Disclaimer: Nope. Not mine. I just rent 'em on a weekly basis…
Authors note: I have other stories I'm trying to write, but Cally keeps talking to me…she mutters and whispers. Cally's a gossip and I can't shake her. Thank you Mother Goose for the Children's Poem. I think Cally is BSG's own perfect Tuesday's Child – grace under pressure.
…Right ascension 7h. declination 20 degrees…
"I think she's coming round again!"
"That's it. Stay with us."
All sound is reduced to a confusing buzz, and she can barely make out the coloured shapes moving before her.
"Her colour's bad, Lee."
"Shit. This bleeding won't stop…"
"I know…I know! I need you to press this down for me…"
"Damn it! I wish you hadn't killed that freak, then I could shoot him again!"
"Where's that damn medic!"
There's a vague recognition, the sounds and objects coalesce into people. There's a heaviness under her ribs and she's dimly aware of a cold tingling in her toes and fingers.
"Hey! Hey there Cally? You're doing great…just look at me kiddo. Focus on me, 'kay?"
She sees his face and grins.
"Troy. You are so fraked when Dad sees what you did to the truck."
"Bet you didn't even get to first base on your date!"
"What's she talking about?"
There's another voice again. A woman. "I don't know! I guess she's remembering something from her home…just keep her talking."
Her ankles are numb. There are hands on her shoulders, shaking her. She wants them to stop, but she can't reach them to push them away.
"Cally? That's right. Tell me again…what did I do to the truck!"
The coldness has moved up her legs. She wants to sleep. A part of her knows she'll feel warmer if she sleeps.
"Told you not to take it…you're so fraked…"
"C'mon. Cally! Keep talking…hey! No, don't you go to sleep! Frak you!"
"That's it. We can't wait anymore! We've gotta move her back to the ship, Lee. Lee!"
His hands are moving roughly across her body, seeking entry into her suit. It's an unwelcome intrusion, and she hates him for it.
She is fighting against the weight of him, her boots scrabbling against the thinness of the bunk, trying to gain some leverage. Her head is turned away from the wetness of his mouth, and she's clawing at his face, his hands, his skin, trying to force him off her. She's screaming profanities at him, screaming her revulsion for him at the top of her lungs.
She hears a ripping sound and his fingers are now inside her deck suit, prying at her skin through her tanks. The sensation registers in her nerve endings, ricochets up her spinal column and spears into some primal part of her brain. It transforms into pure rage, a compulsive automatic self-preservation. I would rather die here than accept this.
She bares her teeth, turns her face towards him and bites down hard…
There's a horrible sense of tearing, a ripping and then hot salty liquid floods into her mouth, spills down her chin. The screaming is coming from him now. She keeps pressing down with her teeth and twists her head sideways. There's a hideous sense of coming away and then whatever she's clamped onto detaches from his body, is released.
And he's dancing away from the bunk, clasping one hand against the side of his head where his ear was, blood's gushing out from under his fingers and he's yelping like a wounded dog.
"You bit me! You frakin' bitch! You bit me!"
Cally spits the remanent of flesh out of her mouth. Something like a wet giggle emits from her throat.
She's hiccuping with hysterical laughter and rage. "Come near me again, and I'll bite something else of!"
He points the gun at her and shoots…
…ruled by Mercury…
"I don't think I have your respect."
Fear and loathing leave a bitter residue in her mouth. She's tries for a neutral tone but fails.
"I respect you."
A rhythmic whisper kicks off in her mind, matching the staccato of her pulse. He's in the cell. He's in the cell. He's in the cell. He's in the cell.
Panic bubbles up in her chest, hot and caustic. It expands outwards, flowers, threatening to dissolve her outward calm, to reduce it to a helpless pleading. She weathers the internal storm, and her control holds. Instinct makes her sit up, as if by increasing her size she can somehow reduce this threat.
Cally rises to her feet before him. She tries extra hard to keep her expression bland when she looks at him, but it's difficult because she now both fears him and hates him in equal measure, and it shows on her face. She wishes she could hide it better, wishes she could make her features conform, but a part of her senses that it wouldn't make any difference. There's an internal instinct, that something is about to play out despite her best efforts.
"What are you doing?"
It's meant to be a challenge but the tone in Billy's voice is all wrong, the question stained with disbelief and apprehension. The air shifts, seems to still around the four of them, blanketing everything with an unnatural quiet, and for just an instance relief floods through her. For a heart beat she has a moment of hope that this madness that has captured her will stop.
So fast that she barely has time to register the movement, Mason raises his gun and points it at Billy's head. Billy's eyes widen and darken in the paleness of his face, becoming so large that she half expects to see herself reflected in them, and it's in that second that she knows with absolute clarity that she can abide anything if she only has to be responsible for herself, but that she couldn't cope if she ends up with Billy's blood on her hands as well. That sort of culpability would be too much to bear.
Cally forces herself to look into Billy's eyes, and shakes her head. No.
There's a sense that something horrible is about to happen, and she watches him almost visibly slump, diminished by his inability to prevent it. Raw fear and anger flash in his eyes, but he retreats back from the bars.
Mason notices the reaction and grins. He motions Cally towards the cell door with the gun.
His hands clasp the back of her neck, and his fingers are squeezing into her skin as he roughly pushes her down the cell block walkway. It's at this point that her mind starts racing. Oh Gods. Oh Gods. Oh Gods. Oh Gods.
She can hear her friends shouting hysterically, their voices rising with panic. Billy screaming for Apollo, his voice rising in pitch with an uncontrolled desperation, and now they're banging their hands against the cold grey bars, and the hollow ringing of the metal seems to match her footsteps as she's being forced away.
The last words she hears are Dee's, telling her that she's going to be okay - that they know where they are - that she's going to be okay. She tries hard to believe that it's true.
…house system Placidus…
Skimming above the surface of the floor, lying on her back seeing the lights race above her. Weightless. The sensation makes her think about the leaf boats she races with her brothers, through the eddies and mini rapids made by the rain. Mine's winning! Mine's winning!
Sounds and images are out of sync – either too loud or reduced to an unnatural hush. A disjointed skitter, gaps in the movie. Voices around her, hands brushing her, she tries to focus on their location, identify their owners, but she can't seem to focus. Detached.
"What happened down there?"
"Not now Chief…"
"Look at all the blood. Shit! Cally! What the hell happened!"
"I said…not now! You want to help! Then we need to move her – fast!"
Then there's a sensation of speed and spinning. She vaguely wonders why her face is wet – why she's crying.
His face is above her again, and it registers that the hand on her shoulder must be his.
"Almost there, Cally. Almost there…"
She manages to say something. It's important.
"It wasn't me…Troy did it."
"Shhhh – it's okay…"
"No! I told him it would rain…"
Someone is patting her shoulder, and he's telling her that she's brave and that's she's doing really well. Now there are new voices, a sense of new hands and something brighter than the sun shines into her eyes. Blinds her.
Something is placed on her face, and she feels a light cool sweetness on her cheeks, in her mouth…
"That's a girl. Breathe deeply. Nice deep breaths…"
…winter sky …
It's been at least 10 minutes.
Ten endless minutes of pointless 'conversation'. She's not even sure it warrants that description. It's all just a slow horrible countdown to this point in time.
"You smell nice…"
"Well, you don't..."
Her head whips back with the force of the slap. There's a copper taste in her mouth and she guesses that her teeth have cut the inside of her lip from the impact of his hand.
"Why can't you respect me?"
She can't think of a plausible lie to the question. The answer is so self-evident to her, she can't understand the point of him asking, so she bites her tongue and tries not to roll her eyes.
The silence extends, the seconds counting on. Some of her hair has come loose, and he moves his hand up to brush it off her cheek, she flinches and turns her head away from his fingers.
"I think you need to be taught a lesson in respect…"
She can't help herself, the words rush out. "You can't teach respect. You earn it…"
It makes him angry. He leans in towards her and hisses, "Well, that's how little you know! You will respect me - I can promise you that…"
She's vowed to herself that she'd be strong. Don't take any shit! But the pure malice radiating from him causes her to take a step back, away from him. Like some kind of horrible partnership in a dance, he counters her step with his own, and moves closer towards her.
This time when he reaches up to stroke her hair, her head remains still. She makes herself look over his shoulder – out, away – to focus on anything else in the distance, anything but the four walls of the cell he's forced her into. It's a terrible balancing act between asserting her existence and not provoking him, she doesn't know if the attempt will render any benefit, but she has no choice but to try.
"I'd like to go back to my friends now." She wishes it didn't sound like she was begging.
He ignores her.
"So…what is it that you do on the Gallactica, Cally?"
She's trying hard not to focus on the way he's playing with the strands of her hair. She tries to speak, but it comes out in a dry whisper.
"I'm a Crewman Specialist."
"You've got nice hair…it's red like a rose..."
She thinks to herself that he's wrong – her father always said her hair was golden like spring honey. She tells herself that she won't listen to him. He doesn't know her. He'll never get the chance to know her.
Her voice is louder now, desperate. "I'd like to go back to my friends. Now!"
"No. I think we'll be staying here a bit longer. We might have some fun…"
She's been scared before. It's something she's had to become very familiar with over the last however many weeks, months, since the first Cylon attack, but this feeling is new. It's a distillation of fear into its most potent and basic form - absolute terror. She's read about it in stories, seen it described like a flood of ice water, and she thinks how accurate a description that is. It catches her, overwhelms her, makes her breathless and weak. She hates herself for being like this, wishes she could be strong.
She tries to push past him, to make for the door. "No. I'd like to go. Now!"
He pushes her backwards towards the bars, closer to the bunk in the corner.
"I SAID! You're staying put!"
Cally hears a harsh sobbing sound and she registers that it's coming from her. She's been trained to handle herself in situations like this, all female recruits were, but preparing for a possibility as opposed to coping with a reality, are two different things. She forces herself to slow her breathing. Slow down. Think. Use your fear…I've been through the end of the world, I can survive anything…
And this realisation has a strangely calming affect on her.
Mason is edging towards her again. Approaching slowly, slowly, like one does to a cornered animal. "Just. Be nice. If you're nice to me, things will work out better for you."
She's already survived one apocalypse…she has nothing left to loose.
This time her voice is stronger, laced with hard emphasis. A warning…
"Touch me, and you'll be leaving here in a bag…"
It surprises him. He stops and laughs at her, motions at the bars around them, enclosing them. The gesture mocking.
"Really! What are you going to do - a little rose like you?"
"Roses have thorns…"
He takes a step closer, and leans in so that his face is above hers. She can feel the bloom of his stale breath on her face.
He smirks at her. "What can you do…?"
"Try me, and you'll find out…"
…classical element air…
"She bit my ear off!"
"Frak you! Frak you!" Her voice is shrill and hysterical. There's a metallic smell in the air, and she's guessing it's from the both of them. Sweat, fear and blood creating its own unique scent.
Apollo is outside the cell eyes wide, livid - shouting at Zarek. "You said they weren't animals! What do you call this!"
Her hands are pressed down hard against her stomach, but hot dark blood keeps flowing out from beneath, creating a rose print against the dark grey of her tank. She's hardly listening to the argument between the two men outside the bars, because Mason is still inside the cage. With her.
They're like two wounded animals baring their teeth at each other, energy almost spent, operating on sheer will power and desperation alone.
The bastard is crying and screaming, whining about how he's waited twenty years…twenty years!
She wants to scream at him "Hope it was worth the wait?", but she's watching the gun. He's hysterical and furious, and Zareks presence is providing the only slim control, but even that seems to be slipping fast.
"He's going to kill her! You do something!" Lee is screaming at the futility of the situation, and his inability to change it.
The adrenaline seems to be wearing down slightly now, and the pain from the stomach wound is increasing in amplification. Loud, insistent, thrumming through her body. She's finding it hard to catch her breath, it's coming in pants and she's trying not to moan from the pain. Failing miserably. Let this end. Let this end, soon…
As if hearing her silent request, Mason suddenly turns, raises the gun towards her. Points it at her head.
"You filthy bitch. You all deserve to die…"
It's not supposed to end like this. It's not supposed to end like this.
She's sobbing now, from the pain and terror. She can't bring herself to watch him, has to look away.
"You look at me! You see me – you look at me!"
It's too much. She's been so strong up till now, but she can't do it. She closes her eyes and waits for the impact…
She can't stop crying. The sobs are loud and ragged, and she wants to be strong but she can't hold back anymore.
He sits down beside her on the bunk, and gently pats her down, both as an act of reassurance and to check for other injuries. His jaw tightens as he takes in her ripped deck suit. He doesn't say anything, just carefully pulls the join back together, covering her tank.
His voice is carefully modulated. Calm. Quiet. Soft. "It's okay Cally. You're going to be okay."
She can't seem to stop nodding her head. She just stares at his face, seeking confirmation that it's all over. That his presence here is some kind of proof that it really has ended.
Her eyes flick towards the body on the ground and back to Apollo's. "He…he…he tried. I was so scared…" Her voice hiccups off to silence, she can't bring herself to articulate it.
"It's okay, I know. I know."
She's panting with pain, but makes another attempt, as if the process of talking about it reduces it to something containable.
"I bit his ear off…"
Lee smiles at her, and reaches up to wipe some of the tears off her cheek, and blood off her chin. "I know. You did good. You did real good."
"I bit his damn ear off…"
"Yes. You did."
Despite the pain, a pleasant weightlessness starts to extend out through her body. She smiles a bloody grin at him, and thinks that he's so nice. Wonders why she never realised how nice he is!
"I'm going to be okay, aren't I Lee?"
There's a vague feeling that she shouldn't be speaking to him like this, but she can't quite recall why not.
"You're going to be just fine, Cally. We've got you now."
"That's nice." Her eyelashes flutter against the paleness of her cheeks.
Something changes in his face. He leans in and studies her carefully.
"Cally…Hey, c'mon stay with me. Don't go to sleep…Cally!"
She hears him calling for a medic, and wonders who's sick…
…house in ascension…
It's quiet. Neither of them speaks, unsure where to begin. She runs her fingers across the crisp, roughness of the sheets, takes a breath and starts.
"I don't blame you."
He doesn't look at her. His posture is rigid. There's a sense of turmoil raging beneath this shell.
"I blame myself."
"It was a flawed plan.."
"I didn't fully assess the risks…and it cost you. It almost killed you. I almost killed you…"
It's too much. This burden of guilt he's assumed is pressing down on both of them. Crushing them. She severs his words off and her voice cuts like a whip.
"STOP IT! Just. Stop it…"
He starts at the sound. Blue eyes stare at her. Guilt engraved across the angular lines of his face.
She tries to sit up, but even with the drugs it hurts so bad she feels sick. So she leans back against the pillows, breathing hard and tries to make sense of it all.
"Risks come with the territory. It's just part of what we do."
"I should have planned it better. Had more numbers…"
She shakes her head in a hard 'no'. Looks down and realises that she's grabbed one of his hands. His skin is dry against her fingers.
"Listen to me! Just. Listen…"
It's difficult cos she hurts, and the drugs make everything fuzzy about the edges, but she tries to focus. Wants to get this right. Needs for him to understand.
"Don't accept responsibility for what he did. Nobody should."
"The person I blame is dead. He's dead…!"
And the words make something bubble up in her chest – a hot balloon of emotion. There's a sting in her eyes and she squeezes them shut for a second. Wonders at the endless wellspring of tears that seem to come upon her now at all times, that show not sign of ceasing.
She can feel his fingers squeezing her hand. Gentle. Soft. She takes a deep breath and exhales. Pushes all the feeling out with the air…releases it.
It's so final, and there's a sense of pure clear relief.
He nods his head, watches her face. "Yes. He is. I made sure."
She sees something like satisfaction pass across his features.
"I'm going to be okay." And she can taste the truth in the words as they spill out of her mouth.
"Yes. You are." There's a pause and the words seem to sink in. Like hard granite on wet earth, leaves an impression. This time the words are stronger…supported with a sense of belief. "You are!"
And she senses the shift in him, the release of something heavy. An imbalance righted. She squeezes his fingers, releases his hand.
They smile at each other, and she feels a sudden urge to laugh. Laugh out loud.
"Did I tell you that I bit his ear off, Sir?"