Title: Drink in the Dawn
Disclaimer: not mine, not for profit.
Notes: Written for the intoabar ficathon on livejournal. Prompt was "Kara Thrace walks into a bar and meets...Jackie Tyler!" Unbeta'd.

And we'll drink out old memories and we'll drink in the dawn.
-Richard Thompson, "Waltzing's for Dreamers"


When Kara walks into this dimly-lit hovel in what she's been told is the worst part of London (those are always her favorites), she heads straight for the bar. The place is so much like the dive she used to frequent when she was 16 and needed a seedy place that wouldn't look too hard that she forgets where she is for a second. The word "ambrosia" is on the tip of her tongue before she remembers and swallows it down.

"Two shots," she says instead, "and a pint of whatever's on tap." That ought to get her started.

It's been a long month. Between quarantine, and customs, and hours of playing nice for diplomats and politicians and lab coats alike she hardly feels like herself anymore. She downs the shots in record time and swallows this slop they call beer as a chaser. Damn, but she misses ambrosia; still, it's a hell of a lot better than Tyrol's rotgut.

Maybe it's time for a good old Drunk & Disorderly. Nothing like an arrest to get the blood pumping. Besides, now that Lee's joined the force it could be double the fun. Yeah, Kara thinks, a Drunk & Disorderly might be nice.

There aren't too many people in the bar on a Thursday night, and Kara is what she considers to be a healthy amount of paranoid, so she takes careful note when another woman settles at the end of the bar, staring at Kara before quickly glancing down and away. Kara surveys the woman out of the corner of her eye. She's older, with long blonde hair and a lot of cosmetics.

And she kind of looks like Kara just killed her puppy.

Gods, Kara thinks as she turns up her glass, she'd better not be another frakking groupie here to stare at the 'alien.' How they pick her out, she has no idea, but in the weeks since the Earth authorities let her loose, Kara's attracted far too many conspiracy theorists and alien enthusiasts.

As the evening gets older, Kara gets a little bit drunk and she notices the older woman getting a lot drunk.

Bored, Kara is about to head over to the poker table (she's running low on pounds, could use a refill) when the woman from the end of the bar stumbles over and drops into the seat next to Kara, nearly falling into her.

Curiosity stills Kara for just a moment, just long enough for the woman to start talking.

"You know, you go about your day, you get up, you go to the shop, you see people, you eat, you sleep, you wash your clothes—and hers too—and you watch a bit of telly and then maybe you sit down for a cup of tea, or you head down to the pub, and…"

She trails off, staring maudlinly into her glass. Kara tries to catch the bartender's eye, but his attention is elsewhere. It would appear that the drunk stranger, then, is talking to her. Well frak, Kara thinks. Why her? She really tries not to be approachable, tries not to look like anybody's frakking shrink. So why is this woman practically crying on her?

She's not drunk enough for this.

"Always listening," the woman mutters. "You get to be always listening for that sound, that bloody sound. Can't get on with your life 'cause you get to hearing it in your sleep even, and then just when you're starting to, to relax you hear it and then you're up and running…"

Kara bites the inside of her cheek, thinks she can almost hear the sirens and Felix Frakking Gaeta's voice over the intercom, Action stations, action stations—set Condition One throughout the ship…

" 'Cept the worst is when you think you hear it but you're wrong, and then you're just standing there alone."

Kara knows it's normal. Knows every damn one of them who made it through the war is just this side of crazy. She knows she isn't the only one to wake in the middle of the night with sweat-damp hair sticking to her face and neck. Hell, sometimes she still startles awake after 33 minutes.

Maybe this woman isn't from Earth. Maybe she is a Colonial after all. Certainly sounds frakked up enough to qualify, and maybe that could explain why she is here, talking to Kara.

Kara stares at her empty glass. Frak it. Without really knowing why, she calls out to the barkeep. One more round, on her.

The other woman doesn't say anything as the bartender sets the shots in front of them. She doesn't even take the glass, just stares at it.

Grimacing, Kara downs her own drink. "What's your name?" she says.

" 'M Jackie," she says. "Jackie Tyler."

Jackie's Tyler's head is drooping ominously. Kara frowns, thinks maybe another drink isn't such a good idea. No problem. She snags the shot glass with one hand before Jackie's head drops to the bar. Kara downs this drink too. She needs it if she's really about to take care of some stranger who can't hold her liquor.

With a scowl, Kara gets to her feet and grabs the woman's arm, pulling her up and into her side. Jackie's head rolls slightly, and her gaze is distant as she speaks.

"Thought, for a second, when I walked in, saw you sitting there…but only a second."

They start moving, though the woman's steps are slow and cautious. But Kara is determined and soon enough, they're outside. The woman straightens somewhat in the crisp night air, her eyes finding Kara's.

"You look like her. My daughter. Only not really. Just a little, from the back. But you en't. Wonder sometimes…if she'll come back and I won't know her, won't even recognize her…" She pulls away from Kara and looks back down at the ground. "You should call your mother."

Kara hisses in a breath, says nothing.

Suddenly, the woman's head snaps up and she looks more alert than Kara thought possible.

"You hear that?"

All Kara hears is the approaching taxi, and she says so. But once she's packed Jackie Tyler into the cab, and once the car is driving away, just two vanishing points of light in the darkness, Kara keeps standing there.

She wraps her arms around herself and shivers slightly. It's just the climate. She's not used to it yet, that's all. She would've gone someplace tropical, maybe someplace with a beach, only Lee had liked it here and gods damn her but she was tired of moving.

She can almost hear something. A sound, a siren—

Kara turns, walks back into the bar. The noise of the crowd wraps around her like an embrace, and, like an embrace, she wishes it could wash away everything else.