A/N: Set before "Into Darkness" and will carry on into the movie. Eventually, it will be Khan/OC.
I am by no means an expert on Star Trek, so while I will try to use correct terms and whatnot, a few mistakes may be made. Feel free to inform me of such mistakes and I will do my best to correct them.
Summary: Dr. Alice Walsh was a rising psychologist within Starfleet with controversial methods until one mistake leaves her career nearly destroyed. But then she is ordered by Admiral Marcus to take on the most challenging assignment of her career – evaluating and, if possible, rehabilitating the recently awoken Khan. If she does as ordered, her career in Starfleet will advance, if not she will be left picking up the pieces as threatened by Marcus.
As the terrible reality of the sinister truth beneath her orders becomes increasingly clear, Alice and Khan grow ever closer to the point where the psychologist's loyalties begin to shift, as does the mindset of Earth's greatest tyrant. In the chaos that is to come, both Khan and Alice will have choices to make that will forever impact not only themselves, but all of Starfleet.
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek.
It was after three-in-the-morning by the time Dr. Alice Walsh arrived at the Kelvin Archives in London, and the young doctor covered her mouth as she yawned, wishing she were sound asleep in bed back home in San Francisco or drowning her sorrows in a glass of exotic wine that would knock her as a human on her ass.
Her career as a psychologist in Starfleet was essentially over because of a fatal mistake she made with one of her patients not six days ago.
Outside of work she could be the most compassionate, friendly woman one could hope to be around, but she had a very different demeanor with her patients. Often called cold and heartless, she approached her patients in a chilly manner, quick to inform them that she had a job to do and she would see it done whether they wished to speak or not. More often than not, her patients were officers in Starfleet who suffered some loss or PTSD due to some mission gone wrong, or from some other significant trauma, and many detested being coddled or pitied, so she went in the opposite direction and challenged them, poked at their wounds, and effectively pissed them off. And it worked for her. Eventually she would hit a nerve and the floodgates would open and the officer would spill their guts, their sorrows, and their problems before her, most often in a fit of tears, a scream, or with a choked voice. Only then would she become the compassionate woman she generally was, because at that point she had their trust and confidence and all that was bottled up had spilled forth until there were no more secrets.
Many officers admitted that they first thought she was a cold-hearted bitch who didn't give a damn, but at some point they would realize that she did in fact care and they were thankful that she didn't beat around the bush with them, that she was brutally honest with them. When many pitied them or tread carefully before them, she did not, and they appreciated that about her.
Only once had her tactic failed her, and that one failure ended with the young man committing suicide in her very office.
Alice was always so careful in judging her patients so as not to push too hard, but she'd completely misjudged the young, quiet officer and was too aggressive, too demanding. As a result, she inadvertently pushed him past the point of no return and in some twisted form of "fuck you" or "this is your fault" he turned his phaser that was set to kill on himself in front of her at the end of their session.
Never before had she felt such guilt. Had she not misjudged the true pain he was feeling she would have been able to help him or would have had the good sense to direct him to another doctor more equipped for his suicidal situation. But she hadn't, and her patient died. Now it appeared that her career would follow him to death as well.
A hearing was held after the incident and the blame was put solely on her for her aggressive handling of her patient, never mind the many times her methods helped, and they were very clear that she should expect to be looking for a new career because Starfleet did not want such a woman with controversial methods linked to them.
One mistake had led to a fatal accident and now she had the blood of a young officer with so much potential on her hands.
Her career was surely over, or so she'd assumed until she was briskly ordered by Admiral Marcus to report to London's archives for a new assignment.
She'd expressed her shock and confusion and asked what exactly the urgent assignment was, but the Admiral would give her no details, only stated that a shuttle was already waiting to transport her to London.
Being kept in the dark was not something she enjoyed, but with her career on the line she didn't push for answers and hightailed it to London with only two bags.
A car had been waiting to take her to the archives the moment she arrived in the hanger, and thus she was forced to approach the Admiral with her bags in hand, wishing that she'd been able to find a nice hotel to drop them off at.
"Commander Walsh," greeted the Admiral when she reached him outside the archives with his First Officer, holding in his hand two PADDs.
"Admiral," she replied in turn, shifting her bags in her hands.
Noticing, he turned to his First officer. "Doyle, relieve the Commander of her luggage, will you?" he instructed, and the man silently complied, taking her bags from her. To her, he apologized, "I'm sorry for bringing you here on such short notice, Dr. Walsh, but I'm afraid time is something I don't have the luxury of wasting. If you'll follow me."
"I'd be lying, Sir, if I said that I wasn't confused about all of this," she admitted, walking through the scanner after he and his officer did. Noticing the amount of security and the high-security scanner, she asked, "A little much for an archive, I would think."
Marcus didn't answer. Instead he led her to an elevator, and only after he punched in a long numeral code did it take them downward.
"This isn't an archive, Dr. Walsh," he confessed once they began their decent. "It's a facility known as Section 31 – a top-secret branch of Starfleet and dedicated to the research and development of weapons, technology, and defensive systems should Starfleet ever find itself under attack by the Klingons. Along with research and development, operatives are being trained to gather intelligence on our enemies as well as some of our more delicate allies should our friendship ever be broken."
Alice wasn't sure she heard right at first, the Admiral being so matter-of-fact quite suddenly. As far as she knew, Starfleet didn't have facilities that were wholly military based because Starfleet was based more solely on exploration.
As though reading her thoughts, he added, "Beautiful and fascinating as the galaxy may be, it is hardly a friendly place. There are many species out there who would sooner do us harm – such as the Klingons – when we intend to only study and explore. As such, we must be prepared for the worst case scenario."
She nodded slowly. "In short, offer one hand but arm the other."
"Exactly," he replied with a half-smile. "Diplomacy and offers of friendship are all well and good when it works, but nothing beats a phaser ready at your side."
The elevator slowed to a halt, the doors opening to the hallway of the underground barracks for scientists, engineers, and military personnel working long-term within Section 31. As the two men led her down the hall, Alice had a feeling she should have packed more clothes suited for a longer stay.
Grasping what the Admiral was telling her, understanding his reasons for having such a place, she wasn't entirely certain as to why she'd been brought to the secret facility, not when her career was still young despite her near success – she'd only been a psychologist for roughly four years – and certainly didn't expect to being in such a place after the incident the other day.
Coming to a room, the Admiral instructed her to punch in a passcode of her choosing and she did so. The computer processed her code before accepting it as the key to the door before allowing her and the two men entry.
The room was dreary to say the least, done in various shades of grey with minimal furniture. It was reminiscent to a cell, actually, which was disconcerting, but there was a kitchen and a bathroom, so that was a bonus.
"It isn't much," the Admiral admitted as Doyle set down her bags on the single couch. "But it should prove to be comfortable during your stay."
"With respect, Sir," Alice started, interlacing her fingers behind her back as she turned to face him. "Why am I here? Why reveal such a facility to me when I'm just a psychologist?"
Expression turning serious, Marcus approached her and gave her one of the two PADDs he'd been holding. "Four days ago, a sleeper ship known as the SS Botany Bay was discovered carrying eighty-five men and women in cryostasis. A study of the ships logs revealed to us that the people within were unaccounted for Augments of the late 20th century. Among those frozen, was Khan Noonien Singh."
Alice's eyes darted up from the ship being shown on the PADD and gaped in open shock at the Admiral, unable to believe her ears.
"All but Khan are dead, and upon bringing the cryotube here we woke him up in hopes that he will help us build weapons and ships to combat the threat of the Klingons should we face open war," he explained, ignoring her shock. "Understandably, the public would be a bit concerned that the Augment tyrant of the 20th century was alive and well, and thus we've given him the alias John Harrison, Starfleet Commander, so he can help us with no questions being asked."
"And he just happily agreed to offer us his help?"
From what she'd studied of the Augments, of Khan, it seemed entirely unlikely that such a man would openly help them without getting something in return.
"Rest assured he and I have worked out a… deal of sorts, doctor," he assured her in a tone that was less than assuring. "Now, I understand that you did your dissertation on the behavior of the Augments of the 20th century both before and during the Eugenics Wars, am I correct?"
"Yes, Sir." There had been little information to base her dissertation on, but she managed to impress her professors all the same.
"Good," he started with a nod. "Because as of now you are officially assigned to Khan as his handler. You will shadow him during his stay here and study him. His behavior, tactics, and actions are to be noted in a report that I expect to see at the end of each week. If at all possible, you are to treat him for his rumored psychopathic tendencies – 'best tyrant' or not, the man was known to be uniquely aggressive and devious during the war. Because in the end, I would like to see the man become a functioning member of this society without feeling the urge to lord over everybody."
Alice opened her mouth to speak but no sound came out. Struggling to find the respectful words of an officer within Starfleet, she sighed and asked, "Permission to speak freely, Admiral."
"I don't think I can do this," she deadpanned. "I mean, I treat officers suffering from PTSD, acute mental disorders resulting from combat or some tragic encounter, and a wide range of other issues, but I do not deal with… with people like Khan."
"Come now, you haven't met him yet."
"But I know of him," she countered. "A majority of my dissertation was focused on him. I've never treated a murderer before, certainly never a psychopath! Surely there is someone better suited for this assignment."
Marcus thought about this for a moment, and then he said, "You've got a unique way of treating your patients, Dr. Walsh. Rather than assure them that things will get better or treat them with gentle words and kid gloves, you come at them with a chilly disposition and nearly egg them into a confrontation with you."
"By not treating them with pity or kid gloves, as you put it, I make myself someone they don't have to like and can freely vent to with no boundaries, whether they choose to scream at me at the top of their lungs or break down and give into my prodding for the truth behind their problems," she explained. "Only after we've flooded the dam and establish a kind of trust do I switch gears and become a friend to them."
"And it's worked quite well for you in the past, save for the incident with Lieutenant O'Connor this past Monday." He watched her shrink ever so slightly, the memory making her pale and flinch. "What if I told you I could wipe that mark from your record? After all, certain drugs could make the Lieutenant snap, and if a few notes in your record indicate that he was doing exceptionally well up until that day, well, it would allow you to keep your career and face no judgment whatsoever, especially if I were the one defending you."
The young woman stared at him, suddenly wary. "I'm not sure I follow, Sir."
Sighing, he clarified, "Your prickly method of treatment is likely the thing Khan needs, being the kind of man he is. And just as I've made a deal with him, I will make one with you: follow the orders that I have given you, and I assure you that not a single negative mark will appear on your record. You may even find yourself promoted to ship Counselor sooner rather than later."
Her dark green eyes lit up at the prospect of being a Counselor on a ship, as it was what she hope to one day achieve, but dread tugged at the corners of her mind, and she asked slowly, "And if I refuse?"
"Then I'm afraid Starfleet will be deprived of a very bright mind, as you'll be forced to find work elsewhere," he replied sadly. "I can advance your career or I can end it. What's it going to be?"
Struck by his threat to end her career, she could say nothing for several seconds. Never in all her years would she expect such behavior and such a threat to come from an Admiral. He'd most surely be reprimanded for what he'd said and what he was doing were there anyone to challenge him, but alas there was not, and the young woman was stuck at a crossroads where either she sucked it up and did her job or was disgraced by Starfleet.
There really was no question in where her decision lay. "Give me a few hours or so, Sir, to catch up on what little we have on Khan, and I'll report for duty."
Pleased with her decision, the man gave her a fatherly smile and patted her shoulder. "Good to hear, doctor. And now that we've come to an agreement, there's no need to rush things. I'll have my chief of security escort you to Khan's quarters at 0800."
Oh, so now that he had her compliance there was no rush.
Gritting her teeth, she forced a smile.
He gave her a curt nod of farewell before turning to make his leave with his officer in tow. Only once they were out the door did she drop into the single cushioned chair and release a frustrated, tired groan.
Unable to fight the decision that had been made lest she want to lose her job, Alice sighed and retrieved the PADD that had been given to her, finding that various files of Khan had already been uploaded to it. Better to get straight to work to prepare herself before getting a little sleep.
As she opened the most recent report on the Augment, his photo appeared in the corner, giving a face to the name.
A handsome face, she noted, cocking her head slightly. Black hair, blue eyes, and pale skinned with strong features, he was definitely the most handsome of her patients, which was something to be thankful for she supposed. It matter little though whether she found him attractive or not – she wasn't there to be his friend or to flirt with him as she would were she to meet him in a bar. She was there to treat him so as not to end her career, end of story.
"Do you think she'll realize the truth, Sir?" asked Doyle as he followed Marcus back to the elevator.
Throwing a sideways glance to his First Officer and friend, he asked, "That we're using her? Eventually, yes, I suspect she will. Walsh is an exceptionally bright and clever woman. It's how she's able to weasel into the minds of her patients. But the fear of losing her career will keep her from digging around long enough to do the job I've assigned to her."
"She's good, I'll give her that, but do you honestly think she'll dampen Khan's hostility?" he asked. "That thing killed nine of our security officers and three doctors before submitting when you told him we were holding his crew. In fact, forget about his aggressive tendencies – his dedication to his crew is remarkably strong. I doubt even a doctor as talented as Walsh will be able to make him as controllable as you would like when he knows we're holding his crew as ransom."
Marcus sighed, tired of having the same discussion with Doyle. "I hardly expect her to rehabilitate the man and don't rightly give a damn about what she learns from him. The point of the matter is that by being as aggressive and chilly as she is with her patients, she'll give Khan something else to focus his hostility on as opposed to you, me, and others working around him. And if she is capable of dampening his aggressive tendencies and nature, it'll be more easy for me to control him. Either way, we win."
"And if Khan speaks of his crew to Walsh?"
Marcus shrugged, unconcerned. "I'll kill a few from his crew to remind him that I'm in charge, and I'll have Alice die in a wholly coincidental accident for good measure because if she learns that I'm using Khan's people against him after I told her they're dead, the fate of her career will mean little to her." Stepping into the elevator, he added as an afterthought, "But realistically, I'm not worried. Khan cares too much for the well-being of his crew. As I have ordered it, he will not speak a word to her or anyone else not cleared by me of the truth that seventy-two of his crew remain alive and well in stasis."
With all said and done, the two men road the elevator up in silence as their deceptive plot to use the young psychologist slowly took shape.
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