back into the turbolift when the shadow that Chakotay had seen earlier grabbed him.
 "Chakotay!" Kathryn yelled after he shrieked.
 He wasn't dead yet.  For some reason the shadow hadn't killed him immediately like it had done with the rest of the crew.  All it did was hold a knife to his throat and a phaser to his head.
 "What do you want?" Kathryn asked, sensing that it wasn't killing him yet because a) it wanted something or b)it wouldn't kill while she watched.  She figured it was probably choice a).
 It pointed to her, then pointed back at Chakotay.  Kathryn shook her head to say she didn't understand.  The shadow repeated the motion.  Again, Kathryn didn't know what it wanted.
 "For godsake's," the shadow started shouting.  "We just wanted you to propagate!"
 Kathryn's eyebrow shot up, and she felt the Janeway Death Glare surface.
 The shadow wasn't phased.  It cleared its throat and said, "I mean, I knew you wouldn't plea for your own life, but you might plea for his."
 "Oh."  Kathryn thought about this for a moment.  The shadow was right.  She wouldn't plea for her life- she was a Starfleet captain, god dammit, and she had much more dignity than that.  But she would plea for Chakotay's life.  "You're right.  I wouldn't plea for my life."
 "But?" the shadow prodded.
 "But, I would plea for Chakotay's life."
 The shadow sighed.  "And why would you plea for Chakotay's life?"
 Kathryn thought for a moment.  "Because he's a member of this crew and I would do the same for any of them."
 The shadow hopped up and down.  "You are so stubborn, Captain Janeway!  Why can't you just admit to yourself and to him that you love him and that is why you would plea for his life?!?"
 Kathryn frowned.  This shadow shouldn't know her feelings for Chakotay.  "I do care for him.  And I would plea for his life.  In fact, I am."
 "AGH!!!" the shadow screamed, letting Chakotay go and ripping off its head.  In place of a shadow, there was Avakeka Heulle, dressed all in black with a phaser and a kitchen knife in her hand.  She screamed again.  "AGH!!!!"
 Kathryn and Chakotay stared at her.  "Weren't you decapitated?"
 Ava stared back.  "AGH!!" she screamed once more and tapped her com badge.  "It's over, you all can come out.  They're too stubborn to admit it to each other!" she screamed into the com system.
 "Ow, Ava," Jihana said, wrinkling her nose and walking out of the Mess Hall.
 "You didn't have to scream that loud," B'Elanna added.
 Kathryn and Chakotay stared as all the crewmen they had thought dead walked out into the corridor.  "What the...?" they started to ask, then realized it was probably better if they didn't know and so didn't finish asking the question.
 "Anybody see Neelix?  Or Sam Wildman for that matter?  Neither of them were in the Mess Hall," Keely asked, feeling very hungry.
 "That dog," Tom leered in reference to Neelix.
 A very confused Chakotay led an even more confused Kathryn to a spot where they could take the Jeffries tubes up to their quarters.  It had been one hell of a party, and now that it was over, they needed sleep.

 Well, the group hasn't disbanded, though we have decided to let Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay figure this thing out on their own.  No muddling around from us.  The spirits must be reeling right now.
 Speaking of the spirits, we've discovered more about them in the databases.  It turns out that what we mistook for prophecies from spirits were actually just stories from people on their favourite show, which just happened to feature a Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay.  This has been called fanfic, and so now our group mainly exists to read through this many tons of fanfic and write our own.
 We have a new motto, as well.  'If you can't kill 'em or get them to admit their true feelings, leave them alone.'



Hope you enjoyed your visit into my head.