Date: 04/16/2011 8:35 AM Title: chapter 7.3
I usually don't read WIPs because I become engrossed in them and the author doesn't finish, for one reason or another. But I'm happy that I took a chance on this and that you are still adding to it. I am enough chapters behind that it will take me a little while to catch up.
I am truly enjoying this read. Hugs.
Date: 04/16/2011 7:35 AM Title: chapter 7.3
I’m willing to bet that Prime has somehow found Nero’s wife – Arrhae. It may either be the version from Nero’s original timeline, or Spock has found her in this timeline. If she is from this timeframe it certainly explains her trepidation, as all she knows of him is his campaign of destruction. Hardly the basis to start a relationship on this time around, but the fact that she’s there certainly suggests one hell of a sales pitch from Prime.
Again, Eli is an intriguing character and there are more clues about him in this chapter that I’m just soaking up. Call me a literary sham-wow if you must, I’ve been called worse!
CAPS LOCK LOVE for this moment between Spock and Eli:
Spock feels himself tense. This other self, this him from another reality, shares a common history with Jim. The seeds of his counterpart's plan have appear to have been sown long ago, deep within Jim's childhood and possibly in a thousand other places behind the scenes. The responsibility of instigating such a course of action is staggering and, he thinks, the action somewhat arrogant. How much of their current reality has been shaped by Nero, and how much by his counterpart? Future knowledge is every bit as dangerous as future tech; that truth has never been more apparent.
Here Spock is faced with the knowledge that his alternate self has created a bond with Jim, in a way that he has so far been denied the opportunity. That has to really sting given his history with intimacy and the new awareness he and Jim were only just beginning to explore.
I’m very taken with the way you’ve reinforced the patchwork crew that is in operation. This mission isn’t a case of all the usual heroes rushing in to save the day because the Enterprise isn’t only new, it was still under construction, and the new crew manifest reflects that. McCoy realizes much to his disgust that he has to stand down, although the mysteriously wry Eli (more on him later) is there to pitch in. Handy how that guy always manages to be in the right place at the right time.
Bonds are formed under adversity, Jim and Spock being a classic example of that, but I love the way Jim is already cementing in the new crew:
"Give them our handle," he suggests. "It'll do Pittern good and it's less of a mouthful on the air."
Uhura gives him a lopsided smile. "You softie. Come in Ops?"
This is Gaila.
"Designate shuttle 'Jacee,' copy?"
Copy that, Echo Epsilon Jay Cee Three. Jacee it is.
"Now let's hope Pittern's niece is flattered and not insulted," Uhura mutters under her breath. The acceleration of the slingshot presses them all into the nicely cushioned upholstery. As they clear the hull, she glances at the multicoloured instrumentation and boxy front viewscreen. "Because this is one fucking ugly ship," she concludes.
That’s something that Pittern is going to carry with him for the rest of his life. For all that the shuttle has a very short lifespan the role it plays in what will no doubt become legend will create a ship/crew loyalty that has a price above rubies. It’s a very simple gesture on Jim’s part, and on the spur of the moment, but it shows that he attaches a human value to his surroundings and crew. Spock does the same thing with his honesty and logic, so both men manage to achieve the same outcomes by way of two very different approaches that work in perfect accord.
Prime makes my heart ache. The incomprehensible burden of guilt he inherited in the movie plays out beautifully here.
Even now, at the very periphery of his telepathic sense, he feels a familiar presence. He hardly feels it as the last guard slams the butt of a disruptor against his temple. Like a spider spinning her web, Prime has worked for over twenty years for this moment. He lets his eyes fall closed, rests in the pure exhaustion of fulfilment. Minutes only, until the universe is either lost or saved.
In the grand scheme of things, 20 years nothing if he can redress the alternate timeline. His machinations and interactions with ‘this’ Jim would be fascinating to explore. His final exchange here with Arrhae intrigues me here too, so again I’m left to wonder just how far his pre-knowledge extends. Will he be hauled to the deck with her? Will she end up there with Jim? *FLAILS*
Speculating again, but that T’Loren has regained her control and joined Senekot’s crew (and late Jim’s) makes me wonder if Prime had a recruitment drive of his own going on with them as well. Again I realize I could be totally off the mark, but Prime’s level of involvement and web-spinning has me thinking that he’d be sowing the seeds that would hand-pick the crew for the final battle. T’Loren has a lot of avenge after all, so it’s only fitting that there be a couple of Vulcans with Jim when he shows up on the Narada.
Nero’s gloating with Spock is so much more powerful in this story than the movie, because now Spock has so much more to lose. Nero however, seems to be hinting that he plans to destroy the bond between Jim and Spock, not realizing that the bond has not yet been formally established. Granted there’s a tenuous mental link, and an even stronger emotional one, but it’s not at the stage that would be crippling. If Nero wants to see Spock wailing in mental and physical agony, he may well be disappointed.
And now we get back to Jim and Eli, and this is – to coin a phrase – fascinating:
gony laces through his skull. He falls to his knees, clutching his head, both phasers clattering to the deck. His brain feels like it's expanding exponentially and his fingertips ache against the visor, proof that he is not experiencing explosive decompression, despite appearances. "What's happening?" he demands hoarsely.
Eli swiftly gets down on one knee, taking Jim's visor between his hands and pulling it off roughly. Hazel eyes stare intently from below slanted brows as the youngster arranges the fingers of his right hand against the meld points.
Jim tries to shrug him off, but Eli steadies him, replacing his hot fingertips carefully. "Please," he says softly. "Trust me."
Suffocating under an avalanche within his own mind, Jim nods frantically. As Eli draws him into the meld, an immediate sense of order is imposed upon everything. The information Prime implanted in his subconscious obediently forms an rational sequence of events, played out from beginning to end in all its revelatory glory. Eli's mindscape is closed to him, a one-way communication only. Still, Jim has a sense of benevolence and another emotion which Eli keeps firmly under wraps.
Eli knows what to do and he’s suppressing something. Could there be a familial bond there perhaps? Something like that? Eli seems to have more awareness about this situation that just someone who has come in from the other timeline. Either Prime has loaded him up too and he’s aware, or there’s something else with Jim/Spock/Prime in the mix there.
And … AND I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU ENDED IT THERE!!!
No … wait … *deep breaths, sip of scotch* … it’s okay. I’m not mad. I love you, and I love this story so … *visibly trying to calm down* … I know it’ll be okay …
No, really. I’m fine.
*starts rocking back and forth*
Date: 04/16/2011 7:34 AM Title: chapter 7.2
The pace you set in the previous chapter shows no sign of slowing. As always though, the team uses humour to deflect the tension of the situation:
Jim pulls the requested materials from his kit and teases McCoy’s shirt fabric out of the way. It’s an angry red and has to hurt like hell, but it appears low energy. Either the Romulan's weapon was almost out of charge or the hit had been exceptionally long range. “Way to go passing out on us,” Jim sighs, securing the dressing with an adhesive cover, “nothing but a grade two burn, you pussy.”
It’s easy to forget that the EPAS team has such a visible public profile, given they have to jump from one mission to the next. You have alluded to this though in previous chapters, with Spock being accosted by the media and Jim stepping in to get him away, and then Jim being approached by a former save who had stars in his eyes. Perhaps the services of EPAS have been one of the only positive PR elements that have been available. Fitting then, that Spock should be concerned about being recognized:
All it will take is one shout of his name, one person who recognizes him from the countless newscasts and press conferences he's endured over the years. He dares to look up only once, moments before Eli leads them into a gate lounge. It seems that every eye is trained on him, all of them knowing, all of them hoping. Desperate for deliverance, humanity holds its tongue and keeps his secret.
Naturally, that is when they are finally challenged by the Romulans.
Spock’s inner ninja literally explodes out of him, and seriously I was literally holding my breath the first time I read this section … and then I had to breathe and sag at this:
He cannot spare a glance to see if Eli and Ashe have boarded a shuttle, but no power in the universe could suppress the regret that floods him.
He regrets not planning more thoroughly. He regrets not examining Nero's fixation with future tech a long time ago. Most of all, he regrets not sharing a bond with Jim.
Jim, who asked him for one.
Jim, who Spock will never see again ...
Sarek is so many types of awesome that I can’t even begin to tell you. You’ve added so much to his character in this story with only a few brief scenes, and I love it. Again, there’s a whole other story and resolution to the relationship Spock has with his parents. What the younger Spock repudiated out of sheer obstinacy is getting an entirely different layer to it now that he’s an adult and still trying to deal with the repercussions. The loss of Amanda has had a massive impact on them both, but there’s nothing like a war to bring people closer together:
Spock watches as his father turns and regards him steadily. Not a trace of murder is visible on his face, not unless you look in his eyes, which burn with an almost incandescent rage. When Sarek crushes him against his chest in the first father-son hug of his adult life, it is then that Spock can feel the truly Vulcan fury, the outrage that someone should dare to harm Spock.
I love the moments of clarity that occur in this story, so unexpected and yet so profound.
For the first time in a long time, Spock looks at his father and sees more than their shared history, sees the brilliant young diplomat who made himself an outcast by marrying a human woman...by marrying for love and then having a child that some would pity and others would revile.
My suspicions about Senekot seem to be playing out a little in this chapter, and this makes me glad. He’s focused on the mission at hand, but not so much that he can’t grand a ten minute reprieve. Spock’s acknowledgement of this
The jump-cut back to Janice Rand is sensational. Her recognition of Jim reminds us that he’s a public figure, although throughout the story this is patently unimportant to him. It’s about the job, not the recognition because he needs to feel useful to have any self-worth. The way Janice becomes a new recruit is particularly inspired. I know you’re not wanting to pair everyone off, but there’s something about the way Gaila and Rand interact that has me arching an eyebrow and speculating …
"You're awfully confident."
Gaila hits send on her communications packet and a series of bleeps follows as the Academy computers begin transmission to the Cochrane Array. "Why wouldn't I be?" she asks. "The DivCO and the Captain are miracle workers."
"Spock," she supplies. "He's the new captain of the Enterprise, didn't you know?"
Janice feels a rush of something she can't quantify. It's a little like a first kiss or a Valentine, but a lot more scary. "Can I come with you?"
Gaila tilts her head to the side, copper curls bouncing. "It's really, really dangerous. You could die," she points out discouragingly.
Janice steels herself and lifts her chin. "I could just as easily die here."
Rand’s introduction to the team is brief by necessity, but already she’s asking questions and reassuring McCoy. She’s going to be just fine … I like her! She is just the tip of the iceberg though, as Jim discovers:
The tech just folds his arms and plants his feet, glancing over his shoulder as the ripple of obstinacy spreads out from him like a pebble thrown into still water. They’re all staring up at Jim, actions speaking so much louder than words ever could. Jim feels his throat tighten and he clenches his jaw in response. These people, these brilliant fucking people.
Given that everything planet-side is comprehensively going to shit, and the main fleet is too far away to help, it stands to reason that there would be people wanting to do something, anything. That Jim arrives radiating leadership and strategies is all the incentive they need to dig in their heels and stick around to join the fight. Jim’s acceptance and distribution of the volunteers just goes to show how perfectly he is suited for his role as First Officer, in a way that Harris never was.
The immediacy of everyone’s devotion and attention to the task at hand means that things are really starting to get moving, quite literally as the Enterprise heads out. Of course, that means that the final pins are starting to fall in to place:
He turns to leave but Spock steps forward, halting him instantly. "Jim, the statistical likelihood that ..."
"It'll work, Spock," he replies in an urgent undertone, indicating the meld points on his face. "I know it."
CAPS LOCK LOVE, and I’m practically beside myself wanting to know what happens next. I’m also a bit conflicted by the knowledge that there are only beautifully … but what am I going to do without it? I’ve gotten addicted to babbling excitedly to you about this story ..
Date: 04/16/2011 7:33 AM Title: chapter 7.1
You know, I've read this chapter three times now and I'm still a gibbering wreck. I'm just so impressed that you can establish and maintain tension like this. Reading this is to run the risk of oxygen deprivation, because you really do want to hold your breath until you know what's going to happen. If that isn't an example of quality writing, I don't know what is and ooohh it has just sparked another note to make for later.
It's good to see that for all that Starfleet is crippled with bureaucracy, the President is not a puppet player in the situation. The fact that Pike has managed not only get through to him, but get him onside enough to work that bit left of centre is fantastic. Change is inevitable, but it would seem that F-Sec is too much of a leviathan to be able to respond quickly enough to the situation that's beginning to unfold. EPAS on the other hand, is used to responding to unique situations on a constant basis, which makes the commissioning of the Enterprise a stroke of genius.
Pike's comment about big damn heroes, not big dead martyrs is just all types of WIN.
Spock steps up to the kitchen table, his EPAS blacks obscured by the long coat and scarf he's now wearing. Everyone else is similarly attired, with some civilian clothing to mask the obviousness of their affiliation. It's near enough to five in the morning and Pike's allotted thirty minutes are already ten minutes lapsed. The time has been spent gathering equipment, dressing, and attending to basic necessities such as eating and drinking. It all happens with a quiet efficiency that would have put shipboard crews to shame. Here they are, ready for action, ready to hear what their Captain has to say.
Spock’s transition into the role of Captain is really interesting to watch. Perhaps the right term for that is ‘read’, but this all unfolds like a visual feast in my head, so I’ll stick with my original terminology. Seeing himself as a deeply flawed individual for so long has perhaps kept him from what now seems to be an entirely natural career step towards Captaincy. It’s understandable that he would regard someone with Jim’s charisma to be the one for the centre seat, but Jim’s reasoning for having it the other way around is perfect. Jim can come up with the strategies and make leaps of intuition, and Spock can lead them through with logic and authority. *sighs at the awesomeness*
Of course now is the time that Captain Senekot appears on the scene, surprising everyone including Spock. This suddenly makes his attitude in previous chapters make sense. He was – for a Vulcan – almost aggressive in his need to keep Jim and Spock in the dark when they interacted with him last. Now it seems that his behaviour can be explained by the burden of the vast secret he has had to bear. Now that the President is on side and the Enterprise has entered the picture, they can enter a working relationship as equals as the secrets begin to unfold.
The arrival of such an ally kicks events into action and it’s all systems go. This is beautifully off-set by McCoy, taking a moment simply to stand and take in the awfulness of the situation:
The team file out the door, leaving only Ashe paused in the doorway and McCoy still staring out the window.
"Please, Lord," McCoy murmurs under his breath as he gazes up at the tower of fire raining down from the Narada. "Let today be the day we blow that sky high and he doesn't build another one."
He turns on his heel and sweeps Ashe up in one arm, the collapsible chair grasped in the other. The twenty-third century is still an imperfect world, but he hopes for better, dammit, because he has no choice.
Gaila in commando chick mode totally rocks, and her guerilla sensibilities and common sense show just why she’s in EPAS. What a gal. There’s no way that these kind of personalities could embrace a ‘hive mind’ bureaucratic career within Starfleet. They’re all too intelligent and wanting to adapt to each situation rather than follow a set course.
Dammit! I’ve read the following section four times now, and I can’t think of how to comment purely because it’s just So. Damn. Good. I can’t put it under the microscope, I can’t break it down, so let me just say this. The pacing and dialogue is, as far as I’m concerned, the best I’ve come across. The way the characters bounce ideas off each other, strategizing aloud and assigning tasks is just .. *GIBBERS*
I’m a Firefly fan as well, so let me just say that the “Very not good” exclamation from Jim is a hidden gem here. I’ve always had a massive soft spot for moments of maverick intelligence, particularly where language is concerned.
And then if all that wasn’t enough to have my flailing, there’s THIS moment of genius:
Out of nowhere, there comes one brief, high-pitched whine and almost all of the Romulans dematerialize. The others are easily picked off, stunned as they are. Jim and Spock come to a halt, circling back-to-back, weapons braced in both hands. The others gather around in the sudden silence. Ashe bumps to a halt against a nearby corpse.
"Where the hell did they go?" Jim demands.
Calmly, Eli flicks the safety on his phaser and holsters it. "They will return."
As though his words were some kind of trigger, the Romulans do rematerialize...except they're in bits and pieces that rain down out of a halo of silver sparks. Fragments of limbs thud on the ground amongst the unpleasant squelch and spray of fluids and organs. The crew of the grounded Enterprise grimace as one, all except for the Vulcans, anyway. Metallic tennis balls bounce across the plascrete like Christmas baubles. Blinking at each other, wiping green blood and brain matter from any exposed skin, they shake their feet and rub hands together to remove the mess.
So gross, and yet so GOOD!
The epic partnership that begins here gets another boost when the time comes for them to split up. When they’re working for the needs of the many, there is no emotional compromise:
Jim wars with himself for a moment before nodding tightly and stepping back. "Aye, Captain."
Unexpectedly, Spock steps up and claps Jim firmly on the shoulder, rocking him slightly. "I will see you soon," he says, and it is not a question.
With that, Spock turns on his heel, pockets his phaser and lobs the short-range transporter across the wide gap between buildings. He vanishes mid-stride in a swirl of sparks to reappear at a dead run on the opposite rooftop.
I didn’t actually mean to include the bit about Spock transporting and then re-appearing at a dead run, but it’s just such a strong visual for me that I couldn’t leave it out. My god woman.
I’m getting very curious about Eli’s backgrund. For a Vulcan he seems to enjoy a bit of snark and charm to alleviate the tension. Little wonder that Gaila is already picturing him in a tux! The visual of Ashe’s abandoned wheelchair resonates with me as well, showing how her force of personality moves beyond the physical. Love.
Oh my god it just keeps getting better!
"When this is over, we seriously need to recruit that boy," she tells him.
Spock raises an eyebrow noncommittally and tries to contain his frustration. He applauds their ally's initiative, but cannot approve of his impetuous approach. Very little time would have been lost engaging in a brief discussion of Eli's plan. Instead, he is forced to await a sign of success or evaluate the need for further action with very little data upon which to…
Eli reappears out of nowhere, using the transporter ball, and Spock very nearly shoots him in the face. They glare at each other, both coldly disapproving of the other's actions, then Eli appears to reconsider, glancing down at his stolen Romulan attire.
Eli is starting to come across as Jim in a Vulcan skin … my curiosity is compounding! Spock hiding his ears with a scarf s reminiscent of the original series, and Ashe trying not to laugh is great. Such a fleeting moment of humour and then there’s the moment of Spock thinking of Jim, and hoping that he’s safe.
My nerves are shot.
Date: 04/16/2011 7:32 AM Title: chapter 6.7
This is such a lovely way to start the chapter, with Jim being exposed and protected by Spock all at once. I’m struck by the way Jim is slowly getting a sense of self-worth that extends beyond what he has to offer in terms of his skills and intelligence. Interesting then, that he can look at Spock and marvel without realising that the two of them are parallel in that respect:
How hard must it be for a Vulcan, trained from birth to be almost passive, to become a Point? And not just any Point, but a damn good one? How does Spock reconcile that passion with the idea of who he's expected to be?
Jim is after all, the self-proclaimed misfit, juvenile delinquent and ostracised in his hometown. Everyone has low expectations of him which he covers with a veneer of confidence. Spock sets high expectations of himself and covers that with logic. Both flawed, and yet motivated by the deep-seeded desire to make a difference for the better.
Jim’s conversation with Ashe is a humorous and adult all at once. They’re able to acknowledge what was between them in the past and what they have now, and it’s a very good thing. Having said that, Ashe is still brittle about her condition given her ‘cripple’ references, but that surely goes with the territory. Someone with her force of personality and self-preservation was never going to wake up and merely accept her fate. I suspect she’ll fight it and want to better her situation in some sort of ingenious way. It’s not her natural state of being, and she’s not about to let people think that it is.
And this: It's such a Spock-like gesture, exactly the sort of thing Jim first noticed upon his allocation to Prime Division: the way the crew seemed just the tiniest bit Vulcan.
… shows that Spock is an aspirational figure not just for Jim, but for the rest of the crew, and speaks volumes about his natural leadership. Ashe’s hero worship became something else until she realized what it was costing her, but again it shows the influence he has on others. His integrity and standing amongst the crew is such that they all want to him Spock when they grow up. What I love is that Spock has no perception of this at all (not that Vulcans are meant to go on ego trips anyway).
I’m SO pleased that Ashe was able to articulate the fundamental differences and similarities between herself and Jim. It was a sentiment that Jim needed to hear from someone who has similar scars but had been able to move on and find something good. I can’t help but think that Ashe’s happiness will give Jim hope for his own future, being able to be with someone that’s as scary as shit and deeply fulfilling all at once.
The mission is never far away though, so of course Pike is able to track them down soon enough. That they can see a pattern in the seeming lack of one is disturbing enough let alone the knowledge that F-Sec are celebrating instead of worrying why it was so easy. The others start waiting for the other shoe to drop, which makes McCoy’s entrance priceless:
McCoy walks into his kitchen around midday and stops short, taking in the way Ashe, Spock and Jim are crowded around a PADD on the table. With a sigh, he drops the groceries on the bench and turns to face them. "I take it the wedding is off?"
They did after all, show up on his doorstep all but demanding that he notarise their wedding, and then barely 24 hours later it’s all back to business. Vulcans say it best, ‘the needs of the many …’
Oh and by the way, your scene transitions here in this chapter – and all of them for that matter – really make my heart sing. Even if I didn’t know what your second job was I’d say you were a visual reference person. Multiple scenes and perspectives like this bring a story to life for me in a way that I absolutely adore. It’s easy to fall into the trap of having the characters in a set location, talking in a plots-r-us style. Sure it gets the job done, but it doesn’t make the characters live and breathe for me in a way that this style does. It’s not self-conscious, it’s just the way you see the story happening in your head, and that’s what makes it so awesome.
The cupcake reference made me smile – good to see they’ve survived so far into the future! And even though I’ve already put it in an earlier comment I just can’t resist because it’s GOLD:
Silver sparks fly and the erstwhile crew of shuttle ED996 disappear, McCoy's tirade interrupted mid stream. The technician wipes his brow with his sleeve and gestures to the next flabbergasted holidaying family.
They eye him warily.
"Are you kidding me? It's totally safe!" he exclaims.
It’s the calm before the storm, and those moments of levity are just what’s needed. LOVE ‘EM.
I also love the team interactions. As soon as they’re together they fall straight back into their routine; the ta’al, lack of personal space and the general sense of cohesion that only comes with a tight unit.
It's a handful of seconds amidst the concentration and the bustle, but Jim is almost certain they're both remembering that night, spooning in a tiny EPAS bunk, dead on their feet the next day. He smiles, and although there's no answering expression he finds he doesn't need it.
For all that the situation is about to explode when Nero makes his move, Jim is beginning to feel grounded and centered because he feels like he is on the right path. He has the Captain he has always been searching for, a crew he trusts implicitly, Pike is watching their back, and they have enough autonomy (however slight) to operate independently of F-Sec. Now Jim knows he has a shot at doing the right thing, for the right reasons, with the right people, and he has support every step of the way. Given his history, that’s got to be a first.
It’s a nice little parallel that Jim was unable to see the patterns in the codes when he was under the command of Taylor and Harris. Exhausted and frustrated he was fighting against too many elements to be able to separate the pattern from the static. The synchronicity keeps going when a throw-away comment from Gaila solves the final hurdle. Now this is where it starts to get really interesting.
This bit feels like a big breadcrumb:
“The point is, this information is dangerous,” Jim interrupts their banter. “Everything we do from now is dangerous.”
“No one knows what we’re up to,” Gaila scoffs. “Pike hardly even knows.”
“Oh, people know, make no mistake,” Jim insists. “The true mission of the Enterprise is classified, and if there’s one way to make people gossip, it’s to shroud something in secrecy. F-Sec are talking to ‘Fleet, the Admiralty are talking to the Council who talk to their aides who talk to their friends…the list goes on.” He eyes them all in turn, all except for Spock, who is unlikely to forget about the Federation rumor mill. “They might not have the detail, but it’s enough to know that Enterprise is no ordinary EPAS ship. Any weapons tech who loaded our photon torpedo bays knows that. They guy who upgraded our internal inertial dampeners knows they’re battle standard, top of the line. Same goes for our shields, phasers and thrusters.”
My hunch – and it’s just a hunch mind you – is that Nero will find out that the Enterprise isn’t what it seems, but won’t be able to predict their actions because they’re acting independently. Given his victories so far he may be arrogant enough to assume that one ship won’t make a difference, but there’s still the matter of that sneaky Vulcan ship out there as well. *thoughtful*
This line just kills me: “Our mission is to finish this conflict, once and for all, so we can all go back to rescuing stranded leisure yachts." … because I’m wondering how everyone is going to adapt when the war is over (one way or another). Rescuing leisure yachts? They’ve all become adrenaline junkies, boredom is not a part of their programming at all.
So. They’re getting ready and have a sense of where Nero might be next. Urgh. I can’t wait …
Date: 04/15/2011 7:55 PM Title: prologue
Your story has given me a great deal of entertainment! It is totally engrossing and manages to keep the reader on the edge of their seat for an incredibly long time. I stop reading and felt drained! And then I remember you are writing it!
I really enjoy the way you have taken the key elements of canon and fanon, pushed the "pulse button on your literary blender", just once (!)then extracted whole bits, in a totally new, but totally valid and recognizable story-universe.
The first time protrayal "could we have made this any harder on each other?" bites deep.
Thank you so much! I love the visual with the blender ... sometimes that's exactly the way my brain feels after writing this story, lol. I appreciate you taking the time to leave a review and hope that you continue to enjoy the final 2 chapters :)
Date: 04/14/2011 12:58 PM Title: chapter 7.2
Totally awesome. They should have had you write the first movie, seriously. Can't wait for more.
Lol! I think there's probably a little too much gayness in LNSB to make it eligible, but thank you for thinking I'd be capable of something like that. Next chapter up in under 24 hours because this one was a wee bit late, and I appreciate the ongoing feedback :)
Date: 04/13/2011 10:10 PM Title: chapter 7.1
I m sorry I didnt review before but I was so into the story. What a story! This should be a movie if only hollywood wasnt so uptight! U r a great storyteller.
A comment at any stage is simply wonderful, so thank you. I'm glad you found the story absorbing :)
Date: 04/12/2011 6:35 PM Title: prologue
It's such a treasure when something Awesome and Long gets posted! I was thrilled to start reading last night, and will be even more thrilled as you post the last several chapters.
It took some suspension of disbelief to get into the AU, especially Jim not being in command. It's hard to wrap my mind around him as a subordinate, and likewise Spock as a consummate leader. But it's working for me now (I'm in the middle of Chap 4). The characterization is great, and I, too, love a smart, savvy Kirk. Well-adjusted!Spock also gets me going, so I like that too.
Very well done, and thank you for brightening my baby's naptimes (while I'm nursing him to sleep or bouncing him in the hammock, there is NOTHING to do but read fic on my phone.) You ROCK!
I feel the same way about other people's long fics; there aren't enough of them out there! Glad I could provide some 'downtime' entertainment (I envy your hammock). Strangely, I'm not much of an AU reader myself, but it was part of the specific request for this fic, and I have to say that it took me a little while to envision it myself. As I was in the process of writing it, I had to keep reminding myself that Spock outranked Kirk, because one get's so used to thinking of them in canon terms ;)
Date: 04/12/2011 10:40 AM Title: chapter 1.3
Hello. Been reading a few chapters at a time. It's a lot to take it. I want to take my time and read it, but so far, very intriguing and looking forwards to it.
Sorry, yes, it's a bit of an epic! Glad you're enjoying. Thank you for taking the time to stop in and tell me so :)
Date: 04/12/2011 8:29 AM Title: chapter 6.6
The quality of Jim's friendships say so much about his character. He has chosen two men who have professional and personal integrity, who have seen him at his worst but don't let that inform their dealings with him on a daily basis. They're also able to maintain a confidence, which someone like Jim with his reticence about his history would find very compelling. Other than Spock and Winona, these are the only two characters were Jim will allow himself to be in any way vulnerable.
"Please," he interrupts, sounding very young. "Please, Chris, just do this for me, yeah?"
I've been wondering at Spock's level of self-flagellation in the last chapter, and realised that the standards he sets for himself are all but impossible to attain. He expects those around him to perform at their best levels, but always sets the bar that bit higher for himself. No doubt that's a result of his hybrid nature and the rejection he received on Vulcan. To have been judged and found wanting by his peers, let alone on the most intimate level of a betothel bond would of course result in him wanting to exceed every expectation that followed, including his own. To be as Vulcan as possible mean rejecting his human relationship on every level, hence the severance of the parental bond, would drive him in a way that few could comprehend.
Now Spock's reaction to Pike's revelation that he had read his complete file makes sense. Pike has not read it with a few to discipline or subjugation, but for the need t understand. He's not judging, but like any good leader he needs to know what drives the people under his command.
He recalls Spock’s applicant psych profile, the one that lay buried in his archived file beneath years of exemplary service records, medical reports, physical rehabilitation plans and commendations. Introverted, intuitive, rational and judging. INRJ-types were known for being independent, original thinkers with a keen analytical mind and almost overwhelming determination. They made great Point Ones and exceptional leaders. Their weaknesses generally revolved around the guilt of failing to meet unattainable expectations, and Pike knows that. He knows that and has been proud as Spock seemed to avoid such pitfalls.
He should have realised Spock was simply adept at hiding what was already there.
CAPS LOCK LOVE.
I’m torn between wanting to know what was going through Jim’s head before he made the call, and not needing to. Again it comes back to Jim choosing to take an intuitive leap, opting to take the most direct path between two objects when the results could be rewarding or disastrous. He’s aware that Spock regards himself as damaged goods, Jim knows that he is, and so his course of action is to lay himself bare in a situation where mere words won’t be enough. For two people with that kind of emotional baggage, the only way they can move forward is to be completely honest. They’ve each been their own worst critic for years now, but perhaps sharing the burden will make the pain bearable.
A new resolution settles around him and he knows opening up these old wounds is going to hurt like hell. Still, he has to follow through, has to face his demons. He owes Spock that much, owes himself even more.
Their relationship evolved during periods of high stress with very little recreational time. Now it’s as if they’re getting know what they’re both really like as people, not just EPAS professionals. It’s a massive adjustment for both of them, but this little aside made my heart flutter:
Spock doesn't sleep that night. The EPAS Accommodation Building seems alien to him after only weeks of cohabiting with Jim.
Jim spent much of the night awake wondering if he was going to be able to face up to what he’s going to show Spock. Meanwhile Spock is trying to regain some mental controls. After years of presenting a fašade to the world(s), they’re both terrified by the prospect of vulnerable and being hyper-aware of it. I’m particularly taken with the fact that they both deal with their vulnerability by attempting to shut down their emotions. Spock attains his by way of inward focus, and Jim avoids eye contact and goes onto autopilot. In both cases, they’re both suppressing how they feel. When it comes to their experience with shame and pain, they’re far more alike than they realize, which again explains their chosen careers.
They drive for hours in silence, but it's not the comfortable kind that Spock has grown used to between them. The moments are charged with uncertainty and the very air around Jim's body screams of fear and guilt and revulsion. Wherever they are going, Jim is dreading it. That, more than anything else, makes Spock decide that accompanying him was the correct decision.
The reaction in Riverside is startling and heartbreaking all at once. Jim experienced massive childhood trauma and yet he is the one being judged.
Spock turns to Jim for an explanation, but his blue eyes are flat and blank, his jaw clenched tightly. Curious, Spock turns to see what has captured his attention and finds that every customer is regarding them with poorly concealed fascination and animosity. No … not them, Jim.
There’s something niggling me about this, just on the edge of my awareness with this episode. Jim is left with a fractured relationship with Winona (hardly surprising given the circumstances), but the reaction of the townsfolk is one that seems even more enigmatic. To have suffered as others a child and then victimized because of it (another parallel with Spock) is absolutely heartbreaking. Like Spock, I’ve got a lot of questions but no answers. YET. I’ll think on this some more.
"Whatever emotions you’re hiding, they can’t possibly be worse than the things I’ve felt," Jim tells him sternly, somehow oozing conviction even though he looks like he might throw up. "Sarek says T’Pring’s family was wrong about you, and I believe him."
It’s the mother of all ‘show and tell’ sessions, and it’s still niggling at me that Jim should be so victimized for self-defence. The reason behind it is understood, but was perhaps never revealed/explained to others because of the shame implied, which also perhaps speaks of Winona’s resulting shame at her involvement (and lack thereof) in the scenario. If she chose to suppress her role, then that would have informed Jim’s reaction to it as well. Pure speculation on my part, but you’ve gotten used to me thinking out loud.
So Jim has laid himself bare and Spock is left shaken by not only that, but realizing that Jim knows more about his own past than he realized. Even more overwhelming, that he doesn’t care:
"So, yeah," Jim says awkwardly, clearly drained. “I don’t give a damn about those people out there," he points vaguely at the rest of the world. “I don’t care how Vulcan you are or how human. If you can handle my past, I can sure as hell handle yours.”
And then it just keeps on getting better.
It is not in his nature to leap without looking, but Jim has led the way and he owes it to him, and perhaps to himself, to take his turn.
It’s another major tell for me that Jim and Spock both seek out McCoy and Pike. It’s another display of synchronicity that perhaps neither of them have realized, but comes into play when they need it the most. That Spock should essentially decide to elope hard on the heels of Jim’s revelation is a massive leap on his part. It’s an emotional response, but a logical one all the same. He and Jim are baring themselves to each other and so it’s only logical that Spock should want to cement that with a bond before their connection can be lost. Like every good doctor should though, Bones is the voice of reason:
"God knows the two of you have made enough of a holodrama out of things without me throwing a wrench in the works, and just when you seem to be getting your shit together, too. However, try to see this from my point of view. You turn up on my doorstep looking like, well … like crazy people and tell me you've revisited the worst demons of Jim's past so you want me to marry you?" McCoy withdraws his hand from Ashe's grip and folds his arms across his chest. "No. No way in hell."
McCoy has applied the brakes and Spock agrees, for the best possible reasons. Given the level of emotional exhaustion between them, it’s a relief when Jim agrees.
The exchange between Ashe and McCoy in the wake of that discussion is delightful and heartfelt. Now that Ashe has found a healthy, reciprocal love, she’s able to see how exhausting and consuming a bond on Jim and Spock’s level and really be.
"God, it's like I can't breathe when they're around," she confesses, sad and wry at the same time.
"I know what you mean."
"It's going to be brilliant or catastrophic."
“Cataclysmic,” she grins, showing off.
Leonard smiles at her indulgently. "Never boring."
No doubt she’s sad because she has never inspired that level of passion in someone else, but at the same time is perhaps relieved because the energy required to maintain that kind of relationship can be overwhelming. She has a comfortable love with McCoy, one that’s sustainable and returned in equal measure.
And then alone in their room upstairs it’s utterly beautiful because they can admit to each other what they want and what they can have. Spock spells it out in no uncertain terms:
"I wish for the bond. It is a fundamental part of who I am, of what I am. It would be so easy, too easy, to reach out and take it when neither of us is ready." He frames Jim's face with carefully light hands. "I desire to create it intentionally, when it happens; to be conscious of every thought, word and gesture."
And then Jim follows suit:
"You have no idea, no idea what it means to me that you want this too, after everything.".
The phrasing at the end of this chapter just made my chest ache, about Jim feeling unfamiliarly secure. Both of them have been judged for their perceived shortcomings, have brutally punished themselves in return and denied themselves emotional connections at every turn. Now they’ve found each other, revealed their absolute pain and found nothing but acceptance.
Oh this makes me so happy.
Date: 04/12/2011 3:38 AM Title: chapter 6.7
Awesome story. Please continue. Can't wait until Jim and Spock Bond. Wonderfuly written story. You are very talented.
Wow! I can't believe you ripped through the whole thing in one go! That's marvellous ;) Thank you for your kind words and for leaving me feedback along the way, I appreciate it :) There will be another chapter up in a few hours and then three more, one per day, taking us to the end.
Date: 04/12/2011 1:09 AM Title: chapter 3.3
Love it. I like the fact he knew Sarek. Cool that he knows Vulcan.
It's ridiculous the amout of Vulcan language research I had to do simply to write that exchange. This fanfic, it took over my life, lol.
Date: 04/12/2011 12:59 AM Title: chapter 3.1
THat women went nuts. T'Loren needs some Healers help seriously. Beating the crap outta Jim. Loved the way Spock saved him, again.
She totally went nuts. Spare. Loopy. Dropped her bundle. Did her 'nana.
Date: 04/12/2011 12:54 AM Title: chapter 2.3
I love the counseling sessions. Too funny. Poor Jim. T'Loren is a bitch.
The Kirk/McCoy dynamic is something I've enjoyed since the first TOS episode I ever watched. Trying to capture a little of that in this chapter was a whole lot of fun :)