Disclaimer: Voyager and her occupants (human and alien alike) are property of Paramount. I'm just giving them a few happy moments.

A/N: Looky there, I haven't forgotten how to write completely-contrary to popular belief. This had been sitting unfinished on my hard drive for a while, so I gave it an ending and here it is. A short moment in time thing. I had wanted to expand on the idea, and perhaps eventually I will, but this piece is a stand alone.


Cake

By Gates Hepburn

The morning staff meeting progressed like all other morning meetings, thought Neelix. Sure, it was a little out of the ordinary when the commander asked to be excused, but when you gotta go, you gotta go and no one could fault him for that... it was a part of nature after all in both Humans and Talaxians alike.

It did strike him as odd when the commander returned to the room not a moment later with the Wildmans in tow and a cake topped with lit candles.

Had he been remiss in remembering a crew member's birthday? Slacking in his duties as morale officer? He was sure he'd made a detailed list that first month or so on board, listing crew birthdays, anniversaries, and whatever else was important to various members; had he forgotten one?

The occupants of the room started singing "the Birthday Song." He'd learned it himself early on; it was actually the first song he'd learned in standard. He joined their chorus, singing with them at the top of his Ocampan lung in a shaky baritone, only to have the lone Vulcan in the room turn to him and in a conspiratorial whisper, say, "Mister Neelix, it is illogical to sing the Birthday song to one's self."

One's self? Him? This was all for him? It was his birthday? And as if in confirmation of his reverie their voices rang out "Happy Birthday, Dear Neelix..."

His eyes started to blur with unshed tears as he looked around at the smiling faces of his crewmates as they finished the song. This was indeed all for him. It was his birthday and he hadn't even realized it, how did they know? The Talaxian calendar was hard enough to understand by Talaxians; a month lasted roughly 24 days, and an average year was 37 months, except for every third year, which skipped the fourth and twenty seventh months, respectively. The tears that had formed in his honey-brown eyes started to run down his cheeks, matting the soft whiskers, he was amazed that his friends here had figured it out.

His musings were cut short as young Naomi climbed atop his lap carrying her own slice of cake. "Don't cry, Uncle Neelix. There's cake!"

She was right, now was not the time for tears, there was cake. He kissed her head above her Ktarian spikes, accepted a slice of cake from Chakotay, and celebrated the anniversary of his birth with his friends.

This was his first real birthday party and indeed a day he'd never forget.

The End