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Straight and Narrow

by Andraste

[Story Headers]

By the time Braca made it to his quarters, the pain had subsided somewhat. He no longer felt as if someone was driving fine needles through his forehead; now it was merely as though tiny insects were chewing at his brain. Still, the first thing he did was reach for the syringe loaded with painblockers. He'd left it in place before he'd any idea of how much he would need it - the sensation was far worse today than it had been on previous occasions. For a moment he worried that Grayza had damaged him permanantly.

Pushing the concern aside as pointless, he held the device against his neck. He wondered what Scorpius would say if he could see his former lieutenant now, given how he used to wince at the casual ease with which the hybrid self-administered medication. Since then, Miklo Braca had discovered that it was possible to get used to almost anything given sufficient time and incentive.

Sighing as the drug coursed through his system providing almost instantaneous relief, he stumbled his way to the bed, removing his uniform as he went and scattering it across the floor. It had always been his habit to keep his living space scrupulously tidy - cleanliness denoted efficiency - but Grayza had taken to waking him on a whim at all hours, and when he returned he was always too exhausted to do more than collapse.

It would have been no trouble to assign an underling to the task - most senior officers didn't lift a finger for such lowly matters. Yet as he was steadily promoted through the ranks Braca had made a point of tidying his own things. Somehow it would feel like a defeat to allow somebody else to do it now, and a display of weakness in front of the troops that he could not afford.

He badly wanted a moment beneath the fresher, but sleep was more important. With luck, he would have time to wash tomorrow. Although it made his head throb again, he forced himself through the routine of bed making, pulling back the covers and refolding them into sharp, precise corners. The familiar movements soothed him a little, and he felt the fuzziness his head begin to clear.

As was always the case these days, the thoughts that filled his mind as he immediately spoiled his own work by getting into bed were not conducive to rest. This time had certainly been worse than before. There was not only the pain and the strange phantom sensations, but also muscle aches that he was only now becoming aware of. Whatever was happening during his recent blackouts, it was like no sex he'd ever had.

It was possible that repeated exposure to the chemicals Grayza exuded was causing a bad reaction. If that was the case, there was little hope of the situation improving - she would hardly stop inflicting herself on him if he asked politely. Not that he would make such a request; it was his placed to do exactly as she wished.

Early on, he had believed that she drugged him because she doubted his loyalty, and consequently redoubled his efforts to conceal his continuing devotion to Scorpius. Eventually, he had realised that the Commandant drugged him merely because it amused her.

That was when he began to be afraid.

Over time, he had found himself less in thrall to her powers of suggestion, and had begun to hope that he was developing some resistance. Then the blackouts had started, and today ... he had no idea what had happened, and that frightened him more than the pain.

If this kept up, it was going to become even harder to follow Scorpius's orders. His major problem in frustrating her plans to date had been that he didn't know what her plan was, except that it - inevitably, it seemed - involved John Crichton. Braca was beginning to think that the human produced some chemicle substance of his own, something that caused commanding officers to become obsessed with him.

Half of the time, Braca believed that Grayza had no clear agenda at all. The other half, he believed that she had some hidden scheme he was not even close to understanding. He had never thought that he would miss Captain Bialar Crais, but at least his goals had been easy to grasp, even when the reasons behind them mystified Braca.

He also had far less autonomy under Grayza than he posessed under Scorpius or even Crais, who had left many of the mundane administrative tasks involved in running the Command Carrier to his second. Grayza took an interest in what went on around her, and she desired his ... presence ... far too often to let him get on with running operations as a proper captain should.

He sighed and rolled over. Such repetitive thoughts were fruitless and only kept him from relaxing while he had the chance. He could hardly contact Scorpius and say 'I can't help you by delaying Grayza, because she keeps recreating with me until I pass out.'

Even if he could manage to contact Scorpius at all without being caught. If Grayza had the slightest idea that he was still faithful to the hybrid, he would lose his position. He had no illusions about his importance to Scorpius either - here and now, he was in a place of power. If he slipped up and was declared irreversibly contaminated, he would be of no help in the war against the Scarrans.

Staring into the dark, he could admit to himself that it was not just the possibility of losing his ability to help Scorpius that made him hesitant about taking more risks. He had seen too many Peacekeepers lose their status to treat the threat lightly, and he was no recruit or hybrid who knew what it was to live outside the security his organisation provided. Braca was the product of an assigned mating. Born and raised on a Command Carrier. He fully expected to die in service.

He had tried to convince himself that he went along with Grayza only because Scorpius had told him to do so, or because of the drug, but there was another reason for giving every public indication of turning on his former master. Scorpius might desire nothing more than the protection of the Sebacean people, but Braca's loyalty to the Peacekeepers had to take precedence. Even when command was invested in the person of Mele-on Grayza.

Scorpius was a recruit who joined up as an adult, a disgraced exile, a despised hybrid. Even by feeling a desire to help and protect him, Braca was committing treason.

With the dull throbbing ache in his skull as accompaniment, he tried for what felt like the thousandth night running to decide what to do. Scorpius was the best hope for winning the war against the Scarrans, and the greatest leader he had ever served under. Grayza was his commander. If he chose to follow Scorpius, he might lose everything he knew. If he gave in to Grayza ...

Soon, perhaps, he would see a chance, a way to help Scorpius and still preserve himself. Or his nerve would fail, and he would betray the hybrid against all he felt. Or the drug she gave him would induce fatal stroke, and he would never have to make a decision at all.

Once again, his choice tonight would be to avoid choosing while he still had the opportunity to sleep instead.

The End

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Fandom:  Farscape
Title:  Straight and Narrow
Author:  Andraste   [email]   [website]
Details:  Standalone  |  PG-13  |  gen  |  6k  |  02/10/04
Characters:  Braca
Summary:  All Miklo Braca wants is a decent night's sleep.
Notes:  Missing scene from 'Terra Firma', or 4.13 if you prefer ep numbers.

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