Title: "Language Barrier"

Rating: Surprising absence of porn for the mirror universe, really. PG? PG-13?

Category: Mirror Universe Hoshi/Travis, Hoshi/Forrest, Hoshi/Archer (oh, how I love my mirror universe Hoshi...)

Setting: Before "In a Mirror, Darkly." Probably quite a bit before.

Summary: She'd say it more often if it was called for, but it very rarely is.

Author's Note: Er... well, I don't really like this one. I really don't have a bead on mirror Hoshi/Travis yet, but jainamsolo asked me to write mirror!Hoshi fic, and I did, so I thought I'd post it.


***


Hoshi Sato has said I love you to exactly five people in her life. She'd say it more often if it was called for, of course, but it very rarely is.

Maxwell -- Captain Forrest -- is a sentimentalist and a romantic, and those three words sealed the deal. She makes a point of saying it every few weeks, and he always smiles at her show of loyalty. He doesn't say it back, but he promises to take care of her, which is almost the same thing.

She likes being a captain's woman, at least in the interim, and she likes him. He's reasonable, if short-sighted, and his feelings for her are less complicated than some.

When she first told Jonathan she loved him, after a calculated interval of two months together, he slapped her. "Don't say it if you don't mean it," he spat, and waited for her to argue, his jaw clenched like she'd physically struck a nerve. She knows now that she misjudged how best to handle his erratic obsession with her, not yet realizing that giving him what he wants makes him paranoid instead of indebted.

She hasn't misread him since.

There were two others, early in her career, a Dean at the University and a Lieutenant Commander, both inconsequential now.

She remembers saying it to her mother, too, before she was killed. Hoshi doesn't tend to count that when she runs through her list, though -- her mother died when she was only five, and back then, it meant something else.

It surprises her as much as anyone when she says it to Travis. She's sober and curled up with him in a maintenance junction in the dead center of Enterprise, not far from the magical zero-gravity spot that Travis likes. It makes her queasy, though she never admits it. There's no real reason why they're here, why they don't meet in her quarters or his, even if it is the middle of the day shift and they're sure to be seen by someone. Maxwell Forrest isn't the jealous type -- so long as he's the captain, he has nothing to worry about.

Still, with Travis, she doesn't like taking chances.

He's running the zipper up and down on her top, telling her about the conditions on the cargo ships, and she confides that she sometimes hates being in space, though she likes being away from Earth. Then he's quiet for a moment and brushes her hair aside to keep it from getting caught in the zipper teeth, and she says it.

He gives her a strange look, like perhaps she's forgotten something important, like where she is or who she's with. He's young and strong and handsome, and she tells herself that's why she sought him out even though his position has nothing to offer her. She knows it has more to do with the simple way he talks and the way he kept a secret for her, once.

"You don't have to say that to me," he reminds her. It's her second biggest bargaining chip -- the biggest being Hoshi herself -- and she's wasting it here with nothing to gain. Their affair has never been about an exchange of power.

"I don't say it to just anyone," she snaps, and even though she knows his words are a statement of fact and not a rejection, there's ice in her tone she can't keep back. Part of her feels like she's still in zero-gravity, and she smothers it by slinking up his body. It unsettles her -- he unsettles her -- and so she falls back on something familiar, grabbing his head and giving the feral grin she practiced in the mirror when she was eleven years old.

She should fuck him, she thinks, until he forgets this conversation and she's back in complete control, but some part of her makes her pause to listen, curious.

"I don't like being compared to Forrest and Archer."

She's told him about her list. She's told him a lot. He's told her just as much about him, of course. She makes sure of that.

"I thought you liked Archer." Hoshi flashes the coy smile that can distract Captain Forrest from anything.

Travis just stares at her, unamused. His hands cover her shoulders, and she thinks, not for the first time, that he could snap her in half. She's seen him do as much to errant crewmen twice her size. In the face of his superior physical strength, she takes comfort in the fact that he's nowhere near as smart as she is. Not stupid, of course, and especially not as stupid as his superiors think... but she's still got a comfortable edge, and he knows it. He doesn't even despise her for it. That edge is why she trusts him, but sometimes, in brief flashes, she thinks she might want to be with him even if she didn't have the advantage.

She relents in the face of his seriousness and states the obvious. "This is different than Forrest and Archer."

"Then you should say something different."

She relaxes her predatory position and stretches out on top of him, scratching a fingernail down the side of his jaw, and employs what Archer mockingly calls her 'professor voice'. "Words can mean more than one thing, depending on context."

Hoshi says most of the things she does to other people as a form of barter, in return for something of equal or greater value. It's almost the opposite when she speaks to Travis -- with every word, she gives more and more of herself away.

She should stop, but she doesn't. In a strange violation of the laws of economics, she doesn't feel diminished for it.

She doesn't love him the way she did her mother -- with the intense, juvenile dependence that is in no way desirable to repeat -- but it is something totally different than the arrangement she has with the captain. She thinks they might, in the juvenile sense, be friends.

The only thing she wants from him is his continued presence, and she'd have that no matter what words she gives him.

Hoshi shrugs it off, because it really doesn't matter. "If it bothers you, I won't say it again."

"Probably better," Travis agrees, and pulls her chin down with his thumb before he kisses her.

She silently pulls out her mental list of grandiose future plans and adds a note. It isn't important, but she'd like to say it again, someday, when it doesn't have to mean more than one thing anymore.

Maybe, though she isn't attached -- she's never attached -- she'll even say it to him.

*end*



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