spock: logic is sexy

Fic: Scars Like Maps (Madeline, gen)

Title: Scars Like Maps
Author: igrockspock
Character: Madeline (see my icon for reference)
Rating: PG
Summary: Scars are the most valuable thing Madeline has. Too bad Starfleet doesn't understand that.
Notes: For where_no_woman's latest drabble fest. Come read and write if you haven't already!

Madeline awakens slowly, exploring the scents and sounds around her before she opens her eyes, just as her elders had taught her. Antiseptic predominates, though it is not quite strong enough to cover the odor of blood and burnt plastic. Above her, she hears a steady beep like a heart monitor; in the distance, the hiss of hyposprays and muted voices. She is in sickbay then, and if there are no shouts or running feet, the crisis has passed. She must have been here a long time.

Still, she does not open her eyes; she will not until she remembers how she arrived here. No doubt she is safe, but the teachings of her people are strong, and it is better not to announce her consciousness until she has as much information as she can. One by one, she relaxes the muscles of her body, willing her memory to return. There had been sparks and a sudden eruption of fire from her console. She had stared, dazed by the smoke, all her training forgotten until Uhura had pulled her away from the burning station. Her arm had been hurt. Tentatively, she reaches toward it.

"Arm's just fine," a voice says beside her bed.

She starts. She ought not to have allowed someone to approach her without her knowledge; her mother had taught her better than that. But the rules are not the same in Starfleet, she reminds herself, and there are no predators in sickbay. The brown eyes staring down at her are kind.

Gently, he pulls back the sleeve of her hospital gown.

"See, not even a scar."

She breathes fast, eyes blinking rapidly before she remembers that humans interpret these as signs of distress rather than anger.

"You had a big scare. We all did," the man says reassuringly. "But you're all right now."

Her fury burns brighter, but she keeps her voice level and asks carefully, "there is no scar?"

She stares at him, willing him to recognize the mistake. He studies her face as she had hoped he would, eyes tracing the intricate pattern of scars that decorate her skin. They tell the story not only of her own life, but the lives of her whole clan for fifteen generations.

He closes his eyes and runs a hand over his face in a human gesture of embarrassment.

"Shit," he mutters. "I'm sorry."

His eyes meet hers only reluctantly. A weak man, she thinks, weak and rude and arrogant. She hates him and his false human belief that he can make bodies better by making them perfect.

"The information is in my chart and your medical textbook," she says, refusing to drop her eyes from his. She knows; the Starfleet recruiter had reassured her of it, and she and her mother had verified it independently before submitting her application. Treat wounds but avoid regenerating scars, it said, as scars are culturally significant to the Ma'Windi people. Culturally significant. It is a grave understatement. Scars are the story of who her people are, how they are connected to the generations. She had known she would surrender pieces of herself to join Starfleet, many of them dear to her. She had not considered that she would lose the opportunity to point to her scars and tell her grandchildren her story or to have it woven into the pattern on her clan's faces. It is as if her past has been deleted from the memory of future generations.

"Ensign..." he fumbles for a name.

"Madeline," she says, offering him the Terran name she had chosen for humans' convenience.

"Ensign Madeline, if there is anything I can do to make this right..."

She studies his face carefully, taking in the dark shadows beneath his eyes, the thick stubble coating his cheeks. Human faces did not have scars, but they told stories. His told of exhaustion, desperate battles to save lives. Her story ought not have been a casualty, but then, if not for this man's care, she and many of her companions might be dead. She will offer him the opportunity to redeem himself.

"The matter can be remedied," she says. "Please bring me a knife."

They both wince when she cuts herself; him because he cannot bear to see pain without trying to erase it, she because her original story has been lost. Still, she will leave her with a story on her body. It will remind her that she almost gave her life in the Battle of Vulcan, that she was strong enough to mark herself when humans failed to allow her the scars she deserved...and, she supposes, that the human who erased her scar was strong enough to watch her get it back, even though it pained him.
So very well done. We all carry our history with us, but so many of us hide them inside. This is a wonderful reminder that in this vast, wide universe, we are all different and we can not 'see' others in the context of our own lives.

Again, very well done.
I am a giant sap, because betwixt my adoration of Madeline for being so awesomely herself and of you for creating a whole people in a few paragraphs, I'm relieved that she gives McCoy a chance to redeem himself, he takes it and she sees that.
Thank you! I kind of wish I had built up McCoy's part of the story some more, but I have such difficulty writing his character...
Really? I like how it is right now! Watching McCoy's eyes as he treats the Vulcan elders in sickbay tells me the entire story of his attitude toward pain and suffering (I mean, he gives Jim painful injections, but that is to alleviate the worse pain of missing out on space). In this piece, I get to hear "Madeline's" story.
This is wonderful. Gorgeous world-building in so few words. I love the tense feeling between Madeline and McCoy, and the fact that they can both recognize the painful second chance at the end.
This is such a powerful piece. I love the idea of the scars and what they stand for, and I'm glad they both found a measure of redemption at the end.
Fascinating, intricate emotionalism in tiny paragraphs. As always, I am in awe of your ability to convey so much in such relatively few words. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Wonderful story! You really add a LOT of depths to someone only fleetingly seen, and it works wonderfully!

*squeeeee* Love the ending.

she supposes, that the human who erased her scar was strong enough to watch her get it back

I think that's a great lesson and one that might well come back next time he's in such a situation. McCoy does have an Earth-centric focus, and that will probably never really go away (afais most doctors would have that problem with most other cultures that have a different view on body, scars and the like) but he's got to learn to keep it in check.
Thank you! I do imagine that McCoy might have been more thoughtful if not in the middle of a battle, but it was interesting to explore the kinds of mistakes he might make with regard to other cultures. The amount of knowledge involved in being a doctor in this time period must be staggering.
Oh, wonderful cultural background. I enjoyed reading this. :-)
Hi, I'm here from st_reboot. I must say this rocks. It's short but chock full of goodness. Your story is one of many examples why I'm a fangirl. You've given depth to a character we've only seen for but a moment. Now when I watch the movie again and see 'Madeline' I'll think of this story and wonder who else (meaning other non-Terran/Earth beings) have such a story to tell. And when I see McCoy I'll think of how he grows as a Doctor of non-Terran beings as well. Cheers!
Oh man, this is a really great story. I loved how you developed Madeline's character, and the view we got on McCoy, because it felt very true to him--that he'd make that mistake in the middle of the battle, and he'd do what he could to put it right.