A Mirror Shattered #134 - "Never born"


['Original' Universe]

Regulus Black sighed as he returned to his quarters after a long shift. It was always a long shift. He put in extra time whenever he could, accruing favors, impressing his superiors. That was how you advanced... that, and a lot of work being competant at your position. Today, though, he'd been sidetracked. His mind kept going back to his mother's odd midnight call, asking about his daughter. Most of the time, he forgot he even Had one. Somehow, though, he'd kept pulling up her picture at various times throughout the day. His most recent picture of her was from her Starfleet Academy graduation. He pulled up the picture again as he tapped in his replicator order for dinner. She looked so much like her mother, in facial features and form, that he wondered at times if she really was his... Until he paid more attention to the expressions on her face, and then he felt a faint pull, a faint longing to see her more often and actually get to know her.

He sighed again and shook off the feeling. He didn't have time to have a daughter, he kept reminding himself. He was on his way up, building on a solid foundation, going to become great. But as he sat down with his evening meal, he found himself pulling up her picture again. Ah, what the hey. He tapped in an inquiry at the console in his quarters. List all the starships that have missed their usual reporting-in time. He glanced down the list and froze as he spotted the name USS Pegasus.

It didn't have to Mean anything, he reasoned. They weren't overdue enough to worry over. After all, it could be anything. It didn't mean they were in Trouble. He sighed, looking at her picture again, and then brought up another image.. another Asian woman, older, her facial structure a little different, her expression full of energy. Regulus leaned back in his chair.. and remembered.

It was over twenty years ago, a short rendezvous just like many others in his wanton youth. He'd met a beautiful, bright girl at a local bar, celebrating her high scores in a piloting sim. They were both young, both in a good mood, and they'd both had rather a lot of alcohol to drink... and somehow they'd ended up going back to his place for a night of passion. "I don't form attachments," she'd told him the next morning, shortly before disappearing for what he thought would be forever. It was a few weeks later that he'd gotten the message.

Back in the latter 20th century, women in several prominent cultures gained the choice to end an unwanted pregnancy in privacy. Back then, the men had very little choice as to whether or not they were responsible for the.. situation.. they had helped to create. Since then, things had changed, and he was given a standard notification informing him of her condition. He called her to find that she had already made up her mind. "I'll get it taken care of," she said. "I don't need to spend months away from flying. I could lose my ace status. It would ruin my figure. Besides... I didn't think you were a 'kids person'." She was right about that. A child would complicate his entire life immensely. He had no time, no room in his life for that kind of adjustment.

But he wasn't sure. He paced the room that night, silently debating within himself, wondering what was the right thing to do. "Don't you care about anything but your career?" he chided himself at one point, but then the next moment he was off on a different tack. "What kind of life is it, being unwanted? We're doing everybody a favor." But then he would think of his parents. "They'd never approve." Even that had a counter-thought in his head. "But they aren't out here. Life's different out here. Besides, she's a fighter pilot. This whole thing could really hurt her position as ace. Who am I to try to convince her to give that up?"

Then, suddenly, Regulus Black divided. In the nebulous Somehow, where choices divided realities, one Regulus Black became two. If one had the right kind of eyes, one could see it happen... as one man rose from his seat, rose out of the body of the other, and strode determinedly out the door. He pulled favors and got himself quick transportation... he faced the woman he thought he'd never see again, and he talked to her all night long. "Just a few months," he pleaded. "I won't ever ask you for anything. I'll take complete responsibility. But.. it just doesn't feel right to me. Please." In the end, she agreed. "Only for a few months," she reiterated.

His life having suddenly been turned upside-down, he spent most of his ride back feeling a mixture of exultation and despair. He felt as if he was tottering on the edge of a deep abyss... but he felt good, as if he were doing the right thing. As he stepped back into his quarters, despite the lateness of the hour, he put a call through to Earth. His mom answered.

"Mom? I really, really, REALLY have to talk to both you and Dad. And I need to ask you a favor.. it's very important."

The other Regulus Black, the one who'd stayed behind, remained sitting for a while longer, the struggle becoming dimmer in his mind. He finally rose and went to bed, just putting the whole situation as far out of his head as he could, never to revisit it... he hoped.

And yet, once every couple of years, his mind would go back to that night and that young woman, and he would take just a moment to wonder... What if? Would it have been a girl or a boy? Would it have looked like him? Would it have had a life worth living? It didn't matter, he ultimately told himself. It never happened.

He hadn't thought about that for ages, though. His mind was completely taken up now by the survival of the human race. He had plans to make, fighting to do, and there was plenty in the real world to keep his mind off of things that could have been, and would never be. A few weeks ago, he'd seen a simple notification, a short message in the midst of a lot of bad news. Mei Ling, fighterpilot, had been killed in action. And that, he thought, was the end of that.

-=Off=- Making a post without me:

Lt. Kathleen Black Chief Engineer, USS Pegasus The One That Lived