Title: Sandals Were For Clementine

Title: Sandals Were For Clementine

Contact: MEGDENTON@prodigy.net

Series: Voy

Date: 11/20/00

Disclaimer: Not mine. If they were, J/C would get shore leave and nookie.

Summary: Just a little study of my favorite holodoc.

Sandals Were For Clementine

By Starbaby

"I'll be fine, Mr. Paris."

It was the truth. He was not fine right now, but he would be. As soon as the next ailing crewmember came through the doors, he would rise, take up his tricorder, and ask the nature of the medical emergency. That act defined him as a physician. Voyager's systems functioned like a great wheel, and he was one of the cogs ensuring that they remained homeward bound. Harry Kim spotted hostile vessels, Tom Paris roared through them with glee, and the Doctor patched up the casualties of war. Such was the life of a hologram.

Paris looked doubtful, but didn't offer a quip or reassurance, as he would have 10 years ago, when they began this journey. The Doctor was loath to admit the truth of it, but that young man had grown up, in fits and starts, mind you, but it was still growth. Even Tom, Voyager's own Peter Pan, was leaving Never-Never land bit by bit. It had been an adventure of great discovery and devastating loss. Like civilizations, they'd each endured a fall and rise. And what didn't kill them did, indeed, make the Voyagers stronger. These were remarkable people, courageous explorers, patriots all, with unlimited potential. All except for himself. He would always be at the mercy of the Starfleet brass, who would most likely deprogram him once the crew got home. He was an irritating program, according to Tincoo, who was fickle but honest. The Doctor could study opera and culture all he wanted but, somehow, someday, a powerful person would declare a limit. He could go this far, and no more.

Tom left quietly, for once. The Doctor leaned back in his chair and looked out at the stars. Even if he could cry, he wouldn't. He was beyond tears. If he listened closely, Sickbay echoed with voices that would no longer harmonize.

Oh, my darling, oh, my darling

Oh, my darling Clementine

He should have been happy for her. Seven was safe on a lovely planet, with a friendly species. They'd got on like the proverbial peas and carrots. But he was unreasonably hurt that she'd been unwilling, as a former Borg, to continue with them as Voyager neared earth. His reception wouldn't be much better, for heaven's sake. Some Starfleet lackey could flip a switch and turn him into-what was it Lieutenant Torres had said-a whistling teakettle. Yes, that was it.

The Doctor rose and moved to the window, straining for one last glimpse of Seven's new home. Oh, he hoped they were good to her. He'd always miss Seven, as lost to him now as Kes was.

You are gone and lost forever

Dreadful sorry, Clementine...

Since his service on Voyager started, the Doctor had risen to great personal heights. He'd sung arias to packed houses and left his footprints in the sands of Arakas Prime. He had preserved life and comforted the stricken. He'd felt a smooth lump of cheesecake slide down his esophagus. The sensations were indescribable and too numerous to count. But close behind these simple joys came the night side of humanity. If he'd never made this sickbay, and it's patients, his own, then this terrible grief wouldn't belong to him either. Was this what it meant to be an individual? Was living a blend of the sweet and galling?

Light she was and like a fairy

And her shoes were number nine...

If so, maybe he should distance himself, for safety's sake. One of these days the Captain would push herself too far and her body might give out, unable to support the fiery spirit within. Harry Kim might be killed by one of his dangerous women. Little Naomi Wildman could walk out the wrong door and fall off the ship (It had been a secret, irrational fear of his since she was born). Tom Paris would probably crash the Delta Flyer someday or perish toiling to free some oppressed planet. The Lieutenant fancied himself Starfleet's scarlet pimpernel. If any of that came to pass, where would the Doctor be? Right here, at this window, grieving, was where he'd be. It was a most undesirable experience.

Herring boxes without topses

Sandals were for Clementine...

There was a bustle in the hall. In a moment, the doors would fly open and a patient would limp, stagger, or stride in for treatment. It could be a cut finger or it could be multiple organ failure. One could never tell what was going to happen on Voyager. With a sigh he turned to greet the latest casualty of war.