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11 December 2013 @ 02:17 pm
BSG Fic: Black Sails at Dawn 2/?  
Not All that We Are IV: Black Sails at Dawn

go back to Part 1

Kara knew inside the dream that she was dreaming. She even remembered the place-- it was that strangely real plush concert hall where she'd been chasing Hera around, months ago. But despite knowing it was a dream, she didn't wake up.

Her feet were bare on the soft carpet with its tiny circle pattern as she headed down the empty corridor toward the tall wooden doors. She pulled on the handles, but they might as well have been concrete because they didn't budge.

"It's not time yet," Sam's voice murmured behind her. She turned to see "Sam" there. He was wearing Sam's C-Bucs home court uniform, and the jersey was glossy and black, like new. The last time she'd seen it in the real world, Sam had cut off the frayed sleeves and the thing had faded to dull gray.

It pissed her off. "You're not Sam. You don't get to wear his stuff. It's not yours."

He smiled faintly and lifted his brows in amusement. "You want me to change? You seemed more comfortable with a familiar face."

"I thought you were him; but you're not." She shuddered. "You ... you pretended you were him. We..." she remembered all those dreams and things she'd done in the dreams, and she insisted, "It wasn't real."

His smile widened. "Reality is such a limiting concept," he chided. "And you were connected by more than you believe. But... very well, if you insist."

Then he disappeared. She stepped forward, hand extended, as if she could feel him and he'd merely turned invisible. But there was nothing there.

"Here," another voice said behind her, and she whirled to see Leoben.

Or, she supposed, looking at him, no more Leoben than the previous face had truly been Sam. This one seemed more peaceful... knowledgeable in his deep eyes. He was also a better dresser than the Leoben she'd met, wearing dress pants and a sportcoat, as if he'd just come from a university lecture, not a thrift store.

"Better?" he asked, gesturing to himself. "I wore this face a long time ago," he mused.

She frowned. "You look like Leoben."

His smile widened enigmatically. "I do. Curious, isn't it?"

That was no kind of answer, and she knew she wasn't getting one out of him either. She folded her arms. "What do you want?"

He hesitated, and the amusement dropped away from his face. "Time is growing short, Kara. Events are in motion that will determine the fate of... everyone. You need to be ready."

"Ready for what? Because I have a destiny? More of that bullshit?" she challenged. "No double talk, no hints -- tell me what this is about."

"Destiny doesn't mean you don't have a choice," he explained slowly. "It means you have a path. But you still must choose to walk it. Your mother -- "

"Don't you talk about her. She believed it," Kara snapped. "She told me that again and again. It was her excuse."

"It was her reason. She wasn't wrong, Kara. You do have a destiny. You always have. But she's a good example of why knowing too much is dangerous. She taught you the wrong lessons. You've begun to unlearn them, but --" His hand fell lightly on her shoulder, but she jerked away.

She stared at the wooden doors. "If you're not going to say anything useful, I'm going to wake up now."

He hesitated. "I need your help," he admitted eventually.

That was a surprise. She turned partway back around to see he was watching her. "Oh?"

"Sam needs to fly again. William refuses to hear me, but he'll listen to you."

She narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously, remembering the last time she'd seen this face and what he'd told her in the brig. "Why? Why does Sam have to fly again?"

"Because it's his path. But until it opens again, he can't choose to walk it."

"That's not good enough," she retorted. "See, the thing is, I know he's seen something awful. So telling me it's his destiny," she snarled, starting to really hate the word, "just makes me want to say no."

False Leoben didn't exactly refute the implication, challenging instead, "Would you clip a bird's wings to keep it safe, Kara? Would you be like the Cylons and keep Sam in a cage? His soul is akin to yours and it suffers in confinement. He will never see his path locked inside the dead skin of this ship, with a metal embrace tethering him to skin and bone and flesh. And neither will you." His eyes met hers, kind but rueful, and he sighed softly, "Death is the birthright of the living. It is not the end; it's only a gateway to the other side. You should have no fear of it."

"But --"

His finger went across her lips, silencing her. "There is little time, and no destiny is fixed. We must act to preserve the ones who live and restore what should be, before it's too late."

The Admiral was in his quarters after she got off duty, when she went to see him.


"Sir," she greeted and tucked her hands behind her. "I won't take up much of your time, but I have a request. I'd like you to consider restoring Lieutenant Anders to flight status."

Surprised, he glanced up, the lights glinting in his glasses, then he waved to the chair opposite his small table. "Sit down. Why would you ask that?"

Of course, the real answer was that a being in her dreams told her to, but luckily she had some true reasons she could give. She seated herself and answered, "Because he's still one of our better pilots, sir. He didn't get a lot of experience before he was taken, but he has a lot of talent. With Kat's death, we need all of the good pilots we can get. And it makes more sense to use his skill than forcing him to sit around and do nothing."

He didn't answer right away, sipping his drink from the mug. "I'm concerned he might be too sympathetic to the enemy."

She shook her head. "No, sir, I don't think so. Of course he likes the two who came with him, but if the others attack, he'll defend us. I saw what he was willing to do -- how fiercely he tried to protect his people on Caprica. I can only imagine what he'll do to protect his own kid."

He nodded, but still didn't seem particularly convinced. "But will he obey orders? He seems sure he's the tool of some higher authority, and a man who believes he can do whatever he wants is a poor soldier."

She leaned forward. "Admiral, he's not much of a soldier; he never has been. That's not going to change. But he's a team player, and if we get him back on the team, he'll play for us." She shrugged "I can't say he won't get a vision that'll lead him into something crazy, but maybe that's what we need. In the meantime, I'd like him to fly on my wing."

"Even after what he did?" Adama asked, gaze intent on her.

She returned his look steadily and admitted, "Rescuing him didn't happen like I expected, or how I wanted. But I still think we need him in flight."

He nodded slowly. "If you're sure this is what you want, Starbuck."

"I am, Admiral."

"Very well. Request granted. We'll see how he does."

She thanked him and when she was dismissed, went to find Sam to tell him the good news.

She checked the brig, and Sam was nowhere to be found. The guards said Thea was asleep, and Sam had taken the baby. Thinking he might be at the pyramid court to get an early start on the baby's skills, she went there. She found Hillard instead. The former C-Bucs player was throwing at the backstop on his own, trying to work out the stiffness from his previous injury. "Hey, you seen Sam?" she asked.

"Thrace," he greeted and hurled the ball at her. She caught it. "Yeah, he's sacked out in our bunkroom."

"Good, thanks." She threw the ball into the goal, smirking when it went in. "I'll have to kick your ass another time." But on the way to the door, she turned back. "You let him stay with you? You got shot by toasters on that planet because of him."

"It should've killed me," Hillard told her. "Toasters could've killed us all. But they didn't because he told them not to."

"And that doesn't freak you the hell out?"

"Nah. I'm not surprised he got a couple of them on his side." Hillard shrugged and bent to retrieve the ball from the catcher. "I've known T a long damn time. He's hooked into something I don't get, but I trust him with my life. If he says she's okay, that she helped him, then she did. I'm just frakking glad he's alive. And if he had to spawn with one of 'em - better they're here and not there, right?" Then he seemed to realize what he was saying and who he was saying it to, and shifted in discomfort, looking down at the ball in his hands. "But, y'know, I'm sorry it didn't work out with you two. Cylons frakked that up pretty good."

"Yeah, they sure did," she agreed heavily, and left.

Now that Barolay was a pilot, there were only a few of the old Caprica resistance left, and they'd taken over a small storeroom near the starboard pod. She knocked on the hatch and went in.

It was empty, except for Sam. He was seated on a bedroll, slumping against the wall as if he'd been dozing. He had a small blanket-wrapped bundle on his chest, and his hand looked especially large resting on it.

His eyes were open though, and he looked tense until he saw who it was. Then he straightened, looking more surprised. "Kara?"

"So this is where you sleep?" she asked, coming inside, looking around. There were some other blankets on the floor, and a few belongings she recognized from his stuff before he'd gone MIA. He must have recovered some of it. "And that must be Iris."

His expression softened as he glanced down, finger stroking the top of the head peeking above the blanket. "She's sleeping. Thea was exhausted, so I said I'd watch her for a while." He gave a little shrug. "Not like I've got much else to do."

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about, actually." She came a little closer. "I spoke to the admiral. He said he's willing to restore your flight status. You can fly again."

His finger froze in its soft stroking of the baby's head and his expression went utterly still and unreadable. "Oh."

She regarded him incredulously. "That's it? Your enthusiasm is overwhelming me here, Sam. Don't you want to? Or -- " She remembered what Adama had said and wondered if he was more right than she had believed. She moved closer, trying to step between the bedrolls. "Do you not want to fight Cylons anymore?"

That got his attention. "No. That's not it. If they attack us, I'll defend Iris. No matter who it is," he declared. Now that she was closer, she saw the sidearm hidden in the blanket beside him, where his left hand had been resting when she came in. He probably shouldn't have one, but after what had happened to Boomer and Hera, she couldn't blame him for worrying.

"Then what?" she demanded. "I thought you'd jump at the chance."

"It's -- " he glanced down to Iris again and took a moment to answer. "It's a surprise, that's all."

But that was plainly a lie, and she began to get a very cold feeling in her abdomen. "Sam... have you seen something happen in a Viper?"

There was no question the answer was yes, as he swallowed and his jaw tightened. He admitted, after a moment, "When I was in the Temple, I saw.... a lot of things."

"What did you see?" she asked. "Did you see someone die?" Then the truth hit her like a slap in the face and she took another convulsive step forward. "Oh gods, it's you, isn't it? That bastard, and his frakking 'keeping you in a cage'. He knew all along!" she spat furiously.

His eyes snapped up to meet hers. "What are you talking about?" he asked, with apparently honest confusion.

She took a deep breath, calming down. But she certainly wasn't going to tell him about the apparition in her dreams who had first taken Sam's own face and now was taking Leoben's - that sounded crazy even in her own head. "Leoben told me.. . you saw your own death," she explained.

"Leoben told you I -- How does he know about--? Oh, that." He seemed oddly relieved, as if he'd expected something else. The baby kicked, shifting in her sleep, managing to get one tiny foot free of the blanket. Sam waited until she was still again and covered the foot up, before he answered, "I -- I told him I had a vision of dying, but it happened a long time ago, when the Temple was built. I lived a memory of someone getting killed. Murdered. It felt like it was happening to me."

He rubbed his cheek on Iris' head, closing his eyes, as if trying to erase the images from his mind.

"Oh gods, that's awful." But it was also a relief to find out her suspicion wasn't true, after all. "At least it's not your future. So, are you gonna take up the offer and come back to piloting?"

He moved Iris to lay on his lap, so he could straighten his back, stretching as if he'd been slouching against the wall for too long. That gave Kara her first view of the baby's face. She was still tiny and sort of squashed-looking, with a fuzz of light hair and pale skin. But Sam saw her as beautiful -- he looked down at her with a gentle smile and brushed her cheek tenderly. Her head turned, reflexively seeking the touch, and he gave her the tip of his little finger to suck on.

"I'll come back," he answered, quietly. "I have to. She's a miracle. And I have to do everything I can to protect her and make things right for her."

Watching him, she remembered her own father, and how she'd felt loved when they'd sat side-by-side on the piano bench while he taught her to play. But he'd abandoned her to a mother who didn't love her. After, she'd dreamed that he'd come back for her and take her away, until she realized he was never coming back. She'd tried to shove the memories away, into a box to forget about them, but now, watching Sam, she couldn't help remembering the times her father had hugged her and read her bedtime stories. He'd loved her, but not enough to stay.

Something glinted in the light, and she realized it was her tag hanging at Sam's chest. He was still wearing it, even though Iris was right there. She remembered what Leoben had said -- "if you asked, he would cut them all for you." But she didn't want to ask him to cut his ties to his family; she didn't want to be the reason another father abandoned his daughter.

Feeling for the chain around her own neck, she lifted it off. "Then, if you're joining up again, you need your tags back." He glanced up, lips parting in shock. He looked as if she'd kicked him in the chest. She went on, determined to get through this. "I've been keeping them for you, since you sent that one with Bulldog to me. I didn't want to give them back," she admitted, but then looked at Iris. "But I guess I should."

Sam didn't move to take his back, instead reaching up to clasp the tag still on his neck. His gaze went distant, staring into the past. "This got me through those weeks in that box. When Cavil took it from me, I ... I couldn't hold on. I started to hallucinate, living on imaginary boats that felt more real than where I was. I saw you, even though you weren't there." She listened to him, horrified, but for the first time understanding the true depth of his captivity and why he'd latched onto Thea afterward.

He continued, after a moment, "When I finally got the tags back, and I sent mine with Bulldog, this was the only thing I had left from before. I knew I'd have to give it up, and on that day the old Sam Anders would... be gone."

He swallowed but lifted her tag from around his neck and held it out. She hesitated, feeling this was wrong -- this wasn't how things were supposed to be. She still loved him, and she could see how much he still loved her. She remembered her dreams of him, and the implicit promise in them that they would be together again.

But there was a tiny baby between them, and she wasn't going away. The baby's mother wasn't going away, no matter how much Kara might wish it. And Kara refused to be the one to destroy that family, not when she knew exactly how much it hurt to be the child whose father walked away.

Their fingers met, around the tags, and Sam tightened his grip, keeping her there. "Kara, I --"

She could see the words he was going to say shining in his eyes, and she shook her head, biting her lip, to make him shut up. "Don't," she whispered. "Don't say it."

She pulled her tag free from his fingers, left the chain with his two on the blanket and got to her feet. Without looking at him, she said, "Pilot briefing at 0800 tomorrow. Be there, Oracle."

He didn't speak as she left, letting her go.


Crossposted from DW There are comment count unavailable comments over there. Feel free to comment wherever.