For notes, warnings and disclaimers, see chapter 1.
As soon as my shift is over I all but run out of the CIC, desperate to get away from the prying eyes, and not particularly caring about where I am going. Being there... it was bad, worse than I had been expecting it to be, but at least it is over. Yes, I know I'll have to go back eventually, but the first time is behind me. That is a relief.
Needing a chance to clear my head before returning to my quarters, where I am fairly certain Lee is going to be waiting for me, I keep wandering the corridors of the Galactica, reconnecting with the place for the first time since I left her to settle on that rock... and for the first time since I left I actually feel like I am home. I guess that is not surprising, not considering that this is my home, the only real home I have ever had.
I close my eyes for a moment and rest my forehead against one of her walls, just feeling the hull's all but imperceptible vibration. It is like a hum in the back of my mind, as familiar to me as my own breathing, though all of a sudden I realize that there is something different about it too, that even that has changed. It is not something I can easily put into words, the change is too subtle for that, but for a moment I can almost feel the ship's exhaustion, I feel it almost as if it were my own. The old girl is tired too, she is scarred like me, but she is still here, still going.
She has been through a lot, and so have I.
For a moment I allow myself to remember, fighting back the urge to shy away from the memories. Remember, that is yet another thing I haven't really allowed myself to do since my return. It's not just that the memories are terrifying, though that is most definitely part of it, it is also that I couldn't, not with Lee, Cottle and the Old Man all pushing for answers. The problem is that almost as soon as I open the gates for the memories they oblige and come flooding back, threatening to overwhelm me once more. It's a mess inside my head with my mom, Jonas, Leoben, Simon and even Kacey all vying for attention. There are too many of them in there but in spite of that I have to regain some semblance of control.
I decide to tackle them one at a time. My mom and Jonas are relatively easy. They are dead, they can't hurt me any more and I know it. The cylons are a far more difficult proposition. They are still out there, they are still a threat, and that means I can't quite vanquish them from my mind. I turn my attention back to what happened in that apartment... to what Leoben did to me. He hurt me, he frakked with my mind and I let him... that is the worst part: not so much what he did but rather that I actually fell for it. In one way or another, in the end I did exactly what he wanted me to. In the end it is not the physical aspect of things that really gets to me, though that is what everyone seems to be focused on. I've tried to tell them that what Leoben did to me doesn't matter, but they just won't listen. Whenever I try they just give me these looks that are full of pity, like I am in denial, and then they go back to asking the same idiotic questions over and over again... questions I already know I can't answer without causing those pitying looks to get even worse. For a moment my mind flashes back to one of the things Cottle told me back at the beginning, one I had managed to put out of my mind up until now... that Simon had harvested some of my eggs. That is one I don't even want to think about, but I know I have to because it means that there is a very real possibility that this one is far from over. Someday I may even find myself fighting my own child.
That is a disturbing proposition, but even if it doesn't come to that the thought that they may actually succeed, that even after I thought I had managed to get away they may still get to breed a baby out of what they stole from me is enough to make me sick.
Funny, I never wanted kids, the mere thought used to be enough to cause me to break into a cold sweat, but now it frightens me for a completely different reason. Leave it to the frakking cylons to make me realize that I do have a maternal instinct after all.
I am still thinking about that when I realize where it is that my feet are actually taking me: Camp Oilslick. I stop cold at that, and for a moment I consider the possibility of turning back, of running in the opposite direction, but where am I going to go? No, it doesn't have to be today, but this is something I am going to have to do sooner or later. There is someone there I owe an apology to, even though I know there is no way she is going to be able to understand, that there is no way I can explain. I remember how I reacted the last time I saw her, how I pushed her away when she came looking for me. Well, I am done hiding and I know I deserve it... I know I screwed up and putting it off is unlikely to change that, so I walk into the hangar. I haven't been here before, and I am appalled by how people are living... by how she is living. They are crammed like cattle, with little hope and nothing to do, just staying alive. In a way they are no better off than prisoners, and in spite of that I know that those on board of the Galactica are better off than most. I look around, still trying to find her, but there are so many people just milling around that I am completely overwhelmed.
I don't know how long I spend looking for her, all I know is that I am on the brink of giving up when I hear a familiar voice saying 'Kawa', and I can barely turn around before I feel her attach herself to my leg, just like that... no anger, no questions, no recriminations. The realization that she truly doesn't hate me takes me completely aback, and then, before I realize what I'm doing, I find myself prying her arms away, bending down so that I am at her level and then I am picking her up. As I do so my eyes fall on Julia. She is looking at me, the wariness apparent in her eyes. I nod, silently acknowledging her concerns, and she relaxes a little.
It is not much, but it is something -a small respite in a war I know I'll be waging for as long as I live- and for the time being it will just have to do.
Author's notes: Okay guys, this is it. After more than five years this story is officially complete. Was this the ending I had in mind from the beginning? In a way, the ending itself is the same, but I admit that there were some detours along the way... and a number of scenes that were dropped (otherwise it would have taken me ten years to finish this thing). Anyway, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for sticking with me for this long. I really appreciate it. So thanks for reading, and reviewing.