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31 December 2008 @ 10:55 pm
Fic: Crossing the Bar 1/1  
Crossing the Bar
Pairing: Natalie/Sam Anders
Rating: R
Summary: In the space between the end and a new beginning, she is not alone.

Author's Note: To my Flist, may the New Year bring you a new beginning of contentment and peace.

Crossing the Bar

She reached out to the figure, as the light grew so bright it filled her vision. She couldn't see the face, but somehow she knew it wasn't Cottle anymore. Just when the light grew the brightest, she felt a light touch on her lips that took all the pain away.

Then she heard a voice say with infinite compassion, "It's all right. I'm with you."

* * *

Natalie opened her eyes, blinking in confusion. She'd been dying. She'd thought there would be nothing, just an end. Not waking up.

Had she downloaded into a new body? Perhaps there had been a resurrection ship closer than she'd thought.

But this was no resurrection facility. She was lying on the ground, in a forest. It looked just like her projection - with the high trees and the sunlight filtering through the green leaves - but when she tried to look past it, to see what was really there, the forest remained. It seemed real - and yet how could that be? Where was she?

Frowning in puzzlement, but no actual alarm, she stood up, smoothing her soft white dress, and she set off to discover where she was. The springy grass was soft beneath her bare feet.

She passed seven tall trees with silvery bark before she emerged into a clearing. There was a stream winding its way through the grass on the opposite side, nearly hidden by bunches of purple and yellow wild irises growing along the banks. Between the edge where she stood and the stream, there was a large grey rock with someone sitting on it. He was turned away so she couldn't tell who it was, only that he had short brown hair and was wearing black pants and a gray tank top. "Hello?" she called, and drew nearer. He glanced around at her voice and she recognized him. "Anders?" she asked, now even more confused. "What are you doing here?"

He turned where he sat, putting his bare feet on the ground. He smiled, looking genuinely pleased to see her. "Natalie."

The angle of the sun made his eyes gleam. They were so blue -- it was like looking into the blue sky above the trees. Then she realized this was the first time she'd seen him smile. She'd seen his eyes full of pain and grief and fury and even mercy - but nothing as perfectly beautiful as this. Her breath caught in her chest, and she moved closer, until she was touching his knees with her legs and he had to look up to see her. "Sam... Where are we? The last thing I remember ... Sharon shot me, and I was dying... "

The memory caught her, seeing it all again -- Sharon's face, the pain of her wounds, the flurry around her as she was taken to the infirmary and the peace that followed... His voice stirred her from the memory. "Maybe you did."

Though she suspected he was right, she didn't want to believe it was true. "But... " she looked around at the forest then back at him, shaking her head. "But you're here. Am I projecting you? Why am I projecting you?"

"Dying's not easy," he answered softly. "Maybe you wanted help. Maybe you didn't want to be alone. Neither did I."

"Oh. So we're both dead?" She looked down, feeling saddened by the knowledge that he was dead too. She wondered how it had happened. Strange that she would be more upset by that, than her own death. "I'm sorry."

"Hey, it's all right." He grasped her chin and raised it so her eyes would meet his. "At least we're together."

"I'm glad," she agreed in relief. She'd never been alone before, and even if he was her complete imagination, she didn't want to be alone in this place either.

This close, he seemed larger than she remembered. He was taller and broader than a Four, and even seated on the rock he was only a little shorter than she was. But despite his size, despite the violence that she knew he'd committed, there was something gentle about him - something that pulled at her. His fingers were still on her jaw, and his touch made her stomach flutter.

She looked at his bare shoulders and his throat. She wanted to touch him and feel his skin under his fingers, wondering what it would feel like. The unfairness of dying just as she'd understood what it meant to be alive hit her, and anger was a bright little flame inside. There was so much she hadn't done, and now she wouldn't have the chance to do it.

Sam's thumb brushed her lips once and she shivered. For a moment that seemed to last forever, she looked into his eyes and she wondered if it wasn't too late, after all.

"Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?" he murmured. "You... glow." His fingertips traced her jaw back to her ear and gently into her hair.

"I'm one of many."

He shook his head once and combed out a lock of her hair between his fingers, lightly tugging her nearer. "You're more. You're you. Trust me, I know."

"I trust you," she murmured. She thought she shouldn't, but then recalled how he'd been the only one to comfort the Eight as she died. He didn't hate blindly, and he grieved for all death - a stranger Eight as well as his old friend. She felt ... safe.

Her hand touched his shoulder, at first lightly, but when his only reaction was to smile in encouragement, she closed her fingers around the solid strength. Her stomach tightened and felt fluttery inside at the touch. He was warm, and the skin was soft even though the feel of the muscle was firmer. Her hand slid down the curve of his shoulder and down his arm and back up.

She wanted to touch more. She turned her hips to nudge between his knees. He let her come close, gazing at her as if she was the only thing that mattered anywhere.

It felt like the easiest thing in the world to lean into him, tilting her head. He took up her invitation, holding her face in both his hands and his mouth touched hers. Her eyes closed, wanting to capture every instant and every feeling as his lips tasted hers. They tasted her thoroughly, until she was clutching at his shoulders. She had other memories and experiences, from other Sixes, but never before like this. Nothing so completely her own.

She pushed urgently into him, closer, and he had to put a hand behind himself against the rock to keep them upright. She couldn't get enough of touching him, her hands on his arms and shoulders and into his short hair. But she wanted more.

Her fingers sought the hem of his shirt and paused. "Sam...?"

"What? I'm going to stop a beautiful woman from taking off my clothes?" he teased, and she grinned, pulling the shirt up and off. She threw it heedlessly to the side and moved in for another kiss, now with a lot more skin to explore. He unbuttoned her dress down the front, kissing every bit of skin as he laid it bare, and she held his shoulders, biting her lower lip as new feelings stirred inside her.

Her dress eventually slithered down her hips to the grass, and his pants joined it.

She expected the grass to be prickly, but it was soft and a bit springy, and smelled fresh and alive when she pulled him down on her.

He knew just what to do, making her breath short and her skin quiver with need, as his fingers found exactly what she needed. "Oh yes, please, please," she panted. She shuddered, held tight in the grip of the rising heat. "Sam, hurry, I need you."

"Patience," he counseled, smiling wickedly.

"No, no patience -- now."

'Now' didn't happen soon enough, but when it did, the wait was worth it. It felt a little like dying, but in reverse, overwhelmed by the light and heat and the feeling rushing through her.

And best of all, this moment of connection belonged to her alone.

* * *

She watched him for a little while, how the sun caught in his hair turning strands of it as golden as her own. Her heart was so full of emotions, all in a tangle, bursting through her. She let her fingers linger on his cheekbones, tracing his nose and the line of his jaw. "I feel alive," she whispered. "How can that be?"

He turned his head toward her, smiling smugly. "Believe me, it was my pleasure."

"Mine too," she said, and kissed him again. It was so easy to lose herself in his mouth and the feel of him under her hands, and the way his hands caressed her. Eventually, she pulled away and sat up. He watched as she pulled her dress back over her head and made a tent with the skirt over her knees. She let her gaze rest on his body in lazy appreciation as he closed his eyes and lay there, looking as if he should be purring. She was content and didn't want to move.

They stayed there for awhile absorbing the sun and listening to the stream.

"We can't stay here forever I suppose," he murmured eventually. He sighed a bit and reached for his clothes.

She frowned as he pulled his shirt over his head. She could see both arms, and she remembered the large mark that had been on his arm before. It wasn't there.

"Wait, didn't you have a tattoo?" she asked in confusion. "On your arm?"

He glanced down at his arm, touching where it had been with his opposite hand then dropped his hand. "Yes, but it's not for you," he answered, as though there was no reason it shouldn't disappear. Though, perhaps, there wasn't. This wasn't real life, no matter how real it felt.

He put on his pants and and straightened, which put the sun directly behind him, so the light dazzled her eyes and the shirt seemed to dissolve into the hazy brilliance. But she could see the hand he held out from within the streaming light. "We need to keep going. Come with me."

It was the same as she had seen before: the same voice, the same bright light, and the same offered hand. Her eyes widened in sudden understanding. "Who are you?" she breathed. "You're not really Sam Anders, are you?"

He moved a step toward her, out of the brightness, and became himself again. But she remembered and wasn't fooled. He smiled ruefully and answered, "I am, but not exactly. It's ... complicated."

"Complicated?" she repeated curiously.

"I'll tell you all about it," he promised. "But don't worry; we have nothing but time."

She looked around at the clearing and then back up at him, and nodded slowly, feeling a little uneasy. The forest hadn't changed and yet she felt as though she was standing on the edge of a deep cliff, or perhaps the shore of a wave-tossed sea. She felt small and alone.

He shook his head a little. "You're not alone." The warmth of his smile comforted her. "Let's see what else this place holds, Natalie. We'll go together, I promise."

She put her hand in his, and all her fear and uncertainty washed away. He pulled her to her feet. Hand-in-hand, they crossed over the little stream to whatever lay on the other side.

And with an hour to spare (my time) ...
Happy New Year, Flisters!
patron saint of neglected female characters: anders-musicrose_griffes on January 1st, 2009 06:49 pm (UTC)
Aww... sweet!
lizardbeth: Anders - gunlizardbeth_j on January 2nd, 2009 06:22 am (UTC)
thanks! happy new year!
Mayhem Parvaraincitygirl on January 1st, 2009 07:08 pm (UTC)
Oh Natalie.

Damnit, now I wish even MORE that she wasn't dead.
lizardbeth: Anders-Kara - Believethlizardbeth_j on January 2nd, 2009 06:36 am (UTC)
yeah, poor Natalie. It didn't seem right that she die alone, so I decided to take care of it. *nods*
cujoy on January 2nd, 2009 12:48 am (UTC)
::hearts:: This is a very sweet story. Natalie was such a great character to waste like that. And Sammy is the perfect Angel.
lizardbeth: Anders- demetriuslizardbeth_j on January 2nd, 2009 06:43 am (UTC)
Thanks. and yep, I know who I would want to be there to guide me to the other side of the river...
♛ part-time maenad: bsg; is she imaginary or is she real?radon_ on January 3rd, 2009 10:32 am (UTC)
Oh Natalie ♥ It's a lovely fic. Thank you!
lizardbeth: Natalielizardbeth_j on January 3rd, 2009 10:21 pm (UTC)
Natalie was awesomely badass, yes. *nods*

Glad you enjoyed it!
Astolattheastolat on January 3rd, 2009 04:00 pm (UTC)
Thank the Gods for interesting fics. (See? I don't always need femslash.)

This was magnificent. Really beautiful. I love the symbolism. (7 trees!)

I love what this implies. That Natalie was really and deeply moved by Sam's gesture on the baseship and that she would want the kind of comfort he offered if she were to be dying.

It's also interesting your vision of Cylon death/afterlife. Seems to be a journey of visually impulses and emotional attachments gathered in life that may somehow corrupt itself in the event of death. I don't use the term corrupt in its negative connotations, but simply to mean that it results in an abstract scape similar to a dream.

That this happens to be so vivid as to be effectively real is also interesting. If the Cylons really are just data, then their reality is as real in life as it could be in dreams, in daydreams or fantasy, or in death.

Anyway, getting all philosophical. I really loved this fic. It's very sweet, very clever.
lizardbeth: Natalielizardbeth_j on January 3rd, 2009 10:38 pm (UTC)
See, now this is what is AWESOME about thinky comments. You take what I did not intend at all (except for the part about Natalie being moved by Sam's help of the Eight) and got your own meaning out of it. So now I feel the need to share mine...

This is based on my personal theory of the meaning/existence of the Opera House/the River (as seen in Faith) as being a metaphysical space between life and death, and the Five as being the keepers of the doorway to the afterlife. This is a meta post of its own, but it's basically an anteroom of death, but that each individual shapes it according to her needs to prepare her to cross. Sam is her guide here to the other side (whether he's an independent entity or a product of her need/mind, or if there's even a difference, I leave to you *g*).

So it's a far less 'realistic' interpretation, but yours works perfectly well with what I wrote, too, given what we can guess about Cylon/human biology. It always makes me so excited when people point out new ways to see things in what I write. :D
(Deleted comment)
lizardbeth: Kara-Anders Rapturelizardbeth_j on January 3rd, 2009 10:39 pm (UTC)
thank you!

(and that might be one of the best Chuck icons ever. very useful! hee)
zahdahezahdahe on January 4th, 2009 04:37 pm (UTC)
lizardbeth: Natalielizardbeth_j on January 5th, 2009 05:51 am (UTC)
emmiere: andersemmiere on January 5th, 2009 02:42 am (UTC)
Aww, Natalie fic! I adored her, and I'm happy that she wasn't alone in this. Hmm, I'm also curious as to how much was really Sam there. Very nice!

And the description of where they were was giving me weird flashbacks to Aslan's Mountain in the Silver Chair. So much so that I actually had to go dig out my copy and look it up. /random
lizardbeth: Natalielizardbeth_j on January 5th, 2009 05:50 am (UTC)
thanks! and yeah, I loved her too. I still have some (unreasonable?) hope that she can come back somehow. Even though that's probably sort of ridiculous and human of me.

heh. Perhaps my early childhood reading of Lewis stuck with me!
clezzy.: and feed our empty soulsclez on January 7th, 2009 04:35 am (UTC)
Awww ♥ That was really beautiful, I even welled up a little. Really nicely done!
lizardbeth: Natalielizardbeth_j on January 7th, 2009 08:08 am (UTC)
thanks. I thought Natalie deserved someone to show her the way, and who else could it be?
clezzy.: they all depend on youclez on January 7th, 2009 05:24 pm (UTC)
I really liked Natalie, and I was kind of crushed when she died; I expected her to pull through, and then they covered her with the sheet, and my sister and I had a genuine "Nooooooo!" moment :(
mamaboolj on January 10th, 2009 01:58 am (UTC)
I sure hope my spirit guide in the next life is as good....

I liked this story a lot, but especially Natalie. She seemed nearly naive and almost teenager like in some ways but still Natalie.
lizardbeth: Natalielizardbeth_j on January 10th, 2009 05:08 am (UTC)
"still Natalie" - that's good to hear, since it's very definitely supposed to be her story (Sam is pretty much a symbol). And yeah a bit of teenager in how she's ... virginal in her uncertainty.

If a guide takes the form you want, I know what mine's gonna be! *g*
entertaining in a disturbing way: Boomer Angstslyssie on January 25th, 2009 05:55 am (UTC)
It's funny that Mamaboo would bring up the teenager aspect, given that the Cylons are sort of traveling through from being children (New Caprica) to teenagerhood (rebellion and civil war).

Maybe one day they can reach adulthood, and all of its responsibilities.
entertaining in a disturbing way: sixlyssie on January 25th, 2009 06:02 am (UTC)
Oh, Natalie. Sigh. This brings up all those questions and sadnesses about the loss of a Cylon who had reached individual personhood, and was doing the right thing. And being awesome.

And Sam's afterlife self is totally good at getting the hot women. ;]

(I love how he says the tattoo isn't for her)