Altered States

by Djinn

It started after the Psi 2000 virus.

Wait. Do I want to say that? Because it's not true. Is that really how I want to start this little confessional?

It started when Roger disappeared.

That sounds better, right? More reasonable? Who wouldn't need a little help through that?

It's not true, though.

It started during University—all the stress. No, not then, earlier, the tension of making perfect grades, of being the flawless daughter of parents who were pillars of the community.

Yes, that's when it started. If I'm honest. See, I don't talk about that part of my life. Don't let on that my parents could have bought my way into any school even if I hadn't had the grades to get there on my own.

I never wanted their help. Tried to do everything myself. Put a lot of pressure on shoulders not very well equipped to handle it.

That's when I started.

Stims to keep going. Sedatives to come down. One of the reasons I went into biochem: I had an interest in the way chemicals affected biology. And I liked the access we had to base materials.

To say I ran my own drug lab would be an exaggeration. I never sold any, never gave any away. I only made enough for myself.

To share would have been to give my secret away.

To cease to be perfect.

What's that? Do I do it still? Oh, hell no. Starfleet keeps a close eye on the base materials.

Starfleet does not, however, keep a close eye on the medicines that routinely get destroyed on this ship every time we have a close call with an irritated alien. Or rather, they don't keep an eye on them once I report them compromised and destroyed—destroyed meaning stashed in my pocket or desk if it's a drug that interests me.

Don't look at me that way. I'm not the only one who does it, you know. Other nurses do it, too. Some of the doctors, as well. You're not any different—you just prefer to drown out the voices in your head with Kentucky bourbon instead of meds.

What? You're a damn lush and you think my using drugs occasionally is a problem?

Oh, my mistake. You're only occasionally a lush. Well, then, if it's not a problem for you, why is it a problem for me, Mister Every Once in a While?

Besides, we're not the only ones with pressure valves that are questionable. Look at the captain, with his women and his risk taking. Do you think other captains routinely lead landing parties the way he does? I've checked the injury reports for the other starships—what? It's open info in the medical database. Kirk is an overachiever, my darling.

Oh, quit looking at me like that. I'm not saying I think less of him. I'm just saying we all find our own ways to cope.

Spock? Why do you always have to bring him up?

Well, he meditates. No, all right, it's ostensibly benign. Build your soul and all that, but really, it's just an escape hatch like all the rest of us. He's checking out, even if it's a more positive way to do it then slamming a hypo in your arm or throwing back a belt of hooch or getting shot up on first contact.

Yes, or nearly getting your manhood cut off by opening relations with the wrong species. Are you ever going to let Kirk live that down? As I remember it, you were pretty interested in their medical officer. Oh, you were, too.

No, I was not jealous. I could give two shits what you do. Okay, well when you do that, I actually do care. Ohhh, yes, that...that certainly is worth being interested in.

Wait, what did you say. Stop that, I can't think when you do that. What did you just say?

You want us to stop...this? Oh, you want us to stop...the coping mechanisms.

Toots, has it occurred to you that a coping mechanism may be all this is?

No, I did not say that just to make you mad and distract you from us quitting. Besides, you without whiskey? Not going to happen.

You're serious?

Why?

You what? You lov—

Oh.

I know I'm supposed to say it back.

No I'm not thinking about Spock. I'm thinking about how you can't tell me to give up something that's gotten me through life since I was fifteen and then tell me you love me.

I don't know if I love you back, okay?

No, I don't think I'd know if I did if I weren't on drugs. I'm not on drugs right now.

Okay, yes, that's a lie. But you've got an empty glass on the nightstand, Mister Pot.

That's ridiculous. You can't make me choose you or them.

You're making me choose you or them?

I did not tell you all this just to have you force me into some idiotic either/or scenario. I told you because I'm sick of hiding the truth from you—and because I thought you could handle it. Because...you're as screwed up as I am.

You are, too. Possibly even more screwed up.

God, why did I even bother?

No, I won't come back to bed.

What? You can't be serious? The CMO does not manage inventory.

Fine. Watch all you want. I can quit anytime. Don't be surprised if that bottle you keep in your office goes missing. Or maybe isn't full of booze anymore.

What? Only you get to play this game?

Watch my step? Watch my goddamn step? You watch my step. Right out of this room.

Oh and Len, you should ask the captain how I got on his ship. It wasn't my fast-talking that did it. Daddy talked to someone who talked to an admiral. Daddy can talk to lots of people. People, say, in Savannah, who hold the note on that house you're barely scraping payments on?

Yeah, you did tell me about that. You were really drunk at the time.

All I'm saying is, you might not want to tick me off too much.

Oh, that did it. Careful, lover, you've had a lot to drink.

Yeah, well I fucking hate you, too.

Mmm, right here? On the floor? What is it with you and the angry sex?

Well, I improvised. I thought you might like the poor little rich girl angle. And you do drink too much.

No, I don't do drugs. Imbecile. It's called role-playing for a reason.

This floor is cold. No, sore knees do not make up for a freezing backside. Let me up.

Much better.

Yes, I really did look up the captain's injury report. Yes, it really is the highest of any starship captain.

Yes, maybe you should.

You're welcome.

FIN