by Michele Masterson

Author's note: Warning. This. Is. Depressing. Okay? And no, I don't think this will happen, I was just in one of those moods. So let me apologize ahead of time. And let the hate mail commence...

Disclaimer: "Star Trek" and all characters therein property of Paramount Television.

Rated PG, though no rating is really necessary.


My name is Calypso
I have let him go
In the dawn he sails away
To be gone forever more
And the waves will take him in again
But he'll know their ways now
I will stand upon the shore
With a clean heart
And my song in the wind
The sand will sting my feet
And the sky will burn
It's a lonely time ahead
I do not ask him to return
I let him go
I let him go

"Calypso" by Suzanne Vega


We will be in spacedock in four days.

Astounding. Unbelievable, that which we tried so desperately to believe. The impossible made reality. I have not yet grasped the full import of this, but with each passing moment, with each light year that flies by, the knowledge that Earth is waiting for us looms like a reckoning.

There was joy when our sensors indicated that we had indeed arrived. But joy was quickly replaced by shock. I had not anticipated this, but in retrospect it seems natural. The confirmation that we had indeed arrived in the Alpha Quadrant hit all of us like a collision. How is it that we can be granted the one wish we knew we couldn't possess? What does it mean that our hearts' desire can be realized? And what will be the price? They, they crew, are confused. They want to be happy, and they feel guilty that their exultation is mixed with fear, with grief. The same grief felt when we were first stranded away from home.

But they will be all right. They will adjust. And they will remember the happiness they left behind, the lives I had stolen from them. Not stolen, I know. But I am nonetheless gratified that I could give back to them what was lost, at long last.

Not all of them. I am more aware of this now than I think I have ever been. That some of them I could not bring home. I have their belongings to remand to their families, stories of their valor, but I do not have them. And as we hurtle toward our future, a certainty now rather than a question, my mind is reaching in futility toward the past.

But I know that there is one person to whom I was able to give happiness, one person to whom I could finally make reparations. He had sacrificed much for me over the years. It should not be remarkable that my final gesture to him was a sacrifice of my own. And in the end it matters little if the sacrifices were incongruous, if mine was greater or if his was greater -- for how does one measure one's soul? I know that my motives were pure, and I know that I willingly set aside my feelings for his. Our plight was, after all, my doing; and so I undid it.

"I want to stay." Chakotay's voice was not above a whisper, as he stood in the doorway of my quarters, not looking at me. I heard what he didn't say: I want to stay with her. Despite himself, he fell in love. And I knew that he wished he hadn't. Wished he'd never met the girl, a lovely, intelligent woman with a sweetness, a softness that I never had. Not that I would want that -- I am not that type of person. But he wanted it. Without perhaps knowing that he did.

But that is often how love is. We think we have control over who we care for, we think we can plan for the person we want, make a checklist and wait for the right person to satisfy the requirements. Yet it is seldom the case. More often than not, we meet the person who doesn't fit any pre-set criteria, the person we didn't even know we wanted until we met him, and then can't believe we ever lived a moment without him. A surprise. A gift.

I was never very good at that. I tend to like criteria. I tend to need it. And I was never very good at accepting gifts. My fatal flaw, as it were.

And so there he was, asking me to make the decision on how the rest of both of our lives would proceed. I know now, as I knew at that moment, as certainly as I know myself, that if I had asked him to stay, he would have. And I wouldn't have had to make any promises to him, any commitments. Just ask him to stay with me, continue on as we always had. He would have. I think he nearly wanted to.

I have never thought of myself as a cruel person, but at that very moment, watching the war of love and self-recrimination rage within him, I suddenly saw my behavior those years with him as reprehensible. Unforgivable, at least for myself. I had kept him with me, by me, and I knew what he had needed. I knew what he had felt. I knew that I had this power over him -- I had saved him from death, from imprisonment, and his fate to stand by me was sealed. And though I had not initially sought out this power, had not needed his undying devotion, once I saw that I had it, I cultivated it, kept it horridly alive. And it now sickened me. That I could do such a thing to another -- to this other -- will always be my shame.

And so, when he stood there before me, asking me if he could leave, but begging me to make him stay, I did what was right. Finally. And I let him go. Knowing full well that he was taking with him the rest of my life. Even if he did not know it. He had my life ever after.

"Go," I had said. "You must. You know you must."

And now, as we near Earth, our mythic home for so many years, I walk the ship. And he is there, everywhere. His absence having itself become a presence, an entity that I carry with me all of the time now. The chair on the bridge beside me, filled for a long time now by my trusted friend, my Vulcan advisor, yet I look still and am often shocked when I do not see Chakotay there. I am sure Tuvok can sense this. And that is acceptable. It is a comfort that at least one person knows what is in my heart. Though I suspect that they all know.

Closer. Each passing second we are closer to what we have called home. And with each passing second part of me wants to turn around, blast away from the Alpha Quadrant, through the demon wormhole that brought us here, go back and find him. Steal him once again, as I have stolen him before. Of course, I won't. Would never, even without a crew to consider. But there is something in me that will always feel out of place now. Stranded, as we have been for so long.

We will arrive in four days. I estimate several weeks of debriefing. A few more visiting my family, my friends, all strangers now. And I will tolerate it, all of it, before requesting an immediate reassignment. I will take a new ship. As a captain I will chose my own crew, and I know that none will be from Voyager. For I want to stay with them all so much that I know I must never see them again. And I need to remove myself from the constant reminder that I have everything but the one thing I now know I truly want. The thing I gave away. Because I had to. He had stepped in my quarters to tell me he had lost his heart, and I knew at that very moment that I loved him and wanted his happiness. He would not have found it with me. I could not have been what he wanted then. It does not matter that looking back, I would have changed the course of history, I would have changed myself and everything in the universe to keep him. I did not know at the time. It is irrelevant now.

But above all else, the reason I will demand reassignment as soon as possible, is that I cannot remain on Earth a moment longer than necessary. Strange how that has occurred. As if I have become so accustomed to being stranded that it has become a part of me. He so wanted to create a home. Wherever we were. On the ship, on the planet we called New Earth, and finally with another person in another part of the universe. And I had categorically refused his attempts to think of home as anywhere else but where I wanted home to be. Denied stability, feared complacency. Only now to realize that my fear has become my fate. Never at home. Never again.

And so I will travel the stars. Explore the unknown. Content in the thought that I have perhaps allowed him to finally be at peace. And satisfied with the fact that my punishment does fit my crimes. I let him go. And I do not regret my regret. For at the end of our journey, the only blood left on my hands is my own.


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