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28 August 2011 @ 03:11 pm
fic: Until we leave this behind  
Title: Until we leave this behind
Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Rating: PG
Warning: death
Words: about 2500
Pairing, Characters: Kara/Sam, Leoben

Summary: The path to peace requires sacrifice.

Note: This is an AU where the Fleet and Cylons settled Earth 1.0 (unpleasant but not deadly). This fic is for the timestamp/future meme, requested by [profile] deborah_judge for Standing on the Edge The 'tonight' section has the end of that as a short synopsis/refresher; the original is explicit Kara/Sam/Leoben, but this one's not. sorry.

Afterward, Sam flopped down beside her with a groan. "You're going to kill me."

Kara chuckled. "Too much for you, baby?" But her hand toyed with his sweat-soaked hair idly and she whispered, "You're alive, Sam. We're both alive."

He turned his head to kiss her and pulled her up on his chest with an arm around her back.

Leoben waited, kneeling in the gathering dark, all but forgotten. His eyes traced their bodies, not with avarice or even lust, but reverence and gratitude he'd shared it as long as he could. He hadn't done what he'd come in here to do - but perhaps he'd done something even better.

When they were asleep, he dressed quickly and silently and spread the blanket over them. At the flap, Leoben glanced back at the two of them, curled together like one being, and he smiled.

One Day Later

The wind blows cold, worse than New Caprica, as Kara and Sam walk through camp. Kara doesn't like to see the bleak eyes and bowed heads of the people they go past. The humans look defeated and lost, unwilling or unable to start again, when this planet was not the Elysium they were promised.

They aren't even the worst. Sam's wearing his coat with the collar turned up, but people still recognize him. A cloud of whispers follows --- not all of the whispers are directed at him; some are at her, too -- but what she hears is dangerous and hateful. She glances up and sees from the tightness of his jaw that he hears them. But of course he already knows; his cheek and jaw on the left side are still livid with a bruise and she knows there's more underneath. She swallows, remembering that Leoben told her that Sam had sought it on purpose. He seems better now, but what the frak did she know? She hadn't known he'd been trying to get himself killed until yesterday.

Someone throws a rock but it falls short to her left, not hitting her. When she takes an infuriated step toward the tent it seemed to come from, Sam grips her shoulder to stop her. "No."

"Sam-- you can't let them get away with it!"

"I have to. I can't attack anyone. I can't retaliate and prove them right. What if I kill someone by accident? We'll never have peace."

She doesn't like it, but she remembers the Gideon and she has the feeling he's right. And it sucks. "Well, I don't have to hold back," she grumps and raises her voice to shout at the offending tent, "Next person to throw a rock at us will get it back in the face!"

Sam sighs and shakes his head. He leads her through camp and away toward the shore and the devastation of the old city.

"Why are we going this way?" she asks but he only shrugs.

His silence is unsettling. He's started a new dance, without her, and she doesn't quite know where to put her feet anymore. She doesn't like it. She grabs his hand in hers, and it's telling that he looks down at it as if he doesn't quite believe she's taking his hand. Yesterday's frakking may have helped, but they're not all the way fixed.

"You know something? You're not leaving me," she declares quietly.

He smiles, but it's that same melancholy expression that suggests he knows something she doesn't. "It's not up to me."

"It is when you offer yourself up to get killed!" She yanks on his arm, making him stop and face her. "Promise me, you'll stop. Promise me, Sam - I can't get into this again if I'm going to lose you."

He lets out a sigh. "Then go, Kara." She flinches, not expecting that answer. He continues, "None of us come with guarantees, and me least of all. If you want easy and safe you picked the wrong guy."

She narrows her eyes at him, irritated. "You gonna keep throwing that in my face?"

"Until I know what you want," he answers. He reaches up to finger her dogtag that's still hanging on his chest. "Do you want this back? Are we done? Just tell me."

"Wasn't yesterday enough of a clue?" she retorts.

"You not wanting me dead isn't the same as wanting me in your life," he answers calmly. "And frakking doesn't mean anything at all." Then as if she answered, even though she didn't speak or move, he starts to lift the cord over his head to give it back.

"No." Her hand goes over his, pressing into his chest, keeping the tag where it belongs, and quieting him. "Sam -- I -- " her tongue trips on the words until she finally blurts, "I want you to keep it. I promised I'd come back to you. And... and I'm back; I swear I'm back." Her eyes burn as she stares up at him, hoping he sees that she means it, every frakking word. And so much more that she can't say. Her horror yesterday has washed away her numbness, and she feels herself: focused and present and real.

His smile turns more genuine now, widening with relief, and when he kisses her it feels as though the sun just came out.

It doesn't last long.

The sound of footsteps crunching on the sand interrupt, and she turns to find Leoben hurrying toward them. "D'Anna's dead,"he reports, breathlessly. "She went down to the river and didn't come back. One of the Sixes found her body just now."

"Oh gods," Kara breathes and beside her, Sam swallows. Kara's stomach curdles in horror. It's not that she cares about the Three all that much, but it means the haters are getting bolder. She grabs Sam's hand again and holds it tight.

Leoben continues, more reluctantly, addressing Sam, "There's talk of retribution..."

"No," Sam shakes his head in decisive denial. "We can't. We let Roslin handle it."

"Then you should come back with me and persuade them," Leoben requests.

"And we three need to start carrying our sidearms," Kara says, and the two men look at her in surprise. She returns Sam's gaze. "Someone murdered D'Anna. I'm not letting them get to you without a fight."

"I don't want another Human/Cylon war," he says, wearily. "Can't we stop?"

"I'll stop if they do." But even though she states it boldly, she knows it isn't that simple, and D'Anna's death has made things worse.

One month later

It feels like New Caprica, after they were married and before it went wrong. Kara's humming as she returns to the tent with the ration for dinner. Food harvests are still iffy, though the Cylons have found a potato that seems to grow in the damp ground and resist the persist mold that damages the grain.

The sounds of shouting and cheering attract her attention, and she starts running. There's only one thing that could cause that kind of reaction.

There's a crowd gathered in the side street. It's at least a hundred deep as Kara shoves her way in. Inside the watching audience are a group of six attackers, and she identifies Kelly and Conner for sure, gathered around a crumpled figure.

"Filthy Cylon traitor," Conner snarls and kicks him. "Trying to starve us."

"You brought us here to die," Kelly says, and the crowd cheers as he bends down to lift his head by the hair so someone else can hit him in the face. There's blood on it, but she can still recognize that profile.

It's Sam.

"No!" she yells and she reaches Kelly as he lets Sam's head fall back into the dirt. She lets loose with a punch to Kelly's jaw before he knows she's there, and then a sweeping kick to Conner's feet so he falls. "Stop it! Back off! Leave him alone!" She crouches above Sam's body, sidearm up and safety off, glaring at them, daring them to fight her. "Get the frak back," she warns. "I will kill the next one to touch him, I swear." The crowd is watching her now and it occurs to her that someone else might have a sidearm, but nobody does. One of the others beating Sam is a former marine from Pegasus and he's looking at her as if he wants to attack her, too. But she gives him a bared-teeth grin and he doesn't make a move, even though if they all rushed her they could take her down. Coming back from the dead was paying a dividend, finally.

"Toaster frakker," Conner spits.

"Sam's a better man than you'll ever be, Conner," she retorts. "So shut your frakking mouth and get out of here, before I forget that he never raised a hand to any of you!" She says it, knowing it's true without seeing it. She lets her gaze run over the crowd and her voice gets louder, "He's never done anything but defend humans. To help us. To fight for us. He stopped the Cylons when they wanted vengeance for D'Anna's murder. He stopped them, and yet, here you are, cheering on these six thugs like it's a frakking pyramid game. Beating a man who refused to fight back."

The crowd's rage starts to dissipate. Some in the back start moving away, and others seem thoughtful or ashamed. But not everyone, and she readies herself to fight, because she doesn't have Sam's restraint, and the sight of him at her feet fills her with cold rage.

Finally, a commotion in the back means guards have arrived finally to start breaking it up. The attackers realize, too, and they start slinking away to blend with the crowd.

Kara wants to stop them, but Sam moans and she kneels down beside him, worried. "Hey," she murmurs and smooths his hair. "It's over, Sam." He gasps, breathing halting and pained, and struggles to turn over. She helps and then forces a reassuring smile as she gets a look at his face -- bloody from cuts and a split lips, dirty, and one cheek's swelling up. "You couldn't have ducked?" she teases and brushes her fingers on the back of his hand gently.

"Kara..." her name is barely audible as blood trickles out of the corner of his mouth and he coughs a little. His shaking fingers fumble at hers and she grips his hand.

"Shut up," she orders him, "don't speak. You're going to be fine; take it easy."

She thinks there's nothing wrong with him that a little bed rest won't fix, until she sees the blood soaking his clothes on the left side. "Oh gods," she whispers, finding the hilt of a long-bladed service knife on the ground. "Frak, no." She searches his clothes for the source frantically. "Sam, damn it, hold on," she whispers to him harshly, as his breaths turn gasping and beneath the mottling from the attacks, his skin turns pale.

"Get Cottle!" she shouts at the bystanders and the guards. She thinks she sees Leoben's face back there. "Get the doctor, right frakking now."

Her fingers find the wound. The hole between his ribs is pouring blood. She puts her hand over it tightly even though he twitches and gasps at the pain. "Sam, can you hear me? C'mon, baby, hold on, don't do this," she orders him desperately.

His eyes flutter open, pure and blue as a cloudless sky. He's not afraid, and she knows he expected this all along. "Make it mean something," he whispers, between uncertain breaths.

"No, don't you leave me." With her free hand she touches his face. "Please, Sammy, hold on. Doc's coming."

"... love you..." His eyes sink shut and she knows she's losing him - the pulse under her fingers is fluttering in shallow but desperate attempts to keep going, even as his breaths wheeze around the blood in his lung.

She bends close to kiss his cheek and his lips. "I love you," she tells him urgently, praying he still hears her. "Sam, I'm sorry I frakked it up, but it was always you. Please, hang on, please... You'll be fine if you hold on... please, hold on..." She repeats it in a prayer, over and over again.

A strong hand closes on her shoulder and she doesn't have to look to know it's Leoben kneeling at her side. "Kara, he's gone."

"No..." she whispers but it's hard to deny when his skin is ashen and the blood under her fingers is turning cold. She looks up at the silent audience, gathered around like vultures to watch him die. "You did this," she calls out to them, in a hard voice she can't recognize. "All of you. You did this. You murdered an innocent man, who's never hurt any of you. Isn't this enough blood?" she demands furiously and holds up her hands - there's blood from her fingertips to her elbows. "This blood's the same as yours. Is this enough so we can find peace?"

Kelly sinks to his knees across Sam's body, staring at it in shock. "I-- I'm sorry," he tells her. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean this..."

"Prove it," Kara snaps.

"I don't -- what do you--" he stammers bewildered and then sees Leoben holding out his hand across Sam's body. "I --"

"Make this mean something," Leoben tells him. "Please. Don't let him die for nothing."

Kelly hesitates, swallows, glances down at Sam's face, and then grips Leoben's hand. "This is enough blood."

Kara pulls at Sam's leaden arms, until she can hold him against her. He's not there anymore, and she knows it, but it doesn't matter. She holds what's left and she whispers to him, "I'll see you on the other side, I promise. It's green and beautiful and you can be happy there. Just please, wait for me, Sam. I'm coming."

One Year Later

There's a tree in the central square. It's a young oak sapling, slim but tall, and Kara likes to visit. Officially it's known as Reconciliation Park, but she calls it Sam's tree. The Cylons planted it where he died and its roots guard his ashes. She always feels his presence there.

"Hey, baby," she murmurs. It should feel stupid that she's talking to a tree, but she doesn't. She's alone, or she might as well be, as Leoben kneels and he prays to his Cylon God. They're the two who miss Sam the most, so she welcomes the company.

"I hoped you'd come back," she murmurs to Sam. "I came back, so you could, too." But that hasn't happened. No Sam Anders returning in a flashy new Viper or walking in from the water, or any other resurrection despite her prayers. He's stayed gone, and even though she knows why, it still hurts.

"He's waiting on the other side, Kara," Leoben reassures her. "For all of us."

"I know." She glances at him and smiles a little.

Leoben sees something in her expression and frowns. "Kara? what is it?"

"I wasn't supposed to stay this long," she explains. "Every day since Sam left, I've felt this place isn't ... real. I don't belong here. I understand that now." She turns to face the tree again and imagines wistfully that it could be Sam there instead. "This is Earth. Sam and I did what we came to do. We're done. So I want you to promise me something..."

He stares at her, in shock and dawning comprehension. "Of course. Anything."

She looks at the growing town, seeing with particular affection how Hera is playing with two human boys, all three of them shrieking with laughter in the dirt. "Tell them about us. What we sacrificed. Tell them we'll always be there, waiting on the other side, in the green and golden fields of Elysium. And tell them, we'll be watching. If they frak it up... well, I came back once, I can do it again."

"I ... will, Kara. I'll tell them, all of them."

She nods, grateful. "Thank you. And thank you for helping Sam, when I couldn't. Remember us."

She closes her eyes so she can't see Leoben's face, filled with awe.

She steps across the threshold to find the bright light and welcoming warmth of home.

Ten Years Later

The kids are playing tag in the shade beneath the sheltering branches of Sam's tree. Leoben watches, smiling. Some of them are half-Cylon and nobody cares.

Later, after dinner, he'll tell the stories. About the blood that spilled beneath this very tree to bring peace. And the blazing light of a messenger of God that brought everyone here. He'll tell the story of their love and sacrifice, and their history of death and love and rebirth, again and again.

He never tells the story of his own love, keeping that to himself. Perhaps someday he'll tell, but until then, he makes sure that the people, human and cylon and the mixes of both, remember.

It's not perfect, but finally, there's peace.

Crossposted from DW There are comment count unavailable comments over there. Feel free to comment wherever.
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Deborah: Kara painting by geekbynightdeborah_judge on August 28th, 2011 10:59 pm (UTC)
Oh, what a beautiful coda to your series. Sam finds a redemptive death that isn't at all supernatural and the three of them together find a way to make peace. Love Leoben's role as a storyteller, that's what he'd be good at. The ending is sad, but it also feels happy because they all accomplished what they needed to. Thank you for writing this.
lizardbeth: Leoben-Kara paint!sexlizardbeth_j on August 28th, 2011 11:54 pm (UTC)
you're quick-- I was still doing last second edits! :)

Thank you! I'm glad you liked it despite probably expecting something a bit more ... porny, given the original fic. :) And yeah, I was going for a sense of closure, that they're all doing/did something important both in life and in death. So sad, but resolved, too, so it's not tragic.
kag523 on August 29th, 2011 05:08 am (UTC)
She holds what's left and she whispers to him, "I'll see you on the other side, I promise. It's green and beautiful and you can be happy there. Just please, wait for me, Sam. I'm coming."

This struck me as so real and raw I cried and had to stop reading. Oh hon. This is such a lovely snapshot. I love the way you've broken it into time periods. It is so sad and gutting and yet so lovely.

I have to tell you, I had a lot of anger at the final season - with Sam's senseless shooting and then the whole "technology into the sun" and Kara's poof. This story makes me feel better about both of their deaths. Thank you for that. Just lovely. *hugs*
lizardbeth: Kara-Sam - watching overlizardbeth_j on August 29th, 2011 08:08 pm (UTC)
aww, thanks. *hands you tissues* (Though I can't take any credit for the time period thing, since that's a part of the meme!)

My hatred for the coma and especially hybrid!Sam is probably legendary by now (seriously, I wish he'd just died at the end of No Exit, I think I could've accepted that better instead of the utter waste and horror that was the rest of 4.5 for Sam), so yeah, I hear you. I suspect you have some idea of how much I wanted to change about 4.5 by the numbers of fics I have that stab at new and different ways of trying to work it out in my head!
cujoy on August 30th, 2011 12:39 am (UTC)
Oh, man. That summarizes my feelings about 4.5 exactly.

(And I'm sorry for not commenting earlier!)
cujoy on August 30th, 2011 01:01 am (UTC)
Whaaaaaa. My kids!

I think I would have more to say than that, but I think I'm more into the idea of fluffy, sexy-fun-times, non-tragic alt universes at this point. Another horrible fate for Sam? Whaaaaaaaa!

In my head, most 4.5 fixes now involve magical time travel and re-dos. (And sometimes multiple Sam clones doing naked Tai Chi ;) ::hangs head in shame::

I do however love the idea of the first Earth being not so bad that they can't settle there.
lizardbeth: Anders-Kara - distancelizardbeth_j on August 30th, 2011 02:38 am (UTC)
Aw, thanks for commenting! I knew it wasn't going to everyone's cuppa, I just didn't expect it to be practically no one's, y'know? makes it harder to work on long fics, esp when they're not especially fluffy or humorous either. :/

But anyway, thanks again. And I'm sure we can all agree that mulitiple Sams doing naked tai chi would, in fact, be very very nice. :)
cujoy on August 30th, 2011 03:01 am (UTC)
Nononononoooo. No discouragement here! Especially with Not All That We Are and Under A Shadowed Sky!!! <3<3<3
embolalia: Kara w/paintingembolalia on August 30th, 2011 02:15 am (UTC)
Oh, this is really lovely. Sam dying caught me totally off guard, and yet it totally fits. He did an excellent job speaking the truth to Kara, and he earned his Elysium. I loved how you used this to really create the arc of a story instead of just a series of epilogues. But poor Sam!
lizardbeth: Kara-Anders - dawnlizardbeth_j on August 30th, 2011 03:03 am (UTC)
I know. poor Sam (and Kara, too.) :( But someone had to pay the price and I think of Sam as the one who must've fallen the farthest in the public/fleet opinion, so unfortunately the biggest target.

Thank you!
Merry F: leoben maelstromivanolix on August 31st, 2011 01:18 am (UTC)
Guh, so angsty, but the love and remembrance makes it sweet in the end.
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on August 31st, 2011 10:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks! tried to make it end up worth it if they had to go, :(
entertaining in a disturbing way: Kara Sam WHAT IS THISlyssie on September 1st, 2011 02:54 am (UTC)


I'm trying to leave coherent feedback, but possibly failing as it's all a mixture of "NO, DEAD IS BAD" and "awwww, the other side" and "OH, EARTH, WHY SO FAIL."

Basically, I am sniffly.

however. so epic.
lizardbeth: Anders-Kara - distancelizardbeth_j on September 1st, 2011 03:43 am (UTC)
THIS IS ONLY THE SECOND TIME and he came back in Shadowed Sky so that doesn't even count! (now injure... um, I'll have to plead the fifth.cuz that's like ALL THE TIME lol) But actually that was one of the things that made me do it this way, was because he does skate so often in my fic. No resurrection, no gods, just dying, but not for nothing. :/

Epic is good. I'll take it. Thank you! :)
entertaining in a disturbing way: Kara Sam WHAT IS THISlyssie on September 1st, 2011 03:49 am (UTC)
The ANGST is why this tab sat open until I realized I should read things before leaving for the weekend (well, re-read so I could properly formulate feedback).