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Letting Go

Posted on Jul 28, 2014 @ 10:51pm by Captain Kassandra Thytos



“Letting go”

Con’d from: “It's the Xana and Selyara fun hour”


Don't let them in, don't let them see

Be the good girl you always have to be

Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know

Well now they know

Let it Go

- Frozen

Time Index: Immediately after “Justice”

Stardate: 2.40719.0135


Scene: Corridor -> Lucky Thirteen

Russ was trapped in his own thoughts as he moved down the corridor. He exhaustion was still there, but he couldn’t sleep; not now. Bonnie’s words rang in his head. He thought that the past was behind him. But the past always seemed to come back to haunt him. **What did she mean I would be called upon?** Russ wondered, unsure of himself. Certainly, no one had tried to recruit him as a neo-essentialist for this assignment. Why did she bring it up now?

He found himself approaching the door of the Lucky Thirteen, the ship’s famous lounge. The place looked desolate, with chairs over turned, and dust covering fallen tables, the floor grimy from years of neglect. But it certainly was not deserted.

“Go ‘way Shuttle Jockey.” Kassandra's voice assailed him before he'd even passed through the door to Lucky Thirteen. The woman was seated in a view port along the back wall, her face turned towards the starry void. One hand lay across her lap, a purloined bottle from the bar dangling limply from her fingers, the other was curled into a fist, propping up her chin. She didn’t seem terribly interested in the contents of the bottle. Rather, she seemed consumed by her own thoughts.

Russ ignored her and advanced into the room. There was a plush seat in the booth nearest to her that seemed at least in decent condition, so he unceremoniously flopped down on it.

“That’s not going away. Fact, ‘s the exact opposite of going away.” Kassandra's voice was muffled, but clearly annoyed.

“You don’t own the bar.” Russ said, massaging his eyes. “And I needed someone to talk to.” He was tired, but he needed to get all his thoughts out so they would let him sleep.

“You… Need to talk - so y’ came t’ me? Goddess. You so socially inept that no one wants to be friends with you, ‘r are y’ just desperate?” Kassandra scoffed. She still wasn't looking his way, and her face was obscured by her hand and the gnarled mess of her hair. Russ stared at her, incredulous. She sighed after a long pause. “Sorry Russ. T’was uncalled for.”

Russ couldn’t help but feel the corner of his mouth twist up into a tired grin. “An apology AND you actually used my name all in one sentence?” Kassandra still wouldn't look at him, and instead waved his comment off with a dismissive flap of her hand. The corner of his mouth sank back down. “Are you alright Kass?” She continued to ignore him. “You know you could at least look at me when you're blowing me off, put us on equal footing while you're stonewalling me since I can't just use sensors to tell me how you're reacting,” he tepidly admonished her.

“'I’m not lookin’ at y’ cos 'm trynna NOT have t’ talk ta you.” Kassandra let out an exasperated sigh and swung around to face him. Her vacant eyes were bloodshot and puffy, and it was obvious from the streaks in the grime that covered her cheeks that she had been crying.

Russ was taken aback, if there was one thing he'd never expected to see the woman do, it was crying. But then again, he reminded himself, he didn't actually know her very well at all. Aside from her name and having gone drinking with her, all there was between them was a certain level of familiarity that came with recognizing when someone was the same kind of screwed up as you.

“Whachya starin’ at?” Her statement should have been angry, but she couldn't seem to muster any fire, she just sounded tired.

“You've been crying.” It came out a little more accusing than he had intended, and her eyes narrowed.

“'m a Marine- I don't cry.” She said defensively. “Cryin’s for ya’ touchy-feely space cadets.”

Russ shook his head. “Look, I'm not judging you for it.” He paused as she turned her face away and he saw the angry blistering red of a phaser burn across her cheek. “Jesus… what happened there? Does that hurt?” He exclaimed without thinking.

She flinched away from him and scooted quickly down the booth as far as she could without falling off the seat. “'ve had worse,” she snapped. She looked down at her grimy hands. “You're the one who wants t’ talk, so talk. Or go ‘way. Whichever.”

Russ did not speak for a long moment. His current problems seemed to be unimportant – Kassandra needed someone right now, even if she did not know it herself. He glanced down at her hands, and noticed she was still holding a bottle. “Where did you find liquor?” He asked.

She scowled. “Is that what’s so damn important?” She waved back at the bar. “I found a stockpile hidden away. The ol’ crew sure as weren’t drinkin’ it.”

Russ looked back. He bit his lip for a second, hesitating, remembering his pledge to never touch another drop. But somehow, this felt like an appropriate time to break that pledge. He walked back to the bar, and after a moment, returned with a bottle of what he was pretty sure was some type of whiskey, and a couple of glasses. He settled next to Kass, and poured out two glasses between them. She was watching him askance, and accepted the glass without remark.

“Here’s to… those we loved, and those we’ve lost,” Russ said, gently, watching her.

She seemed to choke. The Marine seemed to withdraw into herself for a moment, but then recovered, holding up her glass with Russ. “Ta gaddam’ flyboy’s who dunno when t’ leave shit alone.”

A smile crept to his lips. “To bitchy Marines who never ask for help from their friends.”

“Friends?” She scowled. She looked almost scathing for a moment, as if she were about to inundate him with a sharp retort. But then, miraculously, her features softened. “Gaddammit Russ.” She steadied her breath. “Ta the ‘D’, may she, and all aboard rest in peace.”

He nodded grimly. “To the Discovery.”

They drank silently, staring at space passing by in long streaks before their eyes.

“You said you wanted t’ talk, but you ain’t talkin’.” Kassandra observed as the silence between them stretched into minutes. Never the one to let something end in the semblance of softness, she quickly followed it up a beat later. “Not that I’m complainin’, mind.”

“You said you wanted to drink, but you ain’t- aren’t drinking,” he countered.

“I don’t need t’ drink, but you need t’ talk. There is a difference.” Kassandra’s voice held a trace of dry amusement.

“So do you.” Russ retorted. “What’s eating you?”

Kassandra stiffened, and he got the fleeting impression of a cornered animal before she relaxed slowly, the conscious effort obvious.

“I appreciate the sentiment, Russ.” She said it very carefully, precisely, her colony accent erased by the precision and care that she took choosing her words. “And I don’t want you to take offense, but I really don’t know you well enough to share that, and if I did, you’d likely know better than to ask me to share.”

“What do you mean?” Russ was trying, but there was no logic in her statement. “That’s just contradictory, you won’t talk because you don’t know me well enough, but if you did, you still wouldn’t? Do you just spend your life not talking to people?”

“Jeeze.” Kassandra was obviously taken a little off guard by the question, and her face turned thoughtful. “I don’t wanna give you the impression I’m a person with hidden depths, I really am about as deep as a mud puddle. Drink, food, sleep, sex when I can get it, that’s pretty much my motivating factors, most of the time. I’m no intellectual, and I’m as venial as they come. I mostly just mean… I guess… Well, eventually you get to the point that you suspect a friend’s dark side, but maybe you don’t really wanna go there, cos you like them, and you don’t really wanna *know* for sure, cos then maybe you can’t be friends no more.”

“But…” Russ looked at her somewhat bemused. It was such a different view than he had of friendship - She was talking ignoring and not acknowledging warts and flaws, when he thought it should be about accepting them. “That’s a grim view of friendship. If they’re your friend, they’re your friend, you accept them even though you see sides of them you aren’t maybe the most fond of.”

“Spoken as someone with itty bitty skeletons in their closet.” Russ was fairly sure that she was gently mocking him, but her face was impassive as she lit herself a cigarette. “But c’mere, I could tell there was somethin’ botherin’ you from the moment y’ came in, and not just because you thought I was a good choice to talk to. You might as well tell me since y’ interrupted a perfectly good brood. I use’ta be a counselor, you know? I’m a pretty good listener.”

“You? A counselor?” The idea was humorously absurd. He tried to stifle his amusement, but when he met her eyes, she seemed to share it, though you never could tell for sure with that glassy stare.

“Long story. I may tell you a little about it after you give in and just tell me what’s botherin’ you. MAY.” She took a baby sip from her glass and let the conversation lapse.

Russ took a long time to respond. He thought about Bonnie, and what she said about the neo-essentalists. He opened his mouth to speak, but stopped, realizing that there was something else bothering him… something larger. Kassandra watched him, waiting, occasionally taking a drag of her cigarette. Finally, he spoke. “The DISCOVERY was my first post. She was new then. Just out of UTOPIA PLANITIA. I guess it’s just seeing the birth and death of a ship… she was my home.” He sighed. “Seeing it go… I dunno. It was hard enough to say good bye to her the first time.”

“The first time? Where’d you get transferred to?” Kassandra stuck her finger into her drink and span the rim of her glass around her finger like a hula hoop.

“We all were transferred. They deactivated the DISCOVERY… can’t quite remember the reason, but I wound up on the PROPHECY. But I didn’t stay there too long… I ended up shipping back to EARTH not long after.

“TERRA?” Kass use the name for Earth that core world humans seldom did. She frowned slightly. “What for?”

“Oh, you know.” He was beginning to feel a bit self-conscious; it wasn’t something he really wanted to bring up. Kassandra took his pause as embarrassment, and let out a hoot.

“So a WOMAN then.” Kass grinned at him. “What, she dump you? Ran off with some himbo and lef-” Just then, she detected a change come over Russ’s face; terrible hurt and sadness spread across his features. “Oh. Oh shit, Russ, I’m sorry! Twice in one fucking night. Please don’t cry, or get mad at me. I really didn’t know. What happened to her?”

She pushed a filthy, slightly damp handkerchief into his hand preemptively as she backpedaled, almost before Russ had time to process her words and sort out how he felt about them. Russ pushed the handkerchief away, attempting to reign in his emotions. “Not crying,” he said gruffly. Then, attempting to collect himself, he let out a shuttering “It’s alright, Kass, you didn’t know…” Emotions continued to play on his face for several long minutes of silence. Kass dared not speak again, in fear of saying something else.

“Jesus…” he finally sighed. “It never gets any easier,” he muttered. He glanced at Kassandra. “I was… I was married once, you know.”

Kassandra raised her eyebrow. “You… were.” Her question came out more as a statement.

“Amnia Telin,” he said after a long pause, speaking her name tenderly. “We had known each other since… well… we grew up together in high school,” he narrated. “We flirted… I teased her… but when we both arrived on the DISCOVERY… from the moment I saw her, she took my breath away.” He fell silent for a long time.

Kass was almost about to speak when Russ began again. “And then she was taken from me. Shuttle accident… or so the report said. I…” He shifted restlessly. “I spent the better part of my adult life trying to cope with her loss,” he admitted. “I… didn’t make the best choices.” He seemed to reflect internally upon himself. “I’ve been dealing with these demons my entire life. It was hard to say goodbye to Amnia… but… I mean, it still hurts some times. But I think I can let go now. And just when I think I take care of one specter… another arises. I’m just... I want it to just let *me* go.”

He stared off into space. The awkwardness grew as neither of them said anything. She suspected she knew he wasn’t telling her the whole truth, but was either too polite to say anything (doubtful) or she had decided that she probably didn’t want to know.

“I was supposed to die on the DISCOVERY.” Kassandra said – a change in subject so quick, he nearly got whiplash. “I was supposed to die there. I had it all planned out. I had those goddamn turncoat lyin’ excuses for Marines around me, I’d pressed the button on the grenade, and it was just beginnin’ to explode when Engineer Barbie chose to actually be competent and transported me off.”

Russ was at a loss. “Uh- Why?” He struggled for something more intelligent to say, but the speed with which she’d sprung it on him left him floundering.

“Why plan to die?” Kassandra’s lips twisted crookedly. “You know damn well why people do, birdboy. But in my case… It just seemed just- balance the scales, and punishment for breakin’ a vow I sincerely and wholeheartedly made.”

She was turned away from him again, looking somewhere else, and her sensor nets were blinking very slowly, almost imperceptibly. It seem to Russ as though she’d turned them partially off. Maybe she felt more comfortable talking if she couldn’t ‘see’ him there.

“Breaking a vow?” He prodded.

“Mmmmm.” Kassandra drew the syllable out lazily. “You ever killed someone, pretty boy?”

Again, the sudden change in topic. If she was angling in on an actual point, he was mystified as to what it was.

“Once,” he admitted slowly.

“How’d you do it?”

“Stabbed him.”


“It was him or me.” Russ didn’t really want to be reminded. He had made his peace with the incident long ago, but it had been part of the catalyst to his eventual downfall, landing him at the bottom of the bottle.

“How’d it make you feel?”

“Sick, guilty, horrible. It was the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life.” He studied her back. “Is that why you’re upset? Because you had to kill people? Because you had to kill most of your squad?”

Her sensor nets lit back up, and began to flash crazily. She made a sound that he thought for a split second was a sob. It took a moment, and then he realized she was laughing.

“Why are you laughing?” He looked at her worriedly. She didn’t sound hysterical, but laughter was an inappropriate response.

“I wish I felt bad about the people I killed today. Or the ones I’ve killed before today. But I don’t.” She turned back, a private sort of smirk on her face. “I killed 12 people today, even watched one of them bleed out, and saw my Marines disintegrate before my eyes as I was beamed out, and I ain’t gonna lose sleep over a single one. Actually, I enjoyed it.”

“Uh.” The look on her face made him uneasy, even as her words sunk in.

“See what I mean ‘bout things you suspected but never wanted to actually know about a person?” Kassandra swallowed the last of her glass. “No, what I was upset about- upset not cryin’ thankyouverymuch- was the fact that I really and truly don’t feel a thing about killin’. I thought after all these years I might feel somethin’. Or I hoped, at any rate.”

“This is where that vow you mentioned comes in.”

“Yes.” She stood up abrupt. “I don’t feel like talking anymore. I want a shower, and I need out of this stupid envirosuit. I’m getting a severe case of swamp ass.”

“Delightful. You’re class incarnate.”

“Aren’t I just. Now hopefully the gym has hot water, because a certain Engineer is punishing me, either for killing her accidentally, or for insufficient gratitude for getting my ass off of the DISCOVERY. All I get is ice water.” She hadn’t said a hell of a lot, but from the hasty retreat she was attempting to make, it was clear that she had said far more than she’d intended to.

Russ started before he could stop himself. “You can use my shower…” Suddenly, he felt his face burn in slight embarrassment. “It’s not hot, but it’s not ice.”

She was staring at him, or at least the equivalent in her case. To Russ’s surprise, the corner of her mouth seemed to crack in a smile. “Russ, I swear if I catch you peeking without permission, I will poke your eyes out and feed you your balls for breakfast,” she said in a sweet voice.

His blush lessened slightly. “Yeah? Nothing to see anyway,” he retorted. Then almost out of reflex, he stepped back just in time to avoid a punch to his chest.

“Ah, clever little bird,” Kassandra remarked sarcastically. Still, she was smiling in spite of herself. “Lead on, flyboy.”


Written by

Alix Fowler


Major Kassandra Thytos

Marine CO



Christopher B. Del Gesso


LtJG Russ Gerodi BaShen

Flight Control Officer



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