She's not my mother.
That probably shouldn't be the first thought to go through Dana Sterling's mind when Miriya pushed herself forward, took Dana by the shoulders, and kissed her.
Maybe it was her brain trying to protect her from the immediate revulsion that being kissed like this by a parent should illicit. If so, good job Brain, she didn't feel any of that. The downside of which meant it took her a whole ten seconds of inaction before she broke the kiss, pushing Miriya off of her.
It was a little harder than she expected. Miriya wasn't forceful, exactly, but… insistent. And she was strong.
"Miriya, we can't!"
"Why not, Dana Sterling?" The zentraedi was still leaning toward her. "Is this not the great treasure my people joined the humans for? Kissing?"
There was an unmistakable bitterness in Miriya's eyes, which matched the bitter taste on Dana's tongue.
"You've been drinking."
"A bit." Miriya didn't deny it. "But it takes more than a few ounces of alcohol to impair a zentraedi warrior."
Dana grimaced. "So you say."
"You didn't answer my question." Miriya moved closer, invading Dana's space.
Dana leaned away from her. "We're family. You can't do that kind of thing with family."
Thankfully, that got Miriya to back off, retreating to her side of the couch.
She scoffed. "Family. That's a human concept."
"I am not your mother, Dana. Nor will I be."
"But you're a version of her."
"I cannot be the person you want me to be!"
Dana grit her teeth. Miriya wasn't wrong, and that was the problem. This person in front of her was not the mother who had given birth to her, not the woman who had raised her for seven years, nor the soldier who had left her behind on Earth. And she was too young to be the woman Dana met again on the SDF-3, who had traveled to distant planets with her father, who had embraced her but never truly known her, who had failed to come home and instead replaced her with a new daughter in space.
The woman sitting with her, this Miriya, was younger than Dana. That didn't help. Where Max, at least, was in a position of authority that helped her ignore his youthful face, Miriya was Dana's responsibility, sometimes acting more like a rebellious child than a responsible adult. Max still reminded her of her father. It was so much harder to convince her brain this Miriya was anything like her mother.
"It's still wrong." Dana tried to echo the voice in her head. The one that sounded like Nova Satori rattling off rules and regulations. It was easier to fall back on a simple "it's wrong because the rules say so" than to try to navigate her tempestuous feelings right now.
"If it is wrong…" Miriya's hard, bitter expression morphed into something else. She looked lost. Confused. Vulnerable. And angry at herself for feeling any of that. "...Then why does it feel so much better to kiss you than it does to kiss Max Sterling?"
Dana didn't have an answer. And she couldn't look Miriya in the eyes either. She stared down at her hands, clenched into tight fists on her knees, while a long moment of silence stretched between them.
Finally, Miriya sighed. She stood up from the couch slowly. "I will not push you, Dana Sterling. I am sorry for kissing you. It will not happen again."
Dana didn't move until Miriya left the room and she hears Miriya's bedroom door close. She let out a breath she had been holding and fell limp on the couch, covering her face.
Did it have to feel so good? And was she really so starved for affection that a kiss from Miriya, of all people, was almost enough to bring her to tears? God, how long had it actually been since she'd been kissed like that? The math on that was easy, if depressing. It had been thirteen years from Dana's perspective, and it had been with Nova.
Then she had to push those thoughts from her head before she thought of Nova in earnest and really started crying. Nova. Zor. Sean. Marie. Even Angie. When she let herself think of them the grief in her heart was overwhelming. So she tried to keep those thoughts locked up.
Right now she wished she could do that with all of her feelings. If Miriya just felt like her mother, this wouldn't be a problem. She would feel properly disgusted at the thought of Miriya's soft lips pressing up against hers, and that would be that, but instead they were twisted and confused. And logic wasn't doing her any good either, since logically she knew this Miriya wasn't her mother no matter how genetically identical. All she could rely on was the tiny Nova in her brain telling her "no, that's still your mom, it's not allowed."
She curled into herself, hugging her knees. "For one thing, how would I even explain that to Bowie?" She asked herself while Tiny Nova nodded along. "I'm his guardian, I need to set a good example for him. Which includes not kissing alternate universe versions of my mom."
It felt like a cop out. Like she was looking for an easy no so she wouldn't have to think about it further. But she really didn't want to have to think about it further.
Things would probably be a little awkward between her and Miriya for a bit, and then eventually it would pass. That was Dana's resolution.
And then she closed her eyes. And for one single, selfish moment, she let herself remember just the sensation. Nothing else about who it was or under what circumstances. Just the sensation of being kissed like that after so long.