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Falling is like flying but she can't control the direction. The landing hurts but the flight is beautiful while it lasts--the arc of forward and downward motion.

Things fall at different rates. She knows this is emotionally true, not scientifically. She's falling ahead of her anger, faster than her fear.

Kara was eight years old when she flew for the first time. Mama had yelled at her and slapped her, then sent her to her room. Later she crawled out the window. Eight years old, old enough to know better; she was almost too big to fit through the gap in the back fence.

She feels like she's waking up. Yellow light filters in through a window. Like her vision before (a moment ago?), when her viper was falling into the maelstrom, the space resembles her old apartment in Delphi. Everything is slightly different, as if a photograph was used to reconstruct it but the colors are wrong and the perspective is warped. She's sitting on the table again; Leoben sits on the edge of the sofa directly across from her.

Closing her eyes she wonders if she can create a different image than this place; she tries to picture being someplace else, tries to imagine Zak's old apartment or Galactica or a hundred other places. She opens her eyes--still here. "I never imagined death like this," she says, looking around the room. From the window a bright sunbeam streams across the wall, shining on the mandala.

"You're not dying," he says. He eyes are tender as they look at her. "This isn't death."

"How did you find me here?" Again the unasked question--where is here?

"I was looking for you, but you found me first."

Her friend had found it--an abandoned house in the woods. They made a fort near it, hauling fallen limbs and rusty pieces of metal into a shady spot, forming a square. She hid in the fort some afternoons by herself. The best part of the place was the old swing. It was made of rope and board, tied to a tall tree on the edge of a natural clearing.

Alone that day, she jogged to the swing and sat down. Hot anger pulsed inside, as it often did. Pushing with her feet she began the slow arcs, hair coming loose from the sloppy ponytail she had made earlier. She felt the knots inside her loosen as well, anxiety falling away in the cool breeze.

"What happens now?"

He tilts his head. "You've already taken the hardest step. We don't always make it this far in the cycles of time." Talking in riddles, but the puzzle doesn't make her burn with resentment anymore. "You still have work to do, though."

At that moment she knows. "I have to show the fleet the way to Earth." The statement makes her shiver and she feels small, like a child with a too-hard task. He smiles at her and takes her right hand, rubbing her palm then the pad of her thumb.

Sunlight and shadow dappled her face, light filtering through the leaves overhead. Closing her eyes against the brightness she leaned back as she swirled through the sky.

She moved higher, faster, stretching her legs and feet upward. It took her a moment to process the cracking noise she heard.

She's feeling empty from the emotional high earlier--letting go of her fury at her mother, letting go of Lee and the twisted knots that bound them together. The void is soothing. She doesn't miss the anger; it fell away. The warmth of his hand, the textures of the floor and rug under her feet, the cool air--which parts are real and which parts are imagined?

"Will I ever know who you really are?"

"You'll know when the time is right."

Forward and down. She shrieked, partly from surprise and partly from the rush of adrenaline. So far: she could see the clearing, the house, their fort. "It's going to hurt when I land," she thought, and watched the ground as it rushed to meet her.

Mama didn't say much as she cleaned the scratches. Her lips were squeezed together tightly. Kara ignored the critical looks and held close inside her the feeling she had when she flew. She wanted that soaring freedom where Mama couldn't reach her.

She's falling now and she can't fight it. Everything has led her here. The light blinds her; Leoben takes her other hand and she feels the acceleration. Will it hurt when she lands?

Fallen this far... leaning forward, she kisses him gently. He pulls back and looks at her; she's surprised him, for once. She smiles, puts her hands on his head and pulls him toward her again. Falling in tandem, spiraling toward Earth. She's not scared of the landing.

Waves pounding the shore, the sigh of shifting sands; she feels the grains beneath them, smells the tang of salt air and taste of salt on his lips. Tumbling to Earth. It's real. He may not be, but Earth is.