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03 January 2014 @ 04:27 pm
Black Sails at Dawn, Chapter Six  

Kara watched Sam sleep, marveling how he'd sprawled across the bed, clearly unused to sharing it with anyone.

"At least you're mine here," she murmured and let her hand hover above him, not quite touching.

"Not for long," a sudden voice warned, and she flinched with surprise, flipping over to see Leoben in the corner by the door.

"Get the hell out," she hissed.

He didn't go. "You're not here for this."

She got out of bed and stalked naked past him into the bathroom, knowing he would follow. After the door shut, she folded her arms and glared at him. "Since you're not telling me what I am here for, seems to me I get to decide. And if I want to frak Sam, and he wants to frak me, I don't see what business it is of yours. Especially since I'm dead. And by the way, staring at naked people sleeping is really creepy and not helping your case."

He pointed out dryly, "You were staring at him."

"Not the same thing. So why don't you move along to wherever you go and leave us alone?" she demanded.

"You need to do what you came here to do."

"Which is?" she demanded.

"Only you know that."

She let out an aggravated groan. "You don't know, do you? You come in here to bitch at me and you don't even know." She turned away to splash water on her face. "Gods, what a pain in the ass."

"You traveled a very long way to come here, Kara. That is not without a greater purpose."

She patted her face dry and looked at herself and 'Leoben' standing behind her in the reflection. Odd to realize she could walk through this wall if she wanted and yet she also had a reflection. "Maybe I already did my greater purpose. I died, and I kept Sam from dying." She gripped the sink with both hands, remembering. "He was going to do it-- he was throwing himself in. But I knew that was wrong. That it was ... supposed to be... me..." Her words trailed to a stop, realizing he was right. "Shit. I haven't done it yet, have I?"

She could see him smiling over her shoulder. He didn't say anything because he didn't have to.

"Well, he's already sabotaging the AI project, so he doesn't need me to stop that. Otherwise, he plays guitar and goes to peace rallies." She shook her head and shrugged. "Doesn't seem like he needs anything from me."

"He specializes in complex programs, but Centurion intelligence is not the only application."

She snorted but took the hint. "I still can't believe my Sam has any science expertise whatsoever. But okay I'll look into it. Now go away and stop spying on us."

He nodded and vanished. Kara moved through the bathroom door, disdaining opening it if she didn't have to, only realizing she should have when she looked at the bed and found Sam awake and watching her.

He shut his eyes and opened them again, as if he thought he was dreaming. "Kara? Did you... just... "

She smiled. "Did I wake you? Sorry. Needed some water."

"But you... you…" he struggled to articulate what he'd seen, and she felt a little sorry for him. He wasn't going to ask her whether she'd just walked through the bathroom door, because it was clearly ridiculous and impossible. Even though he had seen it. He shook his head once and rubbed his eyes. "Never mind."

She slid into bed and passed a hand up the outside of his leg and hip. "Since you're awake..." she suggested playfully and nudged her thigh between his.

"I have to go to work tomorrow," he murmured, but not even his mouth was paying attention to his words, meeting hers then sucking playfully at her neck while his hand slipped down between them.

He was too sleepy to be as vigorous as she usually liked, but there was something peaceful about the slow steady way he rocked into her, and the lazy way he kissed her face with his eyes shut that was especially appealing.

When they both shuddered into easy climax, he wrapped his arm across her securely and kissed her hair.

"You feel so good," He murmured. "There's this electric feeling like our nerves are exchanging information. It's...exhilarating and I've never felt it before with anyone. Like you make my life make sense," he murmured. Then he laughed at himself softly. "I forgot you were a bar hookup. I must still be really drunk. Sorry."

She waited until he was breathing heavily in sleep and she drew her finger in a pattern on his arm. "We fit together."

Remembering what Leoben had said about Sam's work, she went back while Sam was there, waiting invisibly while he argued with Colonel Tigh. He was not exactly the colonel, as this one seemed a bit younger and was definitely not military, but it was him. At first she found his presence so strange she didn't even listen to what they were actually talking about -- amused when Tigh snapped in the same irritated grumpy tone she'd heard many times in the past several years and slammed his way out of the office.

Thinking he was alone, Sam made a face at the door and repeated, "'Data compression rate is too slow...' Yeah, and tell me something I don't know, Professor."

She waited until he rounded his desk to pick up a computer tablet from the wall credenza behind his desk. She asked, "Bad day at the office?"

He whirled around, startled, the computer tablet sliding out of his hand to the desk top. "My gods, how the frak did you get in here?" he demanded, glancing behind her to the door in a near panic. "This is a secure facility, how do you have clearance?" Then his eyes widened and his face fell in realization and betrayal. He took a step back from her, ending up against the credenza behind him. "Shit, you are ISA, aren't you?"

She smiled and shook her head. "I'm not ISA, Sam. It's okay."

"'Okay'?! if you're not ISA, then how the frak are you here?"

She bit her lip, as it came home that she just frakked it up. "Damn it, I played this badly. Now I'm going to have to tell you, and it's so frakking crazy...."

She trailed off, as there was a perfunctory knock on the door before it opened, and Tory poked her head in. "Talking to yourself again? Well, I don't blame you, since I heard Saul from the lab. What the frak did you say to him?" she asked, with a chuckle. "He's pissed."

"I -- " he started, eyes darting to Kara and then to Tory, who didn't react to Kara's presence at all. "Do you see anything strange in this room?" he asked her.

Tory laughed. "I see you looking like you finally figured out that provoking the boss' husband and our work partner isn't your best tactic."

That distracted him from the mystery of Kara. "I'm not provoking him!" he exclaimed, irritated. "He wants me to increase the data compression rate, but I've pushed the current algorithm as far as I can, and I can't just pull another out of thin air. It's ridiculous."'

"If it's going to work, the transfer has to be nearly instantaneous. Too long and physical death will halt the process."

"Too short and it'll be full of errors and there's no point in that," he retorted. "But it's not like I have to hurry, since it's not going to matter until the rest of you can figure out how to download. Which is what I told him."

Kara listened and with his words, understood what Leoben had meant about other applications for Sam's expertise. He wasn't only working on AI; a process relating to death and download meant resurrection. They were creating resurrection.

Tory shook her head. "Nice. Speaking of, I could use your help in the lab. There's something wonky in the growing chambers cycle program."

"Wonky? glad we have technical terms," he joked then waved a hand. "Be there soon."

Tory shut the door again, and Sam's eyes fell on Kara. For a moment he didn't speak, throat working, and then licked his lips once. "Tory didn't see you."

"No," Kara answered. "No one can see me, except you."

"I'm imagining you? But I... touched you, we frakked," he said, shaking his head in confusion. "How is that possible? Was that all in my head? Are you real?

"I'm real," she reassured him. "But I'm only here for you."

"Why? What are you?"

"I ... well, that's a good question, actually," she admitted. "I ... died. Or at least I think I did, I was in my bird and caught in a storm, and then I woke up in a field. I can walk through walls, and no one but you can see me."

He collapsed into his extra chair, staring at her and shaking his head slowly in astonishment. "I'm frakked in the head," he murmured to himself. "They always warned me direct contact with the data stream might cause brain damage..."

"You may have brain damage," she teased, "But it's not causing me." Sidling around his desk, she put both hands on his knees and leaned down. "I'm real."

"Prove it."

She kissed him, fingers sliding up his thighs with very obvious intent. "You can feel this, can't you?" she whispered against his lips, feeling his muscles jump under her fingers. "You can feel me."

"In my head," he retorted. He clasped her waist, sliding down to tug her hips nearer.

"You're touching my ass like it's real."

"Feels real, but isn't that what madness is?" he returned. "Fantasy that seems real?"

"Always so stubborn, aren't you?" She straddled his legs, her hips teasing him, as her hands clutched at his shoulders as he sucked at her earlobe and down her neck. "I'm real, Sam. I promise. The gods sent me to you for a reason, and I think it may have something to do with resurrection..."

He abruptly pulled back. "Resurrection?" he repeated curiously. "Why does that have anything to do with you?"

"Don't do it," she advised. "It leads... it leads to horrible ends, Sam."

"Horrible? No, no," he shook his head, "You don't understand what it's for. We can save people. We know it's possible - we used to be able to do it, but we lost it along the way."

"Good, let it stay lost."

His hands pushed at her hips, shoving her off his lap, as his face darkened. "You wouldn't say that if you'd seen the horror of this war --"

"You wouldn't say that if you'd seen the horror of a war with machines that don't die!" she returned.

"Machines?" he repeated in blank confusion and corrected her. "Resurrection's not for the Centurions. It's for people."

That was a surprise. "For people? Really? I don't think that's a good idea anyway -- " she started, recalling what that Other Leoben had said about death.

His lips curved bitterly. "Then you've never lost anyone you loved. Or you wouldn't say that."

"I've lost people." Her hand rose to her tags and the ring that hung there still.

"Then wouldn't you want them to come back?" he asked. "Why should we lose them, when they don't have to be lost?"

At first she had no answer. If Zak had resurrected to a new body... it was hard to think about now, since resurrection was only for toasters, but what if it applied to everyone? What if humans could return in a new body? Assuming he didn't return weirdly different, of course, she would've wanted him back if it had been possible.

Sam's reason and grief seemed personal, too. "Who did you lose?" she asked.

Instead of answering aloud, he picked up a photo on his desk and held it for her to see. A dark haired teen - Sam at a younger age - stood beside an equally tall young woman, and an older couple, their parents.

She was first amused by how gawky Sam had looked before he'd filled out, but then she gasped when she recognized the blonde with the blue eyes. A model Three. "She's your sister?"

He didn't notice or ignored her astonishment. "Deanna," his finger touched the photo gently. "She watched out for me after our parents died. But then Gemon separatists bombed the university café. We were eating lunch. I survived; she didn't." His eyes shone with sadness and dark memories. "I have her DNA, but no brain scans, so even if we recreate resurrection it's too late for her. But I'd give anything to have her back."

He set the photo back on his desk. "I'll never get her back; she's dead. But I can see to it no one else has to suffer that loss and end up alone. If you're in my head, you understand that. If you're something else, then I ask you to try to understand, but it doesn't matter; I won't stop."

"I understand, Sam," she told him. Not that she approved, necessarily, but she understood. Hell, when she'd thought Sam had been killed, it was the only time she'd ever envied Helo his marriage to a Cylon. At least Helo had the chance to get Sharon back.

She watched Sam go, staying behind and looking at the picture some more. One of the Cylon models was Sam's boss; another was his sister... that couldn't be a coincidence.

Maybe she was dreaming all of this. That made more sense than Sam being a Cylon's brother, and working on robots and resurrection on Earth just as they'd done in the Colonies fifty years ago. Then, she let out a snort and muttered, "This has all happened before... damn, I'm starting to really hate that."

She half-expected Leoben's voice so it wasn't startling this time when he said, "So say we all, Kara. That's why we want it to stop. It doesn't have to happen again and again -- it's caused by the same arrogant and selfish choices..." He glanced at the picture on the desk and shook his head in pity.

"Selfish? Isn't it the opposite of selfish? He wants to create something for everyone else. He wants to save people. I can't argue with him about resurrection when he's right. We talk about Elysium, but no one knows what it's like or if it's even real --but we know what life is."

He sighed. "Didn't you find out from the Cylons that a life with no end has no shape and no value? How can one value the lives of others if you have none in your own? No, it's selfish, this wish to avoid loss. And it's arrogant to change what was given to mortals."

"It's the arrogance you don't like most, isn't it?" she asked, frowning at him. "But I don't see why you should talk like it's some sort of awful sin, when clearly it's possible, and it keeps happening. The gods aren't stopping it…"

To her surprise he laughed, a little bitterly, and smiled, "Oh, the Lords of Kobol try, Kara. Time and again, we try, but there’s only so much we can do. We're all bound by rules; and we don't all agree on the best methods."

"That's why I'm here, isn't it?" she asked. "I'm somebody's idea of a method to get him to stop. Except he's obviously not going to listen."

"No," Leoben agreed sadly. "He has already found the path, I fear. He and the other four of his companions. This fate has already been written."

"Then I'm here for nothing," she said. "If he won't listen, and this is all fated, why am I here?"

He shook his head, looking uncertain. "You brought yourself, Kara. There must be more."

"I'll try again," she offered, but she didn't think it would work. She wasn't sure she wanted it to work, in fact, because giving humans resurrection still sounded like a better idea than not. It sounded like a miracle, if they could pull it off. No one had to die, until they chose to -- no more accidents, no more tragic deaths, no more illness; people could have new bodies, they could continue to learn and grow. People could choose their time.

And it didn't have to be for Cylons.

She left Sam alone, waiting in his place until he returned home and found her in his desk chair pretending to play his guitar.

"You again?"

"You seem pretty unimpressed a messenger of the gods is interested in you personally, Sam."

"Is that what you are?" he asked, and grinned at her. "I thought you were a figment of my imagination."

She rolled her eyes. "You know you saw me walk through the door."

"Which means nothing," he corrected. "In fact a virtual creation of my subconscious should be able to walk through walls and appear only to me."

"But why me?" she asked. "Why would your subconscious need to tell you that what you're doing is dangerous? That there's a worse war coming?"

"Do you think I don't know that?" he retorted. "Of course I do. There's a reason Dominion systems is pushing the AI hard - and I keep trying to resist it. I've frakked over my own program twice, when it gets too close, praying Ellen doesn't see what I've done. Because I know it's dangerous. But lack of AI doesn't stop the governments from using the air drones and the Centurions already, programming them to go out and kill people. They'll get more efficient and more complex, and if not us, someone somewhere will achieve self-awareness. When that happens, we'll have enemies who are completely autonomous, virtually indestructible, and can be duplicated to the limits of resources. That's why resurrection is so important."

She nodded slowly, understanding how trapped he was; blocking AI but knowing worse war was coming, and trying to figure out resurrection to save those he could.

"You're right," she agreed, and glanced around for Leoben, but he wasn't in view shaking his head in disappointment. "You can't do anything else." And not him, not Sam; he was too much of a protector to stand by and watch while others died.

"No, I can't," he agreed. "I wish I could do all this for the pure joy of the research, but I was born about fifty years too late for that."

"Sorry. I wish I could tell you it gets better," she said.

"It's better with you here." He came closer, hand outstretched to try to touch her. Finding she felt solid to his hand, he grinned and pulled her closer, "Angel or figment, I'm glad you're so beautiful. And you have these kissable lips, exactly as I'd want in my fantasy woman…"

She whacked him on the back with her hand, but didn't pull away from his mouth.

Weeks passed, strangely idyllic -he worked on his two projects, the one he was sabotaging and the one he was actually working to solve. He played his guitar for her and sang, and once in the middle of a song stopped and went to the computer to rewrite the algorithm for compressing someone's entire memories into data that could be uploaded quickly. He was completely incapable of explaining it to her, gesturing excitedly with his eyes shining, until she'd had to jump him to shut him up.

She found out that Saul Tigh - of all people - had invented a method of scanning someone's brain and Tory and Galen had built it. Then, at a meeting of the five scientists in her group, Ellen had triumphantly laid out a sketch of exactly how to make a download work into a fresh, blank clone brain.

Kara draped herself across Sam's shoulders, as they all listened.

"This is it, my fends," she announced and smiled. It was not the flirty grin Kara was accustomed to seeing on Ellen. This Ellen was the most different it seemed. The old Ellen surfaced when she was making out with her husband in their office and trying to grope Sam when she was drunk, but most of the time she was driven and intense.

"We have resurrection. We've done it. And I propose that we test it with ourselves first."

"What?" Tory asked incredulous. "You want us to test it?"

"No one's going to believe we can do it, unless we prove it," Ellen said. "I'm not saying we have to do it right away. We need bodies to grow for one thing; but when we think it's going to work, when we're sure it'll work, one of us will have to go first."

"Me," Sam offered without hesitation. They all looked at him, and Kara's hands tightened on his shoulders making him wince. "The thing is, my part's done. Once we run the alpha tests, we'll know it works. I already have a pattern stored from Saul's earlier tests, anyway, so we don't even need the upload technically. And if anything goes wrong --"

"We'd need your programming expertise," Tory corrected.

"But you four deal with the download part, the actual resurrection into the new body. I'm pretty superfluous when the system is actually running."

"No, no, that isn't a good plan--" Tory objected again.

"Oh, she likes you," Kara murmured in Sam's ear and kissed his neck. He didn't dare move, as her hands slid down his chest. He tensed as her hands kept going - then when it would be hidden by the table, he reached down and held them still. "Spoilsport," she chided and sucked on his earlobe.

Trying to ignore her, he had to clear his throat and said, "Look, I'm on my own. I don't have family left, you guys are the only close friends I have and I know you'll do your best to make it work if something goes wrong. If it has to be one of us, it has to be me."

"This is really a dumb plan," Kara murmured. "You could die with this plan, moron."

"I won't do it unless I believe it'll work," Sam said, in answer to her, but it sufficed as an answer to Tory's reluctance. "But I think it'll work. The science is right, and we know it happened before. We have the Colony and what's left of their resurrection process."

"Which we fixed," Galen said. "I think it's very close to what it was before."

"All we have left to do is figure out how to enable it in our own brains," Ellen added and smiled. "And Saul and I think we found the key. In fact I bet Sam is already enabled, because he's interfaced the most with the data stream."

"She wanted it to be you all along," Kara muttered. "I have a bad feeling about this, Sam. It seems too easy. Resurrection falls into your laps all at once?"

"It's like we're remembering it," Sam murmured. When everyone at the table looked at him, he said, more loudly. "I don't feel like we're inventing it; it's re-inventing it. That's why it's easy."

"Easy?" Galen scoffed. "Speak for yourself."

"No, hon, Sam's right," Tory agreed. "It is re-discovery. We've always known our ancestors had it, and lost it on the journey here. So once we found the Colony it was only a matter of time."

"Lucky it was in Caparica," Saul pointed out. "If the ship had been somewhere else on the planet, someone else would be having this discussion."

"Luck?" Kara murmured to Sam, "No one else would have this discussion. It was always going to be you."

He couldn't help glancing at her, frowning a little.

Ellen noticed. "Sam? You okay?"

Forcing a smile, he said he was fine, just thinking, which Kara took as a personal challenge. "Be very still, baby, or they'll notice," she warned and sucked on his neck, distracting him, as her fingers crept inside his pants.

He jerked his legs, and bit his lip on a gasp. "Stop it," he hissed between his teeth and tried to grab at her hand without looking as if he was having a convulsion.

"You're kidding, right?" she murmured. "You're at my mercy and you have to be still. Some men pay money for this, Sammy. Enjoy it."

"I can't!" he blurted and jumped to his feet, shoving his chair back so hard it skidded across the floor with a screech. The other four stared at him, shocked.

"Excuse me," he blurted raggedly. "I really have to use the washroom."

It was empty when she slid through the wall ahead of him to wait. When he came in he was not surprised to see her, as he put a hand blindly behind him to lock the door. "In the head?" She teased. "We've never done it in here before--"

He rushed forward, grabbing her off her feet and putting her back to the wall. Mouths joined in feverish heat as his hands yanked at her clothes. It reminded her of their illicit frak on Galactica, but his skin was unmarred under her fingers and warm.

She was ready for him before he lifted her up, and her hands were tight on his shoulders. "Yes, Sam," she panted. "C'mon, hurry up."

There was a rattling on the door and Tyrol's voice, "Sam? You all right?"

"Go away!" Sam shouted, voice ragged as his fingers went tight on her hips, and he shook as he stopped deep in her.

Kara laughed, tilting her head back as Sam's lips fell to her neck.

Later, they ambled along the embarcadero, sun on their faces. It seemed incredible that there was a war going on, until she noticed the uniformed, armed soldiers guarding certain buildings and the fighter jets that occasionally screamed overhead.

"What if it doesn't work?" Kara asked. "Resurrection?"

"It'll work," he answered confidently and stopped to watch a pair of young twin girls running up to the railing, followed more slowly by their elderly guardian. Which was the moment Kara realized that except for people in important positions like Sam's, she'd seen relatively few people of fighting age walking around. "It has to work. We can't go on this way," he murmured. "Every day the news is worse."

Suddenly Sam stopped and blinked. His face lit with recognition and confusion. "Kara. Are you really here?" he asked in disbelief.

It was the first time he had called her by name as if he recognized her from her time. "Sam? You know me?"

He stared at her, frowning and shaking his head. "This is a dream," he said. "You're dead."

Her heart seemed to skip a beat. He thought she was dead -- he knew. Oh Gods, he thought she was dead and the grief in his eyes was burning a hole in her. She grabbed his hands. He was here, somehow this was her Sam.

"Sam, it's me," she insisted. "You remember."

But he blinked and frowned and the moment was gone. She didn't understand how it happened, but it had been her Sam there for a moment, looking at her, like a piece of the future. And he thought she was dead.

She clutched his hands as he blinked and the recognition passed from him. "No, Sam, you have to remember, stay with me.."

"What was that?" he asked. "I felt very strange there for a moment." He glanced down at their joined hands. "What happened?"

Disappointed, she let go. "Nothing. Never mind."

He glanced at her, frowning curiously, but didn't pursue it. "Let's go home," he suggested as a squadron of unmanned planes flew overhead. "I was thinking of a new song I want you to hear."

But, like all idylls, this one would not last either.

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