I'll put up a master post (and link all the parts which aren't, sorry) during the week when I crosspost around. But until then, if you're reading along, enjoy!
Series link at AO3
Time, no longer bound to a wheel, unfurled ahead of them, as a path. The remnants of three peoples walked it, not always peacefully and not always wisely, but always forward.
On a lovely spring day the merging into one people would be complete.
"How do I look, Dad?" Iris asked, twirling for Sam's inspection.
He caught her hand and answered honestly, "You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, little one."
"Hey! I heard that!" Kara called out from where Hera was trying to pin something on her dress.
"Stand still, Auntie Kara," Hera snapped, pulling her back into place.
"You know she can't do that," Thea teased.
Sam ignored them to frame Iris's face with his hands. "I love you," he told her. "You are a miracle and a gift, and I have treasured every moment that I've spent with you."
She blinked her eyes and bit her lip, and said with a little choked voice, "Daddy, don't make me cry -- my makeup will smear."
He leaned down to kiss her forehead, just as he had when she'd been small. She flung her arms around him and they hugged tightly. "I love you, too," she whispered.
He held her just as long as he could, knowing that very soon he was going to have to give up some of this for the new man in her life. He ran a finger along the sleek curl in her golden hair and the crown of flowers. "You ready? I hear there's a red head out there who wants to marry you."
She checked her face in the mirror and nodded. "I'm ready."
Outside, the weather was perfect and the honor guard of Centurions shone in the sunlight. Some of them, Sam was amused to note, were wearing accessories - one had on what could only be a bracelet, and another had put a colored stone in its carapace. The first in the line stepped forward and presented a pink rose to Iris.
She smiled up at it, at ease with the Centurions as no one born during the exodus could be. "Thank you, very much. I'm honored that you would all come to share in my special day."
It nodded to her and stepped back into line, as Iris slipped the rose into the middle of her bouquet.
Excited by the gesture, Sam patted it on the arm as the wedding party passed. Was this Centurion a leader among them, or a spokesperson. Did they understand the import of what was happening today?
From in front as she started marching down the petal-strewn path, Kara hissed over her shoulder at him, "Let it go til tomorrow, Sam."
On Iris's other side, Thea snorted with laughter.
Smiling ruefully at how well they both knew him, he escorted Iris to the field where the wedding was set up, with hundreds of chairs to accommodate all the guests. Jeanne performed the ceremony, then he watched Iris dance with Sammy Clellan. When Nora and Tucker joined them, Sam stood and held out a hand to Thea. She accepted with a smile and they joined the other two couples in the dance.
They hadn't planned to dance together as parents of the bride, but it felt right. This was something they'd done together; they had created this miracle who should never have been born but had come to them anyway. The moment was bittersweet and heavy with all the things they'd been to each other. Even though they'd both married others, that old bond lingered, especially on a day like today.
"I think we did good," he said finally, smiling, with a glance at Iris giggling in Sammy's arms.
"We did." Thea nodded and her hands squeezed his. When the song ended, he kissed her cheek.
Kara waited until they had let go of each other, then took his arm. "Circle dance, come on."
In the whirl of the dance, he saw all the Cylons, each as alike as sisters and brothers, but no longer identical. Except there were two missing, and when he realized it, his heart caught and across the crowd, his eyes met Ellen's. They had done it, the Five, destroying all the John models to insure the peace. He knew it had to happen and didn't exactly mourn the necessity. Yet now, twenty years later, remembering how much Daniel would've loved this, it hit hard.
When Sharon and Dee pulled Kara with them, he wandered away from the crowd, up the gravel path, to the bluff overlooking the sea. He could hear the music behind him and the waves below, all combining into one song.
He squinted toward the horizon, where the next island in the chain was barely visible in the haze, but the mainland was too far away to see. They'd settled on Atlantia because it was empty, geothermal energy was abundant, and the weather was pleasant, but he knew that someday the humans on the distant shores would build boats and find them. What were they going to do on that day? Would they pretend to be gods here on their Mount Olympus, as the lords of Kobol had? Would they tell stories of the past, cloaked in myth so the New Earth humans could learn from their mistakes? Would it all end in fire and death again?
It's different now, he reminded himself. But the words sounded hollow. With ill-omened names like Earth for the planet and Atlantia for their island, wasn't it a matter of time?
He worried about it only a few minutes until he heard the crunch of footsteps behind him. Kara came up to his side and nudged him with a hip. "Hey. What are you all broody about? You should be happy."
"I am happy," he protested. "I am. It's a momentous day. It made me think."
"Uh oh," Kara mocked and he made a face at her. Then she prompted more seriously, knowing he was bothered by something. "What is it?"
"Iris is the last full-blood Cylon. We really are one people now. I just..." he trailed off and looked toward the horizon. "I remember how my Earth was - it was all one people too, and it blew itself to hell. I want to believe that things will be different here. That all the pain, sacrifice and death won't have been for nothing."
She paused a moment and said, "You're the one who said the cycle was broken. That we're free to make our own destiny."
"I know, and it's true. But that doesn't mean it won't happen again. Another thousand years from now this place might be a cinder."
She sighed and shook her head at him. "Only you would worry about something that might happen in a thousand years, Sam. Did you see the crowd down there? There were only six people at Helo and Sharon's wedding, remember? And now there are three hundred here, including Centurions, and I never, ever would have thought that could happen, back on the ship." She slipped an arm around his waist, and he put an arm around her shoulders to tug her close. "We did it," she whispered. "We broke the cycle. We learned our lesson. It won't happen again, Sam. We won't let it."
"I pray that's true." He pressed a kiss into her hair and continued to watch the waves, vague memories of doing the same thing years and years ago on a different planet they had called Earth flitting through his mind.
Kara leaned her head into his shoulder. "I like that tune. You should finish it and we can play it together."
Until she spoke he hadn't even realized he'd been humming. "I finished it," he murmured. "I just have to remember it."
She shook her head in wonder and laughed again, a little ruefully. "Every time I think I know all there is to know about you, I learn something new. At least it's never boring, being married to a man with, what, three lifetimes in his head?" she teased gently. "Tomorrow you can play me the song. But not today." She turned and grabbed his hands in hers. "Today is Iris's wedding day and she'll never forgive you if you're all gloomy. Let's go have fun."
As Kara had always done, from the day they'd met, she pulled him up from the darker currents of the deep, and up toward the light and warmth of family. In the crowd, Cylons and Humans looked the same, but those that blended both seemed to glow. Hera had taken pity on Jean's unbelievably awkward teenage son and they were dancing, while the boy's once-unthinkable father, a Four who'd named himself Will Cottle after Bill Adama and Doctor Cottle, looked on with pride. Sam's own hybrid children were running in the far field, like the hellions they were, playing a ball game with a group of other hybrids and humans.
His Cylon daughter was still dancing with his human namesake, looking drunk on happiness. Someday she'd have her own hybrid baby and the line of salt between the two peoples would wash away completely.
His fears lifted away at the sight. He'd known it was the only answer, but he'd never thought he'd live to see it. Perhaps it would unravel one day, but the future was no longer his to see. For now he could enjoy the peace of knowing he'd paid for his mistakes and he'd fulfilled his destiny.
He took Kara's hand and brought it to his lips, filled with such love and gladness that they were here together. She looked at him curiously, and he smiled at her, content. This wasn't a vision, it was real, and he wouldn't trade it for all the powers in the universe.
Words he'd spoken on the day of formal peace between the fleet and the cylons returned to him:
Our children will build the future according to what we teach them. They are the shape of things to come. They are the first children who will live in a world defined not by what was, but by what might be.
The days of the gods walking among us are done. The gods will no longer visit us in visions or tell us where to go. Our future is not written in the past, and we're free to make our destiny on our own and as we choose.
We are, all of us, mortal. Elysium waits on the other side, but until then, we must find our joys and our loves in the present. Because this life is all we have and all we know.
This is all that we are.
Crossposted from DW There are comments over there. Feel free to comment wherever.