Characters: Sarina Douglas
Timeline/Spoilers: post 7.05 - Chrysalis
A/N: I was capping the episode and the fic idea hit me. Only it was supposed to be Sarina/Boomer (BSG). Oh well.
Beta: Conser on here
Feedback: is a must!
Disclaimer: Not mine. I play with other people's toys.

"Congratulations, Sarina! This paper-it's amazing! I wouldn't be surprised if it got you nominated for the Carrington Award." Dr. Gusba beams at her. Sarina smiles thinly and half bows in acknowledgment.

"Thank you." She doesn't bother to deny the brilliance her work. She knows it's amazing. More then that, she knows it'll be revolutionary. Feigning modesty will only encourage praise, and that's the last thing she wants.

"Sarina, I should be thanking you. Your work... you've brought more attention to what we do here then I ever could have dreamed of." Before Sarina knows it, she's pulled into a tight hug. "You're incredible!" Dr. Gusba gushes. "I'm so proud of you."

Walking back to her quarters, Sarina thinks about the debates Jack used to watch. She remembers how he used to get so excited whenever the subject of genetic engineering arose, how he would start to yell about them being better then regular people, how they could help the universe so much if they'd just be allowed to leave the institute. She also remembers the arguments that countered his own. When does a mutant stop being a 'human'? When do the changes made start to affect the subject? Where does the person they were become lost to the new programming being forced into their DNA? Some argue that nothing short of a memory-wipe can change the person that was, others say it's as soon as the first enhancement is made, that changes at that level echo through the person. But no one knows. No one can know. Not even the subjects.

She does know she'd never have written the paper if her parents hadn't decided to have her brain altered. But she also knows that a thousand other factors were involved. Sarina's read everything on the subject of nature vs. nurture, as well as case studies like William Riker, where a transporter incident had created two of him and they're now two very different people. She's used that justification with herself every time she excels at something. She tells herself it's no different then if her parents had pressured her to choose one profession over another.

Deep in her heart, though, she knows it cannot be true. She may not have been like Julian, developmentally disabled and written off at age three, but she knows she's not the same person she would have been if her mother had been content with a 'normal' daughter. She remembers her life before, and how happy she always was. She used to love to sing and dance, and she made friends with everyone she met. She was always moving around, excited about something and never worried about what was round the corner. The only thing she disliked was school and that was only because she had to sit still for most of seven hours of the day. Now, she only speaks when spoken to and even after a year of living life as a normal person, she's still half expecting someone to break down in tears or throw a chair when they don't get their way. Some of that, she knows, is from years of living at the Institute, with Jack, Lauren and Patrick. Years of living trapped inside her own mind as Lauren used her as a life-sized doll and Jack took her silence as affirmation of all his theories. But it's also because her parents requested she be more 'logical' than other children. They wanted her to be more like them, serious and calm, adult. So that was added to the list, along with about a dozen other things that were to be changed. And presto, she was a new girl. Granted, a new girl who was so smart her body couldn't process commands from her mind fast enough, but at least she was quiet. Mature.

Boiled down to its basic elements though, there's no way to tell which of the eighteen psychological and thirty-four physical "enhancements" changed the person she was before the doctors got their hands on her. She has no idea what she would be doing right now if her parents had allowed her to develop naturally. If she'd be a linguist, a diplomat, a dancer or a doctor. Maybe she'd be a mother of three and have a husband who loved her for who she was, instead of being alone on a research station, an outcast in every way because of something that was done to her over a decade ago against her will.

When she enters her room, Sarina wonders if it was her or her genetic conditioning that made her choose those curtains for her room or this dress this morning. If it was her core personality that decided that she really hates root beer and loves the colour blue. If it was her resequenced DNA that made her write that paper. She doesn't know anymore. Is she her genetic conditioning? What is her true nature? The nature of humanity's interactions with its inventions?

Sarina smiles darkly. It's somewhat amusing, that she is the only thing she's encountered she doesn't understand. Like her emotions regarding Julian, how he had said he'd cared about her. She remembers feeling sick in the pit of her stomach, but she doesn't know if that's because he's not her 'type' or some Pavlovian response she was programmed with to keep her mind on more productive things then sex.

She doubts that a normal girl have ended up at the Corgal Research Center, though. She knows that as a normal child, she'd never have been capable of the work she's doing now. She's surpassed even the lifelong experts of this field she's only been doing their work for thirteen months. Everything she's obtained, it hasn't really belonged to her. It's owed to her programming. Ellen, Dr. Gusba's wife, can never understand why Sarina doesn't seem to take pride in any of her accomplishments, but she can't. It isn't even her. The doctors who designed her deserve credit. To pretend otherwise would be like claiming a holodeck deserves credit for the program it runs.

Everything about her is a fraud. When Julian heard of her success in curing Davislorn's disease, he told her how far it would go for the quadrant's perception of the genetically enhanced and what a credit she was. But it wasn't her. Nothing she does is really her.

Sarina pauses in front of her vanity and can't bring herself to feel interested in the person staring back. Even her face isn't really hers. Her eyes used to be brown and she thinks she remembers freckles.

Preparing for bed, she takes one last moment to wonder if it's her enhancements that keep her from ending her life, or if she actually cares enough to live. Suicide is giving up, it's weak and pathetic and she's supposed to be better. Sarina was programmed to be able to do anything.

So she keeps going, because that's what she's supposed to do.