From the first time I watched the mini, that "Nothin' but the Rain" line just jumped out and grabbed me. Where did it come from? What did it mean? What was it's significance? Well, an idea came to me…. And here goes…The first chapter is primarily narrative, but hang in there… the conversations will come.Nothing But the Rain
By Crystal Wimmer
3,812 words / Rated PG-13
Kara Thrace rolled over in bed and looked at the clock on her bedside table. It was just after midnight, and she had yet to fall asleep. She normally fought just a touch of insomnia when she was planetside, but this was something else entirely. This was the morning that was supposed to start the day that was supposed to begin the rest of her life.
It was her wedding day. One problem with that, though… she had killed her groom. Zak was dead. She had murdered him just as surely as if she had loaded a gun and handed it to him with specific instructions to blow his brains out, because in a way she had. Only the weapon differed from the analogy. She had killed him as surely as if she had sabotaged the Viper he'd flown into the wall of the landing bay, because she had done exactly that. She had given him the most deadly defective part a Viper could have; she had given him an incompetent pilot. It was no small wonder that she couldn't sleep at night.
Kicking the covers of her bed away – her bed, not theirs – she pushed herself up to sit on the edge of the bed. Lords, she hated this feeling. The guilt was overpowering. The shame was enveloping. And it hurt; it all hurt so much that she could barely breathe. But she couldn't say a word to anyone. She couldn't. It had nothing to do with her reputation, or her job, or even her freedom. It had to do with destroying one of the few men that she really cared about. She couldn't bring herself to say a word.
At first, her silence had mostly been shock. A woman could only be so coherent after watching the man she loved take out the inside of a landing bay, screaming the whole way. She still heard his screams, and the echoes of the subsequent explosions, in every silence. Her mind replayed the sounds like some type of a recording – Zak's panic, her own shouting of orders, and then the endless explosions that destroyed half the bay, and all of Zak. She had thought the explosions would never stop.
But they did, and while what they pulled out of the wreckage couldn't rightly be called a body, it had indeed been Zak. She had been a basket case. And because they weren't married yet – wouldn't be for another sixty-three days – she had no rights. She didn't deserve them, nor did she expect them, but just the fact that she'd mostly been living with a man for two years and wouldn't be allowed into his room to clear out his things was enough to tear her heart out. All she'd had left of him was in that room. Lords, she missed him.
Zak's death had called the rest of his family home to Caprica for the funeral. It was another day seared into her memory, and no more pleasant than the one on which Zak had died. William Adama had been there, and he'd been as stoic and silent as ever. He had stood there like granite, never flinching. Kara thought he had probably been in more than a little shock himself. Unfortunately hers had numbed by then; she remembered everything. Iilya had been there as well, her soft presence both warm and comforting to those around her. She had been rather like an exotic flower. She'd looked slightly wilted, but still doing her best to brighten the situation. The only emotion that Kara saw Commander Adama exhibit was when he'd put his arm around his ex-wife and let her cry all over him. Kara had wished that she'd had someone to hold.
And there had been Lee. Lords, how Zak had idolized him. Lee Adama was the classic pilot. He was cocky, smart-ass, and underneath it all just pretty damned sweet. She knew that there wasn't much Lee wouldn't have done for his brother, and that he loved Zak in his own masculine way, but he hadn't responded to the funeral with the sadness that everyone else had. He hadn't taken the death of his brother as one of those military tragedies that couldn't be avoided, but instead as the murder it had been. His only mistake had been in his choice of suspects. Lee was one of the few people who knew without a doubt that Zak hadn't belonged in that Viper, but he hadn't blamed Kara. He had blamed the man who had raised them both with a patriotic streak a mile wide and a love for flying that was unparalleled. Lee also had been born with the skill for flying that his father had possessed; Zak had not been so lucky.
As though it had been in one of the old slow-motion vids, Kara had watched the screaming start even before the funeral began. Lee threw accusations at his father from the time they entered the same room until the service started, and then again afterwards when everyone had met at the Adama home to remember Zak. Lee hadn't been sad; he had been furious.
While she had sat next to Iilya at the service, once they reached the house Kara had crept into a corner of Zak's old bedroom and had sat there and cried. She hadn't wanted comfort – hadn't deserved it – but she had needed it. Later, when she'd felt a little more together and the yelling had been stopped for a while, she had come out to find Lee and his father in separate corners.
Lords, Lee had looked so alone. He'd been so angry that no one in the room would come near him. Kara had fully intended to tell him the truth, so she'd gone over and sat next to him. But she hadn't been able to say a word. Lee hadn't seemed to mind. After sitting that way for longer than she could keep track of, he had reached for her hand. They had sat that way for a very long time. Most of the guests found somewhere else to be, whether because of his volatility or her vulnerability she would never know. But as the Caprican sun had descended down past the horizon, the two of them had sat there saying nothing, doing nothing, and just trying to keep themselves sane. At least that was what Kara had been doing. She had kept trying to think of a way to tell Lee the truth, but she had been afraid.
The great Starbuck – the most fearless pilot of them all – and she'd been terrified. What kind of a warrior did that make her?
Long after dark, after every guest had gone and both William and Iilya had gone to bed, she and Lee had still sat silently side-by-side. At some point Kara had fallen asleep, and when she'd awoken the next morning she'd been lying on the couch with her shoes off and thick quilt tucked around her. Lee's note had said that if she needed anything, she was to call him. Kara had taken away his brother, and he had offered her help. In a way, it had been the final blow. She had said good-bye to the Adamas that morning, and she had hidden herself in her apartment for a week.
Thankfully, Kara had never been one to use a lot of her leave. The Colonial Service allotted thirty days each year, and allowed accumulation up to ninety days before it became "use or lose." Normally, Kara maintained her balance as high as possible, taking the weeks required only when she had no choice. Leave meant planetside, and that meant no flight. When she was on the ground, she felt absolutely useless.
Even her current position of flight instructor was in the air, on one of the largest instructional vessels in the fleet. It was done that way deliberately because Colonial Service required long periods in space, and some people just couldn't take it. She had always loved it herself, but there were those who never adjusted to the artificial gravity and limited living space. It was better to know this before granting a pilot wings. The mobile training facility also allowed space launches once the trainees passed basic flight – the simulators – which would not have been possible on the ground. Finally, keeping new pilots mobile was a tactical decision. The Cylons had targeted training facilities during the war, both to destroy morale and the new pilots. It was harder to hit a moving target.
But Kara's leave balance was near eighty days, so she didn't have to worry about work. She had planned an extended honeymoon with Zak, so both had been accumulating days. It hadn't been much of a hardship. The only off-time either of them wanted was together, and they got that with regular shift adjustments. There would be no time together, now. Kara had seen to that.
Lee had shown up nearly a week after she'd holed up in the apartment she kept planetside just so that she had a place to store things. It was a single room unit, and nothing to brag about. Lee and Zak had been just about the only ones who had known about it. Zak had even kept a key. Lee had found her there in her sweat clothes, hair unwashed and uncombed, face pretty much blank, and her body as dirty as her hair. She'd been a mess. He had given her a hug – grubby though she'd been – and had shooed her off to the shower. An hour later, clean and dressed if not any happier, he had hauled her off to lunch. It had been the first solid food she'd eaten all week. They had talked for a couple of hours about work, about flying, and about everything else except Zak and his father. And when he'd dropped her back off at the apartment it had been with two things of lasting value. The first had been a large box of Zak's things which Lee had taken from Zak's room – the same room that Kara hadn't been allowed to enter. Lee had told her that they were rightly hers, and she had been grateful beyond measure. The second thing he had given her was a good, solid guilt trip. Would Zak want her to be this miserable? How would Zak have felt knowing that losing him had brought her to this? As cruel as it had seemed at the time, it had been just what she needed to start living again.
Well, maybe not living. But she had eaten, gone through the motions of each day, and had even kept herself clean and as well rested as she could manage. Going back to work had been out of the question; she had already killed one pilot with her judgement, and she would not risk another young life. It hadn't really mattered; with the Callahandra grounded for repairs, her work would have been planetside. Mostly it would have involved basic instructional classes. True flight instruction was suspended until they completed repairs, but there was tactical theory, pilot-required maintenance, and targeting to be taught. Instead of going back, she simply stayed on the planet, and she used that damned apartment that she hated so much. She never opened the box that Lee had brought her. For all that she felt it was her right to have it, she also felt too much guilt to deserve it.
Sleep still came hard. Every time she closed her eyes, she continued to hear the explosions that had destroyed half of the flight pod on her training vessel. Many nights she would just lie in bed and stare at the shadow of the box, wondering what was inside and yet unwilling to find out.
So the box had sat there for two months. She hadn't opened it, and yet she hadn't put it away. It had just been there – always. And now, on the morning when she should be putting on the gown that she had returned and receiving the ring that she had buried with Zak, she found herself left with the choice of what to do with that frakking box.
While she'd sat there on the bed trying to decide what would be best, the sun had risen. A glance at the clock revealed oh-six-hundred, and she was shocked. Had she really been sitting there for six hours? It was a sign of how disconnected she felt that she hadn't even felt the time pass. She had simply sat there in a daze, staring at the box in the increasing light of the early morning.
She would open it. She probably should, anyway. There might be things in there that she needed to take care of, or something he had wanted for her to have. Lee was bright enough, and sensitive enough, that whatever was in the box was undoubtedly important. She had to open it.
Removing the cord that tied the lid on required a strong pair of scissors. But she got it off, and took a look at the contents within. The first thing she saw was his secondary school yearbook. Lords, he'd been so young. She resisted the temptation to look through it, feeling it too personal for the mood she was in. So she merely moved it out of the way, and looked at what came next. A picture of the two of them, taken in front of the Callahandra just before launch. Zak was smiling, Kara was making a stupid face, and the gleaming ship behind them seemed immense. He had been so damned excited. He had only wanted to fly like the rest of them – she and his father and his brother. Had it been so much to ask?
Next she found a picture of the Adama family. It was a formal portrait, with all three of the men in uniform and Iilya looking so fragile and beautiful standing surrounded by them. Kara had to smile. The three men were so different, and yet at the core so much alike. They had good hearts, stubborn attitudes, and they loved the air as much as she did.
She dug through a few other things that she remembered from his room. A favorite book she set aside to be read later, and a few of the vids that they'd watched when they first started dating went into her own box by the viewer. At the bottom of the box, beneath much of her own toiletries and clothing, she found a wrapped box. The paper was just this side of obscene – naked women in impossible positions – but it was the writing on the envelope that caught her eye. "For Your Wedding," it read. His wedding. Hers. That would be today.
Kara carefully returned a few of the miscellaneous items to the box. She would decide what to do with them later. She put away her clothes and the few of Zak's that Lee had included, then she took the wrapped gift to the bed and sat there staring at it for a while. Finally, she opened the envelope to read the card. It simply said "To Zak, from Saul Tigh." Great. The one gift she'd get to open was from the man she liked least in the Service. Okay, so that was an exaggeration, but not by very much.
She knew before she tore away the disgusting paper what was inside, and she wasn't disappointed. The aged ambrosia was in a beautiful decanter. What else would a drunk give someone as a gift but booze? Expensive booze, yes. And with a sick smile, Kara decided that the idiotic Colonel might be good for something after all. She twisted the lid off the bottle, looked at the golden fluid inside for a long moment, and then she began to drink.
The bottle was empty. Damn.
On the other hand, Kara thought, it could be good. She could just go get more. She didn't feel as bad now. The explosions that she'd been hearing for two months were muted, and she wondered just why the hell it hadn't occurred to her to get drunk before. She knew there must be a reason, but for the life of her she couldn't think of it now. She felt better; not good, but better.
Still, the bottle was empty, and she could still hear a faint echo of the usual roar in her mind. She would need more if she was going to get rid of the sound entirely. So she went to the small closet by the front door, groped around until she found something warm – a sweater, but not a coat – and she began a walk down the street. She was half-way to the bar on the corner when she remembered that she hadn't closed her front door, but she decided not to worry about it. She didn't have much worth taking. After all, the bottle was empty. She'd keep it, though. It was pretty.
The bar was closed, which really ticked her off. She didn't have a watch on, but she was fairly sure that it was late enough that the bar should be open. Changing her route slightly, she walked into the little store next to the bar and bought another bottle of ambrosia. Then she sat down on the sidewalk in front of the bar to drink her bottle and wait for the bar to open so that she could get something better. After all, it wasn't healthy to drink alone. She should be around other people to do it.
When the bar owner showed up, he didn't want to let her in. She found that to be annoying, but thankfully she had her wallet in the pocket of her sweater, and sheflashed her military identification and asked as nicely as she could. The guy finally ushered her inside and offered her a cup of coffee. While normally that was her drink of choice, this was not a normal day. This was her wedding day, damn-it, and she could drink what she wanted. She told the bartender as much. He finally took pity on her and brought her a glass of his finest. She couldn't really taste it, but she drank it anyway. Then she drank another… and another.
The bar gradually filled as the afternoon and evening went on. Kara sat at the bar, ordering one drink after another. Later, she would wonder why they hadn't just cut her off, but at the time it seemed perfectly logical to keep drinking. Later, she would wonder why they had even served a woman sitting there in her pajamas and slippers beneath the sweater, but not at that moment. She was numb all over, and it felt so good not to hurt. A game of Triad had started on the wall-sized screen behind the bar, and she began rooting for her favorite team. She was actually having a good time, so she decided that she just might get through the day after all.
But when her team started losing, she went from giddy to angry in a flash. Throwing her glass at the screen, she had started ranting and raving and screaming. A couple of guys she knew – both grounded warriors from the Callahandra – managed to escort her to their table and bought her another drink to calm her down. She told them that it was her wedding day, and her team shouldn't lose on her day. They had solemnly agreed with her, buying her drinks and listening to her tale of woe.
She hadn't realized that they would expect her to go with them when they were finished drinking. They might be done, but she was just getting started. She liked feeling this way – feeling nothing – and she wasn't going to give it up for anything or anyone. The warriors cajoled and pleaded, she refused and argued, and before she knew what was happening the punches were flying, thick and heavy and painful despite the haze of alcohol.
Frankly, she was a decent fighter. She could hold her own in a brawl with the best the military had to offer, but two on one – on a very drunk one – was more than she could manage. It had taken four military policemen to break up the brawl, and in the process of them saving her ass she had mistakenly punched one of them in the face. She hadn't meant to, but her fist had already been in motion when the officer had stepped in front of her, so she had hit him. She had apologized afterwards, but it hadn't seemed to make much difference.
Kara didn't ever think she'd forget the feel of handcuffs as she was shoved into the back of the security transport. The damned things hurt. They were tight, and what was worse was that the pain seemed to take away some of the numbness that the alcohol had given her. She didn't like that one damned bit. Neither did she enjoy the hard stone floor of a brig cell. It wasn't that she hadn't spent her fair share of time there in the past – she'd never minded making a little trouble when the occasion called for it – but being with Zak had changed a lot of that. She had wanted his family to like her, and she hadn't thought routine imprisonment would bode well for such a goal. She had been a fairly upstanding little officer since she'd met Zak. Except that Zak was gone now, and so was her reason to stay out of trouble. Absently, she wondered if the stone floor was a preview of what the rest of her career would look like.
She was sober enough to think it, but not sober enough to care. Not yet, anyway. It didn't matter where she was. With Zak gone, nothing seemed to matter except the blanket of numbness that had begun fading all too quickly, only to be replaced by a more intense version of the pain than she had experienced before. Finally unable to stand it any longer, Kara had crawled over to the bed and had leaned back against it. With her knees pulled up to her chest, and her arms tightly wrapped around her legs, she had put her head down on her knees and closed her eyes, just wanting to make the pain go away.