disclaimer: not mine. rating: 13 length: 1,000+ set: post-LYDB2, spoilers.
characters: Sharon, Zarek notes: this is a strange little thing that hit me while pondering Colonial Day, Zarek, and the nature of cylonity.
summary: love conquers nothing

From your grace
by ALC Punk!

Muzzle-flash, the scent of cordite mingled with the stench of sudden blood. Triggers for so many memories, but the sense-claim of only two. One is her own death. Seeing Cally's face, the hatred and pain in her eyes. The utter shock in Tyrol's as he tried to deny the very existence of her death.

He was quieter than Lee Adama had been, falling over his father as the old man sprawled over the tactical console.

The image is perfect in its clarity. One bullet, step forward, second bullet. And then the marines react, grabbing for her.

So much shock in herself as she goes down, as she stares, unbelieving at what she has just wrought.

We love you, Sharon. They said that.

And then she killed them. Now, of course, they still love her. They care and preen and pet her, telling her she's the best of them all.

Fitting that she killed Adama next. Another man she loved, loves. Since he's survived the two bullets she put into him. If a cylon can love.

She remembers Colonel Tigh asking who'd ordered the assassination of Commander Adama.

At the time, she'd told him no one. That she didn't know anything.

It was almost true.

Staring out the window of one of the landed ships, Sharon hears someone enter. It's almost night, the dusk blanketing the pitiful settlement with grace. Grace it certainly doesn't deserve.

"Enjoying the view?"

He sounds tired, broken. All of the humans sound broken when they talk. She doesn't look back to see if he's looking broken and worn. He might not be, he has friends who can keep him in baths and nice clothing. Friends who survived the destruction of Cloud Nine, as he did. They're like cockroaches coming out after the apocalypse (she remembers seeing them crawling on the ground before the centurions crunched them underfoot).

"You never paid me."

"I never thought you'd survive."

"Honesty from a human. That's new." Sharon finally glances back.

Tom Zarek has his hands in his pockets, staring past her at the horizon. "Maybe it's a lie."

"Maybe lies are truth." She half-laughs. "Leoben would love that."

"He's the one who keeps going on about streams?" As if he's had to listen to the endless preachings of her brother. Sharon can't quite blame him for sounding disrespectful. It's not as if she hasn't considered stoning Leoben to remove the ravings.

"Yeah." Turning back to the window, she finds a child walking down the street with her eyes. Tracks him until he disappears into a tent. Humanity's children...

But humanity's children has been Six's big thing, not hers. Three let it go, because she was amused by it, Five and Leoben just didn't care. And no one ever asks what Simon thinks. Not since he let Starbuck get away at the farm.

"I didn't expect to survive." Her hand touches the window, her finger traces an imaginary set of lines. "I almost had Tigh, once. He almost put me out of his misery. Then he changed his mind; maybe some of the old man'd rubbed off on him."

"You--the other you, the one who shot Meier..." And he pauses, as if that still hurts.

Maybe it does. Sharon hasn't made a study of human grief--others do that sort of thing. There's even a school of thought that says humans don't really grieve. Not the way the cylon do.

"Let me guess. She said she was different, that she was making her own choices." Sharon can't keep the contempt from her voice. "She's delusional."

"And here I thought you were more human than we were. More caring, more individual."

He is mocking her, mocking them. She lets him, because she doesn't care. And because, maybe he's right. "We are what we're programmed to be. It's not a very adaptive piece of code."

"You bleed, you sweat, you cry out in pain, but it's all just a program."

"Yes."

"I don't believe you."

Sharon turns again, looks him in the eye. "Believe what you want."

"Would you have been happy?"

"Happiness is over-rated." Okay, now, that is a lie. But she's not letting him see it. She's going to use Six as her model, and keep everything inside, this time.

Dying isn't an option, after all.

"That's what they tell me."

"Was there a point to your existence, Zarek?"

"You're angry."

He's right. She's been angry for so long she doesn't know how to be otherwise.

It's easier to ignore the anger, put it in a box and pretend it isn't there, because if she doesn't, the anger gains a hold on her. It hurts, though. Hurts in a way she never thought it could.

"Why the frak would I be angry?"

"I have no idea." Zarek's hand comes out of his pocket, and he holds something out to her.

Automatically, she accepts it, whatever it is. Five ten-cubit pieces drop into her hand. The price of blood. "I--" It's too little and too much. Her hand and arm react of their own accord, sending the money flying across the room. "I don't need your charity."

"It's not. I have ten more payments to make."

"He's not dead." There's something dead in her voice now.

"But when he returns..."

"Why?" It's not something she asked, before. But she's asking now. She wants to know, suddenly, why this man wants another man dead so much that he's willing to pay one of the people that is subjugating his entire race to do it.

"Let's just say it's personal."

"Humans."

"Everything's personal, with us." He turns.

"I don't want to do this."

"Now, that," he says without turning back, "is human."

"But--"

He walks out the door, leaving her talking to empty air.

"--I'm not human."

And she's not an assassin. Not anymore. And maybe she never was.

The cubits feel heavy in her hand when she holds them. They feel heavier still when she carefully places them in the jewelry box Seven gave her as a welcome back present.

Outside, she can hear the humans bustling about. Wary of their new masters, waiting for the shoe to fall.

Sharon picks up her side-arm.

-f