Spoilers: through season three Pairings: Kara Thrace/Sam Anders, Diana Seelix/Sam Anders, Kara Thrace/Lee Adama length: 3,600+ Genre: er... angst? Action. some adventure.
Rating: PG13/R, violence, language, some sexual situations, adult situations Notes: This isn't exactly coherent, and it was, at one point, peppered with songlyrics. But I checked the formatting, and, sadly, they didn't work. So. There's also some stuff in here that I considered scrapping after a discussion with lizardbethj, but... perhaps I've read too many bad novels, but it still fits, in some ways. So it stayed. Title is from Prayer of the Refugee by Rise Against
Broken Windows and Ashes by ALC Punk!
They took away safety. Sam Anders stands on a rise above Delphi, and watches through binoculars as the toasters pile the dead. The smoke from the fires is already thick in the air, reaching even into the mountains--though the foothills they're standing on are quite a bit lower than their base camp--and he can taste the acrid stench at the back of his throat.
"What do we do?" The question is rhetorical, but Sue-Shaun asks it anyway. They're all a little afraid, a little awed at the destruction.
They're human, it's not hard to be afraid of such relentlessness.
"We need weapons," Sam says, thinking aloud and planning at the same time, "And anti-radiation meds, otherwise, we're lookin' at being damned sick pretty soon."
"There are some, at the ranger station." Nina Wilson is their guide to all things mountain, but she looks small against these kind of odds.
Sam's actually surprised she's still around, but he figures she doesn't have anywhere to go. Yet. "Right. Morris, Grip-Key, Sue-Shaun, Wilson, you're with me. The rest of you get back to the cabin and try to be inconspicuous."
"It's not close."
"Then we'll get in our daily allotment of walking," Sam replies.
Halfway there, they pick up a stray, a man who calls himself Ray. Sam lets him tag along, figuring it won't matter. Not yet. Ray makes a good packhorse and he never asks to take one of the hunting rifles they find.
They pick the ranger station clean, dividing everything up and hauling it back the way they came. They take every map they can find, and Wilson says when they need to, they can hit another station. There won't be enough, Sam figures, but they'll do, for now.
His brain is trying to work out how they're going to survive in the aftermath. How they'll cope with living day to day with nothing to do, no pyramid to play, nothing to fight.
And he's thinking that, maybe, they will fight.
It doesn't take them long to start accumulating more survivors, and some of them even bring supplies to add to their meager stores. People who were in the mountains, people who came to the mountains, people who were spelunking or backpacking. Half a dozen reasons, and Sam isn't quite sure why they all focus on the tents that are slowly accumulating. He worries it's like a homing beacon to the toasters, even though they're not doing anything against them.
Sam has plans. Plans that Barolay and Sue-Shaun and Grip-Key agree with. Plans that might bring the toasters right down on their heads. But then, they started it.
The first time Leoben Conoy opens his mouth, it's to mock Sue-Shaun for her reaction time. He congratulates Grip-Key on having his gun up, though, and the others relax. Sam doesn't. There's something about the facile grin on the man's lips that reminds him of the worst kind of interviewer: the kind that wanted you to fail.
But they're still too new at this game to be suspicious enough, and Sam lets them bring the guy back to their camp. There's already a good twenty people congregating by the cabins and tents.
Sam figures, once they've organized a little more, they can start doing useful things. Like getting anti-radiation meds from more dangerous places than derelict ranger stations; and popping toasters. He's seen chrome jobs, in the distance, but they don't seem to be looking for people up in the mountains, just yet. He's grateful for that, for now.
It doesn't take much for Leoben to get talking about souls and streams, and Sam stares at him while he captivates Barolay. She's actually half-smiling at him when something clicks in Sam's head.
The Cylons had help breaching Colonial defenses. The man sitting on the log, eating the dinner that Sue-Shaun cooked, isn't quite right in the head. There's something wrong with the way he moves, something that sets Sam's teeth on edge.
When the man walks between him and fire, Sam reacts, knocking Conoy down. It's rash and makes no sense, but something tells him this is right. Voice harsh, Sam asks him who he really is.
"You wouldn't believe me," Leoben laughs softly, then smirks, "Last time, you were the one on the ground." Then things change, and he says, "They're coming for you. And when they get here, you won't expect it, but it'll be the best day of your life."
It's enough. Sam gags him and they stick him in a cabin, guarded at all times.
Some of the others think he's insane, but two days later, they see confirmation of his suspicion: there are things working with the Cylons, human-looking, clones or something. It doesn't matter. They're biological, and they're just as responsible as the metal-heads for the destruction of the colonies.
Walking back into the camp, Sam expects to find the cabin empty, but it isn't. Leoben laughs at the gun in his hands.
It's the first time Sam kills a man. Except that he's not a man. He doesn't take comfort in that.
Sam isn't sure if Conoy could have told the rest of his friends where their basecamp is, but he still makes them move. Sue-Shaun suggests Delphi Union High, and the pluses outweighs the minuses. The journey there isn't hard, and they avoid both strays and chrome jobs. It's easy to set up a perimeter, even easier to set a guard. They're not trained, but they've seen enough movies to know they'll need an early warning--especially here, in the city.
The second day after they've settled into their new base, Hillard coins 'skinjob', much to his own amusement. His status in their tiny community raises slightly, as the rest get a good laugh out of the rather fitting moniker. Sam's just glad it's easier to shout than "human-looking Cylon."
It makes planning the first raid easier, in a way. Planning to shoot humans is hard. Planning to shoot skinjobs, on the other hand, is one remove from human.
He doesn't tell them they're rationalizing murder. Not after what the Cylons have done to their planet, not after they come across people dying of radiation sickness. Wilson says there's nothing they can do, and Sam knows she's right. So does Barolay, and she stays with him when everyone else has moved on to the look-out point.
Sam can't waste the bullets, so he uses his knife to put the first woman out of her misery. Silently, Barolay deals with the man herself.
Cleaning the knife off, the scent of blood and decaying human flesh chokes him and he moves to the side, letting himself be sick. Jean's hand is cold on the back of his neck, but she doesn't say anything when she offers him the canteen to rinse his mouth.
And he doesn't ask why she isn't sickened.
Their first raid goes better than Sam expects. While the others cheer and get drunk off the high of their success, he starts planning their second. If they can stay one step ahead of the Cylons, maybe they have some sort of chance to win this war.
They get bolder, as time goes on. He and Sue-Shaun figure out a method for lobbing small chunks of explosive at the chrome-jobs that means they go up easier. Less waste of bullets, when they have the C4, anyway. When they don't, they have to resort to bullets. One of the bigger survivalists tries to go hand-to-hand with a chromejob, and Sam doesn't have a chance to get over to save him. By the time he gets there, the guy is torn nearly in half.
'Frak,' he thinks, gun coming up and nailing the metalhead. It goes down, still covered in John's blood.
In his mind, Sam keeps a list of the dead. It gets bigger every raid they carry out.
There are times that he wonders if it's worth it. And then he'll see a skinjob walking the streets, so full of confidence and superiority, and he'll know it almost is.
This isn't about survival, anymore. It's about taking back what's theirs.
Sam doesn't quite trust anyone outside of the C-bucs after the raid that goes south. So it's no surprise, to him, that they're his backup when he pulls together a recce to locate their next target. They know each other, they've lived and breathed each other for years.
It just seems right that they're at his back when he finds two people who claim they aren't Cylons.
Kara Thrace is the kind of woman he can't help but go for. Pressed up against the wall, her leg locked around his waist, she makes soft little noises that belie the edge in her exterior.
Afterwards, falling into the makeshift bed, pulling her against him, he feels the edges again.
But she doesn't push him away until morning, and he doesn't let her go until daylight slides across the room. Then she's gone from the room, out the door and off to see Helo or Sue-Shaun or breakfast. It doesn't matter, as long as she's gone from his arms and the room they shared.
Helo thinks he's an idiot--the Lieutenant is not quick with words, but his opinion isn't hard to guess.
When Sam asks him about Kara, he suggests he ask her about herself. Sam turns the conversation to other things, and they spend a good hour talking about the game against Picon.
Eventually, Kara returns. Right on time to get lunch with them, and Helo mocks her for following her stomach.
She informs him the food is worse on Galactica.
Very careful not to push, Sam nevertheless sits next to her, and when he grabs for the salt when she goes for a glass, Helo snickers and tells them to stop acting like idiots.
It's different, then.
Sam thinks, in the moments between kisses, that he could grow to like this.
And when she leaves, he pretends that he doesn't miss her already, he tells her to go because he believes in her mission.
She walks into his life like a firecracker that's just gone off, and she walks out again with a piece of the soul he didn't think he still had.
The farms aren't hard to destroy. Distract the centurions in the front, get in, find the nerve-center, plant explosives, get out. All in a day's work. After the fourth, he doesn't even feel pity for the women who wake, terror in their eyes and beg him for release.
As disturbing as the women locked into machines that force them to breed against their will, they sometimes find men in similar contraptions. Barolay calls them milking machines, and one of the greener recruits has to turn away and be sick against a wall. Sam appreciates her attempt at humor, but his skin is trying to crawl off.
Now he knows why Kara wanted to stay.
At night, when the stars aren't as occluded as they used to be, he stares up and up, and lets himself hope that she might be able to keep her promise. Sam isn't stupid. He knows the odds of her being able to mount a rescue to come back for them are slim. Still, he can't help wrapping his hand around the piece of metal, feeling it cut into the skin of his palm.
She promised, and if she's the woman he thinks she is, she will keep that promise.
During the day, he's more pragmatic. The attacks on the farms aren't netting him new recruits--any women not hooked to machines are so weak from their treatment and the radiation sickness that it's simpler to put a bullet in their brains.
Every day, he loses a few people to attrition, and spends each night afterwards, cursing. Their numbers are dwindling. The toasters can afford the losses, Sam can't.
There's no connection between Kara and the Leoben model until after a particularly bad raid leaves half the party dead. Sam sends them back the easy way and takes the long route back, hoping that anyone tracking them will go for him and not then.
"She prayed for me."
The words jump out at him, but the Cylon speaking them only stands under his tree and looks smug.
Sam points his rifle at it, and is about to pull the trigger when he recognizes the Leoben model, the one which spoke of a destiny and streams. "Yeah?" He mocks it, unable to help himself, "Is she gonna pray for you again?"
"Incredible, isn't she." It's not a question, and Leoben continues, voice almost poetic in cadence, "All that fire and rage and passion, touch it and it burns, hold it, and you'll never want to let her go."
Kara. It hits Sam like a ton of bricks that this Cylon is talking about Kara. He doesn't know how he knows, and he doesn't care. Fire flares through him at the thought of it touching her, hurting her. His finger starts to tighten on the trigger, but this time Leoben isn't going to give him the chance.
"There's a pattern, to life," Leoben says idly as he pulls the rifle from Sam's hands without seeming to even strain. "Maybe, next time, I'll be the one with the gun. And you'll be the one with the unshakeable faith."
Sam has faith, he just doesn't think that's any of Leoben's business. "Yeah? Maybe there won't be a next time. Maybe we'll find a way to destroy you without senseless waste of life."
"Your lives," Leoben corrects. "Our lives are never wasted senselessly."
"Does it hurt?" It's a question Sam's been toying with, worrying the edges of and wondering about. Maybe planning, too.
"Life hurts." Leoben equivocates.
"Dying," clarifies Sam. "Does it hurt?"
As if expecting the inevitable result, Leoben half-smiles as he answers. "Yes."
"Then I hope this hurts a long time," says Sam. The knife slides into Leoben, slicing up and burying itself in his heart. Not that Sam thinks he truly has one.
"I'll see Kara again before you do." The words are stifled, the bubbles already rising in his throat.
"Tell her to come rescue my ass."
Sam stands and watches the machine die, watches the light slowly leave his eyes as the massive blood loss sends his system into shock and then death. Then he makes his way back to base, a new plan formulating in his mind. Maybe they've been going about this the wrong way, maybe the Cylons won't leave without a lot of prodding.
And he's willing to provide that prodding, just show him more Leobens and he'll be up for anything.
There are days where he doesn't really remember what she looks like.
When he stares at the sky above, and wonders if her hair had been blonde or light blonde. Whether her eyes were brown or grey (and he only knows they weren't blue because Helo told him, one night when they were drunk off their asses together).
Sometimes, he thinks he's a complete and frakkin' idiot for even fixating on her. There's no way she'll remember him.
No way in hell she'll come back for him.
He was wrong.
Staring up at the early morning sunlight of New Caprica, Sam feels the pounding in his head and wonders distantly where Kara went. Absently, his hand reaches up to touch the metal of her dog tag. As much for reassurance as for some connection to her.
He can't believe how stupid he was--letting himself get so drunk he couldn't stand.
But he'd been watching Kara watch Lee and Dualla, and something had twisted in his gut. Viciously, he tugs at the tag around his neck. He should give it back. Give it back and walk away from her.
The kind of shit she can pull on him, the things she might do to his heart aren't worth it.
But then he remembers her being the only thing that kept him alive on Caprica. His hope when the night was so dark and he was so tired he wanted to just give up.
So when she suddenly appears, drops to her knees and asks him to marry her, he says yes.
He can smell sex and sweat and dirt on her, but he says yes, anyway.
And later, arm around Lee Adama, watching their reactions, he knows.
Sam thinks he should have given up on Caprica--dying there would have hurt less.
Sam remembers making a promise to himself at the age of ten. By then, he'd become old enough to see the cracks in his mother, the quiet desperation and torture she went through every time his father came home smelling of other women.
One night, after taking the bottle from her slack hand, and knowing that she would never leave his dad, no matter what, Sam promised himself he would never do that to a woman.
He would love her until it hurt, he would never stray, and he would always be there for her.
Curled up in his cold rack on the Nautilus, not even knowing what, or who, his wife is doing, Sam wishes he'd made himself the promise to also let his wife go if she strayed.
It's ironic that he's become his mother. He just wishes he had the alcohol. A flicker of memory reminds him of waking cold under a table, the taste of dirt in his mouth, and he's not sure there's only that one memory of such a happening.
When Kara Thrace is asleep, head pillowed against his chest, Sam sometimes considers that maybe things will be all right. He knows better than to hope, of course. Humanity doesn't have much left, and Kara isn't going to ever be content with just him.
But it's a nice illusion.
He likes knowing that she feels safe enough to sleep deeply around him, even if it means she wakes from her nightmares and won't tell him a thing.
He learned early on not to ask, not to prod.
Someday, she might tell him. Until then, he'll hold her, hands gentle on her skin as she cries out and twists, fighting against something she won't explain.
'I'll be here for you,' he sometimes thinks, but doesn't quite say. He doesn't think he has to, not out loud. Instead, even with what she puts him through, he says it with every touch, every caress. Every time he's moving within her, he's thinking it. Every moment she's breathing the same air he is, he's believing it.
And he doesn't wonder anymore why his mother stayed.
The sound of the infirmary is like the calm before something explodes. The scent of death and pain, overlaid with plastic and ammonia. Sam sits in his bed, fingers absently playing with the tag around his neck.
He remembers his drunken antics in bits and pieces. 'My girl's too lucky to check out.'
'She will never be yours.' That's Leoben, and he feels a distant anger at not being able to spread the Cylon's blood from here to the ends of the universe. Five times, Kara had told him. Five times and he'd always come back.
When the Cylons took away his world, he fought back. He took the fight to them and tried to hurt them. When they took away his wife... Sam's hand closes around the metal, edges biting into his skin.
In a way, Leoben and Kara's mother combined have taken her away from him.
He can't kill an already dead woman.
But he can kill Cylons.
Lee let his request go through, and Sam finds himself in the class, having to do a little extra to catch up, but there. His years of playing pyramid and still keeping his course-work at an A level give him the skills. By the time the fourth class has been held, the only one who's still behind is Seelix, so Sam offers to share his notes with her.
After a study session, they end up at Joe's.
Seelix stands too close to him at the bar, and Sam thinks it's inevitable to find her pressed against him in a storage locker. She's not blonde, and her words aren't razor-sharp and cutting. She can't hurt him until he's bleeding.
It works, and she doesn't care that he says nothing when he comes.
The first time Sam sits in the cockpit of a raptor, going through the pre-flight checklist, his breath catches in the back of his throat. This is what Kara felt, he thinks.
He's not even in free-fall, and he can feel the exhilaration building through him.
A raptor pilot can't exactly kill Cylons, but Sam won't fit in a viper. He's resigned to that, and raptors are support. And with a good ECO, he can frak up their sensors.
His pen stutters a little as he marks things on his sheet.