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Aberrant: Stargate Universe - Envy Burns [Complete]

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[set before Cynic's Celebration but after How to Dance a Razor's Edge]


The warnings about Taint were still ringing in her ears when Olivia sat on her bed and crossed her legs. The pose was about right for meditation, but it wasn't any kind of Eastern relaxation techniques that Olivia was going to attempt. Instead, she pulled on her power like a cat on a table cloth, starting a venture that might result in her pulling something heavy down on her head. And nothing seemed heavier than the Taint that Omar had warned them about.

She drew up her power, sucking on the sweet burning sensation like a junkie. It was heady, powerful stuff, and Olivia felt good when it coursed through her like liquid flame. It was one of the few times she felt good lately, with the concerns and worries of her life far away from her, held back by a fiery wall of fahracyte-fueled power. With a sigh that was mingled pleasure and sorrow, she released the heat to the surface of her skin, letting it settle and bind there like another layer of skin. Her body hair stood on end, and she could almost see the heat flowing over her body. Then it was gone, dissipated into nothingness.

It was becoming a smoother process, and Olivia pulled her taint journal over and made some quick notes. She was pleased with her progress; she'd taken things carefully and slowly and she felt comfortable to try again today. It would be the first time she'd tried to practice that technique more than once an hour.


"From the top," she whispered, closing her eyes. She ran through her mental exercises, taking her time and making sure she was ready. "I am healthy," she said, reciting her 'I am' statements to clarify her desires and purposes. "I have a strong, useful power that helps my team. I have a power that makes me strong enough to defend myself." Thoughts of her problems were far away as she drew on that power again, calling it out of her flesh and blood and making it tangible through her will.


The fire burned through her body again, setting her on a slow smolder that raised sweat on her dark skin. Olivia held it as long as she could, her head falling back and her breath rasping in her throat. The energy flared over her skin again and Olivia gave a deep, throaty chuckle as it released in a pulse of warmth. "Wow," she said softly, smiling.

After she'd calmed a bit, she made more notes in her journal. So far, she wasn't noting anything about taint. It was unnerving that she might be turning herself into Declan, but she didn't know. She had no way of knowing, not unless she actually became tainted.

Her second test had been successful. She should stop now. But she had two successes under her belt, and her skin still tingled with the buzz from two in a row. "One more time," she whispered, biting her lower lip.

She centered herself again and clarified her desires and purpose. Then again, she drew on that sweet heat, pulling it from the core of her bearing. She could feel it surge forth again, emptying that well of power within her. One good thing about doing this was that she was becoming more aware of her own strength. She had a better sense of her own limits now, of how many times she could broadcast over the airwaves or 'powermax'. The fire spread through her body, and Olivia shivered as the power filled her.

It all went so wrong so fast. As before, her skin erupted in fire, but this time, it burned. Immediately, she stopped thinking about what she had experienced before as 'fiery' because that was a warm tropical breeze compared to the inferno that engulfed her. For a second, all was pain and reaction; when she could think again, she was holding herself, shaking, too shocked to even start crying.

When she had calmed herself, she shakily wrote her impressions in her journal. Taint was real. She'd just felt it. And moreover, she'd felt that before, too, during her coma. As the Artifact had reshaped her mind, poking and prying at the damage done by the pentagon, she'd felt that same pain.

Congrats, girl. You're tainted. And since it was all in your head, you'll never even know what it's done to you.

That's what she needed right now.

After a moment, she shook her head. She would just have to find another way to get what she wanted. She was tired of being the weak kid. When she'd first become a specialist, she'd been sure she'd manifest a power that would give her the ability to defend herself, to be strong. When it hadn't happened, she'd been sure she was stuck depending on others. But Omar's words had given her hope.

If she wanted it bad enough, she could have it. And she would; that was not in question.

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  • 3 weeks later...

It was harder than ever now, to watch everyone else walking around, secure in their own power. Gwyn with his density and flight. Vinny with his force fields and hand grenades. Aradia with her shape shifting. Even Caine had a force of personality to be reckoned with. Olivia had smarts, and the ability to sense things. That was pretty much all she'd gotten.

It wasn't enough.

It wasn't enough when Hatchins bumped into her in the corridor; she had known instantly that they were alone, and that there was an isolated supply room not ten feet away. He just smiled and winked at her before running his eyes down the front of her uniform. "Article 120," she hissed at him and he jerked his head back, glaring at her.

She walked past him; it was one of the hardest things she'd ever done, because she'd been sure he'd grab her at any moment. When she passed unscathed and was out of his reach, she made the mistake of glancing back at him. He was smiling again, and he blew her a kiss. If she'd had Vinny's grenades, she would have put a crater in the SGU hallway then and there.

Her mind and sensory capabilities weren't enough when she sparred with Declan; she could feel him holding himself back, like a parent wrestling with a sickly child. She was getting better, but she'd never been good enough on her own. Not to compete in this high-powered world where an fighter had consider how to counter an opponent who could become as dense as stone or survive a direct blast from a missile.

She might be a match in the classroom, but in the science lab, she was behind the curve. She was good at teaching, knowing and sensing things. That was her 'thing'. And it wasn't enough, not for the job she had to do, she told herself. And she'd never admit it, but it wasn't enough for her own quiet envy.

She pushed herself in the gym, trying to make it happen. She ran outside on the trails around the base until she nearly threw up. And the entire time, she struggled against the notion that it was futile, that this was the way she was going to be forever. That wasn't acceptable. It wasn't enough for her, and she kept trying.

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October 6th

The first headache was like a blowtorch in her head, and Olivia paused in her typing to hold her head. "Worach," she muttered, but it passed fairly quickly. She waited a couple of minutes, trying to decide if she should go to the infirmary. When she remained without pain, she shrugged it off and went about her day.

The next time, it woke her from a deep sleep. She did go the infirmary this time. The doctor on duty gave her useless painkillers, then handed her some Tylenol-3, which had a small effect. Then they gave her a catscan, because as the Doctor put it, "You people don't get sick normally." It was weird to hear someone say 'you people' and know that they weren't talking about her skin color. The catscan showed one interesting thing; the old brain damage from the pentagon was even smaller.

"Is it healing?" Olivia asked. She stared at that small, dark mark on the screen. It was in her memory center, and she'd often mused about what secrets were obscured in that dark area. She'd wondered if it would heal or spread, and if she'd ever know what memories had been obliterated.

"Kinda," the doctor said. "It's constricting, but I don't know that it's healing." He looked sympathetic as he said, "Until you get some self-healing factor, there's probably no chance of regeneration, and even then you shouldn't recover those memories from the damaged portion. They won't regenerate."

They kept her for observation; the headache faded and they released her in the morning, in time to shower and make breakfast. She told her team what had happened; it would worry them, but if she became incapacitated by something and needed treatment, they would have that information.

She should have thought ahead and realized that taking a swim was dangerous. But she couldn't sleep, and she knew that Hatchins was on-duty for the next four hours, trapped in one of the supply rooms. So she didn't feel at all nervous about donning her swimsuit, which was one of her post-Artifact purchases. Before the Artifact, she would have been nervous about showing so much skin; the one-piece 'monokini' was bare on the sides, and to the repressed Olivia, felt fairly daring.

She hopped into the water and started easy laps, feeling the movement easing tightness in her muscles. She hadn't known how enjoyable exercise could be until she'd been forced to keep up at the SGC. She started her gliding strokes, feeling a little calmer, a little happier-

The burn was back, tearing through her body like a fire. She spasmed and went under the water, gasping in water in shock. A second later, she'd clawed to the surface, coughing and trying to breathe. She barely managed to get any air before another surge of fire poured through her; she was only vaguely aware when she went under the water again.

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Still trying to get the phantom smells of goatshit off of his body, Vinny had decided that a dip in chlorine would do it, and if he was lucky, maybe a deep brain massage from KT.

So it was no surprise that he had heard splashing as he exited the locker room. What was a surprise was seeing the familiar form of Olivia going under, and seemingly not intentionally.

Abandoning his gear as he acted on well-ingratiated protector instict, he ran across the pool deck and dove in, giving himself a shallow enough entry to shoot right at her. Within scant seconds, he had his arms around her thrashing form and started kicking towards the surface.

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Arms caught her, and Olivia instinctively reached for the salvation she sensed in them. She wasn't sure what happened, but sudden, fast pain lanced down her sides. Air rushed into her lungs, along with a surge of strength, and she relaxed, going limp to aid her rescuer. A moment later, she realized she knew those arms and all of her tension faded. She was safe.

Vinny felt the skin under his lower-most arm suddenly flare outward, releasing a flash of blood as her skin split to accommodate gills. They curled around her torso, just under her ribs.

Still, he pushed to the surface, bringing their heads out. Olivia still felt that fire in her veins, though, and she twisted around so that she could wrap an arm around his shoulders. "Thanks," she tried to say, but her exhale only brought up chlorinated water. Blinking, she felt the first stab of panic as she realized that there was water in her lungs, but she was having no trouble breathing.

Don't fuckin' panic, she told herself, calm returning as she cut through the bullshit and knew what to do. Turning her head away from her rescuer, she coughed violently, bringing up mouthfuls of chlorinated water. When she could talk, she turned back to Vinny, a lazy smile on her lips. "That's the second time you fuckin' saved my life, sugar. Got a fuckin' lot of thankin' you to do."

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  • 4 weeks later...

Olivia turned to him fully, her body sliding against his under the water. Her other arm circled his shoulders as her fingers slipped through his hair, cupping the back of his head. Her legs curled up; then she slipped them around his waist, getting them clear of his legs, which were kicking to keep them afloat. "Thank you," she murmured huskily before inching her head forward and kissing him.

It was neither a short nor a chaste kiss; it probably fell short of a level of appreciation for her life, but Vinny wouldn't have noticed - it was still a very grateful gesture. Even the sharp taste of chlorine that clung to her lips and tongue couldn't ruin this moment.

For her, this exploration of him was old ground revisited; enough had changed and enough time had passed to make this something new, yet it has a sense of familiarity. Best of all, with both of their gills pumping, there was no need to hurry, none at all.

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For him, this was all new. The electricity of the moment passed from her lips, through his body. He hardly noticed that he wasn't 'breathing', but was more considering the implications of getting caught having sex in the base pool.

Vinny hadn't expected anything near this level of action from her, at least yet, their date was still a few hours away. So when they finally did pull apart from each other, Vinny, with regrets, had to mention the change in attitude.

"Fuckin' appreciate the gratitude darlin', but shouldn't we save some for tonight?" You are a fuckin' idiot.

She could 'feel' his obvious level of excitement as he asked.

Somethin' is fuckin' goin' on.

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"Not like I have a finite supply," she muttered, leaning back in to kiss his jaw. Her lips nibbled their way to his earlobe, where she softly purred, "Sure that I could fuckin' find more gratitude for you later."

Smiling coyly - and with an eerie familiarity - Olivia wiggled a bit, sliding a little lower on him and making certain parts connect more firmly. As his breath caught, she kissed his neck, catching skin lightly with her teeth, pretty sure that he liked that. He shivered in answer, his hands moving down to cup her ass and press her against him more firmly. Olivia groaned in response; her skin was too sensitive to not feel every touch on her body with exquisite detail.

Had she been thinking, Olivia would have been a little embarrassed at how she was acting, but most of her thoughts were stuck on the fact that she was kinda hungry and plenty horny. Right now, she was clinging half-naked to a man she had more than a passing sexual interest in, so horny was winning over hungry. Had this happened in the kitchen, she might have been distracted from sex by food. In the pool and already held close by him, there was no doubt that she wanted sex. The fact that she hadn't felt this way before he'd touched her slowly soaked in, and Olivia reluctantly lifted her head from his shoulder.

"Fuck. I think something's fuckin' wrong with me." A memory wormed its way past the hormones in her system. "I was burning... I think I just fuckin' got that taint shit." Her dark eyes were worried as she said, "I think I need to go to the infirmary."

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Several things were nagging at her all at once, and Olivia was very torn. Unfortunately, Vinny's personality wasn't conducive to thoughtful consideration, and Olivia's ability to copy powers was picking up more than just powers. Right now, Vinny's impulsive, risk-taking personality was at odds with Olivia's tendency to think carefully before stepping. And when normal went head-to-head with specialist, specialist won - which meant that at this moment, Olivia was a super-intelligent risk-taker. Moreover, she was a super-intelligent risk-taker with Vinny-levels of horniness.

"You're fuckin' right," she muttered as her hormones were given full license again. She wiggled a bit more, drawing sounds out of him, and said, "Ain't shit Fraiser can do for me anyway."

She glanced around the room, considered all the steps they'd have to endure to get out of the pool, shower and get to someone's room. There was a decided impish glint in her eyes as she turned back to him and pressed herself to him to whisper in his ear. "Submerged under the diving board?" The board and the shadowed water under it would offer some cover - enough to get clothes back in place before someone got an eyeful.

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That was sure to have some logistical issues, but hell if Vinny cared right now. With Olivia wrapped around him, it was easy enough to just stop kicking and let them sink into the water as he started them moving towards the diving board as his answer.

This was fairly risky, even for Vinny, but all the trumped up attention for being a specialist was starting to go to his head, and at this point, there wasn't much they could really do to him aside from more slaps on the wrist as in the case of the Kiki Nass incident.

Fuck the IOA, gonna get laid!

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Some of the logistical issues were solved with some ease; there was a vent underwater that was a good tether point. Vinny was able to hook his hand in there so that their motions didn't throw them around the pool. With one hand holding them steady and the other holding her to him, he didn't have the ability to maneuver his clothes, so Olivia took care of that. She slipped his over-taxed Speedo down for him, then used the convenient ties on the bottom half of her swimsuit to uncover herself.

It was like some strange fairy tale - the dappled light and shadows of the ever-flowing water as bubbles tickled their skin. The scene was made into something real by their bodies' movements together, by the sensations they generated. Hot skin and cool water, shivering touches and hungry kisses all conspired to steal away all senses, all rational thought - not that either was very rational at the moment.

Even if she was being filtered through Vinny's personality, Olivia didn't miss the hints of affection. It wasn't like it had been in Kuwait; this was no youthful first love, burning like a bonfire. But it was a start, and all the proof she needed, for now. He cared about her; someday, barring some unforeseen tragedy, he would love her again. That promise of emotional intimacy, more than anything, brought her pleasure - she might have been part-Vinny, but she was still a woman.

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Background Music wink

Physical logistical issues aside, there were still nagging doubts in the back of Vinny's mind as he worked to pleasure the foul-mouthed beauty. This woman remembered him, remembered a time spent together, remembered a young man, remembered a relationship, and even a promise of something more.

Vinny didn't. Yes, he had his glimpses and what he could recall from the 'story' that was told to him, but given the lack of emotional attachment, even the facts were difficult to recall after all these years. Could he live up to what she was looking for from him? Was anything he did going to be the 'same old, same old'?

Sure he had been with other women since, though nothing serious by any means, and maybe he had matured slightly, earned some more experience. But basically he was the same guy, just a few steps closer to the grave.

Not one to consider drawbacks for long, and having already made peace with his risks by participating in their musical exchange, he did his best to bury his doubts. This moment really was telling him what she thought about him. Taint aside, there were many chances this course of action could have been stopped, and yet she was responding in ways that were far from being considered 'reluctant'.

With one last writhing moment of conjoined pleasure, Vinny managed to surmount the underwater difficulties and pulled away slightly to look into Olivia's eyes.

Click to reveal.. (One of few recovered memories from 2h2h)
"Darlin'." he asked softly, pausing to make sure she was awake.

"Hmm?" Liv replied, her face buried amongst the blankets on his chest.

"What would you say if I asked you to stay?"

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Olivia felt herself go limp as the last waves of bliss flowed through her body. She was a little startled when he pulled back - and afraid-

And now is when I find out if he's nice to the girls he fucks or if I'm now no longer worth his time.

-but all of that was allayed when she looked up at him. His dark eyes met her, brimming with emotions, and Olivia felt her heart flip over. Despite all the taint-induced craziness going around, in her heart, it was still her, and the part of her that had been ripped out when he left grew back a little. Until this moment, she hadn't been completely sure that he wasn't playing her. She had quietly been waiting for him to abandon her, believing on some level that he just wanted one thing, and once he had it, he'd be gone. Again. On some level, she felt she deserved to be treated like that.

But he was still here, and he was looking at her like that. Olivia reached up to touch his face, feeling her eyes fill with emotion as she caressed the familiar, pleasure-softened planes of his face. And on a level that she wasn't really aware of yet, a piece of her was reclaimed from the brutality from long ago. It was the fire-filled part of her that burned with passion and anger. While it was only a spark, it was the beginning of an inferno.

Envy wasn't the only thing that burned in Olivia's heart.

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