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06 October 2010 @ 12:07 am
Under a Shadowed Sky, Chapter Five  
Under a Shadowed Sky

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Chapter Five

It took endless, interminable hours for Cottle to come out of the surgical suite, and by then the mutiny was over.

Cottle pulled down his mask to tell Kara. "The surgery went well enough. I removed the bone remnants and the tendons."

She realized what he was saying, and asked, "You took them off completely?"

He nodded once. "There was no choice. They weren't going to grow back, and all that damage will heal better if it's covered. He might need another surgery for skin grafts, but right now I want to see how it starts to heal first. He won't wake up until at least tomorrow. But you can go in and see him in the main ward."

She nodded and drew a shaky breath. "He's going to be okay?"

"He's going to live," Cottle answered, which wasn't the same thing at all. "More than that is up to him. Go on," he nodded toward the hatch.

"Thank you," she told him and went into the dim ward.

Sam's cubicle wasn't hard to find. The curtain was open, and she saw Ishay inside. Ishay glanced at her and gave a tired smile. "He did well in surgery."

Sam was on his side, a sheet drawn up to his waist. Kara's gaze went to the flat expanse of his back, white with pads and bandages from his shoulders to the base of his spine. Even though it hadn't been that long since his back had looked like this normally, now it looked terribly wrong.

Kara circled the bed, so she wouldn't have to look at the empty space where his wings should be. He had an i.v. shunt in his hand, pulse monitor clamped on his finger, and a tube in his nose, taped over his ears. "Oxygen?"

"So his ribs don't have to work so hard to breathe." Ishay attached a small bottle to the drip.

"What's that?" Kara asked.

"Morpha. As the anesthesia flushes out, I'll ramp up the dose." She paused and cast a look at Sam. "The wounds themselves were bad enough, and difficult to close. But we don't know if the wings were integrated into his nervous system that he'll feel it as an amputation."

Kara stared at his pale face, remembering how aroused he’d been when she’d touched his wings. "He felt it all. All of what they did."

Ishay nodded slowly, and pressed her lips together in a sympathetic grimace. "It's a terrible thing. Such cruelty. We'll do what we can to help him," Ishay murmured. "I'll give you some time. But I'll still be around if you need anything." She pulled the curtain behind her, giving them at least the illusion of privacy.

Kara pulled the stool over, so she could be close to Sam's unconscious face. "I'm here, baby," she murmured, and smoothed her fingers across his stubbled cheek and the bruise on the side of his face. "I'll be here when you wake up. And as soon as I know who did this..." she bent near to whisper in his ear, and her hate was like cold ice inside, "I will start with Gaeta before the Admiral has him shot. I bet he ordered it, and those Pegasus scumsuckers were more than happy to do it. And I will make them very sorry they touched you. I promise."

* * *

The senior officers gathered in the admiral's quarters, with Lee and Roslin. Dee stood beside Lee, content to watch. Tyrol was there as well, as the sole Cylon representative. Dee found herself glancing at his wings, thinking of Tigh in the morgue, and Sam in sickbay, nearly following him.

Tyrol's arms were folded, angry as he looked down at Kelly. But Kara was furious, interrogating him to find out who had hurt Sam so badly. "Who did it, Kelly? You tell me, or by the gods--"

"Starbuck," Adama cut her off, and she clamped her jaw shut. But she continued to glare at Kelly.

"I saw Gage with feathers," Kelly said. "He had two colors, and I heard him say he wanted the full set. Then we went after Chief. I... had thought from what he was saying that Anders was already dead." He said the last without looking at Kara, but clearly anxious to tell her what he knew.

"Gage," Helo spat. "Figures that frakker would be involved. His 'sunshine boys' were probably with him."

Kelly nodded. "All scumbags. I hate Cylons, what they did, but what those thugs were laughing about doing to Chief, like it was a frakking party, it made me sick."

And thank the gods for that, Dee thought, because Kelly's change of heart had let them find the admiral in time to halt his execution. It hadn't been soon enough to save the Quorum, though; Lee was the only one left.

"Who else?" Kara demanded. "Who else had feathers?"

"I saw a civilian. I think he was with the resistance on New Caprica. I'm pretty sure he was the one who killed the colonel. His hate seemed real personal."

Kara snarled, "Charlie Conner."

Kelly nodded. "Conner, yeah, they called him that."

Dee started with surprise at the familiar name. "He's dead. He's the one who shot at us on our way here. You or Sharon got him," she reminded Lee.

"I did," Lee responded and shook his head in pity. "His grief was... too much for him, I guess."

Kara looked disappointed and asked Kelly, "Was he the one who hurt Sam?"

Kelly hesitated, glanced at Kara and then away as if he wished he could nod and tell her yes, but he didn't want to lie.

Kara put both hands on the table and leaned forward. "Who else? Tell me."

He didn't want to answer, but after a glance at Tyrol and Adama, he looked down at the table and said, "Seelix. She had a feather. Light gray. She kept touching her face with it."

Dee didn't want to believe it, not at first. Seelix had been so happy to be a nugget, and Dee remembered her playing Pyramid X and flirting with Sam before Kara had come back. But a light gray feather could only be one person. "Maybe she got it from someone --"

"I saw blood on her tanks," Kelly blurted, as if he wanted to get it all out. "She was mad at Gage and Gaeta for pulling her out to look for Tyrol, because she wanted to make it last longer. That's what she said. I ... " his hands tightened to fists and then loosened, as he said, "She was there. I don't know what happened, how she got so... cruel. That's not the Seelix I knew."

"I do," Galen murmured. "On New Caprica. She was vicious against the Cylons there, too." He gave a little dry laugh. "We all were."

Adama nodded once, looking exhausted and old. "We've all changed, Chief. Some more visibly than others," he glanced at Tyrol's raven wings, "but all these years have taken their toll."

"What are you going to do with them?" Kara demanded, and her eyes narrowed at the look that passed between the admiral and Roslin.

"We can't execute some of the last members of humanity, for this mutiny," Roslin said.

"But we can't have the security problem of people who are willing to do these things, either," Adama added. "Therefore we've decided to grant amnesty from the mutiny for most of the mutineers. Those who refuse to accept our leadership will be sent to the Astral Queen."

"Most?" Lee asked.

Roslin straightened and her face was ice. "There will be no clemency for the two ringleaders. Not after they had the Quorum assassinated. Rebelling is one thing, but murdering innocent people to grab power will not be tolerated."

Dee understood who they meant, and felt sick. She started to protest, "That was Zarek --" But she couldn't finish at the look on the president's face. "He ... Felix didn't mean any of this," she finished in a whisper. "He hurts and he's angry--"

"They conspired together. Gaeta started a ball rolling which has led to the deaths of forty-two people, lieutenant," Roslin said. "I'm sympathetic to his loss, but not to the extent I'm willing to overlook the horror he caused."

"And that's it?" Kara demanded furiously. "Just Gaeta and Zarek? What about Seelix who ripped out Sam's wings and then was sorry she couldn't drag it out even longer? Or does the fact that she tried to torture her squad mate to death somehow not count?"

"She'll go to Astral Queen, where her hate won't be a danger to our allies," Roslin answered wearily. "Anders is still alive. Take that as your victory, Kara."

"Victory?" she repeated, in a strangled voice, and turned away with her fists clenched. "There's no victory here."

Dee thought of Felix, condemned to die, and had to agree. "No, there's not." She lifted her head and met Lee's eyes, and he nodded sadly.

* * * *

Kara went to the brig, still stewing over the meeting. If Seelix really had been the one to torture Sam, she didn't frakking deserve the Astral Queen. But Roslin and Adama didn't understand. None of them had seen him, broken and dying, and something he loved turned to a torture rack. None of them had to go to sickbay and wonder if he was going to wake up.

Amnesty or no amnesty, she was going to find out if Seelix really had been there.

She dismissed the guards and waited until they closed the hatch behind them. Then she turned around and looked at Seelix, who was sitting on the small cot behind the bars.

Seelix stared back and finally broke the silence, with a sneering lip. "Starbuck."

Kara knew at that moment it was all true. She felt nothing but contempt and hate. "Gage, I understand; he was one of Cain's rabid dogs. But you... how could you do it? To a fellow pilot? To someone you'd fought with on New Caprica?"

"A Cylon," Seelix spat out in disgust. "Nothing but a toaster. Traitor and a spy. No wonder so many of us died when he was spying on us the whole time."

"He wasn't!" Kara said sharply.

"He betrayed us!" Seelix surged to her feet, close to the bars. And it made Kara furious to see there was not a single spark of remorse in her face. "He deserved it."

"Deserved to be tortured to death?" Kara demanded. Her lungs seemed filled with ice and for a moment it seemed impossible that she could breathe at all.

"He was a disgusting freak, no matter how many times the Cylon-lovers tried to shovel it down our throats as something good," Seelix sneered. "A Cylon monster dressed up like an angel to lead us to our extinction. But then I guess you'd know all about it, since you're one of them."

Kara hesitated and then smiled a little. "You know, I almost feel sorry for you, Diana. We made you a pilot, but you're still a small-minded, hate-filled deck monkey inside."

"At least I'm human," Seelix shot back, trying to score points, but Kara was done with reacting to that.

"Are you? I don't think so. I think you're a corpse that's still breathing." Kara leaned close and looked in her eyes. "See, the thing is, you picked the wrong victim. You picked my husband. Sam might think going to the Astral Queen is enough punishment, but he's a much better person than I am. I just want you dead."

Seelix swallowed, but then she rallied, lifting her chin. "You wouldn't dare. Not after the Admiral's amnesty. Anders is still alive, I hear." At least she was smart enough not to be smug about how that might not last.

"Not for lack of trying on your part." Kara's voice grew quieter, but harder until it was a blade. She'd been back to that room to find his dogtags and she'd lifted the wings to take them to the recycler, unwilling to let anyone else touch them. They'd hung limply, because the bones were all broken. She could still feel the imprint of the wings against her palms. "Do you know what you did to him? Let me put it so you can understand how horrible it was: it was exactly as if you tore out his fingernails, broke all the bones in his hands, and then ripped his arms from his body. That's what you did. There's no amnesty for that."

In one motion, she pulled her sidearm up, flicked the safety off with her thumb, and fired. The shot echoed in the small room, loud and sudden, and Seelix fell with a hole in her forehead.

"See you in hell," Kara told her then turned to leave.

The hatch opened and guards piled in, weapons leveled. Kara held her sidearm by the trigger guard and returned their looks with a flat stare. "Return to your posts. And someone needs to take out the trash in that cell to recycling."

They parted for her, looking uncertain and a little scared, and no one tried to stop her.

She figured she'd get called to Adama eventually, but until that happened, she would make it easy for him to find her, and she went back to the infirmary.

It wasn't until she was sitting at Sam's bedside that the tremors started. But she refused to be sorry, not looking at Sam's face. He hadn't woken up since the day of the mutiny, but he didn't look peaceful in his unconsciousness, with the lines around his mouth deepening and the skin around his eyes turning translucent.

She took hold of his hand, the one not full of medical equipment, and held it between hers. "I did it, baby. They're all gone. They can never hurt anyone again." She held her other hand to his cheek - his skin felt hot against hers. Cottle had told her it was from an infection in the wounds, persisting despite antibiotics and aggressive draining. He'd told her it wasn't surprising, since heavy trauma to the body often weakened resistance to disease.

What he didn’t tell her was that Sam was going to be fine.

"You gotta wake up soon, Sam," she told him. "I know it hurts. But please open your eyes. Don't let them win. Don't make me too late."

* * *

Kara wanted to feel a little pity for Gaeta and Zarek-- Gaeta especially, since she knew he'd been dealt a bad hand, but she wasn't. She'd felt more sorry for Leoben, when he'd been put out the airlock. These two had instigated a mutiny -- and for all that it had ended quickly, it had led to enough deaths to be horrifying, especially the brutal murder of Tigh and the Quorum, and Sam's torture. At least the others had managed to rescue the Admiral and take back the ship.

Kara was a little sorry she'd missed that part. But it felt like a weight off her shoulders when the ringleaders were gone. Now she could concentrate on Sam and finding a new planet, and the Fleet could hopefully put the hate behind them.

The day after they were executed, Kara got off shift, seeing the curtains were open and both Cottle and Ishay were there at Sam's bedside. There was something grave and ominous about their posture that made her quicken her step. "Doctor?"


She saw right away that in the intervening couple of hours, Sam had taken a clear turn for the worse. His skin looked waxen, and they'd taken out the cannula to give him an oxygen mask, and even so his breathing seemed more labored than before. "Doc?" she asked, taking Sam's hand in hers.

"His fever's spiking. It's a massive infection," Cottle explained. "It's causing his blood pressure to drop. In response, the heart works harder," he nodded his chin in the direction of the heart monitor, which was showing that Sam's pulse was rapid. "We help it with blood pressure medicines and extra fluid. But if it continues too long, he'll grow too weak to sustain the pace and enter septic shock. That could happen very suddenly, and if so... well, it'll be very difficult to turn around."

This could not be happening. He was supposed to be getting better -- all his attackers were dead, and he should wake up and not let them win from the other side. "There has to be more you can do?" she demanded.

Cottle shook his head. "We'll do everything we can to help. But in the end, it's an endurance test. He has to hold out long enough for me to find the right antibiotic to kill this strain."

She took a deep breath and answered staunchly, "Sam'll hang on. He survived Caprica and pneumonia. He'll be fine."

Cottle gripped her shoulder and moved away.

Ishay was wiping Sam's face and neck with a cloth soaked in ice water. There was also a wet sheet over his lower half.

"Is that going to help?" Kara asked.

"It can't hurt," Ishay answered. "The fever's not a terrible thing - it means his body's still fighting it. But we don't want it to rise too high, before the antibiotics work."

"They will work, right?" Kara demanded. "Right?"

Ishay added, in a softer tone, "He's very sick, Kara. I won't lie to you and say we're sure this is going to succeed. He hasn't been conscious since he got here, and that's not a good indicator of his willingness to fight this." She checked his temperature again, and nodded. "It's holding level. I've got to check on some other patients. I'll be back."

Kara sat on the stool and scooted it closer. "Hey baby," she whispered, and had to clear her throat when the words would barely come out. "You need to wake up now," she coaxed him. She touched his shoulder and was a little afraid of how his skin was radiating heat like his blood was boiling.

"Sam, Ishay says you're not fighting in there. And that's not the Sam I know," she murmured. "You're a fighter. A competitor. You fought off pneumonia without any drugs at all, and you're not going to let some tiny bug win now, are you?" She watched his face anxiously, praying for some sort of response. "Come on, Sam, you're not going to let those bastards win. I know they hurt you, and you've run away in your own head, but you've got to come back now. I hate to sound like Leoben, but dying here isn't your frakking destiny."

Dying of strangulation couldn't have been Tigh's destiny either, she thought, so maybe all of it was mystical bullshit, as she'd always thought. But ... no, Sam was right. She'd been brought back for a reason, and he'd been able to fly for a reason, and neither of them had found those reasons. There had to be more.

The back of her mind whispered that Chief and Tory were unhurt -- maybe the gods only needed one, and Sam was getting tossed aside, now that his flight had catalyzed the mutiny.

She stiffened her back and tightened her jaw. Frak the gods, if that was true. She wasn't going to lose him now.

Taking the cloth Ishay had left, Kara started stroking his face and down his arm as he shivered and murmured incoherent complaints.

She thought she might be hallucinating at first, as his eyelids flickered. But with some effort, he opened his eyes. He frowned, looking both confused and bereft, but she was still happy to see him awake. She leaned closer and took his hand in hers. "Hey, Sam. Welcome back."

He stared at her, chills visibly shaking him. His mouth moved, and she used her free hand to pull the oxygen mask down to hear what he was trying to say. His voice was hoarse and faint, through shallow breaths, "Kara?"

"I'm here. You're very sick, baby," she murmured to him, stroking back his damp hair from the side of his face with her free hand.

"Cold," he complained, and his hand trembled in hers. Even his fingers felt too hot.

"I know. You've got a high fever and we have to get it down. But it'll pass soon and you'll feel better."

He shuddered and blinked rapidly, and his eyes focused past her on something that wasn't there. He tried to lift his arm and gasped as the movement pulled on his injuries. His pulse rate leaped and he shut his eyes tightly, whispering something under his breath.

"Shush," she put a hand on his cheek. "I know it hurts, but you're going to be okay."

It took her a moment to figure out what he was trying to say in his cracked whisper. "Don't... please don't... please..."

Oh gods. She couldn't breathe around the sudden lump in her chest. He was begging them to stop hurting him.

"It's okay, Sam. You're safe. They're not hurting you," she reassured him, but it didn't matter what she said or how she touched him, he was caught in the nightmare. Even after she could no longer hear or understand what he was saying when she replaced the mask, his lips still moved, and worse, there were tears hanging on his lashes.

She was even more glad that his attackers were dead. But that satisfaction faded for worry as time passed. He rarely seemed to recognize her, sinking deep in fever delirium, seeing only his own memories of pain. She wrung out and re-wet the cloth a hundred times, trying to cool down what she could, praying the infection passed quickly. At the end of third shift, Ishay tried to kick her out, but Kara refused, filled with the inexplicable fear that only her presence was keeping him alive, even though she doubted he knew she was there.

In the middle of late watch, when sickbay was silent and deserted, she leaned closer, put her lips against his hot skin, and whispered into his ear, pleading, "Don't leave me. Please don't leave me."

* * *

Kara woke at the sound of the curtain moving. Expecting Ishay or Cottle, she was surprised to see Caprica tentatively poking her head in.

Her eyes met Kara's. "I'm sorry, I didn't think he had company," she murmured and started to withdraw.

"No, it's okay," Kara said. "You can come in, if you want?"

Caprica came through the curtain. She'd found a black shawl to wrap around herself. The combination of the pregnant belly and the distinctive platinum Six hair still looked a little surreal, but Kara had had enough dealings with her that her hand had stopped twitching reflexively for a weapon. She looked sorrowful, gazing down at Sam, and put a hand on her stomach.

She asked, "How is he?"

"The wounds got infected and made him sick," Kara answered. Automatically she checked his monitors -- his heart rate and temperature were still too high, despite the many drugs in his drip. But at least he didn't seem any worse from when she'd drifted off to sleep, so that was something. "He had pneumonia on New Caprica, too. What the frak good is it to be a Cylon if you're not even resistant to disease?"

"We are," Caprica answered calmly, not taking offense at Kara's angry question. "The only illness I know to infect us was that ancient one from the beacon. The Thirteenth Tribe -- the Five -- seem closer to human than the rest of us."

They were closer to human, except for the wings. And the wings were why Sam was here, and why Tigh was dead, which reminded her that Caprica was dealing with her own loss. "I'm sorry ..." Kara gestured toward Caprica's pregnant belly.

Caprica nodded, understanding what Kara couldn't say. "I was only ever a replacement for Ellen to him, I know that," she murmured. "But I did love him, in a way. I believe his death has brought our peoples closer together -- the humans whose anger consumes them are gone, and the Cylons have learned how fragile life is. We've now lost two of the Five, and Sam would make three, because of what we did." She paused and inhaled a deep breath, before adding softly, "The Five are paying for our sins. For my sins. If I could take his place, I would, Kara -- I swear I would."

Kara wanted to be angry, wanted to sneer back at Caprica that it was about time the Cylons figured it out, but looking at Sam's face, she said, "Don't waste the lesson."

Kara folded the cloth and wiped his face and neck. He shivered and murmured, objecting to the cold.

"We won't," Caprica promised. "The others on the baseship wanted me to come and tell you both that we are all praying for his recovery. You might not appreciate that, I know," she added, "but it's all we can offer."

"I'll take all the prayers I can get," Kara murmured. "Even ones to a Cylon god, if it makes him better."

After a moment, Caprica stirred. "I should go. I'm sure you'd rather be alone."

Kara would, but she also didn't. "No. Please. The more people who tell him to stay, maybe he'll listen."

Caprica nodded. At the side of the bed, she leaned down and her fingers caressed the side of his cheek and jaw. "Sam, I didn't save your life in that garage to let some nasty humans take it from you," she murmured.

Kara glanced at her in surprise. Sam had told her about it, when a Six and Boomer had saved his life from one of the Threes on Caprica. "That was you?"

"I couldn't let her kill him, when he was carrying such a tangible proof of love." Kara touched her tag on its separate cord around her own neck, hoping she could give it back soon. Caprica smoothed his hair tenderly. "Sam, we need you. The others know only how to be hard, but you and I know that love is strength, not weakness. And who's going to help protect my son?" She picked up his hand and held it on her stomach for a moment. "Please, we need you. Your people need you. And I think Kara needs you most of all, Sam. Don't leave us."

Kara looked at her, instinctively wanting to deny it, but when her eyes met Caprica's, Kara couldn't say the words. Saying she didn't need him sounded too much like letting him go, and she wasn't going to do that either.

Ishay came back in for her rounds, and Caprica left after a last kiss to Sam's cheek and pressing his hand against her belly.

Helo came soon after and his hand closed around her shoulder. "How's he doing?"

She rested her head against his solid strength. "Not good, Helo. Not good at all."

"He's in good hands, Kara. The best."

She nodded.

"I'll put in Hotdog as temp CAG if you want me to take you off the roster," he offered.

She started to nod her thanks, but then stopped, feeling guilty. Everyone was having a rough time after the mutiny - they were short-handed after the deaths and so many of the crew and pilots sent to Astral Queen. She knew they still had to send out Raptors to look for habitable planets.

And if Hotdog was acting CAG he couldn't be in a Raptor. She took a deep breath and changed her mind. "No, Helo. I'll come. Doesn't make much sense for me to sit here, when we need as many pilots out there as we can."

"You sure?" he asked, frowning in concern at her. "If you need to be here -"

"You should go," Ishay countered from the curtains, making Kara start with surprise, and she added in Helo's direction. "She didn't leave last night. Someone needs to take her out."

"But --" Kara objected, reflexively resisting the attempt to push her out.

Ishay smiled and came forward. "I promise I'll call you if anything changes, but -- " she glanced at Sam's monitors, "he's been stable for twelve hours. That's a good sign."

"But he's not better," Kara protested. "And Doc said his heart will give out if his pulse stays high like this."

"It's a strong heart," Ishay reassured her, and Kara wish it didn't sound quite so much like there was a silent "because he's a Cylon" stuck at the end. "And you need to get out of here, eat something, take a shower, and get your mind on other things for a little while."

Kara nodded, but bit her lip, glancing down at Sam's pale face. She bent down and kissed his temple. She thought she should be used to the dry heat of his skin, but it still felt scalding to her lips. "I'll be back soon," she promised him and whispered in his ear, "Hold on, Sam. Just hold on."

She succeeded in not looking back at the curtain, but hesitated at the main hatch.

"Kara?" Helo asked, being his usual steady, calming presence at her back.

She shook it off. "Just being superstitious."

Spending her shift away from sickbay made her realize all the changes on the ship. It seemed strangely quiet, though it was probably little different from how the ship had been before New Caprica. There were Cylons and civilians, though, were there wouldn't have been any before. Only the Cylons stopped her to say they were praying for Sam. At first comforting, it got irritating, and she was glad to escape into the pilots' area finally. The shower didn't wash away her fatigue or her worry, but it still felt nice to be clean. Doing her job felt good, too, that she was actually accomplishing something, even though the search for a new planet was no better than it had been.

But when her shift was over she was starting to get twitchy, and put her jacket in her locker in a hurry to back to sickbay. They'd turned Sam over and changed his bandages, so her first sight was of the clean white expanse of his back and the stark tattoo on his arm. Without the wings, he looked too thin and fragile.

"Hey, I see you're still sleeping. That's very lazy of you," she teased, but her fingers moved up his forearm and back down, smoothing the little hairs gently. The rhythm of wiping him down felt calming, and she realized it must be similar to how he had felt grooming his own feathers. The thought hurt, knowing that would never happen again. It was strange to realize how short a time he'd had the wings, and yet she had no doubt that the loss of them would hurt him forever. No wonder he didn't want to wake up.

A bit later Athena and Hera came in and Athena said, "Hera wanted to visit. We'll stay with him, you go eat dinner."

At the curtain, Kara glanced back to see Hera patting his hand and looking into his face sadly.

Kara left and choked down a few bites, knowing she should eat something, but returned to the cubicle. She hurried when she heard Sharon exclaim loudly, "Hera! Hera, stop! No, honey--"

Something crashed. Kara swept the curtain out of the way to see Sharon holding on to Hera. The i.v. stand was on the floor, and the end that should be attached to Sam was dangling from Hera's small fist. "Hera!" Sharon held her in one hand, and with the other pried it loose. "Hera, let go! What's come over you!" she exclaimed, tossing the line out of Hera's reach on top of Sam's body and holding Hera tightly against her, as the little girl fought her, struggling to get down again "I'm sorry, Kara, I don't know - it's not a game, Hera, stop it -- we have to go." Hera started to cry as Sharon carried her out of the infirmary.

Kara looked at the loose tube dripping fluid and called, "Ishay! Help!" The nurse hurried in and Kara told her, "Hera pulled the i.v."

Her face must have looked more panicked than she felt because Ishay reassured her, "It's all right, Kara. A few minutes won't hurt him. I can replace it."

A few minutes later he was settled again, and had never even stirred. Kara pulled the stool near. Inhaling a deep breath, she folded her fingers around his. "Well, that was exciting," she told him. "I guess we know why little kids make lousy doctors."

She paused, to smile a little at her own joke, but he didn't react and her smile faded. "Come on, Sam. You can hear me, I know you can."

As if to prove her right, his eyes cracked open, sank shut again, and then opened again with pained effort. His gaze was vague, as if he wasn't awake at all, but it was better than nothing.

She squeezed his hand. He tried to return the grip, hand trembling with weakness. "Sam? Can you see me?"

He blinked slowly and seemed to be looking at her, but his expression was empty and exhausted and she couldn't tell if he recognized her. She leaned forward. "It's Kara. I'm here. Sam, you have to hang on. Fight this, don't let them win," she urged him. His eyes sank shut and his hand was limp in hers again. Had he even known she was there?

It was all suddenly too much. She stood up and rushed out of sickbay, having to get away from the fear and the desperation and her own need for him to be okay.

She went to Joe's, had the new bartender pour two shots, and ignored everyone else in the bar.

Chief came up to her, wings rustling behind him. "Starbuck, how's he doing?"

She kept her eyes on her glass, knowing if she turned and saw those pretty feathers she was going to punch him. "He's dying," she answered flatly and emptied the shot glass.

The warmth in her stomach didn't melt the cold of fear in her chest.

"What? No, I thought--" Tyrol stammered in confusion.

"You thought he'd be fine with the wings ripped off?" she asked. "You thought wrong." She drank that one too and tapped the bar with the empty glass for another.

Tyrol was silent for a long few minutes, drinking more slowly. "He was so sure the guitar would help him remember. Then we'd know what we are."

"There's no magic, Chief. No destiny. It's all bullshit."

He observed quietly, "And yet here you are and here I am with frakking wings."

"Yeah, well, neither of those things has done anything but get people killed. Go away, Chief. Your feathers are making me angry and I'm going to pick a fight with you if you don't leave me alone."

Thankfully he moved away. But the reminder of Sam's song had stirred something in her memory, and she took the fourth shot over to the piano. Her father had taught her to play, and though she'd given it up after he'd left, sitting on the bench felt unnervingly familiar.

Idly she picked through some scales, and the skills slipped back into place as if she'd been practicing all along.

It didn't take long for her to pick out the chords to his song, but without Sam singing, the song seemed incomplete, so she tried to remember what he'd played in the bridge to add a melody line. She hummed to herself, trying to find the notes, wishing she had a better ear. Note and note, she experimented idly, until she had a few in sequence that sounded almost right. It was a piece of it, but it still didn't fit together

It was like a shadow in the corner of her eye. There was something familiar about that triplet of notes... She played again, shifting the key and adding another note, then echoing down again.

That was it. She had found it. She took her hands away as if the keys burned, now recognizing it. Her father had taught her that short phrase.

It was the same song.

Sam's song. The song he had been playing in his memories on a destroyed Earth more than a thousand years ago was the same song her father had taught her because he said she had hummed the phrase as a toddler.

Her heart was beating quickly, as she fought to understand. Sam was right; it wasn't a coincidence. Nothing was a coincidence.

Downing the last of her shot, she licked her lips, put her fingers back on the keys, and played.

In that moment, wrapped in the music, it was like flying. She felt something straining behind the notes, a faint trembling in her whole body similar to the feeling that had led her to Earth. She reached for it, knowing it was important, it was right, it was why she was here....

But she slipped between the notes, falling through them, and the moment was gone.

When she opened her eyes, Tyrol was back at her side. He breathed in wonder, "I remember... I remember Sam playing it now. On Earth. Play it again, maybe more will come back to me."

She shook her head. "Something's missing. It's not ... right. It's not complete."

In fact, she felt suddenly anxious and hollow inside, as if more than a few notes were missing. She stood up. "I need to get back to Sam." As soon as she said it, she knew that was what she felt. "Something's wrong."

* * *

He was freezing. He shivered, trying to tell someone he was cold, but no one listened. They kept putting ice on him, and it burned. The air was an oven. So hot. Why wouldn't anyone give him water? Everyone was hurting him. Because he was a Cylon and he was a freak, and they hated him. They wouldn't stop.

Away. He had to find some place safe. Safe and quiet. Someplace no one could find him, or hurt him anymore.

It was so dark, but he saw in flashes. But sometimes he saw the
Galactica, and sometimes it was a Cylon ship. Sometimes it was the school on Caprica melting into the tunnels of New Caprica, or it was the C-Bucs home court in the Coliseum dissolving into a computer lab with screens and lights all around. He didn't know where he was; nothing made sense, whirling from one thing to another. He saw Kara and tried to hang onto her, but she slipped from his grasp. Strange terrifying shapes hovered close: people, Centurions, monsters. He cowered and hid, trying to run, but he couldn't move.

Occasionally he had the coherence to realize he was dreaming and none of it was real. But the reality was worse, memories of pain and blood and taunting voices, his own voice screaming at them to stop, begging them not to do it. They'd laughed.

They'd stolen his wings. Hurt him and hurt him until he wanted to die, and then they'd stolen his wings.

No, the wings were still there. He could feel them, but they were bound up so tight they were cramping. He needed to free them. He clawed the bindings off, frantically pulling at the cloth, until finally, he could breathe. But when he tried to open the wings, his back seized up in agony. There was nothing there.

He curled up, whimpering, and praying:
Please, God, let it end.

Then he was falling into the darkness, forever. He was glad, because finally, it was over.

He was standing in a long hallway of some old, grand building, with a high ceiling and a plush carpet under his bare feet. It was a nice place, restful and pretty. It didn't worry him that he didn't know where he was.

He would've stayed there, except he heard music somewhere off in the distance. It was familiar and so he started walking down the long hallway to find where it was coming from.

He came to a pair of tall doors and they swung open at his approach. The song welcomed him as brighter light rushed out, engulfing him in warmth and peace. He smiled.

He was home.

On to Chapter Six
kag523 on March 4th, 2011 05:09 am (UTC)
Oh goodness, this is so achey and hard for me to read. It's strange, but I absolutely love this insight into Kara and Sam's relationship. I felt that this was what was missing from canon - a truly gritty view into their hearts - difficulties and all. Kara's execution of Seelix, and then her near-breakdown at Sam's side did that for me.

*heavy sigh*

I'm almost afraid to read on, given the end of this chapter.

Lovely writing dear!
lizardbeth: Anders- featherslizardbeth_j on March 9th, 2011 12:00 am (UTC)
(I got this TODAY. srsly, LJ?)

So much of K/S is in the part we don't see, sadly -- the year on New Caprica, in the conversations that we know must have happened when they refer to them,but we don't see. Or like, we see how Sam gives her the dogtag back in Collab, but we don't see how she gives it to him again during TAB. He's just magically wearing it in the bar,and we don't get to hear their talk. So I forgive non-shippers for not wanting to fill in those blanks (even when I've made it a cottage industry of doing just that!)., but what I wouldn't give to have seen those things instead of ficcing them. *sigh*

kag523 on March 9th, 2011 01:20 am (UTC)
LJ is crazy some days! I agree with you about the lack of relationship details. It makes me tremendously sad, actually, because I feel like Sam could have been one of the MOST important characters, but he was simplified down unnecessarily. Oh my. I'm glad you are able to 'fill in the blanks' with fic. I still have my own "protective of Sam" issues... which means he doesn't get paired with Kara. LOL (It would take a long time to explain). But you will have to trust me when I say I LOVE YOUR VERSION OF THEM!!!

Again - just lovely story. I miss having it to read! :>D