Star Trek is property of its respective owners. I only own Mal and her team of nogoodnicks.

The world outside Adam's cell was peaceful for the most part. The blonde, smug Max was still sprawled on the couch, watching the holding cells as though they were dual, glowing movie screens instead of a set of small prisons in his living room. Max didn't bother to speak to Adam at all, bored by the Betazoid's arrogance and anger. The telekinetic thug wasn't interested in chatting up an aristocratic skin rash and to be honest, Adam was rather glad that he hadn't drawn any attention from Max. A brief sojourn in the younger man's head had told him that Max was not someone to trifle with lightly. The term 'high functioning sociopath' came to immediate mind.

He could still hear the quiet mental mutterings of the girl in the other cell. The Abomination. Her words weren't meant for him, but either T'Yara didn't care that he was eavesdropping or she didn't realize that he was privy to her one sided conversation with Mallory Pike. It was soothing, listening to her soft murmur, quietly encouraging Mal to hang on, that the dark purgatory she had been banished to wouldn't be permanent. All Mal had to do was be strong and she'd be free again. If he closed his eyes, Adam could almost pretend that T'Yara was speaking to him. Every word was infused with such warmth and love. Dedication. It swelled in the air and Adam basked in the ribbons of positive emotion.

No one ever spoke to him like that and it was easy to get lost in it.

He wasn't even aware that he was being watched until the sound of nails scraping against cement drew his attention and his black eyes fluttered open, startled. The glow of the force field cast a frightening relief over the massive Kzinti that watched him from the other side with predatory yellow eyes.

"Not human." Nu dug his claws into the cement again and ran his tongue over the fangs protruding past his lip. "Nu isn't allowed to eat humans. You're not human." A trill of fear went through the young commander. The giant tiger-like creature had spent the last month on the couch in the corner or out of sight. His sudden interest was not at all welcome and Adam inched away. Those startling feline eyes were borderline intrusive as they raked over him. Nu stared straight into Adam's soul and whatever he saw there made his muzzle curl back in a snarl.

Leave the Commander be, Nu. A soft voice, laced with exhaustion wove its way into the Kzinti's mind, audible to Adam thanks to his own telepathy. T'Yara was lean and tall but still ridiculously small standing beside the beast, perfectly at ease. She had no fear of the giant armored tiger. Quite the opposite. There was a strong bond between the two spies that made them rather resilient partners. Adam could see it, a ripple of protectiveness that twisted between them. It was over bright, the girl's Vulcan depth to her emotion soaking into Adam's empathy.

With both of them staring at him, Adam felt like he was being stripped down to his bones and found utterly lacking. He felt like T'Yara was trying to puzzle him out. Her eyes were as black as his, just as open and brilliant. Not at all closed off like a Vulcan's. Still there was no getting around those pointed ears or the slight green blush to her cheeks. Vulcan and Betazoid, two warring concepts within one body… And he thought that Mallory was a disgraceful combination. This was so much worse.

T'Yara grinned, flashing her teeth in a manner far too similar to Nu's. She was well aware of Adam's disapproval and disgust. It was nothing she hadn't felt before. There was something malicious in her smile as it curled the corners of her lips a bit higher. I wouldn't be so judgmental if I were you, dear. You don't see what I see in that twisted little mind of yours.

Adam bit back a nasty comment and looked away from the youngest of his jailers. Telepaths were nothing new. He grew up on Betazed where everyone was a mind reader. They didn't scare him. He never pretended to be an angel and his flaws were no secret. Whatever she was drudging up in his thoughts, it was of little consequence. It changed nothing.

I wouldn't be so sure about that. T'Yara was an agent of Federation Intelligence and that meant she had had a nasty streak you could navigate a yacht through and a wild attitude that even Mal had never fully reined in. As a rule, FI agents weren't big on rules or proper behavior. Being raised by the miserable and argumentative Tellarites had left a mark on the girl. Trading insults was how she made friends, whenshe bothered with people at all… Her head tipped to the side as she regarded the hateful adult locked in the cage beside her friend.

Adam Price. His story stretched out before her eyes. It was dark and troubled and filled with conflict. Curious, isn't it. How much you hate her but how alike you really are. You might have been one of us. She smiled again, her small, perfect teeth flashing. Had you only confessed to what you did to her, you would have been in the alternate learning center. You would have been the one brought onto our team.

"What makes you think for one second that I would want to be one of you?" Adam hadn't wanted to answer T'Yara, especially not with Nu at her back, a great hulking shadow.

The Kzinti looked down at the top of T'Yara's head and snorted. "Meatsack not last twenty-four hours as an agent."

Still. He has no idea what he did to himself, does he Nu?


Adam glared, obsidian eyes narrowed in annoyance. He was a commander, a prized son of the Fifth House of Betazed. He did not like being disrespected or spoken about as though he weren't right there in the room. "And what did I do to myself?"

A pillow whipped across the room of its own accord and smacked T'Yara in the back of the head. Nu turned and blinked his intense eyes at Max. The telekinetic just waved cheerfully. "How's 'bout a lil less noise, kids?"

T'Yara flipped the blonde bully the bird but nudged Nu back toward his couch. Without any argument the massive stripped warrior cat shuffled off, neurotically tugging at his tail and T'Yara glanced back at Adam.

And winked.

Leo was beginning to wonder if he could really get away with murder. It was a nice thought but he'd only just cleaned the room.

Besides he was too exhausted to explain away a dead body.

The steady tapping of Jocelyn's fingernails against the desk was starting to make his eye twitch. She just sat at his desk, regal as you please, staring at him with a borderline malicious look on her face. There was no warmth in her dark eyes or kindness to the practiced twist of her smile. It was the same old Jocelyn. Manufactured. Insincere. Cold. She made no move to speak or break the silence that stretched between them. She was waiting to make certain that she had his full attention. It had been her intention to make Leo uncomfortable, to make him squirm with her mere presence, but the good doctor seemed more disinterested and inconvenienced than uneasy.

That was new.

It used to be that the mere mention of Jocelyn was enough to turn Leo into a despondent, anxious wreck. The last time he had even been in her company had been in the courtroom where he had behaved like little more than a whipped dog. Now... Now there was a very different Leonard McCoy in front of her. Self-assured, strong, calm. She might have been the same old Jocelyn, but Leo was not the same man that had tried to hide away in a shuttle bathroom all those years ago.

Jocelyn's cold gaze flicked over Leo with cool interest. "Len. You look well. Clearly near death experiences agree with you. You should have them more often."

"Feel free to leave at any time, Joce." Leo looked at the door meaningfully. He had things to do. People to see. Mysteries of the universe to unravel. He didn't have the time or the inclination to have an impromptu chat with evil incarnate.

A cold, tinkling laugh bubbled up from some frozen recess of the tiny woman. "Do yourself a favor, Leonard. Stop trying to be cute. It doesn't suit you."

Maybe she'd get the hint if he actually started banging his head against the wall. Not likely. Best to be as direct as possible and use small words. "You came to talk. So talk. I've got things to do."

"Ooo, things. How enigmatic." Jocelyn's tone was a malicious purr as she leaned forward in her seat. "I assume that means hiding in a medical ward somewhere. Forgive me if I'm not impressed, Len, but your ability to administer a hypo has never really gotten me hot and bothered."

He didn't need her to tell him that. There was a reason most of his family referred to his ex-wife as 'The Ice Queen'. Nothing got the woman hot and bothered unless it cost roughly the same as a small ocean liner. Already bored of matching wits, Leo got to his feet and headed toward the door. The room was beginning to fill with sunlight and soon enough the campus would start to stir. He wanted Jocelyn out before Jim came blundering back into the room, hung over and shooting off at the mouth. He hardly thought that the youngest captain in Starfleet history should get the hell beaten out of him by a civilian woman.

That would just be embarrassing.

Leo was intercepted short of the door, a delicate, graceful hand gripping his arm. Jocelyn had hold of his sleeve and was looking up at him crossly. "Fine," she spat, clearly put out that he wasn't allowing her to toy with him. "I'll just say what I came to say then and leave you to catch up with your pointy-eared friend."

The implication did not go unnoticed and Leo pried Jocelyn's fingers from his sleeve and folded his arms over his chest. Jocelyn grinned, baring her teeth like the proverbial cat that ate the canary as her eyes drifted over the doctor. There was something lecherous in her expression, almost hungry, and Leo's eyebrow arched up skeptically. Whatever this tactic was, it was new and he didn't trust it for a second.

"It crossed my mind that after your little adventure in orbit, Starfleet would be compensating you financially. Considering your ship was the only one in an entire fleet to come back, and you were promoted to a senior officer onboard," Jocelyn paused and looked up at Leo, waiting for him to catch on, "you should have received a rather gracious bump in credits."

Leo blinked, his mind not immediately grasping her words. When the pieces all clicked into place he let out a humorless chuckle. He should have known. "You're here for money." It wasn't a question so much as a realization.

"Why else?" Her dismissive tone would have once been like a kick in the stomach but Leo felt little more than disbelief. Only Jocelyn would see the deaths of hundreds of people as a payday.

"You're sick."

"Oh, Len, you do know how to flatter a woman."


Leo had a great deal to say, none of it friendly or rated PG, but Jocelyn's delicate hand was on his arm again, brushing along the smooth fabric of his scrubs. "Think of your daughter, Len. It isn't easy to raise her all by myself. And it isn't cheap, either. I can make it worth your while. You must have gotten lonely up in space…"

"Because there's a difference between the Primeline and this one, you head case! That's why not!" The door hissed open and Jim spilled into the room with a wild looking blonde on his heels. She was laughing, swatting him over the head like he was a misbehaved puppy. Jim was protecting his face, but grinning ear to ear. "She's your best friend, pretty boy! Your sister! That Vulcan is seriously fucked up. OOF!" Jim put on the breaks when he saw Leo and the little woman pressing seductively against his chest and Kay bounced off his back, grumbling discontentedly and trying to see around him.

"Hey, Bones." Jim's head tipped to the side in befuddlement. He'd been living with Leonard McCoy for three years and he didn't know the man to be the sort to bring girls back to the room? Ever. It was a bit like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs. "Who's your friend?"

"Uh… Who's yours?" Leo only needed the briefest glance at the heavily tattooed, scantily clad girl that peeked out from behind Jim with massive blue eyes. They were locked on Jocelyn with blatant hostility. Leo's ex-wife was returning the look with utter loathing, her stance at his side suddenly possessive. Jocelyn wasn't what one would call intelligent, but she was a social chameleon. She knew when someone didn't like her and the tattooed punk was sending her all sorts of nasty vibes.

As usual Jim was oblivious and he threw an easy arm around Kay's shoulders. "This here is Kay Pike, Bones, and damn has she got a story for us."

Commander Spock sat very still, silently digesting everything Pike had just told him. Unconcerned, the Admiral sipped at his coffee. It had gotten cold while he had retold Mal's story but to Spock's credit, the Vulcan hadn't interrupted him once. Whether or not he believed him, however, or chalked the whole tale up to brain damage was yet unseen.

Face impassive and calm, it was a mask that hid the absolute upheaval going on in Spock's head. His long fingers played over the credential case, smoothing the dark leather and smudging the silver badge within. A secret division of the Federation. A spy shuffled in with the cadets. An admiral's daughter with the access to some of the planets… no the universe's most influential and important people and the ability to manipulate and alter their emotions and intentions. A betazoid/human hybrid… that had called him brother.

It was not probable. There was no logic behind it.

Spock's dark eyes dropped to the badge.

But logic didn't seem to have a place in this story. He was perfectly aware that his mind had been manipulated. He could feel pieces missing, knew that the 'offical report' that Starfleet had released didn't make sense. For a long while he refrained from speaking, letting this new information settle into place.

"This account is illogical, Admiral." Spock found his voice at last but Pike simply smiled at him. A slow, lazy smile that made the empty spaces in Spock's memory scream.

"What is logical, Commander? Time traveling Romulans set on vengeance against you? Twenty-five year old criminals from Iowa that save the universe? A Vulcan with human blood?" That steady smile didn't waver. "The only logical thing about this world Spock is that it defies logic. No matter how hard we want to tie it all up into a tidy little package, it will always surprise us. Mal is simply one of the instruments with which it works."

Mallory… the idea of her was still a bit too much for Spock but he was willing to admit there were things in this universe that denied logic based on principle. He could not understand how he would ally himself with one such person.

"And we were acquaintances?"

"Not at all, commander." Pike shrugged and rested his coffee cup on his knee. "The way I understood it, you were friends."

Spock stared blankly at the older man, his expression utterly void. Friends? With a Betazoid? It was like being friends with a nudist. Spock didn't sense any dishonesty from Pike but it was improbable. Perhaps he should pay his Ambassador counterpart a visit. The Elder Spock always knew more than he let on. He was right about Kirk, after all.

"Where is she?" Spock's tone was bored but his mind was desperately trying to process all of the new information that had just been offered to him. "Where is this daughter of yours that stood with Kirk and I against Nero? What happened to her?"

Pike's expression fell. "What she did, revealing herself for what she was… There are no retired Federation spies, Spock. There are those that are active and those that have outlasted their usefulness. Mal chose Enterprise and its crew over her position in Federation Intelligence."

There was a beat as Spock came to the only likely conclusion and said the very words that Pike was being so careful to avoid. "You believe that she is deceased."

"It is so much worse than that. Dead is an end. A release. An escape. What they've done to her is a petty cruelty."

"And what is it they've done, sir?"

Pike's grin returned with a mischievous edge. "Nothing compared to what she's going to do to them. There's something you'll have to remember about my daughter, Spock, the reason I've never ever had to worry about Mal. She might attract trouble like a magnet but she lands on her feet, Spock. She takes care of herself and her don't ever want to cross her. And you never threaten what she considers hers."

Spock's heartbeat suddenly sped up, thudding uncomfortably below his ribs. "What precisely, Admiral, has been threatened?"

"Only the things that matter most to her," Pike answered, immediately. "Jim Kirk. Leonard McCoy." He smirked. "You."

It was entirely Mal's fault. Normally Kay had the common sense to mentally probe a room before she charged into it but this time she'd been distracted by Jim's playful teasing and had just followed him in blindly. Kay wouldn't have even noticed that something was wrong had Mal's cackling commentary on why 'Mallory Kirk' was a crime against nature come to a sudden halt. Kay's breath froze in her throat along with her voice. It felt like her heart had just been ripped out.

Kay stood rigidly between Jim and Bones, her clear eyes burning a hole into Jocelyn. Mal was in her head practically shrieking every last obscenity she knew. Kay had to grit her teeth and clamp down on her snarling older sister just to keep control. Knock it off. She sent the command into the back of her mind where Mal had just retreated, spitting mad and hurt. Mal knew perfectly well who was standing next to Leo. It didn't matter that they'd never been formally introduced. The prissy skanky pressing up on Leo needed no introduction. Being a super spy for the Federation had its perks, after all. 'Researching' a citizen or two was expected when you were one of the morally grey agents of FI.

"Jocelyn." The name came out sounding more like an insult and Kay practically spat it across the room.

Leo just stared between the two blondes, one prim and proper, the other tattooed and punctured. He had no idea what was going on but he was fairly certain Jim's new friend was having some sort of a stroke. Her pupils were going mad, dilating and retracting wildly. Jim still had an arm slung casually around Kay's shoulder, expression curious. "Ya, know… I'm not even going to ask. No good will come of it."

"You alright, darlin'?" Leo took a step away from Jocelyn, wrapped in ribbons of concern and irritation. Kay just stared, her eyes snapping back to normal. Slowly, her hand moved up to her forehead.A moment ago she'd felt like she had just been kicked in the stomach and then, rather abruptly, she felt nothing at all. The concentrated emotion she'd had to endure since Mal had hitched a ride had vanished and Kay was all alone in her own body. It felt like she'd just been deflated. Empty.

Mal? Kay probed her own thoughts but only silence answered.

Mal was gone.

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