Mirror

By Eireann

Rating: R

Genres: dark

Keywords: Mirror Universe

This story has been read by 645 people.
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Warning: Character death

Disclaimer: Star Trek (plus all its intellectual property) is owned by Paramount.  No infringement intended. 

Summary: In the Mirror Universe, T'Pol is in the brig awaiting her fate after the rebellion fails.

Author's Note:  Many thanks as always to Distracted for being a great beta reader.

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The sudden appearance of the chief engineer in the outer chamber of the brig took T'Pol by surprise.

So did his grin.  It was something quite different from the usual bitter leer that twisted his mouth.  His whole demeanor radiated something she'd never seen in him before.

Triumph.

She shrank distrustfully into the back of the cell.  Good news for a human rarely meant anything other than bad news for a Vulcan - or for any other species, for that matter.  And this human had more than enough reasons to want revenge on her.  She'd foolishly admitted to him that she'd taken advantage of his hunger for her in order to take control of his mind and force him to sabotage the ship, a feat that had cost him four hours in the agony booth with his black-clad nemesis Major Reed gloating at the controls and Captain Archer's spat-out parting order 'Break him!' for a possible epitaph.

He was hardly going to forgive her for suffering like that.  On the contrary, he'd promised to have his revenge.

Her own punishment at Reed's hands had been relatively light by comparison, though it was bad enough.  A slave learned early to detach the mind from events that the body endured.  As a Vulcan she was particularly adept at this.  Which had been just as well, since the entertainment of testing all the possible variations of the agony booth on his screaming victim until he finally passed out had left the major in a state of intense, almost even euphoric, excitement.  His 'preliminary interrogation' of her had been prolonged and considerably more pleasurable for him than it had been for her.  Of course, that was usually the case with Reed.

And the rebellion had failed.  Archer had won.  And although she'd won the bitter little cat-fight with his whore, the MACO accompanying Sato had recovered in time to shoot her in the back as she tried to make her escape.  It might or might not be a good thing for her that his weapon had been set on stun.  On reflection, it was probably a bad thing.  There were slower and far worse ways to die than of an energy blast in the spine.  The controls of the agony booth were ample testament to that.

She'd had hours in which to contemplate them all.

Quite possibly that was what Tucker had in mind now.  If he was here, alone, he'd survived and wriggled his way back to freedom and the capacity to exact the revenge he'd promised her.  Poetic justice, so to speak.  In which case, his look of triumph was entirely understandable.  Four hours in the Agony Booth was a long time.  Doubtless he would want her to find out just how interminable they could feel.

She thought of mentioning the fact that she had already sustained minor injuries during the interrogation in Major Reed's quarters, but it hardly seemed relevant.  And her Vulcan pride had never let her even seem to beg for mercy; she wasn't about to start now.

"Had enough of the accommodation?" His drawl mocked her.

"I've been in worse."  The brig might be small and basic, but at least she was alone in it.  For the present.  That said, she would be alone in the Booth.  Except for the pain, of course, which she'd heard survivors mention turned into something with an existence all of its own.

"Then I guess you won't care that I've got permission to spring ya."  She would hardly have believed it physically possible, but his grin actually widened.

Hope was an emotion.  So was incredulity.  Both of them seized her in an extremely un-Vulcan manner, and she fought them down.  "I'm to be released?" she said breathlessly, before she could stop herself.  It was a trick.  A trap.  One or the other.  It had to be.

"Into my custody."  He crossed his arms and winked at her ironically.  "Courtesy of the new Empress.  On condition I keep ya out of trouble, of course."

She blinked at him.  Empress?  Her mind spun through the possible candidates.  Hess - didn't have the support.  Cole - didn't have the brains.  One or two other names, all discarded for one reason or another.

Sato.

Archer.  Dead.  Reed.  Probably dead.  Mayweather?  Dead or turned.  He could be useful.

Tucker.  Not dead.  Potentially very useful indeed.  And that potential usefulness would give him bargaining power.  He'd never been one of Archer's whipped curs; the whole ship knew he served no one, cared for nothing except survival.  And perhaps a little, in spite of himself, for the engines whose radiation was killing him.  At least, he'd cared for nothing until now.

She looked at him carefully.  "Do I have a choice?"  A foolish question.  There was always a choice.

He shrugged.  "I guess there's always the airlock."  He pressed the code.  The reinforced glass door hissed open.  "And just so's you know the score, as far as Her Empress-ship's concerned, the two of us are your only choices."  His gaze as he said the last sentence was hard and flat.  She had no doubt that he meant precisely what he said.  His interest in her was the only hold she had on survival.  What that interest would involve she could only guess, though some of the guesses were pretty obvious.

She stepped out of her cage with infinite caution, watching him intently.  More than half of her was still watching for the grab, the strike.  He'd never been violent or brutal to her in any way during any of their encounters; he was, in fact, easily the most considerate lover she'd ever had, always at least as interested in her pleasure as in his own.  During the interminable hours of her pon farr he'd proved both resilient and inventive.  But only a truly remarkable human could put aside the grudges he must be harboring against her, could look at her behavior and understand that she'd done what she had in order to survive. 

Was Trip Tucker that remarkable?  He'd shown little enough sign of it in their interactions up till now.  But then, he'd had the psychotic Archer on his back, breathing threats and allowing the leash to slip on that mad sehlat of a major, always slavering to get his teeth into someone.  Not circumstances guaranteed to show anyone at their best.  Could the removal of those threats possibly effect a change this great in this superbly talented engineer with his ruined face and bitter history, who'd lived this long only because he gave his loyalty to no one but himself?

Slowly, with wary reluctance, she lowered her mental shields.  It was still there.  The link that had come into being during the pon farr which had enabled her to make him her tool against Archer.  She felt the chaos in his mind: the anger, the fear, the lust, the suspicion, the calculation, the almost overwhelming urge to exact revenge.  See how you like it, lady!  But almost against his will, there was something else there too, that hadn't been before; he was as wary and reluctant as she was herself, but that 'something' was reaching out to an emotion whose existence he had never allowed himself to suspect - hope.  Touching it with aching care, in case it crumbled in his fingers and left his existence even more desolate for its passing.

Hope ... in her?

In a slave?  For that's what Vulcans were, as far as humans were concerned.

In a piece of 'Vulcan ass'?  That was one of the prettier names that Major Reed had whispered in her ear.  It wasn't as though she hadn't heard it before, but his low voice had made it particularly loathsome.  As he'd known and intended it would.

"You endangered yourself by interceding for me."  Certainly Empress Sato would have no particular affection for her.  The bruises would probably still be painful.  The taunts she'd hurled had been meant to wound.  And Hoshi wasn't known for her forgiving nature.

He smirked.  "Her Empress-ship wants me to put everything into the Defiant.  I just named my price."

Still slavery, then.  Just a change of owner.  She thought with a surge of illogical longing of the universe of which she'd read in that intriguing database from the Defiant.  On the other Enterprise, Commanders Tucker and T'Pol had been equals, proud to serve, loyal and supportive of one another and the ship.  What would it be like to live in such a way?  She could hardly imagine it, but she could still dream.  That dream had fanned the smoldering resentment of her subservient and despised state, and propelled her headlong into rebellion.  If she couldn't have affection (love was something she'd never looked for), at least she could try for self-respect.

Instantly, puzzlingly, his expression changed.  He looked almost awkward.  "No.  Nothin' to do with ownin' you.  That's not what I - hell, I'm no good at this sorta thing."  He sighed and then frowned.  "How did I know what you were thinkin'?"

She hesitated, weighing her words.  Lying came as naturally to her as breathing when she was interacting with humans, but instinct told her to give him the truth.  "I believe that we have established some kind of mental bond," she said reluctantly.  This could have disastrous consequences: it could shatter the infinitely fragile accord that was, astonishingly, building between them.

He'd noticed her hesitation, of course.  He expected her to lie.  The truth surprised him.  "A bond.  Some kinda Vulcan thing?"  She felt his suspicion.  Her ability to get into his mind and take control of him had already cost him a great deal of suffering.  Nevertheless, that ability had, to some extent, been compromised by her revealing it.  He would be on guard against her now, and for all that he was no MACO she had no doubt that he was quite adept at self-defense when he perceived the threat.  He was more than a little indignant at the thought of being 'bonded' without his knowledge, unsurprisingly wary of what this might involve, but also - more than a little intrigued.  And a little aware of all kinds of interesting possibilities.  His tongue went tellingly into his cheek.

"Yes."

"Hmm."  He gave her a long, searching look, and then pressed the button to open the outer door.  "Feel like explainin' it to me over lunch?"

She hesitated.  It all seemed far too good to be true.  "Is the captain - Captain Archer - dead?"

"Yeah.  And good riddance."  His face darkened.

"And Major Reed?"

"Caught in an explosion.  Badly injured.  In sickbay, with Phlox lookin' after him with his usual tender care."  He laughed shortly.  "Those two deserve each other."

"But he will survive?" she pressed as they walked down the corridor.

Tucker shrugged.  "I guess so.  Unless Her Empress-ship decides otherwise.  Not my business any more.  She can look after him."  His tone hoped that Empress Sato's care for her ex-lover and ex-rival wouldn't be particularly gentle.  He was probably justified in that hope, but nevertheless...

T'Pol retreated behind her mental defenses again and thought her own thoughts.  A sehlat with a broken back can still kill.

****

Sickbay was silent.

The running lights were low.  Officially it was only a couple of hours past midnight, and anyone not on duty would be sleeping.

Phlox might be asleep or he might not.  No sound came from his quarters, anyway.  The Denobulan had an acute sense of when it paid to be deaf.

Only one bio-bed was occupied.

She stepped over to it silently.

She'd expected him to be unconscious, sedated out of his pain.  He wasn't.  The grey eyes were watching her steadily, almost as though he'd been waiting for her. 

The IV line snaked out of his left arm.  He had no right arm.  It must have been removed at the shoulder; saving it would have been a waste of time and effort, given his future prospects.  His right leg was also missing below the knee.  The bulk of bandaging under the sheet told the tale of extensive internal injuries.  The left side of his face was slick with ointment over the burned pink flesh.

A sehlat with a broken back can still kill.

His left hand moved gently on top of the sheet, deliberately displaying its dexterity.    None of the fingers was broken or even damaged.  Give him a phase pistol and he could still out-shoot every man on the ship.  And would, without a moment's hesitation.

The thought of some of the things she'd read in the Defiant's database came back to her.  In that other universe, populated by fools and dreamers, he'd been a good man.

His bright unblinking gaze held hers.  She tried to read it, but it withheld its secrets.  He would give her nothing. 

He was neither a fool nor a dreamer.

She bent over him and kissed him lightly on the lips.  It masked the movement of her hand into the angle of his neck, though she knew that he understood exactly what she was doing and why.  His mouth was surprisingly responsive.  For an instant she could even have believed that she felt it quirk into a tiny smile.

When she straightened again he was unconscious.

His right thigh had been propped up on pillows.  She removed one of them gently, careful not to jar the site of the amputation. 

His chances of survival had been quoted as fifty-fifty when she'd spoken to Phlox in the mess.  For a man with his determined and savage grip on life, she would never know which he would have chosen if he'd had the chance.  Perhaps it was significant that he hardly struggled at all when she covered his face with the pillow.  Even a monster must have some concept of the quality of life.

She stepped back, watching the readings on the bio-scanner settling to the base line.

"Perhaps it's for the best," Phlox's dark voice said from behind her.  He didn't say whose best.  Perhaps that was beyond him, too.

She knew he would say nothing.  Silence would be his best protection, whichever way events fell out hereafter.  It would cause little surprise, after all, that the major had succumbed to his injuries, the last sacrifice to the passing of the old order.

She did not know how Tucker would feel about what she had done.  Given the nature of their bond, he would probably know or guess.  He was extremely unlikely to shed any tears for his old enemy's demise, but humans could be illogically squeamish about the means; that was what came of never having been one of a conquered and despised sub-human species.  But at any rate, the hope that had such value for him could put down firmer roots in a world in which Major Malcolm Reed no longer lived and breathed.   Perhaps Reed's parting smile had acknowledged the inevitability of fate.

Tucker was asleep in his quarters.  Soon he would wake and miss her.  He would be warm, and his warmth would banish the faint chill of what she had done.  "Goodnight, Doctor."

Phlox inclined his head, and watched her vanish into the dim corridors.

 

The End.

 


Comments:

Lt. Zoe Jebkanto
Asso

Mh... a cage, eh? I mean, T'Pol locked in into a cage, uh?
Well, honestly this reminds me of something. Sure. Add to the word "cage" the words "of horror" and the play is done.:p
Oh yes, I feel that the correspondence between the two of us is higly growing up.:D
Good, good.
(Hey, I mean also your story, be sure!;)) 

Transwarp

Dark, indeed.  But still, the fact that Tucker forbears revenge leaves room for the tiniest, barest glimmer of hope.

Cogito

I'm entranced by your vision of Trip and T'Pol each certain that the other can't be trusted, and yet inexplicably drawn to trust them anyway.

I'm not surprised that T'Pol decided to get rid of a dangerous enemy while he was vulnerable, before he had a chance to recover and seek his revenge against her or her ... against her and Trip. God knows Mu'Reed had it coming. I'm somewhat surprised that T'Pol did it in such a gentle way, and I still can't figure out what was going through her mind when she decided to kiss him. But the main thing that surprises me is this: given all the enemies he has made over the years, isn't it surprising that nobody else got there first?:)

Most of all, I'm pleased to see that, after getting that unpleasant job out of the way, T'Pol is looking forward to going back to Trip for comfort and reassurance. :D

 

Alelou

Dark, dark, dark!  It's very effective, especially the scene with Malcolm, but I'm truly surprised that Tucker and Sato are willing to give T'Pol that much freedom. She's a sehlat without a broken back.

One arguably hangs out in the mirror universe to enjoy things being a little (or a lot) twisted, though, and this definitely fits the bill.

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