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Gina still has nightmares that she is ugly.
The opposite should hold more truth. Alone now in this overdone hotel room, the demons that whisper into her ear should tell her she is beautiful, that she has pretty thighs and a pretty mouth and a scream that makes all of them hard, but her dreams are not rational this way. She dreams her skin is always dirty and bruised beyond healing, that if you tore it off there would be roaches inside, and she dreams the piss won't come out of her hair and it leaks from her scars. She dreams that her nails have never grown back right since they tore some of them off, and it's the first thing she checks when she wakes up, this and her hair, right after she checks for basic mobility, that she can lift herself from the floor. Her nails, and her hair, and what color her ankles have turned today.
Several times a day the walls around her tremble and hum, and she runs water or taps her fingers on a desk until it stops. She's learned that humans unwind on this ship for the fake sun and alcohol and sex with people who don't have to like them. She's here because the one who saved her has unrealized power, she's just begun to understand this. They booked her indefinitely and asked no questions, because they think she is his whore.
Gina dreams the other Sixes can sense deformity in her -- that she resurrects and she is ugly still. She is different, worse, in the way words trip and stammer from her mouth in a rush to escape, and her commands sound like questions and her questions sound like pleas. Her body fidgets where it should glide. She does not love to touch everything the way they do. She's forgotten how to walk like she's not expecting, at any moment, to run.
It was almost fully her decision. She'd made it several times, and twice more while he was talking, only to hold back her voice and think, maybe not, maybe not yet, but then he was leaving and it was almost never so she said stay.
In the beginning, the part where her memories are clear, she remembers lying. She would try to measure how defiant to look, how vulnerable. She was proud for knowing human reactions so well. She knew to squeeze her eyes shut and wince away when Thorne hit her, crying more than it actually hurt. She was working on the assumption that he had mercy.
One benefit was some idiots wanted to be alone with her. They didn't want the guards to know the size of their cocks. This was her advantage, when no one was watching. This is how she killed some of them.
The first -- first? -- one she killed, she couldn't take his sense of irony anymore. He used to say you want it, you want it until she snapped. Back then they had her hands chained in front instead of the other way. She meant to break his neck, but the angle was wrong, so instead there was just a long moment of shock and confused joints. She had him pinned to the side, cursing at her and twisting awkwardly, her fists just pushing into his neck with all her weight and nothing happening. She was scared to let go. She felt control in this position and the growing threat of losing it again. But there was still a wrench in his hand he was futilely trying to swing at her again, and she could fight him for it.
She remembers, right after, still chained and waiting for the others to see, she spat at his body. It was reflexively emotional. She knew she'd lost something forever, then.
Gina didn't start the organization. She knew of it from the students -- they occupied almost as many rooms as the brothel, and Gina sometimes couldn't tell these groups apart but mostly didn't bother to. This professor with all the pamphlets, who licked his lips too often and couldn't decide what game he was trying to play, he didn't figure out where they were until the afternoon he helped Gina sort out some posters. The machine was humming PEACE over and over in bright red ink, drowning out the rutting noises until something louder interrupted, a series of bangs from another room.
"Someone wants them to be quiet," the professor said awkwardly, hoping she would laugh.
Gina was distracted by the copier. She said, "It's two guys at once sometimes, different rooms. They want to high-five through the wall." The professor swallowed.
She tries to review it in her mind sometimes, and she can't always remember killing seven. Seven, plus the marine with the gun, plus the Admiral, equals nine. Ten, she feels, would be a more even number. Twelve would be better, more mythic. This is all abstraction anyway. She's killed Thorne so many times in her mind, it's almost true. She remembers strategy better than details -- if he was alone, not in a group, and if he was distracted by something. If he brought something with him and had to turn away to get it, that would be a good time.
She went through a phase of fighting very much. Like an animal, without reasoning skills, but she doesn't try to remember this, so it's likely a couple of them died from luck. There are days when she goes over it and actually thinks, didn't one of them pretend to give her food? Didn't he study her behavior, and she grabbed him so he couldn't breathe? And she only recalls later that this was actually Gaius.
She sometimes adds Gaius when she counts anyway, and herself, if it brings it closer to ten or twelve, but for some reason she's always subtracted them again.
One night the hotel kept her awake. She doesn't really need to sleep. In fact, her body is designed to go weeks without sleep, so this is not unusual. The more worrying thing is, one morning she tried to wash her hands and the smell of soap made her mind unfocus, and the next thing she knew she was back in bed gasping for air, and then she was either sleeping or wishing to be asleep, alternating, for the rest of the day.
Her projections are at the most unhealthy they've ever been. An idea that calms her is the beauty of God's creation destroyed. She imagines a lighter in her hands, a nuclear flame. The trees have rotted already, one by one around her. On Pegasus, she used to sleep on the fallen branches as they died. A pile of red-brown foliage crinkled underneath her like a makeshift bed, and she crushed a handful of papery leaves in her hand, and they whispered, "thank you, thank you for letting us go."
A small fire endures pleasantly in the center of her mind. This is her choice: when does the fire grow, and how far, and will there be anything left?
On Cloud Nine there was a pale little human girl who reluctantly carried a doll with one eye, like it wasn't quite loved but couldn't be left safely alone. Gina never knew about this until the girl went missing, and then there were women crying and even Galactica got involved, also reluctantly, and the women wouldn't let the one soldier too close, especially not too close to the mother, and finally he left and Gina could stop shaking and counting the things she could kill herself with, if she had to, even if it meant not going to God.
Days later, just before the election, Gina found the girl unharmed and living next to the washing machine. It was dragging its doll on the floor, not without affection, singing "boom boom boom" like the noise from the dryer, louder than all the other noises in the world, a sound like maybe they really were in space. Gina said, "I want to show you something," and smashed its brain into a door.
When Gaius was violating her, but earnestly, he said, "You'll see, we can make this all right." He was talking about the planet. He kissed her so many times. It was different by being longer, in a warmer room that kept her breath steadier. It was different in that apart from the small and nearly imperceptible-to-him stress attacks (twice) when her body tightened and she wanted to stopstopstop but held her mouth closed, she was not afraid he would torture or punch her.
Later Gaius asked her where she wanted him to come, and she didn't know why, maybe just for asking, she told him, "The trash bin on the left -- my left, your right." Their hearts were still beating like it was a contest. She told him, "There's tissues."
His eyes were bewildered and vaguely hurt and still on the edge of an orgasm and terribly selfish and indignant and shamed. She read all this in him and looked away, staring intently at her own chest, shifting half-heartedly underneath him so their hands weren't touching anymore. She heard herself say "please" and then almost instantly his weight was off her, and he muttered fine like if he was less civilized he would knock something over, but not her, she still knew this and she kept her eyes down. She heard him half-stifle a groan and shiver on the edge of the bed, facing the other way, and no one was watching, so this would've been the time. This would've been a perfect time. An alarm clock on the table was tick-ticking quietly. In the darkness she reached out and brushed the center of his back with her fingertips, and for two minutes neither of them moved.