Thea clutched Iris to her, crying, but Kara continued to hold Sam's hand, staring into his face. After all this, after all he'd done, all they'd been through, all they'd learned... this was the end? The injustice of it burned even though she knew he didn't want to come back. He'd been looking for a way to die for months, believing with unshakable faith that he had to.
"I hope you got what you wanted," she murmured in a broken whisper.
- beep -
The heart monitor's sound went through Kara like a shot. She thought she was imagining it and lifted her eyes to meet Thea's on the other side of the bed. Thea's face held the same surprise.
- beep -
"Sam?" Kara gasped.
"Doctor Cottle? Doctor!" Thea called, frantic. "Doctor, come back!"
Kara watched in amazement as the heart rate increased and strengthened, and Sam's lips parted to draw breath around the ventilator tube.
Cottle hustled back to the bedside. "Might have known a Cylon would refuse to stay dead," he grumbled.
Thea chuckled unsteadily.
"He's going to be okay," Kara said.
"He's alive," Cottle corrected. "Which is more than he was a minute ago. You all, get out. I need to find out what's going on." Then he bellowed, "Ishay!"
Shoved out in the waiting area again, Kara's eyes met Thea's and for the first time, Kara wondered what they were going to do about this as soon as he was well again. She had no doubt that he would be, not now. He'd been sent back; she felt that truth in her bones somehow.
Thea spoke first, speaking softly, "I love him, I've loved him from the moment his Raider pulled him onto my ship and I realized he was my fate. And we'll always have our daughter and the times we were together. But--" she paused. Kara would ordinarily said something to hurry her up or brashly rushed to fill the silence, but now she waited.
"He never took off your dogtag," she continued. "Sometimes I wanted to take it from him so badly, but I couldn't do that to him. I couldn't force him to give you up, even when you were ... gone."
"Thea," Kara started, uncertain what to say. Thea was hurting and Kara felt sorry for her. "He does love you. Don't think he doesn't, because he does."
"I know," Thea sighed and kissed the baby's head. "But not the same way. And he remembers creating the Sixes now. I look at him and I know he made me; he looks at me and sees the child he made. The truth changed us."
"I imagine so." Kara's lips twitched, thinking of how awkward that would be.
Thea shook her head. "But that doesn't matter, really. We could probably get past that with time, but … it's plain to me you two are.... connected in some way. I know that, and I'll have to live with that. Just as you'll have to live with the knowledge that I have his child, and so we'll never be fully apart either." She smiled a little. "Can you live with that?'
"I don't have much choice, do I?" Kara asked wryly. "I'll try not to frak it up too much."
"Just make him happy, that's all I want. I think a part of him has been desperately unhappy for a very long time," Thea murmured.
"This new world is a new start for us all," Kara said and reached out to smooth Iris' soft hair. It was, she realized, the first time she'd touched the baby and when the baby smiled at her, toothlessly grinning in pure joy, Kara knew it was going to be okay.
He felt like he was falling, and there was darkness.
And pain. Like a rock on his chest, so he couldn't breathe. His eyelids felt like stones, too, and it was so hard to open them. He tried, but couldn't do it. He could hear the beeping of various machines, and the distant sound of voices until they faded away into the dark again.
He stirred again and this time, opening his eyes was easier. At first he didn't see anything though, just blank grey.
"Sam? Sam!" he heard Kara's voice and he tried to turn his head to see her, but he had something on his face keeping him still. "You're awake. Someone call Thea," she called over her shoulder and bent closer to him.
Her eyes were rimmed in red and shadowed with exhaustion. There was a smudge of dried blood on the side of her face. He realized she was holding his hand. "You moron, I thought I'd lost you," she whispered.
He wanted to talk, but it was too much effort to do anything but look at her beautiful face. The sight went with him back down into sleep.
Once he woke up because the drugs were wearing off, and he made an ill-advised attempt to move a little. The movement stabbed him in the chest and he whimpered in pain.
"Sam! Doctor Cottle!" Kara called out.
The doc came and injected something in his iv line, standing over Sam with a worried expression. "Keep hanging in there, Anders. You were shot in the chest, and you're lucky to be alive. Try to breathe as deep as you can, or you'll get pneumonia."
But he did. He had a day of feeling stronger, even though the morpha was only enough to take the edge off the pain in his chest. Then his temperature spiked suddenly and a bout of coughing felt like he was being pulled apart. He later found out that a week passed while he was lost in a feverish nightmare of drowning. He woke woozily a few times, aware enough to realize there was a tube in his throat and another in his chest, but never quite awake enough to want them taken out, before he fell back into hell.
Sometimes he awoke and Kara was there, sometimes Thea was there. But always it was one of them. Once Thea brought Iris and the scent of her in his nose stirred him, and Thea put her down to sleep between his body and his arm, and he fell asleep too, more peaceful.
Recovery was slow, even after the tubes were taken out and he could breathe on his own. He was painfully weak at first, drifting off after a few minutes awake. Kara sat with him, and when she was on duty, Thea was there, with Iris. They seemed friendly to his dazed and drugged brain whenever they were both there. He hoped it wasn't for his benefit, that they had made their own peace.
When Cottle let him have other visitors, Galen and Saul and Tory sat with him a little while, though Tory only came once and didn't return. Ellen told him stories about Earth and their lives before John had ruined it all. Her words filled in the gaps in his memories, but he soon realized that he was the only one who remembered Kobol.
Leoben was a welcome presence who didn't mind being quiet or demand Sam respond to the things he said. Barolay came to give him ship gossip or talk about people on Caprica they'd both known, before the attacks, keeping his mind diverted even when he couldn't speak.
Sharon - Boomer - came and held his hand, smiling. "Natalie thought it would be too much for us all to come, so I'm here for all of them."
Amused by the thought of the entire baseship trooping through his recovery room, he smiled and pressed her hand, but she shook her head when he would've said something. "You don't need to say anything. But I wanted to tell you to get better soon; we need you."
He frowned- that sounded ominous, a feeling that grew when she glanced at the door to make sure it was empty and bent closer. "Ellen's kind of taken over at the Colony but I don't think D'Anna or Natalie like it very much, when she tells them what to do. She's also," Sharon wrinkled her nose, "really condescending about it."
"I'm sure they can work it out," Sharon reassured him, "But just so you know there's plenty to do when you're out of here. But it's going well generally. People are happy we've found a world to settle. Did they tell you there are already humans here? They're pretty scattered but genetically indistinguishable. Baltar is claiming we'll be all one species in a few generations. And that this was where we were meant to be all along."
"You'll see it." Her eyes went distant and then uncertain, flicking a glance at him and then away as if she had somethign else to say.
"I - I wanted to know what you thought about -- me and Galen. Is it too... weird? I mean - he doesn't remember, not like you do -- would you find it terrible? Ellen doesn't approve I think."
He tightened his grip. "Sharon - it's your choice. You're a ... person. Adult. You... choose. Yourself."
Speaking so much hurt everything in his chest, but it was worth it when she smiled brilliantly and kissed his cheek. "Thank you."
After Sharon, Helo came and talked of how the Humans and Cylons were trying to be friends, and Sam only realized that he had something he wanted to ask Helo, when the other man was leaving. "Helo," he called, voice rusty and he held back a cough.
Helo came back to the bed. "Yeah?"
"Hera?" he asked, body tight with a reflexive anxiety. Helo hadn't mentioned Hera at all, and he was a little afraid of what that might mean.
But Helo smiled. "She's fine. Better than fine, really. We had a scary moment when she collapsed for no reason, but when she woke up, she's been our little girl again." He frowned at some expression on Sam's face. "What? You know what happened, don't you?"
He had a flash of the Opera House and Hera's little face and depthless dark eyes.
"She was an oracle, too," Sam told him. "When the gods went home, she and I -- we had a choice -- to go with them or stay, but lose our sight." He knew without doubt that his future visions were over. But he still had memories of the past, and that was more than enough. He remembered a door and light streaming out, and he smiled. "We're free. Free to make our own choices, and our own destiny. We're on our own."
"That's... scary," Helo murmured.
"A little," he agreed. "But hopeful too, don't you think?"
After some thought, Helo nodded. "It doesn't have to happen again."
"No. It doesn't. It won't. We won't let it." There was so much death in his memories... so many ends to so many worlds... "So say we all," he whispered.
"Hey, Karl," Kara greeted him, coming through the drape. Her eyes flicked from one to another, noticing the heavier atmosphere. She smiled at Sam and with resolute cheer said, "I thought I heard your voice. Bout time you woke up."
Helo took his leave and Sam turned his head to watch Kara. "Hey."
"You still lazing about in bed?" she teased.
"Actually I was thinking about standing," he said. "If you'd help."
She bit her lip in uncertainty and glanced toward the curtains as if a herd of wild dogs was waiting on the other side. "I think that's a bad idea."
"C'mon," he coaxed. "I've been in this bed forever. And I'm not getting stronger just sitting here."
She shook her head and sat on the edge of the bed. Just the movement of the bed shot stripes of pain out from his chest, and though he bit his lip and tried not to show how much it hurt, Kara saw and her face closed up in determination. "No, Sam. When the doc gives the okay, not before. You're still healing."
He nodded, feigning reluctance, but knew she was right. "God, this is a boring as frak infirmary," he muttered.
"I know. And I would love to liven it up," she leaned down close and grinned at him flirtatiously, "but if you can't even stand up, I don't think you're ready."
He pouted. "Not even a kiss?"
"I think I can do that. If you promise not to get too excited."
He couldn't possibly get that excited when she barely pressed her lips to his. When he lifted a hand to try to pull her down closer, it was the hand with the pulse monitor on his finger and the i.v. line into his arm, and the cords defeated him. "Frak it to hell," he muttered.
She chuckled and kissed him again. "Think of it as a promise for when you're better."
It seemed slow, but he did get better. Over both Kara and Thea's objections, Sam insisted on going down to the surface of this new world. He'd heard they'd started calling it Earth, and when he'd demanded Ellen stop it, she'd just shrugged and said, "It's still their hope for a new home. They call ours Cylon Earth, or Old Earth. This is the Earth they were promised."
So he'd wanted to visit and see what all the pain had finally bought.
"Come on. If you're gonna be stupid, the view is this way." Kara took his hand and helped him to his feet, shoving a shoulder under his arm when his legs trembled. She brought him to the opening hatch of the Raptor.
Thea was on his other side, holding Iris, and Caprica and Baltar were following behind him. Helo and Sharon were powering down the Raptor.
They walked beyond the landing area, to a steep drop to the sea. It was a perfect semi-circular harbor, clearly volcanic, a high ridge embracing sapphire water, perfect for sailing. Above, the sky was a beautiful pale blue color and the sun was warm and yellow. There was a silvery moon barely visible above grey-green trees and golden grass.
He tilted his head back as a flight of Raiders careened across the sky, and one in particular looped around to buzz him joyfully.
The Centurions were planning to take the Colony and go out on their own, but they wanted to speak to him first. There was going to be peace, though. That much he knew.
He turned to see Kara's face glowing in the beautiful light, framed by the sky behind her. The breeze stirred the ends of her hair and smelled of the sea. And he remembered he'd seen this moment before, but only now did he understand what it truly meant.
"You brought us home, baby," he whispered, and his eyes pricked with hot tears, unable to believe that at last they were here.
She shook her head, and bit her lip, for a moment unable to speak. Then she corrected him, with crumpled smile, "No. We brought them home."
epilogue to follow
Crossposted from DW There are comments over there. Feel free to comment wherever.