Fic: Second Skin (ST:E, Grat/OC)

Author’s Note: My friends Deb, Medie and I have a tendency to “cast” guest characters of our own creation that appear in our fanfic. This story was inspired by a challenge between the three of us to create a character using the “face” of one of each other’s characters. So when you picture Seryl in her Tandaran form, picture Eva LaRue, who was also “cast” as Lynn Kennedy in Deb’s unfinished X-Men fic, “Broken Wings.” The other purpose of this story was to give Grat a little more humanity…being a huge Dean Stockwell fan, I found him somewhat sympathetic when probably no one else did, so this was my way of sharing that with the rest of the fandom. 🙂

There was a time when she had slept in this bed wearing her own skin. A time when he had looked at her true face without fear, without hate or suspicion. Of course, there was also a time when she would never have agreed to deceive him like this.

Sighing, Seryl slipped out of bed and padded softly to the window.

Of course she knew if he ever saw her for who she really was, all his worst suspicions about her would be confirmed. Not that she hadn’t already confirmed them the day she had joined the Cabal. She’d done it out of anger–if he was so determined to believe her a traitor, what reason did she have to be loyal to a race that wasn’t even her own? A race–a man–who had rejected her because her skin was green and mottled, not clear and rosy-colored as it seemed now.

Seryl held up one hand before the window, studied it. How ironic that the very thing that had torn them apart now brought them back together, only under a veil of lies.

She shivered every time he ran his hands through the soft brown hair that she had conjured as part of the deception. She trembled when his fingers brushed the second skin, the same fingers that she could almost forget had once touched the first without flinching. His touch still made her melt–the man who had destroyed her, whose destruction she was to facilitate, and she still loved him.

Oh, she hated him too. She hated him for the way he’d looked at her when he told her he was leaving her. Leaving her because she was Suliban. She hated him for the way he’d imprisoned hundreds, thousands of her people without even blinking. Claiming it was for their own “protection.” She hated him for choosing fear over love, prejudice over his own wife.

But she still loved the man she’d married over thirty years ago.

And because she loved him, she would stay here, continuing to deceive him, continuing to spy on him for his enemies, looking for weaknesses she already knew by heart, because she didn’t have the strength to walk away again. And the irony was that in the end he would only hate her more for it.

Behind her, Grat shifted in bed and called the name he thought was hers in his sleep. Her heart constricting, Seryl turned back to him. Crossing to the bed, she caressed his face with her stolen hands.

In’mhar aja, Grat. I’m here.”

As he had so often, long ago, he relaxed at her touch.

Burying her head in her husband’s chest, Seryl cried herself to sleep.


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