Fandom: Star Trek XI
Summary: November strikes the Enterprise.
Notes: Written for the cliche_bingo prompt "crack fic." NaNoWriMo fic counts as crack, right?
The insanity begins right around Stardate 2259.289, when Pavel joins Hikaru in the mess hall one day to find him hunched over a PADD.
"Are we still practicing fencing today?" Pavel asks, sitting down across from him. Hikaru doesn't answer immediately, but when he does look up, it's clear he didn't hear a word Pavel said.
"What?" says Hikaru.
Pavel jerks his chin in the direction of the PADD. "What are you reading?"
"Not reading," says Hikaru grimly. "Writing."
Pavel raises an eyebrow. "I did not realize you were a writer."
"I'm not," says Hikaru. "It's more of a - like, haven't you ever thought to yourself, 'man, I want to write a book someday,' and then someday never seems to happen?"
"Only about textbooks," says Pavel honestly, "but I am working on the research, and Mister Scott said he would help proofread it."
This, understandably, take Hikaru off-guard. "Maybe that's not such a great idea," says Hikaru cautiously. "But I meant more like - a novel. You know, just something fun and easy. I mean, why not?"
"So you are writing a novel?" asks Pavel, frowning. "I do not understand. Yesterday, the Captain was attacked by an eight-legged lizard with fur and tentacles. Is that not exciting enough for you?"
"It's not about excitement," says Hikaru. "It's about getting it done. And technically it's probably more of a novella," he admits.
"How do you know, if it isn't finished?"
"It's sort of a San Francisco tradition," says Hikaru. "Or at least it started in San Francisco - it's interplanetary by now, but every November a whole bunch of really crazy people - and I'm including myself in that statement - try to write fifty thousand words."
Pavel stares. "In one month."
"Thirty days," Hikaru confirms.
Pavel keeps staring. "It is not November yet."
"No," Hikaru agrees. "Which is why I'm trying to work out the plot, so that I don't have to do it all from scratch come November first."
"Ah," says Pavel, then, "Can I read it when you're done?"
Everyone knows that Pavel is really not good about keeping secrets, unless he has money riding on it. That's why Hikaru isn't surprised the next day when Scotty approaches him after his shift.
"I hear you're writing a novel," says Scotty. "I tried my hand at a bit of writing myself, on Delta Vega."
"What kind of novel?" asks Hikaru, intrigued despite himself.
"Bit of a romance novel," says Scotty. "Historical, you know. About a dashing Highlander rogue who meets a London lass and - "
"Did you just hear the red alert bell?" says Hikaru. "I think I just heard the red alert bell."
Hikaru can sometimes be a bit of a coward.
Next is McCoy, who apparently now feels the need to initiate small-talk while stitching up Hikaru's latest highly improbable injury (this time, a gash to his face obtained from a fight with a whip-wielding rogue archeologist on Yersinia IV).
"So," says McCoy, "I hear you're thinking of ditching your career as a Starfleet officer to become a writer."
"That's not - " says Hikaru, before being cut off by a particularly painful fluctuation of the dermal mender. "No," he says. "I'm perfectly capable of writing on my own time while still performing my duties."
"That's great," says McCoy. "What are you gonna write about?"
"I was thinking about writing an old-fashioned space opera," admits Hikaru. "You know, the kind they used to have before they actually knew anything about interstellar flight - all two-dimensional tactics in space battles, vacuum tubes as communications, neutron-flow polarities and aliens that all look like humans, that kind of thing. Old-school pulp."
McCoy raises his eyebrows. "For god's sake, man, why? It's not bad enough that we're stuck on a ship with panels that explode every time we hit a gravitational distortion and uniforms straight out of the late 2100s, but now you're going to write about a future that's even worse?"
"Not worse," Hikaru says defensively. "It can be perfectly optimistic! It's just also going to have visible lasers and woefully inaccurate time-space scaling."
"Suit yourself," says McCoy, putting down the dermal mender. "You're all patched up."
On Stardate 2259.304, Hikaru pretty much disappears.
He starts taking his meals back to his room, and apologetically tells Chekov that their lessons are going to have to be put on hold. He shows up for his shifts, of course, but even then Jim finds him doodling plot notes and character designs on his personal PADD when he thinks nobody's looking.
At first, Jim is a little worried - there's been talk amongst the brass of sending counselors out in the field, and he can't help but wonder if this is a sign.
"I don't know," says Jim over a working dinner with Spock one night. "He's usually more - I don't know, personable than this, and it's getting me a little worried."
"Your concern is unnecessary," says Spock. "He's writing a novel."
Jim frowns at him. "He's what?"
"Writing a novel," Spock repeats.
Jim keeps staring. "He's what?"
"Now you're just attempting to be humorous," says Spock pissily - well, as pissily as Spock ever gets.
"Seriously, how the hell did you hear about this before I did?" asks Jim.
"Lieutenant Uhura informed me," says Spock primly.
"Oh, did she now," says Jim, beginning to grin. "And do you and Nyota often spend your pillow-talk discussing fellow members of the crew?"
"Frequently," says Spock.
Jim blinks at him, and Spock just raises an eyebrow at him.
"What, really?" asks Jim.
"No," says Spock. "Nyota said the next time you, and I quote, 'gave me a hard time,' I should simply agree with whatever you were saying. I must admit, it's a strategy I'll have to keep in mind for the future."
"I hate you," says Jim.
"No, you don't," says Spock.
"Maybe not," Jim admits. "At least, not if you tell me what he's writing about."
"I believe he is serializing our adventures on the Enterprise in the style of an early-twenty-first-century pulp novel," says Spock.
"Huh," says Jim. "I wonder if he'll give me a cameo."
"I still don't see how that's a valid excuse to have horrible science!" exclaims Scotty, sounding personally offended. Which is appropriate, because he is personally offended.
"I'm just trying to have some fun," says Hikaru defensively. "Besides, it's just a stupid novel that's never going to be published anyway - I don't see why I have to work through the warp equations on something that's never going to - "
"Are you implying that warp equations aren't fun?" demands Scotty.
"Perhaps we should relocate to the other recreation area," Spock suggests.
"I think you're brilliant," says Nyota.
Uhura is by far the most sociable of the bridge crew; she seems to have this magical ability to get along with everyone, with the exception of the captain. Or at least, she's become friendly with everyone, with the exception of the captain - she and Scotty argue a lot, but they both seem to enjoy it.
So Hikaru isn't particularly surprised when Uhura sits down next to him in the mess hall.
"Writing?" she asks.
Hikaru is indeed – it feels like that's all he's doing these days, but he doesn't know Uhura well enough to actually complain to her about it. "Yeah," he says.
Uhura glances over at his PADD, and does a double-take. "Does that say 'ninjas'?" she asks.
"Uh," says Hikaru guiltily. "No?"
"We took Understanding the Multicultural World together," Uhura reminds him. "You did a fifteen-minute presentation on stereotypes and misrepresentations of the East."
"It was a good presentation," says Hikaru defensively.
"It was," Uhura agrees. "Which is why I'm wondering why you're writing your novel about ninjas."
"It's not about the ninjas," says Hikaru. "I couldn't think of anything else, so I figured...why not? Besides, at least I can make their swordfighting scenes technically accurate."
"You're indulging in horrible cliches," says Uhura.
"It was that or a trebuchet," replies Hikaru. "Or pirates. Or zombies." He pauses, then says, with an air of revelation, "Zombie pirate ninjas with trebutchets! That's exactly what this novel needs!"
"I thought it was a space opera," says Uhura.
"No, it is," says Hikaru, frowning. "So?"
"When's the last time you slept?" asks Uhura.
"I'm getting plenty of sleep," says Hikaru, although what he really means is "I can sleep when I'm dead, or at least when this goddamned novel is done, whichever comes first." "Besides, it's week three. This always happens at week three."
"What? Participants completely lose their minds?" asks Uhura.
"No," says Hikaru. "Writer's block. Week one is easy – it's all setup and honeymoon period. Week two is okay, since you're past the basics and you can start with the plot, or at least the crazy things. But week three, it all just...stops," he explains. "You're not at the big showdown yet, and it's all uphill. Next week should be better – that's when the evil conglomeration of mercenary spacegoers are going to release the nanovirus, and it'll be a lot easier."
Uhura stares at him blankly for a long moment. "Right," she says.
Pavel gets a frantic message on his comm at three in the morning on Stardate 2258.331.
"Pavel," says Hikaru, sounding apologetic. "I have kind of a huge favor to ask of you."
"And you could not ask it at a reasonable hour?" asks Pavel blearily.
"No, it's just – I'm on a roll here, and I think I might be able to finish within the next couple days as long as I don't interrupt it," says Hikaru. "But I'm kind of supposed to be on beta-shift today...and I saw you have the day off..."
"You want me to cover your shift," says Pavel. "A shift you have in four hours."
"I'll cover two of yours," says Hikaru desperately. "Just not when I'm finally past my writer's block."
Pavel looks at the clock again, then at his comm, then sighs. "You owe me," he says.
"Yes!" says Hikaru. "Yes, I really do! I promise I won't kick your ass at fencing for at least a couple weeks, probably, just – thank you so much!"
"Yeah, whatever," mumbles Pavel. "I understand. The novel was invented in Russia, after all."
Hikaru looks vaguely uncertain. "Really? That's nice. Here, you can tell me all about the history of the Russian novel in about two days, how does that sound?"
"Good luck," says Pavel, and Hikaru signs off.
The next time Pavel sees Hikaru, he's asleep in one of the mess halls, his face pressed against the surface of the table, inches away from a PADD.
"Hikaru?" says Pavel gently.
Hikaru says something unintelligible, but sounds an awful lot like "Mrrrphlemph."
"Hikaru," Pavel repeats.
"What," says Hikaru, his voice hoarse. His eyes are still closed.
"You would probably be more comfortable if you were sleeping in your bed instead of the mess hall," says Pavel.
"What?" says Hikaru, opening his eyes. He sits up, rubbing absently at one cheek. "Oh."
"Did you finish?" asks Pavel.
Hikaru grins, and holds up his PADD. There's an icon of a man running with a giant pencil on it, and it says "WINNER!" in big, enthusiastic, capital letters.
"Congratulations!" says Pavel, grinning back. "Does this mean you can start taking your shifts again now? Because I am very tired and would like a day off."
"Yeah – sorry about that," says Hikaru. "But it's done!"
"Can I read it?" asks Pavel, eyes widening with excitement. "The Captain said you were going to put him in it. Is he in it?"
"He's in it," Hikaru confirms. "And you can read it if you want, but it's really not that - "
"Mister Sulu!" Scotty thumps him on the shoulder and sits down next to him. "Did you finish?"
"Yeah, I finished," Hikaru says. "Early, even."
"Excellent!" says Scotty. "When do we get to read it?"
"You know," says Pavel thoughtfully, "maybe next year I will write a novel, too."
"I heard Uhura and Spock are planning to co-write a fifty-thousand-word epic Vulcan poem next year," Scotty adds.
"Next year's going to be insane," says Hikaru.
Pavel grins at him. "But fun."