Author: TurtleTotem PM
When Spock is sucked through a time/space distortion, he finds himself stranded in a very different sort of 'verse, taken in by a crew that doesn't run with the law and captivated by a girl who is as unVulcanlike as they come.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Sci-Fi - Spock & River T. - Words: 6,764 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 19 - Follows: 9 - Published: 11-30-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7598802
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Star Trek/Firefly – Spock/River – Twisted Logic
Fandom: crossover: Star Trek reboot & Firefly/Serenity
Title: Twisted Logic
Warnings: spoilers for Serenity and the new Star Trek movie
Notes: This whole thing was inspired by livejournal user theonlytwin's Icon of Win, in which Baby Spock is accompanied by the caption "Also, I can kill you with my brain." Here is the premise: You remember how, near the end of the movie, Spock rams the Romulan ship with Spock Prime's little ship full of Red Matter, and gets beamed out just in time? Well… suppose he hadn't been. Suppose he had crashed through a time/space distortion and ended up in a very different 'verse.
Originally designed as a fanmix-with-fic, so contains lyrics, etc.
1. Drove Through Ghosts to Get Here
It was a supremely emotional act; he supposed he'd be ashamed of himself later, in the increasingly unlikely event of his survival. But now, for a few liberating white-hot moments, he didn't care about logic, or orders, or his father's approval. These bastards killed his mother, and now they were going to pay.
The roar in his ears might have been metal hitting metal at very near the speed of light, fire blooming in all directions, all the Red Matter in this universe igniting with a force that would bend space and time. It might have been only the rush of his own blood. Either way, it would be over soon.
Pressure curled around him like a hand, twisting. Something broke, tore open, and something else rushed to fill the vacuum, pulling him along. A drop of Red Matter filled his vision, no longer red but orange, yellow, white, white beyond what his eyes could see.
Time without memory, awareness without comprehension. His mind stored sensory information to evaluate later.
A human girl, long-haired, dark-eyed. She dabbed water on his lips, then traced the contour of his ear with a fingertip.
"Welcome to Serenity, Mr. Spock. You're going to hate it here."
Staring up into the heavens
In this hell that binds your hands
Will you sacrifice your comfort
Make your way in a foreign land
He had never seen a less serene ship than Serenity.If something wasn't broken, it was about to break, and if he was alone in a room, it wouldn't be for long. Peace and hygiene were equally difficult to come by. As near as Spock could tell, the captain-a rough, sharp-eyed man in a constant state of bemusement-held the ship and its crew together through sheer force of will.
"Whatever universe it's from, Mr. Science Officer, your ship's scrap," he said. "We're more'n happy to sell it for you at Persephone. 'Til then, you pull your weight same as anyone. Now, we're short one doctor and one engineer, not to mention a pilot. You seem a brainy sort, which ain't in your favor, but you watch things careful and you wash your hands a lot, we can use that, and we're accustomed to crazy folk, long as you keep the fits to a minimum. You're to assist Zoe with patching up the crew and River with patching up the ship. Dong-ma?"
At night Spock crept to the cargo hold and searched the shattered remains of his ship. No Red Matter.
He was trapped here.
I see you
Cause you won't get out of my way
I hear you
Cause you won't quit screaming my name
I feel you
Cause you won't stop touching my skin
All the crew seemed to some degree unbalanced, but River outstripped the others by lightyears. She had found him, brought him aboard, cared for him in his need. He should have been grateful.
Mostly, he was irritated.
As usual, she was sitting cross-legged in the corridor when he climbed up from his chamber. "Roll," she said, and held out a hand, dice in her palm, one red and one green. "Go on. They couldn't kill the games, could they? You took them underground. Behind the teacher's backs. You couldn't smile, but you could wink. Wink at your mother."
"Good morning, Miss Tam. We should check the aft stabilizer, make sure the repairs are holding."
She stood, her hand staying at the same height. "Roll the dice. I don't know what will happen."
He tried to brush past, and she grabbed his arm. He spun, knocking her hand away.
"Felt good, didn't it?" she said. "Breaking his teeth. The roar in your ears. It's not because you're human."
He called on the meditation, the image of ice. It didn't matter what was frozen in the ice if it never melted.
"Mr. Spock," she called after him as he walked away. "Not playing is the same as losing."
4. X Amount of Words
Your solar bipolar panic disorder
Seems harder and harder and harder
Still you try to control it
They practiced hand-to-hand in the cargo hold, shoving aside pieces of the broken corpse of Spock's ship. Jayne, the one who called Spock Elfboy when he thought he couldn't hear, had strength, and a cunning Spock did not expect; but Zoe had developed a nearly Vulcan-like trick of using her attacker's own weight and momentum against him, and the match ended with Jayne gasping on the floor. Zoe had hardly broken a sweat.
"You want to give it a go, Science Officer?" Zoe called to him, smiling, intending welcome.
"Perhaps another time," Spock answered. This activity seemed more valuable to him as an opportunity to observe the others than to let them observe him.
The next match was between the Captain and Inara, who alone of the crew seemed to have an interest in keeping herself well-groomed. As a fighter she was graceful and quick, a pleasure to watch, but clearly inexperienced; the Captain walked her through several moves, and called out advice as they fought.
"Ouch!" His voice was accusatory as she landed a blow to his cheek.
She laughed. "What's the matter, Captain? You need your weak-ankled protege to pull her punches?"
"The ankle, or talocrural joint, is a synovial hinge joint that connects the distal ends of the tibia and fibula in the lower limb with the proximal end of the talus bone in the foot."
All heads turned toward River, balanced atop the rail of the stairway above them. She cocked her head slightly, looking at a point somewhere above their heads. Her face did not change expression as her voice lifted briefly in song.
"The foot bone's connected to the-leg bone."
A few of the crew exchanged glances.
River turned away, walking-dancing-along the rails, singing softly under her breath in a language Spock did not know.
Motion and conversation resumed as she passed out of sight.
"Is Miss Tam... ill?" Spock asked Zoe, but it was Jayne who answered.
"Miss Tam," he said with a snort, "is crazy as a bedbug."
"Jayne," Zoe snapped.
"I'm just sayin'."
Dreaming comes so easily
'cause it's all that I've known
True love is a fairy tale
I'm damaged, so how would I know
"She was better for a while," Zoe said as Spock helped her put stitches in the Captain's arm, fallen against a sharp edge in the cargo bay. "But then we lost Simon and Kaylee."
"Simon was her brother?" Spock asked.
"Is her brother," the Captain said. "Might be we find them at the rendezvous, safe and sound."
"Might be," Zoe said, and Spock knew she held no hope for it.
"Careful," River said. "He's very particular. It's how he says good morning. He'll be very scathing if you're not careful."
He took the vests, pressed trousers, silk shirts from her hands. "I will be careful."
6. Must Be Dreaming
I must be dreaming
For I don't fall in love lawlessly
I encountered this song on the best River fanvid that has ever existed,
made by someone named Corn Child.
Make me a witness
Take me out
Out of darkness
Out of doubt
Will we burn in heaven
Like we do down here?
It was illogical to mire himself in thoughts of what was lost. He was here, permanently, in this place that had no Federation, no Starfleet, and no Vulcan. No Father, certainly no Mother. And no Nyota.
His mother's blood might spare him the ponfarr entirely. If it did come, he would find a way to survive. Or he would die, and that would be no loss to this world. Whether he lived or not, whether he slept or not, Nyota would not be here. Illogical to dwell on things he could not change. Better to sleep.
His door clanked, its lock resisting an attempt to open it. He sat up in alarm, but banished fear quickly. If any on this ship wished him harm, they had shown no sign, and had had better chances than this to rid themselves of him.
It was River, suited in rubbery gray, a glass-faced helmet beneath her arm.
"The aft stabilizer just blew," she said. "At current speed with predicted drag, we'll be significantly off course within the hour. A curved trajectory into the gravity well of nonterraformed moon FH889 is perfectly conceivable. Attempted internal repair has already failed." She smiled and held out the helmet. "Suit up, Mr. Spock."
"Hold this steady," River said, voice flat and tinny through the comlink. "Is the soldering gun charged?"
"Yes, sir." Spock blinked, corrected. "Yes, Miss Tam."
River didn't look up from the stabilizer. "You say 'sir' to women where you're from."
He had not spoken of other universes since his first day on Serenity-and then only to the Captain, who had thought him mad, or at least traumatized and concussed, in which surmise he was, after all, correct. Did keeping the Prime Directive matter here? Did breaking the Prime Directive matter here?
"We say 'sir' to all genders," he said, cautiously. "For simplicity, equality, uniformity. Movdarians have sixteen distinct genders; shall we call them each a different title? Besides, it is not logical to differ an honorific on the basis of a trait unconnected to its deserving."
"A difference that makes no difference is no difference." River handed the soldering gun back to him, moving slowly and smoothly in the lack of gravity; he stowed it back in its case. They settled against the hull, waiting for the solder to set so they could start the next stage of repair.
It was hard to believe they were moving. Everything seemed perfectly still, the hull beneath him as solid as any planet, the stars unblinking in all directions. Perhaps someday he would be accustomed to the sight of so many millions of stars, like a storm of light, drops of bright rain frozen in place. He was one breath away from death by decompression, one slip away from floating irrevocably into the darkness. And he had not felt so much at peace since... He didn't want to think about since when.
"They're not your stars," River said. "But they won't tell if you don't. Is it better for adopted children not to know?"
Her usual half-wisdom, half-nonsense, to which he was never certain how to respond. But her face looked different. He had not realized how much tension usually hummed beneath her skin, how much effort it took her to focus and function, until he saw the tension eased. She smiled at him, and it took unexpected effort not to smile back.
They both lay back against the hull of Serenity,in silence but for the hiss and pull of their own breath, and watched the stars.
8. You Are The Moon
(The Hush Sound)
You don't see what you possess
A beauty calm and clear
I sit outside and meditate while you sit inside and meditate. Breathe. Peace in. Chaos out. Peace in (there with you). Chaos out (here with me).
The light is your breath. You see white feathers. Ice. Stillness. Put out a hand and calm the storm.
The storm goes on beneath the surface of the ice. But you can function.
I function, like I'm a girl. I hate it because I know it will go away.
If I could touch you, would calm of you bleed into me? Would not-calm of me bleed into you? We would both bleed.
We would both bleed.
[Reanimation mix of "Crawling"]
Crawling in my skin
These wounds they will not heal
Fear is how I fall
Confusing what is real
10. No Signs of Pain
Grasping with my fingernails
As they tear through your skin
Leaving no signs of pain
No wounds to mend
Spock sacrificed a pawn, and River began to scream. She swept the pieces from the chess board, flung a handful into his face.
"Can't! Do that! No! Meaningless - piled by the wayside-"
Inara and the Captain came running, tried to grab her arms. She kicked, and the Captain hit the opposite wall. She reached past Inara to the knife on the counter.
"I won't let you - won't go dark - piled like garbage-"
Spock darted between River and Inara, twisted her arms behind her back, the knife still in her fingers. She screamed, wordless now, a frantic bird in hands that could crush her. He could not take the knife without releasing her arms. Her fist around the hilt trembled against his chest.
Words came out of him in his father's language, a meditation chant.
"Peace, little one," he said, knowing she could not understand. "Peace, little one. Let go of pain. Let go all the stones that weigh you down. Peace is light. Peace is light." The knife was still in her fingers. He would not feel fear. He would not do her the disservice of fear. "Let go. Let go of pain. Peace, little one. Let go."
She let go, the knife clattering to the floor at his feet, her screams melting to sobs. She would have fallen if he had not held her up, lifting her in his arms when she would not stand. The Captain and Inara stared after them as he carried River to her chamber.
He sat where he supposed her brother had sat many times, and watched over her until, and long after, she slept.
11. Fleeting Instant
I wake up
Put on my face
Identify with the human race
The previous inhabitant of Spock's chamber was deceased now, a religious leader of some sort whom the others spoke of in subdued tones. He had left a razor and shaving mirror, so Spock was at least able to maintain a tidy appearance. The gradual growth of his non-facial hair escaped his concern for some time, until the morning he realized that it had grown over the tips of his ears.
He paused mid-shave, unsettled. Did it matter here, if he did not maintain Vulcan standards of appearance? If not here, where?
They would make planetfall on Persephone in ten days, to buy supplies and gather information on their enemies' pursuit. Discretion was essential to their survival. Trimming his hair would reveal his ears, would make him stand out. It could, conceivably, cost them all of them their lives. Logic dictated he leave it, for the time being.
But there would never be a good time for Serenity's crew to stand out. Even if he left them, and no one had said he could not, it would be unwise of him to attract such attention. He had seen no evidence that these were a people with the means or desire to engage in recreational self-modification; there would be no explanation for his differences but deformity, and a frontier culture such as this was often unkind to freaks.
He could not be a Vulcan here.
No, he could not seemto be a Vulcan here. There was a difference. He could still maintain the philosophy of Surak. He could still honor the disciplines his father taught him. He did not have to descend to the level of base, uncontrolled emotion exhibited by the humans around him.
He did not have to heed the voice whispering that he was a child of two worlds, and that even in this new universe, these strange and chaotic humans were as much his people as the Vulcans that he would never see again.
I'm on my knees
Are left for me to hold
Nothing comes easily
Fill this empty space
Nothing is like it was
Turn my grief to grace
He declined River's offer of a chess game. Declined to participate in the rowdy ball game the crew played later. Took his meal alone in his chamber.
River entered without knocking, slender legs coming silently down the ladder, red gingham skirt following, then thin, strong arms and unbound hair.
Leave, he thought. But he did not say it.
She stood and looked at him, still, wordless. And waited.
At long last, he spoke, or at least words came from him. He hadn't intended them to.
"I saw my homeworld destroyed. My mother. My mother died before my eyes. I saved my father. But I'll never see him again."
She was quiet for a minute. "Star."
"The girl you think of when you hear Chinese."
Spock had stopped questioning River's bits of impossible knowledge. Vulcans could meld minds at the touch of a hand; might not humans have stranger gifts? She was right, as usual; Nyota was Swahili for 'star,' and he did think of her when he heard Chinese. She spoke Chinese, Swahili, Russian, French, Klingon, High and Low Movdarian. Vulcan.
"You'll never see her again, either," River said.
Spock closed his eyes. Peace. Let go of pain.
"I can't see everything," River said, face calm, but voice edged with distress. "I can't see Simon. I can't see Kaylee."
The missing crewmembers, Spock remembered. River's brother and his wife.
"Shepherd says to have faith," she continued. "I always believed in what I could see." The calm mask of her face was cracking.
"My mother spoke of her God, now and then," Spock said. "Of a Heaven that existed on another plane. Thousands of years of science, she said, had failed to disprove its existence."
River sat next to him on the bed, tears trickling from her closed eyes. "Nothing loved is ever lost. That's what the white hole said. Things are more real the closer you get to the center. Even if they're gone from here, they're real."
She was trembling, trying to hold herself in. Trying not to make him uncomfortable with her display of emotion. But he was not uncomfortable. Rather, he was not repulsed. This tight ache, this empty-handed need he could not articulate, they were not comfortable.
But they eased, or perhaps grew worse, or both, when he touched her.
At first he thought only of how his mother would hold and comfort him as a child, before he grew old enough to push her away. River was human, they remained children forever in some ways. Perhaps he could comfort her.
But if he was comforting her, why was she the one with her arms around him, stroking his hair? Why was he the one fighting for breath through tears?
Father would be ashamed. But Father isn't here.
"It'll get better for you," River whispered against his skin. "Step forward, step back, and stumbling, but you'll learn the steps." Her breath caught on a sob that was almost a laugh. "You've gone down the rabbit hole, Mr. Spock. We're all mad here."
Her hands felt good on his face and shoulders, and his hands felt good in her hair and on her back, pulling her closer, and when their foreheads touched and their faces tilted toward each other it seemed only the next logical step, her lips a comfort, like her arms and fingers and the soft curve from her neck to her shoulder, and the only thing in this universe capable of holding him together.
13. Twisted Logic
Sunlight opened up my eyes
To see for the first time
You'll open them up
Rivers will run dry
And not for the first time
Rivers will run
14. What the Snowman Learned About Love
How the heart bends, and summer she sends
A sky that refuses to die
She taught him dancing on Persephone.
She led him through the swirling madness of the fruit-market-and-goat-bazaar that passed as a shipyard, and into what seemed to be a public park. The grass was patchy and trampled. Ribbons hung from the hunched, hardscrabble trees, a mix of fresh, flashy color and wind-torn, sun-faded rags. In the shade of one tree were three elderly folk of the epicanthic-eyelid racial subtype, two of them playing wooden flutes while a third beat a small drum. A gaggle of children danced in a circle.
River grinned at him, and leaped into the circle.
Dancingisforchildren, he wanted to say. Todevelopmuscletoneandcoordination.Itservesnopurposeinadultlife. But River was human, and humans remained children forever in some ways. Perhaps River more than most.
The dance improved when River joined it; she guided the others into a complex round of twirling, kicking, step-left step-right. They followed her, perhaps not even consciously, working themselves into her pattern. Vulcan children danced in neat rows, arms'-length apart, synchronized but never touching. These dancers held hands, linked arms, touch-left touch-right circle-twice touch-again. River was smiling, in wonder as much as joy, cheeks flushed, hair flying as she spun.
And he could see it, suddenly, the disparate pieces coming together. This was what united the two Rivers, the one composed of equations and quantum theorems with the one composed of fierce and frantic rage, fear, joy and grief. Dance. Mathematics in movement, patterns in frivolity. The logical expression of emotion.
Suddenly he was not so ashamed of having kissed her.
We're a different pair, do something out of step
Throw a stranger an unexpected smile
with big intentions
Still posted at your station
Always on about the day it should have flown
16. Napalm Love
How strange is your love
How warm is your love
How tough is your love
There were strange privacies given to the Captain and Inara - an unwillingness to enter a room when they were alone inside it, a feigned deafness when shouts of anger (or other sounds) echoed down the metal corridors. This pretended inattention persisted even when Inara and the Captain quarreled, or touched, or smiled at each other, in full view of the rest of the crew. Zoe, River, and even Jayne confined their reactions to silent glances of mixed amusement and exasperation. It took an inexcusably long time for Spock to realize what this meant.
It took him even longer to notice that the crew was granting similar courtesies to himself and River Tam.
One afternoon the Captain joined him in the dining area as Spock was attempting to prepare the evening meal, a task at which they all took a turn, with varying degrees of failure.
"That stuff stirs better if you heat it first," the Captain said.
"I am aware," Spock said. "Heat, however, alters the texture in other ways as well. My goal is..." He looked down at the lumpy, unappetizing mixture in the bowl a moment, and shoved it into the flash-heater. "My goal is irrelevant. The experiment was a failure. The heated result will provide nourishment, if not pleasure."
"Most usual outcome, around here. We ain't had a decent meal since the Shepherd... Anyhow, don't know if you heard, River found a workaround for that busted regulator. Looks like we'll make the rendezvous on schedule."
Spock picked up a metal can of preserved food. The label had been removed. "Though she professes a great deficiency of talent compared to her sister-in-law, Miss Tam's engineering skills seem to have sufficed so far."
"True enough. Fact is, we'd all be pretty sunk without her." He watched Spock open the can. It contained what appeared to be a dairy-based sauce. "'Spite of all the trouble she's caused us, we've gotten plumb attached to her."
"She would add value to any crew."
"What value does she have to you, Spock?"
He paused in the act of adding the dairy sauce to the newly-heated dinner mixture. "Sir?"
The Captain sighed. "This here's her brother's proper place, not mine, but it looks like I'll have to do for now. I ain't been sure what to make of you, Spock. The funny ears and funnier blood and professorial speakin' are one thing, but the fact is I don't know one thing more about you than I did when you first came aboard. Now, Zoe likes you, that's worth something. Says you're like an iceberg, ninety percent below the surface. Me, I'd like to know exactly what we've got lurking beneath the waterline."
Spock blinked. "I am, of course, at the Captain's disposal. What do you wish to know, sir?"
"Well, first and foremost, I wish to know your intentions toward my pilot."
The Captain frowned and gave Spock one of his dark glares, the sort that had been Spock's first clue that this crew did not always run with the law. "I'll cut to the chase, xueren. If you disturb any part of that girl's admittedly unsteady well-being, we'll be seeing some more of that green blood. We clear?"
The Captain nodded and turned to go.
He looked over his shoulder.
"I would never harm River, sir," Spock said.
"See that you don't," the Captain said, and left the room.
17. Time is Running Out
You're something beautiful
18. Love Song Requiem
I die each time you look away
My heart, my life will never be the same
This love will take my everything
One breath, one touch will be the end of me
He had arrived in this universe exactly 100 days ago, and the contemplation of that realization had distracted him, allowing River to beat him at chess. Somehow it had begun there, and ended with River screaming in Chinese and slamming the engine room doors in his face.
They were quarreling, for the first time, and he did not even know what about.
"River," he said to the closed doors, knowing she could hear.
Her answer was very nearly inaudible. He could only catch phrases. "...mistake...get the best of me...trapped here...everyone I loved...go back..."
He did not acknowledge the startled, stabbing pain these words caused, did not acknowledge their familiarity. Clearly, she needed time to assume control of her emotions. He walked away.
She joined the crew for evening meal, but did not speak to Spock. He discovered that she could Not Speak at a deafening volume, and was both irritated by and grateful for the strange human courtesy that prevented anyone from remarking on it. He cultivated discussion with Inara about the importance of dress and appearance in her profession, debated with Jayne about humans' irrational belief in the existence of luck, even drew the taciturn Captain into a conversation on the usefulness of training in weapons use versus hand-to-hand. But River's silence was louder than all their talk, and conversation withered beneath it.
Of course, their quarrel was hardly the only reason for the crew of Serenity to feel ill at ease.
"We'll make Deadwood sometime in the p.m. tomorrow," the Captain said at last. "We aim to come in slow, get a look at where we're jumping before we land in it. If we've beat Simon and Kaylee to the rendezvous, Petaline won't be expecting us."
"Petaline?" Spock asked.
"Madam at the whorehouse. We helped her out of a jam once. Not that she owes us, as we was paid right nice for our trouble, but she ain't likely to turn us out all the same. Less'n we bring a heap of trouble on her head." A bleakness settled into the lines of his face.
River got up and left the table.
Spock's participation in the after-dinner relaxation activities was minimal at best, and, he realized now, always centered on River. Without her to challenge at chess or Go or riddles or even a debate on the theoretical dynamics of goose-juggling, there seemed little reason to stay awake.
He had grown unwisely dependent on her company, and perhaps, allowed her to do the same. She had chosen a poor time to quarrel with him; if all did not go well at the rendezvous tomorrow, she would need...
Could he provide what she needed? Did he want to?
He found himself at the door to her chamber, where he had been only... twice? three times? She always came to him, dropping silently into his dim room when all others were asleep, always with something to tell him, something to ask him, some odd discovery to share, and they would spend hours talking of superficialities. Or seeming superficialities. Eventually she would speak of returning to her room, but unless he said something to encourage it, it would be his bed she stretched out on as their eyes grew heavy and talk turned to deep, quiet things that could only be said in dim rooms, not facing each other, not quite certain the other was awake. In the beginning he would sit in the chair across the room, but now they fell asleep together in the narrow bunk. She was always gone when he woke.
Her door would be locked, he was certain. He would go alone to his own chamber, as was most likely best.
But the door opened.
She lay on her brother's bed, eyes closed, face damp and flushed. He was once again struck by the tension that left her face when she was at peace, not fighting her losing battle to function normally. Perhaps she would be reunited with her brother tomorrow. He would like to see her have that joy. And if she no longer needed his company so constantly thereafter, so much the better for them both.
He knelt beside the bed and touched fingertips to her face.
She opened her eyes, and he dropped his hand, startled. He half-expected a renewal of the Chinese obscenities, but she didn't speak, only scooted away from him. It took him a moment to realize she was holding the blanket open. Not retreating, only making room.
He settled the blanket around both of them, and tried to ignore the very unVulcanlike way his arms tightened around her. She was so small. Strong, her body an instrument kept carefully in tune, but still so small.
Could he provide what she needed? Did he want to?
19. Prologue: Across the Sky
I have put my faith in aberrations of your kind
Oh how I adore you
Oh how I thirst for you
Oh how I need you
They all crowded onto the bridge for the approach to Deadwood, hungry to see the immensity of a planet after months in the claustrophobic confines of Serenity. Spock, somehow expecting an Earth-like planet of blue and green, was unprepared for the brown, lifeless-seeming desert world. It looked so much like Vulcan that he was suddenly unable to breathe, arrested by the memory of crumbling rock, collapsing mountains, his world falling in on itself.
River's touch on his hand was a welcome distraction.
The Captain took the co-pilot's station beside them and began flicking switches, preparing to send a wave to Petaline. He froze in place as the screen crackled to life on its own.
"-have long-to God this gets through-do not make landfall, repeat, do notmake landfall!"
The image that flickered and shuddered before them was of a pretty young woman with chestnut hair, her face and voice distorted with panic.
"Kaylee!" the Captain cried. "Where are you? Where-"
"They were waiting for us, I don't-ouldn't have-but-ave to get out of here now!"
"River, full throttle!" the Captain barked.
"Where's Simon?" River demanded of the girl in the vid.
The deck underfoot bucked, sending them stumbling. The Captain swore. "That'll be the welcome wagon. Spock, engine room! River, fly the rutting ship!"
A male voice on Kaylee's side shouted "Kaylee, we have to go!"
Spock ran for the engine room.
One could not, Spock thought, properly call an encounter between several warships and one unarmed transport vessel a "battle." Whatever it was, it wasn't going well. Or perhaps the fact that they were still alive indicated it was going quite well indeed. No point worrying either way. The only thing he could do was focus on his job.
Spock spent the better part of an hour dashing from one end of the engine room to the other, attempting to preserve the ship's functions through stresses that burst through fragile repairs, bone-rattling impacts that damaged what little had been intact. At unpredictable moments, some flick of River's wrist would send the ship careening beyond the compensatory skills of the artificial gravity, sending him crashing into a wall.
Or the ceiling.
Things went briefly fuzzy after that, and then dark altogether.
21. Gravity of Love
In the eye of storm you'll see a lonely dove
The experience of survival is the key
To the gravity of love
Peace in. Chaos out. Peace in. Chaos out. Fly the rutting ship.
Don't see blood on Kaylee's face. Don't hear fear in Simon's voice. Don't wish for Spock Spock Spock
See only the Alliance ships coming at you with bright with shiny death.
Focus focus focus
Wash where are you Wash
Calm peace calm focus
Over under sideways
Can't take many more like that
Come on, Wash, help me out
Dance with them don't let them touch you
Sideways under over
Leaves fluttering, dinosaurs tumbling
Gravity well entering atmo that's not good
Wait maybe it is good, maybe
No didn't work
22. Book of Days
One step, one fall, one falter,
find a new earth across a wide ocean.
This way became my journey,
this day ends together, far and away
Spock woke slowly, painfully, tried to take stock of his situation with a brain almost too rattled to function. His body hurt in several places, but nothing seemed seriously injured. A green smudge of blood stained his hand when he touched his forehead, but it was already nearly dry.
He eased to his feet, blinking, leaning against a large, rough object... His eyes focused. It was a tree. A tree had torn through the hull into the engine room.
Crashed. They had crashed on the planet.
"River!" His shout came out as a croak, and his run was more of a stumble, but he made it out of the engine room and into the dining area, where metal plating had ripped away overhead, letting sunlight invade the ship. A battered-looking Zoe was helping Inara throw up into the sink-common side effect of concussion in humans.
"Jayne's that way," Zoe said when she saw Spock. "Leg's broke."
"What about River? And the Captain?"
She shook her head. "Can't get to the bridge."
The corridor to the bridge was a tangle of twisted metal, splintered wood, and tumbled rock. Jayne lay in the periphery of it, one leg pinned beneath a spill of stone, swearing fluently.
"Spock! Hey, Spock, get me out of this! Hey, I'm over here!"
Spock continued clearing stones and lengths of steel from the opposite side of the corridor. "I must get through. There is less chance of burying you in a collapse if I start here."
"You could try moving me first," Jayne said indignantly, and logic was on his side. But extricating Jayne would take precious minutes, perhaps an hour or more, and River was on the other side of that rubble.
By the time he broke through the wreckage, his hands were ripped and bleeding, arms and back aching from heaving broken stone and tree trunks.
"River," he called, squeezing through what remained of the doorway. The bridge was dim, the sun largely blocked by the rocks and earth spilling through the viewport. Broken glass glittered across every surface. "River!"
Someone groaned, and Spock stepped toward the sound-not River, but the Captain, bloodied and prone but intact. He could wait. Spock picked his way toward the pilot's seat, now mostly buried. He was almost there before he saw the single, slender foot in the shadows beneath the pilot's station.
This, he thought as he tore dirt and glass and metal out of his way, this is why Surak called emotion unwise. This is why Vulcans have struggled for millennia to escape the tyranny of uncontrolled passions.
I cannot go through this again.
His hands shook as he pulled River out from under the pilot's station, brushed blood-stiffened hair from her face, pressed fingertips to the vein beneath her jaw line, a pulse, dear God Zeus Buddha or whoever cares to hear me, let that be a pulse -
"Ouch," River croaked, and could say nothing more because Spock was kissing her, holding her as tightly as he could without crushing her, kissing her lips and cheeks and forehead and throat, and her first startled rigidity quickly melted into something much more cooperative.
"Clearly," she murmured, pulling away just far enough to speak, "I should have crashed the ship sooner." She was laughing - laughing - and to his shock so was he, and crying too. This day could not get more shameful for a Vulcan-but for a half-human in love with a human, that was perhaps different. He kissed her again, softer, slower, committing it to memory just in case he might ever forget, when his self-restraint reasserted itself. He could not stand to ever forget this.
"As much as I truly do hate to ruin the moment," came the Captain's voice, "those Alliance ships are still hunting us. We'd best commence to running and hiding like the thieving rats we are."
"Aye, Captain." Spock reluctantly pulled away from her, though he kept one hand against her cheek. She covered it with her own hand, and raised the other to brush back his hair and trace the outline of his ear.
"Curiouser and curiouser," she murmured, smiling with a mix of joy and awe and mischief and wondering disbelief. "I told you I didn't know what would happen if you rolled the dice." She brought her hand down, now smeared with green blood beside a stripe of her own red. "Stop and go. Christmas. I knew we would both bleed."
"Indeed." They would always have a talent for ripping each other open, he could see that already. Loving her was going to hurt. It already hurt. I have a very high pain tolerance.
Her smile had faltered. "Simon and Kaylee..."
"We will find them."
She studied him carefully, then nodded, satisfied. "Then let us commence to running and hiding like the thieving rats we are." Smiling again, she took his hand, and they climbed out of the ship into the sunlight.