Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters belong to Showtime, MGM, Gekko Productions, and Double Secret Productions. No copyright infringement is intended and no money changed hands. Original characters and this story belong to me and may not be posted elsewhere without my consent.
It was two weeks before Christmas. Jack and Katya were having a tree trimming party at their house. Daniel, Sam, and Teal'c were already there. The tree stood in one corner waiting to be set up.
"So explain this to me again, you celebrate the birth of your god by bringing a dead tree inside of the house?" Katya asked, shaking her head with a mixture of amusement and bewilderment.
"I do not understand it myself, Ekaterina," Teal'c stated. "Although it was explained to me last year."
"Well, actually the Christmas tree tradition stems from the Winter Solstice celebrations in various Earth cultures," Daniel explained. "Because the early Church tied their celebration of Christ's birth in with these solstice celebrations, the practice of bringing evergreens indoors during that season became the Christmas tree celebration. Some of the practices are also similar to the Saturnalia celebrations, which you might find interesting, Katya."
"We had winter solstice celebrations on Goshen," Katya's voice sounded wistful for a second. Then she launched into a discussion of the differences between solstice celebrations with Daniel.
Jack sighed as he listened from the corner where he was detangling Christmas lights and keeping a very curious Lara from getting wrapped up in garland. Scientists. And he happened to fall in love with one. But the thing he focused on was the sadness in Katya's voice when she mentioned Goshen. He knew she got homesick from time to time. But she could never go home again, to her friends and family she was dead. Attempting to return would endanger both her people and their culture, or at least that's what she had explained.
He was startled from his thoughts by the sound of the doorbell ringing. He looked over at Katya who was still in deep conversation with Daniel. Sam was sorting ornaments in the other room, so that left him. Picking up Lara, he went to answer it. On the doorstep were Janet and Cassandra, their arms laden with packages.
"Merry Christmas!" Janet said.
"Hey, Merry Christmas. Come on in. Just about ready to put the tree up."
Janet and Cassandra made their way to the living room, where Cassie distributed hugs all around. Sam hit the button on the stereo and the room filled with festive holiday music. The tree was soon set up. Jack and Daniel managed to get the lights on with the minimum of fuss and "for crying out louds." Sam and Janet began to decorate the tree with a relish. Everyone else soon pitched in, the little girls hanging the lower ornaments, the adults the higher. Even Teal'c got into the spirit, putting the star at the very top of the tree. Daniel and Katya put the garland on with "supervision" from Jack. Finally came the tinsel, which Katya declared was her favorite part. Cassie agreed as the two of them tossed the silvery threads up on the tree.
"Come on Kat, you're making a mess," groaned Jack as he realized that more of the tinsel was landing on the floor and on Cassie then on the tree.
Katya made the very mature gesture of sticking out her tongue at him then showered him with tinsel.
"You realize of course, this means war," said Jack grabbing a nearby bowl of popcorn. He launched a handful at Katya but she ducked and some of it hit Sam.
Sam wasn't going to take any of that, so she sent a handful back at Jack. Soon Janet and Cassie were joining in the war. Little Lasha sat on the couch her eyes wide, occasionally tossing a few kernels up into the air.
"Oh, come on guys, this is," Daniel started when a handful hit in square in the glasses, "very mature." Sighing, he dropped to the floor in search of some kind of defensive measures.
Eventually, exhausted from all of the giggling, Katya held up her hands, "Okay, okay I surrender!"
Jack's means of declaring a truce involved pulling her into the kitchen, where the occupants could hear some more giggling followed by several moments of near silence.
"Well, I suppose we should clean this place up a little since they're busy," sighed Sam, rolling her eyes in the direction of the kitchen.
A little later, Katya and Jack emerged to help finish cleaning and finish up the tree. Finally the tree was finished and lit up. Jack flipped off the lights and the group let out the customary oohs and ahs. Now the party was in high gear.
Presents weren't to be opened until their get together on Christmas Eve, but since Janet and Cassandra were planning on spending the holiday with Janet's family in Georgia, they got to open theirs.
"Ah, presents. My favorite part of your Christmas customs," said Katya with a smile. One of her favorite things about life here was shopping.
"You have any other favorites?" asked Daniel with curiosity.
"Well, I'm beginning to like the tree," and with a saucy smile at Jack, she walked over to Daniel. "And there's one other wonderful custom of yours."
"What's that?" Then Daniel looked up and realized that he was standing under the mistletoe. Remembering what happened the last time, he blushed and said, "Um, I think we can forgo that part of the tradition this year."
Katya merely laughed and then gave him a small peck. "Happy Christmas, Daniel."
Jack tried to look stern, but couldn't quite. "Merry Christmas, Daniel. Because of that, you're safe."
"Gee, um thanks, Jack." Daniel backed quickly away to join the others by the tree.
Jack looked at Katya, "So you, me under the mistletoe, any ideas?"
"Well, I don't know Colonel. You do seem to have this thing about affection in public. And they are looking at us right now."
"Hey, what the hell, it's Christmas."
With that he planted a breathtaking kiss on her. After several moments, they broke apart to the sound of applauding and hooting from their guests.
Katya merely shook her head and mumbled something about the kitchen, making a hasty escape.
"Yeah, yeah everyone's a critic. Now let's open those gifts!" Jack said.
Some time later, the majority of the gifts for and from Janet and Cassandra had been unwrapped.
"Where's Katya?" asked Janet.
"I don't know, she went to the kitchen and never came back. I'll go look for her," said Jack.
Jack searched the house; Katya was nowhere to be found. Putting on his coat, he went outside. First place he looked was the roof, but she wasn't there either. While on the roof, he spotted her on the swingset that he had built for Cassandra.
Slowly he walked over to her in the snow. At least she had remembered to put on a coat. For someone who had grown up in the tropical part of her planet, she had a tendency to forget that it was cold. She was sitting on a swing, swinging slightly. As he got closer, he realized that she was crying.
Damn, he hated that. He always felt like he was intruding on a private moment when he did that. Katya disliked showing weakness in front of anyone, including him. That was the way she was raised. And when she did allow herself what she called the luxury of tears, she didn't like anyone invading that time.
He sat down on the swing next to her. He said nothing for a long time, just sat there. Katya didn't seem to notice him at first, she was mumbling something in her own language.
Then suddenly her voice came out of nowhere startling him. "Last year at our winter solstice celebration, Noor and I decided to try and have another baby."
Jack merely nodded. He knew that.
She continued as if he wasn't there. "After we were done making love, he asked me if I was happy. And I couldn't answer him. I should have been happy. I had everything I could have wanted. A peaceful kingdom, skilled advisors, time for my studies, a beautiful child, a man who loved me and whom I loved. And yet, I couldn't say that I was completely happy. Because it was, not exactly a lie, more a fairy tale. My husband was my second choice and I his. His real love had died and mine, well mine was very far away. My daughter did not know who her real father was, and my kingdom wasn't where I really wanted to be."
"Why are you telling me this?" Jack asked softly. "Was it because I asked you if you were happy when we were in the kitchen?"
"And you're not, are you?"
"I miss my home tonight. I remember the feasts we'd have this time a year. The grand parties and the balls. I miss my friends; I miss what family I have left. I even miss poor well-meaning Ivan. I miss my tower. I miss my studies. I miss the familiar stars in the skies. The palace where I was raised and that Lara was born in. I miss the beach. I miss the graves of my parents, grandparents, and husband. I miss that little hidden room where we made love that night. I miss the rock on the beach where I'd sit for hours staring at the endless waves. I miss the ocean at sunset. The warm breezes, the palm trees swaying.
"I am happy here. I love you and I love our life together. I like Daniel, Sam, and Teal'c. I adore Cassandra. Janet and I are becoming very close. Your Colorado is very beautiful, the mountains that rise up into the skies, the snow, the change in seasons. But it's not Goshen. How I long for just one night to go home. . .."
Katya's voice trailed off into the stillness of the night. Jack got up and held out a hand to her. He gathered her into his arms and held her until they both were so cold they had to go inside.
A week later . . .
"Do you think this will work?" asked Jack.
"Well, sir, it wouldn't hurt to try. Besides it might be a good idea to be on some kind of good relations with the Goshen," Sam answered.
She was in on Jack's plan with the consent of General Hammond. Hammond had given his permission because of Sam's comment about good relations and because well, it was Christmas, although if anyone knew about that and the soft spot the General had for redheads, he'd deny it to his dying day.
Two days before Christmas early in the morning, Jack brought Katya and Lara to the base. Except for Sam and a small group of soldiers, there was noone in the Gate room.
"Why are we here?" Katya asked in puzzlement.
"You'll see," was all Jack said.
Suddenly the Gate activated. The troops stood at ready but did not arm themselves. Suddenly a figure stepped through the Stargate.
"Ivan?" Katya asked shocked.
"Yes, your highness," the older man confirmed after getting his bearings.
"Oh, Ivan," Katya rushed at him and gave him a hug. The man was unaccustomed to such a greeting but responded warmly. After all, she had always been like a daughter to him.
"Why are you here?" she asked.
"Well, your lov--" Ivan glanced at Jack and smiled, "Your betrothed, sent us a message. He told us that it is customary to celebrate his holiday with a gift. And he wished to grant your fondest wish, one night in Goshen. Your cousin, the King, thought about it. He has always wished to see you once more. So we found a precedent in our law books. You have been granted one day and one night in Goshen. You must return here in the morning. But until then you will be a special guest of the King, yourself, the Princess, and your soon to be husband."
"Thank you, Ivan, thank you."
The older man smiled. Jack gestured at Sam, whom began dialing the coordinates of Katya's planet.
Katya came to Jack, "How can I ever thank you for this?"
Jack grinned at her, "I'm sure I'll find something." Then more seriously he added, "I did this for you, so that you would be happy. Merry Christmas."
She smiled, "I'm beginning to like your Christmas."
"Come, come. There's no time to lose," Ivan said, heading toward the now open Gate.
Jack and Katya each took one of Lara's hands and followed him through.
Sam watching as the Gate closed behind them, couldn't help quoting to herself, "A Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night."