Notes: This is very weird and very dark and just kind of...yeah. I don't even know.

Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek 2009, and I make no profit from this work.


It starts with – hands free.

Jim is hands free. He always does things that way – the Human way, the – he knew the phrase once – the leaping without observation, similar-not-quite, way. There was an advertisement once – a Human child, on a yellow bicycle. "Look, Mom!" he can hear the voice like the child is in the cell. "No hands!" And a doctor with bones under his skin and nothing else (but a mangled heart, somewhere? Somewhere?) said once – later, earlier, he can't remember – the problem with you Vulcans is you can never do anything hands free.

He wonders where his hands are.

They're there. They must be there. The bones said that the hobgoblins cannot do things hands free like Jim, and he is a hobgoblin. It is logical. His hands must be there. Somewhere.

His mother was hands free. They talked for her. They would flutter and dance and he remembers the hum of her thought, and the satisfaction in him. Perhaps he had her hands, because she was not – she was Human, like Jim and the bones. But he knows, even now he knows, that Mother is gone. Her hands are gone.

Perhaps his hands are with her, and that is where they are. So he had them, but they are gone now. Which means he is no longer the hobgoblin.

Who is he now?

There is something – the connection comes and slides sideways – hands free and footloose. A freedom. Freedom itself, the ability to – she had told him that one, a formal ball, shimmering dress. It is not dancing, but it came to mean it. She was footloose.

She still is. Her obligation is to herself, and he envied her the ability – its slides – did he envy the ability to be free (hands free?) or the ability to dance? She danced like the world was hers. There were stories – even words, they had them in the desert too (his desert or hers? He cannot remember…) of nature dancing. The wind, the air, the sand, life. They do not dance.

She danced. She is footloose, and she is alive. Does life dance? She dances, she is alive – she is life, she dances. Footloose.

Life is footloose.

But he is not. He has obligations, he has – connections – but no. The connections are gone. The "you know what that thing looks like? It looks like some weird-ass hairclip thing. I think one of my exes had one of those." ship came and the hole is still there in space, in him, here, now, then. The connections are gone – with Mother, with her hands, with his hands. He is free.

He is alone. Freedom – freedom is to be alone.

He is footloose, and he could dance at the ball. He wore – he cannot remember. He remembers her dress, and the dark silk of her skin, and the way she kissed him.

He cannot remember if he kissed her back.

If he stretches – his mind, reaches back, into the holes behind his eyes and dark spaces where he used to think – he thinks he did, but he is no longer sure – he can hear the voices, clattering at the bones, and he can remember what the sun – Eridani, Sol, Kessara, he does not know – looked like from a white-sand beach. Jim had made him remove his shoes. The bones were in the water – but the bones had toenails, neat and straight, and hair running along the shins.

It does not make sense.

None – of this – makes – sense.

He recognises the thought like one does a vase, but he refuses – something refuses – to touch it, to examine it, and so the darkness swallows it whole. He thinks he hears the smash, and it must have had water, because he can feel the warmth. Liquid. The water must have been warm. At least that much makes sense.

But the water – the bones said it was not warm. "Goddamn cold, I'll give you that." And then his boots were on, the ship has no beach, and the bones had shivered and said, "That icewater in your veins." The water cannot be warm. Why is the water warm? He can hear the voice, but the place is gone – why was the water warm? He wants to ask, he strains to ask, reaching to find him - but the bones were Human bones, and they cannot listen to his mind.

Thoughts make no sound. Nothing audible. There is no sound energy lost, merely electrical, merely potential, merely – the phrase pops and bursts behind his eyes, or in front of them, hovering in the air, and it bleeds and sink away. Headstrong. He is headstrong. Mother said it once, among the roses – "Headstrong! You remember that word, sweetheart, that's your stubborn old mule of a father!" – and it had been another man but it was him – "Jim, you won't win this one, that Vulcan is just about the only thing on this ship more headstrong than you are." – and this makes sense. He can take comfort. This makes sense – his head is too strong to let the thoughts out, and so they collect, confused and lost, and clutter up the place. It should be cleaned. Clutter is illogical. There is a clatter. No. Clutter. Clatter is something else.

His quarters are warm, absent of clatterclutter but draped in red, and Jim had blazed like the sun and said, "C'mon, man, talk to me!" and – he had not, he had not said that, he had…something else, someone else. It had not been Jim there – why did it matter? What did the clutterclatter matter? Jim is hands free. Clutter does not matter. He is too headstrong for clutter to matter – the clutter cannot get in, and the clutter cannot get out, and there is nothing he can do so – footloose, he felt the slide that time, the darkness is wavering, something is –

It hurts. The thoughts hurt, where they are bouncing off his mind – illogical, thoughts cannot bounce off a mind – nothing can bounce off – thoughts do not – illogical, I do not know, but this is – this is – this – does – not – make – sense – the world is sliding sideways, and it hurts. He will spill. The water will spill, and it will hurt – it does not make sense, but it is true. He cannot keep the water, it slips through his fingers but his hands are gone – he has fingers without hands and it hurts!

He remembers – a man in blue. A Human man, with hair along the arms, and these eyes. He can remember his eyes. The man – his eyes could smile like tiny mouths, and mean it, and his eyes could talk – it is true, it does not have to make sense today – and he would say, "Well now, aren't you a sight for sore eyes?" He – the mess hall, evening, late in the – epsilon, iota – the phrase did not make sense, and the man had laughed – humour, social bonding, humour, Human – if the sight of him made the eyes sore – "Not what it…" there is a bird whistling. Why is there a bird on the ship? "Never mind. If it makes you feel any better, you're an eyesore in disguise."

Is it a good disguise?

He did not ask – he strains to. He reaches out to the man, to catch the sleeve. The hair is warm. He cannot – the explosion. There is an explosion, and there is – hurt, he hurts, everything hurts and he wants to scream, to cry, to vent, to be Human, just Human, just be Human for a little while and the goddamn hobgoblins don't understand heartache because this hurts like nothing else, this is – too much, this is too much – and the man melts away and he is alone.

This is – the phrase echoes. Heartache, the man called it. But this is – he knows this. The hobgoblins understand, or he does. The phrase bounces, and his – headache. He remembers the sound of his mother laughing. He wants to. The man has heartache, and he has headache – but – he has heartache too. The hole lives there. And the water – the water is cold. It does not ripple. The hole eats the water and he is wrung out and dry. He cannot think for the thirst . Not thirst. Something else. He cannot think! He wants to –

Footloose. This is footloose, freedom, so free that everything bleeds out – bleeds out, it was not water, it was never water and where are his hands? – footloose and abandoned to the dark, the lonely, the cold, the freedom, and all – "Here." – the smiling eyes are gone. Are his eyes gone? No, no, the hurt is there, they are hurting, and if they are hurting then they are there – logic, logic, logic obeys no blood and footloose freedom – and is this eyesore, is he (an) eyesore now? "Hear me?" He cannot listen with his eyes, and they are sore; he cannot – are they loose, are they – they ache, and he is free, but they are not, they are –

The light is blinding, a flash of the universe like a laser scalpel to the scalp and he hurts – his nerves explode, the clutter shrieking and burning in his head and the memories are howling, begging, pleading – protect, protect, protect – and – there – are – hands.

There is – warm, they are warm and – non-clutter-thoughts, like strings, threads, ropes, and he begs for them, reaching into the warm, and there are voices and memories and warm and everything hurts, hurts so badly and "keep your eyes open for me, that's it, keep 'em open" and the bones are soft and the hands are not his and there are feet in black boots and they are still, not loose but still and this makes no sense, this makes no sense…

"Trust me." The first had been a girl with the most beautiful hands, and she had cared with that raw alien texture to the thought. And then "trust me?" had been Jim, burning like a sun on the edge of nova, something deadly, but he could "just trust me" because the bones refused to burn and was always watching, waiting, ready

"Trust us. C'mon. Trust us. Trust me."

He trusts, and the pain fades away.