Title: With Ash In Your Mouth (you'll ask it to burn again)
Disclaimer: Don't own them; just borrowing.
Summary: Kara Thrace (with some Leoben and Roslin thrown in for good measure), following Revelations. "Destiny. As the harbinger of death." Maybe now, she understands.
Spoilers: Up to the season 4.0 finale, Revelations. Also, this is loosely based on a couple small scenes in the 4.5 promo (the older one, not the newest one), but mainly just pure speculation.
Notes: The title comes from the Iron & Wine song "Cinder and Smoke."
That first night, they build bonfires to combat the chill of nuclear winter. Groups huddle together, stunned into silence by the shock of a decimated Promised Land. Visible breath puffs clouds in front of faces, as they allow flames to lick outstretched fingers – as if mere fire can warm this desperate disappointment from their souls.
Kara builds her own fire, several meters down the beach. She is alone; she deserves this lonely solitude she's providing herself. She deserves the anger she is already beginning to see in the others' eyes.
You are the harbinger of death, Kara Thrace.
The Hybrid's voice, coming from somewhere amid the flames. She hears it, now, the way she used to hear her mother's voice in her head (fear gets you killed; anger keeps you alive). Leaning forward, she can feel the heat of the fire on her face; her once-broken hands ache in the cold so she holds them up, too. She stares. Hard. As if she can see the Hybrid in the dancing yellows and reds and blues (the colors she once used to paint a pattern on her wall).
You are the harbinger of death--
"Shut the frak up," she mutters into the fire, watching as a spark escapes the blaze and lands on the top of her hand. She hisses with the momentary sting but doesn't move away.
"You still believe that, don't you."
She'd heard him approach, before he'd spoken. Now she says his name, once. An acknowledgment, nothing more. "Leoben." A sour taste on her tongue, tinny with blood and still, sweet with the musk of forgotten arousal.
He kneels beside her, taking her hand and rubbing away the sooty smudge left by the extinguished spark. "You still believe," he continues, as if she'd never spoken, "that pain is good for the soul. That your life, your destiny, is suffering."
"You don't know me." She draws her hand back. A clenched fist. (Fear gets you killed; anger keeps you alive.)
"I know you, Kara Thrace." His voice is a caress, close to her ear, and the heat she feels is no longer from the fire. "I know you. You love me. And you still have a destiny to fulfill."
"Destiny." A scoff, sharply. "As the harbinger of death." Maybe now, she understands. She stands up now, and he with her. They are close, thighs and chests almost touching.
(She can still feel it, the softness of his lips under hers, the resistance the skin and muscles of his neck had given. The warmth of his chest under her stabbing hand, the rough of the carpet as she'd wiped the blood. She can still even recall the taste of the steak she'd made for his dinner, and how her hands had not trembled at all when she'd picked up the knife again.)
"If I killed you now, you'd really die."
"Yes." He smiles tightly, tucking a strand of tangled hair behind her ear. "But you won't." He presses his lips to hers, only so briefly.
And he is gone.
She doesn't know how much time has passed – maybe minutes, maybe hours – but there's still no light in this dead Earth's sky when there's another voice, lighter footsteps, a shadow over her fire.
"May I share your fire, Captain Thrace?"
Kara looks up, shrugging one shoulder and gesturing to the flames, slightly lower now. "You're the President."
The other woman smiles (traces of Leoben's bitterness, perhaps, or maybe that's just in her head) and nods at her, before sitting down carefully in the sand. Kara can see, despite the woman's bulky coat and ill-fitting wig, her fragility, the pain she must be in. It's not as much of a shock now, on this barren planet, than it had been in the exuberance of Galactica's CIC – to see her as she is, the Dying Leader.
(She'd meant to kill her, yes, but her hand on the gun had faltered. She can still hear the shattering glass and Adama's yell. And now, now Roslin is dying again. They are all dying. Kara Thrace, the harbinger of death. Her destiny.)
"All this has happened before." Roslin is reading from the Scriptures, a low voice; Kara sees her hands are trembling.
"And all this will happen again," she finishes for her. Earth was destroyed; the Twelve Colonies were destroyed. And all this will happen again, except Kara doesn't know what is left to destroy. "Do you still believe?" she asks the older woman, suddenly. Her voice feels like a child's.
Roslin holds up the Scriptures, closer to the angry blaze. Again, the low voice, and Kara almost cannot make out her words, familiar though they are. "Their enemies will divide them. Their colonies broken in the fiery chasm of space. Their shining days renounced by a multitude of dark sacrifices." The President, the Dying Leader, holds the pages of the Sacred Scrolls closer – closer – closer – until the edges curl and smoke underneath the hungry flames.
Do you still believe?
"I don't know, Captain."
Kara holds her breath and watches as the once-sacred words are consumed.
She wakes at dawn, a gray haze lightening the sky over ruins and the ruined. The fires have burned down to embers, and she's stiff and frozen as she gets to her feet. Pulling her jacket more tightly around her body, she makes her way quietly down the beach, farther and farther from those she's led here, from wasted dreams.
Their voices follow her (her mother's, the Hybrid's, Leoben's, her people's): You are the harbinger of death, Kara Thrace.
She trembles as the heavy fog swallows her, and she can no longer see those she's left behind.