Title: One Little Word
Author: Shenandoah Risu
Content Flags: none
Spoilers: Season 1, up to "Justice"
Prompt: The first time on the Destiny Chloe felt needed
Summary: She's always been a ticket to bigger and better things for other people, a status symbol, a Porsche in the driveway, a diamond necklace, a designer outfit, the red carpet on someone else's runway.
Author's Notes: Written for the Women of the Gate Ficathon and Art Challenge.
Disclaimer: I don't own SGU. I wouldn't know what to do with it. Now, Young... Young I'd know what to do with... ;-)
Thanks for reading! Feedback = Love. ;-)
One Little Word
Her whole life changes with that one little word.
Nobody has ever needed Chloe. Not her as a person, or her skill set, or for what really makes her unique.
Chloe has never before understood the difference between need and want. And she suddenly realizes that up until now people have always wanted something from her, for their own benefit.
All the beautiful young people she used to hang out with – they have never needed her. She has always been one of them, one of the "in" crowd, who have more money than sense and all the privileges their lives afford them. When they tell Chloe they need her it's always a lie: they don't need her, really.
They want her money.
They want her car.
They want her influence.
They want her father's Wall Street connections.
They want to follow her mother's trails through the high society of Washington, D.C.
Even her parents, whom she adores, want only what she represents.
Her mother wants her to combat her own loneliness.
Her father wants her as a product of his own success, proudly displayed at every opportunity, even though he loves her deeply, and she knows there's a difference.
Her boyfriend Josh wants her to attract the attention of the rest of the hot young crowd, and her best friend Celina wants her to get her into the swanky D.C. club scene.
She's always been a ticket to bigger and better things for other people, a status symbol, a Porsche in the driveway, a diamond necklace, a designer outfit, the red carpet on someone else's runway.
And now that all of that has gone away, suddenly she is nothing.
She's not a soldier, she's never touched a gun in her life, never sworn to defend someone, never stood for anything bigger than herself.
She's not a scientist, she's never made a single discovery (beyond the next cute guy, that is), she's no good at taking risks and experimenting (okay, apart from a few ill-advised recreational drug uses that left her hung over and woozy for days) and she has no patience for painstaking record keeping and sifting through data, leaps of logic and the view of the bigger picture.
She's not a leader, she likes to be with like-minded people and those who do everything for her and fulfill her every wish and desire. She's not responsible for anyone else, and the death of her first hamster, whom she forgot to feed, still haunts her.
Chloe is a good student, she's smart, she can think independently and critically, she has a keen sense of justice, of wrong or right. And she's never really had to use any of it. She's never needed her own skills, never even knew she had them.
Chloe has never needed to know herself.
Money, connections and good grades got her into Harvard and through to her graduation. She's never even competed for a job – becoming her father's aide was a no-brainer. He wanted her there with him, and that was that.
She's learned to ignore the jealous looks and mean-spirited comments about being "the Senator's daughter" – it's not her fault she was born into this life, she's never asked for any of it and therefore never questioned it, either.
And suddenly all the needs and wants are gone.
There's only Chloe.
And she doesn't fit in any more. There's nobody else like her – she is the only spoiled brat on board the Destiny.
Chloe is so used to fulfilling other people's wants that at times she feels as if she's suffocating in the emptiness of it all, where nobody needs her.
Except for her father, of course – but even he wants a status report more than her company at his bedside. And then he's gone and after her initial tantrum of grief she sinks into the silence, and the void, and the vacuum of the absence of everything she's ever known.
That's when Colonel Young comes to see her. She doesn't appreciate his concern, his comfort, his honesty. She lashes out with a bratty response, but he's up to it and flings it right back at her, and she realizes that he really does understand, and he feels the same way.
In that moment, she grows up.
She surprises herself by saying that she wants to be the one to bring her mother the news of her husband's death, and when Young nods at her she knows she's done the right thing.
Going home to see her mother she notices the exponential increase of want her departure has created, and for once, there is nothing she can do about it. Her mother's almost childish reaction angers her, and she pities her at the same time; the rift is there now, and there is no going back to the way things used to be.
Back on the Destiny she throws herself into menial tasks – anything to prove to herself and others that there is a need for her, that she can contribute to everyone's survival.
She helps to inventory food and supplies.
She gives Darren Becker a hand in the mess.
She assists TJ in tending to the wounded.
She brings water to the seriously dehydrated members of the first mission to the desert planet.
Her crush on Lieutenant Scott is easily returned when they discover that they have personal tragedies in common. She doesn't have his penchant for self-sacrifice, his sense of duty and service, but deep down she understands it, and a desire awakens in her to feel the same way.
The dreaded specter of need for the wrong reasons raises its ugly head again when Matthew Scott, of all people, says she deserves a place on the rescue shuttle because she's a senator's daughter. She tamps it down quickly – she has learned her place, and she's quietly proud when Matt accepts her assessment of herself without passing judgment.
She tries to keep up with what's going on, and before she knows it she's considered one of the "inner circle", which amazes her, since she has seemingly nothing to contribute. She's just always there, and after some time she realizes that perhaps this is who she is now: someone who is in between, who doesn't fit in anywhere, who has no specific task or function but to whom people come when they need to get away from their group.
She starts a yoga class.
Nobody would have thought that there was a need for such a thing on the Destiny, but the growing number of disciples gives her a sense of purpose - the same way that TJ praises her for helping out in sick bay, or Becker teaches her the secret handshake after she's helped with KP duty.
She drifts along, vaguely content with what she does. It's not what she envisioned her life to be when she wanted to make a difference, but it's a living, and she's once more grateful to still be there.
When Sergeant Spencer is found dead she's disturbed but not unduly alarmed. The discovery of the murder weapon in Colonel Young's quarters stuns her, but she doesn't fully understand the implications until he asks her to come see him.
She doesn't really believe that he did it.
Granted, like everyone else on board he's no angel, he's as many shades of grey as the rest of them. But he has earned her respect from Day One when he shut down the Gate experiment out of concern for everyone's safety, despite her father being there and the pressure of the billion-something dollars that had already been spent on the project.
Young calmly explains the situation to her, and for the first time the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, and she comprehends the magnitude of the tragedy that is unfolding. So when he asks her to be his legal counsel she balks and tries to run, the way she's always done in the face of unexpected situations. But he turns her own logic back on her and suddenly she realizes what's going on. He has asked her for "a favor", as he calls it, but in fact it is so much more than that.
She is needed.
Not to get Young ahead, not to secure him in a better situation, not to have an easy ride.
Her skills are needed, her training, her insight, her brains, her knowledge of justice, her passion and desire to fight for due process. She is needed for who she is, for what she's worked for, for what she's dreamed of, for her mind, her fledgling sense of duty and service, such a small seedling in her life, and suddenly a mighty tree grows there and gives her strength. Whether or not he's guilty, she has to make sure that the evidentiary hearing is fair and conducted properly. Unlike Camile Wray, the de facto prosecutor, Chloe has nothing at stake in the matter.
She understands why she's needed, why she's the right choice.
"Please," Young says.
And her whole life changes with that one little word.