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10 November 2009 @ 02:20 pm
The Thread of Ariadne, Ch. 3  
Chapter Three





They entered through the front door of her apartment, and Kara kicked it shut with her foot, hands twined around his neck, while their mouths met wetly. Sam had a hand on the back of her thigh, like he'd started to lift her leg around him and then forgotten.

He moved backward, automatically seeking some kind of horizontal surface, too occupied with her to realize there were stairs.

She grabbed him as he started to fall backward. "Frak!" His other hand snapped forward to grab her arm as his foot missed a tread and hit the second. For a second his greater weight pulled against her, and she feared they'd tumble down the whole flight. But he caught his balance with a knee hard on the top step, and in a moment he was staring up at her, breathing hard.

"Stairs? Going down? Whose stupid frakking idea was that?" he demanded.

She shrugged. "It was cheap. We can't all have fancy houses in the Heights," she said with a nudge as she picked her way around him. "I'll show you around."

He followed her down to the floor level, where one of the mandala paintings was hanging on the wall. He paused before it, frowning, and said, "I've seen this before."

"It was that dream where we frakked in the old temple," she reminded him, and then realized how stupid she sounded, reminding a dream of another dream. She paused for a moment, expecting to wake up now that she'd realized this was another one of the dreams.

But her apartment persisted, and Sam persisted, still looking at the painting. He reached out to touch it lightly, his attention entirely too focused on it. She poked him in the side. "Right here. Remember me?"

He turned, grinning, his hand raised. She saw that his fingertips were covered with paint -- red, blue, and yellow. Before she could react, he'd swept a finger down her nose and left a streak of yellow.

"Hey!" she yelped and shoved him into the wall, against the painting. He laughed and swiped blue and red across her cheek and shoulder, and so she put a hand into the wet paint behind him. Since his shirt was somehow miraculously not there anymore, she wiped her hand all over his chest, leaving swirls of color.

Then, somewhat light-headed from the fumes or just his nearness, she leaned into him and kissed him hard. He took hold of her hips and held her on her toes, against the bulk of his body, as her fleet tanks got paint all over them.

They ended up on the floor, their clothes heedlessly pitched away. She was on her back, looking up at his colorful skin and the dangling pair of dog tags, while she had one foot wrapped around his waist to open herself for the hand he had between her legs.

"This is a dream," Kara murmured against his mouth, ignoring how it felt so real.

"Is it?" he asked before lowering his head to kiss her neck and collarbone slowly, absently, most of his concentration going to the rhythm of his fingers stroking her arousal.

"You're dead," she protested, breathlessly. "You're dead, Sam."

"You sure know how to break the mood," he teased, but it didn't really seem broken as his lips tugged on her breast. That and a particularly firm touch on her clit was enough to send her shuddering, the knot in her lower belly unwinding in an instant.

"This is all in my head. Just a dream."

As she caught her breath, his head lifted to look into her face. He was smiling. "You don't believe any of that."

Her hand went to his cheek and the purplish smear there. "Are you alive?" she demanded. "Tell me, Sam. I have to know."

"If it's all in your head, whatever I say won't matter, will it?" he returned, smile widening.

"Just tell me!" she shoved at his shoulder, not hard enough to dislodge him, but enough to make her point. Then she wrapped both legs around him to bring him on top of her tight and close, not willing to let go.

He chuckled. "Yes, I'm alive. You're alive. We're all alive," he answered and he pushed inside her.

Gods, she could not get enough of the feel of him, stretching her with every snap of his hips. Kara encouraged him, wanting him to go faster, but he seemed to want only to frak her slow and maddening. "C'mon, baby, you can do better than this."

"Patience," he chided and teased, "Gotta make it good, being dead and all."

She whacked him on the shoulder, but it didn't stop him. Soon patience paid off, as his slow pace raised the feeling higher and higher, until her whole body suddenly seized up around him. She gasped, unable to catch her breath, feeling the heat rise out of her. "Oh gods, oh gods, Sammy!" She arched up into him, reduced to an inarticulate moan, and he followed, freezing deep with a gasp torn from the bottom of his lungs, and then faltered into quick thrusts to finish off.

"Oh, frak me dead," he whispered and bent to kiss her sweaty brow and the side of her face. "Kara..."

She stopped him with a hand on his chest. The paint was still wet and she traced a red line up the middle to the hollow of his throat. Then she realized how much it looked like blood. "Sam, are you hurt?" she asked, a sudden anxiety clutching at her heart. "Tell me where you are, so I can find you."

His free hand smoothed her hair from her face gently, blue eyes soft with love and understanding. "You're so brave. But there's nothing you can do, baby. I'm where I have to be, and so are you. Our paths will cross again soon."

His lips touched hers to seal his promise, and she kept her eyes closed as he pulled away, knowing that if she opened them, she would be awake and he would be gone.

* * *

Kara sat at the table with Duck, Helo and Sharon, playing cards. Tigh came in, looking unshaven and already drunk. Kara had heard about Ellen, and as much as she didn't get along with Tigh on the best of days, she had some sympathy for what he was feeling. "Hey, Colonel, pull up a chair."

He looked at the table and sneered, going to sit with Kat and Chopper instead. "Rather sit at a table not so full." His single eye on Sharon made it clear he meant her and all her friends.

Helo stiffened, but Sharon put a hand on his arm. "Your turn," she murmured, forcibly turning his attention back to the game.

But Tigh wasn't done complaining as he poured himself a shot from the bottle on the table. "You seen the lineup at the head? Frakking civilians think they run the ship now."

"Beats what we had before," Hotdog said, from the third table, where he sat with Racetrack and Ninja. "Ship was a tomb."

"You want to know what alone feels like, try spending a few weeks in a Cylon cell," Tigh spat at him.

Kara's heart lurched in her chest, looking at Tigh and his missing eye, and imagining Sam somewhere out there, going on five months in a cell, if D'Anna had been telling the truth to Boomer and Athena.

Kara poured more into her own cup and swallowed half of it before responding, keeping her tone level. "Yeah, it was a bitch all around. You try coming up with a plan to rescue your sorry asses with no pilots."

Chopper snorted. "Oh, it was so rough up here, was it? Hot showers, three squares a day?" And some other pilots at the fourth table, ones who'd been on New Caprica, nodded and murmured in agreement.

Helo and Duck exchanged a worried look. "Hey," Duck said, trying to diffuse the sudden tension, "we all made sacrifices."

"Is that so?" Tigh challenged.

"Yeah, that's so," Helo answered.

"Oh, really? While you were up here pinning wings on toasters, our people were strapping homemade bombs to their chests. So forgive me if I don't get all misty over your sacrifices."

Then Kara was done with holding back. Furious about how he was making it sound like the fleet personnel had been sitting around drinking ambrosia all the time, Kara jumped to her feet, ignoring Duck's murmured caution, and stood in front of Tigh. "Sacrifice? You think you're the only one who sacrificed? Frak you. At least Sam's not gone because he was a traitor."

Barolay had passed on what Hilliard had told her -- Ellen had died because she'd betrayed the resistance to the Cylons.

The shot hit him and he surged up from his seat. "Shut up!" He took a swing at her, and she danced back out of the way.

"Colonel!" Kat tried to hold him back, but he shook her off.

"Truth hurts, doesn't it, Colonel?" Kara taunted. "That your own sacrifice was because she sold you out?"

"No! Never!" he roared and came at her again.

But by then, Karl and Duck and Ninja were there, holding them apart. "Kara, out!" Karl ordered her.

She resisted for a moment, just so Tigh would be sure she wasn't leaving because she was afraid of him, and then turned on her heel and left. Out in the main corridor, walking to clear her head, she had to push past civilians chatting. "One side, people," she snapped. "Don't block the corridor."

They moved and she kept walking. Halfway to the hangar bay, she let out a sigh, feeling a niggling guilt inside for poking him so hard. Damn it. What had happened to her that she was feeling sorry for the frakking colonel?

"Captain! Captain Thrace?" a sudden voice calling behind her made her turn. She scanned the crowd and found a familiar woman approaching.

"Julia?" Kara asked, looking behind her for the girls.

"Oh, thank the gods, I was hoping to find you. They're with some friends," Julia explained, understanding Kara's look. "But that's what I wanted to ask you about. Have you heard anything about the other girl? If she has family? I keep trying to ask the officers who wander in occasionally, but they brush me off. It's been two weeks, and I get the feeling she's been forgotten. I don't mind taking care of her for a little while, but if she has family, it would be better for everyone."

"Right," Kara nodded. "Well, I haven't heard anything, but then, I'm not assigned to anything with the refugees." But Julia's face fell in disappointment, and Kara figured that if she couldn't be drinking and playing cards, maybe she could do something useful. "You know what? I hear Sickbay is quieter these days. Maybe Doctor Cottle can figure out something. He has records of all the fleet births. So what do we say we pick up the girl and head over there?"

Julia's smile was sudden and bright, making Kara glad that she'd offered.

Kara followed Julia back toward the hangar bay. "You're in the hangar?" she asked, somewhat horrified at the thought of two little girls living there, among the fuel and fumes and noise.

Julia shrugged. "They cordoned off a corner for us. There's nowhere else, I guess. At least we have cots and blankets and toilets we can use."

"Well, I'll talk to Captain Kelly and see if we can get you moved someplace else. Little kids shouldn't be on the deck." Kara realized what she'd previously thought was a pile of crates in the corner was actually a wall, hiding a group of refugees.

It was crowded and it smelled, but at least it seemed organized with the cots arranged in rows and worn sheets hung on lines as low privacy curtains. Julia wound her way through with practiced ease, finding a particular cot and two little girls. The blonde one, Kacey, smiled at her mom and ran to meet her. The other was perched on the lap of an older woman, and she turned her little curly-haired head with mild interest.

Kara wondered if it was just her imagination that the little girl seemed to brighten a touch at the sight of her.

Julia explained the situation to the other woman quickly and picked up the little girl in her arms. "I feel terrible not knowing her name," she confessed to Kara. "I think that's almost the worst part about this. If I just knew her name..."

Kara touched the dark curls. "Yeah, let's go find out your name. We'll go see Doc Cottle - and I gotta warn you, he's grumpy as all hell, and he smokes like a chimney, but he's got a big heart. So don't you worry. Let's go find out if you've got a mom or a dad or a second cousin twice-removed in this fleet someplace."

Kacey refused to let her mother leave her again, and Kara took her hand to lead her out. One of the marines tried to bar them from going out that way and she stared him down. "These people are going to Sickbay, marine. You want me to tell Gunny Mathias you tried refusing the command of a superior officer and you held two little girls at gunpoint?"

"No, sir, of course not," he returned and stepped out of the way.

After they went past, Julia wrinkled her nose and glared at his back. Kara chuckled and called out loudly enough to be heard, "They're all so frakking humorless." Then she realized the two little girls were right there and fixed her language, "Fucking humorless, I should've said. Sorry."

Julia smiled and shook her head, "I'm sure they've both heard worse."

In Sickbay Ishay was helping someone who seemed to have hurt their arm. She glanced over. "Starbuck? What's wrong?"

She shook her head. "Nothing urgent. But we need a moment of the Doc's time, when he's free. There's a little kid we need his help to identify."

Ishay nodded. "He's in surgery right now, so it might be awhile. But as long as you stay out of the way, you can wait. If you want. Or try back later."

"We'll wait," Julia said. Ishay shrugged and went back to what she was doing. Julia said in answer to Kara's glance, "Like we've got anywhere else to be."

Kacey started to get bored and Kara sneaked tongue depressors off the cart to let her play with them.

"You don't have to wait," Julia said once. "I appreciate your help getting us this far. But I'm sure you have more important things to do."

"Not really. I'll have to get back to my rack eventually, but for now, it's fine. This way, I can make sure you get the doc's attention."

Eventually, Cottle came out of the adjoining room, stripping off his outer scrubs. Ishay intercepted him and nodded over toward the little gathering in the corner. He started their way. "Starbuck. Another orphan?"

"Hopefully not," she said and gestured to the little girl, who was now asleep on Julia's shoulder. "She has to have been born in the Fleet, so we hoped you'd know who she is."

"Well, I can take a look, and a DNA sample if necessary, and --" his words faltered to a stop as soon as he got a good look at her face. "Gods, I thought she was dead," he muttered.

"You know who she is?" Julia asked eagerly. "Does she have family?"

"Her-- her mother, Maya, was killed in the exodus, I'm told," Cottle said after a moment. "Maya was helping the president in her schoolroom on New Caprica. Roslin'll be very relieved that little Isis is still alive."

"Isis?" Julia repeated and smiled. "Hello, Isis," she murmured to the sleeping little girl. "Does she have family other than her mother?"

Cottle hesitated and he glanced away, frowning. "I -- I don't know," he answered. "Possibly the president knows. I'll inform her of this, and - and find out what she wants to do," he added, the words coming reluctantly from his mouth.

"'What she wants to do?'" Julia repeated, confused. "What do you mean?"

Cottle shook himself. "She was fond of the girl, that's all," he said brusquely. "Is she healthy?"

"She's fine," Julia answered, still frowning a little at the doctor.

Kara added, "I'm going to ask Kelly to get them off the hangar deck. That can't be good for kids."

"Definitely not. Well, if none of you are hurt or sick, you don't belong here. Starbuck, I'll let you know what Roslin has to say," he said in blunt dismissal and went into his office.

Kara took a sleepy Kacey up on her hip, and the two women left. "Why would President Roslin take such an interest in Isis?" Julia asked in confusion.

"I guess because she knew her." Kara shrugged. "But that's good, I think. If Isis does have relatives or people she knows, the president can find them for her."

Julia nodded, still seeming a bit puzzled by the attention, but accepted it. They started back toward the hangar bay, and Kara saw a tall familiar shape ahead of them. "Helo!"

He heard her voice and stopped for them. He saw Kara carrying the girl, and grinned. "Got something to tell me, Starbuck?"

"Shut up," she told him. "How's the colonel?"

His amusement slipped away. "Drunk." His gaze fell on Julia and he shrugged. "Trying to do what he was doing before. I'm going to report to the Old Man."

She nodded, understanding what he wasn't saying in front of the civilian. "Figures. Helo, this is Julia Brynn, her daughter Kacey, and, uh, foster daughter Isis. Julia, this is Captain Agathon."

They exchanged pleasantries, but Kara saw how his eyes lingered on the two sleeping girls, especially Isis. He told Julia in a slightly strangled voice, "You're very lucky. Excuse me." He moved off quickly, leaving Julia staring after him and probably wondering if the entire Fleet had no manners.

Kara explained in a low voice, "His own daughter died soon after she was born last year. I should've thought about that before introducing you."

"No, that's okay," Julia said. "I understand." She smoothed Kacey's hair gently.

"I'll bring you back to your racks, so the girls can sleep."

Their path followed Helo's for a little while, so Julia saw when Sharon met him down the corridor. Julia stopped, staring, for a moment, obviously recognizing a Cylon. "What? How can one of them be here?"

"It's all right," Kara reassured her. "Sharon left the Cylons a long time ago. She's the one who got the launch keys so the ships could take off from New Caprica. She married Helo."

"Oh," Julia's eyes were huge as she watched Sharon and Karl walking together before they disappeared toward their quarters. "It was their baby who died."

"Yeah, she was really devastated."

"Well, of course," Julia said, as if it was self-evident. "I didn't know Cylons could have babies."

"Hera was the only one," Kara told her. "The Cylons believe only their love was strong enough to make it possible."

Julia stared at the space they'd been for a little while. Kara could practically see the switch in Julia's head flip Sharon from enemy to friend. "Wow. It's like a storybook, isn't it -- two enemies brought together by love?" she asked, when they resumed walking. "It must be very hard for her, fighting her own kind and the humans who hate her just for being one of them. And then losing her baby. That’s awful.”

Kara glanced at her with surprise. "I don't think I've ever heard anyone express that kind of sympathy for Sharon, especially someone who hasn't even met her."

Julia looked surprised at her surprise. "I don't have to meet her to try to understand her. Besides, the Scrolls warn us against hating our enemies blindly, because then we miss opportunities for peace."

Kara nodded slowly, made thoughtful by the answer.

She saw Julia and the girls safely to their rack and found her own, determined to corner Kelly tomorrow and twist his arm into moving the Brynn family off the hangar deck.

Pulling the curtain on her bunk, she clasped the pair of dog tags on top of her chest, rubbing the two names with her thumb, and stared at the bottom of the rack above her while she waited for sleep and dreams of Sam.






On to Chapter Four: A Child in the Hall

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Merry F: kara samivanolix on November 27th, 2009 12:17 am (UTC)
I cannot tell you how much I love that Kara is helping Julia with Kacey and Isis/Hera. And paint!sex with Sam! <3
emmiereemmiere on December 15th, 2009 03:51 pm (UTC)
I'm extremely late in getting through the rest of this, but I adore this Kara chapter. Makes a real point how different Kara's reactions would be without Leoben frakking with her head.
lizardbeth: Anders-Kara - distancelizardbeth_j on December 16th, 2009 11:39 pm (UTC)
oh, you are way ahead of things, compared to me! :)

yeah, Kara is quite a bit different than we see her in S.3, and I'd say, is the most changed from canon -- by believing Sam was killed in the previous one, and without Leoben.. So that was sort of a worry, that I was straying too far.
entertaining in a disturbing waylyssie on January 10th, 2010 09:07 pm (UTC)
Oh, you TEASE. Poor Karl and Sharon. *frets*
imelda72: kara sam happyimelda72 on April 28th, 2010 03:28 am (UTC)
Evil!! Their baby is right there. Helo looked right at her. That's going to hurt so much.

OTOH...

"They're all so frakking humorless." Then she realized the two little girls were right there and fixed her language, "Fucking humorless, I should've said. Sorry."

Lolololololol. Very clever.