Far From Home
Rating: Mature, for descriptions of violence, language and sexual situations.
Spoilers: Through 'A Measure of Salvation", everything after that is AU.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: Helo is forced to take drastic measures to protect his family after a series of events aboard Galactica open his eyes to the reality he and Sharon face. Set after "A Measure of Salvation", it goes completely AU after that.
A/N: This if the first of seventeen chapters to the story, I'll be posting them as I finish them. Thanks to wintergreen126, jazmin22, and honibrownhateza for beta'ing this story.
"Did it work?" the brown haired man asked anxiously, pushing his glasses back up the bridge of his nose as he stared over his counterpart's shoulder. "Did it work?"
She lifted her hand from the water, light from beneath dancing across her chiseled features. "Yes," she replied.
The brown haired man watched intently, eyes darting back and forth furtively between her and the water. "Yes? Yes what?"
"It means, yes, it worked," she replied calmly. "It's done."
He lifted a finger to his lips and turned away as he thought through the infinite number of outcomes. "When will we know?" he asked.
"It's up to her," she answered.
"And until then?"
"Wait, is it?" he nodded, smiling sarcastically. "I've gotten quite good at that, I think."
"Patience, Gaius," she said, looking up from the lights. "Patience."
Blinking twice into the dim light of the room, Helo's mind was fully alert the moment his eyes had opened. It wasn't how he liked to wake up. He liked to take his time, gradually moving through the stages of consciousness, letting all the gears warm up before being put to use. It was a luxury he had been denied for too long, nearly everyday since he had met her. But now that he had found it again, its sudden absence unnerved him.
Before he could blink again, he knew what had woken him. Or rather, the lack of what that had woken him. The empty spot beside him on the inside the small bed was just that. Empty.
Pushing himself up on his elbows, he found her on the opposite side of the small room, kneeling in prayer, and he exhaled his first breath of the day. Dropping his head back onto the pillow, he closed his eyes, letting the abrupt rush of chemicals that signaled fear and relief fade from his system.
Turning onto his side, he opened his eyes and looked back to her. Dressed in standard issue tanks and slacks, her long hair hid her face completely from him. Silent and still she remained kneeling, hands on her thighs with her head slightly bowed as she faced the bare, steel wall. For a moment she reminded him of the marble servant statues that surrounded the temples of Geminon. He doubted she would appreciate the comparison.
"Good morning," he said quietly.
She turned slowly away from the wall, and met him with a smile. "Good morning," she replied
"Isn't there some way you can do that while staying in bed?" he asked, returning the smile. "It gets cold over here."
Standing up, she covered the short distance to the bed in three steps, and then threw a leg over his covered body, straddling him.
"There's something about being in this bed that makes me feel less than pious," she replied, leaning over and stealing a long kiss from him. "Something I like."
Her dark hair fell around her face and tickled his, forming a curtain that concealed their grins from the rest of the universe. Taking his turn, he lifted his head off the pillow, craning up to find her lips again. She met him half way, her cold dog tags brushing against his chest as her warm lips pressed against his.
Breaking the kiss, he let his head fall back to the pillow, enjoying every moment of her presence. He looked down at her dangling dog tags, then reached up and took them in his fingers to read the inscription. Lt. Agathon, S. 54125-21
"Have I ever told you how sexy you look in these?" he asked, his fingers still playing with the tags.
"Only every time you see them," she replied with a small laugh.
"You look so damn sexy in these," he repeated for good measure. And even if sexy conveyed only a fraction of what he felt, a sliver of the sentiment he harbored, he knew she understood the rest.
"Yeah?" she asked.
She leaned in closer, her lips coming to rest just centimeters from his ear as she gently pulled the tags from his fingers. "Then I better keep them out of sight," she whispered, lifting the tags then deftly tucking them into the top of her tanks and out of view. "At least until we have time to take care of any problems they might cause."
He reached for the bottom of her tanks, the knowledge of the tags new resting place doing little to curb his interest in them, but she was up and out of his reach before he could react.
"You've got twenty minutes, Captain," she said, tapping her wrist as she stepped away from the bed, still smiling. "I won't let you blame me for being late."
Looking down at his watch, he let out a resigned sigh, then pulled the covers off and swung his legs over the side of the bed.
He sat there for a few seconds, watching as she walked over to her locker and pulled out her flight suit. She looked it over carefully, smoothing out a crease that had developed in the sleeve overnight. It seemed everywhere he looked there was something to remind him how far they had come.
"You're not getting any cleaner sitting there," she commented, still examining the suit.
"Yes, sir," he laughed, pushing himself off the bed and heading into the tiny bathroom.
The spray from the shower was hot the moment he turned it on, and he silently thanked the admiral for the thousandth time. Stepping into the one-person stall, he let the water pour down and the steam rise up, thoughts of the coming day starting to trickle into his mind. Refueling was the order of the day, with half the fleet needing to be replenished. He had no doubt it would be a long and tedious shift, and the colonel's return to the CIC would only make it that much more so.
As he thought about it all, it seemed today was destined to join the growing number of days he would rather be on the flight roster.
He wiped the water from his eyes and ran his hands through his wet hair, pushing the thought from his mind. The colonel and the CAG could try all the wanted to make his life miserable. And all the leftover frakkers from Pegasus could say whatever they wanted; the Agathons weren't going anywhere.
Stepping from the shower she handed him his towel before he could grab it himself. Now dressed in her flight suit, she stared into an open binder, studying the contents intently as she paced across the room. Quickly toweling himself off, he threw on his uniform and ran a comb through his short hair. Snapping the last button on his jacket, he walked to where she stood and wrapped his arms around her from behind.
"Can I ask you something, Sharon?" he asked, resting his cheek on the top of her head.
"Hmmm?" she replied, not looking up from her binder.
"You've started praying again." He felt her stiffen in his arms slightly.
"Yeah," she answered after a pause.
"You got room for me in those prayers?"
She closed her binder and turned in his arms to look at him. "I hardly have room for anything but you," she replied.
"Not prayers for me," he corrected himself. "From me."
Her eyebrows arched in surprise. "From you?"
"I like to cover my bases," he said, smiling. "Just in case."
A small, genuine smile appeared on her lips. "Okay," she said with a nod. She studied him a moment, then stood up on her toes, and kissed him quickly on the cheek. Standing back down flat on her feet, she took his hand, and gestured towards the door. "You ready?"
"The Cylons jumped in here." Lee leaned over the table and pointed to a spot on the navigation charts. "Two raiders at the edge of the fleet."
"And then they ran," Colonel Tigh added from his seat beside Admiral Adama. Huddled around the wooden table in the admiral's office, Helo joined them in the analysis of their most recent encounter with the Cylons.
"Same as two days ago," Lee continued, shaking his head. "We chased them for five hundred clicks, and not once did they fire a shot."
The colonel looked up at the CAG through his one good eye. "Setting a trap."
"That's what it looked like. So I called off the pursuit when we got to the edge of Galactica's DRADIS sensors." Lee tilted his head and stared down at the charts, searching for something. "But it didn't feel like an ambush. Something was out of place."
All four men sat in silence as they each considered the evidence. And the longer Helo looked at, the more it made sense. From across the table the admiral's gaze came to rest on him.
"Captain?" the admiral prompted.
Helo straightened up in his chair and rubbed his chin in thought. "They're counting our guns," he said, looking around at the other men. For a moment he debated saying anything more, but the admiral's eyes told him more was needed. "That's what Sharon thinks."
"Counting our guns?" Lee asked, making no effort to hide his skepticism. "That's ridiculous. Why would the Cylons ever need to measure our strength? "
The automatic doubt was something Helo had grown used to since Lee and the colonel had returned to Galactica; it was a daily battle to make his voice heard. He turned to face Lee squarely.
"They know where we are. That's a fact." Helo leaned pointed to the map as he continued. "These patrols found us twice in the last seventy-two hours, and they had plan for what they were going to do when they did." He turned back toward the admiral who remained expressionless. "They had their chance to ambush us. They didn't. They had their chance to go after the heart of the fleet. They didn't."
The admiral digested the words before speaking. "Why?"
"I don't know." He and Sharon had talked into the night about why the Cylons might be watching instead of attacking, with no concrete answer to show for the lost sleep. "But Sharon thinks-"
"Sharon thinks, Sharon thinks," the colonel mocked, cutting him off. The hardened officer stared coldly at him. "And you Agathon, do you ever have an original thought?"
Ignoring Tigh's effort to goad him, he started again. "Sharon thinks we might be moving along a parallel path with the Cylon fleet." Leaning over the map, he drew a line with his finger to emphasize the point. "That's why they're having no problem finding us. And whatever they're doing, they're going to keep doing it until we stop them."
"So what then?" Lee asked, shaking his head. "We put patrols at the edge of DRADIS and hope to catch them when they jump in?"
"No," Helo replied. "They've already figured out how far we're willing to chase them. They know our limit." Reaching across the table, his long arms stretched out to circle three spots on the map. "We put patrols with Raptors out here, beyond Galactica's DRADIS sensors."
"Outside the DRADIS?" Tigh asked in shocked disbelief. "That's insane."
"The Cylons won't be looking for it, and we only need to catch them once." Helo ignored the other two men at the table, looking back at the admiral. "Then we tack back along our current course, and leave them wondering what the hell just happened."
"And if it is an ambush?" Lee asked, still shaking his head. "Then what, Karl?"
"I can't believe you're even suggesting this," Tigh added.
Helo kept his gaze on the admiral. "Admiral, if we don't force them to adjust, they'll force us to."
"Oh for frak's sake," the colonel exclaimed, throwing his hands in the air. "Save the home-spun Cylon wisdom for someone else, Agathon."
"If Sharon's wrong-" Lee started, but Helo cut him off.
"If Sharon's wrong, then-"
"Enough," the admiral said, bringing the discussion to a halt. The old man took a deep breath and pulled the map closer to his edge of the table. Studying it carefully, he removed his glasses, then looked back to his son. "Keep the CAP close to the fleet, maintain our usual patrol patterns," he said.
"Yes, sir," Lee replied, trying and failing to hide a small victory smile. Helo hoped he did a better job of concealing his own feelings at the moment.
The admiral set his glasses down on the table and stood up. "We'll re-evaluate in twenty-four hours. Dismissed." Helo pushed his chair away from the table, and stood up along with the other two men, but the admiral motioned for him to stay where he was. "Except you, Captain. We need to talk."
Remaining standing, Helo watched the other men leave, then looked back to the charts spread over the table. He sighed quietly as the admiral turned away, and took a slow, controlled breath; he found little consolation in knowing he had at least tried.
When the admiral stepped back, he placed two crystal glasses on the table, one in front of Helo and the other in front of himself. From a glass decanter he carefully poured a drink for each of them. Lifting his drink from the table, he motioned for Helo to do the same.
"It makes sense," the old-man said as Helo reached for his glass. The admiral looked at Helo then back down at the navigation charts. "And I agree. It's not enough to stay one step ahead."
Helo paused as the admiral took a sip of his drink, unsure what to make of the contradiction between the old man's orders a few moments ago and the words he had just heard.
"Don't let those two get to you. When they get over the source of the idea, they'll realize it too." The admiral turned to his desk and grabbed a folder from it, then sat back down at the large table, pointing at the chair across from him. "Take a seat."
As Helo sat down, the admiral pushed the folder across the table towards him. Taking another drink, the admiral watched Helo patiently. Helo looked down at the folder, nondescript in every way except for the presidential seal stamped on its cover. Pushing his drink to the side, he opened it and started to read.
Priority: Urgent –
Priority 1Flagged Was
the child capable of 'downloading'?
Subject: Human-Cylon Hybrid Background
Did the child at any time 'download'?
Was the child capable of 'downloading' after death?
Did the child 'download' after death?
Could the child-
the child capable of 'downloading'?
"What is this?" Helo asked.
"They're questions for Sharon," the admiral replied, shifting his gaze from his drink to spot across the room. "Written up by the president, and approved by me."
Still uncertain what to make of the document, Helo steeled himself, and opened the folder once again.
How many other attempts were made to breed cylons and
How many other attempts were made to mislead humans into breeding with cylons?
How many other attempts to mislead humans into breeding with cylons did you participate in?
Helo closed the folder again, unable to continue.
"What the frak is…" He stopped to in an attempt to cool the flare of resentment that the questions had sparked. The things he wanted to say, the words he wanted to scream, he would not level against this man; he didn't deserve them. "Our daughter is dead. Is this necessary?"
The admiral finally met his eyes, and behind the wire frames Helo could see a measure of his own pain in the old-man's eyes. "The president and I feel it's necessary to gain a deeper understanding of what the Cylons' objectives might be."
Helo shook his head, his brow furrowing in confusion. "It's been almost two years, sir."
"And we should have asked these questions then, Captain," the admiral said evenly, his expression once again becoming unreadable. "It's not enough to stay one step ahead, Captain. We need to understand why your daughter was so important to the Cylons. Sharon might be the only person that can help us do that."
As the old man emptied the last of his glass, Helo stared down at his own untouched drink, then back to the folder in front of him. He wasn't sure he could open it again, never mind subject Sharon to the contents. The room fell silent for a moment, each man keeping their thoughts to themselves, till the admiral spoke again.
"If you prefer, I can take these to her," he suggested soberly, but the offer only reignited the fires of indignation.
Helo shook his head. "No, sir." Standing up from the table, he picked up the folder and tucked it under his arm, eager to end the conversation before his emotions took stronger hold of him. "That won't be necessary."
The admiral remained seated and glanced over at the navigation charts, pulling one in front of him and starting at it. "I know how it feels," he said. "To lose a child."
Helo stared back in silence, his jaw tight.
"I know the wound never heals," the admiral continued, his eyes still avoiding Helo's. "I wouldn't ask this of you two unless it was important."
"Yes, sir," Helo replied, trying to keep his emotions in check as he felt the admiral's loss merge with his. "If you don't mind, sir, I need to see the chief before this shift ends,"
The admiral's eyes returned to Helo, and he looked as though he had more to say. But then he simply looked back down at the map before him, and nodded his head.
Turning sharply, Helo walked out of the admiral's quarters and into the crowded corridor. Looking both directions down the hallway, he took a deep, cleansing breath, and headed towards the flight deck.
The deck was crowded as always, the complement of two battlestars packed onto the single, aging Galactica. The lack of space had transformed the deck into place of pure pandemonium to the untrained eye, and a corner of controlled chaos to the trained one. Helo was here to find the man that somehow made it all work.
Scanning the deck he found the chief shaking his head in disgust at a deckhand. Helo couldn't make out the words over the cacophony of sounds that filled the hangar, but it seemed as though the deckhand was having a bad day too. Tyrol dismissed the berated man as Helo approached.
"Chief," Helo greeted as he approached
"Hey, Captain," Tyrol replied calmly, without a hint of the ire he had directed at the other man only a moment ago. "You're here for the fuel usage reports?"
"This way, Captain." Tyrol motioned with a gloved hand for Helo to follow him, and set off across the busy deck. Stepping over a stray piece of wire tubing, he looked back he looked back at Helo. "Excuse the mess, it's turning into one of those days."
"Tell me about-"
"One second, Captain," Tyrol said, cutting him off with a raised hand. Shaking his head he walked over to a deckhand working on a Viper. "What are you doing, Miller? What are you doing? You're gonna tear the pylon off doing that!"
"Sorry, Chief, I didn't-"
"Just hold the wing," Tyrol said, stepping under the wing and grabbing the ratchet from the man's hand.
"I got it," Helo offered, stepping up and bracing his arms against the Viper's starboard wing.
"Five seconds," the chief said, and a moment later the weight of the wing came down. Helo's arms and legs strained for a moment, but the chief was accurate in his prediction, and seconds later the weight was gone. Coming out from beneath the Viper, he handed the deckhand his ratchet. "No shortcuts, Miller. Get the frakking crane and do it right next time."
Tyrol looked back at Helo, his eyes wandering to a spot on his sleeve. Helo looked down to see a small smudge of grease on his jacket. The chief apologized. "Sorry about that Captain," he said.
"No worries," he replied, examining the sleeve. Executive Officers didn't get too many chances to get dirty; definitely one of the downsides of the job. "The fuel usage reports?" he prompted.
"Oh, yeah, sorry." Walking over to a nearby workbench, he picked up a stack of papers and handed them to Helo. "Here you go, Captain."
Helo flipped slowly through the reports, most of them as grease-stained as his jacket now was. The chief's handwriting was nearly illegible, with notes crammed into the tiny margins between each set of figures. It would take him hours to simply translate it all into something he could show the admiral, but he couldn't blame the chief. The man was busy.
"Something wrong, Captain?" Tyrol asked.
"No," Helo replied quickly. "Why do you ask?"
The chief shrugged, then turned to rest his back and elbows against the workbench. "You just look a little distracted, sir, that's all."
If the chief of all people thought he looked distracted, he couldn't argue. Letting out a long sigh, he continued to flip through the reports. "Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed, Chief."
"Some days?" the chief asked, with a smile. "I'm thinking it's more like most of them."
Letting out a short laugh, Helo set the reports back down. "How's Nick doing?"
"He's good," Tyrol replied, his smile growing. "Already knows how to drive his parents crazy, which just goes to show the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree."
"I'll bet," Helo said, smiling back. "How old is…"
Helo's voice trailed off as he watched as his wife walked mere meters in front of him. She hadn't seen him yet, and he most certainly hadn't expected to see her here.
"Sharon?" he asked in confusion. She turned at the sound of his voice, her expression of surprise matching his own. "What are you doing here?" he asked, handing the flask back to Tyrol and walking over to her.
"Hey, babe," she said, her look of surprise fading into something else. She stood still as he came near, then reached out to give his hand a small squeeze. "How's your day?"
"Sharon what are you doing here?" he asked, his own shock not fading in the least. It was the middle of her CAP, and here she was, standing in front him. "Why aren't you out there? Why aren't you on CAP?"
She thought about the answer for a second, and he knew from that alone that he wasn't going to like the answer. "I'm recalibrating the sensors on a Raptor."
He looked around trying to find Raptor 109, her assigned bird, but it was nowhere in sight. "Which one?"
Again she hesitated, obviously aware that her answer would not please him. "All of them."
"All of them?" he asked in utter disbelief, his voice rising slightly. "All of them? You're not flying at all?"
"Too many pilots, not enough birds," she said, shrugging her shoulders and glancing around the crowded deck. "You know how it is, babe."
"Yeah, I know," he replied, his eyes moving from one Raptor to another. "But all of them? That's ridiculous."
"I can do five of them in the time it takes one of you to do one," she said with a teasing smile. "It's not that bad, Helo. You should see some of the stuff Apollo has the spare ECOs doing."
"Yeah," he relented, his eyes moving across the deck, seeing a sea of unfamiliar faces. The work might not be bad, but he couldn't help feeling she was safer out there than she was in here.
"Helo," Sharon said, reaching out to take his arm. When he didn't look back at her, she tugged him gently till he did. Her dark eyes were full of patience. "This is not a big deal."
"I know," he said, nodding his head. "It's just that-"
"It's not," she said quickly, her eyes imploring him to hear her. She squeezed his arm again and took a half a step closer, lowering her voice to a near whisper. "It's not important, Helo."
"How long?" he asked, trying his best to mirror her tone. "How long have you been single-handedly recalibrating these Raptors?"
Smiling up at him, she shook her head and leaned in close, her body pressing lightly against his.
"I've gotta get this finished, babe," she said, pointing to a nearby Raptor. She gave his hand a series of small squeezes to tell him everything was alright, and then stepped away. "I'll see you at the end of the shift, okay?"
Knowing Sharon, and knowing he would get no further, he relented. "Okay." With a final smile, she turned and walked away.
With a deep breath, he tried to remember what he was doing, and forget about what he wanted to do to the man that had assigned her down here. Recalling why he'd come down to the deck in the first place, he turned to look for the fuel reports, and found the chief still watching him.
"Everything alright, Captain?" Tyrol asked.
He walked over to pick up the papers he had left on the workbench, shaking his head, then stopped, and looked at the chief. With his orange jump-suit, steel-toed boots and heavy work gloves, the CPO offered a stark contrast to Helo's own pressed uniform. But nonetheless, Galen Tyrol understood.
They weren't friends, they never would be; too much had transpired. But there was a level of respect, trust, and understanding that they would always share, even if they each envied the other in their own ways.
"How many days has she been down here, Chief?"
Tyrol shook his head as he thought about it. "I don't know," he said, squinting his eyes in thought. "A week at least?"
Helo bit down hard on the inside of his cheek. Looking around the crowded hangar, he couldn't put names to more than half of the faces he saw. He doubted any of them knew, or cared, why the Cylon working beside them was different than all the others.
All of them had a grudge, and it would take only one to end everything.
"Chief, I need to ask a favor."
Tyrol shook his head. "I've got it covered, Captain." The chief scanned the deck the same as Helo had a moment before. "This is my shop. Nothing's going to happen to her here."
With a small nod, Helo took a last glance around the hangar. He knew the chief would watch out for her. There was no doubt about that. But the fact that he even needed to, said more than Helo wanted to think about today.
A few hours later he walked slowly down the corridor leading away from the flight deck, Sharon walking beside him. The day had only grown worse as it had gone on, a confrontation with Lee outside the CIC marking the end his shift.
Neither Helo nor Sharon spoke as they made their way towards the residential area of the ship, both keeping their weary eyes on the ground in front of them. All he wanted was for the day to end, and from the look on his wife's face, he knew she felt the same. Whatever she might say to him about the work the CAG had given her, he knew that the stream of subtle insults she endured took their toll.
"You should have told me," he said as they made the last turn towards their quarters.
"What would you have done?" she asked without looking up.
He couldn't supply a good answer to the question, mainly because one didn't exist. There wasn't a lot he could have done, except maybe complain to the Admiral. But that wasn't how they did things, and it certainly wasn't what she wanted.
"I just worry," he replied.
"I don't want you to worry," she said. "That's why I didn't say anything."
She reached out and grabbed the handle on the door to their quarters, punching in the access code, and the pulling it open.
"I worry when you don't tell me things," he said stoically. He didn't have any emotion left for the day. "That you don't tell me things when they might worry me."
Stepping through the doorway, she walked over to her locker as he shut the door behind them.
"Yeah," she said quietly.
He made his way to the bed and sat down, unsnapping the buttons on his jacket. Pulling it off, he noticed again the small grease stain left from earlier in the day. He threw it onto a nearby chair as Sharon stepped out of her flight-suit and headed to the bathroom, discarding the rest of her cloths as she turned on the shower and stepped inside. The sound of the falling water echoed loudly through the tiny room, the pitch changing occasionally as she moved under the spray.
Alone in the room, he spotted the folder the admiral had given him earlier in the day. He stared at it as he took off his shoes and tucked them under the bed. Opening the drawer on the nightstand, he grabbed the folder and threw it in, then shut the drawer quietly. If they wanted answers to their questions, they would have to wait till another day.
He pulled a pillow under his head and lay back, listening to the white-noise that filled the room. Resting a hand against his forehead, he closed his eyes, and took a deep breath as he contemplated not moving from that spot for the rest of the night.
Instead he stood up, and made his way over the shower, lifting his tanks over his head and pushing his slacks to the floor before stepping in to join his wife.
Sharon quickly made room for him in the ostensibly one-person shower. Pressed against the cold metal walls and each others warm bodies, the hot water poured between them. Holding each other for comfort as well as necessity, the steam rose up around them.
"I wasn't sure you'd make it," she said.
"I can't resist the dog tags," he replied, leaning over through the spray to kiss her.
"I hope not," she said as his lips left hers, resting her cheek against his chest.
For a few minutes they simply stood there in each others embrace, doing nothing but letting the water and steam clean the day off of them. He couldn't remember the last time he felt so tired.
"Long day," he said.
"Yeah," she agreed, still resting her head against him. "But it beats running from centurions and sleeping in the rain."
"Yeah," he replied with a small laugh, his thoughts returning to their time on Caprica. "I guess."
"This is what we wanted, Helo," she said, turning to kiss his neck once, then again. "You're where you want to be, and I'm where I want to be."
Her lips made their way across his collar bone, leaving a trail of kisses in their wake, and slowly his thoughts and worries slipped away with the water that fell off them. Gently pushing her against the wall with his body, his lips and hands began a journey of their own, leaving the day forgotten.