Disclaimer: Cold and craggy Paramount hoards its treasures jealously, but the Great Bird of the Galaxy inspires those under his protection.

Notes: an old study--you know the type, they hide in the shampoo and spear you during the shower and then you go, 'whoa, where did that come from?-- dusted off a bit and given a new jacket.


Striking A Lucifer

by Nightfall


Sometimes, when I feel damned, I tell myself that no child should be brought up in the Bible Belt; it twists the thoughts and the mind. Mostly, though, I go hunt down Spock for a game of chess. Somehow, just sitting with that mind of minds across from me entirely focused on *not letting me win,* I feel better. Not to mention that 3D chess with a galactic grand master like Spock is one hell of a distraction. I am, however, only Terran, and the rest of the time I brood.

It's just a feeling, of course, and although a number of people agree with me (most Klingons, all Romulans, quite a lot of people from Eminiar...), I admit that the question is debatable. Hell, I personally argue it out with myself every time I come back from a really tough mission. The voices in my head go, 'I should be dead now.' 'Oh, and since when do I believe in should?' 'Fine--I would be dead if it weren't for a miracle.' 'Oh, Bones is a miracle, now?' 'Miracle my gold braid; he's obviously a demon sent to prolong my suffering indefinitely.' 'Okay, JT, now you're not only getting paranoid (which can be a good thing) , you're getting pathetic (which can't). You're talking nonsense. Go find Spock.'

But if I'm talking nonsense, why do I keep running away from paradises? No- -be honest. Rephrase. I don't run away, I just mangle the living daylights out of them. There, that's better. It's true, at least. Truth is usually better than the alternatives.

Why? Can't stand 'em, that's why. Literally can't. I get down in a place like that, and it's overwhelming. The earth hasn't known pollution. The people haven't known plague, medical or psychological. There's no one around but a bunch of innocent little souls, and my landing party, who feel a lot of the same things I do but are convinved that I both need and deserve to be protected, and most of them are not much tarnished. And Spock...

What can I say? Under such circumstances, *I don't feel real.* Happiness and light are very appealing in the abstract, but they're a little bit alien to somebody who gets paid to be a gigolo and is probably going to lose another green boy in red next week, too. Whenever I'm in a situation like that, I feel like I'm drowning in cotton candy. Can't move, can't speak, can't breathe. My body does things, but it's on autopilot. It isn't, of course, but I feel that way. It's horrible. Happiness is not my natural environment.

I've read that Holocaust victems refused to leave the gates of Aushwitz. I've also heard that the Holocaust never happened. I'm more inclined to believe the former.

I don't believe myself to be evil--couldn't command if I did. I do wonder, though, about my tendency to make ripples in places that were happy until I got there. Is it possible to be a creature born of evil without being inherantly evil oneself? I like that concept, but I could just be deluding myself. I am such an eden-garden serpent--which is strange, because I always wanted to scream myself hoarse at it to leave well enough alone.

Stagnation isn't a good way to live, certainly, but very often a people is living in a stillness that isn't rotting, and I make ripples without the intent to do so. I can explain to HQ exactly why I was right to bend the Prime Directive six ways from Friday this week, but I can't explain it to myself. All I know is that I'll suddenly snap into reality and I'll find myself on a podium with a speech streaming from my mouth and a utopia shattered (never destroyed, but always shattered) at my feet.

Then, of course, I have to finish the damn speech. And I have to make it sound as though I mean it. I try not to fall into cliches, but the transition is intensely shocking.

I'll find myself with the air clear around me, I can move and speak and breathe, and I feel confusion, suspicion, and hostility on my skin, and I feel real again; I know and believe that I exist. And so, time after time, I find myself sitting in this chair (which is astonishingly uncomfortable; I think it's one of those stupid tests they dream up for first year cadets. Which first: dying of discomfort, asking for help, or spending the two percent of my salary that doesn't go into my nephew's trust fund on a new chair?), staring out the viewport in my quarters, thinking, 'Am I worth it?'

Oh, hell.

"Kirk to Spock."

"Spock here, Captain."

"Up for chess later?"

"Always sir. Although now preferable."

"Okay, I'm in my quarters."

And what in the seven circles did I do to deserve him, anyway?