ETA: I've revamped slightly (mostly format, not content). I know it's been forever, but this story still gets hits and...well...I have Ch 4 on my computer so I decided to revise it. Some things aren't stylistically up to standard (it's been five years) but not off enough to warrant a full revision.

This is my first try at an AC fic, so please be nice! I tried to make it romantic without focusing too heavily on war/betrayal/politics, but since this is an AC fic, expect those in later chapters. Also,I'm going to try to focus on knowledge, especially after the war ends. But there's lots of time before then, so smile! And, this may or may not keep to some sort of canon- I'm thinking it's going to veer off in its own direction.

Writing style: hopefully not too fast/confusing, but I plan on skipping some intervals of time. Pretty much normal style for me- but 'normal for me' is sometimes more thought-filled than action-filled, so please be patient. Also hopefully not too unwieldy to undermine the story. Enjoy!

Chapter One- Stars Aligning

One last sad celebration on Earth. He had met her then, Deirdre Skye, the youngest scientist of them all. Zakharov hated parties, always had, and strongly disapproved of having one now, though he supposed it would be a good way to meet the people he would be forced to work with when they…left. At least, when they had eaten their sparse meal and the time for socializing had come, he could retreat into the shadows.

He acquisitioned a bottle of vodka from the table--self-awarded for coming and putting up with Chaplain Miriam Goodwinson's speculations the entire meal about why God wasn't punishing them. If Zakharov had ever been religious, he had slowly replaced religion with philosophy; he was hardly an atheist, but neither did he trust Miriam's hungry God. There was a sitting room off of the main hall, into which he gratefully went to try to forget what she had said.

But as he sank down into a welcoming leather chair, he heard voices--one male, one female. In disapproval he strained to hear--he hardly wanted to give up his sitting space, but neither did he want to become a unwitting voyeur.

"Let us match shots, my dear," said a voice that was trying to be gallant and courteous and failed. Zakharov snickered. He recognized the Economic Adviser Morgan, a sometime friend. Obviously this woman was someone that Morgan found…stimulating, or else wanted to humiliate in public.

"Alright," responded an unfamiliar female voice, a little unsure.

He heard a drink being poured, and some laughter from further away. He sighed and poured himself his own. He would stay for now, refusing to be rooted from his antisocial perch unless absolutely necessary.

"Now, my dear, you must not be intimidated by some of the minds here. They may consider you, I warn you…a little young. You are not even thirty, yes?"

"I'm twenty-five," said she. Now this was getting ridiculous. Morgan, Zakharov knew, though of an indeterminate age, was older than he!

"They will try to play on your own inexperience and call you naïve, foolish, girlish, who knows. But I'm sure that in time you will learn…here, let's have another one…that you can play on their outdated ways as well. Cheers."

They drank again, and again. After four shots Zakharov was pretty sure that Morgan, though he sounded perfectly reasonable, was after something or other; there was a lilt in his tone when he told her what the others might think that implied that he himself did think such things. He decided it would be best for him to intercede. He had figured out who Morgan's companion was: the Unity's soon-to-be ecologist, something of a child prodigy. It had been a shock when she had been put in charge, but the Captain believed in her intelligence and capability. Unfortunately, establishing her authority was going to be her most difficult task: Zakharov had heard she was beautiful and young; although any scientist would bow to her abilities objectively, envy and spite had followed her. But even though they had not met, he hardly wished her the ill that Morgan was trying to bestow.

So he was about to step out from behind the curtains and steer one of them away from the other when Morgan said, "Well, I shouldn't monopolize your attention, Deirdre. Lots of people seem to want to entertain the pretty scientist. Those seem to be in short supply."

Zakharov almost wanted to call Morgan on what he had just said about scientists in general and Deirdre in particular, but he would settle for asking him later, he had decided, when Deirdre Skye stumbled through the curtains and into his private little corner.

"Oh," she said, her blue eyes round. "You're…you're…him."

"And who is he?" Zakharov teased a little. He had seen this woman at the banquet table, about five seats down and opposite him, and wondered at her beauty. But he had thought she was some bureaucrat's daughter, or a minor aide.

Her job would be challenging; the planet they were going to, now that Earth was dying, would be full of strange environments. On the Unity she was in charge of keeping the few native plants they would bring with them alive until it was time to plant them in the new atmosphere. This was extremely important, for who knew what plants they would be able to eat when they arrived?

But she was a self-confessed twenty-five, and she was vibrant, beautiful, and not at all proven. And here she was, slightly drunk--or more than that--thanks to Morgan, and putting together a response to his teasing.

"The Chief Research Scientist. I asked if I could meet you, and Captain Garland just laughed and asked why I wanted to. And then he said that if I was here tonight and I found the most shadowy, isolated place in the hall, I could talk to you all I wanted."

Zakharov laughed. John really knew him too well. "Well, you have your wish. So what would you like to talk about?"

"Well, there are lots of things, but I think…" she blinked in confusion. Looking down at her hands. "I'm sorry, I'm a bit..."

"They can wait," he said in a much graver tone, reflecting on the length of the journey and all the fun times they'd be having in the new world.

"Okay! Waiting is good!" said she, once again cheered. "But you don't think I'm too young, do you?"

It wasn't meant to be sexual at all, especially with him having overheard her conversation with Morgan, but she tripped approaching him and fell into his lap. She shifted to look at him, saying, "Sorry," in a soft, almost-sober tone of voice.

"We'll talk later," he said, his senses on fire. "And no, I don't think you're too young for anything to stop you from doing what you desire."

She blinked those large blue eyes at him again--and promptly fell asleep. Zakharov set her down gently, on the chair beside his, and poured himself some more vodka, if only to calm himself down. "Lusting after the ecologist isn't going to help me on this journey," he reflected as he contemplated the long road ahead of them.

But before he left the room he let his eyes study her delicate form. He resolved to stay away from Deirdre Skye as long as possible, if only to keep his sanity intact.

But other forces were converging around them. Chaplain Miriam, needing a place away from others for awhile, was drawn to a small certain room. Pausing to discern whether there were people inside, she heard Zakharov say, "So what would you like to talk about?"

Ugh, Zakharov. Some inept social planner had sat them together at dinner, and it hadn't been pleasant for either of them. He was an atheist at heart, she knew, and would only interfere with her beliefs and the morale of the crew. But she wondered what he was really saying, underneath the guarded tone, and so she stayed.

She was shocked to hear an answering female voice, too low for her to catch all the words, "There are…things…" and even more shocked to hear him respond, "They can wait," with animal lust in his voice. It was a disgusting conversation, one that she was glad to hear- and yet wished she hadn't.

For with the next question, about age, she recognized that female voice. It was Deirdre Skye, the young ecologist. Miriam had solved the mystery of how such a young girl had obtained a position of authority on the Unity; it must have been Zakharov's favoritism! But to think they would be so bold as to carry on here, in public…

"We'll talk later," said Zakharov with disgusting promises in his voice. Miriam fled lest she begin hearing even more improper things- which, no doubt, were occurring in that curtained room.

But the sheer indecency offended her so deeply that she resolved to inhibit Zakharov as best she could, and perhaps draw Deirdre away from his evil clutches before it was too late. She was young, after all, and probably didn't realize what she was getting into. Perhaps she could still see the light of God?

Well, that's the end for now. Never fear, I do have more ideas...(although that could be a cause for fear, one never knows). Don't you like Miriam's reinterpretation of D/Z's conversation? What an impression she has of them.

Suggestions, flames, philosophical treatises, mathematical equations...whatever you want me to have, I'll take!