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05 October 2010 @ 11:15 pm
Under a Shadowed Sky, Chapter Three  
Under a Shadowed Sky

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Chapter Three

Sam hadn't want to leave the planet, but after some pointed reminders from Kara that it was still contaminated and he was getting a heavier exposure than was good for him, especially given his time on Caprica, he finally agreed to return to the Galactica.

He was restless on the Raptor as it went up, tapping his fingers. "Hey, settle down," Kara put a hand on his leg, where he was twitching. "There's nothing to worry about. People are gonna stare, but you're used to that, right? Mister Famous Pyramid celebrity?"

"I don't care about that." He shifted in the seat, seeming uncomfortable with his wings folded as flat as possible. He looked around the narrow confines of the Raptor. "I don't like being stuck in here. Or being bound up in the harness."

She eyed him, curious by the sudden anxiety. Apparently the wings weren't only a physical change. "You weren't claustrophobic before."

"I've never liked being on a ship," he answered. "But now I'm feeling very... trapped." He inhaled a deep breath, shutting his eyes to try to calm down.

She rubbed his thigh, trying to soothe him. "We're almost there."

He opened the harness and stood up before they landed, despite Kara's telling him to sit down, and he punched the door open the instant they were on the deck. He jumped out to meet with the gathering deck hands.

"Can we see yours, too?" Brasko asked, her face bright and eager.

"Sure," he started and then looked up, gauging the height of the deck. "I can do you one better. I can show you."

"Can you?" Brasko exclaimed in delight. "Really?"

He started toward the ladders. "No!" Kara called out, running after him. "No, you are not doing this. There's not enough air --"

He turned to face her, blue eyes alight, "I'm going to glide down. It'll be fine." He stripped off the poncho and shoved it at her to hold, then hurried to the ladder.

"If you break your neck, I'm going to laugh at you!" she called after him, irritated and worried.

"I can do it!" his voice floated down to her as he started up the ladder.

She watched him climb, and then Brasko came up to her. "Is it that dangerous?" she asked.

Kara snapped her head around, glaring. "It's stupid and reckless, and he's going to get hurt."

Brasko was troubled now. "I didn't mean to--" she started apologetically.

Kara relented, seeing her distress, "It's not your fault he's a moron."

She noticed there was a crowd gathering, including people from the tent city on the other end of the deck. They were all watching Sam climb the ladder to the top catwalk.

But they were in the way and she went over to them and started to urge people to move, some of them with bodily shoves when they didn't move fast enough. "Clear the deck. Move back. For frak's sake, I know you want to watch, but give him some room to land. Get the frak out of the way."

Then, it was time to turn around and look up. He'd reached the top, a small figure so high, but at half the height of the bridge, not nearly high enough. He moved out to the middle of the beam, checked his clearance and unfurled his wings.

There was no wind, though she thought there might be some air movement because of the hot air being pulled into the vents. His wings tasted whatever currents there were, pinions spread, and then the wings moved in giant flapping arcs stirring the air more. Abruptly, he jumped outward.

Heart in her throat, she watched him fall. All around her shocked gasps rose like a wave. But the pinions locked to one another and both wings curved like a parachute to catch the air, and when they came down he got lift, nearly stopping his fall. Then the great wings beat again, sending gusts of wind across the deck, and his feet touched the ground.

She winced as he landed hard and stumbled, all the grace of his flight turned to land-bound clumsiness. But he recovered in a few steps and straightened, shooting her a definite "so there!" look. She rolled her eyes and shook her head at him. "Frakking show-off," she muttered.

A group came up to him eager to touch and exclaim over the wings, and it looked exactly like people gathering around for an autograph. She thought he'd enjoy it, recalling his celebrity days, but it didn't take a full minute before his head lifted above the crowd and found her. His expression was wide-eyed and anxious, as if he hadn't expected the enthusiastic reaction or the people pressing in on him.

Heaving a sigh, she went to extract him. "Come on, people, we've got ship's business. Can't linger here all day."

Pulling on Sam's hand, she got them into the corridor and gave him back his shirt. About to give him a piece of her mind for frightening her with the stunt, she held her tongue when she noticed that he was fumbling with the shirt, unable to find the opening. His wings were partly open and rustling together, as if he couldn't still them. She wrapped her fingers around his hand -- he was trembling. "Hey, you okay?"

"I'm fine," he said automatically, but then added, more quietly, "Everyone was friendly, but they kept touching me. And grabbing and pulling... it hurt. And I couldn't get free. I thought I was going to be sick." He swallowed hard and wouldn't look at her. "Gods. Kara, I'm such a freak."

She thought about how he'd reacted when she'd caressed his wings, and rested her hand on his bare arm, stroking lightly. "Baby, they were pawing you. They didn't realize how sensitive you are." She nudged him with her hip and tried to tease him into a better mood, "I think we should keep that kind of touching between us."

He gave a half-smile and let out a long breath, trying to relax. "Good idea. I should talk to the others; see if they're getting panic attacks for no reason, too." He grimaced, looking disgusted at himself.

Kara smiled and patted his arm. "Sam, you've flown in the open air. I don't think it's weird to feel trapped in a small space."

He snorted. "In other words, I'm a very large bird stuck in a cage."

Her smile widened, glad he was showing some humor about it. "Exactly. At least you're learning to fly better. You caught a lot more air than I thought you would."

"It feels more natural," he agreed, folding the wings tightly, and she knew that he was calm again. "I feel so heavy and clumsy walking around now."

"You are," she teased. "How you ever got picked all-pro, I don't know."

He stuck out his tongue at her.

She rolled her eyes. "Oh, now that's mature. I think you could find a grown-up use for that tongue."

She knew exactly what would happen when she tossed that kind of challenge in his face, and she was right when he pulled her into his body and looked into her eyes. "I could," he agreed and bent down to kiss her.

Her hands went around his neck to hold him tight to her, mouths meeting, his tongue sliding on her lips and against hers.

Then someone shoved against her hard, making her stumble into Sam and her teeth smack his. Someone muttered in disgust, "Cylon freaks."

She yanked free of Sam, incensed, to confront whoever it was. But Sam's hand was tight on her arm in warning, and he greeted with wary politeness, "Conner."

The other man glared at him, face twisted in hate. "You were a Cylon all along," he hissed. "You betrayed us. You lied."

"I was lied to," Sam protested, but she knew it was falling on deaf ears. "I didn't know. Frak, I still don't know. Look at me, Charlie -- I have frakking wings. I'm --"

"This is all your fault, they're dead because of you," he spat out with a glare at Kara. "And you'll both get what's coming to you."

"Try anything, and so will you," she called after him, and only Sam's hand kept her from pulling her sidearm.

After he was out of sight, she turned to see how Sam was taking this. He gave her a little wry twist of his lips. "I told you."

She snorted. "Yeah, like Charlie Conner is a barometer of stability on a good day. You had a lot more admirers on the deck."

"They like Galen, so it rubs off on me." He shrugged. "But it's better than the opposite, that's for sure."

"We've got another thirty minutes before we need to be at the debrief. I say we go bug the admiral about quarters." When he looked reluctant, she put a hand on his shoulder and pushed. "Come on, he likes you. 'Course he'd like you better if you'd played for the Panthers."

* * *

Sam stood in the back of the situation room with Saul and Galen, while Tory stood next to a Six who’d introduced herself as Sonja and D'Anna who had come to present the Cylons' findings. Roslin was sitting down, with both Adamas behind her, and Baltar and Cottle for the science, and Helo and Kara as senior officers to listen.

"We did our own tests," D'Anna stated. "On two hundred remains from all around the planet. They were conclusive. The people who lived here had the same molecular structure as I do -- they were Cylons."

Sam saw disappointment, but no real surprise on the faces of anyone in the room. They'd all been prepared for the news.

"But that's not the most interesting thing," Baltar added, rushing in to fill the silence. "They found small bones. These Cylons - this Thirteenth Tribe - they had children."

"Are you saying they - we - were born?" Galen asked, incredulously.

"Well, I don't know about you," Baltar blinked at him, "But it's certainly possible. We know from Sharon Agathon it's possible for a Cylon to have a child, it's just difficult. The Cylons of Earth must have had a way to overcome the fertility problem."

"That fits in with some of our findings," Cottle added and pushed a sheet of paper at Adama and Roslin, who were at the middle of the situation table. "We found two individuals, male and female, both had suffered bone loss. Assuming human patterns hold, and I've seen enough physical basis to believe they do, those two individuals were well over seventy years old. Another female pelvis we found showed proof of child bearing."

Roslin nodded, "They were born and they got old. Just like us."

"They were of our same genetic basis," Sonja nodded slowly, thinking it through, "But they discovered procreation, instead of resurrection as a way to continue their race."

"Which makes some sense," Baltar added, "since resurrection is useful for learning from past experiences, but is profoundly non-adaptive, especially for settling a new planet with a limited gene pool. Given their dispersal, they had been on Earth for some time, expanding well beyond their original settlement."

Roslin looked down at the sheet and glanced at Tory. "And the wings?"

"We found no skeleton with wings," D’Anna answered and she smiled at Tory. "Not one. You four are indeed very special and blessed."

Sam exchanged a glance with Galen, seeing the same disappointment there that he felt. It had been a little comforting to imagine that having the wings was natural for them, even if they didn't remember.

"That's ridiculous," Tigh blustered. "You must have missed them."

"Our teams didn't find them either," Baltar said. "And they were looking. Now it's possible that if the wings aren't bone, they could have degraded like flesh and not been preserved."

"The colonel volunteered a sample," Cottle added. "And Baltar's right. The wing bones are keratin, like your fingernails, not bone. It's an adaptation for flight - strong, flexible, but lighter weight. Keratin is a protein and breaks down over time. However, the spine and shoulders are still bone, and in the colonel, show distinct alterations in structure. None of those alterations were present in the skeletons I examined."

"So we're even more freaks than we thought," Galen said. "That's just great."

"But there's more," Sonja said. "We also found this." She pulled something from a bag at her side and set it on the table top.

Everyone gasped. It was a Centurion face mask. Though in a different design from the old style Centurions of the First Cylon war, it was close enough there could be no coincidence.

"We can't be certain, in the absence of other records," Sonja murmured, "but it seems likely the Thirteenth Tribe made their own Centurions and that was the cause of the nuclear war."

"Ironic that they fought a Cylon civil war long before ours," D'Anna added. "Perhaps they even forgot they were Cylons at all. They were too human-- and the Centurions rebelled and destroyed them, just as they tried to do in the Colonies fifty years ago."

"The Final Five," Sam murmured, without meaning to be heard, as a piece of the puzzle fell into place for him. "That's what it means," he explained softly, when people looked at him curiously. "We're the last survivors of this planet. I don't know how it happened, how we got away, or why we got wings, but I know that's what it means." He took a deep breath and tried to ignore the pain that poked him in the heart with the logical result of that. "They didn't go anywhere else; they went to the Colonies. Something must have gone wrong and that's why we don't remember, but there's no other colony out there waiting for us. We're alone."

The silence turned heavy, and Sam felt guilty at having destroyed the tenuous hope some of them had been carrying. Roslin looked especially weary.

"We need a planet," Adama declared. "The Thirteenth found this one. But this isn't the only habitable planet out here. We have to find one before this fleet and the people in it completely fall apart."

Roslin nodded. "Yes. We need to get the fleet focused on this new effort, not drowning in their own despair. And if anyone can bear to do it, I think some prayers for guidance wouldn't go amiss."

"Starbuck?" Adama asked.

She stirred from where she'd been listening, in front of Sam. "Sir?"

"You, Helo and Gaeta will work together on examining stellar data and beginning a search with all available Raptors for another habitable world."

"Yes, sir."

"Admiral," D'Anna said. "We believe you need to move the fleet. It's quite possible the Cavil faction knows where Earth is. I believe he has always known who the Five are, and he withheld that knowledge from the rest of us. He has sources of knowledge beyond any other Cylon. He might come here."

"You could jump away, if you're concerned," Roslin suggested. Her tone was mild enough, but there was a hard intent in her words that Sam couldn't read, as if it was a test.

"We could," D'Anna agreed, composed. "But we need each other. Our technology can extend the range of the Raptors to search for another planet. But if you choose to end our alliance, we can go our separate ways." She lifted her glance to the Four and smiled. "With our siblings."

"As much as a part of me would love to break up this alliance of convenience - and I haven't forgotten you murdered one of my people in the last confrontation-- " Roslin reminded her coldly, "I am a practical woman. I want to get these people to safety, and if I have to ally myself with the lesser of two evils, I will."

"Not everyone is going to agree with that," Lee said.

"No, they won't," Roslin agreed tiredly. "But it's up to us to make them understand."

* * *

They gathered in Tyrol's quarters and Sam took the desk chair, turning it to sit on it backward. That was the only way to sit on chairs, he'd discovered. Tigh poured drinks for them all from Galen's stash.

"He's remarkably fine with daddy having wings," Galen said, lifting Nicky into his arms and the little boy grabbed at the feathers, giggling happily. The noise kept them all quiet for a little while, listening to him play.

Sam downed the drink and set the cup on the table. "You know what we need to do?" Sam asked. "We need to ambush the other Cylons and grab ourselves a Cavil. Frakker does know, and always did. We need to capture him and interrogate him and make him tell us what the frak happened."

"He manipulated us," Tory said. "But why not tell us? He knew we were there on New Caprica. Why all the cruel games, if he knew we're one of his own kind all along?"

"Because we're not his kind, and he knew that, too," Saul grumbled, grabbing the bottle to offer more to Sam. At Sam's nod, he put some more in the cup. "Too bad Roslin airlocked both those frakkers we caught right before New Caprica. Should've kept one in hack, for intel."

"So how do we ambush them?" Galen asked. "We don't know where they are."

"I don't know," Sam answered. "But we need to." He gulped the foul tasting, foul smelling hooch, and decided he'd rather not ask where it came from. The burn down his throat was welcome and it warmed his gut while also making his head swim. "Damn. That stuff is frakking strong, Galen. I better stop, or I'm gonna get lost on my way to my new quarters."

Tory laughed. "Oh, have some more. If Kara'll forgive you for frakking wings, she'll forgive you being drunk off your ass, too."

"No, I better go." He stood and the room made a slow tilt to one side before it righted itself. "Whoa. Frak. Anybody else finding they're getting hit harder by booze?"

"We're lighter," Galen reminded him. "Less dense."

"Oh, right, I forgot." He got all the way to the door before he remembered to ask, "Any of you seen a guitar? I want to borrow one. Or trade for it."

"Nope," Galen answered. "I'll put out the word."

Sam nodded his thanks. Galen had connections to all the deckhands and mechanics throughout the fleet.

"G'night all." He slipped out the hatch and was momentarily confused which way to go.

He picked what he thought was the right way to get back to Kara, who should be coming off duty around now. They should celebrate their newly assigned joint quarters. It was a bit weird to know that they had once been Lee and Dee's quarters, but none of their things were in it so it didn't feel as if he and Kara were stealing it from them, but still... awkward. Especially when he knew they were also working on getting back together.

But before he got there, he turned the corner and nearly ran someone down. "I'm sorry," he grabbed to hold him upright, and only realized after the other had wrenched free, that it was Gaeta.

"Don't you frakking touch me!" he spat, and limped backward a step, glaring furiously at Sam with eyes that looked bruised with exhaustion and pain.

"Sorry, lieutenant," Sam said again and his gaze traveled down to Gaeta's missing leg. The leg he'd shot. "I'm sorry."

"Like your 'sorry' means a damn thing," Gaeta snarled at him. "Toaster. Freak."

Sam let the words pass over him, figuring it was the least he could take on Gaeta's behalf. "I wish, I could take it back, or make it up to you somehow," Sam said. "I didn't mean to hurt you, Felix. I just wanted you to stop."

Felix limped back closer and looked him right in the eyes, his face contorted with pure seething hatred. "Because of you, they had to cut my leg off. Because of you, my home worlds were destroyed and we were forced to run and run and get trapped in this frakked up corner of the galaxy. And in return for all the misery you caused -- you fly. Don't you cross my path ever again, you disgusting freak."

Feeling far too sober, Sam stood there and watched Gaeta limp away down the corridor.

Kara was already in their room, when he opened the hatch. "Hey," she greeted. She was putting something on the narrow shelf above the rack, and he smiled to see it was their only photo - the one from New Caprica which he'd kept in his pocket the entire time of the Occupation, where they were showing off their matching tattoos. "Got it out of your locker," she explained. "And this." She set the pyramid ball on the shelf as well, and suddenly, even though the rest of the room was bare and grey, it felt a little more homey. "Now we need to get back some of my stuff."

"It looks great."

"Where you been?" she asked curiously.

"Drinking with the rest of my... flock," he answered, lifting his brows with a wry look. She laughed. "And getting accosted by Gaeta."

"Felix," she snorted. "Yeah, he's in a pissy mood. He's not happy to be dealing with me and Helo, that's for sure. Hoshi and Dee had to moderate to get him to do anything, since he's such a pouting teenager now."

He caught her hands. "He has a right, Kara. The three of us did that to him - -me by shooting him, you by being in charge, and Helo by staying."

"Well, he was the one who mutinied. You were defending your captain." Suddenly she smiled. "Anybody ever tell you, you are irresistible when you're holding a gun? Just the memory of it, makes me want to frak you into the bed." She freed her hands to slide them around his waist and open the ties that were keeping his shirt on, at the lower back and the neck. "Mm, I could get used to this kind of undressing you," she murmured, pulling it off.

He dropped the subject for the far more interesting one of removing Kara's clothes and making the bed their own.

* * *

The next night in Joe's, Kara downed her shot. "So you're an even lighter light-weight than you were before!" she chortled.

For an instant he looked tempted to follow her in pounding it back, then held it up. "You want to haul my unconscious ass to our quarters, or you want me upright and walking?" he countered. "You pick. Drunk or capable?"

"I want," she curled one hand around his thigh and leaned in to whisper, "you hard and hot. And naked."

"Mmm, I could do that," he agreed, sipped, and put it back down slowly. Then, surprising her, his free hand snaked around her waist and pulled her over onto his lap, so he could kiss her lips and neck. "Why are we still here?" he complained against her skin.

Over his shoulder she saw Narcho and Seelix come in, start in their general direction before they saw who had arrived first and turn their backs to head to the other side. "Because I'm not going to let the morons chase me out of here," she muttered, and bent down to kiss his lips, her hands going behind him to stroke the hard bones that came out of his skin and the first joint behind his head, making sure her hands were visible.

Sam pulled back a little to look at her face. "Who came in?" he asked.

"Nobody," she answered. "Nobody important." When he started to turn his head to look, she grabbed his chin to hold it still. "Don't. They don't matter." Then she kissed him until the little frown of worry disappeared from between his brows.

Mindful of the audience, she made sure they all got an eyeful before she returned to her own chair. That'd show them at least the freaks had more fun.

They drank. Or really, Kara drank, while Sam daintily sipped at his as if it were tea. When he signaled for another shot, she rolled her eyes at him. "Is it going to take you another hour to finish this one, too?"

But when he leaned back, the light fell on him and she realized his face was a little flushed and his eyes were glittering as if he'd had at least three, and she realized he was already on his way to smashed. So she stole his shot and told the girl, "Water for him."

"Kara," he protested and grabbed at the shot glass. "I'm not that drunk."

"No, you're not," she agreed, but held it away from him. He leaned into her, trying to reach it, and his wings unfurled to keep his balance. "But you will be if you drink this. Do you even know your wings are open?" she asked, laughing.

He looked around, and his mouth twisted in a rueful smile as he saw more than a few people were looking at the display. He snapped the wings closed again and sat back, glowering at her and folding his arms. "You're not my mother. I can drink if I want."

She chuckled at his grumpy face. "See, and that's how I know you're getting drunk. You get all pouty."

But as he was leaning in to kiss her or steal her shot glass back or both, his eyes suddenly cut behind her toward the entrance, and she turned to see the Chief and Tory coming in. To Kara's surprise, Tyrol was holding a guitar. Sam sprang to his feet, staring at it. "You found one," he said in greeting as they came closer.

"Where did you find it?" Kara asked, impressed.

Tory answered, "The baseship had one. Once they heard Sam wanted one, they fell all over themselves to get it."

Sam's hands paused in reaching out for the guitar, as if he didn't want to take anything the Cylons offered, but then he took it in both hands anyway.

"Now can you tell us what this is about?" Tyrol asked.

Sam brought it close, reverently, as if it were a sacred object. "I remembered playing this on Earth. If I can play again, maybe I can remember more. Who we are. Why we're like this."

"Give it a try," Kara encouraged him.

He had been sitting in his chair backwards, but the back would be in the way of the guitar, so she picked up the bench from the piano and brought it for him.

He sat down, facing away from Joe's with the wings draped behind him as if trying to curtain the rest of the bar away. Turning the guitar into the right position, his hands moved slowly to the correct places, at first floating above the strings as if testing his motions. Then warily, he plucked a string. Nothing seemed to happen, so he continued to poke at it with random notes. Kara watched, frowning. She didn't know how to play guitar, but she could see he was treating it as any beginner would, fumbling at it, with sour chords and slow fingering. His jaw was tight and she could see the tense muscles in his shoulders, as his frustration built.

"Sam. Relax," she murmured quietly. "Close your eyes. Try to remember how you felt on Earth, holding that piece of the old guitar. You said you knew how to play. It's in you; let it come out. I think you're trying too hard."

He nodded once, inhaled a deep breath, and let it out slowly, closing his eyes. And he strummed a chord.

The vibration went through Kara, making her shiver as if the music had touched something inside. "Yes. That's it. I felt something. Keep going."

"It feels ... like a dream," he murmured. His eyes opened again, but he wasn't seeing the bar. He changed his fingers and strummed again. "I ... can see it. The temple. There's a fountain, and the sky is so blue."

And then, as if he'd been playing guitar every day for years, he launched into a song, perfect chords repeating under his fingers and singing softly, "There must be some way out of here..."

Kara heard Tory gasp. "That's the song." On Kara's other side, Galen leaned so close his feathers brushed her. Tigh left his seat at the bar and approached. They were all staring at Sam.

He paid them no attention, singing and playing the guitar as if he'd written the song himself. Kara listened closely, and she shivered. Even though the lyrics made no sense, there was something eerie about them as if a shadow had come into the room.

"... this is not our fate. Let us not talk falsely now, the hour's getting late."

On the bridge, his fingers danced and slid to hit high notes, shifting the key into something not Colonial at all. Her skin felt tight, as if it was too small. There was something there, something familiar, buried within the twisting and turning of the notes.

When the lyrics came back in again, his voice grew louder, more of a performance than to himself, reaching out and grabbing everyone in the room.

"...Two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl..."

There was something there, some meaning that she could untangle... It was like the Hybrid's prophecies, if she could just hold onto it long enough, there was something more.

Then the chords came heavy and slow, and it was over. As the final note quivered into silence, Sam lifted his fingers and blinked as if coming awake.

Kara realized she was on her feet, though she had no memory of standing up. For a few breaths, the bar was dead silent - with no conversation, no laughter, not even the clink of glassware. Everyone was staring at Sam. Then Hotdog and Easy started to clap, and that broke the tension. Some others clapped too, and others shook themselves and looked disgusted or uneasy.

Sam stayed bent over the guitar, looking at nothing, and his wings drooped limply behind him, as if the song had taken all his energy. He shook his hand absently, fingers numb or hurting.

Kara returned to her seat, as Tyrol murmured, "I almost had it, there for a moment. I could see us..."

Tigh didn't speak, but his hand was wrapped tightly around his cup as he drained it.

Esrin came over and plunked a shot glass down in front of Sam, chipper and unaware of the deeper intent of the song. "You were holding out on us on New Caprica, Anders. Anyone who could play and sing like that should've been in the band."

Sam flinched, and answered in a terse, angry voice, "No, I couldn't, because I didn't know how to play the frakking guitar then." He shoved himself to his feet and muttered, "Frak it to hell. I'm so sick of all this." Hand around the guitar's neck, he stormed out of the bar without another word.

"Sam! Sorry," she said in a quick aside to Easy and followed Sam, catching him in the corridor outside. "Hey! What the hell was that about? She was being nice."

He rounded on her, furious. "I remembered the song. I remember this stupid thing," he lifted the guitar and shook it, "but I don't remember anything else. I don't remember why. The gods are frakking with us, Kara -- frakking us over and laughing at our pathetic attempts to make it all make sense. What is the gods-damned point to any of it?"

He lifted his hands as if he was about to smash the guitar into the wall, but she caught his arm and stopped him. "NO! No, Sam, don't!"

"Then you take it. I don't want it anymore." He shoved it at her and started down the corridor.

"Where are you going?" she called after him.

"Nowhere," he answered bitterly, without turning. The wings were tightly furled, but she could see the ends twitching as he walked away in a measure of how upset he was.

She heaved a sigh and let him go. She could understand the frustration of pinning all his hopes on the guitar and having them dashed, but it was hard to watch his crisis of faith, when she'd depended on his since Earth.

But when he was feeling more willing to listen, she hoped to tell him she didn't think playing the song had been for nothing. She had felt something, and apparently Sam had, too, even if it hadn't given him the answers he wanted. Which made her wonder if the song had another purpose; the real purpose of Earth had never been to settle there, so maybe the song's purpose had nothing to do Sam's memories either.

She went back to Joe's to play triad, winning three hands against Hotdog and Esrin without even trying, and then left to find Sam, hoping he'd had enough time to calm down.

He was throwing at the pyramid backstop he'd built in an empty storage room. "Hey," she greeted. He didn't turn to see her. "You still brooding?"

The ball smashed into the goal and clanged into the basket. "That would be a yes?" she teased, and shut the hatch behind her.

"I'm not brooding."

She snickered at that and came up close behind him, sliding her fingers lightly down the bulk of his feathers to separate his wings and step in between. She rubbed his shoulders and neck until he started to relax.

"There are better ways to get out of a bad mood," she reminded him and stroked down the bare skin of his back. He was so warm and soft under her hands. Her hands slipped around his flanks, nestling closer, lips on the back of his neck as her fingers traced the planes of his abdomen and the rims of his narrow hips.

He let out a deep breath, releasing the anger and frustration.

"There, that's better," she murmured. He started to turn, but she tightened her grip. "No. Stay like this. What did I promise, hm?" She kissed the side of his neck, sucking on his skin until he shuddered.

She opened his pants and pushed them down, hands sliding back up the inside of his thighs, feeling the hair give way to the soft skin.

"Kara..." he objected to the light fondling. "Don't be such a frakking tease."

She smirked. "You think that's me being a tease?" She pulled both hands to his back again, tracing every hard ridge of tendon and muscle, slowly rising until she reached where the wings came out of his back.

Under her touch, she coaxed them open until they unfurled out to either side. From the back they were all one plane of pale grey softness for her to smooth gently from the leading edge and down the long stiff pinions that hung at the bottom.

Then she ducked underneath, coming up in front of him and noting to her delight that he was liking this quite a lot.

She kissed his skin - lips and nails making trails up his stomach and chest - until she was back on her feet. Her mouth found his, as her hands curved over his shoulders and back to the wings.

Locked together so closely, she felt the touch go through him as she stroked both hands across the bones. He shivered and his breath caught, and when she pulled back a little, his eyes had gone dark and unfocused, concentrating on what he was feeling.

"Is it good?" she asked, pulling her fingers back again, lightly ruffling the smaller feathers on the leading edge which were nearly as hard as scales.

"Gods, you have no idea." His hands fell on her hips, to pull her against him, and she knew he wanted to rub against her but she kept back.

"No, I want to see if this is enough," she murmured, continuing her caresses and smirking at the way his breathing was turning to short, irregular pants.

"Kara..." He tried again to pull her near, but faltered when she pulled her blunt nails against the taut skin of the bones.

The wings snapped straight, vibrating, and a choked off groan escaped him. Then, self-restraint snapped, and he pushed her backward into the backstop, hard enough to make it creak against the floor. He pressed into her, discovered she was still dressed, and his hands tore at her pants with a frustrated groan. "Gods damn it."

She stomped free of her boots and pants, stroking only his wings the whole time. Every touch seemed to make him a little harder, a little more anxious. "Come on, baby," she encouraged and grinned, as his hands slid under her legs to lift her higher.

She put her feet around his back as he pressed into her, holding onto his shoulders with a tight grip. His mouth slipped from hers to her neck, kissing her feverishly, and behind him, the large wings moved, adding a powerful new intensity to his thrusts. Quivering everywhere, she couldn't breathe, could only hold on as the fire jolted through her.

Then, panting, he let her down to her feet, and his head dropped to kiss her shoulder. His breath were hot against his skin.

"Mm, didn't know you had it in you, Mister Anders," she teased, hands slipping down his re-furled wings and damp chest and around his slim waist.

"No? Was I frakking someone else against the wall on Demetrius?" he retorted and sucked at the base of her neck making her shiver and think that maybe they weren't quite done here yet.

"You were? How very naughty of you." She was trying to keep a straight face but a laugh escaped. When he tried to move back, she held on tighter to keep him where he was, unwilling to spoil this moment by moving.

Wings, ruined planets, missing memories, mysterious songs, interfering gods... none of it seemed as important as the heat of his skin against hers.

* * *

Dee had her first inkling something was wrong, when Felix returned from his 'vacation' even more tightly wound and everyone else on his lost Raptor was dead. She couldn't escape the thought that crossed her mind, looking into his dark, lost eyes, that he might have been the killer, no matter what he reported about how one of the Eights had gone crazy.

Then he stopped talking to her, which she might not have noticed since she only saw him when they were both on duty, except Louis told her that Felix had broken up with him. Then she started to notice that Felix was talking to other people at gathering places around the ship.

She cornered him in the rec room. "Felix, what are you doing?" she demanded.

He smiled very faintly. "Drinking," he nodded toward his cup.

"That's not what I meant. Louis told me you went to see Zarek. Why? What on Earth do you have to say to that creep?"

Felix' smile widened, but it was mocking, not amused. "I'd forgotten how much you hate him."

"And so should you," she insisted. "He's a backstabbing terrorist out for power."

"Funny, you should say that. He's a political prisoner, Dee. Laura Roslin doesn't like him, because he won't toddle along after her plan to make nice with the genocidal monsters. We have a few things in common, that's all. I like to talk to him."

"What about?" she asked.

"You wouldn't understand."

"Try me."

He shook his head. "You're an Adama. You should be a one of Zarek's strongest supporters as a fellow Sagittaron, and you of all people should understand being oppressed by the frakking Adamas, but you're one of them now. The Dee I knew who helped throw an election would understand."

She put her hands flat on the table. "What I understand is that you sound as if you're agitating against the Admiral and maybe the president, too. And that's not the Felix Gaeta I know, because it's stupid."

"Stupid? No, what's stupid is being allies with a bunch of murderers who want nothing more than to see us all dead. And instead they're all over this ship, advising the admiral and the president, and it's like New Caprica all over again with the collaborators and the toasters. Funny how the resistance on New Caprica all turned out to be led by toasters, isn't it? And now they've managed to make themselves look like angels, the better to snare us with. Well, I've seen their hearts, and they are cold and they care nothing for humans. Nothing at all, except for how we can serve them."

She stood up. "You're wrong. These Cylons are good allies. They're helping us. They want to find a home, too, away from the ones that would kill them, and us, too."

Gaeta shook his head sadly at her. "You talk like these are different. They aren't different. They hate us. They want us dead. They just want us to find them a planet first."

"If they kill all of us, they die, too," she retorted.

"Oh, I'm sure they'll keep some around for breeding, that's what they did on New Caprica, and the Colonies, after all. I'm sure you're safe, Dee, especially now that you're back with Apollo. He gave them all amnesty, remember? Maybe next we'll get a Cylon on the Quorum. Yes, a Cylon on the Quorum, that's how far we've fallen."

His voice was louder than necessary and he was looking toward the table full of pilots. "I'll let you keep on speechifying without me, then," she said tightly. "But be careful, Felix."

"Oh yes," he taunted, "wouldn't want the Roslin-Adama regime to think people are anything but throwing flowers at our so-called allies, would we?"

"It has nothing to do with flowers, Felix. It's about survival. We're all going to die if we can't find a new planet. And doing something stupid about the only people who can help us, is going to get us all killed," she told him sharply, and thankfully she saw some people look down, as if ashamed or concerned. She walked out, leaving him to his grand-standing, and wondering where her friend had gone. To her dismay, Dragon was the only one who followed her out.

"The others are listening to all that?" she asked him, he nodded.

"Yeah. I don't know why -- he's a junkie."

Which was a harsh assessment, but not inaccurate. "Okay, keep your ears open. I can't think Felix is dumb enough to actually do something, but there are people who are. I'm going to report to the admiral."

She got a few steps down the hall and then turned back. "Dragon! If something happens, watch out for Hera. I'd hate to think anyone would try to hurt a child, but...." She trailed off, unable to voice her worry. He nodded, his usually casual attitude changed to something much tighter and harder with determination.

In Adama's quarters, he listened to her gravely and then took off his glasses to rub at his eyes. "Is he wrong, though?" he asked after a moment, and his gaze went to the painting on his wall of the first Cylon war. "We are cozy with the Cylons. But the fleet's survival has to come before vengeance. We've tried to explain that it's necessary - that they're helping us, and they have more to lose than we do. But the memories aren't that old. Maybe we're expecting the impossible from people who have lost too much."

She nodded, wishing it was different. Because there was so much hurt and pain, and if she thought about it too long, she knew those same feelings could overwhelm her, too. But there was also hope, and she wanted to hold onto that instead. "I wish I could share the wonder I felt on Earth with him," she murmured. "How suddenly I knew we had taken another step of our journey, not that we'd reached the end of it. Seeing Sam fly gave me back my hope -- and he's the last person Felix would ever accept it from."

The admiral smiled faintly, remembering it, too. "All right," the admiral nodded slowly, coming to a decision. "I can't be too harsh on the lieutenant after all that's happened. And I need him in CIC too much to remove him. But if his complaints start affecting morale, I'll have to do something."

"I know, sir. That's why I wanted to make sure you knew."

Soft sounds from the hatch to his private quarters were not nearly enough warning, as a woman's voice asked, "You knew what?"

Dee looked up, and felt her mouth drop open, as President Roslin emerged, wearing a robe and a scarf wrapped around her head.

Roslin met her eyes, lips lifting in a small smile of amusement. The admiral stood and went to her side, offering his arm to help her to the chair. Then astonishing her more -- Adama leaned down and kissed her cheek. Dee caught herself staring and looked away.

"Good morning, Lieutenant," Roslin greeted, utterly calm, as if she came out of the admiral's bedroom every day. And maybe she did. "Knew what?"

Dee straightened and put away her astonishment. It wasn't any of her business, and it wasn't as if it hadn't been brewing for a long time. She reported, "That Lieutenant Gaeta is very unhappy with the Cylon alliance, madam president. He keeps speaking out against it."

Roslin's gaze sharpened on her. "What does he say?"

She frowned and tried to explain, "He wasn't on Earth, and I think he took the wrong message from it. So he says things like the Cylons are all out to kill us."

"And people believe this? They agree?" Roslin asked.

"Some," she admitted after a moment. "It's easier to think that, I think. For some people. They didn't see what we did."

"I saw something impossible, lieutenant," Roslin agreed quietly, and her gaze was distant. "As much as it challenges my faith that it happened to Cylons, it also confirmed there's someone out there watching over us. We're not alone. And there's a purpose to all that's happened."

Adama intervened, "Mister Gaeta is understandably very angry at everything right now. I hope by letting him speak out, it gives him an outlet. But if he becomes openly seditious, I'll have no choice but remove him."

Roslin nodded and waved a thin hand a little. "Your decision. I'm not deciding anything, remember?" she asked, with a hint of playfulness but also weariness. She turned her face back to Dee. "Thank you, lieutenant. Not every officer would come forward and report a friend. I know this is hard for you."

"It is," Dee agreed, looking down at her hands. "But I don't agree with him. I don't believe all hope is gone."

"Nor do I," Roslin agreed. "We'll find our home. We'll see it. I believed it before; but now I know."

Dee met her eyes and somehow, even though Roslin was very ill and had no strength to spare, she still managed to give some to Dee, who straightened and nodded her agreement. It was hard to explain to someone like Felix who had no faith, but here, with Roslin, she understood.

Adama stood and Dee got to her feet immediately. He took Roslin's hand in his and pressed it. "I need to get to CIC. Jaffee is right outside if you need anything."

She smiled up at him. "I'm going to rest a little while. I'll see you later?"

In the corridor outside, Dee decided she was not going to mention it at all. Adama didn't either; instead, he glanced at her and murmured, "Lee seems happier these days. I'm glad."

She darted a surprised glance back at him, but smiled. "Me, too, sir." Then they entered CIC and she took Hoshi's station, shooting him a look of commiseration since she wasn't the only one Felix was alienating with his new hostility.

It all went to hell two days later.

On to Chapter Four
entertaining in a disturbing way: Can't be arrested for thoughtslyssie on October 12th, 2010 03:00 am (UTC)
It all went to hell two days later.


Not the words one wants to read, even if they are inevitable. (also, hahaha, sex in the pyramid room)
korekorenap on October 15th, 2010 07:02 pm (UTC)
Again your not missing anything. And the clarity of why A/R welcomed the cylons and had reservations was sorely lacking in canon. Of course RDM had everyone fall apart and you gave them something to keep going. And Gaeta is both more vicious and sympathetic. You've done a great job delineating the lines between the two sides of the mutiny. Having the wings both save some and further embitter others is wonderful and rings completely true.
kag523 on February 26th, 2011 02:18 pm (UTC)
I'm really loving how you are blending all of these storylines into one. The Dee / Gaeta relationship feels especially real and fully developed considering that they are secondary characters. And your Sam / Kara are a sight to behold. The language you use to describe them is just lovely. This line in particular just took my breath away:

Wings, ruined planets, missing memories, mysterious songs, interfering gods... none of it seemed as important as the heat of his skin against hers.