Disclaimer: Not mine. Rating: No sex. A bit of violence. Harsh language (I feel an Aliens crossover coming on. Hicks meets Starbuck... oh, god, that would be hot.
Spoilers: All the way through Kobol 2.
Pairing: Helo/Boomer Genre: Angst, drama, etc.
Archive: Please ask Summary: She's trying to understand humanity, it's just taking a while.
Notes: This was supposed to be finished sometime... night before last? Something like that, to cheer Claira up. Unfortunately, I'm not sure this'll do the trick... Title stolen from Vienna Teng's "The Tower". (sheesh. And now 'Dare You to Move' is playing)

The One Who Survives
by ALC Punk!

"Starbuck, what the frak are you doing?"

"Dancing." Kara replied, twirling again, head back while the rain fell onto her cheeks.

"You're insane." Helo sniped. Then he sneezed, and wiped his nose with the back of his hand.

"You're just jealous and cranky because you have a cold," pointed out Starbuck, giggling madly as she cavorted.

Boomer watched them both, head tilted. Trying to understand humans.

"Yes! And it's raining, Starbuck!"

"I noticed, Helo. Isn't it beautiful?" Kara Thrace turned once more, staring up, her eyes blinking as the water fell into them.

"No. It's wet."

"Damn, Helo, you've obviously been stuck with that frakking Cylon for too long."

"She--" He stopped and shook his head.

From her position, Boomer wondered what Helo would have said. Of course, she could make guesses, but guesses required faith. And she doesn't have any.

"Oh, come ON, Helo, she's a frakking Cylon! She has no feelings to be hurt!"

But, oddly, Boomer thought she sensed a hollowness to Starbuck's words, and the woman herself had already turned away from them both.

"Yeah." The look Helo shot at her wasn't all that kind. The look he turned on Starbuck was worried.

Boomer thought Kara Thrace was brittle. Not that she knew what Kara Thrace was like, so she was taking her cues from Helo. Helo was treating Kara as if she were fragile and might break at any moment.

Like right then, as he watched her dance and twirl in the Caprican rain. As if he'd never seen her like that before.

"Starbuck?"

The pilot turned and came waltzing back. Even in the dim light from the moon obscured by clouds, Boomer could make out the bruises left on her face by Six. Six who was dead, skewered on her own arrogance. Boomer thought that was fitting.

"I just haven't seen rain in a while, y'know?" Starbuck was soaked, but grinning as she threw herself down on the ground.

"Hey, I get it. I think. You're just crazy."

She snorted, "Crazy enough to be glad to see your cranky ass."

Helo threw a pebble at her.

It struck Boomer that they were like children (not that she knew what children were like, but there was some part of her that was programmed to know). Bickering, laughing, teasing, and loving each other. She wondered if she was supposed to feel jealous of a human.

"How long has it been?"

They both turn to look at her, and Boomer remembered that her roll was not to talk. Not to exist, as far as they were concerned. Well, they could frak themselves if they thought she'd stay silent.

Besides, if Helo wanted her dead, she would be dead. He'd taken the gun from Starbuck, hadn't he?

Starbuck had wanted to shoot her, had screamed. Had... broken, in some way that Boomer didn't understand even as she could feel that she had done the same, that day in the woods.

Take him to the cabin, Six said.

And that was it. She couldn't do it anymore. Couldn't risk and plan, plot and connive. So she ran. And look where it got her. Nowhere.

"Three people won't fit in the raider," Starbuck said calmly, staring up at the ceiling above, the broken stone fixating her attention. As if that was the question Sharon had asked.

"We're not leaving her."

Unequivocal.

Starbuck snorted, "She's a frakking Cylon, Helo."

"You keep saying that. You think I don't know it? You think I'm blind, that I just keep her alive for shits and giggles, Starbuck?" His tone was completely even as he spoke.

"I think you think she's the mother of your frakking child, Helo. And I don't think you care that she's a security risk."

"I'll stay." She wasn't expecting the words to tumble out of her mouth until they did. Both of them turned their gazes to Boomer, and she wanted to take the words back, to go back in time and stop Helo from stopping Starbuck. So the decision doidn't have to be made. "It's not like you want me to live, anyway. And I'll die here just as fast as I would if you put me out an airlock."

"Good solution."

"No."

"Helo."

Boomer shook her head. "You'll have to shoot me."

"Fine." Starbuck rolled to her feet. "Helo, give me the gun."

"No."

"Helo!"

The rain was the only sound Boomer could hear, suddenly. The rain and the two of them breathing. Starbuck, with her arm out, hand reaching for something she thought was salvation. Helo, staring her down, waiting, his eyes full of something Boomer didn't understand.

And perhaps Kara Thrace didn't, either.

"How can you love it?"

"She's not an it."

"You didn't answer my question."

The hand was still out.

Helo shook his head, "I can't do it, Kara. I can't..."

"Karl. You're an officer in the Colonial Fleet, it is your frakking duty to kill this machine." Her words were clipped, her eyes dark.

"I was," he gave a half-laugh, "an officer in the Colonial Fleet. Haven't you noticed, Kara? There are no Twelve Colonies anymore. No government. Nothing but survivors and Cylons. And people too stupid to understand that they're frakked."

"You sound like frakking Zarek, Helo."

"I'll take that as a compliment."

"You would."

The hand dropped.

And Boomer saw something oddly wistful in Kara Thrace's eyes. "You're not coming back, are you."

"I... I can't leave her."

"You can't leave it." Starbuck corrected, her tone merciless.

"I can't leave Sharon."

Something blossomed in Boomer, warmth stole into her chest and her breath hitched. "You can't stay, Helo. They'll find you. They'll kill you."

"What about you?"

"I'm a lost cause."

"Helo, you cannot stay here and set up frakking house with a Cylon!"

Set up house. The words echoed in Boomer's ears. "Helo, you can't stay."

"I can't leave you."

"Please. For me. You have to go," she could feel the tears of frustration spilling down her cheeks and choked on a sob.

"No."

"Listen to the toaster, Helo."

It was the straw that broke the camel's back. Boomer could remember hearing that saying as a little girl (never was a little girl), and she watched in shock as Helo snapped before her eyes.

The gun in his hand was pointed unerringly at Starbuck. "And how do I know you're not a Cylon, Starbuck?"

"Don't be stupid, Helo."

"You came in a Cylon raider, Starbuck."

"And that proves it? Helo, the Cylon is sitting at your side!"

"How. Do. I. Know?"

Boomer marveled at his ability to bite the words off. To spit them at the woman standing across from him (feeling a hundred yards away, yet almost close enough to touch) with such venom that she stepped back.

"Frak this. You want to stay here and set up house with the little Cylon? Go right ahead. I'll make sure my report to Adama contains your defection."

"You never were a stickler for the rules, Starbuck."

She shrugged, "Stranger things have happened, Helo. Why, just last week, I heard Captain Apollo actually cracked a joke. Scared the flight crew right out of their pants, let me tell you. They were afraid if they didn't laugh he'd shoot them."

"Helo."

"Don't talk."

"She's not a Cylon."

"And you'd tell me the truth, of course."

The words bit deep, and she choked on a sob before replying, "You can't stay here."

"You're pregnant."

It took less than a second to grasp at the straw. "I lied. I lied, Helo. I'm not pregnant. I don't," her voice broke, "I don't love you."

He was staring at her, eyes blank. "You're lying again."

"No."

Starbuck snorted, "Someone get me a frakkin' tissue, I'm gonna cry in my popcorn here."

It was the distraction Boomer had been waiting for. He'd looked back at Starbuck, and the gun was down, pointed at the ground. She threw herself at him, grabbing, twisting, yanking (ignore the pain in your shoulder), and coming up triumphant. It took little time to look at Starbuck. "Take care of him."

The shot echoed so loud in her ears. Over and over, she could hear it. Could see Helo staring at her with horror.

Starbuck had nodded.

"Sharon! Oh, gods--shit!"

Hands pawed at her, and she was falling into the dark. Forever. Her eyes opened to look at him, and it was only then that the pain became real. "I--Helo--"

"Don't talk," he ordered.

"Love you." Boomer whispered.

And then Starbuck said, from so far away that Boomer wondered if she were on the other side of Caprica. "She's dead. She's dead, Helo. Frak. We have to go."

"I'm not leaving her."

"You have to."

f-