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Author: JPBryant
Characters: Sharon/Helo
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: After rescuing Hera from the Cylons, Helo and Sharon try to start a new life. Set after "A Measure of Salvation", it goes completely AU after that.
A/N: The twelfth of seventeen chapters to the story, I'll be posting them as I finish them. Thanks to wintergreen126, Lightn, and Jazmin22 - I can't thank them enough for all the time they put into helping me with this.

Chapter 12

The wind blew viciously across the peak of the mountain, the temperature falling far below freezing.

He wasn't sure how long he had been there, alone, kneeling before the mound of loose dirt. Hours maybe. A rock beneath his knee dug into him as he stared silently at the small pieces of granite he had arranged around the mound.

He had been here before. Saying goodbye to his child.

But there would be no reprieve this time. No one to tell him his daughter still lived. No second chance.

No chance to put things right.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, the wind taking the words from his lips before they made a sound. His tears fell steadily down his cheeks, and the wind took those as well.

There was no marker beyond the small cairn he had built at the foot of her grave. There hadn't been time for anything more. She had needed a burial, and Sharon had needed him.

"I'll be back, Hestia," he promised. The name felt right coming off his tongue, and he wished she had heard him say it. Just once. "As soon as I can, I'll be back."

Leaning over, he placed a piece of rose quarts at the base of the cairn. A gift received from one daughter, and given to another.

---

He sat alone at the bottom of the stairs, trying to compose himself. Ten feet above him Sharon lay in bed recovering, waiting. The bowl of canned fruit and glass of water he was bringing her were sitting on the step beside him.

Resting his elbows on his knees, he pressed the palms of his hands into his eyes and took a deep breath. He needed this moment before he could face her pain, before he could try and take some of it from her. Clearing his throat, he cleared his eyes to make sure there were no tears for her to see.

"Hey," he said as he carried her breakfast into the room.

She rested on her side, facing the wall, her tired eyes staring vacantly ahead. Her hands were tucked beneath her cheek, and her dark hair laid flat against the white pillow. Across the room Hera sat in her bed and stared out the window.

"I brought breakfast," he said, sitting down in the chair beside their bed.

She turned onto her back to look at him as he set the food and water down on the night stand. He reached out to take her hand, and smiled softly at her. When he did, he thought he saw the faintest hint of a smile on her lips as well, but it was gone a moment later.

"I've got a fire going downstairs," he said. "It should help warm things up a bit. It might take a while, but I'll keep it going till it does."

Her brown eyes stayed fixed on his without expression, but she didn't reply.

"We have enough food to last us at least a month now," he continued. "I think that we should be able to..."

He stopped as a tear streaked down her face, followed by another on the opposite cheek. She stared up at him as more threatened to fall.

"I can't do this, Helo," she said softly.

"It's okay," he said, leaning in closer and squeezing her hand. "It's okay, Sharon."

She closed her eyes and shook her head slowly. "I can't do this alone," she said. "Not again."

"Sharon, I'm right here," he said, reaching up to wipe away her tears. "I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere."

"But you're not with me," she replied. "You're somewhere else."

"Sharon-"

"You're trying to be strong for me," she continued, smiling through her tears for him. "Just like you were with Hera."

"Sharon, I..."

He closed his eyes and looked to the ground. He had spent so long hiding his pain from her, it came as second nature. He couldn't count how many times had he left her cell after Hera's death, only to cry in the privacy of his own bunk.

Tears verged on his lids as he thought about how he had done the same for the past three days.

"I...I don't..."

"But I don't need you to be strong for me." She squeezed his hand gently, urging him to look back at her. As he did, the first tear he had let her see fell to the wooden floor. "I need you to tell me I'm not alone," she whispered.

He couldn't see her through the tears collecting in his eyes.

"You're not alone," he said, his voice cracking as he pressed his face into the bed covers and cried for the little girl he would never know. Her hand rested on the back of his neck as he sobbed into the blanket, his body shaking as he wished for what might have been.

--- End Chapter 12 and Part 2 ---