Set: Late season three.
Song: Hammond Song ; Artist: The Roches Archive: please ask.
Notes: Originally for the Lyrics Wheel, but I got distracted and wrote something else for it... I have no idea why I'm writing Tarrant. disturbed
The Line Falls Apart
by ALC Punk!
"Come on, you're lying to me."
"Are you sure about that?" Cally's tone is scornful.
Tarrant feels himself out-matched, and backs away from her, even though he has the reach of her (and more--and wonders if this is a mental illusion). "You went there, alone, Cally. You must have something to report."
"And I already told you, I don't." She snaps, moving away from him and across the flight deck towards Zen.
This was not how it happened.
"Don't, or don't want to?" And now the scorn is in his tone as he stands and steps towards her, determined to shake the answers out of her.
She whirls, and the movement melts her away into nothing. Tarrant stares at the empty space in front of Zen, unable to comprehend what he's just seen. Cally, disappearing, Cally melting, Cally, her eyes so blue. Bluer than the skies he'd flown through, flown under when he was a measly transport pilot. Bluer than the dress Camilla had worn before she danced away on the Federation officer's arm.
"Just a pilot, aren't you?" She'd called, tone scornful.
"I suppose we need him. As a pilot." Cally had said that, to Avon. The two had been walking past Tarrant's quarters, unaware he listened to their quiet conversation. As if the Auron girl were any better or more useful than he. A qualified pilot, and she didn't want him there.
This is not how it happened.
"I'm not lying, Tarrant."
Cally again, only this time she is sitting on the couch, knees drawn to her chest, eyes haunted. "The things..."
And her flinch is almost real.
"Attention," Zen's voice sounds distorted. "Attention, alien life form--"
Tarrant's seen photographs, images of old-Earth, people and places who had no cares in the world as they danced the night away under a sea of glittering stars.
He's burned them for fuel, the fire so low his lips nearly froze.
The Liberator melts away, bubbling off into the ether.
"Such an intriguing mind, so... rakish and yet so very unsure of itself." The voice is professional, cold. "Clinical examination proves it has little value, although the body could be useful as a servitor."
Not how it happened.
"Ultraworld is a death trap."
It doesn't matter, suddenly, none of it matters, because none of it is real. Can't be real (shouldn't be real, and he could fall a thousand stories, but no skyscrapers exist on Earth anymore, only domes. Domes so high they touch the sky).
"I just heard something about pets."
Alien, he thinks, staring at Cally as she talks to Dayna, her eyes distant and cold. So alien, he's barely sure he understands her. But he doesn't think she really wants him to. She likes her secrets, likes pretending that she's as open as they come. That she's simple and compassionate. But sometimes, he watches her slip, watches something clinical settle on her features.
"I'm not quite human." He watches her snap at Avon, and almost moves after her, but is stopped by Avon's hubris.
By their hubris, if he's being honest with himself.
And Tarrant is always honest, except when he needs to lie.
"I could crush you so easily, Tarrant. One gentle twist of my brain, and you would die. It would look so very natural, just fell asleep too long." Cally leans close, her breath tickling his cheek. "Would you like that, Tarrant?"
"I want you to wake up screaming."
How it happened.
"Goodbye, brother." He walks over Vinnie's empty space, enjoys the smell of burnt plastic and metal in the air. Knows that his vengeance wasn't cold enough. "I shouldn't have hesitated. Not like you. I should have been better."
He should have insisted on seeing Deeta, before the fight. Before his death.
There are many things he should have done.
Tarrant wakes up sweating.
He doesn't remember falling asleep. And there's something on his forehead. A quick swipe, and he's staring at the small green disc, edges biting into his hand as he unconsciously clenches it into a fist.
"Deeta." The word is said carefully as he stands and places the disc on the small shelf above his pillow. "I'm sorry I never told you..."
Even now, standing in the night-cycle of the Liberator, Tarrant can't quite say it.
A soft sound outside his door distracts him, and a voice calls quietly: "Tarrant?"
He's opening the door to Cally before he can consider her starring role in his dreams, staring at her dark eyes without comprehension as she reaches out and touches his shoulder. "Cally--"
"I heard you," she says softly, stepping into his quarters and closing the door.
"Heard me?" He backs into the wall, and she stays by the door as if understanding the implication that he feels like a trapped animal, but then, she does read minds, doesn't she. "I don't--"
"You have a sensor net in your head. Like your brother. It amplifies heightened emotion, especially during the sleep cycle. I heard you." She repeats.
"No, I--" The lie stops itself, and he looks down at his clenched hands. "It was one of the reasons I left the Federation Academy."
"New pilots were being implanted with them, in the hopes that they would be able to have their training accelerated." Her voice is still soft, "I came across the program description when Blake was still on board."
"You were bored, maybe?" He can't help the sarcastic edge.
"I was. I needed..." She stops, and it's her turn to look away.
She doesn't want to reply, and forces lightness into her tone, "I was interested in the Federation's training methods."
"You're lying, Cally."
She makes a move as if to leave, and then stops and her voice is calm as she says, "We thought we could use the pilots' sensor nets against them. Jam the signals, and produce an electronic short."
"In effect, you'd kill them."
"Or worse. They'd be brain-dead, unable to function at a basic level."
She meets his gaze without flinching, "We were at war, Tarrant. We thought we had the right."
"And you're still at war, aren't you? It's the only purpose you have. Your people are dead, your cause is dead, but you're still fighting it."
"What makes you bleed, Cally?" He knows it's a cruel question to ask, but he feels as if she owes him. Something for interrupting his dreams, for being in them too much (maybe too little).
She opens the door, and he lets her, not caring if she answers.
And when she does, he wonders if he heard her right. But she's gone before he can make certain. And he knows she'll never speak of it again.
He thinks he can understand that, as he pulls on his boots. He feels the same, at times. Moving towards his door, he wonders if he can run the entire ship enough to drive his mind into exhaustion. It's the only way he'll ever get back to sleep.