Title: Through the Looking Glass
Word Count: 63,000+
Rating: PG-13 (for brief sexuality, language, violence)
Pairings: Kara/Sam, Jayne/Jean (Barolay), Mal/Inara, mentions of Kaylee/Simon, Zoe/Wash, and Helo/Athena
Warnings: The story begins with a crash and there are several characters that die. They are all relatively minor characters and their deaths are not graphic and in fact happen 'off screen'.
Summary: When the Demetrius runs into Cavil's forces, they must make an emergency blind jump. Finding themselves stranded in a strange world, they're soon picked up by a ship called Serenity and its motley crew. AU for BSG after Ties That Bind, starts after Objects in Space for the Firefly 'verse.
Notes: Written for bsg_bigbang . I cannot praise my beta merrykk enough. Not only did she provide me with wonderful feedback and notes but she put up with truly insane brainstorming emails during the planning stages. Seriously, I think some of them were almost as long as this fic. You're a doll, Merry!
Joining the Demetrius mission wasn't really a choice for Sam. Where Kara went so did he, it was that simple. She was the one thing left in his life he was totally sure of. He would never regret a decision that kept them together.
That didn't mean he had to like the accommodations.
"I don't think I've smelled anything this bad since we blew up that waste station on Caprica," Jean hissed at him as they trudged towards the crew bunks. Sam wrinkled his nose in agreement.
"Look on the bright side. At least this time we're not going to have sewage start raining down on us." Jean snorted.
"Yeah, we didn't really think that one through very carefully.
"We were in a hurry," he reminded her. She shook her head and sighed.
"Frakking toasters." Sam swallowed hard and managed a nod of agreement. What she didn't know couldn't hurt her.
The bunks were different than what the pilots used on Galactica, but not by much. Everything was crowded and dim, and as an extra bonus the Demetrius was hot. Someone joked about cracking a window, but Sam couldn't muster any amusement. He doubted anyone else would be joking before long.
Of all the things Kara expected to get from Adama after everything that had happened, her own ship to command was not on the list. Knowing that there was still enough trust for him give her the chance to prove herself gave her a dull sense of hope that she clung too. His lack of reaction when she'd hugged him had stung, but she pushed that to the back of her head. She had to focus.
The jumps the Galactica had taken had frakked with her sense of direction. When she'd first landed she'd been sure she could have pointed out on a map exactly where to go. But now the feeling was distant, a bare echo of what it had been.
She gave her first command to Gaeta. They would retrace their steps back to the nebula and set out from there. She could only hope that as she got closer the feeling would grow stronger.
Kara must not have looked too closely at the roster for the mission. Sam could clearly see the surprise in her eyes when she ran into him in one of the corridors.
"Hey," was all he said.
"I didn't…hey." She was distracted, her eyes not really focusing on him for more than a few seconds before darting off again. When they did settle on him it was on his military tanks and tags, not his face.
"I guess you weren't expecting to command your husband on this mission. Or, you know, ever." He tried to tease, to get her to at least smile if not laugh. But she was too far gone. Her brow furrowed and she stared at him blankly. "Are you OK?" he asked, worried.
"I'm fine, I just have a lot to do." She moved around him, steps purposefully. He watched her go as she marched towards her quarters, and was surprised when she stopped a ways away and turned back to him.
"You're on duty for the next scout run." That was it, and she turned back and left. Sam sighed and resigned himself to worrying for the rest of the trip.
Dammit, it wasn't working. It didn't make sense, if she could feel it here before why couldn't she now? It seemed simple when she started out. Go back to where she felt it, pick up the trail again, and follow it to Earth. But it wasn't here. It was like someone had plucked it out of the sky and moved it somewhere else, and she didn't know where.
She had to figure it out, had to decide which way to start chasing. It was a big sky, she had to choose carefully. She couldn't take the time to apologize to Sam or ask him why he was here are continue their conversation about when he'd become a pilot. Everything she had had to go towards Earth.
She would find it, even if it killed her.
"So come on, Sam. Make me feel something. I dare you."
There was a part of Sam's brain that knew he should just walk away. But a larger part needed this as much as she said she did. He needed to touch her, to reassure himself that she was really there; needed her to touch him, to have someone who didn't know just how frakked up and confusing his very existence had become to embrace him like nothing had changed.
He didn't care how she treated him just as long as she still looked at him like he was Samuel T. Anders.
He slid into her and the bite of her nails on his back lessened, her lips gentled on his and she kissed him with what was almost tenderness. Or maybe not. Maybe he imagined it. Maybe he was so desperate for connection that he could delude himself into thinking it was like old times. He didn't care if it was real or not, he wanted to lose himself in her and stop thinking so damn much.
He just wanted her to make him feel something.
Kara gasped as she let the sensations wash over her. This was what she needed, to push everything out of her head so all she could do was feel. She looked at Sam above her and reared up to capture his lips. It was so familiar, something they'd always done well. She wanted that familiarity, wanted to feel like Kara again.
Sam tangled a hand in her hair and kissed her back hard, his other hand pulling her more firmly against him. She ran her hands over his arms, rubbing lightly where she knew his tattoo was. The tattoo he'd shoved in her face earlier. That is part of who you are, he'd said. She clung to that now, that reminder of who she was. Wrapped her arms around him and called his name as she arched her back.
Sam nuzzled into her neck, breathing deeply while they both trembled in the aftermath. He doubted she'd let him hold her for long; she'd never been one for cuddling, so he made good use of her temporary immobility. He ran a hand over her stomach while he trailed kisses along her jaw, soothing her tense muscles. She turned into him a tiny bit and he kissed her mouth. She kissed him back briefly before pushing him away, as he knew she would.
He sat back against the bulkhead of the bunk while she pulled a sheet around herself. Sam expected her to get up, tell him to get out, and go back to her painting or maybe go over to the desk of star charts. Instead she settled back, leaning against his propped up knee. He said nothing while she stared off into space.
"We were married, weren't we?" she asked at length. "I mean, that wasn't just like a fantasy."
"Hell no," Sam breathed heavily. "And I got the scars to prove it." It was a poor attempt at a joke, but he was too tired to make much of an effort, and he doubted she would even notice.
"Does that seem different to you somehow?" she continued.
"Not sure. It's like everything seems so far away. The way things feel. The way they taste. Like I'm watching myself, but I'm not really experiencing it, not living it. Like my body's just this alien thing that I'm still attached to. Does that seem crazy to you?"
Sam stared at her back, grateful she couldn't see him. He had a feeling one look at his face right now would give away all his secrets. She couldn't know how close to home she was hitting, but he kept his mouth shut. He wasn't sure she was really looking for an answer anyway. They sat in silence awhile longer, Kara growing more and more distant until finally she pulled away from him and stood.
"You should go, I have work to do." Sam sighed and gathered his own clothes while she dressed. He'd gotten his pants on and was reaching for his shirt when she came up to him again. She gripped his face in her hands and kissed him, hard but quick. She'd kissed him like that before, when she left him after New Caprica; an 'I'm sorry I'm so frakked up' kiss. Saying nothing she turned her back to him and went to her desk. Taking one last look over his shoulder he walked out and left her alone.
Kara marched into the CIC, excitement and adrenaline fueling her sleep deprived body. She ignored the two marines standing sentry by the door and went straight to Helo and Gaeta where they were huddled around the center consol.
"I have jump coordinates for you." She tossed her specs to Gaeta and watched impatiently while he scanned them over.
"These are actual new coordinates," he said with some surprise. Kara glowered.
"Yeah, your point?"
He went to work while she started pacing, scanning the rest of the room. Seelix sat one of the work stations, and Kara struggled to remember that she was a pilot now, not a deckhand. There was so much she'd missed, so much she had to remember, so much she didn't have time to concentrate on. She could see the others were relieved they had new coordinates to jump to, which only served to annoy her. It shouldn't godsdamn matter where they were going, they had orders to follow and that should be enough. Still, if it meant she wouldn't have deal with everyone breathing down her neck quite so much she could live with it.
The roll in the sack with Sam had done more to clear her head then she'd expected. For awhile she'd felt almost human. His demanding hands and the sharp pleasure of release had brought her more to herself than she'd been since her return to Galactica. But the minute they'd pulled apart she'd felt the strange dullness return. At first she'd mourned the loss of feeling, but with the dullness came the sense of Earth, the pull she'd been missing. It was as if she'd let herself be bogged down by the day to day drudgery of life, but once she'd returned to the most basic elemental state of being the otherworldliness had found its way back in. If she could just hold on to that feeling a little longer she knew she could find Earth as she'd promised to.
She watched Gaeta plotting the jump and kept pacing.
Sam sat in the empty mess hall, annoyed with himself. The rest of the crew were all either off doing their jobs or getting some rack time, but Sam wanted to be alone. He hadn't intended on jumping Kara. In fact he couldn't quite remember, now that the passion had faded, why he'd given into her. He'd meant to demand answers, to get her to open up to him and explain her bizarre behavior. Instead he had a feeling he'd just enabled it.
He took another pull on his cigarette and rubbed his forehead tiredly. He didn't know what to make of what she'd said to him afterwards. The way she'd talked about feeling disconnected…Sam didn't know if he should hope that she was a Cylon or not. Nothing made any damn sense anymore, and he was getting pretty sick of being confused all the time.
"Hey Sam," Athena greeted him as she came in. "Don't suppose your visit with Starbuck got us anything useful?" Sam gave a humorless laugh as she sat on the table next to him.
"Not unless you count some new bruises as useful." Athena winced slightly.
"I'm sorry," she said sincerely. "I know it can't be easy." She leaned down, resting her elbows on her knees. "I remember how bad it was when we thought she was dead. Your drunken flying leap from the top of a viper was hot gossip for while." Sam grimaced at the memory. "Then she came back. I was there; I saw your face, how happy you were. But she's different now. She's…" Athena trailed off.
"Yeah," Sam grunted, equally incapable of describing Kara's current state.
"It pisses me off." Athena bit out. "She was my friend, and seeing her like this…but I don't know if it's even her. If she's a Cylon, or something else…I don't know if I should be angry at her or for her." Sam hesitated for a just a moment before asking what he wanted.
"Would it matter to you? If she were a Cylon? I mean, you know firsthand that not all Cylons are the same, that they don't all want the same things. If someone you knew turned out to be one of the Five, would it change things for you?" Athena was silent while she considered her answer, staring off into space.
"Honestly?" she turned to look at him. "I don't know. I know that Cylons are individuals capable of making their own choices, but I also know how few actually do, and how devious and manipulative we can be. I don't know anything about the Five, none of us do. Why they left us, what they've been doing, how they're different than the rest of us? All of that would make a difference. I just…I don't know." She looked him in the eye, and for just a second Sam wondered if she suspected the real reason he asked, but the moment passed and Athena stood.
"Come on, rook," she said in a suddenly breezy manner that belied their proceeding conversation. "One crazy, brooding head case is more than enough on this ship. Get your mopey ass up. Pulled the raptor into the hold for a maintenance check, could use some help with the com system." Sam smiled slightly as he got up to follow, knowing she really didn't need help and just wanted to distract him. He wondered how long he could keep lying to her face. To everyone.
"Alright, jump prep complete, FTL spun up. We are go to jump on your command, Captain." Gaeta looked at her expectantly.
"Do it," Kara said shortly. He played his hands across the board and inserted the jump key into its slot.
"Jump in 10, 9, 8, 7, 6…" Kara could feel her blood pumping faster, her whole body singing that this was right, that something was waiting for them on the other side.
"…5, 4, 3, 2, 1, jump." Kara closed her eyes as they shifted, reopening them when it was over. The CIC was quiet as Gaeta checked their position on the instruments. The quiet didn't last.
The alarm had barely begun to sound when Sam was flung to the side. He smacked into the wall and caught Athena as she fell against him.
"Thanks," she said shortly.
"What the hell was that?" Sam asked. They glanced at each other and by unspoken agreement headed for the CIC.
Athena climbed the steps to the next level quickly, Sam on her heals. They'd only made it halfway down the corridor when an even larger explosion rocked the ship. Sam fell to the floor as everything trembled violently. He waited until the last of the tremors had passed before pushing to his feet, staggering to Athena who still lay on the ground. Blood poured from a cut on her forehead, but her eyes were open and clear on Sam's as he helped her up. He was pretty sure he had some cuts of his own.
They ran this time, blood mingling with the sweat on their skin.
The CIC was in chaos. Sparks flew as another small shock knocked things about. Sam raced to Kara as she steadied herself against the center console, her eyes flashing to his for an instant before refocusing on the DRADIS. Sam looked as well and let out a shocked hiss. Six Cylon base ships surrounded them. He knew full well the five vipers and single raptor they had with them were completely useless against an attack of this magnitude. They were well and truly frakked.
"Gaeta, what's taking so long?" Kara shouted over the still blaring alarm.
"The FTL drive took damage on the first wave of the attack. It'll be up again any second but we're still working on a jump point."
"Frak that, jump as soon as FTL is up."
"You want us to jump blind?" he asked.
"You got any other ideas that don't end with us dead?" she tossed back pointedly as the walls shook. "We're out of time."
Gaeta acknowledged her with a weak nod. He reached for his computer, hoping to input coordinates that wouldn't land them in the middle of a planet, but his fingers never touched the keyboard. The most violent impact yet tossed them all about like rag dolls. Sam grabbed the nearest solid object and held on tight as the world spun 'round and 'round.
"Hull breach!" Helo called out, swearing as he checked the board. "Port side, deck five. Gaeta, get- Gaeta!" The panic in Helo's voice had Kara racing towards the pair before she could even clearly see what was going on. They knelt next to the fallen man and her stomach clenched. Gaeta's leg was broken, badly. Bone stuck out through the bloody wound and his face had gone white. Kara reached for him to try and stop the bleeding, but more sparks and debris rained down on them. Helo used his body to shield Gaeta as best he could, but the jarring motions of the ship caused him to cry out in agony.
"Kara!" Helo shouted. "Get us out of here, now!" She pushed herself up and lunged for the FTL controls. She saw Sam bent over a limp Seelix, saw Athena wrench at the controls of the ship, trying uselessly to maneuver them away from the fray. Shutting it out as best she could she turned her attention to the board. Her hand paused over the controls, a strange feeling of purpose washing over her, and her eyes drifted closed for a moment.
"Kara!" someone shouted. She couldn't even tell who anymore. She opened her eyes and began punching in numbers. She didn't know where they were coming from, didn't know where they would lead. But she knew they weren't random. Somehow she knew this wasn't a blind jump. She grabbed the jump key, rammed it home and twisted.