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05 October 2010 @ 10:06 pm
Under a Shadowed Sky, Chapter One  

Under a Shadowed Sky

Master Post
Chapter One

The memory hit like a flash of light in a pitch-black room. He was holding a guitar -- this guitar - playing his song. He could feel his own joy and peace in the music, so different from his current feeling of numb despair. He had been standing right here, playing, with the sunlight on him. It seemed to be a better, more pure version of himself.

In the next moment, the pain ripped up his spine like fire.

The memory-dream was torn away, as he gasped. "What the -- " Another wave slammed into him, and he had to bite his lip to hold back the moan at the fire across his skin.

What was happening to him? He felt as if he was burning, but on the inside of his body. Was it the radiation, doing something to his Cylon body? Was he breaking down? Maybe he was dissolving...

He staggered across the sand, blindly seeking some place to get away from this agony. He found partial walls to keep himself somewhat upright as he struggled onward, seeing solitude to curl up into this sudden hell.

He didn't cry out or look for anyone's help. No one else seemed to notice, anyway.

He stumbled his way through the ruins, finally driven to his knees as another jolt of nauseating pain went through him.

Right in front him was Tory, curled up at the base of a wall, moaning softly. "Tory?" he asked hoarsely, scarcely able to speak.

She opened her eyes, which were wet with tears. "What's happening to us?"

"I don't know. But frakking gods, it hurts." He intended to get to his feet and move past, but a new wave went through him, and his flightsuit was suddenly too tight, too hot.

"Are we dying?" Tory moaned and choked on a cry as she convulsed in the sand.

Her back was swollen, he saw through his tears -- she'd already thrown off her jacket and her blouse was stretched around a large growth on her middle back. The same thing was growing on him, he thought. Panicked horror rose through him, wanting to get rid of it.

"Frak." He peeled out of his jacket and unzipped his flightsuit. For a few seconds, the cold air numbed the pain, but then another pulse sent him into the sand, helpless to do anything but endure.

"Sam," Tory pleaded. He forced himself to look, finding her hand close to his, but she couldn't reach him.

Even though he didn't want anything to do with Tory anymore, this wasn't the time. Right now it was about what they were suffering together, so he gripped her hand tightly.

Whatever the hell was happening to them, at least they weren't each suffering alone.

Every beat of his heart pushed liquid fire through his veins, burning his bones. It didn't stop, didn't let up, until finally, it all went grey and then black.


"Sam?" a whisper woke him, and he stirred.

He didn't hurt any more but he felt wet and cold. His mouth was as dry as the sand beneath him.

He stirred, lifting his head, and nearly fell over when he couldn't keep his torso upright. He tried again, pushing up with his trembling arms.

"Oh my gods. Sam, what's happening to us?" Tory whispered. He looked at her.

At first he couldn't understand what he was seeing. There was Tory, clutching her shirt to her chest, with her black hair loose on her bare shoulders. And she had a ... lump on her back. It was some sort of huge tumor-like thing, with vague shapes underneath a clear membrane of skin, reminding him of the amniotic sack of some animals.

"Yours broke," she whispered. She reached behind him and touched something. He shivered and looked over his shoulder - there were strips of membrane he found first, but most of all, there were these... things. He shrugged his shoulders and felt the weight on his shoulder-blades and strange new muscles in his back and his chest.

"I think they're wings," she murmured.

"Wings?" he repeated. "No frakking way. We're toasters, not frakking birds."

She winced. "They're wings," she repeated and nearly fell over when she overbalanced, reaching over to open up one of the things hanging off him. She tugged the tip gently around - and he could feel it, as if she was touching one of his toes, but not quite, and he could feel something stretching.

It looked like a wing tip. He thought at first it was like a bat's, all skin and bone, but when he touched it he realized there were feathers -- they were wet and stuck together, but they were feathers.

Feathers. Wings. Frakking wings.

He stared and shook his head in confusion. Bad enough being a frakking Cylon, now he was... what? A Cylon bird? Some kind of freak, in any case. Roslin was going to airlock them all, amnesty or no amnesty, and he couldn't say she'd be wrong to do it either.

Tory jerked and shifted. "Sam, could you -- could you please?" she asked and turned to show him her back. "I need--"

She needed to open her wings. He swallowed and grabbed a hold of the membrane and with a twist, he'd broken it. A rush of clear fluid mixed with a little blood came out first. She gasped with the sharp pain, but then let out a sigh as he gently helped her wings out of the confinement. Hers seemed darker than his.

"That's much better," she said, and gave herself a full body shake so the wings flopped out, draping inelegantly down to the sand.

He climbed to his feet, having trouble finding his balance at first with the weight hanging strangely behind him like a heavy, wet cloak off his shoulders. But with some experimentation he learned to shrug in a new way and move them up and down, and then abruptly, as if the connection formed to his brain, the wings snapped open to either side of him.

It was peculiar. He could feel the breeze on them as if he had another set of arms, but it felt... good. His tanks had split up the back, so he tugged the remnants away, to stand half-naked and cold, but he scarcely noticed as he held the wings out, learning how to stretch them out and then how to work a new set of muscles in his back to draw them back together.

"That's beautiful," Tory whispered, gazing up at him.

When he held them out at full extent, they were each at least as long as he was tall. Now that they were drying, the feathers were lightening, turning more of a dove grey color.

"You're thinner," she told him, giving him a look up and down.

He didn't feel any lighter, but realized she was right, since his flight suit was barely hanging on his hips. He tightened the belt as far as it would go - all four notches - and it was still loose. His wrists looked more bony than he remembered.

He caught the tip of one wing in his hand, combing his fingers through the feathers. Some were very stiff, and some were soft, and they ranged in size as well. "Do you think we can fly?" he wondered. "If we converted enough mass to the wings away from our bones - these look like they might be long enough to carry me..."

She shook her head in wonder, still staring. "I don't know... It seems risky, though."

"I'd rather die trying to fly, than get airlocked as a freak."

"Good point," she agreed and held up a hand for him to help her to her feet. When he pulled her up, she seemed the same weight, but her hand felt delicate grasping his. Her wings were black like her hair, so for a moment it seemed that she had hair down to the ground before she flexed her shoulders and snapped them outward as he had.

"Oh, yours are beautiful," Sam said in admiration. "Like a raven." He ran a hand across his own with a wry smile. "Instead of a pigeon."

She shook her head. "That's no pigeon I've ever seen. Yours shimmer all silvery."

Sam found he couldn't stop combing his fingers through his feathers, fluffing and straightening them. The repetitive task was soothing, as long as he didn't think about what he was doing, which was preening. It was so ridiculous and impossible and freakish that his brain shut off, not wanting to deal with it. It was much better to smooth the feathers and not think about anything.

He heard footsteps of someone approaching and in the jolt of panic and embarrassment, looked around wildly for a place to hide. Which was ludicrous, since he had enormous frakking wings. He couldn't possibly hide them anywhere.

He and Tory exchanged a look of resignation and then turned to face the inevitable discovery.

But Galen stumbled into view around the ruins, and he stared at them. "Oh thank the gods, I thought it might just be me."

Galen was obviously thinner, his entire body shape changing to something less burly. His wings were black like Tory's, still hanging limply down, all bedraggled.

"The colonel?" Sam asked. It had to be all four of them.

Galen shook his head. "I don't know. He was down at the beach, last I saw." His lip twitched a half-smile of morbid humor. "He's probably going to Adama right now to turn us all in. Again."

"The Cylons will give us refuge," Tory said.

Galen looked at her, lifting his brows in skepticism. "You think? I don't know what the frak we are, but we're sure not Cylons like them. I remember this place --" His gaze wandered away among the ruins. "Right before I felt that pain, I remembered it. As it was."

"Me, too," Sam agreed, remembering playing the guitar again. He'd never played it in the Colonies -- didn't even know how -- but now he knew he could. "You know that frakking song? I was playing it on a guitar right before... right before... " He stopped, not wanting to put words to it and make it real. But he knew what that blinding flash of light had been.

"Before we died," Tory finished for him.

"Yeah." The breeze picked up and unconsciously he brought the wings forward, shielding his body and keeping him warmer.

They all stared at each other. It felt like that moment when they'd all stared in horror at realizing what they were; now they were staring because they had no frakking clue.

"Were they all like this?" Tory wondered and brushed her hand against the nearest partial wall, bits of concrete crumbling away. "Our people? The buildings across the water were tall. But there's a bridge - they wouldn't need a bridge if they could fly..."

Galen shook his head. "It's impossible. We'd need wings twice this size to lift our mass in this gravity."

Sam's gaze went to the bridge and the broken support tower. "I don't know if that's true..." he murmured. The tower called to him, wanting him to go to the bridge deck. It would be beautiful up there.

"It's physics," Galen said, shrugging. "We're too heavy."

"I'm gonna try it," Sam decided suddenly.

Both of them turned to him in alarm. "You'll fall," Galen warned. "Don't do it."

"It won't work," Tory echoed. "Let's get this over with. We'll go back to the landing zone and show them and see--"

He interrupted sharply. "No, I want to try it. I said I'd rather die trying to fly than be airlocked, and I meant it. Even if I fall... " he looked up at the sky above the bridge and across the water and whispered, "It'll be glorious."

"But, Sam--" Tory objected, hand on his arm.

He jerked free and stepped away. "Does it matter?" he demanded roughly. "What do I have? I don't want to live with the frakking Cylons, and the humans are never going to accept us. Not before, and sure as hell not now. So frak it. If I'm going out, it's on my terms. And I'm going to fly."

"But -- " Tory started again, but Galen grabbed her hand.

"Let him," he said. "It's his decision. One I'd make myself, if I didn't have Nicky."

"Thanks, Galen." Sam forced a bit of a smile. "If you see me again, you'll know it works."

"And if you fall off that bridge and get killed?" Tory demanded. "What do you want us to tell Kara?"

He held back the bitter words that Kara probably wouldn't care. He hoped the words weren't true, but she certainly didn't care enough. If she didn't understand or accept his being a Cylon, how the hell was she going to deal with him being something even stranger? He drew a deep breath. "If she asks, tell her I was trying to fly. She'll understand that much, I think."

"Be careful," Galen wished him.

"Before or after I throw myself off a bridge?" Sam asked wryly, and Galen chuckled. Tory looked appalled but didn't try to stop him again as he walked away.

He headed toward the bridge, hiding once behind a partial wall when he saw Karl and Sharon heading back toward the landing area.

Then he was alone. His footsteps seemed to echo, crunching the sand under his feet.

At the base of the bridge tower, he stripped off the bottom of his flightsuit, leaving him in shorts and socks. It was chilly, but there was no way to zip the flightsuit up and it would get in the way if he left it hanging. Then he started to climb.

The concrete was cracking and crumbling, which made it both easier and more dangerous to climb, especially with a weight hanging off his back. But he figured out that if he extended the wings, the wind could catch the backs and keep him against the wall. By the time he got to the top, the pads of his fingers were rough and his nails were broken.

He crawled up over the edge and onto the old road bed. He stood up cautiously, wary of rusty girders that might not be willing to support his extra weight, but it seemed solid enough. He kept the wings close for warmth, since the wind was even stronger up here.

The light was golden as the sun slipped down to the afternoon, and glimmered on the sea between him and the city across the bay. It added a welcome touch of color to the gray sand and gray ruins.

He crept to the edge and looked down. Frak. The sea was a long way down. A really long way down.

He swallowed and licked his lips, stepping backward a few paces to think about this. Baby birds didn't fly right away - they had to fledge. He was already feathered, including some as long as his forearm. Fledglings also had to practice a little before letting instinct take over.

Spreading the wings open seemed more natural already, and he stretched them out in full spread, feeling the faint ache in the tendons that opened and closed them. Then he practiced angling the wings, feeling how they caught the wind differently. It was still weird -- it felt like wind blowing through his hair, but in a different, new part of his body.

He stood there for several minutes with his eyes closed, trying to absorb it as deeply as he could.

If Galen was right, he was going to fall. Even if the wings were enough for him to glide, he'd still hit the water - possibly hard enough to get killed, and even if not, it'd be hard to swim with giant, water-logged wings dragging him down.

So, if he did this and it didn't work, he was going to die. Resurrection was gone, even if it applied to him anyway, so this was it.

But he realized he wasn't afraid. The Fleet had been brought to this place for a reason, and since that reason obviously wasn't to live here, it had to be something else. There had to be a purpose behind all this. Someone or something had woken them up with his song and then led Kara to find the signal in her ghost Viper. And surely if that Someone had bothered to give him wings, it wasn't so he'd walk around with a funny growth on his back. Wings were for flight. Someone had to try, and it might as well be him.

Before he changed his mind, he took two running steps and flung himself into the air.

-- FRAK. --

He was falling. The wings were out and catching the air, but not enough. It was not enough - he was gonna crash into the water and die - he was falling-

-- falling--

Then he moved his arms forward and he suddenly had room to pull the wings down, feeling the strain as the feathers shifted to lock in place against the air beneath him. Frak, being his own parachute hurt like hell. But his fall slowed. Then he pulled the wings down again and again, as the water got closer and closer. He lifted his feet, to straighten out his legs, holding them as near to the same plane as the wings as he could to reduce the drag.

That helped, and then he found the right way to hold the wings, pulled them down, and the resultant lift pulled him suddenly higher, away from the water.

He sucked in air and let it out in a yell. He was gliding - the wind on his skin and through his hair. His hands stretched out before him, cutting through the air like a fish through water. And for an instant, it was perfect.

Then he was falling again, and he had to flap some more. This time, he was able to gain some altitude and tried to use the wind to gain more, rising upward like a kite.

He was flying. He was actually frakking flying. And for the first time in a long time -- gods, such a long time -- he could feel the sheer joy bubbling in his chest.

Flying. Flying. He was alive.

He looked down at the water and toward the hidden sun. Then he dipped one wing to turn -- too sharply and he started to fall. Frak. Beating the wings again, he recovered and tried again, this time angling his body only a little and keeping the wings stiff. This time the turn was more gradual and graceful, and he went back toward shore.

He was grinning as he headed for the ships and when he started to see people, let out a yell to get their attention.

He saw Tory and Galen, with their shining black wings, and that had to be Saul with steel-colored wings rising behind him, nearly the same color as the sand. He saw D'Anna, and Caprica's pale blonde hair gleaming. Roslin and Adama. Apollo and Dee. Helo and Sharon. They all turned to look upward as he flew overhead.

And he shouted, "It works, Galen!" Not that Galen could probably hear him, but it didn't matter.

He was flying.

* * *

Dee heard the murmurs and the gasps, and at first resisted looking, as she held the jacks in her hand.

Some little child had once played with these, until nuclear fire had rained from the sky. The child was dead, along with her family and her entire people, and the hope of the last remnants of the Twelve Tribes as well.

So much death. They'd given so much to get here, and for what? To find a wasteland, uninhabitable by anything larger than an insect.

"What the hell?" She heard Lee say in a strange tone of voice she'd never heard before. It was enough to get her to raise her head and see what he was looking at.

She saw some sort of huge bird in the air, flying toward her, high above the ruined temple. She was first a bit amused, since everyone had been so sure there was no large animals on the planet and somehow they'd missed something half the size of a Viper.

Then she realized what it was. "Oh, my gods."

It was Sam Anders, with a huge pair of dove grey wings out to either side, and he was yelling as he flew overhead.

At first she wanted to believe he was playing a joke and wearing some kind of fake wings in a harness. But she could see he wasn't. It was him, wearing only his undershorts and an enormous pair of wings growing out of his back. Somehow.

He soared above everyone, his grin bright enough to make her own heart lighten in answer, and she followed him with her eyes until he turned toward the south and disappeared from sight.

When she lowered her gaze finally, it was to find Galen and Tory and the colonel approaching on foot across the sand -- they all had wings, too.

"What happened?" Lee murmured. "How is that even possible?"

She seized his hand. "I think..." she started, and when she didn't finish, he glanced down at her, a bemused smile on his lips. He pulled her to her feet, and she glanced at the three winged Cylons and thought about the one who'd flown overhead. "I think it means we came here for a reason, Lee. Not the reason we all thought we were here, but for this. It's amazing."

"It is," he agreed. His eyes met hers, and they were full of the same new-found wonder. Her breath caught.

His free hand touched her cheek, and she could feel his fingers were trembling a little. His throat worked, as if he wanted to say something, and finally he murmured, "I miss you." Then he flushed, and took his hand away, as if he'd said too much, but she grabbed his hand again.

Her lips widened into a smile. "Seeing that makes me think anything's possible," she murmured.

"Anything?" he repeated as if he wanted to make sure that he had heard her correctly.

"Anything," she said and squeezed his hand.

He nodded, and could only manage to stare at her a moment, and she saw all his regrets, but also his love still there. Then he cleared his throat, "Then, I was wondering... if you'd like to start over. Would you like a drink at Joes, when we're back?"

She didn't make him wait. "I'd like that."

This place was an ending to so many things, but maybe it could also be a beginning.

She put the jacks in her jacket pocket and though she let go of Lee's hand, she stayed close to him as they went to join the Admiral, who was about to confront his XO's latest change in status.

* * *

Sam didn't see Kara down there, and he had the sudden urge to find her. It might be courting her disdain or disgust, but he had to show her what he'd become. Going to her was like wiggling a loose tooth -- it might be painful, but he couldn't stop trying.

There, coming up from the south, was Leoben. His dumbfounded expression was easy to read from twenty meters up, as he stared at Sam. Leoben looked alone, which suggested he'd left Kara southward someplace.

Sam gained some more altitude, feeling his chest and shoulders and back start to ache. He was going to have to land soon. But he could find Kara first.

He squinted downward, looking for her bright blonde hair among the vegetation and grey sand. He should get goggles -- the wind was making his eyes water and it was hard to see.

He saw the glint of metal before he saw Kara and glided around in a slow circle, realizing it looked like a Viper engine cone. And there was a piece of stabilizer. And a chunk of the fuselage, with Kara standing nearby. She didn't seem to notice the big bird in the sky.

Coming down was more like a combat landing a Viper on the deck of Galactica than he wanted it to be. He picked a nice wide grassy area and glided downward, touching his feet and running along the ground and then held out the wings as a brake.

The force slammed him to such a sudden stop he pitched forward on his face, right into the hard ground and dry grass.

"Damn it," he muttered and stayed there a moment while he tried to get his breath back. He was going to have to practice landings.

His whole body ached in new and interesting ways, too, even his abdominals and lats were aching as if they'd had a hard workout. When he pushed himself upright, his arms trembled, and when he climbed to his feet, he could barely lift the wings high enough so they didn't drag the ground.

Finding Kara wasn't difficult - she was standing in the same place at the far edge of the meadow. She was still facing away, as he got closer, and he didn't think she'd noticed at all.

But she heard him approaching through the dry grass and taunted loudly, without looking, "My destiny not quite what you expected, you coward? Well you can take your prophecies and your streams and shove them all up your ass. Get the frak away from me."

Sam knew she thought it was Leoben coming back, but stopped a few paces behind her anyway. "Kara?"

She stiffened and took a moment to answer, "Go away, Sam. Don't look at it. You won't like it."

He'd already seen it from the air, and he knew what it was. "It's your old Viper, isn't it?" he asked, though it wasn't much of a question.

"There's a pilot in it," she added and laughed; it was a short, brittle sound. "There's me in it. How the hell is that possible? What am I, Sam? Leoben didn't know, but you're one of the frakking Final Five. Maybe you know."

"I don't even know what I am, Kara," he answered softly.

"Yeah, I figured. So you gonna run away, too? Frakking toasters," she bit out in disgust.

He ignored the attack, realizing she was being confronted with something inexplicable, too.

"I'm not running away," he answered. "But you might want me to, once you see what's happened. Kara, turn around." She resisted, staring at the thing in the cockpit. "Please, look at me. You have to see."

"See what?" she demanded, and turned. Her eyes grew round with stunned disbelief. "What the frak?"

He pushed through his tiredness and opened his wings to their full span. She stared. He explained haltingly, "Somehow, in the past few hours, this happened. To me and the other three. Something ... triggered us, again, to change us."

"Lords of Kobol," she muttered.

When she didn't say anything more, he rushed to fill the silence, "I don't know how, I don't why, or what it means, or really much of anything, but it happened. And I know that makes me a freak. I'm something stranger than a Cylon, or a different kind of Cylon or, frak, I don't even know - but I can't think of it as terrible. Not when I can fly."

He moved them once, sending a rush of air across the grass, but winced at the pain of overstrained muscles in his chest and back. He let out a breath and furled the wings up against his back to rest them. It left his front side chilled, and he folded his arms, trying vainly to keep some heat in.

"You can fly?" she repeated in wonder.

"I flew all the way from the bridge ruin, and boy, are my wings tired," he quipped, and it was a lame joke, but it did make her lips twitch in amusement.

"That's impossible," she said.

"It's not. Look, the point is - you're not the only one who doesn't know what the frak you are, Kara. You might have come back from the dead, or whatever, but I remember this place. Somehow, I remember it even though it got nuked to hell over a thousand years ago. And look at me, I have frakking wings. I can't explain any of it."

He pulled in a deep breath, determined to let her hear all of it, while she was listening. "But I'm tired of sitting around, waiting to die. I'm tired of being without hope, existing from day to day, wondering when it's all gonna end. When I was flying, I remembered what it was like to feel alive again." Her face was giving nothing away, and he gave a little shrug. "But if you can't accept what's happened, then fine, that's your choice. If this is too much, I get that. Neither of us are who we were before. But I have to believe we - you and I - are like this for a reason, and our purpose isn't over yet."

He stopped, needing to catch his breath after the passionate speech rushed out of him, and Kara still didn't say anything. His shoulders slumped in disappointment. He told himself he'd known this would happen; it wasn't unexpected. He'd thrown his last shot, and he'd missed. Game over.

He waited another breath or two and then turned toward the landing area, to start walking toward the ships, back the way he'd flown.

Then she murmured, in such a soft voice he almost didn't hear, "Sam?"

He turned back. She was looking after him with an expression he couldn't decipher -- confusion, fear, concern, and wonder, too. "Yes?" he asked cautiously, not daring to let himself hope.

Then she took two steps toward him. "Shut up." She threw a hand around his neck to pull him down, mouth on hers to kiss him deeply. He kissed back, his hands rising to frame her face.

The heat of her lips stung, waking blood turned sluggish by the cold. He pressed closer, warming himself on her fire. He didn't know if this meant 'stay' or 'goodbye', but at least for the moment, he let himself get lost in it, burying his doubt and confusion in the familiar touch of her mouth.

Her hand felt hot on his skin, when she dropped it on his shoulder. Then she recoiled backward with a gasp. "Frak, Sam, you're like ice."

"My jacket doesn't exactly fit anymore," he shrugged, giving her a wry smile. Now that she wasn't right up against him, he shivered. The sun was now completely hidden behind the thicker western clouds, and frigid wind brushed against his skin.

"We'll have to do something about that," she declared, "because you can't walk around mostly naked like this. Nice though it may be to look at," she added, her gaze slipping downward with a smirk, "I'm not much for sharing."

"Oh yeah?" he returned, smiling.

"Nope. You may be some kind of Cylon-bird hybrid whatever, but you're my Cylon-bird hybrid whatever," she said with a casual shrug and a smile, knowing exactly what she was saying without saying, and the hope that had lain dormant in his chest burst back to life.

"And you're my miracle," he whispered and kissed her lips again, mouth opening for her insistent tongue, then dropping to kiss her neck, eager to taste all of her after so long apart.

But the moment was broken when he shivered again, more violently, and his teeth chattered.

"You're freezing," she realized. Both her hands started rubbing at his shoulders and down his arms briskly, trying to warm him up.

"It's okay," he protested. "Let's not worry about that, right now." He didn't want to waste a moment over something so dumb as being a little cold. He was bending to kiss her again and somehow lost his balance, falling into her.

"Sam!" Kara caught him, staggering backward with him in her arms until he got his feet under him and could pull back.

"Sorry. A little light-headed."

She frowned at him. "Have you eaten?"

"Not since the ship," he said, with a shrug.

"I'm certainly no expert on flying Cylons," her lips flashed a smile at the absurdity of it, "but I'd think a change like that, plus flying, would have to use up a lot of energy." Her gaze dropped again, this time frowning at him in concern. "You look like you dropped fifteen kilos since I saw you last."

"Don't worry about it, I'm fine," he protested. But she was likely right. He'd thought he was sort of nauseated, but it was probably hunger.

She considered him for a moment and shook her head. "Yeah, I've heard that before from the idiot who nearly killed himself playing in the mud on New Caprica when he had pneumonia."

He wanted to retort something sarcastic, but couldn't think of anything, as he shivered again. The air wasn't even that cold, but he felt like all the warmth was being leached from his body.

"Ok, that's it," she muttered, sounding irritated. She fingered her jacket as if plotting to give it to him, but there was no way it would fit, even if he hadn't grown wings. Her frown turned grumpy. Then her eyes flickered with a sudden idea and she turned to the Viper cockpit, heading back to it with a decisive step. She rooted beneath the seat, coming up with the emergency kit. "At least this is good for something," she muttered and popped the case open on the ground.

It was stocked with the usual medical supplies and survival gear, including a folded foil blanket, which she pulled out and handed to him. "Here, that should help."

Trying to put it around his body beneath the wings was an exercise in trying to figure out where his new body parts were located. He found he could wrap the blanket around his torso, beneath the wings. That left the bulk of the feathers outside, hanging from the 'elbow' joint behind his head and falling in a tidy line nearly to his knees. His shoulders and lower legs were still bare, but at least his middle was warming up.

Then she ripped open a ration bar and handed it to him. "Eat it."

He eyed it in disgust and broke it, trying to give her back a half. "Here, you should eat, too."

She folded her arms in refusal and glared at him. "I'm not the one about to pass out. And I can't carry your ass back to the ships. So, eat it."

"I am not about to pass out," he protested and had to blink, as the edges of his vision rippled. So maybe he was a little closer to passing out than he wanted to admit. He took a reluctant nibble of the ration bar. He must have been even hungrier than he'd thought, because it actually tasted pretty delicious. He disposed of it in four bites under Kara's watchful eye.

"Better?" she asked.

"Yeah, thanks."

"Good, then you can help me with ... me." She turned back to the Viper, her arms folded. "I want to get rid of it before anyone else sees."

He moved up beside her. "That's not you," he told her.

She glanced up at him, a distressed line between her brows and liquid eyes. "It is! It's my old Viper, I found the number back over there. And that ... thing in there was wearing my tags!" She took a long chain out of her jacket pocket and flung something at Sam. He caught it against his chest, dangling a single dog tag and a ring on a chain from his fingers, that matched the one still hanging at her chest. She went on, more quietly, "It's me. Which makes this..." she tugged at her jacket collar, "this body not me. I feel like me, I remember me, but that's the real me. That's the Kara you met on Caprica."

He shook his head in disagreement. "I... can't explain how you came back, though I know the gods have a lot to do with it," he said slowly, "But, Kara, Apollo saw your Viper blow up. If that original Viper exists at all, it's in a million pieces inside that gas giant. Whatever brought you back, must have also made this, same as they sent you back in that shiny new Viper."

She rocked back on her heels as if the thought hadn't occurred to her, that this Viper and the body in it were no more 'real' than she was. But Sam knew any force capable of resurrecting Kara and rebuilding her Viper, was easily capable of making a crash scene as well. Which wasn't to say it wasn't disturbing to look at the Viper pieces and remember his grief when she'd died. He'd lost himself that day and had been building himself back up when the Cylon thing had cracked it all open again.

Strangely enough wings seemed to be helping, not breaking him apart again. Maybe he'd had so much thrown at him lately he didn't care anymore. Or maybe the wonder of flying under his own power made up for the confusion and weirdness.

Kara stared at the corpse in the cockpit for a long time in the orange light, before asking in a low, ragged voice, "But why? Why would the gods want me to find my body like this?"

He put his arm over her shoulders and it was a measure of her distress that she let him, pushing closer to his body. He was careful to hold her away from the wings, in case the touch freaked her out. "I don't know." He kissed her hair and rested his cheek on it. "I'm stumbling around in this, same as you. But I believe there's a reason."

"I'd like to believe that."

"Believe it. Whatever's going on, wherever we're going, it's not done yet."

"You're full of cheerful thoughts," she muttered and pulled away with a deep breath. "Come on, let's get rid of this thing before someone finds us and we lose the light."

She started for the Viper, but he caught her shoulder. "Let me do it, Kara. You build a fire."

She hesitated, as if she wanted to object, but then she nodded. "All right." She moved away to start collecting wood, and he waited until she was out of sight to hang the extra chain around his neck and then he went up to the cockpit.

This is not Kara, he told himself, looking at the blonde hair still visible to either side of the sunken, desiccated features. It only helped a little. He used the strap cutter in the emergency kit to cut the harness. Then he reached in to pull the body free.

His shoulders were so sore, he could barely lift it. But he wasn't willing to let Kara do it either, not something so horrible. So he took a deep breath and pulled. The charred flight suit gave way with a ripping sound, but then the body was out of the cockpit. He stumbled, nearly falling backward, but caught himself, bracing himself on the fuselage. He was breathing hard and he was sweating as if he'd run there.

"Frak." He rested, propping the body against the metal cockpit, while he shut his eyes. Accustomed to being pretty strong, it was rather humiliating how wiped out he felt. It was going to be hard to fly again, if he didn't get stronger. Maybe he could figure out some new weight-lifting plan, and though he'd never had to use drugs before, he might need to ask Cottle for some kind of enhancement if that was the only way.

But all he had to do right now was lift the not-inconsiderable weight of the remains of what was supposedly Kara. He could see Kara in the failing light, heading with an armful of wood toward the beach. Damn it, she would pick someplace far away to do this.

He rested some more, until she came back into sight and shouted, "Hey! You moving it or making out with it?"

He shuddered in revulsion. "All right, all right. I'm coming."

He tried to let his biceps do the lifting and not his back, and that helped him get the body into his arms, but it was still harder than it should have been. Halfway across the field, he stumbled on a clump of grass and went down. He staggered to his knees, clutching the body to keep it from falling to the ground. His heart was thudding so hard he had to pant to keep up.

"Frak, Anders, stop being such a baby," he muttered. "Get up."

He tried to stand up, but his vision grayed out and he fell back to his knees. He stayed there, arms trembling even though he had the body braced on his legs. His shoulders ached and a long muscle along his spine was spasming like someone was twisting it.

"Gods." He was shivering again, despite the blanket tucked around his middle. He had to get up.


Kara's voice startled him. He lifted his head, and she frowned when she got a good look at his face. "You're not doing so hot, are you?" she asked.

"Not really," he admitted. "Every muscle in my body is tired, and my bones ache."

"All right. Then give it to me." She bent down and tried to take the corpse from him. He jerked it back.

"Kara, no-- "

She put her hands on her hips. "What? Am I supposed to let you hurt yourself so I don't get my hands dirty? Frak that, Sam."

He looked down into the barely human-seeming features in the battered helmet over his arm. "I don't want you to have to -- "

"I know," she said. "And it's very gallant of you. But I can do this, and you can't. Give it to me."

Knowing she was right, he reluctantly nodded. "I'm sorry," he said with a sigh, feeling ashamed and weak. The one thing he tried to do to help her, and he couldn't even do that.

When she leaned down and their hands touched on the underside of the shredded and burnt flightsuit, she said softly, "Hey." He glanced up to meet her eyes. She made a little smile. "You want to help so badly, you can take the feet."

He carried the boots to keep them from dragging the ground, while Kara got the bulk of the body. When he glimpsed her face, it was set and focused, showing nothing of her feelings, only her determination.

As they walked, he prayed silently, 'Thank you for sending Kara back. I may not know how or why, but I do know that every moment with this woman in front of me is a gift. Even if I lose her again, these moments make it all worth while.'

At the pyre, they lowered the body to the pile of sticks Kara had made on the sand.

She straightened and brushed off her hands. "Move back. I have fuel -- last thing we want is for those pretty wings to catch on fire."

She said it mockingly, but he found the comment encouraging. Even if she was being sarcastic, she'd said the wings were pretty. That indicated a little acceptance. But catching on fire would be the capper on this day, so he hauled himself up to his feet and moved away.

Apparently the Viper had some tylium in one of the tanks, and she dumped the contents of a small metal container all across the body and the wood. Igniting a stick with her lighter, she threw the stick at the pyre. The whole things went up in a brilliant sheet of flame.

She moved backward, and he shifted over so she would bump against him. She stopped, her back to his front, and he wrapped his arms around her, offering what comfort he could, as they watched the body burn.

* * *

Dee couldn't stop staring at the wings and thinking of Sam flying overhead. Chief and Tory's wings were black, and the Colonel's were dark grey. The wing joints were behind their heads, so the wings themselves hung down their backs. Both men were shirtless, showing how much their bodies had changed, growing more slender, but also with sharper muscles and thicker tendons where there hadn't been any. Poor Tory had wrapped what looked like the remnants of her shirt around herself in an impromptu tube top and had the wings forward over her shoulders in an attempt to be a little modest and warmer.

"What the hell is this?" Adama demanded, looking at Tigh, Chief, and Tory. "What happened?"

"Apparently, coming home triggered something in us," Tory explained.

"Coming home?" D'Anna repeated curiously.

"We each remembered something about this place, before it died," Chief said. "We used to live here."

Tigh glared sourly at D'Anna, then faced the admiral. "I remember Ellen. She was the fifth."

A low murmur went around as everyone digested that. Dee decided it didn't matter, since Ellen was dead, and she gathered Ellen had never known anyway.

"I thought you might be more upset finding out," D'Anna explained to him. "Once I realized she was dead and none of you remembered, it was my way of protecting you, what little I could."

Tigh snorted.

Roslin shook her head in amazement. "How can you remember something that happened a thousand years ago?"

The three exchanged a look and shrugged. Chief answered, "No idea. We just do. We each had a flash of when this world was still alive, and then everything started to hurt like hell. We passed out, and when we woke up, we were like this."

Baltar shifted, drawing attention, "You realize what this means, right? The Thirteenth Tribe were Cylons. And had wings."

Roslin shook her head. "Why would the Twelve Tribes make human-looking Cylons and give them wings? It doesn't make sense."

"Maybe they weren't created at all," Baltar countered. "Just because they call themselves Cylons may not mean what we think of as Cylons. Nobody, including the Cylons, knows anything about the Final Five. D'Anna only saw them during resurrection, and they don't remember anything of what they are themselves. Don't you find that strange?"

"Is that true?" Roslin asked D'Anna, who nodded.

"I was blessed to see their images in the space between death and resurrection, inside the Temple of Five." D'Anna answered. "And all of my sisters died for it."

"See? I don't think we're going to find answers if we stay inside our narrow ideas of what makes a Cylon." Baltar turned to Roslin, eyes a bit too wide now. Not for the first time, Dee thought that Baltar should learn the fine art of quitting while he was ahead. He was right, but then he proceeded to screw it up, by insisting, "There's something mysterious happening here, the hand of God acting to bring us here to see this and learn what happened long ago." He pulled in a breath, calming himself forcibly. "We've barely scratched the surface of this planet. I think there's more we could find out if we investigate."

"We've sent a few teams to explore other sites on this world," D'Anna offered.

"We should do the same," Roslin agreed and Adama nodded, with a breath.

"Done. But we shouldn't stay long. The Fleet's not going to take well to the news that Earth was destroyed long before we got here."

"Who could?" Roslin asked, looking around at the ruin, and then added softly, "Finding out our refuge is a false promise? The gods led us here. And four Cylons gaining wings doesn't seem like a fair exchange for all we suffered to get here."

"We didn't ask for any of this," Tigh grunted.

"I know that," Roslin said. "But it doesn't change the fact that the rest of us got dragged to this dead world for nothing. So many of us died to reach this planet, and we can't live here."

"Then we'll have to find a new one," Baltar declared. "God will send us guidance when we're ready, through his messengers." He stared directly at the three with wings, and Tyrol chuckled.

"We're not angels. Wings make us freaks."

Baltar shook his head in denial. "No. You're more than that. You have to be." His eyes darted to the side, looking at something that wasn't there. "There are angels," he insisted. "There are."

But everyone ignored him.

Caprica asked, "Are you going to fly, like Sam did?" She directed her question at all three, but ended up on Tigh, where her curious look faded to one more worried at the idea.

Dee glanced up, to see if Sam was flying back, but the sky was empty.

Tigh said, with a snort, "I'm not that crazy."

"I was pretty sure he was going to crash into the water," Chief added. "It shouldn't be possible."

"I want to try," Tory declared. "He looked like he was having fun."

"It looked miraculous," D'Anna added softly. "Say what you will about getting nothing in return, but to me, it was a miracle. My thoughts were so dark and despairing, but then I saw him, and my heart lifted. Maybe that's why we were brought here."

Looking around, Dee saw that she wasn't the only one who found an echo of her own feelings in D'Anna's words.

Helo asked, "Speaking of, where did he go? Maybe we should go look, if he fell and got hurt."

"That's not necessary," Leoben said from the outer edge of the gathering, drawing everyone's attention. "He found Starbuck. They have a lot to discuss." Dee heard somebody chuckle at that, and she couldn't repress a smile either; it was so true it was funny. The Cylon finished with a bit of a shrug, "They'll be back when they're ready."

Dee forced herself not to look at Lee's face at the words, wondering what he felt about the news. Then, as if he could hear her thoughts, Lee's hand found hers, as if to confirm that he'd meant what he said. She smiled a little, and leaned her head into his jacket.

The Admiral noticed, and his grim face lightened at the sight. He probably didn't even realize he moved a step nearer to Roslin, but Dee did, and her smile widened.

* * *

The sky was darkening now, heading toward night, but there were no stars or a moon visible yet, so the only light came from the fire, casting a warm yellow glow into Kara's face and her blonde hair.

The body was gone now, consumed by the flames, and only the wood was left to crackle softly. The wind had died as soon as the sun set, and he felt warm with Kara standing against him and the blanket still wrapped around him.

"I wonder why no one's come looking for us?" she murmured after several minutes of silence.

"Leoben saw me heading for you; he probably told them not to bug us."

"Nice he finally made himself useful. I'll have to send him a fruit basket," she muttered.

He snickered and tightened his arms around her. "Don't lead him on -- it's not nice."

She elbowed him and then turned inside the circle of his arms with a sudden idea. He could see from the sudden glint in her eyes that she meant some kind of mischief. "That means we're alone out here..." Her hands went to his shoulders, rubbing slowly to warm the chilled skin.

He grew still, suddenly painfully aware of how different he was and that she seemed to have forgotten. "Kara..."

"What?" she murmured. Her hands slipped down his chest, tugging the blanket away so it slithered down to the ground. "I have a much better idea how to stay warm."


She ignored that attempt, too, intent on what she wanted. "There's a fire... you know, some people think that's romantic." Both hands, fingers spread, traced his chest and down his stomach.

As much as he wanted her touch, he captured her hands, determined to stop her before she did something she'd regret. "Kara. I --" He had to swallow to get the words out. "I'm a Cylon. I have wings."

She tipped her head back to look up at him. "And I'm dead. So what. Isn't that what you've been saying? That it doesn't matter? Well, it doesn't. And I can tell that despite some shrinkage," she teased, and freed one hand to slide all the way down to press into his undershorts, "nothing important disappeared when you got wings."

The warmth of her hand jumpstarted his blood, which pooled where she was touching, and he lost any other objection in a breath.

She smirked and moved her hand, watching his face. "Nope, you definitely haven't lost anything important."

But he didn't want to stand there and let her grope him, when she was right there. It had been so frakking long... Bending, he captured her mouth in his again, and she shoved closer, more urgent, telling him without words how upset she still was.

And he tried to tell her that he didn't care -- she was still his Kara, still his wife, still the woman he loved, and nothing would ever change that.

He pushed her jacket off and got his hands under her tanks to touch her skin. She was so warm, so soft, so alive...

"Your hands are rough, what the frak did you do?" she muttered as he kissed her neck.

"Climbed up the bridge, so I could jump off."

He didn't realize how that sounded, until she stiffened and pulled back to look into his face. "What? You were going to jump?"

"I wanted the height to see if I could fly," he explained. "I knew I'd need the air to figure out what the hell I was doing."

"Oh." She relaxed again, reassured that he hadn't gone up there to try to kill himself. He decided he wasn't going to mention that dying had been a strong possibility, and one he'd made peace with before jumping.

"Mmm... I definitely like this part..." Her hands moved more slowly, exploring down his chest and stomach and around his waist. Then she paused and asked, not looking him in the face, "Can I touch them?"

"Sure," he answered. He held his breath, wondering what she would think. Her breasts pressed against him, as she reached around him to put her fingers into the feathers.

"They're so soft," she murmured in surprise. "The big ones are stiff but the smaller ones are so soft." She stroked gently, coaxing the wings to open partway, and he closed his eyes to better feel it. She found the delicate bones that supported the main flight feathers and a stroke there made him shudder. She felt the reaction, and did it again. "Like that, do you?" she teased.

His eyes popped open to look down at her, smiling. "It feels... different. But nice."

"'Nice'?" she repeated, eyebrows up, and caressed him again, watching his face intently.

"Better than nice. It's sensitive there," he admitted, voice hoarsening as the touch roused the heat between his legs, too. It was kind of embarrassing to realize how good it felt when she did that.

"Good to know," she said, smirking. "You're so easy, Sam."

"Only for you," he murmured. He kissed her again and then let go, to yank her tanks and bra off. That left her perfect breasts open to his eyes, and the nipples tightening in the cool air, perfect for his fingers.

"Mm, yes," she murmured. "Want you, come on. Let's see how this works."

Her fingers tucked into the waistband of his undershorts and pulled them down, freeing his growing erection. "Oh, I see there's nothing wrong with this part," she teased, giving him a light stroke and a squeeze that nearly cut off his air.

"Your pants, too." He fumbled at her belt, fingers trembling, until she got impatient and slapped his hands away to do it herself. But when she was stymied by her boots, she made a disgruntled noise. She spread the foil blanket on the ground and sat down to take off her boots. "C'mon, sit down," she urged. "We'll end up here anyway. And I'm cold."

And it wasn't as if he didn't want her, because someone would have to be blind to miss that, but he was stricken with doubt again, as he knelt, cautious of the feathers on the ground. They seemed flexible enough to curl out of the way without getting damaged, to his relief, and he let himself sit down, trailing ends of the wings behind him.

As naked as he was, she knelt across his legs, making teasing motions with her hips as she sucked on his tongue and his fingers rubbed at her nipples. He kissed her mouth and down her throat as far as he could reach. His hands slid down the curve of her waist to her hips. She pushed at him, demanding, but he resisted, leaning forward.

"Kara," he muttered. "I can't go on my back."

"Oh right. Big frakking wings." But she didn't stop; she groped blindly beneath her, to grip him in her hot hand, and then shifted enough to push herself down on him. It was shallow, but it still felt so frakking good to be inside her heat. It had been so long, and this time there were no secrets holding them back.

"Sam, need you deeper," she complained.

He let go of her to brace himself with his hands and leaned backward to give them some more room. Then she twisted on him, made him gasp and he found he had leverage now to thrust in her, if he dug his heels in the dirt.

"Like that, just like that," she panted, and ground down on him as he strained up in her. He bit his lip, trying hard to hold out for her, even though it felt as though every nerve in his body was burning and he was getting tight with need.

She shuddered and clenched on him so hard, he was undone. His arms shook, and his hips convulsed as the pleasure smashed through him.

He opened his eyes, trying to remember how to breathe, and pushed upward to find her mouth again. But as he spiraled down from the high, it left him feeling hollowed out and fragile.

"Sam?" Kara murmured, her arms now clasped around his neck, leaning against him, with her head against his shoulder. "Do you really believe that body wasn't me?"

He closed his eyes to think of the right words, knowing it was important he get them right, but his mind was sinking in a fog. "I believe..." he answered slowly, "that Kara Thrace's soul is right here, with me. Bodies feel good, but they're temporary. The soul ... that's forever."

His lips found her head to give her one last kiss, before he let her go and stretched out on his side, too tired to think about getting up. He yawned. "I'm sorry," he mumbled. "Know I usually do more for you, but it's been a hell of a day..."

"Sam? You're not falling asleep on me?" she demanded.

He planned to say he would never do that, but it came out as a vague murmur. He felt the warmth of the fire on his wings.

And he knew nothing more.

* * *

The fire was dying and it was getting cold again. Kara considered getting up, putting clothes on, and going to find more wood.

Or... her eyes rested on Sam next to her. Though he usually stayed awake and was kind of a cuddler after sex, this time he'd all but passed out and barely stirred when she poked him. He was on his stomach, head pillowed on his arms, and those ridiculous wings were limp across his back covering him in feathers down to his ass, with bare legs sticking out and feet in dirty socks hanging off the edge of the blanket into the grass.

Wings. Actual frakking wings. She reached out to adjust one of the long feathers back into line and then couldn't stop stroking the sleek smoothness. With her arm extended, she caught a glimpse of her tattoo - the one that matched his and the pair of wings they made together.

She couldn't remember now whose idea the symbol had been. They'd been tossing ideas drunkenly back and forth all night. She remembered saying they should have circles, to stand for the rings they hadn't had the morning they'd been married. He'd made the rings into the symbol of Caprica for where they met. But she couldn't remember who had added the wings; maybe she'd put them in when she'd started drawing it.

And now he had wings. The tattoos felt eerily prophetic now.

It was weird, and a part of her wanted to get away from him. There was enough weirdness in her life, without adding Sam's, too.

But the larger part of her remembered how good it had felt to stand there with his arms around her and watch the fire consume those remains. She had walked away from that feeling too many times already, and like Sam had said, she was tired of living only in confusion and doubt. Sam's faith in her was totally unwarranted, totally him, but she couldn't push him away again. Better to face their weirdness together, since doing it on their own had very nearly gotten them both killed.

She put on her underwear and her tanks, wrapped the edge of the blanket around their legs, and lay down next to him. She poked him again, and he let out a sigh and rolled onto his side, making room for her. His wing opened up to extend over her, and she was smiling as she fell asleep, tucked into their impromptu nest.

Onto Chapter Two
Allison: K/A - Rapture Hugfrolicndetour on October 7th, 2010 04:51 pm (UTC)
Aww!! I'm really enjoying this. This kind of wingfic deserves to be a new genre. ;)
lizardbeth: Anders-Kara - distancelizardbeth_j on October 8th, 2010 01:39 am (UTC)
yay! :)

(you'll notice I didn't even use the dreaded 'wingfic' in the summary... *g*)
entertaining in a disturbing way: Can't be arrested for thoughtslyssie on October 12th, 2010 02:15 am (UTC)
Crazy kids. Making out like teens on an icy-cold beach.
lizardbeth: Kara-Anders - sketchlizardbeth_j on October 15th, 2010 12:06 am (UTC)
they needed to keep warm. *nods*

kore: Erin/Ginakorenap on October 14th, 2010 05:43 am (UTC)
This is beautiful. You did such a great job of capturing the transformation. And what a great way to have Sam and Kara bond. Kara really has to watch what she draws and paints. And the flight totally worked as something to snap people out of their despondency. Wish I didn't have to sleep now.
lizardbeth: Shadowed Skylizardbeth_j on October 15th, 2010 12:07 am (UTC)
Thank you!

I hope you enjoy the rest of it, too.
kag523 on February 23rd, 2011 11:31 pm (UTC)
*happy sigh*

I am already in love with this premise, and although I should have been cutting and pasting bits as I went, I forgot to because I was so enamoured with the overall idea. What I CAN tell you I love is how you've succinctly summarized the Kara / Sam dynamic without making it unrealistically cheery. In this fic Sam accepts her as she is, and takes what she is willing to give. His love feels so real and fragile in your writing that I just want to protect him from any awfulness (but then this is YOUR fic, and not canon, so I'm probably okay. Hee hee!)

Lovely beginning! I particularly enjoyed the image of the two of them together asleep at the end. *happy sigh* And I'm looking forward to more! (Though I'm going to dole it out slowly for myself... or at least as slowly as my patience lasts.)

Thanks for the wonderful fic! K :>D