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14 July 2009 @ 12:52 pm
Fic: Wanderers and Deities (2/7) - Venus  
Title: Wanderers and Deities
Chapter: Venus, the Bringer of Peace
Genre: Gen
Rating: PG-13
Note: See the master post for author's notes.

Venus features one of the most beautiful oboe solos in the history of western music about halfway through. It is also a study in perfect fourths (ala Here Comes the Bride) and perfect fifths (think the Star Wars theme).

II. Venus, the Bringer of Peace

Pavel Andreievich Chekov is doing something unusual, for it is midway through gamma shift and he is sitting alone on the bridge. He did not order the junior officers away. In truth he does not know if he has the authority to clear out the night watch. He merely made the gentle suggestion that they take a temporary leave, and they all scattered without question. Alone with only the echoes and vibrations of the ship as his company, he takes a heavy seat in his customary chair, locates his stylus, and begins pouring over the one little factoid that has been keeping him up at night.

It is not often that a piece of mathematics troubles young Chekov, regardless of the field. To him the understanding of numbers comes as easily and as naturally as breathing. He has used his knowledge to help save lives and planets, and he should be able to take great pride in his almost omnipotent understanding of the universe's natural and eternal language. So when a certain engineer, also highly proficient in the same language, approached him with a friendly challenge to provide a proof for a particularly difficult equation, Chekov could not refuse.

Chekov understands that this particular problem stymied mathematicians for over three hundred years until it was finally solved. The engineer also explains that they wagered money on this proof, and if there was one thing more exciting to Chekov than mathematics it was a challenge, particularly ones where victory was assured. The Russians did invent gambling, after all, he reminds himself confidently. The engineer told him that a significant amount of monetary reward would come his way should he find a solution to the problem within one week, something that might include credits or alcohol or something more—the chief engineer had been intentionally vague about that last point.

Here it is, six days and twenty hours after he had made said wager, and now the young ensign is staring at the screen before him, eyebrows furrowed, chin resting on his open palm, eyes bright and staring at the unusually long list of numbers that glow before him in a beautiful pattern, as compact and interconnected as a score of music.

He can not let himself be beaten by these numbers, nor by the engineer, because it would probably involve him having to drink scotch for a week and be called 'laddie' until his ears fall off.

It is an exhausting uphill battle, being the youngest member on the bridge, though he did not consider himself a child in light of his captain's . . . what was the word? Shenanigans, he thinks it is called, though the chief engineer had been drunk when he said it, and his pronunciation was bad enough when alcohol was not involved, so Chekov delegates that particular word to internal conversation only.

He realizes that his mind is wandering in an ethereal sort of way and chastises himself for becoming so distracted. He straightens and grips the stylus tightly, as if that alone were the source of his problem, and turns his eyes to the more pressing matters at hand. His eyes glass over as if in a trance and his hand seems to move of its own accord as his mind goes to work on a problem as old and as ponderous as the universe.

Odd that he should think it this way, for as his eyes cross over the light-colored numbers and symbols arranged on the dark background he suddenly decides that it looks like a blanket of stars. His eyes wander to the viewscreen not five paces from where he sits, and though it is only dimly lit the infinitesimal lights of the stars still shine brightly in his eyes, like diamonds against velvet. He sighs, slackens in his chair again, and lets the romantic image of virgin space percolate in his thoughts.

Sometimes he wonders if they underestimate him, if they mistake his curls and his uncontrollable accent and his childish face to indicate some sort of incompetency. After a breath he knows this is not true; it is not out of irritation that they latch onto his idiosyncrasies, but rather out of endearment.

Occasionally the first officer will use a word that is completely beyond his comprehension, and he will turn his exasperated eyes to the helmsman for translation. And the helmsman would always explain everything to him with that gentle, knowing smile on his face and a fraternal tone in his voice, and Chekov can not help but smile in return.

But he is well aware of the whispers and fragments of words that often echo in his wake, the gradual changes in expression whenever he walks into the room. They mean no malice by it, and he understands this. It is merely their natural response to him, as predictable as gravity. There is something unspoken between all of them that he is meant to be protected, though from what, Chekov never really knows. Perhaps it is from the chief engineer and his copious amounts of alcohol of dubious origin, or perhaps from anything that the captain might be doing at any given moment, or maybe they are worried that placing himself and the first officer too close together would result in a singularity of scientific and mathematical knowledge that would consume the bridge.

Or. . . perhaps they do it simply because they want to.

In the back of his mind, Chekov wonders blithely what these people would ever do without him, and he smiles a little inside. He finds himself fighting not to laugh uncontrollably as he realizes how far his mind has wandered. A lack of sleep can do unusual things to a person's mind, even one as sharp as his, and as much as he is tempted to return to his quarters he knows that he still has an important job to do. He haphazardly drags out a few more lines before the stylus slips across the screen and his exhausted fingers stumble; the stylus falls and rolls to the floor. He curses, if slightly slurred, and leans down to retrieve it. To obtain the proper trajectory necessary for him to reach the stylus he has to lean his head and free arm against the screen, and by the time the fingers of his other hand clasp the stylus his eyelids have already grown heavy with the effort. He manages to bring the implement to the screen with a half-hearted notion of completing another equation, but his arm falls limp, and before he can protest his eyes close in sleep, and his subconscious mind is dreaming about strings of numbers weaving around him like a blanket made of beautiful, glowing stars.

The corners of his lips curl into a barely detectable smile, the beautiful and placid expression of youth.

Hours pass unnoticed, for the secret language of the universe has no knowledge of time; indeed, it has no need for it. For the numbers in his dreams are the same as the numbers of someone in another galaxy, another lifetime, another reality, and will remain immutable and eternal until the final star in the universe draws its last breath.

The communications officer enters the bridge some time later and finds the young ensign draped over his console, head nestled in the crook of his arm, curls askew and mouth slightly open, trapped in the deep throes of sleep. His stylus is balanced precariously between two fingers, and though it is difficult to see the information the ensign is obscuring with his body, she can detect the fringes of a complicated mathematical equation scrawled from one side of the screen to the other.

She hesitates, places a hand on the sleeping ensign's shoulder and gives a gentle shake.

Chekov, he can hear a whisper. Wake up, Chekov.

He opens one eye begrudgingly, sees her chocolate-colored eyes staring at him with a tender expression. Good morning, she says to him, so beautifully and effortlessly in his mother tongue that his brain, half-drowned in sleep, can almost mistake it for his mother's voice.

He decides that it may be good, but he is pretty certain that it is not morning, though you could never really tell in space, but it did not feel like morning and he did not want it to be morning. He takes a deep breath and shuts his eyes again, contented.

Pavel Andreievich, she says to him, this is no place to be sleeping.

His eyes fly open for the simple fact that someone called him by his patronymic, and that is so unusual on this vessel that he has almost forgotten the sound of it. Needles of a sensation he can not name run down his spine and make him tremble a little inside. It reminds him that he is Pavel, son of Andrei, and not simply Pavel, or Chekov, or 'kid.' In a brief flash of child-like innocence he decides it is the most beautiful thing he has ever heard.

He manages to peel himself away from the sensitive console screen and tries to work out the kinks in his back, and bites back the yawn bubbling in his throat. He rubs the fatigue from his eyes and tries not to appear sheepish, though with his tousled hair and bemused expression this is nigh impossible.

She responds with a gentle smile and places a hand on his shoulder in a completely maternal gesture.

He wants to reach out to her and grasp her hand but can not bring himself to do so. He settles for simply addressing her as lieutenant, because saying her name seems entirely too personal, and is suddenly far too tall of a task for him to complete.

She inclines her head toward him in response and he looks suddenly away.

. . . You may call me Pasha, he sputters, and instantly feels the color spring to his cheeks.

Not many people at home have called him this, and he doubts that anyone else on the ship will ever do so, but she is proficient in linguistics and she understands the significance of this diminutive name; coming from her lips it will sound as harmonious and more beautiful than music.

Pasha.

He melts inside when she says it and a bright, dumbfounded smile nearly cracks his face in half; for a moment he forgets what he was doing there and can not even form a coherent sentence.

There is a beat of silence while she simply watches him, until suddenly a certain string of numbers permanently burned into his memory suddenly surface, and he remembers with a sudden jerk the lines of equations that had been serving as his pillow for the past several hours. He stutters an apology to the lieutenant and suddenly forgets her entirely, snapping his head back to the control panel in search of his stylus.

His mouth drops open as he looks at the equation. He shakes his head as if to jar his sluggish brain and drags his eyes across the lines again, and each time he deduces the same result. The proof is complete, arranged beautifully and logically and only missing a resounding quod erat demonstrandum as an exclamation point. His hand finds its way instinctively to his temple as he gapes wide-eyed at a proof he can not remember completing. He must have finished it in the delirium before sleep over took him, for he does not think that it is possible that he solved it through his dreams. . .

It has been six days, twenty-three hours, and twelve minutes.

He starts laughing out of exhaustion and pride and relief. His fingers trace above the lines of numbers, so symmetrical and logical and beautiful that suddenly all words fail him.

Good job, Pasha.

His mind snaps to attention at the sound of her voice, and a certain unspeakable thought suddenly blossoms at the forefront of his mind. He sits still for a moment, listens to his heart beating furiously against his chest in unbridled trepidation. He chews on his lip in a moment of speechless indecision, takes a measured breath.

His hands are suddenly clammy with sweat as he struggles mentally with a thought he never believed he could entertain. His hand hovers above the screen, fingers reaching out toward it like a child to his mother, and in a flash Pavel Andreievich Chekov makes one of the most important decisions of his young life.

He mutters something incomprehensible, and in a moment of catharsis drags his fingers across the screen in a series of gentle movements. All the numbers, so beautiful and so sacrosanct, vanish in an instant.

He now understands that there are some elements in his life more important than numbers and mathematical proofs and bets made for money and for pride. Just as this crew would not be the same without him, Chekov realizes in a moment of glorious mental clarity that he does not know how he could survive without them. It is symmetry much more beautiful than any equation he has ever known, for it is something that not even the delicate language of the universe could hope to explain.

He discards the stylus, folds his hands in his lap, and turns to the communications officer with a serene expression, his eyes locked on her own. He can manage only one simple phrase, but pours into it all the emotions that he can not hope to relate otherwise.

Thank you.

She responds to him in kind, and the communications officer and the young navigator dissolve into conversation in Pavel Andreievich's native Russian, their words echoing across the bridge in a perfect unity of voices.

To Be Continued.

 



 
4 4 comments | Leave a comment
 
 
blcwriter: rpslspockblcwriter on July 16th, 2009 01:40 am (UTC)
This is stunningly lovely.
Diamond Dusttheshiva on July 16th, 2009 01:43 am (UTC)
Thank you! :) I'm glad you enjoyed it.
cailet_06: Bodly Gocailet_06 on July 16th, 2009 10:28 pm (UTC)
Great job, and now I'm in love with the composer! The music fits in very well!
Melisus the Wee: mccoymelisus on July 18th, 2009 02:38 am (UTC)
Out of all the different pieces you wrote, this one was definitely my favourite! It might have been because the music started and ended exactly with my reading, so I felt the fic was exactly in sync with the piece. But I dunno... I could just picture it all, and I thought the idea of little Chekov sitting and gazing out across the universe really melded with Holst's work.