Title: Five shapes Chloe saw in the alien growth on her skin
Author: Shenandoah Risu
Rating:
G
Content Flags: none
Spoilers: first half of Season 2
Characters: Chloe Armstrong
Word Count: 1,500
Summary: Perhaps some day, she thinks, they might be important, when she is no longer Chloe Armstrong, but someone – something else.
Author's Notes: Written for prompt set #137 at the LJ Comm sg1_five_things.
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.

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Five shapes Chloe saw in the alien growth on her skin

A dragon with a crown

When she was ten years old Chloe's dad took her to Dragon Con. Chloe was a big fan of Star Trek, and when her dad found out that William Shatner would be at the con he bought membership tickets, booked flights and a hotel room and the two of them went to get his autograph. Chloe stared at all the fantastic costumes with wide eyes.

"Daddy," she said, clutching the signed picture to her chest, "Can I be an astronaut when I grow up?"

"You can be anything you want to be, sweetheart," her father replied. "If you want it badly enough, you can have anything in the world."

"I want to be an astronaut, and go into space, and meet aliens, and learn from them and teach them about us. I want to be an ambassador in outer space. Like the people on the Enterprise."

"That sounds fantastic," her father said. "Look – they have t-shirts over there. Let's go get some for ourselves."

They got Dragon Con t-shirts, and Chloe loved seeing her dad in a t-shirt and shorts, and not the usual three piece suit. The t-shirts had the dragon logo on them, with the mythical creature spreading its wings.

Chloe traces the outline of the shape on her stomach that looks just like the logo, except the dragon wears a fancy crown and smiles. She sticks her fingertip into its toothy grin. "Nom nom," she says. "William Shatner for lunch wasn't enough? How about a Chloe finger?"

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A giraffe with paisley patterns

Chloe's mother was always heavily involved in charity work, and so she got dragged along to fundraisers and benefit events since she was a baby. Occasionally she ended up with her Aunt Becky, who wasn't really an aunt but a good friend of her mother's, and there were certain people you called aunts and uncles, because they were practically a member of the family anyway. Aunt Becky made stuffed animals from fabric scraps and shipped them all over the world – orphanages in Africa, refugee camps in Asia, disaster areas in South America, hospitals in Europe, shelters for abused children in Canada.

Chloe loved helping Aunt Becky. Afternoons with her were spent in her crafts room, surrounded by piles of fabrics and stuffing material. Chloe's little hands were perfect for stuffing animal heads, since her arms were skinny enough to reach through the opening in the fabric and tuck the fluffy stuff into even the most hard to reach places. Giraffes were especially tricky, Aunt Becky said, and that's why she only made giraffes when Chloe was there to help, so their long slender necks could be done properly.

Chloe looks at the growth on her left shin, and it's just like one of Aunt Becky's giraffes, except instead of the usual plaid or floral pattern it is filled with paisley shapes. And unlike many of the other growths that just get larger every day, the paisleys only seem to get more intricate, patterns within patterns. Oddly enough, it suits the shape, even if the giraffe is a little out of proportion overall.

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A monkey with a camera

When Chloe was in college a research lab at Harvard that used monkeys for experiments finally shut down. Chloe was in attendance as a member of the student government association spearheading the closing of the facility. While all the monkeys seemed to be housed properly the sheer thought of the creatures being experimented upon made her stomach turn, and she fled the building. Sitting on the front steps she watched one monkey after another being loaded into a van for transport to a sanctuary where they would live out their natural lives in peace.

Later on she looked at the pictures of the horrible things done to the animals, and even though they were sedated and probably felt no pain she was horrified about what she felt was a violation of the animals' dignity, the dignity of life itself.

As she looks at herself in the half-blind mirror in her quarters she touches the growth on her right shoulder. To Chloe it looks just like a little monkey perched up there, holding up a camera, taking a picture of her. There are electrodes attached to his little head and chest, and she cries for all the other monkeys that had to be euthanized, since they would have never been able to be rehabilitated. And she knows what those monkeys felt like. She's not sure how much the monkeys understood of what was happening to them, but she does know they felt the pain. And she feels very much like one of them now.

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An elephant greeting a jellyfish

When Chloe was in first grade she took a class trip to the zoo. She loved the elephants – they were so much bigger in real life than they ever looked on TV. She was separated from them by a low concrete wall that reached to her chest, and behind that was a deep moat. She marveled at how the elephants would balance on the edge of the moat, reaching towards the crowds with their trunks, hoping for little treats that people would hand to them.

Chloe laughed and clapped her hands in delight whenever an elephant managed to snatch a peanut from a daring visitor, and she didn't even notice how one of the elephants reached out to her, until the tip of its trunk was right on the wall in front of her. Chloe stared at it and then she stumbled backwards, terrified by the appendage that was far more hairy than she'd imagined. She started to cry and her teacher held her for a while until she calmed down.

There is a shape on her right thigh – close to where the scar of the bullet wound is which she sustained during the invasion of the Lucian Alliance strike force. It looks like that very elephant to her, all four feet close together as if teetering on the edge of a moat, reaching up with its trunk, and there it gently holds a little jellyfish, and the critter is smiling as it shakes tentacles with the big animal. The jellyfish shape never grows, but its smile seems to get a little wider every day. "Now there's a romance straight out of Lifetime Movie Network," Chloe mutters. "Don't forget to shave the trunk, buddy."

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A hand reaching for a cup of coffee

Chloe became a coffee addict in High School. With all her classes and countless after school activities she never got to bed before midnight, and if it wasn't for the strong cup of coffee the household aides made for her every morning she would never even have opened her eyes before 9am. She stumbled into the kitchen, forced down the oatmeal or pop tart or corn flakes, or whatever was thrust into her hands, then gulped down the coffee, warming her hands on the mug. A short while later she became aware of the world and off she went to catch the bus. In the afternoon Chloe experienced the usual 2 o'clock crash and popped into the Starbucks across the street for a large cup of Joe (Cinnamon Dolce Latte, or whatever the daily special was, as long as it had a complicated name).

She's not the only one on the Destiny who misses coffee. TJ used to keep a roster of coffee addicts and carefully monitored them as they went cold turkey on their addiction. "Colonel Young had it easy," TJ had told her, "he was unconscious through most of the detox period. Rush, on the other hand…"

Chloe sighs. She would give anything for a cup of coffee right now. It's been well over a year, and she can't even really remember what real coffee tastes like, but she still knows the feeling of the welcome bitterness, the smooth slide down her throat, the warmth coiling in her belly and spreading heat through her veins. She traces the five fingers – or what she sees as five fingers – of the spindly hand-shaped growth on her chest that reaches towards the wildly decorated mug shape on her left breast. Somehow she imagines it's Rush's hand, since he was the only one who, combined with acute sleep deprivation, exhaustion and nicotine withdrawal, actually collapsed from a lack of coffee.

"You can come get this one, if it helps you", she whispers, her fingertips gliding over the steaming tendrils emerging from the mug.

Few people come to see here these days. But she has half of her life's story growing in silvery-blue shapes on her skin, like tattoos of who she is, and as she remembers the incidents the alien growths on her skin remind her of, she writes them down in her journal.

Perhaps some day, she thinks, they might be important, when she is no longer Chloe Armstrong, but someone – something else.

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