They found Earth. Starbuck found her charred and blackened body in her downed Viper. Starbuck did what Starbuck does best when there's nothing left to fight. She ran.
Leoben did was Leoben has always been destined to do.
He followed her.
They travel north for a day and a night and into another day. Kara runs on anger; when her anger cools, it's fear that drives her on. She doesn't talk to him, except to tell him once that he's frakking crazy if he still thinks she's got some special purpose, but she doesn't shoot him either. He tries to take that as a sign, but his odds haven't been so good lately for him to believe in it. She's cold and quiet as the body they left behind in the cockpit.
On the afternoon of the second day they pass a signpost. More of a monument, really. A chunk of weathered granite sticking out of a tuft of earth with the words Canada and United States and arrows pointing ahead and behind. Below that, in script not much smaller, Duty Free off to the left. Leoben looks where the arrow is pointing, but all he sees are clouds, flat-bottomed and impossibly tall and dark against the washed out expansive sky. The wind cuts ribbons through their jackets and bends the dry grass around them almost flat.
Leoben thinks, not for the first time, about prophesies and snakes.
Kars sniffs. Her nose is red and her lips are chapped, her ears tucked under ratty shirt she'd pulled from her pack that morning and tied around her head to keep in some of the heat, but she doesn't let the cold stop her from pressing on. Or turning back. They're in the middle of a big wide-open nowhere and they're going to need shelter by nightfall.
And shelter they do find. But then it's snowing hard pellets of ice in great swirling gusts that force their eyes to slits and rips their breath away as they lean into the assault with their shoulders shrugged tight.
It's not much; four wooden walls peppered with knotholes and a swayback roof, but it cuts the wind some and it keeps them dry. They dig a rusted metal drum out of the pile of junk and snow behind the shack, and by the time they've scavenged enough firewood to catch a spark, the place is as good and warm as anything they had on New Caprica that first and only winter.
The real find, for Kara at least, is the still.
Not that there is grain to ferment, or clean water to cook it with, but it means that there's more to this stout little shack than meets the eye. An hour's worth of poking and kicking at the frozen dirt floor and she finds it; the pull-ring is tarnished, but intact, and has in fact fared better than the trap door it's attached to. It rips loose in Kara's hand with a harsh crack that lands her hard on her ass. She swears, but Leoben catches the hint of fire that hasn't been there since the last time she killed him.
The contents of the shallow root cellar have mostly rotted away; the jars tipped and shattered, the plastic bins crumbled to little more than blue and green dust. Even the small metal box is dented, which makes popping the lock nothing more than a sleight of hand. Some rodent had nested and then became trapped and died in there. Kara picks the toothpick bones from the shreds of pink and brown and green currency papers and holds them up to the light, then dumps the whole thing, box and money and bones and all, into the fire.
The ceramic jug is the real prize.
One sniff to confirm her suspicions, one tip into the fire as proof. The alcohol catches instantly and bursts in a ball of blue flame. She laughs and takes a swig. Leoben watches her eyes water as she holds the liquor in her mouth to taste it.
"Careful." he tells her, "You're either going to poison yourself or burn us down." But she just shakes her head and swallows.
"Hey," she says as she doesn't cough or choke. "This is my funeral, right?" The wind gusts harder and the shack groans its agreement. Kara doesn't offer him the jug either.
Leoben falls asleep at some point, though he can't pinpoint the time; his internal chronometer is as faulty and variable as the humans he's patterned after. It's near impossible to hear anything beyond the howl of the wind through the eaves and the pop and crackle as Kara feeds the fire, and the sky gave up the last of the daylight hours ago. He wakes to the sound of silence and the empty jug beside him on the dirt floor.
He wakes to laughter.
The storm had passed during the night, as storms tend to do. Leoben pushes against the half-open door and finds the world has been turned white. Except for the sky. It's a brilliant icy blue that makes his eye water to look at. It stretches from horizon to horizon with the most color he's seen on this washed out, dead planet. The air is still painfully cold, enough to pinch his throat and squeeze his lungs. Ice crystals hang in the air and sparkle like a thousand far-off stars.
Kara stands before him, back turned, face towards the sky. She blows out a breath in a puff of steam and laughs again. She seems lighter than he remembers from the night before.
Three days ago Leoben witnessed Starbuck's death. This morning he watches Kara's resurrection.
So it has been written.