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08 June 2011 @ 02:14 pm
Fic: In a Second  
Title: In a Second
Fandom: Fairly Legal
Pairing: Kate and Justin
Rating: pg
Continuity: None. AU/crazy S.2 Spec
Type: Scifi/AU/Crack Romance

Summary: A careless driver. Kate. A secret. There was never a question which Justin would protect.

Note: Written for the Fairly Legal Promptathon. And although this is technically a crossover with V, riffing on Michael Trucco's role in both shows (as I tend to do), you don't need to know it at all. Thanks to sabaceanbabe for the beta.

Justin saw the sedan make the turn, accelerating to get through the gap in traffic. The driver didn't see him and Kate in the street, directly in his path.

He had seconds to decide.

She was holding his arm, and he used that as a lever to spin her and fling her back to the sidewalk. She yelped in outrage. But then there wasn't time to do more than take a single step backward and watch it come at him.

The car's brakes squealed, and he glimpsed the driver's horrified face. Kate yelled somewhere behind him.

Next thing he was on the sidewalk, looking up at the gray sky.

After another moment, his mind stirred back to alertness, ordering himself: Get up. You can't go to the hospital. You have to get up. Move. Move or Justin Patrick has to die.

The reminder was enough to make him try moving. First his arms and then he lifted his head. Pain sliced through him like a sharp blade -- skull, torso, back, everything hurt.

He lay back down, hissing oaths until he caught his tongue between his teeth to make himself stop.

"Stay still, mister," someone told him.

"I'm okay," Justin insisted and had to reopen his eyes, not realizing he'd shut them. Shit. Stay alert, idiot. You've got to get up. At least no one's screaming, so you're still intact. Move.

"You don't look okay," the young college kid kneeling at his side told him.

That stirred Justin to push himself upright. Another flare of pain burned his back and in his ribs. "Oh, damn," he muttered and felt the back of his head. Hair still there. Good. "Really," he insisted. "I'm okay. I got out of the way, mostly. Thanks for your concern."

"Justin!" He heard Kate's voice and glanced up, white sparks cascading across his vision at the movement. "Oh my god, don't sit up."

She seemed to be limping, he noticed with concern. "Are you okay?" he asked anxiously. "I didn't mean to throw you so hard."

"I'm fine. I lost a shoe," she said impatiently, waving it off, as she knelt on the other side and put a hand on his shoulder to push him back down. "But you -- my God, that idiot hit you. Lie down."

"He barely touched me." He resisted her push. "I'm okay, nothing's broken," he reassured her. Which wasn't true - he was pretty sure at least two ribs were broken, if the pain in his chest was any indication, but there was nothing he could do about that.

"I'm calling the ambulance. We'll have a doctor check you--" Kate pulled her phone from her bag but he wrapped his fingers around it, stopping her from calling anyone.

"No, I don't need it."

"Justin --"

"No," he repeated emphatically. "I'm fine. I need to change clothes -- " Since he could feel blood on his back, that was for sure, and he had to evaluate the damage in private. "Patch some scrapes. But that's all I need. I have court at 1:30."

Clenching his jaw tightly, he pushed to his feet, ignoring Kate's hovering hand.

Standing upright, his vision grayed out and he blinked it away, staggering a step before he caught his balance again. When had he become so fragile? Damn it, he should be tougher than this.

"Court?" Kate stared at him, incredulous. "Are you kidding me? Justin, you got hit by a car. You need to see a doctor."

"No, no doctor. I'm fine." Briefly he considered giving in, claiming he was going to the ER, and then sneaking away, but knowing Kate, she'd insist on staying with him the whole way. He had to get the hell away from here.

Patting his pockets to check he had his phone and wallet, he told her, "I'm going to my place to change clothes."

Kate still was looking at him as if he was speaking another language, which he really hoped he wasn't doing by accident, but he was having trouble pushing the pain away.

Whose brilliant idea was full skin grafting, anyway? Oh, that's right, it was yours, idiot.

Then speaking to him slowly as if he was a small child with a brain injury, Kate said, "Justin. You need to get the driver's information and report this to the police. And go to the hospital."

It was a tidy list of the things he didn't want to do. But even he could see the irony of avoiding exactly what he would advise any victim do and what the law required in an injury accident. It irked him that he would have to let the driver get away with the carelessness.

He rubbed at his eyes. "You know what? You do it, if you want. I’m going home."

Walking took every bit of concentration and energy he had. All he had to do was make it back to his apartment, repair the damage and eat, and he'd be fine. He just had to make it home first.

* * * * *

Wondering worriedly how hard he'd hit his head, Kate watched Justin walk away. His steps were slow but steady, but the back of his suit jacket was a shredded, bloody mess. He was most certainly not okay.

She accosted the driver, who'd crashed into a parked car after hitting Justin and was looking at that damage as if the smashed up side of his Honda mattered one bit, when he'd hit an actual person. "You. Your information now. You almost hit me, and you did hit him. What the hell were you thinking?"

The middle-aged man seemed a little dazed himself, and her sharp words made him jump. "Is he okay?"

"No, I don't think so, so hurry up and give me your information."

"I didn't see you - I'm so sorry. I just... didn't look," the man stammered and his hands were shaking as he tried to open his wallet. "I didn't mean to hit him. And, my god, that sound it made... I've never heard anything like it... "

She put the license and insurance information into her phone, handed Simon Travers her card, and snapped some photos of the accident and the blood smear on the sidewalk where Justin had ended up. She looked for her other shoe, but didn't see it in a fast glance around, and decided to hurry after Justin barefoot.

She kept thinking of her client who'd been in a similar car accident. He'd suffered enough brain damage to change personalities. Admittedly Justin seemed like his normal work-obsessed self, and he was walking away, so he couldn’t be that badly injured, but still, if he'd hit his head or had internal injuries, he could seem fine briefly, but then collapse and die.

The way to his building was thankfully lacking in fallen Justins, but she noticed a reddish smear on the wall approaching his door. And his front door was left wide open, something he never did.

"Justin?" she called, shutting it behind her. There was no answer.

* * * * *

In the bathroom, Justin stripped off his jacket slowly, gritting his teeth. The back had been ripped to ribbons by the pavement. His hands were shaking so much it was difficult to undo his tie and unbutton his shirt.

He stared into his reflection, trying to calm his rapid heartbeat and regain his control. You are stronger than this. Pain is a primitive instinct; control it with your mind as you were taught.

Those lessons felt like a very long time ago and applied to a different him.

They would say this is what I deserve for embracing weakness, he said silently to his reflection. But then he chuckled once, amused in spite of himself. Yeah, screw them. Let's see how they'd feel getting hit by a car.

When he peeled off the shirt, it took skin with it, so a section as large as two hands hung loose down his back, welling with pain and blood that trickled down to his pants.

The wound burned like fire, and worse, when he turned to look at it in the mirror, it was deep enough to expose the tissue underneath.

"Shit." He bent his elbow, reaching up his back, trying to put the skin back, but it wouldn't stay.

Then he heard Kate call his name, and he leaped for the bathroom door to slam it shut and lock it before she could see anything.

"Justin, open the door!" she demanded.

"I'm fine, just cleaning up," he called back.

"I can help you. I saw you're bleeding - c'mon, Justin."

"I'm okay."

She hit the door hard, making it rattle in the frame. "Open the damn door!"

"I'm fine!" he snapped irritably, wondering what he had to do to make her go away. He couldn't let her in; he couldn't let her see. He would have to wait her out. He took out his phone, planning to get Leo to draw her away with some excuse.

Then the liquid gathering in his lungs made him cough and he turned hastily to vomit in the sink. Internal blood from his injury spewed boldly green against the white porcelain, and he held his chest with one hand as the ribs shifted inside, spiking through him.

His reflection looked haggard and desperate - this was getting worse.

* * * * *

Kate heard him throwing up violently, and felt horror and panic racing through her in an instant. He was hurt, badly, and he'd locked the door. He needed help.

She glared at the door and settled herself by inhaling a deep centering breath. Then, remembering her lessons, she kicked the door as hard as she could.

The bathroom door crashed open, tearing the latch right through the frame. She watched, smiling proudly at herself. "Hell, yeah! Check that out!"

Justin turned, his expression startled.

He was shirtless, and while that would normally be something she'd enjoy seeing, her eyes strayed to the reflection in the mirror.

His back was a bloody mess of scrapes and tears and raw exposed flesh, with a scary, big flap of skin hanging loose. "Oh my God. Justin. You need a doctor, stitches - you probably need x-rays -- and -- " Then she saw it and her voice died in her throat.

Where the skin had been, there was something else. Something not muscle. Something greenish-yellow. Something wrong.

She stared. "Justin. What -- what is that?"

His expression changed; his eyes closed and his shoulders slumped. But he quickly rallied and explained in a halting voice, "I -- I have a skin condition. A rare genetic anomaly --"

She might have believed it, except he'd been too anxious to avoid the ER and the doctors. He'd practically crushed her phone with his need to stop her. She said quietly, "Justin. Don't lie to me."

He let out a breath. "I tried to keep you out. You need to turn around and walk out of here. Forget what you saw."

Which was oblique confirmation that she was right. Instead of leaving, though, she took a step closer to see better in the reflection. "It's skin," she realized. It was not human. It couldn't be human.

Her eyes met his. He'd always had such beautiful eyes. "Justin, what are you?" she asked in a whisper.

He looked away. "I can't," he refused. "I can't say. You already know too much. It's dangerous."

She narrowed her eyes at that blatant evasion. "No. You don't get to do that," she declared. "I married you. I loved you. And you've been lying to me --"

"I never lied to you," he responded defensively, moving back against the sink. "Not about anything important."

"And it's not important to mention you're not even human?" she exclaimed.

Flinching as if she'd hit him, he replied, "No! No, it's not! I live as one of you. All I've ever wanted is to live my life as a human. To build a life here. To have a family to love. To not be ... " he trailed off, eyes flickering with some deep emotion.

He sounded so sincere, so hurt, she could feel her anger slipping away. She asked, "To not be what?"

He took a moment to answer and had to swallow before admitting, "Alone."

She shook her head in confusion, not able to figure out what to do. This was nothing she knew what to do with. Leo would know. Suddenly all his games and movies seemed smarter than her law books. "You -- you're from another planet? Seriously?"

Justin hesitated for a long time but since the truth was so obvious in the mirror, he didn't bother with a pretense. "Yes. I've been here, living in secret, trying to blend in. I can't let humans know what I am, and I'm a refugee from my own people."

He abruptly turned and threw up again. She had a glimpse of pale greenish fluid before he washed it down the drain. Then he splashed water on his face and stared at himself in the mirror "Sometimes I forget I wasn't born one of you," he murmured. "I know that must sound ridiculous, but it's true. Most of the time I don't think I’m different. It's been such a long time."

"How -- how long?" she asked.

"Thirty years. We grafted the human skin on so it became a part of us - altered ourselves - intending a peaceful contact. Then... it all went to hell," he murmured and shook his head at the dark memory. He swayed, losing his balance, before he caught himself on the sink.

"Justin? Are you okay?"

"I'll heal," he said. He twisted a hand up his back to try to put the loose skin back.

Reflexively she reached out to help him. Her fingers touched that strange under-skin and flinched away. It was soft and slick and slightly ridged, and it did not feel human at all. "Oh god."

He turned quickly to put his back to the wall so she couldn't touch it. "Sorry. I -- I'm sorry, Kate." He let out a sigh, looking pale and defeated. "You don't have to do anything. I'll take care of it."

She shook her head and laid a hand on the outer curve of his shoulder to caress down his arm lightly. He still felt like Justin to her fingers.

He shrugged her off. "Don't. You shouldn't."

His attempts to push her away were starting to annoy her. It was as if he expected her to be some delicate flower who would faint at the first sign of something strange. Even though it was obvious to her that, while Justin's claim of being born in San Mateo was a lie, the essential Justin-ness of him was intact. The fact that he was trying so hard to convince her otherwise confirmed it. "Are you still the Justin I ate lunch with an hour ago?" she asked.

His eyes were hurt, flicking toward her. "Yes."

She smiled and grabbed his hand between both of hers. He wasn't wearing his ring, and she rubbed the spot with her thumb. "Then why shouldn't I want to help you? You're hurt. You got hurt saving me. So unless touching you is ... poisonous or something weird, let me help."

"You shouldn't know about this," he insisted, looking rather adorably confused that she wasn't throwing things or trying to call in the army, or whatever scenario he'd built in his head.

"Too late for that. I already know," she pointed out. "Let me help."

His eyes flickered to the broken door, and he surrendered to the inevitable. "Okay. Put the skin back in place, and put gauze over it. It'll knit on its own."

"Really? No stitches? Cool." she asked, impressed. He sat on the toilet and turned away. She smoothed up his back, carefully and gently putting the torn flesh back where it was supposed to lay. He held himself still and tense, jaw tight as she worked, flinching as she touched the raw wound by accident while laying the gauze pads on top. The wound had mostly stopped bleeding, which helped.

He lasted until she taped the gauze edges, and then rose to puke up green stuff again. "Justin. That doesn't look good. You might have internal injuries."

"If it's more serious than I can heal on my own, there's nothing I can do about it," he answered calmly.

She was going to protest, but stopped. He was an alien, living in secret. Of course he couldn’t go to the ER and have normal surgery. She hesitated, and asked, "But maybe you could find a doctor who could keep a secret?"

He shook his head before she finished. "No. Even if I thought a human doctor could help, I can't risk it. One word in the wrong place would get me killed. Hell, if it went too public, it might put the whole planet in danger."

He would be killed? The whole planet was in danger? She swallowed in dismay. Then she realized what else that meant, and her heart caught. "And yet, you stood in front of a car, knowing it was going to hit you. You risked everything to make sure I was all right."

"Of course I did," he answered as if it was an impossibility to think anything else. "No matter what you think about me now, my feelings are the same. I love you -- I've always loved you. And I'm not going to stand by and watch you get killed to save myself."

"Justin..." she started to say, hand to her throat, unable to speak as her eyes prickled with heat.

He pretended not to notice, turning to rinse his mouth and grab a towel to dry his face. When he turned back to her, his expression was more guarded, but he looked better. "Thank you," he told her and looked tempted to kiss her before he thought better of it. "I -- well, there are some things I have to do now to get ready to go."

"What?" she asked blankly. "Go where? Back to work?"

"No. To the bank; to HR at work to file for leave." He moved past her into the bedroom and took out a new set of more casual clothes. Stripping off the bloodied trousers, he grimaced and added, "And put my clothes in the incinerator."

She followed him, frowning. "What are you talking about? Where are you going?"

His expression was sad, as he put a foot into his clean khakis. "I have to leave. Justin Patrick's life is over; it's time to move on."

"What- what - no- Justin --" she stammered, unable to find the right words, so shocked by his. "You don't have to go."

"You know the truth," he said. "I tried to keep you out, but you wouldn't. So now I have to start again. Someplace far from here. And you --" he drew in a breath and said, "And you have to forget Justin Patrick ever existed."

"I can't do that," she refused. "No. Justin, you don't have to go. You're talking like you think I would tell. I would never tell anyone, I swear. And I'm the only one who knows."

He shook his head stubbornly and then said, with no little frustration, "It's not as if we're together anyway, and now you know you didn't even marry someone human. You should want me gone."

She wasn't sure what she wanted but she was sure she didn't want that. She'd never wanted that, not really. "No. You're the one who wants us to split up," she retorted.

His eyes widened in incredulity and he shook his head at her, hands frozen before fastening his pants. "What? You filed for divorce in the first place."

"We were barely seeing each other. Arguing when we did. And you didn't try to contest it."

"What was I supposed to do?" he demanded. "Fight to make you stay if you wanted out? How does that make sense? Besides, I know what I am, and I knew someday it would force an ending anyway."

"You were so sure I can't handle the truth?" she accused. "How can you think so little of me?"

"I'm not some illegal with a fake social security number, Kate. You have no idea what I really am," he said impatiently. He raised his hand between them, palm toward his own face, and twitched his arm in a peculiar way. Like something out of a horror movie or a very large cat, each finger sprouted vicious-looking long nails. They were narrow and pointed, claws not nails.

She managed to keep from leaping backwards, but it was a close thing as her heart jumped to a much faster rhythm. But she knew she couldn't back down now, or she would lose him. Licking her lips, she raised her eyes back to his face. He looked grimly satisfied that he had shocked her. "What are you trying to do?" she asked softly. "Make me afraid of you? You stood in front of a car for me, I'm not going to believe you would ever hurt me."

"No, I'm trying to show you I'm not who you thought I was. I am a fake, and a monster," he told her with savage self-loathing, "and I should never have gotten involved with you in the first place. I knew it would end badly, I knew it -- it always does," he finished bitterly.

"You are not a monster." To prove she believed it, she walked to him again and deliberately reached out for his hand. He let her take it, not retracting the claws, watching as she examined the hand and claws curiously. The claws had come out beneath his nails, an inch long and sharp. Then she put that palm against her cheek. "You are still Justin," she murmured. "I'm not afraid of you."

She felt his hand twitch as he pulled the claws back and his fingertips settled softly on her skin. "You -- you're crazy, you know that?" he asked, his voice breaking. "Any normal person would run screaming if their husband was an alien freak."

She smiled at him and teased, "Don't be silly. Now I understand why you're so strange sometimes. It explains a lot." She slid her hands around his waist, careful of the bandages, and laid her head on his bare chest. He held very still as if she was some wild animal he couldn't risk spooking. She could feel him breathing and when she concentrated, she could hear the beat of his heart under her ear. It was the same as it had always been - if it was different from a human's, she couldn’t tell.

At first he didn't move and he didn't touch her back, but then his hand settled on her head, stroking her hair. "Kate. You can't pretend nothing's changed. You know the truth, and you can't take it back. I'm not human. I was born of a race that travels the stars, and underneath this adopted flesh is something a little closer to a reptile than a primate. My people are cold and orderly and I'm one of the few who learned how to feel love and empathy. I do try, even if sometimes I fail at it."

She heard the trace of hurt, from memories of old arguments and now understood why her calling him heartless had cut him so deeply. She caressed his sides and found she didn't care that the smooth skin wasn't the skin he'd been born in; it was familiar and she knew he felt her touch. "You have a belief in the system, Justin, but that doesn't mean you don't care about people. You do. I know that, even when I'm mad at you for not doing what I want. And you might be an alien, but you're not a heartless monster," she murmured. "You're a good man." Then she stopped and looked up, reconsidering her choice of words. "Is that insulting? It seems very ... human-ocentric."

He chuckled and his arms finally wrapped around her in a tight hug. "It's fine. That's what I want to be."

That didn't seem right to her. It was common for immigrants to try to shed all trace of where they'd been to assimilate, but she thought Julie's family had handled it better, not leaving all of Korea behind. It seemed like it should be true for outer space immigrants, too. "But... you don't have to live a lie, not when I know the truth. It must be hard on you," she frowned in sudden concern. "I mean, living in secret like that, every day. That stress. So if there's something,I don't know, some part of your culture you want to follow that you've kept from me, I want you to feel comfortable," she told him. "I want to learn about it. I want you to be... you."

She felt his breath on her hair and then he inhaled deeply, as if drawing her scent in. "I shouldn't," he said, but the temptation in his voice gave her hope. "I know I shouldn't. It's dangerous."

"Justin." She framed his face with both hands to angle it down to hers. "Trust me. I would never betray you. We'll start over. And this time, we'll spend real time together, and we'll actually talk like real people do. I want to try."

He gave a sigh and then smiled. "I guess I can always run away later."

She chuckled. "That's the spirit." She tugged, drawing him down, and twined her arms around his neck. Their lips met, familiar as always, and the tingle passed right down to her toes. She'd never had anyone's touch make her feel all that his did; from the very first moment their lips had met, she'd wanted more. He at first seemed stunned that she would dare, before leaning into the kiss, and his hands slid down her hips to hold her tightly.

"My feelings haven't changed either. I still love you," she murmured, breaking apart to look into his eyes but keeping her hands on his shoulders. "And I don't want you to leave. Not for divorcing, not for alienness, not for anything. I want us to make it, Justin."

"Even if it's never worked before?" he asked, still wary.

"There's always a first time. And they weren't us." Smiling, she let her fingers rub the soft hairs at the nape of his neck. "So, how about we negotiate intergalactic peace, right here? Or at least a little private mediation?"

His smile was slow but full of wonder. "You are amazing," he whispered and bent to kiss her again.

Hearing that out of the mouth of someone who had been born on another planet and traveled between the stars made her grin, and she muttered against his lips, "You're pretty amazing yourself."

But then she was lost in his lips and the touch of his hands, and she decided none of that mattered.


I hope you enjoyed the crack! :)
Une Frakkante Cylonne: Samders- beauty shot- geekbynight.sunshine_queen on June 8th, 2011 10:12 pm (UTC)
I loved the crack! Any Justin/Kate fic is delightful. (I kept thinking how poor Trucco can't just play a normal guy, because apparently my brain adopted this immediately as canon.)
lizardbeth: Facing Katelizardbeth_j on June 9th, 2011 06:06 am (UTC)
hee, thanks!

I KNOW RITE? cuz yeah, it amuses me to think of this actually happening in S.2. Since it could. New showrunner" "We knew we had to shake things up!" and poor Trucco looking at the script, all "Damn it,they told me I was going to be human!" Sorry, dude. JUSTIN IS ACTUALLY SECRETLY AN ALIEN REFUGEE

I like the show, but that would make it SPECTACULAR.
entertaining in a disturbing way: Anders sweetlyssie on June 10th, 2011 02:46 am (UTC)
*cackles* I love this. I think it's sort of epic that you can make Trucco a sekrit alien anytime you want. =D
lizardbeth: Determined Spiritslizardbeth_j on June 11th, 2011 02:21 am (UTC)
heh, Who knew that a single episode of a mostly unwatchable reboot series would be so inspirational?