In the Wrong Light
Summary: He wishes he had just stayed dead.
Characters: Lorca, Mirror Cornwell, Mirror Saru
Codes: Lorca/Mirror Cornwell, implied Lorca/Cornwell
Disclaimer: Paramount/CBS own the rights to the Star Trek universe and its characters, which I am borrowing without permission or intent to profit.
Notes: Prompted by @rikerssexblouse in the tumblr meme send me a ship + a number and I'll write you a kiss. She asked for Cornwell/Lorca + 45, a kiss out of anger.
Warning: Some violence, referenced torture and implied rape/non-con.
On balance he thinks he prefers solitary confinement, if it’s possible to prefer one kind of torture to another. At least in this dank cell, naked and starving and slowly going out of his mind, he’s alone. Even the agoniser is preferable to the days and nights he spends with her.
He can’t think of her as Kat. He won’t. The two are nothing alike. And now that he’s been the Emperor’s guest for he doesn’t even know how long, they don’t even look alike to him anymore.
Lorca shifts on the uneven flagstones. Blood has pooled beneath his head, a legacy of his smart mouth and the butt of a soldier’s phaser rifle. It’s dried now: his only clue to the passage of time.
Light sears his eyes through the peephole in his cell door, and Lorca flinches from it, intolerant after so long spent in the dark. They’ve even taken that from him, these night-dwellers with their weak eyes and their twisted souls. If he stays here long enough he will become just like them.
Or so he fears.
The Kelpien slips through the cell doorway and places a tray on the damp stone floor. “Are you all right?” he mutters.
Lorca knows better than to turn in the Kelpien’s direction. The last time a subject of the Empire was accused of aiding the captive, she was executed as a collaborator and her remains tossed into his cell. He’d lived with her decomposing corpse for days, until the Emperor sent for him again.
He shudders, shying away from the memory. The cell is bad, the agoniser almost unbearable, but the Emperor’s bedchamber –
“Captain?” whispers the Kelpien, lingering too long.
“I’m fine, Saru,” Lorca murmurs, trying not to move his lips. “Go.”
Saru dips his head and exits quickly, leaving Lorca alone again.
Alone, except for the cameras he can’t see, but which must be planted throughout the small stone room. How else could she always know the singular ways in which he suffers in here? The pain that keeps him curled up and hardly daring to breathe? Or worse, the things he shouts aloud sometimes, when his grip on reality is most tenuous?
And what did he do to deserve this reality, anyway? This perverted world with its ugly twisted versions of the people he once knew and loved?
Not for the first or tenth or hundredth time, he wishes he had just stayed dead.
He eats the food Saru brought him – secreting half of it under a loose stone, because he’s learned not to count on regular meals – and falls into a fitful doze. His dreams are of golden light and fresh sheets and laughter, and are all the more wrenching for it.
When he wakes the pain in his head has abated somewhat. The medic comes to attend him, a silent Vulcan woman whose age he can only guess at. Her presence is not comforting. He knows the routine by now: first he is treated, then fed and bathed, and finally he is brought before the Emperor.
“Gabriel,” she purrs when he is dragged, scrubbed and dressed in Terran finery, to her chambers. “I’ve had a little victory today and I thought I’d share the good news with you.”
He knows what’s expected of him. “I’m at your service, Emperor,” he mumbles dutifully.
“Yes, you are, aren’t you?” She uncoils herself from the settee at the foot of her bed and walks closer. She has removed her cloak and sword, but she still wears the rest of her armour. Her boots are stained with blood.
As tempting as it is to lash out, grab her by the throat, snap her neck, he keeps his eyes cast downward and his hands clasped behind his back. He’s learned the hard way that her guards may retreat to the shadows, but they never leave her alone.
“Your counterpart was at my service, too,” the Emperor muses. She stands directly in front of him. “Pity he betrayed me.”
He reminds himself not to tense up: she likes to toy with her prey before she makes the kill. So to speak.
“Gabriel never did choose the right side.” The Emperor places her forefinger under his chin and tips it upright, forcing him to meet her eyes. “I hope you’re smarter than he was.”
Lorca says nothing. The Emperor makes a sound of impatience and presents him with her back. His fingers are trembling as he begins to unbuckle her breastplate.
“I discovered the last of his rebel faction,” the Emperor informs him over her shoulder. Her voice is creamy with satisfaction. “Most of them are dead, but I brought a few home with me. They’ll keep me occupied during those times when you need to …” she turns to face him as he lifts the heavy armour away, “recover from serving me.”
He tells himself that whatever fate the other Lorca’s allies will suffer, he has no room for sympathy. He can’t help them. And every day he survives here is chipping away at his humanity.
His fingers slow in the act of reaching to remove her cuffs and the Emperor cocks an eyebrow at him.
“Are you smart enough to survive in this universe, Gabriel Lorca of the Federation?” she husks. “Will you serve me faithfully?”
“I’d rather be dead,” he answers without thinking, his eyes meeting hers.
The self-satisfaction vanishes from her expression. Her hand whips up to his chin, gripping it painfully.
“I have no intention of killing you,” the Emperor says, her voice like a striking snake. “But I can make your existence more miserable than you can possibly imagine. Now take your medicine, Gabriel. There’s a good boy.”
She pulls a vial from inside her tunic and releases him to uncork it. Lorca can’t help dry-swallowing. The after-effects of the serum are almost worse than the acts he can’t stop himself from performing while in its grip.
“Please,” he can’t stop himself from begging, “I don’t need it. I promise I won’t disappoint you.”
“You already have,” the Emperor replies. She pats his cheek almost fondly as she presses the vial to his cracked, dry lips. “Drink.”
Lorca’s eyes dart around the room, but there’s no escape. There never is.
In the end, she always wins.
The drug hits his bloodstream in moments, and he’s instantly burning, itching, crawling out of his skin. Sweat dots his forehead. His fingers curl and his breath comes in ragged bursts. He’s harder than seems humanly possible, and he knows that’s just the way she wants him.
He stares at her: the Emperor, his tormentor. A dimple appears in her cheek, and for a moment he sees Katrina in her. It brings a pang to his chest.
But she’s not Katrina. She never will be, and he’s never going to see his Kat again.
His palm circles her throat and her eyes flash anticipation. Then he bends and kisses her with every ounce of hate and fury that’s in him.
Her lips are bitten and bleeding when he pulls away, and the sight of her blood excites him. He grasps at the ties on her tunic, yanking and ripping until it hangs loose from her shoulders, framing skin he thinks has no right to be so creamy and pure.
He wants to hurt her and mark her skin, the way she wants him to.
He wants to hold her tenderly and kiss her soft places.
Lorca raises his hand and brushes the back of his knuckles gently over her cheek. His eyes close. In his mind she yields to him, her hands weaving into his hair as he kisses her sweetly, softly. He runs his fingers the length of her spine and feels her shiver and smile the way she always used to. There’s dampness on his cheeks, tears leaking from under his eyelids, but it’s okay. She’s here with him, and everything is all right …
A vicious kick buckles the side of his knee and he drops to the floor, the Emperor’s fingers twisted cruelly in his hair.
“This is how you please me?” she hisses, and strikes him across the face with the back of her hand. Lorca reels. Blows follow in quick succession – hands, knees, elbows – and he bows his head and takes it, not trying to defend himself. If he’s lucky she’ll be angry enough to kill him right here and now.
But she stops, breathing heavily, and wipes a hand across her mouth as he kneels there bleeding.
“You’re worse than he was,” the Emperor says finally, and in her voice is a tiredness he’s never heard before. As though even she has grown weary of this universe.
He hears her bark an order to her guards, and uncaring hands grip his upper arms and half-carry, half-drag him away, back to his familiar prison cell. They toss him inside and bar the door.
Lorca lies where they’ve thrown him, shaking and feverish from the drug, his bloodied cheek pressed to cold stone, and wonders why the Emperor didn’t kill him.
He thinks about the choice he was given in that strange place between death and the afterlife, and how he chose to live again. Because of Kat. Because he hoped.
There’s not even a whisper of hope left in him now, and all he wishes for is death.
Note: Someday, maybe, there’ll be a happy ending. Or not.