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18 September 2012 @ 04:50 pm
BSG Amnesty Fic: Aurora  
Fic: Aurora
Pairing: Kara/Sam
Rating: R
Words: 6K
Other Characters: Cottle, Ishay, Tyrol, Ellen
Summary: Sam wakes up from his coma.

Notes: This is an amnesty fic. It's not complete, but honestly I'm never going to finish it, and since lostinapapercup prompted this idea at bsg_epics I thought I might as well salvage some of it. By necessity it warps the timeline of 4.5.

Background: This was started during S4 original airing if I recall, and then while it was underway, Congresswoman Giffords was shot. And at the time, I didn't really feel comfortable continuing my slightly romanticized tale of someone waking up from getting shot in the head, when it was uncertain how much/if she would recover, so I put it away. By the time that seemed less of a concern, I'd already taken bits of this and folded them into other S.4 AUs, so while the part of Sam and his recovery was different, a lot of the actual planned plot and some of the fanon I developed for this story was already snagged for other fics. So I'm not likely to ever do more with it.

I researched brain injuries for this story, and it'd be a shame for it to totally go to waste, right? So, anyway, enjoy my attempt at realistically dealing with a wishful thinking scenario of how S4.5 might have gone. :)






Kara nestled against his chest and listened to her father's piano playing softly in the background. The music came to a soft finish and the player clicked off, but she didn't stir. Sam was warm and his skin was soft under her cheek, and for that moment of quiet, she could pretend he was merely asleep.

She was drifting off, when Sam's regular breathing and the smooth rise and fall beneath her ear suddenly changed. He drew in a deeper breath, rougher, and his lips parted. The beeps of the heart monitor leapt to a faster rhythm.

She sat up to look at his face, alarmed. "Sam?" She opened her mouth to call for the doctor, but then she saw another monitor out of the corner of her eye: his brain activity was completely different. Instead of the strange random bursts, there were distinct lines again, with high peaks and short wave periods. This time when she breathed his name it was with a nebulous hope in her own chest. "Sam? Sam, are you waking up?" she asked and seized his hand in one of hers, her other hand on his chest to feel him breathe. "Sam?"

Her gaze swung back and forth from the monitor to his face, waiting and hopeful. "Oh, please," she whispered in prayer, "please."

Her hand on his chest caressed up to his face, to his cheek. For the first time, he responded to her touch, moving his head ever so slightly into her fingers.

Then his fingers twitched, and she gripped back, a smile on her lips. He was coming back; he had to be coming back.

"Sam? Come on, baby, you can do it," she coaxed softly. "Come on back. Open your eyes; show me you're still in there."

He breathed, and she saw his eyes move under his lids. His eyelids fluttered several times. She held her breath, hoping but trying not to hope, in case he fell back asleep again.

"Sam, come on, don't be lazy," she chided. "Wake up; fight for it. You can do it. Come on back."

It seemed to take an eternity, as he struggled between his eyes opening and sinking back down into the pit that tried to pull him back down. She held his hand and stroked his face, sliding her fingers over the stubble to try to help him into consciousness.

She remembered what Cottle had warned weeks ago, when it had seemed more promising that he'd wake up at all: that Sam might have brain damage, that he might not remember anything of his previous life, that he might not be able to talk or move, or that he might change personalities and not be himself anymore...

But she thought she could handle any of it better than watching him sit there, a vacant shell of who he'd been.

His eyes opened. Unlike before, she could tell immediately that this was no reflex as a frown formed between his brows and his eyes moved around. He looked confused and tired, inhaling a deep breath that caught unevenly. His frown deepened and his eyes shut again tightly, but not as if he was sleepy but more like he was in pain. His hand spasmed and shook in hers uncontrollably.

"Sam?" she asked softly. "Sam? Can you talk to me? Are you awake?"

He opened his eyes again and turned his head slowly, just enough to bring her into view. She thought the sight of his blue eyes, open and aware, was one of the most beautiful things she'd ever seen. She squeezed his hand, waiting. "Hey, baby," she whispered, alternately biting her lip and smiling at him in hope.

But her smile diminished to nothing, as he stared at her, silently, without recognition.

"Sam?" she asked, more tremulously.

"And they will find their new country, gathered on the wings of an angel," he whispered hoarsely.

"Sam, do you know who I am?" she asked, now feeling her stomach clench up in fear.

He cocked his head to one side a little, regarding her with a remote expression as if she were a stranger. "You are Kara Thrace. You are the harbinger of death."

She yanked her hand free, slamming back in her chair, to stare at him in horror.

Then he blinked and his expression grew confused again. Then his gaze found her and recognition lit his face, with a faint smile of wonder, "Kara?" he asked, in a more normal tone. "Are you a dream?"

She pushed aside the words he'd said to think about it later, and leaned forward. "I'm not a dream," she answered, bit her lip to force back the prickly heat in her eyes, and took his nearer hand back between hers. "I'm here," she answered, "and you're here. And you're gonna be fine. Do you know your name?"

"Sam," he answered, then added, "Anders. I feel," he hesitated, and she felt new stirrings of alarm, as he finished, "strange. What happened?"

"You were shot in the head," she answered, "and you fell in a coma. So you're a little weak, but you're awake and everything's going to be okay."

He didn't respond right away, and she wasn't sure he heard her. Then he gasped in some sudden pain. She glanced up at his monitors to see the brain activity monitor was going crazy again, the lines at a high plateau, and he was staring blankly and blinking rapidly.

"Sam?" she asked worriedly, then called out, "Doctor! Doctor Cottle! Ishay! Someone, come help!" One of the orderlies rushed into the small room, took a look and then dashed away. She leaned forward, fear tightening around her chest in icy bands. What if he'd awakened because of some blood clot or bleeding or something? "Sam? What's wrong?"

He didn't answer right away, gasping for breath. "Too much. Can't--"

"Are you in pain?" she asked anxiously. "Sam? Talk to me."

"The firstborn holds the shape of things to come," he said hurriedly. "The pattern folds on itself in the stream. In the -- damn it!" he exclaimed, panting and shaking. "Five six -- " Then he lifted his head, eyes wild, and he pleaded desperately, "Kara, write it down. You have to write it down. I don't know how long I'll keep it. Write it down!" he shouted, jolting her into movement.

She looked around for something to write on, and grabbed the pen from the top of the little table at the foot of his bed. Lacking paper, she started writing on the sheet.

He began to chant out numbers, as though reading them from someplace. "Five, six, one, four, seven, one, one, nine, eight, seven, four, eight, one, eight, six, one, two, three, th-- th--, no, damn it, not yet, three, two," he said, gasping out the numbers as if he was drowning, his eyes tightly shut.

Then he demanded, sounding panicked, "Did you get it? Did you get it?"

She reassured him, "I got it, Sam. It's okay." She looked at her handiwork and fixed a four that was unreadable.

He let out a breath of relief, and leaned his head back against the bed, looking exhausted. "Good." He was only breathing at first, and she thought he might fall asleep, but his eyes opened again. He looked at her with a dazed half-smile turning up his lips, not quite focusing on her, and he insisted as if she wouldn't believe him, "I remember you. I remember..."

"Hush. I remember you, too. Take it easy, Sam," she murmured and stroked his cheek as he closed his eyes. When he'd calmed, she asked, "What do these numbers mean?"

"I -- I don't know. It's important, though. I -- For a moment, Kara, I saw everything. Everything that was; everything that will be," he whispered, looking pale and lost. "And then it went away."

She glanced at the monitor, where it had settled in ordinary calm lines again. She trailed her fingers up his forearm. "Maybe it'll come back," she murmured, though she hoped it didn't. "But either way, at least you're awake and you know who you are."

He rested for several breaths of silence, and then inhaled deeply as if trying to steel himself for something. He murmured, haltingly, not opening his eyes, "I... I know... you said there's no 'us' ... So if this is some kind of duty or pity --"

Oh gods, she thought her chest might collapse with the sudden weight on it. He'd just woken up, he was still desperately weak, and he remembered that stupid, stupid thing she'd said before Earth. Her eyes stung with new tears, and she put her fingers over his lips to stop his words. "No. Don't think that. I'm not staying out of duty or guilt or pity, or anything like that. I'm here because ... you were right. There's an 'us' - there has to be. All that crap we've been through, Cylons and dying and all that, it means something." But she knew that wasn't enough, because that still made it sound like duty, or as if being with him was something she should do because the gods told her to do it. So she leaned forward and smoothed his cheek. "But none of it matters to me as much as you. I'm here and I'm staying, because I love you."

His eyes popped open and he stared at her with rather comical shock. "What? What did you say?"

"I said, 'I love you.' Gods, you'd think I'd never said it before," she teased.

"You have?" he asked, frowning. She took it at first as teasing her back, but it was a genuine question, worried he'd forgotten.

Which, no, she had to admit, she hadn't said the words, not aloud. The more she'd meant them, the harder they'd been to say, and Sam had never pushed her for them. "Didn't I save your ass half a dozen times? Do you think I do that for just anybody?"

"Why now?"

"Why do you think? Because ... you almost died," she murmured, looking down at her hand on his arm. "I promised if you woke up, I wasn't going to wait until the very last second." But she'd found it wasn't so hard, after all, and his surprise had been pretty amusing, so she leaned forward and whispered into his ear, "I love you."

He caught her wrist and tugged, and although there was little strength in it, she let him pull her on top of him. It was so wonderful to feel him, alive, against her skin. "Oh, yeah? Well, you're gonna have to say it a lot, to catch up with me," he murmured. It took very little effort to lift her head and kiss him deeply, and even though his lips were terribly dry and his breath was horrible, it was perfect.

Until he froze and his mouth pulled away as if something happened. "Sam? What is it?"

His gaze met hers, and there was sudden fear in his eyes. "I can't feel my legs," he whispered. "I can't move them."

She moved off him, glancing down at his long legs under the blanket. But she was saved from answering, as Cottle and Ishay came in.

"Well, Sleeping Beauty's awake finally," Cottle greeted with his usual grumpy teasing that didn't quite cover the fact that he was obviously pleased. "What's your name?"

He swallowed, and answered simply, "Samuel T. Anders."

"And the T stands for?" Cottle asked, checking his eyes with his penlight.

"Something I hate," Sam returned coolly.

Kara was disappointed that he hadn't said it - it was one of the few small secrets he'd kept from her, no matter how much she'd cajoled him. She was curious that he still hated it, even with what he knew of his true past, though. Then she realized she didn't even know if Sam Anders was his real name, or the one Cavil had given him to live in the Colonies.

Cottle chuckled. "All right, at least you remember it. Do you know where you are?"

"Galactica infirmary," Sam answered. "I -- " And then he stopped, then his eyes snapped to hers with open amazement and pure joy lighting his. "Kara. I remember. I remember Earth. I know the truth, you have to get the others, they need to know -- "

"Hush." She put her fingers over his lips gently to stop the desperate, anxious babble. "Sam. They know. You told them."

"What?" The happiness slipped into confusion, as he frowned at her. "I... did?"

"You were awake for a little while after you were hit. Somehow that opened up your memories, and you told the others as much as you could," she explained, feeling cold at the reminder of his frantic pleading and angry shouting as he'd been taken to surgery. Those had almost been his last words. "You don't remember?"

He shook his head a little in answer.

"What's the last thing you remember?" Cottle asked.

"Earth was ruined," he answered softly, gaze distant and pained. "I was shooting goals.... Diana and her friends ambushed me. Then..." he hesitated, frowning, trying to remember.

Her eyes narrowed at the news that Seelix had gotten him captured. She remembered how bloodied he'd been coming out of the cell, even before he'd gotten shot. It was a good thing for Seelix she was already on the Astral Queen.

He coughed, distracting her from her thoughts. Ishay stepped close to the bed with a straw in a cup. Kara took it from her to offer to Sam. His hand lifted and, instead of grasping the cup, bumped her hand and then fell back to the mattress. "Here, I've got it," she said and held the cup for him to drink.

"Slowly," Ishay cautioned. But the warning proved unnecessary since Sam pulled away after a sip, jaw tensing as if he might promptly vomit it all back up. His head thumped against the pillow and he shut his eyes. Kara wrapped her free hand around his, worried about how weary he seemed after just a few minutes awake.

Cottle told them both, "You were asleep for a month, Anders. It'll take time to get back your strength. Do you remember anything else?"

Sam continued, more slowly, "They dragged me to ... a cell, I think? Saul was there?... Then... I don't know. Nothing." She worried about the tightly controlled voice, and squeezed. "Kara says I was shot."

"Yes. It was a traumatic brain injury; you probably won't ever remember," Cottle told him. "I'm amazed you remember that much."

So he didn't remember anything from after the mutiny had started, Kara realized. Nothing about how she'd come to free him or dragged him to sickbay or sat with him during that small time he'd been awake. No wonder he had been a little confused about why she was here, when his last memory of her had been her hasty words at the memorial wall before Earth. She hoped Cottle was wrong and he might remember things afterward, to know that she'd stayed with him. "The Agathons were in the cell with you," she prompted him. "Do you remember them?"

But Sam wasn't listening to her. He looked at Cottle and said, "I can't move my legs."

Cottle hesitated, and answered, "I see. Well, some effects are expected after an injury like that. We'll do some neurological tests and figure out why. I've already put a call to Doctor Gerard to come back. The good news is your coma's broken, and you're alert and your mental faculties seem intact. Do you have any pain?"

"It's okay," Sam answered, but Kara knew that sideways flicker of his eyes and slight hesitation meant it was a lie.

"Sam..." she warned.

"Headache," he admitted.

Cottle's gaze sharpened on him. "How bad?" Cottle asked. "On a scale of one to ten, ten being the worst pain you've ever felt?"

She didn't like that he had to ponder the question. "Four. It's worse than a hangover, but I can deal with it."

"Worse than a hangover gets only a four?" Cottle asked, sounding a bit astonished.

Sam's gaze darkened and he looked away. "I remember dying. This isn't that bad."

Kara shook her head a little. She might have died, but at least, she didn't remember the pain of dying as Sam so clearly did.

"Resurrection." Cottle snorted and shook his head. "A miracle and yet a terrible idea. Anyway, I had you taken off medication when you were unconscious, so I don't doubt you have a headache. But let's rule out any new swelling before I give you anything for it." He turned to Ishay. "Get a full brain scan on him, and set up the ICP monitor, to check for any fluid pressure increase in there."

She nodded and went off to tend to it, but not before casting a glance at Kara and Sam. Her expression softened, and she tried to smile at Kara.

Kara didn't feel like acknowledging the sympathy and kept her attention on Sam. He was going to be different, remembering the past, even aside from the injury. But at the same time, now that he remembered, maybe he could help her figure out what was going on with her.

"Starbuck, I need to examine him. I'll call you when we're done with the tests," Cottle said in dismissal.

She was tempted to say she'd seen it all before, but instead she nodded and stood up. "I'll be right outside," she told Sam and leaned forward to press a kiss to his lips, before heading out.

In the deserted corridor, she stopped, feeling at a loss. This was where she'd waited all those hours for him to come out of surgery only to have him end up in a coma, barely a hair's-breadth from dying. Now he was awake, but he was paralyzed. Worse, that might be the good news if the scan found something new going wrong in his head.

At least you told him, at least he knows, she told herself, but it didn't help. She'd told him she loved him -- had that sealed his fate?

He's alive. He's awake. He's talking to you. He remembers you, she told herself sharply, trying to focus on the positive, and not to think of the worst possibilities.

But here, in the same corridor where she'd prowled between hope and worry during his operation, only to have the hope crushed in the end, she couldn't pretend to optimism. This was some last cruel trick of the gods, pretending to answer her prayers and give Sam back, so they could snatch him away again. If she had someone to talk to... someone to tell her to stop being so fatalistic. But there was no one who might understand. Helo would listen, but he was away on one of the Raptor trips. Sharon, maybe, but Sharon would probably tell her to prepare for the worst. For a moment, she entertained the idea of calling Leoben, but he'd run away from her when she'd needed him most.

The person she most wanted to talk to was Sam. For a little while, she imagined all the things he'd tell her: he'd chide her gently about letting her imagination run away with her. He'd tease her about being such a fatalist or wanting him out of the way, and he'd pull her close and kiss the dark thoughts away.... But the fantasy wasn't enough, not when she'd had the real thing again so briefly.

She perched on the supply crate in the hall, clasped her hands around her knees, and stared blindly at the opposite bulkhead.

"You brought me back," she prayed silently, wondering if she should go bring out her idols and light some candles. If that would help. "There has to be a reason, right? And that reason can't be to watch Sam die. Not now. Not after all we've been through. Please don't punish me by taking him away. I swear I understand now, if you'll give us a second chance. Please."

She put her hands through her hair and cradled her head, taking deliberate breaths to try to settle the anxiety running through her like her blood was bubbling.

At least last time she'd had Tyrol, Tigh, and Tory to wait with.

She was going to have to tell them he was awake. Tyrol and Tigh were busy with the ship, and Tory had gone back to the baseship. But Ellen was here now, and of all the Cylons, Ellen was the only one who would sit with Sam for awhile. She'd hum songs Kara had never heard or talk about the beach on Earth, convinced he could still hear her.

She realized she hadn't told Sam that Ellen was back. They were going to want to see each other.

Decision made, Kara picked up the phone on the wall and put in the extension for Tigh's bunk. Ellen answered.

"It's Kara. Sam's awake."

"He's awake?" Ellen repeated, excited. "Thank God. How is he?"

"He's alert, and talking," Kara answered. "But..." Her voice caught, and Ellen prompted, now worried,

"What is it?"

"He... can't feel his legs and he has a headache. Cottle took him away for a brain scan. I keep wondering if maybe he has new bleeding or a clot, or something, and that's why he woke up and he's gonna... he's gonna..." her voice sank away to nothing as she confessed her fears.

"I'm on my way, Kara. We'll wait together. You hang in there."

Kara hung up, feeling marginally better. Funny how she would've said before that Ellen Tigh would be the last person she'd want to wait with, but now she was actually glad for it.

Ellen arrived only a few minutes later and rushed inside, embracing Kara in a tight hug. Then she pulled back to look Kara in the face, with her hands on Kara's shoulders. "This is good news," she declared. "Sam's back with us. Let's hold onto that for now."

Kara nodded and leaned against the bulkhead.

"Does he still remember Earth?" Ellen asked.

"He said so. And he mentioned ... dying. Painfully."

"Yes," Ellen answered, coming near to hitch a hip on the crate. "We all did." She heaved a sigh. "Sam spent days trying to figure out how to download everyone in the city. But... there wasn't time. We knew the war was coming, but when it actually happened, it was too soon. We could only save ourselves," she said softly, her voice full of regret as she looked into the distant past. "By the time we resurrected, it was over. Our world was destroyed. Sam blamed himself for not saving anyone else and he was bitter and angry at the Lords of Kobol. He was the first of us to embrace a faith in God." Her hand fell on Kara's forearm and squeezed. "I'm telling you this so you understand the Sam in there, right now," she nodded toward the inner hatch that led to the infirmary, "won't be the same at the one you know, if he remembers everything."

Kara already had suspected as much, but she knew he still loved her, and nothing else mattered right now. "Like you," Kara observed.

Ellen smiled. "Yes, like me. But more so." She grew serious again. "I'm not exaggerating when I tell you Sam was one of the most brilliant minds of his generation on all of Earth. He could do things with mathematics that you'd swear God had to be whispering in his ear. And programming? Oh, Kara, it was like watching a composer when he designed the personality matrices for the eight."

Kara chuckled a little, trying to imagine her Sammy like that. She'd always known he wasn't dumb; she even knew he'd graduated with some kind of science degree despite taking MPU to the playoffs three years in a row, but she certainly wouldn't describe him as brilliant.

"I was so angry when I realized how John had stripped all that away from him," Ellen murmured, and though her voice was calm, her hands had clenched to tight fists. "From all of us, but Sam was different -- he had such a passion to create. So John tried to kill that and sent him to Picon to be a pyramid jock," she added in disgust.

Kara felt a reflexive burst of defensiveness for both pyramid and Sam, but bit her lip and let it pass.

"I’m sorry, Kara, but I hope the Sam I knew comes back," Ellen went on, more calmly. "I miss him. And I think we might need him."

"I just want him to be awake," Kara answered, glancing at the closed hatch and wishing it would open. Where was Cottle? Gods, what if Sam had fallen back into the coma? Or that headache was a sign of swelling in his brain and they were going to operate again? Or if he was having some sort of stroke, and the next time the hatch opened, it would be Cottle to tell her Sam was dead?

Ellen gently tugged Kara back to stand near her, pulling her out of another round of scary what-ifs. "Yes, of course, you're right. That's what I want most of all, too."

Kara took a deep breath, licked her lips, and tried to think of something to distract herself with. "When Sam woke up, he made me write down a string of numbers. He didn't seem to know what they meant, but he was desperate I write them down. Do you have any idea what it might be?"

Ellen thought about it for a moment and shook her head. "Do you have it? I'll take a look."

"I had to write on his sheet." She jerked her head back toward the hatch and got up to pace a few more steps. "Gods. What's taking them so long? So, um, tell me more about Sam on Earth."

"He played guitar," Ellen said, smiling in reminiscence. "He'd play for us when we took a break. He even wrote his own songs. We'd joke that he was meant to be a rock star, not a scientist. Rock star, pyramid star... " she flashed a smile. "Guess we were right."

The hatch opened and both of them looked that way, Kara feeling instantly sick to her stomach with anxiety when Ishay poked her head out. "Captain? You can come back in now." She glanced at Ellen in acknowledgment, but kept her attention on Kara, beckoning her forward. "I should warn you, he's asleep. But it's a natural sleep, not a coma."

"Didn't he spend enough time asleep?" Kara muttered, following after her into the hatch.

"You would think so," Ishay agreed, with a quick smile. "But he was exhausted. It's a good thing. He needs the rest. Come visit, and then Doctor Cottle wants to talk to you."

Kara realized Ellen was tagging along, and felt an unreasonable surge of resentment that she should be there. Ignoring her, Kara went directly to Sam's bed. He looked the same as he had before, with the same wires on his head, same closed eyes, same bare chest with the EKG taped to him... For just the barest instant, she felt a jolt of fear that she'd imagined him waking up and he'd never roused at all.

But when she laid her hand over his and folded her fingers around his, his fingers twitched and his eyelids flickered, stirring. And when she glanced at the EEG monitor she saw low but regular normal sine wave of sleep, not the strange patterns or flat line of before.

Then she gently put his hand back on the bed and pressed a kiss to his cheek. "I'll be back," she whispered.

"I'll stay with him, while you talk with the doctor," Ellen offered.

Having expected Ellen to follow her into the conversation, Kara nodded and followed Ishay to Cottle's office. "Shut the hatch," he told her and lit a cigarette.

Feeling apprehensive, she shut the hatch and sat down in the chair he gestured to, sitting at attention because she couldn't breathe.

"What's wrong with him?" she asked, blurting it out. Wanting to hear the worst first. "Is he going to die?"

Cottle looked surprised. "Die? No. Well, eventually, but not soon," he answered. Then he leaned back against his desk. "Doctor Gerard's coming over, but I think what he's going to say is Anders is... pretty frakking lucky. His intercranial pressure is normal, and the month he's been unconscious has already done quite a lot of healing on the wound itself. He's alert, he can speak normally, he remembers... "

"But..." she prompted, knowing there was a 'but' at the end.

"The good news is he's not paralyzed, since he has some feeling all the way to his toes. But. He can't move his lower legs voluntarily, and his reflexes are sluggish. That means it's a motor control issue, probably rising out of the damage to his cerebellum. It's premature to know for certain, but, like I told him, given how much he's come back already, I won't be surprised if he relearns how to walk." He took a drag on his cigarette. "Or maybe not. We'll have to see."

"That's not so bad." She clung to the hope that he could walk again. Before Gaeta, she'd never considered how hard Galactica was to navigate for anyone who didn't have two healthy legs. Now she thought of how many hatches and stairs and steps there were just from here to her rack. She was going to have to put in for married quarters, because there was no possible way Sam could go back to the racks. Grimly, she realized there was probably space now, with so many of the crew dead or sent to the Astral Queen.

Assuming Sam was going to get out of the infirmary any time soon.

"It'll take time," Cottle warned. "He'll need therapy to rebuild his physical strength. He lost muscle tone while comatose."

"He's done rehab before," she offered, knowing about it from his player days. She drew in a breath. "What else?"

"More troubling, he had a seizure right after we did the MRI."

"A seizure?" she repeated, not liking the sound of that at all.

"It's not unusual after brain injuries for the neurons to misfire and short-circuit," he explained. "It's the same thing that was happening during those disorganized bursts of activity when he was unconscious. He mentioned seeing bright lights, started spouting nonsense and spasming in his hand. Fortunately it stayed small and localized, rather than spreading to his entire brain and convulsions. I've put him on anti-seizure medication. He'll likely need to take it for life. Or until we run out," he grunted in sour acknowledgment that their supplies were low, "whichever comes first."

She nodded. "And that'll stop it?"

"Possibly. There are alternatives if this one doesn't work. Let the seizure pass in its own time. It should only take a minute or two. He may be disoriented and very tired when he comes out of it, that's normal."

She nodded and realized that was what had happened when he first woke up with his cryptic Hybrid-like words and brain activity spikes. But how had he known what the Hybrid told her? Sam hadn't been in the room when the Hybrid had said that. She shivered and pushed it away. "Anything else I should know?"

Cottle hesitated and answered, "We've got some more tests to do, but overall, it's going to be slow. Don't baby him, since he'll take that as pity, which he doesn't need, but ... watch what you say. He's going to become very aware of what he can't do, and his attitude is going to make all the difference in how much he improves."

"Can't do?" she repeated, and there was a sick feeling in her stomach. "Like what?"

"He's never going to play pyramid or fly Vipers again."

The flat statement hit her and she bit her lip. Never. Flying was a new thing for him, but gods, he built a Pyramid court every where he went. It was going to kill him not to play. "But ... if he rehabs... You can't say never..." she started, and he slowly shook his head negative.

His face was kinder than she'd seen in a long time. "Kara. No matter how well his recovery goes, he won't be as he was. Hopefully he'll get close, and the brain can be a truly remarkable thing, but this injury will stay with him forever. It's not just a matter of getting his strength back from the coma -- this is a brain injury, affecting his eye-hand coordination, balance, and fine motor skills. He might not even be able to stand up again."

"Oh." Not be able to stand up? Gods.

Cottle went on, "But the good news is the effects seem to be primarily physical. Mentally, he appears to have all his faculties, which will help his transition. Later on, I'll speak to the admiral about some productive work to keep his mind alert, while he works on physical rehabilitation."

She listened and realized it was probably a good thing he'd remembered his Earth life, so the loss of pyramid and flying wouldn't hurt him so much.

She finished with Cottle and returned to the main ward, to see Ellen sitting beside his bed, looking at the scrawled numbers on his sheet.

"They mean anything to you?" she asked.

Ellen shook her head. "No. Nothing obvious. Did you copy them down? Sam should look at them later." Then she frowned a little, seeing Kara's face, and beckoned her closer. "What did the doc say?"

Looking down into his sleping face, Kara answered, "He's not paralyzed, I guess that's the good news. But he's still not going to play pyramid ever again. He might not be able to stand up."

Ellen's hand wrapped gently over hers. "He's strong, Kara. You should know that better than anyone. If anyone can do it, he can. I'll take a look at his scans. Maybe I can help."

"That'd be good," Kara said and then shook her head once. She felt as if her chest was too tight, and she had to get out of the room and find some new air. "I'm going to find some paper to write those numbers on. Be back."

Instead she went to Joe's and pounded back a shot, then wrapped her fingers around another one.

"Hey, Starbuck," Tyrol greeted her. "I hear Sam's awake? Is that true?"

"He was," she answered shortly.

"Oh, frak. I ... I hoped... damn it." Tyrol hit the top of the bar lightly with a fist. "He fell back in the coma? Or, hell, he's not ... dead?"

The word caught her attention. "What?" She lifted her head to frown at him in confusion. "No. Frak no. He's sleeping. But he should wake up again. He's not back in a coma."

Tyrol let out a gusty sigh of relief. "Oh, thank the gods. When you said he was awake, and you're in here drinking, well, it looks like bad news..."

She looked at her shot, thinking about all the doctor had told her -- unable to stand or walk and brain seizures. That was bad news. But being awake and out of a coma wasn't bad news. "No, it's good news." She remembered dragging him to sickbay, his blood everywhere, terrified he was going to die. She repeated, meaning it, "It is good news. It's just been a hell of a long day, Chief."

"All the days are long, captain, and getting longer. You should get some rest yourself."

She saluted him with the glass in acknowledgment and drained it. Setting the glass on the bar, she stood up. "Pass the word along, Chief, that Sam woke up. We could use something to celebrate in this frakking tomb of a ship. I'm heading for my rack."

Back in quarters, she opened the door to her locker. Sam's tags were hanging there, and she took the leather cord holding one of her tags free and put it around her own neck. She would give it back to him as soon as he woke up, so he would have that to hold onto during his recovery.

* * *


(scenes in here include Sam reunites with Ellen, rehabs with determination to get back at least some of his strength, and the Cylons try to help, but it's all fragment-y.)

* * *


"God damn it to hell!" the shouted words were followed by a crash, and Kara yanked open the hatch to see Sam on the floor, sitting awkwardly as if he'd fallen, with one leg bent beneath him and the other on one side. The pyramid ball was still rolling across the floor away from the shattered mirror.

"Sam?" she asked, warily.

"Get out!" he snarled, staring at the shards of the mirror, with his chest heaving for breath. "Get out."

She shut the hatch behind her and moved nearer, unsurprised by his sudden temper. Sam had examined the new brain scans yesterday and his silence afterward had felt more like a storm brewing, not like calm.

In a softer but tighter voice, he warned, "You don't want to be here, right now."

For a moment, she wondered if she should go. He was upset and looking for a fight, and she didn't trust herself not to fall for it. But on the other hand, those were familiar words and she already knew the outcome: months of distance and stupidity. It was time she tried something different. They had to start learning from the past, not blindly repeating it.

She inhaled a deep breath, determined to take whatever he was going to dish out, and to make sure he understood she wasn't so easily pushed away. "Remember I said the same to you, once? That if you stayed I was going to hurt you?" she said softly and walked around so she could see his profile. "So we went our separate ways. The thing I learned from that is we suck at dealing with this shit on our own. So, no, I'm not leaving. If you need a target, I'm here."

But he didn't lash out at her, as she half-expected. Instead he stared at the pyramid ball, which had come to rest beside their rack, and the look in his eyes was pure despair. "I tried to -- I can't throw a frakking ball," his voice broke, and his pain echoed in the room. "I can't walk. I ... gods, I can't even write my own name. What was the frakking point to waking up, when I'm just this... thing trapped in a body that doesn't frakking work?" he demanded furiously, hitting his thigh with a fist hard enough to bruise.

"Hey." She knelt at his side and put a hand on his back. He was rigid under her touch, his head bent away from her. "You had a bullet in your brain, Sam. For a month you were barely alive, and I was afraid you'd already downloaded to nowhere, and my Sam was gone." She caressed his back slowly, trying to calm him down. "The fact that you're alive and talking to me right now, is a miracle. And you are getting better, you know that. It's just slow. You'll walk again."

He shook his head once, stubbornly resisting her encouragement. "I saw those scans, Kara. I know enough about brain function --"

"Hush. Even if you don't walk, so what?" she ran her hand lightly across the back of his head, petting his bristly hair. "You were never just a dumb jock, Sam, and you certainly aren't one now. The thinking part of your brain still works fine, and Ellen told me you're some kind of genius trapped in this very hot body." She caressed the top of his shoulder, trying to help him understand that she still found him desirable. But he tried to shrug off her hand, so she went back to her other tactic and said, "The C-Bucs don't need you anymore, baby, but the Fleet could sure use this big brain to find us a new planet to live on."

He breathed out raggedly and said, "There's a reason the Thirteenth Tribe went to Earth. Life-bearing planets are very rare."

She chuckled softly. "You are full of cheerful thoughts today. You need to stop listening to Scientist Anders and all those facts. Science doesn't explain how I came back, but I did. Science doesn't explain how you saw a messenger of the gods who warned you the war was coming and then sent you on a quest halfway across the frakking galaxy. So forget about science and be my Sam -- the one who fought the Cylons even when he knew he couldn't win. That Sam fights back and doesn't give up."

He made a soft sound of protest and denial in his throat, as if he couldn't bear even thinking about it. She leaned forward and circled him with her arms, pressing against him. "But most importantly, baby, you can't give up, because I'm here, and I won't let you. We're going to find a beautiful green planet to live on, and you will walk there with me. Believe it."

The words seemed to break some last thread in him. He gasped and twisted around to clutch at her arms, his head against her shoulder as he shook with sobbing breaths. "Kara -- Kara -- "

"It's okay, Sam," she murmured and brushed her cheek on his hair. "It's going to be better, I promise. We're together, and there's nothing that can stop us when we're together."

* * *

(Later)


Kara came into the small room and found Sam on the floor, trying to pull himself up on the bed. His crutches lay where they'd fallen, in a clue that he'd tried to use them. Given how far across the room they were, she guessed he'd gotten quite a ways before falling and then crawled back to the bed. "Sam! You know you need someone with you."

"I can do it myself," he muttered through his teeth as his shoulders strained to pull up the dead weight of his lower body.

"Here," she put her hands on his waist and helped shove him upward. Damn he was still frakking heavy.

He got most of his body up and pulled himself all the way on his stomach on the bed. Then he stayed that way, holding the blankets in his fists and panting. His shoulders and back muscles refused to relax, tense with both the effort and anger. Even as his breathing eased, he didn't move, and she sat on the bed next to him. "Hey," her hand stroked his shoulder and down his back and back up, soothing, "I saw how far you got. You're getting better at it. Just wait for someone to be here with you. What if you fall down and hit your head or break something, hm? Don't be a moron in your impatience."

He grunted, not quite agreeing. "I hate this," he muttered. "I hate being useless."

"You're not useless," she retorted. "Lying around in a coma -- that was being useless. This is recovering. You've done rehab, same as I have. You know it takes effort - which you have plenty - but also patience."

She stretched out next to him, still caressing his back, feeling all his muscles slowly relax under her touch, and moving up to his neck and the bristly hairs growing in on the back of his head, avoiding the fragile scars. "It's going to take time, you know that. And you know what? Even if you don't get your balance back so you can walk on your own, it doesn't matter to me. You're here with me, that's the only part I care about."

"But--"

"No buts," she interrupted. "I'm not such a shallow bitch that I only want you when you're perfect. I have what I want."

He muttered into the crook of his arm, hiding his face from her, "You sure? Because there's a lot you usually want that I... I can't give you anymore." He said the last part with an air of surrender and resignation, as if he expected his confession to force her from the room.

She knew exactly what he was saying and a grin slowly spread over her face. "Totally not true." She reached out to push on his hip, to encourage him to roll over on his back. He let her, but his eyes stayed closed. "See, I happen to know from Doctor Cottle you're not really paralyzed. You feel everything. For instance, do you feel this?" She dragged her hands down his chest to his stomach and down the front of his pants. The stretchy fabric was soft and no barrier at all to feeling the fullness beneath. His breath caught.

"I'd say yes," she teased, but was grateful that he responded so easily to her fingers. At least something was the same. Then she lifted her hand away to the waistband of his pants. It was more difficult to pull his pants down since he couldn't help very much, and she could see the frustration in his face as he tried to lift his hips but his legs wouldn't do more than jerk his feet. But she resolutely showed nothing on her face but wanting to get him naked - not pity, not impatience - as they figured out how to do it.

But finally she did it and threw her own clothes on the floor, before climbing back on to straddle his waist. "We should find you a pair of those game warm-ups with the sticky seams," she suggested, and grinned, "then I could just rip them off."

"We both could," he agreed. His hands caressed her thighs and the curve of her hips, sliding up her flanks to her breasts. She was just so frakking glad he was touching her finally, she wouldn't have cared that if he couldn't do anything else.

"It's been way too long, baby," she said, and tried not to think about how depressingly true that was. Gods, what the frak had she been thinking? All that time she'd wasted...

She pushed the regret away to concentrate on how she wasn't going to make the same mistakes this time, and kissed him. Then in between little kisses and nips down his chest, she explained, "Doc said I could have my wicked way with you as much as I wanted, as long as I was careful not to put my weight on your legs."

He let out a long sigh, but seemed amused, and combed his fingers through her hair. "You asked Cottle about sex? Why am I not surprised?"

She lifted her head to grin at him. "Actually he told me. He seemed to think it would be good for you. And I figured we should follow the doctor's orders."

His hands were just as good as always, and she loved being on top of him, but she realized pretty quickly that their usual trick of letting him thrust into her while she came down wasn't going to work. So she did most of the moving, startled pleasurably when he lifted his hips to press into her briefly, and then his hands grabbed her hips and held her down tightly on him, while he said her name, over and over again, through gritted teeth and sharp corded muscles in his neck.

He realizd he'd come too early for her and slipped a hand between them to finish her off, and it was perfect.

* * *

She curled next to him, her head on his shoulder and arm across his body, listening to him breathe. The touch of his fingers absently stroking down her arm reminded her of when she'd slept like this with him, when he hadn't been able to touch her or respond to her presence at all. "Sam?" she murmured. "I'm sorry."

"For what?" he asked in surprise.

"Everything," she answered. "But mostly I'm sorry that it took you nearly dying for me to figure out how much I didn't want to lose you. And I'm sorry, I wasted all that time for nothing--"

"Shush," he murmured, and his hand rose to smooth her hair and back. "It's okay. I don't blame you, you know that, right? I understand. Even if I'd died, it wouldn't have been your fault. If something still happens to me --"

"Nothing is going to happen to you," she insisted.

"But if it does, I'm just saying, I don't want you to blame yourself. If my destiny is to die on this ship at the hand of a human, it's going to happen. God has a plan for us all, I know that. But I'm glad we can face whatever's coming together."

"Me, too."

They fell into silence, but Kara could tell he wasn't sleepy any more than she was.

She swallowed hard, took a deep breath, and said, "When we were on Earth, I found my body. My ... dead body, with a dog tag and the ring on it, in the wreck of my crashed Viper. I'm not the Kara you met on Caprica. I have no idea what I am."

His fingers stroking her hair didn't falter and he didn't flinch at her words. After a moment, he said softly, "I know."

"What?" She freed herself to go up on an elbow and look at him. "How do you know?"

"Leoben told me. He thought I would have the answer for him, being one fo the Five from Earth and all that."

"Why didn't you say anything?" she asked.

He sighed. "I could barely wrap my head around having memories from two thousand years ago. Or that I woke to being a Cylon because of a frakking song I once played on Earth. I couldn't even figure out me, how could I help you?" he asked rhetorically.

"But now you know," she murmured, and settled back down where she'd been.

"Yes. Now I know. I know what you're not: you're not a Cylon. We created eight models, that's all. And no one else escaped Earth."

"What about the missing one, Daniel? Maybe he escaped and he was my dad?" Kara asked.

There was a pause, and Sam shook his head a little. "I wish I could say it was possible. But I saw the body. John murdered him."

"Oh." She thought about it for a moment, then asked more softly, "Then, what am I, Sam? How can I come back? Hell, how did I get there? Why do I remember a planet that was beautiful and green, and the planet we found was frakked and grey?"

"It was beautiful once," he murmured, and for an instant his grief shook her out of her confusion and she tightened her grip around his chest, hugging him tightly. He pressed a kiss to her hair. "The only answer I have is God sent you, Kara."

She laughed a little, but uneasily, because she was starting to believe it was true. "You sound like Leoben."

"I think you mean he sounds like me," he pointed out. "I was first, after all."

She chuckled, since it was true, but she shook her head. "That's so weird to think about. You were around when my mother enlisted." She poked him in the side. "Cradle-robber."

"Hot trophy wife," he shot back. Then his head turned abruptly to look at something in the corner. She lifted her head to see what he was looking at and saw nothing. He squeezed his eyes shut and looked again.

"What do you see?" she asked quietly. At least he had already identified this one as unreal. Once, in the rehab center, he had held a conversation with one, before realizing the Six he was seeing was imaginary.

"There's nothing there. I know that," he said and rubbed at his eyes as if he could erase it.

She grabbed his wrist and pulled his hand away. "Stop it; it's not your eyes. What is it?"

"Just a ... shadow. In my peripheral vision. Like there's someone in dark clothes standing there, but it's not there when I look straight at it. Frakking annoying." He shut his eyes.

She touched his hair, running her fingers through it. "Cottle and Gerard warned us. Brain glitch, that's all."

He gave a short sigh. "Gerard told me I'm lucky - I could have partial blindness. It doesn't feel much like luck when I see things I know don't exist though." Then he paused as if struck by a sudden thought, frowned and lifted his head, opening his eyes again. He muttered, "I'd forgotten I can project. But I still see it. That is so screwy. I see hallucinations in my hallucinations."

He shook his head once, as if to banish the images, and put his head back on the pillow.

"You have a frakked up brain," she agreed, cheerfully. "But I knew that when you agreed to marry me." She poked him in the arm, right in the ring of his tattoo.

"I was hungover," he protested, smiling, and lifted his hand to pull a lock of hair through his fingers. "But I knew what I was getting into."

She scoffed. "Really? You knew you'd be getting a bitchy dead girl with more issues than Caprica Sports Daily?"

"The bitch with issues part I knew the day we met," he retorted, and chuckled when she poked him in the ribs. Then he added wryly, "Besides, I think turning into a brain damaged Cylon paid you back."

"With interest." She laughed softly and swung a leg over his hips, so she could look down into his face. "Good thing we have each other, huh? Nobody else would put up with us."

She knew he was still seeing it by the fixed way he was looking at her, so she grinned and set about distracting him the best way she knew how.

* * *

(Hera gets kidnapped and they realize that Sam's prophecy when he awoke was about Hera and the numbers are the jump coordinates of the Colony. Then, presumably it goes boom and everyone's safe.)

They live happily ever after. The end.

Tags: ,
 
 
 
Samanthor: BSG: Starbuck/Sam -- Sexkleenexcow on September 19th, 2012 04:48 am (UTC)
Yay! I'm so glad you posted this! It was really interesting to see your take on how things might haven shaken out, and I loved how you put Kara's stubbornness to good use in not letting Sam push her away:

"Remember I said the same to you, once? That if you stayed I was going to hurt you?" she said softly and walked around so she could see his profile. "So we went our separate ways. The thing I learned from that is we suck at dealing with this shit on our own. So, no, I'm not leaving. If you need a target, I'm here."
Oh, Kara! Yes YES. And she's so supportive, in her pragmatic way. Love her. Love Sam. Love you. Awesome job! *pom poms*

And, guh, genius!Sam gets me every time. Brains and brawn, swoon.
lizardbeth: Anders-Kara - eojlizardbeth_j on September 19th, 2012 10:03 pm (UTC)
I always feel terrible about posting "publishing" something so obviously incomplete, but I figured this one at least the character bits were strong enough I could post it anyway. So I'm glad it was worthwhile. :)

Alas this one you don't get a lot of genius!Sam, but yeah. UNF.

Thanks!
Samanthor: BSG: Starbuck/Sam -- Shippykleenexcow on September 19th, 2012 10:07 pm (UTC)
Hey, Ellen's description was enough to hit that sweet spot! :D
Galactic Cupcake: run and tell all of the angelslostinapapercup on September 19th, 2012 05:47 am (UTC)
*twirls you!*

It's SO interesting to read this version of events. Naturally I kind of adore anything that leads to Sam not having to go hybrid and fly into a fiery death, but there's a lot I really love about what you've done here. I think you treat Sam's injury and recovery with respect -- no fast gimmicky cure-alls -- and I loved the idea of Kara turning to Ellen when she wasn't sure where else to go. I also lovelovelove the idea of Leoben seeking answers from Sam after Kara found her body on Earth. Oh man, that's such a fascinating idea. I'd read it in a heartbeat.

I love how stubbornly supportive Kara is. She wouldn't know any other way of doing it! And:
"We should find you a pair of those game warm-ups with the sticky seams," she suggested, and grinned, "then I could just rip them off."
Haha, I'm pretty sure she thinks this when he's fully mobile, too.

So glad you shared this!
lizardbeth: Anders-Kara - Sam grinlizardbeth_j on September 19th, 2012 11:25 pm (UTC)
Lack of hybrid and fiery death was definitely an inspiration! :) Plus, yeah, giving a chance to Kara to be supportive, and learn from her mistakes.

Leoben coming to him after Earth is one of my floating bits of fanon that crops up once in a while. He was just so stunned, I think he'd try to find answers, even if Sam wouldn't actually have any.

Glad you didn't mind the unfinished nature of it! Thanks for reading. :)
entertaining in a disturbing way: Kara and Sam are angstylyssie on October 20th, 2012 05:48 pm (UTC)
I am finally managing to get round to feedback (getting used to being back at a full-time job was exhausting)--I read this, and was sad that there wasn't more.

BUT, I do get that bits and pieces were pulled to other things. And I can infer where the rest of it went.

I really liked it, though. And it makes me bittersweet over the show being closed canon and gone.