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06 October 2010 @ 12:40 am
Under a Shadowed Sky, Chapter Six  
Under a Shadowed Sky

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Chapter Six

When Kara came back into Sickbay, she found it was a flurry of activity. Staff were pulling curtains and looking behind equipment. Kara ignored them, frowning, to go to the ward where Sam was.

Ishay saw her and rushed up. "He's gone," were the first words out of Ishay's mouth.

Kara's heart froze with fear. "What .... what do you mean, he's gone?" Kara demanded, trying to keep calm in the face of her instant terror. Ishay could not be telling her, not like this.

"He was there, in bed," Ishay said, pointing. Kara turned her head reluctantly, and saw that Sam's bed was empty. She blinked and squinted as if somehow she was missing him behind the pillow. "Then when I saw the light that his pulse monitor wasn't taking any reading, I went to check, and he wasn't there. He'd pulled out his i.v. and all his monitors, everything, and he was just... gone." She shook her head.

"You mean he walked out? Is he that much better?" Kara asked, now not afraid, but very confused.

But Ishay dashed her hope quickly. "No, he's still very sick and probably delirious."

"So where is he?"

"We don't know. He's not here, and nobody saw him leave."

"What? That's impossible. There are guards on both entrances--"

"Nobody saw," she insisted. "But he needs to be found."

Kara went straight to the wall and the phone to contact CIC. "This is Starbuck."

"This is Hoshi. Go, Starbuck," Hoshi answered.

"Lieutenant, I need a security alert all-hands on deck two. Sam managed to wander out of the infirmary in a fever delirium and somehow nobody can find him."

"Understood." As soon as she hung up, the speakers in the wall clicked and the all-hands went out. "This is CIC, calling a medical and security alert for deck two. Ensign Anders needs to return to Sickbay. Notify CIC or Sickbay if you see him."

Kara inhaled a deep breath. "I can't sit here. I'm going to go look."

An hour later, he still hadn't been found.

* * *

"Where the frak is he?" Kara demanded and folded her arms to hide that her hands were shaking. Sam was out there somewhere, desperately ill and in pain. If he hadn't hidden himself, someone else had hidden him away. She wasn't sure which answer was worse.

Helo and Adama had come from CIC at word of the disappearance. "He's still here somewhere," Helo reported. "No ships have left. And the Chief's crew have checked all the airlocks manually. They're checking the waste recycler now." When she looked at him, heart lurching at the thought, he added, "Just to make sure."

Cottle said, "He's traumatized and delirious. He's probably found some corner, trying to find a safe place."

"How did he get out in the first place?" Adama demanded.

"He got very lucky to pick that moment to wake up and walk out," Cottle answered. "Most of the staff was in surgery with me, and somehow none of the guards saw him, though they all swear they didn't leave their posts. But hell, I can't figure out how he stood up in his condition. Sheer stubbornness, I guess. Wherever he ended up, he's probably unconscious by now. Without medication and fluids, it'll be a fast slide into septic shock and death."

Adama listened to all this, frowning in concern. "All right. I want a full search, starting at the infirmary and spreading out. Helo, you coordinate it. Get the Cylons and Baltar's people to help if you need it. Make sure you check ducts and vents. Let's find him quickly."

"Aye, sir."

Kara tagged along after Helo, listening as he coordinated the search.

Then she looked down one of the short cross corridors and saw someone sitting on the floor. Her breath caught in excitement and hope, until she realized the figure was much too small to be Sam, but she frowned. "Karl? Is that Hera?"

He followed her gaze and then took off in a sprint, and Kara followed at his heels. "Hera? Sweetie? I though Jeanne was taking care of you?"

She glanced up at him and smiled. She had a piece of paper in front of her and was drawing a picture. Helo scooped her up. "We don't need two people lost, Hera. I need to run you back to Jeanne, because I have to find Sam Anders. Mommy will come get you as soon as she's back on board."

"Helo, wait." Kara picked up the picture. It was a drawing of a yellow-haired woman in a red dress and next to her was a taller stick figure, this one with dark hair and large wings, which Hera had colored in rainbow stripes. It had to be Sam, and there was something about the picture that made Kara very uneasy. Kara dampened her lips. "Hera? Do you know where Sam is?" she asked anxiously.

"Kara, of course she doesn't --" Helo started impatiently, but stopped when Hera nodded. "Sweetheart, you do? Where is he?"

She reached out, pointing with her tiny finger at the picture in Kara's hand.

Kara's gaze met Helo's, and he shook his head once, briskly. "Kara, we'll find him. I'm going to take Hera back to Jeanne--"

"Hang on." Kara looked into Hera's somber little face and she believed the girl knew something, even if she didn't know how to express it. "Please, Hera. He's very sick. He needs help. If you saw him, where is he?"

She appeared to be thinking about it and then squirmed to get loose. Karl exchanged another glance with Kara, and let Hera down, holding her hand. "All right, Hera, can you show us where he is?"

They went past the group of searchers, and Helo ordered, "Hotdog, keep up the search. We'll be back soon."

Hera led her and Helo down the corridors. Kara frowned. She had expected Hera to lead them back toward the officers' quarters, where she'd have a chance to see him. But as they went farther from those quarters and up a level, there was no way Hera had been here, and she doubted Sam could make it this far from the infirmary. "Hera, are you sure this is the right way?" she asked doubtfully.

Hera ignored her and kept going. She paused occasionally at intersections, but rarely for long, as if she was following a trail only she could see. Then she stopped right in front of an equipment storage room hatch and put her tiny hands on the bottom of the wheel. Helo helped her turn it and the hatch opened.

It was dark inside, but the lights came up automatically as soon Kara stepped over the threshold. Kara halted inside the hatch, staring in shock.

Hera was right. Sam was there, curled up in the middle of the empty floor. He was facing the door, and she could see the tattoo on his arm, starkly black against pale skin.

"Sam?" Kara called, and she wanted to rush to his side. But he was so still... What if he was --? She couldn't find out, couldn't face that reality, not yet. Her voice dropped to a low pleading whisper, "Sam?"

But he stirred at the sound and his bare feet twitched. He drew in a deep breath, and something leaped back into life in her chest, chasing the fear away. At least she wasn't too late. He let out a soft breathy moan, and his eyelids flickered. Then he sat up. He moved slowly, but with assurance, not weakness or dizziness, until he was kneeling upright, facing her.

He was naked, but that wasn't the shocking thing. He looked healthy again, not sick. The bandages and the stitched-up wounds on his flanks were gone, and his bare front seemed strong and untouched. More astonishing, his eyes were bright and clear, vividly blue when they met hers. His smile was brilliant and full of joy as he spoke to her.

"I remember, Kara. I remember everything."

"What?" she repeated dumbly, in shock. "What do you mean? Sam, you were sick. We thought you might die..."

He shook his head, still smiling. "Something wonderful has happened."

He climbed to his feet and a new pair of wings unfurled.

They stretched nearly the width of the whole room from tip to tip and were so white they shimmered iridescent, even in the yellow light in the room. Kara's breath caught. "How?" she whispered.

"I was dead," he answered quietly. "I remember falling in the dark, and I knew it was the end. There's no resurrection left for Cylons - I'd be as dead any human - but it was too much to fight. I let go. And then ... I woke up here. This is where the song brought us when we four realized we were Cylons; and this is where God sent me back."

For a moment she wanted to fiercely deny that he had died. Maybe he had thought he was dead, but he'd only passed out. But his body was free of the terrible wounds, as if they'd never happened, and the wasting from the illness was gone, also. Plus there were those beautiful perfect new wings...

It was very similar to coming back in a brand-new Viper, in fact. "Like me," she said.

He nodded. "Like you."

She folded her arms, and her voice strained for their normal banter. "How come I got a frakking Viper, and not shiny wings?"

"Jealous?" he quipped, grinning.

The answer to that was truly a 'yes', but she shook her head and answered, "I want to fly with you."

"We will." He couldn't seem to look away from her, and she couldn't tear her eyes away from him. "But right now I want to kiss you and touch you, and make sure I'm not dreaming."

She forced a little laugh, her feet bringing her nearer. "If you're dreaming, so am I."

Their hands met in the middle, but before they drew close a sudden voice said behind them:

"I'll - uh - find you some clothes. I'm glad you're back, Sam."

That made them both start, and turn to find Helo holding Hera.

"Thank you, Helo," Sam said, and his eyes met Hera's and her giggles faded away. He nodded to her. "You did the right thing, Hera."

Helo pushed the hatch closed behind him, leaving Kara alone with Sam.

"These are yours," she said, and took his chain with his own tags and the cord that held hers from her neck to put them over his head. His fingers took hold of her tag on his chest and he smiled.

"That's not all I'm missing," he said and finally reached for her, pulling her against him, wrapping his arms around her tightly. He was warm against her, and she could feel his breath on her hair and his pulse against her skin.

She dipped a hand into the new feathers, finding they were so fine and soft she could barely feel them sliding on her fingers. But her touch shifted their color as if they were clear like ice, breaking the light into rainbows. "I... I can't believe you came back like this," she whispered. "It's so beautiful. Like an angel..."

"You're my angel," he murmured and tipped up her chin to look in her eyes. "I couldn't leave you, Kara. I couldn't. Not now, not yet."

"Not ever," she whispered and went up on her toes to wrap a hand around his neck and kiss him.

* * *

Everything was ... there. Sam hadn't realized how much had been missing. If waking up to being a Cylon had been like having a light suddenly shine in a dark room, now he was seeing in color for the first time after believing the world was only shades of gray. Everything was different. He knew who he was.

The old Sam Anders, who'd been mind-raped and torn apart for his various sins, was gone. He'd been reborn, and he was whole for the first time in far too many years. Complex math including the equations to describe the universe and the flow of time and space that had been tantalizingly out of reach for so long, was in his mind again. He remembered the elegant chaos of the brain and the intersection of spirit and personality to create life and allow for its rebirth, again and again, aloft on the wind between the stars...

"Sam? Hello? Hey, I'm right here," Kara's fingers seized his chin and made him look at her. She frowned at him, looking suddenly worried.

He blinked, realizing he'd been enraptured by the memories. He smiled, reassuringly, and lifted a hand to her face in return. "I know."

"Sam? What is it?"

"You know how you came back with knowledge of Earth?" he asked.

"Yes...” she answered warily. “Do you know where to go now?"

He shook his head. "No. It's not like that. But I remember, Kara. I remember all of it. Things I haven't known in ... decades. And it's all back. It's..." he thought about how to describe it, "it's as if I've been living on a Raptor, and I thought that's all there was, but now the hatch has opened and I'm actually on the Galactica. There's so much."

"Like what?" she asked.

"So much, I don't even have words," he told her, but the words tumbled out anyway: "About Cylons and history and who we are. I know the truth about the war, and I know --" His hands had tightened on her shoulders in his excitement and he made himself pull them back. "Kara, I know that song is the key."

"The key to what?" she asked, still frowning in concern at him.

"I don't know. I just know it is."

She nodded slowly, then offered, "I found another piece. Another sequence of notes and when I played it, I felt something. I think we should play together. Maybe if it's a key, it'll unlock something else. But first, you should tell the admiral about the Cylons, whatever it is you remember --"

"No," he interrupted. "First I tell Galen and Tory and Saul. They--"

"The colonel's dead, Sam."

Her words hit like a bat to the chest. "What? Saul -- "

"In the mutiny. Charlie Conner strangled him," she explained.

"Oh. Oh, God." He turned away from her, overwhelmed. He remembered Saul, so many memories; the two of them had worked on the scanning system and algorithms...

"I’m sorry, I wouldn't have said it like that if I'd realized ..."

"No, I -- that's okay," he said as if from a distance. Dead. Could it be true? Had they been close enough to the Colony? The Five didn't need the Resurrection Hub if they were close enough to the Colony and if the original chambers were still intact and functional. If they'd been close enough, which he could sense they weren't now. If the chambers were still intact... but maybe John had destroyed them to be vindictive. If, if... Both had to be true, or Saul was truly dead. They had been colleagues and friends and become family through the journey to the Colonies.

And if he was dead, he had never known Ellen was probably still alive, which hurt even more to know.

"You came back," Kara murmured at his shoulder, breaking through his grief. "Maybe he did, too."

"I don't know.” That was a terrible thing to admit when he knew so much now. He didn't know everything. He turned back to her. "I think you pulled me back, Kara." His hand covered the wing tattoo on his opposite arm -- he'd been reborn but that was still there. It meant he and Kara were still connected. "Whatever we came back for, whatever our destiny is supposed to be, it's not finished yet. I don't know if Saul had that. Even though Ellen would want him back, I'm sure."

She blinked at him and looked hesitant. "You... you know Ellen's dead, Sam. You know that. You saw."

She thought he was losing it. He smiled a little. "I didn't know she was a Cylon, then, did I? She should have resurrected."

"But... but surely Caprica or D'Anna or someone would've mentioned her. D'Anna seemed sure she was dead, too," Kara reminded him, as if he'd forgotten.

Sam shook his head and his amusement fell away. "They wouldn't know. John would be sure to keep her hidden. Last thing he wanted was to let the others know about us."

"John? Who's John?" she asked in confusion.

"The Ones. Cavil." He felt ill and swallowed hard, but there was no escaping the other truth he had come back with: "The ones I have to stop."

* * *

Kara kept glancing at him, glad he was back and yet also uneasy. It was more than the new wings that were different, and she was still trying to get a handle on how different.

Her eye caught Helo's, and he nodded a little. He saw it, too. He leaned forward and teased, "Just like someone on Demetrius."

She glowered at him, affronted, when she had been nothing like this. She'd come back herself, with a case of ... obsession. Sam had come back as someone else. Or at least, more.

After Helo had come back with clothes, Hera having been left with Jeanne, Sam had gone straight to their quarters to grab the guitar, sending Helo to find Galen and call Tory from the baseship immediately. But they were waylaid by an order for Sam to go to sickbay.

Sam glared at the orderly. "I don't have time for this. Tell them I'm fine."

"Sam." Kara sighed and caught his arm when he would've continued down the corridor. "They'll never believe it without seeing it."

He hesitated, looked at the guitar, and submitted with poor grace. "Fine."

Kara couldn't hide a smile as he stomped toward sickbay. Her smile widened when he glowered at her. Then with a shrug and a rustle of his wings, he smirked and teased, "We're going the wrong way."

It took a second for her to figure it out, then she smacked his shoulder with the back of her hand. "Not funny."

Smile widening, he taunted, "Of course it is."

"At least you recognize your own crazy behavior," she retorted.

"I learned from the best."

She grinned. "Damn straight." She nudged him with her elbow as they walked, glad to see a flash of his old self.

In sickbay Ishay saw him, and the tray in her hands dropped to the floor with a loud metallic clatter. She shook her head in helpless confusion as she stared. "That's... that's not possible."

He opened the wings to their full span, showing them off for the staff, and he answered quietly, "No, it's not, but it's true. I wanted to thank you," he added. "You never wanted to take care of me, but you did. I'm grateful."

She stared some more and shook her head to clear it. "You're ... you're welcome."

By the time Kara and Sam made it to Joe's, word had spread.

They made quite a stir, as they entered with people turning to look and stare and whisper. Caprica was there, sitting with Baltar and some Cylons including Tory, but Caprica's smile was the brightest when she saw Sam walking. Kelly, Costanza, the Agathons, and Tyrol were there as well.

Tyrol got up to meet them near the door, people giving way to him. He shook his head in slow amazement and held out a hand. Sam just looked at him for a moment. "Galen..." he started, sounding a little choked up. "Oh God, it's good to see you again." He put both hands on Tyrol's shoulders, the chief looking at him as if he'd lost his mind, as Sam pulled him into a hug.

Tyrol patted him awkwardly with one hand. "Um, me, too, Sam. I'm glad you're alive, and you got new wings. How the hell did that happen?"

"No frakking clue," Sam answered. "But I do know a lot more than I did before. But Kara and I are going to play the song and see if that helps, first."

The admiral was there, standing next to the bar where Lee and Dualla were sitting.

"You look well for someone at death's door," Adama observed. He looked exhausted and old, Kara realized in concern. Her gaze met Lee's and he nodded a little, sharing her worry.

"I got better," Sam answered with a shrug and a rustle of wings. "Admiral, you should know -- there's a possibility Saul might have resurrected."

Kara started with surprise, and blurted, "I thought without the Hub -- "

"That's true for them," Sam nodded in Caprica's direction. "Not for us. But I don't know if we were in range or not."

"In range of what?" Adama asked curiously and with a little suspicion.

"The ship that brought us from Earth to the Colonies," he answered. "It's a long story, and I promise I will tell it -- but first I have to do this." He held up the guitar, as if it explained anything, and started purposefully toward where the piano was waiting.

Kara was not quite so willing to abandon the admiral without some kind of explanation, "He woke up wanting us to do this. I ... have no idea what it's supposed to do. If anything."

Adama waved a hand in resigned dismissal and she followed after Sam. "You sure you want to do this?" she asked him in a murmur as she slid onto the piano bench.

His grin was sudden and bright flashing at her. "It's the Kara Thrace and her special destiny band reunion tour. We should bring Leoben up here to play drums."

She rolled her eyes. "You think you're so funny."

Snickering at her, he pulled a bar stool closer for himself, but didn't sit yet. Instead he took a deep breath and looked out into the gathering, announcing into the falling silence, "So. To answer your questions, no, I don't know how this happened. I don't know how I woke up alive, healed, with new wings. But what I do know is that I was playing a song on a guitar on Earth on the day the war began there and only five of us survived. And I know it's the same song Kara heard when she was a child and began drawing pictures of the same mandala that was inside the Temple of Hopes on the algae planet. It's the song we're going to play for you now because it's a key. There's a reason for our return, a reason we're here, a reason that all this happened... we need to find it."

He sat and tried a preliminary chord. Kara waited as he re-tuned two of the strings. Then he put a hand across the strings to silence them, and glanced at her. "Ready?"

A part of her wanted to complain that they should rehearse first, and that was the part that nervously licked her lips, but the rest was ready. Her nod was confident. "Go. You start."

He began to play, with a faster tempo than he'd played before.

But as before, the notes and the words seemed to circle around and tug on her. She knew exactly when to bring in her new notes under his lyrics, and when they hit the bridge, he took up her notes smoothly, embroidering a riff, as she took over the chords.

It was seamless, and in that moment when the music hung clear and perfect in the air, she knew they'd played together before.

Then, it ended. The notes faded away and she lifted her fingers from the piano. Her eyes locked with Sam's, feeling strangely open and connected to him, as if the music had spun a link between them that was still there.

The audience was still and silent for a moment, suspended in the music as well, before the moment was broken by a crash. Kara jerked and looked to find Tory on her knees, her chair overturned and she was holding her head.

Galen was staring wide-eyed at nothing, mouth open as if he'd been stabbed.

Sam rushed down to them. "Tell me you remember," he begged. "Tell me it worked."

Tory staggered to her feet and she looked at him as if she hadn't seen him in years. "Sam? Oh my God." She threw her arms around him into a tight embrace, and the shining black of her wings curved around to touch his white ones. Kara's fingers itched to paint the moment, of curves and contrast melding together.

But Galen's eyes held something else, as he looked at Tory. "Tory?" he whispered and his hand reached out trembling to touch her feathers. "Tory..."

She lifted her head from Sam's shoulder, smiling with joy as she turned. "Galen? I remember, I remember you-" And she was laughing as they fell into each others arms.

Then, abruptly, she stiffened and yanked herself away, her expression turning distraught. Then she turned and tore out of there as if wild dogs were at her heels. Galen ran after her.

Sam watched them go, frowning in concerned puzzlement. "They used to be together," he explained to Kara. "Maybe she was overwhelmed by the memories. It was sort of sudden."

"I think it's time," Adama suggested. "You need to tell us what you know."

"About what?" Lee asked. "About the ship you mentioned?"

Sam answered, "The truth. What no one in this room -- not the Five, not the Humans, not the Cylons -- has known for the last fifty years."

He set the guitar on top of the piano and took up his seat on the stool again. "The Thirteenth Tribe settled on Earth a long time ago and quickly lost all knowledge of resurrection. They grew and prospered, building cities and division between them in fights over resources. They also discovered a reverence for their own lives, now that death was final, and so they built the first mechanical beings to fight their wars for them. And it was into this rapidly decaying world that the five of us were born. Ellen was the daughter of one of the wealthiest, most influential men on the planet and she was... brilliant. All of you who saw only one side to her, there was so much more that was taken away..." he trailed off, looking upset before he shook it off and continued the story. "She worked with Saul on the AI systems. And eventually she gathered in Galen and Tory and myself, to add our specialties into the project. We knew from the old stories that resurrection was possible, but no one knew how it worked. Ellen finally cracked it by locating the Colony, the original ship that had brought our ancestors from Kobol.

"Everyone knew the war was coming, so we worked on a way to save people. But we had only managed to get our own genetic material into the growing chambers as test subjects, before the bombs fell. By the time the resurrection process finished... we were too late. There was no one else left to save."

He stopped, looking down at the floor, posture slumped and stricken. Kara remembered what he'd said about recalling another planet burned to ash, and smoothed the back of his neck gently, trying to offer what comfort she could. His jaw worked for a moment, before he found his voice.

"A... being, a messenger of God, came to us then, told us that the same thing was going to happen to the twelve tribes and we could save them, if we went to them and warned them. So, alone, we retraced the steps of our ancestors in the Colony. But our ship didn't have a working jump drive, so we traveled sub-luminal. Our journey was long, and it seemed ridiculous that we could possibly be in time when hundreds of years were passing outside the ship. But it didn't matter, since we had no where else to go."

He paused and Kara thought about five people, slowly backtracking from Earth to the Temple of Five to the Lion's head beacon, and then to Kobol. She didn't know their subjective time inside the ship -- it wasn't as long as the two thousand years that had passed outside -- but they had been on that ship a long time, sole survivors of a cataclysm even worse than the Colonies. It was so lonely it made her heart ache for him. No wonder he'd looked so distraught when she'd told him the colonel was dead.

Sam continued, softly, staring into the distance, and gave a soft, bitter laugh. "We arrived too late. The Cylon war had already begun in the Colonies. The Centurions found us, and they realized we were what they wanted to be. We couldn't bear the thought of the Colonies being extinguished, as our planet had been. So we made a deal with them: they would stop the war in exchange for resurrection and our assistance in creating a new, more human-form Cylon."

As everyone figured out what he was saying, there were more than a few gasps and the Cylons all stared at him. Kara could hardly believe it. He had been in the Colonies when her mother had been young. He had ended the first Cylon War before Kara had been born.

Kara felt the skin and muscle of his shoulder under her fingers, realizing that the body she'd first known hadn't been old enough. It could not have been his original one, which meant there had to be at least one more death and resurrection in the story.

"Yes," he addressed the Cylons, "we made you. We made all of you, a mix of ourselves, and human, and Centurion."

"But, why? Why didn't we know this?" Caprica blurted in confusion and disbelief.

D'Anna answered, her voice lightly sarcastic, "Because the Ones blocked it from us. They've known all along. Why do you think they boxed my sisters? I saw the faces of the Five. The Ones knew I wouldn't stop until I knew who they were and what they meant to us."

Sam nodded. "Yes. We made John first, the prototype. Physically he was based on Ellen's father, since we had that DNA available to us. But we made a terrible mistake with him, in his personality base. He turned angry and jealous, and he hated that we had any sympathies for the humans. We called ourselves Cylons, but to us it meant the same as "Human"; we'd been born, we grew up, and we intended to get old, just like humans. But John didn't want to be like the humans; he thought it was a betrayal and weak. So he turned on us. He tricked the five of us into an airlock and killed us. When we woke up, we were... blocked. We had no memories of Earth, of Cylons, of anything. He sent us to the Colonies as nearly empty shells and we built new lives as best we could on our own. And John set up his plan of revenge, to finish the Cylon War, destroy humanity, and punish us.

"And that," he inhaled a deep breath, "is why we're all here now. In trying to stop what we feared most, we created it, instead."

A heavy silence fell as everyone thought about what he'd said. Kara's hand tightened on his shoulder, trying to fit together what she'd known with these new revelations. "Her" Sam had been born in a vacuum of his real memories -- he'd been a scientist, a creator of the Cylons, and he'd ended the first Cylon War. But all that had been taken from him. She knew the rest of the story, how playing pyramid had been his ticket out of the slums of Picon.

"The Ones betrayed you. They betrayed us," Sharon said, and she sounded stunned. Kara realized this was all news to the Cylons as much as it was to the humans. "All Cylons. They warped us from what we should have been all along."

"We're not killing machines," Caprica declared softly.

Sam shook his head. "You were meant to be our family, to be our new people to replace those we'd lost. And we failed. It's time for us to start correcting our mistake now that we all know the truth."

"How?" Lee asked. "What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to call John and tell him to surrender. And," he added, glancing at the admiral, "find out if Ellen and Saul are really alive or not."

"Call him?" Dee asked, frowning. "How?"

"Through the Hybrid on the baseship. The Hybrids all know where the Colony is, even if they're not allowed to reveal its location. But I instituted a failsafe that the Hybrids must obey the Five." He sighed a little. "I was suspicious of John, just not suspicious enough to stop him."

"You think he's going to surrender?" Lee asked in disbelief. "He won. Why should he surrender?"

"I believe the Fours might break from him, when they see the wings and find out the truth. They were always faithful in their own way. But even if they don't, we have no choice. If he won't surrender, I'm ... going to have to destroy him," he said the words with determination, but also reluctance. It wasn't an easy thing for him to think about. "This Fleet will never be safe as long as they're out there."

"We'll talk over the strategic situation in more detail tomorrow," Adama declared, intervening. To Kara's surprise he seemed more invigorated. "It's late. I'm glad you're alive and that you now remember the truth, Ensign--" Then he stopped and grimaced. "That seems wrong. You're not a rook pilot anymore."

Sam rose and came to Adama. "Sir. If it weren't for you, I'd still be on Caprica or NewCap with no idea who I am. Don't think I don't appreciate that; I do. But... you're right." He reached up and took off his dogtags, leaving only Kara's around his neck. "I formally resign from the Colonial Fleet, Admiral. Thank you for the opportunity."

Adama took the tags and then clasped Sam's hand, not hesitating at all. In fact, he hung on to Sam's hand a little longer than necessary, looking into Sam's face. "I realize you're older than I am," he said with a glimmer of a smile lightening the craggy features briefly, recognizing the absurdity of the much younger-seeming man actually being the elder, "But take it from someone who's carried the same guilt over starting the war. It was not you alone."

"No, not me alone," Sam agreed. "But it was me in part, and there's no getting around that. I need to fix this, Admiral. I need to stop my ... creation, my offspring, from doing any more harm to these people I crossed two thousand years to try to help."

Adama nodded, and his free hand closed around Sam's shoulder. "I understand."

* * *

As they entered their quarters, Sam was talking, more to himself than to her, "I need to go over to the baseship. Find out if Saul and Ellen are still alive. It -- oh god, to think of them both gone, I just... They have to be alive. Resurrection should have restored their memories, so they'll know who they are, too. And then--"


He didn't seem to hear her, continuing on, "I need to tell John that the rest of us remember. The other Cylons know the truth now, and as long as I can get that truth to the Fours and Fives, that should break them from his control as well. His reign of terror will be over."


He stopped talking and blinked as if only now noticing she was there. "What?"

It made her want to laugh a little at the irony, knowing he was reflecting her own previous obsession back at her with his mind so focused on one thing. "I realize this is important," she said, planting herself right in front of him. "I get that this is why you're back. But do you think you can stop for, oh, twenty minutes and let your wife be glad you're alive and well again?" Her hands slid up his arms to tuck around his neck and pressed her body against his, making sure he understood exactly what she meant.

He smiled back at her. "I think I could, yes."

As his mouth came on hers, she reached behind him, rejoicing in the softness and perfection of the restored feathers again.

They both had new bodies now, but their tattoos were still there, their souls were still there, and the feel of him on her and against her was the same. They weren't who they had been, but they were still the same.

He was alive, and she was alive, and that simple fact made her hands greedy to touch, and her skin burn with need.

Afterward, tucked together on their sides while her fingers absently smoothed the feathers lying across her thigh, he did what they usually did and started to talk about whatever was truly bothering them. He murmured, "I meant what I said, you know. You don't have to worry that my feelings have changed, now that I have all my old memories back. They haven't. But..." he hesitated, and she tried not to stiffen wondering what that 'but' could mean.

He went on, "I know I'm different. You didn't sign on for bird Cylons, and you sure as hell didn't know you were marrying the person responsible for destroying your home planet. So I understand if you--" The quiet, matter-of-fact tone almost let the words slip right past her.

She jerked her head up and then flopped over to face him. "No. You aren't. Don't say that. You stopped the war."

He closed his eyes to avoid looking at her. "If we'd done nothing at all, billions of people would still be alive."

She shook her head. "You don't know that. Maybe without you, there would have been no survivors at all. Maybe the Colonies escaped Earth's fate only because of you. You keep saying you were too late, but maybe you were just in time."

"Kara," he objected, wearily, and she knew he didn't believe it.

"You were one of five survivors of Earth. Five. I didn't understand what that meant until today -- how alone you must have been." She stroked his chest, tracing the valley of his sternum up to his collar bone while she spoke, "But millions of people survived the first Cylon war, the one you stopped, and fifty thousand survived the attacks. I know not all of them have made it this far, but still, that's a hell of a lot more than five. That's because of you, too."

"I can't -- " he started in a low voice, broken by anguish, but she put a finger across his lips to silence him.

"You died, baby, at least three times." Then she added, in case he thought resurrecting meant dying didn't count, "You suffered terribly. How much more do you think you deserve?" He didn't answer that one, thankfully, because she was going to have to do damage if he said he deserved anything at all. "There's one thing I know for sure -- you're not my enemy. And no, I didn't know you'd end up a Cylon with wings, or two thousand years older than I am," she teased, "But it's not like you knew you'd end up with a frakked-in-the-head dead girl, either, when we made those vows."

Her smile faded when his expression didn't flicker with humor, staying grim and resistant. She let out a soft sigh and trailed her fingers lightly over his cheek, remembering when she'd done this just last night when he'd been sick and dying. This skin felt soft and cool beneath her fingers, like new. It should have felt strange, she realized, she should be bothered by the knowledge that he was a Cylon, he'd resurrected, and he was more of a stranger than she'd known. But none of that mattered, when she'd lost him today and only a miracle had brought him back.

She added, "But you know what? I married Samuel T Anders. That's still you. I said I wasn't letting go, and I meant it."

He paused, letting her words sink in. His eyes flickered away, thinking, and then he flashed a grin at her, frowning in pretended confusion, and joked, "So are you saying you kind of love me after all?"

She knew the guilt was only pushed aside, not gone, but she let it go and rolled her eyes. "Good lords, are you that insecure you need the little words? Fine." Leaning in, she punctuated each with a kiss, "I. Love. You. Moron."

The last made him laugh. "Birds of a feather." Then he rolled over her to kiss her and she pressed into him, kissing him back with insatiable hunger.

On to the Conclusion
entertaining in a disturbing way: Can't be arrested for thoughtslyssie on October 12th, 2010 03:45 am (UTC)
*giggles a lot* Ok, I shouldn't be, because there's also lots of ouchyness and stuff. But, c'mon. Moron. It's the best endearment ever. =D
kag523 on March 5th, 2011 02:30 am (UTC)
*happy sigh*

There is so much I love about this chapter. First - the shock that he was gone. (And really dead).... Have to admit, I didn't think you were going to pull a Kara, but it works PERFECTLY HERE!

Then the joke about the "Special Destiny Band" made me giggle out loud.

And of course, the connection between them can't be doubted (in your writing). I love how you've had Kara grow up here. She's willing to love him for who he is, and that is something I admire tremendously about your writing. Some time I'll explain why I find it impossible to write (realistic) Sam / Kara, but in the meantime, I will say this.

I believe your writing.

Thank you for this! K :>D

Edited at 2011-03-05 02:30 am (UTC)
lizardbeth: Anders- featherslizardbeth_j on March 5th, 2011 05:49 am (UTC)
I believe your writing.

Which is especially nice to hear when talking about a story that involves MAGICAL WINGS. So thank you. :)

One more chapter!
kag523 on March 5th, 2011 05:57 am (UTC)
*grins* I'm savouring it. I'm not ready for it to be over.

Edited at 2011-03-05 05:58 am (UTC)