disclaimer: not mine.
pairings referenced: Cally/Tyrol, Boomer/Tyrol, Eights/Tyrol, Athena/Helo, Kara/Anders, Caprica/Tigh
rating: PG, language
genre: post-episode, AU, future spec, angst, gen
notes: this can wholly be blamed on darthcorrie and palmetto for a conversation in the former's LJ I stumbled across at work yesterday. Apparently, blame can also be shared by rose_griffes
also: this is really pretty. The text art version of this fic: /gallery/Chasing_Tyrol Chasing Tyrol
by ALC Punk!
It's the first one that's a surprise.
"Hey, Chief." She smiles and it's Sharon's smile, but not Sharon's smile in a way he refuses to define right then.
Maybe it's the bright-eyed gaze, without that layer of reality that Athena has these days. "Boomer?"
Old habits die hard. Some of the innocence leaves her eyes. "No, but--I could be, if you'd like."
Once upon a time, he was going to muster out with the woman (Cylon) standing in front of him. Back before she was (they were) a Cylon. When life was simple and her smile and laugh could make his day. When he'd wake up in the morning, and he'd think about how many ways he could sneak away, or drag her into the tool room. Planning a house on Picon or Caprica, with a porch and kids.
Before soft skin and a sweet smile from someone else changed things. Before there was blood on his knuckles and Cally's mouth on his.
"You're afraid you're a Cylon."
Before his son stared at him for the first time, and Galen felt like maybe the Gods did smile on him, somehow.
"There something I can help you with?" he asks the Eight, when the silence stretches too long. Amnesty or not, there are other old habits that die hard. He was a member of the resistance long before he was a Cylon.
"Just--could we talk?" There's a flicker of something unreadable in her eyes.
"Uh..." she flounders for a minute, before smiling cheerfully, as though mentally hitting on the right subject (after all, what do two Cylons talk about?), "How's your son?"
A warning bell goes off in his head, but he's not sure why. Folding his arms, he asks bluntly, "Why?"
"I--he seems like a very strong child." Her head tilts, resolution in her eyes now, "You know, if we're going to survive, we'll need children. Lots of children."
The reason for her approach hits him like a hand on the back of his head and he swears he hears Cally snickering at her clueless husband. The Eight wants a baby, and she thinks he can help.
"No." His lips curve up in a ridiculous smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes. "Go away."
She goes, her eyes innocent no more.
The second and third Eight don't make it past, "Hey, Chief," before his glare sends them packing. He wonders if he'll always answer to Chief, even though Laird's got the title now and all Galen has is Nick and radioactive dirt.
The fourth Cylon to accost him is a Six, her eyes cynical. The novelty of her kiss distracts him for a few seconds, but she's gone as fast as the others.
The fifth makes his head hurt, almost sounding and moving like Boomer as she taunts him ("Chief, something's screwy. It's not right. It's that frakking gimbal again, Chief"). He almost says yes until his brain catches up. The woman (Cylon) before him isn't the right one, she's still too innocent, too unjaded to be Sharon Valerii, her world and friends lost in the mists of betrayal and mistrust.
"Why me?" he asks Anders later, Nick tucked against his side, chewing drowsily on something that might once have been a pyramid ball. "Why not you?"
Sam shrugs, "Maybe they think I'm too irradiated from Caprica to be viable."
From Sam's other side, Helo snickers, "Don't let his superiority fool you, Tyrol. Ain't no Cylon wants to tangle with Starbuck."
Helo's about the only human who'll give Tyrol and Anders the time of day. Some of the pilots and deck crew don't seem to care if they're Cylons, but the general population gives them a wide berth. And the Cylons see them as some sort of touchstone that makes him weary of approaching them. With Helo, though, it's like being married to a Cylon has given him a better perspective on life. And maybe it has.
They've already agreed that this is Tigh's fault, for getting the Six the rest call Caprica pregnant. The Eights and Sixes know that the Final Five are viable as sperm donors. It's not something that makes either of them comfortable, but they can still joke. Mostly.
"The way she ignores you, I'd think you'd be fair game," Galen suggests to Sam. He's willing to spread the love, after all.
Anders stiffens, his affability fading. "Yeah," he says, short and clipped.
Feeling obscurely pleased, Galen wonders who else's day he can ruin.
"Give her time," Helo advises.
Sam laughs, the sound bitter. "Yeah, time."
"The velocity of time heals all wounds," Hera pipes up, apparently bored. She shifts and sets the raptor model she'd been playing with on Sam's leg. "Zooom."
There are times that Hera says things that remind Galen of his great-aunt Louisa. She'd died of a chamalla overdose, things scrawled on papers around her in her own blood. His parents had never really explained to him, but he'd been curious, at fourteen. He'd dug through the conflicting reports. She'd died, predicting the fall of civilization. He wonders now if she saw bulletheads and skinjobs, bombs and people dying in instants.
Anders laughs softly, then reaches down and ruffles Hera's hair. "You keep on keepin' on, kid."
"You think Nick's going to do that?" Galen asks. The idea of his son sounding like an oracle high on chamalla isn't exactly pleasant. He wonders how Cally would have dealt with it. If this was why--
But that's a line of thought he refuses to pursue, even now.
"Don't know," replies Helo, shrugging. "Maybe it's something all half-Cylon kids do. Maybe Hera's just special." He doesn't look uncomfortable--as though he's long grown used to the idea that his daughter will surpass him.
"Hey, Chief, Sam, honey," Athena says, slapping him on the back of the head as she walks behind them. Anders gets knuckles and Helo a kiss on the forehead before she scoops up her daughter, grinning, "You slumming, Hera?" she teases, kissing the little girl who's smiling like a serene goddess from on high.
"Yeah," Hera agrees, kissing her mother back and tucking herself again Athena's shoulder.
Anders tilts his head back to look up at her, "Your kid is scary."
Slapping the back of his head, she snorts, "Starbuck should've thrown you back when she had the chance."
They're always teasing each other like this, Athena's eyes light with amusement. Galen wonders if it's a trait that all the Eights carry, and if Sam just falls in with it easily because he's the same. There's a line of thought about programing in there that he doesn't care to follow. He wonders if the trait is one Boomer still shares.
If she's alive.
The fact that Earth is a dead planet sometimes makes Galen laugh at odd moments. Tigh caught him at it once and asked him what the frak he thought was so funny.
"This. Us. Everyone."
"How can you find this frakking planet funny?" Tigh had retorted, face still grim. There were rumors about one of the Sixes, and sometimes, she seemed to lurk around Tigh's quarters. Rumors later confirmed.
"How can you not?"
It gets worse, another four Eights and one Six approach him and get turned away before they can even say 'hi'. It gets so that Galen starts watching for them and ducking away when he can tell they're not Athena (it doesn't scare him anymore that he can pick her out of a crowd--there's something different about the way she moves, some confidence that they don't have). Finally, one day, it comes to a head. A group of them approach him. The one in the lead moves differently, too. Not quite like Athena, but different enough that there's confidence in her.
Galen thinks she might be one of the ECOs tapped to fly out with the human pilots on recon. He's a lowly grunt, now, so he doesn't know all the ins and outs like he used to. Laird probably knows her.
There's no time to escape, and while he could just be rude, there's no point. Maybe he can get himself heard this time. So he stands there, his arms crossed. He's in the alley between the cafeteria building and the barracks, so it's not like they can kidnap him, after all. He hopes.
"Look," the Eight stops in front of him, her hands at her sides and her gaze calm. The others cluster behind her, almost like children hiding behind a mother's skirt. "Here's the deal. You don't have to have sex with them. They just want your sperm."
Hearing it laid out like that is a bit jarring, and Galen reacts without thinking, "I'm not going to be some magical baby-factory for hard-up Cylons who can't even live their own lives."
The Eight's lips tighten, "You know how they call me Punchline now?" Her fist crashes into his jaw, snapping his head back (he didn't even see her move, and he thinks he should have). "It's not because I'm a joke. Asshole." Turning, she starts away in a swirl of Eights and anger. "C'mon. He's not going to help you."
Sitting on the ground where she knocked him, long after they've left, Tyrol wonders what the frak else can go wrong in this frakked-up world.
He's still sitting there, scooping up a handful of dirt and letting it sift through his fingers when Sam walks by.
"You shouldn't have said that," one of the Eights says.
"It was stupid," chimes in another, "Now he won't ever--"
Punchline snorts, "Yeah, well, I don't think he'd do what you want, anyway. So you might want to drop that little dream."
"But what if he's the only one?" inserts another.
And Punchline suddenly aches for them, because she can barely tell them apart. They're all lost, scared little girls, with no lives of their own. And they need to realize that. They need to break free like she did, like Boomer and Athena before her. "Look, I don't have any of the answers. And if I did, I've got no time to give 'em to you--I've got recon in an hour. Maybe you should ask Athena for help."
Let Mrs. Agathon deal with their sisters, for a change.
"You think she would?" the first one who objected to Punchline's words says, her eyes widening in hope, "You think she might--"
"--with Helo?" suggests another.
Punchline stares at them, shakes her head, and escapes, leaving them to discuss the likelihood of this new prospect. She wonders if there's a self-help program for disaffected Eights, then discards the idea. She likes being individual. And she's pretty sure Athena would fight tooth and nail to stay her own self, too.
Within two days of Punchline's confrontation with Tyrol, the entire settlement knows the Cylons are looking to get knocked up. Opportunistic pilots and horny civilian men alike offer themselves up as sperm donors only to be turned down by sweet smiles that look like they belong to Sharon Agathon.
It's not quantity they want, it's quality.
Athena finds Punchline underneath a raptor, Figursky next to her. They're talking in technical terms about things Sharon knows in theory but never bothered to understand. "Hey." She kicks Punchline's boot. "Need to talk to you."
"Lieutenant," Punchline says, "We're a little busy."
Figursky mutters something about Valeriis always being impatient and Punchline snorts before wriggling out from underneath the raptor and sitting up. She stares up at Athena through her bangs. "What do you want?"
"Specialist Figursky," Sharon says, her voice calm, "Make yourself scarce. Now."
"Yes sir," he replies, rolling out from under the raptor and clambering to his feet. "Don't frak up my bird, Punchline."
"Sir." The still-seated Eight makes a sloppy salute at him.
They both watch him disappear, then Athena glares down at Punchline. "What the frak did you tell our sisters?"
"What the frak did you think I told them?"
Not an answer. Athena kicks Punchline's boot, "I think you told them to hit my husband up for things he's not willing to give."
Rolling her eyes, Punchline shoves to her feet. The movement is abrupt and she's practically standing on Athena's toes when she finishes straightening. "You think so little of your own model, Athena?"
Yes. The answer reverberates in Sharon's head, and she blinks at the finality in it. "Don't."
"Don't what? You don't get to lecture us on how life is grand if you just fall in love with a man, Athena. It doesn't work like that anymore." Punchline steps closer. "You've got your own life and how are you using it to help, to educate? You're not."
"I don't owe you anything."
Punchline laughs, and the sound more than her angry words makes Athena take a step back. Satisfaction flickers in Punchline's eyes.
"By example." Athena says, her tone just as harsh, "If you can't work out that life is something you have to decide on your own, then maybe all you are really is just a model number." The epiphany of the words makes her head tilt to one side.
"Great example. Shoot your own kind, turn your back on everything you are--" Punchline stops and shakes her head, "Was there something you wanted, sir? Something constructive?"
"Tell them to stay away from my husband."
"Tell 'em yourself," a flash of brilliance explodes in Punchline's brain and she smirks, "And tell 'em that conception requires love. And Helo can only love one Cylon at a time."
"You trying to get me killed?"
"Of course. 'Cause I want to hear about everyone having to deal with a grieving Karl Agathon. Again." Rolling her eyes, Punchline drops to her knees and begins crawling back under the raptor. "Tell Figursky he can stop loitering, this bird needs to get back in the air."
There's a barn at the edge of the fields the colonists are cultivating. It houses the all-important tractors and other machinery that they've had to cobble together from bits and pieces of the ships above them. Tyrol was put in charge of the machinery, making sure it worked to specifications, designing new gears when the old didn't work or had to be replaced. It's the sort of thing they thought he'd be good at, even if he was a Cylon, these days.
It's a good job. It's not putting vipers and raptors in the air and holding his breath until they all come back alive, but he's ok with that. Even with the decay around them and in the distance, there's something encouraging in watching the machines he sends out till the land and turn it fertile (or what they hope is fertile).
Starbuck is one of his part-time mechanics, her skill with vipers enough to let her get by with a wrench and determination. She splits her time between CAG and this. Like Helo, she doesn't flinch away from him, and when he says something she doesn't like, she gives him lip for it.
It takes less than a month for the other mechanics--mostly leftover deck crew--to become as relaxed and familiar around him. But there's still an underlying edge.
Sometimes, he catches them watching him warily, as though they're not certain that he won't suddenly erupt into violence and kill them all. Occasionally, he thinks about doing something to make their fears come true.
Most days, though, he can ignore that he's different.
On the days he can't, Starbuck will give him exttra crap, or punch him every time she walks by.
"Hear those Eights want your babies, Chief."
"Gonna get the lead out and hand over those frakking wires, Chief?"
"Some days, Chief, I think you were definitely born an idiot."
Galen figures she gets a special smug thrill out of calling him 'Chief'. She knows he's not, anymore. She knows he was demoted for words he can't ever take back (if he wants to). But she still uses his old title, still digs at him with it until one day, he's had enough.
He's got no idea what it is she says, but he yells back.
Starbuck never gives an inch, voice going lower, words more and more vicious as she saunters closer to him, her eyes daring him to do anything.
When she's up in his face, he finally snaps. Maybe it was her crack about the Eights. Maybe it was her crack about Cally killing herself because her husband just couldn't get it up. He swings.
And Starbuck dodges, ducking and coming up under his arm, her shoulder slamming into his chest.
Galen's shocked that she dodged, shocked enough that he staggers and steps back, his foot landing on the wrench he'd been using and he goes down, falling heavily into the packed earth of the floor.
The ceiling of the barn above them is distant, but not as distant as the stars above it.
It hits him, then. This is Earth. This is Earth and there's no going back or sideways. There's only going forwards. He feels like he knew that, but he was only going through the motions before.
"Chief." Starbuck's boot prods him gently.
He stares at the hand she's holding down to him, like she wasn't just about to get the crap kicked out of her by a man (Cylon) larger than she is. Reaching up, he takes it, lets her tug him back to his feet. "Get back to work!" he calls, without having to see that his people have stopped to watch, shock and maybe dismay and fear in their eyes.
He doesn't want to see the latter emotion, so he focuses on Starbuck, "You owe me a drink, sir."
"After we finish this gear-shift, Chief," she replies, her voice cheerful again.
The rotgut being distilled in very careful conditions is still some of the worst shit known to man (or Cylon). Tyrol has three mugs of it in him before he finally asks Starbuck the question he's been toying with. She's matched him drink for drink, so maybe she'll answer.
She glances over at him, the half-light from the setting sun gilding her hair. A smile twitches across her lips then she turns back to stare at the deepening sky. They chose a hilltop for their drinking, neither really caring if anyone bothered them, but wanting something away from the main settlement. The barn looms in the distance, a watchful sentinel guarding its crops.
"I needed to prove something."
When she doesn't speak again, he drinks another glass, getting more comfortable in the grass. Flopped on his back, he can point at the stars beginning to show clear in the night sky. "Did you ever think we'd really get here, sir?"
There's a clink of glass as she stoppers the bottle before dropping flat next to him. The air goes out of her in a sigh, and Starbuck is Kara when she answers, "I always believed."
"And New Caprica?" It's a pain they all share, some of them more than others. Galen wonders whether she'll actually answer. People know she was captured, a few know it wasn't just being locked in a cell. Galen guessed some of it, one night when Anders was drunk off his ass. The other man had been raw from his wife's recent death, his leg still in its cast. Sam hadn't denied Tyrol's guesses, but he hadn't confirmed them, either.
"Earth." Kara says, then she laughs, "New Caprica was a new start, or I thought it was. Earth is..."
"Earth is an old start. Everything we've hated and run from coming back to kick us in the balls."
"If you have them."
Tyrol grins up at the stars, reaching out a hand as though he could touch them from here. "Do you think they'll look like that in a thousand years?"
"Maybe?" She laughs, "In a thousand years, our descendants will follow the stars back to Kobol, and it will start all over again."
He joins her in the laugh, even as he wonders if this cycle of time can ever be broken.
"I wanted to find out--" she says, pausing to sit up and drink, the glass clinking more than before. As if maybe her hands were shaking a little. But that makes little sense. "--if you were still human."
His laughter this time is tinged with a little bitterness, but mostly amused. "And what'd you decide, sir?"
"That you punch too slow, Chief." She shifts, peering away towards the edge of the hill, where he can't see. "Don't you gotta kid to get home to?"
Nicky. He doesn't really feel guilty for leaving him in daycare this long. There're always kids there, after all. But she is right. He should get home to his son. Sitting back up, he glances across her, seeing movement shifting closer. Ah. He grins again, wondering if he's smiled more on Earth than he ever did on the Galactica. It's a strange thought.
"Leave this, shall I?" he nudges the bottle before standing, pleased to find he's still steady on his feet.
"Yeah, sure," she mumbles, distracted.
Galen laughs, the sound drawing her attention back to him. "Good night, sir. Tell Sam I said hi."
She's still sputtering when he reaches the downhill portion of his trek to level ground. He'll have to be careful, here, he can tell his reaction time is off. Wouldn't do to interrupt Kara and Sam while they talked. Or frakked.
"Thought I'd find you here."
Galen ignores anything else they say, content to watch the stars as he makes his way home.