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26 December 2013 @ 02:40 pm
Hail of Shadows 4/many  

She was in her old apartment on Caprica. There was a giant mandala on the wall but the sight of it made her angry, she picked up buckets of wall paint and threw them at the mandala, until eggshell white covered the wall, her skin, her hair, everything.

Strong hands gripped her shoulders from behind and slipped down her arms. She leaned into the touch, back into a hard chest, letting her head tip back as the hands cupped her breasts, sliding in the paint in a caress until she was biting her lip, wanting more. She reached behind with both hands, her own hands slick with paint on his hips and down his thighs. He caressed down her stomach and between her legs as she bit her lip to keep back a moan.

Knowing fingers stroked her, while lips and teeth nipped at her neck and ear, bristles of beard scraping her shoulder. Her fingers tightened, as she shuddered, but that wasn't enough. She arched, pushing her hips back to feel he wanted her just as much, wanting more, wanting the feel of him in her, hard and fast. "Yes, c'mon," she let go to put her hands on the wall, covered in paint and it felt so perfect when he thrust inside her. "Yes, yes, that's what I need, c'mon, baby," she muttered and grunted as he frakked her, his hands on her hips to hold her steady.

Her head was swimming with the fumes, and everything felt suddenly far away as if she was flying, and yet she was still tethered to the ground by this feeling tightening in her lower belly.

She slammed her hips to meet him, "let me go," she chanted, "let me go, let me fly, damn you, do it--"

Then finally it snapped and she was free, to fly. And the winds lofted her, as the pleasure jolted through her like lightening. But then it turned, the winds betrayed her and she started to fall…

She reached out with both hands, trying to catch herself, but her fingers slipped on the paint. The winds tore at her, trying to pull her down. "No, no, I don't want - no - I can't - " she protested.

A warm body was still behind her and a familiar voice murmured in her ear, "There's nothing to fear on the other side, Kara."

She turned to confront him and opened her eyes to find she was in her rack. Sweaty and not at all satisfied, she pulled back the curtain, and sat up.

Hotdog looked down. "Starbuck, you okay?"

She glanced up at him, for a moment wondering if he'd go for it, but Brendan Costanza wasn't what she wanted. "Frak," she muttered. "I'm gonna take a shower."

She ended up not at the showers but at Joe's. It was quiet, and Conner gave her two shots without her needing to say anything. She lifted her brows at him and he shrugged, answering "You look like you could use them."

She drained both, hoping that was enough to wash the dream out of her memory, and was about to signal for a third, when she noticed someone come in the far hatch. Lee looked tired, his uniform jacket half-undone, and he joined her at the bar. "Hey,' he greeted her with a tired smile. "Aren't you supposed to be in your rack?"

She shrugged. "Couldn't sleep. You?"

"Haven't tried yet, writing up the schedule for the mining operation with the colonel." He slanted a glance at her as Conner set out shot glasses for them both. "You approved Oracle for flight status."

Shrugging again, she answered, "He flew fine. A little rough, but that'll fade with some more time in flight."

Lee opened his mouth as if he wanted to ask her something else, but since the last thing she wanted to talk about was Sam, and especially his Cylon girlfriend, she smiled, "Bet you need more time in flight, too. Gonna lose flight status, Apollo, if you don't practice handling your stick."

"I handle it just fine," he slammed back his shot.

She chortled, "That's what they all say, and then they get in the cockpit and suck."

"Anytime you want to throw down, I'm there," he retorted, trying to glare at her, but she saw the telltale glimmer of a smile.

"You wish." It was so easy to slip into taunting him, so easy to know how to push his buttons. And she had the feeling he was letting her anyway, knowing where this was going to go. She stood up, "Going back to the racks."

"I'll go with you."

They got exactly as far as the next empty supply room, where she dragged him in the hatch and shoved him against the bulkhead.

His mouth was hot and heavy on hers, d her hands threaded in his hair to keep him against her, grinding her hips against his hoping he'd get the message.

Then with a sharp breath, he pulled away. "What are you doing? No, Kara, stop. Not like this."

She tried to pull him back, "Okay, how do you want it then?" she slipped both hands down his back and pulled him by the hips tight against her. "Mmm, not totally disinterested, Apollo, c'mon, let's frak, you know you always wanted to."

She kissed him some more, biting his lip when he tried to pull back.

"Kara - " He jerked his head to the side. "What's this about?"

She slid her hands down his chest and the front of his pants. "If you have to ask…"

He grabbed her wrists. "No, you're drunk and I'm not going to cheat on Dee, just so you can punish Anders."

Stung by the unjust accusation, she jerked away and stepped back. "Well, frak you, then." At the hatch she looked back over her shoulder, "Why is it that you only remember Dualla five minutes later, Lee? You should think about that."

Then she slammed out of there, angry and still wanting something - someone - to get this itchy feeling off her skin.

At morning briefing, Sam followed Jean and Duck in, and took up seats in the front row.

Kara was already there, talking to Helo, and when she went to the podium, Hotdog called attention.

"Today is a big operation day. The Raptors will be doing sensor sweeps of the moons, looking for more useable deposits of ice or tylium ore. If you happen to stumble on something edible that's not algae, for frak's sake, report it asap."

"So say we all," more than a few pilots murmured fervently.

"Helo has your individual assignments." She went on, "Vipers will do CAP rotation as scheduled. Hotdog's squad will be flying escort for the Raptors. Duck, your squad will join me, escorting the Grantha into the planet for refueling."

Sam glanced at the board. He was with Duck's squadron, which was something of a relief, since Pike and Narcho were on Hotdog's and they'd already made their displeasure at his return plain.

Kara touched a control and the overhead lights dimmed. A projection appeared of the large gas giant with its multitude of moons appeared. "This planet's nothing but a storm, and a hard deck only five hundred klicks in, so watch yourselves."

The image focused in, only shades of grey, but he stiffened at the sight of the storm-tossed bands and planet-sized hurricanes -- he'd seen this before.

... a Viper in the midst of swirling gas, and the undeniable knowledge that he had to do this, and the Viper blew up with a burst of white...

His fingers went cold and numb, and he didn't hear another word Kara said. When she dismissed the pilots, he rose automatically, following Jean beside him.

The words of the messengers haunted his ears. "to clean yourself of sin. All living things must die. Because of who you are and what you did, you have to choose it..."

"Sam?" Barolay asked, nudging him, and he blinked with a start, tearing his gaze away from the image on the screen. "Hey, you okay?"

The other pilots were filing out, and he forced a smile. "I'm fine."

Knowing him well enough to know he wasn't 'fine' she frowned. But before she could speak, he gripped her shoulder. "I'll meet you in the locker room. I .. I have to go. Run an errand. I mean, go to the head." He wanted to kick himself for the babbling lies, which Jean saw through instantly. "I'll catch up with you."

Before he could blurt out the truth, he ducked out and hurried to the brig. He knew he shouldn't do this; if Thea figured it out, he'd be stuck. But he couldn't help it. It wasn't fair to leave without a word when this might be -- probably was -- the end.

He tugged at his dog tags. They were both his own again, and he knew what that meant. What he'd foreseen in the Temple was here, now. It was something of a relief, to face it at last. It had been hanging over his head 'in the future' but now it was here.

Thea glanced at the door, frowning as he came in. "Sam? Aren't you on duty?"

"I am," he answered. Looking into her eyes made the guilt well inside him -- she was here because of him. She could be with her people, not stuck in this cell. But she wasn't because she'd followed him.

He smiled at her, hoping the smile didn't look as sickly as he felt. "Wanted to see my favorite girls before we fly." Iris was asleep on the cot next to Thea, and he bent down to kiss her head and feather a finger across her soft cheek.

"She's perfect," he whispered. And he couldn't protect her anymore. "She'll follow Hera as the shape of things to come. The next generation. An age of peace."

"Sam?" Thea asked, worriedly. "Did you have a vision?"

"I have to go." He leaned into her to kiss her lips and cradled her beautiful face between his hands. "I'm sorry I brought you here, but I can never be sorry about Iris. She's our miracle."

She gripped his shoulders. "Sam, what are you saying? Why are you telling me this right now?"

"Sometimes we have a choice, and sometimes we don't, but I had a choice to love you. And I did."

She was shaking her head as he pulled back. "What's going on?"

He kissed her forehead so she couldn't see the lie in his eyes. "I don't know. Something's happening, and I couldn't let that stay unspoken. Not today."

Kissing the baby's cheek again, he pulled away from them both, blinking back the threatening heat. "I'll be back as soon as I can," he said. Then, trailing his fingers for one last touch of Iris' tiny foot, he escaped the cell.

He made it out of the brig before he slumped into the bulkhead, forehead against his arm, taking ragged breaths.

I'm one of the Five. I'm a Cylon. I leave death in my wake, everywhere I go -- from Kobol to the Colonies. That's the sin I carry, the dark stain I have to pay for. So I have to leave them behind. But when I do this, please, God, and Lords of Kobol, I ask in exchange that you protect Thea and Iris. Give me that much at least, that my baby girl will live to see Earth.

Though he didn't receive any answer, he lifted his head and wiped his eyes and nose with the back of his hand. Taking a deep breath, he pushed away from the wall. He felt centered and calm. Whatever would happen, would happen.

It was time to take Leoben's advice and stop fighting the stream. He was nothing but a leaf; it was time to let the currents take him where they will.

In the Viper, Sam looked at the gas giant as it grew bigger and bigger, filling his canopy until it was all he could see, bands of storms circling the planet, fierce winds that would tear any ship apart.

His hands tightened on the sticks, wondering how he would know. Maybe he was already supposed to know enough and he should just… do it.

His chest felt as if icy bands were clamping his ribs and he couldn't quite draw breath. He saw Iris' little face and her big blue eyes in his memory and felt nauseous. He couldn't do this. He couldn't leave her.

But what else was there? Was there a choice? He'd seen the Viper in the storm, he knew it would happen. He knew it meant death. If he avoided it, what worse fate would fall?

Maybe he would resurrect. He'd seen a resurrection tub on the baseship. It had looked… strange… but as far as alternatives went, waking up in a bathtub of what looked like milk was better than not waking up at all.

But the messenger who looked like Kara had said he had to accept his fate. If he had to die, then so be it. It had been a miracle that his Raider had come to him, like Cerberus in the depth of hell, to save him in the first place. Time to repay that miracle.

He swallowed and clicked the wireless to lie: "Starbuck, Oracle. I'm getting a strange ghost on sensors at 134 carom 38. Going to check it out." Before he'd finished he turned the ship and headed into the planet.

"With you, Oracle." She answered and turned to join him.

"Negative," he told her. "It's probably nothing."

"Probably. But just in case. Dradis is squat in this soup anyway."

She followed him. Crap, he shouldn't have said anything. He kicked in the turbos, rocketing away from her Viper and heading into the top level of the atmosphere. Immediately he had to tighten his hand on the controls as the ship was buffeted by the winds.

"Oracle, what the hell?"

Deeper. He had to go deeper and lose her.

"I see it," he lied. "I see it."

"What do you see?" Kara demanded. "Oracle, report."

And somehow, she was there, on his wing, so close he could see her helmet. He hadn't shaken her from his tail at all.

"Kara, go back," he ordered and he angled the ship down again, deeper, and the gravity strengthened, pulling him down. The warning for approaching hard deck was shrill in his ears, louder than even the sound of the ship in the wind.

"What the frak are you doing? Oracle, pull up! There's nothing here!"

"No. You're wrong. There's a storm here," he answered. "It's a storm I've seen before."

And he reached out and flicked off the main engines. He took his hands of the stick, letting the wind sweep him into the current, pulling him into the swirl and downward.

Her voice edging into worry and anger, she yelled at him, "Oracle, restart! Sam, what the hell are you doing? Are you crazy?"

"I lied, Kara," he admitted. "I saw this in the Temple of Five; I always knew what it meant. I'm sorry."

"What? No, no, you're not doing this, I won't let you," she said frantically, and maneuvered closer to him, pushing her way through the grip of the storm by sheer dogged determination. "You can't give up."

"Actually, I have to," he answered. "That's… kind of the point, I think." There was a horrific screech of metal and the ship shuddered. The display informed him he was losing one of his engines -- it was getting torn off. "Go, Kara. You have to get out of here."

"No, I won't let this happen, Sam, I won't," she insisted and maneuvered closer to him. "You know the future's not fixed. You can change it."

"Not this time."

"You can't do --" she interrupted herself with a cry of surprise. "Frak!"

That stirred him from his determination with sudden concern. "Kara!"

"You lost your port engine, and it hit my bird," she reported.

"Are you okay? Where are you?" He looked around for her wildly, finding her beneath him, very close. Suddenly his ship bumped as she hit it. "What the frak?" he demanded, hands flying to the stick. She was trying to forcibly lift his ship upward. "Kara, stop it! You can't fight it!"

"Yes, I can," she answered through gritted teeth. "See, the thing is, that's what I do. And I won't let that little girl grow up without a father, just because you're desperate to martyr yourself."

"That's not what--" He could feel the ship shaking, locked together as she shoved his Viper away from the hard deck. "You can't do this, Kara, you'll kill us both! Stop it!"

"I am doing it, so shut up," she ordered. His left hand went to the restart button, so he could pull the Viper away. She said, over the crackling wireless, "And don't even think about restarting, because that's right in my face and my canopy's cracked."

"Damn it, Kara!"

"I didn't save you from the toasters, but by the gods, I will not let you die here."


Then with a last bump, her Viper shoved his upward again, so he saw stars above and swirling gases below. A minute brush of the stick and the Viper twirled to see Kara's framed by a swirling of gases, colors, and lightning.

Exactly as he had seen it before.

She murmured in a dreamy, lost voice, "Mama, is that you?"

"Kara!" he shouted. "You have to pull up!"

"I see it now. This is what he was talking about," she said and her voice was strangely calm. "This isn't for you, Sam. It's mine. It's always been mine."

Her ship was getting smaller, pulled down and sucked in until he couldn't see it anymore. He punched at the controls to restart the main thrusters, but nothing happened. "No, Kara--"

"You aren't the only one with a destiny, you know," she answered. "I understand that now."

He punched at the restart again, frantically, and the engines sputtered back to life. "Come on, come on, don't do this-- You don't understand, Kara, this isn't what you think -- "

The mists parted for a moment to see her Viper, far away but gleaming brightly as if it were a distant sun itself.

"I'll see you on the other side, Sam. I'm not afraid anymore."

There was a flash of brilliant white light and then an expanding cloud of debris and fire.

For a moment he stared, shock filling him then yelled, "No! No! Kara!"

And he pointed his ship to go down with her.

Light flashed, blinding, and for a moment he thought his ship had exploded, too. But he was standing in the Hybrid's chamber, facing her. She was sitting there, long dark hair down her back wearing her blue dress, and dangling her feet in the empty tub.

She looked straight at him and repeated words she'd told him before: "Do not follow her."

"I have to - I have to open the way - don't I?"

Her voice hardened in dire warning. "This is not your path. You have lost the path and if you follow her, all your children will be lost in the dark."

Light filled his vision again.

He blinked and was back in the Viper. Looking down, he let out a frustrated scream of rage and anguish, but pulled back on the stick to climb, and he left her behind.

"She's dead because of you!" Lee exclaimed, advancing on Sam. "You made her come rescue your crazy ass and now she's gone. You son of a bitch, you're not worth it!"

He swung and Sam closed his eyes. The blow fell on his cheek and side of his head, snapping his head back as his face exploded into pain. He staggered into the bulkhead.

But the pain started to fade, and it wasn't enough. He shook his head once and taunted, "That all you got, Adama? And here I thought you cared."

"Shut up, you toaster frakker, it should've been you!" His fist buried in Sam's stomach and the other hit him in the face again. "It should've been you!"

Sam didn't raise a hand to defend himself. Coughing, he bent to catch his breath, but he managed to look up and say, with blood in his mouth, "Yeah, it was never you, was it?"

Lee's blue eyes went incandescent with rage and he lifted a fist to hit Sam again.

"Lee! No!" Dee shouted from down the corridor and rushed toward them. Lee froze, jaw clenching as he glared at Sam. She grabbed his wrist. "Stop it!"

Suddenly the ship seemed to tilt beneath him and he fell against the bulkhead, dizzy. "You're right," he told Lee hoarsely. "It should've been me." He sagged to the floor, feeling the blood trickle from his lip, his face felt on fire, and his stomach ached. But none of it mattered.

He rested his head against the cold steel of the bulkhead and shut his eyes. Hopefully this would be a nightmare and he would wake up.

"Dee, take Apollo out of here," Barolay's familiar voice snapped. Then more softly from beside him, "Oh for frak's sake," she murmured. "Were you really going to stand there and let him beat you?"

"It's my fault," he whispered. "She saved me. She wasn't supposed to save me."

"You're both so gods-damned reckless," Jean said and her voice caught. "Come on, get up."

Sam opened his eyes and seized her shoulder. "I can't do it myself, but you can, Jean. You can fix this. All I have to do is surrender and you can kill me, it'll all be over..."

Her hand slapped over his mouth, stopping his words, and she shook her head, distressed. "No. I'm not doing anything of the kind. And neither are you," she ordered him firmly. "Kara wouldn't want that, Sam."

The pain welled up at that, sharper than any pain of his injuries and he caught his breath. "Oh god, I killed her. Kara's dead and I loved her and I killed her."

Jean's arm went around him and pulled him into her body. "Hush," she murmured into his hair. "It was just an accident, just a tragic terrible accident. It's not your fault."

But the words were no comfort, and Sam didn't think there ever would be.

When he went in to Thea's cell, he found Leoben in there, too. Thea was holding Iris, and the look in her eyes was cold and angry.

"You knew," she spat furiously. "You were leaving us."

The accusation hit him, sharp because it was true. "I had to," he answered. "It was supposed to be me."

"No," Leoben denied firmly. "It was never you. It was always Kara."

He shook his head. "That's can't be. I saw the Viper in the storm -- I --" His stomach sank like a cold stone, getting harder and colder as it fell. "Oh God. I saw her on Earth. It was Earth, she was supposed to lead us to Earth, and I ruined it."

"Sam, come here," Thea urged him, now soft and understanding.

"No," he shook his head and backed away, into the shut door. "I killed Cally and Nicky. I killed Kara." And the truth hit him as he hadn't really understood before. "I kill whole worlds," he whispered, remembering the war-shattered city of Kobol. "Because of me."

Leoben caught him under the arms as his knees folded and brought him to the cot.

"You are a miracle of God," Leoben told him without evasion or doubt. "This was all meant to be. Kara followed her destiny."

"To die in a storm on a planet that doesn't even get a name?" Sam demanded in sudden fury. "She was there because of me. Her destiny was Earth --"

"No," Leoben insisted. "She saw those circles as a child, long before she met you. This was meant to be, and you could not take it from her."

"But why?" Sam asked, imploring him to make it all make sense.

Leoben's hand gripped his shoulder. "You, of all people, understand death isn't the end of anything, Sam."

And he wanted to believe it so badly... wanted to believe Kara wasn't really gone... But while he knew there was rebirth in the next circle, that wasn't enough. That didn't take away the loss.

"Here, hold her." Thea put Iris in his arms and he took her automatically, her tiny weight feeling like a feather across his palms. "She needs you, Sam. She needs you to be strong and to go on. I can't protect her alone."

He lifted Iris up and the baby waved her fists in futile baby punches. Her bright eyes looked into his, filled with an innocent joy, unaware of anything besides her daddy come to visit.

Kara was dead, but she had died for this. He had to make sure it wasn't for nothing.

He put his lips on her soft baby hair and let the tears fall.

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