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"two halves of the one coin"

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May. 3rd, 2010 | 09:53 pm

Title: two halves of the one coin [3/3]
Fandom: Star Trek XI.
Characters: everyone, with a hefty focus on Kirk and McCoy, and more Spock and Chekov than originally planned.
Word Count: 6737
Rating: 12(ish)
Summary: “Captain Kirk. We have a gift for you.” And maybe sometimes a gift is less something new, and more something to help you forget the old – even when there are those around you who can’t quite let sleeping dogs lie. Kirk/Bones.
Warnings: language, explicit violence, minor character deaths
Notes: sequel(ish) to sealed by a fragile touch, fingerprints of forgotten memories and glass right down the middle, and knowledge of those is pretty needed for this one to make sense (particularly fingerprints).

IF I TRY AND WRITE ANY MORE MULTI-PARTERS FOR THIS VERSE, SOMEONE SHOOT ME. ♥♥

previous: [News spreads, because that's what news does.]

two halves of the one coin

Jim likes to think that he copes better, this time round.

There’s no breaking down in the mess, officers’ or otherwise, and no Sulu forcing him to get dressed in the morning, because he’s an adult and therefore fully capable of tugging his own clothes on (and hiding in the black-gold from the black-blue he sometimes wishes he could see). There are no more Faradays, either – no one else comes forward with an outstretched hand, telling him that his secrets are safe with them. (And, Jim realises after a while, he might just respect Faraday for being the only one brave enough—broken enough?—to see him not as merely her captain, but as someone who is human, as well.)

He doesn’t feel guilty about how he treated Bones. Why should he?

Spock’s doing his whole stony-silence-and-judgemental-looks thing. Jim couldn’t care less.

The nightmares don’t help, though.

§§§

The thing Bones lets himself hate the most is how everyone else seems to be looking at him differently.

Of course, none of them know. This is something that’s between him and Spock and Jim, and even then Spock doesn’t know everything, but that doesn’t stop Bones seeing Chekov glance at him across the mess and seeing something sympathetic in the young ensign’s eyes.

It’s his mind, making things up because he doesn’t want to admit to the truth: that he’s fucked everything up. (He knows that’s the truth. He’s accepted that.)

His quarters are kinda dusty. He’s not sure how you get dust on a spotless starship.

(Jim’s not going to take him back, not this time. On the few occasions they glance to each other—in an echo of the instinct they both used to have—Bones can see the pain and anger and hate and fear in Jim’s eyes, clear as day – and even if Jim, by some miracle, did say yes, did take him back, did forgive him—)

(Well, Bones knows that he wouldn’t be able to forgive himself.)

§§§

Spock is not counting the days, because that is a distinctly childish activity (unless one has a psychologically sound reason for doing so), but that does not mean that he does not know how long it has been since those heated words in the captain’s quarters. (Twenty-three days, four hours, and approximately seven minutes.) He also knows, due to his own observations and Nyota’s increasingly concerned commentary, that in that span of time, the captain and the doctor have not exchanged any more words than is utterly essential.

This is not something that Spock is entirely happy with.

He is told of the fact that approximately twenty-three days, five hours and twelve minutes ago, Lieutenant Faraday conversed with Captain Kirk in the mess, and he is equally informed of the content of that discussion: that Ensign Chekov’s curiosity maintained itself, and that now the entire crew is aware of what happened on Risa. (It is perhaps ironic, Spock thinks, that it was the public actions of the Karashan Premier that spiralled towards this situation on two accounts: the introduction of amnesia that sparked the captain’s discontent, and the introduction of the curiosity that lead to the captain confronting the doctor. Different faces of the same causality. Different sides of the same monetary unit.)

Spock refrains from telling Chekov just how his revelations have affected the captain. He is of the opinion that that is a burden that the ensign should not have to bear.

Spock wishes to interfere. He wishes to agree with Nyota’s ideas and lock the two warring parties in a confined space, but he knows that will not address the underlying issues (because, if Jim’s accusations were correct, the acquiescence to carnal needs is the problem, not the solution). He wishes to return to Karash and ask for all memories to be erased. He wishes to simply bang the pair’s heads together.

He wishes to interfere.

He knows he cannot.

§§§

It’s an away mission that does it, in the end.

The Equinox is dead in space, drifting, engines cut and silence over the comm. She had a full complement, all fit and healthy, and now she’s just silent. Command thinks it might be an internal accident; Jim thinks (more pessimistically) she’s been attacked and boarded. (They were in dangerous space: investigating a system with a reputation for xenophobia, but a system that has been thought uninhabited for over a hundred years – and a hundred years or one, Jim can feel it in his gut that something is wrong.)

But now it’s their job to find out what happened, because they’re the closest to her and because Command trusts Jim, for some reason he hasn’t quite yet fathomed.

Jim materialises in the cargo bay on D deck, dry fingers wrapped around the grip of a phaser and a security team at his back. He hears the flick and buzz of Spock’s tricorder, and he indicates for his team to fan out, scan the area (because tricorders are only so good, and there are always ways of hiding from them, so line of sight? much better). They’re silent save for the scrape and tap of boots, and Spock buzzes away.

“I am detecting biosigns,” Spock says lowly, and Jim feels his heart beat that little faster. “Thirty seven, in Sickbay.”

“Any uninvited visitors?” Jim asks, and he pads towards the exit.

Like shadows, the security team follows.

“No non-Starfleet personnel detectable,” Spock answers, and then, unsolicited, says, “The corridor outside appears to be clear.”

Jim keys the door open. (He was going to do that anyway, no matter what Spock’s tricorder said. He doesn’t like this.) The corridor outside is dimly lit by emergency lighting, and, glancing down the hall, he sees dented wall panels and slick-looking stains on the comm units.

He licks his lips. “Blood on the walls,” he says. “Be careful.”

“The ship is functioning on backup power,” Spock says, with a voice that’s so level it’s strange. “The engine is offline, as are most major systems.”

“Communications?” Jim asks, with Sickbay in mind.

“Offline,” Spock answers, simply.

“Okay,” Jim says, and surveys the corridor. “Keeley, Havisham. Take Jeyn’ya and head to Engineering. See what it’s like down there and report back. Fix what you can, priority communications and main power. If there’s any trouble—no offence to your tricorder, Spock—comm us, or Enterprise, and get out of there.” (Jeyn’ya, the engineer, looks distinctly nervous – he’s not used to away missions so much, but for a dead starship, they need him.) (Jim feels a thrill in his stomach.) “Heyes,” he continues. “Take two and secure the bridge. Establish communications with Enterprise as soon as possible. Everyone else, with me.” And his lips quirk upwards, just slightly, because he’s full of adrenaline and fire, and he hasn’t felt alive like this for what feels like an age. “We’ve got an appointment in Sickbay.”

Spock’s eyebrow quirks at the attempt at a joke, but Jim sees a hint of a smile on Jeyn’ya’s lips, so it’s worth it.

They split up.

Along with everything else on this ghost ship, the turbolifts are offline, so Grahame cracks open the emergency access panel, and they clamber inside the access shaft. Jim loops a hand through the rungs of the ladder and leans out, looking down. “Sickbay’s on B deck?” he asks.

“Affirmative,” Spock answers from below him, and tucks his tricorder away.

“Okay,” Jim says. “Two decks. Get climbing.”

In his head, everything’s gone slightly sparse. He doesn’t think, he just focuses – focuses on the coolness of the rungs under his hands, focuses on Spock’s steady breathing beneath him, focuses on the brush of the narrow access tube against his back. He doesn’t think, for the moment. He just is.

Something sticky cloys itself to his palm, and his heart thuds.

“Wait,” he says, sharply, and he hears the rustle above him of Grahame drawing his phaser. In the dim light, he can see red sprawled across his palm. “Blood,” he says. “Again.”

“This does not appear to have been a mere internal power failure,” Spock comments, quietly.

Jim nods, and wipes the blood off on his shirt. (He knows it’ll stain, and the quartermaster’ll bitch him out again. He’s okay with that.) “Sickbay,” he says.

Grahame tucks the phaser away again, and they climb.

For some reason, the exit onto B deck is even tighter than the one down on D, and Grahame tugs Jim out before turning to give Spock a hand. Jim’s phaser is in his hands and he’s balanced on the balls of his feet, wary and aware. This corridor is exactly the same: dimmed into emergency lighting, with dark stains on the floor and panels hanging off the walls.

“It looks like someone fought a fucking war in here,” Grahame says, fingers twitching around his phaser.

“Maybe they did,” Jim says thoughtfully, and glances back as Anderson shoulders the access hatch back into place.

“Captain,” Spock says, and he’s smoothly expressionless, tricorder in hand. “I am now detecting thirty eight biosigns in Sickbay. It is possible that previous readings were inaccurate, but...”

“Right,” Jim says, and swears softly in his head. Things are never just simple. “Be careful.”

They’re not silent as they move along the corridor, but they are quiet. Noisy shadows, Jim decides, and then thinks: Bones would not approve.

Not that McCoy’s approval fucking matters.

Jim swallows.

Light spills out from under Sickbay’s doors, and Jim wonders how exactly they managed to retain light and power in one section when the rest of the ship is just drifting – but he doesn’t wonder that thought for long, because then the motion sensors activate and he’s face to face with an Andorian in torn gold shirt with human blood smeared across his cheek and a phaser in his grasp. And behind him, it’s chaos. Busy and noisy and Jim can see blood in every colour of the rainbow – and he flinches as someone cries out (in pain and agony, and Jim doesn’t think about the scars that litter his body)—

But the lights are bright. Main power is online.

The Andorian’s gaze narrows.

“Who the fuck are you?” he asks, and if Jim is a little surprised to hear human cursing coming from an alien’s lips, he doesn’t let it show.

“Captain Kirk,” he says. “Of the Enterprise. Command lost touch with the Equinox and we were routed to investigate.” And he pauses, and glances deeper into Sickbay, and there’s so much suffering (and so many bodies stacked up against the back wall) that he feels ill. “We’re here to help.”

The Andorian’s gaze flickers, but then he lowers the phaser, and there’s such tiredness in his eyes. “Commander Talax,” he says. “First officer. Any help you can give us is more than welcome.”

Jim nods, and he steps into Sickbay. A Bolian female looks up at him, and she keens. “We have an engineer heading to Engineering and a security detail on their way to secure the bridge,” he says, pulling himself back to what matters. “We have a medical team on standby.”

Yes.” The exhortation comes from a human female with blood up to her elbows, and hair flops in her face from a ponytail that’s ragged and unkempt. “I don’t care who the fuck you are, goldshirt, but we need supplies and an extra fifty set of hands.” She’s breathing shortly and there’s a hypospray in her hands, which (after a quick readjustment of the settings) she presses surprisingly gently into the side of a young lieutenant’s neck. (Jim doesn’t know if that’ll do much good. The boy’s got blood spread across half his chest.)

Talax just looks tired, and he helps the lieutenant lie back on a medbed. “Captain Kirk, this is CMO Alanah Monroe,” he says, and then glances to the doctor, and something flashes between them that Jim doesn’t quite catch. “Alanah, Captain Kirk.”

Monroe gives Jim a brusque once over, and then turns to her next patient. “Enterprise?” she asks, checking an unconscious officer’s vitals on the battered tricorder in her hands.

“The one and only,” Jim answers, because it seems like the right thing to say.

Monroe nods, and Jim chooses not to notice the sadness in her eyes as she dusts a touch over her patient’s cheek and then removes the sensor nodes from his body. Biosigns down to thirty-seven again, Jim thinks, somewhat pessimistically. “If you’ve still got McCoy as your CMO, we could definitely use a hand,” Monroe says, and Jim feels his brain stutter.

“Still got him,” he manages, and he drags up a smile from the recesses of his muscle memory, because he has to pretend to be okay, that everything’s fine. “Grumpy as ever.”

“Good,” Monroe says, and then she’s busy, because there are still people crying out, and there’s still a thick skin of unease everywhere. “Get him here. Please.”

And it’s a ‘please’ that’s full of desperation, because Jim’s well aware that this is no way for a starship to be running. Thirty-seven, he thinks, out of a complement of over four hundred. And everyone here, in Sickbay. Bridge and Engineering unmanned. Main power offline. Offline everywhere but here.

“Spock,” he says. His first officer straightens, with Anderson taking over the task of holding down a thrashing crewman, and turns. “Contact Enterprise. Have the medical team sent over. Beam them direct to Sickbay.” And he tries to keep the note of disquiet out of his voice.

But this is Spock, obviously, who has ears like a bat. Spock blinks. “Captain?” he asks.

Jim wets his lips, just briefly. He steps closer, and says, “Get in touch with Heyes and Keeley. Make sure they’re okay.” He pauses, but Talax is watching him with eyes that are simultaneously dead and so very fucking inquisitive, and so he just says, “There’s something wrong here. You feel it too.”

Spock doesn’t nod. Spock doesn’t have to nod.

“Yeah,” Jim says, half to himself. “Thought so.”

And then he’s pacing over to Talax. “Commander,” he says, and his voice is hard as flint (and Monroe flinches, just a little, which he hadn’t expected from her). “A word?”

There’s a bristle to the line of the Andorian’s shoulders, but as Jim pulls him away, pulls him outside and lets the doors slide shut (with a stoic Grahame at his shoulder, because fuck knows what’s really going on on this ship), he doesn’t say a word.

Jim’s okay with that. “Where’s Captain Tayler?” he asks, and his voice is low. “And what happened here?”

“Tayler’s dead,” Talax answers, and there’s a heaviness in his voice that Jim just knows is truth. “She took a bullet to the head when they transported onto the bridge. I believe her blood is still on my face.” And the last is said with grief and distaste and hatred.

Jim’s gaze never leaves the Andorian’s pale eyes. “How long ago was that?” he asks.

Talax pauses, and says, “A week.”

Jim blinks. “You’ve had blood on your face for a week?” he demands.

A muscle in Talax’s cheek twitches. “Being a captive at gunpoint for the better part of six days isn’t exactly the best way to wash your face,” he bites off – but he gathers himself, visibly, and there’s a strange intensity in his eyes as he says, “They came in the middle of alpha shift. No warning. We couldn’t see them on sensors, so the shields weren’t up and they had no problem splattering Captain Tayler’s brain across the bridge. Fucking old-fashioned rounds.” He pauses, and it’s not turmoil that Jim can see on his face, because Andorian’s don’t tend to do turmoil, but it’s distress and concern and anger and grief. “Then they killed three hundred and seventy-two of us, stacked the bodies in the cargo bay on E deck, and then they left,” he says, blandly, like he’s just reciting the stardate. And something flickers across his face, and Jim remembers the lieutenant whose face Munroe just covered with what passes for a sheet, and Talax says, “Three hundred and seventy-three.”

“Who were they?” Jim asks, and there’s sympathy in his voice.

“Fuck knows,” Talax answers, and he sags, and it’s like there’s a burden that’s been lifted, because now, finally, there’s a superior officer who can take over from him and he won’t have to deal with the bodies.

“Okay,” Jim says, because he’ll be that superior officer, because it’s his job to be that superior officer. “Okay,” he repeats, and he barely moves when the doors to Sickbay slide open and Spock steps out.

“Doctor McCoy and the medical team are on their way,” Spock reports, and Jim doesn’t try and stop Talax as the Andorian shoves past his first officer and back into the mess that is Equinox’s Sickbay.

Jim nods, and chews his lip.

Beside him, Grahame shifts. “Sir,” he says.

“Yeah,” Jim says, interrupting him, because he might know that something’s wrong, but he’s not going to say as much when they’ve got no idea who could be listening. But Grahame’s right. Of course he’s right. “I know,” he says, and his voice is stretched so tight that even he can hear it breaking.

Grahame’s fingers twitch on his weapon.

Footsteps sound in the corridor, footsteps and voices – and Jim looks, and there’s McCoy, swanning in at the head of what looks like most of his medical staff. The doctor’s expression is tight. “Captain,” he says, and the sudden eye contact shouldn’t be quite as startling as it is. (Brown eyes, and that was what they liked.)

“Doctor,” Jim answers, automatically, blankly. His spine is so straight he imagines he can hear it creak. “Doctor Alanah Monroe,” he says. “She seemed to know you. She needs your help.”

And McCoy nods, fleetingly, and then there’s no chance for lingering looks, because the doctor is all business, pushing past Spock with a medkit in his grasp, and the doctors and nurses with him (all armed to save lives) stream past, a river of tension and healing.

Jim feels himself relax, just fractionally.

(He tries to piece things together. A xenophobic system that shouldn’t be xenophobic anymore, because xenophobia is the people, not the planets, and a hostile force that wields old-style projectile weapons and will kill damn near four hundred people in a week. And the fear in Doctor Monroe’s eyes.)

Spock rustles, and he steps close, into the captain’s personal space. Grahame watches, forcedly expressionless. “Jim,” Spock says, softly, half a whisper. “Have you considered the possibility that the hostiles may still be onboard the ship?”

“You couldn’t detect any non-Starfleet personnel,” Jim says.

“Commander Talax reported that the Equinox was unable to detect the attackers before it was too late, and we have already observed a discrepancy in sensor readings,” Spock observes, just as quietly. “And, Jim. Tricorders are not infallible.”

Jim’s heart thuds so hard it might beat away from his ribs. “Scan the ship,” he says, shortly, and Grahame is ramrod straight. “Scan on every frequency you can access. If there’s someone else here, I want to know, okay?”

Spock nods, and Jim glances over to the doors of Sickbay, to the muted shapes that bustle there, and he thinks about McCoy, with his surgeon’s hands and EMT’s speed, and that thought shouldn’t be reassuring, but it is, and Jim wonders what that means, if that means anything, because McCoy is reassuring but Bones makes Jim want to curl into himself—

The comm buzzes.

Heyes to Kirk,” comes the crackled voice, and it’s on autopilot that Jim hooks his communicator open (but autopilot doesn’t belie the thrill of relief in his stomach, because if Spock’s right, then they can’t be here).

“Kirk here,” he answers. “Took your time, Lieutenant.”

Sorry, sir,” Heyes answers. “The access shaft was blocked – looks like there’s been some kind of accident. We had to go around.

Jim’s not worried. They’re not children.

“Okay,” he says, sharply, and then, “Be warned, Lieutenant: there is a possibility that we might not be alone on this wreck. Watch your exits.”

Spock’s tricorder hums in his hands.

Understood,” Heyes says, tightly.

Jim rubs at the bridge of his nose – but the tension, the tension and the thrill— He can’t deny that it sets him on fire. (Adrenaline junkie. Death wish. Pretty inseparable contexts, really.)

“Report,” he says, finally. “How’s the bridge?”

A mess, sir,” Heyes answers, and Jim can hear the frustration in his voice. “The captain’s chair is shot full of holes, and the Science station’s pretty much unsalvageable. We’ve been liaising with Jeyn’ya to see what we can get back online, but it looks like the feeds have all been trashed at the source. She’ll need the guys at Spacedock to even get the lights back on.”

“Except in Sickbay,” Grahame says.

“She’s dead in space,” Jim summarises, and then, “Any sign of whoever’s responsible?”

No, sir,” Heyes answers, but there’s something unutterably tight in his voice.

“Heyes,” Jim says.

There are bodies, sir,” Heyes says, after a second of silence that seemed to last an age. “Everywhere. The captain’s still in her chair, but she’s missing her head. That’s all over Tactical.” Jim closes his eyes. Spock’s fingertips tap faster. And Jim should stop this, should stop this litany of death, but he can’t, because Heyes can’t keep it bottled up inside. (And that’s okay.) “They’re slumped over consoles, Captain. God, the boy at Science can’t be more than twenty.” Jim doesn’t think of Chekov, with his innocent eyes and cheerful enthusiasm. But Heyes pauses, and gathers himself, and Jim can hear the shake in his voice, but doesn’t listen to it: “Approximately twenty dead here, sir. Including the captain and the first officer.”

And Jim’s heart just stops.

“What?” he barks.

Sir?

“The first officer is there?” Jim asks, because no, and Grahame’s eyes are bulging out of their sockets. (Jim motions towards Sickbay, and Grahame pads forward, hands glued to his phaser, and peers through the translucent panes.)

“Yes, sir,” Heyes answers, and he’s suddenly tense, too. “A commander. Andorian. Stationed at Navigation, with the captain’s blood on his face.

Jim doesn’t swear. “Lieutenant,” he says calmly, “I need you to make your way to Sickbay, and to get Jeyn’ya and the others off this ship. Now. Is that understood?”

But there’s no answer. The communicator in Jim’s hand is dead.

“Captain,” Spock says. “Twenty additional biosigns.” And his voice is strained, and Vulcan voices are never strained.

“Spock,” Jim says lowly. “Where?”

Spock blinks. “Sickbay.”

And Jim looks to Sickbay, to the doors that shine through with bright white light, and there is fear on Grahame’s face, and the fear is still there as the door slide open under alien hands and the security officer takes a bullet through the face. And blood might blend in with red, but it splatters across Spock’s shirt and Jim’s face like wildfire, and Grahame was a good man

“Took you long enough.”

Talax stands there, with a fistful of Doctor Monroe’s hair, and it’s clear, now: the blue of his skin is just a little too bright and his diction is just a little too Earth and his antennae are just a little too rigid – but that doesn’t make the fear in Monroe’s eyes as she is forced to kneel at his feet any less sharp.

“Let them go,” Jim says, and behind the not-Andorian are the dead, those he had thought were bodies stacked against the back wall, but now they’re upright and moving (some with holes in their chests and some with missing limbs) and they’ve got the remnants of the Equinox’s crew at their mercy – the remnants, and then the medical team of the Enterprise.

“No,” not-Talax says, flatly. “You’re the scum scuffing our shoes, and we’re the ones with the heavy-duty weaponry. You’re in no position to argue. Captain.”

And the derision layered onto his rank (the rank that’s really so helpful right now) makes Jim’s stomach hurt. (He’s not looking for him, but there’s a Vulcan with half his face missing that’s holding his CMO, just behind not-Talax, and there’s a gash at McCoy’s hairline that’s weeping blood down his face, and he fought, of course he fought.) “Listen,” he says, and he calms himself and calms his voice, because negotiation is like soothing a savage beast (and he’d never admit that he likes it, likes walking the line, likes the knowledge that he can save people – that here, now, he’s useful and effective and he’s not just some rag to be fucked and thrown away—). “Just... listen. We’ll leave you in peace. The Equinox was under the impression that this system was deserted, they didn’t mean to disturb you. Let our people go, and we’ll leave. There’s no need for anyone else to die.”

Not-Talax waves the weapon in his hand dismissively. “You’re not getting it,” he says. “There’s always a need for someone else to die.”

“What?” Jim says, and Spock tenses, because this is supposed to be a rescue mission.

“We don’t want anything from you,” not-Talax says. “We just want you. Dead, precisely. This is our space. And you trespassed, so your lives are ours.”

Jim’s jaw works, just for a moment, but he can’t think – so he says, “Who are you?”

Not-Talax smiles, a crooked smile. “Not to be messed with,” he answers. “And we wear the faces of your dead to prove that to you – you’re next.” And he looks down, down at Monroe, with his fingers knotted in her red hair, and he says, “And I think she’s first.”

“Stop,” Jim says, and he’s losing his grasp, the situation’s slipping away from him – and that’s not supposed to be happening. “Stop, don’t.” But not-Talax doesn’t stop, and the muzzle of his weapon is pressed tight to Monroe’s cheek, and she’s terrified but she’s not screaming, and Spock is just rigid at Jim’s side—

And Bones is lunging forward, tearing free from the dead-alive Vulcan who was holding him just a second ago, and he barrels into not-Talax, shoving him forward, and not-Talax tears a handful of hair from Monroe’s head and she screams, high and piercing, but then the bastard’s weapon goes off, goes off with a sound that’s half pulse, half thud – but Monroe’s not in its way anymore.

Bones.

McCoy is still on the floor, and just as Jim’s phaser comes up and just as Anderson’s already fires from inside Sickbay, light swirls around them. The transporter, Jim hazily thinks as he’s scrambled into nothing, and then he’s back on Enterprise, with Scotty in front of him and a trembling Doctor Monroe crouched on the pad next to him—

He storms to the comm. “Kirk to bridge,” he says, and his voice is a spring, at the point of unwinding. “Destroy the Equinox.”

Already done, sir,” Sulu says.

Later, Jim will ask what happened, because he doesn’t want his crew to make a habit of blowing up Starfleet vessels – but right now, he turns back to the transporter pad and sees Bones being loaded onto a stretcher with thirty patterns still stored in the transporter’s data buffet, and Bones is as still as not-Talax should’ve been, and Jim can barely move.

There’s still blood on his face.

§§§

CMO Monroe wears a cap as she sits opposite Jim in his ready room, and she’s the highest ranking officer of the Equinox left alive. (Not-Talax ripped her hair out, and now she’s got a scabbed and bloody bald spot in the middle of luxurious red curls, but that’s the least of her problems, and Jim knows that.)

“They called themselves the Atari,” Monroe says, and her voice is quiet and empty. “They were the people our intel said had died out. The xenophobic part was true, but the database neglected to mention the part where they’re all murderous psychopaths, and the part where unless they want to be, they’re undetectable by almost all Terran sensors.” (And her voice shakes.) “They boarded Equinox. Took the bridge, killed them all. Killed Janet – and Talax. Communications went down. The next thing I know, the first officer is walking into my Sickbay and shooting Doctor Keeler in the heart.”

Jim doesn’t look away. He thinks she probably wants him too, wants him to be embarrassed that she’s lost everything – but she needs his strength, even if he’s not strong at all.

“They kept us locked up,” Monroe continues. “Killed fifty a day. Kept count in body bags. They’d hurt the crew, and then send them to me to patch them up. And then they detected you.”

Jim expects bitterness. There isn’t any.

“They disguised themselves as corpses,” Monroe says, and her voice is choked, full of tears. “Stacked themselves at the back of my Sickbay, and they laughed as they did it. And that fucker who stole Talax’s face, he told me—” She catches, and pauses, and stops – and Jim waits. He understands emotional trauma. Monroe straightens, and she doesn’t cry. “He said that if I tipped you off, then things would get even worse. And the look in his eyes when he said it—” She bites her tongue, and meets Jim’s gaze. “He meant it. And he’d do it.”

“It’s okay,” Jim says. “You did what you could.”

And Monroe looks at him, really looks at him, with emotion burning in her eyes, and she says, “How is any of this okay? Our crew is gone, our family – and we don’t even have their bodies.”

Jim doesn’t have an answer to that.

§§§

Monroe leaves, in the end, after she’s given her report – leaves to tend to what’s left of her crew. And it is her crew, now.

Jim sits, slack in his chair, and stares into space. His head is humming.

The door slides open. “Captain,” Spock says.

“Yeah?” Jim answers, and glances over to him, absently.

“Starfleet Command wishes a full report on the Equinox incident,” Spock says quietly. “As soon as possible.”

Jim nods. “Figured as much,” he says, half to himself, and then he smiles at Spock. “It’s already started.” And he won’t say this to Spock, but it’s a report that going to be more than a report – because rightly, he should be dead. Sulu only gave the order to beam them out because he was eavesdropping on the frequency of their communicators, and Heyes only told Sulu to eavesdrop on that frequency because he surmised from the silence on the comm line that something was wrong – and even then, it wasn’t enough, and Enterprise was too late, and Alanah Monroe’s crew has been decimated.

Jim’s jaw is tight. He’s already written to Grahame’s family: he did it with the man’s blood drying on his face.

Spock stands. “If that is all,” he says.

“I want you to send a communiqué to Starfleet,” he says. “Top priority. I want Alanah Monroe put forward for the Medal of Honor. Attach to that recommendation her testimony, and my report.”

“Understood,” Spock says, and there’s a glimmer in his eye that says that he approves, that he can’t help but feel his heart break for such a broken woman. (Or maybe that’s just Jim imprinting on those around him.)

“And arrange counselling for the survivors,” Jim says, softly. “For when they get back to Earth. I think they’ll need it.”

Spock pauses, and he faces Jim, and folds his hands together behind his back. “And for you, Captain?”

“Just do it,” Jim says, and looks away.

(Spock leaves, and Jim can’t help but sit in his chair, and think about Monroe has been left with, and what he could’ve lost.)

§§§

Bones feels like he’ll break if he breathes in too hard – so he breathes shallowly.

The lights are bright around him and it’s warm, warm from the crush of injured people, and for a second he thinks they’re still there, still surrounded by the goddamn walking dead – but they’re not, and he’s not, and even though he took a bullet through the lung, he’s doing okay.

“If you try and sit up,” Chapel says, “I’ll kill you myself. You’ve been unconscious for three days. If you screw up Yjana’s handiwork now, I won’t be your human shield.”

Bones lets his arms go limp from where he was beginning to try and push himself back into a sitting position, and crooks his lips into a smile. But then the smile fades, and he says, “Doctor Monroe?”

“She’s fine,” Chapel answers, and rests her hand on his chest to keep him down. “She’s looking after the survivors, keeping them together.” And there’s the hitch in his nurse’s voice that tells Bones that Alanah Monroe is not alright, and that she probably never will be again. But he knew that, anyway, in his heart.

Bones subsides a little, and lets Chapel work. “What happened to the Equinox?” he asks.

“Destroyed,” Chapel answers, and presses a hypospray into his neck. He begins to feel a little less delicate. “Hikaru transported us all off when they heard weapons fire and that thing over the comm, and then they destroyed her. Nothing left but ash.”

Chapel’s hand shakes, just a little.

Bones covers her fingers with his own. “It’s over, Christine,” he says. “It’s done.”

“I know,” she says, and doesn’t smile.

Bones lets her hand go. “Anything else?” he says.

Chapel looks at him. “The captain’s been in,” she says. “With you.”

Bones feels his heart judder. “What?”

“Sitting with you,” Chapel says. “For hours.”

(And now that he thinks about it, Bones is fairly sure that he can smell Jim on the air.)

§§§

It’s evening, now.

Jim stands, at the window in his quarters, watching the stars run by like milk – and he waits.

Bones was released from Sickbay just under an hour ago, and there’s been a personal message from his captain waiting for him for thirty-three hours now. Jim’s got that same message open on the padd that blinks on his desk, and he glances at it, from time to time, and wonders. (But this is his choice. To start afresh, as much as they can.)

When you get this, the message reads, come find me.

Jim wonders if Bones will come.

He leans over to his desk, and switches the padd off.

(Folded, on his desk, next to the padd, is the golden shirt he wore when they boarded the Equinox. It’s stained with sweat and dirt and blood, but he can’t bear to have it washed, because that blood is all that’s left of Benedict Grahame, and he won’t let that just be wiped away.)

(Jim doesn’t know it, but secreted away in a corner of a drawer in Spock’s quarters, there’s a similar blue shirt, soiled and bloody and unwashed.)

The door chimes.

“Come in,” Jim says, and his mouth isn’t dry, for once.

“Captain,” Bones says, and his voice is studiedly neutral. “You wanted to see me?”

“No,” Jim says, and turns around, away from the easy light of the stars. “Not ‘Captain’.” And he takes a breath. “Jim.”

Jim can see that Bones doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t know what the rules are. The doctor nods, and says, “Okay.”

And now that Jim comes to think about it, he doesn’t know what to do, and he sure as hell doesn’t know what the rules are – because they haven’t spoken for a month, but nothing’s gone away, it’s all there, in the subtext, and it hurts.

“How do you know Doctor Monroe?” he says, because he can’t take the silence.

“Starfleet Medical,” Bones answers, with a trace of the automatic in his voice. “We worked the same shift.” He pauses, and then, “She was assigned to the Enterprise during the Narada incident. Spent more time in Sickbay than I did. I recommended her for CMO on the Equinox.”

“Oh,” Jim says, because what else can he say to that? (He can hear the blame in Bones’ voice, and he thinks that Bones always blames himself for everything, even when it’s not his fault – and that can’t be helped by other people blaming him, too.)

“She and that Andorian—”

“Talax,” Jim completes, because fuck, he’s got that particular name burned into his mind (under the subheading Benedict Grahame, murderer of).

“Talax,” Bones says. “They were close. Closer than family. He was disowned by his family for joining Starfleet, and she took him in, taught him that Earth’s not all about ice and the Ushaan. They roomed together for three years.”

Jim can’t speak, but he can feel Bones’ gaze on him, and he knows that he understands.

“Christine told me that you recommended her for the Medal of Honor,” Bones says, and he glances to Jim at the exact same time Jim glances to him, and the sudden eye contact makes Jim’s fingers skitter.

“She deserves it,” Jim says, as if he needs to explain.

“She won’t accept it,” Bones counters. “She feels like she’s failed her crew. Like—” And his gaze is tight on Jim, and Jim can’t help but feel that Bones is begging him to listen, to understand. “Like she let down the people that mattered to her the most. She won’t accept a reward for that.”

And Jim listens. “But the fact is,” he says, “she did everything she could to keep her crew alive.”

They’re silent.

Neither knows what to say.

“You tried to sacrifice yourself for her,” Jim says, finally.

“I tried to save her,” Bones replies. “That’s all I ever wanted to do.”

Jim glances away, and he sees his quarters – sees the table that sits bare, now, because in his head, it’s Bones table, and sees the couch that’s not meant for a single person, and sees those leather-bound journals, sitting on the shelf that they never leave, because fuck, this is hard.

“I don’t forgive you,” Jim says, quietly, and Bones stiffens. “I don’t think I could, even if I wanted to. What you did— I don’t even know what to think about that. I can’t. But I know that the last thing I want is this.” And he gestures uselessly at the air between them.

“Jim?” Bones asks, and his voice is hoarse, as if he’s just been returned from sand and suns and journals.

“The silence,” Jim says. “The trying to hate you. The trying to pretend that I’m okay.”

And Bones takes a step forward, and Jim doesn’t want to push him away. “Jim,” he says, simply.

“The Equinox crew,” Jim says. “They’re getting help, when we get back. Counsellors and stuff. I asked Starfleet Command to patch me through to someone, for personal reasons.” He pauses, and there’s heaviness in Bones’ eyes. “I don’t know if it’ll help.”

Bones’ eyes are calm, but there’s something that’s just not quite right about them, and that hasn’t been right for so long. “You still got that commlink?” he asks.

Jim doesn’t answer that, but he knows that he doesn’t need to.

“I want us to start again,” Jim says, finally. “I want us to start over, and for everything to be fine. But that’s not going to happen – it can’t.”

“So what do we do?” Bones asks.

And Jim thinks about Bones hurling himself at a psychopathic monster in a futile attempt to save an old friend, and he thinks about holes in his memory and having no memory – and then making memories all over again. He’s thought about this, all of this—about what to do next and how to move forward—and he knows they made up before, after Risa the first time round, and he’s wondered whether Spock could copy him Bones’ memories of that time – but that wouldn’t work, because a memory is just a memory, and a relationship has to be lived.

Bones is watching him, expectant.

“Try,” Jim says. “Because anything else is giving up.”

They don’t kiss.

They don’t run into each other’s arms and spend the night entwined, because that’s how they got into this mess to begin with. Bones sleeps on the couch, and Jim curls up in his (their?) bed with the door open, and they listen to each other breathing, but they don’t touch.

(Jim sleeps better than he has in weeks.)

And, for now, this is how they are.

finis

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Comments {114}

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Les jeux sont faits

from: leonie_alastair
date: May. 3rd, 2010 09:46 pm (UTC)
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As much as the ending ripped my heart out - thank you for not tying all the ends up neatly. I am now going to go re-read the entire series. Thanks for writing.

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 3rd, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
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*hugs* Thank you. (And, if I'm honest, I don't see how the ends could be tied up neatly with this series. They're just far too complicated.)

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they come and come, like light under the door

from: normalhumanbein
date: May. 3rd, 2010 10:01 pm (UTC)
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EXCUSE ME WHILE I BAWL LIKE A HYSTERICAL CHILD.

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 3rd, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
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*BIG HUGS*

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? :D ♥

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Fays

from: fays
date: May. 3rd, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC)
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I'm not quite sure how to articulate my thoughts right now, mostly they're just a jumble of bittersweet free flowing tears and love for you and this story.

But first off let me just say that I truly appreciate that you didn't use the cliched power of the healing cock to mend bridges. The ending was just perfect, real, and heart wrecking in all the best ways.

There's so many lines and paragraphs that I just wanna push deep down into my pockets to unwind for later savoring. The style and tone is just gorgeous.

Seriously, thank you so much for sharing this <3 I think I need some chocolate and maybe a hug to regain coherency though because guh it hurts but it hurts so good.

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 3rd, 2010 10:14 pm (UTC)
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If you're going for chocolate and a hug, I'll take that too. (This took it out of me to write. It's hard.)

Thank you. ♥♥

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sunlight on your path

from: thistlerose
date: May. 3rd, 2010 10:11 pm (UTC)
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*sniffle* Oh, boys. Oh, my poor broken boys. I wish Jim could have found it in his heart to forgive McCoy, but I also understand why he can't, at least for now and probably for a long, long while if not forever. (I hope not forever.) This ends on such a bittersweet note. But there's hope, and the suggestion that they're stronger (together) than everything that's been trying to rip them apart. I'm glad they're finally getting professional help too. They need it.

Also, you come up with wonderfully creepy scenarios. *approves*

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 3rd, 2010 10:16 pm (UTC)
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Wonderfully creepy? :D I can take that as a compliment.

THEY REALLY DO NEED PROFESSIONAL HELP. But I do think that it would take someone else's need to make either of them admit to it, because they're just that stubborn.

Oh, boys.

Thank you, bb. ♥♥

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from: zhushasha
date: May. 3rd, 2010 10:20 pm (UTC)
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I hate you! Sorry, I love you! :D
I need to go to bed RIGHT NOW because I have to get up to catch my flight and then I'm gonna have an interview, I can't read this now...gosh.
BB, thanks so much for writing it:)

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 3rd, 2010 10:22 pm (UTC)
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BED. NOW.

It'll still be there when you get back. :D And yeah, I'm blaming you for the EMOTIONAL TURMOIL of the past few hours as I wrote this (not only because of the fic itself, but also because I didn't learn my Greek and I have a test tomorrow and SHIT).

Anyway.

GOOD LUCK, BB. (Jim knows you can do it.) ♥♥♥♥♥

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AQ aka Syredronning

from: syredronning
date: May. 3rd, 2010 10:30 pm (UTC)
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This series always tightens my chest and makes it hard to breathe. Heart-breaking and heavy and still too good to not read and suffer through it :(

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 4th, 2010 05:43 am (UTC)
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*hugs* Thank you. ♥♥

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(Deleted comment)

sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 4th, 2010 05:44 am (UTC)
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*rights you in your chair* :D

(I love that line, too. It makes me feel fuzzy and hurty inside.)

Thank you, so much. ♥

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rubynye

from: rubynye
date: May. 3rd, 2010 11:14 pm (UTC)
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You are such an astonishingly excellent writer. Every time I read something by you I'm awed at its complexity, its verity, its surety. I adore your worldbuilding, the way you always remember that Starfleet's not just about Humans, the utterly real ways your characters act.

And your mastery of tension takes my breath away. At "But there’s no answer. The communicator in Jim’s hand is dead." I screamed.

I am very glad to be in a fandom graced by you.

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 4th, 2010 05:46 am (UTC)
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Screaming, I think, might be exactly the right response in this situation. Poor Starfleet.

Thank you. ♥♥

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amine_eyes

from: amine_eyes
date: May. 3rd, 2010 11:17 pm (UTC)
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Ahhhhh .... God I read through the previous parts to this in order to understand, and OH MY GOD. Seriously, you've just ripped my heart out, and helped put it back together, and it's so real and brilliant how you put new twists on scenarios :)

(And the idea of them taking the faces? I got reminded of Saw, and possessing aliens, and now I think I'm going to have nightmares)

Fantastic writing here :D

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 4th, 2010 05:47 am (UTC)
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Don't have nightmares! *hugs* (I think the 'taking faces' thing is more along the lines of a race that are able to mimic any species form/appearance, because stealing faces? Ewww. *shudders* Wonderful. I'm going to have nightmares, now! :D)

Thank you. ♥♥

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Defying Augury

from: ennyousai
date: May. 3rd, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC)
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Very, very nicely done.

One of the things about this that is so impressive is the ending. It hurts, but it's real. Life isn't a fairytale, and wounds like that aren't something you just wave a hand and forget. But they're trying. And that's the important thing.

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 4th, 2010 05:49 am (UTC)
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Very, very nicely done.
(From someone who's been reading from the beginning, that makes me rather happy.)

Thank you. ♥♥

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Amy

from: mellaithwen
date: May. 4th, 2010 12:11 am (UTC)
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DARLING.

OH.

how to express my love. but aaaaaah the evil's in this were soooo very evil and bones and spock and grahame and aaaaaaaaah, looove :)

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 4th, 2010 05:49 am (UTC)
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GRAHAME. That is all.

THANK YOU, BB. ♥♥♥

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(Deleted comment)

sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 4th, 2010 05:49 am (UTC)
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Thank you. ♥♥

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kelpietree

from: kelpietree
date: May. 4th, 2010 01:53 am (UTC)
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oh. been waiting for this. so sad, but a spark of hope. thaks for updating.

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 4th, 2010 05:50 am (UTC)
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been waiting for this.
:D Thank you. ♥♥

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Em

from: framlingem
date: May. 4th, 2010 02:37 am (UTC)
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I love your work. I really, really do. I love how things aren't always all right and there's no happily-ever after, but there's always the possibility that things will get better.

After they get a lot worse, of course. *heh*

One nitpick - "a full compliment". That should be "complement". Compliment, with an I, is only for when someone's saying something nice about something.

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 4th, 2010 05:51 am (UTC)
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Damnit! Typo... *goes to fix* (Thanks, bb.)

And of course they have to get a lot worse first! I am, after all, the Queen of Angst... :D ♥♥♥

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Flyingmachine

from: flyingmachine
date: May. 4th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC)
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WHY NOW??
Will read this FIRST THING after my thesis defense concludes Wednesday.
PROMISE.

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Emily

from: emiliglia
date: May. 4th, 2010 03:12 am (UTC)
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I got to read it - ha!

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Gwyn Raven

from: gwynraven
date: May. 4th, 2010 02:59 am (UTC)
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Oh gods. So heartbreaking. I admit I was hoping for a happier ending but I can see how that really wouldn't fit with this fic.

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 4th, 2010 05:53 am (UTC)
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I'd like to be able to write a happier ending that fitted with the fic, but... Like you say. I don't think there is one. (Poor boys.)

Thank you. ♥♥

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Emily

from: emiliglia
date: May. 4th, 2010 03:11 am (UTC)
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Crying.

But I love and appreciate how it wasn't all magically fixed at the end. I wouldn't have accepted any ending other than the one you wrote.

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 4th, 2010 05:53 am (UTC)
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*hugs&tissues*

Thank you. ♥♥

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from: severinne
date: May. 4th, 2010 03:56 am (UTC)
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I felt I needed to wait until the right time to read this when I saw it posted, and I'm glad I did because this is one of those rare fics where the emotional punch of it is so raw and visceral that I'm glad I've got a moment to collect myself here. The ending is exactly what it needed to be, for which I must commend you because it's not easy by any stretch leaving them like that but it's really all there is for now (even though it still pains me especially to see Bones in this place as the penitent to Jim's trauma, after all Bones has suffered too... damn, can someone give him a hug?).

Also, the whole disaster on the Equinox was astonishingly well-conceived as a story within this story. The suspense was pitch-perfect and all the escalating reveals were simply horrifying. Very bloody brilliantly well done. :)

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 4th, 2010 05:54 am (UTC)
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I think there'll be people queuing up to give Bones a hug. :D

Thank you, so much. ♥♥

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ivorysilk

from: ivorysilk
date: May. 4th, 2010 03:59 am (UTC)
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Wow. You do write them beautifully, although they go through so much, and it's all so double-sided--you also manage to do this whole complex plot thing and make it look seamless and inevitable. I'm so very glad you finished this part--I was so excited to see this posted today.

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 4th, 2010 05:55 am (UTC)
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I was excited to see this posted today! (I've been feeling guilty about it for literally months. *headdesk*)

Thank you. ♥♥

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clarkoholic

from: clarkoholic
date: May. 4th, 2010 04:29 am (UTC)
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brb... crying right now.

my bbs!!! I can't even form words. As usual, this was brutally beautiful and exciting. I'm so happy that Jim made the positive decision to get help (and Spock for totes pushing him toward it!). I love how you ended it because, lets face it, these boys cannot just pretend everything's fine now that they decided to make it work.

So much hurt! I love it! Great great work bb!

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 4th, 2010 05:56 am (UTC)
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SPOCK NEEDS TO START EVERYTHING BECAUSE HE IS AWESOME. Also, because Jim&Bones are pig-headed. :D

Hey, you're the one who wants them to be ripped apart and miserable forever. :D ♥♥

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from: phoenix_ringo
date: May. 4th, 2010 05:28 am (UTC)
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I swear I feel like crying....

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 4th, 2010 05:56 am (UTC)
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*hugs&tissues* ♥

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Renee M Romero

from: easilymused1956
date: May. 4th, 2010 06:19 am (UTC)
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I just finished reading the series start to finish.

You have created a vivid Universe, and peopled it with characters who are incredibly believable. Yes, their lives are brutal, but outer space is brutal. Living in a tin can is brutal.

But you have made all of them a family. A 'normal' dysfunctional family.

I can't tell you how impressed I've been by the series. Brava!

Renee

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 4th, 2010 04:33 pm (UTC)
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Wow, all four in one? How are you still able to type? :D (I couldn't make it through all that emotional trauma at one sitting!)

Thank you. ♥♥

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cosantoir

from: cosantoir
date: May. 4th, 2010 09:36 am (UTC)
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Aaaahhh! So I think I read part one as some point a while back, but I'd forgotten to keep up with this one -- thankfully! ;) I still remember checking repeatedly daily for...glass. Yes. God, the trauma! -grins- So I reread this whole one tonight and I'm lucky I didn't try to read all of them again because these series leave me feeling raw and achey and that's GOOD and AWESOME but...!

First: Faraday. ;-; I still spontaneously cry when I think of Jyi’q. Honestly. It's a little sad, because I don't really keep too many OCs in my head, maybe three, and Jyi’q is one and she's deaaaddd. Bah! -giggles- I wanted to hug Faraday in her flailiness.

Now...the rest. Gaahhh. You do like carving out peoples' brains and hearts and poking them fulla holes, don't you? -grins- ...now, one could counter that they liked it, but...;) You won't hear that from me.

Oh, Bones. It wasn't his place to let Jim stay like that, but...I sympathize with him more than Jim, I think. My poor pissy boy. Still: Poor boys. They both need major damn hugs and cuddles. And maybe a long shore leave on an HONEST TO GOD uninhabited planet with NO SPORES, no PLANTS, no...nothing! ...on second thought, maybe they just need a holodeck. ...and even that's infallible. Shit. They're never going to get any peace. xD

This was wonderfully, beautifully done -- as always. Thank you so much for bringing it to us poor angst-nomming peons who have to get their fix from those who are actually talented because they can't write angst to save their lives!

Also, I'll have to scalp people who try and tie you down and not let you write multiple-part stories. -innocence- The wait is TOTALLY worth it. ;)

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 4th, 2010 04:39 pm (UTC)
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I'm really quite harsh to my OCs, if I'm honest. They have a seventy percent chance of dying. I don't think that's a good thing. :D

And angst-nomming pretty much describes my life, bb. Thank you. ♥♥

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claudia_nic

from: claudia_nic
date: May. 4th, 2010 11:47 am (UTC)
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God...I just read the entire thing in one go becasue it had been so long and now I'm just...BAHHHHH!

It's so good, but also so sad and it kind of makes me angry but in the end there's that little bit of hope and I'm now hoping that you will fix them, both of them and them together.

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 4th, 2010 04:39 pm (UTC)
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*hugs* They should have a warning: do not read all at once...

:D Thank you. ♥♥

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firstlaw

from: firstlaw
date: May. 4th, 2010 01:46 pm (UTC)
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OK, first apologies because I'm right now bribing your muse for more and more in this series!!!.

You write broken people like onone else's business!! Each and every of these stories always leaves me sad but in a fulfilled way.

LOved the ending, perfect. Still I missed a bit of Jim remembering that it had been his decision to step into what the Karashians offered on the first place... So I'm standing here, in the long queue, waiting to hug Bones..

Ok, pretty please, do not kick muses away? This fandom really needs you.

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sea-sky

from: vixys
date: May. 4th, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC)
link

I'm not saying I'm not going to write in Trek fandom again (because dude, it's like my crack :D), but not this verse. Not these boys. (I've put them through enough.)

You write broken people like onone else's business!!
... not sure if that's a good thing, really. :D

Thank you. ♥♥

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