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Fic: The Uncreated Conscience

Title: The Uncreated Conscience
Author: vivid_butterfly
Rating: PG-13.
Series: ST XI, based on a ST:TOS episode.
Characters/Pairings: John Kyle, Kevin Riley, Riley/Kyle, Kirk, Bones, Suli
Summary: Everything changed when Nero came back and everything stayed the same.
Notes: According to LJ I started this Jan 8, 2010. I have just now finished it. It's just been sitting here as a private entry for nearly a year collecting dust, but
toastycola made me remember it.
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Riley woke up with a start, which wasn’t unusual at all for him. He hadn’t had a good night's sleep since he was five.

“Computer,” he began, voice still soft from sleep, “lights.” The lights came on. He stretched his arms behind his head and let out a yawn. He had tugged his shirt off during the night, so he sat up on the small excuse for a bed and grabbed the balled up black undershirt near his pillow: he missed gold.

After pulling the shirt back on he laid down on the bed to stare at the ceiling. He opened his book and began to read.


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Once upon a time and a very good time it was
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The children on Tarsus play games. They do it often; when they aren't in class or helping tend to the crops they spend their time under the soft light of the blue sun and the shade of the purple clouds.

 The colony is remote and replicator use is almost non-existent, so they rely more on their imaginations than technology. PADDs are only used by adults and limited to one per family; visual communication gets interference from the atmosphere so they don’t see the governor makes his proclamations, they just hear his voice. The kids aren't allowed to use the PADDs until they're sixteen years old and then it is only for assignments.  So, they improvise and find other ways to amuse themselves.

They skip stones across the large silver lake their mommies and daddies tell them not to ever ever ever touch because it makes you real sick. Some of the kids take sticks and scratch pictures in to the black glossy sand.  Some of the older kids, the ones who get to use PADDs, pair off and run together to the edge of the forests; they come back later with dirt on their back and flora in their hair.  Kevin doesn't understand why they keep playing games when they get to use PADDs and have all sorts of fun things to read.

When he gets big he is going to get his own PADD and he is going to read all the time.

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His father told him that story: his father looked at him through a glass: he had a hairy face.
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His father reads him stories at night in front of the fire. His family owns books. Not many of the colonists do. Kevin isn't allowed to touch them often, but when he does he holds them reverently in his palms and is afraid to move too much lest he ruin them. Sometimes his daddy lets him turn the pages.

Every time he does his daddy smiles and ruffles his hair. Kevin smiles back.  His mommy laughs from the table. She smiles at them; Kevin likes it when his mommy smiles.  At night Kevin sneaks out of his bed and into theirs. Sometimes they pretend they don’t notice and let him sleep with them under the fluffy white blankets until the blue sun rises over the sharp black hills, but other times his mommy scoops him up in her arms and carries him back to his bed where she lays him down onto the mattress and smiles. She tucks his sheets around him: his sheets are gold.

She touches his nose and traces his eyebrows. She kisses him on the forehead and rocks him in her arms; her voice is prettier than his daddy's.

Kevin likes to climb; he scales over rocks and up in to trees where he sits in branches and picks out the poison berries from the trees and squishes them between his fingers. They stain his skin blue and when he comes home his mommy scolds him and makes him scrub until all traces are gone.

When his skin is pink instead of blue she kisses him on his nose and tells him dinner will be ready soon and go sit until she and daddy finish.

She hums as she cooks; his daddy hums along.

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He sang that song. That was his song.
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Kevin tells his mommy he is hungry. His daddy frowns.

I know, sweetie, she says and she looks very sad. Riley doesn’t like it when his mommy looks so sad.

There is going to be more food soon, his daddy promises and pulls him up in to his lap, but we have to be a little hungry until it gets here. And do you know what we’ll have when it gets here?

What? Riley asks and touches his daddy’s beard; it feels soft under his fingers. When he gets big he is going to have a beard just like his daddy.

Icecream, his daddy says, with all the sprinkles you want.

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-What is your father?
Stephen had answered:
-A Gentleman.
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The children play a game called hide-and-go-seek. Kevin doesn’t like to play it.

His parents whisper to him that it’s just like the game. Don’t move, don’t say anything, and stay very still. You don’t want to be it. So stay so so quiet. His mommy cries and his daddy holds her close. Stay quiet, Kevvy, we love you. We love you so much. His mommy kisses him on the nose and his dad gets his shoulder wet when he hugs him. Stay quiet, they say again, don’t move. We love you.

 He can see them; they can’t see him. Kevin doesn’t like this game.

They take his parents away and he doesn’t make a noise.

The children play a game called hide-and-go-seek. Kevin doesn’t like to play this game. He always gets found.


Riley closed the book to roll over and stare at the wall. He didn’t even bother to look up when his food arrived.


Kevin doesn’t move, doesn’t speak, almost doesn’t even breathe. He can’t see his mommy or his daddy anymore, but there are men tearing through the house pulling out drawers and opening boxes.

They break open the lock on a chest and dump out its contents on the wood floor. Kevin’s chest hurts. His daddy’s books are all over the ground.

Where is the food? They call out. Keep looking, they say. Look everywhere.

The door slams open.

He presses himself up against the wall and tries not to make a sound.

Found one, they say, and they drag him out his hiding place kicking and screaming.

He can’t find his mommy and daddy. He keeps shouting for them, and people keep shoving him forward.

 Everyone looks sad and hungry.

Kevin wants his mommy. The governor stands up in front of everyone and speaks, voice clear and steady. During the commotion he manages to slip behind one of the guards and he runs.

He never stops running.


“Christ Kev,” John breathed out. He leaned up against the wall and stared at him with a stunned look on his handsome face.

“Why didn’t you ever tell me?”

“Tell you what?” Riley asked, innocently, sitting on the bed.

Anger flashed in John’s eyes and he slammed his fist against the wall.

“Stop playing games with me,” he choked out desperately, his blue eyes were gleaming under the bright lights. They reminded him of the sun back on Tarsus.

“Just be honest, for the first time in your damn life; be honest with me. Please.”

Riley stared down at the freckles on the back of his hands. When he finally spoke, it didn’t even sound like him. It felt so far away

“I was there. I saw it all happen.”
 

The supply ships come early for some, but too late for many. The rescue teams fan out to find survivors.

They find him hidden near the edge of the forest, curled up near the base of a tree. He is nearly fifteen pounds underweight and so exhausted he can barely keep his eyes open. When they first spot him, they aren't sure if he is alive or not.

He is.

They drag him from his hiding place kicking and screaming.


Eventually, Giotto made John leave; Riley hardly seemed to notice.

Riley examined his food thoughtfully. He poked at an egg with his fork, shoving it across the plate. It split open and the yellow yolk spilled over on to his toast. He put down the tray and slid it across the room; he laid down on the bed again.



The closest relative Kevin has is his mother's cousin who lives in San Francisco; she works for Starfleet as a communications expert. She agrees to take the kid in until they can find him a more permanent home.

They enroll him in school and try to treat him like he’s normal.

On the first day a small boy a year or two older than him with brown eyes and black hair introduces himself and asks him with if he wants to play. Kevin bites him. They fight. When they finish, the other boy has a split lip and Kevin has the beginnings of a black eye.

I like you the kid says with a grin, what’s your name?

Riley, he says, Kevin Riley.

Alright, Riley. I’m Hikaru Sulu.

They cause trouble together. He’s twelve the first time he smokes a cigarette, fourteen the first time he gets so drunk Hikaru has to carry him back home, and by the time he is sixteen he’s slept with half of the girls in his grade.

And when Kevin’s guardian comes down to the police station for the first time to pick up her second cousin she says Kevvy, what am I going to do with you?

It’s Riley, he says, and then he promises it won’t ever happen again.

 It is the first time of many.

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It was his own soul going forth to experience, unfolding itself sin by sin.

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As much trouble as they start Sulu  never lets him skip school on tests days and the two of them are at the top of their class. When graduation rolls around, Riley has no idea what to do so he follows Sulu to Starfleet.

His second cousin is so happy she cries; Riley hates it when people cry.

He goes through classes in the same sort of half-asleep daze he's been in for years. And it works well enough for him. He passes class after class and gets closer to his assignment and during his third year he meets a boy.

And everything changes and everything stays exactly the same.


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The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.
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His name is John and he has the bluest eyes Riley has ever seen, a crooked smile, and so many siblings Riley can't keep track.

They make it almost three months before John gets so frustrated he ends things.

 Because that's what Riley does. He pushes and pushes until John can't handle it anymore and tells him it's done.

Then Riley shows up at his quarters at 0300 looking so pathetic John's heart aches and he lets him back in.

The first time John ruffles his hair, Riley almost clocks him. Same when he tries to kiss his forehead.

John watches him like he is some sort of malfunctioning warp coil that just needs a few tweaks before it was up and functioning good as new and Riley lets him, because sometimes he hopes he is. Even though he knows he isn't.

John and Riley's break ups become a bit of a joke on the ship, laughed about over drinks and smirked about during shifts.

They're broken up when it happens, but that is just a matter of poor timing.

He sits at his post with a bored sort of look on his face and waits for orders. He beams people on and he beams people off. It's a standard pattern, then one day he beams up an traveling acting troop and everything is exactly the same and everything has completley changed.

 

Because Riley wakes up.


Riley leaned up against the wall, drawing his knees to his chest. He opened the book and began to read.

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I do not fear to be alone or to be spurned for another or to leave whatever I have to leave. And I am not afraid to make a mistake, even a great mistake, a lifelong mistake and perhaps as long as eternity too.
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Riley’s mouth is set in a hard line as he walks on stage, phaser drawn. The crowd stares on in stuned silence,

“The revolution is successful,” Riley begins quietly his voice sounding old and distant in the hollow echo of the silent room, “but survival depends on drastic measures. Your continued existence represents a threat to the well-being of society. Your lives mean slow death to the more valued members of the colony.”

The man on stage turns to look at him; there is a look in his eyes that Riley knows well. He's seen it in his own face every morning and on the face of every survivor he has ever met.

The man kneels before Riley, guilt still etched in the lines of his face. They speak together now.

“Therefore I have no alternative but to sentence you to death. Your execution is so ordered. Signed, Kodos, governor of Tarsus Four.”

Riley pulls the trigger; relief washes over him like the soft heat of the blue Tarsun sun.

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He sang that song. That was his song.
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“The transport will be here for Lieutenant Riley at 0900 Earth hours tomorrow,” McCoy reported as he entered the captain's office.

Kirk stared out at the darkness of space; he didn't turn around or do anything to acknowledge the other man's presence.

“The DNA results are in. It is, was, Kodos.”

“What do you think will happen to the kid?” Kirk asked softly.

McCoy crossed his arms over his chest and scowled slightly, “Hell if I know, maybe they'll acquit him on account of extreme emotional distress, but whatever it is his Starfleet career is over.”

A long silence passed between the two of them until the captain let out a sigh and began to speak, “I never told you, did I, Bones?”

“Never told me what, Jim?”

Kirk turned around in his chair to look at the man standing in front of him. He reached his desk and pulled out a bottle of some black liquid and poured it in to two glasses, motioning for McCoy to sit down.

“I was almost there.”

“Where?” McCoy asked as he picked up one of the glasses and began to examine it intently, “back stage? You had no way of knowing what was going to happen. You can’t go blaming yourself for-” Kirk interrupted him, his voice still uncharacteristically soft.

“No. Tarsus. My mother was supposed to be stationed there: Sam and I, we were supposed to go with her. But when I got in to trouble again she decided I needed to stay on Earth. She took off a few months to try and straighten me out, got assigned on planet.”

McCoy said nothing for a very long time; he placed the glass down on the desk.

“Aw hell Jim, you don’t think-” He trailed off then, unable to form in to words exactly what was going through his mind.

“All these things changed when Nero came back, what if? What if I had been there? What if I was supposed to be there?”

“We can’t waste time thinking what if, it’ll drive a man mad.” McCoy picked up his glass and finished it in a quick gulp.

“I can’t help it though, Bones. What would I have done? If I had been there, seen those things. Would I have done the same?”

“If you had been there, which you weren’t, you still would have had a choice. Lieutenant Riley had his choice.”

“For some reason,” Kirk said quietly into his glass, “I doubt that.”

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Tralala lala
 Tralala tralaladdy
 Tralala lala
 Tralala lala

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