Disclaimer: not mine
Rating: R, language, sexual situations
Pairing: Kara Thrace/Sam Anders
Spoilers: through 4.10--Revelations
Genre: Episode insert (Maelstrom), angst, post-Revelations
Notes: This one hit me at work today, gave me fits on my way home and then dragged something vaguely cheesy out of me for the end. Thanks to Lucyparavel for saying it wasn't awful.
Articles of Faith
by ALC Punk!
There were things Sam Anders knew. He knew hard work, championship games, shooting Cylons and blowing up heavy raiders. He knew his wife was broken (far more broken than he'd ever thought, once upon a time). He knew that he didn't hate her for the pieces she occasionally let drop around him. He just wished he had glue that would work, something that would keep her from spinning into further and further splinters.
But what he didn't know was how the world would end.
He didn't try to think of things like that, preferring to let destiny and the Pythian prophecies take care of themselves. Sure, he might think about Earth sometimes, and hope. But it wasn't his main focus.
For one thing, there was a lot of laundry to do for the fleet. So he did his part, folding or sorting, piling stacks of linen that would be filthy soon after. They were all becoming a little threadbare after repeated use, but the fleet would tick on. People would survive when there were no more sheets.
Kara's voice pulled him from his aimless thoughts and he looked up, smiling to find her in the doorway. He was pleased and surprised she was there: maybe she'd taken his advice, after all. "Hey."
There was no answering smile as she stepped forward, looking down at the pile of sheets he was folding before she met his eyes. "Remember how you were saying--about me, about my destiny?"
A lot of words he'd like to take back, but yeah, he remembered. He wondered, watching her, what had rattled her so much that she was deadly serious as she looked at him. He shrugged and reached out a hand to her. When she ignored it, he dropped it. Some part of him wondered if this was how it would always be with them from now on: he would give, she would walk away. His voice came out harsher than he'd planned when he replied, "A bad cover band come looking for you?"
"Maybe. I--Sam." Her hands grabbed up one of the pillowcases and she twisted it before shaking it straight and absently folding it, watching that instead of him. "I need you--I need you to have this."
"No--" She fumbled, dropping the pillowcase onto the table and digging in her pocket. "This."
Sam's heart lurched as he looked down at the dogtag in her hand. It was still on the black cord he'd found in one of the supply closets at Delphi Union. He'd never seen a reason to upgrade, something about feeling sentimental. Or maybe like an idiot. "Kara, I--"
There was intensity to her voice that made him stop objecting. He wasn't sure, as his fingers closed around the metal, what it would lead to. Whether this was a promise or a curse. He felt the familiar bite of thee edges as he clenched his fingers. "Hey--" He took her hand when she didn't back away, pulling it to his mouth and kissing her knuckles. A ridiculous gesture, but it had worked before, once upon a time. "Kara--"
"No," her hand flattened on his lips, stopping whatever he'd been going to say as she moved closer. "No talking," her voice dropped lower, a husky whisper that shot straight through his body like an electric shock, "Barolay promised to keep people busy."
The intensity of her next kiss drove all thought from his brain. Sam could feel himself falling as she tugged at his shirt, hands and fingers hard on his skin as she pushed him back. He retaliated, dragging her shirts and bra up, ducking his head, licking and sucking at her skin. It was a strange cross between too slow and too fast, as though Kara were memorizing everything, her mouth dragging along his shoulder.
Or maybe that was him. He was all jumbled up as his hands lifted her, pressing her up on the ledge he'd never really considered for such a use. It worked, though, her back pressed against the wall, her head back as they moved against and with each other.
When Kara climaxed, her legs were tight around his waist, her mouth open, spilling a series of soft moans ending on a cry that might have been his name.
It wasn't the sort of thing he'd ever analyze; he'd learned a long time ago to pay less attention to the names she called, the words she said as they had sex. Driving himself a little quicker, he followed, not letting a sound past his lips, almost in defiance of her volume.
Soaked in sweat, legs trembling a little from the intensity, Sam leaned against her and the wall, trying to catch his breath. "That was nice," he said into her hair.
They were almost back to that half-mocking, half-serious way they had on New Caprica. Sam didn't push, though. He shrugged, slowly pulling free of her. "We should, ah..."
"Finish the laundry and then sleep," she suggested, smirking a little at him.
Like Kara Thrace did laundry every day.
Maybe she did. It took them a third of the time to finish, even with him catching her in his arms for more than one kiss while they folded.
His rack wasn't large, but they both fit, Kara half-draped on him, complaining that he was lumpier than the ground. It was almost too warm with two, but Kara had looked exhausted when he showed up and Sam learned to sleep when he could a long time ago (dodging Cylon bullets helped).
When he woke in the morning, she was gone. But her dogtags were around his neck, like a promise. I love you, he thought, sleepy and irritated at once. Why couldn't she frakking say it to him? Just once, it would be nice to hear.
Maybe one day she would.
Sam was too warm and Kara woke with a jarring feeling, as though she'd slammed her viper against the track a little too hard. She shivered a little as lifted up on her elbow, looking at Sam. He was dead to the world, snoring almost as bad as he used to on New Caprica. Once, the thought might have made her smile. Now it just made her feel that she was making the right decision even more.
And it wasn't anything he could stop.
Oh, she could see how the conversation would go, if she tried it. I have to die, Sam. For my destiny.
He would laugh. He would laugh until he realized she was serious, and then he'd go cold and distant, eyes dark with uncertainty. He wouldn't know how to stop her. Even after all of his talk of maybe Leoben's right...
And he wouldn't understand that death wasn't the end of everything. That she could feel the pull--there might be nothing to hope for, but she couldn't believe that. There had to be more. She had to have faith. Like she always had, with the arrow, with Roslin, and now with Leoben. Sam definitely wouldn't understand her trust in Leoben.
She couldn't say the words he needs, though. Kara looked down at him, and wondered if he knew that. He probably thought, if he was just patient enough she'd be all right again. Or as all right as she ever had been.
Even with him asleep, she couldn't, and she wondered if that was because she was afraid of what would happen. She could shout them with Lee, standing (shaking) in the cold moonlight of New Caprica. She could say them to Zak, laughing and joking, hands covered in paint until he dragged her into the shower.
But she couldn't say them to Sam. She thought them at him, sometimes, tracing the letters in the lines of his skin with her fingertips. Kissing them on his mouth when she's feeling maudlin.
But aloud... Making them concrete, giving them form and giving something out there the chance to know her heart more easily. That, she couldn't do.
I love you, she mouthed against his lips before sliding from the rack. Her bones told her it was too early, but she couldn't stay. And there was always a game going that would occupy her until the shuttle run that would take her back to Galactica.
She could do this. I'm coming back. She stared at the dogtag on Sam's neck, tangled in its cord. There. I said it.
Maybe someone would allow her to even mean it.
All of this has happened before...
The wind was biting deep into her bones, stirring old injuries in a way that the black of space never quite did. But Kara ignored it, not caring. Maybe she deserved it for her mistake of belief.
Earth was a dead planet, smoldering still from the countless fires of a thousand bombs.
Hyperbole that not even the Admiral truly believed.
Down at the water's edge, standing on rock and shifting sand, Kara felt a strange kinship to the planet. So did someone else, their footsteps careful, crunching and sliding on the scree.
Kara didn't have to turn to know the person walking down the bank towards her was Sam. It was time, some invisible clock in the universe ticking off the pre-ordained milliseconds, allowing for only a little personal quirk or two. She'd been waiting for him to work up the courage. Or the bullshit.
So she got there first, her words crisp and clear. "I knew I was going to die."
The words made him falter, and he was almost hesitant when he replied, "Not going to shoot me, then?"
Feeling the cold wind bite deeper, Kara considered turning to him and burrowing against his chest. But that wasn't where they were, anymore. She wasn't certain it ever had been. "When I gave you back my tag. Do you remember?"
It was going to be a difficult conversation, and she didn't think she could make him understand--Lee had almost grasped it, once. The Admiral would have her committed, if there weren't four shrinks for fifty-thousand post-stress disordered patients. Leoben knew and understood; had always known and understood, and sometimes, on the Demetrius (if she thought of him), she would wish he were there, helping her to figure out the path.
"Right before--" he broke off. They didn't talk about her 'dying'. Maybe because Kara was alive or because Sam couldn't face it. Not that it mattered. "Yeah. Yeah, I remember."
"It was destiny. I was thinking about what you'd said, what Leoben said. And I realized..." she stopped, dipping her fingers into the water. She couldn't feel the cold in her hands anymore. That was probably a bad thing, but it didn't matter, here.
The Earth was dead. Barren and destroyed, twisted metal and shattered rock. Kara Thrace would cry if she had the energy for it.
"Destiny? Kara, what the hell are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about going into the mandala, Sam." She turned and looked up at him, shaking her fingers off and tucking them under her armpits, more out of habit than real need. "I'm talking about saying goodbye to the people I--" even here, she can't say it, "--knew. I'm talking about walking into death, knowing it was what I was supposed to do."
He looked shaken for an instant before he shook his head. "No. No, that doesn't make sense. You don't die for your destiny--"
"But I didn't die. I'm here, Sam. I'm alive."
"Destiny doesn't work like that, Kara. It's not something concrete or that can be twisted to fit what you think it should be--"
"I knew, Sam. It wasn't just some suicidal moment. It was a culmination of all of it: my mother, Leoben, you, Lee--" Kara broke off and shook her head, frustrated. She'd known that he wouldn't understand. "I could find Earth, like Leoben said. And I did." She laughed, the sound brittle, "I frakking led us to a dead planet. Some destiny, huh?"
He shook his head, denying it, trying to find a way to prove her logic wrong. "So, what am I, some sort of consolation prize? 'Hey, Earth is toast, but here, have the toaster that wants to be a man'?"
It was the wrong tack, and Kara's head came up, eyes cold and bleak as she looked at him. "You don't know shit, Sam. You're just a Cylon," her voice dropped lower, letting her anger and despair punching it through the air at him.
For a moment, his eyes went wide. And then he shut down, closed himself inside where she couldn't see. "Yeah," he whispered, "Ain't that the truth."
He was walking up the bank, boots crunching on the shale before Kara could take back her words, could make him stop. Not that she wanted to, she thought furiously. Life happened and Sam wanted her to hide from it. The Gods had a destiny in mind for her, and whether good or bad, she was going to see it through.
The world had ended with a slide into despair, and not a brilliant explosion. It was almost too quiet and depressing, Sam considered as he peered at the empty bottle in his hand. Kara had died, then she'd come back, and now... Now, she thought she was some frakking destined hero from the ends of the universe. Some ephemeral thing that wasn't human.
And what was he? A Cylon. A mother-frakking Cylon.
It was enough to make him laugh a little now that he was drunk. What next? Would he discover he had an untreatable disease? That Kara was pregnant with Lee's child? That they wanted to string up the Cylons for the destruction of Earth? That would be about right.
His bottle was empty, Sam reminded himself. He dropped it and leaned across the table for another. Tyrol had staggered off hours before, complaining about how the ship wasn't any warmer than Earth. If he could just reach the man's bottle, he could complete his drunken debauchery.
A hand closed on the bottle, swinging it out of his reach.
Sam tracked it up and watched as Kara downed a long swallow. "I was drinkin' that," he informed her, rather proud that he'd been able to get the words out without saying something wrong or stupid like I love you.
"All you skinjobs poor drinkers, Sammy?" She slammed the bottle onto the table and then planted a hand, leaning over it, looming at him. "'Cause a girl could take advantage of that."
"That right?" he drawled, leaning back in his chair. "You gonna try you on some Cylon ass?"
"Don't have to try, Sam." was her reply, her tone critical and amused, "I've already been there. And I might not have known, but that doesn't change anything."
"Sure it does," that came out dead sober and he straightened, looking her in the eye. "I'm a Cylon, Kara."
"And I don't know what I am."
There was a world of uncertainty in her eyes, an emotion Sam recognized every time he'd looked in the mirror after she told him something about her past that added to the kaleidescope of Kara Thrace. "You're Kara Thrace."
She looked down, then back at him. "Even though I died?"
That stopped her, as though she hadn't expected him to question her death. She shook her head, "Sam. The viper I came back in, the music, the dreams, I just--"
"You promised me once--" he stopped, because what he was thinking, what was going to roll off his tongue was too easy.
"I swore an oath."
"And I was stupid enough to agree."
She flinched, catching the reference in his words. "Sam--"
"You meant it, Kara. I got it. I got a lot of things."
"No--" she came around the table, reluctant, but oddly resolute. "No, you don't get everything, Sam." She grabbed at his collar, dragging it open and pulling the black cord he still wore free. "Are you giving this back?"
What is the most basic article... Leoben had asked him something, once. Something that was almost as important as the question in Kara's eyes.
Sam stood up, staggering a little, hand closing around hers. "I'm a Cylon."
"Yeah. You are." Her grip on his cord didn't change, didn't try to free itself from his grasp.
The alcohol was definitely going to his head. Too much of it and not enough time to think. He licked his lips, "I'm not giving it back."
Kara looked up at him, eyes searching his, and then nodded.
It wasn't everything. Standing there, hands wrapped around each other wasn't even very much of a beginning. And they'd had a lot of new beginnings already, too many for one lifetime.
But maybe that wasn't the important thing, in the end.
Maybe they just had to believe.